Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Inward - Pressing Onward to a New Year

On any given day without any real effort at all, you can find out what's going on with any church, ministry, movement, evangelical leader or denomination. All the good, bad and ugly is online for anyone to read, comment on, or write about. In Christian circles, this kind of news spreads fast. Twitter, facebook, blogs & email make it nearly impossible to miss the latest news about this megachurch ministry begging for more money, or that pastor caught doing something he shouldn't have been doing, or just about anything else you can think of. It seems the focus and the interest in what's going on in the lives of other people (whether good or bad) is rather high.

What about your own church though? Do you know as much about the inner workings of your own church, as you do about the big name ministries? I'm hoping most reading this would be able to say yes, but maybe not.

What about your own relationship with your Savior? Do you invest as much time into your own spiritual health as you might reading about what's going on with this ministry or that movement? Again, I would hope that most Christians reading this would be able to say yes, but again, maybe not. Lest anyone suspect me of finger pointing here, please be assured these questions apply to me as much as they apply to anyone else. I'm not at all proud to admit how easy it is to be distracted and discuss other people, over and above looking inward and asking yourself the same hard questions you might feel like putting to others. I think it's fairly common to set a standard for others and expect them to meet it (and often rip them up when they don't), in favor of putting ourselves on that same standard level.

Several years ago I read something by Don Whitney that addressed looking inward and asking yourself some really good questions. He wrote:

"Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going. The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings." (source)

When I first read his list of questions, I was so convicted, challenged and encouraged. I blogged it at the time, and gave some of my own answers to those questions. It was interesting to take a look at that post from over 4 years ago and see how I answered then, and how my answers may be different (or the same) today. When I first posted that, I did so as a blog meme, and since then I've seen that meme as a repost on several blogs. It's always encouraging to see that because it says to me that my fellow believers are concerned with their own spiritual health, the way we all should be.

I would greatly encourage you to go and prayerfully consider Don Whitney's questions, and as we begin a new year, may the Lord richly bless you with a newfound joy in your salvation, and a rekindled awe of His mercy and grace in your life.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe