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Pray for Egypt

I spoke with an Egyptian-American friend today whose in-laws (and other family) live in Egypt. His father-in-law is 87 years old, and is one of the most wonderful Christian men you will ever meet. My friend spoke with his father-in-law this morning  and asked him what Cairo was like right now. He responded that “it’s a mess,…it’s just a mess”. Then he began to talk about how he trusts God in the midst of the turmoil, how God would take care of him, how much God loves him and how faithful God has always been to him. My friend said that here was this 87 year old man talking about God like a 5 year old talks about his father. I don’t know how well this will translate in a blog, but it struck me as an incredibly beautiful picture of a very mature, very realistic and very childlike faith. It is easy as you watch the coverage of the Egyptian crisis right now, it is easy to get discouraged about how it will turn out. As I pray for Egypt, I want to remember that I am praying to a faithful and loving Father. And I want to walk with our Father the way that this Godly man does.

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I received an e-mail today from Shepherd’s Field, a Christian orphanage in China. It is a truly special place that cares for special needs orphans. We know a couple here in Memphis who have adopted a child from this orphanage. The e-mail had this picture of their children

They also had a this artwork from one of the children, with the question: What if the next Picasso lives in an orphanage?

We have experienced this question firsthand, as we have watched our daughter Mae (5, adopted from China) grow up. We have have often wondered what we and the world would have missed out on if she had grown up without a family. I don’t think they meant to make any sort of theological statement with the question, and I am 100% sure that they not only agree with I’m about to say, but they have literally given there lives for it. The question is a dangerous one, because these children do not have value only because they might grow up to be a great artist, or cure cancer, or whatever other wonderful thing they may do.  They have value because they are made in the image of God. Shepherds Field is built on this truth: Psalm 139:14- “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

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I listened to a talk by Michael Ramsden (of Ravi Zacharias Ministries) yesterday, you can hear it at http://www.rzim.eu/confirm-newsletter-signup. He was contrasting the philosophy of morality of John Gray, a prominent atheist author, with Christianity. You’d have to listen to get the argument, I couldn’t do it justice here. In his explanation of the Christian view, he emphasized the following comment:

 “the gospel is the most powerful when we are at our most vulnerable, it usually doesn’t advance by a mighty demonstration of strength”

He tells two amazing stories to illustrate the lesson. It really is a powerful talk, and the above quote just hammered me. Most of what I think about doing as a Christian is imagined from a position of power or authority.

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Praise Him at Macy’s

This is a “random act of culture” at Macy’s in Philadelphia. Just thought it was pretty cool.

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I’m copying most of this post from Scot McKnight, because I think these issues are important enough to put down on a post here (see his post for links to this study and NYT essay discussing the same).  And I’ve seen what this study describes firsthand from private religious high school kids (to be fair, some were girls) in Memphis, so I’m not at all surprised by this study:

Private schools by their very nature discriminate. Their students are literally the chosen ones — special, better . . .

It is no wonder then that a recent study of more than 43,000 high school students (conducted by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics) found that:

• Boys who went to private religious schools were most likely to say that they had used racial slurs and insults in the past year as well as mistreated someone because he or she “belonged to a different group.”

• Boys at religious private schools were the most likely to say that they had bullied, teased or taunted someone in the past year.

• While boys at public schools were the most likely to say that it was O.K. to hit or threaten a person who makes them very angry, boys at private religious schools were just as likely to say that they had actually done it.

Some public schools have issues with academic attainment; it appears some private schools have issues with tolerance.

(This all assumes that these children told the truth. As it turns out, private school students were also the most likely to lie. According to the study, they were the least likely to say that they had answered all the questions “with complete honesty.”)

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Last week I took Zach to visit Wheaton College in Chicago. Wheaton is a Christian liberal arts college. We called on Wednesday to try to set up meetings with a couple of faculty and staff on that Friday. We were amazed when they let us know that they were able to set up several meetings, including the campus Chaplain. One of the meetings was with the director of Urban Studies, Dr. Noah Toly. We both knew when we walked in his office that this was going to be a great visit. He was completely engaging and in Zach’s words was “so present in the moment”. Zach’s comment was accurate and really hit home with me. What a great description of Jesus as we see him in the gospels, that He was “present” with each person He encountered. Here we were, a high school junior and his dad. Dr. Toly had no idea whether we serious about Wheaton or Urban Studies, or even if Zach could get in the school. But there he was, fully giving us his attention and energy, when I’m sure there were a million other things he could be doing. I thought of how many times I have been in a similar circumstance but have not been “present”, of how often I am not faithful in the many small things God puts in my day because I’m trying to do something bigger or “more important”. I have no idea if Zach will get to go to Wheaton, or if he will ever study under Dr. Toly, but I do know that in his faithfulness in the way he received Zach and me he has already started teaching us.

http://www.wheaton.edu/urbanstudies/

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The End is Near-ish

God Bless the Vols: Devotions for the Die-Hard Tennessee Fan

OK, since Jason brought up the Ole Miss Black Bears, here’s another sign of the SEC apocalypse, all in good fun. Here’s a devotional aimed at UT fans. They have these for other schools as well-Alabama, Georgia, LSU, UNC…even a NASCAR version. Here’s a word or two from the description on Amazon:

“This exciting collection of stories from the many sports played at the University of Tennessee is perfect for the Vols fan who is also a fan of God. Each story, while giving accurate information concerning a sporting event, will also lead you into a moment of reflection about God and his greatness. UT fans will have the best of both worlds.”

Really? I’m sure the author didn’t mean to, but do we really want to equate being a UT fan with being  “a fan of God”?!

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