Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Yummy stuff inside

You have got to laugh at the brilliance of kids. As we were leaving for school this morning, our Labrador Bella was smelling Nathan's stomach - I thought he had snuck some cookies under his jersey, but he hadn't:) 
Getting into the car, I asked him, "Why was Bella smelling your tummy boy?"
He replied, "Perhaps she can smell all the yummy food I had yesterday - the cupcakes and sweets."
I had to laugh and then quietly mentioned to him, that dogs can't smell the insides of our stomach's, but it would be cool if they could.

So, next time your pet smells your tummy, just remember that perhaps they are smelling all the 'yummy stuff inside.'

May God bless us with his Spirit to fill us with grace, peace and joy - on the inside:)

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

No Fairytale

Advent reminds us that the birth of Jesus is no fairytale made up for little children. Sure, the details around his birth may be debated by some, but the one thing that even historians can't avoid is that Jesus existed. His birth changed the face of religion and his life is still impacting lives today.

Jewish historian, priest and later commander of Jewish forces in Galilee, Flavius Josephus wrote these words concerning Jesus:

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day." 

Josephus had nothing to gain from writing these words - as an historian he could not deny that Jesus existed. People in today's world can respond to Jesus how they like - they can deny him, they can refuse to worship him, but they can not refute his existence.

May Jesus Christ be REAL for you this Advent season.

Living in Grace

Monday, 28 November 2011

Life is fragile

I don't know what to say about it, too be honest, but I just feel I need to try and write something. I heard the news of Gary Speed's death yesterday and was shocked. Another person who had everything going for them - a awesome family, a brilliant career and a huge support base - yet Gary took his own life. We don't have any answers as yet, but it seems that he may have been struggling with dperession. There are thousands of people who choose suicide every year, yet it still leaves me feeling numbed when I read these stories.

Another footballer, Stan Collymore, wrote of his struggle with depression in this post. Christian writers Jeff Lucas and Adrian Plass have also struggled with depression. Singers, authors, musicians, politicians, actors, rich, poor, young and old - many people struggle with depression. In this season of peace and goodwill, it is still common for us to feeling overwhelmed and desperate. But, I believe in the hope of Advent - the hope that Christ can make a difference.

May Jesus truly bring His light and hope into our lives this Christmas - even if we don't have all the answers.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Scottish Proverbs

I have enough Scottish blood in me to take offense when the 'Scots' are ripped off about something. So, in order to pass on some of our ancient wisdom I have included a few one-liners - if you like, these are also called Scottish Proverbs:

“Confession is good for the soul.”

“Egotism is an alphabet of one letter.”

“Fools look to tomorrow. Wise men use tonight.”

“Never marry for money. You can borrow it cheaper.”

“Better be ill spoken of by one before all than by all before one.”

Living in Grace

Friday, 25 November 2011

Month to go

So there is a month until Christmas! The silly season is upon us - shops are getting busier and people are spending their December pay checks already. Do we, as Christians, follow the pattern of the world around us, or do we at least strive to remind ourselves of Christ in the chaos? This is what the season of Advent is meant to help us focus on - it's our spiritual preparation for the birth of Jesus.

As we begin the period of Advent this weekend, read this poem as a starting point. May Christ be real to us in our anticipation of the Saviour's birth.

Let Christmas not become a thing
Merely of merchant's trafficking,
Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath
And surface pleasure, but beneath
The childish glamour, let us find
Nourishment for soul and mind.
Let us follow kinder ways
Through our teeming human maze,
And help the age of peace to come
From a Dreamer's martyrdom.
- ~Madeline Morse

Living in Grace

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin

I love reading Bible stories to the boys. It is so refreshing to read these familiar accounts with the eyes of a child. Tonight we read the accounts of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace and then the one where Daniel has to interpret the writing on the wall. Obviously the kids version is quite dramatic, yet simple. It doesn't include the words: "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin" (thankfully), which were the actual words written on the wall.

If you want to know what they mean you will have to look it up yourself -
That's your home-work for today :)

May God bless us with enough simplicity to read and understand his word.

Living in Grace,

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


It is easy to be disillusioned now days. Our national sports teams toy with our emotions. Our national government passes a Bill that takes us back to the 'good old bad days'. Rising food and petrol prices put pressure on our bank balances.

So where can we turn?

Well, I find solace in the Scriptures because they remind me that previous generations have also felt disillusioned, but that God has come through for them.

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever." - Psalm 73:26

"I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge." - Psalm 73:28

Oswald Chambers - "If our trust is placed in human beings, we will end up despairing of everyone."

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

First Bible

This morning, I found one of the first bibles I was given as a kid - I was 6 at the time. It was such a special moment to find the bible again. It reminded me of the little Gideon's bibles we used to get at school. I used to always love the fact that the blue Gideon's bibles had verses to guide you through different circumstances. If you were worried or angry; needing direction or peace; seeking answers or upliftment, the references helped you to find the right verse to read.

Can you remember the first Bible you ever had. Tell me about it - I'd love to know.

If you are needing courage today then perhaps you can read this verse:

"Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, "Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He's on his way! He'll save you!" - Isaiah 35:3

Living in Grace

Sunday, 20 November 2011

John said ...

John Lennon once said: "Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans."
So, are we busy making plans (only) and not living? Sure, it is important to plan and prepare for the future, but we mustn't forget to live life to the full.

May you have a blessed week.

Living in Grace,

Friday, 18 November 2011

Am I Hitler?

Alright, it's official - Movember is becoming awkward. In fact, I am feeling persecuted, rejected and discriminated against. I have also been called all kinds of names. I admit that my moustache is a little weird, but in the last few days I have been told I look like 'Hitler', 'Super-Mario', 'Charlie Chaplin' and even something worse!!! Please pray for me and all other men who are growing their 'taches. We are doing it for a good cause.

If you want to know more about Movember visit this website. We are doing it to raise awareness of Prostrate and Testicular cancer.

Oh yes, please don't call me Hitler - I am feeling sensitive:)

Living in Grace

P.S. the guy in the photo is not me, nor any of my friends!!!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

What is friendship?

Leading on from my previous post, I have a question for us to think about:
What would your definition of friendship be?

Reading in John 1, I encountered the following description of Jesus' mission - he came into the world "full of grace and truth." Jesus came to earth full of grace and truth - it was these 2 qualities that revolutionised our world.

I want my friendships to be laced with these 2 qualities - GRACE and TRUTH. Grace to deal with my inadequacies and imperfections, but Truth to speak into my life and to hold me accountable to my callings to be a husband, father, child, brother, friend, pastor and leader.

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend."  - Albert Camus

Living in Grace

What a friend!

We all need friends! I am speaking of friends of the good type. The ones who are there for you and who encourage you. The friends who you can call at all times of the day or night. The friends who you may not see often, but are still committed to the friendship. I am grateful that I have a number of awesome friends. I am also grateful that I view Jesus as my friend too.

What a friend we have in Jesus, 
all our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry 
everything to God in prayer! 
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear, 
all because we do not carry 
everything to God in prayer. - Joseph Scriven
May you know Christ as your friend today.
Living in Grace,

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A different take on studying

Most of what we study we forget. As a lecturer, it is sad for me to admit this, but I know that now that my students have written their final exam, most of the information will soon be forgotten. I guess the real challenge comes in why and how we study. I like Ezra's take on studying...

"Ezra had committed himself to studying the Revelation of God, to living it, and to teaching Israel to live its truths and ways." - Ezra 7:8

Imagine if we all studied God's word with the purpose of living it out and then teaching it to others? Studying becomes multi-dimensional and actually useful. Wow, now there is a thought!

Living in Grace

Monday, 14 November 2011

This might not work!

I have been enjoying reading Seth Godin's new book 'Poke the Box.' He writes a great paragraph on the topic of these 4 words - This might not work!

Seth argues that it is alright to say these 4 words. He adds:
"Is your work so serious and flawless and urgent that each thing you do, every day, must work? Change is powerful, but change always comes with failure as its partner. "This might not work" isn't merely something to be tolerated; it's something you should seek out." - Seth Godin

What do you think? Does your world allow you the freedom to risk?
Does the Church allow you the chance to do this?

Living in Grace

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Proverbs 12

We concluded our preaching series on Proverbs today, looking at chapter 12. Every word from the Scriptures speaks light into our lives and this chapter is no different. Here are a few verses that spoke to me:

1 If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction!

 2 A good person basks in the delight of God,
   and he wants nothing to do with devious schemers.

 3 You can't find firm footing in a swamp,
   but life rooted in God stands firm. 

18 Rash language cuts and maims,
   but there is healing in the words of the wise.

 19 Truth lasts;
   lies are here today, gone tomorrow.

Why don't you take a read of the chapter and let me know which verse strikes you.

Have a blessed week,

Living in Grace,

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Birthday request

As you get older people start to ask you what you want for your birthday. It's a strange thing to ask, but I guess it does mean that you end up with good presents :)

To the Israelites, God asks a similar question:

"He said, "You're my son,
 And today is your birthday.
 What do you want? Name it:
 Nations as a present? continents as a prize?
 You can command them all to dance for you,
 Or throw them out with tomorrow's trash."
- Psalm 2

If God asks you what you want for your birthday, what would you say?

Living in Grace,

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remember for a reason

We stopped for a moment of silence and prayer today, as did millions of others. There will never be another Remembrance Day like today's event, ever again....11-11-2011.

But what is our purpose in Remembering all those brave souls who died in battles all over the planet? There must be something deeper. Miroslav Volf is a Christian theologian and he argues that there is a powerful reason for our Remembrance:

"The proper goal – the appropriate end – of the memory of wrongs suffered is the loving reconciliation of all people, both perpetrators and victims. And when that love is reached – imperfect and fragile in this life but complete and invincible in the next – then the memory of those wrongs can end as well." (Volf, in the words of Craig Hamilton)

Is this why we Remember the sacrifice of Christ in Holy Communion? Not to remember the agony of the cross so much, but rather to understand the love and reconciliation of our Saviour.

Just thinking!

Living in Grace,

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Bold Prayers

Do you ever feel that your prayers are weak and lack any meaning? I sometimes do! Perhaps it is because we sell God short and we don't have the faith to pray bold prayers. David was always willing to be bold in his prayers, as well as deeply honest. Here is an example of part of one of his prayers:

Psalm 139:23-24
"Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting."

May your prayers be bold and honest today.

Living in Grace

Monday, 7 November 2011

Your most important move

We all disappoint God at times! We all sin and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23), but when we remain defeated and feel unworthy of God's love that's when our problem's really multiply. The most crucial move we make will be the move after we have realised our sin. If we move towards the grace of God, we can experience forgiveness and redemption. If we move away from God, we will feel guilt, alienation and dis-ease.

"The Most important move you will ever make in your life is the move you make right after you fail God. Will you believe the accuser's lies and give up in despair, or will you allow yourself to receive the forgiving flow of God's love?" - David Wilkerson

It's your move!

Living in Grace

Sunday, 6 November 2011

What is in your heart?

Pastor and author, Andy Stanley reflects on what is in our hearts.

“It is when our hearts are stirred that we become most aware of what they contain.” 

“In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feel like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another.”

As you begin this week may God stir your heart and may you remember that God loves you.

Living in Grace,

Friday, 4 November 2011

Asking the wrong question

In his inaugural address American President John F. Kennedy said these famous words:
"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."

I feel that we should change this statement rather to read as follows:
"Ask not what God can do for you, but rather what you can do for God!"

This is the question we should be asking.
If we dare...

Living in Grace

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Too much on your plate

The other morning one of the boys made himself some breakfast and when I looked at his bowl of cereal I knew he was never going to finish it - he had put way to much Pronutro into the bowl. When he was about half way through the breakfast he said to me "I can't finish it - there is too much on the plate!" I thought to myself, "No kidding, boy! Even Jonah Lomu wouldn't have finished that bowl of cereal."

In truth, how often do we do the same thing, but particularly in the things we take on. We can find ourselves getting to a place we were throw our hands up and say, "I have taken on too much! I can't finish all of this."
Can you relate to this?

May God grant us wisdom to do the important tasks and not to fill our lives with other 'stuff.' Saying NO is not a crime.

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Greater Heights

During the recent Willow Creek leaders summit, one of the speakers asked us to raise our hands. Every hand in the auditorium was raised. He then asked us to raise our hands 3 inches higher - which everyone managed to do. His point was this: "When asked to do something, why is it that most people just do the bare minimum? Why was it that no one raised their hands to their capacity the first time?"

He makes an interesting point, don't you think?

When we ask God to be our Saviour he invites us to go to great heights with him.

"The love of Christ compels us to do what we never thought we could do and go to heights we never thought we could reach. Precious is the name of Jesus!" - Max Lucado

May Jesus help you to reach heights for his sake.

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Prayer for exams

I found this prayer for exam times. If you are preparing to write exams, or know someone who is, may these words give you courage. Enjoy...

Lord, as I move into examination time I turn
once more to You, asking for your blessing and
assistance. I ask you to give me peace of mind with
a strong sense of work at this time. May I give
myself space and time to revise and prepare to sit
my examinations. Help me to keep focused on this task
 and not get too distracted by other aspects of my
life. Keep me from getting into a panic and help me
 to do justice to all my work and preparations.
On the days of my examinations keep me calm,
help me to think clearly and understand what I am
 being asked and so to recall the study and work
I have put in so far this past year.

Above all Lord I ask that you will
allow my efforts to bring about the
life you have planned for me, may I
be open to your vision of what you
wish for me and may I accomplish
this now and in my future life.

Living in Grace

Exam prayer discovered here