Daily Wonder 4-30-13

Scripture: Luke 18:9-13
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, sovaldi sale Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, pharmacy one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

Thought for the Day: I remember studying the art of meditation, many decades ago, with someone who really emphasized the “oneness” of humanity. But when confronted with difficult people or situations, she would say, “There, but for the grace of God, so go I.” Many of you might have read a similar sentiment in a self-help book by someone like Tony Robbins or Joel Osteen. But I have a problem with this phrase, because it still sets the person reciting it apart from everyone else, just like the Pharisee thought he was better than everyone else. It’s as if we are somehow better because God is with us, but not with that other person—I have God’s grace, but the other person does not.

This is simply not true. We all have the grace of God with us, no matter our station, our appearance, our ability or lack thereof, our health or lack thereof, or anything else we think sets us apart and makes us either glorified or a sinner. We are all beloved and forgiven—that’s the meaning of grace, no exceptions.

The sinner in this story isn’t really doing any better than the Pharisee though, because believing we’re sinners means we believe we’re lacking something, which means we believe what others say about us—that we’re missing God’s grace somehow. This also is not true. The grace of God, the glory of Christ, and the instructions of Jesus bless each and every one of us, all the time. None of us is awash in sin, and none of us should be thanking God that we’re “better” than someone else. Because through God’s eyes, we’re all accepted and loved, all the time.

The real problem is that so few of us actually believe that.

Prayer: Make me believe, Lord, that I am truly worthy of your affection—of any affection. Remind me, often, that I am no better than any of my brothers and sisters. We are all seekers, striving to find our way. Help us accept each other and support each other as we strive to be more like Christ; as we strive to create a world of peace, love, harmony, and respect. Amen.

Daily Wonder 4-29-13

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

Thought for the Day:  Jesus saves the lost, case at least in part, sovaldi sale by teaching and showing us what it means to be truly human. Jesus created a way, pills a teaching that has lasted 2000 years. His ideas shine like a beacon in the darkness, leading us out of the illusion of materialism and into a new world of deep spiritual oneness with God. Jesus teaches an awakening of consciousness, and a deepening of spirit, that completely transforms our perception of reality. Jesus helps us find our way to our own personal relationship with God.

We are lost in the material world. Jesus reminds us of this over and over: we are lost, all humankind equally, whether prince or pauper. We have forgotten our way to God, and perhaps more importantly, we have forgotten we are from God. For me, one of the most powerful ways Jesus saves is by reminding me that I am an intimate part of God’s being—loved, forgiven, self-aware, and worthy, despite appearances.

Prayer: Awaken me to the truth of living, God of Life, so that I might resist the illusion of materialism and be more powerfully possessed by your transforming Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Wonder 4-26-13

Desiderata
By Max Ehrmann, rx 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, find
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Thought for the Day: Ehrmann’s poem has become a classic, but was little known in his era. Desiderata is obviously influenced by the pain and suffering of the depression, yet it is ultimately a poem of hope, trust in God, and confidence that the universe, and humanity, is beautiful, no matter how ugly it may seem to us at the moment.

Prayer: Give me peace, Holy God. Give me hope. Give me love. Help me find my beauty. Then, strengthened and inspired by you, send me to help others. Amen.

Daily Wonder 4-25-13

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

Scripture: Jeremiah, clinic 6:16
This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look, recipe ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Thought for the Day: Florida’s FCAT testing for elementary, middle, and high school students has just ended. Everyone involved breathes a sigh of relief with that dreaded annual event behind us. Students spend months and even years (beginning in kindergarten) preparing for the FCAT, with an extensive amount of time devoted to developing test-taking strategies that will help them perform well on these standardized tests.

During FCAT testing weeks, students are instructed to eat better breakfasts, get more sleep, and to come to school ready to perform well on the test. Everyone in the school environment is tense. School ratings and jobs depend on the students’ performance. Most students take the test seriously and worry about scoring well, so they can move to the next grade level or be placed in the courses that they want. Wow. What would happen if all of this energy was devoted to meaningful learning rather than successful testing and performance?

How often in our lives do we narrow our focus to perform well on life’s next test, at the expense of nurturing our souls? Our lives mean more than the next test. Every day of our existence has the potential to be a transforming learning experience, not just a measure of how much we’ve accomplished compared to “the world’s” standards.

Prayer: Holy Teacher, when I am striving to meet the challenges of the day, and survive the tests of life, remind me of my true purpose. Fortify my mind, body, and soul with the wisdom, strength, and love I experience in daily communion with you. Amen.

Daily Wonder 4-24-13

Scripture: Jeremiah 11:16
The Lord called you a thriving olive tree
with fruit beautiful in form.
But with the roar of a mighty storm
he will set it on fire, sale
and its branches will be broken.

Thought for the Day: I think, unhealthy like too many passages in the Bible, viagra sale this message from Jeremiah has been interpreted to mean that if we do something God disapproves of, we’ll be punished. But this entire theology of reward and punishment is archaic. We need to divest ourselves of the idea that God is a Supreme Judge, and worse, that the Supreme Judge always disapproves of our actions. Have you ever noticed that? Most religions go on and on about how God loves us, but then if we do something wrong (and “wrong” is very broadly defined in very limited human terms) then suddenly, God’s love is punitive. We’ve turned God into an angry, abusive parent. It’s unhealthy and insulting.

The problem Jeremiah illustrates here is not that God punishes us when we’re bad, but rather that we do it to ourselves. Humans constantly do things to disturb our conscious connection with That Which Is and Ever Shall Be. Our branches are broken not because we somehow pissed off God, but because we completely ignore our built-in connection to God—the Christ, for Christians, but a connection that has many names.

We are the mighty storm, setting fire to everything in our paths. Can we please stop blaming God for the fact humans are so often insensitive, arrogant, selfish jerks? How about taking responsibility for our own actions? More importantly, how about understanding that we are beautiful, and that we have the ability to bear beautiful fruit, every single one of us, no matter our color, religion, gender, sexual preference, or any other thing we mistakenly think separates us from each other and God. We are one, people. We are one people. All of us, united with each other, with the stars and planets, with God. Let’s do more than simply “believe” these things are true. Let’s start living like we know we’re connected to God. Because it’s only in living the connection that the really beautiful stuff happens. Anything else is lip service, a broken branch hanging from a beautiful, perfect tree.

Prayer: I am beautiful, in every single way. You are beautiful in every single way. All of creation is beautiful, in every single way. Praise be to the Creator of all reality, for beauty is everywhere. Now remind me these things are true, God, and remind me often. Amen.

Daily Wonder 4-23-13

Scripture: Job 38:31
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?

Thought for the Day: It’s so easy to get sidetracked by the minutiae of life. Humans are creatures of habit, diagnosis and we get into routines—grab a coffee, go to the office, start putting fires out, work all day and come home to work some more. We all know the old adage “take some time to stop and smell the roses,” but when you’re not even noticing the roses blooming, stopping to smell them is impossible.

God’s magnificent universe is full of beauty that can reignite our souls, fire our imaginations, and free us from the minutiae (if even for a few sublime moments), but we do have to make a conscious decision to take note of the beauty around us. For me, looking at a late evening sky reminds me that I am just a tiny part of a galaxy that is more enormous than I can imagine. Then, I remember that our galaxy is just a tiny part of a larger universe, which is itself just one of trillions and trillions of universes. I find awe of God in nature, from a rose bush to the Milky Way, and it reminds me that life is a fabulous expression of beauty. But like the roses, we need to stop and appreciate life every now and then too, rather than simply going through the motions.

Need some inspiration? Check out some of these Hubble Space Telescope photos.

Prayer: With you by my side, Holy Lover, I truly see the wonder of life, the beauty of the universe, and your awesome presence in all of nature. Amen.

Daily Wonder 4-22-13

Scripture: Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news, health
who proclaim peace, sildenafil
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Thought for the Day: It’s funny, in a sad sort of way, that our modern civilization is so obsessed by beauty, yet we’re not really beautiful people. Oh sure, we can look at the photoshopped images in magazines, or the distortions of reality we see through the television lens, and say “He/She is beautiful,” but that’s not really beauty, it’s marketing. And Photoshop. Lots and lots of Photoshop.

Beauty doesn’t need to be Photoshopped, though. This is not to say that attractive people aren’t beautiful. Rather, I want to expand our idea of what “beauty” is, to include more than physical appearance. Are we acting as a beautiful reflection of God’s image, or not? Because ugliness is when we act contrary to the image—the perfect, beautiful image—we were created in. And yes, we are more than capable of behaving righteously. We’re not helpless. That’s an excuse. We are all called to be beautiful. Whether or not we answer that call is up to us. But we all have the capability.

Prayer: Open my eyes so I can see the beauty of everyone and everything around me, O Holy and Eternally Beautiful God. Amen.

Daily Wonder 4-19-13

Scripture: Psalm 115:15
May you be blessed by the Lord, hospital
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Thought for the Day: Even in the darkest of times, health when we might be most unaware of God’s presence, advice God’s blessings flow to and through us all the time. Part of our spiritual journey is a journey of awakening to a greater sense of reality, a more complete reality than the one that only sees, hears, touches, tastes and smells this material world.

There is mystery and wonder to the universe, and that mystery and wonder created us as perfect, loving, merciful beings. But somewhere along our evolutionary journey, we lost our way. Perhaps we have fallen asleep, no longer conscious of our true nature, our God-like, Christ-like, Buddha-like, Krishna-like, enlightened-being-like nature of love, a nature of unity with each other and all of reality. WE ARE ALL ONE, all of us with every person and every thing. We are one.

As violence and hatred surround us, we must be very careful to remain focused and centered on God, who keeps us calm in the storm, and gives us the strength to confront the face of evil with a heart of love. I know it seems contrary to logic, because for so long humans have responded to violence with more violence. But this cycle simply must end, and we must end it. Violence must be met with compassion and love, or this entire human experiment will be over in a nuclear flash. The funny (and also disappointing) thing is, the faster we learn this lesson, the faster we’ll actually have a peaceful planet, where nobody goes hungry, nobody goes without shelter, and nobody lives in fear.

I mean, seriously people, haven’t we lived in fear long enough?

Prayer: Shake me into consciousness, God of all consciousness! I’m tired of sleeping in the world of violence. Awaken me to your world of love, and send me forth as a beacon of hope in a world that mistakenly thinks it’s hopeless. Amen.