If you have observed my home page at all this week, you know that I have really enjoyed having an old directory from the Midland Boulevard church of Christ in Fort Smith. This was the church of my youth, and in this particular directory from 1965 — I was 14 years old. As I have thumbed through the pages of this directory (several times), I have been reminded of people that I had forgotten, and seen pictures of people that I don’t remember. It has really been an interesting experience.
This is the church where my faith was shaped. It was the church where I was baptized one Sunday night by Blaney Pendleton, one of the elders. It was the church where I learned the stories of the Bible — creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the judges, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, the kings and the prophets. Those stories helped to us appreciate Jesus, the apostles, and Paul. I know that children raised on all the technological advances of the last 50 years, would not learn those stories like I did — flannel graph board, cut outs, pictures to color — but they need to learn them! That needs to be the course of study for the kids today!!
I was reminded of all that, by a chapter in my reading today. Psalm 78 is a passage that every parent, grandparent, preacher, elder, and educational director needs to be familiar with. Listen to how it begins:
“O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past —
stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them —
even the children not yet born —
and they in turn will teach their own children,
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.”
(Psalm 78:1-7, NLT)
From that point, the psalmist (Asaph) spends the next 64 verses telling about some of the things that God has done for His people.
We don’t leave the teaching of these stories up to just our local churches. As parents, and grandparents, we need to share these stories. I will confess to you, that I did not do as good a job telling my kids these stories. I was always afraid that if I started telling them Bible stories, they would think that I was preaching at them. I was wrong, if they were going to think that, I should have just let them think that — I needed to reinforce what they heard at church. My grandkids need to know these stories, and I need to help them learn them.
I don’t know if we have gotten so educated, that we think we are hindering their intellectual growth by telling them what our God has done in the past. I don’t know if we are ashamed to tell them, admitting they we believe in a God that works this way. I know that many of you share these stories with the kids on a regular basis. What I want to say is, if you are, keep it up; and if you are not, start. I believe that our preachers need to preach these stories, affirming their acceptance of the God that does these things.
That last verse — “So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” — may haunt several of us. If you have wrestled with this, help to tell all of the stories to everyone that needs to know them.