Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Accountability - Allowing your life to have an editor!

Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron,and one man sharpens another."

Every Christian man needs loving, brotherly, relationships with other Christian men. From the basis of trust and love a NEU mann, allows a trusted friend to edit his life. While some may see accountability as a design for preventing bad behavior, "edit"ability helps you accomplish the good your life was designed for. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10) Editing means asking questions. Sounds a lot like "accountability" doesn't it? In search of the right style for editing, I searched for some sample accountability questions for men. Here's a sampling of what I found. I'd love to hear some feedback on your thoughts. Do you have at least one editor? Are you accountable to another Christian or group? What do you think of these questions? Which is your favorite set and why?

A. John Wesley’s Small Group Questions:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Am I proud?
18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
21. Is Christ real to me?

B. Wesley’s Band Meeting Questions:
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?

C. Chuck Swindoll’s Accountability Questions:
1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?
2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
5. Have you given priority time to your family?
6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?
7. Have you just lied to me?

D. Renovare Questions:
James Bryan Smith and Richard Foster have compiled a list of questions for accountability to spiritual disciplines which is one of the Renovare resources.
1. In what ways did God make his presence known to you since our last meeting? What experiences of prayer, meditation and spiritual reading has God given you? What difficulties or frustrations did you encounter? What joys or delights?
2. What temptations did you face since our last meeting? how did you respond? Which spiritual disciplines did God use to lead you further into holiness of heart and life?
3. Have you sensed any influence or work of the Holy Spirit since our last meeting? What spiritual gifts did the Spirit enable you to exercise? What was the outcome? What fruit of the Spirit would you like to see increase in your life? What disciplines might be useful in this effort?
4. What opportunities did God give you to serve others since our last meeting? How did you respond? Did you encounter injustice to our oppression of others? Were you able to work for justice and shalom?
5. In what ways did you encounter Christ in your reading of the Scripture since our last meeting? How has the Bible shaped the way you think and live? Did God provide an opportunity for you to share your faith with someone? How did you respond?

E. Five Life Questions:
1. How have you experienced God in your life this week?
2. What is God teaching you?
3. How are you responding to His prompting?
4. Do you have a need to confess any sin?
5. How did you do with your reading this week?

F. The Highway Community:
1. Did I invest the proper quality/quantity of time in my most important relationships?
2. Did my life reflect verbal integrity?
3. Did I express a forgiving attitude toward others?
4. Did I practice undisciplined or addictive behavior?
5. Was I honorable in my financial dealings?
6. Was I sexually pure?
7. Did I spend time with the Lord this week, completing the Bible reading for the week?
8. Did I pray for my pre-Christian friends? Did I talk with someone about Christ?

G. Florent Varak, a French pastor in Lyon, developed these questions:
1. What have the Scriptures revealed in your life this week:
- In terms of specific sinful behavior?
- In terms of specific sinful thoughts?
- In terms of specific sinful words?
2. What errors or lies that you once believed have now been corrected by your reading of the Scriptures?
3. What encouragement have the Scriptures given you in your daily walk?
4. What do you need to ask the Spirit of God to reveal to you that you have not yet understood?

H. Neil Cole developed a list of less specific questions:
1. What is the condition of your soul?
2. What sin do you need to confess?
3. What have you held back from God that you need to surrender?
4. Is there anything that has dampened your zeal for Christ?
5. Who have you talked with about Christ this week?

I. Dave Guiles, director of Grace Brethren International Missions developed these questions:
1. How have you sensed God’s presence in your life during this past week?
2. Have you received a specific answer to your prayers? What was it?
3. Have you spoken with a non-believer about your faith in Jesus Christ? With whom?
4. To whom have you shown God’s love during this past week?
5. What have you learned about God in your personal Bible reading this past week?
6. As a result of your Bible reading this past week, how have you determined to better obey God?
7. Specifically, what area of your life do you feel that God most wants to change? Have you taken specific steps to make those changes?
8. What good habit do you feel God wants to form in your life? Have you taken specific steps to develop that habit?

J. Paul Klawitter, a church planting missionary in France has developed the following questions:
1. What worries or other issues are you currently facing?
2. Is there an area that God is working on in your life or any sin that you would like to pray about?
3. For what non-Christian friends can we pray?
4. In your reading of the Bible: Who is God? What does Jesus expect of you? What do you think he is saying to you? How do you think you should respond?

K. Two simple questions:
1. What is God telling you to do?
2. What are you going to do about it?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Putting Others First

Not long ago I overheard my father talking to one of my children about the old “JOY” formula. You might also remember it from our Sunday School days. We were told that we should prioritize our relationships “Jesus-Others-Yourself”. I think that many Christ followers would say that the more they get to know Jesus the more natural it is to put him first. That’s what it means to make Him the Lord of our life. The question then turns to how do I put others before myself? How can I do so and make myself last? Compared to the Lordship of Jesus, this doesn’t seem to come as naturally for God’s people either. We don’t stand in line at the grocery store and let everyone go first until the cashier has no one in line except for that last humble Christian with all the JOY from letting others go first. We feel it is good enough to be polite. Perhaps, maybe, “thinking” of others first. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Galatians 5:21) In the original language of the New Testament, the word submit means “order yourself under”. Some Bible commentators say that it’s like a military command to line up in rank. It means to take action, personally, to move to a place that is under the other person. People like to be above not below. We fail to see that the place below is a place where real love and service can be shown, where we can lift others up. Typically, we “climb” the ladder of success we don’t descend on it. I’ve often asked young engaged couples why they would want to put their partner “first?” The most typical answer I hear is “Because I love her/him.” But that’s not the Biblical answer. The verse from Galatians says we do this because of our relationship with Christ. So, the JOY formula must have Jesus first and descending a ladder of success makes sense to His people. Jesus did that when He came to save us. He taught that to be great in God’s kingdom, we will learn to be the servant of all.