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Celiac Facts Every Church Should Know

Communion, after-church cookies, church meals, and even snacks at Bible study can be awkward for me.Why? Because I have celiac disease.Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. If you’re a celiac, eating even tiny amounts (crumbs) of gluten can trigger an autoimmune reaction that damages the small i

On Questions and Criticism

If you’re seeing this column, you’re at least a casual Banner reader, but if you’re new to the magazine, there might be some things you don’t know. Here’s a quick primer:1. If you have a question or criticism, The Banner’s Reply All section is for you. We appreciate readers digging into the implicat

Should My Friends Move for a Job? How Can I Help Them Decide?

Friends of mine are struggling to decide whether they should move for a job. It sounds like a great opportunity for her, but she and her family are happy here. What advice can I give them, and how do I support them?It can feel like the obvious answer is that they should move. Yet life and vocation a

Let All Voices Be Heard

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.Everyone has

Reply All: June 2024

To send letters to the editor, please see our guidelines at thebanner.org/letters.Conservative CompassionLike Monte and Tammie, we have a daughter who identifies as LGBTQ. My wife and I know by experience what it’s like to hold conservative Christian values and grapple with balancing grace and truth

What Is the Difference Between Spiritual Warfare and Culture War?

The language of “spiritual warfare” comes from biblical passages that use martial metaphors to describe the struggle against the forces of evil and death. This is often understood primarily in terms of spiritual powers, as in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but agai

Body and Belonging

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.Growing up in

Reply All: May 2024

To send letters to the editor, please see our guidelines at thebanner.org/letters.Disagreeing WellThe Banner article “They Disagreed Well” (Jan. 2024) on the deliberations of a 2022 synodical committee puzzled me. The executive summary of the related report states, “All Jewish writings from the anci

Would You Share Your Story?

Stories are my favorite. They always have been, ever since the time my sister opened the land of fantasy and fiction by reading stories to me before I could read. She would entice me to keep walking on long hikes by telling fantastical stories of giant lollipops and a fountain of rainbows on the moo

Depression Screening

Our family doctor had decided to do a routine depression screening as part of her examinations. The young receptionist handed me a clipboard with a sheet of questions. “Please answer these honestly,” she said, “and if there are things you'd like to share with the doctor, let her know.”I answered the

4 Ways to Avoid Clobbering Others with Our Prayers

I vaguely remember once sitting around the dinner table as a child after the family meal and my dad asking me to close in prayer. My brother and I were two years apart, and, like brothers, we got into it once in a while. So I prayed, “God, help Jim to be nice to me.” And then Jim interrupted: “God,

When Winter Ends

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.Under an even

How Soon Do We Bring Our Faith Into Conversation?

We recently moved into a neighborhood where not many seem to know about our Reformed faith. How quickly should we bring this into conversations? Or do we leave it out unless asked?When we move into a new neighborhood, we are starting out as strangers, so the first step is to become acquaintances. Be

Does God Always Accept Deathbed Conversions?

Many websites contain lists of people who are said to have converted to Christianity shortly before their deaths. Sometimes these stories are corroborated by relatives and friends. The truth of these stories are sometimes debated because believers and non-believers sometimes use them to advance a re

The Rock Cycle

God is a great recycler. When God said in Genesis, “Let dry ground appear,” God created solid, recyclable material. Do you know what I’m talking about?Rocks! Rocks are being recycled all the time, just really, really slowly.It doesn’t matter where you start the recycling process, so let’s start with

When Someone Needs Help, Should Christians Do More Than Pray?

When someone needs help, is praying for them enough? Or should Christians do more to directly help?Though Christians often struggle with prayer, praying for someone in need can seem much easier than doing something to help them, especially when doing something requires sacrifice. Yet the gospel clea

Jesus’ Selective Reading

I was often puzzled by the sudden turn in the crowd’s mood in Luke 4:16-30. Jesus was in his hometown, Nazareth, and read the scroll of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue. Verse 22 says, “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” But within a few minutes, the mood

3 Strategies to Know When Seeking a New Pastor

I recently served on the pastoral search committee at my church. An initial task for our team was to determine what kind of person the congregation wanted as a pastor. The questions on past congregational surveys surprised me. Our congregation had been asked about their comfort level with different

Flippant Greeting Disorder

Walking down a hallway I met an acquaintance and said, “Hi!” She smiled and said, “Fine, thank you.” I hadn’t asked how she was, and after a millisecond I realized that I had once more encountered “flippant greeting disorder.” It’s not a clinical disorder, but I believe our society needs to be “heal