The power of integrity and taking a stand

Greg Laurie contrasts behavior of Moses with brother Aaron

Awhile back I came across an interesting headline in Forbes magazine: “Success Will Come and Go, but Integrity Is Forever.” The article pointed out that building integrity takes years, but it only takes seconds to lose. How true.

Billionaire Warren Buffett says that when you’re looking for someone to hire, you should look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. Then he adds, “But the most important is integrity, because if they don’t have that, the other two qualities, intelligence and energy, are going to kill you.”

Moses had integrity. The Bible describes him as “Moses the man of God” (Deuteronomy 33:1 NKJV). And when Moses the man of God temporarily left the scene, it was complete chaos. He left his brother, Aaron, in charge of the Israelites while he went up to Mount Sinai to receive the commandments.

But while Moses was away, the people went to Aaron and basically said, “Hey, you know what? We need something we can worship.”

So Aaron told them, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me” (Exodus 32:2 NLT). Then Aaron took all of the gold, melted it, and formed it into the shape of a calf.

When the people saw it, they said, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (verse 8 NLT).

Meanwhile, Moses was up on the mountain. And when he came down and saw what they were doing, he said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?” (verse 21 NLT).

So why were the people worshiping a golden calf? They came from Egypt, and Egypt essentially was idol central. They had all kinds of images they worshiped, and the people were used to this sort of thing. So they reverted to it.

We see from this story that one man, Moses, lived a godly life and influenced millions of people. On the other hand, one man, Aaron, lived a compromised life and had a horrible influence on others.

Not only that, but Aaron lied. He said to Moses, “You yourself know how evil these people are. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has gold jewelry, take it off.’ When they brought it to me, I simply threw it into the fire – and out came this calf!” (verses 22–24 NLT).

George Washington said that it’s better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

Aaron initiated this. He was responsible, but he didn’t take responsibility for his actions. It was on his watch that he helped the people commit idolatry. He should have stopped them cold and refused.

And to make matters worse, he wrapped it in religious jargon to do away with the guilt. He said, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” (verse 5 NLT).

This still happens. People will make sure they carry out a token spiritual action like giving thanks before a meal, but then they’ll go commit a gross sin. God doesn’t want to hear their grace at mealtime. Rather, God wants them to repent.

We find a fascinating passage in the Old Testament book of Amos, where God says, “Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living” (5:23 NLT).

Did you know there can come a point when you’re singing praises to the Lord and God effectively says, “Stop already! I don’t want to hear it. Your lifestyle contradicts what you’re singing. What you’re doing is offensive to me”?

That’s what was happening when the Israelites presented a burnt offering and worshiped the golden calf. God was saying, “I don’t want your burnt offering. I don’t want you to worship false gods. I want you to love me with all your heart.”

What a contrast Moses and Aaron were. Moses set an example that the people could follow, while Aaron set a bad example. Moses was known for his decisiveness, conviction and doing what was right. Aaron, on the other hand, was known for his indecisiveness, weak will and desire to fit in.

You see, Aaron didn’t want to offend anyone. In the same way, sometimes we’re afraid to make a stand because we don’t want to offend.

Don’t do that. Make a stand. Do what is right, not what is easy. In fact, sometimes when you do what is right, it’s very hard.

A man or woman of integrity does the right thing whether or not someone is watching. When Aaron was with Moses, he was “godly.” And when he wasn’t with Moses, he was pretty ungodly. He gave in, and he led the people in their sin.

Sometimes we’re the same way. When we’re around strong believers, we’re strong – kind of. But the moment we’re away from them, we crumble.

Find strong Christians to be around. And in time, you need to be that strong believer yourself.

The highest compliment we can pay is to describe someone as a man or woman of God. May that be said of us, not just by casual acquaintances, but by our family and close friends, by those who know us well.

“I am only one, but I am one,” said Edward Everett Hale. “I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

Make your stand for what is right, and God will bless you for it.

 

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‘Grinch’ group bullies elementary school into canceling live Nativity

Judge: Artistic performances don’t ‘establish’ a religion

December 11, 2019

A live Nativity scene in Stuart, Florida (Photo by Joe Kovacs, used with permission)

A “grinch” organization that flexes its influence each year during the holiday season, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, has “bullied” a school district in Oklahoma into canceling a live Nativity scene that had been part of the school’s annual Christmas celebration.

Liberty Counsel said it’s prepared to represent the school if officials decide they want to restore the holiday display.

LC said FFRF not only was wrong to insist such displays aren’t allowed, it mischaracterized a court ruling on the dispute.

FFRF wrote to Supt. Bret Towne of Edmond Public Schools in Edmond, Oklahoma, declaring “the Chisholm Elementary School Christmas program may not include a live Nativity scene in the performance.”

Liberty Counsel, which has handled many such disputes, said that while FFRF cited a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the atheist organization failed “to accurately describe” the decision.

“The 7th Circuit simply did not make the sweeping ruling claimed by FFRF. FFRF has once again selectively related what actually happened in a suit, in order to frighten a school district into compliance,” Liberty Counsel explained.

The ruling stated clearly, “We are not prepared to say that a nativity scene in a school performance automatically constitutes an Establishment Clause violation.”

FFRF had said, “While a public school can hold holiday concerts, religious performances and instruction that emphasize the religious aspects of a holiday are prohibited.”

It continued, “Please note that including a live nativity performance in a school’s holiday concert remains illegal even if participation in the nativity scene is ‘voluntary.'”

FFRF cited a previous dispute in which it wanted to ban a 20-minute Nativity within a program that covered about 90 minutes.

The appeals court said: “The district court found that the Christmas Spectacular program. … A program in which cultural, pedagogical, and entertainment value took center stage – did not violate the Establishment Clause.

One judge wrote: “It is not sound, as a matter of history or constitutional text, to say that a unit of state or local government ‘establishes’ a religion through an artistic performance that favorable depicts one or more aspects of that religion’s theology or iconography. [The school] would not violate the Constitution by performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor or Handel’s Mesiah, although both are deeply religious works and run far longer than the nativity portion of the ‘Christmas Spectacular.’ Performing a work of art does not establish that work, or its composer, as the state song or the state composer; no more does it establish a state religion.”

“Liberty Counsel therefore stands ready, along with our affiliate attorneys in Oklahoma, to provide assistance at no charge to Edmond Public Schools, if the district desires to resume a live Nativity in a school Christmas program,” the organization promised.

 

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How you Can Become a Better Person Starting Now

Can you Really Change?

Most people wonder if it’s possible to become a better person after maturity. The answer is a resounding yes. There’s actually room for change at every stage of our life. With a willing spirit, you can transform your personality. Once you figure out the best and easiest approach to take, you can decide the most important personal aspects to work on. Taking into account the best interest of others and your well being, below are some of the most important things you’ll need to work on, in order to make the changes.

Photo by Freshh Connection on unsplash

Help Others:

Good people support and encourage others to do and become their best selves. I believe one of the greatest responsibilities we have is to support ourselves and others to live as close to their unique potential as possible. Because everything we say and do has a negative or positive influence on others. We should always take into consideration the words we speak to and about others.

How you can show Support?

  • Have some faith in others.
  • Hold high expectations.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be honest.
  • Share yourself.
  • Set the best example.
  • Challenge them.
  • Be mindful of your questions.
  • Invest your time in them.
  • Acknowledge them.

Let go of Anger:

Your relationships can create a haven from stress as well as help you become a better person. But if you walk away from unresolved conflicts, they can become a significant source of stress. Let’s face it, conflicts are common in our society. They happen with our families, neighbors, friends or colleagues. You have to face them in the right manner and come up with a fair solution. The best way to improve in this area is to learn conflict resolution strategies. Let’s take a look at 5 of this tools that are more effective:

Conflict Resolution Strategies:

  • Recognize that all of us have biased fairness perception.
  • Avoid escalating tensions with threats and provocative move
  • Overcome an “us versus them” mentality.
  • Look beneath the surface to identify deeper issues.
  • Separate sacred from pseudo-sacred issues.

You can also identify what your anger triggers and eliminate them as much as possible. Also learn to let go of any grudge and residual anger.

Be a good Listener:

Listening to others and is one of the best things you can do for another person and yourself. It shows them that you value their opinion and allows you to develop closer connection with others. You also get to hear perspectives you might otherwise dismiss. It is important to engage in active listening with the people in our lives. Being an active listener can change your life for the better. It fosters deeper relationships and exposes you to thoughts, ideas world wide views beyond your own experience. You never know what you might learn from someone.

Self Care:

Self care is vital for building resilience when facing life’s unavoidable stressors. Making sure that you get enough sleep is important for your physical and emotional wellbeing. Less sleep can make you less able to brainstorm solutions to problems you come across. I don’t know about you, but when l don’t sleep enough, it makes me very edgy the next day.

Eating a proper diet is also essential in keeping your body and mind healthy. When you eat healthy, problems like bloating and constipation are never going to be on your worry list. That means you will be in optimum shape for handling stress – which gives you added resilience to manage those challenges that come up unexpectedly.

Be Polite:

Being polite is an act of kindness. We can show politeness to everyone we come across. It is not a trivial thing. This little act instill positive feelings in the people around you. Maintaining a certain level of politeness and civility is appreciated because it shows thoughtfulness, considerations, and kindness.

Live with Integrity:

Personal integrity is a cornerstone of whom we really are. It also shows what we stand for. Integrity is part of our mortal foundation. Integrity shapes the person you become with time. Living with integrity means being true to your ideas. It means that your outward actions reflect your inner beliefs and values. It means making necessary changes to live up to your standards. Take time to understand what integrity means to you and how your decisions align with your values. These things can help propel you towards becoming a better person.

Original here

 

VIDEO Whatever, Whenever, Wherever, A Life of Integrity

BY DAVID JEREMIAH

When Nick Vujicic was born in 1982, his parents were shocked to discover he was born without arms and legs. His mother, a nurse, took care of herself throughout the pregnancy, and the doctors never mentioned their baby was missing his limbs. His parents were Christians, and after working through the change in their expectations of what life with their first child would be like, they “moved forward by deciding to trust in God’s Word that ‘all things work for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.’”His parents concluded that God had a plan for Nick and would reveal it to him one day.

Although his parents trusted God with his future, Nick struggled to accept his disability. He often came home from school in tears, and at the age of ten he attempted suicide. In his teen years, he accepted Christ as his Savior. To build friendships, Nick began seeking out conversations with classmates, which helped them see who he really was and accept him. These informal conversations led to him sharing in youth groups in his late teens, and since then, he has shared his story with millions of people around the world. But he doesn’t just share how God has helped him thrive in spite of his disability, the main goal of his organization, Life Without Limbs, is to share the Gospel with as many people as possible. Nick has realized that his story has given him a platform to share Christ with people and to live out God’s plan for him.

Nick’s disability is outside of his control—a circumstance he cannot change. However, he learned to say, “[God] created me for purposes that I never could have envisioned as a child. He uses me in ways that continue to surprise and amaze me each and every day.”Instead of wallowing in self-pity about what he can’t do, Nick uses the talents and abilities God has given him to serve and glorify Him. Nick knows God has been and will be with him throughout his life, whether he is speaking to an audience of thousands or battling depression like he did as a child.

Nick’s story challenges us to face our own difficult circumstances with faith and to trust God is with us during each step of the journey. In the same way, we will be challenged as we begin studying the story of a man named Joseph in this month’s Turning Points (and finish his story next month). His story is one of someone who overcame great obstacles, who knew God was with him, and who was ultimately used by God to save his family from death.

Just a quick overview: Joseph’s life came within an inch of being extinguished by his jealous brothers. Instead of killing him, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. He was given a position as the steward of an Egyptian official but was thrown into prison when falsely accused of attacking the official’s wife. He languished in prison for two years, then gained Pharaoh’s favor by interpreting the ruler’s dreams. From there Joseph became Pharaoh’s right-hand man, managing all the affairs of the nation. To top it off, Joseph saved the life of his starving family—the brothers who had almost murdered him—when they came to Egypt seeking food.

What a story! Joseph’s saga was part of Israel’s legacy and lore, repeated annually at her celebrations (Psalm 105:16-22). Joseph is an example of God’s faithfulness to His people.

But here’s what I want you to take with you as we study Joseph this month: God was with him during his troubles and triumphs. When Joseph was sold into slavery, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man” (Genesis 39:2). When Joseph was in prison, “The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor” (Genesis 39:21).

God was with Joseph every step of his way. And God is with you and me every step of our way. That doesn’t mean our lives will be perfect. But it means God is there for you: whatever the issue, whenever you have a need, and wherever you are.


1Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limits (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2012), 8.

2Nick Vujicic, Unstoppable (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2012), 3.

https://www.davidjeremiah.org/magazine/article?id=209


David Jeremiah — A Life of Integrity


 

Is Your Worldview Weakening Your Marriage?

Dr. Nancy Pearcey

The Family Project team asked noted author and Christian worldview leader Dr. Nancy Pearcey why a theology of family is important. Here is what she had to say:

The reason Christians need to be more intentional about developing a theology of the family is that we are all children of our age — which means we are prone to pick up the views of those around us, often without even being aware of it.

In their view of the family, Americans have been deeply affected by what is called social contract theory, propounded by thinkers such as Locke and Rousseau.  American conservatives tend to be influenced by Locke, while liberals think more along the lines of Rousseau.  But in both cases, the heart of social contract theory is the idea that the ultimate starting point is the individual, the autonomous self.

Where then do social institutions, like the family, come from?  They are products of choice.

The implications are staggering.  Social contract theory implies that we agree to be in relationships when they meet our needs.  Relationships are essentially redefined as products of enlightened self interest.  Thus if a marriage relationship is not meeting my needs, then I can choose to leave.  If the origin of marriage is individual choice, then marriage is subject to the whim of the individual.  No wonder marriage has become so fragile in our day.

And if we choose to create marriage in the first place, then we can also choose to change it — we can redefine it any way we want.  No wonder so many people today are questioning the very definition of marriage.

By contrast, the biblical concept of marriage as a covenant is that it is a pre-existing social institution built into our very nature.  We don’t create it so much as we enter into it.  (Remember that wonderful older phrase: We “enter into the holy estate of matrimony.”)  The relationship of marriage is a moral entity that exists in itself, with its own normative definition.  That means it confers on us certain moral obligations such as fidelity, integrity, and so on.

The Rosetta Stone of Christian social thought is the Trinity: The human race was created in the image of God, who is three Persons so intimately related as to constitute one Godhead—in the classic theological formulation, one in being and three in person. Both oneness and threeness, both individuality and relationship, are equally real, equally ultimate, equally integral to God’s nature.

Because humans are created in the image of God, this perfect balance of unity and diversity in the Trinity gives a model for human social life.  On one hand, the Trinity implies the dignity and uniqueness of individual persons.  On the other hand, the Trinity implies that relationships are not created by sheer choice but are built into the very essence of human nature.  We are not atomistic individuals but are created for ­relationship.

The implication of the doctrine of the Trinity is that relationships are just as ultimate or real as individuals.  Relationships are not the creation of autonomous individuals, who can make or break them at will.   Relationships are part of the created order, and thus are ontologically real and good.

This may sound abstract, but think of it this way.  When we are in a relationship. we sense that there is “me” and there is “you” . . . and then there is “the  relationship.”   And there are times when we say, We need to work on “our relationship.”  In other words, we sense that a relationship is more than the sum of its parts—that it is a reality that goes beyond the two individuals involved.

This was traditionally spoken about in terms of the common good: There was a “good” for each of the individuals in the relationship (God’s moral purpose for each person), and then there was a “common good” for their lives together (God’s moral purpose for the marriage ­itself).  In a perfect marriage unaffected by sin, there would be no conflict between these two purposes: The common good would express and fulfill the individual natures of both wife and husband.

A woman recently wrote me an email saying that she had been raised in a home governed by the rule that Christians should not expose themselves to any non-biblical ways of thinking.  But when she read Total Truth, she says,  “I discovered that I had unconsciously absorbed ideas that came from secular thinkers like Rousseau.”  What about you?

Are your ideas about marriage biblical, or have you absorbed ideas from our secular culture that are eating away at the heart of your marriage?

(Adapted from Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, used with permission)

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Nancy Pearcey is author of the award-winning, bestselling book Total Truth: Liberation Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity and coauthor (with Chuck Colson) of How Now Shall We Live?She is a professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University, as well as editor at large of the Pearcey Report. Heralded in The Economist as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual,” Pearcey has appeared on national radio and television, including C-SPAN. She and her husband homeschooled their two sons. Her most recent book is Saving Leonardo.

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