My “group” spans the full spectrum on politics, science, social issues, COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations. I actively dislike the terms “right” and “left” but will use them—because they are useful. Some of my friends seem almost as far right as you can go and others as far left and it began well before COVID. We love each other and spend time together as allowed but it has been a challenge and we’ve learned and re-learned a few things that may be worth sharing.
Do you have a favourite animal?
If you could be an animal, which would you choose?
Would it be the graceful giraffe gliding across the grasslands munching the tops of trees? The lumbering elephant who gulps down 150 litres of water per day? Or the “super” gecko? It can climb straight up a wall at a metre per second, hang upside down from the ceiling and skim across water faster than a duck can swim. It can glide through air, turn itself around in mid-flight, and swing under a branch headfirst and cling to it to hide. And it can change color. Those are super skills!
Some animals look weird. Consider the star-nosed mole. Around its snout is a ray of twenty-two fleshy feelers. These feelers wiggle constantly as the mole digs through wet soil. The mole is blind. He hunts with his star nose bopping against the soil as fast as possible. When he feels an insect or a worm, he gobbles it down faster than you can say “one.”
The blue footed booby is a bird about the size of a duck. It lives on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. And it has blue feet. The booby uses its blue feet to attract a mate. The bluer its feet the more attractive it is. Because the sun on the islands can be harsh, the booby has to cool itself down so it won’t get overheated. It opens its mouth and makes the skin on its neck vibrate. It looks like it’s laughing, but it’s just trying to stay cool.
Why did God create so many different animals?
First, he created them because they please him. He looked at them and “saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25).
God made animals in all colours, shapes and sizes. Some are beautiful and cuddly. Others are strange and unusual; some are downright scary. The parts we find strange are exactly what they need to survive. Like the ray of feelers on the star-nosed mole.
Every animal has a purpose. God created them for us to enjoy and to learn from. Scientists study animals to see how they live and interact with each other, and how they fit into their environment. He created them to help us live successfully in our environment.
For example, bees are necessary for plants to reproduce. As they buzz from plant to plant, they carry the pollen each plant requires to produce seeds.
Squirrels help trees to grow. They forage, collect and stash their nuts and seeds, and often forget to dig them up again. Instead of being eaten the nuts and seeds develop roots and grow to be new trees.
Birds create balance in nature. They drop seeds as they fly, eat pests like bugs and mosquitoes, and they fertilize the soil with their droppings.
God cares about animals. He created them for us and to help us. We help them by treating them well.
Read Proverbs 12:10.
By Karla Hein
I’ll admit that I have blissfully floated through life catching rides on other people’s checklists.
Leaving for college? I received my family’s hand-me-down list of dorm room essentials. Unfortunately, the list didn’t suggest a packing order. My Cheerios had a floral taste suspiciously similar to the fabric softener sheets squished next to them in my suitcase. Continue reading Lists to Live By
By Layton Friesen
Something happened in Mennonite churches in the last one hundred years. As Mennonites embraced global missions, as they moved to cities and planted churches beyond traditional Mennonite communities, they began having identity issues. What is a Mennonite now? Continue reading Who Really Wants to See a Naked Anabaptist?
Faithful in Small Things: How to Serve the Needy When You’re One of Them, Kevin Wiebe (Herald Press, 2021). 224 pp. $22.09. (paperback) ISBN 9781513807744. Reviewed by Stephanie Unger, a resource pastor at Many Rooms Community Church in Winnipeg Man.
In Faithful in Small Things, author and pastor Kevin Wiebe explains that he is “writing this book to ordinary people who may not be able to afford to take trips overseas but who read the words of the Bible and feel compelled by God to do something to make this world a better place.” His goal is to add to the conversation about this important topic rather than to present a final word on the subject. I believe that Wiebe has accomplished exactly what he set out to do; I highly recommend this book to the ordinary people in our ordinary churches. Continue reading Review: Faithful in Small Things: How to Serve the Needy When You’re One of Them
By Stephanie Unger
Fifteen years after buying an 11-bedroom rooming house in Winnipeg’s beautiful but hurting Spence neighbourhood for the experiment of living out faith in community, Stephanie, her husband Travis and their kids, Shadrach and Rachel, embarked on a sabbatical. Continue reading In the Ocean of His Love
by Karla Hein
I’ve been thinking about earthworms lately.
Particularly, I’ve wondered about the shock experienced by the earthworm that was stretched end to end by the inquisitive fingers of my five-year-old in our garden a few weeks ago. Or the one that was scooped from the familiarity of the strawberry patch by a red plastic shovel and abruptly expelled from the garden. Would it ever find its way back? Or did it even care, simply grateful that the sharp beak of a hungry robin hadn’t carried it away?
By Kevin Wiebe
Often in life the things that we focus on are not the most helpful things. In the midst of conflict this happens frequently and is extremely difficult to avoid.
There are three notable things that are helpful to differentiate when we are seeking to make peace with someone. The first is the words or actions that are the source of the conflict. The second are the motives behind those words or actions, and the third is the impact of those words/actions. Continue reading How Dare You Break My Mug!
Transcript: Do Safety Measures Keep us Safe?
GT: I’m Erica Fehr; I’m EMC communications coordinator and I’m talking today with the Mount Salem leadership team. Albert Loewen is Lead Pastor, Patrick Stanat is Youth and Young Adult Pastor and Jennifer Loewen is Children’s Pastor. We’re going to be talking today about safety and a core question is on whether our culture’s increasing focus on safety has actually created greater safety, created a sense of safety, or has it actually done the opposite and created a sense of risk and danger and fear—and how does that affect church ministry? Continue reading Do Safety Measures Keep Us Safe?
by Layton Friesen
Safety has been a divisive question during this pandemic. We have also heard much about clergy sexual abuse recently—again. The grim recurrence of these headlines confirms again what the church should have known: loving and protecting the vulnerable is part of the essence of biblical faith. Is this possibly the harshest thing Jesus ever said? “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). No one can read that without sensing that Jesus had a gut-level, mama-bear instinct to protect the vulnerable rooted in the ancient Israelite concern for the orphan, widow and alien. Continue reading Love is More than Safety