Theologian Stanley Hauerwas has observed that many believers in Jesus “think they have a relationship with God that they go to church to have expressed. . . . I think that’s to get it exactly backwards.” A local church isn’t merely a gathering of people who already have a relationship with Jesus. Meeting together is central to that relationship.
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!
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).
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.
After recent trips to two different amusement parks, I realized that our broken sense of sexuality is most visible in public places, not our bedrooms. People are in love with their own nakedness. I live in a region known for its hot summers, but what people choose to wear is more about the dictates of cultural norms than keeping cool.
Amen! We typically say it at the end of our prayers, but Amen has more significance than simply being the last word in a prayer. Of the 30 times it’s used in the Old Testament, Amen is nearly always a response of approval to something that has been stated.