[The following is the text of comments from the Elders made to the Kleinwood church of Christ on Sunday, August 9, 2015, to that congregation's departing college students.]
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The Hebrew phrase here is “at the opening of his path,” meaning that time when a child goes out on his own for the first time.
We have 7 college-bound seniors who are leaving home for the first time to be on their own. In addition to these are 25 college students returning to school this month.
These souls are the future of our nation.
They are the generators of our heritage.
They are the future of the Lord’s church.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, “Remember also thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;” Some translations interpret this phrase, “Remember thy Maker in the days of thy strength…”
You are young; you are strong; you are standing at the open path to your future.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and you don’t know what you can’t do.
You also may not realize your own, vast potential to do good.
Your parents have raised you and taught you what it means to be a Christian.
It is now on your shoulders to go forward and use those tools to be productive citizens in society—and workers for the Lord, where ever life may take you.
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in helping that young preacher prepare and persevere for his life’s work as an evangelist (the bolded emphasis is mine) in 2 Timothy 3:
1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away.
6 For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, 7 ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth. Men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be.
10 But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, 11 persecutions, sufferings. What things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. 17 That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work."
You have the best textbook in the world right there on your lap (or on your electronic device).
Pack Your Bible—put it right on top—before you leave your house for college.
When you get to school, seek out a congregation of The Lord’s people, and identify yourself with them. The reason is two-fold: You need to be under the oversight of good shepherds during this next phase of your life. And, your presence at every service will be an immense encouragement to that local group.
Watch out with whom you hang out.
Evil companions corrupt good morals.
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, 18 And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
Remember who you are—and where you came from: Your conduct is a reflection of not just your own character, but also of your parents. It’s taken 18- to 20-years to build your good reputation; you can lose it in 18- to 20-seconds thru misjudgment. Whether you’re an Aggie, a Razorback, or a Longhorn; a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker—you are Christians first.
We are Christians first.
Parents—it’s not over. Keep tabs on these college “youts.” Text them, call them, send care packages—stay in touch. Know what they’re doing—and how they’re doing. Watch their Facebook, Twitter-feeds and Instagrams. Be proactive. Let them know that you care. This is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life—it is also one of the most lonely. Stay involved.
A suggestion from the Elders: Sunday afternoon is a good time for a regular chat—you can get a weekly update on their activities. Ask them about that morning’s sermon: In this way you can stay engaged with their spiritual growth, while being reassured of their weekly faithfulness.
College is not for everyone. Some people are not college material, but can progress in life as productive and successful members of society thru other avenues of personal growth. It’s okay to fail—so long as you learn from the experience, and get back up again.
Thomas Edison, while perfecting the light bulb, tried countless combinations in coming up with the right filament. He said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Choice” is going to be a very important word. Up to this point, most of the choices in your life have been made for you. Now, you’re going to be making them for yourself, and the consequences will be on you, for better or for worse. Choose well.
Proverbs 16:7 "When a man's ways please Jehovah, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 8 Better is a little, with righteousness, than great revenues with injustice. 9 A man's heart devises his way; But Jehovah directs his steps."
Holy Father in Heaven: We ask your watchful care on these children—
Not yet adults, no longer kids;
Guide their steps as they cross the threshold of their fathers’ homes,
and begin a new chapter of exploration, education, and growth in their lives.
Grant that they will keep You close to their heart;
Give them remembrance of Your ways.
Help them thwart the evils of the world,
and protect their hearts from temptation.
We pray for the families that they will leave behind.
As the quietness of an empty bedroom settles on their homes, may those sweet memories of childhood remain, and the promise of reunion strengthen their parents’ hearts against the loneliness of separation.
Father, we thank you for Your Son, and for the sacrifice that He made for us all.
May we keep Him ever in the forefront of our lives, and may His teachings guide our decisions always.
We ask you for your protection.
We thank you for your grace.
We beg for your forgiveness,
And we hope for your return.
In Jesus’ name…Amen.