World WReligion Wednesday: The Barnian Buddhas

 

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Having recently watched the film “Monuments Men” and, as a response, pondered more extensively what it means to honor a people by preserving their cultural heritage, I think it’s a good time to mention the Barnian Buddhas in Afghanistan. Prior to their destruction, one of them was the largest such carving. Now, there is the question of whether to rebuild or not. What do you think?

 

 

Middle East Monday: Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube

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Me, Andrew, and Lina in Baghdad in 2011

 

Andrew White is a dear friend of mine. He is the person who invited me to go to Baghdad with him in 2011, and we went! We share a deep love for Iraq, the Middle East, hope for the nations, peacemaking, absurdity, and revolutionary risk-taking (otherwise known as “faith”).

If you would like to see him speak in person, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

 

Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube.

Middle East Mondays: One Woman Plants Flowers In Tear Gas Grenades

I lived in Israel and Palestine for three years. My heart still beats and laughs and rolls and tumbles in a cohesive scramble of love and vision for that place. I long to see peace reside there fully. The story of one woman’s prophetic planting is sweetly inspiring. May it prompt the question: “What can I do toward peace?”

 

In A World Torn By War, One Woman Plants Flowers In Tear Gas Grenades As A Symbol Of Peace.

Middle East Mondays: Iraq’s Soul and “What We Left Behind”

roosevelt quote

 

Iraq had national elections last week. Prevailing through the pain of disillusionment, death, and destruction, people arose and shared their voices – putting votes of possibility into the collective POT-ential. This is crucial. In times of uncertainty, sharing one’s voice is key. Yet, it is not easy to do so in a nation belabored by official and unofficial war. Much is shifting since the end of the official war in Iraq in 2011 (the war ended the same month I returned to America from a visit to precious Baghdad).

If you’d like more perspective on Iraq these days, here’s a great article from The New Yorker.

What We Left Behind” by Dexter Filkins

As you consider the staid countenance of Prime Minister Maliki, send him some loving thoughts. Point your mind toward “What would it look like for Iraq to move past its conflict and flourish?” Imagine that world. Dream with Iraq and for Iraq.

If you want, pray that Maliki receives an infusion of courage today straight from the heart of God. Pray that he feels safe, peaceful, and appreciated. Pray that he comes to a full revelation of how loved he is by God. Pray that he arises as a model of courageous vulnerability in Iraq. In a schema of self-protection, mistrust, violence, threats, assassinations, and power-play after power-play, CREATIVITY and VULNERABILITY can bring healing. When people are scared, they hole up. They lash out. They use might to establish power, instead of leading through humility and love. Iraq is stuck in this cycle of fear. Yet, the nation can be un-stuck! We can collectively use our hope and resources to invest love in Iraq. Consider today how you can help Iraq, or your next door neighbor, experience more freedom from fear-cycles. Get on the hope-cycle.

 

vulnerability quote

 

Middle East Monday: Iraqi Elections

This Wednesday (April 30), Iraq will have national elections. These are the first elections post-war. Yet, Iraq is experiencing sectarian violence, lawlessness, and bombings at the highest levels in years. This week is a key opportunity for Iraq to move past fear, history, statistics, power-plays, and bad habits into HOPE.

It is an important time to pray for Iraq.

HERE is a great infographic to help you better understand the elections.

HOPE IS HERE!!!!! Happy Resurrection Weekend, Everyone!

“Hope” is one of the most thematic words of my life. In fact, my book, “Driving Through Walls” has the subtitle, “My Supernatural Journey of Hope.” It really matters. Hope changes things. Statistics, mainstream news focused on fear, a culture of criticism and judgment, a world where war is seen as a “necessary evil” (by the way, no “evil” is necessary), and our own times of insecurity as we respond to our life’s situations, can mislead our hearts. We can get off track from hope. We mustn’t do this. Hope is one of the most powerful ingredients to healing, both our own lives, and the world.

Recently, I was talking with God about hope. It was a weekday morning on the couch in our living room. (Maybe we should rename it our “hoping room.”) Light was streaming through our blinds and skittering across the table. I began to think about hope like that. The light in the sky was full, but there was a tree filtering it’s arrival. It came to me as a blend of shadows and beams. Yet, from a place of hope, I knew the sun was out there, fully doing it’s sun-thing. That was reality. In my place of contemplation, I gathered four of our Scrabble tile coasters and spelled, “HOPE” on our table. This gave my soul a better anchor for my thoughts.

Often our situations are like that. God is fully generous, fully good, fully shining, but there are obstacles which effect the way we observe and experience that light. YET, if we allow ourselves to step back from the scene before our physical eyes, and see the reality of God’s fullness, of the fullness of HOPE, we are encouraged – we step into our existent power, ability, and potential. Sometimes, it’s a really hard act of disciplined choice to step back from the view we see. Yet, it is crucial. In the words of Jonathan Swift, Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” 

May you apprehend the timbre of the power of HOPE anew today. And may it apprehend you.

 

 

Middle East Mondays: You must learn in both directions

I saw an article recently about a Palestinian professor who took a group of Palestinian students to visit Auschwitz. The critical uproar against his actions was very saddening. I thought back to about five years ago when I took a Palestinian friend to see a musical about the history of the Jews. When it came to the bit about the Holocaust, she was horrified! “HOW many people died?!” she asked me. When I answered, “Around eleven million,” she was completely and utterly stunned. “I thought it was like six hundred!” she said. She instantly saw that she had been presented a false reality, a biased report, a lie. She clearly felt uneasy and, likely, a bit gross. Her eyes widened as she further thought about how inhumane it was for people to minimize such an event – moreover, for the purpose of fueling a continued resentment, an “us vs them” mentality, and an international dispute. She was also wondering what else had been presented wrongly to her for the point of keeping Palestinians hostile against their Jewish neighbors.

Granted, a big and beautiful difference in this story, is that my friend is a Christian. She was once a Muslim, but met Jesus and chose to follow Him. In fact, she already loved the Jews. She was still working through some of her past perspectives, but she genuinely loved them. This helped her respond to these newfound facts with sincerity, compassion, and a desire to help heal the wounds between Palestinians and Jews.

Her heart toward healing is a key toward healing in the Middle East. Likewise, the compassion the professor in the article displayed, is also key. Compassion and hearing one another will do more than a peace treaty, a summit, or thousands of books on that matter. Certainly, those tools can be powerful if they involve the spread of compassion, but on their own, they fall short. Love will heal nations. I applaud this professor for leading such healing.

 

 

palestinian prof at auschwitz