Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
Christian’s are such hypocrites! So much talk for so little walk. We hear this case built against the church all the time, yet we do nothing to change it. Instead we confirm it by our lack of character and integrity. They say integrity is who you are when no one is looking, and for most of us that means we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and start getting real.
Integrity and sound character are big ideas so let’s break it down. Integrity is:
- Trustworthiness: Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat or steal. Be reliable- in other words do what you say you’ll do. Have the courage to do the right thing. Build a good reputation. Be loyal and stand for what is right.
- Respect: Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Be considerate of the feelings of others. Don’t threaten or hurt anyone. Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements.
- Responsibility: Do what you are supposed to do. Persevere- keep trying! Always do your best. Use self-control. Be self-disciplined. Think before you act-consider the consequences. Be accountable for your choices.
- Fairness: Play by the rules. Take turns and share. Don’t take advantage of others.
- Caring: Be kind! Be compassionate and show you care. Express gratitude. Forgive others. Help people in need.
Read Psalm 101:2-4
“I will walk with integrity of heart within my house.” Yes, even there! Not only did David recognize the need for integrity as king over God’s people, but also within his own household. Even there he was mindful of his conduct and dealings with others. Within our homes there is as much need for dependability, honesty and respect as in any other sphere of our activities.
Genuine integrity is not for certain occasions or to be exercised only in certain places. A person who has integrity in one area of life while neglecting it in another does not really possess integrity.
Let me give you a personal example: Going to the grocery store with two kids can make it difficult to focus on the task. While searching the aisles for the food you need, you are also trying to make sure no one falls out of the cart, one kid doesn’t push the other one out of the cart and you, or they, don’t run the cart into other shoppers. Basically it’s easy to get distracted. Well one day after I strapped the kids into their car seats, I unloaded the newly bagged groceries into the back of the car and I found a small package of taco seasoning that wasn’t rung up laying loosely in my cart. I simply threw the packet into another bag and decided it wasn’t that big of a deal since the package cost maybe .79 cents and wasn’t worth the amount of work it would take to gather the kids up again and head back into the store to pay for it. So I drove off. Most of you don’t think I did anything wrong at this point and would do it too. But a few weeks later the same thing happened again, only the item left unpaid for was a little more expensive but still not that big of a deal. Again, it wasn’t worth the hassle to me, so I didn’t go in and pay for it but instead drove away. Literally a few weeks later it happened again and FINALLY I paid attention. Was God trying to teach me something here? ABSOLUTELY! I had considered myself a person of integrity and yet I wasn’t maintaining that purity of character in the moment God was testing how deep that integrity went. Obviously on the third time I went back in and paid for the item. Yes it was a hassle. Yes I was annoyed and yes it was pointless to everyone other than me and God. But I learned a big lesson that day: Integrity IS who you are when no one is looking. Integrity can only be possessed if it is lived out even in the crevices of your life. Since that day it hasn’t happened to me again. But if it does, I know exactly what I will do because having integrity is more important to me than the hassle it may temporarily cause.
Just think, you won’t have to worry about what people are saying about you when you have purity in character because you know that’s not who you are. But most of the time we get upset because someone calls us a liar or two-faced or hypocrite when its true, we just don’t want anyone to know that about us. Don’t give people anything to talk about and you won’t get mixed up in all the drama. Have integrity, and consistent purity in character instead. As Christians, integrity should be what we are known for, not hypocrisy.
Dig Deeper: James 5:12; Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 3:18-20; Romans 5:3-5
“It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.”
- Francis Bacon Sr.
Friday, July 17, 2009
I used to write a weekly devotional called Daily Bread back in my Nashville days. From time to time I look back into those files for ideas and as reminders of things God has taught me. I came across this one, and thought it might speak to some of you blog readers today. So enjoy!
Take on your lions first
Sometimes I get way ahead of myself when taking this walk with Jesus we call Life. I see the potential, the possibilities and the BIG stuff all the while dismissing the small steps I need to take to get there. Let me explain more clearly, I know the calling God has on my life. I am called to impact the youth of our culture with the love of Christ. I have seen that opportunity through inner-city ministry, through working as a youth pastor, through working camps, through missions trips to orphanages etc.The places where this broad calling can be applied are endless. So right out of college I started aiming at all of these places. Am I working in any of these areas now? Nope. Right now I work with the Creative Ministries Team at the People's Church. Im not discounting the effect my job has on people, but its definitely not where I thought I was headed. In fact, in some ways it feels like a detour from my designated path. Although I am in a church, Im not doing what I know I will be doing with my life someday. Is that a bad thing? Should I be discouraged? Well whether or not I should be, sometimes I do feel discouraged by that. I begin to question my calling, or if I've heard God wrong the last 5 years. I start to think, "Im doing this wrong. Im suppose to be with youth. Not in an office doing powerpoint for worship services." After a while of sorting through those thoughts and feelings I am reminded by my husband that I am getting ahead of myself. Every time I vocalize my doubts about where I am at vocationally he always says, "You are in a good place." Sure honey, I love my job but its not what I feel called to. "Either way, you are in a good place," he repeats to me. It is then that I realize I am getting ahead of myself. I am, what I like to call, trying to kill my Goliath before killing my lion or bear.
In the story of David and Goliath we automatically jump to the exciting scene where the little guy makes the HUGE leap in his life and is granted everything he has ever dreamed of as a result of this act. But we fail to go back and see the smaller steps he had to take to get to that point. In 1 Samuel 17: 34-37 David says, " I have been taking care of my Father's sheep, when a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and take the lamb from it's mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this Philistine, too, for he has defiled the armies of the Living God. The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine." David had the experience necessary to take on this giant b/c God had trained him for this up and coming battle by putting lions and bears amongst his flock. He learned the skills and bravery necessary while working on his father's farm that made him fit to be a king.
What if he had never encountered any bears or lions? Or what if he didn't take on the bears and lions in the field and just let them steal away his lambs? He wouldn't have built up the muscles and faith that were pertinent to taking on Goliath. He saw that God was faithful in the bear and lion incidents and therefore was lead to believe that God would be faithful again to him taking on this beast as well. God used his shepherding job to teach him the necessary skills he would need to be a king. What if David spent his entire life trying to be a king? Running for office, campaigning, becoming a general in the army instead of being a farmer. Who knows if he would have become the "man after God's own heart" that he is referred to as being in the GREAT BIG BOOK OF EVERYTHING.
All that to say that if you are anything like me and you are questioning why you have to work this job instead of the one that seems more directly aligned with where you feel you're headed, know that "You are in a good place." Where I am is strengthening muscles that I will need when I do get around youth, go to the orphanages, and work the camps. Where you are is a training ground for your own personal Goliath. Don't miss the bear and lion moments simply b/c you think you are ready to kill your own giant. Trust that "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." Take the jobs on the farm- because you never know if that will end up being your training ground for kingship.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
"Beneath the face I am a family plot. All the people I have ever been are buried there- the bouncing boy, his mother's pride; the pimply boy and secret sensualist; the reluctant infantryman; the beholder at dawn through hospital plate glass of his first-born child. All these selves I was and am no longer...I cannot even remember what it felt like to live inside their skin. Yet they live inside of my skin to this day, they are buried in me somewhere, ghosts that certain songs, tastes, smells, sights, or tricks of weather can raise, and although I am not the same as they, I am not different either because their having been then is responsible for my being now."
- Fredrick Buechner
The Alphabet of Grace