My wife Mauri made a comment to a friend yesterday that was not totally correct. She might have just been teasing or she might not understand her husband at all. My friend and I played tennis the night before, and he had beaten me two out of three sets. Mauri told my friend I had been angry about losing. Exhausted, yes. Angry, no way. I would rather play excellent competition and possibly win or possibly lose. The winning and the losing is not the reason for playing. Playing is the reason for playing, and if you are playing a level of competition that makes the game more exciting, Praise God. A person can almost be guaranteed a victory if they play three and four year old toddlers, but do you enjoy the level of play, and does your game get any better?

I have known people, including family, that play sports expressly for the purpose of winning. They will terrorize weaker players to win, yet they will be the first ones yelling and screaming if they are losing. What they donít realize is that they make the game miserable for the weaker players to the point they do not want to play again, and they make the game totally boring for the stronger players who resolve to never play this ďcrybabyĒ again. And you see it in all sports. I think the Bible explains it better than I can.

The Book of Proverbs has many wonderful verses in it. As my walk with the Lord has grown, the past ten years especially, I have quoted many verses from the Book of Proverbs. Unfortunately, I have not always shown the patience or grace of God when sharing these scriptures. One theme that is found in many of the scriptures is that you can instruct a wise person but you are wasting your breath on a foolish person. It is kind of like a person playing sports. To receive instruction and enjoy better competition is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. The riches gained are not money or winning, but the knowledge you have gotten better in your pursuit of being the best you can be.

It is better to reach for the stars and settle for the moon, than to reach for the hilltop and settle for the ditch. Do we try to excel in life, or do we just try to get by? I believe the Lord wants us to do our very best to be our very best. I do not believe God wants us to settle for mediocrity. I do not believe God wants us to be conformed to the world, I believe He wants to guide us and instruct us in the way we should go.

Proverbs 3
5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
11-12 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 4
1-9 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; for I give you a good doctrine: do not forsake my law. When I was my fatherís son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me and said to me: Let you heart retain my words; keep my commands and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth, do not forsake her and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her, she will place on your head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory she will deliver to you.

Proverbs 8
12-13 I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
30-31 Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight I was with the sons of men.
32-36 Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.

Proverbs 9
6-10 Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding. He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still 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 One is understanding.

Proverbs 10
1 The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother.

13-14 Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding. Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Proverbs 11
2 When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 12
1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 13
1 A wise son heeds his fatherís instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. Proverbs 13
7 There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing, And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.

Proverbs 14
6 A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, But knowledge is easy to him who understands.

Proverbs 15
1-2 A soft answer turns away wrath. But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
5 A fool despises his fathers instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.
12 A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise. 14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

Proverbs 16
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Proverbs 17
10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool.

Proverbs 22
6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

I could go on and on and on writing down the wisdom of the book of Proverbs, but everyone of the verses are wonderful. If you have never sat down and read the Proverbs, take time to do so. You will be blessed.

I feel as a parent I have a responsibility to raise my children to love and fear the Lord. If I can teach my children in love and they respect and obey me because they love me, then we all benefit from teaching in the atmosphere of love. However, if a child is disobedient and rebellious, instruct them using the fear of the Lord.

I have always raised my children to do their very best in everything they do. I never demand perfection. I just ask my children to do their best. In 1988, I was taking my oldest daughter Jennifer to school and she told me she was going to make all Aís on her report card. I told her that was wonderful, but she didnít have to make all Aís for me to be happy. She said, ďI know daddy, but I want to make straight Aís for me.Ē Whether it is schoolwork, sports or relationship with God, I want my children to have the best. To teach a child through Godís love is the first step in helping them to know wisdom and understanding. Then they can become their very best.

Having three children, then five step-children and then two more children has helped me in many ways to understand the love and fear relationship we have with God the Father. My five children have always responded to being taught in love, as has one of my stepchildren. My other four stepchildren initially had to be taught in the fear of the Lord, before they reached the level of maturity to respond to being taught in love. What is the difference?

To teach in love means that the student and teacher want to please one another because they love each other. There is respect on both sides, and both sides know the lesson is being given in love. Therefore, the desire to excel is generated by love and commitment to purpose. There is very rarely a need to punish a person who is taught in love. They know they are loved, and they want to perform to a certain level because of who they are, not because of just trying to impress their instructor. A person who needs to be taught in fear usually wants to be taught through love, but the bonds of rebellion are initially hard to break. Certain levels of expectancy are needed on both sides, with rewards and punishments being determined beforehand to seek a level of commitment. I will try to explain this. For example: If you have two children, one who responds to love and one who responds to fear, and you ask both to clean their bedroom. The child who has been raised in love will respond by cleaning their bedroom to the level that they have been taught. The child who responds to fear will respond by hiding dirty cloths under the bed, sweeping trash into the corners, etc. The child raised in love responds in kind, while the child raised in fear responds in rebellion. The Bible says to correct this child with a rod across the back, or spank or ground or timeout or whatever, but correction must occur. In many instances these children know the correct way to perform, but they do not love their instructor, and/or themselves. The only way they will perform is out of fear of their instructor. So what do you do? Do you give up? Do you know theyíre headed for prison anyway, so you just kick them out the door? No, you donít! You stand your ground and donít take any stuff off of them. The hardest thing for a parent who has instructed using love and seen the benefits of this method of teaching is that it is hard to muster the desire to want to teach through fear. If one of your children responds to a nod of your head to complete an assigned task, and the only way the other child responds is if you torture them and stand them in front of a firing squad, you have a difficult time coping with the second child. But donít despair the days do get brighter. These kids arenít brain dead, they are not the devilís spawn, they are not curses from past sins, (well maybe), and No theyíre not. They need a different kind of love. They need one on one attention to get it right. It would sometimes be easy to give up on the second child, but donít do it. If you can ask one child to clean their room and they do it, and the other doesnít, stand in their room with them until they have correctly completed the task. Then compliment them, kiss them and tell them good job. If you have to do this three hundred and sixty five days a year for five years, know that your efforts will pay off. And donít spare the rod if need be.

When you raise a child from birth and they know the rules and standards and they are taught in love, you very rarely have to discipline that child. I have probably spanked my five children less than ten times total over twenty three years, but three of my stepchildren asked me for a spanking daily. Why? Donít ask me. I donít know if this was an act of rebellion, a cry for attention, or both; or, none of the above. There was no way I could give them that much of myself. It really takes it out of a person to have to discipline a child all of the time to get them to respond to the task at hand. If it had been up to them they would have received a whipping to get up in the morning, a whipping to brush their teeth, a whipping to make their beds, a whipping to clean their bedrooms, a whipping to go to school, a whipping to come home, etc., etc., etc. Whoís got the time, much less the desire? So I probably was not as tough as I should have been, because the instruction took a lot longer than it should have. But finally the children realized that the instruction was being given in love, and the rebellion ceased. There are occasional flare-ups but mild electrical shock does wonder. Just kidding. Tough love is the answer when agape love does not work. But the key word is love. There are many parents that just toss the child in front of a TV or throw them outside to find a gang to love and any of the other things we sometimes think of, but donít do it. Establish standards, ensure they are met and believe in faith that your efforts will pay off. And they do!

The main thing to remember is to place your children in Godís Hands. God tells us to place our care on Him, especially our children. We have a responsibility to teach our children to do and be their best, and to love and honor God with their whole heart. Then we lift them to God for Him to care for them. We do our best, and let God do the rest.