Category Archives: advice

Leaving an Inheritance

Proverbs 13:22

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

A Good Man

My grandfather was a good man. He was also a wise man. He trained as an accountant and set up his own business in the City of London. When my grandfather began auditing a new motor business he became such a valued friend of the founder that he gave him shares in the business. This business eventually became one of the largest Ford dealerships in South London.

A Financial Inheritance

When my grandfather died in 1964 my grandmother was left in the position of never having any financial worries. By this time my father was a Baptist pastor serving a circuit of four churches in Guernsey, and supporting a wife and two children. Two more children were added to the family in 1965 and 1967 and it was certainly a challenge for my father to support his family. My grandmother helped out financially from time to time ensuring that the inheritance left to her by my grandfather benefited her son and helped him to continue in ministry. When my grandmother died in 1983 the money she left helped provide for my parents and paved the way for a secure retirement that continues to today. That financial inheritance has also been used to help provide for me and my family, and my sisters and their families.

A Different Inheritance

My grandfather left more than a financial inheritance. He was more than a good man. He was a man of God. He invested in the spiritual welfare of his children. My father became a Baptist pastor and my aunt trained for the mission field, but served instead in her local church in many roles including youth leader and church secretary. The spiritual investment made by my grandfather was passed to me and to my sisters, and in turn from me to my children. That is an investment I can rejoice in. I rejoice in seeing my eldest son serving as a youth pastor, while my second son is leading a house group in our church. My third son is becoming increasingly involved in a student church where he lives and recently spoke in a service. My daughter and youngest son are active members of the youth group at our church. If only my grandfather could see the results of his wisest investment.

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Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?


Strong Foundations

Proverbs 13:16

Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
Wise people think before they act; fools don’t – and even brag about their foolishness. (NLT)

Building Wisely

A good explanation of this proverb is found in Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) where Jesus uses a construction site to illustrate the difference between a wise man and a fool:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When builders came to extend my home they were required by law to dig deep foundations. Although the extension only involved two ground floor rooms, building regulations stated that the foundations had to be strong enough to support a double height extension. While the builders considered this excessive, it added an element of future proofing and made absolutely certain that my ground floor extension would stand for many years. Call it wisdom, call it forward planning, call it what you like, but I have absolute confidence in the deep foundations supporting my extension.

Foolish Boasting

I also have absolute confidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that His words provide a foundation for survival in a world that offers many other choices. In fact there are only two choices. Listen to Jesus or ignore Jesus. He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Sadly there is no shortage of fools prepared to boast that there is no God as demonstrated in an advertising campaign involving buses in the UK during 2009.

Scripture provides a response to such folly:


The Hard Way

Proverbs 13:15

“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” KJV
“A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person is headed for destruction.” NLT

 A Hard Life

Every now and then you may encounter people with a look that older than than their age. You may meet a man who is only in his thirties, but looks like he over sixty. A young woman may cross your path that is wrinkled, bent over, and haggard, only to find out that she is 28 years way too old.

What makes people look like they are much older than their chronological age? Hard lives. Lifestyles bent on destruction.

To be fair, there are others that you may see who have been through a lot of pain and suffering due to circumstances beyond their control. These, too, may look older than they actually are. Life has been hard on them. But for many, what they have endured has been the result of a transgressor’s path, and that’s a hard road.

Good Sense

A person that exhibits good sense (“understanding”) is typically a person who takes better care of himself. Good sense says, “Hey, maybe staying up late every night partying until the sun comes up is a bad idea.” Good sense says, “You know, taking that drug might be harmful, not to mention addictive.

Someone with understanding and good sense is also somebody others respect and trust. For example, this type of man or woman is the one who gets the job or promotion. He or she is the one who gets awards and bonuses. They are also the ones who have lower life insurance premiums and rarely have to pay large down payments to purchase anything on credit.

However, the transgressor is the one who nobody really trusts closing the store at night. He’s the one who always calls in sick on Monday morning. Life insurance companies consider him a “high risk” and deny him coverage. And when it comes to buying a house or new car, all he can do is rent.

Advice for the Road

Let me give you some advice. If you are planning on traveling down the “hard road” of life, plan on things never going your way. But don’t think you can blame all of your woes on those with more than you, because they have “understanding;” they can see through your schemes.

Don’t blame the government. Don’t blame the church people. Don’t blame your boss (if you can keep one). Don’t blame anyone for the path that you have chosen.

Also, if you are planning to live a life that transgresses God’s word (His law), don’t blame Him when things don’t go the way you plan. He warned you.

So, when you find yourself living in a run-down motel, remember, Wisdom has been crying out, “You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding” (Proverbs 8:5 NLT).

When you won’t listen to Wisdom, your way will be hard.


Alluring Snares

Proverbs 13:14

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

Snares

Let’s talk about “snares” for a moment. What is a snare? A snare is a trap meant to catch and hold prey. A snare is something set by a hunter. The following description is posted on the Encyclopedia Brittanica’s animal advocacy page. (Link)

Killing animals with snares and traps is an appallingly cruel way of slaughter. The caught animals do not die instantly… it often takes days for the victims to slowly die of dehydration, starvation or strangulation. Although some animals manage to free themselves of these death traps, they are then crippled and unable to fend for themselves, again left to die slowly.

Any animal can get caught in these snares, including the young, the healthy and the pregnant — snares kill indiscriminately!

A snare is something that is set for a purpose; it is intentional. Snares of old were usually things like nooses made of rope, or pits dug and covered over to look like solid ground. Snares don’t happen on their own, but are set in order to catch a specific animal.

Lures

Snares are not very effective, however, when there are no lures attached. In order for a snare to catch something, that “something” must see a reason to justify stepping into the trap. Therefore, a snare is usually baited with something the prey would really like to have, like food.

But not all snares are baited with food. Some snares are baited with other desirous items like money, fame, sex, and shiny gadgets.

On the other hand, the most dangerous snares are those which are placed in an already determined path. They need no bait. All they need is a traveler not paying attention.

Laws and Teaching

Today’s proverbs says that the teaching of the wise is a regular source of life, helping us avoid inevitable traps meant to take our lives. What are some examples?

The Teaching: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” – Proverbs 5:18 NLT

The Lure: “Life is short. Have an affair.” – Ashley Madison (.com)

The Snare: Betrayal. Broken marriage and home. Guilt and regret.

The Teaching: “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” – James 3:5 NIV

 The Lure: Debates on Facebook; Twitter Rants.

The Snare: Rash words you can never take back. Hurt feelings. Ruined friendships.

 The Teaching: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…[but]store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

The Lure: Early retirement; Investment schemes; Real estate; Travel; etc.

The Snare: A life wasted on material gain. Unfunded ministries. No treasure in heaven.

The Teaching:  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7 KJV

The Lure: “Stealth mode” on your computer.

The Snare: Shame. Addiction. Warped sense of love. Lying. Wanting more.

The Hunter

Make no mistake about it, there is a hunter on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). He is all about setting traps. The lures he uses are getting more sophisticated every day.

And this hunter doesn’t care who he kills, or how much they suffer. For that matter, the more they suffer, the better.

But the “law of the wise” will keep you from falling into those traps. The “snares of death” are easily spotted and avoided when we obey the teaching of God’s Word.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” – Matthew 6:13 KJV


Paying For It

Proverbs 13:13

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”

Scorn and Respect

There is a danger in avoiding responsibility and not listening to a warning.

Are you aware that we are each responsible for all of our decisions? Are you aware that every choice has a consequence?

The NIV states this verse thusly: He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects command is rewarded.

If you are told not to do something, and you do it anyway, you will pay for it. If you are told to do something and you do not do it, you will pay for it. Whether it be having an upset stomach for eating too many sweets before dinner, losing a friend for breaking trust, going to jail or prison, or losing your life, being told not to do something and doing it will cost you. It may not happen immediately (Think about heartburn! It comes hours after you ate that chili-cheese hot dog with hot sauce, not immediately!)

However, if you show respect and heed what you have been told, you will be paid back for that trust. Whether that comes through enjoying a great meal, growing closer to a friend, staying out of trouble, or having great health and/or wealth, it will go well with you in life.

Sometimes the consequences come later … much later.

I like the King James Version for the implication that comes through.

God has sent us commands by which to live. We all failed at keeping them perfectly.

God sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah and the Word of God, to keep those commands perfectly and then suffer the ultimate price for our failure. In doing so, the commands are summed up in two simple commands:

  1. Love others!
  2. Love God … by loving others and believing that Jesus died that you may live.

If we “scorn instruction” and “despise the word” of God, we have the promise that we will be destroyed. While there is debate on what this means, there is a guarantee that it is not pleasant nor desirable (Revelation 20:14-15).

However, if we respect and fear God’s commands, we will be rewarded with eternal life and peace with God (Galatians 6:8).

Gracious God, forgive us for despising Your word and commands. Give us the grace and power to overcome our sinful desires and follow You. Help us to love others for Your glory.


Wise Investments

Proverbs 13:11

“Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shall increase.” (KJV)
“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” (NLT)

Get Rich Quick

A very good friend of mine has often considered ‘get rich quick’ schemes. On several occasions he has arrived on my doorstep with details of some scheme he has received in the post, or seen advertised in the press or in a magazine. Fortunately the temptation to participate in such schemes has never gone beyond discussing the details with me. Whenever I see one of these schemes I cringe inside because I know that they will not provide the returns my friend expects.

Get Rich Even Quicker

The advent of email and the Internet bought get rich schemes beyond the need to mail information. The so-called Nigerian 419 scams require an advance fee and the provision of bank details with the promise of an enormous payout. It seems incredible that anybody would believe the contents of such emails, yet there are those who pay fees to the fraudsters, and provide their bank details, only to find that their accounts have been emptied and they are poorer not richer for the experience.

Where Are You Investing?

The experience for most of us is that nothing is free. If you want to accumulate wealth then in general you need to work hard. But many of us work hard without ever becoming what we would consider to be wealthy. There are more ways than one to quantify wealth and we need to question where and how we are investing. If we labor hard at our work with the sole aim of increasing our worldly wealth our spiritual investments are likely to suffer. Jesus provided the following investment advice:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)