Start With The Heart (book review)

Dr. Kathy Koch has parenting insights that are unlike few others. Her ministry is called Celebrate Kids, and that’s exactly what she teaches parents and teachers to do in her book Start With The Heart.

Not only does Dr. Kathy lean into her formal training in education—as an elementary teacher, a middle school coach, and a university professor—but she supports all of her instructional insights with an unabashed reliance on the wisdom found in the Bible. This is a winning combination!

Dr. Kathy explains the rationale behind the title and message of her latest book, “Capturing your child’s heart and parenting to keep it may be more important than anything else you do. Your love for your children and your desire for them to trust Christ for their salvation matters greatly. For you to have motivational power to help them make that commitment, mature in their faith, and love God more fully, you must start with their heart.” 

Start With The Heart isn’t about manipulating children or coercing them into a more desirable behavior. The focus is on your child’s heart so that he or she will be internally motivated to make good choices even when you aren’t around. 

Every chapter introduces a new concept which is built on the chapter before it. As the book progresses, you will begin to see how each parenting principle is interdependent and reinforcing with all the other principles. The close of each chapter turns the mirror back on us parents as Dr. Kathy asks, “What about you?” She also shares some helpful “Things To Do” and “Things To Think About” bullet points to wrap up each chapter. 

I would recommend Start With The Heart for parents and teachers of younger children. And not just the book, but check out the Celebrate Kids website for ongoing insights from Dr. Kathy. 

I am a Moody Publishers book reviewer.

Ultimate Wisdom

Last week I posted a quote on some of my social media channels that simply stated: “Our opinions don’t matter if they don’t square with God’s Word on the matter.” This seemed to me to be a fairly uncontroversial statement, but one anonymous reader really took me to task for using the hashtag #objectivetruth. Apparently, he thinks there is no such thing. 

But don’t we all rely on objective, external standards all the time? For instance, a gallon of gasoline is a gallon regardless of where you buy it, or whether you feel like it’s a gallon or not. And when you go to pay for your gasoline, the price isn’t based on how the gas station attendant is feeling at that moment, but on the objective amount posted. 

Psalm 49 is somewhat unusual in that it is a “wisdom psalm.” This psalm feels a lot more like something we would read in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes than it does a prayer or song in the Psalms. 

For instance, the first four verses of this Psalm sound a lot like the opening verses of the Book of Proverbs. And verses 5-13 of the Psalm echo what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2. 

This psalmist—like Solomon—wants us to understand how important it is to get wisdom. So we are urged to listen intently to those who have hard-won insight, to those who have “been there, done that” so that we don’t have to repeat their folly. 

What is that wisdom? It can be broken down into two profound statements:

(1) Everyone dies. 

That can be a really depressing truth IF your focus is building your own kingdom. If all there is to life is what you can earn and build before you die, only to realize that your “kingdom” ends at your last breath, that can be very depressing. 

However, this realization that everyone dies can be a very liberating truth IF your focus is on the eternal kingdom that is awaiting you in Heaven. When you realize that Jesus is preparing a place for you to experience ultimate joy and unending pleasure forever and ever, then you will live here for what’s coming next! 

(2) Our eternal destination after we die is determined before we die.

If someone told me that he had discovered the secret to immortality, and then he died and came back to this life to tell me that his theory was correct, I would be wise listen to him. 

That’s exactly what Jesus did for us!

He told us that He would die on a Cross and that He would be raised back to life. AND HE DID IT! His hard-won insight, His “been there, done that” wise words to us are this—“Believe in Me. I died to pay the penalty for the sins that will keep you out of Paradise. So place your faith in what I did, and ask my Father to forgive your sins. Then I promise you that you will spend forever and ever with Me in Paradise!” 

THIS objective truth determines everything else about our lives. 

So I’ll repeat it again—

“Our opinions don’t matter if they don’t square with God’s Word on the matter.” —Craig T. Owens

Join me next Sunday as we continue our series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms. 

Walk This Way

In his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul uses the word “walk” seven times to instruct them how to follow the path Jesus laid down for us. 

In Greek, the word for “walks” (peripatēo) means something that regulates my life, or something that keeps me on the right path. It’s my lifestyle that is kept in proper boundaries by something outside of me. 

First of all, notice how Paul tells Christians how not to walk. DON’T WALK THIS WAY…

…following pop culture (2:2)—Living a certain lifestyle because “everyone” is doing it, or because some popular people are living that way. 

…without thinking about why you’re walking the way you are (4:17)

…without comparing your walk to truth (5:8)—Living a life because it feels good to me is a dangerous way to live. I must make sure there is an objective truth that is keeping me on a proper path.

…foolishly (5:15)—To be foolish is either (a) not knowing the truth, (b) not applying the truth I have been shown, or (c) choosing to disregard the truth I’ve been given. 

Instead, Paul tells Christians to WALK THIS WAY

…knowing I am God’s workmanship, created for a great purpose (2:10)—It may take me some time to discover my purpose and my talents, but I keep at it. 

…worthy of my vocation (4:1)—Once I have discovered my talents, I develop them into strengths that will benefit others. 

…lovingly (5:2)—Just as Jesus did! 

…in the light of God’s truth (5:8)—This is the exact opposite of foolishly walking. It means I seek the truth and I apply the truth to my life. 

…circumspectly (5:15)—Not wasting my moments, but making sure I am giving 100 percent every single day.

When I WALK THIS WAY people will inevitably notice that I’m motivated not by popularity with people, but by intimacy with God (5:2-7). They will see that my path is bordered by the principles in God’s Word (5:8-14; Psalm 119:105). And they will notice that my life has purpose and is productive (5:15-20). 

All Christians should ask themselves:

  • Is Jesus pleased with the path I’m on today?
  • Can others follow my footsteps toward their own relationship with Christ? 

If you can answer “yes” to those questions, then Jesus will be pleased that you WALK THIS WAY! 

[You can check out the Scriptures I referenced in this post by clicking on DON’T WALK THIS WAY and WALK THIS WAY above.]

Is That In The Bible?

A meme that makes me chuckle every time I see it is a “quote” attributed to Abraham Lincoln in which he says, “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true.” 

(Not to spoil the joke for you, but unless Lincoln knew how to time travel to the future, I don’t think he knew about the modern internet! 😂) 

I love this meme because it captures something that so many people fall into: a quick acceptance of a statement without verifying its source or thinking through the implications of the statement’s truthfulness. 

Some insightful comments sound Shakespearean, but William never wrote them. 

Some pieces of wisdom sound Socratic, but Socrates never taught them. 

Some religious maxims sound godly, but the Bible never recorded them. 

I would like to invite you to join me in a new series we are beginning this Sunday called Is That In The Bible? I think you may be surprised to discover just how many phrases we call biblical aren’t, and how many phrases there are that we never realized are actually in the Bible. 

By the way, if you have a phrase that you would like to have us explore in this series, please leave it in a comment below. 

You can join us in person at Calvary Assembly of God, or tune in for our Facebook Live broadcast. I’m looking forward to learning with you! 

Thursdays With Spurgeon

Nearly 10 years ago I began a series of posts called “Thursdays With Oswald,” in which I shared the thoughts that were working their way through my heart and mind as I journeyed through the complete works of Oswald Chambers. Now, almost a decade later, I have finished all 1500 pages of his wisdom. 

I think it is wise to frequently spend time with the “old guys”—those whom the years have proven their godly wisdom to be true. So I am now moving on to another prolific writer and speaker, the man called the Prince of Preachers: Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 

As with my series with Oswald Chambers, I will be sharing some passages from the Spurgeon book or sermon I am reading. On some, I will offer some thoughts that I’m contemplating in light of that reading, and on others, I will simply let the Prince’s words speak for themselves. 

Let me begin with three simple quotes: 

“The words of God have more power over me than ever David’s fingers had over his harp strings.” 

“It is better to preach five words of God’s Word than five million words of man’s wisdom.” 

“There is a power in God’s gospel beyond all description.”

I love how completely Spurgeon’s thoughts are grounded on God’s Word! Spurgeon had no formal theological training, but he expounded on Scriptures as few ever did or ever have. 

9 Quotes From “The Way Of The Warrior”

Erwin McManus leads us through the codes that define a true God-honoring warrior. It’s a fascinating journey of discovery! Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“There will never be peace on earth until there is peace in us.” 

“We have no control over the reality that in this world we will have trouble, but we have control over whether we decide to allow our hearts to be troubled.” 

“Every battle is first fought within. Jesus was never powerless. He was the epitome of controlled strength. While He was always meek, He was never weak. He knew His power but He never abused it. The warrior knows that peace does not come from control but from relinquishing control. Everything in life that you try to control that is outside your control will steal from you your peace. You must choose to take hold of what you can control and let go of what you cannot. You cannot control your circumstances, but you can control your character. You cannot control the actions of others, but you can control the choices you make. You cannot control the outcome, but you can control the process.” 

“The warrior does not wield a weapon; they are a weapon. Their strength does not come from the weapons they hold but from the wisdom that has taken hold of them.” 

“Wisdom is the warrior’s greatest weapon. When you have wisdom, you are never unarmed, you are never defenseless, and you are never powerless. You need skill to know how to shoot an arrow straight, but only wisdom can teach you how to never need to shoot it.” 

“While the warrior is informed by the past, they are not formed by it. The warrior is not formed by what has been done and what can’t be done; the heart of the warrior is formed by what must be done.” 

“The warrior is always first a servant. … The warrior does not serve because they cannot lead; they know that a person cannot lead if they do not serve.” 

“We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but without ambition we will find ourselves doing nothing and calling it humility.” 

“Whatever God has placed within you that could ever be described as great was never meant for you, anyway. It’s a stewardship that has been given to you. Greatness never belongs to the one who carries it; it belongs to the world that needs it.” 

More quotes from The Way Of The Warrior are coming soon! 

How To Get Wisdom

Steve Martin had a comedy routine where he said, “I will tell you how to have a million dollars and never pay one cent of income tax on it. First, get a million dollars.” 😂 

Solomon says something in Proverbs 4 that on the surface sounds just as comical: “I will tell you how to have wisdom and reap all the amazing benefits from it. First, get wisdom.” 

Here’s what he wrote: “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding” (v. 7).

The Hebrew word for “get” means acquire, create, buy, possess. But Solomon uses this verb in the imperative sense—which means it’s not a suggestion, but a command! He doesn’t say, “It’s a good idea to get wisdom,” but, “There is no other way: you must have wisdom.”

Throughout the Proverbs, Solomon personifies wisdom as Lady Wisdom. She is constantly calling out to people, “I have what you need. Come and get it.” James tells us the same thing, “If you need wisdom, ask God for it” (see James 1:5).

So… how does one get wisdom? Simply by wanting to have wisdom, and then going to the right source. In the rest of Proverbs 4, Solomon echoes the same thought—

—“Prize her [Wisdom], and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.” (v. 8)

—“Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.” (v. 13)

—“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart.” (vv. 20, 21)

—“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (v. 23)

How do you get wisdom? You go to Wisdom and get what she has to offer!

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