Wednesday, October 31, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-31 [Proverbs revisited] The value of experience

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge
Nor to be hasty and miss the way Proverbs19:2

This is tough advice for someone like me. I like to make snap decisions and often don't take time to find out all the facts. I am compulsively impulsive and if I leave this tendency unchecked it can get me into a lot of trouble.

Make no mistake - to be zealous is good, as long as one tempers the zeal with patience, research, advice, and wisdom. In our zeal to do great things for God, we should take time to learn from others. It is said that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it!

The two mistakes are:
- To have insufficient knowledge, information, and research
-- To be in such a rush that we miss the warning signs along the way.

I have seen many zealous people who have had their zeal crushed by mistakes they made because they did not do the groundwork properly.

What is the groundwork?
1. Pray about what one is planning to do
2. Do as much research as you can about what you are planning to do
3. Get advice from older wiser Christians who would not be afraid to tell you when you're wrong.
4. Make sure you are reading the signs along the way - opposition to your great idea isn't always just the devil trying to stop you - sometimes you've got it wrong!
5. (This may sound contradictory) Don't give up to quickly - very often the mistake of zealous people make is that they do not persevere. If you have had no stop-signs from God, and you are convinced that what you're doing is His idea and not just yours, then hang in there!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-30 [Proverbs revisited] Spiritual and Physical Health

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones Proverbs17:22

The word "Psychosomatic" is an interesting one. It is made up of two Greek words: "Psycho" - to do with the spirit. And "Soma" - to do with the body. For nearly 3000 years Proverbs has been telling us what the doctors have only recently started researching - that our mental and spiritual attitudes can have a profound impact on our health.

Sometimes our feelings exhaustion and tiredness have more to do with our mental and spiritual tiredness than our physical tiredness and sleep is not always the right answer for that sort of exhaustion. Sometimes when I am feeling really run down and tired, the right answer is to take the phone off the hook, put on some good music and read a good book or _the_ Good Book!

Sadness, depression, hopelessness and doubt have a huge impact on our well-being as people. We are not always aware that our spirit has been crushed and so our dried up bones are the warning signal. Inasmuch as we need to nourish our bodies, give them rest, and care for them, so also we need to care for our spiritual and emotional needs as well.

Are you feeling run down and exhausted? Before you run off to the doctor and get vitamins or even anti-depressants ask yourself: "What have I done to meet the needs of my crushed spirit? What have I done to cheer up my heart?"

Please don't misunderstand me - there is a time for a visit to the doctor and/or medication, all I am saying is that we should take the time to see what is happening in our hearts first...

When last did you feed your soul?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, October 26, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-26 [Proverbs revisited] Covering offences

He who covers over an offence promotes love
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends Proverbs17:9

I am sure this proverb comes from the story of Noah: After the ark landed Noah grew some grapes, made some wine and got drunk. He was lying passed out and naked when one of his sons found him and thought it was very funny. He went and told his brothers about it. They did an amazing thing: they walked into the tent backwards with a blanket which they spread over their dad to hide his nakedness.

There are a couple of things we should note:
1. Noah was responsible for his actions and DESERVED to be mocked
2. The first son enjoyed being able to take his dad down a peg or two
3. The other two sons restored dignity to Noah.

When people around us fail - especially if they deserved it - it is tempting to gloat and to gossip and even to embellish the story a bit! We should not!

When we see someone stumble and do something wrong, we should remind ourselves that we are not without sin. With a kind, thoughtful, and corrective action we can lessen the pain of what happened.

It must have been hard for the two sons to contemplate the failure of their father but their love for him was not based on his performance, but their commitment to him.

Is there someone you are angry or disappointed with today? Which of Noah's sons will you be?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-25 [Proverbs revisited] A very misquoted verse

Commit to the Lord whatever you do
and all your plans will succeed. Proverbs16:3

This is one of the most misquoted verses I know. Most people mis-use it in the sense that they make their plans and then at the last moment, before they act on their plans they ask Almighty God to bless their plans.

God is not like holy water that we sprinkle over things to make them holy. When we expect Him to bless our plans, even if they are good and upright, then we reduce Him to the status of a genie who must do our bidding and bless OUR plans.

We are not God - He is.

The verse tells us that we must commit WHATEVER we do to the Lord - this is all encompassing - it involves all of life and we can't be selective about it. To commit something to God means that it belongs to Him and not to us.

When we learn to live lives dedicated to Him, we will begin to see a fruitfulness in our lives that comes from our close walk with Him. Our plans (which have been made with Him watching over our shoulder and sitting at our side) will bear fruit.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-24 [Proverbs revisited] Priorities

Better a meal with vegetables where there is love
than a fatted calf with hatred Proverbs15:17

We are easily afflicted with "Possession Obsession." Many families find themselves estranged and distant because Mom and Dad have worked so hard to maintain a certain lifestyle.

It's easy to overextend ourselves financially (and the banks are very willing to help us do that!) and then be caught up in a frantic attempt to maintain our position. I heard of a young couple who managed to generate debt totalling a million rand before they were 25! Fortunately they had the courage to sell their assets and liquidate the debt - but not everyone does!

The Bible constantly calls us to a simple lifestyle. It takes a lot of courage, but it is the most secure way to raise children. Money problems are a sure way to stress a marriage and alienate children.

Families need time, effort, and commitment to be secure. Money troubles caused by an excessively high standard of living rob the family of the breadwinners' time. It also adds a lot of stress. Make your investments with time, creativity, and love - not with money or status.

The really important things in life are not expensive, but they cost a lot.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, October 19, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-19 [Proverbs revisited] Contentment

A heart at peace gives life to the body
but envy rots the bones Proverbs14:30

Learning contentment is one of the great secrets to living longer. When we continually want what others have, when we are not satisfied with where we are, and when satisfaction is always over the horizon then we are in danger of rotting from the inside.

This does not mean that ambition and the pursuit of excellence are necessarily bad, although they can deceive us and become our gods.

To have a heart at peace is to always carry an attitude of gratitude in our back pockets, so that we are always ready to count our blessings and to enjoy the moment. The people who will rot from within are those who are always focussed on the destination instead of being focussed on the journey.

Are you chasing your tail in an attempt to achieve something that is always out of your reach, or are you willing to stop and smell the roses?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-18 [Proverbs revisited] Our attitudes to the poor

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker
but whoever is kind to the needy honours God Proverbs14:31

This is one of those bits of the Bible that makes me squirm. There is no argument about it: I have my own home, two cars, a fridge, a stove, a microwave, and more - I am wealthy!

There are many who are not. We can go into the reasons, but that doesn't change anything. What matters is how I view those who have less than I do and how I treat them. If we are all made in the image of God, then I am mocking God when I treat the poor in a manner that robs them of their dignity.

How do you treat the person handing out pamphlets at the traffic-lights? He or she is actually trying to earn an honest living - but I see many people staring ahead as if these people don't even exist. This is a denial of basic human dignity and in one way or another we have all been guilty of it.

I once saw a young man make the shape of a gun with his fingers and "shoot" (with sound effects) the little boy who was begging for money. What damage must have been done in the heart of that little boy! (And to my shame I said and did nothing!)

We don't always have to give. Indiscriminate giving to those who beg often creates dependency, reinforces alcoholism and drug abuse, but even when we refuse, let us do it in a manner that acknowledges the humanity of the person and gives them some dignity - this honours God.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-17 [Proverbs revisited] Making amends

Fools mock at making amends for sin
but goodwill is found among the upright. Proverbs14:9

To err is human. We all make mistakes. We all fall short from time to time. How we handle our shortcomings is an indication of our character.

If I wrong someone and I know I've done it and I make no attempt to make amends I am saying the following:
1. What I did wasn't really that serious

2. I don't consider the feelings or dignity of the person I have hurt at all

3. I am not concerned about the long term impact of this behaviour on my character

4. I will eventually be surrounded by animosity because of the un-amended hurts I have caused

Proverbs considers this behaviour and these attitudes foolish (and remember that the word used for fool also implies moral deficiency)

The upright are people who make amends - they apologise and make right when they hurt others. The benefits are goodwill, respect, and healing.

It takes a lot of courage to say "I was wrong. I acted thoughtlessly. I am sorry." But it is vital.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-16 [Proverbs revisited] Encouragement

An anxious heart weighs a man down
but a kind word cheers him up Proverbs12:25

As stress levels are on the increase, our support structures are on the decrease. Longer hours means we spend less time with our families who strengthen us. When both spouses work it is harder for them to support each other. With people's increasing desire for privacy, they are not letting people get close to them, and people are not willing to intrude.

We are getting lonelier and lonelier and with the loneliness comes discouragement.

Stress can break us. Encouragement reverses the effects of stress. To speak a kind word costs us very little and to encourage someone only takes a bit of time. Can you think of someone who has really encouraged you? Can you remember how much it meant?

Maybe you can take a moment to pick up the phone, drop by someone's office or room, or send of an email and say:
"You're doing a great job!" or
"Thank you for what you're doing - you're making a difference" or
"You're a great wife/hubbie and I'm so glad to have you in my life"
"You're a fantastic son/daughter and I'm proud of you."

It will make a difference!
Don't hesitate.... JUST DO IT!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, October 12, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-12 [Proverbs revisited] Short fuses

A fool shows his annoyance at once
but a prudent man overlooks an insult Proverbs12:16

Someone I admire very much taught me that it is better to be too slow to respond than to be too quick.

We often mean it is a compliment when we say of someone that they don't suffer fools gladly. Unfortunately this often means that the person we're referring to is a bully who uses his or her superior position or intellect to deflect damage onto others.

It is better to be quiet than to say things that we might later regret! It is better to be slow to anger and quick to forget. It is often more effective to be quiet than to become defensive or abusive. There are times when our refusal to get involved in mudslinging marks us as people of character.

When next you are irritated or insulted by someone who seems foolish, take three mental steps back before you drop down to their level. When the situation pans out, you may be very very glad you did.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-11 [Proverbs revisited] Lasting Fruit

The fruit of the righteous is the tree of life
and he who wins souls is wise Proverbs11:30

We are sometimes so caught up in the here-and-now that we lose the long term perspective.

Jesus made it absolutely clear that we should store up treasures in heaven, and yet we easily get sucked into the hurly burly of present. Sometimes the immediate benefits of righteousness are not clear and the costs of doing the right thing can be so high that we are tempted to give it a skip.

But when we live out our faith and when we reach out to others, we are making an eternal difference. We cannot take our money, shares, property, or social status to heaven. The only thing we can take with us is people. When we reach someone with God's Good News, we will see them in heaven.

It is our righteousness (with God's help) that will attract others. It is our willingness to love that will reach others. To live for Christ will bear fruit and that fruit is almost always going to bring others to the tree of life. Reaching others with God's love is the most enduring thing we can do on this earth.

The prophet Daniel said a similar thing:
"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever."

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-10 [Proverbs revisited] Generosity Benefits

A generous man will prosper;
He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs11:25

Generosity is a Godlike quality.

The well-loved Welsh preacher Granville Morgan said that God's favourite word is "and." God made birds _and_ animals _and_ plants _and_ trees _and_ green _and_ blue _and_ moon _and_ stars _and_ ... _and_ ... _and_....

All of creation is a breathtaking testimony of the awesome abundance of divine generosity. Are we all alone in the universe? We don't know. Scripture does say that the heavens declare the glory of God, and so, if we are all alone in the universe then its abundance is just part of the awesome generosity of God, who after giving in Creation also gave us His Son, and then gave us His Holy Spirit.

When we learn to be generous, we discover that we have more than we think we have. When we learn to have an abundance mentality instead of a scarcity mentality, we discover a fullness in life that we simply never knew was there.

When we spend our time, talent, or treasure in service of others, we will find that God will renew us with fresh stores of His grace and love. For we are learning to be like Him!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-10-09 [Proverbs revisited] Making the Victory sure

For lack of guidance a nation falls
but many advisors make victory sure Proverbs11:14

Seeking advice is going out of fashion! Seeking advice from people older and more experienced than ourselves is something that very few people do these days. And yet there is much wisdom to be found in the people God has placed around us!

When we have difficult decisions to make, many of us ask God to help us make the decision, but we are not willing to entertain the idea that God may be speaking to us through the people He has placed along our path.

Of course listening to the people who will tell us what we want to hear is an option many people take, but I am talking about wise counsel coming from those who have experience, wisdom, and insight.

How do we find good advisors?
- They are usually not the opinionated ones who give advice even when it has not been requested.
- They are the kind of people who would have the courage to tell us if we are being stupid.
- They also have the courage to tell us what we don't want to hear.
- They are people who have integrity and wisdom.
- They will not pry into our lives unnecessarily and will not go further than we ask them to
- They will maintain confidentiality

If you have people like this in your life, then God has given you a wonderful way to make wise decisions.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at