Trying To Develop Godly Character? How About Some Integrity?

Have you ever thought about what it means to have Godly character?  What are those characteristics that God expects us to posses as His followers? Today let’s talk about one of those characteristics…integrity. Most of us would simply call this honesty.

Let’s look at Acts, Chapter 5 and the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the story, Ananias decided to lie to God.  He sold a piece of land, brought part of the money to the disciples, and claimed it was the full amount from the land sale.  Peter confronted Ananias on his lie and said this to Ananias, How could you do a thing like this?  You weren’t lying to us but to God.

Now here is the next sentence from this passage in the Bible, As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died.  Each of us should immediately realize the importance of not lying to God. Was there a warning not to do it again? No.  Was there a small punishment? No.  Did Ananias stop to explain his position on the issue? No.  Ananias instantly fell to the floor and died.

If you don’t yet understand the severity of lying to God, take a look at subsequent verses dealing with the wife of Ananias.  Peter confronted Sapphira about her part in the lie concerning the sale of this land.  Peter said, How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord?  The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door and they will carry you out, too.  What’s the next line in the Bible?  Here it is, Instantly, she fell to the floor and died.

How many times have you heard people say something like this, God, if you will just get me out of this situation I promise I will do (fill in the blank).  Let me say that each of us needs to be very careful about promises made to God and to others.  Ananias and Sapphira paid with their lives for lying to God.  God clearly expects integrity and honesty from his followers.

Let me challenge each of us today.  When you make a promise it is just that…a promise.  Situations don’t change your promise, people don’t change your promise, circumstances don’t change your promise.  Honor God and be a person of your word.

So, start developing a list of Godly characteristics that believers should possess.  The first characteristic for your list? Integrity.

Living Life At The End of a Rope

This week I attended a horse show.  This show involved young children and their horses competing in a variety of events.  What really grabbed my attention were not the riding events but rather another type of competition.  There were several events called halter class events where horses performed stunts while being directed by their handlers from the ground.  I watched ten and eleven year old children make their horses trot, go in circles, and even walk backwards…using only a lead rope.  In other words, these children were controlling eleven hundred pound horses with a small rope while walking next to the horses.

As I watched, I wondered why such a big creature like a horse would allow such small children to lead them when the horse could easily just refuse to obey orders and just stand still.  Those horses were so big and the children so small that the horses really could have done anything they wanted to do.  Yet, the horses allowed themselves to be led and controlled by children with ropes.  I can only believe that the horses just don’t realize the power they possess.  They don’t understand that they possess tremendous muscle that would allow them to do just about anything they wanted to do.  Instead, they follow instructions and are shackled only by a tiny piece of rope.

After watching these events, I found myself thinking about believers in Christ and thinking about some parallels to the horse competitions I just observed.  I frequently see people, who claim to be followers of Christ, being led through life by events, people, or circumstances that leave them simply following and responding to things of this world.  Like the horse on the rope being led by a child, these folks don’t realize the power they possess through Christ Jesus.  Rather than exercising the power of Christ, these folks are being led and directed by things of this world even when they possess the very spirit of God that allows them to break free of worldly pressures. As believers we don’t need to be led around following the mandates of today’s culture.  We need to realize the power we possess through Jesus Christ and break free of our rope to become the leaders Christ would ask us to be.

So when you are feeling out of control, helpless, unable to move on your own, and tugged by the ropes of the world, remember what the Bible tells us.  Romans 8:11 says, The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us, Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

This is a very powerful concept for all of us as believers.  We are not designed to be led through life at the end of a rope.  We are meant to show the world the power of Jesus Christ in our lives.  The world is watching to see how believers in Christ live their lives.  Let’s not be the horse with the undiscovered power led by a rope throughout their life. Instead, let’s follow what we see in 2 Timothy 1:7 that says, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Let’s be strong in Jesus Christ and a witness to the world of the power of God!

Please Stop and Ask For Directions…

This week I went to eat at a restaurant out of town.  When I left the restaurant I was certain I knew the way home.  After all, I’m a geographic professional so I looked at my unused GPS and turned my car out of the parking lot.  But late at night, after driving far too long on winding country roads, I realized that I had turned the wrong way out of the restaurant parking lot.  Even though I was certain I knew my way home I didn’t even make the correct turn out of the parking lot.

Almost daily folks who are positive about their spiritual direction in life confront me.  Some folks are positive there are no absolute truths in this world.  In a recent conversation someone displayed their lack of critical thinking when they told me they did not believe any absolute truth existed.  When I asked them if they were sure they replied “absolutely!”  Yes, you read that correctly, these folks were absolutely sure that absolute truth did not exist.

Yet, absolute truth exists all around us.  There are absolute truths in mathematics, music, science, and the list could go on.  If we didn’t believe that these truths existed, why would we spend our time and money to study at colleges and universities?  Our very diplomas signify that we have mastered a variety of absolute truths.

When it comes to issues of spirituality, suddenly the rules change.  Our compartmentalized worldview can accept absolute truths in math and science but when it comes to God we question how truth can possibly exist.  I hear folks frequently question the existence of the God of the Bible, yet I see few, if any, of these folks truly seeking evidence. You see, when it comes to God and absolute truth, the discussions generally revolve around heated opinions. We seldom bring discussions centered on opinions to reasonable conclusions.  Could you imagine courtrooms that simply accepted everyone’s opinion?

So today, I challenge both believers in Christ and non-believers. What evidence would it take to convince you of the existence of the God of the Bible? Begin gathering your evidence. For believers in Christ, it is important to have an answer for your beliefs and the evidence you collect is critical.  I hear many folks say they believe in God because the Bible commands it.  However, what evidence supports the Bible? If you were talking to a non-believer about the Bible, what historical, archeological, or physical evidence would you provide as proof of Biblical truths?

For non-believers you just might be surprised where the evidence takes you. Instead of simply giving an opinion on Biblical and spiritual issues start compiling the evidence for yourself.

Are you looking for a few books to get started?  Try some of these:

The Case for Christ by Lee Stroebel

Is the Bible True…Really? by Josh McDowell

Cold Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospel by J. Warner Wallace.

Remember, you may truly believe you know your way home when it comes to spiritual issues but you may be merrily driving down wrong road.

Death Grip

Last week Toccoa Falls College had the musical artists NewSong on campus.  During their performance they sang a remarkable song titled, Arise My Love.  As you listen to the lyrics of that song there is a very powerful sentence that says this, the grave no longer has a hold on you.  Think about that sentence for a moment…the grave no longer has a hold on you.  This one sentence carries tremendous power and truth for the followers of Christ. We no longer have the shackles of sin or the sting of death hanging over us.

Often we carry our past around with us like shackles, chained to old memories and actions that haunt us and shake our self worth.   May I tell you something?  As a follower of Christ, the grave no longer has a hold on you.  Your past sins have been forgiven, removed and sent as far as the east is from the west.  Live in confidence and enjoy a life filled with the power of Christ.

Perhaps you’re not a follower of Christ and sin still does have a hold on you today.  The Bible tells us that we have all sinned.  If you have never confessed your sins to God and asked for forgiveness, the Bible also makes it very clear that the end result of sin is death.

Here’s the good news.  Christ has already paid the price for our sins on the cross.  He died on the cross for all our sins.  Christ did that so the grave would no longer have a hold on anyone.  All we need to do is admit that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.  The Bible tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

C.S. Lewis says this about death, Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Lewis is right.  There is no longer any sting of death if you are a follower of Christ.  Death is simply the entry point for an eternity with God.

Don’t wait any longer…ask Jesus to be the leader of your life and experience a new life filled with the joy and freedom that come from living for Christ.  Then you can truly say that the grave no longer has a hold on you.

I Remember…

Recently I have been thinking about the faithfulness of God.  There have been things in my life that I have been diligently praying about.  One by one, I have seen God continuously answer my prayers.  Yet, sometimes I move right on to the next thing…asking God now to intervene in my next troubling situation. Sometimes I even begin to forget about the many times God has answered my prayers.

I do believe that God realizes that the human mind is just naturally forgetful.  I am reminded in the fourth chapter of Joshua where God commands Joshua to create a memorial of twelve stones to remember how God helped Joshua and the people of Israel through a particularly difficult time.  In fact, God said this to Joshua, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ In other words, God is saying create a memorial so that you will remember what I did here.

So what about you?  Have you created any memorials just to remember what God has done for you?  The next time God does something powerful in your life, I encourage you to get a small object to commemorate the occasion.  Put it on your desk or a bookshelf. Every time you see it you will remember the power of God in your life and be encouraged.  When someone asks you about the items, you will also have the opportunity to tell them about the power of God and the miracles He has performed in your life.

I suspect in very little time you will have quite a collection of memorials representing the work that God has done in your life.  These memorials will serve as an encouragement to you as you continue to seek God.

Just like Joshua and his descendants, as you look at your collection of memorials you will always be reminded of God’s faithfulness and his deep love for you.

That’s Right…A Coupon For An Abortion

Recently WFTV in Orlando, Florida reported on a story involving the Orlando Women’s Center, an abortion center,  and Dr. James Pendergraft, their lead physician.

In this article it is reported that Pendergraft has lost his medical license on five separate occasions for a variety of behaviors related to the work done at the Orlando Women’s Center.  One of those situations is reported to have involved performing an illegal third-trimester abortion as well as reports of other botched abortions.  Pendergraft reported to WFTV that he is in the process of again regaining his medical license.

When Pendergraft was asked by a WFTV reporter whether he would trust a doctor who had lost his medical license five times he replied, “When you look at why I lost my license, it had nothing to do with anything I did wrong”. However, the State of Florida disagrees. So do the courts that imposed a $36 million dollar malpractice judgment against him. Yet, in spite of not having a valid medical license, Pendergraft says that his clinic is again reopening with six other physicians doing the work.

If you visit the web site for the Orlando Women’s Center you will see that the center is now giving a coupon for $50 off for a Sunday abortion.  That’s right, our culture now gives coupons for abortion.  We treat a life like an oil change…here take this coupon and take a life.

I’m tired of hearing the woman’s choice debate.  The driving force behind much of the abortion issue today is big business.  Abortion centers don’t care about freedom of choice; they want the money.

As followers of Christ what should we remember about the abortion issue?  First, we should want every life to be valued and cherished.  After all, in the first chapter of Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah this, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” You see, God already has plans for folks while they are in the womb.

Second, it’s time to realize what a dirty business the abortion industry really is and remember that abortions rob our world of the precious gift of life. Develop some discernment on the abortion issue and understand that this business cares far more about the money in these women’s wallets than the babies in their mother’s wombs.

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Ridiculous Story.

I recently watched a video by Mark Dice that left me just shaking my head in despair.  Let me set the stage for this video.  Mark was walking along a pier in California checking on people’s knowledge of both American history as well as basic listening skills.  His question to everyone he stopped was this, “Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?” Pretty simple question, right?  Not so fast.

As you watch the video you will hear folks say that we declared our independence from China.  Others thought we declared our independence from Mexico.  Some thought Jesse Ventura signed our Declaration of Independence.  Others thought Jack Lemmon signed it.

When was the Declaration of Independence signed?  Here are some responses: 1974, 1976, 1978, 1762, “18 something”, 1812, and 1842.  One woman said she has no hard feelings against the Mexicans since we have now declared our independence from them on July 4th.

What about listening skills? On the video you can hear Mark say, “When the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776…what date did they sign the Declaration of Independence? The answers ranged from, “I don’t know”, to “19 something” and the list goes on. Even when people hear the truth they don’t recognize it.

It’s no wonder so many folks fall for any story they hear. Political stories? Sure we believe it.  Lectures in the classroom supporting evolution?  Sure.  Why not?  Abortion doesn’t take a life?  We can believe that one too.

The sonnet mounted on the Statue of Liberty reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”. Maybe we should add give us your ridiculous story too.  We believe almost anything.  You see, a lack of knowledge combined with a lack of common sense is catastrophic but so very common.

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs says this, “The simpleton believes every word he hears, but the prudent man looks and considers well where he is going.”

Can we just get a few more folks who don’t believe everything they hear?