Monthly Archives: March 2022

Ramadan Briefs

Muslim Dad: Hey Kids, good news, this year we’re going to do all the fun things that go with Ramadan like get together with family, eat special food at night and give presents at the end, but we’re not going to fast!
Kids: Are you serious? Yay! That’s so great! You’re the best.
Muslim Dad: April fools!
Kids: Grrrrr

Pray Large and Small
Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, begins the evening of April 1st and runs through April 30th. As you probably know, this is a time of heightened spiritual sensitivity for Muslims. If you’ve ever fasted, quit smoking or drinking coffee you probably understand it’s also a time of strained emotions.

With that in mind, please join me in praying against violence on both a large and small stage. Specifically, let’s ask God to help men be kind to their wives and kids during this time. Let’s also pray for Israel. They’ve suffered three terrorist attacks in just over a week. Ask God for protection for Jewish citizens, but also wisdom and discretion for the Israeli government as they respond.

Join In
While Ramadan is mainly about going without, it’s also about celebrating. Once the sun sets, many Muslims take time to enjoy family and special foods. My friend Jeannie has written a winsome challenge to get yourself invited over for one these meals. (Be careful, it also involves fasting!)

Cook Up Some Connection
One way my family is planning to remember Muslims during this Ramadan is by cooking and enjoying a meal together once a week that will remind us of a particular Muslim people or place. Please grab our food plan and let me know if you give it a go.

Let’s ask God to incline our hearts toward Muslims as they seek him this special month. Let’s also keep our eyes open for ways to share this perspective with other believers.

There’s a new Greg Livingstone conversation video up. Please check out Greg’s gracious thoughts on church planting teams.

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Fast Like An Egyptian

I learned to love shawarma served by a kind, long-suffering Egyptian immigrant in Jordan. I’m grateful for the time he stood under the summer sun in front of his piping hot grill.

Later my dad learned to love mie goreng cooked up by a road side restauranteur in southern Malaysia. After our whirlwind trip to meet Muslims and enjoy their food, he thought it would it would be nice if my mom would make mie goreng back in Indiana! Being several years before the world wide web was a thing, she was the long-suffering one, trying to match real ingredients to Dad’s culinary memory.

Food links us to people and places, doesn’t it? As Ramadan begins on April 2nd, I want to invite you to link your heart, mind and tummy with Muslims locally and around the world.

Although Ramadan is a fasting month for Muslims, as you may know, they only abstain during the day. Night time is for family, fun and often feasting.

So here’s the idea: Once each week through April, enjoy a meal with family and friends that reminds you of a particular Muslim nation or people group. Take time around the meal to pray for that people.

Here are the ones I envision for our house:

Week One:  Doner Iskender, originating in Turkey

Week Two:  Domada, from Gambia

Week Three:  Balti Curry (Made famous in Bradford, England, originating in Pakistan and North India)

Week Four:  Mie Goreng (Originating in Malaysia, and reminding us of my dad!)

To identify with the self-denial of Ramadan, maybe fast the meal prior to the special reminder one.

Let me know if you plan to do this and what food you’ll serve. My mouth is watering already!

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81 Dead in One Day

How does it make you feel to read that Saudi Arabia executed 81 people last Saturday?

Sick to your stomach?
Sad for the state of humanity?
Desperate for the kingdom of God?
Concerned for their eternal destiny?

Do you wonder who they were and what they’d done?
Whether or not their trials were fair? If their confessions only came from torture?
Maybe you shake your head and think, “Those Muslim barbarians!”
Or, “They probably got what they deserved.”

Maybe you wonder like me, “Why kill them all on the same day?” I suppose the answer to that is to make a point. “See this? See what we can do? Don’t cross us.”

I question if this situation differs only in quantity, but not in principle, from the eleven people executed in the US last year or the 17 the year before?

I also wonder how many Christians will use this mass execution as an additional data point in their decision to despise Muslims. And what might we do to help them think otherwise?

Finally, in this situation, as often happens, innocent people will pay a great price for the policies of the powerful: Since many of the men executed were Shia Muslims, Iran (Team Shia) canceled ongoing talks with Saudi Arabia (Team Sunni) regarding maybe easing up their proxy battle in Yemen (still the soccer ball).

God have mercy on these countries and their people, the good, the bad and the desperate. And you and me, too.

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Special Announcement: Greg Livingstone and I are making videos.

Have you ever had a hero crash and burn, ditch their wife, kick the dog? It’s a gut punch, isn’t it? Many years ago, Bobby Clinton seared this onto my psyche: “Very few leaders finish well.” They either plateau or flame out in pursuit of power, cash or sex. Although at 28 years old there was no way I could imagine personally “finishing” well, I knew I wanted to.

While that’s still to be determined, God has kindly allowed me to connect with one of my heroes who is finishing well.

I met Greg Livingstone, the founder of Frontiers, when I was fresh out of college, reconnected with him during the most trying time in my life and just recently began a fascinating project with him.

We’re recording a series of brief conversations in which I ask Greg things I’d like to know about his life, work, thinking and walk with Jesus.

This project is powered by sheer fun, as well as this two fold purpose: 1. To preserve some of the cool things Greg thinks and has done in his life. 2. Give him a chance at 82 years old to unleash his recruiting chops on a new generation of people.

I would flat out love for you to give these a look. You can find them here. Greg and I are clearly not amazing YouTubers! (even with my friend Jeremy’s great editing help) But with GK Chesterton whispering in our ear, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,” we’re giving it a go. Any advice or help you’d like to offer in terms of content, production and distribution would be met with gratitude. And we’ll put it into action.  We plan to release new videos every week or so.

Please check them out and, if you don’t mind, pass them on to others who might appreciate seeing Greg’s face and hearing a little Livingstone wisdom. 

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Gotta Get a Goldfish 🐠

The 50-60,000 Afghan refugees currently spreading out across the U.S. will face a new issue in a couple of weeks: How to celebrate Nowruz, the wildly popular Persian New Year, in a new land. It happens on Sunday, March 20th this year.

Since I’m often on the hunt for a celebration, this challenge resonates with me. If it does you as well, join me in one or more of these three things I’m planning to do:

Get a Goldfish
Having secured permission from my long-suffering wife, I plan to grab a couple goldfish this week along with a suitable bowl and food. Goldfish are part of the traditional Nowruz display called haft-seen. For Nowruz, they symbolize life. For us they’ll serve as reminders to pray for Muslims. You’re welcome to share our fishies’ names too: Farsi and Dari! (Plastic goldfish work too!)

Gift a Goldfish
As part of a broader effort to host a Nowruz party for some local Afghan refugees, I’m going to offer to buy goldfish for some families. This gets into potential cultural quagmire: Maybe they don’t want a goldfish! But maybe they think it would be offensive to say no. Maybe it would feel bad if they got a goldfish, but others didn’t. I’m going to ask people closer to the situation to scout this out.

GIF a Goldfish
OK, not actually a gif, but on Sunday I plan to show this slide to encourage my church to pray for Afghans around Nowruz. This is a golden opportunity to provide a timely and hopeful prayer invitation. I’ll also include a link to this prayer guide. (If you have a better one, please let me know.)

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