Friday 31 October 2014

Pause to think

"Look back and thank God.
Look forward and trust God.
Look around and serve God.
Look within and find God.
God closes doors no person can open and
God opens doors no person can close."

I found this poem amongst all the papers I was tidying up the other day - it made me stop and think for a moment. God has been so good to us - we need to trust more in his goodness.

Deuteronomy 4:29-31
But even there, if you seek God, your God, you’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin, he won’t forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 29 October 2014

When you find a surprise gem

I was doing a little tidying up this evening and I found an old piece of paper in the draw. On it there were some hand written quotes, that I had obviously taken down during a session or conference many years ago. One of these really spoke to me in a loud voice.

"We crucify ourselves between two thieves, just as Jesus did. The regret of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow!" (Fulton Oursler)

Don't let your regrets of yesterday make you reluctant to dream of tomorrow. Remember that God is the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Flag Bearer

It was with sadness that we heard the news of the death of another sports star, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi. He was the first black South African to be ranked number one in the world and he won a silver medal at the Olympic games in Athens 2004. He was also our official flag bearer at that same Olympics. May he rest in peace.

In times of war soldiers took great pride in carrying the flag of their nation. Whenever a flag bearer was shot down, someone else would pick up the flag and carry it further into the battle. So now that a 'flag bearer' of our nation has gone down, we hope and pray that others will step forward and carry the pride of our nation into the future.

Psalm 60: 4 - "Then you planted a flag to rally your people, an unfurled flag to look to for courage. Now do something quickly, answer right now, so the one you love best is saved." (MSG)

The same thing should also apply in our Christian faith. When a flag bearer of faith goes down or passes away, we should be willing to pick up the flag of Jesus and to carry it into the future. There will come a time when we too will pass away, but then we trust that someone else will carry the name of Jesus into the next part of the battle.

2 Corinthians 5:20"We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."

Living in Grace

Monday 27 October 2014

Sitting by the rivers of Babylon

Psalm 137 begins with the following words, made famous by Boney M in 1978:

"By the rivers of Babylon
we sat down and wept
when we remembered Zion."

They were written by a people, living in captivity, longing for the days of old - longing for their home. The Babylonians taunted the Israelites urging them to sing their songs of joy, but the people of Israel couldn't bring themselves to sing.

Sometimes we find ourselves sitting at our own river of Babylon, longing for the former days. Days when things seemed peaceful and in order; days when we had our loved ones with us; days when when had songs to sing.

If you happen to be sitting at your river of Babylon today, crying your tears of pain, please remember that God knows your pain - God has not abandoned you. It is in the midst of trial that God's presence guides us through.

Genesis 35:3 "Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”

Living in Grace

Please say a prayer for our family as we sit by our river of Babylon today - the 28th of October marks 2 years since Kim's brother, Barry tragically died.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Be the One, not the Nine!

Luke tells a story of how 10 lepers approached Jesus begging to be healed. Jesus had mercy on them and they were all healed. We would assume that all of them were over the moon to be 'clean' again and able to return to their families, yet only one of them bother to say 'Thank You' to Jesus. The 9 men were happy to ask for help, but as soon as they were healed, they forgot all about Jesus.

As I reflect on our society I note that we are very quick to ask for things, and even quicker to complain about people, but we are very slow to say Thank You. Can I urge us to take the initiative and to say thanks to people who have blessed us. I also invite us to offer our thanks to God for all that he has done for us.

Be the One - not the Nine!

Living in Grace

Luke 17:11-19 - Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Saturday 25 October 2014

A thousand weary roads

"And for you I'd walk
a thousand weary roads
and step by step
push on in perseverance,
pursuing paths of purpose: in ordinary kindness,
I'd daily find my cross
and bear its load.
For you...

This servant life
this gift of giving,
this halo of help
held out to the hopeless,
this love
my firm
and final act of worship.
For you." - Gerard Kelly

What would you be willing to do for God?
....walk a thousand weary roads?
push on in perseverance?
help the helpless?

Our worship is our response to what God has already done for us. A thousands weary roads is nothing compared to what Jesus did for us?

Living in Grace

Thursday 23 October 2014


"Believe that God loves you as you cannot conceive; that He loves you with your sin, in your sin. It has been said of old that over one repentant sinner there is more joy in heaven than over ten righteous men. Go, and fear not. Be not bitter against men. Be not angry if you are wronged. Forgive the dead man in your heart what wrong he did you. Be reconciled with him in truth. If you are penitent, you love. And if you love you are of God. All things are atoned for, all things are saved by love. If I, a sinner, even as you are, am tender with you and have pity on you, how much more will God. Love is such a priceless treasure that you can redeem the whole world by it, and expiate not only your own sins but the sins of others." - Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazou

I just love Father Zossima's commentary on love in this chapter. He reminds me that God's love is way beyond my expectations and that though we have a basic understanding of love, there is always so much more!

With Jesus there is always so much more!

May Christ's love compel us to love with all that we have. If you are in need of God's great love today, why don't you pause for a minute and invite the Spirit of God to wash over you, to fill you with the riches of his presence.

Nehemiah 1:5 -  "Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments."

Living in Grace

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Some adVICE from me

So, let me tell you this funny story...

On my day off last week, I was doing some woodwork in the garage with Josh. He was helping me potter around and we were having great fun. He asked me to help make something for him and so I needed to drill a hole into a block of wood. I didn't have a vice to hold the wood in place, so I did what any man would do - I improvised. I put the block of wood between my feet and started to drill the hole into the wood. Of course, you can gather what happened next.....

....yes, the drill slipped and I managed to put a hole into the side of my foot. Needless to say there was a lot of blood and I had to rush myself off to the doctor, feeling quite foolish and sore! A few stitches and injections later I returned home and have now vowed to buy a vice!

Here is my reflection on this incident. Sometimes we need someone to hold us tightly and to protect us. A vice does a good job of keeping wood firm and secure, so that you can avoid injuring yourself, while you work on the wood. There are moments in our lives, when we need to rest securely in the loving arms of the Lord, so that he can hold us tightly. His reassuring presence keeps us from all harm and reminds us that he is with us at all times.

Listen to this adVICE....

1 Samuel 25:29 - "Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God."

Zechariah 10:12 - "I will strengthen them in the Lord and in his name they will live securely,” declares the Lord."

Living in Grace

Tuesday 21 October 2014

No Green Arrow = CHAOS!

Our city of Maritzburg is not know for her major traffic jams. Usually if you wait in traffic for 10 minutes that is considered to be a long delay. Coming to work this morning seemed to be quite different. It looked like there was a lot of chaos on the roads and I wondered if there had been an accident or perhaps a problem with a traffic light.

In the end, it was just a minor problem, that ended up causing major chaos. The arrow indicating a "right turn" into Cleland Road wasn't working, which caused a huge backlog of traffic. People began to get frustrated and then I noticed drivers trying to take the law into their own hands. As much as I was irritated sitting in the traffic, I was suddenly struck by this thought:

"We need the green arrow to direct us. When there is no arrow - there is chaos! Surely, God is like that green arrow in many ways. God points us in the right direction. God shows us the way to go, and at the right time and when we obey his direction, there is order in our lives."

Are you perhaps missing the 'green arrow' in your life today? Why not ask the Lord to be the centre of your life again and to guide you into his truth? God is wanting to bring order into our lives, not chaos.

Joshua 3:4 - "Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before."

Proverbs 1:5 - "...let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance."

 Thomas Merton - "I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home."

Living in Grace

Monday 20 October 2014

Just say sorry!

As I have been reflecting on St. Francis' prayer over the last few days, I have come to this line:
"Where there is error, truth."
This prayer challenges us to instruments of truth, but this is a hard task in the midst of world that seeks to hide from the Truth. We don't like to admit that we may be wrong. We find it extremely hard to admit that we have made mistakes.

This leads me to the whole Nkandla issue in South Africa. How hard would it be for the state President, Mr Jacob Zuma, just to say "Sorry!" Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear from his office, how they got it wrong and that they would do all they can to redress the 'error of their ways.' We are not asking our president to be 'perfect', because that would be hypocritical of us, but we are asking that he (and his team) accept responsibly when the truth of their error is exposed!

Before you think that I am taking sides in this heated debate, let me add that my critique goes further than just our president. It goes to all political parties, all in leadership, all officials in governance, and in fact to all pastors and preachers of the Gospel too.

So, this leads me to the hard question for you and I - How quick are you to say that you are sorry? When you have messed up and you have been 'caught out' do you apologise and then try and make amends OR do you try and blame everyone else?

....just asking!?

Ecclesiastes 10:5 - "There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler."

Mark 12:24 -  "Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?"

Living in Grace

Sunday 19 October 2014


Harmony is defined as "agreement in feeling or opinion", but it can also mean "agreement in action."
When St Francis of Assisi prays that 'where there is discord, we should be instruments of harmony' I am not sure he is only thinking about agreement in opinions.

As far as I am concerned, there are many times when people can be struggling with discord, but can come to an agreement in action, not necessarily feeling or opinion. This is seen in the church on a regular basis - people have different opinions (which could be seen as been in conflict), yet in the end they can come to a harmonious decision - an agreement of action. Usually one has to remember the primary purpose of our mission/vision - this helps in bringing some eventual harmony.

Romans 12:16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Are you facing some situations at the moment that threaten to bring conflict or discord in your life? Are you willing to allow God to use you to be an agent of 'harmony' and even unity.

Why not pray a brave prayer today?:
"Lord, make me a instrument of harmony. Let me be the one to help where there is discord."

Living in Grace

Friday 17 October 2014

I beg your pardon...

The saying, "I beg your pardon" has been around for many years, having origins in old French dialects (pardun). It is usually used in the context of offering an apology of sorts - asking for forgiveness. When I ask for your 'pardon' I am asking you to excuse my behaviour and to offer me a second chance.

So, if we reflect on the 3rd line of the prayer of St Francis, we note his words...

"Where there is injury, pardon..."

This implies that where someone has injured us, that we should seek to offer them some form of forgiveness, especially if they are remorseful for their actions. Of course this is hard to do when the person who as aggrieved you doesn't admit their mistake.

It is important to note that God offers us His unconditional pardon, even when we are ones who have caused the injury. Grace is always about God's offer of love to a world who doesn't quite deserve it.

  • Job 7:21 - Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?
Isaiah 55:7Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Micah 7:18 - Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

The next time you catch yourself saying the words, "I beg your pardon", think about the essence of what you are saying.

Living in Grace

Thursday 16 October 2014

Where there is hatred ...

Our world is a tragic place! There is so much violence and hatred, that it is hard to imagine living without all of the pain and suffering we experience. The second line of St Francis' prayer states:

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

If you are asking how/where you can make a difference then just take a look around you and begin there. You won't have far to go in order to find people who are hurting or broken. If we could allow the love of God to fill our hearts, then we could surely make some difference to those in need.

  • Proverbs 10:12 - Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

  • 1 John 3:11-12 - For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

Sow love where you can and allow the Spirit of God to water that love into LIFE. 

Living in Grace

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Make me a channel of your peace

The popular hymn 'Make me a channel of your peace' was written by Sebastian Temple, who adapted the words from the famous prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi. It is interesting that Sebastian actually grew up in Pretoria, South Africa before moving to London. After his conversion he wrote the lyrics to the hymn.

The opening line in the original prayer actually states "make me an instrument of thy peace." This is challenging line to pray, don't you think? When we pray these words we are asking God to use us as His 'channel' or 'instrument' to allow peace to flow to others.

A channel facilitates the flow of water from one place to another. Being a channel of peace means allowing the peace of God to flow from us into others. That is challenging indeed. Sometimes we act more like a barrier to peace than an instrument or channel.

As you reflect on your spiritual health today, are you being a channel for God?

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.
Francis of Assisi
James 3:18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Grace and peace to you

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Bee in your bonnet

The phrase, 'having a bee in your bonnet' has been around for a long time. Some people claim that it originated in Alexander Douglas's Aeneis in 1513 - that is 500 years ago. That is a really long time for a saying/idiom to carry on in circulation.

Anyway, regardless of its origins the idiom speaks of being 'preoccupied or even obsessed by an idea or situation.' If someone speaks continuously on a certain issue or pet topic, then we would suggest that they have a bee in their bonnet. Of course, this can be taken in both a positive or negative light. We can get a 'bee in our bonnet' over things that are not necessarily important or even spiritually significant.

When Saul was persecuting Christians he become obsessed by his desire to get rid of the people who were following this 'new' religion:

"Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities." - Acts 26:11

In the end, the bee in his bonnet became a destructive force and many innocent people were killed by his actions.

I know that I often get a bee in my bonnet over certain things, but I guess I want to caution us from allowing these 'preoccupations' from becoming a destructive force in our lives.

What is the Bee in your bonnet today? Is it being constructive or destructive? What are you going to do about it?

Living in Grace

Monday 13 October 2014

Listen to the Silence

"The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT." - Alfred Brendel

Sometimes we just need to be silent in order to listen to the voice of God. That may mean even stopping our 'shopping list' prayers and simply standing in the presence of Jesus.


Be Still!


Luke 10:39 - "She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said."

Proverbs 18:33 -  "To answer before listening— that is folly and shame."

Have we got into the unhealthy habit of speaking too much? Perhaps it is time to listen to what God is saying to us?

Living in Grace

Sunday 12 October 2014

Creating Memories

Thanks for the emails enquiring where the blogs have been - I have been on leave for a few days, so sorry about the lack of 'Living in Grace' over the past week. Spending time with Kim and the kids is such a special time and I am truly grateful to get to create memories with them all.

After all, 'time' is the only commodity we can never truly pay for - we all get the same number of hours in a day, but we need to choose how to use each hour. If you an opportunity to create a special memory today, then I urge you to do just that! Don't hesitate - just do it.

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love,
the things you are, the things you never want to lose." - Kevin Arnold

"So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart,
I shall say that life is good." - Helen Keller

2 Peter 1:13 -"I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body..."

Living in Grace

Sunday 5 October 2014

True Humility

What is true humility?

There are many definitions and complex answers to this question, but I still think that C.S.Lewis is on to something when he says, 

...“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

The Apostle Paul also has some great things to say on this topic...

Philippians 2:3 - "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves..."

Colossians 3:12 - "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Living in Grace

Saturday 4 October 2014

Put a lid on it!

This morning I went to put some spread on a slice of bread and I nearly dropped the bottle. One of the kids had kindly not put the lid on properly, but after a little juggling I managed to save the spread.

We have all used the saying "put a lid on it" before. It implies that we want someone to stop talking or just to be quiet! It can also mean that we need to suppress some gossip or to clamp down on some unsavoury things that are starting to get out of hand.

I suppose one could also use it in the context of cooking. Putting a lid on a pot can help prevent things from boiling over or hot oil splashing onto your hands. If you use a Weber to braai your meat, then putting the lid on the Weber helps to keep the flames from getting out of hand.

So, are there things in your life that are threatening to get out of hand?
What things are potentially boiling over in your personal life?
Is it time to put a lid on some of these issues and to ask God to calm the situation?

Proverbs 25:28 - Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

2 Peter 1: 5-7 -   For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

Living in Grace

Friday 3 October 2014

When the Love runs out.

There is a popular song at the moment called "When the love runs out!" It is written and produced by One Republic and these are some of the words of the song:

"I'll be your light, your match, your burning sun,
I'll be the bright, in black that's makin' you run.
And we'll feel alright, and we'll feel alright,
'Cause we'll work it out, yeah we'll work it out.

I'll be doin' this, if you had a doubt,
'Til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out."

The first time I heard the song I was fascinated by the phrase "until the love runs out". It was only after I checked the lyrics of the song did I understand the context of these words. The song suggests that one person will do all they can to love their partner - and that they will keep pouring out their love until the love runs out.

I am reminded that even though Jesus loved us until the end of his life, his love has never run out. God's love is unquenchable - it is never ending. God will always keep loving, even when we turn our backs on him.

1 Corinthians 13:8Love never fails.

Psalm 100:5 - For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Keep loving others because God keeps loving you :)

Living in Grace

Thursday 2 October 2014

Who are your Heroes of Faith?

Trying to make a list of the influential heroes of the Christian faith is a tough exercise. If you have never thought about it, who would be in your top 5. Which five people have shaped your Christian faith in such a way that you would refer to them as Heroes of the Faith?

I realise that a lot of the people I look up to are no longer alive. Many of them shaped the History of the Church and were hugely influential in their generations. Take for example, people like Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Anthony the Great, Thomas Aquinas, John Wesley, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, Mother Theresa .... the list goes on.

Someone that I often quote is Thomas a Kempis and so undoubtedly I would call him a "hero of the faith" for me. Another one would be C.S. Lewis and even Charles Spurgeon. Wow, it is hard to narrow them down to just a handful.

The Bible has a great list of some heroes of Faith. You can find it in chapter 11 of Hebrews. Take a read of that list when you get a moment.

Please let me know who you consider to be a hero of the faith. I would love to hear from you.

"This embrace of God sets ablaze a fire within the soul with which the whole soul burns for Christ. It also produces a light so great that the soul understands the fullness of God's goodness, which it experiences in itself, and which is, moreover, much greater than the soul's experience of it. The effect then of this fire within the soul is to render it certain and secure that Christ is within it. And yet, what we have said is nothing in comparison to what this experience really is." - Angela of Foligno

Living in Grace

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Saving Grace

We hear the phrase 'saving grace' often. It is usually mentioned in the context of someone helping us out of a fix ("you are my saving grace") or of a redeeming feature in something or someone. Here is what the Collins dictionary has to say about it:

"A saving grace is a good quality or feature in a person or thing that prevents them from being completely bad or worthless.  ⇒ His sense of humour is his saving grace.

In the Bible, Paul leads us to another definition of 'saving grace.'

Romans 3:23-24
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

Through the gift of Jesus none of us is ever worthless. He becomes our saving grace and offers us the hope we all desperately need.

Arrow Prayer for today:
Thank you Jesus that you are my saving Grace. We would be lost without your mercy, love and forgiveness. Show me how I can be a 'saving grace' to others.

Living in Grace