Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology

Encouraging the Next Generation to Read

by Brian Huizinga

Picture a banqueting table—not round, but rectan­gular in shape, like that at which a wedding party typically sits. There are five positions at the table, that is, five chairs and five table settings. In position five is seated a man who has before him an empty plate. Next to him, in position four, is a man who has before him a plate on which sits a good hearty meal. Next to him, in position three, is a man who not only has before him a plate on which sits a good hearty meal, but this man takes his fork, selects a choice bite, and moves it toward his mouth so that he can taste it. Next to him, in posi­tion two, is a man who not only has before him a plate on which sits a good hearty meal, and he not only selects a choice bite with his fork and moves it to his mouth, but he puts it into his mouth and chews the food. In position one, at the other end of the table, is a man who has before him a plate on which sits a good hearty meal. This man selects a choice bite, brings it toward his mouth, puts it into his mouth, chews it, and swallows it. He continues eating until his plate is empty.

If we were to name the men at this banqueting table, then seated in seat five is the “empty-plater”; in seat four the “full-plater”; in seat three the “taster”; in seat two the “chewer”; and in seat one the “devourer.”

Hear the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 15:16: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah ate God’s words.

We have been given the figure. Now the reality: The good hearty meal represents sound, spiritually-edifying literature. The man represents the reader.

At one end of the table, in seat five, is the “empty-plater.” This man owns and reads nothing. His life is altogether devoid of sound, spiritually-edifying literature. In seat four is the “full-plater.” This man owns books. Walk in his house and see the books on his shelves. He reads none of them. In seat three is the “taster.” This man owns books and looks at them. After receiving a new title from the RFPA, this Book Club member holds his book in his hands and reads the back cover and even the table of contents. He pages through and looks at any pictures. If his friends are discussing the book after church, he will know what book they are talking about, although he cannot contribute to the discussion because he has not read it. He reads the front cover and the sympathy ex­pressions on the back of hisStandard Bearer, but little else. He tastes his books. In seat two is the “chewer.” He owns and reads good books and magazines. They do not nourish him in any significant and lasting way because he often skims through them or reads out of necessity, and thus does not reflect and contemplate. However, he does have a general knowledge of the content of the book. In seat one, occupying the other end of the table, is the “devourer.” At his own pace—some devourers eat quickly and some devourers eat slowly, but both devour their meal—he reads his books and magazines (and Bible!) and they impact his life. Excitedly he talks to others about the content of his literature. To use the words of Jeremiah, the words he reads are the joy and rejoicing of his heart. One book after another his soul devours, and his love for and gratitude to God grows.

“Empty-platers” have no books. “Full-platers” have books, but do not read them. “Tasters” taste books. “Chewers” chew books. “Devourers” devour books. All sit at the table.

Where do you sit at the table?

Where are your children seated?

Where will the next generation sit?

It is the concern of the board of the RFPA that we are generally drifting away from seat one (“devourer”) and toward seat five (“empty-plater”). No one would say that as churches we are sitting in seat five, although some individuals do. But concrete evidence indicates we are drifting in that direction. The board of the RFPA notes continual decline in Standard Bearer subscriptions. At present only 64% of Protestant Reformed households subscribe to the Standard Bearer. That means 36% do not. Over one-third of our households do not even sub­scribe to the Standard Bearer, the unofficial magazine of our churches since 1924! Alarming! Of the 64%, how many are actually reading their Standard Bearer cover to cover? Furthermore, how many consistories give a book to the young people who have made confession of faith? Probably many do. Of all those who have made confes­sion of faith in the past, say, fifteen years, and received a book, how many have read through that book?

Surely we read. Surely we have young people who read. But are we drifting down the table in the wrong direction? The purpose of this address is to encourage the reading of good, solid, spiritually-edifying literature, particularly among the next generation. Today and tomorrow may we find ourselves seated at or near position one and saying with Jeremiah, “Thy word was the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”

For sake of clarity, there are a few more comments by way of introduction. First of all, when I speak of read­ing, I am not referring to all forms of literature, though reading widely is obviously important and necessary for a good education. I am speaking of that good, sound, spiritually-edifying literature that includes the Bible and the confessions, but also anything that is an explanation of biblical concepts or sets forth the life and practice of the Bible. Most certainly I am not here referring merely to works of Protestant Reformed authors. Included in the scope would be devotionals or a collection of medita­tions, works of church history including biographies and autobiographies, commentaries, theological treatises or

dogmatics, theological journals, books on the Christian life (whether treating dating and marriage or enduring suffering or family worship or financial stewardship), helps for Bible study, books addressing contemporary is­sues in the church (on worship or doctrine), and certainly the publications of the RFPA, the Standard Bearer, but also the Beacons Lights, the Perspectives in Covenant Education, Salt Shakers out of Singapore, and also vari­ous online sources. This list is by no means exhaustive, but you understand the general scope to which I refer: good, spiritually-edifying literature.

Secondly, when I refer to the people of God reading, I do so organically, and not head-for-head. There are those who will never be able to read, perhaps because of mental disabilities or other conditions.

Thirdly, although I speak of books, I recognize some people do not read, for example, The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink in an old paperback, but on their tablet. I am not excluding tablets or the like from this address, though I speak of books.

Finally, in the near future, someone—probably a teacher and at a gathering broader than the annual teacher’s convention—must speak on the place of read­ing in education. For I have been told recently that the philosophy of education is changing, radically changing. Future teachers are taught that children need to know only one thing: how to find the answer. They do not need to be lectured to (a method proven ineffective); they do not need to read books (they do not retain the informa­tion anyways). They do not need to know who the first president of the U.S. was, or if the earth rotates around the sun or the sun around the earth. Children must be taught one thing: how to find the answer. In their hands they will have powerful tools capable of giving them all the answers. They need only to know how to use their tools and how to discover the answers. This philosophy will have significant implications for catechism and preaching and life in the church in general. And as one astute observer recently pointed out, this is all prepara­tion for the coming of the Antichrist, for he will come and tell the ignorant masses what to think, what is truth, and what they need to know, and who will know any better? Destroyed for lack of knowledge! However, I am not ad­dressing the place of reading in education.

The subject of this address is encouraging the next generation to read good literature throughout all of their life. Why? Next time we will consider the necessity and even urgency of encouraging the next generation to read. The urgency arises out of reading’s very significant place in God’s covenant and reading’s disappearing significance in the modern world.

Reading’s Great Significance in God’s Covenant

The next generation must be encouraged to read. The necessity, even urgency, of doing so is twofold. First, reading has a significant place in the covenant of grace as an instrument of God for the fulfilling of His promises. That reading has a significant place in God’s covenant can be demonstrated from Scripture.

First of all, Exodus 24:7 (and all similar Old Testa­ment passages): “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Throughout Israel’s history as a constituted nation, the book of the covenant, which contained God’s laws and promises for Israel, was read. The book of the covenant was not read by every individual but it was read to the people by Moses and the leaders after him, over and over again. Apostasy in Israel was always characterized by the neglect of reading the book of the covenant, either because it had been lost or because it was deliberately ignored. One of the greatest reformations that ever oc­curred among God’s covenant people, although sadly it did not last very long, took place during the reign of good king Josiah. The book of the covenant was found after having been lost, “and the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabit­ants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great [they had little children there, of course]: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord” (II Kings 23:2). The book of the covenant was read. When it was read Israel usually prospered. When it was neglected, invariably apostasy occurred. Clearly, reading had a significant place in God’s covenant already in the Old Testament.

Second, I Timothy 4:13: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” To the young pastor Timothy and to every pastor comes the command, “Read. Give attendance to reading.” Read publicly in the worship of the church and in teaching catechism. Read privately so that you may know how to exhort and may grow in and teach doctrine. But is the inspired apostle’s command to read to be understood as a command only to pastors like Timothy, or is it a command principally and primarily to pastors, but also to every child of God? Because not only the minister, but everyone, must know doctrine, so all ought to give attendance to reading. Read! Give attendance to reading! Reading has a significant place in God’s covenant.

Third, II Timothy 4:13: “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” When an older, experienced minister has been thrown into prison in Rome, and has been sentenced to death and is simply awaiting the time of his departure when the Roman soldiers will take him to the execution block, he has one last request: “Timothy, when you come [and hasten lest I die before you arrive] bring me the books, especially the parchments.” Bring me books! Bring me good literature to read, for I have read often and it edifies my soul as little else can. Is this the desire only of Paul and those in similar circumstances, or is this the desire of all of God’s children? In God’s covenant, God’s people say, “Bring me books. My soul needs books!” Reading has a significant place in God’s covenant.

Fourth, Revelation 1:3: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Blessed is he that readeth the book of Revelation publicly in worship and they who hear it. Blessed is he that readeth the book of Revelation privately. However, because Scripture is one united whole, and the book of Revelation is part of the whole, “Blessed is he that readeth” means “Blessed is he that readeth the whole Bi­ble.” By lawful extension, then, blessed is he that readeth a faithful exposition of this book to help him understand it, such as Behold He Cometh by Rev. Hoeksema. Blessed is he that readeth any such literature that helps him understand God’s revelation. Blessed, happy, privi­leged is he that readeth! To be pitied is he who rejects or minimizes reading! Reading has a significant place in God’s covenant.

Finally, the Bible. The aforementioned passages are all secondary. The primary proof that reading has a sig­nificant place in God’s covenant is the Bible itself. In His inscrutable wisdom God determined from all eternity that He would be revealed to His people through the Bible, His written revelation, the entirety of which we new dispensation believers now have in our hands. And the Bible as a written revelation must be read. God could have revealed Himself savingly in Jesus Christ through some other means, but He determined that He would be revealed through a written revelation that must be read. That the revelation of God comes to us in a book with words that are written and must be read is the proof that reading has a significant place in God’s covenant. And whom does this written revelation reveal but Him who is called the Word, and the Alpha and Omega (Greek letters)? The necessity and urgency of reading in the covenant is indisputable and could not be emphasized too strongly. To deny the significance of reading in the covenant is to deny Scripture as such, and thus the Word Himself! The church will let reading vanish to her peril and destruction. The divine form of revelation—which demands reading—is the incontrovertible proof that the reading of the Bible and all spiritually-edifying literature is necessary. No matter what technological developments and transformations take place in the modern world, reading among the covenant people must not be allowed to disappear. Reading cannot disappear so long as Christ tarries.

Why is reading so significant in the covenant? It is an instrument of God for fulfilling His promises. The cov­enant of grace is the relationship of friendship between the triune God and His elect people in their generations through the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ. In that covenant, God makes promises to us and our children—chiefly that He will be our God and reveal Himself to us, and that He will shower saving blessings upon us now and everlastingly in Jesus Christ. That particular promise God will sovereignly realize by His own power and grace. However, He is pleased to fulfill it by using various instruments, the chief of which is the gospel of the Scriptures preached, but another is the Scriptures and then, by extension, all spiritually edifying literature read. The purpose of reading therefore is to know Jeho­vah and His saving works and ways. The more we know Him the more we will love Him and trust Him and hope in Him and will grow in our relationship with Him. That is our salvation! That is the fulfillment of His promise in Christ! If we love God we will not be able to keep from reading any more than the new bride can keep from read­ing the letters her husband sends to her from the battlefield across the sea. I must read to know my beloved! Through reading we come to know and love our faithful God as He has promised.Reading has a significant place in the covenant of grace as an instrument of God for the fulfilling of His promises. We must read! Our young people must read!

Reading’s Disappearing Significance in the Modern World

Secondly, the necessity and even urgency of encourag­ing the next generation to read is the fact that the modern world is not conducive to, and even indirectly discourages, the deep thinking that reading requires. This is a world where information is increasingly communicated through bright images; stimulating, real-life pictures; and action-packed videos. If the message is communicated through words, the words are reduced to abbreviations so that the mind spends minimal time with the words, flitting around like a hummingbird from one image to the next. When information is communicated this way it makes the human mind increasingly passive. Less discipline and effort are required. Little, if any, critical thinking, careful contemplation, reflection, and meditation are practiced. Technology is a wonderful tool. However, by its own admission, the modern world is not developing the smart man, but the Smart Phone. And as the tool gets smarter, does the mind get proportionally duller?

There was a day not so long ago when the father of a family would plan a vacation from Grand Rapids, Michi­gan to Yellowstone National Park by clearing off the dining table and hauling out his Rand/McNally Road Map. He would lay it out there on the table along with a piece of legal-sized paper, a pencil, and a ruler. He would look at the bottom corner of the map, where it said “One inch equals seventy-five miles.” And he would map out the journey, carefully calculating for himself which route to take, and how far the family will travel each day. He would lay it all out and have it all envisioned in his mind. He did all the work. Not necessary today. If he so desires, the man can wait until the very morning of departure, grab his GPS, set as his destination the campground in Yellowstone National Park, hit “go,” and it begins issuing commands: “Proceed one hundred feet and turn right. Continue on highway 1 for fifty-five miles and merge unto highway 2….” And who is doing the thinking? The GPS is terrific—an incredible tool. But as we put away our road maps, forethought, and careful thinking, is that thinking and speaking navigator who takes our hand and guides us every turn of the way unto our final destination producing among us a generation of people navigationally brain-dead?

And that is only one example. Technology is great. Yet, what is happening to the human mind?

Now consider the activity of reading the Bible and all spiritually-edifying literature. Reading demands active participation. The moment the mind enters the passive mode we are no longer reading but blankly staring at words on a page. Often we work our way to the end of a page we never actually read. Reading demands mental activity, discipline, effort, careful contemplation, medita­tion, and reflection. Sometimes you have to go back and read the same sentence over again in order to understand the concepts and their relationships to each other, and the relationship of the sentence to its preceding context. Reading demands deep thinking.

It is no surprise that reading, or any other spiritually edifying activity of the Christian life requires deep think­ing, and the exercise of the mind. For, Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye trans­formed by the renewing of your mind….” By the renewing of your mind! The mind is not like the cottage on the lake, which has to be renovated and updated every twenty or fifty years or so. The mind has to be renovated every single day lest it decay and corrode. Every day renew your mind! Do not be conformed to this world, which conformity can be accelerated by the decaying of the mind, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I Peter 1:13: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober….” Gird up the loins of your mind. Think of a man in Israel with a long robe. If he had to move quickly, he would pull up the bottom of his robe and tuck it in his girdle, lest it get caught in his sandals or in his legs. And now the apostle Peter says, “Gird up the loins of your mind.” We have to be sharp and active and diligent with our mind. Gird it up, so it is ready to go. The Christian life in general and reading in particular demand a sharp, regenerated mind.

It is always necessary to encourage the next genera­tion to read, but it is especially urgent now because the modern world in which we live is not conducive to and even indirectly discourages the deep thinking of the mind that spiritually-edifying reading requires.

We must encourage the next generation to read.

What Can We Do? The Ten “P’s”

Now what can we do to encourage and promote the reading of sound, spiritually-edifying literature, particularly among the next generation?

1. Support the Preaching

Deliberately we begin here. Were I not a preacher but a cobbler, I would still begin with preaching, as every Re­formed man should.

Pray for the seminary, support the seminary, pray for the minister, see to it that the young people attend the preach­ing, see to it that young people have a regard for preaching in their own congregations and elsewhere.

What does preaching have to do with reading? Romans 1:16 authoritatively states that the preaching of the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation.” The power of God unto salvation! The salvation of which Paul speaks is to be understood in the broadest sense. It includes the work of the Holy Spirit, who takes that word of Christ and plunges it deep into the hearts of young people to transform them, renew their minds, and give them a hunger and thirst for the living God and therefore for growth in doctrine. God-glorifying, cross-magnifying, soul-edifying, life-giving, biblically-faithful, Spirit-energized preaching is not apower, but the power of God unto salvation. It kindles in hearts love for God that wants to know more of Him, and that through reading. The best thing you can do to support and encourage reading among the new generation is to support and encourage preaching, because it is God’s power unto salvation.

When that preaching sets forth the wonder of God’s covenant and His faithfulness to it in Christ, God is pleased to use that word to make an eighteen-year-old man go home and pull from his shelf The Battle for Sovereign Grace in the Covenant to behold what God has done through controversy. When the preaching sets forth the wonder of grace in Jesus Christ crucified, as that comes to expres­sion in so many ways in so many different kinds of texts, God uses that preaching to strike a chord in the heart of a sixteen-year-old girl, so that she goes home and she wants to read that book of meditations by her bedside, which she has left untouched for two months. When one in the preaching cries unto the cities of Judah, “Behold your God,” God uses that to work in the heart of a young person to say, “Show me more of my God! Show me Christ!” He goes home, picks up a book, and reads, and reads. Poor or no preaching is reading’s enemy. Support God’s power unto salvation: Preaching.

2. Plant Seeds

Planting seeds refers to the activity of all those par­ents, family members, unmarried persons, teachers, and officebearers who have an impact upon the life of young people. Let the whole environment in which we live include attitudes, behaviors, and words that are as so many seeds. The heart of the young person is the field. The plant that sprouts up is the reading of a book. The seeds that go into the heart and produce reading are our attitudes, behaviors, and words.

If we who have an influence in the lives of the young people do not read, do not read good books, do not even get the Standard Bearer or other RFPA publications as a bare minimum, or if we dismiss them; if we do not love the truth and have an appreciation for the heritage God has given to us as churches and convey that in attitude and behavior and words; if we do not go to Bible study, or if we do go to Bible study but talk about how bad it is; if we spend more time fidgeting with our gadgets and socializing online than we do openly communicating with our young people in any serious way; if we never talk to our children about spiritual things and are not open to their concerns; if we do not have time for family devotions that include reading, discussion, singing, and prayer, then we are walking around the young people with a big tank of toxic, plant-killing spray hosing down the fields of their hearts, and it would take something just short of a miracle to get them to read solid literature for their spiritual growth.

However, when we who have an influence upon young people plant seeds through attitudes, behaviors, and words that are God-glorifying and covenantally-directed, God will bring plants. We do! He does! When we love and openly speak of our love for God, the church, and our pre­cious heritage as churches; when we read, and the children get used to seeing us reading, or at least having open books and magazines on the table; when we bring books into the home, and reflect on books; when we read to our children, even as they get older; when we are in the van on a long trip and start talking about what we read in abiography of some godly mid-west farm girl in the world-war years, or when the teacher takes a few minutes before class and talks about an article he was reading on a father of theAfscheiding and all of the sacrifices made for the truth at that time, we are planting seeds. Plant seeds! May God bring plants—young people reading.

3. Encourage Preparation for Future Service

I have never heard a man in the church say, “I regret my behavior of youth, for I wasted too much of my time read­ing solid Reformed works, when I could have been doing other things.” But so often you hear men in the church (particularly elders) say, what I myself say, “I regret not read­ing more in my youth, it would have helped me so much in being a more serviceable workman in God’s kingdom.” Let us lay this upon the hearts of young women who have a role in God’s church, but especially young men who will have leadership roles and hold office. “Young man, the day is coming when you might be a minister, an elder, a deacon, a school-board member, a member of this committee or that committee, and you need preparation for that. Read. Why don’t you read? You might not understand this now, son, but listen to me, you would do yourself such a favor if you would only read.”

We will never have the knowledge we wish we had, but let us not unnecessarily hurt ourselves and our future by failing to read, and hurt the young people by failing to encourage them to prepare for future service. When tomorrow comes, today is forever lost. What will you do today? Prepare.

4. Encourage Partnering

Many do not have the self-discipline to run for exercise three times a week. They need a partner to hold them accountable, to encourage them, to spur them on, and to whom they can speak. Finding a running partner, many run, run, run. How do we get people (young people) to read, read, read? Encourage partnering. The partner could be a parent or a sibling, a spouse for the married, a friend, a group of friends, a group of couples, a coworker with whom you share a 45-minute lunch break that includes little mean­ingful conversation. Find a good book, read it or a chapter on your own time, and discuss it together. The dynamics can be set and changed. The young people golf together, and shop together. Could they not read and then discuss together a timely book for the nourishment of their souls?

5. Encourage Peer-Paraphrasing:

The young person has made it through a book or an ar­ticle. Do not stop there. Now encourage them to take what they have read and paraphrase it, put it in their own words. Paraphrase the chapter, the article, the book. Paraphrase to peers. This is different than partnering. In partnering you read the same book. With peer-paraphrasing, you paraphrase what you read to a peer—a spouse, a friend, a coworker. That might spark an interest in them and get them to read. But it also helps you think more deeply about what you read. This will force us and our young people to read carefully when we do read. And this will be a way to continue benefiting from the book after it has been read.

How about this? Your peers are your family members. All the children are required to read. Now take one night a week, Wednesday night right after supper, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, with the whole family together. Each person gets a couple minutes to paraphrase to their peers what they have read. There will be mutual rewards, enrich­ing the experience of all.

6. Encourage Portioning

Look at that big book sitting there. It was written by a professor of theology, by John Calvin or Abraham Kuyper. It has 300 pages. I cannot read it. It is too daunt­ing. Encourageportioning. You do not have to read the whole book at once, or even a whole chapter at once, but read from heading to heading. You do not have to read the whole Standard Bearer at once, but read one article at a time. The man sitting in seat one at the table does not eat the whole piece of meat in one bite, but he breaks it up into manageable, bite-size pieces and over the course of time devours the whole meal. There it is, sitting on the shelf. It was given to me at my confession of faith: For Thy Truth’s Sake. It is huge! Portions, portions. Encourage the young people to take a book and divide it into manageable, bite-size portions.

7. Encourage Perseverance

A young man or woman is reading a good book or magazine, but over the course of a few weeks wearies and discontinues. How much it would help if one person, just one person, said, “Hey, I see you are reading that book. Good job. That is a great book. Keep going.” Sometimes with half a mile to go in a 5k, all the weary runner needs is one person to shout out some encourag­ing words, “Keep pushing. You are looking great. You are so close!” Why not with reading also? How easy. How simple. How many times have we missed an opportunity to encourage a young person to persevere? Only a few words could make a significant difference.

8. Promote Literature and the Reading of it

Lately, the RFPA, and, for example, the staff of the Beacon Lights have been doing a terrific job promoting literature: new designs and little cards getting informa­tion out to the people, and other techniques. That is not enough. We need to promote it as well. We need to do everything we can. Parents, catechism teachers, elders on family visitation, school teachers, leaders of young people’s societies, the chaperones at the Young People’s Convention—400 young people right there for one week. Promote literature in your cabin. Talk about reading. Promote, promote, promote.

9. Encourage Pen and Pencil

Writing in the book or on something else helps one digest and remember what he read. In many places the tablet is replacing the book, and I do not know if you can highlight things in a tablet. But if you have a book, as long as it is your own, get a pen and pencil and write in it. Underline, put exclamation marks, see page 47, stars, asterisks, notes. Interact with your book, your magazine, young man, young woman. If it is yours—pen and pen­cil.

10. Emphasize the Parental Mandate

The parental mandate is not: “You ought to read.” Or: “I strongly encourage you to do some reading.” The parental mandate is: “You shall read. I am your father. I have been given authority by God. This is my house. You, son, you, daughter, shall read.”

Why would we not do this? The two-year-old is not so excited about sitting through another hour-and-a-half long worship service on Sunday. But “you shall come to church.” And over the course of time children begin to see the wisdom of their parents and they enjoy going to church. And to the young people, we have said, “You shall be home at (whatever time—11 p.m.),” and though they may object, they grow up and they say, “That was the wisdom of my parents—that curfew.” The young woman wants to go out and even go to church in that little skirt, and father says, “You may not go to church wearing that.” It is an argument now. But, over time, she realizes she was foolish. She sees the wisdom of her father.

“You shall read.”

Now, do not come to the young person with both hands full, a book in one hand, and a whip in the other, like that of one of Pharaoh’s servants: YOU SHALL READ! Not that kind of “shall.” You come with a book for your son in one hand, and a book for yourself in the other. You read, son, and I also shall read. Then discuss the books. The parental mandate must be given in the right attitude and spirit, surrounded by the right conduct and life, and then God will transform the “I must read” in them, into “I want to read,” and even into “I am privileged to read.”

“But dad, you don’t know how busy I am. I can’t even read all of the books I have to read for college. I don’t have time to read.” Well, we know that is not true because we were all there one day. Nor is it true when the patient responds to the dentist’s, “It doesn’t appear that you have been flossing every day,” with, “I don’t have time to floss every day.” The dentist does not even take the time to say, “You don’t have time to run a piece of string through your teeth for sixty seconds a day? You can do that while staring at your television.” You havetime to read. It is a matter of the will. “I am your father, and I love you, and now let’s start prioritizing. For starters, you’ve got to turn that thing off, put it away, unplug it, put it way over there. Now, we’re going to read.” Sunday afternoon, what are you going to do this afternoon? Here is this literature. You shall read.

We parents, in love, need to exercise and enforce the parental mandate, “You shall read.”

By the grace of God in Jesus Christ wherein is the “will” and the “to do” of His good pleasure, and for the glory of Jehovah and His covenant, let us press on now lest a generation arise among us not knowing the Lord nor the works that He has done for Israel. Let us lay this upon the hearts of the young people. Read!

Where do you sit at the table? Where do the young people sit at the table? Where will the next generation sit at the table? This is not a parable. Jesus will not chide you for pressing toward the highest seat at the wedding table as He did the Pharisees. Take your seat in position number one. Devour good books. And let it be the joy and rejoicing of your heart. May God bring the children to sit with you.

This article first appeared in the Standard Bearer (vol.90, #4, #6 and #7), and is the text of the speech given by Rev. Huizinga at the annual meeting of the RFPA on September 19, 2013. Pastor Brian Huizinga graduated from the Protestant Reformed Seminary in June of 2011. He was called by Hope Protstant Reformed Church of Redlands, California in the Fall of 2011 and was subsequently ordained and installed into the ministry of the Word and sacraments there in September of 2011. He lives in Redlands California with his wife, Michelle.

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