National Library Week! What You Need to Know and Do

National Library Week Fact Sheet | News & Press Center.

NLW14_poster_120x180Yes, it IS once again National Library Week this week (April 13-19), and you should join me in celebrating our libraries – national and local, public and private (such as our Seminary library)! The following is taken from the American Library Association website, and includes some basic facts about this annual event.

National Library Week will be observed April 13-19, 2014 with the theme, “Lives change @ your library®.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

Celebrations during National Library Week include: National Library Workers Day, celebrated the Tuesday of National Library Week (April 15, 2014), a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers; National Bookmobile Day, celebrated the Wednesday of National Library Week (April 16, 2014), a day to recognize the contributions of our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities; and Celebrate Teen Literature Day, celebrated the Thursday of National Library Week (April 17, 2014), aimed at raising awareness among the general public that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens.

I find the background to this annual celebration to be quite interesting – and still quite relevant:

History
In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious.   They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”

In 1957, the committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”

acl-logo-transThe Association of Christian Librarians, of which I am a part, is also marking the week, asking for special prayers on behalf of its staff and on behalf of all the member libraries which serve such a significant role for the institutions to which they belong.

So join us this week in noting the important place libraries have in our lives, for the access they give us to books and magazines and many other resources, to the internet and digital libraries and archives, to the world of knowledge – not as an end itself, but so that we might know God and His works, and might love and serve Him in all we do in life.

And by all means continue to support your library – especially by your presence there and by the reading of good books! And don’t forget to take your children and grandchildren! :)

Unions Getting Creative in Election-Year Struggle

Unions Getting Creative in Election-Year Struggle.

Unions-1In our culture watch and Reformed worldview items we like to keep our eye on the worldly labor unions. They may not have the power and influence they once did (former President Ronald Reagan had much to do with busting their unquestioned power), but they still wield much of these. In fact, under our current President they are once again flexing their muscles.

With that in mind, this “Foundry” (Heritage Foundation) report from last week (April 2, 2014) caught my attention. Though brief, it is an interesting glance at both union advances and setbacks.

Here is the opening of the report; read the rest at the link above.

If it seems like unions are making a fuss lately, it’s because they are.

It’s an election year, and they need money.

Just one in 15 private-sector workers is a union member—in 2013, union membership was at its lowest rate since 1916.

That might explain why they’re grasping for new members in stunts like unionizing college athletes, especially as their influence in the workplace is being challenged in the courts.

As Kevin Mooney reported for The Foundry:

Lawyers with National Right to Work Foundation…argued before the high court that it is unconstitutional to compel Illinois residents to fund SEIU’s political activism. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, payment of union dues by personal caregivers no longer would be mandatory but become voluntary.

“They’re trying to lock people into paying dues while they still can,” said Linda Dobbs, a dues-paying California union member who questioned a visit she received from some aggressive union representatives.

“Sing Psalms Unto Him” – Special Issue on Psalm-Singing – April 1, 2014 Standard Bearer

The latest issue of The Standard Bearer is out, and it is another excellent special one! The April 1, 2014 issue is devoted to the Reformed practice and tradition of Psalmody or Psalm-singing. Prof.B.Gritters, one of the editors, includes this descriptive note before his own fine article “In Praise of Psalm-Singing”:

You have in your hands a special issue on the church’s long-treasured practice of singing psalms in public worship. Although our Psalter’s anniversary was not in view when we planned the issue, 2014 does mark 100 years since our fathers adopted the 1912 Psalter for use in the churches. God’s faithfulness explains our continuing in psalm-singing.

The logic of the articles should not be missed. First, Rev.James Slopsema, one of our long-time writers of meditations, helps us reflect on God’s Word in the psalms. The editorial encourages us in the use of this songbook called ‘the Psalms’ and the great blessing of them. Three articles look at the rich history of psalm-singing. Rev.Brian Huizinga’s moving article traces the history of psalm-singing from the earliest times of the New Testament church. Rev.Kenneth Koole writes a fascinating history of the use of the 1912 Psalter in the PRC. Rev.Martyn McGeown, whose churches use the Scottish Metrical Version of the Psalter, writes about the present use of the psalms in various Reformed and Presbyterian churches. That all the psalms should (and can be!) sung by New Testament Christians is the purpose of Rev.Ronald Hanko’s article on the imprecatory psalms. Then there is careful reflection, by Prof.Russell Dykstra, on how the PRC’s Psalter might be improved.

SB-Psalm Issue-April 1-2014_Page_1

Fittingly, the cover of this special issue contains this wonderful quote from the Reformer John Calvin:

There are in brief three things that our Lord has commanded us to observe in our spiritual assemblies, namely, the Preaching of his Word, the public and solemn prayers, and the administration of his sacraments. As to the public prayers, these are of two kinds: some are offered by means of words alone, the others with song…. We know by experience that song has great force and vigor to move and inflame the hearts of men to invoke and praise God with a more vehement and ardent zeal. It must always be looked to that the song be not light and frivolous, but have weight and majesty as Saint Augustine says, and that there is likewise a great difference between the music one makes to entertain men at the table and in their homes, and the psalms which are sung in the Church in the presence of God and his angels…. Wherefore, although we look far and wide and search on every hand, we shall not find better songs nor songs better suited to that end than the Psalms of David which the Holy Spirit made and uttered through him. And for this reason, when we sing them we may be certain that God puts the words in our mouths as if he himself sang in us to exalt his glory.

You are urged to obtain and read this significant and edifying issue of the “SB”. To receive your copy if you are not a subscriber, visit the “SB” website at the link given above. If you are a subscriber, and the issue has reached your home, I pray you devour it completely!

Christian Book Notes » The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible

Christian Book Notes » The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible.

Terry Delaney at his book review blog “Christian Book Notes” calls our attention to and offers a brief review of the forthcoming KJV (Reformed) Study Bible. The study portion of this Bible is the work of many Reformed and Calvinist men (Delaney lists them all in his post) and will be published by Reformation Heritage Books here in Grand Rapids.

KJVStudyBible-RHB-2014There is a real need for such a study Bible in the Reformed community and I look forward to seeing and reviewing this study Bible. The only other Reformed study Bible of which I am currently aware is the Reformation Study Bible (ESV) published by Ligonier.

Below is a portion of Delaney’s review. For much more, visit the blog at the link above.

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible seeks to incorporate the rich history and tradition found in the Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries.  This study Bible will not only emphasize the deep theological truths rediscovered and promoted during the Reformation, but will also exhort the reader to the personal standard of holiness the Bible calls for and was lived out by the Reformers and later the Puritans.

They have used the King James Version for this study Bible to keep with what was basically used by the Reformers and Puritans.  Furthermore, they have added a dictionary to explain the antiquated words to a new generation.

Book Alert! RFPA Releases “1834: Hendrik De Cock’s Return to the True Church” by M.Kamps

1834-HdeCock-MKampsLast week the Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA) released its latest publication, and it is a unique and significant volume. 1834: Hendrik De Cock’s Return to the True Church by Marvin Kamps is the story of a godly Dutch Reformed churchman who seceded from the apostate state church in the Netherlands in the early 19th century to form the church anew according to the Word of God and the Reformed confessions.

It is a story that needs to be told, not only because it is not well-known (much of it being hidden behind the Dutch language and limited English resources), but also because it set the stage for subsequent reformation in the church in the Netherlands and beyond (America, e.g.). Much of the present Reformed church world with its roots in the Netherlands can trace its heritage back to Hendrik De Cock and the secession he led out of the Dutch state church. And of course, because many Reformed churches have long-departed from this heritage, the story of De Cock and his restoration of a truly Reformed church needs to be uttered as a call to return to the “old paths” of the gospel of sovereign grace and true worship.

Here is part of the author’s conviction as expressed in the “Preface”:

The Reformed churches today that are faithful to their name are the continuation of the reformation of 1517 and 1834. These reformations of the church were a return to the Bible. Often it is said that the significance of 1834 is that it constituted a return to the Canons of Dordt. Although this is true, it is an incomplete statement. My thesis is that in 1834 De Cock and his congregation returned to the Bible and therefore to the Reformed creeds. Many will disagree with this understanding of 1834. Let the reader judge.

And then he issues this challenge to us:

Do we share in the Secession fathers’ confession, witness, struggle, and walk before God? Do we today treasure De Cock’s spiritual legacy as our spiritual father? Are the Reformed creeds still our heartfelt confession? Or have we consciously rejected that confession of the fathers and returned to the apostate teachings and way of life championed by the false church?

This is a beautifully-produced book (490 pages), complete with pictures from the age as well as seven appendices containing significant translations of original documents relating to the 1834 reformation in the Netherlands.We take the opportunity to thank Mr.Kamps for his diligent work resulting in such an important book.

We hope this book is widely received and welcomed, not only by those of Dutch Reformed heritage but by all who have come to know and love the Reformed faith and by all who love and want to learn from the history of Christ’s church in the world.

Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court: landmark case for religious liberty to be heard Tues. – Baptist Press

Baptist Press -Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court: landmark case for religious liberty to be heard Tues. – News with a Christian Perspective.

Today, as the Supreme Court returns to its work, our justices will begin treating the cases of two companies owned by Christian families who are opposed to the unbiblical and unethical demands of the Affordable Healthcare Act (unaffectionately known as “Obamacare”). Baptist Press carried this report about the significance of these cases, and indeed, as Christians we ought to be informed and concerned about the outcome of these cases (Read the full report at the link above.).

Which means that we ought also be in prayer today for our SC and those defending these Christian businesses. The AFA (American Family Association) offered a sample prayer in its mailing yesterday, which I thought was appropriate to use as a guide (see below).

hobby_lobby_300x225WASHINGTON (BP) — The fate of religious freedom for Americans, especially business owners, could hang in the balance when the U.S. Supreme Court convenes March 25.

The justices will hear oral arguments that day in challenges by two family owned corporations to the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate, which requires employers to provide abortion-causing drugs for their workers. Hobby Lobby, a nationwide retail chain based in Oklahoma City, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania business, contend the federal regulation violates their owners’ consciences and a 1993 law protecting religious liberty.

Religious freedom advocates predict the Supreme Court’s decision will be far-reaching.

The high court’s opinion “will determine the next 100 years of church/state jurisprudence,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Joshua Hawley, a lawyer assisting Hobby Lobby, described it as “a landmark case.”

“It has major significance for religious liberty” and “for what constitutional rights business owners can claim,” said Hawley, a member of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s legal team and an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law.

Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, explained to Baptist Press the consequences for not only the Green family, the evangelicals who own Hobby Lobby, and the Hahns, the pro-life Mennonite family that owns Conestoga Wood, but other people who seek to exercise their religious beliefs.

“If the Hahn and Green families lose, the door would be open to allow the government to force people of faith to pay massive fines threatening jobs and health coverage just simply because they are choosing not to violate their faith and conscience,” Bowman told BP in an email interview.

“If the Hahn and Green families win, it will protect religious liberty as promised in the Constitution and American law, and people of faith will not be subject to massive fines just because they don’t want to help destroy human life.”

P.S. You may also be interested in this infographic on the Hobby Lobby case.

The AFA offered this prayer as a guide for Christians today (You will want to adapt some of the wording to match your own convictions, but I hope you can appreciate its emphasis on the sovereignty of God.):

Lord God, Our Father, you are the Righteous Judge over all the earth. We pray that you will have mercy on the United States as the Supreme Court hears a case that will shape the balance between government power and freedom of religion.

Give words to the attorneys for Hobby Lobby as they argue that our free exercise of religion includes how Christians live and work, not just what we do when we gather for worship, so that whatever we do in word or deed, we may do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

God, enlighten the Justices of the Supreme Court to acknowledge that you alone are Lord of our consciences. Give the Court humility to recognize that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that you have instituted human government so that your people may serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before you, all the days of our life.

And Lord, give us grace and boldness to use the religious liberty that we still have to make your truth and mercy known. Amen.

Creation debate roils Bryan College | World

WORLD | Creation debate roils Bryan College | Daniel James Devine | March 7, 2014.

Creation vs evolutionIn a related story (to the quote posted earlier today) World magazine reported (March 7, 2014) on this significant development at Bryan College, a Christian college in Dayton, TN.

Of particular interest is the fact that the Biologos Foundation of Grand Rapids, MI, an organization leading the way in advancing the cause of theistic evolution, once again enters into the picture.

Here is part of World’s report. Read the rest at the link above.

In 1925, William Jennings Bryan defended a biblical account of the origins of life at the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tenn. This year, a statement on the origins of life has triggered a crisis at the lawyer’s namesake, Bryan College, an 84-year-old evangelical, nondenominational institution.

Students and faculty at Bryan are upset at a move last month by the school’s board of trustees to “clarify” that the college believes Adam and Eve were historical figures created directly by God. The board says the clarification does not change the school’s historical position on origins. But some at Bryan believe the board’s action was intended to force out professors who may be sympathetic to evolution, and think it was unfair to do so at a time when faculty contracts are due for renewal.

…Bryan College’s Statement of Belief is an eight-point doctrinal statement adopted at the time of the school’s founding in 1930. According to the school’s charter, the belief statement cannot be amended or changed, and trustees, officers, faculty, and staff must affirm it once a year. The fourth point in the statement says the school believes “that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death.”

Last month, the board of trustees adopted the following “clarification” statement: “We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”

Board Chairman John Haynes told me the clarification is not an amendment to the Statement of Belief, which may not be altered. “We are clarifying one point in the Statement of Belief, which has to do with the creation of Adam and Eve,” he said. “We’re saying this is the intent of that statement.”

Asked why the board felt it was necessary to make such a clarification at this time, Haynes simply said, “There seems to be some question as to the intent of the Statement of Belief. That’s the bottom line.”

An English professor at the school, Whit Jones, said the timing of the clarification had been a “puzzle” to many on faculty, but might have been sparked by recent writings from two of his colleagues: Kenneth Turner, a Bible professor, and Brian Eisenback, an associate professor of biology who graduated from Bryan College in 2002. Together, Turner and Eisenback are writing science education materials under a grant from The BioLogos Foundation, an organization in Grand Rapids, Mich., that promotes theistic evolution.

The Most Popular and Fastest Growing Bible Translation Isn’t What You Think It Is – ChristianityToday.com

The Most Popular and Fastest Growing Bible Translation Isn’t What You Think It Is | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com.

KJV-400thThink the King James Version (AV) is a dead translation and of little use to modern Christians? Think the NIV dominates people’s Bible reading like it has dominated the market? Think again!

I found this report, referenced by “CT” writer Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (March 13, 2014), to be quite revealing and encouraging! The venerable KJV is still… venerable (commanding respect because of its age and dignity)! Maybe in part because it still reads like the Word of God, unlike many of the modern versions. In any case, the KJV remains my version of choice and that of my denomination (the PRCA) – for many good reasons. If you would like to read more on this may I point you to this resource on the PRC website, or these on the PRC Evangelism site.

Here is a quote from the “CT” article. If you would like to read more on this, visit the link above.

When Americans reach for their Bibles, more than half of them pick up a King James Version (KJV), according to a new study advised by respected historian Mark Noll.

The 55 percent who read the KJV easily outnumber the 19 percent who read the New International Version (NIV). And the percentages drop into the single digits for competitors such as the New Revised Standard Version, New America Bible, and the Living Bible.

So concludes “The Bible in American Life,” a lengthy report by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Funded by the Lilly Foundation, researchers asked questions on what David Briggs of the ARDA, which first reported the results, calls “two of the most highly respected data sources for American religion”—the General Social Survey and the National Congregations Study.

The numbers are surprising, given the strong sales of NIV translations in bookstores. The NIV has topped the CBA’s bestselling Bible translation list for decades, and continued to sell robustly in 2013.

The high numbers of KJV readers confirm the findings of last year’s American Bible Society (ABS) State of the Bible report. On behalf of ABS, Barna Group found that 52 percent of Americans read the King James or the New King James Version, compared with 11 percent who read the NIV.

Baker Publishing Group Celebrates 75 Years

West Michigan Christian News – Baker Publishing Group Celebrates 75 Years.

Baker75th-2014My last few times in Baker Book Store in Grand Rapids reminded me that the Baker family of publishing is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. And when this news item appeared on West Michigan Christian News email today, I thought it was a good time to highlight their story and this event.

Baker recently remodeled their only store and it is a gem! Their new book section is beautiful and comes with all the modern amenities today’s readers and browsers want (cafe, casual sitting spots, wifi, etc.). Plus they have preserved their used book section, which remains large and plentiful. They always have a large discounted section on their new titles, which you don’t want to miss either.

When it comes to browsing and buying Christian books/music, etc. today, it is hard to beat the Baker experience. And I have learned that while browsing for bargains online is good to do from time to time, nothing beats the experience of visiting, browsing and supporting your real, local bookstore.

BBHStory-AByleHere is a part of the Baker story, as reported by Ann Byle (who has also written a book on it – see image to the right); read the rest at the WMC News link above.

Grand Rapids-based Baker Publishing Group is celebrating its 75th anniversary in April, a major milestone for the family-owned business that began with a small bookstore on Wealthy Street and is now one of the best-known Christian book publishers.

“Our vision to serve the needs of the church has remained unchanged from the beginning,” said Dwight Baker, CEO and president of Baker Publishing Group. “From my grandfather Herman Baker to my father Rich Baker and to me, that vision guides us as we continue to watch for opportunities to serve the church.”

Back to the beginning

Herman Baker was 14 when he and his family emigrated from the Netherlands. The oldest son of Ricco (Richard) and Jenny Kregel Baker quickly found part-time work in the bookstore owned by his uncle, Louis Kregel. Baker’s work in that small Christian bookstore fueled his dream to start his own.

Herman Baker opened Baker Book House in 1939 at 1019 Wealthy St. He paid $18 a month rent and put his 500 used books on homemade shelves. By 1949, Baker Book House was among the largest distributors of new and used religious books in the U.S. and around the world. Orders came from as far away as Korea, South Africa and Hungary, as well as from the next block.

Baker ventured into publishing just a year after opening the store, in 1940 publishing “More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation” by Calvin Seminary professor Dr. William Hendriksen. That book is still in print today.

Wheaton Students Protest ‘Train Wreck Conversion’ Speaker’s Ex-Gay Testimony – ChristianityToday.com

Wheaton Students Protest ‘Train Wreck Conversion’ Speaker’s Ex-Gay Testimony | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com.

marriagepic-1One of the hottest and most serious debates that continues in force in Evangelical circles at present is that relating to homosexuality. We are well-aware of (or should be!) what the unbelieving world world is pressing the church and the Christian community to do on this issue. And we also know how so many Christians and churches have caved in to this pressure and abandoned the clear testimony of Scripture on this sin. And the debate keeps getting closer and closer to us.

A week ago I pointed you to a powerful piece that Rosario C. Butterfield wrote as a followup to a chapel speech she recently gave at Wheaton College. She was responding to protesters who showed up to object to her views following her conversion from the homosexual lifestyle.

Christianity Today also reported on this protest and on the current debate among Evangelicals at present. It is worth your while to hear and see what is going on on Christian campuses today, because our own students are being exposed to these opposing views. And while homosexual supporters remain a minority, they are a very vocal minority, as you know.

Here is part of CT’s report; find all of it at the link above.

A recent student demonstration over a Wheaton College chapel speaker’s testimony on her religious and sexual conversion is the latest marker in the long-running debate over the way evangelical colleges approach sexual identity.

The protest focused on the personal testimony [listen/watch here] of a former leftist lesbian professor whose train-wreck conversion [CT's No. 2 most-read article of 2013] led her to become a pastor’s wife and Christian author.

Students Justin Massey and Jordan-Ashley Barney organized “More Than a Single Story,” the January 31 demonstration where Wheaton students sat on the steps of Edman Chapel and held signs that said “We’re all loved by God,” “This is not a protest,” and “I’m gay and a beloved child of God,” reports The Wheaton Record.

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