Integrity – Will we embrace our choice to live in Integrity?

By Dennis Petersen

Whether we are employed or not, the challenges facing us in today’s world require us to make choices that produce prosperity for more than ourselves.

We face so many crises today, but the one issue rarely identified as a real crisis is at the root of practically all the problems. It’s a crisis in integrity.

So many problems would be greatly diminished or perhaps even disappear if people had acted with integrity and honor.  Before we take a look at how we individually can make the best choices for the challenges of the future, we need to recognize the serious reality of what all of us are facing.

 

Just think of some of the society-wide problems that are happening today.  We choose how we deal with them. Hiding our faces doesn’t make the problems go away.

Physical problems: environmental toxicity issues; chronic degenerative health conditions; shortages; dangers and side effects from natural disasters.

Social problems: political corruption; public policy decisions; civil unrest; conflicts of world views.

Financial problems: Debt; Inflation; unemployment.

Personal problems: fear of the future; peace of mind; relational problems.

So, what do we do to maintain a sense of stability in such a swirling confusion of negative woes?

Trusting God must be the foundation of our plans and actions.

Read Psalm 37:1-11  “Fret not yourselves because of evil doers… trust in the Lord and do good.  Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

Integrity must be what we determine to maintain no matter what.

What are the Marks of Integrity?

An article by Charles R. Swindoll focused on a vital concept found in 1 Cor. 11:28, 31.

“But let a man examine himself…”
“..If we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.”

Integrity is a very personal matter of our individual willingness to be accountable to the truths and values to which we have committed ourselves.

What are the marks of integrity that God wants in our lives.  Do you have these marks of integrity?

  • An excellent attitude
  • Faithfulness and diligence at work
  • Personal purity of the highest caliber
  • Consistency in your walk with God

A reminder: Only you can do the surgery on your soul.  Only you!  No one else can know the truth. You can cover up, twist the facts in your mind, rationalize, and ignore . . . and no one will know the difference but you. But if you really value integrity, you will come to terms with the whole truth, regardless of the consequences. Daniel refused to compromise and consequently was thrown into the lions’ den. Look what God did. He honored Daniel’s faithfulness. He’ll do the same for you.

Integrity is a matter of consistency in living out your values

Conformity leads to compromise. Compromise leads to mediocrity. Mediocrity leads to sin and a wasted life. Finally, a wasted life leads to a lost legacy.  Dennis Rainey

No position in life can be secure, and no achievement can be permanent unless built upon truth and justice.  Napoleon Hill

You see, we are successful when we are steadily becoming the unique person God intends us to become and when we are doing what he asks us to do.  Pamela Heim

Discipline is the price you pay for freedom…Discipline restores your freedom of choice.
Norman Vincent Peale

Now if it is true that God is both Truth and Love it will be readily seen that the greatest sins will be unreality, hypocrisy, deceit, lying, or whatever we choose to call sins against truth, and self-love which makes fellowship with other people and their proper treatment impossible.  J.B. Phillips

It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed, than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.  Peter Marshall

Christians must seek to behave among men in a way that brings praise to their Father in heaven.  J.I. Packer

HOW TO CULTIVATE INTEGRITY

Cultivating integrity is not easy.  It is developed on a daily basis, moment by moment, decision by decision, test by test.

Psalms 26:11 – David saw it as a walk: “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity…” It is something we do, a step at a time.

We cultivate our integrity as we respond to the circumstances we face every day.  It doesn’t matter if the circumstances are big or little.  They are equally effective in testing our core honesty. Some pass these tests better than others. Abraham failed such a test, yielding to the fear of man rather than the promises of God. He didn’t lie outright, but he told only part of the truth, acting as if he were Sarah’s brother. It nearly cost him his inheritance. When the pagan king learned that something was wrong because he took Sarah, he told the Lord, “In the integrity of my heart I have done this. I did not know she was this man’s wife, or I would never have taken her.” The Lord replied, “Yes, I know, and it was because of your integrity that I stopped you from sinning against me.” (Genesis 20:1-7)

David did not wait for circumstances to test him. He had the courage to invite God to test him. He had what some call aggressive integrity, insisting that God sift his heart and examine him: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; (24) and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalms 139:23, 24)

Pray like David: Psalm 26:2: “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.”

HAVING OUR INTEGRITY TESTED

The Biblical account of Job is really a story about a good man who had his integrity tested.  It’s evident by the question God asked Satan at the start of the Book:

“Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3)

People have tried to fit other interpretations for the “why” behind this story, but this is the only reason God gave. What is otherwise a difficult book to read becomes more relevant to our lives when read in light of how God will allow our integrity to be tested. Job’s wife certainly saw this as the issue, when she said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”  Even his friends raised the question of integrity: “Is not your fear of God your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?”

Sometimes hanging on to our integrity is our only hope for recovery. Job held fast to his, saying,

“Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.”

In the end, all he could say was:

“Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity.”

When we come to the end of our difficult circumstances, sort through all the accusations thrown at us, examine the differences in beliefs and practices which threaten to divide us, or look at all the personality conflicts we face, they can be seen as the tests which assess the depth and development of our integrity.

When we recognize that those trials bring our integrity to bear, will we stand fast.

Integrity means ‘singleness.’  Will we maintain singleness of mind and purpose in our work and in our personal lives?  God is challenging us to have integrity to shine brightly to make a true difference in the world around us.  He is looking for the men and women of integrity.  Will we stand in the face of challenges to do His will, no matter what?  Let’s dedicate our lives to reclaim the legacy of integrity.  May God give specific direction in how He will fulfill his purpose in your life.

 

What is the most important thing you have ever learned?

the miraculous quality of childlike meekness - By Dennis Petersen

When you think about taking a proactive change of direction to reclaim your legacy, what do you think is the most important thing that you have personally learned in your lifetime so far?  With your focus on making a positive influence on your children and grandchildren – your next generation – what truth or idea have you discovered that is such a powerful influence on your own life that you would have to include it among the very top dozen or so important things that you have ever learned in your life?

Who is the one man to influence generations for God’s kingdom?

I recently read a sermon delivered by a gospel preacher who lived over 250 years ago before America became a nation.  He was born in Gloucester, England, in 1714 and is often referred to as the greatest English preacher who ever lived.  In both England and the American Colonies, he passionately gave himself to proclaiming Christ mostly in open air outdoor meetings heard by thousands of people at a time.  One historian estimated that he preached a thousand sermons a year for 30 years.  He was perhaps the most influential single person God used to create the society-transforming phenomenon of the middle 1700s called “the Great Awakening.”  He became an early example of modern evangelists acquainted with the notable English pastor, John Wesley, who became best friends with one of the most influential men in the founding of America – Benjamin Franklin.  Who was this unique man? (more…)

How Can A Society Drift into Rejecting God?

What Does God Do with People Who Reject the Love of the Truth? by Dennis Petersen

free-choice-not-consequencesYou might wonder why a whole society seems to drift into a hardened rejection of the knowledge of God.  Why do people who resist God seem to fall prey to deeper and deeper deceptions in so many areas of life?

What do you want?
  • Confidence in your purpose in life?
  • To be pleasing to your Creator?
  • Victory over destructive influences in life?
  • Character qualities that glorify God?
  • Greater insight for success in your own journey?
  • Optimal physical well being and health?
  • Freedom to use your gifts most effectively?
  • Greater impact and influence on the world around you?

A wise man will hear and increase in learning and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Proverbs 1:5, 7

One of my best lessons I ever learned…  “My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”  Hosea 4:6

“Through knowledge the righteous are delivered.”  Proverbs 11:9

“… if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  James 1:5

What is the primary way that God gives His wisdom to those who ask of Him?

(more…)

How To Obey God Honorably in a world full of corruption and dishonesty

By Dennis Petersen

compass over mapToday’s world is filled with all sorts of deception.  Sharp discernment is required for those who really want to discover the things that are true.  If we don’t want truth we won’t search for it.  That’s why we need to be discerning. That takes a special level of heart and acuity to be able to do that in an honest way.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…”

How far does that spread?  It’s in every sector of society, isn’t it?  It’s in education.  It’s in religion.  It’s in the business world.  It’s in politics.  They will find teachers according to their own desires.  It’s natural to the human condition, isn’t it?  We want to hear what we want to hear and we don’t want to hear anything that we don’t want to hear.  So Paul goes on to forecast in the letter to Timothy what to expect: “…and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

You may wonder: “Why would people believe in a myth?”  Yet, it is so common today that many people will treat you as sort of an outcast if you don’t believe in their popular myths.

What are some myths that dominate the landscape of our world today?

Evolution, Universalism, Socialism…

What could be more of a myth than the idea of evolutionism – that everything ultimately came from nothing with no designer?  Yet people believe it.  It’s a commonly held myth.  And, of course, very intellectual scientists get behind it, those whose hearts are darkened.  They do not desire to have discernment to know what is true.

I make no apology about this.  Think. It goes for other areas of human thinking and understanding.

Think about universalism.  That’s the idea that everyone will eventually get to heaven no matter how evil and hateful to God they are. They wrongly think that God certainly can’t be unforgiving to everyone so all must be acceptable to God.  Think.  God is forgiving to those who humbly acknowledge their utter lost condition and their need for His mercy.  God does forgive them.  He’s just not going to force them to turn to Him in their need.

Socialism – there’s another myth – the idea that we can all have everything, even if none of us do anything.  Let’s face it.  That doesn’t work, does it?

So here we have these dominant myths in our society today. 

First is Mother Nature – that’s the primary icon for evolution.  It just happened by itself.

Next is Universalism – God is too loving to send good people to hell.

And the inevitable outcome of the first two is the promotion of socialism.  The socialistic state will take care of you.

They are all frauds.

The basic Biblical Principle Needing our attention?

God created man to thrive in the world that God made by working to make it into something – using his God-given creativity, ingenuity and initiative to make it more than it started out.

God is the one who orchestrates the entire universe from the very beginning.  He is the one who created it all.  He is the one who created man.  He is the One who gave man initiative, creativity, abilities and skills.  God is the awesome genius Who gives us all that is needed to achieve the purpose He has designed.  And we do it by work.

Work isn’t a curse. God gave man work to do in the garden before the curse.

When people come into our Bible-believing churches with compromised views, how should we encourage them to evaluate the truths of the Bible?

Do you really believe that we should prove all things?  That’s a good way to start a conversation with anyone.  It’s a simple way to get them thinking about God and His purposes for all of us.  And use the basic qualifying question if you find they are open.

The Basic Qualifying Question

What is the basic qualifying question to help people you encounter to open their minds and discover what’s true?  It’s simply this: “If I could… would you?”

“If I could show you something…” “…give you some insight that I’ve learned…” “…help you in some of those areas…” “If I could give you some new ways of understanding… Would you?”

Would you be open to have a discussion to talk about it with me some more?  Would you entertain reading a book about it?   Would you look at some new ideas that I discovered personally?

You might want to ask: “Would it be meaningful to you if…?”  If what?  If I could show you some things that give you a new slant that you didn’t know before.

You don’t know what you don’t know

One of the most basic principles of education is this idea that none of us knows what we don’t know.  Would you agree?

So, asking questions, like I just did, is a good way to open the door to one’s reason, right?  It’s the basic qualifying question.

Do you want to order your life by the truth?  How do you establish what is true?

Is it true that the truth shall set you free? 

Watch out here.  You’ll want to look at John 8:31-32.  Does the truth set you free?  You may know many people with access to libraries full of books that contain the truth.  They may have stacks of Bibles in their home.  They may have even memorized a lot of scripture.  Does that mean they are free?  Are they necessarily free just because they know the truth?  Be sure you get the context of Jesus’ words here.  Jesus said it plainly in the opening statement here when He said, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples.”  Two things are happening here: abiding in my word and being true disciples of Jesus.  Then, the result is that you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.  Freedom, because of the truth that it brings, is a direct result of living in – abiding in – the words of Jesus by following and being a disciple of Jesus.  It’s all about Him and letting Him exercise His dominion in our life.. His wisdom in our life.. His insight.. His discernment… in our life.

Regardless of the anxiety about the economic future of America, compared to all the rest of the world, it’s clear that 90% of American citizens are wealthy.  Here is an area we need to delve into regarding common myths.  Unfortunately, many don’t seem to realize that we are wealthy.  We can capitalize on it even for our own sakes, let alone for God’s sake and the sake of others.  God has blessed our land in amazing ways unlike anything that has ever happened in history.  So what else are we faced to understand?

With riches come more opportunity and more responsibility.

The myth is that we achieved all this abundance because of our own goodness or skill.  Really?  Some believe in the myth that we were just lucky, and if it happens to go away we have no solution.  Just panic and hope for a new stroke of good luck.

Who is the Owner of this world anyway?

God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills.  He owns all the silver and all the gold.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1

It all belongs to God.  Do you think He’s short of any resources?

Paul wrote to Timothy to “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches (that would be practically all of us in America today), but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”  God wants us to focus on Him – not on the riches – but on Him.  He’s the One Who supplies all the things we enjoy and we are indeed ‘rich’ in this country no matter how little or how much we make, earn or create.  He goes on to say: “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Politicians and the media seem determined to incite us about economic downturns on a national or even a global level, but what about your own economy?  The average annual income for many people in nations of the world is about $300.  Would you say that we are all doing a lot better than that?  So what are we doing with our own economy? Are we looking to God to instruct us, to guide us, and to trust Him every step of the way?

What many people seem to miss is that financial security (what we regard as true economic prosperity) is more than a fat bank account. Money seems to ‘take wings.’  But prosperity is more about opportunity.  It’s about diligence and practicing good principles of personal relationship development.  It’s about bringing value to others who reward you for what you do. These are things that put you in position to have the security of ongoing income, ongoing earnings, ongoing financial security.

So what are some practical things we can do to face the challenges of economic lack?

If you are facing serious economic struggles, consider a few things that can make a huge difference.

  • Determine to be persistent at moving forward – that’s initiative.
  • List your goals. Write down what you want.  Talk with your close relations about what you want.
  • List your assets, skills, things you’re passionate about, things that you feel are a mission on your heart and life, training, aptitudes. What do others say you’re good at?  What new course could help you discover how to better use those assets?
  • Find a work that you love. Pursue it, even if you have to volunteer on your off hours to do it.
  • Find a way to help other people get what they want. This develops amazingly into opportunities and connections with other people who can open doors that you never dreamed of.  Volunteering with like-minded people can lead to all sorts of opportunities.
  • Find a way to monetize both (what you love and what others want).
  • Find a sideline home business you can believe in and a training coach you can trust to tell you the truth. Find someone who can mentor you.  Be sure you’ve checked out the success factors that avoid unnecessary risk and disappointment.  Often we get blown off course because we lack a trustworthy mentor.  But there are people out there who are waiting for you to ask them for guidance, for insight, for consultation.  Seek out those people.  And if you’re not hanging out where you can meet the kinds of people you want to mentor you, then maybe you need to change where you hang out.
  • Get good at doing something that people respect you for and generate fulfillment in you. If you are feeling that you’re making a genuine contribution into the lives of others, their appreciation will keep you motivated to keep working on improving your skills and your performance. Hang out with others with similar aptitudes and goals.  Attend events they attend.  Get engaged with seminars to learn more about the business you’re considering or you’ve decided to pursue.  Whether it’s your primary career or something you want to develop on the side, give it your best effort.
  • In today’s world, it’s imperative to diversify your skills. For most people it’s now evident that your primary career is not going to be your only source for all the needs of your life and your retirement in the future.  You have multiple interests.  Give several of them your time.  Maybe you like music, or writing, or broadcasting. So be willing to re-educate yourself as times and technologies change.
  • Never stop learning. Be open minded to new ideas.  One of the leading factors that sets highly successful people apart from the rest of the herd in society is that they are always eager to learn.  They are curious about the world around them and how to apply their efforts to make that world better, even when it involves information outside their primary career.
  • Invest in your self-improvement. Spend money on practical education as well as academic schooling.  Learn the Success Principles in the book by Jack Canfield.  It’s a classic everyone will enjoy.
  • Change your social environment if you’re not with the people who are going where you want to go. Invest effort in making new friends. Attend conferences where you can grow your skills.
  • Consider carefully the values of the pursuits you take up. Be true to yourself and your values.
  • Decide to make money your servant and develop your business in such a way to prosper others as a result of your activities. Money is just a tool to help others.
  • Determine to find allies who are as passionate as you are to reach goals together and work with them.

In today’s changing world, we all need to find the opportunities and the people who are serious about working together to reach worthwhile goals.  We have ambitious goals to help people reclaim their legacy through the discovery of truths that help them establish the five important pillars of ‘legacy’ that we’ve talked about repeatedly on this program.

If you would like to find out reliable ways to turn your economy around, you have to start with an open heart and an open mind.  Forget about negativity and cynicism.  They get you nowhere.  Reach out to learn more about how to accomplish any of the things we’ve been talking about today.  I invite you to contact me on the phone or on our website.  I’ll be glad to point you toward some solutions that could make a life-changing difference for you.  And if you’re serious about making some changes in your own future, I’ll direct you to some websites that will help you even more.

Like a lot of things in life, the teacher appears when the student is ready.

Just make sure that you know your own values and goals so that the choices you make are in harmony with them.

Be encouraged by Ephesians 2:10 that tells us that we are “created for good works.”  Let’s be sure to walk in them.

In Ephesians 4:15, as we “grow up in all things,” let’s be sure to speak the truth in love, not walking in the futility of our mind, but laying aside falsehoods (myths) while laboring with our own abilities to do what is good so we can have resources to share with those in need.

Opportunity abounds no matter how bad the economy looks. You’ve got your own economy.  Decide to use it your abilities to develop it.

Remind yourself of Philippians 2:13: “God is at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

Philippians 1:9-10 “in love, develop real knowledge and discernment, so you can approve the things that are excellent.”

What you’ve heard today is worth learning well.  I trust it will be an investment to return an exceptional reward.

Reclaiming Your Legacy of Thanksgiving

by Dennis Petersen

reagan-1st-congress-prayerMuch has been researched and written lately about the proven personal benefits of expressing genuine gratitude.  It turns out that thankfulness is not typically a result of being happy, but rather the opposite is true.  People who deliberately and openly confess their thankfulness to others are the happiest of people.  And isn’t it interesting that those who recognize that their lives have a purpose are the ones who are prone to give thanks to their Creator and to those around them.

Have you discovered your purpose?  Do you have a clear reason why you’re excited to get up in the morning?  If you have a mission to drive your daily goals, you’re a much happier person than those who are just being driven by survival mode.

We’re a nation of people that has a centuries-old tradition of celebrating annual solemn days of Thanksgiving.  Yet, it seems that our current generation has almost no concept of the deeply personal conviction of the importance of gratitude.  And it’s pretty obvious that that gratitude should most deservedly be directed to the Almighty Giver of every blessing and perfect gift in our lives.

It seems like everybody is scrambling frantically to demand that their comforts and material desires be accommodated.  How often we see people so ungrateful that complaints and cynical dissatisfaction has become society’s normal?  Things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years have they?

Remember The Sin of Ingratitude in Luke 17:7-19?
Jesus healed ten men of leprosy.  One of them was a Samaritan man.  He was the only one of the ten who came back to Jesus and humbly thanked Him for healing him.  Jesus asked him: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Sadly, my missionary friend in Africa reports that barely 10% of those they help will bother to express their gratitude with even a word of thanks or a note card.  Gratitude may be rare, but those who express it discover the most enriching lives on earth.  Instead of loneliness, poverty and depression, they are the ones most inclined to be enriched, energized, inspired and transformed

Gratitude goes counter to the ‘victim mentality’ that has deceived so many who think they are entitled to everything at the expense of others in our culture.  When we give thanks sincerely, we acknowledge that we have received a benefit that is unearned.  We can’t help but look beyond ourselves.

When you are stunned with the reality that you survived what could have been a fatal event, how does that make you feel?

After the victory of the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777.  How did they express their feeling?  Here’s what they wrote in the proclamation:

“The grateful feeling of their hearts… join the penitent confession of their manifold sins…  that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance… and… under the providence of Almighty God… secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace.”

If we want to reclaim our true history, we are going to have to work at telling our children about our real history.  It isn’t being taught in most schools and colleges today.  Thomas Jefferson was the governor of Virginia in 1779.  What did he chose to proclaim for his State after Admiral John Paul Jones captured the British ship HMS Serapis?  The Continental Congress declared a Day of Thanksgiving, which

“Congress… hath thought proper… to recommend to the several States… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for his mercies, and of Prayer, for the continuance of his favour… That He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; That He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of Divine Grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel; That He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth… I do therefore… issue this proclamation… appointing… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God… Given under my hand… this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779… Thomas Jefferson.”

 

Hear what that same Continental Congress proclaimed after Benedict Arnold’s traitorous plot to betray West Point was thwarted.  It was a Day of Thanksgiving, October 18, 1780:

“In the late remarkable interposition of His watchful providence, in the rescuing the person of our Commander-in-Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution… it is therefore recommended… a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer… to confess our unworthiness… and to offer fervent supplications to the God of all grace… to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.”

After British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, October 11, 1782:

“It being the indispensable duty of all nations… to offer up their supplications to Almighty God… the United States in Congress assembled… do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe… the last Thursday… of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”

After the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, Congress recommended that the States declare a Day of Thanksgiving.  Massachusetts Governor John Hancock, the former President of the Continental Congress, proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, November 8, 1783:

“The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation… I do… appoint… the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate… that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel… That we also offer up fervent supplications… to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish… and to fill the world with His glory.”

After the U.S. Congress passed the First Amendment, it requested President George Washington issue a National Day of Thanksgiving, which he did, October 3, 1789:

“Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness; ‘Now, therefore, I do recommend… Thursday, the 26TH DAY of NOVEMBER … to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be… That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble Thanks… for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government… particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”

On January 1, 1795, President George Washington proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving:

“When we review the calamities, which afflict so many other nations… the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed –    the recent confirmation of that tranquility by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it – the happy course of public affairs in general –  the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens; our circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence towards us.  In such a state of things it is, in an especial manner, our duty as people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience…  I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States,  to set apart…a Day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer: and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of Nations.”

 

the-first-prayer-in-congress-september-1774After hearing those inspiring proclamations from national leaders – which, by the way, were entirely inspired by the attitude of profoundly committed preachers in the churches of the American colonies – doesn’t it seem about time that the pastors of our Bible-believing congregations lead the way for reclaiming our lost legacy for the current generation?  Should they not humbly call for days of contrition, repentance and sober thanksgiving?  We have such excellent Biblical and historic precedents to guide our way.

 

Taking God’s Blessings for Granted
Dr. Martin Luther observed: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.”   It seems that the blessings of life, health, freedom and food are not really appreciated unless they are lost, or threatened. Sunrises and sunsets occur daily so they are taken for granted aren’t they?

Consider the Stars
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that “If the constellations appeared only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event it would be. But because they are there every night, we barely give them a look.”

The Blessings of Being Hungry and Lonely
Have you noticed that the blessings of rain are barely appreciated unless one has been through a drought?  A hungry man is more thankful for a tiny morsel than most affluent Americans for their table full of choice foods. A lonely woman in a nursing home will appreciate a visit more than a rock star with a crowd of fans. A Christian who has suffered under persecution for decades and receives his first copy of the Holy Scriptures is more thankful for one book than we are for all the Christian books, Bible translations and magazines that overflow our shelves.

You Should Experience Blindness for a Few Days
Helen Keller said: “I have often thought that it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days for some time during his early adult life. It would make him more appreciative of sight and of the joys of sound.”

A Biblical Command
There are at least 138 passages of Scripture that deal with the subject of thanksgiving. We are commanded: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4.

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8.

“Give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

Joyful, Prayerful and Thankful
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Plainly it is God’s will for us to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.

A Sacrifice of Praise
“Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.” Hebrews 13:15.

What makes praise a sacrifice?  Could it be that when the blessings we are thankful for have not yet manifested themselves in God’s providence?
A Good Habit
“It ought to be as habitual for us to thank as to ask.” C. H. Spurgeon

The Parent of All Virtues
It has been said that a thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.

What is the Root of Sin?

“The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… for although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  Romans 1:18-21.  Look!  The failure to give thanks to God is the root sin that leads to futile thinking and foolish, darkened hearts.  Think about that.

One of the Worst Sins
In 1 Timothy 3:1-5 the apostle Paul gives a list of some of the most terrible sins including: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, traitorous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.”  Did you see that ungratefulness is listed in the middle of a list of horrible sins?

A Fruit of Character
What’s one of the first lessons good parents teach their children is to say? “Thank You”. It takes character and courage to admit being in debt to others. It is humbling. However, those who cannot admit their indebtedness to others cannot learn, nor can they seek forgiveness.

Maturity
Failure to express gratitude is more than immaturity and rudeness, it is ungodly. We are commanded to honour our parents, our elders and our leaders. It is a sign of maturity to acknowledge indebtedness.  Have you learned anything?  Then you’re in debt to somebody else, aren’t you?  We are all in debt, first, and mostly, to God Himself, for our life, health, food, talents, family, friends, opportunities and for our salvation itself. We are also in debt to past generations who have sacrificed for the freedoms we now enjoy: Reformers, martyrs, pioneers, missionaries, soldiers, parents, teachers, pastors and so many others have sacrificed for our benefit.
An Attitude of Entitlement
Instead of the Christian character of gratitude, our present culture prefers to promote an attitude of entitlement. This is the very opposite of gratitude. It builds on pride and covetousness. It is fuelled by bitterness, greed and envy. All too many in the present humanistic society take things for granted, demand to get, rather than seeking to give.  It is sheer wickedness, and is a sure road to being led astray by all sorts of empty promises and destructive ideas.

An Attitude of Gratitude
A grateful mind is a great mind. “Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt be worthy to receive greater.” Thomas a Kempis.  Start giving thanks to God and the humblest of servants like your garbage man for the little blessings in life.  Start today to write notes of sincere gratitude to people who have blessed you in any small way.  Ask God to guide your thoughts.  Partner with a friend to hold one another accountable in your new habit of expressing gratitude.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92:1-2.

Pride, Ingratitude and Unteachability
Those who do not take advice do not think they have anything to learn. They are often the same people who have a problem expressing a genuine heartfelt gratitude to others. It is a sign of pride to be ungrateful.  It reveals an unwillingness to acknowledge a debt to others.  By God’s grace, when we are humble enough to admit our wrong, He is powerful enough to enable us to change.  We can be a thankful person.

 

Let’s Make this season a Turning Point for expressing Thanks-giving.

List 7 things you are thankful for in your personal life today.

Call 2 people who you can honestly thank for something they contributed to your life.

Privately talk to God about the gratitude you have for His saving grace.

Take 2 minutes to begin pondering the incredible blessings you have to live now.

Promise yourself you will thank the next 10 people you encounter for something they did for you, even if it’s just a common courtesy.

The results of gratitude?

You will become healthier.  Recent studies suggest that gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and reduces inflammation in the body.  Grateful people are also more inclined to eat better and exercise which obviously increases your wellness.

You will become a more compassionate person.  When you make a routine of expressing gratitude to God and to others for tiny courtesies, you are looking beyond yourself.  You will be kinder.  You will be more forgiving. You will find joy in serving others and be willing to bear others’ burdens without expecting anything in return.

 

When you appreciate what you have, it’s impossible not to share it with others.  On the other hand, you can’t give something away when you’re empty yourself.  When you don’t know how rich you really are, you can’t take delight in sharing little insights with others.  The more aware and thankful we are of the good things in our lives, the more we are able to give to others.

 

Your relationships will deepen.  When you relate more gratefully to others you will draw closer and bond more deeply to the people in your life.  When you express gratitude to the people you love, you become more satisfied with your relationships.  You will reach out to others more easily.  You’ll be more generous.  You’ll be more forgiving and less judgmental.

A grateful heart is more content, more happy no matter what his circumstances are like.  And a happy heart focuses more on the really important joys of peace and little blessings that make life worthwhile.  That’s like a healing ointment to restore your health even when modern medicine can’t do it.

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done… Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:8,34.

The Real War is About to Be Fought

– Reclaiming Your Legacy show Nov. 15, 2016

trump-thumbs-up-winThe Thanksgiving of 2016 should be remembered as one of America’s most notable times to give thanks for a major deliverance that God has done.

But like the victory of the allies over the greatly oppressive empire of Japan in 1945, I will always remember the historic commentary about the plea of General Douglas McArthur after World War 2 ended.

Do you know what happened?

General MacArthur pleaded with America’s churches to send a thousand Christian missionaries to Japan.  Did they do it?  No.  The result?  Japan is now a secular nation, mostly hardened against the gospel and waiting for a new generation of deliverance from a different kind of tyrannical bondage than the tenacious emperor who commanded kamikaze allegiance by his zealous fighters.

When God used Joshua to lead the Israelites to victory over the Canaanites to take possession of the Promised Land they were given a job to do.  Remember? The individual tribes of Jacob’s family were given a province that they had to battle continuously in order to occupy their new home in freedom.  Because the valiant Israelite settlers of Canaan didn’t stick to the mission they were given, their children wound up tolerating the immoral lifestyle of the Canaanite idolaters they were supposed to overcome.

 

God prophesied through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 44 and 45 that He would raise up a “shepard” named Cyrus, who did not have a previous knowledge of the Lord, beside whom there is no other God.  That pagan king, was used by God to fulfill God’s purpose of restoring Jerusalem for the Israelite nation.

In our day, we must remind ourselves and the ignorant people around us that God is the sovereign King of kings who sets up kings and puts kings out.  And we dare not forget that the founders of the only nation in the world to experience the freedoms of peace to proclaim the kingdom of God like no other in history has placed the authority in “We the People.”

People might mistakenly think we are a democracy where the majority rules.  Let’s remember that we are a democratic Republic.  Decisions are not made by the majority.  They are made by the majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote.  That is an entirely different thing.

One of the great gifts this season that I am so thankful for is that enough freedom loving Christians took action and voted.  God allowed us to participate in the election of perhaps the only person on the political horizon who could actually be type of Cyrus the Great.  He has the skills that God has invested in him to create an environment in this amazing land of ours to bring healing to people in nations all over the world.

Voting is the only way we can elect freedom loving representatives to govern our nation.  Then we can confidently pray for our generation that the influence of the gospel of light and life and love and prosperity can bring the knowledge of our Savior to the remotest parts of creation.  It takes hard work to diligently elect the right peopleAnd that also means the right people have to be willing to sacrifice the conveniences of their life to represent the people.

Ref: http://theamericanrenewalproject.org/2016/11/engaged/

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Time to Be like Abraham for Such a Time as This

issachar-understood-the-timesIf ever there was a time when we needed leadership like the sons of Issachar in ancient Israel, it is now.  What was special about the sons of Issachar back in the days of King David, a thousand years before Christ’s time?  We read about them in 1 Chronicles 12:32.  “The sons of Issachar (were) men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.”

We may not see any explanation or have any historical knowledge about why these particular men of one of the tribes of Israel (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) were so gifted.  Yet our spiritually minded hearts can’t help but cry out for extraordinary wisdom when we are faced with such overwhelming challenges as a nation of people.  And let’s humbly recognize that just because we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, our Lord and King of kings, commands us to ‘disciple the nations.’  And frankly, the Bible makes it clear that that is a very big part of the legacy that our Creator wants us to reclaim. (more…)

Only an Informed and Involved People Can be Free

compass over mapHave you found yourself lately asking questions like, “How can people be so stupid?” or “How can some politicians make such foolish decisions?”

 

Have you talked to a government schooled 20-something lately?  Ever ask them some simple questions about geography, or history or the constitution?

 

What is the root cause of the destruction of even God’s own chosen people?

Hosea 4:6 says in the Bible, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”

… and that is the observation that potentially alerts us today to make choices to change the course of human events — away from ignorance and toward the knowledge of God and his laws.  That naturally leads to liberty, both personal and public, over time.

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A single Word to delete from your Vocabulary

ben-franklin-excuse-makingDo you want to make one of the most important decisions that can positively change your life starting today?  Could this make more of a difference in your future than almost anything else you can do?

I’m completely convinced that many of us and those around us are far more capable of being much more productive, more influential and happier than they ever dreamed.  Is it possible that just one word can ignite a beacon-light of hope for you today?  Is there a word that can make a 180 degree change in your future?

Just to rattle your cage a little, let me ask you something.  Do you want to completely sabotage your life, destroy your potential, and ultimately look back on a life of wasted years with intense regret? Of course you don’t. No one WANTS that. But for many people, their actions — and more importantly their attitude — are leading them down a road of self-destruction that will ultimately lead them to such an undesirable final destination.

That road’s name is “I Can’t Boulevard” and it’s full of millions upon millions of unsuccessful, complacent, and mediocrity-filled men and women.

Yes, many of these people are also good-hearted and well-meaning, but unfortunately they’re stuck in a big fat rut with their health, their body, their income, their marriage, their career, or their relationships. They are stuck because their attitude is so affected by the phrase, “I can’t”.

Have you ever heard self-defeating statements like:

I can’t achieve a body like that. I don’t have the genetics.

I can’t make a six figure salary. What skills do I have?

I can’t fix my marriage. It’s too far gone.

I can’t be an entrepreneur. That’s too risky.

I can’t be forgiven by God.  I’ve done too many bad things.

This negative “can’t do” mentality is holding them back.

As employees, when a problem arises, they’d rather tell you about every potential solution that WON’T work instead of spending their time focusing on finding the one solution that will work.

Whine.  Complain.  Negative thoughts.  Negative words.  Negative action.

Fact is, when it all boils down, how you handle the problems and obstacles that arise in your life will determine whether you excel and soar like an eagle, or if you remain grounded in a chicken coop full of other self-limiting thinkers.

You see, problems and obstacles are OPPORTUNITIES for leaders. Are you a leader? You can be a leader, if you learn to RESPOND like a leader.

Leaders fix problems. Leaders learn from problems. Leaders grow from problems. Leaders become BETTER LEADERS because of problems.

Will you chose excuse making or leading yourself to victory?

Other folks, however, let problems and obstacles consume them, control them, and serve as the fuel for rationalizing their many excuses.

“I can’t eat healthy while traveling. It’s too hard.”

Yes you can. FIGURE. IT. OUT. Thousands of people do it (while hundreds of thousands don’t). What separates the few from the many? Simple. You can’t just “wing it” and hope it all goes well. Of course, if you do that, you’re going to fail. You have to have a plan – a plan for success – and you need to map it out in advance. Know where you’ll be and when you’ll be there.  Create options for success.  Creating a plan is creating a blueprint to solve your problems.

“My spouse and I can’t get along. My marriage is going down the tubes.”

Start with yourself and change the things about YOU that cause your spouse to react negatively to you. If you deal with the needs of your spouse, you will automatically have a much happier relationship and in turn you’ll find that conflict becomes less frequent. But, that’ll never happen as long as you’re pointing fingers in any direction other than back at yourself. Before long, once they see your changes, your spouse will also want to change to please you. Why? Because the relationship now becomes one of meeting each other’s needs again.  Isn’t that the way it once was?  I guess most relationships begin in a place of mutual admiration don’t they?   The first step begins with you; your spouse will follow.

“I can’t have a successful business. I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

FIND OUT WHERE TO START. What does that even mean? Do you think anyone who has a successful business magically knew where to start? No, they didn’t. Talk to people who have done what you want to do. Hire a coach. Get the support you need to succeed. OR, just stop being negative long enough to do a little research on your own. That’s where you start. (more…)

The Platinum Rule

The Platinum Rule is the Golden Rule going the ‘extra mile’ - by Dennis Petersen

Ziglar quote help enough peopleSatisfying your own desire ultimately comes down to helping others reach their goals.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will *pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38

The ‘golden rule’ preached by Jesus is commonly known as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Right?  So what is the ‘platinum rule?’

Well, what if the other person isn’t interested in what would make you happy?  Doing what you like for them might be a complete waste of time.  How are you going to find out about how to treat them?

Whose goals govern your actions?

When you decide what you want – what your goal is – your next step is to find out who you can help in reaching their goals.  Their goals might compliment your goals or they might not do a thing for your goals.  All that matters is that you selflessly grasp the eternal principle that is built by design into this universe: the key to accomplishing your desire is to find others to help in reaching their desires.

Remember the universal law of sowing and reaping?

 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7

Imagine sowing helpful and empowering insights and strengths into the lives of others without primarily thinking, “What’s in it for me?”  Yes, I know, we are all wired to think about ourselves all the time.  Just watch a child for awhile.  Listen to ‘em whine about getting their way.  How many full grown adults live in a constant state of thinking about themselves, about their needs, their worries, their priorities… without much thought about others at all?

 “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:4

Imagine how refreshing it would be to be surrounded by people who really think like that and live that way.

How would you like to work for a company where that is the resounding mission that resonates from every coworker?  How would you like to have a church family where that is the conviction of every leader and every parishioner?   How would you like a community where that is the code of ethics practiced by all your neighbors?  How would you like a family where that is the lifestyle from morning until bedtime?  How would you like to be the embodiment of that concept and begin a complete reformation of your culture?  Imagine… thoughtfully and intentionally helping people reach their goals.  What a relationship-building concept.  And it all starts with you.

“And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”   Isaiah 58:11

Sounds like a pretty good result doesn’t it?  Who wouldn’t want that for themselves?  So, how does this manifest?  Check out the verse immediately preceding that promise.  Like most promises from God, there is a condition… it starts with the little word “if.”

 “And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.”   Isaiah 58:10

But a charitable attitude is something you can have toward not only destitute people.  Why not have that attitude toward those we interact with on a daily basis?

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.”  Romans 14:19

Sowing and reaping

It’s as obvious as any law of nature that serves to guide our own actions in almost every area of life we can think about.  As we sow, so then shall we also reap. That’s something you can truly have faith in because the Creator built it into the fabric of our experience.  It’s an unchangeable law decreed in heaven.  It guarantees that for every deliberate human effort we will receive a multiple reward. For each handful of seeds planted, a bushel is reaped.  For every good idea shared with another, many more ideas will be given to us in return.  For every loving act of helpfulness, a life of love is harvested in return, and that translates into a life full of legacy.

Giving to the poor has certain results.

“You shall generously give to him (the poor), and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.”  Deuteronomy 15:10

Have you seen God’s promises to bless the “work of your hands?”

The work of your hands is the substance from which the Lord generates his blessing of increase.  And it’s not just about what you produce mechanically with your manual labor.  It is the promise for your productivity, your creativity, your profitability, your increase in wealth, your increase in the ability to provide for your needs and the needs of others.

“The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Deuteronomy 28:8

The outcome of tending to YOUR business?

 “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

 “In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.”  Proverbs 14:23

We all face a major challenge today.

Will we commit our ambition to grow up and stand up to learn how to positively overcome the challenges of a changing world or will we allow ourselves to be beaten and depressed into a state of complaining and bitterness as a victim of circumstances? (more…)