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God is enriching every aspect of your lives

Lectionary reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9

In this first letter from Paul to the Corinthians, he reminds them that not only is he designated by the will of God, but rather that all of them are also called.

Leaving aside my personal bones to pick with Paul, I cannot ignore the deep learnings that are available to us from reading this passage. Each of us, even today, has a calling. These verses remind us that we are up to this task – the task of fulfilling our purpose – because the Divine enriches every aspect of our lives.

I want to explore:

  • What we are invited into?
  • Consider the tools and gifts we are each given to fulfil our life mission.

Your Divine purpose

Every tree, every blade of grass, each bird fulfils a purpose on this planet. When we take the time to simply sit and notice, we see how each living being on earth, whether plant, animal or human, fits into the bigger scheme of life.

Nonetheless, we also see a lot of confusion – internally and in society – about our purpose and callings. Many of us are merely “staying alive” and struggling to survive.

Growing up in a very evangelical church, I was brought up to believe that my purpose would be “a cross to carry”. I was terrified of discovering my purpose, hoping it would not be a calling to go to Africa as a missionary. In churches, we talk about “knowing the will of God in your life”, but most of the time it’s put on us as “you’re called into missions” or “you’re called to preach the word of God”.

But if we take a look at most of the “heroes” of the Bible, we find that they were ordinary people with ordinary jobs. They simply happened to be in the right place at the right time. And when they were asked to step into doing something “big”, their lives had already prepared them for this.

Consider Deborah, for example. While she was considered a prophet, she was busy doing her day-to-day responsibilities of being the local “judge”. I’m pretty sure that she didn’t see her job, most days, as anything out of the ordinary. Especially if you watch any episodes of traffic courts or have ever spent a couple of hours in your local magistrate’s court, you will see the everyday complaints that people bring. There was nothing remarkable about her calling — until there was.

Knowing your Divine purpose starts with recognising that we were already given the necessary gifts to fulfil our mission. Paul reminds the Corinthians of this:

“you are not ill-equipped or slighted on any necessary gifts”.

If you are unsure what your purpose and mission are, a great place to start is looking at your talents and natural gifts and abilities. You have everything you need to fulfil your purpose in life. Because a bird has wings, it flies (or if it’s a chicken, it tries to).

I doubt cherry trees complain to each other that they wish they were able to produce oranges, and yet we waste so much of our time lamenting the gifts and talents that we don’t have.

cherry trees, enriched, loved, divine love, loved by the divine, purpose in life

Today I want to invite you to do an inventory of your natural gifts and talents, and consider your calling and purpose in this light.

Set apart for service

Think for a moment of when you are arranging a table for dinner: you go to the cupboard, and you pick up the plates. If there are four of you for dinner, you don’t choose six plates, but only four. You set them aside for service: the ones that you need when you need them.  The rest of the dishes sit in the cupboard, waiting to be shown when they will be required.

Know this: you have been set aside for service. Perhaps you feel like you are sitting in the cupboard – always on the shelf rather than in the game. I wonder if Deborah thought that she was on the shelf as she worked through listening to all the petty complaints that were brought before her.

But Paul reminds us that our purpose will be revealed.

General callings

There are two other callings, apart from our life purpose. We are called to be saints, and we are called into community.

Called to be saints

While Deborah might have been “a saint”, the first description of Deborah was that she was the wife of Lapidoth. I wonder if Lapidoth considered her to be “a saint”; probably not in the way that you and I imagine the word to mean.

So, today I invite you to rewrite your definition of what it means to be a saint!

The calling to be saints is about how we live our day-to-day lives. If I had to sum it up in one word, I would say it’s compassion: 

  • Love for the Divine, with a constant connection that we are overflowing with love and compassion
  • Love for our neighbour as ourself

Compassion allows us to be kind and patient. It will enable us to live with love in our lives, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:

  • not envious, proud or boastful
  • not self-seeking or dishonouring others
  • it keeps no record of wrongs and is not easily angered
  • protects
  • trusts
  • hopes
  • perseveres

We are all called to live in this place of being fulling aligned with Divine Love. What is your personal definition of what it means to live as a saint? Make it realistic for you, rather than something so out of reach that you could not aspire to live each day in sainthood!

Called into community

You are also called into community: that we cannot live in isolation. Take a moment and consider what your community looks like:

  • family
  • friends
  • work colleagues
  • hobbies and activities that you participate in
  • volunteering & community activities
  • your neighbourhood where you live
  • your spiritual community

What does your community look like?

spiritual community, volunteering, charity, neighbourhood, family relationships, social life, professional relationships

God is enriching every aspect of your life

You are promised that nothing is lacking because you have all the gifts that you need. Paul describes this as

God is enriching every aspect of your lives.

He then goes on to explain what he means by this.

You are enriched in speech

This means, when you are in touch with the Divine and that deep inner knowing, you will have the right words to say. Enriched in speech is knowing what to say and when to say nothing.

Most of us want to think about what to say. We make up scenarios and speeches in our head, failing to listen to the still small voice of Spirit.

Consider silence and just going within to listen, confident that you are enriched in speech.

You are enriched in knowledge

Everything you need to know, you will know. Can you trust this?

My first “real job” at sixteen was working as a cashier at McDonald’s: “Would you like fries with that?”. Later in life, I have come to cherish what I learned from “would you like fries with that?” – because it is a lesson in upselling. McDonald’s sells millions of fries every year because of this simple phrase. The client is already there, and they have their wallet in their hand, ready to buy something. The cashier doesn’t know what the client wants, and often the result of the question is “no, but I will have…”. While they didn’t sell the fries, they got an additional sale from the client.

This mundane, everyday job taught me a skill that has served me well over the past thirty years. Am I always open to adding more value to someone else’s life?

You, too, are enriched with knowledge. You have life experiences, abilities and life lessons that you possibly haven’t tapped into. You might not be aware of everything you know.

But trust that you know everything that you need to know when you need it.  You are enriched with knowledge.

Enriched with God’s grace, peace & faithfulness

Today I want to remind you that you are enriched with grace, peace and faithfulness. I don’t mean that you show others mercy, but instead that you accept grace, be open to a peace that transcends your understanding, and that you experience Divine faithfulness towards you.

“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.”(John Stott)

It is said that the grace of God is the opposite of karma – it’s receiving the good that you do not deserve because you are a child of God. You are loved and cherished. In my life, I can see where I have blocked grace, continuing to believe that I deserve punishment and the consequences of my decisions and actions. Nonetheless, we are enriched with grace. Are you willing to accept more grace?

enriched with grace, peace that passes understanding, peace that transforms, faithfulness

We are also enriched with peace: that peace that while we are waiting, we will be sustained emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. It’s the peace that we hold within us, even in the middle of the storm. This inner peace does not depend on what is happening in our environment. While we are aware of the situation and in touch with it – we are present – but we also connect with the Divine. It is that Divine that allows us to say

I am not overcome by the storm, because I am one with the storm.

Sometimes storms clear our path. Can you recognise this inner peace which sustains you while you wait?

Finally, the Divine is faithful, constant and true. When I say we are enriched with faithfulness, I am not referring to your faith in God, but rather how the Divine relates to you! It doesn’t matter how small your faith is, but rather that we know that Divine Love is faithful. We can trust that all things are working for our good and that we are enriched with all good things.


Our response to this is one of gratitude and thanksgiving.

If you are struggling to discover your purpose, consider a daily practice of gratitude, where you each day you focus your attention and thanksgiving on your talents, gifts, strengths and abilities. Start to notice the patterns and what you genuinely enjoy. Be grateful for the desires of your heart and the wisdom and insight that you gain from being present.

Take note of the times when you receive grace: when in spite of the natural consequences of your choices and decisions, you get a second chance! Practice thanksgiving for all those opportunities.

Start to notice when you are filled with peace, in spite of the situations and challenges you are facing. Be grateful for those moments.

Notice the presence of the Divine in your life in each moment of the day. Sit in silence and be thankful.

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How to live as a child of God

Lectionary: John 1: (1-9) 10-18

We call ourselves Christians (followers of Christ), and yet Jesus says that we are children of God.

What’s the difference?

Does it matter whether I think of myself as a Christian or a child of God? Does seeing myself as a Christian limit me to being a follower of Christ, while a child of God encompasses something different? How does our language impact our thoughts and perception?

Children often resemble their parents, imitate them, and strive to be more like them (or less like them as a teenager and young adult). In some cases, we strive to make our parents proud.

Genesis begins saying that mankind (male and female) was made in the image of God. Even in Acts, we find Paul stating that in God, we live, move and exist. We are God’s offspring.

Does being a child of God, rather than a Christian, offer more security, authority, assurance and faith? Do you feel more obliged to live with confidence, discipline and earn your family inheritance, as opposed to when you call yourself a Christian?

What impact does “family likeness” have on you, when you compare “Christian” = imitating and being like your family of Christians and child of God = imitating and being like the Divine Creator, rather than other people?

Similarly, what effect does it have on your self-image to look at yourself as divine creation? Can you see yourself as the emanation of Love, Life & Truth? How does this impact your feelings of self-worth? Could you be less defensive and more courageous as a child of God?

Does Jesus invite you to be a Christian?

I don’t believe so.

Without a doubt, Jesus didn’t invent the term, Christian. In fact, he didn’t even use the name “Christ“. (Consider that he would have spoken in Aramaic, rather than Greek – to start with. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός) – Bickerman). The first reference we find the Christians is actually in Antioch – Acts 11:26 – referring to Paul and other apostles, not even to the eleven disciples.

Nonetheless, Jesus called himself the Son of God, referring to God as his Father. Throughout the gospels, he invites us to see ourselves as children of God.

Remember Nicodemus: here, Jesus suggests that all of us are to be “born again”. Go through a spiritual process of rebirth. Culturally, the ancients used birth to describe experiences of crisis – often women were close to death as they struggled to bring new life into the world. How much crying and pain is involved in birthing? The same happens with our spiritual birthing, as we recognise our spiritual existence and awakening. It might even be messy to symbolically accept that we also are children of God. Often, it is an ongoing experience of growing pains as we peel off layers and burdens we have been carrying to reveal Spirit within us and allow more light to shine through us!

I sat down with the universe and told her I wanted to grow. I told her to use me as a vessel. So she made me uncomfortable. She stripped me of everything I knew. Made me learn how to be silent, how to let go, how to move on, how to stand my ground, how to be more understanding, how to fight, how to survive, how to be more assertive, more loving, less naive. She told me to take everything I have learned and share it with others. Unknown

Can you see and recognise your spiritual potential within, the way that Spirit sees it within you?

Imagine for a moment that you have this invitation:

  • think like Jesus;
  • act like Jesus;
  • love others with Absolute Love;
  • forgive others to the same extent that he practised forgiveness;
  • pray, meditate and recharge your spiritual batteries each and every day to fully charged;
  • practise healing like Jesus did; and
  • live your life to the fullness of your personal purpose.

So, how does a child of God pray?

When you are living as a child of God, it influences every area of life, including prayer.

  • When you ask for wisdom and direction, you wait to hear the response. Can you believe that you can know the mind of God and tap into Infinite Wisdom?
  • If you ask to learn how to do something, imagine practising nonstop until you have mastered it.
  • When you ask to be introduced to the right teacher, you pay attention to the lessons.
  • Upon asking for protection, you allow yourself to be protected.

As a child of God, you have a right to claim health and wellbeing, expressing health, strength and infinite life in your spiritual body, healing your physical body.

John reminds us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Are you holding onto the power of that Word within you? Do you call it into being and create with the force and power of being a child of God?

Having faith in your Divine power

We can all read how Jesus lived and breathed his faith. He believed that he was the Son of God and therefore exercised the confidence and power that came with this. Do you apply that same hope and trust? We are promised God’s gift of eternal love and power.

And yet, I fail to grasp it in my daily life! I know that for my continual growth, I am strengthened and tested. I also have a deep faith that all the testing and strengthening is for a purpose. I am being made stronger FOR SOMETHING, not just to be tested!

But I am still learning to say with conviction and assurance:

  • I am love as my Father is love.
  • I am unbridled joy as my Divine Creator is joy.
  • I forgive as Divine Love is forgiving.
  • I am prosperous as Spirit within me prospers.
  • I have access and deserve all abundance of this Earth and Heavens, as a child of the Divine.
  • Peace floods my soul as peace floods the Kingdom of Heaven. As the Kingdom of Heaven is within me, peace floods through every cell of my being.

No. I haven’t yet reached that place of total faith in my Divine power. But each day, I continue to recognise that I am a child of Divine Love, not merely a follower of Christ.

This changes my relationship with the Divine

When you are someone’s child, you cannot become more or less of their child. This gives me the certainty that I cannot become “more” of a child of God through my actions or merits, any more than I can become less of a child of God through my failures and mistakes. I have the certainty of being a child.

Unfortunately, many of us judge our relationship with the Divine according to our earthly experiences and broken families. We recognise that parents will disown you or mistreat you, and so judge Spirit accordingly.

But being a child of God is part of your innate nature, the same way that your genes and DNA are inherited. It is part of who you are, internally. You have a divine inheritance, all the power and divinity, this and more.

Are you willing to claim it and live according to your purpose?

Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth as an Heir

God is Spirit, and as children of God, we are spiritual beings, not just human beings. We live on this earth in human form, but our bodies are merely our “spacesuits” for this planet. Ultimately, our essence is spirit, and we are called to worship and live in Spirit and in Truth.

A Christian is a follower of Christ. But in many respects, this limits us to human existence. This limitation of physical body, emotions, thoughts and actions, rather than acknowledging all that we are as spiritual essence and energy.

When we accept that we are children of God, we open ourselves up to the spiritual realm of existence: born of the Spirit, already eternal.

As you go about your day, remember that Divine Love is your rightful inheritance, with everything that this envelops.



Bickerman, Elias J. (April 1949). “The Name of Christians”. The Harvard Theological Review42 (2): 109–124

this is my prayer, my prayer for you, strong and powerful, filled with God, strong and powerful, filled with the fullness of God, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, indwelt by the fullness of the Divine, the Divine in me, the Divine in you, the temple of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit

My prayer for you: strong and powerful – filled with Divine Love

Revised Common Lectionary readings: Colossians 1: 11-20

At the beginning of almost all of Paul or other apostles letters, we find a section of “this is my prayer for you”. So, if you imagine you were writing, or even talking, to someone that you care about, and you are saying to them “this is the intention and space that I hold for you each day”.

What would you say to them?

Consider, for a moment a son or daughter, a nephew or niece, your significant other or perhaps just a friend that you have. What desire would you hold in your heart for them?

As we have a look at what Paul says to the Colossians in his letter, I want you to hold in your mind and prayers one person. Take a moment, before we start, to consider who you will hold this prayer for. And when we finish, I will ask you again to bring this person back to mind and consider how you would change this prayer for this person.

Made strong

Life can be hard and we all pass through difficult situations. Sometimes, we find it hard to find the strength to fight. And when we are told that we are made strong, this doesn’t refer to the physical strength, but to emotional and mental strength and fortitude.

Typically, the strength of something is measured according to the force or pressure that it can withstand! Think, for example, of a flood wall. And I pray that you are made strong — strong enough to withstand whatever flood you are facing at the moment.

Unfortunately, strength comes from experiences, often from tough, cold, painful and raw experiences.

They say that in Japan some scientists were doing an experiment on trees. They gave them perfect growing conditions – airtight, where they would not be subject to harsh winds, or even breeze. They watered them gently. Just enough water. And they made sure that they got the perfect amount of sunlight. All of the trees, sometime between three to four months of growth, all fell over. Without the breeze and the weather… they failed to grow strong!

So, my prayer for you this morning is that you, while knowing suffering, you rise above it! That in spite of the blows of change that you might be facing, may you have the fortitude to stand steady.

Because being strong is both vulnerable as well as fierce. It’s being independent, while knowing that you are supported and loved.

rise up, strength, grow strong, overcome hardship


I pray for you that you will be powerful – whether with tears flowing fiercely and freely – or tears of joy and happiness. That you be vulnerably strong.

Know that your power lies in the present moment, in being here, in doing what you can now. Your power does not lie in the past, as it is no more. Know that you cannot ignore the present, it’s not enough to hope and pray for a better future – but in doing what you can today with what you have.

Endure everything with patience

I pray that you understand that strength is patient, it is persevering and enduring. Sometimes, this means having the power to wait out the storm. Know that this too shall pass.

At other times, your patience and strength will be in knowing that you have to keep your eye on the prize and take that small step forward, no matter how difficult and hard it feels. Don’t give up, in spite of the difficulties.

I pray that you have the wisdom to know when to back down and walk away and when to hold your ground or forge forward. That you have the courage to change what you need to change, the compassion and serenity to accept what cannot be changed, and the patience and wisdom that comes from knowing the difference.

Joyfully giving thanks

I pray that in spite of the mixed emotions that come from facing difficult moments, and wanting to complain when life appears to be falling apart, that you find what you are grateful for. Even at this time.

Let me envision you finding and maintaining a gratitude practice that brings you inner peace and joy. Even if this week we are celebrating Thanksgiving, that you have a practice of giving thanks each and every day. I pray that you find grateful appreciation for all of your circumstances and not just the great experiences of life.

I know that others might see you as being strong – and maybe your inner truth is that we are just getting through a tough situation the best that you can – but I pray that you find joy and inner peace in all of this moment.

May you recognise that a gratitude practice is called practice, because there are some days that it feels like a workout, rather than a joyful moment. So just keep practising!

joyfully give thanks, giving thanks, thanksgiving, count your blessings,

Rescued from the power of darkness

Today I pray that you remember that you have been (or maybe today you just need to hear that you can be) rescued from the power of darkness. If you are in the darkness of depression and/or anxiety, know that I hold this space for you.

Some days, you simply have to acknowledge and accept the turmoil, sadness, hurt and struggle that you are going through. And after acknowledging and accepting those feelings, be willing to release them and let them go. They do not define who you are – emotions are intended to pass through us. You are not required to hold onto them or store them within you.

Other times, this darkness means accepting the failures, the mistakes of the past, and I pray that you have the strength to stop beating yourself up. My prayer for you is that you recognise that you have the power to choose – or not – whether you are going to continue carrying all that baggage with you into the present and future.

I pray that you recognise that you have been rescued from the impotence of feeling afraid. This doesn’t mean that you will no longer feel fear. The fear will still be there to warn you of danger – but I pray that you also feel the calm inner strength and peace that passes all understanding. Know that the situation does not control you but that you can control how you respond. Choose your thoughts, then choose your words, so that you may choose your actions.

I can’t promise that this will be easy, but my prayer is that you see the light in the darkness.

Received forgiveness

I pray that you remember at all times that God is love, and because God is love, Love forgives. Your part – your role – is to accept forgiveness.

Are you strong enough – humble enough – to accept love and forgiveness? I pray that your pride does not stand in the way – that you get caught up in “I can’t forgive myself”. Because I know that you are not more than Divine Love. I know that I am not greater than Divine Love.

Who am I – who are you – to say that what I did is bigger and more important than Spirit? I pray that we never allow our past to become an idol – to stand between us and receiving forgiveness!

I pray that you always have the strength to let go of your ego, and make space where you can always receive forgiveness.

In the same way that you receive it, I pray that you will give it freely.

made in the image, invisible God, characteristics of God, attributes of God

The image of the invisible God

Genesis may remind us that we were made – man and woman / male and female – in the image of God. But Colossians reminds us that Christ was the walking image of the invisible God – the Way.

This is how you do it.

These are the attributes and characteristics that each and every one of us should have, when we are truly have made enough space in our lives – that WE are filled with the fullness of God.

And so, I pray that you, might have a Christ consciousness, that you show all the attributes of Divine Love. I pray that you be light, love, power, might, strength, wholeness, compassion, mercy and caring in this world.

In whom all things were created

Because you are the image of the Invisible Spirit and Creator of all, may you be made new, making something from nothing, and making more from something. May you speak it into existence, starting with the seed of an idea in your mind, knowing that if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you too might move mountains!

Know that the same Spirit that hovered over the waters of the deep, that separated the land from waters, lives in you. You have that same strength and power to know that relationship with the Divine, through whom all things are created and made new.

I pray that you see the role that you have been playing – that you have an awareness of the power and strength that has been entrusted to you – and that you stop playing small.

In whom all things hold together

Scientists talk about the Cosmic Glue that holds all things together – the force within that they do not yet understand. I pray that you understand that the Divine lives in you, and that the same power that holds all of the Universe together, is holding you together – down to each individual atom within each cell of your body.

You have survived 100% of the days – good and bad – that life has thrown at you so far.

And now, I pray that you consider – on a spiritual, mental and emotional level – what’s holding you together when you are pushed and pulled by life. I pray that you notice that when you want to fall apart, that you notice what sustains you in those times.

Have an awareness of Spirit within you – the Cosmic Glue – that simply allows you to keep it all together, even when it feels that the world is falling apart.

Making so much space for the Divine in your life

I pray that you make so much space for Spirit in your life, that the fullness of all that God is –

  • eternal
  • infinite
  • good
  • gracious
  • merciful
  • loving & compassionate
  • kind
  • whole & holy
  • omnipresent
  • omnipotent, all-powerful and strong
  • omniscient
  • mysterious and yet simple
  • truth
  • faithful, immutable & unchanging
  • wise

be within you. That the same way that the fullness of God was pleased to dwell within Christ, that it be pleased to dwell within you.

Being One with all things

That you truly understand, today and always, that you are One with all that God is. That you see within each other, the way that the Divine sees in you, the potential of what might be. And that you support and sustain each other, so that each and every one of us here, might enjoy that indwelling of the fullness of God.

This is my prayer.

Strong is my only choice. So, today I choose to be strong. I may never know how strong I am, but I am stronger than this.
Strong is my only choice. So, today I choose to be strong. I may never know how strong I am, but I am stronger than this.
do not be weary in doing what is right, kindness, feed the hungry, work, living in idleness, toil and labor, worked night and day, an example to imitate, unwilling to work, mere busybodies, work quietly, earn their own living

Do not be weary in doing what is right

Revised Common Lectionary readings: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Our reading from the revised common lectionary is a passage from Paul to the church in Thessaloniki (and I won’t get into the debate about whether this was even written by Paul or by another leader in the Church).

Irrespective of authorship, some of the recriminations to the church are just as valid today as they were 2,000 years ago. He’s talking about the free-loaders. Those who are just along for an easy ride and are not pulling their weight.

Remember, the early church lived in community, where everyone’s needs were taken care of by the collective. So, they all poured what they had into the coffers and then the church took care of making sure that everyone received their meals and were cared for.

Nonetheless, there were some that Thessalonians says were living in idleness, being busybodies. I am sure that it was more than just “living in idleness” and being “mere busybodies” – because if you have ever worked in an office with a staff member that was idle and a busy-body, you know how that can drag the entire team down!

You get one person that is busy watching everyone else work and full of gossip and criticism of how the job is being done, and what is and is not right, and before long, you have two discontent workers, then three, and then four.

Rather than each person working quietly, each taking care of their own responsibilities and getting the job done, now you have negativity and complaints running rampant. And it all starts with one person feeling that they aren’t required to break a sweat like the rest.

The writer of Thessalonians counters this, saying I gave an example to imitate, by my own toil and labour. I worked night and day, so that others could see that no one is entitled and everyone should earn their own living.

This is a very practical perspective of living, even within the church – a look into human nature and what happens when we start to think that God will supply all of our needs, like Santa Claus, rather than looking to the nature of the Creator.

what are you working on, show, don't tell, loving-kindness, work quietly, doing justice, walking humbly

What does doing right look like from a spiritual perspective?

Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” 

– Harold S. Kushner

If we look at this from a more spiritual perspective, rather than the very practical one we find in Thessalonians, what can we find? How can we live better in community with each other and with the Eternal?

Connected with God and doing right

Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know him better. But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love.

1 John 4:7-8 (TLB)

For starters, and it’s more than just a suggestion – we are called to BE loving and kind. Those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God.

Would the people that know you well describe you as loving and kind? I’m not talking about your personality, whether you are charismatic or introverted. I’m not even talking about how well you relate to crowds of people.

But, when you treat others, closely – how would those that know you describe you? Do you show that you are child of God simply by being loving and kind?

This doesn’t mean that you don’t exercise boundaries, or that you become a people-pleaser! You can be loving and kind and say “no, I won’t do that for you“. It does not mean that you have to be another person’s doormat, trampled on, in order to show you love them and are kind to them.

But if you are not loving and kind what are you filled with?

I’ve used this metaphor before – when you squeeze a lemon, lemon juice comes out. If you bump into someone, carrying a cup of coffee, they spill their coffee. And when someone knocks into you, what spills out of you? Is it loving-kindness?

World Kindness day

Wednesday, November 13, was World Kindness Day. The internet was alight with examples of how to practice kindness – random acts of kindness, small acts of kindness, and celebrations of kindness in the community.

But, as Christians, as those who claim to be children of the Creator, followers of Christ, we are told that we are to be filled daily with love and kindness.

Not as something that we celebrate one day of each year.

But that as a demonstration of this is who we are.

if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love

1 John 4:8

How are you doing in your day-to-day life, showing that you are a child of God?

day-to-day, child of God, loving and kind, god is love, this is who we are

What does the Eternal ask of you?

No. He has told you, mortals, what is good in His sight.
    What else does the Eternal ask of you
But to live justly and to love kindness
    and to walk with your True God in all humility?

Micah 6:8 (VOICE)

Other versions translate this as act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

It’s a really simple formula:

  • live justly
  • love mercy / love kindness
  • walk humbly with your God

Take a moment for some true self-awareness. To see yourself as others would see you. As they might feel that they have been treated by you.

Would they say that you live justly? That you love mercy and kindness? That you walk humbly with your God?

In what ways do you need to allow yourself to change, to strip away the ego and the self, to allow transformation through the renewing of your mind to take place?

Hard lessons of spiritual growth

While it’s true that we are told to not be weary in doing what is right, in showing kindness, feeding the hungry and working quietly, there are two important lessons that I have learned and continue to learn.

The first is this:

Fill your cup – don’t try to do this in your own strength

The reason that we find ourselves short-tempered and failing at being full of loving-kindness is because we’ve gone back to ego and self. When we try to do it all through “toil and labour”, rather than from a place of being a child of the Divine – filled with Divine Love.

Consider the difference between: we are separate and “should” love, and remembering that we are filled with love and that this is what flows from us naturally. How much easier is it to just focus on being filled with the love of the Divine, allowing it to flow from us effortlessly, versus trying to do it as an act of our own strength?

If I am short-tempered and irritable – it’s not just about me fixing my attitude. The problem is MY attitude – that “separateness” from the Divine. When the ego and I began to play the game, rather than simply being a conduit of Divine love through me.

The solution is discovering where I got off track – at which part of the day did I fail to refill my tank? When did I start to do this in my own strength, rather than remembering that I am simply the vessel that holds the Divine within me?

And the second lesson is:

Show, don’t teach

This one is even harder. How often do you say to your children – “do as I say, not as I do“?

People aren’t so much interested in what we have to say, at least when it doesn’t align with what we do. They are more busy watching us, looking for the authenticity in our words and actions.

Can you walk the talk of kindness? Can you truly be loving, allowing the Divine to flow through you?

Show, don’t tell.

The challenge for all us of is to live a life of loving-kindness that is an example for others to imitate, each working quietly, doing justice and walking humbly.

What would that look like in your life?

How can you put this into practice today?

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” – Harold S. Kushner
“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” – Harold S. Kushner
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When humility is your greatest strength

I’ve said that possibly the Bible is one of the best self-help books out there, and today’s parable by Jesus is a great example of one of the deep lessons that we can learn about the power of humility.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, humility is

freedom from pride or arrogance the quality or state of being humble

We go on to read in the definition: Both it and humble have their origin in the Latin word humilis, meaning “low.”

So, when we talk about being humble and humility, we often cite verses from the Bible such as:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

— Proverbs 11:2

You can easily find 100 or more verses in the Bible that speak about pride and/or humility. And the parable that Jesus uses today in Luke is a prime example:

A Pharisee and a Tax Collector
Jesus told a story to some people who thought they were better than others and who looked down on everyone else:
10 Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12 I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.”
13 The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.”
14 Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honoured.”

Luke 18:9-14 (CEV)

Humility is not some old-fashioned Bible trait – it’s a strength that allows us to learn from life and experience.

For the Pharisee, there was nothing more to learn or improve – he had already reached his pinnacle. But for the tax collector, he was beginning a journey.

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Top-down leadership versus influence

If you want to simply tell others what to do, in a style of top-down leadership, it might be enough just to have confidence and the power of persuasion. Like the Pharisee, you can rely entirely on your ability to “follow the rules” and be boastful and proud of your achievements.

You can keep your distance from the crowd, and hold yourself up as better than others.

But if you are looking to create lasting change in an organisation (or a church), then you need influence. For influence, you need to seek and hear feedback, focusing on the needs of others and listening to opinions.

Pride will not allow you to do this effectively, because you not able to love your neighbour as yourself, when you consider yourself better than your neighbour!

What benefits do you reap from humility?

Humility allows you to stay in touch with your emotions, responses and more importantly with the effect you have on others.

When you are humble, you connect with others, having empathy with them and noticing their reactions and responses, because it’s not “all about you” and your ego. When you are able to stop worrying about “what do others think of me”, you can focus on “how are others experiencing me”. This allows a new relationship to develop, one of giving and receiving.

Because you are connected with others, you are also able to notice their needs. The Pharisee was unable to connect with those in the crowd, because he was busy looking at his own accomplishments. While the tax collector was focused on his mistakes and his need for forgiveness, he could also notice what others needed in forgiveness and acceptance.

When we notice needs, we can tend to them, look out for their best interests, not solely our own. This opens up a space for loving your neighbour as yourself, as well as living in the presence of the Divine – being connected.

And as you learn to listen to others, obtain their input and feedback, you receive a better image of the facts. A more complete picture. This allows for better decision-making.

Imagine a construction site, with a supervisor that is unapproachable. If there is a problem with the cement, and no one dares approach and speak up – how many decisions is he making based on the wrong information? How far up the wrong path will he get before the problem is noticed and solved?

People want to be valued and heard, which means that we are all looking for leaders that are approachable. Humility allows us to listen, giving us an opportunity for better decision-making.

But humility helps us in other ways, not simply leadership.

Firstly, it is an asset for self-improvement. When you are humble and open to feedback from others, you are open to see opportunities for change and growth. You listen and you look, because you don’t presume to know it all. You are open to listening to the still, small voice of Spirit when it chides and calls your attention to an inappropriate response.

The Pharisee believed he had already learned all there was to know. He was busy filling his head with what he was already doing – rather than noticing if there was more to be done. Was there any space in his life for true communion with the Creator – or was he too busy showing off how good he already was?

A confident person is not necessarily skilled or good at what they do. They may have a false confidence, one that is simply based in their pride in having nothing left to learn or know. A skilled person, however, can be quietly confident, though humble, in relying on their experience and abilities. Is your relationship with the Divine confident or skilled?

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What does humility look when you encounter it?

If you are truly ready to be shown – to learn and grow – you need to get comfortable with ambiguity, that place where “I don’t have all the answers.” Because not everything is black and white all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to know the best answer, the right choice.

Humility allows you to admit this – to yourself and to others.

But humility also shows the way forward – because it allows you to open up to listening and to asking others for advice. A humble person is open to learning, they are teachable and curious.

They will seek out others that know more, so that they can improve their ability to respond and handle the situations that life shows them. And because they are open and transparent – others are more inclined to work with them. To share with them. To teach them.

Think back on the last time you encountered an arrogant person demanding that you share with them information or knowledge.

How did you respond?

Consider, on the other hand, how you responded when someone approached you with genuine curiosity, with interest in learning from you?

Another characteristic of humility is the ability to admit mistakes – to stop playing the blame game and step up and accept responsibility. If decisions were made that were wrong, rather than looking for a scapegoat, this person is willing to own their role and responsibility. This breeds trust. Because you don’t need to protect yourself from this person – they are not going to throw you under the bus to save themselves!

Consider a moment the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – who would you rather be standing next to if they’d made a mistake? Who would you receive better treatment from? Which one of them might ask you for forgiveness if they were wrong?

Learning true humility

Like any path of self-improvement or personal development, humility is something that we have to intentionally learn – unless you choose to learn it the hard way through pride coming before a fall!

But, if you want to intentionally learn humility, and avoid the harshness of falling flat on your face, here are some suggestions for learning humility.

Self-awareness and reflection – like any other part of personal growth, become aware of how you see yourself and how you are relating to others. This goes hand-in-hand with accepting yourself, seeing clearly where you are really at in life’s journey.

learning true humility, journal, keep a journal, self-improvement, personal development

And accepting others, exactly as they are. Without loading on their shoulders your expectations of how they should be.

Take off your rose-coloured glasses and have a good look at the present moment – your situation, the quality of your relationships, your thoughts and emotions.

Just become aware.

When you focus on the present – this is who I am right now – you have the choice to strive to do better. But the only place you can actually start from is where you really are. Not some imagined (better) version of yourself that you want to be!

Once you know where you really are at, then you can ask for help from others to get to where you want to be! When you’re humble, there’s no shame in asking someone to mentor you, coach you, or simply to give you advice or a helping hand! Perhaps you just need someone to listen – ask.

It’s through using emotional intelligence that we start to bring humility to our relationships. We become aware of what we say and how we respond, and then we notice how others are reacting and responding to us.

Self-awareness and emotional intelligence allow us to notice our triggers. “This makes me mad.” or “This upsets me.” And once I know what my triggers are, I can go back to the depths of the trigger — why does this trigger me? What is the underlying cause of this that I haven’t actually acknowledged or dealt with yet?

The strengths of humility

Humility is not about being passive, submission, insecure or a doormat! It allows you to take the risk of speaking your mind, even if you might be wrong. And if you are wrong, being willing to then listen to the other sides of the story, until you discover the truth.

Humility allows you align your decision-making with your values and your internal compass of what is right — recognising the needs and concerns of others with compassion while making the best possible decision for everyone (including yourself).

Most importantly, humility allows you to seek a win-win solution because no one has to lose in order for you to win! Ego does not require the parade of winners and losers, because you have chosen humility.

Humility is a place where actions speak louder than words – where constant learning and growth are the name of the game: emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Because when you know you don’t have all the answers, there is a seeking of the Presence of the Divine in every moment of every day.

the road to healing, healing and gratitude, the ten lepers, giving thanks, returning to community, healing miracles, immediate healing, true healing, emotional and spiritual healing, receiving blessings, connecting with spiritual power, expressing gratitude

Seven lessons in presence, healing and gratitude

Today’s story comes from Luke 17:11-19. This is one of those passages that has academics debating whether or not it happened.

But does it really matter whether or not it happened as Luke presents it?

“Stories can be true without being literally and factually true.”

― Marcus J. Borg, The Heart of Christianity

Here, I’m not going to delve into the factual inconsistencies – but rather focus on the Truth that we can discover through the story of ten lepers healed.

Only one came back to say thank you.

My first question to myself is one of simple awareness in my every day life: If I receive ten miracles, did I only notice and give thanks for one of them?

How aware are you of the miracles you experience each day?

Seven lessons from Luke

But lets dive in, deeper, to the lessons available to us from the story Luke shares of the ten lepers.

The Divine meets us where we are

#1 – The Divine meets us where we are:

We are told that Jesus is travelling to Jerusalem, and somewhere crossing from Galilee into Samaria, he comes upon a village with ten lepers.

What strikes me about this – God always meets us where we are! The road to healing starts where we are. While we might feel distant from the Divine, we can breathe in the life of the Divine at any time.

We simply need to open our eyes to see that the Divine has already arrived.

#2 – Being lepers – they were taught to keep their distance

In what ways have you been told to keep your distance – that you cannot come close, that you are unworthy? Perhaps you’ve been told that you are unclean and not worthy of being part of society, or the Church, or your family.

For whatever reason, on whatever scale, you are keeping your distance. You are standing far off.

For some people, this happens because they learned that they must earn everything – and if you don’t have “everything” – it’s because you are obviously not “enough”.

  • Perhaps, it’s because you can’t stop smoking
  • You’re normal, but “different”
  • You’re the black sheep of your family
  • You allowed yourself to be rejected, cheated on, led on, and/or played – not once, but many times. How could you possibly not have learned the lessons yet?
  • You’re gay
  • Your life is a mess – you haven’t got a job or you are struggling to make ends meet
  • You’ve made a huge mistake, and feel that you can’t forgive yourself.
  • You’re exhausted and burnt out – you just can’t keep holding it all together.
  • You dropped the ball, and now everyone is blaming you.
  • You’re failing at being a model citizen / model mother / model father / model son/daughter
  • You’ve become a human doing, rather than a human being – and you’re afraid that if you stop doing, other will cease to appreciate you
  • You are suffering from anxiety, depression, deep grief and sadness – and you feel like you cannot move on, while everyone else is expecting you to just get over it.

Perhaps it’s even an illness, like an auto-immune disease, that others cannot easily see the symptoms of. Maybe you have suffered a trauma, and you are a survivor of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, that has lead to depression, anxiety or PTSD. Or you might have suffered a debilitating injury that you feel keeps you separate from the world.

Whatever it is that plagues you, you get caught in a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to self-loathing, depression, anxiety, perfectionism, apathy, and sadness. Like the lepers, you feel disconnected, alienated, separate, and alone.

And so, even when the Divine is present, you keep your distance.

Even when the Divine is present, you keep your distance

#3 The lepers called out – asking for mercy

When we turn to the Divine, when we ask for mercy, we may be healed immediately. Mercy is the Christlike treatment of suffering – the true overcoming of the pain and separation.

It’s interesting to note that they did not ask for healing – to be restored to their original purity or integrity – but only for treatment of their suffering.

Consider, for a moment, how many times, instead of asking for a complete healing, have you simply asked for an end of the suffering – the pain and separation?

Rather than daring to believe that you can be returned to wholeness and integrity – it would be just enough if this didn’t hurt any more! Could you dare to believe and hope in more than just less pain and suffering?

Could you dare to have faith that you might be whole?

#4 The Divine response: end your isolation

The first step, of course, in the healing process is to believe (something that happens on the emotional and mental level), and from there you open up to receiving the stream of healing life. But we have to exercise our faith, using our words and actions, so that the work is manifest and accomplished in our lives.

The true healing – the receiving of the blessings – takes place when the lepers end their isolation by returning to their community.

The Divine response – go and show yourselves to the priests – rejoin your community, there is no reason to keep your distance and be isolated. On the one level, if we see the priests as a metaphor for that place between the spiritual and the material worlds – we are also being told to reconnect the spiritual and physical.

“Go to the priests” is another way of saying – make a connection with the healing power of the Divine – connect your material situation with the spiritual aspects of life.

On a pragmatic level, as leprosy was a common disease, especially among the poor, it was left to the priests to decide whether the victims actually had leprosy or some minor skin disease. But only the priests could pronounce a leper clean, re-establishing their ability to rejoin community life.

The command to show themselves to the priests was confirmation of their healing – that they would receive permission to rejoin their community and end their isolation.

In what ways does your healing journey require that you end your isolation?

end your isolation, return to your community,

#5 Action required – faith is more than believing

It was only as the lepers went – as they exercised their faith in movement and action – that they became clean. Luke tells us “while still on their way”.

In what areas of your life have you asked I AM for a miracle, received a response of inspired action, and then sat waiting for your miracle to happen without actually moving your feet?

When you pray, move your feet.

African Proverb

When you sit in the silence of prayer and the presence of the Divine, when you hear the still, small voice of Spirit – receiving an instruction of inspired action – now it falls on you to take action.

You have to move.


The miracle happened for the lepers because they acted on their faith. They couldn’t immediately see the results of their request coming to fruition – it was as they were on their way to the priests that the healing occurred.

Where in your life have you received the answer and you’re still stuck – sitting still – waiting for the miracle to happen before you move?

Take a moment to recognise that sometimes healing miracles happen when you step forward in faith. Perhaps you can only see one step ahead – you only know the next right step.

Take that step.

#6 An act of gratitude

Following on in the story of the lepers, we then read that one of them turned back, once he realised he had been healed, to show his gratitude and acknowledgement of the source of his healing experience.

This was not about acknowledging Jesus, the man, but the source of his healing – the Divine. We read that he knelt in gratitude, and praised God.

Once again, it is interesting to note that the man who is grateful is a Samaritan – a foreigner, an outsider. This leaves us believing that the other nine were Jewish, belongers, with families and communities that they were in a hurry to return to.

For me, the lesson here is to celebrate the victories – taking a moment for gratitude. Before you rush back into your responsibilities – your family, your community, or even your chores – when you experience a miracle, no matter how small – take a moment to acknowledge it!

Perhaps you have a gratitude practice that you do at the end of each day – or maybe you take a moment at each meal to give thanks. But get in the habit, as small miracles and victories happen in your life – to acknowledge them and especially to acknowledge the Source of all: the allness of Good.

But get in the habit, as small miracles and victories happen in your life - to acknowledge them and especially to acknowledge the Source of all: the allness of Good.

#7 Total healing includes being grateful for the miracle – then spiritual healing occurs

The story finishes with Jesus asking, after the one man has returned:

“Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?”

How often is it that it’s an “outsider” that really sees the truth, not those that are the closest to the truth? But the emotional and spiritual healing that was available, when this man acknowledged the source of his healing and miracle, was a making whole.

Healing is to make hale, sound or whole: to restore to original purity or integrity. It is to return us to perfect connection and Oneness with the Divine.

We are told that the tenth man is not only healed, but also “saved” – in the sense of a full connecting with the spiritual power of the Divine. He receives a double miracle – not just the physical healing and wholeness, but also a faith renewed that allows him to see the Divine within.

What miracles are in store for you when you connect with the Source of All – when you recognise that I AM is always near and available for you, as the source of all you are and can be?

Today you have an invitation to end the separation and isolation, and become whole and perfect.

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Single-mindedness – No slave can serve two masters

Where attention goes – energy flows.

As you set about your day, today, what were your thoughts focused upon? Who were you serving as you prepared breakfast?
As you drank your coffee?

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Proverbs 4:23

What were you thinking about?

We are warned:

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

But even more than that, in James we are told that when we ask for anything in prayer, we are to believe that it is ours, otherwise, it will never be. There is no room for doubt in our mind when we ask because if we hold onto doubt while asking, we should expect to receive nothing.

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Which God do you serve?

In this Sunday sermon, I want to take on a challenging topic – challenging for me, personally, that is!

In recent days, I’ve posted about living in faith, rather than living in fear. When I am living in fear, I am focused on the external – what I might lose. When I am living in faith, the focus is internal, on my beingness and enoughness with Spirit.

Today’s lectionary readings come from Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 and Luke 14:25-33. And the question in both passages is very simple:

Which God do you serve?

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Growing weary: why do I have to continue doing what is right?

Lectionary reading

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up

Galatians 6: 7 & 9  (ESV)

I just finished writing a blog post about burnout and recovering from getting burnt out. It reminded me of a sermon I gave recently at Balboa Union Church – based on the above reading from Galatians 6. We are challenged to not grow weary of doing good — in spite of the challenges.

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