Honor....what an interesting word!  In thinking about how to present this to you today, I had to put myself across the table from those that need this in their lives.  There are so many people out there that are living a life of dishonor right now because no one has ever shown them honor in their entire lives.  For whatever  reason, as they were learning to tie their shoes or comb their hair or brush their teeth, they were criticized for everything they attempted.   They watched their mom and dad fight and learned that being selfish was the way to get what you wanted.  As they grew into adulthood this lack of honor and respect carried over in their job, at church or in their home. 

Those that are raised with such self-deprecating circumstances become negative, hateful, selfish people unless they change the way they look at things or change the way they think.  First and foremost they must realize that they have self worth, regardless of what has been drummed into their hearts and minds over the years.  God loves them so much and doesn't want them to miss out on a life that is fulfilled and happy.  After they realize they are worthy of honor, they need to carry that over into their own lives and give honor where honor is due.

I think another word that is interchangable with honor is respect.  We are to respect and honor people, having the right attitudes and the right motives.  The Bible tells us that the way to a long life is to honor your parents. Exodus 20:12 says...“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."  That is pretty powerful!  Showing honor is important to God.  In 1Peter 2:17... "Show proper respect to everyone..."  There is a command to show respect or honor to everyone.  When you give respect or honor to other people, that honor that you have felt was missing your your life will be given to you.

The character of honor should become just a natural response to everyday events in your life.  Show honor to your boss and see what happens.  Show honor to your parents, not just because God commands it, but because you now understand that your life will be better.  They may not have been perfect (maybe even some far from it), but give them honor and I truly believe your attitude will change.

As a child, I was taught the meaning of obedience by my mom and dad.  I knew that if I "disobeyed", there would be consequences that I would not enjoy! 

At one of the churches where my dad was the pastor, we lived in the small parsonage beside the church.  My brother and I had instructions about running after church..."don't do it"!  We had to decide if the cost of disobedience was worth the consequences that would ensue because of it.  Well there were times when the temptation to run in and through the parked cars was just too inviting for us to just sit back and watch.  We just had to join the other kids knowing full well that when everyone was gone and we were in our home we would have a spanking to face.  That was the cost of not obeying our dad...a spanking. 

This wasn't just a spanking - this was a lesson taught.  Dad wanted us to trust that he knew what was best for us and we must obey his instructions, so that we wouldn't have to go through a bad time.  There was a possibility that we could have gotten hurt running through those cars after church. 

Now use this same information when thinking about trusting and obeying what God wants for us.  The words to the old hymn, "Trust and Obey" really puts it into perspective.  Listen to this song by a young guitar playing 16 year old girl, Sierra Hull and pay close attention to the words of the chorus.

"Trust and obey...for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus...but to trust and obey."  That is the secret to being happy.  It is a matter of trust followed by obedience.  As a child I had to trust that my dad knew what was best and by obeying, I was protected.  As an adult, I need to trust that my Heavenly Dad knows what is best and by obeying, my life can be full and happy.
How would your define Discretion?  If you don't know what it means, then how in the world can you develop that character in your life?  I looked the word up in three different sources and they all have something in common...you!  You are responsible for your good or bad judgement.  You have the power to make decisions in a responsible way or in a way that can be offensive to other people.  Take a look at these definitions and think about how you see the term discretion and if you think it is important to you.   Let me just say...it should be!
  • Webster's definition of Discretion is...the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment. 
  • Wikipedia says...Discretion is a noun in the English language with several meanings revolving around the judgment of the person exercising the characteristic.
  • The free on-line dictionary defines Discretion this way... Ability or power to decide responsibly or Freedom to act or judge on one's own: All the decisions were left to our discretion.
My definition would be somewhere in the area of being the type of person that can make on the spot decisions that require tact....sort of a common sense approach to social interactions. 

Sometimes a person should just leave well enough alone.  Why would it be important to others to share things about someone that could be damaging to their character or just them as human beings?  Let me give you an example of someone with no discretion... I get so aggravated when I read certain things on facebook or twitter where someone has appointed themselves both judge and jury on a particular situation/person.  Whether these statements are true or false is not even the issue...the issue is that the individual doing the sharing gives no thought or doesn't care about the consequences of their opinion.  They show NO discretion by just blurting out this all important judgmental rant.   Most of the time, I truly believe this is just an attention getter on their part...but come on...check your motives...is it worth hurting someone?

I may not be the best at this character of discretion as I should be, but by golly I'm going to try to be more discretionary about my comments and opinions before I share them.  Hope you will too!  Whew!  I'm done now!  LOL.

Philippians 2: 3-4 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Why would I use "The Thinker" as my photo for today's post?  Just asking this question should answer it for you!  You are having to think!  Being thoughtful doesn't just happen...it requires that you use your thought process.  The word thoughtful means that you have had to put some thought in what you do. 

When we are born, we are selfish.  Babies want their needs met at any cost.  When they are hungry...they want mom or dad to take care of that situation pronto.  When they are tired or sick, they expect their parents to do what it takes to make sure they get rest and medicine.  It doesn't matter if mom and dad are tired or sick - they have to meet the needs of their children.

There comes a point in our lives when we have to grow up and start "thinking" of other people.  We have to ultimately learn to put other people's needs before our own.  In the verse I shared in the start of this post, it clearly says that we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition.  We are to be concerned about other people and what they may or may not need.  Being thoughtful of others feelings and needs is a character we all should desire to acquire.  It may take some thinking on our part, but when you our kind and considerate with other folks...you will love the results. 

Make someone else's day brighter and you will feel good about your maturity of character.

We'll start off with defining Initiative.   Initiative is an introductory act or step; leading action: to take the initiative in making friends.

I've heard that word used before when talking about a lazy person.  "They have no initiative!"  The opposite of that would be like a good employee who notices things that need to be done and then has the initiative to get it done.  This is the kind of person I would want to work with at my job.  Having this characteristic is an encouragement for everyone that is around you.  The cartoon is really kind of sad when you think about it.  The employer is aggravated with his employee because he hasn't shown any initiative while the employee thinks he is doing the right thing by waiting on the boss to tell him exactly what to do. 

A good way to develop initiative at work and in your life is to set realistic goals that are reachable.  I love writing down those goals that I want to get finished every day.  It gives me joy to be able to highlight the things that are accomplished on the list.  When set those goals, you should be able to muster up the initiative needed to get bring them to fruition. 

The paralyzed man was thankful that the people he hung with had the initiative it took to take him to Jesus for healing.  They didn't just accept the situation that was presented to them, they took it a step further and put him through the roof of the house to get him to Jesus...1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Mark 2: 1-5 

That's the kind of friends I want in my life...friends with initiative.

1 Peter 3:8 "Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."

Be compassionate to others...even if you don't feel like it.  It could require that you even do something that you are uncomfortable doing.  Our instinct is to talk about someone's plight to others, instead of looking at it though the eyes of compassion.  I am so thankful that God in His wisdom decided to show compassion to me...even though I didn't deserve it, He still "loved".  Love should be the driving force that causes us to want only good for other people.  And when we see them going through some "stuff", have compassion...listen to them and help them during this difficult time.  A big part of having compassion is understanding why this individual is being a certain way.  I found this LONG quote below on the internet by Kate Swobada that says it much better than I could, simply titled "Love Letter to the World"...

We are called to Love Others...regardless of how they see things.  What matters is that we see them through compassion and  love that flows through us because of Christ.  As our pastor has said....love the "hell" out of them....literally!  The prince of this world is doing his work, so we need to do the work of God and love this influence out of their life and direct them to Christ.
Has there been times in your life when you just didn't think you could take another step?  Maybe you have just had one of those days when the kids, regardless of their age, have been so demanding they've worn you out.  Maybe you have been trying and trying to lose weight, and it just seems the more you exercise the more you want to eat.  Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with a deadly disease or one that would require surgery?  Quite possibly you are grieving over the loss of someone important in your life either through death or divorce.

These scenarios,  among others, are times when encouragement are needed.  I love the fact that God has blessed some folks with the ability to just know the right words to say to someone when they are in a place that seems so dark to them.  But regardless of whether we feel "gifted" or not, should not keep us from saying an encouraging word to someone. 

Being a Christian doesn't mean that there won't be a few valleys that we have to contend with...but that's the point, we contend with them and go on.  We don't stay there!  We get encouragement from the scriptures and promises that help us go on and believe that God has a plan in our lives...one that is bigger than this valley we are in.  When we do that, we can be in a position to walk alongside other people that are going through "stuff" and give them hope.

Does this mean we are always gonna be perky and smiling?  Probably not...well actually a good chance that we are not.  What it does mean is knowing that we have this relationship with Lord, and can pray to Him for strength, puts us in a great place for His blessings.  It puts us in a place of faith "Forsaking All I Trust Him".  It allows us to think of others in a kind and compassionate way so we can be a beacon of encouragement.

How is your ability to listen?  I must admit that mine sucks at times.  I sometimes get caught up in what I'm doing (typing on the computer) and then all of a sudden I realize that I've been saying uh huh without knowing what I'm saying uh huh to and then the question..."you know what I mean?" happens.  I have to say...could you start over?  Lordy!  Sorry Bobby :-)

I do know that when I look at the person that is talking and give them my full attention, they will open up and share more things than you ever wanted to know.  I've even had that happen in interviews, when I'm supposed to be questioned about my talents and abilities.  The tables are surprisingly turned and all of a sudden, the person interviewing me is telling me their life story.  It is interesting how that can happen when you really listen to someone...they want to share their heart with you.  Everyone has a desire to be heard.  When someone doesn't listen to you, the feeling wells up within you that...they do not care.  It is a lot like being loved...so we should really take listening to others seriously.

As a Christian, our foundation is the Lord and He equips us to help people with whatever they need.  Everyone has emotional, physical and spiritual needs...as Christians we should do what we can to meet those needs.  The first step in doing this is to be attentive to them as they share their heart with us. 

I realize that some folks talk just to hear themselves talk, but sometimes it is their way of just being heard!  They may have a complex because for some reason in their lives they were made to feel what they said just wasn't important.  We could try to help by listening to them, and then letting them know that they can get past those feelings of self loathing. 

My point is, everyone comes from a different place, but all have the same thing in common...the need to be heard!

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
Psalms 51:10

Purity begins in your thoughts...If you occupy yourself with unholy thoughts, you are not giving God the place that is due Him.  Remember the scripture that tells us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your strength"?  When you love the Lord with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your strength...how can impure thoughts ever be a part of your day?  Our desire should be to have a pure heart like what is described in Psalms and be steadfast in our pursuit of right living.  A heart full of sin has no room for purity.

I look at this field of lavender and I see peace, purity and tranquility. That is what God wants for us...keep our hearts and minds pure so that we can enjoy a life of peace and tranquility.  This doesn't put us above others, only means we are striving daily to keep our hearts pure so that we can be a light in our corner of the world.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11

Having a rough day?  Be content.  Kids misbehaving?  Be content.  Somebody else got the promotion?  Be content.  Left out?  Be content.  Notice that in all of these situations you find yourself in...you are to be content.  This means that because of the grace that has been shown to you through Jesus...you can be content in all circumstances.

Does this mean that we are to be satisfied and give up on dreams and getting that promotion or having a better day tomorrow?  Absolutely not...it just means that you are content with what you have, but desire more for your life.  Contentment is not meant to be used so that we "settle" for the way things are.  Contentment is being okay no matter how things are, because you have a relationship with the One who made the Universe.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10  Don't let the thief (whether is it your wants and desires or selfishness) steal your joy or your contentment.  Enjoy the life you have and live it to the full...be content.