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Posts Tagged ‘character’

I feel like this has been a year of redefining for me. There are truths I have known and lived by, but those roots seem to be growing. This year I have been consciously intentional to follow after him. The process has been life changing…but I guess that’s the point, right?

I am wired to be a big picture thinker. I also value the small things that marinate in me. I am not naturally drawn to the small details of things, but have valued them so much lately.

Often times when I read through a gospel, I read with a theme in mind. I love looking for specific character traits. Sometimes I will just pick a word like grace, forgiveness, joy, waiting, character, etc and see how those words are seen throughout the gospel. I try and listen to what my heart is being drawn to, or what I might have a heightened awareness for, and look for it.

I am a words girl. I love words. I value words so much. I am often drawn to what words look like. What I mean by this is that I am drawn to the way someone’s words take form by their actions that follow.

The weight of our words matter and our actions give those words form. Our actions are what give our words weight.

For example, my friend and I were at a store and their credit card machine was down. The owner of the store gave us the option of taking the items and coming back the next day when the machine would be working. I offered to leave something of mine behind to hold in exchange, but she was happy to take down my info. The next day my friend and I returned to the store with cash in hand. I will never forget that the owner was surprised to see us. I think part of her resided to having donated our items to us. She smiled and appreciated that we kept our word.

I could have spent time explaining to the owner how much we promised to return, or that we are reliable people. What mattered is when we showed up. Showing up is what gave our words weight. Showing up is what made the difference.

Jesus is a perfect man who is so amazing with the weight of his words. I have been humbled by how much all of his truths took on form by what he did. I am finding myself exhaling a little more when I read his promises. I am finding the truth in his truth that is taking on more roots in me.

I want my lifestyle to give my words weight and form. I want people to know I believe in them by how I show it. I want my life to reflect the truths that are taking root in me. I want to be a person whose character shows up before the words are out of my mouth. I desire for others to feel safe and know that I am a trustworthy person by how I show up in trust.

Words with weight matter. Be a person whose actions match your words. Make your words seen.

How can you give more weight to your words?

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I am a huge fan of the Indianapolis Colts. Some of you might be thinking that it’s because I have jumped on the Peyton Manning bandwagon. The truth is that the Colts are more than one player. They act like it.

There are no real show-boaters on the team. Every player actually looks like he is in the game to play. I have always loved the Colts because they exude character. I have always been attracted to how they challenge one another to be better players.

The character of the Colt players is evident when they encourage one another instead of yelling after a dropped throw or miscommunication. I have not seen Peyton leave the field cussing after throwing an interception. He sits on the sidelines and talks strategy with his teammates for the next offensive opportunity.

I recently started reading Tony Dungy’s, “The Mentor Leader.” Through reading this book, I have gained more respect for the team I love. I also found the answer to what I had been attracted to in my team in the first place.

Jim Caldwell, acting head coach for the Colts,  puts into words what he discovered while talking to Tony about the Colts.

The team had a policy of placing character in the forefront of the player-selection process. It was a common organizational practice to eliminate players — even talented “difference-makers” – from consideration in the draft if they possessed questionable character flaws.

Character matters. It is evident in that team just how much of a difference character makes.

Some people might say that the Colts are on to something with their policy about character, but this policy was in place a long time ago when the church was forming.

Pauls’ letters in the New Testament are filled with this character policy. Paul described the details of living differently for the Lord in multiple letters. There were policies in place for the requirements of those who wanted to be in church leadership.

The leadership of the church was held to a higher standard of living. This higher standard can also be called character. Deacons and Overseers were required to be people who were living life above reproach, faithful, respectable, hospitable, teachable, gentle, self-controlled, and able to manage is family well.

Character matters. Our character matters. Character influences every area of our lives, as well as, the lives of other people. People who have good character are on the front lines of following after him. Good character is attractive. Character is a not so small thing that makes teams and people great.

The same character policy that Paul understood for building the church applies to us today. Character stands out and makes people different.

My character needs some work. My desire is to be different.

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Sometimes I just feel like I only have a voice shouting to God from a distance. Sometimes I just see through the lenses that are filled with wounds, scars, and sin. My jaded self-perception gets stuck on seeing the old me; the dirty and weighted down me. Sometimes I see a me that only seems to reflect the lies of being the “un-able.” Through those jaded lenses, I see a me that is un-lovable, un-ownable, and un-worthyable. Those are the “un-ables” in me.

I will admit that sometimes I only have the guts to yell out to God from a distance. I see the state of my heart and keep my distance. It’s in those times I have missed the reality of who Jesus really is.

Through reading the story of the Ten Leper’s, I see myself through the eyes of one.

Leper’s are the outcast and disgrace of a community. They are forced to live outside of the life and love of the “clean.” I find myself there so many times. My heart is messy.

One night, ten leper’s had a chance to connect with one who was not only clean, but one who could make them clean again. So they shouted from a distance, bringing the only thing left to bring, their voice. Jesus stopped, took time to meet them where they were. Jesus used his voice to make them well.

One man recognized his deep healing. One man recognized that Jesus’ voice made all things new in him. One man took that same voice used earlier from distance and knelt before Jesus. A voice redeemed. A shouting voice now spoke softly on it’s knees praising the salvation of a savior.

Jesus took one voice, who only knew worthiness only from a distance, and drew him close. Jesus only heard a voice of his beloved. Jesus only saw a man who was his child and worthy of healing.

I have been a voice begging and shouting from a distance. I have experienced times of only being able to see through fogged covered lenses. Jesus hears me, always, and invites me to himself. I have a choice to hear his voice and go on with my day, healed, but empty. I also have the choice to return to the voice of  my healer.

We have two choice: to either experience the healing or experience the healer.

Which will you choose?

Do you have the guts to call out?

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Our culture thrives on results. We like to see tangible things that speak to progress. We are a people who like measurable goals and plans. We like to sit back and look at all of the fruit of our labor laid out around us.

But what if God is more about who we are more than the results we are making? What if character is the fruit God is looking for more than a tangible thing?

I have been talking about stories of characters who have definitive paths and dreams for their lives. Joseph was to be right hand man to the king, and David was on the road to becoming king.

What about someone with a life who had a path that was not so clear cut?

Ruth is an amazing person in the bible who exudes character. Ruth was not on a track to be the next king or even some famous warrior. Ruth set a high bar that illustrates commitment and character. Life for Ruth was hard and full of grief. She chose the hard and God blessed her for it.

Ruth was the daughter-in-law to Naomi. Naomi lost both her sons, which widowed both of her daughter-in-laws. This was a huge blow to Naomi, because her sons were supposed to care for her as their father had passed. Naomi was a widow who had no one to care for her. Her two-daughter-in-laws were in the same predicament. However, both women were younger with time to find new husbands. Naomi released the two women from her care and sent them on their way back to their home towns.

I don’t know what made Ruth want to stay. I don’t know what Ruth’s home situation was. I don’t know what she left behind, but she chose the harder road. Ruth left a life and friends she knew to stay with Naomi. Ruth committed to Naomi in a way that went against cultural values. Ruth sacrificed her option of security to return home and get remarried. Instead, Ruth chose to  travel to a place where she knew no one and life would be all unknown. She chose Naomi. Ruth chose commitment and faithfulness.

Cultivating character is not easy. It often does not look like the logical or even best thing to do. God taught Ruth to value responsibility more than results. Ruth treasured faithfulness more than fruitfulness. She chose a life that might have been mocked over what was easy.

I don’t know the thoughts of Ruth after arriving with Naomi to her new life in Bethlehem. I wonder if she just resigned herself to think that this was her life. She committed to Naomi and was going to take care of her. She stayed true to her commitment. God took Ruth’s choice of good character and showed an old town a new level of love and integrity.

God blessed Ruth so much for her choice of faithfulness and commitment. Ruth had no idea what doors would be opened for her, or even what life would bring, but she chose character.

God cultivated Ruth’s character and she was richly blessed. God blessed Ruth with protection and favor. She was given opportunities not usually afforded to women “like her.” Ruth was shown favor by many people. She was even given a husband who had amazing cultivated character as well.

Character calls to character like deep calls to deep.

Ruth could have chosen the easy way, or even the way that made sense to her culture. Ruth chose the hard. When Ruth “arrived” at a life that looked like “just caring” for Naomi, God showed her more.

God cares about our hearts and character above all else. Even in the glimpses of our dreams, we never “arrive” at them. God is always cultivating our character. In that process, we will know more life then thought possible.

Ruth committed to the one who was her path not the path itself. Life looks a little crazy that way.

How is God cultivating your character?

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Ever had those times where you realized that where you are is not where you need to be? I have had a lot of these moments when taking on big mountains in Colorado.

Colorado has mountains called 14’ers, where the summit of the mountain sits 14,000 feet above sea level. Hiking 14’ers gets in my soul. It takes all day to hike to the summit of one of these mountains. The terrain is rigorous and unpredictable. The hike is hard with challenges at every turn. But the view is something I cannot even describe. I have never known another view to physically take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes. Summitting a 14’er never fails to stop me in heavenly awe.

These mountains also come with what is called “false summits.” False summits are just that, false. Being that high above sea level it is hard to gauge what is the “top.” There are plenty of high up places along the hike that can be disguised as the top, but they are far from it. There is nothing like reaching a false summit, cheering for the top, and another passing hiker points upward and says, “that’s actually the top.” Dangit!!

Life is filled with false summits. These are the places where we feel like we have “arrived.” False summits seduce us with victory and the exhale of finishing what we set out to do. False summits seem so great until God comes along, points upward and says, “that’s actually where we are going.”

Lately, I have been spending a lot time just reading scripture. I have read story after story of false summits. There are so many times where difference characters think that they have “arrived” to what God has led them to do, only to realize God was still pointing.

I have realized that in this world, we strive to obtain the top job. With a world view,  you can actually get there, but with God there is no top job. Even if we obtain the dream job or top position, God is still the real top we want to summit.

God has a plan promised for everyone. We are all wired to “do”something. God cares about cultivating our character to get more than what the job is. With God there is no “arriving.” We will always need to depend on him no matter what we are doing or where we are going. Our character is always being developed to be the person he wired us to be. God is always working on our faith and character more than our achievements and end result.

This week, I am going to talk about a couple of people who’s story illustrate the heart of cultivating character.

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Lately I feel like I have been asking myself a lot of questions. They are not all the same type of questions, but just questions.

Call it season of life. Call it wondering about the unknown. Call it curiosity about how I wired. What ever “it” is, I still have questions.

Some of my questions (no structure to them either):

– What will my next season of life be?

– Is this season life over or beginning?

– Why do I get so ticked about certain things, while other equally frustrating things roll right off?

– What do the real weapons of God look like? And why don’t I use them more? (love, respect, trust, patience, self-control, grace, forgiveness…)

– Does my character look like God?

– In my sensitivity, what makes me spiral downward and why?

– Why do I have specific triggers in me?

– How do I steward my influence? I am I responsible with that influence?

– What would I do if I saw a person crying on the side of the road?

– What does helping look like for me?

– Why do I keep trying sweets when I really don’t like them, and feel sick every time?

– How do I process thoughts from vacation well?

– Am I really honest?

What kind of questions have you been asking yourself?

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When I think about what healthy relationships look like, I always think about David and Jonathan. These two guys are often in the spotlight for how well they loved each other, as well as, how they modeled friendship. When I read about their friendship, I see some serious fruit. Relationships have weeds that can threaten its growth, but it also has great fruit.

One characteristic about their friendship that I am constantly drawn to is their selflessness in regards to one another. Let me give a little back story on how they cultivated this friendship. At the time when David and Jonathan began their Bro-mance, Jonathan’s father, Saul was residing as king. David had been anointed by Samuel to be the next king due to Saul’s disobedience to the Lord. Naturally, Jonathan should have been in line for the throne. It was no secret to Jonathan that David was the one to take the throne.

Jonathan did not fight for the throne. He never tried to force himself on the throne or over turn what God had set in place. Jonathan loved and supported David as the one who would be taking over his birth right.
I don’t know about you, but my natural response would not have been love and respect. I would have gone down swinging. Dang weed!

Even if Jonathan felt jealous or envious of the throne, he did not respond that way. He celebrated his friend and brother. When David was moving more and more into the lime light as a great leader and warrior, Jonathan never responded in bitterness. He loved his friend and celebrated his victories. He also celebrated David as people praised him and cheered for his growing fame. I wonder if Jonathan wanted a taste of that lime light?

At the time when David and Saul’s relationship grew more volatile, Jonathan stuck by his friend. Jonathan was a man of integrity. David trusted him with his life and the intimacy of his friendship. They modeled an honest relationship that I’m sure came with much forgiveness.

A great relationship allows/enables each person to be their total self. A healthy relationship allows the other person to rest in acceptance and unconditional love. Good relationships allows for grace and forgiveness. As a result of grace and forgiveness, a sense of safety takes root. This is when the sound of exhale starts to be heard within the relationships.

So how did David and Jonathan have a healthy friendship?

In my speculation, I think they both understood God’s love and forgiveness for themselves. David had such an intimate relationship with God. I know that had to have made a difference in their friendship. The characteristics of their great friendship are the characteristics that make up the character of God. God is loving, forgiving, grace filled, and patient. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. God is the God of integrity. He is trustworthy. He celebrates his children and never settles for anything less than the best.

I have to believe that our understanding of who God is can set the tone of our weed filled or fruit filled relationships. How we know who God is directly affects our relationships. All good things come from above.

This is my desire for all my relationships.

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