In Case You Missed It

At the Southeastern Women’s Life blog, Amy Whitfield shared about her first overseas trip in over a decade, and the first for her two children. Amy writes:

As 2016 came to a close, I found myself with the strange emotional mix of anxiety and anticipation. Three days after Christmas I was getting on an airplane (five airplanes, to be precise) and headed to the other side of the world. My husband was leading a trip to Southeast Asia and our whole family was going with him. It was my first trip overseas in over a decade, and the first time our children (ages 11 and 13) would ever leave the country.

 

In a post at the Baptist Press, Amy King also shared about taking kids on overseas mission trips.

We were celebrities and oddities in a rolling caravan. And by rolling, I mean with actual wheels — a double stroller and several wheeled suitcases trailing my husband Steven and me as we careened through an Asian airport with our two boys, ages 3 and 1.

 

In an American airport, perhaps we would have been a passing entertainment, avoided in security lines and processed with great pains. Yet in this Asian country, as I sweated my way through an immigration line, it was as if we had a golden ticket.

 

“This way!” the security manager called, waving us to a VIP line with no waiting. The once-stern boss then proceeded to coo and teach our boys how to count to 10 in the local language.

 

We had arrived on our first mission trip as a family of four, and I quickly realized my children had broken down barriers from the moment they stepped, or rode, into the country.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Lauren Hansen shared a post titled: “My Empty Womb and a Forgotten Prophecy“.

In May 2014, I found out that my friend Carter had died. That was 28 months into my infertility journey. Twenty-eight months of Please, God, pleaseNo, Lord, no; and Show us your grace, Father. Twenty-eight cycles of wait, despair, and trust in the One who planned purpose in it all. My husband and I had endured the tests, taken the standard medication, administered the shots, and had found ourselves with medically diagnosed “unexplained infertility.” And we were two months from the end of our treatment plan and from giving over our unmet hope of biological children to God and resting in him there.

 

We had tried to figure out why God would withhold a child from us. Was he disciplining us? Was he protecting us from something we didn’t know? Did he have an entirely different purpose for our lives that could not be fulfilled with biological children? We never landed on an answer, but we knew God was at work. Like Jesus in Gethsemane or Paul with his thorn, our heavenly Father always has a greater purpose that requires quiet obedience. Job did not receive explanations, only assurances of God’s character. God is full of surprises, and by his grace we found peace in whatever his plan for our lives—with or without kids—because we learned to trust that we truly wanted what he wanted for us.

 

And we wanted what he promises: more and more of himself.

 

At The Intersect Project, Harper McKay posted an article discussing the refugee crisis with a reminder that as followers of Christ, our lives must be about God’s glory among all nations. Harper writes:

It was just a few years ago. News started to pour in that refugees were fleeing war torn and oppressive nations in North Africa and the Middle East in unprecedented numbers.

 

After my initial shock and incredible sadness for these people escaping for their lives, my next thought was, “Aslan is on the move.”

 

If you’ve read the famous tale, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” you know that Aslan is the great lion king who conquers the evil witch and saves his people in the land of Narnia. In the beginning of this story, Narnians start to see changes around them that are bigger than they are, more powerful than they could muster. They perceive that Aslan, their King, is working, and although they are still frightened, they have a sense of wonder and excitement about what is coming.

 

Amy Medina posted at her blog discussing 10 myths about Africa many Americans believe.

I am going to debunk the following myths with what I have learned by living in Tanzania, since that is the country I am most familiar with.  However, keep in mind that I will be speaking broadly, and knowingly countering the stereotypes about Africa with more stereotypes (albeit, hopefully more accurate stereotypes).  In any culture or country, people live along a spectrum, and it’s important that we don’t ever lump an entire group (or continent) of people under any particular label.  My main goal is to use what I have learned in Tanzania to change the mental picture many Westerners have of Africa.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project website, Harper McKay shared how Southeast Asia helped her engage her own culture. Harper writes:

I’ll be the first to admit that reverse culture shock is hard. After living in Southeast Asia for nearly two years, America was both strange and familiar, welcoming yet uninviting.

 

In the midst of eating all the Chick-fil-A I could and catching up with friends and family, I found myself often confused in conversations, sometimes even angry. I criticized people for how they spent their time. I couldn’t understand the topics people chose to talk about. I heard it explained that I came from a square culture (America) and moved to a circle culture (Southeast Asia). My constant efforts to understand a circle culture as a square turned me into a triangle, resulting in me not fitting into my own square culture upon my return. While explanations like this helped me not to feel crazy, they really didn’t give me a way to live as a triangle in a square culture. Basically you’re told you’ve changed, no one gets you and now you just have to deal with it.

 

But then someone told me I didn’t have to settle for “that’s just the way it is.” I could use the differences in me to make an impact on my home culture. You see, to be a triangle means you have the unique privilege to be a constant learner of culture. Although I’m really just beginning this process, I have noticed a few things that my time in Southeast Asia taught me about engaging my own culture from the inside.

 

At his personal blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted: “Orlando, Tragedy and Why We Should Shut Up.

I’ve written before about how my first reaction to tragedies is almost always wrong. Instead of praying, I want to respond. The murderous rampage in Orlando is no different. We all have an inherent (and good) desire to see wrong made right, so we just want to do something—even if all that means is to say something on social media. Unfortunately, our responses often contradict one another and attacked deeply hold beliefs of others.

 

Jonathan Howe and Julie Masson recently shared five strategic ministry uses for Instagram.

In previous posts, I’ve covered how pastors, church leaders, and churches can most effectively used Facebook and Twitter. Today, I turn my attention to Instagram.

 

This picture-based social network can help build affinity, promote events, and provide inspiring insight into the inner-workings of your church. And now that the apps offer multi-account functionality, using Instagram has never been easier for pastors and church leaders.

 

But when it comes to using Instagram strategically for ministry, you have to post more than pics of food and lattes. So here are five ways you can use Instagram in a ministry context.

 

Ashley Gorman shared three things to do after praying for Orlando. Ashley writes:

We’ve all heard the news at this point. 50 Americans were killed horrifically in cold blood at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 53, according to the news, are still wounded. The media outlets are flabbergasted. The police work tirelessly to put the pieces together. The cries of families who have lost loved ones still hang in the air.

 

It’s a national tragedy. And if there’s anyone who can mourn with those who mourn, it should be a Christian.

 

People naturally want to watch how their Christian neighbors respond to this. They want to know—do you even care? While the answer should be obvious, I have to ask: Well, do we? While hashtags and prayers fill the air, and obviously should, we need to do more. Assuming you’ve already prayed for Orlando and posted something about it on social media, here are three other things you can do now.

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

There are three types of people in our great nation. There are, first of all, those who do not read. An AP-Ipsos poll recently revealed that 25% of Americans do not read books, while other polls have put the number higher, at around 50%. It is not that these Americans cannot read or that they do not accumulate knowledge. (No country’s citizens—and I mean none—bring more depth and import to subjects such as celebrity clothes, hair and makeup, and the intricacies of the Pitt-Jolie marriage than the citizens of the USA.) It is just that their knowledge is not gained from books. Second, there are those who read but do so aimlessly, choosing on a whim what to read and when to do so. Third, there are those who plan to read and who read with a plan.

 

If you are the third type of reader, or if you wish to become that type of reader, this post offers five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

 

Determining what to read is more than a little important. Of the many books in any given library or bookstore, most can be left unread without any fear of intellectual, moral, or spiritual deprivation. Even (and sometimes especially) the bestsellers are not necessarily worth reading. So what should a thoughtful Christian read? Without being able to answer this question in specific, because each person’s callings, abilities, and tastes are unique, I will attempt to give some general principles that should apply to all.

 

This past Tuesday at the SBC annual meeting, Dr. James Merritt stood to offer support for a resolution against the confederate battle flag. The Baptist Press website published this write-up of the resolution, and you can also check out the video below to hear Dr. James Merritt’s statement for yourself.