Wednesday, September 7, 2016
This Sunday marks the anniversary of Sept 11, 2001 and the attack of Al Qaeda operatives on the United States. While this was not the beginning of the cultural war within Islam nor its first assault on Western culture and the USA as the expression of that culture, 9/11 has marked a new chapter in global realities. Billy Hoffman has called for a focused day in this email to me. His email is copied below.
I'm sending this email to you as a friend and fellow follower of Jesus Christ. I know I risk being considered crazy but I believe it's worth it. I’ve done crazy things for less noble causes – like jumping out of a classroom window because of a dare from a junior high classmate with the promise of a dollar from him if I did it.
My NATIONAL PRAYER OF REPENTANCE AND PLEA FOR DELIVERANCE is below with my request for you to join me in an act of humility and repentance before God throughout September.
Sunday, September 11, 2016 is the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attack on our nation. Since that time have the citizens of our nation moved closer to living as Christ would have us? Instead, we seem to have increased our rush toward moral decline and national destruction.
There is no political solution. We will only be saved if we position ourselves to receive an act of the Holy Spirit sweeping through our land awakening us all to the reality of God's holy wrath against sin and demonstrate our willingness to trust and live holy before Him. This is not about hating those who oppose Christianity but being willing to suffer ridicule, or more, for His name. It’s time to join our fellow believers around the world who are suffering for our Lord Jesus.
I'm asking you to do the following:
1. Daily and sincerely pray the prayer below (provide your own edits so it truly reflects the cry of your heart) throughout the remainder of September.
2. Wear black to church on Sunday, September 11, 2016 to demonstrate you're in mourning for the conditions in this nation.
3. Enter a time, that's appropriate for you, of fasting from food - one day, or multiple days, a week, one meal a day for a number of days, etc. and let the hunger pains remind you of your spiritual hunger for God's presence in you and among us.
3. Share this with others you believe will participate.
Perhaps God will hear from heaven and heal our land.
Do not feel obligated to respond to this email to indicate your plans to participate.
NATIONAL PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
AND PLEA FOR DELIVERANCE
“O LORD God, from whom our spiritual forefathers sought guidance and grace as they ventured to this continent to establish a land where they could worship You freely. They came to escape tyrannical governments which sought to imprison them or force them to violate their conscience in order to avoid government prescribed punishment.
"Are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?" (2 Chronicles 20:6) Are You not our God, who raised up godly leaders and through divine providence founded a nation incorporating biblical principles of justice and freedom in its constitution so citizens can fully enjoy a life of pursuing true happiness?
Does this not extend to those who refuse to acknowledge Your existence or choose to reject You and Your free gift of eternal life? Have they not enjoyed all the benefits of the material prosperity You continue to bestow on this nation as You raised it to become the greatest and most prosperous in the history of the world?
Lord Jesus, forgive us, Your people, who are called by Your name, as we have elected leaders who love power more than purity and we who call You our God have chosen temporal wealth and benefits over eternal blessings.
The government of the United States of America has become like those from which our forefathers fled to seek a new life in a new land. However, Lord Jesus, there is nowhere on earth left to go where such refuge from this tyranny can be found. We can only flee to You for deliverance from such oppression and seek Your forgiveness for failing to make disciples in our land of the generations from its founding to this day.
Purify Your church and make ready Your bride to receive You. We repent and will seek to obey Your commands to Love God supremely, to love others as ourselves, and to make disciples of all peoples. We will pursue this until our last breath.
And now, the citizens who reject Your sovereignty, yet, who enjoy this free land - here they are, rewarding us by coming to force us to choose to accept wicked living as normal or lose our rights as citizens of this free land. O our God, will You allow such intolerance to become normative for our nation? As in previous centuries, can Your Spirit not speak directly to the hearts of this generation in our country which results in a revival of biblical faith and practice among us?
We have no power against the massive statist indoctrination of the most recent generations and the multitudes which have never witnessed Your power and who seek to remake America; "nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
Save our nation, O Jesus, and show Your name great to this generation!
In Your name we pray, Amen.
May I suggest that you interact with this in accord with your concerns.
Grace for the day,
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Through the past four weeks as I have been engaged in focused research on changing perceptions of the Bible and biblical doctrines in the heartland of Islam, I have observed the ebb and flow of what will probably be seen as historic change in this time-worn region of civilization. This is not an attempt to speak about the outcomes of the “Arab Spring.” While Syria continues to bleed, Tunisian government continues to morph, Iraq continues to simmer, and the Egyptian Brotherhood continues to seek to find its way towards governing this complex country, any assessment is premature and truly a prophetic utterance. As Garrison Keillor said in his years old Prairie Home companion skit, I saw snow on July 4th, “I’m not a prophet. So, I kept my mouth shut.” So, this is just some anecdotal observations from taxi drivers and guys on the edge of demonstrations and other ordinary folks in the midst of change.
King Abdullah II of Jordan’s motorcade sedately passed us as my taxi driver, Rajah, and I discussed the turmoil of the region. I put the event in the context of other heads of state passing near me since 9/11. Three suvs traveling just faster than the 60 kph traffic. No sirens, exposed guns, no helicopters overhead. Just a king among his people going to the airport. I know we are talking apples and oranges here, but this was a different take on how to move the head of state. So, we moved to talking about this young King and his pronouncements. He has said, I was not prepared for the task of being King. I have and will make changes to reduce the power of the office. My son will have a much different job from mine. The parliament and prime minister need to have a greater share in leadership. So, he rolls along absorbing the changes of the day. In our general conversation, my friend says he and his country men are not ready for “American style” democracy. They need to grow to face the responsibilities of true freedom. It seems to me that their young king is leading well.
One of my interviewees, Dr. Kamal, leads an institute founded by the Crown Prince of Jordan to enhance understanding between the world’s peoples and cultures. My friend, like Arabs in general is cordial and gracious to any stranger or guest. He is an Orthodox Christian trained in the USA with a PhD in political science. He loves Americans but is concerned that we have lost sight of our “north star.” He thinks we need to return to our values which he characterized as respect for the dignity and equality of all persons. Concerning our governmental and institutional response to Arabs and Islam, Kamal sees a historic shift in Western treatment of persons due to stereotypic thinking because of the actions of a few. Although a Christian, he like many sees American branding of one as dangerous and a condemnation of both. Like many in the world, Kamal gives the West, its media and political institutions, more credit than warranted. But, his point that shaping a future based on the pains of the recent past can result in a deadly spiral into reaction-ism. He asked, “Is the plight of Palestinians under the state of Israel different from pre-holocaust Jews in Europe?” He is asking for balance, the West appeared to have assuaged the guilt for ignoring the plight of European Jewry in creating the nation of Israel. Should we not care for the plight of Arab families as well as Jewish families in the current conflict? Kamal pointed to me and said, “You, American protestants need to recover your identity and values. I love all people, Jews and Arabs, he said. If your behavior causes people to question your love for everyone, you need to examine why you and or your government is acting that way. Is it media bias? Is it rude hatred? What is causing that behavior? You need to restore your values.” In this Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the longest armed conflict in our world there is little change. The political solutions presented by Thomas Freidman at the close of his 1989 From Beirut to Jerusalem are still viable; but, the will of the leaders and the peoples to change expectations so they can reached their stated desired co-existance and possibly “peace” cannot be granted by Washington.
Change is hard. I guess that is the bottom line of my musings from Cairo- which isn’t sure whether it is Spring or Winter (politically speaking) -on this last day of a mild-weathered February. I have pulled together two sources in thinking about change.
The following is a compilation drawn from two sources
[Regular font portion is by Maryellen Weimer. Reference: Henderson, C., Beach, A., and Finkelstein, N. (2011). Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM instructional practices: An analytic review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48 (8), 984-952. Simply replace [we] or [I] for teacher in the text. The Italic font portion is my summary of Price Pritchett & Ron Pound ”A survival Guide to the Stress of Organizational Change.”]
I'm working my way through a 33-page review of scholarship on instructional change in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines. The authors reviewed an impressive 191 conceptual and empirical journal articles. However, what they found isn't impressive both in terms of the quality of the scholarship on this topic and in terms of instructional change in general.
It's not the first article I've read of late on the various barriers that stand in the way of change in higher education. The literature is not encouraging, but I think there are some fairly straightforward principles that give any new teaching strategy, technique or approach a much greater chance of success. Out of that success will grow the courage and motivation to implement even more instructional changes.
1. Think about what needs to change before deciding on a change — I regularly lead workshops on campuses across the country and often worry that there are carts being placed before unseen horses. When I'm asked to present, I'm usually counseled that faculty attending will want techniques, new ideas, strategies that work, and pragmatic things they can do in the classroom. But that's not where the change process should begin. It should start with a question, 'What am I doing that isn't promoting learning or very much learning?' Or, 'What am I doing that I've probably done the same way for too long?' Once you see the horse, you can better pick out a cart to put behind it.
2. Lay the groundwork for the change — I regularly object to the "just do it" approach to instructional change, as if we all work in a Nike commercial. The motivation is admirable but every instructional situation is unique. Teachers are different, students are different and we don't all teach the same content in the same kind of courses. Whatever a teacher does must be adapted so that it fits the peculiarities of the given instructional situation. Don't just do it before having given careful thought to how the change will work with your content and students, and when you use it.
Three Key Drivers of Change: People: Human populations continues to grow, augmented by migration and immigration, this insures that every human community and institution is changing. Technology: New means of communication on smaller and faster smart phones and tablets along with continued improvement in computer speed and increased volume of global traffic on the internet makes this world a village wired for change. People: Global information continues to double at faster and faster rates making this age of information a world of change in itself.
3. Incorporate change systematically — Beyond adapting the change, teachers need to prepare for its implementation. This means considering when (or if) it fits with the content, what skills it requires and whether students have those skills. If they don't, how could those skills be developed? It also means valuing the change process by giving it your full and focused attention so as to ensure the new approach has the best possible chance of succeeding.
4. Change a little before changing a lot — Too often faculty have "conversion experiences" about themselves as teachers. They go to a conference or read a book, get convinced that they could be doing so much better and decide to change all sorts of things at once. They envision a whole new course taught by an entirely different teacher. Unfortunately, that much change is often hard on students and equally difficult for teachers to sustain.
Three thoughts on responding to the need to change: The danger of doing what comes naturally: Change is a stressor which leads to biologically defense mechanisms (fight or flight) kicking in. Neither of which helps us. Systemic change calls for surrender and reassessment of our role and direction. The Jesus way: (the authors describe this as The Zen way. I have a better Way than just absorbing the enemy.) To victoriously face life and its changes consistently requires the recognition that the God of creation loves you and regardless of supposed success or failure He will not leave you. He has come in Jesus to be your shepherd and you have accepted His ownership. This is the difference between breakthrough and breakdown in the face of change. Playing the hand that Life deals us: We need to toughen up. Coach Sean Payton says, “Just do your job!” Sam Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org) advises us to quit feeling like victims in pitiable employment. “Maybe we acknowledge that we're not entitled to everything being perfectly wonderful at all times.” (The authors then flesh out 15 mistakes in facing change which round out their workshop. You can get the booklet from Amazon.)
5. Determine in advance how you will know whether the change is a success — It's too bad that assessment has come to carry so much negative baggage, because when it's about a teacher trying something new and wanting to know if it works, assessment provides much needed of objectivity. If you determine beforehand what success is going to look like, then you are much less likely to be blinded by how much everybody liked it. In this giant review of the change literature I mentioned earlier, only 21% of the articles contained "strong evidence to support claims of success or failure."
6. Have realistic expectations for success — No matter how innovative, creative and wonderful the new idea may be, it isn't going to be perfect and it isn't going to be the best learning experience possible for every student or the pinnacle of your teaching career. Everything we do in class has mixed results; any new approach will work really well for some students, in some classes, on some days. Know that going in, remind yourself regularly, and don't let it discourage you from continuing to make positive changes.
So, in my thinking, borrowed from C.S. Lewis for change to be progress we must manage the forces so that the resultant path aligns us with the One who is the truth, life and way-Jesus.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Last night, after preaching through a translator on Peter's sermon concluding at Acts 2: 36, I had supper with 3 of my wife's former music students who are among those who are the hope for the new Egypt. As they talked and I listened to the stressors they and their families faced, I was struck by their calm and insightful analysis of this Middle Eastern world to which I, as a stranger, am seeking admission. It is a strange thing to be struck by the surroundings as new and strange while the feeling of old comfortable surrounding softens the blow. I don't know this place or these people and yet I'm back home and among family. How odd the passing of time in our absence makes our interface with the present and our past. But that is way too much of that type of musing. More pressing things are afoot. Back to the table talk. S from his leadership position in risk consultancy and I discussed the financial situation and the realities of novices (recently released from prisons) being at the helm of the ship of state as she seeks safe passage though the uncharted waters of redefined treaty relationships and international debt. President Morsi and his allies have little experience and hardly more interest in negotiating with the IMF or even the international oil partners on whom the future payrolls of countless Egyptians depend. Every element of the electoral process is being challenged or dismantled by the constitutional court of Egypt and the youth continue to protest the harsh measures of the Ministry of Interior. The situation is very stark. But these three Christian men, one a regional leader for Campus, one a strong free market business man, and the insurance consultant for an international construction firm are not hiding or cowering they are going to work each day and facing life with the knowledge that God loves them. I was reminded of J.D. Greer's thesis in his book, "Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary." At the end of that fabulous fellowship as I slipped into bed at midnight, I pondered again this new world and especially how the Islamic speakers I had spent most of the week with seemed to be different and communicate different themes that those in similar roles twenty years ago. The institutions of Sunni Islam seem to be responding to stressors, not completely different from the precursors of the "Arab Spring" revolutions which are as of yet not yet fully defined. I'm not going to get into the content of the interviews, the project is not yet really begun in earnest. But I will say that the speakers are expressing views which are different from their coreligionist of 20 years ago, and I am beginning to pick up on some of the general influences behind these trends. Briefly. 1. The growing interface with western culture and its rational basis. 2. The rapid shifting of society and population to a younger and more internet equipped educated generation. 3. The need to respond to probing questions by Christians and other non-Muslims. Two decades ago, it seemed that the two possibilities for a future Islamic reality were a reformation type of event which would bring reason into the hermeneutic of Qur'anic thought or a rigid wall between the Diaspora and the heartland or some such division in the Islamic umnah (or global nation)--East/West, or South/North or Heartland with South/ Western diaspora. But the hermeneutic seems not to be Qur'anic but cultural. The imperative seems to be only remotely revelation in the Qur'an and more directly to answer pressing cultural and environmental issues. The issue of western reason would be overlooked by most. The reasoning process operates differently and the pace is controlled by relationships assisted by conventional wisdom. So everything feels and operates differently. Yet, in comparing the "snapshots" of this city taken by these eyes 20 years apart, it is western culture which jumps out of the print. The open-faced veiled Muslim lady with the blue tooth ear piece in place as she walks down the corniche sidewalk. The massive new hotel with a Lebanese Restaurant and a Starbucks, side by side, rocking on until our supper finished just before midnight. Me hearing the call to prayer while I work away on my I-Pad, along with most of Cairo on WiFi or cell interconnection this evening (though most Egyptians are using Samsung or other brands of tablets-sorry Apple). If you speak Arabic and English the cultures are much closer on most issues today. However, there are some dramatic and striking differences, points where the gulf of Orient and Occident is much deeper if not wider. Lest we veer into the content of the interviews we'll more on. Cairo has had a young population especially since the 1967 war. Even with increased life expectancy the vision on the street is of a young population and the institutions of higher education have churned out the thousands of graduates. Young, educated, and internet connected the population has raised their expectations. They want more and they want answers to their questions that make sense to them. Oh. Yeah! And they want them now. The Sheikhs have done away with many standard answers which didn't seem to make sense to us, but what did we know-foreigners and such. The leaders had to answer their students when without timidity they asked the unthinkable questions and expected answers, even if they had to go to Christians to get them. That brings me to the third stressor on the bastions of documentary Sunni Islam--Christian apologist, the most striking example being Father Zakarias and his satellite television show, who asked probing and embarrassing questions. However, while the institutions of Islam are responding and changing, the rumor on the street is of a number of young Muslims renouncing faith. Some are turning their back on organized religion and on God. Some looking for new answers even as Islamic leaders re-frame doctrines like abrogation. Peter was right. You can try to kill Jesus on the cross but God just raises Him from the dead, because Jesus is Christ and Lord. just musing, Profmike
Sunday, February 10, 2013
This first of eight weeks of the project brought home to me, again, the importance of relationships and networking. As I wait for the Sunday morning service's scheduled start time (Arab world Friday and Sunday Evening Worship is on a par with U.S. Sunday AM), I've been thinking about how our lives intertwine. On two occasions this week I reconnected relationships which are needed for all parties to be fruitful. Walking in Tahrir Friday with the throngs wanting to hope for governmental re-formation such as Tunisia's experience this week, I met an Egyptian political activist who longed for connection with the American people and was confused by American government's (past and present) inclination to invest in political entities rather than in the people. The old Egyptian solution to all of this is, "shai" --a cup of tea. Sit down and converse. I realize that that is what I'm trying to do from by "base camp" in Cairo. Converse with faith family who through prayer are vital members in what I am seeking to accomplish. So, this morning or whenever you can slow life down just a bit, sit down with someone vital to you and converse. By the way
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Well you will note the lack of pictures in this post. That doesn't mean that I didn't want to share some of the events of the day. Instead it means I was looking instead of being alert to being "cased" by a pickpocket. When I pulled my trusty LG lucid wonder gismo (phone, pdf, camera and more) out to snap one last picture near the Maadi Road 9 Metro station and slipped it back in my "secure" front pants pocket, I was unaware that I was being sized up and set up. One of the bumps and jostles between that moment and arrival back "home" was cover for a deft and experienced hand lifting the camera out of my pocket. So, you will have verbal images from now on accompanied by a few ipad stills. All because I was not focused on what was happening to me. Trust me it could have been much worse-my backpack had the hardware for the whole project in it. My other front pocket had my clip with credit cards and Egyptian cash. I need to retrieve the skill I once had in walking "with myself" sounds sorta psycho but it isn't. It's the art of really experiencing your environment instead of just walking through it. We try to teach this in prayer walking. See the people around you and lift them up to the Father. Being Alert. One of my favorite passage of the Bible Isa 40 closes with vs 31 "they that wait or hope or focus on the Lord renew their strength.... Today I visited with several people who have been hoping and waiting for that which has not come and as it were their wings are crushed. How precious it is for you and I to have brothers and sisters here in the midst of this "storm" who are living billboards for the peace, joy and hope found in God though Christ Jesus. As I visited with one of them and he shared what God's Egyptian team is doing to prepare for the possibly deepening storm, in retrospect I apply the lesson of my pickpocket. Our Christian family here is ALERT the thief is trying to steal souls Christ died to save and they, the church, are working hard while it is still day that in making Christ known God might snatch the hopeless and helpless from darkness into the Kingdom of Light in Jesus Christ. May we all be alert while it is still day.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Liberation Square-that’s a good translation for Tahrir Midan. The name comes from the largely bloodless overthrow of the last Egyptian King, Farouk who was really a puppet for the Brits. To celebrate their victory, the first leaders of modern Egypt named the center of the city Tahrir-Liberation. So it is that masses of Egyptians who feel their government is not really theirs have used the square for revolt for the past two years. As I walked among them and listened, I felt that the spirit of the Boston tea party, or the Minute men was animating them. I also felt once again reform and revolution must be constant processes if they are to succeed. Even being liberated from the power and penalty of my sin/s by Christ, I need to pray and watch, lest I become compromised with forces set on removing Him from my heart’s throne. Walk with me through this physical revolution which has not run it’s course yet.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Passing is an interesting word. We use it for success and death. I passed a test and I will pass out of this life. In New Oleans we sometimes say, “We passed a good time, yeah!” We use the word in lots of ways. I suppose passing is in my mind as I passed the Hebron pulpit to Dr. Jerry Barlow for the weeks of February , March and the First week of April.
The baton is passed but my desires for the health of individuals who make up the Bush community and the body of Hebron Baptist Church has not passed away. In a small way, I’m following Helen Young, who passed from this world of care into the rest of her Savior last week. Miss Helen in passing expressed her wishes—Celebrate life and if you want to give flowers give the money to the Hebron building fund instead. In doing so she passed the test. Leaving for a better life she still cared, as always, for others and for her church. What a great lady and example of how to pass!
As I fly out of the country for witness and research in Egypt and among Muslims, some have quietly questioned my sanity. I can understand. There is a great myth in our day that we must guard our lives at all cost. Why go somewhere dangerous? Reality is that life is not “safe.” Reality also says that life is not just physical. There are dangers which require us as long as we possess life to take risks. We realize this when our loved ones are at risk from flood waters, storms, or crazed gunmen, but that is not the complete list of the dangers. Nor should we only concern ourselves with the people who share our same name or DNA. Risks are real but we need to be careful how we count them. Jim Elliot, who died in the last century seeking to share Christ with a South American tribe wrote in his diary, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Jesus said it even better, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul ? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul ?” Matt 16: 26 NAB translation of the Bible.
Life is a test. When you give yourself to Jesus, God credits you with the Father's evaluation of the Son. Passed!