Character and Integrity

May 31, 2016 at 10:21 am | Posted in character and integrity | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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

The S.H.A.R.K. Principle (lesson 2)

April 3, 2014 at 10:20 am | Posted in The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

S.atan
H.ates

A.ll
R.
K.

Satan is a lot of things. He’s a trickster. He’s a conniver. He’s a liar. He’s a deceiver. But he’s not a compromiser. When he is against something – and make no mistake about it, he is against the truth – he is against it all the way. He hates all integrity.

God allowed Satan to take away all of Job’s possessions and family (except his wife) because Satan said that Job only served God for God’s material blessings. When that didn’t work Satan challenged Job’s integrity over the issue of Job’s health. God has not promised you riches or physical health, but Satan would love for you to blame God and curse him when you lose those things. This didn’t work on Job, either, though.

And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

Job 2:3-4

Job was a man of integrity. He was whole – wholly devoted to God. Satan wants you to have a divided heart, because you can’t serve two masters. If he can get you divided, he knows he’s won.

He hates all integrity, and he hates all righteousness.

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

II Thessalonians 2:9-10

Satan knows that you can’t do anything truly righteous apart from God’s power. He will use his own power to imitate God’s power, and he can do supernatural signs and wonders – but they are lying wonders. He’s a copycat. He can’t create. You can’t be saved apart from the true righteousness, and Satan hates truth and righteousness.

He hates all integrity. He hates all righteousness. He hates all humility.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

Luke 4:5-6

If Jesus had agreed to bypass the Cross in exchange for Satan’s version of glory, then God would have been robbed of glory. Suffering for God glorifies God. Humiliation in this world for the cause of Christ glorifies God in eternity. I am reminded of the prayer associated with Zinzendorf and the Moravians: “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering!”

Satan loves pride and therefore he hates humility. He hates all the ways of the Lord.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

Acts 13:8-10

The ways of the Lord are honest and open and upright. Christians are supposed to love without dissimulation. Satan’s ways are subtlety and mischief: bait and switch. They may look good and pragmatic, but they are really perversions. Beware of those who would trick you into coming to church by appealing to fleshly desires, or who would trick you into a false profession of faith for the sake of appearance. God’s way is truth. Satan hates God’s way.

Next time we’ll continue to look at what Satan hates.

S.atan
H.ates
A.ll
R.
K.

A Fly in the Ointment

November 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Ecclesiastes | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Working Like a Slave

October 22, 2010 at 8:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The early Christian church developed in a culture of Greek and Roman influences. Among the ideals of this culture, hard work was thought to be the bane of servants, not a sign of nobility.

One of the greatest marks of affluence among Roman citizens was the ownership of slaves. Therefore, among the first Christians, many of whom were far from wealthy, there were a large number who were slaves.

When a legal slave received the spiritual freedom of Christianity, how was he to relate to his earthly master? The answer, which came from the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, to the church at Ephesus, was:

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

Ephesians 6:5-7

Slaves were to relate to their earthly masters in much the same way they were to relate to their Heavenly Master. This principle applies to Christians today who work for an earthly employer. When Christians do the work of the Lord they must have the right attitude and motivation in their heart, for the Lord can read our minds. When a Christian works hard for an earthly employer, with a humble heart, even when no one else is watching, he or she has this promise from the Lord:

Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Ephesians 6:8


Entries and comments feeds.