What does it mean for a husband to be the head of the household? How should he lead his wife with authority, gentleness, correction, kindness, provision, and love? Join us for a six-part, online webinar, once a week beginning Tuesday, April 22. Scott Brown will lead discussions with Sam Waldron, Jeff Pollard, Derek Thomas, and myself to discuss the wise counsel for husbands found in the recently modernized book by the Puritan William Gouge, Building a Godly Home: A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage.
I flew out on Tuesday morning, April 1, to Phoenix, Arizona, to deliver three evening messages on the sufferings of Christ (Christ in Gethsemane, Christ at Gabbatha, and Christ on Golgotha) for the ARBCA General Assembly, hosted by Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert, Arizona. The evening meetings were open to the public and drew about 250 people, most of whom were pastors and their wives.
During the days this assembly, which includes about 75 Reformed Baptist churches, addressed a variety of issues related to missions work, received reports from the representative churches and various church plants, and discussed budgetary matters. David Campbell gave an address on Eric Liddell and James Renihan spoke on Symbolics, providing a summary of the London Baptist Confession of 1689.
Twelve boxes of books from Reformation Heritage Books didn’t arrive until the second day, but the ministers were such great book buyers that by the end of the following day, all but half a box of books were sold. The local church bought the balance.
I really enjoyed fellowshipping with many brethren here. A few of the men, such as Fred Malone, James Renihan, and two PRTS long-distance students, I had never had a chance to visit with before. It was also good to see John Giarrizzo (founding pastor of Grace Covenant), Sam Waldron (my former next-door neighbor), and other friends again.
On Friday, April 4, I flew from Phoenix to Orlando via Houston, where I had a surprise meeting in the airport with Cees VanBreugel, the brother who arranges my itineraries every other year in the Netherlands. He just happened to be on his way back from Nicaragua and landed in Houston. I also had an opportunity to evangelize a shoe-shiner, who gladly received one of my books. In Orlando, I met Mary and our daughter Lydia who had flown in from Michigan. We had a delightful overnight stay at the home of Jonathan and Alisa Bos, and then breakfasted the following morning with three professors who teach at R. C. Sproul’s Reformation Bible College, located in Sanford, Florida. The conversation was stimulating and helpful.
After breakfast, we drove to Bradenton, Florida, where we enjoyed the ocean and a male peacock showing off his plumage in an attempt to win one of three females. I then preached the following day two times for the Florida Reformed Fellowship in Bradenton to a group of twenty people. It was good to be there again—also to stay between the services with our Grand Rapids friends, Marinus and Connie Staal. (Marinus organizes the work for this group during the winter months.)
This week we are vacationing in Florida, enjoying a relaxing time. Besides enjoying my wife and daughter, and lots of walking, I have enjoyed catching up with the typesetters on editing the King James Version Study Bible, The Beauty and Glory of Christian Living (a book consisting of last year’s conference addresses), our denominational Yearbook, and a number of other smaller projects. I also caught up with grading student papers, which is always a great feeling! And I’ve even had time to prepare my sermon for the coming Sabbath and to dip into a few books I have long wanted to read. Mary, Lydia, and I hope to take a boat to Key West to spend the day there. We hope to fly home on Saturday, God willing.
My apologies for not writing this sooner, but two weeks ago (March 11–13), this year’s helpful conference at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary was all about the deep yet practical and beautiful doctrine of God’s providence. Dr. James McGoldrick spoke on Calvin’s doctrine of vocation; Dr. Ben Shaw on the relationship of providence to the problem of evil; Dr. James Anderson on the origin of sin; Dr. Derek Thomas on “middle knowledge”; and Rev. Benjamin Miller on “a preacher’s journey through the mists of providence.” Dr. Joseph Pipa addressed the subjects of providence’s relation to fatalism and on the problem of blaming the devil in relation to providence. I spoke on the definition and beauty of providence and on the practical benefits of providence.
The 400 to 450 attendees eagerly drank in deep truths about God’s providence—it was a great group to speak to. Fellowship was great too with friends old and new. And book-buying was unusually robust. Steve Renkema and Chris Engelsma were there with me from Reformation Heritage Books and sold $16,000 worth of books. May God add His blessing to both topics and books.
On Thursday, March 13th, I scrambled getting from South Carolina to New Jersey because my plane was canceled; the airline rebooked me for the 14th, which means that I would have missed some important visits in New Jersey with friends of our seminary. A friend took me to the airport, and in God’s kind providence, I managed to get a very late night flight—then I rushed back to the conference site to give my last address. I mentioned in the address that when I heard my plane was canceled, my first thought was, “You have got to be kidding me!” And my second thought was, “And you are the guy who has to speak about God’s providence today?” I then added, “Who knows? Perhaps my plane had to be canceled so that I could board another in order to meet someone I have to evangelize.”
When I got to the airport, I found out that if I flew standby I might be able to arrive in New Jersey three hours earlier than the late flight to Newark by getting on a flight to the John F. Kennedy airport, and then taking a shuttle bus over to the Newark airport, where my brother was waiting for me. In God’s kind providence, I got the last seat on the plane—a seat next to a young man from the Netherlands. When he heard that I was a minister in the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Grand Rapids, he was very interested in talking. He said that he believed in the Bible but only went to church occasionally. With a smile he said, “I think you can have a very good relationship with God without having to go to church.”
I told him that I was glad he believed in the Bible, and then asked him, “So does that mean if I were to show you in the Bible where it says that we should not forsake attending church regularly, you would begin to go to church regularly because you believe in the Bible?”
When he heard about Hebrews 10:25, he backtracked quickly! “Truth be told,” he said, “I guess that I believe only parts of the Bible.”
Upon further questioning, he admitted that he believed in those parts of the Bible that he wanted to believe in and discarded the rest, and thought that that was what everyone should do! “So if I hear you correctly,” I said, “then everyone really can sort of be a god to themselves, picking and choosing what is truth from the Scriptures according to their own likes and dislikes?”
“Well, I never thought of it that way,” he said, “but I suppose that is what I believe.”
I spent the next half hour trying to convince him of the foolishness and futility of that belief, and that if there really is a God, He is worthy to be served wholeheartedly—not half-heartedly. After a while, he seemed to be quite convicted, and said that he would like to learn more about what I believe. He said he would gladly pay for some of my books that I promised to send him. Without my prodding, he promised that he would read them all and volunteered that he would write me back after reading them, letting me know his thoughts and questions. Pray that he will!
I managed to find the right shuttle bus for Newark at the JFK airport. There was only one open seat, so I soon found myself talking to a single, 27-year-old black woman who worked for a day care center. She loves children and caring for them. She claimed to be a Christian but only went to church three times a year, and was not reading her Bible faithfully. I ended up explaining the gospel to her, and she seemed to find it interesting and helpful. Though she offered no resistance to the gospel, it seemed to me that she was quite content with her present life, except that she wanted to be married. For the rest of the trip, we talked about what kind of man she should look for if she truly was to receive a God-fearing husband.
So my plane was canceled, but God gave me not one, but two people to evangelize!
I was glad to finally connect with my brother Jim in Newark. We had a wonderful time with our gracious hosts and spent the next two days visiting ten couples in northern New Jersey who are friends of the seminary before we were to fly home late Saturday afternoon. But on Saturday morning, I received an email message that my plane was canceled again and that I was re-booked for Sunday morning! Again, I was scrambling, but happily, my administrative assistant was able to get me a direct flight from Newark to home a few hours earlier than my original flight (there was only one seat left on that plane too!). Jim and I managed to shave a little time off all our visits and get to the airport in time for the earlier flight. By having a direct flight, I was able to get home four hours earlier than anticipated—a great help for preparing for the Sabbath! How good and kind Providence is!
My husband and I were invited to the annual World Missions Conference (March 21–23, 2014) of Midway Presbyterian Church near Atlanta. Pastor David Hall and his wife Ann are precious friends of ours. Their infectious friendliness to all sets the tone in the church. The other pastors, Marc Harrington, Joel Smit, and Ben Thomas, along with their wives make up a cohesive team that cares for the church in every way. Various missionaries from far and near, who are supported by the church, reported on their work. We heard about local campus ministry, Bible translation in Africa, and evangelism in Central America and across five continents. The local presbytery also supports Reformation Hope in Haiti, under the direction of Jean Paul, a Haitian-born U.S. citizen. Progress has been made in church planting, training leaders in Reformed doctrine, education, and small business development. They hope to open a medical clinic this year.
My husband spoke four times: Evangelizing Today, Evangelizing the Covenant Seed, The Best Evangelist, and The Age of the Spirit and Revival. The highlight was the Sunday morning sermon about Jesus Christ, the best evangelist, the approachable Christ. Where would we be without a Savior who receives sinners and eats with them, who listens to our troubles, who touches unclean lepers, who searches for the one lost sheep, and who rejoices over one penitent sinner? Several listeners who are going through heavy trials shared how they were greatly encouraged to continue on in God’s strength because of our approachable Savior who cares so much.
We also met with the young married couples for a Saturday brunch. My husband and I led an informal discussion on what we have learned from our experience and others’ about marriage and child-rearing. This and the whole conference was a very rewarding time. I am so privileged to have a husband who is so energetic and intent on sharing the gospel and the truths of Scripture in many places.
Here is an update from my nephew about his wife, Trichelle, as she continues treatment for cancer.
Here is a short update about my dear wife.
Trichelle is recovering well from chemo. We have enjoyed some family time this past week. Tomorrow she has another Herceptin treatment which will continue every three weeks for the next nine months. Radiation treatments start next week, Monday, March 31, and will occur every day for twenty-five days.
Thanks again for the help, prayers, and support.
Answers in Genesis has just published my booklet on the views of the Reformers and Puritans about creation and the age of the earth. Today many evangelical Christians, even within the Reformed community, are embracing a more symbolic or figurative approach to the early chapters of Genesis. Writers from Martin Luther to the Westminster Assembly were well aware of allegorical approaches to Scripture, but as I show in this booklet, they testified with remarkable uniformity to a relatively young world created in six days. They believed that Genesis should be read according to its literal sense. I find this a tremendous encouragement, and I think that this remains an important part of the church’s doctrinal heritage based on the authority and clarity of God’s Word.
Reformation Heritage Books now has available its newly published book, Heart to Heart: Octavius Winslow’s Experimental Preaching, by Tanner G. Turley. Winslow, who served for nearly forty-five years as a pastor, was a model of applying doctrine to experience and life. This book surveys Winslow’s life and approach to preaching, particularly highlighting the Christ-centered focus of his sermons and his use of various methods to bring the truth home to the heart. The book is a beautiful combination of biography and instruction on preaching, and I am excited that RHB has published it. May God use Turley’s book to give the church preachers who take the Word of Christ into the depths of their own hearts, and then send it out into the hearts of their hearers in the power of the Spirit.
Here is an opportunity to learn from the foremost Puritan writer on family life. This six part online webinar series is based on William Gouge’s classic work, Domestical Duties, using the edited and modernized version by Scott Brown and Joel Beeke. This series is designed to help husbands love their wives like Christ loved the church. We will be taking critical chapters in the book that are specifically directed to husbands. Each session will focus on a particular chapter of the book.
Tuesday, April 22 • Authority, pp. 180-195 • Joel Beeke
Tuesday, April 29 • Gentleness, pp. 196-214 • Joel Beeke
Tuesday, May 6 • Correcting, pp. 215-224 • Jeff Pollard
Thursday, May 15 • Kindness, pp. 225-236 • Sam Waldron
Tuesday, May 20 • Provision, pp. 237-256 • Derek Thomas
Tuesday, May 27 • Love, pp. 257-273 • Jeff Pollard
For more information or to sign up for the webinar, go here.
I’m delighted to announce that two new books have arrived at Reformation Heritage Books.
First, there is James Garretson, An Able and Faithful Ministry: Samuel Miller and the Pastoral Office. Samuel Miller, Old School Presbyterian minister and Princeton Seminary’s unsung hero, was both an intellectual and experiential Christian, and a servant of Christ armed with both truth and power. Garretson’s fitting combination of biography and wise counsel allows Professor Miller to mentor us still today in a host of ways. He includes much material gleaned from manuscript archives and not before published. This fascinating volume was a delight to read; I devoured every word. Every pastor, elder, seminary professor, and seminary student should read this book, and return to it again and again for direction and encouragement.
Second, we have received Reformed Confessions of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries in English Translation, Volume 4, 1600–1695, ed. James Dennison. The volume includes statements from the Remonstrance and Synod of Dort, the Westminster Standards, and Particular Baptist confessions and catechisms. This now completes the four-volume set of Reformed confessions with historical introductions—a magnificent achievement. It is our hope that Dennison’s volumes will be for Reformed Christianity what Philip Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom was for the broader church. Every Reformed Christian, especially those called to teach and lead, should study this remarkable collection, for it witnesses powerfully to the rich development, harmony, and piety of the Reformed faith. May the Spirit bless these books so that they help the church to recover a robust and vital Reformed theology that informs minds, warms hearts, and moves hands to live exclusively for God’s glory.
Here is another update on my niece, Trichelle, and her chemo treatments.
On Monday we received news of Trichelle’s MUGA scan. We rejoice and are thankful that the scan did not show any damage to her heart after 12 weeks of Herceptin. The medical staff plan to do a MUGA scan again after 12 more weeks of Herceptin. If all goes according to plan, this pattern will continue for the next 9 months of Herceptin treatments.
So for now, Trichelle is finished chemo, has 9 more months of Herceptin, and should start radiation in about a month’s time.
Thanks again for all the support,