PRC Archives – The Early Years: Communion Wine and Curatorium Report

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Kevin R. putting in place in the new archives room the last of our “official” archive boxes.

Today we feature a couple of fascinating items out of the PRC archives – both from the early years. Both were discovered yesterday while sorting through and cataloging old Theological School Committee (TSC) files, which Bob Drnek has been working on, in part because he is TSC secretary and has a personal interest in the history of the seminary and its committee. 🙂

For years these files had been stored in a cabinet in the seminary building, but this summer we decided they belonged in the archives, both for better protection and for preservation. And we are glad we made that decision, because these are a valuable part of our history and because there are some real treasures here!

 

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This first item is a report of the rector of the seminary, at the time Rev. George Ophoff (the professors, as they still do, held this administrative position by rotation), to the Curatorium, the “committee” that oversaw the seminary prior to the formation of the TSC. Writing on behalf of the faculty, Ophoff reported on the work that was being done both by the professors and the students, as you will see. But the brief report breathes the spirit of Ophoff. Don’t waste words, get to the point, and if there isn’t much to say, make sure you indicate that “something was also accomplished.” We think this report dates from the 1930s but are not sure as yet.

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This second item is even more fascinating. Remember the Prohibition Era, when alcohol was mostly prohibited and strictly controlled?! Well, most of us know about this age only in name, since it goes back to the early years of the 1900s in this country. What you may not know (I didn’t!) is that churches had to fill out a special form to gain permission to use wine for communion (the Lord’s Supper)!

So, what you see above is such a form (stored away in the seminary’s early history files) filled out by the clerk of our Hudsonville PRC to purchase two gallons of wine from a U.S. government-approved, wine supply house in Milwaukee, WI! The date? May 24, 1928!

Amazing! Can you imagine?! No wonder, given the times, they ordered by the gallon! I’m also guessing that that “domestic Muscatel” was a rather cheap, red wine. Anyone have memories of these times?

Published in: on December 12, 2019 at 3:54 PM  Leave a Comment  

I’d Rather Be Reading (but keep a log of your books too!)

We’re nearing the end of the year and I need to wrap up some books I have been on (my stack of “reading-now books” alongside my chair in the den is diminishing) before the new year begins and I delve into the new ones (the stack of “to-be-read-next books” is increasing!).

rather-be-reading-bogel-2018And so tonight I read the last short chapter of Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life.  This wonderful little volume has been a fun and motivating read, as this fellow bibliophile has reflected on a lifetime of reading and gathering books. Her final chapter is taken from the book’s title (or perhaps, the other way around), and it is from”Id Rather Be Reading” that I quote in this post.

Here are Bogel’s closing thoughts on keeping a journal of what you read:

Logging my books changed my reading life in another way. The act of writing things down inspires me to read more. Sure, it’s fun to add another completed title to my list. But my log also helps me notice when I’m in a busy period and reading takes a backseat, nudging me to do something about it before too many days go by without adding a book to my list.

…Reader, if you’d rather live in your reading moment than document it, I totally get it. I’d rather be reading too. But learn from my bookish regret: I don’t care what system you use (and I use the word system loosely) as long as you use one. Start today, because as soon as you begin, you’re going to wish you’d begun sooner. Record your books as a gift to your future self, a travelogue you’ll be able to pull off the shelf years form now, to remember the journey.

We are readers.  Books grace our shelves and fill our homes with beauty; they dwell in our minds and occupy our thoughts. Books prompt us to spend pleasant hours alone and connect us with fellow readers. They invite us to escape into their pages for an afternoon, and they inspire us to reimagine our lives. Good reading journals provide glimpses of how we’ve spent our days, and they tell the story of our lives. [pp.144-45]

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And so I will also mention that this weekend I picked up a very special edition of Dante’s Inferno. A nice addition to my collection, methinks.

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Published in: on December 9, 2019 at 10:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Recent PRC Seminary Images (Inside and Out!) – November/December 2019

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Since our last PRC Seminary update in pictures, much more has happened that has been captured in photos. So, in this post we bring you up to date with a selection of images from the last month.

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Yes, we did have an early snow in the middle of November – always pretty and exciting, especially for those of our number from Mexico and Australia who don’t get exposed to a lot of this white wonder. 🙂 But then things returned to normal – gray skies and green grass!

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As usual, our friendly turkey and deer neighbors make their appearance, including a nice buck – a little unusual.

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On the plant side of things, Mrs. Judi Doezema’s Thanksgiving cactus broke out in full bloom just in time again – always a treat in our entry way.

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Our Friday brat/burger lunches are always special, especially when wives, children (including new babies!), and friends join us. And sometimes we have a guest give a talk on something, as Mr. Rick Noorman did recently on PR Christian School teacher training.

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On Wednesdays during devotion times we often have area PRC ministers give a chapel talk, as Rev. N. Decker (Grandville PRC) did this past week.

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In other exciting news, we recently had our final building inspection on the new addition and were approved, so we could finally start moving the PRC archives into their new home upstairs. Over the last two weeks about 2/3rds of the boxes have been moved into the new room. Kevin Rau has been my willing and ready moving partner!

Out of the old room downstairs…

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Around the outside with our carts…

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And into the new room!

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And due to the extra space at this point, we have a better home for our rare books and Dutch titles as well as lesser used magazine boxes from the library.

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And our other archivist assistant, Mr. Bob Drnek, has also moved upstairs into the archives “research room” to continue his work of organizing and cataloging.

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So grateful for the new archive room(s)! We have plenty of room to grow (tripled our size with the Spacesaver shelving)!

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Finally, in the physical education department, our ping pong team continues to practice for the seminary winter olympics. 🙂

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The Best Book-time of the Year

BookstorewindowFrom a book-lover’s perspective, the end of the year is the best book-time of the year! That’s because there is so much book attention provided from so many quarters – from end-of-the-year, best-books lists (Amazon, Kirkus, etc.), to great holiday gift-giving guides, to fantastic shelf-clearing sales (Black Friday and Cyber Monday included!).

And while much of this shopping is now done online, let’s not forget the local brick and mortar bookstores, which also provide great selection and competitive sales while giving generous perks for browsing in person in the store (I can spend hours in Baker Books alone!).  I spend close to a quarter of my library budget at the end of the year, and I have a blast finding the best deals and picking up those long-sought after volumes that I waited all year for.

In the spirit of this “best book-time” season, we point you to a few places where you too can find some great bargains for your own library and for gift-giving. I hope it goes without saying (but I will anyway!) that books make the best gifts – from children to teens to adults!

rr-logo-webThe first is Redeemed Reader’s “Gift Ideas for Book Lovers of All Ages.” This is part of the email I received yesterday (Dec.4):

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year . . .
Unless you’re still trying to figure out gifts.  Then maybe it’s a little trying.
Never fear!  We have been assembling some of our favorite book-related gift ideas into lists for you.
Not only that, our Gifts for Book Lovers Page has ALL of our gift lists from this year AND year’s past for you to peruse.
We’re reading (and shopping!) ahead for you.

 

Follow the links to find your treasures!

And then, second, we can direct you to Challies.com, where you will always find good information on the latest Christian books . And, looking ahead, he has already issued his 2020 Reading Challenge!

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And, finally, Reformation Heritage Books has a wonderful selection of solid Reformed books for the family and churches – many children’s titles and even more for the adult reader. So take some time to browse their busy website and find some good books for your own reading benefit and for the benefit of those who receive your gifts.

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Have you seen any Christmas book trees in your local library? Be on the lookout! In the meantime, here’s one I’ve posted before. Merry booking! 🙂

Published in: on December 4, 2019 at 10:53 PM  Leave a Comment  

More on Hearing the Word of God Preached: “Always listening is an act of worship.”

Eccles5-1-2The following excerpt from a Standard Bearer article was published this past Sunday in the bulletin of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N. Ireland. I realized as soon as I read it that it would make a great addition to the series I had been doing on listening to the preaching of God’s Word.

In this article from the rubric “My Sheep Hear My Voice” Prof. H. Hanko has some profitable thoughts for us on the nature of listening as an act of worship, and it is from that part of the article that I quote in this post. May it lead us to worshipful hearing of the Word today.

Letter to Timothy

by Prof. Herman Hanko
(an article in the Standard Bearer, vol. 58, #6 – Dec.15, 1981)

In the last letter to you I mentioned, somewhat in passing, that our attitude towards the preacher and our attitude towards the preaching were inseparably related to each other. I want to say a bit more about that in this letter, especially from the viewpoint of what is involved in listening to a sermon. I wonder sometimes whether we have lost the art of listening. Or, if I may repeat that passage from Ecclesiastes which I quoted last time, “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” Do we really know how to do this?

…Always listening is an act of worship. The whole of the church service on the Lord’s day is worship, of course. Fundamentally, worship, according to the Scriptural idea, is “bowing the knee towards” God, for that is the most basic meaning of the word which is consistently translated as worship. Worship is, therefore, an act of adoration and praise. It is an acknowledgement of God as the sovereign Lord and as the One who alone is worthy of all honor and glory. All worship basically involves this. Whether we sing or pray, whether we confess our faith or bring our offerings, this is the essence of worship. But listening to God’s Word is also worship. It is an act of adoration and praise at bottom and an acknowledgement of the absolute lordship of Almighty God.

Listening to the sermon is an act of worship, however, in its own unique way. Listening is worship because our listening must be an inward confession that the Almighty God of heaven and earth, our Jehovah who saves us, has the sovereign right to speak to us and require of us that we listen to what He has to say. There is an element here of listening as acknowledgement of God’s absolute sovereignty over us. We must listen because God has authority over us. Listening is acknowledgement of that. But there is also the aspect of praise and adoration because we listen to Him who tells us what great things He has done for us.

There are illustrations which help make this clear. If a parent is giving his child instruction in a certain matter and is using that instruction as a basis to admonish the child, the parent expects the child to pay attention. If the child does not pay attention, lets his mind wander while the parent is talking and assumes an attitude of indifference, then the child, by such conduct, refuses to acknowledge the authority of the parent in his life and the parent has the right to say, “Listen to me; I am your father.” The other aspect can also be illustrated. Supposing that I am a very poor beggar who has nothing in the world and who can survive only by eating out of garbage cans, fighting with wild dogs for a place to sleep, and struggling to keep warm in cold weather by lying near doors of locked buildings where a bit of heat may seep under the door; supposing further that the king of the land, for some reason known only to himself, calls me into the palace and begins to tell me that he intends to give me a very important place in his kingdom where I will have riches and influence, and opportunity to join in policy discussions and decisions, and the rule over others; supposing that while the king is talking about all this I am so unmoved by what he says and so indifferent to what he is talking about that I simply pay no attention and do not even hear what is being said—such conduct is an insult to the king and brands me as the crassest of fools.

To listen with thankfulness and joy, with adoration and praise to what God tells us of the salvation He has graciously given in Christ is the worship of listening. To listen with humble submission to the authority of our heavenly King is to worship in listening.

Paul tells us in II Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God. But He tells us too why God gave the Scriptures: they are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. If we listen to the preaching of the Scriptures we will be profited. We will learn doctrine, we will be reproved and corrected, we will be instructed in righteousness. And, according to II Timothy 3:17, this is all that we need that we, as men of God, may be perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

All of this requires that our listening be spiritual. But I think it best to discuss this with you in a subsequent letter.

And perhaps we can return to that article in a future post.

Thanksgiving Day 2019 – “Thanks Be to God!”

2Cor9-15The gift that believers truly give thanks for is an unspeakable gift.  It is a gift of priceless possession—a gift that once given we cannot lose!  It is a gift that, if we possess it, will have an effect on all those earthly gifts we receive from God.  What is the unspeakable gift I am talking about?  Salvation! It is a gift that God has given us in Jesus Christ Himself.  In fact, if we were to focus exactly on the unspeakable gift God has given us, it is Christ!  God sent forth His Son into this world.  That was a gift.  That Son suffered and died on the cross for us!  That is a gift!  That Son was raised again for our justification and life.  That is a gift!  That Son has sent forth His Spirit to live in our hearts.  A gift!  That Son preserves us in that salvation.  A gift!  And Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will usher us into the heavenly kingdom that awaits us.  A gift!  God gives us all of this in Christ Jesus our Lord!  Talk about a reason for giving thanks!

        Notice how our text emphasizes that all of this is a gift.  Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. We all know what a gift is, that is, if something is truly a gift.  It is something freely given to another—not because he has merited it or earned it.  Most of the time when we give gifts it is to those we love or like, and simply is an expression of our appreciation for them.  If this is true, then it is amazing when we look at what God does in bestowing gifts on His creatures.  These gifts of God are not only not earned, they are also not deserved in the least sense of the word.  They are not an expression of appreciation by God for something we have done.  They are given wholly, purely, out of God’s goodness!  He is good!

        The fount of all good!  Out of His goodness He provides the creatures of His hand with what they need.  Our earthly possessions are a gift given us by means of God’s providence—God provides for all His creatures.  Even the reprobate man receives earthly possessions and wealth from God’s almighty hand.  But the gift of our salvation that is given is even more so a gift!  It is ours by means of God’s grace!  Is this not the testimony of the gospel to you and me, beloved saints?  We receive our salvation not of works.  We receive it only by God’s sovereign and free grace.  In fact, we were not even worthy of receiving this gift!  We were doomed to perish in our sins.  There was no hope!  There was no way of escaping punishment for the sins we committed against God.  Then God, freely and sovereignly, saved us.  He in His grace sent His Son to die for us—the Son that He had loved from eternity.  God sent Christ to bear the full punishment of His wrath against our sins and delivered us.  This gift of God is unspeakable! We cannot express its beauty, its power, its wonder, its worth in human terms!  We do not even know how to put into words the joy and thanksgiving that we have for what God has done for us in Christ!

        How does one begin to describe what great things God has done for us who are saved in the blood of Christ?  He has saved us and by means of that salvation has adopted us as His children and heirs unto life eternal.  In His grace He has chosen to fellowship with us, to uphold us in our needs, to grant to us the knowledge that in every circumstance of life He, the great and mighty God of heaven and earth, is with us.  He will uphold us in the hour of our greatest temptation and trial.  He will lead us even through the valley of the shadow of death!  He is our God and we are His people.  The blessedness given us freely by the hand of God is indeed the greatest, most wonderful of all gifts!  It is unspeakable, indescribable, unutterable, beyond our finite comprehension what God has done for us!  Thanks be to God!

        This salvation—this gift of God’s grace to us—works in us overwhelming gratitude. And in that gratitude, we take a new look at the earthly gifts we have received from God’s hand.  Now, we see that these are means that we can use to seek a higher end—that of our final salvation.  No, they will not help us earn that end. But we can use them for the work of the Lord in this world.  Not only do we use our money and our possessions to support our family.  We certainly do not selfishly horde that money and say, “It’s mine!  I will use it for me, for what I want.”  But we use it also to support the church and help those in need!

        So we get the instruction we do in II Corinthians 9:6, 7:  “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver.” That is the relationship between the earthly and the spiritual gifts we receive from the hands of our God.  But our thanks is given not simply because of the unspeakable gift.  Look, also, at who gives it.

Part of the Thanksgiving message of Rev. W. Bruinsma for the Reformed Witness Hour this past Sunday, November 24. You may listen to the message here; you may read it here.

May the Lord of abundant grace richly bless your Thanksgiving Day, and give you abundant joy in Him and and deep thanks to Him.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103:1,2

Saved by Grace: Faith as God’s Gracious Gift and Work – H. Hoeksema

wonderofgrace-hh… and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.– Ephesians 2:8

We are saved by grace and through faith. Another way than that of faith in Jesus Christ, the Christ of the Scriptures, Who was delivered for our transgressions and raised for our justification, there is not.

…It is an important question, therefore: what is this faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and what does it mean to believe in Him?

…Secondly, we must observe that this saving faith is faith in or into Jesus Christ as the revelation of the God of our salvation. This is often emphasized in Scripture. We do read sometimes of believing on Jesus, and then the idea of faith as confidence appears to have the emphasis. But the true character of saving faith is expressed in the phrase: faith in Christ. He who has the true faith believes into Christ.

What does this signify?

It means that faith is that altogether mysterious and wonderful spiritual power whereby the soul strikes its roots into Christ, to cling to Him, appropriate Him, and draw out of Him all the glorious blessings of salvation which are in Him – the forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and life. The difference between a believer and an unbeliever is not unlike that between a living young tree and a dead fence post. You can plant that fence post deep into the ground, but you do not expect that it will show signs of life and develop branches and fruit. On the contrary, it will rot in the soil in which it is planted. But plant a young sapling in the same soil, and it will strike its roots into the ground, draw nourishment from it, grow and bear fruit. The same is true of a living, saving faith in relation to Christ. Bring the unbelieving, dead sinner into contact with Christ as He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and there will be no saving reaction. On the contrary, there is a reaction of unbelief unto damnation. But if the believer is led to Christ through the preaching of the Word, he will take hold of Him, cling to Him, strike the roots of his entire soul into Him, and draw out of Him all the spiritual nourishment necessary unto eternal life. What the roots are for the young tree, saving faith is for the believer in Christ: by faith the believer is rooted in Him. And since Christ is revealed to us in the Scriptures, true faith always turns to them, has its delight in the Word of God, is called into activity through the Word preached, and constantly grows according as it increases in the knowledge and understanding of all that God has revealed to us in His Word.

The activity of a true and conscious faith, therefore, engages the entire soul, with mind and will and all our desires and inclinations. Through faith the whole soul fastens itself upon Christ.

…From all that we have said about the nature and activity of saving faith it also should have become evident what is the relation between faith and salvation. He that believeth shall be saved, have everlasting life. But why? What is the relation between salvation and faith?

The impression is often left by preachers who present the matter of faith as something that depends on the sinner’s own will and choice, as if faith were a condition unto salvation. God is willing to save us on condition that we believe. But there are no conditions to salvation. We are not saved on condition of faith, or on the ground of, or because of our faith. The only ground of our salvation is Jesus, crucified and raised. Nor are we saved through faith because faith is regarded as a good work, or because through faith we are able to do good works and obtain righteousness before God. For we are saved by grace; and if it is of works, it is no more of grace. It cannot even be said that faith is the hand whereby we take hold of the salvation that is offered us. Salvation is not an offer, but a wonder work of God; and the sinner has no hand to accept it. But faith is the means, and that, too, God’s means, whereby we are implanted into Christ. It is the spiritual power whereby we cling to the God of our salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord, our righteousness and perfect redemption forever! By grace are ye saved, not on condition of, nor because of, but through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Yes, faith is by grace. It is the gift of God! This, too, should be perfectly evident from all that has been said about its nature and activity; but it is not superfluous to accentuate this truth. How often this truth is distorted in our day! How many there are who, even though they do not literally preach that faith is the work of man, leave the impression by their way of preaching, their pleading and begging, that it is in the power of any sinner to believe in Christ whenever he pleases, and to reject Him as he pleases! 0, the matter is so simple and easy, say they. Just say that you accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and the thing is settled! And so they change the wonder work of God into an arbitrary whim of the sinner’s will. But it is not so. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. (Romans 9:16) Only when the Holy Spirit accomplishes the wonder work of faith in the heart can the sinner accept Christ. And he in whom the Spirit has wrought the marvelous work of faith neither can nor will ever reject Him. And through that faith he is surely saved. Saved he is now: for he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. And saved he shall be in the day of the revelation of Jesus Christ: for he shall then be made like Him in resurrection glory.

By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God!

Taken from chapter 7, “Believing Through Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.58-65. This work has now been republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

The Lunar Bible | Museum of the Bible

Have you ever heard of this special Bible, now part of the Museum of the Bible collection? It is called the Lunar Bible, and it is part of a fascinating story, one I was not familiar with until yesterday (Nov.19), when on the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing of Apollo 12, the Museum of the Bible sent out this note:

The story of the Lunar Bible is a fascinating tale of tragedy and triumph. The saga began in 1967 with Apollo 1 astronaut Ed White telling reporters he wanted to take a Bible to the moon. Sadly, an accident during a test run for its launch took the lives of the Apollo 1 crew.

In their honor, the Apollo Prayer League was formed to pray for the safety of future astronauts and to honor Ed White by taking a Bible to the moon. Using technology developed by the National Cash Register Company, Reverend John Stout, founder of the Apollo Prayer League, had a microfiche version of the King James Bible produced measuring only an inch-and-a-half square.

It took a few tries to get the Bible to the moon. Fifty years ago, today, the Apollo 12 lunar module, manned by Commander Charles Conrad and pilot Alan Bean, landed on the moon. Unfortunately, the astronauts left a microfiche Bible on the command module, which meant the first book to land on a celestial body would have to wait.

The Apollo 13 mission tried again, but an explosion on board the spacecraft thwarted the attempt. The astronauts returned safely but were not able to land on the moon. Finally, on February 5, 1971, Apollo 14 returned to the moon, at last bringing 100 copies of the “Lunar Bible” to its surface.

At the MOB website, you will find a small collection of Lunar bible artifacts, which includes this description of its history (just viewed a little differently).

Prior to his death in 1967, Astronaut Edward White II (Apollo 1) told a reporter he hoped to carry a Bible to the moon. In his memory, the Apollo Prayer League formed in 1968, in part to fulfill that desire. Several missions attempted to land the Bible on the moon. Alan Bean (Apollo 12) was the first, but due to a mix-up the Bible only orbited the moon. Apollo 13 carried 512 copies, but an explosion prevented a lunar landing. Finally, in 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell carried 300 copies of the Bible with him (100 in the lunar module, 200 in the command module, and 212 also secretly stowed in the command module). On February 5, 1971, Antares, Apollo 14’s lunar module, touched down on the moon, bringing with it the Bible.

View the link below to visit this small collection with a large story. Amazing where God’s Word has gone!

Source: The Lunar Bible | Museum of the Bible

Mindful to Be Grateful: November 2019 Tabletalk

Tis the season to be thankful. Or so we are told. And in this month of November it may seem that our thanksgiving is even scheduled, set for the fourth Thursday. Indeed, we will pause as a nation on that 28th day of this month and express thanks for God’s manifold gifts, for harvest and for home.

But, for the Christian, thankfulness has no season; or perhaps we should better say, thanksgiving is never out of season. We are called to be thankful and to give thanks “always” and “for all things” (Eph.5:20). And the psalmist has to remind himself and exhort himself to thanks and praise in his daily life: “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Ps.103:1-2).

TT-Nov-2019With this in mind the November 2019 issue of Tabletalk addresses from multiple angles our calling to “gratefulness,” its theme. Burk Parsons has good words to introduce the theme in his editorial “Gratefulness and Entitlement.” Here is part of it:

…I have come to realize that regardless of the age of my friends, one of the characteristics they all have in common is that they are deeply grateful because of the hardships they have all experienced. In God’s providence, life’s hardships train us to be grateful. And while I am thankful to know many young people who are grateful because of the example of gratefulness in their homes and the work of God in their hearts, generally speaking, when I consider younger generations, I am concerned about what seems to be a general lack of gratefulness and a sense of entitlement. Entitlement is the enemy of gratefulness, but the closest friends of gratefulness are humility and contentment. The only way to have abiding gratefulness, through good times and hard times, is to humbly ask our Father to make us grateful and to ask Him daily to make us even more grateful. When we do that, we do well to remember that the road to abiding gratefulness is often paved with hardship that rids our hearts of any sense of entitlement. By the sovereign grace of God, hardship leads to humility, contentment, and gratefulness—not because of what we have, but because of who we have—the One who gives and who takes away to the end that we might forever proclaim, “Blessed be the name of the LORD(Job 1:21).

One of the first featured articles on the theme is William Barcley’s “Ungratefulness as the Root of Sin.” In that article he contrasts gratitude with ingratitude over and over, so that the point is driven home. This is part of what he says:

God created man—then re-created His people—to worship Him. In the classic work The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs writes, “Worship is not only doing what pleases God, but also being pleased with what God does.” Worship includes taking delight in and giving thanks for all that God brings into our lives—in all circumstances. The thankful heart is the worshipful heart. The thankless heart is incapable of worshiping God.

In Romans 1:18–3:20, Paul delivers a sweeping and comprehensive detailing of human sin and God’s condemnation. No person is excluded (“all have sinned”). No shade of sin is left out—from covetousness to malice, from envy to murder, from gossip to slander, from hating God to disobeying parents, from the rebellious to the self-righteous, from doing evil to inventing evil, and from committing sin to approving of those who commit sin. At the root of it all, however, is humanity’s failure to honor God as God and give Him thanks (1:21).

In its essence, ingratitude is a rejection of God. It is a rejection of Him as Creator and Ruler of all things. It is a rejection of God as the giver of life, the giver of every blessing, whether expected or unexpected, whether pleasant or painful. Even in prison, Paul rejoiced and exhorted the Philippians to rejoice with him. He exhorted others to give thanks always. Believers have thankful spirits because they recognize that whatever we have, wherever we are, and, indeed, all that we are comes from the hand of God—for His glory and for our good

In this season of the year, let us repent of our own ungratefulness and learn to walk in true gratefulness toward the God of boundless grace to us poor sinners.

For more reading in this issue of “TT,” visit the links provided.

Source: Ungratefulness as the Root of Sin | Tabletalk

Doing God’s Work: “…the church of Jesus Christ needs to be like a beehive.’ – A. Kuyper

Larvae of bees in the combs illustration .

Are working and believing contradictory? Is not working something to be celebrated by Christians? Is doing nothing honorable for them? Will idleness be their crown of glory?

If not, what does it mean to be working? Isn’t it simply an expression of life? Doesn’t it indicate that they are alive? That they are living, breathing people?

Someone who’s dead doesn’t work. People don’t work during the night. Someone who is stretched out unconscious isn’t working. But the voice of the Great Shepherd calls to whomever has any life in them at all. He appeals to all for whom the light shines, to every individual who knows that they exist, who is living, and who is standing before the face of God. He says: ‘Work while it is still day, for the night is coming in which no one can work!’

No, it’s not working that we need to avoid, but working for selfish reasons. We’re not like ants that gather in order to enjoy what they’ve gathered. We’re not even less like spiders that store up in order to produce a toxin. But we work like the honeybee that produces honey in the hive not for itself but for the the beekeeper who sells it.

Well then, the church of Jesus Christ needs to be like a beehive. There everyone strives to contribute their very best. They use their gifts without letup in order to pour our the purest honey from the honeycomb. They do this not to consume that precious, virgin honey themselves, but to offer it in honor of him to whom the entire church belongs.

Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.237-238.

This particular meditation (#74 of Volume 1) is titled “Doing God’s Work” and is based on John 6:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” I plan to return to this meditation again, because Kuyper has some good thoughts on the relation between believing and working that are worth our time and consideration.