The mood in the church was heavy as believers in my city gathered to mourn the horror of a racist demonstration in America and its deadly aftermath. As we united to grieve and pray, a question seemed to hang in the air: What does it mean to hope during days like this—when evil is on full display and when the justice of God’s kingdom seems far away?
Last summer, my city was embroiled, yet again, in a confrontation with the ongoing realities of racism in our nation. To protest the removal of a local statue honoring a general who fought to preserve slavery, some white-supremacist groups descended on our town. The pain caused by the hate-filled demonstration opened wounds that were hidden below the surface. In the US, we like to pretend that these issues are ancient history, but until we deal head on with these sins, we’ll never be healed of the evil.
Author Sarah Wells, in her blog post “Church, Why Bother?” writes, “On Sunday mornings, I have the keen sense of worshiping God with other believers in my community while other believers around my community, my state, the country, and the world also worship. All of those believers are strangely and mysteriously and powerfully connected to us by the Holy Spirit, and we are all together worshiping one God in a dedicated space at a dedicated time.”
During a visit to Melbourne, Australia, my hosts took me on a mini-tour of the city. Along the way, they pointed out some buildings that had been converted from churches to bars. I’ve learned that this is a common practice—not only in Australia, but around the world. Troubled, I wondered what the future held for places of worship. Imagine my elation when I read of a bar that’s reversing the trend and returning to its roots as a church!
The song “You Are My One Thing,” by songwriter Hannah McClure voices a deep cry of the heart to walk closely with God and experience His presence. The lyrics are a beautiful reminder of how our relationship with God can transform our lives. Hannah says that the song came out of a season when God was calling her back to remember the time where she’d first experienced the depth of His love for her.
The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” A student misquoted this as, “Our purpose is to glorify God and endure Him forever.” The mistake is funny, but isn’t that sometimes how we secretly feel about eternity? What will we do there except sing praise songs? How wonderful for the first million years. But . . . forever?
When the school year ended in 2016, I stayed in town (three hours from home) for an internship, while my college friends left for the summer. I loved the internship, but because it was part-time, I found myself spending long hours alone in my apartment. Throughout the summer, I faced intense feelings of loneliness. One day I finally dropped to the floor in tears, asking God why He was allowing me to feel so despondent.
Every religion has its places of worship—places that are considered sacred. In the Old Testament, we read of three festivals for worshiping God at the temple in Jerusalem each year (Deuteronomy 16:16).
In the book You and Me Together, Francis Chan writes, “The problem many couples [have] is that they spend a lot of time looking at themselves and each other, but very little time staring at God.” These words point us to the importance of placing our focus on Him.
Many organizations have benefited from the charitable donations of the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation, which has funded college scholarships, universities, medical centers, and much more. When the head of the foundation, John Rogers, was asked for his motivation for giving, he said this: “You can’t take it with you. I am a custodian of the money God has given me.” This generous spirit was directly derived from the generosity of God Himself.
Sitting near the front of our church every Sunday you’ll find a family with a teenage son who personifies joy. Landon never says anything more than “hi” due to his special needs. But he loves music!
For years, Denise referred warmly to her sibling Carolyn as “my little sister.” Carolyn faced significant cognitive challenges, but she loved life and brought joy to everyone who knew her. She loved Jesus too!
I once heard about a first-time author who came to Jesus due to the stunning success of his book. The way he saw it, God escalated the book’s accomplishment beyond the merits of his talent in order to get his attention. Humbled, the author responded by seeking God and ultimately believing in Christ. What makes this story so unusual is that success more often has the opposite effect; after initial demonstrations of gratitude, we tend to forget God in the midst of plenty.
Years ago, a stray cat began to visit my parents’ house. After several back-door bowls of milk, they decided to adopt him and name him Theo. He enjoyed being petted and fed, but he often left for days and returned with bloodied ears, smelling like a trashcan. But my parents were always happy when he came home.
Getting a group of people to move in the same way and at the same time requires a lot of skill. But more than 31,000 dancers in China made it look easy. Guinness World Records says that 31,697 Chinese women set the record for mass plaza dancing in multiple locations. The participants danced for more than five minutes in six different cities.