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We made the decision to try some hiking in Northern Minnesota. After asking if there were any trails around in the area, the only two mentioned were about an hour away on gravel roads. Of the two suggested we decided to try climbing Eagle Mount, which is the highest point in Minnesota. “A mountain in Minnesota?” I secretly scoffed. How hard could this be?

Piling into the car we drove off into the unknown. As we went down the gravel road driving further and further away from our already remote campground and deeper and deeper into the National Forest, we started wondering if we would ever come to the turn off point. Along the way, however, we saw countless trees and bushes and many hidden lakes. All of this beautiful landscape and hardly anyone has ever seen it! (I drew my conclusion from the fact that it was pretty lonely out there. The only sign of civilization was the endless gravel road.)

Maybe you have played this “game” before too on some of your own travels, but it was kind of fun looking at something a little off the beaten path and wondering if I was the only one on this earth who had ever seen that particular tree or flower or pine needle. It was impressive to think that God knows about every single one of those trees there in the National Forest. It was inconceivable to even begin to understand that he not only knows about those trees, but he knows about every tree in the entire world from the beginning of time!

Finally, after a long dusty drive, we came to the sign that indicated Eagle Mount, and we pulled into the parking area. There were a couple of other cars parked there, and it was somewhat comforting to know that we weren’t the ONLY ones crazy enough to be way out there, which could easily be considered the middle of nowhere. After a picnic lunch, we were ready to go off to see the highest point in Minnesota. A quick little jaunt up a little hill and then back to the car for another hour drive back to the campground was what we were expecting.

The trail was very pleasant, as we started out. It began with a winding path through a very dense forest- a beautiful trail shaded with ancient trees. Along the way there were a few surprises, one of which were some boardwalks over marshy land. Bogs on a mountain in Minnesota? I never knew. I busied myself with snapping pictures of various wild flowers and of the kids as they hiked along. It was very nice, and the slight incline was not overly taxing.

After awhile, we came across some rather unhappy women who had already turned back and were heading for their cars. They were huffing and puffing and swearing that they weren’t going on any farther. Obviously, this hike wasn’t for them! I wondered what was up ahead that made them turn around.

On we went again wondering that it was taking so long! Surely the end would be just around the next bend! After we had been hiking for quite awhile we came to a large sign that indicated that we were only one third of the way there. “Only a third,” I marveled. I hadn’t expected this to take so long!

We had a family meeting gathered around the big sign. Some of the kids were sick of it and wanted to get back to fishing on the lake. Others kind of wanted to try to keep going. Since it had originally been my idea to hike, I was given the responsibility to decide what we were going to do next. It was a precarious position to be in. Should we turn around or continue on? On the one hand if I took too much time hiking here I would not easily be forgiven of those who would rather have been in the canoe fishing. On the other hand to finish what we had started would be a good experience, and we had already come this far. My interest was piqued by now, and I really wanted to see what was at the end of the trail…maybe if we hurried and picked up the pace a little I could make everyone happy. We could finish the trail and rush back to fish. It must have sounded like a fairly doable plan, so we agreed and started off again.

Somehow, after we passed behind the sign we knew we were committed. We were in it for the long haul come what may.

It was beginning to get difficult. The younger kids were tiring rapidly, and the fishermen were getting disgruntled. Probably somewhere along the halfway mark when we were seriously having some reservations about this trail, we met some people who were coming down. They had reached the top, and encouraged us with big smiles and well wishes that it was definitely worth the effort to hike up there. That was a big encouragement to us, and it came at a good time.

We stopped to rest again and had a water and snack break. We weren’t stocked with water as well as we should have been, so we began rationing, which made things a little harder. The younger kids needed some help, so the older stronger kids began giving piggy back rides to provide a break for them once in awhile. The baby of the family, who had just turned 3 a couple of days earlier, “hiked” the rest of the way on Dad’s shoulders. It was slow going, but we were making progress. We were doing this together as a team now, and we needed each other.

A little while later when we were really showing signs of weariness, along came a super athletic family practically bounding up the trail behind us. It was true that their family was older, but it seemed so effortless for them. They were laughing and trading stories, and moving at a much faster pace than we were. At first as I trudged along, I was envious of their strength and positive attitude, but then after awhile I called upon reserves of strength I didn’t know I had until just then, and decided to mimic their behavior. After all, it wasn’t like we had given up just yet. We were still in the running, so to speak. Onward and forward! It just couldn’t be that much farther!

The landscape along the way was very interesting. At one point the trail curved around a large lake hidden away where no boat could ever reach it. It was peaceful and serene and beckoned us to explore a little longer. As we stumbled along over roots and rocks buried in the trail, I longed to sit at the water’s edge and rest, but with our time restriction we dutifully pressed on. What else is up here on this mountain, I wondered?

After we had made it around the curve in the lake we came upon two signs. The one indicated a trail that was little more than a gully wash, which began a very steep incline, and the other sign a few feet away had an arrow that indicated Eagle Mount Trail. By this time my husband and some of the other kids were ahead a little ways, and I was trailing along behind with the stragglers. Now what? Which way was the right way? Being in the tired state of mind that I was, I chose the easier trail and started down that way. Looking back now I think that trail probably circled around the lake, and was named after the mount we were trying to hike up.

Thankfully we had our walkie talkies, and I got an insistent message intermixed with static that I was to take the first trail. At first I reasoned that the trail sign said Eagle Mount Trail, and that was what we were supposed to take! ( I did not want to turn around, because the trail we were on was fairly easy. I needed to be absolutely sure that the gully wash was where we needed to go!) The voice through the static was insistent, so I acquiesced and gave the distressing news to those who were with me. Disheartened, we turned around and found the first trail, which was by far more difficult.

Years ago at a high school church camp I had the opportunity to hike up Horn Peak in Colorado. While Eagle Mount was not nearly as difficult as that, it was still hard. Memories flooded over me of how people had encouraged each other on that extremely difficult climb in Colorado. Now was the time to share the advice I had learned with the kids who were with me. “Pick a spot somewhere along the trail and reach that. Don’t look all the way up! When you’ve reached your goal rest a moment and pick another goal. It’s going to be so awesome when we reach the top!”

Another piece of advice given by their dear late Grandpa was “Don’t look at how much you have to do until you are half way there.” We used this opportunity to remember Grandpa Van Engen, and his wisdom.

Rock after rock, root after root, one foot in front of the other, all the time climbing higher and higher, and all of a sudden, we were at the top! We made it! It was exciting and exhausting all at the same time. We took pictures and celebrated with snacks and water. We looked out over the valley and enjoyed the height. Below us were countless trees, more hidden lakes and blue sky with puffy white clouds as far as the eye could see. The “athletic family” was just leaving, and we sat up there all alone together as a family. It was an awesome experience! God had planned an interesting day for us and had given us a special opportunity to see some of his creation. It was breathtaking!

The trip back down the trail was rather uneventful. The gully wash was a little treacherous with the younger kids, but we made it safely down. The kids seemed to be energized by going back along the trail and remembering the different landmarks from a couple of hours earlier. The fishermen were excited to be on their way back to the campground, and it looked like there would still be some time to fish!

Our Christian walk on this earth is a little like our hike up Eagle Mount. We have a goal that we are trying to reach, and there are so many times where we need the encouragement and support of each other to help us reach that goal.

The Westminster shorter catechism Q&A #1 gives a good explanation of the Christian’s purpose or goal in life. It asks “What is the chief end of man?” and answers with, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

One of the things God has given to us to help us reach our goal of glorifying and enjoying him forever is our church family. They are a special gift to us to enrich our lives by reminding us of our goal, and encouraging us in our walk.

The members of the church quite often give help bearing each other’s burdens just like the older kids were able to do for the younger kids on the hike. In fact the trail became difficult for the older kids, because they were busy helping the younger ones. This particular trail was probably not too hard for them by themselves, but being part of the family they were compelled to help their weaker siblings. With a child on their back the trail became more of a burden. It also became a time of fellowship for them, as they walked along together. It strengthened their friendship with each other just like it does within the church family.

Other times we think the trail becomes too difficult. We feel like giving up just like the huffing and puffing unhappy women, who had turned around on the trail to Eagle Mount. Sometimes we might slip or backslide off of the trail for a ways, but the Lord preserves our faith. He won’t ever let us turn around and give up. His love sustains and nourishes us, and so often it is through the body of believers either offering encouragement or rebuke to keep us focused on the goal.

Often too, we find that when we are facing discouragement the Lord sends along someone to encourage us, just as the smiling well wishers did for us as we were hiking along. Perhaps it is a word fitly spoken. Maybe it is a note from a church member with a Bible verse to remind us of our goal.

There are also those times when we need church members to point out the right way. We need them to show us when we are on the wrong path. It is so easy to get lost in this sinful world and head out for the wrong “trail” of sin. Perhaps the wrong trail seems easier, and we do not want to be on the right path. We need those loving church members to show us from the Bible that we are erring and point us in the right direction.

Now what about those spiritual giants in the church world? Surely we are not daunted by those who are in better spiritual shape than we are like I was with the “athletic family” that blew past us on our way up the trail. Many people in the church world throughout history have been given the calling to be spiritual giants. They write commentaries, books and study materials that we can benefit from.

Sometimes we look at a thick book written by a famous saint, and we think there is no way I can ever understand them. We make excuses and say those people are too smart or they write in a language that is too difficult to understand. Is that true, though? Have we tried to read and study the points of doctrine or church history they are teaching? Hopefully we are able to take advantage of the wisdom they have been given and have shared with us.

If you ever have the opportunity to hike up Eagle Mount or a similar trail I hope that you will be able to compare your hike with your Christian walk here on earth. Remember the trials and the encouragement from others as you are hiking, and compare that to your life, as you face trials and receive encouragement from the church members. When you have struggled and finally reached the goal of the top of the mountain, remember what your ultimate goal and purpose in life is.

Another time of reflection comes to mind as I remember our family’s little trip into northern Minnesota. As you will recall from the previous Beacon Lights issue there were some lessons learned from our trip that I would like to share with you.

One beautiful afternoon we were down by the lake relaxing and enjoying the unique stillness that is particular to Sawbill Lake. In awe of the stunning beauty all around us we just sat and looked at the still waters, the island in the middle of the lake, the hundreds of trees all around us and the loons bobbing in and out of the water. The view was just so different than what we see everyday where we live. The beauty was astounding, and we were thoroughly enjoying our vacation and the change of scenery it provided for a few days.

About this time I happened to look down for a moment, and there on the ground very near to my feet was a dirty used band-aid. Gross! I curled my legs up in disgust of being so close to touching that germ infected bandage. I was thoroughly disgusted and felt appalled. It was repulsive, and it spoiled the moment for me. (I felt like a loon with my feathers ruffled!)

After calming myself down, I started to think that sinners are like a dirty band-aid. God in his holiness is repulsed by our sin. We are nothing more than rotting infection, and he is perfect and lovely in every way. It gave me pause to wonder that he would love us. We, who have marred God’s beautiful creation with our sin and even enjoy our sins, are the object of his love. That is amazing to think about.

God in his amazing love showed us how much he loved us by giving up all of his glory and taking on the punishment of our putrid sins for us. He loved us in our rottenness, and claimed us as his own children. He redeemed us with his blood, and made us heirs in heaven with him. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).

There are other verses of course, too, which tell of God’s great love for us and how our sins have been forgiven. Many places in the Bible tell how we have been washed clean and are made new creatures in Christ. We are no longer the disgusting band-aid in God’s eyes. We are his children. We have become precious to him. We, his people, have so much to be thankful for. Praise be to God our Savior, who has redeemed us from our sins!

Last summer we had the privilege of taking a family vacation to the Lake Superior area in northern Minnesota. On the second day of our vacation a local businessman recommended Sawbill Lake, which was a little ways north and west from where we were staying. He had our boys especially interested with his wonderful fishing tales from Sawbill Lake. This man also called up to the lake to see if they had a campsite for us, and they did.

We voted as a family to take this stranger’s recommendation and give Sawbill Lake a try. We packed up our tents and moved out from our already beautiful campground in Gooseberry Falls wondering what we were getting ourselves into. Honestly, I was the one who had the biggest reservations about relocating. Not only was there a ton of work involved with packing up camp with eight children, but we were going on the recommendation of a complete stranger! It sounded a little “fishy” to me, but the hope of being able to do some serious fishing was too great a pull for the older boys (and their dad) to keep us in the comfort of a non-fishing campground complete with bathrooms and shower.

At one point while we were packing up, one of the boys came up to me in private and almost guiltily admitted that this man had also said that we would have to take 25 miles of gravel to get there. Well, knowing how my husband felt about taking his cars on gravel roads, I instantly dismissed my son’s concerns with “Oh, you know Dad would never agree to that, so I’m sure it will be fine.”

After driving north to the turn off, we drove west for one mile and the road suddenly narrowed and turned into…gravel. It was the worst gravel road we had ever been on, and it was “washboard” gravel for 25 miles. We slowed our pace to a comfortable bounce and jostle. All we could see were trees and a gravel road that stretched endlessly ahead of us. As we drove deeper and deeper into the national forest, I kept wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. I took comfort in knowing that God is always with us and that whatever happened to the rest of the week’s vacation was all in his plan. Secretly, though, I hoped that if we had made a foolish mistake, we wouldn’t suffer the consequences in a dumpy, rundown, hole-in-the-wall campground.

After what seemed like forever, we arrived at the campground, and it was…absolutely beautiful. The check-in lodge was a newer building, and everything seemed very clean. The campground itself wasn’t very big, but each campsite was very spacious. We picked out a campsite and set up camp. It was almost too good to be true! It was so quiet and uncommercialized. Everything was so pristine just like our friend had said it would be.

We went down to the lake, and we were the only ones around. The camp staff said that we could swim anywhere we wanted. We put life jackets on the little ones and enjoyed wading around the water’s edge and climbing on the rocks that were in the water. The beauty was indescribable.

Sawbill Lake borders on the Boundary Waters area, so the next day we took advantage of renting canoes and taking a 5-hour canoe trip into the Boundary Waters. It was an awesome experience. From this little vacation into northern Minnesota I found time to reflect on many of God’s truths and promises, which I would like to share with the Beacon Lights’ readers.

The most striking thing for me was the pristine beauty and peacefulness of the place. The early morning sunrises breaking forth through the mist off of the lake, the hundreds of scented pine trees reaching up to the sky, the clear water with its world of rocks underneath, the clouds drifting lazily across the sky, the loons slowly paddling wherever the breeze beckoned them, the hush of the day as the sun set with all of its brilliant colors reflecting off of the water, the night animals calling out to each other through the inky darkness, and the stars in their brightness too numerous to even begin to count were all overwhelming in their magnificence.

Early one morning my husband and I got up to watch the sun rise over the lake. While we were sitting on the bank enjoying the stillness and the beauty, my husband offered to go back to the campsite and get the binoculars. Being already engrossed in the beauty I thought I would be content to just see things as they were, but then after a moment I started to wonder what it would be like to see everything through the binoculars.

He wasn’t gone long, and when he returned we took turns looking at things a little closer up. It was absolutely breathtaking! All of the fuzziness that we could barely see with our natural eye was instantly cleared up. Things became sharper and more distinct, and the colors were more vivid. Each branch and needle on the pine trees across the lake became focused, as well as the crevices in the rocks along the shore.

After several enjoyable moments of taking it all in, thoughts drifted through my mind of how life will be in heaven. Sometimes we think that what we have in this life is already good enough. We are content with the way things are. We don’t want our lives on this earth to end, but God promises us more! I John 2:25 says: “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” He promises us a better life—an eternal life free from sin. Sure we see some of God’s beauty here on earth and experience God’s goodness, but entering heaven will be like seeing through binoculars. Everything will be better. Things will be more brilliant and clear. Life will be even more glorious and breathtaking! God’s goodness and glory will be magnified!

Drifting along with these musings I was also impressed with the thought that so often we don’t long for heaven like we should. If God promises us a better eternal life, shouldn’t we yearn for that? How often we find ourselves striving for the things of this world but putting heavenly things on the bottom of our priority list. It reminded me of our instruction from the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:2: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” This is not always easy to do. There are so many responsibilities, commitments, and temptations in this life. There are so many things that keep our eyes on the things of the earth, and yet, we are told to set our affections on things above.

We, of course, cannot do this in our own strength, and our prayer is that God will help us long for His heavenly kingdom like we should. As God reveals himself to us more and more, may we be encouraged through the Holy Spirit to long after our heavenly life.

As time marches on I’ve found that I have a growing affection for the Spring season. When I was growing up I always thought that Fall was the best time of year, but that was most likely due to my birthday being in October. As a kid, just growing another year older (and getting a birthday present) was enough of a reason to make Autumn my favorite season. I still love the crisp autumn weather that is so refreshing after a hot summer and much can still be said about the beauty and wonder of Fall, but there is something about Spring that has me waffling on which season is actually my favorite.

Spring brings in Summer and puts an end to Winter, and after living in the Midwest for many years now I wholeheartedly look forward to Spring, as it melts away the many months of icy cold weather. Oh, there is definitely a beauty in Winter in the snowstorms and ice on the trees, and there is much that can also be said about the mighty cold and the creative work of God in each little snowflake that is unique throughout all of time. Spring, though, is more gentle and holds a certain promise of life.

Each season is actually very special and given to us as a promise of God’s care for us. After the flood, God says in Genesis: 8:22, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” All of the seasons have their purpose in God’s creation and serve to bring him glory.

Beautiful Spring, though, brings relief from the harshness of Winter. It is a taste of heaven as we come out of this sinful world and enter into a heavenly place where there is no sin. As we leave the biting cold winds and the ice that causes us to slip and fall, we enter into a beautiful world of new life with leaves budding on the trees and baby animals being born. All around us we see an awakening of things in nature. Life is restored.

With the Spring season we also have Easter, which celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead! “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:6a). Death could not keep him! I Corinthians 15:54b-55 says “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” He is risen, and if Christ is risen we who have been forgiven of our sins and are given to believe are also risen with him!! Lord’s Day 22 Q&A 57 comforts us with these words: “What comfort doth the resurrection of the body afford thee? That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head; but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.”

Spring is a celebration of new life! It is a time of great joy, as we are given such a beautiful picture of our heavenly eternal life. We can see the new life as we watch the green grass poking through the snow and the early Spring flowers push forth with their beautiful colors. We can feel the sun warm us and beckon us to come outside and see the beautiful new earth. We can hear the birds singing as they were so carefully created to do. All nature praises God! May we also break forth in praises to our God as we celebrate this beautiful season of Spring.

Sam jumped out of bed Saturday morning with big plans running through his head. Today he was going to work on his fort in the backyard! Dad had given him some pieces of scrap wood to use, and Sam was determined to have the best fort ever built. He hurriedly dressed in some clothes he found lying on his floor, dashed down the stairs, jumped over the last two and landed with a nice thud.

Mom was already busy in the kitchen. “Bye, Mom,” Sam said. “I’m going to work on the fort.”

“Well, you can play for awhile, but don’t forget Saturdays are work days. You will need to help inside in a little while,” Mom reminded him.

“OK,” answered Sam and he flew out the door before Mom could change her mind.

“I hate work days,” Sammy muttered as he made his way to the corner of the backyard where his fort was. “I hate housework! Yuck!” Sam continued. “I want to do REAL WORK. I want to use tools to build things, use the snow blower, or use the chain saw to trim trees. Cleaning my room is boooooooring, and so is taking out the garbage and mopping floors. I hate Saturday work!”

By now Sam had worked himself into quite a bad mood. He got busy hammering with some old nails Dad had given him, and after awhile he began to feel cheerful again…until his loud little brother called him inside.

Robby, Sam’s little brother yelled loudly out the back door, “SAAAMM, MOM SAAAYS YOU HAVE TO COME IN AND WORK NOWWW!”

“Arggg,” Sam Growled to himself. “Maybe if I just ignore him he will go away.”

Robby continued, “SAAAAMM, MOM, SAYS YOU HAVE TO COME INNNN RIGHT NOWWWW AND IF YOU DON’T SHE’S GONNA SPANK YOU AND GIVE YOU ALL SORTS OF WORK IF YOU DON’T COME 1N RIGHT NOWWWWW.

SAAAAMM, MOM SAAAAYS—”

“Alright, ALRIGHT! I heard you the first time,” Sam yelled back impatiently. He walked slowly up to the back door. “Why do you have to yell so LOUD anyway? You’re always so LOUD!” Sam said rudely.

“Nu Uh, Sam, you’re just in a bad mood ‘cause you have to work,” Robby answered.

“OK boys,” Mom said as they pushed and shoved each other into the kitchen. “No more fighting. Now, I made out the work list. It’s on the table. If we get the house clean then maybe we can have company over after church tomorrow night.”

“OK,” both boys answered. Sam went over to look at the list on the table. His eyes about popped out of his head when he saw his list. It read:

      Sam—
Pick up room
Vacuum bedroom and hallway
Dust bedroom
Take out garbage
Help Mom clean the bathroom

“This is going to take forever!” Sam complained.

“Oh, come on,” Mom said. “It won’t take that long if you just get to it. If you would keep your room clean to begin with it wouldn’t be so hard to pick up.” Mom reprimanded. “Let’s see if we can get this done in record time. If we hurry and do a good job maybe there will still be time to take one last bike ride before the weather gets too cold.”

Sam walked slowly up the stairs. Just then he heard crying and laughing. “Well, the twins must be up.” Sam thought. The twins were eighteen months old and had become quite the terrors. If he didn’t keep all of his prized possessions away from them it wouldn’t be long before the twins totally destroyed them. He had to admit the twins were pretty cute sometimes, but it was frustrating when they wrecked his stuff.

“Sam,” Mom called up the stairs. “Can you get Johnny and Jenny out of their cribs for me, please? I have to make a quick phone call and then I will be right up.”

“Sure!” Sam called back eagerly, looking to do anything to get out of his Saturday chores.

He lifted his sister and brother out of their cribs and turned around. Now where did Jenny go? “Uh oh, she better not go in my—” Sam began to think. Suddenly there was a big crash.

“Jenny!” Sam yelled. “No! No! Bad girl! You can’t play with that!” Jenny had knocked over his box of Legos in his bedroom. “Now I have even more to pick up! Bad girl.”

Jenny started crying and Mom walked into the room. “Uh oh Jenny, were you a naughty baby? You may not play with Sam’s things.” She turned to Sam. “I’m sorry Sam. That’s just part of living in a family. It won’t take that long to pick up.” Jenny cried harder. “I had better feed these two before it gets any later.” Mom left the room holding a crying Jenny.

Sam threw himself on his bed and grumbled, “I wish I could think of an invention that did all of my work for me.” He heard the vacuum cleaner going in Robbie’s room. He was already vacuuming. “Maybe I could pay Robbie to clean my room for me,” Sam muttered. Just then Dad stuck his head in Robbie’s room. He was home from the office early. “I don’t think you are supposed to be taking a nap,” Sam’s dad said sternly. “It looks like you have quite a bit of work to do. The best thing to do is to just do it!” Sam rolled his eyes. “So, get off your bed and start working, son. Next time I see this room it better be clean. Get busy!”

Sam slowly started picking up all of the Legos that had spilled everywhere and he made a dirty clothes pile with all of the clothes on his floor. He worked for a little while longer until he came across his army men, and after ignoring the little voice in his head that told him to obey his parents and keep working, Sam spent the rest of the morning setting up war instead of working. When Mom called that it was time for lunch, his room was still a mess.

“I was hoping we could go for one last bike ride before it got too cold,” Mom said as they sat around the table eating.

“Well, let’s go when we are finished with our meal.” Dad answered.

“I told the boys that we would go when the chores were done,” Mom answered.

“I’M DONE! I’M DONE!” Robbie yelled across the table.

“OK, Robbie, that’s very good, but remember…not so loud.” Dad said patiently. Dad turned to Sam and asked, “How about you Sam? You should have had plenty of time to finish the work that Mom gave you to do.”

“Well, I’m almost done,” Sam lied. Truthfully he had only just begun and then quit.

“Almost is not good enough son,” Dad said firmly. “You will just have to stay home and finish.”

“Aww please…” Sam started to argue.

“No, Sam,” Dad answered. “You need to learn to obey your parents and also to be responsible about working. Staying home from the bike ride will hopefully teach you to do those things. Our job as godly parents is to teach you how to grow up to be obedient to what God teaches us in the Bible. The Bible says we must obey our parents and also that it is wrong when a man does not work. If we obey his Word then we show that we are walking in the light. When we do not obey we show ourselves to be walking in darkness. If the Spirit is in us we will be repentant and want to do what is right. Now go upstairs, think about what I have said, and finish your chores!”

Sam left the table with tears in his eyes. Dad was right. He had been disobedient and lazy. He felt miserable that his parents were disappointed with him. He watched out the window as his family rode away on their bikes. He could almost hear the twins giggling as they rode in the bike trailer. He could hear Robby who was SINGING at the top of his lungs. Sam felt miserable being separated from his family. He knew that it was his own fault, too.

He also felt separated from God. He prayed that God would forgive him for being disobedient and lazy and also for lying. He also prayed that God would give him a cheerful heart to do what he was supposed to do.

Sam got busy cleaning his room and worked on the things on the list. This time he really was almost done when everyone got home. He ran outside to meet his family. “I’m almost finished with everything!” He yelled.

“Great!” said his parents.

“I’m sorry for the way I acted,” Sam said with true repentance.

“You are forgiven,” his parents answered lovingly.

“Mom, when I’m done with my chores may I please work on the fort?” Sam asked politely.

“Yes, that would be just fine,” Mom answered with a smile.

A deep feeling of joy welled up within Sam’s heart. Sam smiled back and gave both of his parents a big hug.

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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