Values upon which my life is built

Let me pose a question. What is most important in your life, what’s really important in life? Moses, the greatest world changer in the entire Old Testament settled this issue and that’s one of the reasons why God used Moses in such an awesome way. He clarified his values, he clarified his priorities, he knew what was important, he knew what was unimportant.

Hebrews 11:26 says, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Notice “regarded”. That indicates a value judgment. It means “to evaluate, to consider, to weigh in the balance, to judge the value.” Moses basically sat down and said, “What are going to be my values and what am I going to live on?”

If I asked you to quickly make a list of the values you base your life on, could you even identify them? Have you ever sat down and made a list and said, “These are going to be the ten values that I build my life on.” How can you live by them if you’ve never even identified them? What a tragedy to go through life valueless. You have values but unless you clarify them, identify them, determine what they are and even put them on paper, they’re going to tend to go out the door when things get difficult.

Am I out of line to ask you to take a little time and make a list of values that you can say, “These are the things I want to build my life around.” Love, faith, integrity, service… whatever they might be. Make a list of those values so that you can have value-based living.

Here’s a fact of life. If you don’t decide what really matters most to you in life, other people will do it for you. If you don’t decide how you’re going to spend your time there’s plenty of people who will spend your time. God loves you and everybody else has a wonderful plan for your life. And they’ll fill it up and fill up your schedule. You have to determine your priorities or someone else will decide for you.

It is ironic that when you look at Moses’ life, by the world’s standard, he had it made because he had it all. He had power and prestige — he was in line to be Pharaoh. He had pleasure — every whim would be satisfied. And he had possessions — the wealth of the world was concentrated in Egypt. But Moses walked away from it all. Why? Because he had his values right. He knew that these things don’t last.

You want to be used by God but here’s the catch. If you’re going to say “yes” to what God wants to do in your life, you’re going to have to say “no” to many other things. One of the biggest problems we have today is Christians who are unwilling to say no to the world’s standard. They want to live for Jesus and have all the world’s standards at the same time.

But compromise only makes you miserable. You’ve got to learn to say no to the world’s values and yes to God’s values.

Ok, here are the values upon which I build my life.

GOD FIRST, FAMILY SECOND, EVERYTHING ELSE THIRD

LOVING AS JESUS LOVED

INTEGRITY AT ALL TIMES

EXCELLENCE IN ALL THINGS

SERVANTHOOD AND SACRIFICE IN THE NAME OF CHRIST

AUTHENTICITY, REJECTING RELIGION IN FAVOR OF REALNESS

TREATING ALL PEOPLE WITH THE SAME RESPECT AND GRACE

A DAILY CONNECTION WITH THE LORD

FAITH IN GOD AND THE POTENTIAL OF PEOPLE

HELPING AS MANY PEOPLE AS I CAN GET TO HEAVEN

Now, will you take the time to identify your values?

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“Mom, shut up!”

This morning was picture perfect for outside exercise. The air was crisp. The sky was without a cloud and the moon was hanging high even in broad daylight. My morning speed walk was exhilarating until I passed one particular house. I was almost moving too fast to catch what was going on but I did get in on some of it.

The teenage daughter was getting in her car, parked in the driveway, apparently leaving for school. Mom was standing at the garage door saying something to her daughter. I was not able to catch what mom was saying but I did get the daughter’s response, loud and clear. “Mom, shut up!”

You can’t imagine the flood of thoughts that entered my mind. The first was, “My kids were never permitted to speak to their mom like that.” Our kids were not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but there was one thing they were never permitted to do and that was disrespect their parents, at least not to our face. I don’t know what they did behind our backs. And as I look down the line to today our kids have an extremely high regard and respect for their parents and authority figures in general.

I then began to ask myself why it is that there is so much disrespect for parents and authority in our kids today. Maybe it is parents who are too busy to give careful attention to their kid’s development and are pretty much willing to settle for anything that comes their way. Maybe it is the guilt parents feel for neglecting the tender developmental needs of their kids in favor of chasing the same materialistic idol everyone else in society seems to be bowing down to. Maybe it is just a reflection of what their kids see in them. Maybe it is because parents are more concerned about being friends to their kids than parents. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that you can’t be both. Friendship usually returns in later years but there are many years where it is more like arch enemies than friends when parents act like real parents and don’t wimp out.

So why is it that disrespect prevails in so many homes? Maybe I have or maybe I haven’t hit the real cause but I do know the inevitable effect. Disrespect in the home breeds disrespect outside the home. And in many cases disrespect in the home is multiplied outside the home.

So let me say it clearly and to the point. Excuse me if I am a little strong with this statement but, if you want to set you kids up for failure in life let them show disrespect to you in the home. It is an absolute invitation for them to show disrespect in the school, the sports team and later on in life to neighbors and the work place or whatever the setting might be.

On top of all this, it is permitting them to disobey God, miss out on His promises and live a short life. And I might add, usually a short miserable life. Check it out for yourself. Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother -which is the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Disrespect in kids is not a kid’s problem. It is a parental problem. Parents are responsible to teach it, model it and demand it. Failure to do so will result in devastating consequences that will only increase with each passing year.

I’m done writing now. What do you think?

Audrey Makes Big Announcement at Birthday Party

Here are a few pictures from Audrey’s first birthday party last Saturday. The rocking chair is what Sharon and I made (had made, thanks to Sharon Spradlin).

She rocks, crawls, reads books (almost), poses for pictures with her cousin and rests in Grammie’s arms when she is tired.

By the way, Audrey had an announcement for all of us. She is going to be a big sister. Her brother or sister is due in April.

Thanks again for all your prayers.

Audrey Turns One

One of my first blogs was about our first grandchild, Audrey, born September 13, 2007. The hard reality was, she was not supposed to live, according to the predictions of doctors and specialists, but she has defied all odds. She pulled through the delivery, brain surgery and many other challenges since.

If you would like to read the original blog entry on her it is from October 1, 2007 entitled “Only God Could Do It.” I featured Audrey again on February 1 of this year in an entry called “Picture of a choice not to abort.”

This Saturday marks Audrey’s first birthday. Do you have any idea how different Sharon and I feel this year as we travel to her birthday party than we did a year ago when we thought we were going to attend a funeral?

Audrey has been such a miracle blessing to so many people. Her physical therapist has released her, indicating that her motor skills are normal for a one year old. Her optical therapist is considering a release as well due to her visual progress. Her sight is still very much impaired but is showing continual progress. She is about five months behind simply because of the part of the brain that was removed during the initial surgery.

I just happened to have a few pictures from the summer. You can be sure there will be more when we return from the celebration.

I would like to offer an invitation. You won’t be able to attend the party with us, but would anyone like to share your wishes or blessing that you have received from Audrey’s story with her or her family? I will read them to the family when we get together this Saturday. I know her family will be blessed by them as you have been by her.

Thanks so much for all your prayers for Audrey, Daphanie and Timothy. Please do not stop praying for them. There is still much more ahead in Audrey’s development and their parenting challenges.

Where in the world has integrity gone?

As I have mentioned in a previous entry, on Sundays I am talking about what it takes to be a world changer in today’s world. We have discussed the beginning point of commitment, the power of passion and the demand of integrity. For some reason I just can’t get this integrity issue out of my mind.

Maybe because it is such a passion of mine. Maybe because I have witnessed so many in ministry leadership breach and destroy their integrity as a result of foolish and selfish pursuits. Maybe it is because I hear so many who are not Christians point to the lack of consistency and integrity in Christians as the reason they don’t want to have anything to do with Christians and the church. Maybe it is because I am sick and tired of seeing so many who claim to follow Jesus, the #1 man of integrity of all times, whose life style is a betrayal of that claim.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way suggesting that we can live perfect lives. Only Jesus has done that. But we do need to make “sinlessness” the object and goal toward which we are continually growing, I mean without deliberately detouring along the way. We need to set our hearts and spiritual development squarely on full grown maturity as a Christ follower.

And this thing called excuses. We just need to quit hiding behind a long list of excuses for our failures and wonderings. Besides, an excuse is nothing more than the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. It may sound a little reasonable, but we know that it really isn’t true. We just want to justify our lack of integrity with it.

So help me understand this integrity issue from your perspective. As far as you are concerned, and in your thinking, I live in a “less than real,” sheltered world. I don’t experience the real world each day like you do. So help me understand the challenges to integrity.

Before we get to that I want to list the four items I mentioned last Sunday that are foundational to integrity. (You can listen to the entire message from this link, http://relaxedchurch.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57)

1. Commit yourself to honesty, reliability and confidentiality. And I mean now, before you face a crisis or you are setting yourself up for failure.

2. Decide ahead of time that you don’t have a price.
The best way to guard yourself against a breach in integrity is to decide once and for all that you won’t sell your integrity for any price. Have you done that?

3. Value integrity more than image. Now that’s a challenge for our society where image seems to be everything. It doesn’t matter whether you are successful, wealthy, beautiful or happy just so you appear to be.

4. Major in the little things. The little things make or break us. Honest and integrity are habits you ingrain by doing the right thing day after day, week after week, year after year, even when you don’t feel like it.

So help me out with this one. Take me beyond my sheltered lifestyle to the “real” world in which you live by answering one question for me.

Why is it so difficult to live with integrity in today’s world?