A little boy came through the front door of his house after the first day of the new school year. His mother asked him the question that parents always ask. She asked, “What did you learn at school today?” The boy responded, “All that I learned was how to spell ‘cat.’ It is spelled ‘k-a-t.’” His mother said, “That’s now how you spell ‘cat.’” He replied, “In that case, I didn’t learn anything.”

The beginning of the new school year is a reminder of the challenge of learning, and almost everyone is involved at some level. Some of you are students. Some are teachers, administrators, and support personnel. Sone are parents and grandparents of students. The first days of school are a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and new beginnings for everyone who is involved.

I wonder if it was like that for the Apostle Paul when he attended his first day of class in Jerusalem? Paul was not from Jerusalem originally. He was born in “Tarsus of Cilicia,” a city located in what is now southern Turkey. He did not stay in Tarsus, however. At an early age he moved to Jerusalem to enroll in the school of Gamaliel, the leading religious teach of the day (Acts 22:3).

Paul was undoubtedly apprehensive about how he would fit in here. It was a new teacher, a new city, and a new course of study.

The fact that Paul’s parents were willing to send their son to Jerusalem shows how much they valued his getting a good education. Parents then and now realize the importance of that and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary for their children to receive it.

When James Sanders wrote his book, God Has a Story Too, he dedicated it in an unusual way. On the dedication page he wrote, “For Sisters Agnes and Iris and my sister Nell, women who told me the tomb was empty, and for Ruth and Joe Brown Love, who told me my head need not be.” The dedication is a reminder that we can have trusting hearts and trained minds. The two go together, and we need to work to develop both of them.

Education is not easy. Paul was a gifted learner, but not everyone is. The comedian Jack Benny was never a good student. He said, “I took to school the way a fish takes to land.” God did not create us all alike. He has designed us to fill many different positions in the kingdom and in the world. We need to enable each student to be the best that he or she can be in using the gifts God has given to each of them!

What an exciting opportunity lies out before us! May God bless all who are involved in this new school year!

LYNN JONES is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at

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