Preparing for School (an object lesson using school supplies) September 1 It is time for school again! Have you gathered your school supplies? I brought my backpack filled with school supplies. Let's see what is here. First I see my ruler. I will need a ruler at school. It has a scripture verse printed on the side. When I draw straight lines, it reminds me to live by God's rules. Here is my pencil. Everyone has to have a pencil when you go to school. The church secretary gave this one to me. It is special because it has the name of our church on it. It reminds me of a big family that loves me. I also need a bookmark, and here it is. We received these bookmarks at church last Easter. It is purple and has a picture of a dove on it, and tells me that Jesus died so I could have eternal life. Now all I need is my text book. Yes, here it is. I am going to take my Bible to school with me. All my books are important, but the Bible is the most important book of all. I believe I am ready for school. Are you? When you pack your backpack for school, be sure to include some supplies that can remind you about Jesus, your church, and God's love for you. (Barry Beames) No Bonsai Here! (an object lesson using a Bonsai tree) Do you know what kind of tree this is? It is called a Bonsai tree. These miniature trees are real, living trees. This is a pine tree — can you see the little pine cones? It sure doesn't look like the pine trees you see on the side of the highway, does it? I also have an orange tree and it has real miniature oranges. Bonsai trees are grown to be small. If you keep them in a small container, cut off the new growth, and trim the roots the tree will not grow to be a big tree. It is a lot of work to keep Bonsai trees small. And it does seem a little silly, doesn't it, because God created trees to grow and be big. God also made you to grow. You do not want to be small all your life, do you? No, you want to grow up and be big. The Bible tells us about several children who grew up to be big. One was Samuel. As Samuel grew he did the things that pleased God and that brought happiness to his life (I Sam. 2:26). Just like you, Jesus wanted to grow also. He became strong and wise and God was happy with Him (Luke 2:40). Everyone knows that to grow up you need to play safe, eat the right foods, say no to drugs and alcohol, and get plenty of exercise and rest. But sometimes we forget that we also need to develop a strong spiritual life. You will want to pray everyday. You learn God's word by reading the Bible. You go to church and grow by being with God's family. Bonsai trees are cute but they are not useful. You can't eat the fruit. The pine cones are not large enough to decorate. You can't even sit under the shade. You and I don't want to be Bonsai Christians — small and useless. Let's pray and ask the Lord to help us do the things it will take to help us grow and be strong. Ask Him to help us always have the right kind of food and friends, and to be able to say no to things like drugs that will harm us. Ask Him to help us pray everyday, learn what the Bible says, and love the church. Don't be a Bonsai! Let's grow up! (Barry f. Beames) Barry J. Beames is pastor of First Baptist Church, Jefferson, TX.