Two Prayers for the Start of School – M. Coverdale and J. Calvin

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor the start of the school year I find these two prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers (complied by Clyde Manschreck, London: Muhlenberg Press, 1958) fitting.

For scholars (M. Coverdale)

O God, thou that of thy grace and fatherly love hast given such good and excellent gifts with singular light in all sciences; grant unto such as be learned a heart and mind that in all things they may have respect only to thy glory, and that in all their readings, writings, teachings, and doctrines they may prefer the same. For ‘knowledge puffeth a man up, but love edifieth.’

O suffer not thy holy and excellent gifts to be stained, defiled, and marred. Grant that our studies be not heathenish but godly and Christian. Preserve the tender and good youth from wicked and ungodly schoolmasters; that the pure hearts which thou hast consecrated to be a temple for thee and thy Holy Spirit be not defiled with vice. Amen.

On preparing to go to school (J. Calvin)

O Lord, who art the fountain of all wisdom and learning, since thou of thy special goodness hast granted that during our youth we be instructed in the good arts which may assist us to honest and holy living, grant also, by enlightening our minds, which otherwise labor under blindness, that we may be fit to acquire knowledge. Strengthen our memory faithfully to retain what we have learned: and govern our hearts, that we may be willing and even eager to profit, lest the opportunity which thou now givest us be lost through our sluggishness. Be pleased to infuse thy Spirit into us, the Spirit of understanding, of truth, judgment, and prudence, lest our study be without success, and the labor of our teachers be in vain.

In whatever kind of study we engage, enable us to remember to keep its proper end in view, namely, to know thee in Christ Jesus thy Son; and may every thing that we learn assist us to observe the right rule of godliness. And seeing thou promisest that thou wilt bestow wisdom on babes, and such as are humble, and the knowledge of thyself on the upright in heart, while thou declarest that thou wilt cast down the wicked and the proud, so that they will fade away in their ways, we entreat that thou wouldst be pleased to turn us to true humility, that thus we may show ourselves teachable and obedient first of all to thyself, and then to those also who by thy authority are placed over us. Root out all vicious desires from our hearts, and inspire us with an earnest desire to seek thee.

Finally, let our only aim be so to qualify ourselves in early life, that when we grow up, we may serve thee in whatever station thou mayest assign us. Amen.

“Each must ask himself: Does my zeal for the church flow from my inner battle against sin and Satan?” – A.Kuyper

PracticeofGodliness-AKuyper-1948-2Continuing where we left off last time, we quote again from Dutch theologian and churchman Abraham Kuyper on “fighting the good fight” as members of the church of Jesus Christ:

     The battle for the Lord must begin within ourselves; only then can it kindle outward and be sincerely waged with equal fervor against enemies all around.

Our impassioned battle cry must ever be: Friend or enemy! All that is from the Evil One is your enemy, everywhere and in all forms – in your flesh, in your thoughts, in your very virtues, in the disrupted social conditions, in the schools – lower as well as higher – in your homes, and also in the church of your Lord.

Are you zealous for the church with great enthusiasm, while neglecting the evils which creep into your home, your friendships, your social life, and worst of all neglecting to fight your own personal spiritual battles? Then you are living a lie.

To ‘war the warfare of the Lord’ and to ‘keep the watch of the house of the Lord’ is to battle in every sphere, in every manner, in all relationships; every moment, always and everywhere standing against Satan, always and everywhere and in everything on the side of God.

Many will be ashamed upon reading this, even as our own soul bows in shame at the writing.

For who of us would dare say that his own hands are clean for the battle?

But let that not dishearten! For we must feel ashamed. God’s Word must bring upon us, again and again, a conviction of sin that burns as a fire into our very inmost being.

Only let us take care that our principles remain founded upon the true foundation.

If we fight for the church of God and neglect the evil within our own hearts, however men may attempt to justify such action, we incur the judgment of God.

When we acknowledge our own guilt, acknowledge the justice of the accusation against our false zeal, then pardon is assured us. And the Lord our God will lead us on.

Each must ask himself: Does my zeal for the church flow from my inner battle against sin and Satan?

He who truly takes up the fight against sin and Satan in his own heart and in his personal life, must necessarily fight sin and Satan in the church also.

He who looks on unconcernedly while untruth and sin grow rampant within the church of his Lord is also weak, half-hearted and sickly in his own spiritual battle.

The good fight must be fought in every sphere. In the church and without. Wherever the shadow of Satan falls, the soldier of the Lord is called to prompt action.

Dr. Abraham Kuyper in the chapter titled “The Church of Jesus Christ” (and the section headed by “Fighting the Good Fight”), found in The Practice of Godliness, (translated and edited by Marian M. Schoolland; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), pp.59-60.

15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker

Challies.com referenced this in a post today but the original post was back in February of this year. It is still worth looking up to see the treasures found at Yale University.

Below is the brief introduction to the post at the Huff Post “Religion” section; follow the link to see all fifteen of the religious treasures Krattenmaker highlights.

Yale, a place that started out as a training ground for Congregationalist ministers (whose students included none other than Jonathan Edwards) retains to this day a dazzling array of religious treasures and relics, all publicly available.

Source: 15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker

Here are a few of my own personal highlights:

gutenberg bible

Johann Gutenberg; “Biblia latina” (Gutenberg Bible); 1454; paper and 18th-century calf.

Gutenberg Bible – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Five-hundred years ago, the Reformation transformed Christianity and the Western world. What made it possible was the dissemination of the Bible into many people’s hands. And what made that possible was the printing press, which allowed, for the first time, mass production of Bibles. Printed in Latin and known for its high aesthetic quality, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book ever printed by movable type. The 22 complete copies that exist today are among the most valuable books in the world. By appointment, Yale classes get to take this priceless piece of history out of the case and page though it, like the first Protestants half a millennium ago.

jonathan edwards

Jonathan Edwards; Deut. 32:35(c): “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at each moment out of hell but the meer pleasure of God,” from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”; June 1941; paper; Jonathan Edwards Collection.

Original text of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Rarely has a single piece of sermonizing conjured fear of hell like Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As the story goes, this Yale alum didn’t stir much of a reaction when he first delivered the sermon (a milder, more pastoral version than what was to come) to his own congregation in Northampton, Mass., in 1741. Edwards amped up the scary parts as he began to give the sermon at other churches. “There was a great moaning – & crying out throughout ye whole House”–that’s how one witness described the effect after hearing Edwards give the sermon. The outline from which Edwards preached it out on the circuit, like the original “Sinners” sermon, resides in the Beinecke collections. (They say cursive writing is a dying art these days. Judging from Edwards’ penmanship, not everyone was great at it in the 1700s either.)

PRC Archives: The Grand Haven MI PRC Consistory

Thanks to some alert and knowledgeable readers, we are able to identify all of the men in the mystery photo from last week Thursday.

Grand Haven, MI PRC - late 1930s.

Grand Haven, MI PRC – late 1930s.

Mr. Jim Schipper and Rev.R. Miersma (see his comment) confirmed that this was the Consistory of Grand Haven MI PRC, of which Rev. Marinus Schipper was pastor from 1937-1939 – his first charge. So the picture is from one of those years, and therefore earlier than the one that appears in the PRC 25th anniversary book, to which Rev.Miersma refers.

With their input we can identify the men as follows (besides Rev.Schipper in the front): Mr. Nick Yonker (left), Mr. R. De Young (center), and Mr. Andrew Peterson (right – whose daughter-in-law and grandchildren are members in various PRCs).

Perhaps others can make some connections to current PRC members. Feel free to email me or leave a comment.

Thanks to the help of these men, I was able to remove this this photo from the “unidentified” folder, mark the back of it, and start a new photo file – Grand Haven PRC. And here is the picture that appears in the PRC 25th anniversary book of the Grand Haven Consistory (dated 1950):

ghprc_Page_1

Published in: on August 27, 2015 at 10:39 PM  Leave a Comment  

Bedtime Stories for Young Brains – The New York Times

Bedtime Stories for Young Brains – The New York Times.

Reading 2 children-1And from this story in the New York Times comes more evidence that reading to young children is good for them (post dated Aug.17, 2015). While most of us may yawn at such reports because they state the obvious, in this age of declining reading we ought to be reminded of how important it is to read to our children – and to read in front of them as an example.

So, read on by visiting the link above – and then renew your commitment to read to your children and grandchildren. They – and you – will be better for it.

A little more than a year ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement saying that all pediatric primary care should include literacy promotion, starting at birth.

That means pediatricians taking care of infants and toddlers should routinely be advising parents about how important it is to read to even very young children. The policy statement, which I wrote with Dr. Pamela C. High, included a review of the extensive research on the links between growing up with books and reading aloud, and later language development and school success.

But while we know that reading to a young child is associated with good outcomes, there is only limited understanding of what the mechanism might be. Two new studies examine the unexpectedly complex interactions that happen when you put a small child on your lap and open a picture book.

The Bible Was My Lifeline

There are several new books out about Muslim converts to Christianity, and given this good post by pastor Shane Lems, I thought I would simply re-post it. But don’t just take his word for it; find the book and read it for herself. I need to also.

The Reformed Reader Blog

I could not set this book down: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi.  It’s an autobiography of a Pakistani-American man’s leaving Islam to follow Jesus.  Qureshi’s journey was (is!) a long, hard, thought-filled, prayer-filled, journey into the Christian family.  The book is well written, respectful of Muslims, a testimony to Jesus the Son of God, and it strengthened my faith in the truths of Scripture.

There are many excellent parts of this book; here’s one section that has stuck with me.  He wrote it after several years of agonizing over the teaching of Islam and the teaching of Christianity.  His past foundation was crumbling, his world was turning upside down, so he put the Bible and the Quran next to each other.  He first opened the Quran:

“[I was] frantically flipping from page to page, hoping for something, anything that would comfort me.  There was nothing there for…

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Published in: on August 25, 2015 at 5:02 PM  Leave a Comment  

Persecution: What the Future Holds – Owen Strachan

What the Future Holds by Owen Strachan | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August-2015The fourth featured article in the August issue of Tabletalk on the theme of persecution is written by Dr. Owen Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology and church history at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Dr. Strachan addresses “What the Future Holds” in his article, and he presents a very realistic picture of what Christians can expect in this country. He lays out four main points, all of which are worth reading and contemplating.

What I really appreciated, however, was the way in which Strachan closed out his thoughts. These words especially, it seems to me, are worth our careful pondering.

There will be no retreat of the church. We will never stop witnessing unto life. We will never cease to minister the gospel. We will not forget the holy Apostles. We remember how they welcomed the jail cell, the Roman prison ship, the hair-raising tribunal. In any and all settings, they preached Christ. They went so far as to believe that God had not only permitted such moments, but had appointed them for His glory (Acts 5:41). They saw suffering with Christ as a privilege, much as this challenges our material sensibilities. We must not forget that if the church is unsettled, it is not by accident. It is by divine design, and it will be used for divine purposes.

While we live, like the priests of old in fallen Jerusalem, we may weep (Ezra 3:11–13). We cannot forget the millions of babies driven into the afterlife at abortion clinics. We cannot erase the suffering felt in fatherless homes and families detonated by selfish sin and bitter divorce. We cannot help but think back to past days, happy days, that celebrated the good of religious people and did not seek their undoing. All these trends speak to fallenness. All of them deserve our tears.

We will weep. But we will also dry our eyes. We will rise to our feet. Whether in a gated community, a busy city, a tense workroom, a chilly playgroup, or a prison cell, we will never cease to speak and to minister the gospel. The gospel was not made for quiet days and easy questions. It was made for the toughest stuff, the worst of times, the hardest of circumstances.

What does the future hold? The future will bring suffering. The days will be evil, as they have been (Eph. 5:16). But the future is bright, because God is real. The church must take heart. We have a living Lord. When history concludes, we will reign with unbroken bodies in a world of love. We will worship the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the earth. There is no life like this life. There is no hope like this hope. There is no God like our God.

“…There can be no true zeal for the church without spiritual warfare against sin.” – A.Kuyper

Fight we must, constantly, without rest. Every child of God is a soldier of Jesus Christ, called as were the Levites of old to war the warfare of the Lord. And every office bearer must know that as he takes office he enters into that warfare.

It is a warfare for God, against Satan. It is a participation in the war which God himself wages against Satan, and which God’s holy angels wage against Satan’s angel-hosts. The war of the world against the King of glory. The war of the spirit against the flesh.  War within us and without. War which emanates from God and is directed against the might of Satan, the world, death, sin, deceit, and the lusts of the flesh.

Therefore it is a war of every one who is anointed with the Holy Spirit. He must fight with Christ, for Christ, and under the leadership of Christ.

…It is evident, then, that there can be no true zeal for the church without spiritual warfare against sin.

Zeal for the church, however pious it may appear to be, is abominable hypocrisy if it goes hand in hand with neglect of spiritual warfare against such enemies of God as lying, uncleanness, self-righteousness, cold-heartedness.

Some there are who pretend to be faithful watchmen upon Zion’s walls but harbor such sins in their own hearts, or overlook them in their children and fellow-church members.

They are unfaithful.

For they allow the enemy free play within. They cry out against the danger of the wolf howling outside the walls, while a pack of wolves is busily devouring the sheep within!

This is not real devotion to the cause of Christ. Nor does it reveal true faith.

PracticeofGodliness-AKuyper-1948-2Dr. Abraham Kuyper in the chapter titled “The Church of Jesus Christ” (and the section headed by “Fighting the Good Fight”), found in The Practice of Godliness, (translated and edited by Marian M. Schoolland; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), pp.57-58.

1984: A Significant Cubs Collapse – T.Boswell

Heart of the Order-BoswellThomas Boswell’s outstanding baseball storybook, The Heart of the Order (Doubleday, 1989) contains a heart-rending chapter for every Chicago Cubs fan – “1984: The Year the Cubbies Lost the Pennant.” If the memory of their close encounter with the World Series isn’t painful enough, there are videos on the Internet to bring the pain back.

But while the memory kills, Boswell’s description of the Cubs collapse in that final NL series with the San Diego Padres will at least make you smile – because he writes so well. Small consolation, I know, but still worth the read. Allow me to share his side of the story of that September Fall (Yes, there is a double meaning in that word “fall.”).

In the absence of any ongoing drama, the doings of the Cubs became the game’s official summer saga. Perhaps a perennial losing team touches a far deeper chord in people than any mere winner cold. You learn wisdom in defeat, not victory. George Allen, with typical football myopia, said that losing is like dying. Cub fans know he had it wrong: losing isn’t like dying; it’s like living. So what? It ain’t so bad.

Maybe Chicago’s feelings about the Cubs were summoned up by a sign in a restaurant near Wrigley Field. ‘Any employee wishing to miss work because of death or serious illness,’, it read, ‘please notify the office by 11 A.M. on the day of the game.’

By the time the postseason began, the Cubs were practically the nation’s mascots. Perhaps those years of fantasy baseball had the whole country primed for an orgy of paeans to day baseball, old brick outfield walls and ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ during the seventh-inning stretch.

Then, just in time, the Cubs came to the rescue. The ancient order remained intact. The Cubs proved they were still the Cubs. The ivied park with its cheerful message – you don’t have to go to the World Series every year, or even every lifetime, to be cherished – was safe (p.133).

There is more to this sad but well told story. The painful details we will leave for next time.

By the way, have you noticed where the Cubbies are in the standings this year? Dare I say, poised to make the playoffs?!

PRC Archives – Unidentified Photo with Rev.M. Schipper

Yes, indeed, it is time to try another mystery photo for our PRC archive feature. Only this time, I too am mystified by this mysterious photo out of the photo cabinet.

We have a folder in that cabinet marked “unidentified photos”, and this is one of them. Now, it seems to be of some PRC Consistory, and one of the men is clearly a minister (front and center) – and he is not mysterious. We can identify him as Rev. Marinus Schipper – in his younger years, perhaps even in his first congregation.

But I would love to have my readers help me identify the rest of the men. Two of them look quite familiar, so I am hoping you can identify them. And, along with that, of course, the church that is represented here. Through the link I gave you, which includes the churches Rev.Schipper pastored, we can at least narrow down the Consistory – must have been a smaller church (Grand Haven, MI?).

If you can provide me some names and a church, I would be most pleased. Thank you in advance!

MysteryPic-RevMSchipper