Tag Archives: parenting

Deadly Lips

Proverbs 5:3-5

“For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”

Still Relevant 

Many question the ability of a 3000 year old text to address the issues of modern life. They wonder how something written so long ago can have any relevance today. Yet, the wisdom of Proverbs came from the same Source that could see all of time in a glance.

The advice Solomon shared with his sons in these verses (and the next three) is as true today as it was back then. The siren song of a temptress can still woo a foolish, gullible man into the depths of hell.

Don’t Be Fooled

Unlike the modern intellectual who insists “perception is reality,” Solomon warns that false perception can kill. In effect he says, “Boys, don’t let a harlot fool you; she’s not what she seems.” In reality, her pucker is poison, and her “sweet nothing’s” a sword.

I’m reminded of the way Indians used to kill wolves. They would repeatedly dip a sharp knife in blood, freezing each layer, until the blade was completely covered. When a wolf smelled the blood it would find the popsicle and lick away. As its tongue became lacerated, its own blood made it lick more, until it bled to death.

In much the same way, a man’s desire for beautiful women is as natural as a wolf’s craving for blood. And because the Enemy knows our weaknesses, he places lipstick-covered blades in our path (and on our computer screens). Only wisdom can discern the danger.

Heed the Warning!

An old country song said, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” Sadly, that’s what many men say when captured by her spell. Translation: “Her lips are sweet; her mouth is smooth; and I will partake of her pleasures all the way to the grave.”

Oh, that men would heed this warning! Oh, that our sons would remember “favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain” (Prov. 31:30). A woman that feareth the Lord is not only worthy of praise, but she probably won’t poison, stab, and waltz you through the gates of hell.

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. For what has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? Isn’t it calamity for the wicked and misfortune for those who do evil? Doesn’t he see everything I do and every step I take?” – Job 31:1-4 NLT

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Wisdom Is Life

Proverbs 4:13

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”

As I finish my degree in Christian Leadership, I am beginning to focus on working toward eventually getting a Masters in Secondary Education for Math. I have had both memories of hearing others (and thinking myself) while in high school “Why do I need to know this?” as well as heard current classmates working toward teaching degrees and students at the elementary school where I work asking the same question.

Come to think of it, as children (and even adults) we ask more than anything:

Why?

Why do I have to do this? Why do I need this? Why is this important? Why should I care?

Asking these questions is not bad, but we should be willing to learn from the answers.

Why?

Because, those answers just might be “thy life.”

Jesus famously said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) so that qualifies Him for authority. We should listen to what He says.

But beyond that …

We want to know as children why, because we want to know how things work. Some of us never grow out of that.

Parents share what they have learned from others and from experience what a child needs to know about how this world works so that they might have a better life, or at the very least that they might be able to live this life.

God the Father wants us to live life.

He sent prophets. He sent His Son. He sent His Church.

God has given us instruction for life, even to the point of coming in person to teach us.

Just as the things we learn as children help prepare us to be adults, the things we learn from God’s word – written, spoken, and lived out – help prepare us for eternity.

As Jesus said:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
John 6:63

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
John 14:21

The only way to eternal life is to believe and follow Jesus’ instructions, His commands. Read your Bible, learn His ways, and put them into practice.

Lord Jesus, give us a passion for your words. Give us ears to hear, minds to understand, wisdom to implement, and the strength to live.


A Special Son

Proverbs 4:3-4

“For I was my father’s son, tender and only [beloved] in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”

“Father’s Son”

The first thing that arrested my attention in these verses was the words “father’s son.”

Why do these words stand out so much? Could it be that Solomon was speaking as if he had been an only child? Could it be that of all the children of King David, the one who turned out well was the one who was treated special?

Solomon was not David’s only son, nor his first. Yet, Solomon grew up differently. Even before he asked for wisdom from God, he was well on the right path, unlike his brothers Absalom and Adonijah. Could it be, because of the mistakes that David had already made, he didn’t want to repeat them with Solomon? Could it be he didn’t want another son hanging from a tree?

“My Mother”

Can you imagine what kind of mother Bathsheba must have become? She evidently was not the kind of queen mother who sent her children away to be cared for by nannies. No, she evidently doted on Solomon. She must have cherished and protected him, for he was “tender” (delicate, weak) in her eyes.

Solomon was not Bathsheba’s only son, either. But if we are to understand Solomon correctly, he was definitely treated in a unique way (“only beloved”).

“And live”

Can you picture Solomon remembering the face of David? His father had already had two sons try to take over his throne, and both had died. Surely he couldn’t foret hearing his father cry, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” – (2 Samuel 18:33).

What kind of pain must have been written in the wrinkles of that broken father’s face? As Solomon remembered, did he try to pass on his wisdom in the same way?

Solomon says, “Let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments, and live.” Was he thinking of his rebellious brothers? Could he see their bodies in his mind’s eye as he looked upon Rehoboam? Oh, if only Rehoboam had listened (See 1 Kings 3).

A Prayer

Oh, God! Am I passing on the wisdom of my godly parents? Do I take my parenting seriously? If the wisest man in the world could mess up as much as he did, what chance do I have of rearing god-fearing children? Lord, my hope is in You. Your Spirit is my strength. Let my children see You in my actions, and where I fail, blind their eyes. Give me a broken heart for my “tender and beloved.”

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Father Knows Best

Proverbs 4:1-2

“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”

Father Knows Best?

Mark Twain may have disagreed with Proverbs 4:1-2. He is widely quoted as having made the following statement:

‘When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.’

Few children willingly listen to a parent. I certainly didn’t, but my generation did not have any choice. Solomon obviously did take note of his father’s instruction and experience. Unlike Solomon, King David did not grow up in the opulent surroundings of a palace. He spent his early years in the fields and on the hills, where the instruction of his own father would have been supplemented by the hands-on experience he describes to Saul prior to his encounter with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-51).

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing that David could have taught Solomon from all his experience was to trust God. Trust/faith in God enabled David to fight bears and lions, to defeat Goliath, to manage Saul and his moods, to survive being on the run from the vengeful Saul, and to become a king who generally exhibited wisdom.

Before he died David again demonstrated great wisdom through the instructions he gave to Solomon from his deathbed (1 Kings 2:1-9). It is interesting that David says to Solomon; “Thou art a wise man.”

Wisdom in Action

The fact that Solomon had learned from David is evident in the words of 1 Kings 3:3: ‘And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father.’ It may have been the wisdom passed on by David that led Solomon to answer in the way that he did when God appeared to him in a dream and asked; “What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!” (1 Kings 3:5 NLT)

Solomon answers God by acknowledging his inadequacy for the task ahead. Instead of putting in an order for fame and wealth, Solomon asks for an understanding heart, i.e. wisdom. It is evident that Solomon had listened intelligently to his father, and that he had already sought to be a man of knowledge and understanding. What an example! I wonder how I would have answered such a question from God when I was Solomon’s age?


Listen and Receive

Proverbs 2:6-9

“For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. 9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.”

Verse six seems to be the continuation of the thought started in the first five verses.

Solomon is saying “if you listen to me and seek the wisdom of God, you will find treasure – treasure that is found in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. But the crucial connection is “incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding.”

Listening

One of the hardest things for a child to do is listen to the widom of an elder. If you are a parent, or play one on T.V., then you know that teenagers are the worst offenders. Believe it or not, teens know everything. They have no desire to listen to instruction, especially if if goes against the grain of their vast experience.

But Solomon wants his son to understand that in order to grow in wisdom and understanding, especially without having to suffer needlessly, he needs to listen. And if he will listen to the Lord, wisdom and understanding will come from “out of his mouth.”

Access Granted

The Hebrew word that is translated in verse 7 as “layeth up” is tsaphan (Strong’s H6845).The idea is of something that is hidden, secret, inaccessible, and guarded. This means that true wisdom from God is not accessable by worldy or fleshly means. It can’t be mined or extracted from the soil of life. It hast to be heard.

An attentive, listening ear is all that is required to gain access to the secret treasures of the Almighty. They can’t be bought. They can’t be bargained for. They come at the expense of time and humilty.

Next Level

Much like the video games children (and too many adults with nothing better to do) play, where each level unlocked provides tools to succeed on the journey to the next, the storehouse of God’s wisdom provides what we need for the journey ahead.

Notice how that when accessed, God provides three things: a buckler (shield), divine protection, and understanding. He watches over our paths and gives us invaluable insight into the working of life. But He also give us a “buckler,” a shield, a piece of armour.

What most young people, and adults, fail to realize is that danger lurks aroung the corner. And no matter how straight God makes our path, He still wants us to bear a shield. His wisdom is a strong defense against the arrows and spears of the enemy.

The Buckler

Interestingly, though, the KJV translators used the the word buckler instead of shield. Why? Maybe it’s because a buckler is more than just a static, defensive piece of armor. A buckler was also a weapon. Bucklers were smaller shields which could be used not only to deflect the enemies blows, but could also be used as a “steel fist.”

Never forget that the same shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) which can “quench the firey darts of the wicked” can also be used to fight back. The tools God gives those who listen to Him will not only protect us, but will enable us to advance.

 

(originally published 4/09/12)


Politically-Incorect Advice

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. – Proverbs 23:13-14

As of this writing, Rahm Emanuel, the soon-to-be-ex Mayor of Chicago and someone with whom I have rarely agreed, is in trouble for saying what needed to be said in the wake of unabated violence, including hundreds of murders:

“This may not be politically correct,” he said, “but I know the power of what faith and family can do. … Our kids need that structure. … I am asking … that we also don’t shy away from a full discussion about the importance of family and faith helping to develop and nurture character, self-respect, a value system and a moral compass that allows kids to know good from bad and right from wrong.”

He added: “If we’re going to solve this … we’ve got to have a real discussion. … Parts of the conversation cannot be off-limits because it’s not politically comfortable. … We are going to discuss issues that have been taboo in years past because they are part of the solution. … We also have a responsibility to help nurture character. It plays a role. Our kids need that moral structure in their lives. And we cannot be scared to have this conversation.” (source: FoxNews.com)

What was so wrong with he said? Oh, I know! It gave the impression that the actions of parents have a lasting effect on children, and children grow up. It took the responsibility off of the government and placed it back on the parents. It didn’t lay all the blame for violence on poverty but suggested that the decay in the family, faith, and morality is at the root of what’s wrong.

In response to the Mayor’s suggestions, a former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, Shari Runner, refused to accept any responsibility on behalf of families. She said, “I cannot see the victims of racist policies and bigoted practices shamed by anyone who says they need to do better or be better in their circumstances. I won’t accept it!”

Well, somebody needs to accept the blame. Who is responsible for rearing one’s children? Who is responsible for applying the rod of discipline to the seat of instruction? Not the government, that’s for sure! And, I’m sorry, folks, but racist policies and bigoted practices are no excuse for immorality, having children out of wedlock, and men with 16 baby mommas.

Folks, the stats don’t lie: “Children from broken homes [are] nine times more likely to commit crimes.” (source: The Telegraph UK)

And when it comes to Proverbs 23:13-14, we need to understand that a lot of grown men and women are on their way to hell and taking others with them all because of delinquent parenting.

It may be politically incorrect, but I’m not running for office – I’m telling you the truth…and so is Rahm Emanuel.


I’ve Become My Dad

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. –Proverbs 22:6, KJV

Too many people understand this verse to be saying, “If you raise your child a certain way, he (or she) will follow that same path forever.”

First, we must remember that proverbs typically are generalized sayings, not prescriptive rules that are always 100% true.

This leads to the second point, that the truth in this passage is more subtle but still believed by most people today.

Maybe you have heard someone (including yourself!) say “I became my mom (or dad)!” Allthis means is that we find ourselves doing what our parents did, sometimes saying when we were younger “I’m never gonna do that!”

Thankfully, though my parents were far from perfect, I can take some pride in saying “I’ve become my dad.” Sometimes it is from doing some mannerism the same way he did. Many times I have stumbled across the wisdom of why he did certain things because I have to do them more regularly.

More often than not, this is what the verse is taking about, passing life’s wisdom on to the next generation.

Are we exactly like our parents in every way?

No. But we learn from them how we might live, which affects what we believe and how we act.

Sadly, it does not mean if we raise children to be Christains they will remain so. But I do have friends who have left the church, but they believe that Christian morality is good.

In this sense, they have “not depart[ed] from it.”

Remember, we are not responsible for the salvation of others, merely for guiding them to truth and godly living.