Resource, Poem

Two verses for teachers on the cusp of summer. 

July 23, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

In 2018, we'd like to give the "Together Doing More" section of The Banner a fresh look and a new name. What types of posts would you like to see? Any suggestions for what to call this section? 

July 12, 2017 1 2 comments
Discussion Topic

Are you hoping to do some reading this summer? If so, what books are on the top of your list? 

June 5, 2017 1 19 comments
Q&A

I am really wrestling with what to do with all my books. I guess I could box and store them, but is there another option?

April 5, 2017 1 6 comments
Discussion Topic

We desire to reach communities that have no idea what “the law” is. Do they really need to hear the law to see their sin? Doesn't it make more sense to meet Jesus, Christ crucified, and let him reveal their sin?

March 15, 2017 2 0 comments
Discussion Topic

While the article centers on some of the tensions and debates at the school, I think that many of the topics explored are also at play in our wider denominational landscape.

March 2, 2017 2 1 comments
Q&A

When did the Sabbath day start? Was it on the 7th day of the creation week? At Mount Sinai? Time of Abraham?

February 20, 2017 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Do you have photos of your church living out its mission as a family of believers? Share them with your wider Christian Reformed Church family! 

January 12, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Procedure

Want to make sure you never miss a single issue of The Banner? Use this link to update your address or subscribe to receive The Banner

December 27, 2016 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

During our last U.S. presidential campaign and election I was frustrated by the lies and contradictions that surfaced that were neither challenged, investigated, or held accountable for.

November 22, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Even as a cynical observer, I’ll admit the 2016 Cubs’ season has been very impressive. And one reason they’ve nearly won me over is because they’ve been showing how good they are instead of telling me.

October 25, 2016 2 0 comments
Resource, Article

When we consider the words of James 3:17, the question that each Christian must ask is no longer “Where is God in the US presidential election?” but “Where is God in my life as I participate in the US election?”

October 24, 2016 0 4 comments
Blog

Senator Clinton’s and Mr. Trump’s toxic behavior towards one another is highly contagious. It’s impacting us more than we realize. All of this makes me think about the essential role of Christian community.

October 19, 2016 3 3 comments
Blog

Stories are powerful. Even simple stories have the ability to engage us on many levels, not just our heads but our hearts. What is your story? Where has God placed you, and what journey are you on?

September 26, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Stephanie Williams, M.D., chief of the blood and marrow transplant program at Spectrum Health in Chicago, talks about what it means to her to be part of the CRC. Do you have a story about what it means to you to be Christian Reformed?

September 21, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

I've noticed that people like me and congregations like mine have chosen one of three types of relationships with their denominations. The third group (the newest kid on the block) may not be readily apparent to most.

September 19, 2016 0 2 comments
Blog

This may come as a surprise to some, but a denomination is not a church. The denomination needs to embrace and affirm its true identity and sole purpose: to support the ministry of local congregations. 

August 29, 2016 1 59 comments
Blog

Most pastors will acknowledge that the relationship between their congregations and their denominations is tethered by but a thread. One wonders if there's a future for denominations, and if so, what's the way forward?

August 23, 2016 2 7 comments
Discussion Topic

A warm welcome to newly appointed editor of The Banner, Shiao Chong! We are curious. . . If you were the newly appointed editor of The Banner, what would be the headline or topic of your next editorial?

August 4, 2016 4 27 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Ed Shaw's book Same-Sex Attraction and the Church is a crucial resource for the CRC's ongoing conversation on sexuality. Here is my review of Shaw's book:

For far too long in this country it has seemed possible to enjoy both the Christian life and the American dream. Christians have...

July 7, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Instead of dire predictions of storms and divisions, let’s put our heads together and talk, form relationships, and learn how to love one another, as God in Christ has loved us.

June 24, 2016 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Many Christians have a favorite scripture or "life verse" that inspires their vision and mission in the world. Are there hymns and contemporary Christian songs that do the same?

April 13, 2016 1 8 comments
Blog

Hans Fiene, a Lutheran pastor looks behind the scenes at the motivation for social activism by the church.

April 1, 2016 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

There are some Christian scholars who support the idea of government help for the poor.  

March 18, 2016 1 0 comments
Blog

What is it that drives people to do something out of the goodness of their heart with no expectation of reward?

March 9, 2016 0 0 comments

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Thanks Craig.  This is helpful feedback.  The unfortunate thing is that videos are expensive and time consuming to produce. If most churches aren't going to use them, or if a handful of churches are only going to show them once, it is hard for ministries to justify spending funds and time to make them.

With that said, I've been part of a few conversations recently about trying to create "less polished" videos that could still serve our needs, but at at lower cost.  Stay tuned.  

In the meantime, is there anything that you would like to see in print in the Together Doing More section of The Banner? Sounds like some good news stories from the denomination would be appreciated if we can cut through the clutter and get people to read them.

This topic has become a big discussion for our congregation.  It seems that most people are unaware of what happens in our denomination and so they have a bad impression, since as we all know, bad news often spreads further than good news.  We have found that people don't tend to read written material whether it be in the bulletin, in their church mailboxes, or in the Banner.  So, we are attempting to find other way to share this information.  In my opinion the greatest impact is face-to-face, which we all know is difficult, at least the further you get away from Grand Rapids.  Next we have found that videos during the church services make an impact over time.  It needs to be in front of them multiple times.  That being said it would be nice to have more information passed on by way of videos.  It has been hard to find them.  Maybe they are being produced but we aren't receiving them.  A few years back a great video was made explaining ministry shares, but it would be nice to have consecutive weeks where specific ministries or agencies are highlighted in the CRCNA.

This looks fascinating Evelyn. Have you already read it? 

 

It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.  

by Mark Wolynn

Love the description; I am already hooked into Ai-Ming's story. Thanks for sharing, Valerie. 

These are great suggestions, Rob. I just added "Not Sure" to my list. 

Love the detail in your review! thanks for sharing.

Thanks Angela. I just read the description of "Mentor for Life" and am intrigued. I enjoy some light mystery novels, too! 

Would love to hear how this is going! 

I just recently picked up Heaven by Randy Alcorn, too. It came highly recommended. 

Would love to hear how it is, Maria!

Thanks, Mavis. Glad you appreciated it too!  

I am in the middle of "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" by Madeleine Thien. This is what the Man Booker Prize site says about "Do Not Say...": 

In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman called Ai-Ming, who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. 

Ai-Ming tells Marie the story of her family in Revolutionary China - from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989.  It is a story of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians - the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai - struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.  Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming – and for Marie.

It's a great book!

Recently I've read Not Sure by John Suk, which articulates a very thoughtful perspective of our faith journeys at multiple levels. 

I'm looking forward to reading Introverts in the Church, by Adam McHugh and Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton (which I understand is a "local missions" version of the fantastic When Helping Hurts).

I highly recommend When Breath Becomes Air, too.  I listened to it, but reading or listening, it's great!

Just read News of the World  by Paulette Jiles and really enjoyed it. Two on my to be read list: Ruined by Ruth Everhart and La Rose by Louise Erdrich.

I'm reading "Mentor For Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship" by Narasha Sistrunk Robinson and plan to return to "Teaching the Faith, Informing the Faithful: A Biblical Vision For Education In The Church" by Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang. Interspersed will be some light mystery novels on my e-reader.

 The Giveness of things, by Marilynne Robinson; Heaven by Randy Alcorn

The Praying for Renewal in the Christian Reformed Church Facebook page recommended "Dirty Glory" by Pete Greig. So I am going to check that one out this summer!

The best book I've read recently is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. An emotional and powerful read by a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He writes honestly about what happens to your faith and life plans when the unthinkable happens. He made me think about what makes life worth living and the impact we leave on those around us. 

A couple books that I want to read include Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and A Woman's Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World by Katelyn Beaty. 

thx Chuck, I am in Bozeman, MT now. Doing an interim pastoral job.  Bozeman area is where I grew up. The ranch I grew up on is now run by my youngest brother. Nice to be back. I also have another brother in the area.

I left my books on the shelves in my office at Trinity CRC  St. L.   they are vacant now....I will donate them when I get back.

I saw that your dad finished his earthly pilgrimage. Great man. May your mother be guided by the Spirit of Christ as a widow.

Until then,  gil

 

We recently downsized. While I am not a pastor, we were able to donate some to our church library, and others to a thrift store our church members operate. Our children were given first choice, but books are not so much in vogue for them. We love books, but have gone ourselves to e-books better for travel, and space taken.

I helped distribute a retired pastor's library who is from our church. Credo was OK but didn't take much. I found the best price & distribution at the local seminary's used book store. (Multnomah Seminary in Portland). They were glad to receive all the older volumes as well as more recent ones; they had a ready market of fresh seminary students.

Hi, Gil. Remember teaching in Moscow together. Good times.

I offered everything I had to Gary Vander Scaaf at Credo Books: https://www.facebook.com/Credo-Books-Books-for-Believers-Since-1983-1505...

He gave a fair price for what he could use (not as much as I'd like, but fair) and in my case hauled the rest away to donate or recycle. Not sure how that would work in St. Louis. Maybe you can send digital pictures of your library and get a quote on what he can use, and ship them via media mail.

P.S. I'm not quite retired yet. Got a year to go. Bit I did this when i was moving from Michigan to Alaska four years ago. Too much weight to ship that far. Besides, almost everything is available digitally today. 

I'm with Chuck, I love books. I've been blessed to have inherited a few small collections from former pastors. I would suggest finding a young minister who would be blessed by having such resources available.

Hi, Pastor Gil--

No good advice here, except to say that I wish I were closer to St. Louis--I'd drop in and buy some from you!

I'm as much of a bibliophile (or book hoarder!) as my dad was. Not sure what I am going to do if I ever need to downsize. Shalom, and best wishes on your retirement.

One of your former catechism students,

Chuck Adams

 I have mixed feelings about having the CRC associated with a woman who didn't do her homework prior to her being interviewed by the Senate for her qualifications as Secretary of Education.  I can admit she would have preferences, but that does NOT excuse her ignorance of rhe public school system in her own country and its strengths and weaknesses. 

Today I heard something about the USA supreme court redefining marriage.  And in the process, innocent Christians are being persecuted, fined and prosecuted for exercising their religious freedom.  Are the democrats doing anything to reverse that?  To protect these issues of conscience?  Are they speaking out against it?  Are they promoting judges who take a more reasonable view of the US constitution?  

If not, are Democrats still a viable option for Christians?  Shouldn't they support politicians who at least honor God with their lips, rather than deny his claims to His very face?  

And compare their stand on abortion, the murder, desecreation and genocide of innocent preborn human beings.  Does not this also call into question any support by Christians of a Democrat party that promotes and funds institutions such as PLanned Parenthood, whose main business and funding stream is for abortion?  

I believe the bible tells us that The Sabbath Day started in the garden of Eden. The Sabbath day was the seventh day of creation week. The Sabbath was instituted  before man sinned. Thus, the Sabbath day was made for all man and not just for the Jews. Adam and Eve where the first humans to observe the Sabbath day that God blessed and sanctified.

In his entire campaign, Trump vilified his opponents, some of whom later refused to vote for him in the Presidential election.  (ie. the Bush family).  Many Rep were talking of voting against their party.  In the end, Trump convinced most that he wanted to unite the party, that bygones are bygones, and he even appointed some of his most vociferous opponents to cabinet posts.  You forget that if both parties simply spout the same lines, there is no reason to have two or three parties at all.  It remains to be seen if Trump's vision will work out, but many christians were convinced that with all its foibles, it was still a better option than the alternative.  

In all of this we are forgetting a few things.  Trump appealed to people on a whole bunch of populist ideas and concerns.  He fought his campaign not on the basis of California liberalism, but on mid-west conservatism.  But for years, politicians have been ignoring the plight of the unborn who are murdered at will.  It is a more significant issue than terrorism since the number of human beings, black, white, hispanic, who are destroyed by abortion is vastly greater than any other deliberate cause of death.  So if judges are appointed who can respect life, who can put limits to this carnage, then christians and muslims and other decent human beings ought to support that.  And Trump's withdrawal of support for Planned Parenthood alone would give him a tremendous amount of room to make mistakes in other areas.  In addition, although Trump's personal life is by no means ideal with his divorces etc.,  nevertheless if he supports traditional marriage and family values, especially in his later life, or at least politically, then that is a very important consideration.  

He has stated a very definitive support for legal hispanic immigrants, as well as for blacks and other minorities.  His own wife is an immigrant, which speaks as loudly as any thing he has said.  It is possible that if a convincing argument is made regarding harmlessness of vetted immigrants that he will reduce or reverse his strong stance on that issue.  But remember that he is a politician trying to keep his promises made on the campaign trail, not a politican who was intentionally lying the whole time.  

He will have difficulty with the health care issue also, but that is a whole 'nuther matter.  

 1. I don't see why the CRCNA would be immune to high-handed sin where other denominations aren't.  I haven't noticed that human nature was any different in our denomination than elsewhere.  

I remember reading in Philip Yancey's book Grace Notes about his meeting with a friend of his in a coffee shop because the other man was planning to leave his wife and family to marry another woman whom he found more exciting, and as this friend asked Yancey if he could be forgiven for this sin he was knowingly planning to commit, Yancey asked him if he would WANT to be forgiven knowing it would involve repentance.  Is there ANY man or woman in the CRCNA above lusting for someone else to the point of planning to divorce their present spouse and abandon their kids?

I wonder if that option was considered?

Regarding announcement  (Oct 16, 2016) of combining OSJ with Race Relations.  With retirements and leaders leaving these Departments the church simply posts another job for a combined department leader, but leaving the functions in place.  This is a missed opportunity to privatize these two functions. For those willing to support lobbying governments they should be willing to put organizations in place to do that and fund them. The church can no longer afford this cost that should never have been in the church in the first place.

 

This is a very helpful piece.  I wish I had read it weeks ago!  Thanks.  I certainly resonate with the idea that the campaign is creating stress in me!  Being more aware of that helps; I had never heard of the research about being affected by the negatives of leaders.  I guess it makes sense that if we can be inspired by leaders, we can also be "de-spired".  May I really have the mind of Christ in coming days and months.... and years. 

 Ron

I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say. The question is not . Who is the final Judge. There is no question who is Lords of lords and King of kings.

However, we were created in Gods image and in Christ we are new creatures.. We are the hands and feet of Christ to do His work here on earth. I believe this includes our responsibility as for who we  will vote.  As  Abraham Kuyper taught us, There is no square inch in the whole domain of our human existence  over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry,Mine! A difficult principle to live by, especially this year in the election of a new president.But that is our caller as ambassadors of Christ. Whether we are preachers, teachers, farmers, retired sar any other station in life. This our calling, to represent Christ where ever we live or whatever we do here on this earth.

 On second thought, I think I do know you and I can't believe we disagree with each other.

 

Excellent thoughts!

We don't exactly have a choice between Buhari and Goodluck, but we know who Axelrod will be voting for (and maybe advising) in our own election.

In the end "God is the ruler, yet" and even though, "Indeed, Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen." (Acts 4:27,28)

 

This may seem strange but I find this election to be less divisive in terms of the electorate, or at least the part of the electorate I live with.

To date, I have seen no (zero) lawn signs for either presidential candidate  (which is an extreme aberration), and I've seen only a couple of bumper stickers.  And and when I talk with people, almost no one is voting FOR the candidate they I tend to vote for, but AGAINST the other one.

And to the extent, again at least where I am from, that I see more common ground in the presidential race than I have ever before, I'm a bit encouraged.  At least we can somewhat agree about what a good candidate is not. :-)

 

Yes, confessing your sins and your fallibility is a good thing.  God loves the sinner, but his children become saints through Christ, as revealed in their obedience to God.  

It is great to read a discussion about our present day election and especially the election of our next president of the USA. No doubt those who do the writing are far more educated than this person. However, one does not need a PHD or any other qualification behind her or his name, to understand the clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible plainly says :"You shall nor murder"

One of the candidate for president, promote abortion and even partial birth abortion.. That to me is plain murder. Our Church has a clear stand on the abortion issue. Only when the life of the mother is at stake is abortion allowed, However, life truly must be at stake.

How can any Christian support a candidate or party that supports the killing of an unborn baby. Yes, it may be just one issue. But the issue is important enough not to vote for candidates who openly support killing those babies who are created by our Good in His image.

Thank you for this insightful post Joshua.  The problem you cite is one of the reason I promote more limited government at more centralized levels and more expanded government at less centralized levels.

Bottom line is that is is far more difficult to be so polarized and so hyper-strident when political decisions are made at the local level, where you can see the people you disagree with face to face, and when you realize they are neighbors or folks in the town or city near you.  And the opposite is true when the candidate are iconic figure from a far away place that you will never talk to, or if you do, in any way that goes beneath the superficial.

There is another reason decentralized government is good.  The more centralized governmental power is, the more it is vulnerable to corruption.  Big power structures want  to (need to in their opinion), and can, control a centralized government more than decentralized governmentS.

I can only hope that the race now underway of having the federal government become more pervasive and state/local governments become less and less meaningful (a perspective held by both primary candidates, even if more perhaps by one of them and that party) will expose itself as a bad mistake and that we will learn from that.

 

 

 

  Timely post and one that deals with my family and church member relations.  We have made party loyalty more important than our unity in Christ. Statements like"I cannot see how a Christian could vote for Trump or Clinton" are too abundant and thoughtful and caring dialogue are too rare.

Perhaps for the sake of clarity we should put two streams together. Both the "what is the purpose of a denomination (focusing on agencies, services and the like) and the Same sex marriage debate as seen in the recent decisions of Synod 2016 http://www.thebanner.org/news/2016/09/clarifying-synod-2016-s-decisions-on-pastoral-advice-regarding-same-sex-marriage 

The attempt to re-organize the Sy-board (Synodical board model turned half organism half modern business-style institution) usually gets all excited about the word "leadership" but when it comes to dealing with the hot social issue of the day, one that will likely split the church or at least irritate it with many leaders from both sides seeing it as an existential threat, on this issue Sy-board leadership must keep mum. We will not hear an ED, or agency director or anyone with an office at 2850 say much on this issue besides dutifully carry the water of Synod. Part of that is of course their job, but it illuminates the contradictions within the system. 

In a sense this model of Sy-board says "it doesn't really matter what you believe (on this issue) we want to be a service agency, responding to market forces and delivering 'solution' to help your local (consumer) church grow according to the metrics that are important to you."

In other words the "hope of the world" has little to do with the outcome of the LGBTQ culture war. 

I recommend considering Jerry Muller's book "The Mind and the Market". Voltaire in his hatred of "religious enthusiasm" was tremendously impressed with emerging capitalism. Here the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran, the Quaker, the Calvinist, the Jew and the Muslim could find peace and unity together in the market place while Europe was tearing itself apart over sectarian conflicts. 

"Voltaire’s defense of the market in the Letters and later in his Philosophical Dictionary was political rather than economic. Market activity was valued not because it made society wealthier, but because the pursuit of economic self-interest was less dangerous than the pursuit of other goals, above all religious zealotry."

Muller, Jerry Z.. The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Western Thought (p. 23). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

The irony here is that one side says "God won't bless a church that sanctions sin" while the other says "Unless the church gets with the times by calling traditional Christian sexual ethics bigotry people won't give it a second look" while in a sense the church management people come in with Voltaire and say "it doesn't matter what you believe, with better services and resources you will grow..."

Are we all living in the same world? Yet the last thing we'll do is put these conversations together even though they do reside in the same world in every Synod, Classis and local church. 

Will "benchmarks" be theology blind? 

This gets into both Lambert's point and Bill Harris' point. 

 

Thanks, Doug, for the suggestion.  I don't know first hand, but such experiences may have played a role in the development of groups like ECO and LCMC.

I'm going suggest there is a "fourth group" in addition to the three indicated in this article, it being a local church that fully maintains its association with its denomination but increasingly finding that the denomination hurts the local church's ministry.

That's my local CRC church.  We've had good families come to and join our local church (even become an office bearer), only to leave some years later  because the "mission" of the denomination, as revealed in denominational paper and e-publications is perceived as significantly at odds with what they thought (correctly) the local church represented.

In a very real way, the "doing more together" can become "doing what some want to do, institutionally using ministry share funds, even if what those 'some' want to do is not a church ("eccessisatical") thing."

 

Just an FYI that Part 3 of this series has just been posted. 

 

Hi Bev! Just an FYI that Part 3 has just been posted. 

So what is the annual OSJ budget?

It also includes people who are volunteering for free.

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