Last Tuesday, July 26, ISIS stooped to a new low. Two of its radical followers entered a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, took hostages, and slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest celebrating mass. They did this all while giving a sermon on Islam from the altar.
One cannot consider Donald Trump's "extreme vetting" of immigrants from Islamic countries without awareness of the problems the United Kingdom has experienced evaluating religious sincerity. As "Brexit" takes shape across the UK, there is increased focus on how Islamic Immigrants professing a conversion to Christianity will be assessed as genuine converts, and therefore be granted asylum.
About a decade ago, I attended a funeral for a pilot friend who was killed in a crash on the job. He was in his 40s, had a wife and two children. The funeral was particularly heart-wrenching. I sat right behind his father (who always wanted my friend to go to law school) and mother, and I could feel their hurt through the pews.
When United States military forces engage enemy in foreign lands, they always rely on local allies for support. Usually, that support comes from brave men and women who risk their lives to assist our military with logistics and translation. We absolutely need these courageous individuals. And we do everything we can to protect them because we know full well that they face persecution and death from our enemies and those locals who support our enemies.
As I write this, my wife and I are visiting universities in Boston with our youngest son, Alex. We have also visited campuses in Washington, D.C. Alex may have more of an adventurous streak than his two older siblings, both now at the University of Georgia, although Leanne and Michael also impress us with their independence.
As we near our country's Memorial Day celebration, I am reminded of a phrase that epitomizes the profound sense of loyalty we see among those who serve in the armed forces. The phrase, "I have your back," we believe, derives from the military.
You can't go through life without being hurt - or hurting others - in some way. Sometimes the hurt is severe and long-lasting; other times that hurt is relatively minor and transient. For Christians, the challenge is to forgive. And that can be difficult.
If you've grown up hearing Biblical stories, then you're certainly familiar with the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. My guess is that even those who didn't learn about Sodom and Gomorrah in religious studies or in church are at least familiar with the generalities of the account. After all, the word "sodomy," which has been adopted for common and legal use in English lexicon, is based on the events surrounding this story.
Christians can often feel as if the messages they receive from the prevalent culture are in opposition to the messages at the core of Christianity. In many ways, Jesus helps us understand who we are as Christians in the midst of these conflicting messages; He becomes our interpreter.