Thursday, 31 October 2013

Some things never change!

You have heard the saying before, "some things never change?" Often this saying reflects on negative things happening in our society - politicians never change; bad actors never change; crime never changes; taxi driver's never change!

Well God said these same words, through the prophet Malachi, but they hold a totally different meaning:

"I the Lord do not change..." - Malachi 3:6

In this sense, it is of great comfort that God never changes. God is constant - God is loving - God is merciful - God is just. It is God's character that never changes and we are the beneficiaries of his great consistency.

May our eternal God hold us in the palm of his hand today.

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Jesu Java

It is said that before Johann Sebastian Bach wrote any of his music, he would pen the initials J.J at the top of the sheet of paper. These initials stood for Jesu Java, meaning "Jesus help". Bach recognised that the gift he had been given came from God and that he was merely a steward of that precious gift. He wanted to honour God with his music and so his prayer was always:

"Jesus help me!"

What a wonderful way to start every day - offering a quick prayer to our Saviour, asking for his Spirit to lead and guide us. If you are about to start a new project or adventure, why not try the same thing?

Acts 3:16 - " By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see."

Living in Grace

P.S. Some people argue that Bach used the initials I.N.J (In the name of Jesus) instead of J.J - for me, it makes no difference - it still tells me that he offered his brilliance to Jesus, before he did anything.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

In every Season

This weekend has been a tough one for our family and we thank you for your prayers, care and support. In many ways the year since Barry's death has passed slowly and we have felt every 'bump' along the road. On the other hand, one also reflects on the many changes in our lives and we realise that 365 days have flown by.

Regardless of time, we have come to understand that God is with us in every season of our lives. Loss, pain and mourning, just happen to be part of our season right now, but we know that God is still with us. We will carry precious memories with us, even as we slowly move into the next season God has in store for us.

As Hillsong says:

"All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship."
- (Desert Song)

Solomon learnt this same truth, thousands of years before us. He reflected on this, in his now famous words:

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
        a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3)

May you come to believe and understand that God is with you - in every season of your life.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Isaiah 43:1-5

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you... (Isaiah 43:1-5 NIV)

.... When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you. (Isaiah 43:2-4 MSG)

Living in grace

Saturday, 26 October 2013

What's on your mind?

What has been on your mind lately? Have you found your thoughts drifting to a particular area or thing? Do you feel that your mind has become a 'dumping ground' for all sorts of things and that the things of God are battling to gain control?

We should remember that the bible speaks clearly about how our minds can control our actions. We need to try and do all we can to allow the Holy Spirit to keep our thoughts in control.

Colossians 3:1-2 – “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

John Milton – “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
“  "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

    Offer your whole body, mind and spirit to the Lord today. 

   Living in Grace

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Think on these things...

Our minds can often run away with all kinds of weird thoughts - sometimes these can take us away from the presence and peace of Christ. St. Paul encourages us to think about some good things - these that would draw us back into the 'life-giving' presence of Jesus.
Philippians 4: 8 – “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

As you read this scripture, what thoughts are you hoping will fill your mind? Let's ask the Spirit to foster these godly thoughts and not negative ones.

Be blessed this weekend.
Living in Grace

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

No voice

As the health of the great Methodist Preacher, William Sangster, deteriorated, he lost the use of his legs and voice. He was still able to write, although barely. On the Easter morning, just a few days before his death, he wrote a letter to his daughter. In the letter, he said,

"It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice to shout, "He is risen!" 
But it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout."

These words are so profound! I still feel a pain in my heart when people choose not to follow Jesus. I don't look upon them with pity, but rather with a genuine sadness. It is not that I feel superior and 'pity' these people, but rather that I am sad that they have not seen in Jesus what has changed my life! God's love and grace once collided with my life and got my attention - and I knew that I had to sing out "Jesus is Risen!"  

I don't want this to only be for me and you - I want this to be the experience of everyone. It burdens me that people will wake up on Easter Sunday and not be able to honour the risen Christ.

May we do what we can to help others find their voice, so they may also shout, "Jesus is Alive!"

Living in Grace

Monday, 21 October 2013

Sleepless nights

"I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. 
Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. 
 I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely." - Psalm 63:6-8

What keeps you awake at night?
Is it troubles or thoughts of the future?
Is it complicated relationships or issues with your friends?
Do you stress about the country or your personal finances?
Do you wonder about life, death and faith?

If some of these things keep you awake at night, why don't you try King David's solution. He meditated on the things of God - he remembered that he could rest secure in the shadow of God's wing. It is much easier getting to sleep, when we surrender our worries to God. He never sleeps or slumbers, so why not ask God to keep your anxious thoughts for you? Surely, it's worth a try.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Spiritual Butterfly

During our evening service tonight, my friend Pete Grassow preached on the book of Revelation - we are in the middle of a great series on this awesome book. A comment he made during the sermon got me thinking about something - he mentioned that there are many 'spiritual butterflies' in our communities and that we need to guard against being like these butterflies.

A butterfly is usually drawn to the brightest flowers and will remain focused on a particular plant until something else gets it's attention - then it will fly off towards the next bright flower. There are some Christians who fly from one church 'attraction' to the next - the allure of something new and bright gets our attention for a while and then, once we get bored with that, we fly onto something else.

Underneath this all, there lies the veneer of seeking for the perfect church. We realise that the people we worship with are imperfect and so we look for 'better' Christians down the road. Once we have settled in a new community, we realise that there are also imperfect people there too. Our dilemma is "do we now stay and bring our imperfections into this community of imperfect people OR do we fly off somewhere else?"

Perhaps the hardest thing to do is to be part of a community of broken people. Yet it can also be completely 'life-giving' as it reminds me that we all need each other.

Acts 14:22 - "Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

Any thoughts?

Living in Grace

Saturday, 19 October 2013


We have been crying out for rain lately and it seems as if God has finally heard our prayers. It is indeed a blessing to hear and see the rain falling. Let us thank God for His mercy and grace.

In the spirit of "weather", here are a few insightful quotes on the elements.

"There is no season such delight can bring
As Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring." - K. Hubbard

"Anyone who says that sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain." - Anon

"The wind shows us how close to the edge we are." - Joan Didion

Have a blessed day, whatever the weather:)

Living in Grace

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Turtle on a post

Author Alex Haley has a picture in his office, with a turtle sitting on a fence post (just like the one in this blog post). Below the picture, he has his own quote:

"Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know that he had some help!"

He uses the picture to remind himself that we need to remain humble. We may find ourselves "up" in the world, but we all need help in getting places - just like the turtle needs help getting onto a fence pole. So, perhaps we should hear his thoughts today - humility is a godly characteristic and one which endears us to others.

Proverbs 29:23 - "Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honour."

In sharing this illustration with some folk today, one person mentioned that she sometimes feels that she has been left "up the pole" by situations and Life. She related to the turtle trying to walk away, but not getting anywhere. Perhaps if we feel like this, then we need to ask others to help us down from the fence post and to care for us. 

Let me know your thoughts on the Turtle picture and quote.

Living in Grace

P.S. - No turtles were harmed in the writing of this blog. All turtles posing for pics on fence posts have been returned to their natural environment :)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Graced Edge

Some of us call it a ‘silver-lining’ – that belief that even in the midst of a dark storm cloud, there will be something positive to focus on. Tilden Edwards rather refers to it as the “graced edge!” 

So, even if you took the worst of situations and you drew a line out from that epicentre, you will eventually come to a ‘graced edge’. For me, this is the place where we start to perceive the ‘silver-lining’ or light in the darkness.

No matter what we call it, our God believes in ‘graced edges’. 
You could even call the resurrection the biggest of graced edges – drawing a line from the agony of the cross will take you out beyond Friday, Saturday and will bring you to the morning of Sunday. 
 A Graced Edge!

May you find your own graced edge today.  Be blessed by God’s grace.