Category Archives: Parenting

Mercy and Fear

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)

“He Could Break Me”

When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”

Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.

daddyBut the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.

You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.

Proper Motivation

In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.

When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”

But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.


A Fool and His “Switch”

Proverbs 14:3

“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
“A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.” – NIV

Pick Your Own

If the typical Child Protective Services agent of today had been around when I was a wee heathen, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents would have been hauled off to jail. My parents, especially my paternal grandmother, would have wound up on the front page of the newspaper. They would have made the evening news on television. The story would have read something like this…

Click on the picture. I’m sure the company won’t mind me doing a little advertising in return for using their t-shirt pic 😉

APNews. Mary Baker, the half-Cherokee grandmother of sweet little Anthony Baker, was arrested for gross child abuse, today. Mrs. Baker, widow of the late William Baker (saw mill owner; moonshine runner), was found to have left marks on cute little Anthony’s backside and buttocks with a “hickory switch.”

Left-wing, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, liberal, hippie neighbors who somehow snuck into the neighborhood heard little Anthony screaming bloody murder and went to investigate. They reported seeing darling little Anthony bent over his grandmother’s knee as she mercilessly assaulted him with the large tree branch previously growing in the front yard.

According to the angelic little Anthony, his grandmother, upon hearing him backtalk her, told him to exit the house in order to retrieve said “switch.” When he didn’t return with the prescribed tool of abuse, Mrs. Baker sought him out, hewed down her own tree, then preceded to “wear him out.

Yes, when I was a child, you did not talk disrespectfully to your grandmother. If your mouth was bad enough you might even be made to pick your own tool of discipline – and it was wise to pick a big enough switch the first time.

A Fool’s Talk

Whenever I was about to get into serious trouble, my dad used to say, “Son, you’re cruising for a bruising.” Whenever I talked back (disrespectfully) to my parents, I was in danger of seeing stars (without a telescope). Therefore, it did not take long for me to learn how to control my tongue.

According to this proverb, though, a fool is pictured as having a rod (switch, branch, vine) growing out of his mouth. Because of his pride, the fool never learns from the consequences of his words. Every thing he says seems to come back and beat him.

The one who knows how to keep his mouth shut, however, is much more likely to be able to sit down without pain. At least that’s the way it used to be.

A Note for the Shocked

Please don’t misunderstand today’s proverb, nor my attempt at humor. No one here, especially myself, would advocate abusing a child. Corporal punishment should be administered in love, not anger, and only as a last resort.

The problem is that much of our society promotes “the mouth of the foolish.” Remember, “God is not mocked,” so the fool that runs off at the mouth today is still in danger of suffering from his words – one way or another.


Buddy or Parent?

Proverbs 13:24

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Since 2005, I have not only served at my church as Worship Pastor but I have also held the position of Children’s Pastor. Because of the structure of our children’s program, I have volunteers that are mostly dealing with the children on a week to week basis. I have found that I am begin to work more and more with the parents of these children.

I had a mom come to me a few years ago and she told me that her and her husband were having problems with their daughter not wanting to obey them. They said that they had tried just about everything and nothing seemed to work. I asked them how they disciplined their daughter when she disobeyed them and I was astonished by the response.

Her response was this: I don’t want to punish her because I want her to like me and if I punish her then she will not like me!

HUH? What kind of sense that does that make? I told them that their daughter does not need a “buddy” but a “parent”!

This Is Going To Hurt Me More Than You

As I was growing up, you could say that I had my fair share of spankings. Well, to be perfectly honest, I had a whole lot more than my fair share. My father always joked with me that each morning he was going to just go ahead and spank me because he was sure that I would earn it at some point during the day.

Before either my father or my mother would spank me, they would always say, “This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you.” I would always have the same thought go through my head – your not the one getting a spanking. How in the world is this going to hurt you more? It was not until I had a little girl of my own that I was able to have this question answered.

The Reason

After every spanking, my parents would take out their Bible and show me from God’s Word why they were disciplining me. They would turn to Proverbs 13:24 and read to me the words of Solomon. The reason that it hurt them more and the reason they disciplined me is that they loved me! They were not disciplining me because they wanted to be some kind of ruling tyrant, no, they were doing it because they loved me. The NIV says our verse this way, “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.”

If we are children of God, why does HE discipline us? Because HE loves us! Revelation 3:19 says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

I praise the Lord for parents who disciplined me. Who took the time to tell me right from wrong; the good from the bad. Oh how I wish parents today would discipline their children the way my parents did me.

Lord, I pray that you would help me to love my child more and more each day. I pray that you would cause that love to discipline her when it is needed.  Help me to be the father that I need to be for my daughter so that I can train her according to Your Word.


Get a Job! Or 3 or 4!

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“I’m Gonna…”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I’m gonna (do this or that).” I have heard grand schemes, everything from opening a new business, to joining the military, to inventing a never-before-heard-of product that will revolutionize the world. Yet, nothing ever gets done.

The “sluggard” is a man or woman that is flat-out lazy. The word comes from the idea of calling a person a slug, or a snail. But at least a snail is usually on his way somewhere, albeit slowly. The sluggard does nothing but talk of plans in the works, but work is never seen.

Get a Job!

Just today I was talking with a mother of a grown man out of work. He constantly takes from her, then runs off until the money is gone. He abuses her property, never gives her respect, and tries to play “daddy” with a girl who is not his wife. And when it comes to work, he complains that he can’t find a job. Baloney…Hogwash…Cow feces!

I thank God for allowing my wife and I to hit rock bottom years ago. I went from making a large income to making nothing. Just to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family’s heads, I (and my wife) did everything from deliver news papers, to clean toilets in factories. I delivered pizza, worked on a dangerous assembly line, and even sold insurance. At one point I was working 3-4 jobs at one time!

You see, the lazy sluggard has big desires, but won’t take responsibility and work for it. The diligent will do whatever it takes.

Little Patience

Today’s proverb reminds me of how little patience I have for “sluggards.” In my opinion there is no excuse for someone to sit on his duff and whine about what he doesn’t have. A real man will work, even if it is not the type of work he prefers. It is his responsibility, especially if he has a family.

Some want to use the “system” as an excuse for laziness. Others want to blame the government or the “bourgeoisie.” But in reality, the only one to blame is the one who desires something, but does nothing honest to obtain it. Honest, hard work is the answer to a great deal of society’s woes.

“But, there are no good jobs!” you may say. Sorry, washing dishes is a job. Cleaning floors is a job. And, if you do both at the same time, along with getting tips from waiting tables, you can live without mooching off your mother.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” – Ephesians 4:28

Thus sayeth the Lord: “Get a job.”


Consider Your Words

Proverbs 10:32

“The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.”

Think Before You Speak

The power of words and the language we use should never be under-estimated. Words can build up or words can destroy. A wise and righteous person thinks before speaking, and chooses his or her words carefully. A foolish or wicked person rarely stops to think, and words fall out of his or her mouth like tiny bombs that inflict all kinds of damage.

When I think back to my childhood I remember hearing words that shaped me. Call a child stupid enough times and he or she will grow up believing that they are stupid. My year four teacher at junior school made it clear that she didn’t like me, and that she thought that I was no good. I was eight years old. I knew I could never please this woman of harsh words, so I gave up trying. But I didn’t just give up trying in her class. I gave up trying for a long time, and never really enjoyed school again. I left school at sixteen.

Worse Than Profanities

Words spoken without thought, and especially those spoken with evil intent, are worse than profanities. Most children are brought up not to use profanities. My father would have punished me if he had heard me swear. But I have heard many words that are worse than profanities. Any word spoken with the intention of causing hurt, for instance. Why use words designed to cause pain, when words could be used instead to encourage family members, colleagues at work, friends in church, and friends outside the church? Sadly, it is all too easy to say the wrong thing.

The Bible teaches us to be encouragers, and provides many examples. These include Moses and Joshua, Samuel and David, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and His disciples, Paul and many of the early evangelists who accompanied him on his travels. Most of these relationships also contained a significant element of mentoring. These were intentional relationships in which one person sought to build up and encourage another, the aim being to help and enable the other person to fulfill their God-given potential.

Stop a moment and take a brief look at your own life. Consider the words spoken to you and the words you say to others. Who is encouraging you, who is an encouragement to you, and who are you encouraging? Could God be pointing you into a mentoring relationship?


Mr. Mischief

Proverbs 10:23

“It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.”

Sporting Excellence

My children love sport. They have all worked hard in their time to gain places on school and other teams, and one made it to county level in rugby. A certain amount of dedication is required to achieve high standards in sport. There are many training sessions to attend if players are to have a chance of making the team. There is also a significant parental contribution in terms of driving children to and from training sessions and matches. Although providing transport is part of parenting, I have always welcomed the opportunity to watch my children playing sport.

The Sport of Mischief

It is an interesting concept to consider mischief (described as evil conduct in the NIV) to be a sport, particularly given the amount of effort required to compete effectively in any sport. If mischief were a sport then would it feature at the Olympic Games? The fact that mischief did not show its face at the recent London Olympics is more than certainly due to the wisdom shown in the security measures taken prior to and during the Olympics. The threat of mischief was ever present, but the Games passed virtually without incident, because the authorities were prepared, and despite being badly let down by the security guarding contractor.

The Wisdom of Understanding

If a man or woman of understanding has wisdom then that wisdom needs to be used, especially when it comes to fools making mischief. Wisdom requires us to understand that there is a threat, and to acknowledge the risk from those who treat mischief as a sport. We will find them in our schools and colleges, in our workplaces, and in our churches. Scripture warns us to be alert.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15 NIV)


Need a Rod?

Proverbs 10:13

“In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.”

Whack On the Head

One of my favorite television shows of all time has been NCIS. I love the combination of drama, action, and genuine humor that is so characteristic of each episode. The characters in this crime drama have become almost like family over the years. And when I read verse thirteen, I thought of two of the main characters, Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly).

So many times, when DiNozzo says or does something inappropriate, Gibbs is famous for coming up behind DiNozzo and whacking him on the head (as a form of endearment, of course). Instead of getting a “rod” to the back, DiNozzo gets a palm to the back of his skull, all because he said something stupid.

I’ve Heard it Said

I have heard it said somewhere that the less you say, the smarter you appear. Likewise, the more one runs his mouth, the more ignorant he appears, not to mention how obnoxious he becomes. Have you ever met a person like that? Someone who thinks he knows everything, but is “void of understanding?”

People love to hear the words from the genuinely knowledgeable. In their words wisdom can be found. Good can come from listening to one who has experience in a matter. People may even seek him out to hear him speak.

On the other hand, people tire quickly of the one who thinks he is an expert. He has no wisdom, only pride. This man constantly offers his advice on anything and everything from love to lampshades, even though he has never been in a relationship and he’s a filament short of a light bulb. Solomon essentially says that this man is asking for a beating.

The Back Saver

Having been in ministry a while, I have visited my fair share of hospitals, jails, and prisons; not to mention broken homes and funeral homes. In so many of those places there are people who have suffered from the result of foolishness. Void of wisdom, they suffer the consequences of their actions. Yet, when offered help, they speak again of things they refuse to understand.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him (Proverbs 22:15 ESV). That leads me to believe that wisdom in the mouth of an adult could be a back saver.