The Banner

Misreading Scripture Cross-culturally

I vividly remember the time in my youth that I was in a Bible study with my pastor and we were looking at Luke 14:25-35. I got stuck on Jesus’ words in verse 26: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person

How Does Belonging Work?

Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series about what enduring values have helped hold us together in the Christian Reformed Church, and what might continue to hold us together going forward. In 2021 I wrote a series of articles for The Banner on controversies in the Christian Reformed

Leaving Everything to Follow Jesus

Brady is missing teeth from doing crystal meth. He has scars up his arms from street fights and from cutting himself. He started doing drugs at 14. By his early 20s he was living in a flophouse, selling drugs, and stealing stuff in the neighborhood—bikes, tools, and electronics. It was all to gain m

The Evolving Face of the CRCNA

Because of an intense interest in the Reformed tradition in recent years, the Christian Reformed Church in America has become substantially more diverse. While elements of diversity have been there all along, there is great cause for celebration as people from Korea, Central and South America, Afric

Feeding Sheep

Sheep-feeding is not a glamorous job. It takes the kind of people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work of keeping sheep alive—leading them to good grazing areas, warding off predators, shearing them, and tending to their wounds.When the Good Shepherd walked the earth, surel

The Tent City of God

During the pandemic, an Indigenous prayer camp developed into a tent city named Pekiwewin. I passed by the prayer camp often on my way to my work at a local inner-city agency. Some of my friends lived there. One day I biked up to the camp, and the first person I saw was someone I knew from my time a

Becoming a Listener

Throughout the Scriptures we hear that listening is how we approach our relationship with God (1 Sam. 3:9) as well as how we cultivate healthy communities with one another (James 1:19). It’s how we pursue lives of discipleship (Mark 9:7) and grow in maturity (Prov. 19:20). In fact, the most importan

The Culture War-ification of the CRC

In the days after Synod 2022, as I and many others were processing what had just happened, I wrote to a few friends:“We just witnessed the broader culture war play out in the Christian Reformed Church. This is Trudeau vs. truckers. Trump vs. Biden. Vaxxers vs. anti-vaxxers. Republican vs. Democrat.

Building Bridges

Laura Pritchard’s missionary journey started in 2005 when she was standing on a street corner in Liberia, West Africa.It was nearly 200 years after 15,000 free-born Black people, facing social and legal oppression in the U.S., were “repatriated” and relocated to the land of fufu (a favorite food of

Jesus Came to Bring Joy

Note: This article is adapted from Denk’s book An Invitation to Joy: The Divine Journey to Human Flourishing, published in April 2023.My journey with joy began when my oldest daughter was visiting—my Reformed charismatic daughter, my missionary midwife daughter who delivers babies for fun. She is on

As He Hung Dying

Editor's note: While based on the biblical story of the two men who died on crosses beside Jesus, this is an imaginative retelling of what one of those men might have been thinking.“God our Savior … wants all people to be saved.” —1 Timothy 2:4He slowly lifted his head at the sound of a distant shou

Chasing Wisdom

Author and art collector Forrest Fenn carefully filled a small, ornate box with old coins, gold nuggets, jewelry, precious gemstones, and other exotic artifacts. Then he hid the box in the Rocky Mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe, N.M., and waited for someone to find it.When asked why he hid a tr

Reconsidering How the Church Communicates Love

One clear outcome of the pandemic is that many have entrenched themselves firmly in their beliefs, often in opposition to the beliefs firmly held to by others. This does not bode well for our society, because people who are entrenched don’t listen well and are more likely to see others and their bel

8 Signs of a Healthy Intergenerational Church

Many of us grew up in multigenerational churches. Churches not only had children, teens, parents, and grandparents sitting in the same sanctuary, but had programming for each of them: church school for kids, youth group for teens, and Bible studies for adults. This model for church was adapted from

Understanding and Overcoming Today's Epidemic of Artificial Sex

“Sensuality is easily the biggest obstacle to godliness among men today, and it is wreaking havoc in the church.” Written in 2006 in the book The Disciplines of a Godly Man, Kent Hughes’ words turned out to be both accurate and prophetic. He wrote them before the widespread availability of smartphon

Meaning in the Margins

In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus articulated a radical theory: Earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around. His idea wasn’t new, but breakthroughs in mathematics allowed him to prove without a doubt that Earth was not the center of the universe. In 1924, Edwin Hubble peered into the darknes

Just Do It!

A 16-year-old high school student was told by his cancer specialist, “Isa, we’ve run out of chemo options; there is little we can do.” At school the student approached a fellow 10th-grader. “I have cancer, and the doctor told me I am going to die,” he said. “I don’t want to die. I want to be baptize

Abortion: Seeing the Trees for the Forest

I can be a sucker for YouTube videos that document people experiencing a new perspective for the first time: a color-blind groom whose new spouse offers them special glasses to expand his vision of the beauty of the world on their wedding day, or infants whose cochlear implants makes them able to he

Christmas Trees, Hallelujahs, and Finding Joy in a Broken World

As I walked through the few remaining rows of Christmas trees, I attempted to sort out my feelings. When I was growing up, there were hundreds of acres of trees. These few were all that remained. I should feel something, I told myself. While a little part of me wanted to cry, the emotion that bubble

Conflict: A Bridge to Love

“How could she?”The email from my friend “Miriam” splintered my peace in an instant. Seemingly out of the blue, she confronted me about a Facebook post. It’s understating things to say I was deeply upset and unnerved.Miriam and I met years ago through a mutual friend; she was one of my first friends