Friday 29 May 2009

Reflections from Beans and Rice challenge

So today is Day 5 of our challenge to eat only beans, rice and pap - the staple diet of billions of people around the world. These are a few of my reflections from this experience:

1. I eat far too much! Only eating 3 basic meals a day is enough to survive on. Snacking on things is a habit that is stimulated through our ability to 'buy' things. In other words, if I had to account for every cent I spend, I would have to cut out these luxuries.

2. My body can adjust to changes in diet very easy actually - it is just my mind and willpower that battle it out. Admittedly, I don't really want to eat samp and beans again for a long time, but my palete got used to it after a while.

3. Although I have not really felt the hunger pangs anymore, there is a sense in which I feel my concerntration and ability to work effectively has been impacted. It makes me think about how many poor kids go to school with no food and then are expected to study - it is impossible to expect long-term results from this lifestyle.

4. This challenge has opened my spirit up to feel more empathy towards people. It has even challenged my generosity levels.

5. The experience as got me thinking about this 'Recession' we have headed into as a country. What can the Church do to speak into this situation?

6. I understand more why Jesus had a heart for the poor and marginalised.

7. I have learnt to appreciate everything more. I am more conscious of all that I am blessed with and the awesome responsibility I have to use these 'treasures' wisely.

As Gary Haugen said: "In this world of need, why have I been blessed with so much?"

8. Jesus said: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) What does that mean for the billions of people who are struggling to survive on meagre resources? Our Spirituality helps us to transcend this world and to look to our heavenly Father to provide our EVERY need.

9. Lack of food doesn't have to make me grumpy! It's my choice.

10. Matthew 6:33 - 34

May you be blessed today. May the abundant Grace and mercy of Jesus be your 'soul food.'

Living in Grace,

Wednesday 27 May 2009

The Lord is my vending machine!

I was visiting someone in hospital yesterday, when I walked past a vending machine. It is strange, I know, but it made me think of the way we treat God sometimes. Some people change Psalm 23 to read ... "The Lord is my vending machine - I shall not be in want. He provides me with my every desire. I pray my prayer and then expect him to deliver what I have ordered. When he doesn't give me what i want, I get upset & ask for more."

How many Christians see God in this way? Lord, I put my money into the machine (pray the prayers) and I get to choose what I want - if that item doesn't fall to the dispenser at the bottom, then I get upset. That is not the way you work Lord. Forgive us for treating you like a machine - cold, practical and 'just there!'

I think that this 'beans, rice and pap' challenge is also making me think a lot about the way I live my life. We have the privilege of many things at our disposal and if we are honest, we don't want for much. This can blur the way I see my relationship with God and soon I expect the same from him. God doesn't have to be answering my ever whim - He desires to honoured, worshipped and glorified.

Anyway, next time we go past a vending machine, let's think about the nature of our prayers.

Living in Grace,

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Beans and Rice Challenge

In response to our month of Mission, some of the folk from Wesley are taking up the beans, rice and pap challenge. For 5 days we are trying to eat the 'staple' food of over half the world's population. Today is day 2 and it has already got me thinking differently. There are many times when I go to the kitchen cupboard or even the fridge, open it up and choose what I want to eat. Sometimes I am guilty of even complaining that 'there is nothing to eat', when there is plenty to eat! Besides, even if my fridge was running low on stock, I know that I could stop in at one of the shops and buy whatever I feel like. However, 3-4 Billion people will only eat some rice, beans or pap, today. They have no choice - that's all they can afford. That is a real challenge, isn't it?
As you go about your daily work or ministry, try and stop for a few seconds and recognise the poor in our midst. It is only when we become aware of the poor, that we will be moved to respond.
God's grace shines on everyone - rich and poor alike. That seems unfair at times, but thank you Jesus for you amazing Grace.

Friday 22 May 2009

Ascension Day

Yesterday was Ascension day, as most of you know. Take a look at Salvador Dali's impression of the 'Ascension' and ponder this...

Do you notice which part of his body is the most pronounced? Yes, of course you can see it - it's his feet. This is perhaps the same view the disciples had as Jesus ascended right before their eyes (Acts 1). Jesus' ascension marks his returning to the right hand of God the Father and the passing on of the minstry to the disciples. They were tasked with the mantle and called to preach the Good News.

We are now also called to be his hands and feet. That is our task as the body of Jesus Christ - to use our 'feet' to spread the Gospel. No, this doesn't mean that people will be moved to Salvation because they see (and smell) our smelly feet - it literally means that as a church we need to get off our backsides and tell the world about Jesus.

Isaiah 52:7 - How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Jesus doesn’t take an early shower in heaven, whilst we are carrying on the work on earth – No way, he is praying and interceding for us. This is what Romans 8:34 says – “Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

Jesus' ascension surprises us because it tells us that God trusted us enough to leave the ministry up to us (along with the power of the Spirit). We have the awesome task of completing the game, not as a substitute, but as one of God's impact players. Let's respond to the challenge and honour his grace.

Your team-mate

Expressing our deepest Gifts

We human beings are never happier than when we are expressing the deepest gifts that are truly us - Os Guiness
This quote is in John Eldredge's book 'Desire' and it really resonates with me this week. I think it is because last week I had to do a lot bunch of things that were not exactly contributing towards my desire for ministry and serving God (i.e - Church Synod!) On the other hand, I have had a few gaps this week to pursue some of the things that really energise me in my calling. I have felt as if I have been 'expressing the deepest gifts God has given me' and it has left me feeling truly happy. There is an overwhelming peace, joy and satisfaction in moving in time with God.
If you have a chance this week - do what you are passionate about - what God has laid upon your heart - what he has called you to and what you believe will make a difference in the lives of others. There is nothing sweeter than that.
Be Blessed, my friends.
Grappling with Grace - but living in it's afterglow.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

The controversy of Grace

It was our dear friend William who wrote these words - "Grace is grace despite of all controversy" (Shakespeare).
Now, often our immediate reaction is 'how can grace be controversial?' Well, just spend enough time in a Christian community and very soon you will see what he means. We are all more than willing to receive the unmerited favour of Jesus (grace), but when it comes to our granting of grace, well, let's just say that we are not as quick to respond.
It is only those who understand how much they have been forgiven that can distribute grace with true liberty. For the person who considers their sin 'not-so-bad' God's saving hand seems weak and it isn't long before they become their own masters again. True Grace moves us only into the role of a servant of God (John 13). We can't serve two masters, as Jesus pointed out.
Grace is controversial because it saves all who are willing to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is also controversial because it reminds all Christians that there can only be one person on the Throne - that means it is either me or Jesus.
May grace make us more aware of our need to step off our own 'high-horses' and to wash the feet of the King.
Living in the controversy of Grace,

Sunday 17 May 2009

Using broken things

Over the past week I have seen and heard enough evidence to conclude that not only is the world a broken place, but our Church is also broken. This realisation can really shake our foundations, especially when we hae high hopes for the body of Christ.

I have grappled with Jesus' plan in leaving the succession of his ministry to the 'imperfect' disciples, who in turn passed it onto future generations of broken people. A brief glance at Church History confirms that there have been enough sinful, imperfect, immoral, unjust and incompetent church leaders - spanning the last two millenia - to conclude that Christianity is finished. Yet, we stand in the middle of 2009 and realise that God is still working in and through His broken 'Bride' and that countless people are still being drawn into the Kingdom of God. This is indeed a mystery. How can a broken vessel be used to carry the Life-changing power of the Spirit of God? It doesn't make sense to man, but to God it is perfectly rational.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:32 - "This is a profound mystery - but i am talking about Christ and the church." God has successfully been able to transmit His message of unconditional love and forgiveness down through the generations, not by using a perfect conduit, but by relying on a broken body. This is the very reason that the Church will continue until Christ's return - it is not due to the efforts of man, but rather thanks to the supernatural power of God.

Prayer: Lord, I often contribute towards the brokenness of the body of Christ - not because I am deliberately destructive, but due to my inherent sin. Use me to transmit your message, but please don't let people look at my 'life' - let them be pointed to the Cross of Jesus and his empty tomb.

Living in grace,

Thursday 14 May 2009

Eat with the King

Over the last couple of days I have been noticing how God prepares for us a feast of experiences - admittedly some of them may not be what we would naturally taste first, but the feast lies before us. What is truly tragic and a great pity is that we choose to only eat from what falls on the floor. This is not from some kind of pious humility, but rather from the misplaced notion that God doesn't actually want us to 'eat' from his abundance. Our God is good. He wants us all to know that "he came to give us life and life in all it's fullness" (John 10:10).
So my fellow Christ-followers 'eat' from the table of our Lord. He is good and his mercy lasts forever.
Living in the slipstream of God's amazing Grace.
P.S. I will be away on a Church Synod for 3 days, so there will be a few quiet days from me. Be Blessed.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

One Line Purpose

The devotion I was doing today challenged us to sum up our life's purpose in one line. They used the example of Mordecai and Esther, from the Old Testament book of Esther. Mordecai's purpose could have been - "The price of obedience is never too high." Esther's could have read - "What I am is more important than what I have."

Paul wrote some powerful words in Philippians 3 and perhaps his purpose was summed up in 3:13 - "I press on towards the win the prize!" So how about you? If you were stopped in the street today and the reporter asked you to sum up your purpose in a sentence, what would you say?

Thinking about my own, I would have to respond with one of the following, as a start:
"To Honour my King!"
"To love without limits."
"To live the abundant life."
"To leave a Godly legacy."

Whatever we understand to be our purpose to be, we need to respond to the Life and Grace given to us by our Maker. Every breath should be used to give our Saviour the honour due his name. In the opening words of the Westminster Cathecism - "Man’s chief end is to glorify God,and to enjoy him forever."
May you Live with Purpose and Grace today,

Monday 11 May 2009

He Walks!

Well it has been a long time coming, but this weekend my little boy walked properly for the first time. He has been taking the odd step here and there, but this weekend was the first time he walked anywhere with purpose. We are so chuffed!
I know that some of you are yawning at my joy, but every parent sees these milestones as brilliant. Josh is not the first child to ever walk (and he certainly has taken his time to get going) and it is not as if he has just walked on water, but he is our son and there will only ever be one 'first time' for this milestone. When he is 13, 21, 30 and 50, I will not be blogging the world telling everyone that 'my son walked today!'We will all take this for granted. So yes, I am a proud dad today!
But even as I reflect on this, isn't it awesome to think that God looks at you and I in a similar way - he is proud of us - we are his kids. Sure there are many times when we disappoint him, but God 'cheers' in delight when we get some things right. He sees that we are learning and growing, that we are progressing in our journey of faith. Just as Josh is not going to be putting on his takkies and running the Comrades Marathon tomorrow, so I need plenty more 'spiritual direction and practise' before I tackle some other tasks. But on this day - I want to feel the smile of my heavenly dad - I want to hear the applause of my heavenly father as I stride forward in wobbly faith.
"I press on towards the goal, to win the prize..."
May you do the same.
Blessed by Grace,

Sunday 10 May 2009

Mothers in the eyes of Jesus

"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." - John 19:26-27.
If you have seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ" you may have noticed the incredible anguish on Mary's face as she follows Jesus' in his last hours. What mother wouldn't weep, grieve, and feel totally helpless as their son is torn from their grasp. Even in the midst of Jesus own physical pain and torture on the cross, we get a glimpse of the enormity of our Saviour. One of his dying acts is to publicly care for his mother. In speaking these words from John 19, he displays his divine ability to meet our every need. Mary would have needed to have been consoled and who better to do it than one of Jesus' closest companions, John.

Mothers hold a key place in the heart of Jesus and they should also hold an important place in our own. I owe my salvation (in part) to the enduring prayers of my mom. How many others can say the same thing? If your mother is still with you, then bless her today. If she has gone to be with the Lord, then thank God for what she meant to you and what she has instilled in your life.

I have begun to see the role of mother's from two different perspectives of late - I am aware of what my own mom did for me, but I am now seeing how much of role Kim is playing in the lives of Declan, Nathan and Joshua. They may not realise it now, but Kim is giving them the best start in life - her prayers, love and support are a priceless gift. A mother teaches a child mercy and grace, tenderness and compassion, in a way that us father's just can't. We try in other ways, but the God-given love a mother has is worthy far more than rubies, gold or silver!
Prayer: Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace. Thank you for our mother's who often model these virtues for us. Bless them today. Amen.
Living in Grace,

Saturday 9 May 2009


Bill Hybels speaks about Contagious Christianity - how we should seek to spead the gospel where-ever and when-ever we can. I will be unpacking this a little in the service tomorrow night - but here is a prelude.... What has struck me, is how many Christians put themselves in self-appointed confinement. We spend most of our time hanging around Christians and don't put ourselves 'near enough' to the very people who need to be 'infected' with the Good News. Yes, we need to build one another up with the fellowship of Christians, but how will the rest of the world know that there is any good news out there, unless we actually enter into their space. I am not talking about setting up camp in the 'enemies' territory, but embarking upon a little visit to spread Christ's message of Hope, Forgiveness and Grace. Think about how you first came to know the Lord - many of us were far away from the 'Church' before we were invited to experience the transforming power of Jesus. Let us reach out to our friends and family. Their eternity depends on it.
Live from your experience of Grace.

Friday 8 May 2009

Did you do this for me?

A few weeks ago we were up at sunrise at a beach near Coffee Bay (it was only because the kids woke us up early!) Anyway, after spending a few moments on the beach we soon got to see this awesome sunrise. God always speaks to me in moments like these. His promises seem to be so real and true. The reality was that in that pre-dawn haze, he made the sun rise for us (and you of course)- he wanted to communicate to me and he did it without even saying one single word. All I needed was to see the sun rising over the ocean and I knew that he had whispered to me..."Delme, I love you!" I was lost for words. God why do you shower me with so much grace, when all I actually deserve is rebuke! You amaze me, Jesus.
Living in Grace,

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Hand of God

If you are old enough to remember the infamous Diego Maradonna incident in the World Cup game against England, then you will know the term 'hand of God.' It is unfortunate that we only think of God's hand in this context, but thousands of years before Maradonna was even thought of, Isaiah wrote of the 'hand of God' in a different way. "Who has measured the waters in hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?" (Isaiah 40:12)Our God is so awesome, that the width of his 'hand' could measure the universe and he could hold all the water in the world in the palm of his hand. Now there is something to think about.
Prayer: God of Grace, even I have a place in the palm of your hand. You are truly amazing. Praise your name.
Living it out loud - in Grace.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Has anyone seen my PEACE?

We all know that life sometimes gets the better of us and we end up feeling a bit frazzled. It doesn't matter how much planning we do, we eventually end up on the 'hamsters wheel' - same stress, same workload, same people, same old - same old! Today I read this verse from Psalm 34:14 - "Seek Peace and Pursue it." This really struck me as being odd. I have always only seen 'peace' as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and one that I need to ask the Lord to bless me with. However, the Psalmists take on 'Peace' seems to suggest that it can be elusive and that we need to chase after it. Perhaps it is more a sense of pursuing opportunities to allow God to fill us with His Peace. This I can agree with. If we aren't intentional in our 'pursuit' of time with the Father, how can we know His peace?
May you pursue his Peace and may He Surprise you with it.
Living in my Father's world of Grace,