Tag Archives: children

Wisdom Calls To All Children

“To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. -Proverbs 8:4, ESV

The call of wisdom is available to all – young and old, male and female.

Everyone.

This verse should serve as a reminder that God expects us to not only respond to the call, but to do all we can to help others hear it, too.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:7

Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Psalms 34:11

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children
Psalms 78:5

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 11:19

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

Especially when they are young.

But something to remember is that, in God’s eyes, we are all children.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4

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Are you listening?

headphones-152341_1280I am at a venerable point in life when my adult children, (all in their 30’s at this writing), have been saying thing like,

“Mom, I heard you coming out of my mouth!”, or…

“Is that how Dad would treat Mom?”, or…

“I’m ‘channeling’ you, Mom”, and one of my personal favorites after the birth of a granddaughter,

“Mom, I’m sorry for all the #*@!! I put you through.”

It’s a time when you realize that something, by God’s grace, got through, is still getting through.  Sometimes it sure seems like our kids just aren’t paying attention.

But they are.  In more ways than one.

I love the New Living Translation header for Proverbs chapter 7:

“Another Warning about Immoral Women”

Emphasis on “another”.  Just in case you missed the first one or two. 

Can’t you just see the kid rolling his eyes?  That whole oh-mom-do-we-have-to-talk-about-this-again attitude. 

To which the obvious answer is emphatically affirmative.  Because it’s critically important that the child is told why.  Because they have friends who haven’t been told.  Because there’s a society drooling in anticipation to ensnare him in something dangerous and deadly.

Like chapter five, this chapter isn’t just for the guys, either.  And actually, taken as a whole, it can be seen as something more than sexual promiscuity, something far deeper and far more insidious—

Seduction.

How interesting that Babylon is personified in Revelation as a prostitute.  Babylon, the representation of all that is anti-Christ, all that would seduce me away from Christ and set up her own kingdom within my heart.  If I read Proverbs chapter seven and insert the word “Babylon” in place of “woman”, it brings out a whole new context.  It forces me to look at myself, my decisions, my desires in an uncomfortable light. 

Seduction.  Undoubtedly, sex is one of the vehicles that the enemy perverts for this purpose.  It’s definitely a strong one, but it’s only one.  He has many options when it comes to seduction.

  • People’s applause and affirmation, (including family, loved ones, people whose opinions “count”),
  • Financial security, (an oxymoron, BTW),
  • Emotional comfort zone

You know, like sex, all these can be good things!  We need affirmation, I appreciate my husband’s detail to retirement preparation, and emotional security is important to every other kind of health, so that’s not the point.  Instead, when these things (and there are many others) draw us away from God’s intended purpose—intimacy with Himself—then Seduction is at work…overtime!

I appreciate the in-your-face strategies that given in this same chapter, including 1st-person observation revealing the woman’s tricks, calling attention to the son’s heart (something sorely neglected in our day), the use of flattery, the lie of anonymity, and the advice to not even start down that path.  It reminds me that I need some strategies as well…

“…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”

The words of the Parent ring just as true today, in all areas of life.  I aspire to be an attentive child.

 


2 Corinthians 2:11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

2 Corinthians 2:11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Just Like You Said

girl-563719_1280Children have an innate ability to (at least believe they) remember something you SAID. 

Y’know, like, six months ago. 

“But YOU PRO-O-O-M-I-S-E-D!!”

Busted!

Personally, I think it’s pretty humorous.  Kids will keep you, if not broke, then at least honest, when the money goes for braces instead of a new(er) car, or into the college fund rather than a retirement fund.  Disney over Cancun, that sort of thing.

Best not to tell a kid something unless you mean it.  To them, our words are powerful, like a contract signed in blood, and once they know you’re sincere, they’ll be back for more.  More encouragement, more love…more money.  (Always more money.)

Interestingly, it can be similar to the spiritual realm—Heaven is listening to what we say.  Unfortunately, Hell is also tuned in.  Now, I have heard my husband say that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He doesn’t force Himself on anyone.  He is forgiving and patient.  Consider the Prodigal Son who walked away and then said, “oops!” 

 Satan,…not so much.  

 “…if you have trapped yourself by your agreement
    and are caught by what you said—”

I realize the context of this passage from Proverbs is concerned with signing off on someone else’s debt, but perhaps the principle has further applications.  Author and counselor John Eldredge posits that we make spiritual agreements ALL THE TIME, sometimes in ways we don’t even realize:

 “How can I be so stupid?!”

 “I’ll never change.”

 “I’m nothing but a mess.”

 And with whom are we agreeing when we say these things?  Certainly not God!  His words over me are more along the lines of:

 “I am a new creation”.

 “I am loved.”

 “I have authority and purpose.”

The challenge comes when I realize that I have a choice: just who will I believe? (Jesus paid dearly so that I could have that choice, BTW.)  When I verbalize choices contrary to what God Himself says about me, I’m inviting spiritual influences in keeping with those decisions.  Because that’s what my words are—decisions.  Decisions to trust what I feel (or what the enemy is saying to me through a feeling) rather than the truth of God.

I can get trapped by that agreement. 

cross-3080144_1920The Good News, however, sets me free, since that’s what the Truth does.  Always.  Sure, I’m responsible for that freedom, but it’s paid for.  Like a good Father, He promised. 

And then signed it in blood.

Proverbs 6:2 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


“My son…”

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments…” – Proverbs 3:1

In order to fully appreciate the first two words of Proverbs 3:1, you need to either be a loving parent or the child of one. I don’t know how else to put it.

But if you are not a parent, or if you have never experienced the love of a caring father, let me see if I can explain the emotion I sense in these opening two words.

I hear begging. I hear pleading. I hear crying.

I can feel the tenseness in the temples. I can feel the tightness in the chest. I can feel the weight on the shoulders that push one down to the floor.

I can feel the pressure put on knees as prayer is being offered up. I can feel the grip on the pen as it’s squeezed mid-sentence, the fingertips turning white as one searches for the right word to pen next.

My son…” It’s an address used 27 times in Proverbs; three times in this very chapter. They are the words of a parent who has been down the road of life, found the potholes, suffered the pain, and longs for nothing less than his children to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Can you put yourself in that position? Imagine knowing the worst that life has to offer: all of the people out there who want nothing more than to destroy your kids, the most precious people in your life, those gifts from God…and you’ve now got one shot to give them the best advice you know.

“My son!” “My daughter!” Do you have children? Do you ever wish you could know just for once that they were really, truly listening to what you are saying? You pray that they will enjoy long life and peace (v. 2), but the odds are they will forget what you tell them, so you say “tie this around your neck” (v. 3).

And yet, we have the Word of God…

…a letter from our Father…

How often we must break His heart!


This Generation

Proverbs 30:11.
“There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.” (KJV).

Today’s Generation of Young People:

There are several different definitions for the word generation: “the entire body of individuals born and living at about the same time; a group of individuals, most of whom are the same approximate age, having similar ideas, problems, attitudes, etc.” I believe that both of these definitions can aptly describe what Agur means by generation in this passage. And I believe that this passage is truer today than has ever been true before:

this generation

There is a generation – an entire body of individuals alive today – who both curse their father and don’t bless their mother. This has almost become the defining characteristic of today’s generation of young people. They are disrespectful – not only to their parents, but also to all forms of authority – government figures, police, teachers, coaches and even pastors. Just turn on the TV and you will be hard-pressed to find a positive program that promotes healthy family values, where the children honour and respect their parents. What a sad commentary on today’s society!

Cursing Instead of Blessing:

When I was younger, there were fewer people who would dare to disrespect their parents – at least not openly and to their faces. Yet today, there is a generation that curses their father. Today, they talk disrespectfully to their dad, and they talk disrespectfully about him behind his back. And not only do they curse their father (and their mother, too), but they also neglect to fulfill their duty to bless their mother (and father) by honouring and obeying them. It’s no wonder our world is in such a mess today!

In the Ten Commandments – God’s Top Ten of rules for living life that He gave His people when He delivered them from slavery in Egypt – one of those top ten rules was about how children were to treat their parents: “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12). These are not the Ten Suggestions or the Ten Options – they are God’s Ten Commandments! We are commanded to honour our parents, whether we feel they deserve our respect or not, and whether we feel like it or not.

But notice that here is the first of the commandments with a promise of blessing: If we honour our parents, we will prolong our life. Quoting this commandment in the New Testament, Paul says that when we honour and obey our parents: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Eph. 6:3). Do you want to be blessed? Do you want things to go well with you? Do you want to live long and prosper? Then refuse to be a part of this generation that curses its father and refuses to bless its mother. Honour and obey your parents in the Lord – for this is right. Amen!


Wise Parenting

Originally published on Dec. 25, 2013

Proverbs 29:17.

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” (KJV).
“Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind.” (NLT). 

Foolish Parenting:

There is an unfortunate parenting model that has emerged in recent days that has proved to be detrimental to the well-being of children. The philosophy says that a parent should become best friends with their child. Included in this idea is the belief that the parent should give their son or daughter the freedom to explore the world around them without any kind of boundaries, rules or restrictions. If you’ll forgive my lack of political correctness here, these are some of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard!

I know of a couple who decided that they wanted to be their kids’ buddies instead of their parents. They literally let their children get away with anything. No rules. No boundaries. No consequences. I watched them with great concern when their children were younger, and at one point, I said to my wife Liza, “If they don’t start disciplining their children, then when they become teenagers, their daughter is going to get pregnant, and both of them are going to end up ruining their lives with drugs and alcohol. Fast-forward several years: Both of these children ended up become sexually promiscuous, the teenage daughter got pregnant multiple times, their son got his girlfriend pregnant, and both of them had issues with drugs and alcohol. And the sad thing is that this story gets repeated over and over again in the lives of many parents and children.

Wise Parenting:

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says that if a parent will correct or discipline their child, the resulting benefit to the parent will be happiness and peace of mind. When my wife and I started having children, we made the decision to parent them according to the principles in the Bible. “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24, NLT).

Because we love our children, we knew we had to parent them, and parenting them included rules and boundaries, discipline and negative consequences for their actions. Today, we have four children ages 11-17, and we are so thankful to the Lord that they are Christ-like, obedient children who are kind, loving and respectful. We don’t worry what our children are going to do when we’re not around because we trust that we have trained them up in the way that they should go, and we know that they won’t depart from it. Does this mean that our children are perfect? Of course not. But they are good, and their mom and I have happiness and peace of mind.

I want to issue this challenge to all of the parents reading this today: Your children don’t need a buddy. They have lots of friends. But they do need a parent. Someone to give them boundaries and guidelines to help them learn to live right. Train them in the way that they should go, and God’s Word promises that when they grow old, they will not depart from it. Amen!

Family Group Hug

From left to right: Austin (13), Tori (15), Caleb (17), my wife Liza, myself, and Hannah (11).


Parents’ Joy

Proverbs 23:24-25

24 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
25 Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.

My Testimony

Today, I begin a new chapter in my theological journey at Phoenix Seminary.

My parents are very proud to see me pursuing ministry for God so diligently and wholeheartedly.

My parents raised me to be respectful. I was also taught to be open-minded yet reasonable.

When I first began attending a local church, they were not enthused. They were worried I might be indoctrinated with bigoted ideas and a judgmental attitude.

Instead, I began to believe what I was taught about the Bible and Jesus of Nazareth. That little Church of the Nazarene congregation helped me see the truth of love and grace and the need of a Lord and Savior.

In less than a year of my believing, of my life being changed, of the Holy Spirit moving through to me to act in wisdom and righteousness, my parents believed in the same Savior.

God the Father sent His Son to die, and then He sent my parents’ son to show them His Son.

It was none of my own righteousness and wisdom that won them over. It was seeing the righteousness and wisdom of the Father – Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit – that drew them to glorify His name!

They found true joy and the true reason to rejoice through me, thanks to our Lord!

A responsible and intelligent child can bring much joy to his or her parents. The greatest joy comes from seeing God manifested in the life of their child, and that is only true if God is manifested in their lives, as well!

Heavenly Father, gracious God, help us to seek You diligently. Live in us and through us that our parents and our children may see Your glory and turn to You. Make our joy complete as Your joy is made complete in us through Your Son.