Sunday 31 October 2010

Growth in the dark

I have heard these words twice over the past week, so thought you may find them helpful - "Flowers soak up the sun and rain in the day time, but they do their growing in the dark." To put it in a different way - we don't grow through the good times, but rather through the difficult times.

"If the thunder is not loud, the peasant forgets to cross himself." - Russian proverb
"A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner." - English Proverb

May we be deeply conscious of God's spirit with us in the dark times. The growth will follow.

Living in Grace,

Saturday 30 October 2010

What are others seeing?

What kind of Christian community are you in at the moment? Read these thoughts and then answer the question:

"A Christian community that produces love and beauty is a witness that cannot be denied...we must first be people who live out the gospel." - Alasdair MacIntyre

So, how are you doing with that? How can we offer more 'grace' to people in our community?

Living in Grace,

Friday 29 October 2010

Thoughts on the Cross

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote these powerful thoughts on the cross:

"Every now and then, I would catch a glimpse of a cross - not necessarily a crucifix; maybe two pieces of wood accidentally nailed together, on a telegraph pole, for instance - and suddenly my heart would stand still. In an instinctive, intuitive way I understood that something more important, more tumultuous, more passionate, was at issue than our good causes, however admirable they might be."

May these words offer us food for thought.
Thank God for the Cross.

Living in grace,

Thursday 28 October 2010

Church visioning

The leaders of Wesley are heading off for 2 days to pray and plan for 2011. Our aim is to realign ourselves with God's vision for the Church and to be obedient to God's purposes. In preparation for this I have been doing some reading around the issues of Church. My reading has been across the spectrum of opinions ranging from Brian McLaren (Church on the other side), Leonard Sweet (Carpe Manna) and Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Church).

My deepest prayer is that we would simply honour Jesus' words in John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last" and in John 3:17 - "For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Pray for us.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 27 October 2010


Holy ground is dangerous territory - just ask Moses. Sometimes I feel that we need to recapture the truth of living on Holy Ground. If God is as near as we proclaim He is then we are permanently on Holy Ground. How does this Holy place transform us?

Eugene Peterson writes:
"Holiness is the furnace that transforms the men and women who get too close to it. Holy, Holy, Holy, is not a Christian needlepoint - it is the banner of a revolution, the revolution."

May we get so near to the furnace of 'Holy Ground' that we are forever transformed.

Living in Grace

Make a stand

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

Being good doesn't prevent evil. Confronting darkness with the Light of Christ is the only way to ensure victory. Take a stand!

1 Peter 4:16 - "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."

Living in Grace,

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Road Markings

Road markings are crucial to our safety on the roads, but we all have the freedom to abide by them or to ignore them. If I choose to ignore the warning signs and overtake on a 'solid white line' I am putting my life in danger, as well as the lives of my passengers and other motorists. It's dangerous, but it is still my choice.

The Word of God is often like road markings. It is there to guide us, to protect us and to keep us focused on the journey. But we can still choose to ignore it. The consequence of ignoring the Word is also disastrous. We put our lives in danger, as well as the lives of many people - but, it's our choice.

Make a choice. The markings are there for a reason. Think about it.

Living in Grace,

Monday 25 October 2010

Starting from Scratch

I am sure that most of us have heard the phrase 'starting from scratch' before (If you would like to know where it originates from click here). We come to understand that it means 'beginning all over again.'

I am convinced that part of my commitment to Jesus means that I need to 'start from scratch' every morning. I am conscious of my own mistakes and short-comings and so the best place to begin a new day is with confession - starting clean.

Why don't you take 2 minutes to spend quietly in prayer. Starting from scratch can be quite liberating.

Psalm 51:2 - "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."

Living in grace

Saturday 23 October 2010

Humility and C.S.Lewis

Humility is always about looking in the right direction. What do I mean by this? Well, read these words and I think you will understand:

C. S. Lewis - "A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as you are looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you."

When we look towards God and then compare our lives with His, then we begin to experience humility.

Luke 18:14 - "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Who are we comparing ourselves with? Just asking?

Living in Grace,

Thursday 21 October 2010

God speaks in strange ways

Has this ever happened to you? You are speaking with someone and they say something random to you, but it happens to be exactly what you need to hear?

This happened to me today. I had just come out of a difficult meeting and I was feeling down. I popped down to the shops to get something and as I was leaving I started talking to the car guard about a variety of things (we happened to be speaking about the colour of cars etc.) when in the middle of a sentence he said these words to me:
"Just play it cool and everything will work out!"
Time stopped! A zillion things were racing through my mind, but the clearest thought was "The Holy Spirit has literally just spoken through his guy and I bet he doesn't even know it!" I was gobsmacked. This sentence had nothing to do with cars or even the colour of cars and yet it was exactly what I needed to hear. God is amazing!

John 3:34 - For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

May the Holy Spirit speak to you today.

Living in Grace,

You only work on Sundays!

If I had 1 Rand for every time I heard this phrase:
"Minister's only work one day a week" I would be a Millionaire!
It is true that the majority of the community gets to 'see' us working on a Sunday, but lots of activities happen behind the scene and focus on smaller groups of people. Take this past Tuesday as an example. This was my day:

6:00am - Men's prayer and accountability at McCafe
7:00am - Kids to school
7:40am - Admin etc at Church
8:30am - Wesley Staff Meeting
10:00am - Response and feedback (via calls and emails)
10:45am - Appointment with Church member
12:00 - Fetch Joshua from School
12:30 - Meeting at Home over lunch(Ministers do eat from time to time:)
14:00 - Second School run
15:00 - Holy Communion to members of Church in their home
16:00 - Prep for meeting and Marriage counselling
17:00 - Counselling for couple getting married
18:20 - Quickly home for Supper
19:00 - Circuit Exec meeting at Metro (which finished at 10:50pm)
23:00 - Home from meeting and sleep

That's a day in the life of a minister. Ok, this was quite an exceptional case, as our meetings normally finish at 9:30pm, but you get the idea. So next time your minister/pastor stands to preach on a Sunday know that he is going to be working more than 1 day this week:)

Thanks for your prayers - we need them.

Living in Grace,

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Patience or Persistence

Sometimes our prayers feel like they are having no impact. God is seemingly slow to respond and we begin to get frustrated. What do we do then? Do we persist in the same prayer or do we sit back and wait patiently for God to act - or is it a bit of both?

Psalm 37:7 - Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...

Luke 18:1 - "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (Read the whole parable here)

Living in Grace

Tuesday 19 October 2010


Do we say 'Yes' to easily or are there times when we don't say 'Yes' enough? Trying to decide which things in our lives are the most important is always tricky and we will all have different criteria for this.

Too be honest, sometimes I feel that I have said 'Yes' too much and then when I start to feel drained I begin to need a break. It has become like an inbuilt 'warning light' for me. When the 'light' flashes I need to re-look at my priorities.

Here are some things I am finding helpful in trying to prioritise. Use them or make your own list - But all I pray is that we would think through this subject.

1. How do you sort out who/what's important in your life?
2. Does this then reflect in your diary/calendar?
3. Where does God fit into this list? How does this show?
4. Remember that other people will always have an agenda for your life - we can't say 'Yes' to everyone.
5. Is my 'Yes' adding value to people, projects, church (etc) or should someone else be saying 'Yes?'

Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Ask God to help you discern what are the important things to say 'Yes' to.

Living in Grace,

Monday 18 October 2010


"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark." - George Iles

Psalm 25:3 - "No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse."

Believe in Hope. Believe in Jesus Christ.

Living in Grace,

Sunday 17 October 2010

Bow and Arrow

The boys were playing this afternoon with a bow and arrow. However, they started with a huge lesson to learn! One of them had the Bow and the other had the arrow - they were stuck. Neither of them wanted to release their 'toy' and so they were at a crossroads... how do I shoot an arrow with no bow? How do I pull the bow if I have no arrow to shoot?

Lesson 101 - The Art of Sharing!

As soon as their figured that out, they realised they could both play and both have fun!

Are we like that sometimes? We have something - someone as something else. If we combined our 'gifts' we could do something awesome, but instead we hold tightly onto our 'thing' and neither party wins!

1 Corinthians 9:10 - Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.

Living in Grace,

How do I engage?

I am thankful for all the intriguing and inspirational comments that I get from people, but I have been asked recently (by more than 1 person) "How do I engage with the blog devotions?" So for those of you who are interested here is the step by step procedure:

1. Open the email and go to the bottom of the page.
2. Find the sentence that says "You are subscribed to email updates from Living in Grace" - Click on the Blue underlined 'Living in Grace' part.
3. If you have internet this will take you directly to the blog site.
4. You will see the same 'devotion' in a similar format. At the bottom of the devotion is a Blue 'comments' link. Take pity on me and click on that:)
5. Write your comment in the box provided.
6. Choose your identity - just use the "Name" or "Anonymous" option if you aren't sure.
7. Click on "Publish your comment"
8. Whalla - it's done:)

If your head is spinning and you aren't into learning something new today, then just reply to my email address and I will get the comment. The only down side of this, is that no one else gets to appreciate your wisdom.

Be Blessed.

Living in Grace,

Saturday 16 October 2010

I don't feel like going to Church!

"I don't feel like going to Church!"
How often have you heard these words?
How often have we said these words ourselves?

Here's the thing - do we always feel like going to work? No! But we realise that there are a number of key reasons why we need to get to work - using our gifts, feeding the family, paying off debts, job satisfaction (maybe) and making a difference. 'Feeling' like going to work is not a good gauge to actually getting us there or not!

Do we always feel like exercising? No! But there are intrinsic benefits in actually getting to the gym, swimming pool or getting on the bike.

Do we always feel like attending all those school events? No! But we go in order to encourage our kids and to be part of the community.

Do we always feel like .... (you fill in the blank)

At the end of the day, 'Feeling' like going to Church is never a good motivator to make us end up there. Feelings should never be a key measure of our Faith - if it is we are setting ourselves up for a rude awakening.

We should believe that God wants to speak to us through His Word, that we can feel uplifted through our Worship, that we can be encouraged by fellowship, that we can be strengthened through Prayer.

Just a question - Did Jesus feel like being nailed to a cross? Did Jesus feel like being mocked and spat upon? Did he ever feel like losing his friends and family? I think not! But, He knew that our salvation depended on it.

Next time we are tempted to say, 'I don't feel like going to Church!' let's be challenged by the true value in worshipping our Saviour.

Your thoughts?

Living in Grace,

P.S. I found the picture by 'accident' on a blog that also comments about going to church. Check it out here

Eat, Pray, Love

We went to watch 'Eat, Pray, Love' last night and to be honest I am a little ambivalent about the movie. It was good just to remind us of our own travels through Italy and India - and to put Bali on our 'To Do' list, but more than that, I am not sure.

As far as capturing the essence of Rome and India the movie is spot on - when the first shot of India bursts onto the screen and Julia Roberts is hanging onto her taxi seat for dear life, that is so real. I laughed at that because India was exactly like that for us - noise, speed, traffic, animals, people, poverty, beauty and humidity!

Apparently Julia has converted to Hinduism (since the shooting of the film) and although this is obviously a deeply personal decision for her, the film doesn't make me want to seek the answers in Ganesh and friends. In fact, her search for God could have easily taken her down the path of being a True Christ follower, but that's my biased opinion. For a better review on this you must read the short review in So What?

Oh yes, when we got to the 'love' part of the movie, I had scary flashbacks to Julia Roberts in 'Runaway Bride' - just when Love happens, she bolts out of the relationship. Thankfully it all ends up differently this time.

For me, 'Eat, Pray and Love' could be three words used to describe our desired relationship with Jesus Christ:

1. Fill ourselves with the 'Bread of Life' and God's Word
2. Seek the intimacy of Christ through Prayer
3. Love God and love one another

Just my 5 cents worth!
What are you thinking?

Living in Grace,

Friday 15 October 2010


Are you willing to do a little 'perspiring' for things you believe strongly in? Justice, equality, peace, freedom, fulfilling a dream, the Gospel?
Most things of great value are not achieved over night. One has to pray for perseverance and strength to hang on.

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." - Thomas Edison

Remember Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane? He knew the task before him, but he needed to surrender his will to that of his Father. Is there a lesson for us in this? What do you think?

Luke 22:44 - And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Have a blessed day,

Thursday 14 October 2010

Trevor Hudson

When we are privileged to be in the presence of Godly men and women we need to acknowledge that. Trevor Hudson is one of these men (although he would be embarrassed to know I am writing this). He has had such a huge influence on my life, as a mentor from afar and now as a colleague in the ministry.

What marks the quality of godly person (for me) are 2 key things:
1. A passionate relationship with Jesus Christ
2. Genuine humility

Trevor has both of these in bucket loads!

The awesome gift for us is that he (along with others) can be our mentors too! All we need to do is to read some of his writings and we will grasp the spirit of the man. Click here to see all the books he has written.

Here is a quote for you, from his book on the Serenity Prayer:
"The Serenity Prayer reminds us that true wisdom is a gift that comes from God. It is something we need to pray for."

May you pursue your relationship with Jesus with passion and may we seek to live out of a place of genuine humility.

Living in Grace,

P.S. I was blessed to have Trevor write the foreword for Living Oceans Apart. His validation of that book was immense for me.

Wednesday 13 October 2010


We are on a minister's seminar at the moment. Usually I don't enjoy
these kind of things, but this year has been awesome! Rev Trevor Hudson
has been leading our sessions and it has been inspirational.
He used a quote today which is worth sharing:

"The Christian who has stopped listening to their neighbour, will soon
be deaf to God!" - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What are thoughts on that, especially in light of Jesus' call
for us to love our neighbours?

God be with you,
Living in Grace,

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Lesson from the Chilean miners

The 33 miners trapped in Chile are set to be rescued from tonight. After spending a world record 68 day underground (not that they care about the record) they will finally see their family and friends.

What is even more remarkable is that they are 'arguing' about who should be pulled to safety first - but not as we would think. Despite their plight they are willing to allow their friends to go before them. This speaks of servanthood for me. At a time when we could understand their selfishness, they are thinking of each other.

Galatians 5:13 - "...serve one another in love."

Matthew 20:16 - "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Living in Grace,

Monday 11 October 2010


Longinus was commissioned as a missionary to North Africa in the sixth century. One of his problems was that he was well known in Constantinople and the Emperor refused to allow him to leave – he was thrown in prison as a way of keeping him from going as a missionary.

Longinus had a further problem – he was very conspicuous in his community, because he had no hair. Yes, he was bald! Every time he tried to escape he was recognised and arrested. Finally, he managed to get hold of a wig and slipped past the security guards during a heavy storm. He eventually got to Nubia where he had a powerful impact on the Church.

So, what’s the importance of this for us? (besides that bald guys are cool!)
Think about what great lengths he went too in order to serve Jesus. If he had given up after being imprisoned, he wouldn’t have changed the church Nubia. How often do we give up serving Christ, when we are faced with a few obstacles? If we choose to serve Jesus we should EXPECT obstacles to come our way.

Let’s not give up when we face the first of many challenges. If God has called us to a particular task he will help us overcome all the challenges we will face.

Living in Grace,

P.S. Out of interest a legend states that the soldier who pierced Jesus side at the cross was also called Longinus. See this legend here

Sunday 10 October 2010

Important or not?

Here is something to spice up your start to the week:

C.S.Lewis once wrote:
"Christianity, if false is of no importance,
and if true, of infinite importance.
The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."

So, which one will it be? No importance or infinitely important?

I choose to echo the words of Peter...
John 6:68 - Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.


Living in Grace

Saturday 9 October 2010


Is there something significant about the number 10? Today is the 10th day of the 10th month of 2010. A lot of people are fascinated by the number of 10’s in this date and there are others who feel that it is a good/bad omen.

I am not convinced that it is anything more than just another glorious gift from God. It will be a special day because we will be given the opportunity to enjoy God’s creation and God’s gift of Life.

1 Peter 3:7“…the gracious gift of life.”

Sure, the day seems cool, because of all the 10’s, but it may not be more than that. But, I could be wrong - what does this mean for you?

Just out of interest, history tells us that nothing terribly significant took place on the 10th October 1010 – and that ended up having four 10’s in it.

So what will you be doing on the 10-10-10? I will be leading a service at 10 minutes past 10 on the 10th October 2010. I think that is pretty cool - or maybe I just need to get a life!

Be Blessed, today and always,
Living in Grace

How do you rate your faith?

It is privilege to have John van de Laar as a friend. He is guest blogging for me today. May you be blessed by these awesome thoughts.

How would you rate your faith? To what extent do you think that the amount of faith you have makes a difference to your life?

These may seem like strange questions to ask, but if you think about it, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s pretty common to ‘measure’ faith in these ways. Even though we’re not always aware of it, most of us have an internal ‘thermometer’ checking up on our faith and that of others – especially when it comes to times of prayer of great struggle.

In Matthew 17:20 Jesus says that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains! This may make you feel that your faith is absolutely tiny, but don’t be too hard on yourself. The point is that we don’t need to measure our faith, we need to use it. And even small acts of faith have dramatic effects.

How do you move mountains? One stone at a time!

To read more of John's thoughts please drop by his website. His latest book "The hour that changes everything" is amazing by the way (you can also check out the details on his website)

Living in Grace

Thursday 7 October 2010

Falling asleep in church

Let's be honest now - have you ever fallen asleep in Church? (if you tell me it was during one of my services, I will be bleak, but I will get over it!) East Coast Radio had a phone in this morning, where people were being honest about the unusual places they had fallen asleep. Sadly, there were a number of people who said 'Church!' Ouch! For all regular church goers we need to ask ourselves some questions about our worship services, especially if people are catching 40 winks during worship.

There was a time in the early Church where Paul preached for so long that a young man, Eutychus, fell asleep and then fell out the 3rd story window. He died on impact, but thankfully Paul prayed for him and he 'awoke' from the dead. Read the story here.

One would have thought that Paul would have called it a day after that little incident, but 'NO' he proceeded to carry on preaching until dawn (with no further casualties). So next time your pastor preaches for 25 minutes count yourself lucky that you aren't in Paul's church!

If you have a moment, tell us your story of how you fell asleep in Church (or even if you came close to it!)

Living in Grace,

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Your move!

When you play chess (like most board games) it works on a 'Your move - my move' basis. Bearing that in mind, don't that you think that God has already played His move, in the Cross and Resurrection?

It's now our turn to respond. How will we respond to God's grace?

Your Move!

Deuteronomy 23:14 - "For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you..."

Living in Grace,

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Protection misunderstood!

Josh came with me to fetch his brothers from school today. As he was trying to cross the road I stopped him from running across and he got upset with me.
"I want to go, Daddy."
I tried to tell him that I was only protecting him from being run over, but he misunderstood my protection. He thought I was messing up his fun, but I was showing my love for him, by looking out for him.

Do we do the same with God? Do we get angry with God when he stops us from doing something, misunderstanding his 'NO' as his desire to mess up with our lives.

Psalm 5:11 - But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Next time God says 'No' stop and think that perhaps he is protecting us from major harm.

Just thinking!

Living in Grace,

Rhythm and Routines

The start of a new school term always reminds me of the seasons of our lives. As we crawl our way to the end of a term we desperately seek a break from the routine and rush of appointments, commitments and agendas. Even a week break can help us to catch our breath and to regain the energy we need to start all over again.

But this is not just true of school terms - it is also true for other aspects of life. We need routine and rhythm to help us establish a sense of order, but it is also good to pause from these for a moment. This enables us to reflect on whether our routines are helping us or hindering us.

So, when last did you reflect on the rhythm of your life? Are you and I involved in things that energise us or are our diaries filled with commitments that drain us? Perhaps it’s time to push pause again. Just thinking?!

Daniel 2:21 - He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

Living in Grace,

Sunday 3 October 2010

Finding fault

Jesus had some challenging thoughts for his followers on the subject of judgement.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:1-5

Francois de la Rochefoucauld - "If we had no faults of our own, we would not take so much pleasure in noticing those of others."

May our judgement not be too quick!

Living in Grace,

Saturday 2 October 2010

Build your life

Lee Strobel's testimony of discovering life in Christ is remarkable. He was a former atheist, but now he is a powerful witness for Jesus. In his book, 'The Case for Christ' he writes:

"If Jesus is the Son of God, his teachings are more that just good ideas from a wise teacher; they are divine insights on which I can confidently build my life."

Proverbs 3:19 - By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place.

Let's build on a solid foundation.

Living in Grace,

Friday 1 October 2010


In trying to tell people about Jesus do we feel that we are exhausting ourselves in 'persuading' them to know Jesus? Maybe we should try this approach...

"Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas, but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ." - Ignatius of Antioch

Don't sell them an idea, introduce them to a person!

Living in Grace,