The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord. – Proverbs 21:31
The horse charges into battle. His hooves drum against the ground, vibrating the earth and filling the air with the thunder of hoofbeats. The horse’s nostrils flare wide as he heaves deep breaths. His neck muscles are corded and strong beneath his sleek coat.
A quiver of arrows is tied to the saddle and rattles with each stride, but the horse doesn’t flinch. He continues his charge into battle, ignoring the spears and arrows of the enemy. His rider is carried by the horse’s strength and fierceness, trusting the horse to keep him safe.
The horse fights valiantly during the battle, keeping his rider safe. When the battle is done, they walk back to their camp, content in their victory.
A grasshopper jumps in the deep grass, and the battle horse—who had been so brave during the battle—snorts in terror and takes off running for home as fast as he can with his rider clinging to his back.
* * *
In Bible times, men rode horses into battle. These horses had to be big and strong and brave to carry their riders into battle. The riders would trust their horses to keep them safe.
But as strong and majestic as horses are, they can still be frightened. They will spook and run away from the smallest thing. No matter how strong and beautiful a horse is, it is still a weak, undependable thing to trust in.
Today, people still often trust in things to keep them safe. While it is all right to make good and proper preparations for safety—like wearing your seat belt in the car—we don’t ultimately trust in those things.
Our safety is found in God. He might use means, like seat belts, but he is in control. No matter what happens, we don’t have to be afraid. We are loved by God, who holds our safety in his hands.
* * *
This edition of the Little Lights rubric will be the last one published in Beacon Lights. In response to the recent introduction of a new RFPA magazine (Ignited by the Word) focused on the age group that Little Lights was intended to serve, we have decided to retire this rubric. We are thankful for authors past and present who have contributed to this section of the magazine. A special thanks is due to Tricia Mingerink, who has served as the author of Little Lights for the past seven years. May God continue to call his children and make them to shine as lights in this dark world.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14
Originally published Vol 80, No 10 October 2021
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. – Proverbs 6:6-8
For school-age children, you are now going back to school this month after the summer break. Adults are going back to more full-time work after the vacation season of the summer. September is a time to focus on hard work and the labors that God gives us.
We can be tempted to shy away from doing that work. We love the rest of summer. We love being able to do what we want instead of having to do the work required of us. It can be tempting to be lazy and refuse to put effort into the work God puts before us. But God calls the person who is capable of working and yet refuses to do so a sluggard—a lazy person. Laziness is different from taking time to rest and become refreshed. God provides healthy rest, knowing the weakness of our bodies. But for those who are strong and able to work, God commands work and provides the work he has ordained for each person.
For the ant, God gives the work of gathering food and storing it for the winter so that the ant colony will survive. The ant works hard all summer to find food, and God has ordained by his good pleasure to use that work as the means to keep the ant and its colony alive. So too, God provides daily bread for his people. He uses our hard work, whether as students now or when we are adults later, to provide for our families and for the church.
The task before you as students this year may appear daunting. You might feel like a little ant surrounded in a large world with a large and heavy burden to carry on your shoulders. Pray to God for the strength to complete the work he gives you to do.
Originally published September 2021, Vol 80 No 9
Every four months in the Protestant Reformed Churches, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. All the confessing members of the church—both men and women—participate by eating the bread and drinking the wine.
As children, you might not think too much about the Lord’s Supper since you haven’t made confession of faith yet. But this is an important sacrament, and by watching and listening, you can participate with your heart even if you don’t participate by eating the bread or drinking the wine.
The form that the minister reads explains that Jesus founded the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper when he celebrated the last Passover with his disciples just before he died. We eat the bread and drink the wine in the Lord’s Supper to remind us of Jesus’s death on the cross that paid for our sins. Like baptism, the Lord’s Supper speaks to us of the cleansing from our sins that is found in Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.
We don’t eat Jesus’s body or drink His blood physically in the Lord Supper. But, in the Lord’s Supper, we are spiritually fed. It is a sacrament that the church experiences together. That is the reason it is also called communion. It unites the church together as the church as a body celebrates Christ’s sacrifice that saved his church.
The Lord’s Supper is a beautiful sacrament. As children, it is good to long for the day that you make confession of faith and can join in the Lord’s Supper with the confessing members of the church.
Originally published August 2021, Vol 80 No 8
In the Old Testament, fathers were instructed to circumcise their sons eight days after the baby boy had been born. It was a sign of the covenant that involved blood. It reminded the parents that blood needed to be shed to save their children from sin. Back then in the Old Testament, they were still waiting for the Messiah to shed that blood.
Now we live in the New Testament. Baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant since Christ has come. He has shed His blood. He has washed us—His chosen people—from our sins.
Did you know that you are a part of baptism every time you are in church and watch a baby being baptized? In our churches, the ministers baptize children in church where the whole congregation can see and participate. When we see a baby baptized, we are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice and the forgiveness of our sins. The water of baptism doesn’t wash away our sins. Christ’s blood does that.
The next time you watch a baby being baptized, think about what it means. That we are God’s children, and we have been washed of our sins in Christ’s precious blood.
Originally published July 2021, Vol 80 No 6
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. – Psalm 103:13
In the United States, we celebrate Father’s Day in June, a day to celebrate fathers and grandfathers. In the Bible, fatherhood is used as a picture of God’s fatherhood of us, His adopted children. This is a duty that Godly fathers carry, knowing their examples are to point their children to God.
The Bible tells the story of many covenant fathers:
Adam, the father of all mankind.
Abraham, the father of all the faithful.
Joseph, the adopted father of Jesus.
The Bible also tells the story of many Godly men who were often imperfect fathers:
Noah, who faithfully raised his sons while building the ark, yet later failed in his drunkenness.
Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel, who failed in favoritism between his many sons.
David, a man after God’s own heart, who failed often as a father in disciplining his children.
Yet God, in His Grace, preserved the covenant even through these failures. Even when the earthly picture fails, God remains the ultimate example of true fatherhood. He never fails. Never falters. He loves His children and always does what is best for them for His glory.
On Father’s Day, did you take the time to thank your father for all he does for you? For the long hours he works to care for you. For the time he spends with you teaching you life skills and lessons. For listening when you need advice. And, most of all, for teaching you the Bible and pointing you to your Heavenly Father.
Many of us have amazing fathers who are Godly examples to us, and Father’s Day is a day to let them know they are appreciated and, especially, to thank God for giving us the good fathers we have.
Originally published June 2021, Vol 80 No 6
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. – Proverbs 31:28
In the United States, we celebrate Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate mothers and grandmothers. As Christians, we especially celebrate our Godly mothers and grandmothers.
The Bible tells the story of many faithful covenant mothers:
Eve, the mother of all humanity.
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, who believed God’s promises and gave birth to Isaac when she was old.
Jochebed, Moses’s mother, who hid her son so that he wouldn’t be killed by Pharaoh.
Deborah, a mother in Israel who was both a judge and prophetess.
Hannah, who prayed for a son, and God answered her prayer by giving her Samuel.
Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.
Eunice, Timothy’s mother, and Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, who both helped raise Timothy to be a Godly man who become a minister in the early Church.
Many more examples of faithful mothers in the Bible could be added to this list.
On Mother’s Day, did you take the time to praise your mom for all that she does for you? Take the time to give her a hug and tell her thank you for all that she does, and not just on Mother’s Day but all year round. She cleans up after you, makes sure you have a lunch for school, and washes your clothes. But, more than any of that, she teaches you the Bible. She makes sure you know your catechism and Sunday school lessons. She sings Psalter numbers and hymns with you while you are learning them for school programs and Sunday School programs. She is faithful in teaching you about Jesus.
Originally published May 2021, Vol 80 No 5
In the spring, we watch eagerly as the snow melts and the flowers grow from the ground.
One of the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring is the tulip. While we often associate tulips with the Netherlands, they were originally from southern Europe and Central Asia. The bulb was introduced to western Europe in the late 1500’s, especially taking off in the Netherlands at that time. In the early 1600’s, the new Dutch Republic was at the height of its power in trade around the globe, and the tulip bulb became a highly prized item in what was called “tulip mania.” The tulip mania was still going on while the Synod of Dordt was being held in 1618-1619.
Perhaps, due to the close connection between tulips, the Netherlands, and the defense of Biblical truth at the Synod of Dordt, we might think that the use of the acronym TULIP came into use at that time.
TULIP describes the Five Points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Preservation (or Perseverance) of the Saints. This is the truth found in the Bible that became described and organized in the creeds, especially in the Canons of Dordt.
However, the use of TULIP to teach and remember the Five Points of Calvinism is more recent. It was first used in a lecture in New Jersey in 1905, a lecture that was later referenced in a publication in 1913. The first use of TULIP in a doctrinal work was in 1932 in the book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner.
Using the acronym TULIP has become a way that many of us learn and remember the essential Reformed doctrines. When we see the tulips bloom in the spring, we remember the glory of God in His underserved and sovereign salvation of His people.
The 1912 Psalter was the product of nine denominations working together to provide a single Psalter for use in their congregations. The times have been few when God has given so many Reformed denominations to work together.
Yet, even then, three of the nine denominations were already moving toward hymn-singing along with psalm-singing in church. These denominations abandoned the 1912 Psalter within years of its printing.
Even the Christian Reformed Church, only twenty-years after they approved the Psalter, printed their first Psalter Hymnal in 1934. Yet, this first Psalter Hymnal provided an addition to the 1912 Psalter. This Psalter Hymnal had English translations of some of the Genevan psalter numbers that had been well-loved in the Dutch Psalter. These songs were added as the Chorale section at the back of the Psalter we use today.
Many Reformed denominations in the United States and Canada continue to cling to the Psalter for use in their churches, including our own denomination, the Protestant Reformed Churches of North America.
Every Sunday, when we sing from the Psalter, we are singing tunes and wordings composed and written across centuries. As we start this new year singing once again from the Psalter, we can be thankful for the songs God has given us to sing to praise him joyfully throughout the year.
Originally published January 2020, Vol. 79 No. 1
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. – Prov. 3:13-14
By now, it is March in a long school year. It has been months since Christmas break, and it might seem like the school year is dragging on and on. This year especially with all the extra difficulties of having to wear a mask and the concerns of sickness can make the year seem like it is taking forever.
But school is important, no matter how long and boring it seems. While learning math and English and spelling, your teachers are also teaching you how to think and understand. They are teaching you the wisdom found in God’s Word.
Your parents also spend their evenings teaching you wisdom and understanding when they help you with your school work or do family devotions or take the time as you are together as a family to use every moment as a learning experience.
According to this passage, wisdom and true understanding is better than silver or gold. Godly wisdom, the ability to apply knowledge in a Godly way to all of life, is better than money. It is worth all the hard work you are putting into learning at school now so that you will have Godly wisdom and understanding through your entire life.
Originally published March 2021, Vol 80 No 3
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
the way of a man with a maid. – Prov. 30:18-19
At this time of year, the stores are filled with pink decorations. The center aisle is filled with candy with red and pink wrappers and shaped like hearts. Perhaps your class is planning a Valentine’s Day party where you and your classmates exchange fun cards and candy. Maybe your parents are getting a babysitter so that they can have dinner just the two of them for Valentine’s Day.
You’ll hear a lot about love this month. Hopefully, you have a really good example of love in your mom and dad. They love each other in a way that is wonderful and maybe a little hard to understand at your age. They also love you, even when they are disciplining you because you did something naughty. And you love them and your siblings, even if you can’t put “love” into so many words.
But the truest and deepest love is the love that God has for you, His child. He chose you before the foundations of the world. He sent his Son Jesus to die for your sins and make you clean and perfect. He adopted you as His child, and that is a love so deep, so wonderful, that we struggle to comprehend how deep and how wonderful even though we have the entire Bible to tell us how much God loves us.
Because God loves us, He works in our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that we love Him. The love we have in our hearts for God is a deep, abiding love that is stronger than our love for parents or our siblings or anyone or anything on this earth because it has the strength of God as its source.
So in this month of hearing so much about the world’s version of true love, you can rest in the truest love of God Almighty. Even if your parents’ relationship with each other isn’t perfect. Even if your relationship with your parents or your siblings isn’t perfect. Even if there is a lot of fighting and hurt and you feel lonely and unloved in this month that seems to be all about love, you are not alone. You are not unloved. You have the love of God, and His love is enduring and unshakable and true.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Although it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been immersed in news coming from Japan about the 2020/2021 Olympic games, it’s still worth considering how these events are understood in the modern worldview of our country. The “Top Story of the Day” on Monday, August 9 (at least according to my newsfeed), was how […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. The story of Judah is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. We often overlook this history because it is nestled in the middle of the story of Joseph. All the […]
The month of November is a kind of turning point in the year. While the summer and early fall months are behind us and school is back in full swing along with its busy schedule of homework, catechism, and sports, there is much to look forward to in the coming holiday season. As we collectively […]
M. Kuiper, Through Many Dangers (Jenison: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2021) Through Many Dangers is a work of Christian, historical fiction that has just been released this summer by the RFPA. The book is written especially for young people and details the story of a group of Dutch Reformed boys who serve in the […]