Character and Integrity

May 31, 2016 at 10:21 am | Posted in character and integrity | 1 Comment
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Three days ago (May 28, 2016) The Deep End surpassed its old record for number of views in one day by a huge number. I suspect this had to do with Memorial Day weekend, and the post entitled “What Will You be Remembering this Memorial Day?” and the category Biblical Remembering, which seemed to be the source of most of the activity. In honor of the occasion, I wanted to recap another popular category.

Several years ago, there was an upheaval in the youth ministry department (an all-too-common occurrence in my experience) at the local church where I attended and served. Being suddenly without a youth leader, the pastor asked if I could fill in on Wednesday nights teaching the youth group (consisting of junior high and high school students). Youth group ministry is my least favorite ministry in church. I would prefer if kids attended “big church” with their parents or other adults, but I have been consistently overruled in this area. Also, most of the kids who attended this particular church came on their own, without parents or guardians, or were dropped off by adults who didn’t stay for the service themselves.

So I agreed to help out for a six-week period until a new youth leader could be found. The week before I started, youth group attendance had been around 12 – 15. By the time the six weeks was over, we had a high attendance of 29 and were averaging around 25. How did I get the class to grow numerically? By wacky games? Pizza parties? Showing videos? Acting silly? Growing weird facial hair, wearing skinny jeans, moussing up my hair, and getting into hip-hop? Nope. What I did was pray a lot about it and call all the kids’ parents who brought them on Sunday mornings but not Wednesday nights, and challenged them to bring them on Wednesday nights. I’m about as personable and friendly as a stinky mop, and my phone manners are awkward and clumsy. So, obviously, the Lord is the One Who increased the attendance, not me, but I’m grateful He allowed me to have a part in it.

The series of lessons I taught during those six weeks focused on the character and integrity of various people in the Bible. There seemed to be a change in behavior and some spiritual growth among the kids during that time, but only the Lord knows if it was real or lasting. I pray that it was. Below are links to the lessons:

Part One (introduction and definitions of character and integrity; illustration: Nerf football vs. NFL football) *
Part Two (David; illustration: Zip-lock bag vs. bird cage)
Part Three (Mary)
Part Four (Daniel; illustration: steel ball vs. Play-Doh)
Part Five (Jephthah’s daughter)
Part Six (Jesus; illustration: a straight wall vs. a crooked wall)

* most-viewed post in series

A Fly in the Ointment

November 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Ecclesiastes | 8 Comments
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Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

Ecclesiastes 10:1

The “apothecary” in this verse is what we would call a perfume-maker or possibly even a pharmacist. Ointment was used in Bible times for ceremonial anointing, perfume, and even medicinal salve at times. The popular expression, “a fly in the ointment,” comes from this verse, and it means a hidden defect or flaw in something that otherwise would be beneficial. Sometimes, just a tiny little mistake can cause a great deal of harm.

Can you imagine spending days or weeks perfecting the perfect concoction of spices, herbs, and oils, only to have the whole batch give off a disgusting odor because a miniscule, unobserved fly had landed in it and started to decompose? That’s what a little sinful foolishness can do to your testimony. Trust, honor, integrity, and character – and especially a reputation for wisdom – are things that are built up and cultivated slowly over time. However, they can be lost in an instant. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts, minds, eyes, and ears, and let’s keep our Bibles poised like holy flyswatters, always on alert for the tell-tale buzz of temptation.


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