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Posts Tagged ‘compromise’

Purposeful

November 13th, 2013

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.”  Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “purposeful.”

Life will present situations confronting you with decisions which can impact and shape your future, for better or worse. Life is simpler when you predetermine what options are acceptable or unacceptable to you. Wise decisions are rarely made in the emotions of a challenging circumstance. Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy. There are issues of integrity, honesty, and morality that are best settled well before they are pressured by expediency.

After the siege and subsequent defeat of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, along with most of the best and brightest of his nation, were taken as captives to Babylon. See 2 Kings 24:10-16. Everyone has heard of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” There is much about prospering in adverse circumstances that can be learned from Daniel. There were subtle yet more dangerous things than lions that Daniel would face in Babylon. Daniel prospered without compromising either his faith or personal integrity. How did this young Israelite, taken captive in his youth, become a trusted counselor and confidant to multiple rulers of Babylon? Read Daniel 1:3-7 NKJV.

(1) Daniel experienced displacement – separated forcibly from every place familiar and everyone supportive. Nebuchadnezzar instructed, ”Bring young men . . who had ability to serve in the King’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” Vs. 3-4. Your sense of place and person are significant. The intent was clear – eradication of Daniel’s history and radical re-education of his beliefs and behavior. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV/Romans 8:28-29 NIV. The issue is influence; stay connected to the people and places you know best and trust most. Wise decisions are best made in good company.

(2) Daniel refused to modify his appetites – provided with tastes and extravagance he could not provide himself. “And the King appointed for them a daily provision of the King’s delicacies . . and three years of training, so that . . they might serve the King.” Vs. 5/9-16. The issue is dependence; be wary of strong desires independent of Godly provision. The enemy will promise you what you don’t have; only later do you discover it was really what you don’t need.

(3) Daniel resisted a compromised identity – his name, connecting him to his family and religious heritage, was changed from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Vs. 6-7. The intent was diabolical, to alter his security in who he had been and establish a Babylonian identity. The issue is allegiance; do not be confused about your identity and destiny in Christ.

Faced with pressures to conform greater than will likely confront you or I, Daniel held a firm conviction, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself . .” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. Compromise is never an acceptable option. See 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV. To succeed in your spiritual life, you have be purposeful. When you “purpose in your heart not to defile [yourself],” every other decision becomes simpler. As a teen, I learned to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” There is nothing behind – or ahead of me – that I desire more than Jesus.

My prayer for you today is that your heart will be set fully on pleasing God.

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Inheritance and Heritage

July 10th, 2013

“An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV

Whatever your net worth, live that your Godly influence blesses generations.

My thoughts and comments today are about “inheritance and heritage.”

Inheritance first suggests the transfer of property and wealth from one generation to the next, yet it can be so much more. My Dad died in a highway accident just forty-four years old. My Dad, a pastor, had married Gayle and me just three weeks earlier. I was twenty-one, a senior in college. He left a modest home with a mortgage, a negligible bank balance, and a $4,000 life insurance policy.

Yet, the heritage he left me is of incalculable worth, even though not in property and wealth. Those are certainly desirable, a beneficial boost to a new generation when given wisely to them and used wisely by them. But there are less tangible things as important as property and wealth seem to be – such as personal example, core beliefs, priority of family and friendships, character, convictions, gratitude, Godly faith, moral values, fidelity, work ethic, family priorities, wise money management, generosity, and integrity.

Still today, my Dad’s words, wisdom, and example shape my personal, marital, relational, and ministry life. My friend, Carlos, often reminds me how frequently I quote my Dad’s words about practical areas of life and faith, even fifty years after his death.

The Bible says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22 NKJV. One’s lifetime should be viewed through the lens of Godly generations. With six grandchildren and our first great-granddaughter, Kaylee Grace, Solomon’s words are meaningful to Gayle and me. When Solomon referenced, “a good man,” I think the inheritance he would leave included values and convictions more intrinsic to the man himself than his material wealth. I think I might distinguish the first as, “heritage,” differentiating the latter as, “inheritance.” Whatever your final net worth, substantial or minimal, live that your Godly influence extends to and blesses generations.

Ahab, a wicked king, envied a vineyard adjoining his palace, which belonged to Naboth. Ahab offered Naboth a even better vineyard or a just price. Read 1 Kings 21. There is something noble and Godly about Naboth’s response, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” 1 Kings 21:3 NIV. Property and price were not the issue for him; honoring a sacred trust was. Naboth had received more than property; his vineyard was both an inheritance to enjoy and a heritage to protect. Protect the heritage you’ve been given and the one you will leave for those who follow. Every compromise of convictions steals something from the next generation.

What your “children and children’s children” value will reflect what you have consistently lived before them.I learned from my Dad this truth, “In his great mercy [Christ] has given us new birth . . into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV. I agree with King David; “Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance . . The [boundary] lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; [Surely], I have a good inheritance.” Psalms 16:5-6 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you have the courage of your convictions.

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Put Your foot Down

February 28th, 2012

“Put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Joshua 10:24 NIV

Spiritual integrity requires personal clarity.”

My thoughts and comments today are, “put your foot down.”

There are many idioms of speech taken for granted and used everyday. An idiom is defined as “a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted by their normal usage.” My title today is one of those idioms of speech: “to put your foot down.” One has to be “fast on your feet” to keep up with what’s going on around you. You have to “stand on your own two feet” rather than always depending on others to do things for you. You may be advised to “put your feet up” when requiring rest. You “put your best foot forward” when an opportunity requires a good first impression. A person “gets off on the wrong foot” when disappointing another’s expectation. To have “your feet planted firmly on the ground” signifies you are solid and reliable. A person who “has cold feet” has doubts and reservations that have changed their mind. And you certainly do not want to be described as having “one foot in the grave.”

What’s all that about? Growing up, I heard a phrase frequently used to describe a person who would “put their foot down.” Trust me; my Dad, Mom, and Grandma knew how to do that well. Doing so is properly defined as “making an assertion strongly.” There are situations in which you must learn to “put your foot down.” In business relationships, an employer or person in authority has to know when and how to put their foot down for the sake of their business. There will be times when a marriage or family needs someone to put their foot down, in a right way of doing so, for the safety of a child or teen, or for the sake of their relationship. In friendships, occasions arise when you can’t go along with what’s happening – such as “just say no to drugs or sex” or “friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” You have to put your foot down!

Consider with me a spiritual application of the practice of “putting your foot down.” An interesting narrative is told of an incident during Joshua and Israel’s conquest of Canaan. Read Joshua 10:1-16 NLT. Five kings of the Amorites had enjoined battle with Israel. When Joshua surprised their armies, the five kings hid in a cave, hoping to escape the same fate as their fleeing armies. After the battle, Joshua instructed, “’Bring those five kings to me’ . . and said to the army commanders . . ‘Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.’” See Joshua 10:22-27 NIV. With a foot on their necks, they were powerless to resist. The kings knew instinctively that their fate was certain and sealed; they were buried in the same cave in which they tried to hide. No mercy was shown; no exception made.

In your spiritual life and growth, recognize situations when you have to be assertive about non-negotiables. Spiritual integrity requires personal clarity. People or things will press you to compromise your convictions. Temptations will entice you to make unwise exceptions. Disagreements will feel personal. Those and other feelings – jealousies, unforgiveness, discouragement, doubts, bitterness, and fears – are things you cannot successfully indulge. What “kings” threaten your victory in Christ? Do not spare them; overcome them! Luke 10:19 NLT. Put your foot down with finality where you need to make “a spiritual assertion strongly.” God’s power is in your act of doing so. Read Joshua 10:25-27 NLT/Psalm 91:11-13 NIV/Romans 16:20 NIV.

My prayer for you today is: be clear about spiritual decisions and directions for your life.

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Copy or Original?

November 22nd, 2011

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.” Romans 12:2 NLT

“Conformity to this world is the gradual sale of one’s soul by installments.”

My thoughts today ask are you a “copy or original?”

Chameleons are interesting. There are 150 known species and many facts unique to them. Probably the most well known fact is the ability of some species to change their color for social communication or as camouflage for survival. Those species adapt their color to blend with their surroundings, reducing their visibility for cover as a predator or for their safety from a predator. Hence, some people are described as “like a chameleon,” definitely not a compliment.

Here’s the Bible’s advice: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:2 NLT. Read that slowly. When you “let God transform you . . by changing the way you think,” only then will you truly discover who you are and, ”what God wants you to do.” God’s will is elusive when you conform yourself to any other will or pleasure.

Conformity evidences that you: embrace a lesser god; display a diminished identity; accept a smaller future; and have compromised your potential. This is the problem. If you don’t have a proper model for who you are and can be, then you will choose companions of convenience rather than example. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning . .” 1 Corinthians 15:34 NIV.

While busy copying someone else – to fit in, or be popular or accepted by the crowd – you gradually lose any sense of who you are, your uniqueness disappearing little by little. Be careful; when you become a copy of others you compromise your future, selling your soul on installments. Be the original God made you to be. This world – with its behavior and customs – is not your home and neither will it be your friend, for . . “your citizenship is in Heaven . . for this world in its present form is passing away.” See Philippians 3:17-21 NKJV/1 Corinthians 7:31 NIV. You are an original, custom designed by God with no one else exactly like you. Be a priceless original, not a cheap copy.

Jesus is your Example! “For the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose . . to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Romans 8:28-30 NIV. Spiritual disciplines are transformative – God’s Word, worship, prayer, Christian fellowship, obedience, Bible meditation, or any spiritual exercise has eternal influence. “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV. Choose to be a little more like Jesus everyday; with His help and grace that is do-able.

My prayer for you today is that you are not tempted to be other than as God made you.

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Convictions

September 7th, 2011

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm, let nothing move you.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

“The world that surrounds and calls to you has no moral compass, no true north.”

My thoughts today are about “convictions.”

There seems to be a frightening lack of real convictions. A conviction is defined as, “a firm and strong belief.” Too often, too many have traded conviction for convenience. They believe one thing, at least until they change their mind. Beliefs are negotiable, open to re-interpretation as the moment or personal advantage suits.

Politicians lead only after checking the polls of public opinion. Elected officials worry more about re-election than about governing. Business executives compromise moral values for a boosted stock price or inflating the value of their own shares. Manufacturers may cheapen their products durability or safety for the sake of their company’s bottom line.

Entertainers can sell their soul for celebrity and wealth. A spouse can violate the sanctity of their heart and marriage for a moment of foolish pleasure. A teen will violate a parent’s trust to gain the fleeting approval of a wrong crowd. Such behavior is the result of people who lack personal conviction. Absolutes are unpopular; consensus is king. Truth is relative; values are flexible. Right and wrong are debatable. Everyday there is evidence that that “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything!” Alexander Hamilton, 1757-1804. Life is best when you know clearly what you stand for.

A compass always points to true north. You can trust it; it is reliable. The world and culture has no moral compass, no true north. Peter’s call to the crowd gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost is needed even more today, “strongly urging . . save yourselves from this generation that has gone astray!” Acts 2:40 NLT. Don’t forget who you, what you are about, and where you are going. When you do, you lose your way and ultimately lose yourself.

You need to determine what is non-negotiable for you, what you will not compromise, what you will not adjust. Do not let the crowd set the price for your soul. Do not permit the culture around you – its fads, fashions, or fascinations (See 1 Corinthians 7:31) – to dictate your lifestyle, pursuits, and priorities. You cannot know who you really are, or who you are meant to be in Christ, until you firmly fix your bottom line morally and spiritually. For the Christ-follower, such a decision is not left to whim or private interpretation. Isaiah promised “There will be a voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it . . where a man, though a fool, will not err therein.” Isaiah 30:21/35:8.

For today’s verse, I still prefer the old English phrasing: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV. Standing fast; standing firm, standing fruitful in the work of the Lord. A life lived that way will never be lived in vain. That’s how I want my life to be; that’s how I pray your life will be! My advice is: “Having done everything to stand, stand firm therefore . . with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-18. God’s Word firmly in your heart is where it all begins.

My prayer for you is that you will live with clear and firm conviction of God’s righteousness.

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