John Owen—If a man teach uprightly and walk crookedly more, will fall down in the night of his life than he built in the day of his doctrine.
Several years ago, I found a book in another Barnes and Noble in Tallahassee, Florida while Teresa and I were on a spring break trip with our kids. Few books have troubled me more, in fact I cannot think of one that ranks as its equal, it was entitled Our Fathers by David France. It chronicled the abuses by the Roman Catholic Church priests who were involved in pedophilia and the cover-ups that took place in the diocese in Boston and Los Angeles and various other places. What makes the book so troubling was the fallout that was forever created in the lives of those who had been abused. When those who are in a position of spiritual authority—no matter what church affiliation it may be—the fallout continues for generations.
While these posts have been primarily about the lessons learned when church leaders fall, the most important aspect to understand is that we do things that keeps us from being in that category. It takes place when we take care of our soul. This is where it all starts, in the dark recesses of the soul. We are either a man of honor in the heart or we are not. For those who are darkly involved, it is only a matter of time before exposure will take place.
Richard Baxter—If it be not your daily business to study your own hearts and to subdue corrupt ion and to walk with God, if you make not this a work to which you constantly tend, all will go wrong in your ministry and you will starve your hearers. We must study as hard how to live well as to how to preach well.
Make it your daily business to study your heart and then be demanding of your soul. I leave you with some ways to do this. These are ways to cultivate the growth of personal holiness in your life.
1. Know and love the Scriptures. To know the Scriptures means that you will have to read them but more than just reading them, you will need to learn how to apply them in avenues of daily living. It will not take place with a hit and miss approach, nor will it take place with small blocks of time.
2. Pray! If your prayers are lacking a punch then find some helps along the way. Praying the offensive Psalms, those which are pleading with God to take care of the enemies of the soul are useful (Ps. 54, 55, 61, etc.). Old hymn books are rich sources to motivate your praying.
3. Flee worldliness! We have to actively strike against any avenue that willingly attempts to cater to appetites that are not motivated by godliness and righteousness. The challenge of our culture is ever with us because there are a thousand and one avenues that the devil will use to introduce darkness into our spirit. Materials we read, recreation we participate in, and entertainment that consumes us are all ways the heart becomes hardened with darkness.
4. Have godly friends. Who we hang out with has a great impact on our spiritual lives also. It basically sets the tone for the direction of spiritual life. There are some who are toxic to our faith and there are others who are incredibly strengthening to us in our walk.
Until next time. . .
Thanks for reading. . .