Ground Zero Bible – 9/11 Artifact

Though this 9/11 artifact is only 15 years old, it is certainly historic. And I am glad this small remainder of that horrific event has been preserved in the 9/11 Memorial museum.

Keep in mind this is a photographer’s perspective on this Bible and on what page it was opened to when it was preserved. For all that, it is still a powerful testimony to the truth that God’s Word endures.

With Tim Challies I also say, Why did I not hear about this before?! And, along with that, wouldn’t you like to know what place this Bible had in someone’s life in that south tower? Was it the last thing he/she was reading when the building collapsed?

More significantly, what place does the Bible have in your daily reading and mine?

Note to Self: Theology is for Worship

Start by reading John 17:1-3.

Dear Self,

…Good theology will always lead to humility and worship. It displays the greatness of God. It shows that he is transcendent, sovereign, holy, and good. It reflects the beauty of Jesus and the gospel, and the wonder of God’s justice and mercy coming together in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Good theology uncovers the truth about ourselves – that we  are men and women made in God’s image, who exist for his glory, but have turned inward and ugly through our own sin. Without the hope of the gospel we are objects of wrath and await destruction. But in Christ we are reconciled to God.

Humility is properly born out of this theology. In seeing the greatness of God and who we are as his creation, we become characterized by a spirit of growing awe, wonder, and meekness, and are drawn to worship. We can exalt and exult in the God who has not only made himself known but also invited us to draw near to him as he draws near to us.

Developing a theology that leads to worship requires you to approach doctrine devotionally – that is with the aim of a life of worship devoted to a Person, not a principle. It means you will read Scripture, and even theology books, with the goal of knowing Christ deeply and making him known clearly.

Note-to-self-ThornTaken from Chap.37 “Theology is for Worship” (found in Part Three, “The Gospel and You”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.113-14.

Published in: on September 3, 2016 at 10:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

“‘Take your time,’ the books whispered to me in their dusty voices. ‘We’re not going anywhere.'” ~ N.Carr

That was just a digital dalliance [That is, spending time in the computer room while a student at Dartmouth College]. For every hour I passed in Kiewit [the computer room], I must have spent two dozen next door in Baker [the main library at Dartmouth].  I crammed for exams in the library’s cavernous reading room, looked up facts in the weighty volumes on the reference shelves, and worked part-time checking books in and out at the circulation desk. Most of my library time, though, went to wandering the long, narrow corridors of the stacks. Despite being surrounded by tens of thousands of books, I don’t remember feeling the anxiety that’s symptomatic of what we today call “information overload.” There was something calming in the reticence of all those books, their willingness to wait years, decades even, for the right reader to come along and pull them from their appointed slots. Take your time, the books whispered to me in their dusty voices. We’re not going anywhere.

shallowsbookcover-222x300This wonderful, personal description of the powerful influence of libraries and books comes from Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (Norton, 2010), p.12.

We will have more to say on the powerful message of this book later (one Prof. B. Gritters read and recommended this summer), but for now relish the serene and soothing experience of the world of books and the library. 🙂

Note to Self: Speak to Others

Note-to-self-Thorn(Recall the last one was “Listen to Others.”)

Begin by reading and reflecting on Hebrews 3:12-13.

Dear Self,

Are you connected to others in such a way that affords you opportunities to speak into their lives? Just as God has put people near you to speak to you for your God, so he has intended to use you to speak words of grace to others. The questions are – are you connected, and are you speaking?

…At times you feel as if you have little to say, or that your words are too simple and not deep enough. But when you doubt that you have anything to offer, you question God’s ability to use you beyond your own weakness. Your usefulness in the lives of others is not dependent on your intellectual or creative abilities, though God will use your talents whatever they are. Your usefulness to God and his people is connected with your dependence on God and his Word and your love for his people.

The people around you need to hear from you. Share God’s Word with those who need to hear it.

Taken from Chap.24 “Speak to Others” (found in Part Two, “The Gospel and Others”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.85-86.

Addictions and Idolatry – Edward Welch

TT-Aug-2016The August issue of Tabletalk focuses on the them of “Addictions,” and its articles are once again direct and profitable. Whether you are a pastor or an elder or a counselor, or a believer who knows someone in bondage to some addictive behavior – or perhaps are someone yourself addicted to a substance, this issue will give you a correct diagnosis and prescription. The articles will hit you hard but also give you hope in Christ..

Editor Burk Parsons introduces the theme with his article “Ministering to Addicts.” Familiar Christian counselor Ed Welch, author of Addictions: a Banquet in the Grave, penned the first main article, and it is from this one that we quote today.

Welch ties together addictions and idolatry, and when you read his explanations, you will understand why. This is how he opens that section:

Scripture’s most essential insight into addictions is that addictions are about God. Addictive substances become “a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Though it is common for addiction discussions to turn toward spirituality, such discussions do not usually talk about trust in the one, true God, and they do not often reflect the fact that addictive decisions are about God. Though the popular literature on addictions identifies making amends, it never identifies repentance before the Lord.

The Godward nature of addiction is neatly packaged into the biblical account of idolatry. Here you find wayward human desire and much more.

Among the four things about addictions that Welch ties to idolatry is this one:

Second, idolatry (addiction) is about desire. The Old Testament focuses on actual idol worship, while the New Testament takes aim at the desires that underlie idolatry. We are, it turns out, people of desires, loves, and antipathies. Our desires can be good or idolatrous, and even natural. For example, we are to desire or love God above all else (Deut. 6:5)—that is the best of desires. We are prone to desiring what others have, which is a covetous or idolatrous desire. And God’s people were told that in the land of promise they could eat whatever they desired (Deut. 12:20)—a natural desire.

Idolatrous desires typically start from a seed of desire that is natural and appropriate when kept in check. These desires could be for adequate finances, health, obedient children, inclusion, pleasure, rest, and justice. The key insight from Scripture is that these normal and even good desires have a tendency to grow (James 1:15). As they gather strength, they battle against us like an unbound giant that finds little satisfaction (Eph. 4:19; James 4:1). Anytime our desires are aimed away from God, our hearts will be left wanting more.

This change in focus from actual idols to underlying desires immediately brings us into idolatry’s net. Before we consider the more attention-grabbing idolatries of drugs, sex, and alcohol, Scripture reminds us of the everyday idols of people and money. We live for the respect and approval of others (Prov. 29:25), and we are obsessed with personal income (Matt. 6:24). Many of the more blatant idolatries are built on those two objects of worship.

Wise helpers know that they themselves are prone to idolatrous desires and that, like addicts, they come under this rich teaching on desire and its remedy.

For the rest of these points, including the last one – liberation from this idolatry through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, visit the link below.

Source: Addictions and Idolatry by Edward Welch

Published in: on August 14, 2016 at 10:37 PM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Archives – 1945 PR YP’s Convention

This past week Gary Bylsma of Faith PRC dropped off some more items for the PRC archives, and among these were two PRC Young Peoples’ Convention booklets – from 1944 and 1945.

These are significant souvenir booklets not only because they are from the fourth and fifth conventions, but also because these were WW II years and many of our PR young men were away in Europe and the Pacific for that world conflict. And as some of you know, we lost some of young men during that time, and these booklets include memoriam pages to these young men.


Today I feature some of the pages from this fifth convention booklet, hosted by South Holland PRC in 1945. As you will see, our young men at war were very much on the minds of the host society and the young people. It was a different era, important in its own way for our churches and young people.




A fun and interesting part of the convention booklets from the early years is the autograph section in the back. Here was where fellow conventioneers could  sign their names for their friends – old and new. This particular booklet has the pages full of such “autographs.”



I think you will enjoy seeing these and the people who go with them. Perhaps your parent or grandparent is named here. 🙂


Note to Self: Welcome (Hospitality)

Begin by reading Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:2.

Dear Self,

Hospitality… is the will of God for you. God commands you to be hospitable. …He calls you to be hospitable because he himself is a welcomer of strangers and loves the sojourner.

…Throughout history, God has called his people to welcome outsiders into their cities, homes, and lives. Israel was commanded to practice hospitality with their Jewish neighbors but also to welcome, care for, and bless those who visited their cities. Likewise, the church is also commanded to welcome both believers and unbelievers.

…The most basic idea behind hospitality is to care for outsiders in a way that you would care for insiders. You welcome them. So, when was the last time you invited outsiders into your home? Into your busy life? Outsiders are not those close to you but those who are not yet a part of your life. This includes people at church you have not taken the time to meet as well as your neighbors and coworkers you do not yet know. They may be outside or inside the kingdom, but they are currently outside of your ministry influence.

Of course there is no better picture of hospitality than what we find in the gospel, for in the gospel God calls those who were not his people, ‘My people.” By faith we are orphans who have been adopted into God’s family, made coheirs with Christ, and are promised a place at his table in the kingdom to come. God has accepted you and welcomed you in Christ. You know what it is to be an outsider and yet received as an insider, so you should be ready to show others what that kind of grace looks like on a smaller scale in your home.

Note-to-self-ThornTaken from Chap.22 “Welcome” (found in Part Two, “The Gospel and Others”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.81-82.

Hope PRC Church Dedication Program – June 9,1965

As we have noted here previously, this year marks the 100th anniversary of Hope PRC in Grand Rapids, MI (Riverbend area in Walker), the congregation in which I have my own roots.

SpiritualHouse-HopePRC-100thMy wife and I have been browsing our copy of the new RFPA book that marks and celebrates this centennial (A Spiritual House Preserved: A Century in the River’s Bend, 1916-2016), and are thoroughly enjoying it. It is a treasure-trove of fascinating and instructive history, including the many photographs and anecdotes.

Last week for our PRC archives feature we posted an old Reformed Witness Hour program that a member recently brought it. That same donation included a program from the dedication of Hope’s current church building, dated June 9, 1965.


The cover is striking for its color graphics and calligraphy, though it does not contain an image of the new church. The inside is plain and the type mimeographed, so the text is not very clear, but it can still be made out.



If you wish to see how the church building looks at present, visit Hope PRC’s website, or see it here on the PRC website.

Vintage Maps Pamphlets & Travel Guides –


As you may know from various posts on this blog, Abe Books advertises many great book collecting ideas – from first editions to signed copies to vintage dust jackets (see above).

But they also promote other kinds of collecting, such as old travel maps and brochures. In fact, they have a whole section devoted to it and recently called attention to it in an email (dated June 22, 2016).


Since this is the season of travel (summer) here in the Western Hemisphere, we highlight this kind of collecting in today’s post. Below is Abe Books’ introduction to the section, and below that is a link to that section of their website. If the vintage covers don’t grab your attention, perhaps the prices some of these travel items fetch will. Start looking in the glove box and in your vacation picture for some old maps and guides! 🙂

Vintage road and tourism maps are one of the fastest growing areas of collectibles. Discover a wonderful snapshot of trip-planning from A to B.

Those unwieldy folded maps found in the glove box of cars became popular in the 1950s and were used as a means of advertising for car companies, tourist agencies, oil producers and more. Well known map maker Rand McNally produced their first auto map of the New York area in 1904. Vintage travel brochures and pamphlets are affordable and provide a historic look at a geographic region. These folded pieces of ephemera, which were never meant to last, have bold, colorful covers, advertisments, informative text and maps and were most often produced by tourism agencies.

Today, maps published between 1920 and 1960 are in high demand as collectors scramble for pieces of travel history. From Oregon’s Playground via the Beach Route to Touring in Mexico to the Guide to Beppu Japan and Its Vicinity, discover a wonderful snapshot of trip-planning from yesteryear.

Source: Vintage Maps Pamphlets & Travel Guides –

Published in: on July 1, 2016 at 12:05 PM  Leave a Comment  

Reformed Witness Hour in PRCA 25th Jubilee Book

In the Twenty-five Year Jubilee of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America, 1925-1950, the Reformed Witness Hour was featured (along with four other radio programs sponsored by PR congregations! Can you name them?) on pages 59-67.


There are several pages of information (see above image) and some pictures (see below), some of which I post today.



Keep in mind that in October of this year the RWH will celebrate her 75th anniversary. And, don’t forget the special celebration event planned for Saturday, August 13 at Georgetown PRC in Hudsonville, MI, from 9-12 in the morning.

Published in: on June 30, 2016 at 12:02 PM  Leave a Comment