Saturday, January 21, 2017

On Judging Others (part 2)

The following are more insights from Frederick Faber as found in Paul Billheimer's book, Love Covers, on the topic of judging others. The first two points summarized from last week's post are:

1.  It is a universal law that when we judge others, whether individuals or multitudes, we come to erroneous conclusions from the mere fact that we naturally judge over-harshly.

2.  Severity is one of the natural accompaniments of a young and immature state of grace. 

3.  When we see evil in others, we never can see the amount of inward resistance which the person has given to the evil, or the amount of humiliation and sorrow which they may have for their own failures and defects. The violence of temptation is always invisible, and its peculiar oppressiveness, owing to heredity, or education, or previous modes of living, can never be estimated by a fellow creature. There are depths of invincible ignorance...which every human character has in some one or more direction, and it is almost universally true that even among good religious people there is one point of moral excellence upon which they seem stupid...In judging others we fail to see how many odd crossings there are in people's minds, which tell upon their motives and hamper the free action of their moral sense. Much sin lies at the door of a warped mind, but how much guilt there is in the sin can be known to God alone. The heart is the jewel that He covets for His crown, and if the habitual attitude of the heart is better than any particular action which we see, God be praised for it.

4. The evil in our fellows strikes us with bold startling proportions, whereas goodness is more quiet and hidden, and often passes unobserved...It must be observed that evil, of its own nature, is more visible than goodness...The evil we see, or think we see, in others is easily recognized, but often the people we are judging are more keenly alive to their defects than we imagine and may grieve over them in secret...God has so contrived the moral world that the greater part of goodness must of necessity be hidden like Himself...


Sunday, January 15, 2017

"On Judging Others" (part 1)

Recently I picked up a book I read years ago: Love Covers by Paul Billheimer; in it he argues that what is most needed is for followers of Jesus to love one another and not allow doctrinal differences to divide us. Some of what he writes was aimed at the generation he lived in, and his references to some issues no longer pertain; nevertheless, the heart of what he writes is very pertinent to our times.

At the end of the book, he includes a writing by Frederick W. Faber about judging others. It is rich in wisdom and insight and is very challenging, so I want to share parts of it with you. To keep it to shorter portions for the sake of being able to ponder and pray over it, I'll take 3 or 4 postings to share it. The following is from Frederick Faber:

1. It is a universal law that when we judge others, whether individuals or multitudes, we come to erroneous conclusions from the mere fact that we naturally judge over-harshly.
It is one of the effects of our fallen nature to put the worst construction upon what we see or hear about others, and to make small, if any, allowance for the hidden good that is in them. Also, we unwittingly judge of others by the worst parts of our own disposition, and not by the best. It is natural for us to judge of ourselves by the best things in us, but we judge of others by the worst things in us. It is so common to impute our evil to others, but to think our goodness is peculiarly our own.

2.  Severity is one of the natural accompaniments of a young and immature state of grace. 
Many religious people think that the power to detect evil in others is a special gift from God, to be prized and cultivated, and if such people are inclined to hunt for evil they can always find it to their satisfaction; but the practice begets a habit of suspicion which is utterly ruinous to the deep love of God and to Christlikeness of disposition. Men are never industrious in handing out the good about others, but have a terrific swiftness in seeing the evil; and even religious people, in many instances, have an awful propensity for circulating the evil, but they are very slow to tell the good. It is also a trait among human beings to be most severe with those of their own class, or guild, or profession...


Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Prayers: One Final Prayer for 2016

I'll close this series of simple prayers and end the year with the 'breath prayer' that I pray daily, sometimes many times during the day:

Psalm 119:94a

"I am yours; save me..."

God is with you as you enter into a new year with Him.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December Prayers: The Creator Knows Me

Psalm 139:1-18 (CEB):

Lord, you have examined me.
    You know me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
    Even from far away, you comprehend my plans.
You study my traveling and resting.
    You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.
There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord,
    that you don’t already know completely.
You surround me—front and back.
    You put your hand on me.
That kind of knowledge is too much for me;
    it’s so high above me that I can’t fathom it.

Where could I go to get away from your spirit?
    Where could I go to escape your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there.
    If I went down to the grave,[a] you would be there too!
If I could fly on the wings of dawn,
    stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—
10         even there your hand would guide me;
        even there your strong hand would hold me tight!
11 If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me;
        the light will become night around me,”
12     even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you!
        Nighttime would shine bright as day,
        because darkness is the same as light to you!
13 You are the one who created my innermost parts;
    you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
14 I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
    Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.
15 My bones weren’t hidden from you
    when I was being put together in a secret place,
    when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my embryo,
    and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me,[b]
    before any one of them had yet happened.[c]
17 God, your plans are incomprehensible to me!
    Their total number is countless!
18 If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand!
    If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you.[d]

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December Prayers: Teach Me to Forgive

A prayer from Andrew Murray's book, Teach Me to Pray:

"Blessed Father, you are Love, and only he who abides in love abides in you and in fellowship with you...O God, let your love, planted in my heart by the Holy Spirit, be in me a fountain of love to all those around me, that out of my life may spring the power of believing prayer. Especially help me to find in the joy with which I forgive day by day whoever might offend me, the proof that your forgiveness is power and life.

"Lord Jesus, my blessed teacher, teach me to forgive. Let the power of your blood make the pardon of my sins such a reality that forgiveness, as shown by you to me and by me to others, be the very joy of heaven..."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December Prayers: Your Loving-kindness is Greater...

Psalm 108:1-5

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.
     I will sing and make melody.
Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp;
     I myself will waken the dawn.
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord;
     I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,
     and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,
     and your glory over all the earth.

Friday, December 23, 2016

December Prayers: O Lord, Our Shepherd

Another prayer from the St. Francis Prayer Book:

                                         O Lord, our shepherd:
                              You revive our soul, you guide our path,
                                     and save us from death each day.
                              We always want to be in your company. Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December Prayers: Renew a Right Spirit within Me

Psalm 51:

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your lovingkindness;
      in your great compassion, blot out my offenses.
 Wash me through and through from my wickedness
      and cleanse me from my sin.
 For I know my transgressions, 
      and my sin is ever before me.
 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
      and renew a right spirit within me.
 Cast me not away from your presence
      and take not your holy Spirit from me.
 Give me the joy of your saving help again
      and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
 Deliver me from death, O God, 
      and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,
      O God of my salvation."

Monday, December 19, 2016

December Prayers: All Fairest Beauty, Jesus, Is Found in Thee

Because there is some controversy as to the origins of this well-known Christian hymn, I'll give you this link to read up on it, if you are interested: Link to history of this poem/prayer

Fairest Lord Jesus,
Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul's glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December Prayers: Jesus, God with Us

The following is a prayer of mine in the form of poetry, written many years ago:

Dear precious, tender holy Babe,
Who in Your mother's womb was made,
Find deep within this heart of mine
Seclusion sweet for birth divine.

Dear gentle, strong and perfect Man,
Who with Your Father one did stand,
Grant me a heart that runs to be
One in mind and will with Thee.

Dear humble, bleeding, spotless Lamb
Whose life true justice did demand,
Make me a heart that gladly yields
To death, that others may be healed.

Dear glorious, gracious triumphant King
Whose name alone makes heaven ring,
Plant deep inside this yielded heart
Sweet praise that never shall depart.