Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Ambition and competition is the engine of capitalism. However, the Kingdom of Heaven runs on humility.

Heaven is a society of humble citizens, which seems far removed from our world, almost alien. We are hooked on the Adrenalin of getting ahead and securing our place in this world, so much so that we can’t imagine life without it. We think if we take all of that out of the equation, what else is there left to do in Heaven? Well, taking a genuine interest in other beings (human beings included) would be a good start to wean ourselves off of this mindset.

Humility – What a concept! James wrote in one of his letters (James 3:13):

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. “

Humility stems from wisdom. The wiser we are the humbler we become. Life has a way of humbling us, and that’s a good thing. I believe that blunders, failures, frustrations and roadblocks are encouraging growth in wisdom. We learn empathy. How else could we relate to other people’s misfortunes if not through misfortunes of our own? The frustrations that we go through bring us closer together. We realize we’re “only” human. We recognize our limitations.

We will grow a crop of wisdom if we open our eyes wide and see other people around us fighting the same battle as we do. Instead of being entirely consumed by self-interest (which ignores the interests of others), we’ll become intrigued by other people’s stories. The minute we begin to feel empathy is the beginning of wisdom.

The bedrock of all charity work is both noticing and listening. We are not blind to a need, and we are not deaf to a good suggestion. This refreshing approach makes life on Earth much more enjoyable. Living this way, we are simply mirroring the lifestyle of Heaven. It’s beautiful. It’s simple. It’s inspiring.

Notice someone today. Pay attention to the undercurrent of a conversation. Follow one of these rabbit trails and you will end up learning something new. Taking interest in someone else’s story creates a better story. That’s the beauty of wisdom and humility.

1 John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

There is no such thing as stagnant love. Love is always on the move. A person who is loved will naturally spread love. To him or her it’s as natural to love as it is to breathe. We will love generously in as much as we receive love abundantly.

There is abundant love to be had, the question is do we know that? And if we know it, do we receive it? God has always loved us; the problem is that we don’t always notice. God’s love is the big elephant in the room that some of us don’t care to acknowledge. Of course God is way ahead of us in the love-game. He has made up His mind about us a long time ago. He promises to love us forever and ever. As far as God is concerned, He knows what He is doing. As far as we are concerned, not so much!

The ball is in our court, which means, we have to make up our minds sooner or later (hopefully sooner rather than later) whether or not we want to open up to the Almighty, believe He exists and believe in His love for us.

Believing in His love is a big deal. His kind of love is unheard of. He simply loves like no other. We will experience His amazing love as we get to know Him. However, we won’t experience much of Him unless we believe in Him. So, in a way it’s a catch 22. But then, God is the One who knocks on our doors and who does all the public relations to get our attention. God is not known to be quiet. It’s actually pretty difficult not to notice Him. An Elephant in the room is pretty obvious.

We have our reasons for being reluctant with God. God is God, and we are not. How can we love God who is beyond anything we can imagine? The answer is simpler than we might think. In the book of Genesis we read (Genesis 1:27):

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

We were made in His image. We have more in common with God Almighty than we are aware of. The bond that exists between Creator and Created is very real. God sees Himself in us, and we can see ourselves in Him. This does not mean we are God, but it certainly means we are from God. And related to God as we are, we can certainly learn to love Him.

If love is missing in our lives, we feel as good as dead. Loveless, we’re aching to receive love and end up looking for love in all the wrong places. We may be estranged from the Godhead, but we are not too far gone. We can meet Him, we can fall in love with Him, and we can spend an eternity to get to know Him.

You know I love you, I always will
My mind’s made up by the way that I feel
There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end
‘Cause on my love you can depend

Philippians 2:1-2: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”

We recognize an auto immune disease when a body’s immune system goes bonkers and starts attacking and damaging its own tissues. We also recognize a family is in deep trouble when family members won’t stop hurting each other. We all need unity and peace. Our bodies can’t function without it. Societies can’t function without it.

The source of all peace, Jesus, aka the Prince of Peace, will help us pursue unity and turn us into peacemakers. Speaking of making peace: what about ending war? Wouldn’t it behoove the Prince of Peace to eliminate global warfare? Curiously, ending military conflicts has never been first on His agenda – His peace movement will eventually lead to that, but first and foremost Jesus is interested in bringing peace to the human soul. Wherever we are, whoever we are, His peace offer stands – if He finds you knocking on Heaven’s door, He will open it wide and let you in.

In the 66 books of the Bible peace is mentioned 249 times. Today’s world is riddled with friction, and this is probably the reason why the Bible emphasizes our need for peace. A disciple whom Jesus nicknamed Peter wrote in one of his letters (1 Peter 3:8):

“Finally all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a recipe for peace! According to Peter’s recommendations, here are its listed ingredients:

  • Be of one mind – to be on the same page with another person requires a lot of communication. Do not take anything for granted. Ask questions to clarify, and explain your own thought process.
  • Sympathize – walking in someone else’s shoes is generally an eye opener.
  • Love – treat every person with respect.
  • Be tenderhearted – empathy goes a long way and is a blessing for anybody facing life’s rough patches.
  • Be humble – humility brings people together; pride on the other hand represents a major stumbling block on our road to peace. Remain curious what others have to say, validate people’s input.

Agreement, consensus, and harmony by no means come easy; we need a lot of help! But even if we end up agreeing to disagree, at least we show some respect for the difference in point of view without ridiculing each other. That’s what peacemakers do. We’re golden in God’s eyes if we live by those standards. So, as the coming days unfold, above all: let’s all stay gold!

Life is but a twinkling of an eye
Yet filled with sorrow and compassion
Though not imagined, all things that happen
Will age to old, though gold!  
                                (Stevie Wonder)

Psalm 121:1-2: “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

Looking up we can see the sky, but the sky isn’t the limit. Looking up we can see the Lord.

Seeing the Lord depends on our outlook. We can put our head in the sand and refuse to see anything. We can put our head in the clouds and keep on dreaming. Or we can be curious, open our eyes wide and discover the truth.

We can paint the world around us black and white and only notice our differences instead of seeing what brings us together. What is the magic bond connecting us? Here it is: We’re all human and we’re all created by one wonderful Creator.

Looking up comes natural. In our heart of hearts we know God is there. We want to connect with Him because He is the reason we’re here. Who can understand the intricately woven fabrics of our hearts? Who can get through the maze of neurons firing up in our brains? Our thought processes are many, our shifting emotions multi-layered. None of us is one-dimensional. The more we understand this, the better we fare.

Looking up is a change in perspective. I believe one reason why people climb mountains is to get a better view. And a better view is what we crave when we temporarily step away from an overwhelming reality. We want to see the big picture, the grand scheme of things.

Looking up is talking with God and listening to His input. Listening to God expands our world view and shapes us into strong and patient human beings. What the world needs now, more than ever, is patience. Impatience successfully eradicates life. Patience, on the other hand, builds up and heals. Here is an illustration of God’s patience by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 42:3):

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

We know what often happens to bruised people: They get more bruises. A smoldering wick needs to be rekindled, not thrown out or trampled into the dust. Looking up we are able to see potential. Hope is reintroduced. How cool is that!

Looking up, we help make this world a better place.

Let’s keep looking!

Isaiah 46:4: “I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

The “circle of life” is deeply embedded into the human psyche. If we have children we generally take great comfort in the fact that our gene pool lives on even though we pass away. When Jacob, alias Israel first embraced his son Joseph whom he had pictured dead for decades, he was ready to pass on that torch and die (Genesis 46:30):

“Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

People with no children will try to leave a different kind of legacy. If we are honest, we just hate the notion that we will cease to exist at some point. It’s just something that rubs us the wrong way and feels unnatural to us, a good indicator that it didn’t used to be that way.

If we go back to the beginning, we find that creation was set up without corruption, without the aging process, and without death. So, originally, we’re not made to age. Aging set in when death entered creation, and death entered creation after the first couple decided to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, even though God advised Adam and Eve not to touch it (Genesis 2:17):

“But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

We are the first couple’s progeny and as such, death is in our gene pool, which means that we are programmed to age and pass away. Here is the good news though: God has been faithful. He has helped human beings throughout their lifespan offering a home for the human soul after their physical departure from this earth.

God has been graciously dealing with a problem that He did not create: death. God never wanted us to die. Not only did we get ourselves into deep trouble but we also dragged all of creation into it: Clothed in animal skins, the first to die in God’s new creation were animals. The first human being to experience death was Abel, murdered by his brother Cain, both events setting the stage of mankind’s violent tendencies.

What an amazing God we have coming through for us with an action plan to save us – if we let Him. Two things won’t change: God’s love for us, and the fact that we can make our own choices. We are free to take it or leave it. As far as God is concerned: He is for us. As far as we are concerned: we need to make up our minds. God wants to take care of us. Do we take His hand?

“You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to go through
Find a girl, settle down
If you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy

All the times that I’ve cried
Keeping all the things I knew inside
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it
If they were right I’d agree
But it’s them they know, not me
Now there’s a way
And I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go”


Song lyrics “Father and Son” by Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. Since 1998 he operates a small hotel in London oriented towards Islamic travelers.
Posted in Age

John 14:23: “Jesus replied, ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.’”

Everybody has gone through the logistics of moving at some point: breaking up our old domicile, packing and unpacking, and making a new home at a different location. This comes with establishing new stomping ground – finding the new neighborhood café, the nearest gas station, the most reasonably priced dry cleaner. We have been hanging pictures on our walls and planting flowers around our front porch – and believe it or not: we’re not even close to the finish line! There are still many more projects to come!

I believe similar logistics happen on a soul level when the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make their appearance. God moving in is no minor event, and establishing His stomping ground is no one-day-affair. The reality of our hearts’ domicile is that just like any other fixer-upper that we’ve seen, it will take time and patience to transform our hearts into suitable living space for the Trinity. We are a work-in-progress, and on that note, I think God showed a good sense of humor when His Son Jesus was born into a Carpenter’s family. Ask anybody with woodworking abilities. If you have a Carpenter’s background, then you are in good shape working on any fixer upper projects coming your way. Following is an excerpt of a Construction Carpenter job description on America’s Job exchange, which happens to be of great metaphorical use:

“Job Summary:

Responsible for designing, building, installing, and repairing structures, fixtures, furniture, and other items using different types of materials including wood and steel.

Primary responsibilities

  • Remodel homes and businesses.
  • Work with materials such as wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall.
  • Utilize chisels, planes, saws, drills, and sanders to repair and erect structures.
  • Join materials with nails, screws, staples, or adhesives.
  • Install cabinets, partitions, doors, and windows.
  • Build stairs, mantles, and furniture.”

Just picture yourself to be a run-down house the Lord wants to renovate. God is known to renew His children from the inside out, as Paul wrote in one of his letters (2 Corinthians 4:16):

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

The more God is settled in within us, the more we will get to know Him personally. He is so much more than what people in general perceive as the God of the Ten Commandments. “You shall” and “you shall not” pretty much portrays God in black and white, while letting Him move in adds color and depth to His profile. Just as the light of the rising Sun immerses the world in color, so our life will become more and more colorful in the presence of God.

“This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now it trembles in the darkness
When the lightning walks about

Ain’t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend no window pane
Ain’t gonna need this house no longer
I’m gettin’ ready to meet the saints” 
(by Stuart Hamblen)

Psalm 95:6-7: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”

It all starts with a thought. Quoting Melanie Matthews:

“Do you think about reading? What about writing? How about speaking? Do you think about listening? Well, literacy is all four of these things.”

Melanie Matthews is a District Literacy Coach at Washington-Parks Academy and Lincoln-King Academy, and she makes a point. Gaining literacy starts with a thought. We want to be able to read. We want to be able to understand written messages. Just think about the impact of reading and writing! More than an additional way to communicate, it helps us connect with people of the past and present. We can read what they wrote down and be inspired. With literacy we learn to master an entire skill-set: reading, writing, listening and speaking. As a result, a whole new world opens up.

Literacy is based on more than just one factor. So is our walk with God.

Walking with God is a multilayered affair. It starts with expecting that God has something to say. He actually weighs in to anything that matters in our lives. And listening to God’s input, we find ourselves under His care. This may come as a surprise, but truth of the matter is, God cannot care for us if we don’t listen to Him. It’s a catch-22 situation, one of these mutually conflicting conditions: we want God to care, but then we don’t care about what He has to say – well, one doesn’t go without the other.

Listening to God is the key to discovering a brand-new world: the Kingdom of God.

Listening to God, we learn the art of lending an impartial and unbiased ear. God Himself listens this way. He has no preconceived notions. He has no prejudice. Listening the God-way is worth its weight in gold in today’s world. I venture to say that the world lacks listeners, which is why it becomes increasingly illiterate. Listening and reading well ultimately leads to speaking and writing well. That’s how we make a difference.

All goodness starts with a key-thought: wanting to know God. Wanting to know Him, we’ll find Him – and finding Him we have everything.

Been listening all the night long
Been listening all the day
Will I listen for the one you know?
Will I listen, will I pray? – Johnny Flynn