This true story about my husband is appropriate for today, Veteran’s Day, a day we honor the heroes who defend our nation. Pete isn’t a veteran, but in this age of glorified sports figures, media stars, and fictional super heroes, it’s good to stop and ask ourselves, “What is truly heroic? Who is my greatest hero?” This is a story about Pete’s.
A number of years ago, Pete traveled to India to participate in some strategy and training meetings on unreached people groups and church planting. His role was technical, dealing with computers and data. As a Silicon Valley consultant, this was his comfort zone, and he excelled in it.
God must take special pleasure in evicting us from our comfort zones. (Maybe He prefers that we depend on Him rather than our own expertise?)
I’m married to a man who loves the truth. It shows in his deep commitment to God. It pops up in his appreciation of civil but “vigorous” discussion. And it definitely appears in his penchant for researching and analyzing complex problems, be they technical or social. He has a compulsion to dig in and uncover the facts on any controversial issue, rather than simply going along with whatever hype the news media is currently pushing.
Of course, facts are always subject to interpretation. But one thing I appreciate about Pete’s approach is that he tries to separate the two—making a distinction between what is known to be true, and his opinion about it all.
Every day we read about more violence in the Mideast. Everyone seems to hate everyone else. In spite of decades of negotiations, cease-fires, and truces, the battle continues. Palestinians, Jews, Arabs, Christians. Can they live in peace? It seems that no matter what we do, the problem is unsolvable. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but do we really expect an answer?
Pete and I enjoyed a real treat this week—getting to sit down with some long-time friends to hear what God has them doing now. Bob and Kathryn Carlton are the kind of people that you can’t resist. Meet them for the first time and an hour later you’re best friends. Perhaps that’s because no matter where they go, they fall in love with people. Put them in Tibet, and they love the Tibetans. Put them in Burkina Faso, and they love the people there. That kind of love is irresistible!
Last week I let the Bible point out how God wants us to treat foreigners— refugees—living among us. We are not to mistreat or oppress them, we are to treat them as we treat one another, with the same laws. We are to provide food and clothing, and ensure they receive justice. However, we aren’t the only ones with responsibilities. God has expectations for the foreigners as well.
It’s a difficult situation. Vast numbers of refugees are fleeing war and terrorism, risking their lives in open boats, trudging across Europe, seeking safety. In response, many nations are stretching their own resources to accommodate them, allowing them into the country, scrambling to provide food, clothing, and shelter. Pictures of adorable but frightened children, held by exhausted mothers, fill the news. How can we not help them?
On the other hand, hidden in that mass of desperate humanity are radical Muslims with their guns and bombs, seeking to destroy us.
We know the story by now. A terrorist/mentally ill person/religious radical grabs a gun/bomb/other weapon and murders a bunch of random people who suffered the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It’s that time of year again. The Salvation Army bell ringers are stationed in front of stores, markets, and malls, soliciting donations. My email inbox is full of requests for funds from organizations as diverse as World Vision and National Audubon. Our small group has “adopted” a single mom and her three kids—we’re helping with decorations, gifts, and special meals. We’re all familiar with the idea of donating food and clothing, or perhaps simply cash, especially during the holiday season.
But do these donations really help?
When you consider Muslims, what comes to mind? A terrorist? A suicide bomber? Or perhaps a woman swathed in a black burka? How about the family next door, or your college professor, or perhaps the engineer in the next cubicle?
Because many Americans don’t personally know anyone who is a Muslim, our mental image may not match reality. Sure, some Muslims are terrorists, but many more are our neighbors and business associates—and perhaps our friends.
If you’d like to go beyond the front page news stories and discover how the “average” Muslim thinks, (if there is such a person), I highly recommend that you read The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross: Insights from an Arab Christian, by Dr. Nabeel T. Jabour. If you’d like to know how Muslims view Christianity, then I recommend this book even more highly. And if you want to move past stereotypes and fear and learn to love our Muslim neighbors, then get your hands on this book as soon as possible! Continue reading
You know when Memorial Day is, and the Fourth of July. Everyone knows that Christmas falls on December 25. But do you know when Ramadan starts? Unless you’re a Muslim, you probably have no idea.
Observing Ramadan, a month-long time of fasting and seeking God, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Just as Passover and Easter move around depending on the lunar calendar, so does Ramadan. The Islamic calendar is also based on the moon.
Have you heard of Yearbook Christianity? I recently heard a speaker describe it, and I admit it really hit home.
What was the first thing you did when you got your high school yearbook? What’s the first thing any of us did? We flipped to the index, if there was one, and located every page where our picture appeared. Then we checked out each photo to see what we looked like. Sound familiar?