Monday, November 26, 2007

Examine the Day

Yesterday we had a beautiful sunny morning here in NYC, but I did not feel very sunny in my heart. I had been focusing too much on myself and maybe also part of the problem was that I had run out of one of my dietary supplements.

The message at Trinity was a good reminder that we need to continue to admit how helpless we are to change ourselves from the addiction to ourselves. (Ray's blog has more notes from that message) Later we watched the DVD of the service at Eastview from the previous Sunday, which was very encouraging and had some more stuff about the kingdom of God.

Examine the day, an article that I read today in our church paper was very thought provoking . "As Christians we need an examine, the Latin word for the pointer on a scale, to help us discern the truth about our lives...Self-examination can debilitate us with crippling guilt, paralyzed decision-making, or glib self-praise. We need a more truthful and more loving examine. 1 John teaches us two complementary practices... with which we welcome God to inspect our lives, freeing us to live in peace."

"The first part of the examine is acknowledging to God our sins...the habit of naming our specific sins and confessing them to God...we'll discover that God is so faithful and righteous that he'll forgive and purify us through Jesus Christ."

"The other part of the examine is acknowledging to God our acts of love. (1John 3:18-24). " This was kind of a new thought. I don't think I've heard very many sermons about that. He goes on to say, "This is necessary whenever we feel inwardly accused of failing God and others, especially when this is due to self-doubt or excessive scrupulosity. (Whatever that means!) Our loving actions are God's love moving through us to others. When we see this our inaccurate hearts can be reassured in God's presence. We can be at rest, knowing that the Holy Spirit is at work through us."

"Whenever we practice these two habits...we rely on god to show us which realities we need to see. Left to ourselves, we are blind to the truth of our lives."

To learn to pray an examine true to 1 John we need to take a few moments every evening to become quiet before God and ask ourselves, "For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?" These two questions open the door to God's loving examine and should help us to avoid self-condemnation and self deception and they can help us in times of decision making, to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Another adaptation of the examine is to retreat each day for a five part prayer. "Recall that you're in God's presence. Give thanks for God's gifts in the past day. Ask God by the Holy Spirit to help you to look at yourself honestly and patiently, without condemnation or complacency. Review your day's actions and attitudes, noticing where you acted freely and where you were swept along without freedom. Lastly, talk to Jesus about your day: thank, confess, resolve, rest. (Limiting the prayer to 15 minutes helps us to avoid becoming self-absorbed."

"God has destined us to be joy-filled instead of guilty, righteous instead of sinning, and confident instead of merely optimistic. "

This reminds me of a quote I read in the hymn book at church by C.S. Lewis. "Real Prayer - The prayer preceding all prayer is, 'May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real You that I speak to."

There was something else I copied out of the hymn book which captured very well how I felt yesterday. That will have to be my nest blog. Maybe I should have done that one first.

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