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Twelve Years of Christmas in Chicago

Christmas really is about giving and receiving. One Christmas gift I never thought about receiving till Army time was the forgiveness that the Christ child was born to give by giving up his life.

Pastors
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Christmas in the Rear-view Mirror

The week before Christmas was supposed to be easy. On my Monday off I took a pick-up load of scrap metal to Adelstein’s Recycling and pocketed $129.60; more than paid for stocking stuffers for the children and grandchildren who would start trickling in on Wednesday. They’d stay till December 27. Menus were planned, groceries bought.

Pastors
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An R-Rated Epiphany Story

The names in Matthew 1:1-17 give a thumbnail sketch of Jesus’ family. Don’t skip them; look up their names and stories in the Bible. All in some way point to or reveal Jesus, who redeems people and the world from sin. But some point very crookedly. 

Pastors
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Jesus in Every Book of the Bible--and on the Internet!

We hear a lot about wicked and dangerous stuff on the internet. But God is the Lord of all technology, including the internet, which can be used for much good. I'm going to invite you to check a four-minute video below of an enthusiastic eleven-year old boy powerfully declaiming in a service at Salem Lutheran Church, Tomball, Texas. (If the introductory frame actually introduces the speaker, he is Jack Stockton.) Here young Jack he names all 66 Bible books, mentioning briefly how each book reveals Jesus.

Pastors
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Conflict: Inevitable, So Learn to Understand and Lead Through It

On the Church Administration Network colleague Sheri Laninga has posted a blog with this fine article from the Alban Institute about understanding and managing conflict in churches. er you read that article and chew on it a bit, let me suggest that you go to this remarkably closely-related YouTube video about understanding leadership and being a "differentiated leader."

Pastors
Blog
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A Bit More on NOT Tweeting

Early on in the stone age of The Network (about ten months ago), I blogged about why I did not tweet and rarely use my Facebook page. My use of those social networks has not changed appreciably since then.

Pastors
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Pastors Losing Family Members to Death

How do churches and pastors carry on after an immediate family member has died--whether suddenly or after an illness? I know two colleagues whose wives have died in automobile accidents and another whose young daughter died after a long illness. They were all faithful servants. Their congregations treated them well before and following those tragedies but . . .

Pastors
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Have You Ever Abandoned Your Vocation--or Been Tempted To?

David, a member of Jesus' family, was “a man after God’s own heart.” Great Big Sea sings in one sad song, “Time makes the strongest tree to bend. Kings and queens have no defense. Time brings all things to an end.” It could be the end for David in 2 Samuel 11 and 12: He QUITS being king. We read, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war . . . 

Pastors
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Hopeful, Sensitive Words about Muslim-Christian Relations

If you are interested in reading charitable, honestly Christian comment on the issue of Christian-Muslim relationship—especially on the topic of Koran burning—today’s issue of Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's Virtual House News will be helpful. Pass this around to members of your congregation, council members, friends. Encourage prayers, calm, gentleness and generous portions of Christ’s love. If you don’t have time to read all the items editor Daina Doucet refers to, I particularly recommend at least Geoff Tunnicliffe’s record of his conversations with Pastor Terry Jones.

Pastors
Blog
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A Word from the Library

We are “people of the Book and of the Word.” All good books, all good words derive from the Word of God, living eternally in the Word made flesh before time began. We as preachers and members have a happy duty to train ourselves in good words used carefully—not just in sermons, but in reading, promoting literature. Church libraries can help. Can we help church libraries?

Pastors
Blog
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Two Books--Reviews: Both Bouquets and Near Brickbats

Over the last month or so Mars Hill pastor Rob Bell’s Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived has garnered much pre-publication attention. A colleague told me that it has been discussed on page one of CNN.com and that it is vying with none other than Justin Bieber for attention.

Pastors
Blog
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The New Old, Old Story

This is the time of year when we start (or ought to!) thinking about planning for preaching, worship and teaching for the school/church year starting in September. I invite you to take a good look at the website for The Story to learn about what I think is a very worthwhile potential preaching, worship and teaching

Pastors
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Lenten Meditation: Praying in Lent--and Always

Many say Lent’s 42 days mesh with Jesus’ 40 days of desert temptation by the devil. He was sustained by praying. Lent is still a time for praying. When do you pray? Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Prize winning novelist, was once asked when he prayed. Singer famously answered, “"I only pray when I'm in trouble. But I'm in trouble all the time, so I always pray."

Pastors
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Easter Meditation: What Good is the Resurrection?

Denying Jesus' resurrection started the day he arose. It’s natural to deny the resurrection. We modern folks like to get to the root of things. And at the root of all things biological is that life will end in death. That's all there is, folks. There ain't no more.

Pastors
Blog
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Work, Overwork, Stress: When Does a Vocation become a Job?

How many of us preachers feel overworked, stressed out? (I have never complained about being underpaid, though some colleagues are. In fact, I often say, “You can’t pay me enough for what I do, but I’m not complaining, because this pastoring business is more than a job; it’s a vocatio.”)

Pastors
Blog
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It's Closin' Time

Leonard Cohen sings a long, complex song called “It’s Closin’ Time.” It’s full of varied images and scenes that evoke life’s excitement, unpredictability, the rare possibility of controlling much, but dealing with it without anxiety. Sort of like The Network. 

Pastors
Blog
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Back Atcha!

I hereby solemnly pledge NOT to make this blog a soapbox for my own opinions about issues before Synod 2012--though opinions will not be entirely absent either.  I am glad to be back with you. I invite your attentiveness and comments, disagreements and invitations to dinner or free tickets to Tigers or Blue Jays games.

CRCNA and Synod
Blog
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Synod's Agenda in the Brussels Airport

I sat in the Brussels Airport with dozens of different nationalities and more languages. Soon we all boarded one plane, made in Europe, run by an Indian company, and headed to Toronto. Among us we are all able to communicate basically. If we had spent a long time together, we’d have to learn to live together deeply. That's what this year's diverse Agenda begs us to do ...

CRCNA and Synod
Blog
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Name Change: Will It Be a Relief to Be “Renew?”

So, what’s wrong with the name Christian Reformed World Relief Committee? Nothing’s wrong with it. It just doesn’t fit as well as it used to.  Sometime in the next few days Synod will be faced with a significant decision about Christian Reformed World Relief Committee...

CRCNA and Synod
Blog
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Belhar—Up, Down or Sideways?

The overtures display a wide range of well-argued thought surrounding Belhar. There does not seem to be any clear line-up of opinion following geographical lines within the CRC. The positions  argued are literally “all over the map.” 

CRCNA and Synod

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