Category Archives: Relationships

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 

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Misjudged

Proverbs 28:21
To have respect of persons is not good: for a piece of bread that man will transgress.”
To show partiality is not good, Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.” (NASB)

Being Wary

Sadly, we live in a world dominated by people who like to take advantage of others.

This is important to remember.

There are so many friendly faces and wealthy people to whom people turn in trust for the simple reason that they appear trustworthy or might be able pull some strings.

Another example that comes to mind is of all of those people out there who add to their resumes to get jobs. Through their resumes, they pretend to have received certain degrees, awards, and accolades, or they insert false positions at companies to make it appear they have more experience.

There are also stories of people who are passed over for promotions, and they end up stealing from the company.

It can be easy to misjudge people if we only look at face value and never dig beneath the surface.

Ultimately, only God knows the heart of people.

The Disciples’ Misunderstanding

I could not help but think of one famous biblical story as I read this proverb.

Jesus sat down for His last meal with His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. Toward the end of the meal, Jesus is breaking bread with them, and then He sends Judas Iscariot to do what he would do.

The other Eleven disciples thought perhaps “that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor.” (John 13:29, NASB)

Instead, Judas went to the Jewish leaders to help them arrest and kill Jesus.

The other disciples misjudged their friend, and Judas sinned against the Bread of Life.

God, help us to not show partiality or favoritism but to treat others with justice. Give us the strength to do what is right even when we disagree or are wronged. Help us to show Your love and grace in all circumstances.


Down on the Farm

Proverbs 27:23-27 

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Tibhall cowsVery good friends of mine have a family farm. Over the years they have had to diversify in response to changes in farming. The dairy went a while back, but they still raise cattle for other people. There are several holiday lodges now on part of their land. While the father continues to run the farm, ably supported by his wife, their daughter lives next door, and she and her husband have invested in a high-tech egg business involving far too many chickens to count. The son and his wife live in an annex to the main farmhouse, and they are also involved in the farm, although the son’s wife also works full time as a nurse. I haven’t done the family justice in these few words, but the point is that the hard work and diligence of each generation on this particular farm has, in the words of Proverbs 27:24, meant that the ‘crown has endured (to date) to every generation.

If you managed to find this farm, which is accessed via narrow country lanes, you would see nothing unusual. There is a collection of buildings with the houses on one side of the road, and the farm buildings on the other. There may be a tractor and other farm machinery parked up. It looks every bit the working farm that it is!

TibhallWhat you would not see when you drive past the farm is the hearts of the people who live and work there. It is much more than the farm that is passing down through the generations. John and Jean, my friends, have been faithful in many ways. In addition to contributing to the life and work of the Baptist church in the nearest town, they have also been faithful supporters of the local Methodist circuit, with special involvement in the nearest small chapel. Their son David attended Baptist College and trained for full time ministry. Although David still works on the farm, he is also an agricultural chaplain serving others in the farming community. I know a little of what David does and it blesses me greatly to see this young man investing not only in the family farm through his labor, but also in the lives of others in an industry that is struggling for many reasons.

Investing in the lives of others is what Jesus did during three years of ministry. Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd, and gave examples through His teaching of the way that He loves and cares for His flock. This is an example we need to follow. It is also an example we must show not just to our children and our grandchildren, but to our neighbors and colleagues, and to anyone who may cross the path that God has set us on. David the farmer’s son is sowing different seed as a chaplain. But if you think about it, Jesus calls us all to be chaplains.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)


Iron Men

Proverbs 27:17.

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (KJV).

Iron Man

Men’s Ministry:

In addition to our weekly Sunday morning worship service, we also have many different specialized ministries in our church: We have a children’s ministry program which includes classes on Sundays where our kids can learn the Bible at their level of understanding. We have a youth group program for our grade 7-12 students that I have the joy of being personally involved with. We have a Christian 12-step recovery program called Overcomer’s Outreach, home groups, women’s ministry, and a men’s ministry. For some reason, the most challenging ministry we have in our church is our men’s ministry.

For as long as I have been the pastor of our church, we have had a challenge getting a good, solid men’s ministry group in place. Our main monthly meeting has been a breakfast meeting where the men gather for fellowship and to hear a challenging or inspiring teaching or testimony. However, we always seem to have a hard time getting men to commit to coming out. I’m not sure why, and I wonder if other churches have the same issues.

An Attack Against Men:

I wonder if part of the reason for this is the fact that our enemy – Satan – has declared war on the souls of men. True, he hates the entire human race, but for some reason, he is targeting the men, and trying to keep them from living totally sold-out lives for the Lord. I think he knows that if God can get a hold of a man’s heart, that he can do great things for God. Think about what would happen if we had more men in the church like Paul and Barnabas, “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 15:26).

And so this is why the enemy tries to keep men busy. Whether it is by fostering a workaholic attitude or getting them out of balance and distracted by things like sports, hunting or fishing, his goal is that they neglect their necessary roles as husbands, fathers, and men of God in the church. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those things in and of themselves – it’s all about balance).

We Need Iron Men!

Today’s Proverb is the theme verse for the men’s ministry in our church: “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” What Solomon is saying here is that we as men need to be in fellowship with one another – in strong, deep, mentoring relationships with one another, so that we can stay sharp and in keen. In our relationship with Jesus. In our relationships with our wives and children. In our relationships with others in the church and in the world.

The preacher Dwight Moody is quoted as having said: “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man.” Will you? If you’re not involved in a meaningful, mentoring relationship with other men in your church who you are accountable to, I want to challenge you to do so today. Let’s sharpen one another in the Lord!


Wandering Away

Proverbs 27:8

As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.”

Birds

A nest is an important place for a bird.

In their nest, a bird finds:

  • a home;
  • security from many predators, and related to this
  • a safe place to eat;
  • eggs, which lead to
  • young.

If a bird wanders away from its nest, it could potentially lose all of that.

Men … and Women

There decidedly has been a breakdown of the family over the past half-century. Many a man and woman has left a family to seek “happiness” or some other distant goal.

Divorce rates are currently around 50% in the Western world.

Single parenthood has been steadily rising.

The definition of marriage has been altered.

New definitions of “love” have come to the fore.

And what does it mean?

There is a lack of relational security for these people. Children learn confusing things about love and acceptance. There is a loss of absolute truth in many minds.

And what does this lead to?

Not happiness. Often it leads to pain, confusion, heartache, lack of direction, and lack of security in general.

What does God say?

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10:9, NIV

A man (or woman) who wanders from his place is the one who leaves behind his family and responsibility.

A man or woman who wanders from the Lord leaves behind God and responsibility.

Where does that leave you?

Heavenly Father, give us intimacy in our relationships, strength to endure struggles and to hold on, and a love we cannot comprehend. Teach us to be faithful through Your Holy Spirit.


No Lone Rangers!

Proverbs 27:5.

“Open rebuke is better than secret love.” (KJV). 

When I was a student at Pacific Life Bible College (I graduated in 1999, so this was a while back!), I learned an important statistic that I have never forgotten. Seven out of ten leaders – men and women called by God to the ministry – will fail. They will either leave the ministry because of moral failure and are disqualified, or they will give up because they are burned out or discouraged. Do you know what the three out of ten leaders that finished well had in common? Only one thing: accountability relationships with another Christian.

What is accountability? The dictionary defines it as to be “responsible to someone or for some action; answerable.” In other words, God wants us to be responsible for one another, to help each other to grow in the Lord! When Solomon says that an open rebuke is better than hidden love, it means that sometimes in our friendships, we need to challenge our friends, when we see them getting off track or into something that we know is dangerous. These wounds from a friend may hurt, but the ultimate result is to help them to grow. It’s like iron sharpening iron – we challenge each other to be the best that we can be.

The Lone RangerI’ve said many times before that there are no Lone Rangers in the Body of Christ. I remember watching re-runs of that old western TV show when I was a kid, the story of a masked Texas Ranger who fought injustice in the Wild West. (Actually, they have recently made a movie version of this story starring Johnny Depp, though I haven’t seen it yet).

Ironically, even though his name was the Lone Ranger, he still had a trusty side-kick, a Native American named Tonto. Batman had Robin. Frodo had Samwise. Robin Hood had his merry men. And Jesus sent His disciples out two by two for a very good reason. You must not go through life alone! “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Lord, give us the courage to be open and honest in our relationships, and allow people to speak correction into our lives. Help us to realize that we need one another if we are going to finish well! And give us the courage to speak the truth in love, and openly rebuke our friends when that might be necessary. In Jesus’ name, amen!


Red Mist vs The Green Eye Monster

Proverbs 27:4

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?

Ch Ch Ch Changes…

I was never that bothered about hitting 30. I just thought it would be a birthday like any other, the only significance being what others placed on it. I was wrong. Since hitting 30 my memory has declined, I can no longer stay up past midnight and operate the next day, sprained ankles take months to recover rather than days… you get the picture and it’s a grim one. I also noticed I was rapidly becoming a grumpy old man.

Red Mist

I decided to cheer up a bit, I couldn’t change some of the physical stuff but I could change the grumpiness, and I was doing so, and then we adopted a three year old boy! There is nothing that challenges patience greater than a child! I certainly look back on my own childhood now with a slightly different perspective! Raising a child certainly shows me the truth of the first part of this verse. For my son his anger can strike at any time with no obvious reasons and it cripples him. When I get angry it’s easier to spot the reasons but just as hard not to be overwhelmed and suddenly flip into hulk mode. Anger is overwhelming, but anger passes. Losing control is not comfortable, but it usually dissipates fairly quickly. The chemical reaction in our body does its work and then we come down. Our son certainly bounces back quickly, the events seemingly left in the past.

Green Eye Monsters

Just as we all experience anger, we all certainly recognise the pangs of envy. The writer of this proverb seems to be implying that jealousy is worse than anger. I wonder if it is because of jealousy’s lingering nature. Jealous leads us to be consumed by something we don’t yet have. At worst it can make us plot and plan devious schemes to obtain said items, at best it can lead to restless nights consumed with thoughts of our supposed ‘need’.

So What?

We may all agree with the verse in question but so what? Should we favour anger over jealousy? Anger and jealousy are both things that we are told God has experienced – so what is this verse all about? Well firstly I think there is a recognition that anger and jealousy are very much part of the human experience – there will be a day when they are gone, but for now we are stuck with them. But that doesn’t mean we have to indulge in them especially when they are both potentially destructive. This verse hints that we may not be able to control when they hit, but we can certainly limit the damage they cause.

Self Control

The problem is a lack of self control, we are encouraged to revel in our feelings as long as they make us feel better. This is world’s apart from the way of life Jesus choose, a life of self control and sacrifice benefiting others before himself. If we want to be more like Him we need to spend more time with Him drawing from His reserves of love, being strengthened to be self controlled and disciplined and getting grace when we invariably mess it up.

Philippians 2:1-11 (The Message) ‘If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.’