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Instant Cash! Instant Riches!! Buy a ticket for only a dollar…. rub the surface with a coin….match up the same symbols, numbers, or designs and you too can be on your way to becoming independently wealthy for a life time.

Sounds very inviting, doesn’t it? Have you ever fantasized what you would or could do with a million-dollar lottery winning ticket?

The lottery, and the likes thereof, with their high stakes, are surely to be condemned. We do well to resist and abstain from participating in such gambling activities.

But what about what we sometimes consider to be only penny-ante stuff such as check pool, World Series pool, nickel and dime poker, etc.? Principally, it falls in the same category, namely, gambling of one sort or another.

Allow me to recite in part Lord’s Day 42, Question and Answer 110-111.

Question: What doth God forbid in the 8th Commandment?

Answer: God forbids not only those thefts and robberies…. but He comprehends under the name of thefts all wicked tricks and devices whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbor….whether by force or under the appearance of right….or any other way forbidden by God; as also all covetousness.

It is not for nought that we read in I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” As is plain to see in this quotation from Scripture, the root of all evil is the love of money…the strong all-compelling desire to be rich…to be totally immersed in material goods. Thus, the love of money not merely signifies the sinful lust for gaining money in all possible ways; but also the deepest desire of keeping it for oneself or/and immediate family. Whoever thirsts after money and sets that up as his or her god, departs from the faith and pierces him/herself through with many sorrows. For if one gains the whole world and loses his own soul, what doth it profit him?

A man cannot be the slave of two masters, God and Mammon. Mammon is money. Money is a slave and not to be turned into a master that controls our desires and our thinking. We know from Psalm 73, the Lord sets the wicked in slippery places and He often does that through their prosperity; but much to our shame, we also have the strong inclinations at times to use the same sliding board.

Today the chief topic of discussion by the government through the media is inflation. What can be done to stop it? Relatively nothing, because of the unsatisfied greedy nature of man on all levels and in every department. It will devour him and destroy his economy and self-enterprise until a one world power sits on the throne to usher in the Anti-Christ. The average man views worldly goods in terms of money which is the means to obtain all other goods. Money is a symbol and its importance has a universal attachment. It is everything and it is nothing and worthless apart from its human context.

We live surrounded by our possessions. Not for long do we forget the enjoyment we derive from them…the attention our business may demand…the satisfaction it provides to our self-esteem in demonstrating our success to the world and to our fellow saint. Much worldly goods can make us boastful and materialistic minded.

Today more than ever, it is necessary for us as Christians to learn to detach ourselves from the worship of material things for their own sake. The tendency of the age is to instill the idea and concept that happiness consists in material goods and pleasure. It is our duty and obligation to combat that idea within ourselves, in our small children, and our young people. Constantly must we be reminded from the pulpits and from the printed page that our riches, our happiness, and our greatness are spiritual, not in the abundance of things.

As for the art of giving: Our human nature prefers to keep what we have and to part with as little as possible.

But we are faced with a divine law and scriptural principle which disturbs us because it has a different scale of value. But still we insist in asking ourselves, not how much we can give, but how much we may keep without violating the law and principle of giving liberally and cheerfully.

The life to which Christ calls us is a life of wholeheartedness, and wholeheartedness is incompatible with the constant calculation of the extent of our obligations. In practice, our natural man in calculation only when it is a question of giving. When it is a question of adding to our wealth, we succumb to every form of covetousness.

Talk about my wife, talk about my kids, but don’t talk about my bank book…. It would be interesting to see what monies we could collect, say for a school drive, if everyone would just give from the interest on his or her saving accounts or the likes.

Consequently for all of us, the question is not – How much ought I to give? Am I giving enough? Such a question implies an attachment to worldly goods and a desire to hold on to as much as possible of them. The correct question to be asked is exactly the opposite. Am I obliged to hold on to my possessions? How much ought I to keep?

In the language of theology, love of money is a serious sin because it separates the mind and heart from God.

For the first time in history, a comfortable standard of living is within the reach of all. In former days, luxury was enjoyed by the privileged few. The means of raising the general standard of living were limited in the extreme. Today life has been made more pleasant and easier by the means of mass productions. Comforts have an irresistible attraction for all of us and sometimes we are obsessed to procure them. Maybe that’s one reason so many wives and mothers are out working when they should be at home. That last remark is only an observation, not an accusation.

A Christian who cares for spiritual values and is concerned to be of use in the home, church, and school, will make use of monies and time not only for him or herself, but also for the promotion and well-being of others. Christ was accused both of worldliness and unworldliness. He loved the poor and did not refuse the hospitality of the rich.

In the Gospel, we meet rich men who are also good men whose wealth is not made a subject of reproach. At the very outset, we meet the wise men, persons of rank and wealth who brought their costly gifts as an offering to the infant Jesus. Among other rich men we might mention are Zacchaeus, and Joseph of Arimathea. Indeed, in everyday life Christ seems to take little interest in the question of riches…although at times He sharply rebuked those who put their trust in them. He mingled equally with the rich and poor and His judgment in each case is governed by the spirituality of individual.

Christ, as we know about Him and read concerning Him, was not a social reformer. He passes no judgment on the distribution of wealth…only that the poor widow gave more than they all who gave of their abundance. He does not criticize the establishment. He is not interested in condemning or reforming the structure of society. He speaks to the heart and soul of men. He takes society as it is and requires His disciples to serve God and separate themselves from the world. But He believed and taught that riches can be a hindrance to a godly life, for He said, where your treasure is, there your heart is also.

Young people, but especially the male counter-part, are more than likely inclined by their humanism and interests to be reading an article out of the S.I. (Sports Illustrated) than out of the Beacon Lights. Therefore, I conceived the notion to compose a few lines (or paragraphs) setting forth some sobering and realistic thoughts and concepts regarding sports competition, self-discipline, (or lack of it) and acknowledging authority in a school sports program as we in the Grand Rapids area experience it.

As a matter of information for those who are puzzled or worried by the title of my article, I submit the following: Shortly before our own Covenant High School opened its doors in 1968, plans and decisions were in the making to include a physical educational program as per State requirements; although an interscholastic sports program was not in their require­ments, this came about by a School Board decision.

Response to that decision had its pros and cons among parents and the school society membership. Fears were expres­sed that such a program constituted an association and fraternization with the world of unbelievers. Others simply don’t like sports, and seeing their child is not athletically inclined so, likewise they objected.

On the other side of the coin were those who felt that the contact with the world is a reality one faces daily, yet the contact of sports is of such a nature that the school’s Christian principles and standards would not be compromised or violated in this competition. Thus far no cheer-leader has run off with a Philistine.

Once teams were organized in bas­ketball, baseball, track, golf, and volley­ball, a nickname was chosen to represent the team in sports competition. By majority vote of the student body and with the Board’s approval, the nickname “Chargers” came into existence, and by the way, made itself known and estab­lished in the March madness of 1973.

Now the emblem of a “Charger” to my imagination is a Knight in full armor on a charging steed with a standard (or is it a lance) guarding defensively and offensively, I would like to think, the reputation of the school. But we know the reality of the matter is that only through good and proper conduct and attitude of the coaches, players, students, and fans, can the word “Christian” in front of the word “School” be upheld and maintained.

I know and you know that competition has become a basic ingredient of our culture, and the athletic scene reflects this culture. Winning has literally become the only goal. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is the name of the game.

At one time or another, we have all had rehearsed in our ears why sports competition is good for us. It can develop confidence, courage, discipline, team play, personal skills and ability, fairness, and above all a more desirable character and personality. It certainly should, and I don’t suggest it can’t, but more often that is replaced in the heat of “combat” by anxiety, tension, and even hostility toward the opponent, and much too often vented to the official (the authority at that time).

Someone made the statement that competition in the sports arena brings out the best in a product, but the worst in a human being. Don’t say that doesn’t happen to us. I’ve witnessed it in others and also am guilty myself. That is one main reason and concern I have that a sports program be kept at a very low key and emphasis. It should be labeled that it can be dangerous to our spiritual health if it gets the upper hand and emphasis.

“Why?” Because some people get their priorities and values all mixed up. They don’t go to this Church function, school activity, they would like this date changed, this class moved to a different night, all because we could have a practice or a game on that date. One case in point is that recently certain churches in our area of a different denomination had Prayer Day services changed from Wed­nesday evening to Thursday evening all because it interfered with a big tourna­ment basketball game. See what I mean concerning priorities and values?

In passing, I might remark that professional sports on T.V. hold more influence upon us than we would care to admit. People readily admit I only got T.V. for sports, news, and weather reports.

Maybe at this juncture we also should ask ourselves whether the competitive urge is something that should be or should not be a part of a Christian’s life, or whether competition is a part of reality that a Christian needs to learn to deal with in a Christian way.

We certainly are in need of a Christian perspective in the world of competition, whether this be in sports, business, or other functions. The Christian ….a person who has thrown off the old man and put on the new, must be distinctively unique and different in his life style and approach towards competi­tion and all of life’s functions and activities. Are we not called to fulfill the Christian mandate–Love thy neighbor as thyself–also in competition? He is not to be treated as an obstacle standing in one’s pathway on the road to victory. Yet how often haven’t we wrongly desired he would fall under pressure and not be at his best.

I don’t like to sound preachy or hang crepe, but these are realities to be considered by all of us-or our actions and attitudes will nullify our Christian stan­dards and principles. If we are serious about confessing that all of life is religion, that is, service to either God or to an idol, then we cannot exclude-but only reform that important ingredient of our life-com­petition. A relationship and contact does exist between competitive sports and authority. The man in blue or with the striped shirt has been authorized and delegated to enforce that the game is played according to the rules and regula­tions drawn up for a given contest. Coaches, players and fans must recognize that and submit to that formula and jurisdiction, or chaos will be the outcome.

There seems to be a shift in the concept of authority in our society. It also seems as if the adult empire with all its presumed authority is tottering. Because an adult who has been placed in authority can carry that position with an attitude of conceit and arrogance, it nevertheless behooves those being governed to be submissive and show due respect, as difficult as that may be on the playing field as well as off. Some would advocate that respect has to be earned, not only conferred because of age, title, position, or rule. To a certain degree that may be true in the sense that authority is an awesome responsibility, and misuse of it bears its consequences and sometimes its bitter fruit.

Some writers question the word “spheres” in connection with authority. I believe there is that element and aspect. The school is not the home, nor the Church the school. Even though there is a strong relationship one towards each other, nevertheless there are lines of distinction. The teacher may stand in the place of the parent while a child is in the classroom, but he or she never replaces the parent.

At the present, I can think of one instance where lines can be and are crossed. Example-If a baptized member of the Church is delinquent in doctrine and walk, the Church through its God ordained officers, has the duty and authority to discipline and even erase such a member, even though he or she may be under the roof of the parents, and the parents may raise strong objections to such a decision. Especially in the home, discipline has to be tempered with a certain amount of tolerance and under­standing.

The authoritarian omnipotent type of government in the home is not my style of bringing up a family. In the home, Church and school, to be taught, instructed, and lead is the proper course…not to be driven, which leads to animosity and hostility in relationship one towards another.

Let me close by saying that in my humble opinion the biggest threat and danger to our continued existence as schools and churches is really not from without, but from within.

There is and always will be divided opinion regarding sports, gyms, T.V. and etc., but let’s not devour each other on account of it.

Francis A. Schaeffer in his “The Church Before the Watching World” while commenting on the Presbyterian controversy forty years ago, makes this sad observation: “We did not speak with love about those with whom we differed and we have been paying a high price for it ever since…we did not talk of the need to show love as we stood against liberalism, and…that lack has cost us dearly.” He adds: “I beg of those of other backgrounds to learn from our mistakes.”

If by the reading of the title you concluded that this article has something to do with arithmetic, you are partially correct. We will be reviewing numbers by multiplication both by human standards and divine.

It is in verse 21 of Matthew 18 that Peter comes to Jesus asking him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times?” In verse 22, Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.

What we really intend to focus our attention on is Forgiveness. The title as I have put it is just a little window dressing to catch your attention.

I get the impression as I read the entire chapter of Matthew 18 that this session of instruction by Christ is when He is alone with the twelve. Following upon the Lord’s answer to Peter, we have the parable of the unmerciful servant; This parable is given to his disciples (and also to us) to impress upon them that as soon as they ceased forgiving one another, they must needs forfeit the blessings and assurance of forgiveness for themselves.

Prof. H. Hanko in his book on the Parables does an excellent and thorough explanation regarding this parable and the principles laid down regarding forgive­ness. I suppose I could stop writing right now and say read pages 65-71 because I am sure he can and does convey the subject of Forgiveness with much more clarity and ability than myself. But the Editor of the Beacon Lights asked me to write an article on this subject of Forgiveness, so in my own style, ability, and thought pattern, I shall attempt to comply.

Getting back to the disciple Peter who raised the question concerning the num­ber of times one forgives his brother, we see he not only raises the question, but in the next breath gives the answer. At least in his own mind and with human judgment, seven times was more than that which was required by the rabbis of that day. In other words, Peter meant to say there comes an end to the forgiving…it is limited. But the divine Jesus says no Peter, not one times seven, but seventy times seven endless without ceasing always.

The Lord teaches us to pray forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

The two parts of this petition are inseparably connected. You cannot pray for the one without being able to state the other before the face of God. A readiness and willingness to forgive others is part of the indication that we have truly repented. Moreover, it is to be whole-hearted. Not only to forgive, but also the solemn and oh so difficult virtue to forget. We stumble and fall over that a thousand times during a lifetime… if we would only forget.

Its basis and root springs from Christ’s forgiveness…even as Christ for­gave you, so also do ye – Colossians 3:13.

In the incident of the healing of the paralyzed man lowered through the roof, He, Christ worked the miracle expressly that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins. Forgiveness by or through Jesus Christ means forgiveness arising from all that He is and all that He does. His death on the cross is often said to be a death for sin. Forgiveness rests basically then on the atoning work of Christ. That is to say an act of sheer grace.

John the Baptist preached the bap­tism of repentance for the remission of sins. Christ himself directed that repen­tance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.

Forgiveness is similarly linked with faith in Acts 10:43 and James 5. Faith and repentance are not to be thought of as merits whereby we deserve forgiveness. Rather they are the means whereby we appropriate the grace of God.

Serious and difficult situations arise in our homes, our schools and in our Churches because when offenses come, we do not always see the urgent necessity to follow what Christ Himself had to say in this same 18th chapter of Matthew. I am referring to the 15-17th verses. Verse 15: moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone…and what follows.

I realize that lengthy debates and discussions have arisen over whether one’s sin or offense is of a private or public nature. I don’t dispute the fact that it does make a difference in approach and every case is to be judged on its own merits, nevertheless Matthew 5:23-24 has much to say when we think it’s not our fault. Read it…think about it.

It is so convenient to have certain passages and principles of Scripture laid down for the other person…What we all need is a little closer self-examination. Ask yourself seriously, am I interested in gaining the brother, or in self- justifi­cation? Oh what petty strife and griev­ances could be avoided and laid aside if we could look past personalities and persons and practice what is said concern­ing Forgiveness. When issues arise, and they do, and that is not all bad, instead of judging according to persons involved, let us rather evaluate according to the principle of the matter and the main issue presented.

In the fellowship of the Church of Jesus Christ, and therefore in the commun­ion of saints, the child of God lays hold upon spiritual benefits and makes this confession that his sins are forgiven. But now if for some reason the believer, whether he be young or old cuts himself off from that fellowship and seeks for himself the treasures and pleasures of this world for a season, he will soon lose the conscious joy of God’s forgiveness.

It is also a reality that if he or she, young or old, bears a grudge and is hateful towards his brother or sister or neighbor, and through the years has no change of attitude nor of a spirit of repentance, that that one will end up with bitterness in his or her soul towards all of life…a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

The third part of the Lord’s Supper form under examination of ourselves, puts it so personally where it says, “whether he purposeth henceforth to show true thank­fulness to God in his whole life and to walk uprightly before him, and also whether he hath laid aside unfeignedly all enmity, hatred, and envy, and doth firmly resolve henceforward to walk in true love and peace with his neighbor. All those then who are thus disposed, God will certainly receive in mercy and count them worthy partakers of the table of his Son Jesus Christ.”

The high pitched cry of an infant nestled so tenderly and lovingly in its mother’s arms breaks the stillness of the night. After but a short while, the cry is hushed and once again contentment and silence reigns.

Now the scene changes, and some years later that now greying son firmly but gently clasps the hand of that now aged bed-ridden mother. Her thin and weary face betrays an inner attitude of peace and contentment.

In both situations of life no words were spoken; nevertheless, communica­tions were established in a meaningful manner.

Without a doubt, it is through the five senses man possesses that he is able to transmit and communicate something of himself to others. These natural gifts are not only common to man; but also in the creature world of fish, fowl, beast, and insect. One can observe in them the divinely created wonder of touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste.

Who can explain in depth how some birds fly uncharted courses from pole to pole? How the mother sheep know its young among untold hundreds of other sheep. All five senses, either alone or in combination, are vital in their existence and survival. To the hunter, it may be frustrating; but to the white tailed deer, the smell of danger is signaled by the white flag going up, and away they go.

But if we would stop there, we haven’t said near enough. One distinct gift separates God’s highest creature from all the rest of His creation.

This gift is SPEECH.

Man’s ability to speak and form words not only makes him unique but also sets him apart as a moral rational creature accountable to his Creator. By speaking, he possesses an instrument sharper than a razor and sweeter than honey.

In James 3:5-12, the Holy Spirit through the writer presents a vivid and comprehensive description of that member…the tongue. Note chapter 3 of that Epistle begins by saying, “My brethren” etc. Verses 8 and 10 say the following:

  1. “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
  2. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
  3. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

Sad commentary of ourselves, is it not?

But you ask, “Is there no escape from this just judgment?” To be sure! The apostle Paul in the book of Romans has these words of consolation and victory. “For Christ has set us free from the law of sin that warreth in our members and has set us free from the law of sin and death. We are no longer to walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Let us now return to our heading, and attempt to define “communications.” I would say in its broadest concept, it is that ability of expression in words and in deeds, whereupon we sincerely put forth every effort of our being to unite ourselves and promote our lives for the glory of God and for the well-being of our spiritual brother. We strive for this goal not by way of doctrinal compromise or by ignoring authority; but through faith with patience, understanding, and other spiritual virtues.

The basic make-up of society begins with the family. But a family is composed of individual members. All have their own personalities, characteristics, physical and mental abilities and limitations…even some peculiarities. To function properly and orderly, that family has to have complete communications and discipline amongst each other. When that breaks down, either between husband and wife, or between children and their parents, you can rest assured the ice is becoming mighty thin. If that situation becomes unresolved and sinful pride prevents reconciliation, you had better know the fruit will be thorns and thistles. Isn’t it typical of us that with a very young child, we as parents urge and coax him or her to walk and to talk? From then on in, they have to be constantly reminded to sit down and be quiet.

As in the home, so in the school, you also have the necessity of proper com­munication being maintained. Teachers, pupils, School Boards, Societies, PTA’s are involved in conveying and responding to the needs not only of the system, but also to the person. Difficult as it may be, sometimes this can only be gained on a person-to-person basis. To achieve re­spect, harmony, and unity either in the home or in the school, communication is vital. And it is a two way street.

Communication is not just a philosophy that says, “Don’t do as I do, but do as I say”; nor a policy that says, “This is your school” and then fails to recognize the voice and responsibility of the member­ship.

In closing, I have this yet to say: What is the glue (bond) that holds things together and can make us function as we ought? Charity. No, not a wishy, washy Charlie Brown type of love, but rather let me refer you to the well-known chapter of 1 Corinthians 13.

Galatians 6:12 is also very fitting and instructive. “Brethren if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Revised Standard Version).

In keeping with the theme of our Church’s 50th Anniversary year, I want you to share with me some personal reflections, convictions, and experiences concerning God’s Covenant Faithfulness.

My assignment is primarily the World War II years, although some information may be just prior to or/and after.

That there is a close relationship how these years with their events affected us as individuals, as families, and as churches, no on will deny.

I recall well as a youngster my parents relating the numerous lectures and speeches given by the Rev. Herman Hoeksema that they attended during the Common Grace Controversy. Soon after organization of First Church, they became members and remained so until death.

As God has plan and purpose in each of our lives, so I believe I had a unique start on my earthly pilgrimage. I was born at home weighting a mere one pound twelve ounces. No one gave me any human possibility of living over a few hours. I firmly am convinced the prayers of my parents and of others were heard and God’s Covenant Faithfulness confirmed. My daily diet consisted of barely water, loving tender care, and earnest supplications.

By the year 1940 our Churches had so prospered that our first Synod began its functions. Among other business at hand, seminarian John Heys was examined by that body and declared to become Candidate in our Churches.

War was now raging in Europe and the highly mobilized forces of the German machine suddenly and swiftly engulfed the whole of Western Europe.

I remember well on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 the radio sermon of the late Rev. Herman Hoeksema being interrupted to bring in the news flash that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

On Dec. 4, 1942, I left for three years of army service. The exact wording escapes my thoughts, but this scene is permanently etched upon my memory. My mother and I knelt by her bed and she prayed aloud concerning God’s Faithfulness and God’s ever-abiding promises. I mention this for two reasons:

  1. When I left home that day, it was the last time I saw her in the flesh. The Lord called her to Glory at the age of 52 on Oct. 25, 1943 while I was in Australia.
  2. That scene of prayer was to be repeated time and time again in our homes and churches as Covenant-believing and God-fearing parents committed their sons to the will of God as they were being called into the armed forces. Not to exclude wives whose husbands and, in some cases fathers, being called up.

Sadness and grief was also the portion of some families and congregations in that the Lord made final separation with the reality of death during those war years.

At one time, there were more that 300 men from our various Churches in the military. The “Beacon Lights” had a special department called “To our Boys in Service” and “Letters from our Boys”. Volume 5 of that magazine has many snap shots of service men and also some very interesting articles and letters.

After taking basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas (near Fort Worth, Dallas area) I moved across country and overseas to Oahu, Hawaiian Islands.

In Aug. 1943 the 24th Infantry Division moved to Rockhampton, Australia. This was a staging area for a full-scale combat operation to come.

As an oasis in a desert land, mail from home was a source of joy and spiritual food. Letters, packages, Church papers etc. were all part of the tie that binds.

Allow me to quote in brief parts of three letters I still have in my possession. Letter of May 5, 1943 from my mother “Our hearts are one in Christian Fellowship and love, and when I’m in Church, I always pray you might be here and have communion with the saints and hear God’s Word preached once again, but let us not rebel against God’s way, but take all to Him in prayer”. June 5, 1943- “Ascension Day we had services as usual. Rev. Hoeksema preached from Eph. 1:19-20. The theme was the Power of His Exaltation. It has plenty of meaning for those whose hope and trust is in the Lord.” Sept. 23, 1943- “Are you awful busy? Do you still get the “Standard Bearer” and “Beacon Lights?” Try to keep up with your reading of the Bible and Christian Literature, Pete, it will help you so much on your way of life.”

Such is God’s Covenant Faithfulness being revealed to instruct and comfort as many service-men could like-wise testify.

On April 22, 1944, our outfit made the landing in Dutch New Guinea and seized the air strip near Hollandia. In as much as the territory was under Dutch domain and influence for many years, it just occurred to me to wonder if those friendly natives could converse in the Frisian language.

On October 20, 1944, Leytes hottest beach was the scene of the landing of the 24th Division. Much could be written concerning that campaign, but let it suffice to say the Lord spared me and the only battle scar I received was a good case of jungle rot on my legs and feet. Providentially I was evacuated out of the combat area for six months and missed two hard fought campaigns North and South of Manila. When the war ended, I was back with my outfit in the Southern Philippines. After six weeks in Japan, I was shipped home and got there Dec. 22, 1945 to a joyous and thankful reunion.

One only has to take the time to reread our 25th Anniversary booklet published in 1950 to recognize and appreciate that during the 40’s all Church life and activities were developing and flourishing.

First and foremost, the Preaching of the Word from Sabbath to Sabbath was being expounded by Ministers dedicated to their calling. God’s Covenant Faithfulness was being acknowledged and experienced.

Our Theological School at the close of the 40’s had enlarged its curriculum. The student body numbered seven. The faculty numbered 5…2 full-time professors, and 3 part-time instructors. Thirty-one graduates and twenty-five Ministers in our Churches by 1950.

Our Missionary activities consisted of 2 men in the field laboring several months in Michigan, then an extensive stay in Washington, and then due to the Dutch immigration to Canada, a Canadian field was established.

Radio broadcasting came into focus in the 40’s. On Sunday Oct. 12, 1941 Rev. Herman Hoeksema delivered the initial message on God is God over WLAV Grand Rapids. Broadcasting was being expanded to Calif., Iowa, Minn., Illinois and Indiana. Each congregation or/and congregations in those locations sponsoring and supporting radio time.

Our own Christian schools were coming into actuality and operation in Michigan and Minnesota.

Congregational life was alive in the study of the Word with its full Society meetings for all age groups. It felt the absence of the male members during the war years, but the tie that binds was evident – in its correspondence and other labors of love and concern.

Chief among our publications was the “Standard Bearer”, ready and able to defend our Reformed truth and heritage. In 1941 the “Beacon Lights” came into existence. On Feb. 1, 1944 the first issue of the “Concordia”, a bi-weekly publication came off the press. Books, pamphlets, and brochures were all part of our effort to witness for the Truth of the Scriptures.

According to the statistics quoted in 1950, our Churches numbered 25, arranged in 2 Classis, with a total membership of about 5,600 souls. Our largest Congregation numbered almost 2,000, our smallest 30 souls.

Since then many changes have taken place into every facet of our congregational and denominational life, but two Truths remain the same to this day:

  1. God’s Covenant Faithfulness
  2. Our Calling in relationship to that Covenant.

In closing I quote from the pen of the late Rev. Hoeksema, “And as we live in the midst of the world as of the party of the Living God, it is our calling as a Church and as individual believers to keep His Covenant, to live from the principle of regeneration and to stand antithetically as God’s people in ever department of life”.  – H. Hoeksema – 1950 Anniversary Booklet.

His name be praised and given all the Glory for He is a faithful God unto His people.

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 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 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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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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