It was entitled “A Noseworthy Issue.” The title of the first Let’s Talk column in January 2008 led to an apology of sorts. Our malfeasance was undeniable. Recent issues of the Gleaner had wafted noxious odors into mailboxes across the Northwest and beyond. An aqueous coating applied to our paper during printing had putrified, casting a pall upon every page. My words were admittedly a bit tongue-in-cheek in response to readers who had hung their Gleaners out to air on clotheslines or conducted backyard burials.

But it began a friendly conversation I have relished during the eight years since. It’s a conversation that has flourished amidst several guiding principles, including the following three:

  • Honesty is a strength. Our individual paths and choices are more diverse than some might think. As much as we believe in the ideals and mission of our divine calling, we are also undeniably human. Honesty about our common foibles encourages us along an often challenging journey to the kingdom.
  • Humor can be cleansing. Scripture says laughter is like medicine to the soul. Humor at its best has a purpose. We are all knee deep in daily and weekly concerns. I am gratified when through the thoughts on this page someone’s load has been lightened, when they can look up, not down.
  • We grow closer when centered in Jesus. Nearly 70 years ago, A.W. Tozer wrote in The Pursuit of God: "One hundred worshippers ... each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become 'unity-conscious' and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship." I agree with him and hope our conversations have brought us nearer to Jesus and therefore to each other.

My role in these back-page conversations is about to change. I’ve invited my friend and colleague Dick Duerksen to take over this treasured spot each month. Dick and I go back a few years — all the way to my senior year in academy when he sought mightily to instruct and teach me in the way I should go. A decade later, he and I collaborated on a series of daily radio programs we called A Walk in the Word.

I learned then that Dick has been and always will be a storyteller. Few can weave words like he does, with a storyline that grabs your heart. And now that he and his wife, Brenda, are back in our Northwest corner of God’s country, prepare to welcome him into your home via the Gleaner. May this page continue to be a monthly anchor point, a safe place for honest conversations about things that eternally matter.

The title will change with the author. But this time no apology is necessary. Consider it, instead, a free upgrade.

Featured in: January 2017


Steve Vistaunet

North Pacific Union assistant to the president for communication and Gleaner editor, 1996–2019

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