It's here!

 

Endorsements:

"The book is an enjoyable and easy read....It reads like I imagine a conversation on these topics would go with a wise older brother who happened to be a pastor.”
Rev. Cory Griess, pastor of First PR Church in Grand Rapids, MI

“Dating Differently abounds with wisdom. The author knows his topic. Yet, the strength of the book lies not in its author, but in its basis of God’s Word governing every aspect of our life, including dating.”
Jim Regnerus, administrator of Trinity PR Christian High School in Hull, IA

“[A] virtue of the book is the practical approach.  The author successfully takes the biblical wisdom of Scripture and applies this to real life situations.”
Rev. Garry Eriks, pastor of Hudsonville PR Church in Hudsonville, MI

________________

160 pages
Softcover
Retail: $16.95 
Book Club: $14.41

NOTE: This book will NOT be sent automatically to book club members. You must order this book to receive it.

 Gold Star members will receive this title.

Comments

Arriving in one week!

 

"The book is an enjoyable and easy read....It reads like I imagine a conversation on these topics would go with a wise older brother who happened to be a pastor.”

Rev. Cory Griess, pastor of First PR Church in Grand Rapids, MI

 

“Dating Differently abounds with wisdom. The author knows his topic. Yet, the strength of the book lies not in its author, but in its basis of God’s Word governing every aspect of our life, including dating.”

Jim Regnerus, administrator of Trinity PR Christian High School in Hull, IA

 

“[A] virtue of the book is the practical approach.  The author successfully takes the biblical wisdom of Scripture and applies this to real life situations.”

Rev. Garry Eriks, pastor of Hudsonville PR Church in Hudsonville, MI

 

 

DATING DIFFERENTLY:

A Guide to Reformed Dating

by Joshua Engelsma

Coming this month

We’re bombarded with antichristian messages everywhere in life, and from casual hookups to casual sex, our culture’s messages on dating are no different.

But Christians don’t have to follow these norms. The Bible gives us a better way.

It’s a way of chastity and wisdom. A way that understands that marriage—the end goal of dating—is for life. The person you marry will shape who you become spiritually. And that person will also be the father or mother to the children God is pleased to give you some day.

Pastorally and accessibly, Joshua Engelsma answers the practical questions of Reformed, Christian dating based on the truth that we must date differently—with marriage as the goal and scripture as the guide.

 

Joshua Engelsma is a minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches of America. He lives in Doon, Iowa, with his wife, Courtney, and six children. He has served as pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church since 2014.
 

160 pages
Softcover
Retail: $16.95 
Book Club: $14.41

 

***This book will NOT be sent to all book club members. You must order this book to receive it.

Gold Star members will receive this title.

Comments

Announcing a new book for teens on Christian dating!

 

DATING DIFFERENTLY:

A Guide to Reformed Dating

by Joshua Engelsma

Coming October 2019!

We’re bombarded with antichristian messages everywhere in life, and from casual hookups to casual sex, our culture’s messages on dating are no different.

But Christians don’t have to follow these norms. The Bible gives us a better way.

It’s a way of chastity and wisdom. A way that understands that marriage—the end goal of dating—is for life. The person you marry will shape who you become spiritually. And that person will also be the father or mother to the children God is pleased to give you some day.

Pastorally and accessibly, Joshua Engelsma answers the practical questions of Reformed, Christian dating based on the truth that we must date differently—with marriage as the goal and scripture as the guide.

 

Joshua Engelsma is a minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches of America. He lives in Doon, Iowa, with his wife, Courtney, and six children. He has served as pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church since 2014.

 

160 pages
Softcover
Retail: $16.95 
Book Club: $14.41

***This book will NOT be sent to all book club members. You must order this book to receive it.

Gold Star members will receive this title.

Comments

Dating Differently chapter preview: Who's the One?

In many ways this chapter gets right to the heart of Christian dating. What I write here is devoted to helping answer the question, “Whom should I be dating? What do I look for in a boyfriend or girlfriend?” Once you’ve answered the questions raised in the previous chapter—Why do you want to date? Are you ready to date?—then you’re ready to ask yourself the next question: “Who’s the one?”


I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate the importance of this question and its answer. What makes marriage the most important decision you might ever make is that you are going to be living with that person for the rest of your life. You’d better be quite sure before you enter into the lifelong bond of marriage that you know exactly the kind of person you are marrying.

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March 1 Standard Bearer preview article

A man of character

For a young man to be what God calls him to be, he must be a man of high character.

The mention of character sounds strange to the modern ear. It makes us think of some long-forgotten, more formal era. The worldly man is not concerned with character, and the examples of men in the media today are the farthest thing from men of character.

This makes it all the more urgent that the Christian young man be a man of character. The character about which he is so concerned is a set of spiritual attributes graciously given him by God. Having received them from God, the man of God then carefully cultivates and diligently develops them in his life.

There is certainly more that could be said, but here I want to mention three aspects of a godly man’s character: sobriety, wisdom, and compassion.

Continue reading...

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Be strong

When the Bible speaks of the strength of youth, it does not have in mind merely muscles. After all, God “taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man” (Ps. 147:10, a verse oft repeated to a sports-crazed young man by a wise grandmother).

Rather, the word of God has in mind spiritual strength. This is evident from the rest of 1 John 2:14 when it says to young men, “…I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong….” What ought to characterize mature Christian men, and young men in particular, is that they are strong spiritually.  

—‘Be strong’ by Rev. Joshua Engelsma in the upcoming October 1, 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer.

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Eyes and Ears, Hands and Feet

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the communion of the saints? Often we think about things that other people have done for us. Sometimes you will hear a person say when they are sick or going through some trial that they have really experienced the communion of the saints through the care of other believers. And this is a good thing.

But when we think about the communion of the saints, we ought not think first of all about what others have done for us. We ought to think about how we are called to serve others.

This is the perspective of our Reformed confessions. When the Heidelberg Catechism describes what it means to confess “the communion of saints,” it says, “that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members.” Article 28 of the Belgic Confession speaks similarly: “…and as mutual members of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given them.”

As children of God, we are united both to Christ and to the other members of his church. But our communion with each other does not mean that we are all identical. In our unity there is much diversity. There are differences between male and female, old and young, rich and poor, large and small, black and white. And there are also different God-given gifts and abilities, different stations and callings in the church.

One of the places where this truth is most clearly taught is in 1 Cor. 12. The inspired apostle compares the church to the human body. We have one body, but there are many different parts that make up this body: the eye, the ear, the hand, the foot, and so on. Each one of these different parts is necessary to make up a complete body.

The same thing is true of the church. The church is one body united to her Head, Jesus Christ, but the church is made up of many different members with different gifts and different places in the church. God’s choosing of us in election is also his choice of the exact place where you and I fit in the body. Some are eyes, and some are ears. Some are hands, and some are feet.

This reality implies a calling to use our gifts for others. But too often there is a wrong view of life in the church among the communion of the saints.

There can be a wrong attitude among those who may feel like they are not as gifted as others. The danger is that they become jealous of others who are more gifted, or who have different gifts that they think are better. They must also be warned against despairing and saying, “I don’t have any gifts. I can’t contribute anything, so why even bother. I’m going to withdraw and not even try to contribute to the church.”

There can also be a wrong attitude among those who may be more gifted than others. They must be warned against looking down on others who seem to be less gifted and who they think are not necessary or important. They must also be warned against pride and thinking that they are so important and indispensable that the church depends on them.

There is a danger for us all. Whatever gifts we have, whether great or small, we need to be warned against the pride of thinking that we don’t need the church. Maybe we think that we aren’t getting anything out of the church, so we are inactive and contribute at a minimum. Maybe we are so focused on ourselves, selfishly thinking about what other people do for me and what they do to make me feel loved.

Positively, we have the calling to use our gifts for others.

This means, first, that I must know what gifts I have. Each one of us has different gifts in different measures. We must discover what those gifts are. And we are also called to be content with the gifts and calling God has given to us. Don’t expect to have the same gifts as someone else, and don’t be jealous of their gifts. God makes us different, and those differences are good. This is proper self-esteem: God has chosen me and my place in the church, and I am necessary for that place.

This means, second, that I must know the needs of the other members. If I don’t know the other members, if I never talk to them, then I am not going to know their needs. But when I know the other members, then I can begin to know what needs they might have.

And then we are called to use our gifts to serve others. The communion of the saints is not about getting but about giving. Just as the love of Christ for the church showed itself in his coming not to receive but to give, just as the love of a husband for his wife is not about getting but about giving, so also as members of the church is our love for each other not about what we might receive but what we might give. We must use our gifts and abilities for the good of the other members of the church.

All this means that we must be active members of the church. This is not just for the person that is outgoing and sociable, but it’s for all of us. As those who have communion with Christ and know his love, so we must have communion with fellow believers and show our love for each other.

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment about this blog article for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

____________

Previous posts in this series:

  1. Lively Stones in God’s House
  2. Time To Build!
  3. Bound to Join
  4. A Hard Day’s Rest
  5. Noble Bereans
  6. Reformed…And Always Reforming
  7. A Cheerful Giver
  8. Echoing the Word
  9. Fellowship in the Body

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Fellowship in the Body

Fellowship.

The word often produces one of two responses. Some respond with gratitude, as in, “I’m thankful for the fellowship we have in our church.” Others respond with dissatisfaction, as in, “We don’t have any fellowship in our church.”

What is implied in both responses is that fellowship is important. And, indeed, fellowship is central to the life of the church and is one of the important responsibilities that we have as members of her.

To understand what we mean by fellowship, we have to begin with God and who he is in himself. Within the one being of God there is delightful fellowship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three persons share one life in the deepest, most intimate sense.

When God saves us, that salvation is his taking us into his fellowship. This is at the heart of what it means to belong to God’s covenant of grace. It is to live in sweet communion with our Father-Friend as his children.

This means that our fellowship with God is the source of fellowship in the church. Our vertical relationship to God establishes and makes possible our horizontal relationships with fellow saints. Since we are united to Christ, we are also united to the other members of his body.

This also means that our fellowship with God is the goal or end of our fellowship with each other. The purpose of our fellowship with each other is that we all might be led to enjoy deeper fellowship with God.

As partakers of God’s covenant fellowship, we are called to seek fellowship with the other members of the church. Acts 2:42 sets before us the example of the early church: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” 1 Cor. 5 says that we may not “keep company” with one who is excommunicated, but that implies that members of the church keep company with each other. The same is true in 2 Cor. 6 when it says we may not be yoked, have fellowship, communion, concord, part, or agreement with unbelievers. The implication is that we are yoked and have fellowship, communion, concord, part, and agreement with fellow believers. 1 John 1:3 grounds our fellowship with each other in our fellowship with God: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The calling to have fellowship is clear, but what exactly does that entail?

Fellowship can only be enjoyed when we know one another. It’s a sad reality in the church that we know too little of one another. We sit in church on Sunday next to fellow believers, and yet we know almost nothing about them and have nothing to do with them throughout the week. If we are called to have fellowship with one another, we must start by getting to know one another’s background, family, joys, and struggles. We can do this by staying and talking after church, by talking to different groups, by foregoing the weekly family gathering and inviting other members into our homes, or by joining a Bible study.

But we must not stop there in our description of fellowship. There is a difference between mere socializing and actually having true fellowship. We might talk after church or have others over to our home and talk about the weather, sports, and our families. And we can learn much about each other in this way. But if we never get around to talking about spiritual things, then we have missed the deeper fellowship.

Deeper fellowship involves seeking to grow together spiritually. According to J. I. Packer, true fellowship involves two main components. “It is, first, a sharing with our fellow-believers the things that God has made known to us about himself, in hope that we may thus help them to know him better and so enrich their fellowship with him.” “Fellowship,” he goes on to say, “is, secondly, a seeking to share in what God has made known of himself to others, as a means to finding strength, refreshment, and instruction for one’s own soul.” To put it simply, fellowship is a loving interest in the spiritual growth of our brother or sister in Christ. We rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep. Fellowship is also a humble willingness to receive help from others.

There are many obstacles to this fellowship. One obstacle is a sinful attitude of independency and self-sufficiency. This is when we think that we don’t need anyone else. Another obstacle is a wrong fear of being judged by others if we open up about our struggles. The result of this attitude is that we clam up and pretend like everything is fine, when in reality it isn’t.

We all have to recognize our need for this fellowship. Not only does God use it as a powerful means of grace in the lives of others, but it is a powerful means of grace in my life too. This is true not just for the singles and those who are lonely. But it is true for all members of the church: male and female, married and single, with children and without, with large extended family and without.

Seeing the importance of this fellowship, we are then called to promote it in the church and to seek it. When each member strives to do so, the mention of fellowship will produce in us the response of gratitude: “I’m so thankful for the fellowship we enjoy in our church!”

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment about this blog article for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

____________

Previous posts in this series:

  1. Lively Stones in God’s House
  2. Time To Build!
  3. Bound to Join
  4. A Hard Day’s Rest
  5. Noble Bereans
  6. Reformed…And Always Reforming
  7. A Cheerful Giver
  8. Echoing the Word

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Echoing the Word

For many of us, one of the more daunting responsibilities that we face as church members is the calling to witness. Just the thought of doing so might make our heart race, our anxiety level shoot through the roof, and our mouth feel like cotton.

Yet, this is our calling. There are many passages of God’s word that make this plain. 1 Peter 3:15 is well-known: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

In 1 Thessalonians 1:8 Paul commends the saints in that church because “from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” The words “sounded out” have the idea of an echo. Think of the sound of your voice or the crack of thunder that echoes in a cave or in the mountains. Paul’s voice was like a trumpet or like a summer thunderstorm rolling through Thessalonica, proclaiming the word of God. That powerful noise was then received by the saints there and echoed off of them to those around them. This indicates that the saints there were zealous in personal witnessing. When given the opportunity, they were bold to speak of their faith in Christ. The scriptures give this as an example for us to follow.

But this calling is often very difficult for us. It’s easy for us to get excited about doing mission work in a faraway land, but it’s hard for us to witness to our next-door neighbor. Someone once quipped that early Christians had to be told not to speak, whereas modern believers often have to be told to speak.

There may be many reasons why this is so difficult for us, but often we are simply too afraid to say anything when the opportunity arises. A coworker takes God’s name in vain day after day. Someone stops us at the grocery store and says something crude about the number of children that we have in tow. A neighbor tells us about the fornication that they have committed, or the drunkenness, or the Sabbath desecration. And we all know the feeling. Fear cripples us. We say nothing. We laugh nervously and change the subject. We know that we ought to say something, but our mouth stays shut and the opportunity passes.

Despite how uncomfortable it makes us, we are called to witness.

That witness will show itself in two ways. First, we are called to witness with our words. We hear the preaching of the gospel every Sunday, and we receive and embrace that word by faith. Our calling is to be echoes of that word, to reflect the powerful thunder of the gospel to those around us. That means we speak that word to family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and all others whom God brings into our lives.

In the second place, we witness with our actions. We live lives that flow out of our faith in Christ, lives that harmonize with the word of the Lord. We live in such a way that we are different from the world around us. When we back up our talk with our walk, others will take note. The life that harmonizes with the gospel is itself a powerful sermon.

It is possible, of course, for us to leave a negative witness. We may say all the right things, but when we live like the world, when we speak blasphemously or cut others down, when we bicker as husband and wife and have a quarrelsome, rebellious family, we leave the wrong kind of witness. When we live like the world and do the things that the world does, we do not stand out.

One powerful way in which we witness by our actions is by the way in which we handle adversity and affliction. When a loved one dies, when we are given a cancer diagnosis, when we have a disability that needs constant medical attention, when we have a child with special needs, and we respond in patience and trust in God, we give a powerful witness to others who see us.

The calling to witness does not mean we must say something every single day to every single person we meet. We are called to speak this word when God gives us an opportunity during the ordinary course of our day. And we must have a certain regard to appropriate circumstances. We are not called to say something to our coworker every single day when we are supposed to be working or to our neighbor every single time we see them outside working in their lawn. However, I don’t think this is the bigger danger for us. The bigger danger is that we do not speak the word when the opportunity does present itself.

The motivation to witness is the grace which God has shown to us. We have been graciously delivered from the darkness and brought into the light of life. What joy fills our hearts! So thankful are we for what God has done, that we cannot keep quiet about it. We can’t keep it in. We want everyone we meet to know this.

God may be pleased to use our witness to gain others to Christ. While some may be hardened by our witness, others may be brought to faith in Christ and the fellowship of the church.

Witnessing takes courage, courage which God alone can supply. Pray for that courage, and in the strength which he supplies boldly echo forth the Word of the Lord.

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment about this blog article for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

____________

Previous posts in this series:

  1. Lively Stones in God’s House
  2. Time To Build!
  3. Bound to Join
  4. A Hard Day’s Rest
  5. Noble Bereans
  6. Reformed…And Always Reforming
  7. A Cheerful Giver

Comments

A Cheerful Giver

One of the ways in which church members support the building of the spiritual house of God is through giving. This is certainly not the only way that the church is gathered and built up, but it is an important means.

Consider all the causes of God’s kingdom that are promoted through the financial support of members. In the Protestant Reformed Churches, each congregation takes a weekly collection for the “General Fund.” Through this fund the preaching of the gospel in that congregation is supported. The money goes to pay the minister’s salary, maintains the house of worship, and often supports the spread of the gospel through local evangelism.

The fund also supports the work of the denomination more broadly. It supports the work of classis and synod. It supports foreign and domestic missions. It supports the seminary, the professors, and students of the seminary. It supports the needy congregations. It supports the work of contact with sister churches. It supports emeritus ministers and their widows.

In addition to giving towards this General Fund, the churches also take collections for the poor and needy. They take collections to support a number of Christian grade schools and high schools. They take collections to send out magazines, to print books, and to air a radio program. And there are many other collections taken for many other important kingdom causes. And there are all sorts of other causes that a person could give to privately. In fact, it seems as if there are no end of worthy causes to support financially.

The Word of God guides us in how we are to give. Consider these six principles:

  1. Be guided by the principle of “moral proximity.” What this means is that the causes we support first are those which are closest to us. This means the church we attend. This means the school where our children are enrolled. And, as we are able, we give in ever-widening circles from us. This is the outworking of Gal. 6:10: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
  2. Give as you are able. Deut. 16:17 says, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.” 1 Cor. 16:2 says, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…” The pauper might not be able to give as much as the prince, but he can still contribute to the work of God’s kingdom.
  3. In that connection, a helpful guide is the idea of tithing. Tithing was required in the Old Testament (see God’s stinging rebuke in Mal. 3:8), but there is no such strict mandate in the New Testament. However, the idea of the tithe is a helpful baseline. At minimum, we should strive to give 10% of our income. And if we are able, we give more.
  4. Our giving must be done quietly. Jesus says in Matt. 6:3: “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” We must not give to be seen of men and praised by the same. We don’t give so that our name is on the wing of the hospital and the door of the school. We do our alms as to the Lord.
  5. Our giving ought to be characterized by willingness and joy. We can all probably picture in our minds the miserly scrooge who holds his money in a tight fist and is loathe to part with even a penny. This is not true giving. 2 Cor. 9:7 says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
  6. Finally, our giving must be done generously and sacrificially. The book of Proverbs speaks of the “liberal soul” (11:25) and the “bountiful eye” (22:9). In Luke 21 we have the example of the poor widow and her two mites. 2 Cor. 9:6 says, “He that soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall also reap bountifully.” In the world today the idea of sacrificial giving seems strange and foreign. But such generous, even sacrificial, giving is pleasing to the Lord.

I want to conclude by giving two reasons that ought to encourage and motivate us to continue giving to these causes.

First, remember that our giving is an act of worship. It is an acknowledgement that all we have comes from God, and an acknowledgement that it all belongs to him still. By our giving we express thanks for all he has given us, and simply return to him what is already his.

Second, our financial support is an important way in which we are all actively engaged in the work of God’s church and kingdom. Not all men are gifted and called to fulltime service in the church as ministers, missionaries, or seminary professors. And that’s a good thing. The church needs members who are called to serve as farmers, lawyers, factory workers, accountants, and mothers. Does this mean that they are not involved in the important work of the church? Not at all! They are involved, and their active involvement is expressed in part through their giving.

This gives meaning and purpose to even the lowliest station and calling! This motivates the man to go to his job every day and work hard! Because his work is kingdom work!

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Previous posts in this series:

  1. Lively Stones in God’s House
  2. Time To Build!
  3. Bound to Join
  4. A Hard Day’s Rest
  5. Noble Bereans
  6. Reformed…And Always Reforming

_____________

This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section on the RFPA blog.

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