Monthly Archives: December 2015

An Iraqi Martyr in Mosul

This year I’ve been reading the stories of many modern-day Christian martyrs. They greatly inspire me, and give me a different perspective on the fear-mongering which afflicts American society. In reality, we live in a country with amazing Christian freedom. We don’t understand what real persecution involves, and what it means to be obedient in the face of death. But many Christians around the world live with this constantly.

This morning I read the story of Shukri, an Iraqi Muslim from Fallujah–charismatic, witty, the type of person everybody likes and enjoys being around, who makes you laugh. The life of every party. He became a Christian, along with his family, through the witness of other Iraqi Christians. They, in turn, led many others to Christ.

Then they felt God definitely calling them to the ISIS stronghold of Mosul. In ancient times, Mosul was the city of Nineveh, where God called Jonah. They viewed themselves as following in Jonah’s path.

So the entire family moved to Mosul, and Shukri began distributing Bibles in a mosque. One morning, during his private time of worship, he sensed God telling him, “Today is the day you will see me.” He told his wife this before he left for the mosque. Sure enough, he was accosted on the street by a group of ISIS men, horribly tortured, and then killed.

But he was exactly where God wanted him to be.

His wife stayed. She led two couples in their apartment building to Christ, and before long, 23 believers were meeting for worship in the middle of the night. The family was eventually forced to relocated to Erbil. But she wrote, “Many more are interested in knowing our wonderful Savior. They are desperately afraid of ISIS and need the hope the Gospel gives them. By staying in Iraq, we show that Jesus is our Protector and that we do not fear the sinister works of men.”

(From the book “Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where it’s Not Safe to Believe.”)

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Happy Thoughts

Providing Christmas cheer. I received an email from American Patriot Daily News Network, whose tagline is “Helping You Live the American Dream.” It began with these happy thoughts for the holidays:

“It’s like handing your enemy a loaded shotgun — and then wrapping your mouth around the barrel…Buried in the sea of refugees flooding the United States lurk the bloodthirsty ISIS thugs who stand ready to bring the barbaric brand of terrorism to our shores. And unless you act today, I’m worried this madness will not stop until our country starts pulling severed heads off the streets and dead bodies out of the rubble.”

Apparently, to stop the impending carnage I must sign their petition and send them money. The only question is…who exactly are you?

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At the Dentist’s

This morning I had my semi-annual dental cleaning. Lonnie has been my hygienist for at least ten years. She’s very gentle…which is such a contrast to her predecessor.

The previous hygienist came from a long line of prison wardens, but broke from the family business. She always attacked my teeth with a vengeance, intermittently asking me, “Is it safe?” She’s the only hygienist to keep a barber’s strop hanging from the chair, which she uses throughout the ordeal to sharpen her instruments. Her goal, which she always accomplished, was to reduce me to tears. That always made her smile in an evil sort of way.

The cover story is that she left to have a baby, but my understanding is that shadowy government operatives offered the chance to refine her techniques at Guantanamo. In fact, I heard that her efforts yielded information which led us to bin Laden. So in a small way, I feel I contributed to history and national security and should, perhaps, receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom for my suffering.

Anyway, I do appreciate Lonnie. Getting my teeth cleaned is, now, a somewhat pleasant experience. (I may have exaggerated somewhat about her predecessor.)

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“We Salute the Rank, Not the Person.”

winters-sobel

I grew up with a deep respect for the office of President. It’s how I was raised, in a different time. It doesn’t mean I’m a fan of everyone who holds that office–by no means. But each one has been THE American president–MY president. I think of the line from Band of Brothers, when a rival of Major Winters tries to walk past without acknowledging him. Winters stops Captain Sobel and admonishes, “We salute the rank, not the man.”

I personally choose to believe that every president has had the country’s best interests at heart. They also all lie, possess enormous helpings of ego and ambition, and exhibit numerous other characteristics a Christian must label as sin…yet each one is MY president. I can dislike, even detest, certain policies and actions they advocate (abortion and torture come to mind)…but still MY president.

So I have great difficulty with the way so many people, Christians and nonChristians, demonize and mock President Obama. It goes way beyond what was directed at GW Bush. One Christian lady here on Facebook recently blustered, “I call him Lucifer.” The way I see people talking about President Obama far exceeds the vigorous policy discourse we cherish in America. He’s a Muslim, a communist, a nazi, not really an American, out to destroy Christianity, the anti-Christ, a traitor, against everything our country stands for. Such baseless demonization is, to me…unbecoming of a Christian. It grieves my heart.

That’s not how I was raised. And I refuse to give in to it (though I’ve crossed my own lines sundry times). Whether the next president is President Clinton or President Trump, that person will be MY president–and YOUR president. I will have profound disagreements with either one. But IF you choose to believe the Bible, that person will be the authority “which God has established.” It’s a biblical concept I don’t understand, and I want to point at all kinds of tyrants and say, “But what about…?” Yet it’s right there, in Romans. Deal with it.

Though I will voice my policy differences with conviction and with every writing tool at my disposal, including heaping spoonfuls of sarcasm, I’m gonna salute the Office of President. And I can’t do that while demonizing the person who holds the title. The Presidency belongs to all Americans, not just to whatever party occupies the White House. As an American, respecting the Presidency seems like the patriotic thing to do. And as a Christian, it just seems right.

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The Woman in the Burger Joint

12346569_10153453637563558_1718509235430568008_nPam and I ate at Five Guys (Times Corners) on Saturday. As we ate, a young woman–late 20s, I figured–came in wearing a hijab and what I will describe, in no doubt unlearned lingo, as Middle Eastern attire. As she picked up her order, one of the employees, a young black fellow, engaged her in brief conversation. She responded with a big smile and abundant personality.

As she ate, I kept glancing her way. She was just an ordinary young woman eating a cheeseburger and fries while reading a book. Yet she also represented the fears and hatred of so many Americans. I considered going over and asking her if people in Fort Wayne ever gave her a hard time about being Muslim, but I didn’t. I assume she endures some of that, like derogatory remarks thrown her way from passing cars.

Another thing occurred to me. Everybody in that restaurant knew she was (most likely) a Muslim. Nobody knew I was a Christian.

As the woman finished her meal and headed for the door, the young black man behind the counter called out, “Thanks for coming, ma’am.” He didn’t say that to anyone else–just her. I’m going to guess that he was trying, in a small way, to compensate for the attitude of so much of society. Good for him. We should all think that way.

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Reporting from the War on Christmas Frontlines

Please, please, enough with the, “I know it’s politically incorrect, but I’m gonna say Merry Christmas.” Let me just stipulate in advance that, yes, you are a remarkably spiritual person, as is everyone who says Merry Christmas. It is, indeed, the mark of a true Christian. In fact, there is no better way to win the world to Christ than by shouting “Merry Christmas!” on every street corner. But I think people have gotten the idea, and we can back off just a bit without undermining the Great Commission. Some people might even view us Christians as a little less annoying.

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