Pulpit Ponderings September 2019

Well, it’s that time of the year again, when we bid our children farewell for the school year while offering all kinds of encouragement to learn as much as they can while behaving themselves all the while. Good luck!!! So……I thought some thoughts on going back to school would be apropos.

One of the stories we read in VBS was the story of the man who was completely helpless. He couldn’t walk; he couldn’t use his hands. The only way he could get anywhere was when his friends carried him.

Then the news got around to them that Jesus was healing people. The Bible tells us Jesus healed a woman with a fever. He healed a man with leprosy. He healed people with all kinds of diseases. And the man’s friends said, “Let’s take our friend to Jesus.”

So, these four friends put him on a blanket or mat or something and carried him to the door of the house where Jesus was telling people about God. But guess what? The house was so full of people that they couldn’t get in. I imagine they went to the front door and then to the back door and even looked in the window, but it was so packed they could not get in.

Now, like most houses there, this house was built with a flat roof and an outside stair case. So, do you know what these men did? They carried the man up the stairs to the top of the roof. They knew they had to find a way to get their friend before Jesus. And in a moment of desperation, they tore the roof off and let him down with ropes right in front of Jesus. Can you imagine that? And Jesus changed that man’s life.

Let me say right here that the most important thing you can do in life is to get TO Jesus. You may not be physically ill, but you might have something eating out your insides – anger, guilt, grief. You may not be paralyzed physically, but you may be stuck in life, spinning your wheels, going nowhere, scared stiff that your life is going to end without accomplishing anything.

A few months ago, I was talking with a woman who lived as a drug addict for 22 years. She tried all the drugs. She knew she was in a hole and getting nowhere. No matter what she did, she could not get herself out of the madness she was experiencing. Then one night, she cried out to Jesus to change her and He did. And she told me that when she got up the next morning, it was a different day for her. She was able to think clearly. And she realized all the bad things she had done to herself and to her family.

Jesus changed her and now she has her driver’s license, her GED, and a job. She mentors kids. And she is active in her church. She has been clean for 17 years and very excited about her future while never forgetting where she once was.

If you are sick inside, if you are so paralyzed you can’t get anywhere, you need to get to Jesus, even if someone has to carry you. He can forgive your sin. He can fill you with purpose. He can change your life and that is the most important part of this story.

But there is another part of this story that I’d like to talk about. And that is the four friends who held the ropes for him.

Your kiddos are beginning a new school year. I’m sure you have been busy getting backpacks in order, checking supplies, and thinking about the new year – not mention new school clothing. No matter where they go to school or what grade they are in, they are not going to make it alone. They need people to hold the ropes for them so they can succeed in school. So, let’s think about four ropes for a bit. Every one of them is important.

  1. The first rope will be held by teachers. Keep in mind that their teachers have prepared in every way they can for teaching so they can help them be the best students they can be. They really do want their young charges to succeed.
  2. Sometimes you might wonder why they ask them to do an assignment this way or that way, but they have a reason.
  3. You might think the work is too difficult for them. Don’t let your kiddos be afraid to ask their teachers for help. They want them to take steps to learn new things, more difficult things.
  4. You might not like some of the rules they have for the classroom, but those rules help them get their studies done right. (When I was in school my teacher had a rule that we should not throw paper wads. Guess who tried it anyway? I had to write a 500-word theme as punishment. I think that is when I began to realize that I like to write!)

Your children, no matter what their ages, have a great opportunity to learn many things in school. The Bible says “Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding” (Prov.3:13). God wants us to learn about the world he has made. Teachers can help us do that. They will be there and holding the rope.

  • The second rope is one held by parents or grandparents. Sometimes kids forget how important their parents and grandparents are.
  • They provide them with food and clothes and a place to live.
  • They can help them make good decisions.
  • They can encourage them in school work.
  • They can reinforce what they are learning in school and about life.

To parents & grandparents: I’d like to ask you to think back to the ways your parents helped and encouraged you as you went through your classes. Maybe they took you to school. Maybe they helped you read difficult books. Maybe they cheered you on and gave you advice about how to treat other kids.

Unfortunately, in some cases, this rope has gotten frayed and frazzled. I keep hearing that some parents are not taking seriously their responsibility to support their kids in school. They don’t show any interest in what their kids are going through. They don’t show up at parent-teacher meetings. They don’t monitor the progress of their kids. They don’t set good examples of behavior. Let me encourage you as parents and grandparents to do everything you can to strengthen this rope.

The Bible places great importance on the role of parents. They are to help their children obey the commandments. They are to teach them about God. They are to love and care for their children. This rope of support is terribly important.

  • The third rope is one that your friends hold. I’m sure that none of you can even think about school without thinking about your friends. We enjoy their company. Their jokes may be dumb, but they are still good friends. We may say things that hurt them sometimes, but they still are our friends. The Bible says that a friend loves at all times. In other words, whether you get an A or an F in class, your friend is always there for you. Whether you play sports well or not, they still care about you.

The one thing you need to pay attention to is to choose your friends carefully. Friends have a lot of influence. Here are some suggestions about the friends you will want to choose.

  • You need friends who are kind, understanding, and respectful.
  • You need friends who are honest and who know how to make good choices when they buy things or when they do things.
  • You need friends you can depend on when times get tough.

Let me also say that the important thing about friendship is that it goes both ways. You need to be the kind of friend you want others to be to you.

  • The fourth rope is one that the church holds. Those of you who come to Sunday school & church already know how important that rope is.
  • It helps you face life’s problems.
  • It helps you strengthen your faith.
  • It helps you learn who Jesus is and how to follow him.
  • It helps you find ways to serve God.
  • You have the opportunity to go to summer camp and youth rallies.

If we took the time, I’m sure that some of you would remember how important this rope that represents the church is. Without it, you wouldn’t have direction in your life, nor would your children. You would not know where to turn when you get discouraged or when you bump against a problem, nor would your children. The church becomes your second family.

So, remember, when your children go to school, they are not alone. Their teachers support them. Their parents and grandparents love them. Their friends care about them. The church stands behind you and your family.

Above all, remember that Jesus will guide you and your children and make all your lives worth living. Oh…….and one more thing. The last thing Jesus said to the man was “Get up and get moving.” That is probably what you moms will say tomorrow and many days after on each day of school.

May God’s blessings consume each family this school year and each year of growth.

His Peace and Blessings to all of you, as you continue to believe, have hope, and do the work of the Lord.

God bless you, your families, and our church, always!

As Always, In His Grip …Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be Unto You) …

Until the Nets Are Full,

Your Most Obedient and Humble Servant,

Pastor Buddy