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    Praying for the Muslim World During Ramadan

    This week Muslims began their month of fasting during the daylight hours. Timed according to the lunar calendar, this year the month of Ramadan ends at sundown on May 11 followed by a celebration, Eid al-Fitr, when friends and family will gather and celebrate the end of Ramadan. Ramadan, an ideal time to pray for Muslims around the world, also gives you an opportunity to tell Muslims you are praying for them. Many will be surprised and pleased that you know about their practices. These resources equip you to have an impact on Muslims through prayer and help you grow in your knowledge of them: Lift up Muslims around the…

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    Stuck in the Waiting Room

    We all have spent a lot of time waiting since March 2020. Waiting for the end of lockdowns. Waiting for election results. Waiting for a COVID vaccine to be developed. Waiting to get a vaccine. I still wait to hug my oldest grandson. I’m eager to get back to face-to-face teaching of my refugee students. I wait to enjoy the sound of a roomful of women speaking Arabic, Amharic and other tongues while drinking tea and savoring walnut-filled pastries. And speaking of waiting, more than 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide wait for stable homes, according the UN Refugee agency. The dire circumstances of so many burden me. What do…

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    Living with the End in View

    I feel weary these days. My previously people-oriented job has become an Zoom class. (“Genet, are you there? Can you unmute your mic?”) I have recovered from a bout with COVID, but still battle fatigue. My big goal today is to clean the pickle juice out of the bottom of my refrigerator. Now our nation waits for the mass production and distribution of COVID vaccines so that we can return to a new normal, whatever that means. Has the year been wasted? No. I think not. March, 2020 to March, 2021 has been a chance to re-orient my thinking. I don’t know about you, but normally I think a lot…

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    Living with the End in View

    I feel weary these days. My previously people-oriented job has become an on-line class. (“Genet, are you there? Can you unmute your mic?”) I have recovered from a bout with COVID, but still battle fatigue. My big goal today is to clean the pickle juice out of the bottom of my refrigerator. Our nation waits for the mass production and distribution of COVID vaccines so that we can return to a new normal, whatever that means. Now a winter storm grips my state and nearly a week has slipped by focused on staying warm and preparing meals, often without electricity or access to groceries – the enjoyment of backyard grilling…

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    Of News Cycles and Food Banks

    Have you checked the news on your phone lately? I know I have. News of turmoil and conflict concerns me. But beyond praying–which is significant–and writing my Congress members, solving the disagreements at hand is beyond my abilities and responsibilities. The ongoing pandemic, though, has created many needs right in my church and community. Those needs continue, regardless of the latest news story. So focusing on those makes more sense. A quick glance backwards at news articles last year shows demand at food pantries in the U.S. and Canada up anywhere from 50 to 200%, depending on location. Those of us that have plenty can stock the shelves. Giving from…

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    The Future of Refugee Resettlement

    A staggering number of adults and children around the world have fled their homes due to conflict, persecution, or famine. The most recent figure numbers displaced people at 79.5 million worldwide. The average refugee spends 17 years in a refugee camp before resettlement. For many this means 17 years of living in a tent. Yet the U.S. recently announced that for fiscal year 2021, which started October 1, 2020, the country will welcome a maximum of 15,000 refugees. The Refugee Act of 1980 began the United States’ engagement in offering a new home to refugees. That year the U.S. welcomed well over 200,000 refugees. This year’s cap of 15,000 ensures…

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    Flourishing under Siege

    Psalm 139 intrigues me. We often turn to verses 13-16 to talk about God’s design of the unborn child in the womb. Verse 5, though, has always captured my interest. Both the NIV and NASB contain phrases that we have incorporated into American idioms: “Don’t hem me in.” And, “Don’t lay a hand on me.” Do you use these idioms in your country? In my individualistic American culture, we use these idioms to say to others, “Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do; don’t mess with me; don’t put limits on me.” Yet in Psalm 139:5, God himself hems us in or squeezes us (NET translation) and lays a…

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    Cooling Down Discourse

    Whew–my mouth burns today after a survey of my facebook feed. I need a sip of something cool to drink after some of the heated rhetoric I took in. Social media sizzles with conflict these days. These conflicts overflow into relationships, families and churches. A pandemic, racial unrest, elections in the U.S., disrupted governments in other countries all turn up the heat in conversations. I have witnessed un-civil discourse among families, friends and members of the body of Christ. John 17 records Jesus’s prayer for all believers. In John 17:20-23, the Savior prays for the unity of all believers. Why? Because their unity testifies to the world that the Father…

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    Building Unity in a Broken World

      My guest blogger today is Mary Coleman, a teacher from Plainview, Texas. She serves on teams at church including youth, prayer, and nursery. Wife to Jay and mom to three rambunctious boys, Mary brings a perspective to the challenge of racial reconciliation that is both experiential and biblical.  When my boys, who are five and seven, argue with each other, they wear a “get-along” shirt. The shirt is Daddy’s, so they both fit inside with one arm sticking out and one around each other. The first time I had them do this, I challenged them to move from one side of the room to the other without touching the…

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    Fighting the Empathy Famine: Listening and Learning

    A little honestly here: I’m overdosed on listening to partisan pundits. I try to wrap my head around their perspectives and spot the strengths and flaws of their thinking, but I’ve retreated for a while. Instead, I focus my energy on four things: Listening to and comforting those I know whose spirits are crushed, without minimizing their experiences (Prov. 18:13-14). By listening, I have learned of the constant stress my black friend and co-worker feels as she raises her son and daughters. She shared that in the last two weeks she got lost in an upscale neighborhood in my suburb north of Dallas. Late for an appointment, she asked a…