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Ephesians 5:15 and 16: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Several weeks ago, as I was looking at my mail, I discovered a brown and tan envelope from Beacon Lights. Before I even opened it, I said to myself, “They’re probably asking me to write an article. Well, I don’t have time to write an article. I just don’t have time!” But as I read the letter asking me to write an article about the Christian’s use of time, a wave of guilt swept over me and I knew that I did have time to write an article for the magazine of our Protestant Reformed youth. We, as young people, and all God’s chil­dren around us, must constantly be re­minded that we are creatures of time, that life is short, and that we are called to redeem that time.

God is a God of eternity, but in order that his creatures might have an orderly life, God created another creature — time. What is that creature of God? Superficially, of course, we may define time as the succes­sion of moments. Perhaps because of the mysterious nature of time, we find that it is rather impossible to define. There are several characteristics, however, that we should notice. It is a reality of which we are constantly reminded, with which we are always in contact. Yet, the more we contemplate it, the more mysterious and incomprehensible it is. Let us say, first, that it is itself a creature. Time was created by God in the beginning, distinct from the Eternal, the Creator of time. This creature is not a bit of the Creator, time not a bit of eternity; rather, creature and Creator, time and eternity, are essentially ­different.

Secondly, time is the undeniable and in­escapable characteristic and law and bond of all that is created. Time is the stream on which we are borne continually, always advancing, never returning, showing us the scene once and not again. Time is that invisible and often unnoticed stream that flows on and we with it: it picks us up at our first moment, speeds ahead through childhood, youth, the strength of life, old age, and lays us down in the rest of death.

Thus we see time as an opportunity, the full measure of God-given opportunities and occasions to walk in those good works which He has prepared for us. Time brings all those opportunities and occasions and whether we grasp the opportunity or not, snatches it away and it never returns.

That time we are called to redeem, that is, to pay a ransom or a price. We must do this with respect to the full measure of the opportunities to walk in the works which God has prepared for us as they are brought to us in time. We must seize them, make the most of them, get all we can out of time, and use them for the glory of God.

In our entire walk, in everything we do, we must walk as children of light, not as fools, but as wise. It is a fool who cannot judge reality and time in the light of eternity; his wisdom is of the earth; his life is filled with eating, drinking and en­joyment. He is a slave of himself, of pleasure, of lust, of vain glory.

We, too, by nature are fools, although in principle we are wise because we are redeemed. And so through all our life we continually hear questions ringing in our ears. “Where shall I go — to society or to that important game? What shall I do tonight — finish my homework or watch that good movie that’s been advertised for so long? What shall I read — the Standard Bearer or that paperback novel I picked up the other day? What will be my enter­tainment on Friday night — should I join the world for a few drinks in one of their bars, or maybe see one of their latest movies? Where will I be this summer during the P.R.Y.P. convention? How will I use my time at that convention?”

I have cited several situations which may and do arise in our walk, but we must remember that our walk in life is more than scattered examples to which we must give special consideration. Rather, we must realize that our walk is a whole outlook, a whole system of priorities. We have to walk circumspectly, and carefully, not carelessly and at loose ends, carried along and tossed about in the maelstrom of this world. With each step that we take along the pathway of life, we must ask ourselves, “What is important to me?” and then, “What must be important to me?” And because our 1973 convention is only a short time away, we should ask ourselves another question, “Am I going to this con­vention willing to use my time as the world uses it, even though I am separate from them? Or do I have a wholehearted desire to use my time to strengthen my own faith and the faith of others?”

Perhaps you hear the voice of the fool answering loudly, “I am going to this con­vention to have fun. I am going to skip society to see that game. I’ll read my new novel instead of the Standard Bearer.” And then you ask yourself, “How do I make the right alternative important to me?” And the answer is found in prayer, in instruction, in God’s Word, in fighting against that old man of sin. Step by step we watch — pray­ing — that we fall not into temptation. We pray that God will strengthen us to do the right, correct us for our iniquity, and keep us from falling into the hands of the enemy.

Why is it so important that we use our time properly? We have only a few years and we are seriously called in God’s Word to use those few years of our lifetime to serve God for preparation for serving him perfectly in eternity. Psalm 39 shows us this importance in verses four and five: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity’.”

And because we have such a small be­ginning, it is so easy to follow the tempta­tions of the world, and to be pulled in by the suction of things below. There are enemies and pits, snares and stumbling blocks; there are anxiety and sorrow, cares and troubles. And all these forces work against our small beginning. They allure and they threaten; they tempt us to be lax and faithless; they pull us down into the depths of anxiety and care.

So we must fight against those tempta­tions by seeing that we walk circumspectly. We have to put on the armor of God and fight the battle of faith. And we must pray with the psalmist David: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry: hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence and be no more” (Psalm 39:12 and 13).

“Facing the Issues” by William J. Frutza and Philip Di Cicco published by Baker Book House.

Facing the Issues is the first book in the Contemporary Discussion Series. It contains thirteen interesting articles on relevant issues such as body transplants, creation of life, therapeutic abortion, and fashion and clothes. The purpose of the book is to enlighten and guide the reader concerning current issues.

Each article begins by stating facts (for the most part accurate) and supplying quotes from various religious magazines. Next, there follows a section of Bible verses related to the issues. The final section asks ten to fourteen thought-provoking questions intended to stimulate discussion and help the reader come to a conclusion.

One should not use this book as his only guide for discussion. Although for the most part accurate, it does not treat all the issues from a very Scriptural, antithetical point of view. To illustrate my point, I’ll quote a few sentences from the article on therapeutic abortion. “Scripture is silent on the direct question of abortion. Perhaps the closest Scripture passage related to the subject is Exodus 21:22-25, in which the writer implies that the fetus is not considered human.” And a little further on, “The silence of Scripture on matters related to prenatal life forces us to speculate, draw opinions, and make inferences.” In the light of Prof. Hanko’s thorough and informative series on abortion in The Standard Bearer, this article seems to have drastically missed the point.

Although this book has its faults, it also would be very useful for discussion. The questions at the end of each article, suggest problems which, perhaps, we too often avoid with, “It doesn’t personally concern me.” The approach taken to some of the issues is rather different from the approaches most of us have heard and discussed in Young Peoples’ Societies. Part of the reason discussion lags in some societies is because all the young people have subjected these issues to thought and discussion before, and therefore the matter is closed; there is no more to say. But if a member of a society began posing a few problems from this book, the discussion would lag no longer. All that is necessary is that the society leader or a member buys a copy of this book and uses it well. A society might soon find itself deep in discussion on a matter that was closed long ago!

Three Letters From Prison
By john H. Schaal
Baker Book House, 149 pages, $2.95
Three Letters From Prison by John H. Schaal is a book written about three of the letters which Paul wrote while in prison, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. The book is divided into sixteen lessons, each of which is followed by a series of questions for study. The author in his writing again portrays the modern gospel. He speaks of the brotherhood of all men and also of Arminianism. He presents the modern double talk of the human responsibility of accepting Christ of which we hear so much today. However, our young people would find many of the thoughts of this book helpful in their Bible discussions in society.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 3 May 1970

Suggestions and Materials for Young People’s Programs
By Flora E. Breck
Baker Book House, 74 pages, $1.50
This book was written to aid leaders in leading youth in their programs and singspirations. Each program has a theme, featuring Scripture references, incidents, prayers, and hymn titles appropriate to the theme. But it also features Arminian tendencies, the come-and-accept-Christ kind of sentiment. Young people are called to give testimony, something which only adds to the sentiment of the book, and a thing which Protestant Reformed young people do not practice at their meetings. I think my reader can gather from what has been said that this book would serve no good purpose to ministers, society leaders, or young people of the Protestant Reformed churches.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970

Who’s Out of Focus?
By Daniel R. Seagren
Baker Book House, 103 pages, $1.50
Who’s Out of Focus? by Daniel Seagren is a book written in conversational form, divided into three parts. Part one deals with life on the campus, and includes twelve conversations, each two pages long. Part two presents ten dialogues concerning life around the house. The last part consists of sixteen conversations which speak of the establishment. Its purpose is to prevent “fuzzy” thinking and cause youth to arrive at conclusions based on God’s Word. It discusses such issues as campus reform, drugs, race differences, movies, and drinking, the same issues Protestant Reformed young people discuss at societies, retreats, and conventions. But we certainly don’t use the same approach as does the author. We open the Bible, and say, “This is God’s Word and this is our basis for believing what we do.” We don’t want such sensational titles as “Basketball for Jesus” or “Beat the Heat with Pastor Pete.” We want the truth directly from God’s Word, not in dialogues portraying sin and finally ending with no conclusion drawn.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970

1800 Quippable Quips
By E. C. McKenzie
Baker Book House, 81 pages, $1.00
This book written by E. C. McKenzie is an amusing book, full of jokes, puns, and sayings relative to life in the world as it is today. Although some of these quips joke about serious matters such as religion and marriage, they speak volumes about human nature and the modern world, and therefore might prove interesting and informative to our young people.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970

A Very Present Help
By Douglas A. Elliot
Baker Book house, 27 pages, $.50
A Very Present Help is the name given to a booklet of suggested prayers to be prayed while one is in the hospital. There are fifteen prayers, each based on a verse from the Bible. On the whole, these prayers very well express the needs of a Christian patient. But again, this author goes along with modern tendency in using the second person in addressing God. There is one other thing that a Christian could not pray for, and that is fellow patients and doctors. We know that many are not God’s children, so we should not pray for them. However, the basic ideas of this booklet are Reformed.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970

Tongues, Healing and You
By Don Hillis
Baker Book House, 63 pages, $1.00

Tongues, Healing and You, by Don Hillis is a book which discusses the problem of tongues and healing in the world today. The author divided his book into two parts, one dealing with tongues, the other with healing. Since the church has the Holy Spirit in its heart and is not concerned with the present emphasis on tongues and healing, we would not find this book worthwhile to have in our homes.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 10 February 1970

The Bible Quiz Book
By Frederick Hall
Baker Book House, 140 pages, $1.50

This book written by Frederick Hall is divided into seven sections, each presenting a different type of quiz. Included in these sections are quizzes about different characters from the Bible, true or false quizzes and questions about retold stories. All but a few of these questions have correct answers. This is due to the fact that in a few cases the author took the higher critical point of view. We, who accept the Bible by faith, could not subscribe to these answers. However, I recommend using this book of it is used with discretion.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 10 February 1970

We Need You Here, Lord—Prayers From the City
By Andrew W. Blackwood, Jr.
Baker Book House, 124 pages, $3.95

This book is a collection of prayers prayed by the author, pastor of the Covenant Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Georgia. These prayers come close to being profane. They speak of nothing soundly Reformed, minimizing our salvation, the focal point of our lives. Instead these prayers emphasize and condone the Social Gospel and the small things of life. They are characterized by the informal and flippant “talking to God” that we hear so much of today. There is no doubt in my mind that this book has no place in a covenant home.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 10 February 1970

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

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Judah: A Story of Redemption

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021.   The story of Judah is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. We often overlook this history because it is nestled in the middle of the story of Joseph. All the […]

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Author Interview: “Through Many Dangers”

M. Kuiper, Through Many Dangers (Jenison: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2021)   Through Many Dangers is a work of Christian, historical fiction that has just been released this summer by the RFPA. The book is written especially for young people and details the story of a group of Dutch Reformed boys who serve in the […]

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