Yesterday, I read a portion of Spiritual-Mindedness by John Owen—a most excellent read on a slow Lord’s Day afternoon. Around page twenty-four, I realized 2017 is something like my ten-year anniversary with the Puritans. For it was just over a decade ago that I first feasted on their writings. And I owe it all—humanly speaking—to Dr. Joel Beeke.
A Round About Way
In the spring of 2007, I read George Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life. What struck me most about the Northampton minister was his heavenly-mindedness. I then picked up a few more recent publications on Edwards that emphasized his pursuit of heaven on earth. 1 Those sources further cemented my attention on Edwards and heavenly-mindedness; things that, for me, at the time represented “Puritanism.”
Through online research, I eventually stumbled across the voluminous writings of Dr. Joel Beeke. With relish, I purchased and devoured his many books on Christian living, and the emphasis he gave to the Puritans did not go unnoticed. Thus, it was from Beeke’s many citations of Puritans that I began to move back from Edward’s and the mid-eighteenth century to the Westminster divines and the mid-seventeenth century.
My soul has never been the same.
A Mentor from Afar
He wouldn’t remember me, but I met Dr. Beeke at Together for the Gospel 2010 as he manned the Reformation Heritage book table. He immediately suggested I buy Meet the Puritans. My wife had given me the book for Christmas just a few months earlier, and so we struck up a short conversation on other books I might consider.
We later traded a few emails on my M.A. thesis: This is Not the End: Puritans on the Glory of Heaven. He was always kind and quick in his responses.
Over the years I’ve collected most of the books Dr. Beeke has published. Each one has served my life and ministry in countless ways. His Puritan Reformed Spirituality ignited a desire to pursue Ph.D. studies at SBTS in the area of Biblical Spirituality. His Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace shaped my role as a father in profound ways, and had a substantial role in my shifting views on baptism.
I don’t agree with Dr. Beeke on everything—as it always is with a mentor. But God has used him in my life almost as much as any living person. His passion for evangelism convicts me, his zeal for godliness inspires me, and his preaching of Christ humbles me.
Well Worth a Listen
One of my Sunday morning duties is ironing the family’s church clothes. De-wrinkling for seven can take a little while, so I tend to pass the time by listening to an edifying sermon. Yesterday I stumbled upon Dr. Beeke’s testimony. I’ve heard or read bits and pieces of it throughout the years, but never encountered his story of God’s grace in detail. And what a story it is!
I never cease to be amazed at how God works in the lives of His people. He overflows with wisdom and mercy toward all.
If you have an hour this week in traffic, on a run, or by the ironing board, listen in and be encouraged. You too might just find a new mentor in grace.
- See Stephen J. Nichols, Heaven on Earth: Capturing Jonathan Edwards’ Vision of Living in Between (Crossway, 2006); Steven J. Lawson, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards (Reformation Trust, 2008). ↩