Third Time Is Not a Charm

At 11:30 on a Saturday night, I took a sip of decaf and thought about going to bed. Pittsburgh had experienced two nights of temperatures well below zero, so it felt good just to be inside and warm. 


Then the security company called. A motion detector at our office had set off an alarm, though none of the exterior alarms had been tripped. My heart fell. The last time that had happened, it had not been a thief but a cascade of water from a broken pipe that had set off the alarm. Given the stacks of books stored at our office, fire and water are more fearsome enemies than thieves. This week’s weather was ideal for frozen pipes.


I rushed to the office and arrived as the police were pulling up. They checked the building periphery–no tracks on the freshly fallen snow. As we neared the door, we heard that odd sound. It was a sound you might hear at a public fountain or at the base of a waterfall–quite unfitting for a frigid night in winter. I opened the door and walked through rivulets of warm water–yes, warm. The hot-water pipe had frozen on the second floor, sending water into a first floor office, where it soaked the carpet and seeped onto the stacks of books in the basement.


This was the third time a pipe had broken in the same shaft. The first time we were told by the plumber that an interior pipe breaking like this was a fluke, a rare experience of below-zero temperatures and other factors. The second time, a couple years later, we insulated the pipes and the shaft and provided a way for cold air to escape from the shaft. But now, 10 years after that last episode, we were back to square one.


We took some other precautions after the first “flood,” protecting many of our book stacks from water that might seep from above in a catastrophe. The early detection and the preventive measures made this third flood relatively minor. We’re very, very thankful that is was not worse. And we’re working harder than ever to find a permanent fix. We prefer our fountains out-of-doors.

Reformed Voice

One of our companion web sites puts good Reformed teaching at your fingertips, wherever you may roam. The site is, and it features thousands of free sermons from dozens of speakers.


This week we added our 50th broadcaster to the site, and, before the year is up, we expect to receive our 3 millionth visitor to the site.

Where Are the Psalms?

Where are the Psalms in American Protestant worship life? Even denominations that used to define themselves by their exclusive Psalm singing have often largely abandoned the practice.”


These sentences announce a symposium about the state of psalm singing in congregational life. It promises to address why denominations have been “so ineffective in convincing congregations to sing the psalms,” including discussion of what actions, if any, should be taken to encourage more psalm singing.


The subtitle of the conference is “The State of Congregational Psalm Singing after Fifty Years of Worship Renewal.” Discussing how congregations swung so suddenly from exclusively psalmody to almost exclusive hymnody is a brilliant place to begin this discussion on
the psalm singing. I hope to be there.


Where Are the Psalms? is to be held at Erskine College and Theological Seminary on February 26-27 in western South Carolina. Speakers include professors from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Seminary: Robert Glick, Robby Bell, and Mark E. Ross. Also speaking are John Witvliet, Hal Hopson, and Terry Johnson.


Amazingly, the brochure says that the first thirty paid registrants get free lodging!


Visit the Erskine Seminary website for more details.

Fare Thee Well, Friend


We bid farewell this week to our editorial assistant, Lindsey. She is a gifted musician who has decided to pursue her doctorate in music performance. We know she’ll do well. We’re glad that, for the near future at least, she won’t be far away.


Lindsey also has a heart for ministry to the Japanese people, a heart that has been developing over the past year as she went on two mission trips to Japan. She loves many things about Japan; so for our last staff “meeting” it seemed most appropriate to go to a Japanese restaurant.


A great thing about the hibachi Japanese restaurants is that they are part dining experience, part entertainment, as one admires the chef’s work and laughs at his antics that are aimed to please.


Staff members in the photo are Josh, Lois, Ariana, Lindsey, and Lynne. Lindsey trained Ariana this week as the new editorial assistant.
Staff members in the photo are Josh, Lois, Ariana, Lindsey, and Lynne. Lindsey trained Ariana this week as the new editorial assistant.

RP International t-shirts

Some of our customers saw us at the RP 2008 International Conference. For the conference, we designed and sold a variety of t-shirts to mark the event. Some of our styles and designs were very popular and sold out quickly. This was good for us but many people did not get the shirt they wanted.

If you are interested in getting a shirt, please let us know soon. If there is enough response, we will have some more made. Contact Josh if you are interested. Thanks!

From the Lips of Little Ones

From the Lips of Little OnesFrom the Lips of Little Ones made its debut at the RP International Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This book, compiled by ARP Pastor Jeff Kingswood, is a study in the children’s catechism for families. The study questions are conversational, designed to encourage dialogue with your children about basic Bible teachings.

This is the kind of book that would be a valuable format for family devotions. Even a family with younger and older children may find that the older ones will be pleased to discuss these topics with the younger ones, and it will be good review.     


There is something to discuss and a suggested scripture reading for every weekday for 73 weeks. The questions are based on Joseph P. Engle’s Children’s Catechism of 1840, which was derived from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. A few terms have been changed for 21st century understanding.
ISBN: 978-1-884527-24-1
Paper, 146 pp.


Packing Ahead

RP InternationalHave you ever started packing over two months before taking a trip? Well, that’s what we are doing here at Crown & Covenant. Yes, we are excited about the upcoming RP International Conference at Calvin College! Are you planning to attend and have you sent in your registration? It is a terrific experience to meet with many Christians of the denomination from all over the US as well as other countries. You will not want to miss conference lectures, sectionals, and worship. Meeting old friends and making new friends adds to the enjoyment of the conference.

So here at the office, books are arriving, and we are pricing and packing them. We are going to have a huge book table—a whole room just for Crown & Covenant products. It would be great to see you there.

Death of a coffee maker

Our new friend!We had a minor office tragedy a couple weeks ago. Quite unexpectedly, our coffee maker quit making coffee. It looked fine—the lights were on, the buttons worked, but the machine wouldn’t brew the coffee. As the coffee maker’s primary responsibility in this office is to propel all of us to new heights of motivation and innovation, there was understandable dismay at its passing.


After a few days surviving on coffee brought from home or the various coffee shops/gas stations on all our various routes to work, a shiny new coffee maker took center stage on the counter in the kitchen. 


I love a happy ending.


In the past several months we have transitioned at Crown & Covenant from using the traditional Pitney-Bowes postage machine to the new Online Postage system called Endicia. It’s exciting to be able to print postage stamps in whatever amount we need. No more running to the post office for stamps or waiting for them to arrive when purchased Online. Be aware that postage costs are going to increase again on May 1st! Crown & Covenant tries to keep apace of and implement the most modern methods of shipping so that your orders arrive in good order and as quickly as possible.

Children At Work

“Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” was April 24. In the U.S., this official day began about 15 years ago. At Crown & Covenant, there are many days through the year when you can see the bright face of a child in our offices. That tradition goes back at least 20 years. My wife and I, sharing one job, had times when we  needed to be working together. There were even a couple of board meetings where we had a playpen nearby!


AlexaMost recently, it is the shining face of three-year-old Alexa that we see from time to time. She is the daughter of our business manager, Josh. Sometimes she is here for just a few minutes, sometimes a few hours. But always she is a refreshing addition to the workplace.


Recently a former employee came back to work temporarily for us. We encouraged her to bring her child Kinsey with her if it meant that working for us would be more feasible. We’d rather have valuable employees working with restrictions than not working at all!


Besides, God has placed us in families–a critical part of, and reflection of, His promises to us. We are missing something, and making our children miss something, if we strictly forbid them from the workplace. It’s good for them to see us going about our day’s business (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).


It’s easier in a small office environment to allow this kind of flexibility. Someone who works at a nuclear power plant or who digs ditches can’t include children often. But for those who are able, it’s much more of a blessing than a hassle.