Resource, Guide or Toolkit

If your congregation is looking for ways to more intentionally incorporate people of all ages, Faith Formation Ministries offers two resources that will kick-start your brainstorming.

July 2, 2017 0 0 comments
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Ministry leaders spend hours planning and searching for creative ideas and resources. If you're one of those leaders, Faith Formation Ministries is here to help! 

June 29, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Devotional

I came into gardening late in life and still struggle with differentiating between annuals and perennials. Perhaps my confusion has to do with seeming vitality of both plants and the sad demise of the annuals. 

June 28, 2017 0 0 comments
Q&A

I'm looking to purchase a new compact Bible and wonder what version most CRC pastors are using. I see the TNIV, ESV, and NLT have all been approved in the last 11 years. 

June 27, 2017 0 1 comments
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Perhaps the most common reason (of the many reasons) people come to religion is control. But God is not tamable, not even through our religious programs and practices. 

June 21, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

Churches are doing many creative things to make a person’s profession of faith a day to remember. Faith Formation Ministries has gathered dozens of those ideas in the Professing Our Faith online toolkit.

June 16, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

From the moment families wake up on Sunday morning to the car ride home, this resource will help parents build good practices that teach kids that worship isn’t just for adults. 

June 15, 2017 0 0 comments
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We are excited to introduce to you one of the newest members of our Faith Formation Ministries team: Trudy Ash. Trudy serves as a Regional Catalyzer in California.

June 15, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource

Discover Your Gifts by Alvin J. VanderGriend has helped thousands of CRC members learn more about the way God made them and how they can use their gifts. And now, for the first time, taking the spiritual gifts inventory is free!

June 14, 2017 0 0 comments
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We are excited to introduce to you one of the newest members of our Faith Formation Ministries team: Ron Chu. Ron serves as a Regional Catalyzer in California.

June 13, 2017 0 0 comments
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We are excited to introduce to you the newest member of our Faith Formation Ministries team: Kristen Rietkerk. Kristen serves as a Regional Catalyzer in California.

June 9, 2017 0 0 comments
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Whoever designed the first Cracker Barrel restaurant was a genius. Everything in that place screams, "Welcome, we’ve been expecting you!" We are invited to come in and rest our travel worn bones for awhile.

June 9, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

In the midst of Family Jeopardy, photo scavenger hunts, and watching kids connect with extended family members, we took time to intentionally talk about how God has been with us and faithful to his promises.

June 5, 2017 0 0 comments
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It can be tempting to fill volunteer spots and type schedules over the summer. But I've found that taking time to recalibrate can help us discover new ways of doing things and get excited for the year ahead. 

May 30, 2017 0 0 comments
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I’ll never forget the professor who read Psalm 13 and tied it to his lifelong struggle with depression. The sanctuary was so quiet as he spoke that it seemed like everyone was blessed in glimpsing the blessings he received from this short but powerful Psalm.

May 24, 2017 0 1 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

“Ten Ways to Be a Caring Elder” from Faith Formation Ministries will equip elders to develop spiritual leadership skills and conduct helpful, warm visits with church members. 

May 22, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

Family devotions can be a challenge! The book Teach Us to Pray by Lora Copley and Elizabeth Vander Haagen offers a solution by using short, child-friendly readings that follow the liturgical year.

May 16, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

These ten conversation starters can be used in lots of different contexts to make faith conversations feel natural.

May 13, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

Death brings things into perspective. The things you whine about and worry about don’t seem that big when you need a new kidney to live another day. The color of the carpet doesn't matter. 

May 11, 2017 0 0 comments
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It doesn’t seem right when one of our churches can’t afford to fully use what is, essentially, their curriculum

May 9, 2017 0 2 comments
Q&A

I am taking a doctrine and theology class and some of the teachings are raising questions in my reformed faith. I'm wondering, at what do point do we receive the Holy Spirit and what is the primary purpose of the Spirit?

May 7, 2017 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

I am looking for podcasts to listen to on Christian living, encouragement, etc. Do you have any recommendations? 

May 5, 2017 0 5 comments
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Jesus didn’t immediately tell Martha he was about to raise her brother from the dead. Martha had to live in the space of death and heartache for a little while longer, and perhaps we may have to as well.

May 4, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Whatever else Easter means, it does not mean people stop dying. The Thessalonians knew what we still know: namely, the stark and stubborn fact of death in our world poses a most difficult challenge to our faith.

April 19, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Poem

Country singer icon and Christian Johnny Cash was a prolific poet. Cash was not a bad theologian either. He bore it all for me...and you...

April 12, 2017 0 1 comments

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Just reading this. My heart breaks for this searing loss. Thank you for sharing. I am deeply encouraged by your testimony. Prayers until you see her again. 

Each year during Holy Week - usually on Good Friday - I read through the book "We Call This Friday Good" - by the late Dr. Howard Hageman.  Hageman, who served as a pastor in the Reformed Church of America and served as president of New Brunswick seminary - writes about each of the 7 words Jesus speaks from the cross.  His writing helps connect me anew with the humanity of Jesus.  Each year, as Holy Week draws near, I find myself eager to again listen and experience anew the deep love of Jesus.

 

Powerful. Thank you for sharing Patiliai. 

Love this! "While Easter is deeply personal, it is also universal" is a statement that really resonates with me. Thanks for sharing. 

Everyone enjoy their "Feast of First Fruits"  (Some call Easter) Service!

Feast of First Fruits = Third Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread = 16th of Nisan, 5777 
This day ends at sunset on 13Apr 2017 (sunset = 7:32 PM ET)

Why is that important?

Jn 19:31

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.

The day before the Sabbath was commonly called the "preparation day" because chores were done on that day to avoid working on God' day of rest. Clearly, we see from Jn 19:31 that Christ was crucified and His body placed in the tomb immediately preceding the Sabbath.

The question to consider is "which Sabbath"?

Most people assume John was speaking of the regular weekly Sabbath day observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. From John' clear statement here, most people assume Jesus died and was buried on Friday-- thus the traditional belief that Jesus was crucified and died on "Good Friday."

But is that true?

Most people have no idea that the Bible speaks of TWO KINDS of Sabbath days-- the normal weekly Sabbath on the seventh day of the week. (Friday Sunset to Saturday Sunset. Not Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week), and seven ANNUAL Sabbath days, listed in Lev 23 and mentioned in various other passages. These annual Sabbath days could fall on ANY day of the week. Once we understand this we see that "Good Friday -- Easter Sunday" never happened that way!

Notice again in Jn 19:31 that the Sabbath Day is referred to as a "high day". That term was used to differentiate a weekly Sabbath from an annual Sabbath.

So what was this "high day" that immediately followed Jesus' hurried entombment?

Mt 26:19 - 20, Mk 14:16 - 17, Lk 22:13 - 15 tells us the evening before Jesus was condemned and crucified, He kept the Passover. This means that He was crucified on the Passover day. Lev 23, which lists God' festivals, tells us that on the day after the Passover, another festival, known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. ( Lev 23:5 - 6). This day is the first of God' annual Sabbaths. 

This is the "high day" of which John wrote on Jn 19:31.

Passover began at sundown and ended the following day at sundown when this annual Sabbath began. 

So this is the correct order of events:

Nisan 13 (Tuesday ends at 6 pm sunset. Nisan 14, Wednesday begins at 6 pm sunset and ends just before sunset the next day.)

1. Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples and then arrested later that night.

2. After daybreak, the next day, He was questioned before Pontius Pilate, crucified, then hurriedly entombed just before the next sunset when the "high day", the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began.

Jesus gives up His spirit approximately the 9th hour which is 3 pm. So Nisan 14 begins at sunset right after Jesus is placed in the sepulcher. 

Computer programs have demonstrated that Nisan 14, 31 A.D. was a Wednesday, not a Friday.

Nisan 14 ends at 6 pm sunset on Thursday. Nisan 15, the "high day", of the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins at 6 pm sunset on Thursday and ends just before sunset on the next day.)

Jesus has now been "in the Earth" for 24 hours. (One day and one night.)

Nisan 15, the "high day" ends at sunset and the weekly Sabbath, Nisan 16 begin at 6 pm Friday and ends just before sunset the next day.

Jesus has now been "in the Earth" for 48 hours. (Two days and Two nights).

Nisan 16 ends at 6 pm Saturday and Nisan 17, "First Fruits", which is the third day of the 7-day feast of Unleavened Bread that begins at 6 pm Sat and ends at sunset the next day.

At sunset, in the last few minutes of Nisan 16, God, the Father resurrects God, the Son from death! Because it was not possible that death could hold him. He has been "in the Earth" for three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17, Acts 2:24) 

1 Wed evening - Thu evening (24 hours)
2 Thu evening - Fri evening (24 hours)
3. Fri evening - Sat evening (24 hours)

So, in conclusion when we understand the difference between God' weekly Sabbaths and His annual Sabbaths any confusion about the days of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection go away.

1 Cor 15:20 -23 

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam, all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

So our Lord and Saviour is alive! Risen from the dead and given all honor and all power that can be given. Literally on the day that celebrates the reality that Jesus is the firstfruits of God' Elect!

We crowned him King but the crown was of thorns, he mounted a throne, but it was an unadorned cross, yes it was for my sins that he endured all...

Thanks for sharing.  Growing up my parents were big Johnny Cash fans.  I think I'll use this as our devotional at Easter this year.  

I love the historic hymns that we sing during Holy Week.  One of my favourites is, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" written in 1707. That means that Christians have been singing it at Easter for 310 years!  While Easter is deeply personal (Christ died for me) it is also universal.  I love feeling connected to the church of all times and places during this week.

One of my favorite songs is How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townsend. Every time I listen to this song (and especially during Holy Week) I am struck by the line "It was my sin that held Him there..."

During Holy Week I take some time to reflect on the weight of my sin. Looking at my sin really brings me face to face with the magnitude of Jesus' sacrifice. A grace I could never earn. Following this I am filled with a deep gratitude and hope. Praise God for making ALL things new! 

This is a very balanced approach. Our church heritage is also God-led, and ought to be acknowledged.

My only concern would be the lengthy explanations and intros. I worry that churches are so wordy that we crowd out the Spirit. But perhaps you addressed that with your 'slowness' comments. Faith grows in silences too.

Been wrestling with exactly this over the last few months.  Have taken to calling myself "spiritual coach."  No title, per se.  But that's just fine.

posted in: So, What Do YOU Do?

I can totally relate to this as a pastor/missionary. I am curious though - what titles are you using now as an alternate to pastor in order to open doors to communication - do you have any favorites? Thanks!

posted in: So, What Do YOU Do?

I am curious how this works itself out in the sacraments and especially regarding children? Are children baptized as infants? What about those who have different beliefs in adult baptism? And are children allowed to take communion? Do they need to be baptized? etc. Thanks!

Hi Gillian, 

Did you want to add more in the comments? Let me know if I can help. 

Thanks!

Staci

posted in: Faith as Power?

k

posted in: Faith as Power?

Thank-you Staci, I'll check it out.

 

posted in: Study Bible Apps?

Andrew MacLeod, Andrew...I was a friend to Angus and Peg MacLeod. I met Farquar while we were at Mac's house in Evergreen Park Il. In fact their father was also there. Where does Andrew fit into this ancestry? Just curious !....Dean Koldenhoven

deankoldenhoven@yahoo.com

posted in: Study Bible Apps?

I've heard really good things about the Read Scripture app

posted in: Study Bible Apps?

In previous years I have given up various things (i.e. pop) for Lent but this year I am planning to finish reading through the Gospels (I'm currently in the middle of Luke). Lately I have been struck by how often Jesus talks about the importance of having faith. I'm going to be looking for specific ways this season to 'increase' my faith, maybe through bold giving or by listening more closely to the Spirit's leading. To do this, I'm hoping to be still more often (less media, tv, distractions).

Love these specific examples of how simple it can be to include all ages. Thanks Karen!

What a wonderful (and fun!) example of being an inclusive family of God. Thanks for sharing, Laura.

This post on Belonging leads directly to another toolkit from Faith Formation Ministries:  Building Blocks of Faith! Belonging is one of the Building Blocks and one of our needs for faith to grow.  Connections like this and the interweaving of faith topics are energizing.  Thanks, Karen!

I am encouraged by these verses! Thanks for sharing. 

Sharing a meal, in our homes or churches, can be another one of those 'ordinary means of grace' that seem small but can have real meaningful effects. There's something about sitting around a table together that is nurturing not only in physical ways but spiritually as well.

I couldn't agree more, and this misconstruction about what is important has also become far too much a perspective of the CRCNA at the denominational level.  

Thank you so much! I look forward to listening later today!

Hi Gillian,

I have three resources that I use for sermons during the week.

The first is the teaching of Alistair Begg at: www.truthforlife.org

The second I try not to miss is Charles Price at; www.livingtruth.ca

The third is when I need a boost is Robbie Symons at: http://www.harvestoakville.ca/teaching/sermon-archives/latest-sermon/

Hope this helps and I'd be interested to know how you find any of these helpful.

Blessings.

 

Just a little correction!  Pentecost does not last 50 days... it is one day (the third great feast - along with Christmas and Easter) that kicks off the season called "Ordinary Time"  - Sam Gutierrez.   Sorry about that.  :)

thanks for your comment.  I appreciate it.  :)

posted in: Spiritual Math

Thank you for responding to my article and sharing some of your story.

posted in: Spiritual Math

that's true.  Thank you!

 

posted in: Spiritual Math

You're welcome Hans.  Thank you for your good words.  :)

Thank you Staci - I was honored and blessed by your comment.  

 

Thank you Neil.  :)

Diane,

thanks for the creative example!  I love it!  

Liturgical season "theme" song!  - Smart!

Along with some of the things you've described, we also had a theme song for Advent that was sung each week during Advent in different places in the worship service. The church could choose a theme song for each season - perhaps that goes with the scripture passage that is memorized, or a theme for the season. As we participated in the season of waiting (advent), we used the refrain, "Take O Take Me As I Am" (#741 in Lift Up Your Hearts), and also did motions. The children enjoyed learning the motions with the adults in worship.  Since the church was also going through a renewal process, we also added a 2nd 'verse' and sang, "Take O take us as we are..." 

This is such a wonderful idea, Staci. Thanks for sharing it!

Simple and succinct! A good way to live into a rhythm of formation.  And, I think it's a positive when we connect what we do as a local congregation with the global church in observing and practicing the liturgical church year.  

I watch the Calvin Student Service LOFT Sunday nights. They also livestream and archive the Chapels. Go to https://calvin.edu/studentlife/faith-worship/ to find the links. I am so blessed by seeing college students lead worship and by Pastor Mary Hulst's preaching. Even though it's directed to college students, I always learn or am challenged by something.

My wife and i are almost finished reading through Job once again.  Thank you for the clarity you have provided.  As Paul puts it in Philippians 4: "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!"  It often takes our limited tenacity but the Holy Spirit will provide all that we need and the knowledge that God is sovereign is the abundant Blessing! 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lou. I have a couple of thoughts in response. First, the OSJ was not recommending these devotionals, I was. Second, Rohr's devotionals, as many of the others, are challenging. I do not agree with everything that all of these writers put out, particularly as a Reformed pastor. This is why I listed the denominational affiliation of the devotional writers. Personally, Rohr's penchant for the mystical compels me as a Reformed Christian, which I why I recommended him.

Thanks, Shannon, for sharing some resources; of the ones I recognize they will be a blessing to those who pursue them.

What did disappoint me was the very top recommendation - Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation.  Based on just the last week's worth of postings it can easily be demonstrated how far away he is from the faith "once for all delivered to the saints."  The presumption shown by his disdain for historical Christianity is saddening; more pretentious than charitable.  Does he really think he/CAC leads a "New Reformation"?!  The OSJ can do better than that.

PS  If anyone wants an analysis of the last week's "worth" of postings, send me an email:     wagenlma@aol.com

 

For years, my favorite verse has been Proverbs 3, verses 5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.

I have found encouragement in the verses already posted, so I thank all of you for these.

 

Sam, this post is a gift. I am going to save this blog (maybe even print it out) to read when the hard times come (as they will). I love the person Job became as he trusted God in the fields of pain and suffering. Thanks so much. 

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (MSG)

God’s Message:

“Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom.
    Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits.
Don’t let the rich brag of their riches.
    If you brag, brag of this and this only:
That you understand and know me.
    I’m God, and I act in loyal love.
I do what’s right and set things right and fair,
    and delight in those who do the same things.
These are my trademarks.”
    God’s Decree.

Lamentations 3:19-33New International Version (NIV)

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

  Hi Staci,

 

One of my all time favorite texts is Lamentations 3 : 19-33.  I like the whole chapter, but since one has to stop somewhere, vs. 33 is as good a place as any.

Thanks, Sam, for a thoughtful and perceptive take on Job.  Our need to "trust in God’s goodness even though all the current evidence was suggesting otherwise" is something that we need to keep hearing -- and keep reminding each other....   Bless you for doing so. 

 

The verses that I am holding on to is : "Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may  be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15: 24-28)

In light of God's victory, political victories lose their appeal and importance.

I am privileged to be engaged in God's kingdom and victory by his grace.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I have a hard time picking just one or a few of the verses in this Psalm. I have been drawn to it all through 2016, and looking forward to 2017 it also gives me hope for the future. It is such a reassurance of God being beside us all the way - "an ever present help" -  even when "nations are in uproar." The image of the "river whose streams make glad the city of God" is such a peace-giving image for me. It brings to mind the phrase "there is a balm in Gilead," and reminds me of God's healing power. And, of course, how good it is to "be still and know that [he is] God."

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