Money and Jesus

Almost all religious practices are designed to break you free from enmeshment with the world’s god: Money.

Do fish know that they are wet? They swim around in water all day every day. Everything that they need is in the water. Their experience of life is so completely wet that I’ll bet they don’t even know that they are wet. To understand that they were “wet” they would need to know what “dry” means. And unless something extraordinary happens to them, they never experience the open air. And most of them probably wouldn’t want to even if they could.

Money, in our society, is like water in the ocean. It is so important to us; it is present in almost everything we do. It guides our actions and our motivations, it can change how we think, what we see and what we know. And it can change who we are aware of and how we treat them. We need to become aware of when money is guiding us and give our money and our lives, again, to the loving arms of Jesus.

Our Gospel passage today (Luke 16:19-31) is a story that Jesus told to draw our attention to how important money can be in the way we treat some people. The rich man (no other name is given to him) lives a life of comfort, security and luxury. And if we’re honest, compared to many parts of the world, so do we.

Lazarus is a poor beggar at the rich man’s gate. One billion people in our world today go to bed hungry each night. Some are very probably covered in sores. Maybe they are also so weak that they can’t push the dogs away when they come to lick their wounds. I’ve been to some of those places. I know some of those people.

Jesus tells this story to drive home his point about the dangers of money that he has been making since Chapter 11 and only concludes in Chapter 18. Here is the thread for those who will see it: Luke 11:41, Luke 12:33, Luke 14:33, Luke 16:1-14, Luke 16:13,19-31, Luke 18:22, Deut 15:11. When you get some time, I encourage you to explore these verses. Read them in context and see the point that Jesus is making about money. It’s dangerous! Give it away! Giving money away is the best way to ensure you’re not worshiping it. We must use money wisely (we still have to swim in this ocean), but we can’t let it control us or it will take us to hell.

Money can’t get you to heaven. Only Jesus can do that. As Martin Luther King Jr said when he preached on this parable just before his death, “The rich man didn’t go to hell because he was rich; the rich man didn’t realize that his wealth was his opportunity. It was his opportunity to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus.”

We need to learn to see those who are separated from us by poverty as our brothers and sisters. Dearly beloved. They don’t want all of our money. They just want us to see them, get to know them, and to ask how we can help.

And we need to allow God’s spirit to liberate us from being as mired in money as a fish is in water. God’s Spirit liberates us to share.

Yours In Christ, Ralph

Never Give up -I’m OK

Never Give Up – I’m OK!
This is the very positive statement that I was happy to hear from people including: a miner who had rescued or “pulled out” people trapped in coal mines after accidents; a well-known campaigner for individual human rights; leaders of international business and those who were the most inspirational, the everyday people from the Gold Coast who were facing significant health challenges. Completion of the Clinical Pastoral Care Education Program (CPE) on Wednesdays and Fridays at the Gold Coast University Hospital during my Formation years , presented me with an amazing opportunity during training sessions and visits with patients to build supportive relationships, listen to people sharing their stories and using their own spirituality to make meaning in their lives, and learning how to facilitate people’s spiritual journey.
The understanding of health in this hospital and the multi-faith pastoral care unit, to which I was attached as a chaplain, was not limited to physical well-being, but included spiritual, psychological and physiological well-being or wholeness. A 2007 study showed how the mind and spirit impacts the physical health of a person. It was found that spiritual care helps patients to deal better with their illness. It provides a sense of direction, new hope and inner peace, allowing patients to accept and cope with problems that cannot be solved. Most patients in the study acknowledged that spirituality was an important part of their lives, providing a source of strength, hope and well-being, especially during illness or loss.
Of course, it is not only during illness that our spirituality provides us with inspiration, comfort, strength and a sense of peace. Music, the beauty of nature and quiet time in a sacred space have a role in our own spiritual journeys. The beautiful music in our church services played by Anne, the songs led by our singers provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the spiritual content and message of a piece of music. This music, prayers and the sermon enable us to experience peace and renewal through Christ, in order to face the challenges of our lives. I really enjoy sharing in this opportunity for reflection.
I have been inspired by and grateful for what members of the congregation have been able to teach me. As we would expect, spirituality depends upon an individual’s personal interpretation or worldview, which affects the way each of us approaches life, our relationships and the choices we make. Today we will experience an example of how the shrewd manager dealt with and responded to the significant challenge of losing his job and being unsure of what work would be available for him in the future.
Wherever we are spirituality and whatever we ask God for during our lives, the words of Richard Rohr “The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See”, encourage positive feelings about ourselves and our journeys. He wrote that asking for something from God means awakening the gift within ourselves, as something we have already begun to taste, because the gift has already been given. Do we know that we have already been given these gifts and that we are OK, that actually we are all able to be doing fine?
Yours in Christ

Van Leeuwen Rene (2007) ‘Aspects of spirituality concerning illness: empirical studies’, Nordic College of Caring Science, Scandanavia.

Agent of Change

Agent of Change


Our reconciliation with God was made complete when Jesus lifted up his eyes and cried, “It is finished”. (John 19:30) So, why do we so often wrestle with the same failings, temptations and distractions in the face of this transforming forgiveness and love? The moment we trust Christ we are given everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-4)

We allow him to transform our values, attitudes and behaviour so that we are able to glorify him more and more. We have been commissioned.


The Bible reading this week challenges us, to change our lives once we have commenced living our lives through Christ. Now, for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if all these qualities are yours they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins

(2 Pet. 1:5-9)


How can we begin to experience positive change? “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16).  That Helper is the Holy Spirit, who came some fifty days later to direct and empower the believers at Pentecost.  The same Holy Spirit dwells in believers today and serves as our instructor, counsellor, and the source of spiritual power as we live for Christ’s glory and honour.


Are you depending on God’s Spirit to teach you, change you, and use you in the lives of others? Abiding in Christ does not mean deliverance from all of your problems, but it will provide a powerful relationship with the one who is the source of wisdom for difficult decisions, love to encourage you, and strength to help you endure.



The service today is founded upon the Gospel reading “The Parable of the Great Supper” (Luke14:15-24). In this reading, Jesus used the parable to teach about reaching out to those who normally would be excluded from the table.  The focus upon inclusivity remains extremely relevant for us today, with the incredibly busy schedules that feature in the lives of many people. This leaves some people with very little time to support each other and build each other up, especially in order to include, or meet the needs of, anyone who is different in some way, or who may have special needs.

One way in which children in our Australian are included is through school chaplaincy. School chaplains may give; hope, acceptance, support, comfort, care, and self- confidence to young people. Thank you for the many people in our church who have donated food products to assist with chaplaincy at Ashmore State School.  Other ways young people are supported by our church include playgroup, messy church and Religious Instruction in schools. We hosted a meeting of the Gold Coast Cooperative of Christian Religious Instruction (CCRI) on Friday during the week.

In our service of worship this week we have Tony Roberts, The Chaplain of Ashmore State School, to speak with us about chaplaincy. I ask you to remember that prayer connects us with God and connects the diverse range of people in our community with each other. Parents overcome barriers to raise their children when faced with challenges and a number of these children are helped by school chaplains, or hear the Christian message, in RI classes. It is important that we pray for the full inclusion in society of the children in our schools and that all may be included in God’s kingdom banquet.

Yours in Christ,