Monday 30 September 2013

On discipline

"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment." 

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment." 

Both of these quotes come from Jim Rohn and they speak volumes on the topic of discipline. Of course many people shy away from the mere thought of 'discipline' as it conjures up all kinds of negative emotions. 

In truth, the Christian way of life can never be taken seriously, unless we expect to have some form of discipline. Just take a few of our Christian practices or "disciplines" as they are sometimes called - prayer, reading the Bible, worship, giving, serving, fasting - these all involve being disciplined. 

So here is the million dollar question: How disciplined are you?

If you feel that you are lacking in this area, then please resolve to make a change of some sort - that's how all discipline starts - it begins with a conscious decision to change.

Blessings and grace

Sunday 29 September 2013

Take my life

There is a wonderful song/hymn that starts with these words:

"Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee;
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise." - Frances Havergal

These words should be sung as a prayer of surrender and I don't think that they are easy words to express. To make every moment of our lives as an offering to God is really setting the bar high. Sure there are some moments that none of us mind bringing to God, but what about some of the other moments? Mmmmh, there are a few of these that are best left hidden away.

Paul urges us to present ourselves to God as a form of "living sacrifice" - and I like the way Eugene Peterson captures his thoughts:

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him." - Romans 12:1 (MSG)

So how about it? Why not start this today?

Living in grace

Thursday 26 September 2013


A number of candles have been lit this week, especially with Nathan's birthday having just past. I am sure you can all picture your family moments, when the birthday boy/girl gathers around the cake, ready to blow out the candles? But, I wonder if you have ever considered that Proverbs speaks of our 'spirit' as being a candle of God? It is an unusual suggestion, but this is what Solomon wrote:

"The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly." - Proverbs 20:27 (KJV)

This verse implies that God's spirit joins with our 'spirit' and then shines into the depths of our lives. The Holy Spirit shines into every corner of our 'belly' revealing all that is hidden there - thus, we can't hide from God - God knows every part of our lives.

I find that the more we have to hide from God, the less we like to spend time with him. It is almost as if we are afraid that he will shine too much onto our 'dark spots.' In truth, it should be liberating to allow God's spirit to shine into our 'bellies', so that God can heal our deep wounds.

Why not try and spend a few minutes with God today. Give the Holy Spirit freedom to shine his light in your life.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Proactive Grace

The Faith For Daily Living today mentions a interesting concept - it speaks of 'proactive grace.' As I read that phrase I marvelled at the power of those 2 words and I am convinced of their truth.

Grace is never static and it is never weak. It is the love of God that seeks us out - if you like, it is God's grace that invades our space, asking for a response. God is the initiator of all Love and so when his grace collides with my world, I need to be willing to respond in some way. Of course, I can choose to ignore God's initial contact, but God will continue to be proactive, seeking ways to engage with me. God's grace is the highest display of love we will ever encounter and God desires us to wooed by his hand of grace.

Lately, what have we done to receive God's grace?

"God's mercy and grace give me hope - for myself, and for our world." - Billy Graham

May you encounter God's proactive Grace today,

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Heritage Day - Roots and Legacy

Heritage Day is always a special day for our family as its Nathan's birthday. His birth was quite traumatic for all of us, as there were a few complications, but we are so greatful that he is now just a happy-go-lucky kid. We can't believe he is 9 already!

Reflecting on the events of today, I believe that our Heritage is not just about our "roots" - where we come from, but equally about the Legacy we create for those who follow us. It goes without saying, that there would be no remembering our ancestors if we weren't born - heritage needs to be passed onto successive generations, who are willing to keep the "story" alive. So, in a sense we all stand in the middle of something profoundly significant. We get to pause and say thanks for our roots, but we are a vital link in the next part of the story. We get the privilege to decide how we pass on the story to our kids, grand kids and great grandkids.

I find this quite humbling indeed - what are your thoughts?

"I will be their heritage: I am their heritage!" - Ezekiel 44:28

Living in Grace

Saturday 21 September 2013

Digging Deeper

Sometimes we just need to dig deeper.
If you are trying to plant a rose in the garden, you need to dig a little deeper than 6 inches. For the plant to survive and get better soil, you need to dig deeper.
If you want to build a shelter, you need to make sure that the corner poles are dug properly into the ground. Again a shallow hole won't suffice - you have to dig deeper.
If you want to study for a degree, you can't do minimal study and expect to pass - you must dig deeper and put in the long hours.

So, it is with faith. If we want a faith that is worthwhile and deep enough to survive, we need to dig deeper. We can't take "sips" of spirituality and expect to be satisfied. We need to go deeper.

So can I encourage you to dig deeper in whatever way is needed. The deeper you go the more the reward could be. We may just find some hidden treasure deeper in the soil.

Living in grace

Tuesday 17 September 2013

God is here

God is already present in our world, we just need to make the effort to tune into His presence. From Genesis to Revelation, God's spirit has been at work and He will continue to reveal His nature to anyone who pays attention.

I know that our lives are busy, but I challenge you to be more mindful of God today. Look out for the move of His spirit - It may surprise you.

“If you have never known the power of God's love, then maybe it is because you have never asked to know it - I mean really asked, expecting an answer.” - Frederick Buechner

“God, Who is everywhere, never leaves us. Yet He seems sometimes to be present, sometimes to be absent. If we do not know Him well, we do not realize that He may be more present to us when He is absent than when He is present.” - Thomas Merton

Living in Grace

Monday 16 September 2013

True Church - my Hill 2 Hill experience

On Saturday I got to experience what it means to be "True Church" and yes, it didn't even happen anywhere near a Church building. It actually happened while we were busy riding our Hill2Hill bike challenge.

The day began well for all of us and after a smooth registration, most of us headed off in the final batch of the race. Besides a few interesting moments, most of the initial kilometers went by without a hitch, but that's when things began to change for me.

It could have been the side-effects of the flu, but my body started to really struggle around the 15 km mark. Initially, it was just a little cramp, but then the rest of my body started to say, "Howzit!" With the help of my team mates I managed to get through another 15km's, but by the time I reached 30km, I knew it was unwise to carry on - every muscle in my legs decided to cramp at the same time. So, very reluctantly I swallowed my pride (hard for a man to do) and caught a lift to the finish with my friend Pete. He was very understanding and encouraging - I felt cared for.

My greatest memory will be how brilliant my team mates were on the race. They knew I was in serious pain and they encouraged me every 'pedal' of the way. They offered to walk/ride with me - they helped me with medicine, liquids and many kind words - we even had a few laughs together.

It reminded my of what our church communities must be like - helping each other to get to the finish line. The journey is tough and filled with many challenges, but we can get so much further when we help each other. That's why God created us to be in community.

So, in the end, I didn't make it .... but it wasn't for a lack of care and encouragement. However, I will get back on the bike and ride again. So, thanks again to all my TEAM MATES and to all of you for the prayers. We have surpassed our fundraising goal for the Eden Kids project and that has made it all worthwhile.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 - "So encourage each other to build each other up..."

"The Church is not a gallery for the better exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones." - HENRY WARD BEECHER

Living in Grace

Friday 13 September 2013

New Challenges

As a few of us prepare to ride in the Hill2Hill adventure race tomorrow, I have spent a few minutes reflecting on how this new challenge has inspired me. I have never done something like this before, so the event is going to be completely new for me - and I am so excited. To be honest I am also a little apprehensive - so it is safe to say, I am nervously excited!

I can't help but link this to my faith. Often I am comfortable doing the same things, week in and week out. There is nothing wrong with this routine, but is our faith meant to be "safe?" I don't think so. I believe that following Jesus always involves risk and when we step out in faith, we sense a "nervous excitement." Dare I say, our faith may even come alive again.

So what areas of your faith have become too comfortable? What is God calling you to do differently? Are you willing to take up a new "faith challenge" and see where God takes you?
It could just be life changing for you.

Be blessed.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Peace on 9/11

On the anniversary of 9/11, it is appropriate to speak about our desire for peace. Sadly, it seems that despite good intentions, peace still eludes the world and if anything, we may be living in times of greater pain and chaos. Why is this so? Surely, when we see all the heartache in our communities if should inspire us to push for greater peace? One would think so. Yet, I think we are still looking for ‘peace’ in the wrong places. 

Peace will continue to elude us if we look for it in human ideals and programmes design by men and women. Peace is a gift from God and when we embrace that ‘Peace’ then we can begin to share that with others. Listen to what Jesus said about Peace:

  • John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
  •  John 16:33 - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Peace is not something I have ownership of; therefore I can’t give it to you. But, when I receive it from God, then I can celebrate the same peace that is available to all humanity. When you and I both find peace in our Creator, then we can find peace in one another.

Make any sense? Worth thinking about…

·     “Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding” - Albert Einstein

·     “If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies” - Archbishop Tutu

Living in Grace

Favourite Psalm

Most Christians have a favourite Psalm. Come to think of it, many non-church goers also have a favourite Psalm - usually it's Psalm 23, but we can all relate to it's words - their power goes beyond the walls of the Church.

I am no different - I also have a few favourites. In no particular order, here are a few of them:

Psalm 46
Psalm 91
Psalm 8
Psalm 139
Psalm 40
Psalm 103

I will be sharing from Psalm 121 tomorrow at a memorial service - it speaks volumes into our grief and struggles. Here is a version of it from the Living Bible - I love it!

Shall I look to the mountain gods for help? No! My help is from Jehovah who made the mountains! And the heavens too! 3-4 He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping. Jehovah himself is caring for you! He is your defender.He protects you day and night. He keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. He keeps his eye upon you as you come and go and always guards you.

Be blessed and PLEASE send me a message telling me your favourite Psalm.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Spring surprises

The season of Spring never ceases to amaze me. I think what is the biggest wonder of it all (for me), is how trees, shrubs, vines and plants, that all looked dead, suddenly show signs of life. I know that this has been going on for millennia, but I am still surprised by it all.

It teaches me never to judge a person by what I see - they may look spent and finished, but there could be some brilliance lying deep inside. Even more so, Spring teaches me that God is never done! When life looks like it has sucked the life out of me (or you), it could just be time to rest and allow God's spirit to work deep inside of me. When the 'season' is ready, that's when God will allow the signs of new life to appear.

So, here is my encouragement for you today. Don't give up on God. Don't give up on yourself and please don't give up on people that seem to be finished. Imagine if God had given up on us, when we were finished or nearly done? Thankfully, God created Spring - it is God's way of saying: "I believe in second chances and new life!"

"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming." - Pablo Neruda

Living in Grace

Monday 9 September 2013

The significance of today

Almost everyday on our calendar has some good event or cause attached to it nowadays. For example, September has had some key days already - Arbor Day (1st), Secretaries Day (4th), Casual Day (6th). Not to mention that the 12th September is 'Chocolate Milkshake Day' (I kid you not) and of course my favourite, 'National Braai Day' on the 24th of September.

So, what is the significance of today for you? Will it just be another day with no agenda, or will we allow God to lead and guide us. Will we work to further His kingdom and to just try and survive another 24 hours? God has given us all this gift, let us try and honour him by using it for his glory.

Hebrews 3:13 - "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."

Living in Grace

Thursday 5 September 2013

Drinking, Eating, Talking

It's funny how certain things stick in your mind from school days. I remember reading John Steinbeck's classic, "Of Mice and Men", as if it were yesterday. I don't remember all of what we discussed in class, but certainly any time I heard his name, I think of that book. 

So, it was with wonderful memories that I reflect on another piece of writing by Steinbeck. This time it is the following quote:

"Of all the animals in God's creation, man is the only one who drinks without being thirsty, eats without being hungry and talks without having something to say."

How true is this sentiment? 
As a human race we are greedy and selfish - even as I read his thoughts I have to confess that I am guilty on all three points:
  • yes, I have eaten just for the sake of eating (chocolate is great comfort food) 
  • yes, I have had extra glass of coke, just because it was there
  • yes, I have tried to hold conversations with people, just because I couldn't bear the silence
I am deeply challenged by this quote on many levels. Certainly, as a Christian I could "do better" in every one of these departments. In the next few days, I will seek to:

- eat and drink appropiately
- speak when necessary

How about you?

Living in Grace

Wednesday 4 September 2013


There is a lot of talk about the decline of Christianity in Europe and especially in Britain. However, there was a time when Britain wasn't Christian at all. I have been sharing with my Church History class about how Britain first heard of Jesus Christ and how the people responded to the Gospel.

One such account tell of how, in 563 AD a man named Columba travelled from Ireland, hoping to reach Scotland. He and his followers landed at a place called Iona and established a 'mission station' there. It was from Iona that the rest of North Britain heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

During his life, Columba learnt to rely on the love and mercy of God. He wrote this powerful prayer to remind himself of God's protection and faithfulness. 

Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when thou art near O king of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand
Than if a host did round me stand.
(Columba, c.521 - 97)

We are safe in the hands of the Almighty God. This is a truth that Christians have experienced for centuries - believe it for yourself today!

Living in Grace

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Sound advice

We seldom get sound advice nowadays. It is hard for people to be objective when they hear of our situations and many people are quick to sprout forth some opinion. But is it always good advice? Sadly, not always.

In a difficult time in Israel's history, David wrote these words:

"Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always." - 1 Chronicles 16:11

I think this is solid advice. We must 'look' to the Lord in our times of difficulty and as we seek his face, He will give us the strength we need.

Look, Seek, Find his strength.

Be blessed today.

Living in Grace

Monday 2 September 2013

A New Old Prayer

In the first century Clement wrote the following prayer. In the second version of it, I have tried to modernise his words.

We beseech thee, Master, to be our helper and protector.
Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly;
raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly;
restore the wanderers of thy people;
feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners;
raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted
- (Clement of Rome, 1st Century)
"We ask you Lord, to help and protect us.
Rescue those of us who feel trapped by circumstances 
and have mercy on those who have no 'worldly status.'
Lift up those who have fallen;
Help the needy;
Heal even those people who deny you;
Bring home the prodigals;
Feed those who are hungry;
Pay 'bail' for those who are prisoners to sin;
May the sick experience better health;
Comfort those who feel anxious and afraid. Amen."
If this prayer is helpful for you, then please pray it and perhaps pass it onto someone in need.
May the God of peace be with you today.
Living in Grace