Literary Landmark: Hackley Public Library and the Books of V.Aardema Vugteveen

Literary Landmark: Hackley Public Library | I Love Libraries.

I wanted to post this yesterday but didn’t get to it, so we include it in today’s posts.

“I Love Libraries” included in their weekly items (Jan.29, 2015) a special feature (“Literary Landmarks”) on a West Michigan library (Hackley Public Library in Muskegon) and local author Verna Aardema Vugtaveen.

Why Mosquitos Buzz - AardemaIf you are not familiar with this author, perhaps you ought to learn more about her and the children’s books she wrote. I have not seen or read any of these yet, but I plan to. They sound fascinating. And I think our grandchildren just might find them so too. Besides, with a name like Verna (my wife’s name), you know Mrs.Vugteveen had to be someone special. 🙂

Here’s the first part of the story; find the rest the link provided above.

The Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, Mich., was dedicated a Literary Landmark in honor of children’s book author and storyteller Verna Aardema Vugteveen (1911-2000). Vugteveen (1911-2000) was an award-winning children’s author who based her stories on traditional folk tales from Africa, Latin America and other countries. Hackley Public Library and its librarians provided the setting and support for her research. Vugteveen is the author of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, which won the Caldecott Medal in 1976, as well as more than 30 children’s books and collections of stories. Among the awards she received were the School Library Journal Best Book of the Year Award in 1977 and the Parents’ Choice Award for Literature in 1984. Her books have been published in a number of languages, including French, Spanish, Japanese and Afrikaans. Vugteveen is known as “Muskegon’s Story Lady.” Vugteveen’s book Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain is dedicated to “my librarian, Bernice Houseward.” “I owe a lot to the librarians at Hackley,” wrote Vugteveen. “They obtained most of my source stories through interlibrary loan. All of the tales in my first book, ‘Tales from the Story Hat,’ came right from the books at Hackley Library.”


Recommendations to Improve Your Reading Life

Recommendations to Improve Your Reading Life.

SofareadingThis was one of those links to a special article about improving one’s reading life found in my “Publishers Weekly” email yesterday. In it Brenna C.Gray gives some short, practical advice on making our reading better (posted Jan.30, 2015).

Here’s her opening paragraphs:

Being a reader is a life-long project, and we all want to do it well. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the parts of a reader’s life that feel insurmountable — the TBR list you’ll never complete; the library hold list you’ll never catch up on; all the amazing books you’ll never hear about, let alone find and own!

But there are little ways we can enrich our reading lives every day: small changes we can make or ideas we can try to change up our reading patterns and find new books to love. Here are forty places to start.

And here are her first ten suggestions:

1. Wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual and use that time to read a poem.

2. Visit your library — especially if it’s been awhile — and ask a librarian for a recommendation.

3. Let go of one reading prejudice and never think about it again.

4. Read one book in a genre you think you despise.

5. Ask someone you respect for a book suggestion, and read it right away.

6. Give away the book that’s been on your TBR pile the longest.

7. Volunteer for an organization that promotes literacy.

8. Read a book that looks like it will make you feel uncomfortable.

9. Commit to a reading challenge.

10. Cull ten books from your collection and donate them without bringing any new books home.

For the other 30 tips, visit the link above. Obviously, some are better than others, and others could be revised to reflect the reading practices of a Christian., but you may still benefit immensely from this list.

The hard part if always doing it. We are only one month into 2015. How can you improve your reading life starting today?

Off the Beaten Path Bookstores

AbeBooks: Off the Beaten Path Bookstores.

It’s the cold and dead of winter, and we are looking for things to do indoors. And yet we still like to travel and venture out as well. Many head to warmer climes, and that’s fine. But some cooler places aren’t bad either.

Book shopping sounds like the perfect remedy. So why not head out and travel to some out of the way, “off the beaten path” bookstores?! Such as these ones featured in a recent Abe Books post. These are truly quite amazing and lovely bookstores – from Homer, Alaska to Oberaudorf, Germany.

Come along, now. I think you are going to enjoy the trip, the shops, and the books 🙂

Here’s the Abe Books introduction – and a glimpse of our first stop.

Booksellers in more than 50 countries can be found on the AbeBooks marketplace. Thousands of easy-to-find bookshops are concentrated in the great cities of the world – London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Sydney and Berlin – but there are also countless sellers located in places that take some finding. Remote islands, tiny villages, small towns that are barely a speck on the map and locations so isolated that they don’t even count as a hamlet. Enjoy our selection of bookshops off the beaten track.

Old Inlet Bookshop

Or, if you are not so adventurous, you can hit your local bookstore this weekend! Maybe we’ll bump into each other. Happy booking – and reading! 🙂


Published in: on January 30, 2015 at 6:33 AM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Archives Mystery Photo – A Historic Group: the First PRC Synod, 1940

Last week for our PRC archives post we featured a mystery photo once again, this time of a historic group of men.

PRC Archives Pic - 19

Prof.R.Dykstra left the first comment and asked, “Is it the first PRC synod, 1940?” Others wondered if it was the new Consistory of First PRC in 1924, or the reconstituted Consistory of First PRC after the schism of 1953.

The answer is that this is indeed a picture of the delegates to the first PRC Synod, held at First PRC, Grand Rapids, MI in 1940. You may recall that our churches did not have Synods prior to 1940 but met as “combined consistories” initially (1925 and after) and then held Classis meetings (just one but with men from East and West) when the churches grew sufficient in size. In 1940 the churches were able to conduct her business as a Synod for the first time.

Many of you, no doubt, were able to pick out some familiar faces, especially those belonging to the ministers. But there are also many faces and names you do not recognize, with good reason. To that end we also publish this same picture as it appeared in the 25th anniversary booklet of the PRC (1950, which is why two of the men are noted as deceased), since that includes a directory of the names (click on the image to enlarge it).

1st PRC Synod - 1940

We will leave it at this for this week and look forward to something new next week, D.V.  Don’t forget to keep reading and studying your church history! 🙂

Myths About Getting Things Done (2) – M.Perman

Whats Best Next -PermanBefore we move on to other things – and to other content in the new book I have started to read (see my previous post), I share one more myth “about what it means to get things done” from the Preface to Matt Perman’s title What’s Best Next. This is the final myth he treats, and I judge it significant enough to quote today, especially in our age of avoidance of work because of the pursuit of leisure and recreation:

Myth #12: Having to work really hard or even suffer in our work means our priorities are screwed up or we are doing something wrong. I’m not sanctioning the practice of making work an idol to which we sacrifice everything in our lives. Productivity is concerned with all areas of our lives – work, home, community, everything – because all areas of our lives are callings from God.

That said, people who work long hours often take it on the chin too much. The fact that someone is working a lot does not make that person a workaholic. Some people really enjoy their work and want to work a lot. This is not in itself workaholism. Sometimes it is the path God has placed before us. Where do we get the idea that we are exempt from suffering in our work lives?  If we are suffering from and in our work, it does not necessarily mean we are sinning. (See 2 Cor.11:23-29, where Paul even includes all-nighters among his many sufferings.)

Truth: We will (sometimes) suffer from our work, and it is not sin.

In this light, press on in your daily work, hard though it may be! And don’t forget, as Perman also reminds us, this includes our wives and mothers at home, whose work, it seems, never ends 🙂

Myths About Getting Things Done (1) – M.Perman

Whats Best Next -PermanThis past weekend I started reading a newly published book I purchased last summer – Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan 2014). Yes, this is indeed a book on productivity in the Christian’s life, about how to do our daily work in the most effective way for the glory of God. Which means only by His grace and in the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I am intrigued by this book, because as one entrusted with multiple responsibilities (as really all of us are), I struggle at times to be the most productive Christian I can be. So far, I like what I read in Perman’s book, and I look forward to learning how to be properly productive in God’s kingdom.

For today I thought I would introduce you to the book by pointing you to the “Preface”, where Perman busts “twelve myths about what it means to get things done.” I give you the first two for a start – and I think you too will find these mind-altering and perhaps life-changing:

Myth #1: Productivity is about getting more done faster. When most people think of productivity, they think of efficiency – getting more things done faster. While efficiency is important, it is secondary. More important than efficiency is effectiveness – getting the right things done. Efficiency doesn’t matter if you are doing the wrong things in the first place.

Myth #2: The way to be productive is to have the right techniques and tools. Using great tools and the most helpful techniques is a lot of fun. But, like efficiency, this is secondary. This book will give you the most helpful methods for improving your productivity, and will point you to some really cool tools. But one of the central tenets of this book is that the foundation of effectiveness is not first techniques or tools, but character. The only way to make the right decisions is first to be the right kind of person (Rom.12:1-2; 2 Peter 5:1-8), p.13.

Preaching Without Fear or Favor – B.Gritters

SB - Jan15-2015As a good complement to today’s earlier post about the importance of preaching to ourselves, Prof.B.Gritters (PRC Seminary) writes about the importance of faithful ministers of the Word preaching “without fear or favor” (of man) in their congregations.

This is the title of his editorial in the latest issue (Jan.15, 2015) of The Standard Bearer, the Reformed semi-monthly magazine unofficially tied to the PRC. Prof.Gritters uses the Latin expression for his title: “Sine Timore Aut Favore (that is, “without fear or favor”): A Motto for Preachers.”

In this editorial he points out that it is not only true that the pulpit impacts the pew (“preaching changes lives”) but also that the pew can impact the pulpit – and not always for good. The temptation is great for the preacher to cater to the sinful weaknesses of his congregation – out of “fear or favor” of certain members, so that the pew silences the pulpit from addressing the very sins the members needs to repent of.

This is how he addresses this great danger at the end of the article:

The longer there is silence, or a muted sound, on a particular weakness in the congregation, the more difficult it will become ever to speak about it again. The easier it will be simply to abandon this particular aspect of the Christian faith or life.

All the parties involved must pull together to keep the church from this sad end. Ministers must be bold. Indeed wise, careful, and patient, but also bold. Let the fear and favor of God, not man, govern what and how he speaks. And the favor of God upon the congregation that is sanctified by bold preaching will be all the reward any faithful minister needs, even if he loses favor of some men.

Elders will help the ministers to be fearless. They can begin by praying for their ministers to be bold… and wise. To preach without fear or favor.

And we who sit in the pew will take heed to the words spoken, object to them if they are applications improperly made, and follow them if they are truth.

For more on this issue of the “SB”, visit this news item on the PRC website.

Preaching the Gospel to Yourself – Joe Thorn

Preaching the Gospel to Yourself by Joe Thorn | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT-Jan-2015As we have noted here on Mondays this month, the January issue of Tabletalk carries the theme “The Good News.” That is, in a series of seven articles, it asks and answers the question, “What is the gospel?”

I read two more of these articles yesterday, the one linked above and quoted from below, as well as “The New Heavens and New Earth” by Dr.Dennis Johnson.

Thorn’s article is more practical in nature, treating how we as Christians must fight against spiritual wandering in our lives. The chief way he believes is “preaching the gospel to yourself.” This is a good follow-up to our having heard the preaching of the gospel yesterday.

This is how Thorn explains this idea:

Fundamentally, the gospel is forgotten when it no longer functions as our ongoing hope and confidence before God, or when it becomes unessential for the practical, daily living of the Christian life. The gospel we often forget must be reclaimed and retained for the safety of our souls, and this is done through preaching the gospel to ourselves.

Preaching the gospel to ourselves is calling ourselves to return to Jesus for forgiveness, cleansing, empowerment, and purpose. It is answering doubts and fears with the promises of God. Do my sins condemn me? Jesus has covered them all in His blood. Do my works fall short? Jesus’ righteousness is counted as mine. Are the world, the devil, and my own flesh conspiring against me? Not even a hair can fall from my head apart from the will of my Father in heaven, and He has promised to care for me and keep me forever. Can I really deny myself, carry my cross, and follow Jesus? Yes, for God is at work in me, willing and working in me for His own pleasure. This is what it looks like to preach to ourselves.

This private and personal preaching can only happen when the Word of God is known and believed; when God’s law reveals our sin and helplessness, and His grace covers that sin and overcomes our weaknesses. Preaching the gospel to ourselves is not simply the act of studying the Bible (though we can preach to ourselves in that act), but it is actively calling ourselves to believe the promises of God in Jesus His Son.

To read the full article, visit the Ligonier link above.

The Prayers of J.Calvin (9)

Praying with calvin- JeremiahContinuing our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in Jan.2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah, today we post a brief section from his eighth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 2:25-30, which includes this comment on and application of v.29, where God admonishes His people for their hypocrisy in claiming innocence in the face of blatant disobedience and idolatry. This is how Calvin points the word to us:

Now this passage deserves especial notice: for we know how prone we are by nature to hypocrisy; and when God summons us to his tribunal, hardly one in a hundred will acknowledge his guilt and humbly pray for forgiveness; but  the greater part complains, nay almost all murmur against God, and still more, they gather boldness, and proudly dare to challenge and defy God. Since, then, hypocrisy thus prevails in us and is deeply fixed in the hearts of almost all, and since hypocrisy generates insolence and pride against God, let us remember what the Prophet says here, – that all who dispute with God gain nothing by their excuses, because he will at length detect their defection and perfidy.

And so, Calvin ends this lecture with this precious prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that since thou, in thy paternal kindness, daily invitest us to thyself, we may not harden ourselves against thy holy and salutary admonitions: and whenever thou chastisest us with scourges, may we not become obdurate against thee, but learn humbly to submit to thy word, and receive thy chastisement, and so profit by both, that we may not be exposed to the extreme judgment which thou denouncest on the obstinate; but may we, on the contrary, open a way for thy paternal goodness, so that thou mayest kindly deal with us, until thou receivest us into that blessed rest which has been prepared for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. -Amen

Carefulness in Prayer – H.Hanko

When-You-Pray -HHankoIn the chapter following that on prayer and chastisement in his book When You Pray (RFPA, 2006), Prof. (emeritus, PRC Seminary) Herman Hanko has a chapter on “Carefulness In Prayer”, where he gives instruction on yet another important aspect of our prayer life.

I quote today from the opening part of this chapter where Hanko is explaining why carefulness is important:

…Although we must always be careful in our prayers to pray according to the will of God, carefulness is especially necessary when the Lord chastises us. It is possible, when chastised, to be resentful and rebellious, unwilling to submit to God’s will, determined to escape his chastening hand in whatever way we are able. At least our first reaction to chastisement is almost always such rebellion. And it is a temptation against which we fight as long as God is not pleased to remove his chastening hand.

There are other reasons as well why we ought to be careful in our prayers. It is entirely possible that we ask the Lord for the wrong things. We may do this because we think that somehow God is making a mistake in his dealings with us. Or perhaps we are of the opinion that we ought to have something that he has not been pleased to give. And so we are insistent on our desires, and we clamor incessantly for what we want, much as a child continues to beg and cajole a reluctant parent for something he really ought not to have. We are even able to persuade ourselves, by some specious argumentation, that for God to give us what we seek from him would enable us to serve him better, to make great contributions to the cause of his kingdom, and to be more effective in the calling to witness to Christ in word and deed (93).

After showing the spiritual danger of praying for the satisfaction of such lusts from the biblical example of the Israelites in the wilderness (cf. Numbers 11 with Psalm 106:14-15), Hanko makes this application:

We have to be careful when we want something so very badly that we clamor almost without interruption for our desire to be satisfied. Be careful! It may very well be that God, in anger and disgust, finally says, ‘All right, I will give you what you want. But you will soon learn that what you want is not good for you and does harm to your spiritual life. What you want brings more troubles and sorrows than you can possibly imagine’ (94).

Good food for thought as often as we pray privately and publicly.