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As a photographer, I am constantly being teased by family and friends about “seeing the world through a lens.” But it’s true. I carry my camera with me quite often. I am always looking for photo opportunities. Ever since I started this hobby, I have come to have a new appreciation for light and scenery. One of my favorite subjects to photograph, however, is people. People make for fascinating subjects. They are complex, moody, and the most wonderful part of God’s creation. There is one very interesting aspect about people I have observed as I have learned how to photograph them, and that is this: most people change when a camera is pointed at them. They can be laughing and having a good time, or frowning and unhappy, but when they see they are about to be photographed, their attitude changes. Goofiness turns to seriousness. A frown turns into a smile. A person eating quickly puts down the fork and swallows the food. In short, most people “put on their best face” for the camera. Why is this? Well, no one wants someone else to see them at their worst. We always want people to see the best side of us.

But is it people (especially those pesky photographers) who we should really be concerned about seeing us? What would we see if a hidden camera followed us around 24/7? How do we act when we are not “on our best behavior?” What would that hidden camera capture us doing or saying? That is the real question. Even the wicked people of this world know enough how to act decently when all eyes are upon them. They know how to pretend to be honest and sincere and compassionate. But when the cameras are turned off, the charade ends. And so I’d like to ask you, fellow Christians, is your attitude in front of the “camera” of other people an act? Or is it the real you?

What does the Bible have to say about this? We already know that God is present everywhere. Even the younger school children are taught the word for this – omnipresent. But have you ever stopped to really consider exactly what this implies? Perhaps God’s own Word will shed some light on this great truth. Zechariah 4:10b tells us, “…they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” For God to be omnipresent means that he knows every little detail that happens every moment of every day in lives of every person on this planet, from all time. God knows everything! Which brings us back to the camera analogy. Someone is following you unawares every moment. He is not only following you, but he is recording all that you do in his book. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12).

We are warned about the dangers of our secret sins. It turns out they are not as secret as we would like them to be! “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). I know you have heard this before, but it bears repeating. Much of the wicked and violent crimes committed in this world, the acts that even the world acknowledges are wrong, are committed at night. Why? Because those who commit such sins like to think that the darkness will hide them. But we whose eyes have been enlightened know better than this. We know that dark or light do not matter to God, who can see no matter what. Are we no better than they, then, when we simply wait to commit our sins for when we think no one is around? Think about this the next time your conversation dies out as the parent walks into the room. A conversation which you know you shouldn’t have been having in the first place! Think about this the next time you guiltily jump back from whatever it was you were doing when someone unexpectedly comes upon you. Think of this the next time you wait until the teacher has walked around the corner of school before you call your classmate a name. You are never really alone! God is watching, listening, and writing the entire time!

When we pretend to be on our best behavior for the benefit of those we think matter, we are being hypocritical. And we all know of whom the word hypocrite reminds us! The Pharisees! Read Jesus’ words to this group of New Testament Israelites about hypocrisy. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:27, 28). I hope this does not describe you, child of God! The Pharisees made the mistake of thinking that they needed to impress the people around them. They forgot that it is God who matters! It is God Who is in charge of your soul. You are accountable to him, not just your parents and teachers.

There is a positive to all of this. Instead of being worried that we will be “caught” doing what we are not supposed to be doing, we can find comfort and assurance knowing that God is always with us. He will never leave or forsake us. But we can also turn to him in the way of obedience and ask him to search our hearts and souls to know that we are truly living as his elect. Psalm 139 is a beautiful passage that speaks to this in its entirety. Go home and read it today. Let me give you the beginning and ending here. “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether…. Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:1-4, 23, 24). This is the beauty of God’s omnipresence! Instead of being afraid, we rejoice that he knows us as only our Father can know us. He knows us as his people, despite our sin. He knows, for he made us. And with the knowledge of his nearness unto us, we seek to follow his commandments and live unto him.

What a comfort! What a blessing! To know that we are not alone! And so, child of God, walk in his ways. Have nothing to hide! Make sure that you are not ashamed of the works that are written in his book of life! And that “best face” you put on when others are around? Make sure that is your attitude and those are your actions even when you think you are alone.

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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