Q&A Interview for Pastors & Families in the Philippines

Yesterday I did a Q&A interview mostly on the Puritans for pastors and families in the Philippines with two brothers, Bryan and Khyle. I am grateful to hear of a growing interest in the Reformed faith in the Philippines. Pray that that may continue and be multiplied.

Gilbert Vander Male

Yesterday afternoon we had yet another funeral service—this one in memory of Gilbert Vander Male, who passed away at the age of 97 as one of the oldest members of our church. He is survived by 5 children, 15 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and scores of other relatives. He was a World War II vet, and was in the thick of battle for some months. He witnessed many comrades being killed around him, though he never spoke much about this until near the end of his life. Being self-effacing, he would not even allow a special military service at his graveside, though he did allow a flag to be draped across his coffin and then be given to his children in recognition of his service.

My colleague, Dr. Maarten Kuivenhoven, spoke in the church on Isaiah 55:1-3 (“Ho everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” etc.) and I gave a committal message at the graveside on Revelation 21:5-6 (“I am Alpha and Omega… I make all things new”). Two sons, Bob and John, also shared memories of their dear father. In being one of his pastors for the last 34 years I had the privilege of seeing him gradually come to saving faith in Christ over the years, then receive freedom to attend the Lord’s Supper for the first time at the age of 91(!), and grow in assurance of faith during the last years of his life so that he felt ready and at peace to die to be with Christ in the end. Praise God for the end of those made righteous and blameless in Christ (see Ps. 37:37).

Isabelle

This evening we attended graduation dinners/fellowship for three more high school graduates—the last of fourteen graduates that we enjoyed celebrating with on this special occasion over the last three weeks. One of the highlights this evening was getting to hold this precious 4-month old Isabelle, gifted by God to a dear couple in our church who waited eighteen years for a baby! God truly brought them through fire and water into a wealthy place by having their cups run over with joy when He placed this now adopted baby surprisingly and suddenly in their laps. Pray that God will richly bless this child with saving grace at an early age, so that she may grow up continuing to be a source of great joy to her loving parents and they may continue to be a source of great joy to her.

Weekly Sermon Quote – June 13, 2021

Michael and Sandra Barrett’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

Tonight those of the faculty and leadership of PRTS who could make it had a very special evening dedicated to our Academic Dean and OT Prof, Dr. Michael Barrett his wife Sandra, to commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary. We had a delicious meal at the home of Mark and Donna Kelderman, and afterwards enjoyed a time of great fellowship that culminated with each one of us telling Michael and then Sandra what we appreciate most about each of them. We were all deeply moved as we expressed our deep love in Christ for this very dear couple who have now been with us for nearly a decade and they responded with a profound sense of humility and gratitude. The evening was closed with singing some of the great hymns. The bonds of Christian love felt this evening were joyous and tear-jerking beyond words. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).

Moving Time!

Moving time has arrived in a big way for us! By God’s amazing grace, Reformation Heritage Books is finally moving the bulk of our basement full of books to our newly purchased 44,000 square feet building on 29th Street SE in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hundreds of skids of books (that is, thousands of boxes of books worth several million dollars) are being moved—by strong young men (with the “assistance” of some eager children!)—with a target completion date of this week Thursday. By Friday we are hoping to be filling mail orders at our new location. The large, new retail store should be open in a few weeks. A dedication evening is being set for mid-July! Please pray for God’s blessing on this major move and expansion of RHB as we increasingly become a worldwide biblical, Reformed, confessional, experiential, and practical book ministry that aims, by the Spirit’s grace, for the glory of God, the maturation and discipling of believers, and the salvation of the lost.   

Pray for these Graduates

From the last week of May through the third week of June each year, parents of graduates from our high school offer open house dinners and times of fellowship for their family and friends. This year Mary and I were invited to congratulate over a dozen graduates at these wonderful fellowshipping occasions. This evening we celebrated the graduations of Philip Vroegindewey (going into pre-med) and Seth Bilkes (going into investment finances). Please pray for these young men and all the graduates as they launch out into the world that they would be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).  

Wedding of Rodney & Shamber Kirkendoll

Early this evening I officiated the outdoor wedding of Rodney and Shamber near Lansing, Michigan. Despite the near 90 degree weather, I was privileged to speak from Psalm 37:3-7 on “God’s Four-Ingredient Recipe for a Truly Happy Marriage”: “(1) Trust in the Lord. (2) Delight thyself in the Lord. (3) Commit thy way unto the Lord. (4) Rest in the Lord.”

The wedding took place in the front yard of Shamber’s parents’ home. Shamber is the third child of 18 in her family—as well as the third one to be married! Two are biological, and 16 are adopted (most of whom are in the second picture below). We have been friends of this dear family for many years largely through attending the same conference in North Carolina.

Pray with me that God would bless this couple abundantly and grant them Psalm 37’s four-ingredient recipe of happiness in their marriage.

Taking Hold of Ourselves and of God in Prayer

This morning I gave this short 15-20 minute meditation on “Taking Hold of Ourselves and of God in Prayer” on Zoom for the United Prayer Group Meeting organized and led by Steven Lee of Sermonaudio.com [https://tinysa.com/sermon/61221149527604]. Afterward, it was a very edifying prayer time.

What need we have for more such prayer times! May God deliver us from our prayerless praying and teach us how to truly pray in our prayers.

The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

Reformation Heritage Books just brought back into print Walter Marshall’s (1628-1680) classic, “The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification,” in a paperback version, including my 20-page introduction about the book. This is, in my opinion, the very best book ever written on sanctification and its relationship to justification. If you want to grow in holiness, read this book prayerfully and meditatively and slowly. It is a gem.

https://www.heritagebooks.org/products/the-gospel-mystery-of-sanctification-marshall.html