proverbs_12_1__wallpaper__by_plmethvin-d4e190cWhoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1) 

Well, that’s to the point.

I was raised never to call anyone stupid, but the truth is some choices and behaviors are stupid.

We don’t see it at the time. We can rationalize stupidity. Like hating correction? “What kind of correction? Who is doing the correcting? Do they really know what’s going on? Do they have authority to correct me? I think I’m right. I know better. I’m not going to let anyone boss me!”

Well, that settles it. The line is drawn. When someone rejects correction and discipline because of pride, he or she is stupid. Or if you want it to sound a bit nicer, he or she lacks knowledge.

Either way, the very person who needs correction and discipline refuses it.

Before we point a finger at too many others, we might want to take a good look at ourselves, because none of us is always enthusiastically willing to accept correction and discipline.

Maybe today is a good day to learn a lesson.

Our Love/Hate of Daily Requirements

indexSo David left Asaph and his relatives there before the ark of the Lord’s covenant to minister regularly before the ark according to the daily requirements. (1 Chronicles 16:37)

What are our “daily requirements”?

We all have them. We might look at others’ daily requirements, including those we observe at different times, different cultures, or different beliefs, and we declare them silly, unimportant, oppressive, or irrational. But we all have them, even if we don’t listen to God and rely on Him to determine them for us.

Even if we do listen to God for our daily requirements, we don’t necessarily see them as a blessing or honor. At times, we still feel as if they are silly, unimportant, oppressive, or irrational, even as we choose to follow them. Of course, sometimes we reject them. Perhaps it’s simply the fact that they are consider as “requirements” that we don’t like. We rebel against what is expected of us, especially in our independent culture. We don’t want anyone to boss us, including God, even when He is determining something that grows and helps us.

Our feelings about daily requirements don’t determine their worth. What God says about them does. Perhaps it’s not really the daily requirements in and of themselves that are nearly as important as our faithful discipline and trust that God knows how to lead well, even when we don’t understand.

Of course, we need to discern whether God is determining daily requirements, we are following tradition that no longer applies, or we are following people who we might respect and to whom the requirements might have made sense for them personally at some point but doesn’t determine our own faithful obedience.

Discernment is always key. Following isn’t about an established pattern but a firm faithfulness, whether God keeps our routine the same but grows us through it or changes our routine but reveals His own and our faithfulness through the changes.

Discernment is a daily requirement.

Practice When You Don’t Know Why

We don’t have to completely understand the purpose in each discipline to benefit from and commit to it.

Consider Daniel in Karate Kid. He wanted to learn karate, and Mr. Muyagi committed to teaching him, but he starting with waxing cars, sanding floors, and painting fences. Daniel wondered when the actual training would start. He was confused and irritated, not understanding the important conditioning of his discipline.

We sometimes read sections of the Bible while wondering why the details are even included. We pray without making a connection to any benefits or results. We serve on a ministry team to get involved and end up frustrated with the dynamics of the group. We give generously yet feel a strained need for provision and wonder where we went wrong.

There’s not always a clear cut if/then causal relationship with spiritual disciplines. Results aren’t as important as the process. Yes, we need to keep the results in mind, but sometimes what we believe should be the result differs from what God says about the process. He wants us to rely on Him throughout the discipline, trusting Him even when we don’t completely understand. We could jump through discipline hoops and end up no closer to Him. We could choose legalism over relationship.

Instead, God wants us to trust Him, take one step at a time, and rely on Him for the refining process. He will train us, but not always in the ways we expect. That’s okay, because He’s not taking us where we want to go but where He wants us to go. And that’s a better destination.


Walk the Talk

image_gallery“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 gives us guidance of what to give our children in order to equip them to live faith-filled lives, but what happens if we don’t start well?

I’m the baby of my family by several years. When my sisters and I were little, I was often left out of situations and experiences, but I was a witness to much. One pushed the other and broke a window. (It wasn’t as violent as it sounds.) One took the farm truck and got stuck in a field road. They had friends at the house even though our parents had said no visitors. Chores didn’t get done. The list goes on.

They knew things I did wrong, too. To tattle or not to tattle? To follow the example or follow instruction?

I didn’t tattle often – because I got bribes. The funny thing is my parents found out most everything anyway. When there’s a broken window or a truck out of place, it doesn’t take long to discover.

Fast forward a generation. I don’t think I’ve ever told my daughters “do what I say, not what I do,” but I know there have been many contradictions between what I said and did. Despite all their good qualities and habits, there have been times I’ve thought, “Of all things, did they have to pick up that from me?!”

Our lives will be contradictory. We don’t realize every contradiction, but what do we do with the ones we notice? Consider what hypocrisies annoy or pain you in others. What contradictions are in your own life? You don’t have to be perfect, but in order to teach your children (and others), you have to be willing to be taught. Start today.

Controlling Your Children

98602479We don’t have control over our children. It’s something we should know. We claim our children belong to God, but we invest in them so much that they feel like ours.

It’s difficult to give up control, especially when we try to control along the way. When they’re young, we have to do everything for them. As they grow, we continue to teach them new things, and they soak it all up. They look at us with adoring eyes. They’re curious sponges. We see ourselves in them, because they reflect what they see. But they begin to meet other people. They make friends. They watch videos and read books. Their interests change. They move out. They make their own decisions. At least, we hope they do. But it’s still difficult.

From an early age, we want and encourage them to stand on their own two feet, but when they do, we wonder if the way they’re standing will hold them up for long. We see better ways of doing things because we’ve “been there, done that.” But we haven’t, really. We can’t completely stand in their shoes or see through their eyes. We think we know them well, because we grew up with them, literally. But we’re not them. We can’t decide everything for them. It doesn’t just start when we send them to school; their decisions begin a long time before that. They have thoughts that we don’t even know. We can’t control them. That’s okay.

I don’t know about you but I have enough trouble making the choices in my own life. I don’t handle my own decisions well all the time. I struggle to determine how to follow God each step of the way. What was easy in one situation isn’t easy in another. Yet, I want to add the decisions of my children’s lives to the mix, too?

Of course, there are many decisions we need to make for our children when they’re young. And there are even more that we have to help them make for themselves. Making choices for them seems much easier. It seems quicker to jump in and fix something than to take the time to process alongside them, searching for the best option, teaching them to think instead of giving the summary of our own thoughts. But it’s not nearly as beneficial.

Asking questions and searching for answers is a much more important skill than following answers without a hint of why or how. Self-control is a much more important skill than imposed-control. It takes a lot of time to teach and learn, and sometimes we’re not sure we’re passing it all on well, but as long as we assume control of our children’s lives, we lose the self-control we need for our own.

Surrender control. God is the best parent of all…for your children and for you.

Adventures in Faith: Soaring!

adventures in faithToday is the final post in the Adventures in Faith series. Thanks for joining the journey. Let’s continue together with new adventures, beginning tomorrow!

Children, come and listen to me. I will teach you to worship the Lord. You must do these things to enjoy life and have many happy days. (Psalm 34:11-12)

Ponder It.

What’s one adventure that thrilled you?

What’s an adventure that challenged you?

Consider how you grew through each.

Receive It.

When Mom looked out the kitchen window, she saw us in the second-story barn window. My older sisters held me by my legs and arms, and they swung me back and forth several times before tossing me out the window.

What she couldn’t see was my landing. The garage obscured her view. She charged out the door in a panic, rounded the corner of the garage and…saw the hay truck stacked with straw and me rolling in laughter and delight. What a great day! Mom, on the other hand, didn’t share my joy. She was relieved I was okay, but her initial fright gave her enough momentum to yell at all of us and demand we stop the fun.

Bummer! I was having a blast. It might not have been the safest way to pass the time, but many of the “fun” things we did on the farm weren’t necessarily safe. Some of the most memorable experiences are the adventurous ones. We’re creative through adventures. We learn through adventures. And we often struggle through adventures. Struggling often produces growth.

Adventures often involve risks and usually involve excitement. Approach today with an anticipation of adventure. Learn. Struggle. Be creative. Make some memories.

Live It.

This is it: the launching pad of the next season of your adventures. Your adventures didn’t just begin, and they’re not going to end anytime soon, especially as you commit and yield to God’s will. He has a journey of adventures for you. Embrace every single one. Soar!

For more stories about life growing up on the family farm, check out Farm Days.

Adventures in Faith: Opportunities for Adventure

adventures in faithShout to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with joy; come before Him with singing. Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep He tends. Come into His city with songs of thanksgiving and into His courtyards with songs of praise. Thank Him and praise His name. The Lord is good. His love is forever, and His loyalty goes on and on. (Psalm 100)

Ponder It.

What’s one opportunity you missed and have regretted?

What’s an opportunity you are very grateful you didn’t miss?

What’s an opportunity you would love to experience?

Receive It.

We have a lot of opportunities throughout life and throughout every day. We have the choice not only to take or refuse the opportunity but also to take or give credit for the opportunity. We sometimes feel we’ve “made our way.” We take credit when, in reality, we haven’t gotten where we are on our own. In fact, we don’t achieve in isolation. Even when we think our efforts paved the way to where we are, opened the doors, and made the right choices, we’re surrounded by others. Our lives aren’t lived in isolation. Our paths are paved with relationships. Sometimes, we feel we’ve messed up everything. Taking responsibility is one thing, but thinking we’re powerful enough to mess up everything is the same as thinking we’re powerful enough to achieve anything we want. Whether we think too highly or not highly enough of ourselves, we have pride issues, and just about the time we excuse our pride as necessary confidence, we’ll trip over the stumbling blocks pride puts in the way.

We are never so low that we cannot go higher, and we can never get to a height from which it’s impossible to fall. We have responsibility, but God gets the credit. Obedience is the responsibility; guidance and provision only comes from God. He defines who we are and determines when we’re letting pride slip into our lives. Whether we’re giving ourselves too much credit or not enough credit, our credit is misguided. It’s not about our credit; it’s about God’s glory. So, when you’re faced with an opportunity, give it to God. Let it filter through His fingers and will. Let Him decide how you’re supposed to best respond. When you’re faced with an opportunity, get prayed up and prayed for. Each is indispensable, and neither should be done just when you feel it’s an emergency. God’s presence and will isn’t just the only way when we can’t see another way. It’s the only way when we can see thousands of ways ahead of us. Many ways may look beautiful to us, but only God’s way is undoubtedly, incomparably, the most beautiful ever.

Live It.

Place one of your hands under a faucet and let water run over your palm. Try to hold as water as you can. Turn off the water. As you watch the remainder of the water run down the drain, commit to not wasting a single opportunity God gives you today. Opportunities slip too easily through our hands.