Reformed Marriage – April 15, 2016 “Standard Bearer”

The April 15, 2016 issue of the Standard Bearer is now out – a very special issue, we might add – this time on the subject of “Reformed (i.e., biblical) Marriage.”

The issue covers a variety of subjects, from dating and courtship to the meaning of marriage, and from the wedding ceremony to the wedding reception (cf. the cover below). The issue makes for timely and instructive reading for young people, young couples, and long-time married couples.


Editor-in-chief Prof.B. Gritters introduces the issue in these words:

     We have been planning a special issue on a Reformed Marriage for a long time now, and are very pleased to mail this issue to you this Spring.  We think you will be edified by it.
     You will notice immediately that most of the articles are co-authored, that is, written by husband and wife teams.  It was evident to us that when it comes to marriages and weddings, the women often have a great deal to say, and rightly so.  We take opportunity here to thank the women who participated, as well as the long-time elder and his wife for their contributions.
     The articles range from pre-marriage preparation by parents to the question that should be answered by couples before marriage:  what do they hope for with regard to having children?
      May our covenant God bless our marriages to His glory, and preserve them for the sake also of the “godly seed.”  We hope the marriage ceremonies and the celebrations that follow also bring Him due honor.
As a sample of the instruction given in this issue, we also give you an excerpt from the meditation by Rev. James Slopsema, “Two Become One:”

     The bond that God makes in marriage by gluing a man and women together makes the marriage bond a permanent relationship.  Were marriage a human invention and the bond of marriage only of man’s making, any marriage could be terminated at will.  However, when God glues two together, He does so for life. The only thing that dissolves the marriage relationship is death.  “For the woman which hath an husband is bound (tied, fastened) by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” (Romans 7:2-3)  Consequently when asked about divorce Jesus proclaimed “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  (Matthew 19:6)

Let every married couple or those contemplating marriage understand this. Take this perspective in marriage. Marriage is permanent. Should problems arise in your marriage, divorce is not an option except in the case of adultery.  But even then the marriage bond is not broken.  Only death breaks the marriage bond.  Let husbands and wives be committed to their marriages and in Christ work out any problems that may arise.  And let those dealing with what may seem insurmountable problems in their marriage remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

If you are interested in this issue or in subscribing to the SB, contact the RFPA at the information on their website.

WIMTBR: Covenantal – Implications … for Marriage

SB-March15-2015In the latest Standard Bearer issue (March 15, 2015) Prof. Barry Gritters continues his series of editorials on “What It Means to Be Reformed” (WIMTBR), in connection with the 90th anniversary of the forming of the PRCA. He is answering this question by organizing the Reformed faith under five (5) “Cs”, the first of which is “Covenantal”.

In the March 1 issue he laid out the meaning of this primary Reformed truth, showing its distinctive unconditional and particular nature, especially as developed, maintained, and defended in the PRC. In this March 15 editorial Gritters draws out four (4) implications of this covenant doctrine. The last one is “The Covenant of Marriage”, and it is from this one that I quote today:

Finally, a Reformed church will be a church that defends the precious institution of marriage. If marriage is the preeminent biblical illustration of God’s covenant with His elect, what better way for the covenant seed to learn about covenant than by observing good marriages! If one were an enemy of God’s church, one of the main bulwarks he would assail – with mortar after mortar and one battering ram after another – would be the bulwark of Christian marriage. Thus, the institution we most earnestly defend is the institution of marriage.

No one can write such words in AD 2015 without feeling a great sense of sadness, and a good deal of righteous anger, that the devil had made such headway in his battle against the covenant by ruining so many marriages.

…Reformed believers must give their entire life and all their energy, working and praying, that God preserve our marriages. We must preach and preach, and teach and teach, and then preach and teach some more, the biblical doctrine of marriage – preach that God ‘hates putting away;’ preach that, even if marriage is only temporal, it is still one of the most important temporal institutions God created in the beginning for the preservation of His covenant people.

…And may our gracious God forgive (and correct) what sins He may be judging in churches where the covenant perhaps is accurately taught but not truly lived, one of the most flagrant ways to offend the covenant God (272).

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Ligonier Ministries Blog.

holding handsMen, this is for you (Wives, you may read this and pray that we take this to heart.) – from one man to another. From a fellow husband (R.C. Sproul, Jr.) who lost his beloved two years ago.

If this doesn’t move (convict!) you to think about one small but significant way to show our wives we love them, then something’s wrong – with us. And let’s admit, we don’t do this enough. But we can learn. Before it’s too late. So, be brave and manly – and take her hand from time to time.

Read on, but here’s how it starts:

That is likely my deepest regret, that I did not hold her hand more.

It’s not, of course, that I never held her hand. It is likely, however, that I didn’t as often as she would have liked. Holding her hand communicates to her in a simple yet profound way that we are connected. Taking her hand tells her, “I am grateful that we are one flesh.” Taking her hand tells me, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” It is a liturgy, an ordinary habit of remembrance to see more clearly the extraordinary reality of two being made one. It would have, even in the midst of a disagreement, or moments of struggle, communicated, “We’re going to go through this together. I will not let go.”

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 8:03 AM  Leave a Comment  

Happy & Blessed 50th Anniversary, Don and Judi D!

Today, June 26, 2014 marks the 50th wedding anniversary of Don and Judi (nee Bylsma) Doezema, longtime kingdom servant-workers at the PRC Seminary (Don full-time since 1988 and Judi since 1989). Together they have lived in love and labored in love throughout their married years, having both served as Christian teachers prior to their coming to our Seminary.


We take this opportunity to congratulate them heartily and to express our joy with them in this special milestone. They would be the first ones to tell us that their fifty years together is a testimony to GOD’S faithfulness and abiding love for them, and we would agree. But we also acknowledge that the power of God’s love has kept them in love for one another for fifty years. Their faithful love is a godly witness to us and to the church of Jesus Christ. And we need that witness in our day. So, we thank God today. And we thank God for them today.

Don&Judi 50th-2

I was able to help a few friends get into Seminary to decorate last night, so that they had quite a surprise this morning. I only wish I could have been here camera in hand when they arrived bright and early this morning! But, amazingly, I did get them to pose for a few pictures this morning. They were so cute together. I even caught them kissing! But I will spare them from that picture as they are both quite shy about PDA’s.:)

Don&Judi 50th-3

If you wish to send a congratulatory note to them, you may do so at their email address ( or here at the Seminary address (4949 Ivanrest Ave. SW, Wyoming, MI 49418).

Don&Judi 50th-4

And here they are with the special gals who pulled off the surprise – including a special cake for coffee time today, where we heard all about that June 26, 1964 wedding day and the honeymoon out West that followed. Special times. For a very special couple.

Don&Judi 50th-5Don & Judi with Sheila and Jenn Van Donselaar

Recent Book News from the RFPA

The Reformed Free Publishing Association recently sent out its Spring 2014 Newsletter, which contains news on the work of its various committees and an extended review of Marvin Kamps’ new book 1834: Hendrik De Cock’s Return to the True Church. To access this newsletter (in pdf), visit this page on the RFPA website. There you can also sign up to receive this newsletter by email if you so desire.

I would also like to call attention to significant new editions of two older works published by the RFPA. Below is the publisher’s own advertisements of these books. With the wedding season upon us, the first of these titles would make a great gift item.

And the second title should be of interest to every Reformed person who loves the gospel of sovereign grace and who desires to see the call of that gospel to sinners properly understood and consistently maintained.

Follow the links for information on ordering these “new” books.

Christ was sent into the world to establish the kingdom of God and rule it as king... This kingdom required that Jesus stay on the cross.

New second edition!

This 128-page small paperback provides straightforward, practical instruction for single and married believers alike, taken directly from the classic Bible passages on sex and marriage. Added to this second edition are two appendices which treat the remarriage and prohibition of the remarriage of the “innocent party”.

Back in print!

Is there a “well-meant offer” of salvation to all men? Or is the call of the gospel restricted to the elect only? Is there an alternative to these two extremes? This book sets forth and defends the Reformed position of the gospel call to all mankind. (224 pages, paperback)

Blessed and Happy Wedding Day!

Yesterday was a special day in our family, one which we wish to share here today. Our fourth child, son Thad (age 29), was united in holy matrimony to Sarala Poelman (age 22), second daughter of Rev.Steven and Nalani Poelman from northern India.

A family picture - Verna and I with our six children and eleven grandchildren.

A family picture – Verna and I with our six children and eleven grandchildren.


Though the weather was cool and drizzly, the setting inside the Goei Center (Eastern Floral’s banquet facility) on the near west side of Grand Rapids was colorful and cozy (lots of plants, flowers and water fixtures).

To honor his military service (Army Reserves, Military Police) Thad wore his full dress uniform.

Thad in his dress uniform waiting for his precious bride.

Thad in his dress uniform waiting for his precious bride.

Rehearsing for a key part of the ceremony - confessing dependence on the Lord and pledging to look to Him for all their needs.

Rehearsing for a key part of the ceremony – confessing dependence on the Lord and pledging to look to Him for all their needs.

To honor Sarala’s land of birth and culture, the wedding had a distinctive India flavor to it, as the bridesmaids wore traditional Indian dress, Indian food was available, and other Indian customs were acknowledged. I give you just a few pictures taken prior to the actual wedding to share the events of this wonderful day with you.

Sarala with flower girlsBride Sarala with her little flower girls!

Congratulations, Thad and Sarala, and may God richly bless your union in the Lord! May God keep you as you enjoy your honeymoon in India, and return you safely to us in a few months!

Thad and Sarala practicing their wedding kiss

Thad and Sarala practicing their wedding kiss


Men’s Conference at Hudsonville PRC – Starts tonight!

You are hereby reminded of and encouraged to attend the 2014 Men’s Conference sponsored by Byron Center PRC but held this year at Hudsonville PRC. The conference will be held tonight and tomorrow night, February 27 and 28, at Hudsonville PRC.

GodlyMan-BCPRCConf-2014The theme is “The Godly Man”, based on I Timothy 6:10-11. There will be one speech each night, tonight by Rev.A.Spriensma, pastor of Byron Center PRC, and tomorrow night by Missionary-pastor W.Bruinsma of Pittsburgh, PA. Special sectionals are also planned for each night, with opportunity for small group discussion. And, of course, there will be great singing, fellowship, and refreshments.

Even if you have not yet registered for the conference, come and participate! You may register tonight beginning at 6:45 p.m. The schedule for both nights may be found below.

Young and old, come! Single men, come! Husbands, come! Fathers and sons, come! This is a great opportunity for spiritual growth and godly fellowship.

I plan to have a book table there with a variety of books and pamphlets related to the theme and related men’s matters. Stop by, check out some good books, and say hello.:)

Below is the schedule of events for both Thursday and Friday nights:

6:45     Registration

7:00    Opening prayer, Announcements, Singing

7:20    Speech Thursday by Rev. Spriensma  “The Godly Man’s Contest”
Friday by Rev. Bruinsma  “Called To Fight”

8:00    Sing and Question & Answer

8:15    Refreshments

8:35    Discussion Groups Thursday
Raising Covenant Youth
Communication/Devotions in Marriage

        Discussion Groups Friday
Servant-Leadership in Marriage
Dealing with Family Finances

9:35    Refreshments

Mystery Photo #3 Solved!

Last week Thursday’s mystery photo was fairly well-solved after just a few days, as you will tell from the comments. A few of you responded via email privately, but by the time those who guessed were done, the picture and place were identified. The only thing that needed correcting was the ministers who spoke at this PRYP’s Convention.


The picture was of the young people of South Holland (IL) PRC (now Crete, IL PRC), the society which sponsored and hosted the 1978 YP’s Convention, held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Some of you saw yourselves and therefore were able to identify quite a few of your fellow young people. Having served in SH PRC, I could pick out most of this crowd too – though they sure looked different then than when I first met them in 1989! Prominent in that front row (to the right) was a much younger Rev.David Engelsma (who could mistake that big head of hair?!).

And no, pastor Engelsma was NOT one of the speakers that year. The ministers who spoke were Revs.J.Kortering, H.Veldman, and A.den Hartog.

I made the passing comment in that post that this (1978) was a good year. That “mystery” is that my wife and I did not attend that YP’s Convention because we were married on August 31, 1978 that year, 35 years ago last year. But we had been to many Conventions before that. And though we did not go to again as conventioneers, we did get in on a few more as chaperones. Good memories. May God continue to bless our young people and this wonderful annual event.

Do you know where this year’s convention is? Check it out, here!

More Review Books – More Book Reviewers Needed! Women too!

I have received four new titles for review from Reformation Heritage Books and I would love to give these books away to willing reviewers! All you have to do is write a brief, 1-1.5 page paper (Times Roman, double-spaced) about the book, and the book is yours to keep!

Two of these new titles are especially for women, so I would love to see a couple of gals step forward with a volunteer spirit:)  These two books are:

LifeinJesus-MWinslowGodly people speak long after their deaths, inspiring us and revealing to us lives that are worthy of imitation. Octavius Winslow thus took up the daunting task of writing a memoir of his God-fearing mother, Mary Winslow (1774–1854). He viewed her as a grace-filled example of true spirituality, the antithesis of “religious formalism,” which he called “the bane of the Christian church.” One simple line captures his esteem for her: “How powerful and deathless is the influence of a holy mother!”

Mary Winslow’s letters are a treasure of experimental and practical divinity. Living, vital Christianity is here set before us in undeniable reality, flowing out of the resurrected Christ. We learn, in her words and by her example, how to “deal unceasingly with God as God deals unweariedly with us.”

A queen, an educator, a missionary, a pastor’s wife. Some of them single, some married, some widowed, some mothers. All of them, like women today, knew the joys and heartaches of life. But the bond that drew this generation of women together—and connects them to women today—was their heart for God and devotion to Christ. In this year’s worth of devotions, you will find spiritual insights from godly women of the past who, like us, struggled with sin, loneliness, and disappointments yet rejoiced in God’s love, mercy, grace, and providential blessings. Join them in the various seasons of their hearts and find timeless encouragement and wisdom from one generation of women to another.

Authors include Ruth Bryan, Anne Dutton, Isabella Graham, Elizabeth Julia Hasell, Frances Ridley Havergal, Sarah Hawkes, Susan Huntington, Harriet Newell, Katherine Parr, Susannah Spurgeon, Anne Steele, and Mary Winslow.

Then I also have two others of broader scope and interest:

BuildingGodlyHome-2For years, William Gouge’s Domestical Duties has stood as the foremost Puritan treatment of Christian family life. Yet due to its size and antiquated expression, it has become almost unknown among current generations of believers. To help revive the usefulness of this classic book, Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke divided Gouge’s work into three manageable volumes, updated the language to modern standards, and have given it the title Building a Godly Home.

In the second volume, A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage, we find detailed counsel about the most important relationship in the family—husband and wife. Gouge carefully addresses what a fit marriage is and the proper way to enter into one. He then discusses the mutual duties married couples share in order for marriage to survive and thrive, as well as the duties specific to men and women respectively. Not only does he give detailed treatment of how these responsibilities are best expressed and too often hindered, but he also provides ample biblical motivation to set us on the right course. Christian husbands and wives will find much encouragement in this book.

How does God bring His Word into our lives? The answer is: by the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit the Word was revealed and written. By the Spirit the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. By the Spirit the Word roots itself in the hearts of sinners and produces fruit. Calvin recognized long ago that the Holy Spirit is the bond of union between believers and Christ. Jonathan Edwards said that the Spirit is the sum of all Christ bought for His people with His precious blood. How precious then is the Spirit, and how important to know Him and His ways! In this book, a team of pastor-theologians uncover the rich biblical teachings about the work of the Holy Spirit. How was the Spirit involved in the human life of Jesus Christ? What is a spiritual person? How does the Spirit open the mind of sinners to trust in Christ? What does it mean to serve God in the power of the Spirit? How does the Spirit’s sovereign work relate to our responsibility in evangelism? These questions and more are addressed in this book.

If any of these titles are of interest to you, let me know either by comment here, or by email. I will find a way to get it to you asap! If you want more information, visit the links provided here. Thanks!

Word Wednesday: “Man and Wife”

DictionaryofWordOriginsIt has been nearly a month since we did our Wednesday word feature, which means it is time to get back to it! Today’s entry is from the Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (Harper & Row, 1962) and concerns the familiar wedding phrase “man and wife”. I found this to be quite interesting, and I think you will as well.

During a wedding ceremony the pastor says, ‘I now pronounce you man and wife.’ Why doesn’t he say ‘husband and wife’ or ‘man and woman?’ Why does he split the ‘go-togethers.’ contrary to our customary way of speaking?

That’s an intriguing question and one which has really only one answer: tradition. Since the earliest days of spoken English, certainly since the Norman Conquest, the phrase used in the marriage ceremony has been man and wife. The word man then meant, among other things, ‘husband’ – a meaning which the Oxford Dictionary says it still has in Scotland, although it is obsolete elsewhere. The word husband, in turn, was used to mean a man who tilled the soil or one who managed matters well, a sense we still have in ‘He husbanded his resources.’

So here is a case of two words whose meanings have changed and broadened over a span of nine centuries. But, just as the institution of marriage is the unshakable foundation of civilized society (Isn’t it good to hear this stated?! -cjt), so the forms and traditions surrounding it are virtually unchangeable – and the language used in plighting the troth remains the same as that used when William the Conqueror fought Harold at Hastings (pp.226-27).


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