Amazing. Grace.

23 Jun

It continues to amaze me how our love for our Muslim neighbors just keeps sending out ripples across the country and the world. Just this week I was interviewed by an author who is writing about Christian/Muslim relations, and he wanted to tell our story as an example of tolerance and interfaith cooperation. Then I got notified that I (as a representative of Heartsong) have been chosen by the Facing History and Ourselves project to be one of 24 Upholders whose picture and story will be part of the national exhibit when it comes to Memphis on September 11. This morning I got an email from someone that was supercilious and pedantic in tone scolding me for our act of love and acceptance.
Why is it so hard for some people to realize that all we ever do as Heartsong is love and accept people? We do that without regard for what they believe or what they may have done or how they are living. Our belief is that if we love them as Jesus teaches us to do, he will work on their hearts and minds and souls to lead them to wherever they need to be in their lives. It’s all about grace-the all out love of God for us-intensely,actively, specifically, delivered personally by the Holy Spirit. That is God’s attitude toward us and it is to be our attitude toward all others-all the time-as all costs.
If you see standing with true American Muslims as a civil rights issue, comfort yourself that you would have been on the right side of history in the US in the 60’s and in Germany in the 40’s. If you see it as a matter of faith-you stand with Jesus.

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10 Responses to “Amazing. Grace.”

  1. RODNEY KNOLTON June 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Hey Steve,
    The last sentence of this blog is most thought provoking and exemplifies what I love most about Heartsong and the direction you offer. Grace and love, in thought and action. Always.
    Respectfully,
    Rodney

    • stevestonesr June 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

      What else is Jesus following, Brother, if not grace and love in action? You are right on!

  2. Linda Rudder June 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Hi brother Steve, I enjoy reading your blog. I know these struggles you go through are the High places of God, because that is when we tend to clamor to Him most. I don’t have to convince to you of my deep love, compassion and appreciation for what God has bestowed for my sake through your deep desire in relationship with Him. Nothing could ever come between our loving connection to each other and God because He has placed it there for Himself ! This is what our Father lays on my heart to share……Acceptance is defined as favorable reception; approval; favor; the act of assenting or believing. God’s love stems from His grace or unmerited favor. In as much, while we were still sinners He provided forgiveness through the redemptive work of Christ’s cross death. He accepted that we will sin, and provided a way through which we could transform to His likeness by accepting Him back freely in Christ Jesus. I believe you said it best Steve, “Jesus meets us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there. Alternatively, “tolerance” does not describe any form of Christ-like love. Do we tolerate our marriage? Children, grandchildren, friends? My guess is that as a shepherd to these and your flock you accept any defective behavior and steward them through Holy Spirit truth regarding appropriate behavior, attitudes, and thinking. This is perseverance, knowing beyond deception that if Jesus could change you, then He can do it for those He entrusts you stewardship over. Tolerance is defined as forming interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to “one’s own”; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. God warns us through His love for us about who we endorse and fellowship with because we begin to take on the very traits, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, that He encourages us to to transcend. Remember Eve & the snake? Yep, been going on a while. Tolerance is a stronghold independent of trusting God and His will and care for our lives. We must not judge anyone of course, love abounds in “do unto others as we we (in Christ) would have others do unto us” ! Also known as the “Golden Rule” …It displays a merciful healthy boundary and keeps our side of the street clean for our own sanity.

    1 Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

    No matter how Godly I live my life in front of another, or what I teach through the wisdom God has given me….only the Holy Spirit can convict and only God can grow us. Our purpose is simply planting and watering. Beyond that it …….perhaps unwittingly becomes “our own” crusade….and lines begin to blur and compromise becomes the new tolerance. Brotherly love and acceptance is far from getting involved in, petitioning for, upholding and promoting another’s Kingdom over, above and contrary to God’s. Brother… I don’t think that is your intention nor heart. I do believe that you believe “Our belief is that if we love them as Jesus teaches us to do, he will work on their hearts and minds and souls to lead them to wherever they need to be in their lives.”

    I only offer obediently where the controversy may stem from, because of use of negative words like “tolerance”, perceptions and expectations. Acceptance and tolerance are simply not synonymous and you can’t force it to be what it is not. Sometimes we contribute to perception unintentionally. Remember per recovery 101…their perception is the only one that matters, and expectations are premeditated resentments. Continue to cast all your cares on Jesus and let all your expectations be of God. Praise God! that is how we get things done, not by taking responsibility upon ourselves, but by responding to HIS ability through Christ’s strengthening power.

    I am not smart enough to get it perfect….I just love you Brother Steve and want to be an empty vessel to be filled with His love and grace so that it overflows and blesses others.

    • stevestonesr June 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

      Hey Linda. Tolerance and interfaith cooperation was the perspective taken by the author who wanted to hear our story. Those are civil terms about how what we have done and continue to do as viewed by society. The way we view it is absolutely and totally as a witness to our love for Jesus and those he teaches us to love-everyone. We love everyone all the time in every way he leads us to at every cost it exacts from us. We love because he first loved us. Cautions about tolerance are not needed. It is not a matter of tolerance, acceptance or any other thing than obeying the one who died for us-all.

      • Linda Rudder June 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

        Amen, Continue to cast all your cares on Jesus and let all your expectations be of God.

  3. Connie Shaw June 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    Does the last paragraph mean we would’ve allowed the Holocaust to happen because we were good Germans or join the KKK? I like what Linda said about the difference between tolerance and acceptance. I am still having trouble with the ‘peaceful’ religion in the world news because something is happening everyday on that front. Maybe it is too hard to ‘love one another’ as we should at least for me anyway. I am concerned that once the Muslim population in America reaches a certain percentage, they will demand more changes in our laws as in Europe. Assimilation is the key, not segregation, in my opinion, such that it is. I

    I say we can love one another but be discerning and prudent.

    • stevestonesr June 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

      Hey Connie. That last paragraph only means that accepting true American Muslims is both the right thing to do according to the principles of the American spirit, and it is the right thing to do for Jesus followers. The key is “true” American Muslims-those that practice Islam as a peaceful, kind and loving faith in the context of being loyal American patriots.

  4. Connie Shaw July 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    I read it again. Still conflicted about the whole world; however, Jesus is about love. Sorry, my mind goes on overkill sometimes. I like everything about the Middle East, particularly the architecture. My favorite Wonders Series was Treasures of the Ottoman Empire.

    It’s a shame we cannot travel freely to Persia and Babylon without fear and trepidation.

  5. Tricia September 2, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    I have been searching my whole life for a church that truly lived the message of Jesus. You are a blessing to my heart and a blessing to the world!! May God sustain you in your beautiful work!

    • stevestonesr September 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      Hey Tricia. Sharing that we are a blessing to you deeply blesses us as well! There are churches that truly follow the Lord of life into the daring and adventurous pathway of love, discarding hateful and narrow minded religion. My prayer for you is that the Lord leads you to such a place where you can celebrate this amazing life with others who are learning the love, joy, peace and hope of simply following Jesus into their one in a zillion lives. And if you are anywhere near Cordova, put on your most comfortable clothes and party with us on Sunday!

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