Divine Laughter (A Meditation on Psalm 2)

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This special meditation was prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Divine Laughter

Meditation on Psalm 2: 1-7

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

The Lord reigns! Just as Hurricane Laura came on our shores with howling wind and restless waves of the sea, so do the wicked rage. Psalm 2 describes the terrible opposition that David experienced once he was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. But the opposition against David is only a faint type of the reaction of the wicked against the Lord Jesus. Jesus, the righteous King is contrasted with the world that is filled with those who hate the instruction of the Lord. They are those who walk, stand, and sit in the counsel of the wicked (cf. Psalm 1). When Jesus’ righteousness reveals the wickedness of those in the world, they naturally respond in hatred. This is true not only for Christ, God’s anointed, but also for all those who follow Him. There is a conflict between those who seek shelter in the Christ and those who refuse Him. This is the conflict of the ages between the Lord’s Anointed and the nations.

Think back to the beginning of Christ’s ministry. Hearing of the birth of Jesus, Herod immediately began to plot against him. Later, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes plotted to kill Jesus. Jews and Gentiles (Pilate and the Romans) tried to extinguish the light of the world! In Acts 4: 24-28 the Apostles John and Peter report the evil treatment they received of the religious leaders. They pray to God using Psalm 2 to describe the opposition to Christ’s ministry. But clearly, they point out that the wicked doing this are only carrying out what God’s hand and counsel determined beforehand. The wicked put Jesus to death; the Lord raised and exalted Him.

What is the LORD’s reaction to this rebellion and hatred of his Son? The Psalmist writes, “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.” Just as the raging sea could not hurt Jesus and His disciples when out on the Sea of Galilee, so also the plotting of the wicked cannot hold back the reign of Christ Jesus nor His kingdom. God has set His Son on His throne. He did this after Jesus’ victory over sin, Satan, and death in His death and resurrection. He ascended up into heaven, and His enemies are made his footstool. The Apostle Paul quotes this part of Psalm 2 in Acts. 13:30-33. Paul identified the resurrection of Jesus as His royal enthronement.

What comfort this was to the church in Paul’s day. They underwent persecution from the Jews and the Gentiles. The nations hatched their plots and schemes, yet the Lord “sitteth in the heavens” and laughs. Even though Christ has been installed on Mount Zion, the nations still conspire and rebel against His authority. Do we not still see this today? Think of all the persecution of the church in many nations. Think of the sinful and rebellious counsel of the wicked in our own land. The abortion of little children is seen as essential while the worship of the Lord in His house had been banned. What a rebellious and sinful world we live in. And it will only get worse!

For the rebellion of the wicked, Christ will come with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces. We see God’s judgment in the world today with the violence and upheaval in the streets of our cities. There are the natural disasters: fires, floods, and hurricanes. This is only the beginning. Kingdoms rise and fall. But Christ is coming again in glory, and will bring judgement. Not one of the wicked will escape. They will be broken like a piece of pottery.

The Psalm ends with a call to repentance. Instead of rebelling against the Lord’s Anointed, let people abandon their sinful ways and submit in faith to Christ. “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son…Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (vs. 11,12).

When we find ourselves suffering for the sake of righteousness, we too must seek shelter in the hope of this psalm. Try as they might, the nations and the wicked will not overthrow the reign of the Lord and his Anointed. Christ reigns and will shelter all those who take refuge in Him. Oh, the heathen rage! Many take counsel together against the Lord and His Christ in rebellion. But Christ is already enthroned. Those who take refuge in Him shall also one day reign with Him. Whatever the opposition, no human power can ever nullify or undo God’s divine purpose.

Are you allowing pessimism to affect you, or are you hanging on to the hope that Christ’s kingdom will prevail in every nation? Do you serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling? Have you kissed the Son in submission and love? One day, maybe very soon, Christ will return as Judge.

How Do We Value the Kingdom of our Lord? February 2020 Tabletalk

These two parables are arguably Jesus’ simplest and certainly among His shortest, and yet the punch they pack far exceeds their word count. Why have they proven so memorable? Because they tap into our God-given imagination. You don’t need an advanced degree in theology to understand what’s going on here. On the contrary, if you have ever searched for Narnia in your backyard, or dusted off a forsaken corner of your attic in hopes of discovering a long-lost antique, or simply thought to yourself, “Is there a better way we could do this?” then you are well equipped to hear what Jesus has to say. Jesus wants our minds to wonder, “What would I do if I found the impossible?” Then He reminds us that we have found it: the kingdom of heaven.

…These parables thus call us to consider our love for the kingdom. With the treasure, Jesus asks us to reimagine what we value. Are we accounting rightly when it comes to the things of this world and the next? Would we sacrifice all worldly good to obtain something infinitely better? Then, with the pearl, He asks an even harder question: Is that sacrifice truly for the pure love of the kingdom? The treasure probes our vision and values: Do we see that the kingdom is more? But the pearl probes deeper still into our heart and will: Do we see that the kingdom is all?

The above paragraphs are the opening and closing ones to the article linked below, one of the featured articles on Jesus’ parables that make up the theme of the February issue of Tabletalk. Since we have not referenced this month’s issue yet, we do so tonight.

Editor Burk Parsons also reminds us of why Jesus, the Master Storyteller, spoke in parables:

Jesus was the master storyteller who, as prophesied in Psalm 78 (see Matt. 13:35), often taught using parables to illustrate His overarching message. He did this for at least two reasons: to confound those who rejected Him and to enlighten those who received Him (Mark 4:11–12). If someone finds all of Jesus’ stories confounding, it is because our sovereign God has not given him the eyes to see, the ears to hear, or the heart to perceive the saving truth of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, we as believers love Jesus’ parables not simply because they are good stories well told but because the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes, ears, and hearts to understand their message. We identify with the characters in His parables, and we want to hear them time and time again as we forever rest in our Father’s prodigal love for us.

To finish reading this featured article or to read more on other of our Lord’s parables, visit the Tabletalk page.

Source: The Parables of the Treasure in the Field and the Pearl of Great Price | Tabletalk

A Great Light in the Deep Darkness – H. C. Hoeksema on Isaiah 9:6

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…Particularly at Isaiah’s time, this [the shining of a great light in darkness, cf. Is.9:2] must have been marvelous to him because of the circumstances of God’s people. The faithful people of God were disheartened; they were inclined to be blackly pessimistic; there did not seem to be much hope for them. Although Isaiah is also in that darkness, he sees a great light arising in far-off Zebulon and Naphtali – tribes that at this time did not even belong to the house of David. He is amazed to see people leaping and dancing for joy as in the day of harvest and rejoicing as those who divide the spoils of battle. They are free from all foreign domination, and they rejoice in a day of great glory.

In the center of this picture is the son, the child [Is.9:6]. The prophet beholds him in a blaze of light. The government – the rule, the dominion, the prerogative to rule – is upon his shoulder. His is the right, his is the calling, and his is the power and wisdom to rule over God’s people. He sits as the everlasting king upon David’s throne. He is Christ, who from eternity was ordained of God the Father and who in his exaltation received all power in heaven and on earth to rule forever over all things in the name of God. That son, who sits on the everlasting throne of David, is the reason and the cause of this leaping and dancing and rejoicing.

The darkness is a figure. Surely the domination of the Assyrians was a historic reality, but only as Assyria was the representative of the great antichristian world power that will dominate God’s people at the end of time. As dominated by the great power of the world and by the prince of darkness, they are by nature in darkness and in the shadow of death – not in physical darkness, but in the darkness of sin and guilt and death and misery, for they are in the might and the power of Satan and of hell.

In that night Jesus kindles the light. No, he is the light! He comes with royal might; he fights and overcomes in his suffering and his atoning death; he fights and overcomes in his resurrection and exaltation; he has the victory in his return by his Spirit and word, and he shall have the victory in everlasting perfection and fullness when he returns for judgment. He is the one who actually delivers his people from all earthly and spiritual bondage and dominion, who gives them the victory, and who causes them to rejoice and to divide the spoils of battle.

redeemed-judgment-HCH-2007Taken from Redeemed with Judgment: Sermons on Isaiah (Vol.1) by Homer C. Hoeksema (ed. by Mark H. Hoeksema; Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2007), pp.149-50.

This is part of the fifteenth sermon, “The Royal Son of the Dawn” based on Isaiah 9:6.

Benzonia in 1916: “Requiem for the Homemade”

waiting-train-catton-1987For our Thursday history post today we return to Bruce Catton’s Waiting for the Morning Train (Wayne State University Press, 1987), the multifaceted story of his life growing up in northern Michigan, specifically, Benzonia and the Crystal Lake area.

Chapter 11 is our next chapter to reference, and in “Requiem for the Homemade” Catton indeed gives us a funeral message (dirge for the dead!) as he sadly reflects on the passing of one era in American history – the “homemade” life of its early settlers, of which his life in Benzonia and his education at its little Christian Academy were a small part and picture – and the entrance of a new era – the “industrial age” with its “applied technology,” ushered in by the lumber barons and WWI. Life was changing, and with keen perception Catton puts his finger on the change. Fundamentally, it was a spiritual one, as he notes in these paragraphs:

I had been growing up with the notion that life’s problems, although often difficult, were at bottom simple. To confront them took courage, ideals, high principles and unwavering faith. The heroes of the 1860s [he is referring to the Civil War men] had these qualities; the crisis of their day had been met and passed, and a permanent gain had been made – which proved that the world was becoming progressively better because the advance of man rested on a simple exercise of a few ancient virtues. This was one of life’s certainties, as revealed on a Michigan hilltop in the early years of this century. But if today’s crisis had to be met in an entirely different way than the earlier one, all certainty was gone.

And it seemed clear that it was being met differently.

War does one thing pitilessly: it holds up, before the eyes of the society that is waging it, the essential reality on which that society is based. It is a cruel mirror, apparently as distorted as the mirrors in an amusement park, actually (on the long cold glance) not distorted at all. And what it showed in 1916, for that and subsequent generations, was that the race had entrusted itself to a new belief. Its highest faith was now in the machine rather than in the spirit; in the mechanical devices man’s brain could invent rather than in the illimitable miracle that originally set that brain free to speculate, to plan, to dream and to hope. The only reality worth mentioning is the one that can be seen, touched, tinkered with, improved – or, at times, exploded. Get into the machine you have made and ride wherever it takes you. There is no other road to salvation; or to damnation either, if that makes any difference.

To which Catton adds these words about this “harsh gospel”:

So man can do anything if he tries hard enough, and to try hard enough is not simply to furrow the brow and flex the muscles but to make unlimited use of every resource at hand. Moderation becomes impossible,and if it were possible it would be regarded as sinful. The new theology had borrowed, without credit, one of the fundamental planks in the old religion: despite his disclaimers, man stands at the center of the universe. It was made for him to use, and the best and wisest men are those who use it most lavishly. They destroy pine forests, and dig copper from beneath the cold northern lakes, and run the open pits across the iron ranges, impoverishing themselves at the same time they are enriching themselves: creating wealth, in short, by the act of destroying it, which is one of the most baffling mysteries of the new gospel.

You don’t have to fully agree with Catton’s analysis to understand his main point. The old era had the religion of faith in God, embracing the supernatural and solid virtues, while the new era had the religion of faith in man, embracing what can be seen and pinning all its hopes on man’s abilities and technologies, while at the same time discarding the old virtues.

And we now know where this “new” religion has taken us. Indeed, we cnm well understand Catton’s “requiem for the homemade.” But, at the same time, we also know the true, abiding, trustworthy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He and His saving work are the source of all our hope and confidence as we face the future. Not man, not ourselves, not our technology, but Jesus is our hope.

For God and Country – The U.S. 4th of July 2018

For our Reformed reflection on this Independence Day 2018, I reference again (I did so also in 2012) a pamphlet with the above title written by Rev. Aud Spriensma, a home missionary-pastor of Byron Center (MI) PRC and former chaplain in the U.S. Army. This pamphlet is based on a speech he gave shortly after the traumatic event of 9/11 in this country, when patriotism not only ran high, but when there also seemed to be a greater national consciousness of God and an openness to the gospel (which quickly waned).

As one who has served our country as a military chaplain and who serves the church as a Reformed pastor, Rev.Spriensma is qualified and equipped to address the calling we Reformed Christians have toward “God and country”. Hence, his speech and the printed pamphlet that followed.

I will quote only a small portion of it (different from the previous time); you may find the entire pamphlet here. It would make for good reading and discussion at some point today. May we remember today, as we celebrate our nations 242nd birthday, that we are to live as those who are both for God and for country – true Reformed patriots.

In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Fourth Book, especially chapter 20, John Calvin argues against the notion that government is a polluted thing with which the Christian has nothing to do. Calvin writes: “The political state has indeed functions directly connected with religion. Government protects and supports the worship of God, promotes justice and peace, and is a necessary aid in our earthly pilgrimage toward heaven; as necessary as bread and water, light and air; and more excellent in that it makes possible the use of these and secures higher blessings to men.”

Notice how important government is. Rather than disparaging it as something corrupt and something to be avoided, John Calvin says it “is a necessary aid in our earthly pilgrimage … as necessary as bread and water, as light and air, and more excellent…” Over against the Anabaptists, Calvin insisted that government is not of Satan, but is God-given, a benevolent provision for man’s good, for which man should give God thanks.

We need to hear that. Perhaps our cynicism has not been as great since 9/11. But cynicism is always there. Now several years later, when we discover that the reasons we went to war were flawed, the cynicism is rampant. We are able to find all kinds of abuses in government and then laugh and put government down. As believers, we need rather to give thanks to God for government. John Calvin writes in his Institutes, “the function of the magistrate is a sacred ministry, and to regard it as incompatible with religion is an insult to God.”

Politics is a rotten, dirty business? Patriotism is an idolatry? Absolutely not! Rather, we must insist that it is only the child of God who can really be patriotic; the Christian makes the best citizen because he obeys for God’s sake. He is subject to the powers that be because he loves God. Not only is it true that a Christian should be patriotic, but ultimately it is only the Christian who is truly patriotic. That is the kind of patriotism that should be taught to our children.

Blessed Are the Meek – Rev. C. Haak

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This week’s message on the Reformed Witness Hour radio/Internet program (Sunday, June 17, 2018) was “Blessed Are the Meek” by Rev. C. Haak, pastor of Georgetown PRC.  Radio pastor Haak is currently doing a series on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-12, and this past Sunday he spoke on the third one as recorded in Matt.5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”

The audio file of the message is linked above on the PRC website and it may also be found on the RWH’s website and on her Sermonaudio channel.

Tonight I post a portion of the transcription of the message, finding it fitting for our reflection today.

 Meekness is the result, it is the fruit, of being poor in spirit and of knowing what it is to mourn before God.  It makes one receptive in his heart before God.  In one word:  meekness is the absence of pride.  A meek heart is the antithesis, the opposite of pride.  It is the opposite of stubbornness and fierceness and vengefulness.  Meekness is the dethroning of sinful pride and making us now teachable of God, gentle toward one another, submissive to God, confident and strong in God and in His faithful love to me.

Not only does one not assert himself, but he also sees the sin of that.  A meek person does not glory in himself.  He is not always interested in himself.  He is not watching always after his own interest.  He is not always on the defensive.  He is not always saying, “What about me?”

Beloved, by nature, we spend our whole life watching out for ourselves.  We worry about ourselves and what others are going to say about us.  We talk to ourselves.  We say, “You’re having a hard time.  Too bad people don’t understand you.  How wonderful I am and if only people would give me a chance.”  That is pride.  The meek are self-emptied people.  They are not defending the citadel of me.  They are lowly before God.  They are ready to leave everything in the hands of God, to leave themselves, their rights, their cause, their whole life, in the hand of God.  Meek.

This meekness will be seen in the attitude that we carry.  The fruit of meekness is, first of all, seen in an attitude toward God, an attitude of submission and quietness.  How often do we not struggle with the sovereign ways and the sovereign will of God?  I am not talking, now, of accepting our sinful ways or being indifferent.  But I am referring to the fact that God sovereignly appoints my portion in this life.  He arranges my life, personally and in my family, and economically, in all the details of my life.  Very often we struggle with that.  We find it very hard to be submissive to the way and to the will of God.  That is our pride.

Meekness, now, is submission, submission to the great God of heaven.  And, thus, meekness is strength!  The meek person is strong because he knows that God is holding him up.  We read in Psalm 147, “The LORD lifteth up the meek:  he casteth the wicked down to the ground.”  In meekness we are able to bear God’s chastenings in quietness and hope.  We are able to do that with a meek and a quiet spirit.  There is an example of this in the Bible.  I bring to your memory the high priest called Aaron.  Aaron’s two sons had been killed by God for offering strange incense in the tabernacle.  They had worshiped God in a manner that He had not prescribed.  And God consumed them in fire.  God, then, told Moses to tell Aaron that Aaron could not mourn over his sons.  He had to submit, in his grief, to the hand of God.  And Aaron did.  Now Aaron was far from perfect.  The Bible makes that plain.  The Scriptures tell us of all of his faults.  Yet God gave to Aaron a meekness.  He suffered quietly before God.

…The second fruit of meekness is our attitude toward others.  Meekness makes us the most approachable persons on earth.  Not bristling in pride, not sharp, cruel, spiteful.  It is the meek in Christ with whom you feel a great kinship.  Meekness attracts others.  Meekness is mildness of manner, gentleness, harmlessness.  Remember what we read in Matthew 11:28.   The Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”  Why?  “For I am meek and lowly in heart.  You are safe with Me,” said Jesus.  “Because I am meek, you may come to Me.  I’m not dangerous.  You may set your heart upon Me.”

Still more.  In meekness, we will bear patiently the insults and the injuries that we receive at the hands of others.  In meekness we will not become inflamed, vindictive.  In meekness we will not assume a demeaning attitude toward those who differ with us.  We will not show ourselves to have a harsh, censorious temperament.  We will not enjoy finding fault in others.  Meekness will be seen in gentleness, humility, and patience.  It is the absence of retaliation.  It is the absence of paying back.  It is the absence of saying, “They’re gonna get theirs.”  No, it is longsuffering and patient, especially when we suffer wrongfully.  Then we will be meek.  Listen to Galatians 6:1.   “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  The Word of God is saying that only a spirit of meekness qualifies you to deal with another who may be embittered and resentful, to deal with someone who has fallen away.  You can deal with such a person only in the spirit of meekness.  Meekness means that you are emptied of yourself.  You are dependent upon and submissive to God.  You are gentle and you are teachable.  Blessed are the meek, said Jesus, for they shall inherit the earth.

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Herman Hoeksema on the Twofold Kingdom | The Heidelblog

This interesting quotation from Robert Swierenga’s article, “Herman Hoeksema and the ‘Flag in Church’ Controversy,” was first published in Origins, the Christian Reformed Church archives-history periodical.

R. Scott Clark quoted a section from it on his blog last Friday (June 30, 2017), which I reference here. While Clark uses it in support of the Reformed “two kingdom view,” I find it also significant in connection with the Reformed view of church and state in light of our celebration of the U.S.A’s 241st birthday yesterday.

Here is a small portion of the quotation as found on “The Heidelblog”:

Hoeksema insisted that the Christian church, “as the manifestation of Christ’s body on earth, is universal in character; hence the church as an institution could not raise the American flag nor sing the national hymns.” The flag could be flown in the church edifice during choir concerts, Christian school graduation exercises, and similar events, but not during worship services. Members should also raise the flag at home, on the streets, and on all public and Christian school buildings. Hoeksema insisted that his congregants, as Christian citizens, “are duty bound to be loyal to their country” and to answer the call when needed for military service. Finally, he declared, “anyone who is pro-German in our time has no right to the name of Calvinist and is a rebel and traitor to his government.”

For the rest of the quotation by Clark, visit the link below.

I also did a post on this when this same article by Swierenga was republished in Leben magazine (the full article is now found online there). For that post, visit this link.

Source: Herman Hoeksema On The Twofold Kingdom | The Heidelblog

Blessed Pure in Heart, Blessed Peacemakers, Blessed Persecuted

As we noted before this month, the June Tabletalk is devoted to the Beatitudes our Lord spoke during His ministry on earth (cf. Matt.5).

Each of these beatitudes are given a brief explanation and application in the issue. Today I was able to read three more of these articles before our worship times.

On this Sunday night, I want to leave you with quotations from all three, so that you can also benefit from these edifying articles. I give you the links to each article so that you may also read the entire thing if you wish (they are all brief).

First is “Blessed Are the Pure in Heart” by Michael Allen:

…Our salvation involves nothing less than the gift of our Savior Himself. God is not merely the author of the gospel—God is the end of the gospel.

The “pure of heart” are those who see that we are made for and only satisfied ultimately by the sight of God. Other gifts are good; this prize alone is ultimately blessed. A crucial facet of growing in the kind of purity envisioned and given by Jesus is the insatiable sense that we would not delight in any other good or reward apart from His giving Himself to us. With David, the “pure in heart” can say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you” (Ps. 16:2).

Second is “Blessed are the Peacemakers” (linked below) by Dirk Naves:

Rooted firmly in the peace made by Christ, today’s peacemakers must look to His life as a model. His peacemaking earned Him the hatred of religious leaders and the derision of His family. His peacemaking led Him to a garden, not for quiet repose, but for midnight wrestling; not for cool refreshment, but an overflowing cup of almighty wrath. His peacemaking led Him to a cross. It led Him to outer darkness.

It also led Him to a crown, a throne, and a people from every tribe and tongue and nation. This is the lot of peacemakers. Their bodies are scarred and they have been despised, but their harvest is full and their title is no cause for shame. They shall be called sons of God.

And finally, we quote from “Blessed Are Those Who are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake,” penned by Rev. Michael Glodo.

Finally, persecution testifies to our union with Christ. In Philippians 3:8–11, Paul relates how the persecutor became the persecuted and that even though he lost all that he once held dear, he gained Christ and the righteousness that comes through faith (v. 9). The purpose or goal of counting everything else as loss is knowing Christ and the power of Christ’s resurrection along with the fellowship of Christ’s suffering, for it is necessary to become like Christ in His death if we want to share in His life. Union with Christ means a share in all things that are Christ’s, including the rejection, reviling, and persecution that was His. For if we have a share in Him, ours truly is the kingdom of heaven. And with this knowledge, we will be able to persevere with joy in trials and answer our persecutors with a benediction (James 5:1; 1 Peter 3:9).

Source: Blessed Are the Peacemakers by Dirk Naves

PRC Archives – Adams CS Class of 1961

Recently a PRC member wanted some old pictures of Adams Christian School here in Grand Rapids (now located in Wyoming, MI), so I found the box of archived items on this school and she had some items scanned for her use.

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But left in the folder was a 1961 yearbook – the “Spotlight”, as it was called then. I browsed through it and found some interesting pages that I thought could be shared today here.

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For one thing, the dedication was a nice tribute to the work of Mr. Fred Hanko, as you will see from the above page.

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The mention of his coaching in various sports made me locate the sports team pages and sure enough, Mr. Hanko coached both the boys basketball and football teams.

Yes, FOOTBALL team! And to quite a successful season too – undefeated – and not by slim margins either (note those scores!)! I can’t imagine this was tackle football, so perhaps flag. Someone from Adams can confirm. But it brought back memories of the tumbling class Mr. Hanko taught us during gym class when I was at Hope school. That was a lot of fun!

You may also note some familiar names and faces on that basketball team – including a certain PRC minister of some stature (back row in the center). It seems that this team had it struggles on the court, but still counted it a successful season. Mr. Hanko taught them sportsmanship well.

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Now this last posted page is interesting too. I believe you will notice some familiar people on those intramural teams as well as on the “safety squad.” Can you guess what the latter group’s role was? And that teacher in the upper left-hand corner, I believe that is my former 4th grade teacher at Hope – Miss W. Koole, now in glory (along with at least one other in this picture).

What a blessing our Christian schools and teachers are!

Christmas for Adults – R. Pratt

In Tabletalk’s weekend devotional for this past weekend (Dec.17-18) appeared this piece by Dr. Richard L. Pratt. Titled “Christmas for Adults,” he begins by pointing out how we delight to hear children involved in the good news of Christmas – their joyful songs and activities.

Luke21112But he reminds us that Christmas is also for adults and that we have every reason for joy too. And he shows us that the message of Christ’s first coming is laden with images of war and victory, of battle and conquest – just what we adults need in this time in which we live anticipating Christ’s second coming.

Here is part of what he has to say:

The angels were not a sweet children’s choir. They were a ‘multitude of the heavenly host’ (Luke 2:13). In the Bible, ‘Lord of hosts’ most frequently refers to God as the One who leads the armies of heaven, angels who battle Satan and demonic forces. So, when the angel announced: ‘I bring you good news of great joy…. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:10-11), much as ancient human armies sang as they entered battle, these angels sang – a vast army eager to fight against every power that threatens God’s people.

To understand the ‘great joy’ of this first Christmas, we must recognize what was so astonishing about Jesus’ birth. First, the words ‘good news,’ or ‘gospel,’ usually make us think of how Jesus brings salvation to individuals who believe in Him. ‘Good news’ includes that, but passages such as 2 Samuel 18:31 reveal that this phrase is actually the announcement of victory in battle. Second, the term ‘Savior’ makes us think again of how Jesus saves individuals from sin. Again, ‘Savior’ includes that, but passages such as Zephaniah 3:17 teach that a ‘savior’ is a warrior, one who delivers his people from harm and grants victory.

In response to the certainty of victory for ‘Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11), the angelic army sang ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ (Luke 2:14). And this praise should fill every heart, even the hearts of ‘reasonable’ adults. Evil threatens on every side, but we know the good news that victory is sure. Christ our victorious warrior was been born.