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Lucky

I just read a column by Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) called “This Is What Luck Smells Like“. Foreman talks about how being next to a guy who smells bad on a transAtlantic flight leads him to meditating on how thankful he should be that he can smell. And how we choose to see our lives,

“Maybe luck is a choice. Yeah, maybe luck is a choice. A choice to be thankful for the myriad blessings that you have rather than complain about the few smells that are unpleasant. Seems like luck doesn’t pour out like it does on the beer commercials: the young, rich, good looking, famously lucky few turn out to complain more often than their “unlucky” contemporaries. Maybe luck is a choice chosen by those whose roots sink deep into the grounds of community, sacrifice, family, worship and service. Yes, maybe luck is a choice.”

He was getting personal with me, I know what he’s talking about. I mean, I’m not a pessimist, but it doesn’t take much to set me grumbling. Then he ends it with this, which finished me off:

“But I’d like turn in my grumbling rights. I’d like to burn the authorization that I was born with, the authorization to complain, moan, and sigh heavily. I’d like to surrender my weapons of privilege. Here and now, I lay them down.”

This is something to think on, maybe a great New Year’s Resolution: to surrender my weapons of privilege.

Converting to Islam

From Britain’s Independent newspaper, an interesting report on the number of converts to Islam (and their motives for doing so).  Here’s an interesting money quote:

I do now wear a headscarf but it wasn’t something I adopted straightaway. Hijab is such an important concept in Islam but it’s not just about clothing. It’s about being modest in everything you do. I started dressing more modestly – forgoing low cut tops and short skirts – but before I donned a headscarf I had to make sure I was comfortable on the inside before turning my attention to the outside. Now I feel completely protected in my headscarf. People treat you with a new level of respect, they judge you by your words and your deeds, not how you look. It’s the kind of respect every dad wants for their daughter.

Not a Man But a Boy

From Bonfire of the Vanities:

…in that moment Sherman made the terrible discovery that all men make about their fathers sooner or later.  For the first time he realized that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and , as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps, love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.  And now that boy, that good actor, had grown old and fragile and tired, wearier than ever at the thought of trying to hoist the Protector’s armor back onto his shoulders again, now, so far down the line.

Wonderfully Made

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.”

Unprecedented

It’s a white Boxing Day in Memphis after flurries (that didn’t stick) on Christmas Day.  Both very unusual, but not unprecedented.

This morning I began to read Luke.  What strikes many readers in chapter 1 is that Zach and Mary seems to have similar responses to the angelic promises, yet Zach gets struck mute in judgment.  Mary’s concerns seem to be valid:  “How on earth will this happen, since I’m a virgin?”

But Zach’s concern seems justified to modern readers as well.  We all know about being too old to reproduce, and we all know about being barren.

One big difference here is that Zach, being “righteous in God’s sight” (1:6), should have known his salvation history well enough not to doubt that God could give life to a dead womb.  It wasn’t frequent, but it certainly happened, and if an angel of YHWH showed up to tell you that grace was falling on you, there was really no option but trusting the God of Abram and Sarai and buying a skin of wine to split with Elizabeth.

But Mary’s pregnancy had no precursor.  Her question for clarification shows that something new was happening in salvation history, something that was even greater than what happened for Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah.

The Messiah came in an unprecedented fashion, precisely because he himself was unprecedented.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

And another Christmas gem from the greatest singer-songwriter in Memphis (my opinion, which is nearly infallible).