The Integrity of Your Word

I remember a time when a man’s word meant something. When he gave it, his reputation and integrity were at stake. A good reputation was important. His integrity spoke of his worth as a man, and he was careful not to sell it too cheaply. That’s all gone now as trust is no longer an issue. Everyone is assumed to be a liar and a cheat, unless they can prove otherwise. Dealing with foreigners who originate from corrupt countries, is a difficult experience. They assume your guilt and find it unbelievable that you might be otherwise because dishonesty is all they’ve ever known.
I bought a new tractor last week from an old tractor salesman. He delivered it to our farm on Pender Island, and said I could pay him when I returned the following week. 40 grand on a handshake!! This guy’s a dinosaur, a relic from the past. It was so refreshing to deal with someone who afforded me some dignity and trust, that I’m for sure going to patronize his company in the future.
Today I was talking to a shop owner who was lamenting a business agreement that went south, because he didn’t have an agreement on paper. He trusted the new owner as he had trusted his father for the past 20 years. Apparently the son had a different set of morals which didn’t honor a verbal agreement.
The bible has a lot to say about integrity and keeping your word. Keeping your word doesn’t end when it’s a convenient thing to do, when you’d like to take back what you said because the consequences of keeping it are greater now.
In Psalms.15 it talks about a man who honors The Lord by swearing to his own hurt, and not changing. That’s when a man’s true colors come out. Will he keep his word now in spite of the cost or will he try to weasel out of it.
We serve a God who hears our every idle word, and holds us accountable for them. I can understand the unredeemed man, without the knowledge or understanding of God’s judgements, not keeping his word. The Christian however is to be most pitied if he reneges on his word.
I can remember a low point in my life when I was a young man. I compromised my word for a few hundred bucks. I was immediately found out, and reprimanded for it. I was ashamed of myself. It was like someone stabbed me through with a knife. “Never again” I said.

The Skillful Man

Career selection is a minefield that young people are forced to walk through often with little assistance. With the current economy, just securing employment, any employment, is difficult enough as it is without being too choosy. Often a career evolves out of circumstances or developed interests. The fear of being trapped in one career for ever, can be paralyzing and cause indecisiveness. In our culture, people seldomly follow one career for the rest of their life.
Personally, I’ve owned about 30 businesses that were as varied as chalk and cheese. However the common thread was that they were businesses, and God called me to be a businessman. I’ve tried my hand at various trades, but was never very good at any one thing. However I did feel God’s pleasure in starting new businesses, and in that I became quite skilled. I’m convinced that a person can make a good living at just about any occupation if they set their mind to become skilled at it.
Here’s a few keys that you might find helpful in selecting your career.
1./ What do you really like to do? Where do you derive great enjoyment and pleasure? Forget about how much money is in it, that will vary with your skill level.
2./ Do you have a sense of God’s calling to a particular area? This one trumps all others.
2./ Look for a void and fill it. My son got a degree in biology. Every tree hugger and animal lover on the planet gets one. My oldest daughter got her degree in chemistry. Not many pursue chemistry because its hard, hence there’s lots of jobs available for chemists. Besides that, who would ever aspire to work in a lab, even the rats don’t enjoy it.
3./ In a positive economy, specializing is a luxury we can afford. In a poor economy, the jack of all trades will always find work. The reverse is true for consultants, specializing is crucial to success, but that usually is a second career later in life.
4./ Discover your aptitude. Listen carefully to the clues. You don’t want to end up a square peg in a round hole. A friend of mine got a teachers certificate only to discover he really didn’t enjoy the classroom setting. It wasn’t his cup of tea. He’s now working on his masters in mathematics. Definitely not my cup of tea! There are many career aptitude tests, but I would rather suggest some of the personality tests, like the love language test. Sometimes it’s more a process of elimination. Knowing what your personality is not suited for is as important as knowing what you are suited for.
5./ By far the most important bit of advice is to become as skilled as possible at the career you’ve chosen. You will never regret it.
Proverbs 22:29. Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

A Salient Moment

I was reading the Psalms when it struck me that there are many words we use to describe God. I wrote a few of them down and meditated on them. That week I was at a pastors conference when the speaker asked if anyone had a prophetic word, now would be a good time to share it. I came to the mike right away and said I didn’t really have a prophetic word, but I thought I would read this list to help us focus our thoughts on Him. I had this idea that I would read the list with great expression and enthusiasm to magnify The Lord. I got the first line out, then choked up. It suddenly struck me that this was the Living God that I was speaking of. I continued line by line, expressionless, pausing frequently under the weight and significance of what I was reading. Tears flowed down my face as I could barely finish what I wrote. The audience sat quietly as if to say “well, that was unimpressive, …next.” At that point I really didn’t care. It was a salient moment in which His majesty overwhelmed me.

Sovereign king
Mighty God
Gentle Father
You are pure and holy
Righteous above all others
Omnipotent and omniscient
Transcending all others
Worthy of our praise
We honor You as Lord
We bow down before You
You are the alpha and omega
The beginning and the end
You oh Lord are our source
Our all sufficiency
We praise and honor You
We magnify You
Our precious Father
Magnificence is embodied in You
High and lifted up
Seated in lofty places
Counselor, all wise God
Name above all names
Your riches are unfathomable
Your mercies too great for our understanding
You are the treasure in the field
The great I am
Lord of all Lords
King of all kings
Understanding of our weaknesses
Savior Lord
Almighty and everlasting
How can we reverence You more
We bow down before your greatness
Have Your way with us today Lord
We capitulate our will to yours
And worship You.

The Obituary

I read the obituaries in the local newspaper regularly. I find it interesting what is said about a persons life. Golf usually occupies the top spot, fishing, time traveling, etc. Others just lists family, friends and what took their lives. The most interesting ones tell about their military involvement and career accomplishments.
I wonder what people will write about me when I die.
Had a stack of businesses, spent a lot of time on his boat, died a cynical old man.
Or… Lived life to the glory of God fearlessly and with no regrets.
My hope is that my obituary will read more like the latter.
I retired 5 years ago, but I still go to work every day. What’s a fellow to do, hang around the house and get in the wife’s hair? I hang around the shop, fix things, and help establish my son as he takes over the family business.
People expect that I would take it easy and enjoy life. I’m wondering what that means, was I not enjoying life before? Is work really that much of an unenjoyable experience that it must be escaped from?
I remember the feeling of satisfaction after working physically hard all day. I’m too old to do much of that now and yes, I have slowed down, but I am not ready to be put out to pasture like an old horse yet. Retirement can be very unfulfilling if your biggest goal is to play a lot of golf, travel, or a myriad of other self centered goals. It’s so important to enter retirement with a purpose greater than pleasure seeking. Last week my wife and I went to Kelowna to visit some of our family. We determined that our purpose for going was to be a blessing to our children and our grandchildren. Sometimes we learn things from others failures. My parents spent their last 20 years traveling to somewhere hotter than here. What a tragic choice as their grandchildren were deprived of the stability and wisdom they could have imparted to them.
Passing on something to your offspring has lost it’s importance in our society. The race to consume all that you’ve produced before you die, is symptomatic of how self centered and godless we’ve become. What you pass on is not nessisaraly monetary. A godly heritage is of great value as long as you finish well. An evil or self centered heritage will by default be passed down and affect many generations. I thank my father for the good business sense he instilled in me, and the ability to provide an inheritance for my grandchildren. Even though he never know the Lord, he was a good man. It’s thrilling to see my children raising godly offspring. I thank God that at least I did a few things right in this life.

Hidden

The little child buries his face in the blanket, thinking no one in the hide and seek game can see the rest of him. We’re older and wiser now. We can hide much better than that, so we think.
Lately I’ve been asking God to help me understand what holiness means. I was totally unprepared for the depth of sin that lies in my heart. I thought if I dealt with the big sins, the little ones would take care of themselves, or that they didn’t matter as much. My relationship with The Lord is pretty good, so I shouldn’t have to sweat the little stuff.
Wrong. The scriptures says that “the heart of man is wicked and deceitful above all things.” Once a sin is revealed to us, we are required to deal with it. Like the child that thought no one could see him, we are totally wrong if we think our bad attitudes are hidden from God. Yes even our attitudes are under the scrutiny of God.
I once had an employee that told me “as long as I do my job properly, I don’t have to have a good attitude about it.” I promptly fired him.
As the layers of sin were peeled back, I saw the wickedness in my own heart. Much of what I say to others is to make myself look good.
I have a friend who doesn’t seem to have a self centered bone in her body. She’s just nice to the core. I’m certain though, that her husband has discovered otherwise. Beneath a thin veneer of niceness, lies a world of things God would like to help us deal with. That’s why we need a Savior.

Hebrews 4
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Holland

The morality of a nation determines the livability and safety it’s citizens experience. Holland has embarked on an irreversible journey that has destroyed any semblance of civilized living. 3 key legislations are the culprits.
1./ legalizing marijuana.
One in four restaurants are nothing more than pot dispensers. Its difficult to find a public place that’s not filled with intoxicating fumes. Pot is now as common there as coffee is here in our country. I’m sure this improves workers productivity as the country is already awash in debt.

2./ legalizing prostatution.
The government hoped that it could generate a substantial revenue stream by taxing prostitutes. Wrong. Apparently nobody wants to be known as a whore, and only 5% of them registered and are paying taxes. They thought by legalizing it, the associated crime rate would decrease. Wrong again. Organized crime is importing hookers from other countries to meet the demand. Holland has become Europe’s brothel as sex tourists outnumber regular tourists. Visitors would rather abuse the country’s women than look at their windmills. If that’s not enough, the pimps openly and actively solicit their young women for their sordid trade. The men must feel unbearably shameful that they have failed to provide protection for their daughters from this pressure.
3./ legalizing assisted suicide.
Holland has become a world destination for one way tourism. A cloud of death hangs over that country. Seniors are griped by fear of going into a hospital and having someone arbitrarily decide that their life should be terminated. The curse of death will never be lifted from this nation.
Some of the politicians have admitted that these legalizations were a mistake and are attempting to repeal them. Good luck. They are battling all the forces of hell.

Spiritual infants

We rejoice that our God has delivered us from our former way of life, but neglect what He has saved us to. The word “holiness” conjures thoughts of effort, denial, discipline, and a lot of unpleasantries to endure. It’s much more fun to celebrate the goodness of God and bask in His love forever. We sing about His holiness but how does it affect our lives? I think some of us have just plain given up on trying to be holy, and take our cues from the world’s standards. Everyone’s doing it so it must be ok, without regard for what God thinks about it. It’s the forgotten requirement of living the Christian life, yet it’s clear in the scriptures that it’s not really optional. Listen to the words of modern Christian pop music, as they articulate accurately our sentiments. “Holy holy are you lord God almighty, I’m not worthy, but You are Holy.” It’s easier to moan about how unworthy and sinful we are than to actually do something about it. Of course we aren’t holy, we all know that, but we were never intended to stay that way. I think part of the problem is that the gospel that’s preached is “come to Jesus and live happily ever after.” That’s a load of unbiblical horse feathers. Being a Christian is a lot of hard work. If you are given to laziness, try another religion, because being holy has exacting demands on our lives that involve daily discipline and rigorous denial.
It’s insulting to God, to expect Him to allow us into His presence, when we haven’t first purified ourselves. It would be like making an appointment with the prime minister, and showing up in your grubby work clothes. His assistants wouldn’t even allow you in the front door. Read psalm 24:3&4 if you don’t believe me.
Daily, we not only need to come to Him for cleansing, but we also need to ask for strength and fortitude not to continue sinning. It’s not what we believe, it’s what we do about about what we believe that counts. The devil believes all the same stuff about salvation as we do. The difference is that he chose to remain in his sinful state.
Here’s the 4 steps:
1. Belief
2. Repentance
3. Baptism
4. Sanctification
Christians who ignore the 4th step, are destined to remain spiritual infants forever. They are virtually useless for the kingdom of God here on earth. They are a constant drain on the church, as they never come to a place of victory in their lives. They continually need their diapers changed because they are always making a mess of things. Yes, we need a child like faith to come to Jesus, but after that we’re expected to grow up and mature in our faith.
Here’s a simple prayer to start your day with… Lord, thank you for the gift of salvation. You are a wonderful God and I worship you. Forgive me for sinning against you yesterday. Today, my desire is to do the right thing. To please you in every word, deed, or thought. Today, whatever the cost Lord, I submit my will to yours.