No More Flash Floods!

flood warning picFlash flood warnings are meant to be taken seriously. Heavy, sudden downpours are capable of severe destruction, ranging from dangerous driving conditions to structural (building) damage. Rivers and streams can overflow with the sudden swell of added rainwater and countless home-owners dread the threat of its effects. What’s most difficult is the unpredictability of what happens next.

So it is with strife.

Proverbs 17:14  gives us a warning that is not meant to be taken lightly: “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water…” In other words, strife is like water pouring out from a faucet or a raincloud; it can not be taken back or stopped once it has begun. What we have to realize is that strife has to be stopped before it gets started. That might sound very hard to do, but it becomes nearly impossible otherwise!

Would you recognize strife coming if you saw it approaching? Let’s compare it to that flash flood warning. You may hear a distant rumbling of thunder (discontentment) and see some ominous black clouds (anger, bitterness) in the sky. The weather pattern becomes quickly unstable due to the barometer changes (pressure) in the atmosphere. Before you know it, the recipe for a heavy-duty squall is in place!

You might be dealing with a situation that is disrupting your relationship with a co-worker, a loved one or an acquaintance. Perhaps you were treated unfairly and just want to have your “say” in the matter. Be careful–the storm clouds could be swirling about! It takes a lot of strength to walk away and not respond at all.  However, that is the advice given in part 2 of Proverbs 17:14: “…therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”

How we respond when hurt, mistreated or pressured, will determine whether strife makes an abrupt and troublesome appearance. Try not to feed into the frenzy of a disaster that is looming ominously nearby. You will avoid an aftermath of devastation and, best of all, won’t need to worry about the clean-up!

Proverbs 17:27-28 – “He that hath knowledge spareth his words; and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. “

Friends Matter!

Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

friends matter pic
Friends doing what friends do…shop!

I’m mourning the loss of a friend today. No, it wasn’t death that caused the absence; the friend is very much alive. There had been and still is a like-mindedness between us that brought laughter, tears and much joy. I believe that characteristic of our friendship is still there, but what is lacking is what is spoken about in this verse.

Being a friend to someone requires effort.The expression “showing himself friendly” can represent just about every action concerning the relationships in our lives. Here’s a few tips I would like to list regarding this counsel:

1.) Greet people with a smile. (I think that shows you being friendly, doesn’t it?) Most of the time they will smile back. It feels nice to be in the presence of someone who is kind and cheerful! Even the most cranky-looking people will usually crack a grin, if you initiate one first!

2.) Be a good listener. If this friend is going to be sticking around, there will be plenty of other opportunities for you to share what you have to say. Your willingness to hold back and allow the other person to speak shows how much you value their opinion.

3.) Don’t be critical. Your friend may say something that you don’t agree with and that’s OK. Life would be boring if all of our friends were just like us! Speak the truth but speak it in love, with the right motives. Think before you say something too unflattering! A good rule-of-thumb is to put yourself in their shoes, and think of how you would feel if you heard the same words spoken out loud to you!

4.) Tell your friend how much you appreciate your friendship.It doesn’t have to be verbally expressed. Write a note or find a funny Hallmark card that conveys the right balance of emotional support. If your friend is a long-distance acquaintance, pick up the phone or send a text message (include emoticons!). Any kind of “I’m thinking about you today” gesture is an encouraging display of “showing yourself friendly.”

5.) Don’t have too high expectations. Life gets complicated and we all get caught up in the various commitments we have (i.e. family, career, etc.). Time may get away from both of you because of external demands and obligations. Don’t dwell on those issues; just enjoy the next chance you have to re-connect with your friend!

6.) Pray for your friend. There is a certain humbleness that comes from the action of prayer. Being transparent with a holy God about our friendships will help us to realize that no one is perfect, and even our earthly friends will sometimes disappoint us. The only one who can truly fill every physical, emotional and spiritual need is our heavenly Father.

No doubt about it–friendships take time and attention. But, when built upon a foundation of trust, honesty and appreciativeness, they become a blessing that lasts for years and years! Watch for those who cross your paths—they could be a future friend! Make sure to show yourself friendly!

Living in the Present

What are your plans for TODAY? Chores, appointments, work schedules…the daily grind of our lives can certainly become repetitious and routine. TODAY only comes once….when it’s tomorrow and you reflect back on the previous 24 hours, how productive were you TODAY?

TODAY is unique; it possesses endless possibilities. When our feet first hit the floor in the morning, our minds probably aren’t focused on how God can use us TODAY. God wants us to use each moment wisely and efficiently.The apostle Paul’s words in 2nd Corinthians 2:14-16 illustrate just how powerful our presence is:

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour or death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.”

mr potato smelly

TODAY, your aroma (as a born-again believer in Christ) is being ventilated amongst those who love God, but also in the presence of those who ignore or hate God. If we are staying close to God, we can’t but help that His essence rubs off on us! There will be those who welcome the pleasant (or sweet) savor of Christ; it will encourage and be a tremendous blessing. However, your perfume may be offensive and over-bearing to those who are hard-hearted and have rejected the Good News.

Wherever you go TODAY, keep in mind that God’s presence goes with you and lingers. Be confident knowing that His message of victory and eternal security will permeate the atmosphere and provide a purposeful agenda for you TODAY!