Winning the Souls of Unbelievers – J. Payne

As we pointed out earlier this month (see my Sept.10 post) the September 2017 issue of Tabletalk has as its theme “Soul Winning,” with the featured articles covering the various aspects of the Christian calling and methods of this task (based Prov.11:30).

I have once again profited from these articles, including that by Jon D. Payne, “Winning the Souls of Unbelievers.” In the first main section of this article, headed by the words “Wonderfully Ordinary,” Payne gives the “regular” believer great encouragement in the calling to evangelize.

I post these paragraphs tonight, so that you too may be assured that God has you right where you ought to be to be a means to win souls.

Rather than heap guilt on regular Christians for not soul winning on street corners or in market squares (which few believers are called or gifted to do), wouldn’t it be far better to foster a view of evangelism that naturally flows from the ordinary rhythms of daily life and weekly schedules? Shouldn’t we view gospel witness primarily as the overflow of a sincere walk with God in the particular sphere in which God has placed us?

God is sovereign, and in His sovereignty He has placed each one of us right where He wants us (Ps. 115:3; Acts 17:26–27). You may wish to be somewhere else, but right now you are exactly where God wants you to be. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9; see Rom. 8:28). Therefore, God calls us to reach the lost right where we are. He has sovereignly placed us in a distinct sphere of influence, in part, to reach out to nonbelievers with the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dear believer, God by His sovereign hand has put you in a specific community and planted you in a particular neighborhood or apartment building. He has also given you a distinct vocation. Why? In part, so that you would shine the light of the gospel to those around you in the ordinary course of your life.

Source: Winning the Souls of Unbelievers

“What can this thought produce but comfort?” ~ J. Calvin

It’s remarkable, however, that many who brag about being a Christian are possessed by dread rather than longing for death. And so they tremble at the very mention of death, as it is were an ominous and disastrous thing. It is, of course, ordinary that our natural senses should react to the news of our own undoing. But it’s entirely inappropriate that Christians should lack within themselves the light of piety that conquers and suppresses fear by a stronger feeling of consolation.

If we remember that this unstable, vicious, corruptible, perishable, decaying, and rotten tabernacle of our flesh will be undone in order to be subsequently renewed in constant, perfect, incorruptible, and – in sum – heavenly glory, then faith will compel us to fervently desire that very death which nature dreads. If we remember that through death we are recalled from exile to dwell at home – indeed, our heavenly home – what can this thought produce but comfort?

Little-book-christian-life-calvinTaken from the fresh translation and edition of John Calvin’s short work on the Christian life,  A Little Book on the Christian Life (Reformation Trust, 2017). This is taken from chapter 4, “Meditation on Our Future Life”, where Calvin treats the sure hope of the believer for heaven, pp.101-102.

Comfort in Life and Death

As you have noticed, I have been absent from these “pages” for a week. That was due to circumstances surrounding care for our ailing mother, whom God delivered out of this vale of tears and shadow of death and ushered into everlasting glory this past Monday morning.

A private family funeral and committal service was held yesterday morning and a public memorial service last evening, both in dad and mom’s home church, Hope PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

moms-obituary-2017

Watching one’s mother die is one of the hardest experiences in life but, when she is in the Lord and has the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ in her heart, it is one of the most precious experiences in life. We praise God for His mercy to our dear mother, and for His sustaining, comforting grace to us as a family.

Today’s “Grace Gems” devotional was timely and comforting, as this is the way mom always taught us to live – one day at a time, without fear or worry for the next. I pray it comforts your heart as it did mine, whatever your circumstance may be today.

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life!

(J.R. Miller)

“As your days–so shall your strength be!” Deuteronomy 33:25

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life
, is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day–but the bit of God’s will for that day. If we do that well–we have absolutely nothing else to do.

Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day–had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty–for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be–if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering–if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.

We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are–life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down–we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat–if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.

We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can easily get through with–and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time–more than we can do between the morning and the evening.

If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste; it will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

Rev. Gerrit Vos’ 25th Anniversary Book – Sioux Center, IA (1927-29)

GVosLast Friday we made an initial post announcing the gift of a treasure for the PRC archives – a beautiful leather volume commemorating the 25-year ministry anniversary of Rev. G. Vos (1894-1968).

The book (which must date from 1952 and probably at least a year before that) is filled with pictures and congratulatory notes from the four PRC congregations he had served up to that point – Sioux Center, IA, 1927-29; Hudsonville, 1929-1932; Hope, Redlands CA, 1932-1943; Edgerton, MN, 1943-1948; and then Hudsonville again, 1948-1966, which is where he was when his 25th anniversary in the ministry was celebrated.

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I gave you a sample of some pages last week; this week let’s focus on that first charge of his in Sioux Center, IA PRC.

By the way, this first charge of Rev. Vos brings up an interesting bit of PRC and PRC Seminary history. That is that Rev. Vos was called and ordained prior to his finishing his seminary training. While he had completed some of his ministerial training in those years prior to 1927, so needy were the PRC for ministers in the early years of her existence that she called and ordained Vos (William Verhil also, by Hull, IA PRC) before he finished seminary. Both of these men did return to school and graduated in 1932 (while he served as Hudsonville PRC’s minister!).

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Now, on to Sioux Center PRC, where Vos served from 1927-29. These are some pages from the book. I post them without further comment at this time, except that I wonder if the church and parsonage are still there. Perhaps some Iowa contacts can let us know.

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Patrolling for Verbal Pretenders

This Tuesday night post is going to be for our occasional “Word Wednesday” feature, something I’d like to get back into from time to time. This one comes from Grammar.com (dated August 1, 2017) and gets at those “words” that people use that masquerade as real ones.

When you see the chart below and look at those imposters, I think we may have to confess that some of these may have worked their way into our vocabulary.

So now, being armed with good grammatical and verbal knowledge, we can “get real” and use the proper word in the right way at the right time.

Ready for your word patrol? Here we go!

Putting Out the Patrol for Made-Up Words

Estimates of English’s total word count vary, but linguists agree the number ranks near the top of the world’s vocabularies. A May GrammarBook newsletter article cited English as having as many as 300,000 distinctly usable words.

With so many residents in a vernacular, impostors posing as real words are bound to slip in. They start as mistakes but last long enough to wiggle into pockets of speech. Before long, they spread out, gaining confidence and popularity until they set their sights on the real prize: placement in a dictionary.

While casual conversation provides the most refuge for these con artists, their common usage still often lets them cross into composition’s more-managed domain.

Here are but a few made-up words we and our readers have singled out as guilty from the line-up of suspects:

 

Imposter: administrate (v)
Real Word: administer
Imposter: participator (n)
Real Word: participant
Imposter: commentate (v)
Real Word: comment
Imposter: preventative (adj)
Real Word: preventive
Imposter: orientate (v)
Real Word: orient
Imposter: supposably (adj, adv)
Real Word: supposedly
Imposter: conversate (v)
Real Word: converse
Imposter: undoutably (adj, adv)
Real Word: undoubtedly
Imposter: irregardless (adj, adv)
Real Word: regardless
Imposter: vice-a-versa (adv)
Real Word: vice versa
Imposter: exploitive (adj)
Real Word: exploitative
Imposter: whole nother (adj)
Real Words: another, whole other
Imposter: firstly (secondly, thirdly, etc.) (adv)
Real Word: first (second, third, etc.)
Imposter: incentivize (v)
Real Words: encourage, motivate, reward


A few of these invaders, such as irregardless and preventative, have already cleared the fence, crossed their covert tunnels, and arrived safely in dictionaries. That alone does not validate them, nor does it mean we should permit them into our writing.

You also probably noted several made-up words in the list include the suffix -ate. This is a common ploy some words will use to create more versions of themselves.

The suffix -ize operates much the same way. In addition to incentivize, keep an eye on words such as actualize, collectivize, intellectualize, and normalize. Some words, such as finalize, prioritize, memorize, and ostracize, need their three-letter caboose to deliver their meaning, but most -ize words are pitching tents where houses are built.

Made-up words present another call for us to lead the way in upholding concise, grammatical writing. By remaining vigilant, we can help halt the advance of the pretenders.

Source: Putting Out the Patrol for Made-Up Words – Grammar & Punctuation | The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Published in: on September 12, 2017 at 11:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

Book Alert: “Handle with Care!” – Dr. J. Kennedy

Handle-with-care-kennedyA few months ago I was made aware of a new book produced by Dr. Julian Kennedy and today I want to notify you of it while reserving fuller review for later (cf. note below).

The book is Handle with Care! A Biblical and Reformed Guide to Sexuality for Young People (Wipf & Stock, 2017; paper & epub, 114 pp.).

You will find this summary of the book at the publisher’s site:

God’s good gift of sexuality has been corrupted since the fall of man into sin so that man in his depravity is not able to use it for God’s glory and for his own good. Sex between unmarried (fornication), adultery, including divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality are accepted as normal in modern society and young people, even Christian young people, are being influenced by this Satanic lie that “if it feels good–do it!” This booklet is sent out with the prayer that it will save many young people from heartache and the curse that these serious sexual sins will bring on them. There is the good way, the biblical or reformed way for living chastely as a single person, finding and courting a mate, and marrying and staying faithful to that mate. This booklet has been a long time since inception to publication! First conceived thirty years ago, very few copies of an older version were produced by Covenant Keepers for young people in Singapore in 2011. The original has been substantially expanded by quotations from Protestant Reformed Church ministers.

In his “Introduction” the author offers us these important thoughts on this timely topic:

This booklet aims to explain the truth about sex, love and marriage from the view of the Reformed* Faith of Scripture. God alone, who instituted the first marriage, can tell us what love really is and how sex in marriage can be used for the greatest benefit. Much will be said in this booklet that contradicts the popular notions
about sex that are portrayed in the glossy popular magazines, newspapers and on TV soaps, in films, or in novels of today, where people hop in and out of bed and of marriages, with sad and destructive consequences to themselves and any children involved. God knows that building a lasting relationship on the rock of scriptural truth will mean it will stand in the storms of life. Prevention is better than cure, so practice godly courtship and marriage and save yourself from much heartache and many problems. The statistics on cohabitation, fornication, divorce, adultery, teenage pregnancy and homosexuality even among professing believers show how God’s instructions are being ignored and it is my prayer that this booklet will help many to find God’s best in love, marriage and sex.

We thank Dr. Kennedy for his contribution to the literature available on sexuality – rare because it is Reformed. Reformed because it is rooted in God’s Word (biblical!) and the Reformed confessions of the historic church.

Knowing a book’s contents help reveal its value. I trust as you review this content of Handle with Care! that you will see its value:

Part One: What God Says
Chapter 1
Dynamite!—Handle With Care | 3
Chapter 2
Battle for the Mind—Impure Thoughts | 5
Chapter 3
Why Wait? | 14
Chapter 4
Homosexuality | 18
Chapter 5
Two Become One | 22
Chapter 6
The Proper Basis and Purpose of Marriage | 25
Chapter 7
Singleness | 29

Part Two: The Facts of Life
Chapter 8
How Does Sex Start? | 39
Chapter 9
Men versus Women—What’s the Difference? | 41
Chapter 10
Boy Meets Girl | 44
Chapter 11
Friendships | 46

Part Three: Finding the Right Mate
Chapter 12
The Meaning of Love | 51
Chapter 13
Finding Your Help Meet | 55
Chapter 14
For Girls Only | 57
Chapter 15
Courtship, Dating and Right Relationships | 59
Chapter 16
The Wedding is Soon | 79
Chapter 17
Family Planning | 81

Appendix—The Reformed Faith: The Five Solas | 89

I have requested a review copy of this new title. When I have that in hand, I will be better able to make a more full evaluation of this book.

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God: The Winner of Souls – September 2017 “Tabletalk”

The September 2017 issue of Tabletalk has been out for over a week now and it is time to introduce its theme and contents. Editor Burk Parsons introduces this issue on “Soul Winning” with his editorial “Rescuing Souls from Death.”

The first featured article is Dr. David Strain’s “God: The Winner of Souls,” in which he emphasizes that fundamental to our reason and motive for evangelizing is the truth that God is the One who saves sinners by His sovereign grace in Jesus Christ.

Here are a couple of paragraphs that bring that home – one at the beginning of the article and the other at the end:

Though we may not realize it, behind and before our “lisping, stammering tongues” ever manage to proclaim the good news about Jesus, before we can muster the courage to speak a word for Him, God Himself has been in hot pursuit of sinners to save. Few truths offer more encouragement to us in our efforts to share the gospel than this: God is the great winner of souls.

…So here is the liberating truth: God is the true and great soul winner. The Father purposed to save sinners in love, and so He sent His Son for us. The Son of God has loved us and given Himself for us. The same Spirit who rested upon Christ now gives life to dead sinners, uniting us to Christ, and He empowers us in turn to bear witness for Christ. When we realize these great truths, when we see that God is the Evangelist, evangelism will cease to be a fearful work, pursued in an effort to curry divine favor. Instead, it will become a joyful expression of gratitude and an outpouring of holy zeal that others might know the salvation that has been lavished upon us by Almighty God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Read the full article at the link below. And, by the way, Ligonier has made a new special website for Tabletalk, with more content and featured articles available online. Check it out when you visit the link below.

Also, the daily devotions continue on the doctrines and practices restored to the church at the time of the great Reformation. This month they are on “The Reformation of Worship.” Want a sample of what they are like? Here’s part of the devotional for Sept.1:

Often when we think of the Protestant Reformation and what it accomplished, we focus on the doctrinal reforms related to such topics as divine grace, justification, and the authority of Scripture. This association of doctrinal reform with the Reformation is, of course, good and proper, for the Reformers were concerned to conform Christian doctrine to the teaching of God’s Word. However, the Reformers understood that there could be no true doctrinal reform without a corresponding reform of the church’s worship. In fact, in The Necessity of Reforming the Church, written to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, John Calvin listed the reform of Christian worship first in his explanation of why the Reformation was necessary. Our worship and our theology are inextricably linked.

Source: God: The Winner of Souls

“Or-di-nar-y”: Lonely But Precious Word – M. Horton

ordinary-MHorton-2014A book I wanted to read when it first came out a few years ago is Michael Horton’s Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014). Last week in a thrift store I found a clean used copy and this past week I started to read it.

Chapter 1 (“The New Radical”) is where I will start with you too, because that’s where Horton decries the trendiness of modern evangelicalism with its “Radical. Epic. Revolutionary.” (the opening words of chap.1) – that is, her excitement with all things new and “extra”-ordinary .

There are so many good points and lines in this opening chapter, but I give you these for now.

‘Ordinary’ has to be one of the loneliest words in our vocabulary today. Who wants a bumper sticker that announces to the neighborhood, ‘My child is an ordinary student at Bubbling Brook Elementary?’ Who wants to be that ordinary person who lives in an ordinary town, is a member of an ordinary church, and has ordinary friends and works an ordinary job? Our life has to count! We have to leave our mark, have a legacy, and make a difference. And all of this should be something that can be managed, measured, and maintained. We have to live up to our Facebook profile. It’s one of the newer versions of salvation by works. [p.11]

A few pages later Horton expands on these thoughts:

American Christianity is a story of perpetual upheavals in churches and individual lives. Starting with the extraordinary conversion experience, our lives are motivated by a constant expectation for The Next Big Thing. We’re growing bored with the ordinary means of God’s grace, attending church week in and week out. Doctrines and disciplines that have shaped faithful Christian witness in the past are often marginalized or substituted with newer fashions or methods. The new and improved may dazzle us for the moment, but soon they have become ‘so last year.’ [p.16]

As we end another week, let’s be grateful for the ordinary Christian life God has given us. As we go through another ordinary Sunday, attending our ordinary churches, where we worship in very ordinary ways, hearing ordinary sermons on the ordinary Word of God, let us thank God for such common, regular events and experiences.

Because when you think of all this “ordinariness” in terms of God’s grace and mercy to us sinners, it’s all actually quite extraordinary.

A New Treasure for the PRC Archives – Rev. G. Vos’ 25th Anniversary Volume

This past Tuesday (Sept.5, 2017), after a visit to the mailbox, Mrs. Judi Doezema set a package on my library desk at the PRC Seminary.

Nothing unusual about that. Book orders come in regularly, so I am accustomed to seeing boxes and bubble packages of varying sizes on my desk. But this box was unusual – in size and in contents. Besides, I didn’t think I had any outstanding book orders. Nevertheless, I excitedly opened the box.

What I found inside left me short of breath and long of thrills. A special leather-bound book with the words “To the Reverend Gerrit Vos in Commemoration of Twenty Five Years in the Ministry of the Word, 1927-1952” on the cover.

And between the leather covers was a treasure-trove of PRC history under the ministry of Rev. G. Vos (1894-1968). Pictures and congratulatory notes from the four PRC congregations he had served up to that point – Sioux Center, IA, 1927-29; Hudsonville, 1929-1932; Hope, Redlands CA, 1932-1943; Edgerton, MN, 1943-1948; and then Hudsonville again, 1948-1966, which is where he was when his 25th anniversary in the ministry was celebrated.

Every page I turned was a gem. Wonderful pictures of Rev. Vos and his wife and family (cf. above), of the church buildings and parsonages, of congregational picnics and societies, of Consistories and Councils, of Vos and colleagues, of Vos and Schilder – and on the list goes. Pages filled with signatures of church members; with tributes to the gracious pastor who had brought them the gospel and ministered to their needs; with letters from Herman Hoeksema and George Ophoff, his seminary professors and fellow-servants in the gospel in those early years of the fledgling denomination (cf. below); with the full program held in Hudsonville PRC marking his 25th written out in beautiful script – speeches and all! – again, and on the list goes.

What a wonderful gift to the seminary and to the PRC archives! Invaluable! Unspeakable!

And from whom did this precious gift come? From his grandson, Dr. Ben Zandstra (son of Vos’ daughter Marilyn and son-in-law, Dr. Ben Zandstra). In the box was a wonderful letter from Dr. Zandstra, in which he expressed his difficulty in parting with such a treasure (a gift he had received from his mother on the 25th anniversary of his own ordination in the CRC), but also stating, “But I know in my heart that this volume belongs at the school of the Protestant Reformed Churches, the denomination that my grandfather served for so many years. So, I pass it on in his memory & Soli Deo Gloria.”

I have sent Dr. Zandstra a personal letter of thanks for this PRC treasure. But I also take this space to say, “From the bottom of our denomination’s heart, Thank you for this precious gift!”

I plan to scan this book as it is to preserve it in its original form. I have an idea the PRC congregations he served that are still in existence (Hope, Redlands, Edgerton, and Hudsonville) will want a digital copy for their own histories. And I plan to feature some pages from it in the months ahead. I have an idea you will be as excited as I was to see what’s inside this amazing volume. 🙂

The Christian’s Hope in This Life – J. Calvin

Rom-7-24Therefore, the goal of believers – when they assess this mortal life and realize it’s nothing in and of itself but misery – should be to direct themselves wholly, briskly, and freely toward contemplation of their future and eternal life.

…Therefore, earthly life, when compared with heavenly life, must certainly and readily be condemned and despised. It should never be hated, except to the extent that it makes us liable to sin – though properly speaking our hatred should be toward sin, not toward life itself. Although we may be so moved with weariness and hatred of this life that we desire its end, we must be prepared to remain in it according to God’s will. And so, our weariness won’t result in complaining and impatience. For the Lord has stationed us in an outpost, and we must keep guard here until He calls us home.

…If, then, we must live and die to the Lord, let us leave to Him the decision of when our lives will end. But let us do so in such a way that we burn with desire for the end of this life, and let us remain constant in meditation on the next life. Indeed, considering our future immortality, let us scorn this life. Considering the mastery of sin in this life, let us long to give up this life as soon as it should please the Lord.

Little-book-christian-life-calvinTaken from the fresh translation and edition of John Calvin’s short work on the Christian life,  A Little Book on the Christian Life (Reformation Trust, 2017). This is taken from chapter 4, “Meditation on Our Future Life”, where Calvin treats the sure hope of the believer for heaven, pp.98-101.