I think we all do it from time to time.
Do what you ask? We lie to others and to ourselves.
We convince ourselves that everything is okay, and that we are “fine”…but deep down we have been lying to ourselves, convincing our hearts and minds that we need not grow or that growth is not necessary any longer.
I don’t want to pick this scab…I really don’t.
I’m afraid of what lays beneath it.
But you know what? The funny thing is the Holy Spirit doesn’t want us to settle. He doesn’t want us to become static – this Pilgrim’s Progress is very real, and very needed for all of us. I can only speak for myself, but I have recognized the times when His holy presence wanted to move me into deeper fellowship with Him while I resisted because I was afraid of what I would have to surrender. Has this happened to you too? I kept lying to myself, trying to convince my heart and mind that I had imagined the prompting, and that I was fine and not in need of fixing…oh but I was wrong.
It is very hard to face the truth of spiritual undernourishment and the necessity for us to move. It is dangerous territory when the Holy Spirit desires to penetrate our prideful hearts and even more terrifying to admit these liabilities and struggles to others around us. We might tell ourselves, “I don’t need help, I’ve got this…and even if I don’t I’m going to fake it until I do.” And so we never ask for help and sometimes we tell the Holy Spirit “I don’t want to move, I’m perfectly comfortable right here.”
When will we come to terms with our lies?
When we will confront this elephant in the room?
This is about personal holiness, not personal convenience.
The Holy Spirit desires to move us, to spur us out of our comfort and into the fire of spiritual discipline. Through this holy fire we can become further refined and purified. Perhaps some of us must walk through this purifying fire over and over again just to surrender the hidden sins of the heart. This isn’t a guilt trip by any means, this is a deep personal conviction. I believe one of the reasons our churches are dying is because we have been lying to ourselves and to each other for far too long. We have bottled up our comfort and refused to become vulnerable to the Holy Spirit. We have pushed accountability aside and desired to privately entertain the desires of our own hearts and have turned the mission of others into a self-indulged power trip.
But I don’t believe it’s too late.
I believe that there is still time.
I know the tide can turn, if we would only stop lying and start moving back into the fire.
Begin To Feel The Flames Again…
I began anew this very topic with an accountability partner recently, and I began to recognize just how far I have come in my faith but also just how stagnant I have become.
At the risk of oversharing, I was convicted in my own life because I have been neglecting the Holy Spirit’s presence. I have been ignoring His pleading. I have been lying to my heart and mind that I require no further refinement…how wrong have I been?!
I need to feel the heat of refinement again…do you?
I need to stop lying and start confession my needs…do you?
The only way our churches will grow in the right way is when we are found on our faces before the Almighty and we burn with His refinement once again.
So how about it? Are you ready to begin to feel the flames again?
For further reading, please consider this tried and true (albeit difficult confrontation of questions) approach: A word of caution, don’t ask all of these questions all at once…perhaps digest a few poignant questions at a time, then pray about this or get with an accountability partner and talk it out.
The 22 Questions of John Wesley’s Holy Clubs Over 200 years ago when Charles and John Wesley were students at Oxford University, they started a small group that met for regular prayer, bible study, and discipleship. In their private devotions, they’d use these questions to “methodically” examine their spiritual lives to help them be spiritually accountable in the faith and encourage growth in their commitment to Christ. This became the beginning of the Methodist movement. John Wesley asked himself these questions every day & recorded his responses in a journal in order that he could grow spiritually. How might a commitment to this kind of honest examination of your spiritual life sharpen your commitment to Christ? How might this kind of spiritual accountability impact the mission of Christ in the world?
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
4. Can I be trusted?
5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying or self-justifying?
7. Did the Bible live in me today?
8. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
9. Am I enjoying prayer?
10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
12. Do I go to bed on time and get up on time?
13. Do I disobey God in anything?
14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
17. How do I spend my spare time?
18. Am I proud?
19. Do I thank God that I am not like other people?
20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard?
21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
22. Is Christ real to me?
About The Holy Club ” John and Charles Wesley and a handful of other Oxford students devoted themselves to a rigorous search for holiness and service to others. The Holy Club, the name given to John and Charles Wesley’s group by their fellow collegians in mockery of their emphasis on devotions, was the first sign of what later became Methodism…
A Shorter version of this comes from General William Booth – so if you wanted to condense and ask the most relevant questions –
William Booth had 11 Questions for the Weekly Self-Examination of the Soul.
How must you answer them before God?….
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5 RSV)
1. Am I habitually guilty of any known sin? Do I practice or allow myself any thought, word or deed that I know to be wrong?
2. Am I so the master of my bodily appetites as to have no condemnation? Do I allow myself any indulgence that is injurious to my holiness, growth in knowledge, obedience, or usefulness?
3. Are my thoughts and feelings such that I should not be ashamed to hear them published before God?
4. Does the influence of the world cause me to do or say things that are unlike Christ?
5. Do my tempers cause me to act, or feel, or say things that I see afterward are contrary to that love that I ought to [show] always to those about me?
6. Am I doing all in my power for the salvation of sinners? Do I feel concern about their danger and pray and work for their salvation as if they were my children?
7. Am I fulfilling the vows I have made to God in my acts of consecration or at the penitent-form?
8. Is my example in harmony with my profession?
9. Am I conscious of any pride or haughtiness in my manner or bearing?
10. Do I conform to the fashions and customs of the world, or do I show that I despise them?
11. Am I in danger of being carried away with worldly desire to be rich or admired?
Selected material from: Chosen to Be a Soldier – Orders and Regulations for Soldiers of The Salvation Army 1977 (pp. 17-18)
Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!
Y’know . . there are some days better than others, where my personal holiness is concerned. I know we are not to base our experience upon another’s salvation, but I watch people. And the “holiest” among them fall short from time t0 time (that’s why I don’t get to judge, thank Goodness!) I do not count it defeatist, in the final analysis, to be at peace with the ultimate perfection not being mine until I step on shore. Until then, I am a debtor to His grace; with positively no excuse when I know to do better, and rebel anyway. To churchy score-keepers, the crown appears tarnished, I’m sure; God knows my heart.