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Lost in the Lone Star State
As a long-time resident of Texas, I read with interest the story “Churches Growing in South Texas.” Ironically, The Banner seems to have scant understanding of the Lone Star state. To natives, El Paso is far west, Austin is in the central region, and Spring is east, just north of Houston. None of these places is considered to be in the southern part of the state.

I’m confident most Texans will be forgiving since many of them would likewise fail to identify places within the state of Michigan.

—Frank Calsbeek
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Old Testament God
I find the article stimulating (“The Scandal of the Old Testament God”) but the title disrespectful. We don’t slander people to catch attention—why do it to God?

Reformers honor the Old and New Testaments as the revelation of the one true God through inspired writers. Although God’s self-revelation was a work in progress, there were no contradictions between earlier and later revelation. Perceived discrepancies between God’s self-revelation in the Old and New Testament may result from ignorance or skepticism.

—Jacob M. Van Zyl
Lethbridge, Alberta

Benckhuysen could have gone further in addressing the tensions between the Old and New Testaments (“The Scandal of the Old Testament God”) by drawing attention to the hope announced by the prophets of the new covenant founded on the divine favor accorded to David, Israel's ideal king, whose heir would fulfill God’s ultimate purposes for his people, and through them, for the entire world. This authority of this coming king will grow continually, with the result that there will be endless peace (Isa. 9:6). When he is “prince among them” God will make with them a “covenant of peace” (Ezek. 34:15).

In Jesus Christ, the New Testament and the early church saw the fulfillment of these prophecies. Here is the promised Messiah, the Son of David, through whom God has established a new covenant and has brought—and will bring—peace and salvation.

Passages like these are indispensable to our seeing the relationship between the two major divisions of our Bible according to a scheme of promise and fulfillment.

—Christopher Dorn
Holland, Mich.

Time to Move On?
I like your editorial “Time to Move On.” A contract should be written for three to five years. If the “marriage” is good, the pastor can stay a little longer; if it doesn’t work out, he or she can depart in peace.

—Andy A. Renema
Duncan, British Columbia

The respondent to a “Frequently Asked Question” regarding the appropriate age for retirement did not consider others who have a stake in the decision—namely, younger workers.

Many younger workers cannot get into or move upward in their careers because the top layer of their field is capped by older workers. This occurs in every area, from the pastorate to the construction site. The aspirations, financial goals, and vocational desires of younger generations are stymied by the decisions of seniors to postpone retirement.

If the effect on these stakeholders is taken into consideration, conscientious seniors may be moved to retire sooner rather than later.

—Kent Van Til
Holland, Mich.

I agree that after a life of service to God pursuing a career it is good to allow ourselves some relaxation (FAQ, May 2014). But I don’t think we should sit back and think about ourselves. An additional calling should be to become more of a servant as Christ calls us to be.

There are numerous opportunities to volunteer even if you are physically unable to go out into the community. What a satisfying feeling it is to be able to help others by spending some of your newfound time using the gifts, talents, and resources God has given you.

—Bob Theule
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Grace Mic’d
Congratulations on Victor Ko’s inspiring article “Grace Mic’d.” Prayer is the best evangelism tool for introducing people to the grace of Jesus. We don’t just pray for people who need Jesus; we pray with them. That’s when God shows up.

When we honor the prayers and testimonies of non-Christians and encourage them to intercede with God for whatever they need, Jesus answers. When we honor the prayers and testimonies of children ages 4 to 14, they are the most likely to respond to the Good News, are often the first to experience answered prayer, and are the world’s greatest evangelists.
God will surely keep blessing the beautiful sounds of grace in mosaicHouse.

—Dave Stravers, Mission India
Grand Rapids, Mich.

The Profanity of Indifference” bristles with wisdom. The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Love and hate are never far apart and may be directed at the same person, but love cannot take hold in the presence of indifference. Our culture is profanity-laced, and we should not be proud of it, but its real sin is indifference. Now that is something to be angry about.

—Nick Loenen
Richmond, British Columbia

The author writes, “We practice modesty because we love” (“On Modesty.” Should we not practice modesty because we want to please God rather than ourselves and others? As Christian woman and girls, modesty is our responsibility. It is also our responsibility if we cause someone to sin because of how we dress or act. As parents we have the responsibility to train and discipline our sons and daughters how to dress and act appropriately.

—Hilda Clark
Grand Rapids, Mich.

New Mandate
Although I applaud the place and need for a “beefed-up” mandate for the Banner council (“New Mandate for Banner Council,” I am bothered by what I believe motivated this expanded council: fear and the “what ifs” of controversial articles last year.

I continue to welcome in our denomination open discussion and debate about issues in our society that challenge us while maintaining the solid foundation of Christ on which our faith is built.

I have welcomed this in Bible study groups as well as in sermons preached—for if we dare not do this, we will leave our current and upcoming generations to deal with such matters that need to be addressed here and now. Let possible fears never be a part of our motivation for dealing with mandates such as the one for our Banner Council.

—Henry Numan
Vancouver, British Columbia

Affordable Health Care
In the article “Health Care: A Moral Imperative,” the idea of offering affordable health care is a good one in that every person is able to have health insurance. However, in the real world I do not see that happening. I have been hearing from friends that they have been impacted by the new insurance in a negative way.

It seems that a system that was working 80 percent of the time could have been improved on so that it would include those who do not have insurance. The article mentions Canadian health care. From what I have heard, it takes a long time to get to the doctor when you have a problem. There is a lot of frustration in the Canadian health system.

Now the same thing is happening here. The plan sounds great but in reality is not working well. How do you respond to people who have been affected in a negative way?

—Anne Teitsma
Grand Rapids, Mich.

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