Archives for December 2012

A Reading Plan for A Puritan Theology and Two New Books

Read A Puritan Theology in One Year

Jeff Pollard of Mount Zion Publications is publishing a little brochure this week that provides a reading program for A Puritan Theology to get through the book in one year, averaging four pages a day, five days a week. If you would like a hard copy, contact Reformation Heritage Books. Click here to download your own copy of the reading plan!


Two New Books

Udemans_practice faith

Two books arrived at RHB today. Godefridus Udemans’s The Practice of Faith, Hope, and Love (500 pages; translated from Dutch by Annemie Godbehere; introduced and edited by me; available for $15) is a great book that beautifully explains the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, using them as standards and guides for cultivating faith, hope, and love in our hearts and lives. This is the concluding volume of eight spiritual classics from the Dutch Further Reformation. All of these books, which represent the cream of the Dutch “puritans,” are freshly translated, so they read in a contemporary way. RHB is presently running a special on the entire set to celebrate their completion. Retail for set=$125; special price=$75 (40% discount).



Brian H. Cosby’s Suffering and Sovereignty: John Flavel and the Puritans on Afflictive Providence (176 pages; available for $15) is an excellent book that examines Flavel’s teachings on suffering and how that theology translates into practical application for suffering believers. I edited this book pleasure and spiritual profit. Enjoy!

If you order the 8-volume set of Dutch Further Formation books, RHB will send you Arie de Reuver’s Sweet Communion: Trajectories of Spirituality from the Middles Ages through the Further Reformation for an extra $10 (it is a $30 book; only 60 copies left), which is a great tool for understanding the Dutch Further Reformation as a parallel movement to English Puritanism.

Sweet Communion: Trajectories of Spirituality


Ten Comforts When Losing a Child

Last week I had an opportunity to counsel a dear couple in Ontario who recently lost a child. Afterwards, they asked me to write out the thoughts I gave them that God could use to comfort them. Perhaps these can be of help to others as well:

  1. Think of the eternal destiny of your child. By God’s grace, the child will not return to you, but you will return to the child.
  2. Consider all the sin that your child was spared from by being taken home at a very young age.
  3. Consider how this affliction matures you. We learn more in adversity than in prosperity.
  4. You will be able to comfort others better when you go through deep ways.
  5. Deep afflictions such as this can greatly strengthen the love between you as husband and wife.
  6. You will appreciate future children far more than others who have never faced heavy afflictions in child-bearing.
  7. You will learn submission far better than those who don’t face such trials. Remember what Luther said: “Letting God be God is more than half of all true religion.”
  8. You learn to walk more by faith and less by sight, which brings great glory to God.
  9. You learn to be more weaned from this world more.
  10. You learn to be more conformed to Christ.


Exciting Night for Our Family

Celebrating with My Son, Calvin

Celebrating with My Son, Calvin

Last night we attended a Start Gardens business evening to hear our son Calvin’s presentation for his business called G-Wraps, which provides personalized accessories on glasses. He and another Davenport University student, Tyler Essenburg, are co-owners of the business. Start Gardens, the brainchild of Richard DeVos, invests in promising entrepreneurial businesses. After winning the first level of support ($5,000) three months ago, Calvin and Tyler have been working hard to grow their business so as to win the next level of support ($20,000), which they accomplished, by God’s grace, last night. Three of the companies that presented last night won the support and three did not.

Calvin and Tyler

Calvin and Tyler

This is a huge step for them as it now gives them the financial backing they need to produce a good number of G-Wraps as well as some seed money to advertise. It was a fascinating evening hearing the six different companies present their businesses and goals, and then hearing Rich DeVos and three other business people respond as to why they will or will not continue to invest in each business.

Esther Back Home with Mary and Me

Esther Back Home with Mary and Me

After going out to eat with Calvin and Tyler and family members and friends to celebrate reaching this milestone, we then went to the airport to meet our daughter Esther, who is returning after home from Lithuania after studying there for sixteen  weeks. She had a great time there, and was able to travel to numerous places during her semester for short getaways (Athens, Rome, Paris, Moscow, etc.), but was really looking forward to getting back to her great boyfriend, James Engelsma, and us. And we were counting the days. Though the plane was delayed in Chicago (most other flights from Chicago were cancelled due to inclement weather), she finally landed in Grand Rapids at 1:30 a.m. It was sooooooo great to see her, and so wonderful to have her back home. It seems like she was gone a year.

Welcome Home Esther

Burgessville, Ontario

On Sunday, I preached twice on the preciousness of Jesus Christ—“precious blood” and “precious offices”—for the Burgessville, Ontario Heritage Reformed Congregation, and administered the Lord’s Supper in the morning. Four new communicants attended. That evening, I had a wonderful meeting with 25 young adults, who are studying The Pilgrim’s Progress. Their spiritual astuteness and maturity were most encouraging.

Oxford Reformed Christian School

Oxford Reformed Christian School

The following morning I gave a chapel message on following God fully (Num. 14:24) to 220 K–12 students at the Oxford Reformed Christian School in Oxford County, Ontario. We then went to the Woodstock, Ontario hospital to visit the father of one of our Grand Rapids church members who recently suffered a stroke. He poured out his soul to us about how the Lord converted him two years ago. It was good to be there.

We also had a great time with our hosts, Andre and Shelly Timmerman (Shelly is one of my newly married nieces), and a wonderful meal of fellowship with Jason and Heather Beeke and their children (Jason is my nephew). I also had an opportunity to evangelize a dear couple and to pastor another couple who recently loss their first-born child. This was a special weekend indeed— the worship and service of God and the fellowship of the saints are such a delight!

Update on Victoria (XVI)

My Relatives, with Victoria in Pink on the Front Row

My Relatives, with Victoria in Pink on the Front Row

Last Saturday, my wife and I drove with our daughter Lydia to Ontario. That evening we gathered with a few dozen of our Beeke relatives—including our precious 5-year-old Victoria. Despite the condition of her legs, we were amazed at how fast and energetically she was walking, albeit with a limp. It was a great joy not only to see her, but also to hear from her parents, Jen and Gerald, how the Lord is sanctifying her affliction to her. Of the many stories we heard, here are the three most memorable comments I recall her saying to her mother:

Gerald and Jen DeHaan Family

Gerald and Jen DeHaan Family

1) Reflecting on a Buddhist boy who was in the Toronto hospital with her, Victoria said, “Mommy, I would rather have all my owies and God than have no owies and no God.”

2) Once she said reflectively, “All these owies are OK, Mommy. Jesus had owies much worse than mine, and He did nothing wrong but I have sinned my whole life.”

3) “Will my legs be shiney all the time?” she once asked her mother. “What do you mean, Tori?” Jen replied. She said, “I mean, will my legs be shiney for Jesus?”

A Puritan Theology

1500 copies of A Puritan Theology going to Ligonier

1500 copies of A Puritan Theology going to Ligonier

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life continues to sell well. Today we shipped out 1500 copies to Ligonier for their February conference where Dr. Mark Jones and I will be speaking about our book. Also, today we were able to send to the printer a 200-page paperback,  Encouragements for Today’s Pastors: Help from the Puritans, coauthored by Terry Slachter and myself. It should be available by mid-January.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Ontario with my wife Mary and daughter Lydia where we hope to see Victoria and dozens of extended family members, then preach in Burgessville on Sunday.

Update on Victoria (XV)

Five-year-old Victoria DeHaan was attacked by dogs two months ago. She suffered severe wounds, doctors considered amputating her leg, and at times her life hung in the balance. But the Lord has heard the prayers of many and she not only survived but is much better. I post this to keep faithful and loving prayer warriors updated on her condition.

Victoria had her first appointment at a therapy clinic yesterday. She is doing remarkably well; hopefully as times goes on, her walk will become more normal. She can climb the stairs and hopes to start school soon, perhaps after the winter break. She is in good spirits and the nightmares seem to be decreasing. Yesterday she saw both her legs for the first time. She never wanted to see them before, so her mother always held a towel in front of her when her dressings had to be changed or when she would take a bath or shower.

If you have legs that walk, take a moment today to thank the Lord.

Eight Helps for Coping with Affliction

Flower Crack SidewalkYesterday I underwent a second minor surgery in as many weeks for basal cell skin cancer on my face. This really is not serious and I’ve gone through this a half dozen times. Yesterday was more painful, however. Shots in the nose to numb the infected place don’t feel good! After the dermatologist takes off one layer, you go into a waiting room with a half dozen others who are similarly affected—all sporting large bandages across the nose or other facial parts. I would surmise that everyone is secretly praying while they wait that the doctor would have gotten all the cancer on the first round. Wait time between rounds averages forty-five minutes to an hour.

Well, suffice it to say, that yesterday half the people were sown up after round #1, and nearly another half after round #2—all except for me. The dermatologist was finally successful with me after round three. That means getting numbed up four times and lots of pokes in the nose and surrounding area throughout the day. We ended up being there six or seven hours.

To my shame, I was beginning to murmur when I was the only one left in the room. Two providential things helped, however. One was a sweet old Methodist lady who kept telling us that her life was in God’s hands so that it didn’t matter how many rounds she had to undergo. Her testimony was rather humbling.

But second, and more helpful, was the book I was editing throughout the waiting times—the first ever biography on the Puritan Arthur Hildersham, which Reformation Heritage Books hopes to publish next month. Just as my murmuring began to pick up, I came to a remarkable section of the book about the afflictions that Hildersham had to endure in his life, and how he then wrote about eight helps for coping with affliction. Here they are in shorthand:

1. Think about affliction, expect it, and prepare for it before it comes.

2. Wean your heart from loving earthly things so that when losses and crosses come, you will be able to bow under them in sweet submission.

3. Acquaint yourself thoroughly with the Scriptures, for they prepare people for affliction, and teach us patience and comfort in affliction, like no other book can.

4. Labor to realize how sinful you really are, so that you will understand that what you are enduring is nothing compared to what you deserve.

5. Before the trial comes, make sure you get a true and living faith, and a comfortable assurance of your reconciliation with God through Christ, for faith in Christ and assurance of your soul’s well-being in Him will enable you to drink “the bitterest potion from His hand.”

6. Remember that you possess the hope of eternal glory if and when you die.

7. Before affliction comes, be careful “to lead a godly life, and to get a good conscience.”

8. Let prayer strengthen you in every trial.

What a help these eight takeaways were for me yesterday! How can a believer murmur after meditating on a list like this? Truly, God is better to us in our worst trials than we are to Him in our best righteousness and most godly moments.

Heartfelt Questions about Christ (VIII)


Question: What are the two most common names of the Mediator?

His two most common names are Jesus and Christ.

Why is the Mediator named Jesus?

The name Jesus means “Jehovah saves.” The English name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew Yehoshua, where Yeh or Yah is a short form of Jehovah’s name, and the rest of the name comes from the Hebrew verb yashah, to save. Thus the angel said to Joseph, “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The name Jesus is essentially the same as the Old Testament names Hosea and Joshua.

How was Hosea a type of Christ?

Hosea was a prophet who proclaimed the gospel of God’s free love and saving grace towards sinful people (Hos. 14:1–5). Jesus, the greater Hosea, is the prophet who brought in unsurpassed clarity the gospel of God’s great tenderness to miserable sinners who have nothing loveable in themselves.

How was Joshua, the son of Josedech, a type of Christ?

Joshua served as high priest in the time of restoration from exile (Hag. 1:1, 12, 14). In Zechariah’s vision Joshua appeared wearing filthy clothes in the presence of God while Satan accused him. These clothes were taken from him and replaced with beautiful clothes, a picture of the justification of God’s people in the person of their representative (Zech. 3). The greater high priest, Jesus, became sin for His people, bearing their filth as their substitute, and pleaded their cause based on His obedience and sacrifice. In them they are clothed in righteousness.

How was Joshua, the son of Nun, a type of Christ?

Moses, the prophet of law, couldn’t lead Israel into the promised land, just as the law cannot save us, though it strips us of our righteousness and leads us to Christ. Moses inaugurated the rule of Joshua, who like a king led Israel to defeat their enemies and enter the land of rest (Deut. 3:28; 31:7). Jesus Christ, the greater Joshua, crushes the head of every enemy and brings His elect into the spiritual and eternal rest awaiting them.

Why didn’t someone like Joshua or Hosea hold all three offices?

God reserved the honor of being prophet, priest, and king to Jesus. All office-bearers in the Old Testament were types of Christ. They were imperfect and incomplete; Christ has the fullness. They were anointed with oil and the Spirit, but Christ is anointed with the Holy Spirit without measure to save His people (Isa. 61:1; John 3:34).

What does it mean that Jesus “saves” people?

Abraham Hellenbroek said that this saving consists “in delivering a person from the greatest evil and making him a part of the supreme good” (A Specimen of Divine Truths, 39). The greatest evil is our sin, in its defiling pollution, its dominating power, and its damning provocation of the wrath of God. The supreme good is fellowship with God. Every true child of God, whether a beginner or advanced in grace, longs to be rescued from sin and to taste abiding communion and closeness with God.

What does this mean for me personally?

Do you know Jesus? Have you met Him in the Scriptures? Is He precious to you? Is His name really “Jesus”—Jehovah saves—for you? Have you, by faith, laid your hand upon Him? Have you received Him as the prophet to teach you infallible truth, the priest to clothe you in perfect righteousness, and the king to lead you in victorious triumph over sin and Satan?

On Judgment Day, the most important question will not be, “Have you sinned?” It will be, “What have you done with Jesus?”

A Weekend of Diversity

After completing teaching for another semester on Thursday, I entered a weekend of considerable diversity. Friday morning I led the funeral of Jeanette Berman, aged 97, a lifelong church member who died very suddenly. She remembered as a young child riding to church in the winter on a sleigh!

From there I went to Calvin Seminary where I spoke on “Puritan Preparatory Grace” for the Graduate Historical Colloquium. Rev. Paul Smalley assisted me with the Q&A session that followed. (Some of those that lingered for fellowship are shown in the attached photograph.)

Fellowship after the Colloquium at Calvin Seminary

Then there was a hospital visit to see the new baby of one of our theological students. On Saturday, I officiated the wedding of Matthew Glutting and Kimberly Westrate (Kim is both a member of our church and an employee of PRTS).

Sunday I preached on Revelation 7 and administered our church’s quarterly Lord’s Supper—always a special day. But this time it was a bit nostalgic because I last preached on this text for my father’s funeral nearly twenty years ago, and it was also my 60th birthday and 26th anniversary as a pastor in our church.

Today, my wife and I hosted a farewell dinner for the PRTS students that are leaving us in the next few weeks after the completion of this semester to minister in their home countries. They hail from Brazil, Korea, Malawi, and South Africa.

Dinner with Departing PRTS International Families

Such is life: birth, marriage, birthday, anniversary, Lord’s Supper, lecturing, death, burial, farewell—in one weekend. Solomon was right: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to…” (Eccl. 3:1–2).

Are you prepared for life’s diversity—especially for its end?