Wednesday 27 February 2013

Sunday, Bloody Sunday - Lent 13

I can't believe the news today
Oh, I can't close my eyes
And make it go away
How long...
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long...

These are the opening lyrics to the song, Sunday, Bloody Sunday, written by the hugely famous band U2. They wrote these words during the troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1980's. This song focuses  on the Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders.

I share this with you because this was the song that immediately came to mind when I began reading Psalm 13. In the opening two verses David cries out 4 times to God, "How long O Lord?" Each time he speaks these words they relate to something in particular. How long will God...

  • Forget us
  • Hide from us
  • Let me wrestle with my thoughts and sorrow
  • Let our enemies triumph over us
Perhaps you can relate to this right now! Perhaps your prayers also start with the phrase "How long O Lord?" If this is you, then please read the entire Psalm and note the word of hope and comfort David brings. His questions end with a statement of faith, born out of a clear belief in God's willingness to act and love.

"But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, 
for he has been good to me." - v.5-6

God will always deliver us from our darkest night!

Living in Grace

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Words, words, words - Lent 12

Words are easy to come from our mouths, but sadly they are not always followed up with action. David wrestled with a situation where people were happy to lie to each other and deception was common practise - wow, that sounds a lot like our world in 2013, hey?!

Everyone lies to their neighbour;
they flatter with their lips
but harbour deception in their hearts. (Psalm 12:2)

Yet, despite the attitudes and examples of those around him, David still reminds us that with God things are different. God is always a person of his word!

And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6)

When God speaks, his Word brings life!

1. Think of the many people who flocked to hear Jesus preach and perform miracles. Reflect on how their 'words' changed over 5 days (from one Sunday until the Friday). Words of praise quickly became words of hate and condemnation. Are we also so fickle?

2. What 'words' are you going to be using today? Guard them well.

 “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” - Rudyard Kipling

Living in Grace

Monday 25 February 2013

Running for dear life - Lent 11

I can remember one incident clearly, where I ended up 'running for dear life.' We were caught in a thunderstorm at Dover Castle in England. We had left the castle and we running to our car, which was quite a distance away. I still recall a bolt of lightning striking the ground a few meters from us - to say we were scared is an understatement! ....So, I understand the phrase 'running for dear life!'

Psalm 11:1 (Message)
"I’ve already run for dear life
    straight to the arms of God.
So why would I run away now..."

At times we can be so afraid of what is happening around us that we turn and run. Running away from danger is not a bad option, but we must remember to run into the arms of Jesus. He is our refuge and strength. God is our protector and safe haven.

Let's not run away from God, when the times are tough. Run towards God!

Living in Grace

Sunday 24 February 2013

God is Dead! - Lent 10

David's words in Psalm 10 have resonated with many faithful Christians throughout the ages - why is it that non-believer's have no regard for God and yet succeed in all they do? It doesn't seem fair does it?

Friedrich Nietzsche claimed "God is dead! God remains dead...". And it seemed to David that the people of his day thought the same thing... and they were getting away with it.

4The wicked are too proud to seek God.
    They seem to think that God is dead.
Yet they succeed in everything they do.
    They do not see your punishment awaiting them.
    They sneer at all their enemies.
They think, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us!
    We will be free of trouble forever!” - Psalm 10

David's complaint was that these 'evil doers' were getting away with their injustice, wickedness and sin - they were piling misery upon the poor and marginalised and were not even being held accountable for their actions. 

HOWEVER, the truth is that God is alive and God will call each of us to give an account of our lives in the end. Never give up on your faith, even it seems that the ungodly get away with their wickedness. God brings all things into the light.

Living in Grace

A Shelter - Lent 9

"The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
    a refuge in times of trouble.

Those who know your name trust in you,    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you." - Psalm 9: 9-10

We will  all need to take shelter from something at some point in our lives. It may be the pouring rain, the blazing sun or even a sandstorm on the beach. A Shelter is a gift in the time of need and God is willing to be that Shelter for us. 

You may have noticed that I used the picture of a bus stop, for a shelter. I like this image, because it reminds me that even though God will always be my shelter, it is never God's intention that we stop the journey. God has called us to keep 'walking in faith' - He will be my shelter whenever and wherever I need, but I MUST keeping going.

May you find peace in the shelter of God's grace.

Living in Grace

Thursday 21 February 2013

Majestic sandwich - Lent 8

Imagine having a 'majestic sandwich?' Of course I am not speaking of a real 'Subway' sandwich, I am speaking in a spiritual sense. In fact, it may do us good to eat some heavenly food for a moment and leave the fattening stuff til later.

David starts and ends Psalm 8 with the same phrase, thus sandwiching a lot of good stuff in the middle. This is the outer part of the sandwich:

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" - v.1 & 9

In the middle he reflects on the glory of God, the creation, humanity and so on - all the works of His hands. God has certainly made a lot of awesome things over time! The challenge is that God has left us to be stewards of all of these and often we forget the important role we can play in God's world. 

May we challenged this Lenten period to be good stewards of what God has made.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Judge me - Lent 7

The issue of judgement is a hot topic at the moment, especially surrounding the Oscar Pistorius case. I will reserve my comments on the matter for another day, but in today's Psalm David makes a strange request. He asks God to judge the people and then to judge himself.

"Let the assembled people gather around you. Rule over them from on high; 
let the Lord judge the peoples.
Judge me, O Lord,
according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity,
O most high." - Psalm 7:7-8

That's a bold prayer to pray.

"Judge me, O Lord. See if there are any offensive things in my life. Help me to be right and holy in your sight."

Would you be willing to pray that prayer?

"Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don't fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day. " - Jim Rohn

Living in Grace

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Turn Around God! - Lent 6

We often reflect on how we need to turn to God (which is true). Repentance comes from the word 'metanoia' which means 'to turn around' or 'turn back'. In a different spin on this word picture, we read in Psalm 6, how David begs God to turn around.

"Turn,  Lord , and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love." - Psalm 6:4

It is almost as if David imagines that God has turned his back on him. David longs for God to be moved by love and to rescue him from his distress. 

Do you feel that God has turned his back on you?

I assure you that he has not turned his back on us and that Jesus remembers us through his unfailing love. When Jesus glances at his scars and wounds he remembers us by name. How can he turn from the people he gave his life for?

Remember these old familiar words:

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace."
William Stafford - “What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?”

Living in Grace

Monday 18 February 2013

Are you Listening, Lord? - Lent 5

Does God hear our prayers? 

Well, David certainly believed that God heard our prayers - that's why in Psalm 5 he cries out to the

"Listen to my words,  Lord , consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray." - (Psalm 5:1, 2)

I am sure that David's confidence in God's ability to hear our prayers stems from his personal experiences of God responding to his previous prayers. He confidently says: "you hear my voice..." (Psalm 5:3)

For me, it is not that God doesn't hear our prayers, but sometimes we wrestle with the fact that God replies in ways that confuse us. 


All three of these answers can come from God's lips. We just need to trust in each answer.

  • "Praying in faith is not an inner conviction that God will act according to our desires if only we believe hard enough.  It involves believing that God will always respond to our prayers in accord with his nature, his purposes, and his promises."- Alvin VanderGriend

So, is God hearing your prayers and what is he saying?

Living in Grace

Sunday 17 February 2013

How are you sleeping? - Lent 4

How do you sleep at night? (…please don’t tell me, “with my eyes closed!”)

Do you sleep Peacefully?


In Psalm 4, David concludes his thoughts by saying: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (v.8)

He sleeps in peace because he has learnt to place his trust in God and he is convinced that the Lord helps him dwell in places of safety. I am convinced that David only gets to this place in his life, because he has endured nights of restlessness and insomnia. We often recognise the gift of ‘peaceful sleep’ after months of no sleep. 

Perhaps this is why he says in verse 4, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” David spent too many nights dwelling on anger and bitterness, so now sleep is a tremendous gift to him.

So, tell me again, “how are you sleeping?”

Be at peace.

Living in Grace

Friday 15 February 2013

Shield - Lent 3

God promises to be a shield around us - this applies especially to the times when we feel we are under attack, but also everyday of our lives.

"But you are a shield around me, O Lord." - Psalm 3:1

Take note of the word "You" in the verse. God is not promising to give us a material shield; a man- made object, made of steel or cow-hide or whatever. God is promising that He will be the shield. That makes all the difference!

When Jesus died on the cross for us, it was not some 'ordinary sacrifice' God provided for our redemption - He gave us himself! And that makes all the difference too!

"But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain." - The Message

May we know that God is a shield around us day and night. May we rest in the care of his grace and love.

Some other thoughts worth reflecting on in Psalm 3:
  • God answers our cries
  • The Lord sustains us
  • The Lord delivers us

Living in Grace

Thursday 14 February 2013

Toy soldiers - Lent 2

As I come to Psalm 2:2, I immediately think of a movie like Braveheart - long lines of warriors forming up on a rugged green hillside, looking across the valley towards another motley army - all of whom are waiting for the battle cry to ring through their ranks.

"The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One." (Psalm 2:2)

Instead of quivering with fear, God responds to the taunts of the rulers and kings in an interesting way:

"The One enthroned in heaven laughs:
The Lord scoffs at them." (v.4)

So, the next time you feel as if the devil's whole army is against you, remember these verses and chuckle to yourself. May God's laughter, at their puny challenge, make you laugh out loud too!

Lord, teach me to remember your victory. Help me to look beyond the shouts and taunts of the enemy and to see your knowing smile. You smile because you know nothing can stand against You. May I have some of that same assurance today. Bless those who take refuge in your name. Amen.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Trees and Chaff - Lent 1

In Psalm 1 we notice a comparison between God-followers and 'the wicked.' The Psalmist argues that people that choose to follow God "will be like trees planted by streams of water", while those who choose their own path, will end up like "chaff that the wind blows away."

The trees will be rooted, established, fruitful and prosperous.
The chaff will just get blown away to all corners of the earth - never to be seen again.

We are given the choice - do you want to be like the Tree or the Chaff?
I don't see many people thinking that 'chaff' is a cool option, yet by our very decision not to follow the word/law of God, we are choosing chaff.

So, instead of asking whether you are a tree or chaff, why not ask the question:
"Do I delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night?" (v.2) You answer to this question, may just implicate you as a tree or chaff!

Any thoughts?

Living in Grace

The beginning of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, which we know marks the beginning of lent (If you want to read a good post on this topic please read John's thoughts on Ash Wednesday.)

The big question we often ask is what should I give up this year for Lent? It is a fair question as Lent should be a time of reflection, remembrance, sacrifice and giving. However, I also like to challenge myself to 'take up' something - a good habit or discipline or practise. So this year I am committing myself to reflect on the Psalms, starting at Psalm 1. I will try to read and reflect on a Psalm a day, following the days of Lent. That will take me to Psalm 40....So, please keep me accountable and if I haven't written anything reflections for a few days, ask me why not!

What are you thinking about for Lent? Does the sacrifice of Jesus motivate you to go deeper in your faith and challenge your Christian practise? In what ways?

"Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice." - 
Michael Novak

Live in the Grace of Jesus

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Reminder of Hope

In preparing for a memorial service today I came across the familiar words from Psalm 130

"O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord
is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption." - v.7

If you read this again and substitute your name with (Israel), the verse may take on a new meaning for you. Try it.

Be blessed.

Living in grace

Monday 11 February 2013


Information is plentiful in the age of Google. However, information alone does not bring knowledge nor wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience, revelation and by sifting through tons of random information.

I like turning to the Proverbs for wisdom - for me, it is wisdom that has been tested through the fires of experience, heart-ache and life!

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." - Proverbs 29:25

Where do you get your wisdom from?

Living in Grace

Sunday 10 February 2013

Dwell in the life

"Dwell in the LIFE and LOVE and POWER and WISDOM of God,
in unity one with another and with God;
and the peace and wisdom of God fill your hearts, that nothing may rule in you,
but the life, which stands in the Lord God."

These powerful words were written by George Fox many years ago. I encourage you to read them again and to pray though them. May you experience God in the following ways today:
  • Life
  • Love
  • Power
  • Wisdom

Living in Grace

Thursday 7 February 2013

Interesting thoughts - a follow on...

Firstly, let me thank all of you who responded so enthusiastically to my question: "What do our young people need today?" I was overwhelmed by your thoughts. I guess as a middle aged guy now, I needed your insights to help me clarify my own. As Victor Hugo once said:

"Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age. "

So, I guess I am at the old age of youth now...

Anyway, my thoughts on what young people need are similar to many of your comments:

Guidance, Role-models, Listening ear, Genuine relationships, Hope, Stability, Love and Jesus.

In fact, if we give them Jesus Christ, the other things come with the "package!" Christ offers us all these things and more. In the end, this applies to all people too, not just the youth. If we offer people Jesus and not Religion, will give them the greatest gift of all.

Thanks for listening...

Living in Grace

Tuesday 5 February 2013

What do they need?

You have an opinion don't you?
Well good, because I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic.

"What do you think our Youth need nowadays?"

I have my thoughts on this, but before I cloud your ideas, please drop me a line and give me your thoughts, even if it is just in one word. This is such an important topic in our present circumstances as statistics tell us that Youth make up a massive percentage of our population.

"The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all. " - Mark Twain

Here is your chance to say what's on your mind....

Thanking you in advance.

Living in Grace

You can use either of these email addresses: or

Monday 4 February 2013

What's your Creed?

A Creed is simply a statement of faith. The Christian Church has adopted two main creeds over the past 2 millenia - The Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed - and both state what we believe in as Christ followers. Sadly, churches have misplaced our emphasis nowadays and we are more concerned about what our particular tradition or denomination stands for. Our Christian Creed, has been hijacked by denominational doctrine. We should be careful not to get these mixed up, lest we lose our way.

I love this quote, by Charles Spurgeon, who commented on this particular topic:

"I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, "It is Jesus Christ."~ C.H. Spurgeon

Whatever Church you worship at, please don't forget that our Creed should always place priority on Jesus Christ. He is the reason for our existence as a church in the first place.

Living in Grace

Sunday 3 February 2013

Signs of change

If we are true Christ-followers, then we need to be prepared to undergo scrutiny. You may be wondering what on earth I mean by "scrutiny?" Well, I simply mean, we must be prepared for others to look at us and comment, "wow, she has changed" or "See how different that guy is - God has really changed his life!"

So, are we showing these signs of change? Can others look at us and then proclaim, "There is something different about them!"

"If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man's outward actions – if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his "conversion" was largely imaginary." ~ C.S. Lewis

"Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ." - Billy Graham

May the Holy Spirit work in us today in order to bring about some change. It may be small, but I pray that we notice the hand of God shaping our lives.

Living in Grace

Saturday 2 February 2013

Going deeper

Listening to John van de Laar's testimony at our breakfast this morning I was reminded of God's call to take us deeper.

Deeper into our relationship with Jesus.
Deeper into the exploration of our call.
Deeper into community with others.

Deeper. Deeper. Deeper.

Yet, even the invitation to go deeper challenges me to move out of my comfort zone. It unnerves me, because it asks that I let go of "my" need for control.

Ezekiel 47:5 - "He measured off another thousand cubits, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross."

Why not take a step of faith and go deeper with God today?

Living in Grace