Monday, January 20, 2014

Stepping Up With Integrity

The dictionary defines Integrity as..a noun
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship's hull.(www.dictionary.com)
- See more at: http://www.positive-deviant.com/definition-of-integrity.html#sthash.Oi6RVnqk.dpuf
The dictionary defines Integrity as..a noun
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship's hull.(www.dictionary.com)
- See more at: http://www.positive-deviant.com/definition-of-integrity.html#sthash.Oi6RVnqk.dpuf

The dictionary defines integrity as a noun: 1. adherence to moral and ethical principals; soundness of moral character; honesty 2. the state of being whole, entire or undiminished: to preserve the empire. a sound unimpaired, or perfect condition, the integrity of a ship's hull.  www.dictionary.com

Integrity is a word that is not used much in today’s English. One definition I like is this...
 “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity”[1

So we can say that a good synonym for integrity is honesty.
As we stroll through life we have things happen to us daily and how we respond to them without taking the time to mull them over is pretty darned important. As I researched the term integrity I came across this little story, most appropriately called Poor Aim...enjoy!
 
I like to walk in the early morning with my dog. One glorious Saturday morning I was enjoying the quiet and the beautiful weather and loving life while my dog Jett and I made our rounds.
At one home I passed, I noticed a newspaper that was lying near the curb instead of near the doorstep. Thinking I would make someone else's life a little easier I picked up the paper and gently tossed it towards their door. My aim was way off and instead of landing on the doorstep the paper sailed in the opposite direction and landed on the roof of a travel trailer in the driveway. No one saw it but me and I burst out laughing before I realized how I had just complicated the problem.
It was too early to knock on the door and tell the homeowner where their paper was. So, instead I walked home, changed clothes and went to the grocery store to make it right.
I returned a little later with a new newspaper a basket of fresh strawberries and shortcake and found the homeowner in the driveway working on his vehicle with some friends. With a deep breath I approached and said, “I hope you have a great sense of humor”.
Fortunately they did and I couldn’t help but smile all day. I’ve heard it said, “Character is what you do when no one is looking”. 
Character feels good!

 An important part of having integrity is developing critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is defined as follows:  
the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion

 What it boils down to is 'think for yourself'. Do and say what you believe is right, even if down the road you are moved to change your mind. Thinking for ourselves is something that we all have problems doing from time to time because we become caught up in thoughts like "will people dislike me if I have an opinion that is different than theirs?" or "everyone thinks this or that so they must be right." When we believe either of these things we are not using critical thinking skill at all. 

What does the Bible say about having integrity?

Proverbs 28:6 (ESV)  Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity  than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Titus 2:7-8 (ESV)Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

 In Paul's letter to Timothy {in 2 Tim 1:7} he reminds Timothy {and us} to be courageous and compelled by God's love to share our spiritual gifts - whether it be serving, teaching, giving, encouraging, leading, praying, etc.

So, today when God nudges you to be who He created you to be  don't let fear hold you back. Instead remember this truth and tap into the power of the spirit He has  given you - one of power, love and self-discipline.

 

 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Your Christian Stewardhip Can Define You

Stewardship:
1: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward
2: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something ; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care <stewardship of our natural resources>
So what are we actually stewards over?  
Personally, I believe it applies to everything we have been given. The most obvious things
would include our money, our homes, our God given gifts and abilities, as well as our influence
over other people. They all come to us from God
I like how the definition says “managing of something.” Just like the manager of a store is responsible for his/her business and employees, we are each responsible for managing ourselves, which would/should include our behavior toward others at all times.
When I started researching this topic I found lots of stewardship verses, Most told of people who were rewarded for their good stewardship in handling money and property, however, simply put...
the good stewards were the ones who took “risks” and action in order to multiply or improve what they had been given. The bad steward was the one who out of fear decided not to take a risk and were then called...ummm... lazy!
Consider the things we do and the people we encounter on a daily basis. Are we being good stewards in all areas with all people?
I know I certainly have room for improvement.
This year I had the opportunity to work retail during the busy shopping season and it was a real eye opener for me. I learned a couple of important things.
#1. People working retail are preforming a thankless, underpaid position, one that should be appreciated.
#2. Far to many shoppers are over the top demanding and rude.
O.K. I know...the customer is always right. Whatever...blah blah blah...
That very statement has encouraged this behavior...:( sad huh?
Plus, this kind of statement has prompted our culture to feel so entitled that we forget something as rudimentary as shopping stewardship? Our minds are so transformed that we, as a society believe that the employee in the retail setting is the only person capable of scoring the big F in retail. What about us...the shoppers...what happened to our shopping stewardship?
I was taught to put things back where I got them if I decided against them. (Have you ever seen the box of ice cream on the bread shelf??) I was also taught to hang things back on the hangers after I tried them on (not rip off the tags, throw them on the floor, wade through them to leave the fitting room and expect my mommy; the store clerk making $7.50) to hang them up. This shopper even puts clothing back where I got it if I decide against it..yup..yup...you read that right.
Sometimes people think I work there, but No, I just have a boss who expects this from me. 

Jars of Clay wrote this wonderful song that reminds us of how we are suppose to behave.                  A few of the lyrics go like this...
We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
This should be our Christian Mantra.
My dear friend Michael Knopf  https://www.facebook.com/theholyspiritministry tells me he can spot a Christian by the light in their eyes. I like to believe that this is so. 
Enjoy a spirit filled weekend and don't forget your shopping, no scratch that...your Christian Stewardship in all areas of your life. Don't forget, your bossy boss is watching you too.
.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Our own brand of Christianity

Human beings are so fascinating. It is so intriguing to me how we call ourselves Christian yet we have areas of Christianity that we totally dismiss. Do we have some deep seeded, disagreement with portions of the rules for living that Jesus has given us, or do we convince ourselves that our way is the way and therefore we have no need to change or maybe we are simply so blind that we refuse to recognize those, oh so negative traits within ourselves. Whatever it is, this is a wonderful time to do something about it. 2014 has arrived so instead of making rules pertaining to my diet, or exercising, what better time to just say "Here I am Lord, please fix me. You see within me Lord all of the areas that my blinders prevent me from seeing. You know what character traits I have that are holding me back. You see me struggle Lord and although you understand that I sometimes feel violated by others. other times I am doing the violating myself."

I don't mean to violate others, God knows that I feel really awful when it suddenly dawns on me that I have been less than Christ like, those moments are daily, o.k., hourly. I am made aware either by the Holy Spirit or by someone or something else and that awareness jogs my consciousness. When this happens I find myself apologizing to people who didn't even know I had offended them. These offenses range from not allowing someone to merge into my lane in busy traffic to being rude to someone who has no idea why I am cranky or why I have a problem with them. But the good news here is that we are made aware of those offenses if we are paying attention and once we are made aware we need to fix the problem we have created ans we need to never think for even one moment that it is only others who offend...we all offend on a regular basis.
 
1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (ESV) says this...8.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away, as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

When we see a glimpse of our self in a mirror, a mirror provided by God it is so very humbling. But what about the times when we have no idea we are being offensive? Those moments are sometimes made up of things we do to others that we justify. May Almighty God help us in this area. May we come to recognize things we do that set us apart from Christ. All of us who call ourselves Christian yet make our own rules all the time out of convenience. We do so as if there are areas where God's laws do not even apply to us. This kind of behavior prompts others to ask "Just what Bible do you read?" 
I don't ever want anyone to  ask that about me, yet I am certain that they do. I ask it about others and Jesus says I must pray for them so I do. We can't make people do things they don't want to do and we can't  even make them understand what they are doing that hurts us or hurts themselves but God can. He is the only way. He can heal our hearts and believe me, I have needed mine healed and I need it now and I will need it again and again. He can make impossible things happen within the hearts of people. That is the Bible that I read. That is the Jesus that I know. The Jesus who makes me want to be a better woman. The Jesus who nudges me when I am awful. May he continue to nudge me and nudge all of us when we justify our less than Christ like behavior. May he open our hearts and eyes, may he awaken our brains and our souls and make this the year when we are awakened to the full potential of being a person who calls himself by his Holy name.

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

 This scripture is really BIG...but it covers all things from abortion to rudeness...from stealing or cheating to selfishness...it covers it all. It is what is needed to change our world, to change our government and to change our relationships with each other and make them really BIG and make make them really important.

Happy New Year! Make this the year we all humble ourselves and seek his face.