Month: October 2013
Scripture: The Gospel of Thomas 3:20-25
Jesus said, sovaldi sale “If those who lead you say to you, nurse ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you.”
Thought for the Day: The Gospel of Thomas is part of a multitude of works found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. It’s been somewhat controversial, but more and more scholars find Thomas to be very much in line with the canonized Bible. Anyone who was in church last Sunday will immediately see the similarity between what Thomas says here, and what Luke says in 17:20-21. Thomas is just much more blunt.
It’s more obvious to me every day though, that continuing to look for God up in the sky or anywhere beyond and apart from us, is a ginormous misunderstanding of Jesus’ teachings. God is with us, intimately. To walk hand-in-hand with God all the days of our lives is simply a matter of opening our lives to a higher state of consciousness. God is a presence that dwells within us, not separately, but as part of every cell and atom and subatomic particle that ultimately forms us. God awakens us to a higher state of being that eventually changes the world around us forever, one person at a time.
Prayer: Fill my senses with your presence, incredible and intimate God of all being. Amen.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:7
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, site why do you boast as though you did not?
Thought for the Day: American society tends to exalt or condemn individuals. Steve Jobs is responsible for everything great about Apple. Bill Gates birthed Microsoft with a burst of magical lightning from his forefinger. Michael Jordan single-handedly took the Chicago Bulls to six championships. It’s entirely President Obama’s fault that the NSA and Congress are out of control, or it’s entirely to Obama’s credit that this country is finally creating a healthcare system on par with what the rest of the world has had for decades. Way to catch up, U.S.A.!
I don’t know. To me, the idea that everyone in your society should have access to health care, housing, food and education, is a no-brainer. To me, if you’re rich, you have an obligation to share the wealth. That’s not even a biblical consideration, it just seems like common human decency. But maybe common human decency is a myth.
This world needs a major disruption in the same way Jesus disrupted the Roman Empire. We need to start thinking differently about our responsibilities to each other, and we need to lose, once and for all, this ridiculous idea of the self-made person. This country—this world, will thrive only if we begin working together and caring for each other. Like his Jewish ancestors, Jesus understood that human ownership of anything was an affront to God. What would happen if we all started looking at the world differently—not as a place to rape and pillage and turn into private property, but as something that belongs to God and God alone, who grants us the permission to use Earth’s resources? This was Jesus’ wonderful message: None of this is ours, all of it is God’s, therefore we should all be thankful for the abundance of this world, and every single one of us is responsible for making sure every single one of us is cared for.
That’s a world I’d look forward to helping create any day. What about you?
Prayer: Okay God, we have some serious work to do. Move through the hardest hearts of humanity and melt them into instruments of compassion. Remove the filth of greed that permeates our systems, and reveal to us your kin-dom, full of love, cooperation, and mutual concern. Amen.
So often, sales we think of you in large-scale terms:
You are the universe and everything in it,
you are the light and the darkness.
But even as we can barely imagine your immensity,
it’s also difficult for us to imagine your intimacy.
You are closer than even our own breath.
You are the energy that courses through our cells and gives us life.
Your very essence creates us.
We can try to ignore you,
but we can never, ever be separated from you—our Loving Creator.
We worship you today, not because you are beyond us,
but because you are so very,
close to us.
Scripture: 1 John 4:1
Dear friends, remedy do not believe every spirit, sovaldi sale but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, look because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Thought for the Day: Obviously, when you want someone to believe what you’re saying, you tell them to be cautious when listening to opposing viewpoints. It’s an ancient rhetorical device used over and over in the ancient world (and even today). However, when 1 John was written, about 100 years after Christ’s ministry, there were literally thousands of competing ideas about both the person of Jesus (and just how much of his person was divine, if any, and how much of his person was human, if any), and his teachings. John cautions people not only to pay attention to what he’s saying, but to carefully, prayerfully consider what they’re hearing from others as well, and to discard what their hearts tell them simply cannot be.
Hundreds of years before John, and hundreds of years before Jesus, Buddha told his disciples something similar. There were thousands of spiritual teachers wandering around India, and people were confused as to who was speaking deep, spiritual truth. Many teachers urged ascetic forms of spiritual practice—standing on your head for weeks at a time, fasting for months, etc. When Buddha was asked which teachers were telling the truth and which were lying, he responded, “don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.’
In other words, be discerning. Study. Pray. Meditate. Use reason and science and history and literature and all the tools at your disposal to deeply discern eternal, deep spiritual truths, and always ask this simple question: “Does this practice or text or teacher lead to love?”
Prayer: Holy God, whose being is love, grant me a discerning heart and mind, so I will always choose the path of love, and be love for the world. Amen.
Scripture: Proverbs 21:1-3
The king’s heart is like channels of
water in the hand of the Lord;
he directs it wherever he wants.
2 Everyone’s path is straight
in their own eyes, cure
but the Lord weighs the heart.
3 Acting with righteousness and justice
is more valued by the Lord
Thought for the Day: Somewhat unfortunately, look Shirley MacLaine has popularized the idea of “channeling, cure ” a New-Age concept that is actually as old as human thought. Because she claimed to be Princess Leia in a past life, channeling today has come to be associated with beings from the Pleiades, or people like Jon Edwards, who claim to communicate with people from beyond the grave. But there is a more ancient idea of humans as channels, one with deeper spiritual implications.
Throughout Scripture we see humans portrayed as conduits for God’s love, energy, and purpose. In fact, it’s easy to see how the people who wrote the various stories and letters that, over thousands of years, would eventually become the Holy Bible, felt there was an intrinsic, spiritual, hard-to-explain, maybe impossible-to-explain, connection to this thing we call God. This is rarely more evident than in the Jesus cycle, where the son of man is presented as perfectly attuned to the driving force of the universe, and clearly presented as an example for the rest of humanity.
We are more than what we seem. There is much more to us than meets the eye. We have the ability to connect with God, because we are intrinsically channels—conduits through which God is always flowing, and we are perpetually invited to share in this universal communion of love, light, and creation.
Prayer: I know that, like everything, I was created to channel your loving energy, infinite God. Sometimes though, I get a little clogged. Clear out my pipes—clear out the pipes of the world, so we might all become more attuned to your gentle, generous, forgiving nature. Amen.
Scripture: James 1:26-27
If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, rx they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.
Thought for the Day: We are the conduits for God’s activity in the world. When we discover how intimate our relationship is with God, we have a duty to let God work through every cell of our body. Theoretically, when we discover God, when we feel the awe of the universe coarse through our veins, it should completely change the way we think and act. This is God’s activity in our lives. It’s always there. We just have to notice. After we notice, we’re obligated to act. Otherwise our faith is empty.
We are receivers of God’s love, God’s wisdom, and God’s mercy. Like everything else in the universe, we are created as an emanation from the very being of God. Yet, we too often squander our gifts, or worse, ignore them completely. Humans pretend we are the lone intelligence in the universe—masters of our domain, with no accountability to anyone—not to each other, not to God. But this hubris continues to destroy us.
I think we’ve done a pretty good job of messing up the world. Our economic and political systems are a joke—when teachers can’t afford housing and working at McDonald’s can’t pay your bills, but McDonald’s can buy all the politicians it can stick in a pink slime machine, something is terribly wrong.
But this can all change, and the first, easiest step, is to stop believing in the power of the free market, and start believing in the power of a loving God, with us all the time, who weeps at our continued oppression and is at work, even as we read this, to liberate us from the chains that keep us from fulfilling our true human potential, which is perfect unity with God. Because it’s in the realization of that unity that everything changes. Can you realize it?
Prayer: I can see your world new world inching closer every day, Creative God! I pray your mighty hand touches the heart of every warlord, of every politician, of every merchant, and opens their minds to a new, more equitable and just world, aligned in love, and based on the needs of the many, rather than the desires of a few. Amen.
Scripture: Proverbs 20:12
Ears that hear and eyes that see—
the Lord has made them both.
Thought for the Day: I often wonder what the world would look like if human beings decided to take a completely different approach to life. Instead of concentrating on building cities and walls, generic instead of focusing on commerce and wealth, what if we acted more like a natural part of the universe? The trees in the forest don’t worry about creating civilization—they exist as conduits of the singular energy that flows through the universe. The same is true for all flora and fauna. And what about the birds and beasts? Do we see them concerned about international politics? Do we see groups of Lions traveling the world to enslave Chimpanzees, capturing them from their homeland, dragging them thousands of miles across the world, and forcing them to work in service to all the Lions?
What if we organized the world differently, based on the idea that we are all receivers for a universal, eternal broadcast? What if we started believing we were created for something more than mere existence?
I wonder what that world would look like?
Prayer: I know I keep saying this, Holy God, but I’m going to keep asking: Open my eyes, my ears, my heart, and my soul to a deeper understanding of reality. Let me see the world differently. Give me the courage to be your agent of change. I open myself to Your vision, so the world might take on Your nature, our loving, merciful, just, and egalitarian God of all being. Amen.
Thought for the Day: I often find myself thinking about circles. They begin and end at one point—a singularity if you will, order and that beginning/ending can be any point on the circle. Or perhaps more accurately, that beginning/ending is any point on the circle; all points on the circle.
We are all points in God, with our beginning, earthly existence, and earthly (but not eternal) ending in God. We are part of more than the circle of life—we are part of the circle of eternity. We are one point, any point, and all points in the endless stream of consciousness that comes from and returns to the One conscious ocean that creates all reality, all physicality, and all thought.
This means that, essentially, no matter how we attempt to divide and classify humanity into categories based on ethnicity (I don’t like to use the term “race,” because we are all one race—the human race), political interests, or socio-economic status, we are truly just little streams flowing from and to the one great and eternal ocean of creation.
Prayer: As you nourish me, God of life, help me nourish others, that they may lead others to your shores, until we are all aware of being fed directly by you. Amen.