Astronaut Chris Hadfield took 45,000 photos from space—here are some of the best

The 3 R's Blog:

We will add a “Friday Fun” item today as well. This came across on’s “ala carte” menu, and it features some quite amazing photos from space, compliments of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Enjoy! And marvel at the handiwork of our Father, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.

Originally posted on Quartz:

On Christmas Eve in 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 saw a sight hitherto unseen by human eyes: The earth rising over the horizon of the moon. The photo that lunar module pilot William Anders took that day became one of the defining images of the 20th century, and forever changed the way humans saw their own planet.

“In lunar orbit, it occurred to me that, here we are, all the way up there at the moon, and we’re studying this thing, and it’s really the Earth as seen from the moon that’s the most interesting aspect of this flight,” Anders said later.

Many decades after Apollo 8, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was up in the International Space Station, when his son, who was helping him get a handle on social media, suggested via email that Hadfield ask people on earth what they wanted him to take pictures of. “The resounding answer was, ‘I want…

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Published in: on October 31, 2014 at 1:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

Reformation Day 2014 – M.Luther Hymns

Luther95Theses-1In commemoration of Roman Catholic monk Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses (disputations) on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517 – the event which triggered the Protestant Reformation – we post Luther’s simple message of the gospel as expressed in his first published hymn. And then, following that, we post a video of his great Reformation hymn, Ein’ Feste Berg (“A Mighty Fortress”), based on Psalm 46.

In the devil’s dungeon chained I lay,
The pangs of death swept o’er me.
My sin devoured me night and day
In which my mother bore me.
My anguish ever grew more rife,
I took no pleasure in my life.
And sin had made me crazy.

Then was the Father troubled sore
To see me ever languish.
The Everlasting Pity swore
To save me from my anguish.
He turned to me his father heart
And chose himself a bitter part,
His Dearest did it cost him.

Thus spoke the Son, “Hold thou to me,
From now on thou wilt make it.
I gave my very life for thee
And for thee I will stake it.
For I am thine and thou art mine
And where I am our lives entwine
The Old Fiend cannot shake it.
(Luther, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice,” 1523–1524)

The “Battle Hymn of the Reformation”:

PRC Archives – New YP’s Convention Picture – 1951

Last week we received a 1951 PRC Young People’s Convention group picture from Gord Van Overloop of Hudsonville PRC (through his son, Pastor Ron VO), and after checking the archives, I discovered we did not have this group photo as yet. We did have a folder with loose pictures from that year’s convention but not a picture of the entire group. So, now we do – thank you, Gord – and Rev.Van Overloop!

1951 YP's Conv - Pt_Page_1

Because it is a panoramic photo, I had to scan it in three parts, which I present to you today (There may be a little overlap, therefore.). It is a fairly clean and clear photo, and it contains many familiar faces. While the year and location (host society) are not a mystery – as you will see from the picture, some of these people will be to you. I am thinking that my generation may find their parents here and that current young people may be able to see grandpa and grandma. Have fun looking! :) Be sure to click on the picture to see the enlarged version.

1951 YP's Conv - Pt_Page_1

But there are other details that we would like to know – where were all these people lodged? What activities were they involved in that week – and where? And what ministers spoke, and on what topics? Help us out here by leaving comments in the comment section. Thank you in advance!

1951 YP's Conv - Pt_Page_1


Reformation Day Book Sales

Reformation-GeneralWith Reformation Day being commemorated this week (Friday, October 31, 2014), we can highlight a few special book sales being held online at present. Click on the links below to find the deals.

  1. Banner of Truth – Calvin’s Tracts and Treatises, Knox items, etc.
  2. Reformation Heritage Books – I haven’t seen a special notice for Reformation Day as yet, but I link to their history page(s), on which you will find plenty of good titles. P.S. I no sooner sent this, checked my email, and there was a special Reformation flyer from RHB. Here’s the link.
  3. Zondervan Academic – These are some good ebook deals on some newer titles that may be of interest.
  4. Grace & Truth Books – A great place to go for books for the family, including children and young people. The link is to their Reformation history section.
  5. Monergism – Always plenty of free materials on Reformation persons and subjects – there are plenty of places to go on their website, but we have highlighted the Calvin section.
  6. RFPA - I have highlighted the church history section here. P.S. And now we can add this special Reformation note from the RFPA.
  7. NEW ONE! Ligonier is offering some FREE Reformation resources in place of its usual $5 Friday specials. Be sure to check these out too!

Tolle lege! Take up and read! :)

Word Wednesday – “Semper Reformanda”

Last year for our “Word Wednesday” feature during Reformation week we focused on one Reformation motto in Latin: post tenebras lux.

semper reformandaThis year let’s consider another familiar one: semper reformanda. The meaning simply is: “always reforming”. We may know it more fully by the statement, “Reformed and always reforming.”

This important motto refers to the fact that every truly Reformed church will always be a reforming church, that is, a body of believers who are constantly striving to ensure that she remains faithful to the Word of God on which her faith, life, and worship are based. After all, that’s what the Re-formation was about – the re-forming of the church according to the Scriptures, as the church’s only authority (sola Scriptura!). And, after all, that’s what it means to be – and stay! – Reformed: always to be conforming to the Bible’s teachings with regard to doctrine, walk of life, and worship practices.

If you wish to explore this motto and subject further, I can point you to a couple of places:

  • This 2009 Tabletalk article by Michael Horton under the title “Semper Reformanda”.
  • This 1981 Standard Bearer article (actually, there are three of them) by Herman Hanko, which is the text of a Reformation Day lecture he gave in Hudsonville PRC on Oct.30, 1980. Here is part of what Prof.Hanko said that night at the beginning of his lecture:

When we give to our churches the name Reformed, we mean that we want our spiritual lineage to be traced back to that mighty event: We want to claim Luther and Calvin and the other Reformers as our spiritual fathers. Once a year on Reformation Day we look back to that event which happened over 450 years ago and point to it with thankfulness to God and say to others and to ourselves, “That event belongs to our history as Reformed churches.”

But there is surely more. When we call ourselves Reformed, we insist that we are re-formed. And we are not only re-formed because 450 years ago the church was re-formed by the hand of God, but we are re-formed and, therefore, Reformed because reformation is always, in every moment of the church’s life, the calling of the church of Jesus Christ. That is why a motto of the Reformed Churches for the last 450 years has been: “Reformed, yet always reforming.” By this motto our fathers meant to emphasize that it is the essential mark of being Reformed that the church is always reforming. The two go together and are inseparably connected. You cannot, says this motto, claim to be Reformed unless you are a church always reforming. The one mark, which clearly marks churches that belong to the Reformation is the mark of continuous reformation within her own ecclesiastical life.

That is the question, therefore, that faces us tonight. Are we as a church always reforming? This is a question which faces all of us.

And, I might add, still a question worth considering. This week of marking the great Reformation. And in all the days ahead. How “Reformed” are we, really?

A Prisoner Letter re the Heidelberg Catechism

Prison ministryLast Saturday the Seminary received another letter from a prisoner – from a regular contact in California. He had requested and received our Reformed confessions booklet (“Three Forms of Unity”), and has been studying especially the Canons of Dordt and the Heidelberg Catechism. He is also a Standard Bearer subscriber. He is a fairly new believer and is eager to grow in his faith. I thought I would give you a glimpse of where he is at and what he desires, since it truly is inspiring.

Here’s part of what he wrote:

As you know, I am young in the Lord, going on 2 years now. So please bare (sic) with me. because I don’t want to write anything contrary to the gospel as you know it, again I’ve just come to the theology of the Canons of Dordrecht. Before I was a pentecostal for almost 6 years. I have never heard of Calvinism or Arminianism before 2 years ago. My extent of Calvinism is the Canons but I’m not sure if that qualifies me as Calvinistic.

I wanted to make a request. I have been trying to come by sermons preached on the Heidelberg Catechism or articles like the one on Lord’s Day one in the ‘Standard Bearer’ that was celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg. I would like to receive these sermons regularly. I think that reading the sermons will build up my knowledge of the Heidelberg Catechism and help me to put to memory each Lord’s day. I would like sermons from strong calvinists, whose writings are like, when you read it you can’t forget it.

Yesterday I responded and sent him the first part of Rev.R.Kleyn’s series on the “HC” (LD’s 1-6) from the “SB”, since these are fine introductory articles on the catechism and include study questions at the end. What a privilege to be able to help this man in his spiritual growth! I am including him in my prayers too. Will you join me in doing so – for David and others like him?

New Hope Heralds CD – 2014 Season

HH2014CS-frontIn the past week the new Hope Heralds 2014 season CD was released, with Hope Heralds members being the first to receive it. My wife and I had it playing already in our car this past weekend, and I must say – with some bias – it is spectacular! We had a wonderful collection of songs again this year – from familiar psalms and hymns to some old and new “classics”.


For those unfamiliar with the Hope Heralds, the group is a men’s chorus made up mostly of Protestant Reformed brothers who enjoy singing together. Our season is typically from May to September, withe the summer months spent ministering God’s Word through song

The theme of this year’s CD is taken from one of the  songs – “By Mercy Made Holy” (“Let It Be Said of Us”). I have scanned the cover and back, so that you may see the title and the song selections (click on the images to enlarge).


If you would like to obtain a copy (a bargain at $10!), you may do so through the Hope Heralds’ Facebook page (linked above), or by contacting Dan Van Dyke (director) or Karen Daling (accompanist) at Heritage Christian School. There are also copies at HCS and at the PRC Seminary, if you wish to stop by and pick one up. ‘Tis the season of giving – why not purchase one for a friend or family member as well?

No, I do not receive any royalties for this promotion. I just love spreading news of good music. Buy one, and you will understand why. :)

*P.S. If you wish to watch and listen to a preview of the professionally-recorded CD (from our live concert in September), visit Nick Kleyn’s YouTube channel.

Augustine: Preacher, Exegete, Biblical Apologist

SB-Oct15-2014-AugustineSuch is the title of the article penned by Missionary-pastor M.McGeown in the recent special issue of the Standard Bearer (Oct.15, 2014), marking the life, work, and writings of the great church father Agustine (AD 354-430). Last week we called attention to a sermon by Augustine; today we highlight his relation to the Scriptures.

This is part of what Rev.McGeown has to say about Augustine as a biblical preacher and expositor (emphases are mine):

From the beginning of his Christian pilgrimage, when, as a young man, he heard the call, Tolle lege, tolle lege (“Take up and read”), and his eyes lighted on Romans 13:12-14, until the end of his life, when, on his deathbed, he asked that the penitential psalms be written out for him, so that he might read and mediate on them, Augustine loved the Scriptures. As bishop of Hippo, Augustine aimed to preach biblical sermons, and, as a writer, Augustine saturated his treatises and letters with quotations from the Bible.

Augustine was also a churchman, one who loved the church, one who pursued his theological studies in the church and for the sake of the church, and one who revered the tradition of the church, developing that tradition and defending it against heretics, both inside and outside the church.

…There can be no doubt that Augustine the preacher—with the other church fathers—revered Scripture. For Augustine, Scripture was the very Word of God. Quotations could be multiplied, but, in the interests of space, we offer only one. In a letter to Jerome, Augustine writes, “I have learned to do only those books that are called the Holy Scriptures the honor of believing firmly that none of their writers have ever erred. All others I so read as not to hold what they say to be truth unless they prove it to me by Holy Scripture or clear reason.”[1]

 Augustine was not content merely to admire the Bible. He labored to expound the Bible. Marveling at the detail of Augustine’s exegesis in his commentaries and sermons, one scholar writes, “Augustine finds a great deal in his chosen texts—partly because, being thoroughly convinced of their divine authority, he expects to find a great deal in them.”[2]

[1] Cited in A. Skevington Wood, Captive to the Word: Martin Luther, Doctor of Sacred Scripture (Exeter: The Paternoster Press, 1969), 125.

[2] Thomas Williams, “Biblical Interpretation” in The Cambridge Companion to Augustine (eds. Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann (Cambridge: [Cambridge Companions Online] Cambridge University Press, 2006), 60.

To learn more about this special Reformation issue of the “SB”, visit this page. To receive this issue or to subscribe to the “SB”, visit its homepage.

Faith and Works – Biblical Dichotomies – Cornelis Venema

Faith and Works by Cornelis Venema | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT-Oct 2014The final article on “Biblical Dichotomies” featured in  this month’s Tabletalk (Be aware, I have not referenced them all here.) is by Dr.Cornelis Venema (Mid-America Reformed Seminary) and titled “Faith and Works” – an important subject to every Protestant, especially in this time of year (Oct.31, Reformation Day).

In light of the historic significance of these two words, Venema carefully distinguishes yet relates these two concepts in Scripture. This is a “good read” this week as we recall the Lord’s work in leading His church to a recovery of the heart of the gospel, justification by faith alone.

I give you a small portion of his article here, encouraging you to read the rest of it at the Ligonier link above.

In these verses (Romans 3:19-21 – cjt), the Apostle paints a remarkable portrait of all sinners in the presence of God’s judgment seat. In the whole world, no one can be found who, by the standard of perfect obedience that the law requires, is able to offer a case upon the basis of their works that would exonerate them from God’s condemnation. Left to themselves, all sinners must acquiesce to the sentence of condemnation and death. This is what we deserve from God, and none of us can speak a word in our defense that would establish our innocence. Nothing sinners have done or will do could possibly warrant the pronouncement of their righteousness before God.

And yet, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that God justifies—declares righteous—those who embrace the gospel promise by faith alone. Out of sheer grace, God the Father grants and imputes to believers the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Through faith, believers are united to Christ and become partakers of Christ’s righteousness, which consists in His perfect obedience to all that the law of God requires and in His substitutionary endurance of the law’s penalty in the atonement.

When it comes to the believer’s justification, faith is the exclusive instrument that finds in Christ and in His saving work a full and complete satisfaction of all of the requirements of the law. Faith is not a human achievement, but the end of all boasting before God (Eph. 2:9). For this reason, John Calvin speaks of faith as a “passive” reception of what Christ has done to secure the believer’s right standing and acceptance before God. Calvin adds that faith is like an “empty vase” that is filled with the righteousness of Christ as the only ground of the believer’s right standing before God and inheritance of eternal life. When faith sings, it always sings of Christ alone: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

Lord’s Day Eve – Valley of Vision

Lord’s Day Eve – Banner of Truth USA.

We have had another wonderful Lord’s Day in our home church of Faith PRC. Blessed worship, rich preaching of the gospel, and sweet fellowship with our fellow saints.

And precious family time too – some planned, some unplanned. God is good and kind in the midst of life’s hardships and trials. It was a good day of rest – a rest we needed and a rest our Lord supplied.

Because I was not able to bring a devotional this morning, I will close the day with one – taken once more from A.Bennett’s Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Banner of Truth, 1975).


Another week has gone and I have been
in my going out,
in my coming in.

Thine has been the vigilance that has turned
threatened evils aside;
Thine the supplies that have nourished me;
Thine the comforts that have indulged me;
Thine the relations and friends that have
delighted me;
Thine the means of grace which have edified me;
Thine the Book, which, amidst all my enjoyments,
has told me that this is not my rest,
that in all successes one thing alone is needful,
to love my Saviour.

Nothing can equal the number of thy mercies
but my imperfections and sins.
These, O God, I will neither conceal nor palliate,
but confess with a broken heart.

In what condition would secret reviews
of my life leave me
were it not for the assurance that with thee
there is plenteous redemption,
that thou art a forgiving God,
that thou mayest be feared!

While I hope for pardon through the blood
of the cross,
I pray to be clothed with humility,
to be quickened in thy way,
to be more devoted to thee,
to keep the end of my life in view,
to be cured of the folly of delay and indecision,
to know how frail I am,
to number my days and apply my heart
unto wisdom.

To hear the two rich sermons we heard today, visit our church’s sermon page (see links below). Both messages ministered to our needs – comfort for afflictions (Prof.R.Cammenga on 2 Cor.4:17-18) and submission to the Kingship of the Lord (Rev.R.Van Overloop).

Samuel: Renewing the Kingdom
Rev. Ronald Van Overloop – 1 Samuel 11:14-12:25
Affliction Working Glory
Prof. Ronald Cammenga – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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