Archive for the ‘Character’ Category


4.  BE CAREFUL WHEN SELECTING YOUR FRIENDS

 This is very important.  Self image is heavily influenced by relationships so you need to select your relationships very carefully.  The company you keep has a dramatic effect on your self esteem and on your confidence. 

 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.” Parents tell their kids that all the time.  If you want to soar with the eagles, you can’t run with the turkeys.  You’ve got to select your friends wisely. They have a big influence on your life. 

 Charlie Brown is the world’s greatest loser.  It is very clear why he’s such a loser.  Lucy!  Lucy is always telling Charlie Brown what is wrong with him, why his idea is dumb.  In one cartoon she said, “You, Charlie Brown, are a foul ball in the line drive of life.  You stand in the shadow of your own goal post.  You are a miscue.  You are three putts on the eighteenth green.  You are a seven-ten split in the tenth frame. You’re a missed free throw, a called third strike.  You are a dropped rod and reel in the lake of life.  Do you understand me, Charlie Brown?  Have I made myself clear?”  With friends like Lucy, who needs enemies?

The Lucys in your life will damage your self- image with their insults and their put downs. This may sound negative but it would seem there are some people who see as their mission in life to put you down.  You can’t insulate yourself from these people but you can limit your exposure to them.  Choose the right friends.

5.  HAVE A PROPER FOCUS

If you want to be confident, you need to find a cause greater than being self-centered.  A worthy goal will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  Make something of your life.

Matthew 16:25-26 “For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it.  And anyone who loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be if a person gains the whole world, yet forfeits his own soul?”  Jesus is talking.  He’s saying we discover ourselves when we give ourselves away. 

Self confidence is definitely not self-centeredness.  There’s a difference.  Self centeredness leads to insecurity.  You need to be self confident without being self centered.  How do you do that?  You give your life away to a great cause, a great purpose.   

Invest your life.  Don’t waste it, don’t spend it.  Invest your life in a cause that is greater than yourself. 

6.  DEVELOP A DEEP TRUST IN GOD

 Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confdence.  He is like a tree planted along a river bank with roots reaching deep into the water, not bothered by the heat, nor worried by long months of drought it stays green and goes on producing fruit.” 

Life is difficult.  It’s tough.  This passage happens to mention two kinds of difficulties.  Heat and drought.  Heat, I think, are the sudden crises of life.  Heat comes on suddenly.  The accident.  The cancer.  The death.  Somebody walks out of your life.  The earthquake.  How do you handle it when the heat is on in your life?

Then there is drought.  Long periods of time when you must go without something you feel you need.  You’re out of work.  You’re out of income.  You’re out of energy.  You’re doing without.  How do you handle those kinds of things?   

Notice three words:  trust, hope, confidence.  He says “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence.”  He’s talking about a relationship with God.  When you trust in God, you’re having a relationship to God.  The result is you won’t be bothered by these things.

 This guy is like a tree and he keeps on blooming even in the middle of heat and in the middle of drought and the reason he is not bothered is that his roots go down into the Lord.  He has faith in God. 

 What is the source of your confidence?  Perhaps you are trusting in your career.  You’ve got it made, you’re on the fast track, things are going great.  When you’re hot, you’re hot!  But when you’re not, you’re not. 

To have unshakable confidence, you must put your confidence in something that can never, ever be taken from you.  And there’s only one thing that can never be taken from you, your relationship sith God through Jesus.  It can never be taken.

That’s how you grow in confidence.

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Self-Confidence, Krishnaymv's Photo, Flickr.comPeople with a high level of self confidence are more successful, are more satisfied with their lives, are more willing to help others in need, are physically healthier, hold themselves to higher moral and ethical standards, are more likely to assume leadership, have more satisfying relationship, are more productive, are less affected by stress, and are more likely to see God as caring, loving and forgiving.  Those are some of the traits I try to develop in myself and I suspect I’m not the only one.  Therefore I humbly submit my suggestions.  (From time to time I feel compelled to give this disclaimer: I milk a lot of cows to get a bucket full.)  

 1.  BE YOURSELF.

 That seems obvious but it’s rare because most people are busy trying to be somebody they’re not. 

I’ve met very few people who accept themselves.  Very few people who actually like the man or the woman in the mirror. I told someone the other day that I wanted to put a note on my mirror that reads, “Objects in this mirror are better looking than they appear,” especially first thing in the morning!

 I remember when I first starting out as a preacher.  I had no idea how to put a sermon together or how to deliver it.  There was a black preacher that I really liked to listen to named Tony Evans.  I transcribed three of his sermons and memorized them.  I then listened to them over and over trying to get to the point where I could deliver them just like Tony did them.  I wish you could have been in the audience.  It had to be funny listening to a white country boy trying to sound like a black preacher.  I’ll never forget my mom’s words, “Well son that was interesting.”  Not interesting like “riveting” but interesting like “strange.”

 My point is, you are going to have much more success in life if it is your life you are living out of rather than someone else’s.  Confidence is when you can say like Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:10 “By the grace of God I am what I am.”  If I remember correctly, Popeye might have said this also (which may be of no interest to you but I find rather intriguing).

 2.  AIM FOR PERSONAL EXCELLENCE.

 Do your best with what you have to work with.  Galatians 6:4 “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

 It’s more important to do your best than it is to be the best.  Not everybody can be the best.  Find the things you can be good at and specialize in them. 

 3.  DON’T DARE COMPARE.

 I’m not kidding myself.  I know how hard this is in this competitive society in which we live but when you compare, you put yourself on an emotional roller coaster.  One minute you are feeling good about yourself and then you start comparing and your confidence goes down the drain. 

 Psalm 73:2-3, David:  “I nearly lost my confidence because I was jealous.”  There is no habit as destructive to your self-image as comparing.  Every time you compare, you are putting yourself in the fertile soil of pride.  You can always find somebody you’re doing a better job than and you get full of pride — “I’m pretty good!” Or you find somebody who’s doing a better job and then you get bitter and discouraged.  Don’t compare.  Either way you get crushed!

 If you want to become a confident person, be yourself, aim for excellence, don’t dare compare.

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A poverty-stricken woman was found on Christmas Day eating a dinner that consisted of a piece of bread and a small fish. A visiting friend was pitying her because of her poverty.  The old woman with face aglow, replied, “Poverty? Dear heart, don’t you see that the Lord has created the land and sea to feed me this blessed Christmas Day?” This woman owned the earth, though she ate only bread and herring for Christmas dinner.

So where does that type of gratitude come from? Like any other attitude this one comes from what’s on the inside of a person.  So, what is on the inside of a person who has an attitude of gratitude? What’s in the heart and mind of a person that keeps overflowing in “thank-you’s” to people and to God for the gift of life? I know there are more but let me suggest a few that I’ve observed.

#1 There is an understanding that the doorway to gratitude does not hang on the hinge of good circumstances.

People with this attitude believe that it’s possible to do exactly what the Bible says: Give thanks in all circumstances [good, bad or ugly], for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

They don’t believe the lie that life has to be on the upswing before they can be satisfied. Even in the middle of the most difficult situations they truly believe they can find something to rejoice over.

I have a friend on Facebook named Kebo.  I kind of hope he doesn’t read this blog because I didn’t get permission to use him as an illustration.  Kebo is one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever met.  You never see him writing things like, “Ugh, it’s Monday again.”  He never uses one of those frowny colon-slash-opening parentheses icons.

I really look forward to reading Kebo’s posts on Facebook because they are always uplifting.  I want to be like him when I grow up. He seems to live with the attitude that he has everything he needs to be joyful regardless of the circumstances.

 Do you believe that about your life? That you have everything you need – right now – to be joyful? That’s the key to an attitude of gratitude.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about a Pollyanna approach that says “well, let’s just close our eyes and pretend that everything is ok even when it’s not.” I’m talking about a realistic approach that freely admits that “the situation is not good right now, but I can find something to appreciate about it, and I choose to make that my focus.”  I’m not saying this is an easy thing to do but it is the healthiest way to live.

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by Katie Buttons

Ok. That title is somewhat deceptive. In reality there is no gray area only true or false. But that is not how we think is it?

Good, God-fearing Christians know better than to out and out tell obvious, bold face lies. We don’t typically do it. However, we have invented an area of lying that is neither white nor black. It is gray. And if good, God-fearing Christian people are going to lie, we try to keep our lying within the boundaries of this gray area.  This most certainly is how I lie. Rarely do I tell big, black, blatant and obvious lies. However, I can be tempted to lie, which sometimes is called “spinning” the truth. Here are three examples of “Christian lying.”

  • Taking Away From the Truth: Truth is truth and to take away from the truth makes truth an untruth. If my family finds a Dunkin Donuts bag in my car and I tell them I went in to get a cup of coffee but leave out the part about the Blueberry Cake Donut, I have deceived. And to intentionally leave out parts of the truth, when we know better, many times is motivated by a desire to deceive. Altering the truth is a lie.
  • Adding To The Truth: To embellish is to lie. This is taking the truth and adding more to it than what the truth is. When a politician says, “The American people want______________” is embellishing because not every American person may want___________. To spin things for effect or to make yourself look better than you really are is a lie.
  • Avoiding The Truth: This is an evasive tactic. This is another temptation for me. When I’m pressed to tell someone my real sin issues I’m tempted to avoid the truth because I do not want them to know the real truth. I evade. I’m dishonest. I’m a liar. In this moment my self-righteousness kicks-in and I do whatever I need to do to avoid the truth. There is another word for presenting myself as better than I am: HYPOCRISY.

One final thought: Most of us are tempted to lie in this gray world of neither truth nor lying. But the truth is, lying is lying.

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The Bible gives us a five point pathway to freedom from those temptations that we struggle to defeat.  I encourage you to take a piece of paper and write in large, bold letter your area of weakness.  You probably already have it in mind or you wouldn’t be reading this.  The first step in the path to freedom is this…

 I.  KNOW YOUR TEMPTATION PROFILE.

 What do I mean by that?  Everyone has a unique profile in life.  You have a unique thumbprint, fingerprint, and palm print.  Your voice has a unique voice print.  I did not know this until recently but your heart has a unique heartbeat unlike any other heartbeat in the world.  You also have a unique temptation profile.  There are certain things that tempt you and certain things that don’t.  There are things that tempt other people but don’t tempt you.  There are some things that will make you stumble almost immediately and some things that don’t bother you at all.  And that’s unique. 

Satan is a profiler. He knows exactly what trips you up.  He knows exactly when, where and how and he’s always looking for a way to trip you up.  So it would be wise if you figure out your temptation profile. 

If you can figure out where you’re most likely to stumble then you can predict where that’s going to happen and you can plan in advance to avoid it.  So the starting point in breaking really ingrained bad habits in your life is to ask five questions:

            1.  When am I most tempted? 

I’m talking about the day of the week and the time of the day.  Which day of the week are you most tempted?  Are you most tempted to be depressed on Monday?  Are you most tempted to be lustful on Friday night?  Are you most tempted to be irresponsible on Saturday morning?  You should know the days of the week and what kinds of temptations get you on certain days. 

You should also know the time of the day you tend to be weakest with certain temptations.  Is it morning, early morning that you’re the most grumpy and grouchy and short tempered with people?  Is it mid morning?  Is it lunchtime?  Early afternoon, late afternoon, dinner time?  Is it early evening?  Is it after everybody’s gone to bed at night that you turn on that cable channel? 

In my case, when it comes to food, my worse time is after everyone else is in bed.  In those hours, when snacks arise, game-set-match to the enemy!  I can handle any diet until noon.  I can go without food until noon.  It doesn’t tempt me.  But the longer the day goes on the more I want to eat.  You need to know when you are most tempted.

            2.  Where am I most tempted?

Is it at work?  Is it in the kitchen?  Is it when you’re in a meeting with your boss and tempers are flaring?  Where are you most tempted?  Is it in front of a computer?  You need to not only know “When?”  You need to know “Where?”, and when you know when and where you can kind of avoid those places.

            3.  Who is with me when I am most tempted?

Some of you are most tempted when you’re alone.  But others of you, that’s not the problem.  You’re most tempted when you’re with all your buddies and they all want to do the wrong thing and you think, “I’ll just do it too.”  Some of you lose your temper with certain people – a child, a husband/wife, your boss, a co-worker.  Some of you are most tempted when you’re in a crowd of strangers and you think no one’s watching.  Some of you are most tempted when you’re at home with your family.  You need to know that so you can figure it out.

            4.  What temporary payoffs do I get when I give in? 

There’s always a payoff for giving in to temptation.  Nobody would do sin if it wasn’t for the payoff.  In fact the Bible even says so.  Hebrews 10:25, “There is pleasure in sin for a short time.”  Even the Bible says sin is fun.  If it were an electrical shock you wouldn’t want that.  But the fact is there is a payoff.  But it’s a temporary payoff.  There is pleasure for a short time.  There’s a kick then there’s a kickback.  

The problem with temptation isn’t that it’s not fun but it’s fleeting fun.  It’s temporary gratification with long term pain.  That’s the problem: temporary satisfaction but long term consequences.  So you need to think what is the payoff when I tend to fall in this habitual area that I’ve dealt with for years and years or maybe all my life.  Is it comfort that I feel?  Is it release that I feel?  Is it excitement that I feel?  Is it a false sense of confidence?   Why do I eat that extra donut?  Is it because you feel better about yourself when you do that?  You need to look at the payoff, what are the consequences (size 38 waist instead of 32!) or you’ll never be able to understand temptation.  And you’ll also know that when those things happen you’re getting ready for a temptation. 

            5. What are my emotional triggers?

Do you get tempted when you’re frustrated?  Do you get tempted when you feel lonely?  Do you get tempted when you feel unloved?  When you get depressed?  When you’re worn out?  When you’re weary?  You need to know the triggers that move you into temptation.  The truth is for some of you, you’re tempted when you’re bored.  You need to know the answer to “How do I feel right before I get tempted?”

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Do you ever wake up in the morning and think, “Today is going to be different, only to realize that by lunch you have fallen back into those same old ways of relating to people and those same old bad habits.  You feel like there’s a tug of war going on inside of you.  You feel like your life could be summed up in one word – disappointment.  I have tried everything from prayer, to resolutions, to self-help tapes and even hypnosis.  But you end up frustrated because you can’t seem to stop making the same mistakes? 

Have you ever felt that way?  The truth is good intentions are never good enough to change us.  It takes more than just desire to change.  If desire was all you needed to change I’d wear size medium shirts and size 32 waist pants right now but it takes more than desire and it takes more than good intentions to change. 

We get stuck in a cycle that goes like this: Good intentions – Failure – Guilt – Good intentions – Failure – Guilt – Good intentions – Failure – Guilt … and round and round and round the Merry-Go-Round we go!  We can all relate when Paul talks about this in Romans 7:  “I don’t understand myself at all for I really want to do what is right but I don’t do it.  Instead I do the very things I hate.”  He says, “All the things I want to do I end up not doing and all the things I know are wrong I end up doing.  I’m a mess”

If you’ve ever felt that way then you are going to be very thankful you found this blog this week.  This week I am going to share with you a plan that will help you defeat those stubborn, persistent, lifelong temptations that keep dragging you down.  Those struggles that no matter how much you’ve tried to stop, no matter how much you’ve tried to change they just keep coming back and coming back.  And you’ve struggled with them all your life.

The Bible gives us the pathway to freedom but before we look at this five point plan I am going to ask you to prepare the ground of your heart to receive them.  Sometimes we get so used to the Merry-Go-Round that we would rather stay in the cycle than risk what is outside the carnival of pain and slavery.  So today’s assignment is to:

  1. Ask yourself if where you are is where you want to spend the rest of your life.  Most people won’t risk change unless the pain of the present is greater than the fear of change.
  2. Pray that God would empower you to act on what you learn.  The power for change comes from the same One who supplies the power for salvation… God.  You say yes and He says let’s go!
  3. If you know of someone who is trapped in the cycle mentioned above, direct them to this blog this week.  Friends who care share (Hey, that’s pretty good.  I may have to share that again!).

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A third way you can create a significant life is…

3. Look for eternal significance in all you do.
Three brick-workers were asked what they were doing. One said, “I’m laying bricks.” Another said, “I’m making $17.50 an hour.” The third said, “I’m building a cathedral for the glory of God.” All three were doing the same job, yet all three had a different perspective about it.

The key to significance–to living a satisfying life without regrets–is in recognizing the eternal value of the little things you do.

Steve May, a pastor to whom I give much credit to for this series, punctuated this truth. He said a young widow told him “It was about a year after her husband, Tim, had passed away. She and her family were having Thanksgiving Dinner and everyone was saying what they were thankful for. Her 8-year-old son said ‘I’m thankful for the days that Dad went outside and played catch with me.’ The woman said, ‘Tim’s office was at the house. Whenever a client missed an appointment, he would take Michael outside to play catch. He did it to defuse his anger over the client missing a session; he had no idea he was creating a memory that would last a lifetime.’ Then she said, ‘If he had realized how significant it was, I’m sure he would have done it more often.'”

Every day matters, even the mundane, are filled with eternal significance. It may seem to us that we’re just killing time, but we could be strengthening the bond of a relationship. It may appear just small talk to us, but we could be saying something that will change someone’s life forever. We may think we’re just laying bricks, but we could be building a cathedral for the glory of God. Look for meaning in the little things.

We see this principle in the life of Christ again and again. He would be having a meal with a friend and turn it into a life-changing experience. He would be walking along the road with his disciples and see a tree, and teach his disciples a lesson in faith.

Do you want to create a life without regrets? Remember this: There are no throw-away moments. Every day matters. Look for the eternal significance in your work, your words, your relationships, and your actions.

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