I recently heard a couple of comments that really bothered me:
- “I don’t like to read the Old Testament. It’s all about God’s wrath.”
- “Which one is true, the kind, loving Jesus or the mean God of the Old Testament? It can’t be both!”
While the person I’m quoting was patterning her image of God on her abusive earthly father, she pointed out a common belief—that God the Father is primarily an angry person—that while Jesus is our friend and brother, the Father has a big scowl on his face.
For years, the church in Europe has been in decline. We speak of rising secularism, and the evidence is everywhere. Soaring cathedrals stand empty, with the buildings for sale. The German Spiegel Online reports:
Dwindling church attendance and dire financial straits are forcing the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany to sell off church buildings en masse. Some are demolished, while others are turned into restaurants or indoor rock climbing centers.
A cathedral in the Netherlands has been turned into a skateboard park. Others are becoming mosques.
Think of the words we use to describe God—holy, omnipotent, faithful, loving, and so forth. We’ve all seen the lists and heard the sermons. The whole business of describing God seems so serious. We should show our respect, after all. But how often do we think of God as having a sense of humor? Does God ever laugh? Is God… fun?
If we’re truly made in the image of God—and the Bible tells us that we are—then our ability to laugh implies that He laughs too. So why don’t we ever talk about this aspect of His personality?
When the Apostle Paul exhorted us to be hospitable (see 1 Peter 4:9 for example), I doubt he had microbes in mind. But God might have. We’re host to trillions of the little creatures—on our skin, in our gut, flowing through our veins, and in all of those moist and warm cavities our bodies possess. In fact, they’re in every part of us. And that’s a good thing.
The National Institute of Health’s 2014 Human Microbiome Project concluded that “10,000 microbial species occupy the human ecosystem.” That’s species, not individuals. Other estimates put that number much higher, with 40,000 species of bacteria in our gut alone.
We’ve all been asked to pray for various things. Please pray for my sister, she’s going through a hard time. Please pray for me, I have an important decision to make. Please pray, my husband lost his job. And when someone asks us to pray, we feel compelled to say yes. After all, the Bible is full of examples—both exhortations to pray for each other and examples of those prayers. Prayer is an excellent way we can demonstrate our love for people, fulfilling God’s commandment to love one another as ourselves. Jesus clearly tells us to share our prayer requests:
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:19-20)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly known as Zaire) might be the poorest country in the world. It’s a place of both abundant natural resources and abject misery. Located in the heart of Africa, the DRC is surrounded by ten other nations, including Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda. Africa’s second-largest country (by land area), it’s home to 80 million people.
The DRC should be a prosperous nation, with its flowing rivers (and their ability to generate hydroelectric power), fertile soil, and rich mineral resources. It is not.
Mother’s Day. It started as an effort to reunite the North and South after the Civil War, led in large part by a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis. She organized picnics and other opportunities for mothers from both sides of the conflict to come together in friendship and peace.
Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, “never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908.” Her focus was on appreciating one’s own mother, not mothers in general (hence the careful placement of the apostrophe).*