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Character, Reputation, and Esteem

July 6th, 2018

Reputation is easier to protect than repair

“Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Character, Reputation, and Esteem.”

Reputation is what people report to others about you. Your reputation is the history of who you have been, the story of where you have been, and the record of who you are becoming. Your reputation opens doors for you or closes doors to you. Reputation is what people believe to be true of you, whether their opinion is accurate or exaggerated. A good reputation is invaluable, when it reflects Godly character. Being reputable is a valued spiritual and social priority that requires time to achieve and careful attention to sustain.

A Godly reputation is only accomplished over a length of time with practiced and predictable consistency of character. But reputation can be quite fragile, easily damaged, or diminished by uncharacteristic behavior. Solomon elevated the value of reputation above riches. “Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NLT. Reputation should be highly valued and also guarded vigilantly.

However, a bad reputation can happen more easily and rapidly than you might imagine. Once assigned to you, a poor reputation can require a lengthy time and much difficulty to repair. Protecting a reputation is easier than repairing one. Remember, reputation can either open or close doors for your potential future. Reliability is important to people, therefore it must be important to you. The Bible is clear: “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones . . if you are untrustworthy . . who will trust you?” Luke 16:10-12 NLT. Reliability is a vital factor of reputation. Opportunities are directly related to past faithfulness.

Exchanging even a moment of your future for a present season of your life is shortsighted. You want it to be true of you as was written of Demetrius, “Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius. We ourselves can say the same for him.” 3 John 12 NLT. My aspiration is as was written of those people of faith and faithfulness, “They were longing for a better country – a Heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,  for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. I want to live in such a manner that my God, family, and friends would have no reason to feel ashamed.

Today I pray for you to live in a manner that is with honor and without reproach.

Christian Communications 2018

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Clarity and Ambiguity

November 10th, 2017

Purity is the spiritual fruit of clarity.

 “Then we will see everything with perfect clarity.”  1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Clarity and Ambiguity.”

We live in a world that lacks moral and spiritual clarity. Presently, our country is reeling from the senseless, murderous tragedy of lives taken on this most recent Sunday morning in a Church not far from where I write these thoughts. In vain, our hearts try to understand what our minds cannot explain. Where clarity lacks, confusion fills the void. Opinions pose as facts, but sometimes they are merely opinions. Inevitably, we find some supposed facts to be in dispute. Opinions are as diverse as the people that hold them. Truth is never ambiguous and not lessened by either those who proclaim or disclaim it.

The world longs for clarity yet there is not much that is perfectly clear. Ambiguity seems the norm. Spiritual ambiguity. Moral ambiguity. Political ambiguity. Ambiguity seems to have become the norm. Where there is no clarity there is no truth. When and where you discover truth, you will find clarity. Absolute truth is found in God’s Word and character. Clarity comes from His truth.

The Apostle Paul addressed his problem and ours. We lack clarity. “Now we see things imperfectly as [looking] in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT. Our knowledge is finite; His is infinite. Our comprehension is flawed; His is perfect. Our understanding is partial; His is complete. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” Romans 11:33 NIV. Isn’t it foolish, or even arrogant, to assume your experience to be unique or your knowledge to be complete?

The more time you invest in God’s Word, and the more you welcome the Holy Spirit to direct your life, and the more you weave God’s Truth into your daily life, the clearer you will become about direction, relationships, values, integrity, purpose, and destiny. Be clear about your salvation; you are forever sealed by the blood of Jesus. Be clear about your victory in Christ; in Him, you are more than a conqueror. Be clear about your purpose; you are here to advance His Kingdom. Be clear about your identity; you are who God says you are. Be clear about eternal life; Jesus prepared a place with Him for all eternity. All other opinions to the contrary are superfluous.

I have found these words to be clarifying and a promise of what is ahead for us, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Prov 4:18 NIV. “When He shall come, we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” Here is God’s goal for you, and should be yours as well. “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV. Clarity about Who God is, what His Word says, and who you are in Christ produces purity of heart and life. Purity is the spiritual fruit of clarity. “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Read 1 John 3:2-3 NIV“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Read 1 John 3:2-3 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to be clear about your destiny and confident in His promises.

Christian Communications 2017

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Affirmation and Expectations

August 19th, 2017

Affirmation is more powerful than expectation. 

 “Look for the best in each other and do your best to bring it out.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 MSG

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Affirmation and Expectations.”

In my observation, a person’s reasonable expectations of others are typically proven to be true, whether for the better or worse. Usually, a child or teen lives up to what is communicated as expected. Of course, there are times that generality may fail to apply, just as happens with adults. But people who look for good in others usually find good. Conversely, people who have lower expectations for others ordinarily find what they’re looking for, as well.

When people truly like people and themselves strive to be their best, they typically assume goodness in others also. This seems supported by the Apostle Paul’s description to Titus, “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.” Titus 1:15 NLT. If you expect people to disappoint, they probably will. Check your own heart first. Sometimes, what you readily see in others may merely be a reflection of your own heart.

Faults ignored in yourself can seem glaring in others. With deliberate exaggeration, Jesus highlighted the folly of ignoring your faults while judging another’s faults. “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye . . when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? . . first, get rid of the log in your own eye, then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42 NLT. Specks and logs. Take care of the worst first.

The Bible provides a clear objective. “Look for the best in each other and always do your best to bring it out . . this is the way that God wants you who live in Christ Jesus to live.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15/18 MSG. Do you consistently look for the best in others? Inclination, interest, attention, and a listening heart are essential relational skills to see the best when others are too preoccupied elsewhere to notice. God asks you to see the good in others that might otherwise be overlooked. You can reinforce that good with your benevolent expectation and sincere affirmation. In children and adults alike, what is affirmed is repeated. God’s grace in another’s life deserves to be affirmed. Affirmation is more powerful than expectation. You may not always get what you expect from others, but you will likely see what you affirm.

Along my spiritual journey, there have been many gracious people who saw things of God in me that I dared not assume for myself. They affirmed those qualities and abilities, and then tirelessly supported their further growth and development. My friend, Don, reminded me of once saying to him years earlier, “Thank you for not letting me be what I would have been without your friendship.” My words were accurate; his expectations and affirmation prompted my desire to be better and encouraged my efforts to do better. I really hope, in some measure, I have been that kind of friend for others.

To my parents, teachers, friends, and especially my remarkable wife and family whose affirmation and companionship make me better, thank you. Consider whose friendship makes you a better person than might have happened without them. Whatever credit accrues to you for character or accomplishments is rightly shared with them. Thank God for them, and be sure to thank them. And do better than tell them; write them so they can read it again and again and be continuously encouraged.

Today, I pray for you to recognize the many contributors to your achievements.

Christian Communications 2017

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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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The Company of Friends

June 7th, 2017

Navigating difficulties requires the support of friends.

“The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Company of Friends.”

Trouble is a common experience. You won’t always cause it. You won’t always enjoy it. But you can and must learn from it. Trouble is never enjoyable, but it can yield a maturity of life and faith that is learned in no other way. Trouble can be faced with faith, not fear. The Bible says, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow.” Read James 1:2-5 NLT.

According to James, there are three elements which develop character and spiritual growth. Trouble – on occasion, everyone experiences troubled times or troubling people. Time – you must exercise patience and endurance to rightly learn from trouble. Truth – Godly perspective brings wisdom. Trouble is something you will have; time is something you must give; truth is something you must learn and in which you must be confident.

Among the things I have learned about trouble, this is most important. Navigating difficulties successfully requires the company and support of friends. Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one . . if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble . .” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT. Value those friends who will accompany you in your struggles and sorrows. Everyone needs someone alongside on their journey.

When you face troubled times or troubling people, which the Bible calls, “tribulation and persecution,” there are two questions your soul ponders about friendship. Are you there for me? And, do you care for me? Prize the gift of those friends who offer their company and compassion when you struggle most. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need . . As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 17:17/27:18 NLT.

Jesus taught a simple yet profound truth, “Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the Law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NLT. Be that kind of friend to others. My Dad taught me a valuable lesson about the responsibility and mutuality of friendship. By his words and example, he taught me that, “You will have the kind of friends that you choose to be for others.”

I have learned the irreplaceable value of friendships. Friendship is a treasure not available for purchase or barter, and a treasure nothing else can replace. I am grateful for friends who have invited me to share their lives and inspired me to live the best version of God’s plan for my life.

Fortunately, even when no one else can be there for you – when they cannot, or will not – God is there! “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10 NIV. Though the dearest of friends may not be able to be near, God can and will be there for you always. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. Therefore, I will not fear . .” Psalm 46:1-2 NIV. Though any circumstance and emotion may suggest differently, God is ever present. Always cares. Always there. “For God Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be confident in God and His care for you.

Christian Communications 2017-6810

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