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God's Wisdom Is Our Blueprint - Daniel 1:8-21 - In Babylon

Made for More / Mercy Hil Church
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2023 8:00 am

God's Wisdom Is Our Blueprint - Daniel 1:8-21 - In Babylon

Made for More / Mercy Hil Church

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April 22, 2023 8:00 am

Do you just try to blend in? Or do you follow God’s blueprint for your life at the risk of standing out? The more environments we are in that resemble Babylon—the more following God’s blueprint for our lives... will make us stand out.

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All right. Hey, what's up Mercy Hill? My name is Pastor Bobby.

If you're at one of our campuses, let me just welcome you. This is one of the most exciting weekends of our church life. It's the church survey weekend, okay? So let me get everybody to grab this, okay? I'm literally going to be like the teacher that walks you through this in the classroom.

And let me tell you why. This is a very important thing for us because our mission is to make disciples and multiply churches. And we want to see 5000 people baptized here at Mercy Hill and 500 people sent out. And this church survey that we do every single year is very helpful in giving us information to help us with the mission here at Mercy Hill.

So literally, I want everybody to grab this, even if you're brand new, especially if you're brand new. It's going to be even more helpful that we get information from you. So we're going to spend four or five minutes at all of our campuses. If you see somebody that doesn't have a survey, look at them until they make eye contact with you, okay?

And eventually they'll pick it up, okay? So let me walk through this and then we'll jump into our sermon for today. So right here at the beginning, we just need like your basic kind of information. Look, we got 20,000 people in our database, okay? So we need like the right names, the right emails.

You know, if you're me, you put Bobby Harrington, not Hobby Barrington. I mean, just give us your basic information here that's going to help us with our database. And then in addition to that, we love to kind of hear, hey, what is your age? Because we like to know like, hey, what types of people are here at Mercy Hill right now?

How long have you been here? That is very helpful for us as we're going through these surveys. What campus do you attend? So going through there, that is extremely helpful for us post-COVID, okay? Because we got people at all different campuses that were not at that campus before, and it's very helpful for us to know that information. And what ways do you prefer to receive information?

Some of you are like, no ways at all, but that's not an option on here, okay? So tell us what ways you prefer to receive information. How would you like to grow this year? You know, at Mercy Hill, we talk about gather, groups, giving, going. This would just be helpful for us to know for you personally. You know, if we have 70 percent of everybody that fills this out and says, I really want to grow in community, that's going to be very indicative for us for the upcoming year. If you started attending Mercy Hill in the last year, what was mainly responsible for bringing you through the doors? This is very helpful for us as we continue to try to reach new people at Mercy Hill. What do you enjoy most about attending our worship services? In the next year, like what kind of sermon series do you want to hear? Sermon series about Pastor Bobby's running or Pastor Andrew working on his farm, whatever they may be.

No, seriously, like what books of the Bible, what topics would you like to hear? Where do you think Mercy Hill should expand in the future? Okay, I know some of you have been filling that out for about five or six years saying the same place and we still haven't expanded there.

So show us a little bit of grace here, okay? But this is very helpful for us to know where you're coming from or where you know people that you feel like it'd be helpful for Mercy Hill to maybe have a campus there in the future. What part of groups ministry do you feel is most impactful for you?

What about the deeper initiative has been most formative for you? You're giving? How do you prefer to give?

That's helpful for us. Some of you that maybe are not serving right now, you know, maybe you've been serving in the past or maybe you're new, we'd love to kind of know, hey, where do you feel like your giftings fit in terms of where you would like to serve? There are many of you, question nine is very important and we're trying to get better at this as a church. Some of you, you know, you maybe serve in one of these positions but maybe you have other, you know, spiritual gifts that God's given you, natural gifts that God's given you and you're like, hey, I really feel like I could serve here.

Write that down under question number nine. Thinking about going, adoption, foster care, that's huge for us as a church. And you may not be fostering or you may not be adopting but how can you help, how can you serve in that ministry?

Number 11, which statement most accurately describes you as it pertains to short-term mission trips? And then lastly, number 12, how can we pray for you? How can we pray for you in your spiritual growth? How can we pray for your family?

Is there something going on in your life? I can promise you this, our shepherding elders will break these up and will pray for every single prayer request that's on these cards. So let us know how we can pray for you. All right, we're going to be in week two of our sermon series and hey, you could turn that in as you leave today.

So if you need a little bit of extra time to fill that out, keep filling it out. I'm not going to be offended by that whether you're here at Regional or at one of our campuses and then turn that in as you leave today. All right, so we are in week number two of a new sermon series called In Babylon. And we named the sermon series this because we're basically asking the question, what does it look like to live out your faith in Babylon? And when we say in Babylon, we basically just mean a culture that does not worship God.

Now sure, there are plenty of people where we live that do worship God. But just like anywhere else in the world, we're going to find ourselves in environments, sometimes on a daily basis, around people and worldviews and cultures that do not worship God. And God calls us, if we're believers, to live godly lives, even in an ungodly culture. And that's basically what the Book of Daniel is about.

And that's what this sermon series is about. So to give you just a little bit of context for the Book of Daniel and Daniel chapter one, God allows his people to be invaded, basically, because they've been disobedient, they've been not worshiping God, they've been not serving God. And so the king of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar, goes and invades Judah and he basically conquers them.

And so a bunch of people are taken as slaves to basically serve in Babylon in a bunch of different ways. And so you could just imagine for Daniel to go from this like crazy supportive environment, right, living as a part of God's people. Everything about the culture, his beliefs, all of it was supported probably all the time, right? From people in authority, from his parents, from his family, from the culture, from the laws, everything.

Like totally supportive of how he should be living. And now the next day he wakes up as a slave in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king. He wakes up in this culture of violence and oppression, Satanism, immorality, idol worship, slavery. And now he's got to figure out how do I live out my faith in this culture?

And it's funny because some of us think we have it bad, right? I mean, nobody's got it worse than Daniel taking a slave as a young man into another country under a powerful regime that's opposed to your faith. And now you're trying to figure out how do you live out your faith in one split second. Obedience to God and the wisdom of God and his blueprint for Daniel's life now puts him at massive risk. So one day it's safe and it's supported to believe what he does and now all of a sudden there's massive social risk, physical risk, emotional risk, you name it. You know, I recently heard sort of a quote that I think really kind of sums up the position and the position that a bunch of other young men along with Daniel are in. The quote says this, the whale that comes to the surface gets harpooned first. He's now in a culture where, man, if you come to the surface with what you really believe, there's going to be massive risk that you get harpooned. Like the tendency is to want to probably just kind of stay under the water at the risk that, man, you make waves, you come up, like you may just get harpooned. And see, the book of Daniel is super relevant for all of us today because all of us are going to be in environments, whether you're in kindergarten or you're retired, you're going to be in environments and in situations that are going to be similar to the situation that Daniel faced.

And you're going to have to ask yourself, and you've probably asked yourself this before, man, do I just try to blend in here in this situation? Or, man, do I follow God's blueprint for my life in this situation, even at the risk of standing out? And the more environments we're in that more and more resemble Babylon, it's going to be harder and harder to follow God's blueprint for our life and not stand out in a pretty massive way. And so for all of us, the decision that we make in these moments of like, hey, am I going to risk coming to the surface and getting harpooned? The decision we're going to make in these moments really comes down to whether or not we believe that God has an unchanging blueprint for our lives, even in a place like Babylon. And that's basically what we're going to look at today. We're going to be in Daniel chapter one, verse eight through 21.

And here's the big idea for today. Putting faith in God's blueprint leads to blessing. Putting faith in God's blueprint leads to blessing. No doubt, Daniel and the Book of Daniel is put forth in the scriptures as a model for us to follow when it comes to living for God in a culture that at times can be very godless. And as we walk through these verses today, we're really going to draw out two principles that we're going to see in Daniel's life that I think are really going to help us when we're thinking about, okay, if I'm in this environment that's like Babylon, what are some principles I can use that's going to help me live for God in this environment?

So let me bring in just a little bit of context from last week. So Judah is invaded, where they're at Jerusalem is invaded. You know, God basically gives the people over to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon who's invading them. And we see in verse five, it says, you know, once he takes all these young men and all these different people prisoner, it says the king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years. And at the end of that time, they were to stand before the king. So here's basically what's going on.

Daniel and these other young men, they're basically enrolled in this like King Nebuchadnezzar Babylonian school for like the arts and magic. Like they're enrolled in this school for three years. And when you think about it, and I want us the best that we can to put ourselves in this situation, it was shockingly horrible. And for them, it was probably the best of all possible scenarios of what could have happened.

So here's the horrible part. Just imagine you got these teenage boys, they watch their homeland be invaded. They probably watch members of their family killed. They're taken to a faraway land.

They literally have their names changed to strip their culture, and they had to watch all of their hopes and dreams for the future just kind of melt away. And in addition to that, I'll let you kind of read between the lines here. One of their friends that's going to begin investing in them is the chief of the eunuchs, okay?

So they don't call you chief of the eunuchs for no reason, all right? So I'll let you all read between the lines there. That's a pretty big possibility here.

That's mentioned four times, just in the verses that we are in. On the positive side, okay, they could have been killed. They could have been working some sort of slave labor. They could have had some other horrible existence, but they basically get to live in the king's court, and they basically get to serve him. So it's probably pretty cush from a material perspective, aside from this whole like being connected to the chief of the eunuchs and being among that rank of people. Aside from that, it's a pretty cush gig, but here's the caveat, okay?

You go to this Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar school of arts and magic, you basically have to have all of your beliefs, all of your culture, basically just stripped away from you over this three-year period, and you've got to be brainwashed into sort of the Babylonian way of life. And that's why I said a minute ago, we think we have it bad. Like there's not much a worse situation that Daniel's in. So I just want you all to have the context.

This is the situation they're entering into, this three-year period. And so verse eight is sort of the beginning of this, and it says this, follow along with me. It says, but Daniel, he resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food or with the wine that he drank. Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him to not defile himself.

So there's probably two possibilities here for like, why this? Why does Daniel make his stand with this? So either he didn't want to eat food that was sacrificed to idols, that was probably one potential possibility here, or these foods basically broke the ceremonial food laws that he was living under as part of the people of God. And the actual reason I don't think is all that important, what's important for us is for us to know that Daniel made a stand because he knew that this went against the framework for how God wanted him to live. That's the important part. Not like the exactly, like was it the ceremonial law?

Was it food? Daniel said, hey, I draw the line here because God has a framework for my life and this is going to cross it. Let me be super honest with y'all today and help you to kind of feel this passage. When I read this, every time I read this part about Daniel resolved, I feel like my heart kind of drops a little bit. You know, I have three boys that are not all that different from Daniel's age at the time, and you just imagine them being taken away in slavery to another nation with a different culture, different beliefs, the natural inclination would be like do anything you can to stay safe and come back to us. You know, I think about my grandpa who's still alive, he's 91 years old. He tells me about when he was a young teenager seeing his two older teenage brothers get shipped off to World War II. You know, and one of them never coming back, not knowing how he died, not knowing the cause, no body, nothing.

Died some island off Japan and the grief that caused his mom. You can imagine in a situation like that, the inclination would be, son, you do whatever it takes to put your head down, don't come to the surface, and you make it back to us alive. But that's not what Daniel does. That's not what he does.

He's willing to go up to the surface, and I just want you to feel that environment that he was in and the natural sort of reaction I think all of us would have. Look at verse 9. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuch said to Daniel, I fear my lord the king who assigned your food and your drink, for why should he see that you're in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age?

So you would endanger my head with the king. So the chief of the eunuchs here, he is having the absolute normal reaction to this whole situation, okay? I mean, he's not called chief of the eunuchs for no reason, okay? Like, I don't know how your chief of the eunuchs, you're kind of a eunuch or you're not, but he's chief of the eunuchs, okay? So he knows the power of the king. And so you could just imagine, right? He's like, you want me to do what?

Like, just how's this conversation going to play out? Sir, king Nebuchadnezzar, so like, you know that nation we just invaded? We conquered them. We defeated them. So there's a small group of young men.

How do I say it? They're not super pumped about the menu. We're giving them our wine, our food. They got an issue with it, you know?

I'm sorry. You know, I don't know, is it a gluten thing? Is it a carbs thing?

Is it an organic thing? No processed food thing? I mean, can you imagine? Can you imagine? I mean, I get upset when my kids, like, don't want to eat the pizza we're eating. And you're going to go to the king and say, you got this group of boys that got an issue with the menu?

Like, they could be over serving with the work crew. Like, you're getting to be in his sort of, like, entourage in the kingdom. But Daniel insists.

Like, he stays at it. I mean, look at verse 11. Then Daniel said to the steward, whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you. And deal with your servants according to what you see. So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days, it was seen that they were actually in better appearance and fatter in flesh than all of the youths who ate the king's food. So the steward took them away, took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.

As for these youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had an understanding in all visions and dreams. So I have a Ph.D. in theology. One of the things I don't understand here, who knows someone who's gotten fat eating vegetables, okay? I ain't never seen a vegetable make somebody fat. I don't know if this is a southern thing, you know?

Like, you go to the southern vegetable menu and it's like mac and cheese and banana pudding and fried okra and cornbread. Like, I don't know. You guys know what I'm talking about.

I don't know if it's that, but he's, you know, man, they're doing the vegetables and the water and they're getting fatter of flesh and becoming more healthy than everybody else. You get the picture though. The point of all of this is Daniel, he draws a line. He says, this is what I believe. I'm not stepping over this line to the massive risk of his own safety. And so we got to ask the question, okay, why?

Like, why does he do that? And I want to draw the first principle today, and it's this. God's wisdom is the blueprint for life in Babylon. God's blueprint, God's wisdom is the blueprint for life in Babylon.

Can you imagine how disorienting it was for Daniel? For one day to be living among God's people in Judah, in the next, you're living in Babylon. To having your values supported, to having your values, beliefs, world view, name, culture, everything stripped away from you. And many times, I don't want us to miss this, it's these massive environmental changes that can cause people to stop following God. We cannot underestimate the power of environment, both good and bad. I remember earlier this year, I read the book Atomic Habits. Some of you maybe have read this book.

And he's talking about the power of environment in that book, for building habits good and bad, breaking them. And he used this illustration in the book from 1971, so 16 years into the Vietnam War. These two congressmen go over to Vietnam and they were shocked because like a huge chunk of the service members were doing heroin. And they were just kind of shocked by it. And so under President Nixon, like they started this whole drug thing and all of that to help them. It was like 30 percent to help them try to get off. And one of the surprising things of all this was when they came home, and this sort of broke the way that people thought about drug addiction at the time. People thought you can't get off of heroin once you get on it. But when they came home, only five percent of them relapsed. And the point he made in the book was this massive environmental change was the thing that helped most of them not relapse.

Because they're in a completely different environment around different people and it's just like totally different. And it really shows you like the power of environment, both positive and negative. I mean, that's sort of a positive example. You think about like COVID, like a negative example, right?

Over the last three years, right? People are stuck inside. They're not going to school.

They're not going to work or whatever. And you got this epidemic of, you know, depression, suicide and drug use. And it's meant the power of environment.

You think about all the stories you hear of this high school student. They're serving God and they're strong in their faith, seemingly. They go off to college and it's like two months later, they're just not even a believer anymore. It's the power of environment. You know, you think about like a young family that they got a great support system here and they move off somewhere else. They don't really think about it. You know, the power of having their friends and this different stuff in their life and they move to a new environment. Before you know it, it's like, man, they've not even been in church in two years. It's just like the power of environment. And so we got to look at Daniel's situation here and say, hey, this was a tough situation to be in.

99% of the time you think, man, moving to an environment like that, that is antithetical to your beliefs, you're going to have them stripped away. But here's what Daniel knew and here's what he locked in on. His environment changed, but God's blueprint for his life did not change.

And that is one thing he clearly understood. Did it matter if he was in Babylon? Did it matter if he was in the king's court? Did it matter who had authority?

Didn't matter who was in power? This is the only thing that can explain him not getting his whole worldview just stripped from him. And so the question for all of us today, and this is where we can really apply it to us, do we believe God's wisdom is a fixed and unchanging blueprint for our lives like Daniel does?

Because here's the thing. This is the only hope we have if we get in a Babylon type environment. Our belief around God's blueprint for our life has got to be 100% fixed.

And this is something all of us today, all of our campuses, this is something we need to drill down on. Because when we enter into a Babylon type environment, if we don't 100% believe that God's wisdom, his blueprint, is fixed for your life, it don't change. You don't stand a chance. If you're 99% sure today as you sit here, if you're 99% sure that God's wisdom is a blueprint for your life, you will be 0% sure when you find yourself in Babylon. As the famous scholar Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.

Let me give you an illustration of this concept of being 100% set on this. So you all know because I share it a lot. I love to share it.

I love to do these long distance races, running races like in the mountains of like 100 miles at a time. And people often ask me about this a lot of times. One of the questions people ask is, well, do you ever think about quitting? Like when you're in the race? It's a very natural question to ask.

And people are shocked by the answer. I'm always like, never, not for one second, not one time, not one iota, not one second have I ever thought about quitting. Now I've thought many times, I have no idea how I'm going to get to the finish line. You know, like I'm throwing up, I can barely walk, like how am I going to get to the finish line?

Because I learned this very early on with ultra running, especially running 100 miles. When it creeps into somebody's head after mile 50, that there's a possibility of them quitting, they quit every time. Every single time, 100% of the time. When somebody sits in a chair at an aid station, they begin to question, should I quit?

They quit every single time. And I think that's a really good illustration for this, that here, when we're here, if we're not 100% settled on God's wisdom, the Bible, God's blueprint for our life. If we're like, hey, I'm 99% settled, but I'm going to wait till I get in that Babylon sort of situation. And then I'm going to figure the rest out.

Zero percent chance. You know, a lot of people will make fun of like the Christian purity movement in the 90s. But I think the power of the purity movement in the 90s. It was this concept of teenagers saying, hey, before I get in that situation, I'm going to determine right now, I 100% believe this is God's blueprint for my life. Because if you say, hey, I'm 99% sure, but I'm going to wait till I get to Babylon to just kind of figure it all out. You know, might meet somebody nice, figure out how that's going to work.

What's going to happen? You will follow God's plan zero percent of the time if you're not 100% sure. And look, am I saying that you can never doubt?

No, that's not what I'm saying. But here is what we need to understand. This right here, being together as believers, this is the place to make up your mind. In your community group, that's the place to deal with these doubts and make up your mind. Having some strong friends and believers around you that you trust, that's the place to make up your mind.

Babylon is not the place to get things figured out, because if you do, you got no chance. And so all of us, we've got to decide today, is God's wisdom going to be the blueprint for my life? No matter how hard it gets, no matter what the risk is, no matter the fear of getting harpooned if you come up to the surface, is God's blueprint and God's wisdom, are you going to base your life on that?

For your marriage, finances, raising your kids, everything. Are you going to base your life on that? Let's jump back into verse 18. So it kind of picks up the rest of the story here. At the end of the time, so the end of these three years, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Michelle, and Azariah.

Therefore they stood before the king, and in every single matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. Alright, this is why we allow God to write the story. Because if most of us would have written this story, we would have told Daniel, put your head down, do whatever you can to make it back to us safely.

Stay under the surface, don't get harpooned. And yet Daniel, he follows God's blueprint, even in Babylon, to the risk of his own safety. And the second principle I want us to pull out, because I think this is very important as we're thinking about following God's wisdom, God's blueprint, is this. Following God's wisdom in Babylon requires faith. God blesses Daniel for following his blueprint.

But get this, three years later, we gotta let that sink in, we can read through this in just a matter of thirty seconds. God blesses Daniel following the blueprint three years later. There's absolutely a blessing that comes from following God's blueprint for your life. But, there is a gap between following God's blueprint and experiencing God's blessing. And we need to know that, we need to understand that.

This is where the battle of faith needs to be fought. Because you got following his blueprint, and then you have the blessing from that, and sometimes those things can be pretty widely separated. Following the wisdom of God, following God's blueprint is very much like planting a tree. You're never gonna plant a tree and see immediate results. Like you're not.

You will see results, but you're not gonna see immediate results. I don't know if you've ever heard people ask, like, hey, when's the best time to plant a tree? Ten years ago. When's the next time the best time to plant a tree?

Today. That's how God's wisdom works. But you see, Daniel determined through faith, man, he was gonna do the right thing, and then trust God for the outcome.

I mean, think about verse eight, Daniel resolved. And he gets a little bit of feedback we see in these verses, but he really didn't know how this thing was gonna play out till three years later. Three years is a long time.

You put yourself three years ago, imagine waiting that long to see how this thing was gonna work out. Because it's like, yeah, he got friends with the steward, with the chief of the eunuchs or whatever, but like three years goes by, he goes in before Nebuchadnezzar, like, things could maybe not turn out so great. And so we gotta understand that following God's blueprint and the blessing, it could be two days apart, it could be two years apart, it could be two decades apart, it could be an eternity. Which is why we've got to focus on doing the right thing, not the results from doing the right thing.

So many people get tripped up by this. You know, they're faithful, they're trying to follow God, and then at some point they say, man, I've been doing this for nine months, I'm not seeing the results, I'm not seeing the blessing, I'm just gonna go ahead and do what I wanna do. I think of a story in the book of Genesis, the story of Joseph. So Joseph, if you don't know, in the book of Genesis, he gets, you know, his brothers basically wanna kill him.

Horrible, horrific situation, they sell him into slavery, he goes into Egypt, he gets put in all these different difficult situations. If it were most of us, we'd finally say, God, where are you at? What are you doing?

I don't even trust you anymore. I'm just gonna do what the Egyptians are doing. You know, I'm just gonna sleep with Potiphar's wife, I'm just gonna, who cares?

Like, what does it even matter? And Joseph, over and over, over and over, said, man, I'm gonna live God's blueprint for my life. Like, I'm not gonna cave.

And what happens? Many, many, many years later, we see the blessing of God in his life. And not only this, we really need to drill down on this today, not only is there gonna be a gap between doing the right thing and seeing the blessing of God, many times when you choose to follow God's blueprint in Babylon, it will actually cost you something in the present. So it's not just that you're even, it's gonna feel like you're going backwards in the present. But you're gonna get rewarded in the future. This is how God's wisdom works. And the inverse is also true.

We've got to grasp onto this. Doing the wrong thing in the present will typically reward you. But it's gonna cost you massively in the future.

And I think for somebody here today or at one of our campuses, that, that, understanding that could literally change your life. Because you continue to judge the results of your actions from currently what's going on in your life, compared to the results from following this way of life 10 years from now. Let me give you three quick examples from the Bible, because it's a very counterintuitive principle, to think about, okay, I lose now, I gain in the future. Or I gain now or I lose in the future.

Three, three very simple examples. Generosity, for example. You have $100 and you give now, is that a gain or a loss? Like, you lose.

You got $100, you give 10, you have lost. What 2 Corinthians 9, 6 say? Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly. Whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Cost you now, bless you later. You think about the inverse of this. You think about sexual sin. Proverbs talks about this a ton all throughout the book of Proverbs. Rewards you now, costs you later. What's it say in Proverbs 5, 3? For the lips of a forbidden woman, they drip honey. Her speech is smoother than oil.

That's a good thing. But in the end, she's bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. It starts sweet, it ends in death. So many people get pulled into this trap of pleasure now but massive loss later. One more example. Maybe a little bit more lighthearted one. Think about disciplining your kids.

Proverbs talks about this also. Is it fun to discipline your kids? No. Is it easy?
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-22 14:22:03 / 2023-04-22 14:36:06 / 14

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