One of the Genuine Benefits from 9/11

Last night I was with a dear friend of mine and was reminded once again of how long I have known him. Over the years his influence has brought together many Christian leaders in our metro area and as I was introduced to many new Christian leaders last night, we would ask each other how we met our mutual friend.

I met my friend just a few days after 9/11. I had been away on a prayer retreat with other pastors when 9/11 happened. When I got back to town a day later, I immediately called several of my Muslim friends and let them know I was their friend and would always be their friend. If anything happened to them or their place of business, they could call me and I would help with whatever they needed.

Not long after that I made a trip to another Islamic center that was overseeing the mosque six blocks from my church. I asked to see the director, who was also the imam of the mosque. That was the first day I got to meet Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf. That first meeting was very brief. I only introduced myself and let him know I was the pastor a few blocks from the mosque. If there was anything I could do for him, he could let me know.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to bring students and city leaders and congregation members to see Dr. Hamdy. We’ve been to Friday prayers. We’ve been to special Ramadan events.

Last night was an inter-faith event to talk about Ramadan. It is an annual thing at his mosque now. (He moved to lead another mosque near my house.)

One of the genuine benefits from 9/11 was the opportunity to meet Hamdy. He is a man of genuine peace. He genuinely seeks the peace of his city and the welfare of those around him. His generosity is immense. I am so fortunate to call this man my friend.

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The Beginning of Ramadan

Ramadan has begun for Muslims around the world. It is a month of fasting, prayer, and soul searching.

It is a great time to pray for my Muslim friends. Yes… friends.

I have been invited to join a very dear friend at his mosque one time to break the fast.

There is a particular congresswoman I would like to invite along… but I’m sure she’s busy. I tried a certain radio host’s number, but I’m sure he’s busy as well.

That which we do not know we fear.

We are not called to fear. We are called, as believers, to faith. Let us walk in faith and live out to others the power of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Links to Thoughts on 9/11 and Translations

Some thoughts from key leaders HERE about how Christian and Muslim relations are doing ten years after 9/11.

Some thoughts HERE on the need for good translations, even ones we may not personally like. For me, personally, I am still working to become more comfortable with the Common English Bible. The NIV 2011 is by far more “comfortable” for me. Both have a place in my reading, my teaching, and my ministry.

No translation is perfect. Working through the texts certainly is a JOY in Bible reading! When I don’t look for the differences in translation for the purposes of criticism, but rather for the purposes of clarity, I find greater joy in reading.

Ramadan, 9/11, and Prayer

One of the things I was thinking about for remembering 9/11 was actually visiting a mosque. Go to a Friday prayer. In the local mosques visitors are welcome. There is no expectation of following the prayers.

Since I begin teaching next week and my Fridays will be too busy, I went today. It is a mosque I usually visit, though it had been years since I last went.

As I sat and observed, I prayed. I so long for Jesus to be revealed to this group of people. There was nothing flashy about the visit. I didn’t even try to speak to the imam after the service. My presence was only to keep my heart open and pray for the Spirit of Jesus to truly be revealed in their lives.

Today is the last Friday of Ramadan so it is considered a very holy day. The emphasis on Ramadan and the work of God in their lives was taught. The end of Ramadan is a sacred time for them, much like the end of Lent would be for many Christians. There is anticipation.

In the past ten years I have had good Muslim friends, but today I realized those relationships need to be improved. In my busyness I just set aside the time normally used to visit my Muslim friends. I need to restore it in some way.

These are significant days in which we live. We must choose to walk in the Spirit of Messiah. The call of the Kingdom is to bless and to love. Ten years ago on 9/11 I called my Muslim friends to make sure they were okay. This year I will stop by and visit once again.

Lord, teach us to bless and not fear.