Old Year’s Night 2021 with the Voices of Victory!

As we end this year of our Lord 2021, the Voices of Victory quartet invite you to end the year on a high, spiritual note – by worshiping the Lord in His house with His people (If you are looking for a place to worship, these churches have services!) and by attending the special Voices of Victory concert tonight in downtown Grandville, MI from 8-11 pm!

Here are the details from our Facebook page and poster:

The Voices of Victory male quartet’s annual concert on Friday, December 31 will be held from 8-11 PM at First Reformed Church in Grandville (3060 Wilson Ave SW, Grandville, MI 49418). As in past years, you are welcome to come and go whenever you would like throughout the evening. The Voices of Victory will be joined by the male chorus, the Hope Heralds. Admission is free, coffee and cookies will be served, and the free will offering will go to Georgetown Harmony Homes. Spend the final hours of 2021 in praise to God!

May be an image of 4 people, people standing and text that says 'Benefit Concert for Georgetown Harmony Homes Friday, December 31, 2021 8:00pm 11:00pm Annual New Year's Eve Concert Joined by the Hope Heralds Men's Chorus First Reformed Church of Grandville 3060 Wilson Ave, Grandville MI .tRfChurch library 3060 WilsonAve. Volces of Victory'

Don’t let the cold air and threat of a little snow discourage you from attending in person! It’s a short drive from wherever you are, and once there, you will be safe and warm! We would be delighted to see you there! And we hope we do! It promises to be a wonderful night of praise and fellowship. And the cause is a good one – housing needs for young adults with special needs in the West Michigan area!

Come on out – you won’t be disappointed! And spread the word to family and friends!

Published in: on December 31, 2021 at 8:50 AM  Leave a Comment  

Christmas 2021 – “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” for “Jehovah Jesus”

From our family to you and yours, we extend Christmas greetings near and far. May the peace and joy of our Savior’s birth be yours today and in the new year. And may we as His people look and long more and more for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in the end of this age.

One of the joys we shared this year was the wedding of our son Kyle to Kelly on October 28. We are so thankful the Lord led them together and pray for them as they have begun their life together in the Lord.

Christmas Day must include at least one song from the 2021 King’s College Christmas concert. Here is “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”

And we close with one of William Cowper’s Olney Hymns, titled “Jehovah Jesus.” Plainly and powerfully, it declares the gospel message of what God has done in the sending of His Son in the flesh and how our praise rises to God for the gracious gift of salvation through Jesus.

My song shall bless the LORD of all,
My praise shall climb to his abode;
Thee, Saviour, by that name I call,
The great Supreme, the mighty GOD.

Without beginning, or decline,
Object of faith, and not of sense;
Eternal ages saw him shine,
He shines eternal ages hence.

As much, when in the manger laid,
Almighty ruler of the sky;
As when the six days’ works he made
Fill’d all the morning-stars with joy.

Of all the crowns JEHOVAH bears,
Salvation is his dearest claim;
That gracious sound well-pleas’d he hears,
And owns EMMANUEL for his name.

A cheerful confidence I feel,
My well-plac’d hopes with joy I see;
My bosom glows with heav’nly zeal,
To worship him who died for me.

As man, he pities my complaint,
His pow’r and truth are all divine;
He will not fail, he cannot faint,
Salvation’s sure, and must be mine.

Published in: on December 25, 2021 at 7:19 AM  Leave a Comment  

“Your God has become man” – St. Augustine

St.Augustine

That day is called the birthday of the Lord on which the Wisdom of God manifested Himself as a speechless Child and the Word of God wordlessly uttered the sound of a human voice.

His divinity, although hidden, was revealed by heavenly witness to the Magi and was announced to the shepherds by angelic voices.

With yearly ceremony, therefore, we celebrate this day which saw the fulfillment of the prophecy: ‘Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice hath looked down from heaven.’ (Psalm 84:12)

Truth, eternally existing in the bosom of the Father, has sprung from the earth so that He might exist also in the bosom of a mother.

Truth, holding the world in place, has sprung from the earth so that He might be carried in the hands of a woman.

Truth, incorruptibly nourishing the happiness of the angels, has sprung from the earth in order to be fed by human milk.

Truth, whom the heavens cannot contain, has sprung from the earth so that He might be placed in a manger.

For whose benefit did such unparalleled greatness come in such lowliness? Certainly for no personal advantage, but definitely for our great good, if only we believe.

Arouse yourself, O man; for your God has become man. ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from among the dead, and Christ will enlighten thee.’ (Eph. 5:14)

For you, I repeat, God has become man.

If He had not thus been born in time, you would have been dead for all eternity.

Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, if He had not taken upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh.

Everlasting misery would have engulfed you, if He had not taken this merciful form.

You would not have been restored to life, had He not submitted to your death; you would have fallen, had He not succored you; you would have perished, had He not come.

Let us joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festal day on which the great and timeless One came from the great and timeless day to this brief span of our day.

He ‘has become for us righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:30-31)’

Source: “Your God has become man” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) – Tolle Lege

Published in: on December 22, 2021 at 8:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Jesus of Bethlehem: Via, Veritas, Vita

Lessons From The Upper Room: The Heart Of The Savior

On Sundays I have been making my way through Sinclair Ferguson’s new book, Lessons from the Upper Room: The Heart of the Savior (Ligonier Ministries, 2021). The book is based on the author’s teaching series on John 13-17 for Ligonier and, though it might be considered fitting reading for the season of Lent, it is also fitting for Advent I am learning.

Last week I read the fifth chapter, “Via, Veritas, Vita,” which, if you know your Latin means “Way, Truth, Life.” And if you know your Bibles, you know that Ferguson is expounding that important verse in John 14:6 (chapter 5 actually covers John 14:1-14), where the Lord responded to Thomas’ question with the words, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Below you will find some of Ferguson’s comments on this passage. After reading, I believe you will agree that this worth pondering this week of Christmas.

“Jesus now makes explicit what had been implicit: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

“The motto of my home city’s late-medieval university was taken from the Latin Vulgate Bible’s translation of John 14:6: Via, Veritas, Vita. Students in today’s post-biblically literate society must wonder what it means. Is this the noble goal of a higher education – to find your “way” in “life” by seeking “truth” (if there is such) within these hallowed precincts? Perhaps ignorance of the words’ origin protects them from being removed because, as a quotation from the Bible, they favor Christianity. Had the motto quoted the whole verse (which the founders would have assumed every student would instinctively complete), it surely would have been long since removed. For the person quoted was saying that He, exclusively, is the way, the truth, and the life, and therefore the only way to God: “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“You can almost hear the sneer of certain TV interviewers when read these words. Skilled in the art of demeaning, they you ask, “Are you really so arrogant that you believe that anyone who disagrees with you cannot go to heaven?” The implication being, “Shame, shame on you, you narrow-minded bigot!”

“We should always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). The question can be answered with integrity in more than one way.

“The first-as should be obvious – is that we are not the person making the claim. The words are those of Jesus, recorded by “the Apostle of love”!

“The second-equally obvious – is, What if this person is the Son of God who alone knows the Father (Matt. 11:27)? Has He no right to say that He alone can bring us to His Father?

“The third – perhaps less obvious, but no less powerful – is this: If, in order to bring us into His presence, God the Father had to send His only Son to die on the cross-what possesses anyone to think they can devise another way? What miasma clouds my mind so that I cannot see that if God found no other way, then I certainly cannot? Has it never crossed my mind that a father will choose any way he can to protect his son from the kind of suffering associated with crucifixion-never mind an experience of God-forsakenness?

“The arrogance lies elsewhere.

“The issue is not, ‘Who do you think you think you are, Christian?’

It is, ‘Who do you think you are to believe you can accomplish on your own what God says could be accomplished only by the death of His Son on the cross?’

Published in: on December 19, 2021 at 9:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

End of First Semester at the PRC Seminary

Even the animals sensed that the semester was finished and they could start taking over the property.

Today was the end of the first semester of the 2021-22 school year at the PRC Seminary. The students took their final exams this morning and finished papers and other assignments. There is always a huge sigh of relief when this day comes. And now faculty, students, and staff look forward to a bit of a break – at least a more relaxed schedule and some time with family during the holidays.

We’ve had all kinds of weather this Fall – from sunshine and 63 (Wednesday) to snow, cold, and wild wind storms.

In this post we will simply gather a few photos from the past few months and tell the story of what has gone on at “seminary hill.”

Diligent students spend some time on a joint project in the afternoon.
Special guests included the 7th-grade class from Hope PR Christian School, who came to hear Prof. Cammenga talk about the OT tabernacle and temple.
In building matters, the oldest section of our roof was replaced with a brand new rubber membrane as well as added insulation underneath. Bosveld was again the contractor.
And the skylights also received new metal on them in addition to new and more energy-efficient glass.
We added a new AED this Fall – a device that the Lord used to save Bob Drnek’s life earlier this year.
And we had a special life-saving class from Mitch Van Overloop and Tedd Van Solkema, which included how to use the AED.
Chapels are also a special time of edification. A variety of local PRC pastors come and speak on passages that focus on the ministry. This is Rev. G. Eriks (Unity PRC).
Our Friday grilled lunches (usually brats) are always a special treat, bringing special guests for good food and fellowship. Plus we celebrate special events, such as Arend Haveman’s birthday.

We pray you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

Published in: on December 17, 2021 at 9:47 PM  Comments (2)  

Ransom Captive Israel | December 2021 Tabletalk

The December 2021 issue of Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional) has a Christmas theme – “The Theology of Christmas Hymns.” The featured articles all focus on a particular Advent hymn – eleven of them in total. These are the “classic” Christmas songs familiar to us, but the writers bring out the profound theology behind the hymns, explaining them in the light of the Scriptures and the historic faith of the Christian church.

One that I particularly enjoyed reading this past Sunday was “Ransom Captive Israel” by Dan Forrest. You may recognize that name from certain other songs and arrangements, as Forrest is a noted composer and arranger of choral as well as instrumental and orchestral pieces. As you may guess, this writer explains the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

Below is a portion of Forrest’s reflections on this wonderful Christmas hymn. You will benefit from reading the complete article as well as the others at the Tabletalk website.

For hundreds of years, this hymn was sung as plainchant, meaning unison melody and not all the “parts” or harmonization that were added to melodies in “hymnal” style in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Perhaps the stark clarity of these rising and falling lines more freely and evocatively expresses the longing of the text and the Advent season itself.

Unlike Israel, though, we have the glorious hope of having seen the first advent of our Lord. Christ is not only transcendent beyond the heavens, coequal and coeternal with the Father, but also (praise be to God) immanent—with us. The Word was incarnate—“made flesh”—dwelling among us, robed with humanity, experiencing human life with its joys, its necessities, its labors, its frustrations, and even its sorrows so that Jesus could understand our weakness, our temptation, and our suffering. Because of this wonder, we have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Only a prophet like Moses saw God’s glory, and his face shone with the brilliance of the experience, yet Christ’s disciples lived, breathed, ate, and walked with this visible “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). We who did not have the privilege of hearing, seeing, and touching the living Word (1 John 1:1–3) nevertheless have the record of those who did, and like Moses, our faces shine with the unveiled glory of the Lord through the work of the Spirit in us (2 Cor. 3). Even Peter, who personally heard the voice of the Father proclaiming His love for the Son, could say (to you and me) that we have “the prophetic word more fully confirmed” in the written Word (2 Peter 1:16–21).

And we, followers of the Word incarnate and the written Word, have seen the atonement. Christ’s death has indeed ransomed us, as the hymn pleads, from the captivity and penalty of our sin, and His resurrection has defeated death and raised us to new resurrection life. We mourn the brokenness of this fallen world, but not as those who have no hope. And even in the Advent season, as we embrace the waiting and longing, we rejoice in glorious hope of our Immanuel who has come and will come again.

Source: Ransom Captive Israel | Tabletalk

Published in: on December 14, 2021 at 9:24 PM  Leave a Comment  

Flesh of Our Flesh – John Newton

Flesh of our Flesh   

Jesus, who passed the angels by,
Assumed our flesh, to bleed and die;
And still He makes it His abode;
As a man, He fills the throne of God.

Our next of kin, our Brother now,
Is He to whom the angels bow;
They join with us to praise His Name,
But we the nearest interest claim.

But ah! how faint our praises rise!
Sure ’tis the wonder of the skies,
That we, who share His richest love,
So cold and unconcerned should prove.

Oh glorious hour! it comes with speed
When we from sin and darkness freed,
Shall see the God who died for man,
And praise Him more than angels can. 

A little known hymn of John Newton found in this work: Our Own Hymn Book, Charles H. Spurgeon, compiler. Reprint and 2nd Ed, Pilgrim Publications, Texas, 2002.  Page 66. 

Published in: on December 12, 2021 at 7:45 AM  Leave a Comment  

Why Christians Are People of the Book: A Theology of Publishing – InterVarsity Press

I receive emails from a wide variety of Christian book publishers, many of which simply give notices of new books. But many also offer worthwhile articles on their websites, mostly relating to books and authors but some also to the publisher’s mission and reason for doing what they do.

This past week senior editor of IVP Books at Intervarsity Press, Albert Hsu, posted an interesting article on what he sees to be the justification for publishing Christian books – “a theology of publishing,” as he states, or “why Christians are people of the Book.” I think you will find it profitable as far as why we should be readers of God’s holy Word but also why we should be readers of other good Christian books. 

Here is an excerpt; find the full article at the end of this post. 

“As publishers, we take on the ancient role of the herald. The herald’s vocation is proclamation. The herald is an agent of the king. A king’s herald declares to the inhabitants of a kingdom what needs to be known so that all in the realm may flourish.

“If you want to see where publishing shows up in Scripture, read the old King James. The King James uses the word “publish” to describe the announcement of news.

Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation.”
Mark 1:45: “But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter.”
Mark 13:10: “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.”
Acts 13:49: “And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.”

The etymology of “publish” is to make something public. The work of publicity and PR (public relations) makes things public about a company, product, or individual. Good publicity means that good things are being said publicly about something, that someone’s name is being spread more widely across a realm.

“God is a publisher. He makes things known about himself. Jesus is a publisher, publishing good news across the land. And Christians are publishers, making public the story of Jesus. The Greek word euangellion, translated as “gospel,” means “good news.” In the first century, “gospel” had military connotations for when Caesar sent messengers to spread word that his reign had come to a new territory. We make public the reality of the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, and its implications for all of humanity. Proclaiming the gospel is “good newsing.”

“Christian publishing is rooted in this sense of public proclamation and external witness. We are publishers in God’s image. The king has good news for the world—his kingdom is at hand! Slaves will be set free, the blind will see, the lame will walk, the poor will rejoice. We are heralds of this king and publish this good news for all to hear.”

Source: Why Christians Are People of the Book: A Theology of Publishing – InterVarsity Press

Published in: on December 11, 2021 at 11:23 AM  Leave a Comment  

Busyness Can Rob Our Hearts

The second danger is that busyness can rob our hearts.

“…John Calvin says the human heart is ‘a thick forest of thorns.’ Jesus names two in particular [the parable of the Sower, Mark 4:1-20]. The first he labels ‘the cares of the world’ (Mark 4:19). Do you know why retreats and mission trips and summer camps and Christian conferences are almost always good for your spiritual growth? Because you have to clear your schedule to do them. You get away. You set aside your normal insanity for a weekend and find the space to think, pray, and worship.

For most of us, it isn’t heresy or rank apostasy that will derail our profession of faith. It’s the worries of life. You’ve got car repairs, Then your water heater goes out. The kids need to see a doctor. You haven’t done your taxes yet. Your checkbook isn’t balanced. You’re behind on thank you notes. You promised your mother you’d come over and fix a faucet. You’re behind on wedding planning. Your boards are coming up. You have more applications to send out. Your dissertation is due. Your refrigerator is empty. Your lawn needs mowing. Your curtains don’t look right. Your washing machine keeps rattling. This is the life for most of us, and it’s choking out spiritual life.

“A second thorn is related to the first. Jesus says the work of the Word is swallowed up by the desire for other things. It’s not that possessions themselves are to blame. The problem is with everything we do to take care of them and everything we do to get more of them. Is it any wonder that the most stressed-out people on the planet live in the most affluent countries? Cottages, boats, campers, time-shares, investments, real estate, snowmobiles, new cars, new houses, new computers, new iStuff, new video games, new makeup, new DVDs, new downloads, new…– they all take time. We’ve heard countless sermons warning us about the dangers of money. But the real danger comes after you spend the money. Once you own it you need to keep it clean, keep it working, and keep up with the latest improvements. If the worries of life don’t swamp us, the upkeep will.

“Jesus knows what he’s talking about. As much as we must pray against the Devil and pray for the persecuted church, in Jesus’ thinking the greater threat to the gospel is sheer exhaustion. Busyness kills more Christians than bullets. How many sermons are stripped of their power by lavish dinner preparations and professional football? How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still enough to learn from them? How many times of private and family worship have been crowded out by soccer and school projects? We need to guard our hearts. The seed of God’s Word won’t grow to fruitfulness without pruning for rest, quiet, and calm.”

Crazy Busy

Kevin DeYoung in Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem (Crossway, 2013). This is from chapter 2 – “Here, There, and Gone: Three Dangers to Avoid,” pp.28-30. I finally got around to reading this book I picked up a few years ago (a little tongue-in-cheek comment there). It’s a good, practical, helpful read – punching me between the eyes and piercing all sides of my heart. I’m trying to slow down, slim down, and get down to the core things I need to do at this point in my life. Not easy, but it’s coming.

How about for you? Are you too busy? Aren’t we all? Take time to read and listen to the wise counsel of other busy people. And just take the time to read (especially God’s words). That in itself is a retreat and oasis in this crazy busy world in which we live.

Published in: on December 9, 2021 at 10:25 PM  Leave a Comment  

“Three simple rules for hearing a sermon” by J.C. Ryle – Tolle Lege

Image result for luke 8:18 kjv

“It is not enough that we go to Church and hear sermons. We may do so for fifty years, and ‘be nothing bettered, but rather worse.’ (Mark 5:26) “Take heed,” says our Lord, “how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18)

Would any one know how to hear aright? Then let him lay to heart three simple rules.

For one thing, we must hear with faith, believing implicitly that every word of God is true, and shall stand. The Word in old time did not profit the Jews, “not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Heb. 4:2)

For another thing, we must hear with reverence, remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul’s message, “not as the word of men, but the word of God.” (1 Thess. 2:13)

Above all, we must hear with prayer, praying for God’s blessing before the sermon is preached, praying for God’s blessing again when the sermon is over.

Here lies the grand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing, and so they have none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel, and leaves nothing behind.

Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning, before we go to hear the Word of God preached.

Let us not rush into God’s presence careless, reckless, and unprepared, as if it mattered not in what way such work was done.

Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions, we shall hear with profit, and return with praise.”

– J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 197. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:16-21.

Source: “Three simple rules for hearing a sermon” by J.C. Ryle – Tolle Lege

Published in: on December 5, 2021 at 2:33 PM  Leave a Comment