Fast Talk

Proverbs 29:20 

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. (NLT) 

The problem with words issued in haste is that they cannot be withdrawn. In this day and age the warning in this proverb should also apply to email. I speak from experience. Several years ago I hit the send button on an email I thought I was forwarding, without checking the email properly, or considering what I had written. I was frustrated with a certain Swedish individual by the name of Lennart who had just informed that he would be unable to translate a couple of documents for at least two weeks. These documents were vital to a report I was required to submit in less than two weeks. In my frustration, I forwarded the email to my boss with the comment; ‘Lazy Lenny says he can’t translate our statements!”

To my surprise, I received a reply almost immediately. Incredibly it was not from my boss but from Lazy Lenny. I couldn’t understand how he had accessed my email, but I felt my face starting to glow and radiate extreme amounts of heat as I read the words; “I am not Lazy Lenny sitting on the beach all day drinking beer!” Various excuses as to why he could not translate the documents sooner were also included. When I looked through the email more carefully I realized my error. I had hit the reply button instead of forward.

My email did spur Lazy Lenny into action and I had my translations later that day, but the point is that I wrote words that were rude in haste. I learned a massive lesson that day: The wisdom of Scripture is as important in our modern electronic age as it was thousands of years ago.

But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned. (James 5:12 NLT)

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Wise Parenting

Originally published on Dec. 25, 2013

Proverbs 29:17.

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” (KJV).
“Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind.” (NLT). 

Foolish Parenting:

There is an unfortunate parenting model that has emerged in recent days that has proved to be detrimental to the well-being of children. The philosophy says that a parent should become best friends with their child. Included in this idea is the belief that the parent should give their son or daughter the freedom to explore the world around them without any kind of boundaries, rules or restrictions. If you’ll forgive my lack of political correctness here, these are some of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard!

I know of a couple who decided that they wanted to be their kids’ buddies instead of their parents. They literally let their children get away with anything. No rules. No boundaries. No consequences. I watched them with great concern when their children were younger, and at one point, I said to my wife Liza, “If they don’t start disciplining their children, then when they become teenagers, their daughter is going to get pregnant, and both of them are going to end up ruining their lives with drugs and alcohol. Fast-forward several years: Both of these children ended up become sexually promiscuous, the teenage daughter got pregnant multiple times, their son got his girlfriend pregnant, and both of them had issues with drugs and alcohol. And the sad thing is that this story gets repeated over and over again in the lives of many parents and children.

Wise Parenting:

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says that if a parent will correct or discipline their child, the resulting benefit to the parent will be happiness and peace of mind. When my wife and I started having children, we made the decision to parent them according to the principles in the Bible. “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24, NLT).

Because we love our children, we knew we had to parent them, and parenting them included rules and boundaries, discipline and negative consequences for their actions. Today, we have four children ages 11-17, and we are so thankful to the Lord that they are Christ-like, obedient children who are kind, loving and respectful. We don’t worry what our children are going to do when we’re not around because we trust that we have trained them up in the way that they should go, and we know that they won’t depart from it. Does this mean that our children are perfect? Of course not. But they are good, and their mom and I have happiness and peace of mind.

I want to issue this challenge to all of the parents reading this today: Your children don’t need a buddy. They have lots of friends. But they do need a parent. Someone to give them boundaries and guidelines to help them learn to live right. Train them in the way that they should go, and God’s Word promises that when they grow old, they will not depart from it. Amen!

Family Group Hug

From left to right: Austin (13), Tori (15), Caleb (17), my wife Liza, myself, and Hannah (11).


Rough Justice

Proverbs 29:15 

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. (NLT)

I have memories of being disciplined as a child at home and at school. There were times when I thought that the punishments were unfair, but there were times when I knew I deserved what I got. Some punishments are no longer legal in the UK, such as the use of corporal punishment in school. In my junior school if the headmaster caught a pupil standing outside a classroom having been sent out for some misdemeanor then his overly large hand usually made contact several times with the backside of the offending pupil. It didn’t matter that the pupil had already been punished by being sent out from the class. At secondary school punishment was more brutal with the use of the cane, again against the backside of an offender. The cane inflicted significant damage breaking the skin. A caning was known as the ‘cuts’ for good reason. One caning was sufficient for me to make sure I never received another.

Detentions were another form of punishment. The ultimate sanction and one level below a caning was the ‘headmaster’s detention.’ When a teacher gave a headmaster’s detention details of the offence were recorded on a special form that had to be taken home and signed by a parent, then returned to the school where a lengthy after school detention took place under the supervision of the headmaster. The signing of the form meant that parents were fully aware of the sins of their offspring, often resulting in further punishment at home because of the shame/disgrace brought upon the family.

The punishments I hated the most were the punishments when I was blamed for something someone else had done. Adults also face miscarriages of justice, and there are men and women who have served years in prison for crimes they did not commit. A television program in the UK called ‘Rough Justice’ has resulted in a number of people being freed from jail, often many years after they were convicted despite being innocent.

It is easy to forget that rough justice is what Jesus faced after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane on trumped up charges. Those responsible for the events leading up to his execution, and especially the man who signed the execution order, were all fully aware of His innocence. Jesus may have died a shameful death, but He didn’t bring shame to His Father at any point during His life or death. In dying a shameful death Jesus brought glory to God and made a way for our shame and disgrace to be removed from God’s memory. Because Jesus accepted rough justice we do not have to face justice at all. And the name for that is grace.


A Long, Consistent Reign

Proverbs 29:14

“The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.”

The Base

One thing that strikes me about this proverb is the dependency of the king’s throne on the welfare of the poor people. Nothing about the rich or the famous is said in this verse. Nothing is said about politicians, big donors, entertainers, generals, media moguls, advocacy groups, or businesses, either. For that matter, nothing is even said about other members of the royal family, just the poor.

The poor, in this case, could be considered the king’s base, i.e., his grass-roots supporters. They are the bulk of his kingdom. They are the ones that, if they ceased to exist, would leave the king without a kingdom to rule. He would be wise to treat them justly.

Consistency

Another thing that catches my attention is the importance of “faithfully” judging the poor. The king will always be needed to rule on matters of state. He will also have to deal with controversy on a daily basis, making judgments that will affect everyone in his kingdom in some way or another. But one of the keys to establishing a long-lasting throne is the king’s ability to be consistent.

I have heard it said of leaders many times; I have even said this very thing myself of leaders ranging from pastors to presidents: “I may not agree with him on everything, but at least I know what he believes.” There are leaders with whom I have some differences,  but it is a lot easier to work with them than with others who are inconsistent, changing their beliefs with every shift of the wind.

Established

Throne Charles III of Spain

Throne Charles III of Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want to have an established kingdom? You may not be a king in the literal sense, but are you “king” of your home? Your office? Your club? Do you have those over which you rule, make a judgment, or have to enact policy which will affect their lives? The key to a long-lasting, well-loved, “established” position is the consistent, non-partial, and just use of one’s authority.

Don’t be persuaded to act in the self-interests of a select few who would hold the purse strings. Where the king fails in his duty, the Righteous King will one day avenge.

“And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” – Isaiah 11:3-4 KJV

Even so, come Lord Jesus!


Truth Revealed

Proverbs 29:13

The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the Lord lighteneth both their eyes. (KJV)
The poor and the oppressor have this in common: The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both. (NASB)

Plain meaning

This verse obviously has an upfront meaning: God, as Creator, gives sight to people of every social status. It makes sense.

One thing that comes into conflict with this meaning, however, is that some people are born blind or are blinded in the course of life.

Suddenly the plain meaning seems tricky in certain circumstances. Though we should remember that proverbs are generalized statements, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning.

Plain truth

In Romans 1, Paul tells us:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

What all of this is saying is that God has given us the ability to see what is going on around us – to discern what is right, what is wrong, and that God is real and in control.

God has revealed His truth throughout Creation and especially in His Son, Jesus Christ.

He has “lighteneth” all of our eyes, allowed us to see what is plain. He has enlightened us.

What are we doing with this knowledge? What are we doing with this sight?

Lord, open our hearts to what our eyes can see. Help us to accept the truth that is evident. Help us to trust and believe You.


Influencing or Infecting?

Proverbs 29:12.

“If a ruler hearkens to lies, all his servants are wicked.” (KJV).

The Influencing Leader:

A leader is defined as a person who rules, guides or inspires others. There are many different kinds of leaders in the world today: Parents lead families, coaches lead teams, teachers lead students, pastors lead churches, and government officials lead cities and nations. There are also people who don’t necessarily have a leadership position, but simply lead others by guiding or inspiring them.

We need leaders! Leaders help us to do what we need to do, and get where we need to go. I’m reading a book right now by John Macarthur where he says that “A true leader inspires followers. To put it simply, leadership is influence. The ideal leader is someone whose life and character motivate people to follow.” (The Book on Leadership). The world needs more good leaders today.

The Listening Leader:

The question a leader must ask is – who or what are you listening to? In today’s Proverb, Solomon warns the leader about not listening to lies or gossip. Once a leader starts down that slippery slope, their positive influence is greatly impacted. It’s so important for a leader to choose wisely those who are your closest advisors and friends, because they will either help you to become a better leader… or a worse one.

As a pastor, I have two different leadership teams that help me to do what I do. Our elders are those who help me to care for the people in our church, praying together and seeking God’s wisdom for our church family. Our church council are those who help me to make decisions regarding the finances and property of the church. With both groups of people, I look for people who are wise and spiritually mature, but also those who know the value and importance of unity.

In Psalm 133, King David wrote: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious oil upon the head… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” If we want God’s blessing, we need to walk in unity. That means there can be no tolerance for lies, gossip or slander.

The Infecting Leader:

There’s an expression that says, “As goes the leader, so go the people.” If a leader allows himself to be corrupted by evil speech, the end result is that his people will be infected by it. The Message Bible paraphrase of today’s Scripture says: “When a leader listens to malicious gossip, all the workers get infected with evil.” A pastor’s actions affect his church. A parent’s actions affect their children. And a government leader’s actions affect an entire city… or nation.

So hear the challenge to all leaders: Be a good influencer, and don’t allow yourself to be influenced by evil words. Refuse to listen to lies or gossip, and fight for unity. Amen!


Short-Fused

Proverbs 29:11

“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”
“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.” – NASB

Have you ever been around someone who has a “short fuse?” It is like you are walking on broken glass in socks. You can walk carefully for a while, but if you make one slip a shard will make its way into your foot. You can be talking with your short-tempered friend like you would any other day, but if you mention something he doesn’t like then he could transform into the Tasmanian Devil (Taz) from Loony Tunes. 230px-Taz-Looney_Tunes.svg

Then there is the wise man. This is the kind of person that can be insulted and walk away, or when something bad happens is willing to hold back his anger in order to comprehend the situation. When you are with this kind of person you can relax.

Are you the self-controlled wise man, or are you the short-fused fool? Can you relate to Mr. Miyagi (the quiet sensei from Karate Kid), or do you act like the Hulk? Are you slow to anger like a sloth is slow to do anything at all, or are you easily provoked like an army of fire ants?

“[Be] quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19-20 NASB