We have only our integrity…

We have only our integrity…

Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the Master’s joy. In the end, all we have is our integrity. We will not have silver, or gold, not even sacks of copper coins. We will not have family, friends, property, nor will we have good works, we will have only our integrity.

Integrity:
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.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.

That definition is from my Dictionary.com app on my phone. Integrity is a difficult thing to maintain. Actually, it is pretty near impossible in our own life unless we adhere to a stricter teaching. It is arguably universally recognized that Jesus was a man of integrity. i indeed believe it, of course, i also believe Him to be the manifested presence of God in human form…there’s a blog idea! Anyway, the reason now that i want to look at Jesus, there are so many reasons too, is His integrity.

When faced with temptation He met it not on His own merit or ability but by a strict teaching. Let us look together at His recorded early temptations found in Matthew 4. i encourage you to read the account found in the first 11 verses of Matthew 4. However, i will summarize it here.

Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. The devil tempted Him with the idea of food because Jesus had been fasting, Jesus’ response, “It’s written, people won’t live only by bread but by every word spoken by God.” Was it a sin to eat? No, absolutely not, could Jesus do what the devil asked of Him? Absolutely Yes! What about the second? Satan said to Jesus, throw yourself off this high place and angels will catch you. Jesus responded, “Again it’s written, don’t test the Lord Your God.”

Finally, the devil took Jesus to a point and told Him all would be His if He bowed and worshiped him. Jesus replied, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, you will worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.” With the exception of the third temptation, these are not deal breakers…one could even argue the last one isn’t either. Many of us worship more than God daily, whether it is money, relationships, carriers, etc.

The point here is simply that in order to maintain integrity we must filter all things, good or bad, down to the intent of the heart, through Scripture in order to keep a disciplined life, built on integrity. The first, food, Jesus knew He would be taken care of, what mattered at that moment was His integrity not whether He ate. The second, Jesus knew angels would catch Him, but what mattered was His integrity not whether He proved a point. The third, Jesus knew the redemption road was going to be long and painful. The struggle was real and later revealed itself in the garden when Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me…”

Yet, He (Jesus) knew what mattered at that moment wasn’t the quickest route to success but His integrity to God’s Word, His Law, His relationship with the Father. It is our integrity that lasts, and in a day and age where integrity is a lost art, my prayer for us is that we will return to a patterned life of integrity.

Integrity:
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.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.

The Adventure of a Lifetime!

The Adventure of a Lifetime!

Once when i was eight years old, i went exploring a construction site. A soon to be apartment building made for a great playground in the eyes of my friends and i. Framed in staircases, partially framed walls, and planks across open spaces in the floor made for a grand adventure. Albeit, a dangerous and illegal one. Our mission, to avoid the one lone security guard patrolling the site which included several separate buildings.

Many spend most of their lives doing what my friends and i did at eight. They feel as if they are living a life of adventure because the adrenaline is pumping through their veins. What they don’t realize, often until it’s too late, is they are in constant peril. The danger of a wrong step could lead to severe injury or even death and of course, there is the constant looking over your shoulder in fear of getting caught.

The world would have you think that being a Christian is boring. That life in Christ is the opposite of adventure. However, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. There are countries where being a Christian is illegal, and you could be thrown in prison or killed. Although we live in a relatively safe environment to be a Christian, there is still some great adventure to be had! Just take a look at some of these stories…

  • Rachel from the Axiom has a great story of when she was just starting to get back into the church when she had a confrontation with a girl she had fought in the past. This girl wanted a “rematch” however, Rachel in her now living for Jesus refused to fight. Several years later the girl saw her in church and gave her a big hug, “That day changed my life!” she said.
  • Some local Missionaries the LaGatta’s, were in El Salvador when they were kidnapped at gunpoint, driven to the desert and left. They survived with not only a great story of faith but a memory of great adventure.
  • Then there is this: 9 Year Old Willie Myrick <<< Click the link it’s awesome!
These remind me of some stories found in the greatest adventure story ever written…
  • Acts 9:23-25 tells the part of the story (read below) of Saul/Paul’s escape after many were seeking to kill him.  “After this had gone on quite a long time, some Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul got wind of it. They were watching the city gates around the clock so they could kill him. Then one night the disciples engineered his escape by lowering him over the wall in a basket.”
  • Acts 16:25-26 a story about an earthquake and a none prison break that lead to the jailer coming to know Jesus with his whole family. “Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.”
  • John 11:1-44 shares the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It’s insane! Here is part of it:”Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.

    Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

If you have accepted Jesus and consider yourself a follower of His, a disciple, rest assured…you are on the adventure of a lifetime!

You are LOVED,
cj

Act Like It

Act Like It

Colossians 3:1 in the Message paraphrase says, roughly, if you are serious about this new life in Christ, act like it! In Ephesians 4:1 in the NLT is says, “I, (Paul) beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Paul the author of both of these letters has a central theme, Jesus is to be taken seriously and our lives should reflect our desire to please Him.

We are called to lead with a “quiet strength”. As defined it is perseverance, tenacity, get up, dust yourself off and keep going, kind of attitude. Its a leading by example. Colossians 3:12-17 gives legs to this idea and breaks down putting on Christ, with these as bench marks; Compassion, Kindness, Humility, quiet strength and discipline. It goes on to mention forgiveness, quick and complete forgiveness, as quickly and completely as you have been forgiven.

These areas are not suggestions, if we are serious about living out our faith, living for Jesus, we need to act like it. We need to begin to allow Jesus to work in and through us to develop these characteristics within us. If we as the church are unable to live these out how can we expect a fallen world to do it? We are the Mantle bearers, the standard bearers, of Christ. We are the ambassador’s of Christ, the building of the church should be the consulate, the “safe place” the lost and the hurting, the broken and confused, come to in their hour of need…but if they see us out in the world and we are no different why would they seek refuge from us?

…lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called BY God. And if you are to be serious about this new life in Christ, ACT LIKE IT.

You are Loved,
cj

Bizarro Universe

Bizarro Universe

Sitting in a chair thirty thousand feet (30,000ft) in the air being served food (gingerbread cookies) and beverage (coffee black) is by far one of the most amazing advances in human technology. Some others, the phone that is in your hand or tablet or iPad that you are reading this from…another technically advanced achievement of mankind (humankind for my socially liberal or progressive friends).  That device and the information it contains, the things that it can do, once filled an entire room and even then only did 1/1000 of what your phone can do now (it takes and sends pictures and videos, not even kidding).

i recently purchased a bluetooth headset for my phone for this trip i am currently on (Alaska bound for a visit with my boys and some hockey). i turned it on, hit connect and that was it…no programing, no software downloads, no app required, just turned it on. Soon after i was listening to the music stored on my phone from another music source that basically has every song you can think of…which means i had endless possibility of music choice. While listening to my music a call came through, i was alerted by a beep, i clicked a button and talked through my wireless bluetooth headset that look like regular earbuds (my phone was in my pocket). The call concluded, my music resumed, i grabbed my phone from my pocket, clicked over to my news app and began reading a news story (related to the most recent election) from my phone that was still streaming music to my wireless bluetooth headset.  Did i mention i am writing this from 30,000ft thats thirty thousand feet in the air!

Shortly after takeoff i looked out my window, i have a window seat, and by the way, was given a free upgrade on this leg of my journey. It might have something to due with the fact that i wore my Skywest jacket…but neither i nor they mentioned it. However, this happens to be a flight operated by Skywest for Delta. Anyway, i looked out my window a bit ago and caught the glimpse of another plane flying in the opposite direction of the one i am traveling on. i couldn’t help but wonder about the passengers on that plane, where was it going and was there someone like me on that plane headed in the other direction? Like maybe my doppelgänger, you know my alternate universe twin, like bizarro superman or for my Seinfeld friends bizarro Jerry? Those people along with my possible doppelgänger traveling to who knows where for who knows what except them of course; i am left to wonder as they are for us on this plane, i wonder if anyone on that plane even saw us? Perhaps, bizarro cj.

This brings me to this question, have you ever wondered if you are the best version of yourself? We all have special quirks that make us who we are so i am not suggesting in anyway that our individuality is bad…but are we the best version of ourselves? Can we improve on aspects of our life to make us better humans? There is a line in a movie, As Good as it Gets, where the main character says to the leading lady, “You make me want to be a better man.” Of course she is flattered by his comment. That’s a movie however, the idea is still there; are their things, people, ideas, that make you want to be a better person? And if so what does that “better” version of you look like…more profoundly, how do we get to that “better” version of ourselves? In the bizarro world the character is the opposite of the other, so if one is good the other is bad. For example, Bizarro Superman is a villain because of course Superman is a hero. Which version of you, are you?

Unlike the bizarro universe, we are not stuck being any version of ourselves that we don’t want to be. In fact because of Jesus we are able, through His transforming power, to become better people. Paul writes to the Ephesians in Chapter 2 the following:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.”

There is the answer to the new life. Jesus in us because of God’s great mercy and love. Paul writes to the Corinthians in his second letter the following:

5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

New life. We no longer need to settle for who we once were because we are bing made new in Christ. We need only to allow Him to do what He wishes in us to make us more and more into His image. That we might carry the light into dark places in our world. We can even enter the bizarro universe and shed light there too!

you are loved,

cj