Book Alert! “Peace for the Troubled Heart”

I have a new book to report on, about which I am very excited! Peace for the Troubled Heart (with the sub-title of Reformed Spirituality) has recently been published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association (Fall, 2010; ISBN 978-1-936054-05-3; http://www.rfpa.org). It consists of old meditations written by Herman Hoeksema, founding pastor and professor in the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, and first published in the magazine The Standard Bearer between 1924 and 1947 (this magazine is still alive and well – see the RFPA website and its special offer for new subscribers!). The editor, David J. Engelsma, has pulled together 37 of these meditations (some translated from the Dutch by Marvin Kamps), divided them into three sections (“Pilgrimage”, “Suffering”, and “Struggle”), and placed them under the above title, for a book that truly is “Reformed Spirituality”.

In Engelsma’s own words in his “Preface”:

These meditations are deliberately and distinctively devotional. In language that is often poetical, they breathe the rich experience of the believing child of God.

Hoeksema’s meditations express and form genuine Reformed spirituality.

Always exegetical (whereas much purported spirituality is rooted in the emotions of the teacher), always biblical (whereas much purported spirituality is fanciful), and always doctrinal (whereas much purported spirituality is mystical), the meditations of Herman Hoeksema are instructive as well as moving (whereas much purported spirituality merely titillates the feelings for a fleeting moment).

I am so grateful to Prof.Engelsma and the RFPA for seeing to the publication of these meditations (and according to the preface more volumes are to come!). I well remember pouring over my old, musty Standard Bearer volumes doing research on various texts, and being carried away by “H.H.”‘s soul-edifying and soul-satisfying devotionals. I have long-wished they could be resurrected and preserved in another form – and now they have! The book is in hardcover form, 294 pages long, and retails for $28.95. Join the RFPA book club and you can probably get a discount on the book. Or simply watch for their next sale. Or pay the full price – it is worth the money!

I have one minor criticism/suggestion. I noticed that while all of the texts on which the meditations are based are included over the actual meditations, there is no index of texts, nor are the texts included with the titles under “Contents”. I believe this would enhance the book and make it more “user-friendly” for the reader.

Want a little “taste” of this marvelous volume? From the third meditation, based on Hebrews 11:16, and titled “Desiring the Heavenly Fatherland”, Hoeksema writes the following in his description of this precious hope of the believer (and here he speaks to one of his favorite subjects, the covenant of grace):

In that fatherland are all the relationships of the saints, who are strangers and pilgrims here. In that fatherland is the highest realization of God’s covenant of friendship: God’s house of many mansions, the most intimate fellowship with the Almighty, the experience of his favor, the knowing even as we are known, the seeing of one another face-to-face, the heavenly revelation of the charms and sweetness found at God’s right hand. There God’s love is eternally complete and finds its echo in our complete love of him. There we will serve him perfectly with a service of love that never disappoints, as co-workers with God as his covenantal friends. There is our citizenship, and there our joint citizenship with all the saints is perfected. There we will have fellowship in the perfect light with all those who in faith reverence his name. There everyone speaks the same language. There everyone performs the same service. There all live and walk in Christ Jesus in perfect light. There everyone bears the image of the heavenly. There is no death, no sin and no failure, no sorrow and no complaint, no struggle and no distress, and no fear. There is the rest of the perfect service of God.

Does that not breathe those qualities of which the editor spoke?! Get this devotional book and read it; it truly is food for the soul – good Reformed food.

For Sufferers – Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund at “Christ is Deeper Still” posted this brief but comforting meditation on I Peter 5:10-11 a week ago. I re-post his words and include a link to the source. May God make this a blessing to all His suffering children.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”  1 Peter 5:10-11

And after you have suffered a little while.  Your suffering is real.  “A little while” does not trivialize it.  But suffering is not the rest of your story.  It will end, and soon – as measured by the actual, eternal grandeur of your life.

the God of all grace.  He has remedies, comforts and powers for every need, every occasion, every moment.

who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ.  As Lewis said, someday you will get in.  God himself has removed every barrier through Christ.

will himself.  Not mediated but directly and personally.  Not bare luck but his own loving involvement.

restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  Terms upon terms, because God has thought of everything.  Whatever you have lost he will restore.  However you are weak he will confirm, strengthen and establish you, so that you emerge whole, formidable, happy.

To him be the dominion forever and ever.  No one can ever overrule his purpose of grace, but only serve his purpose.

Amen.  Very few things in life deserve this absolute affirmation.  But here is one.

For sufferers – Ray Ortlund.

Prayer Devotion for The Lord’s Day

This is another prayer/devotion taken from the book The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Arthur Bennett (Banner of Truth, 1975). It is titled “The Lord’s Day”. May it lead us into godly keeping of this day of rest and prepare our hearts for worship in God’s house.

 

O Lord, My Lord,

This is thy day,
the heavenly ordinance of rest,
the open door of worship,
the record of Jesus’ resurrection,
the seal of the sabbath to come,
the day when saints militant and triumphant unite in endless song.

I bless thee for the throne of grace,
that here free favour reigns;
that open access to it is through the blood of Jesus;
that the veil is torn aside and I can enter
the holiest
and find thee ready to hear;
waiting to be gracious,
inviting me to pour out my needs,
encouraging my desires,
promising to give more than I ask or think.

But while I bless thee, shame and confusion are mine:
I remember my past misuse of sacred things,
my irreverent worship,
my base ingratitude,
my cold, dull praise.
Sprinkle all my past sabbaths with the cleansing blood of Jesus,
and may this day witness deep improvement in me.

Give me in rich abundance the blessings the Lord’s Day was designed to impart;
May my heart be fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares;
Flood my mind with peace beyond understanding;
may my meditations be sweet,
my acts of worship life, liberty, joy,
my drink the streams that flow from thy throne,
my food the precious Word,
my defence the shield of faith,
and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.

John Rutter: The Lord is My Shepherd

To accompany our reflection on Psalm 23 today, we include this beautiful rendition of John Rutter’s piece, “The Lord is My Shepherd”, by the Monteverdi Choir of Wurzburg. If you have never heard this version before, you will fall in love with it immediately. Even though Rutter wrote this as part of his Requiem (the word means “rest”, and belongs to the opening part of the Latin Mass for the dead, which we reject), it remains one of my Rutter favorites, for the simple beauty of its melody and for its faithfulness to the text of Scripture.

 

Here are the lyrics which he set to music:

The lord is my shepherd

 

The lord is my shepherd:

therefore can I lack nothing.

He shall feed me in a green pasture:

and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort.

He shall convert my soul:

and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness,

for his Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil:

for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff comfort me.

Thou shalt prepare a table before me against them

that trouble me:

thou hast anointed my head with oil,

and my cup shall be full.

But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life:

and I will dwell in the house of the

Lord for ever.

 

Click on this link to see the video.

YouTube – John Rutter: Requiem 6/7 – The Lord is my shepherd.

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 4:08 AM  Comments (2)  

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

 

What a beautiful psalm to ponder as we prepare to worship our God! While all of the psalms are precious in their own way, without doubt Psalm 23 is especially precious to us as God’s children. Or rather I should say, as His sheep. For in this psalm the shepherd king David reflects on the truth that Jehovah is our Shepherd. Every verse is a gold mine of truths founded on that truth. How many times haven’t we turned to these verses for comfort and peace when as God’s beloved sheep we felt ourselves badgered by burdens, agonized by afflictions, dreadful by death, wounded by wolves, and overwhelmed by oppression?! In all these experiences the Lord proved to be our faithful, loving, caring, and keeping Shepherd. Though we thought we lacked, in reality we did not, and never will.

 

The greatest proof of Jehovah’s loving shepherding of us is in His own Son, Jesus Christ. For in John 10 (and elsewhere) He told us that He is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep. Yes, He took care of our greatest need – the blotting out of our sins! And if He did that, it is not possible that we should lack anything else! And so today we worship our great God again. With fresh reasons and motivations. How did the great Shepherd of the sheep show His love for and care toward you and me this past week? Then let us praise Him accordingly!

 

John Calvin has some wonderful thoughts based on v.1 for us to meditate on, and which ought to excite us to humility and gratitude:

Under the similitude of a shepherd, he commends the care which God, in his providence, had exercised towards him. His language implies that God had no less care of him than a shepherd has of the sheep who are committed to his charge. God, in the Scripture, frequently takes to himself the name, and puts on the character of a shepherd, and this is no mean token of his tender love towards us. As this is a lowly and homely manner of speaking, He who does not disdain to stoop so low for our sake, must bear a singularly strong affection towards us. It is therefore wonderful, that when he invites us to himself with such gentleness and familiarity, we are not drawn or allured to him, that we may rest in safety and peace under his guardianship. But it should be observed, that God is a shepherd only to those who, touched with a sense of their own weakness and poverty, feel their need of his protection, and who willingly abide in his sheepfold, and surrender themselves to be governed by him. David, who excelled both in power and riches, nevertheless frankly confessed himself to be a poor sheep, that he might have God for his shepherd. Who is there, then, amongst us, who would exempt himself from this necessity, seeing our own weakness sufficiently shows that we are more than miserable if we do not live under the protection of this shepherd? We ought to bear in mind, that our happiness consists in this, that his hand is stretched forth to govern us, that we live under his shadow, and that his providence keeps watch and ward over our welfare. Although, therefore, we have abundance of all temporal good things, yet let us be assured that we cannot be truly happy unless God vouchsafe to reckon us among the number of his flock. Besides, we then only attribute to God the office of a Shepherd with due and rightful honor, when we are persuaded that his providence alone is sufficient to supply all our necessities.

 

Finally, here is a versification of Psalm 23 (hymn) which James Montgomery wrote:

The Lord the Good Shepherd.–Ps. xxiii.

The Lord is my Shepherd, nor want shall I know;

I feed in green pastures, safe-folded I rest;

He leadeth my soul where the still waters flow,

Restores me when wandering, redeems when opprest.

 

Through the valley and shadow of death though I stray,

Since Thou art my guardian no evil I fear;

Thy rod shall defend me, Thy staff be my stay;

No harm can befall, with my Comforter near.

 

In the midst of affliction my table is spread;

With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o’er;

With perfume and oil, Thou anointest my head;

O! what shall I ask of Thy Providence more?

 

Let goodness and mercy, my bountiful God!

Still follow my steps, till I meet Thee above:

I seek, by the path which my forefathers trod

Through the land of their sojourn, Thy kingdom of love.

 

The material for this post came from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (ccel.org – see link on main page under “Bibles and study info”).

How Harvard Went from Calvinism to Liberalism

The Jan.24, 2011 “Church History Timeline” at Christianity.com asks and answers this important and revealing question:

How did America’s great Christian colleges come to abandon their faith and become the secular institutions they are today?

When Harvard College was founded by the Puritans in 1636, they knew well what they wanted from their school. “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all found knowledge and Learning…” The great school was intended to produce a godly clergy.

In less than a hundred years, that high ideal faltered. Liberals won control of the school. On this day, January 24, 1722, they appointed Edward Wigglesworth to fill the newly created Thomas Hollis chair at Harvard College. This made Mr. Wigglesworth the first divinity professor commissioned in the American colonies, but what should have been cause for rejoicing was actually reason to mourn.

Read the rest at the link below. It is a valuable lesson for all Christian educational institutions. May we be thankful for Christian schools at all levels that continue to maintain their heritage in faithfulness to God’s Word and to that only foundation of all knowledge.

Harvard Chair Went to Doubting Wigglesworth – Church History and Timeline – Christianity.com.

Happy 400th birthday, KJV! | The Scriptorium Daily

To keep the 400th anniversary of the KJV before us in the months ahead, I post another article I found online about this historic event this year (see my earlier posts). This article was written by Allen Yeh for “The Scriptorium Daily”,  affiliated with the Torry Honors Institute at Biola University in S.California. While the author takes some pokes at the KJV along the way (criticizing the Greek text behind it and the archaisms), he does have some good things to say about its value and influence. Here is a sample paragraph. Read the rest at the link below.

 

Another effect the KJV had was on the church.  John Wycliffe was called the “Morning Star of the Reformation” because he translated the Bible into English without the sanction of the Catholic Church.  It seems unbelievable to us today that translating the Bible would be considered a crime—after all, don’t we want the Bible to get into the hands of as many people as possible? Bible translation is such a crucial part of mission! And, for Catholics to insist on the Bible in Latin is eerily similar to Muslims insisting on the Koran in Arabic (which is itself further ironic since the Bible was not written in Latin, so the Vulgate cannot even claim linguistic originality and purity).  But Wycliffe’s attempt at an English translation went against papal decree and after his death his remains were exhumed and burned for it!  This shows the potential of the Bible to empower the priesthood of all believers:  when people get the Bible into their own hands, and in the vernacular language which they are accustomed to speaking (keep in mind the original New Testament was written in “koine”—common—Greek, and the Latin version of the Bible was called the Vulgate—”vulgar” means popular, or belonging to the masses), it may spark Reformation (which is not rebellion but rather a correction of errors).  If people are allowed to check accumulated human tradition against the Biblical witness, they will be able to discern what is actually valid vs. what has been artificially constructed and extrapolated over the centuries.

 

Happy 400th birthday, KJV! | The Scriptorium Daily: Middlebrow.

Did You Read?

As Tim Challies’ (challies.com) stated when he referenced this video commercial, though it is quite humorous, it makes fun of something more serious – our propensity to read for knowledge that is “a mile-wide and an inch-deep.” I do hope you will read better than this, and deeper than these two people.

Click on this link to view the commercial.

 

YouTube – Did You Read?.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 5:00 AM  Leave a Comment  

Top 10 Most-Searched Bible Verses: What’s Missing?

Collin Hansen has an interesting article at Christianity.com under the above title. He writes:

 

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that John 3:16 is the most-searched Bible verse, according to statistical analysis provided by the folks at Bible Gateway. They reviewed the behavior of some of the 8 million visitors who stop by their site each month, many of them chasing results provided by Google. I was intrigued to review the top 10 results, which I’ve listed in reverse order.

 

But he goes on to talk about what you won’t find in this top ten list – two concepts essential to the Christian gospel. Can you guess what’s missing? Maybe in the light of our where today’s church and culture are you can guess without looking. But read what he has to say anyway, because he is right about what must never be lacking from the message of the gospel.

 

Top 10 Most-Searched Bible Verses: What’s Missing? – Christian foundations – Christianity.com.

Welcome Back, “Three R’s” Readers!

After a busy week in Detroit, I am back at the “The Three R’s” helm! Thank you for your patience as I was not able to post since Monday due to long work days and computer issues at the Comfort Inn (I had some posts saved up but couldn’t access them – arghhhh!). My readers have continued to read the blog even without new material, and for that I am grateful. I have posted quite a bit since the beginning of the year, so I guess you had a chance to catch up. And now I do too. So come along for some new reading material. And again, thanks for all your support and encouragement!

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 4:22 AM  Leave a Comment  
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