2021 Puritan Reformed Conference – Day 2

The PRTS Conference at our church in Grand Rapids was edifying yesterday

In the morning, Dr. Greg Salazar gave us a clear and earnest presentation of Christ’s active and passive obedience as essential for our salvation. Rev. Rob McCurley spoke profoundly and movingly on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the gospel from 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. In the afternoon, Dr. David Hall (picture #1) provided a more technical yet interesting address on the major gospel themes that were preached in the early sermons of the New Testament church, covering apostolic messages contained in Acts 2–5.

Following three breakout sessions by Dr. Josh Buice on “Gospel-inspired Gratitude,” Rev. McCurley on “Ceremonial Shadows and the Gospel,” and Dr. Jon Payne on “Law and Gospel,” I preached in the evening on “The Essence of the Gospel” from 1 Timothy 1:15-17. Afterwards, all eight speakers were involved in a helpful Q&A session chaired by Dr. Mark Kelderman (picture #2).

The conference will wrap up by noon today with the final addresses by Dr. Buice and Dr. Kelderman, commencing at 9:00 a.m. ET; please pray for God’s rich blessing also for the thousands of people who are listening via live-streaming:

https://www.facebook.com/hrcgrandrapids

2021 Puritan Reformed Conference – Day 1

Our Puritan Reformed Conference got off to a good start yesterday evening. Here is a picture of the opening (picture #1), and then of Dr. Stephen Myers stressing our profound sin and the gospel remedy of Christ in his address on “The Gospel Need” (picture #2) followed by Dr. Jon Payne speaking movingly on the eternal covenant of redemption (“The Gospel Planned”; picture #3), stressing the amazing love and grace of God. Afterward I had the serendipitous privilege of meeting one of our brand new PRTS students and his wife, Daniel and Irene, from Mexico (picture #4).

Join us in person or livestream: https://www.facebook.com/hrcgrandrapids/ this morning with Dr. Greg Salazar (9:00 a.m. ET) and Rev. Rob McCurley (11:00 a.m.) speaking in the morning, Dr. David Hall (2:00 p.m.) and break out sessions in the afternoon (3:30 p.m.). I will be speaking in the evening (7:00 p.m.), followed by a QA session with all the speakers.

2021 Annual Puritan Reformed Conference

I’m excited to announce that we’re only a few hours away now from the beginning of the 2021 Annual Puritan Reformed Conference—this one on the great and moving theme, “The Grace of the Gospel”!

Tonight, Dr. Stephen Myers, PhD professor at PRTS, will be our first speaker at 7:00 p.m. on “The Gospel Need,” followed by Dr. Jon Payne, pastor of Christ Church Presbyterian in Charleston SC, on, “The Gospel Planned.”

If you are able, please join us at the conference (Heritage Reformed Congregation, 540 Crescent NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan) or by livestreaming the event at our church’s website or Facebook page:

https://heritagereformedgr.org/sermon/english/livestream/
https://www.facebook.com/hrcgrandrapids

The conference will continue all day and evening on Friday, and will conclude by noon on Saturday. Rend the heavens, Lord, and come down (cf. Is. 64)!

Confession of Faith Class

Of the several hundred church, seminary, and committee meetings I am called upon to chair or attend in a given year, by far my favorite is when the annual confession of faith class meets with the pastors and elders to make confession before us and to share how the Lord has worked and is working in their lives. Last night was no exception. We were privileged to hear from close to 20 young people who will be making confession of faith before the church, God willing on September 5. What an evening it was—so encouraging, so Christ-centered, so obvious and clear that the Holy Spirit is at work among us! We also as pastors and elders share how the Lord converted us as well. At times there were tears of joy shed at God’s amazing grace. There was just one big empty place in our midst—Jordan Kamp, a recent high school graduate who died so suddenly about a month ago was in this class also. Pray with us for the mourning as well as for those making confession of faith that their lives will manifest, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!”

Grace Christian Academy

Our new Christian school (pre-K through grade 12), called Grace Christian Academy (GCA, beginning with 200 students), was dedicated to the Lord today. This morning I had the privilege of bringing an opening dedicatory devotion to the teachers (1st picture), speaking on Christ’s call to endurance, and this evening my colleague Dr. Kuivenhoven gave a helpful dedicatory message for the new school to nearly 700 parents, students, grandparents, and friends (2nd picture) on setting up an Ebenezer stone of acknowledgment for God’s help which applies to the past, the present, and the future. We covet your prayers.

The First DMin Class at PRTS

The first DMin class at PRTS being taught by Dr. Adriaan Neele

This is a big week for Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary—not only because of our annual conference from Thursday to Saturday—but also because we are having our first class in our Doctor of Ministry program—a DMin in Homiletics (that is, a degree that focuses on preaching for those who are already preachers). Above you can see a picture of this first DMin class being taught by Dr. Adriaan Neele. The picture below is of us with one of the new DMin students, Sungwon Jahng (a Korean pastor from Los Angeles) who came to Michigan early so that he could attend our church last Lord’s Day, so we invited him over for dinner and had a delightful time of fellowship. Our DMin degree in Homiletics was fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in June of this year. Please pray that God will bless this degree to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of preachers in coming years and decades, if the Lord tarries.

One of the new DMin students, Sungwon Jahng (a Korean pastor from Los Angeles)

We are humbled to report that PRTS now offers the full spectrum of theological degrees (MA, MDiv, ThM, DMin, and PhD), all of which are fully accredited. We’re grateful to reach this landmark shortly after having celebrated our 25th year anniversary. Your prayers for the seminary’s worldwide ministry are coveted!

Brazilian Zoom Lecture

This afternoon I had the privilege of lecturing to approximately 200 theological students attending the José Manoel da Conceição Presbyterian Seminary in São Paulo, Brazil over Zoom from my study.

The first hour I lectured on Reformed Experiential Preaching, and the second hour I responded to excellent questions about the lecture from the professors and students. It was a joy to be with these brethren.

I want to thank Rev. André Silvério who was the professor who invited me and moderated the session, Rev. Danilo Santos for his excellent translation, and Dr. Ageu Magalhaes who is president of the seminary. You can find the lecture and discussion at the link below (you can skip the first three or four minutes as we were getting set up then). Pray that God would add His blessing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C92G_rl_2u4&t=264s

Celebrating Our 32nd Anniversary

Over the weekend, my special Mary and I commemorated our 32nd anniversary. She told me if I posted something, that I should tone it down. So, what shall I say? I’ll honor her request and keep it succinct: I love my Queen with all my heart and—with the exception of spiritual life in the Triune God—she is the greatest and most beautiful gift God has ever given me. I am truly unworthy of her but my heart swells with gratitude for her, and I do hope and pray that we may share together many more fruitful Christ-centered years—and then eternity—yes, eternity praising Christ together for who He is and for His amazing grace!

P.S. Thanks so much, Mary, for who you are in Christ, by God’s grace—for packing our weeks, months, years, and decades with love, kindness, understanding, and joy. Thanks for your prayers and care, for your unflagging support and undying loyalty. Thanks for catching my vision and passion for local and worldwide ministry for the promotion of biblical, Reformed, Puritan, experiential Christianity. Thanks for putting up with my busyness and idiosyncrasies, without ever showing me anything but the deepest love. Thanks for supporting me through thick and thin, for being my sunshine in winter’s cold blasts, and for still wanting to hear me preach after 32 years. Thanks for supporting me in family worship, and for being a wonderful mother and grandmother. Thanks for talking, walking, and biking, and for being my best friend. (I’m sorry that I’ve kept this so short, but you told me to tone it down.)

The Shorter Writings of George Gillespie

In cooperation with Naphtali Press, Reformation Heritage Books has just printed the first of three volumes of “The Shorter Writings” (375 pages in a critical edition meticulously done by Chris Coldwell) of George Gillespie (1613-1648), the famous, young, and brilliant Westminster divine who contributed in significant ways to the writings and work of the famous Westminster Assembly in the 1640s. In addition to close to 100 pages on Gillespie’s life in prefatory material, this volume contains six significant treatises by Gillespie, of which “Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty” is itself well worth the price of this treasured volume. Highly recommended!

When Gillespie was on his deathbed at age 35 after only ten years of ministry, Samuel Rutherford wrote to him that he should look only to Jesus, and then added, “Christ in and by you hath done more than by twenty, yea, an hundred gray-haired and godly pastors. Believing is now your last task.” Pray with me that God would raise up many more gifted young men in our day, stalwart for biblical, Reformed, confessional, experiential, and practical truth.

https://www.heritagebooks.org/products/the-shorter-writings-of-george-gillespie-volume-1.html

Joel and Jonathan Edward and Parents

Today I got to meet our new and first Puerto Rico student, Joel (2nd from right), who arrived with his brother, Jonathan Edward (I’m not lying about the name—and I must confess that I’ve wanted to meet Jonathan Edwards ever since I was a teenager!), and his parents, Roberto and Irma. Robert is an OPC pastor in Puerto Rico. What a joy it was to visit with this dear family! Pray for Joel that he will flourish here in his studies.