FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK: You may not be aware of this, but your two pastors have taken on a new responsibility. The idea for it was first presented to the pastors of the Salem Ministerial Alliance back in January by Corey Harris, one of the 2nd grade teachers at Hawthorn School.  She thought it would be a good idea for some of the pastors in town to come to the school, interact with the kids, and especially spend some time once a month reading a book to one of the 2nd grade classes. Both Pastor Mike and I thought that sounded like a great idea, so we signed up.  I was fortunate enough to get to read in Stacey Alberson’s classroom.  I say “fortunate” not just because Stacey is an outstanding teacher but also because she has a fantastic class of eager-to-learn, ready-to-listen little munchkins that I have really grown to appreciate and enjoy being around.  In fact, I look forward to my times with them and am kind of dreading the summer break when I won’t be able to do it anymore.

   Well, the book I read to them on April 17 was called “The Bad Seed.”  It was about a sunflower seed that got separated from his family when the head of the sunflower began to droop and all the seeds fell out.  Without his family around, he became a self-proclaimed “bad seed.” He wasn’t nice to the other seeds. He cut in line all the time.  He didn’t put things like his shopping cart away.  He lied and sometimes stole from the other seeds. He was indeed a BAAAAAAAAD seed, as the book puts it!

   To make a long story short, he eventually learned that being a bad seed had a bad side to it.  His fellow seeds talked about him behind his back and even labeled him as a bad seed.  He lived by himself in an old soda can.  He was sad most of the time.  So finally he decided to change his perspective on things and tried to be a good seed.  It wasn’t easy…and it took a while…and even though he tried to be a good seed, there were times he failed.  But eventually it paid off and life got a whole lot better for him.

   Well, while we pastors are reading these books we’re supposed to ask questions that are provided when we get the book.  Or we can make up our own.  One of the questions we were to ask after we finished this book was: “What did the bad seed do to become a good seed?”  Well, he said please and thank you; he opened the door for other seeds; he put things away.  In essence he reversed what he did when he was a bad seed.  Then I was to ask the students what they thought they could do to keep from becoming a bad seed.  They basically repeated the things the bad seed did to become a good seed.  So I said, “I know one thing you can do to help you become a better seed.”  (I’ll bet you can guess what’s coming next!)  With great fear and trepidation I stepped across that invisible boundary that many call the separation of church and state and I said, “How about going to church?”  After I said that, I looked at Mrs. Alberson and asked if it was ok for me to say that, and she said it was.  So if I get into trouble, I’ll know where to send my accusers. J I then stepped over that line a little more and asked how many of them went to church. Several of them were members of our congregation, so they raised their hands. But only 2 or 3 others raised theirs.  And I’ll never forget what happened next.  This cute-as-a-button little girl off to my left said, “I want to go to church.  I tell my mommy and daddy I want to go to church, but they just tell me, ‘No!  We’re not taking you to church!’’  Oh, how my heart broke for that little girl!  And oh, how my mind wandered to what those parents will say to God when they someday find themselves standing before Him and He questions them as to why they didn’t introduce their precious little girl to Him.

   And what about you?  Currently we find ourselves sandwiched between those two very special family holidays: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Both of those days should serve as powerful reminders to us of two things:

  1. Our kids are a gift from God. Think back to the first time you found out you were going to be a parent.  For me, it was when Marilyn and I were serving our year of vicarage, or internship, in Bradenton, Florida.  Back then you actually had to go to a doctor to find out if you were expecting. I can still remember getting the phone call and taking a picture of Marilyn as she received the positive confirmation that, yes, she was pregnant and, yes, I was going to be a daddy.  I remember going to the hospital that afternoon to see a couple of our members and I literally felt like I was walking on air, like I was floating a few feet above the ground.  I’ve never had that sensation since then.  All I knew was that my life had just changed forever.  And when that little cone-headed baby whom we named Bethany entered the world on February 22, 2981, oh what a precious gift from God she was!  And I’m sure all of you parents felt the same way when your oldest child was born.

Then the second reminder is this:

  1. Our kids are a trust from God. That simply means He has entrusted them to us.  He has placed them in our care to be raised for His glory and for the good of His kingdom.  Like the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6:4, we are to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Elsewhere in Proverbs 22:6 we are told: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve heard people say: “My parents made me go to church when I was a child.  I’m not going to force my child to go.  I will let him make that decision for himself when he gets older.” How sad that an adult child would look upon their parents taking them to church and teaching them the ways of the Lord as being something bad for them!  And by the way, I can pretty well guarantee what decision children will make later on if they’ve had no parental input on spiritual matters.  As we all know, there are so many forces and influences out there in our world today just waiting to snatch our children away from us and especially from God.  So yes, Christian parents should make their children go to church to counteract all of that.  They should make sure that they are in Sunday School, VBS, and other church-related youth activities.  They should see to it that these precious boys and girls that God has entrusted to them get to know Jesus as their Savior from sin, as the Lord of their life, and as the best Friend they could ever have.

   But also understand that the church can only do so much.  We have your kids for only a few hours during the week…and that’s only if you make sure they’re here.  The home is the place where they really need to get to know their God and Savior.  They need to see Him at work in your life, resisting the temptation to sleep in on Sunday morning or to do things that you know are displeasing to Him.  They need to hear about Him from your lips, even if it’s something as simple as pointing out a beautiful sunset that God has blessed you with.  They need to understand the foundational role that the Bible plays in the life of the Christian.  Put simply, they need to see you giving God first place in your life for only then will He be able to make an impact on their lives.

   So remember, our kids are a gift from God and they are a trust from God.  They are on loan to us as long as He allows us to have them.  So let’s make the most of our time with them here so that we might spend all of eternity with them in the hereafter.

In Christ’s service and yours,