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Dear Unmarried Friend,

When you hear the words “unmarried and caring for the things of the Lord,” what thoughts arise? I will share some of mine. It appears that this pathway may be lonely. Will I be able to experience the fullness of life in Christ without marriage? Do I have the gift of remaining unmarried? I love the thought of dedicating my life to caring for the things of the Lord. I do sometimes wish someone would put together a list of what it all entails. Let’s delve into the unmarried who care for the things of the Lord.

Single. That is the term used today. I prefer the biblical word “unmarried.” Why? The word “single” holds the stigma of being by yourself and alone. No one likes the thought of being alone, and your ears sometimes ring with what God said in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Just remember that God also inspired Paul to say in 1 Corinthians 7:7, “I would that all men were even as I myself.”

You may be unmarried, but you are not alone! Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:20). Our bridegroom has come and purchased his bride. Ephesians 5:23–27 tells us what marriage pictures: the church being subject to Christ, her head, who is savior of the body, who loves her and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her by the word, that he might present her to himself, glorious, holy, and without blemish. Christ loves his church as himself, cherishing her and joining her unto himself. Understand that a piece of the puzzle is not missing for the unmarried. Marriage is only a picture of what you already have in Christ. You are part of his body, and all the members work intimately together in that one body for the building up of it (Eph. 4:16). Earthly marriage will pass away, but fellowship with Christ and his bride will continue forever.

My friend, each child of God goes through an unmarried state, whether for a time, or for life. If you are looking forward with hope to marriage, I do not ask you to give up that good desire. Be sure to bring it before the Lord, but do so following Philippians 4:6–7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” God will keep you in the time of waiting. He is using it to refine you, causing you to seek his face, cultivating a deeper walk with him. Make him your focus. You want to please him!

Let’s talk about caring for the things of the Lord. Remember this is your calling from God, so don’t fritter it away with selfish pursuits. Caring for the things of the Lord always starts with God’s word. You have been given time to know your God and behold him. Second Corinthians 3:18 states, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” God will transform you as you spend time in his word. Being in his word involves going to church and hearing the preaching, participating in Bible studies, and doing your own personal studies. God delights to show himself to you, and he teaches you to delight in what he delights in. As you read the word, examine yourself to see your strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that all you have is the Lord’s and is to be used in his service. Also, you are not merely to care for those things that look glamorous, but for all the things that belong to the Lord. Many will be small and unseen tasks for you to do “heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Col. 3:23).

As you spend time in the word of God, be sure to observe and listen to your church family, and you will find many, many opportunities to serve the Lord. I will go through a few examples for you. A weary mother talks about being up all night with her baby. Tell her you have some free time and ask her what you can do to help. You see newcomers at church. Take time to chat with them and invite them out for coffee to talk about your faith. You know an elderly lady lives alone, and so you offer to help her with mowing her lawn. Ushers are needed, so when asked, you usher. A Beacon Lights or Federation Board position opens, and you step in. Pastors and teachers are needed, so you prayerfully consider those vocations. A piano player or organist is needed at church, so you volunteer. There are those who are sick and dying, those marrying, and those with new babies at church. You write them little notes of encouragement. When you hear of hardships in another’s life, you pause for a moment and pray for them or with them. There is so much room for an unmarried child of God to dedicate time to prayer, as did Anna, the prophetess.

I could make a longer list, but I trust that as you spend time in the word, you will be transformed and will learn to apply what God delights in to your daily walk. I wanted someone to write a list of “to-dos” for me, yet the more time I spent in the word, the more I began to understand, first, that simply being in the word is caring for the things of the Lord. David said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord…to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). God delights in your beholding his beauty and speaking to him! Second, God uses his word to open you to opportunities of service that abound all around you! As you read God’s word and pray, he will open your eyes to the multiple ways of service you may have missed before.

In summary, my dear unmarried friend, know you are not alone but belong to your faithful savior, Jesus Christ. Use the gift of undistracted time God has given you to be in his word, beholding his beauty, and praying for ways to serve. Invest yourself in the life of your church family! God provides so many little daily opportunities when you pay attention and are willing to care for the things that belong to him. Remember what belongs to the Lord. Is it not his precious people who belong to him? Serve him by serving his bride! Know that whether you marry or not, one day your Bridegroom is coming back for his bride, and the full reality of marriage will be yours forever. As you wait, abound in caring for the things that belong to and please the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

 

Originally published June 2021, Vol 80 No 6

Wispy tendrils of rising mist,

Rainbow droplets by sunlight kissed;

Hushed peace, a stillness oh so sweet,

As scenes slowly dance forth and meet.

 

A peaceful new morn is arrayed,

New mercies lovingly displayed.

Gently our Lord’s presence is known,

His lovingkindness sweetly shown.

 

Heavy eyelids softened in awe

Behold scenes unfold without flaw.

World weary traveler is still

As joy anew his soul doth thrill!

 

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

 

Have you ever had it where you were in a dark mood, and within a matter of moments your gloomy thoughts were extinguished as a sunny tune filled the air?  How about when you were in a sunny mood, and a slow sad melody was played, and quickly melancholy took over?  We have all have had these kinds of feelings to one extent or another.  Music has a major effect on us.  Each song is put to a tune to portray the emotions it intends to raise within a person when sung.  God has created us to be an emotional people who show passion through the songs that we sing.  He has called us to sing and make melody in our hearts to praise his most holy name.  We are given the gift of music to glorify and extol our great and glorious God.

But the devil is sly.  Don’t ever underestimate him.  He constantly seeks to twist our emotions away from our calling by cunningly using this good gift of God and twisting it so that it becomes a perversion of what is good. Our own human natures help him along in this perversion.  Many tunes are very pleasing to the ear, and thus we pay no mind to the words.  We hear songs on the radio with lyrics that would burn our faces with shame and embarrassment if they were simply spoken to us by another person.  But put to a catchy tune, we often find ourselves humming along.  The words of that song soon follow along and are quickly imbedded within our minds. The devil now has this corruption right where he wants it.  It is only a matter of time before we find ourselves singing along with the world who hates the God we are called to praise.

Scripture tells us that what comes out of our mouths represents what is in our hearts.  NEVER forget that.  What we thought was just a harmless catchy tune to hum along with becomes a song that we sing and has become a sin within our hearts.  The devil laughs as our human natures latch hold.  He now has a foothold within our hearts, and we all know that once a door is opened to the devil, he as a roaring lion will pounce, seeking to devour us.  What started as a simple catchy tune now fills our minds with corruption.  Evil thoughts grow deeper as we allow ourselves to wallow in this sin.  This happens with every sin we fall into.  When we permit Satan to open a door to our hearts, and do not turn from the sin, he will push us away from our Lord God who has saved us.  Satan is filled with glee as we turn our attention from heavenly praise and instead praise and extol man and his sinful lusts of the flesh.  So quickly we are turned away from God and ensnared within the hold of sin from which we have been freed.

Young people, let us not give the glory of our great God whose name is to be extoled above all to sinful man and his lustful, prideful self.  This is exactly what we do when we find ourselves singing along with the worldly songs of today.  Thus we displease the God who has saved us that we might praise and extol his name in adorationWhen we sing worldly songs we give the devil access to our hearts where the Lord Jesus Christ dwells by his Spirit. The more access we give the devil, the softer comes the voice of Christ’s Spirit, until we no longer even feel the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ within us.  You may think I am taking this too far, but read Ephesians 5:19.  Then read the verse before.  Notice how being filled with the Spirit is directly connected with speaking to ourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and singing and making melody in our hearts before the Lord.  If we are speaking in worldly language, and singing the songs of man and his lusts, we will be doing the exact opposite of being filled with the Spirit and will in turn silence him.

We often tend to excuse ourselves and say that it is just a catchy tune and the words aren’t really that bad, or just because we sing along with a song or two it won’t lead us away from Christ.  Yes, it will!  We may not feel it at first, but it is always those first steps that when they aren’t repented of, lead to a deeper falling away and departing from the Lord who has saved us.  When we listen to and sing those songs of the world, they will have a negative effect, and as we continue to sing them, we will lose our focus on heaven where God dwells, and our hearts will be filled with carnal, earthly thoughts.

Scripture tells us in Psalm 34:14, “Depart from evil and do good.” This includes in the area of what we listen to and sing.  What are some very practical ways we can do this?  From the negative, first of all, we must get rid of those worldly songs.  I challenge all of us to throw out those worldly CDs, delete those songs off of our iPods, and take off the worldly albums created on Pandora Radio and such similar websites.  We must turn off the radio stations that spew forth the lusts of the flesh and must change our presets.  There is no better time to do so than the present.  This is the point where it pricks us to acknowledge that we do listen to corrupting music and need to change.  Satan would have us laugh here and minimize the evil of having worldly songs in our lives.  He would have us think that we can do this later when we mature more.  No, we must never have that attitude with sinful addictions in our lives.  We must not delay to depart from evil but must do so right away.  Also, we may not do a partial job and figure that is good enough.  No, when we are told to depart from evil we must fully turn away!

In departing from evil, we must not forget that scripture tells us to do good.  From the positive aspect, we must take heed to the command of Ephesians 5:18b and 19: “Be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”.  Once the evil songs are removed we must fill that void with holy songs.  We must be selective even here, because the tendency is to enjoy the secular Christian music, most of which is watered down praises that speak mostly of man and his experience rather than doing justice to extolling the name of our great and glorious God.  We must be jealous for the glory of our great God.  We look for songs fitting for the ears of our Lord God, which properly extol him in all his greatness.  There are many CDs put out each year by our own Protestant Reformed Churches that are very fitting.  There are CDs of Psalm Choir, Hope Heralds, CCHS choirs, and the list goes on.    We must dare buy them, to play them in the midst of peer pressure that tells us to conform to the ways of the world, and even when our fellow brothers and sisters wrongly mock us for our “pious songs”, we must not be ashamed.  Rather we count it a privilege to sing these precious songs of our Redeemer.

As we remove the filthy songs of this world, and fill our ears with the blessed songs of Zion, we will start to hum them, making melodies in our hearts. These melodies in our hearts will direct our thoughts to the treasures of heaven; and we will break forth in songs that witness of hearts filled with the Spirit of God, full of adoration for our great and glorious God.

*Monica serves on the Beacon Lights staff and is a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, MI.

Swirling, twirling, beautiful to witness,

Landing gently with covering swiftness.

Carried by the wind of him who breathes forth.

Glist’ning, Settling South, East, West, or North.

 

No knowing where it has resolved to stay,

Swooping here and there, perfect in its way,

Generously bestowing its light cloak

On manifold vessels, with caring stroke.

 

Broken mute vessels of filth and decay

Now arrayed, spark’ling with the Light of Day.

Heavn’ly illuminations pure and bright

Craft reflections, an iridescent sight.

Have you ever taken a good look at the name of this conference?  I would like you to take a moment to do so now.  That name describes the conference so perfectly.   It is British, but I am more interested in the Reformed and Fellowship aspect.  As we gathered together at this conference we truly and deeply experienced that Reformed fellowship.  We took sweet counsel together and grew in our Reformed understanding of the truth.  We learned much about the end times, and also developed together in our knowledge of the glory of our sovereign God who has called his children out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

What a diversity of people came to this conference! People came from Hungary, USA, Northern Ireland, England, Republic of Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, and Wales.  There were different races, nationalities, ages, and backgrounds. And yet what a striking and beautiful unity found was found.  I am sure we all came with somewhat different ideas of what we would hear, see, and learn.  I cannot speak for others, but for myself this conference has certainly surpassed any preconceived notions I had.  How can one put into mere human words the glory of God revealed during the conference week?  In Exodus 33:18, Moses requested of God, “shew me thy glory.” God’s response in verse 19 was, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee…”.  God then proceeded to show Moses his goodness by proclaiming who he was, the “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Ex 34:6b–7a). This is our Lord God who was proclaimed to us through the conference speeches and the sweet fellowship enjoyed at the BRF conference.

The conference was held this year from July 16-23, at Castlewellan Castle, a Christian Conference Center in Newcastle, Northern Ireland.  The setting itself was beautiful. The castle was a regal structure set up on a hill overlooking a lake that shimmered often with all the sunshine God provided during the week there.  In the distance beyond the lake, mountains arose, creating a majestic view from the castle.  There was a beautiful garden filled with a striking variety of plants, and behind the castle were trails that led to higher, vaster views of the surrounding countryside and rolling green hills.  To me the beautiful views that we experienced during this week were a bonus feature adding to an already incredible week.

The theme of the BRF Conference this year was “Behold I Come Quickly: The Reformed Biblical Truth of the End.”  There were six main speeches, three by Rev. Andy Lanning and three by Prof. David Englesma.  There were also a few interesting bonus speeches added as well.  Many questions concerning the end times were answered.  The following are just a few of them.  What is the difference between premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism?  Is the period of 1,000 years literal? What is the significance of 3 ½ years at the end?  Why is the view of the rapture wrong?  Why must there be a great apostasy at the end?  Who is the beast from the land and who is the beast from the sea?  How must we live in the end times?  Who are the two witnesses of Revelation 11?  Why must these witnesses be overcome at the end?  What is our hope with regard to the end times?  If you have the time, I’d advise you to listen to these speeches for yourself. They have been recorded and posted on the CPRC YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/CPRCNI), and are very spiritually profitable and nourishing.

All week long we were fed spiritually as we listened to and discussed these speeches with others, asked questions, and searched the scriptures together for answers.  Discussion flowed freely and the time passed swiftly!  We talked about our faith, listened to one another’s stories and upbringings, and were reminded of the remarkable work of our glorious God who calls his peculiar people out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).  We saw the glory of our Lord God who is merciful and gracious, who is abundant in goodness and truth.  We came from so many different lands and most of us were meeting each other for the first time, yet because of our shared love for God, no one was a stranger.  It was truly a foretaste of heaven, where God’s people from all nations shall be gathered together, united forever in fellowship and worship of our Lord God.

I want to share with you a few personal highlights of mine.  First, I loved the speeches and the discussions that stemmed from them.  Many intriguing thoughts that I hadn’t considered were shared.  A new experience for me was singing the psalms from the Scottish Psalter.  During the conference we sang from this, and also had a few impromptu gatherings to sing from this and also from the 1912 Psalter that we use, which I really enjoyed. Another aspect of the conference that I really valued was mealtime.  Of course, the food was good, but more importantly, I enjoyed sitting by different people during the mealtimes and learning tidbits of their lives: where they were from, their history, where they currently attended church, and how they came into contact with the BRF Conference.  Another new experience for me was staying in an actual castle. How many people can say that they have stayed in a castle?  We also took a few day trips to some of the historic sites of Northern Ireland.  Probably my favorite trip though was an unplanned hike that we did up Mourne Mountains, where we climbed the highest peak in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard.  The company during this week was amazing and the views were awe inspiring!  These are only a few of the countless good memories I have of the time spent in Northern Ireland.

The BRF Conference was an amazing week, richly blessed by the word of God laid open to us in the speeches, with much godly discussion, and sweet fellowship that filled us.  There was a word that a member of the CPRC in Northern Ireland used to describe the conference: feasted.  I have decided to adopt it for my own as well to describe the time spent there.  Together we feasted on good food, on beautiful scenery, on good fellowship, and most importantly on the word of God.  We were filled and were strengthened by the feast that God set before us during this week.  If God provides you with the opportunity to attend the BRF Conference, I encourage you to go.  In this article I could only give you a small, grainy picture of the reality that is experienced when one goes to the BRF Conference.  Perhaps you will have the opportunity to attend the next conference two years from now that is to be held at Hebron Hall in South Wales, for the dates of July 21–28, 2018.  The theme of the conference will focus on the Family.  Mark your calendars now.  Go!  Attend it, and see the glory of our Lord God who gathers his church from all tribes, nations, and tongues.  Enjoy the sweetness of Reformed fellowship experienced at the BRF Conference.

* Monica is a member of the Beacon Lights Staff

My sin and evil is great,

And fills my mind with cruel hate.

This corruption leads to strife,

Bringing troubles to my life.

 

I must look on high for strength,

To God who shows mercy at length.

He who is faithful shall save

From sin’s hold which does enslave.

 

He takes away sin’s power,

Purging me with trials of fire.

All the work is God’s alone,

Worked through Christ who did atone.

 

Although often I do stray

And seek to head down the wrong way,

Yet the Lord does forgive me,

That his great works I might see.

 

He saves me for a purpose,

Delivering me from my dross.

I’m filled with joy to the brim

And thankfulness to him.

 

The mercies he does bestow

Greatly humble and bring me low,

Then lift me to sing his praise,

And to him all glory raise.

How often do we stop to consider our greatest foe, the devil?  God tells us over and over again in scripture to beware of this mighty enemy.  We have a most timely warning to our young people found in I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  Whom do you think the devil targets?  The children of the God whom he hates.  He targets each and every one of us daily.  Do we consider how much hold we let him have when we don’t even consider the fact that he lurks, waiting to pounce at any second?  It takes only one small little turning away from our Father in heaven.  The devil will grab hold of that door that is opened to sin and start to pry it as far open as he is able.  So sly is he that he often uses the word of God itself.  He twists it just slightly so that we think that what we do is ok and agreeable with the word of God.  Young people, beware of this foe!

In order for us to beware of the devil, we must know this mighty foe that we are up against.  We turn to God’s word, which reveals to us exactly who we are up against.  Satan, who was created by God and was made the highest commander in the angelic world, turned against the very God who created him, convincing many angels to follow him, and was cast out of heaven with a significant part of the angelic world. Until Christ accomplished his work on the cross, though, the devil was still allowed access into heaven.  When Satan was finally, fully cast out, the church sang a great song of victory because their adversary was cast out fully, never to return.  The heavens belong to God, but the devil still seeks to make this earth his own.

Young people, we are those who are called to represent the cause of Christ against Satan. We see how he tried to convince even Jesus Christ, our savior, to turn against God.  He slyly twisted God’s word, and had he been able to be successful, it would have resulted in every one of us being destroyed.  We know that he could never have been successful with Christ, but we see how yet today he uses this same ploy on us, saying he will give us the whole world and its pleasures if we will just heed him and bow down to him.  We know from scripture that Satan will never win over God’s elect, but so wicked and hateful of God is he that even though he knows he will never win, yet he tries with all his might to succeed.  Revelation 12 speaks of how the devil knows his time is short, and so now he turns in fury against us, trying to destroy the cause of God.  If we look outwardly at the circumstances of this earth, it appears to be that the devil is succeeding, as the world takes his side.  The apostatizing church also fights on his side against the true church.  The devil often uses our own human natures as well to seek to turn us against God.  He holds before us young people the allurements of this wicked world.  Satan loves it when we go through the motions of being a Christian, but our hearts are not in the right place.  The devil has access to our minds so that he not only shows us how “good” the world is, but whispers the lie in our ears.  Our minds and hearts often dwell on all kinds of corruption.  Satan’s goal is the destruction of God’s children, and he holds great sway and power because of our depraved natures.

How are we to resist this powerful enemy? If it were not for God’s saving work within us, and the guideline he gives us in his word, we would give in and fully succumb to the devil’s rule.  In 1 Peter 5:8 God makes known two specific ways by which we can be sure to resist this great foe of ours.

First, we are called to be sober.   According to the dictionary this means negatively not to be drunk, and positively to be clearheaded.  Of course being sober spiritually will be affected greatly if you are physically drunk all of the time.  You will not be on your guard against Satan, and thus will easily be snared by him.  I want to focus more on the positive aspect, though.  We are to be clearheaded.  This means to see things as they really are, as shown to us in scripture.  We understand that what is real is in heaven and is sitting at God’s right hand.  Our savior who has earned our salvation sits there ruling over the whole world, and in time he will take us also to dwell there with him forever.  We weigh this over against the lie whispered in our ears, as the devil seeks to lead us to find happiness on this earth.  We see that the way the devil leads us is the wide path of ease here below, slipping ultimately down to the pit of destruction.

The other way that we resist, which is closely connected to soberness, is by being vigilant. This, according to the dictionary, means keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.  As young people we must be aware of what is going on around us, and not close our eyes against the realities of sin all about us, and even of the old man within us.  If we think we can rest, we will be caught unawares like the five foolish virgins who were caught unaware when the husband arrived.  Every moment we must be on our guard.  The devil constantly looks for weakness and strikes us when we are weakest and least expecting it.  He is deceitful and knows how to use our weakness in favor of his cause.   Constantly we must watch, looking at the circumstances in which we are placed, making sure to be on our guard against him and his sly tactics.

In order to be able fully to resist this mighty enemy of ours by being sober and vigilant, God tells us in 1 Peter 5: 9 that we must be steadfast in the faith.  Faith is the root out of which soberness and vigilance grows.  The devil is too smart and powerful for us, but God has given us the gift of faith, which is the bond that unites us to Christ, and by faith we will most surely win.  Satan cannot do us any harm when we resist him.  We rebuke him with the words of Christ.  We tell the devil to go away because we belong to Christ and even though we sin and are no better than any others by nature, we are looked at as righteous in Christ.  He has paid for our sins and earned our deliverance.  We must follow the instruction of Ephesians 6, putting on the whole armor of God to resist the devil.  In this way the devil will not be able to find a weak point.   Faith is victorious, and in faith we go forth as soldiers of the cross, resisting the devil all our lives long.

We have taken a moment to stop and consider this greatest foe, the devil.   I encourage you young people to continue to do so.  In all situations of life, be aware of this mighty enemy who stands against our God, seeking to cause us to fall away from the Lord who has saved us.  Use the tools God has given to us in his word to resist this enemy.  Pray to God that he will strengthen your faith that you may be sober and vigilant, and may stand strong against Satan.

Death. What a dreaded word.  What havoc and fear such a small word raises!  Immediately the questions come. Who died, how did it happen, why, etc.?   Shock is the initial reaction, then denial of the truth, then as shock wears off, slowly acceptance and heart wrenching grief follows.  Death is our mortal enemy.  It severs strong earthly ties and leaves a wake of emptiness in the hearts of those left behind.  It forces us to face the reality that this is the end of man here below, and that we will have to face it one day as well.  The worst thing about this dreaded word is that we brought it upon ourselves.  By the sin of our organic head Adam, death came upon all men.  We have all sinned and must face this last enemy.

As young people we often have the attitude that death is a long ways away for us. We push away thoughts of death when they arise, thinking we will save those thoughts for a later date. We all know that death is inevitable, and yet we don’t like to seriously consider it while in our youth, because it creates a soberness that we don’t want to address.  We don’t want to think that one day we will die and leave all the people and possessions we have behind.  We don’t want to “shape up” quite yet, but would rather “live it up” for a few more years.  We fear to think of death, because of the uncertainty of how we might die, or how soon it could be. We would rather think on how we can fulfill our own desires while here on earth.  After all, who wants to think on death when we are so full of life and energy at a young age?   Then God removes someone who is close to us and we stare this truth of man’s mortality in the face.

Fear is the natural instinct that arises in the heart of every man when death is faced.  Death is a mortal enemy, and we still have a human nature prone to fear.  There are so many fears that naturally arise.  We question God’s goodness.  We wonder if the person who died is in heaven, even though we should be comforted in knowing that God is the judge, not man, and that every elect child of his shall most surely be there.   Satan bombards us with our own sins and creates doubt concerning the love of our Father in heaven and our own worthiness.  The fears of our human nature go on and on. Those of the world refuse to deal with the reality of death.  When faced with it, they either become despondent and depressed, or they ignore it and dwell only on what the deceased person accomplished in his life. They would rather celebrate the life a person lived rather than dealing with death and the reality of what happens after death, because for them there is no comfort in death.

If not for the grace of God, and for his gift of faith whereby we cling to the promises he has given to us in his word, we would follow in the footsteps of this world when faced with the reality of death.  Facing our last enemy would be terrifying without Christ.  But in Christ we are able to say the words of 1Cor 15: 55-57: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Christ is victorious over death!  What a beautiful truth that God gives us.  All of the fears of our human nature are extinguished when we stand at the foot the cross where Christ accomplished our victory over sin and death.  We refute Satan’s attack with Paul’s words in Romans 8: 33–34, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”  Our head is in heaven interceding for us!  How will not the body be united to the head one day in heaven?  Those ties that have been severed on earth with our fellow brethren in Christ will not remain so, for we will be united with the body of Christ in heaven to live forever with him.  We say with Paul, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 8:38–39).

Young people, God gives us so much comfort and assurance in the face of death.  Death, our last enemy, is inevitable and is a reality that we all must ponder.  We must not ignore it, but rather must view death as it has been conquered in Christ.  Death has no power over us, but is a mere passageway from this life into our heavenly life with Christ.  As we look at death, we remember the psalmist’s words in Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Knowing this, and hearing the words of the apostle Paul concerning our victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, we also take heed to his words in 1Cor 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”.  Notice, young people, we don’t just “forget” to live rightly because after all we are saved and are going to heaven after we die.  We don’t just go on in our sins with the attitude that we may sin that grace may abound.  This is impenitence, and God specifically tells us that no such impenitent sinner will inherit the kingdom of heaven.  This impenitence is what God has saved us from.  Therefore as children of God who have been redeemed, we remain steadfast in the truth of the one who has made heaven and all things possible for us, and ALWAYS abound in serving him.

This is the attitude we young people must have concerning our last enemy. We don’t satisfy our earthly cravings and build up treasures on earth; no, we face the reality that death is our end in this life here below, and therefore we don’t labor in vain for that which perishes, but we lay up our treasures in heaven, where our king dwells. We cast off our fear of death, and with hope we look forward to the day when it will be said, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (Rom 15:54).

Just Dad: Stories of Herman Hoeksema, by Lois Kregel. Jenison, Michigan: RFPA, 2014. Paper, 144 pages, $9.95. [Reviewed by Monica Koole]
Is this not true of most children? No matter what occupation their father holds, they see him as Just Dad. I love this chosen book title for it is exactly what Mrs. Kregel goes on to share with us. God used Rev. Herman Hoeksema in many ways in the church of Jesus Christ, but one that is often overlooked is how God used him as a covenantal father. Rev. Hoeksema’s youngest child, Lois, shares with us much of the same pastoral history of her father that you can find in Therefore Have I Spoken, but in this newest book of the Reformed Free Publishing Association she also shares with us a deeper and more personal glimpse into Rev. Hoeksema’s life as a father.

Mrs. Kregel fills us in on the business of her father’s life, at the same time making sure to emphasize that he was a family man. She makes mention more than once of how much Rev. Hoeksema loved and cared for his wife, working to make her life easier, even urging her to get a full-time helper as she weakened in health. Mrs. Kregel also speaks in many places of her father spending time with the children in fellowship after meals, regaling them with stories of his childhood. More than once she also remarks about how he set aside Saturdays as a family day. Even during some of his busiest years in the ministry, she says he still had time for family, playing jacks with them on the landing to their upstairs, or taking the girls on walks downtown, stopping for ice cream. In my opinion, the most vivid display of Rev. Hoeksema’s love for his children is found in the personal letters he wrote to them during his trip to Europe. These are shared in the back of the book, giving a real glimpse of Rev. Hoeksema’s deep love for each that God blessed him and his wife with.

Mrs. Kregel knew her father well, citing his strengths and weaknesses, and is not afraid to show that like every one of us, Rev. Hoeksema too was merely a sinner saved by grace. She fill us in on many of his hobbies, which included his love of taking long walks, swimming, painting, blacksmithing, and gardening. She shares his love of preaching, calling it the joy of his life, sharing how as a pastor, he fought the battles in the church head on. He did not hold back, but rather made his preaching stronger, understanding how God used the keys of the kingdom to strengthen his people and how God used them also in the case of the ungodly, so that Rev. Hoeksema would “preach them out of the church” (42). Mrs. Kregel also points out, however, that he had his faults. She writes in detail of his stroke and how he was impatient and complained bitterly during his slow recovery, how he refused to use a cane and was embarrassed by the limp he had after his stroke. She writes of how he mentioned more than once from the pulpit that he was a cripple, until Mrs. Kregel pointed out to him her friend who had had polio and could walk only with crutches, and even then with great difficulty, and asked him how she must feel when he said that from the pulpit.

This book is an interesting and insightful combination of Rev. Hoeksema’s life as a pastor and father, sharing intimate details of his life that you will not find in any other book. It is an easy read and is filled with many family photos and vivid memories. I would advise each one of you to read it for yourself, to learn more about the personal life of Rev. Hoeksema and his love for God’s church, and also for the family God gave him. And if you want to learn even more after reading Just Dad, do a little digging and search out the older book, Therefore Have I Spoken. These two books in my opinion go hand in hand, revealing to us a dear covenantal father whom God was pleased to use for the benefit of his church, to preserve her and to cause her to remain steadfast in the truth. I urge you to set aside some time to sit down and learn more about the personal life of Rev. Hoeksema as his daughter has revealed it in the newest RFPA book, Just Dad.

God leads all of his children in special ways throughout their lives to fully prepare them for their particular place in heaven.  Each way he leads is different and unique.  For some, college awaits them, for others, full time jobs.  The problem we so often have is in discerning that special way God is pleased to lead us in our lives here below.  We must remember first and foremost that we are set here below to serve our king in heaven.  Each of us is called personally in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 to “walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory”.  We must therefore choose vocations that are in accordance to God’s word.  God doesn’t ever specifically call us to a certain vocation in Scripture, but he does give us guidelines, and those we must seek and follow in the choosing of a vocation here below.

For many young people, college is the way that they are led, but that isn’t the way God leads every one of us.  Yes, we should all consider the possibility of furthering our education, and prayerfully consider it, but for some of us, that isn’t God’s way of leading. For me, I had no desire to attend college, and had no idea what course of study I would pursue if I went college. I spent my first two years out of high school working two part-time jobs.  After awhile, I seriously considered going to college because I didn’t want part time jobs for the rest of my life.  I even signed up for general classes and went to orientation, but that was not the way God chose to lead me.  Right after I had signed up for classes I was informed of a secretary job that would be opening soon.  I would start training almost right away and then after a few months would take over full time.

At this point in my life I was confused, because I had never really wanted to be a secretary, but I also didn’t really want to go to college either.  The only thing I knew for certain was that I didn’t want to work two part-time jobs any longer.  So, with much prayer I decided to start to training for the secretary job, although  I didn’t totally throw out going to college. I stayed signed up for college as I also started to learn what was involved in becoming a secretary.  Notice, young people, God doesn’t always give answers right away, as we so often expect.  Notice another thing too: we must pray!  Prayer is an essential part of our lives, and in choosing a vocation we must prayerfully consider God’s will for our lives.  This was not an easy decision for me, and for awhile I went back and forth between the two, knowing that the two pathways were totally different.  It wasn’t until after a month as a part time secretary that I started to become more and more convinced that I should take the secretary job.  It wasn’t through any major thing that happened, but through prayer and God’s guidance that I became a secretary.

Let me give you a few facts concerning what is involved in a secretary job.  For those of you who love math, my job would be prime.  Much of my job consists of numbers in amounts of money.  On a day to day basis I receive, enter, pay, and send out bills.  I figure out bank statements for the company, take care of paying our employees, do taxes for the company, and the list goes on.  I have always enjoyed math, and so I immensely enjoy working with numbers every day.

There is much more involved in being a secretary than just math.  Each day I answer, direct, and make phone calls.  There is mail to go through every day, and on Fridays I have a stack of paperwork to file for the week.  Besides this, I often have plans to print for different jobs we are doing, and sometimes also have to run little errands for these jobs.   Each company runs a little bit differently, and so each secretary job will vary, depending on what kind of company you work for, how big the company is, how many other secretaries are in one company, etc.  For me, I am an only secretary at my office, and so although I have routine jobs to do, each day is quite a bit different too.  I love that each day is a little bit diverse from the others, but yet also has consistence.  It keeps things interesting while not making you feel overwhelmed by a completely different schedule from one day to the next.

My job as a secretary has been wonderful for me.  A college education isn’t needed, it provides me with full time work, and I love the work that I do.  I never thought I would love being a secretary, because I always pictured secretary jobs as stuffy jobs, always stuck in an office, and rarely ever seeing sunlight.  I was very wrong, though.  For me, each day I get to admire God’s handiwork through my office window.  When it is springtime, often the door to my office is propped open and I enjoy the birds chirping and the beautiful breeze as it blows through. Also, since my job, like most secretary jobs, has good business hours generally ranging between 8am to 5pm, there is still much time after that to enjoy God’s beautiful creation.  More than that, God has blessed me with an atmosphere where I get to work with those of like faith.  It is a rare and beautiful thing, working with those to whom you relate both in the work area and in your spiritual walk here below. There is a shared bond of unity even while at work, knowing that you all strive for that same goal, to serve your king in heaven.

Focusing specifically now on young women, many will tell you that you need to go to college.  Yes, I agree that college is very good and educates you further, but if you have prayerfully considered it, and still have no desire to go to college, this is a good job for you to seek. It may pay a little bit less than a job attained through a college education, but it does not require more years of schooling and money to obtain it.  A secretary job has reasonable hours and is also a vocation that is easily given up when God does provide you with a new vocation of caring for a husband and children. Do not be ashamed of wanting a husband and children.  This is God’s will for most women.  God through Timothy says “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim 5:14).  A secretary job is a very nice job to have for those of you who are viewing marriage soon after high school and want to start saving up money right away.

For those of you interested in a secretary position, often this occupation is obtained through contacts you know.  Many businesses want to hire people they can trust, and who is better to choose than people that they directly know, or those who are referred to them by a friend as being hard workers?  So, keep an ear attentive and an eye open, and I’d suggest first looking for opportunities within your own circle of acquaintances.  You will find that God provides in his own timing, so don’t become impatient either when something isn’t provided right away.

Let me now tell you a few things God has brought to my attention through my job as a secretary.  First and foremost, God has taught me that contentment is key, no matter the vocation to which God calls you.  Often we expect this perfect job to fall into our laps, and that the riding will be smooth.  No, there are ups and downs to every job, but contentment in the calling God has given you leads to great joy in even the simplest, most mundane tasks of the day.  View your work with the attitude that God has provided labor for my hands and food for my body, and in this I am greatly blessed.  For this I praise the Lord.

Through my job as a secretary, my perspective of money has changed greatly. I became more aware of how much I had put my trust in something that perishes.  Up until this job, I thought I had done a pretty good job of keeping things in perspective, but I see now how often I forget that all that we have (including money) is given us by God and is to be used in his service.  I see more fully that money is not to be trusted.  It is not something that you can keep forever, nor rely on to keep you safe. I see money come and go every day.  It is gained, only to be lost again by paying the bills that are owed to others.  I have come more clearly to understand Hebrews 13:8, comprehending more fully the truth that only our Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He alone is unchangeable, and remains the same. He alone is to be trusted.

In conclusion, God gives his children unique paths to follow, with many different vocations here below.  The most important thing we all must remember is that we are to use whatever vocation God leads us in, to serve him and his kingdom.  We must also learn contentment with the vocation God gives us, whether it is as a college student for a number of years, as a full time worker, or as a mother in the home.  God has placed us here below, and he will most definitely guide us in the way he has prepared.  Remember the words of 1 Timothy 6:6–8 “ But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”.  Depend on God, praying for his guidance in the vocation he has set before us.  Be content with the position he has given each one of us, and, young people, trust!  Trust that he who has ordained all things from the beginning of time will lead us in the right path and provide for us.  God will guide each one of us in the vocation he has chosen for us here below, until we are prepared for our eternal vocation in heaven, where all God’s saints shall gather one day to serve him eternally.

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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