Opportunity Cost

Here is a valedictorian’s address heard at a recent graduation that was a blessing to my own soul.

Dear friends, family, and my fellow graduates,

We’ve learned a lot over the past several years, haven’t we? Between our friends and professors and everyone else who has crossed our paths, we’ve received so much teaching. Some of it has been long forgotten, some will resurface at crucial points in the future, and some will stick with us for the rest of our lives.

It was two years ago that I was taught something that has stuck with me and has already made a huge difference in my life and I’d like to share it with you this morning. It was a dreary morning in economics class, about the time in the semester when the newness has worn off but the end is still out of sight. I pulled out my laptop and began taking notes about the tradeoffs people make in business and how we respond to incentives. And then I heard the definition of opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost is the amount of one thing you are willing to give up in order to obtain something else. For example, the cost of our Cornerstone tuition is not just the amount on the checks we send in, but it is also the amount of money we are not making at a full-time job while we’re in school. On the other hand, the opportunity cost of not going to school could be working a $10 an hour job for the rest of our lives instead of getting an education and making more in the future.

But there’s far more than dollars to the idea of opportunity cost. Each of our lives is a series of decisions in which we choose certain opportunities at the expense of others. We might need to choose whether we’re going to sleep in at the expense of our devotions, sit on social media when we have a chance to interact with real people, make and hoard plenty of money instead of sharing it with missions, or keep to ourselves when we have a chance to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God willing, we have a lifetime of opportunities spread out before us, chances to show the world Who Christ is and what mercy can do in a life and why the gospel is crucial. You might have said the sinner’s prayer when you were 7 but are you taking the opportunities God Himself has put in your path? The opportunity cost of living for our own happiness alone is priceless because it could include the salvation of souls! Matthew 16:26 says, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

As you walk out of this building into the “real world,” what are you willing to give up for your own soul or for the soul next to you? Would you give up your life? Your career? Would you trade in comfortable living if that was the cost of a soul? Your phone? An hour of free time? What is the opportunity cost of a soul? I don’t know; I can’t give you a dollar value or a set amount of time or a certain level of uncomfortableness and say, “If you give this, a soul will be saved.” You won’t know until you reach heaven’s gate if God used opportunities you took to be used in His soul-saving work. Maybe the opportunity cost of a soul will be your life on the mission field, maybe it will be giving up a promotion in order to be home with your family, maybe it will be making time for a person who no one else makes time for, maybe it will be a smile and a word of encouragement.

But whatever the God-glorifying opportunity is, I hope that with God’s help, you take it. Thank you.

Living Monovision for Christ

Harold Popovich, member of the Grand Rapids Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church, died at the age of 86 on April 27, 2014. Harold and his surviving wife, Dr. Fran Popovich, spent 40 years of their 57 years of marriage on the mission field in Brazil serving Wycliffe Bible Translators in the translation of the Bible into the Maxakali language.

Harold Popovich grew up in Chicago in a Reformed church under the ministry of Dr. Hagar, a son of the Rev. Hagar who served the Netherlands Reformed Church (NRC). He came under severe conviction of sin when he was 13 years old and was brought into gospel liberty when he was 14. After he died, his wife found this note (just a few days ago) written by him among his papers:

At age 13 I suddenly became aware that I was not born again. Somehow I knew that God contributes all and that we contribute nothing. Furthermore, what we brag about, God considers filthy rags. This hit me hard. How could something so enjoyable be so bad? There must be a mistake. In my anger I entered a year of vicious battle with God. On the last day of the year, I finally surrendered and God filled me with His overwhelming presence. I was crucified with Christ and He lived in me.

Harold was teaching in a Chicago high school when he met Fran, who was in nurses’ training. One of the things that drew him to her, he later told her, was that she grew up in the NRC! They discovered that they were both called to serve the Lord on the mission field. They were married in June, 1956 and began training in linguistics under Wycliffe. Harold wrote later: “God called me to foreign missionary work. In the following years, He kept me from being tied up in other things until we went to Brazil and the Maxakali Indians.”

In forty years on the mission field, the Popovich’s raised four children, did nearly everything from scratch in every area of life (since they lived in primitive conditions), and with a linguist-colleague they analyzed Maxakali speech sounds (they determined that the language had five oral vowels, five nasal vowels, and fifteen consonants), and jointly translated the entire New Testament as well as parts of Genesis. (After they retired, they continued to help develop translation helps and finished the Maxakali-Portuguese and the Maxakali-English dictionaries.)

Fran testified to me of her husband, “For 57 years God allowed me to be married to a humble, kind man, with a generous servant heart, who loved the Lord and hated sin. From the time I first met him, he always had what I call ‘monovision’—that is, he wanted to live entirely for Christ, and the Indians in Brazil were at the heart of that vision. They absolutely loved my husband. By God’s grace, he always walked with integrity in my presence and in theirs. What a blessing to have had such a husband!”

Harold Popovich was always expecting Christ to return on the clouds. But now he has returned to His Savior who has called him home to the church triumphant, saying through his death, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

At his memorial service, I preached on Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That text just seemed like a fitting summary of this dear brother’s simple, humble, “monovisionistic” life. We sang that beautiful Psalter 31:3,4,7 and that amazing hymn (Harold’s favorite), “The Sands of Time Are Sinking.” May God make us jealous of those who have gone before us to be with Christ forever.

What about you, dear friend? Is your life a monovision of “Christ alone”?

Conference in Idaho (April 25–28)

Happy Church Family Geneva OPC

I flew on Friday morning to speak five times and do two Q&A’s for the New Geneva OPC Conference of the Family in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Idaho Falls is Mormon country. I sat next to Mormons on my last flight out and my first flight back and had long talks with both of them. I learned more about Mormonism than I ever knew before. It is remarkable how devoted these two Mormons were (one was an elder) to their set of beliefs that often blatantly contradict the Bible, but that really shouldn’t be surprising as both of them said they do not believe in the infallibility of Scripture. Both of them had an uncanny ability, too, at evading direct questions!

Rev. David and Debbie Bass

Rev. David and Debbie Bass

The local pastor, Rev. David Bass, spoke on Sunday schools and children in the worship services. I spoke on the biblical duties of husband and wives, the biblical duties of parents, how to bring your children to Christ, how to do family worship, and what my God-fearing parents taught me.

I very much enjoyed staying with my hosts, Peter and Bernie Nageta, as well as going to supper with the McNeeley family. I sat between their 9-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl who said some remarkably mature and cute things to me throughout the meal. I was also impressed with Roger and Andrea VanMiddendorp, and their nine children, ranging from 15 to 4. Large families who fear God and conscientiously bring up their children in a godly, scriptural way are so impressive.

Less than a hundred people attended the conference but they bought every single book of the five large boxes that RHB sent out, plus we had to back order many more. The average family bought close to $200 worth of books. These people are hungry. That is also evident from their church services, which often last two hours, notwithstanding that all the children remain in the service!

Update from Trichelle Beeke

Hi Everybody,

Just wanted to send a quick update to tell everyone how I am doing.

Radiation is going very well. It has gone by so fast. I drive myself every day and usually park by the close church that has free parking and then walk five minute to the hospital. It is a really nice time just to get out and walk to and from my appointments. I have some great babysitters who are willing to watch my younger two children for the hour and a half that it takes for me to drive and get my radiation.

The side effects of the radiation have been very few. I don’t feel overly tired and my skin is doing very well—just slightly pink.

So I will be finished with radiation on May 6. Then I will continue with my Herceptin treatments until December. I meet with my oncologist after my radiation is finished to discuss hormone therapy as well.

I (and the rest of my family) really appreciate all the prayers, cards, meals, and babysitting that we have received. The Lord has upheld us amazingly through this all and looking back, we feel as though the time has gone so fast.

Thank you all for thinking and praying for us.

Here is a little quote from our middle child Quinten who is obviously used to all this now. We drove to Abbotsford today with the kids and sister-in-law. We parked at the church to walk to the hospital because we were nice and early. We pulled into the church parking lot and Quinten says, “Which doctor office is this?”

Love,

Trichelle and family

Pray for Tornado Victims

Rob Tittle and Family

Rob Tittle and Family

I ask for your prayers for those suffering after the recent tornadoes. Please pray in particular for the Tittle family in Arkansas after the death of their father Rob and two daughters, and the destruction of their home. The Tittles were regular customers of Reformation Heritage Books, especially buying children’s books for their ministry. One of the surviving daughters posted on Facebook, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” May the Lord sustain their faith in this terrible trial, and provide for all their needs out of His riches in Christ Jesus.

Husbands Love Your Wives Webinar

Husbands-Love-Your-Wive---Landing-Page

What does it mean for a husband to be the head of the household? How should he lead his wife with authority, gentleness, correction, kindness, provision, and love? Join us for a six-part, online webinar, once a week beginning Tuesday, April 22. Scott Brown will lead discussions with Sam Waldron, Jeff Pollard, Derek Thomas, and myself to discuss the wise counsel for husbands found in the recently modernized book by the Puritan William Gouge, Building a Godly Home: A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage.

Arizona and Florida (April 1–12)

I flew out on Tuesday morning, April 1, to Phoenix, Arizona, to deliver three evening messages on the sufferings of Christ (Christ in Gethsemane, Christ at Gabbatha, and Christ on Golgotha) for the ARBCA General Assembly, hosted by Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert, Arizona. The evening meetings were open to the public and drew about 250 people, most of whom were pastors and their wives.

With Dr. James Renihan

With Dr. James Renihan

During the days this assembly, which includes about 75 Reformed Baptist churches, addressed a variety of issues related to missions work, received reports from the representative churches and various church plants, and discussed budgetary matters. David Campbell gave an address on Eric Liddell and James Renihan spoke on Symbolics, providing a summary of the London Baptist Confession of 1689.

Twelve boxes of books from Reformation Heritage Books didn’t arrive until the second day, but the ministers were such great book buyers that by the end of the following day, all but half a box of books were sold. The local church bought the balance.

With Rev. John Giarrizzo

With Rev. John Giarrizzo

I really enjoyed fellowshipping with many brethren here. A few of the men, such as Fred Malone, James Renihan, and two PRTS long-distance students, I had never had a chance to visit with before. It was also good to see John Giarrizzo (founding pastor of Grace Covenant), Sam Waldron (my former next-door neighbor), and other friends again.

ShoeshinerOn Friday, April 4, I flew from Phoenix to Orlando via Houston, where I had a surprise meeting in the airport with Cees VanBreugel, the brother who arranges my itineraries every other year in the Netherlands. He just happened to be on his way back from Nicaragua and landed in Houston. I also had an opportunity to evangelize a shoe-shiner, who gladly received one of my books. In Orlando, I met Mary and our daughter Lydia who had flown in from Michigan. We had a delightful overnight stay at the home of Jonathan and Alisa Bos, and then breakfasted the following morning with three professors who teach at R. C. Sproul’s Reformation Bible College, located in Sanford, Florida. The conversation was stimulating and helpful.

Marinus and Connie Staal

Marinus and Connie Staal

After breakfast, we drove to Bradenton, Florida, where we enjoyed the ocean and a male peacock showing off his plumage in an attempt to win one of three females. I then preached the following day two times for the Florida Reformed Fellowship in Bradenton to a group of twenty people. It was good to be there again—also to stay between the services with our Grand Rapids friends, Marinus and Connie Staal. (Marinus organizes the work for this group during the winter months.)

This week we are vacationing in Florida, enjoying a relaxing time. Besides enjoying my wife and daughter, and lots of walking, I have enjoyed catching up with the typesetters on editing the King James Version Study Bible, The Beauty and Glory of Christian Living (a book consisting of last year’s conference addresses), our denominational Yearbook, and a number of other smaller projects. I also caught up with grading student papers, which is always a great feeling! And I’ve even had time to prepare my sermon for the coming Sabbath and to dip into a few books I have long wanted to read. Mary, Lydia, and I hope to take a boat to Key West to spend the day there. We hope to fly home on Saturday, God willing.

South Carolina, New Jersey, and Airplane Evangelism

Speakers at GPTS Conference

Speakers at GPTS Conference

 

My apologies for not writing this sooner, but two weeks ago (March 11–13), this year’s helpful conference at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary was all about the deep yet practical and beautiful doctrine of God’s providence. Dr. James McGoldrick spoke on Calvin’s doctrine of vocation; Dr. Ben Shaw on the relationship of providence to the problem of evil; Dr. James Anderson on the origin of sin; Dr. Derek Thomas on “middle knowledge”; and Rev. Benjamin Miller on “a preacher’s journey through the mists of providence.” Dr. Joseph Pipa addressed the subjects of providence’s relation to fatalism and on the problem of blaming the devil in relation to providence. I spoke on the definition and beauty of providence and on the practical benefits of providence.

The 400 to 450 attendees eagerly drank in deep truths about God’s providence—it was a great group to speak to. Fellowship was great too with friends old and new. And book-buying was unusually robust. Steve Renkema and Chris Engelsma were there with me from Reformation Heritage Books and sold $16,000 worth of books. May God add His blessing to both topics and books.

On Thursday, March 13th, I scrambled getting from South Carolina to New Jersey because my plane was canceled; the airline rebooked me for the 14th, which means that I would have missed some important visits in New Jersey with friends of our seminary. A friend took me to the airport, and in God’s kind providence, I managed to get a very late night flight—then I rushed back to the conference site to give my last address. I mentioned in the address that when I heard my plane was canceled, my first thought was, “You have got to be kidding me!” And my second thought was, “And you are the guy who has to speak about God’s providence today?” I then added, “Who knows? Perhaps my plane had to be canceled so that I could board another in order to meet someone I have to evangelize.”

When I got to the airport, I found out that if I flew standby I might be able to arrive in New Jersey three hours earlier than the late flight to Newark by getting on a flight to the John F. Kennedy airport, and then taking a shuttle bus over to the Newark airport, where my brother was waiting for me. In God’s kind providence, I got the last seat on the plane—a seat next to a young man from the Netherlands. When he heard that I was a minister in the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Grand Rapids, he was very interested in talking. He said that he believed in the Bible but only went to church occasionally. With a smile he said, “I think you can have a very good relationship with God without having to go to church.”

I told him that I was glad he believed in the Bible, and then asked him, “So does that mean if I were to show you in the Bible where it says that we should not forsake attending church regularly, you would begin to go to church regularly because you believe in the Bible?”

When he heard about Hebrews 10:25, he backtracked quickly! “Truth be told,” he said, “I guess that I believe only parts of the Bible.”

Upon further questioning, he admitted that he believed in those parts of the Bible that he wanted to believe in and discarded the rest, and thought that that was what everyone should do! “So if I hear you correctly,” I said, “then everyone really can sort of be a god to themselves, picking and choosing what is truth from the Scriptures according to their own likes and dislikes?”

“Well, I never thought of it that way,” he said, “but I suppose that is what I believe.”

I spent the next half hour trying to convince him of the foolishness and futility of that belief, and that if there really is a God, He is worthy to be served wholeheartedly—not half-heartedly. After a while, he seemed to be quite convicted, and said that he would like to learn more about what I believe. He said he would gladly pay for some of my books that I promised to send him. Without my prodding, he promised that he would read them all and volunteered that he would write me back after reading them, letting me know his thoughts and questions. Pray that he will!

I managed to find the right shuttle bus for Newark at the JFK airport. There was only one open seat, so I soon found myself talking to a single, 27-year-old black woman who worked for a day care center. She loves children and caring for them. She claimed to be a Christian but only went to church three times a year, and was not reading her Bible faithfully. I ended up explaining the gospel to her, and she seemed to find it interesting and helpful. Though she offered no resistance to the gospel, it seemed to me that she was quite content with her present life, except that she wanted to be married. For the rest of the trip, we talked about what kind of man she should look for if she truly was to receive a God-fearing husband.

So my plane was canceled, but God gave me not one, but two people to evangelize!

I was glad to finally connect with my brother Jim in Newark. We had a wonderful time with our gracious hosts and spent the next two days visiting ten couples in northern New Jersey who are friends of the seminary before we were to fly home late Saturday afternoon. But on Saturday morning, I received an email message that my plane was canceled again and that I was re-booked for Sunday morning! Again, I was scrambling, but happily, my administrative assistant was able to get me a direct flight from Newark to home a few hours earlier than my original flight (there was only one seat left on that plane too!). Jim and I managed to shave a little time off all our visits and get to the airport in time for the earlier flight. By having a direct flight, I was able to get home four hours earlier than anticipated—a great help for preparing for the Sabbath! How good and kind Providence is!

Atlanta, Georgia (written by Mary Beeke)

Missions Conference, Midway Presbyterian Church

Missions Conference, Midway Presbyterian Church

My husband and I were invited to the annual World Missions Conference (March 21–23, 2014) of Midway Presbyterian Church near Atlanta. Pastor David Hall and his wife Ann are precious friends of ours. Their infectious friendliness to all sets the tone in the church. The other pastors, Marc Harrington, Joel Smit, and Ben Thomas, along with their wives make up a cohesive team that cares for the church in every way. Various missionaries from far and near, who are supported by the church, reported on their work.  We heard about local campus ministry, Bible translation in Africa, and evangelism in Central America and across five continents. The local presbytery also supports Reformation Hope in Haiti, under the direction of Jean Paul, a Haitian-born U.S. citizen. Progress has been made in church planting, training leaders in Reformed doctrine, education, and small business development. They hope to open a medical clinic this year.

With Ann Hall, Pastor Marc Harrington, and Pastor David Hall

With Ann Hall, Pastor Marc Harrington, and Pastor David Hall

My husband spoke four times: Evangelizing Today, Evangelizing the Covenant Seed, The Best Evangelist, and The Age of the Spirit and Revival. The highlight was the Sunday morning sermon about Jesus Christ, the best evangelist, the approachable Christ. Where would we be without a Savior who receives sinners and eats with them, who listens to our troubles, who touches unclean lepers, who searches for the one lost sheep, and who rejoices over one penitent sinner? Several listeners who are going through heavy trials shared how they were greatly encouraged to continue on in God’s strength because of our approachable Savior who cares so much.

Young Married Couples

With Young Married Couples

We also met with the young married couples for a Saturday brunch. My husband and I led an informal discussion on what we have learned from our experience and others’ about marriage and child-rearing. This and the whole conference was a very rewarding time. I am so privileged to have a husband who is so energetic and intent on sharing the gospel and the truths of Scripture in many places.

Update on Trichelle Beeke

Here is an update from my nephew about his wife, Trichelle, as she continues treatment for cancer.

Here is a short update about my dear wife.

Trichelle is recovering well from chemo. We have enjoyed some family time this past week. Tomorrow she has another Herceptin treatment which will continue every three weeks for the next nine months. Radiation treatments start next week, Monday, March 31, and will occur every day for twenty-five days.

Thanks again for the help, prayers, and support.

Dave Beeke