We have had these before from Publishers Weekly (as you will also see from the links imbeded in the introduction below), and they are always a healthy book-lovers challenge. Here’s the latest from “PW”, along with one of the “phantom covers”. These are tough ones, but see how you do. Enjoy!
Now that Fall is officially here – and the signs of it beginning to appear in the early Fall colors – this is a good time to be reminded of the amazing process the Lord of trees uses to transform their leaves from their normal green color into the brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds of this season. May we not take for granted this Fall the work of the world’s original and greatest Artist.
Originally posted on Michigan in Pictures:
Three years ago I posted this. It’s such good and useful information that I thought I’d share it again! #TBT?
The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves from the United States National Arboretum explains that process that starts the cascade of events that result in fall color is a growth process that starts in late summer or early autumn. When the nights get long enough, a layer of cells called the abscission layer forms that begins to block transport of materials from the leaf to the branch.
During the growing season, chlorophyll is replaced constantly in the leaves. Chlorophyll breaks down with exposure to light in the same way that colored paper fades in sunlight. The leaves must manufacture new chlorophyll to replace chlorophyll that is lost in this way. In autumn, when the connection between the leaf and the rest of the…
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Just a reminder that the RFPA’s annual meeting is TONIGHT in Grandville PRC. Those in the Grand Rapids area – and beyond – are encouraged to attend, whether you are an association member or not. You may always join tonight!
Certainly part of the interest in the meeting is the inspirational speech. Following up on last year’s great speech on the importance of reading, Rev.C.Spronk (Peace PRC, Lansing, IL) will give a talk on “The Importance of Reading Church History”.
Below is part of the notice of the meeting found on the RFPA website. Visit the link above for more information. But know too, that the meeting will be live-streamed from Grandville PRC via their website.
In the Nicene Creed the church confesses that there is only “one holy catholic and apostolic church.” This means that the Christian faith and life of the true church of Jesus Christ as she is manifested today in various denominations and congregations is rooted in the church of the past. Times may have changed but the church today shares with the church of the past the same Lord, the same faith, the same battle, the same hope, and the same purpose—to bring glory to name of our great God. The church must be conscious of her past history in order to be sure that she is continuing on the right path. In other words the study of church history is important.
The study of church history is all the more important because of the constant attack of enemies who seek to knock her off of the “old paths.” Satan desires that the members of the church be ignorant of their history. Lack of interest in church history plays into the evil one’s hands. Church history can then be distorted and used to spread false doctrine and support wicked behavior, as is often attempted today. The study of church history is an important part of the battle of faith she must wage to remain faithful to God.
Hope to see you there!
Over the course of the last month since the PRC Seminary opened its doors for another year of instruction, we have been examining the thoughts of Presbyterian pastor and Seminary professor (Princeton) Samuel Miller as contained in his address, “The Duty of the Church to Take Measures for Providing an Able and Faithful Ministry”. This sermon was delivered on August 12, 1812 on the occasion of the installation of Archibald Alexander as the first professor of the new Princeton Seminary.
In the last few weeks we noted that in his last point on what the church can and ought to do to ensure “an able and faithful ministry” – namely, start its own Seminary school specifically for training pastors – Miller included some additional ideas which relate to why the church ought to have its own minister school. We continue to quote from this section today, posting a portion that speaks to the importance of united church Seminary education for the unity and peace of the church – another (perhaps obvious but) great point!
Further, when the church herself provides the means of instruction for her own ministry (at a public seminary), she will, of course, be furnished with ministers who have enjoyed, in some measure, a uniform course of education; who have derived their knowledge from the same masters, and the same approved fountains, and who may, therefore, be expected to agree in their views of evangelical truth and order. There will thus be the most effectual provision made, speaking after the manner of men, for promoting the unity and peace of the church.
Whereas, if every candidate for the holy ministry is instructed by a different master, each of whom may be supposed to have his peculiarities of expression and opinion (especially about minor points of doctrine and discipline), the harmony of our ecclesiastical judicatories will gradually be impaired; and strife, and perhaps eventually schism, may be expected to arise in our growing and happy church.
Today we can also call attention to this important notice from Dr.David Murray (professor at Puritan Reformed Seminary here in Grand Rapids, MI), who enlisted help in serving those with mental illness, out of which need arose a small eBook that guides pastors, counselors, and church members.
If you have seen this need in the church or in your family firsthand and struggled with how to help, this significant book may help. It is available as a free download through the link provided on Murray’s blog post.
Here is the first part of that post, explaining how this book came to be.
I was excited to find in my mailbox at church Sunday the latest offering from the Reformed Free Publishing Association – an important and significant new commentary on the last three prophecies of the OT. The 527 page book is authored by Rev.Ronald Hanko and carries the title, The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer: The Prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2014). The author is a Protestant Reformed pastor, ordained since 1979 and currently serving the Lynden, WA congregation.
In the “Foreword”, former parishioner Joel Sugg, provides this perspective of this new commentary:
The full commentary on each book may be read with great profit by virtue of the author’s trained, experienced, and studied insights. Three perspectives stand out: first, a living picture of Judah in the generation following the return from the Babylonian captivity with her special charge to reform true worship of God; next, a sharp delineation of the truth that these ancient prophecies especially have direct and significant application to us as the church today; and finally, a humble bowing in living fearfulness before the one only true God of heaven and earth, Jehovah of the scriptures, who sovereignly carries out his absolute rule over all to its culmination in the unconditional, covenantal salvation of his church, all to his own honor and glory alone (vii).
And the author provides this overview of these three prophecies in his “Introduction”:
The three prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi form a unit, not only because these three and they alone are the prophets of the restoration, that is, of Judah’s return from exile in Babylon, but also because they have the same general theme and purpose. That one great purpose is the preparation of God’s covenant people for the coming of Christ.
..Thus these prophecies continue to be of value to the covenant people of God, for the church is still waiting for the realization of God’s promises concerning the coming of Messiah, promises that will not be entirely fulfilled until he returns at the end of the ages. Though the types and shadows of the Old Testament have already vanished, the people of God must still be reminded to lift up their heads and see that their redemption draws near (Luke 21:28). They need to look away from a perishing world and be watching and waiting for the coming of a kingdom that will never be moved (xi).
It should be evident that this commentary would make for a fine addition to your Reformed home library and/or church library. And with Bible study season here, this volume will be an excellent guide through an oft-neglected and frequently misinterpreted portion of God’s Word.
Visit the RFPA website for details on obtaining your copy. And think about joining the book club to receive these new titles automatically, so as to build a solid Reformed library that will benefit you and your family for years to come.
*P.S. If any of our readers are interested in receiving a review copy of this book for the Standard Bearer, let me know and I will obtain one for you. Thanks!
The third feature article on this month’s Tabletalk theme (“The Church and the Parachurch”) is the above-linked one by Dr.Sean M.Lucas, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Hattiesburg, MS.
While also defending the proper place of parachurch organizations, Lucas emphasizes “the centrality of the church” in the purpose and work of the Lord in saving and building up His people. He uses the analogy of the church as our spiritual mother to bring out his main points:
- “Love Mother First”
- “Mother’s Means” (as in means of grace)
- “Mother’s Helpers” (here is where he defends the place of organizations alongside the church institute)
I again appreciated and benefited from this article on the theme. I leave you with a quote from the first part of it, encouraging you to read the rest for your own spiritual profit.
To benefit further from the Word of God in Psalm 149, we also post here the comments of the great Reformer John Calvin on vss.1 and 2. It may be noted that Calvin places this Psalm in the post-exile period of Israel’s history, that is, after the return from captivity. Keep that in mind as you also profit from his thoughts.
1. Sing to Jehovah a new song.
The object, I think, of the Psalmist, is to encourage them to expect the full and complete deliverance, some prelude of which had been suddenly and unexpectedly given in the permission to return. As the Church was not fully restored at once, but was with difficulty and only after a long period brought to a state of vigor, comfort such as this was much needed. The Spirit of God would also furnish a remedy for evils which were afterwards to break out; for the Church had scarcely begun to respire when it was again harassed with various evils, and oppressed by the cruel tyranny of Antiochus, which was followed up by a dreadful dispersion.
The Psalmist had good reason therefore for animating the godly to look forward for the full accomplishment of the mercy of God, that they might be persuaded of divine protection until such time as the Messiah should arise who would gather all Israel. He calls this a new song, as we have noticed elsewhere, to distinguish it from those with which the saints commonly and daily praised God, for praise is their continued exercise.
It follows that he speaks of some rare and unusual benefit, demanding signal and particular thanksgiving. And I am disposed to think that whoever may have been the author of the Psalm, he alludes to that passage in Isaiah, (Isaiah 42:10,) “Sing unto the Lord a new song,” when he speaks of the future restoration of the Church, and the eternal kingdom of Christ.
2. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker.
He insists upon the same point, that the Lord’s people should rest firmly persuaded that their family had not been chosen out in vain from the rest of the world, but that God would be mindful of his covenant, and not allow the mercies which he had extended to them to fail or become extinct. Although they had been temporarily deprived of the inheritance of the land of Canaan, which was the pledge of their adoption, the Psalmist calls God their Maker, and king of the sons of Zion, to remind them that when adopted to a pre-eminency above other nations, this was a species of new creation.
So in Psalm 45:6, the Israelites are called “the work of God’s hands,” not merely because they were like other men created by him, but because he had formed them anew, and distinguished them with a new honor, that, of being separated front the whole human race.
As our glorious Savior and King calls us once again this day to worship Him in “the congregation of saints”, we may prepare ourselves by considering the fourth “Hallelujah” psalm, Psalm 149. As you read through this portion of God’s Word, you will find it to be a joyful summons to praise the Lord, and as such, fitting for our public worship today in God’s house with His people.
In fact, v.2 specifically enjoins us to praise the Lord in public with our fellow saints, a point the Nelson Study Bible points out nicely: “One of the primary emphases in the Book of Psalms is that the praise of God is to take place in the center of the worshiping community. Praise unites the people of God (33:1-3)”.
Yes, and what a blessing it is that we are still able to do this openly and unhindered in our land! Let us not take this for granted, but thank our God for it. And let us gladly take advantage of every opportunity to gather with God’s people in praise our God! This Lord’s Day again affords us such opportunities.
The call to praise and worship the Lord, also as we have it here in Psalm 149, includes the fact that we must do so in joy. Notice that element too as you read this psalm (especially vss.2,5). God will not have us stand before Him with grumpy spirits, offering up grudging praise. He will not have us sing a new song with an old man soul, nor dance before Him with dragging feet and drooping hands.
No, He is the God of joy, the happy and blessed God, and in our worship He will have us match what He is, in spirit and in behavior. So let us rejoice and be joyful in our singing and dancing and playing (of instruments) this day (vss.2-3). Let us skip and sing, from renewed and thankful hearts. Why? Because God takes pleasure in us (Can you imagine that?!)! Because He will beautify the meek with salvation (v.4)! Yes, be clothed with Christ and you will have joy, boundless and endless joy!
You will also notice a “twist” in Psalm 149. The worshiping people of God go from joyful praise to swinging a two-edged sword and executing vengeance and judgment on the heathen (vss.6-9). What is going on? Why this? Because the church of Christ is at all times in this present world also the army of God. Always she is surrounded by her and His enemies, who hate and oppose her and Him. And against these foes she must do battle, fighting in the Lord’s name. As she marches into her holy warfare singing God’s praises, she is also to swing His sword of judgment.
While in the OT that warfare took on a physical form, with real swords and literal vengeance (as in the church’s conquest of Canaan), now the NT church swings the sword of the Lord’s Word, chiefly the preaching of the gospel among the nations. Yet, also when we sing God’s Word (as in these psalms!), we are wielding the “sword of the Lord” and executing His judgments against unbelieving enemies.
Let us be mindful of that too as we worship today. Worship is serious and dangerous business. Not only because we stand in the presence of the sovereign, all-glorious King of heaven and earth. But also because we are the instruments of His judgments on the wicked. May that humble us, so that we sing God’s praises and swing His sword only under the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ.
Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
2Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
4For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
5Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
7To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
8To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
9To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.
If you desire to meditate on Psalm 149 through music, I encourage you to listen to one of the versifications of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification, titled “The Promise of Victory” to get you started (Visit the link to hear piano accompaniment and sing along.):
1. O praise ye the Lord
And sing a new song,
Amid all His saints
His praises prolong;
The praise of their Maker
His people shall sing,
And children of Zion
Rejoice in their King.
2. With timbrel and harp
And joyful acclaim,
With gladness and mirth,
Sing praise to His Name;
For God in His people
His pleasure doth seek,
With robes of salvation
He clotheth the meek.
3. In glory exult,
Ye saints of the Lord;
With songs in the night
High praises accord;
Go forth in His service
And strong in His might
To conquer all evil
And stand for the right.
4. For this is His word:
His saints shall not fail,
But over the earth
Their power shall prevail;
All kingdoms and nations
Shall yield to their sway.
To God give the glory
And praise Him for aye.
In the last week on one of the Association of Christian Librarians member forums a post was made calling attention to the travesty taking place in Iraq and other Middle eastern countries as ISIS (the miliant Islamic group) marches through attempting to take control and establish its own state.
The travesty involves its determined goal to wipe out the culture and heritage of that country, including its ancient Christian heritage, by stealing and selling or destroying its libraries, archives, artifacts, and archaeological sites. Many of these are from ancient Biblical times, such as the Mesopotamia region and ancient cities such as Nineveh and Ashur.
You will find this detailed report from the Iraq Heritage Senior Fellow and archaeologist himself, dated September 8, 2014, and titled “Iraq’s Heritage Is Facing a New Wave of Destruction”. And this report from the American Historical Association is also informative.
On the ACL forum these bullets were given summarizing some basic facts (with brief commentary).
The ISIS activities that are related to libraries and other information services can be summarised as follows [with my explanatory commentary in brackets]:
– According to ISIS law, libraries should not exist and must be demolished.
– ISIS wants to diversify and expand its financial resources to include the lucrative trade of antiquities. [This could be assumed to include the sale of rare books and manuscripts.]
– Mosul museum, the second large museum in Iraq, has been occupied by ISIS and its staff cannot enter to check its valuable collections. [The Museum Library was established about 50 years ago, and has a substantial collection.]
– Churches and monasteries were either burned or, when occupied, ISIS stole the contents. [Many of the monasteries in northern Iraq are known to have retained collections of ancient manuscripts]
– Mosques and shrines were destroyed by explosions and bulldozers. [These may also have had collections of ancient manuscripts]
– Government buildings have been destroyed by ISIS. [It is not clear whether these include the provincial records and archives centre, but it could be assumed that some recent government records have been lost.]
– ISIS has taken over public libraries in Ninawa and Diyala provinces. [These must be assumed to be under threat of destruction.]
Professor Ian Johnson,
Chief Editor, IFLA/De Gruyter series: ‘Global Studies in Libraries and Information’
This is certainly something to be aware of and of which to stay informed. Of course, with this has been joined the open persecution of Iraq’s Christian population, many of whom have fled. Watch the news for reports of this evil and destructive activity.