Category Archives: advice

Don’t Wait to Give

Proverbs 3:27-28

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”

The Call to Give

In 1998 my eldest son Nick was accepted onto a Baptist Missionary Society gap year scheme that required him to raise £2,400 ($3,700) to cover his costs. He carried out some fund raising, but also received gifts from various individuals and organizations. It was around this time that I heard God tell me very clearly to make a specific financial gift to a person serving in full time ministry who needed to purchase a new car. I refused. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money, it just sounded too much to give. Every day in my quiet time I heard God repeat Himself, but still I held back.

One Sunday morning after church a retired nurse from our congregation gave Nick a gift of £100 ($155) towards his gap year. When Nick told me, I went to thank her. She didn’t welcome my thanks, but told me that when God told her to make this gift her response was, “I couldn’t possibly give that much. I am just a pensioner.” But God repeated His instruction until she obeyed. As she related the background behind her gift I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I was challenged by my own disobedience.

As soon as I arrived home I wrote out a cheque (check) for the amount God had told me to give and posted it. I soon received a letter of grateful thanks, but had to write back and admit that I should have sent the gift three months earlier. That young man and his family are now serving God in Africa, but their need right then in 1998 was for a car so that they could continue to serve Him in the UK.

The Blessing of the Gift

What did that £100 and all the other gifts mean to Nick? It meant that he could spend six months in Trinidad working without pay as an assistant teacher in a poorly resourced Baptist school. Trinidad changed Nick’s career plans and it changed his life. Instead of looking to a career in journalism he next spent a year as a Youth for Christ volunteer, followed by three years training for youth ministry. Nick is currently serving as youth pastor at a church in the north of England.

The Message translation of Proverbs 3:27 says: ‘Never walk away from someone who deserves help. Your hand is God’s hand for that person.’ We may never see the true benefits of our gifts of help, time, or money. What matters is that we are obedient to God when He tells us to give. The blessing of the gift is that it blesses others, not just the immediate recipient.

And it pleases God.

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Focus!

Proverbs 3:21-23

“My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”

 

If we trust and obey, God will direct our path (Proverbs 3:6) into the blessings He has planned for us. We have seen over the past several days the different ways that God will bless us if we search and find wisdom and understanding. Today is no exception.

Stay Focused

Have you ever met one of those people who right in the middle of doing something, they remember that they have to do something else?  They drop the first to attend to the second. They then are working on the second when a third items comes to mind and then the second is dropped so the work can begin on item number three. Ever met someone like that? Well, if you have not – let me introduce myself to you! This is so me! I have to purposefully make myself stay focused or I will get side-tracked by other things.

As people born with a sinful nature, we have this same tendency. This is what Solomon is telling us, don’t take your eyes off wisdom and discretion. Stay focused and don’t wander off on things that don’t matter and won’t bring you blessings.

Prone to Wander

In keeping our eyes on wisdom, God has promised us that not only will HE gives us His providential care (walk in thy way safely) but that He will also not cause our feet to stumble.

In 1757, Robert Robinson wrote the song “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and one of the last stanzas in the song says the following:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

A prayer for my life is that I would constantly – and purposefully – keep my eyes focused on God. That I would not wander and take my eyes off of Him. When I do, that is when I will stumble and fall.


Underdog flies again!

Proverbs 31 gives a standard worthy of more than a mere perusal, considering the underdog status of women in that day.

Why am I always rooting for the underdog?  I love David and Goliath stories, and how the tables are turned on the bullies, whether that bully comes in the form of a person or an attitude.  Like this one: Continue reading


Mother Knows Best

Once again we have made it to the final chapter in Proverbs, chapter 31.

In summary, this is a chapter about motherly advice.

Think through your decisions. Don’t be a young Tony Stark (“frat boy” or playboy, getting drunk, partying, and fooling around with women), but be better than Iron Man (strong, smart, and dedicated to doing good for others).

And of course, don’t hurry love, no you’ll just have to wait. Trust in the good Lord, not matter how long it takes …

Wait … I just quoted song lyrics …

The great thing about Proverbs is that these are guidelines and advice that apply to anyone. Chapter 31 may be written to a man, but the advice can just as easily be applied to women, simply swap the genders, and it basically applies.


Motivational or Motivated?

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. -Proverbs 28:23, KJV

This verse reminds me of a couple different people today.

One is many pastors today who preach a message of happiness, comfort, and/or wealth. They are quick to speak well of others, yet they hesitate to speak of sin.

The second are those who do a better job of calling out wrong behavior, such as Jordan Peterson and Simon Sinek.

I bring them up because they are popular. Why are they popular? Because of what I just said: they are not afraid to tell people that something is wrong and needs to change.

Regardless of whether you agree with them, these men (and others like them) show that people are hungry for direction.

Simon Sinek in particular has very few detractors, and all he basically says is stop being lazy, stop making excuses, and interact with people in this world … in person, not online!

I have met many people who used to belong to one of those churches in which they were taught that God wants us happy. They left when the only response they got to difficulties in life was that they lacked faith or hadn’t go en enough money to the church.

It was people like Peterson and Sinek that turned their lives around.

We, as Christians, should not be afraid to lovingly call out sin while drawing others to faith in Christ. If we have the truth, we should be bold in proclaiming it, not worried that we might offend someone.

This is the truth that will change their lives, both now and for eternity.

Are we being more like motivational speakers, or are we motivated by the power of Christ to change our world?


Pass the Java

coffee-839233_1920I’m a morning person.  Case in point, as I sit to write this, it is almost 7:45AM and I’ve already been up for an hour and half.

And it’s Saturday.

Almost six decades ago, my parents named me Dawn.  Dad said it had to do with the time of day I decided to make my debut, but I wonder if God was also implanting a personality trait.

Or defect, depending on your internal clock.

I LOVE mornings!  I love to watch the sunrise, to be woken up by the song birds.  Staying in bed is like putting sugar in iced tea—a perfect waste of a good thing (with apology to my southern neighbors.)  I’m recently retired, so every day is Saturday (except Sunday), and if I see the clock at 7, I’ve overslept!

When I was working, however, I realized I needed to be a bit more toned down when entering the office, which was usually just after 7AM.  I had already been up over two hours, but my comrades may have only been up thirty minutes with no coffee yet, poor things. 

None of my three progeny are morning people, and I have been informed by one of them that I am too loud when I enter a room.  Thus, I have tried to learn to be more sensitive to my morning-challenged friends.

Evidently, mine is not a recent phenomenon:

A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning
    will be taken as a curse!

I guess Solomon needed his morning coffee as well.

This verse actually brings us to a somewhat larger issue, however, that of an overall sensitivity to circumstance in general, and personality differences in particular.  One thing I have found most informative about some of the personality tests out there has been not only the ability to recognize different personality traits in people, but more importantly how to better communicate within that person’s specific style.

In other words, how can I make my communication more effective?  Paul may have had this in mind also:

Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.  I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

Spreading the Good News—that’s ultimately why I’m here. 

Which means I can at least be patient while someone drinks his first cuppa-joe. 

Proverbs 27:14; 1 Corinthians 9:22,23 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Mind Your Own Business

He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. –Proverbs 26:17, KJV

Gossiping is pretty bad. We all agree. It causes more harm than helps, which is frequently the intent of the gossiper, though often times it is merely ill-advised but done by those who like drama.

What is just as bad is the person who listens in on conversations and then tries to take over the conversation.

It is true that sometimes a stranger can offer a bit of insight or resolution to a disagreement, but this verse is not about these nice people who politely admit to overhearing and offer help.

No, Proverbs 26:17 is about the person who hears just a little tidbit of a conversation (or argument) and assumes they are the authority. They know all about this issue, and you would not only be wise to listen but they will make sure you do!

And the majority of the time, this person has taken that tidbit completely out of context.

Now matters are worse, and either the people involved are stirred up to more hatred toward each other or this poor fool may feel the wrath of those who just a moment ago were upset with each other.

Moral of the story: mind your own business.

Unless there is a legitimate concern for one or all people involved – like a fist fight about to break out, or they are causing a major disturbance … like in a restaurant … – they can work it out themselves or will find someone to help.

Or you are a masochist who likes being verbally and physically beat up. But then you have even more issues than we are discussing today.