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Check, Check, Checkmate!

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!

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Authenticity of the Holy Bible

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?

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Because

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.. -- Becca D, @becky_boo32 And I think all children should be required to wear footie pj's because adorable -- Kat Lee, @inspired2action just had a mental breakdown because physics -- Rachel Miller, @rachieemiller My law professor is making us watch movies about football. Because the South. -- corso, @...
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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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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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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?

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 this passage of scripture says?

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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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