Tag Archive: Character


Enduring Faith

Job-lg

Have you ever felt like the thing you don’t want to do is the thing God is drawing you to? For me, that was the Book of Job.

Years ago when I first started to read Job, I didn’t get very far. To be specific, I didn’t get past the beginning when God tells Satan he can test Job. I didn’t like that part. At all. So, I stopped reading.

And then over the years, there were times I felt drawn to Job. I underlined a verse or two, read a chapter here and there…and I started to see Job’s enduring faith in the midst of the unrelenting storm.

I saw his strength and faithfulness to God when his wife urged Job to curse God for all that was happening to him. Job refused.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:9-10 NIV

Not only was Job losing everything, but Satan was wearing him down, using his own wife to convince him to blame God.

I often wonder if I could stand up under the pressure like Job did.

Sometimes we get the opportunity to find out…

This past year has tested me in various ways. Exhausting I-can’t-do-this-anymore ways. And sometimes I want to tell God I quit. I quit trying to keep up with everything in life. I quit trying to love others when that’s the last thing I feel at the time. I quit trying to stay faithful to Him.

But when God leads us somewhere, it’s for a reason. One night I realized why, despite my protests and digging in my heels, He led me to Job.

Because I was being worn down…to the point of thinking that if I quit being faithful to God, the enemy would let up.

But God intervened, as He often does. At the moment I was thinking of quitting, I remembered Job and how he was tested—and how he didn’t quit.

I imagine Job felt frustrated and angry, maybe worn-out tired. He complained, he cried out to God, and he questioned his suffering.

And then God showed up. Not to condemn Job, but to remind him of His omnipotence.

Job learned that suffering is indeed a part of life…but God was there with him.

Just like He was there with me that night.

Life is hard. But God is with us through the good days—and the bad—giving us strength when we have none…cheering us on when we’re worn down and the enemy is prowling…refining us for His purpose.

Through it all, Job endured. So will I. And so will you.

 

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 

[This post can also be read in its entirety at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith / Photo credit: Stock Photo: Worship at Sunset]

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Building a Community of Character: Citizenship

Pastor Phil concludes the message series on Building a Community of Character. The sixth pillar is Citizenship. It is difficult to try to figure out what it means to be a good citizen. We hold dual citizenship; as we are part of God’s kingdom we are a citizen there, but as travelers of this world we are also citizens here. Even though you may long to be at home with God, he has you in this place for a reason. Our purpose here isn’t just to defy authority, be ruthless rebels and blend in with everyone else. Or even on the opposite side to be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. God has put the governments of the world in place to provide order in our world.

So what did that look like in Jesus’ day? Jesus said to give to Caesar what is his. In other words, do what the rulers over us prescribe as long as they do not force us to go against God’s Word. Even Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary followed the authorities’ instructions on returning to Bethlehem for the census. The Apostle Peter reminds us to obey the authorities that are over us. So today, we have a Christian responsibility to be good citizens, supporting our government and our communities.

What does a good Christian citizen do to uphold that responsibility?

As you hold dual citizenship both in the place you live and as God’s chosen child, what are the blessings that come with that? What are some of the challenges of having dual citizenship? Leave your comments here or on our Facebook page. Thanks!

Who really cares?

“I don’t care,” has become a common phrase heard throughout our world. It may be for something as simple as what do you want for dinner or as big as defaming a person’s character and not caring. There is an anonymous quote that says, “The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. Apathy is when you would do nothing for someone. Love is when you would do anything.” The biggest problem in our world today is that more and more people care less and less about anything.

What has led us to the point that we could care less about anything? What has caused a whole generation to lose compassion?

Apathy and indifference are two terms that are used when talking about our problems. These words are related but exactly the same. Both of these words can mean lack of interest, but apathy has a deeper element. It can mean to suppress passion or emotion. You may have experienced stepping into a room full of people and trying to figure out the crowd so that you will fit in. So there you are standing in the room, thinking about how you can act or change to fit in. Apathy leads people to disregard what they care about because they want to fit in.

There has to be a better way to operate. There must be some way that we can start to break away from cynicism, apathy and indifference. Christians must look to Jesus the author and perfector of our faith.

Jesus often times looks around and has compassion on people. Compassion is caring in action. It takes caring to the next step. You see something wrong and then you do something to correct it. Jesus comes across two blind men who are sitting by the side of the road. They call out to him numerous times but the crowd basically tells them to shut up. Jesus hears them, and says, “What do you want me to do for you?” The crowds were willing to pass by without helping, without caring about these two blind men, but Jesus was different. Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes and they could see.

How can we start to stand out from the crowd? How can Christians become the ones known for their compassion, or caring in action?

Spend some time today thinking about caring. Leave your comments about a strategy that we can start to take to stand out from the crowds. It’s time to end apathy and start caring again!

Building a Community of Character: Fairness

Pastor Tim gets in on the message series this weekend as he preaches on the topic of fairness. We know when we see something unfair but it is harder to know when something is fair. Where can we turn to find out what is fair?

In his ministry Jesus healed both the Jew and the Gentile; he made no distinction. Paul points out to the church at Colossae that there is no distinction between us, and we all should be treated the same. It calls for humbleness, gentleness and a good share of forgiveness as we live together.

The Scripture passages that we will take a look at this weekend are:

Colossians 3:1-11 and Matthew 8:5-13

What do these have to do with fairness?

We know that when it comes down to it, God has treated us in a manner that we did not deserve. God calls us to love as he has loved us. But it becomes difficult in everyday life and situations. How do you treat someone with fairness that is not fair with you?

Leave your comments or questions below or on our Facebook page. Thanks!

It’s not fair!

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the statement, “It’s not fair!” My children, especially my middle school-aged daughter, believe that everything must be fair or they will stand in protest against it. That really only works until I no longer think it’s cute and then tell them life is not always fair.

The topic of fairness fills thoughts and conversations daily. It’s not fair that I have to work really hard to etch out a living for my family while another person gets everything handed to them at a simple request. It’s not fair that one person lives while another dies. It’s not fair that horrible things go on in the world today and we can do nothing to control it. The census bureau just reported that about 46.2 million people, or nearly 1 in 6, were living in poverty in 2010. How is that fair? This list of things that are not fair can extend another twenty pages…but you get the point.

It is easy to identify things that are not fair but who is the judge of fairness? How do we decide what is fair and what isn’t? After studying the subject of fairness I noticed that the idea of justice was often linked to it. Justice, in its simplest form, is getting what you deserve. So, what do we deserve?

Most Americans believe they deserve the American dream, which means a certain level of living. College graduates coming out of school believe they deserve a job, but not just any job, a job that is going to provide them with a good living. If something bad happens in our life we cry out, “It’s not fair! I don’t deserve this.” We deserve the good living and we don’t deserve the pain. This is a pretty convenient way of looking at things.

I asked a group of Christians what they thought they deserved, and I heard a startling contrast to the world’s response – nothing. They said, “We brought nothing into this world and we will take nothing out.” As sinners we deserve hell and are really thankful that God did something about that. God treated us fairly even when we didn’t deserve it. Is life fair? No!

So when we think about this fourth pillar in Character Counts what does it mean for Christians to treat others with Fairness? Maybe it means to play by the rules, don’t take advantage of other people, and considering the feelings of others.

As we look around at all the things that are unfair in our world, do we want to add our voice to the unfairness cause or do we want to be the voice of hope? God has given us what we don’t deserve, what does that look like in our relationships with others?

Grow Up and Be Responsible

I can remember my parents telling me as a child that one day I was going to have to grow up and become a responsible adult. As a child I figured that meant I wasn’t going to be able to go out and ride my bike or play with my friends anymore and that it probably meant I was going to have to get a job, work a lot, get a wife, have some children and become boring (the way that most kids see their parents). I thought if that is what responsible is, then I don’t want anything to do with it. But Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” So being responsible can’t be all that bad, right?

Every human on the face of the earth has responsibilities. Responsibility is multifaceted. Do you consider yourself a responsible person? Or do you find it to be a quality that is obvious as you grow older? I found a list of questions that could help reflect on responsibility.

True False  
I do what needs to be done.
     
I am reliable and dependable.
     
I am accountable for my actions; I don’t make excuses or blame others.
     
I fulfill my moral obligations.
     
I use good judgment and think through the consequences of my action.
     
I exercise self-control.

 Copyright Elkind+Sweet Communications / Live Wire Media.
Reprinted by permission. Copied from http://www.GoodCharacter.com.

There are different areas of responsibility in our lives. 

Moral responsibility to people and the places we live, conducting ourselves in a manner that is right.

Legal responsibility to the laws and ordinances of your community, state, and country. Even when we don’t agree with them we have a responsibility to uphold them.

Family responsibility means treating those in your family with love and respect.

Community responsibility ensures you are responsible to those in your community to be an active citizen.

Personal Responsibility means it’s up to you to become a person of good character. Your parents, teachers, and other leaders will guide you, but only you can determine the kind of person you are and ultimately become. So get organized, be punctual, and honor your commitments. As Christians this is done by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

I want you to think about responsibility and the role it plays in your life and the lives of others. How can Christians use the knowledge they have of the six pillars of Character Counts to make a connection with someone in their school or place of business?

I want to leave you with a couple of questions to help you reflect on responsibility. Please leave your comments here or on our Facebook page.

Do you consider it important for your friends and family members to be responsible? Why?

Think about somebody you know who is very responsible. How does that person demonstrate responsibility? Does that make you respect him/her more?

What is the relationship between blaming and responsibility?

Building a Community of Character: Respect

Respect is the topic this weekend and there have been some good conversations on the subject already. See the previous post on respect to get a good idea of the questions that were asked. I have a few more for you as you have now listened to Pastor Burcham and his opening thoughts.

How do you demonstrate respect for others? What do others say to you to show they respect you? Does respect equal agreement?

Do you think that Jesus respected everyone? In what ways did he show respect for others?

Look forward to hearing more discussion on the topic.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

When I hear the word Respect I automatically hear the voice of Aretha Franklin (pictured in the video above) playing in my head. As I asked other people around me I wasn’t alone. Aretha sings to a man about wanting a relationship exchange. She is willing to do all kinds of things and have a relationship but not without his respect. So where am I going with this? My question is, how do you gain respect?

When it comes down to it, everyone wants respect! Everyone has a felt need to be respected. Respect is easy to identify but hard to define. So, what is respect? A definition that I liked said: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.

As Christians, I believe that God’s Word gives some guidance in the area of respect and the practice of it. In 1 Peter 2:13-ff Peter talks about the submission to rulers and masters. Verse 16 says, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” He then follows up with an implied how do you do that in verse 17, “Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” We should respect everyone!

Building a Community of Character series is built on the belief that these pillars of Character Counts are offering nothing new or original to the world or to Iowa (Where we are located). Jesus Christ embodied these characters long before there was ever the thought of Character Counts. Jesus showed respect and was respected.

In the Gospel of John (8:1-11) there is a story about a woman who was brought before Jesus and had just been caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisee’s called her a sinner, but Jesus saw her as a child of God. The Pharisee’s would have rather seen her stoned to death; Jesus had compassion. Jesus showed respect to all people. It doesn’t mean that he consented to their way of life, but he saw all people as worthy of respect.

We live in a world of party lines: republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, poor, middle class, management, workers and many, many more. This also happens in Christianity all too frequently. If you are in another camp opposed to mine you don’t simply have a different opinion, you are wrong and often times the enemy. As an enemy we discredit, dishonor and show no respect to the other side.

As we prepare this week for the topic of RESPECT ask yourself how you might respond to some of these questions: How do you define respect? What areas do you find it difficult to respect someone? Would it be possible to show respect to someone without consenting or agreeing with them? Do you believe that our culture and communities could ever be like that?

Feel free to respond here or on Facebook. Thanks!

Building Character

We are excited to begin a new series of messages called “Building a Community of Character.”  I thought it would be a good idea to give you some insight to reasons why we are doing a message on something that the schools of our nation are promoting.

How and When Did Character Counts! Start?

CHARACTER COUNTS! got its start as the result of an Ethics Conference at the Aspen Institute in 1992. CHARACTER COUNTS! believes that effective character education is, first and foremost, an obligation of families; it is also an important obligation of faith, communities, schools, youth and other human service organizations. These obligations to develop character are best achieved when these groups work in concert. It has no political agenda and no religious affiliation. They believe that character really counts in personal relationships, in school, at the workplace– in life– who you are makes a difference! Character is not hereditary, nor does it develop automatically. It must be consciously developed by example and demand. There are common ethical values that transcend political, religious, socioeconomic and cultural differences. The six pillars that are taught are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Many classrooms and organizations started to implement these techniques all across the country.

CHARACTER COUNTS! came to Iowa in 1997 by former Governor Robert Ray. Their mission is to recognize, enhance and sustain the positive qualities of Iowans in order to promote civility through character development and their vision is that every Iowan embrace and practice good character by demonstrating the six pillars.

Why are we looking at Character Counts?

It would be easy to conclude that the reason we are doing Character Counts as a message series is because we just want to get people to act right or give our people some easy steps to become a better Christian. (It really isn’t that simple). We recognize that we can not accomplish a better world or community through our own power and strength. 

Through discussions with parents we discovered that they felt a piece was missing in the Character Counts curriculum. They wanted their children to know the true source and example of character that we have comes from Jesus Christ. Long before the 1990’s, Jesus came and lived a perfect life, full of character, to fulfill the law and standards of a perfect God. In his life, death and resurrection we have a righteousness that is ours and there is nothing that we did to deserve it. The Character Counts pillars have their very foundations in Scripture. Listen to the call from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:22-23, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires: to be made new in the attitude of your minds.”

We want to use this opportunity that God has laid before us to take something that has been promoted in the community and teach the Christian foundation for it. We invite you join us as we explore the examples of character that Jesus gives us. As we begin to make the correlation between the pillars of character and the way Jesus interacted with others throughout his ministry, we will see many situations where Jesus exemplifies the pillars of character. Come, delve into scriptures with us as we unfold the character of Christ. What if we became the people of character that God has called us to be?

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