Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let's just open "the whole can of worms", shall we?

Part One: Muslims

What do I think of Muslims as a whole? Well, I really can't answer this as a whole. It appears to me that there are Muslims who are very zealous or go to extremes with regard to Islam either by way of the Koran or through religious leaders. But it also appears as though there are moderate Muslims - those who do live peacably and do not fully or religiously adhere to Islam (but likely do in part) or those who are at heart very zealous and go to extremes but live as though they do not in order to deceive. And then there are Muslims who have either publicly or privately converted to Christianity or other religions or have no religious convictions or beliefs at all. I would say this is a good summary and that this makes Muslims no different from any other ethnicity or culture or race who have varying beliefs and responses to such beliefs or who have no religious convictions at all.

So, what do I respect or appreciate about Muslims? I appreciate that they are no more or less blinded by Satan than I was before I was saved or with regard to anyone else who has not fully surrendered their lives to Christ (the Son of Almighty God) in humility through repentance, baptism and the receiving of God's Holy Spirit. We must reach out to Muslims as Christians when possible: with the same love, grace and compassion that we received ourselves and that we would (and should) offer others who are not Muslims.

I think one of the reasons that hatred has grown so rampantly especially here in the United States and throughout the world and why so many Muslims either want to come here and cause harm here or terror throughout the world and are filled with so much additional anger and rage (in addition to what Satan had alredy filled those who are zealous and radical) is because on and after 9/11 anyone even closely resembling a many were treated poorly and/or judged because of the way they looked or because of how they dressed...many of whom weren't even of middle eastern descent or who were Muslims but not even religiously tied to Islam. The other problem is I believe Muslims were the patsy of 9/11. I'm not saying radical Muslims didn't willingly participate...I'm saying there is equal blame and fault with and which belongs to the Bush administration and many government officials (many who are probably still a part of the U.S. government unfortunately and government officials who I doubt were and/or are limited to the U.S. government). I hate that the concentration of the blame was on Muslims and that so many have died as a result. For as many Muslims as there are who are wolves in sheep's clothing, there were and are just as many to be blamed within the Bush administration, in the U.S. government and likely government officials from other countries in the world. I know this is not a popular view but I know it is the right one. And we owe many Muslims here and throughout the world who do live peaceably an apology for making them the focus of evil on and after 9/11 - they have lost so many loved ones and so many of whom have sought democracy in their countries and now suffer. We have not put enough focus on the evil of those who were a part of the Bush administration (including President George W. Bush and those just below him and on down), those who were a part of the U.S. government at that time and played a role, those who are still a part of government employment and played a role and those government officials from other countries in the world who took their part but again: not forgetting those Muslims who did and who still seek evil and cause harm and terror throughout the world (particularly towards Israel which angers me greatly) but no one should put the whole emphasis of the blame for 9/11 on Muslims but equally where it does belong with regard to the Bush administration and government officials who knowingly took part and allowed this tragedy to happen which affected so many throughout the world. But with this too - how government officials participated in and allowed such a heinous act: now is not the time to overly concern ourselves with such - I say, let God deal with 'em (see Romans 12:19). We have enough to worry about here in the U.S. in particular with regard to the coming election - get out and vote and vote wisely (I will share more on who I support, why and who I would like to see as a running mate for this candidate as soon as possible or if these things are still legitimate by the time I get to writing abou them, lol with regard to the coming Iowa caucus on Tuesday if I am not able to update my blog before then).

What I also appreciate and respect of Muslims is the modest dress of the women. I'm not talking about the women all dressed in black and with very little of their face showing and who are willingly evil and zealous themselves for Islam and Satan. This past summer God put me in a position to begin to see more of the Muslim population that exists even here in Kalamazoo, MI. I started taking notice of husbands treat wives, their children, how wives act in public, etc. I noticed one thing in particular from a couple that I observed (I am a true people watcher - not a judge, just like to observe and this is natural for me) - I noticed a woman that had a beautiful navy blue chemise on and the head scarf she was wearing was particularly beautiful...the scarf appeared to be of more than one color although not overly bright but possibly with some shimmer or sparkle to it. My heart was softened by how modestly she was dressed - by what she wore but also by how reserved the couple was. I got to thinking: "What if they don't know Christ?" "What if they are not religious?" "What if no one ever approaches them because of how they are dressed...because they appear to be Muslims?" But the most important thing I want to that I was upset by the fact that here was a woman, probably more submissive to her husband and maybe even more loved and loving than myself or any other "Christian" or Christian woman I have ever known. I was very humbled by these thoughts and I was frustrated too that I couldn't dress as simply, comfortably and modestly as this woman. Suddenly my jeans felt too tight and my t-shirt too. I began wondering how I come across to people? I felt as though I was dressed in such a way that I was allowing people to get too much of a look at what size of a body I have and with the clothing that I wear how certain parts have a tendency to stick out more than others and draw inappropriate attention. I was embarrassed and angry with the fact that I wasn't dressed more modestly and felt as though I can't because it might draw even more attention to me (which I honestly do not want if it can be helped). I could dress more modestly...but the "Christian" alternatives out there do not even begin to compare with the simplicity and probably much, much, much more cost effectiveness of one or more chemise. I mean, they appear to be easy to make, are not of more than one color of fabric and the head scarves - when worn properly and not so tight - add a certain classy femininity to a woman's attire. And although such dress is different from what we are used to here (well, at least most of us when considering caucasian women such as myself), it's really not that bad; is it?! Different isn't bad, it's just different. I also began thinking of Scripture too in regard to a woman's appearance as some time ago I began being burdened and convicted to let my hair grow out and not only that but would it be proper for me, in some instances; to wear a head scarf? Now, I'm not going to start some out of place controversy here but yet I am going to make justifications that are Biblical at the same time without apology. I want to share two verses of Scripture to begin with and then continue on:

1 Corinthians 11:15
King James Version (KJV)
But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

1 Corinthians 11:16
King James Version (KJV)
But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

It is clearly Biblical that a woman have long hair but what also is being said that if a woman has long hair, it should not be a question as to whether a woman should wear a head scarf or not because long hair is a woman's covering. Now, here's two more verses of Scripture:

1 Corinthians 11:5-6
King James Version (KJV)
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

What Paul is saying is it is not only a disgrace for a woman to have short hair but she is even more offenseive to God if such a woman does have short hair and is not covered when either praying or prophesying. In fact, Paul says that if a woman with short hair will not be covered: "shorn" such a woman and add to her disgrace and then have her head covered. Why? It is a lesson of both obedience and submission to God and our husbands - to the leaders in our churches (where and when appropriate, ultimately women are fully subject to God and/or their husbands first and must never be unruly or unjustly overdominated by any man other than God and/or their husbands per Scripture - see Ephesians 5:24 - this means a single woman must not be manipulated or dominated by leaders in the Church but ultimately to God and if you are being treated in such a manner either as a single woman or married woman in a Church - get out and find a new church where you are treated properly). But back to the matter at hand - being obedient and submissive is where particularly American and European women have failed so miserably. We must be honest about this. So, what about me? I submit to my husband where and when appropriate as I should but I would remind the reader that my husband has asked me to lead where hs has not been called nor does he desire to serve and this suits to fit how God has called me. I do not "Lord" myself over my husband or anyone. I willingly submit myself to the leaders of my church but if asked or allowed, I would graciously serve in any way that would be pleasing to both God, the leadership of the church and the congregation.

*Note - obviously some women cannot help but have short hair or no hair at all because of surgery or cancer or other illness - but, in these cases; it would be proper then to stay covered because we should be in prayer at all times so if you are unable to have long hair for whatever reason - stay covered as Scripture above is clear in these cases. But those of you who make exuses, "I like short hair." or "I look better with short hair." or "Short hair is easier for me to do." Notice how selfish and "me" oriented these statements are. This is saying, in essence; "What is better or easier for me is better than what God has decreed in Scripture." You are taking personal preferences over Scripture and basically thumbing your nose at God. Not such a good thing. I would reconsider.

In response to how God burdened and convicted my heart through both Scripture and the modest and non-oppressive or restrictive dress of some of the Muslim women I have encountered here in Kalamazoo, MI - I decided to begin wearing a head scarf when I felt it was necessary or appropriate. And again, even though I have long hair and this is a covering for me - I do choose to wear scarves in some situations/circumstances but this is a personal choice and you must leave this up to yourselves those of you with long hair. I am just sharing how I have been burdened and convicted. If I am going to wear a scarf when I am out and about in public: I wear it in the car and outdoors but I always remove the scarf from my head when I enter a building (to show that I am not a threat but also not oppressed by the scarf and hopefully this is something that will catch on). And the thing I have found with scarves and unlike baseball caps or stocking caps for winter - they are much less hard on my hair and style I am wearing at the time. And they are also very feminine and frame a woman's face so nicely.

All of this too is part of a project I have decided to call the "Me and My Scarf Project" of which the response so far has been very interesting and somewhat humorous so far...although I know there is a risk in doing this - either by possibly wrongly offending Muslims who may think in error that I am mocking them (they would be so wrong) or wrongly offending a caucasian or someone else who are not Muslims and wrongly assumes I am and I know I could get chewed out or my butt kicked as a result. Folks should know that I will be taking a class in learning how to respond to such folks offensively and defensively and I also carry a knife and other defensive weapons with me wherever I go. But the biggest part of the puropse for this project is to help people see that it is wrong to judge by appearances but also hoping to build a bridge to Muslim women and help build up which I fear is often a feeling of no worth or little worth because of the oppression by men that does exist in the lives of some Muslim women and the lives of so many women outside of Muslim homes. I also hope that scarves are no longer seen as oppressive. Another hope is that Christian men, too; will become more bold to share Christ in their lives and witness to Muslim men so that together Christian and Muslim men can learn what is and what is not appropriate in leading their wives and women in general - not in weakness but in love and strength (notice I put love first). My hope is that more and more Muslims will come to know the love of Christ as a result of what I have shared here and with regard to the "Me and My Scarf Project" and that this will be a part of the revival that the Lord prayed for and so longs for us before believers are called home and that we do our part or suffer loss of rewards if we do not. Please, remember fear is of Satan so share and witness when possible and appropriate but not forgetting that there are times *not* to witness: if you are alone or if you are the opposite sex of the individual or individuals needing to be witnessed to and this is in part because there are Muslims who do hate and want to harm and kill Christians. So we do need to err somewhat on the side of caution and this is what I am going to address now.

For those who are radical or go to extremes as Muslims with regard to Islam - except that they are an example of how Christians are actually to be: Christians should go to extremes and be radical with the love of Jesus - and for those who say they are not Muslims and appear to live as though they are moderate and peace-loving and tolerant of other religions and beliefs and are not and/or either pretend or even act or say they are Christians and are not (we sure know this does exist now don't we)...the best way to deal with this is to pray and not sinking to their level of violence or mocking them or returning hate for hate. And here is where President Barack H. Obama is dead wrong: the sermon on the mount is truth, we must learn from it and is an example for us that we can follow if we are willing and fully humble ourselves and surrender our lives fully to Christ and ask for God's Holy Spirit to help us live as we should. But prayer is our best weapon. That and love and patience and putting on the armor we have been given in Ephesians 6 because the battle we are in is a spiritual one - our's being awake and alive with God's Spirit and their's being awake and alive by Satan. And yes, continuing to turn the cheek - even unto death (see Romans 12:19). This is all I have to say about such.

Matthew 5:44-45
King James Version (KJV)
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Much love to you all in Christ, God bless you!!! ~ Kristi