Proverbs 30d

Faithful and True.

“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.” – Proverbs 30:5-6 NLT

Our God is reliable. You can always count on Him. You can trust everything He has ever said and depend on Him to follow through on every promise and commitment He has ever made. He doesn’t lie, play fast and loose with the facts, attempt to deceive, or ever have to say He is sorry. He doesn’t make mistakes. He never says or does the wrong thing – ever. Since the beginning of time, God has proven His faithfulness and trustworthiness over and over again, providing constant, unwavering protection and provision to His people in spite of their own unfaithfulness and rebellion. Over the centuries, God has had to watch as men have twisted His words and attempted to speak on His behalf and in His name. They have exclaimed, “Thus says the Lord,” but they were unauthorized to speak for God. Over in the book of Ezekiel, God has some serious complaints about what is going on in the land of Israel.

Again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: In the day of my indignation, you will be like a polluted land, a land without rain. Your princes plot conspiracies just as lions stalk their prey. They devour innocent people, seizing treasures and extorting wealth. They make many widows in the land. Your priests have violated my instructions and defiled my holy things. They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not. And they do not teach my people the difference between what is ceremonially clean and unclean. They disregard my Sabbath days so that I am dishonored among them. Your leaders are like wolves who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for money! And your prophets cover up for them by announcing false visions and making lying predictions. They say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign Lord,’ when the Lord hasn’t spoken a single word to them. Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice.”

The only thing we can count on in this world is God Himself. His Word is the only reliable source of truth. There are so many who want to speak for God, but fail to use His Word as their primary source. If they do use His Word, they tend to cherry pick verses, forcing them to support their own conclusions and giving God’s Word meanings He never intended.

We live in a time much like that described above. One of the most disturbing statements is, “They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not.” This was an indictment on the religious leaders of the day. They were no longer seeing things as God sees them. They had blurred the lines between the holy and the profane. They were accepting of and accommodating to things that God had declared unholy. They had become overly tolerant and excessively lenient. And God was not pleased. But even when those who represent God fail to faithfully honor Him, He can always be trusted. His Word can be depended upon. Our God is faithful and true. Which is why we must read, study, and obey His Word. We must ask His Holy Spirit to help us understand His Word. It is in the Bible that we find the truth of God revealed. It is in the study of the Bible that we come to know the truth about God and hear Him speaking to us. It can be trusted. It will be proved faithful and true just as He is.

Father, thank You for your faithfulness and reliability. Forgive me for the times when I doubt You or attempt to speak on Your behalf when I really haven’t heard from You. Forgive me for any times I have tried to put words in Your mouth. Keep me dependent upon Your Word and reliant upon Your truth and faithfulness. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 29c

Fear of Man.

“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.” – Proverbs 29:25 NLT

Most of us don’t want to admit it and the rest of us probably just don’t recognize it, but we all suffer from an inordinate fear of man – and it takes all kinds of forms. Sometimes we simply worry about what others will think about us. We get dressed in the morning selecting our wardrobe based on the various reactions we hope to get from those we work with. Some of us are petrified to speak in front of others, breaking out in a cold sweat at the very thought of it. Many of us fear rejection or getting hurt, so we refuse to let anyone get close to us. Others of us fear being made fun of or laughed at by others. Then there are those who fear being found out, of getting exposed and watching as others discover some hidden truth about us that we have covered up for years.

The fear of man is alive and well. And this simple proverb tells us that it is a dangerous trap. The truth is, any time we fear what people might do or think, we are allowing them to control our lives. Changing clothes three times in the morning out of some sense of insecurity and need to impress others is fear-based and debilitating. It robs us of joy. It traps us in a relentless pursuit of acceptance, never knowing if we are going to please those around us with our choices and whether or not we can influence others to like us, or just simply notice us. Refusing to pursue relationships out of a fear of being rejected leaves us isolated and missing out on the vital aspect of community we were meant to have as human beings. The fear of rejection causes us to turn inward, diminishing our capacity to give ourselves away to others and robbing us of joy in the process.

Every day we wrestle with the fear of man. But as believers, we are reminded that it is trust in God that should drive our actions and attitudes. Allowing ourselves to be driven by the fear of man shows that we do not really believe that God is sovereign and capable of taking care of us. We try to impress others in order to receive some kind of affirmation and acceptance in return. Yet, we are loved and accepted by God, JUST THE WAY WE ARE. We allow ourselves to become incapacitated by our fear of others, yet we worship an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God who has promised to protect us and provide for us. It is easy to fear men because they are all around us and easy to see. It is harder to trust God because He is literally out of sight, which tends to render Him out of mind. But we must constantly remind ourselves of His presence and rest in His promise that He will never leave us of forsake us. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6 NLT). He was simply reiterating an Old Testament thought penned by King David himself, “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6 NLT). The fear of man is a trap. But when we learn to trust in God, we find ourselves in a place of safety. We are free to be who He intended us to be. We learn that our worth is based on what He thinks about us, not others. We don’t have to fear what others think about us or might do to us, because God is on our side. He loves us and thinks the world of us. In fact, He loves us so much that He sent His own Son to die for us. He is not impressed with or swayed by our clothes, cars, and winning personalities. He will never harm us, ridicule us, or do anything to belittle us. He will never reject us, even though He knows everything about us. So why would we fear what others think? Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, trust in God.

Father, it’s so easy to fear man. But I want to trust You more and more. Keep opening my eyes to the reality of just how prevalent the fear of man is in my life and then help me to replace it with trust in You. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 28c

The Leadership Void.

“When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.” – Proverbs 28:2 NLT

Don’t get me wrong. We have no shortage of leaders in this country. It’s just that we don’t have very many godly leaders. There are plenty of ambitious, intelligent, capable and sometimes even moral men and women who hold positions of leadership in our nation, but most of them lack the wisdom that only God can provide. The verse above paints a pretty bleak picture for a nation that finds itself with a moral and spiritual leadership void. The Message paraphrases verse two this way: “When the country is in chaos, everybody has a plan to fix it – But it takes a leader of real understanding to straighten things out.” What an apt description of our own country at this stage of the game. We are in chaos, and everybody has a plan to fix it. We have an abundance of “princes” as the NIV describes them. These so-called leaders and political pundits all offer up solutions to our nation’s myriad problems, but none of them really have a clue what to do about the economy, terrorism, or any other issue facing us. They fail to realize that the root of all our problems is a spiritual one. Our economy is a symptom of a much more serious issue. Neither raising or lowering taxes is going to fix what needs to be fixed. A larger or smaller government will neither one prove to be a panacea for our problems.

In the very next chapter Solomon gives us the real solution. He says, “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice” (Proverbs 29:2 NLT). In other words, when godly men and women lead our nation according to godly principles and guide us with wisdom and insight directly from God Himself, the people find themselves living in peace and moral prosperity. Godly leaders make godly decisions. They are not selfish and self-centered. They are not greedy and out to benefit only themselves. They are not motivated by pride or consumed with the need for recognition. They view any power they have as given to them from God, to whom they must report and by whom they will be held accountable. What we pass off as leadership today is a far cry from what God intends. All you have to do is look at the leadership style of Jesus and you see a marked difference. Jesus came to serve, not be served. He came to give His life away for the sake of others. He was concerned with and consumed by the will of His Father. He was obedient to God to the point of laying down His life. He knew that the world’s problems were spiritual in nature and the solution would have to be a spiritual one. Toppling the Roman government was not going to bring peace to the Jews. Only a Savior could save them from what ailed them. They needed deliverance from sin, not relief from high taxes. They needed dependence on God, not independence from Rome. The same thing is true for us today. We are looking to a government or political leader to bring us relief and restoration. We are wanting a flawed, failed system to deliver us, when God has already provided a deliverer – His very own Son. Godly leaders point a nation back to God. They don’t try to act as a substitute for Him. We find ourselves in trouble as a nation, not because of a bad economy or the presence of terrorism, but because we have appointed leaders who have no respect for God. Without Him, they are helpless and hopeless to lead us because they lack the wisdom required for the job. We need to pray that God will raise up men and women who know Him, love Him and are willing to live for Him. But we also need to pray for a spiritual reawakening among the people of God who have become complacent and sometimes even contributors to the moral chaos facing our nation. We lack godly leaders because we have become a godless nation.

Father, we desperately need Your help. Only You can solve the problems we face as a country. Our issues are so much deeper than the economy or global terrorism. Our problem is a moral one. Re-energize Your Church, that we might become the salt and light You have called us to be. May out of our midst come godly leaders who will step into the chaos and provide godly direction and wise leadership – pointing us back to You. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 27d

Timing Is Everything.

“A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse.” – Proverbs 27:14 NLT

When my wife was growing up, she was regularly woken up early on Saturday mornings by the sound of two pans being banged together as her father attempted to get the family up for breakfast. I remember the first time she told me that story, I couldn’t help but have homicidal thoughts. Just the idea of someone waking me up in such a noisy, obnoxious way on the one day I could sleep in was too much for me. While I’m sure he meant well, there had to be a better way. I can’t read the verse above and not think about this story. And I think my wife inherited some of her father’s traits, because when our children were young she would wake them up each morning by yelling up the stairs, “Rise and shine! This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” You could hear the groans coming from upstairs as the kids covered their ears with their pillows, pulled the covers up over their heads and attempted to go back to sleep. Not once did they rise and shine or rejoice in the day that the Lord had made. No, their demeanor was less than cheery and their outlook on the morning, far from positive.

While no real harm was done by my father-in-law or my wife, these stories remind me how important timing and tact cab be when it comes to our relationships with others. A lot of hurt and harm can be done by well-meaning individuals, all because they fail to think about how their actions might be perceived and received by others. Even the right words spoken at the wrong time can be hurtful. How many times have you had someone quote you a verse of Scripture when you were going through a difficult time, only to have that passage feel like fingernails on a chalkboard rather than encouraging words? Hearing the words, “All things work together for good” when you are in the midst of difficulties is not always uplifting or encouraging. Having someone cheerfully remind you that “God loves you!” when you are feeling unloved and uncared for, does not change your outlook or your circumstances. If anything, it may reinforce your feelings of abandonment and isolation. It may even make you angry.

When reading the verse above, I can’t help but think about Ecclesiastes 3, the chapter made famous by the song “Turn, Turn, Turn,” sung by Roger McGuin and the Byrds. The Book of Ecclesiastes was also written by King Solomon and in chapter 3, he reminds us about the importance of timing. He says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT). In God’s grand design, there is a time for everything. He goes on to elaborate.

A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Timing is everything. There are times when banging pots and pans together is appropriate, and there are times when it is not. There are times when a cheerful greeting is encouraging, and there are times when it is anything but that. The point is that we need to assess the situation and determine the right action or words for the right moment. There are going to be those times when the right thing is to listen, not speak. There will be occasions where we simply cry with someone rather than try to fix them or quote Scripture at them. The challenge is to know how to determine the right response for each and every occasion. That takes wisdom. And wisdom comes from God. Only He can give us the discernment we need to offer the right response at the right time, each and every time.

Father, I desire the discernment to know how to respond well. I don’t want to be someone who means well, but ends up doing harm in the long run. I need Your wisdom and insight so that I know how to offer the right response at just the right time. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 26d

Confusing Counsel.

“Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are. Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.” – Proverbs 26:4-5 NLT

It’s hard to read these two verses and not be a bit confused by them. They appear to be in direct contradiction of one another. Which is it? Don’t answer the foolish arguments of a fool, or be sure to answer the foolish arguments of a fool? First of all, we need to establish just what kind of fool these verses are talking about. Because, in the Book of Proverbs there are five different types of fools described, not just one. There are five Hebrew words used when speaking about fools and this one is the word kecîyl – which refers to a fool, stupid fellow, dullard, simpleton, or arrogant one. The best way to describe him is that he is a sensual fool. This is the individual who rejects the discipline of his parents or any and all authorities in his life. He is determined to make the wrong choices, regardless of any counsel provided. He tends to focus on that which brings him immediate pleasure, never planning for or thinking about the future. It isn’t that he has a mental deficiency, but he simply chooses to reject the wisdom of God, and glories in that of which he should be ashamed. This kind of fool is unreasonable and unteachable. His motives and methods are subtle and he should be avoided.

The reason it is important for us to know what kind of fool this Proverb is talking about is that we tend to lump all the verses about fools together. And when we do that, it can become very confusing. These verses are not talking about a simple fool (pethîy). The Hebrew word used for the simple fool describes a child who lacks discernment, has no ability to recognize cause-and-effect, is immature, gullible and intensely curious. This kind of fool is to be corrected, disciplined, and counseled. But the fool described in these verses is one that has become stubborn and set in his ways. The issue addressed in these verses is not whether you can or should answer a fool. This kind of fool will likely remain a fool regardless of whether you answer him or not. It is really about the common sense you need in determining how to answer a sensual fool. If you answer him in the hopes to convincing him he is wrong, you will only become embroiled in an argument that leaves you looking as foolish as he is. But if you answer him with the intent of exposing his foolishness, pride, and arrogance, you can walk away knowing that you have done all you can do. It is not your job to change him. You will never argue this kind of fool into seeing reason. These verses are warning us to go into the situation with our eyes wide open, knowing just what kind of fool we are dealing with. One of the big takeaways has to do with our intent. Arguing with a sensual fool is a waste of our time. Exposing a sensual fool is sometimes all you can do, in the hopes that it will help them see their own pride and foolishness. But someone who has reached this stage of foolishness will most likely remain just as they are. Their problem is not a lack of knowledge or cloudy thinking. It is pride, arrogance, and a lack of wisdom. Their hearts are not in love with God. And until that changes, no amount of discussion will change their situation.

Father, there are so many sensual fools in the world. And I have found myself falling into that category at times over the years. Give me the wisdom to know how to answer this kind of fool. Help me recognize them for what they are and realize that only You can change them. I have an obligation to expose their foolishness and pride, but I have to understand that I will never argue them out of their foolishness. Only you can change their hearts. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 23d

Be Wary of Wealth.

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.” – Proverbs 23:4-5 NLT

It was the apostle Paul who warned his protege Timothy, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 10:6-10 NLT). There are probably no other words of biblical advice and counsel that have been overlooked and ignored quite as much as these. Especially in modern American culture. We are a country that prides itself on its affluence and its ability to produce wealth. It’s the American way, the American dream. Money and material things are how we judge our worth and measure our success. And as a result, we live in the land of discontentment. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and marketing campaigns that tell us what we have is not enough. We need more. We need bigger and better. We need new. We need what everyone else has. We need what we can’t afford. So we work harder and harder to buy things we don’t really need. Or we go into debt to get our hands on things that we think will make us happier. Only to find that our dream turns into a nightmare of monthly payments that last far longer than whatever it was we purchased.

But Solomon and Paul both warn us against wearing ourselves out on getting rich. Solomon reminds us of the proven fact that wealth can disappear in a heartbeat. We can lose it all in no time and find ourselves back to where we were. Riches are unreliable. Wealth if a fair weather friend. Paul goes even further. He gives us the bad news that we can’t take our riches with us when we die. It stays here when we go. So even if we manage to keep our hands on it in this life, it won’t be going with us into the next one. So Paul encourages us to learn contentment. He advises us to be satisfied with what we have, even if what we have is less than what the world tells us we deserve. Discontentment has a voracious appetite. It is like a monster living inside us that you can’t feed enough to ever satisfy. It constantly desires more and more. We can find ourselves becoming discontent with something new we bought within minutes of purchasing it. We are constantly suffering buyer’s remorse, not so much because we shouldn’t have bought what we did, but because we found something else we wanted even more. Listen to Paul’s warning again: “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 NLT). Longing to be rich, dreaming of more, desiring greater wealth – can leave us trapped by our own foolish and harmful desires. We become driven by what we want. We can become obsessed by our desire for more. Our love of money can tempt us to do all kinds of things that are ungodly, unrighteous, and unhealthy for our spiritual well-being.

When all is said and done, Solomon would encourage us to pursue wisdom, understanding, godliness and the character of God Himself. Riches are little more than a poor substitute for what God wants to offer us. They tease us with promises of fulfillment, satisfaction, security, and yes, even contentment. But no amount of money will ever deliver what only God can provide. Which is exactly why Paul tells Timothy, “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 10:11 NLT). Now that’s advice you can take to the bank and count on.

Father, riches are so subtle. They are so alluring and tempting. But contentment needs to be my goal. I want to learn to live with what I have and be satisfied with You. I can so easily find myself believing the lie that more is better. That money can meet my needs. That wealth can satisfy and solve all my problems. But only You can do those things. Money can be such a distraction. All the stuff I own can end up owning me. Open my eyes to the reality of the situation and help me be wary of wealth. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 22c

The Desire of Every Parent.

“Direct your child onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” – Proverbs 22:6 NLT

This verse has been taught at every parenting seminar I have ever been to. It has been held up as a promise from the very Word of God that offers us a virtual guarantee of success in child-rearing if we just do our part well. But as a parent of six and as the youngest son of my own parents, I have found that this verse, while promising, is not exactly a promise. In fact, it is NOT a promise at all. Like all the other proverbs written or collected by Solomon, it is a universal truth. It is how God intended the world to work. But because of the fall and the presence of sin, things do not always turn out the way God intended or as we might want them to – regardless of how well we do at raising our children. But this does not change the reality that the best way is always God’s way. As Christ-followers, we are to raise our children according to God’s will and direct them on to the one path that leads to true life. In most translations, the first part of this verse uses the words, “train up a child.” The Hebrew idea behind this is that of dedication. It is used in the context of dedicating a house to God. So, in essence, we are to dedicate our children to God and give them over to Him for His use – teaching them to walk His path and live according to His will. This includes not only teaching them well, but modeling Christ-like behavior and obedience in front of them. It isn’t enough to simply teach them Bible stories and moralistic platitudes about honesty, sharing, truthfulness, and humility. As the old saying goes, when it comes to teaching more is caught than taught. Our kids will pick up the “godly life” by watching us live it more than they will by hearing us talk about it. When this verse says, “Direct your children onto the right path,” it is encouraging us as parents to live our lives in such a way that our children instinctively know which way to go from having watched us and followed us.
According to the Book of Proverbs, there are only two paths to life. There are only two ways for our children to go: The wise way or the foolish way. The way of righteousness or the way of wickedness. The way of the godly or the way of the godless. Because Proverbs uses the metaphor of the path so often, it fits in well here. It helps us understand that this verse is about a way of life, not just lessons for life. It is about a lifestyle choice. And it is a lifelong job. As parents, we are always training our children – even long after they are out of our house. We are still modeling godly behavior and directing them onto the right path long after they’re grown and gone. The verse says, “and when they are older, they will not leave it.” This conveys the idea that our job is never over and that the impact of our efforts are lifelong, not temporal. We may see our children wander off the path for a time, but we may also live to see them discover their way back our of the high weeds and into the light of God’s will. Our job is to keep training, modeling, and directing. We have to leave the results up to God. At the end of the day, if we have truly dedicated them to God, we must realize that it is He who will determine the outcome of their lives. Only He can reach their hearts and transform their character from the inside out. And while this Proverbs does not guarantee results, it does give us the assurance that if we are faithful to do our job, we can trust God to do His part. We can leave our children in His capable, loving, merciful hands.

Father, give me the stamina and determination to direct my children on to the right path and to do it faithfully, all throughout the years of their lives. Don’t let me take shortcuts or fail to model the godly lifestyle in front of them. Forgive me for taking complete responsibility for the way my children turn out and forgetting that only You can save my kids, and redeem, restore, and protect them. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 21c

What Really Pleases God?

“The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.” – Proverbs 21:3 NLT

A lot of us spend a lot of time trying to keep God pleased. We somehow think that He’s like a divine Santa Clause. He’s making a list, and checking it twice; gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. So if we want to keep Him happy, we better get busy doing nice things. And that can translate into everything from having a quiet time to memorizing Scripture, doing acts of service, going to a Bible study or on a short-term mission trip, or even giving money to the church. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things. They are good and proper things for us to do as believers, but when we turn them into actions that we believe will earn us brownie points with God, we miss the point. When we make them into personal sacrifices we offer on behalf of God in the hopes that He will notice and reward us favorably, they lose their meaning and we lose our focus.

King David understood this concept very well. He wrote, “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Psalm 51:16-17 NLT). While God had commanded the people of Israel to offer sacrifices, what He was really looking for was the heart behind the sacrifice. Jesus had harsh words for the religious leaders in His day. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides!” (Matthew 23:23-24 NLT). These men we adept at keeping the law, of making the proper sacrifices, but they had missed the point. Their hearts were not right. They were skilled at keeping the letter of the law, but were oblivious to the real point behind the law: justice, mercy and faith. It wasn’t supposed to be about their ability to keep laws, but about the motivation of their hearts. They were doing what they were doing out of a sense of self-righteousness and in the hopes that what they did was somehow earning them points with God. But as we read in Proverbs, God is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer Him sacrifices. God is more focused on our hearts than our efforts. In the verse right before this one, Solomon writes, “People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart. God is able to see our inner motivation. He knows when we are doing what we are doing out of some sense of duty or simply in the hopes of keeping God pleased with us.

Over in the book of Micah, we read these sobering words: “No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NLT). God’s desire is that our outer efforts be motivated by an inward transformation that He alone can bring about. As we submit to His authority over our lives and listen to the Holy Spirit’s direction, we begin to understand what it is that God would have us do. We begin to desire what He desires, love what He loves, and see the world as He sees it. We learn to walk in humility, not pride. We understand that our best efforts are never enough to earn points with God. He doesn’t need our sacrifices. He simply wants our hearts. And as He changes our hearts, we begin to do what is just and right. We act in ways that are in keeping with His heart and in accordance with His will. And He is pleased.

Father, I want to do what is right and just, not out of some sense of duty, but because my heart is being transformed to reflect Your heart. I want to love what You love and desire what You desire. Please continue to complete Your work in me, and help me get out of the way. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 20d

Two Priceless Gifts From God.

“Ears to hear and eyes to see – both are gifts from the Lord.” – Proverbs 20:12 NLT

Our two senses of sight and hearing are incredibly important to us. Most of us could not imagine what it would be like to lose either one. But there are countless individuals who have had to learn to live without one or both. Others have had to cope with an increasing diminished capacity in their vision or hearing. And because of it, they understand and value these gifts from the Lord more than most. But I don’t think the writer of this Proverb is simply talking about the capacity to see clearly and hear well. No, there are far too many people with good hearing and great eye sight who might as well be deaf and blind. There problem is a spiritual one. Their organs of sight and hearing are perfectly fine, but they are spiritually deaf and blind. God used this imagery on many occasions, telling the people of Judah, “Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear” (Jeremiah 5:21 NLT). They were unable to see the greatness of God and unwilling to hear the voice of God. In His day, Jesus often referred to the blindness of the Pharisees. “They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14 NLT).

While sight and hearing are both gifts from the Lord, how much greater the gifts of being able to see and hear spiritually. The ability to see life from God’s perspective and to hear from God clearly are truly God-given gifts. Every Christ-follower has been equipped with these God-given senses of spiritual sight and hearing. As a result, we have the ability and responsibility to listen more and talk less. I think it’s interesting that speech is not listed as one of the gifts. We put a high value on what we say, but God seems to put a higher value on our capacity to listen – not only to Him, but to what is being said around us. We need to train our ears to hear the pain and suffering in the world. We need to hear and discern the falsehood and lies masquerading as truth. We need to hear God speaking in the midst of all the noise around us. But to hear, we have to stop talking.

And we need to see more clearly the world as God sees it. We need His vision and insight. We need His perspective. It is easy to be fooled by the false images of this world. But things are not always as they appear. God gives us the ability to see clearly and truthfully. He alone can open our eyes to the reality of what is going on in the world. When we see clearly, we see Him at work. We see the value of His righteousness and the greatness of His power. We view the world through the lens of the future. Our sight is not limited to the here and now. God has given us a glimpse into the future and we can see that He has a plan that He is working to perfection. The scenes of this present world are not the end of the story. We see the world through the eyes of God and know how the story ends.

Ears to hear and eyes to see – both are gifts from the Lord. How’s your hearing today? How good is your eye sight? Are your ears hearing what God wants you to hear? Are your eyes clearly seeing the world and your circumstances as God sees them? Spiritual eyesight and hearing are truly gifts from God. May we learn to appreciate them and use them well.

Father, give me the capacity to hear what You want me to hear and the ability to see what You want me to see. As my hearing grows dimmer with years and my eye sight gets worse, may I never lose the capacity to hear and see spiritually. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 19d

Father Versus Friend.

“Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” – Proverbs 19:18 NLT

As the father of six children, I know a fair amount about raising kids. Notice I didn’t say I knew a lot about raising kids WELL. In thirty-plus years of parenting, I have made my fair share of mistakes, and I continue to make them. But one of the most significant battles I have faced as a father is the temptation to try and be my children’s best friend, rather than their father. Here’s how it looks. Any time I have let slide some less-than-acceptable behavior because I didn’t want to run the risk of making them mad at me, I have traded in being a father for being a friend. When I have refused to punish their actions because I wanted to avoid the confrontation, I have made friendship more important than fatherhood. And every time I have made being a friend to my kids the driving factor in our relationship, I have done them a disservice. My kids don’t need me to be their best buddy, they need me to be their dad. And sometimes that role requires me to discipline and train them. Turning a blind eye to their behavior is not love, it’s a form of child abuse. When I do it, I am allowing them to act in such a way that is unacceptable and potentially harmful to their future. The Proverbs call us to discipline our children while there is still hope. In other words, there is a window of opportunity in which we can instill into our kids the kind of discipline that will ultimately manifest itself in self-discipline. We are called to teach and train them. We are commanded to encourage them and, at times, admonish them. The desire to have them like me is a dangerous one. It seems so worthwhile and right. But how many times have we sacrificed their future well-being because we refused to teach them the consequences of their actions? That kind of parenting can ruin their lives. It makes them selfish and self-centered. It teaches them that the world revolves around them. It encourages them to become self-focused children who grow up to become self-absorbed, narcissistic adults.

Coddling and caving into our kids now will only ruin them later. We are called to be their parents, not their best friends. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to worry about whether our children like us or not. But it does mean that we may have to run the risk of making them angry at times in order to help make them godly. Giving in to their every whim is not good for them, but simply bad parenting. Over the years, I have often found myself refusing to discipline my children just because I didn’t want to be unpopular. I have stayed quiet when I should have spoken up. I have looked the other way when I have should have pointed out what I saw. I have avoided when I should have confronted. Parenting is a long-term commitment. If we focus on short-term gains, not only will we lose, so will our children. We need to view what we do as an investment that pays future dividends, not a quick-fix remedy that makes our kids happy for the moment. When we parent that way we aren’t doing our kids any favors. While our children may not appreciate our discipline now, a day is coming when they will look back and recognize our efforts with gratitude not regret.

Father, help me be faithful to remain firm in my role as the disciplinarian of my kids. Don’t let me sacrifice the long-term goals for short-term gains. But also make sure I always discipline in love, not anger. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men