In his Book of Virtues, William Bennett says that it takes three things to build character in a child. First, he says, it takes precepts, — do’s and don’ts. “Don’t hit your sister!” “Do eat your peas and carrots.” “The Ten Commandments.” These are the “precepts.” Second, he says it takes good habits. Aristotle once said that the key to success is good habits formed when we are young. But William Bennett said that the most powerful influence in the life of a child is the power of “quiet example.” For a child to take morality seriously, the child has to live in the presence of adults who take morality seriously. It reminds me of my favorite definition of a babysitter. “A babysitter is a teenager who comes into your house and acts like an adult, so that the adults can go out and act like teenagers.” All kidding aside, children need to see adults acting like adults, so that the character that is being taught, can also be caught. We need the inspiration of role models. So, let me ask you, is there someone of noble character, who by their faithful example, called you out of mediocrity, and to a whole new level of life?
The purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is to get people up off the ground. There were people who helped get Paul off the ground. With the dust still in his mouth after he got slammed to the ground on the Damascus Road, he got up, rubbed his eyes, and said, “I can’t see! I’m blind.” And then, in some very touching language, it says, “they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” Paul was miserable. He was sick. He was all alone and afraid. He was a physical and emotional wreck. And right then, God makes a divine appointment, with a man named Ananias.
In a vision God says to Ananias, “Hey Ananias, you know that spare bedroom you have on the second floor? I want you to go and make up the bed, because I have someone in mind to come and use that spare bedroom. He’s new in town. His name is Saul of Tarsus.” Ananias not only takes him in, but also prays with him. And, what a prayer he prayed with him! It says, “he laid his hands on him and said, “‘Brother Saul.’” These were the first words that Saul heard after getting creamed by Christ on the Damascus road. Ananias says, “I have come that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Guess what happens. It says, “. . . immediately, scales fell from his eyes and his sight was restored.” And then, he was baptized. What is it that a person needs most when their life is falling apart? Is it a copy of one of my sermons? I wish! No! What they need most is a flesh and blood Ananias, who will come along side them, put their arm around their shoulder, pray with them, spend QUALITY TIME with them, -- and love them.
This Sunday, May 15, the Reverend Cynthia Betz-Bogoly, pastor of the Elkins Park Presbyterian Church, will be at Chestnut Level preaching and leading worship, and I will be at her church as we swap pulpits for the day. She is graciously continuing in my sermon series titled, “The Five Love Languages of God.” Cynthia will looking at the third of the love languages, -- “Quality Time.” Please join us in the sanctuary at either 8:00 am or 10:30 am. For the 10:30 service, we will also be broadcasting on Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube.
The second Service is live streamed at the following links: