Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Unlucky 13?

Flying back from the Methodist Church conference we noticed that the plane had no seats that were numbered 13. There was a number 12 and a number14, but no seat marked 13. That is quite interesting don't you think? It was not as if there was a gap in the seats, it just simply skipped out '13'. What would you make of this?
Do you believe in 'good luck' and 'bad luck?'
Do you think the airline was a little worried about having some seats marked with a 13 on them?

This is what Paul as to say about this...

Galatians 4:8-11 - "Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them. But now that you know the real God—or rather since God knows you—how can you possibly subject yourselves again to those paper tigers? For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos, and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years."

What do you think?

Living in Grace

Sunday, 27 September 2015

3 Things to put into practise

If you are looking for 3 things to inspire your faith and to move you towards Christ-likeness, then I can offer you these three. I am not sure we would find another 3 words that match these three.

"Trust steadily in God, 
hope unswervingly, 
love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13


Live by these 3 words today and see what God does in your life. Living in Grace

Saturday, 26 September 2015


Phillips Brooks once remarked that "character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones."

I think that it is easier to pretend that you have it all together when the world is watching your "public" moments, but your true character and nature is revealed behind closed doors. In the small everyday moments our character is formed and in the long run this can't be faked. As Jesus remarked - "by their fruits you will recognize them."

What is being produced in your life at the moment?

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

What do have to show for it?

My two older boys are doing a Market at their school this week and of course that means that mom and dad need to hand out cash to all 3 of them. Josh loves going to all the stalls and spending his (our) money. At the end of the day it is all in aid of fun for the kiddies, and a learning experience for the older boys, who actually run their own businesses.

When I went to fetch Josh from school I asked him, what he had to show for his pocket money. He honestly had no clue what I was saying? I had to explain myself again and then he pulled out a container with bright blue goo - "this is what I bought dad!" Needless to say, I put on a brave smile and said, "That's cool boy!"

I suppose that I need to be reminded that when I give my kids a gift, I can't always dictate how they spend it. Sure, I need to offer them counsel and make practical suggestions, but one day, when they are adults, they will need to make their own choices. Of course there are times when we can spend money on things that can't be 'seen', but there are also opportunities to spend wisely and then to have something to "show for our money!" 

1 Corinthians 7:30 - "...happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God’s work."

"It's good to have money and the things money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy." - George Horace Lorimer

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Where do you find your rest?

We are a restless generation!
What satisfied us yesterday, doesn't fulfil our needs today. The things that left us feeling content last year, are already outdated and we are looking for the 'next best' thing. The trouble with this is that we will spend our whole lives seeking satisfaction, but we probably won't find it. This is why David wrote:

"My soul finds rest in God alone..." - Psalm 62:1

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone...." - Psalm 62:5

I believe David is on to something. He understands the human heart. If you are looking for your next 'fix' in anything besides God, then sadly you will come up empty handed. Well, that's what I have come to experience.

What are your thoughts?

“Rest and be thankful.”William Wadsworth

Living in Grace

Monday, 21 September 2015

Give me hope Joanna

I heard this old song on the radio this morning and it took me all the way back to my youth. Do you remember 'Give me Hope Joanna' by Eddie Grant. The song was written as an anti-Apartheid song and despite being banned by the government, it still reached millions of people. I was only 15 at the time of the release of this song, but I can clearly remember singing the words over and over again - it's catchy tune had a way of getting the powerful message across.

As I reflect on the prophetic words of the song, I can't help but think about how this song can still speak to our present situation as a country. If you sing the last verses of this song, you will see what I mean. Have a look at this words:

She got supporters in high up places
Who turn their heads to the city sun
Jo'anna give them the fancy money
Oh to tempt anyone who'd come
She even knows how to swing opinion
In every magazine and the journals
For every bad move that this Jo'anna makes
They got a good explanation

Gimme hope, Jo'anna
Gimme hope, Jo'anna
Gimme hope, Jo'anna
'Fore the morning come
Gimme hope, Jo'anna
Gimme hope, Jo'anna
Hope before the morning come

Even the preacher who works for Jesus
The Archbishop who's a peaceful man
Together say that the freedom fighters
Will overcome the very strong
I wanna know if you're blind Jo'anna
If you wanna hear the sound of drum
Can't you see that the tide is turning
Oh don't make me wait till the morning come

Corruption,  injustice, poor leadership, greed, propaganda - they seem to be part and parcel of every government. It is a wonder that we don't learn from the mistakes of the past!
Perhaps, Eddie Grant is right..... we need help! We seem to be blind.

I don't think Joanna can help us, but I know that Jesus can.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 20 September 2015

It sucks being Goliath!

In the context of Sport we often encounter the comparison between David versus Goliath. You will have one team, that is considered the underdog or the 'David' and then you have the favourites (Goliath) who are expected to be victorious.

However, just as the original story plays out in 1 Samuel 17, so we witnessed this past weekend another David versus Goliath moment. No one gave Japan a chance of beating the Springboks, but they played such an amazing game of Rugby that they pulled off the biggest shock in Rugby history. David beats Goliath again.
But let's be honest, it sucks being on Goliath's team at the moment doesn't? Now I know how the Philistines felt when their Champion warrior and been defeated by a teenager!

As we begin another week I invite you to remember that in God's kingdom, 'bigger' is not always better. God honours the humble and the small. God empowers the weak and comforts the broken. God is always full of surprises.

1 Samuel 17:48-49 -As Goliath approached, David ran out to meet him and, reaching into his shepherd’s bag, took out a stone, hurled it from his sling, and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and the man fell on his face to the ground.
Living in Grace

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Smooth seas??

"A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner." - English Proverb

The waves have certainly been pretty rough this year, but I trust that God is helping to make me a better 'sailor'. I am the first to admit that life can be quite hectic at times, but I feel it is important to take a step back and to see God's hand in our lives.

If we only sailed on smooth lakes, we would never improve as mariners - it takes the rough waters and the storms to really teach us how to sail. The same applies to our faith - if things were never difficult we would become conceited and believe that we don't need God's help in anything. However, when the difficulties force themselves upon us, it is imperative to remember that God grants us the strength we need to survive.

Psalm 89:9 - "You rule the oceans when their waves arise in fearful storms; you speak, and they lie still."

Living in Grace

Friday, 18 September 2015

Grace reaches further

"Thankfully, while our self-righteousness reaches far, God's grace reaches further." - Tullian Tchividjian

The church can only offer so much grace, before we become self-righteous and lose sight of the gift God gave to us. It is a sad reality, but our spiritual blindness can cause pain for others. THANKFULLY, what we should be offering others, is not the church (per se), but rather JESUS. It is when we discover the grace of Christ, that our lives are transformed. We then get to work out our salvation in the body of Christ. The church can't be perfect (yet), because we are still sinners in need of change. One day, the 'Bride' of Christ (the Church), will be made whole and perfect.

So, remember this today:
Our religion can only reach up to a certain point - That is when God's grace takes over.

"Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it" - Ephesians 2:8-9

1 Corinthians 15:10 - "But whatever I am now it is all because God poured out such kindness and grace upon me."

What do you think about that?

Living in Grace

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Looking in the wrong place...

I needed to sort something out at the bank today - I thought I was missing something important on one of the documents. So, I went into the bank to see if they could help me and immediately the lady showed me what I was looking for - it had been there all along, but I had been looking in the wrong place the whole time. I have to admit that I was even a little irritated before I went into the bank, because I felt as if the error was from their side. Well, needless to say, I was wrong and had to cover up my embarrassment.

Sometimes we are looking for spiritual things in the wrong places. We think that we need to search 'high' and 'low' for God, but God is already there. Instead of running around trying to find God, why don't you just stop for a moment - breathe in and out - and then read the following Psalm. As you read it keep reminding yourself that God is present with you.

God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. And so we need not fear even if the world blows up and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam; let the mountains tremble! There is a river of joy flowing through the city of our God—the sacred home of the God above all gods. God himself is living in that city; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay his help. The nations rant and rave in anger—but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin. The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He, the God of Jacob, has come to rescue us. Come, see the glorious things that our God does, how he brings ruin upon the world and causes wars to end throughout the earth, breaking and burning every weapon. 10 “Stand silent! Know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation in the world!” 11 The Commander of the heavenly armies is here among us! He, the God of Jacob, has come to rescue us! - Psalm 46 (Living Bible)

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Make it come alive

Sometimes reading the Bible becomes a little dry. We may get into a place of feeling that there is no life in the pages anymore. If this is the case, then I urge you to try a different version of the Scriptures. What you will find is that some of the familiar passages will come alive again. I know that I have done this a few times in my life - just a simple decision to read the New Living Translation, instead of the New International Version, or to read the Living Bible instead of the King James, may make all the difference.

Take the following verse as an example (John 10:10). It says the same thing, but each version sheds some new insight into the Truth of the verse.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (MSG)

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (KJV)

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (NLT)

Living in Grace

Monday, 14 September 2015

Overcoming failure

It has taken me two years to get the monkey off my back, but on Saturday I finally managed to conquer a challenge that has been bugging me. In 2013, I attempted to ride the Hill2Hill (half distance) bike race and it was something I had never done before. In hindsight, I hadn't trained as much as I could have and I was ill in the week before the race. Well, as you may remember I had to bail around the 30km mark and it left me feeling disappointed.

I don't like the taste of failure - I am not sure there are many of us who do - and so I have lived with that nagging sense of "failure" for 2 years now. I can't tell you the elation I felt on Saturday when I crossed the finish line and to top it off I was feeling great! I am grateful to my friends and team-mates who encouraged me across that finish line.

So, here is my observation on this:
Failure doesn't have to define you. 
Failure doesn't have to be the last word spoken from a particular experience.
Failure is not fatal.

When God is in our lives, He is able to transform anything into something worthwhile. Well, that is what I believe!

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

James 5:11 - As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

So, DON'T Give up!

Living in Grace

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Leaving an imprint - Dr. Neil Oosthuizen

I have just returned from sharing in the Sessions on the Youth Pastors Gathering in the Eastern Free State. It was a wonderful time of connecting with young leaders from around South Africa, who are passionate about sharing Jesus in their communities.

What was significant for me was that it marked 20 years since I went along on my first Youth Pastors gathering. That year we were lead by the inspiring Rev. Dr. Neil Oosthuizen, who tragically died 3 weeks ago. In fact, Neil was asked to lead the sessions at this years gathering, but he died before he was able to share with us.

I remember that gathering in 1995 as if it were yesterday. I was a young man entering into the world of ministry. I was overwhelmed by many changes in my life, wrestling with God's calling and trying to find my feet in other areas of life. Neil provided solid teaching and incredible GRACE in pouring out his heart to us. He gave us hope for the Church and for sharing Jesus with the next generation. It was through his love and care that many of us continued in our ministries.

As I tried to emulate Neil's heart this last week, I was taken aback at the huge responsibility we all have. We are like runners in a relay race - we are given the baton and asked to run our leg of the race, but we also need to pass on the baton to someone else soon. I count it a privilege to have shared the baton with Neil (and now with my colleague Rev. Andrew Evans), as we seek to inspire the next generation of leaders.

Neil, we want you to know, that your labour was not in vain and we will do all we can to hold the torch for the next wave of pastors and leaders. May we be as faithful as you were. May we serve Christ as passionately as you served him.

Psalm 127:1 - "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain."

1 Corinthians 15:58 - "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain."

Living in Grace

Friday, 11 September 2015

Out of the ashes

Today is the anniversary of September 11, but I think that you already knew that. This blog is not a commentary so much on the tragedy of that event, but rather to relay another story of pain and hope. For me, today is a significant day in another sense - I get the privilege of doing a wedding for a young couple who have their own story of struggle, loss and now joy.

One year ago, this couple lost their new born baby boy - he was only a few hours old. The heartache and incredible pain of this tragedy left a mark on my heart as I tried to guide them through this time. If it wasn't easy for me, then you can only imagine how traumatic it was for them. It was beyond words.

However, today I am blessed to stand with them as they commit their lives to each other through a simple wedding ceremony. They have chosen to mark the anniversary of their sons death, by committing their love to one another. I couldn't think of a greater way to celebrate 'loss', by joining it with 'JOY'.

This reminds me that our God is always in the business of restoring hope. It is out of the ashes of despair that Christ brings up the phoenix of faith, HOPE and love. Remember that even when we encounter loss, God is already moving to create a new beginning somewhere else.

John 11:25 - "Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die..."
"Into the darkness you shine out of the ashes we rise there's no one like you none like You!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God..." - Chris Tomlin
Living in Grace

Monday, 7 September 2015

Who is counting?

Some people just love to count the score, don't they? If they feel that you owe them something, then they will drag up old memories and remind you that you are indebted to them. It is easy to do this, when you feel that others owe you, but when we are the people who are on the back foot, then it is a lot harder.

I am most grateful that God doesn't count my sins against me anymore. I am hugely thankful for the grace offered to me in Jesus Christ, because if I were still trying to pay God back, then I would be never be rid of the debt I owe.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:19 - "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation."
 It is when I fully comprehend that God has forgiven my sins, that I am released to serve him with gladness and freedom. I discover that I now want to serve God, out of a place of joy, not out of a sense of duty.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that you don't keep a record of my sins, but that you have forgiven me in Christ Jesus.

Living in Grace

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." -Willie Nelson

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Keep Pedalling

A few of us went mountain biking this afternoon, as we needed to get some final training in before we do the Hill2Hill race on Saturday. There was a moment en route where we needed to pass through a tunnel that had no lights showing us the way. For a few seconds we were all riding 'blind' - all could do was try to keep the bike straight and the pedalling smooth. Thankfully, we soon saw some light and then we knew that we were going to make it through to the other side :)

This brief moment reminded me a lot about our faith experience. There are many moments in our lives where we just have trust God and keep pedalling. We don't see what the end looks like, but we just trust that God will get us through to the other side. In my experience, God MAKES sure that we get through the 'dark tunnels' in our lives and he leads us into His light.

So, if you find yourself living in a dark space at the moment, please just keep pedalling! God hears your hearts cry and he will not let your foot slip.

Psalm 73:2 - "But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone."

Psalm 66:9 - "...he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping."

Living in Grace

Friday, 4 September 2015

Best meal ever

What is the best meal you have ever eaten?
I am not sure if you can even remember this meal, but I am sure that we have all had numerous special dinners. Perhaps the ones we remember the most are the birthday, Christmas or Anniversary celebrations.

Well, regardless of what your best meal is, the Bible offers us this insight for today:

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat." - Matthew 5:6

May God be your best meal today and may His spirit sustain you throughout all your tasks. 

Proverbs 17:1 - "A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels."

God bless you with His favour

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Learning from imperfect people

The Frankish King, Charlemagne was once known as the new Saviour of Christiandom, but he was far from Messiah material. Sure, there were many good qualities in the man, but he was also hugely flawed. His many imperfections were obviously committed in the public eye, yet so were his wise decisions. He had a great love for education and believed strongly that the Church held the key to educate the people of his generation.

This reminds me that we can still learn from others, even if they are flawed and imperfect. There are always valuable lessons to be learnt from others, especially those who seek to follow God.

Remember how many of the biblical characters were flawed?
Remember how often they stumbled and disappointed God, yet we still turn to their words in the Scriptures today?
Thankfully, God chooses to use broken vessels to convey his perfect truth.

Here are some of Charlemagne's wise words.

"To have another language is to have another soul."

"Right action is better than knowledge, but in order to do what is right, we must know what is right."

Living in Grace