Do you want your children to see you as someone they can trust? Do you want your spouse to take comfort in just being with you? Are you easy to talk to? Is your family hesitant to talk to you when they are hurting? If someone in your family messes up or is in trouble are you the person that helps him feel secure and safe, the person that she knows will help make things right? You want to be able to answer yes to these questions. In fact, you sometimes get angry and hurt when those close to you don’t seek your help. Ironic, isn’t it? Here is a biblical quality that can help you become the go-to person for those whom you love. That quality is gentleness. Gentleness requires great courage. It is not for the faint of heart. Gentleness is the opposite of weakness. Gentleness is part of the Spirit’s fruit. Gentleness is the exercise of the Spirit’s power. Your anger is the exercise of your own self-centeredness. Gentleness defined: Gentleness uses only the strength or force that is necessary for any given situation. Gentleness is showing Christ to those you love. God wants you to associate gentleness with power not weakness. Why? Because Christ is gentle. If you want to be Christ-like ask him for the strength to follow his example. Christ does not treat you as your sins deserve. Ask him for the power to love your family as he loves you. Ask him to help you say and mean these words:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).What would your family think if you said these words to them? Give your family the Spirit’s powerful gift of gentleness.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk: Talking freely and Naturally about God with Your Children and Everyday Talk about Sex & Marriage. He blogs at ShepherdPress.com, where this article (reprinted with permission) first appeared.
The religions of the world are many, each offering their own understanding of the deity or deities (as the case might be). The persons behind this website are unashamedly Christian, and so believe in triune God as revealed in the Bible. This sets us apart from adherents to Islam or Hinduism or Shintoism, etc. The Christian faith is in turn represented in today’s world by many schools of Christian thought. Each of these schools of thought embrace and defend their own understanding of who God is, and so of how He is to be served. The persons behind this website are unashamedly Reformed – which in turn sets us off from Christians of Anabaptist or Roman Catholic or Pentecostal or Arminian persuasion. What, then, does it mean to be Reformed? History The term ‘reform’ captures the Biblical concept of ‘turning’, and is used to describe a return to the ways God revealed in His revelation. One speaks, for example, of the ‘reformation’ King Hezekiah initiated in Israel, when he sought to turn the people away from service to idols to revere again the God who claimed them for Himself in His covenant of grace established with them at Mt Sinai (see 2 Chronicles 29-32). In the course of Church History the term ‘reform’ is used specifically in relation to the ‘reformation’ in the 16th century. In this ‘reformation’ countless thousands in Europe, under the leadership of reformers as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli and others, distanced themselves from the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church and returned to the simple instruction of Holy Scripture. Those who followed the reformer John Calvin came to known as ‘Reformed’, in distinction from those who followed Luther (Lutherans) or Menno Simons (Mennonites), etc. Churches of continental origin in the mould of Calvin’s thinking tend to have the term ‘Reformed’ in their name, while Calvinist churches of British origin tend to have the term ‘Presbyterian’ in their name. Both are theologically ‘Reformed’ in their thinking. Distinctive What, then, is distinctive of ‘Reformed’ thinking? Typical of Reformed thinking is specifically the way one sees who God is, His God-ness, if you will. This one central principle of Reformed thinking has several flow-on implications that I list below. 1. God Reformed thinkers, and so faithful Reformed Churches, take God for real. He is not the product of human thought or hopes, but very real and living. Unlike our world, He has been from eternity, one God in three Persons, having no need outside Himself – and so not needing mankind either. That Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one true God is to Reformed believers an incomprehensible riddle, but in no way a problem ‒ for the creature man can never be ‘big enough’ to understand the Godhead of the Creator. The Reformed thinker is content with that, for a God he could understand is not worthy of worship, let alone trust. This almighty God fashioned the world through His word of command in the space of six days, and He has upheld the world He made ever since. The force of the term ‘upheld’ is that if almighty God were to withdraw His supporting hand this world would immediately collapse again into the nothingness it was before He made it. All creatures, then, are fully dependent on Him for existence itself. Further, the God who upholds this world does more than keep the world existing; He also governs it so that history happens according to His pre-arranged plan. Earthquakes and hair loss come not by change or through scientific necessity, but instead by His Fatherly hand (whereby pressure on tectonic plates and one’s genetic makeup are simply the means God uses to bring about the earthquake or the baldness). And if one seeks to understand why He allows earthquakes to happen (and some people to lose their hair), the Reformed thinker does not insist that God give account to man – for God and His wisdom is so exceedingly far above what any man can comprehend. (And if it were not so this God would not be worthy of worship and trust…). 2. Man The second central tenet of the Reformed faith is the smallness of man. Unlike God, man is but a creature, and therefore limited by time and space in what he can understand. Even before his fall into sin, the creature man –simply because he’s a creature‒ could never begin to wrap his mind around God; the distance between the creature and the Creator is simply too great. The fall into sin, of course, rendered man’s ability to understand the Creator more impossible still – and at the same time made mankind so arrogant as to think that he could understand God or call Him to account or even deny His existence. 3. Covenant The third central belief of the Reformed faith is that this God of overwhelming and eternal greatness did not ignore the creature He made but established a bond of love with mankind. This eternal and holy God, in whose presence angels cover their faces, fashioned mankind for the purpose of being bound to Him and so this God of glory adopted the creature man to be His child! Here’s a marvel one cannot begin to fathom; why would eternal God, sufficient in Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, form a covenant with a creature-of-dust?! The question becomes the more pressing –and incomprehensible‒ after mankind broke that bond of love with his fall into sin: why would eternal, holy God (sufficient in Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit!) re-establish this covenant with sinful man?! How wonderful and awesome this God is! 4. God’s Mercy The bond of love between God and man was and is fully God’s doing. Neither before the fall into sin nor after the fall into sin was there anything in man that drew God to love him. Indeed, how could it even be that eternal God should find something in the creature man that would earn His love?! Whatever man has or is has come from God to begin with. It is God Himself who in mercy initiated a covenant bond with man in Paradise, and equally God Himself who in greater mercy reached out to man again after he spurned God’s covenant love in Paradise. To re-establish this bond of love, the Lord God had to ransom sinners from Satan’s grasp as well as ensure that the penalty for sin be paid; the creature man, after all, did not have the wherewithal to free himself from Satan’s grasp and did not have the wherewithal either to pay for sin. In the face of man’s bankruptcy and weakness the Lord did not leave man in his misery (though He would have been justified in doing so), but determined instead to become man Himself in the person of the Son so that Jesus Christ –true God and true man‒ could atone for sin, deliver sinners from Satan’s might, and reconcile sinners to God. Redemption, then, is in no way the work of man; salvation is instead the gracious work of sovereign God to those who don’t deserve it. And this mercy, of course, points up the more how wonderful this glorious God is! With redemption, then, so fully God’s work and God’s grace, with no person having the slightest claim to such redemption (both by virtue of his being a creature of God’s making as well as by virtue of his having spurned God’s covenant love in Paradise), no person has any right to criticize God for determining who will benefit from His mercy in Jesus Christ. Both the number of those who are saved as well as the specific identities of those who are saved are fully and totally up to sovereign God. This is predestination, the teaching that God determines who are saved. This teaching is, in fact, a subset of the reality of God’s providence – the teaching that nothing in God’s creation happens by chance but all comes about by His Fatherly hand. That includes the movement of earth’s tectonic plates and the loss of my hair, and includes then too whether I hear the gospel of redemption or not, as well as whether I believe the doctrine of redemption or not. 5. Our Responsibility The final characteristic essential to what ‘Reformed’ means is the notion of human responsibility. Though man is but a creature-of-dust (and now sinful as a result of the fall also), God fashioned him with the ability to make responsible decisions. Since God endowed man in the beginning with this ability, man is responsible to act in agreement with this ability – and God holds him accountable to act according to this standard. It is true that, with the fall into sin, man lost the ability to act responsibly-before-God, for all his actions (and words and thoughts) have become defiled by sin. But since this inability is not because of a weakness in how God made man, but is instead because of man’s deliberate disobedience in defying the Creator’s demands, God continues to hold all people responsible for all their actions – and eternally punishes those who act irresponsibly before Him. Though sovereign God controls all things (including what I eat for breakfast and who will be saved), I am responsible for all my conduct (including that I eat well and that I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ). My inquisitive human mind hungers to rationalize how God can be 100% sovereign and I be 100% responsible at the same time, but this is a riddle no human can solve – simply because we are finite and God is sovereign. The Reformed thinker accepts this reality, takes his responsibility seriously, and praises his God for the good decisions the Lord enables the believer to make. In Sum What, then, does it mean to be Reformed? In sum, to be Reformed is to have great thoughts of God, small thoughts of man, and deep, deep gratitude for God’s boundless mercy to sinners in Jesus Christ – a mercy directly specifically to me that I am allowed to be His child for Jesus’ sake! Lord’s Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism catches the resulting comfort so well:
… I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.
Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.To be Reformed: what a privilege!
Rev. Clarence Bouwman is a pastor in the Smithville Canadian Reformed Church.
The Board of Covenant Canadian Reformed School invites applications for the 2019-2020 school year for a:
Temporary Full-Time Grade One Teacher Maternity Leave Vacancy
Covenant Canadian Reformed School (CCRS) is a vibrant K-12 school community with a current student population of around 260. We are situated 3 km east of the hamlet of Neerlandia and approximately 25 km north of the Town of Barrhead. Between these two locations there are three Canadian Reformed congregations and one United Reformed congregation. CCRS is located about an hour and a half north of the cities of Edmonton and St. Albert.
We anticipate growth over the next number of years and are currently planning for future expansion.
We encourage energetic, qualified (or soon to be qualified) educators, committed to Reformed Christian education, to apply. Under our Father’s blessing of a broad, highly supportive membership base and current levels of government funding in Alberta, we are able to offer a very attractive wage and benefits package.
This is a temporary full-time position to fill a vacancy created by a maternity leave.
Duties to commence November 2019.
All interested individuals can apply by submitting a resume, a statement of faith, a philosophy of education, and references.
We would love to arrange for you to visit our school and surrounding community and would be more than happy to provide flights and accommodations to make this possible!
Please visit our school’s website at www.covenantschool.ca
Deadline for applications October 15, 2019
Applications can be sent in writing to
3030 TWP RD 615A County of Barrhead, AB T0G 1R2
or to the Board secretary:
Mrs. Tara Tiggelaar -email@example.com
If you would like further information about the school and the area, please contact the Board chairman:
Mr. Jordan Tiggelaar – 780-307-8449 firstname.lastname@example.org
or the principal:
Mr. Mike Nederveen– 780-674-4774 (school) email@example.com
God calls his people to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us, whether that’s our talents and time or the possessions we’ve been given. It all belongs to God (Ps. 24:1), so just as a steward manages and cares for what belongs to another – and does so as the owner desires – so too we are to manage what belongs to God as He desires. We are also to do everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Eating and drinking are two activities we often do without thinking, yet specific mention is made of how even these activities are to be done to the glory of God. How much more then ought we to manage God’s money in a way that glorifies Him! How shall we then invest? So, when it comes to investing, we need to understand that buying shares in a company means becoming a part-owner. And an owner, whether a minority or majority owner, bears responsibility for the actions of a company. In Ephesians 5:11 we are instructed to, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” So here is a key issue for consideration: if a company is doing “works of darkness” being an owner of a company is taking part in those activities. Even if it is a small part, it is still a part. Another consideration is the aspect of making money or profiting from sinful activities. Proverbs 16:8 instructs us in this (as does Prov. 15:6): “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” As a shareholder, it is not possible to refuse the portion of a dividend or share growth which results from activities which directly contradict Scripture. Receiving that profit, no matter how it is then used, is bringing the “wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God” (Deut. 23:18). So, what is the problem? The problem is Christians often unknowingly invest in companies which directly contradict Biblical values. An examination of the companies which make up the S&P 500 is alarming. Found there are companies which, among other things, profit from or support abortion, pornography, and gambling. So, what is the solution? What this might look like The solution is what I call “biblically responsible investing.” The goal with this type of investing is to be a faithful steward who glorifies God with the management of His money. In striving for this, a disciplined process is followed which can be summed up in three steps: AVOID THE BAD: Via in-depth research and analysis, we want to actively avoid companies that are at cross-purposes to Biblical values. SEEK OUT THE GOOD: We want to actively seek out companies which value ethical business practices, the sanctity of life, care for the poor, and other biblical values. BE AN ACTIVE OWNER: An investor has a voice in the boardroom and a vote to cast in proxy votes. Rather than remaining silent or letting ungodly money managers cast votes, Christian investors and investment managers can raise their collective voice when needed in the boardroom. Will this always be perfect? Will a company ever find its way through the process? Unfortunately, perfection will not be attained on this side of the grave. A business may hide an unethical practice or donation. However, that is not an excuse not to strive for perfection. This is the way of the Christian life here on this earth. It is a continual striving to walk in the way of godliness, being “holy in all manner of conversation.” We strive to put off and flee from sin. We strive to fight the good fight of faith as God has called us to do. Then, after fighting the good fight, when we are called to give account of our stewardship we, being washed by the blood of the Lamb through no merit of our own, will hear these blessed words:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).
Brian Hilt is an Associate Portfolio Manager with Virtuous Investing of Huxton Black Ltd (InvestVirtuously.ca) and passionate about stewardship and biblically-based financial planning and investment advice.