03 September 2008


Remember Harper Lee's small-boned, big hearted book To Kill A Mockingbird? What was it about? Racism? Character? Justice? Family? Truth? Forgiveness? Discovery? Faith? Integrity? All these things and more flowed out of Harper's soul and pen as she scribed the novel of her lifetime. Scout, Atticus, Jem, Dill, Tom, and Boo showed us their vulnerability and their flaws, their losses and their pains, their hopes and their dreams. Real people living real lives, smack dab in the middle of real chapters of temptation, crisis, and testing.

And the character and integrity I was schooled in by looking into the stories of the people Lee introduced to me so many years ago, reflect much of what I want to see alive and straining for greater life in myself and in the people who make up the flock of seeking Christ-followers I serve in Newberg, Oregon.

Some sectors of society and culture say
character and integrity come from breeding, education, money, and title. Some religions say that they come from a faith based in works, or from hidden-until-you're-good-enough knowledge attainable by only the chosen few, while still others says they come from an obedience both blind and unquestioning.

So where do character and integrity
come from? I've come to believe that they come from what we cherish, from what we hold close, from what we treasure. Here's how Jesus put it in MATTHEW 6:21 ...

"The place where your treasure is,
is the place you will most want to be,
and end up being." (THE MESSAGE)

To Kill A Mockingbird Jem shares with Scout treasures he'd been finding (receiving?) and stashing in an old cigar box, making her promise "to never tell anybody." A crayon, an old pocket watch, marbles, a whistle, a spelling medal, and a pocketknife ... all things he'd found in the knothole of a tree ... things left for him in an unlikely place by someone he believed knew him and cared about him.

Eventually, in the knothole, Jem and Scout also find two carved soap figurines - one a boy, and the other a girl with a simple cloth dress. And it doesn't take long before they realize that the playthings they've been given resemble themselves ...

"Look, the boy has hair in front of his
eyebrows like you do ... Yeah - and the girl
wears bangs like you - these are us!"

Friends, let's be careful about where we find our treasures, from whom we receive our treasures, what we keep as our treasures, and how we live into and pass on our treasures. Our treasures will define us. May we find our treasures solely in the person of Jesus Christ.

And may it be His character, and His integrity growing inside of us and flowing out of us, that shapes our lives, drives our mission, transforms our priorities, and our builds our dreams. God knows us and gives Himself to us in spite of what He knows. Astounding. What defines you?
What's in your cigar box? Godspeed.



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