Friday Recap of Seminary Week (and a Little Library Fun Too)

It was an exciting week at the PRC Seminary, especially weather-wise (no major storms this week!) and new addition-wise (what progress this week!).

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On the weather front, we started with a few inches of snow Sunday night and Monday morning, and it was cold – due in part to clear skies and a February “super moon.” But then we had some glorious sunny weather and two beautiful sunrises in a row.

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Today too (Friday) was a gorgeous day, with temperatures in the low 40s (F). Which leads us into the next subject – the new addition being constructed. When we left off last time, we were in the throes of winter storms and the work had slowed down. But the hardy handymen hung in there and finished their work, starting with the “Bouwkamp brickies.”

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Yesterday they completed their brick-laying on the north wall, and today they returned to take down the scaffolding and clean up (“brickies” are not as bad as plumbers, but they’re still messy!). It’s a great-looking masonry job, don’t you think?

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But now that last picture gives away what else happened this week – yes, indeed, the trusses for the “second” roof went up (remember the first roof that went over the new archive room and future workroom consisted of concrete planks and a rubber seal – like a “pool” to collect any water this second roof may let through)!

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Monday morning the trusses were delivered, and yesterday and today the Bosveld crew went to work setting them and then the base boards of the roof, including plastic and a bit of tar paper. The weather was good and the gang amazingly efficient.

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In no time it all, it seemed, the roof was on, and a new look emerged inside. Exciting! And just in time for our latest challenge – another winter storm forecast for Sunday and Monday, with high winds part of the picture. We shall see if the “BBs” (Bosveld builders) put it all together firmly. 🙂 (I have utmost confidence.)

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Speaking of challenges, we had one of another kind this week. There can be a “down side” to all the nice sunshine and fairer temps this time of year, especially for flat roofs after snow and ice have built up. Thursday at noon a small gusher erupted right over Sem. Matt K’s study carrel, barely missing his books and papers. So a certain fellow took time after lunch to climb up on the roof and get rid of the snow and ice so as to cut off the source of said dripping. It was over the library, after all, so I suppose the librarian should tend to it. 🙂

And the good news is that the gusher stopped shortly thereafter, a fan set overnight dried up the wet carpeting, and Sem. Kortus returned to his own carrel today. O, and the roofing repair company came out today to find and fix the leaks! Thankful we are for all the folks in construction, new and old.

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Inside the seminary, we had another blessed week of instruction, learning, devotions, and fellowship. Sem. Josiah T. led us in devotions this week, and took us through Genesis 1. The singing was good, which led me to make this video – something about a group of men singing acappella.

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Finally, in a non-seminary-related matter but still connected to books and libraries, a friend sent me this link today to a very cool “little free library” in the beautiful town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

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Here’s the first part of the story; read the rest here. And thanks, Matt M. for passing this on. He knows these stories really get me excited!

In the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, known to many as a sleepy lakefront resort town, a woman named Sharalee Armitage Howard has turned a dying 110-year-old black cottonwood tree into a magical library.

Stone steps lead up the sloped front yard to what remains of the tree. The 10-foot-tall trunk has a shingled roof that extends a little over the edges. A lantern-style lamp lights a row of tiny faux wooden books that make up the library’s decorative dentil molding. The real books, however, are visible through a vintage window-turned-door. The door itself features hardware that looks like it would have been at home in Middle Earth.

Have a great weekend, wherever you are! And remember to take time to read. 🙂

The Canons of Dordt and Missions – Rev. D. Kleyn (Feb.15, 2019 “Standard Bearer”)

sb-logo-rfpaThe latest issue of the Standard Bearer (February 15, 2019) is now out and among its ten (10) articles are two on the Canons of Dordt, marking its 400th anniversary.

The first is Part 7 of Prof. Douglas Kuiper’s series “Dordt 400: Memorial Stones,” a year-long tribute to the “great Synod.” This installment treats Dordt’s consideration of “training students for the ministry.” It is another interesting, edifying, and relevant article on the Synod’s work and decisions.

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The second article is the one we feature in this post. It is PRC Missionary-pastor (Philippines) Daniel Kleyn’s second installment on “The Canons of Dordt and Missions.” We pull a section from this fine article, which shows how the Canons teaches that the gospel is to be preached “far and wide.”

Missions is to Preach Promiscuously

More significantly, the Canons of Dordt give an explicit call to the church to do mission work. Among the Three Forms of Unity, the Canons is the only creed to do this. This more than anything else proves the missionary character and missionary usefulness of this creed.

The Canons order the church to go out into the world with the gospel. That order is found in Head II, Article 5, which reads: “Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not perish but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.”

Who can deny that this call to missions is in full harmony with the biblical commands concerning missions? Even if no other passages in the Canons either taught or implied anything regarding missions, Head II, Article 5 would be enough to prove that the Canons promote mission work.

The word “promiscuously” is key here. This means the preaching must go far and wide, to every land and nation under heaven. This must be done by the church “without distinction.” God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). The church must not be such in her mission work either.

God’s purpose is that the promiscuous preaching of His Word will be used by Him to bring the elect to a conscious faith in Christ. The church and missionaries do not and cannot know who the elect are. They must, therefore, preach God’s Word to all to whom God gives them opportunity. In this way the elect will hear that Word and will, by the power of the Spirit, be saved.

Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them – Reformation21 *(Updated)

The book Broken Pieces has just been released and, when Westminster Seminary Bookstore had a good sale on it online, I purchased it for the seminary library, believing it would be of use for pastors and counselors who deal with various types of mental illness including schizophrenia.

Little did I know the book’s value and power. I did recognize the importance of the subject, and I did note the author – Simonetta Carr, a Reformed wife , mother, and author of several children’s books for the series “Christian Biographies for Young Readers.” But I had no idea of her intense, personal struggle with this mental illness in her son.

And I am thankful for the fine way in which pastor William Boekestein has called attention to her story of grief and grace in this brief review posted on Reformation21 website recently. I quote a portion of it for you here. And for those who can identify with this aspect of our brokenness, you will find help and hope.

Broken Pieces is one of the most courageous books I have ever read. Simonetta told me, “It hurt me to write it because I was reliving every moment.” I couldn’t have written it. I would have been too scared. But I am so glad Simonetta did. And perhaps now I am a little more ready to follow her lead in sharing some of my grief with other receivers.

One of my wife’s grandmothers had schizophrenia. During the last years of her life she broke off communication with us because we told her how much we loved her house; she thought we were trying to take it. We saw her only one time in the months before her death. She told us not to come. But we showed up at her front door, unannounced, with our charming two-year-old extended toward the door; a peace-offering no grandma could resist. She buckled, and let us in one last time. Schizophrenia made grandma unpredictable. The family genuinely feared that she would leave her entire estate to her dog. More seriously, her children grew up in a home with their mother institutionalized for long stretches. I wish Eva’s husband, children, and grandchildren had been able to read Broken Pieces.

I’m glad I have now. It was a painful crash-course in sympathetic, and persistent love; lessons I know I need to learn for trials that I cannot foresee. More than that, it is a portrait of living faith in a Savior whose grace is tailor-made for this broken world.

Broken Pieces is also surprisingly hopeful. Simonetta didn’t gauge the eternal destiny of her schizophrenic son by placing everything she knew about him on two sides of a scale; one side positive, and the other negative. The tangibly negative experiences would have been too heavy. Instead, she saw her son as entirely in Christ; in life and in death, in body and soul, in clarity and confusion. And Jesus was more than enough to rescue a man who was so deeply broken. Our family saw that too. Grandma’s schizophrenia scared us and her. But God also helped us to hope. After I read her Isaiah 53–being Jewish, this is a text from the “Bible” she was raised with–she responded: “That’s talking about Jesus. I believe in him!” We didn’t expect that response. But why not? We possess a shared history of God’s redemption of desperately lost people. We have received God’s record of mending, the backstory we all need as we share each other’s burdens.

Source: Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them – Reformation21

Since this original post, I also received notice of an interview that “Redeemed Reader” did with the author. Find that at this link.

Good Soil Hearers of the Word

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The good soil represents those who hear and understand and accept the preaching of God’s Word (Matt.13:23; Mark 4:20). They have an open, receptive heart toward the Word of God. Furthermore, they seek not only to understand what it means, but also to strive to obey it, to put it into practice in their life. They are not just hearers of the Word but doers (James 1:22). As a result, the Word continually produces results in their life. They experience true, lasting change as a result of the sermons they listen to.

The presence of fruit is the only thing that sets the good soil apart from the other three soils in this parable. Every true Christian will consistently bear spiritual fruit in their lives (Matt.7:16; Gal.5:22-23). …There is no such thing as a fruitless Christian. Granted, not all Christians are as fruitful as others. The issue is not the amount of fruit in a person’s life, but the presence of it. Jesus said, ‘My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples’ (John 15:8 [NASB]). Does this describe your heart? Do you have a soft, receptive heart that produces the fruit of a true believer?

And then, after examining Jesus’ other teaching as recorded in Luke 8 – the entire context of the parable of the sower – the author ends with this:

In other words, the ultimate evidence that proves you are a Christian is that you hear and obey God’s Word. This entire portion of Luke was designed to emphasize the importance Jesus placed on listening to the Word (vv.8,18,21). Good soil yields the fruit of obedience from the Word of God. That fruitful life is a light that shines for all around to see, and it is the only real demonstration that you are spiritually identified with Jesus.

What kind of soil does the Word find when it falls on you? What kind of heart do you have for the Word of God?

Taken from Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), Chapter 2 – “Hearing with Your Heart” (pp.31-33). We are currently taking time to read and draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

The Slave Bible: Let the Story Be Told | Museum of the Bible

Have you heard about this unique Bible before? Do you know why it held this name?

I had not until I received this months “Museum of the Bible” newsletter, which featured this striking exhibition, “The Slave Bible: Let the Story Be Told.”

Here’s part of the introduction to the video describing the exhibition:

The Slave Bible, as it would become known, is a missionary book. It was originally published in London in 1807 on behalf of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of enslaved Africans toiling in Britain’s lucrative Caribbean colonies. They used the Slave Bible to teach enslaved Africans how to read while at the same time introducing them to the Christian faith. Unlike other missionary Bibles, however, the Slave Bible contained only “select parts” of the biblical text. Its publishers deliberately removed portions of the biblical text, such as the exodus story, that could inspire hope for liberation. Instead, the publishers emphasized portions that justified and fortified the system of slavery that was so vital to the British Empire.

Watch the video below to learn more. This wonderful new museum in our nation’s capitol remains on my radar for a visit soon. Along with the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. And the National Cathedral. And…. You get the point. 🙂

Source: The Slave Bible: Let the Story Be Told | Museum of the Bible

Published in: on February 15, 2019 at 9:48 PM  Leave a Comment  

Checking In on Worn-Out Words and Phrases: First Quarter 2019 |

It has been a while since we posted a GrammarBook.com item, so on this “Word Wednesday” let’s do this one that focuses on good grammar through good word usage.

This particular article adds to GrammarBook.com‘s ongoing lists of “worn out words and phrases.” This one covers the first quarter of this new year. And, as you will see from this list, these are indeed some that need to be put away and replaced with better words and phrases – which they also suggest here.

Read the introduction below, review the list, compare it with your own vocabulary in speech and writing, and see what changes you can to make to bring clarity and precision to your English.

“Nature abhors a vacuum,” Aristotle once said, and the same holds true for language. If we detect an empty lexical space because we feel existing words no longer occupy it well, we will look to fill it, often with something that seems or sounds fresh within our current culture and era.

For a time, we might embrace those updates to communication: They can make us feel original, cool, connected to the zeitgeist. Often, current language style will reduce formality of writing and speech through abbreviation, fusion, or invention of words. We assign labels for many as well: catch phrase, buzz word, lingo, parlance.

As we’re all aware, however, whether in fashion, music, cars, or language, trends come and go. Those with enough substance and utility might hang on; the others will simply complete their life cycles and then perhaps straggle a bit before fading into obscurity.

With you, we form a community that is focused on an optimal use of English. We therefore find it fitting to monitor words and phrases that have grown old or stale or may do so soon.

For a review of the worn-out words and phrases we’ve compiled to date, you can visit any of our four preceding articles from 2017 and 2018:

Worn-Out Words and Phrases
Worn-Out Words and Phrases (Follow-up)
Worn-Out Words and Phrases: Resolving to Keep Writing Fresh in 2018
Still on the Stakeout for Worn-Out Words & Phrases

The following table includes our latest additions to words and phrases on our radar of overuse or untenability so far in 2019. In some cases, you might still consider some of them useful or relevant when writing or speaking. If however you’re particular about articulation that will endure rather than just conform to current style, you might consider alternatives that have maintained their lasting positions in English.

 

Worn-Out
Word/Phrase
Contemporary
Meaning
Alternatives in
Careful Writing
in the wheelhouse (prep. phrase) identifying something or someone as being in a position of strength or skill skill, strength, specialization (use nouns instead of the phrase)
in the books (prep. phrase) noted, completed noted, done, completed, finished
wrap one’s head around (verb phrase) contemplate, understand consider, reflect, contemplate, ponder, mull over, understand
thought leader (noun) subject expert whose ideas and opinions influence other people, especially in business leader, influencer, subject expert, specialist
ghost (verb) disappear or abandon, especially as it applies to leaving a relationship leave, disappear, abandon, flee
epic (adj.) impressive, very good memorable, impressive, exceptional, outstanding
so ye-ah/ya-uh (interj.) “well, okay,” “alrightee then” (strike as unnecessary)
I can’t even (interj.) I am losing patience, at a loss for words, annoyed about something (strike as unnecessary)
for real (interj.) serious, legitimate, really true, good, great(!)
It’s lit (idiomatic clause) something exciting is happening and you’ll want to be there (strike as unnecessary)
woke (adj.) aware of current affairs, enlightened aware, current, heard about it, enlightened
killing it (verb phrase) excelling at something achieving, excelling, doing great
suh, sup (interj.) what’s up? how are you, what are you doing
cray (adj.) crazy crazy, strange, silly, wacky
troll (verb) follow others online, especially on social media, to criticize them or otherwise smear their image or opinion (noun) one who does so (verb) hassle, heckle, hound, pester, disrupt (noun) heckler, hound, pest, antagonist
said no one ever (idiomatic clause [sarcasm]) negation of almost any statement— e.g., I love shoveling heavy snow…said no one ever. don’t, do not
as to whether (conj.) (unnecessarily wordy expression of whether) whether
necessitate (verb) bloated word for require call for, entail, require
on account of (prep. phrase) because of because of, due to, owing to
with all due respect (prep. phrase) polite set-up for I disagree (strike as unnecessary—what follows is often not an expression of respect)
It’s not brain surgery (idiomatic clause) the item at hand is not difficult it’s simple, easy, not challenging
get your ducks in a row (idiomatic clause) complete preparations, become efficient and well organized plan, prepare, organize, get organized
play hardball (verb phrase) be serious or aggressive in response resist, push back, not cooperate

Source: Checking In on Worn-Out Words and Phrases: First Quarter 2019 |

Published in: on February 13, 2019 at 10:34 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Gospel Cure for Dishonor of God and Neighbor

Into our second week of this month, it is time to get acquainted with the February issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier ministry’s monthly devotional magazine. The theme this time is “Honor,” perhaps one we might dismiss lightly; but we ought not, as the twelve special articles developing this theme demonstrate. Those special articles treat such subjects as “What is Honor?”, “Honoring Marriage,” “Honoring Parents,”The Blessing of Honor,” and “What If Honor Is Lost Altogether?”

Burk Parsons gives us a “foretaste” of honor’s importance in his sobering editorial “The Disappearance of Honor.” Here is some of what he has to communicate:

It should not surprise us that many young people are leaving and despising the church when their parents have long dishonored weekly congregational Lord’s Day worship, dishonored their own membership vows to the church, and dishonored their elders, pastors, and fellow congregants. Nor should it surprise us how many who profess faith in Christ have such little regard for the sacred Word of God when so many pastors have exchanged the preaching of the Word of God in season and out of season for watered-down, attractional, sociocultural, pop-psychological anecdotes and stories combined with ear-tickling, emotionalistic entertainment. Such preaching honors only the pastor and not the God of Scripture. Although honor may be rapidly disappearing in the world, we must never let it disappear from our hearts, homes, or churches that we might always honor everyone (1 Peter 2:17) and honor our Lord whose honor will not be mocked.

One of the featured articles I have chosen to highlight in this post is the one by David W. Hall – “Honoring God.” As he shows, this is where all honor begins and ends. Read and reflect on these thoughts, and then read more to strengthen yourself in the duty to “show honor to whom honor is due,” beginning with the Great Sovereign of heaven and earth.

Romans 1:21 vividly depicts what happens when honor disappears. This clear verse is a mirror that shows what honor is and what it is not and how honoring God is tied to our essential moral fabric. Yes, morality begins with theology. Though the dishonorable retain some spiritual sense, Paul, in fleshing out the doctrine of total depravity, lists some of the consequences of dishonoring God, including not giving thanks, becoming “futile in their thinking,” and having “their foolish hearts . . . darkened.”

Note that verse’s three degenerative components. First, not honoring God is compared to not giving thanks. Thanks is the expressed gratitude for another. Honor, thus, is a more comprehensive concept than gratitude. Nonetheless, they are united here. Failing to give God thanks often, sincerely, and regularly reveals that one does not, practically speaking, view God as one’s superior.

A second consequence is that when one fails the “Honor-God-by-Thanking Test,” things neither remain neutral nor improve. Indeed, failing to honor God negatively affects one’s cognition; one’s very thinking becomes futile or dysfunctional. Disobeying God by dishonoring Him leads to systemic deterioration.

Third, not only one’s mind but one’s heart and emotions become blurred, confused, and darkened. Once again, something as basic as honor, if absent, harms our rationality and emotions.

The only cure is found in Romans 1:16. The gospel is the power of God that changes us from self-absorbed egotists into those who want instead to exalt and honor our Sovereign.

Should there be a recovery of honor, we might find increasing order, flowering humility, and revived civility. Maybe, rather than exalting ourselves to be like the Most High (Isa. 14), we can excel in giving honor to those whom we are called to honor—and, above all, to God.

To continue reading this article, visit the link below. To read more in the issue, visit the Tabletalk link above.

Source: Honoring God

Foxes, Birds, the Son of Man, and Our Place in This World

honey from the rock-ak-2018No, no! Remaining here on earth is even less permissible for those redeemed by Jesus than for their Savior himself. They grow into one plant with their Lord and are thus cut off at the root from this world. To live in him is to live outside the world. Like pilgrims on a pilgrimage, they are no longer at home on earth but are on a journey to their real homeland. Whoever finds what they are looking for here below lowers them self [sic] beneath their true calling as a human being. They have no fellowship with God’s holy angels, but merely with the foxes, birds, and animals of the forest.

…Accordingly, whoever follows Jesus turns his back on the world. She repeatedly finds its charms fading. In her heart and soul she crucifies its glories. She does so not because she relinquishes a desire for happiness, but because she yearns for a greater, higher, richer, and more brilliant glory. In hope, he desires a glory through which already now his quieted heart finds itself swelling with a holy joy. This is joy in the divine splendor and pure luster of God’s kingdom.

…for all of you who regarded the world as nothing and were mocked and driven out of it, you will live ‘in the home of the seraphim.’ The precious word spoken by the Lord himself is for all of you who have suffered pain in your pilgrim wanderings: ‘In the home that is above are many rooms, and a place has been prepared for you there in my Father’s house.’

Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.7-8.

Of Ice Storms, Michigan Skiing, and Things Bookish

While this Friday quickly slips away, we can still get in a “Friday Fun” post, featuring things related to this week’s ice storms in West Michigan, some old skiing pictures in our great state (thanks to MLive), and some great book items from Book Patrol.

First, a few pictures of the fruits of the ice storms that hit us Wednesday and Thursday mornings of this week. Last week the Lord’s snow left a trail of beauty; this week it was His ice. Here are a few pictures from around the seminary property.

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The second item is also winter related. Today MLive news featured some vintage skiing pictures taken in various parts of our state, mostly in the north country, as you might guess. I love these old photos and give a few here. Find more at this news link.

And finally, Book Patrol has been having some great book-related posts lately, including this neat one featuring some new scroll books being published. Check these out at this link (here’s an example):

The English Separatists Find Refuge in Holland

they-came-freedom-milbrandtIn Scrooby [England], the Separatists began preparations for their flight to mainland Europe [due to increasing persecution]. Their escape would need to happen in secret to circumvent England’s severe restrictions – and avoid the undoubtedly painful retribution. First, they needed a destination.

The Separatists chose Holland. The Dutch Republic offered freedom of conscience where religion could be openly practiced. Holland not only spoke of defending religious freedom but had a record of doing it. It had become home to other religious exiles in recent years, including the Huguenots, French Protestants driven out by the Catholic Church. They trusted Holland.

…When they finally limped into the port in Holland, people came flocking, ‘astonished at their deliverance.’ [the ship had come through a horrific storm that blew them 400 miles off course – near to the coast of Norway!] Their arrival was long overdue, and most assumed that the Dutch vessel had been lost at sea. Their survival was a remarkable sight.

For the Separatists now in Holland, they had arrived. While many would wait for loved ones, this offered the chance to start the life and freedom they imagined for many years. They could begin to worship freely, but also build their sacred community. For the foreseeable future, they would call Amsterdam home, and the men would take jobs in this port city’s growing global economy.

Taken from chapter 3 , “Dissenters,” in They Came for Freedom: The Forgotten, Epic Adventure of the Pilgrims by Jay Milbrandt (Nelson Books, 2017), pp.62-67. This is one of my current reads – and a good one.