Category Archives: Warnings

Beware the Angry Man

Proverbs 29:22.
“An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.” (KJV). 

As we come to the end of 2013, am celebrating 21 years that I have been in full-time ministry. The first 14 years were spent as a youth pastor in Surrey, BC (on the west coast of Canada), and for the past 7 years as a lead pastor in Beausejour, MB (in the middle of Canada). This past year has been the hardest one that I ever went through, and found myself getting so discouraged that I actually entertained the idea of leaving the ministry. Why? It all started with an angry man.

About a year and a half ago, a couple in our church in leadership got hurt, angry and offended. But instead of dealing with the offense with the person that had offended them (as Jesus instructed us to do in Matthew 18:15), they chose instead to begin to lie, slander and gossip about that person – and that person was me. It was today’s Proverb in action: “An angry man stirs up strife.” And stir up strife he did! The result of the lies he told about me was that many families in our church left – about 25 of the 150 people we had in our church.

I was hurt, confused and disillusioned. Here was someone that I had brought on my leadership team and poured my heart and life into mentoring for years, and in a moment of time – in one angry e-mail – he severed the relationship with no real explanation for what he had done. When I asked him what I had done wrong, he simply said, “I don’t want to talk about it, God will reveal it to you.” To this day, I don’t know what I did that got him so angry that he set a chain of events in motion that tried to destroy our church.

But I thank God for the awesome promise that Jesus gave me during the beginning of this ordeal: “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). I thank God for His grace that carried me through this challenging trial. If it wasn’t for His loving, providential care for me and my family, I am sure we would have walked away from the church and the ministry this past year. But God is faithful, and I thank God for many of our good friends in our church family who rallied around us, supported us, and stuck with us through the firestorm of lies and hate.

The second half of today’s verse says, “A furious man abounds in transgression.” Not only was the result of this angry man’s stirring up strife hurtful to the church as a whole, it also wounded the hearts of many people in our church – including families and even young youth and children. When anger is left unchecked, it becomes a destroying wind that wounds all of those in its path. It is a sin that leads to many other destructive and hurtful sins.

I thank God for Pastor Anthony Baker and the other contributors at Proverbial Thought who invited me to blog through Proverbs together with them a little over a year ago. As I have written devotional reflections in the Book of Proverbs over the past year, it has been very therapeutic for me personally as I have walked through this challenging time of ministry. Many times I have reflected upon a Scripture that has given me comfort or challenge when and where I have needed it. I pray that God would use His Word to encourage and inspire you in your life as well. As we head into 2014, I pray that you would make a commitment to get into God’s Word every day!

p.s. can I encourage you to pray for your pastors and Bible teachers? We are all in a battle, and we need God’s protection from the attacks of the enemy! Thank you… blessings to all of you today.

RELATED POSTS:

The 5 Minute Challenge – Bible Reading Schedule (At The Beausejour Pulpit Blog).

BOOKLET - Bible Reading Schedule

Advertisements

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)


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!


How Are You Walking?

Proverbs 28:18

“Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.”
“Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.” ESV

Not What You Might Think

The first part of this proverb could give the wrong impression if one’s not careful. It reads, “Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved.” However, this is not talking about a “works salvation,” as some would content. Our “walk” does not save us; only the grace of God through faith in Christ.

The second part of this proverb could also be misread or misunderstood, thereby making it seem like God’s word is untrue. At first glance it may seem that anyone who does wrong will immediately suffer the consequences, which we all know may or may not happen.

The promise and warning of this proverb has more to do with the moment that will eventually come – the moment in which one’s walk will determine the outcome.

Persistence and Faithfulness

Be persistent in your walk, dear friend. Remain faithful, even when the way is hard. When the time comes, you will be grateful for the trials you went through and the obstacles you overcame.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

Stay on the “straight and narrow” and trust God to deliver you in the moment of testing or the hour of need. Let Him guide you and “direct your paths.”

A Sudden Fall

When we walk “perversely” or “crooked,” never following the way lined with warning signs, we are only asking for trouble. The second part of this proverb warns us of such.

Some think that there is no God, that His word is useless, and that life should be lived without restraint. Others, the ones who watch the godless as they travel, often wonder why nothing bad ever happens. They may even get discouraged, thinking that they are missing out on all the fun, especially since there never seems to be any pits, traps, or snares in the way.

But God’s word IS true; there is pleasure in sin for a season (Heb. 11:25), but the ultimate end is death…a sudden fall. When the moment comes, it will come “at once,” possibly without warning, and without help from the God who’s direction was snubbed.


A Tell-Tale Heart

Proverbs 28:17

“A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.”

The Tell-Tale Heart

Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story over a century and half ago called “The Tell-Tale Heart” in which the narrator murders a man, dismembers the body, and hides it under the floor. Eventually the guilt of his crime gets to him, and he thinks he hears the beating heart of the man under the floor. It drives him to confess his wrong.

He could not live with the guilt.

The Traitor

In the New Testament we read of Jesus’ traitorous Apostle, Judas Iscariot. He helped the religious leaders arrest, and ultimately kill, Jesus. In his grief and guilt, he committed suicide. (See Matthew 27)

He knew he had killed Jesus, and he could not live with the guilt.

What About Us?

Are these stories and this verse telling us we should just let people get in trouble or even go to Hell?

Sort of.

The real warning for us is to watch ourselves when confronted with those with a guilty conscience. In the effort to try to help save them, we might find ourselves entangled in their problems.

We could get dragged into the results of their guilt, at worst by finding ourselves on the way to prison or the grave (think of those who inadvertently find themselves blamed for or involved with a crime).

If you offer advice to someone, and they seem intent on their path, sometimes it is better to let them go.

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Acts 18:5-6, NIV

Those who do not know Christ as Savior are still living in the guilt of their sin, and if they refuse to turn to Him are on the way to the grave. If they begin to cause us to stumble in our faith, we must get out of their path toward death. We will only join in their suffering.

Dear Savior, give us the wisdom to deal with our fallen world and those who are lost in their guilt. Give us the wisdom to know when to help and when to get out of the way.


Got Sin?

Proverbs 28:13

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

Hidden Sin

Hidden sin is the stuff we hide from view, maybe even from ourselves. Hidden sin is the kind of sin we don’t want others to know about for fear of being embarrassed, judged, or condemned. Hidden sin could even be what we choose to label “character flaws,” “idiosyncrasies,” or simply “bad habits.” They are buried, closeted, covered, disguised, or even renamed in order to keep from admitting what they really are.

Do you sneak away to where no one will see? Do you wait till the kids are asleep? Do you clean up the mess so no one will know? Do you hide records and notes? Do you cover your tracks? Do you say it with a fake smile? Do you daydream about what you would do if you could get away with it?

Keep on, keep covering and you will never find relief; you will never find peace; you will never lose the weight of guilt; you will never, ever prosper.

Look at It!

There were so many times when I was younger that I was injured and didn’t want to look at the wound. One time I was cleaning an automotive valve grinding machine when I briefly touched my left hand to the sharp surfacing stone that was spinning at 5,000 r.p.m. In a micro second flesh was ground away to the bone and blood began to drip forming a puddle by my feet. I grabbed my hand with my other, called for help, then said, “I don’t want to look!”

Had I kept my hand covered, I would have never seen that the injury was not as extensive as I first thought. But had I kept my wound covered, denied it ever happened, and went on about my day, I could have bled to death, or at least lost my hand to a horrible infection. My life could have been changed forever.

Thankfully, I looked at my wound, then began to feel the pain, but then began a long healing process. Quite frankly, the same thing needs to happen with hidden sin. We need to admit the problem, deal with the pain, and allow others and God to bring healing to our lives.

Need Mercy?

Hidden sin is dangerous for many reasons. Hidden sin eats away at one’s soul and callouses the conscience to the warning signs of life-threatening disease. Though hidden, it is contagious and harms others.

Like the hidden ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories, the longer we keep it, the more deadly it becomes – and the more deadly we become. But to he who confesses, admits what he has, turns from it, and asks for help, there awaits mercy.

Got sin? Need mercy? You know what to do.


Somebody’s Watching

The following post was first published in the current order after being missed during the original posts on the fifth chapter. I believe God knew someone needed it at the time it was published, and I believe He will use it to speak to someone today. 

Proverbs 5:21-33

“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” 

Reality TV

Reality television has taken over the airwaves. Nearly every one of the fourteen billion channels have at least one reality show, and there are even whole networks devoted to them. As I read the proverb for today, I couldn’t help thinking of a particular one involving security cameras.

It seems that criminals never learn. Either that, or they never watch reality TV. Do they not know that when they steal gasoline, rob a bank, or mug a toddler at the candy store, someone is watching? Have they never looked up? Have they never noticed that electronic eye mounted in a corner above them?

Never Looking Up

The same question might be asked of us with regards to sin. When will we ever learn that Someone is watching us? When will we look up? When will we notice the “eyes of the Lord?”

Addressing the issue of adultery, Solomon warns his sons that sin is not done in secret. No matter how dark the room, or secluded the hotel, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9a). Even though one’s husband or wife may not know, God does.

Why doesn’t the sinner look up? Too often he suffers from a form of tunnel vision. He is so focused on the temptation that he becomes blind to everything else, including that heavenly security camera above.

Bound by Sin. 

It may seem crazy that a criminal would forget cameras are watching his every move; but some the excuses they give, once caught, are equally insane. Some will literally watch video of themselves committing a crime, then deny it. They say, “That wasn’t me!”

In one program called “Bait Car,” police rig an automobile with hidden cameras. They also wire the care so that it can be remotely shut down and locked. When criminals steal the car, not only do they get filmed, but they get trapped.

Sin has a nasty habit of not letting go. The one who says “Just this once” usually gets bound by his actions. Once the fun is over, there is always a price to pay. Unfortunately for the wicked, most “die without instruction.”

Don’t Get Trapped

The Apostle Paul could have been speaking of the car thief or the adulterer in 1 Corinthians 3:19. The wisdom of the world leads the wicked to think he can get away with sin, but God “traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness” (NLT).

Yet, for those who have sinned – for those who have forgotten to “look up” – Jesus offers you freedom from the chains of sin. When one “sees Jesus” (John 12:21), he will not only “turn from his wicked ways,” but he will find One who can break the “cords of sin.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” –  Luke 4:18 KJV