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Is it truly appropriate to be snarky to one another on these forums?

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 happening to others. I just posted my question and then I'll be off until I come back to see if it was answered. Not sure I want to do much more than that. #surprised #disappointed #maturitywanted
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The Irony of Global Warming Activists Stuck in Ice (Antarctica)

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...
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Who Are the Prophets Among Us?

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 the Contemporary Christian Music scene. If a prophet is one who speaks the Word of God and a musical artist is one who sings the Word of God, then the grandfather of prophets is surely Michael Card (b. 1957). He has made his mark, not only as one who plays a right-handed strung guitar left-handedly, but as one...
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Webinar Recording
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Discerning God's Mission Together (Part 2)

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.

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Webinar Recording
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Discerning God's Mission Together (Part 1)

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.

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Strategic Planning for Growth

Apparently we are launching an effort based on five streams to slow the rate of attrition within the denomination. And apparently we have asked agency heads and pastors to spearhead the effort. I appreciate the good intentions, but really, how many of them have the highly specialized training of an MBA degree in Marketing from Wharton or the University of Chicago? How many of them have experience with the rigors of demographic analysis, financial trends and sales projections for new products or services? When the VP of Sales and Marketing at Ford lays out the specifications that will appeal...
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The Siphonophore Gospel

Sometimes I think that we have trouble truly understanding the gospel because we are too wrapped up in the whole story of the gospel. Don't get me wrong, I am eternally grateful for the fact that I am inextricably wrapped up in God's great story of redemption. Rather, my problem is that sometimes I'm so mixed up between the true gospel and things that I've just brought along with me as baggage from my tradition, the culture around me, or just my own messed up head, that I just can't see what the gospel is really like in all its glorious richness. Which brings me to God's creation. Scientists...
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Minding Our Metaphors

Not long ago I was studying an issue of biblical theology, and in my reading I came across a fascinating discussion of metaphors. The author claimed, rightly, that we can learn a lot about how we view an issue and its potential outcome—be it an issue in the home, in the church, in society at large—by examining the metaphors that we use to describe that issue. Let’s say we are examining an issue in which there are deep differences of opinion. Many people talk about “winning the argument,” “getting the better of an opponent,” “shooting down someone else’s argument,” and “getting the upper hand...
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A Tale of 3 Cities

Last weekend Rose and drove to Grand Rapids “kidplay” with grandchildren while their parents took a weekend getaway. (Kidplay—invented by our daughters: NOT babysitting, but playing with kids.) Friday morning while the kids were in school, we took a cheap date to Grand Rapids’ spectacular “Art Prize.” And that’s where I experienced at one installation the opposite of an epiphany. After a leisurely 90 minutes of poking around fascinating, multi-media projects by artists from all over the world, the anti-climax of our date bottomed out at the riverside. There a 25 by 12 or so foot tableau drew...
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Our church's greatest threat: homosexuality or pornography?

At least one delegate to synod indicated that the 'homosexuality' question will become the denomination's next major issue. I disagree. There is something much more prevalent eating away at the congregation's fabric. If national statistics hold true for the church, just one per cent of Canadians (and presumably Americans) self-identify as having same-gender attractions. In fact, our local church used that very statistic a decade ago when we declared our church a 'safe place' for homosexuals, pointing out that 1 per cent of our church membership at the time -- 500 -- means that 5 people within...
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Question on Hebrews 4?

Hello I am new here and have a question on Hebrews 4. I have been in a discussion with someoneon creation and they say that Hebrews 4 where it says about our rest, the rest we will have, being scripture proof that the world was not made in Six days. I take what Genesis says as literal that the world and all in it was made in six days and asked him for scripture proof to prove otherwise. The reply was that Hebrews shows that it was not. My question is does anyone else see Hebrews 4 concerning our rest as anything else than a reference to the rest we will have at the end. What do you all think...
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Calvin College's Fiscal Credibility

Aside from a very thorough treatment of Calvin College's fiscal mismanagement in a Canadian Christian periodical, Christian Courier, I haven't seen or heard much about it in The Banner or on The Network. It must be disheartening for all of those donors to Calvin's various capital campaigns to discover that those financial gifts were reinvested in the stock market rather than applied to the capital expenditures. It is little wonder that Calvin College is in serious financial trouble. It seems as though a serious discussion about stewardship needs to take place. Imagine if my weekly church...
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Lent and Leverage

On Sunday, two seemingly unrelated events came together in what turned out to be a timely lent lesson for me. I was an assistant for children's church and our lesson was about the final hours Jesus spent with his disciples. To their surprise, Jesus dresses down like a servant and starts washing their feet. Peter can hardly take it and protests, You can't wash my feet! But Jesus reminds Peter, If you don't let me wash you, you can have no part of me. After the lesson, my teaching partner and I washed the feet of each child in our class. This came as a surprise to them too. I mean, it is...
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What Diversity Can Do

Guest post by Janelle Dykxhoorn Diversity is a big word in my world right now. I’ve come to realize that, professionally-speaking, we work with a very diverse group of people who display a large diversity in skill sets and abilities. I get that and I appreciate that. What I didn’t realize is the extent to which diversity exists in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). The church is full of just as many or even a larger diversity of people. Of course, I understand that the church is filled with a diverse group of people but I assumed that local CRC churches were like the typical one that I grew...
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Christians, as athletes and fans, engaging in sports

Dordt history professor, Paul Fessler, asks the question “How should Christians, as athletes and fans, engage sports in our society?” On Monday, March 4, Fessler will discuss this question during his First Mondays Speaker Series presentation titled “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and . . . Kuyper?” “Sports cannot be viewed as a neutral cultural activity,” says Fessler. He believes that Christians should examine sports more deeply to develop their perspective. How would you respond to the question: “How should Christians, as athletes and fans, engage sports in our society?” What's your...
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transforming conflict

Hi all, There's a big difference between "being engaged in conflict" and "engaging conflict." And so, I'm curious: has your congregation intentionally worked at engaging conflict -- transforming it from being a destructive force to becoming a constructive resource for growth? I (together with my former congregation -- First CRC of Orillia, ON) have been on an exciting journey with the help of Restorative Practices ( see http://www.shalemnetwork.org/support-programs/support-programs-restorati... ). How about you? Let's share some stories to celebrate healing and provide resources to those who...
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(Un)Hurt: The Healing Power of Forgiveness

This webinar will explore the topic of forgiveness and introduce a new resource from Faith Alive called (Un)Hurt designed to answer your questions in a Bible-based, four-step process that equips participants to actually forgive real hurts.

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Cultural Engagement: Speaker Dr. David W. Hall

The Cultural Engagement Committee at our church serves to help us become more actively involved in the bringing of and the encouraging of true justice and righteousness in society. On September 12 & 13 the committee is bringing in pastor and author Dr. David W. Hall who will present "Questioning Politics - Five Essential Queries for Believers to Ask and Answer" delivered over 5 sessions, and we want to share this opportunity with other churches. Dr. Hall will be talking about: 1. The Origin and Divine Plan for Governments (Plural): Or Is Politics All There Is? 2. What Happens When...
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The Parched Place

We've been having a drought here in Michigan, much like many areas across the United States and Canada. For over a month it's been hot and dry and cloudless. Crops are parched and people seem that way too. Even non-farmers are getting interested in the weather, turning their faces to the sky hoping for a sign of rain. And then yesterday, finally, the skies broke open and it poured. Without thinking, I headed for the door. (My son) Eli watched me, "Where are you going Mama?" I opened the door. "I'm going to watch it rain." At the edge of the garage, the three of us stood in a line and just...
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Accountability and clarity in salary grid.

"The BOT recommends that Synod 2012 adopt the salary grid as detailed below for use in fiscal year 2012-2013. The Board is proposing a 3 percent increase over 2012" This what I read in the 2012 Synod Agenda supplement. It goes on to list the upper and lower Salary ranges at the demoninational level. I am assuming this refers to staff and mangement in GR and in Burlington, Canada. Correct me if I have this wrong. It does not show who is being paid how much and for what position. In Ontario, Canada, we have what is referred too as the "Sunshine Law" in which all public servants and those who...
CRCNA and SynodLet's Talk About...
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The CRCNA. A church in 2 countries, Canada and the United States

As a 65 year old Canadian member of the Christian Reformed Church, I have been a keen observer of our denomination and the way it works or doesn't work. For some time now I have come to the conclusion that it's time for the Canadian churches to have our own synod- to determine the will of God for our churches in a unique Canadian context. The cultural divide between our two countries has always been great , but it has become increasingly so of late. As some of you may be aware, the CRCNA is once again trying to figure out a new governance model. It will come before Synod again this June. Many...
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Who was Adam?

Who was Adam? This simple question has become the great controversy of the day in not only the Christian Reformed community but in Evangelical Christianity as a whole. New scientific advances in investigating the human genome have raised some serious questions concerning the origins of man. The latest claim is that recent genome studies of our species tell us that humanity had arisen from a pre-existent humanoid community of non-homo sapiens origins. In other words, humanity, they claim, didn’t come into existence through one individual, but through many individuals. So what does this mean to...
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Q&A
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Training/safety programs for ministering to at-risk population?

Our church is in the planning stages of forming a non-profit organization to minister to homeless in our community. We will take up residence at a local motel. We need to formulate a training program for our volunteers. We also need to develop a safety policies. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, does anyone have access to share an existing program fir either area with us? We would use as a reference and tailor to our specific ministry. Thanks!
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Thank you all for the well wishes and the good ideas so far!

Keep them coming!

 

Headline for Banner..........Gay people were born that way, it is just a matter of time when they "come out" to confess it.

Jesus loves ALL his children!

My header would be, "The fallacy of climate change and what we can do to stop the madness"

Be more aware and write about our culture. How the liberal views on abortion and sexual promiscuity creeping into our Christian world and life view. Find Christians who are involved with these issues and have them write about it.

I am highly biased (aren't we all?), but I would love to see more celebration of the impact we have on the secular and institutional world around us -- particularly the work done by our growing number of chaplains (nearly 150 endorsed, plus many campus chaplains and pastors serving part time as hospice, hospital or police chaplains). This is a significant missional aspect of the church influencing many institutions, agencies and individuals outside the church -- one that at times seems not fully embraced by the church. If 10 - 15% of our ordained clergy are finding their way into this arena that provides great opportunities for ministry at the "fringes," with very little cost to the organized church; might this not be something we wish to be more aware of and deliberate about? 

Ron Klimp - Director of Chaplaincy and Care Ministry

Welcome Chong!  Given your background in campus ministry, I think you could offer a great editorial on Young Adults and the future of our denomination.  Another topic that I'm passionate about and would love to see explored further is how we use our language (and social media) to really isolate each other.  We tend to surround ourselves with people who are like us and then slam those who think differently.  Has this hurt our ability to learn from each other and change?

My headline:

Discerning what it is to be an institutional church denomination in a hyper-politicized culture - what should it mean, and not mean, to be CRC?

I would like to see an article focusing on the general topic of missions and what it looks like today, maybe how it has changed. Not a highlight of an agency's work but about missions as a practice and theology.

Practicing Hospitality and Why I Think More CRC Churches Should Serve Breakfast on Sunday Morning

Beautiful Things by Gungor.  Great message obviously, but also it uses the pronoun "us" in the choruses.  This nicely counters the rabid individualism of our consumer culture.  

This is one of my favorites too, Laura! 

I love how God inspires us with encouraging words and melodies throughout our day.  So many songs come to mind, but for this day in God's perfect timing "Moving Forward" by Integrity's Hosanna! Music is my song.

 

I'm not going back 
I'm moving ahead 
Here to declare to You my past is over in You

all things are made new 
Surrendered my life to Christ 
I'm moving, moving forward 
 

 "How Deep the Father's Love for Us"  by Stewart Townend touches my soul. 

For my wife and I a song that stirs our soul is by MercyMe, called "I can only Imagine"

Lately I've really been inspired and challenged by the Rend Collective song Joy of the Lord. 

This song encourages me to lean on the JOY and HOPE of the Lord, no matter the circumstances. My favorite part of the song are the lines: "The joy of the Lord is my strength, In the darkness I’ll dance, In the shadows I’ll sing, The joy of the Lord is my strength." 

Rory Nolan taught a song at a Willow Creek Conference quite a few years ago when I was a young worship leader, and I have started almost every day since then with these words. I call it my 'shower song'.

He is Able (title)

He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today
He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes my way
He is able, more than able, to do much more than I could ever dream
He is able, more than able, to make me what He wants me to be.

My Dad's favorite song, which he sang to us while tucking us in bed, "When we Walk With the Lord" ("Trust and Obey")

What a gift it has been to learn from you and work with you! Thanks for your compassion and wisdom. 

posted in: Jesus Knew

The Fiene article claims that his generation doesn't march against Roe v. Wade but March for Life in DC has tens of thousands of participants from every generation. He also says that his generation doesn't care about poverty or human trafficking... umm... I think the Fiene article might be satire.   

Righteousness received by faith is lived out by loving our neighbor. It makes people act in the interests of others, especially the least of these. Underscoring righteousness that is not our own and is credited to our accounts, in preaching and teaching, as suggested above, will only result in more activism.

I don't know if self-righteousness serves as a motive for activism in the CRC. I think that assigning motives usually turns out to be a pretty bad idea. 

  

Doug, where is your evidence for Republican statements of "opposition" to Trump during the months of June to December?  What led you or others to believe that the Trump phenomenon would "slide away on its own" when poll after poll showed substantial support for his candidacy?

I agree with your observations concerning the Republican campaign being "abhorrent."

Personally I am an independent voter who has supported and voted for candidates from both parties over the years.  Your suggestion that I am "demonizing Republicans" is simply off-base. My GOP friends would find your suggestion amusing.   Please note that my comments addressed partisanship per se, not applied to one particular party  You apparently read GOP into it, and assume that I was referring only to sole reliance on certain sources of information. My comments apply to MSNBC as well as Fox News.  Opinionators approach their subjects in many and varied ways, and neither party has a monopoly on demonization. 

I hope and pray that we can discuss characteristics of the political scene (serious discussion, not "ranting") without resorting to untested assumptions concerning our fellow discussant.

           

 

Sorry Gerrit but I think you are way off-base in your perspective about the Trump phenomena.  First, Republicans were opposing Trump when you say they weren't, although of course it became more as time passed, but that's nothing more than normal -- and responsible -- human behavior.  You don't make a big fuss about something that will slide away on its own.  It was reasonable to believe that Trump would gain no traction at all and fall to the wayside early.  Indeed, it was unreasonable to think otherwise.

Yes, the Republican campaign has been beyond abhorrent but also beyond precedent.  But all of it -- all of it -- has to do with one candidate who could as well have run as a Democrat, whose history strongly suggests he has no political party affiliation -- or political theory perspective -- of any kind.

Your response suggests you are a bit of a victim of what you what the denomination to rant against, that is, partisanship (noting your reference to "opinionators from one end of the spectrum and one cable 'news' channel").  If you want to "prevent the prevailing ethic of obstructionism, anger, and demonizing the opposition ...," you could start by not demonizing Republicans -- or Fox News for that matter -- as you do here.  The brushes you are using are far too broad (aka "partisan").

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

 

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