Proverbs 28b


Honesty Really Is the Best Policy.

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13 NLT

Honesty. Transparency. Accountability.

Those are not particularly popular words among most Christians, especially those of the male variety. We have been raised to keep things close to the vest, not to let the other guy see our hand, and to never reveal a weakness to the competition. This attitude has resulted in a level of dishonesty and disingenuousness that is dangerous for us as believers. We have become masters at hiding our sins, masking our faults, and faking spirituality. We struggle with sin, but refuse to let anyone else know, even God. Yet, we are told, “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9 NLT). In James we are told “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 1:15 NLT). Yet, we continue to cover up and gloss over our sins, allowing fear of rejection and our own stubborn pride prevent us from enjoying the life-giving benefits of confession.

Hiding your sins may fool others, but only ends up harming you. Unconfessed sin becomes like a deadly toxin in our soul, a cancer that slowly eats away at our lives from the inside out. It saps us of spiritual vitality, robs us of joy, and diminishes our capacity to receive and enjoy the love, grace, and mercy of God in our lives. Like a child who has done something wrong, we tend to ignore and avoid any contact with God because we feel guilty about what we have done. We hide rather than run to Him for forgiveness. When we are around fellow believers, we tend to put up a facade that all is well, refusing to let them know that we are struggling. When we do so, we miss out on their prayers, encouragement, and support. Confession is cathartic. There is something therapeutic about letting the cat out of the bag and allowing someone else to know our secret. The moment we share and allow someone else to know our struggle is when we begin the journey toward healing and recovery.

But while confession is essential, there is a second step that often gets left out. Admitting your sins to God or another Christ-follower is a huge step in the right direction, but it shouldn’t end there. This verse says, “if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy” (Proverbs 2813 NLT). The word “turn” is actually the Hebrew word azab, and it means “to depart from, leave behind, abandon.” This is a two step process. First, you have to admit your sin, then, you have to turn from it. To confess and continue in your sin is not enough. There have to be steps taken toward change. Even in the 1 John passage, there is an aspect of repentance built into the idea of confession. God forgives and cleanses, but He expects change. He expects us to turn from and abandon our sinful ways, not continue in them. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:8-10 NLT). Confession is a lost art in the church today. As a result, many of us walk around with unconfessed sin that is destroying our lives and damaging our walk with God. It puts up barriers between ourselves and other believers. We end up living fake, opaque lives that prevent anyone from seeing what we’re really like. And the silly part is that we all know that we all sin. There is no one without sin. So confession should not be a shock. The content of our confession may be, but God is greater than our greatest sin. He is able to forgive any transgression, no matter how large. We should be able to hear and lovingly accept the confession of any believer, no matter how a shock to our system it may be. Their openness is a key to the Body’s oneness. Our acceptance and love is a sign that we are truly Christ’s disciples. Honesty, transparency and accountability are the best policy for us as believers.

Father, break down the walls. Help us get rid of our stubborn pride and resistance to admitting our sins one to another. Create a transparency in the church like we’ve never seen before, and let it begin with me. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men


Proverbs 27c


“Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied.” – Proverbs 27:20 NLT

It was the Rolling Stones who made famous the statement, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” but the message of those lyrics is timeless, even older than Mick Jagger himself. From the days of Adam and Eve, mankind has wrestled with an insatiable desire for more. It seems we have never satisfied. The garden, as good as God deemed it to be, just wasn’t good enough for them. They had to have more. They had to get their hands on the ONE thing God told them they couldn’t have. And the enemy turned that one prohibition into dissatisfaction and, ultimately into rebellion against God. God had given them all that they needed, but they determined it wasn’t enough. They needed more.

The Message has a unique way of paraphrasing Scripture that makes it hit home. It says, “Hell has a voracious appetite, and lust just never quits.” Hell is a bottomless pit whose quota never gets reached and whose occupancy sign is always shining brightly. There’s always room for one more there. And our desire for more is just as insatiable and unquenchable. The world calls out to us like the old Lay’s Potato chip commercial, “Bet you can’t eat just one.” It holds out its bag of delicious delicacies, tempting us with just a nibble, but knowing that once our taste buds kick into gear we won’t be able to say no. One won’t be enough. You’ll have to have more. You won’t be able to resist. Before you know it, the bag lays empty at your feet and your stomach aches with the uncomfortable fullness of having over-indulged once again.

There is a certain sense in which the degree of our satisfaction is directly linked to the level of our sanctification. The more we grow in God, the more satisfied we become in Him. The more holy we become, the more wholly we find out needs met in Him. We find ourselves needing less and less of what the world has to offer to meet our needs and satiate our desire for more. We grow increasingly more content with Him. Paul tells us from firsthand experience that “true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth” (1 Timothy 6:6 NLT). Godliness and contentment go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin. You can’t be truly godly and lack contentment. You can’t ever be content without a vibrant, growing relationship with God. It is our dissatisfaction with God that drives our search for satisfaction in the things of this world. But if we try and fill the God-shaped vacuum in our lives with anything other than God, we will find ourselves constantly disappointed and desiring even more.

If you find yourself unable to “get no satisfaction,” it may be time for you to examine what source you’re seeking your satisfaction from. God never disappoints. He never fails to satisfy. He is fully capable of meeting all our needs and satisfying all our desires. He fills AND fulfills us. He scratches our itch. He quenches our thirst. He satisfies our longings and eliminates our insatiable addiction for more. Human desire without divine intervention is unquenchable and uncontrollable. It is a demanding task master that’s never satisfied until we find our satisfaction in Christ.

Father, forgive me for the many times I have turned to this world in an attempt to satisfy my desires. I have taken my eyes off of You and looked elsewhere for those things that only You can provide. Keep me focused on You. Keep me resting in You. Let me find my satisfaction in You. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 26b

A Pandemic of Spiritual Laziness.

“As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed.” – Proverbs 26:14 NLT

“I’m too tired.”

“I just don’t have enough time.”

“I had to get up early to go to work.”

“The baby was up all night.”

“I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Excuses. We all make them. And as Christians, we tend to make a lot of them when it comes to have our “quiet time” or daily devotionals. We inherently know we’re supposed to read our Bible and spend time in prayer, but we just keep putting it off. In those rare moments when we do set aside a few minutes for reading the Scriptures, we discover it’s tough going. We don’t know where to begin and aren’t sure what we’ve read when we’re done. And if we attempt to pray, we find our minds wandering all over the place and spend more time thinking about what we have to do that day than actually talking to God. The whole experience is less than enjoyable, so it makes it even harder to conjure up the will power to attempt it the next day. That’s when the excuses come in. And we can get very clever with them. But the excuses are simply a cover-up for our own spiritual lethargy and laziness. We don’t want to spend time with God, so we come up with all kinds of reasons to justify our inaction. And we justify our laziness with busyness.

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about laziness, and while it doesn’t necessarily deal with it from the spiritual stand point, it most certainly applies. I am certain there are those of us who are lazy when it comes to work, chores, paying the bills, cleaning the house, maintaining our cars, doing our homework, and a myriad of other day-to-day responsibilities, far more of us struggle with spiritual laziness. Think about what Solomon records in this chapter.

“The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!'” (Proverbs 26:13 NLT).

This is a far-fetched, desperate kind of excuse that justifies inaction due to inherent danger. It seems ridiculous and hard to believe. But to the one making the excuse, it is all he or she needs to keep them from doing what they need to do. They conjure up all kinds of reasons for not meeting their obligations. We do the same thing with our spiritual lives. We can come up with all kinds of pathetic, unrealistic excuses for not spending time with God. And after a while, we can begin to convince ourselves they’re true.

“Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth” (Proverbs 26:15 NLT).

This is really pathetic. This pictures a person so lazy they don’t even have the energy to feed themselves. But think about that image when it comes to our spiritual well-being. We have access to the Word of God, all kinds of spiritual tools and resources at our disposal, Bible studies galore, and yet we can’t muster up enough energy to feed ourselves spiritually. So we starve to death spiritually surrounded by everything we need to grow and mature.

“Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors” (Proverbs 26:16 NLT).

When someone is spiritually lazy, you can’t get them to listen to reason. They have bought into their own excuses and will refuse to listen to any counsel that suggests they’re wrong. You can tell them about the importance of spending time with God. You can give them helpful tips on how to study God’s Word more effectively. But they won’t listen. Because the reality is that they don’t want to study God’s Word. They find it difficult to do, so they rationalize away any responsibility on their part. They’re lazy and unteachable.

“As a door swing back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed” (Proverbs 26:14 NLT).

We hit the snooze alarm. We grant ourselves a few more minutes of precious, well-deserved sleep. We roll over in bed and squander any time we might have spent in God’s Word. We’ll get up early to go on vacation, hit the gym, go for a run, head into the office, or a hundred other activities we WANT to do. But we can make up all kinds of excuses to avoid spending time with God. And our laziness results in spiritual lethargy and anemia. We find ourselves low on spiritual energy and our minds devoid of spiritual understanding. We operate on fumes and go through our days lacking the spiritual vitality to deal with the struggles of life. Back in chapter 24, Solomon warns us of the danger of spiritual apathy and laziness. It does have consequences.

“A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber” (Proverbs 24:33 NLT).

We need to wake up, get up, and get into God’s Word. We need to stop making excuses and start making time for God. Spiritual laziness is killing us. It’s leaving us spiritual impoverished and easy pickings for the enemy. We are too weak to defend ourselves against the assault of the enemy and too spiritually malnourished to survive the daily onslaught of the spiritual battle in which we find ourselves.

Father, wake us up. Help us get rid of all our excuses and get into Your Word on a daily basis. Forgive us of our spiritual laziness. Replace it with a zeal for You and a desire to spend time in Your Word so that we might learn Your ways and be equipped to fight Your battle as members of Your spiritual army. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 25b

You CAN Have Too Much Of A Good Thing.

“Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!” – Proverbs 25:16 NLT

A good meal can make you good and sick, if you eat too much. Too much sleep can leave you feeling tired. Too much money can make you lazy, overconfident, and unwilling to work. Too much exercise can lead to injury. Too much of anything can lead to overindulgence. So God calls us to live lives of moderation, not excess, because you really can have too much of a good thing. This particular truth is so apparent and obvious, yet we see it violated everyday in so many ways. Children are spoiled by parents who give in to their kid’s demands, showering them with everything they want. You’ve seen the child with too many toys, too much control, too much money and too little in the way of boundaries. It’s not a pretty picture. But then neither is the man or woman who has too much alcohol. They can be obnoxious and even dangerous if they get behind the wheel of a car. And then there’s obesity, the national pandemic that illustrates our love affair with food and inability to moderate our intake.

Too much food. Too much TV. Too much work. Too many clothes. Too much house. Too much noise. Too many sweets. Too much stimulation. Too much self.

Wait a minute, what does SELF have to do with excess and moderation? At the end of the day, so much of our excess is self-directed. We are trying to satisfy our own selfish desires. We crave sleep, so we give ourselves more than we need. We refuse to deny our desires. We want clothes, so we buy more than we could possibly wear. We want recognition, so we work more hours than necessary, in hopes that our sacrifice will be recognized and rewarded. We want food, but instead of simply meeting our body’s need for fuel, we attempt to satisfy some inner craving for more. Overindulgence is out of control in our society, and in many of our lives. But many of us don’t even recognize it any more. We excuse it and rationalize it. We have become comfortable with it.

But a godly person understands that more is not necessarily better. There is a contentment that comes with godliness. There is a satisfaction that comes from knowing God and appreciating what He gives that will never be matched by more of anything else. Too much honey just makes you sick. But you can never have too much of God. You can have too much religion. You can do too many spiritually looking things – like attend too many Bible studies, read too many Christian books, attend too many Christian seminars or download too much Christian music. When we finally understand that God is our sole source of sustenance and satisfaction, all the other things in life we consume and get consumed by, will mean less to us, so we won’t constantly need more. There is an old chorus whose lyrics state this same truth: “Little is much when God is in it! Labor not for wealth or fame. There’s a crown — and you can win it, if you go in Jesus’ Name.”

A truly satisfied man needs little. If we are satisfied in Jesus, nothing else is required. More of anything else becomes unnecessary. More clothes won’t make us happy. More food won’t make us full. More house won’t make us significant. More money won’t meet our needs. More work won’t make us more worthy. More friends won’t make us popular. A godly man or woman is a satisfied man or woman. They have learned that, in Christ, they have all they need.

I am satisfied with Jesus,
He has done so much for me:
He has suffered to redeem me,
He has died to set me free.

Father, I am surrounded by too much. I desire too much. I already have too much. But my own selfish heart too often desires more. Help me learn to be satisfied with You and all You have done for me. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 24c

The Key To A Strong, Healthy Family.

“A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through common sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.” – Proverbs 24:3-4 NLT

You can read countless books on parenting. You can attend any of a number of seminars on the topic. You can get parenting advice, both good and bad, from all kinds of people. They’ll tell you about the importance of communication, the need for consistent discipline, the danger of a home without rules, but the damage that can be done if your home is too strict. Everyone has opinions. Everyone is ready to give their advice. But there are few who truly know the secret to having a healthy, thriving family – except Solomon. The word he uses for “house” in this passage can be translated “family” and is probably best seen as a metaphor for establishing a strong, vibrant home life, not about building a structure. We all know that a well-built home is no guarantee of a healthy, whole family. There are many beautiful homes in the best of neighborhoods filled with children who despise their parents, husbands and wives who have fallen out of love long ago, and where domestic bliss is nowhere to be found. No, Solomon is not giving us construction tips, but the key to a healthy family. And this advice applies not only to our biological family, but to our spiritual family as well. The church, the body of Christ, is also a family. As believers, we are all members of the family of God and are His children. And just like our biological family, the family of God can become dysfunctional and unhealthy if we ignore the counsel of Solomon.

He tells us a home, a family is built by wisdom. Which reminds me of Solomon’s advice found in the very first chapter of his book: “Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God” (Proverbs 1:7 MSG). This is a paraphrase from The Message, but I find it paints a very accurate description of what it means to “fear the Lord.” To fear the Lord is to recognize that He is God and we are not. It is to understand that He is the source of all wisdom, not us. It is to humble ourselves under His mighty power, recognizing our own weakness. The key to gaining wisdom is starting with God. It is focusing all of our attention on Him and making Him the center of our lives. This is true when it comes to our homes or families. He has to be number one. Not our kids. Not our careers. Not our marriages. Not our own selfish wills and self-centered desires. We must start with God. Our homes must be built on Him. He must be the foundation on which we construct our families. Marriage is difficult. Raising kids is a real challenge. Having a healthy family in the world in which we live is next to impossible – unless you do it with God’s help. Only He can give us the wisdom we need, the good sense we require, the knowledge life demands, and the outcome we desire.

But God can’t be an add-on or an afterthought. He must be the focus of our families. We must make His Word a daily part of our lives and the manual by which we parent. Our kids must see that we not only believe in God, but that we obey Him. They must see that our faith is real and that it lives itself out in real life. Solomon tells us that if we begin with God, if we turn to God, He will gives us wisdom, good sense and knowledge. And as a result, our homes will be filled with “all sorts of precious riches and valuables” (Proverbs 24:4 NLT). This is not a promise of financial success, but a reminder that living God’s way produces treasures that are priceless and not of this world. We will experience His peace even when our kids rebel, endurance when our marriage is less than perfect, patience when life becomes difficult, and a growing awareness of the presence of God that is more valuable than anything money can buy.

Father, I want to build my home on You. I can’t do this without You. And I know because I have tried far too many times. I want to start with You. I want to continue with You. I want to end with You. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 21b

X-Ray Vision.

“People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.” – Proverbs 21:2 NLT

As human beings we can be the masters of deceit and deception. Over time we can learn the art of spin, controlling what others think about us and manipulating how they perceive us. In fact, how we’re perceived can become far more important to us than reality. Our persona becomes our pseudo-personality. Perception becomes reality. After a while we can even begin to believe our own PR. We can convince ourselves that the facade we’ve erected is real, not imaginary – that the aura we give off is authentic, not self-manufactured and fake.

But while we may fool others and even ourselves with our Academy-Award-winning ways, God remains unconvinced and unimpressed. He looks right past our plastic, fake facade and sees into the very recesses of our heart. He examines our heart. The word used there is a term for measuring, as in a balance scale. He places our heart on one side of the scale and measures its real worth. He doesn’t take into account any of the excess exterior trappings we’ve spent so much time creating. He goes right to the heart of the matter – literally. God takes a look at the condition of our heart and He sees us for who we really are and, if we allow Him, He will expose that rather than being the measure of all things, we are being measured.

God x-rays our hearts and reveals what’s really going on under the shiny surface of our lives. He exposes our pride, anger and arrogance. He shows us our selfishness and self-centeredness. He lets us see our fears, faithlessness, spiritual adultery, and embarrassing weaknesses. But like a doctor examining a patient, God’s goal is not just to expose sickness, He wants to bring about healing. He wants to get us off the surface issues and deal with the hard realities of our hearts. He wants to heal our hearts so that we might truly be what He desires for us to be. “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Proverbs 21:21 NLT). We can pursue wealth, pleasure, popularity, and a host of other things, but they will never deliver what we need. We can attempt to ignore our hearts and live in a fairy tale land of false identity and fake reality, but we will never find joy, peace, and contentment. So God examines our hearts and He gives us the results. But He also provides us with a prescription and a remedy for healing. He is the Great Physician and He knows how to heal our hearts and restore our souls. But it begins with a thorough examination and a correct, sometimes shocking diagnosis. Once we accept His assessment and place ourselves under His loving, capable hands, the healing can begin. Our heart can be made whole again. The facade can come down, the false identity can be removed and the man or woman God designed us to be can begin to reveal itself – from the inside out.

Father, we are the masters of deceit. We know something is wrong inside, but we don’t know what it is or what to do about it. So we cover it up and act as if everything is fine. We learn to appear as something we’re not. We learn to act a certain way and give off the aura we think others want to see. Make us real Father. Show us the true conditions of our hearts. Change us from the inside out so that we might know what it means to be what You’ve called us to be. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 20c

Drink. Drank. Drunk.

“Wine produces mockers, alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.” – Proverbs 20:1 NLT

Let’s face it, alcohol is a permanent part of our society. It’s even an accepted part of the lives of many believers today. Gone are the days when having alcohol in your home was unacceptable and unchristian. While there are still some denominations that speak out against alcohol and its consumption as inappropriate behavior for a Christ-follower, you rarely hear much said about it anymore. And while the Scriptures don’t ban its consumption outright, there are clear warnings as to its use and potential abuse. Here in the wisdom literature of Proverbs we have an in-your-face warning included by Solomon that doesn’t mince any words when it comes to the danger of alcohol. And he isn’t talking about distilled alcohol, he’s talking with everyday, run-of-the-mill, average Hebrew household wine. He describes it as a mocker. Too much wine or alcohol in the system can turn anyone into an obnoxious, inebriated blowhards who are offensive to be around. The NET Bible puts it this way: “Excessive use of intoxicants excites the drinker to boisterous behavior and aggressive attitudes – it turns then into mockers and brawlers.” You’ve seen them, been around them, and may have been there once or twice yourself. Alcohol clouds your senses, dulls your thinking, and distorts your perspective. The weak become strong. The timid become brave. The quiet become bold. Inhibitions get tossed aside like a bottle cap and concern for decorum or reputation get lost in the euphoric, alcohol-induced buzz. The Message has a not-so-subtle way of paraphrasing this verse. “Wine makes you mean, beer makes you quarrelsome – a staggering drunk is not much fun.” How sadly true.

Yet how quickly most people defend their right to drink. They rationalize that they are only a casual drinker. They claim about how they can hold their liquor. They assert their strong tolerance level and ability to know when to stop. Yet no matter how you look at it, alcohol is an intoxicant. It’s a drug that alters perception and influences behavior, and not usually for the better. Loss of control at any degree is rarely a good thing whether we’re talking about our tongue, thoughts, inhibitions, or motor skills. There is probably no more descriptive passage on the influence of alcohol than Proverbs 23:29-35.

29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow?
Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining?
Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns,
trying out new drinks.
31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is,
how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake;
it stings like a viper.
33 You will see hallucinations,
and you will say crazy things.
34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea,
clinging to a swaying mast.
35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it.
I didn’t even know it when they beat me up.
When will I wake up
so I can look for another drink?”

What a sad picture. But what a realistic look at what alcohol can do to the average man or woman. So much of the sorrow and heartache in the world today can be linked directly to the influence of alcohol. It can rob men of their work ethic. It can tear apart families and destroy marriages. It deadens the emotions and kills incentive. It wastes time, money, and talent, and squanders vast amounts of human potential. Other than lining the pockets of the companies that manufacture it, alcohol has little in the way of redeeming value. Gone are the days when it was necessary for medicinal purposes. We have medicine and doctors for that. While it may calm the nerves and settle the soul, it can easily become a crutch that prevents us from dealing with reality. How many people have to have a drink when they get home to wipe away the effects of the day? But is that really necessary for a believer? Do we need to have a substance provide us with peace and tranquility when we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us? Now don’t get me wrong. I am not calling for a ban or a prohibition on alcohol, but I am asking that we reassess its role in our lives and its impact on our society. Solomon closes out the Book of Proverbs with another powerful warning about alcohol.

Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves,
gulping wine and swilling beer,
Lest, hung over, they don’t know right from wrong,
and the people who depend on them are hurt.
Use wine and beer only as sedatives,
to kill the pain and dull the ache
Of the terminally ill,
for whom life is a living death. (Proverbs 31:4-7 MSG)

As believers, we are called to a higher standard. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should always want to be in full use of our faculties. We should never want to be out of control when it comes to our thoughts, speech or actions. There is no such thing as a wise drunk.

Father, give us a clear perspective on the use of alcohol. While we may be free to drink, it may not be the best thing for us or for those around us. Help us each see this issue from Your perspective, not our own. Let us be willing to die to our rights and live to Your will. Don’t allow us to let our hearing, judgment, or faculties to be clouded or distorted by anyone or anything. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 19b

The Fake Vs. The Faithful Friend.

“Loyalty makes a person attractive. It is better to be poor than dishonest.” – Proverbs 19:22 NLT

Nobody likes fakes friends. You know the kind. They smile and act as if they’re your best friend, but when your back is turned, they turn on you. They desert you. They prove to be disingenuous to you. But the very next time you see them, they act as if nothing has happened and all is well. They’re fake and can be highly frustrating. Sometimes people can pretend to like us for what we own, less than for who we are. They like our “toys” and so they will tolerate us in order to have access to them. Solomon warns us about this kind of “friend.” He says, “wealth makes many ‘friends’; poverty drives them all away” (Proverbs 19:4 NLT). In other words, these are fair-weather friends who like us as long as we have something they want. Once that something goes away, so do they. Their friendship was just a facade to facilitate their own selfish desires. Sometimes what others want from us is our influence. They see us as a person of importance and so they come alongside us, offering to be our friend just so that they might have access to our circle of influence. Solomon warns us about these kinds of friends as well: “Many seek favors from a ruler; everyone is the friend of a person who gives gifts” (Proverbs 19:6 NLT). A powerful person can mistakenly believe that everyone beating a path to his door is truly interested in being his friend, when what they really want is not a relationship, but a favor. Everyone loves a generous person. Everyone is willing to put up with even the most obnoxious person as long as he gives them gifts. But these people are not true friends.
All of this reveals the sin that lurks in the heart of everyone of us. We can easily turn friendship into a self-centered pursuit that is all about us with little regard for the other person in the relationship. Think about how many friendships dissolve because the other person failed to meet our expectations, let us down, or were easily replaced by someone more popular, attractive, or beneficial to us in some way. Yet that is not the kind of friendship we are called to by God. Loyalty is important to Him. He doesn’t want us to use one another and selfishly manipulate our relationships just to get the most out of them. Loyalty and love go hand in hand. Loyalty is an expression of love. Loyalty is what makes a person truly attractive as a friend (Proverbs 19:22). The faithful, unfailing friend is the one we will look for in the end. When all the fake friends have long deserted us, a faithful friend will still be there, waiting to reestablish the relationship we once had with them. Fake friends are fickle friends. Faithful friends are steadfast and true. What kind of a friend are you? Do you choose your friends based on what you are going to get out of the relationship? Is your motivation self-serving or selfless? Can you count the number of poor friends you have on one hand?
Solomon reminds us, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 NLT). Again, what kind of a friend are you?

Father, make me a faithful, not a fake, friend. I want to be honest, not disingenuous. I want to be real in my relationships. Forgive me for using people for my own selfish interests. Give me a heart like You have. Help me to give my life away, expecting nothing in return. Don’t let me measure my friendships based on what I can get out of them, but instead, by what I can give. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 18b


Where To Run.

“The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 NLT

Think about it. Where do you run when things get tough? Who do you turn to when facing difficult circumstances? In what or who do you put your trust or place your hope? Solomon says that the godly run to the Lord and are kept safe. But if we’re honest, most of us have a long list of other options we consider before we go to God. We have our money, friends, family members, the government, and our own resourcefulness to bail us out in time of need. But again, Solomon reminds us that “the name of the Lord is a strong fortress” (Proverbs 18:10 NLT). Isn’t it interesting that he refers to the name of the Lord. That is a common expression in the Old Testament and it speaks of God’s reputation or fame. It refers to those things He has done that have established who He is. It is another way of expressing His character. God has made a name for Himself. He has a solid reputation. He is known by His actions. And in this context, God has proven Himself to be a safe place to turn to for protection. He is faithful, powerful, gracious, consistent, and never fails in providing the protection we need and seek.

God’s reputation is impeccable and totally reliable. So the godly “run to him.” They don’t casually walk or stroll to God, they run. There is a sense of urgency and immediacy to this statement. There is no hesitation. He isn’t a second or third option or a last resort. God is the first choice of the godly person. It reminds me of the response of my children when they were young and found themselves scared or in trouble. They would make a bee-line to dear old dad. No hesitation. No reservations. When in trouble or fearful, dad’s arms were where they wanted to be. And the same thing should be true of us as believers. We should want to run to God, whole-heartedly, unashamedly, unwaveringly – because He has proven Himself trustworthy time and time again.

But as our kids grow older, they grow less willing to turn to dad when scared or in trouble. They have been trained to be self-sufficient. They learn to develop other options and plans for maintaining their safety. They develop other resources to keep them safe and secure. Dad becomes less necessary, and the thought of jumping into his arms for safety becomes slightly embarrassing. And we do the same thing with God. Over time, before we even know it, we have moved God way down the list in terms of where we turn in times of trouble. We even do our best to develop plans to stay out of trouble so we don’t have to turn to God in the first place. It’s interesting that the very next verse in Proverbs 18 says, “The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety” (Proverbs 18:11 NLT). Plenty of people try to create their own safety net for life, and in our society, financial stability is seen as a high priority. Think of all the commercials you see that deal with money, savings, retirement planning and financial security. Money has become the new Messiah. It is the answer to all of life’s problems, in spite of its lousy reputation for actually being able to deliver any real security or safety. There’s nothing wrong with money, saving, planning, or preparing for the future financially. But when all is said and done, there is only one reliable place to turn for protection: The name of the Lord. His reputation is spotless.

Father, Your name or reputation is impeccable. You are completely trustworthy. You aren’t just LIKE a strong fortress, You truly ARE one. You have proven Yourself to be a secure choice in the midst of life’s difficulties time and time again. But I still look elsewhere so often. Forgive me. Help me understand that You are always the safest, most secure place to turn in times of trouble. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men


Proverbs 17c

Conflict Resolution.

“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9 NLT

We’ve all seen it happen. Perhaps we’ve even had it happen to us. A close friendship dissolved over an unresolved issue. A disagreement that never was dealt with properly and which resulted in alienation, accusation, and acrimony. It happens to friendships and even the relationships between parents and children, brothers and sisters, and even Christ-followers. Many times these conflicts start with something fairly insignificant and small, but when left unresolved, they fester and grow, like an untreated wound. What began as a small things becomes a big thing because proper steps weren’t taken to begin with. A hurtful word or a painful action causes a crack to develop in a relationship. And when it is not addressed in a godly and timely manner, the enemy takes advantage of the situation and begins to pry and press on that crack in an effort to widen and worsen it. Jesus told us that the enemy comes “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants to destroy our relationships, kill our friendships, and steal the benefits available to us through community. Satan hates love. It’s that simple. Yet Solomon reminds us that “love prospers when a fault is forgiven” (Proverbs 17:9 NLT). God is love and He desires that we live lives of love for Him and others. But it is impossible to love when we refuse to forgive. We are incapable of love if we demand our rights and hold on to all the bad things done to us. Our harboring of anger, resentment and bitterness to the other person does little to change or convict them, but it can end up destroying us – from the inside out. It produces a toxic blend of bitterness, anger, and resentment that becomes like a cancer in our system, eating us away internally and destroying us spiritually. Paul tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT). We are to forgive in the same way we have been forgiven by God. No qualifications. No conditions. No grading on the curve. Just forgive. Is forgiving hard to do? You bet. Especially when someone refuses to admit that they were wrong or that they even hurt us. And even harder than forgiving is forgetting. We may feel like we’ve forgiven that person, but then the next time we see them we are reminded once again of all that they did to us. The memories resurface and the resentment bubbles to the surface once again. It’s normal and natural. But that’s when we need to turn it over to the Lord and ask for His help. Letting go of a wrong done to us is difficult, but no impossible. God would not have commanded us to forgive one another if was impossible. He has provided us with all the power we need to obey through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. But we have to acknowledge our need for help and request His assistance. We have to confess our own anger, bitterness and unforgiving spirit and ask the Holy Spirit for the strength we need to give up and let go – whether the other party ever confesses their wrong or asks for our forgiveness. “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven” (Proverbs 17:9 NLT). It grows within us. It produces life instead of death. It thwarts the enemy’s attempts to drive a wedge between us and others. It reminds us of how much we have been forgiven by God. Life is too short to spend it bitter, angry, and resentful. Listen to these words from The Message paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Father, it is so easy to hold a grudge. It is so easy to get hurt and grow bitter by what others say or do to us. But You have called us to love. You have commanded us to forgive. And You have modeled it perfectly through the life of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me learn to let go of my grudges more quickly, forgive more readily, and love more willingly. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men