You are Reading it Wrong

So amazing to see one translation actually get this right. Years ago I came across a book about Old Testament textual issues and this verse came up for discussion. For centuries we have understood it to mean that a child, properly disciplined, will stay a disciplined person for as long as he lives. But that isn’t what the Hebrew says. Rather, it is better translated as the above. Once a child finds his way, he will never depart from it. His way is his path of life, his habits and behaviors that define who he is. We also call this his “bent”. A strong-willed child will be strong-willed into adulthood. A passive child the same. There is confidence and danger both here. Once you discover your child’s way, you have to learn how to work with it, and help him discover God given his personality set. Strong-willed children can’t be told. They must discover. Passive child must be told, but also encouraged, and so on.

God did not make us all the same (do you hear that public schools?). We were not all designed to sit behind a desk and learn something by lecture. Some of us learn better with our hands, with our eyes, even with our feet. And it is hard to watch them grow, learn, and make mistakes. But they must make mistakes to learn. And we must let them. We cannot and should not help the butterfly out of the cocoon. It take time to mold a life into its adult form. We must give it even freedom to do so.

If you are a parent, consider what kind of child you have. If he needs to explore, give him space. Correct him when necessary. Be clear about the rules and where the guardrails to his exploration are. But always encourage him. Discipline is about sharpening the edge, that learning from the past is effective lesson for the future. If you are a mom, then I doubly commend you this week, for you have labored to bring this life into the world, both to birth him and/ or to raise him. For Dads, I would also commend you, for you are the one necessary to bring this child into adulthood, to teach him the ways of the world, but to also understand how his way works and interacts with the world. Be gentle but firm. Be loving but willing to be hard when necessary. You both are his first and best teachers.

God bless you both today.


As for me and my house

I don’t know how much pull you have in your house, but in my family I am the head of household, at least until someone disagrees with me. 😁 I’ve been in ministry now for 25 years, and generally decisions about church have been settled simply by where I was preaching at the time. Here lately, we’ve been going where my wife feels more comfortable going since I’ve been out of the pulpit. It’s been an adjustment, but one that I am making because she has enjoyed church and worship far more than ever I’ve seen her. I love her and I love seeing her happy. The church preaches the Bible and really that’s what we need.

It is not a hard choice making Jesus Lord. It’s just hard to follow through. Becoming a Christian is easy. Growing as a Christian is hard. Being a Christian father of a home is even more challenging. Every one of us makes an independent choice and following Christ is supposed to be one of free will. Being a father who leads his family, especially with children who makes their own choices, requires both talking the talk and walking the walk. Kids see you when you are weak. They see you when you are in crisis. In other words, they see dad when he’s not in church.

I want to encourage you today, especially if you are a parent, to make the hard choices. You have a Father to look up to and Jesus to follow when you don’t know what to do. Your kids are looking to you, watching you when you face challenges and difficulties. Don’t give up. God has not given up on you.

My prayers be with you today. God bless.

The Gospel of Entertainment and the Exodus of the Next Generation

The Gospel of Entertainment and the Exodus of the Next Generation

The Gospel of Entertainment and the Exodus of the Next Generation
— Read on

I want to share this because I have seen this happen over and again. Kids need the same thing adults do: community! If we neglect that part, we cannot keep them with anything else. Also, when they go off to college, as we do often encourage them, they leave all the things that help them in their behavior and have to find all new things. This may swerve into the “do they really need college” discussion, but such a transition can be jarring if not detrimental to our youth development.

Tangled Webs

“What a tangled web we weave . . .”

Children are a blessing from God, in their proper context. “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5a) Especially grandchildren, for “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” (Proverbs 17:6) Now that the Mrs. and I are expecting our fourth child, I see the worth of this little passage. Our prayer is that the next one, a boy if the SONAR is right, is born healthy like his brother and sisters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I thought kids were to follow marriage, not precede it. (I can hear you thinking, “here he goes again”) Now if anyone is keeping track, no one yet has taken me up on my offer to marry for free. Although, I have heard rumors that I’ve been pretty mean to unmarried couples. I’ll admit, my bark is worse than my bite. But have you stopped to consider that maybe we’ve been too easy on these kids having kids?

That’s really the shame of our permissive society, when the words “I’m pregnant” are not given in joy, but as a threat. When are children a threat? When free-living and irresponsibility comes to a screeching halt. Children are the end of fun, the end of happy-go-lucky. They are the beginning of responsibility: midnight feedings, trips to the doctor and the teacher, more groceries, more bills, more heartache when they stray.

We’ve already had three, so it’s not like we don’t know what to expect. Babies cry, smell, spit-up, and my personal favorite, the single-most eye-opening sound they make, bleegch! I have been sound asleep, but when the little one makes the “Bleegch” sound in the middle of the night, I have been known to instantly spring into action. I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but having upset stomach spill out over the sheets wakes you up faster than a pot of coffee.

The adults who spawn a child have to make hard choices. It used to be when the girl got pregnant the man responsible was obligated to marry her, so that that child would grow up in a two-parent family. Sometimes I long for those days, for those and for the days when a man established himself, by getting a job and a house, before he proposed to his fiancé. These are standards people used to grow up with, because then, the focus was on stability, security, and having a strong family for a strong nation. Nowadays, kids are often passed off to grandma, or to friends, so that the fun and the parties and the sex never stops. Shame on anyone who treats his child like yesterday’s newspaper. And the Bible warns that that kind of attitude will come back to you ten-fold. A child who is rejected by his parents can’t cope with it. They seek anyone who will listen to them, and often find the wrong friends. End result? They become more foolish than their parents. And this is where the real heartache begins. The Bible says:

“To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool. . . . A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.” (Proverbs 17:21, 25)

“A foolish son is his father’s ruin.” (Proverbs 19:13)

“Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18)

This proverb is a reply in a way to God’s Law – “Anyone who curses his father and mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.” (Leviticus 20:9) It may sound harsh, but God knows that the stability of any society relies wholly on the ability of parents to teach their children respect for their authority, and thus for all authorities. Any child who curses his father or mother will be a threat to the whole, and must be dealt with severely, as both example and as prevention. Children may seem like an inconvenience now, but someday they will be a doctor, or a lawyer, making policy and law while you are sick, old, and frail. Is it any wonder that the current generation in power is considering euthanasia as a possible way to “dispose” of the elderly? Where do you suppose that attitude came from? From the parents who were too busy to play with their kids because they had to make all the money to buy the big house and fancy car. They “disposed” of their kids with the Daycare, or somesuch. Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it? If your kids are a “burden” to you, just remember, someday they will make the decision whether or not to pull the plug. Someday they will be president, or they will be making the car you drive. Do you want to drive a car built by a kid who has no respect for his boss?

Children are the wealth of a home, and the Bible clearly teaches this. A man with many children can count himself blessed. We are breaking down our society with every child born out of wedlock. God bless those men and women who marry into families with children and make it work. We witness the destruction of our nation when children don’t know who their fathers are. For what ties do they have to the past, to patriotism, to anything, if they have no ties to their own fathers? Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

If you know a young man or young woman who is lost, without a father or a mother, then can I ask you to step in and take some responsibility for that child? Your future depends on them, whether they are yours or not. They need you, because they need a godly man or woman to show them what God is like. Consider it a mission to bring that person to the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Christ, but be the living example for them too. Show them the love that they are desperate for.

The Present Crisis

Not to be alarmist or anything, but we do have a crisis of family in our community. This is the gift of modern “civilization.” Let me tell you what I see. Because I am sure you see it too. Everyday, after school, kids get off of the bus. Perfectly normal, yes. But where do those kids go? Do they go home? Some do. Some stay out, go down to the park, to friends’ houses, or they simply roam the streets, looking for something to do. Where are the parents? Not at home. They are working. They are out, often with no option but to leave their kids to fend for themselves. These kids, roaming unsupervised, are allowed to do anything they want, to go through backyards, church lots, and responsible to no one. Will there be any discipline of these kids? Not if the parents are too tired to give it.

Is this the parents’ fault? Not entirely. Many of these are single parents, who must work these long hours to support the household, to pay the bills, to make ends meet. Why are they single? They are single because a husband, a wife, a boyfriend, or even a girlfriend have walked out and abandoned them because. Life with them was too “difficult” too “stressful” and “they just couldn’t take it anymore.” Everyone has heard these words at one time or another. But somehow some couples manage to stick it out, while others fall apart.

The reasons for this abandonment are legion. When all is said and done, we have single parents trying to help their families survive with what Minimum Wage is willing to pay them. It’s not that these parents don’t care, it’s that they have no energy left-over to care. What energy they do have is making supper, ordering the kids to be quiet, and off to bed. I’m a parent. I know how much energy is required, even demanded to “raise up a child in the way he should go.” A single parent doesn’t have anyone to talk to. They have no one to lean back on. So, yes, many will take up the next boyfriend or girlfriend willing to give him or her an ounce of concern. We have adults in our community so starved for affection that they will take up with anybody, settle for anyone to give them that affection. Have they lost their senses? No.

As adults, we are hungry, and this is the necessary stuff of life that we need. Marriage was designed by God to fill that niche, to satisfy that need for intimacy and affection in a healthy and loving relationship with someone of the opposite sex. When marriage ends in divorce, when marriage is avoided altogether, parents suffer, and children, just as we see it today, roam the streets looking for affection, attention, from anybody. This is the reason for nearly every problem we have in our community. The Breakdown of the Family. If our families don’t function, our community doesn’t function.

Is there hope?

I believe so, or I wouldn’t be in the ministry that I’m in. Obviously, the correct Sunday School answer is Jesus. But what does that mean for hurting families? That means a community of faith like the church that will reach out and will embrace these hurting parents, will support them and strengthen them. That will give them hope for tomorrow through our Savior Jesus Christ. That means reaching out to the kids of your community and giving them guidance, leadership through the rocky years of adolescence and beyond. It will require the members of your community that are Christian to reach out to the families that aren’t. And that begins with you.

In order to avert this crisis, we’ve got to begin where we can do the most good for the moment, at home.