Learn to Work Well (Proverbs 14)

Pro 14:1, 4, 23 NKJV The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands. … (4) Where no oxen [are], the trough [is] clean; But much increase [comes] by the strength of an ox. … (23) In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter [leads] only to poverty.

Dear Daughter, when I was in college I got used to the habit of cleaning my truck every weekend. I didn’t grow up in a family that cleaned out the vehicles very often. In fact my grandparents had several vehicles they just let go and didn’t maintain. So when they finally stopped running they were pushed to the side and a new vehicle was purchased. Their house looked like a junk yard. Reflecting back, my grandfather was probably clinically depressed and self medicating with alcohol.

The way I got started cleaning out my vehicle every weekend was thought a friend at college. He was cleaning out his car and asked if I wanted to clean out my truck to. He didn’t realize it, but by encouraging and teaching me this habit he probably rescued me from a cycle of depression as well. Because until that time I didn’t realize the value of maintaining the things that would maintain me. My friend used to always say, “take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you.”

There are many things in life that I pray you are blessed to take care of. Perhaps one day you will be blessed with a husband and family. There will be small thing you can do that will help you maintain and build your household. These same small things if neglected will tear your family apart. Its your responsibility to seek joy in doing the small things (like family prayer time, cleaning up, encouraging one another, taking time for gratitude, etc.) well. It won’t only be a blessing to those around you, it will bless you more than you know.

It’s a blessing to pick up toys, fold laundry, clean cars, power wash sidewalks, feed animals, clean up after animals, cut grass, clean house, make our beds, and all the other little things we do along the way. There is profit in it every time. Cleaning and maintaining a car demonstrates our gratitude for having a vehicle. Making the bed demonstrates our gratitude for having a bed.

Sharing my grandparents DNA I’m prone to fits of depression as well. I know that for some folks the issues are deeper than what I’ve faced and a chemical solution to a chemical problem might prove very helpful. But I’ve found that when I’m most prone to depression is when I let the small things go. So I’ve learned to be diligent about making my bed, cleaning out my vehicle on the weekend, etc. Doing these small things well has become an act of gratitude and worship for me, knowing that God had endorsed a healthy work ethic.

To be sure there are days we should rest (one in seven) but there are also days where we should work (six out of seven). I encourage you to work well to the glory of God.

Father, Thank you for the blessing of raising my children. I ask for wisdom for my wife and I in leading our children and guiding them. I pray that you would allow us the grace of finding our fulfillment in putting our hands to work in whatever ways you have called us to. I pray that my children will have a good work ethic and see the way to worship you in work six days a week and in rest one day a week. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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A Companion of Fools Will Be Destroyed (Proverbs 13)

Pro 13:20,NKJV He who walks with wise [men] will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

Dear Son, There were a few years of my life when I lived in rebellion. My parents often didn’t know what I was up to and I would stay with a friend and we’d go drink. The stupidest thing I ever did was to ride in a car with an older man who would drive us around while he was drinking. One night I had too much alcohol and threw up all over my friends. They ended up putting me in back of pick up and driving me around for hours shirtless on a cold January night. I started blacking out and so they ended up propping me up on a strangers dirty toilet where I spent the rest of the night. Looking back, I had most of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and I really needed medical attention but my friends were all underage and ignorant of what was happening.

I look back and think that there was a night that I was so close to death, not just because of what I had done, but because my friends were fools. They didn’t have enough sense to really help me when I needed it. Instead they threw me in the back of a truck until I had (or nearly had) hypothermia only to prop me up on a strangers dirty toilet. I’m grateful that I never really got all my memories back from that night, but one thing I do remember is that my friends would have been my downfall.

In college I became intentional about making friends. I tried to find the guys and girls who were making good grades, who were honoring the Lord, and making a difference in the world. Through their peer pressure I did crazy things like study, feed the homeless, get out of my comfort zone and go to another country to share the gospel and so much more. Many of those friends still remain my friends today and have reached out in real and tangible ways when I have needed them.

Who you chose to be your friends matter. Choose good and godly friends. Avoid foolish friends.

Father, Thank you for the grace of being a dad. I pray for each of my kids and ask that they would form real and lasting friendships with godly young people. I pray that they are an encouragement and blessing to their friends. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Choose Your Words and Your Friends Carefully (Proverbs 12)

Pro 12:15-16 NKJV The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel [is] wise. (16) A fool’s wrath is known at once, But a prudent [man] covers shame.

Dear Son, this world is full of people who are right in their own eyes. Our culture has shifted to a godless society similar to the kingless society we find in the book of Judges. We need to remember how the book of Judges ends. When everyone does what is right in their own eyes, they call for justice for the rape and murder of one woman and that justice turns into the near annihilation of an entire tribe of Israel and the forced marriage/rape of over 600 women.

Jdg 21:25 NKJV In those days [there was] no king in Israel; everyone did [what was] right in his own eyes.

In our day, this hyper focus on self leads to the denial of biological realities and seeks to force doctors, who have pledged to, “do no harm,” to mutilate the flesh of prepubescent children. Think on that for just a moment. The voice of the constructed self has more authority that biological reality. When someone is right in their own eyes, they will ultimately destroy themselves or others.

We have moved to a culture that ‘cancels’ things because of one negative personal experience or too often because of a fictitious narrative about those who could suffer. Don’t think the church is immune. I’ve seen pastor’s want to cancel Mother’s Day because a few women who had bad experiences with their mom’s growing up.

The solution is found in having several godly counselors. I’ve always enjoyed the privilege of talking with several men who will counsel me from the scriptures on a given matter. Seek to be one who offers godly counsel and seek to have friends who will guide you to the scriptures rather than affirm your delusions.

Father, Thank you for the privilege of speaking to my children. I pray that they’d receive all the wisdom they can from your word and that they’d act on it. Guide them in this generation to be salt and light. Give them insight in how to live truth and speak truth. Guard their words and guard their close friendships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Don’t Waste Time on Swine (Proverbs 11)

Pro 11:22-23 ESV Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (23) The desire of the righteous ends only in good, the expectation of the wicked in wrath.

Dear son, When we think of a pig’s snout we don’t think of gold rings. You could put a gold ring in a pigs snout but it would be misplaced. Pigs put their noses in the mud! You might put a common metal ring in a pigs nose to help steer them out of the mud, but you wouldn’t give them gold! It would be a waste.

There are some folks who seem trustworthy but they aren’t. There are folks who may look good, but they aren’t good. Just like a gold ring might look nice in a pigs snout. It won’t be long until the nature of the pig comes out and it runs its ring through the mud… that’s just the nature of the pig! There will be people on this earth who lack discretion and aren’t to be trusted with your most precious thoughts, time, or treasures. Don’t give something that is sacred to someone who is profane.

Mat 7:6 NKJV “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

This isn’t just to warn you of the type of people who are out there. You must also decide what type of person you will be. Will you be someone who displays discretion and honors others? Or will you make light of others and their struggles? Will you seek the good or will you stir up hatred and strife? Will you be a producer or consumer?

Father, thank you for the privilege of raising our children. I pray that they would all follow hard after you. I pray that they would become men and women of character and integrity. I ask that they would have discretion and honor those who are worthy of honor. Keep them from profaning the holy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Choose Your Words Carefully (Proverbs 10)

Pro 10:18-21 ESV The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool. (19) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (20) The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. (21) The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Dear daughter, if you look closely my legs and hands are filled with tiny scars. Scars that I could have easily avoided. Most of them I don’t even remember. They started as something small like a splinter but they grew because of how I dealt with those smaller wounds. I was too afraid of the pain of having a splinter removed, so I would often hide them from my parents until they festered with infection. Hiding the splinters never got rid of them, it only made them worse. I needed to have the splinter removed to get better.

It’s the same way with hate. Denying that you hate someone in your heart doesn’t remove it. It only makes it fester and grow into a bigger wound called bitterness. Bitterness creates contempt and the original wound gets bigger and bigger not because of the actual offense, but because we haven’t dealt with it. Jesus reminds us that we shouldn’t hate from our heart but that we should deal quickly with our brothers offenses (Matthew 5:21-24).

Another way I got some of my scars is by overreacting to a small insect bite. I couldn’t stand the itching and so I’d scratch until I bled. Then I couldn’t stand the scab and so I’d pick at it making the hole in my skin bigger and bigger. My parents were always telling me to, “stop picking you scabs!” I know that sounds gross but some people do that with their words. Rather than leaving situations alone or letting people cool down, they step in and stir things up. They pick a side and open fresh wounds around them all because they don’t know how to control themselves or their emotions.

Some people are careful and wise with there speech. They seek to bring healing to those around them. They seek the truth of the matter and educate those around them. They help people with their words.

We all have mouths, but we don’t all know how to use them. You will have to decide if you will be a liar who conceals hatred in their heart, or someone who stirs up trouble in those around them with gossip, and slander or if you will be someone who educates and helps people around them. My prayer is that you will know when to hold your tongue and when to speak. That you will know when to stay silent and search out a matter and when to speak to benefit others.

Father, Thank you for the gift of raising my children. I pray today that you would watch over their lives and guard their hearts from hate. I pray that you would keep them from gossip. And that you’d bless them to be a blessing to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Be Humble and Learn (Proverbs 9)

Pro 9:7-10 NKJV “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked [man only] harms himself. (8) Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise [man], and he will love you. (9) Give [instruction] to a wise [man], and he will be still wiser; Teach a just [man], and he will increase in learning. (10) “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One [is] understanding.

Son, My freshman year of high school we got a new basketball coach. He was hard. He believed in conditioning. I lost 20lbs in just three weeks of practice with the new coach! He also had a different style of coaching. He lead us through a series of drills and plays evert practice. Seldom ever did we just scrimmage like we had in the 8th grade. Some of the guys didn’t like him. They thought practice should be more fun and more like a game. They whined and complained about the new coach. Some never even bothered to learn the new offense or techniques that the coach was teaching us. Those who really listened to the coach and put in the extra effort earned key spots on the team. The guys who critiqued everything and put forth minimal effort either quit or were cut. The difference was in the attitude. Those who became key players were willing to humble themselves and learn, those who got cut, failed to learn from the expertise of the new coach.

Life is a lot like that. I pray that you are one who seeks out correction, learns from others, and is wise. I pray that you won’t be a prideful fool who just criticizes others. Anyone can criticize, but it takes a real man or woman to humble themselves and learn.

You will come across all sorts of folks in life. You may even be in a position to lead people one day. Learn the caliber of the people you lead. Those who are scoffers and criticize aren’t worth much of an investment. They will criticize you, but the problems is with them. Don’t let them get in your head and don’t imagine that you will fix them. Until they humble themselves to learn, they will never change and you’ll be wasting your investment in them.

On the other hand when you find folks who are willing to submit to authority and learn. Invest heavily in them. Their attitude will take your organization far. I’d rather have a teachable team of novices than a well versed team of malcontents any day. Jesus said it like this in Mathew chapter 7:

Mat 7:2-6 NKJV “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (3) “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (4) “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank [is] in your own eye? (5) “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (6) “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Father, thank you for my children and the blessing it is to parent them. I ask that they would be humble enough to learn. I pray that you keep them from pride and malcontent. I pray that they would be quick to examine their own lives and be ready for change. I pray that you give them wisdom in leading themselves and others. I pray that you guard their attitude from becoming someone who scoffs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Better than Rubies (Proverbs 8)

Pro 8:10-13, 31-32 NKJV Receive my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choice gold; (11) For wisdom [is] better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. (12) “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And find out knowledge [and] discretion. (13) The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. … (31) Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And my delight [was] with the sons of men. (32) “Now therefore, listen to me, [my] children, For blessed [are those who] keep my ways.

Daughter, I was working on one of our cars several years ago. I had to pull off one of the front rotors (the part that connects to the tire). I had the tire off, but the rotor wouldn’t come off. I looked everything up on YouTube and saw someone working on a similar vehicle. It was easy for them, but try as I might the rotor wouldn’t come off our vehicle. I even took a sledgehammer to try and pound it off. Finally in desperation I called a friend. My friend had a repair manual for our particular car and he noticed that our vehicle was different than the one in the video. There was an extra nut that needed to be removed. Sure enough we removed the extra (hidden) nut and everything came off like it was supposed to.

So many people go through life trying to fix themselves. They might even look up guides or listen to videos on how to do things, but if they don’t have the truth they will just end up frustrated. The highest aim and the greatest value you can search for in life is genuine wisdom based on the truth. The greatest asset you can have is a character of humility to learn from God who made you with a purpose and designed you to benefit from wisdom. Don’t waste your energy on winging it, seek God’s wisdom.

If you love and fear the LORD, you will be humble. You will hate what he hates. You will search diligently for the right and abhor the wrong. You will hate pride that threatens to take away the gift of wisdom. You will search for truth diligently and prize it above all.

Father, thank you for the privilege of raising my children. I pray that I model humility for them. I pray that they humbly seek truth from you all the days of their lives. I pray that they are blessed and benefit from wisdom. I ask that they would hate the things you hate. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Flee Lust (Proverbs 7)

Pro 7:23 -27 NKJV As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it [would cost] his life. Now therefore, listen to me, [my] children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: (25) Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; (26) For she has cast down many wounded, And all who were slain by her were strong [men]. (27) Her house [is] the way to hell, Descending to the chambers of death.

Dear Son, a snare is a trap that is laid out by forming a loop out of rope or wire. The hunter will bate the snare with food and direct the animal on the path they want the prey to go down by making a funnel. So when the prey comes by it smells the bait, goes down the funneled path and catches itself in the loop. If the animal could see the end from the beginning of the path it wouldn’t get trapped, but as it is it’s appetite blinds it to the dangerous situation.

Lust is a snare. God has given you a natural sex drive for the purpose of sex inside of marriage. Sex is something you should enjoy with your wife alone. In our culture there will be lots of temptations advertised as cheep and easy thrills outside of that context. Pornography is available on every corner of the internet. It may seem like there is no consequence to a indulging your curiosities but do not be deceived pornography is a snare. It will lead you down a path that will ultimately take everything precious in your life away.

The best way to avoid a snare is to not even go down the path. We should flee temptation when it comes. It can be helpful to count the cost. I once had a woman proposition me in a joking matter, “oh we could have an affair.” Immediately my thoughts were turned to how much that would hurt your mom and you kids. Having just seen someone I knew lose their entire family over an affaire caused me to want to run from that situation as fast as I could!

Life is filled with cautionary tales. Sadly the tale shared in Provers 7 is all too common today. I could give you dozens of names of people we know who were seduced into sexual sin and it became a costly snare for them. The point of this chapter is that the place to avoid sexual sin is as soon as you sense it. Flee! Flee! Flee!

There have been occasions where an animal was caught in a snare and weren’t ultimately caught by the hunter. To get out of the snare they had to chew through their own leg. Falling for the snare cost them a limb, but it didn’t cost them their life. If you have already started down the path of pornography there is a way out, but you will need to take drastic measures. Jesus speaks to the drastic measures taken to avoid lust in Matthew chapter 5.

Mat 5:28-30 NKJV “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (29) “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast [it] from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (30) “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast [it] from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

In our context drastic measures to avoid pornography may mean staying off the internet. Using a filtered web browser. Letting someone else set up and password protect settings on your smart devices. Making sure you are in regular community with other believers.

Father, I pray that you guard the hearts of my children from snares the devil sets in our culture. I pray for their purity. I pray for the ability to confess and repent if they should sin against you in this way (Psalm 51). I pray that they would flee temptation and pray against it themselves. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Real Friends Give More Than They Take (Proverbs 6)

Pro 6:1-5 ESV My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, (2) if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, (3) then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. (4) Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; (5) save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Dear Daughter, growing up I was always large for my age and most of my friends were smaller. In 8th grade I was the new kid at school and one of the first guys to befriend me was small and skinny. We weren’t friends long before he asked me, “Do you have my back? Like if we get in a fight or something, do you have my back?” I didn’t want to offend him. I thought this was like a best friends kind of sentiment. I thought he was a pretty alright guy and I really hadn’t made to many other friends yet, so I pledged, “Yes I have your back!” The next thing I know he started running his mouth and hurling insults at this guy he didn’t like! Before I knew it he was yelling at me, “you have my back right?Somehow he had picked a fight that I was supposed to fight. Thankfully I had enough sense to say, “You started this mess, you finish it.

I found out the hard way that my new friend was only my friend for my size. He was really a jerk that just wanted me to fight his battles for him. He thought that if he had a big friend that he could run his mouth off at people he didn’t like. My pledge to have his back was bigger than I had imagined. I had his back, but he certainly didn’t have mine or eh wouldn’t have picked a fight.

Choose your friends wisely. One of the best ways to get yourself in trouble is to have friends who will leave you with all the responsibility. When your friends ask you to take a risk for them that is not your risk to take, they are not your friends. Let me be clear. When they ask you to lie for them, they are not you friend. When they ask to cheat off your homework, they are not your friend. When they ask you to hold on to something that is illegal or forbidden, they are not your friend. They just want to take big risks and leave you being responsible for their irresponsible actions.

Some people in your life will set traps for you like this. They’ll pretend to be your friend in order to get something from you. Real friends give more than they take. Real friends won’t put you in situations where you will get in trouble or in danger. Lose the friends that always seem too needy. Don’t be the friend that is always putting others in an awkward spot to cover for you.

Father, thank you for my children. I pray that you would watch over them today. I pray that you would guard them from predatory “friends” who would seek to use them or take advantage of their friendship. I pray that they would be good friends to others. Watch over their relationships. Let the all seek after you in all they do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youth (Proverbs 5)

Pro 5:15-20 ESV Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. (16) Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? (17) Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. (18) Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, (19) a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. (20) Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

Dear son, my parents read a book to me when I was little about a little boy who was given a dollar. He met a friend who said he’d give the boy two quarters for the dollar. Two is more than one, the boy reasoned and so he made the trade. Another boy offered him three dimes for his two quarters. Three is more than two, the boy reasoned and so he made the trade. Still another boy offered him four nickels for the three dimes. Four is better than three he reasoned, and so he made the trade. Finally a boy offered him five pennies for his four nickels. Five is more than four he reasoned and so he made the trade. He came home to show his father what he had done and it was then that he realized that with every trade he’d lost value. I’m sure the story was intended to teach us the value of a dollar, but there was a deeper lesson as well. We are often tempted to make bad trades in life and we often don’t value some things like we should.

I cannot emphasizes the value of loving one woman all of your life. There will be moments of temptation that come your way all through your life. It is your duty to guard your heart and pursue your wife. When temptation comes your way count the cost and flee. I know men who have traded their entire life for a moment of pleasure. They traded their wife, their children, their income, their respect, their trustworthiness, and some traded their occupation for a few fleeting minutes of pleasure. There is grace for those who have made this costly trade (Psalm 51), but it’s my prayer that you guard your heart.

Let’s focus in on verse 19-20 for a moment. If you are going to truly value your future wife and pursue the wife of your youth above all it means that you will stay away from sexual relationships outside the bond of marriage. You don’t need any competing memories with your marriage bed. You don’t need any old flames to stir up old passions, jealousy or doubt. This means that you will stay away from viewing pornography. You don’t need to peak into someone else’s bedroom. You don’t need the fantasy of sex without commitment. You don’t need your head filled with false expectations or ideas of how to degrade and exploit women.

What do you do when you have natural urges and you aren’t married yet? Use that energy to go to work in building a life for you and the wife of your youth. Too many young men sit around and play video games into their 30s and beyond. Prepare yourself for marriage so when the right woman comes along you already have a job, have a plan, and are able to be married without living off of someone else.

When you are married and temptation comes your way, never despise your wife. Never for a moment imagine her as cruel for not giving you what you want, when you want it. This is a lie from the devil. Committed relationships take some work. The Devil will always offer you two shiny quarters and tell you that he’ll take that dingy dollar off your hands, but you must know that no matter how shiny the coin he offers you, your dollar isn’t dingy and it is worth way more than he is offering. Commit now to have eyes only for your wife. Count yourself blessed everyday. Do the small things in your relationship well. Kiss her on the way out the door in the morning. Open her door. Treat her like your queen. Speak well of her to your children. Speak well of her to your coworkers. Speak well of her often and never run out of good things to say. Pursue the wife of your youth don’t give your energy or attention to any other and you will be blessed. Sometimes work is the mistress the devil offers instead of another woman. Be careful not to pursue so much overtime that you stop pursuing your wife. (And dear daughter too, look for a man like this).

One last word. There are many lies and perversions in our culture. They are given to you by people with an agenda. I’ll be honest, I have an agenda too. I’m your dad, I want the best for you. You are more than a voter to me. You are more than a consumer to buy my goods. You are more than an opinion in a pole to persuade others. You are my son. My interest in you is greater than what this world offers. I’m on your team. I’m your biggest fan. I love you enough that I will not tell you just what you might want to hear. I will tell you what you need to hear. You are more than sexual appetites and animal lusts. Your identity is greater than your sexual urges. You are a man created in the image of God and you have the capacity to withstand sexual temptation (no matter what shape it takes).

Father, Thank you for my precious children. I ask for your blessing on their lives. I pray for their present and future relationships. I ask you to watch over them in their singleness and in their relationships. I pray that they would seek after you and your blessings. I ask Lord that they would live following your wisdom even when that runs counter to the culture. I pray that my wife and I are examples for them to follow. I ask for your grace to be multiplied to my family as we seek after you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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