December 2015

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My co-author and the originator of the concept for this blog recently confided that he never imagined that This Day in Presbyterian History would be around this long. Now we are going into our fifth year in 2016. We make no great claims for the blog, but we’re pleased to be able to serve a (generally) growing list of subscribers and others.

In the annual review put together by WordPress, they summarize our 2015 statistics this way:

“Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 68,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take just over 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

The busiest day of the year was July 4th with 584 views. The most popular post that day was July 4: Happy ‘Presbyterian Rebellion’ Day.’ ” Visitors to the blog came primarily from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada and 129 other countries around the globe.

For the year ahead, we have several plans that should keep things interesting. 2016 will be a big election year, and with that theme in mind we are very pleased that the Rev. Dr. David W. Hall, pastor of the Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, Georgia, will be writing a series of posts for us, focused on the early American practice of the election day sermon. These posts will run on Saturdays, beginning on January 30th, just before the Iowa Caucus, and will end on October 29th, just before election day in November.

Our long-running feature on the Shorter Catechism, written by the Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, will conclude around April of 2016 and we are working on what will replace that Sunday feature. Many of our posts in past years have been biographical, and while biographies will continue to be part of the mix, there will be a greater effort to be more event focused. We also plan to include more posts on local church histories.

2015 began with a serious health challenge for me, and ended with emergency surgery for my son. The Lord preserved us through it all, and I pray for His blessings in the coming year, that it may prove to be a time of faithful service, of lifting up the name of Christ our Savior, and of doing His will in all that we say and do. If this blog can play even the tiniest part in all of that, it will have served its purpose.

Words to Live By:
Psalm 67 has been a particular comfort and guide in prayer over the past year:

1 God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.

That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.

God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

 

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Sermon At A Service of Installation

greenWH_1856_missionIt was on this day, December 30th, in 1856, that the Rev. Dr. William Henry Green brought a sermon on the occasion of the installation of Rev. Heman R. Timlow, as pastor of the Harris Street Presbyterian Church, Newburyport, Massachusetts. Rev. Timlow had been called to serve this church following the resignation of the Rev. W.W. Eels in March the year prior. All of which is admittedly a rather obscure set of facts and we might honestly wonder why it should merit our attention?

Among Presbyterians, the installation of a pastor remains to this day a service carried out in much the same way. So for one, if we were to look for a model for such an occasion, then here is one example. Moreover, we have here a sermon by an admittedly brilliant young man, at a point early in his remarkable career.

There is also the contrast of the youth of Dr. Green [1825-1900], just 31 years old when he served at the installation of this new pastor, compared with the advanced age of Rev. Dana, then near the end of his life yet still faithfully serving the Lord’s people at this installation. Dr. Green came from a long line of Presbyterians, among them, Jonathan Dickinson, first president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). Green had graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1846, was ordained in 1848, and following a brief pastorate in Philadelphia, was installed in 1851 as professor of Biblical and Oriental Literature at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He remained a professor there until his death in 1900.  Rev. Daniel Dana [1771-1859] as noted was near the end of his life, having long served the Presbyterian churches of Newburyport. It was Rev. Dana who had asked Dr. Green to bring the installation sermon on this occasion. Rev. Dana then brought the charge to the pastor. Others serving at this installation included the Rev. John Pike, of Rowley, who brought the charge to the people; and the Rev. A.G. Vermilye, of Newburyport, who extended the right hand of fellowship.

But the primary value of this sermon remains the message itself, as brought by Dr. Green that day. For his message, he chose the text of Luke 4: 18-19 :

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

By the standards of that era, Green’s message is rather brief, taking up just 12-1/2 pages in print. Many of his peers would typically produce similar sermons of twenty pages or more. But length is no judge of quality, and Green is succinct for a purpose, and from a pastoral standpoint, could be seen as a hallmark of his long career at Princeton Seminary, indicative of the heart of his ministry.

The above text, as Dr. Green states in the opening of his sermon, contains an exposition of Christ’s earthly mission. It is the commission which He received from the Father and it is the reason why He was anointed with the Spirit above measure. It comprises the errand upon which He came into the world. And so, to give a glimpse of his sermon, here below are a few choice portions:—

“The mission of the Savior was to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And yet when He ascended to the Father, He left behind Him a world still unreconciled to God, still in its pollution, misery and sin. It was filled still with poor to whom no glad tidings had been carried, with captives whose prison doors were barred as tightly, whose fetters were as galling and whose miserable dungeons were as dark and cheerless as ever; with the broken hearted to whom no voice of the comforter had spoken relief, and with the blind whose sight was as far as ever from being removed. But judge not from this that His errand was was abortive and His work a failure.”

“The work of the world’s recovery was not one begun in a moment and ended in a moment. As there was a protracted period of preparation reaching through many ages and employing various and potent instrumentalities before He came; so there is needed a protracted period for that scheme which He set in operation and which He still conducts and superintends, to work out its expected and certain consummation. The whole might have been accomplished in an instant had the almighty grace of God so chosen; and the moment of Christ’s triumphant resurrection from the grave might have been signalized by the complete ingathering and perfect sanctification of all God’s elect people, by the utter overthrow of Satan’s baleful empire, and by the entire and final banishment from earth of sin and its accursed effects. And so, had God chosen, the world might have been created in a moment, and all its forms of beauty and its innumerable orders of creatures sprung instantaneously into being, instead of being gradually evolved through six successive days. But thus God did not work in creation; nor did He in redemption.”

“To what has been said it may be still further added, that the verses before us are descriptive of the mission of the church of God, as composed of those who have embraced this precious system of saving truth, and stand as its embodiment, its representatives and its champions before the world. . . .Every one who has received the gospel of God’s grace into his soul, is not only one redeemed from the power of the enemy, but one commissioned to ransom others; not only one upon whom the balm of Gilead has begun its work of cure; but a physician, a healer of the hurts and maladies of others; not only a captive loosed from bonds, but set to the work of breaking the chains of those who wear them still. Every Christian is not a mere passive recipient of the truth and of its saving benefits, but in his measure and according to his station, opportunity and ability, he is set for its defence and propagation. He is a light kindled that it may shine—salt put into the mass for the preservation of the whole. The gospel is given to the church of God to spread it and apply it everywhere. . . It is a work of solemn obligation; and to every Christian unemployed in this his bounden duty, comes his Savior’s reproving voice—’why stand ye all the day idle? go, work in my vineyard.’ “

Words to Live By:
The call of the Gospel is a call to real action here and now. Christ saved us that we might bear fruit—that we might live out the life of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and so be used of Him to draw others into His kingdom. For one, as Dr. Green is careful to point out elsewhere in his sermon,

“. . . there is no warrant for restricting the redeeming virtue of the gospel solely to what is spiritual and eternal, and excluding from the sphere of its potency that which is temporal; or rather since it is expressly declared, that godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come,—as the gospel is capable of undoing and was intended to undo all the mischiefs of the fall, and to banish suffering and sorrow from this present world as well as deliver from it in the next, the church is God’s grand engine of philanthropy. There is not a question bearing on man’s amelioration, individual, social or national, in which the church has not an interest, and in whose solution she should not take her share. There is not a cry of distress, that may be suffered to break upon her ear unregarded. She carries in her hand the potent remedy; and she may not, through her culpable inactivity or through her criminal lack of faith in its sovereign efficacy, keep back from suffering men, what Christ has charged her as His almoner with bestowing upon them. She must hold up the gospel which she has received, before the eyes of men, as God’s appointed cure for all the evils that are in the world. Nor may she content herself with the mere propounding of its abstract principles, nor with the diligent application of it to one class of man’s disorders; as though her caring for one part of her commanded work absolved her from the rest,—as though by caring for men’s eternal, she was absolved from all regard for their temporal interests,—as though after proffering eternal salvation to men, she was thenceforward discharged from further care for them, and might shut up her bowels of compassion from her suffering and needy brother. . . . She must not only hold up the gospel in one of its aspects, but hold it up in all,—not only state its principles but search out and exhibit its applications. ” 

 A print copy of the above sermon may be found preserved at the PCA Historical Center. Or more conveniently, it may be found on the Web by clicking here.

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Our post today comes from the web site of Grace Church, Lansing, Illinois, a church formerly part of the Reformed Church in America and for nearly a year now, a member church of the Presbyterian Church in America. This congregation began, as the account below relates, on this day, December 29, in 1937:

Grace History

On November 24, 1937 a special session of Classis approved a petition which asked that another Reformed Church be organized in Lansing, Illinois. A committee then met with the interested parties on the evening of December 29, 1937. Thirty-two families chose to start a new congregation. The name “Grace Reformed Church” was unanimously adopted. Worship services were held inthe auditorium of the Indiana Avenue Public School at Indiana Avennue and School Street (now the site of the Lansing Public Library.)

In February, 1938 the congregation purchased the present church site. On March 19, 1938 the cornerstone of the original basement church was laid, and was ready for use by June, 1938. In June, 1938 a call was extended to the first pastor, Rev. Emo Ausema. In the fall of 1939 the congregation decided to build a parsonage of Dutch Colonial Style. Rev. Ausema served Grace Church ofr 6 years. The Lord blessed Grace Church during this time and it grew from 32 to 83 families.

In January, 1945, Rev. Bert VanMalsen was installed as our pastor. As the church continued to grow, plans were laid for the superstructure. In the Spring of 1949 construction began and was finished by June, 1950.

In January 1954, Rev. Cornelius Reynen became our pastor. Many additions such as a Sunday School Bus, stained glass windows and the Wick pipe organ were made.

In November, 1958, Rev. John Beenes became our pastor. The Church and Sunday School continued to grow and the decision was made to build an Education Wing, which was completed in 1962.

In August, 1966, Rev. Russell Sybesma became our pastor. Again, Grace Church prospered and grew in many ways. Annex property was purchased at 2718 Indiana (now commonly referred to the White House or Ministry House) and property on 181st was purchased for a parking lot.

The Misison program grew during this time. Grace Church started with Gladys Kooy as their first misisonary in its beginning. Supported 6 overseas missionaries by the 1960’s and today supports 12 missionaries in the U.S. and overseas; as well as many Mission and Venevolent Causes.

During this time the youth program began to formally develop through youth groups, and GEMS and Cadet programs. Grace first youth pastor, Rev. Ron VerWys was called in 1975; follwed by Rev. Tom Katsma in 1981; Rev. Scott Rees in 1987 and Rev. Dennis Colton in 2009. Mark Morris, Tim Sherman, Joe Greenwald and Scott Dykstra served and contracted Youth Directors as well as several Youth Interns . Rev. Fred Buseman served as an Associate Pastor 1984-1987. Pastor Leroy Childress currently serves as Grace’s Pastor of Youth and Outreach.

In 1984 Rev. Tom Katsma, who was currently the youth pastor, accepted the call to the Senior Pastor position. During his ministry Grace Church established a Contemporary Style of Worship, began a Coffee Break Women’s Ministry; had the addition of video equipment, the position of Music Director was added. Grace Church became aware of the changes and needs in the community around them and made changes to continue to reach out to the community.

In 1992, Rev.Don Schmidt was called as Senior Pastor. His ministry was cut short due to cancer and he went to be with the Lord in April, 1994. While at Grace his vision for reaching the community of Lansing was a stepping stone for the future of Grace.

Rev. Andy Nearpass served Grace Church as it’s Senior Pastor from 1995-2014. During this time Grace Church saw the continuance of a strong youth program; development of small groups; sent numerous mission teams out abroad and into the community, many facility updates; and a focus on prayer and God’s Word.

Pastor Leroy Childress was called as Senior Pastor on June 21, 2015. This marked Grace’s first pastor as a PCA church.

After much prayer and contemplation, on September 20, 2014 the Grace Church Congregation voted to transfer from the Reformed Church in America (RCA) to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). On October 30, 2014 the Illiana Classis of the RCA voted to approve the requested transfer.

As Grace Church looks to the Lord for guidance in our future and where He will lead us, the mottos of previous years ring through: “Fear Not Little Flock,” “Hither to the Lord has Blessed Us,” “Living and Sharing God’s Wonderful Grace,” and “Reaching…, Healing…, Sending,” “Connect, Grow, Serve, Go.” Grace Church continues to strive to live out it’s mission: Raising up followers of Jesus who impact the community and beyond with God’s love.

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Lardner Wilson Moore was born on May 20, 1898, in Osaka, Japan. His father was the Rev. John Wallace Moore and his mother, Kate (Boude) Moore. His parents were among the very first Protestant missionaries to serve in Japan.

Lardener received his collegiate education at Austin College, in Texas, earning his BA there in 1918 and an MA in 1919. He then pursued his preparation for ministry at Union Theological Seminary, in Richmond, Virginia, where he earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1922.

Upon graduation from Seminary, Lardner then married Grace Eagleton, in Sherman, Texas on July 6, 1922. To this marriage, three children were born, including George Eagleton, John Wallace and Robert Wilson.

Moore was licensed and ordained on September 15, 1921 under the authority of Durant Presbytery (PCUS), being installed as a pastor of the PCUS church in Caddo, Oklahoma. Additionally, he served as Stated Supply for a smaller Presbyterian church in Caney, Oklahoma. These posts he held from 1922-1924. [Returning to the States from Japan in 1942, Rev. Moore was able to return to Caddo to conduct the funeral of a member of his former church]

But his heart was set on foreign service and in 1924 he began his career as a foreign missionary to Japan, remaining there until 1968.  A term of service in the US Army, from 1943 – 1947 had interrupted his work in Japan. In that military service, he was commissioned to oversee the translation work of a core group of Japanese Americans. At the conclusion of the War, he also served as a language arbiter during the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

moore_1963_Grace_and_Lardner_Takamotsu_Japan_wborderIn the years following the War, he became president of Shikoku Christian College in Zentsuji, Japan, serving in that post from 1950 – 1957.

In 1968, Rev. Moore was honorably retired, and returning the United States, went on to serve as Stated Supply at a Presbyterian church in Antlers, Oklahoma, from 1969 to 1972. It was in 1973 that he was received by the PCA’s Texas Presbytery. Later, on October 31, 1981 he transferred his credentials into the OPC.

Rev. Moore died peacefully in his sleep on December 28, 1987, within a few months of his 90th birthday.

Words to Live By:
The Lord gifts all of us differently. To some, He gives a great facility with languages, thus equipping them to be particularly useful in the work of missions. If you know someone with such gifting, do all you can to help them along their way in serving the Lord. More than anything, pray for them, even now, long before they ever reach the mission field. Pray that the Lord will prepare them and that He will use them to advance His kingdom. Pray that they will stand strong in the Lord, firmly anchored in Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.

Image source: The above right photograph of Lardner and Grace Moore was taken in Takamatsu, Japan in 1963. Photograph provided by Robert Landolt, nephew of Grace Moore.

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 56. — What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?

A. — The reason annexed to the third commandment is that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.

Scripture References: Deut. 28:58-59; Ps.139:20; Ps.83:18; Zech 5:3.

Questions:

1. Why is it that breakers of this commandment might escape punishment
from men?

The breakers of this commandment might escape punishment from men because so many times those in authority are just as guilty as those who break the commandment. It is so many times a case of the natural man dealing with the natural man and the things of God are bypassed.

2. Who are they that take the Lord’s name in vain?

The Bible teaches that those who take His name in vain are his avowed enemies. (Ps. 139:20).

3. What should be one of the greatest motivators to hinder us from taking His name in vain?

As believers simply the words “the Lord our God” in this question should motivate us toward recognizing His glory and this should fill us with reverence and a godly fear. It should burden our hearts with guilt if we should break this commandment.

4. Will those who take the name of the Lord in vain escape judgment?

Those who break this commandment will not escape judgment, because God is righteous and has promised that they will be punished.

5. Would you call His promise a threat?

Yes, it could be called a threat in that divine vengeance is aimed against the person breaking the commandment.

6. When will those who break this commandment be punished?

There are two times the breakers of this commandment could be punished. Sometimes they are punished in this life as is seen in Deut. 28:58, 59. Sometimes the punishment will not be given until the hereafter. However, it is certain they will be punished.


A WATCH ON OUR LIPS

“Set a watch, 0 Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3). This verse is an excellent prayer, as we consider this particular commandment of the Lord. When the Bible says, “The Lord will not hold him guiltless”, regarding taking His name in vain, we should all take heed and seek to honor the Lord with our lips at all times. The question is: Are we afraid of speaking anything that might dishonor our Lord? Certainly we should be, for this is one way in which God’s glory is defiled, and as believers our responsibility here is apparent. In an old Presbyterian Prayer Book is found the following prayer:

“Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we confess to Thee, that in many times and ways, by thought, word, and deed, we have exceedingly sinned against Thee; And are no more worthy to be called Thy children. But we humbly beseech Thee, 0 holy and loving Father, of Thy great mercy in Christ Jesus our Lord, to forgive us our offenses, and henceforth grant us true repentance and newness of life, to the honor and glory of Thy Name. Amen.”

Making this a daily prayer would be good for us all. And yet, there is danger involved in the speech of the believer. The Bible states the danger very well: “This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me.” (lsa. 29:13). The danger is ever present that we talk a good religion, but because our hearts are not right before the Lord we neglect to follow His ways. We are eager to be heard by others who love the Lord, but inwardly we are saying “No!” to Him as He deals with self inside our hearts. Indeed, our prayer should be for Him to set a watch before our mouths, and for the Holy Spirit to increasingly minister to our hearts.

The third commandment makes it plain that we will pay for dishonoring Him with our lips. The payment will be in this life or in the next. We know full well that the unbeliever will be punished, but sometimes we forget that we too will have to suffer. May God help us that our words may ever glorify Him, words lifting high the Lord Jesus Christ to a wicked and perverse generation! (Ps. 19:14).

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 52 (April 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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