Knowing God is Something You Grow Into, Pt. 4/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 27, 2017

Encounter. Obedience. Intimacy. All three of these themes can easily lead us to wonder, "How much is needed in order to know God?" They seem like really tall orders. What if I don't sense God's presence? What if I've been disobedient? What if God feels distant, rather than intimate? Do I not know God then? I'm hoping this final theme will help relieve this tension.

Knowing God is About Intimacy—Not Acquaintance, Pt. 3/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 8, 2017

To really know God is to experience deep intimacy with Him through His Spirit—the same Spirit who came into your heart when you believed in Christ and the same Spirit who knows your deepest longings and prays for you when you can’t pray for yourself. This biblical vision of walking with God is not that He is a divine acquaintance but an Intimate Lover.  Knowing God is about union, security, and transparency…

You Cannot Know God Without Obeying Him, Pt. 2/4

By Darrell Yoder on March 6, 2017

Last week's theme "encounter" reminds us that the Christian faith is not merely an intellectual journey nor an emotional or spiritual high. It's the day-in, day-out experience of God meeting us where we are and making Himself known to us in both mundane and miraculous ways. The Christian faith is about experiencing God's love and presence not as an abstract idea but in real life. How do we relate to…

Don't Lose the Wonder of Knowing God, pt. 1/4

By Darrell Yoder on February 27, 2017

If you ran the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in 2009 in Grand Rapids, MI, you received a t-shirt with a simple logo on the front: a name tag with the phrase "I Run For...." In the blank space, some people wrote the names of loved ones; others listed things like health, youth, love, etc. Each person had a different purpose that kept them going when training was hard. This question—what are you running for?…

The Pastor is Between Two Worlds

By Darrell Yoder on January 25, 2017

Almost 10 years ago, I sat in my office listening to Dr. John Stott share his heart about preaching. I wish he would have been in my office himself so I could ask him questions. Alas, I was listening to a recording of a course he taught many years prior. At the time, I was serving at the Institute of Theological Studies, developing a "legacy" course to make Stott's material available again. It was…

Finding Common Ground: Can complementarians and egalitarians flourish together?

By Darrell Yoder on April 13, 2016

In today's post, I'd like to highlight the Intercultural Lecture Series event that took place last month. Carolyn Custis James spoke on "The Blessed Alliance," which asked the question: How does the Gospel transform relationships between male and female and restore the "Blessed Alliance" that God envisioned for his sons and daughters from the beginning?

If you have wrestled with the role of women…

The Mystery of Knowing God

By Darrell Yoder on April 11, 2016

I find the idea of having a "relationship with God" mysterious and fascinating. The biblical story depicts humanity as created to know and walk with God, and it uses a host of metaphors to describe this relationship. God is our Father, and we are His children. He is our Husband, and we are His bride. He is our Shepherd, and we are His sheep. He is the "Living Water" we thirst for, the "Bread from heaven"…

Spanking: A Father's Perspective

By Darrell Yoder on March 28, 2016

In my own experience, spanking has at times seemed effective, and at other times it has failed miserably. There are times I may have used spanking too quickly, as a first choice in punishment, without considering other options, only to later wonder if it really was the best method. This was even more pronounced when my children didn't respond to spanking in the way I thought they would.

Listening to the Voice of Creation

By Darrell Yoder on March 9, 2016

On Monday, I wrote about a time when God used music to impact me deeply and draw me closer in my walk with him. Music, coupled with God's Word, can be deeply spiritually formational. Today, I'd like to look at another practice that has been powerful for me personally—listening to the voice of creation as it testifies to its Creator.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work…

When We Have No Words

By Darrell Yoder on March 7, 2016

A few years ago, I was invited to write for the Conversations Journal blog, which seeks to generate conversations that lead to transformation. We were discussing various things that contribute to spiritual formation in Christ. For one of my posts, I explored the role that music can play in our walk with the Lord.

I believe that music—especially worship music based on Scripture—can be one of the most…

Space for the Heart in Seminary: Consider the Pirsig Fellowship

By Darrell Yoder on January 18, 2016

For the last two and a half years, I've had the privilege of walking with students in the Kern Scholars Program, which provides a generous scholarship and a cohort experience for students in the Master of Divinity program (M.Div.). I've been encouraged to see the way these men and women have connected with each other in their cohorts. As the above quote from one student testifies, the journey of theological…

Calling, Character and Competency: An Interview with Rev. Dr. Royce Evans

By Darrell Yoder on January 11, 2016

Over the last three years, I have had the privilege of working with and building a friendship with my colleague, the Rev. Dr. Royce Evans. Initially, I was impressed with the breadth of his ministry experience (and that's still true), but as I've gotten to know him and his heart for the Kingdom I've been even more inspired by his openness, humility and courage. I'm excited to say we've invited him…

What we say when we call people to serve

By Darrell Yoder on January 4, 2016

Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend who was feeling guilty after hearing his pastor speak about service. The pastor's appeal was a good one. As followers of Christ, we are called to look out for others in need and to be generous with our time and resources. The message was from the story of Peter raising Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9.36-41).

Part of the story is how Tabitha was known for "always…

Fear and the Loss of Compassion

By Darrell Yoder on December 21, 2015

It's Christmas, and millions of people are on edge. Those living in the Middle East are familiar with this fear, but it's new (or at least more intense) for many of us. We've watched with horror as ISIS fighters commit atrocities and export their violence to Africa, Paris and (perhaps indirectly) San Bernardino. We hear about the growing domestic threat in the US.

With everything coming closer to…

Miss Talking Points? Get the recordings here

By Darrell Yoder on October 26, 2015

On Oct. 7, pastors and ministry leaders gathered at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary for the Fall 2015 Talking Points conference. The theme of the conference was "Thy Kingdom Come: An Exploration of New Creation Theology." A huge thanks to all who attended and helped make it an amazing day. If you missed it, you can download the recordings here.

Our next Talking Points will be a series in the spring…

Moo, Plantinga, Wittmer and more at Talking Points Conference

By Darrell Yoder on October 5, 2015

On Wednesday, we will hold our next Talking Points Conference on the topic "Thy Kingdom Come," a conversation about New Creation Theology. We pray for God's Kingdom to come "on earth" in the Lord's Prayer, and the New Testament refers often to "new creation" as central to the Gospel and the mission of Christ in the world. What "kingdom" and "new creation" are we talking about, and what difference does…

Speaker Highlight: Dr. Cornelius Plantinga

By Darrell Yoder on September 14, 2015

We have a fantastic line up of speakers for Talking Points on Oct. 7. Each speaker will explore the topic of new creation theology from a different angle: biblically, theologically, historically and homiletically. To help with this last angle—the task of preaching new creation theology—we have invited Dr. Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga to give a new creation sermon during the conference.

Dr. Plantinga…

Thy Kingdom Come

By Darrell Yoder on August 26, 2015

Last week, my family joined ten others on a three-day camping trip to Silver Lake State Park on the west coast of Michigan's lower peninsula. It was our last hurrah before school starts, and we loved every minute of it. If you do the math, we had 22 adults and 31 children—53 people relaxing on the beach, swimming, laughing, riding bikes, telling stories and cooking incredible food over an open fire…

Connecting the Seminary and the Church

By Darrell Yoder on August 17, 2015

I was raised in the Church. I came to faith around 10 years old in a rural Mennonite church in Northern Indiana. Thirteen years later, when I decided to go to seminary, many people around me had no idea what a seminary was (none of our pastors had ever gone), and they wondered about the value of "going to school for so many years."

During seminary, then, I was both inspired and disillusioned. I was…

What to Expect...

By Darrell Yoder on August 3, 2015

I'm excited to participate in this new Talking Points blog! I will be engaged in this conversation primarily as a practitioner, a pastor who spends a lot of time thinking about and engaged in the practical issues we face in the Church. My role at GRTS though—working with and mentoring future pastors; planning and coordinating our Talking Points conferences—offers me a unique glimpse at what the seminary…