Author Archives: Nick
Nick lives in Scarborough with his wife, Anna, and Little Welford, their adopted son. Nick is currently a Baptist Minister in Training with an Anglican placement!
‘Desire without knowledge is not good –
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!’
It’s good to be passionate, to have strong desires to be love and to care. Without it life would be very boring, but as this Proverb hints at heart without a bit of head can lead us to miss the real path.
A lot of people these days are driven purely by emotion. They go after things they want with reckless abandon. When we are totally driven by emotion we often end up making bad decisions and hurting people in the process. People driven by emotion will throw away relationships on a whim because they have seen the next best thing, they will chase promotions at the expense of colleagues, they will attempt to satisfy every whim and fancy in any way possible, and worst of all usually be blind to the trail of destruction in their wake. Our emotions need to submit to our common sense, and both need to submit to Jesus.
Counting the Cost
We need both desire and knowledge to make our decisions as we do not want to miss the way. Consider the words of Jesus:
Luke 14:28-33 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” ‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’
May we learn the power of passion and desire guided by wisdom and knowledge.
Leave a comment | tags: Book of Proverbs, Christianity, God, Jesus Christ, Knowledge, Proverbs and Sayings, Religion and Spirituality, Wisdom | posted in advice, counsel, desire, Faithfulness, Knowledge, Wisdom
“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.”
What is Fear?
We see lots of mention of fear in the Old Testament. It’s a word that doesn’t fit well with our modern mindset, and so many people who speak about these verses reduce fear to something else. They tell us it is more like awe or respect. Yet even these words have been diluted by our present culture.
When I was a child and did something wrong, I feared the consequences, I feared my parents and the discipline they would bring, the telling off I would receive. Today children seem to fear very few things, and the ideas of respect and awe are replaced by individualism.
But what if fear means fear? What if there is reason to fear God, and this reason makes the grace He shows us all the more amazing?
In the Old Testament the Israelites were afraid to approach the mountain that God met Moses on, Jacob comments on how he came face to face with God and lived. Maybe fear is the beginning of all wisdom because when we realize that God could do anything He wants at any time, He could make our lives miserable and full of suffering, He could punish us for our sins.
And yet he doesn’t.
Instead He pours grace upon us, and in Jesus shows us how humility comes before honor.
Leave a comment | tags: Fear, Fear of the Lord, Israel, proverbs | posted in Fear of the Lord, Mercy
“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”
What God Wants…
God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.
In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.
I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.
Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.
At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’
Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.
All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.
Leave a comment | tags: Book of Proverbs, Christ, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Lord, Matthew, prayer, Solomon, Wisdom | posted in counsel, Faithfulness, Fear of the Lord, Giving Honor, Love, Wisdom
‘Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good,
and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.’
The Bible is full of good honest people asking the question, “Why do bad people prosper, and good people suffer?” This is a question that still haunts us now. The song writer Josh Garrels quips in his song ‘Farther Along’ – ‘Tempted and tried, I wonder why the good man dies, bad man thrives and Jesus cries cus He loves them both.’ The Bible also tells us that the bad, or evil will get their comeuppance. But when we are seeing the evil thrive very close to home while we also struggle to live the way we’d like, not to mention all our brothers and sisters all over the world facing persecution for Christ, this can be hard to swallow. This verse may provide some comfort in the thought that one day things will be made right, but what about now?
The Inconvenient Truth
Romans 11 verse 14 tells us that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, whether they want to or not! One day you may be falling to your knees in worship while the person next to you is having an uncomfortable moment of realisation and regret. What will you think in that moment? Will you be glad that the evil are finally about to get their just desserts? Or will you be wishing you had done more to help people see Jesus in this life so they are not surprised in the next?
Leave a comment | tags: Christianity, God, Jesus, proverbs | posted in Faithfulness, Fear of the Lord, Knowledge, Love, The Righteous, The Wicked, Truth, Wisdom
“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.”
Know Thy Self
The only person who knows your heart better than God is you. You know how it feels to be you. You know what what it feels like to hurt like you hurt. You and God are the only ones who know the depth of the bitterness contained in your own heart. Other people might have been through similar things, they might have some level of understanding but the only other person to know the full picture is God.
All by Myself
So is this proverb suggesting we should shut up shop, keeping our bitterness and joy to ourselves? I would like to suggest not. This proverb isn’t saying no one should share it’s joy, it is just making the observation that the natural state of play is that no one knows what is truly going on in someone’s heart (except God) unless we learn to share our hearts with others.
Grieving and Rejoicing Together
Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This is only possible if we open our hearts to others. Now I am not saying we should share our intimate secrets with all and sundry but it is healthy to have a few trusted confidants to open our hearts to.
When we first found out that I had a low sperm count we had to decide whether to keep this news to ourselves or share it with our church family. When I got up and told our church I said something like this: “I tell you this now not for your pity, but so that as you grieve with us presently you will rejoice with us when we have our children.”
Leave a comment | tags: Christ, Christ Jesus, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Proverb, Proverbs and Sayings, Religion and Spirituality | posted in advice, counsel, Knowledge, Love, Peace, Trust the Lord
“A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.”
The Wisdom of Fools
For a book of wisdom, Proverbs, and indeed the Bible, contains an awful lot of “fool observation.” Which is good, because I (and I am vainly assuming you) fall into the “fool” category more often than not. Today we look at the fool and vanity.
The Bible urges us not to think too highly of ourselves, but this is something most of us fall prey to. I’ll be honest I don’t just want you to like this post – I want you to love it. Because if you do I can gain some sense of validation from that, I will feel good. But just as we seek validation from the things we produce we also become extremely defensive when under attack. If something we have done or produced is received in the wrong way, a way we never intended then we feel that urge to defend ourselves, to point out the folly of the other person, and achieve our validation once again.
A Multi-Headed Beast
We see this played out in a variety of ways, be it the straight up insult, the person who disagrees with our beliefs, the more subtle manipulator, what ever it is we cry out for God for justice, and God’s advice – wind your neck in. How much time do we waste over arguments that can never be won? Defending our ultimately indefensible self? Oh we freely admit that we are up there will Paul as a “chief of sinners” but when it comes down to it our judgments prove this a fallacy.
The Wisdom of Job
Job had a lot to be annoyed about…unfairly treated by God, hung out to dry by his “friends”… but when God comes to question Job we find an echo of this proverb in his reply:
Job 40:4-5 – ‘“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer twice, but I will say no more.”
Next time you have been undermined, insulted, misunderstood, next time you have a burning desire to correct misunderstanding of your words, to defend you motives, to get annoyed at how wronged you have been – why not try being prudent for a change? It can’t hurt that much – can it?
Leave a comment | tags: anger control, communication, devotionals, hope, Religion & Spirituality | posted in Fools, pride/humility, Uncategorized, Wisdom
“He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”
Hmmm. This is a proverb I usually avoid. Why? Because I have been labelled as a bit of a dreamer. Some have called me a visionary. That might sound great, but visionaries are often the one’s with ideas who never seen them through to completion! Who wants that?
Vision vs Fantasies
I guess there has to be a distinction between vision and fantasy. The Bible tells us that without vision the people perish. But how do we know that we have the right vision? Vision will give you food, and abundant food, it will also involve work – work for you to do.
But what if you are chasing the wrong vision? A man-made fantasy? Then there will be no pay of any real value. It will provide no sustenance. You will spend your days chasing one fantasy after another to try and find your fill, to make your million, and all to no avail.
Leaning on Webs
What about the times when we are pretty sure we have a God given vision and yet seem to be making no progress? Does that mean we are chasing fantasy? Don’t ask me! Go back to the source – ask God.
Have you stopped trusting in Him? Have you moved the goal posts? Cherish the vision He has given you. Work at it and never stop trusting.
“Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile;
what he relies on is a spider’s web.
He leans on his web, but it gives way;
he clings to it, but it does not hold.” – Job 8:13-15 (NIV, edited)
Lean on God.
Leave a comment | tags: Bible, Book of Proverbs, Christ, Christianity, faith, Fantasy, God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Lord, proverbs, Religion and Spirituality, Righteousness, Wisdom | posted in Faithfulness, pride/humility, Trust the Lord, Wisdom
“[He that is] despised, and hath a servant, [is] better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.”
Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food. – NIV
Nobody Has a Servant!
This proverb had me musing for a while. Not many people I know have servants these days, even the well known ones. But digging a bit deeper and flicking across the translations we find a few varieties. The essence remains the same, and ends up sounding a bit like “count your blessings.”
What do You Have?
When Moses first got acquainted with God it’s safe to say old Mo’ was a bit insecure. God reminds him of a few things and then asks Moses what he has in his hand. Moses looks and sees his staff. Nothing special there he thinks, after all it’s just a tool I use everyday. But maybe that’s the point?
We think so much about what we don’t have, about the ways we could be blessed, that we miss the obvious – the ways we have already been blessed.
And then we fall into the trap revealed in the second part of the proverb – we start to pretend. Pretend we are more than we are, we have more than we are, we like what we don’t, we value what we despise, but yet what we actually have is nothing.
Lord, help us to look not to what we don’t have, but instead to the things You have already given us, and in doing so give glory and gratitude to You.
Leave a comment | tags: Bible, Book of Proverbs, Christian, Christianity, God, Jesus, proverbs, Religion and Spirituality, Wisdom | posted in Faithfulness, Fear of the Lord, Knowledge, pride/humility, Trust the Lord, Truth, Wisdom
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.
Finding the Threads
One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.
So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.
Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?
The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.
Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.
Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘
Leave a comment | tags: Bible, Book of Proverbs, Christ, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Righteousness, Wisdom | posted in Love, Paths of Life, The Righteous, Truth, Wisdom
“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”
Proverb or Nonverb?
If you want to run a great quiz round, make up a load of proverbs, mix them in with little beauties like this, and then ask which is the genuine article. I guarantee you will catch some people out. But just because a Proverb sounds made up doesn’t mean it lacks wisdom, or indeed a lesson for us to learn.
As we look into this idea of pig adornment, we discover a theme repeated throughout the Bible: the contrast between the image we present and the person we are. Despite this, we spend an inordinate amount of time working on the outside rather than the inside, and yet the outside makes up for so little of who we are and is often easy to see past.
Consider how small the gold ring is compared to the pig. It may catch our eye, initially (after all it is gold), but let’s be honest, no amount of gold is going to hide the fact it is stuck on a pig.
The Eye of the Beholder
Similarly beautiful women may turn a man’s head, but my experience is that if there is no substance beneath the beauty, no discretion, then the attraction is waning. I may tolerate them, but it is clear they are a pig – so to speak.
But what happens when I turn this mirror to my own life? Do I see a gold ring, or a pig? Is my “beauty” being wasted on a muddy snout?
Beauty for Ashes
In truth, it matters little what I see, but how God sees me. Can I believe that Jesus loves me despite myself? It may be hard to believe, but he does! That’s the truth on which I will stand.
Isaiah 61:3 “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…”
Leave a comment | tags: Bible, Book of Proverbs, Christianity, God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, pigs, Religion and Spirituality | posted in Love, Mercy, Trust the Lord, Truth