Archives for June 2013

Advice for a 12-Year-Old

Paul Washer’s son, Ian, is turning twelve tomorrow. Brother Washer asked me, and several others, to write a letter to Ian providing advice to him. After this letter was written, I thought it might be helpful to others as well.


Dear Ian,

Happy 12th birthday! It is exciting to be growing up, and as a friend of your father, I pray that God would greatly bless you.

Twelve is a great age. In fact, in all the years between Christ’s infancy and the beginning of His ministry at age thirty, the only time the Bible gives us a picture of Christ is when He was twelve. No doubt you know the story from Luke 2:41–52, how Jesus went with his parents to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Let me give you some friendly counsel based upon that Scripture.

1. Thank God for parents that bring you to church. Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem every year for the Passover (v. 41). So he grew up hearing about how great God is and how He saved His people by works of power and by the blood of the lamb. So many kids grow up never hearing about the Lord or not experiencing biblical worship. Thank God for a father and mother who bring you to worship every Lord’s Day!

2. Trust in Christ as a sympathetic Savior. Jesus was twelve too (v. 42). One reason Christ was born a baby and grew up, instead of appearing on earth as a grown man, is so that He could experience life as a child. He understands you. He knows what it is like to be twelve. He has experienced the temptations and trials of a child’s life. This makes Christ such a merciful and wise Priest (Heb. 2:18). He died for sinners just like you and me. He knows exactly what you need to be saved from sin, and can give it to you. Trust Him!

3. Love God’s presence. Christ was not eager to get away as soon as worship was over, but “tarried behind” or stayed in the temple (v. 43). He really loved to be close to God. Like David, the one thing He desired was to dwell in God’s house and gaze on His beauty (Ps. 27:4). Do you love to worship God? Do you drink in His presence like a thirsty man drinks water? If God has given you a heart to love His presence, thank Him and come eagerly to worship. If not, cry out to Him to change your heart, so that you may be born again, and exercise faith and repentance every day by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

4. Don’t resent your parent’s concern for you. When Mary and Joseph did not find Jesus with the caravan of their relatives, they searched for Him (vv. 44–45). They did so because they loved Him. When your parents show concern for your physical or spiritual safety, don’t get irritated. Be glad they care enough to ask you questions and give you advice. They really do want things to go well for you.

5. Learn as much as you can about the Bible and its teachings. They found Jesus with the teachers in the temple, listening and asking questions of surprising depth and maturity (vv. 46–47). We should not think that Jesus was born quoting the Bible. As a real human boy, he had to listen, study, memorize, and think just like you do. He had to depend on the Holy Spirit to give Him insight. Just like Jesus did, work hard at getting wisdom from God. Study. Listen. Ask questions. Read good books. Meditate. My mother died this past year, Ian, at the age of 92. The last year or two of her life, she could not even remember my father, to whom she was married for 52 years. How sad that was! But you know what? She could sing psalms with us, sometimes the entire psalter, that she had memorized when she was your age. If you fill your mind with worldly things now and in your coming teen years, worldly things will press in on your mind all your life. If you fill your mind with good things, you will remember them all your life. These years are the most important of your life. Don’t waste them; but like Jesus (and Caleb, see Numbers 14:24), follow God fully. You will never be sorry.

6. Don’t be surprised if your parents don’t always understand. Mary and Joseph were rather upset with Jesus when they found Him, and gave Him a mild rebuke (v. 48). They loved Him, but they did not understand why He had stayed behind. As you grow up, you will realize that your parents are not perfect. They do not always understand you, and sometimes they may rebuke you when you did not sin. But don’t have a critical attitude towards them. Continue to honor them. We all make mistakes in various ways.

7. Know God as your Father in Christ. Jesus answered his parents, “Wist ye not [don’t you know] that I must be about my Father’s business?” (v. 49) The word “must” tells us that even at twelve years of age, Christ felt an inward compulsion to seek His Father and to do His will. If you trust in Christ alone for salvation, God is your Father. Make it your ambition to always please your Father, even when no one else is around to see what you are doing. Remember, His eye is always upon you—even when no one else’s is. Live in such a way that this fact is not your terror, but in the mercies of Jesus Christ, your comfort.

8. If you don’t understand something about God, keep meditating on His Word. May and Joseph did not understand what Jesus was talking about, but Mary kept thinking about what He said until the Spirit helped her to understand (vv. 50–51). Sometimes you too will find the Bible hard to understand. Things will happen in your life that don’t make sense. The way to respond is to keep God’s Word in your heart, constantly meditating on it with prayer until God reveals Himself to you more.

9. Submit to your parents’ authority. Jesus was the Lord, but He “was subject” or submissive to His earthly parents’ authority (v. 51). How much more should you honor and obey your father and your mother. As you grow older, you will, by God’s grace, grow smarter, stronger, and more independent. That’s good. But never let that cause you to show less respect for your parents. You are still under their authority and in their house.

10. Grow into maturity in every area of life. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” That means He became stronger, wiser, and more mature in His mind and education, in His physical body, in His worship and devotion, and in His social life and friendships. You too need to keep growing in every area of life. Don’t be satisfied to be growing in one area while remaining weak in another area. Try to become a well-rounded young man, like Christ was. And like Christ, be a leader rather than be one who is led. Resist negative peer pressure and promote positive peer pressure. To that end, fear God more than man. Make God big and people small in your life. Live the childlike fear of God which counts the smiles and frowns of God to be of more value than the smiles and frowns of people.

With these ten thoughts, Ian, I want to wish you again a very happy birthday. May the Lord bless you out of His glorious riches with the inward power of the Holy Spirit, so that you will be filled with Christ Himself and God will be greatly glorified through your life. Pray much to hate sin, love Christ, pursue holiness, and live for eternity. And always remember, if Christ is your life, death will be your gain (Phil. 1:21), and eternity will be your joy (Rev. 21).


Joel Beeke

United Reformed Churches Ministers’ Conference

URC Ministers Conference

Monday afternoon I drove down to the URC Ministers’ Conference being held at Mid America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana with Pastor Bill Boekestein. Bill is a PRTS alumni, URC minister, great friend, and soon-to-be coauthor with me—we just did a book together on Christ’s incarnation. I was able to give him a surprise final edited version on the way down. We covered at least a few dozen subjects in the four hours we were together.

I gave the opening address to 40 to 50 ministers on “Maintaining Pastoral Vitality in Long-term Ministry.” I showed the disadvantages of short-term ministry, presented several arguments for long-term ministry, and then provided eight major helps for maintaining vitality for generational ministry:

  • love God, your people, and the ministry;
  • maintain a vibrant devotional life;
  • model godliness as a husband and father;
  • be a faithful Christ-focused preacher;
  • develop a personal growth plan;
  • be a compassionate, faithful pastor;
  • handle criticism well;
  • exercise wise leadership.

Since many ministers tend to serve five or six years in a pastorate and then move on, there were lots of questions afterward. Book buying was brisk, too. Unfortunately, I had to return home that same night to prepare for leaving for Brazil on Wednesday. I made it back safely but regret that I couldn’t stay to hear Dr. Murray, Dr. Pipa, and some other speakers the following day.

Youth Group

Part of the Grand Rapids HRC Senior Youth Group

Part of the Grand Rapids HRC Senior Youth Group

Last night I spoke to our Senior Youth Group on the names of God and Christ, focusing on the Lord of Hosts and Judge. What a great group of young people they are—a real privilege to serve!



Check out the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary Facebook page for stories about professors and students (including the different cultures from which they have come), quotes by Puritans, information about our building expansion, and updates about happenings at PRTS.

Johnson City, Tennessee (June 1–7)

Dr. Reggie Weems

Dr. Reggie Weems

On Sunday, June 2, I preached twice for Dr. Reggie Weems, senior pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Johnson City, Tennessee. About 500 people attended in the morning and 125 in the evening. Afterward, I spoke briefly on Hebrews 12:1–2 and fellowshipped with a group of fifteen ministers and elders who peppered me with edifying questions. We talked for some length on time-management and on how ministers should respond to the homosexual movement.

On Monday, I studied in the morning, went out to lunch with Dr. Weems at noon, perused a large used bookstore in the afternoon, and in the evening gave the first two opening addresses for the Biblical Worldview Student Conference (BWSC), held at Milligan College. About 250 people (mostly students) were present. The purpose of this conference is to train young men and women (age 15 through college years) to know and grow in the faith and be better equipped to face the challenges of an increasingly hostile world by developing a Christian worldview of every area of life.

My daughter Esther and Elizabeth Carlson arrived safely from Michigan with a van load of RHB books. Throughout the week they sold hundreds of books to dedicated young people as well as to many parents who attended the evening sessions.

Milligan College Conference Site

Milligan College Conference Site

The conference sessions from Tuesday through Friday were packed tight in the schedule (averaging eight sessions a day!), and flew by. Douglas Bond, high school teacher and author of numerous books published by P&R, spoke four times in areas related to English, church history, and writing. Dr. Del Bailey, a seasoned internist, spoke four times in areas related to medical issues. Sye Ten Bruggencate spoke four times on doing apologetics. Dr. Matt Bell, well versed in financial issues, spoke four times on matters related to money. And I spoke eight times—four of which focused on developing a global Christian worldview, and four that stressed developing Christian perspective on specific areas, including prayer, discerning God’s will, coping with afflictions, and how to handle lust.

The students responded well to the sessions. Most of them were serious-minded Christians who came from well over a dozen states, ranging from Maine to Florida to California. They came prepared to learn, and asked about 150 written questions, to which the speakers responded in three Q and A sessions.

Conference Speakers

Conference Speakers

Strengthening old friendships and establishing new ones, as well as counseling people individually, are always a tremendous benefit of conferences. I enjoyed fellowship with the two pastors of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, Brent Bradley and Steven Warhurst, who make a great team, working well together. Pastor Bradley, who has served this church for 31 years, served as MC of the conference. I also had good fellowship over meals with Doug Bond, Dr. and Mrs. Del and Debbie Bailey, and David and Sue Temple (whose father I know from South Africa). I was also privileged to offer counsel to a variety of young people, including issues that touched on fears of hell, returning from backsliding, courting an unbeliever, courting in a non-parent approved relationship, and struggling with a call to the ministry and for studying theology. It was also encouraging to see and hear how God was impacting many of the young people even before the conference was over. May eternity reveal the fruits!