The Gullible One
By Shalom (Pearl) Brand
I learned so much from my parents as a young girl, certainly more than can be shared in a single article. But the most important things they taught me are these:
#1 – Wisdom
“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” (Proverbs 8:11)
For some, learning comes easy; for others, not so much. I was one of those kids who had to work really hard to learn. My brothers or sisters would be told, “This is the word love,” and they would never forget it. I would hear the same thing, read it, write it, and still have to sound it out. But instead of my mom saying, “Why can you not remember that this is the word love? You have seen this word and read it over and over again!” she would say, “Good job sounding it out, Shalom; now what do you think that word means? How would you show love to someone? How did Jesus show us love?” and then, “That is a very wise answer Shalom. Did you know that it is more important to show love than to read the word love? God gives us wisdom to know how to show love to others.”
I wanted this wisdom; it was something I knew I needed more than other people did, for I could not rely on knowledge. I needed something that only God could give me. I started praying for it every day when I was just a young teen. I know that it is what made me who I am today. I pray with my children every night, and for each of them I pray something different. But because Gracie is just like me, from the time she was a baby, I have prayed that she will have wisdom. She also asks God for wisdom and knows that wisdom is better than rubies.
#2 – Joy and Thankfulness
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
As I grew up there was no way I could have avoided learning joy from my parents. Being joyful and thankful was just part of life; it was who we were. My parents had the joy of the Lord in abundance and passed that joy down to each of their children. One thing that brings me even more joy now that I am a mom is seeing my own children being joyful and thankful. Singing, dancing, and just enjoying life is what created a joyful and thankful attitude in me—and now in my own children as well.
#3 – To Keep My Heart
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
I am a very gullible person, and when I was young I believed what everyone told me. That is where wisdom aided me most—to discern truth. One time my older brother told me that the word gullible was not in the dictionary, and of course I believed him 100%, to his great joy. I proceeded to tell a friend my newfound knowledge only to be laughed at for being so gullible. I laughed at myself as well, and then tried to come up with a way to get my mean old brother back for his trick. Too bad I am terrible at practical jokes, so I don’t think I ever did pull anything off on him.
Another time, a close friend told me she had written a song and sang it to me. I was so amazed at how good it was, and the next day when we were at the volleyball court, I told everyone she had written this wonderful song and sang a few words of it. Everyone started laughing and told me it was a very popular song on the radio. I soon learned I needed to have wisdom to know truth from lies and to keep my heart from being led by those who just wanted a laugh.
My parents, knowing I was gullible and easily taken in by others, were careful to monitor what friends I had and at times stopped me from going places that would have been fine for any other person but not for me, for my heart was soft and needed protection.
I remember as a young teen making the decision to keep my heart for my future husband and focus on serving the Lord first and foremost as an unmarried woman. The passage quoted above goes on to say in verses 24–27 to keep your eyes straight, to not look to the left or right, and to ponder your path, and all your ways will be established.
As a child my parents taught me how to keep my heart and to walk with my eyes straight before me, to have my ways established in God alone. As a teen, I continued to choose to keep my heart from any outside influence even if that meant not going to the volleyball court to play with friends. The Lord has richly blessed me for it. I have already observed the need and taken steps to keep my own daughters’ hearts safe. I am teaching them even now to put God first in their lives, even before friends. I am so thankful I learned to keep my heart and so is my wonderful husband. I am thankful for the wisdom and joy God has so abundantly given me, and now my own children as well.
By Shoshanna (Pearl) Easling
The other day I went outside where I keep my organic carrots and found about five pounds of them scattered, broken, and muddy. I’d had kids over the day before. One of the kids found my carrots and got one, and another kid followed the example. It became a carrot war of “you got one and I want one, too.” Carrots were flying, covered in mud, and many were wasted.
Wanting to make sure my children would never do such a thing, I took this as a good opportunity to teach Jeremiah. I asked him, “Whose stuff is in your room?”
“Mine!” he said.
“If all the kids came in your room and took a piece or two of your Playmobil® outside to play—one kid played in the woods, another on a dirt pile, one on the driveway, and another in the grass—at the end of the day you would not have enough Playmobil® pieces to do anything with. They would be gone. Adults work hard to buy land and food, build houses, gardens, flowerbeds, and more. When someone takes our stuff and plays with it, messes it up, or even uses it without asking, it is not ever nice.”
You could see the wheels turning in his head. He was connecting the dots everywhere they led. It is so much fun to teach him and watch him grow in wisdom. My dad says, “There are no bad children, just bad training.” Every child is capable of embarrassing behavior. I know mine are. I just want to be proactive in training them to love their neighbor as themselves.
It always takes my breath away to experience Jeremiah’s sweetness. He is so kind, thoughtful, and thankful. He often comes in and says, “Yum-yum! That smells good! Thank you, Mom, for making us food.” He probably thanks me five times a day for things most adults would not think about. Why? I have always talked to him about anything that would help him grow. When I see him manifest a bad action or attitude, I talk to him about why, how, and what he can do differently. He soaks it up like a sponge. It is a little scary because I want to make sure I teach him the right things. I pray for wisdom every day.
One thing we have seen a lot of is ungrateful kids, parents, employees, and friends. That is a lesson that is very important to teach. When the situation comes up, I talk to Jeremiah about why they are ungrateful, what they have to be thankful for, and what we have to be thankful for. It opens his eyes to those that are grateful and ungrateful around us.
Keep in mind that we do not discuss the faults of others as if we are better than they. Nor do we speak of them in a spirit of rejection and criticism. We love our family and friends and each other, but we live in a world of fallen humanity, and we are all sinful creatures trying to do better.
Standing for Righteousness
The other day we were at the volleyball court. I was playing ball when I saw Jeremiah and two of his friends walking toward the cows in the field. The cows were running way. Any half-wit farmer knows you should never chase a milk cow. I called Jeremiah in and his friends followed. I told him not to ever chase cows. He had been telling his friend that she should not be chasing them. So he followed her, telling her all the way. I saw this as another one of those great teaching moments and told him, “Even when you know something is wrong and tell them, when you stay there and let it happen you are participating. If someone is doing something you know is wrong, then tell them. If they do not listen, then walk away so you do not participate in it.”
I remember when I was a child, sometimes my family would sit around and take turns reading the Bible. I remember learning the lesson Jeremiah did this week: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (Psalms 1:1)
Joining in Work
I love my wonderful kids! The other day I was cooking when Jeremiah came in. “What can I do to help you, Mom?” I smiled at my amazing kid and handed him a cutting board. Later on that day, I was cleaning the living room, and he came in and started to help. That made me smile again! Later, James was folding clothes and told Jeremiah to put his clothes away. Penelope Jane heard and came running to help. She would get the clothes and bring them to Jeremiah in his bedroom so he could put them away. This made me laugh with joy!
Jeremiah is 6 and Penelope is 19 months. They work together and play together. Why? From the time they were born we have always had them in the middle of everything we do. Even when they could not walk, we would hand them a pair of socks, bring them to the drawer, help them put the socks in, and praise them for doing such a great job. As they grew, their jobs did, too! Nothing has changed; we do our chores together and it’s fun for all! Dad says, “That’s child training at its best.”
Knowledge and Beginning of Wisdom
By Nathan Pearl
Choices are not made aimlessly. Our choices come from what we value and what our minds have been devising. Often when our choices lead to regret, we blame others, but everyone knows that life finds us on a road of our own choosing.
Choices issue from our minds based on our loves and fears. Emotion is the great facilitator of most action, but wisdom based on knowledge is the best catalyst of choice. As my children mature, I am profoundly aware that I am building into their minds information that will form the basis of their present and future choices. I want them to mature into adults who avoid the ugly pitfalls the world constantly shoves in their way. I can profoundly affect their choices.
The first thing that influences our choices is a body of knowledge. As we grow and learn, we add to the body of knowledge. I cannot make a choice outside of what I know, so as my body of knowledge increases, so does my range of choices. Think about this: a child who sits in front of the TV for several hours a day, day after day, year after year, is being reared on unsavory knowledge that will someday play a key role in how he as a young adult will make choices. No wonder so many young adults are foolish.
My parents chose to fill our minds with Bible stories—things God did with his people or to his enemies. Now as an adult, most of my choices are highly influenced by that body of knowledge. When I hear someone mock another person, I remember the story in the Bible of the children who mocked the prophet’s bald head, and I know what God thinks of mockery. When I have the choice to pray or not, I think of Daniel praying for 21 days for wisdom to know how to answer the king. My body of knowledge is that Daniel was a man who was greatly loved by those in heaven, that the angel of God had to fight to get through a host of the enemy of God to deliver the answer to Daniel, and that Daniel prayed even though it might mean his death. All this and a lot more comes to mind, and it causes me to want to be like Daniel. For this reason, every day I tell my children the same stories my parents told to me. As a father, I want to give my children that body of knowledge that God chooses to teach us by—stories.
Another influential factor on my future choices is the pattern of choices I have already made. For example, if I come to a situation in marriage where there is dissension and I am given a choice to get angry or be a healer, what I have done before will play a role in how I respond this time.
As a father, I know that my children are watching their mother and me respond to each other. A thousand times they see us choose to love, forgive, appreciate, and serve. This will play a part in how they respond to their spouses when they are married. I know this because the sweetness that I saw in my parents toward each other naturally influences how I relate to my wife. Again, I am building a bank of emotional reaction in my children that will play a part in the choices they make. When I slip with a wrench and hurt my hand, my sons see me react in pain but not anger. My desire is that I pass down to my children good things, not evil.
Now you can see that choices are made from a person’s memory bank. I am profoundly aware that my choices, good or evil, will give them a history on which to base their own. The wisdom they are learning is not their wisdom or even God’s wisdom; it is simply my learned wisdom as it is passed on to my sons and daughters. This comes to bear in simple, everyday activities. For instance, I make my son eat green beans. Even if he says he doesn’t like them, even if it makes him cry, I compel him to eat them because I know he will be healthier and learn self-discipline if he has a history of eating green beans. I tell him while he eats his green beans, “They are good for you and will make you healthy. You need to eat them because I said so.” Then my son makes a choice; it is against his will, but he chooses to eat the beans because he knows we want him to be healthy and because he wants to please me. I have his heart. He is building on a body of knowledge and experience. The choice translates to his soul and his habits. He is learning to say yes to good things even when it does not please his flesh. When he is a teenager and someone offers him drugs, it will be his habit to make choices based on a body of knowledge and a history of previous choices. He can still choose to do evil, but he will not be easily led astray because he knows and cherishes a better way and has seen the fruit of honoring God in my life as I saw it in my father’s.
What about those of you who have never learned God’s Word and have no idea of the God who prepared the worm, the breeze, the vine, the fish, and the storm? You don’t know about the earthquakes or chariots of fire, yet you have a heart to know God. The Bible is his book; it is his letter to you. It is God telling you his stories. It is still there, readily available. I have known young men raised on video games and TV who pick up Good and Evil and from there become avid Bible students. They listen to all of Dad’s (Michael Pearl’s) CDs and then move on to their own study. These individuals cram a lifetime of knowledge into a year or so. God gives them wisdom from his Word.
As they come to know God through his Word, they begin to make wise decisions based on God’s truth, creating a whole new history from which to nurture all future choices. They might have issues in their marriage, something I know nothing of, but they build a new line of choices one day at a time, and they create a new history for both themselves and their children. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD as my father did before me.