On Saturday I spoke on “How to Pray and Meditate” to the Indian Fellowship, which had its meeting in the chapel at PRTS. I enjoyed these dear people very much.
Ever since I heard some fifteen years ago that the average African pastor has only about a dozen books in his library, I have felt burdened to make an important part of Reformation Heritage Book’s non-profit status be connected to distributing sound Reformed books through reliable ministries to these pastors. Their joy in receiving such books is often amazing; the potential usefulness of such books is incalculable. This week, one of our PRTS graduates, Rev. Brian Kamwendo, who is serving as a theological teacher in Malawi, sent me this picture of his theological students at Josophat Mwale Theological Institute (an official seminary for the CCAP Nkhoma Synod) receiving Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism. If you share this burden and would care to donate to this cause of distributing Reformed literature to African pastors and theological students, please send your donation to Reformation Heritage Books, 2965 Leonard N.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525 (for more information, call RHB’s manager, Steve Renkema, 616-977-0599, x 125).
I got back to Grand Rapids Tuesday morning from New Jersey. On Sunday, I preached on “True Life on Earth” and “True Love in Heaven” for the Heritage Reformed Church at Kinnelon, NJ, and baptized Emma Grace Davis, daughter of Luke and Karis Davis, the newest member of the large Davis family that hails from Brazil. On Monday, the memorial service and graveside committal for Joan Elshout were edifying. At Mrs. Elshout’s request, I preached on “This man receiveth sinners” from Luke 15:2, and Rev. Brian Najapfour, her son-in-law, spoke on John 20:24–28 at the committal. Rev. Elshout and his family were upheld throughout, being particularly encouraged by Joan’s dying cry, “Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
The drive in the car going to and back from New Jersey with five family members went well, and we arrived back in Michigan early in the morning. Then, later that day I led the funeral of Mrs. Alice Dole, who, in God’s providence, had many of the same spiritual struggles that Joan Elshout had. Thank God for upholding us and the mourning families through four deaths in ten days. Please read Hebrews 9:27-28.
Dr. Michael Haykin gave the commencement address to our 14 graduates from 5 continents on Friday evening from 2 Timothy 1, stressing their dependency on the Holy Spirit. I gave the charge from 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Follow after charity,” stressing that the graduates should love their Savior, their sanctity, their sheep, and their specialty of being preachers of the Word.
After feeling helped in speaking seven times in less than 48 hours, I returned home from the Southern New England Reformation Conference in Rhode Island yesterday. About 225 people attended, many of whom are recent converts who have wonderful testimonies to share. I enjoyed immensely my time with Pastor Ventura and his family, and it was great to visit with Rev. Michael Ives and his family, too. (Michael is one of our former students.) A little girl named Bethany greatly cheered my heart with her notes of assuring me that she was praying for me to have “curij” (courage) because I looked “tired and nervis” (nervous)!
After arriving home, I led the funeral of one of our dear members, Mr. John Sporte. Then, when we were between the funeral and the cemetery, my dear friend Rev. Elshout called that his dear wife Joan had just passed away, shortly after crying out, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” (I hope to fly to New Jersey on Saturday, serve my “former church” there on Sunday, and lead the funeral service on Monday, D.V.) On the way home after leaving the cemetery, we received a call that yet another member from our church appears to be dying—a dear sister, Alice Dole. Please pray for all these families, and let us ever remember that we lie in the midst of death and need to be prepared to meet our Maker.
Arthur Hildersham (1563–1632) was an influential Puritan preacher in late Elizabethan and early Stuart England. Though little known today (his works have not been reprinted in modern times), his preaching was quite popular. He gave his hearers solid, doctrinal sermons that perhaps did not move the emotions as much as more gifted speakers but fed their souls. His published sermons include 108 messages on John 4. He also suffered for his Reformed convictions, first when his Roman Catholic parents disinherited him, and then later when the Church of England’s bishops had him suspended from ministry and imprisoned. Reformation Heritage Books recently published a biography of Hildersham, and its author, Dr. Lesley Rowe had an opportunity to give an address at Hildersham’s parish in England.
Dr. Rowe shares, “Over 100 people attended the lecture in St Helen’s Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Hildersham’s church), which was a great encouragement. Some had travelled from as far afield as Rochdale, London, and Cambridge to be present, but most of the people came from the Midlands, with a good number from Ashby itself. The current vicar of Ashby, Brian Robertson, introduced the evening by reading Hildersham’s prayer of 1625, which he prayed before his lectures in 1625, and by reading Psalm 51:1–7, on which Hildersham had delivered 152 lectures. I then spoke for about 40 minutes, describing Hildersham’s life and ministry in Ashby and explaining why he was so loved and revered in the town. Afterwards I took questions. At the end, I signed and sold nearly 40 copies of the book. Many people expressed their appreciation, and also said they had not realised what an important figure Hildersham was.”
God’s Word is sweeter than honey and richer than gold! If you are looking for more ways to feed on the Word, our church offers opportunities through the radio and the internet. Sermons preached by various pastors and guests speakers at Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation can be downloaded from SermonAudio here. This helpful website also hosts messages from the chapels and conferences of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. My sermons on Genesis are being aired on the radio locally in the greater Grand Rapids area on WFUR (102.9 FM) on Sundays from 9:00 to 9:30 p.m. So turn on your radio or plug in your iPod, and may God bless you through His Word!
Approximately 600 attended the Philadelphia Conference of Reformed Theology on April 19–21. The theme was “In the Beginning: God, Adam, and You.” I arrived late on Friday, due to having to lead a funeral of one of our dear members in Grand Rapids that morning, so I missed the pre-conference by my good friend Jon Payne on “Our Forgotten Heritage: Recovering a Reformed Ministry,” which focused on the lives and ministries of Charles Simeon, John Owen, and Zacharias Ursinus in conjunction with the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. (By the way, Dr. Jason VanVliet and I can still take on a dozen more travelers for our European tour this summer, July 9–19—we’d love to have you join us.) I also missed Derek Thomas’s opening address, “The Bible’s First Word.”
On Saturday, Liam Goligher (senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, where the conference was being held) preached on “Lord of the Garden,” Rick Phillips (the conference organizer and MC), spoke on “The Bible and Evolution.” I spoke on “The Case for Adam,” participated in a QA session, did a video interview for PCRT, and then spoke on “Christ the Second Adam.” As soon as my last address was finished, I had to rush to the airport to catch the last flights home, arriving a few hours before midnight. The next day I preached for Seventh Reformed Church in the morning and our own church in the evening.