Stop!! . . . Or Not.

What do you do when you see a stop sign?  Do you come to a complete stop, roll through, or simply disregard it?  Why?  How about other rules or laws?  How do you decide what to obey and what not to?  What is your “acceptable level of disobedience”?

I’ve been doing a lot of walking on the area sidewalks along the river and one section of the walk is through a fairly residential section of town.  There is a stop sign at each intersection along the river road to try to keep traffic slowed down rather than having people use it as an express thoroughfare.  On a recent walk I observed about thirty vehicles come down the street and encounter the series of four stop signs.  Out of this number only one vehicle actually stopped at each sign!  Most treated the signs as simply a suggestion — or perhaps as a yield sign.  They slowed down and appeared to look for approaching traffic (or police cars) and then simply drove through without stopping.  A couple of them didn’t even slow down and I have no idea if they even looked for the potential of crossing traffic.

As I watched, my mind kept going to the one guy that did stop and I wondered what was different about him.  Why did he stop?  What was his motivation to obey the law?  Why do people decide to do what is right even when no one is looking and it would seem to make no difference?  Is it because of the law, or something more?

How about God’s laws?  Do we follow them?  Do we ignore them? Or do we do some version of pick and choose — keeping the ones we like and ignoring the ones we don’t?

I think the answer to the “why” of the driver at the stop sign and our own obedience to God’s commands may be unnervingly similar!  Many times we live life in the “slow down and look” mode.  If we think no one is watching then we simply go ahead and do what we want.  If someone is watching then we do the right thing for the sake of appearance or to stay out of trouble.  Our obedience to the law is based out of fear.  Occasionally we become so calloused that we don’t even care who is watching or what they think — we simply go on with what we want no matter what.

I believe the correct response in both scenarios is an obedience based on love and respect for the law-giver!  When our obedience is built on this foundation then it is never up for question.  We do what is right when people are watching and when they are not.  I believe this is how Jesus could keep the law to perfection as he lived on earth as a man — he had perfect love and respect for His Father who established all law through Him.  When I realize that God’s commands are for my good and to my benefit then I am eager to keep them even when I don’t understand why.

So what do you do when God’s Word says, “Stop!”?  When His Word says, “Go!”?  Do you slow down to see who is watching?  Do you just fly on through life and ignore it?  Or do you obey willingly out of love and respect for the One who issued the command?

I pray that you and I would be doers of God’s Word because of our love and respect for Him through our relationship with Jesus.

In prayer,

The Act of REPLY (Acts 24)

“When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.”
Acts 24:10

As we near the end of the book, I have to say it has been a joy to preach through the book of Acts!  It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply.  As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid.  Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.

As we arrive in Acts 24 in our sermon series we continue with a familiar scene as Paul will be making a defense of the gospel and his belief in Jesus as the Way!  Paul knows through the Spirit and through the prophets that he is not only heading to Rome but that trouble and hardship await him — but more importantly, he knows he has been appointed to speak of Jesus to kings and authorities so he continues the journey with boldness.  Out of all the lessons we will learn from Paul, one of the most important is about giving an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus.  With that in mind, let’s look at the Act of REPLY from Acts 24.

  • Respect:  When given the opportunity to give an answer for the hope that we have, our REPLY must be centered in Respect if we want any chance of being listened to.  When brought before the Roman governor, Felix, Paul presents his defense with respect.  His answer shows respect not only to the person he is giving a reply to, but to his accusers as well.  When Paul is brought before Felix, his accusers do their best to present themselves as friends of Rome and Paul as the enemy.  Too often, our natural reaction when falsely accused of something is to become defensive and even strike back.  We often let our emotions get the best of us and fail to reply with respect and then wonder why our answer is rarely listened to.  The example of Paul teaches us to give truthful answers but to do so with gentleness and respect.  When we are engaged in the Act of REPLY, we must make sure our answer is given with Respect for everyone involved. 
  • Explain: As important as respect is, the Act of REPLY requires us to Explain the hope that is within us!  When faced with accusations and given the opportunity to reply, Paul answers with an honest explanation of what he has been doing and what he believes.  Too often, we lack the confidence to explain because we’ve not given serious thought to what and why we believe.  When asked about our hope, we brush off a real explanation with generalizations and “meatless” answers.  What has God done in your life?  How has your relationship with Jesus given you strength and hope for each day?  What chains in your life have been broken by the power of Jesus?  The answers to these and many other questions can give you the framework to more fully explain your relationship with Jesus to the people around you.  We are able to grow in the Act of REPLY when we are prepared to Explain the hope that is within us.
  • Personal:  It is one thing to tell stories that we have read or heard, but our Act of REPLY requires that our answer is Personal!  As Paul gives his reply to Felix, he does so with a personal touch.  He tells not only of his understanding of the Law  and Prophets, but also of his personal response to it.  For Paul, scripture is not just a story to be read or told, it is a way of life to be shared.  Every Christian has a personal story of how God has impacted their life through their relationship with Jesus.  It is good to share the story of God, but our reply gains traction when that story is a personal reflection of God’s work in our life.  When it comes to living out the Act of REPLY, we would do well to gain a clear understanding of how God has been involved in our life in a very Personal way.
  • Listen:  One of the keys to an effective REPLY is the ability and willingness to Listen!  Paul is able to tailor his reply because he has taken the time to listen to the accusations against him.  Too often, we spend so much time and energy working on a good reply that we fail to take the time to actually listen to what the question is.  We think we give an irrefutable reply, yet when it doesn’t match the real question we are left wondering where we went wrong.  When we spend time with people, we must listen with our ears but also with our eyes and with the Spirit God has put within us.  It is when we truly listen that we come to understand in each situation how best to give an answer for the hope that we have.  The Act of REPLY will always be weak and ineffective until we truly learn to Listen.
  • Yield:  One of the problems we have with the Act of REPLY is that we must Yield the results to God.  It is easy to think our answer is so brilliant and right on target that everyone would accept the message with gladness.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.  Every person has to choose what to do with the reply you give — to either accept it or reject it.  Paul seems to do everything right in his reply to Felix and even appears to get his attention and make him curious about The Way Paul pursues God.  Yet the short-term result is that Paul continues to be held by the Roman authorities and remains in prison for the remaining two years of Felix’s rule.  Paul had learned to yield the results to God because he knew that God’s desire for people to turn to Him was even greater than Paul’s desire that they would do so.  When living the Act of REPLY, it is important to Yield the results to God and remember that He desires all people to come to repentance and turn to Him.

So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of REPLY?  Do you approach everyone with Respect?  Do you understand the hope that is in you well enough to Explain it to others?  Are you comfortable enough with the name of Jesus and His work in your life that you can make your answer Personal?  Will you put the necessary effort into really Listening before you reply?  Are you willing to Yield all outcomes and results to God?  I pray that your involvement in the Act of REPLY will boldly show, and tell, the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!

The Act of ANSWER (Acts 22)

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15

After having the month of August off, it is a joy to return to preaching through the book of Acts!  It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply.  As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid.  Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.

As we arrive in Acts 22 in our sermon series we find Paul publicly giving his testimony as a result of being arrested for being at the center of a riot.  Paul seemed to understand what Peter would write about being ready to give an answer — even in times where it might seem safer to just blend in and not speak up.  As we seek a greater obedience to living the word of God, we must also be ready to give an ANSWER.

  • Acknowledge:  As we prepare to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us, it is important that we acknowledge we started at the same place as the person who needs to meet the hope we have.  Paul begins his defense — his answer — in chapter 22 by acknowledging that he not only understands their concerns but for much of his life he was right there with them leading people in the very actions they were involved with.  Sometimes as Christians our answer falls on deaf ears, at least in part, because we don’t acknowledge we were once just as lost as they were.  We want to forget that part of our life.  We want to believe we have always been in a right relationship with God — but we haven’t been!  Our acknowledgement is a necessary part of our answer so that people can see there is hope for them to experience the change that Jesus offers.  When we are engaged in the Act of ANSWER, our Acknowledgement of where we’ve been can help others see they are not beyond the reach of God’s grace. 
  • Notice: For our answer to be as effective as possible, it is important that we actually notice who we are talking to!  Paul appears to do this as he chooses to address the crowd in Aramaic.  As you read the text, it is obvious that using this language gets the crowd’s attention.  Remember, this wasn’t a friendly crowd wanting to hear what the traveling preacher was saying — it was an angry mob already in turmoil over what Paul had been teaching.  If we are going to excel at giving an answer with gentleness and respect, it is imperative that we notice everything we can about who we’re talking to!  Too often we put our foot in our mouth because we’ve not paid attention to the details.  So, our mouth opens and out comes something offensive, making whatever truth we may have shared to fall on deaf ears.  When we Notice as much as possible about the people around us, God will use those details to guide our words in the Act of ANSWER.
  • Speak:  While this part of our answer should be obvious, it is often the most difficult because it represents the point of no return.  Paul writes to the Romans that faith comes by hearing the word of God and that hearing the word of God requires that someone speaks it.  Paul would not only speak as part of his answer about his faith, he would speak as much as possible in a language that his audience would understand.  A life lived fully in the hope Jesus offers will often get people’s attention but what will we do with it?  The speaking we do about our faith in Jesus must come from both our acknowledgement of where we started and from the things we notice about those we speak to.  When it comes to living out the Act of ANSWER, there does come a point where we must Speak about the incredible hope that we have in Jesus.
  • Willing:  To know these first three elements of the Act of ANSWER is good, but doing it typically requires that we ask the question of ourself, “Am I willing?”.  Even when we know the importance of the hope that we have, many times we are intimidated into not being willing to share it.  Paul had been told he would suffer much for sharing about Jesus yet he was willing to keep giving an answer because he knew it was the only way others would know about an everlasting hope.  Instead of letting fear drive our silence, we must be willing to step up and speak up every time God gives us an opportunity to share about our relationship with Him.  Are there people we are not willing to speak to because we think they’re unreachable or undeserving?  According to God, knowing the good we ought to do and not be willing to do it is sin.  The Act of ANSWER will never by attempted by us until we are Willing to be obedient to God in all things and make the most of every opportunity He gives us.
  • Expose:  There is a perceived downside to the Act of ANSWER and that is that it has a tendency to Expose both us and those we give the answer to.  When our answer is filled with the honesty and integrity that it requires, it reveals that we started at the same place as those hearing our answer — we were a sinner in need of God’s grace.  Paul’s answer to the crowd exposed to them that even in his strongest held beliefs before meeting Jesus, he was wrong.  God uses that same answer to also expose the need in the lives of those listening.  It appears that Paul was being listened to, and perhaps even had agreement from among the crowd, until his answer exposed a great sin of prejudice.  Everything was good until Paul stated that God had sent him to the Gentiles.  That was more than the crowd could stand!  Their racial prejudice was so ingrained that they would seek to rid the earth of Paul rather than accept that God desired all people to be saved.  Our answer, or lack of one, can expose just how much, or little, we believe that Jesus is the only way to God.  Who we tell, or don’t tell, can expose our layers of prejudice and lack of faith in God’s power to change anyone who would turn to  Him.  Our speaking the truth in love will many times expose the hatred, hurt, and rejection in the lives of those listening.  The problem isn’t the exposure, it is what do we do with it.  God’s call is for His light to expose, and dispel, the darkness so that mankind would no longer live and walk in it.  When done effectively, our Act of ANSWER gives out the light of Jesus so that the deeds of darkness are Exposed.
  • Respectful Rights:  As we give an ANSWER for the hope that lies within us, we do so recognizing that we have Rights that must be used with Respect.  Paul was not afraid to speak up for his rights in a respectful way in order to have even greater opportunity to speak about his faith in Jesus.  When about to be flogged in an attempt to get the truth out of him, Paul simply asks, as a Roman citizen, if doing so is right.  While some of our rights vary based on the country we reside in and the government we live under, God tells us that our relationship with Him through Jesus gives us the right to be called children of God.  Even when our rights seem to be non-existent or eroding away, do we use what we have to increase our opportunity to speak about our hope in Jesus?  When exercising our rights with respect will lead to hardship for us, are we willing to still speak up about Jesus?  Sometimes it is not so much that we have our rights taken away from us as Christians as that we have given up our rights as Christians because they create a hardship for us.  The opportunities we have in the Act of ANSWER often increase when we know the Rights given us by both God and our earthly authorities and we exercise these Rights with Respect.

So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of ANSWER?  Do you Acknowledge that you started at the same place in regard to God as those that you are giving your answer to are in?  Will you take the time to Notice everything you can about those to whom you will express the answer you have for your hope?  Can you Speak up and put your answer into words that others can understand?  Are you Willing to make the most of every opportunity?  Do you allow the light of Jesus Expose the truth about Him, about you, and about those you share with?  Will you be Respectful when you use your Rights to gain greater opportunity to share about your relationship with Jesus?  I pray that your response to the Act of ANSWER will boldly show, and tell, the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!

The Act of REASON (Acts 17)

It is a joy to preach through the book of Acts!  It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply.  As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid.  Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.

As we arrive in Acts 17 in our sermon series we find Paul doing typical Paul stuff — talking about Jesus until people run him out of town.  As he would go from region to region and city to city, even into the heart of Athens, Paul’s practice of teaching about Jesus seems to center on this Act of REASON!  Let’s look at some lessons we can learn from the example of Paul’s practice of reasoning with the people he would meet.

  • Respect:  We live in a time when it appears that people really believe the loudest voice wins every discussion.  I’ve seen people treated very poorly because others were certain everyone should agree with them if they just talked loud enough, forcefully enough, and long enough.  Unfortunately, there are times when our attempts to share about our faith come across that way.  Peter tells us that we do need to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have — but we must do so with gentleness and respect.  When Paul would reason with people about the truth of Jesus he did so with respect.  He kept at it as long as he could, teaching in both the synagogues and marketplaces as people would listen.  When he arrives in Athens, he finds a way to encourage them for their efforts while pointing out what was missing in their efforts to worship.  When God calls you to grow in the Act of REASON, recognize that God’s desire is that your reasoning with people would be done with the act of Respect.
  • Examine:  How often have you heard some version of the statement, “My God isn’t like that or wouldn’t do that.”?  One of the difficulties we have in fully engaging in this “act of reason” as we share about Jesus is that many have exchanged “giving reason for the hope that is within them” for a watered down version of “what do you think is reasonable”!  If we are going to be effective in reasoning with people in a meaningful way, we must take seriously the background work — the act of Examine.  Instead of accepting, and teaching, that which sounds reasonable, what does God’s Word say?  The Bereans are described as being of “more noble character” not only because they accepted the message but because they examined scripture to see if what Paul was teaching was true.  I believe our Christian message is often missing its power because we have accepted, and teach, that which sounds reasonable instead of examining the scriptures to see if it is really truth.  We preach, teach, and live an American gospel and not necessarily a Jesus gospel.  One example:  we have come to believe as an American society that we have certain rights from God that are an integral part of who we are as people — we’ve been endowed by our creator with the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  I suppose if you examine scripture for God’s definition of each of those terms you could make an argument for the validity of those “inalienable rights” but that’s not the way we use it.  It sounds reasonable, and even right, but it doesn’t take a very lengthy examination of scripture to see that if this “reasonable belief” is true then the apostles, the early church, and even Jesus himself missed out on even the basic rights God has promised everyone.  Anyhow, that is another sermon for another time. 🙂  The point is, we need to be diligent in examining scripture and allowing it alone to be the basis of our “reasoning” with people.   Learning to Examine scripture and test every teaching is a vital part of an effective Act of REASON.
  • Accept: Have you ever had a “discussion” with someone that went nowhere because the outcome had been determined ahead of time?  The act of REASON is ineffective at best when one party refuses to accept that the other has value of any kind.  We struggle with the act of accept because there are things people do that are completely unacceptable.  Paul writes in Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  A critical question out of this verse ought to be, “How has Christ accepted me?”.  Can I tell him, “It’s my life!  I can do what I want!  If you really accept me, you would understand that!”?  Of course not!  But many believe that is what accepting them ought to look like.  A better comparison is like an “as-is” sale.  I love auctions and typically at an auction things are sold “as-is” because they are used and the seller cannot, or doesn’t want to, verify an item’s condition.  There are times I will see something and it is obvious it needs work.  With some TLC, some repairs, and some changes it can be a very useful item but not so much “as-is”.  My purchase of it — my acceptance of it — isn’t based so much on its current condition, but on the potential value I see it having when it has been restored.  If I don’t accept it as having value beyond its current condition, rarely will I give it a second look.  Christ accepted you and I as having great value beyond the current condition He found us in.  When we see that same value in all people, we learn to accept them at a level that allows us to really engage in the act of reason with them.    When we are growing in the Act of REASON, we begin to Accept people because of the value all people have when they are restored through Christ.
  • Surrender: Do you ever find yourself at places you would just as soon not be and wonder how you got there and how are you ever going to get out of there?  Many times it is hard to surrender our will and desires to be in one place so that the act of REASON can be effective in our current location that we may not have chosen.  When it comes to sharing the reason you have for the hope that is within you, is God in charge of when and where you do that or do you decide when and where it’s appropriate?  Even when the timing of Paul’s movement from city to city seems to be dictated by angry mobs and not by his choice, he surrenders his will to God’s and goes about reasoning with the people wherever he, and they, happen to be.  God was in charge so it didn’t matter if it was the local “preaching/teaching” building, the marketplace, or the riverfront, Paul was going to reason with people about their need for Jesus.  There is also a surrender of results seen in Paul’s efforts to reason with the people.  We would like a storybook ending to all of Paul’s missionary efforts —  the people heard, they understood the reasoning Paul presented regarding the truth of Jesus, they all accepted the message, everyone repented of their sin, all were immersed into Jesus Christ, and everyone lived happily ever after! 🙂  But that is not the way it went for Paul and it is not the way it goes for us.  We need to learn, as Paul did, to do our part and trust God for the increase.  The Act of REASON lived in our life requires that we fully engage in the act of Surrender to God’s will in everything.
  • Observe:  Have you ever stuck you foot in your mouth?  Of course!  We’ve all been there — saying something that once it is out and we look around and hear it in context of where we are, it was rather inappropriate at best.  Without the element of observation, it is easy to do that even within the Act of REASON.  The act of observe works closely with the previous points.  A good practice is to look around, pay attention, and think before you say anything.  Observe a person, a family, a city, and the context so that the starting point for sharing the reason for the hope that you have makes sense with the listener.  Acts 17 gives us a great lesson in observation and then what to do with what we observe.  It was through careful observation that Paul was able to see beyond the surface elements of the city of Athens and into the heart of what was happening.  Paul could see that this was a people who longed to worship and were very religious in that pursuit — they just had no knowledge of the only true and living God.  When you take the time to observe people, pray that God would help you see beyond the surface actions and into what deep desires those actions are coming from.  It is when you begin to connect the true and holy qualities of God with how they meet the very desires a person is trying to fulfill through everything else that the act of reason begins to take hold.  To meet a person where they are at with the Act of REASON requires that you are serious in your practice of the act of Observe.
  • Notice: This is tied very closely to the act of Observe but often takes it to a finer level.  It is one thing to observe people and surroundings, it is another to notice the importance of what you see!  Paul observed many objects of worship, even one to an “unknown god”, as he walked about Athens.  What he noticed was a deep desire to worship and a longing for a God that would make Himself known to them.  Many times when we do observe people, we are so put off by what we see that we fail to notice that which we don’t see.  We condemn the pagan practices of pagans while failing to notice how those practices and desires can be key in our attempts to reason with them about the good news of Jesus.  (As a side note, we shouldn’t be all that surprised when pagans act like pagans.  It is when Christians act like pagans that we have the real problem.)  When God gives you opportunity to reason with people who are yet to be in relationship with Him through His Son, pray that God would help you to notice the real desire or need that exists under the sin that might be more obvious than the need.  By showing how God can fill that desire or need you are able to present hope because you took the time to notice.  When we spend the time needed to fully engage in the act of Notice, we often find a foundation to build on with the Act of REASON.

So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of REASON?  Do you fully and genuinely treat all people with Respect?  Do you spend the time needed to Examine scripture to be sure the answers you give others are accurate according to what God says?  Are you able to Accept all people as having great value in the eyes of God and see their potential as restored people?  Do you Surrender daily your will, location, and results to God?  Are you willing to slow down and Observe people and surroundings to have a more complete picture of who they are?  Will you pray for God’s help to Notice the importance of what you observe?  I pray that the act of REASON expressed through your life will boldly show the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!

Where’s The FIRE? (Part 3: Respect)

This is part 3 of a 4 part series entitled, “Where’s The FIRE?”

Have you ever been so focused on doing something, or getting somewhere, so quickly that someone asks, “Where’s the fire?”  Perhaps you’ve done something so well that you hear the comment, “Wow!  You’re really on fire!”  Or maybe you’ve heard it said about you, or someone else, “They’re really on fire for God!” 

As I thought about each of these, and other similar phrases, I began to wonder what is at the heart of being on fire metaphorically.  What elements are needed to reach the point of “being on fire”, particularly in my relationship with God through Jesus Christ?  Perhaps looking at some elements of a campfire can help us start, or rekindle, a relationship with God that is truly on FIRE!

In the first post of this series I wrote about the Fuel needed for a life “on FIRE” and the second post covered the Ignition source necessary.  Now we turn our attention to an important, but often overlooked, part of a campfire — and of being “on FIRE” — Respect!  A campfire can be a beautiful, warming, even a calming and peaceful thing to watch and experience.  It is a great tool to aid in relaxing, reflecting on the day, and even cooking the day’s meal!  Without the proper respect, however, the same campfire can quickly take a destructive and deadly turn.  Many fires ranging from the small grass fires to the massive wildfires can be traced back to a simple phrase, “I didn’t think it would spread — I thought I had it under control”.  A lack of respect for the conditions, purpose, and need for the fire can allow a small blaze to rapidly spread out of, and beyond, control.

So, what role does Respect have in our being “on FIRE” for God?  My first thought goes to how do we use the burning combination of God’s Word and His Spirit?  We need to have a respect for the power represented through the name of Jesus!  Throughout the Bible there were people who thought they could play with fire — literally and figuratively — and get away with it.  People thought they could manipulate the power of God for their own glory and benefit only to be “burned” in the end.  Without respect, or reverence, for God it is far too easy to attempt to put ourself into a position that only belongs to God.

We also must understand and respect the specific purpose of the fire we represent and any point and time.  Once the Word of God is ignited in our life, how we use it can bring healing and warmth to a person or harm and devastation.  We are told to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.  That verse goes on to tell us to do so with “gentleness and respect”.  Many times we need to evaluate the situation before us and determine just how big of a fire is needed!  When I build a campfire at camp, I’m always assessing the surroundings, the weather conditions, the purpose of the fire, and other elements to determine where to build the fire and how much fuel to use so that the fire meets its purpose and is useful.

Respect is the element that keeps you from “torching” someone with your use of God’s Word!  I pray that as you and I live in the power of the Word through the Spirit of God that we would do so with a reverence for God and a respect for the people around us!