What a beautiful day in the Ozarks! I love fall, and not just because that is when my birthday comes around. The warm (translated “not stinking hot”) days and crisp evenings are perfect, as far as I am concerned. It won’t be long before the leaves will be showing off their new colors, just before they fall away in the face of winter.
Just a reminder that this Sunday, October 3, is World Communion Sunday, when we will celebrate at the Lord’s Table with Christians around the world, attesting to God’s Spirit who unites us as one Church, one Body. Join us at 10 a.m. for Sunday school as we start a study on God’s grace and for worship at 11 a.m.
An important note, however, is that, because of schedule conflicts, our church fellowship dinner is being moved to later in the month. If you are a friend of Ebenezer and want to join us, check out the article next week for the exact date. Then again, you could come to church to find out!
Earlier today, while reading through various news sites on the web, I came across the story of some high school football coaches in Queens, New York, who prove that wisdom doesn’t always come with age. It seems that a controversial play at the end of a high school football game angered the coaching staff, who immediately started arguing with and cussing at the referees. Great example, guys! If that wasn’t bad enough, when the safety officers came to calm tensions, the coaches started pushing them, too. Okay, now we really have a problem with using our best manners. But it didn’t stop there. One of the assistant coaches, whose team lost the game because of unsportsmanlike conduct, turned his back to the opposing fans and dropped his pants, mooning the opponents and their families. Great move, crazy man.
The most surprising report that came from the article is that the students behaved like gentlemen, even when their coaches, their “adult” role models, were acting like children. Good job, kids! Your parents did something right. Maybe your coaches will watch you next time and learn how to behave.
Friends, we have no right to complain about the condition of the next generation if we are a part of the cause of their dysfunction. What kind of example are we providing? What message does our youth receive from our words and actions? Granted, I’m not perfect and most likely never will be, but my goal every day is to provide a positive example for my children, their friends, and for the young people whom I teach when I am substitute teaching. The following are a few of the verses that I seek to guide my words and actions.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19). I cannot teach the next generation about God unless I know about God. It is imperative that I know the Word of God so I can teach those who follow, so I can be an example to them.
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul told the believers to follow him, not because he was perfect, but because he followed the One who is and always has been perfect. My goal is to follow Christ by knowing the Word of God and by spending time in God’s presence. In that way, those who see me might see Christ living in me. Believe me, this isn’t a “do what I say, not what I do” kind of faith!
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). “Fathers [mothers, coaches, teachers, etc.], do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4. Definition: To irritate or provoke to a high degree; to infuriate; incense, anger, vex, inflame, infuriate. If we fail to provide discipline, we fail our young people. However, if we provide discipline without love and grace, we fail our society by creating angry, exasperated people. The training I provide to those younger than me should include discipline, but that discipline should be wrapped in the love, grace, and mercy of God.
“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:5,6).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22,23).
There are laws against abusing children, and there are laws against endangering and not providing for children. Unfortunately, there are no laws against being a bad example, not in this world, at least. Too often adults get away with this type of failure, and the children inculcate the behavior and become the same kind of people.
Yet, there is also no law against being filled with God’s Spirit, allowing the Spirit to live through us and to birth in us this fruit that brings glory to God and shows grace and strength, mercy and commitment. This kind of fruit is catching! Even when they don’t seem to be noticing, don’t seem to be listening, they recognize the love within and somewhere, somehow, the seeds we plan will grow in their hearts.
Lord God, let the words of our mouths bring healing and peace. Help us to remember that our words can be arrows that cut and cause pain or a balm that brings healing and strength. Let us plant seeds of your love in the hearts of those in our influence. Let our children and youth see in us the truth of your love and mercy, and so pass it on to those who come behind them. AMEN!
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor