02/27/15

Permalink 08:18:14 am, Step(s): 04 Introspection, 285 words   English (US)

Healthy Moral Inventory

"There's nothing wrong with me. It's everyone else that's messed up!" Have you ever seen that kind of attitude in others? Have you ever felt that way yourself? I sure have -- on both accounts.

It's easy to compare ourselves with what we see in other people. When we do that, it may temporarily make us feel better about ourselves. So, we rationalize more and more of our bad behaviors. Since "Joe Blow is a lot worse than me", I must be OK. But this arrogant way of thinking is not helpful to our relationships or to our sense of well-being.

When I consider the pure life of Christ and His great moral standard written in His Holy Law, my life doesn't look so good. It is only with this perspective that I can begin to judge my true moral condition.

Of course, there is danger in this approach too. When I realize just how far I am from being like Jesus, it can be a real downer. The powers of evil would love to take this opportunity to sink me into depression and to trigger even worse behavior, pulling me even further from Jesus. But that is not what we need.

There's a ditch on both sides of the road. We need to stay out of both the ditch of complacency and the ditch of depression. So, what would be the middle-of-the-road approach? I need to be aware of my strengths and my weaknesses and deal with them in healthy ways. By God's grace and power, He can turn my weaknesses into strengths. That's why He said, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9 ).

"Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that hath endured such gainsaying of sinners against themselves, that ye wax not weary, fainting in your souls. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: and ye have forgotten the exhortation, which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:1-7 )

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)

12/05/14

Permalink 07:14:47 am, Step(s): 04 Introspection, 396 words   English (US)

The Morning After...

"Have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

'My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.'

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?" (Hebrews 12:5-7 )

It was the morning after the evening of my first victory in Jesus when it was as if my whole sinful life passed before me. God brought back to my conscious memory all of my sinful thoughts and actions of my previous 25 years of practicing my addictions. The realization of the depth of my wretched life of sin was nearly overwhelming.

For years I knew that I was powerless over my addictions and that my life was out-of-control, but this was different. This was a deep, heart-felt inventory of my dreadfully sinful condition. I am extremely thankful that God didn't lay this heavy load on me before my first victory through surrender to Jesus. If He had, it would likely have crushed me, since I had no hope of ever conquering my evil behavior.

But that wasn't the case now. I had the keys to victory. I had experienced (for the first time in my life), absolute surrender to God in the midst of temptation. And, even though it was extremely hard to face my past, I knew that Jesus was holding my hand. I knew that I no longer had to live in my past, but instead I could move on to a brighter tomorrow, through constant surrender of my will to Jesus. Praise God!

I have no other explanation as to why this spiritual inventory happened, other than it must have been God. Looking back to that experience now, I see that it was an absolute necessity that I go through the pain of being totally honest with myself about my condition. It prepared me for the next conviction that God soon brought to me.

"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9 ).

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)

09/12/14

Permalink 08:50:12 am, Step(s): 04 Introspection, 372 words   English (US)

Look into the Eyes of Infinite Love

It has been said that our eyes are the window to our soul (Matthew 6:22-23 ). Does it make you nervous when people don't look you in the eye? It does me. It especially bothers me when a dog won't look me in the eye. I once had a dog like that. I couldn't trust him. If there was anyway he could get through the gate or over or under the fence, he'd be gone. He wouldn't even think of coming when I called. A dog I have now is just the opposite. He always looks me in the eye. It's as if he is trying to see what I'm thinking. If I give him the look he wants, he's immediately in my lap. We're nose to nose and he's expecting some loving attention.

I want to be more like my dog in my relationship with my Benevolent Master. As I look into His eyes of Infinite Love -- though I only see dimly now (1 Corinthians 13:12 ) -- I always find the look that I want. It's the look of acceptance, no matter how bad my behavior has been. It's the look of understanding, having been tempted in all points like I am (Hebrews 4:15 ) (Hebrews 2:18 ). It's the look of compassion. It's the look of forgiveness. It's the look of unconditional Love.

More than all of this, when I look into the eyes of Love, I see the eyes of Infinite Holiness. I am thankful for the dimness of my vision, for no sinful being, with clear vision, can look into the eyes of Holiness and live. Saul, on the road to Damascus, was blinded by only a partial exposure to the Holy eyes of Jesus (Acts 9:1-6 ). The contrast between the light of Holiness and Saul's character was so extreme as to cause a searching moral inventory of his sinful life.

And so it is with me. I no longer fear to look into His eyes of Holiness, because I trust Him to dim my vision so that I will only see as much as He gives me strength to bare. And I trust Him to clean me up, as I cooperate with Heavenly agencies. That's my God! You can trust my God :-)

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)

06/20/14

Permalink 08:27:29 am, Step(s): 04 Introspection, 459 words   English (US)

Chart a New Course

Planning trips can be most enjoyable, because of the anticipation of seeing (and learning) new things or maybe even enjoying again, places we've been before.

When I travel, it's not a fearful thing for me to look at the map to study where I've been, where I am, and to plan where to go next, and how to get there. In fact it's fun thing. Occasionally, it can be painful because I made a wrong turn, or failed to make the right turn. It may even cause frustration to my passengers, or to those who may be waiting for me at my destination. But, it's always good to get back on the right road and continue on toward my destination.

So, why then are we so fearful (when we travel the road of life) to study the map of where we've been, where we are, and where we want to go? Why do we naturally shrink from the idea of charting a new course for a better life?

"... My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:5-7 )

It is painful to remember where I made wrong turns in my life, and how I caused pain for other people. But I must remember that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 ). It's like getting back on the right road again, and that's a good thing :-)

Why should I continue to drive in circles around the polluted slums of the inner-city, when I can follow the road map to the beautiful forests with fresh air? Likewise, why should I continue to live in the guilt and shame of the past when God has provided a road map to a better, more fulfilling life?

Why should I be fearful of taking inventory of my life -- no matter how dysfunctional it has been -- no matter how low I've sunk in depravity? God has a thousand ways to untangle our sinful lives and to make us new creatures in Christ. Won't you join me today in making a fearless moral inventory?

Let's chart a new course today that will bring us a more fulfilling life. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" (Romans 8:31 ). So let's plan our trip to Heaven...

"... I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end... Call upon me, ... and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall... find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And... I will turn away your captivity" (Jeremiah 29:11-14 )

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)

03/28/14

Permalink 08:13:40 am, Step(s): 04 Introspection, 174 words   English (US)

Why Introspection?

As Christians, we believe that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 ). So, why then should we make "a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves"? Doesn't God just erase our past? No. He forgives and cleanses, but He doesn't give us amnesia.

It's been said that, the most powerful thing we can do for the kingdom of God, is to witness to others of the way that God is working in our lives to heal our dysfunction. If that's true, then how are we going to do that if we can't remember what our dysfunction was? How are we going to overcome, not only by the blood of the Lamb, but also by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11 ), if we have no testimony of what we used to be like?

I know that, for me, I have a choice. Either I can choose to continue to evaluate my life (and deal with it), or I will revert back to the insane cycle of repeating the same negative behaviors over and over again, while expecting different results.

"Look therefore whether the light that is in thee be not darkness. If therefore thy whole body be full of light, having no part dark, it shall be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light." (Luke 11:35-36 )

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)

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