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The day of August 16 dawned bright and clear. To all outward appearances it was no different than any of the days preceding or those which followed. Yet, without a doubt this was an important date. It is true, the headlines of the papers made no special mention; in fact, no mention at all of this important day. The world little knew and cared less what was about to transpire in the small town of Hudsonville, Michigan. But for the Protestant Reformed young people, this day marked the beginning of one of the biggest events of the year. On the evening of August 16 was to be given the inspirational address by the Rev. H. Hoeksema at the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church. That inspirational address, the keynote speech, was the beginning of the fifteenth annual convention.

And although the papers of our day give the summaries and even the complete texts of all the important speeches delivered throughout the world, yet, not one word was written in summary or comment concerning those three speeches on August 16, 17 and 18 at Hudsonville. We did not expect that to be done either. For who in this world is concerned with speeches about “The Gospel of the Promise”? But such was not the case as far as the Protestant Reformed young people were concerned. Those three speeches spoke to them in unmistakable language the truth in which they had been instructed from birth. It was the truth which they held dear and which was the guiding principle of their lives, for it was the truth of the Word of God.

For our young people, August 16 marked the beginning of a memorable event. And as we look back on that convention which took place nearly two months ago already, we can still say, and all those who attended will agree, it was a most wonderful convention. That it was a success, there can be no doubt. One of Hudsonville’s ideals was an inspirational convention, and inspirational it was. How could it be otherwise with three speakers as the Revs. H. Hoeksema, G. M. Ophoff, and G. Vanden Berg? And what a wonderful theme was chosen! Our young people certainly were edified and inspired.

Another aim of Hudsonville for the convention was Christian fellowship. This aim too was admirably realized. Many of the young people at the convention were there for the first time. They and those who have come many times before met many new friends and re-established old friendships. In my estimation, this is a very important part of the conventions. Our churches are small and some of them have but few young people. Possibly we could work things out so that there would be an even greater development of friendship between young people of our various churches. You who have met friends from the West or East could maintain those friendships by writing letters to them. It might also be possible to establish some sort of pen pal club. In this way, more of our young people will become acquainted with one another even before the next convention takes place. If you like the idea, by all means contact our editor or one of the members of the Beacon Lights’ staff.

A third goal of our Hudsonville society for the convention was entertainment. I need make little comment here. I have but to remind you of the outing at Spring Lake. And what food we had! Rev. Vos claims that he lost a pound after that outing, but most of us must surely have added a little weight.

So you can see why everyone agrees that the fifteenth annual convention was one of the best. In this issue of Beacon Lights, we review that convention. If you have not already done so, I would advise you to look carefully through the following pages and in a small way re-live the fun and enjoyment as well as Christian fellowship and edification we had there.

And what an appropriate thing it is to remind you of that convention now as we begin another year of society meetings. Let us begin our society season on the same note that was struck at this convention. How wonderful it was to hear of the glorious gospel of the promise. Now during this coming year, we will be privileged to discuss that same gospel in our society.

Most of our societies begin a discussion of the book of Acts. As you have noticed, we have begun a new system of Bible outlines in this issue. We hope that it will better lend itself to discussion in your society. What a wonderful sense of fellowship we have, too, knowing that most of our young people are discussing the same portion of Acts as we are. And if any problems arise in the discussion of this book, send them in. In that way we can all think about it, and our Bible Outline Editor can possibly give us some guidance as to its answer.

There is one other thing which could be mentioned in this place. The attendance at the convention was very good. By all means we should continue that practice during this coming year. Possibly I do not even have to mention this. Attendance at our societies is generally excellent. Yet, there are a few delinquents even in our churches. Such, of course, should not be the case. These delinquents I would divide into two groups, the first being the most serious. There are those who do not come at all to society. Sometimes there is a good reason, usually there is not. I know, society is not compulsory, but it does not speak well of one who refuses to use this opportunity to discuss the Word of God. Let’s all be at our society during this coming year.

The second type of delinquent is one who comes to society but refuses to take part in the program or in discussions. For this there can be very little excuse. Anyone can add something to a discussion. That is difficult to do at first, I know, but it becomes easier as one continues to do it. And so I say that if we continue the practice we began at the convention, we will certainly have a spiritually profitable year before us as young people. The benefits of such society attendance were presented in the past series of Christian Living. Read it again. Think about it. Then you will be at society also during this coming year. You will also take part in singspirations and mass meetings. And you will make definite preparations to attend the sixteenth annual convention at Doon and Hull, Iowa.

 

That song, as in past conventions, ended the last evening of the final day of one more convention. This song always causes me to have feelings of sadness. It’s the end. Three wonderful days during which covenant youth fellowshipped together have again come to a close. It hardly seems possible that three days could go so quickly. But it is over and now all we have left are memories, probably some new friendships, and possibly our booklet and badge.

Now, and even when we sang that final song, our thoughts go back to the many interesting occurrences at the convention. We page through the convention booklet which is now placed on top of the pile of other booklets accumulated from previous conventions. From Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and even South Dakota, Protestant Reformed young people had one destination – South Holland. And it was not only for the invigorating air nor the healthful odor of onions wafting through the breeze that they came. It was more for the fellowship of Christian Youth together; together in recreation, together hearing and being instructed through edifying speeches, together glorifying and praising God through speech and song.

Yes, there are many memories attached to this past convention. Memories of Evelyn Veldman who, the judges thought, needed a teething ring to improve her speaking ability; of Jim Jonker who is now learning to toot his own horn; of the treasure hunt which didn’t take place because of a heavy rainfall the previous evening (the treasure happened to be a large bottle of dill pickles); of Seymour with his ever present camera; and finally of that last evening during which the banquet was held.

Then, of course, we have memories of the more serious and important aspects of the past convention. We remember the various speeches in which we as young people were reminded of the fact that we must live the life of thesis. The sinful world, the workers of iniquity, always oppose God and therefore also oppose His people. But in spite of opposition, in spite of tribulation and affliction, our calling as young people is always to live thetically. It occurred to me too that our position in regard to the world is in many ways similar to the position of the United States over against Russia. The world always opposes the truth. And yet today the world and the church, at least in this country, apparently are not involved in any “hot” war – I mean that members of the church are not killed or tortured for their faith in God. Rather the world comes offering the olive branch of peace and unity, and in so doing in many different ways slyly tries to get the church to compromise in the truth. In all this we as young people are called to live the life of thesis.

Then, of course, we have memories of the many fine speeches, debate, and musical numbers presented. And we are also reminded of the fine attendance and wonderful spirit at all of the meetings. Truly it was a wonderful convention and it will be a long time before we forget it. It was not without reason then either that we were sad to see it come to an end.

But memories aren’t all we have. We closed with the song “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” That is our hope and our confidence. Our faith was strengthened. No matter what happens we know and were assured at the convention that God will be and is with us. And the Lord willing we will also meet again as a federation of young people’s societies next year in Hudsonville. That too is going to be a wonderful convention because the Lord is with us. Memories we have of the last convention, yes, but also an eager anticipation for the next one.

But we must also remember that the conventions are only a part of our Federation activity. The conventions certainly need our whole-hearted support. However, also Beacon Lights belongs to the Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies. That means that every member of each member society is responsible for Beacon Lights, too. What has your society been doing to promote Beacon Lights?

Do you have 100% of the families in your church subscribing to Beacon Lights? There is always much pleasure and enjoyment in reading Beacon Lights and attending conventions, but there is certainly much work connected with both. And you too should be willing to help in whatever way you can.

Once again the Christmas season is upon us. Stores temptingly display their wares in the hope of making many sales during the holiday. Is it any wonder that the world wants Christmas? It proves to be a very wonderful and convenient time to promote sales resulting in huge profits for the store owner. The radio presents songs like “White Christ­mas” and “Silent Night Holy Night” in one program, as if there were no differ­ence whatever between them. Wicked, divorced Hollywood actors are employed to sing the wonderful Christian Christ­mas songs. Christmas trees are being lighted, gifts exchanged, cards sent, all of which resembles a smoke screen through which the real, fundamental meaning of Christmas is barely visible for most people.

Almost we are carried, along with this tide of false ideas concerning Christmas. It is so easy to forget what is really Christmas. We by nature want to think of it in terms of X-mas. Leave Christ out of Christmas. It seems as if Christ­mas cannot be enjoyed with Christ pre­sent.

One little tot expressed beautifully on a Christmas program what Christmas meant to him. He said:

“Do you know why I like

Christmas the best of all the year?

Because it is the birthday of Jesus,

the Son of God so dear.”

This truth we have heard from earliest youth in our Protestant Reformed Chur­ches. Christ is first in Christmas no matter what the world says or does. Christ not only is first but very really ALL of Christmas. Apart from Christ there is no Christmas. It does not take any Christmas trees or Christmas pre­sents or Santa Claus to add to Christ­mas. It seems to me that instead of add­ing to the beauty of Christmas, they very often detract from it.

Christmas is not the celebration of the birth of a mere man. If it were, we would be foolish to celebrate it as we do. It is rather the celebration of the birth of the Son of God incarnate. God out of His grace to the elect sinners sent His only begotten Son into the world that they might be saved.

We must, you understand, see more in Christmas than the birth of Jesus. It must of necessity be followed by the crucifixion, death and ascension of Christ, else Christmas means nothing to us. Then through the birth of Christ, our redemp­tion becomes a reality. The Second Per­son of the Trinity comes into this sin cursed world to save us poor lost sinners.

Christmas now takes on another mean­ing for us. It not only is a commemora­tion of the birth of Jesus, but also should be a commemoration of the obtaining of eternal life through Jesus Christ and our freedom from the bondage of sin and death. Paul writes in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

You are free. Let us not misinterpret this freedom. It doesn’t mean that you may attend church or stay home as you wish. The idea should not enter your mind either that it is your business whether or not you attend society. If you are truly free you will want to at­tend church and society. That is a part of your freedom. Free you are from the power of sin and death, not free to do as you please.

We are alive through Jesus Christ. That is what Christmas also means for us. Where originally there was only death, we are now partakers of eternal life made possible by the birth of Jesus.

How do we act with this new life? You realize that a living Christian may not go into the world and enjoy all its carnal earthly pleasures. If you are alive you will give evidence of that life in your daily activity. A person alive in Christ will show it when he goes to work. He will show it when he goes to school. Whatever a person does, where-ever he goes, he will give a sure evidence of this life.

You see, friends, Christmas means more to us than just the birth of Jesus. It is through the birth of our Saviour that we receive all the benefits of salvation. We are not only celebrating the birth of our Savior, but we are, or should be, celebrat­ing the fact that through the birth of Jesus we are made alive. It is not the birth itself but the purpose behind that birth which makes Christmas so wonder­ful. If we see this, then we can have s blessed Christmas. Will you have such a Christmas? Will your Christmas be Re­formed?

All our lives we must thank God for such a blessed Christmas. By nature we do not want Christmas with Christ. Thank God that He did not leave you or me decide whether or not we wanted it. Always keep in mind that the birth of Christ is not the work of man but of God. Therein lies our salvation.

How are you going to observe your Christmas? Be careful where you place the emphasis. Many so-called Christians will have their Christmas trees and Christmas gifts again this year while the time spent at church will be only a for­mality so as to keep them in good stand­ing with the other church members. We do not say that there is anything wrong with Christmas trees or gifts, but we must be careful where we place the em­phasis. Many people, in fact most people, enjoy having an X-mas in which to ex­change gifts and have a jolly, merry time. Very few people want to have a Christ-mas. We are Protestant Reformed youth. Is there the slightest question in your mind as to what type of Christmas we must have?

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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