On September 27, 1984, my wife and I thought we were the parents of a normal infant boy. By the afternoon of the following day, our normal child was gone, gone forever, and we found ourselves the parents of a baby with cerebral palsy. With dizzying and baffling swiftness, our lives were changed, radically, permanently. It was as if the Lord had said to me, “Fool, this night thy son shall be required of thee.”
Indeed, regarding my son, my first born, I had played the Rich Fool. How often in the first months of my boy’s life, months now impossibly distant, did not I hold him and imagine, “What will his life be like?’’ In my mind’s eye I saw him walking and running, and imagination’s keen ear let me hear his first word. These things and more did I imagine, and now I do not know if I will ever see the least of these things.
I think that most parents, to some extent, behave as did the Rich Fool of Luke 12. It is so easy to plan or imagine our children’s futures, and typically those plans and dreams include only “good’’ things. Such behavior on our part is understandable. We mean no harm by it, yet it remains, finally, a foolish thing to do.
It is foolish because it creates in us the false impression that our children belong to us. It fosters in us the false belief that somehow we are in control of the events in our children’s lives. And, worst of all, it encourages in us a sense of outrage, dismay, and inequity when God moves in ways contrary to our plans and dreams.
I do not mean here to make of my son’s affliction a soapbox from which to harangue parents who have far more experience as parents than do I. Yet there are some things of which I would like to remind all believing parents. In relation to your children, live for today. I do not mean that in the careless, hedonistic sense of thoughtless abandon that marks modern society, but in the positive sense that “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.’’ Enjoy your children as they are now, right at this moment. Do not waste a minute of today anticipating or worrying what your child will be like tomorrow. One theologian has called our timeless God “The Eternal Now”; and we do well to remember that it is that God in Whom we live and move and have our being.
Secondly, if God has blessed you with children of sound body and mind, give constant thanks for that great gift. We tend to take for granted that which runs smoothly, be it a refrigerator, a car, or a child. In the days when I was unaware of my son’s condition, I rarely gave his mental and physical abilities a thought; I assumed all was well and would remain so, forgetting the frailty of human flesh, forgetting that it is God’s good pleasure alone that preserves health and life. Each day, all day, live in conscious gratitude for the blessing of well-being that God has bestowed on your child. For certainly, should your child suffer permanent affliction, you will be aware of that each waking moment of your life.
Finally, we must struggle to remember that our children are not our own. They belong to God, and He has ordered all their days and all their ways according to His counsel. His counsel, His plans, not ours. Our children are God’s, and He will do with them as He sees fit. That is easy for the mouth to say, nigh impossible for the heart to live. I have had to say those words over and over again, even when they meant nothing to me, so hard it is for our flesh to accept and affirm those words.
But, paradoxically, we as parents find our greatest comfort in the fact that our children belong to God. Our dear Father, Whose ways are so far above our own, graciously provides us and our children with the assurance that we are His, that He is good, and that no evil can befall us in this fallen world. And therefore we not only see but rejoice in the truth that we hold our children in trust, a divine trust, inviolate, no matter what our children’s condition, no matter what our rebellious dispositions might argue to the contrary. We are God’s, our children are God’s, and, as Charles Wesley said, “The best thing is, God is with us!” In Him we live, in His grace we glory, and in His loving bosom we rest and wait, wait for the day in which all shall be made perfect and new.
This article by Gary Vander Schaaf is the first in a series dealing with how Protestant Reformed Teachers present their subjects from a distinctive point of view. This series was introduced in the November issue.
The foundation for science education in the Protestant Reformed schools is found in Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” In this “Genesis Mandate” we are told, in effect, that the world is created for our care. If we are to “tend to the garden” for God’s sake, we must know about that garden. Science can help us know and help us tend.
As I see it, God demands that His children occupy two roles when they study science. The first role is passive; the child of God must learn about creation. I know that those of you who have studied science think that there is nothing passive about it. It is often hard work. But I mean “passive” in that, through science studies, our God is revealed to us. We learn that our Father is omnipotent. Especially, we learn through science that our Lord is a Lord of structure, a God of order. Whether God deals with His people or with His dumb creation, He is never an arbitrary or a capricious God.
Nowhere is God’s mighty and ordering power more visible than in the evening sky. The myriad stars seem randomly scattered, the only order that by which man places them in constellations. Yet you and I know that God’s structuring power is operating even in the empty cold of space. The planets move in orderly, elliptical orbits; the sun circles daily in its course. Our solar system turns around the hub of the Milky Way, which in turn revolves around a point thousands of light-years away. So our universe is not chaotic, as men label it today. Instead, as medieval man saw more clearly, the heavens are part of the “Great Dance”, moving, turning, spinning in precise and orderly movement in tune to the celestial music of God’s almighty power.
The second role the child of God must fulfill is an active one. We must do something; we must subdue the earth; we must tend the garden. In order for science to help us do this, the science taught in Protestant Reformed schools must be thorough, rigorous, and accurate. Let me explain these standards.
Novelist Fredrick Manfred likes to tell the story of the time his mother visited him at Calvin College when he was a student there in the early 1930’s. Manfred wanted to show his mother the college’s collection of fossils, dinosaur bones, and other “prehistoric” artifacts. His mother declined. Manfred insisted. She declined again. Finally, Manfred asked her why she refused to have a look at the “old bones.” His mother replied, “Och, Feike, I’m scared to go in there. I don’t think my faith can stand it.”
We can understand the mother’s fears; we can even sympathize with them. But we cannot encourage them in ourselves or in others. Our science must be thorough and rigorous. It must deal with what is. I have encountered parents and students who think that we have to stay away from certain areas of study because “it’s all evolution stuff.” Fossils, old bones, geological deposits, the differentiation of species: these are not “all evolution stuff.” We should not fear and avoid them just because false science has misinterpreted this data. Rather, we must study these things thoroughly, scientifically, that we might discover the truth about them and their purpose here. What is God trying to tell us about Himself and His creation through these things? All creation is a book; we sin if we refuse to read it.
But we sin even more if we read the book of creation inaccurately. This is why our science must be accurate. This means, first of all, that our science realizes its limitations. It deals with what is, with what it can see, handle, and analyze in the laboratory. Those of you who attend secular high schools or colleges and take science courses at those places must remember that Science is not Philosophy. It is not Metaphysics. It is certainly not Theology. Science has no business passing definitive judgments concerning the existence or nature of God, man’s relationship with Him, or man’s relationship with his fellow men.
Secondly, if our science is to be accurate, it must be truthful. Our scientific theories must fit the evidence found in nature and, above all, in Scripture. Protestant Reformed schools do not teach the theory of evolution because this theory does not fit the facts of creation or Scripture. Rather, we seek to learn the truth about creation and fight those who elevate lies to positions of scientific canon. Fighting scientific untruth is one way the child of God can be active. To fight effectively, however, we must have thorough and rigorous training.
If, for instance, you want to protest evolutionary theory in one of your science classes, it does little good to stand up and announce, “I don’t believe that,” and then have the professor cut you to ribbons before the class because you do not know enough about evolutionary theory to debate with him. Neither is it sufficient to simply drop the class in protest. Such action is a poor gesture, at best, and poor witnessing at worst. Instead, do this: learn the facts, study the information, familiarize yourself with evolutionary theory, know it cold, discover its many weaknesses. The Institution for Creation Research publishes over twenty books criticizing evolutionary theory from a scriptural point of view. (A partial list of ICR publications is given at the end of this article.) Read these books, study them; do not be destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Science is knowledge, knowledge of the creation: what it’s like, what it does, how it does it. We need this knowledge if we are to be effective stewards of God’s great garden. We have been, I fear, ineffective gardeners. We have a sorry history of “let somebody else do it” attitudes. Scientific matters are not our concern. Not our concern, that is, until our cattle are contaminated with PBB, our wells are polluted by chemical run-off, our children are born deformed or dead in a Love Canal-type tragedy, our neighborhoods are evacuated due to nuclear-reactor leaks. Where have we been? What have we been doing? Satan’s children have been tending the garden long enough. We must take our tools – science and the scriptures – and get to work.
These and other books can be ordered from the Institute for Creation Research, 2716 Madison Avenue, San Diego, California 92116.
The Genesis Flood
The Twilight of Evolution
Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science
Evolution and the Modern Christian
The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth
Speculations and Experiments Related to the Origin of Life: A Critique
Scientific Studies in Special Creation
The Early Earth
The Origin of the Solar System
The World that Perished
“And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought with his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:79)
And so from the beginning of time, there was war. Michael was victorious over the proud and rebellious Beelzebub. However, the devil was cast to earth and from that moment the red horseman of war began his ride. From the first battle of Cain and Abel to that final battle of Armageddon there was, is, and always shall be war.
Why is there war? Why do nations rage? Worldly philosophers have given us many reasons: competition, acquisitiveness, pugnacity pride. Man’s greed, his desires, are always the major causes for war. If one digs through the immediate causes of war, the insults, the assassinations, a basic desire for food, land, materials and mastery is always present. There is always the desire to rule.
For appearances, the world has to say it doesn’t want war. “War is hell” said Sherman. The wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were gentlemen’s affairs — something to keep the armies occupied. However, the past two centuries have witnessed the rise of a new total war: a holocaust of unspeakable horrors to be avoided at all cost. Eliminations of these horrors was the peace of the League of Nations; this is the peace of the United Nations. But is this the peace of the Christian, the peace which passeth all understanding? No, I think not, for “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1), and “. . . he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14). What does the world do but make the wall between itself and God only greater. They are enamored with their dreams and ideals. Their hopes are vain. “Let us try a new understanding, a new enlightenment. Let us put a restrain on our fears; let us reduce armaments, cease hostilities and subversion. We must join hands in a defiance of history. Let us be one. However, labor, which is not in the Lord is labor lost. If only the world would believe the inevitability of war. Some men do realize this, but again their beliefs are world based. “Look,” they say, “3,153 of the last 3,421 years have seen war. A prolonged peace weakens the country; some conflicts are too fundamental to negotiate.” They argue: “War is the final arbitrator of all things.” Finally they admit that to deny war is to deny man’s nature. This is the closest the world comes to admitting the natural depravity of man. It is because man is evil that there are wars.
Should we concern ourselves with war? with peace? As waiting, watching Christians it is our duty to look for the second coming of our Lord, for the coming of the last days. “And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? . . . and when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be” (Mark 13:4-7). Rather we should concern ourselves with “the good fight.” “For though we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” And peace, what do we do about peace. We have our answer for “. . . Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace” (Luke 7:30). Rut for the world’s peace —the cessation of hostilities — what do we do. Surely we must realize that when the world finds peace it will be the peace of antichrist. “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him . . . and it was given him to make war . . . and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues and nations. And all that [the wicked] dwell upon the earth shall worship him” (Rev. 13:4-7). Great suffering and tribulation will be the lot of those without the mark of the beast. Our human nature cringes at the terrible thought. But this awful peace must come before our Christ can, so it has been prophesied. In this light I think we should pray for earthly peace in the world.
Finally there is the last battle — the great war. “Satan . . . shall go out to deceive the nations …. Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle . . . and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night, forever and ever” (Rev. 20:7-9). Then Christ will come with the book of life and gather his people unto Him to take them to the eternal peace of the new Jerusalem. This weary night shall be passed and the swords shall be beat into plowshares: neither shall we learn war anymore. “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
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