Thursday, September 21, 2017
Fasten Your Seat Belts (John 16:27-33, Colossians 1:17)

First United Methodist Church

Glen Rose, Texas

 September 7, 2014

Series: “Turbulence Ahead”

 “Fasten Your Seatbelts”

(John 16:27-33; Colossians 1:17)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

     Maybe you heard about the retired World War II pilot who was flying from his home to a reunion with his war buddies. The flight was fine, not much turbulence and pretty clear skies until they approached the destination. A sudden storm had swept into the city. The Fasten Seatbelt sign went on and the Captain announced that they were about to land but it might be bumpy.

     As it turned out, that was an understatement. Once they got through the storm, instead of a gentle landing, they bounce about three times before finally touching down. The last bounce was pretty hard and made several people scream and groan.

     When the passengers were finally deplaning, the old pilot waited until the very last. As he passed the Pilot, he turned and said, “I gotta ask, did we really land, or were we shot down?”

     I like to fly, not all the hassle leading up to it, but I love the feeling of flying despite the cramped legroom and narrow seats. There’s something invigorating about knowing you are flying, not quite like the birds but flying. That is until feel that first bit of turbulence. And when the captain comes on and says, “This is your Captain speaking, I’ve turned on the Fasten Seatbelt sign because we are flying into a storm. So, expect some Turbulence. We’ll do our best to make the flight as smooth as possible.”

     That’s when you get this sinking feeling in your gut. And you realize that although flying is the safest form of travel statistically, the statistician didn’t crunch those numbers in the middle of a storm.

     So, what do you do? You fasten your seat belt, maybe cinch it a little tighter than normal. You probably grab the arms of your seat and hang on as tight as you can. And maybe you even utter a silent prayer asking for both mercy and safety.

     Turbulence while flying isn’t really that unusual. Nor is it unusual in our daily lives. The problem is, we don’t think about the turbulence that is coming and prepare for it ahead of time. But it’s coming, that’s inevitable. What we need to do is be ready. And the first thing we need to do is Fasten Our Seatbelts.

PRAYER
SCRIPTURE

John 16:27-33 (NRSV)

[27] the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

[28] I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father."

[29] His disciples said, "Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech!

[30] Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God."

[31] Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe?

[32] The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.

[33] I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take courage; I have conquered the world!"

Colossians 1:17 (NRSV)        

[17] He himself (meaning Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

     One of the truths of life is that we will face Turbulence. There is no such thing as a storm free life. They can be big life threatening storms. Or they can be bumps in the road that jar us a little and make us slow down. They might be like a flat tire that stop us in our tracks for a while but eventually we’re able to move on. Whatever the case there will be Turbulence in our lives, especially if you have kids.

     Because sometimes, while you’re dealing with your own Turbulence, they are facing Turbulence in their lives, too. So, how do you help yourself and help them prepare for the Turbulence. And then weather the Turbulence when it happens.

I. WITH YOUR WORDS:

     A. I think the very first thing we need to share and to hear are words of encouragement. There is just too much negative bombarding us every single day. We need to combat it with positive encouragement for each other and especially for our children and our families. They need to know they are loved and valued for who they are and not what you want them to be.

     How many of you have ever heard of the company Despair, Inc. or visited their website? They are famous for their Demotivational Posters. You heard me right.

     This is a direct quote from the homepage of Despair Inc. “When we started Despair, we had a dream. To crush other people's dreams. But we knew, given our goal, we'd be in for a fight. After all, the Motivation Industry has been crushing dreams for decades, selling the easy lie of success you can buy. That's why we decided to differentiate ourselves - by crushing dreams with hard truths!

          Motivational Products Don't Work. But our Demotivator® Products, Don't Work Even Better.” Here’s a few of their Demotivational Posters. Here’s ten of my favorites.

[01] Believe In Yourself: Because the rest of think your’re an idot.

[02] Insignificance: If you think it’s lonely at the top, just wait ‘til you try the bottom.

[03] Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

[04] Foresight: Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those busy proving them right.

[05] Distinction: Looking sharp is easy when you haven’t done any work.

[06] Challenges: I expected times like this – but never thought they’d be so bad, so long and so frequent.

[07] Cluelessness: There are not stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.

[08] Meetings: None of us is as dumb as all of us.

[09] Multitasking: The art of doing twice as much as you should half as well as you could.

[10] Idiocy: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

     Now I realize it’s all tongue in cheek but I’m sure there are people who don’t see it that way. They actually believe those messages were written just for them.

     GEICO Insurance has some of the most creative commercials on Television. They run at least two campaigns and sometimes three campaigns at the same time, some with the Gecko and others that are just plain funny in a ridiculous sort of way. I particularly like the Words commercial where the guys says words can hurt you. Then we see the scene of the cowboy and his girl. The cowboy says, “I’m sorry. I’m a loner and loner’s got to be alone.”

     He takes off on his horse. Just when he passes through the gate of the ranch, in giant letters you see the words at the end of every movie, “The End.” He hits his head on one of the letters and it knocks him off his horse.

     The point is Words do hurt. They stick with us.       They stick to us. They grab onto our hearts and souls like grass burrs to your socks. You can pick and pick and pick and never really get rid of them. The barbs just won’t let go and they continue to poke you.

     B. I’m sure part of the reason I think encouragement is so important is because I didn’t get much encouragement growing up. My Dad was a Demotivator not a motivator. From an early age I realized that no matter what I did, it wasn’t going to be good enough for Dad. I don’t ever remember him saying, “Good job, Billy.” I remember him saying it to my brother but never to me.

     Mom praised me. Mom said, “Good job, Billy.” But Mom's praise never seemed to count much, and it certainly didn't negate the lack of praise and the demotivation my Dad offered. What he never understood was I would have done anything if Dad had just offered one word of encouragement

     Words of encouragement are like that one perfect shot when you’re playing golf. I’m not much of a golfer and haven’t played in a long time but I do remember the personal joy and the motivation that one perfect shot could give to an entire round of golf. When you feel all the muscles do exactly what you want them to do. When you feel the power released through the club to the ball and hear the ping of the sweet spot and watch that ball fly through the air or roll into the hole just as you expected; that’ll keep you coming back to play no matter what your handicap. Am I right?

     Words of encouragement have the same effect on the hearts and souls of our children and youth.

     And as parents, grandparents and significant adults in the lives of the children and youth of our church, we are called to be encouragers. We are called to wrap them in the safety of our encouraging words and let those words be like a Seatbelt that will help them when they face those times of Turbulence and even Temptation in their lives.

II. WITH YOUR PRESENCE:

     A. And it’s not just words of encouragement, sometimes the encouragement they need the most is your presence. Simply being there can be as reassuring as the sound of the buckle on the Seatbelt clicking into place. I admire parents and grandparents who take the time to be at every game and every event their kids are in. Their presence is a great support and encouragement.

     I remember reading about a third grade Teacher who invited Dads to visit her class on a certain day. She knew it would be difficult for many of them to make it but made the invitation anyway.

     The day of the visitation only 8 of the 22 Dads showed up. As they were went around the room with introductions, the teacher asked each student to tell what their Dad did for a living.

     They went around the circle and heard the usual, “My Dad’s a Doctor. My Dad’s a lawyer. My Dad works in an office.” All of the normal stuff but when they came one little girl she just looked up at her Dad and said, “My Daddy’s here.”

     She didn’t care what anyone else’s father did. She didn’t care what her own father did. What was important was that her father took the time to encourage his daughter by being there. And you can encourage your children and youth and the children and youth of this community by being there. And also by being here.

III. WITH YOUR EXAMPLE:

     A. You see, another way to wrap yourself and your children in the Seatbelt which will help them in the midst of the Turbulence and storms of life is with your Example; and especially the example of your family worshipping together.

     Think about the hours your child spends in school, watching TV, playing video games, on the internet or talking to their friends. Then think about all the hours your children and youth spend at school and participating in school related activities. Even if you attended both Sunday School & Worship every single week, you and they are only getting 104 contact hours of focused faith activities. And by that I mean those kinds of things that focus on the moral foundation we all need in our  lives.

     Public School isn't designed to give your children and youth the moral foundation they need to live in the world and to make wise choices. There may be teachers whose lives exhibit those characteristics whom students begin to emulate. But School doesn't prepare them for the real world.

     As much as it would like to, it's not part of the school's mission, it's not part of its overall scope except by example. As much as I love the Public School system and especially what the Glen Rose School District can and does do, Technically, it can't provide things like answers to faith questions.

     They can compare the beliefs of various religions and discuss them but they can't espouse one over the other. Parents would have a cow if they did.

     The moral and spiritual development of our children and youth falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and the rest of the family, like grand-parents, aunts and uncles etc. That’s also part of the responsibility of the Church, too. But the majority of that responsibility belongs to the parents.

     You see, once we have children, the primary purpose of life is to provide for them, to raise them in a Godly manner instilling Biblical values into them through our teaching and own lifestyles. Our job is to be parents. Not friends. Not best buddies. Not baby sitters. But parents.

     Putting your children on the bus in the morning does NOT insure that your child will succeed in school, in life, in relationships. It doesn’t even insure they will receive the best education.

     Dropping kids off for Sunday School and Church does not insure that they will become a Christian any more than sitting in the garage will transform you into a pickup truck.. Transformation takes work. But they have a better chance of becoming a Christian and living with Christian values if you set the example and live out your discipleship together by worshipping and studying together.

     A butterfly isn't born overnight. It has to go through all the stages from the egg, to the caterpillar, to the cocoon and the struggle to bust out of the cocoon. The struggle is part of the birthing process. Without the struggle it won’t be able to fly. The reason I use that example is that I know how much of a struggle it is to get up and get everybody ready and get to church and Sunday School. But the Struggle is part of being able to help our children and youth to fly.

CONCLUSION:

     There was a five year old little girl who was very special to her church. She and her family were at the 8:30 service almost every Sunday morning. She was a little rambunctious at times but really enjoyed coming to church and going to Sunday School.

     One evening she was watching television with her mom and dad. Suddenly, a news flash showed the President walking to a meeting. The President was surrounded by a group of men and women in dark suits.       

     It was the first time she had ever really noticed the President and the other men and women around him, so she asked her parents: “Who are those people with the President? Why are they with him?”

     Her parents answered: “They are members of the secret service. They go with the President everywhere he goes. They travel with him always. They protect him and take care of him and keep him safe at all times.”

     She smiled and said: “That’s what Jesus does for me!”

     She knew exactly what Paul meant when he wrote, “in Jesus all things hold together.”

     Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” 

     Speed bumps, crash landings and Turbulence are all part of life. But when we Encourage each other and encourage our Children, Youth and Spouses with Our Words, Our Presence and Our Example we are putting them in a seatbelt of faith, ours and theirs, which will help them overcome or conquer any obstacles that come. Remember it is Jesus that is holding it all together and when it’s in His hands we don’t have to worry because He will accompany us through whatever comes our way. That’s His promise to us.

     

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

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