Month: September 2012
Scripture: Habakkuk 3:17-18
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, cheap though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, ampoule though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, prostate yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Thought for the Day: Inner peace does not depend on outward prosperity. The economy may be in the dumps, the banks may be hoarding money, nations may be rattling the swords of war at each other, but I still rejoice in God. I still find peace by focusing my attention on God’s commandments, and by living the life exemplified by Jesus to the best of my ability.
Love my neighbor. Love God. Be compassionate and just to others. These are the things that bring inner peace—not a good day in the market (because there will also be bad days in the market), not the best sale of my life (because there will always be days when nothing sells). Nothing brings me peace but a real relationship with God, who calms my soul and reminds me that life is about more than the material.
Prayer: Even when my cupboards are bare, Holy Lord, I am filled with the joy of your Spirit, which nourishes my mind, body and soul. Amen.
Scripture: Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, buy viagra since we have been justified through faith, case we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
Thought for the Day: Paul was an intense human being. Well educated, a successful businessman, and a world traveler, he knew how to communicate and connect with people. His ability to converse with all types of folks from all walks of life made him the perfect candidate to spread his message of God’s universal reconciliation: peace with and for all of us.
The phrase that really strikes me in this passage is “we have gained access by faith into this grace…” Most of us probably tend to think that means that our faith is what gives us access to the Peace of God. Actually, faith is about God’s trustworthiness, not ours. God has faith in us.
God’s justification of us is literally a reference to God measuring us up. Justification is an Old Testament metaphor about God’s character and holiness as the only true standard of judgment. And when we are measured against God’s standard, we are found wanting. Still, because God’s faith in us is so astounding, God anoints Jesus, the Christ, to show us how absolutely glorious life can be, when one is completely at peace with self and God. Knowing God has faith in us just makes it easier for me to have faith in God.
Prayer: May I reach out to your faithful hand, God who rights me, and joyously be held and formed to your higher, holy standard. Amen.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, health set his seal of ownership on us, salve and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, buy guaranteeing what is to come.
Thought for the Day: This beautiful piece of Scripture reminds us that to be Christian means we are anointed, co-heirs of Christ, as Paul was fond of saying. This means we have work to do. We should be out in the world, working for peace, justice, equality, an end to racism, sexism, genderism, homophobia, Islamohpobia, anti-semitism and all the other “isms” and phobias that divide our human family.
God has placed God’s Spirit in our hearts, guaranteeing us peace. But for that peace to spread throughout the world, we must unlock our hearts and let our spirits soar. We must open ourselves to the love of God, accept our anointing, and preach the Good News of Jesus: that God loves us all, passionately, and commands us to love each other just as passionately.
Prayer: May I follow the example set by Jesus, Holy God, and by accepting your love in my heart, may I become a force for peace and love in the world. Amen.
Scripture: Leviticus 16:15
“He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it.”
Thought for the Day: Today is Yom Kippur, cheap the Jewish Day of Atonement that follows Rosh Hashanah, rx the New Year. It consists of confession and prayer throughout the day, online in hope that God will forgive us the transgressions we’ve made throughout the year.
This is also a day of reconciliation. Before Yom Kippur, many Jews begin apologizing to others that they may have offended, excluded, or hurt in some way over the past year. Yom Kippur is about reconciliation with God, but one must also reconcile with one’s neighbors.
It should be no surprise then, that the themes of confession, reconciliation and forgiveness are an important part of Christianity. Jesus would have observed some 30 Yom Kippurs. Thirty days of atonement, of forgiveness, of forgiving. Why some biblical figures are shocked when Jesus forgives people’s sins is beyond me. Forgiving each other had been part of Jewish tradition for centuries. Everyone forgives everyone’s transgressions, and ultimately God forgives all of us for acting like jerks the majority of the time.
Confession, atonement and forgiveness are the very keys to a peaceful society, because frankly, we all know when we’ve acted badly, or cheated someone, or acted like a jerk. We know. So asking for God to give us the strength to ‘fess up is the first step in doing our part in creating the kingdom of heaven. Now.
This rather unfortunately named website has the best summary of Yom Kippur I found after pouring through dozens of them online. I think its themes will resonate with all of us.
Prayer: Holy God, give me the strength to both apologize for my sins, and avoid committing them again. Amen.
Thought for the Day: Humans go to war for many reasons. Often, it’s over property. In the Old Testament, there are a lot of property disputes—just as there are still property disputes in the Middle East today. In the OT though, God is involved in settling a lot of these disputes. God guides the Hebrews out of one situation, through another, until finally God leads them to the Promised Land, to safety, to a place where their culture can flourish.
The New Testament picks up on this symbolism, this idea that God will always guide God’s people (which is all of us) to safety. In the NT, God becomes involved in a metaphorical property dispute for our souls, our cosmic makeup. It’s not a battle with the Devil, it’s a battle within ourselves, between the Christ and Ego. We may look peaceful on the outside, but internally, there is a battle being waged, and it’s between our inner Christ, that spark of God that every single one of us has, and our human Ego, which loves to control.
To find inner peace, we have to let go of Ego and let God take control. When Ego is in control, we are selfish and greedy. We go to war over property. When God is in control, we are selfless and focused on service. We recognize the property is not ours to keep or give away in the first place.
Prayer: Giving God, make me aware of my Christ-like nature, and help me consciously cede control of my life to you, Holy Lord, rather than to human Ego. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 34:14
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Thought for the Day: When I was in college in Salt Lake City, stuff Utah, I used to love to go up into the mountains for some quiet moments with God. It didn’t matter whether it was the high heat of summer or the blistering cold of winter. In the mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of a vibrant city, away from the stresses of school, alone and surrounded by God’s breathtaking creation, there was serenity.
When we think about peace, I think we often go right for the big picture—a united world that celebrates diversity and cooperates for the good of humanity; a world without the constant threat of war. While this is of course a noble end game, I wonder if that goal is attainable until more of us find inner peace? Perhaps the path to global peace begins with each of us finding peace within ourselves.
Prayer: God who calms my soul, may I find little spaces of solitude throughout my day to praise you and experience your peaceful nature. Amen.
Thought for the Day: Before I became a teacher, I worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Visiting the MDA Summer camp every year was one aspect of my job that I looked forward to every year. Every MDA camper—children from ages 6 to 21 who struggle with Muscular Dystrophy or one of 40 other different neuromuscular diseases—is paired with their own camp counselor. The counselors are all volunteers from high school age up to adults, who take a week off from their regular jobs to be MDA counselors.
The counselors work hard, often getting up throughout the night to help the campers turn in their beds, etc. I was always amazed by the energy that the counselors still had during the day to play with water blasters, push wheelchairs on a swing, fish, dance, or just sit and talk with their camper. Without fail, if I asked any of the counselors how they were faring, they would beam and tell stories about how wonderful the experience is for them, how much they are learning from the camper, and how they wouldn’t miss this one week of the year for the world. I felt the same way just watching the campers and counselors joyfully interacting with one another.
How thankful I am that learning, and the love of learning, is a two-way street. Our God doesn’t sit in the clouds, point down and tell us what to do. Instead, learning is a “trial and error” daily walk and interaction with our loving creator. Cooperative learning is a highly emphasized strategy in the world of education today. Cooperative learning activities allow students to interact with one another in the learning process rather than all of the instruction being teacher-directed. How applicable to our daily lives. As cooperative learners—with God and with one another—we are at our best, gaining strength and knowledge for our life journey.
Prayer: Holy Teacher, thank you for your patience and loving guidance as I navigate the learning curve of life. Whether at work, at play, teaching, or serving; may my life be a constant, cooperative interaction with you and humankind. Amen.
I have finished my first week in Laos and am enjoying myself very much!!! Everyone is so welcoming and kind. Although the culture is very different, I’m already feeling at home! The Lao people seem to have a very laid back mind set. Madame Xuyen joked about Lao PDR and said, “PDR stands for ‘people don’t run’, because everyone is so relaxed and peaceful here”. I like that!
After only living here for one week, I have learned multiple conversational words and even a song in Lao! On the weekdays, I go to the Donkoi school by tuk- tuk at 8am to help with teaching English. So far, I have taught the third and fourth graders for an hour each day. I stay at the school all day helping and playing with the children. We sing songs, clean, read books, and play outside. The children are not shy at all and they greet me each day with “Sabai dee, Marissa” ( this means “hello, Marissa” in Lao)! They are so cute and very eager to learn! At 2:45, the kids break off into small groups for an hour to participate in after school activities such as weaving, carpentry, soccer, drawing, dance, and theater. I am especially excited to learn how to weave 🙂
The center is very modest, but because of this, very beautiful. It is an extremely ‘green’ campus– one of their huge mottos is “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. There are multiple gardens in and around the school, and the children and staff do an excellent job maintaining them and keeping the plants looking beautiful. There is wonderful artwork everywhere and all of the walls are filled with paintings done by volunteers from all over the world. Madame Xuyen, staff, and volunteers have worked hard to create an effective and fun learning environment for the children of Laos; one that allows them to become educated in all aspects to keep them from falling a prey to drugs and trafficking.
One year of elementary school costs a little under $30, and this is still far too much for many, many Lao families. This cost prevents so many children here in Laos from obtaining basic education. However, families in America spend up to $20,000 a year to send their fifth grader to school. This makes me wonder why more people in countries like this are not being helped? We have the means, let’s make a difference.
After coming to Laos, I have seen lives of extreme simplicity and poverty. Although most of the people here have significantly less material possessions than I do, they seem to be filled with much more gratitude and contentment than any other group of people I have ever met. This, for me, is very thought provoking. I am so very thankful and excited to be involved with this school. Global Ministries does amazing work for people all over the world and I am nothing but grateful to be a part of their mission.