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Showing posts from May, 2013

Joyfulness and Justice - Journeying On

We are well underway with our exploration of the character traits of a child of God - those traits which actually "reflect" better than any "image" we see of ourselves in the mirror on our wall.  Today, we consider our "J" list - Justice and Joyfulness.  I have chosen a rather long passage, but I think it is rich with blessing.  Justice is really another way of saying we live in such a manner so as to display right conduct.  In dealing with others, and often ourselves, we are equitable in treating others as God has treated us.  Now, at first, this seems a little too easy for us to simply respond, "Check", and move on.  Let me assure you, living "just" lives is a lot harder than some of the other traits we have explored to date!  In fact, because it deals with the behaviors of others, often in reflection of the way they have treated us, it is one of the hardest ones to master!  

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true…

Integrity and intensity - the "I" list

Two words come to mind when I think of our "I" List of character traits God would like for us to possess:  Integrity and Intensity.  At first, these two seem to stand alone, but I think you will come to see how they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually compliment each other.  As you can see from our passage below, Paul begins with "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it."  Now, consider our two traits - he asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it).  They are indeed integral to each other.  
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.   Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in …

Hunger gets you to the table

There are a whole lot of character traits I could choose for my "H" List - things like humility, honor, honesty, hopefulness, and holiness.  Yet, I choose to focus on one character trait today:  Hunger.  You see, if hunger is one of your character traits, humility will follow, honor will be your adornment, honesty will be your way of doing business, hopefulness will spring from your heart, and holiness will be evident in your words and actions.  So, hunger really is an all-encompassing character trait for our "H" List today!

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.  (Matthew 5:6 MSG)

This passage is taken from the Sermon on the Mount.  I'd like to back up a little to get some perspective though.  First, we find Jesus climbing a small mountain or up onto a hillside.  Why?  The crowds were gathering and this gave him position to speak to the vast crowd - his voice would carry since what he d…

Getting other than what we deserved!

There is something unique about a thankful heart.  If you have ever been around someone who really practices a lifestyle of gratitude, you know what I mean.  Another word for gratitude is gratefulness.  I sometimes think this character trait is linked to a similar trait - being graceful.  Grateful people have a way of exuding grace in some of the most unlikely ways, don't they? Our "G" list of character traits - grace and gratitude.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.  (Colossians 3:15-17 MSG)

As Paul writes to the C…

The bridge between faithfulness and fullness

How many of us can truly say we are true to our word?  Not just some of the time, but each and every time?  I don't imagine it is many of us - for we all struggle with this at times - no matter how much we live in a manner which consistently follows through on what we say we will do.  In fact, most of the time, we struggle with the "promises" we make God more than we do the ones we make to our fellow man.  Today, we look at two inter-related character traits:  Faithfulness and Fullness.  I think we will begin to see how much these two are really intertwined - for learning to be faithful leads to quite a full life!

You are right and you do right, God; your decisions are right on target. You rightly instruct us in how to live ever faithful to you. My rivals nearly did me in, they persistently ignored your commandments. Your promise has been tested through and through, and I, your servant, love it dearly. I’m too young to be important, but I don’t forget what you tell me. Yo…

Energy and Enthusiasm - got any?

Enthusiasm and Energy - two character traits which often define the progress we make in life.  Lack enthusiasm or energy and any task you take on will seem like a drudgery, weighing you down with its burden.  Sometimes we possess energy, but lack enthusiasm.  When we do, we have all the "burn" we need for the long-haul, but we just don't have the "umph" behind it to make the "haul" enjoyable.  We can also have all the enthusiasm in the world, but lack the energy because it has been sucked out of us by all the other stuff we also have "enthusiasm" for in life!  These two work hand-in-hand, as do many of our other "character traits" we have explored over the past several days.  Today's list is our "E" List - Enthusiasm and Energy.

I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right th…

Devotion, Determination and Delight

Devotion is one character trait which really cannot be "seen" in the way we dress, what we drive, or the things we amass.  In fact, it is "seen" more in the people we hang around with, the way we spend our time, and the attitude of heart which is exhibited in the actions we take toward others.  If you really stop to consider it, devotion is just a synonym of love.  Devotion is evident in where we find our foundation for life, who it is we emulate in our actions, and what it is we commit to without wavering.  Devotion also determines our delight - there is very little in which we take delight that does not first begin with an appeal to our hearts.  Devotion then is linked with determination - for what we come to value we develop a strong determination to obtain and make out own.

But he knows where I am and what I’ve done.  He can cross-examine me all he wants, and I’ll pass the test with honors.  I’ve followed him closely, my feet in his footprints,not once swerving …

A Contrite Heart

We are well underway with our discovery of some of the character traits which may not be very evident in our physical appearance, but which make us quite "attractive" from the inside out.  As we begin today on our "C" List of character traits, there is really only one trait today where I'd like to focus - that of a CONTRITE heart.  For some, their first impression of "contrite" is that of being repentant, and therefore, remorseful because their is some sense of guilt one is feeling.  I don't think of a contrite heart in quite this same sense. Yep, I think a contrite heart is one with a "healthy" perspective on the value and practice of repentance.  Yep, I believe the contrite heart experiences some sort of "pain" whenever there is sinful behavior being acted out in their lives.  Yet, I don't believe for a moment God ever looks for us to be laden with guilt - remorseful in the sense of the shame or regret caused by the sin c…

Not just the "B" list

Yesterday we began a discussion about some character traits which we seldom focus on when really examining ourselves in the mirror, but which are really what makes us very appealing to God, and honestly, they make us pretty "appealing" in all other respects, as well.   As I mentioned, these traits are interwoven, almost dependent and coexistent with each other.  One trait just doesn't stand alone.  It would be like having one hair on the top of your head, one on your chin and an errant hair growing from your big toe.  It just makes no sense for hair to be on your big toe!  It makes perfect sense for it to be on your head, and only makes sense for it to be on your chin if you are a man!  Yet even one hair on the top of the head is kind of out of place, isn't it?  It needs its "sibling" hairs in order to really make a "display" of the beauty of our hair.  So it is with these character traits - they need each other in order to put on "perfect di…

My "A" List

Character traits of individuals are as varied as are the number of people in this world.  Some of us have tiny button noses, others are larger and have even made people famous, like Jimmy Durante who is most well known for his "schnozzola".  There are those who possess the evenest white teeth, never needing braces to correct overbite, under bite, or even teeth seemingly too tightly crammed into the space they occupy.  Yet, there are character traits we often don't focus on as much as the outward - those which make us up on the "inside".  I would like to call attention to those character traits which God sees - the "inside stuff".  This journey will begin today and may take us several days, but I hope it will unfold some things for us which we might just be overlooking when we are focusing intently on the "image" we portray.  You see, character traits are more than skin deep and those which matter the most are those which are often barely vis…

Shine on

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?  Most of us would say we see a reflection of ourselves.  Looking back at us is the man or woman we have become, complete with all the wrinkles, gray hairs, blemishes, cellulite, and the like.  Rarely does anyone answer, "I see Christ".  Why?  I am not sure we actually see Christ because we only see the "dullness" of this earthen vessel and his brightness is just beneath the surface, struggling to get out!  Paul puts it this way:

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but Go…

Truth anyone?

Do you like being on the "inside track" - knowing what is going on?  I know I'd rather know some things than not, but sometimes being on the "inside" looking "out" is a little bit frightening!  To know what is about to happen and not be able to say anything about it is stressful, right?  To know something and then be able to share it is quite another!  There is something I learned quite some time ago - to the degree you know truth in your life, you will have assurance to the same degree.  In other words, if your "truth gauge" is on full, you stand fully-assured.  If it is half-empty, your assurance in the midst of trial or test may waiver a little!  So, being on the "inside track" with God is essential if we are to stand strong in the midst of this present trial and all future ones to come!

Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into o…