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Archive for June, 2009

If Muslims really believe Islam is the truth and they care at all about me they will tell me why I should be a Muslim. That is why I felt loved when I read this post from Suhaib Wahib.

Was MJ a Muslim?

Asalamu alaykum,

Not sure. But I know one thing, my neighbors are not. Perhaps I need to rethink my priorities?


Likewise, if I really believe Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) then out of love for my Muslim neighbors I will tell them.

Why are we so afraid of people of other faiths seeking to convince us of its truth? Why are we so afraid to try and convince other people of the truth of Jesus Christ as he is revealed in the Bible?

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What about you?

HT: Smiling in Syria – this a fun blog from an American teenager who has lived her whole life in the Middle East.

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When mankind was created, we were created in a position of honor. We were exalted over the rest of creation, for we alone were created in the image of God. We had a special position before God in which we were able to live in his presence, near to him in the Garden of Eden. Of course, this special position was lost and shame entered the world, but we must not let sin cause us to forget the honor of being made in the image of God.

Psalm 8 is very helpful in drawing our eyes to the wonder of the honor given to men. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1). David begins with the declaration that God’s name is majestic and his glory is so great that it is above the heavens. There is none like God who created all things. He is above all and he is the one with the greatest honor.

It is the truth that God is high above all things that causes David to wonder, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him” (Psalm 8:3-4)? The heavens do declare the glory of God and thus they also declare the insignificance of man. Yet, God is mindful of man and cares for him. God not only notices man, but he thinks about him, remembers him, and cares for him. This is stunning.

What is even more amazing is the place that God has assigned to man in the universe. “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5-6). Yes humans are nothing more than grasshoppers in comparison to God, indeed, they are less than that (see Isaiah 40). And yet God has set man over all things and made him only a little lower than the “heavenly beings”.

Read the other posts in this series:

Part 1, “Introduction”
Part 2, “What Are Honor and Shame?”
Part 3, “The Honor of Man”
Part 4, “The Shame of Sin”
Part 5, “The Honor of the King (God’s Anointed One)”
Part 6, “Honor Comes through the Shaming of Your Enemies”
Part 7, “Honor, Shame and Salvation”
Part 8, “Honor through the Shame of the Messiah”
Part 9, “We Need More than a Messiah”

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My wife and I watched The Express: The Ernie Davis Story last night. It’s about Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy (given to the best player each year in college football). We all know America’s ugly history of racism, but it was shocking again to see it played out during his life 50 years ago.

I especially get angry when people use Jesus Christ as rationale for their racism. In the movie there is a scene when Syracuse (Davis’ team) was playing against Texas in the Cotton Bowl. The Texas players had been making racial slurs the entire game and one of them asked the center before the ball was snapped, “Aren’t you ashamed as a white Christian to play with them?” The center responds, “Nope. I’m Jewish.”

This is so frustrating because not only is racism sinful in Christianity, but more importantly, it is a denial of the gospel. It is a rejection of the glorious truth that Jesus Christ died on a cross for all sinners to redeem people from every tongue, tribe and race for God. The Bible is clear on this.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. – Ephesians 2:13-21

Jesus Christ is our peace, for he has removed the dividing wall between all peoples. All those who are in Christ are reconciled to God in one body.

There are lots of walls between so many different peoples today. We need to hear again and again that Jesus Christ tears those walls down. Like Jesus, we need to preach peace.

Back to Ernie Davis

Tragically Ernie Davis died when he was only 23 years old. But in that short time he accomplished much, not only in football, but in building a more just society. The movie gives the answer for how he was able to accomplish so much and I agree heartily. In the beginning you see Ernie’s grandfather teaching him this verse, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

For football fans, check out this short clip of Ernie Davis playing.

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There is no greater calling than being a parent. There is no weightier, more humbling or more fulfilling calling than being a parent. The Bible tells us plainly that we are to bring up our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). That is no small task.

The significance of parenting is felt by Christians and Muslims alike. Sr. Maryam is right when she writes:

Your children are a trust. Your desire to financially provide for your children is honorable and praiseworthy. But realize that in the end, regardless of how much you are able to materialistically provide for them, what they would have appreciated most as a child, and what they will inshaAllah value limitlessly as an adolescent and as an adult, is their ability to connect with the father or mother who has nurtured them and showed undivided interest in them from birth.

We won’t be able to give this love, though, unless we are first captivated and awed by the love of God. To rightly parent children through all the little things in life we first need a vision of the greatness of our Creator and his purposes in the world. John Piper says this so well:

The women who flourish most and who delight most in that calling [motherhood]—and who are best at it—are not women whose lives are circumscribed by their houses. They are women who are aware of the world. They’re aware of God’s global purpose. They’re aware of the ultimate purposes of God in history. They’re aware of things in history and in the far off reaches of the world today that God is doing.

So what is the most important thing we can do to grow as parents? Know God. Simple. Yet, impossible apart from divine grace.

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The question of how to define honor (or glory) and shame is difficult. They can mean many different things in different contexts. We can speak of the glory or honor of men (Psalm 4:2) or the glory of God (Psalm 24:10). Glory or honor is something that can be ascribed (Psalm 29:2) or something given (Psalm 84).

The main Hebrew word translated as glory or honor has at its root the meaning of “heavy”. This idea of something being heavy carries with it a sense of weightiness and thus worthiness. Most clearly this is seen in the depictions of God and his glory. For example, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). When we see the heavens we see the masterful work of a great Creator and therefore we see that this Creator is worthy of glory and honor.

When we read of the glory of man we see that this glory is not something that resides in him as it does in God. Rather it is given and it is a blessing. Psalm 8 is a good example of this, “You have made [man] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). The glory and honor of man is something that God gave when he created mankind.

Another very important aspect of honor is relationship within a community. David McIlroy says, “Honour is a relational concept. It is a way of maintaining a group’s reputation and identity.”[1] There must be a recognition of honor by others for someone to truly be honored, meaning; someone cannot honor himself if no one joins him.

Shame, on the other hand, is more than just an absence of honor. It is both a feeling and a state of being. To be shamed is to be abased and dishonored, to be rejected from the community. To feel ashamed is to feel the pain and embarrassment of this disapproval and rejection. We feel the power of shame in Psalm 44. “You [God] have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies . . . You have made us a byword among the nations. . . All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face at the sound of the taunter and reviler. . .” (Psalm 44:9, 14, 15-16).

In order to fully understand honor and shame, we must see that they are both experienced in relationship with others. This will be flushed out more in other posts, but we can already see it in the verses quoted. In Psalm 44 the psalmist feels the shame of being rejected by God, that is, he has been pushed away from God’s presence so that God is no longer going out with their armies (he is no longer acting for them). The king in Psalm 21 is given great honor in God’s presence, “[The king’s] glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence” (Ps 21:5-6).

Being put to shame, whether by the community or by God, is being rejected and pushed away. Being honored is being received and welcomed; it is being lifted up into relationship.


[1] David McIlroy, “Honour and Shame,” Cambridge Papers: Towards a Biblical Mind 14/2 (2005), 2.

Read the other posts in this series:

Part 1, “Introduction”
Part 2, “What Are Honor and Shame?”
Part 3, “The Honor of Man”
Part 4, “The Shame of Sin”
Part 5, “The Honor of the King (God’s Anointed One)”
Part 6, “Honor Comes through the Shaming of Your Enemies”
Part 7, “Honor, Shame and Salvation”
Part 8, “Honor through the Shame of the Messiah”
Part 9, “We Need More than a Messiah”

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One label: Human

I was happy to read remarks given by Imam Benjamin Bilal at the Inter-Faith Peace Conference held June 7th at The Ahmadiyyah Community of Bait-uz-Zafar. He makes the same point as I did in my previous post – humanity is our common denominator.

My concluding message is to Muslims all over the world: Let us do our best to remain true to our label. Our Muslim identity is our human identity. . . Let us all rally around one label: “Human”! And let us bring our sensitivities and sensibilities back to that which is pleasing to the Creator and which serves the best interest of all creatures; a sacred regard for all, and the promotion of human excellence.

Read his whole message.

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