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Endangered Species

Forget the spotted owl and the snail darter; responsible fathers are a far more important endangered species:

About 36 percent of American children live apart from their biological father.

About 70 percent of juveniles and young adults in long-term correctional facilities did not live with both parents while growing up.

Fatherlessness is judged a contributing factor in as many as 3 out of 4 teen suicides and 4 of 5 teen psychiatric admissions.

More than 30 percent of births today are to unmarried women; most of these children will always live in mother-only homes.

About half of all children in the United States will experience parental divorce.

The research of Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner showed the dichotomy of how much time fathers think they spend with their children and how much time they actually share. Fathers were asked to estimate how much time they spent playing and interacting with their small children. Estimates averaged from fifteen to twenty minutes per day. Microphones were then attached to the fathers, and the results were astounding: "The average dad-child time was thirty-seven seconds a day." This reminds us a little of the Genesis record of one father: "And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money" (31:14,15). One cartoonist drew the characterization of a young boy standing next to his father's recliner. The father was engrossed in the sports page, while the impatient boy pounded the leather of his baseball glove. Finally the energetic little guy said, "Play with me or trade me!"

Fathers can make a difference I The Bible gives them a lot of credit by assuming they can bring their children "up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). First-graders were asked to draw a picture of God in their Sunday School class. Their finished products contained some interesting theology. One child depicted God in the form of a brightly colored rainbow. Another presented Him as an old man coming out of the clouds. An intense little boy drew God with a remarkable resemblance to Superman.- The best snapshot came-from a little girl.  She said, -"I didn't know what God looked like, so I just drew a picture of my daddy."

A group of young boys were debating whose father was the best. This discussion highlighted who their fathers knew. The first boy started the debate by claiming his father knew the mayor. He was soon topped by the second boy who said, "That's nothing. My dad knows the governor." The stakes were getting pretty high, and the eavesdropping father wondered what his young son would say about him. The little boy shot back, "So what! My dad knows God!" Would your son say the same thing'? May our children always be able to say, "My dad knows God!" Someone said, "Children are not likely to see much of a Father in God, unless they see something of God in their father" (cf. Lk. 1:6).

Get Rid of Him?

Some kids talked their mother into getting a hamster. Everybody agreed to the acquisition as long as the children took care of their new pet. They named him Danny. Within two months the little rat would have died had the mom not assumed full responsibility for his care. She decided it was time to give Danny to a new owner and called the children in to break the news. One child commented, "I'll rniss him; he's been around a long time." She agreed, "Yes, but he's too much work for me, so he needs to go." Another child suggested he might be able to stay if he ate less and wasn't so messy. But Mom was firm and said, "Let's go! It's time to take Danny to his new home." Then in unison the kids wailed, "Danny? We thought you said Daddy!"

This story is humorous, but it has a serious punch line. Divorce is doing to many children exactly what these feared. Read carefully what God thinks of this in Malachi 2:14-16 and Matthew 19:49.

Kids today learn a lot about getting to the moon, but very little about getting to heaven.

-David Jeremi