Miller Motorsports Park
April 28, 2012
“Word(s) Of Life”
Would you like to know the Word that has “haunted” me all my life?
Seriously, it is a word that was ground, imbedded, and drummed into me growing up …and sticks with me still today …and will demand my attention all the days of my life.
My Dad was all about INTEGRITY; and throughout my formative years and my teens I was held up to this standard. By the time I arrived in the Air Force it was driving me, however in the Air Force, it became reality as I learned the difference between the simple and making really hard choices that held a tough price tag to hold onto your integrity. I learned lessons where “doing it by the book” was not necessarily keeping my integrity, but only doing what everyone “said” was right. Bucking the system both made me a hero to some people like pilots and flight crews but a rebellious brigand to others. These pilots and crewmen needed someone that would “stick up for them” and make sure they had to best equipment to work with. People are the same today. The world looks for people that will stick up for them. But I found out the hard way that I still had a lot to learn in the area of integrity!
Out there on the race track drivers are looking for a “Spotter” that will stick up for them in the Spotter Stand as well as a Crew Chief. That’s expected as part of their roles. Back in “the day” we didn’t have Spotters like today, just hand signals and a Pit Board and Drivers were far more on their own. Defending the driver fell far more to the Crew Chief and Car Owner.
Look at the definition of integrity:
Today’s Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
“A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility”
Someone said: “Integrity is something you do when no one is watching.”
Noah Webster’s 1828 Original Dictionary Definition:
“Integrity: The entire, unimpaired state of the mind; moral soundness or purity; incorruptness; uprightness; honesty. Integrity comprehends the whole moral character, but has a special reference to uprightness in mutual dealings, transfers of property, and agencies for others.”
So, what does scripture say about integrity?
Exodus 18:21 (GBB)
“You need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, who can be trusted and who cannot be bribed and appoint them as leaders.”
Here’s what Job says in Job 27:3-6 (GBB)
“For as long as I draw breath, and for as long as God breathes life into me, I refuse to say one word that isn’t true. I refuse to confess to any charge that’s false, say anything wicked, or tell a lie. There is no way I’ll ever agree to your accusations. I’ll not deny my integrity even if it costs me my life. I’m holding fast to my integrity and not loosening my grip— and, believe me, I’ll never regret it. My conscience is clear.”
These days’ men or women like this are rare. All we have to do is look around, turn on the TV, look at our government, those in authority over us, and unfortunately all too many TV Evangelists. We see people who have not made sure there is integrity built solid in the forefront of their lives. The results: …it embarrasses us! Sometimes, pending the person involved, I even feel that I need to defend God, although He has absolutely no need for that, especially by me! However, God does say that we are to be a reflection of Him in this world.
So where do you wonder where my biggest struggle is still today? That, unfortunately is still pretty easy to think of. I don’t have to go too far to answer this. Simply put me into the category of keeping me under the speed limit! Sure, I have gotten far better today, but I will still …just like a driver on pit road, …press the speed limit for all I can get away with; so I will go after that 5% grace. Okay, maybe that might be okay, but is it really integrity? Like I said …what do you do when nobody is looking?
Probably the other one is simply a bad attitude. These days I have to stay away from the political news, government dealings, military decisions affecting our troops, and events that tend to stretch my patience with seemingly stupid things that happen to me. Fortunately, God graced me with a wonderful wife Kathy that keeps me in line with things like “stop complaining about them and pray for them with all that energy!” When you talk about stupid happenings I have to smile about my daughter Sarah and remember about a year ago when a new gas attendant at Costco gave me a whole bunch of trouble over my debit card at the gas pump by attempting to tell me that Costco doesn’t accept that card (which I have always used there since the Costco opened). At the time I was tired, back pain awful, and frazzled at the events of the day and got into his face to let me try my card. Over my shoulder, I heard my daughter say ‘Papa, stop that! Walk away and get gas somewhere else. You always taught me to let it go and let God deal with it.” Her response immediately had my attention and I got in my car and drove away. Interestingly, the next time I came to get gas a friend that works there told me that Costco fired that guy that very first night! And, oh yes, my card still works as usual.
Talking on a topic like this among people who know you pretty well and who observe you in all kinds of situations (like a race track) makes you wince. …that is until God asks you to bring it up …& so here we are today! I am wincing, because I am certainly not perfect.
The issue at hand here quickly becomes the fact that the only Jesus who the world, or people around us, might ever get to see may be us! You see everyone in the world desperately needs “something” but they are not sure just what that “something” is.
What I love about God is that He fills that “something” in a way that no other “something” can fill it, and when He is in your life you absolutely know it. He takes us; and because He made us, He makes us the best “that” …that we can be! I love knowing that, …but it is important to know that only WE can build integrity into our life.
Personally, I want to live my life that at any memorial my family might have, people won’t have to lie about me to say something truthful. But, I know me and I know I am not that good. That’s why I know I must work on this so that I am not an embarrassment or disappointment to my God, my family, or the people like you that I have the honor to serve or influence. My race career and some of my early life leaves a lot to make up for to get on the positive side of this.
Fortunately, God’s pleasure through the Holy Spirit is to create within us something that is better than we can ever create on our own. When you can get by with something else, and you choose to do something else instead, that is integrity!
The Bible is full of examples of people of integrity. Were they perfect? Absolutely not! Not anymore than you or me. God exposed their failures as He will ours!
- What made them fantastic was their ability to say yes to God.
- And what makes you and me fantastic is our ability to say yes to God.
- That is what makes you someone that people want to follow …and in both our lines of work out here on this race track, …this is exactly what is important.
Look at the first verse of chapter 12 which follows Hebrews 11 where the heroes of the faith are listed. It says: “All these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans are cheering us on, so we’d better get on with it! …hold to your integrity and keep your eyes on the victory! (GBB)
However, if you go beyond just what is written there and back to the story of their lives in the Old Testament you can see bold differences between some of them and others.
Take Samuel and Samson for example. Both men made it into Hebrews 11, or God’s Hall of Faith/Fame.
- Both were supernaturally born of barren women who ask God for His blessing to have a child.
- Both men were born into a generation of time in history where there desperately needed to be a revival and rescue of the nation from enemies’ hands.
- Both men led the Israelite nation as Judges before God gave into their demands for a king to be like all the other nations had instead of a Judge appointed by God.
However, that is where similarities ended. Their lives were far different.
Look at 1 Samuel 12: 1-5 where at the end of Samuel’s life he addresses the people:
“Samuel addressed all Israel: “I’ve listened to everything you’ve said to me, listened carefully to every word, and I’ve given you a king. See for yourself: Your king among you, leading you! But now look at me: I’m old and gray, and my sons are still here. I’ve led you faithfully from my youth until this very day. Look at me! Do you have any complaints to bring before God and his anointed? Have I ever stolen so much as an ox or a donkey? Have I ever taken advantage of you or exploited you? Have I ever taken a bribe or played fast and loose with the law? Bring your complaint and I’ll make it right.”
“Oh no,” they said, “never. You’ve never done any of that—never abused us, never lined your own pockets.”
“That settles it then,” said Samuel. “God is witness, and his anointed is witness that you find nothing against me—no faults, no complaints.” (GBB)
Samuel led a life of integrity, and nobody had to lie at his memorial service. He lived his life the same in private or around everyone. One thing for sure, we may hide from the public, but sooner or later things always come out around those who know you best. That’s a fact of life, period. It’s also God’s way to perfecting our character.
Now, on the other hand, Samson’s life was different. When we think about Samson the first thing things that come to mind are strength, long hair, he judged Israel, Delilah…
Despite their similarities Samson had some problems. Scriptures reveal more than thirty years of his life, and while ultimately he would end up with his head in Delilah’s lap, that wasn’t the beginning of his downfall. She wasn’t his first problem with women. The guy couldn’t keep his hormones in check! Here was this mighty anointed man of God with long hair that for some reason God decided to do something weird and strange with. God said that the length of his hair was directly tied to the amount of strength God would give him. You likely know the story from Sunday school where he killed dozens of Israel’s enemies at a time with his bare hands, bears and lions, and destroyed gates from city walls like kindling wood. If you have ever seen some of these walled cities in Europe like I have; these gates are enormous! And, he just didn’t rip them off; he carried them up mountains on his back!
But on the other side of the coin he lived a life of womanizing …from prostitutes to foreign women from enemy nations. He certainly knew God’s demands of not messing around in this area. So did his parents. They all knew the law of God clearly. At one point in Judges 14 he tells his parents to go down to the enemy Philistine camp and get him this particular woman for a wife …ignoring what was forbidden in Deuteronomy. (Even though this all played into God’s plan to punish the Philistines from the beginning. It still doesn’t negate the sin despite God knowing before time this would happen.)
Samson was God’s anointed and set apart from birth and although his parents protested, Samson wanted her and they got her. Judges 16 brings his activity with prostitutes and then with Delilah where his end begins as he falls to his own desires and to her wiles to obtain his secret for her leaders. In Judges 16:28 Samson, now hair cut off, weak, tortured and blinded, cries out to God to remember him and strengthen him one more time to avenge himself for his two eyes, which God does, …for it plays into His plan, and Samson destroys the coliseum and all the Philistine leadership and more than 3000 people. Yeah, it certainly got Samson into the Hall of Fame, but it was like a “hail Mary” …or one last shot. For some reason God honored him despite his disobedience. I really have to wonder about the judgments he made during his reign as Judge.
One classic note here is in verse 20. Look what it says:
Then she shouted, “Samson, the Philistines are on you!” He woke up, thinking, “I’ll go out, like always, and shake free.” He didn’t realize that God had abandoned him. (GBB)
Samson didn’t realize, or recognize, the anointing had left. That’s a big subject but for another time.
Just for the quick record …Anointing is a “churchy” word, but it is the missing piece from God that He gives us to accomplish what He asks us to do. A good example with a preacher is that no matter how excellent of a speaker a pastor is, it is that piece that God adds that makes what the pastor says believable; because it resonates in your heart and you say “I know Bob isn’t that good, but there is something about what he said.” That is God anointing His Word, not me. The anointing is what draws you and you hold onto.
THE POINT HERE IS …that there are things that can lull us to sleep that we don’t recognize when God’s anointing, OR …our integrity has left us. We can get so good at what we do and look so good at it that we forget and don’t continue to make choices that build into our lives the things that bring integrity …and keep the anointing.
THE 2ND POINT IS what could have been had Samson walked in integrity like Samuel did; …which was the difference.
Today it is easy to “look the part.” The world, TV, Hollywood, Government, and the pulpit are full of them, but the next thing you know the story is out and then it’s cover-up, back peddling, and all kinds of things to save their reputation and their little kingdom they have built to promote themselves, their fortunes, and their views on life.
You see we as Christians should be different from the world. God tells and expects us to “Be in the world, but not of the world.” In other words God is saying that as a reflection of God that we are displaying and there should be something different about us. If these guys were here today and both ministering everyone would be going to hear Samson speak, have the Samson T-Shirts, watch him on Ophra, Letterman, and all the talk shows. He would be intriguing despite anyone knowing what to do with him. But Samuel would be the unpopular one except for the wise.
Where does all this come down to with us today?
God gives us “Grace,” “Favor,” “Mercy,” “Gifting & Talents,” and “the Anointing,” which are all words of life, and we have discussed them in the past. The Anointing in fullest form is for another message; …next time.
…However, God does not give us Integrity.
…We have to CHOOSE to build that into our lives daily, choice by choice.
But if we DO NOT build Integrity into our life…
…sooner or later it will nullify the grace, the favor, the gifting, the anointing, in your life and leave you exposed and they will remember you for the stupid act …like putting your head in Delilah’s lap.
…they will remember you for the bad things.
…and even our kids will be affected by our failure, and they will be remembered in the same breath as us.
Friends, we HAVE to build integrity into our lives. There is an enemy that is out there seeking to rob, kill, and destroy each and every one of us. (John 10:10)
You can read about Samuel’s life. It’s all there to see.
- Samuel filled his life with a personal relationship with God.
- He studied God’s Word
- He had a prayer life
- He had accountability
- He served others
- He was tested in many trials of life
Samson on the other hand, in all recorded history of his life; never talks about the Word of God.
- He never is only shown to pray twice and then for his own need.
- He never showed accountability to anyone
- He never showed he could be corrected …not even by his parents
- He only served himself
- He never learned from his mistakes, which is maybe the saddest of all.
Hey, look …none of us are perfect. We all make dumb mistakes! But, it is what we do afterward
…So go to God, repent, say you’re sorry, make it right and move on.
…Yeah, there will be scars and marks, but they will certainly show and remind us where we do not want to go again! It will become part of our integrity.
We have a good example in King David. God says that David was “A man after His own heart.”
…and that is AFTER he had murdered and been an adulterer!
…David humbled himself and went to God and even went so far to say: “if there be anything in me that displeases You Lord, bring it to my attention so that I may remove it from my life”
…David wanted to live up to his integrity and God, when He should have slapped David down, God instead gave David mercy, returned the anointing, blessed him, and continued David’s leadership role in even greater days.
That is the result of integrity!
I don’t know about you, but THAT is what I want to be remembered for in my life! …Integrity, like my dad worked so very hard to instill, and I followed suit with my daughters.
Don’t mistakenly feel that because God does great things in your life and through you that you are “the hottest thing going today,” …because let me remind you that God even used a donkey to speak to Balaam to change Balaam’s course and the whole nation in Numbers 22:29.
Stay humble, stay on course, grab onto God and His Word, build a prayer life, get intimate with Him, and “refuse to lose!” Head for the Checkered Flag …the REAL ONE, where God tells you as you stand before His throne …”Well Done Good And Faithful Servant!”
Certain Quotes by:
Lee McCloud, – The Oregon Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God
Bruce Stefanik – Senior Pastor – Church on the Hill, Salem, Oregon