The arts. Just what are the arts and how do they apply to our everyday living habits? The arts include a large number of skills and efforts. The arts include painting, drawing or sculpture – these are the fine arts because they are creative. Then there are the other arts such as are found in academic learning. These can be things such as literature, music and mathematics. Play-writing and acting are also classified many times within the arts.
I believe as a Christian, that the church certainly has room for the arts. The arts, after all, are given to us by God just as all the things of this earth are given to us. We have an obligation to use the arts as they are presented to us by God. The arts are presented to us in quite a variety of ways, as we know. In our everyday walk in life we are saturated by the arts. We are looking at one facet of the arts when we look at a building, or a car or an airplane or even a piece of clothing. Everything man-made about us took a great deal of thinking, figuring and designing to be produced. The pictures we see in books and magazines are also part of the arts. If we admire a great painting or a sculpture in a museum, we are admiring the result of God-given talents. Our radios and television sets overflow with the abundance of the productions of the arts. Even when we see a crayon-scrawled paper of a firs grader we are looking at part of the arts.
But we must remember that we ourselves do not create the arts, nor are they evolved by man’s deep thought and efforts. God gives talent, and God also gives the result and realization of that talent.
If, for a moment, we go back in time to the period before the flood, we can see the development of the arts by sinful man. Jubal and Tubalcain beings sons of Lamech were both very talented and skillful men. Jubal was one of the first men to develop more fully the art of music using the primitive harp and organ. He was a musician, and a developer of one facet of the fine arts. Tubalcain, on the other hand, was a technical man, working with iron and brass. The Bible says he was an instructor in this field, which is also an area of the arts. Throughout history, then, the arts have been more and more expanded and enlarged. As various men contribute their talents and discoveries to the arts they have come to be what they are today. This, of course, is no accident. God, in his decree for man, both reprobate and saved, has brought civilization, including the arts, to this point.
The real question, as we see it then, is the relationship between the arts and the church. Can we as church accept the arts, and following from that, indulge in them? We as Christians first of all live in the world. We have jobs and responsibilities, and these jobs inevitably include part of the arts. From a practical point of view, then, we must engage in generally working with the arts as a means of support.
Since we have already established that we can and should involve ourselves generally in the arts, what can be said about the fine arts more specifically? As mentioned, they are things such as drawing, painting, writing, music, acting, and can include studies such as mathematics. I think we must remember again one important fact– that these things have been given to us by God. God has given us talents and skills to be used to the good of His kingdom. Many of us have talents in one or more of the fine arts listed above, or in some other fine art. Positively, I believe that we as Christians must use whatever talents we have in everyday life to God’s glory. If we have a talent for music or writing, for example, I think we should explore these fields and contribute whatever we can to these areas. We should be willing to explore these fields through education, experience or whatever means we have at our disposal.
Sometimes it has been said that too close a pursuit of the fine arts brings a Christian into an unhealthy contact with the world. It is true that many times in order to study in a certain field a person comes to see all facets of his art, and this always includes the “bad” sides. However, in order to fully study any certain subject, all sides are and should be studied in depth. The fine arts are no exception, because they are really just as important as any other field.
In summation, then, I think it can be said that there certainly is room for the arts, both general and fine arts, in the church. We as Christians must also exercise our talents and skills in the areas of the arts as God has given us the command to use our talents to His Kingdom’s good. As members of the Church of Christ, we also must be involved in the arts as much as our abilities allow us as we strive to honor God’s name.

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

About eight years ago, this phrase was part of a speech by the late President, John F. Kennedy. I am sure we all know what Mr. Kennedy was referring to. The entire sentence goes: “Ask not what your country can do for you; but what you can do for your country.”
I am not about to discuss at this time our obligations and services to our country as such. Instead, I would like to compare our potential services in relation to our country to service to an organization which is even closer – our church. Rendering service to our country is really something to be commended, of course. However, we as young people do not always have clear-cut opportunities to serve our country in the expected ways. I do think, though, that a lot of good opportunities to serve our church do present themselves every year.
It has been said in the past that the majority of young people in our organizations are apathetic. The world “apathetic” means inactive, not showing emotion, not being involved in various activities. Sometimes it has also been inferred that because we as young people do not work hard enough at our projects and programs, they are not always successes. The people who say such things are talking about you; they are talking about me. I do not agree with them, and I know that you do not think that the majority of us are apathetic, disinterested young people.
All that we have to do to refute this apathy nonsense is to point out the real effort our young people put out to make the recent convention the tremendous success it was. Look again at the past efforts to finance other conventions, to publish our magazine, to make our projects and parties successes. These accomplishments are because of young people who worked and sacrificed for them.
Today we have even greater goals than ever before. To realize our goals we as young people need money in every greater quantities. Of course we as young people cannot now rest on our laurels. The efforts of the past do not really bear directly on the present and future as far as our organizations are concerned. We know that in order to attain our goals we have to campaign and work for them.
I would like to take this chance to encourage all of you as young people to become more involved in all of the activities of our churches. I would suggest that by working just as hard for next convention as you did for the last one is an excellent way of becoming more involved. Of course, many of us are already involved, at present, in various activities. This is good. The key to becoming involved in the long run, however, is to take a direct interest in the affairs of your society. Even the small and seemingly insignificant activity should be carried out with vigor. The small activities are, after all, small but vital cogs in your organization and your church.
The question arises, though, how does one become more enthusiastic about the activities and programs of his society? First of all, a person should work for a certain goal. He should make his society’s goal his goal. A young person must be willing to work for the good of the whole organization. Secondly, and following from this, is the feeling of accomplishment and success a young person should expect to be generated by working with others toward a goal. A young person just does not realize the pleasure and satisfaction that can be had by working with others, unless he actually does work with others.
I say this as a challenge – see for yourselves the sense of accomplishment that working in a young people’s organization brings. What can you do for your society, for your Federation of young people? Be willing to work and sacrifice for your organization, your society. Be involved, in as much as you can, and count it a privilege to be a doer among other young people. Remember – ask not what your society can do for you, but what you can do for your society.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 1 March 1970

When we speak of the Christian and politics we should have a definition of the two words, Christian and politics. I think we would all claim to know more or less what a Christian is. A Christian, it is said, is a person who professes a belief in Jesus Christ and who follows the teachings of Scripture regarding Christ. A Christian is one who is a member of a Christian church and shows the qualities taught by Christ, such as humility, love for others and a proper respect for God-instituted authority. The above description of a Christian is a rather general, but correct one, I believe. But what of the word politics? Do most of us really know what that word means? We all have varying notions of what politics is, I am sure, but the word seems to leave a bad impression upon many of us. The dictionary states that politics is the science of government, or the organizing of a form of government. More specifically, politics is the entire range of activities that pertain to the organization and operation of a government. Every person who is elected to an office in government, whether it is local, state-wide or federal, has had to enter politics to attain that office. His very job or position is political in nature and he is technically a politician while he is in office. A politician is one who takes it upon himself to be elected to an office in government. In so doing, he usually joins an organization such as a political party, organizes a publicity campaign and tries to impress the voting populace with his qualifications for office. Most of the time exorbitant amounts of money are spent in political campaigns and sometimes the campaigns are quite cruel as each candidate tries to vilify the other.
But what should be the Christians’ attitude toward politics in general? I think that the Christian should have a positive attitude toward politics. First of all, the type of government that we enjoy in this country operates with politics being its lifeblood. Nearly all of the key figures in our government are elected officials, therefore politics could be said to be one and the same as our governmental system. Going on the fact that we also have a God-given government, we must show respect for that government. This does not mean that we should kow-tow unquestioningly to every move or decision the government issues, for the very essence of political activity denies that. But the Christian should, however, respect the government to such a degree that he can take responsible actions in relation to governmental control. Elaborating upon the above point, it can be said that the elements of politics are essential to our God-instituted government. Without politics, we as a nation could not continue to operate a limited democracy as we know it today. Without the everyday turnover of ideas, solutions and opinions which are the real roots of political actions, our government could not be as it was intended by our political forefathers. Politics, then, is the very essence of our governmental system in the United States.
Secondly, in following through the idea of a positive attitude toward politics, I believe that the Christian should be involved in politics. It has already been stated that many bad or unseemly things take place in the political arena. However, politics, like so many other things in life, has both its bad and good points. The Christian cannot be cognizant of one point and ignorant of the other as we so often are when the subject of politics is discussed. I believe that being active in politics begins, first of all, in being knowledgeable and up to date on the important facts about the workings and dealings of our government. We should know what is going on about us. We must keep ourselves informed on the issues of our times and be able to form our own intelligent opinions and to stand for what we believe. I also believe that a Christian, when and if the circumstances permit, could enter politics on a very active scale and run for a political office. This, too, would follow in the same vein as the Christian’s obligation to respect and keep informed about his government. A Christian also has the privilege to vote on a local and national scale and should become involved also in this way in politics.
It can be said, then, that the Christian should take a positive outlook toward politics and become involved in politics, in the best way suitable for him.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 2 April 1969

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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