Category Archives: Family

Australia Bound

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I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’ve accepted a call to the Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania.  That happened back in September of last year.  Since then, we’ve been working to get everything in order for this move to happen.  Today we received the news that our visas have been approved.  We’re now permitted to immigrate to Australia and take up permanent residency there.  God willing, that will take place towards the end of September.  Between now and then, there are countless things that we need to give attention to.  Consequently, this blog is going to go quiet for a while.  I have every intention of resuming once we get to the other side and get settled in.  I plan to give things a fresh look here, but the content will continue to be much the same.  However, you might notice me beginning to speak with a strange accent…

Free Reformed Church in Launceston.

Free Reformed Church in Launceston.

Tasmania will defy your preconceived notions of Australia!

Tasmania will defy your preconceived notions of Australia!

But yes, they do have beaches!  This one is on lovely Dove Lake.

But yes, they do have beaches! This one is on lovely Dove Lake.

 


In the meantime…

Things have been quiet on here lately, I know.  I’ve been rather absorbed with other, more pressing matters.  I hope to post something worth reading here later next week.  In the meantime, you can read something here about my future plans — and those of my cousin. 


Book Review: Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds

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Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds:  Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Starr Meade, Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2013.  Paperback, $16.09, 255 pages.

For many Reformed parents, the catechizing of their children begins and ends with catechism classes taught by the church.  This is despite the fact that the third baptismal question is very clear.  Parents first of all promise that they will instruct their children in the “complete doctrine of salvation” as soon as those children are able to understand.  The catechism teaching done by the church is not meant to replace this parental catechism teaching, but to complement or supplement it.  But how do we implement parental catechism instruction in the home?  That’s where a book like this promises to be very helpful.

The same author wrote a similar book based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds.   Our family used this book profitably for several years and by the time we were done with it, it was falling apart.  Our experiences with the previous volume led me to have high hopes for this one as a replacement.  After a few months of using it in our family worship, I can report that, overall, it is a worthwhile tool.  However, discernment is needed on some important points.

A week of devotions (Monday-Saturday) is spent on each Lord’s Day of the Catechism.  Occasionally a Lord’s Day will be spread over two weeks.  Each day features a short devotional that can be read in less than five minutes.  The devotionals also include one or more readings from the Bible to show the connection between the Catechism and Scripture.  The devotionals are well-written and often include vivid illustrations.  Most of the teaching given in these devotionals is faithful to the Reformed faith.  While even preschool children can benefit from these devotionals, those benefitting the most will be school age.

Unfortunately, I do have to share two significant criticisms.  I share them in the hope that parents who want to use this book will use it with discernment.  First, parents should be aware that Meade uses the edition of the Heidelberg Catechism adopted by the Christian Reformed Church.  This has a couple of regrettable drawbacks.  First, we want our children to learn the Catechism as adopted by our churches.  This means that parents should keep the Book of Praise at hand and read the Catechism in the Canadian Reformed edition, rather than the text as printed in this book.  The second drawback is more significant.  The CRC edition of the Catechism dropped QA 80 about the Roman Catholic mass.  Meade follows the CRC lead and even states in a footnote, “There has been concern among those who use this catechism that the position of the Roman Catholic Church may not be stated accurately.  Therefore, I have chosen to omit Question 80 altogether” (160).  If Meade had only done some research, she would have discovered that this “concern” was only among some and actually said far more about the CRC than about the Catechism and its portrayal of Rome.  This puts Canadian Reformed parents who use this book in the position of having to teach QA 80 on their own – and they should.

My second criticism has to do with Lord’s Day 27 and infant baptism.  According to the author’s website, she and her husband teach a Sunday School class at a Reformed Baptist church in Arizona.  I would assume that they are also members at this church.  This puts the author in an awkward position when it comes to Lord’s Day 27.  This was not an issue in the previous book on the Westminster Shorter Catechism (which also teaches infant baptism).  It seems to me that the author may have changed her views on this between the two books.  When it comes to Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds, the author is very brief on infant baptism and does not teach it or defend it.  All she does is note that there are differences amongst Christians on this question and encourages families to discuss where they and their church stand on it.  This is not faithful to the intent of the Catechism.  The Catechism was written to teach the Reformed faith and that faith includes the truth that the children of believers belong to God’s covenant and therefore should receive holy baptism.  This is the whole point of QA 74!  Unfortunately, Meade’s Baptist bias comes out elsewhere in her treatment of the sacraments as well.  For instance, in the Friday devotion on Lord’s Day 25, she writes, “Baptism is a sign used once, when we first come to Christ.”  While baptism certainly is a sign to be used only once, there’s no recognition that it’s to be used when Christ first comes to us – and that could be (and often is) as a little covenant baby.  Reformed parents who use this book will have to be cautious about this and intentional about filling out the gaps in Meade’s approach.

We need more books like this, tools to help us catechize our children as we promised to do.  We need books like this written by men and women who share a wholehearted commitment to the Reformed faith – with no reservations about any points of doctrine.  While I believe this book could be used with profit (and we certainly are profiting in our home), it should only be seen as a stop-gap measure until something better comes along.


The Bredenhof Immigration Experience

In the same line as the last post, I’ve also uploaded a couple of chapters from my late grandfather’s book By Grace Alone.  Here he describes his experiences coming to Canada from the Netherlands.


W. H. Bredenhof (1922-2010)

This past Wednesday my grandfather, Wicher (Bill) Hendrik Bredenhof, was promoted to glory by his Father in heaven.  A devout Christian all his life, our family is comforted with the gospel of free grace that he embraced.  He was 88 years old and dearly loved by family and friends.  The funeral will be held this coming Tuesday at 1:00 PM at the Langley Canadian Reformed Church.

Here and here you can find some of my Opa’s wartime stories, excerpted from his autobiography, By Grace Alone.

This is Opa with his second-oldest son, Jake.

Opa with our youngest daughter in August of 2009, shortly before we moved to Hamilton.  He dearly loved both his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  We were all his favourites.

Opa and my step-grandmother with our youngest.

My sister has also posted some beautiful pictures and tribute to Opa.  We’re all going to miss him so much.  We already do.  We were so richly blessed by God to have such a wonderful, godly grandfather.  Soli Deo Gloria.