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Amy with her family: Eric and Einar
Amy with her family: Eric and Einar

Amy is young, vibrant, and passionate. When she said she’d like to join our evangelistic study I was both pleased and cautious, for she’s like this little flame that can light up the room or overpower it. The first time she came I could tell it was an “overpowering” day for she was facing a genuine dilemma in her life, and she was dominating the discussion with her concerns. I knew I had a responsibility as the facilitator to talk to her, so I asked the Lord to give me an opportunity, during our coffee break, to do so. I asked my co-leader, Twila to pray, and no sooner had we prayed, that Amy walked into the little alcove where we were standing. So I took the plunge.

“Amy — we need your help. You and I talk easily, but we have some non-Christians here who need pauses in order to gather courage to speak up.”

Amy looked a bit trampled, and asked, timidly, “There are non-Christians here?”

“There are — and you could be so good at encouraging them — like you already did with Sonja.”

She brightened a bit. “I did?”

“You did! You told her she’d had a great insight.”

Quietly Amy returned to the living room and sat down. Had I put out her spirit? Would we lose her? I prayed not!

But in the next session Amy was WONDERFUL: drawing others out, encouraging, being that little flame that brightens the room. So when I got home I e-mailed her about how amazing she’d been.

In response she wrote an e-mail like I’ve seldom received, so rare it brought me to tears. In her humility of heart, she’s given me permission to print it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Dee!!  I told Eric tonight that the study this afternoon was a good “reset” for me.  It gave me something else to think about and helped me keep things in perspective.  Sometimes I have a tendency to only think about what I am going through, while giving little/no thought to what others may be dealing with.  Having a strong leader like you keeps me from indulging my “tunnel vision.”  I also don’t want my naturally outgoing tendency to silence the quieter ones, and this is a good chance for me to learn how to do that. 

Now that I know what’s what, I will definitely be lifting up these women in prayer.I will pray with all the passion and intensity God has given me for these women! I love you too and cannot fully express what The Orchard and now your study have been doing in my life.  I am convinced that God timed all of this to happen exactly when He knew I would need it, and that it is the vehicle He will use to transform me from the inside out.

reproveawisemanOne of the first signs of a teachable heart is how you respond to counsel. Next is to consider if you are truly seeing the fruit of a teachable heart in your life. That’s what we’ll consider this week.

We have reached the point in proverbs where Solomon writes: “Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge?” (Proverbs 22:19) He’s actually written much more, a myriad of wise words that we need to receive in hearts that are tender and teachable. May the Lord give us each that kind of heart. Consider how you are responding to the following, for that will reveal if you have a heart that is like the good soil.

goodsoillogoBut those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold (Mark 4:20)


 Sunday: Icebreaker

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. How well do you respond to counsel, criticism, even rebuke? Be as honest as possible.

Monday – Thursday: Important Concepts in Proverbs

Protecting the Poor

This is so important to the Lord — it’s throughout the prophets, the parables, the proverbs, and the teachings of Jesus. Prepare your heart with this from Sara Groves:



3. Read Proverbs 22:22-23. What is the command and what warning comes with it?

4. God is always concerned about the most vulnerable in our society. How do you see this in Proverbs 23:10?

5. And again in Proverbs 24:11-12. Command and warning?

6. Jesus talks so much about the poor. What parallel teaching do you see in Matthew 25:31-46?

7. Are you seeing growth in your life in this area? How could the gospel nourish this growth?



8. What are the basic teachings of Proverbs 23:13-15. See also Proverbs 19:18 — a proverb that helped me so much as a young mother.

Ellen Davis comments: The sages’ advocacy of physical punishment of young children may be challenged in light of modern insights. But two cautions should be observed before a saying such as this one is wholly dismissed. First, the key word here is “discipline” (v. 13) which for the sages denotes primarily an internal disposition, not an application of force. They are wisely insistent that it is the parent’s responsibility to help the child acquire discipline early in life (“while there is hope”) Failure to do so is the most grievous form of child abuse.

On a personal note, I remember the tape I heard as a young mother said “Many rules, many infractions.” What Steve and I kept in mind three points for discipline: disobedience (willful); disrespect; and dishonesty. I have also so appreciated Paul Tripp’s teaching on getting to the heart instead of just encouraging outward obedience. I watch today’s children speak disrespectfully to parents, teachers, and see the society unraveling. It is so hard to establish authority when they are older — we must do it when they are young. As Solomon says, “If you refuse to discipline your child, you will ruin his life.”

9. How do you, with young children, teach them obedience without crushing their spirit and provoking them to give up? Give an illustration of how you get to the heart. 

This summer I have had my grandchildren here a lot. Sadie has been here the most, so we are beginning to learn the Reformed Catechism for Young Children. Here is the link, and here is Sadie! Reformed Catechism for Young Children

10. Read Proverbs 23 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.


11. Why, according to Proverbs 24:1-5 should we not envy evil men?

12. In America and in the western world, persecution as been, as Keller says, more like a “sneer” than actual losses of freedom or life — but that is changing. How would you apply verse 10 to your life?

Rescue Those Being Led to Death

13. How do you apply verses 11 and 12?

14. Why should you not rejoice when your enemies fall according to verse 17?

15. Read Proverbs 24 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.

Thursday-Friday Sermon


      The Two Great Tests: Tim Keller



 16. Share your notes or thoughts.


17. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 3-7 These are such hard vs. for me. I WANT to save the world and my heart breaks for those who are broken. BUT after 2 adoptions and inner city ministry and campus ministry (college students are VERY poor here) all i want to do is shut those feelings off. they are overwhelming and I can do so little. It is a very hard balance! I love the story of the little boy saving star fish, he changes the world for 1. and I also get comfort from Andy Stanleys “Do for one what you wish you could do for every one.” I can NEVERdo all I wish I could and I get so discouraged if i focus on that so I tend to turn my eyes away from some needs around me and around the world. 
    not sure if thats OK or not, but its what I have to do in order to not lose my mind 🙂

  2. 9. As I talk to my older kids they all say that spanking did not hurt then any 🙂 It is so important to understand where behavior is coming from! my son was so ADD and impulsive and often was bad when he really wanted to be good. my daughter but on a great show and everyone thought she was a little angel when she was a sneak and a lier and would do anything to LOOK good while doing bad. Im thankful that i caught on to Abby pretty early 🙂 what I find so many parents these days do is reward outside behavior and turn a blind eye to anything that is done in secret. 
    Luke embarased me a lot. he was just one of those kids (so is Emma) that could not figure out social norms. BUT I knew his heart was TRYING to do the right thing. and it is still like that to this day. he is going to move in with his fiance in Jan, the wedding is in May. he needs to find a job where she live (3 hour away) and they sware they are able to stay pure while living together (yeah right!!!) but he really THINkS he can and he 🙂 my daughter who has been in a relationship for 3 year and will get married in 2 years has made mistakes but tried to hide it. she finally confided in me and now she is working through re establishing boundries, they are in ministry so it was really imprortant for her to “look good” but I am so glad that they were able to confess and be held accountable. If I had made it about behaviour while she was growing up im sure she would have never confided in me. I hope that makes sense! often the “good ones” are often rewarded for how they look and  they dont put much stock in their heart.
    Now I really need prayers with Emma (11) I have NO idea how to get to her heart! she is an otter through and through and I am so NOT. I just do not understand her at all. I am a beaver/lion and have not patience for otters…MY PROBLEM NOT HERS! I NEED  to find a way to let her know how much I love her, even when her bahavior drives me bonkers!

    1. Cyndi, just my 2 cents and not knowing Emma…the 11-13 age was really difficult age with my two daughters; seventh grade was the worst.  They acted out in ways that just bewildered me and required me to take actions I had never had to take prior…with my oldest, due to a call from one her teachers regarding her behavior in class, I ended up calling every one of her teachers to discuss what her behavior was like in their class (five additional calls).  My daughter found this highly embarrassing (though this was not my reason for making the calls; the reason was truly to find out if this was isolated or happening in all of her classes), but she knew that I would address the issue as needed.  As I recall she lost privileges…she is now 25….until I confirmed that the behavior in this class was acceptable.

      1. Im not sure I really expressed myself well. I do not struggle with discipline, for me that is the easy part. what breaks my heart is that I just do not understand her, we dont connect at the heart level. I want to like her, to appriciate her and help her feel how loved she is by me and by Father God, …..But I just don’t know how!!!!  Even when she is not being “bad” she just acts in ways that annoy the snot out of me! that is MY heart and MY problem! I KNOW what I SHOULD be feeling but the feelings just are not there. I try my best to fake it but she knows. please pray that God will place in my heart a super natural appriciation and like for my little girl.

        1. I did misinterpret, Cyndi…thought you were talking about misbehavior; my challenge with my daughters at that age…:)
          I am sorry for this challenge in connecting with Emma; praying for you both and the heart connection and understanding desired. 
          I have been reading Deborah Tannen’s book, You’re wearing that?…a gold mine of information for mother/daughter relationships.  I have found so much that I can relate to as a daughter and Mom.  The whole “metamessage” dynamic is so enlightening.  Glad it was suggested on the blog previously. 

        2. Cyndi, I feel for you in this, so much.
          Maggie came to live with us when she was 11. Having had all boys I was thrilled to have a girl in the house. But she and I were so very different. It didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I was constantly blaming myself, imagining that if I could stop being annoyed with her things would improve. When I came home from the hospital after Daniel, I didn’t care anymore about any of the small stuff, I desperately wanted things to be better, I wasn’t annoyed anymore,  didn’t have the energy. But you know, things didn’t get better, in many ways they worsened. I knew then that so much of what I had imagined was under my control, things I felt if I could just do them better everything would improve, were never under my control in the first place. I suppose if I spent that time I spent berating myself crying out in prayer understanding, really acknowledging that I had no power, who knows?
          But even in this imagining I see my desire to be in control! Ugh…such hard stuff!
          I will be praying for you and Emma, right now and as God lays you on my heart.

          This came to me while I was praying:

          “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

        3. Thank you so much!! I’m so humbled by both your kind words!  I will get that book!  That vs. Chris! Thank you! PERFECT 🙂 . 

  3. 9. How do you, with young children, teach them obedience without crushing their spirit and provoking them to give up? Give an illustration of how you get to the heart.
    I think it is so important to come against what the child is doing (action or inaction) and not the child’s self (spirit).  An example to clarify, my granddaughter (2 1/2 years) a couple weeks back came over to where I was sitting and as she laid her head on my lap bit my leg…not a hard bite, but it still hurt.  I expressed genuine pain…”ouch, that hurt, you bit me” (maybe a touch exaggerated 🙂 ); she was aware that her action had hurt me and was obviously sad and repentant.  I told her that biting hurts and she had hurt Grammy, and she should not bite Grammy or anyone else.  I don’t ever want her to think that she is a “naughty” or “bad” girl; because she chooses a bad behavior does not mean the bad behavior defines who is is or could be.  I know this is a really simplistic example, but the point I am trying to make is that my efforts in discipline were to address what my children were doing and not to attack who they were/are.  
    Side note, I was pretty vigilant in what I allowed my children to watch on television, read, etc.  Example, they were not allowed to watch Rugrats…I felt that the manner in which the cartoon children treated their parents and others was highly disrespectful.  I didn’t want my children viewing a show where disrespect was being modeled and glorified. 

    10. Read Proverbs 23 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you. Amplified Version
    “17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long.
    18 For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.”

    As a family we have had quite a bit of trouble and hardship. A doctor I woke for 20 years ago once remarked that it seemed like a black cloud followed us around. I have wondered at times about ungodly friends, who live life how ever best suits them without regard to God at all and nothing very bad ever seems to come near to them. I don’t know if I have envied them, but I have pondered this. 
    Continuing to worship God and be reverent all the day long can be a struggle when we are in a desert place. I take comfort that Jesus has borne our grief, carried our sorrow, and understands our frame. The surety of Heaven has been made real to me because of suffering, such a Hope really is an anchor for my soul, no matter what happens now, soon and very soon I am going to see The King!

    1. Chris, your testimony here of continuing to see the true HOPE and ANCHOR of your soul in the midst of your trials is a blessing to me.

  5.  ^worked for 20 years ago!

  6. Chris – what a beautiful entry for my heart this morning!  I can SO relate to that “black cloud” and have had friends comment much the same about the life I’ve lived!  And that was before the past 2 and half years, when it sometimes seems as though the foundations have truly crumbled and my heart is in a million pieces……and I KNOW that others here can relate.  Time and time again I would turn to my old friend, Psalm 73 …..verses 16&17 say this:  “But when I though how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”  Oh my….that little word “until” is so crucial!  In your last paragraph you have captured the very essence of that Psalm!  “Continuing to worship God and be reverent all the day long can be a struggle when we are in a desert place.  I take comfort that Jesus has borne our grief, carried our sorrow, and understands our frame.  The surety  of Heaven has been made real to me because of suffering, such a Hope really is an anchor for my soul, no matter what happens now, soon and very soon I am going to see the King!”   Surely you were thinking of the song Andrea’ Crouch used to sing so beautifully??  “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King!….”   Indeed, the Scriptures sing continually of this great Hope that we have!!  My pastor has been teaching through the book of Hebrews these past weeks….oh my, how unfathomably great is our Jesus!!  Chris, I so appreciate how you cut to the chase and live out this hope!  Elisabeth Eliott used to speak of offering our sorrows back to God as a pleasing sacrifice – seeing how you have done this and continue to walk this road of sacrifice is more meaningful to me on my journey home than you can ever know.  Thank you.  

    1. Chris and Jackie ~   What life-giving words here this morning from both of you.   Thank you.
      When I arrived at my dad’s assisted living apartment yesterday morning I found this card for me with this verse on it (left by one of the staff there who is a believer):
      “He said, ‘Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me’,  and so He became their Savior.     In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them, In His love and mercy He redeemed them;  He lifted them up and carried them…..”    Isaiah 63:8-9
      I bumped into an old friend at the health food store a few days ago and she said something to me that has stuck:
      When the black clouds come  ~    SING.      
      Through It All we are continuing to learn to trust in Jesus.

      1. Nila, I love that God is so near to you during this hard time with your dad, using his people, to comfort you!

        1. ditto to Chris’ comment, Nila…

      2. Nila – how kindhearted our Father has been proving Himself to be to you on this HARD journey with your dad.  Those Isaiah verses are really something, aren’t they?  That word “distress” is so vivid.  That place of deep grief that there are no words for really.  To think that He shares in our distress.  Such a strange but real comfort in that….and then He carries us.  I can so picture Him, carrying us, weeping along the way……and then your friend in the health food store – did she hit the mark or what?  SING.  That is you to the core!  🙂  And oh, the Spirit’s care to remind you to let yourself GRIEVE…..to feel the distress in your bones….and to SING.  Wow.  He is good.  

    2. You strengthen me too Jackie that psalm came to me and that was the song I had in mind, thanks for ‘getting’ me 🙂

      No more cryin there,
      We are going to see the King
      Hallelujah, hallelujah,
      We’re going to see the King
      Should there be any rivers we must cross
      Should there be any mountains we must climb
      God will supply all the strength that we need
      Give us strength till we reach the other side.
      We have come from every nation, God has already signed our name. Jesus took his blood and he washed my sins… he washed them all away. Yet there are those of us who have laid down our lives but we all shall meet again on the other side… soon and very soon.

      Should there be any rivers we must cross,
      Should there be any mountains we must climb,
      God will supply all the strength that we need,
      Give us grace ’til we reach the other side.
      We have come from every nation,
      God knows each of us by name.
      Jesus took His blood and He washed our sins,
      And He washed them all away.

      Yes, there are some of us,
      Who have laid down our lives,
      But we all shall live again,
      On the other side.

      1. Chris – beautiful!  Thanks for sharing the words here….how strengthening for our souls.  🙂  My mom used to LOVE to sing that song….and now she’s been with the King for all these (nearly 27) years….but the blink of an eye in eternity!  Oh the power of the blood of Jesus!  

  7. 8. What are the basic teachings of Proverbs 23:13-15. See also Proverbs 19:18. To discipline your children in order to save them from hell. I like 19:18 in amplified: Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and set yourself to his ruin. This addresses selfish discipline vs wise discipline. It also addresses self-control And perspective that each child has their own journey. Our task is not to “make them do what we want them to do” (this would be seeking glorification for the parent) but to teach them a soft, teachable heart and of the love of God and to seek Him…..
    9. How do you, with young children, teach them obedience without crushing their spirit and provoking them to give up? Give an illustration of how you get to the heart. I am still in the trenches of this. My husband and I started wrong and I was an angry mom. Since the Lord has changed me and started moving in me, we have had to step back and re approach discipline, which has not been easy and there is much to heal in me and my oldest’ relationship. I like what Nanci said and agree – addressing the behavior not the person. You are not defined by your sin, it is not your identity. And talking about behavior and God’s love and my love for them outside of discipline times is so very important. Self confession, too, shows that this is something we all go through and doesn’t change the beauty God put in each of us, indeed confession is beautiful because it gets rid of the nasty sin crust and let’s the Lord expose His beauty that He created in each of us.
    During times of discipline I discuss the “sin beneath the sin” with them. (They are old enough to comprehend this.) you bit your brother, yes, but why? The real sin is the selfishness that prompted the biting (Paul Tripp’s 5 questions come in very handy here the best of which is “What were you trying to accomplish?). We use images like the vine for clarity. When we weed the garden we talk about this, or when we prune the cosmos or tomato plants…. and we pray. I pray, pray, pray, pray for their hearts. Because I cannot get to their heart but the Holy Spirit can move and give wisdom in those times of discipline and in other times to speak of His beauty and to love on them so they know they can do nothing to have God (nor I) love them more… Or less. I still struggle with a desire for my kids to be good enough to not need discipline (really?! We’ve done this 542 times!) but thinking in context of a garden and the need for constant work to produce fruit and the constancy of parents, and willingness of parents to walk the path with the individual children….breath and continue walking. Do the good work God has called me to. When I engage and invest my heart is much calmer than when I try to “not have to discipline.”

    1. Oh Jill…what a heart you have; the love for your children and the Lord is so evident.  Thank you for the reminder of the “sin beneath the sin”… I think I need to write it in my date book to keep it in the forefront of my mind (my date book is on my desk every day with me) and the iceberg picture posted in my work area and strategically at home will be a good reminder.  Thank you, Jill…

    2. Jill, so much wisdom here in your post. I, too, began as an angry mom. I was selfish and I can see now that my anger came from an idol of comfort and I was no longer able to do what I wanted, when I wanted. I believe also my anger was rooted in an idol of control. I assumed I would be able to “control” the behavior of my child. It is painful for me to look back to those early years of parenting with my firstborn. Thanks to God that He changed me.

    1. We are Gods creation. A good creater does not create beings that are ALL bad. Dont you think that there is a place in every person that longs for the Garden, longs for before the fall. Even if they do not see it as that. just as there is a God sized hole in our hearts I think that there is also a knowing deep down inside if every created child of God that this is not how it was meant to be. We were created for goodness and perfection. the fall left our souls spliced open to sin and falleness unable to ever find perfection but it also left our souls longing for just that.

    2. Dee, thanks for the reminder on Susan’s question.  I had not seen it and did just attempt an answer to Susan right now.  NOT that I think I “have the answer”….but my thoughts on this tend to lean toward God’s common grace and how that plays out in our world on so many levels…..just my thoughts……

    3. I googled common grace because I was thinking about Susan’s question, I thought this article was helpful ”

      “God’s Spirit does not only function as a non-saving ennobling force in the world, but also as a non-saving restraining force in the world. This is not the Spirit working as a converting or sanctifying agent but rather working to give wisdom, courage, creativity and insight—another facet of common grace.” 


      1. Chris and Jackie, thank you for the reference to common grace. God is so good and we are so undeserving. Made me think of my prodigal daughter and how she has been a recipient of God’s grace despite of.

      2. Chris – THANK YOU for this article!  After I had responded to Susan, I too googled common grace and read this article!  I was thinking later that I should have shared it and then I look this morning and presto!, there it is.  I thought it was very helpful and applicable.  🙂  

        1. Jackie, we seem to be tracking together this week 🙂
          I had read the article on Wednesday and thought I should post it, the house I spent the day at had no wi-fi, when I saw your comment I realized I had continued to think about the concepts it presented so I went back and retrieved the article so I could post it. 

  8. 10. Read Proverbs 23 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.
    v. 10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless. For their defender is strong, he will take up their case against you.
    I have marked this verse on my Bible 16 years ago as I thought and prayed for my Mom. She has been a widow now for 27 years and I have seen God be her defender against the enemy and those who could have taken advantage of her.
    v. 26 Again a reference to the heart My son give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways. Oh that my heart is wholly the Lord’s every day! And yet He is faithful when it is not. He woos me continually and I am thankful for that.

  9. 12. In America and in the western world, persecution as been, as Keller says, more like a “sneer” than actual losses of freedom or life — but that is changing. How would you apply verse 10 to your life?

    I have to be steadfast. I need to sink into truth even when being a follower of Christ doesn’t feel good, when I am misunderstood, or made to feel foolish because of my faith, or when sin is exposed in me. I have seen ugly things happen in churches, believers skewering one another. When I am called to suffer for righteousness sake, I will need to choose to remain in the life giving Vine, to see my identity in Christ, to believe truth and not lies, in order to keep moving forward on the path.

  10. 11. Why, according to Proverbs 24:1-5 should we not envy evil men?
    Evil wo/men are trouble…they incite violence and discontent, they spin truth or blatantly lie to cause dissension.  They don’t seek peace, goodwill, or understanding.
    12. In America and in the western world, persecution as been, as Keller says, more like a “sneer” than actual losses of freedom or life — but that is changing. How would you apply verse 10 to your life?
    Last weekend I listened to a wonderful interview with Christin Ditchfield on persevering.  Christin said (my words) that if you can’t persevere when times are okay (when you are sitting), when times get tough how will you persevere then (how will you stand)?  I thought about this at length after hearing it in the interview and this question has brought it to mind again…the importance of learning from, adapting to, resolving (if possible), etc. the small challenges in life so that when a crisis comes you will be equipped for it as best you can be.  The Lord is equipping us for the big crisis through the smaller challenges…I believe it part of His provision.  We can choose to be strengthened or to cringe at the small challenges; the truth will be known when the crisis comes and all strength will be needed.  I don’t want to falter when trouble comes, I want to have strength…Lord, may it be so.

  11. 9. How do you, with young children, teach them obedience without crushing their spirit and provoking them to give up? Give an illustration of how you get to the heart.
    This is such a hard question! I think you have to appeal to them young; although I think my husband and I did this and they “turned” to other ways. We felt like we disciplined….when our kids disobeyed there were consequences. Even as teens, even though they were running “wild;” we would make sure we weren’t contributing. For example, when my son skipped 2 driving lessons, we told him we would not pay for another class. He ended up not getting his drivers license until he was 19.
    I suppose the “correct” answer is focus them on what Jesus would do; how Jesus would behave, to get them to behave; gently correcting while being firm and pointing to Him. Once again, I thought we did that. But our children have strayed and their hearts are not that way now 🙁 some of their decisions are disappointing. Maybe one day?

    1. Laura dancer, I love your honesty here about how discouraged you are regarding how you thought you did the right thing in disciplining your kids but they have turned other ways. Sometimes kids just turn their backs on God, at least for a while and all we can do is pray. My heart goes out to you in your pain. There are no guarantees that kids will turn out right even if we do everything right; just that God loves us. Life is hard. There is a LOT about God’s ways and how HE is working that we do not see now.

    2. oh Laura, praying right now that you will not carry a burden of guilt, and that you will not lose hope. Such a heavy burden, I’m praying for your kids again now

  12. So many great responses here, I haven’t felt the need to add my own, but as I looked at #9, I wanted to share this. After early parenting years spent focused on behavior, I daily stress that we are not training them to be perfectly obedient, but quick repenters. In my mind my goal of discipline, is to make a disciple, a follower of Christ. I think it’s so key that we, and they, look at their hearts as what motivates their behavior.  So yesterday both my kids came to me back-to-back with things to confess, both were sincerely repentant, a rare thing with one of mine. My husband has been out of town & working late the last 2 weeks and I am exhausted, but I was so wanting to give them “something”. So I got them both & read them an email I’d just read from Paul Tripp, so fitting, on obedience:
    “Let’s put the bad news and the good news together. The Apostle Paul writes, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but that’s only half of the story. He continues, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25, ESV)A propitiation is an atoning sacrifice. The sacrifice of Jesus appeased the wrath of God and created a reconciliation between God and all who place their faith in him. In more simple words: you don’t need to obey to gain God’s favor.Don’t misunderstand me: grace doesn’t make obedience optional. Obedience is the life-long calling for followers of Christ. But, your obedience is never a fearful payment. It’s a hymn of gratitude to the God who met you where you were and did for you what you could not have done for yourself.Your obedience doesn’t purchase God’s love for you; Christ’s blood is the only purchase that could do that. Rather, your obedience is a thankful expression that you understand the significance of God’s love being placed on you.So today, humbly admit that you’re more messed up than you think you are. And commit once more to a lifestyle of obedience, not because Jesus needs you to, but because you understand how much you need Jesus.”
    I finished by sharing of of my own “mess ups” from the day and we made a huddle and sang the doxology, as our reminder that obedience is a “hymn of gratitude”

    1. Good job, Lizzy. Thank you for your good example to those of us learning how to discipline children well.

      1. No Diane, I really am a terrible example! But I was thankful God provided Paul Tripp’s devotion at just the right time! It reminded me that what my kids need to hear, is really what I need to hear–the Gospel, over and over, and over…I am more like them than not. The older I get the more I realize I will never “master” sin, I can only hope to get better at admitting my need for grace! And I do think, the more I see how very far I fall short–and recently I just feel more and more aware of my own sinfulness–maybe it is helping me to be more patient with their sin and grace giving…or maybe I was just having a “good” moment! But still, I can learn from the sweetness that comes in a grace-filled moment like that. Unfortunately, it’s rare for me to be so grace-giving, especially with my harder one…but I pray they become a regular part of our daily life–something they remember about life in this family…a prayer to pray. 

  13. Dawn, Chris & Jackie, all had such good responses to Susan’s question. Great article from Keller, Chris. I’m a bit foggy brained so this may not make sense!, but it made me think of 1 Cor. 13- (v.3) “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” It struck me that this verse says it IS possible to do these good things without love, (which is without God because God is love), but nothing of lasting value is gained. The actions are good, but not of eternal value–maybe? or not… 😉 time for sleep!

    1. Lizzy – wow, I don’t think you are thinking fuzzy at all!  I love what you were able to pull out of 1 Cor 13:3 and how with this example you have shown us again that the Scriptures are beautifully WHOLE and consistent and of one fabric.  God’s Word is such an incredible adventure with so many twists and turns…..and yet the story continually showcases CHRIST and the power of His resurrection!  I just now pulled out this verse and passage in my Bible and I think you are correct that the inference is that indeed amazing and sacrificial deeds can be done without eternal value.  How sad beyond words.  🙁  And what a contrast Paul gives us just a couple of chapters on in 1 Cor. 15:54  “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”   Thank you Lizzy for this powerful reset for my morning!  

  14. 10. Read Proverbs 23 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.
    “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    As I grow older, I realize how important it is to enjoy things other than work; even though we need money to live, being with our family and continuing to learn about the world around me are key to a full life. It’s hard because we can get caught up in the world “rules” and forget ourselves. Here an example….my husband has a weird spot on his arm that really needs to be checked by a dermatologist. His (new) job as a financial controller requires him to be present and working longer hours during the first few days of each month. I called to make the appointment yesterday (because he kept forgetting), and they can’t see him until October 30. I told them it was really important to see a doctor sooner than that and asked for a referral to another office. This spot has been there a couple of months already. They came back with an appointment for this coming Tuesday at 4 pm. He is telling me he won’t go because he can’t leave the office. It’s the first of the month. I didn’t cancel the appointment yet; I’m hoping to convince him between now and then to go to the appointment and then go back to work. Please pray he will accept this and follow through….I do believe this is serious and I really need him to be around for me in the near future :/

  15. Thanks to Dee, Cyndi, Jackie, Chris – for the great article, and Dawn’s response on comments page 1…this quote from the article I really liked: “What appears as a discovery is actually the Creator opening His book of creation and revealing His truth.” I’ve said something similar often to my kids, that when they are studying math, or physics, or chemistry…the things they are learning, the laws of physics, for example, were set in place by God and He has allowed humans to discover them and use them.

    1. Amen Susan!  I still do the same with my own “kids”!  When God gives an opportunity I go for it….whether it bugs them or not!  🙂  And I agree that the way Keller worded this concept painted a beautiful picture.  How I love to think of our bountiful Creator bending low to delight in our discoveries of His marvelous creation!  🙂  

  16. 9. How do you, with young children, teach them obedience without crushing their spirit and provoking them to give up? Give an illustration of how you get to the heart.
    Amazing how time fades the memory…or it may be that I’m over 50 now:))) My youngest is now 15, but I think this applies to older children as well. I need to remember to not attack my child as a person. Crushing their spirit would be things like name calling, like “You’re a liar!” Instead of saying something like, “I know you have lied to me…”
    I do remember something that Josh MacDowell said about “relationship, relationship, relationship”. He said that discipline doesn’t work without relationship. Sometimes the child’s behavior leads to serious consequences, and he said that if you don’t have that relationship underneath, the child will resent it and usually rebel. I tried hard to have a good relationship with my kids by spending time with them; when they were little, playing with them, volunteering at their school, physical affection, etc… I do remember one example of when my son was about 7 years old. He got off the school bus one day and went out to play with his friend, Elizabeth, who lived across the street. Another boy who lived across the street came home on his bus and I happened to be looking out the window and I saw my son and his friend throw a bucket of water at this boy. Elizabeth ran inside her house and my son came inside. I told him that I had seen what they did, and I said come on, let’s go. He said where are we going? I said we are going over to Alex’s house and you are going to apologize to him. He said what about Elizabeth – it was her idea! I said I don’t care whose idea it was but you participated, and I asked him to think about how  it would make him feel if someone did that to him, and that he needed to accept responsibility for his actions and apologize. We went over and Alex and his mom came to the door, and my son apologized to them both, and it was well received. I told him that I was proud of him for owning up to what he had done.

  17. I wanted you to know I am still here and have been doing the study and reading your answers! My Chrome went down so I am using a new browser and it seems to refresh the page on it’s own so I lose my work-but the time with God is sweet.  I think it would be best if I started doing it on a Word document. 🙂

  18. 11. Why, according to Proverbs 24:1-5 should we not envy evil men? 
    Evil men have houses that are full of trouble and violence, whereas wise men have houses that are strong and filled with riches of many kinds (this doesn’t have to be money…)
    12. In America and in the western world, persecution as been, as Keller says, more like a “sneer” than actual losses of freedom or life — but that is changing. How would you apply verse 10 to your life?
    We just woke and my husband tells me there was a policeman executed in Texas. He was getting gas and was shot in the back of the head. I have not had time to check the report. I hope it isn’t true. Our world is changing for sure. We are being killed for being Christians and for doing our jobs as policemen now. I believe it’s because our leaders and the media have portrayed us as those we are not, and no one corrects them or sets them straight! All cops aren’t “racists,” but because of 1-2 incidents, we now must be afraid of cops. Ridiculous! It’s like saying all teachers are having affairs with their students….1-2 do, and the rest of us are branded. It stems from an uneducated population (overall). Okay, rant over.
    Verse 10 says to stand up and fight! I like it! Woo-hoo! Don’t let “them” win. I have signed up for a “protest” of sorts, on November 1 at our state house, to go and pray and stand together against those who are killing Christians around the world (ISIS). There are these peaceful events in each state, although I don’t know where. NH is small and I can be in the capitol in 45 minutes or so. I found out about it on a Facebook page called “Ribbons for Rescue.” It’s a local “chapter” of a national group (I think) who are trying to support those who are “underground” saving those who are persecuted. I’m pretty sure each state has an event, but here is the link to the group I follow. Maybe there is more info about other groups there?
    It is a way to stand up in the face of adversity. 

  19. We are taking our youngest son to college this week, and I started work as well….crazy busy needless to say. Doing my best to crank through the study but haven’t read many comments. Sorry…long road trip today so I will try to get through some then!
    13. How do you apply verses 11 and 12?
    Teach people about Jesus when ever I can. Stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves (unborn babies, the poor, etc.).
    14. Why should you not rejoice when your enemies fall according to verse 17?
    If you keep reading through verse 18 it tells you God will be displeased with us. He doesn’t want us to take His focus away from the situation at hand.

    1. Laura, just caught this – praying for you in leaving your son at college (in PA, if I remember right)…that he will make a good adjustment there and for you…it’s hard to leave them and go home without them!

  20. 10. Read Proverbs 23 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.
    I have verse 18 marked in my Bible as my brother-in-law, Jeff’s, verse, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” I found out from his sister, I believe, that this was a special verse to him, and I learned this after he died. He struggled most of his life with alcoholism and drug addiction. My sister had divorced him and he was trying to get it together, with God’s help. I saw him get baptized at church and less than 2 weeks later, he died. He had been at an AA meeting and had slipped on ice and hit his head. I had a hard time, then, for a while, with this verse, because it seemed to me that his hope had been “cut off”. From the testimony he gave when he got baptized, there is no doubt that he had faith in Christ. While it is so hard to accept that things don’t always work out or turn out well in this life, when we have put our hope in God, we do have this future hope that will be fulfilled and will never be taken away. I like to think of Jeff in heaven, free from the addictions that messed up his life so badly.
    11. Why, according to Proverbs 24:1-5, should we not envy evil men?
    In essence, keeping company with them will make you sick…imagine the conversation described here…plotting violence, talking about causing trouble – it would make you feel sick inside. Don’t envy them for what they have. In contrast, the house built with wisdom is a pleasant place to be.
    12. In America and in the western world, persecution has been, as Keller says, more like a “sneer” than actual losses of freedom or life – but that is changing. How would you apply verse 10 to your life?
    “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!”  I don’t think that I should apply this in this way, saying, “When trouble comes, I will be strong!” Because I can be weak and falter if I am afraid. I don’t have the strength to face persecution if and when it comes. I need to apply this in this way: to admit that I cannot be strong in my own strength but asking God to be my strength and to keep me from faltering. Also, to be building intimacy with Him now, before trouble comes.

    1. Susan,  your answer to No. 11…is an answer to prayer!
      My nephew Jason. ..who is legally blind…now 18 years old, is asking me how he can deal with classmates and his family cussing and using the Lord’s name in vain constantly.  He hurts him to have to hear it all the time. He loves the Lord so much and is wise beyond his years.  He still has no friends really and can not drive…so girls don’t care for him either. He envy’s those that have a car and a girl…his senior year.
      He says many are causing trouble for others… But he says he has the Lord to give him strength..and they do not.
      I want him to read Proverbs 24:1-5…and your comment.  Thank you!

      1. Oh Joyce, what a hard place Jason is in! But, I am sure that having YOU in his life is a real blessing and encouragement because you understand suffering so well and he sees how you persevere in your faith. I will pray for Jason now.

        1. Thank you so much Susan

    15. Read Proverbs 24:
    “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    I am held up by God over and over again, if I am not wicked.

  22. I have been working on #9 for over an hour. 🙁  My page keeps refreshing and I have to keep rewriting it..I am going to have to do it on Word.

  23. Tim Keller’s message again was spot on!
    Success or adversity can either darken your heart or make you wise but will not leave you where you are.
    Success or adversity reveals who you are…the evil in your heart in general; the idols in particular.
    Oh, that I would seek to be wise indeed and not let my heart be darkened and act and be a fool.
    My heart is welling in gratitude for what Jesus has done for me. He has passed the true test for me!

  24. Chris–what you shared for Cyndi about Maggie was so helpful to me. “I suppose if I spent that time I spent berating myself crying out in prayer understanding, really acknowledging that I had no power, who knows?” Great reminder too that my tendency to berate myself has control beneath it…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

  25. 13. How do you apply verses 11 and 12?
    These verses could apply in this way: telling others about Jesus and what He has done for them, but most of all, praying for the unsaved, because my words cannot save anyone, only God can open their eyes. I kind of see a “twist” in verse 11…the gospel…Jesus was “led away to death” and He was “staggering toward slaughter”, yet there was no rescue for Him because through it, we were being rescued and held back from slaughter.
    I think this verse could also apply to confronting a believer with their sin in an attempt to turn them around, back to the Lord. We are told to not “stick our heads in the sand” and ignore the needs of others as God doesn’t buy that excuse.
    14. Why should you not rejoice when your enemies fall according to verse 17?
    Because that kind of attitude in my heart is sinful – to rejoice or gloat when someone who is my “enemy” – someone I may not especially care for or who has hurt me, suffers a misfortune. God may decide to have pity on them. I think this is saying that I’m never to think things like, “This happened to them because he or she deserves it and God is punishing them.” It’s not for me to think I know better than God, or to make assumptions like that.
    15. Read Proverbs 24 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you.
    Verse 14, “Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” This was a repeat of Proverbs 23:18. Where is hope to be found? It must be in Jesus, who is Wisdom. It is not to be found in putting my hope in the things of this world.
    I like the example found in verses 30-34, about how Solomon passed the field of the lazy man and saw how run-down everything was. What struck me was this: “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw…” Solomon is so observant and he doesn’t just shake his head at the lazy man, but he takes it to heart and learns a life lesson from what he sees. That is a wise thing to do.