How to control your tongue

Originally published on

Today’s reading: Numbers 20; Psalms 58–59; Isaiah 9:8–10:4; James 3

May 11th, 2016

At some point a Christian begins to understand what he thinks, says and does are important to his Father and LORD. At this point that same Christian realizes how wretched he is and how great God’s mercy is.

When Jesus showed up everything changed for the Israelites. The word had become flesh and their judgement was now staring them in the face, no longer to be hidden behind the false teachings of the pharisees. His sermon on the mount made clear that no one was getting away with appearances anymore. The pharisees with all their rites and rituals, were false. Following them, striving to be like them and seeking their approval, righteous in the eyes of man, was a lie. God knows your heart and Jesus came to make this clear by showing us all; what you think matters.

Our thoughts are a battleground. We have victory in Christ to the degree that we have a single eye for Him. To the degree we pursue Him and Him alone, shunning the false promises of this world and placing His promises in our constant focus. This is a result of a true belief and understanding of God’s word and it allows us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. I have come to believe that taming a tongue starts with taking thoughts captive.

From today’s reading James teaches us a lesson in this area. He starts by warning us of the power of the tongue. How it controls the course of our lives. Know this truth:

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. – James 3:4–7

James takes particular interest in rebuking the reader of how we use our tongue with our fellows.

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. – James 3:9–10

James then puts rounds out this lesson by shining light on the truth of the difference between heavenly wisdom and world wisdom of the devil:

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. – James 3:13–18

If we are to believe the Word as truth, the question then becomes; where is your tongue taking you?

taming the tongue

God may our heart’s desire and trust in You and You alone and may our tongues always lead us in Your ways. May worldly wisdom be kept far from us along with envy and strife. May Your wisdom fill our hearts pure, peaceable, gentle, easily intreated, full of mercy, good fruits, impartial, and whole in truth. May we make peace with all.

Parenting: Training A Child Not to Tease

‘To tease’ is ‘to pull,’ ‘to tug,’ ‘to drag,’ ‘to vex [or carry] with importunity.’ A child teases when he wants something from his parents, and fails to get it at the first asking. He pulls and tugs at his parents, in hope of dragging them to his way of thinking, or to consent to his having what he wants in spite of their different thinking.
-H. Clay Trumbull

temper tantrum

Mr. Trumbull opens this chapter with a strong opinion:

If a child never secured anything through teasing, he would not come into the habit of teasing; for there would be no inducement to him to tease.

Mr. Trumbull suggests this area of child training can be quite difficult to adhere to and in the same breath quite simple to administer. As to the administration he points to a simple rule that a one Mrs. Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, used to say of her children; “that they all learned very early that they were not to have anything that they cried for, and that so they soon learned not to cry for a thing they wanted.”

A good logical rule. Easy to understand. Easy to see how it might result in desired outcomes. Adhering to this rule in my estimation is where we need to think a while. In my limited observations with children who tease, as Mr. Trumbull calls it, the teasing tends to let on as soon as a child is told no. While this isn’t always the case, (some children will tease right from the outset), this is the moment that we will consider.

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, It is folly and shame unto him. – Proverbs 18:13

This word folly comes from the same Hebrew word that we derive foolish. and confusion from. I wonder if answering a child without understanding the matter fully is foolish and will confuse them into thinking something something is aright that is actually quite off? As inadvertently teaching them, “I tease to get what I want.” 

It appears as if at this moment of answering a child lies the whole of whether they may come to learn to tease. Let us take in a simple example.

A child comes to his father and asks for a quarter. For whatever reason the father says no. The child then teases and pulls and says “oh but father please will you, I need it so.” The father then gives his full attention to the matter and asks; “What will you do with the quarter, should I give it to you?” Innocent enough is this exchange, no crying or tantrums or yelling or losing of tempers, and still at this moment the child learns the need for teasing as a way to get his father’s full attention in a matter. Let us continue. The child answers that his teacher has asked him to bring a quarter to school to buy an eraser. The father then replies, “But of course my child, here is a quarter.” Again no anger abounds nor frustration takes hold, a fairly insignificant interaction on the surface. Still, at this moment I wonder does the child not start to believe that teasing is an important and even necessary skill in their progress in life. If so we see that it is not the parents failure to stick to their guns that trains a child to throw fits, but rather the parent’s foolishness to answer too quickly in the negative without understanding the matter.  When the understanding comes the affirmative is found to be apropos.

So therein perhaps lies an opportunity to set up for proper training in tantrums. This idea that parents ought not to give their decision until they have given due consideration and ‘heareth it.’  Mr Trumbull puts it this way, “In order to give promptly, to a child’s request, an answer that can rightly be insisted upon against all entreaties, a parent must do his thinking before he give that answer, rather than afterwards. Too often a parent denies a child’s request at the start without considering the case in all its bearings; and then, when the child presses his suit the parent sees reasons for granting it which had not been in his mind before. The child perceives this state of things, and realizes that the question is to be settled by his teasing, rather than by his parent’s independent judgment; and that, therefore, teasing is the only means of securing a correct decision in the premises.”

Another tip Mr. Trumbull gives at the close of this chapter on training a child not to tease is that when the answer is given, in proper consideration, that it be given with such “kindly firmness” that the child will not think of pressing his suit by teasing. There is something in my estimation about the countenance of a parent who is unwavering that is comforting to a child.

One last piece of piratical habit to consider is this.  When a parent receives a request that requires decision consider one of the following approaches.  Both I think will lend themselves to the reality of the situation.

  1. Do not render a decision until at least two or three questions have been asked and answered.  Perhaps having a set of go-to questions would aid the parent who may need some time to come out of what they were doing and come in to their proper consideration of the matter.  After all it is not about the quarter, or the treat or whatever the requests topic may be, this is indeed about the appropriate rearing of the child for their own goodly nature.  Here is a generic question:  “Why that is an interesting question my dear, why do you ask that?” more simply put, why?
  2. Delay the decision. Should the parent recognize that they are too deeply involved at the moment to give the child’s request due consideration or should the parent recognize that the request in and of itself requires council, simply delay the decision rather than giving an hasty reply.  “That is an important question my dear child, your father will require some time to consider such an important question. We will talk more about this latter.”

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Parenting: Self Denial

It is not that a child is to be denied what he wants, merely for the sake of the denial itself; but it is that a child ought not to have what he wants merely because he wants it.
-H Clay Trumbull

let go of self

Mr. Trumbull suggests here that things in the 1890’s were getting out of control. That children were receiving too much in the way of indulgences. The quantity of presents was too many in these days, he held. Interesting. I can not help but imagine how many more presents a child receives in a year now than vs then.

Mr. Trumbull suggests this is quite harmful to a child who needs to learn self denial. A most important characteristic for a Christian. I agree. Self denial is at the core of self control, a topic that is elemental in this study of Mr. Trumbull’s book, Hints on Child Training. Mr. Trumbull goes on to suggest that, “It is every parent’s duty to deny a child many things which he wants; to teach him that he must get along without a great many things which seem very desirable; to train him to self-denial and endurance, at the table, in the playroom, with companions, and away from them; and the doing of this duty by the parent brings a sure advantage to the child.”

Without self denial, or from the parents perspective plain denial, a child, Mr. Trumbull explains is at a great disadvantage of happiness, “The average child of the present generation receives more presents and more indulgences from his parents in any one year of his life than the average child of a generation ago received in all the years of his childhood. Because of this new standard, the child of today expects new things, as a matter of course; he asks for them, in the belief that he will receive them. In consequence of their abundance, he sets a smaller value upon them severally. It is not possible that he should think as highly of any one new thing, out of a hundred coming to him in rapid succession, as he would of the only gift of an entire year.”

And so we come to the takeaway: a practical, here is a way to do it, piece of advice for parents who desire a child to understand self control. Denial.  Here’s a practical way to impart self denial to a child. Say the child request a candy.  “Papa, may I please have a marshmellow.” The father could reply, “Of course my dear, you may have one marshmellow now or you may wait five minutes and than enjoy two marshmellows, the choice is yours my child.”  Delaying gratification is a simple way such as this is an exercise in denial.  A child’s ability to deny them self is directly linked to their ability to inherit anything.  Here are a few practical examples in this world: saving for an emergency, budgeting, planning ahead, etc. Now when it comes to the most important thing, that is following Christ, one must consider the critical nature of this ability to deny one’s self.

Self denial is Christian. We are often referred to as Christ followers and as Jesus puts it self denial is the very first step.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? -Luke 9:23-24 

Often I hear this referred to as a sort of burden “this is my cross to bear” and so forth. Though I have come to believe it quite the opposite. In the days of Jesus, it is my estimation, if you saw someone walking around with “their cross” it meant one thing. They were on their way to die. Their life was coming to an end. This mindset accompanied with Jesus’ command to deny yourself I think is an important one to consider. So much of what keeps us from following Christ is being wrapped up in our self; “but I like my sin” and so forth.

James 1:18-20 shows us clearly that selfishness is the beginning of sin. But in this case, someone who had taken up his cross, their mind I imagine would be so far from the worries of this world, which so often are wrapped up in self. Worrying about the distant future or the distant past is often a case of being consumed with self. So in turn this idea of denying self is quite freeing and peaceful.

One of great mysteries of life if this concept of letting go something you care so much about. Our nature screams ‘hold on tight’ that money, that preference, etc. but God says let go my first fruits and your vats will overflow. Much the same I believe is this concept of freeing yourself from being consumed with self. Letting go of self, not a burden but a measure of true freedom and peace on earth.

This is essential to being a Christian, that is you can’t follow Christ without letting go of this world.  Of course, it is a cornerstone habit we need to impart to our children.


-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Parenting: on Discipline

Unless children are trained to recognize duty as more binding than inclination, they will suffer all their lives through from their lack of discipline in this direction.
-H. Clay Trumbull

Discipline Parenting

So far in this study on parenting, that is in the last two posts, I have done my best to unpack the largest premise in Mr. Trumbull’s book, which is this:

  • the training of a child’s will is a good way to bring them up.
  • Will training rather than will breaking, I have come to believe works along with the way God designed us. That is each with free will that no one will do well to take. And so this means always letting the choice of the matter remain with the child as to train their will to do what they should and not what they want.
  • I have come to believe that this matter of control over themselves is of the utmost importance to a child and all people. In Matthew 5:5 Jesus says “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is power under control.
  • The idea that power not under control leads to inheriting nothing is an important thing to consider. If we want to have things we need to stay under control. If we want to have a good reputation, wisdom, understanding, wealth or any measure of a thing desired we can not just do whatever we have the power to do. But we need come under control and do what is required. Do what we ought to do.

Discipline is Mr. Trumbull’s next topic. Discipline to the end of self control. This idea that discipline begets self discipline. President Porter of Yale said, “The chief advantage of the college curriculum is, that it trains a young man to do what he ought to do, when he ought to do it, whether he wants to do it or not.” Mr. Trumbull suggests that any course of training for a young person that does not accomplish this is a failure. Mr. Trumbull goes on to say, “Hardly anything can be more important in the mental training of a child than the bringing him to do what he ought to do, and to do it in its proper time, whether he enjoys doing it or not. The measure of a child’s ability to do this becomes, in the long run, the measure of his practical efficiency in whatever sphere of life he labors.”

So what is discipline then and how is a parent to go about it? A modern view of discipline can be found referred to as punishment. Here I am endeavoring to return to a Biblical understanding discipline, its place, purpose and how we are to go about it as parents.

Depending on the translation ‘discipline’ can be found as little as once and in other versions as many as eighty times in the Bible. Most of the occurrences deal with some sort of parental relationship. God to His children and men to their children, etc.  These relationships are different of course but much the same. Thank God for providing us thee example to when considering our steps.

Discipline begins with instruction

The word discipline appears only once in the King James Version. In Job 36:10 which reads: “He openeth also their ear to discipline, And commandeth that they return from iniquity.” It doesn’t read ‘he openeth also their backside’. The Bible tells us discipline starts with words. God’s word; also referred to as God’s law, precepts, commandments, statues, etc. These are instructions and warnings, meant to show us and guide us back in line with the creation. In Deuteronomy 4:36 we see that His word is instruction. “Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.”  2 Timothy 3:16 also reinforces this truth; “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

From this we get a much different understanding of the word discipline than that of today. In fact, in ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’ discipline is defined as the following: “1. Punishment. 2. [obsolete] instruction.”  Disappointing isn’t it?, our modern definition has proclaimed the Biblical definition of discipline obsolete.

In the Hebrew hă mȗ sār, our discipline, is found 51 times in the Hebrew Bible. 31 of those times it is translated instruction; 8 of those times it is translated correction; 7 of those times it is translated chastise.

Discipline’s foundation is leading by example

The word discipline itself comes from a Latin word meaning ‘instruction’ or ‘training’. As Christians we see this word in the core of what it means to be a Christian. To be a disciple of Christ. Christ patterned this for us in the gospels as He discipled the 12 apostles and it is clear in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-19) that at the center of discipline is teaching or instruction. When we look at how Christ taught his disciples it was first leading by example. One of the most incredible blessings we have is Christ’s example for us all to follow. One who learns by following is called a disciple. Interesting.

Discipline calls for physical punishment

Jesus Christ gives us the perfect example of how a man on earth should discipline those he leads. While the majority of the time Christ lead by example and served those He lead. He did rebuke and also physically discipline when needed. An interesting fact though is the proportion in these situations. While Christ was in a constant mode of discipleship, only once do we see physical discipline. Matthew 21:12-14: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Notice how Jesus draws His authority from the Word of God. Proverbs 22:15 tells us plainly the importance of physical discipline for our children. It reads: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; But the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

Discipline is the duty of the parent

Deuteronomy 8:5 reads: “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.” It does not read ‘as some men chasteneth their sons’. It’s not some, rather it is a given that all men chasten their sons because they love them. This is what parents do. If a parent does not do it they are not a parent.

Hebrews 12:7-8 reads: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:” God makes a promise to David and shows us what a good father will do.

Proverbs 13:24 reads: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Discipline is what a loving parent does.

Discipline is hard on the parent

Proverbs 19:18 reads: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, And let not thy soul spare for his crying.” In my estimation this is a warning to parents. Your very soul will be moved to spare your child of discipline, but you need overcome it for your child’s sake. Push through the short term pain and trust in God that disciplining this young precious child of yours is critical and it is worth it in the end. Hebrews 12:11 gives us understanding of how it will work out in the end. It reads: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”  A child knows their is love in discipline.  Some of the most precious times with a child are in the peace and restoration of relationship that occurs after discipline as been administered.


-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

-A study in discipline

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

A Study in Parenting

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
-King Solomon

Inheritance parenting

Jamie and I are expecting our first, praise God! I have heard several times now from several folks that there is no instruction manual for being a parent. I am starting to think there is though. In my experience the Bible speaks to everything that matters in life. Of course, it is not in manual form; step one, (my word, I can’t even think of step one… God help me.) Perhaps, it is love the LORD… we will see.

Jamie and I have been reading through the Proverbs each day in preparation for, God willing, the baby’s arrival. So much in the Proverbs speaks to child rearing and so much of child rearing speaks to discipline. A good friend of ours recommended to us a most excellent book, which speaks on the subject, in my opinion quite well: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull, published in the year 1890.

Mr. Trumbull was the grandfather of Elisabeth Elliot. Many know the Elliots’ from the books, documentaries, films, and plays telling their story. The Elliots’ did missions work in South America. While on mission in Ecuador, Elisabeth’s husband, Mr. Jim Elliot, felt called to share the gospel with a neighboring tribe who were known as a violent people. Against local advice that he would be killed if he approached them, he went and was in fact killed attempting to share the gospel with them. Elisabeth, with her newly born baby, decided to stay there despite this tragedy and eventually was able to share the gospel with the tribe who killed her husband. I say all this to validate Mr. Trumbull as a child raiser. When I learned this family had produced a book on child rearing I felt very lucky to be able to read it.

As we venture through the Proverbs through the lens of child rearing I am endeavoring to make a full study of Mr. Trumbull’s book. Blogging about takeaways from the book will be an exercise in learning it well enough (hopefully) to pass it on and make use of it. God help me.

The first takeaway is Mr. Trumbull’s call for child training. He sets out by defining training then comparing and contrasting it to teaching.

…the training of a child is the shaping, the developing, and the controlling of his personal faculties and powers; while the teaching of a child is the securing to him of knowledge from beyond himself. It has been said that the essence of teaching is causing another to know. It may similarly be said that the essence of training is causing another to do. Teaching gives knowledge. Training gives skill. Teaching fills the mind. Training shapes the habits. Teaching brings to the child that which he did not have before. Training enables a child to make use of that which is already his possession.

Teaching gives knowledge where training departs habits of self control. Interesting. So much of life and children is in legacy. And legacy (what we leave) begins with inheritance (what the child gains), heritage and resource alike. Just recently I blogged on a most important truth that Jesus lead with in His sermon on the mount:

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

In sum, if you want to inherit anything you have to be under control (meek: power under control). Mr. Trumbull suggests that while a newborn may not be able to receive knowledge right away they can learn a degree of self control. Praise God that His creation works so perfectly. That a newborn can learn self control prior to receiving any power. Power without control is not a good thing, it’s dangerous.

So lesson number one. Child training should start from birth. If I desire my child to inherit anything they should need self control.


-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Power Under Control

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
-Matthew 5:5

meek power under control

I was recently approached by the National Society of Leadership and Success to do an interview. The interview would later be sent to their over half million members across the country. It was quite an honor to be asked for advice on leadership and success. Praise God! During the interview I was asked for advice on leadership, collaboration, and passion. And at the end of the interview I was asked if I had any last, one piece of advice for the leaders of tomorrow. I talked about Matthew 5:5:

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

Members in this society get advice from leaders such as Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard; Tony Hsieh, CEO of; and Rudolph W. Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City. Speaking amongst leaders with such depth of experience, it was my estimation that the only way I could pass muster was to turn to the Bible. This was my closing one piece of advice to the leaders of tomorrow:

As members of this society, you all are getting more powerful all the time. You are learning and applying advice from some of the most successful leaders in world. The only thing left to do is stay under control. If you stay under control you will get it all. That is my version of Matthew 5:5; blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Meek is a word that is often misunderstood. Meek is power under control. The word picture to think about here is a snorting war horse, but with a bit in its mouth. Extremely powerful and under control. Unbridled power will not end well. Stay under control and you will get it all.

In closing, let us think about this word picture a bit more and where it comes from. First its origin. Our english meek is the closest we have to the original in the greek. Praus, in Greek was used to describe a war horse that had learned to obey immediately and absolutely, amidst the great chaos of battle.

A snorting stallion prepped for war. Imagine with me one state: trampling underfoot. Charging and crushing the enemy. Another state: trotting right past another friendly. Imagine seeing the war horse pass before battle on friendly lines. Being close enough to reach out and touch it. Feeling the earth tremble under the force of its hooves. The respect given the animal. One would understand the power of the beast. Thank God for the bit controlling it moment by moment. For unbridled it would wreck havoc. At a moments notice the order can change and the stallion obeys. God be our bit, let Your spirit lead us and show us what to do. May we listen, hear and obey.

 -A takeaway from an press interview

-A takeaway from a study in Matthew 5:5

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.