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Susan -- 

Well done.  Thank you.  I sat with delegates from my Classis next to delegates from a Classis that was on the opposite ideological perspective from many in our Classis.  I observed (and, I think tried myself) kind conversation, mutual respect, and good camaraderie between our two groups, despite being on very different sides of these issues. I witnessed a delegate from another Classis praying with a delegate from mine (again, opposite sides of many issues) over difficult personal situation. So yes, this was a very, very difficult Synod.  But with the eyes to see it, there was also much grace. 

A couple of years ago, I did 30 sermons on the Minor Prophets.  I've preached through the Catechism twice, the Belgic once, and now I'm going in great detail through the Sermon on the Mount.  These were all PM services, where I am able to go in greater depth, and in a bit more detail, just based on the audience.


In the morning, I usually do series as well (I almost never do sermons apart from a series/theme of some sort).  Am series would be things like "HOw does the gospel change me?"  Or, as we are doing now, we're using the misison statement of our church to guide the preaching.


I usually don't let the congregation pick series.  I often will talk with the elders about their perception of the needs of the church.  I'm not rigid on this point, but I think that it's one of my tasks as a shepherd to discern needs of teh church (along with the elders).


Thanks for posting those; that was helpful. I do agree that honorariums are gift offerings, that need not be surrendered to the church, though if that is something a pastor would wish to do, that would certainly be a fine thing to do. Often, weddings or funeral require me to spend extra time away from my wife and kids, so we usally try to spend that extra money on something as a family.

There is another side to that whole money thing though, and that is the way that money can easily taint a ministry. Even subconciously, we can start to think of people in terms of money they have given. For example, it could happen that a couple did/could not give any honorarium, and personally, I know how easy it could be to remember that, and always be seeing that couple as "the ones who were cheap" -- and the opposite is also true; a generous honorarium can easily lead a pastor to think more favorably about a couple. Sad to admit, but last time I checked, pastors have a sinful nature too.

Best, I think, to expect nothing, work on the assumption that nothing will be given, and be grateful for anything beyond that.

That's a valid question, and I think the answer is "yes." The reality is that we are both -- the New Testament makes it clear of course, that we are "saints" -- God's chosen people, Holy & Dearly loved, the bride of Christ, & many other images that illustrate our nature that has been called & cleansed.

The reality is that we are, at least on this side of heaven, also sinners, as the sinful nature still rages within. Romans 7 attests to this (of course, that raises a whole other issue...! -- before, or after conversion?!).

The best way, I think, is to find a balance. When we do our time of confession, I try to find a way to bring out both the fact that we, as a church are "different" from non-believers; we are the people who have been once and for all forgiven by sin, and thus redeemed, but who also continually need to acknowledge our sinfulness.

So, that's not a very helpful answer, but it reflects the tension of the question.

Jeff -- I see you posted a long time ago; nevertheless, this is a trend that continues to develop -- and I agree with you; I think that the idea of discussion-based preaching misunderstands the biblical and historical idea of preaching as "proclamation."  Preaching, of course, always takes place in community.  But it is the community that sets apart some to be preachers, teachers, evangelists, etc.  The preaching ministry goes back, of course, to the Old Testament prophets who, as far as I know, did not show up among the people, and offer to lead a discussion. 


thanks for a thoughtful post.

Well put, as always.  Those in favor of adopting the Belhar can tend to set up a false dichotomy: "We must Adopt the Belhar as a confession or we'll be seen as a denomination opposed to racial reconciliation."  Or, more personally, "If you're opposed to the Belhar as a confession, you're racist."  As you point out, there are flaws with this logic in that the Belhar is written too  ambiguously in certain places.  Also, it should raise red flags when a doccument has to begin with an introduction about what it is NOT saying. 

Steve -- that's an intriguing idea, I think...  and you have a valid point about the COD as a confession that is particular to one issue.  The only problem, I think, with the OWBTG as a confession is that it tends to be a) rather political and b) rather specific in its application.  There are places where it calls for action that may be beyond what scripture can precisely call us to do.  As a confession then, I think it would end up requiring more of a person than it should in that it would require a subscriber to agree to believing/doing things that are beyond what scripture could call us to believe/do.

Posted in: Study Software

Rob Toornstra on March 24, 2010

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I use two programs together. For my language work, I use Bibleworks; the bit attraction here is that I have the text (in just about any language) and while I scroll my cursor over the words, the window below automatically parses & translates the words for me. This also has the ability to do searches (and I usually only use the most basic search functions; it has the capability to do very complex searches). It can also give me a breakdown of the occurences of words in a given text (how many times each word occurs; how many times a word occurs in a given book of the bible, or in all of hte bible, or in all of Paul's writings, etc.)

For study work, I use a very little known program, published by Zondervan, called "Pradis." This has dozens of reference works, commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias and just about everything I need. I can cross-link materials too, so that I can pull up a text, and automatically all the commentaries and bibles and reference materials will automatically turn to hte same text. Handy.

I still do prefer good old fashioned books though. Computers are great, and handy, and timesavers, but I like the old books best.

I have become more and more convinced that one of the biggest causes of the increasing sexual sin within the church is our own failure to teach a proper, scripturally based sexuality. When I counsel couples before marriage, I always ask them what they have learned about sex -- and almost all of them say that their parents handed them a book, and that the church simply told them, "No."

Sex is a radical way that God has designed for us to experience the joy of Eden, even in a post-fall world (coming together to be "naked, and unashamed"); it's a way of enjoying the closeness of a covenental relationship. Most people today, in my expereince (due, no doubt to the pervasive message of culture) understand sex purely in terms of pleasure.

I've started preaching sermons on sex -- and not just on morality/ethics -- but on what it actually "is." Of course, one of the first times I did this, my mother happened to be in town for a visit; God's sense of humor?!

Yes, but not yet to the degree that I would like. In other words, in my sermons, I haven't yet articulated the whole "big picture" theology of sex, the way that I want to. Sometimes, I find that the thigns I want to say are handed out a little bit at a time, in sermons.

However, I do quite a bit of this conversation in Pre-marital counseling; I spend some time with the couple talking about what their backgroudn is, what they've learned about sex, and other things, depending on the couple/situation. Then, I do some time that is more didactic, and instructive -- a teaching session if you will.

What kinds of discussions have you had with 7th graders? I'm curious to know what they know/think on the subject.

Correct me if I'm wrong -- but if matters are being addressed that have already been decided by Synod, can't they be ruled by the body (or president?) not legally before Synod?  In other words, since our Church Order addresses the fact that matters already ajudicated in previous synods cannot be brought up again unless they are proven to be in conflict with the word of God, can't the body determine that things like requiring a majority vote (or whatever else) are deemed out of order, and then not address them?

This quota proposal is a major problem waiting to happen.  I just learned this morning that the BTGMI already is asking Synod to reject this plan, and I am glad for that. 

Quotas or affirmative action, or whatever else you want to call it are not gospel but a form of law -- it's works-based. If we are serious about addressing the problem of a lack of diversity (and I believe that it is a problem that should be addressed) the way to do so is not by arbitrary percentages or regulations.  This only addresses the symptoms, not the root problem.  Change happens as the gospel unfolds in our hearts.  When Peter was struggling with his own racism against the gentile Christians, Paul told him that he had "forgotten the gospel."  Not -- "Peter, you don't have enough minorities working with you." or "Peter, don't be a racist; go and build bridges to the Gentiles."  Paul told him to remember the gospel.  Obviously, by remembering, Paul didn't mean, "go back in history, and remind yourself of these historical facts," but rather, "Peter, take the gosepl to heart again!  Believe what it means!"  Now, how do we facilitate that?  That's a little harder to "do."  It certainly involves preaching.  As our hearts are changed by the good news that Christ has brought together those who were near and those who were far off, "diverstiy" will begin to happen.

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