Comment Stream

Kevin Soodsma June 21, 2018

I'm not sure that every Psalm has a setting of each genre.  I do know that there are plenty.  Psalms For All Seasons has a "Genre" index, so if you are looking for contemporary settings, metrical settings, folk settings, other countries, etc. they are listed in the indices.  

Aaron De Boer June 21, 2018

Yes!  As Paul regulated the worship in the churches his injunction to Ephesus (Eph. 5:19) was that their melody making to the Lord consist of Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Jesus authored the Psalms, sang them with a human tongue, as a boy in synagogue, as a pilgrim ascending the Jerusalem plateau, after the institution of the sacrament He sang from the Hallel, and He sings with the great congregation (Heb. 2:12) this very day.

We in Sumas, Washington include at least one, usually more psalter settings each Lord's Day.  From Bourgeois in 1551, to 2014 and RC Sproul's rendition of Psalm 91 called "The Secret Place".

My mother, a gifted, lifelong church vocalists has long said; "The only thing we take to heaven with us is the psalter!"

I urge you pastors and worship leaders to put the heavenly hymn and prayer book on the lips of your people.  

Glory be to God.

A great psalmody reference is a Youtube site maintained by some of our United Reformed brothers, it is a terrific resource for personal devotion, and, worship planning.


Safe Church Ministry June 21, 2018

Thank you Angela. I will make your words my prayer. 

Angela Elliott June 20, 2018

The whole conversation on the floor of Synod when the Advisory Committee spoke was amazing to watch. The stories that were shared, the pain that was disclosed and the incredible sense that something needed to be done was so very uplifting. I hope that everyone there goes back to their classes and home church and reports on what happened at Synod.

Terry Woodnorth June 20, 2018

From the Diakonia Remixed report:

"Another related principle is that the delegation of deacons to major assemblies is not about equal representation as such, as if there should be some balance of power, but rather it is about the full representation of the whole church which these offices represent. When deacons are missing from major assemblies, the full voice of the church is not heard, nor is the full ministry of the church under discussion. The purpose of the major assemblies is not simply governance and adjudication but deliberation about the church’s character and ministry, a deliberation in which the deacons ought surely to participate."

How about another bullet under reason 1? The whole church is fully represented when all the offices (deacon, elder, pastor) are represented.

Drew Sweetman June 20, 2018

We have a license through CCLI that allows us to post our entire service online.  We do not do online streaming.  CCLI has a few conditions, including making sure that words/music on the screen is not the dominant image.  For congregational singing, the camera pans out to show the congregation and makes the words/music on the screen hard to see.  We upload our videos to Vimeo and then link our website to Vimeo.  To see what it looks like, click here.  The sound quality is not the best (see other comments about mix) but it seems to serve us well.

Carolyn Hamming June 20, 2018

Hi Nicole,

Copyright is one concern about livestreaming the service but another thing to consider is privacy.  A church service often has a congregational prayer which often has prayers for the people.  Do people like to have their prayer requests broadcasted all over the world or to just stay in the local church community?  I have not watched enough of livestreaming but will it just be centred on the people up front - pastor, praise team, those involved with the service?  May need to consider whether people like to be on the website. 

Bonnie Nicholas June 19, 2018

I have found spiritual direction invaluable in my life. Not sure I would have survived without it at certain points, or at least would not be in the same place I am now. A spiritual director will help you see God's presence in places where you haven't seen it before, and can help frame or form your own questions and conversations with God. So thankful for good spiritual directors, and would encourage anyone who is serious about going deeper in their relationship with God, and with yourself to try it. I think you'll like it. 


Bonnie Nicholas June 19, 2018

This is good Mark, I'll look forward to your other posts. Such a valuable learnings for all of us: ministering the very presence and grace of God, seeing suffering as our preparation for ministry, and seeing our own weakness as God's strength. Thank you.

Bonnie Nicholas June 19, 2018

I agree wholeheartedly with these good reasons why deacons are needed at classis and synod gatherings. It's a much better and more fruitful meeting when the deacons are there. THANK YOU deacons for serving in this way - we need you.

Matt Timms June 19, 2018

We are blessed to have a worship leader (shout out to Aaron Antoon) who writes contemporary songs based on the Psalms. We usually sing at least one of them every week - it's a great way for us to stay engaged with the songbook of God's people. 

If you're interested in hearing some of the songs he's written, he's posted a number of them to his website


Michele Gyselinck June 19, 2018

 Good training.  It is true that men are prone to give advice when they should just shut up and listen.  A woman who used to be a member of the church I attend, but who moved away some years ago went through a depression about 30 years ago, and at a party both of us attended her husband mused that when she told him how she felt his first response was to give advice, but that wasn't what she needed or wanted.  Keep up the discipline, even if it goes against the grain.

Lori Geels June 19, 2018

Your final point is very valid and important. 

I also think it’s important to consider the importance of the offering as an element of worship, which should follow the preaching of the word and show our gratitude to God for the privilege of hearing His Word proclaimed. 

I appreciate the convenience of online giving, but think it removes the significance of the offering in the worship service. 

Eileen Kooreman June 19, 2018

I recently did some research on this topic. According to the Digital Media Law Project website (2014), copyrighted works such as music and movies may be performed or displayed without permission in the course of face-to-face teaching. I think a sermon would qualify.

There is also a copyright principle called "fair use". Fair Use is a complicated and confusing term that provides an exception to copyright restrictions. It is defined as brief excerpts of copyright material that are quoted for purposes such as news reporting, teaching, and research. Under the principle of fair use, there is no need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder but attribution to the owner must be cited.

Be cautious about using video sharing sites like YouTube. According to Google’s terms of service, you are permitted to view YouTube video only through Google's own website. The most ethical way to use YouTube videos is to embed a link into your power point. The problem with that is the links can be unstable based on the quality of your internet provider, and they include commercials. Read the rules for the site you are using.

Existing copyright law has many gray areas that do not take new technologies into account. These laws even vary from country to country based on where the media was first registered or produced. If in the doubt, the safest thing is to document the steps taken to establish ownership, or determine if the media falls under the 'fair use' policy. That way if permission is questioned, a goodwill effort can be shown.

Darren Suderman June 19, 2018

Thanks for replying. I just looked up Psalms For All Seasons. Does every psalm contain a modern, contemporary-style musical setting as well as an older metrical setting? Also, are there any other psalters that contain contemporary musical settings?

Henry DeMoor June 19, 2018

Cedric is correct about this if we are talking about administering the sacrament.  But I distinguish between the administration of the sacrament and the distribution of the elements.  Elders typically distribute the bread and wine (though others may assist).  A minister or an authorized elder administers them.

As I wrote in my commentary on Article 55:

"I do happen to believe that elders and ministers are free to serve communion to the home-bound or to members in hospitals or rest homes.  I don't view these as private celebrations of the sacrament but, rather, as extensions of official worship in the building.

Specifically, I have found it meaningful to have elders or elders' assistants serving such folk the bread and wine while playing tape recordings or DVD's of the service on a Sunday afternoon.  That enhances the notion that these actually become "extensions."  Then again, our elders sometimes do it in groups of three or four at hospitals or hospice facilities in a very simple ceremony along with prayer over one who is critically ill.  This reminds me of James 5:14: 'Is anyone among you sick?  Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.' So I have a hard time saying that this violates the order of the church."


Kevin Soodsma June 19, 2018

We do when it fits well with the sermon text.  I also mix it up as far as musical genre.  We love some of the older metrical and 1912 Psalter settings, but also have grown to love the new settings also.  Check out Psalms For All Seasons.



James Bosma June 19, 2018

I was going to say the exact same thing, so I'll just add to Bryan's point.

If you just use the sound mix that comes from your sound board for your audio recording, it has the potential to be very embarrassing for your singers. Even the best voices can sound pretty bad when they're not blended properly within a mix. So, you'd probably want to investigate suspending a microphone from the ceiling that captures the actual sound of the overall mix, including the congregation.

You also need to be very careful about sensitive personal information that may be shared during a complete service. Is personal information about people's physical or emotional health being shared during prayer requests that is okay within your church walls, but not necessarily meant for mass consumption? When people do a testimonial in front of their church, are you authorized to share that with the world? If you're recording video, do you have permission to show the faces of congregation members in an online setting?

Food for thought...

Bryan Haley June 19, 2018

We read He Reads Truth/She Reads Truth, and they've recently added a Kids Read Truth. Same study, often segmented based on the demographic. We've really enjoyed going through these as husband/wife for the last several years. You can do online, but their prints are well-designed, too.

posted in : Family Devotional?
Bryan Haley June 19, 2018

Hey Nicole! Great question. Under CCLI's streaming license, you can record live worship services. The license covers only the music covered by CCLI, so if you do anything other than that (other forms of media or songs not covered) you would need additional licensing. The copyright owner also has the right to restrict the streaming of their content on services like YouTube.

Aside from licensing, I would also encourage you to think through the actual sound quality of the stream. You'll probably want a separate mix for the streaming, as the house mix will often be very different than someone watching/listening from their computer or phone.

If you have any other questions feel free to reach out. You can also check out for more free resources.

Bryan Haley

Al Postma June 19, 2018

Henry, thanks for your comment and sorry for the missing information. I've updated the post to include the title/author (Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch).

Henry Gunnink June 19, 2018

What's the name of the book and who is the author?

John Span June 18, 2018

  Thanks Larry:

     Yes, I agree that giving is certainly a vital part of Christian worship. Glad you highlighted that. What the pastor was getting at is that fundraising has become a greater and greater part of the job description of missionaries. That is to say, it takes more and more time, energy and resources. I think of missionaries who return to the place to which they have been sent by their mission agency, simply exhausted from the rigors of their deputation schedule where they sleep in a different bed almost every night, and travel thousands of miles in doing so.

      As we conferred with these colleagues, many of them have asked if there is not a better way to be sent in a way 'worthy of God.' When a senior pastor suggests that he will serve as a missions' advocate to speak on our behalf, and to make introductions to donors, this is huge. Sure, we must still present the need and the vision, but much of the spadework is done.Was his phraseology of 'hat in hand' out of place? I guess it depends if you are the missionary, like some who feel a certain pressure to be like a salesperson who has to "close the deal" with every relationship they have. I guess it also depends if one is feeling increasing pressure to bring in enough each month to reach the financial targets set by their agency, and the resultant despondency when these are not being met. For some missionaries this is a huge stress, while for others it is not. I still think the pastor's sentiments were magnanimous, and likely a response to the fact that he did not have to ask for his monthly salary.

      I fully agree that we need a Christian view of money.  Thank you again for your comments.

Blessings in Christ


Larry Lutgendorff June 18, 2018

Hi John, Thanks for this post. I have a comment on one point in particular.

"A senior pastor says, “Why should you have to walk around with your hat in hand to beg for funding?” “Let me take some of the pressure off of you.”

This pastor's idea that fundraising is "begging, hat in hand" missed the point of mission work. That attitude is a secular idea that gives power to money as the primary relationship in our lives. For Christians money does not have that power. In the Christian life and especially in mission, God is primary.  God says the only  relationship that matters is your relationship to me.  When in a relationship with God the fact of having or not having money is irrelevant. Inviting others to come to know God through Jesus is what is important. If extending that invitation costs money than those who have money freely give it as one way to participate in the biblical call to mission and ministry. The act of giving money becomes as much an act of worship as praying, teaching or preaching. Asking for money is extending an invitation to join God's Mission to redeem the world. There is no higher calling than that. 

Staci Devries June 18, 2018

Thanks Shannon! Love hearing what people have actually used and recommend. Adding to cart! 

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Staci Devries June 18, 2018

Thanks Joel! I wasn't sure if my son was too young but even if he is, he will get older :)  I LOVE the format of how this is organized. Added to Amazon cart :) 

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Staci Devries June 18, 2018

Thank you, Sandy! I think these are a good investment and I happen to know where the bookstore is ;) 

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Shannon Jammal-Hollemans June 16, 2018

When my children were young, we used Making Time for God: A Devotional for Children and Families to Share by Susan Garrett and Amy Plantinga Pauw. I’d recommend it!

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Joel Copley June 16, 2018

We love Teach  Us to Pray... simple, interactive and worshipful.

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Jenny VanderMeer June 16, 2018

Thank you Mark for sharing. So much to mull over. 


Cedric Parsels June 14, 2018

Elders are permitted to officiate at the Lord's Supper provided that they have received the approval of classis to do so (C.O., Art. 55). Otherwise, only ministers of the Word or commissioned pastors are authorized to officiate at the Lord's Supper. Logically, this applies also to the case of celebrating the Lord's Supper with those who are sick or shut-in.

Sandy Swartzentruber June 14, 2018

Hi there! Thanks for this question.

A great resource for your son at this age are the God Loves Me storybooks from Faith Alive. Each book retells a Bible story in simple language that young children can understand, and includes a prayer and suggestions for learning-through-play activities. There are 52 books in the series, and you can purchase them individually or as a set.

When your son is just a bit older, check out God's Big Story Cards and Teach Us to Pray: Scripture-Centered Family Worship Through the Year--both are wonderful!



posted in : Family Devotional?
Syd Hielema June 13, 2018

Thanks, Charles,for clarifying something I unintentionally seem to have left ambiguous. I agree: such discipling must occur with the parents' approval. I know that Carson's parents (not,of course, his real name) do approve of Jeannette's discipling relationship with him, and many other grandparents in this situation have similarly received permission. The article  is not intended in any way to encourage manipulation and deception. I apologize if it appeared to condone such practices.  

Dorothy Vandersteen June 12, 2018

Thanks for sharing this story Trudy. I too had a lump in my throat as you and Kendell were holding hands walking towards Jesus!

posted in : Walking Toward Jesus
Staci Devries June 12, 2018

Thanks for sharing this opening Paul! 

John Span June 11, 2018

Greetings Harry:

      The rendition of the Qur'an by Saskas and Hungerford, i.e. The Qur’an with references to the Bible: A Contemporary Understanding (Fairfax, VA: Bridges of Reconciliation, 2016) and The reference Qur'an coordinated by Jeff Hayes and company are a new genre of English renditions of the Qur'an which use Biblical cross-references. This is not unlike an English study Bible which has cross references as footnotes.

       So what is the issue at hand?

      If Christians are Islamizing the Bible by putting in phraseology that appeals to Muslims, then this is the mirror image, namely that Muslims (i.e. Saskas) and even Christians (like Jeff Hayes) are Christianizing the Qur'an. In the case of the Saskas rendition he states that his objectives are:

      To promote reconciliation.   To be a bridge between believers in the God of Abraham.   To promote mutual values. (xi-xvi)

He goes on to say that he hopes that Christians and Jews will see the Qur'an "as a continuation of the same message."

This raises a number of red flags. For Christians, the Bible alone is the Word of the Triune God written, and its revelation points to Jesus as the Son of God Incarnate, fully God, and fully human.  According to Hebrews 1, Jesus is God's final revelation.

So how can the Qur'an be a continuation of the same message?

Secondly, if you look at page 32 of the Saskas rendition, he cites Surah 3:49, which is a story about the Muslim Jesus doing some miracles. The cross references are to verses about Jesus' miracles in  John 5,  John 9, Matthew 8, and Mark 12. This can lead someone to think that the Muslim Jesus and the Biblical Jesus are the same person. Absolutely not. The Muslim Jesus is a miracle-working super-human prophet who does everything "by the permission of Allah" but is anything but the Son of God incarnate,  showing that he can do the deeds of God, i.e. making water and winds to still, upsetting the natural order with healing, resurrection and the like, because he is God. Miracles in Islam serve to validate someone's prophethood. Miracles in the Bible serve to demonstrate the glory of God, to show His compassion for broken humans, to show that the era of the Messiah has broken in to this universe, and to give foretastes of the consumated Kingdom of God.

If you see the Reference Qur'an you will see that it says that "through the footnotes, this translation strives to show the points of commonality in doctrine between the Qur’an and the Bible." As you can see above, this is a very myopic statement bordering on blindness. If it said, there is a commonality of some expressions, that would be one thing. To say there is commonality in doctrines, is another.

It is important to see that efforts such as the Islamizing of the Bible, and the Christianizing of the Qur'an serve to make Christians think that they are closer to Islam than meets the eye. I believe this is a great deception.

Hope that helps.






Harry Boessenkool June 11, 2018

This is a very interesting topic. Here is an email I sent to Craig Bartholomew a year or so ago which deals with the issue in reverse, i.e. the Qur'an being translated into English using scripture passages to justify the various statements. This is a very complicated issue and something scholars need to to help us with.

""Dear Craig,

Are you ever involved in reviewing a book like this? It seem to be an apologetic for the Qur'an.

I am grasping at straws a by asking this.  Your are a co- writer researcher with Michael Goheen and as scholars doing Missiology you might have something to say about how this book deals with scripture.

Comparing scripture to the Qur'an is not something that would be high on my list of discussions with Muslims. But a book like this which seems to ask Christians to do just that needs to be looked by scholars like you.

Harry Boessenkool


For background I completed a trip to the Middle East last year which included Oman and the Al -Amana Centre in Muscat. We are looking at ways for our Pastor to go to Oman  and possibly Lebanon (the only Christian Seminary in the Middle East) and learn something first hand about the Arabian/Muslim culture to improve our discussions with Muslims coming to Canada ( Vancouver area in particular).

I came across this book at a friends home in Amersfoort Holland while here in vacation.

Denise Posie June 11, 2018

This event is open to all women even if you have not attended synod.

Charles Beltman June 10, 2018

As a parent who has left the CRC, I find this article and the included reference material troubling. The implied assumption is that grandparents should feel free to subvert the parents' intended religious upbringing of their children. It also seems that the implied purpose for building relationships is to sell the grandparents' faith to the grandchildren, not unlike the newly friendly neighbor angling to later sell you Amway.

How would you feel about grandparents who used similar techniques and resources to convert their Christian grandchildren to Scientology? You might advise parents to avoid leaving their children with them. The kids probably wouldn't be too thrilled about it either. To me, this is no different.

My advice is to keep grandparental "discipling" to a minimum. If you want a good relationship with your children and grandchildren, consider these guidelines:

⦁    Talk with the parents about their wishes regarding their kids' religious upbringing, then respect those wishes (and the parents), even when the parents aren't around.
⦁    Answer the kids' questions about your religious beliefs without pressuring them to adopt your beliefs as their own.
⦁    Have devotions, pray, talk about faith, etc. as much as you normally would if they weren't around, not more or less.
⦁    Don't target them with religious videos, books, music etc.

Be yourself, be honest and, contrary to this article, don't manipulate your grandchildren in sneaky ways or conspire with your congregation to do so. Support, encourage and enjoy your family, wherever they are on their faith journey. It's infinitely more pleasurable for everyone, and, frankly, reflects more positively on your faith. 

Doug Vande Griend June 9, 2018

Yep, pretty silly (and unwise) of Franklin Graham to not resist the urge to use his pulpit to pitch his political views.

And so why does the CRCNA do the same (even if with an alternate political perspective)?  That is the question we need to consider.

Bonnie Nicholas June 8, 2018

Franklin's father met with presidents, both democrat and republican. He did not endorse a political candidate nor a political party. That's the difference. As Christ followers, I believe we are called to focus on the biblical principles of love, justice, mercy, etc. and understand that those principles have expression in both political parties. And we must call out injustice wherever it occurs. It's not partisan, and it's not about one party maintaining political power. In other words, following Christ, and his Word takes precedence. Franklin, I believe, has chosen a different path.

Paul VanderKlay June 8, 2018

Part of the difficulty is the recent colonization and cultural polarization of the term "social justice". I've got it on my bulletin head and I won't surrender it to the ideological civil war happening now in the North American church.

Consider the evangelical movement in Latin America that has gone one over the last 40 years. It's commonly known that when Latin American men convert to be "evangelicos" there is a marked improvement in the lives of women and children over the pre-conversion situation of nominal Catholicism. The men stop drinking, gambling and fooling around with other women. What this means is that they hold down day jobs and their income goes into the home to support their wife and children. Their children get a better education and do better with this support and you get the John Wesley effect that the next generation achieves an appreciable uptick in socio-economic performance.

There are downsides to this often from a tradition like ours. There are legalisms that develop along the lines of "women can't wear lipstick or slacks and men can't wear shorts or consume alcohol" but if we're talking "social justice" and thinking along improvements in violence in the home, treatment of women and children, basic income, nutrition, healthcare and the lift out of generational poverty the "evangelicos" are clear winners even if they also at the same time tend to cement other non-progressive visions such as traditional gender roles and some facile but selectively productive legalisms. 

Bill Harris June 8, 2018

I would have liked if there were more N American examples here.

Churches have their own particular, cultural character, and certainly their own histories. So the N American church, and even more so, the Dutch Reformed (that is CRC and RCA) also have their experiences. In N America, Methodists have historically been in the forefront of combining social mission and gospel mission; we might add the Salvation Army. So why not ourselves? Is it that we lack a social vision? or perhaps it is that we lack an evangelistic mission. When we conceive of ourselves as a community, the whole faithful church, then the question of social action is one about what some of us do, a faction. Without evangelism, it's all politics. The church in Korea grows because it transforms and so empowers the cast aside; the church in S India grows because it transforms and empowers those who once were untouchable; the church in the Deep South grew because it transformed and empowered the lives of African Americans.

Or to borrow from Paul, justice is a branch that needs to be connected to the Vine, otherwise, no matter how green it is today, it will soon enough wither and be cast aside. Gospel hope powers justice.




Jason Ellis June 8, 2018

I doubt that there are many (any?) in the church who would object to the type of work outlined here. The church has spoken out on human rights and established hospitals since the beginning. There is concern over "social justice" when defined as political advocacy especially when it appears to be closely wed to a secular ideology or political party i.e. statements often made by the likes of Franklin Graham or Jim Wallis. 

Paul VanderKlay June 8, 2018

My guess is that not all declared to be "social justice" is alike. Early 20th century forced sterilization motivated by social Darwinism in the name of improving the race would likely have been labeled "social justice". The temperance movement flush on the moral victory of abolition surely considered themselves the vanguard of social justice as it was all about stopping violence against women and children by prohibiting alcohol. Prohibition was repealed and alcohol is still a primary factor in campus rape and domestic violence but no one wants to talk about it. I see (not in this article) a lot of pulling selective texts from OT prophets without much larger discussion of popular idolatry and covenant forgetfulness that the prophets majored in in the rest of their ignored writings. If we are go make an association between "social justice" and church growth we might look at the PCUSA getting rapidly older and whiter ( and say "you're not doing it right". 

Gerrit Denhartog June 7, 2018

Excellent examples, Bonnie.  They should serve to inspire those who are concerned about a culture that allows so many people to resort to firearms related violence to address their various grievances.   The parents, friends and neighbors who have tragically lost children and young people who were gunned down in schools and other settings would certainly welcome the involvement of Christians who will stand with them and show their support for common-sense approaches to reduction of such violence.


Bonnie Nicholas June 7, 2018

Sure, I can think of lots of examples. There have been several times over the years where I've gathered a group of people from my church (or students when I used to be on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) to participate with me in an activity related to a something that affects us. For example, there is a march and a vigil every year during Sexual Assault Awareness month in April (Take back the night) and there is one also in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It's a good opportunity for all people to listen to the voices of those who have had these experiences, to learn from them, to stand with them and to show support by opposing the violence. It especially makes sense for Christians to be there because we believe that each person is created in the image of God. 

Other examples are service projects or spiritual retreats that welcome participation from all Christians. We put our desire to love God and love our neighbors above our other differences.  I've served on the board of an organization that assisted homeless women and children, and we certainly didn't all agree politically, but we came together for this common purpose. It's a beautiful thing. I'm very thankful that my church has people who are very conservative and others who are not; it has both democrats and republicans and we all worship together on Sunday. That's what church is supposed to look like. We are members of one body (body members do not all look alike, nor do they think alike)

Staci Devries June 7, 2018

Hi Harry! Great question. You can access the webcast for Synod 2018 here

Ron DeVries June 7, 2018

Thanks for sharing Todd. Your experiences are noted. We will see where the conversation goes.