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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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The Holy Spirit and the Sermon – A Friendly Reminder For Those Who Preach

Among all too many of us there is a hidden, unspoken, forgivable kind of blasphemy. It is the protest of Jeremiah when the Lord appointed him a prophet to the nations: “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak” (Jeremiah 1:6). Unintended blasphemy – to preach, or refuse to preach, as if successful preaching depended primarily on me. The blasphemy is the implication that preaching is...

Pastors
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The Other Side of 'Quitting Time'

First it was a short article in Christianity Today, and then Sam Hamstra’s piece came in, and today I read that John Piper preached his last sermon Easter Sunday in his congregation in the Twin Cities.  Suddenly, everywhere I turn retirement is being written about, and I think that is good, although late for me since I retired in 2008...

Pastors
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What's a Preacher to Do?

It's difficult for me to believe that it's been now close to 8 years since I left my last congregation as pastor and weekly preacher. I like to think that my ability to draw on nearly 16 years' worth of preaching experience helps me in my job now training up a new generation of preachers via our students here at Calvin Seminary. But every once in a while I realize that maybe I've been out of the "game" just long enough that I have lost touch a little with the struggles of preachers today...

Pastors
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Give Me a Break!

Why are we sometimes so hard on ourselves? Or, for that matter, hard on each other? Ever notice that? No wonder someone said recently, “Christians can sometimes be SO mean!” That hurt to hear. But I think he was more right than I might care to admit. We CAN be mean – to ourselves, to each other...

Pastors
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Sensible Shoes

Spiritual biographies can be compelling reading. But fictional treatment of the spiritual journeys of four women? What kind of book would that be? And why would I read it? I had heard such good things about Sensible Shoes. And I DO find it helpful to hear others reflect on their deepening walk with Jesus and how that relationship...

Pastors
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Moving Beyond Attracting the Dormant Zombies of Christendom

In the late 90′s I was a pastor reading business books with my missional cohort in our Sacramento mission field. We were attending conferences at Willow Creek and Saddleback trying to figure out how to “create a safe place to hear a dangerous message.” It wasn’t just seeker methodology we were mining. We were exploring cell churches, house churches, multi-site churches, and just about any methodology that ...

Pastors
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Hallowed Be Your Name

I received a comment asking if I could verify “the apparent imperative in the Lord’s Prayer for the statements which are called the first, second, and third requests.” They stated, “It would almost seem possible that these three requests are praises to God as well, i.e., ‘hallowed be Your Name’ or ‘hallowed is Your Name.’” Great question, and I will address it on several different levels...

Pastors
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On KEZs, Urban Church Planting and the CRC

I have to admit that when I first heard that the CRC/RCA’s Church Multiplication Initiative had plans to develop a Kingdom Enterprise Zone in Detroit, I was excited but also very anxious. Excited because I think the Reformed perspective can speak so well to the city’s culture and needs, yet anxious because the very idea of a Kingdom Enterprise Zone seemed a little sketchy ...

Pastors
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I Don't Want to Be One of Those Pastors

I don’t want to be one of those pastors. I don’t want to be one who stays in a church even though it’s not a good fit, who keeps working just to get a paycheck, who refuses to retire even though the congregation is unhealthy and in need of new leadership. But I can see how I might just be tempted. Greeting at the local Wal-Mart just won’t pay the bills... 

Pastors
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Three Bits of Advice for New Pastors

When I met soon-to-be-retired Pastor Neil in the first community that I served as pastor, I saw a golden opportunity. “Pastor Neil, would you be willing to give me an hour of your time before you retire and give me some advice?” Perhaps he saw a golden opportunity, too, for he gladly agreed. The following headings highlight the three bits of advice that I received from Pastor Neil that day...

Pastors
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Bucket List Prayers

Been there, done that. In a world where we often have a particular life experience and then scratch it off our bucket list, it is always powerful to discover things you would do again and again. Things so wonderful that you would keep repeating them. Last year’s Prayer Summit was like that for me. It was a rich time...

Pastors
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"How Far is Too Far?"

“How far is too far?” I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. It’s normally a question we ask while attempting to navigate the sexual desires and angst of relationships before (and regrettably, sometimes outside of) marriage. That question has been in my heart and mind lately, only in a very different context...

Pastors
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The Old Rugged Cross

There is, in a church we've been attending, a fairly significant chunk of history in the pew, two versions of the denomination's Psalter Hymnal. Still, yesterday, when we sang "The Old Rugged Cross," a hymn that must rank among the most popular of the 20th century, the pastor had to import it into the bulletin because neither Psalter had it. Weird, I thought. I wonder why not?

PastorsWorship
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Fractured Flocks - A Good Reason to Consider Another Option

Fifty years or so ago, CRCNA congregations, much like McDonalds franchises, shared countless similarities. They shared a similar culture, similar liturgies, identical creeds, confessions and hymn books, and almost identical menus of ministry. As a result, you could attend almost any Christian Reformed congregation in North America and find it similar to your home church...

Pastors
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Creating a Culture of Generosity

When the subject of money is brought up in the local church people get antsy. Money and giving have become bad words inside and outside the church. What got me thinking about this subject was a post by Tim Challies called “How Much Money Am I Supposed to Give Away?”...

Pastors
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You – and You – and You

We have a problem in the English language when reading the Bible—a problem that most other languages do not have. When we read the word “you” and “your” in a passage, there is no way to tell whether the message is being directed to a single person or to a group of people. Such is not the case with the biblical languages...

Pastors
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Preachers and Churches

The latest Christian Courier’s cover story is remarkable because it documents a phenomenon that’s truly denominational news—the significantly high divorce rate between preachers and congregations in the denomination I’ve always been a part of. "Fractured Flocks: A Leadership Crisis in the CRC" begins with this fact: pastor-church splits have increased over 500% in the CRC in the last ten years...

Pastors
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Humbled by the Pope's Resignation

“With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.” Pope Benedict ended his resignation letter with those powerful words. As a fellow pastor in the holy catholic church, I am humbled by the Pope’s awareness, commitment, and love for the Church...

Pastors

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