wisdom, creative compassion, courage to act, fear of the Lord, wise action, taking action, generative wisdom, being wise, transformed, renewing of your mind, heart of stone, heart of flesh, vulnerable, open to change, Divine Purpose, finding your divine purpose, courage to act, wisdom must be embodied, pragmatic action, faith, works and deeds, love your neighbour, awe, Divine Love, divine presence, prayer, meditation, quiet reflection, changing our responses, forgiveness, learning to love and accept myself, a peace that passes understanding, source of abundance, health, wellbeing, diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, responsible

Ten years searching for Wisdom: creative compassion and courage to act

In one of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog, I mentioned the 10-year challenge of “gaining wisdom”. And this year, as I finished re-reading for the third time “mBraining: using your multiple brains to do cool stuff“, I was reminded that wisdom is both material (on the earthly plane) as well as having a spiritual element to it.

Wisdom comes when we apply creative compassion to creative action. In fact:

Generative wisdom is far more than just having wise insights from your life experiences.

Soosalu & Oka, “mBraining”

It is not an end state of being wise, but rather an ongoing process, one that continually transforms who you are.

I cannot stress this enough: wisdom must be embodied in pragmatic action. The same way that we show our faith by our works and deeds, we embody our wisdom in action and the decisions that we make each and every day.

All knowing is doing, inspired action, take action, compassionate courage, smart courage, deep thought, thought leads to action
All knowing is doing. Dr. Humberto Maturana

Most of us that were brought up in churches can easily recite that to love God is to love our neighbour and to love our brother, no matter who they might be. We are likewise challenged to bless those who curse us.

It is not enough to be able to recite the Bible verse that says this, but rather to actually do it – in the midst of the emotional chaos and turmoil of conflict and upheaval.

It’s easy to be at peace and in harmony with God and others when you are sitting quietly, meditating and in prayer. But true wisdom is being able to hold that same inner peace in the midst of the unrest of every day triggers and people who would typically anger us or make us feel fearful.

I’ll show you my faith by my works is not simply about doing good deeds: but rather it is living that life of faith and Divine Wisdom in all moments of challenge.

The process of acquiring true wisdom is not one of studying and memorisation (although that is no doubt where it begins): it is in changing our responses and choosing a new way of acting and reacting in the world.

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. Albert Einstein

The beginning of wisdom

This journey for me, into transformation and change, began with the search to understand “the fear of the Lord”. As a child, I had it hammered into me that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Unfortunately, my understanding of “fear of the Lord” was heavily tainted by my understanding of the word “fear”. And my understanding of “the Lord” was much influenced by the descriptions of a terrible God sitting on a throne “in heaven” surrounded by “a host of angels” that were ready to send anyone and everyone to hell.

It was much more of a Machiavellian description of “tis better to be feared than loved”, than an understanding of awe, presence and communion. I certainly viewed God as being dangerous and painful. While I was perfectly capable of saying “God loves you”, it had quite the “domestic violence kind of love” written all over it. Unfortunately, I experienced a traumatic view of authority, which clouded and overwrote my views on God.

It has been hard for me to change and learn a new definition of Divine Love. One of the many reasons that you will find me referring more to “Divine” and “Source” rather than “God” and “the Lord” in this blog is that I am aware that I am not the only one that still has wounds to heal. I am perfectly clear in my mind that these are man-made wounds, by men (and women) who purported to be godly and “loving”. And horridly, wretchedly human.

I came close to throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

It is so much easier to say “God did this” than to take the time to separate the humanity of (mostly) well-intentioned, badly misguided men and women, and simply turn your back on the Divine.

Finding my way back to accepting Divine Love and living in that Presence has been a challenge: one in which I have had to be open and vulnerable to healing and change over these past ten years.

Forgiveness and learning to love and accept myself have been difficult lessons to live by.

A peace that passes understanding

And yet, in 2020, I had a year in which to come to grips with “how far I’ve come”. You might notice that there has been a hiatus in posting (for months on end).

Part of this was overwhelm with all that was happening in the world. Another part was being drawn into the shadows of “This is where you need to shine more light in your life and allow healing to take place. This is what you are holding onto and it’s time to let go of.”

The beauty of 2020, for me, was that I discovered that somehow, over the last decade, I had discovered “a peace that passes all understanding”. Accidentally tripped over it in the midst of chaos.

While I contemplated questions like:

  • What is truly important?
  • How does the way I am living my life reflect my values?
  • What do I trust in and where is my faith place?

I discovered that I had come to a deeper understanding of the simplicity of Source versus channel.

The Source of abundance, health and well-being is the Divine. The channels through which I may receive abundance can be a job, independent contracting or even gifts.

When I found my channels placed in jeopardy by the chaos of 2020, I suddenly discovered the my faith and trust had moved. I was no longer trusting in myself and my ability to create income: I had an inner peace I had never experienced before of “my Source” will provide a new channel.

Likewise, I’ve had to face thoughts and challenges regarding my attitudes towards health and wellness. I live from a place of responsibility: I am 100% responsible for my health and wellness and taking care of myself.

Ideas without action are worthless, inspired action, take action, wisdom is doing, compassionate wisdom, courageous action, courageous compassion, compassionate creativity
Ideas without action are worthless! Harvey Mackay

Nonetheless, the question arose: but where am I putting my faith?

Is my faith limited to what I can control and what I am able to do for myself? Or is it in something bigger than me? Can I trust in my Creator that I am wonderfully made and that all my cells and organs respond and vibrate to a Divine vibration of health and wellness?

Letting go: moving with inspiration

For most of us, 2020 gave us the challenge and opportunity to let go of life as we knew it (and planned it), and to turn our trust into Divine purpose and process.

Most of can quote many a verse that reminds us that everything that is happening is for us. But what does wisdom really look and feel like in the face of uncertainty?

There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.
There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there. Paolo Coelho

In part, we have to be willing to let go of what was in order to step into what could be. This requires changes at so many levels:

  • from the heart: starting with love and compassion for ourselves and for others around us;
  • in our heads: minding our thoughts, especially the doubts, awfulisations and catastrofising that we do;
  • and in our guts: being willing to gently release the tight grip we have on our identity “this is who I am” and grow into a new creation.

On a spiritual level, it requires that we be reminded that we are souls having a human experience. Our spirits are searching for Oneness with the Divine – living constantly in that Divine Presence, rather than separated from. And yet the human experience teaches us that we are individual and separate from each other and from God. We are constantly trying to get back to God.

Creative compassion

Divine Love, especially in moments like these, invites us to get in touch with God’s plan and purpose in our lives. Each one of us has been given unique talents and gifts that are not shared by others.

Likewise, most of us have passed through levels of preparation. What life lessons have you learned that have moulded you into the person you are today?

Creative compassion invites us to have a look at everything we have to offer, as well as our heart’s desires, and ask:

What is truly on my heart?

This might include questions or thoughts of the following nature:

  • What might it be like to live in alignment with Divine Will?
  • How can I use all the gifts, talents and experiences I have been given to serve others?
  • Who am I drawn to serving?

Many of us, don’t have immediate clarity. Some, of course, get called similar to what we’ve read in the Bible:

  • Jonah – told exactly who to go to and what to say to them;
  • Jeremiah – given visions and messages
  • Peter – called by Jesus to leave his nets

Some of us might end up with an experience like Esther, put in a position where we only discover it’s purpose when there is a crisis “I was put here for such a time as this”. Others might experience hardship like Joseph, only to be called “when it’s time”.

Most of us, on the other hand, have nothing quite so concise. Life is much more mundane and subtle.

Are we listening for those callings?

Perhaps, like the Good Samaritan, we are simply called to go about our business and just help others anonymously when they are put in our path.

The only questions we have to ask ourselves is: am I living this life from a place of compassion for myself & others? Do I allow Divine Love to flow through me as a conduit and channel for others?

Sometimes the calling is simply to follow a new line of study or preparation, without knowing the end purpose. Can you trust the Divine to take that step without being able to see the full path ahead?

A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do. Nothing else. Gandhi
A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do. Nothing else. Gandhi

It takes courage to act when called:

Without action there is no true wisdom.

As James said, it is not simply about hearing “the Word” or memorising it. It’s no good to spout it out to others or recite it.

The true change happens when we allow it to change our heart: to give up our heart of stone and allow it to be replace with a heart of flesh. A hear that is vulnerable, open, soft and gentle.

When this happens, we learn to think in new ways. And as we begin to think in new ways, we learn to talk differently. We see through new eyes, with compassion and empathy.

It takes courage to allow Divine Love to change and transform our lives. In many cases, this means letting go of any hatred or fear that we have been harbouring. To start to let go of fear, we have to acknowledge and accept that we are afraid.

When I’m honest with myself: fear is usually about situations beyond my control. Like most of the things that happened in 2020. Letting go of that fear requires that I learn “fear of the Lord” in a new way: trust in the invisible.

And only now am I discovering that level of courage to have faith. I haven’t figured out my “calling”, but for now, I’m willing just to take the one next step that is clear on the path ahead and trust that the rest will be revealed when I’m ready.


Inspirations:

The fear of I AM THAT I AM is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Divine One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.

Proverbs 9:10-11
The fear of I AM THAT I AM is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Divine One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many and years will be added to your life.
The fear of I AM THAT I AM is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Divine One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many and years will be added to your life. Proverbs 9:10-11

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Proverbs 19:2
smart compassion, smart courage, taking inspired action, Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. Proverbs 19:2

Trust in I AM THAT I AM with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in I AM THAT I AM with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek Divine will in all you do, and the Divine will show you which path to take.
Trust in I AM THAT I AM with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek Divine will in all you do, and the Divine will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

So get rid of your feelings of hatred. Don’t just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty and jealousy and talking about others behind their backs.

1 Peter 2:1
feelings, hatred, pretend, be good, dishonesty, jealousy, talking about others behind their backs
So get rid of your feelings of hatred. Don’t just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty and jealousy and talking about others behind their backs. 1 Peter 2:1

All knowing is doing
All knowing is doing. Dr. Humberto Maturana
wisdom, change, intelligence, divine love, The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. Albert Einstein
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. Albert Einstein
ideas without action are worthless
Ideas without action are worthless! Harvey Mackay

There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.
There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there. Paolo Coelho
A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do. Nothing else.
Gandhi
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
Joseph Campbell

We keep brainstorming options and plans, but Divine Purpose prevails.
We keep brainstorming options and plans, but Divine Purpose prevails. Proverbs 19:21
signs of emotional intelligence, characteristics of wisdom, fear of the Lord, practicing the presence, presence of the Divine, living in the flow of the infinite, the space between stimulus and response, self-motivated, emotionally resilient, emotional resilience, internalise failure, well-placed boundaries, healthy boundaries, toxic person, handling a difficult person, fuel the fire of disagreement, balanced assertiveness, tactful, present focused, avoid negative self-talk, self-awareness

Practicing presence effortlessly

I love it when I meet someone that just effortlessly is spiritually mature – they function and interact with others effortlessly, one foot in the spiritual and the other in the physical worlds. Spiritual maturity brings with it a level of inner wisdom that is impossible to imitate.

Nonetheless, from the outside, their emotional intelligence seems simply innate, as if they were born with it. Admittedly, I have no idea of all the inner work that they have done to get there! I wasn’t present to witness their perseverance in the face of difficulties – their dark night of the soul.

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Sermon: He shall not judge…

HE SHALL NOT JUDGE

ISAIAH 11:2-4

2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth…

December is upon us in Panama – with its terrible traffic, frustrations as you try to get more done than you have hours in the day, and little patience for all the barriers you may find along the way.

  • There are school functions, plays, ballet performances, and all kinds of events that require your time and attention.
  • Mothers’ Day presents to buy and dinners to plan.
  • Christmas parties for the office, with friends, PTA and end of year celebrations.
  • It’s that time of year when you may well find yourself seated next to that difficult person: the complainer or the proverbial GRINCH of Christmas!
  • If you have children, they may be adding to the stress of the season with their demands for presents and the heightened anxiety of “I want”.

Everything clamouring for your attention and adding extra stress to an already busy schedule. And we are, as Christians, expected to put our right foot forward – with the Christmas Spirit-being the bearers of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, as expressed through our Advent Candles.

Our Gospel reading this morning in Matthew 3 indicates that Jesus’ coming promised a baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire – that will sift through the wheat (or good) in our lives and a fire that will burn through the chaff (or that which is not productive or of any value).

And how will God know what is good and valuable in our lives, versus that which is not productive? Well, as we see in the verses of Isaiah 11:2

…the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah goes on to say in verse 3:
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear

And as Christ’s followers, we are all called to follow this example!

Not judge by what our eyes see or decide according to what our ears hear, but rather with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, that Spirit of counsel and might, and that Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON?

If I could sum it up in one word, that one word would be simply this: “empathy”!

Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about!

Kindness is a wonderful way to let another struggling soul know that there is still love in this world.

We are not to judge others simply by the impressions of what our eyes see (or our perceptions or misconceptions) or what our ears hear (whether that be gossip about a person or even what we think we heard them say)… But rather, we are to allow the Spirit, through wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of the Lord guide us to what is right.

Our opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge: It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy – it requires that we suspend our egos and for a moment to live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding. (Bill Bullard).

Empathy is:

  1. Seeing with the eyes of another;
  2. Listening with the ears of another; and
  3. Feeling with the heart of another.

So, what would be wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of the Lord look like at Christmas time?

The Spirit of Wisdom at Christmas time might be as simple as:

  1. looking after yourself, making sure you’ve given yourself enough time to get where you need to be, without being overly stressed about running late;
  2. having snack food in the car with you or in your purse, so you’re not in a bad mood from low sugar levels;
  3. taking a moment before you get to the mall or a shop to speak with your youngsters about what you will or won’t buy for them, so that they have clear expectations and are prepared for the “no” when you have to give it to them; and
  4. thinking through the obstacles (traffic, queues at the cashier, etc.) before you get started, so that you are already prepared to face them and take them in your stride as they appear.

The Spirit of Understanding at Christmas time manifests itself as simply:

  1. as giving your child 10 extra minutes of cuddle time when they are upset, realising that they need to feel heard, even though they are being completely irrational or unreasonable, because you care (even if the answer is still no);
  2. planning “alone time” or “down time” for the introverts in your household that need to recharge their batteries after being overwhelmed with too many sights, sounds, people and stimulations of the Christmas season;
  3. identifying that person that’s sitting off in a corner by themselves, and sitting down with them to have a one-on-one conversation for 10 minutes, because you realise that they are overwhelmed by crowds, but love to have one-on-ones, without trying to “draw them in” to the crowd, but rather meeting them where they are at; and
  4. giving the extroverts in your family the party and group time that they need to enjoy the festive season, even if you are feeling up to it.

The Spirit of Counsel at Christmas time requires that we take time to listen to God:

  1. It’s sitting in the car for 2 minutes, outside your home, and, before you get out, breathing deeply and allowing yourself to relax and be present:
    a. Identifying how you are feeling and why you are feeling this way;
    b. Breathing your way through leaving the day you have just had and any frustrations you were bringing with you, so that you don’t take those negative feelings home to your loved ones;
    c. Identifying who and what will be waiting for you inside, so that you are present with them when you walk in the door; and
    d. Praying for your loved ones before you walk in.
  2. The Spirit of Counsel is putting before God your concerns and worries, and then listening to God’s response – this means clearing your mind so that God can speak with you.

The Spirit of strength at Christmas time recognises that you are strong enough: Whatever today’s challenge is – you are strong enough – God promised to give you strength for today. If you will focus on today and today’s struggle and stop trying to deal with tomorrow’s struggle and adding tomorrow’s stress into the mix, you are strong enough! They say:

Depression comes from living in the past.
Worry and Anxiety come from living in the future.
The only place of peace is living in the present.

The only place you have any strength and power is in today – you cannot change the past and you cannot act in the future. Your spirit of Strength, this Christmas season, is when you are present in each day. When you focus your daily energy on what you need to get done today: therein lies your strength. If you need to have a conversation with someone today: have that conversation. If you need to have a conversation with someone tomorrow, program it today, and then leave it in tomorrow.

Give us this day our daily bread

It doesn’t say: give us this week or this month… just one day. Remember that this Christmas season – you are only given this much. The person standing or sitting in front of you is only given that much. All either of you have is today.

The Spirit of Knowledge at Christmas time –

  1. It’s using Waze to find out how long you are going to spend in traffic to be able to get to Atlapa for the Ballet presentation by 4.00 p.m., and leaving 2 hours beforehand, and having downloaded onto your iPod or phone on December 1st 12 hours of new Audiobooks, podcasts, meditations and other uplifting material so that you don’t feel like being stuck in traffic is a complete and total waste of time;
  2. It’s knowing the quirks of each one of your kids, nephews & nieces or other kids that you will be spending Christmas day with, and preparing yourself how to deal and interact with them to be a blessing to them; and
  3. It’s reading an article or book on a subject very close to the heart of a person that you will be spending time over the Christmas season with, so that you have a topic to talk to them about.

And finally the fear of the Lord is remaining humble… realising that you are no better than anyone else, that you are the product of all your experiences, decisions, and the people that God has put in your path each day of your life, that have made you into who you are today.

The fear of the Lord is what reminds us “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.

  • You are that child that is having a temper tantrum in the shopping mall;
  • you are that mother that doesn’t know what to do with her child who is hungry and tired and over-stimulated by all the sights and sounds;
  • you are that old man who’s in a bad mood and grumpy because he’d rather be somewhere else;
  • you are that young man behind the wheel beeping the horn because he’s in a hurry and frustrated that the traffic is not moving.

Whatever you are faced with over the coming weeks, remember that you are filled with the Spirit of the Lord: and this Spirit does not judge by what your eyes see or decide by what your ears hear.

You are called to be the light of the world – be LOVE this Christmas season.