All the editions of the new Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible have now arrived, including the leather versions. As you can see, the editorial team is delighted. Old Testament editor Dr. Michael Barrett is holding the cowhide Study Bible, New Testament editor Dr. Jerry Bilkes the genuine leather edition, I the imitation leather edition in its three colors, and editorial assistant Pastor Paul Smalley the hardcover edition. About 5000 copies of the 20,000 have sold already. It’s also available as an app through Olive Tree and Logos (pre-order).
The latest newsletter sharing Dr. Beeke’s ministry activities from September 9 to November 3, 2014, may be downloaded here: Pastoral Letter #148.
(post written by Mary Beeke)
The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) promotes dependency on Scripture in church and family life. The theme for this year’s conference was “The Power of the Gospel.” The 1,200 attendees included many large, wholesome families. Pastor Scott Brown is the leader, and in lockstep with the mission of NCFIC, involves a number of his family and church family in running the conference. The five young men in this year’s internship program spent seven months being discipled and mentored in the Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The culmination of their internship was to help run the conference. We didn’t think twice when one of them introduced himself as James Fletcher at the airport. Then on the way to the conference, he said, “I think you know my grandparents, Bob and Betty Fletcher.” What a happy surprise to meet the grandson of such dear friends!
On Thursday we attended a pre-conference for church leaders and wives where my husband spoke on the need for pastors and their wives to live out of the Scriptures. Other speakers included Joe Morecraft, Craig Houston, John Snyder, and Jeff Pollard. A roundtable discussion which focused on shepherding the sheep followed the addresses.
We had the joy of having dinner Thursday evening with two large families who reside near Lansing, Michigan: Jerry and Tamael Flore and Joel and Tammy Brown. The Flores’ had “only” thirteen of their eighteen children with them this year, and the Browns had seven of their soon-to-be eleven children with them (they are in the process of adopting three more children). What a joy these families and friends are!
The keynote speakers for the main conference from Thursday afternoon to Saturday evening were Scott Brown, John Snyder, Jeff Pollard, R.C. Sproul Jr., Kevin Swanson, Carlton McLeod, and my dear husband. The addresses were on the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation, covering many of its major steps, including election, conversion, justification, sanctification, assurance, perseverance, and glorification. My husband was asked to speak on assurance and to give two messages on perseverance. He also gave a one-hour interview on holiness, as did some of the other speakers, in anticipation of next year’s conference.
There was a separate session for men and boys called “Burnings in the Soul,” in which nine speakers told in fifteen minutes each what issues were on the forefront in their hearts. Joel shared these: family worship, which was a motivation for producing the KJV Study Bible; excitement for reprinting the Works of William Perkins, the first time ever since it was printed in the 1600’s; Reformed experiential preaching and writing a book about it; and national repentance and the prayer that God would raise up God-fearing preachers and politicians.
The NCFIC Conference was the place of the debut of the publication of the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. Steve Renkema, RHB manager, stopped in Indiana on his way down and picked up the first skid of the hard cover edition. Larry and Linda VanBeek drove down also, to work the book table. Close to 400 Bibles sold together with many more books, especially after Joel urged the people to use the Study Bible for family worship, to read the Puritans (reprinted in today’s language), and for the children to read about heroes of church history. Most of the children are home educated, so they are always looking for materials. One little boy had saved money to buy a certain book, and he seriously laid out his one dollar bill and many coins. Another family purchases a book for each child every year, so they diligently check out each booth to make their choice. Several families bought Bibles for their entire family (ranging from 5 to 15 Bibles per family) so that every child of reading age could participate directly in family worship. What an encouragement such families are!
I think seeing the KJV Study Bible in print was one of the most special moments in my husband’s life. It is a dream come true for him as well as for his fellow editors, Dr. Michael Barrett (OT editor), Dr. Jerry Bilkes (NT editor), and Rev. Paul Smalley (editorial assistant). It is the fruit of countless hours of work for the writers and especially the editors. The most special part about it, aside from the Scripture itself of course, is the section of thoughts for personal and family worship at the end of each chapter’s notes. We hope and pray that sinners will be saved and souls fed, and that fathers will lead their families to discover the treasures of Scripture, so that Jesus Christ will be at the center of every heart.
(The following is an update on the cancer treatment of my niece, Trichelle Beeke.)
Dear Friends and Family,
Yesterday Trichelle had a busy day meeting with her oncologist in Abbotsford and her surgeon in Vancouver. The plan was for her final two Herceptin treatments to occur over the next three weeks followed with surgery on Nov. 19. Unfortunately, the MUGA scan of her heart muscles shows that currently her heart is too weak to endure surgery. According to the oncologist it is “borderline” whether to allow the final two Herceptin treatments, but they will go ahead with a treatment tomorrow and again in 3 weeks. Surgery will have to wait. It is more important that all the treatments occur.
We met with the surgeon and had to cancel the Nov. 19 surgery date. This was disappointing as we were looking forward to having all of these treatments and procedures completed sooner rather than later. At the meeting, the surgeon walked us through what will occur with surgery and what to expect for recovery. Provided the remaining treatments occur on schedule and Trichelle’s heart muscles strengthen, we will hear back about a new surgery date possibly scheduled sometime in early 2015.
So we are called today to follow the instructions in Psalm 37:7,
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
Thank you for your prayers and care.
Please pray that Trichelle’s heart muscles will strengthen and that the cancer will never appear again.
Dave, Trichelle, Breyden, Quinten, and Emilee Beeke
Mary and I hope to leave for the NCFIC in North Carolina on Wednesday (2000 attendees expected). I hope to speak four times on Life in the Word, Assurance of Faith, Perseverance in the Word, and Perseverance by the Spirit—then return on Saturday evening.
If you cannot be there, but would like to listen to the conference addresses via livestreaming or video recorded online, you can do so by going here.
(written by Mary Beeke)
On Friday, we were driven back to São Paulo, where a group of us flew to Salvador for a mini-FIEL conference which dealt with the same general theme. Joel spoke on how the Holy Spirit works genuine repentance and on the indwelling work of the Spirit in the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4). On Sunday, he preached at Igreja Presbiteriana de Brotas, whose pastor is Samuel Vitalino, on Philippians 1:21. For the Sunday school he preached on coping with affliction. After the sermons, we met a blind man who was wonderfully converted from a spirit form of worship similar to black magic. His eyes have been truly opened to the gospel.
Joel’s first trip to Brazil years ago was in response to Dr. Manuel Canuto’s invitation to the Puritan Project, where he met Pastor Josafá Vasconcelos, who has since become a close friend. (My husband even dedicated one of his books to this very dear brother.) This present trip ended with Joel preaching the first time in Pastor Josafá’s church, with Dr. Canuto in attendance. It was a very emotional experience for them. There is nothing like a mutual love for the Lord Jesus Christ to bind friends together. He preached on Hebrews 12:1–2. As Pastor Josafá eases into retirement over the next years, the plan is for Daniel Silveira, one of our present PRTS students, to take up the mantle. Daniel, his wife Flávia, and their daughter Isabel have brought Brazilian warmth to our church and seminary communities here in Grand Rapids.
After the service Sunday evening, so many young people wanted to ask my husband questions, that he offered to have a sit-down, twenty-minute Q&A session—a session that quickly turned into an hour of great questions.
We had time to see Salvador Monday morning. Samuel Vitalino was our able tour guide. Salvador is a coastal city of nearly three million, and a place of much religion: few evangelicals, many Pentecostals and Roman Catholics, but also a large presence of the cult Candomblé, which is a mix of African worship and Roman Catholicism. Many of the souvenirs have idolatrous significance. The slaves that were brought here in the 1700’s and 1800’s were from the same parts of Africa as those brought to America. We saw the public square where slaves were publicly beaten. In 1888, Princess Isabel set all the slaves free. Racism is absent in the church. At the conference and at all the churches that we visited, there is a beautiful mix of different ethnic backgrounds. We loved the Brazilian folks before, and we love them even more now.
As I write this account of our trip, my dear husband is sitting next to me. Reading is his normal airplane activity. But the last eleven days, two consecutive trips for him which involved speaking 22 times, have worn him out. The page he is attempting to proofread is entitled “Learning to Enjoy Meditation.” But I think he is actually taking a power nap. I do love him so very much.
(written by Mary Beeke)
We are thinking it is Joel’s twelfth trip to Brazil, and it is my fourth. We met in Detroit, him flying in from Seattle and me from Grand Rapids, then on to São Paulo on an 11-hour overnight flight. Four hours by car—hills and curves—brought us to Águas de Lindóia, where the FIEL Conference is held. In total, it was a 31-hour trip for my husband, and 25 hours for me. The place and the people have become pleasantly familiar. This year’s conference drew 1900 people at which time they cut off the registration due to lack of accommodations for more people. About 70% of the attendees are pastors and their wives. Five to six thousand people heard the addresses through livestreaming. Many thousands more will tune in in due course, we were told. God is doing great things in Brazil.
This year’s theme was “The Work of the Holy Spirit.” Kevin DeYoung spoke on how the Holy Spirit speaks to us, the Spirit’s role in our holiness, and on the conscience. R.C. Sproul Jr. spoke on the Holy Spirit as Lord and Giver of life and on sanctification. You may recall R.C. lost his wife about two years ago to leukemia. Their eight children range in age from 4 to 20 now. He spoke of how God is glorified through struggles, and that He sends trials for our good and for His glory. Deep ways—I can’t imagine. The tears flowed—his and ours. The Brazilian speakers were Davi Charles Gomes, Franklin Ferreira, Leandro Lima, Mauro Meister, and Silas Campos. Skilled interpreters were Heber Campos Jr. and Eros Pasquini.
Joel’s first two addresses were on the importance of the Holy Spirit’s saving work and on the Spirit’s role in bringing believers to full assurance of faith. For his last address, which was the closing address of the conference, he decided to change it to something that the people could go home with, something to encourage and inspire them, something to apply all the other messages to their hearts. The Lord helped him in a wonderful way as he preached from Revelation 21:1–8 on the glory that awaits God’s people as the culmination of the Holy Spirit’s saving work in their lives.
It was great for us to meet old friends again. Joel enjoyed seeing Augustus Nicodemus Lopes again, a friend who served as president of Mackenzie University for ten years and is now pastoring a church of twelve hundred. We are also very fond of Bill and Mary Barkley. Bill translated and published Meet the Puritans in Portuguese. What warm, loving friends they are! And of course, we again enjoyed immensely our time with Tiago Santos and Rick Denham, able leaders of FIEL.
Between the addresses, many people like to have their pictures taken with the speakers, have them sign books, and show appreciation and affection. There was lots of boisterous talking, smiling, and hugging. My husband’s new book, in Portuguese, Puritan Reformed Spirituality, sold 650 copies, and his Living for God’s Glory sold 300 copies. It is very special to hear how God has used books and past sermons and addresses to touch people’s lives. A sampling of some of the stories we heard were:
- Two formerly Pentecostal pastors told Joel that reading Living for God’s Glory was used by God to enable them to fully embrace Calvinism, which has transformed their lives and ministries.
- Several people told Joel that after his talk on family worship a few years back that they started family worship for the first time and were blessed in doing so. Others revived the practice. One brother told Joel movingly that his quotation of Thomas Brooks that a family without daily prayer is like a house without a roof exposed to all the storms of heaven deeply convicted him. He started doing family worship again, and his family’s life has been transformed.
- One husband told my husband that the Holy Spirit used his and Steve Lawson’s addresses two years ago to deliver his wife from spiritual bondage. She found freedom in the gospel for the first time in her life.
- One woman told us with tears how my husband’s address on the Spirit’s work in bringing His people to heaven where they will gaze on His face forever was an overwhelming blessing to her. She also said that a blind man sat next to her and wept throughout the address, longing for the day when he will be able to see Christ forever.
- Several ladies told me how my book on kindness and speeches a few years ago impacted their family life.
(to be continued in part 2)
At the heart of the Reformation, Martin Luther spent the best two hours of each day alone with God. On one occasion, facing particularly difficult labors on the coming day, he told his friends: “I have so much scheduled for tomorrow that I must arise an hour earlier to have an extra hour alone with God.”
John Welsh, the God-fearing son-in-law of John Knox, kept his robe close to his bed because a night seldom went by in which he did not rise to pray to his God. Often his wife would find him praying and weeping after midnight. She would ask the cause and receive the answer: “Oh my dear wife, I have three thousand souls to answer for, and I know not how it is with many of them!”
Considering these forefathers and other saints of God, truly we do not know how to pray as we ought.
Prayer is necessary for the believer for at least three reasons. God demands it, and this is certainly sufficient in itself (Matt. 7:7–8; Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17). Our own nature demands it, as we are needy and dependent by nature, even after receiving grace to believe. Every person needs a prayer-giving, prayer-hearing, and prayer-answering God for both natural and spiritual blessings, for in God alone do we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). And the route to fulfillment of right desires demands prayer. As a rule, it is upon prayer (not because of prayer) that God gives His grace and Spirit to those who ask Him.
One of the best definitions of prayer is that of John Bunyan: “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.” This definition highlights for us a number of things that are part of true prayer.
Sincerity and affection to God. Prayer must be sincere because, as Bunyan says, “sincerity carries the soul in all simplicity to open its heart to God, and to tell him the case plainly, without equivocation; to condemn itself plainly, without dissembling; to cry to God heartily, without complimenting.”
Prayer must be affectionate. We must disclose our thoughts and feelings before God and pour out our hearts in sighs and groans. We must say with David: “All my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee” (Ps. 38:9).
Faith in Christ. Christ is the way through whom we have access to God; without Christ it is impossible that any petition would even reach the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. He says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). So we first must believe in Christ and know Him, then come to God in prayer through Him, trusting in Christ’s meritorious righteousness.
This is why we pray for the sake of or in the name of Jesus Christ. Our prayers and life contain no merits or foundational grounds with God in themselves; only Christ can meritoriously and foundationally claim the ear of God (Matt. 3:17; John 11:40–41). He is the great High Priest and Intercessor of His church before the Father (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 4:14).
Assistance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God also touches the wellspring of our affections, provoking and stirring up prayer within us. He touches the strings of the believer’s heart and creates a sort of music within the heart. The consequence is that we cannot but pour out our desires to God in a manner consistent with Scripture.
Romans 8:26 teaches us that in true prayer the Holy Spirit groans within us groanings which cannot be uttered—they are beyond expression. Without the Spirit, our prayers are mere empty words; but with Him, prayer becomes the effectual unbosoming of our hearts to God.
Respect for the boundaries of Scripture. Bunyan says, “Prayer is only true when it is within the compass of God’s Word; it is blasphemy, or at best vain babbling, when the petition is unrelated to the Book.” You know that your prayer is not true when you can’t affirm that it is scriptural. Using Scripture as our guide keeps us from much false prayer.
Submission to the will of God. True prayer is submissive, from the heart, to God. It says, “Thy will be done.” In true prayer, Bunyan says, “the people of the Lord in all humility lay themselves and their prayers, and all that they have, at the foot of their God, to be disposed of by him as he in his heavenly wisdom sees best.”
This is what we see pictured for us in the biblical postures that are used in prayer: kneeling, showing reverence (2 Chron. 6:13); standing with a bowed head, showing humility (Luke 18:13); prostration, showing surrender (Luke 5:8, 12); and bowing, showing submission (Gen. 24:26). The attitude of reverence overlaps into a reverential posture.
May each of us seek the Lord daily, asking: “Lord, teach us to pray.”
More than a thousand people—nearly all home-schoolers—attended the “Family Relationships and Parenting Conference” held at the Ocean shores Conventions Center in Ocean Shores, Washington. The conference was presented by Christian Heritage Home Educators of Washington, and was well-organized by Danny Craig (25 years old), together with his father and brothers. I gave five addresses: How to Bring Your Children to Christ; The Church and Healthy Family Relationships; Nurturing Intimate Communication with Your Spouse; Puritan Insights for Husbands and Wives; How the Gospel Changes Relationships. I also participated on a panel on Advice for Husbands and Fathers.
Other major speakers included Gregg Harris, Craig Houston, and Lou Priolo. I enjoyed getting to meet and know them. Gregg Harris, well-known for his leadership role in the homeschooling movement over the past twenty-five years, is the father of Joshua Harris (author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl, Not Even a Hint, etc.) and Alex and Brett Harris (co-authors of Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations). Craig Houston is a faithful pastor and father of twelve who is a joy to be with. We promised to try to find time to get to know each other better.
I also enjoyed my time with Gerry and Eileen Epp and their children, including mealtimes and talking around an evening campfire they made on the ocean beach with the waves rolling in behind us in the darkness. Joining us around the campfire were two additional families from Canada: Brian and Ann-Marie DenHertog, and Marvin and Wilhelmina from Alberta. Together the three families had more than twenty children with them!
Isaac Epp was particularly helpful in chauffeuring me from the airport and assisted me at the book table together with his brother Joseph. We were able to sell all eighteen boxes of books that we had sent out to the conference, including scores of books written for children. It was also great to meet some of the other large families that were present—many having from seven to twelve (even one with fourteen) children. Many of those children’s maturity level—both intellectually and spiritually—appears to be quite astonishing.
On Sunday morning I preached for Carl DeyArmin at Shiloh Bible Camp on “The Only Way to Live and Die” (Phil. 1:21). We went to the camp because Pastor DeyArmin’s church only holds about seventy people. He has built the church up from 20 people to 40 people in three years. That is really a major achievement in this rather deserted area. The church belongs to a group of churches being supported by Village Missions, which seeks to place pastors in rural settings to serve dying churches. The goal is to preserve and build of these churches across rural North America.
On Monday, I flew to Detroit, landing an hour before Mary joined me from Grand Rapids. Several hours later we were winging our way to Brazil on a long overnight flight to Sao Paulo. I am scheduled to speak about ten times in the next seven days—mostly on the Holy Spirit and His saving work.
My trip to New England got off to a rough start. The flight coming in from Chicago to Grand Rapids arrived three hours late because the flight crew had worked too many hours to continue flying. So, while they were resting in Chicago, I realized that I would miss my connection in Newark, New Jersey, so I managed to get rerouted through Laguardia, New York. The plane from Chicago finally arrived in Grand Rapids three hours late, however, which meant I would now miss my flight from Laguardia to Manchester, New Hampshire as well. Since there were no more flights into Manchester that day and I had to preach in the evening, United re-booked me again—this time putting me on a flight to Boston. Happily, Pastor Dave McClelland of the Grace Free Presbyterian Church of Litchfield, New Hampshire, was willing to drive all the way to Boston to pick me up. I landed in Boston at 4:15 p.m. (five hours late), and we then battled traffic getting out of Boston.
On the way, Dave told me the fascinating story of how he went through the motions of appearing fairly religious as he grew up since he didn’t want to displease his father who was a quiet, faithful pastor. He then began to date an attractive girl named Gina who had no religion at all. She had a troubled past, but he was attracted to her looks and honesty. For a while he tried to hide this relationship from his parents—also because of her worldly appearance (she had sixteen earrings in her ears!), but finally could hold out no longer. To his surprise, his father said he should bring her to church. To his astonishment, she was impressed, asked numerous questions, and was eventually converted. Her worldliness dissipated and she then became a positive influence on him, God using her in his own conversion! They now have a wonderful relationship as husband and wife.
We arrived at the Grace FP church ten minutes before the evening service was to begin. I could have flown more quickly to Europe than to New Hampshire, but was glad to arrive in time for the service, and felt helped in delivering the message.
The following morning I breakfasted with Dave, one of his elders, and a fellow FP pastor, David Dicanio, who is serving as a missionary in Liberia but had to leave his post temporarily due to the Ebola crisis. We had a fascinating conversation about the issue of “separation” from erring brethren and shared with each other how the Lord converted us.
Dave then drove me to Maine. The time flew; again, we had great fellowship on the way. He has become a good friend and it was great to get to know him better. By God’s grace, he has built up this FP church in New Hampshire—a state that is hostile or at best indifferent to the Reformed faith—to become a flock of 250 people, most of whom are quite young and have been drawn to faith from out of the world.
Pastor Leonard Gulstrom drove halfway from his church in Limington, Maine to meet Dave and me for lunch. To my surprise, they did not know each other despite the fewness of sound Reformed ministers in New England. After lunch, Leonard—a friendly, humble, steady brother who has run an effective ministry in Maine for eleven years—drove me to his beautiful country home, where I homesteaded for the next three days. I enjoyed my fellowship with him and his hospitable wife, Sonya, and their son Jason (the only one of seven children still at home) immensely. The Gulstrom parsonage is only two blocks from their quaint country church—Limington Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which is commemorating its 225th anniversary. For most of those years it was a Congregational church, but under Leonard’s leadership became an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 2011, and is growing steadily. The church now has four elders and four deacons.
Over the weekend, I delivered five messages on “The Faithfulness of God” in commemoration of the church’s anniversary. I also presented the work of Puritan Reformed Seminary at a Sunday school hour. Visitors came from near and far. A great friend and co-author, Pastor James La Belle, together with six of his children, and one of his elders with two of his children, drove up four hours from Cape Cod, Massachusetts early on Saturday to spend most of the day with us. I was able to treat them to a meal prior to their return. On Saturday evening, I had an engaging discussion at the Gulstrom home with three elders and a deacon from Limington’s OP church. Though the attendees never rose much above one hundred throughout the weekend, fellowship was great, the people were hungry and appreciative, and the books I had brought were nearly all sold already by Saturday.
I was particularly touched by some of the children in the congregation. Seven-year-old Veronica was deeply touched when I gave her one of my children’s books and gave me a thank you card on Sunday evening for it, telling me that she had already read the first chapters. “They were good,” she said in a mature, confident voice. Then there was a three-year-old boy who walked up to me and said sincerely and articulately on Sunday, “Sir, thank you so much for coming to preach for us this weekend.”