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Clearing the Log Jam

April 16, 2007

Thomas Watson once wrote: “O that I might prevail with Christians to take pains with themselves in this great work of examination. …. It is the note of an [false] professor, to be always abroad, spying the faults of others; but never at home with his own heart…”

That quote that seemed especially relevant last night as I preached through Luke 6:39-49 (under the heading: “Dangers Disciples Face.”) In this passage, Jesus is speaking about the hypocritical attempt to sort out others problems without first examining ourselves.

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I explained to the congregation: “We need to clean up our act, and clear out our own dirty laundry first. Why? Because we are hardly in a position to help others with small problems, when we have larger issues to contend with. What’s worse, we’re hypocrites.”

But whilst such hypocrisy is certainly a danger to all Christians, it struck me that it is a peculiar danger to pastors. After all, we spend most of our waking hours attending to everything from ‘specs’ to ‘logs’ in the ‘eyes’ of our congregation. Yet the danger remains that we will seek to heal the wounded, whilst we ourselves are covered in sores.

So let me ask you: “Where is your place of confession? Do you have a time and a place and a commitment to get alone with God somewhere, bible in hand, prayers in earnest, to check your eyes for logs? (and your heart for lies and lust).”

Actually its been a few months since I’ve done this myself. So, whilst I was challenging the congregation, I was also chiding myself! My usual practice is to book in a couple of hours one afternoon to go to a secluded place and do some ‘eye tests.’

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Examination has to probe. Therefore I usually find that utilising direct questions helps me to confront sins and areas of lack in my own life. One list I often use was compiled by Gordon MacDonald, in his book “Rebuilding Your Broken World.” Most of these questions (though not all) I’ve found helpful to answer and pray over.

1. How is your relationship with God right now?
2. What have you read in the Bible in the past week?
3. What has God said to you in this reading?
4. Where do you find yourself resisting Him these days?
5. What specific things are you praying for in regard to yourself?
7. What are the specific tasks facing you right now that you consider incomplete?
8. What habits intimidate you?
9. What have you read in the secular press this week?
10. What general reading are you doing?
11. What have you done to play?
12. How are you doing with your spouse? Kids?
13. If I were to ask your spouse about your state of mind, state of spirit, state of energy level, what would the response be?
14. Are you sensing spiritual attacks from the enemy right now?
15. If Satan were to try to invalidate you as a person or as a servant of the Lord, how might he do it?
16. What is the state of your sexual perspective? Tempted? Dealing with fantasies? Entertainment?
17. Where are you financially right now? (things under control? under anxiety? in great debt?)
18. Are there any unresolved conflicts in your circle of relationships right now?
19. When was the last time you spent time with a good friend of your own gender?
20. What kind of time have you spent with anyone who is a non-Christian this month?
21. What challenges do you think you’re going to face in the coming week? Month?
22. What would you say are your fears at this present time?
23. Are you sleeping well?
24. What three things are you most thankful for?
25. Do you like yourself at this point in your pilgrimage?
26. What are your greatest confusions about your relationship with God?

Another list I’ve found useful, especially because it is tied tightly to Scripture, can be found over at Herald Mag. Here are the twenty five questions it poses.

1. Am I seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness? (Matt. 6:33).
2. Am I redeeming the time? (Eph. 5:16).
3. Do I have a conscience void of offence? (Acts 24:16).
4. Do I meet with brethren whenever possible? (Heb. 10:25).
5. Do I deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus? (Mat. 16:24).
6. Am I becoming transformed by the renewing of my mind? (Rom. 12:2).
7. Do I search the scriptures daily and study to show myself approved unto God? (Acts 17:11; John 5:39; 2Tim. 2:15).
8. Am I attempting to please God instead of man? (Gal. 1:10; Col. 3:23).
9. Do both blessing and cursing come out of my mouth? (James 3:10; Col. 4:6).
10. Am I a peacemaker? (Matt. 5:9; James 3:18; Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:14).
11. Am I ashamed of the gospel of Christ? (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 9:16; Matt. 24:14).
12. Do I render evil for evil? (1 Thess. 5:15).
13. Do I shun profane and vain babblings? (2 Tim. 2:16).
14. Do I behold the mote that is in my brother’s eye but do not consider the beam in my own eye? (Matt. 7:3).
15. Am I laying aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets me? (Heb. 12:1).
16. Am I stumbling my brother? (Rom. 14:21).
17. Am I provoking others? If so, is it to love and good works? (Heb. 10:24).
18. Am I holding fast the profession of my faith without wavering? (Heb. 10:23).
19. Do I love pleasure more than I love God? (2 Tim. 3:4).
20. Am I a respecter of persons? (James 2:1; 3:9; 1 Peter 1:17; Acts 10:34).
21. Am I walking after the spirit instead of after the flesh? (Ga. 5:16-18).
22. Am I putting on the whole armor of God? (Eph. 6:11).
23. Do I follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth? (Rev. 14:4).
24. Am I working out my salvation with fear and trembling? (Phil. 2:12).
25. Am I fighting the goof fight of faith? (2 Tim. 6:12).

Anyway, off to schedule this into my diary for this week. I don’t have the time, but I’ll need to make it.

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