Friday 27 February 2015

Lent #6 - Learning from the small things

Our world loves to look up to the famous and beautiful for inspiration. We long to be well known or noticed by those around us. But how many of us look at the small things in our lives for wisdom. Like for example the children in our communities, or the tiny birds or even the humble ant? Solomon had learnt that wisdom doesn't always come from the glamorous and wealthy.

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise! For though they have no king to make them work, yet they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you—all you do is sleep. When will you wake up? - Proverbs 6:6-9 (Living Bible)

Here is another verse to reflect on and to offer as a prayer:
"For he does wonderful miracles, marvels without number. He sends the rain upon the earth to water the fields, and gives prosperity to the poor and humble, and takes sufferers to safety." - Job 5:9-10

Socrates once said, "Wisdom begins in wonder." As you look around you today, may you be in AWE of all things, big and small.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Learning to Surf - Lent #6

Over the last two years the boys have really enjoyed their surfing. They have learnt remarkably quickly for kids who only get to the beach every now and then. One day when I was watching them stand up on their boards I thought to myself, "That looks ok - I am sure that I can do it!"

Well, needless to say, I wasn't that great at it the first couple of tries. I can honestly say that I managed to surf for 2 seconds and then I had a spectacular wipe out. In my defence, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks!

I am convinced that kids learn things much easier than adults - this applies to all kinds of things - learning to swim, ride a bike, a new language, and of course surfing!So then the same applies to spiritual matters. The younger we can teach kids the ways of God and the scriptures the better. We should pass on the wisdom of God and the grace of Jesus to our kids while they are still willing to receive it.

For this reason, I love the following words of Solomon. He speaks so much sense:

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
    pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
    so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
    and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life. - Proverbs 4:1-13

God bless you,
Living in Grace

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Lent #5 - Knowing when to speak and when to shut up!

One notices that after Job had lost everything, his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar went to comfort him. However, when they saw Job they hardly recognised him because of the stress and grief he had been through. In their wisdom they chose to sit on the floor with him and not to utter a single word. This they did for 7 days!

So, for one week they sat in the room with Job showing their solidarity with him and they never even tried to say anything. This is remarkable. There must have been some thoughts going through their minds, but the chose to keep quiet.

"No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." - Job 2:13

Of course this didn't last into the second week, because they were soon sprouting forth their thoughts to him, but at least they didn't bombard him from the beginning. How often do we just need someone to sit with us, not to offer advice, but rather just to 'minister' to us through their presence?

James 1:19 - "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..."

Living in Grace

Monday 23 February 2015

Keeping an eye on things - Lent #4

To 'keep an eye' on something means to pay attention to it or to never let it out of your sight. If you say to someone, "Please keep and eye out for the time", we are asking them to help us be conscious of the time - this gives us the excuse to keep checking our watches.

In Proverbs 3, Solomon urges us to keep an eye out for wisdom. He says,

"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgement and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
    or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
    and will keep your foot from being snared."

He rightly believes that when we keep our eyes on wisdom (the ways of the Lord) then our lives will be better off. We can rest secure knowing that the Lord is by our side and that WE ARE NEVER OUT OF GOD'S SIGHT!

We admire Job for his resilience, but even he had moments of struggle - moments were he lost sight of God's hand on his life. When he was consumed by his grief, he lamented...

24"For sighing has become my daily food;
    my groans pour out like water.
25 What I feared has come upon me;
    what I dreaded has happened to me.
26 I have no peace, no quietness;
    I have no rest, but only turmoil.’ - Job 3

As you face the trials and obstacles of another week, may you be reminded that God is in control and that He has not let you out of His sight.

Living in Grace

Sunday 22 February 2015

A 2nd test - Lent #3

Job's second test came from an unlikely source... his wife. She had seen all the destruction that had come upon her family and so she urged Job to turn his back on God.

"His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’" - Job 2:9

However, she was not just asking him to turn away from God, but also to give up his integrity. Out of anyone, Job had the best reasons to turn away from the Lord, but he knew that he couldn't. In fact, he was even able to reason with his wife.

"He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’" - v.10

He makes a powerful point. Why is it that we are always happy to accept "blessings" and good things as if they have come from God, but as soon as we face trouble, we are tempted to turn our backs on God. And so, despite his heartache and pain, Job was still able to believe in the grace and goodness of God. He was a wise man.

Is it possible that there is some connection between Job's experience and that of Solomon in Proverbs 2: 16-19:

16Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
    and ignored the covenant she made before God.
18 Surely her house leads down to death
    and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
    or attain the paths of life.

Wisdom means trusting in God despite the circumstances around us and even when popular opinion suggests otherwise.

Living in Grace

Friday 20 February 2015

Lent #2 - Job and Proverbs

Over the course of the next 6 weeks I have committed to read and reflect on both the books of Job and Proverbs (with the Gospel of Matthew). As one digs deeper into the Scriptures there are so many things that stand out in these pages. In fact, it is not only that these messages stand out, but that they are also so practical for our lives today.

Take the opening lines of Job 1:
"There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil."

Imagine coming across a man of 'complete integrity' in a land of evil people. Job was a man who stood out from his peers, because he chose to avoid evil. This may seem like an easy thing to do, but we all know that temptation comes from all corners of the world.

Even when he was dealt the severe blow of losing his family, livestock and material possessions, Job still remained faithful to God. He is a remarkable human being.

Perhaps Solomon was writing of people like Job when he wrote these words in Proverbs 2:

 "For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
    He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
    and protects those who are faithful to him."

May the Lord enable us to walk with integrity today and to avoid temptation when it comes our way.

"Wisdom is knowing the right path to take. Integrity is taking it." - Unknown

Living in Grace

Job's prayer:

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
    and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
    and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

Thursday 19 February 2015

Lent #1 - Proverbs

It is important to remember that when we read the Bible that it was written in a particular context. When Solomon wrote his Proverbs he knew nothing of what the world would look like in 2015, and neither could he have understood the complexities of modern politics, economics, spirituality and education.

However, what Solomon knew plenty about was 'humanity!' He knew the frailty of his own life, as well as the sinfulness of his people. In truth, people have not really changed much. We are still filled with love, greed, pride, compassion, anger, selfishness, care, anxiety, stress, ambition and so many other emotions and character traits.

So, when he writes Proverbs , he reflects on how it would be good for us to listen to Godly advice and to gain wisdom for living holy lives. Yet, people still chose to go their own way and to turn their backs on God. To these people he wrote:

"They rejected my advice
    and paid no attention when I corrected them.

Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,
    choking on their own schemes. 

 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.
    Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. 

 But all who listen to me will live in peace,
    untroubled by fear of harm.” - Proverbs 1:30-33

As I journey through LENT this year I hope to reflect on some of the wise words of Solomon and to ask myself what challenges he gives to me. I learnt from this first proverb that:

1. It is good to listen to godly advice.
2. Those who choose their own schemes will choke on the "bitter fruit" of those lies.
3. Complacency can be destructive.
4. If we listen to God we will find peace.

Be blessed today.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 18 February 2015

He who pays the piper....

The old idiom states, "He who pays the piper, calls the tune."

It seems to originate from old English days when the Lord of Castle would pay for a piper to come and play for the court and the people. Obviously if he was paying the cost of the piper, then the lord would have the authority to call out which tunes he wanted played.

A modern variety of this idiom could be, "He would pays the salary, demands the work" Or "She would owns the house, chooses the curtains."

In the context of what is happening in our country at the moment, I wonder just who is calling the tune? We have some idea as to who is paying the piper, but it seems as if there are too many voices calling the tunes.

But, before we become complacent ourselves, we also need to evaluate who we are 'paying' the most homage to. If we are paying the most to our work, careers, relationships, finances, material possession etc, then they will be the ones who call the tune. Life is just like that!

Jesus said it a little differently, but it applies to us nonetheless.

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)

As we move into the period of LENT I invite us all to re-evaluate the spiritual priorities in our lives.

Who or what are we putting first?

Living in Grace

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Be inspired with courage

The word encouragement simply means, "to inspire with courage/hope." When we take the time to inspire others we give them courage and hope. I know from personal experience that words of encouragement can be life-changing. It is often such a simple thing to do, but we easily get side-tracked and forget to do this.

"When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life. Encouragement really does make a difference." -
Zig Ziglar

"A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach her potential." - John C. Maxwell

If you have an opportunity to inspire hope & courage in another person today, please do it.

Philemon 1:7 - Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Living in Grace

Monday 16 February 2015

Where is God in all this?

"God himself is living in that city; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay his help." - Psalm 46:5 (Living Bible)

It is tempting to think that God has left our city, country and world. There are so many things that are going wrong and we are left wondering "where is God in all this?" In an age where similar things were happening in Israel, David writes that God is still present in the midst of our troubles. Despite the turmoil everywhere God is with us.

"God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.    From the very break of day, God will protect it." - Psalm 46:5 (NLT)

"God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty." - Peter Marshall

Living in Grace

Sunday 15 February 2015

We all can do this...

“One of the highest human duties is the duty of encouragement.” - William Barclay

We all need to be encouraged at some stage in our lives. When things are looking bleak there is nothing like a kind word to give us a little push in the right direction. The beauty of encouragement is that we don't have to be qualified to encourage another person - we just have to be willing to do something.

Think about a time in your life when someone has encouraged you - how did that make you feel? Is it possible that someone in your life needs a word of hope from you today. Offering encouragement could be the greatest gift you could pass onto them right now. It will cost you nothing, but it could mean the world to them!

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

·     Hebrews 3:13 “Encourage one another daily…”

      Here is a word from St. Paul that I offer you as a word of hope: 

2Thessalonians 2:16 - "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Living in Grace

Friday 13 February 2015

A Juggling act

Life is sometimes far too busy! It is like a juggling act. You have 9 or 10 things going on at the same time and you wonder if you are actually going to be able to keep them "up in the air" (apparently the maximum number of balls that a person can juggle is 12).

In truth, we can't juggle them all! Sure, we can juggle a few things, but as soon as we pass a critical number of balls in the air, it is only a matter of time before we drop one of them.

I am finding this to be true in my life at the moment. It is hard to say 'No!' It is hard to maintain the juggling act, when other things keep getting added to the routine. I guess, that in the end, we have to the ones to make the call - we have to say 'STOP!'

So, what are you juggling at the moment? Do you have too many balls in the air at the moment? Which one is going to get dropped and is that going to be costly?

“The trick to juggling is determining which balls are made of rubber and which ones are made of glass.” - Anon

Luke 7:31 - “How can I account for the people of this generation? They’re like spoiled children complaining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk but you were always too busy.’

Living in Grace

Thursday 12 February 2015

What makes your blood boil?

So, what makes your blood boil? What makes you so angry that you could do something drastic?

This morning I was driving the kids to school and we always have to turn across a busy intersection. Everyday we see cars jump the red traffic light and today was no different - in fact, in the space of a few minutes we saw 2 cars do it and both times nearly caused an accident (the second time, it was our family who were nearly wiped out by a dangerous driver). This makes my BLOOD BOIL! There is no law and order any more and sadly some innocent people will die at that intersection soon.

So, what makes your blood boil?

The fact that 4 Rhinos are killed every day in South Africa.
That our National leaders are spending 4.5 Million on their SONA after party?
That 21 000 people die from hunger-related causes daily, most of them are children?
That fundamentalists kill thousands of innocent civilians in the name of "religion?"?
That Eskom CEO's will still get massive bonuses despite being totally "shocking" at their jobs?
That food prices continue to rise, despite the fuel price decreases?
That women and children continue to be abused, raped and violated in our country?
That around 85% of our population follow some kind of faith and yet we have such a high rate of crime and corruption in our country?

Your turn ___________________________________________!

The bible tells us that there were a few things that made Jesus' blood boil too. The incident in the temple is a prime example. When Jesus was angry with something, it was always about an injustice that was taking place - and he was willing to correct this.

"So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables." - John 2:15

As you reflect on this today, may the Spirit of God prompt us to do something constructive with our discontent. Perhaps we are the ones who can start making a difference?!

Living in Grace

Tuesday 10 February 2015

May the beauty of the Lord rest upon you

If you want to encourage and bless someone today, why don't you forward them this awesome verse from Psalm 90:17. I am attaching it in this post, from a few different versions. May it be a blessing to you and others today.

"May the favour (beauty) of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands." - (NIV)

"And may the Lord our God show us his approval
and make our efforts successful.
Yes, make our efforts successful!" (NLT)

"Lord our God, treat us well.
    Give us success in what we do;
    yes, give us success in what we do." - (NJKV)

That is my prayer for you today. Go with God.

Living in Grace

Monday 9 February 2015

Are we responding?

How often does it happen to you? You are busy speaking to someone and there is no response! They either haven't heard your voice or they are just choosing to ignore you. I admit that I have been guilty of this a few times - sometimes one just slips into your own world and you 'block' out all other things.

But, when we choose not to respond to the overtures of our Loving God, then we 'block' out God's voice at our own peril. The voice of God is not always wanting to chastise us, but more likely to direct, encourage, care, support, and inspire us. Is is important to remember that God loved us first - we then need to to choose to respond to this LOVE or not!

"Are we responding to the love of Jesus living within us concretely and consistently in our love for one another." - Brennan Manning

Acts 16:14 - "One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message."

God's love for me requires a response from me. I can either choose to ignore that gift or respond to it by loving back!

What are you going to do?

Living in Grace

Sunday 8 February 2015

Psalm 63

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. (‭Psalm‬ ‭63‬:‭1-8‬ NIV)

Be blessed by these words from the Psalmist
Living in grace

Friday 6 February 2015

The furious longing for God

I am so enjoying reading Brennan Manning's book "The Furious longing for God." He makes some wonderful points and the depth of his insight is truly remarkable. There was one quote in particular that I feel is worth while sharing with you today. May it bless you as much as it blessed me.

"The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, and who you hang with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you, and what makes your heart happy." - page 75

Living in grace

Thursday 5 February 2015

The storm will pass

We were driving through a thunderstorm this afternoon and the boys were asking a whole of questions about the rain, thunder, lighting and so on. Perhaps in there minds they were worried that it may last for a long time. So I turned to them and said, "The storm will pass guys!" And within an hour the storm had subsided and peace returned to the atmosphere.

The storms that we are facing will also pass, friends. It may seem as if you are in the middle of the worst storm ever, but remember that it won't last forever. It will pass. I recognise that sometimes natural storms cause damage to property, trees and even people - I guess, spiritual/emotional storms also cause much damage. However, we should be reminded that Christ is the ultimate healer and so if we find that a storm as caused us some harm, lets turn to Jesus to offer us hope and healing.

"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” ... - Matthew 8:23

It often intrigues me that Jesus was sleeping in the midst of the storm. The disciples were panicking and yet Jesus slept through it all. Why was this? Was he testing them? Was he really asleep? Is it perhaps that he just knew that the Storm would pass and that his Father was in charge?

What do you think?

Prayer for today: Lord, it is hard to hold onto you in the midst of the storms of life. Sometimes we are afraid that you are really sleeping and that you can't hear our cries. Please give us your strength as we face the wrath of each storm. Teach us to trust that you will deliver us from our time of need and that in the every storm will pass.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Truth will conquer

It is hard to know who to believe anymore. We read of comments made by political and community leaders but there are always some doubts as to the 'truth' in their speeches. The truth seems to be distorted and in the public arena we are left trying to discern the "real" story. I love these words of John Wycliffe:

"I believe that in the end truth will conquer."

I also believe that!
I know that I struggle to understanding the timing of this process but I still believe that the Truth will come out victorious.

How do you feel?

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” - Warren W. Wiersbe

1 Corinthians 14:3 (MSG) - "But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you."

Living in Grace

Tuesday 3 February 2015

It may just be as simple as that!

Life can be complicated!
Sometimes outside circumstances crop up that make life very hard. However sometimes we over complicate things. We can be our own worst enemy. Even if life is complicated we can find simple solutions to our issues.

William of Ockham once remarked:
"All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one." 

Luke 18:17 (MSG) - "Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”

James 5:12 - "All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.”"

Take a decision today to try and do the 'simple stuff.' Don't sweat the big things - leave those in the hands of God. Let's do what we know we can and then allow God to assist us with the rest.

Living in Grace

Monday 2 February 2015

Truth - in pursuit of this noble virtue

"Seek the Truth, 
Listen to the Truth, 
Teach the Truth, 
Love the Truth, 
Abide by the Truth,
Defend the Truth,
And unto death."
  - John Hus (1370 - 1415)

These were not just nice words that John Hus made up one sunny morning. They were his Credo and passion. He lived, and ultimately died, defending the Truth of Jesus.

We will be confronted by many opportunities to 'bend' the Truth or to create a 'new version' of the Truth. In the end all of these options will take us away from Christ, who is TRUTH. The choice still lies with us, but it is worth heeding the words of Hus.

John 8:32 - "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

John 1:17 - "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

Living in Grace

Sunday 1 February 2015


There are things & people that we "carry along" with us our whole lives and they will remain "precious cargo" for us. I am speaking of family, friendships, memories, defining moments and moments of grace.

However, there are too many of us who carry unwanted cargo our whole lives. These usually end up being broken relationships, hurtful conversations, shattered dreams, abuse from a loved one, rejection, fear, anxiety and trauma.

All of these things/people have added to the burden that we carry, but we don't have to carry any of these alone. In fact, carrying this kind of cargo will only wear us out and make us stumble along the road.

I invite us all to lay down our "unwanted cargo." I know that forgetting what happened may not be possible, but it is our choice whether we carry the burden alone.

Psalm 68:19 - "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."

Matthew 11:28 -  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Share your burdens with Christ - He cares for you.

Living in Grace