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Wisdom

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

Family Ties in the Social Distance: #21–7 Things about Wise People

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:   Seven Things We Know about Wise People

A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother (10:1).

1. They are taught by the testimony of the Lord.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple (Psa. 19:7).

A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel (Prov. 1:5).

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil (Prov. 3:7).

…and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15).

2.  They love the souls of men and women.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise (Prov. 11:30).

3.  They keep good company.

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed (Prov. 13:20).

4.  They put a high priority on healthy marriage.

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands (Prov. 14:1).

5.  They hear the sayings of Jesus and do them.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock (Matt. 7:24-25).

6.  They often look like fools in the eyes of worldly people.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (1 Cor. 3:18).

7.  They live carefully and prudently.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15).

Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy

1. Read to your children 2 Samuel 11:2-5 and explain to them, in age-appropriate terms, what David did in these verses. For young children, it will be that he saw another man’s wife and he wanted her for his own, because she was beautiful. For older children, you will explain that he lusted for her and he sinned by having a sexual relationship with her. For all children, explain that stealing is stealing, whether it is a man’s money or his wife. “It’s called adultery when it’s a wife instead of money that is taken.”

2. For teens, here, fill in the details about the pregnancy and the selfishness of David, in not thinking about the involvement of innocent people (like a baby) in his grievous sin.

3. Also here, talk to your kids about the messengers in this passage. Was it fair for David to ask his messengers to help him sin? What should the messengers have done when asked to go and get the beautiful woman for David? Do you think they knew they were helping him “steal” another man’s wife?  Has anyone ever asked you to help them do wrong? (Give examples like asking to copy your homework or asking you to tell a lie to help keep a secret or asking you to hide something that got broken. It’s fun to make up these scenarios and ask your kids “What should you say if someone asked you to do this?”)

4. For younger children, for now, just tell them that Bathsheba went back home, but she was afraid that her good husband would find out that she and David had been acting like they were married. She was afraid Uriah would find out that she had gone to the palace to be with another man who was not her husband.

5. All ages should learn that David violated the seventh of the ten commandments and they should be able to quote that command from Exodus 20:14. For those who have the Hannah’s Hundred 2 CD, all of the ten commandments are included in song there and this would be a great time to learn to sing them.

6. I hope you can emphasize to your children that David decided to sin by taking Bathsheba. Up until he actually committed this sin (had her come to the palace and took her in), he could have repented of his wish to have Bathsheba and prayed to God for help in staying far from her. But, instead, he made a choice that is going to have some very bad consequences. Teach your children that when we think about doing something that’s wrong, we should quickly change our minds before we actually do the wrong thing. (Explain this to young children by talking to them about a beautiful chocolate cake that you have told them not to touch. Explain to them that they should not go to the drawer to get a fork or to the cabinet to get a plate. They should not take the lid off the cake stand. But explain to them that it’s all pretty easy to fix until they actually touch the cake. But once it’s cut and  eaten, there are some consequences that are not fun.)

Make a list of things we might say in our homes, to try and think before we disobey or act disrespectfully. In our house, they included these. You will have your own:

–“Think about this before you choose, now.”

–“Make a good choice.”

— “Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

–“This is not going to end up good. Think about it.”

–“Wait and minute and think. Do you know what is going to happen if you disobey?”

The goal here is to get your children to ask these warnings on their own, even if you are not with them when the temptation comes.

7. Have teens think about people they know who have already made choices that have had bad endings.  Have a conversation about these “real-life” choices that should have been stopped before certain actions were committed. If they cannot think of any in their circles of peers, remind them of the decision to sell Joseph (how much pain came in the lives of the brothers once they decided to do that and how they had to start deceiving to cover their tracks.) Remind them of Potiphar’s wife’s decision to lie about Joseph and how an innocent man suffered much because of a selfish choice on her part.

Pray with your children.

Be sure they can repeat God’s ideal for marriage: One man and one woman for life.

 

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #7– (Proverbs 1:7)

My Favorite Proverbs:  The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

 

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. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs:  The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

It’s been a little over a week since the West Huntsville family was able to assemble. I want to encourage us all to guard against discouragement and especially against the resentment that can come with “cabin fever.” Wisdom is the ability to see how actions will turn out.  God gives divine wisdom. We can know that our trials will result in patience (James 1: 2,3)  We can know that our difficulties can accomplish His plans (Romans 8:28). We can know that times of illness can open doors of spiritual healing. 

Solomon spoke three thousand parables (1 Ki. 4:32). The book of Proverbs was written by, arguably, the wisest man who ever lived with the obvious exception of Christ Himself. It’s a great place to go when we’re looking for the good things that can be resultant from days of uncertainty. It’s a wellspring of divine wisdom. Let’s spend a few days in the Proverbs. 

The Dickson New Analytical Bible observes, as it introduces the book of Proverbs, that most of the book of Proverbs was written or collected by Solomon. It tells us that nothing is known about the men to whom the last two chapters are credited, Agur and King Lemuel. 

Then, it says this:

“The book of Proverbs, however, is more than a collection of pithy sayings. It reflects the historical background of the age in which Solomon lived, and it speaks to the needs of the people.  This was a time when great wealth and luxury in a privileged society brought the temptation to ignore the simple virtues that were the foundation stones on which the fathers of the nation had built its growth and prosperity.”

You can see why these inspired proverbs are so valuable to those of us who are navigating our course through a wealthy and changing America in this decade.  The first chapter, verse seven says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

While this fear is compatible with loving God, it is noteworthy that he did not say that the beginning of knowledge is loving God. It’s fearing Him. 

The word fear is found four hundred times in the KJV, and most of those reference fearing God.  

Let’s think of fear in two different ways: 

1.  I am afraid of Him.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

2.  I reverence Him.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His  commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecc. 12:13).

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Ja. 4:10).

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him” (Psa. 89:7).

The Hebrew word for fear in Ecclesiastes 12:13 is yare, and Strong’s says it means both cause to frighten: — affright, dread(-ful),” (put in) fear(-ful, -fully, -ing),  but also “to be had in reverence.

In the New Testament the original word for fear (as is seen in 1 Jn. 4:18), is phobeo and it is translated, to be frightened, to be alarmed,”  but can also be translated, “to revere…reverence.

It may surprise you that being afraid of Him is not a wrong reason for a man to become a Christian.  Jude 23 says, “…but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Certainly, fear would play a part in that conversion scenario.   And yet, fear isn’t the best reason.  The verse just before this says, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction.”  Scholars believe this has to do with convicting or convincing those who may contend with truth or differ with truth.  The reason for obedience, in this case, would be more of a conviction by logic and less a response of fear. Oh, that all men would bow their knees before the One who is powerful enough to design and create them, and merciful enough to save them (Rom. 8:32).  Reverence in conviction is the mature outgrowth of initial fear, and perfect love casts out fear.

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:17-19).  

The greatest journey you will ever take in life is to learn to fear God.  It is the beginning of true knowledge.  

Tonight’s Story Time:

Read Genesis 43 to prepare for this time with your children.  Read slowly through these verses to grasp the details.

  1. Joseph wanted to see his younger and full-brother, Benjamin, the only other son of his mother Rachel.  He must have wondered if his wicked brothers had treated Benjamin in a cruel way, too.  (Talk to your children about what it means to repent. Give them some scenarios and ask them what a person would do who was repenting. An example might be a little girl who snatched a toy from her younger sibling. How could she repent? Maybe it’s a little boy who told a lie. How would he repent?) One essential part of the brothers’ repentance, in the mind of Joseph, was that they would love and respect Benjamin;  so, he asked them to bring Benjamin:  “And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men.” (Gen. 42:34).  What do you think Joseph would have done if he learned that they had treated Benjamin in a mean way too?

2.  When Joseph’s daddy, Jacob, learned that the ruler in Egypt wanted his sons to bring Benjamin, he said “no” at first.  But the famine was very bad in the land (Gen. 43:1).  Have you ever been really hungry?  Judah, who had been so mean to Joseph when Joseph was young, said to his Dad, “I myself will be a surety for him…if I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever” (Gen. 43:9).  Judah said he would take all the blame if anything bad happened to Benjamin. Jacob sent Benjamin with Judah.  Joseph had not seen his younger brother in about twenty years, and, when he saw him, he went into another room to cry.  Why do you think he cried?  

Always be good to your brothers and sisters, and decide now that you will stay close to them and love them all of your life.

3.  There are two kinds of tears. Some are sad, and some are very happy. When have you cried because you were sad? When have you cried because you were happy?

4. Have your kids make another card or two for the Christians who need our  encouragement in Vermont. Tell them you think some of these Christians will cry because they are happy when they receive these cards. It will mean a lot to  them. 

5.See if your older children can think of a sibling in the Bible who was unkind to a brother. (Elicit answers like Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27), or Eliab and David (I Samuel 17:28) or the elder brother in Luke 15). 

6. Pray with your children. Remember to pray that, while we are all stuck together in this house for these days, we will love each other, have fun with each other and treat each other with great kindness.

7. Have your children quote the Golden Rule.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: What Happened Under the Tree? (Part 1)

tree_fjsyakid_lThe devil first did it in the Garden of Eden.  Eve knew the fruit was forbidden. She knew that God had promised certain death if she picked and ate.  But somehow the devil got Eve all mixed up about good and evil. Maybe what she thought was bad might actually turn out to be okay–even good.  All this time she thought she would die if she ate the fruit. “But I’m getting smarter now,” Eve thought. “ I can listen to this other point of view from this talking serpent. His message gives me hope. I like the sound of wisdom and especially the ability to discern between right and wrong. Maybe what I thought was the absolute truth was not absolutely true after all.”  

You know the rest of the story. Eve took a big bite of this subjective thinking and plunged the world headlong into sorrow, disease and death.  The ironic thing is that the devil used the ability to discern between good and evil as the bait. He promised her this wisdom to know right from wrong. Did you ever stop to think that this ability to distinguish with certainty right from wrong had been given by God in the very beginning?  When God gave Eve the commandment to refrain from eating the fruit of that particular tree, He graciously gave her absolute truth. He presented the choices to her. He told her which choices were good and which choice was bad. He even prescribed the consequence of the wrong choice.  When God revealed his wishes to her, she had all she needed to know about right and wrong. She had, in those early  garden days, wisdom on loan from God. That’s still how we get real wisdom today…from revelation. “The fear of the Lord is (still) the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10).

But Eve chose experimentation rather than revelation. She, like an infant with a will to disobey, decided to try the Father and see if he was as good as His word. Experimentation is the basic exercise in proving science. My kids did it in school. You know, first you develop a hypothesis. That’s just a big word for “your  best guess at what will happen if…” Then you come up with a test or a series of tests to prove whether or not your guess was right. After enough testing to reasonably show consistency in the results you have proved or disproved your hypothesis. This process is known as the scientific method and all of the real facts in the science textbooks have been proven this way.  Sometimes kids still use this method to prove the principles of buoyancy or the laws of thermodynamics. It’s a good scientific exercise.

But what if you heard that the scientists at NASA were spending one million of your tax dollars this month to prove the law of gravity?  “Why that would be an awful waste of tax money!” you’d say.  “That law has been indisputable for centuries. The law of gravity is no longer in need of being proven.  We already know the consequences of jumping from a ten story building. Let’s use that money on some other research.”

And so it is with God’s laws of good and evil. When God revealed His laws to us in scripture, they were not hypotheses. Since they came from the omniscient One, they were just as sure the moment they were written as if they’d been proven ten million times over. We don’t have to read and then test. Men’s hypotheses need testing. God’s laws are inherently right because He is God. But in the year 2016, we have the written infallible Word of God and several thousand years of testing to prove God was right in the first place. And yet we’re still standing under the tree, if you will, taking that big bite of subjectivism and deciding our ways might work out better than His ways. We’re still hypothesizing on our own, questioning His predicted outcomes, and finally (and, all too often, too late) learning that He knew the facts all along. The scientific method need not be applied to God’s spiritual laws. He is the supreme Scientist. He designed every law of nature. He set in motion every principle upon which our universe operates. His rationale, His wisdom, His instruction is far above our human processes of reasoning. When God instructs, we are not about proving. We are about moving.

(The article above was largely taken from a portion of a chapter I wrote for the Fort Worth Lectureship Book at the Brown Trail School of Preaching and the Brown Trail Church of Christ, 2006)