Book Alert! “150 Questions about the Psalter” – Bradley Johnston

150-Questions-Psalter-Johnston-2014As book review editor for The Standard Bearer, we recently received a complimentary copy of a new publication from Crown & Covenant Publications titled 150 Questions about the Psalter: What You Need to Know about the Songs God Wrote (2014, 112 pgs., $9.00). The author is Bradley Johnston, a pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, an exclusive Psalm-singing denomination.

The publisher provides this brief summary of the book on its website:

Who wrote the psalms, and why? Can we find Jesus in the Psalter? How do these ancient songs matter today?

In the style of a catechism, this books draws you into the majestic, meditative depths of the inspired songs of God. Divided into seven short sections, 150 questions and answers address the content and arrangement of the Psalter, Psalm genres and groupings, the historical context of the author, the Psalms relationship to the rest of Scripture and the life of Christ, and their use in private and public worship.

With appendixes that feature worksheets and charts, quotations from theologians and church fathers, this resource helps individuals, families, and churches understand and embrace the psalter for themselves.

This is a fine little book on the OT Psalter of the church, with the 150 questions and their answers giving Christians and the church today ample reason to sing the Psalms yet today, whether exclusively or predominantly. Think of it as a “catechism on the Psalms.” In addition, there are seven appendixes that treat special topics relating to the Psalms, such as “The Psalter in the New Testament”, “Martin Luther’s Favorite Psalms”, and “Arranging the Psalter in Your Head.” Charts and lists in this section add to the profit of the material covered.

As an example of the type of questions asked and answered, we quote two of them here:

8 How is the Psalter helpful to Christian saints?

There is no one book of Scripture that has been more helpful to Christian saints in all the ages of the church than the Psalter, ever since it was written. When we sing the Psalms we join our voices with true worshipers among the nations and throughout history who lift their souls to the Lord in faith (Psalm 25:1).

9 Why should Christians sing the Psalter?

Christians should sing the Psalter because the new covenant is like a marriage bond between God and his people, bringing joy and delight. But the main reason we ought to sing Psalms is because this practice is commanded by God through the apostles (p.4).

▶ The Frequency of English Words: Bubbled (Part 1)

▶ The Frequency of English Words: Bubbled (Part 1) – YouTube.

This is an interesting video using the latest technology to show how frequently certain words are used in the English language. We feature it today for our “Word Wednesday” post.


Published in: on July 29, 2015 at 7:01 AM  Leave a Comment  

Luther on the Christian Life (2)

The 3 R's Blog:

Luther on Chr Life -TruemanWith Justin Smidstra’s permission, I re-post his recent review of a book I have mentioned here as well: Carl Trueman’s new title, Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (Crossway, 2015).

Justin plans to do a chapter-by-chapter review of the book, so look for more to come here as well as on the Young Calvinists blog. This post is his comments on chapter two of Trueman’s book.

Originally posted on Young Calvinists:

In the second chapter of Luther on the Christian Life Truman explains Luther’s important theological development at the Heidelberg Disputation. This disputation took place early in Luther’s career as a reformer. The significance of this event lies in the fact that it gives us a glimpse of Luther’s thought as it was in the process of maturing. Much of the theology of the Reformation can be found here in seed form in Luther’s Heidelberg theses. To help us understand this event, Truman provides a little historical background. In April of 1517 Luther was given opportunity to present his theology at a convention of the Augustinian order held at Heidelberg. Luther’s presentation was carried out in the form of a disputation. The disputation was a common method employed in the middle ages to address questions of theology and philosophy. In this format a number of theses were defended and an opponent…

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Published in: on July 28, 2015 at 9:38 PM  Leave a Comment  

Chain, Chest, Curse: Combating Book Theft in Medieval Times

The 3 R's Blog:

You will appreciate this fascinating post about how libraries battled book theft in the Middle Ages. I am glad we no longer have to resort to such measures! :)

Originally posted on medievalbooks:

Do you leave your e-reader or iPad on the table in Starbucks when you are called to pick up your cup of Joe? You’re probably not inclined to do this, because the object in question might be stolen. The medieval reader would nod his head approvingly, because book theft happened in his day too. In medieval times, however, the loss was much greater, given that the average price of a book – when purchased by an individual or community – was much higher. In fact, a more appropriate question would be whether you would leave the keys in the ignition of your car with the engine running when you enter Starbucks to order a coffee. Fortunately, the medieval reader had various strategies to combat book theft. Some of these appear a bit over the top to our modern eyes, while others seem not effective at all.

The least subtle but most effective way to keep your books safe…

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Published in: on July 28, 2015 at 6:43 AM  Leave a Comment  

Humanism and the 15th Century Church: Erasmus and the Greek NT – R.Reeves

Setting the Stage by Ryan Reeves | Reformed Theology Articles at

Before taking leave of the July issue of Tabletalk, we will spend one more post looking at the history of the church during the 15th century – the theme of this month’s issue.

Dr. Ryan Reeves has the final featured article on the subject and he gives us another “big picture” glance at this important century of church history.

ErasmusHis entire article is worth your time and effort – lots of new things to learn or be reminded of as far as major events during this time; but I will give you the end of his article because of the special significance of a certain Dutchman whom God used to set the stage for the Reformation in a special way, and whom a certain great Reformer would engage theologically and biblically on the doctrine of free will (Remember the great Reformation work The Bondage of the Will?!).

Sensing the opportunity to expand learning and literacy, the humanists unleashed a torrent of writing on theology, Bible, classical studies, and history. Of all the humanists, Erasmus of Rotterdam was their prince. Born in 1466 as the illegitimate son of a priest, Erasmus demonstrated skill with languages and textual criticism that propelled him onto the stage as a leading light of the new intellectual movement of the Renaissance. In the course of his life, Erasmus gave the world complete editions of the works of the church fathers as well as numerous tracts on theological subjects.

By far his most impactful work was the Greek New Testament—a work he admitted was gathered in a slapdash manner from twelfth-century Byzantine texts, with some passages wrongly added to the Bible and six verses of the book of Revelation missing entirely. The Greek New Testament was something like a modern interlinear Bible. In one column was the Greek text; next to it was a fresh Latin translation by Erasmus. Not only did this provide readers with the original Greek, but it also provided a road map for students to help determine how to render the Greek into their language. It is no surprise, then, that Luther used this text as the basis of his German New Testament, which he translated after his trial at the Diet of Worms.

Through destruction and exploration, the fifteenth century did more than bridge the gap between the medieval age and the modern world; it set the stage for the Reformation.


Fighting the Prince of Darkness through the Prince of princes – D.Thomas

Christian & his burdenSatan or ‘the devil’ has ‘wiles’ – schemes and ploys to cause us to falter and halt our perseverance. One of these is to speak evil against us (as the label devil, which means ‘slanderer,’ suggests), making us out to be worse than we think and therefore unworthy to be called Christians. This Satan does a great deal, but he overplays, as John Bunyan so brilliantly illustrates in The Pilgrim’s Progress. There, Apollyon (‘destroyer,’ another name for the devil; Rev.9:11) mockingly berates Christian for the tardiness of his profession of faith. In short, he is a hypocrite. Christians responds:

All this is true, and much more which you have left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honour is merciful and ready to forgive. Besides, these sins possessed me in your own country; I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, but now have obtained pardon from my Prince.

We are much worse than we ever confess, but the gospel is for sinners. Christian, get to know this wily ploy of Satan’s – and stand firm in the gospel.

From the pen of Dr. Derek Thomas, as found in the July 25-26, 2015 weekend devotional in Tabletalk.

To find this classic online, visit this link.

“To desire peace at the expense of truth is hypocrisy and weakness – and highly displeasing to God. ” ~ Abraham Kuyper

Moreover, there can be no real and lasting peace in the church of God without full harmony of opinions and belief. If doctrines were so toned down and moderated that they were capable of more than one interpretation, those who differed in opinion would still argue and each would do all he could to uphold and spread his own interpretation. For what a man conscientiously accepts as truth, he desires others to believe also. The false unity would not last.

We must indeed seek peace, with all earnestness. Bitterness, ill will, malice, and love of dispute should never characterize a Christian in his defense of the truth. Instead, there should be a sincere interest in the honor of God and in the well-being of our fellowmen. Paul says, ‘As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men’ [Rom.12:18].

But when he says, ‘As much as lieth in you’ he plainly implies that sometimes peace is impossible. When peace is injurious to the truth, peace must give way. Peace with God is of greater value than peace with men. To desire peace at the expense of truth is hypocrisy and weakness – and highly displeasing to God.

Having then purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently [1 Pet.1:22]. Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love: endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace [Eph.4:1-3].

And the God of mercy and peace, the God of order and unity, grant that we may be of one mind and may together praise Him in unity of faith, now and eternally.

PracticeofGodliness-AKuyper-1948-2Dr. Abraham Kuyper in the chapter titled “The Church of Jesus Christ”, found in The Practice of Godliness, (translated and edited by Marian M. Schoolland; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), pp.51-52.

PRC Seminary Updates – July 24, 2015

A flurry of activity has marked the last two weeks at our Seminary, as the new driveway project winds down and finishing touches are put on it. The new driveway and parking lot themselves have been in for some time now, but the sign was not finished, nor the landscaping and reseeding.

But as of this week all these are completed (Bouwkamp finished the stone work on the sign and Kregel’s got the landscaping done) – and the look is grand! We just have to make sure the new plants, trees, and grass receive plenty of water during these dry, hot July days. Thanks to the old and new underground sprinkling system, they are. :)

Therefore, we present you with a few more pictures of the project to bring you up-to-date.  We continue to receive lots of pleasant reviews on the look and feel of the new driveway – especially the gentle slope and weave! :)

Kregel workers, Jordan & John, planting the new maples.

Kregel workers, Jordan & John, planting the new maples.

Landscaping of the new sign begins.

Landscaping of the new sign begins.

Looking great around the new sign!

Looking great around the new sign!

After hard work prepping the ground for seeding, Jordan & John do the hydroseeding.

After hard work prepping the ground for seeding, Jordan & John do the hydroseeding.

More hydroseeding by Kregels.

More hydroseeding by Kregels.

Insta-green soil everywhere!

Insta-green soil everywhere!

The final sections - including the old driveway!

The final sections – including the old driveway!

A clean, bright look at the new sign on Scenic River Dr.

A clean, bright look at the new sign on Scenic River Dr.

And in our critter update, we can report that the does and their new fawns are doing just fine, even with the loss of some woods around us. We have counted a total of three doe and six fawns now – that’s right, a single birth, twins, and triplets! Enjoy!

3 of the new 2015 fawns

3 of the new 2015 fawns

And a 4th joins the crowd.

And a 4th with its doe joins the crowd.

Published in: on July 24, 2015 at 4:53 PM  Leave a Comment  

An Underground Library as a Powerful Tribute | Book Patrol

Susanna Hesselberg’s Underground Library | Book Patrol.

For our first “Friday Fun” item today we feature this striking underground library – though it has a sad story attached to it.

Here’s one of the pictures “Book Patrol” had on their blog, along with the introduction to the story; click on the link above to see more images.


Every two years on the coast of Denmark the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition takes place. It is the nations largest outdoor exhibition and for this years incarnation 56 site-specific sculptures graced the Danish coast.

Among them was Susanna Hesselberg’s homage to her father and books:  “When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down” (a reference to Laurie Anderson’s song World Without End).

Reminiscent of the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland the library descends deep underground. With the top sealed and only the page ends visible the library is completely inaccessible. The work powerfully portrays the depth of her grief and becomes a search for meaning within the context of a great loss.


A Significant First PRC-GR Bulletin – August 30, 1964

For our PRC archives item today we publish a bulletin from First PRC, Grand Rapids, MI, dated August 30, 1964. An inconspicuous date, you may think – until you read the notices and see what was happening in this historic PRC, especially as regards her crippled pastor, Rev. Herman Hoeksema.

Here you will find from his own pen, a significant pastoral note to the congregation informing them of his condition following his second stroke. This would mark the beginning of the end of his earthly sojourn.

Below is the front cover of the bulletin as it appeared in those days, and the inside pages with its various announcements – other significant ones too (click on the images to enlarge). Reminding us on this date of July 23, 2015 that the life of God’s people – pastors too – is one of affliction and hope – for we are all pilgrims and strangers in this world.



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