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Work, Overwork, Stress: When Does a Vocation become a Job?

How many of us preachers feel overworked, stressed out? (I have never complained about being underpaid, though some colleagues are. In fact, I often say, “You can’t pay me enough for what I do, but I’m not complaining, because this pastoring business is more than a job; it’s a vocatio.”)

Pastors
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A Wrap of a Rap on the Heidelberg Catechism

Last week a colleague of mine sent me a link to this hilarious, yet serious, rap on the Heidelberg Catechism. This "cat rap" as I shall call it, is the curious result of a challenge by C.J. Mahaney to rapper Curtis Allen. I hadn't heard of either of these dudes (the term seems fitting), though I've read some good things by Kevin De Young, whose recent book on the catechism occasioned Mahaney's challenge. 

Pastors
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James Smith on "Buried Treasure? Reformed Tradition and the Future of the CRC"

I invite you to listen to this talk by Dr. James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College. Both the talk and the talkdown are worth listening to in order to challenge and provoke us pastors, our councils and congregations to re-engage the richness of the Reformed tradition, but NOT traditionalism. I hope you find this as provocative, clarifying and ...

Pastors
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When Suicide Rocks a Community

In the last blog post I wrote on Mother Theresa’s profound spiritual suffering and its relation to the pastoral life. The sad, achingly poignant link to our community was the sadness of a 19 year-old’s suicide.

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Mother Teresa and Pastors (part 2)

A decade into her vocation as nun, Mother Teresa began to suffer “darkness” and the “absence of God.” briefly, that darkness and absence of God constituted her greatest suffering. Yet, after some years, she came to this stunning conclusion: "When you accept the vows [of a nun] you must accept the same fate as Jesus [abandonment by God?]"

Pastors
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Let's Keep Thinking about the "Second Service"

It appears that confessional preaching/teaching and the second worship services are both going the way of the dodo bird and passenger pigeon in most places in our denomination. Check out this article about second services by Matt Vande Bunte in a recent on-line issue of The Grand Rapids Press and then read on. I hope the article remains available for a while.

Pastors
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Hopeful, Sensitive Words about Muslim-Christian Relations

If you are interested in reading charitable, honestly Christian comment on the issue of Christian-Muslim relationship—especially on the topic of Koran burning—today’s issue of Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's Virtual House News will be helpful. Pass this around to members of your congregation, council members, friends. Encourage prayers, calm, gentleness and generous portions of Christ’s love. If you don’t have time to read all the items editor Daina Doucet refers to, I particularly recommend at least Geoff Tunnicliffe’s record of his conversations with Pastor Terry Jones.

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Mother Teresa and Pastors Today

Let's learn from the Roman Catholic masters from whom we separated--and whom we villainized for many years. Perhaps one spiritual benefit of ecumenism for all Christians is to examine ourselves, scour our motives, use the agonizingly slow, maddening wheels of the church to move with us and we pastors and leaders with them.

Pastors
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A Whisper

About a month ago I bumped into one of the daughters as she was visiting a local sister. I had recently visited her mom. We shared our experiences, wondering what stuck in her mom’s mind, what penetrated the formerly glowing eyes that only infrequently glimmer with God-knows-what powerful memory or affection. At one time the daughter sighed, “We all wonder what purpose God has for letting Mom live like this. Why is Mom still hanging on?”

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Leadership in the Church: The Rest of the Story

A frightfully realistic, hence necessary corollary to all axioms of leadership is this: Church leaders WILL trip, stumble and fall. Not all will do irreparable damage to themselves or others as they fall; sometimes no one but God notices. Regardless, the result is always disheartening.

Pastors
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A Sober Warning

An op-ed from the August 7 New York Times, written by a United Church of Christ pastor is called "Congregations Gone Wild." G. Jeffrey MacDonald sketches a serious warning to pastors and congregations about our consumerist culture's potential to blow out the foundation and integrity of the pastoral calling.

Pastors
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Risks of Resurrection—or ALMOST the "Rest of the Story"

James C. Dekker, pastor of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, remembers that he never was able to practice personal devotions faithfully until he suffered his own mini-death and found hope from Christ’s resurrection from once-broken colleagues.

Pastors
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What Did YOU Do on Your Summer Vacation?

Well, it has been a couple of weeks since I've been on-line. Yes, my family and I have been "on holidays," as we say up here in the "true North, strong and free"--or as Bob Dylan calls it south of the border, "the north country fair." Whatever you call it, after a hard start to our holidays with the death of a young mother in our congregation (see the blog, "Claudette's Cancer: A Hard Sanctification?"), God blessed us with opportunities to re-connect as siblings, cousins, parents, childen and grandchildren in two rounds of family reunions.

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Claudette's Cancer: A Hard Sanctification?

Yesterday a 40 year-old wife and mom from our congregation died. She had suffered from cancer for just over a year. It started with a mole in the small of her back that he husband saw one evening. Though discovered early, that made no difference to the raging cancer that devoured multiple organs.

Pastors
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"Contemporvant" Worship Video--Funny? Offensive? Satirical? Mean?

Well, since my last blog post about ten days ago about a contemporary worship service Rose and I attended, there has been a fair bit of traffic on this page and a few comments--both on the Network and to my personal email. So now maybe it's time to keep the fires burning, the sparks flying, the synapses clicking (or whatever synapses do). A friend sent me the following link to a video that really...

Pastors
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Pastors Ponder Change

How many pastors does it take to change a Christian Reformed church? The best and right answer is probably “None.” That hasn’t kept many of my ilk from trying. 

Pastors
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Competency for Communal Leadership

In a provocative discussion on “competencies,” the CRCNA’s Leadership Development Team claims we “should not overstate the distinction between character and competence.” Yet the echo of competency rooted in character sounds often.

Pastors
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“Contemporary Worship” Doesn’t Have to Be Empty of History

We were on holidays and decided to go to a “contemporary service” in a CRC with nearly 100 years of history. Now, I LIKE to be critical—part of the "old man" still kicking around, I guess. But my wife is a kind and gentle and just woman. So, imagine my surprise the next day when she energetically called it a “dipstick” service. Yikes. How come?

Pastors
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An Exchange about Membership Transfers

Here's a brief email exchange about some technical issues on membership transfers between congregations and different denominations. I thought this might be helpful for elders, deacons, pastors, members because I think we deal with this at least ten times a year for people either transferring in or out. I think the two notes below are self-explanatory...

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Sustaining Pastoral Excellence

Grants, conferences and learning events are just some of the ways that Sustaining Pastoral Excellence supports and strengthens pastors and helps to build vital congregations.

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