When I was growing up, there was an antique wood hutch in our living room. The top half of the hutch had open faced shelves filled with knick-knacks. Later those knick-knacks were replaced with religious books. The bottom half of this hutch had little doors with pretty hinges. When I was very young I was fascinated with what was behind those doors. When I would open up that hutch, there in front of me were three shelves full of neatly stacked thin paper pamphlets. I could not believe how many there were. I liked to pick one out randomly from the stack. I would first look at the cover. There was always a lighthouse on the cover, and I loved to see what color it would be on this pamphlet. I then liked to look at the date and see if I happened to picked out the one dated May 1996, the month I was born. After that I would turn to the last page. There was always a little drawing or puzzle along with a story.
As I grew up, I started to understand what those little pamphlets were. Dad said they were called Beacon Lights and a new one got delivered to our house every month. Soon, it was required that I read at least one article every Sunday from the “Beacon Lights” if I did not have catechism to study. Reading was not something I liked to do. My poor parents had to always encourage me and tell me to make myself read an article or two. It was hard because I didn’t always understand what the articles were talking about. But I realized the older I got how applicable the articles I read were to my life.
Soon, I was going to that old hutch as a young person. Sometimes by myself, but more than likely I’d have a friend or sometimes my brother along with me. We were looking for articles to share with the young people when it was our turn to lead an evening discussion group. I remember one article we picked out being about David and encouraging us as young people to stand up for what is right, like David often had to. It always fascinated me how old articles from years ago still applied so well to us today. That’s because God’s word never changes, and unlike any other book in the world, it withstands time and never gets dated. You can never study it too much.
One day our plethora of Beacon Lights got too big. We ran out of room. So we decided that we had to downsize. A lot of our Beacon Lights disappeared. Part of me wishes that never had to happen. But now that I was trying to get through a whole issue I realized we had more than enough to read.
Beacon Lights also had and still has a place in our family devotions. We have gone through the Bible with Chester Hunter. Sometimes he brings up a point we never talked about in our discussion, but we also get encouraged by hearing the same things we talked about get brought up in the devotional.
Eventually Beacon Lights changed its look. There was still a lighthouse on the front, but it didn’t change color every month. I started to recognize the names of those involved in the publication, those who wrote the articles, and even some of the young people making confession of faith. I soon saw my name printed under the confession of faith along with many other friends from various states. I still love to look there every month to see who else I know.
But the best part of Beacon Lights is the articles. My favorites are the articles that have to deal with what we as young people and young adults must face in our world today. I like those little single precious nuggets from the elderly or from young people who are well grounded in their faith. I love the encouraging or maybe warning words from our ministers. And I love hearing the bond of faith we have with those overseas.
But I also really enjoy the series articles. Some of my recent favorites have been the questions for Schuyler, the articles about different career choices, the letters to dating and single young men and women, and the articles about our ministers being called to the ministry. But my favorite has been the interviews Mark Hoeksma has had with the elderly. I love church history and to hear what those who lived during the splits of ‘24 and ‘53 had to stand for and go through is not only interesting, but also encouraging.
I know reading doctrinal material is unfortunately not very popular among many of our young people anymore. And it makes me very sad. Although it was not my favorite thing to do, I’m thankful my parents pushed me like they did to read. I wish more parents did the same. I can’t count how many times I’ve learned something new or have been encouraged by articles I read. It’s especially important for my generation to be up to date on what is happening around us, not just to know what is going on, but to understand what is happening in a scriptural light. We are going to be pressed more and more from the world as the end draws nearer, and we must not be caught unaware or be oblivious to the issues and not understand why they are wrong.
So, young people, young adults, parents: let’s continue to read these helpful pamphlets that have been a treasure in our denomination for years. Let’s encourage each other to read them and discuss them together. Parents, encourage and maybe even make your young people read Beacon Lights and the Standard Bearer. They may be resentful now, like I was, but they will thank you later.
Why do this? Because we are called to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Also read 1 Thessalonians 5. In this chapter we are reminded about Christ’s coming, how it will be as a thief in the night, how we must not be sleeping but rather building each other up, studying, praying, and watching for the signs of Christ’s coming. Verse 8 says, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” And verse 11admonishes, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” What a blessing that through the Beacon Lights we can edify, comfort, and warn each other! Let’s be thankful the Lord has given us the Beacon Lights for 75 years!