Back Home from Columbus, Ohio

Mary and I are just home from Columbus, Ohio where we had a good weekend serving the Calvary Bible Church (photo 1), pastored by Eric Sipe (senior pastor), David Saxton (pastor of discipling and counseling), and Michael Conn (assistant pastor). On the Lord’s Day, I preached three times for this attentive, responsive, and warm church family of about 350 members/attendees on Christ-centered themes related to marriage and child-rearing, family worship, and heaven.

We thoroughly enjoyed fellowship with and staying in the home of Pastor Eric and Cindy Sipe (photo 2). We had great talks about pastoral ministry and leadership and felt quite bonded with this special couple by the time we left their hospitable home this morning. (I had the privilege of teaching Eric on Reformed Experiential Preaching last January at John MacArthur’s seminary where he is enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program, but only got to know him well this past weekend.) Its great to receive new friends as a fruit of conference ministry!

We also had a great time on the Lord’s Day afternoon having a meal at the home of Pastor David and Mary Beth Saxton, and engaging in valuable conversation with them and their children, and three other families who joined us. David is a ThM graduate from PRTS. RHB has printed his ThM thesis on the Puritan practice of meditation. The other three families had fascinating stories to share about their conversions. One brother was converted from the drug world and now feels called to ministry. I had an excellent talk with him about PRTS, and he will seriously consider applying to our school. The second brother is an FBI agent, so I peppered him with questions about his work and learned a great deal from his wisdom. And the third brother shared how he was adopted to an American couple from Thailand as an infant and was led to the Lord here in America, even though his parents are strangers to God’s saving grace. God’s sovereign grace is truly amazing!   

Columbus, Ohio

Today we attended the funeral of Pastor Don VanderKlok in Byron Center, a friend of many years, an alumnus of PRTS, and a faithful pastor who most recently served a group in Dorr, Michigan. Please pray for his wife Jan and his children as he died rather suddenly from Covid at the age of 79. The funeral message was on the beautiful text of John 17:24

From the funeral we went to visit my oldest sister Jackie in Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as she is suffering from blood clots in one lung and pneumonia. Prayers are coveted for her complete recovery soon. I had a wonderful talk with her about heaven and being with Christ forever, together with her caring husband Dave.

From there we drove to Columbus, Ohio, stopping for a quick pizza meal along the way. I hope to preach here tomorrow three times for one of our PRTS alumni, David Sexton.

Once again, your prayers for divine benediction are treasured. Every blessing to you on the Lord’s Day tomorrow.

Зачем пришел Христос?

I am grateful that the book written by Bill Boekestein and me, “Why Christ Came,” which consists of 31 advent meditations about the coming Christ, has just been released in Russian. Pray for God’s blessing upon it please. 

https://epbook.by/catalog/252/zachem-prishel-hristos/

Pray for the Church in Brazil

Mary and I had a wonderful time of fellowship over a pizza dinner with seven of our Brazilian students—all of them warm, godly, caring men called to the Lord’s work. For 1.5 hours they asked us a variety of questions about personal spiritual life, family life, ministerial life, and church life. It was time well spent. Please pray for the Presbyterian church in Brazil.

Thanksliving

I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving Day. One of our theological students, Joihn Byl, preached an excellent Thanksgiving Day sermon on Psalm 136 in our church in the morning, and then we hosted about 20 folk—a mixture of family, friends, and theological students—a few of whom had recently born babies that we wanted to see! It was a blessed time, and the Queen’s cooking was superlative. May God graciously help us to turn our “thanksgiving” into “thanksliving” every day, as Matthew Henry advised!

Praise God for His Goodness

Many, many thanks for praying for Nellie Fintelman (wife of Rev. Mike Fintelman) and their son Jason who is also our nephew, and who gave 2/3 of his liver to his mother last week. Nellie (Nel) went through two more surgeries shortly after her first major surgery due to internal bleeding but by God’s grace the doctors were able to stop the bleeding, and she has been making good progress ever since, as has her son Jason. Today she was able to eat her first meal. Please pray for no more significant setbacks, and praise God for His goodness with us this Thanksgiving Day!

Here is a short note from her husband Mike: “Yesterday Nel made steady progress and they have a tentative discharge date of Monday–if all stays on track. Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving! ‘O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wondrous works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing’ (Ps. 107:21-22).”

Giving Thanks

Sometimes small things move us to thanksgiving. A Filipino PRTS student just walked into my study with five copies of our newly published volume 3 of “Reformed Systematic Theology: The Spirit and Salvation” and asked me to sign them for five ministers in the Philippines. He himself was converted from Arminianism to the Reformed faith not that long ago, as were these five ministers, so upon my questioning, he told me that he wanted to send them this volume (at his own expense!) to help them continue to make progress in the Reformed faith experientially. As he walked out of my study, my heart was touched with gratitude to God for this small, sweet token of His goodness. In a thousand ways, we owe thanksgiving to God for “His mercy endureth for ever” (Ps. 136). John Flavel put it so well: “He that gives no thanks for one mercy hath litte ground to expect another.”

I wish you and your family a truly blessed Thanksgiving Day in Christ Jesus. For things big and small, yes, “in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18). May God grant us all to experience this holiday weekend the precious words of Thomas Brooks: “Thanksgiving is a self-denying grace; it is an uncrowning of ourselves and the creatures to set the crown upon the head of our Creator; it is the making ourselves a footstool, that God may be lifted up upon His throne and ride in a holy triumph over all.”

Rev. Rick Miller

Today Mary and I attended the funeral of a friend of many years, Rev. Rick Miller, a URC minister who passed away at the age of 62 from Covid, whom we trust is now rejoicing before His Savior. He also took a number of ThM courses at our seminary. By God’s grace, he was a faithful brother, zealous for truth, and loved people’s souls. He ended his ministry in the Covenant Reformed Church, Carbondale, Pa., but was buried here in Grand Rapids, having served the Dutton URC for more than ten years in the past. Rev. Casey Freswick preached the funeral message from 2 Tim. 3:6—4:8. Please pray for his dear wife, Maria, and his children Marie and Tom, that God will fill the huge empty presence with His own gracious presence.

Dedication

Paul Smalley and I dedicated our new volume of systematic theology on the Spirit and salvation received yesterday from Crossway to our dear wives, so we had Paul and his wife Dawn over to our home last night. Paul first presented the RST, volume 3 to Dawn who read aloud the dedication to her husband (photo 1), and then I followed suit with the Queen (photo 2). Both of our wives were surprised and moved; it was a sweet hour and a precious moment. Paul and I talk often about what a gift of God Dawn is to him and Mary is to me. Under God, our greatest thanksgiving in our lives and especially in this week of Thanksgiving is our own dear wives.

Now you’ll have to buy the book to find out what we said to them and then read the book for your own soul and growth in grace!

Order your copy here: https://www.heritagebooks.org/products/reformed-systematic-theology-volume-3-spirit-and-salvation-beeke.html

Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 3: The Holy Spirit and Salvation

On the way home from preaching in Kansas City yesterday, David Woollin asked me to stop at our new RHB store, where I was happily surprised to see that our 5,000 ordered copies of “Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 3: The Holy Spirit and Salvation” (1,170 pages), coauthored by Paul Smalley and me, had arrived from the publisher (Crossway) (photo 1 with David Woollin and Steve Renkema and half of the shipment on pallets on our left). RHB then asked me to do a short video on the new title (see below), and then I immediately took two copies to my faithful co-author to share the joy and our gratitude to God for His grace in completing this volume (photo 2).

Volume 3 not only offers the traditional order of salvation that the Holy Spirit works in the souls of God’s people from effectual calling through perseverance in several hundred pages, but it also considers the Spirit’s work in a variety of ways (such as in creation, in common grace, in old covenant Israel, in the incarnate Son, as well as baptism with the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the signs and wonders of the Spirit, and the Spirit in relation to the new creation), in a few hundred pages, and then deals with a number of experiential aspects of the Spirit’s work that is often not included in systematic theologies, such as the Spirit’s indwelling, leading, and filling; assurance of faith; and the marks of grace spelled out in the Beatitudes and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. The volume concludes with a few hundred pages of spiritual and practical ethics that flow out of the doctrine of salvation, including four chapters on how the Christian lives out of the Ten Commandments as a rule of life and various additional themes such as the fear of God, self-denial, sober watchfulness, and recovery from backsliding. In some ways, I feel like this is the most important volume we have written, due to its experiential emphasis on the saving work of the Holy Spirit and its focus on living the Christian life so as to grow in holiness.

Order your copy here: https://www.heritagebooks.org/products/reformed-systematic-theology-volume-3-spirit-and-salvation-beeke.html