An Open Letter to my Muslim Friend….Part 1

Dear Friends…

I would like to publish a letter I recently shared with a new Muslim friend I met on social media….

…..For all those who are fortunate to connect and talk with people of different faiths and  various religions….please remember….they are ALL children of OUR God ….. and they have a life story!  And my friend’s story is simply wonderful and so beautiful …I must share!  Originally from Africa….His grandfather gave his land which was located in Africa… many years ago… to Christian missionaries…so they could build a health care clinic to serve those who desperately need care!!  What a wonderful friend I have connected with!  A Christian and a Muslim….having a respectful conversation about God!!!  

PRAISE JESUS……only through Him and His grace

An Open Letter to my Muslim Friend…..

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Dear Muslim Friend, 

Original sin is a Christian doctrine and it began with Adams’ sin of disobedience in eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil….and Adam’s disobedience… affected the rest of the human race….I see it in everything ….Do you?  The evil which exists in the heart of humanity….I possess it… and I fight it every day of my life….but I believe with Jesus’ help…I grow more like Him every day!  There truly is so much evil in our world today!  No one can deny this…

In the Bible, in the very first book of Genesis… you read after the fall of humanity which was brought about by the actions of Adam…you see the first mention of Jesus….  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.  He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel”….Genesis 3:15….

Christians believe that what Jesus did on the Cross ….He crushed the devils head….defeating him forever…”Also known as the “protoevangeluim” ( also known as Genesis 3:15 ) shows us that God always had the plan of salvation in mind, and informed us of His plan as soon as sin entered the world….

Also in the Old Testament…you will find Jesus mentioned in the Scriptures….

Isaiah 7:14….”Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign… The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son …and will call him Immanuel”…

Isaiah 9:6….”For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, …and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”…

On Jesus’ ministry and death….

Psalm 22: 16-18….”Dogs have surrounded me…a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”….

Isaiah 53…..the whole chapter is unmistakable….. It talks of Jesus and Jesus alone…, “He was despised and rejected by men….a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering….Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed Him not…..Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God”…..There are more…the Old Testament definitely foretells the coming of Jesus….as the Messiah… but there are more verses which speaks of Jesus…..

To me…the whole Christian Bible is about Jesus…it really is a love story….beginning in the first book…This is the Christians assurance of salvation…

I am very interested in your views of salvation….May I ask you in complete kindness a question for you to answer??

Do you know for sure you will go to paradise when you die?

Peace,

Kathy

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”….

(Colossians 2: 9 NIV)

“and in Christ ….you have been brought to fullness”…..

(Collosians 2: 10 NIV)

It is nothing I have done dear friend,

….It is only through Christ and Christ alone…..

I love you Jesus……..

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A Song for Today

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.”

(2 Corinthians 12: 8 ESV)

In my darkest seasons and on my weakest days,

Your Grace is sufficient for me.

In my moments of despair and in my hours of sorrow,

Your Grace is sufficient for me.

Your Grace my Lord, Your amazing Grace,

It is sufficient for me. 

A Prodigals Cry

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

(1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)

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I prefer to wear black as opposed to lots of bright color

Warm myself in dark leather as opposed to fur, wool, or polyester

I regret no past piercings or bodily signs of a distant crazed fad

For He transcends all culture, space, and time…

And my heart has always cried out with only one name…Jesus!

I prefer the sounds of a screeching guitar as opposed to a plain and simple melody

With lyrics expressing regretful life-long pain or remorse

I still search for and sing all the familiar songs of my yesteryears

For He transcends all culture, space, and time

And my heart has always sung with only one name…Jesus!

I have walked in the season of darkness but the Light has always been with me

I have numbed my past conscience to avoid facing the pain of a present reality

And I have mostly preferred times of solitude over times of spent togetherness

For He transcends all culture, space, and time

And my heart has always bled out with only one name…Jesus!

I prefer true melancholy over a false sense of joy

I confess I am forever a sinner and will never achieve sainthood

Always uncomfortable around fake righteousness and opaque holiness

For He transcends all culture, space, and time

And my heart has always screamed out with only one name…Jesus!

And when my heart cried out your name… “Jesus!”

How so very fortunate I was to initially meet the loving and welcoming embrace of my Heavenly Father

And not the self-righteousness of one of my many elder brothers (or sisters)

And You simply could not stop kissing me…

And… You simply have not stopped kissing me!!

For You love me so much!

JESUS!

When I come into Your Kingdom

I do not desire a mighty mansion or a brilliant jeweled crown

For I do not deserve such indulgence

For the Glory is Yours…. And Yours alone!

 My only desire is to surround myself with your Presence…

You being forever present with someone like me…

And when my heart screams out your name…. “Jesus!”…

                        There as I stand in your eternal Kingdom               

And I will know You are eternally present with me forever there

And I simply will not be able to stop kissing you…

And, I WILL NOT stop kissing you!!

For I love You so much!

“When the Father’s house is filled with the Father’s love, the prodigals will come home.”

–Rob Parsons

This blog was inspired by the book entitled, “Bringing Home the Prodigals”… by Rob Parsons    

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He Went Willingly!

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV)

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When I think of Christ through the lens of His humanity, I am just in awe and utter disbelief of the sacrifice He was willing to make for all of us!  Christ is fully God and fully Man but it is the Man I love so very much, the Man I cling tightly to for His grace and for His mercy, the Man I scream out for in my earthly discomfort and grief for it was the Man who walked among us, who loved, who thirst, who wept, and who suffered rejection and pain.   It was the Man who was tempted and yet remained sinless through His temptation.  He could have come into this world as a King, yet He came as a suffering servant and became the ransom for all who believe and call upon His name. I cannot imagine the torment and the suffering He endured so that I may be reconciled to the Father and have peace, comfort, and everlasting life… and He went willingly to the Cross….He went willingly…

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15: 13 ESV)

As we celebrate Easter, take a moment to think of His crucifixion and the horrific and tragic end of His earthly life.  But that was truly only the beginning for us…for there would not have been a resurrection without a crucifixion…There are so many similarities between non-believers and believers. We all walk together through this broken and fallen world but for me…I know this simple fact without doubt….. I would rather walk in darkness with Christ then to walk in the daylight without Him.

“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.  They put a staff in his right hand.  Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.  They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.”  (Matthew 27: 28-30 ESV)

We are all human beings…we are all sinners…we are all living in and trying desperately to navigate through a broken and fallen world…we are all made in the image of God…We are all greatly loved by our Heavenly Father… and I realize in all our similarities, as I quickly and humbly remind myself of Christ praying on the Mount of Olives, trying to imagine and conceptualize His blood-stained sweat seeping from every pore as He knelt there in prayer in tremendous agony and despair of the impending torture and crucifixion awaiting Him, that He willingly sacrificed His life so that all of us may live!  He went to the Cross willingly…He went willingly.  The only difference standing between a non-believer and a believer is as a believer, I have accepted the greatest gift to all of humanity and you may have only yet to receive.

He is risen!

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Do you have a friend who is willing to lay down His life for you?  Who do you call out to in times of stress, uncertainty, or defeat?  Is someone there beside you holding your hand in your darkest and weakest despair? 

“For love of you, I left my Father’s side…

I came to you, who ran from me…

Who fled me, who did not want to hear my name.

For love of you, I was covered in spit…

Punched and beaten…

And fixed to the wood of the Cross.”

—Brennan Manning

Generations of Time

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I m sure, dwells in you as well.”  (2 Timothy 1:5 ESV)

Sadly…88 percent of Christians leave the church before the age of 18.  Unfortunately, I am one of those Christians who left the church before the age of 18.  My ideal Christian family was shattered by a father who fell into sexual sin and selfishness.  There was no parental modeling of authentic Christian discipleship in my home, only abandonment, hypocrisy, and rejection. But to my great fortune, in the midst of sinful darkness and human despair, Christ’s presence endured. 

          My paternal grandmother was an authentic Disciple of Christ.  As a very young child, I accompanied her to church on Sunday mornings.  She felt confidently comfortable enough to occupy a pew only a few feet away from the pulpit. My grandfather was a gentle man of few words; he would sit guarding the outside of the pew, I was safely tucked on the inside, and my grandmother sandwiched between the two of us, was the matriarch of strength and endurance.    As an adult woman and mother, I now realize the great depths of grief and heartbreak my father’s actions and behaviors must have been for her…the pangs of maternal doubt and failure she must have struggled with…  but she faithfully continued to walk according to God’s purpose and stay on mission with Christ.  This obviously included taking her newly fatherless and frightened granddaughter to church faithfully every week.  I fondly recall and delight in remembering the Sunday mornings spent in the wooden pew with her just a few feet from the pulpit.   The church service would start promptly with the congregation standing in unity to sing the doxology, as our pastor would quickly raise himself to join in praise and song,  from a red velvet upholstered gold chair which was fit for a king.

           My grandmother was aged and worn by life, warm and plump, her dresses simple and plain, her Bible tattered and torn, and her arms provided the perfect soft and fluffy pillow for my sleepy head to sneak a nap during the sermon.  My naps would not last long though as I was usually aroused violently from sleep by the screaming sermons of a fire and brimstone pastor, preaching a lot of God’s wrath and a little of God’s grace but I eventually came to know my Prince of Peace in that distant far away church and I committed my life to Him there in my weekly sheltered sanctuary. I was baptized in His living water and in the midst of uncertainty, rejection, and abandonment, Christ accepted me as I was, a young child who was just beginning the long and lonely road of a fallen humanity. And much later in life, as despair and darkness reentered like a dagger, His hand is the only one I thought to reach for when I found myself teetering at the edge of a darkened cliff.  I knew for certain I would find Him there for I found Him there many decades ago in the youthful despair of an abandoned childhood and indeed He was there …patiently waiting to welcome me back home.

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“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”(Psalm 78:4 ESV)

My husband and I were blessed with four children… all adults now… two are now happily married with children of their own; two are still living in my home and none of them currently and consistently attend church. They were not raised in church as I was then estranged from the body of Christ.   Last Christmas, my oldest daughter and my beautiful four year old granddaughter accompanied us to a Christmas musical performed at our church.  Sitting there in the wooden pew with my granddaughter planted securely and tightly on her grandmother’s lap, her sleepy head resting on my chest and shoulder, she appeared so excited by the sounds of the various instruments mixing together beautifully and the singing of a harmonious Christmas choir, the angelic sounds of beloved Christmas hymns echoing through the air.   I held her tightly and trembled as I felt myself being transported back in time momentarily to a distant time and in a distant place, and in the painful memory of my broken past where I once laid in the secure and loving embrace of my own grandmother’s arms in my weekly sheltered sanctuary of long ago, this was the blessed and sacred place I initially found my loving Savior waiting.   And in the aching conviction of His Spirit residing now within me, the painful and brutal reality…my own pangs of maternal doubt and failure became known in my present…

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8 ESV)

Two photographs capturing a moment frozen still in time… two photographs eerily similar yet profoundly different.   Two photographs representing over a century and five generations of time…linked by a familial heritage which began thousands of years ago…yet only a few days may have truly come to pass in my Savior’s eternal paradise.  So much has changed, yet so much remains the same.  And Christ endures and remains the same yesterday, today, and forever and never re-defined by the whims of men.  One loved one is now in the joyful everlasting presence of her loving Savior; and one loved one has yet to discover Him … in her fleeting and brief moment of time here on earth. 

 

          Do you have a weekly sheltered sanctuary?  Do you long to return?  Who do you find waiting in your blessed and sacred place?   Do not fear the pain of your past for He is waiting for you in your present.

 

For My Grandma:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.