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Archive for the ‘spiritual accountability’ Category

Wikimedia Commons imageToday for our youth discipleship time (we do this once a month), our associate and senior high pastor (and over the children/youth overall), Larry Fraser, came up with an interesting challenge for youth and adults alike: go into Dollar General and pick out something costing $2 or less which represents your walk with Jesus Christ over the last month.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here’s what my two boys selected and what they said:

James, who picked a dog figurine:

I picked a dog because I need to be more obedient to God. He has been showing me over the last month that I haven’t been as obedient to Him as I should be.

Turtle, who picked a “Chinese finger trap”:

I picked the finger trap because it feels like sometimes Satan is trapping me, but then God frees me.

Since I participated, too, I picked watercolor paint. In the last three months, God has really showed me I need to re-embrace my creative side. I’ve been extremely analytic and technical in recent years and I’ve missed the artistic side of me. I’ve started actively practicing my flute not just to play, but to improve my musicianship once again. There’s a substantial difference between the two. I’ve been writing poems again and I’m in the process of writing a play for the youth choir. And I feel great doing it all because I know this is the direction God would have me go. It’s helping to balance me out, and I’ve needed to do so for a while.

So if you’re reading this and you’re a Christian, take the challenge. Seriously consider how your walk with Jesus has been over the past month. Walk into a dollar-type store and find an item that reflects that walk. If it has been fruitful and strong, keep that item as a reminder to maintain. If it hasn’t, use that item as a motivator to grow closer to God in the coming days.

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I believe this is one of the most inspiring, challenging, and humbling books I have ever read, all rolled into one. I was eight years old when Keith Green died and I didn’t become a Christian until about 12 years later. So I hadn’t heard much about Keith Green until the last couple of years. I kept coming across his name and grabbed his greatest hits album to listen to and was floored. His passion was evidence and his words were powerful. They cut right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian. So I started doing a little more research on Keith Green and came across his biography, No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green, written by his widow, Melody Green.

Keith Green was always talented. He almost made it as a secular musical artist as a teenager. But that wasn’t in God’s plans, though Green wasn’t a Christian until his adult years. Melody does a good job of chronicling the struggles the both of them went through trying to find answers spiritually and how every path left them with no real answers until they found Jesus Christ. Even that was a fight given her Jewish background and Keith’s Christian Science one. But once Keith accepted the truth of the Gospel, he was desperate to give himself wholly to the Lord. And that’s why Keith Green’s life and witness were so powerful for the short time he was here.

His music is awesome and the lyrics are unbelievable. But they pale in comparison to the ministry Keith Green did outside of music. This biography certainly covers the music, but it covers so much more. It covers the communal ministry he and Melody built which became Last Days Ministries, the outreach to Mexico, and the work with Youth with a Mission. There is a lot of coverage of his spiritual struggles to live up to everything he felt God calling him to be. Melody took relevant journal entries of Keith Green during those periods in ministry so we have what he was thinking, what he was praying over, and what he felt led to do.

This book has certainly made me think about the kind of effort I’m giving for the Kingdom. It has also challenged me to be more diligent in prayer, spending more time with my Savior. And finally, it has reminded me that life is short and we can’t postpone things that need to be doing just because we don’t feel up to it. There is so much hurt, so much pain, and so many needs in our world. As  Christians, we are called to minister and be there for them all. Keith Green understood that and the last few weeks of his life were all about starting a movement to do just that.

If you are a Christian and want inspiration, read this book. If you are a non-Christian and want to see what a “real” Christian’s life and thoughts should be, read this book. If you find yourself struggling with who you are and what God has for you, read this book. It’s worth the time to finish it.

 

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I was first introduced to the concept of a small accountability group during the time when the Promise Keepers movement was big news. I understand the importance of such a group. After all, the members of the group are to:

  • Pray for each other.
  • Help share each other’s burdens.
  • Encourage one another in their walk and in their relationships.
  • Hold each other accoutable.

But I never found myself in a real accountability group until a few years ago, when we had one, sort of, in combination with a men’s Bible study. However, after we finished the book we were looking at, the Bible study ended, and there was no continuation of the group. It is something I wanted, something I needed, but nothing really formed. Even when I was in the group, it was hard, because I know there’s not a whole lot of folks like me. IT folks in general are generally misunderstood and then when you throw faith on top of it, it’s just not a common combination. Therefore, it can be hard for others to understand what I’m thinking, how I’m thinking, etc. That makes it hard to have a solid accountability group because how do you bear the burdens of someone whom you really don’t understand very well?

After a lot of prayer, I felt God leading me to reach out to a group of men similar to me that I knew and just talk via email. The group started sharing a bit more via email, via Twitter, and some via phone. It started to have the feel of an accountability group, but without the gathering together and without the accountability. All of us are technologists and we’re scattered all over the East Coast of the United States. Getting together regularly in a physical location is not an option. But I really felt like God was saying, “You guys should be forming a group.” And that’s where technology comes in.

We have access to LiveMeeting, which is Microsoft’s on-line meeting solution. So we scheduled a meeting via LM, gathered together, and had a virtual meeting to discuss the group and where we wanted to go with it. Now, if you don’t have access to LiveMeeting or a similar technology, a lot of cell phone carriers are making it free for you to call other cell phones. So if you can conference everyone in, you can at least getting everyone talking together. In our case, LiveMeeting permits us access to upload slides which everyone can see, to turn our webcams on (and the guys saw how much hair I now have… still working towards donating again for Locks of Love), and to do whiteboarding and the use of a text editor like function to write notes everyone can see.

I put together a small agenda, which was basically:

  • Meet and greet
  • Opening prayer
  • 3 Minute Turbo Testimony Time – So everyone could know each other’s salvation experience.
  • Open discussion
  • Short devotional – We used Hebrews 10:23-25
  • Discussion of the covenant
  • Intercessory prayer
  • Closing prayer

 

The rules on the 3 Minute Turbo Testimony were:

  • 3 Minutes
  • No Churchy words
  • No worse than PG-rated

 

And the covenant we agreed to with each other are:

  1. I will pray for each brother in this covenant.
  2. I will be open and honest with my brothers who I have made this covenant with for the purposes of accountability. I will hold my brothers accountable according to God’s standard.
  3. I will not share what I have learned from my covenant brothers unless I’m given permission or unless I feel someone is in danger of being harmed or has been harmed, including my brother.

 

During this time we discussed what was going on each other’s lives, where we were struggling, books we’ve read recently that have inspired us, and things going on in some of the activities some of us share together. It was a great start. Now the proof we’ll be how well we do as a group in the days ahead. Accountability is a big thing. As a result, we’ll look to ask some form of the following questions every time we get together:

  • Are you spending time alone with God?
  • Is your thought life pure?
  • Are you misusing your power?
  • Are you walking in total obedience to God?
  • Have you lied about any of the previous questions?

This list comes directly from Promise Keepers and other groups I’ve known about have used these to hold each other accountable. The first time we’ll put into use is at our next meeting. But knowing that I will have to answer to these questions when next we meet will be an extra reason to resist doing things that would cause me to have answer these questions in a way I wouldn’t want to and “face the music” of my brothers who will be holding me accountable. And that, to me, is an encouragement and a blessing.

Let me close this post on the size of the group. Accountability groups are supposed to be small. That way you can really get to know the men who are in the group with you. That leads to more openness and that also means members of the group realize when something is going on and someone isn’t being open. Getting to know the other men well means you have a vested interest in looking after each other. All of these things become harder and harder as the group grows in size. I think with a virtual group, the size needs to be even smaller. It’s harder to get everyone together and it’s harder to talk with a bunch of people on a shared line without the visible cues that someone has something to say. So we’re 4 in size, and I think that works for us. I don’t know what the maximum size is, but this has a good feel to it.If you decide to try a virtual accountability group, your mileage may vary.

 

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