Time

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog over the last month. This week however my time has been extremely limited and I have not written nearly as much as I would have liked. Can you relate?

I do not want to make a habit of putting up older posts but i’ve written a fair few articles over the last three years and some of the newer followers may not have seen them all. When I simply cannot write something you for whatever reason, I will try to share an older post here for your enjoyment.

To be perfectly honest, I get frustrated with myself when I cannot carve out the time or headspace to write. If you’re anything like me, then you put enormous pressure on yourself to deliver! It just so happens that I was flicking through some older posts and found this one.

It is about using our time for the benefit of others. Now that is a good use of time!

For those who are not familiar, every so often I put out a shorter post which I described as pearls of wisdom. I tried to offer a nuggets of wisdom and a few thoughts to go alongside it. These have proved popular so I do hope you enjoy this particular one below.

If you can spare a prayer for me at the moment, then I would truly appreciate it. Life is good and I cannot complain. We have a number of things going on all at once so I would value your prayers so that I can keep God at the centre of it all. And ideally, find some time to write!

Bless you today.

andy-brown.org/2020/04/27/people-are-a-good-use-of-time-pow/

Read the Bible-literally?

A comment on my blog post yesterday got me thinking about whether we should read the Bible literally or not?

I wrote a post on this very subject last year looking at one of the Psalms. I hope you find it useful.

andy-brown.org/2020/03/14/read-the-bible-literally-psalm-91-part-1/

June 23 Strengthen me

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear this today! I hope you enjoy reading it, and that it speaks to you as it did to me.

“Lord, I call to You; come quickly to me.  Hear my voice when I call to You.” “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips…

June 23 Strengthen me

Bible Contradiction? When did the earth dry after the flood?

I highly recommend this series from the Domain for Truth. it examines various supposed Bible contradictions, and gives clear answers to why they are not.

There are many posts in the series, so do go back and read some of the others as well.

I hope you enjoy reading!

For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: When did the earth dry after the flood? Here are the answers which …

Bible Contradiction? When did the earth dry after the flood?

Reaching the Jesus Friendly

Everybody needs Christ, especially those who think they already have Him. I got my first taste of high school and college ministry under an …

Reaching the Jesus Friendly

Confront (PoW)

Pearls of Wisdom

Refusing to confront someone’s sin, is refusing to love them.

When we see a Christian brother or sister dabbling with sin, or worse, tangled up in it, it is the loving thing to do to gently point this out to them. Ignoring the issue will not solve the problem. By not confronting them, we are not valuing them enough to say something. It is like someone crossing a road and not seeing the truck heading their way… if we do not cry out to warn them, then how can we possibly claim to love them?

Sin is not just dangerous, it is deadly. One of the main reasons we do not confront sin is because often we do not take it seriously enough. In my truck illustration above, the danger is very real. The danger of sin is no less real, but somehow we don’t recognise it as such.

One reason for not confronting others about sin is because we are afraid of how they might react. This is understandable of course, but if done in the right way, and by someone who truly cares, we must hope and pray they are mature enough to receive.

We also do not confront sin because we feel unworthy to do so. We look at our own lives and recognise the sins we struggle with, and therefore conclude we have no right to speak into another’s life. This is likewise understandable. You do not have to be perfect to help someone with sin, but you do have to be humble.

Before I close, I do want to add that this does not give you the right to walk about your church, pointing out all the sins, mistakes and issues you see. Going around looking for things to confront people about is certainly not loving. As someone once said, “You are not Holy Ghost Junior!” Let God do His perfect work in others, and yourself too.

If you live life with others for long enough, sooner or later you will encounter sin in their life. This is not negative, but a fact of our fallen reality. Be ready to carefully and respectfully direct them away from sin and its consequences. Be prepared for others to love you in that same way.

Every blessing to you!

Sudden Disaster

You need not be afraid of sudden disaster

    or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,

26 for the Lord is your security.

    He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

Proverbs 3:25-26 (NLT)

Reading the third chapter of Proverbs this week, this particular couplet of verses jumped out at me. Have no fear of sudden disaster, the word directs us, and yet I find myself often drifting into fearing the worst, or worst-case scenarios. My anxious mind wanders into negative places, and I start playing the “what if” game. Minutes can go by, and in my head I’ve crafted unlikely situations and pushed them out to their extremities, no matter how implausible.

When I read this verse yesterday morning, I realise that I do fear sudden disaster more often than I care to admit.

I do not mind telling you that I am prone to anxiety, and indeed have suffered with it at times. Anxiety is more than just worry, although it may start that way. Anxiety can be crippling, and it can cause us to shut down almost completely. There have been times when I’ve felt a knot in my stomach; a nervousness that I couldn’t explain. Perhaps you have experienced something similar yourself, or know others who have.

Sadly, it is all too common these days. Stress, anxiety, and depression affect many people in a whole host of ways. I am no psychologist, and of course if you need help with any of these things, do go and see your doctor.

These verses help us though, and so I want to consider them today.

They firstly say we need not fear sudden disaster, nor the destruction which falls upon the wicked. Why not? Because of what is said in verse 26.

The Lord is your security. That’s the key right there. We desire security in many respects. We want our homes to be secure from break in. We want our jobs to be secure from loss or redundancy. We want our family to be secure from harm – in this life and the next. We want to feel and be secure in all aspects of life.

When we feel anxious, or fear sudden disaster, we do not feel secure. We feel there is a threat, known or unknown, which may befall us. What if I lose my job? What if I get injured? What if my spouse leaves me? What if… fill in the blank for you.

Yet God is our security. He is our fortress and high tower. In Him, we need not fear these things.

Don’t misunderstand, this is not a cast iron promise that nothing bad will ever happen. Life itself is proof of that fact. But the Bible is no liar, and we must understand what it means for the Lord to “be our security”.

Security in Christ means that no matter what happens in this life a) He will be right there with us, and b) We have eternal security that can never be stolen or damaged.

In this life, we will face trouble and danger. If you don’t believe me, just live. That’s not to be negative of course, but things just go wrong in this fallen world full of fallen people. If we stick with Christ however, we know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. We know that no matter what happens on this earth, He is working for the good of His people who are called according to His purpose. What happens to you may not be “good”, but we can trust God to bring good out of it.

I believe He wants us to have a good life here on the earth. Like any good Father, He wants us to have blessings and live a good and enjoyable life. Our enjoyment is not His primary concern though, and that’s the thing we forget sometimes. God deserves and will obtain maximum glory for Himself, and if that means us going through a time of trial, then so be it.

God also takes a longer perspective than us. While we go through trouble, it may feel like the end of the world to us. And even if it is, there is a new world to look forward to in eternity. Even if it was not true that God wants to bless us here on earth, we have a home in heaven to look forward to. That will compensate for any discomfort, trial or trouble we face while alive on the earth. A life of 80 or 90 years is a mere blip next to eternity.

So, returning to the passage at hand (I hadn’t forgotten!). We need not fear sudden disaster because the Lord is our security. We can trust Him to bring good into our lives, and know that the bad also has a purpose. Our security in Him is eternal, and not temporal.

This truth, if we accept and rejoice in it, is hugely comforting. I need not fear sudden disaster because firstly, it might never happen, and secondly because there is a heavenly eternity to focus on. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing. That being the case, we need not fear sudden disaster coming upon us.

Move them one step closer (PoW)

Pearls of Wisdom

Move them one step closer to Jesus

When it comes to sharing our faith with others, most of us feel pretty inadequate. We often let fear overrule us, and do not seize every opportunity as we should. We are not perfect. Most of us want to tell others about Christ, but are not always sure of the best way to go about it. Fear of rejection may stop us even trying.

I want to try to take some of the pressure off of you today. It is vitally important we tell others about Jesus, of course, but it is not our job to convict, convince or persuade them. Our job is to witness to the truth, and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Instead of trying to win every argument, and feeling like we have to get everyone to pray the “sinner’s prayer,” just bring someone one step closer to Jesus.

Coming to faith is a journey, and while we may want to be the one to bring them over the finishing line, it might be our job to cheer them on halfway through the race. To put it another way, you do not have to supply all of the jigsaw pieces. It may be your role to give them one piece, answering just one question they have. It may not complete the picture for them, but it certainly will help.

I am sure there are people in your life you want to share Christ with. Don’t try to do God’s job for Him, but instead just move them one step closer to Him. What might that look like for you? Is it a prayer? Is it to answer a question they have? Is it just to display Christ in your own life so they can see Him plainly?

Whatever it might look like for you, take a step of faith today. You may not see instant results, but rest assured God’s word does not return to Him in vain.

Plan Ahead

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.

    The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)

We take a little break from our series on Psalm 100, and turn to look at one of the proverbs today.

As a rule, I try to read a chapter of Proverbs every day. It is something I heard of a while back – that there are enough chapters of Proverbs to reach one each day of the month, namely 31. You read chapter one on the first of the month, chapter two on the second, and so on. It is the 22nd May today, and this particular verse nudged me.

Proverbs is frequently comparing the actions of the wise with the actions of the foolish. A wise person does one thing, while the fool does something quite the opposite. The same is true here.

A prudent (or wise) person sees danger coming, and makes preparation to either avoid or suppress it. The foolish person however, charges straight into its path.

On a practical level, there is much we can apply to our own lives. It is wise to save for a rainy day, or to address the blinking red engine light on your car’s dashboard before you see smoke in the rear view. When we see a sign that says, “Icy road ahead,” it is a good idea to slow down or find an alternative route.

There are many examples we could look at here. What might be on your horizon that you need to prepare for? If you already know it is coming, then don’t put off getting ready. Act today to make sure when that “thing” comes, whatever it may be, you are well prepared to deal with it.

In the same chapter of Proverbs, we read:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there!

    If I go outside, I might be killed!”

Proverbs 22:13 (NLT)

This is quite the imagery, and not immediately obvious perhaps. It is astonishing at times, the excuses you hear from people who are just trying to get out of something. I have seen individuals spend enormous amounts of energy trying to avoid something, far more energy than it would have taken to just do the thing in the first place. Here, we see someone who doesn’t want to go outside, and perhaps does not wish to leave their warm bed. Instead of crying wolf, they cry “lion!”

It is all too easy to put off preparing for the future. When we are in our twenties, saving for a pension may not seem all that important, but of course we hear many stories of those who left it too late. When we see danger ahead of us, we must take necessary action.

But what about when we do not see it coming? What if all seems well and we do not know what is around the next corner?

What if you had a friend who could somehow warn you of what is ahead? That would be truly wonderful!

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

John 16:13 (NKJV)

Here we read that the Holy Spirit will tell you of the things that are to come. We can draw on this revelation knowledge and be pre-warned of things that we need to prepare for. These may be dangers of course, but they may also be opportunities.

I want to be so close to God the Spirit that I hear Him directing me. I want to be in the exact place He wants me to be. If there is a chance for me to serve Him in some way, then I want to be prepared to do that.

Join with me in praying that the Spirit of Christ will guide us:

Holy Spirit, we thank You that You are our Advocate, Helper and Friend. May You guide us in all things, showing us the things that are to come so that we might be ready. If there is danger up ahead, we pray that You would help us avoid it, if it be Your will. If there are opportunities to minister Your grace, please give us the words we need to share Your truth. Above all, help us to draw ever closer to You in worship and prayer, and that through Your guidance, You may be truly glorified in our lives. In the Name of Jesus, Amen!

Thanks so much for reading today.

Love Discipline

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

    but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Proverbs 12:1 (ESV)

One of the things I love about Solomon’s proverbs is the fact he doesn’t mince his words! There’s a place for diplomacy and sensitivity, but sometimes there’s a need for stark warning.

Loves Discipline

The other day, my three year old threw a toy across the room. When I told her not to, she got rather cross and took a swing at me with all her might. I took it on the chin (not literally) but sent her to the “naughty spot” in our house. It is fair to say she did not “love” discipline in that moment!

How many of us can truly say that we do love discipline? When my boss calls me in to their office (virtual or otherwise) to point out something I need to change, I hardly relish the experience! Yet, as I’ve gotten to know my boss over the years, I know that they have my best interests at heart and anything they correct me on is for my benefit. By “loving” the discipline, I’m growing and improving.

Discipline is tough in the moment, and far too few of us later reflect on that correction and realise its value. Church discipline, for instance, often leads to people walking out of the church, not gratitude to the pastor or minister for loving them enough to say something.

We cannot hope to grow as Christians without the love of discipline. I learn from others who teach me, and from those who love me enough to say something when I go wrong. If no one ever pointed it out, I might never come to the realisation on my own.

Discipline works best when it comes from a safe and loving relationship. My wife can point out my faults to me in a way a total stranger never could. I trust her judgement and know she wants what’s best for me. The same can’t be said for a person I do not know well.

God knows us best, and we must trust in His deep, unending love for us. When He disciplines us, it’s because He loves us and does not want us to stay stuck in a place of error.

Hates Reproof

The Proverbs often mirror themselves. So, if you are wise to do one thing, then you are stupid to do the reverse. We see this here. If it is wise to love discipline, then it is stupid to hate correction.

To hate discipline is really to hate ourselves. It suggests that we have a level of pride where we think we couldn’t possibly be wrong.

Often when correction comes, we react badly to it. We point to the one disciplining us, and say “What about when you…?” Discipline does indeed hurt at times, but it is a pain which leads to something better. I once heard someone say that you can go through the pain of change, or go through the pain of staying just as you are.

Do not hate discipline, nor the one who brings it to you. While you may feel too excited about it, take the time to thank the person and bring it before God. If, for instance, that person does not really have good intentions, then you can lay that before Jesus and let the Spirit lead you.

Discipline in general, but church discipline in particular, does seem to be becoming more and more rare these days. I wonder why this is? There is truth to it that many church members are easily offended, and would storm out if a church leader even dared breath a word of correction near them. This, of course, does put church leaders off of doing it.

Also though, I wonder if all of us have somehow lost a level of holiness in our own eyes. As I consider this, I realise that bringing discipline makes me take long look at myself, and highlights the areas where I fall short. If I make so many mistakes, then how dare I tell others what they should and should not do?

Iron sharpens iron though, and only by living and worshipping together can we ever hope to support each other. I need you to tell me when I am going wrong, and likewise you need me to do the same for you. Let us love each other enough, and be brave enough, to help one another grow.

Is God bringing discipline into your life right now? Is He using a friend or family member to do it? Is He prompting you to speak a word into someone else’s life? Do so with humility, and love them as best you can.

You Are They (PoW)

Pearls of Wisdom

You are “they”

Have you ever heard someone say – “They should do something about that…” But who is “they?”

Depending on the context, we might mean “the Government”. The Government should fix this or that… The Government should do something…

The same might be said in a work context. The management should deal with that… Why don’t the management do something about that…

Often when we say “they should” do this or that, we just mean someone else. The longer I stay on the Earth, the more I realise that we are the “they.”

If we recognise that a change is required in some area of life or society, then our first response ought to be “what can I do about that?” Large scale societal problems of course will need more than an individual response, but there are always steps we can take.

Let’s say, for example, you want to do something about homelessness in your area. It might be extremely difficult for you to eradicate this problem single-handedly. You could help a small number of individuals, but you could also raise funds for a local charity. You could campaign at a local or national level or seek support from local businesses or churches.

My point is that you may not be able to solve the entire problem, but you may be able to take steps to improve the situation even in small ways. We all have a responsibility and must not always assume it is for someone else to deal with.

If “they” need to do something about it, then let each of us remember that we are the “they.”

Make Someone Feel Valuable (PoW)

Pearls of Wisdom

Everywhere you go, do whatever you can to make someone feel valuable

Many people do not feel all that valuable or valued. In fact, many feel worthless and unwanted. As Christians, we know this is not true. God values every single human being, and the price He paid for them was the cost of His Son.

Not everyone is open to our Christian message however, but that does not mean we cannot communicate their value. We value the people in our lives, yet often do not show it or neglect to tell them.

If you truly value your spouse or children, then make an effort to show them that. There are myriad ways you can do this, but one of the simplest and most effective is just to say “thank you!” You or they may not think it a big deal to cook dinner every night, or put the bins out, or work every single day, or raise the children. But do not take these things for granted, and make sure you let them know you appreciate them and what they do.

Similarly, for those outside of your household, you can still recognise their value. Whether it is the local shopkeeper who has helped you during this time of lockdown, or the nurse or care worker who has looked after you or a relative, you can ensure they know how valuable they are and their contribution is.

Everywhere you go, do something to show the people around you how much you value and appreciate them. A note of thanks or encouragement can brighten someone’s day. Use social media to promote some one, service or business which has helped you out. Be a blessing and go the extra mile to recognise those who work tirelessly behind the scenes or who are rarely thanked.

You can make a difference. You can shine the light of Christ in this often dark world. What will you do this week?