Archives for November 2022

Surprise Birthday Party!

My wife Mary is amazing. She pulled off a completely surprise 70th birthday party for me in our seminary chapel, which resulted in about 250 people attending from my family, the church, the seminary, Reformation Heritage Books, and additional friends. Photo 1 is of people lined up in one of the hallways waiting to surprise me. My good friend and seminary colleague, Dr. Mark Kelderman, gave an opening word of about ten minutes to me. He was very gracious and warm—I could only wish that I am about half of the things that he said. Then I stammered a few words back to him (photo 2), and thanked everyone for all their love—including my wife and children, and spoke some spontaneous thoughts to the children and the young people who were present, urging them to follow the Lord fully in their lives.

Afterwards, the people formed a long line to wish me well, with my Queen at my side. Several of them told me how the Lord used me in their life—for their conversion or for their spiritual maturation—telling me in some cases things I never knew before. Those comments were in many ways the highlight of the surprise evening for me. I always find it overwhelming and humbling that God would use a sinner like me for other people’s eternal welfare. Soli Deo gloria!     

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a great Thanksgiving Day. Following a helpful sermon on beautiful Psalm 103 in the morning, we enjoyed an afternoon of wonderful family fellowship (30 in our home spanning four generations—only part of them on photo 1) and a delicious Thanksgiving meal, followed by a refreshing lengthy walk in the woods behind our home. Some of the women enjoyed finishing a jigsaw puzzle (photo 2). I think my highlight was being a “Grandpa horse” for some of our grandchildren who kept climbing on me and falling off my back, squealing with delight (photo 3).

Early 70th Birthday Celebration

We just had a joyful and wonderful 2.5 hour dinner celebration for my upcoming 70th birthday (I can’t believe it!) with our children (l to r: James and Esther Engelsma, Laura and Calvin Beeke, and Isaac and Lydia Epp) before Isaac and Lydia move to Canada next week where Isaac will be ordained as a minister in the Free Reformed Church of Picture Butte, Alberta on December 16, D.V., when I will have the privilege of preaching his ordination sermon. And the following month they are hoping to have their second child (our 9th grandchild). We will miss them sorely, but their move is for a good cause.

After a sermon tomorrow morning, we hope to have all our parents, children, grandchildren, and some friends to celebrate thanksgiving to God (30 in all) over dinner. We are so filled with gratitude for our children and grandchildren that we can’t put it into words. What a promise is contained in Psalm 128:6: “Thou shalt see thy children’s children and peace upon Israel”! SDG for a God-fearing seed! I wish a blessed Thanksgiving to you all in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Joy in Dark Places by Thomas Parr

Here is a one-minute video stressing the value of Thomas Parr’s great new book on how to maintain true Christian joy in and through all—yes, all!—of life’s trials:

Sneak Peak from “The Queen”

This is Mary, hijacking my husband’s blog. People ask me sometimes how my husband gets so much work done, and part of the answer is that he takes little naps. Here he was on Sunday, enjoying holding our little granddaughter. It was so relaxing that they both fell asleep.

Pastor John Byl Ordained at Heritage Reformed Congregation

Yesterday was a great day for our Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids. In the morning service, John Byl (2nd from right) was ordained into the ministry as our fourth pastor, joining Pastor Simon Yin (far left; also Mandarin-speaking to serve our Chinese members), Pastor Darryl Dedert (2nd from left—ordained last month with a special focus on evangelization), and me.

Dr. Michael Barrett (who served as John’s mentor for his four years at Puritan Reformed) preached the ordination sermon from 1 Timothy on “Good Ministers” and Dr. Maarten Kuivenhoven (who mentored John through a one-year internship among us) read the ordination form and gave the personal charge from John 21:15-17. In the evening, Rev. Byl delivered his inaugural sermon on “The Centrality of the Cross” from 1 Corinthians 1. Along with three others, I spoke some personal words to him (on 2 Cor. 4:1). Pray that Pastor Byl will be a great blessing for our flock in preaching and pastoring to the welfare of believers and the unsaved to God’s glory.

Addresses from the 2022 Puritan Reformed Conference

Since many of you have asked, here, finally, are all of this year’s Puritan Reformed Conference addresses:


P.S. The Michigan snowstorm (24 inches in all!) is over, and the sun is shining!

The Ultimate Puritan Reading List

What are the best Puritan books? Enjoy this 35-minute video produced by Reformation Heritage Books ( of Paul Smalley and me talking about our top choices for those who want to start reading the Puritans for their own intellectual and spiritual profit. 

New Video— A Habitual Sight of Him | Profiles in Reformed Spirituality | Thomas Goodwin

Thomas Goodwin has been my favorite Puritan writer for most of my life. You’ll understand why if you listen to my admiration of this man’s godly piety in this 2-minute video. Here is a link to “A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin.”

Beautiful First Winter Storm!

Looking over our patio this afternoon: This is what happens in the fall in Michigan when a husband has been too busy to remember to get the patio furniture stored for the winter before the first major snowstorm strikes. My bad—but it is stunningly beautiful!