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Titus 2

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #25: Proverbs 12:5–Seeking Wise Counsel

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs:  Seeking wise counsel when I don’t know what to do (Prov. 12:5, KJV). 

“The thoughts of the righteous are right, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.”

I love this proverb for its practicality.  Many have been the times of my life when I’ve reached out for the mature advice of faithful Christians in whose judgment I place trust.  It has always benefitted me to hear, not only the answer to my question, but the sound, Scripturally-anchored reasoning it took to reach the answer.  Just now, the faces of these people—my “great cloud of witnesses”—flood my mind.  Many of them have now gone to the other side.

To seek advice from a man or woman who has no Bible-based compass is a mistake. Many have listened to worldly counsel and made life-altering mistakes.

Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge (Prov. 14:7).

I’ve occasionally encountered people who, in their hearts, knew the right decision at some crossroad, but foolishly chose someone who would say the opposite.  The person seeking the advice already knew he’d be told exactly what he wanted to hear and, on that very basis, chose the counselor.  This often happens in reference to marriage problems when people deliberately choose counselors who are not Christians.  I’ve heard people in such problems say it plainly to their spouses, “I’ll go to counseling with you so long as it isn’t  a member of the church.”  That’s a sad mistake.

Titus 2:3-5 has always seemed so practical for young women: “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish (other translations: train, teach, urge) the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”  Imagine the foresight of a teenage woman knocking on the door (or even popping up in the email) of an older Christian woman and asking, “Can we talk about a decision I need to make?”

Are you struggling with some dilemma or some difficult question about life or marriage or child-rearing, or a relationship at work, and you need sound advice?  Choose someone you know will be objective, balanced, and above all, someone who knows the Bible. That’s the person who can see the future best. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105).

Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy

1. Read or paraphrase 2 Samuel 11: 18-24. Explain the tragic event to your children. Tell them, for now, that Joab had Uriah killed in the battle, just like David had asked him to do. Then Joab told a messenger to go back to David and let him know, for sure, that Uriah was dead. He told him to tell David in crafty terms, so that the servant would not realize, as he was telling David, that they had murdered Uriah. Joab wanted everyone to think it was just one of those things that happens in a war. 

Make some memorable points as you talk about this horrible decision and death of a good man. 

2. Joab found a crafty way to let David know that Uriah was dead. He even acted like he thought David would be mad because of the decision to fight close to the wall and because they had lost a valuable soldier like Uriah. There was a lot of pretending going on here. Joab knew that David would actually be very relieved (in a sick kind of way) that Uriah was dead. Explain this to all of your children. 

3. Have older kids turn to Judges 9:50-55 and read for themselves the account of Abimelech that Joab told the messenger to rehearse to David. Tell them that Joab was trying to both hide the sin of murder from the messenger and make David feel better about the “casualty” of war that Uriah was on that day of battle. “After all, sometimes it has been a great thing to fight up near the wall.”  All of this little speech of the messenger was a huge “code-speech” for “Your plan has worked. Uriah is dead and it all looks good. I believe you (we) can get away with this murder.” Tell them that Joab and David’s friendship had been ruined now by their joint commission of this horrible sin. Their days of innocent friendship were over. There would always be the memory of this terrible sin between them. Encourage them to always keep friendships pure and holy. Never have sinful secrets between friends. It forever ruins great relationships. 

4. Try to make a list, at this point, of all the people that David has involved in his sin. He is hurting people all around while trying to protect himself. The list will be something like this:

Himself

Bathsheba

Uriah

Messenger who got Bathsheba

Servants when Uriah came to place

Joab

The other soldiers who were fighting alongside Uriah and retreated

The other soldiers who died beside Uriah

The messenger sent by Joab back to David

5. Make a strong point to your children that sin hurts good people and bad people. It does not discriminate. Ask them if they can think of good people who are hurting because of bad things that other people have done. Older kids may think of friends who are hurting because parents are alcoholics or unfaithful or abusive. They may think of people in the youth group who have hurt others by saying unkind things or by being disloyal to each other in relationships. Help younger kids think of how families might be hurt when one of the members of the family has to go to jail or even of innocent people who are hurt by wicked people in fairy tales. Examples are Geppetto being hurt in the story of Pinocchio or how Cinderella is hurt by the wicked stepmother and by the stepsisters or how Snow White is hurt by the wicked Queen. (It’s interesting to tell older kids that the name Geppetto means “Jehovah has added.” It’s a Hebrew name.) Choose one of these stories to read tonight and have the kids listen for someone who’s innocent being hurt by someone wicked. Sin hurts other people. (If you have both teens and younger ones, have the older ones read to the younger ones. But stick around for helping with applications.)

Quote God’s ideal for marriage: One man, for one woman, for life.

Quote the KidSing rule: Do the right thing.

Pray with your kids. 

(Next time we’ll make some observations about David’s answer back to Joab. Their correspondence both ways was full of deceit.)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Moms Should Know about Keepers and Providers…

Because several are asking about a couple of programs that help prepare our children to be home-and-parent ready, when the time comes, today I’d like to share the introductory videos about Keepers and Providers. While these are Lads to Leaders programs (and I highly recommend that powerful tool for your family and/or church–www.lads2leaders.com), you can certainly use the templates for these programs in your family even if you are not officially participating in Lads.

This year our Keepers participants did two projects within the sewing category. They completed quilting and embroidery. Can I just say that the preservation of such “lost arts” is a personal blessing of encouragement to me? More than that, though, the lessons of goal-setting, diligence, cooperation and generosity that accompany the completion of projects within these programs is foundational for future homes that model the Biblical format.

Here are the videos.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Keepers!…Sew Much Fun!…Excitement is Cooking!…These Girls Are Keepers!…

(Don’t miss the video at the end!)

You get the point. While the puns are pretty plentiful, this program in the Lads to Leaders organization for mentoring youth in churches is my favorite of all the Lads events. I  believe, for our girls, it is the most practical thing I’ve seen, other than direct mother-daughter mentoring, for helping our girls do what Titus 2 commands in that list of imperatives–things that older women in our congregations are to teach younger women. Today, I’m just going to give the definition of the Greek word oikouros, translated keepers at home or workers at home in Titus 2:5.

Ouikouros means:

caring for the house, working at home, the (watch or) keeper of the house, keeping at home and taking care of household affairs, a domestic

It’s an exciting concept in 2019, that God’s women are the keepers, the watches, the sentinels of this basic God-formed structure of society; that we get to take care of the “factory” if you will, for the future proclaimers of the Word,  and for the future elders and their wives for the eternal kingdom. It’s a privilege, the significance of which we dare not lose on our daughters.

Thus, the inception a few years ago of a program that helped complete an already thriving training ground for the youth of our churches. I hope you can take the time to watch a short video about this program. Special thanks to some of the girls at the West Huntsville church in Huntsville, Alabama and also some from the Centerville Road church in Garland, Texas.

You can see them here: https://youtu.be/VnBF2-s3VG0

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Conclusion)

As this series concludes, please remember that I understand there are those moms who’d like to do this oikouoros thing, but can’t. We should help such women in any way that we can to get to the goal. Some readers may say that I cannot understand, because I lived in a world in which my husband prioritized my staying at home or because I was able to have many luxuries and still  be at home with my children during those formative years. I know that I have been very blessed and there is some truth to those objections. I have to work every day to honor Him with blessings and to be sure I am not taking them for granted as if He owes me something. At the same time, I hope we‘ve picked up on the fact that the injunction to be oikouros is an inspired teaching conveyed in a word in Titus 2 and multiple times in concept form throughout Scripture. We will always suffer spiritually when we look to the world’s decision-making standards rather than the expressed will of our Creator.

One afternoon, I was driven up to a fabulous house in a high-end neighborhood where I would be staying while speaking in the area. I walked through beautifully decorated rooms, past a well-stocked entertainment center. I said hello to two very well-dressed young children and their dad, who was taking off his tie from a busy workday. I went upstairs to the beautiful guest bed and bath where I would be sleeping. The next morning, when I awoke, I peered out the window at a fenced, park-like backyard complete with a full playground with all the bells and whistles. I went downstairs for some orange juice and began to converse across the granite kitchen bar with my hostess. 

Somehow in that conversation, we moved to the topic of stress and the busy world in which we live. In this context, came the words that still make me sad when I remember that morning. I’ve heard the words many times since then. Sometimes the words are truth and that is sad. But sometimes they are words spoken, not of conviction of conscience, but more for a hurting conscience’s comfort. Her words were “I wish I did not have to work, so I could just stay home and raise my children.”

One day a child said the words to me this way: “ My mom would like to stay home with me, but she says that if she stays home, we can’t have our pool.” A variety of amenities have completed the sentence in different situations: “our new house” or “my private education” or “our trips to Disney”. 

There is a way to get past this amazing perspective. Go on a mission trip to Zambia or Argentina or Columbia or Tanzania or Haiti or any of the hundreds of poverty-stricken places in our world. Listen to children tell you about digging for rats to eat. Take cold showers and realize the hard way that there are no adequate sewage systems. Notice that goat head or turkey tail is a coveted entree, depending on your location.

I could go on, but the point is all too obvious. We are so rich in these United States that we have come to include luxuries in our lists of necessities. Our children are sometimes bringing shame on our families because they have grown up in worlds of instant gratification; worlds void of guidance, nurture, family Bible times, and deep family prayer. “A child left to himself brings his mother shame” (Proverbs 29:15). We, like the rich young ruler, have a lot going on materially, but we will continue to reap sorrow when we allow our possessions to own us rather than the other way around. 

“He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mt. 19:22).

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Part 5)

Every now and then I read something that impacts my thinking beyond what I can even recognize at the moment. I once read such a powerful blurb about a mother who sat down to write an ad for her local paper:

Help Wanted: Five days/wk sitter for infant and toddler in my home from 6:50 am to 5:00 pm. Sitter will use parents’ vehicle for transport to appointments, library, outings.  Interested applicant needs clean background, safe driving record.  Love of reading, music and healthy nutrition required. Non-smoker/drinker who loves Jesus. Respectful, clean, honest, dependable. Must love children…

Stopping abruptly, she commented “I cannot finish. I now know that the exact person I am looking for, is me.”

I also read something similar to what you can read below when I was a young mom. I do not have information to credit either of these, since I am relying on my memory. Obviously I am paraphrasing, but these little illustrations profoundly impacted my thinking about the importance of the job I was doing as the mother of two young children. 

We are all jugglers. We juggle housework and children and friendships and careers and husbands and cooking and laundry and service to God. We juggle grocery shopping and health care and hospitality and evangelism. We become masters at the juggling act. What we sometimes fail to realize is that some of the balls with which we juggle are rubber balls. When dropped, they are resilient. They bounce right back up and we can just incorporate them once again into the process of tossing and catching. But some of the balls with which we juggle are glass balls. Once dropped, they shatter into a million pieces and we can never retrieve all the pieces and put them back together again. Children are glass balls. 

Always remember….Children ARE glass balls. Cradle, cushion, protect and keep them to one day deliver them back to the Father.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Part 4)

At this point, I need to interject an important truth. We do not always get to do exactly what we want to do. Of course, we simply do not.  Have you ever read something or heard a sermon about faithful attendance to all the worship services and then left that article or sermon feeling discouraged because you are having to take care of a very sick parent or because you are having to work an extra job while your spouse is suffering from cancer or because your own immune system is low ( or because of one of a thousand other things that’s been making you absent yourself  from your favorite activity in the whole world)? After all, the sermon or lesson called for repentance and you just can’t even fix the problem right now. That’s discouraging. 

I have a friend who is a faithful single mom. She understands that her situation is not the one God would have planned for her and her work schedule has been keeping her from being at the services of the church consistently. She has elicited the prayers of faithful Christian sisters as she strives to get to a point where her hours are more conducive to being there each time. She’s had us praying for specific job interviews and, at last, she has been given the job that will allow her to be at every service. Now, where was her heart all along? Was she living faithfully? Of course, she was. And God is blessing her. 

Do you know what the key is to whether or not you should repent of being absent from the assemblies? Of course you do. It is your heart. it lies in whether or not you have chosen to be absent. it lies in where you WANTED to be, 

The heart is the key. The greatest command will always be about the heart (Luke 10:25-28). It’s what you are choosing there. It’s what’s the priority there. It’s what you are doing IF you get to do exactly what you WANT to do. 

Let me just emphasize that the same is true of our word oikouros. Yes, it is an injunction from the Holy Spirit for older women to be teaching younger women to do this. It’s in a list of imperatives that keep the Word from being blasphemed by those around us. It is important. 

But every woman reading knows exactly where her heart is about oikouros. Some women, because of medical emergencies, loss of a husband’s job, sin in the past of which they are fully penitent, or a thousand other factors, may go through seasons of being absolutely unable to fully be the “worker at home” that they really want to be. But it’s about the heart. It’s about the priority there. It’s about what I am choosing. It’s about what I want for my home and family. It’s about what, given the chance, I will choose.

And, of/for those sisters, who are, at least for a time, not getting to do what they deeply wish they could be doing, we should be supportive, encouraging, prayerful, resourceful and, yes, we should be helpful. The Golden Rule goes a long, long way in helping those who are desperately wanting to be oikouros

One more illustration. I have a dear friend who has failed this week. This week she has not even cooked for her dear husband. She has not done laundry or cleaned up her house and it’s a wreck. She has not sent out her regular cards to weak members or kept up with her prayer group. If oikouros had a grading or merit system base on achievement, she has certainly failed this week. 

But her house was hit by that obliterating tornado in Jacksonville, Alabama last week. That factor makes all the difference. See, we don’t go to her right now to chastise her for the fact that all of the main things in her world are undone. We go and help her do the best she can with what’s on her plate at the moment. Because it’s all about the heart. It’s about the “want-to.” What does she want to do right now with all her heart? Because of the answer to that question, we know she is succeeding rather than failing. 

Because of my conscience about what is happening on a large scale to children in our culture…(that is, parents are choosing to relinquish their care and training to others), I will keep saying, with all of my small influence, the importance of oikouros, in conjunction with all the remaining and equally important characteristics of Titus 2:3-5. But may all of us constantly remember, that from the heart flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). And may we pray for the changes that a pure heart desires. May we love, encourage with our words, support, and pray in behalf of sisters who are not getting to do what they really want to do.