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Although the afternoon sunshine rested its rays upon the back of a young man as he sat outside on his front steps, he simply cringed and remained determined to keep a scowl on his face. When the soft breeze ruffled through his hair, he would lift his hand and force it back down. Nothing seemed to be able to change the attitude of this bitter young man.

It seemed to Philip that there was no one in the world who had a life as horrible as his own. Consumed with self-pity, he had come to the point where he asked his loved ones to just leave him alone. Sure he would have his good days, but whenever he thought everything was going ok, it would all blow up in his face. Bills, health concerns, depression, all these things overwhelmed him and always put him on edge. How would his life ever get back on track? He hadn’t realized how hard it was really going to be.

Philip had grown up in church. As a child he would sing his little heart out during the congregational singing, and he even begged to be in the church choir when he was only 10 years old. At the age of 18, he made confession of faith and became a Sunday School teacher. His parents were so grateful to the Lord for his unfailing guidance in their son’s life as well as their own.

The college years approached, and Philip decided to go to a college nearby but rent a room in a large house where other college kids were living. He wanted to experience life with all its responsibilities and no parents watching his every move. Philip failed to realize how great temptation becomes when freedom is at hand. He was going to be tried and tested like he’d never been before.

Well, around the time of the winter semester of his Freshman year, Philip began to hang out with his roommates. They were all a year or two older than Philip and were always trying to sway him in the wrong direction. Philip knew better, but he finally gave in and said he wouldn’t mind going to a party with them to see what all the hype was about.

At first everything seemed cool; the lights were dim and people were standing throughout the house talking and eating. As they moved through other rooms of the house, the sights became more strange and amiss. Philip’s heart began to beat faster and faster as they went from one area to another. The first room was full of people moving to loud, almost unbearable music; the second room had a few kegs of beer on a table and everyone around them was either laughing hysterically, sleeping on the floor, or slurring as they talked to themselves or someone nearby; the last room was dark, only candles lit up the area. In the center of the room there was a circle of people, each of them had a glass plate and razor blade in front of them, a few rolling papers and some weedy-looking plant, or little glass containers with some sort of liquid in them. The aroma in the room was so sweet it almost took Philip’s breath away. He’d never seen anything like this before. Everything was quiet until someone stormed out of the closet screaming and yelling at someone or something that wasn’t even there. One of Philip’s roommates saw the look of confusion and fear on his face, so he explained, “Oh, don’t worry about him. He’s just having a trip. It’s really weird what some of this stuff can do to you. It really plays on your mind, but at the same time it’s really cool because it helps you escape the realities of life for a little.”

“Hey, come on, guys! Have a seat and join us— we’re just getting started.”

It wasn’t long and Philip and the guys were on the floor with the others. Philip’s best friend sat beside him and showed him how it was done.

Throughout the rest of his college career, Philip attended the same kind of parties every weekend and rarely made visits home. His parents were beginning to worry about him; even when they did see him, he was always quite distant, very moody, and extremely tired. They would confront him about his lack of devotion to church and the family, but he would simply shrug them off and head back to his roommates.

Lost amidst the wickedness and corruption of this sinful world, Philip only got himself deeper and deeper into the darkness. It wasn’t until he was at the very edge of the cliff, that he finally realized how close he was to falling over and under. Philip was at a party one Saturday night with his friends. They were all participating in the usual drug-related activities. Philip was sitting beside his best friend, who was participating a little more than usual. Philip didn’t say anything, but he was starting to get a little scared when everyone else stopped and his friend kept going. That night, Philip and his friend got in the car and headed home. His roommate insisted on driving because he didn’t want anyone’s hands on his shiny, new Camaro but his own.

Philip lost his best friend that night. He turned in front of a car going over 50 mph, and his side of the car was crushed, and he died almost instantly. Philip spent the next few days in the hospital recovering from minor injuries, but the pain in his heart wasn’t going to heal very easily. He was placed in rehab and when he was released, he thought his life would be great. He only had one semester of college left and after that he could pursue a career. Philip knew he had to move on and leave his past behind him. He knew the memories would always remain vivid in his mind, but he learned to lean on the Lord in his times of heartache and trouble. He began to study the Scriptures again and attend church regularly. He had wasted 3 years of his life. The Lord had touched his heart. Philip knew that through God-given strength, he would make it.

The sun began to set in the distance. Philip stood up and walked inside the front door of his home. He sat at the kitchen table and began to read the 23rd Psalm from the Bible:

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside still waters, he restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

It wasn’t going to be easy living with the consequences of his youth, but Philip knew he was going to have to face the responsibility. His real comfort came in knowing that the Lord would be with him every step of the way…he wouldn’t have to make the journey alone.

Philip folded his hands in prayer as the sun’s fading rays rested on his face for a mere moment, then disap­peared below the trees.

“Lord, remember not the sins of my youth…”

II Thessalonians 2:13-14 – “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Amid each passing day, Lucas felt a void in his life but most of all in his heart. He would wake up every morning with an empty feeling inside him; the worst of all was when he had a problem he had to face – sure, he had a family to help him through, but it still felt as if he were alone. He was unable to understand.

As time moved on, frustration grew within Lucas, and he promised himself he would find the solution to his emptiness. He knew deep down what that solution was, but he failed to acknowledge the Truth.

On a warm, sunny Sunday morning, Lucas and his younger siblings, along with his parents, piled in the car and headed for church. Lucas had attended church since birth, but now that he was getting older, he found it hard to drag himself out of bed at 8 a.m. to get ready for a long sermon and lots of singing. Lucas refused to see the importance of listening to the message of God and applying it to his life. This Sunday was different, though. The order of worship was the same, but as the entire congregation sang, Lucas felt something within his heart. His eyes were opened by the power of the Holy Spirit, and as he read the words he was singing, he began to understand why he had been feeling so lonely; it was because the Lord had not been the center of his life, for without God nothing is quite as wonderful as when He is present in your life and heart.

Never before had Lucas felt something so magnificent. He prayed that this warm, reassuring feeling would survive for eternity, even though he knew his heart was so sinful. Throughout the rest of the service, Lucas was attentive to the Word of God, and he took every syllable to heart in an attempt to apply it to his life. He continued to do this every Sunday while praying for guidance every day and night. He realized the importance of believing and understanding God’s Word.

As a result of his spiritual growth, the hand of God brought Lucas to the point of longing to become a member of God’s Church. Not long after, Lucas was beginning to understand the Scriptures and his beliefs through the instruction of the minister but above all, through the work of the Holy Spirit; this development of his spiritual life brought him an unlimited amount of happiness and contentment. Each new day brought forth a greater sense of fulfillment in his heart.

Lucas had received the wonderful gift of salvation through the graciousness of the Lord and through the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart which generated his belief in Jesus Christ. Lucas had been predestined by God to be one of His children; for that, Lucas and each one of us can be nothing but grateful and look forward to eternal life with the Lord in Heaven when our time on earth has been fulfilled.

Philippians 2:12 & 13—“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

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Mindy is a member of Kalamazoo Protestant Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In the midst of the darkness of the night, there appeared a light that filtered through the trees and down a pathway in order to make itself known to a wandering young woman. Her steps slowed to a pace that allowed her deep, blue eyes to focus on this light ahead as her mind filed through its possible sources.

The intensity of the light seemed to fade and strengthen as she walked on, but it never fully dis­appeared. When the light became dim, the path on which she was traveling was not as easy to follow. Once in awhile she lost sight of the light and the path completely only to realize the importance of keeping focused on her guide. Often, when she had lost track of her destination, she would encounter obstacles such as deep holes in the ground beneath her feet that she would stumble over, and large limbs she had to climb in order to move on. She would also experience fear soon after she lost touch with the light. It was then, through her helpless tears, that she began to pray for guidance and not long after, the light would once again appear before her eyes. She knew that the source of this light was the Lord.

Through it all she had faith that she would make it to the end. There were times when it seemed as if the end would never come but during these times she prayed to the Lord and through His unfailing guidance she received the strength and trust she needed to continue her journey. Even when the darkness around her seemed to be closing in and clutching onto her, she would lean on the Lord and depend on His light to carry her away from the cold grasp of the darkness.

At last she was approaching the final steps of her journey. The road was long and had brought about quite a few changes; during the course of this journey she had lost her youth and approached the hardships of growing old. It had been an experience she would always hold within the deepest corners of her soul, for it had brought her closer to the Lord and His love for her had become so real.

As her last step was taken, the light grew so strong that the woman fell weakly to the ground and shielded her eyes with her wrinkled hand. Her eyelids dropped and her breath was gradually taken away, but at the same time an old life was fading a new life was forming from the soul and through the work of the Lord. The weakness and frailty of human life was being replaced with the beauty and strength of the life to come. With her heart full of peace and happiness, a smile remained on the woman’s face as if she knew her time had finally come.

When her eyes were opened, all was new. The light was still before her, but now her eyes could see—the light was Jesus Christ standing before the throne of God in all His radiance and glory with His arms outstretched to receive her into His Heavenly Kingdom through a loving embrace. She had reached her destination. Never again would a single, painful tear ever escape from her deep, blue eyes.

II Peter 3:13 “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness.”

 

Mindy is a member of Kalamazoo Protestant Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

As I search through the years of my life, I realize the importance of the Lord and His unfailing guidance. I journey through the memories, each containing the presence of the Lord within them. Not a day of my life has ever gone by without the Lord in it to lead me and protect me each step of the way.

I am steadily traveling through my teenage years. Supposedly, these are the hardest years of my life. During these years, I will face many more problems and decisions which I can add to the list of the ones I have already confronted. I do not face these situations alone. No matter what the problem or how hard the decision, my heavenly Father is always beside me leading me in the right direction, the direction He feels is best for me.

Through sickness and health, the Lord is near unto me. He will not leave me or abandon me. He provides me with the strength I need to make it through. When I am tired and weak, He is there beside me, cradling my hand gently within His own.

As my fingers glide lightly over the pictures held within our photo album, I begin to search for the ones when I was like a newly planted tree, not yet fully grown. So much was uncertain. So much was yet to be learned. The path that lay before me was misty and unknown. How tall would I become? What would I look like? Which road would I travel? These questions would all be answered as I grew, but God knew. He knew where my feet would walk and on what ground I would stand, but no one else did. I’m sure my parents prayed that I would travel down the right path, but they could not determine the result. God did, and although I have grown, I am yet to grow some more, not necessarily physically but spiritually.

My favorite and most cherished Bible verse is Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him,”

I look at this verse and realize I have nothing to fear, for the Lord is with me and through the guidance of the Father my feet will travel down the straight and narrow pathway. There may be bumps and road blocks but I will make it through. Each unexpected curve I stumble upon will become a bearable obstacle, for in all things, the Lord has provided me with His guidance, His strength, and His protection.

I will continually pray for the Lord to lead me and help me, and through faith and trust in Him I will make it through anything I may face. Also, through faith in Him I have grown and will continue to grow into a strong tree, one that will blossom and flourish. My leaves will not wither.

As I look toward the future, my eyes are unable to focus on what lies ahead because the fog is too thick. I do not know what the days to come will bring, but I do know that through the guidance of the Father my feet will continue to carry me down the straight and narrow pathway which leads to eternal glory with Him.

 

Mindy is a member of Kalamazoo Protestant Reformed Church.

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

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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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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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