Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Examen (for regular people)


The Examen (for regular people)

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” [Psalm 145:18]
Reality of the struggle… we feel we fall short… solution to plow through life unexamined. 

[Ill. Gardening when I was in high school… dig, plant, wait… trouble is that while I waited I had to work to deal with the weeds.  Spiritually the same thing; if we don’t weed then we will get choked.  Simply put: we sin, we suffer.]

“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. [29] For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” [1 Corinthians 11:28]

***** An examination is a test.  It requires we prepare and set our mind and energy toward doing as well as we can on the test.  Paul is telling the Corinthians, you can examine yourself or fall under condemnation for living an unexamined life. *****

HOW?  Ignatius (founder of the reform movement know as the “Society of Jesus” [Jesuits]) suggested a process that has been tweaked and modified by just about everyone… here’s my arrangement of what to do.

***** Try this for one month… once a day… You will never be the same. *****

WHY? “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent, or gifted people, but for deep people.” [Richard Foster]

1.         REMEMBER: Start with thankfulness!

“Praise the LORD.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” [Psalm 106:1]

            Love = “mercy” [KJV] “steadfast love” [ESV]

            Mercy comes from God’s love… and God’s love is demonstrated by Jesus on the cross.

            a.         Why give thanks?
                        1.)        God is good… ALL THE TIME.
                        2.)        Everyday is an exercise in that goodness.
                        3.)        Everyday is lived by God’s enduring, steadfast, love and mercy!
            b.         Ask: “What am I thankful for today?”
            c.         Goal: Savor the goodness of God in celebrating the goodness of God’s love and mercy.

2.         RELY: Ask the Holy Spirit for help.

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [John 14:26]

            a.         Notice Jesus wanted us to be dependent on the Holy Spirit for two things:
                        1.)        Teaching
                        2.)        Remembering

***** Sounds like an exam! *****

            b.         Pray: 

”Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts [v 24] Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” [Psalm 139:23 – 24 NLT]

            c.         Why?

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? [10] "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." [Jeremiah 17:9 – 10]

***** FACT CHECK: the Bible says that judgment is based on behavior (conduct, deeds) and our heart is incurable deceitful.  WE NEED GOD to get past our self-blindness. *****

3.         REVIEW the day.

“Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. … [10]Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” [Psalms 143:8b, 10]

            a.         Start with the beginning; replay the day (like a news cast)
            b.         Pay attention to the details: What was the context?  What was the motive?  What was the feeling?  What was the thinking?
            c.         Tag failures, celebrate wins: How did I respond to God today?  How will I respond to God right now?  Is this “fail” behavior a habit?  What influenced this failure?  Who influenced this failure?

4.         RECONCILE through REPENTANCE.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9]

            a.         Notice what happens when we confess our sins: [Both to God and the one we’ve wronged]
                        1.)        God shows His faithfulness and justice.
                        2.)        God forgives our sins.
                        3.)        God purifies ALL unrighteousness.
***** It’s a “double cure.” Forgiveness and made clean… “holy.”
            b.         What is happening?
                        1.)        We admit we are wrong and God is right.
                        2.)        There is a “godly sorrow.”

“When God makes you feel sorry enough to turn to him and be saved, you don't have anything to feel bad about. But when this world makes you feel sorry, it can cause your death.” [2 Corinthians 7:10 CEV]

            c.         Goal:    Renewal of relationship…

5.         RESOLVE by God’s grace to amend them.

“My friends, I don't feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.  [14] I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.” [Philippians 3:13 – 14]

            a.         Paul is telling us this is an unfinished and continual process. [see Ph. 3:12 – 16]

***** God is at work through Jesus… we are required to co-operate. *****

            b.         Notice Paul’s advice: Leave it behind (forget), strain (struggle) forward, toward the goal, [v 16] live up to what you have already attained.

***** FACT CHECK: there is no “neutral.”  You are either moving toward Jesus or the world.