Monday 29 April 2013

Devote yourself...

Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God - 1 Chronicles 22:19

We devote a lot of ourselves to many things:

Being good parents
And so on...

The challenge is always to 'devote' ourselves fully to God. Of course, this is not to the exclusion of the others, but rather putting God first in our lives. I think that the more I devote myself to God then the more I will want the 'other things' to reflect God's character. Wouldn't it be great to have evidence of God in my career, relationships, parenthood, hobbies, sport, music etc?

So here is a similar exercise: make a mental list of all the things that occupy your time. How much of God is reflected in what you do?

.....Just asking!

Living in Grace

Sunday 28 April 2013

Who owns who?

Do you "possess" it or does it possess you?
By the way, I am talking about you have money or does money have a handle on you?

We are in the middle of sharing a teaching on money and boy is it challenging. The thing about money is that we can use it to bless so many people, but it also has such a tendency to consume us and pull us away from God.

In the church, we often fall into the trap of 'guilting' people to part with money, but the Bible has so much more to say about our finances than this. Jesus knew that his disciples (and us) would find themselves living in a world of differing values and that many people would be tempted to believe that "it's money that makes the world go round!"

Money has a 'dark' side, as well as a 'light' side - it can consume us or we can use it to provide for our families and to bless many other people. We just need to understand Jesus' correct teaching on money!

  • “We need instruction on how to possess money without being possessed by money!” – Richard Foster

 Jesus said it like this:

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:21

May we foster a spirit of thankfulness for what we have and then also choose to bless others.

Living in Grace

Friday 26 April 2013

Look out for the Cypress!

I love the fact that the Bible is filled with many great promises. Every page has at least one promise for us to hold unto. The writers of the Scriptures understood life and were always keen to show us how God brings newness and hope into the despair of life. Take Isaiah for example, see what he says in this verse,

"Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord ’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” (Isaiah 55:13 NLT)

Our lives may seem to be over-run with weeds and thorns at the moment, but awesome Cypress trees will soon be seen in place of these thorns. Hang in there, let your roots grow deep, water your faith and see how God will make the trees grow tall.

Look out for the Cypress trees!

Living in Grace

Thursday 25 April 2013


Ever felt like you were standing on one side of a tennis court practising your shots with a 'ball machine', when all of a sudden the balls come faster and faster? It is like there is a malfunction in the machine and soon you are bombarded by the balls!

Well, if you can relate to this, can I ask what you do when this happens? Logic tells us that if you carrying on standing in the same spot you are going to get hurt, but often that is just what we do - we try and hit the balls away, but eventually it is too much.

I guess the answer lies in moving aside (out of the firing line) and somehow turning the machine off.
The machine of life won't stop, but we can move to the side for a while to get some respite and rest. Are you able to do this? I know that I need to do this from time to time - it is healthy for us to get out of the firing line and to allow God to refresh us.

Contrast these two verses:

Job 3:26 - "I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Isaiah 32:17 - The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
Which verse speaks about you today?
Living in Grace

Tuesday 23 April 2013


Do not be mistaken - I am not a massive Justin Timberlake fan, but his new song 'Mirrors' has some interesting words:

"You were right here all along
It's like you're my mirror
My mirror staring back at me"

Of course the Bible speaks about mirrors in a number of places too:

Proverbs 27:19 - "Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart."

It is often true that people can use our faces to look into our souls - it is as if our faces act like a mirror reflecting what is happening deep within.

James adds something more challenging to this conversation. He points out that God's word is simple enough for us to hear it and then obey it. However, if we only listen to the teaching of Jesus and then we don't live it out, then we are like vain people who look at themselves in the mirror without remembering what we look like!
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." - James 1:22-24
If you take a look into a mirror sometime today (and the chances are good), then ask yourself, what the mirror is revealing about your heart and soul?
Living in Grace

Monday 22 April 2013

A Prayer for you

Dear Lord,

Today lies before me like a blank page -
There are many things that could be written down and I could pretend that 'today' has been significant. But, there are really only a few things that I should be striving for - things that could make a difference.

Please let me seek to love more, to speak less,
To help others, to pray for someone else's trials,
To give more, to hide less,
To be moved by compassion, to listen with care,
To trust in your plan, to surrender my way.

This is my prayer for today.
May your name be glorified through my life.

Living in Grace

Sunday 21 April 2013

Don't despair

In a world where evil seems to prosper and godliness seems to be squashed and scoffed at, we need not despair. The Bible has kept track of situations like this, for generations and generations. In the end, the wisdom of Solomon reminds us:

"There is no wisdom,
no insight,
no plan,
that can succeed against the Lord." - Proverbs 21:30

If we live our lives according to the commands and guidelines of God, then we will ultimately be on the winning team. Don't despair when evil seems to prosper - it won't last forever.

Be blessed today.

Living in Grace

Friday 19 April 2013

A different view

The recent rain is most welcome and may well be the last rains until Spring. However, the onset of misty and cold weather often puts us in a different mood. It can make some people energized, while others become depressed.

What the rain certainly does is change the view from my balcony. The clouds and mist roll in and soon I can't see beyond a few meters. However, I know that the view is usually awesome and I can see the hills in the distance. If all I saw on a daily basis was the rain and mist I would miss the glorious scenes I see on other days. If all I perceived from day to day was negative, then I would miss the beauty of good things.

I must remind myself that when the rain fades away, I will see the true beauty again.
Even though you may be faced with the bleakness of "bad weather" and difficult situations remember that God will make the sun shine again.

Take a different view. It may keep you sane.

Living in Grace

Thursday 18 April 2013

Raise the Sails

God is always at work. God wants to take us on an awesome adventure of faith and we need to be open to where he may want to lead us. The work of the Holy Spirit is always to fill us with the power of God, in order to share God's love with others.

Are we ready to open our lives to His prompting and His leading? I love this quote from St. Augustine:

"God provides the wind, we must raise the sails."

Let's Raise the Sails...
The wind is blowing and the adventure is about to begin.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Don't get numb!

The bombings in Boston have struck a chord deep within us - it seems barbaric, senseless, cowardly and just simply evil! It has to be the work of a mad-man. What sane person plants a bomb in the middle of a crowd of innocent people? It is wrong on a million levels.

However, this tragedy has just highlighted for me, how numb I have become to the pain in our world. Sure, the loss of 3 lives and 140 wounded is deeply saddening, but why do we not get so upset about the scores of people killed in a suicide bombing yesterday (in Pakistan) or the fact that 5 kids a day die from abuse (in the USA alone)? What about the fact that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa? The list goes on and on...

There is a warning for all of us in this: Don't become numb!
All loss is painful.
All murder is wrong.
All abuse is evil.

"If people can't deal with their problems, they numb themselves a little bit." - Kevin Nealon

"There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move
But I can't hear what you're saying."- Pink Floyd

Pray hard today friends. Pray for God's light to shine in the darkness. Pray that God would use you to be a symbol of peace in this troubled world.

Living in Grace

Monday 15 April 2013

St Augustine

I had the joy of sharing about the life of Aurelius Augustine with my Church History students today. For those of you who have heard of St. Augustine, it's the same guy. There are many remarkable things about Augustine and he argubly shaped the direction of Christian thought for hundreds of years.

His wisdom crops up even today, although mainly in sermons, academic papers and other church related correspondence. Here is a glimpse at some of his work:

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

 “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

 “You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones.”

 “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.”
His life was extraordinary because he allowed God to change him completely - from the inside out! We may not ever be an "Augustine" but we can be the best person God has created us to be. Why not begin today?

Living in Grace

Sunday 14 April 2013


Life is filled with obstacles. Even the week that lies ahead of us will present a fair share of obstacles - the challenge will be how we deal with these. Will we trust God to help us overcome them or will we rely on our own efforts and strength?
  • Isaiah 57:14 - And it will be said: ‘Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.’
 "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome." - Booker T. Washington

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." - Michael Jordan

May God guide you and help you to overcome your obstacles this week.

Living in Grace

Saturday 13 April 2013

There is always Hope

As we gather for worship this Sunday, we should  remember - with Jesus there is always HOPE! No matter the circumstances, Jesus offers us new perspective and Hope.

“Once you choose hope, anything's possible.”  ~ Christopher Reeve
"    “Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.”  ~Vincent McNabb

     Never lose hope.

     Living in Grace

Thursday 11 April 2013

Let your prayers rise

Although God is not 'living' exclusively above us, we often imagine God to be 'up' in Heaven and we live here below. So when we pray it is like our prayers rise up to God's ear and then he acts on our prayers. This even has a little to do with why some communities burn incense in their worship services - as a reminder that we lift our prayers to God. The scriptures even speak of this too:

Psalm 141:2 - May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

But perhaps one of the best illustrations of our prayers rising to God's attention, comes from the prayer of Jonah. At a time when things were difficult for him - from inside the whale - he prayed these words:

"When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple." - Jonah 2:7

Whatever you are dealing with today and whatever lies before you, may you remember God and may you let your prayers rise to Him. God is interested in your prayers and your life.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Seven modern Sins

Frederic Donaldson wrote an interesting piece on what he terms the "Seven Modern Sins." I think he is spot on and we would do well to be mindful of these sins. Let me know your thoughts on his list.

Politics without principles
Pleasures without conscience
Wealth without work
Knowledge without character
Industry without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice.

It is interesting that 'suffering' is not spoken of much in Christian circles these days - it is almost as if suffering is an admission of Christian failure. However, Jesus speaks so much of the 'cost' of following him - implying suffering. 'Worship without sacrifice' is a dangerous place to be in.

Luke 9:23-25 - "Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?" 

Living in Grace

Monday 8 April 2013

Jesus and Swedish House Mafia

Sometimes I listen to a song and form an immediate opinion of it, before I know the original context. When Swedish House Mafia released their hit single 'Don't you worry child', last September, I thought it was an interesting song. What I liked about the song, besides the catchy beat, was the chorus:

"Don't you worry, don't you worry, child.
See heaven's got a plan for you.
Don't you worry, don't you worry now."

I instantly made the connection to the words of Jesus in Matthew 6. In a time where his disciples were worrying about material things, Jesus called for them not to worry, and rather to trust in him. Perhaps these are wise words for some of us today. Have we got caught up in 'worrying' too much, when Jesus promised that he would take care of his children.

Matthew 6:25-27 - "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

Next time you listen to a song, listen to see if there is a message in it for you.

Living in Grace

Sunday 7 April 2013

St John of the cross

As you may know by now, I love quotes. Not only do I find them instructive, I also find them life-giving. As you begin another week, may you reflect on a few of these moving thoughts, written by St John of the Cross.

  • He who interrupts the course of his spiritual exercises and prayer is like a man who allows a bird to escape from his hand; he can hardly catch it again.

  •  If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
  •   In tribulation immediately draw near to God with confidence, and you will receive strength, enlightenment, and instruction.
  •  Abide in peace, banish cares, take no account of all that happens, and you will serve God according to his good pleasure and rest in him.

May the peace of Christ abide with you today.

Living in Grace