Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Joseph Alleine's Useful Questions for Self-examination

Useful Questions for Self-examination adapted from Joseph Alleine
Ps. 4:4 Commune with your hearts upon your beds.

Was I sleeping when I should have been praying?  Ps.5:3
Have my prayers been full of wandering thoughts? Jer 12:2
Have I neglected or read God's Word to not profit?Deut. 17:19
Have I digested the last sermon I heard? Have I repeated it  and prayed over it? Ps.1:2
Have I denied myself in any way this day for God? Luke 9:23
Have I overslept in a world full of needs? Col.4:5
Have I been selective about whose company I keep, including characters in the movies I watch and books I read? Prov.13:20
Have I neglected some duty or sinned against my parents or siblings? Eph.6:1-3
Do I lightly brush off my sins? Ps.38:4
Do I mourn for the sins of the land? Ez.9:4
Do I refrain from doing what I know or fear to be sin?  Ps.119:101,104
Have I prayed thoughout the day? Neh.2:4,5
Has God been far from my thoughts? Ps.16:8
Have I disciplined my thoughts? Ps.119:113
Have I nurtured pride or wrong passions?  James 4:5-7
Have I bridled my tongue? James 1:26
Have I spoke evil of no man? Titus 3:2
Has the law of the Lord been in my mouth as I sat in my house, went by the way, was lying down and rising up? Deut.6:6,7
When I have talked to people, have I said something of God and left some good savor behind? Ep.4:29
Did I sit down with a higher purpose than a pig at the trough (i.e.to fill my stomach); did I eat and drink for the glory of God?
1 Cor.10:31
Did I eat more than I needed to? 2 Peter 1:6
Did I participate in the dinner conversation with no mention of God?  Luke 7:36ff; 19:1ff
Was I merely going through the motions when I asked God's blessing and gave thanks for the food? Col.3:17
Did I work hard?1 Cor.7:17
Did I cheat anyone? 1Thes.4:6
Did I lie? Ep.4:25
Did I make promises and not keep them? Ps.15:4

I am aiming for 1,000.

Inspired by Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, I am listing things that I am thankful for.  I hit 261 yesterday.  I like this discipline because it gives me practice in something I do very poorly on my own.
Here are some of my latest entries:

249   red tulips and Abdullah chocolates for Mother's Day
250   my weakness and fear draws out your sympathy, Lord.
254   lily of the valley in a small canning jar
255   sleep on the couch to mend my deep weariness after Abigail's surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids
256   sore leg to remind me of my frailty
257   Joseph Alleine's Useful Questions to direct my repentance  (see next post)
261   new granola recipe

Envy and I have been friends too long....

In any discussion about taking dominion, the first battle ground is our own hearts.  Solomon said "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
We all know of powerful leaders who had no self control. Alexander the Great is said to have drunk himself to death,  Hitler was obsessed with chocolate cherries (liqueur-filled), and many politicians have straying eyes and hearts.
This is a huge topic, but no small issue of our heart involves thankfulness. Here I'm going to talk about one of its opposites: envy.
Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Tim Challies, admitted that he has had a long friendship with envy.  The discovery surprised him.  It disgusted him. He went on to describe the discovery of envy in himself and in Biblical characters, and God's view of it, how envy behaves and then the desires of envy, and how to kill it.
Webster's defines envy this way:
To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another 
I confess  that I have made the same foolish choice of friends. Though I did not see it,  my  envy was in coveting the leadership of men other than my husband.    I would read on family life and think that we should order our home in the same way.  I told my husband so.   As you can imagine,  he received this as criticism after criticism; a huge vote of no confidence.  Finally he asked me to stop reading those books unless we could read them together.    
One book he might not have minded me reading and studying is Shawn Lantz' Bible Study called Living with Unmet Desires.

Using biblical characters, Shawn exposes the many faces of envy or jealousy.  Because sin cripples and paralyzes us, it needs to be exposed.  And confessed.    Shawn takes us deep by identifying four core issues of a jealous heart:
  • God, can I trust You?
  • God, do You love me?
  • God, are You good?
  • God, are You just?
Ask yourself what you believe about God.  If you want to go deeper, study the Bible.  There we see God and ourselves more clearly,  and we learn to trust and know God better.   Listen to the testimony of Shawn Lantz:
Oh, my sweet friend, God's Word has absolutely changed my life.  His Word is the biggest delight of my life.  It has brought me such healing in so many places---places I didn't even know needed healing.  I respected Christ before, I was even afraid of Him and His wrath, but I have since fallen in love with Him.... It's the only relationship I have that gives me more to give to everyone else.  I can never get to the bottom of Him.  He is the most exciting, creative, beautiful, romantic, holy Being I have ever encountered and I am crazy about Him. 
I am thankful that God exposed my ungratefulness and envy, and gave me grace to see things from my husband's perspective.  Envy and I have been friends too long and I am plotting murder. If I am to rule my home well,  God must be my portion.  No one satisfies like him. Discontent comes from wanting people to be God to me. And intense joy comes in trusting that it is in perfect wisdom and justice that God has ordered my life.  He has gracious, eternal purposes in calling me to rule in this house, with this good man, and these dear children.
Taking dominion starts with keeping the heart. For God.