The Danger of Judgment

“Let everyone beware lest he presume to take it upon himself to criticize and condemn other men’s faults without his having been truly touched within by the Holy Spirit in his work. Otherwise he may very easily err in his judgments. Beware, therefore. Judge yourself as seems right to you between yourself and your God and let other men alone.”

—-The Cloud of Unknowing

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God?

—-Romans 2:1-3

The words of Paul in his letter to the Romans and the words of the medieval mystic who wrote THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING are the same. Simply stated, we must be very cautious when we condemn other people. We are about to embark in a strange new world in the coming days. We’ve never been here before, and we’re not sure what it’s going to be like. The whole idea of “social distancing,” wearing masks and being cautious every time we venture from our homes is a strange and rather scary place to be. Our challenge is how we handle it?

As Christians, we can be those that lead the way with generosity, kindness, compassion and care for our fellow man. We can try to observe the guidelines and go forward in this world. We can pray for the finalized solution to come sooner rather than later to this extreme problem that we have. We can help those who have had losses during this time of isolation to bury and mourn their dead. We can support them and lift him up and give them the hope that only Jesus gives. Those are some ways that we can be very positive in the coming weeks and months.

The message of the mystic in THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING and the Apostle Paul gives us fair warning of the possible dark side of our reaction. Let us be determined that we’re not going to criticize, condemn and complain. Let us pray without ceasing that God will deliver us from taking that path that the evil one has designed for us since the Garden. That is, I will do it my way. Such a decision is a slippery slope we walk down when we are frightened by this very deadly unknown we are facing. Let us heed the words of the Medieval Mystic and the Apostle Paul every time we hear ourselves speak or think words of criticism and judgment.

We do this by praying without ceasing. This is an excellent time for you to reboot your prayer life. Perhaps you might consider setting a time for prayer each day. It is possible that you may want to investigate some prayer practices that you have never done before. There are so many ways to pray to God. There are so many ways to be in the presence of God. I’d like to suggest a few in the links below. I hope they might help.


Links on Ways to Pray

Lectio Divina

Daily Bible Reading

The Daily Office

The Jesus Prayer

The Examine


Prayer – LORD, make it possible for me to overcome my fear in the coming weeks and months and not fall into the trap of a critical and judgmental attitude. Let me now lay myself before you as a servant of yours. I ask you today, what service may I render to others? Guide me to look very closely at my faults and short-comings and make self-change my priority. Give me the strength to be an example of what it means to be a Christian. Take away my sin and fear so that I may be strong as I go forward today. Amen

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Monday Musings #2

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THIS WEEK – HOPE

Hope – Expectation of something desired, a feeling of expectation and desire combined.

(Oxford Dictionary)


Do you remember the story of Pandora’s Box? The lovely Pandora was sent by Zeus to be the bride of Epimetheus. One of Pandora’s more endearing charms was her curiosity, but that quality also proved to nearly be her undoing. One day Mercury, the messenger, sent a box to the young couple. It was meant for them to enjoy, but under no circumstances were they to open it. Well, of course, it is the old story of the forbidden fruit. Told that she could not do it, it became the thing that she desired to do the most. So,   one day she pried it open and peeked inside. Suddenly out flew swarms of insects that began attacking them. Both lovers were stung with the poison of suspicion, hatred, fear and malice. Now the once happy couple began to argue. Epimetheus became bitter and Pandora wept with a broken heart. But amid the quarreling, they heard a tiny voice cry out: Let me out, to sooth your pain. Fearfully they opened the box again, and this time a beautiful butterfly flew out. It touched the couple and miraculously their pain was healed, and they were happy again. The butterfly we are told was hope. It is hope that sustains us; it is hope that soothes our pain.

We live in a world of pessimists who want to rob us of our hope. They would prefer that we all be forlorn and dreadful, but God one has better in mind for us. He sends out butterflies in the darkest of times, and I just know that there is out flying right now one with your name on it. All we must do is open our eyes and look for it. Let us hold on to the hope that is in our faith and know that it will guide us through.



Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1


Quotes

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.

—– Christopher Reeve

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

—-Martin Luther King Jr

Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.

—–Martin Luther

I dwell in possibility.

—–Emily Dickinson

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.

—-Nelson Mandela

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.

—-Henry David Thoreau

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

—-Desmond Tutu

Hope is a waking dream.

—-Aristotle

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all… As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.

—-G.K. Chesterton

I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.

—–Dalai Lama

While there’s life, there’s hope.

—-Marcus Tullius Cicero


Scripture

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

I Peter 1:13

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

   even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:22

But I will hope continually,

   and will praise you yet more and more.

Psalm 71:14

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Know that wisdom is such to your soul;

   if you find it, you will find a future,

   and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 24:14


PRAYER

LORD, because of you I know there is always hope –  

      Hope for today

         Hope of a better day tomorrow

              Hope that my pain will end

                  Hope that joy will return

Help me to have enough faith to live a life full of hope. Restore my hope in days when it seems to fade. Strengthen my hope today. Amen


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Self Discovery

Midweek Thought #1


“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.”

― Thomas Merton


Merton challenges us to look inside of ourselves with great introspection that allows us to see ourselves as God and others see us. Many times we are shocked by theExplorer 2 comment of a loved one or friend about something we have said or done. Our first reaction may be to say that we are misunderstood, but we will never really understand until we pause and take a deep look at ourselves.God sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. The creator made us in his image and likeness with the knowledge that we would never live up to our full potential. Too often we hide behind our accomplishments and never take that voyage to the most difficult destination of all – our true self. Merton reminds us of this, but how do we begin that scary voyage? Let me suggest a few possibilities.

  • Learn to sit quietly in the presence of God.

  • Learn to say, “I was wrong.”

  • Learn to value others more than yourself.

These three possibilities are not a silver bullet to finding our true selves but some tools that will drive us deeper into that uncharted territory that lies within all of us.  As we venture deeper into ourselves, God will give us the wisdom and courage to confront the bad and the joy of the discovery of the good. Remember, the image of God is imprinted in our DNA, and it is the desire of God that it come out.  Spend some time today pondering the possibility that that image can emerge and I know God will bless you.


Midweek #1

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Monday Musings #1

Musings-a period of reflection or thought

NOTE- I thought I would share this on the blog as well as to my congregation. It is a day late but I hope you enjoy the read.


Each Monday during our continued shut down, I’m going to publish a newsletter called- “Monday Musings.” I will be taking a word or a topic and putting together a series of quotes, bible verses and a prayer that shed light on the word of the day. Today’s word is ENCOURAGEMENT. There has never been a time in my life when I needed some encouragement more than I do now. Below you will find some words that I hope will encourage you through this week.

Prayers, Irvin


THIS WEEK – ENCOURAGEMENT

Encouragement – To give courage , confidence, or hope in order to make someone sufficiently confident or bold to do a specified action.

(Oxford Dictionary)


Jesus on WaterBut let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,

and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.

—Psalm 5:11


QUOTES

“Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is.”

– Anne Frank

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”

“When you feel like you’re drowning in life, don’t worry – your Lifeguard walks on water.”

“Never let a bad situation bring out the worst in you. Choose to stay positive and be the strong person that God created you to be!”

“You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Just relax. Master the day. Then just keep doing that every day.”

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

– Albert Camus


SCRIPTURE

Mark 11:22-24

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

James 2:19

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

Luke 1:37

For nothing will be impossible with God.

Colossians 1:11

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Psalm 5:11

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.


PRAYER – LORD, if there was ever a time that we need some encouragement, it’s now. Let me hear a word from you and know that you have my well-being in the palm of your hand. I trust you to guide me through these difficult days. Help to hear the word as I read the word. Help to hear the words of comfort and encouragement as others speak them to me. I know that you will provide all that I need. Amen


Click for a Devotional on Encouragement

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Holy Saturday


Isaiah 54:5-14

For your Maker is your husband,
   the Lord of hosts is his name;
Day 40the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
   the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you
   like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off,
   says your God.


For a brief moment I abandoned you,
   but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing wrath for a moment
   I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,
   says the Lord, your Redeemer.


This is like the days of Noah to me:
   Just as I swore that the waters of Noah
   would never again go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you
   and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart
   and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
   and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
   says the Lord, who has compassion on you.


O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
   I am about to set your stones in antimony,
   and lay your foundations with sapphires.

I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
   your gates of jewels,
   and all your wall of precious stones.


All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
   and great shall be the prosperity of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
   you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
   and from terror, for it shall not come near you.


Question- Do I believe that Jesus truly set all things right?


Prayer – Lord, give me the faith and confidence to believe that you can and will set  all things right. Amen


“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”

—- Marianne Williamson

Day 40-1

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Everlasting Love

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
Day 39Just as there were many who were astonished at him
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.


Question- Do you live in His everlasting love?


Prayer- LORD, you have given all to me. I have nothing to offer but thanks and obedience. I pledge this day to give my all to you. Amen.


Crucifixion

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The Practice of Faith

Day 38Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:9



Question- How can I practice the things that God has taught me today?


Prayer- LORD, help me to see the many things that I have learn through reading your word, worshiping you and sharing with other believers. Stir my heart and soul and make this day a day of discovery. May I see the many things that I have missed in past days and put them into practice today. Amen.


Day 38-1



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Cry Out for Wisdom

Day 37My child, if you accept my words
   and treasure up my commandments within you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
   and inclining your heart to understanding;
if you indeed cry out for insight,
   and raise your voice for understanding;
if you seek it like silver,
   and search for it as for hidden treasures—
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
   and find the knowledge of God.

—-Proverbs 2:1-5


Question – Are you crying out to God for wisdom?


Prayer- LORD, my prayer today is a visceral cry for your wisdom and insight. My faculties fail me and my wisdom is lacking, but you offer to me what I can never achieve alone. Fill me with the insight and wisdom that is necessary to move forward in this difficult and trying time. Amen


  Day 37-1

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Overcoming Anxiety

Day 36The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

—-Zephaniah 3:17

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

—-Matthew 6:34


Question- Will you depend upon the might of God to overcome your anxiety?


Prayer- LORD, we live in a world that is wrought with justifiable anxiety at this stressful and perilous time. I will look to you, the mighty one, to carry me through this day. Guide me through the troubles of this day and protect me from the challenges to come. Help me to focus using your eyes as my eyes and your love as my comfort. Amen


Anxiety 1

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Day 35I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

—Psalm 139:13-14


Question – When was the last time that you paused long enough to say “thanks” to God?


Prayer- LORD,I know that you created me with love and care, and you have plans for me that are beyond what I can imagine. You loved me when you knew all my secrets and shortcomings. Your love sustains me when I fail and lifts me when I fall. Thank you ,Lord, for being with me at all times. Amen


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