Divide and Conquer? When the culture sets the agenda for the Church

What concerns the culture should concern the church, to a point. Yet judging by the agendas of some Reformed denominations’synods and general assemblies, the popular culture continues to have a dominating influence on what is being discussed, studied and argued over, and it will likely, and perhaps inevitably, divide churches along certain fault lines.

Homosexuality and gender issues are currently the two main matters gaining the attention of denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America, the Christian Reformed Churches and the Reformed Churches in America.

In the case of the PCA, concerns are over a conference called Revoice. Revoice, according to its web site, is about “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and
sexuality.” Athough not officially connected to the PCA, the first Revoice conference was held in a PCA church, and involv…

The Fragility of Freedom in Our Day

I just finished reading a book (for the second time) by Madeleine Thien called Do Not Say We Have Nothing. It’s a novel about China as seen through the eyes of a Chinese immigrant, a young girl growing up in Canada during Chairman Mao’s brutal and deadly communist regime, a time when literally millions of Chinese people were killed, relocated, re-educated, humiliated – all in the name of social engineering with the goal of establishing a great, utopian society. It didn’t work then 30-40 years ago, and it isn’t working now.

Thien’s well written novel focuses on a community of highly talented and motivated musicans in China – an elite group – who were reduced either to working in factories, building radios, were tortured and killed at the hands of the Red Guard or exiled far from family and colleagues. Their talents were no longer appreciated; in fact, they were considered a threat.

China has done its best to suppress the knowledge of what took place in its recent history from its own pe…

Where have all the fathers gone?

For many, many years, from the 1970s and onwards, Dads were much maligned and made fun of by the Hollywood script writers, who loved to make sitcom fathers the opposite of “Father Knows Best,” and more like “Fathers Know Least.” Sadly, men began to embrace the role assigned them of chief buffoon and irresponsible parent, and the burden of the family shifted from fathers to mothers in terms of leadership responsibility and direction setting.

Meanwhile, fathers retreated to their “man caves” like the neanderthals that they had become, absenting themselves from family responsibilities to sit downstairs with their friends drinking beer, burping, scratching and watching sports.

For the last number of years we’ve seen a decline in family living, for a number of reasons, with materialism and individualism as two culprits along with the internet, cell phones, netflix and other devices that rob families of shared information and controlled family entertainment. Eating around the supper table …

When women get together, and when men seek office

Every year in both Michigan and Ontario, conferences are organized to gather women in the Reformed churches to focus together for a time on a common theme, a theme that will inspire, education, inform and motivate those who attend to better service in the Kingdom of God as representatives of Jesus Christ in this world.

While there are many conferences one could attend from Ligonier’s to the Gospel Coalition, to the Alliance of Reformed Evangelicals to conferences on Creation, etc. We are blessed to have so many opportunities to better ourselves. But the two conferences we cover in this issue are dedicated to women.

And it’s good to see the turnout, although of course there is always room for more willing learners. It’s not only a time to learn, but it’s also a time to renew friendships,to get acquainted with others in our Reformed community who could stand some encouragement and camaraderie. The conferences are generally one day, sometimes from a Friday evening to Saturday. Those who g…

Lessons from Gethsemane

Although there were now only 11 of them left with Judas’s exit to the other side, only three disciples were chosen to spend the last hours with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest on bogus charges. They were Peter, James and John.What an opportunity for them given the circumstances. So what did the three disciples do? Provide comfort for the Son of Man’s agonizing distress? Offer companionship and encouragement in this dark hour in world history? Pray with and for Jesus and for themselves to the Father? Observe Jesus in his hour of trial and learn from him?

This is what Jesus asked of them: “Remain here and watch with me.” An hour later he instructed, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Instead, they slept. Luke’s account, perhaps somewhat sympathetically, says that the disciples “were sleeping for sorrow.”

Overcome by fatigue they could not do what Jesus asked of them, because of their weakness, and because he would need to bear this cross alone…

Truth & Worship; Socialism’s Rise; Angry Abortionists; the Right Words

Something happens each Sunday in worship that is incredibly beautiful and truly amazing. And sadly so often we miss it, and fail to see it. It is called transcendence. 

God comes down from heaven to meet with his people, and his people ascend to meet with Him. Heaven and earth are joined together for a time in an act of holy, solemn, joyful communion.God with us; His people with Him.

Yet so often we do not even realize what is happening, because we are not ready for it. Our minds and our hearts are not truly at rest. When we go to meet with the LORD in worship, our thoughts are often filled with cares, concerns, troubles, events, and plans for the future. We carry the burden of conflicts unresolved or ambitions unmet – the list is long.

An antidote for us is provided in Revelation 4, when John is ushered into the throne room of heaven, and he hears the words of the four living creatures who day and night never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is an…

Race & Relations; Christianity & University; Art & Beauty

Why would a Canadian attend a conference on race relations? Don’t we have that issue figured out in this country and in our churches? 

Well, actually, no. Love of neighbor does not come naturally to us, either. It’s just that we don’t share the history that Americans do of slavery, the civil rights movement, segregation, race riots and all those other serious matters that scar a country whose motto,“conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are equal,” fell short of being fulfilled.

 We have our own sins up here in the frozen north. So any smugness or air of superiority needs to be put away, and fast.

 We all share the same malady. Our father was Adam, our mother was Eve, and sin lives on in each one of us, black, white, Asian, African, European, North American, South American, Australian, etc. So any conference that attempts to set things right, or at least to work on it, is worth attention and attending, if it can educate, inform and inspire us to living more…