From the Pastors' Desks

Posts by Dale Van Dyke

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When Plans Fail

It was a great plan. As you know, I was scheduled to speak this past weekend, near Yosemite, for the Family Camp of the Presbytery of Northern California. I spoke there about 10 years ago and greatly enjoyed the people there and I was really looking forward to being with them again. The plan was to speak on the book of Job. It was hard work trying to capture the...

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West Michigan Culture: A User’s Guide

A few weeks ago, in my sermon on Ephesians 5:1-2, I spent a little time talking about culture – specifically how Dutch West Michigan culture is defined by lots of good things – like family and apple pie, but also by some not-so-good-things, like a lack of humility and love. Cultures come with blind spots because we assume that “the-way-we-do-life” is normative and...

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Why the Cross?

There will be messages preached all over the country this week using the death of Christ to affirm the value of the listener. Those messages will fundamentally misrepresent the Scripture and miss the point of the cross. Good Friday and Easter did not happen to magnify the worth of fallen man. ...

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Speaking Truth in a Disinformation World

We all assume that we are pretty good at discerning truth from error – but the age of the internet has made fools of us all. The fact is the internet is better at lying than we are at discerning. Algorithms are able to determine the stories we want to hear and then craft false narratives we happily consume and pass along. You would hope that Christians would be immune t...

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Antidote to Fear

I’d like to be that guy - the one who is not afraid of bad news. The one whose heart is firm and steady. How do you get to be a person like that?? Well, it’s right there in the text – “his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord". That’s it. That’s the gold. The biblical antidote to fear is “trusting in the Lord”. The way to have a “firm heart” in the m...

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Faith in Times of Fear

I read an article last week by Rick Perhai, an American missionary who had decided to remain in Ukraine despite the danger of an imminent Russian invasion. What I found particularly compelling was the idea that, when life gets scary, God’s people have a refuge the world knows nothing of – and which we ourselves only discover, in truth, when “all around our soul gives...

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Abortion

Do you know what the leading cause of death is in the world? Last year it accounted for 42.5 million deaths. That’s more than the deaths caused by heart disease (18M.), cancer (9.5M.), and respiratory diseases (4M.) combined. Care to guess what it is? Abortion. ...

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To Fear or to Fear Not

I heard from several people that the sermon this past Sunday night was a great blessing to them. It seems to have touched a nerve. The name of that nerve is “fear”. We all have it. We would all like to be rid of it. So, when God says “Fear not” and gives us glorious reasons for comfort and courage, it matters....

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The Most Precious Gift of Christmas

What is the best gift you received this Christmas? Well, it might surprise you – but I already know! The best Christmas gift any mortal man could ever receive is the one we’ve obtained in “Immanuel”, which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). “God with us” is precisely what we lost in the fall. Adam’s sin forced him, and all his descendants, from th...

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The Abolition of Death

I’ve had a new experience this past month. A first for me. Three men I know, all close to my age, passed away unexpectedly – all within three weeks. They were all believers in Christ. They each left behind heartbroken yet hopeful family and loved ones. Their life in this world is done. And, in some ways, it feels unfinished. ...

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A Thanksgiving Confession

Well, the holidays are here again! Thanksgiving Day kicks it all off with the familiar pattern of too much food, catching up with family, and watching the Lions lose another football game. All in all, a good day....

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Two Novels

My reading diet has not been healthy. Too much meat, not enough dessert. Too much reading for knowledge and not enough reading for the sheer joy of well-crafted sentences and a compelling story. This past month I was able to read two such books (they are hard to find)....

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A Word of Encouragement

One of the very best things in life - like good wine, coffee on a cold morning and fall colors – is a word of encouragement. In her song, “Legacy”, Nichole Nordeman begins with the line, “I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me.” And further on, “We all need ‘atta boy’, or ‘atta girl’.” ...

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Islands in Fellowship

Earlier this month, Joanne and I had the pleasure of visiting a sister OPC denomination. I always enjoy visiting a church where I am not preaching and not known. It frees me to just “be a visitor” and observe a church from that perspective....

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School Choice

When I was growing up, no one in my world asked this question. There was one and only one option for anyone who attended a conservative Dutch Reformed church (unless they were RCA). The Christian school was seen as an essential, non-negotiable third leg of the “three-legged stool” of a committed Christian community. (The other two “legs” were the home and the chur...

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Old Friends

One of the best benefits of getting older is the joy of having “old friends”. I often smile when I hear an earnest 19-year-old give a wedding toast to her friend whom she’s known “almost her whole life” ...

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Undeserved Beauty

Early June mornings on the farm were absolutely intoxicating. They were saturated with good things ...

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Are you a Pentecostal?

This Sunday we will be celebrating Pentecost. It is a historic event we all too easily overlook – and yet it is the birthday of the New Testament church! Not only that, but the presence of the Holy Spirit is also the defining mark of a New Testament Christian. If you are a true Christian, then you are a “Pentecostal” in the truest sense of the word - the Spirit of th...

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A Snow Day of the Soul

So, I’m watching it snow ...

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Facing Conflict

A few weeks ago, I had one of those “The Lord spoke to me” experiences. I know, it sounds charismatic, but the experience was thoroughly biblical. For the past several months I’ve had a growing sense of anxiety and, yes, even fear. There is no denying that our culture is becoming increasingly aggressive in its hatred of Christ. A new religion called social ju...

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Purposeful Sovereignty

I’ve just begun reading a terrific new book by John Piper - Providence. I’ve only read the intro and the first chapter so far, but I’m already sensing this book might become a very important book for me. It’s not that the concept of divine providence is new to me. Not at all. I’ve heard of it all my life. I’ve read good books on it (Trusting God by Jerry Bridge...

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New Growth - Pastor of Youth and Evangelism

Spring is a wonderful time of change, a time of growth - new things, new life. And as it is in the natural world, so it is in the church. I’m excited to let you know about the Session’s decision to move forward with the search for an Associate Pastor of Youth and Evangelism. ...

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The Blessing of Generational Faith

This past Sunday night I had another wonderful reminder of why Christian parenting matters. My brothers and sisters (and spouses) got together at Mom’s place, after the evening service, to sing and pray. The news of Randy’s cancer has hit us hard. We’ve been through hard things before ...

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Sexual Wisdom

I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs recently. In a world full of spin, half-truths, propaganda, and blatant lies ...

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To Pentecostalism and Back

As many of you know, I had a brief foray into the Pentecostal world. I was 22, a fresh graduate from Dordt College, and I visited First Assembly of God, on 44th street in Wyoming, sporadically for about 1 ½ years. I also attended a fascinating (strongly charismatic) Friday night Bible study for about a year. There were about 40 of us, mostly young people, all very hungry ...

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A Culture of Evangelism

I have to say ...

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Our Comfort Amid Chaos

Well, we have certainly been blessed to live in interesting times. The news this past week has been filled with things that are concerning: riots in the Capitol building; an election in Georgia giving the Democratic Party control in the House and Senate. Many Christians are experiencing anxiety and fear. The life they have known as citizens of the United States feels threa...

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The Year 2020

I woke up somewhere in the middle of the night last night with this hymn playing in my mind. “Long the clouds of evil lower; bless us now with gladsome days Let thy children see Thy power, let their children learn Thy praise On us let the grace and beauty of the Lord our God remain Strengthen us for noble duty that our work be not in vain.”...

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A Divine Invasion of Life

One of my favorite “Christmas texts” isn’t found in the gospels or the prophets, but in Hebrews 2:14-15. It’s a deep summary of the purpose and power of the incarnation. It’s a particularly relevant reminder this year. In a world gripped by the fear of death, we celebrate Christmas as a Divine Invasion of life! ...

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Pastor Dale's Top 4 Books on Critical Theory

Pastor Dale shares his top four books on the difficult subject of critical theory....

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Faith and Finances

One of the wonderful things about the way the Bible talks about money is that it never treats it as a budget issue; it’s always a heart and faith issue. Whenever the authors of Scripture address the topic it is clear that they are not seeking resources but righteousness. In the same vein, I’d like to talk about finances not in the interest of meeting budget, but in the...

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The Blessings of Elders

I recently read an article on the blessings of good elders for a church. It inspired me to write my own. Harvest has been blessed with very good elders. What’s the benefit for the body? What do we gain with good elders? Here’s a few things that come to mind, (I’m sure you can think of others)....

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A Better Country

Well, it was bound to happen ...

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We Have a Better Story

As I was taking my walk in the park this gorgeous morning, I was reflecting on the influence reading has had in my life. I remember being transfixed by the high drama of Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch as Mrs. Vander Wall read to us first graders. LOVED that story! I was instantly hooked on Zane Grey novels as a 10-year-old when I stumbled across Union Pacific. I wept like...

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All is Ours in Jesus

This past Sunday evening I on Psalm 60. I was surprised to be reminded of what a great Psalm that is; how incredibly encouraging a message it brings ...

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God's Design for Discipleship

There are three things we must have clearly in our minds when it comes to discipling our children. The Value of our Children. We believe, by conviction, that our children are God’s children ...

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True Faith, Sacrificial Love, and Foster Parenting

The Bible continually encourages us to live our few days with eternity in view, to build a life that has weight and worth in the eyes of holy angels and our Lord Jesus (1 Tim 5:21). What is at the heart of such a life? What is the essential ingredient that creates something of noble value and beauty in the eyes of God?...

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Cemeteries

Cemeteries are good for the soul. As we walked through the quiet forest of gravestones, the brevity of life, the certainty of death, and the hope of resurrection were as real as the earth and as true as the quiet beauty surrounding us. Each stone represents a life, just like mine - a life filled with family and summer mornings and work and love and sin. And every stone mar...

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Joy in Creation

Well, this is an absolutely Pure-Michigan postcard August morning. Simply can’t be better. The beauty of a quiet summer morning is a precious gift from the Lord. I took my walk pre-sunrise this morning. It’s wonderful to watch the natural world waking up. I caught three does still in bed (the fawns, of course, were already up and at ‘em!)...

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Anxiety, Death, and Heaven

August anxiety is only a few days away. I’ve experienced this for as long as I can remember but have only recently identified it. It’s the anxiety that comes from the sense that summer is slipping by, far too quickly. I feel the need to be ‘out there’ taking in as much sunshine and summer smells as I possibly can. There are the aromas of fresh hay and verdant woods...

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Bad News & Christ's Kingdom

I don’t know about you, but reading and watching the news these past few months has tempted me to despair. It is unrelenting bad news! No wonder the rest of the world feels like they are watching America implode....

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Anxiety

One of the things COVID-19 has spawned is a wave of strong, differing opinions. It is rich soil for division. So what does Paul say? “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:3 ...

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Wealth

I have to confess that I had totally forgotten how wealthy I am. In these days of things-not-being-the-way-that-I-want, it is easy for me to think about what I lack and what I think I need, and I have to confess, I forgot how fabulously wealthy I am. Paul reminded me in the first chapter of his letter to the saints in Ephesus. ...

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Sacrifice

So you thought patience was hard? How about sacrifice?? The word even sounds scary. It conjures up images of slaughtered animals and fire. It has very unappealing synonyms: detriment, disadvantage, cost, loss, forgo. No wonder I’ve never seen it used in a kitschy plaque hanging on a wall. It just doesn’t have the same ring as “Live, Laugh, Love”, does it?...

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Patience

Patience. That’s been my “word” for these past few months. If you know me at all, you know that patience isn’t one of my strong suits. I remember when I was just beginning ministry, I visited a wonderful, but frighteningly direct elderly lady named Anne McQueen. She looked at me over her cup of Earl Grey tea and dainty eyeglasses and said, in her Scottish brog...

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Patience in Tribulation

God, in His providence, has kept us from public worship for a time ...

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Blessings During Covid-19

One of the greatest personal blessings COVID-19 has brought into my life is a renewed acquaintance with the Apostle Paul. I owe this man a tremendous debt of gratitude! I am continually surprised, convicted, encouraged, etc., by the way he thinks about the Christian life. The two most prominent realities in his mind, the two things that mold and animate his theology of lif...

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Trials

Just as there are three basic rules to real estate, there are three basic rules to peace of mind in hard times: Perspective, perspective, perspective....

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Spiritual Health and Suffering

In other words, Job observed in his friends, a common human trait ...

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Squirrels and Robins

I was reading Romans 8 again this morning. What an incredible chapter! And, in this time of COVID-19, and everything we don’t like about it and fear because of it ...

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Rest & Quarantine

Well, our Governor has decided that we all need three more weeks of intense, uninterrupted, 24/7, non-stop, no-escape-possible, family time. OK. On a more serious and encouraging note ...

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Lost

So, I feel a little lost. How do you shepherd when you can’t be with your sheep? I remember feeling something like this a long time ago ...

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How do you “do” church when you can’t “do church”?

These are certainly interesting times, aren’t they? So much is changing, and so fast. I think we are all starting to feel the loss of fellowship and communal worship. When it comes to being the church, the things that formed the foundations of our spiritual life are suddenly …. different. All the truths remain, but in a new context, with new rules, less organizational ...

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Fear

Well, we certainly live in interesting times. The stock market is tumbling and major sports events are canceled for the foreseeable future as the ominous clouds of the coronavirus begin to fill our horizon. It is clear that people are afraid ...

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Tech, Teenagers, and The Confessions

The past few years I’ve become increasingly convinced that our young people not only need to know the outlines of classic systematic theology (The Doctrines of God, Man, Christ, Holy Spirit, Church, etc.), but they also need to know how to biblically discern the issues of our day. Our society is becoming increasingly aggressive in ‘catechizing’ young people in the ne...

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A Conversation About Sex

Sex is something we don’t talk about much, as the church, and that’s a mistake. In our sex-obsessed world, we need to be casting a robustly, biblical vision of sex or we will inevitably adopt the vision of our surrounding culture. Parents, our children desperately need us to be able to explain a truly biblical conception of sexuality for them. Take up and read! ...

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Resources & Recommendations

One of the things I love about Harvest folk is your enthusiasm for learning! I love hearing about all the small groups, Bible studies, men’s and women’s groups, book discussion groups, and day-to-day discussions about things that matter! It’s wonderful. In the interest of learning, I’d like to share some of my online resources where I commonly turn to in order ...

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God is Our Helper

I’m working on two terrific texts for this coming Sunday: Revelation 17 and Psalm 54. I’m looking forward to walking through them with you. Psalm 54 is rooted in David’s traumatizing experience of betrayal recorded in 1 Samuel 23. But the main thought of the text applies to every trial we face as the children of God: “God is my Helper.”...

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