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America Needed Spies During World War II. Many Missionaries Were Ready and Willing.

They regretted some of what they were asked to do, but they thought defending democracy was worth it.

William Eddy was one of the most effective intelligence officers in American history. During World War II, he was among the first to join the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the nation’s first permanent espionage agency. After the war, he helped found the CIA. He was also a decorated veteran of World War I and, in civilian life, an educator, devoted husband, and father. But none of those roles really captures the true William Eddy: Above all, he was a man of God.

Eddy was born in Lebanon in 1896 to Presbyterian missionaries. Raised in the Middle East, he became fluent in Arabic and French and went to college in the United States. After earning a doctorate from Princeton, he went on to teach English at the missionary-founded American University in Cairo and later at Dartmouth. With his linguistic abilities and insider’s knowledge of the region, Eddy was recruited to the OSS by William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the founding father of modern American espionage. Eddy became America’s man in the Middle East, helping make possible the Allied invasion of North Africa in 1942. He acted as an interpreter between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Saudi King Ibn Saud at their meeting in 1945, which established the US-Saudi alliance. Yet no matter where he was, Eddy rarely missed a Sunday service.

Eddy’s remarkable career—part missionary, part spy—might seem unusual, but as Matthew Avery Sutton shows in his magnificent new book, Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War, it was anything but. The wartime role of American missionaries has largely faded from memory, but Sutton’s entertaining and insightful narrative recovers it in full. ...

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The Five Heart Hopes: How God Speaks the Love Language of Our Souls

God speaks into the unique longings deep within each of us.

I was a newly married man when I first heard the phrase ‘The Five Love Languages.’

The concept put so much into perspective for me, both for myself and for my understanding of how to love my wife. I’m grateful that I encountered Dr. Gary Chapman’s simple little test that has helped me to see why I need ‘words of affirmation’ in order to feel loved. I understand that my words of affirmation to my wife, however, fall flat and that she doesn’t feel love from me in the same way I do.

My wife feels my love when I share ‘acts of service’ with her and my son through ‘quality time’ and my daughters through ‘gifts,’ (of course!). The point is that we all need love—we crave it—but we experience it deep in our souls through different ways. Dr. Chapman has helped the world understand this through a simple and powerful construct—the Five Love Languages!

I believe that there is an associated concept to the Five Love Languages that can be equally powerful when it comes to helping people experience God’s love. God, in fact, is fluent in our love language and is striving to make himself known to us in a way that is radically oriented around our deepest soul longing.

I believe that every single one of us has a love language and that God speaks it to us in a way that we can understand. In many ways, we cry out to God through our love language with what I call our ‘Heart Hope.’

A Heart Hope is a specific type of longing that is associated with our love language. It is the question behind the question, the drive that fuels our lives and, as you probably guessed, there are five of them!

I believe these Five Heart Hopes drive us and our ...

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The Righteous Gemstones Shines Its Satire on a Televangelist Empire

For Christians, is the irreverent, unrighteous HBO comedy a laughing matter?

For most of my life, pop culture and Christianity have resolved to exist separately together.

Though Christ figures and spiritual journeys were common enough pop culture tropes, the entertainment I was drawn to didn’t really concern itself with contemporary Christianity. And the Christianity around me stayed in relative cultural isolation, occasionally creating its own “popular culture” of music, literature, TV, and movies.

And mostly, this was a beneficial arrangement, a kind of peaceful truce.

Recently, though, as our cultural borders are blurring across spheres of society, the separate peace I enjoyed between the church I love and the entertainment I love began to crumble.

Growing up surrounded by both Southern Baptist and prosperity gospel principles, I’ve noticed the ethical fluidity that Christians can apply to money and wealth. Earlier this year, an Instagram account called “PreachersnSneakers” generated a firestorm of reaction when it highlighted certain evangelical pastors and their taste for expensive and culturally fashionable footwear. And for years, a similar ire has surrounded pastors who pay for private jets and mansions.

And now, this corner of the evangelical world—which sometimes feels like satire being played out in real life—has made its way to HBO, in its new series, The Righteous Gemstones.

Starring Danny McBride, Adam Devine, Edi Patterson, and the incomparable John Goodman, The Righteous Gemstones is a heightened look at a family of evangelical royalty. Think the Kennedys, but less polished, more Southern fried, and strategizing Jesus instead of politics.

As the series opens, they’ve just returned from a mission trip to China and they are settling in ...

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Your Home Is a Legacy in the Making

Christie Purifoy invites us to join God in cultivating places of beauty and peace.

For years, my friend Kristin privately prayed for a garden with “one towering oak tree,” where she and her husband might create a place for others to rest and retreat. When they recently purchased a home in their native Southern California, the land surrounding it surpassed her own secret desires. Their new home sits on acres of land with lush succulent gardens and is lined with over a dozen mature oak trees. Kristin and her husband envision a property where they might raise their family, but they also want to create space for pastors and writers to connect with God beneath the shelter of thick branches and green leaves. They hope to build a legacy on the land and become rooted as wide and deep as the towering oaks that surround them.

When I heard their story, my first instinct was to reach into my bag and press the book I’d been reading into Kristin’s hands. I resisted only because my copy of Christie Purifoy’s book, Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace, was already covered in inky scribbles. I’d underlined and starred far too many passages (and taken far too many notes) to make this gift a welcome one.

In Placemaker, Purifoy explores themes of rootedness and belonging and, as the title suggests, she writes of cultivating places of rest and retreat, of spaciousness and peace. She also muses on the secret life of trees. “A longing fulfilled is a tree of life” Purifoy writes, and Kristin’s new home with its towering oaks comes to mind.

Casting Seeds of Love

Each chapter of Placemaker is named for a wood or a specific tree: Saucer Magnolia, Silver Maple, Penn’s Woods, Pine Tree, and so on. “What is placemaking?” she writes. “It ...

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