The Blessings of Proverbs

Our adult children share the benefits of being taught Proverbs…

In my last blog post, I shared the importance of sharing the book of Proverbs with your children.  I recounted how my husband had read through and discussed Proverbs with each of our four children.  He met with them individually one month each year until he or she graduated from High school.  This began after each had become a Christian, so Proverbs was read 8-12 years depending upon their age of salvation.  We found this to be a very fruitful study for them and began to see the Word really take root in their daily lives.

Our four children are all now grown and married with children of their own.  I posed this question to them recently.  “How did reading Proverbs with your Dad over the years affect your lives?” I now will share each of their responses to this question in their own words…

Our oldest, Billy, replied in this way. “It showed me what Godly discipline looked like in watching Dad’s consistency as he read Proverbs every January for years. It revealed Dad’s desire for me to read the Word and apply it to my life. It helped me in my achieved goal of saving myself until marriage for my wife.  And it showed me the need for Godly wisdom in my day to day life.”

Our second son, Timothy, shared these thoughts. “Reading Proverbs so often with Dad was very helpful through my life in teaching me about making wise decisions in every aspect of my life, whether in choosing my friends or my wife and just choices in life in general. It showed me the importance in seeking wisdom from the Lord more than worldly thought or things. Erin, my wife, and I are going through Proverbs right now and I will definitely read it with my four sons as they become older.”

Katy, our oldest daughter, responded this way. ” Proverbs is still my favorite book of the Bible.  I liked being able to ask Daddy questions as we read through the chapters.  That helped me understand it better.  I still often read my Proverb for the day and I will definitely read it with my children.”

Kristen, our youngest, share these thoughts.  “I appreciate it now as an adult that Dad took the time to go through the Word with us consistently each year.  I knew it was coming and that it was important, though I often did not appreciate it as a kid. (Dad was consistent in telling proverbial jokes too. (ex.- the leach has 2 daughters, crying give, give). These times of reading Proverbs helped me come to an understanding of the importance of having wisdom and knowledge in my life as the greater concept. I saw Dad’s spiritual leadership in our family.  He took time to do this . It was a great example to me of a Godly father who wanted to expose me to God’s Word. And it was also a picture that helped me see what kind of husband and father to my children that I would want.”

So whether it is Proverbs or any of the Bible…. teach your children the Word of God and it will not return void but bring fruit when they are old….

A Wise Woman

Wisdom is life to my inner self…   Wisdom is  a gracious ornament to my outer self…

Our world today does not put much store in wisdom.  Knowledge, education, power, success, prestige and independence are some  of the qualities today’s woman pursues. But, I say above all these pursue wisdom.  The book of Proverbs is filled with  instructions and lessons of wisdom.  We do well to read its’ words, soak in its’ truth and give life application to it. Join me as we look at just one chapter in the book of wisdom.  We will see the many blessings of being a wise woman. Look with me now in Proverbs 3.

Personalize these words to your own heart, as you hear your Father speak them to you. “My daughter… forget not my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.” (verse 1) AND THE BLESSINGS WILL BE; “My days and years will be worth living. Inward and outward tranquility will continue through old age.” (verse 2)    “I will find favor, good understanding and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” (verse 4) “It will be health to me physically.” (verse 8)

“Happy (blessed) is the woman who finds skillful and Godly wisdom.  She gets understanding as she draws it forth from God’s Word and life experiences.” (verse 13) “Her ways are highways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.” (verse 17) “She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her.  Blessed is everyone who holds her fast.” (verse 18)

Wisdom is life to my inward self. Wisdom is a gracious ornament to my outer self.” (verse 22) “(In wisdom) I will walk my way securely and in confident truth and not stumble.” (verse 23) “The Lord shall be my confidence, firm, and strong and keeps me from being caught in a trap.” (verse 26) “I will not be afraid when storms come.” (verse 25)

” God’s very own confidential communion and sweet counsel are with those who are upright and right standing with Him.” (verse 32)  “He declares our home joyful and favored with blessings.”  (verse 33) So… why don’t we pursue wisdom if all these blessings can be ours as a result of apprehending it?  Proverbs 3 also includes our problems in the pursuit of wisdom.  I “lean on my own understanding instead of acknowledging Him and letting Him direct  me”. (verse 5-6)      I am often “wise in my own eyes.” (verse 7) and  “I forget God’s law.” (verse 1)

In order for these problems to not keep me from becoming a wise woman, I must hold….”Godly wisdom as more precious than rubies and nothing I can wish for can compare with Her.” (verse 15)

Question:  Do you value God’s wisdom like this? Is wisdom more important than that new dress, piece of jewelry, or new home?  Do you shop for and seek wisdom more than anything else?

As we read Proverbs, we find not only wise sayings, but we also come to see Jesus in it’s pages, for He is Wisdom personified.  His Life in us gives us the grace, the power, and the strength to become a wise woman. “And a woman who is wise inherits glory.” (verse 35)

My January Memoir

Life is in the eternal, in the plans and mercies of God to lead us in those plans.

The past days, as I have cleaned out clutter, reorganized spaces, and rid myself of the seldom used things; I find these hours are much more than utilitarian.  I love January.  I love fresh starts and new beginnings.  I actually love to clean out what has become rubbish and organize my stuff for easy access and streamlined appearances. Call me crazy, but these tasks give me a great deal of pleasure.

Memories flit through my mind as I clean out the “boy’s room”. These boys are now in their 30’s.  A photo, a book, a card takes me to a former time when they ran around my knees, climbed into my lap and generated fun chaos in my now quiet home.  As I perform these practical tasks, my heart moves to the spiritual lessons amidst these activities.  I believe God speaks to us often during our days and we in turn can converse with HIM. (What  a privilege to share thoughts with the Creator of this universe, Who is my Father!)

The first of these lessons is the one of thankfulness that comes forth as I glean the blessings of those days.  I am thankful for who these young men are today and that they were loaned to me to train and love.  I am also reminded that life is not in our stuff. As I discard different items, I hold on to the memories associated with them and store them in my heart. Life is in the eternal, in the plans and mercies of God to lead us in those plans.  Did I always know what I was doing as a young mom? No!  Did I do it all right?  NO!  But nevertheless, God used me in those places during those days to teach and develop my sons, (and also me) to become the people He intended us to be.  He was in control all the while and I never was.  Yes, I did have responsibility to help clear out the rubble, to bring some order and discipline to their lives as I now bring to their former room.  But all along God was in control and now at my stage of life, I see His hand and heart guiding me all through  those days.

I pull aside some of the toys, (30 year old Stars Wars figures), books (Hardy Boys and a picture Bible) and a steel drum from a long ago trip.  I will give these to their sons to play with and am reminded that along with these retro toys I can share with this next generation of boys the truth I shared with their dads.  God reaches down through the generations with the same Truth.  May I take time to share these important things with this next set of boys. May I not attempt to “win them over ” with stuff, but invest my love and time and prayers to contribute to their growth spiritually… to invest in the eternal.

So clean out that attic, organize those kitchen cabinets, but search for your own lessons.  Let God speak the miraculous among the mundane.  Listen with a heart of praise and gratitude to a Father who has redeemed you from the chaos and rubble of sin to give you abundant life,  joy unspeakable and His very own peace.  Allow Him to clear and clean out the attics of your wrong thinking, the closets of your fears, and the cabinets of your worries and settle down and abide in the clean, orderly, home of His Heart…

A Wise Woman Builds

Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with he own hands.

Proverbs 14:1 tells us … “Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with he own hands.”

We wives and mothers have great power. We play a major part in building our homes.  The question that we must ask ourselves very honestly is, “Do I build up or do I tear down?”

I build up or I tear down with my words.

I build up or I tear down with my attitude.

I build up or I tear down with my actions.

I hold the ability to set the daily tone for my home.  The saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” is often truer than we would want to believe. How do I send my husband off to work each day? How do I greet my children as they wake up or as they return home? Is the tone of my home one of peace (though it may not be quiet)? Is there tension and strife cutting through the air? Is it an atmosphere of laughter rather than complaining?  Are kind words heard more than whining (maybe even my whining)?

If your first thoughts after reading this is …” This is just too much responsibility. I am not perfect! I am not going to get it right all the time… I know that I often tear down rather than build up”. Well, I agree. But you know, this verse begins with words of hope and the answer to our dilemma. It begins with …every wise woman.. We can build our homes when we are being wise women. Jesus is Wisdom personified, and when He dwells within us we can have His wisdom because we have HIM. His WORD (the Bible) gives wise instruction in every page and as His Holy Spirit teaches us and empowers the application of His Word to my every day life, I can become that wise woman who builds her home and thus blesses all who live there.

I do not want splinters in my hands or splinters in the hearts around me. I do not want to tear down my home  with my own hands. I do not want to be a foolish woman.  Lord, teach me to be a wise woman so I may build in my home, Your Kingdom. May my home speak of Jesus and bring You Glory…

 

Farsighted Vision in Parenting

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This verse may be familiar to you.  Each part of it could be looked into at length. What does it mean to train?  What is the way he should go?  How old is old?  Today I want us to look at the phrase; “even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  As we look into this verse I want to encourage you as a parent to have long-range plans for your child, to have far sighted vision rather than nearsighted vision. Keep in mind who you want your child to look like when he is 30 years old.  What character do you want him to have then.

This farsighted view will affect how you parent day to day while your child is still young.  If you want him to look more like Christ than the world when he is older, your emphasis in parenting will take on a different mind set.  As parents and families we are in the world, but are not to be of the world.  As we train our child, we are to constantly  be guided by God’s Word and His Holy Spirit.  He knows our child much better than we do.

There are so many activities to be involved in; sports, music, school, church, clubs. The list is long.  It is good for your child to be involved in a variety of activities, though not so hurried that there is no balance in his life or the life of your family.  Nearsighted vision or short term goals tend to be ones for the next few years. Some may be that your child is a good student, a winning athlete, or an accomplished musician.  These goals sound good but in and of themselves they can become idols in yours and your child’s hearts.

God tells us that whatsoever we do, do it for the glory of God.  All the activities are to be vehicles for life lessons to travel on.  Training comes in the midst of life’s daily activities.  For example, sports is not just about winning, but about discipline, teamwork, losing with grace, not quitting, patience in sitting on the bench, and encouraging others.  God’s Word can be applied over and over to bring out the Godly good, those eternal qualities. And when this is not happening and the activity is more important that the lessons in it, then it will be time to lay it down.

So look further down the road.  What are you building now in your child that will form in him the character of Christ when he is 30 or 40 years old. Is your focus on straight A’s or study skills? Is it on winning at all cost or being an team player?  Very few become star athletes or the top student, but what pleases our Lord is a woman or man with a heart to love and serve Him.  What is your focus???? Keep it sharply in view daily…..

Teach Your Children Well

    In Deuteronomy 6:5-11, you will find what you are to teach your children, how you are to teach your children and when you are to teach them.  The instruction is clear and worthy of note ….

    Verse 5 of this passage tells us what you are to teach. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your (mind and ) heart and with your entire being, and all your might.” If your children come to love God like this, all the important things of life will follow and fall into place.  Everything you teach should line up and agree with this command in some way. For example, as you teach them not to love themselves nor their possessions more than God or as you teach them about gratitude, respect, authority, and kindness, you teach what it means to love God most.

    How do you teach this critical truth? As verse 6 says, “And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be (first) in your own minds and hearts (then…)”  If  you do not love God like this or are not growing in this kind of love for God, you cannot teach this to your children.  You must nourish your own soul with His Word, trusting Him, to continually teach you, so you may teach them.  Then verse 7 tells you to teach in such a way that the words penetrate the minds and hearts of your children. It also instructs you to teach with much diligence in order that it makes a lasting impression upon your children.  It will take work, time, and thought but it is a work that will be blessed.  To sharpen means to use creative methods that are age appropriate.  Study your child and discover the best methods of communicating Truth to him. This can be both fun and applicable.

   The second part of verse 7 tells us the when… ” and 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 up.” I love this verse and the “as you go through life” instruction. This also means that you must be present with your children, not just in the same room, but that you are intentional about seeking teaching opportunities. It can take place in structured situations, but more often then not, these times will takes place in unstructured ways, as you live life. Put them to bed with love, prayer and Truth and awaken them in the same way.

    Verses 8-9 tells us that you should remind them and yourself often of the need of God and His Word.  As these verses say, that may mean writing it on notes that go into school lunch boxes or on their bathroom mirrors of framed throughout your home.  This is reinforcement of what you are already are teaching.

    The blessings of teaching these verses are shared in verses 10-11. God will bring us into His land (or Kingdom) and give us safe places (in our hearts) to live.  You will have spiritual blessings of good things. (wisdom, faith, fruit).  You will gain these blessings, not because you earned them but only because of God’s great grace and goodness. So as you go, teach your children what is close to the heart of God.  Trust God and He will show you how to obey this very important scripture.  Make it of utmost priority, for this will be time well spent in your busy lives that will count for eternity.  What can be more important?   So teach your children well!