Blog

In the Heidelberg Catechism, L.D. 17, we confess that the resurrection is very much part of our lives as believers. "....by his power, we too are already now resurrected to a new life."

April 1, 2015 0 0 comments
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"Jesus, keep me near the cross," we sing. It would not have suited us well that first Good Friday. Does it ever suit us?

March 30, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

The large crowd of spectators gave Him an enthusiastic welcome. They spread palm branches and garments on the road in his honor. Less than five days later, they shouted, "Crucify him, crucify him!"

March 25, 2015 0 4 comments
Blog

In the age of Pinterest and Google, cookbooks are hardly practical. Yet there are stories found among the recipes and ingredients. What cookbooks or recipes have impacted you?

March 16, 2015 0 10 comments
Blog

Dealing with regret is not easy. Regret tends to cling. What can we do about our regret…?

March 10, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

It's been an unusually cold and long winter. How does this affect people who have no regular income, people who have little income, and people who suffer?

February 23, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Last month I promised I would do my share of the grocery shopping.The experience was a bit unnerving. I observed people whose lives are not easy.

February 10, 2015 0 1 comments
Blog

Many continue to address the slaughter of the satirists in Paris. Almost all the angles have been covered except one: what does the Bible have to say about satire or extremely caustic remarks?

January 27, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Many Christians have become increasingly uncomfortable with the way Christmas is celebrated, both by Christians and non-Christians. What do YOU think?

January 6, 2015 0 9 comments
Blog

When the angel left, Mary was alone. To be alone…To have a burden and be alone…Mary pondered the message of the angel. She needed to talk with someone. Then she thought of her cousin Elizabeth...

December 15, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Hearing what God is has done in someone’s life can be so uplifting and encouraging both for those giving the testimony and for those that are hearing it.

November 3, 2014 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

At this time of year, when we’re especially thinking about being grateful to God, how often is our focus almost exclusively on what God has done, instead of on who He is?

October 16, 2014 0 3 comments
Blog

            Have you heard of the Reformed person who says that since Abraham Kuyper said that "every square inch" of this world belongs to Christ,  one must venture boldly into every sphere of life with the light of Christ? At first flush it sounds very good.

            But what happens...

October 8, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

In the church we talk about the someone is “called" to be a minister, or elder, or deacon. I’ve been wondering, what difference does that make in how we search for a job, or how we hire employees?

October 7, 2014 0 8 comments
Blog

How should a congregation respond to bullies?

September 25, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

What does a non-Bible reader think of the Old Testament?

August 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

I hated hearing those words as a boy trying to learn the game of chess, because I knew the game was over and I had lost again. As I observe our culture and the world we live in I sometimes get some of those same feelings—the game's over!

August 5, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

There was a time I felt that if we got our theology right, we would be one happy and united family. But I have come to see just how wrong that position is.

June 9, 2014 0 1 comments
Q&A

There were many more historical accounts written about and around the time of Jesus, how is it that only a select few made it through the "...given by inspiration of God..." filter, as expressly stated in 2 Timothy 3:16. What disqualified other anecdotes and writings?

April 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Have you noticed the “shorthand” way people are using the word “because” now? Somehow, for me, it just works. I don’t know where it started but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on Twitter. Here are several examples from Twitter:

I'm just really excited for February 15th because chocolate...
January 27, 2014 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

I hardly come into The Network.  And when I do today, I keep running into people's snarky comments toward one another.  People are seeking help and clarification.  They don't come to The Network to have their grammar corrected, be judged by people who don't have all the information, or see it...

January 21, 2014 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Wow, the Irony of Global Warming Activists Stuck in Ice (Antarctica) in the middle of the Southern hemiphere's summer. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2531159/Antarctic-crew-build-ice...

 

December 31, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

More specifically, who are the prophetic vocal-musical artists among us?  Who is the person who speaks the Word to us through music?  Who challenges our assumptions? Who questions our practices? Who calls us to repentance?

For the purposes of this conversation, let’s limit our search to...

December 16, 2013 0 1 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Fri, 11/22/2013 This two-part webinar is an opportunity to explore the changing cultural dynamics inside and outside the CRC, and the effect they have on the churches we attend.

November 22, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Tue, 11/19/2013 This two-part webinar is an opportunity to explore the changing cultural dynamics inside and outside the CRC, and the effect they have on the churches we attend.

November 19, 2013 0 0 comments

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Keith: I heartily agree with your suggestion as to what the institutional church (synod or otherwise) may and should talk about (e.g.,  state of American society, anger, increasing percentage of children born out of wedlock, etc).

There is a fine but yet very real line between the institutional church talking, and then proclaiming, about societal issues, and the institutional church usurping sphere authority of others by becoming a political megaphone for a certain member segment's political perspective.

Where was the Republican Party and where were the Republican candidates in the months following Mr. Trump's entry into the campaign on June 16, 2015?  Where were they in July, August, September, October, November, December?  Where was the "courageous," "principled" Sen. Ted Cruz during those months?  Waiting for the Trump phenomenon to fizzle so he could pick up votes from the Trump supporters?  An example of leading from behind?

An appropriate and potentially fruitful way The Banner and Synod could address the current situation would be to engage in a discussion of the consequences of blind partisanship and knee-jerk allegiance to a single political ideology and a world-view informed solely by opinionators from one end of the spectrum and one cable "news" channel. It should be a source of concern for Christians  that so many of their fellow believers rely solely on such a narrow range.  I don't recall any campaign since the 1950's that was so disdainful of fact-checking and so ready to wallow in "truthiness" and escalating divisiveness.

What is to prevent the prevailing ethic of obstructionism, anger, and demonizing the opposition from carrying over into 2017 and beyond, regardless which party prevails in November?

    

It's been three months since that initial posting and much has happened since then. There has been a growing endorsement of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. Hillory Clinton is almost assured to receive the Democratic Party nomination.

While I agree that synod should not get into a partisan debate, there is considerable merit in having synod talk about the 'state of the union'; that is, the state of American society. What is sparking the anger?

As Mercatornet editor Michael Cook recently wrote, "about 40 per cent of American children are born out of wedlock ... 55 per cent of teenagers live in families where their biological parents have rejected each other. Broken homes are associated with poverty, personal instability, and poor employment prospects. In this year's election campaign, this might encourage people to vote for an anti-establishment figure like Mr. Trump."

American society seems broken. The notion of 'the family' is disintegrating. If ever there was a time for the church -- in our case, Synod -- to discuss the issue, it is now. And it shouldn't be a discussion on which candidate or which party to support -- though it may come to that; it should be a discussion on how the church should respond to the desperate cry for help from millions of American families who seem hopeless and disenfranchised.

While it may be wise for the church to stay out of the partisan debates, the church does have a significant message of hope to bring to a broken society ... and it indeed is broken.

This author says, "What is most amazing is that there is no significant denunciation of Trump's comments by the Republican Party."  Huh, what?  I can't recall a political party that has more denunciated its own primariy season leader than the Republican Party has done this year in dununciating Trump and Trump's actions/statements, even though the Republican Party knows it risks alienate its own who support Trump by doing so.

Donald Trust does not equal Republican Party, even if this author suggests it is the case.  Had there been a better opportunity in the Democratic Party to get elected, Trump would have run as a Democrat.  Indeed, Trump has quite easily slipped from party to party -- and candidate to candidate -- in the past, and will continue to do so in the future, a fact not lost on Republican Party leaders and others who actually know what the phrase "political theory" means and can articulate their perspective about what government should or should not do.

Contrary to the advice in this article, The Banner should editorially stay out of the 2016 presidential race.  Why?  Beyond the generic sphere sovereignty arguments, because the editor and editorial board have less expertise than is needed to constructively take such positions.

Certainly, the institutional church (including Banner editor and ed board) can take a position against being crass, against calling names, against demagoguery, against racism, against hating, against dishonesty, against all sorts of things that it might decide it sees in this election, but it should not try to definitively describe the nuances of the make up of the Republican Party, nor the Democratic Party for that matter, nor any of the candidates, let alone endorse or oppose any.

Many thanks for your commentary, Roger.   I appreciate your perspective. I have celebrated The Season in several countries in addition to the U.S.:  The Netherlands (including the separate Sinterklaasdag as a child), Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and England. My favorite memory is a Christmas Eve worship service in a small 17th century Evangelische chapel in Kandersteg, at the foot of the Blumlisalp in the Bernese Alps (1989). Scripture, meditation, liturgy in 4 languages. Silent Night and other Carols sung in 4 languages --simultaneously.  The only "decorations" greenery,  manger scene, candles, and bells.  Some would consider the setting "austere."  Simple, yes, but hardly what I would call austere. A highly inspirational experience.  Lots of snow everywhere, but no Santa, sleigh, or reindeer.  Springtime greetings to you also, Roger.  Weather here in Cape Coral, FL,is also wonderful.

 

You are likely aware, Gerrit, that in the past (as little as 40 years ago) many of our Dutch (CRC) immigrants celebrated a Sinterklaasa Day on Dec. 5/6 with the exchanging of gifts or with gifts delivered by Sinterklaas himself.  Christmas was a separate Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth on the 25th. . I doubt that such celebration is hardly recognized today.  Also some 40 years ago, many of our CRC churches in Canada (ones established post second World War) would not decorate their churches for Christmas because such decoration was associated with Sinterklaasa day and not Christmas.  Sinterklaas was not considered a Christian figure so why paganize Christmas with such decoration.  It did make for a rather austere celebration of Christmas.  I doubt that such a distinction is made in any of our Canadian CRC churches today.  So goes Rev. McKinney’s idea of separate celebrations.  I will refrain from commenting on Donald Trump and his Merry Christmas pronouncement.  Wishing you well and all good will as we are soon to enter the spring season.  Chicago's weather has been wonderful.

You may well be right in regard to the Dec 25 date, Roger.  On the other hand, non-Christians might be just as happy with another date in December, so long as it is recognized as a holiday (with all the benefits of a paid secular holiday).   One would think that a clean separation (sacred/secular) would be welcomed by both Christians and non-Christians.  I fully realize that this is a radical idea -- though I think it has much to recommend it.  BTW, Donald J. Trump has "promised" that if he is elected President, he will make sure that "everybody" is saying Merry Christmas.  How would he accomplish (enforce?) this is anybody's guess, but it plays well among conservative evangelicals whose votes he is courting and who are concerned about increasing secularization, as well as the Fox News talking heads and their annual warnings about the so-called  "War on Christmas."  The latter will probably not be happy until the U.S. becomes a de facto or de more (as distinct from a de jure) theocracy.  Meanwhile, like you,  I expect the status quo to hold.

 

You make some interesting observations, Gerrit, in regard to Christmas.  You make mention of the “weak influence of Christians in our culture.”  In Western culture, Christianity has continually been losing its influence for many decades.  It’s loss of influence isn’t as much the fault of Christians, as much as in our more developing society, Christianity itself is not seen as reasonable or relevant.  So increasingly our culture looks elsewhere for meaning and relevance. So almost naturally the Christmas story of Jesus doesn’t take hold of hearts and consciences.  Whereas the story of Santa (with an emphasis on being good), generosity, family, good friends and wishes for the well being of others does take hold of people in our culture.  And such an emphasis, in our society of many diverse religions, fits well with the nomenclature of “happy holidays,” rather than simply merry Christmas which in the minds of many is representative of only one religion that focuses on Christ (hence Christmas).  As to Rev. McKinney’s idea of incorporating a new and different date for a secular Christmas, the only way that could possibly work would be for the Christian church to change the date of their own Christian celebration.  December 25th has already been taken over by our Western culture which would never be willing to change.  Do you think the church might be willing to change its date for celebrating Christ’s birth.  Probably not.  So I think we are still left with every individual or family celebrating Christmas or Santa’s day in a way that seems appropriate to them. Maybe a day celebrating both good will for all and Christ’s birth does make sense to many Christians.  It’s all a matter of what you want to make of it.

I don't think any of those who have advanced this idea have in mind an "enforcer."  BTW, Santa Claus has done quite well over the years without an "enforcer,"  and so have many church practices adopted over the centuries.  Unblending is not a matter of taking the fun out of Christmas for non-Christians (as though that were possible, given the weak "influence" of Christians in our culture).  I suspect that many, if not most, Christians are quite content to have "the reason for the season" embedded in the iconography of the North Pole, the jolly old elf in his red suit, and flying reindeer.  If a secularized celebration of the birth of Christ is OK with them, the notion of unblending is not worth consideration. Interesting, though, isn't it, that so many of them get upset when someone prefers the greeting "Happy Holidays" to "Merry Christmas" and the greeting "Blessed Christmas!" seems foreign.  Merriment does seem to be a high priority.

       

So how does this untangling or unblending take place?  It seems it should be the responsibility of every individual or family to celebrate Christmas in a way that is appropriate for them.  Are you saying there should be an enforcer that manages the untangling for our population or for our churches? For many citizens Santa Claus is as much or even more the reason for the season than is Jesus.  Certainly there can be no untangling for such as these.  For many, Jesus is as foreign to one’s Christmas thinking as Mohammed is to our thinking.  We live in a culture of many religions and beliefs.  So why would we try to take the fun out of Christmas for non-Christians?  And what influence do Christians have today that they should even attempt to untangle the meaning of Christmas for non-Christians?  It’s best left up to individuals and families.

Louis, 

   We are so appreciative of all of your writings, but especially when your wrote me way back in the early 70s.  I was in Brooks, Alberta in our first church complaining about the congregation.  You so beautifully set me straight.  Your remarks were along this line:  "It is never them and us/me.  We are the church of Jesus Christ together with all of our weaknesses and sins.  We are sinners together living only by the grace of God..."   I don't remember the rest of your correction to me, but that was enough to shape the rest of my ministry, and thankfully also my life to this day.   I have been so blessed.  I have learned that God even uses crooked sticks, that He blesses often in spite of us.  Right there in Brooks, Alberta I learned with your help how much I can value and learn from elders and many others in the congregation.  All this and much more you, Louis, and the Holy Spirit helped me to learn.    Thank you so much - for who you are, and for your care for other people.  God's riches blessings to you and Jean!   God is so good!  Ron Fisher 

posted in: Jesus Knew

Louis, It has been a pleasure reading your insights on the Network. May God bless you as you travel the road ahead.

posted in: Jesus Knew

Lou, I will miss your posts. I guess I'll have to walk next door for tea. jan

posted in: Jesus Knew

I agree, and the discussion should go beyond the comments made by Mr. Trump.

 

 

 Yes, the U.S.A. are a champion of civic and individual rights, and some, unfortunately, use that freedom to appeal to the worst in human nature.  I don't have to name names. If people have been paying the least bit attention to the news, they will know who I'm referring to.  And frankly, I hope that American CRC people at least, will exercise caution and wisdom in whom they vote for next November, for although the rest of the world has no say in who becomes the next president of your country, your choice will impact the whole planet for at least four years.

Ron Fisher on January 26m 2016

Did your congressman recognize that the 2nd amendment refers to the members of military or those empowered by government right to bear arms?  It was never intgended that every Tom, Dick & Harry could walk around with firearms.

What an insightful article.  Indeed, political questions can and usually are far more complex than meets an individual's eye.  And Christians,  even CRCers, rarely agree with each other about the correct answers to almost all political questions.

Synods, the CRCNA and CRCNA Agencies might take this article to heart when tempted to declare and publicly advocate/lobby about political conclusions obvious to them.

Thanks for this wonderful summary of the life of Ed Dobson, Lou. We should all be more like he was.

Thanks Louis for this inspirational thought concerning Mary.  It’s interesting that the angel, Gabriel, personally brought a message from God to Mary.  I guess that is the work of some angels, being messengers for God.  It was also the angel, Gabriel, who brought the text of the Koran to Muhammad in 609 A.D., over a 23 year period.  It is based on this that Muslims, like Christians, believe that the Koran (their Scriptures) is the fully inspired word of God and therefor inerrant.

Thanks, dear neighbor, for helping us think outside the box. 

posted in: Joseph - Our Man

Thank you Phil and Ron for your comments. Much appreciated!

In response to Ron, your remarks are well taken. Indeed, the care and services of Joseph around the first season of our Savior's life are highly significant. Thanks for pointing that us all. Joseph is an example to us all and worthy of our highest esteem. And the Lord does not owe us an account why so little is known of Joseph's later life.

posted in: Joseph - Our Man

Thanks for getting us thinking about the almost invisible Joseph. But emulate Joseph "in spite of the absence of drama and action in his life"? Do angel visits, a trip to Bethlehem for a census, delivering a baby in a barn without medical assistance, receiving Magi from the East with expensive gifts and strange devotion (though possibly later in the narrative), more travel to Egypt to flee the sword of Herod, then back to Nazareth not count as significant "drama and action"? We may not know much about him, and he may well have been a "quiet, caring and thoughtful man." But as we are reminded that "still waters run deep," I suspect he had more capacity to bend with and absorb and process currents of amazing drama than most of us might. 

posted in: Joseph - Our Man

Thank you, Rev. Tamminga.  As always, you are insightful, pastoral, kind, practical -- and succinct.  Like Joseph.  May God continue to bless you and use you to be a blessing.

posted in: Joseph - Our Man

Thanks, Lou! I like the way that you explained thankfulness as a habit we must cultivate. This is a great reminder for those times when we don't "feel" thankful. 

Thanks Herman! I met some of these of "The Greatest Generation" yesterday while speaking at Landsmeer Ridge Retirement Community in Orange City, Iowa. Almost every man in attendance was a WWII Veteran and almost every woman was a widow of a WWII Veteran. Thanks be to God for the service and sacrifice of this generation!

Thanks, Louis, for your article dealing with the troubles of life.  You suggest that people “cherish the notion of a trouble free life.”  I think the reality, on the street and in the church, is that people cherish the notion of a life full of trouble.  People would rather think and talk about their troubles rather than focusing on the good in their lives.

I agree that everyone experiences “troubles” of one sort or another.  And certainly some people experience a greater amount or degree of troubles than others.  But I would also suggest that most people, if not all people, also experience good things, even great things.  A person experiencing cancer may have a loving spouse, have a secure home, have a close friend, know a caring server at the local coffee shop, have a choice of two or three pairs of shoes or dresses to wear in the morning, had the opportunity to eat three square meals a day and maybe even to indulge in a snack in the evening, have a television or radio to watch a great TV show in the evening or listen to some uplifting music, feel the reality of God in one’s life and world, etc. etc.   The list of good things, I would suggest, far outweighs the few troubling things, for the well healed as well as the not so well healed.

But still, many, if not most people, want to focus on the negative.  Why not recognize the good things and people and give thanks or thank them personally on a regular, even daily basis.  And soon such people (who are experiencing trouble) will regain some balance or maybe even become giddy because life is so good.  Rather than thinking (along with many Christians) that we live in a terrible hell bound world, realize that the our world is a wonderful place and a wonderful gift from God.

Greetings Jeff:

   May I be a bit presumptuous and give a stab at the questions you ask?

 a. To be passionate about something actually requires propositional knowledge. That is to say the more in-depth knowledge that I have of the ways, likes, attitudes, of my wife, the more I can be passionate about her. That is to say my heart can be warmed by what I know of her in an intimate way. In a similar way, the more we know of Christ--and this is not just individually, but also corporately, the more passionate we can be about Him. This is what I would define as heart-knowledge.

b. A cultural trend. Well, I think that the critical thinking apparatus has been dumbed down without teaching in logic, rhetoric, critical analysis, but more on "well how do you feel about that?" That later question is everywhere these days. But I think this is where myticism can walk right in the door, and to my mind it is not only Pentacostalism---since some of the sharpest and most analytical minds I know are Pentacostals--but also the effects of a therapeutic Gospel which responds to "how can we make these people feel good?" rather than a Gospel which asks "how can we help these people to think rightly and feel accordingly."

 

Shalom.

 

 

 

John,

 

This is a good and healthy discussion to have. Two questions come to mind right away:

1. How would you define "heart-knowledge"?

2. To what extent is this anti-intellectualism part of a broader cultural trend?  Is it really an infiltration from Pentecostalism or is it just a reflection of where the culture is heading?  

Greetings John:

     I think you have latched on to something.  Where do you think ideas such as Lectio Divina recently popularized by those involved in Youth ministiries, spiritual directors who help to get in touch with inner feelings, and the widespread popularity of Richard Foster's the Celebration of Discipline come from?

   I would say these are a pendulum swing towards mysticism that is likely a reaction against hyper-intellectualism. But the pendulum has swung way too far, in my opinion. Without a critical thought, supposedly thinking, reading, analyzing Christian Reformed folk ditch their critical thinking and testing of the spirits capacity and jump on to what is clearly Roman Catholic/Quaker/Buddhist mysticism.

   It would appear that we continue to need "theology on fire." Nothing more and nothing less, or as even the motto of Calvin Seminary states, reflecting John Calvin "My heart I offer to you Lord: Promptly and Sincerely."

Shalom

 

Thank-you for sharing this story.
Thank-you for telling us that a church retreat can have this depth of realness.
Thank-you for asking him the hard question and helping him put the pain into words.
It is true what you say about the possibility of our beautiful Jesus coming into our memories and transforming them. I have experienced this healing over and over in my own journey.

 

posted in: Painful Memories

One of the smartest things My Wife and I have done in a long time is to cancel the cable and watch Hulu for entertainment. We do not have a need to know 90% of the daily gossip.

posted in: The Cain Syndrome

Interesting that our local CTV news station has a human interest positive story to end the news broadcast. Makes one determined to get through all the bad news to get something good? No doubt that the world is becoming a darker more satanic place.

"The wicked freely strut about
when what is vile is honored among men". (Psalm 12:8)

posted in: The Cain Syndrome

What can we do? Pray for the firefighters and stay out their way.

posted in: Fires

Thanks, Christy, for your article in which give your take on the homosexual issue, especially in light of the recent Supreme court decision.  Your title “Nothing and Everything...” is an interesting take on the new situation in the U.S. and Canada.  If I hear you right you are saying that the law, which now includes gays, has nothing to do with love.  Any two people (adults) are entitled to be married, whether in love or not.  But the love side comes into the picture as Christians are to love homosexuals with a Christlike love.  So it’s a both/and or a neither/nor picture concerning love.  But there are some problems with your take.

On the one hand, the law takes place in a different arena than that of the Christlike love you talk about.  The arena for the law is society and the arena for Christlike love is the church.

You suggest that the law has nothing to do with love, therefor anyone can get married.  In your thinking heterosexual marriage in this secular arena only has to do with procreation, the ability to create children.  This was the state’s reason to recognize marriage only between a man and woman.  Now that reason has been removed.  But Christy, there is nothing to substantiate the idea that marriage between a man and a women has anything to do with procreation.  No questions were/are asked of a man and woman applying for marriage pertaining to children.  A married couple may or may not plan on having children.  There was no requirement for obtaining a licence that pertained to children in the marriage.  Nor is there any law that says single people (non married) cannot have children.  Marriage and family are two different issues.  Marriage is just between two people and does not include children.

Also you suggest ”love” was not a reason in the State’s mind for sanctioning marriage.  Although not specifically stated as a requirement it does seem to be assumed.  The forms used by the State for a civil marriage ceremony have (in the past) and still ask if the couple promises to love each other.  Whereas the form does not ask about or mention children.  The assumption in the church and outside of the church is that love forms the basis of marriage.  In a civil ceremony, like a church ceremony, a couple pledge their love for each other.

In the church, of course, the foundation of marriage, is love, in fact, a Christlike love.  “As Christ loved the church so also the husband is to love his wife.”  When a man leaves his parents to be joined to his wife, again, the basis is love.  Having children is not the reason for getting married, even in the church.  The church marries couples because of their love for each other.  A couple stands at the front of the church in a marriage ceremony to pledge their love for each other.

A gay couple stands before a minister or a judge and pledges their love for each other, the same as a heterosexual couple does.  They both pledge a love and fidelity for as long as their lives shall last.  The homosexual couple, if Christian, may also pledge their love for God and neighbor.  But the church, at least the CRC, will not recognize the marriage of the gay couple or respect their life of love and fidelity for each other.  So while the church attempts to love the gay married couple, it still falls short, in that they are viewed as sinners and under the wrath of God for their marital relationship (which the gay couple thinks honors God).  Until the church does condone same sex marriage the CRC system is still flawed.

Thanks Christy for your perspective on an increasingly sensitive issue.  Keep working at it.  I hope you eventually get it completely right.  You're close, but no cigar.

Thanks, Christy, for your article in which give your take on the homosexual issue, especially in light of the recent Supreme court decision.  Your title “Nothing and Everything...” is an interesting take on the new situation in the U.S. and Canada.  If I hear you right you are saying that the law, which now includes gays, has nothing to do with love.  Any two people (adults) are entitled to be married, whether in love or not.  But the love side comes into the picture as Christians are to love homosexuals with a Christlike love.  So it’s a both/and or a neither/nor picture concerning love.  But there are some problems with your take.

On the one hand, the law takes place in a different arena than that of the Christlike love you talk about.  The arena for the law is society and the arena for Christlike love is the church.

You suggest that the law has nothing to do with love, therefor anyone can get married.  In your thinking heterosexual marriage in this secular arena only has to do with procreation, the ability to create children.  This was the state’s reason to recognize marriage only between a man and woman.  Now that reason has been removed.  But Christy, there is nothing to substantiate the idea that marriage between a man and a women has anything to do with procreation.  No questions were/are asked of a man and woman applying for marriage pertaining to children.  A married couple may or may not plan on having children.  There was no requirement for obtaining a licence that pertained to children in the marriage.  Nor is there any law that says single people (non married) cannot have children.  Marriage and family are two different issues.  Marriage is just between two people and does include children.

Also you suggest ”love” was not a reason in the State’s mind for sanctioning marriage.  Although not specifically stated as a requirement it does seem to be assumed.  The forms used by the State for a civil marriage ceremony have (in the past) and still ask if the couple promises to love each other.  Whereas the form does not ask about or mention children.  The assumption in the church and outside of the church is that love forms the basis of marriage.  In a civil ceremony, like a church ceremony, a couple pledge their love for each other.

In the church, of course, the foundation of marriage, is love, in fact, a Christlike love.  “As Christ loved the church so also the husband is to love his wife.”  When a man leaves his parents to be joined to his wife, again, the basis is love.  Having children is not the reason for getting married, even in the church.  The church marries couples because of their love for each other.  A couple stands at the front of the church in a marriage ceremony to pledge their love for each other.

A gay couple stands before a minister or a judge and pledges their love for each other, the same as a heterosexual couple does.  They both pledge a love and fidelity for as long as their lives shall last.  The homosexual couple, if Christian, may also pledge their love for God and neighbor.  But the church, at least the CRC, will not recognize the marriage of the gay couple or respect their life of love and fidelity for each other.  So while the church attempts to love the gay married couple, it still falls short, in that they are viewed as sinners and under the wrath of God for their marital relationship (which the gay couple thinks honors God).  Until the church does condone same sex marriage the system is still flawed.

Thanks Christy for your perspective on an increasingly sensitive issue.  Keep working at it.  I hope you eventually get it completely right.  You're close, but no cigar.

Thanks Louis,  sounds like a Christ like message to me.  How can anyone go wrong showing empathy to the varieties of people who surround us.  Pay our taxes gladly (especially the ones that contribute to the needs of the poor) and reach out to our neighbors with kindness and generosity. Thanks.

One important "side effect" of illness whether it's a mental illness or physical is poverty.  For some reason, those who manage disability pensions consider that sick people should live below the poverty level.  As though it were our fault that we can't earn our own living.  Now, here in Québec people on disability get their meds free as well as some dental coverage and some subsidies for buying a pair of glasses once every so many years, but when we complain about being financially tight in addition to being sick some people point out that our meds are free.  Good thing too. If people had to choose between their meds or eating, I don't know many who'd go hungry so they could take their pills.  While the author's suggestions are helpful in the case of people in hospitals or at death's door, he could also add sickness to the list of social justice issues for the impacts that being ill has on a family's budget.

posted in: The Sick Among Us

Just met a guy in a store who said what I have been thinking. 60 years ago blue/white collar families were doing just a little better every year and parents expected their children to do even better. It has been two or three decades since most families could say that. The post-WW 2 "middle class" bubble has been popped and will not return unless Jesus returns, we have a shooting revolution, or WW 3. I predict the western nations are regressing to a 19th century social structure and economy.

The statistical "median" person is neo-poor person with a full time low wage job. At the height of the middle class bubble, the median person never was in the social middle class. At least we knew we were working people. Please, someone, show me with statistical data  why I am wrong.

Did the crowds who praised Jesus on Palm Sunday curse him one week later in the presence of Pilate? Paul L. Maier, former Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, suggested decades ago that two crowds were involved. One worshiped and praised Jesus as King; the other yelled "Crucify him! Crucify him!" (Luke 23:21). Maier argues that Annas and the Sadducees (controllers of the Temple) pressured people to shout down Jesus, because his popularity had soared. 

Let us praise our King exuberantly this Sunday and every day!

posted in: Palm Sunday

Thank you Staci.

posted in: Palm Sunday

Thank you for catching our oversight! We've made a change in the image we used. 

posted in: Palm Sunday

Thank you for the post, Louis.  I appreciate the way you point us to our own failing in light of the failing of the Isrealites.  It is much to easy to think we would have (or do) welcome the Savior much more righteously. 

 

Perhaps the associated picture is not of your choosing, in which case I direct this comment to the site editor(s): Please consider whether a confessional denomination should violate the confessions on their website(s).  In light of Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 96-98 where we confess in part "God cannot and may not be visibly portrayed in any way", I suggest choosing a different accompanying illustration.  I recognize that representations of Jesus (however inaccurate and unwarranted they may be) are somewhat ubiquitous in our culture and indeed often in our churches, but that does not justify denominational approval and practice of the same given the content of our confession.  I would also suggest that such images may be particularly damaging for those among us who have come out of the Roman Catholic church. 

posted in: Palm Sunday

Haha thanks for sharing, Jill! It is really crazy how these memories stick around. I've never attempted to make gravy but I bet your mom's recipe was amazing!! 

Staci:

 

What a wonderful article!  I just found it today!  I have many, many memories of my mom cutting out newspaper recipes and trying them out on us.  We had to suffer through the good and the bad.  One memory of my mom that stays with me is making gravy.  She wanted so much to teach us to make gravy!  She would never let us make it but we had to "watch" her make it to learn.  To this day, I cannot make the same gravy my mom did which was fabulous.  I finally gave up and bought it in a jar!  Ha! Ha!

Thanks, Carol! I appreciate your post and have been a witness to your gifts of loving people through delicious food! =) Thanks for living this out so well! 

Hi Cindy! I completely agree. I love the cookbooks that are "worn-in" with grease marks and smudges. Cookbooks are not meant to be kept clean =) Thanks for reaching out!

Thanks for sharing! I completely agree that food and family times are wonderful gifts.

Let me know what you think of the cookbook! 

I agree completely, Staci! I will probably never get rid of my favorite cookbooks and favorite printed recipes. There are several that I am particularly attached to for many different reasons. These include the ones that have been passed down to me through the generations and the ones that I at some point yanked from a magazine and fell in love with. I am so glad you wrote this post about faith and food. For me, just like for Shauna, the two are very closed related. Feeding people (family, friends, neighbors, people at church) is one of the ways that I love them and show them hospitality. I love food and I find a lot of joy in sharing it with someone else. One of my favorite books on food and connecting with people around the table is Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. Great recipes and great stories to go along with them. A very dear friend gave me this book as a gift and I thought it was just the perfect gift. Thank you, Staci. Keep up the beautiful writing!

There is something personal about a cookbook that you just can't get on a computer or smartphone screen.  I love those little notes added to the recipes in church or school cookbooks.  My mom was a stay-at-home mom until I was in high school, and didn't have much spending money, but one year for Christmas she typed out about 50 of her treasured recipes on cards and put them in a little file box for my "hope chest."  That was on a manual typewriter, rolling each card in individually.  Forty years later, I use those cards regularly, complete with the grease splatters and smudges.  If my house was on fire, that box is one thing I'd grab. 

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