Pastor’s Pen

Someone said, “I have only one resolution. To rediscover the difference between wants and needs. May I have all I need and want all I have.” Not a bad start to a new year. Somebody else said, “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year resolutions.” I guess they were assuming that our resolutions are usually very short lived.

I am pretty confident that everybody is just hoping that whatever 2021 brings, it has to be better than 2020 and the Covid crisis. Last January as I was doing some financial planning, I remember the thought that ran through my head, “What could happen that would be so bad in the next few months?” I will never make that assumption again!

A far better place to turn for wise quotes and wisdom is the book of Proverbs. It has wisdom for everything in life that you will face in the new year. Here’s a good place to end the old year and begin the new one in taking care of your health: Prov 3:7-8, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” NIV Prov 9:10-11  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.”  Prov 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” And here is one of my favorites:  Prov 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Here’s some wisdom for money management that I have used in my life: Prov 3:9-10  “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”  Prov 13:11 “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” In other words, “Easy come, easy go. So work hard and save a little at a time.” The Christian financial advisor Larry Burkett taught me from Proverbs many years ago to give God the first 10%, give yourself (save) 10%, then learn to live on the rest.  Prov 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail.  Prov 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” And finally, set a goal to become debt free, because: Prov 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

None of us like to be disciplined with pain or suffering, but there is something worse than discipline, it is no discipline:  Prov 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” That last part about fathers disciplining their children is important wisdom that can help give you a peaceful future when your kids become teenagers and adults:  Prov 13:24 “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Discipline doesn’t always involve punishment, it’s probably closer to a 1/10 ratio, but without it a child can begin to think there are no serious consequences in life and authority figures of all kinds can be rebelled against. Prov 22:6  ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.’ “Training” involves lovingly showing them the boundaries that will protect and guide them in their lives. One of the wisest words your children should learn to live by is: Prov 13:20 “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” He’s saying you should help them become leaders, not followers of “fools.”

And finally, here’s some wisdom from the Living Bible version on alcohol for you adults who think it’s harmless:   Prov 23:29-35 “Whose heart is filled with anguish and sorrow? Who is always fighting and quarreling? Who is the man with bloodshot eyes and many wounds? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new mixtures. 31 Don’t let the sparkle and the smooth taste of strong wine deceive you. 32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous serpent; it stings like an adder. 33 You will see hallucinations and have delirium tremens, and you will say foolish, silly things that would embarrass you no end when sober. 34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. 35 And afterwards you will say, “I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. . . . Let’s go and have another drink!” We always need to ask ourselves this question, “Is it the wise thing to do?”

Proverbs does teach a medicinal use of alcohol: Prov 31:4-7  “It is not for kings, O Lemuel — not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, 5 lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. 6 Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; 7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” NIV

Let’s all have a great new year by committing to wisdom, because none of us knows what surprises await us in 2021, and that includes the Lord’s promised return!