Daily Wonder 5-31-13

Scripture: Proverbs 22:2
Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Thought for the Day: I’m starting to think we all take ourselves too seriously. Our unrelenting goosestep down the never-ending path of “progress” has turned us into a people who are never satisfied with what we have. We always crave “more” and “better” and become trapped in a ravenous cycle of personal subjectivism. It’s a bad way to run a planet, patient and a terrible way to live a life. In my opinion, no rx of course.

Jesus suggests we change our priorities; that a life well lived is not measured by the number of things we have or the advanced state of our civilization, medicine but instead by our ability to see beyond civilization, to a higher level of existence where connection is more important than owning a bunch of crap.

The divisions in our world are all artificial. Jesus obviously understood this and broke down an astounding number of walls in his time. If we’re going to call ourselves Christians, our job is to knock down the barriers of our time, too—not be one of the primary forces creating them.

Prayer: God of infinite variety, connect me to strangers in strange lands, and make me understand that there can be no walls blocking any of us, if any of us are to act with dignity. Amen.

Daily Wonder 5-30-13

Scripture: Matthew 10:40
[Jesus said] “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, buy and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”

Thought for the Day: I recently saw an ad for a videogame based on the “Left Behind” series of books. “Eternal Clues Feed Your Soul as You Have Fun!” As I was reading through the promo material it occurred to me that the foundation of the “Left Behind” series—that some are welcome and some are not, cialis is contrary to the very heart of the Christian message. Jesus welcomed everyone without exception. How that message has turned into, “you must do what a few of us say is correct or be damned to eternal hell” is disconcerting and confusing.

We are all welcome in the kingdom of heaven, and perhaps more importantly, we are all invited to participate in the continual in-breaking of the kingdom happening here and now. The peaceful, loving, just world Jesus preached about won’t happen if we’re espousing the idea that some of us are “saved” and the rest of us are not. I’m sure this video game will sell well to a certain segment of the population. I just hope that some of the people playing the game will realize how misguided it is to think God will someday judge most of us unworthy, when Jesus has already proclaimed we are all worthy; we are all welcome to participate in the love of God, rather than the hatred of man.

Prayer: Turn my heart of stone, which wants to exclude people from your love, into the heart of Christ, which includes everyone equally in your love, O glorious and affectionate God. Amen.

Daily Wonder 5-29-13

Today’s devotional is by Trudy Kellum. Thanks, Trudy!

Scripture: Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Thought for the Day: This scripture speaks to me of extremes – a continuum between feelings of depression or powerlessness, and elation.  It’s incredible in the human experience, that we constantly feel simultaneous emotions along that continuum in different aspects of our lives.  We may be excelling in our work while struggling with health issues behind the scenes; we worry about our children while peacefully kissing them goodnight; we joyfully provide for the needs of one person while feeling frustrated that we can’t solve all of the world’s problems at once.

There’s a lot to cope with on that continuum!  While some solutions may come easily – springing forth suddenly out of a state of hopelessness – most longings fulfilled seem to occur after a long waiting period, or perhaps not at all.  Just as a tree takes time to grow, the waiting period is a time when our faithfulness can really take root, helping us grow and mature in unity with God.  Rather than a tree of life magically appearing before us, we become a tree of life, with a continuum of experiences behind and before us.

Prayer: God of life and longings fulfilled, thank you for every experience along the continuum of life.  My greatest longing is for my life to be rooted in you, and continually growing for your glory. Amen.

Daily Wonder 5-24-13

Scripture: Matthew 16:25
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, order but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Thought for the Day: See? It’s not so bad to be lost! Losing ourselves in a life lived following the way of Jesus helps us understand and embrace the eternal nature of our being. Humans spend a lot of time and money trying to extend our lifespans, pills ultimately to no avail. This physical life is finite. So while we’re here, do we live our lives, or do our lives live us?

When Jesus calls us to lose our life so that we might actually find it, he is speaking about our daily habits, our careers, our relationships. Jesus invites us out of the “rat race” and into the human race, leading us into a more fully realized humanity. We have yet to completely embrace life, because our lives are too busy. Humans are still a little lost, overwhelmed by the artifices of civilization. We’re still figuring out who we are. The Good News is that we have this amazing example of perfected humanity in Jesus, who not only shows us the way, but also is always with us, leading us, shaping us, and conforming us to his image. There is much to be gained by following Jesus’ teachings, and absolutely nothing to be lost. So why not give it a try?

Prayer: Okay, God. I’m scared and anxious, but mostly excited to give my life to you. Take my life and conform me to your likeness: peaceful, loving, understanding, caring, compassionate, and merciful. Amen.

Daily Wonder 5-23-13

Scripture: Ezekiel 34:15-16
I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, buy viagra declares the Sovereign Lord.I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, cheap but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

Thought for the Day: You know, even when you’re lost, you’re somewhere. Physically, it’s impossible to be nowhere. You might not know where you are, but you’re somewhere. Spiritually speaking though, I think it’s pretty easy to be lost. Our spiritual journeys twist and turn through low valleys and over the highest mountains. I think our natural reaction to the low valleys is to try and figure out what’s going on in our lives that’s seemingly blocking us from either spiritual progress, or simply feeling connected to God. Yet, it’s in these valleys that we figure out the best way to find God is to stop looking. God is always searching for us (and finding us, by the way), so no matter how lost we feel, we’re always somewhere—lovingly held in the arms of Eternity.

Prayer: I give up, Lord. I’m tired and my bones are weary from wandering around, trying to figure out where I am. Now I know it doesn’t’ matter, because you are wherever I am. Carry me home. Amen.

Daily Wonder 5-21-13

Scripture: Acts 27:18-20
We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, recipe they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, recipe we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

Thought for the Day: There was a great line on one of those survival TV shows recently—I can’t remember which show, check Man v. Wild or something like that. They were in some crazy, inhospitable, frozen wasteland. At one point, the survivalist says, “It is truly unbelievable the number of things out here that want to kill me.”

When a natural disaster strikes, I’m always reminded of the sheer power of nature and how helpless we really are when it comes to “acts of God,” an unfortunate term that insurance companies will assuredly use when referring to the tragedy in Oklahoma. I do not see the Tornado itself as an act of God. That’s just nature, and nature is an unforgiving, relentless cycle of destruction and re-creation. No, God doesn’t make a Tornado appear in Oklahoma City. The acts of God are in our responses to this disaster; acts of God are in the responses of the people in Boston and Newtown.

God acts in tragedy by moving us to react with compassion and love for our brothers and sisters who grieve. The acts of God are the people rushing to help, the first and second and 90th responders. A natural disaster leaves in its wake unfortunate destruction and devastating loss. But it also makes way for the seeds of compassion to sprout, for us to actually start acting like humans, rather than the animals that want to kill us.

Prayer: Your activity in the thousands of people who rush to assistance when disaster strikes, God who is all activity, reinforces my faith in your goodness, and in the goodness of humanity created in your image. Be with us and comfort us all, whether our disasters are global, local, or personal. Amen.

Daily Wonder 5-20-13

Scripture: Luke 19:10
[Jesus said] “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Thought for the Day: As I was flipping through TV channels the other day I ran across the inevitable sweaty, sales Bible-thumping preacher quite literally spewing hate from his mouth. His face, prescription his body, even the inflammatory words leaving his mouth were all drenched in the poisonous waters of intolerance. As I watched, I couldn’t decide which worried me more: his heart-attack inducing antics, or the roaring approval of the congregation. Here, live on TV for the entire universe to see, was a fine confederacy of hate, disguised in the clothing of a Christianity Jesus would neither recognize nor condone. For Jesus came not to condemn, but to save; not to berate, but to beautify; not to antagonize, but to accept. Apparently, this is a lesson we are all still learning.

Prayer: Almighty Christ! Lead your followers out of the darkness of intolerance, into the light of universal love you so fully radiate, now and forever. Amen.

Daily Wonder 5-18-13

Quote: Leo Tolstoy
Everyone thinks of changing the world, generic but no one thinks of changing himself.

Thought for the Day: Some of my New Testament scholar friends contend that we cannot change ourselves, hospital that only God can change us. Many people interpret the apostle Paul’s writings to mean that we are helpless, sinful creatures, and that it is only by God’s grace that we are forgiven and “corrected.” My response to that is, well, Paul got it sort of right.

I do think change, especially deep personal change, comes from God. But I also think we have to consciously accept the invitation. God may freely offer grace, but I can freely offer chocolate cake to someone too. That doesn’t mean they have to accept it, or that they will accept it.

Change is a two way street, and we’re responsible for our part. I do want to change the world, but I also realize the best way to do that is to change myself first—my attitudes, my reactions and actions, my perceptions. And while God may be doing the ultimate shaping by guiding us with spirit, it is absolutely my duty, as it is for all of us, to respond.

Prayer: Help me change the world, Mighty God, one person at a time, starting with myself. Amen.