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On Sunday we began a conversational journey about a word that is absolutely critical to a life that is full, whole and centered. The word is "Integrity." Integrity is something that our world and culture is in desperate need of today. The headlines are full of stories about corporate America's making financial choices that lack ethics…character…in short, they lack integrity.

To listen to the message "when no one trusts does it matter that everyone lies" go to monty's podcast

From spiritual leaders whose sexual lapses cause ministries to get rocked, to a president that lacked the integrity to own his own sexual misadventures even when he got caught…hmm…we need a primer on integrity don't we.

Even in sports, records are being broken…athletes are being celebrated…and then we learn that they used steroids to break the records and our hearts sink. "Doesn't anyone walk with integrity anymore?" Today, all we have to say is "A.I.G Bailout Bonuses" and you will get angry responses from people affected by the lack of integrity as demonstrated by the leaders of many financial institutions today.

The main reason we live in an integrity-impaired world is because we have lost the concept that we are created to live a life of -unity,- but instead, we have chosen to live a compartmentalized life convincing ourselves that we are self-contained beings, separate from everything around us, even from other areas of our own life.

When we believe and live in such a way that we think our spiritual life is separate from our physical life, or that our physical life exists apart from our emotional life…then we will also compartmentalize our roles. We will live in such a way that we think our role as a husband or wife is separate and distinct from our roles of friend or our choices at work. We might even then believe  that my sexuality is distinct from my spirituality, and then we are set for huge problems.

As God is a Tri-unity, so are we (body-soul-spirit). To live outside of the unity of our creation is to live a life where integrity is easily broken, forgotten, and then conveniently put aside for various situations.

God's desire is to re-integrate all our parts into a whole where He holds us together and infuses His integrity into us through His Son.

I highly recommend Henry Cloud's book "Integrity." In it, one key concept that is developed is the concept of our "wake." Our wake is the relational and practical experiences others have as they encounter us in our various roles in life. You can imagine that a person who leads a life of dis-integration doesn't leave a very healthy wake.

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A few key thoughts about the "wake":

1. When you are driving a boat you don't see your own wake. If you are looking at your wake then you are not looking at what is coming at you! So, by default, we rarely have any concept of what kind of wake we are leaving behind us.

2. People will experience your wake in 1 of 2 ways; either they will have fun riding your wake, or they will get slammed by your wake and bite the water hard.

3. Spiritual growth happens when we assess our wake to see whether people are enjoying and having a positive experience, or whether our actions, choices and behaviors are damaging other people's lives.

4. In order to assess your wake you must involve others to give you honest feedback. Most people don't like feedback because they are afraid of what they might hear. But we need to remember that our actions don't define who we are. Behaviors are learned and can be changed, and the process of growing in integrity does exactly that.

In order to live with integrity, there are some key concepts we need to address about ourselves. Rate yourself, or better yet, ask someone who you know and trust, someone who is for you, but will be honest, to rate how you are doing in the following 5 areas:

Trust: This is the foundational bedrock of all healthy people, teams or organizations. Where trust is hard to find, so too is integrity. In order to have a sense of trust, we need to create safe authentic environments and interactions. We live in a culture of posing, or pretending to be someone or something that we aren't. This alone creates a fracture in our integrity because we are always pretending. Eventually the wake of no-trust creates an environment of hostility and zero-loyalty. We desperately need to embrace authenticity in our relationships. When we live authentic lives, trust is built between people and the foundation for integrity is laid.

    How are you doing? 1-2-3-4-5

Truth: Trust also comes from a history of telling the truth. But we are not simply talking about telling the truth, we are talking about living in a truth-filled reality. We must assess our truth wake.  Have we bought into cultural lies, have we convinced ourselves that it is okay to be less than honest in some areas of our life? Have we compartmentalized our spiritual life, keeping it at a distance from the ethics of our work lives. In other words, are we living in a false reality or in an illusion. Denial is another word that might fit a wake that is created by the absence of truth. This is hard, but integrity needs a heart that lives in reality and not la la land. Living in la la land will never produce a life of integrity.

    How are you doing? 1-2-3-4-5

Transform: The ability to change or to transform is built upon trust and truth. When we know what our wake is and where we need to grow, and we choose to live in light of that revealed truth, we are at the threshold of experiencing transformation at the deepest levels of our lives. Transformation is a spiritual alchemical process of turning the negative elements of our lives, or wake, into changed ones. This solves problems, heals relationships, and causes the person to experience firsthand a transformed life!

    How are you doing? 1-2-3-4-5

Transcend: When we have learned to trust…accepted the truth…and experienced some level of transformation, we begin to see our reality from a much larger perspective. One of my goals as a mentor or a coach is to help people get what I call the "30 thousand foot view of life." When we get our eyes stuck on the problem, the obstacle, or the current situation, we rarely see beyond the issues towards a preferred future. To transcend means to get a new perspective…to see the problem or issue in a larger light…to get a different angle on the wake! At 30 thousand feet, you can see alternate routes around obstacles, you can see what is behind and what is ahead, you can breath knowing that there ARE other options available to you. God is transcendent, that is why we need Him and need to allow His life to infuse our own so that we too look at life with spiritual eyes and not only human eyes.

    How are you doing?  1-2-3-4-5

Tenacity:Just like it sounds…tenacity is our choice to do whatever it takes to stick with it, to not quit, to never surrender! For this to happen, we both know that we need others to help us on this area of wake work. That means that if we are to experience hope and change we must have trust, truth, transformation and transcendence! We can't get there alone. We not only need other people, but the most important relationship we must have is with God. Will power will only last so long. Friends won't always be there when you are feeling weak. You don't need more of your own strength and determination, you need to tap into an inexhaustible supply of power that will never give out! That only comes from God. Tenacity is God's gift when you trust Him with your life.

    How are you doing? 1-2-3-4-5

In my life, the deepest and truest moments of experiencing a life of integrity come because God is alive and well in my soul.

You see, true integrity has more to do with God than you. It is His faithfulness to complete in you the work He began when you first invited Him into your life (Phil. 1:6). The changes that have taken place inside of me causing me to do what I do whether it is in Burma or being an emotionally available dad, all happen because that is who Jesus is, and now He lives and infuses my soul with His life. In the book of Colossians it says, "Christ in you (me) the hope of glory."

So, to truly experience a life of integrity we must experience a cosmic transfer of God's heart for our heart. This is possible because of Jesus. So my integrity is actually His life transforming me degree by degree.

So let's go backwards then: When I give Christ all of who I am, He creates the new possibility in my life to live authentically, not pretending, because my worth and value come from Him. The opinion of others no longer determine how I feel about myself, this creates authentic relationships, and that builds trust.

Because I know that God is for me, because Christ dwells in me, I am not afraid to live in truth. In Romans 8 Paul reminds us that when we are in Christ and He is in us, condemnation, guilt and shame are gone. No matter what I have done, no matter what mistakes I have made, God's grace and forgiveness is complete and sufficient for me. So truth no longer scares me, it shows itself as an opportunity to grow so that my wake becomes a blessing to others and not a curse.

Transformation, Transcendence, and Tenacity are results of the work God has already done in the first two areas and now life is not something to dread, but an adventure to live regardless the circumstances that exist.

Apart from integrity there is no success. Apart from God there is no integrity!

Dei Gratia,

Monty

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