Tuesday 31 December 2013

Blessings for 2014

As we come to the end of another year, I want to wish you all a blessed 2014. I know that 2013 has had many moments of joy and celebration, but it has also been laced with pain and heartache. It seems to me, that as I get older, that I have become more aware of the bitter-sweet moments of life.

When I was younger, things seemed more simple, trouble free and less painful. As we get older we realise that life is like a bag of mixed sweets - good treats, sour sweets, hard candy, soft sweets and so on. We can't choose our own bag of sweets, but they all contain a mixture of good and bad. What we can choose is how we deal with Life and the issues we face. We can also choose to include God in our lives and trust in His guidance, love and mercy.

As you face another year, may you place your hand into the hand of Jesus. Walk into the unknown with a God who will shine His light on our path. God takes no delight in seeing us stumble and so he urges us to listen to his voice - God will navigate our way through whatever Life throws at us.

I also want to thank you for your support and encouragement in reading these 'Living in Grace' posts. I pray that they continue to inspire you in your faith.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

God bless you

Monday 30 December 2013

Close to God's heart

David reminded the people of Israel that even though they had drifted from God, that they still had a special place in God's heart. Looking at this Psalm, we see how David expresses this to the nation:

Psalm 148: 14
"And he has raised up for his people a horn,
    the praise of all his faithful servants,
    of Israel, the people close to his heart.”

The word 'horn' in this verse could also mean, 'strong one' or 'king'. God raised up his Son, as the strong one/King that they desperately needed. 

Jesus comes to be our strong one too, no matter how far away from God we feel. This is the Good News that we long to hear. And the reason God does all of this, is because .... we are close to God's heart!

May this knowledge sink deep into our spiritual memory. There may come a time when we really need to remember this.

Live in God's grace

Saturday 28 December 2013

Post Christmas prayer

I found this wonderful post Christmas prayer and wanted to share it with you. It is written by Scotty Smith - I have cut it a little shorter, but I am sure you will still get the point. Enjoy reading it and I encourage you to pray it for yourself.

Father, my prayer today is for all of us, no matter what Christmas was like. For even our best days are in need of the gospel, and none of our worst days are beyond the reach of the gospel. We always have more of your grace than we’re aware of and we need more than we realize.

When the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds. They still couldn’t worship at the temple; they still couldn’t give testimony in a court of law; they still were stereotyped as thieves by many in their community. A five-star inn in Bethlehem didn’t suddenly open up for Joseph and Mary the day after Jesus was born. She wasn’t spared any of the normal chaos and pain of birthing and afterbirth. Angels didn’t begin showing up as round-the-clock nurses.

Father, thank you that we don’t have to pretend about anything. Christmas isn’t a season in which we’re supposed to be transported into a super-spirituality, rising above reality. The gospel isn’t about denial but is about learning to delight in you, no matter what’s going on. We praise you that Jesus came into a real world where everything is broken, but he did come to make all things new, starting with us.

Please give each of us the special and the common grace you gave the shepherds. Let us hear and let us see more of Jesus, even if we remain “shepherds” the rest of our lives. Father, enable us to glorify and praise you in every season and situation of life. We are a people of hope, not hype, and everything you tell us in your Word will come to pass. Our past is forgiven, our present is in your hands, and our future is looking really good. This is good news for shepherds and kings alike. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ faithful and loving name.

God bless you
Living in Grace

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Blessed Christmas

I read somewhere that there are nearly 6500 known languages on our planet. The most popular is Mandarin, with nearly 2 Billion people speaking the language, followed by Spanish (400 million) and then English (335 million).

Whatever language is spoken in your household this Christmas may we all know come to understand God's great message of Love.

"For God so loved the world that he gave us His son..." - John 3:16

May we all get to appreciate and comprehend God's love for humanity.

And may you have a blessed Christmas.

Living in God's grace

P.S. This is how you say 'Merry Christmas' in Mandarin:

Shèngdàn jié kuàilè

Monday 23 December 2013


Again and again the Bible reminds us that 'greatness' in God's eyes is measured with a different scale. When the rest of the community commented that Bethlehem was not the best candidate to host the birth of a King, God showed them otherwise. And it was in His birth, that the world got to meet her Saviour - Jesus. It is amazing that a tiny, crying, wrinkly baby grew into a great man...

... and his greatness has reached the ends of the earth!

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned
    until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
    to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth." - Micah 5:2-4

Have a Blessed Christmas.

Living in Grace

Monday 16 December 2013

God with skin on

"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1: 9-14

If there ever was a verse that confirmed the old saying: "We want to comprehend a God with 'skin on'", then this is the verse.

This Advent, may you come to understand and know God in a deeper way.

Living in Grace

Thursday 12 December 2013

Mercy of God

In this season of Advent let us not forget that it was the 'tender mercy of God' that orchestrated the birth of Jesus. Zechariah composes a wonderful song, to celebrate the birth of John, but towards the end of the song, his words also speak of Jesus Christ:

"Because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 

 to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” - Luke 1:78-79

I am grateful that Christ's light can still shine in our darkness and that Jesus can guide our feet into the path of peace. I believe we could all do with more 'light' and 'peace.'

May Christ's mercy bring joy to your heart today.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 11 December 2013

One person inspires Hope

Can one person change a nation?
Well, in South Africa we would definitely say 'Yes!' It has been clear this past week that the Madiba Magic has not died, but it lives on. In fact, it is almost as if Nelson Mandela's death has rekindled some of the hope we held as a nation. During the last few years it seems as if we have lost our way, as a nation, but Madiba's parting gift to us is to wake us from our slumber. Our gift to him would be to live as people of hope and reconciliation.

Let me ask us another question - Can one person change a world? 
Well, it seems as if Nelson Mandela has come close to bring the entire planet to a stand-still, even if it is just for this week. He has been trending on Twitter all over the globe; written about in every newspaper in the world and is constantly being mentioned on facebook, blogs, websites and news bulletin's in every country. He has impacted our world in a major way - that is undeniable.

However, let us not forget that Madiba modelled many of his values (forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and mercy) on another man - Jesus Christ. And it is Jesus who continues to change the world, 2000 years after his birth.
Jesus inspires Hope in people, even today.
Jesus loves all people.
Jesus offers forgiveness to all who would receive him.
Jesus cares about the widows, orphans and children.

One person can indeed inspire Hope.
I thank God for Jesus.
I thank God that Madiba knew Jesus.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 10 December 2013

The Star

 The Star of Bethlehem is traditionally linked to a prophecy in the Book of Numbers:

"I see Him, but not now; 
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob..." - Numbers 24:17

It is this same star that is said to have guided the Magi to Jesus. Matthew records this in his Gospel:

 "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” - Matthew 2:1-12

This star is deeply symbolic for Christ-followers for a number of reasons - it reminds us that Jesus is a light in a dark world and that God will guide us, even when things don't seem to make sense. It also teaches me that even the stars can point us to our Saviour. 

So this Advent Season, may we follow the signs that point us to Jesus.  

Living in Grace

Saturday 7 December 2013

The passing of a legend


It is with sadness that we say goodbye to Nelson Mandela - I found myself welling up with emotion as I watched the tributes and film clips on TV - he is indeed an amazing man.

To touch one life is powerful,
To empower a nation is great leadership,
But to move a world to tears is a unique gift.
Only a few people will ever be given that privilege.

RIP Madiba.

If you are near Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday evening the 10 December at 6pm, we are going to host a short service of remembrance for Madiba. It will be held at Wesley Methodist Church.

Living in Grace

Thursday 5 December 2013

Knowing the difference

It is hard to sometimes know the difference between 2 things that appear similar at a glance. Take for example, glass and perspex. If you quickly look at something that is made of perspex, you could easily mistake it as being made from glass. In the end, this may not make a massive difference to anyone, but we need to acknowledge that they are different!

Let me give another example, via Alan Redpath:

"There are many weird ideas about bearing your cross. I remember a man saying to me, 'I have a fierce temper, but I suppose that is my cross to bear!'

'My friend,' I said to him, 'That is not your cross. It is your wife's cross, but it is your sin!"

I can sometimes fool myself, but others know the truth. I may think that my character, lifestyle and choices, are a result of the influence of others (and there may be some truth in that), but in the end, I need to be real enough to admit the truth - it could be my sin!

Let's not confuse perspex with glass!

Advent is about reflecting on the birth of Jesus and the Hope that Jesus brings. Jesus bore my sins on the cross and it is now my call to 'take up my cross and follow him.'

Living in Grace

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Running with Spiderman

I decided to start my morning with a little jog around our suburb. I asked if any of the kids wanted to join me, but only Joshua (5) decided he was keen. So myself and Josh headed out for our jog/walk for about 10 minutes - he was dressed in his full Spiderman suit and I was in my running gear (and no, mine is not a Spiderman outfit!)

It was such a fun way to start the day. He was full of stories while we eased our way past sleeping neighbours. He commented on how 'naughty' people were to leave litter on the roads - as it made the 'whole world dirty' and he was also looking out for new trees to build his double storey tree-house in (his single storey tree house needs an upgrade me thinks!)

But what was the best, was how a few people commented on 'spiderman' running in the neighbourhood. Others who were walking or hurrying to work, stop and asked him, "How is Spiderman today?" It made me smile and it kind of made me reflect on how cool it was being on the road with Spiderman. I felt safe:)

Wouldn't it be good to remember that life is like going on a run - we encounter many things and people on the road of life, but we have a close companion .... Jesus. Running the race of Life with Jesus is so much better than running with any superhero - no matter how cool Spiderman is!

Living in Grace

Tuesday 3 December 2013

I am Gabriel

There are a number of people who have written autobiographies starting with the words "I am...."
Take for example Zlatan Ibrahimović - his is entitled, "I am Zlatan" and is appropriate for a professional footballer who has a giant ego!

Another one is Malala Yousafzai - her autobiography seems more "humble" than others, but her story is still remarkable. She is the Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban, when she was just 15 years old. She is an activist for education and women's rights in her country. In my opinion, anyone who is willing to stand up for her principles, like Malala did, deserves recognition.

In the build up to the birth of Jesus there is someone else who uses the phrase "I am..." - it is the angel Gabriel.

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." - Luke 1:19

His statement is one of introduction, but equally one of authority. Gabriel was revered by the Israelites and so to stand before Zechariah and declare, "I am Gabriel" - wow, that must have been immense! No wonder Zechariah couldn't speak for months!

God brings us this same Good News this festive season - we may not be confronted by an Angel, but we can come face to face with the Christ child. It is my prayer that we would come to know God's good news in a fresh way this year. Perhaps we will even hear the voice of the Messiah, as he whispers...

... I AM Jesus!

God bless you

Monday 2 December 2013

Beauty remains

" I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains." ~Anne Frank

It takes a lot to ignore the pain and suffering we encounter and to seek the positive in life. As has been said before, 'Attitude is everything.' If you are getting bogged down by all the negative in our world, why not try and look for something beautiful. This could be from anything or anyone.

It is easy to be drawn to the dark parts of the world, as they so readily shout for our attention, but let's remember that God is still Creator and Redeemer. If we focus on the Life offered to us in Jesus, we will begin to notice the small sparks of beauty. After all, it was God's idea to send the rainbow after the flood. 

Let the light of Jesus fill you to overflowing.

Living in Grace


Sunday 1 December 2013


In preparing for today's message I came across this poem/song. I know that 'trust' is something we all struggle with, often wishing we were able to trust more in people and in God.

“Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.

Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him, for his will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest.” - Source Unknown.

I guess the wonder of Trust is that it usually works best when we realise that our options are few - if you like, we find ourselves humbled by our circumstances, and so we can't do it all alone. Putting our trust in God and others is a humbling experience, but it can be so liberating. 

Today marks the first day of Advent and I pray that we may learn to trust in God this Advent season. The arrival of our Saviour reminds us that God can be trusted in all things. God fulfilled his promise to bring Hope, Light and Love into our world.

"For God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Living in Grace