Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
Speaking to the National Congress of Mothers in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt said: “No piled-up wealth, no splendor of material growth, no brilliance of artistic development, will permanently avail any people unless its home life is healthy … No ordinary work done by a man is either as hard or as responsible as the work of a woman who is bringing up a family of small children; for upon her time and strength demands are made not only every hour of the day but often every hour of the night … The woman who is a good wife, a good mother, is entitled to our respect as is no one else …” Continue reading
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” were some of the words Jesus cried from the cross (Matthew 27:46).
It is easy to look up to God, when our lives are filled with gladness. But, what about those times when we are at the absolute end of our robe, like life is ebbing away (cp. Job 30:16)? When prayers seem to go unanswered (cp. Job 30:20)? When we seem to suffer at no fault of our own (cp. Job 29:11-17; 30:1)? Continue reading
Many people say that Christianity is just a bunch of rules: don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t have sex outside of marriage, don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, don’t do this, don’t do that. If Christianity is just following an agreed upon set of rules, we would all fail. Continue reading
Lisa was looking for a church. She wanted to find a church where her children could learn the things she learned as a child, where she could participate in the church’s music, and where sermons were interesting and relevant to her life. The First Church of Anywhere fit the bill. But, when the church laid off the youth pastor for budgetary issues, when the music program became flat, and when sermons seemed less interesting, she left the First Church of Anywhere and ran to the First Church of Anywhere Else. Continue reading
Last December Hamilton Gibson Productions performed a poem written by Presbyterian minister Henry van Dyke at Wellsboro’s Dickens of a Christmas Celebration. The poem is entitled “The Foolish Fir-Tree” and tells the story of a fir tree in the middle of the woods.
Although the little fir tree started out content and happy with his beautiful evergreen clothes, trouble came in the summer. Continue reading
The heroes of our time rarely accomplished the great things they are known for easily. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa; these were people who faced abounding adversity, yet remained resolute. Those who confess Christ and seek to demonstrate to the world the life he calls us to will not find convenience and coziness in this world.
The Beatitudes are one of the best-known portions of Scripture (Matthew 5:1-12). They predicate the characteristics of the blessed person. However, there is a rhetorical irony contained within them. The type of people mentioned are not those you might expect to be blessed. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are the humble… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Blessed are the merciful… Blessed are the pure in heart… Blessed are the peacemakers… Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness… Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of [Christ].” Jesus takes what is so often valued in the world and turns it upside down. And he promises these upside-down people the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let’s look at just one of these beatitudes. “Blessed are the merciful.” After apartheidism ended in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed. It provided an opportunity for those who committed gross human right violations during the apartheid era to give testimony and request amnesty. There is a story of a frail black South African woman who sat-in on one of these trials. Former police officer Mr. van de Broek confessed that he with other officers shot the woman’s fourteen-year-old son dead at point-blank range. Then, eight years later, they seizing her husband and burned him at the stake. The commission asked the woman what she wanted for Mr. van de Broek. She said she wanted three things: 1. She wanted him to take her to the place they burned her husband, so that she could gather the ashes and give him a proper burial. 2. She said that Mr. van de Broek took her whole family and she still had lots of love to give. Twice a month she wanted him to join her in the ghetto, so that she could be a mother to him. 3. She wanted him to know that God had forgiven him, and that she forgave him too.
The blessed life is rarely the easy life. Which predications in the beatitudes do you resonate with? Which ones challenge you?