Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    I am going to start by telling you a story. I am not going to say whether it is true or not, I will leave that up to you to decide.  
    There once was this Christian man who was getting ready to go home to God. He sent messages to his children that they needed to come home so he could see them one last time. Even though all 7 of his children had families of their own, they all came home to see their father. When all of them had arrived he called them into his room where he had been bed ridden for weeks. When they arrived and surrounded his bed so he could see them all, he told them to go out and find a good sized stick and bring it back to him. Now this kind of seemed strange to them, but because he was on his death bed they did what they were told. After everyone had gotten a stick and returned to the room he told them all to break their sticks one by one. After all of them had broken their sticks he told them to go back out and get another stick. The children thought this was getting a little weird, but they went back out and got another stick. After they got back he told them to put all the sticks into one bundle and give them to him. He pulled out some string he had and tied all the sticks together, he then handed the sticks back to his children and told each of them to try and break the sticks again. One by one they tried to break the sticks, but none of them could do it. The father responded by saying " I just want you to know that if you all stick together, it will be harder to break you."
      Family needs to stick together, it is important that we teach our children to value family and demonstrate by example, the family responsibility to take care of each other.  All families have up and down times, but at the end of the day you should always be able to count on your family, and your family should be able to count on you. Most families have quarrels with one another at some point in time, but make it known that no matter how rough things have been when the chips are down, they can count on you and vice versa.  Express this love from time to time and your parents and siblings will be glad that you did.  Sometimes during our darkest moments, family is all we have around us in addition to our heavenly Creator who is always there.
      Recently, I was driving on my way home from work and I started thinking about my family, I began thinking about how important my family is to me. I thought about how in life we can get distracted by the things of the world and how it can so easily take up our time and lure us away from God and our family. I thought about how at the end of the day when I look back over my entire life the one thing that I’m going to value is the quality time that I spent with a gift God has given me, and that is my family.
I believe that family is the most valuable gift God has given us besides the gift of salvation........AMEN
     

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is integrity?
  Integrity is best defined by words like innocence, sincerity, faithfulness, and honesty.
It means having a mind free of dishonesty and deception. Integrity I have found, comes from the word integrate, so it's meaning is to integrate the values of my heart into my daily actions.
  You must decide in life to have integrity, and it is very important to God, He puts a very high value on it. In 1 Chr 29:17 NIV it says, I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. Integrity is one of the things that pleases God, it simply means you can count on me, I will keep my word. That's it, it is as simple as that, it says I am not for sale at any price.
  Let me see if I can give you some examples of integrity working in peoples lives.

INTEGRITY is the old man about to be executed but offered his release if he would denounce his faith in Christ saying, "Eighty and six years have I served my Lord and He has done me no ill. I cannot recant."

INTEGRITY is Martin Luther standing before his accusers who believe they have the power to banish him to hell and threatening to do so but offering him a pardon if he will recant his faith and him saying, "Here I stand, I can do naught else."
INTEGRITY is a teenager willing to fail a test rather than compromise persuasions regarding cheating.

INTEGRITY is a person in business refusing a tempting offer for financial gain rather than break the heart of the Heavenly Father by breaking one of His commandments.

INTEGRITY is a church volunteer saying "Yes, I'll perform that ministry," and doing it often at great effort. "I'll teach that class," and being there when it would be easier to be
somewhere else. "I'll perform that task," and doing it when there is not supervision or recognition.
INTEGRITY is consistent character that won't compromise even if circumstances make it easy and the potential for ill-gotten gain is great.

That, to me is the answer to the question that started this rant, What is integrity? I will try my best to make sure that I live my life with integrity and pass that down to my child......Amen




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Grace

 I was doing some studying the other day about grace and decided to take a little mental break. On my way back from my break an idea popped into my head, I wanted to see what I could find on the subject on the internet, no matter how outlandish I thought it was or sounded, and what I found kind of disturbed me. I found site after site stating that grace was conditional and had to be earned......
 Grace cannot be earned, if we had to earn grace every single one of us would fall way short. I think Paul thought this was one of the most important things in his letters and he said it in Titus 3: 4-7.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
 In Gal.2: 16 it says,
16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
 So, if grace is not earned and freely given, then it must be a gift. There it is right there, God's grace is a gift, freely given. I can't say it any better then that.
 Now that we have established that grace cannot be earned or is it deserved, that it is a gift from God, now what? We are to share His gift of grace with others. We must forgive and set aside our differences and share the Grace of God with every one. We are called to be the light on the hill, be an example to the everyone, to show that even if we have different views we can come together in community and let God use us to make our country or even the world a better place. Mathew 4: 4-16 says, 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. As Christians we need to set our differences aside and join together in the one thing we all as Christians have in common, Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord. If we are all forgiven and given grace then everything else is non-essential. We need to be the light on the hill showing that even though we have differences we can come together and work for the better. Because it is what Jesus tells us to do.
I am going to end with my favorite quote from the 3rd book of the Apprenticeship Series, the Good and Beautiful Community........If you have the love for Jesus in your heart, than take my hand and walk with me in fellowship..............Amen 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

 Today is Democracy Day, the final day to vote. As I sit here and write this I am thinking to myself "Don't be judgmental," but I have seen some things during this election, that as a Christian has me concerned. I have seen and heard people use derogatory and judgmental language to describe someone
and it pains me to see it. Everyone on this Earth is a brother or sister in Christ and to call someone a riddled crack whore without knowing her story, or calling a pregnant 16 year old a slut without knowing her situation, or calling a homeless man sitting on the street corner holding a sign asking for help lazy is wrong and against what Jesus Christ has taught us.  In an era of tolerance, probably one of today's worst reactions is a destructive trend that needs to be put in check. There is a hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears someone down in order to build up yourself. Jesus is not giving us a generalized statement to turn a blind eye or overlook sinful behavior just for the sake of tolerance.
Today His words of warning against judging are even more needed in our angry, critical, hateful world.

 Jesus warned about the danger of pointing out the faults of others. He said people with planks in their eyes should not attempt to remove specks out of other people’s eyes. He challenged His hearers to choose humility rather than hypocrisy by always applying the truth to themselves before noting the faults in others........Amen