A Response to Howard Schaap . . . And a Response to the Response

January 17, 2022
A response to Howard Schaap, by Tony Jelsma. And a response to Tony Jelsma, by Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell.

The Holy Bits

Like many pastors I spent too much of my time being a program director for children, youth, college students, singles, families, older adults, recovering divorced people, and all the other niche groups in the life of any church. That’s a fine thing to do, or it can be, but I wish I had spent less of my time being that person. I wish I had spent less of my time as a manager and a therapist and a community activist.…
January 3, 2022

The Pearl Principle

God is compassion. God is mercy. I see God, like Pearl, in a garden. With her hands, she clears away thorn and weed. She sends rain and summons life from the soil. Light warms and synthesizes unseen elements into nutrient. She offers food, and generous souls share it, because,
December 27, 2021

Reformed and Always…Deconstructing?

But in reformed worldview conversations, that adjective “reformed” means we’re committed to something more. We’re committed to complexity, committed to deconstruction, and to reforming again beyond that deconstruction, committed to listening to opposing voices to not only hear what they have to say but to take to heart their critiques, to even call them prophetic when they are. It means we can admit when we’re wrong and that we’re not even afraid of ideas that seem to challenge scripture. It…
December 20, 2021

Christmas Abroad and Being “Home” for the Holidays

We’ve stumbled through the formation of our Christmas traditions both in India and in Michigan. We’ve bumbled it in both places at different times, but we’ve also shared good traditions in both places. My son insists on burning incense when we light our Advent candles in Michigan. And one of my proudest adult moments was when JP’s grandfather asked for seconds of the Cherry Walnut Christmas Coffeecake that I painstakingly baked in India. What it all comes down to is…
December 13, 2021

I Don’t Know . . . But I Live in Hope: A Conversation with Poet, Undertaker, Essayist Thomas Lynch

I don't know if it's Mother Nature or Father God in charge. I just know it's not me. Tom is not in charge. Anytime I've tried to be in charge, I'm quickly reminded of how much I'm in error. I do believe in a power greater than myself. I don’t know if that power is the creator of the universe. I haven't a clue. But I live in hope.
December 6, 2021

Separation Anxiety: Reflecting on the 2021 RCA General Synod

More than a month has passed since General Synod. Time has allowed me to sort through my emotions and become what I believe is more objective about the RCA and its future. In a way, I wish I could have been at the point that I am now prior to General Synod. I see glimmers of hope for the RCA and I acknowledge that God is doing a new thing through the chaos in which we find ourselves. Yet I…
November 29, 2021

Breath Mark of Snow Days – The Holy Rhythm of Free Time

Snow days are like breath marks scattered throughout the otherwise hectic and frantic pace of life, letting us know it is OK (and necessary!) to breathe. In an ideal world, we would not need to fight against snow days or find a way to get our work done in the midst of them. We could receive snow days as gifts that help us reset, start anew, and clear off an evening or even a whole day to spend in ways…

Latest from the Blog

Daily blog by our regular bloggers & guest contributors.

  • Agent of Change: Profiles of Reformed Women in Ministry
    Pastor Denise was born in Harlem, New York to an 18-year-old single mother who died of a drug overdose when Denise was just an infant.
    January 16, 2022 Dana VanderLugt
  • Climate Change, Resilience, and Battling Indifference
    Two of the best novels I read in 2021 were Bewilderment by Richard Powers and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
    January 15, 2022 Allison Vander Broek
  • A Movie for this Moment
    It's not your standard disaster movie. There are no traditional heroes here. The film is irreverent, funny, and heartbreaking.
    January 14, 2022 Karen Bohm Barker
  • A Reluctant Love Song to Winter
    My response to the question took me by surprise. Pre-Covid Beth hated winter, and especially snow.
    January 13, 2022 Beth Carroll
  • Ambiguous Loss
    A loved one of mine posted some misinformation on Facebook this week. She does that a lot. She is against...
    January 12, 2022 Kate Kooyman
  • Webs of Falsehood
    Davey Alba is a technology reporter with the New York Times and a big part of her job is covering...
    January 11, 2022 Scott Hoezee
  • A Study in Limits
    Visions of imperfect music recitals kept me awake at night by age six, and by age eight, an A minus was the greatest evil.
    January 10, 2022 Joya Schreurs
  • To Know No Different: Profiles of Reformed Women in Ministry
    I don’t want to do ministry as a woman; I just want to do ministry.
    January 9, 2022 Dana VanderLugt


January 11, 2022

The Path of Integration

The Holy Spirit comes in while you are quiet. There is nothing voice yet many questions while our tongues are still.
January 11, 2022

Hummingbird, Redux

When I left the southern coast, I bid farewell to hummingbird, never thought I'd see a calliope, rufous, or ruby-throated again ...
January 4, 2022

On Sundays When Football Isn’t On

On Sundays when football isn't on our family naps through high noon westerns after church.
January 4, 2022

An Inmate Reads the King James Psalms: Psalm 8

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, and the hum and the buzz and the blue flicker of the fluorescent tubes that twitch and wink for decades like highway stripes ...
December 28, 2021

O Oriens

O Oriens: Light that breaks, that cracks the void; match for God to phosphoresce with gust of words.
December 21, 2021


The shoot will come up from the dry ground ...

Latest Podcasts

December 16, 2021

Jim Schaap

In this episode, Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell chats with Jim Schaap, writer and retired Dordt University professor of English. Jim has authored novels, devotionals, and a history of the Christian Reformed Church, and continues to write for his daily blog, as well as hosts the podcast Small Wonders on NPR. In this conversation Steve and Jim discuss the roots of Jim's creative energy, his mission-oriented approach, and his fascination with the Great Plains, the Ghost Dance, and Native American rights, the subjects…
October 21, 2021

Jeff Crosby

In this episode, Jeff Munroe, editor at the Reformed Journal, talks with Jeff Crosby, President and CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association. Jeff C has been involved in the Christian publishing industry for nearly four decades, including 5 years as Publisher for InterVarsity Press (IVP). Listen to this week's conversation to hear about how Jeff C found himself in the Christian book business, Jeff's time at IVP, and the future of Christian publishing, as well as get great book…
September 23, 2021

Neal Plantinga

In this episode, Deborah Van Duinen talks with Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga, senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian worship at Calvin University. Neal has written several books, including Not the Way It's Supposed to Be (Eerdmans, 1995), Christianity Today's 1996 "Book of the Year," and Engaging God's World (Eerdmans, 2002), the 2003 "Book of the Year." Deb and Neal discuss his newest book, Morning and Evening Prayers, why more Christians should use published prayers, how Reformed theology informed…
September 9, 2021

Gayle Boss

In this episode, Deborah Van Duinen, book review editor at the Reformed Journal, talks with Gayle Boss, author of All Creation Waits (2016) and Wild Hope (2020). Gayle shares the stories behind the Advent and Lent devotionals rooted in her deep love for God's creatures, as well as how we can become better caretakers of Creation. More information on Gayle's work can be found at
August 29, 2021

Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor

In this episode, Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell talks with Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor of The Leader's Journey, an organization that helps leaders and organizations grow their emotional intelligence so that they can be the healthiest, most effective versions of themselves. In this conversation, they discuss their Enneagram numbers, the evolving challenges facing the RCA and other Christian denominations in North America, and The Leader's Journey's work with pastors, congregations, and denominations.
August 26, 2021

Makoto Fujimura

In this episode, Jennifer Holberg talks with Makoto Fujimura, a leading contemporary artist whose process driven, refractive “slow art” has been described by David Brooks of New York Times as “a small rebellion against the quickening of time”. He was a Presidential Nominee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003 to 2009, and served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision-makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. In this episode, they discuss Fujimura's book,…
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Evangelical Climate Scientist Wonders What Went Wrong

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Uncivil Religion: an amazing examination of January 6

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Watch Night, Emancipation & New Years Eve

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Apocryphal Tales of the Magi

Matthew's account of Jesus' birth has been embroidered upon in all sorts of interesting and compelling ways.

Visions of Jesus

Robert Hudson's new book "Seeing Jesus: Visionary Encounters from the First Century to the Present" is both devotional and skeptical, says the New Yorker

Jeff Chu with Krista Tippett and On Point, “A Life of Holy Curiosity”

Jeff Chu interviewed On Point, especially as the final Rachel Held Evans book, Wholehearted Faith" is out -- a book which Chu completed.

Beth Moore, now Anglican, serves communion in her new church

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It’s A Wonderful Life: is it a “Christian” movie?

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Mary: Meeting God in the Midst of Our Questions

Carol Bechtel blogs on this woman in waiting.