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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 29, 2012
Proverbs on the Family, Part 10: Principles of Parenting, Part 2
If you build a house on a wrong or a faulty foundation, it should not be a surprise when the structure does not come out right or even collapses later. In addition, if you continue to do things the same way, you should not be surprised when you get the same results each time. In fact, it is foolish to expect different results if you do the same thing over and over again. Yet, we live in a society that has departed from its Biblical foundation to build on wrong and faulty foundations of human wisdom of all sorts. We should not be surprised at the problems our collapsing society is now facing and neither should we be surprised when it gets worse since it continues to reject God’s wisdom in favor of the foolishness of human wisdom. Civil discourse is no longer civil. What are abominations before God are now called good and advocated by many of our political leaders while they stand against what is good calling it evil.
A case in point is the reaction of many “progressives,” who generally pride themselves on being tolerant, who have been calling for boycotts of Chick-fil-A restaurants for about a year. Now the mayor of Boston and Chicago want to use their political power to keep the restaurant chain from opening up stores in their cities. What hypocrisy. And why such rash intolerant disdain? Dan T. Cathy, the president and chief operating officer, has the audacity to openly support the Biblical definition of marriage saying, “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.” Even worse to them, he has publically warned, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.” If there was a Chick-fil-A in driving distance I would go just to show them my support. (There is only one in all of New York State).
Our society has kicked God out of the public schools, has been trying hard to keep Him out of public discourse, scorns politicians or any public figure that openly proclaims Him, and has even been telling chaplains they are not allowed to pray in Jesus’ name at public functions. I was told that the last time I gave the invocation at the County Legislature. I told them that since I was asked to come and invoke the blessing of the God I serve it would be silly for me to pray in any other way than in Jesus’ name, and I then did so. Almost anything publically funded and most secular entities that have a teaching element – schools, museums, media – teach kids they are just highly evolved animals, the product of random chance and natural selection. We should not be surprised that they lack virtue and act in selfishness and hedonism without any transcendent purpose in life. They have been taught that life is about playing games, hanging out and hooking up all the while believing they are entitled to it and someone else should pay for it all. We should not be surprised at their laziness and financial ineptness nor at the continuing rise in the age of first marriages, the rate of failed marriages and the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases.
Our entertainment mediums glorify sexuality, vulgarity, evil and violence. Should we then really be that surprised that a young man identifies himself with the Joker in the Batman series and then acts it out in real life killing a dozen or more and injuring scores of others in a theater while the Batman movie is playing? Yet it was common to hear people blame God for letting it happen. Some on the political left even tried to blame it on the Tea Party in Colorado because there was a man by the same name with that affiliation. They just missed the fact that the man is 30 years older than the mass murderer.
All these things illustrate this simple point. The foundation you lay in raising your children will set the direction for their lives. Now before all of you who are not in the active years of parenting start thinking about something else because you don’t think this sermon applies to you, let me remind you that you also play a part in training children. It may be direct involvement such as teaching them, providing care, or a ministry of some type, or it may be indirect by your example. They are watching you even if you are not paying much attention to them. You will have an effect on children, so you also must pay attention to the principles being presented.
The increasing hostility of our society toward godliness means it will take greater diligence than in previous generations to raise children properly according to godly wisdom so that they will be a blessing throughout their lives to themselves and others. Taking advantage of help from others can make a big difference. If you fail to make sure they are grounded in the truths of God and trained in them accordingly, then you can be sure they will be conformed by society to give greater expression to their sinfulness as they get older. I believe Proverbs 22:6 bears this out in both directions.
Most versions translate it something like this, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
If you follow the Scriptures and are diligent to raise them according to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as discussed in an earlier sermon, then you will have instilled in them godly fear and virtues which will guide them throughout life even if they do not become Christians. Moral qualities such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, diligence, responsibility, thrift, compassion, generosity, kindness and courtesy have historically marked the American character and been a great blessing to all. Tragically, that has been lost as the culture has not only turned away from the godly path, but also become increasingly defiant against our Creator. Children raised up according to the foolishness of human wisdom fall into the alternative reading of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up the child according to the tenor of his way, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” A child that is allowed to get his way while young will continue in that bent throughout their lives. A spoiled child becomes a selfish adult. An unruly child becomes a wayward adult. A lying child becomes a dishonest adult. A lazy child becomes a slothful adult. A wasteful child becomes a profligate adult. A pleasure seeing child becomes a hedonistic adult. I think you can see the point. In general, the manner in which you raise your child will determine whether they grow up to be wise or foolish.
This is not to say there are not exceptions. Remember that Proverbs expresses general truths, not absolute promises. There are plenty of people raised improperly in sinful homes that became responsible adults because either God mercifully intervened in bringing them to faith in Christ and saving th
em from sin, or some outside force compelled them to change their ways – military, hunger, jail, more important quest or responsibility such as marriage, kids, job, personal hobby. The opposite also occurs. There are those raised properly in godly homes that turn against their training when they leave home.
A word of caution here. Proverbs 22:6 has often been used by parents of wayward children as a promise that someday their prodigals will return to the faith. I do not believe that is the proper interpretation of the verse, and I have never seen any statistics that would demonstrate that idea being fulfilled on any significant scale. Very few prodigals return. Those who have tasted of the goodness of the Lord and then turned against it are seldom renewed to repentance. It is proper for parents of a prodigal to pray and work to that end, and praise the Lord that He does mercifully bring about repentance at times, but they should not hold Proverbs 22:6 as a promise that it will happen. The verse is not an insurance policy.
Ezekiel 18:20 makes it clear that each individual is responsible for their own sin. “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” Children cannot blame their parents for their own sin, but neither can parents excuse their own failures and the effect of their sin on their children. Statements in Proverbs such as “But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (29:15b), “he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father” (28:7b) and “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him” (17:25), demonstrate the consequences upon the parents when they fail in their parenting practices. Proverbs 19:13 goes even further stating, “A foolish son is destruction to his father.”
It is not uncommon to hear parents insist that they did all they could in raising their children properly. Really? I have not met any perfect parents yet. Diane and I certainly do not fit that description. It has been a lot of hard work in training our sons, but it is God’s mercy and grace extended to them that has enabled them to overcome our failures in parenting. Godly parenting requires not only diligence and hard work, but also time on your knees imploring God on behalf of your children. If your children become godly adults, give all the praise to the Lord. If they become ungodly adults, they will bear the consequences of their own sin, but in all humility you must examine your own failures, repent and ask God’s forgiveness and theirs.
The first foundation stone laid in training your children is being serious about your responsibilities as parents.
The Starting Point
The second foundation stone is knowing your starting point. Due to the influence of psychology, most people no longer have a Biblical starting point in understanding what they will be dealing with when that newborn baby arrives. Quite a few philosophies view children as either innately good or at least as an innocent blank slate upon which their character will be imprinted. There are several parenting strategies that arise out of this.
One is what I will call the minimalist approach. Believing the child is innately good and has an inborn wisdom to know what is best for himself, parents try to figure out what the child wants and then satisfy it, but there is minimal effort in directing the child. This strategy starts with feeding and stretches into educational methodology, career choices and even marriage. Judges 14 records Samson telling his parents to get a Philistine woman for him as a wife. They questioned why he could not find a wife among his own relatives or people, but he insisted saying, “she looks good to me,” so his father went to make the arrangements even though Moses (Exodus 34:12-16) and Joshua (Joshua 23:12-13) gave strong warning against intermarriage with the pagans. His life was a tragedy that God used despite is his poor character.
Related to this is what I will call the fearful approach. Believing the child is innately good, the parents live in fear of destroying that goodness and giving the child psychological problems by doing something wrong. Such parents heed the advice of psychologists in trying to figure out what the child wants and satisfy those needs. Man’s wisdom, not God’s wisdom is now in control.
We have talked with parents over the years that fretted over potty training their children because they feared they would mess up their child for life if they didn’t do it right – a fear based on the thoughts of the perverted and ungodly Freud. Folks, if you do not potty train your children well, the only thing that will be messed up are their pants until you do get them trained well. It is a skill to be learned just like drinking from a cup and eating with a fork and spoon.
Then there is what I will call the maximum parent. Believing that environmental factors are critical in the child’s upbringing, they do all they can to provide every material advantage and experience they can. Such parents can be maxed out financially and with their time as they purchase stuff and take their child from place to place to various classes and activities. A good recipe for creating a spoiled prima- donna. All three of these types of parents tend to be very child centered which creates a host of problems.
Two other common types of parenting practice do not give much consideration to the basic nature of their child. The first I will call the traditionalist. These parents simply raise their children according to the traditions passed down from their parents. They do not give a lot of thought to it other than what they can remember their parents did and what seems right to them at the moment based on that. If their parents had set a good example, this can work to some degree, but since it still does not have the right starting point, it will greatly lack.
The second I will call detached parenting. This arises from being too selfish to give much consideration to their children. This is more common among men and especially those who view their role as providing and the wife’s role as raising the children. Those with this mindset that are wealthy enough may hire someone else to take care of the kids or send them to a boarding school. Those with this mindset without such resources will also be generally uninvolved with their children, and may ignore or even neglect them.
What is the true nature of a child and what are the consequences of that in parenting? In Psalm 51:5, David reveals the nature of a child from even before birth. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” David was a legitimate child, so this is a reference to his own nature and not some sinful relationship of his mother. Children are not naturally good or innocent. They are sinful and inclined toward evil. Proverbs 22:15 states that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” That is the natural bent of every child. They are not born with some innate wisdom. They are born with innate foolishness. Paul concurs in Ephesians 2:3 stating that “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Our sinful actions are the natural expression of our already sinful hearts.
The arrival of a newborn is the arrival of a sinner bent on foolishness. This is the starting point of parenting. You do not have to teach children to be selfish, lie, cheat or steal. They do that on their own quite easily and they will get better at it as they get older unless they are corrected. That is the starting point of parenting. You begin with a deficit and it will be hard work to change that to a positive. You must correct the sin and foolishness
even while you teach righteousness and wisdom. That is why the early years of parenting are so filled with the word, no, and corrective discipline. You are setting the boundaries and they are continually trying to cross them. I will spend quite a bit of time in a future sermon talking about Biblical discipline, but this morning I just want to make sure you understand that this is your starting point so that your parenting philosophy and practices will also start there.
If you are going to raise your children in Godly wisdom, you must begin at the correct starting point in understanding your child. You must also reject the foolish wisdom of man for it only builds with more foolishness upon the false premise that children are innocent or even innately good. Your baby may be cute and cuddly. He may even have a happy disposition or she may be very compliant. However, no matter how good your baby may seem outwardly, inwardly he or she is a sinner with foolishness bound up in their little heart. You are the parent. You must supply the wisdom – they do not have any. You must determine what is needed by that wisdom instead of giving in to your child’s selfish demands. You must set the direction they will go, or they will wander off into the forests of folly. That brings up the next point.
Setting the Goals
The next foundation stone is having the right goals. I talked about this in my last sermon on this topic. (Principles of Parenting, Part 1) I want to quickly review some of those major points and then expand on this idea this morning.
Your first and primary goal as a Christian parent is to lay the foundation for your children to become Christians. You cannot save them for that is the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgement so that they will repent of their sin, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive His forgiveness and eternal life. However, you are to follow the principles of Deuteronomy 6 in teaching your children about God and His commandments in every situation of life. This is done by your own example of loving God with all your heart, soul and might, and then diligently teaching them about God from His word and pointing out His work in the world around them.
I pointed out that even Proverbs has plenty to say about the nature of God which could be used to help your children understand Him. The Lord is in control (Proverbs 16:1, 9, 33; 19:21: 20:24; 21:1). The Lord knows your heart (Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; 16:2; 17:3; 21:2). There are things the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-19; 16:5). The Lord cares for the righteous (Proverbs 10:3, 29-30; 15:29; 28:13). The Lord can be trusted (Proverbs 3:5-8). The Lord desires us to be righteous (Proverbs 21:3). The discipline of the Lord is a good thing (Proverbs 3:11-12).
In fulfilling this primary goal, you must also diligently teach them the Lord’s commandments, which brings up the second goal of the Christian parent. To raise offspring that will have godly character even if they do not become Christians. As I pointed out in the introduction to this sermon, the moral character qualities that arise from the Scriptures are a blessing to all, Christian and non-Christian alike. I will be discussing this in four broad categories of responsibilities and their subcategories. Some of these I have already talked about in some detail. Others I will be talking about in detail in the future when we examine Proverbs on that particular subject.
These are 1) Responsibility to God. 2) Responsibility to Family which includes the subcategories of parents, siblings and extended family. 3) Responsibility to Society which includes the subcategories of authority figures, peers and people in general. 4) Responsibility toward Property and Nature.
Responsibility to God
That a Christian has responsibilities toward God is obvious by definition. A Christian is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Worship and obedience of God is foundational to being a Christian. Jesus said in John 14:15, “if you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19,20 includes teaching those who become disciples of Jesus, Christians, to obey whatsoever He has commanded. That Christian parents should teach Christian children the responsibility to love God through worship and obedience is obvious. But what about non-Christians? There are plenty of people who claim it is wrong to “force your religion” on your children and advocate letting them grow up to choose for themselves. How do we respond?
First, go back to the starting point. Children do not come to you innocent, innately good or with wisdom, which is the required premise of not teaching your children but letting them grow up to choose for themselves. Your children arrive as sinners with foolishness bound up in their hearts. Since that is the starting point, then it now becomes obvious it is your responsibility to teach them about God and obedience to Him. Your children do not arrive as Christians, but you are to still teach them according to the principles set forth in Deuteronomy 6 as has already been pointed out.
The purpose of Proverbs is to discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God (2:5). How important is this in Proverbs? There are 93 Proverbs that refer to the God and the Lord. We teach our children so that they will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man (3:5). We want our children to trust the Lord (3:5), fear the Lord (3:7) and honor the Lord (3:9). We want them to accept the discipline of the Lord and learn from it (3:11). We warn them about wickedness and abominations so that they might avoid the Lord’s curse and receive His blessings instead (3:32-33). We also warn them they must be careful about more than just outward actions, for the eyes of the Lord are in every place, Watching the evil and the good (15:3) and He weighs the motives (16:2).
Responsibility to Family
I have already covered this in part in previous sermons. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8) Let me quickly review the major points and then expand. The first responsibility of parents is to fulfill their God given roles as husbands and wives. A husband is to sacrificially love his wife as Christ loves the church, cherish her as he does his own body, and dwell with her according to knowledge granting her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life (Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:7). A wife is to learn to love her husband, submit herself to his headship and be chaste and respectful toward him even if he is disobedient to the Word (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33; 1 Peter 3:1-2; Titus 2:3-5). The example parents set in their marriage will go a long way in training their children, so it becomes it becomes crucial for the children’s sake as well that they walk together in wisdom and turn from and avoid the various types of foolishness that disrupt or even destroy their home.
Together they are to raise their children to love and obey God as already discussed. The first responsibility children have toward parents is to obey them (Ephesians 6:1). It is part of the Fifth commandment to honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12). It shows up in Proverbs in the admonitions to
hear your father’s instructions and not forsake your mother’s teaching (1:8), observe the commandment of your father (6:20), listen to your father who begot you (23:22) and in the warnings to those who curse their father or mother (20:20), does not bless their mother (30:11), mocks a father and scorns a mother (30:17). If you do not teach and hold your children accountable to obey you, then you are teaching them to sin.
In the parenting class we offer we expand on this to explain that children are to obey the first time, right away and with a happy face. The first two are relatively easy for they deal with the outward actions. The last one is more difficult because it involves the attitude and requires training the heart which takes a lot more work.
What do I mean by first time obedience? They follow your command the first time you tell them. You do not need to tell them more than once. Why first time obedience? Simply because less than that is disobedience. I realize that to some parents that sounds like an impossibility, but the truth is that your children will obey you when they know you finally mean it. If they do not obey until you have repeated it over and over again, you have some repenting to do because you have trained your children to disobey. If you have to reach some emotional level distinguished by the pitch and level of your voice and the color of your face before they obey, then you have added the problem of letting your anger lead you into sin. And to make it worse, your children will learn to be improperly angry and express it sinfully by following your example just as warned in Proverbs 22:24-25, “Do not associate with a man [given] to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, 25 Lest you learn his ways, And find a snare for yourself.” You can’t blame it on the kids saying they made you angry. No they didn’t. You trained them to disobey until you become angry. Cut out the wasted time and anger by simply requiring them to obey the first time.
How do you do that? First, be clear in what you say. You need to know they heard and understood your instructions, so require them to answer you respectfully. Second, say what you mean and mean what you say. If you mean it to be an authoritative direction, then give a command, not a suggestion or options. If you mean it as optional advice, then do not give a command. Third, set the standard, teach to the standard, live the standard, require the standard. If you have not had first time obedience, apologize to your children for teaching them to be disobedient. Explain to them what will now be expected and the consequences for future disobedience. Make a game out of it and practice it for a little while. You can give reminders for a day or two as part of the teaching, but then require the new standard and implement the consequences.
This same principle applies to obeying right away. What do I mean by that? There is no delay in carrying out the instructions you give. Delayed obedience is disobedience. For example, if you call and they hear you, then they need to answer and come. If there is any delay, there has to be legitimate reason which should be expressed when they answer, i.e., “Yes sir, may I finish getting dressed first?” etc.,
What do I mean by obedience with a happy face? It starts with the physical requirement that they do not express their displeasure at having to obey your command by word, posture or facial expression. Such things reveal that they think they know better than you and have the right to judge your instructions. You then continue to work on their heart so that they learn to delight in the law of the Lord and doing His will (Psalm 1:2; 40:8) which includes obedience to parents.
The life of King Saul is a tragic reminder of the consequences of disobedience to God. He lost his dynasty, his kingship and finally his life because he kept responding as if he knew better than God. His repentance was feigned and he remained proud. We want to teach our children from an early age to joyfully obey God, and that begins by teaching them to joyfully obey us – the first time and right away. For their sake and your sake you want them to become godly and wise – Proverbs 10:1, “A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.”
We will continue on this topic of raising children with godly character next week starting with responsibilities to siblings and extended family.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down the scripture references and look them up later 2) Count how many times obey / obedience is mentioned. 3) Discuss with your parents why it is important for you to obey them the first time, right away with a happy face.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What are the consequences of building a house on a faulty foundation? How is our society building on a faulty foundation? What are some of the consequences already experienced? What can be expected in the future if it continues? What responsibility do parents have toward seeing their children becoming Christians? How is that carried out in practical terms? What is the meaning and application of Proverbs 22:6? What is its alternative translation and meaning? Is it a promise to parents of prodigal children? Why or why not? Can children blame parents for their own sin? Why or why not? What responsibility do parents have in the sinful conduct of their children? What should parents do when they realized their parental failures? What are some of the consequences in parenting if you believe children are innately good or innocent? How have you seen that demonstrated? What is the origin of these beliefs? What the true nature of a child according to the Bible? What effect does this have on parenting practices? What is the primary goal of a Christian parent? What are you doing to achieve this goal? What things are hindering you from it? What is the second goal of a Christian parent? What responsibility does a Christian have toward God? Should a Christian “force their religion” on their unsaved children? Why or why not? What is a Christian’s responsibility in teaching non-Christians about God? What is the primary responsibility of parents toward their family? What is a child’s first responsibility toward his parents? What is first time obedience and why should it be required? How can this be taught to children? Why is delayed obedience wrong? How is it corrected? Why is it wrong for children to express displeasure at their parent’s commands? How do you train the heart to be happy in obedience?
Sermon Notes – 7/29/2012
Principles of Parenting, Part 2
Our society has departed from its Biblical foundation to build on the ____________ wisdom of man
A society that _______God should not be surprised when He removes His hand of protection & blessing
The foundation you lay in raising your children will set the _______________ for their lives
If you fail to ground and train your children in the truths of God, then society will _______them to itself
Proverbs 22:6 – a child trained in godly fear and ____________ can withstand the pressures of socie
Proverbs 22:6 – alternative – a child trained to his own way will continue in that ____________ bent
There are ______________ to the Proverbial rule in both directions
Proverbs 22:6 is not a ____________ to assure parents of prodigals that they will return to the faith
Ezekiel 18:20 – each person bears the _________________ of their own sin, children and parents alike
Parents who fail in their parenting will ___________consequences – Proverbs 17:25; 19:13; 28:7; 29:15
There are no perfect parents – we must be diligent and work hard, but thank _____for His mercy & grace
The Starting Point
The influences of psychology has resulted in a widespread _____________ of the Biblical starting point
The Minimalist – the innately good child has the wisdom to know what is best, give minimal _________
The Fearful – I can’t risk destroying my child’s innate goodness, __________ the psychologist’s advice
The Maximum parent – environment is critical, so give maximum material and training _____________
The Traditionalist – just do whatever your ______________ did with you
The Detached – too selfish to give children much thought, so send them away or ___________ them
Psalm 51:5 – the true nature of a child is ____________from conception – not naturally good or innocent
Proverbs 22:15 – they have ______________ bound up in their heart, not wisdom (cf. Eph. 2:3)
Parenting _____________ with the arrival of a sinful and foolish child
To raise a godly child, you must start at the right place and reject the foolish wisdom of ____________
___________must supply the wisdom and set the direction or they will wander into the forests of folly
Setting the Goals
Primary goal of the Christian parent: lay the ______________ for their children to become Christians
Love God yourself and be ___________ to teach them about God and His commandments (Deut. 6:4-9)
Use ____________ to teach them about the nature and character of God as well as His will
Second goal of the Christian parent: raise offspring with godly __________whether they are saved or not
Categories of Responsibility: 1) God 2) Family 3) Society 4) Property & Nature
Responsibility to God
Worship and _____________to God is foundational for the Christian (John 14:15; Matthew 28:19-20)
Children are __________ innocent, innately good or wise, so they cannot be left to their own direction
Parents must also teach their _______________ children their responsibility to worship and obey God
A purpose of Proverbs is to discern the fear of the __________and discover the knowledge of God (2:5)
Responsibility to Family
The first responsibility of parents is to fulfill their _____as a godly husbands and wives (Eph. 5; 1 Pet. 3)
The first responsibility of children to parents is _________(Eph. 6:1; Exod. 20:12; Prov.1:8; 6:20; 20:20 etc)
If you do not teach your children to obey you, you teaching them to ____________
First time obedience means to __________ the first time they are told.
If children obey only after being told many times or you’re angry, it is because ___trained them that way
1) Be _________ in what you say – make sure they heard and understood your directions
2) Say what you ________, mean what you say. Commands are commands, suggestions are suggestions
3) Set the standard, teach the standard, live the standard, _____________ the standard
Obeying right away is obedience without __________
Obedience with a happy face means no physical displays of _________- work on the heart (Ps. 1:2; 40:8)
For their sake and your sake, train them to be _____________- Proverbs 10:1
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