When Was Your Last Spiritual Spring Cleaning?

In college, my dorm mates and I dreaded “white glove,” the once-a-semester deep cleaning that bordered on the ridiculous. You could get called back in for so much as a strand of hair in the shower.

As a clean freak by nature, though, I appreciated the concept, and today, pride myself in keeping a clean house. Well, I thought I was keeping a clean house, until we decided to put it up for sale. All of a sudden, there was dust on the floorboards I’d never noticed before. Dust on the light fixtures in the bathroom. Hints of rust on the washer machine. Spill stains on the kitchen cabinets. Don’t even get me started on the microwave.

In short, grossness! I’d been living in a dirty house all this time, yet from the surface level, it had looked pristine. (Don’t judge me too hard. When is the last time you cleaned your microwave?)

I started to consider how this deep cleaning concept might apply to my spiritual life. Yes, I have my daily quiet time and even my intentional quiet place. James and I love our Sunday school class and church too. But do I just look like a “clean Christian” on the outside? What happens when I take a sub-surface inventory? If you’re daring, join me as we ask some tough questions.

When was the list time God’s Word convicted me?

Oh, c’mon. I just finished reading Leviticus. Surely that counts for spiritual.

Not really. Did I actually learn something from Leviticus or just skim through it to check off that yearly reading chore? If I’m honest, the truth hits closer to the latter.

When I’m feeling spiritually dry, I’ve started asking God to show me what He has for me and give me the ears to hear it. The Bible says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 NKJV)

The Holy Spirit’s job is to expose areas we need to repent and grow (John 16:8). We must be willing to receive that instruction and do something with it.

Am I faithful in prayer and truly trusting God?

Last year, I shared about a book on prayer one of my friends gave me called A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller. It is by far one of the clearest and most helpful books on prayer I’ve read. One of my takeaways was to write note cards for specific people in my life, what their needs are, and how I can be praying for them.

In the last few months, some of those prayers have been incredibly answered, so much so, that I’ve found myself blinking. Wow, God! I kind of thought that request was a bit high on the “not likely” spectrum, but really? I thought you might go for something easier first, but uh, thanks!

I’m confessing this to my shame. Scripture reminds us that nothing is impossible with God. When the Angel Gabriel visited Mary, he spoke these very words:

For with God nothing will be impossible. (Luke 1:37 NKJV)

Yes, I know that truth, but I must actively believe it. And so, I echo the prayer of the mute boy’s father from Scripture, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b NKJV)

Do I thank God whether He gives or takes away?

This one can be so hard, especially when our hopes and dreams are wrapped up in our prayers. As my husband and I have been searching for a house, there have been many closed doors. So many that the disappointment literally hurt. But after one especially disappointing “no,” I accepted it and said, “Lord, thank you for protecting us from something that wasn’t right for us.”

We have to remember that perspective when God says no or not yet. His refusals are His mercies, no matter how much they sting at the time. Later, when He does present a yes, how much sweeter it is!

Today, we’re rejoicing that God appears to have opened a new house for us (hence, the early spring cleaning on our current home). Whatever comes, though, may my heart choose to say, “Lord, blessed be your name.”

Am I accepting God’s refining work in my life?

God works in many different ways and through all types of circumstances, some more painful than others. Sometimes, the blessings also present the biggest opportunities for maturity.

My marriage to James has been the biggest blessing in my life, apart from my salvation. Seriously, God knew what He was doing and what we needed so much better than we did! When I look at my wonderful husband, I just shake my head at how much I don’t deserve him.

Still, day-to-day living presents iron-sharpening moments that reveal my own selfishness and need for God’s grace in my life. Having my spouse see me at my worst can be humbling. Instead of trying to shove those moments under the rug, I have to accept them, examine them, and ask God to help me be the woman and wife He’s called me to be.

I like how Michelle Medlock Adams describes this molding process in Platinum Faith, the book she co-authored with Bethany Jett:

We can’t rush through the process even though we’d like to get off the wheel as soon as possible because it’s uncomfortable to be shaped and molded. But as we keep God at the center of our lives, the Master Potter will continue recentering us and removing any imperfections along the way.

Do I care about God’s mission more than my comfort?

The bottom line is that God loves people (John 3:16) and “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4 NKJV). Is that our desire as well? Or are we too comfortable in our little circles to share our faith with others?

Recently, our Sunday school class did a spiritual gifts test. If you’ve never done one, I encourage you to find and take one. Even though we don’t all have the gift of evangelism, we can still share God’s love and our testimonies with others. After all, it’s the story of God at work in our lives. Our stories might just be the one the person next door needs to hear.

Yet we worry about being embarrassed, about saying the wrong thing, about being rejected. At least, I do! May God grant us boldness that we would not be timid in sharing the gospel (Romans 1:16, Philippians 1:20).

Closing Prayer

Lord, you know us better than we know ourselves. Create in us clean hearts and renew right spirits within us that our lives may be pleasing to you (Psalm 51:10).

~ Kristen

Spring cleaning season is almost here! Take a sub-surface look at your spiritual health, too, by asking some tough questions.

Fresh Start Bible: Giveaway and Review

Many people wait until New Year’s for new beginnings, but any time of year is perfect for a fresh start. What better way to grow our relationship with God than learning more about His Word? The Fresh Start Bible is designed to help us do just that.

What’s Unique about the Fresh Start Bible?

The Fresh Start Bible uses the New Living Translation (NLT) for its biblical scholarship as well as easy-to-read, dynamic writing style. A forward by Jimmy Evans includes his personal testimony and 52 lessons he wrote that address fundamental questions, such as:

  • Who made me?
  • Why do people die?
  • How can I be saved?
  • Why should I be baptized?
  • Can I be saved without baptism?
  • How do I deal with anxiety and worry?
  • How do I build godly relationships?

After this foreword are the Old and New Testaments, and sprinkled among the books of the Bible are supplemental articles by church leaders. They are designed to break down practical teachings and inspire spiritual growth.

Following the Scriptures themselves is a section titled “Intersections” that examines major characters in the Bible’s narrative. Their purpose is to show God’s faithfulness and relationship with men and women through history. Finally, there are also full-color maps that show where Scriptural events take place, including:

  • Topography of Palestine
  • World of the Patriarchs
  • Ministry of Jesus
  • Paul’s Missionary Journeys

What Features Make this Bible a Great Gift?

My church has put a real emphasis on finding our “one,” at least one person God has placed in our lives to be a friend who needs Christian encouragement or an unbeliever who needs someone to point him to Christ. This Bible would be a great gift for my “one” or your “one” for a couple reasons:

  • The first page provides a special place to write someone’s name, your name, the occasion, and date.
  • An easy-to-use table of contents outlines the front matter, books of the Bible, and resources at the end of the edition.
  • Welcome letter by Pastor Robert Morris: This conversational letter invites new and seasoned believers alike to be intentional in reading God’s Word and also explains some of the resources.

My Review Summary

The supplemental material provided throughout this Bible makes it highly approachable and helpful, especially for seekers and new believers. However, readers should understand that none of this information adds to God’s inspired Word, nor do I think that to be the intent of the contributors and publisher. While these commentaries and practical insights offer guidance, readers should still exercise discernment and be aware that believers may disagree on certain areas of practice.

For example, one of the lessons by Jimmy Evans asks the question, “Why should I pray in tongues?” This question assumes that readers should pray in tongues, which is a debatable topic among denominations. Personally, I believe tongues was a unique gift fitted for a unique time period (the church in the book of Acts). However, I can respect Jimmy Evans and others who believe it still has a place today. As with any interpretation of Scripture, readers should exercise discernment and prayerfully examine Scripture and its context.

A Giveaway for You

All that said, I’m glad to find this new resource and look forward to sharing it with others, starting with you! This week, you can enter to win a free copy of the Fresh Start Bible here on the blog. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Like this post and add a comment, explaining why you would enjoy this Bible or why you’d like to give it as a gift.
  2. Share any of my related posts on Facebook or Twitter and tag me in them. (You must tag me so I’m aware that you shared the post and can add you to the drawing.)
  3. Do more than one to be entered multiple times!

“No matter who you are or what you have done, Jesus wants to give you a fresh start.” Learn how you could win a copy of the Fresh Start Bible at KristenHogrefe.com.

As we close out this year and anticipate the next, may we cherish God’s Word, prayerfully study it, and seek to know our Maker and Savior more.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to the Blog About Network for hosting this giveaway.