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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.


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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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The Story of Love

I am posting below a link to a sermon by David Platt called The Story of Love, about the book of Ruth. He gave this sermon on Easter Sunday. The beginning is a dramatic presentation of Ruth’s story, with a speaker telling the story, interspersed with several songs. I would encourage you to watch this portion, as Brook Hills has a video option. I think stuff like this is really hard to pull off well, as people’s musical tastes are so different. I’m not sure who the performers are, but it seems like it is folks from within the church. I thought it was pretty moving.


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“They figured that he was with the group, and they went a day’s journey…” and only then did they decide to look for him (Luke 2).

They apparently didn’t even notice that he wasn’t with the group as they started back home.  Probably a night of enjoying of all the fasting (so to speak) pre-festival, esp since Joseph had enough of that before Jesus showed up.  I imagine that Mary and Joseph just needed a little time to refresh themselves and a little time with friends before and during that journey.

That’s my justification (in part) for a little get away with the Mrs., celebrating ten years of matrimonial bliss (for me–for my wife it’s more like celebrating ten years down):  if the righteous (Matt 1:19) parents of the Son of God needed a worry free day, the parents of the children of Hood probably need the same, plus…

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Choosing To SEE

Maria's Flower Back

I just finished reading a book by Mary Beth Chapman called Choosing To SEE. She is the wife of Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. The Chapmans’ story is a part of our testimony of adopting Mae. When we were considering adoption we had been challenged by seeing their adoption of three Chinese girls. As we were filling out the paperwork to start the process, I attended a SCC concert where the focus of the night was adoption. I called Grace and told her I was sure of our decison after he sang the song “What Now”:

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart
Didn’t you say you wanted to find me?
Well here I am, here you are 

So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you’ve found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You’ve found me
What now? 


The book begins with the story of the death of their youngest daughter, Maria, 5, who was killed when she struck by a car driven by her older brother, Will, in their own driveway. It is a devastating, encouraging and bittersweet account of their journey through the valley of the shadow of death. Throughout the book Mary Beth is brutally honest as she tells the story of their marriage (which she says is sometimes “Holy headlock”), their journey through having and adopting children, and the loss of Maria. She talks openly about her lifelong struggles with depression, saying that the working title of the book was “Mary Beth v. God”. But throughout the book, a couple of things continue to shine through- they are working through the pain with a stubborn faith in God’s “severe mercy”, and that along with His presence, God has used a beautiful community of friends to sustain their faith. As a friend who also read the book said, “This was a community that was built before the crisis, not in it.” I love this book because it is completely raw and transparent. But be ready, for these same reasons it is not an easy read. There are no pat answers, it will make you think and feel and hurt. The book does not have a “happy ending”, but it points us to The Happy Ending. 

Before the tragedy, the Chapmans started a foundation called Show Hope, a ministry designed to serve as an advocate for orphans and adoption. To honor Maria, they have built Maria’s Big House of Hope, a hospital in Henan, China, which can care for up to 120 special needs orphans at a time.

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