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Bishop Whipple Takes Heart

Henry Benjamin Whipple went on to become Bishop of Minnesota and to plead, famously, to President Abraham Lincoln himself, for the lives of the 300+ Dakota warriors sentenced to hang after the Dakota War. Lincoln later said he felt the urgency of Whipple's visit "down to his boots."  Most Minnesota white folks hated him. His colleagues thought him a fanatic...

Pastors
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Expectations, the Law, and the Spirit

My expectations are often merely another form of the Law. They are my expectations of how I think the world should be. They are my beliefs about my importance, my plans, my destiny, my life. The problem is that they also often do not match what God plans for me. All these expectations do is condemn me. They make me miserable. They place the law of sin ...

Pastors
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What Is the Gospel?

There is no idea more central to the NT than the importance of the gospel. It is the "good news" of Jesus. It is the message of Jesus and the message of the Church. I sure wish it was that easy!  Wouldn't it be great if everyone knew and understood what the gospel is, what it means, and how to proclaim it?  I am saddened that even within my peer group (pastors) there is...

Pastors
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What Your Church Coffee Says about You

My church recently changed the kind of coffee we serve on Sundays. There are coffee stations with self-serve air pots and a variety of seating options. Bare walls have been replaced with artwork. Fluorescent lights have been replaced with track lighting. Bulletin boards have been replaced with a video monitor. And here’s what I’ve noticed; nothing has really changed...

Pastors
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Jesus, Rabbi to Out-of-the-Way Places

Pick up a CRCNA Yearbook and among the familiar names you’ll find unknowns such as Terra Ceia, Woden, Prairie View, Austinville and more. Historically, we know how churches got planted in such places. But the question arises, “Would Jesus today go to minister in such out-of-the-way places?” If not, wouldn’t we be better off just closing down all those tiny churches...

PastorsRural
Blog
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Why a Drive-in Church?

I preach regularly at the Woodland Drive-In Church in Grand Rapids. The question inevitably arises: Why would people want to worship at a drive-in church instead of sitting inside a traditional church? There are two main categories of people who attend our services and a number of reasons they do so...

Pastors
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Can I Really Do This?

We just returned from vacation. But now, on my second day back on duty, I’m asking myself: “Can I really do this?” For the most part, I enjoy being a pastor.  But today I’m not so sure I want to do this.  Happily, August is generally a quieter month. But I know September is coming and I’m not sure I want to face the demands that lie ahead.  What’s a pastor to do?...

Pastors
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Leadership in Ministry Course - Your Input Needed

In preparation for a course I'll be co-teaching this fall, I'd like your input on what we can do more fully prepare our graduates for ministry. Finish the sentence "I wish Calvin Seminary prepared students more in…." and post your response in the comments.

Pastors
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More than Our Need to Be Right

"I love you more than my need to be right." I’ve been thinking about those words in the context of this verse  – “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” – and have wondered what difference it might make to those standing on the margins of the church. What if their experience of church was marked by people who listened well to them and each other...

Pastors
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Ready to Dance!

In 1999 I was blessed to be extended a call to co-pastor Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which had a vision to become a multicultural church.  I researched the CRC’s doctrines, history and mission focus and it all seemed to align with God’s leading in my life. So I accepted the call. I was eager...

Pastors
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To the Least of These

If you minister where the most well-read news magazines are Progressive Farmer and the Farmers’ Almanac and not The New York Times, where you can't leave town without everyone knowing where you are headed, and where everyone knew your name before you ever arrived there, then this blog’s for you...

PastorsRural
Blog
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To Judge or Not to Judge: That Is the Question

One of my readers asked me to reflect on the whole issue of judgment in the church. His starting point was Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” How can we make sense out of this whole business about judging—a word used often in the New Testament and sometimes in opposite ways?...

Pastors
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Seeking God's Hand or Face?

"If you seek God's hand, you will miss His face. If you seek His face, you will get His hand also." I have to say this quotation hits the nail on the head as to why so many folks are not effective in their prayer life. They seek God's blessing on their work and life without seeking God's searching, purifying, and transforming grace. I know I have lived this way all too often. I have prayed...

Pastors
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Ender's Theology

Ender is confronted by a gang from school. At first, I couldn’t discern the fault in his thinking; it was completely logical: “I will have to face these bullies every day. No one will help me. Therefore, I must help myself. I will beat them at this game so badly they will never fight me again.” I realized that Ender’s decision was completely logical only if one believes that one is truly alone...

Pastors
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Playing with Hebrew Word Usage

Perhaps in some of your studies you have found, probably through the help of commentaries, how a Hebrew prophet plays with words in order to communicate his message. The way in which the narrator of the Jonah story has crafted this book is indeed exciting. A variety of words are sprinkled throughout the book to give it a hidden and enriching unity. I can only...

Pastors
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Listening to God Through Reading

I recently attended a conference on spiritual leadership. The conference teacher encouraged us all to read many books on leadership. But he also encouraged us to spend considerable time reading books spiritually. So what does this mean? Spiritual reading is about quality, not quantity. It is to read a book with this question in mind...

Pastors
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Always Saying Yes

"Just because someone asks doesn't mean you should do." I heard Mark Cuban say this during a recent episode of Shark Tank. In a show where entrepreneurs try to get funding from a panel of successful business leaders to jumpstart their company, Cuban, the well-known owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was trying to figure out why someone wanted to take their business in a certain direction...

Pastors
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We Believe. Help Our Unbelief.

I still cannot comprehend these facts three weeks after it all began. They've been playing in my head like a wicked song I can’t turn off. My response is not unique. Why does this young man’s death and his family’s grief make such a deep impact on so many who never knew Tim Bosma?

Pastors
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Counting What Counts

It was the third evening in a row I had heard the steady hum of amplified music reverberating through the night air. In North America, I would have imagined the source to be a group of teenagers grinding out their favorite tunes in a garage. But in Nicaragua it is not teenagers who make the racket. “It’s the churches,” my host explained. “We’ve got five of them in this neighborhood. And they have services six nights a week.”

Pastors
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An Open and Shut Case

In the forum regarding Overtures 3 & 4 for this year’s Synod, Meg Jenista quoted Augustine of Hippo, who said: "In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty and in all things, charity." So what’s the question? The question is: what are the essentials, and what are the non-essentials when it comes to our faith?

Pastors
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Dealing with Death and Dying

In two years I’ve done 24 funerals. Three of which have been for someone under the age of 70. One was for a baby. Each time, no one knew how to deal with death and dying. They kept going back to praying for the miracle. Praying against hope that things will not end in the inevitable. As pastors, ours is the calling to...

Pastors
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Christians as Athletes and Fans: Double Vision-Single Focus

Because of the radical changes in the sporting world, some rather difficult issues face any Christian believer or institution involved in competitive sports. To be honest, I think these changes have made it harder for the fan to keep a good Christian testimony than the athlete...

Pastors
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To Glorify God

What do the Scriptures mean when they refer to glorifying God? This teaching is, of course, a common one in Reformed circles. From childhood I have heard the exhortation, “Glorify God in all of life.” What this meant was that in everything that we do, we should reflect the glory of God—that we are children of God. People should be able to see from the way...

Pastors
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The Unnecessary Pastor

I am learning that being a pastor is not about having the perfect text picked out for the anxious soul, articulating with winsome ease encouraging words to the grieving, dying, depressed, and preaching sermons where riots break out in the parking lot because of the work of the gospel (think Apostle Paul in Ephesus). I am learning by God’s grace the role of the pastor is about becoming unnecessary...

Pastors

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