This is an excerpt from Dr. Will Ryan’s upcoming book, the second part in the trilogy series “this is the way” to be released in the fall of 2022.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix
Family is difficult. I have seen the best preachers and teachers I have ever heard at a church service nearly crumble in defeat in front of their own families. I know more family members that don’t talk to each other any more because of religion than any other singular reason.
Acts 6:2 uses a Greek word arestos. It means to set up a positive relationship, to create peace. Jesus was a peacemaker. In Matthew 5 Jesus connects the pure in heart to making peace. Too often within family relationships, our hearts are not pure. We have physical selfish agendas and quite frankly we want to “win.” That wasn’t the mindset of Jesus. By the worlds standards he lost. That was the cross. By the father’s standards, the cross brought redemption for all of the world. The world, those apart from God, can’t understand your mission in Jesus. They never will, especially if you are attaining to be a true disciple. Those that share your love for Jesus might be one step closer, but hearts will always be divided. The qualification of making peace according to the definition of Jesus is to have a pure heart, and that purity comes through a regular and authentic encounter with Jesus. Being led without end by the Spirit of the Lord. Throughout the Bible, purity in the heart often trumped everything else. Love God and Love your neighbor.
You have to continually desire and work on seeking to be a peacemaker. A peacemaker, abides in grace, isn’t easily angered, seeks reconciliation and overlooks minor offenses. They pray fervently that they may bind together, not tear apart. Peacemakers know that mercy reigns and rains. Grace and mercy bring forth peace. James uses a term translated as “unwavering.” This is a hapax Legomenon, which is a Greek term that literally means “being said once.” The Bible contains hundreds of hapax legomena, words that only appear once in the Bible. Because of this, the word can be difficult to translate. The context of the chapter helps us to understand that a peacemaker should be simple and undivided (which is the Biblical term meaning double minded.) The idea is to be an authentic, transparent person without pretense.
At the core of Jesus’ mission, he came that he might bring peace, and called His disciples to also go forth in the same heart and spirit. A lot of people greet others with familiar terms like, “peace be with you,” or shalom; the idea is that we should be at peace with each other within the kingdom, and the world we live in. Start with your family. Pray fervently that you might bring life and peace to them. Check your guns at the door and think backwards. Jesus didn’t come that He might win by worldly standards; He came that He might bring peace and reconciliation and rejoice in losing by the standards of the world. Be Jesus.
Proverbs 22:6 KJV – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
This verse has been a little bit of a life mantra for me. My kids are my primary ministry, nothing else out ranks that in my life. The “King James” idea of “training a child” might be misleading though. Proverbs is typically written to the student not the teacher. This proverb isn’t about making a child follow a path determined by the idea of their parents. It’s about directing the child in a path essential to who the child is based on who God is sculpting them to be.
The Hebrew word here is “chanok” that is pronounced very much like the chinook fish but with more of an “a” sound at the beginning than “I” sound, which is actually pretty close to how a Wisconsite pronounces it anyway! (This is for all you sportsman to remember this by!) in Hebrew there are several words that are used in comparison to our one or two English words for something. This particular word takes on the idea of dedication, work, repetition, diligence, conviction and strategy but is guided by something much like the modern idea of karma but directed by God. (I am not really sure what the world thinks Karma really is or where it comes from!)
What’s interesting is the tense that it’s written in. It’s written in what is called the imperative tense. There’s an idea that their course is determined according to the individual makeup of the student. It’s not “my way or the highway” kind of thinking; it’s the idea that God has creatively designed each person to follow a path that is only made for them, but he provides shepherds and Cowboys (I prefer this term) along the way to keep them on course, In the case of my family, the primary cowboy is me, but there are a lot of others also contributing to the shepherding experience.
I’m constantly figuring out what each of my kids were born to be and as I find that out, I’m praying that God guides me how to masterfully lead them in self learning through Him. This is one of the hardest things for a father to sometimes let go and trust. In Hebrew the word for the ever-changing path to follow is the same word for a cow Path! If you step out of God’s dynamic plan, you’re gonna step in a cow pie somewhere along the way, but that’s part of the process!
Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Proverbs 4:26 NASB
When we look closer at this verse we find that the word for watch is palas. It means “to weigh out or to make level.” It carries the idea of being strategic or deliberate in your walk. It also carries the notion of repetition in the build or walk. Practice. The word used for “Walking a path” is a metaphor for living according to a code in most of scripture (Torah) but here a different Hebrew word is used instead. In this verse, the word translated “path” is ma’gal. Whenever I am reading Hebrew and a word is used that I am not familiar with or wouldn’t have used myself in the translation, it makes me wonder why it was used. In Hebrew the word used means cow, not path. The idea here insinuates a cow path which in sacrificial terms is the path to the altar or holiness. Think about that for a moment!
The path leads to the altar and the altar leads to destruction, and destruction (in a spiritual sense of dying to yourself) leads to life, and life leads to God’s purposes. So according to Proverbs 22, the key is to not send children down the same path you took or worse a bad path; but to help them find the cow path to holiness that was made for them. And sometimes that’s very difficult. Imagine how our heavenly father feels doing the same with us! What we might step in is also part of what trains us.
This is a dedication to “what His way dictates,” not what “you” desire. This can be bathed through a lot of prayer but also hands-on action. My children’s favorite thing in life is when I truly just stop and give them my complete attention.
My boys bow hunt a lot. My two oldest boys both harvested “fair chase” world class non typical bucks before they were 13. The third oldest desired more than anything in the world to do the same, or so it seemed. I hunted nearly every day of the Wisconsin deer season with him. He passed well over 100 deer and many of them were magnificent creatures, scoring easily into the 130’s, but they weren’t world class deer. At one point in the season, I was beginning to get frustrated and said something to him along the lines of, “These are great trophy bucks, most kids your age (and adults I know) would never pass on deer like these!” I went on to say that his brothers got lucky in a way and that some people never have the opportunity in their entire life to shoot a world class buck. He looked deeply into my eyes, and I could sense a quiver in his little voice as he apologetically said, “Dad, it isn’t really that I am waiting to shoot a monster buck. I would like that, but the reason I haven’t shot a deer is because I don’t want to stop hunting with you every day.” It was at that moment when I realized more than ever that I need to spend every second I can with my boys leading them to the altar both in word and action. It also made me understand the heart of God towards me.
Lastly if you feel like you’ve blown it with your kids, it’s never too late. Keep praying and keep working. Devote the best of your gifts to them and accept the cowpies as strategic training. A lot of the applications indicated in this chapter also may be applied to brothers and sisters in Christ within a mentor and mentored process! We are given eyes to see not only for ourselves in our physical family but also to those in our spiritual family. When we are reborn with Christ, there’s no differentiation between our earthly family and our spiritual family; we’re all one together. I love it when someone from my spiritual family also invests in the lives of my children. Peace, Unity, and trust is still a big part of the picture.