Scripture: Colossians 3:9-11 (NIV)
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Thought for the Day: The author of this letter, who was likely a student or associate of Paul—perhaps even Epaphras, the founder of the church in Colossae, was urging the Colossians to remain true to Jesus’ teachings with the entirety of their being, body and soul. At the time, the early church was being challenged by other schools of early Christian thought, which were teaching ascetic self-abasement, the worship of angels, and inhumane treatment of other human beings.

As it was then, today it is still difficult to live a life that is true to Jesus’ principles of compassion, social justice, liberation, and egalitarian love—even for our perceived enemies. But if we are to live as new beings in Christ, with renewed knowledge of our intimate relationship with God, we must be disciplined in thought and action. As Tony and I were driving to Orlando last Friday for a regional gathering, I saw a sign that said, “If you love your enemies, soon you won’t have any.” Through the archetype of the Christ, God has shown us that we are all equally loved and equally welcomed in the kingdom of God, a kingdom that is alive and at work, here and now, a kingdom in which the love of Christ is in all, no matter what we call ourselves.

Prayer: May you help me live an authentic life, inspired and guided by you, Holy God. May you open my heart, so that no matter the label we choose to give ourselves, we ultimately realize that you, most compassionate and loving Lord God, teach us all to love and respect each other’s differences. Amen.


Daily Devotional 06-10-2012

Scripture: Psalm 51:10 (NRSV)
Create in me a clean heart, purchase O God, health and put a new and right spirit within me.

Thought for the Day: I’ve recently started using a really cool website and app called YouVersion. It gives you the opportunity to study many different translations of the Bible, to create reading plans, and to communicate with other people opening their hearts to God. It’s a great learning tool, but also an excellent way to remind yourself to carve out a few minutes each day to spend time connecting with the Divine. God is always ready to create us anew, for in fact, God has created a universe of constant renewal.

Yet, we need to take advantage of the opportunities God lays at our feet as well. We are given new paths, we are given clean hearts, and our spirit is indeed put right by God. To maintain that connection though, let’s find ways to take a few minutes out of our busy days to praise God more deeply; to thank God for making a way for us, even when things seem most dire. Modern tools such as YouVersion are awesome gifts that allow us to spend a few moments contemplating our connection with the divine no matter where we find ourselves, both physically and spiritually, each day of our lives.

Prayer: Thank you, dear God, for constantly creating a new spirit within us, a Spirit that inspires us to create new ways to come closer to you. Amen.

Daily Devotional 06-09-2012

Scripture: James 5:16 (The Message)
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

Thought for the Day: We are the church at least in part because there is power in a loving community and their prayers. When we become church, we join together as we are, with all the glorious imperfections that make us human. Acceptance of people for who they are is one of the key messages of the Gospel. And as we accept each other unconditionally in church, welcoming all who walk through our doors as an equal brother or sister in Spirit, we then go out as people of God, able to accept others with unconditional love, too. Hopefully, people of faith set an example of tolerance, love, and willingness to listen to each other’s confessions when we all invariably mess up once in awhile.

When we pray together, it does create a force to be reckoned with. As James explains prayer though, it is not a way to manipulate God, or a form of magic that somehow creates the material things you desire. Rather, prayer is what makes us whole, what helps reconcile us to God, and in those moments of intense Divine connection, we resonate with the energy of the entire universe. And that is a powerful force, indeed.

Prayer: O God of endless imagination, I pray you ignite my soul with the energy to become a peaceful, loving, and compassionate person. May all my prayers help unite humanity in the proclamation of your ceaseless creative and reconciling activity in our lives. Amen.

Daily Devotional 06-08-2012

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NRSV)
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Thought for the Day: When Paul wrote this letter, treat the church in Corinth was deeply divided. Corinth was an incredibly diverse city because it was located on a major trade route. So, the church was also incredibly diverse, composed of people from all walks of life: men, women, rich, poor, free people and slaves.

Unfortunately, the church began to divide not only along class lines, but also at the communion table and over one’s spiritual gifts, valuing some of God’s gifts more highly than others. In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds the community that each gift is given not for selfish purposes, or to exalt one human more highly than another, but rather for the good of the entire community. God’s gift of the Spirit is not meant to divide us, and is not to be used for self-aggrandizement. God’s gift of the Spirit is meant for “the common good,” to help the whole of society become a more equitable, just, and sharing community. The Spirit helps us live the life exemplified by Jesus, and Jesus lived his life and died for every single one of us, equally, regardless of social status.

Prayer: Glorious God, may your Spirit compel me to live a life of selflessness. May I follow Jesus’ example and be a person of compassion, willing to share my gifts ceaselessly, and fighting for those of us whom artificial prejudices cause to be excluded from worship or service to the Lord. Amen.

Daily Devotional 06-07-2012

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NRSV)
All this is from God, nurse who reconciled us to himself through Christ, thumb and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Thought for the Day: In theological terms “reconciliation” means “to bring into harmony.” Paul believed that God’s activity in Jesus brought humanity—all of us, to a place of harmony with God. Moreover, this reconciliation is something we can experience in our lives. We can live in harmony with God, today and every day, by acknowledging that the Holy Spirit is active in our lives. 

In musical terms, harmony is a note that compliments the melody. In a similar manner, when our lives are reconciled to God, we become the notes that complement the Eternal Divine One. Like the final chorus of Beethoven’s glorious Ninth Symphony (the “Ode to Joy”), every human life begins to resonate in perfect harmony with every other human life, and we all resonate as equally important notes in God’s divine masterpiece.

Prayer: May my soul be played in perfect harmony with you and for your glory, O melodious God, the composer of my life. Amen.

Daily Devotional 06-06-2012

Scripture: Psalm 138:1-3 (The Message)
Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, store thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, rx most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength.

Thought for the Day: There is a strength and power in the Universe that courses through everyone and everything that exists, seen and unseen. Whether you call it superstring theory or God, the very substance of our creation unites us all. We are all made of star stuff, as Carl Sagan was fond of saying. We all share the same basic elementary makeup of particles with everything else that exists, and some of those elements are billions and billions of years old, stretching back to the very creation of the universe. I find that to be an awesome reminder of the creative power of God. Awesome.

I have felt the power of the eternal God in my life, changing me, shaping me, leading me to new and exciting adventures, igniting my curiosity. I have seen examples of the Christ—selfless, giving, universally caring and compassionate, beyond judgment of race, religion or sex (or sexual orientation) in people all over the world. Daily, I am compelled to my knees and elated to say “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, O God, and for continually stepping into my life, and the lives of so many people around the globe. Through us all, may you continue to transform the world into your compassionate and loving kingdom.

Prayer: Glorious and loving God, thank you for carrying me fearlessly into new journeys, for allowing me to serve you, and for blessing humanity with your presence, now and forever. Amen.

 

Daily Devotional 5-31-2012

Scripture: Isaiah 6:3-5
And one called to another and said: “Holy, decease holy, sildenafil holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Thought for the Day: We could learn much from Isaiah’s reaction to God’s presence. Immediately, he falls to his knees and proclaims his unworthiness—and not just his unworthiness, but also the unworthiness of all his brothers and sisters. For Isaiah knew that no human has any right to claim they are somehow more worthy of God’s love than another, and that indeed, none of us is truly worthy. Yet God loves us all still. Equally. No exceptions.

Jesus spent most of his ministry with the orphan, the widow, the leper and the outcasts of society, never condemning them for their lot in life. In fact, it was the least of us who Jesus proclaimed would be the first in God’s kingdom. Jesus had no use for judgmental hypocrites. Jesus’ message is one of God’s universal love for all of us. Equally. No exceptions.

Perhaps our greatest duty as children of God is to be humble in the face of the Lord. It’s so simple. Yet it’s nearly impossible to turn on the radio or the TV without hearing somebody call someone else a name, want to lock them up behind an electric fence, and worse, use the Bible or Jesus or God as a reason to do so. What happened to humility?

Prayer: I know I am unworthy of your presence Lord, but I thank you with all my soul for your activity in my life. May I constantly remember that through you, we are made complete, and that, no matter what any human says, all of us are welcome in your loving embrace. Equally. No exceptions. Amen.

Daily Devotional 5-30-2012

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
All this is from God, troche who reconciled us to himself through Christ, ed and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, store in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Thought for the Day: In the fascinating book, The Master and His Emissary, neurological psychologist Iain McGilchrist, describes an ongoing evolutionary battle between the two hemispheres of the human brain. The right hemisphere is responsible for empathy, the subtleties of relationship, faith, and emotional reactions to speech, sound and music. It’s our sensitive side. The left hemisphere is responsible for math, motor control, and the “re-presentation” of life in words. It’s our reality perceptor.

McGilchrist claims the two hemispheres are in constant competition, and that one of the left hemisphere’s strengths is its ability to declare itself dominant. Hence, the history of humankind, especially of the 20th century, is the history of the left hemisphere’s ability with math, tools, computers, and verbal thinking, to the point that left-hemisphere thinking has become institutionalized. The left hemisphere of our brains has been in control the last several thousand years, so that we now live in a world of its construct: mechanized, manipulative and competitive. It is an unsustainable model. The right hemisphere’s capacities for empathy and compassion have been marginalized.

Obviously, this has been a model for self-destruction. We need to reconcile the two halves of our brain as God has reconciled humanity to God’s self, so that our incredible capacity for technological innovation is tempered by an equal amount of empathy and compassion for each other and our planet. We are living half a life when we ignore our right-hemisphere’s request to allow God’s reconciliation to make a change in our behavior.

Prayer: Remind me constantly, merciful Lord, of my Christ-like capacity for compassion and love. May I re-present the world through Christ, spreading the message of reconciliation by displaying in my life, endless and unceasing compassion for my brothers, sisters, and this glorious planet. Amen.