A Look at Integrity

Welcome Again Friends!

It seems that I’m beginning a habit of walking in the park before my workday begins, and this morning I was praying that the Lord would allow me to see something different in His world today.  Just a little blessing to encourage me and start my day off really well would be just fine.

So, what did I see when I rounded the bend?  A little black cat I had never seen in the park before.  He was a little skittish, but since he didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat, that was a typical response.  He didn’t realize I was a cat-lover!  🙂  Regardless, God truly answered my prayer right from the very beginning of my journey.

As I continued on my way I was also hopeful that I’d see the little bunny rabbit again.  Well, sure enough, there he was munching on breakfast just outside the tree line on the grass in the same general area he’s been sitting in every morning.  I moved slowly towards him on the path and stopped when he looked my way.  As he looked down again to get another bite I inched a little closer until I was probably within 25 feet of him.  I remained still and just watched this little wonder of God’s creation.  He was a normal-sized brown rabbit with big eyes and long ears.  As he looked straight ahead, his ears were moving back and forth, listening for any type of predator that might be near.  Not that I’m a predator mind you, but to him I might have been classified as one.

He did allow me to silently watch him for about two to three minutes, and before he scampered off into the woods, he stopped eating to use his front paws to clean his little face after the morning meal.  It was so neat to see this in close proximity, and I could also make out the details of his actions as they were happening right before my very eyes.  I don’t know if he saw me for sure, but whether he did or not, he continued his normal daily routine / ritual of eating and then properly cleaning himself up.

Then I thought about my life.  Whether I know someone is watching or not, do I go about my normal routine?  Hmmm…  Do I act the same way when I think no one is looking?  This brings to mind the subject of “integrity”, and here’s the dictionary definition:  “Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character, honesty.”

Let’s translate that and apply it to our daily spiritual walk with the Lord:  If we live a life of integrity, then we should continue doing what we normally do when God or anyone is looking on.  That is, we continue doing the right things, even (and especially) when no one is looking.  I want to be that type of person; someone who is a woman of her word and someone who will act according to Godly principles, even when no one sees.

So my questions are these:  Who’s watching your life?  How close do you let them get?  If you didn’t know anyone was watching, would they see you acting inappropriately, or would you be that person of integrity who would do the right thing, regardless of who is looking?

As Christians, we are called to walk the talk, all the time, no matter what.  Does that mean we are perfect?  No!  But we are seen as blameless before God.  Since as believers we have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can then behave as the blameless individuals God sees before Him.  Our lives should be lived with integrity, and you just might be the biggest influence on another person’s life they’ve ever had but you may never know it.  Your life could also be the only Bible a person may ever read.

May God be pleased with our actions at all times, in public or in private.  Our goal is to be obedient to what His Word teaches us, to please Him in all things, to be an encourager to others and to be more Christlike in our character each day.  We never know who’s watching, so it is God’s best and ours that we strive to live a life of integrity.

So what is your life shouting to the world?  Would the word “integrity” be used to describe you?  I sure hope so!

Be blessed,

Debbie

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Mushrooms: Insignificant…or Not?

Hello, friends!

As you may know, I went on an early morning walk in the park again, where I saw another (or the same?) bunny rabbit nibbling on breakfast as I wound my way around the trail at Forest Community Park.  Since I didn’t have my camera with me on the path, I just basked in the beauty of that sight for a few moments until the little creature decided to head back into the woods.  I thanked the Lord for another opportunity to see His hand in nature.

I did make note of some little mushrooms that caught my eye as I went further along in my journey.  I thought, “How small and insignificant they are!”  And then I remembered that nothing God creates is insignificant, especially those created in His image – you and I.  Did these mushrooms take much of God’s time to create?  Did He have to think a long time before deciding how to arrange their DNA so they would be a certain color, height or texture?  I don’t know, but I do know this:  God is wonderfully creative and cares about His creations whether big or little, inanimate or fully human.  Below is just a glimpse of what brought all of this to mind:

Do the colors seem ordinary?  Is this just a bland scene?  Would anyone say these are beautiful?  Well, let’s explore these questions:  Ordinary in color?  Yes.  A fairly bland scene?  Yes, nothing to truly draw your attention to them. Who’d say they are beautiful?  God and I would.  God even thinks they are perfect in His eyes!

When I think about all the detail with which these wonderful plants have been made, they ARE a work of beauty – His work.  It gives me pause to thank God for taking the time to place those little gems along the path today to bring my thoughts back to Him, our gracious and awesome Creator.

Am I sad that I wasn’t able to take a picture of the little rabbit this morning?  Maybe a little.  But I can hold onto that image, and although I can’t post it here, it will be forever posted on the canvas of my mind.

Will you join me in prayer?

“Thank you, dear Father, for all the little things You do for us each day.  May we be ever mindful of Your presence in our lives and in the minute details of Your creations we find as we journey along each day’s path. You are Mighty and Powerful, and Your love is abounding.  Continue to remind us of your Presence as we go through each portion of our day.”

Just look – you’ll see evidence of His hand and experience His presence if you are truly a child of the King.

What are you thankful for today?  I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

In His service,

Debbie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit of the Spirit – Does Yours Attract or Repel?

Hello Again!

Well, this morning began early as I delved into God’s Word and various readings before heading off for my morning saunter in the park.  One of the articles I read brought to mind the state of being unequally yoked, whether it be in marriage or in friendship.  The scripture passage was 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23, and what really hit home was something that Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in his devotional for today:

“At salvation, God gives us His nature, the evidence of which is fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22). These qualities allow us to love and be loved. And people will be attracted to Jesus when they sense these characteristics in believers. On the other hand, if these attributes are missing, we can never truly experience life as God intended.

What rules your actions, choices, and thoughts? Are they primarily influenced by the Holy Spirit or by your flesh? It takes courage to look at your heart and notice its true condition. Ask God to work in your life so that His Spirit can reign freely in your heart.”

We wonder why our relationships are one-sided, why we cannot give or receive love according to “our” rules.  If we are trying to grow a relationship where both parties do not have the common bond of Christ as Savior and Lord and we are not heeding God’s exhortation to allow the Holy Spirit to develop those qualities called fruit of the Spirit, then the relationship can never go or grow in the same direction.

When we experience difficulties in our friendships, let’s first ask these questions of ourselves:  1) Am I truly exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in my own life?  2) Am I looking out for others’ interests (see prior post) and asking God to work in my life so that the qualities of Jesus are prominently displayed?  If the answer is “yes” to either or both, then thank God for His presence and power in your life.  Also pray for the other party to accept your offer of kindness and selflessness and to recognize that you are truly looking out for them and wanting the relationship to be enhanced.

If the answer is “no” to either question, then first pray for yourself to have a repentant heart and to be open for His correction and direction so that you are exhibiting the qualities of Jesus.  Then, continue to pray for the other party in the relationship as you begin to reconcile the difficulties (maybe even by saying you were wrong and / or that you are sorry).  Also ask the Lord to help you display Godly qualities so that the other party will see your true heart and want to move forward with the relationship and grow to be more like Christ together.

God will help us get rid of our old “flesh” so that we can experience fullness of life in Christ.  What a joy to be able to experience that life with others who are like-minded and like-spirited.  May you go and grow in grace and with the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life today!

Blessings,

Debbie

The Interests of Others

I’ve been studying the New Testament book of Philippians with some wonderful friends over the summer.  Every Tuesday morning we meet at the CC’s Coffeehouse on Jefferson Hwy. at 6:15 a.m. to pray, discuss the passage of the week and encourage one another with what the Lord has shown us in our study.  What a joy it is to be associated with such Godly women and to have that common bond of Christ as our Savior.

One of my dear friends, Leasa, is a part of this study.  She and I have also been meeting weekly for over a year to share what we’ve learned from being in God’s Word and to just enjoy doing life and encouraging one another through fellowship and prayer.  This post is due in part because of Leasa…well, her trip, her dog, Roux, and my adventure today.

Leasa and her family are on vacation but had to leave their dog behind.  He is a blue heeler – a very smart dog with quite a personality.  The picture you see is a generic shot, not one of the real Roux.

Roux has a fenced in yard with folks coming to check on him while his owners are away.  Well, Roux knows me fairly well, since Leasa takes him with us whenever we walk.  Several times I’ve gone over to visit, and when I drive up Roux does his thing – he barks because someone has arrived.

Today, I went over to visit Roux while his owners were gone.  I fully expected him to start barking immediately when I drove up, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Instead I got a great big smile, saw perked up ears and a wagging tail!  He was so glad to see me that he didn’t bark at all but was just excited.  When I reached for his leash, he started jumping up and down and was ready to go for a walk.  We had a great time together, and then I was able to watch as he showed off in his back yard, feeling really good about having a visitor and showing me his tricks.

What does this have to do with the title of this post, “The Interests of Others”?  Well, the scripture that came to mind is Philippians 2:4 (New Century Version):  “Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.”  Why did I go and walk my friend’s dog?  Simply because she is my friend.  I wanted to demonstrate my friendship by helping with her dog, and as I returned home this evening she had left a voice mail.  What a joy to be able to then call and let her know I had just seen Roux and that all was well.  I wanted to look out for her interests even though it was a hot and humid afternoon, and Roux would not have known any better had I not stopped by.

What compels us to be others focused?  Does it come naturally?  No!  Selfishness comes naturally.  Being selfless is one character trait that has to be developed with the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  But as we grow in our love for the Lord, our love for others grows, and we then want to put their needs / their interests before our own.  Sometimes God can use a puppy dog to help brighten our day as well as to strengthen the bond of friendship.  I think that’s what has happened to me today.

I hope you have an opportunity to walk someone’s dog, to run an errand for a neighbor or to just sit and visit with a friend soon.  As you purpose in your heart and ask for God’s help to look out for the interests of others, you will grow to be more like Christ, which is our goal.  You’ll also be enormously blessed…and God will be so pleased.

Debbie

God’s Wonderful Creation

Today I decided to take an early morning walk in the park before work.  Yesterday, while at that very same location, one of the park employees was describing how he had seen several deer (does) coming out of the nearby woods and crossing the paved area to another wooded locale.  Lo and behold, as we were talking, another doe proceeded to venture out of those very same woods, crossed the paved parking lot and entered the woods on the other side.  What a wonderful site to see!!!  And this was at 2 p.m. in the afternoon!  What wonders God has placed right before our very eyes!

I was told that various fauna such as a red fox had also been seen as well as several species of birds, many squirrels and rabbits, so this morning I went to the park armed with ammunition – my camera!  As I was walking throughout Forest Community Park God provided me with two opportunities to view cute little brown bunny rabbits munching breakfast.  Here is the one I spotted on my way out of the park before he ran off:

Another beauty of God’s creation that caught my eye was an interesting mushroom that was flanked and protected by other flora in the woods.  The color was interesting, so I wanted to show this to you as well.

Isn’t God both creative and beautiful in the display of His majesty?  That reminded me of Psalm 57:5, where the psalmist describes it so well:  “God is supreme over the skies; his majesty covers the earth.”

This prompts me to remember to thank the Lord for His provision, even in the little things like bunny rabbits and mushrooms.  What are you thankful for today, something little or something big?  Either way, God deserves our gratitude and praise for He is our gracious provider!!

Debbie

More About Faith

Today I’m posting from Hebert’s Coffeehouse, a great new find which is run by a Christian couple, former missionaries to Kazakhstan.  Try them out at 12242 Jefferson Hwy., next door to Jefferson Lakes Apts. and across from Tramonte’s.

This morning’s devotional reading from Rick Warren’s Daily Hope, really helps me understand faith.  It begins with Proverbs:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Part of having faith in God is expecting Him to bless your life. He wants to make your life all it’s meant to be — not all you want it to be, but all He wants it to be. He always has your best interests in mind.

When God asks us to do something, Satan typically reminds us of all we have to give up in order to obey. But that’s only part of the story.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” (NLT). That’s great news! When I trust in God — or take refuge in Him — He brings joy. Instead of thinking of what we have to give up when we trust and obey God, the Lord wants us to remember the joy we’ll find when we obey.

This truly helped me get a better perspective on faith and trusting God completely with every event of my day.  He is so faithful, as I can attest of late in His timely provision in my life.  Ask me about it!

Debbie Manthe

People Over Protocol: Ephesians 4:2

Hello Again!

Just watched a video from Jennifer Rothschild, who reminded me that as we relate and minister to others, whether in a church setting or within our community, people are more important than protocol.  Here is the verse Jennifer referenced in one of my favorite translations, New Century Version:

“Always be humble, gentle and patient, accepting each other in love.”

What a wonderful reminder of the character we should display; the one that our Lord best portrayed every day of his short life on this earth.  Oh, to be more like Him!!

Debbie