Thursday, June 25, 2009

Character that counts...

Character, Integrity, Humility - these are three of the big ones...things that define a man, a woman, and a life.  I've been in the book of Titus lately, and wanted to make some observations of Chapter 2:1-10 (read below).

     "Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.
     But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around.
     Guide slaves into being loyal workers, a bonus to their masters—no back talk, no petty thievery. Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God."

This section starts innocently enough; instructions to Titus on teaching doctrine and guiding men/women; however, when you look closer, there's a few things that stick out.

1) The key verse, or at least the one that jumped off of the page at me?  "But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself..."  It is one thing to teach and guide, and a whole other thing to teach, guide and model.  Teaching apart from modeling is often just empty words.  This reminds me of Paul's similar admonition to Timothy about not letting people look down on him, but to set an example for them - to model.  This, simply put, is character.

2) Look at the outcome - in the last section, "Then their character will shine through their actions..." - it is often said that "actions speak louder than words;" and we might add, "character speaks loudest of all."  And what happens when believers "marry" good works and character together?  We "add luster" to the teachings of Christ...or simply put, we model Christ to the world around us.  And what does bad character do?  Look earlier in this passage - "We don't want anyone looking down on God's message because of their behavior..."  Bad character can smear the name of Christ.

3) Humility: Although this word doesn't appear here explicity, it is certainly implied as only a humble person will take the call to "model" as well as teach.  It is the humble person who says to his pupil, "follow me, do as I do and together we will live for Christ."  The opposite?  "Don't do what I do, do what I say."  A humble person seeks to bring glory to God.

So what is good character?  What does integrity look like?  I once heard it put this way; "character is defined by what you do when nobody is watching."

Join with me in striving to be men/women of the highest character!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Looking Forward...

Last week was a great week.  Why?  Because of Friday night.  Friday night was a dinner that my wife and I had been long anticipating.  It was a night for celebrating something that God had blessed us with.  We picked our favorite restaurant and even invited another couple to join our celebration.  It was one of those nights when you order appetizers, drinks and dessert - we stayed there for 3 hours, enjoying every second of it.  This one event made the whole week great as it served as that "carrot" to work forward made all of the difficult times of the week easier to bear, knowing what was coming Friday night.

As I was grabbing my jacket to go to this dinner, I was struck by this thought; what if my entire life was spent anticipating the life to come?  Or, in other words, do I ever spend anytime looking forward to Heaven?  Do I even believe in heaven?  If such a small thing as a great dinner can change my outlook on a work week, how much more would a glimpse of heaven change my outlook on my life on earth?

Looking forward takes time...time to dream, to imagine, to taste.  Imagine...

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-2)

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'  He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' " (Rev 21:1-5)

I've been thinking about heaven recently, as I heard a new song that I love called "You Hold me Now" by Hillsong.  Take a moment, check it out, read these Scriptures, and start dreaming about the life to will inspire you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ever stop and "wonder?"

Psalm 40:5: "Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; no one can compare with You! If I should declare and speak of them, they are too many to be numbered."

Do you ever stop and just "wonder?"  Wonder about God?  About how big He is?  About how incredibly creative He is?  I have heard it said that "worship begins with Wonder."  The point being, that to truly worship something, it must be bigger than you.  If you understand it, you won't worship.

This brings me to "Jahweh" - the God of the Bible, and the one true God in all the universe.  Do you ever stop and just "think" and "wonder" about Him? 

- For instance, our universe, which He created, is constantly expanding.  In fact, it is expanding at the rate of approximately 48 miles per second...and God has every hair on your head numbered.
- For instance, I was looking at our japanese maple tree this afternoon trying to count the number of shades of green in that one tree.  And He, the Creator, made it all...
- For instance, yesterday, I was eating dinner and a hummingbird swooped in to drink from our feeder...her wings flapping at 60-80 times per second.  The hummingbird is the only bird that can "hover" (like a helicopter).
- For instance, have you ever stopped at night and looked up at the milky way galaxy?  Seen its vastness?  Granted, you have to be in a good spot and it has to be a clear night...but sometimes, when conditions are just right, you catch a glimpse of this immense galaxy.  Now think about this;
    - The milky way galaxy is made up of at least 200 billion other stars; that's 200,000,000,000
    - The milky way galaxy is only ONE of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the known universe.

- For instance, have you ever stopped to wonder just why in the world God chose to save and redeem mankind, when we are so small, and He is so big, and it seems all we do is rebel, sin and mess up and do stupid things?  Why does a God who is so big, who made so many things, put up with us?  I don't know, but I do know that He does love me, and He likes me, and this is a beautiful thing and leads me to a life of worship.

Now I challenge you - make sure "Wonder" is a part of your life.