Developing One’s ‘Character’

30 September 22

Most people say that to be a ‘good’ person, one needs to develop their CHARACTER. So, is there ‘Someone’ that can help one do this?

INTRODUCTION
Webster’s defines CHARACTER as the aggregate of distinctive attributes and conspicuous traits that make up and distinguish an individual. Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden defined it a bit differently: “Your reputation is what you’re perceived to be; your character is what you really are.”

[ VIDEO: “True Success – John Wooden” ]

Coach Wooden had another quote about character that is insightful: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”  Now, I’m thinking that most of us would agree with that sentiment, but how many of us, if we are honest, actually ‘live’ this out?

Now, while I’m not one to argue with the brilliance of Coach Wooden—especially as a basketball coach—it seems to me that people’s ‘real’ character is tested more when everyone IS watching, and it is in that environment that people fail the test of ‘true’ character.

Scrutiny of what we do in private is hardly scrutiny at all. Although most of us who make difficult decisions in our ‘hidden’ world often make wise choices, how do those positions—one’s character—hold up when confronted in the ‘real world’, with real people in real situations?

So, perhaps character is better defined by what you do when ‘everyone’ IS watching, just as much as it is when no one is watching.


<<< SUMMARY >>>

The following is a collection of ‘snippets’ from the post that aims to give you the overall ‘jest’ of this post.
[ 10-15 Minute Read ].


REVEALING A CHARACTER IN ‘STORYTELLING’
So, of course, it is always easier to find fault in another than it is to see it in ourselves. It is also even easier to see character traits in someone else when one is totally ‘divorced’ relationally—when that person is being portrayed in a book or a movie screen—and the person’s character is revealed piece-by-piece as the story develops.

So, whether it’s an author writing a novel or a screenwriter creating a feature-length film, ‘characterization’ is a vital tool that helps your fictional characters feel like living, breathing people. Use these characterization examples to add depth and substance to your own writing.

‘Characterization’ is the way that a writer communicates a character’s traits to the reader. It can either be ‘direct’ characterization, where the author uses statements to tell the readers exactly who they ‘ARE’, or ‘indirect’ characterization, where the writer suggests to the readers what the character is like by describing the way the character ‘ACTS’.

Good characterization is crucial to any novel or film, because it allows writers to ‘paint’ compelling portraits of their fictional characters as real people. Each character needs to feel realistic enough to the audience so that they care about what happens to them. That’s what keeps the audience wanting more.
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‘CAST’ OF CHARACTERS
Stories need characters. What the characters do creates the plot. With a well-rounded cast of characters, the plot will almost take care of itself. A story gets energy from the dynamic that occurs between the all the characters in it. The interaction between the characters is fueled by contrast, motivations, and conflict. Put a bunch of characters in a room—i.e. on a stage, between the covers of a book, between the first and last shots of a movie—and the plot is likely to emerge on its own. As long as there are contrasts between the characters and their motivations, conflict will arise.

So then, how does a writer ‘cast’ the characters that bring the story to life? Well, first of all, one character is rarely enough. Almost all stories need several characters. (Even Robinson Crusoe couldn’t hold out alone.) So, it’s the ‘interplay’ between characters that creates interest. For interplay, read ‘conflict’.
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CHARACTER ‘DEVELOPMENT’
The character development in a story is vital for its success. After all, people love to rave about books not always because of the story itself but because of the characters they ‘fell in love’ with.

In fact, it is specifically because someone fell in love with the characters—and cares so much about them and their journey—that they are willing to follow them through the entirety of it.

So, the following are some of the major ‘topics’ writers use to accomplish character development in a way that will make the audience think about their characters as if they were ‘real’ people.
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CHARACTER ‘ROLES’
So, when it comes to developing a character, the writer has to understand which ‘ROLES’ of character they are going to develop. These are the most ‘popular’ roles of characters:

– Protagonist
– Antagonist
– Deuteragonist
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‘TYPES’ OF CHARACTERS
Unlike the character roles just discussed, there are various ‘TYPES’ for each character that can be applied to any role.

These are more like ‘frameworks’ that you can use to build up a cast of characters. They generally include the following:

– Dynamic Characters
– Static Characters
– Symbolic Characters
– Stock Characters

Though you can apply at least one of these to almost any character role (yes, even the protagonist can be static under the right circumstances), it’s important to have an understanding of each of them.
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‘SHAPING’ A CHARACTER
So, now that the writer knows the ‘role’ and the ‘type’ of character they will be focusing on, let me dive deeper into the character development methods the writer can use.

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[ Chart: Character “Arc” Example ]

Therefore, during the character development, the writer will ask themselves some questions in order to create lifelike and realistic personalities for their characters. Here are 50 ‘typical’ character development questions to ask (Provided by Bella Rose Pope):
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‘BACKSTORY’
So, as mentioned, one of the major ‘elements’ in creating a story is the ‘backstory’ of the characters, and to make a character’s backstory feel real, many ‘branches’ of a person’s life and history are needed: Physical health; Psychological health; Economic means; etc. Then, one needs to explain how each of these elements shaped the person’s life.

Character ‘development’ is a vital aspect of a believable story. When characters are one-dimensional and predictable, they are hard to believe. We are all ‘products’ of both nature (ingrained personality traits) and nurture (our past experience and how we respond to it), so writers use these things to ‘flesh out’ their characters.
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USING ‘INTERNAL’ CONFLICT
Conflict creates tension while providing opportunities for characters to ‘grow’ and mature as they navigate their character ‘arcs’—just like conflict does in one’s real life.

However, some of the most compelling conflict doesn’t come from an external source. Rather, it comes from ‘within’ the character. These character versus self struggles include cognitive dissonance—having things at odds with each other.

Competing desires, moral quandaries, mental health battles, insecurity, confusion, and self-doubt—‘internal’ conflict—haunts the character because it affects not only how they see themselves, but it also alters their future and often the lives of the people they care about. They carry a ‘weightiness’ that can’t be easily set aside.

Internal conflict is critical for helping characters acknowledge habits that hold them back. Without that soul-cleansing ‘tug-of-war’, the Grinch would have stolen Christmas! ;^D
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USING ‘CRISIS’
In the writing community, probably the most utilized conflict is a ‘crisis’ (also known as a “dilemma”). It happens when a character has to choose between two opposing things—and they can’t have both at the same time.

There are two ‘types’ of crises that are used most of the time:

– The Best Bad Choice
The character has to choose between two negative options.

– Irreconcilable Goods
The character has to choose between two positive options.

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The crisis is a moment where the writer lays out the current ‘roadblock’—and the directions the story could go—depending on what the character chooses. What the character selects will then reveal a lot about them. In fact, a crisis is one of the most effective ways to reveal true character (as it does in real life). [ Note: When Bilbo accepts Gandalf’s invitation, it reveals that he would ultimately rather risk danger and death to experience the adventure. ]
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‘SHOWING’ CHARACTER
There is an axiom that says we have three ‘faces’. The first face, you show to the world, the second face, you show to your close friends and one’s family, and the third face, is never shown to anyone, since it is the truest reflection of who one is.

So, when the writer has the character meet people, strangers or an acquaintance, they make them put on their best impression (which can result in the character acting differently than how they normally would). Whereas when the character meets with ones they trust and love, the writer can show the more ‘genuine’ side of their personality that appears when they are around those they are comfortable with. However, there may be times when the writer needs to show the deeply personal and secretive side of the character that they only share with themselves—the ‘truest’ representation of themselves.
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CHARACTER ‘TRAITS’
Character refers to the sum of an individual’s qualities and characteristics which differentiate them from others. An individual’s character is actually an amalgamation of their qualities—or ‘traits’—which make them unique and helps them stand apart from the rest. So, the writer needs to develop the character’s ‘inner self’.

Character traits are valued aspects of a person’s behavior and everyone has them, both good and bad. Some character traits reveal positive aspects of a person’s underlying values or beliefs, like some of the following examples:
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DEVELOPING ONE’S ‘REAL-LIFE’ CHARACTER
So, as was mentioned numerous times already, the really ‘believable’—and most ‘loved’—characters in a novel or a film VERY CLOSELY reflect a person in ‘real-life’ since we can relate to them and the ’issues’ they have to respond to.

As mentioned previously, one’s character is the aggregate of distinctive attributes and conspicuous traits that make up and distinguish an individual. So then, what character traits are considered ‘good’, and how can one develop them?

Well, Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Character is who you ARE at your very ‘core’ of your being. It is all the values and beliefs you hold dear in your ‘heart’—the person you are when you are alone (the third ‘face’ of that axiom previously mentioned). So then, what are the ‘key’ values one should focus on developing?
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‘WAYS’ FOR DEVELOPING CHARACTER
We are NOT born with the qualities that make up our character. Character develops as one goes through their life, enjoying different experiences and strengthening their character if they choose to.

Here are some ‘WAYS’ you can develop your character:
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FORMING ‘GOOD’ CHARACTER
Character cannot be separated from the person. To be of good character means that one’s habits, actions, and emotional responses all are united and directed toward the moral and the good. That is to say, public actions cannot be separated from private actions. Both sets of actions affect one’s character, and moral character is formed by one’s actions.

Not only do actions reflect the goodness or badness of one’s character, one’s actions also change one’s character. The more one does an immoral action or recommends an immoral action for others, the more it becomes part of one’s character to be the type of person who condones that immoral action. In order to be of good character one must not only know and desire the good, one must also pursue it in both private and public actions. Virtue is an aid in this. It is the act of good character.
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– PRUDENCE
So, it is said that the MOST ‘IMPORTANT’ of the virtues is prudence—good character and moral action depend on it. Prudence is ‘right judgment’ in moral matters.

Prudence is so important since it ‘governs’ all the other virtues. If one chooses to learn from their mistakes, learn from others, and patiently consider their choices, before you know it, they will be well on their way to prudent and wise life.

Now, this is not some stiff, formal ‘conformity’ to convention or rule. It is excellence and strength of character involving a disposition and readiness to act with intelligent love in pursuit of real ‘good’ and successful resistance to the ultimately unreasonable lure of bad options.

As St. Aquinas said: “Prudence is the knowledge of what to seek and what to avoid.” It is the virtue “which perfects the reason [and] surpasses in goodness the other moral virtues which perfect the appetitive power” (St. Aquinas). The more prudence one has, the more one judges correctly the right action to take.
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– INTEGRITY
Author C.S. Lewis once said that, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” Integrity is a ‘FOUNDATIONAL’ moral virtue, and the ‘BEDROCK’ upon which good character is built.

Acting with integrity means understanding, accepting, and choosing to live in accordance with one’s principles, which include honesty, fairness, and decency. A person of integrity will consistently demonstrate good character by being free of corruption and hypocrisy.

Integrity is revealed when people act virtuously regardless of circumstance or consequences. This often requires moral courage. Indeed, integrity is the critical connection between ethics and moral action.
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‘SITUATIONS’ THAT DEMONSTRATE CHARACTER
So then, how does one know how their character growth is really doing? Well, this is important to know because character trumps one’s ‘gifting’. (The headlines are littered with gifted people whose character—or lack of it—caused their downfall.) One’s ‘competency’ will take them only as far as their character will sustain them.

The thing is, one’s character is not just revealed in their ‘best’ moments. It often ‘breaks out’ in moments of anxiety and struggle.

So, if you want to know how your character is really doing, consider checking yourself by following these everyday moments that we all encounter.
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CIRCUMSTANCES
Ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said that, “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

Observing a person in a challenging situation or circumstance will manifest much about who they are deep, deep inside themselves, and what they will likely do in related situations in the future. So, at one’s ‘core’ is the center of strength and ability to do what is right, under pressure or even when no one is looking—one’s personal ‘integrity’.
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‘STRUGGLES’
Life is full of obstacles and the true personality test comes in the form of our response. How we handle our challenges will reveal our actual character. The true personal test comes in the form of our response to the struggle. How we handle our challenges will reveal our ‘actual’ character.

We all have something in our lives that is hard for us to get through. It is a part of being human. We may not get to choose the outcome but we have all the power to choose how we react to the experience. Without struggles, our character wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t be able to see what we are truly ‘made of’.
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REVEALING ‘ONE’S’ CHARACTER
Bookshelves are saturated with best-sellers about “life hacks,” “life design,” and promising everything from enhanced productivity to a healthier diet and huge fortunes. These guides vary in scientific accuracy, but they tend to depict habits as routines that follow a repeated sequence of behaviors into which we can intervene to set ourselves on a more desirable track.

The problem is that this account has been ‘bleached’ of much of its historical richness. Past behaviorists defined habits in a narrow, individualistic sense. They believed that people were conditioned to respond automatically to certain cues, which produced repeated cycles of action and reward.
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‘ANALYZING’ CHARACTER TRAITS
While character and personality are both used to describe someone’s behaviors, the two examine different aspects of that individual. One’s personality is more ‘blatantly’ visible, while one’s character is revealed over time, through varying situations.

In more concrete terms, personality is easy to read, and we all do it. We judge people as funny, extroverted, energetic, optimistic, confident, overly serious, lazy, negative, and shy—if not upon first meeting them, then shortly thereafter (though we may need more than one interaction to confirm the presence of these traits in them).

Founder and Chief Medical Officer of ImagineMD, Alex Lickerman, said that, “Character, on the other hand, takes far longer to puzzle out. It includes traits that reveal themselves only in specific—and often uncommon—circumstances, traits like honesty, virtue, and kindliness.”

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[ Charts: “O.C.E.A.N.” ]

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‘JUDGING’ ONE’S CHARACTER
Sadly, we all fall into the ‘trap’ of judging a person’s character by their ‘appearance’—and how wrong we are! As has been mentioned, all too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event overwhelms them (or you). Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock to their ’system’.

So, what can you do to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances, and new friends (who might even become lifelong partners)? Well, you ‘analyze’ the following traits:
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PROBLEMS REVEAL ONE’S ‘SPIRITUAL’ CHARACTER
So, as has been mentioned, when ‘things’ happen, one’s reaction actually reveals—or brings out—one’s ‘true’ character (or what is already inside of one’s ‘heart’).

The Bible states that as the water reflects the face, so the heart of man reflects the man (Proverbs 27:19). It also says that what causes the quarrels and fights among people is one’s passions that are at ‘war’ within them (James 4:1).

Problems say a lot about our character—especially our strengths and weaknesses. In the Old Testament, King Saul had a ‘giant’ of a problem—a champion warrior named Goliath. It was an opportunity for the aging king to trust God, lead his army, defeat his foes, and regain the respect of his people. Instead, Saul was “dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11). However, when a young shepherd boy named David came along, Saul was relieved his problem was solved, but later he grew jealous and resentful of the young warrior who had ‘won the day’. The thing is, at every ‘step’, Saul’s response to his problems divulged his weakness and his willful disregard of his faith in God. He then ‘spiraled’ downward in anxiety and despair.
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PROBLEMS ‘PROVE’ INTEGRITY
Problems prove the ‘integrity’ of our character. The situation doesn’t ‘make’ you what you are, it ‘reveals’ what you are! The problems of life don’t cause us to be different, they reveal the fact that we are not who we want everybody to believe we are.

The thing is, there is a vast difference between reputation and character. You see, reputation is what others ‘suppose’ we are, whereas character is what we ‘really’ are. Reputation is what you chisel on your tombstone. Character is what the angels say about you before God in Heaven.

For the believer, never does a problem come into their life that there isn’t some ‘purpose’ behind it that they may not know why—even in this life!
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CHARACTERISTICS OF A ‘GODLY’ PERSON
Character is important because it ‘governs’ one’s actions. It is also important because God gives each believer gifts and talents to assist them in fulfilling their God-given purpose. So, character needs to be ‘sound’ to anchor and properly harness and manage one’s gifts and talents.

We can liken a gift or talent to a kite. A kite is beautiful, flamboyant, with so much potential to fly high for the world to see. But the kite needs a string and someone to hold that string (this is character). It needs something to steady and control it and swing it in different directions. This is particularly important when a strong wind comes. If the one holding the string loses control, the kite will fly away and crash somewhere.

So, it’s the same with gifts and talents. If left unchecked by a good character, gifts and talents will ‘spiral out’ of control and ‘destroy’ the person.
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‘FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT’
The simplest description of the ‘fruit’ listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is that they are characteristics. Notice that they are not abilities (though many of the gifts of the Spirit involve abilities). They are not doing words. They are being words. Someone is gentle; someone is loving; someone is self-controlled. Yet, while this is true, always leads to doing. This is one way the fruit of the Spirit intersects with how we act.
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HAVING ‘GODS’ CHARACTER
So, what does it mean to have the character of God? Well, the following are some ‘general’ traits:

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So, based on these things, are you pursuing godly character? Know that it just doesn’t just happen—it must be continually ‘pursued’.

Finally, Paul describes the greatest ‘motivating’ factor for the man of God—God’s character. The more one knows God—the more God can use him for His Kingdom. Paul’s message to Timothy is clear: Though your calling is immense, the God who calls you is far greater—and he will enable you to do it. (1 Timothy 6). From there, Paul charges Timothy based on God’s presence and character in order to motivate him to faithfulness. The believer’s hope must always be in the character of the One who calls us: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” [ Proverbs 18:10 ].

So, the more one ‘knows’ God, the more faithful they will be to Him—and that should fill the believer with ‘gratitude’!
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GRATITUDE
Now, most people would like to be full of gratitude rather than prone to feelings of entitlement or resentment. But, as we all know, gratitude can be elusive and resentment and entitlement have a way of ‘creeping in’.

Kurt Lewin, the “father of social psychology,” emphasized many years ago that there is a limit to how much change we can bring about when we try to motivate people who are already highly motivated. The better approach in these situations, he noted, is to figure out what is preventing the person from acting and then try to eliminate those barriers. In the field of gratitude research, are there further gains to be made by focusing on what prevents people from feeling grateful.

People in the field believe that there are ‘enemies’ of gratitude and enemy number one is easy to identify: ADAPTATION. Simply put, we get used to things over time and start to take them for granted. But research has also uncovered ways that we as individuals—and hopefully even societies—can start to overcome this ‘barrier’.
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DEVELOPING A ‘GODLY’ CHARACTER
So, how does one develop godly character? Well, for starters, the Bible says that, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” [ Luke 6:43 ].

A wise man once said that, “The greatest battle does not take place on the land, or on the sea, or in the air, it takes place in the mind.” Thoughts are ‘things’ and character development begins with thoughts.

So, to develop a ‘godly’ character, one must use the Word of God (the Bible) as their primary ‘ingredient’ for doing so. The Bible contains instructions and guidance anyone will ever need for godly living.
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‘CHRISTIAN’ CHARACTER
Believers all want to grow in spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. They all want to put aside patterns of sin and unrighteousness and to replace them with patterns of holiness. Ultimately, they want to become ‘like’ Christ, to think how He thought and to behave how He behaved—do well to aspire to the highest standards of holiness and godliness.

Pastor and biblical teacher Tim Challies presented the following traits as the ones that should exemplify the believer:

– Being Above Reproach
– A One-Woman Man (and One-Man Woman)
– Being Sober-Minded, Self-Controlled, and Respectable
– Being Hospitable
– Being Sober, Gentle, and A Peacemaker
– Not Being a ‘Lover’ of Money
– Being A Leader at Home
– Being Mature and Humble
– Being Respected by ‘Outsiders’
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EXAMPLES OF ‘GODLY’ CHARACTER
There is much to be said about what the Bible says about a person’s character.

Character is so important to us that we even recognize it as one of the principal requirements of trust, and trust is an essential prerequisite for all meaningful relationships.

Everyone has a “public” face and a “private” face. Most of us tend to act with better behavior around others than we do in private.

Although sad, it is true that video cameras reveal what we all know: that a person’s real character is who they are when they think no one is looking. The British writer and politician Thomas Macauly once said, “The measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.”
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DEVELOPING ‘CHRISTLIKENESS’
The “Grace Online Library” (for Puritan and Reformed resources) created an excellent list of godly character qualities to use as one develops Christlikeness. Remember, however, the believer’s goal is not moralism or behaviorism. These character qualities are a reflection of the “new man,” a ‘regenerate’ heart.

So, as you see deficiency in your character, realize that external character, obedience or ‘polish’ without a new heart is nothing but works-righteousness and legalism.
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WRAP-UP
Webster’s defines CHARACTER as the aggregate of distinctive attributes and conspicuous traits that make up and distinguish an individual. However, former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden defined it a bit differently: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Now, I’m thinking that most of us would agree with that sentiment, but how many of us, if we are honest, actually ‘live’ this out?

Now, while I’m not one to argue with the brilliance of Coach Wooden—especially as a basketball coach—it seems to me that people’s ‘real’ character is tested more when everyone IS watching, and it is in that environment that people ‘fail’ the test of true character. So, perhaps character is better defined by what you do when everyone IS watching, just as much as it is when no one is watching.

An individual’s character is actually an ‘amalgamation’ of their qualities—or ‘traits’—which make them unique and helps them stand apart from the rest. It has been called the ‘inner self’.

Character is who you ARE at your very ‘core’ of your being. It is all the values and beliefs you hold dear in your ‘heart’—the person you are when you are alone.

There is that axiom I mentioned previously that says that people have three ‘faces’. The first face, you show to the world, the second face, you show to your close friends and one’s family, and the third face, is never shown to anyone, and is the ‘truest’ reflection of who one is.

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Being of ‘good’ character is a unique ‘mixture’ of strengths, weaknesses, virtues, vices, knowledge, and experience. A person expresses their character through ‘ACTIONS’, and the ‘accumulation’ of all observations and interactions with others REVEALS their ‘character’.

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So, it requires a multitude of good actions to confirm the good character of a person. However, it takes only one ‘bad’ action to lead an observer to question one’s good character. So, they might think that this person is of lesser character then they had first thought, or maybe, in this particular area, the person has a ‘weakness’.

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Problems prove the ‘integrity’ of one’s character The situation doesn’t ‘make’ you what you are, it ‘reveals’ what you are! The problems of life don’t cause us to be different, they reveal the fact that we are not who we want everybody to believe we are. A crisis is one of the most effective ways to reveal true character, and helps to indicate a person’s true ‘INNER’ belief system.
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A ‘GOOD’ PERSON

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CHARACTER IS A ‘CHOICE’
My friends would ‘hopefully’ tell you I am a pretty good person. I’m known to perform random acts of kindness, generously donate my time and resources, and actively care for the needs of others (Though I could do more!)

However, for all of my ‘goodness,’ I also know myself, and I am prone to ‘wander’, justify my errors, and think ugly thoughts. We ALL do, right? [ Someone help me here by agreeing with me! ;^D ]

According to Debate.com, 71% of those polled believe people are “inherently good.” Now, the debate over good and evil has gone on forever, and philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Karl Marx, and Erich Fromm have long argued that man, by design, is inherently good.

Well, I tend to agree more with King Solomon—considered the wisest man in recorded history. He concluded that, “There’s not one totally good person on earth, not one who is truly pure and sinless” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ].
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‘CHRISTIAN’ CHARACTER
Character is influenced and developed by our ‘choices’. In the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel “resolved not to defile himself” in Babylon (Daniel 1:8), and that godly choice was an important step in formulating an unassailable integrity in the young man’s life.

Character also ‘influences’ our choices and will also help one ‘weather’ the storms of life and keep us from sin (Proverbs 10:9a). “The integrity of the upright guides them” [ Proverbs 11:3a ].
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When it comes down to it, character is one is because of their relationship with Jesus. It is something that can be built and learned as they ‘follow’ Him.

[ FYI: For more details on ‘following’ Jesus, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/it-will-cost-you-v233/ ].

Students will always reflect the instruction of their teachers. No matter how far a student may excel beyond their teacher’s abilities, they will always be indebted to the guidance that was given.

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If you want to know what Christ-like character looks like, a great place to start is the nine character qualities given by the Apostle Paul: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control” [ Galatians 5:22-23 ]. If one is to develop a Christ-like character, we will need these qualities in our lives.

So, whenever one chooses to respond to a situation in God’s way—instead of following our natural direction—they will develop ‘godly’ character. Life brings all kinds of opportunities: conflict, disappointment, challenges, delays, and so on. So, as one is faced with life’s challenges and decides how to react, their actions then become their habits, and their habits become their character.

Again, genuine Christian character is shaped when one surrenders to Jesus’ plan and purposes for their life. They then allow His continual work to grow and enrich them as they submit to a lifestyle and an outlook on life that promotes character. Building and developing character is something they must ‘DESIRE’. It is something that they must ‘PURSUE’ and requires an ‘active’ response through Scripture, prayer, and the practice of the Holy Spirit’s presence lived ‘through’ them. The response is to learn to ‘model’ Jesus, to be active in presenting Him, and to seek to fashion their lives according to His example.

Character needs to be a priority in EVERY believer’s life.

CHARACTER TRAIT – DEFINITION – MEMORY VERSE
Watermark Community Church created a helpful resource entitled “36 Godly Character Traits” to aid their elementary-aged children to become more passionate ‘followers’ of Jesus.

While that is fantastic that they are teaching their children these traits early on in their lives, I’m thinking that ALL BELIEVERS can profit from this list!:
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A ‘GOOD’ EXAMPLE
The Apostle Paul has had much to say about what it means to be a person of godly character.

Now, even though Jesus is our ‘primary’ model, was there a human being alive in the first century, that we can look to as a flesh-and-blood example? Well, the Apostle Paul’s answer is an astounding “Yes!” It was his pastoral protégé, Timothy.

Timothy is a great example of what it means to be a person of godly character. So, let us look at some of the things that Paul says about Timothy in his book to the Philippians (in Chapter 2):

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Timothy was a man who could be trusted to represent the Kingdom of Heaven faithfully. He was a man who was uniquely genuine in his concern for the well-being of others. He was a man who sought the interests of Jesus alone, unlike so many others in the ‘Christian’ community at that time. He was a man that could be trusted to stick around through the best and the worst of times.

So, the question is to the believer: Are you this kind of person? Do you possess godly character? If not ‘totally’, where do you need the Holy Spirit’s help in becoming more like Jesus?
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‘FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT’
As I have alluded to previously, the Apostle Paul talks about some attributes of a person with godly character that is called the “fruit of the Spirit”: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” [ Galatians 5:22-23a ].

The simplest description of the ‘fruit’ is that they are CHARACTERISTICS. Notice that they are not abilities (though many of the gifts of the Spirit involve abilities). They are not ‘doing’ words. They are ‘BEING’ words. Someone IS gentle; someone IS loving; someone IS self-controlled. Yet, while this is true, being always ‘leads to’ doing. This is one way the fruit of the Spirit ‘intersects’ with how we act.

So, how does one develop godly character? Well, for starters, the Bible says that, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” [ Luke 6:43 ].

A wise man once said that, “The greatest battle does not take place on the land, or on the sea, or in the air, it takes place in the mind.” Thoughts are ‘things’ and character development begins with thoughts.

So, to develop a ‘godly’ character, one must use the Word of God as their primary ‘ingredient’ for doing so. The Bible contains instructions and guidance anyone will ever need for godly living.

Jesus said ALL need to “Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” [ John 5:39 ]. It is not enough just to know that the Word of God contains God’s thoughts, one must find and search out what it actually says and how we ought to act it out. God’s Word is not theory, it is practical. It is meant to be lived out and to enjoy its true benefits. Jesus emphasized this by saying, “Great blessings will be yours if you do them” [ John 13:17 ].

Believers all want to grow in spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. They all want to put aside patterns of sin and unrighteousness and to replace them with patterns of holiness. Ultimately, they want to become ‘like’ Christ, to think how He thought and to behave how He behaved—do well to aspire to the highest standards of holiness and godliness.

A person with godly character is a reflection of the “new man,” having a ‘regenerate’ heart. So, the Bible says that the ONLY way to have a “godly” character, is to be God’s ‘child’—and for that to happen, one must be “saved” or “born again.”

Now, everyone can definitely ‘refine’ their character to a ‘certain’ extent. However, one cannot develop a TRUELY ‘godly’ character unless they are “born again” AND ‘indwelt’ by the Holy Spirit.

SADLY, observing from the ‘outside’, that family member I have mentioned in the previous posts, didn’t portray that he was—based on his actions—born again and on his way to Heaven. ;^( HOWEVER, my other ‘swimmer’ friend DID portray ‘godly’ character, and based on the ‘fruit’ of this life, he IS in Heaven!
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BECOMING ‘BORN AGAIN’
The phrase “born again” literally means to be “born from above” (“anothen” in the Greek). One night Jesus talked to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling body of the Jews). Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night (so no one else would see him meeting with Jesus) with some questions—and he had a real need. He needed a change of his heart—a spiritual transformation (John 3:1-21).

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” When Jesus said that, Nicodemus was ‘flabbergasted’, and had no idea what Jesus was saying (because this was not what the Torah and the Talmud taught). So, Nicodemus said to Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” [ John 3:4 ]. Jesus responded by becoming a bit more ‘detailed’ by stating that God’s Kingdom is only for those people who have been ‘cleansed’ from above—a divine miracle (John 3:5-8). Nicodemus then asked Jesus, “How can these things be?” [ John 3:9 ].
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‘INDWELT’ BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
The ‘indwelling’ of the Holy Spirit occurs at the very ‘moment’ a person ‘accepts’ Jesus as their personal Savior. The Spirit comes to live ‘inside’ them and then begins His work in the life of the believer (primarily, to make them ‘look’ like Jesus).

Now, as I mentioned previously, everyone can definitely ‘refine’ their character to a ‘certain’ extent—even to ‘look’, from the ‘outside’ that they are pretty much a “saint.” However, one cannot develop a TRUELY ‘godly’ character unless they are “born again” and then ‘indwelt’ by the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” [ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ]. These verses are telling us that the believer in Jesus has the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, living inside them ‘spiritually’ (Titus 3:5; 2 Peter 1:4), and the Holy Spirit comes to live within him spiritually.

———

Now, on the other hand, the Apostle Paul tells us that if a person DOES NOT ‘possess’ the Holy Spirit, they do not ‘belong’ to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” [ Romans 8:9 ]. He goes on to say that the Holy Spirit is the ‘seal’ of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” [ Ephesians 1:13-14 ].

So, when one accepts Jesus as their personal Savior (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their ‘heart’, bringing with Him an entirely new life of love (‘fruits of the Spirit), relationship (comfort), and guidance (conviction; ‘empowerment’; Illumination of the Word of God).

The ‘ministry’ of the Holy Spirit is to transform the character of the believer, and do the WORK ‘in’ them (“sanctification”) that they need to eventually have the character of Jesus.
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‘SANCTIFICATION’
So, as a writer ‘reveals’ their characters piece-by-piece—adding depth and substance to their ‘CHARACTER’ as the story develops—God does the same thing with His ‘children’. The term in the Bible uses to describe this ‘development’ of a person’s ‘character’ is “SANCTIFICATION.”

Sanctification is God’s ‘will’ for the believer (1 Thessalonians 4:3). To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make them ‘holy’—of ‘refined’ character (like the ‘dross’ that is removed in the refining process for silver and gold).

Sanctification is also referred to as the “filling” of the Holy Spirit, in which He, primarily, ‘illuminates’ the Word of God to the believer. However, that is not all He does. He helps the believer make better decisions with new wisdom, to see things that they would not normally see, to guide them, to comfort them, to convict them, to empower them to do ‘ministry’, and to develop their character to ‘look’ lie Jesus, primarily by His ‘fruits’ (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). [ Now, of course, these are just the ‘highlights’ of what the Holy Spirit does. Refer to the “Articles” section for additional resources on this. ]
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THE HOLY SPIRIT ‘REFINES’ THE BELIEVER
Now, when God is sanctifying a person—just like a vinedresser in a vineyard—He will ‘prune’ them so that their character ‘looks like; His Son, Jesus.

———

So, if you are currently feeling the sharpness of God’s pruning ‘knife’, I pray you will realize that He is doing a ‘good’ work in you. His goal is not to hurt you unnecessarily, but to benefit you eternally! God is much more interested in your spiritual ‘fruit bearing’ than in your temporal comfort and ease.

Right now, you may feel like a grapevine being pruned at the end of a season of growth, but come ‘harvest’ time, you will have great ‘joy’ in being pruned to be ready for your eternal home—Heaven!

Now, the ‘fruit’ only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit—Christ’s indwelling presence among His chosen people, His ‘branches’. Therefore, it is submission to the Holy Spirit, and constant abiding in Christ that produces this fruit.
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‘REVEALING’ GODLY CHARACTER
Pastor and author David Jeremiah said that, “It has been said that difficulties don’t determine who we are. Rather, they reveal who we are. Said another way, the same heat that softens butter can make mud hard as a brick. It all depends on how the thing being heated responds. The same is true with the human heart. Difficulties can soften one’s heart and harden another.”

In the Old Testament, Joseph, in Egypt, and Daniel, in Babylon, both revealed their character to their pagan masters. Their difficulties caused the presence of God to be manifested ‘through’ them.

In the New Testament, no one endured and had more difficulties—over a long period of time—than the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 6:3-10, 11:23-29). However, his troubles revealed his ‘inner’ character—the ‘treasure’ of Jesus within him: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” [ 2 Corinthians 4:7 ].

Troubles in life are normal (Job 5:7). It’s just one’s response to trouble that will show one’s character and ‘manifest’ Jesus to the world (or not!). Difficulties don’t determine who we are, they ‘REVEAL’ who we ‘ARE’!

Difficulties get one’s ‘attention’—and when they force one to face trials that are too ‘big’ for them to resolve, they sometimes ‘look’ to God for relief. The thing is, God uses adversities to motivate people to ‘cry’ out to Him: “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” [ Psalm 34:17 ].

God wants VERY MUCH for people to understand that He is their Creator (Genesis 1:26-27), He knows what they need better than they do (Romans 8:27-37), and they really can’t do anything ‘substantial’ without Him (John 15:5; Galatians 6:3). That’s why He ‘YEARNS’ to have an intimate ’relationship’ with them (John 17:3), and is patiently ‘waiting’ for them to ‘ASK’ for it! (Matthew 11:28-29; Matthew 5:8; Revelation 3:20).

God VERY MUCH wants ‘lighten’ their burdens (Matthew 11:28-30) and help them accomplish How will for their lives—to ‘shape’ them so that they REFLECT THE ‘CHARACTER’ of Jesus! (Romans 8:28-29)—performing a TOTAL ‘TRANSFORMATION’ of the believer’s character!
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‘RECEIVING’ JESUS’ CHARACTER
So, if you have never trusted in Jesus as your Savior, have you sensed a ‘prompting’ in your ‘spirit’? If so, this may be the last time you may sense this (if you have disregarded multiple promptings in the past).

So, might I encourage you to ASK Jesus to ‘reveal’ His ‘CHARACTER’ to you—being the compassionate Savior of the world (John 3:16)—so that you then can be transformed by it and, in turn, be on your way to developing HIS ‘CHARACTER’ in you, as a “born again” ‘child’ of God!

The Apostle Paul reminds us that the “things that are seen on this earth”—taking primarily about you right now—are “transient” and “wasting away” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18), and that, even though we are “afflicted in every way,” we don’t have to be perplexed or despair, since God will not “forsake” on of His ‘children’!

Paul goes on to say that “though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” and that this is only a “light, momentary affliction” (Corinthians 4:17a), since Jesus is preparing a place (in Heaven) for His followers (John 14:3) and will come back again to take you from this earth to that place (John 14:3).

So, while you are on this earth waiting for your ‘home going’, don’t you want to have a GODLY CHARACTER that ‘emulates’ Jesus? A character that you will take with you to your eternal home—Heaven?

If so, repent of your sins and believe in Jesus as your Savior (Romans 10:9-10; Mark 1:15; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Matthew 3:2; Luke 13:5; John 1:12; John 3:1-36)

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SO, you may ask, “What is this repentance you have mentioned?” Well, it is what the prophet John the Baptist heralded during Jesus’ time (The Greek word translated “repentance” is “metanoia,” and means simply “a change of mind.”).

When a repentant person changes their mind about sin, that change of mind naturally leads to a turning away from sin. Sin is no longer desirable, because they know that sin brings condemnation. The repentant sinner begins to abhor their past misdeeds, and they begin to seek ways to amend their behavior (Luke 19:8). So, ultimately, the result of the change of mind about sin is good deeds. The sinner turns away from sin toward faith in the Savior, and that faith is shown in action, deeds (James 2:17)

Although there is no ‘particular’ words that God requires to become born again, sometimes it helps to have something to guide a person. So, if that is you, say to God something like the following, from your ‘heart’:

ADMIT THAT YOU’RE A SINNER
BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS, WAS BURIED, AND THAT GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD
CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD

DO NOT put this off any longer! DO NOT delay the MOST IMPORTANT ‘DECISION’ of your life—attaining ‘ETERNAL’ LIFE! Make TODAY ‘THE’ DAY of your salvation!!!

[ NOTE: You can ‘ask’ in your own words, but if you need a bit of help, there is a “Reconciliation Prayer” just below. Please contact me if you do become “born again.” I can direct you to resources that will aid you in your new spiritual ‘journey’. ]

So, the HOLY SPIRIT is that “Someone” that can REALLY help one refine their character in the BEST of ways—and ‘THE’ WAY that God wants for you… to make you have the ‘CHARACTER’ of Jesus!

<<< END OF SUMMARY >>>


<<< ALL THE DETAILS >>>

The following is a comprehensive presentation of the topic that follows the ‘headings’ laid out in the Summary.


REVEALING A CHARACTER IN ‘STORYTELLING’
So, of course, it is always easier to find fault in another than it is to see it in ourselves. It is also even easier to see character traits in someone else when one is totally ‘divorced’ relationally—when that person is being portrayed in a book or a movie screen—and the person’s character is revealed piece-by-piece as the story develops.

So, whether it’s an author writing a novel or a screenwriter creating a feature-length film, ‘characterization’ is a vital tool that helps your fictional characters feel like living, breathing people. Use these characterization examples to add depth and substance to your own writing.

‘Characterization’ is the way that a writer communicates a character’s traits to the reader. It can either be ‘direct’ characterization, where the author uses statements to tell the readers exactly who they ‘ARE’, or ‘indirect’ characterization, where the writer suggests to the readers what the character is like by describing the way the character ‘ACTS’.

Good characterization is crucial to any novel or film, because it allows writers to ‘paint’ compelling portraits of their fictional characters as real people. Each character needs to feel realistic enough to the audience so that they care about what happens to them. That’s what keeps the audience wanting more.

Now, regardless of the ‘type’ of CHARACTERIZATION the author uses—direct or indirect—there are a few different approaches that use to make the characters feel ‘real’ and believable:

– How The Character Looks
Readers can learn a lot about your characters by their physical appearance. Physical description details like these can clue readers into a character’s personality, lifestyle, and priorities—not to mention give them something to picture as they read.

– How The Character Acts
Actions speak volumes, and fictional actions are no exception. The way they interact with the world is a great way to foster character development. Giving your characters specific mannerisms—like a nervous twitch or a particular way they drink their coffee—will aid in making them feel developed and believable.

– How The Character Reacts
Anybody can keep their cool if everything’s going as they expect, but what happens when the unexpected strikes?The ways that your character reacts to small moments or big events tells a lot about what they’re really like.

– How The Character Speaks
The way your character ‘speaks’ will say a lot about them. Using dialogue is a great way to help authors show where their characters come from, what they care about, and how they express it.

– How The Character Thinks
There’s nothing like getting right into a character’s head since it is the most direct way to reveal their personality, but it can also be the most difficult. A character’s thoughts need to be written entirely with their point of view in mind, so you need to be prepared to describe their private thoughts in a way that crafts a believable person.

Then, just in real life—in order to develop a story—the characters have to face a ‘problem’ and the choices will make that will inform the audience what their ‘character’ is.

Then, different characters will have to face different choices and react in different ways to expand the story—to give it some ‘reality’.

Plot events and ‘obstacles’ force characters to make the kind of choices that the audience might make, grapple with, and relate to. In turn, those choices reveal the ‘character’ of the characters.

– Is our character the type of person who remains moral and good, even when life is difficult? Then we need plot events that make their life difficult in order to reveal that trait to readers.

– Is our character the type of person who will sacrifice to protect others? Then we need plot events that threaten others and force a choice to sacrifice or walk away.

– Is our character the type of person who isn’t as good or strong as they think they are? Then we need plot events that force them to act against what they think their nature is.

Now, there are many other character traits that could be ‘tested’ by plot events. However, all of them need to”

– Revealing something about our characters
– Trigger a reaction, change, or choice for our characters
– Avoid the problem of too-easy or too-difficult obstacles
– Justify our characters’ motivations or providing evidence of the stakes
– Establish a story problem for our characters to solve

In other words, is the plot contributing to the larger story?

So, the story—just like in real life—is made up of many elements: Characters (relationships); Plots (events, good and bad); and Character motivations (their goals). When all the elements work together to form a greater whole, the story will be more compelling, believable, and encourage the audience to put themselves ‘into’ the story.

Then, there are a few ‘WAYS’ the storyteller can ‘reveal’ their character:

– Actions
Actions are what characters do

–Dialogue
Dialogue is what a character says and how he or she says it

– Physical Description
Physical Description is what a character looks like:

– Idiosyncrasies
Idiosyncrasies are the characteristics, habits, and mannerisms particular to a character

– Objects and Possessions
Objects & Possessions are the important things that belong to a character

– Reactions
Reactions are the responses a character has to a person, place, or situation.

– Thoughts
Thoughts are the internal dialogues and memories that a character has.

– Background Information
Background information is the history, back-story and exposition of a character.

‘CAST’ OF CHARACTERS
Stories need characters. What the characters do creates the plot. With a well-rounded cast of characters, the plot will almost take care of itself. A story gets energy from the dynamic that occurs between the all the characters in it. The interaction between the characters is fueled by contrast, motivations, and conflict. Put a bunch of characters in a room—i.e. on a stage, between the covers of a book, between the first and last shots of a movie—and the plot is likely to emerge on its own. As long as there are contrasts between the characters and their motivations, conflict will arise.

So then, how does a writer ‘cast’ the characters that bring the story to life? Well, first of all, one character is rarely enough. Almost all stories need several characters. (Even Robinson Crusoe couldn’t hold out alone.) So, it’s the ‘interplay’ between characters that creates interest. For interplay, read ‘conflict’.

Conflict in storytelling does not mean fights and battles. It means a conflict of interests. Characters become characters because they have interests. Their interests make them do what they do, and this doing is what drives the plot. So, what does that mean?

Will, it means characters are ‘motivated’. They don’t do things just because they feel like it. The audience will try to understand why they do what they do. That means that each character must want and/or need something.

So then, how does a writer give a character a want or need? Well, for the recipient to care about this want or need, it is usually necessary to make clear where this want or need comes from. That means there must be a ‘problem’. Stories are all about characters struggling. Struggling means overcoming obstacles and resolving problems.

Therefore, for a writer to create a story that is emotionally engaging, there is much thought to be put into aspects of character building such as problem, want, goal, and need of the characters—and just what has given rise to each of these aspects of character. It is these aspects that form what we call the intrinsic functions of the characters within the story.

So, we have a story that has several characters. We should view them as a group of characters whose actions affect each other. The interplay between them makes the story interesting. That means each of the major characters should have their problem, want, goal, need and so on clearly defined, because it is these aspects that make the audience or reader care about them. Then, because it is these aspects that provide them with their function within the story, it is, ultimately, the conflict of interests between the characters that give the story ‘life’.

For this to work, there must be ‘contrast’ between the characters. At best, on all levels—the way they look, the way they talk, what they want and what they do. Characters who are too similar to each other ‘stifle’ each other. The story becomes lively when it is populated by people who have very different ways of dealing with things—a “CAST” of characters. The audience enjoys identifying and comparing these different approaches and reactions to the problems the characters face. If all the characters do more or less the same, there is nobody to root for and no one to boo.

CHARACTER ‘DEVELOPMENT’
The character development in a story is vital for its success. After all, people love to rave about books not always because of the story itself but because of the characters they ‘fell in love’ with.

In fact, it is specifically because someone fell in love with the characters—and cares so much about them and their journey—that they are willing to follow them through the entirety of it.

So, the following are some of the major ‘topics’ writers use to accomplish character development in a way that will make the audience think about their characters as if they were ‘real’ people.

Character development is the process and execution of creating a fully rounded, complex, and lifelike character within your fictional writing with the purpose of making readers invested in them and their life or journey.

So, what constitutes a well-developed character as well as what are the different types of character development the writer usually considers?

Well, a well-developed character needs a full backstory, personality traits reflective of it, realistic actions and emotions, along with being highly relatable to the average reader and as complex as a ‘real’ person.

If the audience can’t imagine the characters as a real-life person, then they are probably not quite complex enough to be well developed. The ‘key’ with character development is crafting your characters to feel as if they are people you know, who just live ‘far away’.

When a writer thinks of their characters as ‘real’, they will almost always create a well-developed character.

CHARACTER ‘ROLES’
So, when it comes to developing a character, the writer has to understand which ‘ROLES’ of character they are going to develop. These are the most ‘popular’ roles of characters:

– Protagonist
– Antagonist
– Deuteragonist
– Tertiary
– Love Interest
– Confidant
– ‘Foil’
– Dynamic/Changing
– Static/Unchanging
– ‘Stock’(Archetype)
– Symbolic
– ‘Round’ (Contains “Multitudes”)
– “Sidekick”
– Orbital (Usually and ‘Instigator’/Antagonist)
– Extras
– Antihero
– Guide
– Contagonist
– Henchmen
– Temptress

[ FYI: For more details about each one of these character types, view these articles:
https://blog.reedsy.com/types-of-characters/
https://jerryjenkins.com/types-of-characters/
https://kindlepreneur.com/types-of-characters/ ].

‘TYPES’ OF CHARACTERS
Unlike the character roles just discussed, there are various ‘TYPES’ for each character that can be applied to any role.

These are more like ‘frameworks’ that you can use to build up a cast of characters. They generally include the following:

– Dynamic Characters
– Static Characters
– Symbolic Characters
– Stock Characters

Though you can apply at least one of these to almost any character role (yes, even the protagonist can be static under the right circumstances), it’s important to have an understanding of each of them.

Only when you know how each character type operates, will you understand when it is appropriate to apply it to a specific character role.

– Dynamic Characters
A dynamic character is a character who changes from one end of the story to the other. This usually takes the form of a positive character arc, or a negative character arc.

A positive character arc is where the character learns something, usually wisdom, knowledge, or skills needed. They are able to overcome certain weaknesses in order to overcome the antagonist of the story.

A negative character arc is exactly the opposite. They change for the worse, usually by fixating on something they want to the exclusion of all else.

Dynamic characters are very often called round characters as well. A round character is equally adaptable and change with the actions of the story.

A dynamic character is a character who changes from one end of the story to the other. This usually takes the form of a positive character arc, or a negative character arc.

– Static Characters
Unlike dynamic characters, a static character remains the same through most of the story. While your gut instinct might be to assume that a static character is not as well written of a character, that is not necessarily true.

While dynamic characters are changed by the course of the story, a static character can likewise change those around them with their “flat” nature.

That said, make sure that it is your intention to make a static character, and you’re not just creating them because you don’t want to build a character arc. That can lead to lazy writing.

It’s important to know that static characters and flat characters are not necessarily the same. A flat character may appear like a static character, but flat characters are generally a result of lazy writing, when a static character is more intentional.

– Symbolic Characters
Symbolic characters help support a theme in your book. They can represent a particular aspect of a problem that the characters face, they can also represent specific issues that are larger than just one person.

Often, we deal with issues and situations that are much more important than ourselves in our books, and it’s impossible to boil down so much information and meaning into just a few pages, so having a symbolic character represent those ideas can be a great shortcut.

This can also be a great way to represent your theme without getting too preachy. That said, make sure the character is well-rounded and realistic, so you can avoid being perceived as preachy or sappy.

Whether you want a round character, a flat character, or a completely different type of character in your novel, these character types are a great place to start.

I recommend you start with your protagonist. Figure out if they should be a static or dynamic character. Then move on to your antagonist and do the same for them. Then you can slowly start to build up your cast, depending on the needs of your story.

Don’t try to hammer in every single character type into one novel. That would be too much, and overcrowd your pages with unnecessary fluff. Instead, pick and choose the character types that make the most sense for the type of story that you want to tell.

On the flip side, try to make it as diverse as possible. Too many flat characters or not enough supporting characters can lead to a dull novel.

– ‘Stock’ Characters
Also called “tertiary” characters, the stock characters are those who fulfill certain roles or character archetypes to serve the story.

They can be dynamic or static (more commonly the latter), and often overlap with other character roles we’ve already mentioned, such as the guide/mentor. However, they don’t have to be. Each archetype is unique, and worth looking at on their own.

Stock characters are great to round out your cast of characters, and provide your world with a realistic ensemble of roles. They will make up the majority of your supporting characters.

Using character ‘archetypes’ is a great way to ensure you have a diverse cast with specific roles. (Because without good characters, an audience will not find a good reason to keep paying attention.)

The character development of a story can make the biggest difference in hooking real fans for life—and ‘losing’ the audience for good. A bad plot can be saved by good characters, but even the best plot will fail if the characters are bad.

So, here is a list of some of the popular character archetypes:

– The Leader
– The Outsider
– The Caregiver
– The Rebel
– The Mentor
– The Professor
– The Warrior
– The Hunk
– The Wise
– The Orphan
– The Hero
– The Jester (Joker)
– The Magician
– The Seducer
– The Bully
– The Child
– The Creator
– The Ruler
– The Seducer
– The Lover

To give you a ‘concrete’ example of what an archetype is, here are a few from TV and the movies:

– The Warrior: James Bond; Gladiator Maximus
– The Child: Forrest Gump; Alice (in “Alice in Wonderland”)
– The Orphan: George Bailey; Luke Skywalker
– The Creator: Willy Wonka; Mozart (in “Amadeus”)
– The Mentor: Yoda; Mary Poppins
– The Joker: Captain Jack Sparrow (in “Pirates of the Caribbean”)
– The Magician: Sherlock Holmes; Darth Vader
– The Rebel: Ferris Bueller; Bart Simpson
– The Seducer: Cleopatra
– The Lover: Jack and Rose (in “Titanic”); Romeo and Juliet
– The Ruler: Howard Hughes (in “The Aviator”); Winston Churchill (in “The Darkest Hour”)
– The Caregiver: Oskar Schindler (in “Schindler’s List”); Clarence Oldbody (in “It’s a Wonderful Life”)

So, an archetype is a character that represents specific actions, nuances, and characteristics (and can also be known as “character tropes”). These characters have well-known qualities that shape their narrative and the story.

Writers use archetypes to keep their characters consistent and feeling ‘real’.

‘SHAPING’ A CHARACTER
So, now that the writer knows the ‘role’ and the ‘type’ of character they will be focusing on, let me dive deeper into the character development methods the writer can use.

– Create A Background For Each Character
Our realities are shaped by where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.

That being said, the one with the most influence on our lives is where we have been—our past.

The same is true for any character. Based on what their life was like prior to the start of your novel/film, they will have different interests, quirks, fears, and other ‘issues’.

The writer’s job is to fill out what their life has looked like up until the beginning of the story.

– Present The Characters’ Strengths And Weaknesses
One of the biggest means of ‘influence’ over a character will be their strengths or weaknesses.

We, as humans, constantly face our strengths and weaknesses on a daily basis, even in the smallest of forms.

What a character is great at and what they are not good at will affect how they perceive different events, and what actions they choose to take, and can affect their overall character “arc” (which we’ll touch on later).

If your character’s strength is talking to strangers and gaining their trust, this might be an asset for them throughout their journey. However, if that is your character’s weakness and they’re forced to do so, it can cause conflict for them.

These strengths and weaknesses will shape the character’s arc and the plot as a whole, so they need to be developed at e beginning of the story.

– Create Nervous ‘Habits’
If you have paid attention to people for long enough, I have got to believe at you are aware that they all have certain ‘habits’ at they don’t even realize they are doing when they are nervous.

This can be a key characteristic that the writer will make the characters feel more ‘real’ and help make them more relatable.

– No Character Can Be ‘Perfect’
Even though writers have a hard time with their favorite character having flaws—since they want the audience to ‘love’ them—a ‘perfect’ character is NOT lovable, they are usually hated, because they are not realistic. (These are often called “Mary Sue” characters).

The thing is, the more the writer tries to make the character ‘flawless’, the less the audience can relate to them, and therefore, they will actually like them less! So, the writer has built flaws into the character just like we all have ‘drawbacks’ in real life. The characters ‘need’ to fail.

– All Characters Need Realistic Motives
No matter which character the writer wants in the story, they need to have a real and valid /motive’ for feeling this way.

If the characters—no matter how minor they are—don’t have a motive that makes sense, e audience will end up questioning what is happening—and not in a good way. (This is largely how plot ‘holes’ arise so in order to avoid them, the writer sticks to this character development method.)

– Give Each Character A Unique ‘Feature’
This is particularly important for stories with a large number of characters, but it is still important for other stories as well. (The writer wants the audience to easily visualize and ‘differentiate’ the cast—for each character to stand out as an individual.) So, a perfect way to do this is to give each person an identifiable and distinctive ‘feature’.

Now, the writer doesn’t have to give each and every character some crazy ‘style’, but they try not to have their entire cast look the same. (However, the writer should try to keep in mind that siblings can certainly look similar.)

– Develop A Wide Variety Of Personality Types
As was mentioned previously, the writer has a variety of character ‘types’ available to them so they don’t have to create all of their characters to be the “dark and sarcastic” type or the “tough guy” type.

Usually, writers ‘back up’ their character’s personality with real-life psychology. For example, two characters can both have a tragic background, however, they don’t process the trauma in the same way. One character takes on a very ‘withdrawn’ approach, whereas the other ‘hides’ their pain with humor. This gives them very different personalities despite having similar histories.

– Match The Character’s History With The ‘Effects’ Of It
This is when some psychological effects of trauma can help the writer accurately and realistically create a character.

Now, not all characters have to go through trauma, but there are other big ‘life events’ that can shape how they behave.

– Make ‘Secondary’ Characters “Foil” Types
This is largely to help with ‘personality contrast’. Most of the time, this will happen naturally if each character has a unique personality. The writer then can craft their personality types to show the opposite of the main characters’ personality.

This is done first to create more diversity, and secondly, creates some non-plot-specific conflict.

– Each Character Should Have A Distinct ‘Voice’
All of us ‘speak’ differently, and so should the characters. Depending on where they are from, they could have different ‘accents’, slang, and even phrases they tend to use regularly.

When the writer creates two characters from very different areas of the world—and they have the same style of speaking—the audience will be pulled out of the story because it is not realistic. The character’s voices have to be consistent and not the same.

– A Diverse Cast Needs To Be Created
Today, writers try to create their ‘cast’ of characters just as diverse as the real world is—with varying skin, hair, and eye colors, along with varying body types, disabilities, and even mental illnesses.

– Stereotypes Need To Be Avoided
The reason for this is because so many writers feel as though if they need a “side character” but is too lazy to do the real work—which means they create a stereotype of a specific type of person that can oftentimes be harmful without the writer even knowing.

A great way for the writer to ensure that they never have an ‘offensive’ stereotyped character is to use a ‘sensitivity reader’ or make sure that they have a diverse group of ‘beta readers’ who can speak on behalf of the characters that have been developed.

So, as mentioned, a character “arc” is used to describe the inner and even outer ‘journey’ of the character, which can be either physical, mental, or emotional experiences throughout the duration of the story.

To create a character arc, at the very least, your protagonist, or main character, requires a character ‘arc’ for their storyline and journey to be captivating and satisfying for readers.

[ Character “Arc” Example ]

So, when the character comes out at the end of the book as a ‘transformed’ person this is the character’s ‘arc’.

Therefore, during the character development, the writer will ask themselves some questions in order to create lifelike and realistic personalities for their characters. Here are 50 ‘typical’ character development questions to ask (Provided by Bella Rose Pope):

– What is their full name?
– Why did their parents choose that name?
– What are their parents like?
– Do they have siblings?
– What are their siblings like?
– Were they bullied by their siblings?
– What order are they in their family (firstborn, middle, etc.)?
– What do they look like (full appearance)?
– Do they have any quirks or nervous habits?
– What do they do when they get mad?
– What do they do when they’re happy?
– Do they have close friends?
– What are their friends like?
– What’s their worst habit?
– What’s their best habit?
– What’s their biggest weakness?
– What’s their biggest strength?
– What is something they want to improve upon?
– What’s something they excel in?
– Did they go to school or an equivalent?
– What were they like in school?
– Do they like to learn?
– Are they a rebel?
– Are they an obliger (people-pleaser)?
– Are they internally motivated?
– Do they look to others for help in times of stress?
– What is their stress response?
– Do they think logically or emotionally to make decisions?
– Are they able to make decisions clearly when emotional?
– What are their beliefs on religion?
– Do they have a strong moral compass?
– What do they value most in life (money, happiness, etc.?)
– What is something that would trigger irrational behavior?
– Are they introverted or extroverted?
– Are they a troublemaker or do they play by the rules?
– What’s something that fulfills them?
– Do they know their life’s purpose?
– Who’s someone causing emotional struggles in their life?
– Who do they go to when they’re upset?
– What type of weather do they enjoy most?
– What are their sleeping habits like?
– What are their eating habits like?
– What’s something they could change about their world if they could?
– Are they someone who speaks up for themselves?
– Are they a passive person?
– What are they like at their very worst?
– What are they like at their very best?
– What do they envision their life to be 10 years from now?
– What do they want for their life when they’re old and gray?
– What does the “perfect” life look like in their eyes?
– Now, developing your character will be easier than ever!

‘BACKSTORY’
So, as mentioned, one of the major ‘elements’ in creating a story is the ‘backstory’ of the characters, and to make a character’s backstory feel real, many ‘branches’ of a person’s life and history are needed: Physical health; Psychological health; Economic means; etc. Then, one needs to explain how each of these elements shaped the person’s life.

Character ‘development’ is a vital aspect of a believable story. When characters are one-dimensional and predictable, they are hard to believe. We are all ‘products’ of both nature (ingrained personality traits) and nurture (our past experience and how we respond to it), so writers use these things to ‘flesh out’ their characters.

Writers use significant events that have happened to the characters throughout their lives—both for better and for worse—to ‘shape’ them. Characters, like real people, may carry all kinds of experiences with them, such as:

– A happy, loving childhood
– An abusive, cruel childhood
– Lost loves
– Inspiring mentors
– Smaller and larger triumphs
– Smaller and larger defeats

Then, significant past events for each character’s life are used to expand a character’s experiences that might trigger the following:

– Fear
– Comfort
– Nostalgia
– Anger
– Retreat

The writer then places characters in situations that ‘trigger’ their past struggles (or, in positive cases, echo the fondest memories they want to live again). Repetition and change are two key aspects of backstory. Writers then have the characters deal with lessons they are doomed to repeat, not having learned the proper response the first time. Then, sometimes the writer has the character ‘break their mold’ of the past to create a ‘deeper’ backstory. Writers then use ‘flashback’ scenes and dream sequences as a ‘tool’ to present what happened in the past, or a piece of dialogue where one character simply tells another what happened can be effective.

Finally, the writer is always balancing the ‘pacing’ of how they release the characters’ backstories by only revealing bits of backstory little by little. Again, all with the goal to be realistic and believable.

USING ‘INTERNAL’ CONFLICT
Conflict creates tension while providing opportunities for characters to ‘grow’ and mature as they navigate their character ‘arcs’—just like conflict does in one’s real life.

However, some of the most compelling conflict doesn’t come from an external source. Rather, it comes from ‘within’ the character. These character versus self struggles include cognitive dissonance—having things at odds with each other.

Competing desires, moral quandaries, mental health battles, insecurity, confusion, and self-doubt—‘internal’ conflict—haunts the character because it affects not only how they see themselves, but it also alters their future and often the lives of the people they care about. They carry a ‘weightiness’ that can’t be easily set aside.

Internal conflict is critical for helping characters acknowledge habits that hold them back. Without that soul-cleansing ‘tug-of-war’, the Grinch would have stolen Christmas! ;^D

So it is important for the writer to include this inner ‘wrestling match’ for any character experiencing a change arc. But, equally important is how the writer reveals that struggle to the audience. It is all happening on the inside of the character, so the writer needs to be a bit ‘subtle’ introducing it. (The best method is to highlight the internal and external ‘cues’ that hint at a character’s deeper problem.)

So, when the writer has a viewpoint that allows them to reveal a character’s thoughts, it is much easier to draw attention to the struggle within. They just need to show the character experiencing the following:

– Obsessive Thoughts
Whatever is plaguing the character, they need to spend time figuring out what to do about it—however, too much introspection can slow the pace and diminish the audience’s interest. The character should be allowed to ‘poke’ at the issue, examining it from different angles.

– Avoidance
Like us, characters crave control and certainty, so not knowing what to do can make them feel incapable, afraid, and insecure.

Being constantly reminded of their unsolvable problem might be emotionally painful enough for them to try to escape it. So, one way to convey this is by having them slam the ‘door’ on a certain train of thought. Maybe they really immerse themselves into work as a form of distraction.

For example, the character could take avoidance a step further into full-blown ‘denial’, destroying paperwork or putting away mementos that remind them of the impossible decision. This shows the incongruence between what is happening on the inside and the outside.

– Indecision
When characters don’t know what to do, they must be allowed to consider their options. When the character is vacillating between choices—playing out various scenarios—they must be shown weighing the pros and cons (as one would do in ‘real’ life).

– External Indicators
When the writer is limited to plumb a character’s depths—maybe because they are not your ‘perspective’ character—they can still show the audience—and other cast members—the struggle by ‘playing out’ the external signs of what is happening inside.

– Over- and Under-Compensation
This is when the character is not going to be happy with their own inability to make a decision or take action. If their ego becomes involved—or they are the kind of person who wants to keep up pretenses—they may overcompensate by becoming ‘pushy’ or by controlling others making them feel better about their inability to control their own lives.

Or—as in life—when plagued with indecision, the character can become averse to making any decisions at all (Even when the smallest questions are raised, they defer to others.)

So, letting other people take the lead ensures the character will not make a mistake, alleviating some of the ‘pressure’.

– Distraction
The human brain can focus on only so many things at once. A character consumed with a troubling scenario is not going to have much ‘mental time’ for anything else. As a result, their productivity at work or school could take a ‘hit’ and they may become forgetful. Responsibilities may be done halfway or fall to the wayside. These indicators evidence the chaos they are feeling beneath the ‘surface’.

– Mistakes
Characters under pressure can’t be always making the best decisions. Like real life, mistakes need to get them into trouble from time-to-time. For a usually level-headed character, this can serve as a ‘neon sign’ to others that something isn’t right with them.

– Emotional Volatility
A problem that someone can’t fix steals their peace, sleep, and their joy. This may be normal for short periods, but when it continues for too long, one of the first things to go is emotional stability.

So, such a character can be allowed to ‘lash out’ at others. Another may constantly be on the verge of tears, with every little thing seeming like it’s the last ‘straw’.

A character’s responses depend on their personality and ‘normal’ emotional range. This is why the writer needs to figure out which response makes the most sense and be consistent in their portrayal of that character’s character.

So, the writer needs to reveal an inner ‘struggle’ by focusing on the visible, underlying results of that conflict—just like real life. Most importantly, the writer needs to develop the character to such an extent so that the audience can predict how they will respond to certain ‘issues’.

Have questions about internal conflict? Find answers in my book “The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles.”

USING ‘CRISIS’
In the writing community, probably the most utilized conflict is a ‘crisis’ (also known as a “dilemma”). It happens when a character has to choose between two opposing things—and they can’t have both at the same time.

There are two ‘types’ of crises that are used most of the time:

– The Best Bad Choice
The character has to choose between two negative options.

– Irreconcilable Goods
The character has to choose between two positive options.

For example, in “The Hobbit,” Bilbo Baggins gets called on an adventure. He has two options: (1) Refuse and continue to live his predictable life, which invites a sort of personal stagnation or (2), accept and risk danger and death, which include gaining personal experience and growth. Each option has both negative and positive ‘roadblocks’ tied to them: Stay safe and alive, but somewhat stagnant, or risk danger and death, and grow through experience.

The crisis is a moment where the writer lays out the current ‘roadblock’—and the directions the story could go—depending on what the character chooses. What the character selects will then reveal a lot about them. In fact, a crisis is one of the most effective ways to reveal true character (as it does in real life). [ Note: When Bilbo accepts Gandalf’s invitation, it reveals that he would ultimately rather risk danger and death to experience the adventure. ]

A crisis helps indicate a character’s ‘true’ inner belief system. It is easy to proclaim that one will do when there are no ‘stakes’ or competing choices. An example would be that one might insist repeatedly that I always tell the truth, but if telling the truth could get them fired, leaving their family with little to eat, they face a difficult decision. Do they value honesty or food more? (To dig a little deeper, one may ask why they value one over the other, or how they came to value one over the other.)

Because crises emphasize cause, this also puts ‘responsibility’ on the protagonist. When they choose an option, they are also choosing its ramifications and consequences.

Crises can be a great way to create that all-important ‘internal’ conflict and also can plant ‘seeds’ of doubt and regret as the character may be ‘haunted’ by their choices and the accountability they bring.

Writers use crises a lot since they know that it will strengthen the story, particularly because it reveals the character’s character.

‘SHOWING’ CHARACTER
There is an axiom that says we have three ‘faces’. The first face, you show to the world, the second face, you show to your close friends and one’s family, and the third face, is never shown to anyone, since it is the truest reflection of who one is.

So, when the writer has the character meet people, strangers or an acquaintance, they make them put on their best impression (which can result in the character acting differently than how they normally would). Whereas when the character meets with ones they trust and love, the writer can show the more ‘genuine’ side of their personality that appears when they are around those they are comfortable with. However, there may be times when the writer needs to show the deeply personal and secretive side of the character that they only share with themselves—the ‘truest’ representation of themselves.

So, the writer think of these ‘faces’ as what the character is ‘showing’ tot he world around them: expression, opinion, and reaction. Each ‘face’ them represents a different way the character interacts with and ‘reveals’ themselves to the world. Each face reveals a different ‘aspect’ of the character’s character.

The thing is, the writer knows that each face ‘informs’ the other two, and as the character reveals each one, an added dimension is shown.

[ Note: Some say this axiom originates from James Calvell’s 1975 novel “Shogun,” in which he says: “It’s a saying they have, that a man has a false heart in his mouth for the world to see, another in his breast to show to his special friends and his family, and the real one, the true one, the secret one, which is never known to anyone except to himself alone, hidden only God knows where.”

In another place in the novel he writes: “The Japanese have six faces and three hearts. A deceitful heart in their mouth to show in public; another heart in their chest that only friends and family get to know; and at last their real heart that nobody knows and that remains hidden in an undisclosed location.”

Another source says that it might be related to an observation written by a Jesuit missionary: “[The Japanese people] are so crafty in their hearts that nobody can understand them. Whence it is said that they have three hearts: a false one in their mouths for all the world to see, another within their breasts only for their friends, and the third in the depths of their hearts, reserved for themselves alone and never manifested to anybody.” (Source: “História da Igreja do Japão,” Volume 1, Page 173; Written by Father João Rodrigues, SJ) ]

CHARACTER ‘TRAITS’
Character refers to the sum of an individual’s qualities and characteristics which differentiate them from others. An individual’s character is actually an amalgamation of their qualities—or ‘traits’—which make them unique and helps them stand apart from the rest. So, the writer needs to develop the character’s ‘inner self’.

Character traits are valued aspects of a person’s behavior and everyone has them, both good and bad. Some character traits reveal positive aspects of a person’s underlying values or beliefs, like some of the following examples:

– Generosity
– Integrity
– Loyalty
– Devoted
– Loving
– Kindness
– Sincerity
– Self-control
– Peaceful
– Faithful
– Patience
– Determination
– Persistence
– Open-minded
– Fair
– Cooperative
– Tolerant
– Optimistic
– Honesty
– Leadership
– Trust
– Courage
– Patience
– Spiritual

Now, since no one is perfect, everyone has a bit of a ‘darker’ side. Some people may have character traits that are generally viewed with a negative connotation.

– Dishonest
– Disloyal
– Unkind
– Mean
– Rude
– Disrespectful
– Impatient
– Greed
– Abrasive
– Pessimistic
– Cruel
– Unmerciful
– Narcissistic
– Obnoxious
– Malicious
– Pettiness
– Quarrelsome
– Caustic
– Selfish
– Unforgiving

A person’s character traits can also impact how they approach ‘leading’ people and whether or not others are likely to see them as effective leaders. It turns out that a person’s leadership style is closely related to various character traits.

– Dominance
– Confidence
– Persuasive
– Ambitious
– Bossy
– Resourceful
– Decisive
– Charismatic
– Authoritarian
– Enthusiastic
– Bold
– Proactive

People can also have some ‘fun’ traits associated with their character.

– Playful
– Zany
– Active
– Wild
– Silly
– Affectionate
– Funny
– Rough
– Talkative
– Rowdy
– Smart
– Fidgety
– Shy
– Lively
– Joyful
– Stubborn

In novels and movies, there are often—as mentioned previously—‘archetypes’ of characters. For instance, there might be a fearless hero, a cruel leader, or a helpless heroine who needs to be rescued. Writers use these classic traits to help readers identify what role each character plays in the story.

Heroic main characters tend to have certain character traits that differentiate them from supporting characters or villains.

– Dauntless
– Strong
– Courageous
– Reliable
– Fearless
– Daring
– Tough
– Brave

When describing a story’s villain, writers will generally endow the character with a variety of negative traits.

– Ugly
– Evil
– Cunning
– Deceptive
– Murderous
– Immoral
– Vengeful
– Maniacal

Romantic leads who seek to woo a would-be sweetheart tend to have certain appealing character traits.

– Charm
– Wit
– Sentimentality
– Affection
– Intensity
– Charisma

Even though someone’s character and personality are intertwined, the two are quite distinct. The easiest way to separate the two is to say that personality traits are ‘surface-level’ observations, visible from the outside, while character traits are ‘deep-seated’—not immediately obvious and developed over time.

An outgoing, amiable personality can be easily observed and it is easy to tell that they come across as friendly, upbeat, and outgoing, however, is not so easily ‘observed’. For example, the writer would need to allow the audience the time to get to know the character better to determine if, for example, honesty is one of their key character traits.

So—just like in real life—the audience needs to be allowed to observe a character’s traits so they can learn more about them and make some ‘decisions’ about their character. Like the real world, the best way to learn about a person’s character is by watching how they interact with other people and the world around them.

Character traits can be used to develop ‘rich’ characters in the story that are more true-to-life and ‘round out’ a character. Having well-developed characters in the story will make the characters more ‘three-dimensional’, realistic, and allow the audience to ‘identify’ with them better.

DEVELOPING ONE’S ‘REAL-LIFE’ CHARACTER
So, as was mentioned numerous times already, the really ‘believable’—and most ‘loved’—characters in a novel or a film VERY CLOSELY reflect a person in ‘real-life’ since we can relate to them and the ’issues’ they have to respond to.

As mentioned previously, one’s character is the aggregate of distinctive attributes and conspicuous traits that make up and distinguish an individual. So then, what character traits are considered ‘good’, and how can one develop them?

Well, Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Character is who you ARE at your very ‘core’ of your being. It is all the values and beliefs you hold dear in your ‘heart’—the person you are when you are alone (the third ‘face’ of that axiom previously mentioned). So then, what are the ‘key’ values one should focus on developing?

Well, people often get confused by the difference between “having good character” and “being a good person.” There is definitely some ‘overlap’ between these—many good people also have good character—but in the end, they are two distinct things.

It all comes down to a person’s ‘core values’ and to their ‘motivations’ for acting as they do. In general, people who are considered to have good character often have traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty, fortitude, and other important virtues that promote good behavior. These character traits define who they are as people—and highly influence the choices they make in their lives.

Furthermore, a person with a positive character does the right thing because they believe it is the right thing to do. They don’t act because someone else is influencing or pressuring them to do so, and they don’t do something just because they want to look good in front of others. They take the right action because it is important to them to live life according to their personal values.

On the other hand, some people simply make positive actions because of other ‘influences’. For instance, someone may donate money to a charitable organization when they are solicited in front of other people—to make them ‘look good’ but they may not have donated had they been ‘alone’ at the time.

While the action of donating, in this case, is ‘objectively’ good (and the person who donated is very likely “a good person”), this action isn’t necessarily a ‘marker’ of good character. It is also not a marker of poor character by any means—but the distinction of how you act in front of others versus how you act when you are alone is the key. (Again, that third ‘face’.)

At its core, character is something that intrinsically occurs within a person and surpasses other factors like race, religion, age, gender, education, and even personality in determining how one responds when faced with tough situations in life. Other factors and one’s lived experiences may influence the character traits they have, but it is ultimately their CHARACTER itself that ‘truly’ dictates how they act.

Most people believe that their unique qualities and traits are ‘good’. While they may admit that there is room for improvement, they generally believe that they are a “good person” living life about as well as anyone can.

[ VIDEO: “Are You a Good Person?” ]

So, if you’re interested in further developing your character, it is important to understand which traits are ‘markers’ of good character—and which traits are related to one another.

In general, most people agree that values like honesty, integrity, loyalty, and dependability are positive character traits to have. But, of course, there are many other ‘factors’ that are commonly found alongside these traits such as diligence, loyalty, responsibility, truthfulness, and more.

When one sets a goal to have a certain trait, they can more easily develop it by becoming more conscious of their actions—and by working to integrate appropriate behaviors into their daily life.

Developing healthy, positive character is a very ‘active’ process. As Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

‘WAYS’ FOR DEVELOPING CHARACTER
We are NOT born with the qualities that make up our character. Character develops as one goes through their life, enjoying different experiences and strengthening their character if they choose to.

Here are some ‘WAYS’ you can develop your character:

– Define Core Values
Which moral values do you feel strongest about? (You probably already have a sense of what these are.) Think about when you have been most upset with someone in the past. Chances are that, during these times, they did something that was against one of your core values. Now, think about your experiences and make a list of the values you feel are most important to you.

– Look For Ways To Use These Values Every Day
Remember situations in the past when you didn’t stand your ground? What could you have done differently? (Don’t use this as a time to blame yourself and feel guilty about what you did at the time. We all have made mistakes.) However, you have the power to do the right thing now. Remember and learn from past mistakes so that you can avoid them in the future.

– Evaluate Your Circle Of Friends And Colleagues
Spend time with people you admire and have the kind of character you would like to see in yourself. The more time you spend with people you admire, the more you can observe and learn from their actions.

– Act On Your Beliefs
Good character is ‘built’ on what you do. So, take every opportunity you can to put your beliefs into action. Even small decisions in minor situations can make a big difference.

– Find more activities to develop your character
Do volunteer work, read biographies about people you admire and respect, and work to develop your emotional intelligence.

– Defending Your Character
There are times when our hearts tell us to stand up for what we think is right. But how and when should we stand our ground?

– Know When To Stop Being Nice
Many of us let situations get out of control because we want to be polite and not “rock the boat.” However, there is a big difference between being ‘nice’ and not speaking up because you were afraid or unsure. Listen to your instincts in these situations. Sometimes it is best to ‘defend’ yourself, or someone else, and not be so concerned about being nice. (Just be sure to be ‘respectful’.)

– Look At The Facts
If you have confidence in the logical and factual side of your argument or beliefs, it will be easier to stand your ground. So, make sure that you have all of the information you need. You also need to ensure that you understand this information. If you think other people are withholding any information or not explaining things clearly, make sure that you persist in asking them questions until you fully understand the situation.

– Work With People, Not Against Them
When you communicate your beliefs, be assertive. This means getting your views across while considering the rights, needs, and wants of others. Be polite and thoughtful, and don’t let emotion get in the way of what you have to say. Respect people, and communicate as unemotionally and as clearly as you can.

– Don’t Force Your Beliefs On Others
You may strongly believe that a particular ‘something’ is wrong. However, criticizing others when they do this in your presence is imposing your beliefs onto them. This is not helpful. Try ‘persuasion’ instead. (Remember, there is a big difference between standing up for what you know is right, and being stubborn, arrogant, or uncooperative.)

– Letting Things Go
There will be times when you will have to admit defeat, back down, and make the best of the situation. You won’t get your own way every time. But, by standing your ground initially, you have the opportunity to show your character, and communicate your thoughts and concerns. Most people will respect you for this. Just be sure you ‘fess up’ and honestly apologize for your mistakes.

So, to develop character, start by highlighting your most important values. Then look for ways to uphold those values every day, even in unimportant situations. Also, look at the friends and co-workers who you spend the most time with. Surround yourself with people you admire, to further inspire you to strengthen your own character.

When you do stand your ground, communicate your views clearly and don’t be afraid of ‘rocking the boat’. Respect the views and needs of other people, and recognize that there may be times when you have to ‘back down’.

FORMING ‘GOOD’ CHARACTER
Character cannot be separated from the person. To be of good character means that one’s habits, actions, and emotional responses all are united and directed toward the moral and the good. That is to say, public actions cannot be separated from private actions. Both sets of actions affect one’s character, and moral character is formed by one’s actions.

Not only do actions reflect the goodness or badness of one’s character, one’s actions also change one’s character. The more one does an immoral action or recommends an immoral action for others, the more it becomes part of one’s character to be the type of person who condones that immoral action. In order to be of good character one must not only know and desire the good, one must also pursue it in both private and public actions. Virtue is an aid in this. It is the act of good character.

Growing in the virtues—especially prudence (knowing what to seek and what to avoid)—forms good character. So, what is at stake is the ‘integrity’ of the person.

When one is ‘pressured’ or convinced or even willing to perform an action that one considers to be bad or wrong, it ‘corrupts’ one’s (good) character. So does one’s character regulate one’s actions or do they generate a specific or required set of actions? These seem to be key issues in discussions of conscience, conscientious objection, and character.

French philosopher Paul Ricoeur defined character as “The set of distinctive marks which permit the re-identification of a human individual as being the same.” This suggests that we cannot separate character from the person and say here is the person and there is their character. A person can be distinguished from their actions, what was done is different from who did it. But the same distinction cannot be made between character and action.

A more detailed definition of character can be found in the three facets of dispositions, desires, and tendencies. American philosopher Paul W. Taylor (Author of the book “Principles of Ethics”) said that, “Having steady and permanent dispositions to do what is right and to refrain from doing what is wrong; having morally desirable wishes, desires, purposes, and goals; and having the tendency to respond emotionally toward things in the morally appropriate way.”

So, the habits, actions, and emotional responses of the person of good character all are ‘united’ and directed toward the moral and the good.

Aristotle’s famous four categories of character (the virtuous, the continent, the incontinent, and the vice-filled) were presented in his “Nicomachean Ethics” book, and reflect aspects of this deeper definition.

– In the ‘virtuous’ person, reason and appetite are united, and their appetite is controlled by reason so the right thing gets done (most of the time).

– In the ‘continent’ person, reason and appetite are not united, but reason wins out more often than appetite. The desire is there, and the right thing gets done more frequently than not.

– In the ‘incontinent’ person, reason and appetite are not united, and appetite wins out more often than reason. There is correct knowledge of the right thing to do and desire to do it, to be a virtuous person, but if one fails more than one wins; and appetite overrides reason.

– In the ‘vice-filled’ person, reason and appetite are united, and the reason is a ‘slave’ to passions and appetites. The vice-filled person chooses what their appetites command.

So, there are ‘degrees’ by which a person will perform these categories. One person may be more continent or less incontinent. In addition to that, persons are not ‘static’, they (usually) move within a category or between categories during the course of their lifetime. Most persons fall into the categories of ‘continent’ and ‘incontinent’—they know what is ‘good’ and are more or less able to do it.

Then, another facet of character is that one must have right reason or, more specifically, a rightly ‘formed’ reason. That is, not just knowledge of the good but ‘correct’ knowledge of the good. This is why ‘TRUTH’ is so important for character development (as well as human interaction and moral decision-making).

So, one’s character is based upon the truth, as they ‘know’ it.

Therefore, the more one knows truth, the better able one is able to form a ‘good’ character. A consequence of this is that the one who thinks they know the good is harder to correct than the one who is incontinent yet has right reasoning. As St. Aquinas so aptly put it:

“It is clear that anyone making a mistake in principles cannot be easily recalled from error, because reasoning does not teach the principles. Hence the intemperate man, who errs about the principle of things to be done, cannot revoke his error through any persuasion, and thus he is not amenable or penitent until the habit causing the error is destroyed by a contrary practice of long standing.” The ‘incontinent’ person knows they are doing something wrong, and wants to and tries to change. The person who thinks they are doing something right when they are not is hard to convince, because they think they are right. In other words, they ‘think’ they have the truth, but may not.”
[ “The Intemperate Are Worse Than the Incontinent” – Lecture 8, 1432. ]

So then, can character be ‘compartmentalized’ so that it is unaffected by certain actions or that one has more than one character? Well, fundamental to answering these questions is the relationship of character to the person, the amount of control over character development that a person has, and the effects of one’s actions upon their character.

Being of ‘good’ character is a unique ‘mixture’ of strengths, weaknesses, virtues, vices, knowledge, and experience. A person expresses their character through ‘ACTIONS’, and the ‘accumulation’ of all observations and interactions with others reveals their character.

So, it requires a multitude of good actions to confirm the good character of a person. However, it takes only one bad action to lead an observer to question that good character. So, they might think that this person is of lesser character then they had first thought, or maybe, in this particular area, the person has a ‘weakness’.

Even further, because people change over time, character cannot really be ‘fully’ known until after changes stop (usually at death), and one can hardly know one’s own character without some ‘external’ input.

Now, this does not mean that character is ‘completely’ unknowable. One’s actions are ‘telling’ them about their character and one can ‘generally’ predict their actions. This is why one bad action from an otherwise good character mostly seems to come as a ‘shock’ to those who are familiar with the person.

It also seems that we are better able to know another’s character when the other person is closer to the virtuous or vice-filled ends of the character ‘spectrum’. The more one’s moral character tends toward one end of the spectrum (good or bad), the less unique it becomes but the more rare. Good character is an ideal ‘outside’ of oneself that all should strive for.

Now, at the ‘extremes’ of moral character, uniqueness is found more in personality, rather than it is in character. The virtue of prudence (or fortitude or temperance or justice, etc.) is the same in all who possess it, though it may express itself differently depending on circumstances and personalities.

Shyness can sometimes be (more or less) overcome through training and practice in social or group settings. Aggressiveness can be directed toward useful or good purposes rather than bad or criminal ones (Anecdotal evidence for the changeability of character abounds). It is generally observable that character is subject to change over time, whether the change is small or a complete reversal.

Aristotle, in a more philosophical examination of character and the person, found three things related to the soul: passions (appetite and emotions), faculties (the capability to experience passions), and states of character (being well- or ill-disposed to each passion, the best state being moderation between extremes, for example, feeling anger moderately rather than too weakly or too violently).

St. Aquinas took these up three ‘findings’ and interpreted them as passion (passio), power (potentia), and habit (habitus). He then analyzed in which of these three that character actually resides.

He posited that character is not a ‘passion’ because passions come and go and character is indelible. Then he said that character is not a ‘habit’ because a bad habit cannot necessarily be good nor a good habit be bad, but character can be either good or bad (In other words, it is indifferent to goodness and badness.) So, he surmised that character must be a ‘power’, a “potentia.”

Here then is the ‘root’ of the mutability of character, namely, a power is an ability or potential for change of some sort. There is ‘movement’ from potential to actual, from power to action. Ricoeur saw this power of character as a disposition acquired over time. This disposition is both immutable and mutable, stable and changeable. The ‘source’ of these two seemingly incompatible traits is ‘habit’, that is, one is continually forming habits (mutability) and making use of already realized habits (a type of immutability). This last one is what Ricoeur refers to as “sedimentation,” “Which confers on character sort of permanence in time.” Therefore, through the acquiring and the breaking of habits, character is formed and is formable.

The other ‘side’ of the relation between moral character and action is the effect of ACTION on character. Three aspects of action relevant to this are repetition of action and its effect on the person, the type of action, and intention and responsibility.

Actions can be repetitive or automatic in (at least) three different ways: by habit, by education, and by habits. When an action is constantly repeated, over time it can become a habit.

When an action gradually becomes unconscious or automatic, then the will is less involved in the initiation of the action. Consequently, a habit takes away some freedom (St. Aquinas). One is no longer as free to do something different. They can change their habit, but it usually requires continual, conscious effort and much struggle (until a new habit is established).

[ FYI: The “Atomic Habits” book by James Clear is one of the best resources about developing and keeping good habits. More information about it is in the “Resources” section below. ]

Another type of automatic action is a ‘SKILL’. These actions are done without consciously thinking through all the steps and reasoning and judgments.

One trains their body through experience and repetition in how to act and react in a certain environment or under certain circumstances. This functions as a kind of physical memory, a memory in the body.

A third way actions become automatic is through ‘DISPOSITION’, what Aquinas calls “habitus.” Rather than a habit as a type of ‘muscle’ memory, it becomes a disposition to act in a specific way in all situations. The source of this last type of action is ‘CHARACTER’.

The thing is, there is nothing about habits that requires it to be good. One may also be miserly and act in a miserly way and therefore develop a bad disposition or habits of miserliness. The thing is, it’s the ‘morality’ of the action that determines the morality of the habits. But not all acts can be ‘cataloged’ as moral or immoral. There are different types or ‘categories’ of actions.

Because people are body/soul unities, actions of the body are actions of the self. German philosopher Edith Stein said, “As an instrument of my acts, my body is an integral part of the unity of my personality.”

Digestion of food is certainly an action, as is jumping when startled or yawning when tired. St. Aquinas calls these acts of a human being (“actus humanus”) and distinguishes them from human acts (“actus humanis”). Human acts are ‘rational’ acts, “those springing from man’s will following the order of reason” and those “of which man is master… through his reason and will.” Consequently, they are ‘moral’ acts.

Acts are more closely associated with character than are acts of people, because the former actions come from the ‘whole’ person. They are a ‘commitment’ of the whole person. The body did what the will desired. In other words, the person threw the whole of themselves, as a ‘psycho-somatic’ unity, into the action. The person could have chosen to do something different, but ‘chose’ this particular action.

In contrast, an act of a human is not a matter of choice. A person cannot choose to stop the physical act of their stomach growling. A growling stomach is not a choice. One can choose to eat something and thereby stop the growling, but cannot choose to stop the growling directly by willing it. Action draws together all of the elements in the experience of the person, so action ‘reveals’ the person.

So there are two important aspects of the revelatory nature of action. They are ‘responsibility’ and ‘intention’. People ‘own’ their actions and the consequences of them. (This even applies to actions that are accidental rather than willed and chosen.) This intimacy between an action and the person who performs it is also recognized when a “why” is added to the “who did it.”

The will is the rational power of people to act. It is the ability to choose what is good (or what one thinks is good) directed by reason. In the will, then, is found ‘intention’. Voluntary actions have their source in intention while involuntary actions—such as being startled—do not. There are forward-looking motives or intentions, (such as “to heal” and backward-looking motives or reasons, such as fear of ridicule, loss of job, or loss of a reputation). Most importantly, actions come from what is internal and inseparable from the will.

So, responsibility and intention are ‘rooted’ in the will, which is the ‘source’ of the self-possession and self-governance of people. Self-possession is different from possession of an object. One can own or hold an object, such as a rock, and therefore have possession of it. But one owns and holds oneself internally in a way one cannot with a rock. They are conscious of the rock as something that is external, but are conscious of themselves from the inside. They are both the object of their consciousness as well as the subject. As such, they have ‘possession’ of themselves in a more intimate way than they have possession of a rock.

People are then what they ‘possess’. They possess what they themselves ‘are’. Even under duress, a person is self-possessing. One can be stopped from doing something through external sources—such as obstacles put in their way or even physical restraint—but no one can be ‘forced’ to do something. One can be prevented from doing something by external forces, but carrying through with an action has an element of the voluntary, of willing to do it and therefore cannot be forced.

Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl said that, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Now, another way the will can be hindered is by lack of ‘knowledge’. In other words, while the will cannot be forced to will something, it can be hindered from doing what is willed (St. Aquinas).

So, the corollary of self-possession is self-governance. Self-governance includes self-control but is farther and wider reaching into the interior of the self. It is not mere control, but ‘rule,’ which includes control and more. The person is self-governing in that he can carry out a human action or not carry it out as he wills. Because of self-possession and self-governance, people both intend their actions and have responsibility for their actions.

So, along with self-possession and self-governance, comes self-determination. The person is self-directed and formed in an internal process isolated from external events and influences.

For character, what I am and who I am are the same: “Character is truly the ‘what’ of the ‘who’” (Paul Ricoeur). The ‘what’ is internal to the ‘who’. Whereas, for action, they are separable. The ‘what’ can be isolated.t. The what is ‘external’ to the who. One can “distinguish between what someone does and the one who does something” (Paul Ricoeur). Certainly, it is true that the who can be distinguished from the what, but they cannot really be separated from each other. A particular person did this specific action.

If one changes perspective, from an ‘external’ examination of the action performed and the person performing it, to an ‘internal’ examination of the person performing this action, then one can see that, while there is distinction, there is not separation. The person is the source and cause of their own actions.

Therefore, whichever choice is made, the action is an expression of one’s character and also reinforces or changes one’s character (i.e., people are ‘self-determining’).

When a person recognizes a habit in themselves as bad (e.g., smoking or biting one’s nails), they usually seek to change it. It is recognized when someone is acting ‘out of character’. Our character allows others to predict, in a way, the types of actions we will do. Being of good character means that some actions are excluded, but also that some are included and expected. We expect to perceive the virtues being expressed in the actions of one of good character. At the same time, one of good character tries to increase the virtues in oneself. Actions are expressive of character precisely because people are self-possessing, self-governing, and self-determining.

Acts which are deliberate and chosen are essentially ‘self-determining’, and are internal to and constitutive of an individual’s character. A simple way to describe this is when a bad (or good) action becomes a habit. That habit then becomes ‘part’ of one’s character.

Another way in which action becomes character is through ‘INCLINATIONS’ or virtues. Virtues are acquired only after hard work, attention to one’s actions, and much repetition. They must change their ‘heart’.

Action, then, ‘reverberates’ upon the whole person, so that self-determination is also self-formation and self-development (Kenneth Schmitz). Therefore, moral actions especially have a significant effect on the person, because they are ‘determinative’ of good or bad character.

Action draws upon the whole person as an ‘agent’, affecting the whole person—and it cannot leave the person indifferent to their action. It ‘transforms’ the person, for better or for worse.

So, self-determination is ‘key’ to becoming of good moral character. Paul Taylor sees four ways in which one can train themselves to be morally good:

– Simply doing good and avoiding evil
– Deliberately placing ourselves in situations of moral significance (e.g., volunteering at a soup kitchen)
– Imagining ourselves in such situations and acting rightly
– Reflective thinking about moral matters

Acts are not only self-determinative of an individual but are also self-determinative of a group or community. This, in fact, indicates a fifth way of training one’s character that we can add to Taylor’s four above: Associating with a group or community which embodies the character traits one wishes to acquire. In such association, one can seek to ‘imitate’ the group’s traits and character.

So far, we have seen that one’s actions reflect one’s character, and they also ‘form’ one’s character. Consequently, the ‘morality’ of one’s actions also reflects and forms one’s character. Good moral actions come from a good character and form a good character. Bad moral actions come from and form a bad character.

So, probably the most essential requirement of good moral action is ‘KNOWLEDGE’ of good. Knowledge of the good frees one to act well, that is, to act in accordance with the good that they have come to know. Knowledge of the good is found in study of the world around them and in study of people in general(anthropology, biology, medicine, etc., and including philosophy and theology). In other words, in reality and in truth.

Everyone chooses the good—or what they ‘believe’ to be the good. Even someone acting immorally or breaking the law has some good in mind. Full(er) knowledge of the good frees one to choose the ‘true’ good rather than an ‘apparent’ good, and therefore frees them to act in a truly moral way. More concretely, choosing the good is doing those things which truly constitute to the fulfillment of their character. The act of choosing the good is the process of self-determination with its roots in self-possession and self-governance. In this way, we are ‘responsible’ for our own character.

One’s responsibility is more than for a (single) fundamental option for the good, and is more than having a good intention or choosing actions with good consequences. The ‘object’ of the action must be good, one cannot choose evil means even for a good end, and still say that one is choosing the good. The true ‘fundamental option’ is not a single choice for the good made at one point in one’s life, it is a decision made for or against the good in each and every moral act.

So, in order to be of ‘good’ character, once one ‘knows’ the good, one must also ‘desire’ it. The grasp of the good depends on the dispositions of the subject. The will must actually desire and incline itself to the good.

Choosing for or against the good—for or against the evil—is something that the will is constantly ‘struggling’ with. It is easy to ‘fall’ into evil and hard to continuously do good moral acts—since it requires constant ‘work’ (Since it is difficult to ascertain knowledge and establish truth.) People struggle to arrive at a deeper knowledge of the demands of ‘eternal’ law, and can be impeded because of their own biases, passions, prejudices, and misconceptions common to the cultures in which they live. The ‘HEART’ of the problem is human ‘sinfulness’, which afflicts the whole human race and each individual personally (Biblically, read Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9).

Now, one’s reason can be overcome by passions or misled by false or incomplete knowledge. Their conscience guides them to judge right or wrong action, but that needs training. Conscience needs to know the good and to be listened to in order for them to act according. To listen and to act both require dispositions, desires, and tendencies focused on the good.

Morality is therefore that ‘ordering’ of desire and of the will that is required for a good life. This ordering is not an ‘external’ regulation of acts because they are in harmony with law or because they produce better results in the world, it is rather that interior harmony that reason introduces into our passions and choices precisely so that a person might be themselves. It is a ‘harmony’—an order that is not only a subjectivistic psychological expression—but the reflection of the truth about the good that fulfills a person’s desire.

As we saw from above, St. Aquinas calls this “habitus,” that is, ‘inclination’ or disposition. So, when speaking of moral or good character, this then is an inclination or disposition to the good. In other words, virtue. While habits diminish freedom, virtue and virtues diminish ‘potency’. Potency is then diminished by being put into action. Character is a potency, and when it is put into action, it becomes good character or bad character. Virtue then is the ‘act’ of good character, and virtues are the ‘principles’ of good action.

Virtues are formative of the moral life, are developed through education, and are linked to time and the incompleteness—that is, potency of the person. One could say that virtue is habit, skill, and habit, and that virtues ‘forge’ character. They ‘perfect’ the will and freedom. Consequently, they also ‘perfect’ the person. The virtues then are not just dispositions but an ‘actualization’ of the person, a changing from wanting to be of good character to actually being of good character.

The person acquires the right evaluation regarding the principle of things to be done and, in the end, the habits of virtue either are natural or learned by ‘custom’. This even leads one of virtuous character to act with regret when the right choice in a situation is not ideal. Now, while all people have a natural inclination to the good and therefore to virtue, the virtues need to be trained and developed so that they become a ‘second nature’, an actuality rather than a potency, a ‘habit’ of good character.

– PRUDENCE
So, it is said that the MOST ‘IMPORTANT’ of the virtues is prudence—good character and moral action depend on it. Prudence is ‘right judgment’ in moral matters.

Prudence is so important since it ‘governs’ all the other virtues. If one chooses to learn from their mistakes, learn from others, and patiently consider their choices, before you know it, they will be well on their way to prudent and wise life.

Now, this is not some stiff, formal ‘conformity’ to convention or rule. It is excellence and strength of character involving a disposition and readiness to act with intelligent love in pursuit of real ‘good’ and successful resistance to the ultimately unreasonable lure of bad options.

As St. Aquinas said: “Prudence is the knowledge of what to seek and what to avoid.” It is the virtue “which perfects the reason [and] surpasses in goodness the other moral virtues which perfect the appetitive power” (St. Aquinas). The more prudence one has, the more one judges correctly the right action to take.

At the same time, prudence depends on the other virtues. One may determine through prudence that fortitude is required in a particular situation, but if one does not have ‘fortitude’ then one cannot carry out what prudence concludes is the right course of action. It is the prudence that ‘ties’ all the other virtues together—by ‘judging’ the right thing to do. It ‘steers’ all the virtues to right action and the good.

So, to be of GOOD ‘MORAL’ CHARACTER, a person must have ‘knowledge’ of the good, act in morally good ways, and be disposed and inclined toward the good through ‘virtues’.

Character cannot be separated from the person. To be of good character means that one’s habits, actions, and emotional responses all are united and directed toward the moral and the good. In this end, public actions cannot be separated from private actions. Both sets of actions affect one’s character.

These public acts affect one’s character even if one’s private belief is the opposite of the action. They leave ‘traces’ on one’s character. Then, not only do actions reflect the goodness or badness of one’s character, one’s actions also change one’s character. The more one does an immoral action or recommends an immoral action for others, the more it becomes part of one’s character to be the ‘type’ of person who condones that immoral action.

So, in order to be of good character one must not only know and desire the good, one must also pursue it in both private and public actions. Virtue is an aid in this since it is the ‘act’ of good character. Growing in the virtues, especially prudence—knowing what to seek and what to avoid—forms good character. What then is put at stake is the ‘INTEGRITY’ of the person.

– INTEGRITY
Author C.S. Lewis once said that, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” Integrity is a ‘FOUNDATIONAL’ moral virtue, and the ‘BEDROCK’ upon which good character is built.

Acting with integrity means understanding, accepting, and choosing to live in accordance with one’s principles, which include honesty, fairness, and decency. A person of integrity will consistently demonstrate good character by being free of corruption and hypocrisy.

Integrity is revealed when people act virtuously regardless of circumstance or consequences. This often requires moral courage. Indeed, integrity is the critical connection between ethics and moral action.

It is a vital personality trait that is necessary for the sustenance of relationships between people. People with integrity hold themselves to high ethical and moral standards. Their actions, behaviors, and speech reflect their moral values that govern their lives.

In ethics, integrity is defined as the quality of being truthful and accurate with regard to one’s actions and behavior. The importance f the world can be better understood by evaluating its origin. It originated from the Latin word integer, which means complete. Therefore, having integrity is characterized by the completeness of character and personality. Integrity is the quality of being truthful, honest, and accurate with regard to one’s actions and behaviors and the disposition to live in accordance with personal values, beliefs, and convictions.

The two most important aspects of integrity are honesty and transparency. Honesty refers to the tendency to tell the truth in all situations, regardless of the consequences. Many people lie because of the need for personal gains. Others lie because of the need to hide their true personalities and characters. People with integrity avoid lying and hiding information because such behaviors tarnish their reputation.

On the other hand, transparency refers to the act of revealing information regarding a certain situation or matter without concealing part of it. Transparent and honest people find it easy to communicate and interact with others because of the trust their integrity elicits in other people. I always tell the truth because my reputation is my most valued asset. I believe that it is very important for people to be honest with themselves and others, act in accordance with personal values, and align their lives with moral principles.

The development of personal integrity requires individuals to critically and thoroughly evaluate their beliefs and values to determine whether they have positive or negative impacts on their lives and those of others. Change is an important aspect of inculcating integrity because of the need to evaluate one’s life regularly and constantly. Everyone makes mistakes. However, people with integrity accept them, learn from them, and make the necessary changes to ensure that they do not repeat those mistakes again.

In contemporary society, integrity is a need in all fields, including politics, education, medicine, law, religion, and science, among others. People with integrity are trustworthy and are easy to interact with. For example, many people in politics lack integrity because of the pervasive tradition of lying to voters so that one can get into office. On the other hand, integrity is wanting in many businesses. Many business owners use manipulative techniques to coerce customers to buy their low-quality products. I have experienced several instances of lack of integrity in business. It is unethical for any person to lie or use manipulative methods to sell products or services. People who lack integrity lie, keep secrets, manipulate others, contravene their beliefs and values, and disrespect other people.

Integrity is an invaluable trait that confers self-satisfaction, respect for oneself, and respect from other people, trust, and admiration. People love to deal with people they trust and respect. For example, employers hire people who are honest and transparent because they do not hide anything from them and always take responsibility for their mistakes. The world would be a much better place if everyone adopted integrity by aligning their lives with certain moral and ethical principles.

While integrity is more of a quality than a skill, it can still be developed over time. To identify your personal strengths related to integrity, here are a few of the attributes related to integrity:

– Graciousness
– Respectfulness
– Honesty
– Trustworthiness
– Hardworking
– Responsibleness
– Helpfulness
– Patience
– Dependability
– Loyalty
– Good Judgment

The benefit to integrity is that people trust them, and trust is vitally important in dealing with others, especially in business.

Additionally, when one has integrity, they are true to themselves and their beliefs—not being affected by others who may want to drag them down to their level.

‘SITUATIONS’ THAT DEMONSTRATE CHARACTER
So then, how does one know how their character growth is really doing? Well, this is important to know because character trumps one’s ‘gifting’. (The headlines are littered with gifted people whose character—or lack of it—caused their downfall.) One’s ‘competency’ will take them only as far as their character will sustain them.

The thing is, one’s character is not just revealed in their ‘best’ moments. It often ‘breaks out’ in moments of anxiety and struggle.

So, if you want to know how your character is really doing, consider checking yourself by following these everyday moments that we all encounter.

– What do you think when someone takes ‘your’ parking spot?
It’s that moment when you get to the mall parking lot and see the ‘perfect’ parking spot, only to have someone else dart in.

So, what happened ‘inside’ you at that moment? This would be your character ’speaking’.

(The things we choose to make important in our lives can be silly, right? Most character growth starts when you shift your perspective to what ‘really’ matters in life.)

– How you react to slow Internet?
Patience is a ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life, and the way we react to minor inconveniences—like a long checkout line at the grocery store, traffic on our way to work, or a late package delivery—says a lot about our character.

Life is NEVER going to move at your speed, and you are not the center of the universe. The next time you get stuck in a long line or a webpage takes a little longer to load than normal, take the opportunity to just ‘pause’ and take a breath! Acknowledge there are things in life you can’t control – and that’s okay.

Then, one must ‘reframe’ your perspective a little bit by expressing gratitude that you get to live in a world with grocery stores, Wi-Fi, cars, and next-day shipping—even if they don’t always work exactly the way and when you need them to. (Trust me, life will go on in spite of any minor inconveniences that may crop up throughout your day.) It is also much better to spend those moments being grateful for what you have than frustrated at what you don’t have.

[ FYI: For more details on ‘contentment’, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/achieving-contentment-v282/ ]

– The ‘gap’ between what you think and what you say when someone compliments you
Even if one is really ‘decent’ at what they do—or even ‘great’ at it— there can be a gap between what you say publicly and what you think privately. (We all ‘put on’ a ‘false’ humility.)

One says, “Thanks. It really wasn’t much,” but you are thinking, “I really knocked it out of the ‘park’, didn’t I?”

Then you might say, “Oh, I’m not sure I deserve that,” but you are thinking, “Finally, someone noticed!”

So then, what do you say when someone compliments you? Well, how about, honestly saying, “Thank you. I’m grateful it helped”? (Then, how about privately thanking God for the way He might have used you in that situation?)

Author and lay theologian C.S. Lewis once said that, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

– How you respond to critics
Critics will try to ‘trigger’ defensiveness in you, but you don’t have to respond ‘in kind’. Instead, just say, “Thank you” when someone criticizes you, because, honestly, we all can learn ‘something’ from others.

– What you tell yourself when you make a mistake
What kind of ’self-talk’ loop plays in your head when you make a mistake?

For too many of us, it’s unhealthy! (Again, mistakes are tremendous learning opportunities. They are rarely fatal.)

One of the ‘keys’ to success in life is not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up. To be successful, you only need to get up one more time than you got knocked down.

– How you react when someone overfills the trash and doesn’t take it out
Isn’t there an unwritten ‘rule’ that people who overfill the trash should take it out? [ If not, there should be! ;^D ].

Or, how about when the person who opens the clean dishwasher should empty it? [ I mean, otherwise, the little ‘clean’ light goes off and you can mix dirty and clean dishes together. An ‘unspeakable’ evil if there ever was one, right? ;^D ]

So, being a judgmental critic doesn’t make you part of the solution, it makes you part of the problem (If it bothers you that much, then you be the one to take care of it.)

– Your Social Media ‘voice’
If your friend summed up your social media voice in a single word, what word would they use? Snarky? Bitter? Braggy? Kind? Cynical? Hopeful? Petty? Helpful? Jealous? ____ (Fill in the blank)

Your voice may be who you really are or pretend to be, but is it who you ’should’ be?

– How you react to other people’s social media voice
Since you are the one with the ‘correct’ viewpoints, the air-tight opinions, and the appropriate tone all the world would be so much better if everyone shared the exact same beliefs and lifestyle as you, right?

Well, more often than not, social media brings out the ‘worst’ in us. Maybe it is because we feel ‘safer’ being cruel to each other behind a keyboard, or maybe it is because the algorithm prioritizes things that it knows will get an angry reaction out of us. (I suspect it is both.) The thing is, sadly, I don’t think social media has necessarily made us more loving, empathetic, and compassionate.

How do you react when you come across a social media post from someone with whom you disagree? Do get angry and let that anger seep into other parts of your day? Do you fire off an angry rebuttal to trigger a back-and-forth comment ‘war’ (that’ll ultimately go nowhere and not convince anybody)?

– How you return the shopping cart
It has been said that, “You can tell an awful lot about a person’s character by how they return the shopping cart.”

So, do you leave your shopping cart in the parking lot? Do you return it in a huff, angrily slamming into other carts in the corral? Or do you return it in such a way that it will make life easier for other customers or store’s employees?

‘CIRCUMSTANCES’
Ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said that, “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

Observing a person in a challenging situation or circumstance will manifest much about who they are deep, deep inside themselves, and what they will likely do in related situations in the future. So, at one’s ‘core’ is the center of strength and ability to do what is right, under pressure or even when no one is looking—one’s personal ‘integrity’.

Anything that lacks integrity is unstable, as any structural engineer will tell you. A bridge or skyscraper that has structural integrity simply does what it was designed to do. It isn’t necessarily perfect, having flaws, but, under stress and repeated use, it does what it was built to do. Even in extreme circumstances, it will do what it was designed to do. If, on the other hand, a structure does not have structural integrity it will, at some point, fail.

We live in a world filled with pressure and pressure-filled circumstances—to accomplish something, to get ahead, to be smarter, to conform, to be popular, and to appear successful. However, none of us are perfect and we all have flaws. So, how then, under repeated pressure, can one avoid allowing small ‘cracks’ in our integrity to form? How can one be sure that their character is ‘structurally’ sound? How can one stay true to their core beliefs regardless of circumstance?

Well, ultimately, this determines one’s character. While one cannot control the difficult times one will experience, ultimately it comes down to ensuring that one’s own ‘structural integrity’ reveals their consistent character to the watching world.

‘STRUGGLES’
Life is full of obstacles and the true personality test comes in the form of our response. How we handle our challenges will reveal our actual character. The true personal test comes in the form of our response to the struggle. How we handle our challenges will reveal our ‘actual’ character.

We all have something in our lives that is hard for us to get through. It is a part of being human. We may not get to choose the outcome but we have all the power to choose how we react to the experience. Without struggles, our character wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t be able to see what we are truly ‘made of’.

Again, Helen Keller said that, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Problems can be ‘servants’ helping you grow and the ‘opportunity’ to improve things. Every challenge is nothing more than a chance to make things better. To avoid them is to avoid growth and progress. So, embrace and get the best from the challenges in front of you.

There is a common saying that goes something like this: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” So, anyone that truly believes in this saying is telling the ‘world’ that they will do everything in their power to complete their ‘mission’ regardless of obstacles. It ‘reveals’ their character. Adversity reveals the inner-most strength we all have (or don’t have).

Novelist James Lane Allen said that, “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” It’s true. In our most challenging times, our true character comes to the surface and it will show how deep our values run.

With a deeply rooted character, one can withstand the pressures of their challenges and not surrender their values for a quick fix or an easy way out. They will remind firm with their character in place. Their character is ingrained in their moral ‘fiber’ of who they are as a person, and it will guide them to the right decision for the right reasons. Adversity and challenges can test one to their ‘core’, but with their values in place, they will remind resolved in their conviction to do the right thing.

In psychiatrist (and Holocaust survivor) Victor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” he explains his view that, while terrible circumstances can bring out the worst in people, ultimately, “Man’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate.”

Which way we go, he says, comes down to the choices we make when faced with adversity. No matter what life sends our way, says Frankl, we always retain our power of choice. We can decide how we are going to respond, and it’s in these decisions that our CHARACTER IS ‘REVEALED’.

Of his experiences at Auschwitz, Frankl said, “There were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self.”

In facing one of the worst situations imaginable, Frankl still saw how individuals could exercise their free will in incredibly meaningful ways.

So, we can all take a critical life lesson from Frankl’s observations that no matter our circumstances, we always have control over what we do next—even if that action is in the ‘confines’ of our minds.

One of the key things that determine how we respond during times of struggle is knowing who we are and understanding our ‘purpose’ in life. When we have a strong sense of self and know who we are, we have a firm ‘foundation’ from which to make decisions about how to handle life’s challenges. Knowing what our authentic self needs and desires, and having a strong grasp of our values, roots our decision-making in something meaningful and unchanging.

Similarly, when we understand our purpose in life, we know what we want to contribute to the world, which will inform every decision we make. Staying ‘grounded’ in our purpose also helps us to find meaning in whatever situation we are presented with, good or bad.

Frankl says that when we tap into our ‘inner’ strength, we can even find meaning in our suffering. This allows us to retain our personal power in even the bleakest of circumstances.

Often the only way out of a painful circumstance is ‘through’ it cultivating inner strength, and finding meaning on the ‘other side’. Challenges also have a way of humbling a person and knocking them off their ‘pedestals’. It tends to show their ‘real’ deep-down character.

A ‘storm’ will arrive someday. It’s not a question of if, but when. When that time of adversity arrives, what will it reveal about you?

REVEALING ‘ONE’S’ CHARACTER
Bookshelves are saturated with best-sellers about “life hacks,” “life design,” and promising everything from enhanced productivity to a healthier diet and huge fortunes. These guides vary in scientific accuracy, but they tend to depict habits as routines that follow a repeated sequence of behaviors into which we can intervene to set ourselves on a more desirable track.

The problem is that this account has been ‘bleached’ of much of its historical richness. Past behaviorists defined habits in a narrow, individualistic sense. They believed that people were conditioned to respond automatically to certain cues, which produced repeated cycles of action and reward.

The behaviorist image of a habit has since been updated in light of contemporary neuroscience (The fact that the brain is ‘plastic’ and changeable allows habits to inscribe themselves in our neural wiring over time by forming privileged connections between brain regions.)

Philosophers used to look at habits as ways of contemplating who we are, what it means to have faith, and why our daily routines reveal something about the world at large. In his “Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle uses the terms “hexis” and “ethos”—both translated today as “habit”—to study stable qualities in people, especially regarding their morals and intellect.

Hexis denotes the lasting characteristics of a person or thing, like the smoothness of a table or the kindness of a friend—which can guide our actions and emotions. A hexis is a characteristic, capacity, or disposition that one “owns”—its etymology is the Greek word “ekhein,” the term for “ownership.” For Aristotle, a person’s character is ultimately a ‘sum’ of their hexeis (plural).

An ‘ethos’, on the other hand, is what allows one to develop hexeis. It is both a way of life and the basic caliber of one’s personality. Ethos is what gives rise to the essential principles that help to guide moral and intellectual development. Honing hexeis out of an ethos thus takes both time and practice. This version of habit fits with the tenor of ancient Greek philosophy, which often emphasized the cultivation of virtue as a path to the ethical life. (Millennia later, Aristotle’s hexis was Latinized into habitus.)

The great Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas saw habit as a vital component of spiritual life. According to his Summa Theologica, habitus involved a rational choice, and led the true believer to a sense of faithful freedom. By contrast, Aquinas used “consuetudo” to refer to the habits we acquire that inhibit this freedom: the irreligious, quotidian routines that do not actively engage with faith. Consuetudo signifies mere association and regularity, whereas habitus conveys sincere thoughtfulness and consciousness of God. Consuetudo is also where we derive the terms “custom” and “costume”—a lineage that suggests that the medievals considered habit to extend beyond single individuals.

Now, for the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, these ancient and medieval interpretations of habit were far too limiting. Hume conceived of habit via what it empowers and enables us to do as human beings. He came to the conclusion that habit is the “cement of the universe,” which all “operations of the mind… depend on.”

Causality, for Hume, is little more than habitual association. He believed that language, music, and relationships—any skills we use to transform experiences into something that’s useful—are built from habits. Habits are thus crucial instruments that enable us to navigate the world and to understand the principles by which it operates. For Hume, habit is nothing less than the “great guide of human life.”

So, it is clear that we ought to see habits as more than mere ‘routines’ and tendencies. They encompass our ‘identities’ and ethics. They teach us how to practice our faiths—and if Hume is to be believed, they do no less than ‘bind’ the world together.

Seeing habits in this new-yet-old way requires a certain conceptual and historical about-face, but this ‘u-turn’ offers much more than shallow self-help. It should show us that the things we do every day aren’t just routines to be ‘hacked’, but windows through which we might glimpse who we truly are.

The organization “CHARACTER COUNTS!” created a ‘philosophy’ to categorize character traits called the “Six Pillars of Character.” These values were identified by a nonpartisan, secular group of youth development experts as core ethical values that transcend cultural, religious, and socioeconomic differences. They are: Trustworthiness; Respect; Responsibility; Fairness; Caring; and Citizenship. Each of the Six Pillars of Character help instill a positive climate and a culture of kindness in schools and try to create a “safe environment” for students to learn.

Since its founding in 1992, it has been providing practical strategies, curricular resources, and training to positively impact school systems, communities, and people-helping organizations.

As a global initiative, its mission is to improve civility through character development and ethical leadership to transform lives and strengthen communities. The following is a summary of its teachings:

– TRUSTWORTHINESS
Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal
Have integrity. Do what you say you’ll do
Keep your promises
Be loyal. Stand by your values

At first, it is important to presume the best intentions of others. At the same time, one should act in a capacity worthy of trust in our own actions.

In situations where there isn’t a clear and obvious answer, it’s useful to have a tool, like the “Integrity in Action Checklist,” to help check our decision-making. Not every decision will pass each to its ‘tests’. Sometimes, the right decision isn’t fair to everyone, for example. However, checking your actions against the Integrity-in-Action Checklist can help ensure that you make good choices and maintain trust.

“Integrity-In-Action Checklist:

– Golden Rule Test
– Fairness Test
– Truth Test
– Conscience Test
– Role Model/Mentor Test
– Front-Page Test
– Consequences Test
– What-If-Everybody-Did-This Test
– Guiding Beliefs Test

So, what if it is still not clear what to do? Well, do three things: Stop; Think it over some more; and Seek additional insight from individuals whose integrity you respect.

– RESPECT
Follow the Golden Rule
Be accepting of differences
Be courteous to others
Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements
Be considerate of others’ feelings

How well people work together and treat each other with respect ultimately determines how successful their life will be.

A simple tool to help groups of people agree on what they need to do in order to do their best work and treat each other with care and respect is their “Compact for Excellence.” It is list of expectations (see sample below) that outline what every person needs to do in order to ensure their best work can be done and everyone is treated well.

“Compact For Excellence”:

In order to do our best work and treat each other with respect and care, we each agree to/not to:

– Assume best intentions—everyone is doing their best to make the right decision in a constantly changing situation
– Focus on both academic growth and student mental health
– Maintain clear and open lines of communication
– Prioritize health and safety by following current guidelines

– RESPONSIBILITY
Do what you are supposed to do. Try your best
Persevere. Keep on trying
Be self-disciplined
Think before you act. Consider the consequences
Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes

When under stress, or outside of our comfort zone, it can be tempting to shy away from responsibility. However, it is critical that each person take responsibility for their role in ensuring a safe and productive ‘environment’.

When norms and routines are disrupted, it can be easy to lose sight of our goals and the process we need to follow to achieve those goals. The “Goal Map” tool is an excellent resource to focus attention on the action steps needed to continue progressing towards our objectives, especially when we are outside of our comfort zone.

“Goal Map”:

Starting Point >>> Actions Steps >>> Desired Goal

– Measure
– Monitor
– Revise

Support and Challenge: Expertise; Encouragement; and Accountability

– FAIRNESS
Play by the rules
Take turns and share
Be open-minded. Listen to others
Don’t take advantage of others

Sometimes it can be difficult to find fair solutions for diverse groups of people.
However, when clear solutions aren’t available, it’s up to individuals to negotiate win-win solutions that account for the needs and wants of all parties to reach a fair solution for the greater good. To do this, one must listen to understand what the other party wants by asking questions and restating what the other person says to ensure clarity. You must also clearly describe what it is you desire and why. Only when all parties understand that this is what you want and this is what I want, can you work together to find a “we could” win-win solution.

“Win-Win Negotiation Guide”:

– Communicate so that your needs are understood
– Communicate so that you understand the needs of others
– Use creative problem-solving to come up with compromises that yield win-win solutions

– CARING
Be kind
Be compassionate
Express gratitude
Forgive others

Caring can be demonstrated in numerous ways maintaining social connections, supporting friends and family who are struggling, completing random acts of kindness, or simply being available for a friend who needs a compassionate listener.

The attitude and effort we choose to display is another way we show caring. Bringing a positive attitude each day, to every task, is a great way to show that you care. Likewise, the amount of effort we put forth is another indicator of how much we care about someone or something. The “Attitude + Effort = Improvement” (AEI) tool is a simple way to reflect on whether you brought a positive attitude and effort to a task, and by extension, how much you cared.

“Attitude + Effort = Improvement Rubric”:

It’s all about improvement.

– Attitude (Horizontal axis): Resistant Unwilling > Willing/Hopeful > Enthusiastic/Confident
– Effort (Vertical axis): Little or No Effort > Some Effort > Consistent/Deliberate Effort

– CITIZENSHIP
Do your share to make your home, school, and community better
Cooperate
Stay informed. Vote
Be a good neighbor
Make choices that protect the safety and rights of others
Protect the environment

Each of us plays a critical role in contributing to the health and well-being of others in our communities.

The Leader-to-Detractor tool serves two important purposes. First, it defines what each role—detractor, participant, and leader—looks like in action. Good citizens are able to change detractor behaviors to participant behaviors, and participant behaviors to leader behaviors. Second, one can use the tool reflectively by asking, “were my actions that of a leader, detractor, or participant, and what do I need to do better or differently tomorrow to be a better citizen?”

“Leader-To-Detractor Scale”:

– Detractor (Not Responsible for self or others)
– Participant (Responsible for self)
– Leader (Responsible to self and others)

CHARACTER COUNTS! incorporates character-based best-practices ‘EARLY ON’ in a person’s character development—in the schools. It promotes a focus on a positive school climate, intensive decision-making strategies, mindfulness, growth mindset, and behavioral change theories. CHARACTER COUNTS! practical strategies produce positive results in the academic, social, emotional, and character development domains (Their “Four Wheels of Success”: Academic; Social & Emotional; Character; and School Climate: https://charactercounts.org/character-counts-curriculum-theory/four-wheels-of-success/).

“CHARACTER COUNTS!” has had great success in starting to develop character in school-aged children that has been taken into their adult years by:

– Developing moral character and commitment in its use
Improve decision-making qualities
– Demonstrating integrity, honesty promise-keeping, and loyalty which are essential in relationship building and career readiness
– Demonstrating respect for authority figures and others without regard to gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other distinguishing attributes
– Making students accountable for their actions and the consequences of choices made
– Increasing cognitive skills related to being just and fair with others
– Helping them display compassion and a concern for the well-being of others
– Demonstrating their civic duties and social responsibilities

[ “CHARACTER COUNTS!” and the “Six Pillars of Character” are registered trademarks of the Josephson Institute. PDF: https://raycenter.wp.drake.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/95/2020/09/Return-to-learn-with-the-Six-Pillars.pdf ]

‘ANALYZING’ CHARACTER TRAITS
While character and personality are both used to describe someone’s behaviors, the two examine different aspects of that individual. One’s personality is more ‘blatantly’ visible, while one’s character is revealed over time, through varying situations.

In more concrete terms, personality is easy to read, and we all do it. We judge people as funny, extroverted, energetic, optimistic, confident, overly serious, lazy, negative, and shy—if not upon first meeting them, then shortly thereafter (though we may need more than one interaction to confirm the presence of these traits in them).

Founder and Chief Medical Officer of ImagineMD, Alex Lickerman, said that, “Character, on the other hand, takes far longer to puzzle out. It includes traits that reveal themselves only in specific—and often uncommon—circumstances, traits like honesty, virtue, and kindliness.”

While personality is easier to spot, it is largely ‘static’ and slow to evolve. Whereas character takes longer to discern but is easier to change. That is because character is shaped by beliefs. On the other hand, with enough effort and motivation, changing one’s perspective and view of the world can lead to a shift in one’s character.

So, usually, if an individual deems a change in their surroundings to be significant, then their beliefs will transform to accommodate the change.

For instance, an individual who might have a shy personality can learn to switch their attitude toward public speaking when stepping into the role of a teacher. The new social and external demands lead to an internal shift that changes their demeanor.

Perhaps the most comprehensive and science-backed, personality test available is the Big Five (or “O.C.E.A.N.” Model).

Unlike the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), this assessment does not divide people into personality profiles, but rather analyzes an individual based on the most common traits found within the global ‘community’. The traits are easy to remember, as they spell out the acronym OCEAN.

OCEAN stands for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism:

Openness
This describes an individual’s love for novelty experiences. Those with high scores tend to be more creative. Individuals with lower scores tend to be more conservative and prefer routines. [ Imagination, feelings, actions, ideas, values, adventurousness, artistic interests ].

Conscientiousness
This shows someone’s tendency for organization. Those with high scores are seen as motivated, disciplined, and trustworthy. Lower scores indicate someone less responsible and more likely to get distracted. [ Order, self-discipline, competence, achievement striving ].

Extroversion
This factor indicates how cheerful and communicative a person can be. If someone scores highly in extroversion, they tend to be social and likely to accomplish their goals. Low scores indicate someone who is introverted and more submissive to authority. [ Warmth, friendliness, assertiveness, activity level, positive emotions ].

Agreeableness
This trait describes how someone interacts with those around them. High scores indicate that someone is warm and friendly. Those who tend to be more egocentric and suspicious (or even shy) tend to score lower. [ Trust, compliance, modesty, altruism, sympathy, cooperation ].

Neuroticism
Emotional stability can reveal a lot about the likelihood of someone developing moodiness and anxiety. High scores on neuroticism indicate someone who is less assured, and low scores describe a person who is calm and confident. [ Hostility, depression, impulsiveness, anger, vulnerability, self-consciousness ].

Unlike other trait theories that sort individuals into ‘binary’ categories (i.e. introvert or extrovert), the Big Five Model asserts that each personality trait is a ‘spectrum’. Therefore, individuals are ranked on a scale between the two extreme ends of five broad dimensions:

[ Chart: “O.C.E.A.N” Model ]

For instance, when measuring Extraversion, one would not be classified as purely extroverted or introverted, but placed on a scale determining their level of extraversion.

By ranking individuals on each of these traits, it is possible to effectively measure individual differences in personality.

Each of the Big Five personality traits represents extremely broad categories which cover many personality-related terms. Each trait encompasses a multitude of other facets.

For example, the trait of Extraversion is a category that contains labels such as Gregariousness (sociable), Assertiveness (forceful), Activity (energetic), Excitement-seeking (adventurous), Positive emotions (enthusiastic), and Warmth (outgoing).

Therefore, the Big Five while not completely exhaustive, cover virtually all personality-related terms.

[ Figure 1. The Big Five Personality Traits. Reprinted from PennState, by R. Gray, 2017, https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2017/09/02/the-importance-of-personality-trait-screening-for-todays-organizations-application-of-the-five-factor-model-ffm/ ]

So, people’s scores of the Big Five remain relatively stable for most of their life with some slight changes from childhood to adulthood. A study by Soto & John (2012) attempted to track the developmental trends of the Big Five traits. They found that overall agreeableness and conscientiousness increased with age, and there was no significant trend for extraversion overall although gregariousness decreased and assertiveness increased.

Openness to experience and neuroticism decreased slightly from adolescence to middle adulthood. The researchers concluded that there were more significant trends in specific facets (i.e. adventurousness and depression) rather than in the Big Five traits overall.
Now, as mentioned briefly, there are limitations to the Big Five analysis. For one, the Big Five was developed to organize personality traits rather than as a comprehensive theory of personality. Therefore, it is more descriptive than explanatory and does not fully account for differences between individuals. It also does not sufficiently provide a ‘causal’ reason for human behavior.

Although the Big Five has been tested in many countries and its existence is generally supported by findings, there have been some studies that do not support its model. Most previous studies have tested the presence of the Big Five in urbanized, literate populations.

So, is five really the ‘magic number? Well, a common criticism of the Big Five is that each trait is too broad. Although the Big Five is useful in terms of providing a rough overview of personality, more specific traits are required to be of use for predicting outcomes.

There is also an argument from psychologists that more than five traits are required to encompass the entirety of personality. A new model, “HEXACO” (also referred to as “The Big Six”) was developed by Kibeom Lee and Michael Ashton, and expands upon the Big Five Model. HEXACO retains the original traits from the Big Five Model but contains one additional trait: Honesty-Humility, which they describe as the extent to which one places others’ interests above their own.

– Honesty-Humility
– Emotionality
– eXtraversion
– Agreeableness (versus Anger)
– Conscientiousness
– Openness to Experience

[ FYI: For more details on the HEXACO model—and to take their 100-question test—visit their website:
https://hexaco.org/ ].

– For those wishing to know their OCEAN results can take any of the following quizzes:

– The Big Five Personality Test
https://www.truity.com/test/big-five-personality-test

– Big Five Personality Test
https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/tests/personality/big-five-personality-test

– Personality Test
https://www.123test.com/personality-test/

– Ten Item Personality Measure (available in different languages)
https://gosling.psy.utexas.edu/scales-weve-developed/ten-item-personality-measure-tipi/ ]

Note: The OCEAN model is also referred to as the CANOE model: Conscientiousness; Agreeableness; Neuroticism; Openness to Experience; Extraversion ]

‘JUDGING’ ONE’S CHARACTER
Sadly, we all fall into the ‘trap’ of judging a person’s character by their ‘appearance’—and how wrong we are! As has been mentioned, all too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event overwhelms them (or you). Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock to their ’system’.

So, what can you do to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances, and new friends (who might even become lifelong partners)? Well, you ‘analyze’ the following traits:

– Honesty
– Reliability
– Competence
– Kindness
– Compassion
– Capable of taking the blame
– Able to persevere
– Modesty
– Humbleness
– Can control anger

These are not the only traits to consider, but are some of the most important ones to consider. The secret is to reserve judgment and observe people in a variety of situations—and look at how they ‘react’. Only then will you be able to judge one’s ‘true’ character.

Now, this is not foolproof, but if you follow the methods below, you can have a pretty good chance of not ending up in a ‘bad’ relationship:

– Is Anger A Frequent Occurrence?
All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst.

But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. (Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior.)

– Do You Witness Acts Of Kindness?
How often do you see this person being kind and considerate, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to ‘share’ with other people?

Abigail Van Buren (“Dear Abby” columnist) said that, “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

– How Does This Person Take The Blame?
So, you know that one is responsible for a ‘screw-up’ in the office. To find out for sure, look at their reaction when you mention it. If they start blaming other colleagues, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

– Read Their E-mails To You More Carefully
Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

– Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
– Frequent errors may indicate apathy
– Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
– Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
– Too many question marks can show anger
– Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of people still use them.

– Watch Out For The ‘Show Offs’
Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of their achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility.

– Look For Evidence Of Perseverance
A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

– Is Their Empathy ‘Score’ High?
Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

– Are They Socially Interactive
We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

French writer Stendhal (Marie-Henri Belle) said it well: “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

– Are They ‘Toxic’?
These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

– Envy or jealousy
– Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
– Complaining about their own lack of success
– Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
– Obsession with themselves and their problems

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge another person, what about yourself? How do others see you in these categories?

[ FYI: If you are interested, take this “Personality Test” to find out your persona: https://psychcentral.com/quizzes/personality-quiz#1 ]

PROBLEMS REVEAL ONE’S ‘SPIRITUAL’ CHARACTER
So, as has been mentioned, when ‘things’ happen, one’s reaction actually reveals—or brings out—one’s ‘true’ character (or what is already inside of one’s ‘heart’).

The Bible states that as the water reflects the face, so the heart of man reflects the man (Proverbs 27:19). It also says that what causes the quarrels and fights among people is one’s passions that are at ‘war’ within them (James 4:1).

Problems say a lot about our character—especially our strengths and weaknesses. In the Old Testament, King Saul had a ‘giant’ of a problem—a champion warrior named Goliath. It was an opportunity for the aging king to trust God, lead his army, defeat his foes, and regain the respect of his people. Instead, Saul was “dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11). However, when a young shepherd boy named David came along, Saul was relieved his problem was solved, but later he grew jealous and resentful of the young warrior who had ‘won the day’. The thing is, at every ‘step’, Saul’s response to his problems divulged his weakness and his willful disregard of his faith in God. He then ‘spiraled’ downward in anxiety and despair.

On the other hand, problems can also reveal our strengths and show others how stress can be managed with ‘grace’. The same giant that brought forth Saul’s weakness, revealed David’s strengths: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” [ 1 Samuel 17:45 ].

The thing is, all believers can rejoice when they run into problems and trials, for they know that they help them develop endurance” [ Romans 5:3 ].

John Bunyan (author of “The Pilgrim’s Progress), who was torn from his needy family and imprisoned in a Bedford jail because of his preaching, ‘fully’ trusted in what Jesus said about faith in Him: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” [ John 6:37 ].

So, a believer’s problems CAN become ‘opportunities’ for finding and claiming the promises of God and reveal one’s spiritual strength. The GREAT thing is, God NEVER fails to give the believer grace and guidance in any and every situation as they trust Him (“He never fails” – Zephaniah 3:5 ). SO, don’t give up. It is always TOO ‘SOON’ to quit!

If we had no problems, we would have no opportunities to trust God with the hardships of life. We would have no occasion to flex our spiritual ‘muscles’. We would not need to develop a positive attitude because we would not be challenged by life’s ‘negatives’. Without problems, we wouldn’t be ‘driven’ to prayer as incessantly as we are, and we wouldn’t be ‘pressed’ into a life of faith. Without problems, we would never learn how to ‘cast our cares’ on the Lord and see how He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

So, when it really comes down to it, PROBLEMS REVEAL ONE’S SPIRITUAL ‘CONDITION’. They help one see themselves more clearly. They help them grow in faith, in perseverance, and in a ‘can-do’ attitude. Rather than saying, “Why me?,” one should say, “What now? What is God going to do, and what does He expect of me?” The life of faith winds its way through problems by perseverance to praise.

Therefore, when you are ‘weak’, ask God to make you strong, and where you are already strong to make you humble. Remember what Jesus said about problems:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”
[ John 16:33 ].

When Joshua and Caleb, along with the other ten ‘spies’, went into the Promised Land to check it out, and they came back saying, “There are giants in the land” [ Genesis 6:4 ] Ten of them wanted to quit on the spot. “It would be better to have stayed in Egypt,” they said. But two of them—Joshua and Caleb—said that it was true that there were giants in the Land, but they should not fear the people since God had surely given the Land to them. (Numbers 13).

In assessing the situation, Joshua made a fascinating statement. He said, “Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” [ Joshua 14:9 ]. The enemies, he said, are “bread” for us. The word he used was generally used for wheat or grain which had been ground and made into a loaf. The same word was used for the showbread in the tabernacle.

He is really saying that your bread is not only what you grind but the giants whom God will subdue, which—like the bread you put on your table—is going to produce growth in your life.

So, the measure of your fear reveals the strength of your faith. Too often we never lift our eyes above the ‘giants’ to capture the strength of God—who turns giants into pigmies!

Speaker and author Graham Cooke wrote:

“Every time you meet a difficulty, every time you find yourself in an impossible situation, ask yourself this question: ‘Am I going to starve here, or am I going to eat?’ If you are relying on the Lord for victory and allow His overcoming life to be manifested in you, you will find fresh nourishment and increased vitality, and you will be fed once again. Bear in mind that people who do not eat well cannot grow into maturity. Our bread is not only the Word of God, our meat is not only to do His will, our bread is also the Anakim (the giants)—the difficulties in our way… We have to eat our difficulties and our temptation. Every difficulty and every temptation Satan puts in our way is food for us. This is a God-appointed means of spiritual progress. The sight of any trouble strikes terror into the heart of those who do not have faith, but those who trust Him say, “Here comes my food!” Praise and thank the Lord, all our trials, without exception, are bread for us. Every trial brings in growth after we have eaten of it. As we accept one trial after another, we are more and more richly nourished.”

So what happens when you see a giant looming in your pathway? Smile and say, “Here comes my bread!” and thank God that the ‘giant’ can be subdued!

PROBLEMS ‘PROVE’ INTEGRITY
Problems prove the ‘integrity’ of our character. The situation doesn’t ‘make’ you what you are, it ‘reveals’ what you are! The problems of life don’t cause us to be different, they reveal the fact that we are not who we want everybody to believe we are.

The thing is, there is a vast difference between reputation and character. You see, reputation is what others ‘suppose’ we are, whereas character is what we ‘really’ are. Reputation is what you chisel on your tombstone. Character is what the angels say about you before God in Heaven.

For the believer, never does a problem come into their life that there isn’t some ‘purpose’ behind it that they may not know why—even in this life!

That was what happened with Joseph in the Bible. He was sold into ‘slavery’ by his brothers to Ishmaelite traders headed for Egypt. However, the brother lied to their father Jacob that he was killed by a wild animal.

When the traders arrived in Egypt, they sold Joseph to Potiphar, the captain of the guard in Pharaoh’s court. A while later, Joseph became the attaché to Potiphar, a very important and prestigious position for a Jewish man to hold in the Egyptian government. However, Potiphar’s wife began to look at Joseph lustfully and demanded he ’sleep’ with her. Now, even though Joseph did not yield to her temptation—and expressed his faithfulness to Potiphar and to God—Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and had him thrown into the Royal prison by Potiphar himself.

The thing is, God allows ‘problems’ in the believer’s life to ‘refine’ their character. Specifically, He just might be preparing them for something ‘greater’ in their life.

God also sometimes used struggles to ‘toughen’ one up to make them ready to respond to ‘pressure’ in the future. Joseph was prepared for the hardship of the famine because he experienced the hardship of prison. (In Joseph’s future, he was going to be the Prime Minister, second-in-command to Pharaoh, and he devised a plan to assuage a worldwide famine that was going to overtake Egypt.)

The Apostle Paul talked about problems producing perseverance and perseverance producing character (Romans 5:3-4). The writer to the Hebrews said that chastening yielded a peaceable ‘fruit’ of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). James emphasized this by saying that when the believer falls into various trials, the testing of their faith produces endurance (James 1, 2, and 3).

Again, God allows trials to develop in the believer a greater ‘inward’ strength to toughen them up to make them ready to face the challenges that are yet in the future for them—creating ‘character’.

Everywhere Joseph went he maintained his integrity. He understood that
circumstances don’t make us what we are they reveal what we are, and when we go through problems we give everyone around us a ‘window’ into our ‘integrity’—especially when people watch you go through a very difficult time in your life.

Sometimes we are able to help others who are going through the same trouble we went through in our past. People want to know what somebody who has ‘been there and done that’.

The good ‘news’ is that God is up to something—He will never ever leave you alone wherever you are whatever situation you’re in he’s with you he’s promised never to leave you enough forsake you and you will come out better if you don’t come out bitter!

CHARACTERISTICS OF A ‘GODLY’ PERSON
Character is important because it ‘governs’ one’s actions. It is also important because God gives each believer gifts and talents to assist them in fulfilling their God-given purpose. So, character needs to be ‘sound’ to anchor and properly harness and manage one’s gifts and talents.

We can liken a gift or talent to a kite. A kite is beautiful, flamboyant, with so much potential to fly high for the world to see. But the kite needs a string and someone to hold that string (this is character). It needs something to steady and control it and swing it in different directions. This is particularly important when a strong wind comes. If the one holding the string loses control, the kite will fly away and crash somewhere.

So, it’s the same with gifts and talents. If left unchecked by a good character, gifts and talents will ‘spiral out’ of control and ‘destroy’ the person.

After telling the Galatian Church what kinds of things they should resist (Galatians 5:19-21a) and the reason that should strive to do so—not inheriting the Kingdom of God—the Apostle Paul talks about some attributes of a person with godly character: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” [ Galatians 5:22-23 ].

‘FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT’
The simplest description of the ‘fruit’ listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is that they are characteristics. Notice that they are not abilities (though many of the gifts of the Spirit involve abilities). They are not doing words. They are being words. Someone is gentle; someone is loving; someone is self-controlled. Yet, while this is true, always leads to doing. This is one way the fruit of the Spirit intersects with how we act.

If someone is gentle, it will be evident by gentle conduct and manner. If someone is loving, it will be expressed in acts of love. If someone is self-controlled, it will be demonstrated in self-control. Perhaps that’s a subtle distinction, but it’s an important one. Being leads to doing. The Spirit isn’t interested in just changing certain behaviors—adding some and removing others; He is interested in changing who we are as people. Changed people do changed things. But the internal change has to come first. God doesn’t want us to be robots who always do the right thing but whose character is, well, robotic. God is after our hearts.

Something that is easy to overlook is the fact that most of the fruit mentioned is relational. Love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness are all about relating to others. What is love, if not extended toward others? I might say that I love jazz, which obviously is not a person. But that’s not the kind of love in view here. This love is relational, between two or more persons.

Peace is not about being in a peaceful ‘state’ in which nothing fazes us. The biblical notion of peace, or shalom, is a state of good relations between two or more parties.

Patience and kindness are obviously relational. Patience is primarily relational in that it has to do with tolerant forbearance of others. Kindness has to do with caring for others and looking out for their needs.

While goodness may be less clearly relational, true goodness is demonstrated in relationships. We might think of ourselves as a “good person,” but if we are always mean-spirited or angry toward others, our “goodness” is rather thin.

Faithfulness is always relational. It involves loyalty and commitment to someone. In the Bible, faithfulness is never abstract, like being obedient to a list of rules. Instead, faithfulness is always about our relationship with God. If we are faithful to Him, we will follow His commands. But just obeying the rules is not the point; obedience is an expression of faithfulness.

Gentleness is relational. Our interaction with other people demonstrates our gentleness. We might think of ourselves as “gentle” because we’re pacifists and wouldn’t hurt a fly and are always careful with delicate things. But if we treat people harshly, our gentleness is not a fruit of the Spirit.

The only two characteristics that are not obviously relational are joy and self-control. These seem to be more inward in the sense that they are not necessarily expressed in relation to other people. We can have joy without anyone else around. We can show self-control in private. But even these characteristics have relational applications. Our joy can be shared with others. And self-control often involves respecting the dignity of others and not infringing on their well-being.

The fruit of the Spirit has significant implications for our relationships with each other. This is a core emphasis of the godly life in Christ Jesus; we all need to get along with each other, showing love, patience, and kindness in all our interactions.

Now, the fruits of the Spirit are the characteristics we all want, right?. However, at the heart of them is the ’Source’ of the characteristics—the Holy Spirit.

Fruit grows out of something—a tree or a vine—and the growth of the fruit is entirely powered by its host. Take a budding apple off the branch of an apple tree, and it will not grow any further. The tree is the essential source of nutrients for the apple. So too, the fruit of the Spirit is entirely dependent upon its source—the Holy Spirit Himself.

Now, the fruit of the Spirit is indicative, not imperative. Indicative and imperative are ten-dollar words that simply mean the difference between an observation of the way things are (indicative) and a command or instruction to do something (imperative). Considering the previous point (that it’s the Spirit’s fruit), this makes sense. The significance of this shouldn’t be overlooked. This means that the fruit of the Spirit is not a to-do list. These verses do have implications for how we live (and we’ll get to that), but Paul does not say, “live like this and like that” before he lists the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit grows from the Spirit. It’s not the result of our hard work or discipline, and it’s not a list to check off when we feel we’ve “got it down.” It’s not even a list to put on our wall to remind ourselves of things we need to work on. It’s not a list of imperatives—commands for us to follow. It is a list of indicatives—it’s just the way things are. Where the Spirit is—’inside’ the “born again” believer—these ’fruits’ grow.

Now don’t misunderstand. Not all believers will necessarily exhibit all these characteristics. Even though Christians have the Spirit of God living in them, it doesn’t mean that everyone who has the Spirit will always be loving, joyful, patient, and so forth. What I mean is that these things are the fruit of the Spirit; they flow from Him, and He produces them. So when they are present in a follower of Christ, it is evidence that the Spirit is in them. The Holy Spirit may choose to grow the fruit of peace in my life, joy and patience in you, and faithfulness and love in your neighbor. They are His fruits to grow as He sees fit—for the benefit of the believer, the church, and God’s Kingdom.

Also, the list is not ’exhaustive’. There are other places in the Bible where it mentions character qualities (For example, Matthew 5). They give us an idea of the kinds of traits a believer should portray through broad ’brushstrokes’.

Also, one should consider the fruit of the Spirit from a more ’corporate’ viewpoint. While no one person will have all the fruits of the Spirit, the Church, as a whole, certainly will. I’m sure most, if not all, congregations exhibit all the fruit of the Spirit collectively. Perhaps that is what Paul was implying. After all, he was writing to the church in Galatia.

Far too often we read the Bible overly ’individualistically’ and, in this case, leading one to think that each individual ought to display all the fruit of the Spirit. However, Paul may have been ’sketching’ a picture of a gathering of believers, who together exhibit the characteristics (not to the exclusion of the individual desiring to have each of the ’fruits’).

Now, back to speaking individually, for these characteristics to be evident in a person, as was already mentioned, they need to be “born again.” Okay, but want does that mean? Well, one has repented of their sins to God, believes that Jesus has atoned for those sins with His death on the Cross, has given us new life with His resurrection, and then ask that the Holy Spirit guide them in developing a ’holy’ life. The believer then aligns their will with the will of the Holy Spirit. They get in ’sync’ with Him. Ultimately, that means that they will desire to be marked by the fruit of the Spirit: loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.

So, when the believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit, He will produce His fruit in them. This means that the Spirit does not simply ’zap’ them into becoming the mature, godly believers He desires them to be. (I suppose He could do that if He chose to, but generally God chooses not to work like a microwave, but more like a slow-cook oven.) As the Holy Spirit slowly ’cooks’ the believer, it is their responsibility to stay in the ’oven’, as it were, since only God knows when they are ’done’.

The fruit of the Spirit is part of the grand plan of God to enable His people to live in a way that pleases Him—living by the power of the Spirit. As members of God’s family—adopted sons and daughters—God shapes us to be like Him, and to bear the characteristics that flow from His own character. The fruit of the Spirit is nothing less than the culmination of centuries of promise and expectation that finds fulfillment as the result of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. What a privilege to be Spirit-filled people!

One of the most important things the Spirit does is to point us to Christ. That means one way we can keep in step with the Spirit is to fix our eyes on Jesus. Let our daily thoughts and meditations return to Him time and time again. Let Him be the center of our thoughts, our imagination, and our desires. As we choose to follow Christ, to depend on Him, and to submit to Him, we will be keeping in step with the Spirit.

As we reflect on Jesus’s character, not only do we learn how to be better people, we are drawn to emulate Him in our thoughts, speech, and actions. Jesus is merciful and kind. He treats others with respect and compassion. He is the very model of the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, as well as other Christlike characteristics. The Spirit lives in us because new life has come in Christ, and we have been set free from slavery to the flesh, sin, and the law. He is the sign of the new age and is the seal of our membership in God’s family. The Spirit works in us to produce fruit that is in keeping with the family likeness, as we fix our eyes on Jesus, remain fully dependent upon Him, and seek to worship Him in all of life.

The fruit of the Spirit is not a to-do list to check off. The Spirit produces the fruit in us. Christianity is not a set of rules, nor is the Bible a manual for good living. Christianity is about a relationship with God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

[ FYI: For more details on the ‘fruits of the Spirit’, view the website I developed that associates “The Beatitudes” and the “fruit of the Spirit” in the Bible. It is intended to help you develop the attitudes of Jesus and produce the character of Jesus in you. The following are the ‘associations’ that connect the particular “fruit of the Spirit” that most closely relates to the intent of each “Beatitude”:
https://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/ ].

HAVING ‘GOD’S’ CHARACTER
So, what does it mean to have the character of God? Well, the following are some ‘general’ traits:

– Keep Their Heart Pure
A godly man strives to have ​purity of heart. He strives to avoid lust and other temptations and works hard to overcome them.

– Keep Their Mind Sharp
A godly man desires to be wise so he can make good choices. He studies his Bible, and he works hard to make himself a smarter, more disciplined person. He wants to know God’s answer to any situation he may face.

– Has Integrity
He strives to be honest and just. He works to develop a strong ethical foundation and wants to live to please God.

– Uses Their Words Wisely
A godly man puts an emphasis on speaking ‘well’ to others. He works on telling the truth in a loving manner, and in a way that people respect him for his honesty.

– Works Hard
A godly man knows that God wants us to work hard and do our jobs well, being an example to the world of what good hard work can bring.

– Devotes Themselves to God
The man looks to God to guide him and direct his life. He devotes his time to doing Godly work, spending time in prayer, developing a relationship with God, and doing outreach to the community.

– Never Gives Up
A godly man knows the difference between God’s plan and his own. He knows never to give up when it’s God’s plan and to persevere ‘through’ a situation. He desires to know when to change direction when he allows his own mind to get in the way of God’s plan.

– Gives Without Complaint
A godly man gives his time or his money without complaining because it’s all God’s anyway. It’s all for God’s glory, and it helps people in the meantime.

– Flees from Sin
Scripture calls us to stand firm against the attacks of the devil (Ephesians 6:11) and to resist him (James 4:7), believers are called to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), and youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). (Like Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife—the man of God should run when it comes to sin. It has the ability to trap, dominate, and destroy him.)

The word “flee” comes from the Greek word “pheugo,” from which we get the English word “fugitive.” The man of God is a fugitive running from a potential captor—he doesn’t want to go back to sin; he knows the dangers of it. Therefore, he flees. Also, the word flee is in the ‘present’ tense—meaning that the man of God should ‘constantly’ flee these things. “A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself, but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it” [ Proverbs 22:3 ]. It is his recognition of his vulnerability that makes him strong.

So, the person of God ‘energetically’ purses God Himself. Similar to the fruit of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul lists six godly character traits that the person of God pursues—righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness. This refers to eagerness and diligence in ‘going after’ something. It implies that godly character doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that a person ‘continually’ works at for the rest of their life.

“Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again, but the wicked will be brought down by calamity” [ Proverbs 24:16 ]. Perseverance marks the righteous. They won’t live in sin; they won’t accept defeat; they fall, but they just keep getting back up. They are in pursuit of having Jesus’ character.

Here are some explanations for these certain traits:

– Righteousness
This does not refer to the believer’s ‘imputed’ righteousness—which we receive from Christ at salvation—but ‘outward’ righteousness. Because God saved us and made us righteous, believers should pursue a lifestyle of righteousness (Ephesians 2:10). This includes, but is not limited to, serving others, caring for the neglected, evangelizing the lost, discipling believers, and worshiping God. The man of God is in constant pursuit of these things.

– Godliness
This can be translated “god-likeness.” The word has the connotation of reverence for God. It focuses on inward qualities instead of outward ones. A godly person has a holy reverence about them—desiring to honor, please, and reflect God in everything.

– Faithfulness
This could mean ‘dependability’. The man of God is trustworthy in his endeavors. His “Yes” means Yes and his “No” means No (Matthew 5:37). It could also mean “faith”—daily depending on God as we abide in him and seek his face (John 15:5). The man of God knows that on his own, he can do nothing, so he constantly abides in God’s Word and prayer. He has great faith in God.

– Love
The Greek word “agape” refers to godlike love. Often in our culture, we think that one shouldn’t have to work at love—it just happens. We just “fall in love,” as it is effortless. However, that is not true of biblical love. It is an act of the will that takes work and sacrifice. God commands us to not only love our neighbor but to love our enemy. We must work to love our enemy—we must stretch ourselves. It’s the same with loving others.

– Endurance
In the Greek, this means to “bear up under” something. It is how the man of God strives to go through trials and difficulties. Our natural response to trials is to quit or give up, but enduring bears gracious fruits in our lives. The Apostle Paul said that believers should rejoice in suffering because it produces perseverance (or endurance), perseverance creates character, and character hope (Romans 5:3-4). Sadly, instead of enduring, most waste the grace in trials by complaining, getting angry at people, and angry at God. If we endure, God can develop character in our lives through trials.

– Gentleness refers to our response to difficult people. Instead of responding in anger or with impatience, the man of God seeks to respond in a gentle manner. It has the connotation of power under control.

So, based on these things, are you pursuing godly character? Know that it just doesn’t just happen—it must be continually ‘pursued’.

Finally, Paul describes the greatest ‘motivating’ factor for the man of God—God’s character. The more one knows God—the more God can use him for His Kingdom. Paul’s message to Timothy is clear: Though your calling is immense, the God who calls you is far greater—and he will enable you to do it. (1 Timothy 6). From there, Paul charges Timothy based on God’s presence and character in order to motivate him to faithfulness. The believer’s hope must always be in the character of the One who calls us: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” [ Proverbs 18:10 ].

So, the more one ‘knows’ God, the more faithful they will be to Him—and that should fill the believer with ‘gratitude’!

GRATITUDE
Now, most people would like to be full of gratitude rather than prone to feelings of entitlement or resentment. But, as we all know, gratitude can be elusive and resentment and entitlement have a way of ‘creeping in’.

Kurt Lewin, the “father of social psychology,” emphasized many years ago that there is a limit to how much change we can bring about when we try to motivate people who are already highly motivated. The better approach in these situations, he noted, is to figure out what is preventing the person from acting and then try to eliminate those barriers. In the field of gratitude research, are there further gains to be made by focusing on what prevents people from feeling grateful?

People in the field believe that there are ‘enemies’ of gratitude and enemy number one is easy to identify: ADAPTATION. Simply put, we get used to things over time and start to take them for granted. But research has also uncovered ways that we as individuals—and hopefully even societies—can start to overcome this ‘barrier’.

The thing is, people have a remarkable capacity to adapt to anything that comes their way and that capacity is a great resource when we experience something negative. It is what allows us to recover from trauma and get over setbacks that make it seem like life “will never be the same.” Adaptation can’t make things literally be the same, but it can make us ‘feel’ as good and as fulfilled as we were beforehand.

Although adaptation can be a great resource when it comes to overcoming negative events, it is a powerful ‘enemy’ when it comes to getting continued enjoyment from positive events. We think that things will be different when we get that job offer, that promotion, or that longed-for reciprocation of romantic interest. Well, things are different, but generally only for a while and these improvements in our lives become the new ‘baseline’ to which we adapt—and we soon need something more to provide the same level of satisfaction, excitement, or joy. We all ‘push the envelope’.

So, what should one do about this formidable enemy of happiness? Well, people do not adapt equally to everything, and so it is useful to consider what sorts of things are more resistant to adaptation.

Gratitude researchers have shown that being grateful makes it easier for us to get in touch with our ‘best self’, and this is reflected in the willingness to move beyond our selfish impulses and give to others.

Well, you might wonder why experiences tend to inspire more gratitude than material possessions. Well, two reasons are paramount. First, experiences constitute a bigger part of our ‘identity’. No matter how much we might appreciate our material possessions, they remain separate from us. Experiences, in contrast, are not detached from us—we are, in part, the sum total of our experiences. What we build up in ourselves endures, and it doesn’t diminish over time.

Secondly, experiences ‘connect’ us to other people more than our possessions do. We are more likely to partake in our experiential purchases with other people, share stories about them, and feel a bond with people who have made the same purchase. These social connections resist adaptation and make the pleasure we get from our experiences endure.

So, the lesson should be clear: If you want to cultivate a more grateful disposition, buy more ‘experiences’ and fewer ‘possessions’. Now, this does not mean that you need to swear off all material goods and live the life of an ascetic. By all means, continue to enjoy your material possessions. Just shift your expenditures a bit more in the ‘experiential’ direction, and a bit less in the ‘material’ direction, and you are likely to find yourself enjoying the many psychological benefits that come with being more grateful.

So then, people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

– PHYSICAL
Stronger immune systems
Less bothered by aches and pains
Lower blood pressure
Exercise more and take better care of their health
Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

– PSYCHOLOGICAL
Higher levels of positive emotions
More alert, alive, and awake
More joy and pleasure
More optimism and happiness

– SOCIAL
More helpful, generous, and compassionate
More forgiving
More outgoing
Feel less lonely and isolated.

The social benefits are especially significant here because, after all, gratitude is a social emotion.

Indeed, this cuts to the very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an ‘affirmation’ of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect—it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.

The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness ‘comes from’. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being ‘outside’ of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others who help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

So then, what transformative effects does gratitude have on people’s lives? Well, I think there are several important reasons, but I want to highlight four in particular.

– Gratitude Allows One To Celebrate The Present
It magnifies positive emotions. Again, research on emotion shows that positive emotions ‘wear off’ quickly. Our emotional systems like ‘newness’ novelty and change. We adapt to positive life circumstances so that before too long, the new car, the new spouse, the new house—they don’t feel so new and ‘exciting’ anymore.

However, gratitude makes us appreciate the value of something, and when we appreciate the value of something, we extract more benefits from it and are less likely to take it for granted.

In effect, I think gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness. We spend so much time watching things—movies, computer screens, sports—but with gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.

– Gratitude Blocks Toxic, Negative Emotions
Emotions can destroy our happiness. This makes sense since you cannot feel envious and grateful at the same time. They are incompatible feelings. If you are grateful, you can’t resent someone for having something that you don’t have. Those are very different ways of relating to the world. Sure enough, research has suggested that people who have high levels of gratitude have low levels of resentment and envy.

– Grateful People Are More Stress Resistant
There are a number of studies showing that in the face of serious trauma, adversity, and suffering, if people have a grateful disposition, they will recover more quickly. Gratitude gives people a perspective from which they can interpret negative life events and help them guard against post-traumatic stress and lasting anxiety.

– Grateful People Have A Higher Sense Of Self-worth
When you’re grateful, you have the sense that someone else is looking out for you—provides for your well-being, helping you get to where you are right now.

Once you start to recognize the contributions that other people have made to your life, you then can transform the way you ‘see’ yourself.

Now, just because gratitude is good doesn’t mean it is always easy. Practicing gratitude can be at odds with some deeply ingrained psychological tendencies.

One of these tendencies is the “self-serving bias.” That means that when good things happen to us, we say that it’s because of something we did. However, when bad things happen, we ‘blame’ other people or circumstances.

Gratitude really goes against the self-serving bias because when we are grateful, we give credit to other people for our success.

Gratitude also goes against our need to feel ‘in control’ of our environment. Sometimes with gratitude, you just have to accept life as it is and be grateful for what you have.

Finally, gratitude contradicts the “just-world” hypothesis, which says that we get what we ‘deserve’ in life. (Good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people.) But it doesn’t always work out that way, does it? Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

With gratitude comes the realization that we get more than we deserve. I read that a presenter commented this when talking about gratitude: “It’s a good thing we don’t get what we deserve,” he said. “I’m grateful because I get far more than I deserve.”

Now, this goes against a message that we get a lot in our contemporary culture: That we deserve the good fortune that comes our way, and that we are entitled to all of it. If one ‘deserves’ everything and is ‘entitled’ to everything, then it makes it a lot harder for them to be grateful for anything!

Partly because these challenges to gratitude can be so difficult to overcome, how we can go beyond just occasionally feeling more grateful to actually becoming a more grateful person? Well, let me suggest four ‘strategies’ that leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons has identified that cultivates gratitude, which then fosters happiness, kindness, connection, and resilience: Count your blessings; Mental subtraction; Savor; and Saying “Thank You.”

– Count Your Blessings
Some days it feels like everything is going wrong. But often, even on bad days, good things happen, too—we are just less likely to notice them.

The “Three Good Things” practice is writing, in detail, about three things that went well that day. A 2005 study led by Martin Seligman, founder of the “Positive Psychology Center” at the University of Pennsylvania, found that completing this exercise every day for one week led to increases in happiness that persisted for six months.

This simple practice is effective because it not only helps you remember and appreciate good things that happened in the past; it can also teach you to notice and savor positive events as they happen in the moment, and remember them more vividly later on. By reflecting on the sources of these good things, the idea is that you start to see a broader ecosystem of goodness around you rather than assuming that the universe is ‘conspiring’ against you.

Similar to the “Three Good Things” practice is keeping a “Gratitude Journal”—which is especially effective when you focus on specific people you’re grateful to have, or have had, in your life.

– Mental Subtraction
In the words of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Sometimes just imagining that something is gone is enough to make you appreciate what you have.

One way to do this is to engage in the “Mental Subtraction of Positive Events” practice, which involves considering the many ways in which important, positive events in your life—such as a job opportunity or educational achievement—could have never taken place, and then reflecting on what your life would be like without them.

A series of 2008 studies, led by Minkyung Koo, found that completing a 15-minute ‘mental subtraction’ writing exercise led to increases in happiness and gratitude.

Mental subtraction can ‘counteract’ the tendency to take positive events for granted and see them as inevitable, instead, it helps you recognize how fortunate you are that things transpired as they did.

– Savor It
Ever notice that the first bite of cake is usually the best? We have a tendency to adapt to pleasurable things—a phenomenon called “hedonic adaptation”—and appreciate them less and less over time. But we can interrupt this process by trying the “Give it Up” practice, which requires temporarily giving up pleasurable activities and then coming back to them later, this time with greater anticipation and excitement.

A 2013 study conducted by Jordi Quoidbach and Elizabeth Dunn found that abstaining from a pleasurable activity for a week (in this case, eating chocolate) led people to derive greater pleasure from it and feel a greater appreciation for it when they eventually indulged in it again.

The goal of this practice is not only to experience more pleasure but to recognize how we take lots of pleasures for granted, and to try to savor them more. We often assume that more is better—that the greatest enjoyment should come from abundance and indulgence—but research suggests that some degree of ‘scarcity’ and restraint is more conducive to happiness.

So, abstaining from the pleasures in your life isn’t the only way to help you savor them.

– Saying “Thank You”
Gratitude can be especially powerful when it is ‘expressed’ to others. Small gestures of appreciation, such as thank you notes, can make a difference, but there are some things that deserve more than a fleeting “thanks!”

If there is anyone in your life to whom you feel you have never properly expressed your gratitude, writing a thoughtful, detailed ‘letter’ of gratitude is a great way to increase your own feelings of gratitude and happiness while also making the other person feel appreciated and valued. It may also deepen your relationship with them.

Another study, led by Martin Seligman (2005), also tested the effects of writing and delivering a gratitude letter, finding that, of the five different practices that the researchers tested, this practice had the greatest positive impact on happiness one month later. Those who delivered and read the letter to the recipient in person, rather than just mailing it, reaped the greatest benefits.

So, it is important to note, though, that six months after writing and delivering their letter of gratitude, participants’ happiness levels had dropped back down to where they were before the visit. ;^( This finding reminds us that no single activity is a ‘panacea’ that can permanently alter happiness levels after just one attempt. Instead, gratitude practices and other happiness-inducing activities need to be practiced ‘regularly’ over time, and ideally, become a ‘part’ of a person’s ‘CHARACTER’.

[ FYI: For more details on gratitude, consider reading about the “Expanding Gratitude” project by the “Greater Good Science Center:
https://ggsc.berkeley.edu/what_we_do/major_initiatives/expanding_gratitude ].

DEVELOPING A ‘GODLY’ CHARACTER
So, how does one develop godly character? Well, for starters, the Bible says that, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” [ Luke 6:43 ].

A wise man once said that, “The greatest battle does not take place on the land, or on the sea, or in the air, it takes place in the mind.” Thoughts are ‘things’ and character development begins with thoughts.

So, to develop a ‘godly’ character, one must use the Word of God (the Bible) as their primary ‘ingredient’ for doing so. The Bible contains instructions and guidance anyone will ever need for godly living.

Jesus said ALL need to “search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” [ John 5:39 ]. It is not enough just to know that the Word of God contains God’s thoughts, one must find and search out what it actually says and how we ought to act it out or it to materialize. God’s Word is not theory, it is practical. It is living and meant to be lived out to enjoy its true benefits. Jesus emphasized this by saying, “Great blessings will be yours if you do them” [ John 13:17 ].

Consistency is key to developing godly habits. One must decide to act on it daily. (Remember champions are not born they are made daily. Your routine defines you.)

So, if you continue in God’s Word, you will develop godly actions and if you continue acting in a godly way you will end up with godly habits. Then, when you become consistent with godly habits, you will have godly character.

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and all these things will be added to you” [ Matthew 6:33 ].

‘CHRISTIAN’ CHARACTER
Believers all want to grow in spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. They all want to put aside patterns of sin and unrighteousness and to replace them with patterns of holiness. Ultimately, they want to become ‘like’ Christ, to think how He thought and to behave how He behaved—do well to aspire to the highest standards of holiness and godliness.

Pastor and biblical teacher Tim Challies presented the following traits as the ones that should exemplify the believer:

– Being Above Reproach
– A One-Woman Man (and One-Man Woman)
– Being Sober-Minded, Self-Controlled, and Respectable
– Being Hospitable
– Being Sober, Gentle, and A Peacemaker
– Not Being a ‘Lover’ of Money
– Being A Leader at Home
– Being Mature and Humble
– Being Respected by ‘Outsiders’

Challies then expounded upon each of these traits with more detail:

– Being Above Reproach
Every believer is to be and to live above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1; and 1 Peter 5). So, what does it mean to be above reproach? Well, one’s life is so consistent that your reputation is credible, you are an example worth following, and you do not make the gospel look fake by teaching one thing while doing another.

Being above reproach in your actions means you are “self-controlled.” It’s one who upholds all of God’s revealed will. Of course, being above reproach does not mean being perfect, but it does mean that, when we sin, we confess it and turn from it because our standard is perfection (Matthew 5:48).

The primary means through which you gain this characteristic is taking advantage of God’s means of grace—reading the Bible and deliberately applying it, praying privately and with your family, faithfully attending your church’s worship services, participating in the sacraments, and so on. These are the very means through which God extends his sanctifying grace and you cannot expect to be or remain above reproach if you neglect them.

– A One-Woman Man (and One-Man Woman)
Pastor and author John MacArthur says, “It’s not concerning status, it is concerning character. It is not a matter of circumstance, it is a matter of his virtue. And the issue here is a man who is solely and only and totally devoted to the woman who is his wife. It is a question of his character. He is a one-woman man. Anything less is a disqualification.”

Just as an elder of a church is to be an example of sexual integrity, so does goes the believer’s need to “abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)—and this is true whether the Christian is married or single, male or female. Paul commands the whole congregation in Corinth to “flee from sexual immorality” and warns “every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Writing to the gathered church in Ephesus, Paul sets the standard so high as to demand, “Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Ephesians 5:3). If you are “sexually immoral or impure,” he says, you have “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). Wow! (The call to sexual purity is among the most prominent and repeated commands in the New Testament.)

Of course, as with all of these ‘qualifications’, the believer WILL NOT exemplify them perfectly. Paul says that even though some in the congregation had been “sexually immoral” and therefore had no inheritance in the kingdom of God, he goes on to rejoice, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). He reminds them that their sexual sin is related to the old man and its evil ways, not the new man and its righteous ways.

Thus this qualification is a call to ‘devotion’—first devotion to God then to a God-given spouse. It is a call away from adultery to be sure, but also from a wandering heart, wandering eyes, or wandering hands. It is a call on each one of us to be pure and chaste, to be exemplary in character and conduct whether in marriage or singleness. It is a call for the married to pursue and enjoy the sexual relationship with their spouse and a call for the unmarried to willingly submit their sexuality to the will and the care of their loving God.

– Being Sober-Minded, Self-Controlled, and Respectable
Sober-minded is a word that relates primarily to the mind. The sober-minded man is clear-headed and watchful, free from excesses and wild fluctuations in thinking and ideas. This trait allows him to keep alert so he can protect himself and others from any kind of spiritual danger. He is not rash, but thoughtful.

Where “sober-minded” relates to the mind, ‘self-controlled’ relates to decisions that lead to action. The self-controlled person is free from excesses and wild fluctuations in actions and behavior. They willingly submit their emotions and passions to the control of the Holy Spirit and, with their wisdom, makes wise, thoughtful judgments. They show restraint and moderation in all areas of life being “sensible, discreet, and wise.” They do not live for the moment, but consider the future consequences of their actions.

Those who are sober-minded and self-controlled are also ‘respectable’. They live ‘orderly’ lives and are wise and prudent in their dealings so that others have respect for them, both in their character and their behavior. They know how to make wise decisions and live out the kind of practical wisdom described in the book of Proverbs. They are people for whom others have high esteem.

When we put these traits together we see a person who has ‘mastered’ their thinking and behavior so they are now capable of making ‘wise’ judgments. Their own life is a showcase of such wisdom.

The Apostle Paul writes, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” [ Romans 12:3 ]. Later, he says, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:6 ].

When it comes to self-control, Solomon warns, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). Paul lists self-control as part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23) and warns that those without self-control fall prey to Satan’s temptations (1 Corinthians 7:5). He explicitly commands this of all believers in Titus 2:2-6.

Bible teacher Alexander Strauch says that, “An undisciplined man has little resistance to sexual lust, anger, slothfulness, a critical spirit, or other base desires. He is easy prey for the devil.”

– Being Hospitable
Hospitality is a tangible, ‘outward’ display of godly character. Hospitality creates opportunities for relationship, for discipleship, and for evangelism. It creates a natural context for modeling marriage, parenting, and a host of Christian virtues. While we are to demonstrate our character ‘verbally’ says, and we do so that by inviting people into our homes and into our lives.

Peter writes to all Christians when he says “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9) and Paul tells the whole congregation in Rome that they must “Seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13). The author of Hebrews says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Jesus also taught that we will be judged on the basis of our hospitality, for when we love and welcome others we in fact love and welcome him (Matthew 25:35-40). Hardly anything is more characteristic of Christian love than hospitality.

– Being Sober, Gentle, and A Peacemaker
Temperance or self-control is not being addicted to anything harmful or debilitating or worldly. Freedom from enslavements should be so highly prized that no bondage is yielded to.

In regard to drinking alcohol, the Apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth that they must not associate or eat with “anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one” [ 1 Corinthians 5:11 ]. The Apostle Peter agrees: “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” [ 1 Peter 4:3 ].

The Proverbs also warn against drunkenness numerous times and in numerous ways. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat” (Proverbs 23:20).

The Bible makes it crystal clear—God’s people are to be ‘enslaved’ only to Jesus!

To be gentle is to be tender, humble, and fair. It indicates a graciousness, a desire to extend mercy to others, and a desire to yield to both the will of God and the preferences of other people. It is a rare trait, but one we know and love when we see and experience it.

To pursue gentleness is to imitate Jesus. One’s words should not be divisive but helpful and encouraging.

The believer, then, must be gentle, able to control their temper and their response to others when they are attacked, maligned, and finds themselves in tense or difficult situations. They are marked at all times by patience, tenderness, and a ‘sweet’ spirit. They must not lose control either physically or verbally and must not respond to others with physical force or threats of violence. When it comes to their words, they must not quarrel or bicker or be one who loves to argue. Even when pushed and exasperated will not lash out with their words, they will not crush a bruised reed or snuff out a faintly burning wick (Isaiah 42:3).

Now, there are many texts we can turn to, but the ‘primary’ on just might be: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” [ Galatians 5:22-23 ]. (Shortly thereafter Paul says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” – Galatians 6:1).

Paul then urges the Christians in Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” and says that this involves living “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” [ Ephesians 4:1-3 ]. The evidence is clear: We are to be gentle so we can serve as a display of the one who deals so gently with us.

– Not Being a ‘Lover’ of Money
The man should be free from both the love of money and the love of the lavish lifestyle that money can buy. He displays his freedom from the love of money through his generosity.

Jesus warned “You cannot serve both God and [money]” for every person can have only one master (Matthew 6:24). It is crucial to the well-being of the believer that they are joyfully ‘controlled’ by the Word of God rather than the desire for wealth.

Jesus also warned, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Later in his letter to Timothy, Paul warns about the power of money: “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:7-10). [ One of the major themes of the Bible’s wisdom literature is the danger of idolizing money and wealth. ]

Now, it would be a great mistake, however, to think that God only has negative things to say about money. Rather, he tells us that money is a great gift that we can faithfully steward for the most significant purposes. “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce,” says Solomon (Proverbs 3:9). Paul taught the enduring value of generosity when he wrote the church in Corinth: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

So, any problem with money is not the fault of the money itself but with the ‘greedy’, sinful human heart.

It should be the believer’s delight to hold loosely to their wealth and give it away generously. the thing is, we have something so much greater than money that can captivate our affections in a much deeper way: “The Lord gives us greater loves than money, which makes wings and flies away (Prov. 23:5). He gives us greater delights in Christ, who in fact is the greatest delight of all. What a privilege it is, by God’s rich grace, to preach Christ the Lamb to a world overrun with love for money.”

– Being A Leader at Home
Quite simply, it means that a man’s leadership within the home proves his responsibility to being godly. Thus a man’s ability to oversee his household well is a prerequisite for overseeing God’s ‘household’. [ One might think of Eli’s hasty and mistaken rebuke of Hannah as she prayed, while simultaneously abdicating responsibility for his wayward boys (1 Samuel 1-2) ].

Fathers must lovingly lead and teach their children, mothers must joyfully care for their children, exercising patience, and kind authority over them. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4; see also Genesis 18:19; Psalm 78:4; 2 Timothy 3:15).

Proverbs repeatedly portray the importance of disciplining your children. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24; see also Proverbs 19:18; 22:15; 23:13–14; 29:15, 17). [ A host of narrative passages display the danger of neglecting such care and discipline. ] The author of Hebrews likewise emphasizes the importance of disciplining your children as an expression of your love for them. He asks, “What son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7). Indeed, God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” (Hebrew 12:10; See Hebrews 12:3-11 for the context).

From beginning to end the Bible places upon every parent the responsibility to teach and train children and in that way to exercise kind, caring, loving oversight of them.

– Being Mature and Humble
Believers must be mature for at least two reasons: Because maturity is accompanied by the virtue of humility and because immaturity is accompanied with the vices of pride and condemnation. Part of Christian ‘seasoning’ is a humbling process and a growing protection against pride.

God calls all Christians to maturity and humility—and such growth best takes place in the context of mature, humble leadership in the Church.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews says, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). He commends Epaphras for “always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:2). God expects that His children will grow in maturity and that this will, in turn, lead to humility.

So, as the believer grows in maturity, they will necessarily grow in humility.

– Being Respected by ‘Outsiders’
Paul instructs Timothy, “Moreover, [an elder] must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” [ 1 Timothy 3:7 ].

Paul writes, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6). Again, he states, “We urge you, brothers… to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12). Believers will “shine as lights in the world” when they live “without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15).

Similarly, Peter commands, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation… For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:12, 15; see also 1 Peter 3:13–17). What is to be modeled by the church’s leaders is to be obvious in every life. Believers bear the responsibility to live an ‘unblemished’ life before the world.

So, I pray that God would make your life reflect the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) and that your life would glorify Him, He would develop your character, and help you to live an ‘exemplary’ Christian life!

EXAMPLES OF ‘GODLY’ CHARACTER
There is much to be said about what the Bible says about a person’s character.

Character is so important to us that we even recognize it as one of the principal requirements of trust, and trust is an essential prerequisite for all meaningful relationships.

Everyone has a “public” face and a “private” face. Most of us tend to act with better behavior around others than we do in private.

Although sad, it is true that video cameras reveal what we all know: that a person’s real character is who they are when they think no one is looking. The British writer and politician Thomas Macaulay once said, “The measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.”

So then, what does the Bible have to say about “godly character”? Well, the following are a ‘smattering’ of verses that give one some ‘details’ about it:

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world”
[ 1 Peter 5:8-9 ].

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”
[ 2 Peter 1:5-8 ].

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”
[ Philippians 4:8 ].

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you”
[ 1 Corinthians 11:1-2 ].

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”
[ Galatians 5:22-23 ].

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit”
[ Matthew 7:17 ].

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us”
[ Titus 2:7-8 ].

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them”
[ Proverbs 11:3 ].

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord”
[ Psalm 119:1 ].

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love”
[ 1 John 4:8 ].

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”
[ 2 Timothy 3:16 ].

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”
[ Romans 12:2 ].

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children”
[ Ephesians 5:1 ].

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies”
[ John 8:44 ].

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires”
[ Ephesians 4:22].

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’”
[ 1 Corinthians 15:33 ].

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires”
[ Romans 13:14 ].

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
[ 1 Chronicles 16:11 ].

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”
[ Romans 5:3-4 ].

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways”
[ Proverbs 28:6 ].

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’”
[ 1 Samuel 16:7 ].

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’”
[ Hebrews 13:5 ].

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love”
[ 2 Peter 1:5-7 ].

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them”
[ Proverbs 22:1-29 ].

“Heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”
[ 2 Timothy 3:3-4 ].

“Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age”
[ Titus 2:12 ].

“He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart”
[ Psalm 15:2 ].

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”
[ 1 Corinthians 10:13 ].

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”
[ Matthew 6:33 ].

“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful”
[ James 5:11 ]

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked”
[ 1 John 2:6 ].

“That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”
[ Philippians 2:15 ].

“But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him”
[ 1 John 2:5 ].

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”
[ 1 Corinthians 10:13 ]

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance”
[ Romans 5:3 ].

“It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud”
[ Proverbs 16:19].

DEVELOPING ‘CHRISTLIKENESS’
The “Grace Online Library” (for Puritan and Reformed resources) created an excellent list of godly character qualities to use as one develops Christlikeness. Remember, however, the believer’s goal is not moralism or behaviorism. These character qualities are a reflection of the “new man,” a ‘regenerate’ heart.

So, as you see deficiency in your character, realize that external character, obedience or ‘polish’ without a new heart is nothing but works-righteousness and legalism.

[ FYI: For a quick overview of legalism, view these blog posts:
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170320/legalism-and-salvation
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170322/legalism-and-sanctification
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170327/legalism-and-the-conscience ].

– Alertness vs. Unawareness
Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

– Attentiveness vs. Unconcern
Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

– Availability vs. Self-centeredness
Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I am serving (Philippians 2:20-21)

– Boldness vs. Fearfulness
Confidence that what I have to say or do is true and right and just in the sight of God (Acts 4:29)

– Cautiousness vs. Rashness
Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

– Compassion vs Indifference
Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others (1 John 3:17)

– Contentment vs. Covetousness
Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness (1 Timothy 6:8)

– Creativity vs. Underachievement
Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)

– Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness
The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God (James 1:5)

– Deference vs. Rudeness
Limiting my freedom in order not offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21)

– Dependability vs. Inconsistency
Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

– Determination vs. Faintheartedness
Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time regardless of the opposition (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

– Diligence vs. Slothfulness
Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

– Discernment vs. Judgment
The God-given ability to understand why things happen (1 Samuel 16:7)

– Discretion vs. Simplemindedness
The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

– Endurance vs. Giving up
The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

– Enthusiasm vs. Apathy
Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:16,19)

– Faith vs. Presumption
Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it (Hebrews 11:1)

– Flexibility vs. Resistance
Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

– Forgiveness vs. Rejection
Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

– Generosity vs. Stinginess
Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes (2 Corinthians 9:6)

– Gentleness vs. Harshness
Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (1 Thessalonians 2:7)

– Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness
Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life (1 Corinthians 4:7)

– Hospitality vs. Loneliness
Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with those whom God brings into my life (Hebrews 13:2)

– Humility vs. Pride
Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

– Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness
Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

– Joyfulness vs. Self-pity
The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

– Justice vs. Fairness
Personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

– Love vs. Selfishness
Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (1 Corinthians 13:3)

– Loyalty vs. Unfaithfulness
Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13)

Meekness vs. Anger
Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5)

– Obedience vs. Willfulness
Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority (2 Corinthians 10:5)

– Orderliness vs. Disorganization
Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency (1 Corinthians 14:40)

– Patience vs. Restlessness
Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3-4)

– Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness
Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks (2 Timothy 2:24)

Punctuality vs. Tardiness
Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

– Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness
Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10)

– Responsibility vs. Unreliability
Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me (Romans 14:12)

– Reverence vs. Disrespect
Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me (Proverbs 23:17-18)

Security vs. Anxiety
Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

– Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence
Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25)

– Sensitivity vs. Callousness
Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

– Sincerity vs. Hypocrisy
Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (1 Peter 1:22)

– Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness
Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

– Thriftiness vs. Extravagance
Not letting myself or others spend that which is not necessary (Luke 16:11)

– Tolerance vs Prejudice
Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

– Truthfulness vs. Deception
Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

– Virtue vs. Impurity
The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word (2 Peter 1:3)

– Wisdom vs. Natural Inclinations
Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10)

WRAP-UP
Webster’s defines CHARACTER as the aggregate of distinctive attributes and conspicuous traits that make up and distinguish an individual. However, former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden defined it a bit differently: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Now, I’m thinking that most of us would agree with that sentiment, but how many of us, if we are honest, actually ‘live’ this out?

Now, while I’m not one to argue with the brilliance of Coach Wooden—especially as a basketball coach—it seems to me that people’s ‘real’ character is tested more when everyone IS watching, and it is in that environment that people ‘fail’ the test of true character. So, perhaps character is better defined by what you do when everyone IS watching, just as much as it is when no one is watching.

An individual’s character is actually an ‘amalgamation’ of their qualities—or ‘traits’—which make them unique and helps them stand apart from the rest. It has been called the ‘inner self’.

Character is who you ARE at your very ‘core’ of your being. It is all the values and beliefs you hold dear in your ‘heart’—the person you are when you are alone.

There is that axiom I mentioned previously that says that people have three ‘faces’. The first face, you show to the world, the second face, you show to your close friends and one’s family, and the third face, is never shown to anyone, and is the ‘truest’ reflection of who one is.

It all comes down to a person’s ‘core values’ and their ‘motivations’ for acting as they do. In general, people who are considered to have good character often have traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty, fortitude, and other important virtues that promote good behavior. These character traits define who they are as people—and highly influence the choices they make in their lives.

The thing is, we are NOT ‘born’ with the qualities that make up our character. Character develops as one goes through their life, enjoying different experiences and strengthening their character if they ‘choose’ to do so.

Now, character cannot be ‘separated’ from the person. To be of “good” character means that one’s habits, actions, and emotional responses all are united and directed toward the moral and the good. That is to say, public actions cannot be separated from private actions. Both ‘sets’ of actions affect one’s character, and moral character is formed by one’s actions.

Being of ‘good’ character is a unique ‘mixture’ of strengths, weaknesses, virtues, vices, knowledge, and experience. A person expresses their character through ‘ACTIONS’, and the ‘accumulation’ of all observations and interactions with others REVEALS their ‘character’.

“Persons of character” are noted for their honesty, ethics, and charity. Descriptions such as “man of principle” and “woman of integrity” are assertions of character. A lack of character is moral deficiency, and persons lacking character tend to behave dishonestly, unethically, and uncharitably.

A person’s character is the ‘sum’ of their disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions. It is good to remember that character is gauged by ‘general’ tendencies, not on the basis of a few ‘isolated’ actions. We must look at the person’s ‘whole’ life to determine their character.

So, it requires a multitude of good actions to confirm the good character of a person. However, it takes only one ‘bad’ action to lead an observer to question one’s good character. So, they might think that this person is of lesser character then they had first thought, or maybe, in this particular area, the person has a ‘weakness’.

So, to be of GOOD ‘MORAL’ CHARACTER, a person must have ‘knowledge’ of the good, act in morally good ways, and be disposed and inclined toward the good through ‘virtues’.

Ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said that, “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

Observing a person in a challenging situation or circumstance will manifest much about who they are deep, deep inside themselves, and what they will likely do in related situations in the future. So, at one’s ‘core’ is the center of strength and ability to do what is right, under pressure or even when no one is looking—one’s personal ‘INTEGRITY’.

Anything that lacks integrity is unstable, as any structural engineer will tell you. A bridge or skyscraper that has structural integrity simply does what it was designed to do. It isn’t necessarily perfect, having its flaws, but, under stress and repeated use, it does what it was built to do. Even in extreme circumstances, it will do what it was designed to do. If, on the other hand, a structure does not have structural integrity, it will, at some point, fail (just like a person would without integrity).

So, as has been mentioned, when ‘things’ happen, one’s reaction actually reveals—or brings out—one’s ‘true’ character (or what is already inside of one’s ‘heart’). The Bible concurs with this saying that, “As the water reflects the face, so the heart of man reflects the man” (Proverbs 27:19). It also says that what causes the quarrels and fights among people is one’s passions that are at ‘war’ within them (James 4:1).

Problems prove the ‘integrity’ of one’s character The situation doesn’t ‘make’ you what you are, it ‘reveals’ what you are! The problems of life don’t cause us to be different, they reveal the fact that we are not who we want everybody to believe we are. A crisis is one of the most effective ways to reveal true character, and helps to indicate a person’s true ‘INNER’ belief system.

The thing is, there is a vast difference between reputation and character. You see, reputation is what others ‘suppose’ we are, whereas character is what we ‘really’ are. I’ve heard it said that, “Reputation is what you chisel on your tombstone, and character is what the angels say about you before God in Heaven.”

For the believer, however, never does a problem come into their life that there isn’t some ‘purpose’ behind it—though they may not ever, in this life, know why!

A ‘GOOD’ PERSON
My friends would ‘hopefully’ tell you I am a pretty good person. I’m known to perform random acts of kindness, generously donate my time and resources, and actively care for the needs of others (Though I could do more!)

However, for all of my ‘goodness,’ I also know myself, and I am prone to ‘wander’, justify my errors, and think ugly thoughts. We ALL do, right? [ Someone help me here by agreeing with me! ;^D ]

According to Debate.com, 71% of those polled believe people are “inherently good.” Now, the debate over good and evil has gone on forever, and philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Karl Marx, and Erich Fromm have long argued that man, by design, is inherently good.

Well, I tend to agree more with King Solomon—considered the wisest man in recorded history. He concluded that, “There’s not one totally good person on earth, not one who is truly pure and sinless” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ].

Sadly, statistics show character has rapidly declined over the past 20 years. People exhibit significantly less desirable character traits than even five years ago. Formation of questionable character starts early. on in life (Psalm 58:3; Psalm 51:5; Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9).

Studies among school children show that 24% of children as young as Kindergarten admit to lying, cheating, and stealing. Then, 75% of all high school students admit to cheating regularly, and 90% of middle schoolers admit to copying and plagiarizing. The consensus of students interviewed was why not cheat and steal if you won’t get caught? If you ‘look’ good, who cares how you do it? Indeed, we live in a society where self-serving ends justify the questionable means!

Now, most people can quote the golden rule, “Do to others what you would like done to you,” but how many of us can honestly say we follow that wisdom ALL the time? King David, Solomon’s father, was considered a good man. However, even he knew his own heart and how evil he was. He was a liar, adulterer, murderer and thief. He thought—like today’s school children—that if his wrongdoings were hidden and no one knew them, and that they were ‘acceptable’. (“Acceptable” to whom?)

However, in a confession of his own failings, King David wrote, “Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know everything I do.” (Later he cried out to God to “create in me a pure heart” [ Psalm 51:10 ]).

CHARACTER IS A ‘CHOICE’
Character is influenced and developed by our ‘choices’. In the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel “resolved not to defile himself” in Babylon (Daniel 1:8), and that godly choice was an important step in formulating an unassailable integrity in the young man’s life.

Character also ‘influences’ our choices and will also help one ‘weather’ the storms of life and keep us from sin (Proverbs 10:9a). “The integrity of the upright guides them” [ Proverbs 11:3a ].

Now, it is the God’s purpose to develop character within the believer: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3). Godly character is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of ‘sanctification’. Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in their life. It is the purity of heart that God gives that becomes purity in action.

God also sometimes uses trials to strengthen character: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” [ Romans 5:3-4 ]. God is also pleased when His children grow in character: “You test the heart and are pleased with integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17; Psalm 15:1-2).

The thing is, one can develop character by ‘controlling’ their thoughts (Philippians 4:8), practicing Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5-6), guarding thier hearts (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:18-20), and keeping good company (1 Corinthians 15:33). In addition to developing themselves, believers of character will also set a good ‘example’ for others to follow, and their godly reputation will be evident to all (Titus 2:7-8).

‘CHRISTIAN’ CHARACTER
When it comes down to it, character is one is because of their relationship with Jesus. It is something that can be built and learned as they ‘follow’ Him.

[ FYI: For more details on ‘following’ Jesus, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/it-will-cost-you-v233/ ].

Students will always reflect the instruction of their teachers. No matter how far a student may excel beyond their teacher’s abilities, they will always be indebted to the guidance that was given.

When Jesus spoke of trees and their fruit, it was with an eye to the spiritual leaders of His day. In making His point, He gave us a warning: namely, not to choose the wrong teacher. So then, how are we to discern between good and bad teachers? Well, Jesus says it is by their fruit—the results that follow their teachings and actions.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks”
[ Luke 6:43-45 ].

So, we must think of ‘fruit’ in relation to the teacher’s character—and character cannot be tested by measuring eloquence or giftedness. Rather, when Jesus gave instructions concerning the vine and the branches, He implied that fruitfulness equals Christlikeness (John 15:1-8). Each tree is recognized by its own fruit; therefore the ‘fruit of the Spirit’—Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—will be evident in a good teacher’s life.

We then must also examine the ‘content’ of the teacher’s instruction. The Apostle Paul addressed this issue when he wrote to his pastoral protégé Timothy, calling him “To a close watch on your self” (That is, his character – 1 Timothy 4:16).

So, not everybody who shows up with a Bible has the listeners’ best interest at heart, and not everybody who names the name of Jesus is a true teacher of God’s word. It is imperative, then, that believers learn from the Bible not only how to grow in holiness, but also to be able to recognize sound doctrine (the ‘mark’ of a godly teacher). Furthermore, they can take comfort from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who ‘instructs’ them about everything, and enables them to distinguish between truth and falsehood (1 John 2:27).

Now, there is a ‘direct’ correlation between the character of a teacher and the content of their teaching, and the impact they make upon those who are taught. So, choose your spiritual teachers and mentors wisely! Look not at their speaking gifts, cultural connectedness, confidence, or their humor, but at their character and the content they speak.

Without question, the believer will show the world the ‘fruit’ of the teaching you receive. When people are around you, what do they discover? Do they sense judgementalism, bitterness, haughtiness, or self-righteousness? Or, do they ‘taste’ the sweet fruit of joy, peace, love and righteousness from you? (Psalm 34:8; Psalm 106:3; Proverbs 11:18-19; Proverbs 12:28; Isiah 32:17; Galatians 5:22-23; Psalm 11:30; 2 Corinthians 9:10; Philippians 1:11; Romans 14:17-18; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 John 2:29). The answer to these questions will give you an idea of how much of your life you have ‘surrendered’ to the Holy Spirit, and how much you have put into practice.

If you want to know what Christ-like character looks like, a great place to start is the nine character qualities given by the Apostle Paul: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control” [ Galatians 5:22-23 ]. If one is to develop a Christ-like character, we will need these qualities in our lives.

So, whenever one chooses to respond to a situation in God’s way—instead of following our natural direction—they will develop ‘godly’ character. Life brings all kinds of opportunities: conflict, disappointment, challenges, delays, and so on. So, as one is faced with life’s challenges and decides how to react, their actions then become their habits, and their habits become their character.

Again, genuine Christian character is shaped when one surrenders to Jesus’ plan and purposes for their life. They then allow His continual work to grow and enrich them as they submit to a lifestyle and an outlook on life that promotes character. Building and developing character is something they must ‘DESIRE’. It is something that they must ‘PURSUE’ and requires an ‘active’ response through Scripture, prayer, and the practice of the Holy Spirit’s presence lived ‘through’ them. The response is to learn to ‘model’ Jesus, to be active in presenting Him, and to seek to fashion their lives according to His example.

Character needs to be a priority in EVERY believer’s life.

CHARACTER TRAIT – DEFINITION – MEMORY VERSE
Watermark Community Church created a helpful resource entitled “36 Godly Character Traits” to aid their elementary-aged children to become more passionate ‘followers’ of Jesus.

While that is fantastic that they are teaching their children these traits early on in their lives, I’m thinking that ALL BELIEVERS can profit from this list!:

– Respect
Honoring what God says is true about Himself, others and you.
“Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king” [ 1 Peter 2:17 ].

– Responsibility
Being someone that God can count on.
“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. For we are each responsible for our own conduct” [ Galatians 6:4-5 ].

– Fear
Having the right view of God’s perfect justice, grace and authority.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul” [ Deuteronomy 10:12 ].

– Faith
Trusting in God, His Word and His Promises.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” [ Hebrews 11:1 ].

– Wisdom
An understanding of God’s truth that guides your actions.
“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey His commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” [ Psalm 111:10 ].

– Righteousness
Being declared right in God’s sight; no matter who you are or what you’ve done.
“But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners” [ Romans 4:5 ].

– Diligence
Consistently working with all your heart to bring glory to God.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” [ 1 Corinthians 15:58 ].

– Goodness
A heart that reflects the excellent character of God.
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” [ Luke 6:45 ].

– Consistency
Doing what pleases God each time, every time, for a long time.
“You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my
actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands” [ Psalm 119:4-6 ].

– Humility
Living with the right understanding of who God is, who I am and who you are.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” [ Philippians 2:3-4 ].

– Peace
An untroubled heart that comes from trusting God.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” [ John 14:27 ].

– Service
Seeing a need and meeting it out of a heart for God.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many’” [ Mark 10:45 ].

– Initiative
Taking wise action without being told.
“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” [ Matthew 7:20 ].

– Discernment
Seeking God’s direction before acting.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take” [ Proverbs 3:5-6 ].

– Thankfulness
A grateful heart that comes from trusting God.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ].

– Purity
A life that reflects a heart washed clean by God
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” [ Psalm 51:10 ].

– Joy
Delighting in God in all circumstances.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” [ Philippians 4:4 ].

– Love
Love is…
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” [ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ]

–Trustworthy
Being dependable without a doubt.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise” [ Hebrews 10:23 ].

– Patience
Trusting and waiting for God in all things.
“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” [ Psalm 27:13-14 ].

– Obedience
Following God’s commands His way, right away, all the way.
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them” [ John 14:21 ].

– Gentleness
Responding in a kind and careful way.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love” [ Ephesians 4:2 ].

– Hope
Having confidence in God’s promises.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” [ Romans 15:13 ].

– Courage
Living without fear because God is in control.
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” [ Deuteronomy 31:6 ].

– Knowledge
Gaining understanding of the truth.
“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment” [ Proverbs 9:10 ].

– Integrity
Following God inside, outside, and everywhere.
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall” [ Proverbs 10:9 ].

– Generosity
Joyfully sharing what God has given you.
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” [ Proverbs 11:25 ].

– Purpose
Intentionally living for God.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” [ Colossians 3:23 ].

– Self-control
Giving up my way for God’s way.
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” [ Proverbs 25:28 ].

– Kindness
An action that shows you care.
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” [ Ephesians 4:32 ].

– Perseverance
Go the distance, stay the course, even when it’s tough.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” [ Hebrews 12:1 ].

– Mercy
Forgiving others when they don’t deserve it.
“But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness” [ Psalm 86:15 ].

– Honestly
Telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth” [ Proverbs 12:22 ].

– Contentment
Being satisfied with yourself, stuff and circumstances.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” [ Philippians 4:12 .

– Stewardship
Honoring God with all He has given you.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise” [ Psalm 37:15 ].

– Leadership
Guiding others to follow God as you follow Him.
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” [ 1 Corinthians 11:1 ].

A ‘GOOD’ EXAMPLE
The Apostle Paul has had much to say about what it means to be a person of godly character.

Now, even though Jesus is our ‘primary’ model, was there a human being alive in the first century, that we can look to as a flesh-and-blood example? Well, the Apostle Paul’s answer is an astounding “Yes!” It was his pastoral protégé, Timothy.

Timothy is a great example of what it means to be a person of godly character. So, let us look at some of the things that Paul says about Timothy in his book to the Philippians (in Chapter 2):

– Timothy Is A Trusted Representative (v.19)
Paul says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon… For I have no one like him” [ Philippians 2:19a, 20a ]. Paul knows that Timothy will be a trustworthy representative of him and the Gospel.

The question is: Are you a trustworthy representative? Can you be trusted to represent the interests of the people you are called to serve?

– Timothy Is Uniquely Genuine (v. 20)
The reason Paul is sending Timothy instead of someone else is because Timothy “will be genuinely concerned for your welfare” [ Philippians 2:20b ]. Timothy is uniquely genuine.

The Apostle Paul couldn’t think of anyone else who was as uniquely and genuinely concerned for the welfare of the believers in Philippi. Timothy was one-of-a-kind; he was the ‘real deal’.

Once again, do you stand out in the crowd as someone of godly character? Is there any hint of inauthenticity or ‘phony’ about you? Does your reputation leave anyone questioning your genuineness?

– Timothy Seeks The Interests Of Jesus Christ (v. 21)
The Apostle Paul implies that everyone else “seek(s) their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” [ Philippians 2:21 ]. Are you a person who seeks the interests of Jesus?

– Timothy Is A Worthy Co-laborer (v. 22)
Paul said that, “You know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the Gospel” [ Philippians 2:22 ]. This is a picture of a co-laborer who sticks with you through thick and thin instead of running away and hiding at the first sign of difficulty or jumping off the ‘wagon’ because of some silly disagreement. (Sadly, like my namesake, John Mark did once with the Apostle Paul—thought Paul did ‘reconcile’ with Mark at a later date.)

Timothy’s faithful godly character had been ‘time-tested’ and proven to be invaluable.

So, can the same be said of you? Are you a worthy co-laborer?

Timothy was a man who could be trusted to represent the Kingdom of Heaven faithfully. He was a man who was uniquely genuine in his concern for the well-being of others. He was a man who sought the interests of Jesus alone, unlike so many others in the ‘Christian’ community at that time. He was a man that could be trusted to stick around through the best and the worst of times.

So, the question is to the believer: Are you this kind of person? Do you possess godly character? If not ‘totally’, where do you need the Holy Spirit’s help in becoming more like Jesus?

Godly people ‘genuinely’ love people. This is the foundational evidence of a godly person. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” [ John 13:35 ]. Later, Paul said that, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, if genuine love does not mark your life, you have nothing” [ 1 Corinthians 13:1 ]. In our more recent history, John Wesley, described the empowering of the Holy Spirit as “the baptism of perfect love.” [ Love is the ‘core’ of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in Galatians 5:22-23 ].

So, the greatest example of a ‘holy’ life would be Jesus. He touched people with unconditional love. Believers then—who desire to live a godly life—are willing to genuinely love others, like Jesus did, then when non-believers see the Gospel ‘lived out’ in them, they will want to know more about their Christianity.

Surrendering to God’s will and His leadership is a key step in becoming a godly person—and that won’t happen until you know that He cares more about you and the things that concern you than you do yourself. Then, when one gets to that place, they can trust Him completely, and their godliness will grow.

The Apostle Peter said, “You ought to live holy and godly lives” [ 2 Peter 3:11 ]. Now, there is a ‘catch’ to this. When holy reputation is mentioned, they are not talking about ‘outward’ conformity to look holy, they are talking about an ‘inward’ transformation that makes a person holy. Holy lives are lived from the inside out. “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” [ Romans 12:2 ]. This process of being transformed is a work that God longs to do in each of us.

The thing is, you will recognize a ‘godly’ person when you not only see the person, but you see Jesus ‘in’ them. It is His transforming power that allows the believer to love people, and live godly lives. As you allow Jesus to work in your life—change you from the inside out—people WILL recognize you as a ‘godly’ person!

‘FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT’
As I have alluded to previously, the Apostle Paul talks about some attributes of a person with godly character that is called the “fruit of the Spirit”: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” [ Galatians 5:22-23a ].

The simplest description of the ‘fruit’ is that they are CHARACTERISTICS. Notice that they are not abilities (though many of the gifts of the Spirit involve abilities). They are not ‘doing’ words. They are ‘BEING’ words. Someone IS gentle; someone IS loving; someone IS self-controlled. Yet, while this is true, being always ‘leads to’ doing. This is one way the fruit of the Spirit ‘intersects’ with how we act.

So, how does one develop godly character? Well, for starters, the Bible says that, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” [ Luke 6:43 ].

A wise man once said that, “The greatest battle does not take place on the land, or on the sea, or in the air, it takes place in the mind.” Thoughts are ‘things’ and character development begins with thoughts.

So, to develop a ‘godly’ character, one must use the Word of God as their primary ‘ingredient’ for doing so. The Bible contains instructions and guidance anyone will ever need for godly living.

Jesus said ALL need to “Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” [ John 5:39 ]. It is not enough just to know that the Word of God contains God’s thoughts, one must find and search out what it actually says and how we ought to act it out. God’s Word is not theory, it is practical. It is meant to be lived out and to enjoy its true benefits. Jesus emphasized this by saying, “Great blessings will be yours if you do them” [ John 13:17 ].

Believers all want to grow in spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. They all want to put aside patterns of sin and unrighteousness and to replace them with patterns of holiness. Ultimately, they want to become ‘like’ Christ, to think how He thought and to behave how He behaved—do well to aspire to the highest standards of holiness and godliness.

A person with godly character is a reflection of the “new man,” having a ‘regenerate’ heart. So, the Bible says that the ONLY way to have a “godly” character, is to be God’s ‘child’—and for that to happen, one must be “saved” or “born again.”

Now, everyone can definitely ‘refine’ their character to a ‘certain’ extent. However, one cannot develop a TRUELY ‘godly’ character unless they are “born again” AND ‘indwelt’ by the Holy Spirit.

SADLY, observing from the ‘outside’, that family member I have mentioned in the previous posts, didn’t portray that he was—based on his actions—born again and on his way to Heaven. ;^( HOWEVER, my other ‘swimmer’ friend DID portray ‘godly’ character, and based on the ‘fruit’ of this life, he IS in Heaven!

BECOMING ‘BORN AGAIN’
The phrase “born again” literally means to be “born from above” (“anothen” in the Greek). One night Jesus talked to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling body of the Jews). Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night (so no one else would see him meeting with Jesus) with some questions—and he had a real need. He needed a change of his heart—a spiritual transformation (John 3:1-21).

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” When Jesus said that, Nicodemus was ‘flabbergasted’, and had no idea what Jesus was saying (because this was not what the Torah and the Talmud taught). So, Nicodemus said to Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” [ John 3:4 ]. Jesus responded by becoming a bit more ‘detailed’ by stating that God’s Kingdom is only for those people who have been ‘cleansed’ from above—a divine miracle (John 3:5-8). Nicodemus then asked Jesus, “How can these things be?” [ John 3:9 ].

Jesus said that only God knows who will be born again (regenerated) by the Holy Spirit. He continued stating that spiritual ‘birth’ is completely out of the hands of the sinner—it is totally a sovereign ‘work’ of God. Just as the wind is invisible, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and cannot be summoned when one wants, so is God’s ‘election’ of whom He will save and when. “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit” [ John 3:8 ]. Like the wind, God does something that we can’t see, but later causes results that we will eventually ‘see’.

All of this was so new to Nicodemus—so contrary to everything he had ever learned. He is still ‘shaking his head’ in disbelief. He was told that he can’t do anything—and couldn’t understand that. He then leaves with a question he’s never had in his entire life. So, he wonders, “What can I do to be in God’s good graces, and end up in Heaven?”

Being very well versed in the Old Testament, Nicodemus should have remembered that God ‘spoke’ this same concept to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” [ Exodus 33:19b ]. This verse now had ‘new’ meaning for him.

The “new birth”—being “born again”—is an act of God whereby eternal life is ‘imparted’ to the person who repents of their sins and BELIEVES ‘in’ Jesus as their Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-4, 18). The Apostle John indicated that being “born again” also carries the idea of becoming ‘children’ of God: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” [ John 1:12 ].

You then might be asking, “Why does a person need to be born again?” Well, the Apostle Paul said that, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” [ Ephesians 2:1 ]. To the Romans he wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [ Romans 3:23 ]. Sinners are spiritually “dead” and when one receives spiritual life through their faith in Jesus, the Bible likens it to a “rebirth.” ONLY those who are “born again” have their sins forgiven and have a relationship with God the Father!

So, how does this come to be? Well, again, the Apostle Paul states that, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” [ Ephesians 2:8-9 ]. Trusting ‘in’ Jesus—the One who paid the penalty of sin when He died on the Cross—is the ‘means’ to become “born again,” become a new ‘creature’, and be ‘gifted’ salvation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!” [ 2 Corinthians 5:17 ].

[ Now, salvation is a divine ‘miracle’ that comes down from Heaven, in which we do not participate. Just like we didn’t participate in our own physical birth, we don’t participate in our ‘regeneration’. One does not make any ‘contribution’ to their spiritual ‘birth’. God ‘elected’ those that would be regenerated before the “foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” [ Romans 8:29-30 ]. It’s all a work of God. ]

[ VIDEO: “What Does It Mean to be a Born Again Christian?” ]

You may, at this point, really want to know, “WHAT do I need to do to BE ‘SAVED’?” Well, all you can do is ASK! Plead to God for His mercy and grace to SAVE you—to REGENERATE your soul, and make you a NEW ‘CREATION’.

Jesus said, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” [ Luke 11:9-10 ]. So, one must be zealous and perseverant when asking for this AMAZING ‘GIFT’ of being ‘saved’ from an eternal Hell!

There happens to be a parable that Jesus told about just how one should ‘ask’:

“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”
[ Luke 18:9-14 ].

The ‘moral’ of the parable is you need to be TOTALLY CONVINCED in your ‘heart’ that your sins are going to send you to an eternal Hell, and that only the grace and mercy of God can help you avoid that inevitability! So then, cry out, “Lord, BE MERCIFUL TO ME, a sinner, and SAVE ME!” Keep pounding on the ‘door’! (Luke 11:5-10; Luke 18:1-8). This so happens to be the ‘method’ God has expected us to use even before Jesus came:

“Seek the Lord while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously”
[ Isaiah 55:6-7 ].

Like the penitent tax collector (in Luke 18), the only ‘way’ into God’s Kingdom is by becoming broken in spirit, mournful, and eager for forgiveness that you can’t attain by yourself, and don’t deserve.

In the beginning of the fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, Jesus begins what is called the “Sermon on the Mount”. In one of His most famous teachings—called “The Beatitudes”—He presents kind of ‘summary’ of who a person needs to be like to enter the Kingdom of God.

Jesus starts off with: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. This says that only those who admit their spiritual bankruptcy and sinfulness can enter the Kingdom. The next verse shows the result of this inner poverty: “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted”. Only those who are broken and mournful over their will sin ever receive salvation. Meekness, produced by the crushing weight of one’s sin, also characterizes a person entering the Kingdom. So, when a person is poor in spirit, mournful about their sin, and is meek, then they will hunger and thirst after righteousness, and then will be ‘filled’ (Matthew 5:1-12).

Does this describe you? Has God ‘CONFRONTED’ you about your sin? Have you been ‘CONVICTED’ of your sins? If so, have you ‘REPENTED’ of your sins? Do you really ‘BELIEVE’ what Jesus did for you?

If you have not yet ASKED God to ‘SAVE’ YOU, you still have a chance! The Bible says: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” [ 2 Peter 3:9 ].

However, since none of us knows what will happen tomorrow—or even the next minute—the Bible encourages us to, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” [ Philippians 2:12-13 ].

Let me to strongly encourage you to CRY OUT TO GOD, RIGHT NOW, TO ‘SAVE’ YOU!

‘INDWELT’ BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
The ‘indwelling’ of the Holy Spirit occurs at the very ‘moment’ a person ‘accepts’ Jesus as their personal Savior. The Spirit comes to live ‘inside’ them and then begins His work in the life of the believer (primarily, to make them ‘look’ like Jesus).

Now, as I mentioned previously, everyone can definitely ‘refine’ their character to a ‘certain’ extent—even to ‘look’, from the ‘outside’ that they are pretty much a “saint.” However, one cannot develop a TRUELY ‘godly’ character unless they are “born again” and then ‘indwelt’ by the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” [ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ]. These verses are telling us that the believer in Jesus has the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, living inside them ‘spiritually’ (Titus 3:5; 2 Peter 1:4), and the Holy Spirit comes to live within him spiritually.

The fact that the believer’s body is likened to a temple where the Holy Spirit lives helps us understand what the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is all about. The word temple is used to describe the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum in the Old Testament tabernacle structure. There, God’s presence would appear in a cloud and meet the high priest, who came once a year into the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest brought the blood of a slain animal and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. On this special day, God granted forgiveness to the priest and His people.

Today, there is no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and the animal sacrifices have ceased. The believer in Christ has become the inner ‘sanctum’ of God, as the believer has been sanctified and forgiven by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7). The believer in Jesus becomes the ‘habitation’ of the Holy Spirit of God. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” [ 1 Corinthians 3:16 ]. In fact, Scripture also says that the believer is indwelt spiritually also by Jesus (Colossians 1:27) and by God the Father (1 John 4:15). The whole Trinity is involved with the believer!

The ministry “Got Questions,” offers a ‘top ten’ of life-changing results that the Holy Spirt brings to the believer:

– The indwelling Spirit comes to a soul dead in sin and creates new life (Titus 3:5). This is the new birth Jesus spoke of in John 3:1-8.

– The indwelling Spirit confirms to the believer that he belongs to the Lord and is an heir of God and fellow-heir with Christ (Romans 8:15-17).

– The indwelling Spirit installs the new believer as a member of Christ’s universal church. This is the baptism of the Spirit, according to 1 Corinthians 12:13.

– The indwelling Spirit gives spiritual gifts (God-given abilities for service) to the believer to edify the church and serve the Lord effectively for His glory (1 Corinthians 12:11).

– The indwelling Spirit helps the believer understand and apply the Scripture to his daily life (1 Corinthians 2:12).

– The indwelling Spirit enriches the believer’s prayer life and intercedes for him in prayer (Romans 8:26-27).

– The indwelling Holy Spirit empowers the yielded believer to live for Christ to do His will (Galatians 5:16). The Spirit leads the believer in paths of righteousness (Romans 8:14).

– The indwelling Spirit gives evidence of new life by producing the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life (Galatians 5:22-23).

– The indwelling Spirit is grieved when the believer sins (Ephesians 4:30), and He convicts the believer to confess his sin to the Lord so that fellowship is restored (1 John 1:9).

– The indwelling Spirit seals the believer unto the day of redemption so that the believer’s arrival in the Lord’s presence is guaranteed after this life (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Now, on the other hand, the Apostle Paul tells us that if a person DOES NOT ‘possess’ the Holy Spirit, they do not ‘belong’ to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” [ Romans 8:9 ]. He goes on to say that the Holy Spirit is the ‘seal’ of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” [ Ephesians 1:13-14 ].

So, when one accepts Jesus as their personal Savior (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their ‘heart’, bringing with Him an entirely new life of love (‘fruits of the Spirit), relationship (comfort), and guidance (conviction; ‘empowerment’; Illumination of the Word of God).

The ‘ministry’ of the Holy Spirit is to transform the character of the believer, and do the WORK ‘in’ them (“sanctification”) that they need to eventually have the character of Jesus.

‘SANCTIFICATION’
So, as a writer ‘reveals’ their characters piece-by-piece—adding depth and substance to their ‘CHARACTER’ as the story develops—God does the same thing with His ‘children’. The term in the Bible uses to describe this ‘development’ of a person’s ‘character’ is “SANCTIFICATION.”

Sanctification is God’s ‘will’ for the believer (1 Thessalonians 4:3). To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make them ‘holy’—of ‘refined’ character (like the ‘dross’ that is removed in the refining process for silver and gold).

Sanctification is also referred to as the “filling” of the Holy Spirit, in which He, primarily, ‘illuminates’ the Word of God to the believer. However, that is not all He does. He helps the believer make better decisions with new wisdom, to see things that they would not normally see, to guide them, to comfort them, to convict them, to empower them to do ‘ministry’, and to develop their character to ‘look’ like Jesus, primarily by His ‘fruits’ (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). [ Now, of course, these are just the ‘highlights’ of what the Holy Spirit does. Refer to the “Articles” section for additional resources on this. ]

Jesus had a bit to say about sanctification. In His “High Priestly” prayer, He said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” [ John 17:16 ]. He then requested that the Father “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” [ John 17:17 ].

In Christian theology, sanctification is a state of separation unto God. All believers enter into this state when they are ‘born’ of God: “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” [ 1 Corinthians 1:30 ]. The sanctification mentioned in this verse is a once-for-ever separation of believers unto God. It is a work God performs, an intricate part of our salvation and their ‘connection’ with Jesus (Hebrews 10:10).

While we are ‘positionally’ holy (“set free from every sin” by the blood of Christ – Acts 13:39), the believer still sins (1 John 1:10). That is why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a ‘practical’ experience of our separation unto God. “Progressive” or “experiential” sanctification, as it is sometimes called, is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. It is the same as ‘growing’ in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18) or spiritual ‘MATURITY’. God started the work of making us like Christ, and He is continuing it (Philippians 1:6) until we meet Him in Heaven (by death or rapture).

This type of sanctification is to be pursued by the believer earnestly (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14) and is effected by the application of the Word (John 17:17). Progressive sanctification has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” [ John 17:18-19 ]. That Jesus set Himself apart for God’s purpose is both the basis and the condition of our being set apart, too (John 10:36).

The believer is sanctified and sent because Jesus was. His sanctification is the ‘pattern’ for the believer. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. On this account, we are called “saints” (“hagioi” in the Greek), or “sanctified ones.” Prior to salvation, our behavior bore witness to our standing in the world in separation from God, but now our behavior should bear witness to our standing before God in separation from the world. Little by little, day by day, “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). The believer is ‘BECOMING’ more LIKE CHRIST!

Now, there is another sense in which the word sanctification is used in Scripture—a “complete” or “ultimate” sanctification. This is the same as “glorification.” The Apostle Paul prays: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ]. Paul speaks of Christ as “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and links the glorious appearing of Jesus to our personal glorification: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” [ Colossians 3:4 ]. This ‘glorified’ state will be our ultimate separation from sin, a total sanctification in every regard. “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” [ 1 John 3:2 ].

To summarize, “sanctification” is a translation of the Greek word “hagiasmos,” meaning “holiness” or “a separation.” When one is “born again,” God grants them justification, a once-for-all, positional holiness in Christ. Then, God guides them—by His Holy Spirit—to maturity, a practical, progressive holiness. [ In the future, God will give us glorification, a permanent, ultimate holiness. These three phases of sanctification separate the believer from the penalty of sin (justification), the power of sin (maturity), and the presence of sin (glorification). ]

The Apostle Paul noted that the believer needs to “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” [ Philippians 2 12-13 ].

That really describes the dynamics the pathology of spiritual life and sanctification. God has done a work in the believer, and will do a ‘transforming’ work in them. So then, it is their responsibility to make manifest on the outside the salvation that God has wrought on the inside!

[ VIDEO: “What Is the Bible’s Definition of Sanctification?” ]

THE HOLY SPIRIT ‘REFINES’ THE BELIEVER
Now, when God is sanctifying a person—just like a vinedresser in a vineyard—He will ‘prune’ them so that their character ‘looks like; His Son, Jesus.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”
[ John 15:1-11 ].

[ VIDEO” “The Vinedresser (John 15)” ]

When you were born again, you were joined to Jesus and were in the welt with his holy spirit. Like the sap in a branch, his life now flows through you, producing righteous fruit.

The fruit of the Spirit is producing enough comes in two ‘forms’—our character and our works. In other words, God is enabling us to become the person He wants us to become, to accomplish the work He has planned for us to do. In this way, the believer glorifies God and proves to be one of His Son’s ‘disciples’.

[ FYI: For more details about being a ‘disciple’ of Jesus, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/it-will-cost-you-v233/ ].

So, to help the believer become more ‘fruitful’, one must ‘prune’ away whatever is hindering the bearing of that fruit (John 15:2). This includes sin in all its forms, as well as anything that distracts the believer from Jesus or draws them away from Him. The cutting ‘tools’ Jesus uses are specifically designed for each person. Most of the time His pruning knife comes in the form of ‘trials’. Problems and suffering have a way upbringing our eyes back to Jesus, and returning the believer to complete ‘dependence’ on Him.

So, instead of resisting the pruning process, the believer needs to yield to the Holy Spirit by confessing and repenting of any sin in their life. Then, consider whether anything is distracting them from focusing ‘totally’ on Jesus. (Sometimes even something good can occupy too much of your time, attention, or affection.)

Now, the believer does not have to live in complete self-denial of all earthly joys. The goal is just to keep them in the proper place so that Jesus is their ‘priority’.

So, if you are currently feeling the sharpness of God’s pruning ‘knife’, I pray you will realize that He is doing a ‘good’ work in you. His goal is not to hurt you unnecessarily, but to benefit you eternally! God is much more interested in your spiritual ‘fruit bearing’ than in your temporal comfort and ease.

Right now, you may feel like a grapevine being pruned at the end of a season of growth, but come ‘harvest’ time, you will have great ‘joy’ in being pruned to be ready for your eternal home—Heaven!

Now, the ‘fruit’ only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit—Christ’s indwelling presence among His chosen people, His ‘branches’. Therefore, it is submission to the Holy Spirit, and constant abiding in Christ that produces this fruit.

Interestingly, do you remember how God looked out over creation and said, “It is good” (in Genesis 1)? He is similarly pleased with His new ‘creations’ in Christ—“born again” believers!

Dutch theologian and biblical scholar Herman Nicolaas Ridderbos said:

“For apart from me you can do nothing’ that is, nothing that corresponds to the new life that he bestows and the new commandment that he gives. For without this reciprocal remaining in him and him in them they will fall back on themselves, either in total unfruitfulness or lapsing into the wild growth that is no longer shaped by his word, into activism or idealism that is neither derived from nor directed to him.”

The believer is a new ‘creation’ in Christ, and God is ‘tilling’ the land of their soul so that they will bear much fruit in this new ‘land’. God is the Vine, and they are the ‘branches’. Praise God for His diligent sovereign work of tilling the soil of a believer’s soul in order to produce the fruit of the Spirit within them!

‘REVEALING’ GODLY CHARACTER
Pastor and author David Jeremiah said that, “It has been said that difficulties don’t determine who we are. Rather, they reveal who we are. Said another way, the same heat that softens butter can make mud hard as a brick. It all depends on how the thing being heated responds. The same is true with the human heart. Difficulties can soften one’s heart and harden another.”

In the Old Testament, Joseph, in Egypt, and Daniel, in Babylon, both revealed their character to their pagan masters. Their difficulties caused the presence of God to be manifested ‘through’ them.

In the New Testament, no one endured and had more difficulties—over a long period of time—than the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 6:3-10, 11:23-29). However, his troubles revealed his ‘inner’ character—the ‘treasure’ of Jesus within him: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” [ 2 Corinthians 4:7 ].

Troubles in life are normal (Job 5:7). It’s just one’s response to trouble that will show one’s character and ‘manifest’ Jesus to the world (or not!). Difficulties don’t determine who we are, they ‘REVEAL’ who we ‘ARE’!

Difficulties get one’s ‘attention’—and when they force one to face trials that are too ‘big’ for them to resolve, they sometimes ‘look’ to God for relief. The thing is, God uses adversities to motivate people to ‘cry’ out to Him: “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” [ Psalm 34:17 ].

God wants VERY MUCH for people to understand that He is their Creator (Genesis 1:26-27), He knows what they need better than they do (Romans 8:27-37), and they really can’t do anything ‘substantial’ without Him (John 15:5; Galatians 6:3). That’s why He ‘YEARNS’ to have an intimate ’relationship’ with them (John 17:3), and is patiently ‘waiting’ for them to ‘ASK’ for it! (Matthew 11:28-29; Matthew 5:8; Revelation 3:20).

God VERY MUCH wants ‘lighten’ their burdens (Matthew 11:28-30) and help them accomplish How will for their lives—to ‘shape’ them so that they REFLECT THE ‘CHARACTER’ of Jesus! (Romans 8:28-29)—performing a TOTAL ‘TRANSFORMATION’ of the believer’s character!

‘RECEIVING’ JESUS’ CHARACTER
So, if you have never trusted in Jesus as your Savior, have you sensed a ‘prompting’ in your ‘spirit’? If so, this may be the last time you may sense this (if you have disregarded multiple promptings in the past).

So, might I encourage you to ASK Jesus to ‘reveal’ His ‘CHARACTER’ to you—being the compassionate Savior of the world (John 3:16)—so that you then can be transformed by it and, in turn, be on your way to developing HIS ‘CHARACTER’ in you, as a “born again” ‘child’ of God!

The Apostle Paul reminds us that the “things that are seen on this earth”—taking primarily about you right now—are “transient” and “wasting away” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18), and that, even though we are “afflicted in every way,” we don’t have to be perplexed or despair, since God will not “forsake” on of His ‘children’!

Paul goes on to say that “though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” and that this is only a “light, momentary affliction” (Corinthians 4:17a), since Jesus is preparing a place (in Heaven) for His followers (John 14:3) and will come back again to take you from this earth to that place (John 14:3).

So, while you are on this earth waiting for your ‘home going’, don’t you want to have a GODLY CHARACTER that ‘emulates’ Jesus? A character that you will take with you to your eternal home—Heaven?

If so, repent of your sins and believe in Jesus as your Savior (Romans 10:9-10; Mark 1:15; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Matthew 3:2; Luke 13:5; John 1:12; John 3:1-36)

[ VIDEO: “What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?” ]

The Bible tells us that we have all sinned; we have all committed evil acts (Romans 3:10-18). As a result of our sin, we deserve God’s anger and judgment. The only just punishment for sins committed against an infinite and eternal God is an infinite punishment (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:11-15). That is why we need a Savior!

Jesus came to earth to teach us, heal us, correct us, forgive us—and die for us, in our ‘place’! Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus paid the price so that we would not have to (and we NEVER could have!).

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins—and that’s why Jesus is the one and only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

SO, you may ask, “What is this repentance you have mentioned?” Well, it is what the prophet John the Baptist heralded during Jesus’ time (The Greek word translated “repentance” is “metanoia,” and means simply “a change of mind.”).

When a repentant person changes their mind about sin, that change of mind naturally leads to a turning away from sin. Sin is no longer desirable, because they know that sin brings condemnation. The repentant sinner begins to abhor their past misdeeds, and they begin to seek ways to amend their behavior (Luke 19:8). So, ultimately, the result of the change of mind about sin is good deeds. The sinner turns away from sin toward faith in the Savior, and that faith is shown in action, deeds (James 2:17)

Although there is no ‘particular’ words that God requires to become born again, sometimes it helps to have something to guide a person. So, if that is you, say to God something like the following, from your ‘heart’:

ADMIT THAT YOU’RE A SINNER
This is where that godly sorrow leads to genuine repentance for sinning against the righteous God and there is a change of heart, we change our mind and God changes our hearts and regenerates us from the inside out” [ Romans 3:10; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23 ]

BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS, WAS BURIED, AND THAT GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD
Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Jesus from the dead. This is trusting with all of your heart that Jesus Christ is who he said he was” [ Romans 10:9-10 ].

CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD
This is trusting with all of your heart that Jesus Christ is who he said he was. Every single person who ever lived since Adam will bend their knee and confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings” [ Romans 14:11; Romans 10:13 ].

[ VIDEO: “The ABC’s of Salvation” by JD Farag: https://www.jdfarag.org/abc ]

DO NOT put this off any longer! DO NOT delay the MOST IMPORTANT ‘DECISION’ of your life—attaining ‘ETERNAL’ LIFE! Make TODAY ‘THE’ DAY of your salvation!!!

[ NOTE: You can ‘ask’ in your own words, but if you need a bit of help, there is a “Reconciliation Prayer” just below. Please contact me if you do become “born again.” I can direct you to resources that will aid you in your new spiritual ‘journey’. ]

So, the HOLY SPIRIT is that ‘Someone’ that can REALLY help one refine their character in the BEST of ways—and ‘THE’ WAY that God wants for you… to make you have the ‘CHARACTER’ of Jesus!

[ Excerpts by: Trish Propson; Walter Pavlo; Bridget McNulty; Jason Hamilton; Beengee; Bella Rose Pope; Becca Puglisi; September C. Fawkes; Elizabeth Moyer;  Elias Anttila; Marilyn Rogers; Steve Ricci; Kathleen McCleary; Louise A. Mitchell; David Jeremiah; Douglas R. Satterfield; Lou Ludwig; Ritu Bhasin; Robert Emmons; StudyCorgi submission; Tara Michelle West;  Juliana Breines; Hokuma Karimova; Tom Gilovich; Robert Locke; Tim Challies; Mel Siggelkow; Tsungi Chiwara; Kelli Mahoney; Seattle Christian Counseling; Got Questions; Joe Marino; Constantine R. Campbell; Our Daily Bread; John MacArthur; Charles Stanley ]

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‘PRAYER’ OF REPENTANCE
In the Bible, there is a parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying the Temple. He notes that the tax collector didn’t even dare to lift his eyes toward Heaven as he prayed. Instead he “beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’”—and Jesus said that the tax collector “went home justified,” he had been “born again” and ‘reconciled’ by God. (Luke 18:9-14).

If you are ‘sensing’ something like that right now, let me strongly encourage you to HUMBLE YOURSELF, CRY OUT to God, and PLEAD for Him to mercifully ‘SAVE’ YOU! None of us have a ‘claim’ on our salvation, nor do we have any ‘works’ that would cause us to deserve it or earn it—it is purely a gift of Divine grace—and all any of us can do is ask. So, CONFESS YOUR SINS and acknowledge to God that you have no hope for Heaven apart from what He provides through Jesus. [ See Psalm 51 ].

There is no ‘formula’ or certain words for this. So just talk to God, in your own words—He knows your ‘heart’. If you are genuinely sincere, and God does respond to your plea, one will usually have a sense of joy and peace.

Jesus said, “He that comes to Me, I will not cast out” [ John 6:37 ].

[ FYI: This is a great sermon on the “Call to Repentance” by John MacArthur from his book “The Gospel According to Jesus”: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-22/the-call-to-repentance (Transcript: http://www.spiritedesign.com/TheCallToRepentance-JohnMacArthur(Jul-27-2019).pdf) ].

[ NOTE: If you have ‘tasted the kindness of the Lord’, please e-mail me—I would love to CELEBRATE with you, and help you get started on your ‘journey’ with Jesus! ].


<<< RESOURCES >>>


The Only Character Workbook You’ll Ever Need: Your New Character Bible
By: T.M. Holladay

Become a master of incredible characters. In this first installment of Series Bibles for Writers, discover the backstories, personalities, vulnerabilities, and what makes your fiction characters tick.

Contents include fully-customizable, in-depth pages for:

Different personality types and aspects
12 primary character profiles with room for sketches and extra notes.
24 secondary character profiles and notes.
108 minor character mini-descriptions
Character groups and lists
Relationship maps and family trees
Reference lists (alphabetical and chronological)
Extra note pages for thoughts as they come to you.
Whether writing a series or multiple stand-alones, this workbook is comprehensive enough to handle it all. Think of this as a guided notebook–part of your own “series bible”– that won’t let you forget any detail. Even better, you can quickly search through your cast of characters as you’re writing!

Please note: this is not a textbook. This is an organized space for you to create outstanding characters. No more sticky notes on the wall and thoughts scribbled out on lost envelopes. Free up your mind to write amazing fiction, and let these workbooks keep track of all the details that make your characters and worlds compelling.

About the creator: T.M. Holladay writes YA fantasy. She’s also a perfectionist. When her story worlds became too complicated for the sticky notes on her wall, she knew something had to be done, and she wasn’t the only writer out there with that problem.

The “Series Bibles for Writers” workbooks are the product of a massive effort to cover every possible detail in a flexible, adaptable form. Her labor of love has quickly become a new favorite among creators. For more Series Bibles for Writers, look for “The Only World Building Workbook You’ll Ever Need,” and “The Only Fantasy Workbook You’ll Ever Need.”


The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles
(Volume 1) (Writers Helping Writers Series)
By: Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

Every story starts with a character who is motivated by a need and has a goal that can resolve it. Whether their objective is to find a life partner, bring a killer to justice, overthrow a cruel regime, or something else, conflict transforms a story premise into something fresh. Physical obstacles, adversaries, moral dilemmas, deep-seated doubts and personal struggles…these not only block a character’s external progress, they become a gateway for internal growth. The right conflict will build tension and high stakes, challenge characters as they traverse their arcs, and most importantly, keep readers emotionally invested from beginning to end.

Inside Volume 1 of The Conflict Thesaurus, you’ll find:

A myriad of conflict options in the form of relationship friction, failures and mistakes, moral dilemmas and temptations, pressure and ticking clocks, and no-win scenarios
An analysis of each scenario that maps out possible complications and catastrophes, internal struggles, and the stressful impacts on a character’s basic human needs
Guidance on using conflict to influence your protagonist’s character arc through opportunities for failure and success
Master class instruction on internal conflict: what it is, why it’s important, and how to incorporate it at the scene and story levels
Information about the role conflict plays in generating high stakes that are personally significant to the character, upping the tension for readers
A breakdown of the various adversaries your character might encounter along the way
Don’t give your character a break. Keep the hits coming with a variety of obstacles that will force them to work harder to get what they want. With over 100 entries arranged in a user-friendly format, The Conflict Thesaurus is the guide you need to write intense and satisfying fiction readers won’t forget.


The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles
(Volume 2) (Writers Helping Writers Series)
By: Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

A story where the character gets exactly what they want doesn’t make for good reading. But add villainous clashes, lost advantages, power struggles, and menacing threats…well, now we have the makings of a page-turner. Conflict is the golden thread that binds plot to arc, providing the complications, setbacks, and derailments that make the character’s inner and outer journeys dynamic.

Inside Volume 2 of The Conflict Thesaurus, you’ll find:
A myriad of conflict options in the form of power struggles, ego-related stressors, dangers and threats, advantage and control losses, and other miscellaneous challenges
Information on how each scenario should hinder the character on the path to their goal so they’ll learn valuable life lessons and gain insight into what’s holding them back internally
Instruction about using the multiple levels of conflict to add pressure through immediate, scene-level challenges and looming problems that take time to solve
Guidance on keeping a story’s central conflict in the spotlight and utilizing subplots effectively so they work with—not against—the main plotline
An exploration of the climax and how to make this pinnacle event highly satisfying for readers
Ways to use conflict to deepen your story, facilitate epic adversarial showdowns, give your characters agency, and infuse every scene with tension

Meaningful conflict can be so much more than a series of roadblocks. Challenge your characters inside and out with over 100 tension-inducing scenarios in this second volume of The Conflict Thesaurus. And for more instruction on how to use this element to enhance your story (and an additional 100+ conflict scenarios), check out The Conflict Thesaurus, Volume 1.


Character Development Journal: Writer’s Guide and Workbook
By: Philip Harvey

THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CHARACTER CREATION

The Character Development Journal: Writer’s Guide & Workbook is the first book in the Writing Companion Series. Focusing on character creation, it provides all the tools needed to construct memorable story characters.

CONTAINS
COMPREHENSIVE WRITER’S GUIDE: A step-by-step guide to character creation that includes over 200 detailed descriptions.
CHARACTER PROFILES: Detailed templates provided for all major, minor, and supporting cast characters.
CHARACTER TRAITS: Define your major and minor characters using the 16 personality types, 100 detailed character types, and 110 character trait descriptions included in this guide.
WRITING ACTIVITIES: Questions, prompts and exercises designed to bring your characters to life.
CUSTOMISABLE INDEX: To keep your project organised.
STORY ROLE DEFINTIONS: For all your major story characters.
HANDY SYNONYM REFERENCES: Making it easier than ever to find just the right word.
BLUEPRINTS: Descriptive examples provided throughout the book.
AND MUCH, MUCH MORE.

Welcome to the Character Development Journal: Writer’s Guide & Workbook, the definitive guide to character creation and the ultimate reference workbook.

The Writing Companion Series was created to help writers bring compelling stories to life. Separating each writing task into manageable projects, it aims to guide the writer through every stage of the creative development process.


1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes and Hams for Scripts, Stories and More
(Story Prompts for Journaling, Blogging and Beating Writer’s Block Book 3)
By: Bryan Cohen

Do You Want To Create Rich, Three-Dimensional Characters?
These 1,000 Hand-Picked Ideas Are Just What You Need.
From the author of 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, this 150,000+ word reference tool can serve writers who need characters and need them now!

If character development is your problem, this detailed reference tool for any writer is the solution. Imagine if every time you sat down to brainstorm for your stories, scripts and more, you had a notebook full of character ideas ready to spring to life on the page. This time-saving, idea-generating tome can ensure that from protagonist to checkout girl, your characters are fully developed and captivating. Covering a variety of genres, time periods and styles, 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, adds nuance and depth to the typical character stereotypes many writers rely on.

This book contains the following archetypes:
Superheroes, sidekicks and secret agents
Monsters, demons and strange creatures
Optimists, pessimists and screw ups
Zombies, werewolves and vampires
Rebels, ninjas, actors, villains, pets, babies and many more!
˃˃˃ You Should Buy This Book Because…

  1. Author Bryan Cohen is an Amazon #1 best-selling author for the Writing Skills category.
  2. Cohen’s writing prompts books have over 50 five-star reviews.
  3. This book contains 1,000 new prompts to help you make characters that stand the test of time.

˃˃˃ Create Immortal Characters With 1,000 Helpful Examples
If you’re looking to learn some writing basics, this is one of the nonfiction writing books you need for your shelf. Each of the 1,000 story prompts ends with a question or command to push you past your writer’s block and into a creative flow state for your future journaling and writing sessions.


Making Ethical Decisions
By: Michael S Josephson

Rewritten and redesigned for 2002, this comprehensive primer examines the hows — and whys — of making choices that are ethical. With realistic examples and a step-by-step decision-making model, this easy-to-read booklet is ideal for the individual reader — or as a training resource for any organization that wishes to help its employees find the way through difficult issues to successful choices.


Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
By: James Clear

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:
– make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
– overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
– design your environment to make success easier;
– get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.


Character Still Counts: It Is Time to Restore Our Lasting Values
By: James Merritt

You Can Develop Attributes for Authentic Living

How often are we more concerned with our outward image than with our inner qualities? Your reputation is what others think is true about you, but your character is who you are on the inside. And in the end, it’s your character that counts.

If you long to invest your life in what matters most—the content of your character—join bestselling author James Merritt as he looks at 12 traits that are an essential part of godly living. As you discover from role models in the Bible, good character is built brick by brick, thought by thought, action by action, and habit by habit on a daily basis. In this book you’ll find the keys to growing in…

integrity
humility
respect
forgiveness
perseverance
self-control
honesty
loyalty
authenticity
courage
generosity
faithfulness

Learn how to build up God’s kind of character qualities and live a life of authenticity. Let the past examples in Scripture inspire you today as you live out this truth: Character still counts, and it always will.


The Elements of Godly Character
By: Dr. Dennis Corle


Character by God’s Design: Volume 1: 13 Lessons on Diligence, Faithfulness and Gratitude (Volume 1)
By: Group Publishing

This lesson book and companion DVD contains 13 Sunday school lessons for kids of all ages in one room. Recommended for ages 4-12.

Equip kids with the character qualities they need to each become the person God created them to be.

Character by God’s Design: Volume 1 is full of exciting, hands-on Bible lessons that explore the three character qualities of diligence, faithfulness, and gratitude. Kids will explore each character quality in memorable lessons that are rooted in Scripture and reinforce God’s foundational plan for a fruitful Christian life.

Character by God’s Design: Volume 1 introduces kids of all ages to:
• Diligence—Focusing on the work God has given me
• Faithfulness—Staying true to God and his purpose for me
• Gratitude—Expressing thanks no matter how I feel


Building Godly Character
By: Ray Bentley

The word character comes from a root word, which means, “to tear, cut into, engrave.” When God calls us to follow Him, He also begins the process of building our character. Experiences and lessons, which are engraved into our souls will build our personalities, and influence our faith, our convictions, our desires, our action—our character.

In Building Godly Character Ray Bentley takes us through a study of the life of David as an example of how God works in our lives to build His character in us.

Ray Bentley is the senior pastor of Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, California. Maranatha serves 7,000 people weekly. He also hosts the daily Maranatha Radio program heard across the United States and around the world.


Embracing Godly Character: The Christian Community’s Response to a Godless Culture
By: Kenneth and J. Kremer

Historians are calling the times in which we live the post-Christian era and a secular age. Embracing Godly Character initiates a Scripture-based and unapologetic conversation about raising godly children in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christian convictions.

While this book centers on the Christian community’s reaction to a culture that is becoming increasingly unsympathetic to believers, it is – more than anything – a book about reaffirming faith in God’s promises. Its main objective is to prime the pump for a long-overdue conversation about raising a godly family in a culture that is, at its core, secular.

Although written primarily for parents, this book is also for anyone involved in the spiritual training of the next generation of God’s people-pastors, Christian educators, and church leaders. In-depth appendixes are included for these particular spiritual leaders.


Discovering the Treasures of a Godly Woman: Proverbs 31
By: Elizabeth George

For many women, the Proverbs 31 woman is too perfect. But in reality, she is an ordinary woman who made herself available to an extraordinary God—and became a tremendous blessing to everyone around her. Discovering the Treasures of a Godly Woman reveals how women can let God work through them by…

discerning the true priorities in life
cultivating character qualities valued by family and friends
pursuing excellence in all they do
It is possible for a woman to make the treasures of the Proverbs 31 woman real in her life—and become the woman God designed her to be!


Godly Characters: Insights for Spiritual Passion from the Lives of 8 Women in the Bible
By: Lisa Smith

Igniting spiritual passion doesn’t have to be a mysterious process. By conforming our character toGod’s design, we can awaken in our hearts a sincere love for God that will drive us to deeper intimacy with him and greater joy in our daily lives. GodlyCharacter(s) explains in practical detail how we can strengthen eight character traits that produce spiritual passion: four inward-focused traits (devotion, courage, faith, and vision) and four outward-looking traits (initiative, nonconformity, tenacity, and generosity).Eight lesser-known women of the Bible–a marginalized widow, a suffering mother, a dissatisfied princess, a wartime advisor, an emerging prophetess, among others–help us identify the primary obstacle for each trait, the concrete choices we must make to grow, and the results we can expect as we mature. Discussion questions, application ideas, and steps for deeper growth are included.


Going Deeper in the Fruit of the Spirit: Cultivating Godly Character
By: Douglas L Mead

This book is incredibly organized and very easy to follow along. Readers will have no questions regarding what the author shares with them, but they will be intrigued and most likely ask themselves questions on how to better themselves as followers of God. I like how the author focuses on the nine godly qualities and really expands upon each one. These qualities are truly the essence of God. Mr. Mead’s no nonsense and truthful statements challenge the reader’s mind and stimulate the soul to ultimately be the fruit God so longs for His children to be.

Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit
Outside of becoming born-again Christians, growing in godliness is our next greatest challenge. This involves seeking to be the persons God wants all of us to become in our attitudes, behaviors, values and character. The Apostle Paul highlights qualities representing part of God’s divine nature in Galatians 5:22-23. This book can be a great resource to steer us in understanding and applying these characteristics.

The author brings out some new and important perspectives as he guides us to think deeper on this topic. Practical principles of interpretation and logic lead us through this process. Going public with our faith is a powerful way to draw attention to our Christian witness. This puts us in the spotlight. Exhibiting these qualities will reflect the scope of the godly qualities present in each of us. This book is written by a seasoned Christian professional counselor who has a unique perspective to this topic.


The Practice of Godliness
By: Jerry Bridges

Godliness is more than a character trait. This foundational spiritual quality makes the entire Christian life dynamic, effective, and pleasing to God. But how can you develop a godly character? In this sequel to the popular book The Pursuit of Holiness, renowned author Jerry Bridges helps readers establish the foundation upon which godly character is built.

The Practice of Godliness will open your eyes to see how character formation affects the way you relate to God, to yourself, and to others. Great for Christian growth, and practical at any life stage, this book will encourage you to embrace:

Devotion to God
Contentment
Joy
Self-Control
Humility
Holiness
And more

Now with an added study guide for personal use or group discussion so you can dive deeper into this staple of Jerry Bridges’s classic collection. Your character formation will never be the same!

“The writings of Jerry Bridges are a gift to the church. He addresses a relevant topic with the wisdom of a scholar and the heart of a servant.” ―Max Lucado, pastor and bestselling author.


Fruit of the Spirit:: The Importance of Godly Character
By: Chris A. Legebow

Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, and self-control; against such there is no law. The Holy Spirit is God. Once you receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour and LORD, the Holy Spirit lives within you. As you yield your life to God and seek Him in prayer and praise and worship and Bible study, The Holy Spirit teaches you, leads you and guides you. The Holy Spirit transforms you from glory to glory. It is the presence of God residing in you that changes you: godly fruit develops as you are in the presence of God. It is God’s character being formed on the inside of you. Only the Holy Spirit can do it. It’s God’s desire that we would be “trees of righteousness” the planting of the LORD. It is God’s desire that we would bear much fruit for God’s glory.


Modeling Godly Character

To earn the right to be heard, we must consistently model godly character that reflects the life of Jesus Christ.
1 Sm #20, 1 Samuel 11, 1Sm 11, 1 Samuel 12, 1Sm 12

[ Dr. Gene Getz ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcLFsAZh2gg


Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality
By: Henry Cloud

Integrity—more than simple honesty, it’s the key to success. A person with integrity has the ability to pull everything together, to make it all happen no matter how challenging the circumstances. Drawing on experiences from his work, Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, leadership coach, corporate consultant and nationally syndicated radio host, shows how our character can keep us from achieving all we want to (or could) be.

In Integrity, Dr. Cloud explores the six qualities of character that define integrity, and how people with integrity:

Are able to connect with others and build trust
Are oriented toward reality
Finish well
Embrace the negative
Are oriented toward increase
Have an understanding of the transcendent

Integrity is not something that you either have or don’t, but instead is an exciting growth path that all of us can engage in and enjoy.


Principles of Ethics: An Introduction
By: Paul W. Taylor


An Introduction to Christian Ethics: Goals, Duties, and Virtues
By: Robin W. Lovin

A few years ago, the first distinction that ethicists drew was the line between Christian ethics and philosophical ethics. However, in our global context, Christian ethicists must now, in addition, compare and contrast various ethics. Christian ethics has become increasingly multivocal not only because of a plurality of faiths but also because of a plurality of Christianities.

Beginning with five key ideas about God’s relationship to humanity and history, Dr. Lovin shows how these work together to shape the Christian stance. In the first three chapters, he then shows how those ideas took shape in relation to other ways of thinking about ethics in the world of early Christianity and identifies four major variations: Synergy, Integrity, Realism, and Liberation. The six remaining chapters cover historical and contemporary developments in the three ways of thinking about moral choices: teleology, deontology, and areteology. Test cases are also included.

The purpose of the book is to indicate what is possible in Christian ethics, rather than to prescribe one way that it ought to be done. The aim is not to get readers to choose one among the Christian possibilities and use it exclusively, but use this introduction as a resource to arrive at their own ways of thinking about moral problems in order to act with integrity.


Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics
By: John Murray

This classic study by theologian John Murray clearly shows the organic unity and continuity of the biblical ethic. Murray addresses ethical questions relating to such topics as marriage, labor, capital punishment, truthfulness, Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, law and grace, and the fear of God. Though the Ten Commandments furnish the core of the biblical ethic, Murray points the reader again and again to all of Scripture as the basic authority in matters of Christian conduct.


Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier
By: Robert Emmons

A scientifically groundbreaking, eloquent look at how we benefit—psychologically, physically, and interpersonally—when we practice gratitude.

Did you know that there is a crucial component of happiness that is often overlooked?

Robert Emmons—editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology—examines what it means to think and feel gratefully in Thanks! and invites readers to learn how to put this powerful emotion into practice.

Scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy. But there’s more than science to embrace here: Emmons also bolsters the case for gratitude by weaving in writings of philosophers, novelists, and theologians that illustrate all the benefits grateful living brings.

In Thanks!, Emmons shows how “wanting what we have” can measurably change people’s lives for the better.


Kingdom Values: Character Over Chaos
By: Tony Evans

Enjoy a great reading experience when you buy the Kindle edition of this book. Learn more about Great on Kindle, available in select categories.
View Kindle Edition
Kingdom Values over Virtue Signaling Every Day

Cultural instability. Family breakdown. Social media ranting. Unchecked narcissism. The only way to fight against this toxic atmosphere of our world today is through character. By living out kingdom values rather than merely virtue signaling (trying to appear like we care about all the right things), we can rise up and model what the world needs to see.

But kingdom values aren’t just something we embrace to improve the world around us. They come with a benefit–a bonus. They come with blessings. By aligning your thoughts, words, and actions with God’s values, you will receive the peace, comfort, and purpose you’ve been looking for all along.

Dr. Evans provides insights based on biblical virtues found in the Beatitudes as well as throughout the rest of Christ’s teachings. When you live life God’s way, demonstrating His values to those around you, you will usher in authentic change not only in others but in the culture as well. Kingdom values are contagious. Pass them on.


The Indwelling and Outflowing of the Holy Spirit
By: Charles Spurgeon

In this short booklet, Charles Spurgeon explains and encourages believers to grasp the blessedness and power of the operations of the Holy Spirit, based on the text, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” John 7:38-39.


The Indwelling Spirit: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Believer
By: Andrew Murray

In 31 clear, concise chapters, Andrew Murray shares his insights on all aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Christian’s life. This helpful study includes

  • Being filled with the Spirit
  • Walking in the Spirit
  • The Spirit’s ministry in the church
    and much more.

Readers today will find this classic devotional study as timely today as when it was originally published in the 1880s as The Spirit of Christ.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16


Experiencing the Holy Spirit
By: Andrew Murray

From the Scriptures, Andrew Murray discusses the importance and power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life.

While exploring the biblical promises relating to the Spirit, Murray explains how you can…
Discover God’s will for your life

Learn the secret of spiritual growth
Be led by the Holy Spirit
Live in victory over sin
Claim your inheritance in Christ
Strengthen your spiritual walk
Receive and attract God’s favor and blessings

Discover the life-changing benefits of being filled with the Holy Spirit. As God’s divine power flows into your heart and permanently transforms your life, you will excel to new heights in your Christian maturity and experience!


Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life
By: Michael Horton

For the Spirit, being somewhat forgotten is an occupational hazard. The Holy Spirit is so actively involved in our lives that we can take his presence for granted. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt. Just as we take breathing for granted, we can take the Holy Spirit for granted simply because we constantly depend on him. Like the cane that soon feels like an extension of the blind man’s own body, we too easily begin to think of the Holy Spirit as an extension of ourselves.

Yet the Spirit is at the center of the action in the divine drama from Genesis 1:2 all the way to Revelation 22:17. The Spirit’s work is as essential as the Father’s and the Son’s, yet the Spirit’s work is always directed to the person and work of Christ. In fact, the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s mission is measured by the extent to which we are focused on Christ. The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who brings the work of the Father, in the Son, to completion. In everything that the Triune God performs, this perfecting work is characteristic of the Spirit.

In Rediscovering the Holy Spirit, author, pastor, and theologian Mike Horton introduces readers to the neglected person of the Holy Spirit, showing that the work of God’s Spirit is far more ordinary and common than we realize. Horton argues that we need to take a step back every now and again to focus on the Spirit himself—his person and work—in order to recognize him as someone other than Jesus or ourselves, much less something in creation. Through this contemplation we can gain a fresh dependence on the Holy Spirit in every area of our lives.


How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
By: A. W. Tozer

2010 Reprint of 1960 First Edition.This work consists of a series of lectures Tozer presented before his Church Congregation during a period of successive Sundays. Herein Tozer tackles the questions of “Who is the Holy Spirit” and “What is the Holy Spirit”. Tozer then goes on to provide a detailed and meticulous account of precisely how one goes about being filled by the holy spirit.


The Holy Spirit
By: Sinclair B. Ferguson

The Holy Spirit, once forgotten, has been “rediscovered” in the twentieth century–or has he? Sinclair Ferguson believes we should rephrase this common assertion: “While his work has been recognized, the Spirit himself remains to many Christians an anonymous, faceless aspect of the divine being.” In order to redress this balance, Ferguson seeks to recover the who of the Spirit fully as much as the what and how. Ferguson’s study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption. Throughout he shows himself fully at home in the church’s historical theology of the Spirit and conversant with the wide variety of contemporary Christians who have explored the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Foundational issues are surveyed and clarified. Hard questions are explored and answered. Clarity and insight radiate from every page. Here is the mature reflection of a Reformed theologian who will summon respect and charity from those who disagree.


The Personality of the Holy Spirit
By: Charles Spurgeon

What is the Personality of the Holy Spirit? If you’re confused by this subject, you’ll want to read Charles Spurgeon’s great message that will clarify this topic and help you to better understand the role of the Spirit in your life.


Who Is the Holy Spirit?” (Crucial Questions)
By: R.C. Sproul

The person and work of the Holy Spirit spark much interest these days―but also much confusion. Many do not fully understand who the Spirit is or how He works in our lives. Some people even claim that the Spirit speaks to them apart from the Bible.

In this booklet, Dr. R.C. Sproul cuts through the confusion by going to Scripture. After explaining who the Holy Spirit is, Dr. Sproul briefly sketches His work in this world, from giving new life to unbelievers to sanctifying and empowering God’s people.

The Crucial Questions booklet series by Dr. R.C. Sproul offers succinct answers to important questions often asked by Christians and thoughtful inquirers.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

SPECIAL ‘GENERAL’ RESOURCE

“ApologetiX Songbook”
(An interactive PDF)

It features the lyrics to every song on every CD and every “download” from 1993-2020

Special features:

  • indexed by title, original song, original artist, subject, and Bible verse
  • each song’s page has icons showing what albums it appears on
  • each song’s page has a commentary from lyricist J. Jackson
  • each album’s page includes liner notes and track listing
  • print any pages you like or use for slides in church
  • photos from ApologetiX’s debut concert in 1992
  • discography of out-of-print cassettes
  • downloadable in PDF format

New features in this edition:

  • all song commentaries from J. Jackson updated and expanded
  • also indexed by year when original song spoofed was a hit
  • J.’s original handwritten rough lyrics to 40 ApX classics
  • scads of photos from ApX 25th-anniversary concerts
  • list of 40 ApX parodies most likely to be redone
  • over 200 new parodies and journal entries
  • list of the first ApX concerts in each state
  • six new full-length feature articles
  • DVD discography and synopses
  • never-before-seen rare photos
  • lyrics for over 700 parodies
  • over 1000 pages!

Interactive features:

  • click on any page number in indexes or TOC to go to that page
  • click on any album icon to go to its liner notes and track listings
  • click on any song title on an album page to go to that song

Note: This e-book is a download-only and doesn’t include sheet music.

The songbook is available for a donation of $50 or more. After we receive your donation, we’ll send you a follow-up email with the link.

Get the Songbook for a donation:
http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#songbook

Songbook Demo Video: https://rumble.com/vfazhl-apologetix-songbook-2020-demo.html


“THE SEARCH FOR MEANING” WEBSITE

This site presents discussions on the 12 most commonly asked questions about the Christian faith.

The 12 discussions are accessed by the “tabs” at the bottom of the page. The tabs are numbered 1-12. Roll your mouse over them and you will see the question displayed at the right. Click on the number to select that question.

Within each question (i.e. tabs 1-12), there are subtopics (or dialogues) to select that appear as smaller tabs underneath the numbered tabs. Roll your mouse over them and the title of these topics is also displayed to the right. Click on the open rectangle to select that dialogue.

For each question (1-12), a link to related resources and an optional flowchart is provided. To access this material, click on the respective words, “Related Resources” or “Options Flowchart.”

To play a more detailed discussion of the subject, between two people, select the desired dialogue and click on “Play Audio Dialogue.”

In the upper right-hand corner of the page, there is an icon that looks like binoculars looking at a question mark. Click on this icon to return to the homepage.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Related Resources” page, there is an icon that looks like some books. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the resources for all of the questions. There also are additional “appendices” for most of the questions.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Flowchart” page, there is an icon that looks like an Org chart. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the flowcharts.

http://4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q1_d1_1of10.html

[ Content by: Bill Kraftson and Lamar Smith; Website by Mark Besh ]


“FRUITS OF THE BEATITUDES” WEBSITE
(The ATTITUDES of Jesus that produce the CHARACTER of Jesus)

CLICK ON THE LINK to view:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/

FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/FruitsOfTheBeatitudes/

[ Mark Besh ]


[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about what the Bible says about ‘believing’, visit the following link:
https://4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q10_d4_1of10.html ].


<<< ARTICLES >>>


“Coach Wooden character vs reputation”

Our lives are so busy, we barely have 5 minutes for ourselves, let alone time to stay up to date on the latest inspiring people and ideas out there! Minute Monday is a bite-sized glimpse into the influencers who inspired the 21-Day Small Act Big Impact Challenge.

[ Small Act Impact ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1EAtqL_FnE


“Wednesday Wisdom – John Wooden”

Today’s “Wednesday Wisdom” comes from basketball coach, John Wooden: “Reputation is what you are perceived to be, character is what you really are.” Skip talks about how, while many of us think that our character is something fixed and permanent, it really isn’t! You can work your reputation, and you can also take control of your character. They’re both important! Find out how, and start today.

[ Skip Prichard ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paO1snWPPmY


“Coach John Wooden: Pursuing Victory With Honor and the Teacher-Coach”

Pursuing Victory With Honor gives coaches and athletic administrators the tools they need to foster good character and positive sportsmanship in their young athletes. PVWH recognizes the unique learning opportunity that athletics has in shaping the character of today’s student-athletes while still encouraging the competitive pursuit of victory.

[ Character Counts ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvX0fkEp0cs


“John Wooden – College Basketball’s Greatest Characters”

A clip about UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and his status as one of college basketball’s greatest characters.

[ 805 Bruin ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X_9YtBW0-8


“Yale Basketball’s Definition of Character”

Character as defined by the Yale Basketball Program: Character is what you do when no one else is watching

[ James Jones ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odeg5xx27W8


“When No One Is Watching – That Is When It Really Counts!”

When No One Is Watching – That Is When It Really Counts!
This is why SOME succeed and MOST fail.

[ Team Fearless ]

MOTIVATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zmFaeGaMq8


“WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING”

[ Ben Lionel Scott ]

MOTIVATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIr9CE6yAHg


“Circumstances don’t make, but REVEAL you!”

“Circumstances do not make the man, but reveal him.”
James Allen.

Truer words have never been spoken. Throughout the ages seemingly great men and great women have been exposed as less than noble, less than genuine and even less than human when faced with challenging circumstances. The reverse is also true – Men and woman who seemed ordinary and average when thrust into the most difficult situations have risen to extraordinary heights of character, leadership and excellence.

Watching this great “revealing” is the stuff history and legends are made of. Observing a person in a challenging situation or circumstance will manifest much about who they are deep, deep inside and what they will likely do in the future. What you are at your core is your center of strength and that ability to do what is right, under pressure or even when no one is looking, is the core of your .

Anything that lacks integrity is unstable, as any engineer will tell you. A bridge or skyscraper that has structural integrity simply does what it was built to do. It isn’t necessarily perfect. It could have flaws. But, under stress, pressure and repeated use, it does what it was built to do. Even in extreme circumstances it will do what it was designed to do. If, on the other hand, a structure does not have structural integrity, it will at some point fail, as was the case with the world’s first jet airliner, the British-made de Havilland Comet.

When the Comet was introduced in 1949, the future seemed bright for jet travel and the Comet was the undisputed, front-and-center leader – until three Comets unexpectedly disintegrated in flight, killing all aboard. The planes were grounded as puzzled engineers worked feverishly to understand why they had operated flawlessly at first, only to break apart later in midair. The engineers set up a fuselage in a large pool and pumped water in and out, simulating the effects of repeated cabin pressurization. At first, the experiment revealed nothing, nothing at all. But over time the pressurized circumstances yielded a startling discovery. The repeated stress caused small, microscopic cracks to form around the rectangular windows, cracks that would eventually widened into gaping holes. The planes could not withstand repeated pressure. They lacked structural integrity and the pressurized circumstances revealed what the Comet was at it’s core – a bright shiny pretender that was not secure or safe.

You and I live in a world filled with pressure and pressure filled circumstances – pressure to accomplish, pressure to get ahead, pressure to be smarter than we are, pressure to conform, pressure to be popular, pressure to appear successful, pressure to earn large incomes. None of us are perfect. We all have flaws for sure. How, then, under repeated pressure, can we avoid allowing small cracks in our integrity to form? How can we be sure that our character is structurally sound? How can we stay true to our core regardless of setting or circumstance?

Ultimately this is an exercise of not only looking in the mirror, but looking deep into our hearts and souls and asking uncomfortable questions of ourselves. When you find yourself in challenging circumstances what are you learning about yourself? Do you like what is being revealed? If not, why not? And while we cannot control those around us during difficult time, and it can be devastatingly disappointing to watch false friends or self-serving leaders crumble and reveal their true stripes and identity at such times, ultimately it comes down to ensuring that your own structural integrity reveals your greatness to the world.

[ Tara Michelle West ]


“Character Arc Worksheet”

If you’re an Outliner, you probably want to get to know your character before you get far into the writing. If you’re a Pantser like me, you’ll be antsy to just get into the writing and get to know your characters as they reveal themselves. There can still be value in this worksheet, but feel free to use what works and skip what doesn’t.

Fill in the following with as much detail as you feel you need. It can offer valuable direction for your writing.

[ Jerry Jenkins ]

PDF: https://jerryjenkins.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Character-Arc-Worksheet-Jerry-Jenkins.pdf


“Character Development: How to Craft Lifelike Characters Readers Will Love”

While character development is arguably one of the most enjoyable parts of writing a novel, it can also be the most challenging part to get right.

After all, your job is to transform black words on a white page into three-dimensional characters readers remember for years to come.

Don’t let the magnitude of this task overwhelm you, though. Just a few of the many points we cover are how to:

1 – Understand their full background

2 – Know strengths and weaknesses

3 – Create weird habits

4 – Realize perfect characters don’t exist

5 – Give them realistic motives

A reader’s investment in your story is largely influenced by the realism of your characters. Therefore, interesting, three-dimensional protagonists and villains are a must.

In this video, you learn how to develop lifelike characters that fit your story and bring life to its pages!

[ Bella Rose Pope ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpIQwZZ6kus


“The Essentials Series”

The ESSENTIALS series is the culmination of nearly 25 years of applied research and development in various K-16 education settings, and diverse workplace and sport environments. The Excellence with Integrity Institute’s R&D took its origins from the Smart & Good High Schools national study (2005), co-authored by Tom Lickona and Matt Davidson, and has since been dedicated to translating and evolving that original vision into research-based instructional deliverables.

One of the early manifestations of instructional materials, called Power2Achieve®
Foundations, was developed through a collaborative partnership of the Institute’s design team, which included Cathy Fisher, Margaret Seidel, and Kyle Baker.

P2A Foundations incorporated input and feedback from many current and former educators, administrators, policy experts, researchers, parents, coaches, and students. This first series of curricular materials was supported, in part, by generous grants from the John Templeton Foundation and Sanford N. McDonnell
Foundation.

In the subsequent years, we expanded our theoretical framework, designed and tested new assessment approaches, and received feedback from many more individuals and organizations who implemented our work. The ESSENTIALS series a new distillation of our ever-growing knowledge and experience. We could not have produced this current iteration without the previous contributors. And we certainly could not have produced it without our current colleagues and partners.

We are particularly grateful to our talented partners at The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University. To everyone at The Ray Center who has labored alongside us these many years we offer our thanks and gratitude to each of you for your unique contributions. Special thanks to Amy Smit for her input to help strengthen our communications and branding. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to Scott Raecker who has contributed to our theory, practice, and assessment since the very first versions of our deliverables. Finally, we are especially grateful to Jeff Kluever, who not only wrote the alignment and extension sections but whose extraordinary talents and abilities have helped shape the current—and we believe our best—version as a whole.

A famous quote says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Thank you

[ Matt Davidson and Vlad Khmelkov ]

PDF: https://ewii.org/programs/ESSENTIALS_Introduction.pdf

WEBSITE: https://ewii.org/the-essentials/


“The Japanese Say You Have Three Faces”

[ Best Book Bits ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsm2MMthn-c


“Moral Character”

At the heart of one major approach to ethics—an approach counting among its proponents Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas—is the conviction that ethics is fundamentally related to what kind of persons we are. Many of Plato’s dialogues, for example, focus on what kind of persons we ought to be and begin with examinations of particular virtues:

What is the nature of justice? (Republic)
What is the nature of piety? (Euthyphro)
What is the nature of temperance? (Charmides)
What is the nature of courage? (Laches)

On the assumption that what kind of person one is is constituted by one’s character, the link between moral character and virtue is clear. We can think of one’s moral character as primarily a function of whether she has or lacks various moral virtues and vices.

The virtues and vices that comprise one’s moral character are typically understood as dispositions to behave in certain ways in certain sorts of circumstances. For instance, an honest person is disposed to telling the truth when asked. These dispositions are typically understood as relatively stable and long-term. Further, they are also typically understood to be robust, that is, consistent across a wide-spectrum of conditions. We are unlikely, for example, to think that an individual who tells the truth to her friends but consistently lies to her parents and teachers possesses the virtue of honesty.

Moral character, like most issues in moral psychology, stands at the intersection of issues in both normative ethics and empirical psychology. This suggests that there are conceivably two general approaches one could take when elucidating the nature of moral character. One could approach moral character primarily by focusing on standards set by normative ethics; whether people can or do live up to these standards is irrelevant. Alternatively, one could approach moral character under the guideline that normative ethics ought to be constrained by psychology. On this second approach, it’s not that the normative/descriptive distinction disappears; instead, it is just that a theory of moral character ought to be appropriately constrained by what social psychology tells us moral agents are in fact like. Moreover, precisely because virtue approaches make character and its components central to ethical theorizing, it seems appropriate that such approaches take the psychological data on character and its components seriously. This desire for a psychologically sensitive ethics partly explains the recent resurgence of virtue ethics, but it also leads to numerous challenges to the idea that agents possess robust moral characters.

Table of Contents

  1. Moral Character, Ethics and Virtue Theory
    a. Character and Three Major Approaches to Ethics
    b. Moral vs. Non-moral Character
    c. Moral Responsibility
  2. A Traditional View of Moral Character
    a. Dispositions in General
    b. Virtues and Vices as Dispositions
    i. Relatively Stable, Fixed and Reliable
    ii. Dispositions of Action and Affect
    iii. Rationally Informed
    c. Three Central Features
    i. Robustness Claim
    ii. Stability Claim
    iii. Integrity Claim
  3. Challenges to Moral Character
    a. Situationism
    b. Moral Luck
    c. Impossibility of Being Responsible for One’s Character
    d. Responses
  4. Conclusion
  5. References and Further Reading
    a. Character and Virtue
    b. Dispositions
    c. Challenges to the Traditional View

[ more… ]

[ Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy ]

ARTICLE: https://iep.utm.edu/moral-ch/


“Crisis Reveals Character”

It was 46 degrees. I had athletic pants with running tights on underneath, a thermal long sleeve top with another long sleeve shirt and a hoodie over the that, two pairs of socks, and about three blankets over that. My wife was similarly dressed. We were inside the warmest part of our house.

Welcome to the power outage winter snowstorm apocalypse that met much of Texas.

We were the fortunate ones, the extremely fortunate ones. Our power and water were out for nearly three days, but as soon as the roads cleared, we could escape to relatives who somehow retained electricity for most of the harsh weather. Many weren’t as lucky.

Without Wi-Fi or data for the first 18 hours of the storm, it was disheartening to finally reconnect with the world and see the blame game already taking place. Watching those who are in positions of power divert responsibility while you’re sitting in a freezing home, just trying to find out when you might be able to warm-up again, is quite disheartening.

When our instinct is to divert, to deflect, to search for someone or something to blame, then we’ve abdicated leadership. We’ve put the protection of ourself—our ego and our status—ahead of searching for the truth and finding a solution to the problem.

All of us have witnessed a crisis of leadership over the past year. Whether it’s on the national, state, local, or workplace level, we all have stories of poor leadership. It doesn’t matter what side of the political aisle or what your beliefs are, I’m sure every reader could spout off about how when a crisis hit, leadership was lacking.

It’s long been said that crisis reveals character. That if you want to see what type of leader someone is, watch how they respond to adversity. Do they try to divert responsibility and blame, or do they take ownership and find solutions?

In this recent instance, the level of abdication across the board has been abysmal. It might sound like I’m complaining, and I surely am, but I am also heartened by those who stepped up.

As Mr. Rogers said, “Always look for the helpers.”

For example: The furniture salesman who opened up his store for those who were cold and miserable so they could get a good night sleep. Or the professional athlete who paid for hundreds of meals. Or our friend Ryan, who opened up his shop and camper to people who were suffering.

Zooming out even more and considering the past year as a whole, how about the teachers who selflessly have taught online, in-person, and often both at the same time, to help children navigate the pandemic. The scores of people who offered up their homes, water, and food to help those in need. The doctors and nurses who put their own health at risk in the name of helping others. There are hundreds and thousands of instances of leading, often from those that aren’t in positions of power. They see a need, and they fill it. It’s a shame so many of our formal leaders, including elected officials, have such personal gaps when it comes to this quality.

So as we make our way into hopefully a brighter 2021, my hat goes off to all of those who figured out a way to fill a need in these past months. Whether something big or small, kudos to those who stepped up. As we are unfortunately finding, that simple quality—to stand up, even if it means acknowledging fault or taking responsibility—is far too rare.

Here’s to the people who are finding solutions and putting their skin the game. Keep going.

[ Steve Magness ]


“The psychology of your future self”

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case.

[ Dan Gilbert ]

TED TALK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNbaR54Gpj4


“Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality”

What makes you, you? Psychologists like to talk about our traits, or defined characteristics that make us who we are. But Brian Little is more interested in moments when we transcend those traits — sometimes because our culture demands it of us, and sometimes because we demand it of ourselves. Join Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

[ Brian Little ]

TED TALK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYvXk_bqlBk


“Six Ethical Pillars for a Solid Character Foundation”

This video helps you build a solid character foundation for ethical success in the workplace by sharing six key pillars to help keep your ethical house standing strong.

[ Global Ethics Solutions ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdAscJNucNY


“An Uncommon Workout – Philippians 2:12-13”

How do we build our spiritual muscles? Instead of making our faith something we ‘recharge’ by just going to church on Sunday, what if we made it a part of every aspect of our life?

This sermon is “An Uncommon Workout” by Mark Yule from Philippians 2:12-13. Check out the full series, Uncommon Joy: the Book of Philippians

[ Mark Yule ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUolVtFJfyw&t=769s


“Christian Character”

Article Index

[ Got Questions ]

ARTICLES: https://www.gotquestions.org/content_life_character.html


“Sinful Character Traits”

Article Index

[ Got Questions ]

ARTICLES: https://www.gotquestions.org/content_sin_traits.html


“Character and Conviction”

[ John MacArthur ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAcwfelTTzg


“Godly Character”

[ John MacArthur ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUV5QqUWk_8


“10 Steps to Grow in Godly Character”

Step 1: Choose a godly character trait.
There are several ways by which we can identify the character trait we should work on.

First, observe disturbing and ongoing patterns in your own life. Are you continually angry at your children? Are you easily hurt or offended? Do you habitually procrastinate? Are you often pitying yourself? If you already are self-aware of a glaring problem, then begin there.

Second, listen to what your spouse or friend says:

By specifically asking them.
By recalling what they routinely say about your responses.

Third, listen in prayer to see what the Holy Spirit brings to your mind. The blessing about listening in prayer is that the Holy Spirit is always willing to help on this. Further, He won’t list everything at once – He is merciful and gracious; not content to leave us in our brokenness, yet concerned not to overwhelm us. Start with what He reveals to you – the order in which He takes you on a journey to grow godly character may be important to the process. As you listen in prayer, you may also wish to review New Testament passages which list a combined total of 45 character traits. Most of these traits are found in:

1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Galatians 5:22-23
Ephesians 4:31-5:4
Colossians 3:8-14
2 Peter 1:5-7
1 Timothy 2:2-12
James 3:2-12

Step 2: Pray daily for that trait.
See how David prayed in this regard… Psalm 119:133 (NIV) “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.” God really wants to answer such prayers! See how Paul prayed for the Philippian believers to grow godly character (righteousness)… Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” We can and should pray the same! Some say, “Don’t ever pray for patience, because you will be sure to invite tests.” Well, of course, you will – you can’t grow without repeatedly doing it over and over again. If you wish to learn to drive a car or fly a plane, you can’t do that without repeating the skills over and over until they become natural to you – the same is true of growing godly character! God will surely answer this prayer by coming to assist you in the process.

Step 3: Continue renewing your mind by meditating on eternal things.
Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV) “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

This is precisely what Paul did when he wrote to the Church in Thessalonica. He got them thinking about the things above, and this was to be a source of comfort for them. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NIV) “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” He also encouraged the church at Corinth, by turning their minds to things above (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

Step 4: Identify a that time you failed, and listen for practical steps.
Write out the story (doesn’t need to be long) when you failed; then stop to think about this incident.

Ask yourself: “How does it make me feel when I think about this?” Write it down.

Ask Jesus and listen: “What do you (Jesus) want me to know about this memory?” Write it down.

Ask Jesus and listen: “Where are you (Jesus) in this memory?” Write it down.

He may show you a simple practical step or two, to help you avoid repeated failure and to help you overcome in the future.

· Pray for it
· Select and memorize a few verses about this trait
· Admit my failure in this to spouse or friend
· Ask them to begin praying for you in this

NOTE: If the Lord reveals to you deeper identity-based or lie-based reasons (e.g. “I am such a failure/loser” or “No one loves me”) as a cause for these failures, then you’ll need more inner healing.

Step 5: Confess any bitterness or offense.
You may not need this step for some of the character traits you wish to grow in, such as self-control. However, if you are working on a trait such as not being rude, or easily angered or not keeping a record of wrongs, or learning to trust, you may need to forgive someone along the way. If that is the case, it probably means that we have been rude, mean and ungracious to others. In that case, the Spirit may require that you go to that person and confess your offense. Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Or perhaps the Lord wants you to grow in forgiveness. In that case you will probably have incidents in your life for which you haven’t forgiven the person. Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Example: Three things you could do if you’re struggling to forgive someone (Luke 6:27-28):

Pray for them – pray a blessing on the couple every day, of what you would pray for yourself
Do good to them – go out of your way to shake their hands or connect with them
Bless them – say something nice to them when you see them
Step 6: Receive inner healing, deliverance and freedom from destructive family patterns.
Sometimes the character trait cannot be changed because you need inner healing.

Plan to attend the April 1-4, 2020 Soul Care Equipping Conference.

For others a demonic stronghold may be preventing spiritual growth in a particular area. It is also a possibility that the negative character trait we are trying to replace is a behavioural bondage passed on through our family tree.

Step 7: Tell someone and ask for their prayers.
That’s not easy to do, but the Scriptures tell us that it comes with a promise. James 5:16 (NIV) “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. “ Telling another human being is powerful, and note that we include a request for prayer as well. You’ll never be as intentional about growing a character trait in secret as you will be if you tell someone and ask for their prayer support.

Step 8: Be filled with the Spirit.
We cannot grow godly character if the Spirit of Christ isn’t powerfully working in us. 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” And that’s why we need the filling of the Spirit! Ephesians 5:18 (NIV) “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” The Greek present tense is saying, “Be being filled.” In other words, continually be filled by the Spirit. But how do we do that? Of course, a special event (like a retreat or conference) in which we experience the filling of the Spirit, is wonderful! We need it. It is good when we intentionally put time aside just to come into God’s presence and be refilled. But it isn’t the only way; nor is it the way we will do it most of our life time! So how do we get refilled on a daily basis?

Paul gives his answer in a series of participles that follow the verb, “be filled.” Ephesians 5:18-21 (ESV) “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Paul named four ways to be filled:

a. When we minister to others – addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

b. When we worship the Lord – singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord.

c. When we are grateful to the Lord – giving thanks to God always and in all circumstances.

d. When we submit to one another – submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Jesus gave us another when He said … John 15:5-7 (NIV) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” When He remains or abides in us, it is essentially the same as being refilled by His Spirit.

Step 9: Learn & memorize Scripture about your trait.
Part 1: Learn about your trait.

We need to proactively learn the truth about character. Romans 12:2 (NIV) “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” And when your mind is renewed, you will be motivated – or as Paul puts it – have the WILL (desire) to do God’s good purposes! Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV) “… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” We’ll have to search for and hunt for this truth!

Part 2: Meditate (memorize Scripture) about your trait.

Step 10: Keep in step with the Spirit (stop & choose correctly).
Galatians 5:25 (NIV) “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” When you pray to grow in a particular area of your character, the Holy Spirit is more than happy to assist you in this. He wants to help you! First He sets up tests so that you may begin to exercise the new patterns of character growth – that’s the only way you can establish a new character trait. God will not tempt you to sin, to fail and to fall (James 1:13) – the devil does that. But He will test you, in order to grow you! James 1:2-3 (NIV) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” The tests are designed to cause us to repeat the proper behavioural responses, until our responses become part of our habits. Though the test may blindside us, what happens next, is incredible. Have you ever noticed that when you make a resolution to change in some kind of behaviour, when the next test comes, time almost seems to freeze for a few moments?

A battle within you ensues, as you weigh your resolution, on the one hand, with how you feel like responding, on the other. At this point STOP – DON’T ACT. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Let’s just say that it takes 10 seconds before you choose correctly and act out properly. VICTORY! That one correct choice equals one RIGHTEOUS ACT. You feel wonderful! You did the right thing! However, it isn’t part of your character at this point. So, another test comes along: same time freeze; same internal battle; and once again you choose correctly – maybe this time it only took 9 seconds for you to choose properly. A third test comes along – this time it only took 8 seconds; then 7 seconds; then 6, 5, 4 or 3 seconds. Each deliberate act is becoming a little bit easier to choose. There is still a pause, a bit of a battle, and a conscious choice. But at this point, you already know that when the next test comes you will make the right choice. It’s becoming a HABIT! Life goes on, and you begin to forget that you have been intentionally making every effort to grow in a particular part of your character. Then one day someone, like your spouse, says to you: “I’ve noticed something different about you; you don’t (_) anymore!” Or the Holy Spirit taps you on the shoulder and reminds you that you were working on a particular character trait, and that you have been making the right choices, as a pattern in your life. The choices are no longer conscious, but unconscious! At this point you have moved from one righteous act to habit to DISPOSITION! It has now become part of your character! This is how you now act; this is what you now become known for! Praise God!

[ Church Renewal – Southland Church ]


“Five Things a Crisis Reveals about You”

You’ve heard the statement, “A crisis doesn’t build character; it reveals it.” The statement is largely true, but a crisis reveals so much more than just our character.

In the midst of a crisis, emotions and opinions abound. But in all that is said and shared and expressed, a picture begins to emerge that reveals aspects of your life perhaps not easily seen at any other time. Here are five:

Your Spiritual Fervor
In some ways, moments of crisis intensify our spiritual fervor. When the only option is to cry out to God for help, it’s what many Christians—and sometimes even non-Christians—do.

But seasons of crisis are different. Whereas we might turn to God in a moment of desperation, sometimes a season of unrelenting, low-grade frustration exposes our spiritual complacency and priorities. The good news is that they also give us the opportunity to renew our heart for God. So if you sense some spiritual coldness setting in, turn to God for renewal.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;—Psalm 63:1

When, over time, our building desire is to “get back to normal” rather than to grow in Christlikeness, it exposes a lack of spiritual fervor. After all, peace is not found in the absence of trouble but in the person of Christ. If you find yourself waiting for peace, assuming it will come after the crisis passes, you’re looking for peace in the wrong place.

When, over time, our building desire is to “get back to normal” rather than to grow in Christlikeness, it exposes a lack of spiritual fervor.CLICK TO TWEET
Your Doctrinal Convictions
Do your functional beliefs line up with your stated doctrinal position?

For the martyr Stephen, the answer was a resounding “yes.” In the face of extreme vitriol, false accusations, and murderous hatred, Stephen held to his convictions about the deity of Christ and Him as the only way of salvation. Furthermore, he clearly articulated these convictions to a raging mob, and he did it with a loving spirit.

And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.—Acts 7:59–60

Our society is quickly moving in a direction that could put Christians in the position of Stephen. And I’m concerned that fewer Christians will respond like Stephen than those who now believe they would.

Why? Because even without the pressure of physical stones raised, so many Christians are aligning themselves with current popular movements that abhor and deny biblical doctrines.

For instance, every Bible-believing Christian is necessarily against racism. Genesis 1:27 tells us that God made every person in His image, and Acts 17:25–26 affirms that we all have equal value in His sight. (I have both written and preached about this in recent months.) While I whole-heartedly support equality and justice (James 2:8–9), I am concerned about organizations professing similar views but with anti-God agendas. (I’ve written previously about the publicly-stated objectives of the Black Lives Matter Network to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” ”foster a queer‐affirming network,” and “do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege.”)

I assume that most Christians who align themselves with these popular movements do so with a heart of compassion for the marginalized or mistreated. And that is commendable and needful. But I have a deep underlying concern that there is either a great lack of discernment or of true doctrinal conviction for Christians to so easily affiliate themselves with some of these specific groups and ideologies. Our doctrine must inform our practice, not the other way around.

Do you believe that the gospel is the power of God that can save a person from sin (Romans 1:16) and make him a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)? Do you believe that such a transformation will eventually impact every aspect of a person’s life? If the answer to these questions is yes, I encourage you to invest great energy and time in sharing the gospel and discipling new Christians. Sometimes those who insist the gospel-centered model of ministry must focus on social justice can do the gospel itself a lack of justice by seemingly suggesting conversion is not the answer.

Those who insist the gospel-centered model of ministry must focus on social justice can do the gospel itself a lack of justice by seemingly suggesting conversion is not the answer.CLICK TO TWEET
Your Heart to Help
Anyone can say they are available to serve and want to help. But few people do it over a sustained period of time.

In today’s culture where virtue signaling has become the norm, it’s all too easy to put out a carefully-crafted post on social media while investing little effort in personally serving others. Doing social good is more than participating in a parade or giving a turkey on Thanksgiving. It is to reach out to the afflicted and need and remain unspotted from the world.

In today’s culture where virtue signaling has become the norm, it’s all too easy to put out a carefully-crafted post on social media while investing little effort in personally serving others.CLICK TO TWEET
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.—James 1:27

James 1:27 is an invitation to engage in true gospel-focused ministry to those in your community who are hurting.

To help others over a sustained period of time, give the gospel. Serve underprivileged children and families through the bus ministry. Bring food to the elderly, widows, and shut-ins. Reach out to the kids in your Sunday school class even when you’re not able to meet.

Your heart to help is revealed in how you serve people with the love of Christ whether or not anyone else will ever know.

But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.—Hebrews 13:16

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.—Titus 2:14

Your Wisdom in the Fray
A soldier in training has luxuries that a soldier in battle does not. In particular, he has the luxury of making wrong decisions. But in the crisis of a real battle, the soldier’s discernment is exposed in a way training scenarios can never do.

And so it is with Christian soldiers. Times of crisis not only expose to us our need for God’s wisdom, but they also expose to others how diligently we’ve been seeking and applying biblical wisdom.

Does your life and leadership more resemble the wisdom that is from above or earthly in James 3?

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.—James 3:13–18

The place where this is so easily exposed is social media. Meaningless and divisive dialog abounds. But no matter how insightful our electronic jabs at others appear, if we cannot control our tongues, we do not have true wisdom.

No matter how insightful our electronic jabs at others appear, if we cannot control our tongues, we do not have true wisdom. James 1:26CLICK TO TWEET
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.—James 1:26

Your One Purpose
What is it that if you can do nothing else before you die, you are determined to accomplish? The answer to this question is revealed in a crisis.

What is it that if you can do nothing else before you die, you are determined to accomplish? The answer to this question is revealed in a crisis.CLICK TO TWEET
Ultimately, our answer should be “to glorify God.”

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.—1 Corinthians 10:31

Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.—Revelation 5:12

And how can we better do that than by investing our lives in His great commission?

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.—Matthew 28:19–20

Jesus Himself specifically said that we glorify God and demonstrate true discipleship as we bear fruit through abiding in Him.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.—John 15:8

I suppose every Christian generally agrees with these statements. But I’m not so sure that these moments of crisis have revealed evangelism and discipleship as our one purpose that we hold with laser focus and engage in with intensity.

In time, the coronavirus crisis will pass. In four months, the presidential election will be over and some of the extreme rhetoric will die down.

But before the dust settles, take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart, especially in these five areas. What have these crises revealed about your

spiritual fervor?
doctrinal convictions?
heart to help?
wisdom in the fray?
one purpose?
We all need to make midcourse adjustments from time to time. And the Holy Spirit is always willing and able to lead us in those adjustments.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalm 139:23–24

[ Paul Chappell ]


“Character in Crisis”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 15, 2015

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Crisis revels my character. A crisis can build my character. I have not always responded well to crisis. There was a season I felt paralyzed by my financial issues. Fear kept me from seeing the creative options Christ had for me. I had a mid-life crisis when my dad died and my heart sank into a depression. I struggled with self-pity and grief in his absence. More recently, a health crisis caused me to angrily obsess over the worst case scenario. I lost my perspective of the hope I have in the Lord. God doesn’t waste a crisis, nor does He want me to waste one either.

Paul, a fellow sufferer for his savior Jesus—gives us reason to persevere through our season of suffering. Adversity is meant to advance our faith and for us to fulfill God’s will. Our hope is in Christ. The overflow of His love is poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Our heavenly Father gives us the hope of His profuse and perfect love in our imperfect condition. Perseverance grows our patience and elevates our prayer life. The more we feel dependent on the Lord—the more we depend on the Lord. A crisis is a God occasion to grow our capacity to love.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).

Perhaps you find yourself in a relational crisis. You are frustrated and emotionally fatigued. It is a spiritual stalemate because both of you love the Lord, but it’s hard to love one another. One idea is to humbly reflect on the “one another’s” outlined in God’s word. “Regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). “Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16). “Accept one another” (Romans 15:7). “Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). A crisis is your opportunity to care for another.

Substitute the phrase “one another” with the person’s name and pray how you might apply these truths to your relationship. A crisis can draw us closer to Christ and to each other or it can drive us away. Humility is relational glue that keeps sin and suffering from pulling us apart. Thus, we stay faithful to follow Jesus and love one another, especially when we don’t trust them. We persevere in prayer and ask Christ grow us in His love for others. Our kindness in a crisis can be a catalyst for change. We can’t change others, but by God’s grace we can change ourselves.

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, use the crisis I face to grow my faith and character more like Christ’s.

Related Readings: Philippians 1:20; Hebrews 6:15; James 1:3-4; 2 Peter 1:6; 1 John 3:3

[ Boyd Bailey ]


“Embracing Godly Character”

We live in a godless culture, where being godly is countercultural. So what are we supposed to do when the faith of the next generation is threatened and challenged?

Parents and other faith leaders within the Christian community are essential to raising godly families, and that begins with starting a conversation about the role that character formation plays in equipping the next generation to stand firm in the faith—for now and for generations to come.

In these thirteen video sessions, author Kenneth Kremer invites congregations to learn together how to instill godly character in themselves and their children.

Free Book Study

[ Kenneth J. Kremer ]

STUDY: https://cphfaithcourses.com/embracing-godly-character/


“How God Develops Christian Character”

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.
Romans 5:3-4

When you receive Christ as your personal Savior, God begins to work in you. Nobody is born fully grown, so God has to build your Christian character.

The Bible says in Philippians 1:6, “…He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it….” When you are saved, God simply begins a good work in you. You are not a finished product.

God will build Christian character, but first you must receive Christ. Some people try to develop character, but they have no foundation. And that foundation is Jesus Christ.

How does God build Christian character?

Pressure
God will allow pressures to come. The word tribulation literally means “pressure.” It is a word that was used to describe crushing grapes in the vat for wine or crushing olives for oil. God wants the oil of gladness and the wine of joy in your character. He wants that which will sustain and give strength, but the only way that God will get it out of you is to press it out. Is something bad happening to you right now? Are you having trouble? Are you feeling pressure? These are not obstacles; they are opportunities! They are things that God has engineered to build character into your life.
You’re going to have tribulation whether you’re a Christian or not, but a child of God sees what happens and can, “glory in tribulations.”

Patience
The Bible teaches that God wants to work a character quality in your heart known as patience. The word patient here is not one of passivity. Actually the word means “endurance or constancy.” What are some reactions when troubles come?

  • Some may try to escape with a plane ticket, a pill, a bottle, a needle, or even a gun.
  • Others may even get cynical and shake their fist in the face of God
  • Some may recognize that God wants to teach endurance and it is His way of building Christian character.

How do you respond?

One of the greatest marks of your faith and your confidence in the Almighty is your endurance, your perseverance, and your constancy when trouble comes.

Purity
The word experience is translated in many Bibles as character and it has to do with the idea of purity. This word was used to speak of gold that had been put in the fire and refined until it was pure. It speaks of a character that has gone through the experiences of tribulation and perseverance. And through them, God begins to burn out the dross.
Many of us don’t want that, but I want God to continue to work in my heart and my life until He burns out that dross. They say that a refiner of silver or gold knows when the gold is pure when he can see his own face reflected in it. Our Lord wants to see His character reflected in us.

Have you grown in your Christian life when you were faced with trouble, heartache, pressure, pain, misunderstanding, or bewilderment? Did you grow when you had nowhere to go but to God, and you had to keep searching your heart and saying, “Oh God, what’s wrong? God what are you trying to tell me? What are you trying to teach me? What do you want me to confess?” God uses those difficulties to produce growth in us.

Persuasion
We call this hope. Hope doesn’t mean “to wish or desire.” It means, “a rock-ribbed assurance based on the Word of God and the character of God.” When we go through pressures, tribulations, and afflictions and we come out the other side, we have learned that God is faithful. God saw us through and my friend — that is hope.
I want you to know that Jesus Christ is hope. Hebrews 6:19 speaks of hope when it says, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast….” Let the storms rage, the waves buffet us, and the wind blow — for my Anchor holds.

If you don’t have hope, you don’t have anything. Faith believes, but hope expects. A person who lives by confidence in God alone and looks to God alone has Christian character.

[ Adrian Rogers ]


“How does bad company corrupt good character?”

In 1 Corinthians 15:33, how does bad company corrupt good character? Should Christians be friends with non Christians? Does the bible say we are not to have non Christian friends? Learning how to make friends, how to make good friends, is an important skill to consider. In this Christian friendship advice video, Pastor Nelson with Bible Munch answers the question, “How does bad company corrupt good character?”.

[ Got Questions ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg5k4_lDIz8


“The Character Crisis”

Psalm 119:105; Romans 1:21–32; 1 Thessalonians 5:21–22; A266 Jul 7, 2009

Society has suffered terrible decay as the love of iniquity has trumped noble character. Sadly, what Western culture once regarded as virtuous and good has become almost unrecognizable. Take a few minutes to consider the importance of character, find its source, and commit yourself to the quest—the quest for character.

Character. It has an old-fashioned sound to it, like a faded relic of the Victorian era. We live in a materialistic culture where prestige, prosperity, and popularity are valued more than genuine integrity. In fact personal character hardly seems to matter very much at all nowadays—at least in the realms of mass media, entertainment, politics, and pop culture.

Only a few select moral qualities are still prized by society at large. They are chiefly liberal community values such as diversity, tolerance, and broad-mindedness. Sometimes they are even called virtues. But when traits like those are blended with hypocrisy or employed to justify some other iniquity, they become mere caricatures of authentic virtue.

Meanwhile, genuine individual virtue—the stuff of which true, timeless, praiseworthy character is made—has been formally relegated to the sphere of “personal” things best not talked about openly. These days, even an elected national leader’s personal character is supposed to be treated as a wholly private matter.

As a result, our society’s most prominent celebrities include countless people who actually are known best for gigantic character flaws. Notice, for example, the people who usually grace the covers of celebrity magazines. Very few are decent role models. Often they are actually people who exemplify the worst kinds of character traits. No morally sane, thinking parents would ever hope for their own children to emulate the lifestyles or embrace the values of most of our society’s best-known figures. Big personalities are highly revered anyway, because celebrity itself counts more than character in a society without any moral anchor.

In fact, over the past few decades so many famous people in our society have been charged with serious crimes that a cable television series is devoted exclusively to covering stories about the legal problems of some of our culture’s favorite figures. Still, both the public and the media continue to confer celebrity status on more and more bizarre characters.

How have we come to this? The greatest cultures throughout human history have always reserved the highest positions of eminence and respect for true heroes—people who distinguish themselves by great self-sacrifice, moral excellence, or some truly great accomplishment. They only societies that confer celebrity status on immoral and villainous people have been cultures in serious decline and on the precipice of utter ruin.

One of the universally understood rules of thumb that governed western society until a few short decades ago was that people who achieved fame had a duty to be wholesome role models. Even men and women who weren’t really of sterling virtue in private sought to keep their character flaws hidden from the public—because if their moral defects became known, they lost their star status. Political figures could not remain in office if they were found culpable for any scandalous moral indiscretion.

That is no longer the case. Today’s celebrities proudly flaunt their decadence. With the rise of a massive entertainment industry in the second half of the twentieth century, celebrity became a cheap and shallow commodity. Honest character is now seen as totally optional—or worse, hopelessly unfashionable. As a matter of fact, in certain segments of today’s entertainment and music industries, authentic virtue would be practically incompatible with fame and success. Some of the best-known figures in the recording industry, for example, are avowed gangsters who openly glorify evil in their lyrics. It is frightening to contemplate the future of a society where so many people so badly lacking in character can attain celebrity status so easily—and often hang onto their fame and influence no matter what crimes they commit.

The Bible says that is exactly what happens when a society rejects God and thereby incurs His righteous judgment. Romans 1:21-32 describes the downward path of a culture abandoned to sin. Take note of the roster of evils that finally overwhelm every fallen society. The list closely resembles everything currently fashionable in the world of entertainment and celebrity:

Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)

That describes our culture to the letter, doesn’t it? People today literally entertain themselves with iniquity, heedlessly applauding those who sin most flagrantly. Society today makes celebrities of people who in our grandparents’ generation would have been deemed the most contemptible rogues. Almost everything that used to be considered shameful is now celebrated. We therefore live in a culture where personal character and individual virtue are rapidly evaporating at almost every level. Virtue and infamy have traded places.

According to the Bible, God designed us to be men and women of exemplary character. He repeatedly commands us to pursue what is virtuous and shun what is evil. From cover to cover in Scripture, iniquity is condemned and virtue is exalted.

Clearly, we are supposed to be men and women of excellent character. We’re commanded to “hold fast what is good [and] abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

But where do we go to learn how to do that? Popular culture will not point the way for us. Scripture alone is a reliable lamp for our feet and light for our path (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word points the way in the quest for character.

The Bible contains numerous lists of positive character qualities. Second Peter 1:5-8, for example, gives a catalogue of virtues and urges us to add to our faith. The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, the qualities of authentic love in 1 Corinthians 13, and the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 all list similar traits that describe true excellence of character.

Truly excellent character is actually a reflection of the moral nature of God Himself. For that reason, all virtues are interdependent and closely related. And all of them are the fruit of God’s grace. As you study biblical virtue, may you perceive the true beauty of Christ’s character and desire to see it reproduced in your own life.

[ John MacArthur ]


“10 Ways to Become More Grateful”

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable life theme of gratefulness.
  2. Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. When you remember how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.
  3. Ask Yourself Three Questions. Utilize the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves reflecting on three questions: “What have I received from ?”, “What have I given to ?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
  4. Learn Prayers of Gratitude. In many spiritual traditions, prayers of gratitude are considered to be the most powerful form of prayer, because through these prayers people recognize the ultimate source of all they are and all they will ever be.

The Gratitude Project
The Gratitude Project
What if we didn’t take good things for granted? Learn how gratitude can lead to a better life—and a better world—in this new GGSC book.

  1. Come to Your Senses. Through our senses—the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear—we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. Seen through the lens of gratitude, the human body is not only a miraculous construction, but also a gift.
  2. Use Visual Reminders. Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. Often times, the best visual reminders are other people.
  3. Make a Vow to Practice Gratitude. Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Therefore, write your own gratitude vow, which could be as simple as “I vow to count my blessings each day,” and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
  4. Watch your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. In gratitude, you should not focus on how inherently good you are, but rather on the inherently good things that others have done on your behalf.
  5. Go Through the Motions. If you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude.
  6. Think Outside the Box. If you want to make the most out of opportunities to flex your gratitude muscles, you must creatively look for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful.

[ Robert Emmons ]


“The Gratitude Experiment”

Studies say there are two simple words that are scientifically proven to make you happier and healthier: “Thank you.” On today’s WellCast, we’re doing the gratitude experiment and putting this theory to the test. Does being grateful really help your wellbeing?

[ Wellcast ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5lZBjWDR_c


“The Cost Of Kindness”

The cost of kindness is about the love between two brothers and how a wise toy store owner teaches a beautiful lesson in kindness and shows what it means to be a good human being.

[ Meir Kay ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdWb88MQwB0


“The Amazing Effects of Gratitude”

[ BrainCraft ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sokh9e2WGc


“Say “Thank You” – A Motivational Video On The Importance Of Gratitude”

Intro Speech by Denzel Washington (Commencement Speech)

[ Fearless Soul ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uzynHWxn5Q


“An inspirational story on gratitude”

A black dot story

Short moral story

[ Life Lessons ]

ILLUSTRATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBOqE0JdKMw


“What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?”

What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior? How can I receive Jesus Christ as my personal Savior?

“I have just put my faith in Jesus…now what?”

[ Got Questions ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CP0vxnnQLE


“The Blueprint for Being Born Again (John 3:3)”

For now, I want to encourage you to open the Word of God to the third chapter of John as we continue to look at this very important portion of Scripture on the new birth, being born again. We are returning to what is the definitive text in the gospels on the new birth. Our teacher here is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This, of course, is for most of us who have been in the church any length of time, a very familiar portion of Scripture. The terminology “being born again” is part of evangelical lingo and has been for a long, long time.

But in spite of the fact that it’s familiar terminology and it’s thrown around a lot and has been certainly all through my lifetime, there seems to be a failure on the part of most Christian people to understand what new birth means. It’s not obscure, not difficult to figure out; it’s all bound up in the analogy itself, being born.
Let me read the passage for you, verses 1 through 10, and then we’ll take another look at it. I told you last time, and I’ll tell you again, we have to go slowly through this because it is so important, it is so critical. So we’re not going to finish these ten verses this morning, but we’ll dig down deep enough so that you’ll be greatly enriched and encouraged by what you learn.

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these things that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it’s going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?’”

Now our Lord’s message is very simple. The kingdom of God is entered only through being born again. The kingdom of God is the sphere of salvation, it’s the people ruled by God who have eternal life and are on their way to heaven. The only way to enter the kingdom of God is by being born again. That’s the only way. Apart from that, no one enters the kingdom of God. [ more… ]

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tutZptMHx8c


“Born Again”

Religion is not enough—you must be born again. Billy Graham explains how you can be transformed by Christ in this 1984 message from Liverpool, England.

[ Billy Graham ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGS2A1RBo00


“What is the Meaning of Being Born Again?”

“The truth is we all need forgiveness, we all need to repent, and we all need to surrender our lives to God if we intend to go to heaven,” says Dr. Stanley. In this message, he brings clarity to the mystical concept of spiritual rebirth. For many of us, salvation can seem like too abstract an idea to comprehend, but the fact of the matter is it’s the cornerstone of our faith. Learn the simple truth of the gospel: what it means to be born again.

[ Charles Stanley ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9x8BDxCjS0


“How Are We Born Again?”

We end week number 500 on the podcast today, and we end it with a sharp Bible question from a listener named Derek, who lives in Seattle. “Pastor John, hello! I have a Bible question for you about the new birth. Peter wrote that believers are born again ‘not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God’ (1 Peter 1:23). In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, ‘Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’ (John 3:5). Can you help me understand the truth that these verses are totally compatible? Romans 10:17 and James 1:21 also mention the saving power of the word heard and implanted, but surely not in a way that minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit. The question then follows: How do the Holy Spirit and the word of God collaborate in the new birth?” [ more… ]

[ John Piper ]

TEACHING: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-are-we-born-again


“What does it means to be a BORN AGAIN Christian?”

Billy Graham – What does it means to be a BORN AGAIN Christian?

[ Billy Graham ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYBtmEfGS8Y


“What is Salvation?”

What does it take to be saved? Well the good news is that the Bible is very clear on this topic, and we don’t have to do anything to be good enough to earn it.

Salvation comes simply as a gift by God’s grace through faith. You don’t have to measure up before coming to God to receive this; He wants to give you salvation and meaning today. This is the gospel!

[ CV Outreach ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBC4lhATzhM


“The Vinedresser (John 15)”

A modern day vinedresser reflects on John 15 while at a vineyard.

[ Capilla Calvario Napa ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1ZQVD89AyA


“John 15 Devotional — How God’s pruning in our lives is like the pruning of a rose bush”

Enjoy this short devotional by our grounds maintenance supervisor here at The Cove, as he compares how God’s (the Good Gardener) pruning in our lives is similar to that of pruning a rose bush.

[ The Cove ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cimVzIcFy_4


“Pruning in the Bible”

This is my forsythia bush. It is a great metaphor to show us how pruning in the Bible works. I’ve never grown one before, however, and as I looked at it this week, I saw what a tangled mess it had become. Some pruning was definitely in order.

I actually love pruning my plants, trees, and bushes. I know that it’s a necessity to keep them healthy, under control, and to improve the quality and quantity of flowers. You will find pruning discussed also in the Bible. For some reason, that doesn’t sound so nice to me.

Bible Verse about Pruning
Possibly the most common verse associated with pruning in the Bible is in John 15: 1-4. Jesus is speaking with his disciples in the Upper Room right before his death:

“ I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

The gardener in me loves the analogy of Jesus as the root and stems of a vine. We are the branches that grow from his firm base. He gives us the nutrients we need to live, branch out, and produce fruit.

The Purpose of Pruning
Pruning in the Bible shows us how God the Father is our gardener. He waters, protects, and cares for the vine. As all good gardeners do, he carefully tends to his vine to make sure it stays healthy and produces abundant fruit. To accomplish this goal, God “cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit.”

Removing dead branches is essential for a healthy plant. If they are not removed, they decay and can harbor diseases that can infect and kill the plant.

Matthew Henry’s commentary explains that if the branch is “really united to Christ by faith, they would bear fruit.” These dead branches that produce no fruit only have a professing faith, nothing more.

God prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

So what does this pruning consist of, and what should our attitude be towards it?

What part of my life is God going to take out with his sharp nippers? Will it hurt? Let’s apply some Biblical truth to keep it all in perspective.

what is pruning in the bible

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God Prunes Us
God acts out of love for us. His acts of pruning are done with love, to help us grow into someone who reflects his character. “The Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12.

We are pruned to strengthen our character (to be more like him) and strengthen our faith. “We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope. Knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4

Pruning Hurts
We should think of God’s pruning as a positive, even if there is some pain involved. Pruning sharpens our focus on how God wants our lives to look. Our time and energy are diverted into producing the fruit God desires. Would you rather he neglect you? Of course not! Look at his pruning as a blessing in your life. “Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law.” Psalm 94:12.

God is sovereign. He knows exactly what situations to place us in to lead us to produce fruit. His Holy Spirit directs us to abandon the emotions, thoughts, words, and actions that stand in the way of fruitful living. We need to be in tune and listening to him. “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

God’s timing in his pruning is always perfect. My poor forsythia will remain gangly and wild until next spring. That is the time its pruning is supposed to be done. I found out that if I do it now, it could harm the bush and cut away the beautiful flowers that are already set for next spring’s bloom. God doesn’t have this problem. He knows “there is a time for everything” Ecclesiastes 3:1a

Jesus tells us to “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” That is the only way to produce fruit for him. When we know his Word and live totally dependent on him, we can actually prune ourselves.

Pruning Process
If you look carefully at my forsythia, you would see extremely long droopy branches that almost touch the ground. If these are not trimmed back, they grow back into the ground and can turn my nice shrub into an (even more) unsightly, untamed, wild-looking bush.

I equate these branches with some long-term bad habits, which if left unchecked and unpruned, drag us down as well. Aren’t we to be seeking to “put on a new nature”? (Col 3:10) The bad habits and distractions need to be addressed and pruned out of our lives.

Can you see where some of my branches are crossed? They rub against each other, weakening both branches. The two branches are competing with each other for space. One of them has to go.

Is there any place in your life that competes against God? Remember Joshua’s words to the Israelites as he pleaded with them to have only one God in their lives- “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15 Prune away anything that competes with God in your life.

We will be battling our sinful nature our whole lives. Don’t let fear or weakness stop you from doing the necessary pruning you need. God is with us daily -encouraging us, loving us, and shaping us. Isn’t that what pruning is all about?

Loving Father,
All praise and honor belong to you. You are God and we are not. Thank you for relentlessly pursuing us day after day. Forgive us for the times we push back, turn away, take the wide road, and silence the voice of the Holy Spirit to go our own way. You knew us before we were conceived and you know the plans you have made for our lives. Thank you for the pruning work you do in the branches of our lives that produce the lasting fruit that brings you the glory.
Amen

Blessings!

[ AnnMarie ]


“I Am the True Vine (John 15:1–6)”

The Bible is the authority, the only authority, the only book that God wrote. It contains 66 books – 39 books in the Old Testament, which is the revelation of God before Christ; 27 books in the New Testament, the revelation of God since the coming of Christ, together makes up the 66 books of the Bible.

In the Bible, God speaks. It is His Word. When we come together, we don’t come together to hear men speak, we come to hear God speak. The responsibility then of the pastor and the preacher is to take the message from God and bring it to the people. I’ve always seen myself, not as a chef, but as a waiter. My responsibility is not to create the meal, but try to get it to the table without messing it up. And that is the responsibility which I try to discharge, as we all do whenever we open Scripture.

So as we come to the 15th chapter of John, like anywhere else in the Bible, we are listening to God. The writer is the apostle John. But the writer is also God, the Holy Spirit who inspired every word that John wrote. Because of this, the Bible is without error, it is accurate, and it is authoritative. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. And when God speaks, we listen, because God says to us what we must know.

The Bible should dominate every life and all of human society, for in it is contained all necessary truth for life in time and eternity. And when a nation or a person rejects the Bible, they have rejected God, and the consequences are dire, dire. Those who listen to God through His Word are given life and blessing, now and forever. [ more… ]

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-79


“When & How do we Receive the Holy Spirit?”

When / How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Do we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we are saved, or later in the Christian life?

[ Got Questions ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDRos6ZXSSk


“The Indwelling and Outflowing of the Holy Spirit”

“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

[ Charles Spurgeon ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBlZCjRzB3E


“The Baptism vs The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit”

The Holy Spirit has a powerful influence in the lives of believers and non-believers alike. Do you desire to understand His impact in your life? You won’t want to miss this clear and concise teaching by Pastor Jack, on the work of the Holy Spirit.

[ Jack Hibbs ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3svgXsYjGE


“The Indwelling Spirit”

From Series: Life in the Spirit:
The Bible teaches that humanity is by nature alienated from God, and therefore sees Him as an enemy. What a miracle of grace, then, when He reveals Himself and draws us to saving faith! In this sermon, Alistair Begg focuses on what is uniquely true in the life of the believer. The critical distinction, we learn, is the presence of God’s Spirit within us, empowering us and reminding us that we belong to Christ.

[ Alistair Begg ]

SERMON: https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/indwelling-spirit/


“What is the Filling of the Spirit?”

What does it mean to be “Filled With the Spirit?” Is this the same as the “Baptism of the Spirit?” Is it the same as the “Indwelling of the Spirit?” Or perhaps it’s the same as being “Born in the Spirit?” What is a “Spirit-filled believer?”There is a lot of confusion surrounding the person of The Holy Spirit so today we are going to talk about what it means to be “Filled with the Spirit.”

[ Allen Parr ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fkOoR5McEE


“What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”

There is much confusion on this but John MacArthur helps us understand what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3bTpc3BwtM


“The Starting Point of Sanctification”

And now we come to the Word of God and again back to the book of Galatians, Galatians chapter 4. We have come to a screeching halt at verse 19 of Galatians 4, because this verse is so critical to understanding the great truth of sanctification. Verse 19 says, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.”

Paul’s imagery here is very vivid. He uses the analogy of a woman who is in labor until a fully formed child emerges. And that’s how he feels about the believers in his care, about all believers, for that matter. He has birth pain until Christ is formed in them. This is what sanctification is. It is becoming like Christ.

Yes, as a believer, Christ is in you; but that’s the reality of redemption or salvation in its first phase. That’s justification or new birth, being born again. Christ comes and takes up residence in you almost in an undeveloped way, fully present, but not fully manifest through the believer. Sanctification then is the process by which the believer in whom Christ dwells becomes more like Christ. Christ begins to shape the believer’s life; and a fully formed Christ in the life of a believer is then a sanctified believer who manifests the character of Christ, who thinks the way Christ thinks, who speaks the way Christ speaks, who acts the way Christ acts. And this is Paul’s great painful desire for his people, and it is really the passion of any faithful pastor, to see Christ fully formed in those who are in His care.

Now, I want to spend one more Sunday, and that’s this one, stopping long enough to talk about this issue of sanctification. I told you in the past several messages that we’ve gone through – three of them, to be exact – that this is an era in the history of the church, when the church when the church seems to me to be indifferent towards sanctification. The church does show some interest in the truth of election, that great doctrine of election. The church does show interest in the doctrine of redemption or justification. It spends a lot of time even sort of defining and expanding the understanding of both election and justification. The church has a small interest in glorification; it seems to be caught up in the world. But there are books that come periodically on the issue of heaven and what’s coming in future glory. [ more… ]

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4YwFHLDSkI


“What Is the Bible’s Definition of Sanctification?”

[ John MacArthur ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wv_ZnehPoE


“Sanctification: The Believer’s Transformation”

Open your Bible, if you will, to Colossians chapter 3. And there are many, many things that I want to bring to your attention in this chapter, so it’s going to be a few weeks for us to work our way through what remains of it. We’ve already gone down to verse 9. The bottom line here is a very simple principle and it starts in chapter 3, verse 1. It starts in verse 1: “Therefore since you have been raised up with Christ,” and then it gives us a lot of imperatives. Since we are joined to Christ, since we are in Christ, Christ is in us. Since we have, verse 3, died to ourselves and our life is hidden with Christ in God, and Christ is now our life, there are some responses that are required. This is one of those passages very familiar to readers of the apostle Paul where he lays down a doctrinal premise and then speaks to the issue of the responsibility that issues from that premise.

Now this is familiar language. And let me remind you of a passage of Scripture that you’re familiar with. It’s Philippians 2, verses 12 and 13. I’ll just quote it for you. Philippians 2:12 and 13 says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” That really describes the dynamics, the pathology of spiritual life and sanctification. God has done a work in you. God has done a transforming work in you, and now it’s your responsibility to let that inward work be manifest on the outside. Work out your salvation doesn’t mean work for your salvation, it means to make manifest on the outside the salvation that God has wrought on the inside. God has done His will in you as a believer. God has done His work in you as a believer for His own good pleasure. You are regenerated. You are born again. You are transformed. Christianity is a total, complete transformation.

Now the responsibility that the believer has is to let the inward work be manifest on the outer work, and you do that with fear and trembling. Why? Because it’s not easy, it’s a difficult work to do. It’s hard to live a holy life. It’s hard to live a godly life. It’s hard to overcome the remaining flesh. But we have to remember that God is watching, and we do that with a sense of awe and a sense of trembling in the light of His chastening if we are disobedient. So, we as believers are called upon, having been given a new nature, having become new creations. Old things passed away and everything new, to so live to make that manifest.

Now obviously, no one earns their salvation by works, it is a gift of grace through faith. But we are not passive in salvation, we must believe. Nor are we passive in sanctification, we must obey. True believers are commanded to obey. And this is how we work the inward work of God to the outside and make it manifest both to God and to men.

There has always been this notion that God has done this monergistic work in you and He’s done it all in you, and now sanctification is sort of in His hands, and there’s the sort of quietist idea, “Let go and let God; just kick back, relax, sort of swim in grace and don’t worry about anything. Don’t let anybody impose law on you, imperatives, commands.” Nothing could be further from the truth of Scripture. [ more… ]

[ John MacArthur ]

PART 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JOoZWrmyr8
PART 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgAByOCH0RE


“The Christian’s Assurance of Salvation”

There is a bluntness in the gospel. The utter absence of ambiguity characterizes the truth. False religion is necessarily and typically ambiguous, the gospel is not. It is blunt, straightforward. The gospel tells the truth with candor, plainly spoken truth that is so straightforward and so unmistakable as to be blatantly offensive.

In fact, the introductory line of the Christian gospel goes like this: Every human being is a sinner. Every human being sins, because every human being possesses a corrupt nature, a wicked disposition. Beyond just that corruption and wicked disposition, all human beings are rebels against God. They have rebelled against God by the willful and constant violation of His holy law, which is a reflection of His holy nature. Consequently, all sinners are under divine judgment for their rebellion and their violation and their innate corruption. The sentence that comes from God on all mankind is condemnation to eternal punishment in hell. That is the blunt and shocking and stunning truth of the gospel. That’s where it starts.

There are people who are eager to remove that part of the gospel, and therefore deconstruct the gospel and usually end up with a gospel that is no gospel. And we learned earlier in Galatians, “If anybody preaches another gospel let him be damned.” We’re all sinners, we’re all under divine judgment, and we can do nothing to change that on our own. Now that causes me to pose some questions to get us into this text.

Question number one: “How do we know that we are all sinners? How do we know? What’s the proof that we’re all sinners?” Pretty popular to think of people as being basically good. “What is the evidence that we are all sinners?” Very simple: Everyone dies. Everyone dies. The Old Testament says, “The soul that sins it shall die.” New Testament says, “The wages of sin is death.”

If you say you’re not a sinner, then you have to explain your death. If you say you’re not corrupt, you have to explain your demise. And further, if you say you have not sinned, you lie, and you make God who says you are a sinner a liar, and that only compounds your guilt. [ more… ]

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi53UwZ5br0


“I Am A Disciple Of Jesus Christ – Are You?”

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Leaving everything of the world behind for it all avails nothing. Taking up your cross and following Jesus, leaving the world behind and doing the will of God. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? It will cost you everything, but you will gain more than you can imagine. The preaching is from Steve Lawson it will cost you everything.

[ Steven Lawson ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RWH6BwEaJg


“What We Can Learn About Life From A Potato, Eggs, And Coffee”

What We Can Learn About Life From A Potato, Eggs, And Coffee is a story I read a couple months back and thought how good it would be bring this story to the “big” screen. I had the pleasure to team up with my good friend, Jay Shetty to bring this powerful lesson to life.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFHlxLWdeTQ


<<< SONGS >>>


“Born Again”

I found myself lookin’ into the mirror
Knew I wasn’t who I wanted to be
I was living life the way that I wanted
But my eyes reminded me I’m not free

Believed a lie so everything that I know
Says I gotta go, tired of going solo
But I’m never gonna go there again

[Chorus]
This is what it is, this is who I am
This is where I finally take my stand
I didn’t wanna fall, but I don’t have to crawl
I met the one with two scarred hands

Givin’ Him the best of everything that’s left of
The life inside this man
I’ve been born again

I see you’re walkin’ like you’re living in fear
Havin’ trouble even looking at me
Wishin’ they would give you more than words
Sick of people tellin’ how it should be (How it should be)

What’d ya download? Where’d you get your info?
You saw their hype show, now you’re in the in-know
Gonna tell you what I believe
Oh

We are the ones they call by name
I’m never gonna look back
Let go, let go, the guilt, the shame
Said, I’m never gonna look back
This is who I am

(Never gonna look back)
I’ve been born again
(Never gonna look back)

[ Newsboys – “Born Again” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us4VSFAKuPY


“Gratefulness”

He puts the next breath in my lungs
He pours that new wine in my cup
I can’t stop singing of all He’s done
His mercies are new every morning

I will enter His gates with gratefulness, gratefulness
He turns my sorrow to praise
Through gratefulness, gratefulness

He leads me through my wilderness
He lifts me up when I’ve no fighting left
I can’t stop singing how good He is
His mercies are new every morning

I will enter His gates with gratefulness, gratefulness
He turns my sorrow to praise
Through gratefulness, gratefulness

I’ll choose to see my pain as some kind of blessing
I’ll choose to see my trials as some kind of joy
I’ll see Your goodness in the land of the living
So while I’m still breathing, I choose gratefulness

I’ll choose to see my pain as some kind of blessing
I’ll choose to see my trials as some kind of joy
I’ll see Your goodness in the land of the living
Oh, while I’m still breathing, I choose gratefulness

I will enter His gates with gratefulness, gratefulness
(With a grateful heart I’m running ’round)
(So thankful for all You done me)
He turns my sorrow to praise
Through gratefulness, gratefulness

I will enter His gates with gratefulness, with gratefulness
He turns my sorrow to praise
Through gratefulness, gratefulness

[ Rend Collective – “Whosoever” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdUhiRHwTzw


“Grateful”

I am grateful for the things that you have done
Yes, I’m grateful for the victories we’ve won
I could go on and on and on about your works
Because I’m grateful, grateful, so grateful just to praise you Lord
Flowing from my heart are the issues of my heart, it’s gratefulness
I am grateful for the things that you have done
Yes, I’m grateful for the victories we’ve won
I could go on and on and on about your works
Because I’m grateful, grateful, so grateful just to praise you Lord
Flowing from my heart are the issues of my heart, it’s gratefulness
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful
Grateful, grateful, grateful, gratefulness is flowing from my heart
Flowing from my heart are the issues of my heart, it’s gratefulness

[ Hezekiah Walker & LFC ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XhN2m5b_3U


“Nothing Without Jesus”

Where would I be without Jesus?
Where would I be without Jesus?
I’m nothing without Jesus
I’m nothing without Jesus

While I was Your enemy
You chose to be a friend to me
It don’t make no sense to me
With every sin I committed
You could’ve ended me
It’s amazing You forgiven me
For everything that I done
When I look at my past
He told me “boy look forward and just run”
Because I’ve overcome
You overcame
Always wonder why I always found that beauty in the rain
Maybe it’s because you done washed away my stains
Every single thought that had me feeling so ashamed
It’s finished
Every single blemish
Imagine Christ gasping on the cross in His final minutes
What a price He paid
All praise to the Lamb who was slain

Where would I be without Jesus? (You defeated the grave)
Where would I be without Jesus?
I’m nothing without Jesus
I’m nothing without Jesus
Where would I be without Jesus?
Where would I be without Jesus?
I’m nothing without Jesus
I’m nothing without Jesus

You know, when I talk about being delivered
From my sin and being free from all of my shame
Um, that’s not just for me
And Jesus died for you to experience the same thing
And He died so that you’d be free
So for anybody that just feels the shackles and chains
Jesus has paved the way for you to know God
For real

There’s nothing that you could have done
To keep you from the One
Because of the only Son
Whoa-oh-oh
There’s nothing that You could have done
To keep you from the One
Because of the only Son
Whoa-oh-oh

I was struggling with having these random thoughts
Just dark thoughts things that I’d never do
And I just watched Jesus literally free me from that

God constantly reminds me that I
Don’t need to try to be something else
Because my authentic form is what makes me beautiful

He set me free
A lack of self worth
Being molested as a teenager by a
Babysitter that was supposed to be there to love me
But instead gave me a counterfeit
He set me free from that shame

Jesus has shown me that the things of
This world truly do grow strangely dim
Once you choose to follow Him
I used to chase the world and want everything it had to offer
And now I see that true joy comes from Jesus and not the world

Jesus has freed me from pornography
Addiction, drug addiction, anger, anxiety, depression

Yo Jesus has freed me from weed, pornography, selfishness, pride

Ayy what’s good
Jesus has freed me from arrogance
He freed me from pride
He freed me from self righteousness, hate
Jealousy, comparison
And now I’m walking with Him
He just freed from having to work to be righteous
Like it’s impossible
I don’t have to be better, do better
So no more understanding
No more
Or being right in my own eyes or anything like that
I can get to just be and rest and abide in Him
‘Cause He did everything that I couldn’t do

God has set me free from the constant addiction of pornography
God has set me free from the addiction of smoking and doing drugs
Everyday having to do the same thing to
Just be able to function and make it through
He set me free from having to put my hope in such a false counterfeit
Just the world
Thinking that other people will solve my problems

Right now I feel like Jesus is teaching me to just pause and celebrate
A lot of times I don’t celebrate victories
Because once I reach a milestone or a goal
I fix my eyes towards the next goal and I begin striving

Something that God has saved me from is addiction
And I’m free-er than ever now
So just glory to God

[ Hulvey – “Christopher” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQz_pYPvyw8


<<< APOLOGETIX SONGS >>>


“Born-Again Child”
(Parody of “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf)

Yes, the Lord is comin’ — straight out of the skyway
Lookin’ for repentance — whosoever calls His name
Yeah, God’s a-gonna make it happen
Take the world at a sudden pace
Find all of the ones He wants and export ‘em to space

Like a stroke of lightnin’ — every man that’s on earth
Will see Him again — are you ready now, I wonder
Yeah, God’s a-gonna make it happen
Shake the world and its stubborn ways
Find all of His sons at once and head home to His place

And if you use faith just now — you’ll be born, born again, child
You can fly so high — you’re never gonna die
Born-again child, born-again child

Yes, the Lord is comin’ — get out of your wild ways
Look in Romans 10 first — do whatever stuff it says
Yeah, God’s a-gonna make it happen
Save the world with His lovin’ grace
Find out what He wants from us, and just grow in your faith

And with a new nature now, yeah, you’re born, born again, child
You can fly so high — you’re never gonna die
Born-again child, born-again child

[ ApologetiX – “Chosen Ones” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbiqM4efEZk


“Born Above”
(Parody of “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen)

In the day he went about on the streets
Doing run-of-the-mill Pharisee things
At night he met with his master, the Lord, and said
Show us what You mean
I’m a sage but You’re highly divine
Your wisdom’s respected, you’re second-to-none, top of the line
Oh — Jesus said, If you’re born from above
You can get that — you can go where I’m at
You gotta get it while you’re young
But you can’t find much, baby, till you’re born above
That’s what He told Him

Then He said to Him, you must be born again
If you want God to increase your vision
Just like the wind blows just where it wills
The same thing happens to Christians
You never see it make its path — yet somehow you know
Baby, whenever it blows past
Oh — will you walk with Me out on the water?
‘Cause, baby, I can prepare you to know the Father
If you wanna know, here’s the deal:
You must become a little child if you wanna know that God is real
Oh, let Me show you

John 3:3 ha!

Beyond this planet, Heaven’s got a home
eems like it’s really far
The world’s unaware but it’s really near
And you don’t have to look so hard
The amusing part is it’s there in your heart
Yet it’s somehow out of reach in your midst
You either die with Me daily or you wait to die
And get everlasting death — ha!

The highway’s jammed with folks whose steering’s
Gonna get them burned alive
Well, everybody wants on the road to God
But there’s no way there but Mine
Together, Nicky, we can live at this address
I’ll scrub you of all the badness in your soul
Someday when you’re born again
You’re gonna get to that place you really wanna go
And you’ll walk with the Son
But till then — can’t find much, baby, till you’re born above
Come on, honey — can’t find much, baby, till you’re born above
Come on, Nicky — can’t find much, baby, till you’re born above

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ56scF8NME


“Nicky”
(Parody of “Mickey” by Toni Basil)

Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky

Hey, Nicky
You come around at night and ask about the Law
You like to talk to Christ ’cause you think He comes from God
Why can’t you see the light so you can teach them all, Nicky?
The wind blows where it wills and no one sees it blow
The same with those He fills – they believe, they just know
Every night you still leave with heart of stone, Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again
No, Nicky, there’s some things you can’t do as a man
But God likes you, Nicky
He’ll help you through, Nicky, through Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

Hey, Nicky
Now when you take these Bible truths
Then you’re gonna know
Every time you do you’ll get a little more shown
There’s nothing to confuse
So don’t play dumb, Nicky
So come on now, Nicodemus, anybody can
Any man or woman who believes is born again
The breeze in the trees still leaves its evidence, Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again
No, Nicky, there’s some things you can’t do as a man
But God likes you, Nicky
He’ll help you through, Nicky, through Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again
No, Nicky, there’s some things you can’t do as a man
But God likes you, Nicky
He’ll help you through, Nicky, through Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

O, Nicky, John 3:3 through 21 expands
You take this all to heart and you’ll take the Promised Land
O, Nicky, 7:50 there in John again
We find out you, Nicky
Still want the truth, Nicky, truth, Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

Oh, Nicky, John 19 verse 39 I scanned
You play a vital part in the Savior’s burial plan
Oh, Nicky, when it’s finished then you’ll understand
What God must do, Nicky
He loves you, too, Nicky, too, Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again

[ ApologetiX – “You Can’t Say Euphrates Without the 80’s” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmvKbWuMExk


“The Real Sin Savior”
(Parody of “The Real Slim Shady” originally performed by Eminem)

May I have your repentance please?
May I have your repentance please?
Will you tell Him “Save me” and please stand up?
I repeat … will you tell Him “Save me” and please stand up?
We’re gonna have to prophet here

Y’all act like you never seen a nice person before
You oughta hope in the Lord
Your panting tongue is just thirstin’ for more
You started lookin’ around searchin’ cause you’re
Uncertain you’re sure you know where you’re goin’ eternally
If you return to God … ah, wait, no, wait, we’re sinning
We couldn’t get saved with the things we did, can we?
And Dr. J. says — nothing you did is such a grave sin
It costs you salvation
Ha Ha — Heavenly livin’s above every man
“Chick-a-chick-a-chick-a he’s crazy!
I’m sick of them ‘born agains’
Walkin’ around askin’ if you know God — speakin’ of You Know Who
Yeah, but there’s no proof though”
Yeah, probably got a couple of you who think I lack proof
But no worse than what’s goin’ on in America’s classrooms
Sometimes I wanna get on TV and just spread the truth
But can’t — but the school can tell me we come from evolution
“My mama was a fish — my mama was a fish”
“And if we’re monkeys you might as well forget original sin!”
And that’s the message that we deliver to little kids
And expect them not to question on their own if God exists
Of course they’re gonna wonder if the Lord’s fake
By the time they hit fourth grade
They got the Easter Bunny and Santa don’t they?
We ain’t shinin’ examples
Well some of the scandals are caused by people posin’ as evangelists
But if Jesus loved His enemies and Pharisees
Then there’s no reason that you can’t get another chance and believe
But if you feel a slight chill — I got the anti-freeze
This is not a fantasy — it’s important and it’s free

I’ve sinned greatly, but Christ’s for real, baby
It’s a wonder He saved me and just didn’t hate me
So won’t you tell Him “Save me”
Please stand up, please stand up, please stand up
Yes, I’ve been crazy, yes, I’ve been real shady
Always wanted Him to save me, but just didn’t say it
So won’t you tell Him “Save me”
Please stand up, please stand up, please stand up

Will Smith don’t gotta discuss the Christian path to salvation
Well, I do — it affects him and affects you too
You think I give a care if he likes my parodies
Half of you kiddies won’t even look at me, let alone stare at me
But J., what if we pray? Wouldn’t we be weird?
Why? Would you guys reject Christ just to fit with your peers
So you can live in fear for the next 60 years
This ain’t imaginary better get prepared
The price of sin yes it costs us dearly with death first
And when that part is over if you ain’t saved it gets even worse
Little chance they’ll put me now on MTV
Yeah, it’s true, but I think he’d scare all the kids — ree ree!
I said now’s when they oughta know and John 3:3
It shows the whole world how they need born again to be free
I’m singin’ you little girls and boys spoofs
All you do is ignore me
Though I have been sent here to inform you
And there’s a million of us just like me you judge like me
Were just like triple fudge ice cream; we’re just quite sweet
You watch Saul in Acts 9:3
You just might see you’re just like him — You’re not fightin’ me

I’ve sinned greatly, but Christ He still saved me
From a hundred temptations and death, sin and Hades
So won’t you tell Him “Save me”
Please stand up, please stand up, please stand up
Yes, my sinned shamed me, yet I’ve been healed lately
God the Father forgave me from messin’ with Satan
So won’t you tell Him “Save me”
Please stand up, please stand up, please stand up

I’m like a breath mint you listen to but I’m only givin’ you
Things you thought about in your head with my religious group
The only difference is I got the call to say it in front of y’all
And I don’t gotta be Paul — the Book I quote has it all
I just get out a Bible and read it and whether you like it you need it
As sure as I can see that better than 90 percent of you happen to doubt me
Then you wonder how can kids give up their values I tell you it’s funny
Cause at the place I’m goin’ when I’m buried
I’ll see the only person in the world I know who’s worthy
He’s the first and last and I’m J. Jackson I’m the worst
And I’m a jerk and Jesus knows that but my braggin’ wasn’t workin’
And every single person needs a sin savior urgently
You could be working on a burglary or sittin’ in a nunnery
Or keepin’ part of the law perfectly screamin’ “I don’t sin that much”
Puttin’ Christians down sayin’ “It’s just a crutch”
So if you’re still waiting please stand up
Cause this wonderful singer’s time is eaten up
And it’s time to get off your behind and out of the row
Come on down — now is your chance — how do I know?

I’ve sinned greatly, but Christ He still saved me
From a hundred temptations and death, sin and Hades
So won’t you tell Him “Save me”
Please stand up, please stand up, please stand up
Yes, my sinned shamed me, yet I’ve been healed lately
God the Father forgave me from messin’ with Satan
So won’t you tell Him “Save me”
Please stand up, please stand up, please stand up

Ha ha ha — I guess there’s a sin Savior for all of us — Let’s all stand up!

[ ApologetiX – “Keep The Change” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCWUHZxdpcw


“Regeneration”
(Parody of “My Generation” by The Who)

People try to put us down (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
Just because we’re heaven-bound (Talkin’ ’bout …)
They may stew and scoff and scold (Talkin’ ’bout …)
I know I’ll die with a born-again soul (Talkin’ ’bout …)
This is regeneration — this is regeneration, baby
Who don’t you all find the Way (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
And go to Titus 3:5 and see what it says (Talkin’ ’bout …)
I’m not talkin’ ’bout artificial resuscitation (Talkin’ ’bout …)
Just talkin’ ’bout re-generation
This is regeneration — this regeneration, baby
Who don’t you all find the Way (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
What John chapter 3 verse 3 does say (Talkin’ ’bout …)
And First Peter 1:23 says the same thing (Talkin’ ’bout …)
It’s just talkin’ ’bout regeneration (Talkin’ ’bout …)
This is regeneration — this regeneration, baby
Re-re-re-re-re-generation
If you’re tired of puttin’ us down (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
And you wanna be heaven-bound (Talkin’ ’bout …)
Here’s what to do to save your soul (Talkin’ ’bout …)
Put hope in Christ before you get old (Talkin’ ’bout …)
This is regeneration — this regeneration, baby
Re-re-re-re-re-generation
This is not imagination — this is not exaggeration
This is not meditation — this is not vegetation
Hope you got reservations — please do not change the station

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YoUc-HUjz0


“Seven Romans”
(Parody of “Every Morning” performed by Sugar Ray)

When we’re born again a halo ain’t a-gonna come
And hover over most folks’ heads
I know it’s not like that but Jesus Christ can use me
Though I’m weak and I’m an uptight man

I couldn’t understand — had to work it out:
“Born again as a Christian yet my problems aren’t over
And I’m gripped with doubts”
Somethin’ God’s revealin’ — stops me from that feelin’
Tells me I’m born again
Says I’ll make it through it — and Romans 7 proves it, amen

(Sugar Jay say:)
Oh oh oh oh — oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh — oh oh oh oh oh oh
Seven Romans — Seven Romans says I’ll make it
(Trust the Lord, baby — obey His word)
Jesus will right what’s wrong — He’s always right, He’s always right
(Trust the Lord, baby — trust the Lord, baby)

When we’re born again an archangel ain’t gonna come
And hover over most folks’ heads
I know I’m not nice but I know Jesus still loves me
And I know I can believe what He said

Sometimes it’s deceivin’ — when you trust your feelings
Turn to the Lord instead
Says I’ll make it through it — although I think I blew it again

Oh oh oh oh — oh oh oh oh oh oh
Seven Romans — Seven Romans says I’ll make it
(Trust the Lord, baby — obey His word)
Oh oh oh oh — oh oh oh oh oh oh
Seven Romans — Seven Romans says I’ll make it
(Trust the Lord, baby — trust the Lord, baby)

Jesus will right my wrongs — for me — baby
Jesus will right what’s wrong with me

When we’re born again a halo ain’t a-gonna come
And hover over most folks’ heads
I know I’m not quite done but Jesus Christ will do it
Like Philippians chapter 1:6 says
(Trust the Lord, baby — obey His word)

Whistling starts
Seven Romans
Seven Romans says I’ll make it
(Trust the Lord, baby — trust the Lord, baby)
Seven Romans
Seven Romans says I’ll make it
(Tells me I’m born again)
(Trust the Lord, baby — obey His word)

Seven Romans
(Do it again)
Seven Romans says I’ll make it

Seven Romans
(Trust the Lord, baby — trust the Lord, baby)
Seven Romans says I’ll make it
Whistling continues

[ ApologetiX – “Decent Alternative” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbKN4nVG_ro


“Livin’ What Jesus Spoke Of”
(Parody of “Livin’ la Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin)

He’s been through crucifixion — that cat’s been through it all
Christ’s real; He ain’t religion — God’s Word’s gonna save your soul
He’s into new creation — proved it when He came alive
He’s God — are you a Christian? Forget those pagan lies
He’ll make you take your cross up and go stand against the grain
He’ll make you leave this crazy life, but He’ll take away your shame If you’re truly born again — C’mon

Let Christ in right now — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Don’t pussyfoot around — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
You’ll live forever then — when your sins are all disposed of
He will bail you out — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Livin’ what Jesus spoke of (C’mon!) livin’ what Jesus spoke of

Wake up! You know you’re sinnin’ — and it’s fun but it leads to hell
He took your part and He took your punishment
He wants to save me and you as well
Your newer nature’s goin’ to make your older friends complain
But once you have a faith that works you’ll never be the same
Cause I think you’re gonna change — C’mon

Let Christ in right now — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Don’t pussyfoot around — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
You’ll live forever then — and your sins He’ll all dispose of
He will bail you out — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Livin’ what Jesus spoke of (C’mon!) livin’ what Jesus spoke of

He’ll make you take your cross up and go stand against the grain
He’ll make you leave this crazy life, but He’ll take away your shame
Bite the bullet and get saved — C’mon

Let Christ in right now — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Don’t pussyfoot around — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
You’ll live forever then — and your sins He’ll all dispose of
He will bail you out — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Let Christ in right now — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Don’t pussyfoot around — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
You’ll live forever then — and your sins He’ll all dispose of
He will bail you out — livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Livin’ what Jesus spoke of (C’mon!) livin’ what Jesus spoke of
Ah, you gotta get a lotta more Jesus, c’mon!

Gotta get what Jesus spoke of
Gotta get a lotta what Jesus spoke of — gotta get a lotta more Jesus

[ ApologetiX – “Spoofernatural” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDxFt43ud0E


“Life Restored”
(Parody of “Last Resort” by Papa Roach)

Plug my life into Jesus — this gets my life restored
Such a cakewalk, no brainer — don’t need to fuss if I call on our savior
This gets my life restored

Plugged my life into Jesus — I’ve seen my life restored
Such a cakewalk, no brainer — don’t need to fuss since I called Him my savior
Do not even care if I die later
Cause I belong to Jesus Christ
If they took my life tonight — chances are I’d arrive
In a place that’s out of sight — and I’m confident I’m doin’ fine

‘Cause I’m improving my life, renewing my mind
This all started with Romans 10:9
Doing what’s right, doin’ quite fine
This all started with Romans 10:9

I never realized I was meant to live — to live a new life if I would let Him within
Told me — death is the payoff for living in sin
End the cycle when you’re born again
It all started when I first discovered
The Book on my shelf and read cover to cover
Searching — to find religion that held my attention
Finding — something called Christian redemption

‘Cause I’m improving my life, renewing my mind
This all started with Romans 10:9
Doing what’s right, doin’ quite fine
This all started with Romans 10:9
I’ll be all right — I’ll be just fine — you’re runnin’ out of time
I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine
I — can’t — go — wrong — liv — ing — this — way

Plug my life into Jesus — this gets my life restored
Selfish nature — don’t need it — go give it up — you can conquer your demons
Would it be wrong for me to pry?
If you give your life to Christ — chances are dynamite
You will make it out alive — and I’m confident you’ll do it right

‘Cause I’m improving my life, renewing my mind
This all started with Romans 10:9
Doing what’s right, doin’ quite fine
This all started with Romans 10:9
I’ll be all right — I’ll be just fine — you’re runnin’ out of time
I — can’t — go — wrong — liv —ing — His — way
Can’t go wrong — living His way — I’ll be all — right

[ ApologetiX – “Keep the Change” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmj2zIK5kAc


“Here I Go (Against All I’ve Known)”
(Parody of “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake)

I don’t know what I’m doing, but I sure know that I’ve sinned
Hangin’ on the precipice with a thousand debts to pay
And I’ve made up my mind; I ain’t waitin’ for more signs
Here that story ends, here I’m born again

They told me, Keep searchin’ for an answer
They never seem to mind till you think you’re sure
Oh, Lord, I pray You’ll give me strength to bear this cross
‘Cause I know what this means
It won’t be long they’re calling me extreme

Here I go against all I’ve known
Though I’m down and out, I know I’m not alone
Though I’ve drifted far from shore, You’re on the boat
And I’ve made up my mind; I ain’t waitin’ for more signs

I guess You know it’s hard for me to trust You
Faith is all stuff we cannot see
But I’m gonna hold on, Lord, and rest in my faith
‘Cause I know what I read: To walk with God, I only need belief

And here I go against all I’ve known
Though I’m down and out, I know I’m not alone
By the Scriptures I was warned so long ago
And I’ve made up my mind; I ain’t waitin’ for more signs
‘Cause here I’m born again — Here I’m born again
Here I’m born again — Here I go

‘Cause I know what I need
To walk with God — so, Lord, help me believe

And here I go against all I’ve known
Though I’m down and out I know I’m not alone
Though I’ve drifted from you, Lord, I’m walkin’ home
And I’ve made up my mind; I ain’t waiting for more signs

Here I go against all I’ve known
Though I’m down and out I, know I’m not alone
All the Scriptures I once scorned I want to know

[ ApologetiX – “Wordplay” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNEex1rLVyA


“Two-Time Baby/Lord’s House Blues”
(Parody of “Love Me Two Times/Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors)

I’m a two-time baby — born twice today
I’m a two-time man — ‘cause I’m born again, yeah
I’m a two-time man — once born in Adam, once with Christ within
I’m a two-time — I’m born again

Born one time — it was bleak
Born one time, baby — yeah, my flesh was weak
Born a two-time man — trust Him my soul to keep
I’m a two-time — I’m born again
I’m a two-time — I’m born again
Alll right!

You gotta rule, rule, rule
You gotta fill my soul, all right
Rule, rule, rule, rule and heal my soul
You gotta teach me how to reach Ya
Walk and talk, I wanna
Preach it to the nations — Bible revelation
I believe Ya, Jesus, come in my life
I sure need Ya! I sure need Ya!
It’s up to You now! It’s up to You now!
Save this sinner! Save us sinners! My Lord!

Yeah, but once you been born again, ya got nothin’ to fear
Yeah, but once you been born again, ya got nothin’ to fear
Your future is certain when the end is drawing near
Let Him rule, baby, rule!
Let Him rule, baby, rule!
Let Him rule, baby, rule!
Let Him rule — Oh, my Lord!

[ ApologetiX – “Apol-acoustiX” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9x9Rvo9xJ4


“Yes Today”
(Parody of “Yesterday” by The Beatles)

If today
You should hear His voice don’t turn away
Now’s the time that you should kneel and pray
And finally say yes today

Suddenly
You might have to spend eternity
In a place you never want to be
Say yes today and just believe

Christ, He died for all
There’s no soul He wouldn’t save
There’s just one thing you
Have to do — say yes today

Yes today
Seems like such an easy thing to say
All you need is faith, so why delay?
Say, “I believe,” and “yes” today

Why you might say no
I don’t know — I couldn’t say I
’d say something’s wrong
If you don’t say “Yes” today

Yes, today
Might just be your final chance to pray
All you need is faith, so why delay?
Say, “I believe,” and “yes” today
Mmmmmmmmm

[ ApologetiX – “Apol-acoustiX” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJQguk4JvCk


“Spirit Inside”
(Parody of “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum)

When He died and was raised from the dead
Taught us all 40 days then He said
Well my friends, It’s time to fly
But wait up for the Spirit to arrive
Go wait up for the Spirit from on High
That’s who you’re gonna know when I fly
When I fly and you may be depressed
He’s gonna grow you in faith to pass the test

Prepare yourselves, but don’t get so rushed
God’ll have a Friend come teach ya
Don’t you know that when I fly
I’m gonna recommend He put the Spirit in you guys
Gonna recommend He put the Spirit in you guys
To show you miracles, make you wise
When I fly if you wait you’ll be blest
He’s gonna blow through this place in just a bit

When the day of Pentecost came,
They were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven
And filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire
That separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
And began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Never been a preacher but ever since
I got that Friend from Jesus
Don’t you know I’ve been on fire
‘Cause God has filled me up with the Spirit inside
God has filled me up with the Spirit inside
That’s why I’m gonna go far and wide
Far and wide with the faith I confess
I’m gonna go every place and tell the rest
Show ‘em the way that’s the best

[ ApologetiX – “Jesus Christ Morningstar” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKHPtVD9E1M


“Gimme Helper”
(Parody of “Gimme Shelter” performed the Rolling Stones)

Ooooh Ooooh Ooooh
Ooooh Ooooh Ooooh
Ooooh Ooooh Ooooh
Ooooh Ooooh Ooooh

Ooh, well, the Lord has said that
Christ will abide in me
If I don’t get the Helper
Today, I’m gonna wait and pray

Lord Jesus, please send Him right away
Please send Him right away
Lord Jesus, please send Him right away
Please send Him right away
Yeahh

Ooh, see the fire appearing
Now over people’s heads
Heard mighty wind blow across me
My Lord brought a friend

Lord Jesus, He sends Him out today
He sends Him out today
Lord Jesus, He sends Him out today
He sends Him out today
Yeahhh

LEAD

Pray, brothers!
He’s just a shout away, He’s just a shout away
Pray, brothers! Yeahh
He’s just a shout away, He’s just a shout away
Pray, brothers!
He’s just a shout away, He’s just a shout away
Hey, yeah yeah

Mmmm. well, the Lord is sending
Christ’s Spirit right to me
Gives me, gives me a Helper
So, I’m gonna pave the way

Lord Jesus, He’s just a shout away
He’s just a shout away
He’s just a shout away
He’s just a shout away
He’s just a shout away

I said, the Father, listens
He hears His kids who pray
He gives His gift today
He gives us gifts today
He gives us gifts today
He gives us gifts today, gifts today, gifts today, hey

[ ApologetiX – “Singles Group” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7f6QHIlCbQ


“I Feel God”
(Parody of “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown)

Whoa!
I feel God — I do that a lot now
I feel God — I do that a lot now
So what? So what?
How ‘bout you?

Whoa!
I feel Christ — His Spirit’s inside
I feel Christ — His Spirit’s inside
For life! For life!
How ‘bout you?

Man, I told you He’s my Lord
You know that I can’t do no more
And when I told you He’s my Lord
The Lord put proof in my heart

And I feel Christ — His Spirit’s inside
I feel Christ — His Spirit’s inside
For life! For life!
How ‘bout you?

Man, I told you He’s my Lord
You know that I can’t do no more
And when I told you He’s my Lord
The Lord put proof in my heart

And I feel Christ — His Spirit’s inside
I feel Christ — His Spirit’s inside
For life! For life!
How ‘bout you?

Whoa!
I feel God — I do that a lot now
I feel God — I do that a lot
So what? So what?
How ‘bout you?
So what? So what?
How ‘bout you?
So what? So what?
How ‘bout you?

Hey!

[ ApologetiX – “Transformed Soul” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlXEMBQssCI


“The Power Above”
(Parody of “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News)

The power above is a glorious thing
Baby, one man’s weakness is another man’s strength
Change your heart through a little white dove
The Holy Spirit – has the power above

Thumb through the Bible, and it’s quite clear
You’re stronger and smarter when you have God’s Spirit
If you have Him, good – if you don’t, then why?
The power above can give you a whole new life

And you don’t need money, only faith
Don’t need to sweat it ’cause the price is paid
Yes, all of a sudden in a room sometimes
Then a mighty wind blows by
That’s the power above, that’s the power above

The fruit of the Spirit it’s not grapes of wrath
It’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness
And goodness, gentleness, self-control
That’s the power above in the world below

And it don’t take money, only faith
Don’t need to study hard to find these traits
Your soul is a garden — it can bear fruit sometimes
That you’ll find in Galatians 5

The spiritual gifts God prepared
Yeah, for you to share
In First Corinthians (Chapter 12)
You’ll find a list of them
And with a little faith, hope, and love
You’ll feel the power above
Feel the power of above
Can you feel it?

And you don’t need money, only faith
Old Peter said it back in Acts chapter 8
He’s talking to Simon, he talks to us still
You don’t need nothin’ to be filled
Be filled with power, be filled with power above
Got the power? Get the power above
Be filled with power above
Be filled with power above
Be filled with power above

[ ApologetiX – “Wise Up and Rock” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDBjNGcA-ds


“Sinning Will”
(Parody of “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears)

One goes up, one goes down
Sinning will stunt your growth now
The doc can’t help your troubles if you die in sin
Christ can save you only let the Spirit within

You got nobody and you – you got no hope
Sinning will help you cope
But you’re bound for trouble and it’s – it’s death you’ll earn
Christ has paid it fully – if the sinner will turn

Did you try to dissect His lines
‘Bout the straight and narrow byway
You’d be blind to reject His signs
Just let Him climb within your life
I’m sure you’ll discover that He’s real
MINI-LEAD

Someone is waiting just for you
Sinning will dim your view
God or the devil’d like to get inside
The catch is Satan’s phony and the sinner feels pride
LEAD

Someone’s waiting just for you
Sinning will dim your view
God or the devil’d like to get inside
Christ can make you holy let the sinner decide

[ ApologetiX – “Very Vicarious” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY_9RidntCw


“Child of God”
(Parody of “Shining Star” performed by Earth, Wind & Fire)

Yeah, yeah – hey – huh
Bet you wish you were a star
You dream of fame and fancy cars, yeah
But when you’re with the Nazarene
Life ain’t always such a dream, oh yeah
What you’ll be now’s not so clear, hey
Yet to Christ you’re very dear, yeah

You’re a child of God – don’t matter who you’re not
We’re the bride to be – of Jesus, you and me – His church in unity
LEAD

Child, what’s gotten into you?
Child it’s not quite “what” — it’s “who”? Yeah!
It’s His Spirit there along, yeah
Yeah, makes His Body quick and strong, yeah
We’re goin’ to mansions of the Son — yeah
Yeah, sowin’ God’s Word to everyone
Yeah, God will help, His Spirit will move, yeah
Well, yes, He will, I got my proof, oh yeah, oh yeah
So edify yourself and read
I know you’re facin’ some adversity
Jesus Christ is greater than
Are you His? Say, yes, I am

You’re a child of God – don’t matter who you’re not
We’re the bride to be – of Jesus, you and me
You’re a child of God – don’t matter who you’re not
We’re the bride to be – of Jesus, you and me
You’re a child of God – don’t matter who you’re not
We’re the bride to be – of Jesus, you and me

[ ApologetiX – “Very Vicarious” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChjTfuFEUGQ


“Good News/Bad News”

This is a Gospel presentation and personal testimony of J. Jackson, lead vocalist of ApologetiX from their 20th anniversary concert. It’s available on 20:20 Vision.

Video (audio only): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q21Jnaq-EL8


<<< DEEP THOUGHTS >>>


“A person’s true character is often revealed in time of crisis or temptation. Make sure that you have what it takes to be your best in such times.”
[ Dr. Paul TP Wong ]

“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”
[ Robert McKee ]

“Your character defines who you are by the actions you take.”
[ Catherine Pulsifer ]

“Our character is a composite of people we have watched, experiences we have had, but completely relies on the decisions that we make.”
[ Scott Schwab ]

“It can be said that any one person’s overall character and demeanor is but a reflection of the sum total of his or her thoughts.”
[ Beau Norton ]

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
[ Mark Twain ]

“Our attitude can be seen in our character, how we approach things, what our beliefs are, our perspective on issues, how we approach life, our position on topics, basically our view on life.”
[ Catherine Pulsifer ]

“Generosity of character is important. It builds confidence by reminding you that you are a decent human being, and that you deserve any good things which might come your way.”
[ John Franz ]

“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”
[ Robert McKee ]

“Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome.”
[ Nick Vujicic ]

“Character is the result of two things: Mental attitude and the way we spend our time.”
[ Elbert Hubbard ]

“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”
[ Stephen Covey ]

“Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.”
[ Jim Rohn ]

“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
[ Albert Einstein ]

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
[ Kahlil Gibran ]

“Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis to come up with a crisis plan.”
[ Phil McGraw ]

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”
[ Henry David Thoreau ]

“Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open.”
[ Elmer G. Letterman ]

“The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.”
[ Thomas B. Macaulay ]

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”
[ J.C. Watts ]

“The true measure of your character is what you do when nobody’s watching.”
[ Charles Caleb Colton ]

“To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice”.”
[ Confucius ]

“Character is the sum total of all our everyday choices.”
[ Margaret Jensen ]

“Circumstances do not make a man, they reveal him.”
[ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer ]

“Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”
[ H. Jackson Brown ]

“Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become.”
[ Brooke Foss Westcott ]

“Maybe it did take a crisis to get to know yourself; maybe you needed to get whacked hard by life before you understood what you wanted out of it.”
[ Jodi Picoult ]

“All people—all lives—are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis.”
[ Andy Andrews ]

“You don’t know who’s good or bad until you get to that crisis point.”
[ Alex Jones ]

“Conflict builds character. Crisis defines it.”
[ Steven V. Thulon ]

“Being challenged in life is inevitable. Being defeated is optional.”
[ Roger Crawford ]

“Education at its best should expand the mind and build character.”
[ Margaret Spellings ]

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
[ Eleanor Roosevelt ]

“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”
[ James Lane Allen ]

“Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”
[ Phillip Brooks ]

“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”
[ Japanese Proverb ]

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
[ Socrates ]

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
[ John Wooden ]

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.”
[ John Wooden ]

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
[ John Wooden ]

“Circumstances don’t create character; they reveal character. Arm yourself today with the integrity of Christ.”
[ David Jeremiah ]

“Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.”
[ Horace ]

The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.”
[ Lewis Grizzard ]

“It has been said that difficulties don’t determine who we are. Rather, they reveal who we are. Said another way, the same heat that softens butter can make mud hard as a brick. It all depends on how the thing being heated responds. The same is true with the human heart. Difficulties can soften one’s heart and harden another.”
[ David Jeremiah ]

“When you get saved the Holy Spirit becomes a resident. When you get filled, He becomes the President.”
[ Author unknown ]

“Remember that grace and truth cannot finally be crucified. Remember that all the high things that make humanity beautiful cannot be forever laid in the dust, spattered with blood. And most of all, remember that He who rose from the dead, rose to pour out His Holy Spirit into human lives, and, by that Spirit, to make available to any individual all the fullness of Himself, twenty-four hours a day.”
[ Ray C. Stedman ]

“The indwelling Spirit shall teach him what is of God and what is not. This is why sometimes we can conjure up no logical reason for opposing a certain teaching, yet in the very depth of our being arises a resistance.”
[ Watchman Nee ]

“The true spirit of prayer is no other than God’s own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer.”
[ Jonathan Edwards ]

“The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.”
[ A. W. Tozer ]

“When we pray for the Spirit’s help… we will simply fall down at the Lord’s feet in our weakness. There we will find the victory and power that comes from His love.”
[ Andrew Murray ]

“The wizard [of Oz] says look inside yourself and find self. God says look inside yourself and find [the Holy Spirit]. The first will get you to Kansas. The latter will get you to heaven. Take your pick.”
[ Max Lucado ]


RELATED SCRIPTURE VERSES:

CHARACTER:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/character

CONFLICT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/conflict

CRISIS:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/crisis

PRUDENCE:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/prudence

INTEGRITY:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/integrity

CHARACTER ‘TRAITS’:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/character_traits

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/fruit_of_the_spirit

GRATITUDE:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/gratitude

GODLY CHARACTER:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/godly_character

BORN AGAIN:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/born_again

INDWELT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/indwelt

SANCTIFICATION:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/sanctification

HOLY SPIRIT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/holy_spirit


“A quick summary of the Christian “Gospel”:
JESUS’ PROPITIATION made our SINS FORGIVEN and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS to us so that we have GOD’S ACCEPTANCE into His Heaven and receive ETERNAL LIFE.”
[ Mark Besh ]


Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ’pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing. I would like to give credit where credit is due!


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He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart.”
[ Psalm 15:2 ]

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
[ Psalm 34:17 ]

“The integrity of the upright guides them.”
[ Proverbs 11:3a ]

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.”
[ Proverbs 22:1-29 ]

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
[ Proverbs 28:6 ]

“Seek the Lord while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.”
[ Isaiah 55:6-7 ]

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
[ Matthew 6:33 ]

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
[ Matthew 7:17 ]

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
[ Luke 6:43-45 ]

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
[ Luke 11:9-10 ]

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
[ John 1:12 ]

“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
[ John 3:8 ]

“Great blessings will be yours if you do them.”
[ John 13:17 ]

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
[ John 15:1-11 ]

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
[ Romans 8:9 ]

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
[ Romans 12:2 ]

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
[ Romans 13:14 ]

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
[ 1 Corinthians 3:16 ]

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you”.
[ 1 Corinthians 11:1-2 ]

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”
[ 1 Corinthians 15:33 ]

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
[ 2 Corinthians 4:7 ]

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!”
[ 2 Corinthians 5:17 ]

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
[ Galatians 5:22-23 ]

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
[ Ephesians 1:13-14 ]

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
[ Ephesians 4:1-3 ]

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
[ Ephesians 5:1 ]

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
[ Philippians 2 12-13 ]

“May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ]

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
[ Titus 2:7-8 ]

“Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
[ Titus 2:12 ]

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”
[ 2 Peter 1:5-7 ]

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
[ 2 Peter 3:9 ]

“We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
[ 1 John 3:2 ]


If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Disclaimer: All the above jokes and inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

Mark

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