Comment Stream

Ron DeVries August 10, 2020

You are welcome

Ron DeVries August 10, 2020

You are welcome

Melissa Deelstra August 10, 2020

Wonderful article Ron, thank you!

Staci Devries August 10, 2020

Helpful and thought-provoking. Thanks Ron! 

Staci Devries August 10, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries August 10, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Jonathan Fischer August 9, 2020

Another perspective from IX Marks that emphasizes that it's a judgment call. I found this helpful.

Dominic Palacios August 6, 2020

thank you for your consideration! 

Beverly Vanderwell August 6, 2020

I was feeling discouraged and down. A few things encouraged me.  The first was a conversation with my husband who is reading Leap the Wall by Eugene Peterson.  In the book he talks about David and Goliath, and having a God-perspective versus a Goliath perspective.  My husband shared that all too often we feel limited by our circumstances and situations.  Are we expecting what God can do to be limited as well?  Are we thinking God is limited?  We have the same God who was, is, and is to come.
I also was feeling unsettled and in need of prayer.  I reached out to a woman in my church who is a prayer warrior and a strong woman of faith in Jesus and reader of God's word.  She prayed for me over the phone and has texted me prayers since.
God is so good.  He provided me with what I needed in various forms.  ALL the time, He is good, and I need to remember that and cling to him.

Caroline Kralt August 5, 2020

On behalf of those with MCS - Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, I am hoping that churches will be careful what products they choose for their increased vigilance in disinfecting.  Some people are mistaken in thinking they need to use harsher products like bleach to ward off Covid. The key is in frequency of cleaning, not so much the product. And in the diligence of the congregation to wash their hands and touch as little as possible in the building.
Please, members, if you are going to carry around hand sanitizer, choose one that does not have any added scent, and be careful of all the unapproved ones. 

regards, Caroline

Eric Van Dyken August 5, 2020

Bonnie, with all due respect, if you think that I am referring to biblical calls for justice as partisan, then you are not listening well.  

Kelly Sibthorpe August 5, 2020


Of course, we all have our opinions. You have stated your very succinctly. Thanks!


Bonnie Nicholas August 5, 2020

With all due respect, biblical calls for justice are non-partisan.

Phyllis Roelofs August 5, 2020

Thanks for your attention to this most important concern, even in the CRC denomination.  As was said before, it is not easy to confront, but it is necessary.

Kelly Sibthorpe August 5, 2020


Being Canadian, I don't mix politics too much with faith.

I don't believe the issue is partisanship, rather gender equality in human society as outlined in the broader historical sweep of scripture. Given the historical and current fact of all forms abuse against women by men in power (emotional, physical and spiritual), whether in church, government or business, the issue becomes one of justice for the abused.

The courageous people who work in safe church ministry understand the facts of the elevated levels of abuse against women. They are sworn to confidentiality around the details of each horrific case of abuse of office and power. Most cases go untold as victims sit in silent fear.

They know they are required to deal with abuse from a professional ministry stand-point using safe church protocol and take their work seriously as ministry to the oppressed and down-trodden. They are not here to grind an axe but to bring to the surface the hidden evil that exists in darkened corners of supposedly respectable places.

Complimentarianism, although as a theological, theoretical construct has not properly interpreted the nature of gender roles and equality. Always reforming, the "compliment" to men deserve better than what they have received.

Regarding Trump, (a known abuser of women) I have little to zero respect, politics and powerful office aside.

Eric Van Dyken August 5, 2020

I am not somehow speaking against the work of the safe church ministry, so your explanation of their work misses the point for me.  If you do not see a partisan slant/approach broadly speaking in CRC work, you are entitled to your viewpoint.  Many others see things differently.  Unfortunately, those in power in the CRC tend to lord it over others, resulting in increasing tensions and reduced institutional support.

Eric Van Dyken August 5, 2020

"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

Phyllis Roelofs August 5, 2020

Thanks for the link to the documentary. After watching it, my response is that our families, churches, schools, businesses, social institutions, and governments will benefit from more women who are willing to speak up and out, identify, and implement plans for much needed change.  Of course men will be required to support and assist as they did in AOC's campaign. Working together in a complementary manner is always the best option.  

Laura Posthumus August 5, 2020

A book that is speaking to my heart these past 6 months is 'It's Not Supposed to be This Way' by Lysa TerKurst.  Life is full of disappointments, trials, unexpected tragedies.  God is our hope in these times. He is there holding us in His arms as we walk through unexpected waters. 

Actually engaging in a book study of this book with my 3 sisters - a whole new concept for us 60 something sisters. 

Eric Van Dyken August 5, 2020

Hi Kelly,

To the extent that Ocasio-Cortez has previously defended and supported her close friend in her calling President Trump a motherfu*#er, we really don't have to use our imaginations too much.  The reaction was predictable.  Supporters of the two ladies defended them, while those of differing perspective spoke against them and the "rudely maligning" language that was used.  Perhaps they feel that President Trump is not worthy of honor and respect, and I suppose to great extent I agree with them if we think of things on a merely secular, personal level.  But if we move beyond the personal, we realize there is an office that deserves respect (which Ocasio-Cortez herself stressed in noting that she is a Congresswoman).  And if we move past the secular, we realize that for Christians, such rude maligning is never acceptable.  I suspect that Bonnie would have gotten less of a negative reaction if she would have chosen an example who was more consistent in her calls for civility and respect.  Whether Bonnie wants to recognize the pattern or not, there is a partisan (not political) slant that comes from her and much of the rest of the CRC bureaucracy that inevitably gets push-back.  It would be nice to see the various employees listen instead of doubling down on regular partisanship.  

And for what it's worth, your comment implies that complementarians are simply an "old boy's club" filled with men who "fear the loss of power".  Many will perceive such a characterization as a rude maligning, including my wife and mother, who I happen to believe are deserving of respect and honor.

Phyllis Roelofs August 5, 2020

Thanks Kelly, so important to have it said again. 

Caroline Kralt August 5, 2020

Good day William.  I became widowed three years ago at the young age of 50. The struggle is REAL; the lack of resources is REAL. After creating a lengthy checklist for myself, I have wondered if I could help others navigate this path a little more smoothly, and have continued to compile information, and read books on grief.  The one I would highly suggest is "From One Widow to Another" by Miriam Neff. She includes a section on how churches can help widows. She also has a website "" with beneficial resources.  To me, the only thing worse than being a widow, is to be a widow in a 3rd world country where they are stripped of all their rights and left destitute. I admire Miriam for trying to make a difference for these widows through the proceeds of her books. 

Miriam makes some astute observations that though there are 103 references in the Bible to show that widows are close to God's heart, they are often overlooked in churches and communities. Her stats are regarding widows, but would resonate regarding widowers as well: "Approximately 50 percent leave the church they attended as a couple." "We lose 75 percent of our friendship network when we become one. Sixty percent of us experience serious health issues in that first year." "Most experience financial decline". 
I am also familiar with the Stephen's Ministry books, and find the set a beautiful gift. I recommend that every church use it as a resource for their grieving members. The books are however, meant as an emotional support, not a resource to navigate the multitude of details. 
How amazing it would be for the church to be at the forefront of support in the midst of devastating loss.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Caroline Kralt, (Ontario)

posted in : Checklist for Widows?
John Moes August 5, 2020

And the first unseen but eternal thing Paul mentions, Carol, is his eternal house that is in heaven, made by God of heavenly stuff (I Cor, 15:47-50) which in the eternal "now" Paul has already put on. That's "far better" than "flesh and blood."

Bonnie Nicholas August 5, 2020

Thanks for the tip. The trailer definitely makes me want to watch this documentary.

Kelly Sibthorpe August 5, 2020

I'm an ordained, white male in his early 60's, married to a respected, ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament with a great track record in CRC parish ministry. I have come full circle from complimentarian to egalitarian in my view of women in authoritative office. Their right to authority within multiple powerful systems structures, whether church, government or family, continues to be thwarted, undermined and in the case of Yoho's brutal comments to a powerful woman, rudely maligned. 

The old boy's club continues to be alive and well in government, church and family. Lord have mercy on us. Jesus plainly raised, in the case of his earthly ministerial context, brown-skinned  young women from his mother to Mary Magdalene to egalitarian status with all during his ministry on many different occasions, so many women in fact, that all the stories could not be told, just the most obvious, plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face, striking ones. Why do older white men fear the loss of power to such intelligent, thoughtful and gifted people?

Put the shoe on the other foot and have Ocasio-Cortez call Yoho a:  $*^%^&$ bastard and then imagine what would have happened...Joe Biden is about to call to his side a powerful woman to her role as potential vice-president and possibly one day, president of the United States. May she be given all the dignity, respect and honour she so rightly deserves.

Carol Vander Ark Champion August 5, 2020

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen."

Mark Wiersma August 5, 2020

Today, Aug. 5, Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, opened (online, in accord with government standards) with the motto & song "All Things New." Back in April, the staff had just begun online programing simply to finish that year well. That's also when their Rev. 21:8 theme was chosen for 2020-21. It seemed good. More recent experiences and preparations have made it plain: This school year will most certainly be a very New Thing, assured by our Lord on the throne.

Bonnie Nicholas August 4, 2020

Just a quick note, I said the words, "I can't complete this reflection without saying something about white male power in our culture, and all that goes along with it ..." because that is a necessary part of the story. It provides the context and must be considered. As a social worker, systems theory is part of my vocabulary. Problems exist on more than one level, individual, family, community institution - to address a problem, we must often look beyond the individual interaction to the broader context.


Doug DeHaan August 4, 2020

In tough times- with uncertainty looming, turmoil in the USA and around the world- we often overlook the goodness of God. The song 'Goodness of God' by Bethel Music is a reminder that he is the source of goodness in our lives and in him all things work together for good. He truly is a Good Good Father. 

Kristen Rietkerk August 4, 2020

I love the vulnerability this post highlights.  As a church leader, I want to have the answers. And yet, humility invites an environment of inquiry, creativity and wondering. The questions you include here are very good especially looking within our own congregation to see where we might bridge efforts in ministry so that we can gain some muscle memory for collaboration into our communities. 

Bill Vis August 4, 2020

Eric, it is certainly not my intent to impugn the Christian character of any of the authors. But I remain very concerned by the apparent embrace of Critical Theory by many of the CRC's leaders. Critical Theory is rooted in the search for power and views all all human relationships through the lens of power. It creates a framework in which people are either oppressors or victims.

The paragraph I objected to adds nothing constructive to Bonnie's essay other than to introduce that formula. White men have power and are oppressors. Therefore women are victims. It divides us into the categories of oppressors and victims. I accept that wasn't Bonnie's intention. Unfortunately, the heart of Critical Theory is to deliberately create such division. 

Without that paragraph I would have had nothing but praise for this article. What Rep. Yoho said was reprehensible and worthy of censure.



Eric Kas August 4, 2020

Hi Bill, you seem to imply that Bonnie, and others, are using Critical Theory, instead of their Christian lens, through following Jesus, and believing biblical justice as the grounds for sharing their words. It is fine to feel chippy and not be a fan of Critical Theory, but there are concepts here regarding systems, power, and injustices that are actually experienced by people. To simply say seeing those injustices rely upon Critical Theory foundation - and not real experiences of people, which are made in the image of God, and which the justice and grace of Jesus is applicable may be causing you to miss the point of Bonnie's piece here, in my opinion. 
AOC may be a critical theorist (I don't know...), and not have "biblical justifications" yet, her experiences are completely in the realm of the need for justice - and not just her, but for many women who have experienced similar levels of harassment, or that of being accosted.
And... I'm not a fan of online debates, but did feel the need to address this. 

Wayne Jones August 4, 2020

As for some background, some readers may be interested in watching the Netflix movie about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s rise to power - find out more about what motivates this woman. The movie is "Knock Down the House" and there is a trailer on Youtube:   Enjoy!

Worship Ministries August 4, 2020

Check out Reformed Worship issue #123 which includes "Saying Goodbye to a Pastor: A Litany of Farewell" by Joy Koning of 3rd CRC in Kalamazoo, MI.


From Reformed Worship #80 "When Pastors Come...and Go: Litanies for Services of Installation and Parting" by Mary S. Hulst and Gerald Kramer


Bill Vis August 4, 2020

Nothing I said suggests that I would ever approve of such words, regardless of their target, and it's a bit insulting to suggest that I might.

Maybe I'm feeling a little chippy today, but this was the third article I read today from denominational personnel using the concepts of Critical Race Theory as if that theory has validity. It's foundations are profoundly at odds with Christianity

MJill H August 4, 2020

How sad that you assume from this article that Bonnie would reject you and call you uncivil, disrespectful and abusive. She is not saying that all white men are like this -just that it is a normalized issue among white men. If you are not these things then please don't assume she meant you.
You say that  you pass on offering any thoughts but you didn't.
You made it clear that you question Bonnie's choice of using  Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to make her point about how many men treat women. 
No matter what Rep. Cortez has or has not said prior to this speech, it is still entirely inappropriate that Rep. Ted Yoho spoke these words to her and about her.
I was wondering if you think that if sometimes it would be okay for someone to use words like Rep. Yoho used depending on how much one approves or disapproves of the women they are spoken to or about?

Bonnie Nicholas August 4, 2020

Hi Bill,

You are absolutely right to point out the lack of clarity of my expression. Thanks for pointing it out. I have since changed my comment. My intent was not to imply that every white male always speaks with incivility and uses disrespectful language, not at all. I respect white men and want to hear from them in this forum. And disrespectful language is not the sole domain of white men. We all must guard our language. I apologize that my comment may have hindered any white men from responding. The new statement reads, "I can't complete this reflection without saying something about white male power in our culture, and all that goes along with it, including at times the acceptance of incivility and the disrespectful, abusive language used by some, which is represented here." I invite you to imagine a woman, or a person of color or other marginalized person using the same words. How does that affect our response to it? Hope that's helpful. Thank you.


Mavis Moon August 4, 2020

"Be Not Afraid" by Nadia Bolz-WeberA Mini-Sermon on Fear, Love, and Kent Brockman

"Well, today I started to think that maybe it’s not safety that keeps us from being afraid. Maybe it’s love."

Love that. God does not keep us safe. He loves us like a mother hen. Like Aslan - is he safe? No, but he is good. He is love! And the song by Anne Murray, "...on the other side of fear is love."

I like imagining Jesus saying, "Go and tell that fox..." :D

So true that hearing "Be not afraid" does not actually make me not afraid. I had never thought before of the perspective Nadia writes about with the story of God as a mother hen:

But neither can I tell you that the Mother Hen thing means that God will protect you from Herod or that God is going to keep bad things from happening to you.
Because honestly, nothing actually keeps danger from being dangerous.
A mother hen cannot actually keep a determined fox from killing her chicks. 


But Faith in God does not bring you safety.  

The fox still exists.  

Danger still exists.  

And by that I mean, danger is not optional, but fear is. 

Because maybe the opposite of fear isn't bravery. Maybe the opposite of fear is love. Paul tells us that perfect love casts out fear. So in the response to our own Herods, in response to the very real dangers of this world we have an invitation as people of faith: which is to respond by loving.

John Moes August 4, 2020

Here is a new song written by my daughter, Pat:



As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings, So the LORD alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him. "He made him ride in the heights of the earth, That he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock; Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock.... Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. (Deuteronomy 32:11-15)

... My people have forgotten Me, They have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, From the ancient paths, To walk in pathways and not on a highway, (Jeremiah 18:15)

"For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns--broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

"Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD. Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.... (Jeremiah 6:13-16)

"Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: (Deuteronomy 32:7)

O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not

present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. (Daniel 9:18)

SONG FOR TODAY: Prayer For America

Lord, we pray with hearts of mourning for the land we call our home.                                                                     You have seen our wayward doings, for we live before Your throne.
We have strayed far as a people from the ways which You have shown.                                                                    We have squandered many freedoms which our fathers long have known.

We Your people have forsaken God the maker of us all.
We’ve despised our Rock, our Savior, caused ourselves to stumble, fall.                                                                   We forsook the Living Fountain, drinking from a broken well,                                                                             Turned aside to broken pathways where no peace can ever dwell.

May we do as You have bid us: stand and see where we have come,                                                                        Asking for the former pathway, walking as we had begun.
May our liberty and freedom e’er be guided by Your hand,
So we’ll stand once more united as a people in this land.

O return our hearts and minds, Lord, to the paths which You have given.                                                                          Make us walk in truth and justice, do Your will as done in heav’n.                                                                         Hear our prayer, O God of mercy, hear our prayer, and heal our land.                                                                     Then we’ll find a peaceful resting ‘neath Your wing and guiding hand.

TEXT: Patricia Dys
MUSIC: Nettleton Traditional American melody (Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing) 

Bill Vis August 4, 2020

I was considering writing a note about why AOC might not have been the best person to use to make your point. But then I read:

"I can't complete this reflection without saying something about white male power in our culture, and all that goes along with it, including incivility and the disrespectful, abusive language represented here. It is so common, a normalized part of the earned privilege of white men."

Sounds like any comment I might make would be rejected because of my color and gender. Because I'm a white male I am presumed to be uncivil and disrespectful and abusive.

So I'll pass on offering any thoughts


Janice Heerspink August 4, 2020

Bonnie, thank you for this. I didn't see your post nor the comments, but I did see this topic in other places. On Facebook I saw several people who said she should not have commented about this interaction in public. Well, we know that that's one of the ways some men wish to keep evil from being exposed -- they tell women not to talk about it. AOC was right to say what happened. And you were right to write about it.

Lisa Lankheet August 4, 2020

Hi Rob,

I can connect with you regarding the Go Guide and can send you a copy. Please send me an email at

Bonnie Nicholas August 1, 2020

Thank you Karl, you're right that justice work is not easy, we all need the encouragement to not grow weary.

Bonnie Nicholas August 1, 2020

Thank you for your thoughtful comments, how "hidden" this is as part of our culture makes it difficult to confront.

Karl Westerhof August 1, 2020

Thanks Bonnie. Nothing easy about standing up for justice in the church, is there?  And God forbid that we should try to have Christlike conversations about difficult issues. I'm stunned, frankly, that such a fire storm was ignited that your post had to be taken down. Stunned and sad. I SO want to believe we can be better than this. I pray for you and your team and for the CRC. Don't be weary in well doing, sister!

Michele Gyselinck July 31, 2020

 Belated congratulations Terry.

Todd Zuidema July 31, 2020


I had the privilege of participating in this program recently. I highly recommend this experience. Karl is an excellent teacher-facilitator and the video conferencing with your cohort is effective and meaningful. You will also have the opportunity to have in-person meetings with everyone to add to and enhance your learning. Feel free to message me if you have other questions.

Once again, this is well worth your time. As with all CPE experiences, what you learn about yourself will help you learn to pastor and counsel more effectively. It will benefit your ministry, your church, as well as yourself.

Evelyn Oudyk July 31, 2020

Thank you, Rachael, for the ideas.  We'll be discussing ideas early next week and I'll be sure to mention these.  I appreciate the help!


Evelyn Oudyk July 31, 2020

Thank you for that idea.  We just did a video for our youth director, who left this week.  We need to come up with three unique ideas, as three of our staff are moving away this summer :(

Rachael Klein July 31, 2020

You could encourage the congregation to send cards or notes if you have a lot of non-techy members. Depending on your area's guidelines, you may be able to have a drive-through or drive-by celebration of some kind.