Monday 30 November 2015

Advent word #2

 Acts 2:28 - 'You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

"Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” - Genesis 13:17

The spirit of God offers us DIRECTION in our lives. When we are lost or seeking to know God's plan for the future, we must trust that Jesus wants to point us into the right path. It is not the will of God that we are left to wander aimlessly, but rather that we would walk the narrow path of faith.

Are you seeking DIRECTION today? Remember that God showed the Magi (Wisemen) the star - it was this star that directed them to manger where Jesus lay. God wanted his Son to be found and so we must remember that he wants us to find him today.

God may be directing you right now - look out for his sign or star.

"You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight." - Jim Rohn

Living in Grace

Sunday 29 November 2015

Advent Word #1

As we journey through this season of Advent, I would like to offer us a 'daily word' to reflect on. The word for us today is the word 'Preparation.'

None of the greatest achievements of humanity would have happened if it weren't for adequate preparation. Take the following as simple examples:

- South Africa's world cup Rugby victories in 1995 and 2007. Both took loads of preparation.
- The D-Day invasions.
- Caesar crossing the Rubicon in 46 B.C.
- Luther's Reformation.
- The Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

 There are thousands more examples like these, but the key point is that nothing happens unless there is a great deal of PREPARATION.

I am of the opinion that we need to PREPARE ourselves for the gift of Christmas. This is such a monumental occasion in our faith journey and we should prepare ourselves for all that comes with the birth of Jesus.

John 19:42 - "And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there."

Colin Powell -  "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

Living in Grace

Friday 27 November 2015

The power of the Lord

"The Lord is king!
    Let the earth rejoice!
    Let the farthest coastlands be glad.
Dark clouds surround him.
    Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire spreads ahead of him
    and burns up all his foes.
His lightning flashes out across the world.
    The earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
    every nation sees his glory." - Psalm 97:1-6 (NLT)

A.W. Tozer - “We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts”
Living in Grace

Thursday 26 November 2015

Tap the Gauge

Sometimes our fuel gauges can give us a little trouble and we may have to tap them in order to get an accurate reading. Of course, this doesn't always work, but it can help us avoid being stranded without any fuel.

If you take stock of your life at the moment, is there a chance that you may need to 'tap' the gauge of your soul. Perhaps you are already on empty, but your gauge is giving you a false reading. It is well worth take a brief moment to pause, check the state of your spiritual well-being and then move on from their. You may find that you are already on empty and you need to recharge your batteries.

Tap the gauge - it may just save your life!

Acts 13:16 - "Paul stood up, paused and took a deep breath...."

Genesis 18:4 (KJV) - "Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree..."

Living in Grace

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Keep it simple

"Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick. He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment." - Luke 9:1-5

I love these words of Jesus - "Keep it Simple!" - Especially at this time of the year when everything seems to speed up and life is incredibly hectic. Jesus urges us not to load ourselves up with extra equipment (things) and to be content with what we have. 

Jesus then adds something interesting, he says that "we are the Equipment!" It reminds us that we are clay pots that contain the Spirit of God, so that we can be his instruments.

May the word of God speak to you today. May you be an instrument for the Lord.
Grace and peace.

Living in Grace

Luke 9:1-5 (NLT) - One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Which one would you take?

"Wisdom gives: a long, good life, riches, honour, pleasure, peace."- Proverbs 3:16-17

Having a look Solomon's list of the "results" of wisdom, which one would you take today?

I know that I would take PEACE straight away! It is such a hectic time of the year and one often feels frazzled, but I still believe that God's PEACE can prevail in the midst of the stress of this time of year.

May God grant you His peace and presence today.

Psalm 29:11 He will give his people strength. He will bless them with peace.

Living in Grace

Sunday 22 November 2015

Cause for a song?

"Take a good look at God’s wonders—
    they’ll take your breath away.
He converted sea to dry land;
    travellers crossed the river on foot.
    Now isn’t that cause for a song?" - Psalm 66:5-6

What makes you want to sing?
I tend to agree with king David, that when I look around at the wonders of God's creation that my soul is so uplifted that I want to sing. I am not sure that world wants to hear my singing voice, but certainly I am ready to lift my voice to the Lord.

So, let me ask us again - what in God's creation takes your breath away?
The waves crashing onto the rocks at sunrise?
The sound of thunder in the midst of an afternoon storm?
The song of the birds before dawn?
The clouds above the escarpment of the Mountains?
...Fill in the blank _________________________

May you be filled with the wonder of God today and may it give you cause to sing!

Living in grace

Saturday 21 November 2015

Putting on a Brave face

Are you putting on a "Brave" face today?
So often we feel that we have to pretend that we are doing OK, because we don't want the world to know that we are struggling inside. I am not sure where the idiom, "putting on a brave face" comes from, but it implies that when things are difficult for us, we put on a smile and pretend that life is fine.

Putting on any mask may cover our emotions and true feelings for a while, but we can't hide from the Lord. In fact, we should want to hide from him, because God is the one who truly knows how we are feeling and desires to make us whole again.

So, before you put on a "brave face" again, ask yourself if it wouldn't be best to find a friend to speak to - you never know how liberating that may be.

Living in Grace

Friday 20 November 2015

You are AWESOME!

I know that we hear the word 'Awesome' everyday of our lives and it should technically be reserved for the character of God, but I wanted to express my deepest thanks today and loudly proclaim - "You are AWESOME!"

I have been humbled by the wonderful words of encouragement concerning the release of Whatever it Takes on Wednesday. I can't adequately express my thanks to you all for reading the blog when you can and for being willing to support the Living in Grace ministry. To quote an African Proverb:

"I am, because of you!" (which we know loosely as Ubuntu)

There is no way I would be able to write and explore this ministry if it weren't for you all and the many amazing people who have journeyed with me along this road. I am blessed beyond reason. To the many people who have given up hours of their lives to assist me in getting this far - I thank God for you all.

Lastly, I want to thank the Lord for his kindness, grace and inspiration. I am only a child of the King, through the saving work of Jesus Christ.

May you all have a blessed week.

If you haven't already had a look at the new website then please click on this link to have a look. My friend Tyron has done an awesome job with this and you can see more of his work at Smashing.

Living in Grace

Thursday 19 November 2015

Who is the wealthiest person in the world?

Socrates“The wealthiest person is the one who is content with the least.”

I am not sure if this is always true, but the one thing I know is that money doesn't buy happiness.
If we fall into the trap of thinking that 'things' are going to buy us 'wealth' then I urge us to rethink this logic.

No one has ever whispered on their death-bed, "I wish I had more money!" However, I bet there have been plenty of wealthy people who have died thinking, "I wish I had more friends and family right now!"

Worth thinking about.

If you have a moment read Matthew 6:21

Living in Grace

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Caught between 2 storms

Yesterday my home town of Pietermaritzburg experienced 2 thunderstorms - one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Thankfully they were not to destructive and the rain proved to be a welcome relief for our area impacted by the recent drought.

However, the two Thunderstorms got me thinking about how sometimes we are caught between 2 'storms' in our lives. We may get through one of them OK, but then suddenly we are hit with another storm of sorts. These can come in various forms, but they inevitably come.

In Luke's gospel we read how Jesus was caught in the middle of one storm, when he was sailing with this disciples on the sea of Galilee. Even after he had calmed the physical storm, he was then confronted with a 'spiritual' storm as he had to cast out demons and heal people with various illnesses. It seemed as if Jesus lived perpetually between two storms.

Luke 8:24-25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’

Can you relate to this at the moment? Have you just come through a tough time in your life? Remember that even if one storm has passed we will face another one sometime in the future.

Who is helping you to cope in between the 2 storms? Are you willing to turn to Jesus and to ask for his strength and guidance as you journey between the storms of life?

Living in Grace

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Contentment poem

"He that is down needs fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride;
He that is humble, ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it, or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because Thou savest such." - John Bunyan, quoted in Anthology of Jesus.

Job 36:11 If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.

 Proverbs 19:23 - "The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble."

Are you content today? Why or why not?
Can you be honest enough to pinpoint what it is that is messing with your contentment?
Is it the choices we have made recently?

Living in Grace

Monday 16 November 2015

Be a new kind of Hero

“Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.”- ― Jodi Picoult, Second Glance

Our world is in desperate need of new Heroes. It seems that humanity is feeling more and more fragile at this point in our history - it just takes a few terrorist activities to "up" the levels of fear in our world. Things are tough at the moment, don't you agree?

Or maybe I should change my previous paragraph to start by pronouncing - 
"Perhaps we just need to realise that our world is in need of a Saviour!"

This is what Advent will be all about - the longing for a Saviour, a hero to break into our time and space - to bring Peace, Love and Mercy.

Psalm 89:19-20 (Message)
“I’ve crowned a hero, I chose the best I could find; I found David, my servant, poured holy oil on his head, And I’ll keep my hand steadily on him, yes, I’ll stick with him through thick and thin."

Living in Grace

Sunday 15 November 2015

Power of perspective

“I had no shoes and complained until I met a man who had no feet.” - Anon.

We always think that things are bad for us and the temptation is to get caught up in our own troubles. However, perspective is an important thing for us all to grasp. Just like in the above quote, we seldom think what others may be experiencing, before we open our mouths to complain about our woes.
As John Ortberg reminds us, "It could be worse!"

As we start a new week, can I encourage us to take stock of all the things we ought to be grateful for. 

Colossians 3:2 - "See things from his perspective."

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or we can rejoice because thorns have Roses." - Abraham Lincoln

Living in Grace

Friday 13 November 2015

Lucky Friday the 13th?

There will be thousands of people stressing about the significance of Friday the 13th today. For me, it is just like another Friday, but in keeping with the date, I wanted to offer some wonderful verses that contain the number 13 in them. May you be blessed.

1 Corinthians 13:13 - And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Psalm 13:5-6 - But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

Mark 13:13 - "...but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved."

John 13:1 - "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."

Proverbs 13:13 - "Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,
    but whoever respects a command is rewarded."

Living in Grace

Thursday 12 November 2015

Looking for God

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." - Matthew 5:8

"Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how." -Thomas Merton

Living in Grace

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Release of new Book - 7 days and counting...

I am excited to announce that I will be releasing my new book, Whatever it Takes, on the 18th November 2015. If you are anywhere near Pietermaritzburg next Wednesday and you would like to join us for the launch please feel welcome - the more the merrier. It will be at Wesley Methodist Church from 6pm, until about 7:30pm.

It has been a long hard journey over the past 5 years, but I am relieved that the work has finally culminated in the writing of this book. Whatever it Takes takes a deeper look at 10 ways in which we can be inspired in our faith journey. It is my prayer that this will encourage and challenge many people.

Lastly, I want to say a huge Thank You for taking the time to read this blog - it is your helpful feedback and support that encourages me to keep writing. You will never know how much of a role you play in this journey. God bless you.

Soli Deo Gloria

Living in Grace

Tuesday 10 November 2015

When the Tooth Fairy doesn't show up!

Parenting tip of the day - if you have young kids who still "believe" in the Tooth mouse/fairy, please make sure that you actually take the tooth out the pouch and replace it with some cash! #justsaying

Yes, you guessed it, we made this blunder last night. We were so exhausted last night that we went to sleep and forgot all about the Tooth mouse. That was until this morning at 5am, when a dejected little boy came sobbing into the room saying, "He didn't come, he didn't come!"

After wiping the sleep out of our eyes, we looked at each other and tried to figure out what happened and then it hit us between the eyes - we FORGOT about the tooth mouse! Well, parental guilt came crashing into our hearts and we tried our best to make up for the bad faux pas we had just committed. It is amazing what thoughts come racing into your mind at that time of the morning.

But, how do you come back from forgetting the Tooth mouse!? Can you ever come back from that? Well we tried .....

We blamed it on the Rain (we all know that mice struggle to travel in the wet conditions - don't they?)
We suggested that we need to put cheese out tonight, as this will help him smell were the tooth is hidden.
We fumbled our way through a few more excuses, while we secretly set 10 reminders on our mobile phones for later on :)

In the end the little guy seemed to be ok and we breathed a sigh of relief. However, it did get me thinking of a few things. Here are some of these random thoughts.

1. I know that we play these harmless fantasy games with our kids to keep their hopes and dreams alive, but it is hard to keep making up stories to cover the truth.
2. Which, leads us onto the point of lying - Keeping the truth from people is a tiring past-time - you have to keep covering your tracks and this gets you into all sorts of trouble.
3. Do we ever feel that God is like the Tooth mouse/fairy? We give him some little things and then we expect him to do other things for us?
4. Have you ever been disappointed in God? Maybe you felt really let down by God - how did you make peace with that?

Let me finish with this promise. God will always SHOW up for us. It may not be in the way we expect or imagine, but GOD ALWAYS keeps his Promises.

Joshua 23:14 - You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.

Living in Grace

Monday 9 November 2015

To the Brave Ones - Brilliant local Artist

I am so blessed this morning to be listening to an Album entitled "To the Brave Ones". What makes it so special is that it has been produced by my friend Mark Counihan. Mark was a member of our Youth Group when I was serving as a Youth Pastor at Bryanston Methodist. Mark was always an energetic young man, but also full of nonsense at times :) I am just so humbled that God would use his talents to bless the world.

Please can I ask you to support his ministry and go and buy his album on itunes. It only costs R70. Yes, that is right - only R70 for a brilliant worship CD. (Go to itunes and type in 'To the Brave Ones' and you should find it.)

For those of you who have Facebook, click on this link

"Being brave means to know something, scary, difficult and dangerous, and doing it anway, because the possibility of winning the fight is worth the chance of losing it." - Emilie Autumn

God bless you.

Living in Grace

Sunday 8 November 2015

Let's Imagine

Sometimes we imagine what something will be like. We can dream of the natural beauty of a holiday destination (for example) and then when we see it for the first time we judge these first impressions with the ‘created’ image lodged in our minds. In the end, it either lives up to our dreams or it doesn't! It either tells a story of disappointment or sheer delight!

I have to admit that most of the places I have visited in my life have lived up to my expectations  and perhaps even more. In a simple way, this is what I imagine heaven to be like. We have very little idea what it will truly look like, but the images we have from Scripture, give us a glimpse of the ultimate Paradise. I am convinced that whatever God has created heaven to be like, it will not disappoint any one of us.

I definitely want to be there. How about you?

Revelation 2:7 - Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Living in Grace,