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(Cross-posted at Youth Reads.)

Our own Valen Caldwell wrote the introduction for these two entries in our Summer Reading Challenge. Visit Redeemed Reader to read her take on them!
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Meriam Ibrahim and her family remain in a "makeshift home" at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan; while Meriam and her husband have expressed nothing but gratitude for her release from prison, the family is still being prevented from leaving Sudan. Wednesday there will be a Congressional hearing (titled “The Troubling Case of Meriam Ibrahim”) before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on global human rights to discuss Meriam's case.
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In the comfort of my life, it’s painfully easy to get caught up in the microcosm of my experience, and to stay there. However, in consideration of two escalating international crises, I find myself called outside of myself. As of recently, many around the world are facing incredible grief.

Thursday, Malaysian airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over war-torn eastern Ukraine. There has been finger pointing in every direction, but we don’t really know who shot down the Boeing 777. What we do know is that the crash of the plane resulted in a tragic loss of life -- 298 people were on board the flight, and all 298 were killed. This description of the wreckage from the New York Times is haunting.
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I’ve noticed recently that I’m a stingy person when it comes to money. I don’t like to spend it, because I always feel broke afterwards. Irrational? Yes. But it still feels that way. So of course, this makes tithing and giving a fierce battle between the heart and the mind.

A group of us interns at Prison Fellowship attended a Nationals game a few weeks ago as a social event. Those of of you who know anything about live sports will guess that it wasn’t the cheapest outing I’ve ever attended. As I hit “accept” to the e-mail invitation, I had no idea the amount of money I’d be throwing at this. From the ticket, to the parking, plus the Metro fare, and last but not least the $18 for food, that’s the better part of a hundred dollars down the drain. Yet before I knew it, the money was spent. Now, although I found myself upset at how much I invested in the outing, I also thought of the great time I was having as I sat and cheered with my good friends. Then, slowly but surely, the subject of money slowly floated out of my thinking, until I was totally at peace.

Yet when was the last time we lost ourselves like this in giving to the Lord? Read More >
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The potential societal impact of poorly executed studies, an absence of fact-checking, and fraudulent "scientific" research is a bit unnerving. But the bad stats don't just happen "out there." Within the Christian community, we are often guilty of not doing accurate research. Ed Stetzer's article in Christianity Today on the importance of good stats seems increasingly relevant and necessary, for Christians and non-Christians alike.
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I've got a bit of a loaded question for you: Is the Constitution a liberal or conservative document? Read this before you answer.
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Lifetime's "The Lottery," premiering Sunday, depicts a world where children have ceased to be born, and only 100 viable embryos are available to ensure the future of humanity. Given current demographic trends, it could be prophetic. (At the very least, if it's good, it might be something like what the film version of "The Children of Men" should have been.)
Imagine for just a moment that you are sitting in a bunker with a team of soldiers, planning out a strategic movement against your enemy. Your general has finished formulating his plan, and even though you haven’t been told the specifics, you know it will work. It always does.

Yet, just as you all are preparing to load up and move out, some fool activates an EMP in close proximity to your base. What happens? All electronics are down. The plan is ruined, or at least, severely impaired.
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In the frenzy of this digital age -- an age seemingly characterized by ad-hominem attacks and needless mud-slinging -- it's refreshing to come across a piece about the importance of civility, especially in the context of social media.

Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online interviews Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, about a number of issues ranging from social media to the family. The interview struck me, simply put, as a beautiful conversation. It's so rare to come across helpful, meaningful, and loving dialogue on key issues that I thought I'd share this conversation with you, BreakPoint readers. See the Archbishop's interview for yourself here, and feel free to let me know what you think.
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When sin moves from the realm of abstraction to the immediate and personal, how do we faithfully love those around us? Josh Bishop of the Gospel Coalition has a few ideas.
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Among the multitude of articles about why young people leave the Christian faith, this is one of the best I've seen. (It focuses on Catholics but is equally applicable to Protestants.) I love Daniel Paris' idea of "inoculation" as the triggering factor: Just as with a vaccine, when we're given a small dose of a weakened gospel, it prevents the real thing from getting in.

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Apparently it is "psychologically harmful" to teach children about Jesus. Who knew?
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The numbers are pretty staggering: In the U.S., millions of people spend billions of dollars every year to go on short-term missions trips. But are short-term mission trips helpful, or are they hurtful? Do they empower the work God is already doing in a community -- or do they undermine sustainable community development? Read More >
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I often listen to The Drive on my local sports talk station while preparing dinner. While, as you can guess, I rarely if ever hear anything “profound,” it’s usually entertaining and sometimes I hear something that makes me think.

Yesterday was one of those days. The subject was Yankee shortstop and future first ballot Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter. I linked to the Wikipedia section on his personal life because the question that the folks at The Drive asked was, “Has any superstar handled superstardom better than Jeter?”

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There are 13 million babies aborted in China every year, which makes China by far the nation with the highest number of abortions. The pro-life movement in China is growing, thanks to the efforts of pro-life groups like China Life Alliance (CLA). But those advocating for life in China face many challenges, on many levels.

One of these challenges, according to CLA, is that only about 1 percent of churches in China have been taught what the Bible has to say about the sanctity of life. To gain an understanding of the difficulties facing the pro-life movement in China, see this article by June Cheng of World magazine.



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