Testing the Grinch Within

Teddie’s out of the office for her annual year end vacation this week and next. That means, among other things, I get to type up and send out the connect card prayer requests. No big deal. Glad to do it.

Among the requests that went out to the leadership team were my own. They included this one: for my servant heart – our son and grandchildren are in town for the week.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are multiple joys attached to the yuletide invasion of Joel and his tribe. But it also tests the reality of the gospel in my heart during an already busy time of year. And I can find myself easily irritated and Grinch-like.

For example, I went to take a shower earlier today. All I ask for is a relatively few minutes of uninterrupted, hot water streaming from above until I get myself clean. Any idea how hard that is to come by with four extra people in the house, three of them children?! It amazes me how little patience I can have with inconvenience. Perhaps I should have gotten that prayer request out on Monday instead of waiting until today!

Jesus warned against sins of hypocrisy (Matt. 7:5). I seem never to be far from putting on airs or keeping up masks in my flesh.

One thing that helps is focused self-examination, always, of course, under the lavish grace of the gospel.

Recently I came across this test for self-evaluation proposed by John Wesley for waging war against hypocrisy.

Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I’m a better person than I really am? Do I laugh at the mistakes of others, reveling in their errors and misfortunes? Do I insist on having my own way? Is there a tendency for me to put others down so that I’ll be thought of more highly? Do I pass on to others what is told to me in confidence? Am I thoughtful in expressing ‘thanks’ to people for what they’ve done for me, no matter how insignificant it seems? Am I a slave to dress, a slave to friends and their opinions, a slave to work or habits? Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying? Did the Bible live in me yesterday? Did I disobey God in anything yesterday? Did I insist on doing something about which my conscious was uneasy? Did I handle discouragement well or did I have to be coddled? Am I enjoying prayer? When did I last speak to someone about Christ? Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize or hold resentment toward? If so, what am I doing about it? Is Christ real to me?

Frankly, I don’t ever want to take a walk down a road lined with signs asking those questions without gospel grace bracing me from condemnation. Still, giving ourselves to this kind of disciplined testing of ourselves to see that we are in the faith is commended to us in Scripture (2 Cor. 13:5) and and can reveal to us some measure as to how much the gospel is working itself out realistically in our every day lives.

Might 2013 be a year where at least once or twice a week we take a test for self-evaluation and not just at Christmas? Here’s to keeping the Grinch at bay and granting Jesus free reign.

How Not to Waste a Serious Call to Consider Our Ways

Sunday #2 of 5 in our capital fund raising campaign for our building program is now history.

Praise God for fourteen intercessors that evening seeking God at the church office. We pleaded with Him to help us as a people not waste the serious call to consider our ways as commanded by the prophet in Haggai 1:5 & 7.

The second sermon in the series is now available on our website. You can access the audio file here. The text is Haggai 1:12-15. Here is a synopsis of the message:

Here is the banner we need to wave high over our capital campaign and eventually, Lord willing, over our construction project – Zech. 4:6 – Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Church, we are no more equipped or strong or numerous or rich to pull off a 2.5 million dollar building effort than these poor rabble were to rebuild Yahweh’s glorious temple, unless God stirs us up for the task. I can’t do that for us. The elders and deacons can’t. God alone can do this. This is what we need to ask for and see if we are to move ahead and succeed. Move ahead or not, I beg of you, let us not waste this serious call to consider our ways, even as the people of Israel did not. Make the most of this opportunity. Respond positively to the invitation. Listen for God to speak through His word. Look for God to support through His promise – I am with you. And live for God to stir up through His Spirit. Make these five weeks count. Exchange hours on Facebook for time on your face before God in His word. He will speak. However He does, through whatever promises He encourages, and in whatever way He stirs us to act, let us do all for His pleasure and glory and our great joy.

Be encouraged church of God. I received a gift of $1000 from OUTSIDE our church this week toward the campaign. This is only the beginning. God is working. He relishes the faith upon which we are acting and praying (Heb. 11:6).

A Serious Call to Consider Our Ways

This morning’s sermon from Haggai 1:1-11 is now on the website. You can listen to the audio here.

By way of recap, I summarized the message this way:

The challenge to build anything for God and glory of His kingdom compels us to a rigorous examination of our everyday commitments and priorities as a people belonging to Him – in light of the demands of our God in His word, the dissatisfaction of our hearts in this world, and the difficulties of our circumstances in these times. Let us give ourselves to zealous reflection and examination regarding the supremacy of God in our lives. Let each of us do what He tells us in terms what commitments we can or cannot make over the next three years to sacrificial giving toward a facility for Orlando Grace Church. And remember, let us rely on the power of the gospel of Jesus as a people liberated from sin and selfishness by the work of the cross and the filling of the Spirit in our lives to seek first the kingdom and His righteousness for His glory, our joy, and the joy of others who will come to know Him as a result.

Day one of our capital campaign is nearly over. Will you join me in responding positively to a serious call to consider our ways?