All Things Are Against Me!

Do you remember the story of Joseph’s brothers when they went down to Egypt to buy corn because there was famine in the land of Canaan? Joseph, knowing who they were, tested them by accusing them of being spies. To prove they weren’t spies, the brothers had to go back to Canaan and bring their youngest brother Benjamin with them. Oh, and to keep them honest, Joseph held Simeon in Egypt. If they brought Benjamin back, it would prove to Joseph they weren’t spies.

When the nine brothers returned to Canaan and told Jacob what had happened and that they were now supposed to take Benjamin back to Egypt, Jacob cried out, “All these things are against me!” (Gen. 42:36)

It really is no wonder why Jacob would cry out like this. He was experiencing intense pain at that moment. He certainly hadn’t lived the easiest life, either. He had a father who favored his older brother more than him. His employer cheated him out of what was rightfully his by making him work seven additional years to earn the marriage of his Rachel. If that wasn’t upsetting enough, he was tricked into marrying the wrong woman, too! His children didn’t get along.

They lied to him about Joseph being eaten by a wild beast, but they had secretly sold him to a band of marauding tribesmen. Finally, a famine had hit the land and while his sons were away getting food, the prince of Egypt had restrained another one of his sons and was now demanding that they bring his youngest son back with them! Jacob didn’t have an easy life. So therefore Jacob cried out, “All these things are against me!”

How often do we cry out with the same words? It is so easy, isn’t it, to see the trials in our life as events that are against us. How can trouble in our family be for us? How can the death of a child be for us? How can chronic illness be for us? How can it be good when I find out my child was the target of someone else’s sinful actions? How can it be good when I have to sit down with my spouse and conclude that that old car in the driveway has to get us through just one more year? Or that extra job I must take on or those longer hours I must work must continue?

But, Christian, these events are not against us. Jacob was wrong. Jacob was wrong when he thought all these things were against him. We are wrong, too, if we think the same. Like a beam of light that pierces the late afternoon storm clouds, God’s Word gives us hope. In Romans 8:31, Paul says “If God be for us, who can be against us?” What a hope that is! All these things are NOT against us. God is for us. Let’s be assured of this every day. This is a foundational doctrine of our faith. The Canon’s Fifth Head of Doctrine expresses this truth clearly and comfortingly. The whole Fifth Head is worth reading again, but I quote one section: “But God is faithful, who, having conferred grace, mercifully confirms and powerfully preserves them therein, even to the end.

God is for us every second of the day… “even to the end.” Nothing that happens to us is against us; it is always for us. Christian, does that give you hope? Then let us cling to that truth.

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This post was written by Rick Mingerink, a member of the Grandville Protestant Reformed Church in Michigan. Rick is also a principal at a Christian school in West Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Rick, please do so in the comment section.

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Enthusiasm in Life

I enjoy enthusiastic people. I enjoy them because they have positive zeal. They have a sparkle in their eye. They have an air of energy around them. Do you have enthusiastic friends or family? Are you moved by them?

I read an article last month by the late Henry Beversluis called Then Gladly, Madly Teach. Mr. Beversluis was a professor of education at Calvin College. In this article, Mr. Beversluis highlights the importance of enthusiasm in the work of teaching. He called it the “thrust” of a teacher. This is the energy that bubbles out of the teacher. It is effective because it breeds enthusiasm and energy in others, too.

The etymology of the word enthusiasm is interesting. It comes from the Greek words en (in) and theos (God). Essentially, enthusiasm means God-filled or God-possessed. This isn’t true in the literal sense, but only figuratively. To be enthusiastic is to believe in what you are doing and to be excited about doing it.

Although its etymology is tied to the idea of being spirit-filled, enthusiasm is not a fruit of the Spirit. Enthusiasm is not evidence of the principle of regeneration in the life of a Christian. But, enthusiasm can be a great power. It can be a salt, a savor, a spice. It can be the thrust which compels a Christian to read, to write, to study, to visit, to grow, to speak, to learn, to watch, to do. It can give the Christian the needed capacity and energy to develop their gifts and talents for God’s glory and the benefit of the neighbor.

Enthusiasm is contagious. This may be the best part. It breeds enthusiasm in others. It convinces, motivates and inspires those around you. Are you enthusiastic in your work as a father or mother? Others around you will be, too. Are you enthusiastic in your occupation as salesman, carpenter, teacher, tile setter, or shop keeper? Your energy will bear fruit. Are you enthusiastic about your love for Jesus Christ? Do you have a zeal for the cross? Do your eyes sparkle when you speak about your Lord and King? If so, you indeed have a yeast in life which will leaven the whole lump.

Let’s find enthusiasm in our lives. Let’s develop our God-given gifts and talents and use them with passion and energy for the glory of our King. Just maybe, then, the etymology won’t be so far off after all!

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This post was written by Rick Mingerink, a member of the Grandville Protestant Reformed Church in Michigan. Rick is also a principal at a Christian school in West Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Rick, please do so in the comment section.

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God is God

We are excited to announce another writer who is joining the existing pool of writers for the RFPA blog. Rick Mingerink is a member of the Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan, and also the principal at a Christian school in West Michigan. In his writing for the blog Rick will bring a perspective from the pew. This is his first blog post.

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God is God. That is an interesting phrase, isn't it? In logic class, we would call that a tautology. A tautology is a phrase that has a true truth-value based on the structure of the sentence. But there really isn’t any other way to define God other than by himself. No phrase can adequately summarize the essence of God. There is no creature by which we can compare him to. There is no concept by which we can conceptualize him. In the end, we are left to defining him simply as God.

I have always kept this phrase close to my mind when I consider who God is. The message it brings is that God is so great, so powerful, so un-creature-like, so big that words do not exist to properly define him. God’s Word reveals it:

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? …Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth (Isaiah 40:25, 26).

Sometimes I have a difficult time simply beginning and ending my small, petty thoughts without interruption or distraction. Some of the simplest thoughts can be easily whisked away with another thought or another impulse; like the wind carrying a leaf in the autumn afternoon. God doesn’t have this problem. In fact, his counsel not only puts into activity the smallest movements of a cell, it is the sole cause for the existence of the entire cosmos. A cosmos so vast we can’t even comprehend the size of it. So immense is God’s creation, man is attempting to launch a new five billion dollar telescope in the next two years to replace the Hubble just to see even further into space. Will they see the end of God’s creation? They may only scratch the surface. Yet, all this was put into existence with a spoken Word. God is nothing less than God.

But God’s counsel is not only active in creation, it is active in redemption, too. God is God of salvation. Not only is he the architect, builder, and upholder of vast landscapes, but also of our salvation. And the beautiful interaction between creation and salvation is that God is working both scenes to a culmination at the end of time. God will not only have a new heaven and earth, but he will have a bride that will dwell in this new creation. God’s bride will be able to perfectly serve him through this renewed creation. Yes, all things in heaven and earth are working together for a divine purpose. This is the work of our God. Only one who is God can perform it.

Meditate on this reality. Contemplate the bigness of God. Everything begins with him and ends according to his counsel. Let’s not think ourselves so big that we can’t see past our own vanity. God is God and we are called every day to serve him as such. “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

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For further reading on the topic of God is God, the RFPA publishes a great book titled Knowing God and Man by Herman Hoeksema. Chapter 1 is entitled: “God is God.”

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