Giving thanks for little things, not only for major things, like health and strength and being alive, but also for little things like trees and grass and clear, fresh air.
Stopping and noticing the little things in life that we so often take for granted. And then, not only for sunshine and good times, beautiful meadows and cute, little ladybugs, but also for rainy days and unhappy moments, dry, hot deserts and spiders.
Imagine what it would be like if for some reason you were confined indoors for about two years. When you finally would be able to go outside, it would be like rediscovering everything you had discovered in your very early childhood. Things like the feeling of grass tickling the bottom of your feet as you walk through a meadow, and the smell of a spring morning. The sound of the wind whistling through the trees and the beauty and awesomeness of an electrical storm. The feeling of mud oozing between your toes or the wind blowing your hair and at your back, and even the smell of that skunk who made his presence known a while back. Or, watching an ant walk to a potato chip that fell to the ground during a picnic and struggling to carry a remarkably large piece of it back with him to the tunnel. Too often we just mark it off as incidental and rush about in our hurry-up world.
How often have you stopped to think about the intricate details of your body? It’s interesting how God created the cells with the genes, chromosomes, nucleus, etc. and how those little microscopic things control your looks, the color of your skin, eyes, and hair, control everything about you. Or how perfectly God created you to perform almost any task. That He created you with hands to carry things, feet to walk on, eyes to see, ears to hear, and the ability to communicate.
Yet, this also applies to our spiritual life. We take a lot of things for granted, things that God has given us in His mercy and love. We really have it pretty good: we can go to church unmolested, attend catechism and Young People’s Society, go to Christian schools, own and read our own Bibles and learn more about God. Still, we complain, skip catechism and miss society because “We don’t have enough time” or for some other reason.
And as we go through life we must realize that everything that happens, even down to the minutest detail is done according to God’s plan. For, not a hair can fall from our head unless God wills it. All things are done with an end goal in mind — our eternal salvation. So, when things go our way and when they don’t we must remember in all things to give thanks to God. We must give thanks to Him for caring for us and remember that all things work together for good for them that love God, that are called according to His purpose.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you must defend one of your beliefs and you find yourself at a loss for a reference text?
Many times in the course of one’s life, he will find an opportunity to voice his opinion. When asked to give proof or support for his belief, often one is not able to come up with even one text, much less two or three. And how silly and ridiculous it must seem to see one who is Protestant Reformed and claims to be soundly taught in the Scriptures, floundering around looking for something to back up his belief!
For instance, say you go to a Christian Reformed or public high school and were confronted with a question concerning divorce and remarriage. Would you be able to cite a number of passages off the top of your head where divorce is expressly forbidden, save for the cause of fornication? Would you be able to prove to them that remarriage is wrong, even for the “innocent” party?
Also, suppose the subject of movie attendance came up. Would you be able to explain why it is wrong, and back it up with Scripture? How do you respond about what you do when the same thing is on television?
There are many other areas of life where I think we know what we believe, and know that there are texts proving our position, but cannot give more than a few proofs for our position. These would include such things as labor unions, infant baptism, Lord’s Supper, amillennialism, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and many others. It is a shame that we cannot support our beliefs, especially when one considers that those holding to the erroneous views have plenty of texts committed to memory that seem to support their belief. I think that we should not only know what the Bible teaches, but where it teaches it so that we can better represent our church and our Lord.
There are ways that we can learn these important texts. Through personal Bible study, and faithful attendance at the worship services. Also, by preparing for, attending, and actively participating in Young People’s society and catechism, church activities set aside especially for the study of the Bible.
The Bible in many places speaks of how we must treat the other members in the church. One of the most frequently used phrases is “love one another.” The Bible also speaks of “brotherly love.” In John 15:12, Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
Yet, a visitor to one of our churches can often see separate little groups of people, cliques. A clique is defined as a small set of persons who cling closely together. Often in a clique, a person from another group is not accepted, and there is an attitude of “I’m better than you are.” I Corinthians 4:7 states: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” In other words, all our talents, money, personalities, all that we have and are comes from God. Therefore, even if we have more talents, more gifts, than another person, we should not think we are better or puff ourselves up with pride because it is all a gift. Because it is a gift, and because the Bible commands that we love one another and let brotherly love continue, cliques are wrong. It isn’t that we can’t be choosy in picking our closest friends, but we shouldn’t act like someone who isn’t one of our friends isn’t welcome.
Also, when someone comes to visit one of our churches, we should talk to them and make them feel welcome. Often, I hear students talking about different churches they visited and that they were impressed with the friendliness of one church or another. This should be the response after someone visits one of our Protestant Reformed churches. In John 13:35, Jesus says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” We, as the youth of the church, should help to make this true of our churches. After someone visits a Protestant Reformed church, they should leave being impressed with the friendly, caring attitude of the church.
Things have changed considerably since the days when our grandparents and parents were our age. For one thing, acceptable clothing for women has changed. Once, it was considered a sin if ankles showed; yet, we have just passed through a time when the mini-skirt was the style. Now, women are seldom seen in dresses, and pantsuits are acceptable almost everywhere; even in church!
Not only has women’s clothing changed, but their whole attitude toward life has changed. According to the ERA, women are men’s equals and deserve equal treatment and opportunities. They feel that they are able to do the work traditionally done by men and do just as well, if not better than the men. The attitudes of men toward women have changed accordingly.
Because of these changes in the attitudes toward women and their roles outside of the church, there is also a change in the attitudes inside the church. More and more there is a trend toward letting the women vote in congregational meetings, and even toward voting women into consistories. In fact, this is already being practiced in some Reformed churches.
The next step, as I see it, is the reason for the title of this article. There are some women in the seminaries studying to be ministers. Although they claim that they only want to study and learn more about the Bible, this will eventually lead to women in the ministry. Hence, “Reverend and Mister Jones.”
The people who are in support of women voting in congregational meetings, as members of consistories, and as ministers, have little that they can even say to prove their point. One text which they quote is Galatians 3:28. This reads: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” They have taken this text out of context. Instead of referring to roles in the church, as they suppose, it refers to salvation, which can be seen when one reads the whole chapter.
Another thing they use for support is the United States Constitution. The Constitution states that all men are created equal, and that also refers to women. I fail to see what significance and bearing this has with regard to the church seeing that the church and state are separate. Also, if this is their support they place more confidence in man (the Constitution) than in God (the Bible).
Finally, they use texts such as I Timothy 2:12 to say that Paul was affected by the times in which he lived. Paul, they say, didn’t want women to teach, but there is nothing wrong now with women teachers. In chapel at Illiana, we had a young man from the Reformed Church say that Paul wrote this because in his days the woman was insignificant and couldn’t teach because she wasn’t educated enough. The same, he claimed, goes for woman’s place in the church when Paul states it is wrong for women to be leaders in the church. What this youth and many people fail to see is that Paul is writing about the teaching office of the ministry and not about teaching in schools. Also, claiming that Paul was affected by the time and age in which he lived or that the Bible is cultural, is denying the infallibility of the Bible, which is much worse than placing women in places of authority in the church.
There are many texts which prove our stand on this matter. I Corinthians 14:34, 35 states that the woman must keep silence in the church and that it is a shame for women to speak in the church. I Timothy 2:11, 12 states that the woman’s place is to learn in silence with subjection and that a woman should not take the teaching role of the ministry or usurp authority, which she would do when she voted or as a member of the consistory. In I Timothy 3, the requirements of elder and deacons are listed, one of which is the husband of one wife. In I Corinthians 11:3 the Bible states that the head of the woman is the man. The woman is to be in subjection to the man, not have authority over him, which authority she would have as a voting member of the church.
We, as young people in this day and age, should know the truth concerning this and stand up for what we know to be the truth. We should show others the error their belief and stand firm in the faith; we are the future church of Jesus Christ and we must see to it that the truth is not lost!
Recently, the Federation Board sent out a letter to the Young People’s Societies with regard to the youths’ attitude toward the elderly members in the congregation. I would like to apply this not only to the elderly in the congregation, but also to the young person’s attitude toward grandparents. How often haven’t we heard such remarks as: “My grandfather is 85; he’s senile,” or “My grandmother likes to come over and tell me what to do.” Recently, in a class in school, a teacher asked the students to ask their grandparents or someone they knew who was at least 65 about the Depression of 1929. He was immediately greeted with moans and groans and complaints about these grandparents and how “odd” they were. What a terrible reaction for a Christian!
The Bible calls us to honor our parents. This is not done by complaining about their deeds. Proverbs 23:22 calls us to obey our fathers and not despise our mothers when they are old. This also applies to our grandparents and the elderly in the congregation. In Colossians 3:20 we are told that the Lord is pleased when are obey our parents (grandparents). The Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day XXXIX states: “That I show all honor, love and fidelity to my father and mother, and all in authority over me (grandparents and elders), and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities; since it pleases God to govern us by their hand.’’
We should, in the tradition of the Old Testament, show due respect and honor to the elderly by visiting them. James exhorts us to visit the fatherless and widows, and included in this thought is the elderly! By doing this we experience the communion of the saints.
Not only are grandparents and older people sources of religious knowledge, but also are a good and interesting source of past history and anecdotes that are quite amusing. Ask Grandpa once about what Dad was like as a child. You will receive stories about how he fell out of a tree and broke his arm, or how he burned down the chicken coop when he was five and sent all the chickens scurrying around. Or, I’m sure that he would be glad to tell you about your uncles and aunts and the strange little habits that they had. Grandparents are a great source of amusing little tidbits that help you understand how things were when your parents were young. Also, they know a lot about the past history of the church and things that happened in church. My favorite is the one that was recently told to me about Professor Hoeksema when he was a minister in our South Holland Church. It was summer and, because of the heat, the windows were open. The Professor (then Reverend) was preaching when a hornet flew in and landed on his suitcoat. He very calmly reached into his pocket, took out his handkerchief, and caught the hornet, folded his handkerchief, put it back into his pocket, and never missed a word of his sermon. Or have you heard the one about Reverend VanBaren? When he was a seminarian and was preaching in the old South Holland church, he stumbled as he was going up the stairs to the platform. The first song the congregation sang was “The Lord upholds the faltering feet.” I’m sure your grandparents and older members in your congregation can add to these humorous incidents from their past.
Visiting the elderly should be a joyous occasion for us as we benefit from their spiritual knowledge and learn from their experiences.
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