In mid-November, the angel tree will once again be aglow with shining lights and gift tags for 50 children from the Loudon County Schools. This is a wonderful opportunity for COS members to reach out and express our love for the children as we put our heartfelt thought, time, and energy into shopping and wrapping gifts for our chosen child.
This thank you note was received from Cindy Purdy from the Family Resource Center:
“Your sponsoring of warm winter clothing, toys, and other needed items is most appreciated and insures that our girls and boys stay warm on winter days, rest well during cold nights, and are more confident and happy because you cared. Your involvement strengthens our children, families, schools and community."
I have to confess that I'm a creature of habit and that the older I get, the more entrenched these habits become. Some of my habits fall into the category of spiritual discipline, including regular time set aside each day for Bible reading and prayer. Other habits like Saturday laundry and “Monday maintenance” (housecleaning) are the result of being married to a good woman who has her own habits that she likes to share with me. Many of my habits, however, are just routines that I have fallen into as a long-retired “old guy” with lots of free time on my hands (whenever we don’t have medical appointments). I find it useful, therefore, to periodically take the time to do some self-examination and consider whether my routines are good stewardship of the time that God has given me or just wasteful self-indulgence. We are all invited to take a good, hard critical look at ourselves in the the apostle Paul’s letter to the early church in Corinth. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV. The scrip-tures include lots of “Thou Shalts” and “Thou Shalt Nots”, but our faith is more than a collec-tion of rules that we follow to stay on God’s good side, so what should we base our self-examination on? Lisa Price is a Christian writer and educator who publishes a weekly weblog entitled “A Wise Life” which Carol and I have found to be helpful with insights into Christian living. Her weblog posted on April 24, 2023 entitled “Spiritual Self-Checks” addressed this issue and I wanted to pass this excerpt along to you; here are her spiritual checklist items.
Am I in the faith? Being in the faith is about more than praying a sinner’s prayer “once up-on a time”. It’s also about more than church attendance. One can attend church and even lead a church and still be very much outside the faith (Matthew 7:22-24). When we are “in the faith” we seek God on a daily basis, we actively seek to disentangle ourselves from sinful atti-tudes and behaviors. Being in the faith means going out of our way to shore up the weak areas in our spiritual lives. Lastly, those in the faith make church and friendships with other believers a priority (Hebrews 10:25, James 5:16, 1 John 1:7, 2 John 1:5).
What do my relationships look like? The state of our closest relationships is oftentimes an indicator of our spiritual health. If that life is strewn with relationships that have been damaged or broken due to our willful sin, selfishness, rudeness or lying. We have a problem that needs immediate attention or our Nebuchadnezzar moment may be right around the corner (Proverbs 11:3, Hebrews 12:14, 1 Peter 2:17, Ephesians 5:21-22, Ephesians 5:25-28, Ephesians 6:4).
Am I walking in integrity? The best and most basic definition of integrity is being the same person all the time. People with integrity are not chameleons who adapt to fit into whatever situation they happen find themselves in (Proverbs 10:9). Integrity is closely linked to fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). If we truly believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, then we will do our level best to stay within the lines He has drawn for us. If we don’t, we won’t.
Is there any area of my life I’m hiding from God or other people? If there is a part of our life we feel we need to keep on the down-low we most definitely have a problem that requires our immediate attention. Openness and honesty are the hallmarks of a holy, God-fearing people (Romans 13:12). What does my thought life look like? Our thoughts determine our actions and our actions determine the course of our life (Matthew 15:18-20, Mark 7:20-22, Ephesians 2:3, Hebrews 3:1). Therefore, every Christian ought to pay attention to what types of thoughts rou-tinely flit through their head. If we frequently think mean, lustful, judgy, angry or greedy thoughts we need to spend some time asking the Lord what’s at the root of these attitudes. Then we need ask God to reorder our thoughts and give us the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16,
We all have different strengths, weaknesses, priorities, life-experiences, and circumstances, so we are all bound to have different approaches to self-examination. However, we all share a common sin-guilt and a common Savior so our self-checks (whatever form they take) should be based on how God sees us and what He has revealed about His will for us. It’s also important to remember that our salvation doesn’t depend on our self-checks. That is a gift from God that we don’t have to earn and can’t earn. The more time we spend, however, in fervent prayer, sincere worship, and thoughtful Bible study, the more likely our self-examination will be to produce good fruit and enrich our earthly lives. I think that Lisa Price’s checklist is a good start. What do you think?