From this morning’s sermon:
One of the most famous books in American history is Noah Webster’s Spelling Book. It was used to teach spelling and reading to five generations of American students. His books on spelling, reading, and grammar shaped the consciousness of Americans for 100 years.
Webster was a committed Christian, and his books were grounded in Christian truth and thinking. He believed that education was useless without the Bible. The very first lesson in his spelling book began: “Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor for your body, what ye shall put on; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”
In his American Spelling Book, Webster used a question-and-answer format. This is the way that children once learned to read and write and think. There is a section of cheerfulness in the Webster Speller:
Q: Is cheerfulness a virtue?
A: It doubtless is, and a moral duty to practice it.
Q: Can we be cheerful when we please?
A: In general it depends much on ourselves. We can often mold our tempers into a cheerful frame…. To indulge in habitual gloominess of mind is weakness and sin.
Q: What are the effects of cheerfulness on ourselves?
A: Cheerfulness is a great preservative of health, over which it is our duty to watch with care. We have no right to sacrifice our health by the indulgence of a gloomy state of mind….
Q: What are the effects of cheerfulness on other?
A: Cheerfulness is readily communicated to others, by which means their happiness is increased.
I’m not sure that message is getting out to children anymore, but we’re here to say it. The Bible says, “Be joyful always,” and that’s not just a recommendation, it’s a rule. There’s a tremendous amount of good that comes from memorizing and meditating on 1 Thessalonians 5:16: Be joyful always!
PS – There’s a very encouraging article referring to my book, The Red Sea Rules, here: One Family Answers Their Kids’ Questions ABout Cancer.