Meanderings of a Minister


Use It Or Lose It
November 6, 2017, 12:57 pm
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I went to the doctor recently for a problem with my elbow.  It seems that my elbow has gotten sorer over the past several years.  While it really did not limit me much at first, it has gotten progressively more irritating.  It is now to the point that I cannot straighten out the elbow to its full extension.  The doctor I saw told me that I will never get the mobility back because my body has adjusted to the lack of extension and has made adjustments that now prevent it from being used as it was fully intended.

As I reflected on this, I thought about how this is analogous of many other parts of life as well.  When we are dating, we communicate ad nauseam with our intended.  We talk about anything and everything just to be together, learn about each other and because we enjoy the sound of each other’s voices.  If we are not careful, over time, we stop communicating at this level and, twenty years later, we find ourselves in need of counseling because we just can’t communicate anymore.  We didn’t use it, so we lost it.

Sharing our faith also works this way.  Chances are, when you first became a believer, you were so excited about your new life in Christ that you wanted to tell everyone you came in contact with.  Over time, you began to become worried about offending people, what they would think of you, etc.  Now, you cannot remember the last time you shared your faith and to even think about doing so causes your adrenaline to flowing because you are afraid.  You didn’t use it, so you lost it.

This can also be the case when it comes to attending church.  As a kid, you went all the time because you were drug to church.  You went a little bit right out of high school, but then you fell away.  Now, you sometimes think about attending church, but can’t get out of bed to do so.  You didn’t use it, so you lost it.

The list could go on and on.  You used to exercise, but now huff and puff up the stairs.  You used to lift weights, but now a push up with be a challenge.  You used to watch your weight, now you watch your waist.  You used to read regularly, now you don’t have time because you have the tv, internet, computer and sleep to take up the time.  You didn’t use it, so you lost it.

Unlike my elbow, everything listed above is recoverable.  How do you recover that which you have lost?  First, you ask God to help you find it.  Second, you begin to do it again.  At first, it will seem awkward and maybe even make a little uncomfortable or sore, but you need to push through the discomfort and continue.  Lastly, you have to make it a regular part of your life again and make sure that it remains the priority you want it to be.  Who knows, maybe I will get to use my elbow, I can communicate with my wife better, I will be more consistent with sharing my faith, and I might lose some weight and keep it off.

What did you used to have, but lost it due to non-use?  What will you do about it?

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Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health

Don Whitney, in his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, gives the following ten questions as a means of determining if you are growing in your faith, treading water, or actually backsliding:

  1. Do you thirst for God?
  2. Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
  3. Are you more loving?
  4. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?
  5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
  6. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
  7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
  8. Do you still grieve over sin?
  9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
  10. Do you yearn for Heaven and to be with Jesus?[1]

Chances are very good, if you are like most Christians, you have not really spent much time thinking about these things lately.  Whitney suggests that these questions provide a sort of spiritual pulse in the life of a growing believer.  If you answered know to most or all of these questions, you are probably spiritually backslidden, or perhaps not yet a believer.  If you answered no to some of the questions, but not most, you may be seeing the beginning of a spiritual growth problem.  If you answered yes to all of the questions, honestly, then you are growing and are probably relatively healthy.  If you are offended to be asked, you probably have some other issues.

“So what do I do if I am not doing so well in growing spiritually?”  I am glad you asked!  Jesus addressed this in his letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:5 “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.”[2]  The best place for you get help in these and other matters is your local church.  I am not saying you must go to my church in order to grow.  That would be prideful and ridiculous!  But you must attend a Bible-believing church that preaches and teaches and disciples people in the Word of God.  With the holidays on us shortly, what a great time to plug in to a local church and get started making some good habits that could just make this your best year yet!

[1] Donald S. Whitney, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2001.

[2] New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA, 1995.