Better To Be In A Deer Stand In A Blizzard Than At Home With An Angry Woman By The Fire (Proverbs 21)

Pro 21:9, 19 NKJV Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. … (19) Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman.

Dear Son and Daughters, I knew a man who married a woman who had a lot of problems. He thought he was her knight in shinning armor and he’d fix all her problems. He thought if he married her he’d take care of all her problems. But marriage doesn’t work that way. After they were married she still had all her problems. Finally he was so exhausted of trying to be everything for her that he simply quit trying. He just bore her nagging and complaining. To this day he is a bitter old man who is married to a nagging wife who still expects him to do everything for her. There is no peace in their house, even when company is over. He’d rather be outside, in the elements than be home with a woman who is angry all the time.

I suppose both the man and the woman could have gone about things differently. This woman wasn’t likely to change, her husband would always be picking up the pieces, and one day he never envisioned the day that he’d get tired of picking up the pieces. He didn’t see it then, but he sees it now. Marriage doesn’t fix or change people it amplifies the character traits and flaws we already have. The only one who can change how they behave is you.

I also know of a man who worshipped his job. He felt valued and appreciated there and so he worked all the overtime he could. He left his young wife at home with their young children. She rarely ever had any other adult conversations and it seemed like he was never home. When he was home she was bitter all the time. He had done an excellent job providing for his family, but he had done a poor job caring for his wife and children. He didn’t realize the contention at home was something he created. Rather than home being a haven, home became hostile because he forgot to nurture the most important relationships in his life.

The home should be a haven for both husband and wife. It should shelter and nurture both partners. You should seek to make the environment of your home a place where you want to be with your spouse. Too often one partner chases the other out of the house by creating a hostile environment of nagging, nitpicking, and rage. There is something wrong with both husband and wife when a man would rather be outside in the bitter elements than at home with his wife. The way out of that situation is to avoid it to begin with. Before you get married make sure you can navigate difficult issues together and once you are married seek to nurture your relationship with one another.

Look up and agree to Ephesians 5 as being a baseline for your marriage.

Father, Thankyou for the gift of raising my children. I pray that they live in households filled with love built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Give them grace to find the right sort of spouse and grace to live in peace and harmony with one another. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Any Fool Can Start a Quarrel (Proverbs 20)

Pro 20:3-5 NKJV [It is] honorable for a man to stop striving, Since any fool can start a quarrel. (4) The lazy [man] will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and [have] nothing. (5) Counsel in the heart of man [is like] deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.

Dear Son, It’s easier to start a fight than it is to walk away. I know because I started too many and walked away from too few growing up. The middle knuckle on my right hand hold a scar left by the tooth of one of my friends. A fool told me that my friend had pushed me into my locker on purpose. I chased him down the hall to ask why he pushed me and another fool said the word, “Fight!” By the time I caught my friend it seems like the whole school crowded around and chanted that word, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”... I should have walked away at that moment because there was no real reason to fight. That would have been the honorable thing to do, or perhaps not even walk down that hallway. But I didn’t do the honorable thing that day. I struck my friend in the mouth, cut my knuckle, was sent home, got suspended, and still carry the scar to this day.

Fights aren’t just physical. Some folks can create tension in regular work environments by what they say. They offer verbal jousts trying to get a rise out of others. They pick at you and pick at you and should you give into your baser instincts you’d punch them back, but you may have enough resolve to want to keep your job that you don’t physically retaliate, but you offer your own verbal jousts in return. Any fool can enter into such a war of words or picking, but it takes a man with character to walk away when he is being verbally assaulted.

Sometimes you’ll be the one who in your heart of hearts wants to start a quarrel over a minor issue. Maybe someone else left a project incomplete or has made your job harder. You’ll be tempted to curse their name loudly, to gossip about their irresponsibility, or malign their character with your words. You’d do well to remember that any fool can start a fight, but it takes a man to walk away from one. These fights are best avoided when they are never started.

Sometimes its actually harder for fight for peace by walking away than it is to punch someone or say something. The ultimate model we have of a man of peace like this is Jesus who even though he was reviled and mocked willingly went to the cross for our sins. My prayer is that you grow to be more like Jesus every day.

Father, thank you for the grace of speaking to my children. I pray that you will cause them to be a men and women of peace. Let them be so filled with character that when I fight comes to their doorstep they are able to pursue peace. I pray that you give them cooler head and a greater perspective. I ask for a character of godliness to be developed in each child. May your grace ever be present in their lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Finish What You Start (Proverbs 19)

Pro 19:16, 24 NKJV He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, [But] he who is careless of his ways will die. … (24) A lazy [man] buries his hand in the bowl, And will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

Dear Son, follow through. The world if filled with people who start something but never finish. The word we use for that today procrastination. Some people even take pride in the fact that they are procrastinators. Don’t be a procrastinator. Procrastinators use the excuse, “I’ll get to that later.”

Procrastinators begin a project with gusto ready to conquer the world. Their heads are full of ideas ready to be worked out. Yet when they choose one and start to work on it, they feel bored and boxed in. They don’t want to actually do the work to bring their dream to a reality. You see procrastinators are actually lazy.

You never get “the best” from a procrastinator because they wait until the last minute to meet a deadline. They actually then turn that around and use it as an excuse for why something is broken, missing, etc. They imagine that the world is full of sympathy because they had this issue, or something came up, etc. Certainly the ills of life do happen, but they happen to a procrastinator on every project, every time.

Be someone who has follow through. If you commit to do something, do it with all of your might, even when it get’s boring in the middle. Be someone who delights in a finished product (not just ideas). Be one who holds yourself to a higher standard (not one who thinks everyone should empathize because after all you just threw this together 30 minutes ago). Don’t be Lazy.

The reason I guess I’m so hard on procrastinators is that I’ve been one. I almost didn’t graduate college because I procrastinated on delivering my thesis for nearly a year! I always found something more interesting, urgent, fun to do and put off writing my paper until it could be put off no longer. I wonder how much quicker things would have happened if I had the discipline to sit down and work when it wasn’t fun. The irony is that I’ve actually come to enjoy the writing process. It just took work to get me there.

Father, thank you for the grace of speaking truth into the lives of my children. I pray that they wouldn’t be lazy. I pray that they finish what they start. I pray that whatever they put their hand to has purpose and meaning and they feel the pride and joy of hearing “job well done!” when they have completed a task. I ask for your grace to move in their lives to cause them to be productive not just with tasks, but for the kingdom of God. Let them be those who aren’t afraid to attempt the great things that you are calling them too. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Prayer

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How Will You Use Your Words? (Proverbs 18)

Pro 18:2, 4, 6-8, 23-24 NKJV A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. … (4) The words of a man’s mouth [are] deep waters; The wellspring of wisdom [is] a flowing brook. … (6) A fool’s lips enter into contention, And his mouth calls for blows. (7) A fool’s mouth [is] his destruction, And his lips [are] the snare of his soul. (8) The words of a talebearer [are] like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body. … (23) The poor [man] uses entreaties, But the rich answers roughly. (24) A man [who has] friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend [who] sticks closer than a brother.

Dear Daughter, most people just want to be heard. I’ve listened to thousands of people over the years and most are experts at getting to the topic that is most on their heart at that moment. Sometimes it’s about how proud they are as parents. Some times its about heartache and loss. Sometimes its a story about what they just experienced. Sometimes it’s a lie they want you to believe. Most of the time they just want you to hear them.

But we are people too and too often we are striving so hard to be heard that we don’t listen well. Someone once said, “you have two ears and one mouth, use them in proportion.” Not bad advice if you really want to make friends and influence people. Indeed you will make more friends by being a good active listener than by just trying to say what’s on your mind.

We all need to share what is on our minds sometimes but a fool is one who wants to speak their mind without hearing from others. More than making you a good friend, listening will give you insight into others. It will allow you to help people. But even here you need to be careful about who you listen to and the sort of things they say. You don’t need to listen to gossip. You don’t need to listen to liars. You don’t need to listen to scoffers.

The question before you is how will you use your words? I pray that you will be one who knows when to speak and when to be silent. I pray that you listen and prove yourself to be a good friend to those who need one and that others would be a good friend to you. I pray that you will know when to walk away from a conversation and when to stick around and learn something.

Father, Thank you for the gift of being a dad. I pray for my children to know you and walk with you in integrity. I pray that they will know the value of their words. I pray that they will speak and offer validation and affirmation when it is needed. I pray that they will listen well to their friends and that their friends will listen to them. I pray that you guard them from listening to lies, gossip, or even just idle scoffing. Let their words be a refreshment to those around them and always point others to your graciousness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Hold Your Peace (Proverbs 17)

Pro 17:14, 27-28 NKJV (14) The beginning of strife [is like] releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts. … (27) He who has knowledge spares his words, [And] a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. (28) Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; [When] he shuts his lips, [he is considered] perceptive.

Dear Son, there are some things that once you start it’s hard to stop until everything if finished. One of those things is urinating (that is what is intended by ‘releasing water’ in verse 14). To try and stop this task before it’s over may leave you with a greater urgency for release than when you started. So it is with quarrelling. You think you might just say a word about someone and stop, but then they say something back, and so you feel you have to set the record straight and so on. Then it’s not long before other people start picking sides in the quarrel saying things over and over about one another until it seems like there is nothing but hatred and rage.

The best way to stop an unnecessary fight is to make sure you never start one. The best way to avoid starting a fight is to hold your tongue. The world is full of fools who speak to a matter or about a person without understanding. We just lived through the covid-19 pandemic and one of the greatest threats we faced wasn’t the virus itself but people picking sides over issues they didn’t even fully understand. Fools took to social media to spout their opinion about everything.

It can be difficult to hold your peace when you are provoked. There will be times when you feel that you need say something, but it’s better to let it go without comment. It’s wise to learn when something is just not your fight or not worth fighting over. Peace is often won not by appeasing someone else’s wrath, but by holding back your own from ever starting. Win the battle within and you’ll be considered wise. Learn to hold your peace.

Father, thank you for the grace of watching my children grow. I pray that you would build your character in each one of them. I pray that they would all learn to hold their peace. That when they feel the urge to say a word to start a quarrel or gossip about someone that they would have sense to hold off and hold the peace. Give them gracious tongues that build up and don’t tear down. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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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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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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