3 Benefits to Having an Accountability Group

For the past 10 years, I have met weekly with 8 other Christian men in our neighborhood for Bible Study, prayer, and accountability.

3 Benefits to Participating in an Accountability Group

(Photo: My group)

I recently commented on Michael Hyatt’s blog about the accountability questions our groups asks each week, and he encouraged me to blog about it. Honestly, I had never thought about that, but it makes total sense.

Too often, accountability takes on a negative slant as we picture ourselves surrounded by pointing fingers and a spotlight of condemnation.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I want to share with you 3 benefits to having an accountability group that can help you in our Christian life.

What is Forgiveness? Here’s a Helpful Lesson I’ve Learned

Some people collect stamps. Some collect antiques. And others, it seems, collect offenses. Ask them what any person has done to offend them and they can rattle off the list. They get historical in a hurry.

What is Forgiveness? Here's a Helpful Lesson I’ve Learned

(Photo by oomph)

After a talk I gave one time, a woman came up to me with a determined look. She asked: “So you’re saying all a person has to do for forgiveness is believe in Jesus Christ—and all their sins are forgiven?”

“That’s what the Bible says, yes—.”

“I can’t accept that,” she interrupted. “Some things just can’t be forgiven.”

I paused and looked into her eyes. “Who has hurt you deeply?” She gave no answer, except for the tears that welled up immediately.

The problem with forgiveness is the debt is real. Someone has taken from us and hurt us deeply. In order to forgive, it feels like we must give even more than has already been taken.

This is hard. Very hard. So, what is forgiveness?

Why You’ll Never Find the Bottom of Your Bible

We have thousands of questions on dozens of issues the Bible never addresses. On other topics though, it seems it’s just the opposite. Scripture supplies liberal space to minutiae that seem trivial.

Why You'll Never Find the Bottom of Your Bible

(Photo by Photodune)

Let’s be honest. Have you wondered if we need all the Bible gives us?

  • Take genealogies, for example. Do we really need nine chapters of 1 Chronicles to tell us who begat who? I mean, would our faith fall apart if we didn’t know Hadad begat Bedad?
  • And what about Deuteronomy’s lengthy retelling of the Law?
  • Or even the huge amount of content devoted to repeating the same events of Peter’s visit to Cornelius?

These represent mere samples of what seem like a lopsided emphasis. I mean, if we only have so many verses in the Bible, could we not give a little less to the genealogies and more to, say, how to raise a teenager?

Amazingly, in spite of all the Bible doesn’t tell us, it still remains an inexhaustible book.

You’ll never find the bottom. Here’s why.

The Greatest Danger of God’s Blessings in Your Life

Sometimes our blessings get piled so high, it’s difficult to see around them. Blessings are ours in abundance—and tempt us to forget God. Of course, this is nothing new.

The Greatest Danger of God’s Blessings in Your Life

(Photo by Photodune)

As the redeemed Hebrew nation anticipated entering Canaan, the Lord issued them an important warning:

When the Lord your God brings you into . . . great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied. Then watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. —Deuteronomy 6:10-12

Notice God’s emphasis by the repeated phrase: “which you did not.” The blessings His people would receive would come from God’s hand—not from their own wits or wisdom.

Moses warned his people of the greatest danger from God’s blessings: to forget God.

We have that same vulnerability, don’t we?

Living Your Insignificant Life with Your Big God

In moments of honesty, it’s easy to see our lives as, well—insignificant. What we do often seems to matter very, very little. Whether it’s pushing papers or changing diapers, it can seem pretty pointless.

Living Your Insignificant Life with Your Big God

(Photo by Photodune)

We often can fall for the thinking that because what we do seems small, or behind-the-scenes, or insignificant, or unequal with our abilities or qualifications, that what we do matters little.

After all, if we foul up, no big deal. The world still turns. Nobody notices. Few seem to care.

Except God.

God’s Goals for Your Life Begin Here

Sometimes the dreams and goals you have for life are good goals—even godly goals—but just not God’s goals. Your expectations of life are just that—yours. God has His own set of plans, and He isn’t telling.

God's Goals for Your Life Begin Here

(Photo by Photodune)

God may lead you initially one direction simply to take you another.

  • He may give you a vision as a single, or for a family, or for a ministry only so that He can sanctify you by his grace in experiencing a slammed door.
  • Slammed doors do more than bend your nose; they keep your heart pliable, sensitive, and available to God’s leading.

Not only does He keep secret the difficult valleys you’ll experience (and many of the mountaintops), but also the tremendous lessons you’ll glean no other way. Lessons you didn’t know you needed to learn. Lessons you’ll thank Him for one day.

Very often, we fail to recognize God using us significantly because we define God “using us” in terms of what we consider significant: results.

Start Looking at What You Want to See

We’ve all experienced it, haven’t we? We buy a car and suddenly, we see our car’s model everywhere on the road. We notice what we have on our mind. This is true in all of life.

Start Looking at What You Want to See

(Photo by Photodune)

On a recent trip to Israel, one man on our bus mentioned he saw beehives everywhere. Really? Beehives? I had never noticed. He was a beekeeper. We see what we’re thinking about.

  • As a woodworker, I notice furniture everywhere I go—whether it’s made well or not.
  • My daughter always notices a person’s shoes first.
  • A girl-crazy guy walks in a room and in five seconds has the most beautiful girl pegged.

What you focus on will be what you see. It’s how God made us—regardless of how we use that ability. What do you see in these key areas of your life?

  • Your job
  • Your spouse
  • Your children
  • Your parents
  • Your church
  • Your life in general

Be honest. When you think about each of these areas, are your initial thoughts positive or negative?

What do you see?

How Tisha B’Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

Some call it coincidence. Some call it Providence. But according to tradition, both the First and Second Temples (in 586 BC and AD 70) were destroyed on the same date in history. That begins this evening.

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

(Photo: The Burnt House in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Tisha B’Av marks the 9th day of the month of Av—the fifth Jewish month. During the exile, the Jews instituted a fast to commemorate the Temple’s destruction. After they returned to Jerusalem, they asked God a question about Tisha B’Av:

Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years? —Zechariah 7:3

Their question made sense.

They had observed the fast in exile, but should they continue to fast on Tisha B’Av now that they were building the Second Temple? God’s answer to their question reaches beyond them to the heart of why we do what we do.

One question gets to the heart of our heart.

Can You Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide?

I smiled when I heard about a mother who taught her son the difference between the words conscious and conscience. After her explanation, she asked him if he understood the difference.

Can You Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide?

(Photo by Photodune)

“Yeah,” he answered. “Conscious is when you’re aware of something, and conscience is when you wish you weren’t.”

That’s better than Jiminy Cricket’s catchy tune that reminded Pinocchio: “Always let your conscience be your guide.” Sounds great, but unfortunately, it’s sloppy theology.

God never intended your conscience as your guide.

It has another purpose.

What Playing Guitar Taught Me about the Spiritual Life

An interest in my stepdad’s guitar at age 15 sparked an interest God has used to guide my life. I’m sure God works in a similar way with you. In fact, I know He does.

What Playing Guitar Taught Me about the Spiritual Life

(Photo: By Pisethinfo. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

More than 30 years ago, I started playing songs on the guitar by John Denver, Jim Croce, Don Francisco, Gordon Lightfoot, and Dan Fogelberg.

I was hooked. I lived and breathed with the instrument. In a few years, I had written more than 100 of my own songs. It seemed this is what God wanted me to do with my life. I decided to pursue the dream of becoming a Christian artist.

  • I majored in music (classical guitar) from North Texas State University (now UNT).
  • I attended Dallas Theological Seminary so that I could learn to write theologically sound songs.
  • I had an influential person with connections in Nashville who promised to introduce me to the right people.

I was ready. Cue the lights. Then God uplugged my guitar.

Playing guitar for all these years has taught me more than music. It has taught me these 3 lessons.