What the ‘death of the library’ means for the future of books – The Week

What the ‘death of the library’ means for the future of books – The Week.

DigitalLibraryAs the traditional library continues to take a beating in modern technology’s world of ideas, there are those who continue to rise to her defense. This article by S.E.Smith for “The Daily Dot” is a case in point (posted August 18, 2014). Again, though written from a secular perspective, the article points out well the significance of libraries throughout the history of the world.

And I hope in the light of this significance that you will continue to make use of the tremendous resources found in your local libraries. And maybe even the PRC Seminary’s. :)

Forbes contributor Tim Worstall wants us to close public libraries and buy everyone an Amazon Kindle with an unlimited subscription. “Why wouldn’t we simply junk the physical libraries and purchase an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription for the entire country?” he asks. Worstall points to substantial savings on public funds, arguing that people would have access to a much larger collection of books through a Kindle Unlimited subscription than they could get through any public library and that the government would spend far less on a bulk subscription for all residents than it ever would on funding libraries.

Is he right? Are libraries obsolete? He might be correct — but only if libraries were just about books, which they are not. Libraries are actually an invaluable public and social resource that provide so much more than simple shelves of books (or, for those in rural areas, a Bookmobile like the one this author grew up with). A world without public libraries is a grim one indeed, and the assault on public libraries should be viewed as alarming.

The Ordinary Christian Church – Sean Michael Lucas

The Ordinary Christian Church by Sean Michael Lucas | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August 2014The above-linked article is the final main feature one on the August theme of “The Ordinary Christian Life”, an article I was able to get to yesterday. This article on our “ordinary” life in the church is written by PCA pastor Sean Michael Lucas and describes how vital a consistent life in a faithful, local Reformed church is.

Read it and be encouraged to continue in this part of the “ordinary” Christian life.

One of the key contributions of the Reformation—and of Protestantism generally—has been its emphasis upon the ordinariness of the church. To be sure, John Calvin would approve of Cyprian’s observation that the church is our mother and “away from her bosom one cannot hope for any forgiveness of sins or any salvation,” or as the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches, “The visible church … is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation” (25.2). The church is God’s normal place of grace. However, God’s grace does not come through an extraordinary display; rather, God uses His ordinary church to sustain and nourish believers through ordinary ministry, people, and means.

…As this ordinary church gathers—ordinary men and women served by an ordinary ministry—it finds God working through ordinary means. The Westminster Shorter Catechism refers to the “ordinary means of grace” as the Word, sacraments, and prayer. Though these ordinary means look simple and even foolish to some, God uses them in powerful ways, for He makes them “effectual to the elect for salvation” (Q&A 88; see 1 Cor. 1:18-31).

In the reading and especially the preaching of the Bible, God works to convict and convert sinners and to convict and comfort the saints, that is, all believers. In the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God works to confirm His Word and assure our hearts through the work of His Spirit and the response of our faith. In our prayers, God works in our hearts and lives as we offer up our desires to God. Through His working, God makes these ordinary means effectual for our salvation (WSC 89-91). That is, they confirm and sanctify us in Christ as we await our glorification.

The ordinary Christian church does not need the latest fads to draw sinners or seekers. Instead, it needs these ordinary means along with faith in the God who uses these means. Surely one of the great crises in our own day is the crisis of confidence and faith in the ordinary means of grace. God is calling us to remember once again that He does not need extraordinary experiences or events; rather, He delights to use these ordinary means to do His work in people’s lives.

Koinonia: Why Study Biblical Hebrew? Neglect the Languages, Lose the Gospel, Says Luther!

Koinonia: Why Study Biblical Hebrew? Neglect the Languages, Lose the Gospel, Says Luther!.

MLutherPicWith the opening of Seminary classes less than a week away now (next Monday, August 25 for registration and Tuesday, August 26 for actual classes) and students returning for grueling Greek and Hebrew sessions, I found this article on the Koinonia website interesting (other than its lousy reference to “common” grace!).

Jeremy Bouma – turning to the wisdom of Martin Luther – highlights why it is necessary for students to learn the original languges. The quote from Luther is worth the look (see below), but the rest is profitable too.

Here’s the opening part with some vintage Luther; find the rest at the “Koinonia” link above (or below):

In a week Hebrew and Greek professors will be confronted with that perennial one word question:

Why?

Why study the original biblical languages?

The Reformation reminds us why. “Ad fontes!”—To the fountains, or sources!—was their battle cry for a reason. For it was when Reformation Europe rediscovered the ancient languages that the Bible’s impact as a shaping force accelerated.

In fact, after his conversion, Martin Luther was convinced that “we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” He goes on:

The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall…lose the gospel… (emphasis added, 120)

Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt highlight Luther’s convictions in Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. In addition to teaching the language itself, they provide inspiring insights in the importance of studying the biblical language.

I often need to be reminded how crucial this is for my vocation. Today brother Luther provides five insights into why the languages are vital, not only for our profession, but for the gospel itself.

- See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/08/why-study-biblical-hebrew-neglect-the-languages-lose-the-gospel-says-luther.html?

In a week Hebrew and Greek professors will be confronted with that perennial one word question:

Why?

Why study the original biblical languages?

The Reformation reminds us why. “Ad fontes!”—To the fountains, or sources!—was their battle cry for a reason. For it was when Reformation Europe rediscovered the ancient languages that the Bible’s impact as a shaping force accelerated.

In fact, after his conversion, Martin Luther was convinced that “we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” He goes on:

The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall…lose the gospel… (emphasis added, 120)

Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt highlight Luther’s convictions in Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. In addition to teaching the language itself, they provide inspiring insights in the importance of studying the biblical language.

I often need to be reminded how crucial this is for my vocation. Today brother Luther provides five insights into why the languages are vital, not only for our profession, but for the gospel itself.

- See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/08/why-study-biblical-hebrew-neglect-the-languages-lose-the-gospel-says-luther.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29#sthash.O3I0sGt2.dpuf

In a week Hebrew and Greek professors will be confronted with that perennial one word question:

Why?

Why study the original biblical languages?

The Reformation reminds us why. “Ad fontes!”—To the fountains, or sources!—was their battle cry for a reason. For it was when Reformation Europe rediscovered the ancient languages that the Bible’s impact as a shaping force accelerated.

In fact, after his conversion, Martin Luther was convinced that “we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” He goes on:

The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall…lose the gospel… (emphasis added, 120)

Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt highlight Luther’s convictions in Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. In addition to teaching the language itself, they provide inspiring insights in the importance of studying the biblical language.

I often need to be reminded how crucial this is for my vocation. Today brother Luther provides five insights into why the languages are vital, not only for our profession, but for the gospel itself.

- See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/08/why-study-biblical-hebrew-neglect-the-languages-lose-the-gospel-says-luther.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29#sthash.O3I0sGt2.dpuf

Why We Love to Read | Challies Dot Com

Why We Love to Read | Challies Dot Com.

I also enjoyed this homey and summery illustration from Tim Challies last week (posted August 13, 2014). If you fish, you will make the connection. But, even if you don’t, you can appreciate the image and the lesson.

Here’s the heart of his point; read the rest of this brief post at the link above.

I do not fish, but I do read, and I find them similar. The avid reader takes in book after book, day after day, searching each one, looking carefully for those few but important ideas. Four hundred pages—or eight hundred—is a small price to pay for an idea. It is a small price to pay for knowledge that leads to application that leads to life change.

Sometimes you need to do a lot of reading to come away with one really good idea. Some books yield nothing but nonsense; some yield nothing but ideas you have come across a thousands times before. But then, at last, you find that one that delivers. There is such joy in it. Such reward.

Yes, that IS why I love to read. And fish. :)

Published in: on August 19, 2014 at 4:58 PM  Comments (1)  

The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself – The New Yorker

The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself – The New Yorker.

SofareadingI came on this article late last week in one of my (e)mailings, and found it interesting (posted August 13, 2014). The perspective presented here on reading is not that of a  Christian, yet it is profitable. It may also seem to be self-centered, but I believe it contains some good thoughts about how our reading (even for pleasure) ought to challenge us mentally and emotionally. And I would add, for the sake of us Christians, spiritually.

So, read with discretion (there are other points made here with which we would take issue – e.g., what one reads), but benefit from the valuable thoughts here about reading to be stretched. And maybe you want to think about keeping a record book of your reading. It’s not too late. Read on!

But there are pleasures to be had from books beyond being lightly entertained. There is the pleasure of being challenged; the pleasure of feeling one’s range and capacities expanding; the pleasure of entering into an unfamiliar world, and being led into empathy with a consciousness very different from one’s own; the pleasure of knowing what others have already thought it worth knowing, and entering a larger conversation. Among my catalogue are some books that I am sure I was—to use an expression applied to elementary-school children—decoding rather than reading. Such, I suspect, was the case with “Ulysses,” a book I read at eighteen, without having first read “The Odyssey,” which might have deepened my appreciation of Joyce. Even so—and especially when considering adolescence—we should not underestimate the very real pleasure of being pleased with oneself. What my notebook offers me is a portrait of the reader as a young woman, or at the very least, a sketch. I wanted to read well, but I also wanted to become well read. The notebook is a small record of accomplishment, but it’s also an outline of large aspiration. There’s pleasure in ambition, too.

Published in: on August 19, 2014 at 6:55 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The Ordinary Christian Family – Tedd Tripp

The Ordinary Christian Family by Tedd Tripp | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August 2014Continuing to make my way through the featured articles on “The Ordinary Christian Life” in this month’s Tabletalk, I read yesterday the above-linked article by Dr.Tedd Tripp.

Pointing out at the outset how marriage and the family are under serious and severe attack in our day, Tripp nevertheless shows us from the Word of God (with clarity, confidence, and encouragement!) what God’s norm is for the Christian family. Breaking down the “ordinary Christian family” into three callings, he explains how the family is 1) a school of theology; 2) a school of social relationship; and 3) a school for understanding the gospel.

You would be well-profited to read the entire article, but I give you that section where he explains how the Christian family is a “school of theology”. Follow the Ligonier link above to read the rest.

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

God’s call for ordinary living is summed up in the two tables of the law: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Mark 12:30-31). Loving God and loving others is a good description of the ordinary Christian family.

The family as a school of theology is the first table of the law. The family is the place for being mesmerized by the wonder of who God is and for instilling in children a profound sense of the glory of God. The psalmist puts it like this: “One generation shall commend your works to another” (Ps. 145:4). What does this look like? What do you talk about as one generation commending God to the next? Psalm 145 tells us. It means meditating on the glorious splendor of God’s majesty; speaking of God’s majestic deeds; declaring His greatness; pouring out the fame of His abundant goodness; singing of His righteousness; speaking of the glory of His kingdom; talking of His kindness; speaking His praise (145:4-20). Love for God is instilled as we meditate on His glory and goodness. Children cannot be brought to delight in God in a conceptual vacuum. And if parents are to show their children God’s glory, they, too, must be dazzled by God. The family is a school of theology.

Dr. Tedd Tripp is an author, conference speaker, and elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Hazelton, Pa. He is author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart and, with his wife, Margy, Instructing a Child’s Heart.

J.Calvin on Psalm 146: “…So many reasons why we should hope in him.”

JCalvinPic1For our further meditation on Psalm 146 today, we include this commentary of John Calvin on vss.7ff., where he remarks on the character and works of God that call us to hope in Him and to praise Him. May His words encourage us to see God for Who He is and to fall down before Him in perfect (complete) trust and adoration.

7. Rendering right, etc.

He instances other kinds both of the power and goodness of God, which are just so many reasons why we should hope in him. All of them bear upon the point, that the help of God will be ready and forthcoming to those who are in the lowest circumstances, that accordingly our miseries will be no barrier in the way of his helping us; nay, that such is his nature, that he is disposed to assist all in proportion to their necessity.

He says first, that God renders justice to the oppressed, to remind us that although in the judgment of sense God connives at the injuries done to us, he will not neglect the duty which properly belongs to him of forcing the wicked to give an account of their violence. As God, in short, would have the patience of his people tried, he here expressly calls upon the afflicted not to faint under their troubles, but composedly wait for deliverance from one who is slow in interposing, only that he may appear eventually as the righteous judge of the world.

It follows, that he gives bread to the hungry. We learn from this that he is not always so indulgent to his own as to load them with abundance, but occasionally withdraws his blessing, that he may succor them when reduced to hunger. Had the Psalmist said that God fed his people with abundance, and pampered them, would not any of those under want or in famine have immediately desponded? The goodness of God is therefore properly extended farther to the feeding of the hungry.

What is added is to the same purpose — that he looses them that are bound, and enlightens the blind. As it is the fate of his people to be straitened by anxiety, or pressed down by human tyranny, or reduced to extremity, in a manner equivalent to being shut up in the worst of dungeons, it was necessary to announce, by way of comfort, that God can easily find an outgate for us when brought into such straits.

To enlighten the blind is the same with giving light in the midst of darkness. When at any time we know not what to do — are in perplexity, and lie confounded and dismayed, as if the darkness of death had fallen upon us — let us learn to ascribe this title to God, that he may dissipate the gloom and open our eyes. So when he is said to raise up the bowed down, we are taught to take courage when weary and groaning under any burden.

Nor is it merely that God would here have his praises celebrated; he in a manner stretches out his hand to the blind, the captives, and the afflicted, that they may cast their grief’s and cares upon him. There is a reason for repeating the name Jehovah three times. In this way he stimulates and excites men to seek him who will often rather chafe and pine away in their miseries, than betake themselves to this sure asylum.

What is added in the close of the verse — that Jehovah loves the righteous, would seem to be a qualification of what was formerly said. There are evidently many who, though they are grievously afflicted, and groan with anxiety, and lie in darkness, experience no comfort from God; and this because in such circumstances they provoke God more by their contumacy, and by failing for the most part to seek his mercy, reap the just reward of their unthankfulness.

The Psalmist therefore very properly restricts what he had said in general terms of God’s helping the afflicted, to the righteous — that those who wish to experience his deliverance, may address themselves to him in the sincere exercise of godliness.

Continual Repentance – The Valley of Vision

Continual Repentance | Banner of Truth USA.

After a week of self-examination – and praying for God’s examination of us -(we heard this sermon last Sunday night in our preparatory service)  we anticipate the Lord’s day tomorrow and our celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

ValleyofVisionThinking of this – of my ever-present sin and the need for continual repentance – and of the cross of my precious Savior, where my sins, and the sins of all repentant believers, were blotted out forever – I came on this prayer/meditation taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.

It is wonderfully appropriate as we end this week and look forward to receiving the gospel of grace in audible form (preaching) and visible form (sacrament) tomorrow. May God bless your preparation for entering His presence to worship Him and to receive His Word.

O GOD OF GRACE,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
      and hast imputed his righteousness
    to my soul,
  clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
  decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
  my best prayers are stained with sin;
  my penitential tears are so much impurity;
  my confessions of wrong are so many
    aggravations of sin;
  my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
  no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
  and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
  for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
  and always returning home as a prodigal,
  always saying, Father, forgive me,
  and thou art always bringing forth
    the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
  every evening return in it,
  go out to the day’s work in it,
  be married in it,
  be wound in death in it,
  stand before the great white throne in it,
  enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
  the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
  the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
  the exceeding glory of Christ,
  the exceeding beauty of holiness,
  the exceeding wonder of grace.

To find all of these Puritan devotions, visit the Banner of Truth link above.

The Story of the Wrigley Field Ivy (2)

LittlePlaceonNorthSide-GFWillLast week we began to relate the story of how the ivy came to be placed on the walls of beloved Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. That story is told by George F. Will in his great book marking the 100th anniversary of Wrigley this year: A Nice Little Place on the North Side (Crown Archetype, 2014).

The first part of that history involved trees. Trees in the bleachers. Trees which didn’t last very long.

The second part involved bittersweet – and ivy. Let’s allow Will to tell us how it came to be:

Veeck had planned to plant the ivy after the season (1937 -cjt). However, the day before the team returned from a long road trip to end the season with a short home stand, Wrigley told Veeck he had invited some friends to the next day’s game to see the ivy. But Veeck had not yet bought it. A specialist at a nursery was consulted. He said ivy could not be deployed in one night. Veeck asked what could be. The specialist answered with one word: ‘Bittersweet.’ He was not a philosophic merchant commenting on the human condition; neither was he summing up the experience of being a Cub fan. Rather, he was recommending a plant with that name. So that night Veeck and Wrigley Field’s groundskeeper strung light bulbs along the outfield wall to illuminate their work, and by morning the wall was entirely covered with bittersweet. In its midst they planted ivy, which eventually took over the wall.

And with that bittersweet-ivy idea went a few accolades, including one from a local writer:

On September 17, 1937, the Chicago Tribune carried a story with this headline: ‘New Wrigley Field Blooms in Scenic Beauty – and Scoffers Rush to Apologize.’ One of those scoffers was the author of the story, Edward Burns, who had written a series of grumpy reports about changes under way at the field, including enlargement of the bleachers. Now, however, he was prepared to ‘emboss an apologetic scroll to P.K.Wrigley, owner of the most artistic ballpark in the majors.’ Burns estimated that the park was valued at $3 million (pp.88-89).

Reading Parents and Ready (Seminary) Sons

As you may know, the Beacon Lights magazine (for PR Young People – and adults!) is currently doing a series of articles from our ministers (mainly our newer and younger ones) under the title “Called to the Ministry”. But did you know that such articles were also written in the past in the “BL”?

Rev_KorteringWhile continuing to sort through Rev.Gise Van Baren’s folders for the PRC archives yesterday, we found an old “BL” article (Vol.36, #9 – January, 1978) with the title “Called to the Ministry” written by Rev. Jason Kortering (pastor of Hope PRC, Redlands, CA at the time and now an emeritus minister in the PRC). In it he tells his story of how he was led into the ministry.

And what struck me was what he said not only about how his godly parents encouraged him and prayed for him with regard to the ministry, but also and especially how the enthusiastic reading of his father served as a powerful example and impetus for him to enter the ministry of the Word.

Here are a couple of portions from the article, the full version of which you may find here. I pray that this will inspire other godly fathers to show such zeal for the truth by reading, that it would spur your sons to consider the call to the ministry. Fathers and mothers, may you see what fruit your godly reading may have by the purpose and providence of God.

After a ten year absence they (Rev.Kortering’s parents) finally moved to Holland, Michigan and there settled down. The Lord provided a job at the Artic (sic) Ice Cream Co. While working there he met a fellow employee who was full of heavenly zeal. She had read a copy of the Standard Bearer and was impressed and wanted my father to read it. This initial contact with Revs. Hoeksema and Ophoff started my father to think and read. He purchased a subscription to the Standard Bearer and read all the literature he could get his hands on. It fell like water from heaven upon his parched soul.

…Seeing the truth was like a conversion experience for my father. He saw for the first time the real meaning of the sovereignty of God. It was more than a doctrine, it was a way of life! God owned everything and required obedience in all areas of life. This became the governing principle of his life: God was sovereign, grace was absolute. He couldn’t read enough and he was always reading. He sent to England for sovereign grace material. It came by the crates full. He sorted it out, saving the good Reformed material, burning the rest.

Through it all my father had one inner desire, that the Lord would call his son to the ministry. He could envision nothing more glorious than seeing his own son preach the gospel of the sovereign God….

If there ever is an example of a minister being influenced by parents to enter the ministry, it is in my life. Both parents earnestly desired this, encouraged me to study for it, prayed about it.

The Lord used my parents, especially my father, as the means to confront me with the serious consideration to become a minister.

…May the accounting of this remind us that God does use parents in influencing their children. It was not of them, it was of God. His will prevailed.

For that I give Him thanks.

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