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Five Steps to Denominational Renewal - Part 2

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. 

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Five Steps to Denominational Renewal - Part 1

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?

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Let’s Play “Banner Editor for a Day”

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?

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Out of the Mouth of Babes

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.

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What Song Inspires Your Mission?

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?

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Not for Ten Million Dollars

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

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#EasterChangesEverything

Christian Reformed Home Missions wants to hear YOUR stories of transformation! Our theme for this Easter Sunday is Easter Changes Everything. 

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With feet in "two boats:" A picture of......?

A Bangladeshi once described one of his countrymen as "having his feet in two boats." With this word picture he was showing the effect of trying to juggle two divergent opinions by trying to serve two masters at the same time (Matt. 6:24) and the likelihood of capsizing. This same picture could be applied to a person or a group of them who try to maintain an image of Biblical orthodoxy and who is thinking with a secular mindset at the same time. Joshua, Elijah, Jesus and James all encountered such thinking and addressed it as such. Maybe their wisdom might be helpful to the 2016 Synod. Joshua...
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God is calling for you to stand up for him!

Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Most of the rest, 13 percent, have no religion. That leaves just 4 percent as adherents of all non-Christian religions combined — Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and a smattering of individual mentions. How is it possible to remove God from our schools and government In a nation were the majority rules?? The majority is to afraid to stand up! The majority sits in silence while evil takes over! The majority will only fight for God if they can do it in a safe place ( church) where they pray to Him to fix it ! How can you expect God...
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The Wide Spectrum of Expression in Biblical Confrontation

As we examine the following select 20 Biblical personal interactions we observe that the Bible makes radical distinctions between how different receptors were addressed. 

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Jesus Knew

There was a festival and it appears that His disciples were downtown Jerusalem. But Jesus took it upon himself to make this sick-call.

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Freedom of Expression

The CRC has always been concerned about sounding a biblical testimony in the face of society’s moral issues. Yet even among Christians there are many differences of view-point. 

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A Minister of Uncommon Grace

As we go into a new year, I'd like to take a moment to pause on the memory of Rev. Ed Dosbon. Ed was a brother to all who met him, a favorite speaker, and a trusted counselor to pastors. 

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What Is A "High-Handed" Sin and Why Should the Church Care?

In the book of Numbers, sins which were unintentional and those that were intentional were treated differently. Even with some who sinned intentionally there was the option for repentance, but with the flaunting deliberate "high-handed" sin the most severe punishment was meted out. This is why: 28 And the priest shall make atonement before Yahweh for the person who commits an error, when he sins inadvertently, to make atonement for him. And he shall be forgiven. 29 You shall have one law for him who does anything inadvertently, for him who is native among the people of Israel, and for the...
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Seeing Goodness

It is a busy time of year. But it is also a season of reflection. As we think to the future, can we be optimistic? King David was confident to see God's goodness in the land of the living. Are you?

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Breadth and Depth

From Simeon, “a man in Jerusalem”, we can learn how to celebrate the coming of the Son of God: with depth and breadth. 

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Can a Church Actually Arrive at Truth Through "Conversations," "Listening Sessions," and "Dialogue"?

Undoubtedly you have seen the billing for events such as "a conversation about XYZ topic", or the Network's report on " synodical listening sessions ", and an "interfaith dialogue." All of these have the potential to be informative and relation building events, as well as events where the intent is to move the thinking of one group of persons towards that of another group. Much of what is going on is a combination of (post)-modern thinking with some pluses and minuses, and an influence of Hegel. That leads us to the question: How do we know truth? (Post)-modern ideas: In the idea world of...
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Gabriel's Message to Mary

It seems almost unimaginable to us to recognize in this humble woman the Mother of our Lord. And yet it is clear that Mary had a very unique role. 

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Joseph - Our Man

One cannot escape the impression that Joseph was a quiet, caring and thoughtful man. In these competitive days the world needs more Josephs.

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Special Interest Groups and the Church: A Case Study With Ten Observations

For the last six or seven years, I have had the challenging situation of dealing with/living with/dialoguing with a special interest group in the global Church. This group swears allegiance to Biblical orthodoxy, uses the name Jesus frequently, and gives passionate appeals to the fact that they are creating a new and helpful paradigm shifting way of doing things. At first flush this should be a welcome sight, but on closer look their strategies of introducing their agenda, which is now becoming less and less accepted by the global Church, are anything but helpful. The second and third...
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I love your goal! I might borrow it from you =) I had not heard of Tattoos on the Heart but the description looks really interesting (lots of real life wisdom to be shared). Added to my list!

I just finished Of Mess and Moxie last month and per the usual, loved Jen's unique blend of wit and honesty in both the boring and serious moments of life. I love how she makes Jesus so approachable. 

I'd like to read that one. I taught English as a second language to Arab immigrants, mostly Muslims, for about a decade, and am still on the board of the organization. One of my alumni, who has had some exposure to Christianity beyond our school and is now in the U.S. military, might appreciate it, but I should check it out first. Thanks for the "heads up"!

You could check my "From Cairo to Christ."  It tells the story of my fellow Calvin Sem. grad who converted from Islam 40 years ago, and has been working as an evangelist to Muslims every since.  IVP 2017

The Holiness of God and JOHN by the late RC SPROUL (1939-2017)  Ligonier.org 

What about telling others about a book I really like? I reviewed the production "manuscript" for The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah's Flood Explain the Grand Canyon? and was very impressed with it. If you like rocks and landscape scenery, along with the rest of the creation, this will give you something to think and sing about.

A good question.  I hope to finish reading Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila, then go on to Dark Night of the Soul by St John of the Cross and later The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila. 

Thanks for posing this question, Staci. Let's do some book swapping to help me get to my one book/month goal for 2018... not the most ambitious monthly goal, but it's a start.

I'm starting Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle this month.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker is on the docket for February (or sooner if I am faster than I imagine with the first book).

Maybe my March book can come from some suggestions here :)

 

The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak. I heard about this one from an incredibly hospitable friend who will be leading a Bible study on this book. 

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg. I enjoyed Sheryl Sandberg's first book and am interested in hearing more about her response to the unexpected and tragic loss of her husband. 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I did this out of order (saw the movie before reading the book) but want to read the book to learn more about Auggie's story and the simple and powerful impact he had on those around him. 

The sick have a lot to offer if you visit us! I wait to witness what the Lord does for you when your suffering! Thx for the post!

posted in: The Sick Among Us

Bonnie, thanks for participating!  I also like this quote. As we're making plans and shaping a ministry for leadership development: Women's and Racial Ethnic Ministry, we'll be reaching to the margins in our local churches, ministries and denomination. This is a long and intentional process as we envision our future in serving God's kingdom.

 

I liked this quote, "The future is here. It's at the margins" (Or something close to that). The idea is that we need to look to the margins for leadership as we head into the future. That includes seeking leaders who are women, who are people of color, who have suffered injustice and/or ridicule, who are hurting, who are deemed powerless and poor. These are people Jesus loves, whom he has chosen for his kingdom work, and from whom we have so much to learn.

Hi Ben,

Thanks for taking time to share in the discussion a few of your top takeaways. These are good and also a reminder to me, and likely others, the good "practical nuggets" in this book.  

I don't have access to my book right now, but I want to look at p. 98 again.  So often, we'll reach for quick fixes in trying to eliminate the anxiety.

Blessings as you continue to serve in God's kingdom!

Denise Posie

 

 

Hi Denise,

I recently read this book for a class that I took and could identify with the metaphor of "leading off the map" as a missionary, church planter, and church planter trainer in Mexico.

One concept that is sticking with me is the idea of making "blue zone" decisions instead of "red zone" decisions. Things can often look very different once everyone has "cooled off" a bit.

I also enjoyed this quote and am trying to live it: “When a leader and a people together resist the anxiety that would lead to throwing in the towel or relying on the quick fix…this enables them to gain the just-in-time experience necessary to keep the expedition going” (98).

Thanks!

Rev. Ben Meyer

Resonate Global Mission

Guadalajara, Mexico

Sonia - I believe this to be a spectacular idea.

One word when I think of the Reformation? Continue

 

If churches and Christian schools are interested in finding speakers for conferences such as this, I would invite them to contact the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), an organization of Christians in science (www.asa3.org). Many members of the CRCNA, some of whom are faculty members at CRCNA-affiliated colleges, are members of the ASA. Within the ASA are the Affiliation of Christian Biologists and the Affiliation of Christian Geologists, and many of the CRC members and college faculty members referred to are members of these groups. These Christian scientists are all actively involved in science-related careers or are retired from them, and it should be possible to find well-qualified individuals from these sources who would be willing and able to discuss the topic of creation from a Reformed perspective as speakers or as members of a panel. Contact the ASA at the above website for further information.

posted in: Creation Conference

Doug, thank you for your thoughts. I agree that as painful as it is, a spouse dying is most likely less destructive than the marriage coming apart by divorce. I'd further add that my experience affirms your second point. My wife's demand came a shock to me, but she had made her mind long before telling me. Even as I held out hope the marriage could be saved, she never wavered once from her resolve to bring it to an end. Still, just as you say, I encourage those I meet in divorce situations that it ain't over till it's over, and even then, it might not be over. God brought me to a place of acceptance when he showed me unequivocally that it was over. Thank you again for your thoughts.

Thanks for the article, Christopher.  You are correct I think about how destructive divorce is.  Having practiced law in this area for many years, I had concluded that, generally, a spouse dying was almost always less destructive than divorce.

Were I to add a thought, it would be this.  Often, perhaps almost always, the "divorce" happens long before the legal documents are signed and filed.  But even then, that does not mean there is no hope for a couple that is "in the process."   And so thanks too for the work you are doing.

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.

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