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The Butcher Family And of some have compassion, making a difference: Jude 22
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A senator has invoked strong reactions from media personalities on both sides of the aisle after reading aloud sexually explicit books during a United States Senate hearing.�
I thought I needed to try harder at meditation. What I really needed was the Holy Spirit to enlighten me.I’ve always wanted to be spiritual, but I have trouble believing things,” I said, smiling nervously at the robe-clad Zen Buddhism teacher. We were sitting together in a small room for a one-on-one conversation about my Zen meditation practice.He chuckled. “So, I guess Zen is perfect for you.”The year was 2011, and I was 36 years old. I had been practicing Zen Buddhism for three years and had traveled to Kentucky to attend my first meditation retreat, a weekend event held at a Zen center near Lexington. The retreat schedule was tough. We sat in meditation from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., broken up by short periods of walking meditation, meals, and chores. Everything was to be done in silence.Zen was the latest chapter in my lifelong spiritual quest. That quest had begun during my teenage years, when I realized that my Hindu ancestry—passed down by Indian immigrant parents—need not dictate my own faith. As I became aware of alternative belief systems, I realized that I was an agnostic: I honestly didn’t know what to believe. So I dropped the Hindu label and committed to discovering for myself the ultimate truth.Growing up in Houston, I learned the basics of Christianity through friends and neighbors. I also spent part of my childhood in the United Kingdom, where Christian prayer, hymns, and sermons were part of regular school activities. My Hindu parents always spoke respectfully about Christian beliefs. They would go (and encourage me to go) to church with friends when invited.But it wasn’t until I got to college that I came to know Jesus through my evangelical Christian friends. I observed how their faith gave them peace and strength during difficult times. And every time I heard about ...Continue reading...
Arab believers want American visitors to see the “living stones” in Israel.Jack Sara sees buses of American Christians pass by his house as they tour around his homeland. He sees them stop, get out for a few minutes to take photos, and then get back on their buses and leave.He wonders why they never come talk to him.“The land of Christ is not just a museum,” said Sara, an evangelical pastor and the president of Bethlehem Bible College in Israel. “There is still a church they could meet and pray and fellowship with and get encouraged from.”As many as 400,000 Americans visit religious sites in Israel each year. They go to walk where Jesus walked and see the land of the Bible: from the river Jordan to the Sea of Galilee to the traditional site of the Nativity, with stops at Mount Carmel, King David’s tomb, and the Mount of Olives, where Christ is said to have ascended. Yet few of these religious pilgrims connect with modern-day Christians in the Holy Land.About 180,000 Christians live in Israel—just under 2 percent of the population. Three out of four of them are Arab. They include Byzantine, Roman, and Maronite Catholics; Eastern Orthodox; Coptic Orthodox; Armenian Christians; and a small number of Protestants like Sara.Sara is a Palestinian who grew up in a nominal Christian home in Jerusalem’s Old City. He made a personal profession of faith and committed his life to Christ at Jerusalem Alliance Church in the early 1990s. Now—as president of the school he attended to grow deeper in his Christian faith—he hopes to connect more Christians from around the globe with the vibrant evangelical churches in Israel.The Bible college is offering online classes to allow people to “Discover Jerusalem,” “Discover Bethlehem,” and “Discover ...Continue reading...
A California school district likely acted unlawfully by derecognizing its Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapters because it required leaders to abstain from sex outside of marriage, an 11-judge federal appeals court panel has ruled.
But then my path to preaching took an unexpected turn.My sophomore year of high school, I met a girl at a party. We talked on the phone for a few weeks before finally setting a date to meet up again. She lived in the Lincoln Park projects in Huntsville, Alabama. I relied on her directions when I drove to pick her up, but I couldn’t find her house. Before giving up, I decided to get out and walk, in case she spotted me.That was a mistake. The locals noticed my car circling their block, and a group of young men came over. One of them asked, “Who are you?” His tone invited con­frontation: You have stepped into my territory. Why are you here?Looking around at the plastic bags blowing in the wind, clothes drying on flimsy lines, weeds amid patches of dirt, I could not see anything worth fighting over. But behind the interroga­tor stood three or four more young men, one with a gun. The weapon changed the stakes of the conversation. It was a question of life or death.A rush of adrenaline began in my chest. I couldn’t con­trol my rapid heart rate, but I could control my expression, so I adopted a calm exterior.I had been in this situation before and knew I would have to navigate it so they didn’t feel trapped. I had to be strong but not threatening, certain but not disrespectful.Who are you? The situation called for a simple statement of my allegiances: I am from Johnson High, and where I live is not your concern. But maybe because there was a gun in­volved, the question turned existential. I thought, Who am I, really? A boy grown into his adult body, now capable of wielding the same violence I’d witnessed from my father? A kid determined to be the opposite of that man? My mother’s hope?At 16, I was ...Continue reading...
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