Letting your Children Fail

What is the dumbest thing my children have done? Well, I think of my daughters and there are significantly fewer dumb things that have been attempted when compared to my two boys.  Paul and Gabe.  Paul is four years old and quite the kid.  He loves to punch everything.  He still punches things, but he slowed down after he punched his wood bed and hurt his hand.   Then there is Gabe.  Gabe is two years old and into everything.  He especially likes to climb into small spaces.  The other day I found him in the pots and pan cupboard eating fudge with his dirty diaper in moms biggest pot.  Some things a parent just has to shake their head.  

I have begun writing this blog with the topics that come out in the book of Proverbs.  Today’s topic is a tough pill to swallow.  If you are wondering, I am referring to Proverbs 1:20-33.  It is necessary that we remember that the first section of Proverbs is written from father to son with the intentions that his boy will grow up to conduct himself wisely and verse 8 puts in the importance of listing to your mother’s wisdom.   When reading verses 20-22, I just have to smile.  Within these verses, I reflect at all the times my wife has instructed my children by using both their first, middle, and last names.  “Paul Thomas Ramsdell, you get your finger out of the light socket this instant!” Or, “Gabriel Leonard Ramsdell, you get off the counters right now!”  Now I am going to write these three verses out, but I am going to substitute my wife’s name into the verses.  Picture a mother talking to her two young boys.  

(20) Wisdom (Brittany) crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets (don’t run across the street): (21) She (Brittany) crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she (Brittany) uttereth her words, saying, (22) How long, ye simple ones (boys), will ye love simplicity? and scorners (Paul) delight in your scorning, and fools (Paul again) hate knowledge?

I write these verses out because this is what every mother does, and this is how every child acts.  I do not know of a single mother that wants their children to fail, but we have to face the facts here…  when children are young, they do some pretty dumb things and it is difficult to get them to keep anything between their two ears.   

            Talking a look at the rest of the passage, you will read some pretty harsh language as wisdom speaks to the simple, scorner, and fool. Once again, these passages are rich when you picture them from mother to children.  

(23) Turn (reject my wisdom)you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.  (At this point I am picturing Brittany saying, “Let me make myself clear.”) (24) Because I (Brittany)have called and ye (boys)refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof (you kids just won’t listen): (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh (don’t come crying to me)….

            The other day my wife was in her bedroom putting some laundry away and Paul and Gabe were out here in the dining room playing while Laiyla was doing her homework at the desk.  This is when Gabe decided to crawl up onto the table after being told not to over 1,999 times.  Paul thought it would be a good idea to give Gabe his toy John Deere Rideable Lawnmower.  Gabe gladly accepted the challenge and got on.  He rode the lawn mower to the edge of the table and went right off the edge only to crash and smash his face directly onto the floor.  Brittany heard the crash and ran out of the bedroom to see what had happened.  The first words out of her mouth were, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity…” not really.  That phrase actually translated to, “What in the world were you thinking?”  Brittany then cleaned Gabe’s bloody nose and held him till he stopped crying.  

            Having children is difficult at times.  As they grow, our methods as parents must also change. We must continue instructing them in everything with the intentions that our children will be wise when they move out of the house.  As our children continue to grow, their idiotic behavior will change into more complex idiocy. The difficult part is letting our children fall and get up on their own.  I would even venture to say that this part of parenting is the most heartbreaking.  I wonder how many parents have watched their children fail and let them dig themselves out? The situations are endless.  

            The remainder of this passage has to do with failure in life as wisdom steps away and allows them to learn through the hard lessons of life instead of  a mother’s instruction.  

(28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.  (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 

If we look the hard lessons of life in this passage, here are a couple paraphrases… “Then shall my boys call me to help pay rent, but I will not answer.” Or “My boys will come home with kind words to say in hopes I can bail them out of a situation, but they will find no help from me.”  Why? “Because they hated the knowledge that I tried to teach them and they did not choose to fear the LORD.”  

Each child has the opportunity to listen, learn, and become wise.  Through listening, children can learn how to live on their own when they move out. However, if they do not take the instruction of their parents, they will end up learning a lot of hard lessons. Just know, as a parent, there are times when the best thing to do is to let your children fail.  This may be the only way they learn to heed your counsel. 

Just to let you know, we still have to tell Gabe to stay off the table.  

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Son, Don’t Touch the Stove!!!

It was a few years ago now when my son snuck up behind my wife and touched the burner on the stove. It was quite the day… Here is how it went. 

            I was driving truck at the time and I would leave my home between 2 or 3AM.  This particular day I forgot my phone at home.  My wife Brittany had tried to get ahold of me, but it was to no avail.  She was at home with our four children and babysitting her friend’s child.  This particular day, she decided that she was going to do some baking and make all sorts of sweet things that are good for the soul.  You must understand when my wife bakes or uses the stove, it is a known rule within our household that the children stay out of the kitchen.  If our children want any sort of goodness that bursts with flavor within their mouths, they must stay out of the kitchen. 

            It was now approaching 1pm and my son Paul, who was two at the time, wanted to know what mommy was about in the kitchen. Brittany uses a step stool to search for those, hard to reach, chocolate chips in the cupboards.  This stool just so happened to be next to the stove. When Brittany turned around to bring the mixing pan to the sink, Paul saw his moment of opportunity.  He snuck behind her, climbed up on the stool, and put his hand palm down, directly on the burner of the stove.  This action was directly followed with a blood curdeling scream from Paul. Brittany turned around and saw what our son had just done.  Immediately, she called me.  My phone rang in our bedroom.  Calmly she began to get the children ready to bring Paul to the Emergency Room.  All the while, she knew she could not fit all the children into the vehicle, but she had to work toward something to keep her sanity.  That is the moment I backed in with my truck.  I walked into the house and Brittany said, “you need to take Paul to the Emergency Room because he put his hand on the stove.” Now, Brittany and I are under the conviction that all emergencies should be handled with calm lest we bring our children to panic, so I calmly went over to Paul and looked at his hand.  By this time his palm was one big blister.   I picked him up, put him in the truck, and brought him to the Emergency room.  Once I left, that is when my wife lost her composure and began to weep.  

            Today.  Today as I read in the first chapter in Proverbs, I am reading about the instruction given to a son by his mother and father.  The complete first portion of Proverbs is for the purpose of the parents instructing their children to do that which is right.  I am reading from vs. 8 through vs. 19.  I have always been confused as to why Solomon begins with such an obvious passage.  Solomon begins by instructing his child to stay away from the people that lay in wait to steal from others.  Solomon instructs his child to stay away from the people that are willing to kill for treasure.  I have always wondered why Solomon would begin with such an obvious instruction. Of course, we should instruct our children to stay away from those people that are willing to shed blood to get rich. Of course, we should.  This is so obvious!!  Then I think of my son Paul.  He was instructed to stay away from the stove on multiple occasions, but this did not prevent him from burning his hand.  

            Parents, there are certain, obvious truths that we should be instructing our children.  You may think that your children understand these truths, but we should be diligent in these areas.  I fear that we are losing our children to this obvious truth in Proverbs, but how is this happening?  We don’t want our children to steal from stores.  We don’t want our children to become violent.  We want our children to be good and grow up to be respectable. We do our diligence by using the word “NO.”  We do our diligence by telling them to put that candy back in the box.  We do our diligence.  Right?  Where are we failing?  Immediately I see three modes of failure in this area that lead our children to do dumb things that cause life-long scars. The first area is music.  We tell our children what is right, but we listen to music that praises violence, drugs, sex, rape, and murder.  We instruct our children while we listen to this filth on the radio.  I wonder how many children think their parents are hypocritical in this area?  The second area is movies.  How many parents tell our children that they should not steal while watching movies like, “Gone in 60 seconds,” or “Oceans 11.”  We tell them one thing glorifying it on our television in our living room.  The third area, and I believe this to be the most damaging, is video games.  I recently watched a four-year-old child virtually walking around on his mother’s phone killing people.  I listen to children as they praise video games such as “Grand Theft Auto” or “Mafia.”  How many parents have fooled themselves into thinking they have done their due diligence in training their children, while allowing them to be entertained by the same sins they are warning them against?  

            Proverbs 1 seems obvious when Solomon instructs his children to stay away from people that are willing to shed blood for wealth.  It seems obvious to us, but each generation must learn for themselves that the stove is hot.  How many children are going sneak out with their friends and find themselves in a life altering situation?  How many children are going to be introduced to our local Law Enforcement as we explain to the officer that we have taught our children better.  I wonder how many children will think they are taking the moral high ground when they commit suicide after watching a movie like “Seven Pounds.”  

            Parents, teaching our children goes beyond verbal instruction.  Teaching our children includes what we watch, what we do, who we hang out with, and what we listen to.  Our children learn by example, so teach them by example.  

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Thank you for the Snow

WINTER.  This word may mean something different to each reader.  If you live in the tropics, winter may bring to mind rain and storms; if you live in the desert, winter may bring to mind colder nights and hot days; but if you live where I live, you will think of snow, slush, and cold.  I was recently admiring the sidewalks at our church.  Not so much the sidewalks, but the snow piles on the edges.  In places, they are more than 2 ½ feet or 76cm.  Then there are areas that go well above that unit of measurement.  Yesterday I was watching the news.  In North Dakota there were areas of highway that were shut down due to the snow.  The Deputy that was speaking was out on a scene where they were pulling cars out of the massive drifts of snow.  He mentioned that the snow, in places on the road, was up to 4 feet or 1.2 meters.  WINTER.

            What exactly is snow?  Snow is a piece of light frozen water gracefully drifting down from the heavens to land on your cheek, only to melt from your body heat. One snow flake is so miniscule when you compare it to the scope of the world, but when that one snow flake turns into two, and then into three.  The snowflakes keep adding up, and before you know it you are outside with a shovel keeping a pathway clear to your vehicle.  When the snow continues to fall (one flake at a time), things begin to slow down. Drivers reduce their speed due to too much snow or not enough visibility, schools run late or are completely shut down for the day, and so many people get stuck on the road, in their driveways, or perhaps they can’t even get to their vehicle.  When the weather warms up and we can finally go outside without getting frostbite, the snow melts and creates slush.  The freezing temperatures at night will turn that slush into ice and once again, people are stuck.  People are forced to slow down their busy life and communicate with each other within their homes.  SNOW.  

            Such is life. As the struggles of life come down and melt upon our skin they seem so small in unimportant.  Then, one problem leads to two, and two problems lead to three, and before you know it you are stuck in your life without a clue as what to do.  

            I am going to lay out many of the things that have happened to my wife and I since we had left Oklahoma to move to the frozen tundra.  Now, mind that I am not complaining, for this will all be concluded in the end.  

  1. Brittany was all lined up for a job upon our arrival in MN.  Once we were on the road with everything we own packed and in the semi, Brittany received a phone call stating that she no longer had a job… One snowflake. 
  2. We owned a house (with good renters), so we kept the renters to pay the mortgage and we lived with our parents.  The in-laws for a period of time and then my parents for a period of time…  Two snowflakes.  
  3. Once we moved into our home and work was established, everything in the house began to go haywire.  The stove died, the dishwasher died, the microwave died, the washing machine died, and in the midst of refinancing we were told we needed new shingles… Shoveling
  4. The roof is complete.  We get a storm with high winds and it blows a tree onto our house… New roof again… Shoveling again.  
  5. Driving out to my parents place to go deer hunting and put food in my freezer, I get broadsided by another vehicle in the middle of the intersection… Snow is beginning to pile up.  
  6. We go to sell our house after a remodel and our house floods… new flooring, new sheetrock… Snow is still piling up. 
  7. Remodeled a second time and a storm comes and blows a tree down to land on the realtors sign… Looking out the window wondering how much snow we will get.  
  8. House sells and things begin to warm up… relief and slush.  
  9. We (family of 7) are living… again… with parents…  Another snowfall begins.  
  10. All our possessions have been in storage for 2 years… Multiple mild snowfalls. 
  11. A family in our church allows us to stay in their cabin for the winter… Warm weather and slush. 
  12. We are able to secure a two bedroom (900 square feet) rental…  Continues to warm up.  
  13. My daughter loses all mobility in her right arm due to a rare disease…  Instant freeze.

I have decided to stop the list at thirteen because it is a good lucky number to stop at.  In all reality, this list of snow could be more than doubled with some things much worse. You would then realize we needed to be plowed out.  

             Life has hit us hard, but God.  I love the word “but”.  This word is a word that cancels everything that is placed before it.  In this sentence, “Life has hit us hard, but God”, you can see that the beginning is canceled out because of God.  Through everything God has been good.  In the midst of all the snow landing on us, we have not missed a single payment ,nor have our children gone hungry.  My wife and I, through the midst of the winter, have grown closer together and our relationship with the Lord has become increasingly sacred.  Aristotle said, “Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.”  In the midst of our pain, my wife and I have learned how to be a family and how to grow our relationship with the Lord.  We have learned that pain is not evil.  Pain only warns us of the evil and causes us to call upon God.  My wife and I have learned, through all the pain, that we need God and that God is in control.  The Great Physician has applied the balm of Gilead. Through everything we have become stronger.  James 1:4 comes to mind, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  I have a love/hate relationship with this verse, for in order to need patience you must be suffering in some aspect.  There must be something that is happening in life where you need to wait upon God.  However, the most difficult part of patience is that it requires you to keep God’s commandments.  If I get frustrated in the midst of my suffering and punch a door (which I did), I am not practicing patience.  If I get upset with God and cry out “WHY” in anger (which I did), I am not practicing patience.  If my suffering leads to any sin whatsoever, I am not practicing patience.  Patience requires me to put my full trust in God and rely upon Him through everything.  As we began to go through all these life circumstances, there was a rollercoaster of emotions.  It began with humor (what could happen next?), that led to frustration (what could happen next?), which led to anger (WHAT COULD HAPPEN NEXT!), which led to massive depression (what is going to happen next?).  

            I sit here writing to you today, looking back at the past 9 years of problems and I tell you that God is good!  In everything, God is good! My wife and I have been through so much, we can talk to each other about anything… God is Good! My daughter that lost all strength in her arm was told that it would take 2 years for any recovery, and five months later she has full mobility and almost all her strength back… God is Good! I look at my children and I realize that God has truly blessed us with happy, fun, obedient children… God is good. I look back and I know that my children did not see their father or mother forsake the Lord… God is good.  We have learned who our true friends are… God is good.  Did I mention that God is good?

            So, perhaps next winter, when the snow begins to fall, I can gather my family together, join hands, and pray.  Then, as a family, we can open up the curtains and realize how beautiful the snow is.  How beautiful it is to be drawn closer to God.  Thank you, Lord, for all our suffering.  

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Fun with Dad

I play different games with my children. Let us just say that these games drive my wife batty.  It would be one thing if these games were played within the house, but I play these games out in public.  Please understand my wife.  She is an analytical thinker and if things don’t go the right way it will rub her the wrong way.  There is a certain type of behavior that is acceptable in public, and then there is an obnoxious behavior that ought not to be tolerated.  Well, the games I play with my children are games that land a little bit on the obnoxious side.  They aren’t always on the obnoxious side, but they definitely do not land within her cookie cutter concerning conduct in public.  Let us just say, my wife prefers to go to the grocery store and Target on her own.   I may or may not have a little too much fun with some of these games…

            One of the games we play I have no name for. Let us just say the name of the game is the “Stop and Go” game.  We will be in the grocery store walking down the aisles and I will be with my children ahead of the cart.  We will be walking fast down the aisle and then I will stay stop!  Then within a reasonable amount of time, I say go again. Once go is said, my children know they can start walking fast again.  STOP!…. GO!… STOP!… GO!…. STOP!  This game may seem a little weird for a lot of people; but please understand, this is not a game that just lets us run uncontrollably through the aisles, nor is it a game that we play every time we go to the store.  This is a game that is designed to teach my children to stop when I say stop and to go when I say go.  It has helped on countless occasions when we were not even playing the game.  Here are a few example when this game has helped us as parents.  What happens when a child comes out of the store, is faced with the parking lot, and wants to be the first one to the vehicle?  What happens when they take off running and there are other cars driving by or backing out of their parking spot?  All I have to do is say, “STOP!”  What happens when you are in the parking lot and that creepy van is parked on the passenger side of your vehicle? My children, all of a sudden want to be the first one in the vehicle and they take off running.  All I have to do is say, “STOP!”  Lastly, what happens when we are inside the store and my children are about to walk out of sight?  “STOP!”  For the sake of a little embarrassment on my wife’s part and a little fun with my children, we have developed a fun mode of listening that has been programed within our children.  

            Another game we play.  We can name this game “The Third day of Never” game.  There is a specific reason I developed this game.  As we continued to have children I began to recognize that their first word was “no.”  This is a common thing for a child.  The syllables are simple and short, so a child can quickly pick up on this word. It is a lot easier than saying spaghetti.  Well, I began to watch other parents with their children (not a bad thing) saying “no” all the time.  I began to watch the countenance on the children and I witnessed them droop in some cases and in other cases their countenances weren’t affected at all. God knows what type of parent you are and He knows what your children need, so please understand that this is just what I do and it is not something that everyone should do.  Currently we live across from Dairy Queen.  Can you imagine how annoying it was to have five children constantly asking to go to DQ?  EVERY DAY!!! NO, NO, NO, and NO.  So, I began to have fun with it and got creative.  I would say things like, “If you open up your calendar to the month of Never,” or “we can go on the third day of Never.” My children caught on quickly and stopped asking as often.  Currently they ask me, but mainly because they want to hear the different ways I can say, No.  This game began in the grocery store.  If you have children you understand the constant asking for candy in the check-out aisle or at the gum ball machine.  It can be exhausting.  “Daaaddy (as she batts her eyes), can I have a candy bar? There were times when it was just plane difficult to say no.  So, what do I do now?  When I have a child that asks me for some candy at the checkout, I turned it into a game. I would say, NO, and then I would follow-up by pointing at another piece of candy and saying, “ask me for that one.” When they do, I say, “No.” This went on, and on, and on when I first started playing this game, but eventually, my children learned that I would just say, “no” and they began to have fun with it. It is important to note that I always do this in a playful manner.  The game began like this and then it evolved.  I began to get pretty creative.  We would walk by the candy aisle in Wal-Mart and I would just say, this aisle is the aisle of “It’s not going to happen.”  My children laugh and then they keep walking.  It works in the toy aisle too.  It started out with my girls playing this game with my girls since my oldest three are girls.  I am a dad and my girls like the pink aisle.  Dads, you know what I am talking about.  This is the aisle that we have nightmares about!  Well, I would be walking by this aisle with my daughters and they would say in their sweetest voice, Daaaddy, can we get something?  I used to have trouble, but now I just say that I am allergic to pink.  This game has grown at home because they recognize I am allergic to pink. Now my girls chase me around the house with pink.  

            What am I trying to say?  As parents, we don’t always have to be stern with our children. We can have fun with them.  As our children grow and begin to understand, they will be able to approach us with more difficult topics (of which I dread) without fearing our reactions.  As parents, we need to teach our children in a way that will not drive them away.  If you are a parent, God has given you a personality and He has given you a child that needs your personality.  I have fun and my personality is a little goofy at times, so I use it.  Perhaps your personality isn’t goofy and you are like my wife, the analytical thinker. Use what God has given you and get creative with it.  Use your talents, your personality, and your desires while training your children and when they grow up, they will not fear to come home or call.  Let me just add that anger isn’t a personality.  Never, Never, Never respond to your child with anger, for they know when you lost control and they will follow suit.  

            Yesterday I wrote about Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”  I also quoted Easton’s Bible Dictionary’s definition on the fear of the LORD.  “It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence”  (Filial is the reverence due from a son or a daughter).  Recognizing this, just think of how God treats you.  There are times when we need stern discipline, but there are also times when God teaches us through games or enjoyment.  There are times when we dig our own holes and we bring trouble down on ourselves, but when we cry out for help God is ever-present and ready to reach out his hand of mercy.  God is always a ready, loving, merciful, gracious Father that loves His Children.  We don’t have to fear going to Him.  We can talk to Him at any moment.  If you are a child of God, you don’t have to fear your Father in the sense of punishment, but the fear you have should be a fear of reverence, holiness, and love.  In yesterday’s post I mentioned that fear in our terms drives us away from knowledge.  Today, I am saying that God loves you so much and He has been good to you.  With this, your fear should be the fear of offending your loving father because you love Him.  And why do you love Him? Because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

The Love of a Parent

The best hospital visit is when a friend or relative has a new baby.  Recently I had received a text message from a good friend of both my wife and I.  His wife had just had a beautiful baby girl.  It was good to go into the room and see their glowing faces.  The joy was overflowing from their countenances.  I love babies!!!  Just not holding them.  My wife and I have five children of our own and we are currently expecting another one this coming August.  I don’t even like holding my own babies.  However, watching the eyes of those holding an infant is one of the greatest pleasures man can ever know.  Our friends that are new parents again chose to wait to find out the gender.   They were guessing to see who was right whether it be boy or girl until the last minute.  Concerning my wife and I, I usually find out the gender before birth, but I keep that a secret from my wife as she loves the surprise.  The trick to keeping this secret is making mistakes both ways.  One day I will make a mistake and say it is a girl and a few days later I will make a mistake by saying it is a boy.  When you know as secret of this magnitude, as a father, it is impossible to keep it from slipping now and again.  This is the reason a good cover is vitally important. 

            The joys of birth cannot be reproduced in any fashion; however, after the birth there is the reality of raising your child. Time and time again I have spoken with parents that are in fear of having a child.  This fear is generated from the world around them.  If you doubt this, just turn on one of those three letter anxiety stations many people call the news.  I could begin to list all the evils that your children are subject to when you cross the threshold of your door to enter into the world, but you know what these evils are.  In today’s society a child doesn’t even have to leave the house to experience the vast majorities of these evils.  All they have to do is play that video game, or turn on that movie, or listen to that song that is sexually explicit.  

As a parent we fear for our children.  We never want any bad to come to them.  We want the eyes of innocence to remain ever-present. We do not want them to know evil of any sort, but we don’t know how to keep them pure.  I often look at my children and think of how good they have it.  I don’t want them to ever grow up.  Just stay in the bubble we call home, so you don’t have to experience the pain of relationships.  Just stay in this bubble, so you don’t have to experience the evils that are awaiting you around that corner, in that school room, or at that sports game. Just stay in this safe little bubble. However, as parents, my wife and I also understand that the shelter we are providing is also an evil when it is taken to an extreme.  We recognize our children will eventually move out and possibly experience greater evils than my wife or I have ever known.  They will experience suffering through the loss of loved ones, through broken relationships, through personal injuries, and through hurtful people.  They will experience these things and possibly even greater evils than these.  It is a fearful thing to be a parent.

There is hope! In my last two articles I have been focusing on the book of Proverbs.  I am focusing on this book for two reasons.  The first reason being that I have the desire to understand the Fear of the LORD.   The second reason being that I have the desire to raise my children, so they are equipped to go out into the world with understanding and wisdom.  As Solomon is writing the book of Proverbs, he begins by instructing his son.  “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother…”  Solomon begins by communicating to his son that his mom and dad have the best intentions in raising him and they want to prepare him to face the evils of this world. Is this not what we want for our children?  When our children move out of our house, my wife and I want to find security that we have done the best we could as parents in preparing them for the evils our children will endure.  

This is an important passage concerning mom and dad, but it is the verse right before it that I want to focus on.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)  The fear of the LORD… Earlier I was mentioning the fear we have as parents.  Earlier I was mentioning the fear some couples have just in choosing to have children or not. Many times, their fears will dictate whether or not they will even have children.  Their fear keeps them from knowing the joys God intended them to have. Consider those that “choose” to have an abortion.  The motto for the pro-abortion movement is “Choice”.  However, how many women have received an abortion just because they wanted to exercise their right to choose?  This would be a very limited few people that have gone this route.  All the others receive an abortion because they fear.  They fear the future whether it be for their career, or for the welfare of their child.  They fear.  If you are reading this and you have had an abortion, I want you to know that God still loves you and He has not forsaken you.  You are loved.  The point I am making is that “FEAR” is rarely the means by which we obtain wisdom and knowledge.  Fear is usually the means by which we avoid or run.  

Come back with me to this verse in Proverbs 1:7.  This passage says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”  Through this statement, I can tell you that the fear of LORD is not like fearing a lion or an abusive husband.  The fear of the LORD is something that brings you closer to Him.  But not all people can have the fear of the LORD.  The fear of the LORD is offered to everyone, but it is not something that is just handed out and forced upon you.  Easton’s Bible Dictionary says that the fear of the LORD “is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather a filial reverence.”  Now, I didn’t understand the word filial, so I will define it to you.  Filial is the reverence due from a son or a daughter. When we fear the LORD, we fear him as our eternal Father that loves us and will always be there for us no matter what the circumstances are.  Does this not help you understand the fear of the LORD when you look at your son or daughter laying there in complete innocence.  You want to give your child the whole world, but you also want to protect your child.  When your child grows older, you don’t want them to forsake you; rather, you want them to maintain the relationship.  Your love will never die for your children.  

I have a question, does this love work the same way between you and another person’s child?  No, it doesn’t. This love is only achieved between the parents and their children. This love, this fear of the LORD that is founded in love, reverence, and hope is only achievable if you are a child of God.  This love is offered to you in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…”  God loves you so much that he sent is son to die for you.  The better news is this… “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  All you have to do is believe in Christ to begin to understand the Fear of the LORD. Consider Ephesians 1:5-6, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”  Understand that you can be adopted into His family by believing that Jesus Christ was sent to die on the cross for your sins.  You must believe.  

Once you are a child of the King, you will understand the Fear of the LORD.  Remember, this fear is not a fear of fright; rather, it is a reverence in understanding that God has your best intentions in mind.  

So, do we have children?  If you are married, HAVE BABIES!!!  Have babies and raise them in the Fear of the LORD and not in the fear of evil.  Raise your children, instruct your children, and love your children, that they may recognize God’s love through you and also choose to be a child of the KING.  My greatest desire in life is for my children to experience the love that shown me through my heavenly Father.  

Reaching the Millions

            This weekend our church was involved with the assembling process of 28,000 John and Romans that will soon be transported to the country of Lithuania.  There is a married couple that works with Bearing Precious Seed that brings the printed portions of the Bible to different local churches so different churches can be involved in the process of reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sure, there are different, easier, and definitely more cost-efficient ways of going about this process; but this process allows God’s Local Church to be involved and become unified in a task that gives a world-wide vision to the congregation.  The best part for me was watching the children get involved hauling the Scriptures from station to station.  For my children this is the most exciting time of the year.  

            My last post was on the Fear of the Lord within the book of Proverbs and this post is a continuation of that one while applying it to the assembling of Scriptures.  I believe that the book of Proverbs is the instruction manual to truly understanding the Fear of the Lord, but we need the book before we can begin to understand.  Let us understand the purpose of the book from Proverbs 1:2-4.  

  1. To know wisdom and instruction. 
  2. To perceive the words of understanding. 
  3. To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity. 
  4. To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.  

All these things are vital for us to learn, know, apply, and teach.  However, all these things would not be available to us if the Book of Proverbs was not first written by Solomon under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.  

            I ask the reader to now make a transition with me over to the book of Psalms.  Please understand that Proverbs is for contemplation and meditation, while Psalms is for the immediate circumstances.  Once again, we recently helped assemble 28,000 John and Romans for a people group that does not have the Scriptures written in their own language.  

Psalm 12

            My heart breaks.  Looking across the globe and understanding how many people groups have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ because there are no Bibles written in their language. This is on a global scale, but I would like to bring this to more of a local scale by communicating the failure of Christians here in America.  This isn’t something new; rather, this is something that has happened throughout history. David wrote about it in Psalm 12:1 “HELP, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”  Godly men are failing all over our country and it is becoming difficult to find faithful men in certain areas of our country.  Please understand that I am from MN, and some people would call this place the “frozen tundra.”  There are churches everywhere, but churches that stand upon the truth of the Word of God are becoming scarce.  I hate to say it, but there are so many churches out there with pastors that measure their success upon how many people attend their church, and they are willing to compromise the truth of the Scriptures to keep people coming to the church.  This is where our godly men are failing.  David even speaks about this in Psalm 12:2 “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.”  Men of God are failing here in Minnesota and there are becoming barren lands within our own country that are in need of preachers of the Word that do not compromise the truth.  Our lands are becoming barren.  Not from the lack of churches, but from the lack of truth being preached.  

            But what does this have to do with the printing and publishing of the Word of God?  Well, in the middle of Psalm 12 David recognizes that God is going to “cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things…”and at the end of the chapter David begins communicating the necessity of the written Scriptures.

Psalm 12:6-7
6The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

This is where the hope is!!!  At the beginning of the chapter, David communicates the failure of mankind; but at the end of the chapter, David communicates the power of God in the preservation of His Word.  Here in America, there may be barren areas without a Preacher or a “good” church to attend, but you still have the WORD OF GOD!!!  It is EXCITING!!!  No matter what, you have a means by which to know God!  You have a means by which you can understand the truths of the Scriptures. Please, do not misunderstand me.  If there is a church near you that preaches the truth of the Word of God, it is vitally important that you attend.  In fact, it is commanded by God that you attend (Hebrews 10:25).  But if you don’t have a church near you, you still have the Scriptures where you can know wisdom and instruction, perceive the words of understanding, receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity, and give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.  You can read the book of Proverbs and learn the fear of the LORD.  

            Now I ask the reader to transition back to the global scale of things. Today we learned that there are 7 billion people on this planet and only 22% of the total population has heard the gospel.  Much of this is due to the fact that much of the world does not have a Bible written in their own language.  These countries do not have preachers, nor do they have the Scriptures.  Here in America; if we don’t have a preacher, we still have the Scriptures.  However, people groups throughout the world neither have preacher nor Scripture. Without either, millions… nay billions of people will die without Christ.  28,000 Scriptures were assembled at our church through the ministry of Bearing Precious Seed.  28,000 Scriptures will be able to reach a people group that are without preacher or Scripture. 28,000 people that have never had opportunity before, will now be able to learn about Christ.  They will be able to read the Scriptures on their own and learn about the God that loves them and sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for their sins. 

            Thank you Bearing Precious Seed!!!

The Fear of the Lord

Recently I have done a study concerning the Fear of the Lord. This was not an extensive study, but it was one that had changed my life and perspective for ever. Before I left the pastorate I began a sermon series in Proverbs. I tell you this because it is significant to this post. Solomon is the author of Proverbs as he is also the author of Ecclesiastes. The book of Ecclesiastes is a book that records Solomon’s backslidden state and it concludes with the most valuable summation of the purpose of mankind. Ecclesiastes is a book that records the vain approach to living and all the sorrows therein, while Proverbs is a book that records the wisdom of living and all the joys therein. However, in all of Ecclesiastes vanity, Solomon concludes with the two greatest gems for Christian living.

Consider Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” WOW!!! the whole duty of man!!! Since Solomon believed, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that these two points, laid out within this verse, are the two most important parts to our lives, we should take time to consider them.

Solomon stated that there are two things God requires of mankind. The second requirement of God is for us to keep His commandments (not the primary focus of this blog). This statement is a very cut and dry statement. It is typically easy for a person to describe the responsibility of keeping God’s commandments. If God says do something, then we ought to do it; and if God says don’t do something, we should take heed and not do it. These are the commands of God. Within this responsibility, both you and I may find it easy to define, but difficult to fulfill. Since this is the first responsibility of mankind, then we ought to take heed that we strive to fulfill the commandments of God. The first responsibility that Solomon stated is for us to Fear God. How do we go about living with the Fear of God?

As I began to study this primary focus of Solomon, I discovered that God did not leave us absent of the information that is needed for us to Fear God. Fearing God is part of the “Whole Duty of Man.” Since Solomon places such importance upon this focus, we ought to understand the Fear of the Lord. I explained earlier that keeping His commandments is fairly simple to explain, but have you ever tried to explain the Fear of God? As a pastor, I began to ask random Christians to explain the fear of God and there were very few Christians that could accurately pinpoint the Fear of God. Isn’t this the whole duty of man? Yes it is, so why do we, as Christians, have such difficulty defining this complex, four word, statement? The Fear of God.

Earlier I mentioned the book of Proverbs. Let us take a brief moment to understand the purpose of this book without much detail. My current pastor loves the book of Psalms. He loves this book because there is something for everyone in their current situation. The book of Psalms was written for us to give Christians encouragement in the thick darkness’ of life. To say the least, if you need immediate help, go to Psalms. Now the book of Proverbs is quite different. Proverbs is a book of wisdom that helps us prepare for the future when life happens. The first portion of Proverbs is from father to son. It is the responsibility of every father to instruct his son in the ways of the Lord. It is the responsibility of every father to train their child for life when it comes. It is the responsibility of the father to teach their son the difference between right and wrong when evil comes knocking at their door. What will your son do when you are not around to tell him that he is entering into a dangerous situation?

Let us take a brief look at the first three chapters in Proverbs and see how Proverbs has to do with the Fear of the Lord.
1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”
1:29 “For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:”
2:5 “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”
3:7 “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD and depart from evil.”

Just in these four verses we are confronted with the following truths. 1. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (this means that true knowledge cannot be obtained without fearing God), 2. The fear of the LORD is something that we have the opportunity to choose or deny, 3. There are requirements in understanding the fear of the LORD, and 4. the fear of the LORD is a command for us to obey.

With these facts in place, I believe that the book of Proverbs is the instruction manual for the Fear of God. If we understand and apply the truths that are found within the book of Proverbs, we will be able to define the Fear of God. Until that point, I fear, we cannot completely understand the fear of God. This is my fear: We as Christians do not understand our basic, most important, responsibility upon this earth. We (as a majority) do not fear God. If we cannot define the fear of God, how can we say we are practicing it?

I hope to be able to continue writing on this great subject, so, if you are interested, please follow my blog. Thank you for reading.