The Rewards of Integrity

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age,” ~Titus 2:11-12

“You get what you pay for” is something we often hear or say when we are disappointed in something purchased inexpensively. Every now and again we find a real bargain, but when we fall for a sales pitch that promises the Golden Gate Bridge for the change in our pocket, we are in a sense trying to ‘get something for nothing.” Bottom line: things of value just don’t come cheap.

I’m not just talking about money. In our world, in our actions, we need to recognize that when we cut corners in our work, fudge on our taxes, act differently when no one is looking, gossip, neglect to pay our bills on time or take a longer break than we are supposed to, it’s like trying to ‘get something for nothing.’ We want to look like a good worker, an honest taxpayer, a conscientious citizen, a friend,–but we don’t want to pay the price. We want the real thing—integrity—but we don’t want to work for it.

It’s true that integrity takes time, effort, inconvenience, generosity, reliability, and more. But it is a thing of value. We have to work extra; it costs more, but it is to be cherished. When we have it we know that it is well worth the cost.

The good news is that it is never too late to develop this trait in our lives. We can attain it by simply doing the right thing. There are lots of examples of doing the right thing, and lots of ways to try to define it, but in the moment, we know what is right. If we don’t, we need to pay attention to what we are doing more closely and think about whether we would want the same treatment.

The more times we do the right thing, the easier it gets. As we grow in this area, we find that it feels good and right, we can be proud of our actions, and we find it easier to be patient and kind to others who are still trying to ‘get something for nothing.’

The Rewards of Integrity

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age,” ~Titus 2:11-12

“You get what you pay for” is something we often hear or say when we are disappointed in something purchased inexpensively. Every now and again we find a real bargain, but when we fall for a sales pitch that promises the Golden Gate Bridge for the change in our pocket, we are in a sense trying to “get something for nothing.” Bottom line: things of value just don’t come cheap.

I’m not just talking about money. In our world, in our actions, we need to recognize that when we cut corners in our work, fudge on our taxes, act differently when no one is looking, gossip, neglect to pay our bills on time or take a longer break than we are supposed to, it’s like trying to “get something for nothing.” We want to look like a good worker, an honest taxpayer, a conscientious citizen, a friend, but we don’t want to pay the price. We want the real thing—integrity—but we don’t want to work for it.

It’s true that integrity takes time, effort, inconvenience, generosity, reliability, and more. But it is a thing of value. We have to work extra; it costs more, but it is to be cherished. When we have it we know that it is well worth the cost.

The good news is that it is never too late to develop this trait in our lives. We can attain it by simply doing the right thing. There are lots of examples of doing the right thing, and lots of ways to try to define it, but in the moment, we know what is right. If we don’t, we need to pay attention to what we are doing more closely and think about whether we would want the same treatment.

The more times we do the right thing, the easier it gets. As we grow in this area, we find that it feels good and right, we can be proud of our actions, and we find it easier to be patient and kind to others who are still trying to “get something for nothing.”

-Julie McClure

Compassion–It’s More Than A Feeling

“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion.”
Luke 10: 27 and 33

In Luke 10, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan after someone asked him to define specifically what he meant when he said ‘neighbor’ in his statement about loving your neighbor as yourself. The story goes like this: A man was robbed, stripped, beaten severely and left to die. Before long a religious man came by, saw him and then passed by on the other side of the road to avoid him. Another religious man came by and did the same thing.

Finally, a man of Samaria came by. Jesus tells us that he felt compassion for the man; he bandaged his wounds, took him to get care, stayed with him overnight, and paid for his care.

This Samaritan felt compassion and proceeded to help this man as much as he could. He spent his time and money to help him. Notice that the feeling ‘compassion’ was followed by action. It didn’t matter that these men, under different circumstances may not have liked each other.

We show compassion by doing something. Listen to others and work to understand them, give an apology when it is called for, recognize that others have problems that aren’t shared with everyone, notice your own feelings and the feelings of others, stay far from gossip, and be friendly and helpful even when tired or carrying personal burdens.

The actions that accompany compassion can change your environment for the better whether it is at home, at work, or out shopping. We do not love our neighbor without being compassionate, and we cannot love God without loving our neighbor.

Father, show me who needs my compassion today. Help me to recognize the different ways I can make a difference to someone. Help me to be a blessing to those around me. Amen.

Patience: “But I Want My Way Now!”

“I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not be come desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little…” Exodus 23:29-30a

After the Israelite people were freed from slavery in Egypt, they began a journey to the land God promised them. They experienced miracles and saw God work in special, wonderful ways, like causing the Red Sea to part for them and giving them manna each day to eat.

Their goal was the Promised Land. They left the land of slavery; now it was time to look ahead, to focus on the bright future awaiting them.

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So what do you do on a cold, snowy day?

Wow! It’s cold outside, but at Oakview we’re snug and warm and enjoying fun indoor activities. Mrs. Faughn visits with her family; J.B. completes a huge puzzle, and Dot decides to sleep and let son Hank just wait until she’s ready to wake up!

Who Says Ordinary People Don’t Make a Difference?

We have had several engaging and enjoyable activities this month. Several groups have come by for caroling; we’ve had Christmas games and special meals, visits to see Christmas lights, and a Christmas party that ended with all our elders receiving presents which were supplied by local churches.

We can only try to conceive of Holy God’s love and grace as we contemplate the meaning of our Christmas holiday. Certainly we all know that shopping, parties, food, cards, presents, and Santa all point to celebration, but also stray from the magnificent beauty and wonder of the birth.

What went through the minds of the major characters of the Christmas night story? Mary and Joseph may have been discouraged as they left the gossipers behind and began their journey to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem they couldn’t find a place to stay. Did they wonder where God was and if they had somehow not heard from God correctly? Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1 shows that she was well versed in scripture, but did she know the prophet Micah’s words concerning Bethlehem? When a place to stay was finally secured, she gave birth. We all know something about birth. It is messy, difficult, scary, and infinitely joyous. Where were the angels when Mary and Joseph were deep in the nitty-gritty of life?

And then God spoke to the shepherds through His angels. The shepherds carried their experience of wonder straight to the Christ-child. God chose to use a whole new set of people to encourage and reaffirm His presence and love to Mary and Joseph (and the world)!

If we examine our own life experiences, we may notice that God directs us, then after the glow of His revelation to us has receded, we may have a time of testing as we are required to believe His direction. Finally, with love and grace, He encourages and reaffirms His presence often through unexpected sources.

I thank you, Father, that you sometimes reveal yourself through incredible experiences, but that you often use everyday people and events. Help us to look to You, to listen to you, and to be ever ready to hear your message to us.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. . .Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2: 8-9; 13-14

So What’s a Yoke Got to Do With Rest?

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and ‘you will find rest for your souls.’
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

For the past few weeks we have discussed ‘rest’ in our elder Bible study. The term sneaks up on you in several places in God’s word. We have been studying the Israelites who left slavery in Egypt and began their trek through the wilderness. They are told not to gather manna on the Sabbath, but to rest. God made provision for this rest by giving them double on the sixth day. God Himself rested after creating our world, and reminded the people when giving the Law in Exodus 20 that He blessed the Sabbath and made it holy. In Hebrews 4 the picture of ‘rest’ widens as Sabbath rest is presented and we are told that the person who enters God’s rest has rested from his works as God did from His.

In the passage from Matthew above, Jesus promised to give rest. Right off we see that this promise is given to those who are weary and heavy-laden. Their responsibility is to come to Him. Next He says to put on His yoke and learn from Him. He explains that He is gentle and humble in heart and then quotes a passage from the Old Testament that promises ‘rest for your souls.’

So how does this fit into our real lives today? We may find ourselves in a difficult place in life, and can be over-burdened because it feels permanent, like things will never change. But it is good to remember that we don’t have to live in this ‘weary and heavy-laden’ place’ all the time. God’s intention is for us to enjoy His rest.

So we step out; we go to Him. The act of going to Him can be as simple as a prayer in which we acknowledge that we are trusting Him with our burden. We take His yoke as we learn from Him. We see that in the midst of our burden, our heavy weight, our seemingly out-of-control situation, He wants us to learn from Him. Not from our best friend, or Facebook, or some troubleshooting life guide, but from Him. He will teach us as we take the step to come to Him.

In this journey, we learn the importance of humility and gentleness. How often do we react to hard times with anger, rage, or an all-out effort to get our self out of this difficulty no matter what. We work feverishly to ‘take the bull by the horns’ and clean up our mess. But Jesus tells us that in the process of learning humility and gentleness, we will find rest for our souls.

Then comes the beautiful conclusion: For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. We do not have to live with the weight of our circumstances bearing down on us. We still have difficult circumstances and challenges; unpaid bills, an impending divorce, a drug habit, a sick child. But the weight is lifted. Jesus doesn’t say here that He will take away all burdens in life, but He does promise us that our burdens will be light because He is doing the muscle work.

~Chaplain Julie McClure

A Way in the Wilderness of Life

We all know the adage, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Actually, the idea promoted in this saying is Biblical.

Sometimes when we hear a wise quip we have an “A-ha moment,” but how often does that moment change our lives? Aphorisms can be meaningful, but they lack power to transform us. On the other hand, God’s word “is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) (NASB)

God wants us to begin each day anew; He does not want us to be defeated by past mistakes, but to look to Him to see what He wants to do in our lives and to know that He is ever ready to change us in miraculous ways.

Let us meditate on the incredible promises of God in Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV):

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

-Julie McClure

Oakview’s Awesome CNAs

oakview cnas

The photo above is from our Blessing of the Hands ceremony.

 

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
~Romans 12: 10-11

As I reflect on our CNAs during this week of remembering them, I am blessed with thoughts of our CNAs faces; faces of joy, love, compassion, humor, and dedication.

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Remember

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten” (Exodus 13:3).

Last week in our Elder Bible Study we studied Exodus 13. In these words of God to Moses and the people, He details to them how important it is to remember His great works. They are given specific instructions to memorialize his works and told to pass this on through the generations.

I am reminded of how small children can get stuck saying “Why?” over and over. They want to understand, and will just keep on until they are satisfied. God tells the people in verse 14 “And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.’”

Our great and awesome God did a stupendous work when He brought these people out of slavery, out of the land of Egypt. From plagues to plundering the Egyptians, it was all incredible. So why would God stress remembering? How could they not remember?

In fact it is very easy to forget. God knows our frailties. Remembering is one of them, so He lays out a ritual to be repeated over and over, to help them remember. We have to actively pursue remembering. Hebrews 2:1 expresses the concept this way: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” If we don’t work at remembering God’s work, even His blessings in our own lives, we will drift away from it, it won’t be an active part of our lives.

This month, people all over the United States worshipped our God with prayer on the National Day of Prayer. We sought to remember our God who loves us and works for us with His powerful right hand. Let us work at, be diligent to, remember our God, His great works, His power, His love for us.

Here at Oakview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, we had prayers from local church leaders, a stakeholder, and an elder. It was good to raise our prayers in fellowship with each other.

In addition, the next day we celebrated Derby Day with a worm race!