I’m Going Home!

So, I want to make kind of a quick thought post here. I have had a lot of people over the last two years ask me why I come home on the weekends. I’m a student at MSU in East Lansing, and I pay good money to live full time in an apartment that I’m only at for 5 days a week, only to drive just over an hour (around 80 miles) back home for two days, sometimes even less. There have been days (few and far between) that, due to different events on campus, I’ve been home for only 30 hours before I pack up my stuff (again) and drive back to Lansing. I have several reasons, and one main one for doing this, and let me tell you, free laundry doesn’t even make the list!

First of all, I have a job back home! A job that (Lord willing) could potentially be my place of professional employment after I graduate and get my License for Veterinary Technology (LVT).  So that’s pretty big, right? Yeah, I guess, but there are lots of clinics in Lansing I could work at (they wouldn’t come close to the girls I work with now though, haha).  So my job plays a roll, but isn’t the biggest reason.

My friends! My friends, those kids I’ve gone to high school with, some I’ve even gone to school with since pre-school! They are the ones who have known me over the years, seen me grow, and been there for me, especially when my dad passed away. I can’t leave them behind. I need to see them regularly. Truth be told though, some weekends I get so busy with work and other engagements, I don’t even see them. They could survive without me. They’re a contributing factor to my coming home on weekends, but not the main reason.

My family! Blood is after all thicker than water (and thicker than the gasoline in my car’s tank as well!). They mean enough to me that I need to be with them, to spend time with them, because in an even more intense way than my friends, they’ve been there for me, watched me grow up, and know me best. But again, I suppose they’d be fine if I weren’t there every weekend. They again aren’t the main reason.

Well, I have a boyfriend. Yeah, I do, and a lot of people assume this is the main reason I come home. Again, I’ll say he plays a large roll, but even my boyfriend isn’t the main reason. My relationship is unique, just like every other relationship out there. In the context of my relationship, I think it’s vastly important that I be home to see him in person and to show him support face-to-face, as well as spend time worshipping together in church on Sunday.

I said the magic word. CHURCH. Not just church because of my family, my friends or my boyfriend who also go there, but church because it is the sanctuary where I stood just under three years ago and confessed my faith, where I swore that I believed the doctrines taught in that church to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation, where I promised to try to live a new, godly life, and where I agreed to submit myself to their rule and discipline (may God forbid that that ever becomes necessary in my life).  There is a wonderful, faithful church in the East Lansing area, and while I take part in their Bible studies, I do not attend their Sunday services, because they are not Protestant Reformed. Now please, please understand, I am not exclusivist. I do not believe that the PRC is the only denomination worthy of salvation, but there are reasons that we have separate denominations, because there are differences in each of them. If I can do anything to be able to attend my own church, I will do so, even if it means being home for just over 24 hours with an hour drive one way. I have close, strong ties to my home church, and I am not going to let one hour of driving stand in my way! I truly thank God for the work that the church I referred to in Lansing does, but I also have my own church, were I am a professing member that I feel strongly that I need to attend. Of the people I talk to (outside of the PRC) about my commute home every weekend, there have only been one or two people really to tell me that they agree with my decision to work hard to be in my own church every weekend, but I guess it doesn’t matter who agrees. This is the conviction God placed in my heart.

That is all! It probably isn’t as short as I thought it’d be, but I tend to ramble sometimes. So now, you all know my answer/response to the question/expression “You drive home from Lansing EVERY WEEKEND?”

Suzie Kuiper

Church Membership

As we go about our lives as Christians in this world, we see many different attitudes toward church membership. Some stay in the same church all their lives, even though the preaching is bad, because most or all of their family and friends go there. Others move continuously over a period of time from one church to another, never establishing firm roots anywhere or staying at a given church for too long. Even worse for spiritual stability, however, is an attitude exhibited by a coworker of mine. We were talking one day about singing in choirs at church, and the conversation took a different turn. She mentioned dropping out of choir and worshiping God at a cottage she owns up in Grant, a town forty-five minutes north of Grand Rapids. The problem wasn’t that she withdrew from the choir. My dad has withdrawn from choirs due to the busyness of being a self-employed businessman and an elder. Life gets busy and sometimes even worthwhile commitments such as choral singing need to be put aside temporarily. The problem was that she let her church membership lapse and thought that worshiping God in nature was an adequate substitute. This attitude is nothing new. I remember reading a poem by Emily Dickinson as part of a school class called “Some keep the Sabbath by going to church”. The gist of this poem is that while some people observe the Lord’s Day praising God in His house, she could sit at home listen to the birds and tune into or out of the “sermon” as she chose. She was known for being a recluse for a good share of her adult life. It is certainly true that God reveals Himself in nature, whether in a flower, a bird, or a violent thunderstorm. When I am outside riding my bike, I can see the handiwork of God in creation in the plants, trees, and sunshine He has created. That having been said, spending time at a cottage or on a bike ride does not have the same spiritual benefit as going to church on the Lord’s Day to hear His word proclaimed by a faithful minister. Hearing the preaching of God’s word at a true church and having membership in a true church. It is essential that we as young people and young adults be actively involved in church in whatever capacity and with whatever talents God has given us. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). What does this mean? First of all it implies that we are to gather together for worship as frequently as we possibly can. Sometimes illness, legitimate Sunday employment (doctors, nurses, law enforcement, etc.), or weather cancellations make church attendance impossible on a given Sunday. If there is legitimate Sunday employment, it should interfere with church as little as possible. We should, however, strive to be faithful in our church attendance. Secondly, we are to exhort and encourage one another to go to church. Sometimes we or our fellow saints get discouraged and we need to encourage and strengthen each other as much as we are able in our Godly walk. Finally, we need to be aware of the end times that we are living in. Homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, and drug and alcohol abuse are increasing at alarming rates and viewed as acceptable and commendable lifestyles. We need to be aware of these trends and stay away from, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). God has greatly blessed us with churches that continue, after almost 90 years in existence, to maintain the truth that they had when they were first established. May we as young people and young adults actively continue our membership in these congregations and in so doing, be blessed of God.

Kevin Rau