Tag Archives: Christian

How to Find Joy

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
Proverbs 14:10, KJV

A well-known (to this site) pastor recently wrote about the struggles pastors face. Pastors have such a weight they carry that can lead to bitterness that many other people may never understand.

Remember: we pastors hear everyone’s struggles, hurts, wrongs, and sins. We deal with the issues of everyday life for most people we know.

It is easy to see all that is wrong with the world when dealing with everyone else’s issues.

Intermeddling Joy?

The plus side, though, is that most people never feel the joy of seeing God work in those issues, seeing lives change, problems redeemed, and grace and love shine through hurt people.

You may have struggles and pains.

You may know your sin better than anyone, how it affects everything you do.

But if you want real joy, trust God to use you to help another. They may never know how blessed you are by their success over sin and pain, but you will find that joy that only comes from the Lord.

Choose joy by overcoming bitterness. Your own and others’.

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Rejoice or Mourn, but Don’t Settle

Proverbs 29:2

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

‘Ocracies

It would seem like never before in the history of man has it been possible for atheists and all those antagonistic to Christianity, the Bible, faith, or whatever, to have their voices be heard. Of course, I may be wrong and even over-exaggerating a little, but thanks to the media and easy access to the internet, angry voices condemning leaders with morals are screaming from every direction.

This proverb should not be interpreted as saying, “Christians should be in authority everywhere!” No, the idea is more along the lines of promoting wise leadership, honest leadership, or simply men and women with integrity and moral fortitude. Yet, even when and if true Christians were to assume authority, very few would have any thoughts of promoting a “theocracy.” But listen to the atheists and you’d think that the “righteous” would start hanging unbelievers tomorrow, if they could.

The fact is that at it’s founding, when the most Christians (including deists) where in authority in America, that is when they founded a constitutional republic, NOT a theocracy.

Righteous Rule

When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. Why is that? Could it be that the people are treated fairly? The righteous wouldn’t take more than they need in taxes. The righteous wouldn’t lie about issues in order to get elected. The righteous would be responsible with resources. The righteous wouldn’t seek office to obtain power, but to serve others. The righteous wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, but he would work together with his fellow man in search of the common good.

Sadly, many in our society mourn when the righteous are considered for leadership. Many recoil at the thought of a man or woman with integrity, faith, and morals. They see these potential leaders as threats – not to freedom, but to unrestrained behavior.

Wicked Rule

Why do the people mourn when the wicked rule? Because the wicked think only of themselves; they care nothing about the people under their authority.

Do we have wicked leaders, or are our leaders righteous, looking out for all of us? Do those in authority serve, or do they accumulate power in order to manipulate the masses? The answer will be different and vary in intensity wherever you go, but this much is true: there are far fewer righteous leaders than wicked ones.

The Undecided

But then there are those who can’t decide whether to rejoice or mourn. They have been treated so poorly for so long that they have come to accept wicked leadership as the norm.

If you think otherwise, just consider the following defense of President Obama by L.Z. Granderson on CNN:

“Now with president Obama, it is true, he should have been more forthright with how the Affordable Care Act was going to impact the country. But with that being said, all Americans know politicians lie. The question is: which lies can you live with? And time and time again Americans have said, “We can deal with the lies that President Obama tells us, because we believe in his heart – he has the best interests for the American people. Every president’s gonna lie to you. Every politician is gonna lie to you. The question is: which lies can you live with?” – Source

Sounds more like when the wicked rule, the people give up caring. God help us.


Of Salt and Slugs

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

Get a Job

You’ve probably heard someone yell out the window of a car, “Get a job!” I know I have. And if I had never heard it I know I have thought it. Every once in a while I see a person with a cardboard sign and think to myself, “Why don’t you get a real job, instead of making more than me?”

We should really be careful when we see people begging for work, for food, or for money. Unless we have followed a person around for a while, we don’t know what he has gone through. We should be more careful before we pass judgment.

Really, Get a Job

BUT, there are many people who really do end up begging others for basic needs all because of their laziness. There are people who refuse to spend any energy doing whatever it takes to feed themselves, much less their families.

I don’t want pity, nor am I bragging, but there was a time when I had to work 3-4 jobs at a time in order to keep my wife and daughters out of a shelter and in a house. I know what it is like to work in a dangerous factory during the week, deliver pizzas at night, wash dishes all weekend, and deliver news papers on Sunday morning. I know what it is like to plow in winter.

Salt or Snail?

The lazy person is called a “sluggard.” The name causes one to envision a long, slow-moving, slimy snail. The “sluggard” refuses to get up an do anything because work is hard. He chooses to wait until the “time is right,” but the right time never comes. Then, when hunger comes, he begs, complains, accuses others, and demands his “rights.”

Unfortunately, many societies encourage “sluggards.” They reward them with everything they want, including food, shelter, clothing, and cell phones. Sadly, some healthy Christians think it is appropriate to live off of certain programs, rather than work, but…

You can’t be the salt and light of the earth while acting like a snail.

 


No Servant, No Problem

Proverbs 12:9

“[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.

The Pretender

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. 


Roots of Faith

Proverbs 12:3 

“A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.”
Uprooted

Over the last several years there have been a lot of storms come through where I live. Many of those storms produced very strong winds, even tornadoes.

I hate tornadoes.

But when I look at this proverb, there comes to mind mental images of trees uprooted and blown over, smashing houses, cars, etc. And when I think of those trees, I can remember what they looked like lying on the ground. Huge trees with roots that spread out in every direction – except down.

Trees

When we think of trees, we think of strong, healthy plants that grow tall and impressive. They are symbols of stability. They almost always win when challenged by automobiles, woodpeckers, or lovers with initials to carve.

The wicked and the righteous are both trees; both have leaves, and both have roots. But only one has roots that run deeper than the surface. Only one can stand in a storm.

Roots

The roots of a tree primarily do two things: they bring nourishment from the ground and tie it to the ground. Without roots a tree would die. Without deep roots, a tree could could be toppled by a strong wind.

But strong winds aren’t the only danger trees face; drought can kill a tree with shallow roots. Yet, if a tree has deep roots, it can find the water it needs to survive.  Maybe you will remember the following verse…

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psa. 1:3

Established

But we are not trees, are we? We are people. We don’t have roots; we have faith.

The deeper our root system, the less likely we are to fall over when the storms of life come our way, or when there seems to be little rain of hope.

Wickedness will not produce roots that will hold. Wickedness produces roots that grow outward and just below the surface. They bring in everything needed to grow a beautiful, leafy tree, just not one that can hold on in a gale. Nor can they soak up water from the dry soil when the blessings of God seem to be withheld.

On the other hand, righteousness goes deep and anchors the believer to the solid ground. The roots of faith find refreshment from hidden sources of hope.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. – Jer. 17:7-8 NKJV

How are your roots?


Better Fruit

Proverbs 8:18-19

“Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.”
A Tear

As I was reaching up to type these words, I wiped a tear from the table in front of me. The odd thing about it was that I had to stop and think what it was. Evidently, it had been a while since I last saw one drop.

I am sure there will be more. And really, that’s a good thing.

Tears are valuable. They teach what happiness and indulgence never can. They teach us that we are weak, that we break, and that we are incapable of fixing everything, if anything.

They tell us we’re dependent on God. And really, that’s a good thing.

A Better Fruit

To many, a fallen tear on one’s table is nothing more than a drop of water. However, to the Christian, the one who loves Wisdom, it is a glistening jewel-like seed, the fruit of which far surpasses the earnings of any other investment.

The “durable riches and righteousness” of wisdom are far better than the rarest currencies on Earth. What grows from the tears of a humble heart cannot be purchased with all the money in the world.

“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Rev 21:4

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Ornamental Wisdom

Proverbs 1:8-9

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they [shall be] an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Parents

It is interesting that verse eight of Proverbs 1 includes reference to both a father and a mother. Not one or the other, but both. Solomon in his wisdom knew that balance was required, and that a family requires two parents to provide guidance and instruction to children. This is what God intended from the beginning (Genesis 2:24).

Going to school in the 1960s just one of my classmates did not have two parents. The reason he grew up with only a father was that his mother died giving birth to his sister. Fast forward to 2012 and many children can rely on only one parent, even in Christian circles. While many single parents do a magnificent job, it was not God’s intention for a family to consist of one parent.

Ornament of Grace

Although verse eight appears to be directed at the young, there is a significant challenge to parents in verse nine. Initially any new parent is likely to be more overwhelmed by the gift of the child, rather than by the challenge of parenting that lies ahead. The challenge and the responsibilities are clearly defined in the prose of these verses. The instruction of a father and the law of a mother are to be an ornament of grace around the head of a child and chains around his neck.

The Hebrew word used for grace also translates as kindness and beauty, something precious to be attached like an ornament or a necklace. And that is a challenge. Do we consistently parent with grace, with kindness? Can our children respect us sufficiently to learn from our instruction? It is important that they can and do.

What do your children see in you?

 

(originally posted on 4/2/2012)