Day 21: Finding Favor

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee:  bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart; so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”  – Proverbs 3:3-4

Said differently…Don’t let mercy and truth abandon you, rather, hold them close and take them to heart.  Honor God and His favor shall be yours.

In Day 19, we considered the definition of “honor” – that is, to celebrate and recognize; to fulfill an obligation.  “…to honor God is, perhaps, to celebrate and recognize Him openly and proudly, while keeping our obligation to adhere to His commandments.

Note that “love” and “favor” are two different things.  God always loves us and always stands ready for us, yet His favor is granted when we pursue and honor Him.

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about how favor can increase in their life through honoring God and those in authority around them.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for your favor.  I ask that your favor will continue to increase in my life and the life of my daughter, causing us to have great opportunities with you and mankind.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  We need to teach our children how to honor God.  A few suggested examples and topics for discussion:  prayer, worship, tithing, giving of time and talents, testimony, and allowing God into our heart.

Next time, we will consider the importance of wisdom.

Have an amazing day!   And…

Keep it Lit,

T.

 

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Day 20: Unconditional Love

Andy Stanley explains Jesus’ love for us this way:  “If you want to know what He meant when He said: ‘Love one another,’ watch how He loved.”  Amen.

“The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” – Proverbs 10:22

True blessings and riches come to us from the Lord and are without strings or conditions.  God acknowledges our sin – and expects our sin – yet He loves us, awaits us, and longs for a relationship with us.

And yet, He is not above looking down on us, rather, He meets us where we are.

God’s love is perfect and kind – there is no hazing or demand for reciprocation, though He longs for us to open our hearts to Him.

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about what it means to be blessed by God.  Share how God’s blessings come with “no strings attached” and no sorrow.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for your love, favor, and blessings.  Thank you for overwhelming me ad my family with your provision.  We are blessed beyond measure and give all glory to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  View and discuss this short video with your family.  How does Jesus’ love differ from that of the love and “love” that others express for us?   Consider Days 2 and 3.

Our next challenge will focus on Proverbs 3:3-4.  Until then…

Keep it Lit.

T.

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Day 19: Honor Beats Evil

In Day 2, we talked about confronting fear and finding comfort through faith and trust in the Lord.

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall be quiet from fear of evil.”  – Proverbs 1:33

Said simply, s/he who turns to God and keeps His commandments will find peace and safety from evil.  In my mind’s eye, it’s like a spiritual edition of “Rock-Paper-Scissors” yet, in this “game” of life, Honor beats Evil every time.

M46 Project Challenge:  Talk to your children about how God can protect them from evil if they honor God.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving protection.  Thank you for your promise that my child will be quiet from the fear of evil.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  To honor means to celebrate and recognize; as well, it means to fulfill an obligation.  And so, to honor God is, perhaps, to celebrate and recognize Him openly and proudly, while keeping our obligation to adhere to His commandments.   Do we talk with our children enough about the importance of the commandments and the veil of protection from evil that is found in our demonstrated commitment to Him?

Enjoy the weekend ahead!  When we come back here, we will get into Proverbs 10:22.  See you then.

Keep it Lit,

T.

 

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Day 18: Going with Good

On Day 13, we explored “Choosing Friends Wisely”, while we dug into “Right, Not Wrong” two days later.

In Proverbs 4:13-14, we are taught “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go:   keep her; for she is thy life.  Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.”

“Take fast hold” speaks to our need to actively teach our children to recognize good versus bad – and, where “bad” sometimes equates to “evil.”   “Take fast hold” is to intervene.

“…let her not go; keep her, for she is thy life” is an emphatic instruction that sets clear boundaries and demands when applied to the parent:child relationship.  “She is thy life” – to me, this so accurately characterizes the precious gift of a child and our purpose as parents.

And the last part could not be more clear.  Simply, we are told that we are not to follow the wicked or associate with evil.  Period.

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about how to discern good versus bad people.  And the dangers of hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

We cannot be overly conservative or filtered in our conversations with our children about good versus evil.  Nor should we be too protectively measured in our discussion of the consequences of going with the wrong crowd.  Be specific.  Be consistent.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help my child to make wise decisions with her friends, and who she associates with.  Help her not to go into a path of evil.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  How many examples of bad people and the dangers of the wrong crowd can you find in the news and in social media?  And how many examples of good?  For one day, count them – and select those 2-3 examples that can be used to reinforce the importance of making good choices.  And consider those of your own examples, your own personal experiences, your own poor choices, and your own lessons learned – and share them.

Next, we will spend a bit of time contemplating Proverbs 1:33.  Until then…

Keep it Lit,

T.

 

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Day 17: Peace

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

“Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.” – Proverbs 3:30

There’s enough conflict in this world, without our creating any unnecessarily.  We must teach our children not to pick fights or provoke conflict, particularly with those who have not done anything to deserve such.

In today’s social media world, it’s far too easy to lob harsh and critical commentary from behind a keyboard and without personal interaction.  We seem to have traded discussion, interaction, and debate for self-focused “tweeting” and “posting” – all while insulated from the view of our commentary upon impact.  Yet, words still hurt – and are now often conveyed among far broader audiences, left to variable interpretation, and absent value for relationships and resolution.

Perhaps we have become too quick to equate disagreement with offense – many easily offended by many, just as thin skin contributes to easier bruising.

And so, teach to seek understanding, clarity, resolution, and compromise; teach not to seek conflict or battle.  Teach discussion.  Teach listening.  And, for those who choose to “communicate” digitally, teach that “tweets” and “posts” are forever.

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance of not picking a fight with someone.  It’s never good to talk about someone, or pick a fight with someone who has done nothing to you.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me and my daughter to walk in your righteousness by doing the right thing.  Not only you, but to those around us as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Matthew 5:9; Ephesians 4:29

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 16: Consequences

On Day 9, we talked about obedience.  Specifically, we noted that obedience is an act of compliance and submission out of respect for authority – a demonstration of our love and commitment to Him, for which scripture teaches that He will respond with blessing and favor.

And so, what if we aren’t obedient?  “Consequences.”

Consequences are the effect or result of action.  Or, with regard to disobedience, perhaps the effect or result of inaction with respect to specific instruction or established expectations.

“He is the way and the life that keepeth instruction; but he that refuseth reproof errath.”    –  Proverbs 10:17

This passage is teaching that he who follows His instruction is on the path to life, yet he who is disobedient faces the consequences of a path that leads astray (see ESV).

It is important to teach our children that disobedience brings consequences – whether disregarding the instructions of authority figures such as parents, teachers, and coaches, or disobeying Him.  Equally or perhaps more important, our teaching must be met with consistency in that, when our children do disobey, appropriate consequences are applied.

To demonstrate anything less as parents is to fail to prepare them for what awaits them in the “real world.”  Further, it is to fail to teach them that obedience to Him is the very demonstration of love for Him (1 John 5:3).  As we teach them to turn to Him when facing peer pressure (Day 8), to look to Him to guard their heart (Day 7), and to place their fears at His feet (Day 2), it is imperative that we reinforce the importance of obeying His word and will for them – and that there are consequences for disobedience.

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the consequences of not following instruction.  Remind them that the reason why you give them instruction is to help them be successful in life.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help my child to stay in the way of life.  I ask that she always receive your blessings because she keeps your instruction all the days of her life.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Revisit Days 5 and 9, as well as Exodus 20.  How often do we reacquaint ourselves with the commandments expected of each of us?  In the context of Modeling & Leading (Day 6), do we “Correct with Purpose” (Day 5) – not only with regard to our children’s disobedience, but also our own?

Until tomorrow…

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 15: Right, Not Wrong

“Be not wise in thine own eyes:  fear the Lord, and depart from evil.  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”  Proverbs 3:7-8

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about always doing the right thing.  Sometimes the best decision is to walk away, and not be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Share a story of your experience and always do the right thing.

Tolstoy said, “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”  Indeed.

As we explored in our discussion of peer pressure, we know that our children will be tempted and challenged in their own beliefs.  But we must reinforce to them that He is always with them and will be their source of strength when they stand firm for what they know is right and true.

Likewise, we must teach them that poor choices have consequences – perhaps even penalties.  And, even if the majority are sharing in the poor decision, as Tolstoy described, those penalties will still apply.  There is no exemption or mercy for “following the crowd.”

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help my daughter to be able to leave bad situations and stay under your arc of safety.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Have we taught (and demonstrated) that the best strategy to select “right” and the best weapon against “wrong” is prayer?  Do our children feel comfortable (and welcome!) calling for advice and/or extrication when faced with a situation where they know they are surrounded by “wrong”?   See Days 8, 9, 13, and 5.

Next time, we’ll consider the topic of consequences.  Until then, be well and be blessed.

Keep it Lit,

T.

 

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Day 14: Giving Our Best

“I work very hard, and I play very hard.  I’m grateful for life.  And I live it – I believe life loves the lover of it.  I live it.”  – Maya Angelou

“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”  – Proverbs 10:4

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance and benefits of a good work ethic.  Explore how they can give their best at home, school, and in sports.

“Work ethic” is commonly used to refer to one’s commitment to working hard and, perhaps, equates the degree to which one works with the expected rewards their work entitles them to.  And yet, perhaps the “work ethic” God wants for us does not distill to just how many hours we can put in at the office, but more broadly applies to His desire for us to be at our very best in all facets and roles in life.  Reconsider what “work ethic” means, if it applies to being the best not only in our profession, but also as a father, neighbor, team member, etc.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to teach my daughter the value of working hard.  Help me to model a work ethic that includes time to spend in prayer, and quality time with my family.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Don’t get too wrapped up in trying to achieve a state of balance.  If you do, you’ll be disappointed with your results more often than not.  A wise executive taught me that “balance” is unrealistic.  She would say, “Forget about balance – it doesn’t happen.  Just be here when you need to be here and be with your family or in the community when you need to be there – but, wherever you are, be present there and attend to those around you.  The sooner you stop focusing on finding ‘balance’ and focus on what you need to prioritize, you’ll feel more balanced.”  In other words, manage your priorities…and make it count.

Of note…today is Veterans Day and it would be inappropriate to let it pass without giving thanks for all of those who have served and sacrificed so that we may be free.  If you are a veteran, I am grateful for you and humbled by your selflessness.  Thank you.

And, tomorrow we come to the midpoint of our 30-day walk through M46 Project.  We’ll spend a bit of time in Proverbs 3, talking about doing the right thing and avoiding bad situations.  See you then…

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 13: Choosing Friends Wisely

“When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:  to deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh forward things.”

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance of using wisdom in choosing friends.  Share with them how wisdom can help and protect them from relationships with the wrong people.

Thomas Aquinas said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  Can you think of a time when circumstances helped you to realize who your true friends really were (are)?

Friends are not defined or selected simply because we live, work, or study in proximity to each other.  Rather, we must teach our children that friends are determined according to common interests, shared values, and a willingness to hold each other up in moments of struggle or need.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help my child to use wisdom when choosing friends, and to avoid relationships with the wrong people.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Read Proverbs 18:24 and 1 Cor 15:33.  Who are your true friends?

Check back here for our next discussion on the importance of work ethic.

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 12: Honoring Him

“While generosity may be the antidote for the dizzying effects of wealth, your appetite for more may function as an antidote against God-honoring generosity.  Your appetite for more stuff, status, and security has the potential to quash your efforts to be generous.  And that’s a problem.”  – Andy Stanley

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  Proverbs 9:9-10

M46 Challenge:  Teach your child about what it means to honor God.  “The fear of the Lord” simply means to honor and respect God.  Explore different ways to honor God in your daily life.

As we parent our children and lead by example, where does God fit in?

Do we put him first?

Do we openly share our faith?

Do we give thanks?

And…this is a tough one…do we do and say on Monday through Saturday as we do and say in church or Sunday school…even when we get cut off in traffic, or someone gives us every opportunity to react poorly?

Do we commit random acts of kindness?

Do we regularly give of our time in service to others, including our children so that they may share in those experiences?

Do we seek opportunities to give of our resources and make a difference for others?

Do we check our own humility and adjust our own sense of importance, and our own need for “more”?

Do we demonstrate sacrifice?

Do we acknowledge when we have failed to act out of honor and respect to Him, inasmuch as we may quickly call our children out for the very same?  For me, none of this comes easily – and I don’t always do it well…and so, I ask for forgiveness and try yet again.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me teach my children to honor You.  Use my life as a living sacrifice to have a personal relationship with The Living God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Exodus 20 comes to mind.

Until next time, when we will get into the importance of choosing good friends…

Keep it Lit,

T.

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