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Book Review - The Mystery of Bethlehem

Book Review - The Mystery of Bethlehem

The following review was written by Joshua Vink on the book The Mystery of Bethlehem by Herman Hoeksema (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing, 1986). This review was originally published in the December 2023 issue of The Grandville Gleaner.

A multitude of books, articles, and sermons have been written on the topic, but the story of Christmas can never be exhausted. Where would we be without the birth of our Lord and Savior? Herman Hoeksema writes in the hope of kindling anew that interest in the heart of the reader.

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Coming soon! Preparing for Dating and Marriage: A 31-Day Family Devotional

Coming soon! Preparing for Dating and Marriage: A 31-Day Family Devotional

Coming mid-August! Preparing for Dating and Marriage: A 31-Day Family Devotional by new author, Rev. Cory Griess ÔĽŅ Cory Griess is a pastor in the Protestant Reformed Churches of America. He and his wife, Lael, live in Grand Rapids, MI where he currently pastors the First Protestant Reformed Church. The Lord has given him and his wife six children, all born in Northwest Iowa where he pastored for nine years before moving to Michigan in 2018. ¬† Each meditation in this...

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Bible Memorization

Why do we discipline ourselves in the memorization of scripture? First, we commit the Bible to memory because the Bible tells us to do this. Josh. 1:7, 8, Ps. 1:1, 2, and Col. 3:16 all express the importance of soaking in the Word of God and retaining it. Look up those passages. Second, we memorize the Word of God because it is just that:¬†God‚Äôs Word. The scriptures are¬†inspired‚ÄĒGod-breathed (II Tim. 3:16); knowing that scripture is the Word of God, will we not want to fix it in our mind and heart? This Word of God is his revelation to us, his covenant friends. As his covenant friends, we desire to hear and¬†remember¬†what he says. Think of it this way: the Bible is Christ‚Äôs love letter to his church; we read and soak in this love letter.

Allow me to propose a five-step approach toward memorization of the Bible. This list might prove helpful for children in school and catechism, but also might be useful for any of us who seek to hide God’s Word in our heart.

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Family Devotions

It is on good biblical grounds that fathers, mothers, and children take time each day to worship as family. Family worship includes thorough instruction of children, instruction which Israel was called to give (Deut. 11:18-20). Surely, what stands at the center of the happy, God-fearing home in Psalm 128 is the worship of Jehovah‚ÄĒas a¬†family. Joshua declared that he and his¬†house¬†would serve Jehovah (Josh. 24:15). Besides passages like these, there is the doctrine of the covenant: the relationship of friendship God establishes with His elect people in Jesus Christ. In family worship, we experience fellowship with¬†God, give expression to¬†family¬†fellowship in the truth, and take seriously the command to¬†instruct¬†our covenant seed. ¬†

The importance of family devotions cannot be overstated. 

Here are some guidelines for these family devotions.

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Devotions in Marriage

A suffering marriage can be explained by many issues: lack of communication, squabbling over finances, a severe trial that has driven a wedge between the spouses, sharp personality differences, disagreement over childrearing, etc. But I wonder if most marriage problems, if not all, grow from one basic root: prayerlessness. Satan is working feverishly hard to break up marriages‚ÄĒis that not evident today? The devil knows well how quickly a marriage without prayer and scripture spirals downward.

Do you value your marriage? Search the scriptures with your spouse. Do you desire a strong relationship? Pray with your spouse. This is one of the disciplines of the Christian life.

Here are some practical guidelines for approaching this worship within marriage.

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Praying in Personal Devotions

I provide below some guidelines, this time for individual prayer. The list is not exhaustive. I encourage the reader to add more guidelines.

1. find a good place

2. choose the right time

3. color your prayers with God's Word

4. address personal needs

5. pray from the heart

Such a prayer life requires discipline. Such worship of God requires¬†commitment and resolve. Consistent, heartfelt prayer is¬†hard work,¬†and not without its challenges, as any child of God will testify. But God will give grace.¬†Pray¬†for that grace‚ÄĒthe grace to pray! Pray, for prayer is ‚Äúthe chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us; and also, because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them‚ÄĚ (Lord‚Äôs Day 45, A. 116).

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Reading the Bible in Personal Devotions

I suspect that we all know the need for these private devotions, and the need to read the Bible by ourselves. But perhaps we do not always know how to go about this reading of scripture. And if we do not know how, we become discouraged before we even start. The following is some practical advice on how to read and study the Bible in our private worship.

1. study solitarily

2. think biblically

3. approach worshipfully

4. read meditatively

5. advance systematically

6. move slowly

7. remember frequently

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Challenges

We want to notice the internal and external challenges to this pursuit of godliness, and thus the need to persevere in these spiritual disciplines. I present here three such challenges (laziness, busyness, and the entertainment and technology craze); I am sure you can add to the list...

The calling of the Word of God is clear: as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, as one running the race of this life,¬†persevere. Be disciplined, committed, and consistent in the study of the scriptures and in prayer. This is necessary in the life of the child of God‚ÄĒthis concerns our spiritual health and strength! We must be strong to serve our God, strong to fight against sin, and strong to live faithfully in the calling that God has given to each of us.

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Introduction

As adopted sons and daughters of God, we desire to grow in spiritual discipline. If discipline is commitment, resolve, resolution, or purpose, then spiritual discipline is the commitment and resolve to serve God in his kingdom. The spiritual disciplines of the Christian life are activities that arise out of this commitment and purpose, and thus activities that aim at the glory of God and growth in holiness. These activities are many and varied, including, but certainly not limited to, public worship, family devotions, private devotions, and Bible memorization. All the activities can be summed up with one word: worship.  Read More
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