4 Homeschool Lessons From the Life of Philip Bliss

I know of people who keep a Hymn Book by their Bible and sing from it after their Quiet Time. The best book next to the Bible may be the hymn book because it is filled with riches and truths to bless our hearts. This morning I was singing in my Quiet Time, My Redeemer by Philip Bliss.

The hymn writer, Philip Bliss is the author of many hymns in our hymnals. He wrote well-known hymns, including  Almost Persuaded, Hallelujah, What a Saviour!, Let the Lower Lights Be Burning, Wonderful Words of Life, and the tune for Horatio Spafford’s,  It is Well with My Soul.

I am always curious to find out about the parents of those people who have made an impact for Christ while they lived. Philip Bliss was a person who made a difference. I believe we can look at his parents and learn from them as they spiritually and wisely invested into their son.

  1. Bliss’ Dad encouraged his family to daily pray. Do we encourage our family to pray?
  2. His Dad loved music. He delighted in his son having a passion for singing and helped him develop musically.  What are our children’s’ God-given passion? What are we doing as parents to help them develop their passion?
  3. I love this about Bliss’ mother: Bliss had little formal education and was homeschooled by his mother who used the Bible. The fact that his mother taught her child from the Bible, melts my heart. In our home, do we open the Bible daily to read to our children and to teach our children?
  4. Bliss developed a hard work ethic at a very young age. His family was poor and he had to work to help out the family. Now, I do not advise sending a child out to work at the tender age of eleven, but God worked it out for good in Bliss’ life. Do we give our children a good work ethic? Do we find ways to teach our children the value of money? Barry and I offered financial incentives for doing extra chores. Help children to be creative in earning extra money. One way we decluttered, plus got children involved in earning extra income was with garage sales. When the people arrived, our children set up the lemonade stand, sold homemade cookies and passed out free Gospel tracts.  Help older children build their own budget.

Check out the book by Larry Burkett: Money Matters For Kids

What would you do if the next few days were your last on this earth?  Not realizing it would be his last days on this earth, Philip Bliss spent his last days blessing us all!

trainOn a very cold December 29, 1876, Philip Bliss was traveling to Pennsylvania with his wife to be with some friends. He traveled by train and spent most of the time on the trip writing lyrics for yet unpublished hymns.

As the train was approaching Ashtabula, Ohio, it began to cross a steel and wooden bridge that spanned a several hundred feet deep ravine. The winter weather had shaken the moorings of this bridge, and when the train was halfway across, it gave way. The train immediately plunged into the ravine below. The passenger coaches ignited with fire because of the pot-bellied stoves inside that burst into flames upon impact.

GravestonePhilip Bliss survived the fall by escaping through a window, and crawled from the wreckage.  However, when he could not find his beloved wife, Bliss fought his way back through the passenger coach fire in a vain effort to locate and rescue her.  Sadly, both of them perished in the flames, along with 100 other people.  Philip Bliss, just 38 years old, and his wife were never identified.

It was thought that all of Philip Bliss’ belongings, including the manuscripts for the yet unpublished songs, had all gone up in flames. Fortunately for us, weeks later, a trunk belonging to Bliss was discovered. It had been mistakenly placed on another train during an earlier stop in the journey. Inside the trunk, several manuscripts were found. One of the manuscripts had the words to the song entitled, My Redeemer. The fact that the song was sung after Philip Bliss was in the presence of his Lord and Savior made these words a thousand times more meaningful.

Philip Bliss wrote:

I will sing of my Redeemer and His wondrous love to me;

On the cruel cross He suffered, from the curse to set me free.

I will tell the wondrous story, how my lost estate to save,

In His boundless love and mercy, He the ransom freely gave.

I will praise my dear Redeemer, His triumphant power I’ll tell,

How the victory He giveth over sin, and death, and hell.

I will sing of my Redeemer and His heavenly love to me;

He from death to life hath brought me, the Son of God, with Him to be.

Never Underestimate a 3-Year-Old!

In my Parenting Bible Study class which meets on Wednesdays, I was asked by one of the Moms, “How old were your children when they started spending “Special Time with Mom?”

I knew our children were at least four, but I could not remember if I did “Special Time with Mom” when they were age three.

I had the wonderful privilege of leading our eldest daughter, Kristen to the Lord at age three.  At the time, I was not convinced Kristen was really saved, because

Kristen, standing in her Daddy's shoes
Kristen, standing in her Daddy’s shoes

she was so young.  A year later, I knew for certain Kristen was a believer, because of her deep concern for others to get saved. I saw the fruit of her salvation.  Kristen, who is now a Pastor’s wife with five children, says that she remembers trusting Jesus as her Savior at age three. I had underestimated my 3-year-old. It also occurred to me that if a child could get saved at age three, then that is a good age in which to begin having “Special Time With Mom.”

In the Bible, a three-year-old child fell on his face and worshiped the Lord at the temple.  Any guesses who this child might be?

“And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.

And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.

For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he (Samuel) worshipped the LORD there.”  1Samuel 1:24-28

handsIt was the custom in Bible times for mothers to nurse their babies until they were three.  When Hannah and Samuel arrived at the temple, the little child, Samuel, worshiped the Lord there.

“Worshipped” in the Hebrew is “shachah” and is defined as “to bow down, to prostrate oneself, to fall before in homage (respect) to God.”

Imagine that! Can you picture little bright eyed, chubby-cheeked Samuel in the temple showing honor to God by bowing down and worshiping Him? A three-year-old child fell prostrate before the Lord and worshiped Him! How precious is that!

How can this happen?  We understand “how” by studying Hannah, his mother. Samuel learned faith from his mother. While Samuel was worshiping the Lord in the temple, his mother, Hannah, broke out in a song of praise to the Lord.

We must also remember that Hannah was doing something very difficult at the time she broke out in praise. This mother was called of God to surrender her child to minister full time in the temple of God. Can you imagine dropping your three-year-old child off to live permanently somewhere else? The deepest level of worship is when a person praises God in the midst of pain and sorrow.

“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2: 1,2.

Why would a little child worship the Lord? Do you think Hannah may have mother baby~whispered these words of praise in her son’s ear while she rocked and nursed him? Do you think Samuel worshiped God at age three, because his mother, whose life exemplifies faithfulness, taught her son to be faithful to God? Spending one-on-one time with her son, Hannah taught him to love the Lord.

Hannah did not underestimate her three-year-old child. Have we underestimated our three-year-old child?

I was not positive my child had trusted Jesus to save her at age three, but I did ponder it in my heart and wondered. Then, I saw the fruit of Kristen’s salvation a year later, and I knew for certain my daughter had trusted Jesus as her Savior.

I believe Hannah started training up her child in the way he should go as soon as he was born. Hannah was known in the Bible for praying aloud. I am sure her baby recognized his mother’s voice from hearing her pray while he was within the womb.

If I were asked today, “At what age was your child, when he started having Special Time With Mom,” I would answer differently. I would say, “I cannot remember what age I began “Special Time with Mom,” but I now believe a 3-year-old will benefit more than we can ever imagine.”

We must never underestimate our three-year-old child. We must never underestimate the incredible influence a faithful, praying mother has over her little child, even while nursing him and even while he is in the womb.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”  Luke 18:17

Teach Child: Put off Carnal Attitudes~Put on Christ-likeness

At our Parenting Bible Study, the leaders of each small group had a panel discussion. I spoke on the need to encourage our children when we see Christ-like character qualities. Included is a list of definitions of character qualities that we used when our children were growing up. May we, as parents teach our children to put off carnal attitudes and put on Christ-likeness, and may we be good examples.

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Put On     /      Put Off:

Alertness vs. Unawareness

Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

Attentiveness vs. Unconcern

Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

Availability vs. Self-centeredness

Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21)

Boldness vs. Fearfulness

Confidence that what I have to say or do is true and right and just in the sight of God (Acts 4:29)

Cautiousness vs. Rashness

Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

Compassion vs. Indifference

Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others (I John 3:17)

Contentment vs. Covetousness

Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness (I Timothy 6:8)

Creativity vs. Underachievement

Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)

Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness

The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God (James 1:5)

Deference vs. Rudeness

Limiting my freedom in order to not offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21)

Dependability vs. Inconsistency

Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

Determination vs. Faintheartedness

Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

Diligence vs. Slothfulness

Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

Discernment vs. Judgment

The God-given ability to understand why things happen (I Samuel 16:7)

Discretion vs. Simplemindedness

The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

Endurance vs. Giving up

The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

Enthusiasm vs. Apathy

Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit (I Thessalonians 5:16,19)

Faith vs. Presumption

Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it (Hebrews 11:1)

Flexibility vs. Resistance

Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

Forgiveness vs. Rejection

Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

Generosity vs. Stinginess

Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

Gentleness vs. Harshness

Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness

Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

Hospitality vs. Loneliness

Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with those whom God brings into my life (Hebrews 13:2)

Humility vs. Pride

Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness

Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

Joyfulness vs. Self-pity

The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

Justice vs. Fairness

Personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

Love vs. Selfishness

Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

Loyalty vs. Unfaithfulness

Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13)

Meekness vs. Anger

Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5)

Obedience vs. Willfulness

Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority (II Corinthians 10:5)

Orderliness vs. Disorganization

Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

Patience vs. Restlessness

Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness

Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks (II Timothy 2:24)

Punctuality vs. Tardiness

Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness

Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10)

Responsibility vs. Unreliability

Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me (Romans 14:12)

Reverence vs. Disrespect

Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me (Proverbs 23:17–18)

Security vs. Anxiety

Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence

Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:24–25)

Sensitivity vs. Callousness

Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

Sincerity vs. Hypocrisy

Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness

Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

Thriftiness vs. Extravagance

Not letting myself or others spend that which is not necessary (Luke 16:11)

Tolerance vs. Prejudice

Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

Truthfulness vs. Deception

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

Virtue vs. Impurity

The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

Wisdom vs. Natural Inclinations

Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10)

Do you know other character qualities we need to “put on?”


I Believe God Does Not Speak in Probabilities; God Speaks in Truth!

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

When my husband and I were parenting our children, we believed Proverbs 22:6 was a truth of God and not a probability. As I compared Scripture with Scripture, in that same chapter, God explained why the Proverbs were written.

“Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?” Proverbs 22:20,21.

Twice, in that one passage, Proverbs are said to be the words of truth.

When my husband and I were parenting our children, I did not know that many Christians thought Proverbs 22:6 was a probability and not a truth of God.

I confess that I do not understand why some children rebel in good Christian families. It is a sad mystery to me. I am still praying for these wayward grown children. Looking at other Christian families and wondering, “why” is not the reason for this post. I don’t know why. I also don’t know how a child’s free will to choose right or wrong comes into play in Proverbs 22:6. That is a mystery to me also. What happened in other Christian families is not my purpose in writing this post. Telling you what to believe or not to believe about Proverbs 22:6 is not my purpose for writing this post.

  • My purpose in writing this post is to tell you about my childlike faith in Proverbs 22:6 as being a truth of God and not a probability when we were parenting our children. I learned long ago that experience does not measure truth. For me, if God said it, that settled it.
  • My purpose in writing this post is to explain how my confidence in the certainty of this Scripture kept me on my knees crying out daily to the Lord for wisdom as a parent. This Scripture gave me hope and I pray other young parents will seek wisdom from God for each of their children. I desire for other parents to have this same hope.
  • My purpose in writing this post is to give God all the glory for what He has done!

Prayer~Because of Proverbs 22:6, I would cry out, “Lord, You are omniscient, all knowing. I don’t know what to do as a parent. Your Word says for us to train up a child in the way he should go… I don’t know ‘the way each child should go,’ but You do. You have future plans for each of our children, which I as a parent know nothing about. That is why I desperately need Your wisdom today. I need You to direct me. Empty me of myself and fill me with Your wisdom, power, love and grace. Thank You for lending these precious children to us. Lord, may they grow up to love You with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. I am not training them up for here and now, but with eternity in mind; that day they stand before You, their Maker. May each child hear these words from You, ‘Well done thy good and faithful servant.’ I thank You, Father God for what You are doing in our lives and for what you will do in the future. I pray in the precious Name of Jesus, Amen.”

Our three children are grown now and married. Of course, they are not perfect, but they never out-right rebelled against us, praise the Lord.  They were saved at a young age, love the Lord and are so very kind. Am I boasting in myself? No, I am nothing, nothing, nothing! God is everything, everything, everything! I am boasting in the LORD!

Proverbs 22:6 was my hope! Proverbs 22:6 was my confidence that God was working good out of my imperfect parenting.  Proverbs 22:6 kept me in the Word of God searching for treasures and in prayer crying out for help and direction as a parent.

I made mistakes in parenting, and wish I could go back and change some things. I worried about what others thought about me too much. Yes, parents have peer pressure too. I added pages to the Bible and put those standards on our children. I was being like a Pharisee when I did that…ugh. I was not always on the same team as my husband, and would sometimes become child-centered. Oh, I wish I could go back and do better.

This very week I apologized to my daughter for these wrong-doings of mine as a parent and told her I wished I had done some things differently. She said she had a good childhood and thought we did well as parents. Aww…but still, I have some regrets that make me cry to this day.

Our children~
Our children~

While our children were growing up, Proverbs 22:6 was framed and on our wall. I considered Proverbs 22:6 personally written to me from God and claimed it as my parenting Scripture.

As a mother, I simply believed Proverbs 22:6 to be truth. It never ever occurred to me to do otherwise. Why? Because God said it in His Holy Word, and His Word is truth.

Why Was I Born in Times Like These?

Do you ever get discouraged with the times we live in? I do, as I watch our great nation rapidly decline in ethics, morality and decency! Our freedoms are slowly being stripped away from our children and grandchildren.

After the news, my husband and I were sitting at the dinner table talking about the unbelievable outrageous current events that are taking place in our country, when he said, “We are living at a time when men call evil good and good evil.”

Yes, I know the dinner table talk was not good for digestion, but sometimes you just think in horror, “How despicable!”

NewsGod says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

I counted 100 Scriptures of God saying, “Woe”!  When God says, “Woe,” people had better listen!

Even though we are living in an Isaiah 5:20 time of life, we must teach our children they were born in a most privileged time. Why? God put them on this earth at this particular time to make a difference! God created them for a purpose.

We must teach our children to stand alone in a worldly world! We must teach them to be salt and light in a dark world peppered with evil!

salt“Ye are the salt of the earth…” Matthew 5:13. For salt to do its job, it must get out of the salt shaker and make contact. We must teach our children to be savory by reaching the lost.  

We also need to teach our children to be grateful to be born in a time when they have the complete Word of God. Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:17

I am glad I was not born in Old Testament days. They did not have modern conveniences such as a home with running water. Sara lived in a tent and she was considered rich. The folks who lived in Old Testament days also did not have the complete Word of God that we now have. We are living in a time and in a country with many conveniences that we often take for granted.

Reaching Muslims for Christ

We need to teach our children that in some countries the people are not allowed to own a Bible. A child must learn to never take their Bible for granted.

Pray about taking a family mission trip. Our family was able to go on a mission trip to a closed country. We legally passed out Bibles to Muslims in Spain as they were returning by ferry to Morocco and Algeria, where they are not allowed freedom of worship. The Muslims had to

Our family passing out Bibles to Muslims
Our family passing out Bibles to Muslims

hide the Bibles we gave them as they went through Customs in their closed country. So many Muslims were hungry for the truth about Jesus.  One Muslim said, “I am not like my family. I am searching for the truth.” I said, “The Bible teaches, ‘Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to God, but by Jesus.'” How excited this young man was to discover the truth about Jesus Christ!

Even if people are calling evil good and good evil in the USA, we can still be thankful we are allowed to own a Bible in our country. Our government does not confiscate our Bibles, thank the Lord. Do we teach our children by example how to take good care of God’s Word?

Teach children that having a thankful heart will cushion them from the trials that attack them. Parents, do our children see us as having a thankful heart?

We do not need to defend the Word of God, we need to declare the Word of God. Witnessing to others is not a program; it is a lifestyle.

Let us begin today to teach our children:

  • Read the Word of God until God speaks to you!
  • Study the Word of God until God reveals Himself!
  • Meditate throughout the day on the Word of God to have wisdom in the hour of opportunity!
  • Live the Word of God! Nothing gives us as much joy as precious fellowship with Christ!
  • Declare the Word of God to others, so they will trust Jesus! Teach children, “If we saw a house burning, we would do all we could to rescue the people inside.  We need to do all we can to rescue the perishing.”

Mothers, we are all a work in progress. If you have desire, discipline and determination to please the Lord, you will!  The signs of the times might get us down, but if we continue to mentor (disciple) our children, we will make a glorious difference in a dark world. Our children will brighten up the world as they shine as light reflectors of Jesus.


Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
What a privilege to be alive in these times!