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...Keep Reading
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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 essence of the book in a weekend of lectures but I was pleased with what I had come up with....
It’s striking that one important preparation for being a compelling witness to the world is gratitude. In Philippians 2, Paul connects putting away our grumbling with becoming a compelling, shining light of the Gospel to the world. Christians are contented people who joyfully thank God in all circumstances and, because of this, present a striking contrast against the landscape of a grumbling world....
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 biblical. (The blinding power of culture is clearly seen historically, for instance, in the church’s complicity with slavery and, later, the Jim Crowe laws.) So my question is this: in what ways might our West Michigan, predominantly Dutch, middle-to-upper class, Reformed, married, white culture impact our ministry? In what ways might our “West Michigan culture” hinder a truly “gospel culture”? ...
In case you missed it, this previous Sunday we hosted four different outreach ministries during our Sunday School presentation. The vision driving this is simple -- a desire to connect Harvest members to outreach efforts that are already happening in our community and beyond. Paul explains to the Ephesians in chapter 4, verses 5-6, that there is only one Lord, and this one Lord has gifted and called Word ministers to equip saints for a variety of different forms of ministry. You can view the recording below to see the different ways you can support and get connected with Harvest brothers and sisters who are already engaged in different important areas of outreach....
The work of making disciples of Jesus is not easy. Sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are not Christian is hard for many reasons. We aren’t sure what to say, how to say it, or when to say it. We are afraid of what speaking up will do to relationships we care about. The world despises what we have to say and Satan will do all that he can to thwart and discourage speaking of Christ with others. Sometimes we’re lazy, often we’re distracted, and, at the end of the day, we must admit that at times our love for God and others is too weak. ...
What kind of heart does God revive? “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite’’” (Isaiah 57:15)....
After making a six-hour road trip down to Louisville, Kentucky, here is a sampling of the topics we heard: Kevin DeYoung urged and reminded us to cling to the reality that we are justified by faith, H.B. Charles called us to never forget to marvel at the beauty of our salvation, Greg Gilbert explained the reality that pride and division dies at the foot of 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. ...
The first pitch of the regular season tells me that spring, with sunshine and warmer weather, is on the way… yes, even for Michiganders! I look forward to the sounds of the game—the crack of the ball hitting the bat, the hecklers in the stands, the roar of the crowd, the sound of cleats in the dirt. ...
How can I find comfort in the doctrine of predestination? By predestination we mean the teaching which says that before time began God chose some to be saved and he passed over others unto eternal condemnation. But here’s what we need to understand. The Bible tells us that we are sinners by birth and by choice. What all of us deserve as willful rebels against God is eternal condemnation... If we expect that God must save all, then salvation is not the outpouring of God’s mercy and grace, but the duty God was compelled to render. In other words, if we object to God predestining some but not all, we are ultimately resisting God’s merciful character. We can delight in predestination as it helps us to see salvation as being drenched in God’s mercy. ...
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 to this – but sadly, we aren’t. ...
In a recent conversation, we got to talking about reasons people in our churches have mentioned it’s hard to speak about Christ with people who don’t yet know him. People have a number of reasons why they hesitate to share the gospel. I don’t want you to have the impression that I don’t flounder and fail in these areas myself as well. I’ve felt these obstacles and not testified enough about Jesus because of some of these reasons. Here is a look at the most often shared obstacles....
“How do I act right when my spouse acts wrong?” That’s a great question! Let me recommend one resource that works out biblically-wise answers in ways that are practical and true to life: "How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong" by Biblical counselor Leslie Vernick. In what follows, I’ve tried to summarize what Vernick says in 200 pages. If you find yourself reacting sinfully to being sinned against by your spouse, or if you know someone who does, let me encourage you to read and apply this book in your life and ministry. Of course, if you would like to sit down together and talk about these sorts of struggles, please let me know; I would be glad to help you!...
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 midst of troubling times and even trembling mountains (Ps 46:3) is to lean on the rock of God’s faithfulness and stand on the unshakeable foundation of His promises. ...
O God of the Nations, You are the all-powerful God, who appoints our times... Yet knowing that you are compassionate and merciful, and that you have instructed us to lift up prayers for all who are in high position that we might live peaceful and quiet lives, we pray for Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus and their governing authorities....
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 way”. ...
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...Keep Reading
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. ...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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. ...Keep Reading
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....Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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. ...Keep Reading
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....Keep Reading
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)....Keep Reading
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’.” ...Keep Reading
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....Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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” ...Keep Reading
Early June mornings on the farm were absolutely intoxicating. They were saturated with good things ...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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. ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs recently. In a world full of spin, half-truths, propaganda, and blatant lies ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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.”...Keep Reading
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! ...Keep Reading
Pastor Dale shares his top four books on the difficult subject of critical theory....Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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)....Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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?...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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!)...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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....Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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. ...Keep Reading
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?...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
God, in His providence, has kept us from public worship for a time ...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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....Keep Reading
In other words, Job observed in his friends, a common human trait ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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...Keep Reading
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! ...Keep Reading
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 ...Keep Reading
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.”...Keep Reading