Selah

We gather, hundreds of us, moved by what has been appropriately described as an “orphan crisis.”  Conferences like this bring out the saints and the saints come bearing perceived answers.  Saints are, after all, only human.

Tribe leaders, facilitators, wild-haired anti-trafficking experts from Connecticut (I’ll storm the beaches with you, brother), show us the many facets of child-exploitation.  They undo our answers, guiding us through the mounting complexities–resource shortages, blind-eyed and corrupt governments, supply and demand curves that are fed by lustful depravity, the sheer statistical impossibility that adoption is the answer.

There is a mounting cognitive dissonance.  Issues of fatherlessness are complex and so it follows that the answer cannot be simple.

The Conference guide takes the stage, asks us to stand, requests a pause, a Selah of sorts.  In that moment I believe that many of us heard God’s voice,

“Slow down; pause; pray; contemplate.  Let go of your ego and your answers.  Let me start a new work in you.  One with some deliberation.”

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Are you at the Idea Camp/Orphan Care conference?  Did God speak in your Selah moment? If you aren’t attending, watch the live stream today, starting at 9:00, central.

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Ephesians 1:3-14

One week ago, I asked whether a group might be willing to participate in a collective reading of Ephesians 1. Many of you agreed, and we were able to compile this video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erN7W4fa1FA&w=640&h=390]

The power of spoken scripture, especially when read by a broader community, impacted me more than I anticipated. Thank you, readers.
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We’d like to keep building this project. If you would be willing to submit a short clip, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to round out a collective reading of Ephesians.

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Frank Sinatra Lonergan, Lucky Lotto Winner Number 1 (a serial story) – Part 5

Frank sat, and as he was beginning to close the curtain a hand perched atop the bar, stopping the metal sliders.  Thornton’s head poked in the booth.

“You were walking awfully fast, Frank.  Granted, it wasn’t a run, but if I’da been on the floor, I might’a written you a citation.  I was watching from the security room, monitoring this goth dude wearing thick eye shadow. He was deciding which studded shades to lift from the Sunglass Hut when I saw you on the move.  Looked like you were chasing someone, Frank.”

Frank looked up, head swimming, cheeks flushed.  “There was this woman.  Tall, black, full lips, fuller…” his voice trailed off as if in day dream.  “Anyway, she had a little red-headed kid, freckled faced.  I didn’t recognize the woman at first, not until she spoke to me.  She had a voice just like Janell.  And I could have swore on a stack of Pentecostal hymn books that the kid was Mary.”

There was a palpably awkward pause.

“Frank,” Thornton said, “They’re gone.  Both of them.  Sit’n in a photo booth longing for resurrection won’t do you no good.  And chasing down apparitions, nearly knocking over Ms. Tin Le at the Bonsai Pagoda?  That won’t do you no good either.  Let it go.  Cash in your ticket. Move to the Caribbean.”

“Thornton,” Frank started but was interrupted by his authoritative friend.

“I was watching the closed circuits, Frank.  Wasn’t nobody fitting your description.  It looked like you were chasing the wind, friend.”

“Would you mind checking the tapes, Thornton?  Real quick.  For me?”

Thornton offered only a slight pause before sliding the curtain closed.  Frank could hear the black security-issue sneakers squeaking away on the freshly waxed mall tiles.  He shot a cap full of Bloody Mary, trying to clear his head and connected the power cord to the Computer before opening it.

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After early Mass, I took to telling Momma that I had to work the short shift at the mill.  But my old Chevy—the one that Elder Johnson called the “Four Horsemen” on account of it’s stunning lack of horsepower—always seemed to find its way to the full Gospel congregation on the west side of town.  Janell was in the choir, and if I timed it right I’d get the chance to hear her sing the spiritual before the sermon.  After the good Elder’s preaching, Janell closed the service with a few verses of “Just as I am.” I swear, I got saved every Sunday, though I don’t think I ever got the Holy Ghost.

Sometimes, when the service ended, we’d take a bit of the potluck and sneak down to the river. Once I carried a jug of wine that my uncle had bootlegged from Missouri.  On that Lord’s day, I found that Janell’s love was as good as her alto.  If the Elder had known about that afternoon, I’m pretty sure he’d say that Janell didn’t have the Holy Ghost either. But he and his congregation were good to me.  They didn’t treat me like I was snow-white, a leper.  The old men shook my hand; the old ladies pulled me into their perfumed bosoms, close enough for my cheeks to be tickled by their feathered hats.  They were a good family of folks.

But there are things you learn in life.  Families compete.  Families are fond of ultimatums.

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Ephesians 1

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHLDUidbm2k&w=480&h=390]

I’ve been thinking a lot about this chapter over the last few weeks.  It’s all there–grace, peace, adoption, hope, inheritance, the supremacy of Christ.

I’d like to do a little project, a video montage, if you will.  I would like to collect a series of people reading Eph 1, verses 3-23.  Would you agree to do a short video recording of yourself reading one verse?  I’ve done verse 3.

If you’ll participate, let me know in the comments.

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The Cushite Bride

Have we stopped to consider?

Today, I stumbled across a video reminding me of the orphan crisis in Ethiopia.  It is a significant issue, one in which I am deeply invested.  Frame after frame, the statistics were presented—the number of Ethiopian orphans; the percentage of the world population living on less than one dollar a day; the number of children who will die from malnourishment or a preventable disease.  Then the payoff—do you know how much a Starbucks latte costs?  How big is your television?  Have you shopped for a new pair of shoes lately? Did you know you can sponsor a child, donate to this new orphanage, do x, y, or z?

I get it.

But there are too many people too afraid to say this—statistics move me only to unsustainable reaction.

Statistics make for good marketing, package well.  Statistics may make me think that my forty dollars a month will “make a difference.”

But have we stopped to consider?

A packaged crisis imputes necessity.  “Immediate action is needed, donate now.”  And the more quickly we act the less we think.  About what?

About the dignity of the global church. What if the Ethiopian church could solve its own crisis?  What if we were to support them by prayer, fasting, and funding?  What if they don’t need our videos, our marketing, our physical presence?  What if living out sainthood means living lives of quiet humility, without non-profits, videos, or blog posts—without a movement to pimp?  What if our names are never known?

Ethiopian Church is the descendant of Zipporah, the Cushite bride of Moses who saved her children from fatherlessness by consummating covenant with the living God.  She was bold and beautiful.  And we give her too little credit.

Have we stopped to consider?

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Will you join me for a few days of prayer for the Ethiopian church?  They are a beautiful representation of the body of Christ and they do have a crisis on their hands.  There is a quiet way to support a revolution of dignity. For more information, visit Kidmia.

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