Friday 30 March 2018

4 - Never alone

There are so many different messages that come from the story of the Cross, but one that brings great consolation to many is this: Christ dies for us in order that we might be reunited with the Father. What Christ does for us on the Cross of Calvary is that he makes sure we are never alone again. Our sin doesn't need to separate us from the Father, nor from those around us.

"Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labour:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Thank you Lord for the grace found in the Cross. Thank you that through the saving work of Jesus I am never alone. My sin doesn't exclude me from your kingdom, because Jesus has paid the price for it all.

Living in Grace

Thursday 29 March 2018

5 - Great Love

The song of David speaks into the Great Love that God has for humanity.  The key verse for me in Psalm 5 is verse 7 because it reminds me of the great invitation that we all are given. We are invited into the house of God, not because of our status or holiness, but only BY GOD'S GREAT LOVE.

"But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    toward your holy temple." - Psalm 5:7

Our God is generous and hospitable.

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." - John 15:13

Living in Grace

6 - God hears our cries

I am convinced that god hears our cries for mercy and grace. This is the essence of the easter story, is it not? God hears the struggles of humanity, realises our deep need for a saviour and so sends us the best god has - his son. 

This gift reveals to us the nature of our god. And so when david cries out to god in psalm 6, we look back at his song and say to david - "god has heard your cries. God has heard my cries. Hallelujah!"

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long? - Psalm 6:1-3

Living in Grace

Wednesday 28 March 2018

7 - Reputations, a song and dance, Boomerangs

From the title of this post you may be tempted to think I am writing about the Australian cricketers again, but really I am not! The powerful words of Ecclesiastes 7 have taken on new meaning for me today, especially when I have reflected on them from a modern translation. It was the themes of, Reputation (v.1), Song and Dance (v.5) and the Boomerang effect of anger that really got me thinking.

"A good reputation is better than a fat bank account.
Your death date tells more than your birth date.

Crying is better than laughing.
It blotches the face but it scours the heart.
You’ll get more from the rebuke of a sage
Than from the song and dance of fools.
The giggles of fools are like the crackling of twigs
Under the cooking pot. And like smoke.
Endings are better than beginnings.
Sticking to it is better than standing out.
Don’t be quick to fly off the handle.
Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.

The 'good reputations' of the Religious leaders in Jesus' day ended up being destroyed by their 'song and dance' behaviour. Their anger at Jesus only ended up 'boomeranging' back to bite them in the end. I am sure there is a lesson for us in all of this. What do you think?

Living in Grace

Tuesday 27 March 2018

8 - Finding Life

“Now then, my children, listen to me;
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favour from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love death.” - Proverbs 8

Easter is a fantastic time to remember that, in embracing Jesus, we are 'finding life.'  
May you get to experience LIFE in all it's fullness.

Living in Grace

Monday 26 March 2018

9 - Story of the forgotten poor man

I love a good story. But, I enjoy even more, a story with a great ending. However, as I read through Ecclesiastes 9 today, I was a little saddened by the short story told by Solomon. Have a read of this yourself and see how you feel.

14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man." - Ecclesiastes 9:14-15

In two verses Solomon tells the bleak story of a hero who was not remembered? Why was he forgotten? Was it because he was poor or was it because the townsfolk soon forgot his wisdom? Did their lives just carry on, because the threat of war dulled their senses? I guess we will never really know the answer to this, but it does lead me to this point:

The story of Easter is about a King who became poor for the sake of humanity. This King gave up his own life, in order to defeat the cunning enemy. The people cheered for a short while, but soon they also forgot what he had done for them. Sadly, very few people remembered the sacrifice of the King.

Let us remember what Christ did for us.

Living in grace

10 - Steve Smith and the dead fly

A lot has been said and written about the Australian ball-tampering scandal in the last 3 days. If you have no clue about what I have just said, then check out some of the news channels - it is all over the news. Anyway, as I was doing my Lenten reading this morning, I used Ecclesiastes 10 as my text. I hadn't even got passed the first verse when my mind when racing back to Steve Smith's actions.

"As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
    so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honour.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
    but the heart of the fool to the left.
Even as fools walk along the road,
    they lack sense
    and show everyone how stupid they are." - Ecclesiastes 10:1-3

One moment of madness is now like a 'dead fly' in the ointment of Smith's cricketing career. He is considered to be one of the best batsmen in the world, and he had a fairy good track record as a captain, yet that 'little folly' tarnishes all his previous honours and achievements. 

Personally, I think that Steve Smith needs a little grace at a time like this. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy seeing the Aussies beaten at their own game, just like many of us do, but the reason why I am suggesting a little 'grace' for the man is because of our definition of 'grace.' Remember, GRACE is undeserved merit or favour. We are all quick to hold onto God's gift of Grace for us, when we have messed up with the sin in our lives, so let us offer the same to those who sin more publicly. We should just grateful that our sins are not viewed millions of times over. 

So, Steve Smith will be held accountable for his actions, and rightly so. In the same way, we are also accountable for our actions and when we have erred we need to make amends. However, as Christ-followers we know that the only way we can be restored is through the mercy and Grace of Jesus. 

Let the folly of one man be a lesson to all of us, but then we should also allow the Grace of another man (Jesus) be a GIFT to all.

Lent is the time to speak of, and reveal God's Grace.

Living in Grace

Sunday 25 March 2018

11 - Can we understand God?

With every successive generation we seem to get smarter and smarter as humans. Well, at least we think we are getting smarter. We have witnessed with our own eyes the incredible speed of change and technological advances impacting our world, yet we are still no more 'wise'  as a human race. We still struggle with pain, loneliness, hurt, war, brokenness, poverty and so much more. So our friend Solomon was certainly onto something when he commented on the following things:

"As you do not know the path of the wind,
    or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
    the Maker of all things.

Sow your seed in the morning,
    and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
    whether this or that,
    or whether both will do equally well." - Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

The challenge for all of us during our final week of Lent is not to try and figure God out, but rather to come to KNOW God as our friend, Saviour and Lord. There is a difference.

Living in Grace

Friday 23 March 2018

12 - The Conclusion of the matter

When Karl Barth was once asked how he would summarise all the countless words he had published, he replied, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." The simplicity of his statement is astounding when you consider the length of the volumes that he wrote.

If you were to write a conclusion to your collection of wise words how would you begin? What words would you want to impart as your lasting legacy. In his writings to the younger generation, Solomon concludes all of his rhetoric with these two lines:

"Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgement,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil." - Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Living in Grace

Thursday 22 March 2018

13 - How long?

"How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
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." - Psalm 13

When we face difficult times we often think that God is slow to respond to our cries and our prayers. We wonder 'How Long, O' Lord?' - Yet, in the end, God's timing is always perfect.
Haven't you found that to be true? - God can be trusted, even when we think that God is being slow.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 20 March 2018

14 - A string of Zeros!

When the words of the Scriptures catch you by surprise you just have to share those words with others. I found this to be true today when I was reflecting on what to write for day14. Turning to the Psalms again, I came across Eugene Peterson's version of Psalm 14. At every verse I had to stop and digest his translation of David's words. My comments are in RED.

"Bilious and bloated, they gas, (....had to laugh at this image)
    “God is gone.”
Their words are poison gas,
    fouling the air; they poison
Rivers and skies;
    thistles are their cash crop.

God sticks his head out of heaven. (....don't you just love this image too)
    He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—
    one man, even, God-expectant,
    just one God-ready woman.

He comes up empty. A string
    of zeros. Useless, unshepherded (... God comes up with a string of Zeros... love it!)
Sheep, taking turns pretending
    to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine
    follow their fellow.

Don’t they know anything,
    all these impostors?
Don’t they know
    they can’t get away with this—
Treating people like a fast-food meal
    over which they’re too busy to pray? ( I too busy to Pray?)

5-6 Night is coming for them, and nightmares,
    for God takes the side of victims.
Do you think you can mess
    with the dreams of the poor?
You can’t, for God
    makes their dreams come true.
Is there anyone around to save Israel?
    Yes. God is around; God turns life around. (....such GOOD NEWS for us all.)

May God bless you today and remember these last words from verse 7.
God IS around.
God TURNS life around.

Living in Grace

15 - Value of Lent

I know that we are moving into the tail end of LENT, but I wanted to share with you an article I wrote on the Value of Lent. This was written a few weeks ago for the Scripture Union online magazine. If you are interested in reading about why I find LENT a valuable time then please click onto this link and enjoy the read. It is a short article, so please give it a try :)

For those who can't follow the link, here is the thought from Psalm 15 for you:

"God, who gets invited
    to dinner at your place?
How do we get on your guest list?

“Walk straight, act right, tell the truth.
3-4 “Don’t hurt your friend,
    don’t blame your neighbour;
        despise the despicable.
“Keep your word even when it costs you,
    make an honest living, never take a bribe.
“You’ll never get blacklisted
if you live like this.” (Eugene Peterson from the Message)

Living in Grace

Monday 19 March 2018

17 - Grace Graffiti

Would you be willing to accept Graffiti if the words and pictures spoke of love and grace? We are used to negative words spray painted on bridges and buildings, fences and walls, but it seems that most graffiti artists (not all) are hell bent on voicing their opinions from a negative slant, instead of using their spray-cans to speak words of life.

Here is a thought: If God were going to spray paint some graffiti on the walls of your heart what would God say?

Psalm 17:6-7 - "I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.
    So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp!
Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;
    take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighbourhood bullies
    straight to you." 

As we continue through the season of LENT let us look out for the messages of LIFE that God has painted all over our communities. They may not be as obvious as Graffiti, but they are definitely there.
Living in Grace

Sunday 18 March 2018

18 - Fools and Friends

Solomon was certainly someone who encountered many fools in his lifetime. I am sure that he also had a lot of acquaintances, but probably only a few friends. The same may apply to you too - perhaps you know many fools and have few friends. Jesus had the same troubles - many people came to him because they needed something, but there were only a few people whom he called 'friends.' 

May we all be friends of Jesus. Read these words and allow them to guide you through today.

"Unfriendly people care only about themselves;
    they lash out at common sense.

Fools have no interest in understanding;
    they only want to air their own opinions.

Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels;
    they are asking for a beating.
The mouths of fools are their ruin;
    they trap themselves with their lips.

19 An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.
    Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
20 Wise words satisfy like a good meal;
    the right words bring satisfaction.

24 There are “friends” who destroy each other,
    but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Living in Grace

Friday 16 March 2018

16 - Saint Patricks Day

I am taking the liberty of skipping a few days in our countdown to Easter, just for the sake of St. Patricks Day. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss, especially as Patrick was such a key figure in the life of the Christian faith, most evident in his Irish Legacy. His blessings and quotes are many, but I am leaving us with two today. As we read them, may we also bless others with the same sentiments:

"He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses more; He who loses faith, loses all."

 "I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard."

And of course our Scripture comes from Psalm 16, which also speaks of BLESSING.

Psalm 16:7-8
"I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.

I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me."

Be Blessed.
Living in Grace

Thursday 15 March 2018

19 - Stephen Hawking on the Universe

Stephen Hawking passed away this week at the age of 76. He was well known for his contribution to Science and our understanding of the Universe. In an interview with CNN in 2010 he is quoted as saying:
"God may exist, but science can explain the universe without the need for a creator."
Later on in that same interview he said that "The scientific account is complete. Theology is unnecessary."  
Well, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but I still believe in a Creator and although I can't explain everything about the Universe I am content that 'the heavens proclaim the glory of God.' I join the song of the Psalmist who sings:

"The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
    It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
    and follows its course to the other end.
    Nothing can hide from its heat." - Psalm 19

Living in Grace

Wednesday 14 March 2018

20 - Shedding Light

Have you ever turned on the light in a room and suddenly seen the insects scatter? It is quite a thing for those people who are petrified of creepy-crawlies. These insects are comfortable in the dark, but they hate the light. When Solomon reflects in two verses in Chapter 20 (of Proverbs), he reminds us that the light will shine on us whether we like it or not.

"The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
    through love his throne is made secure." - Proverbs 20:27-28

The phrase 'the human spirit' can also refer to "a person's words", which changes the mean to remind us that our very words shed light on what is going on inside our hearts - this is always a challenging thing to remember.

"God is in charge of human life,
    watching and examining us inside and out.
28 Love and truth form a good leader;
    sound leadership is founded on loving integrity." (Message)

Living in Grace

Tuesday 13 March 2018

21 - The right way

How sure are you that your way is the right way? It is easy to become convinced that our opinion is the best and no one else can know better. However, in the end, it is only the Lord who can test what our true motives are. 

"A person may think their own ways are right,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.

To do what is right and just    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." - Proverbs 21:2-3

 "Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

Prayer: Lord, give me enough humility to say "sorry" if I am wrong and enough will power and strength to hold my tongue if I am right.
Living in Grace
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Saturday 10 March 2018

22 - Unless they are told

Communication is such a key component of what we do on a daily basis - and this includes all of us nowadays. We are sending messages, emails, voice-mails, whatsapps, instant messages and so on. We communicate more than we have ever done before. However, despite this, we still have moments of mis-communication or 'lack of' communication. Sometimes people just don't want to read or hear our messages.

In Psalm 22 David writes that future generations will get to know about all that God has done. And how will this happen? Well, it will only happen if we Communicate the message to those around us. The only way the unborn child gets to hear of the Gospel is if someone commits to tell them about Jesus.

Psalm 22:30-31 - "Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!"

 So, how are we planning to pass on the message to others. We can't wait and leave it for someone else to do - it depends on us.

Living in Grace

Friday 9 March 2018

Proverbs 23 - Soak yourself

Capetonians don't have the luxury of having a soaking bath anymore, but I am sure we can all remember a moment where a long bath helped alleviate much stress. So, if you can imagine yourself getting into a soaking hot bath, then add Solomon's thoughts into the mix - he suggests that we rather soak ourselves into the 'Fear of God.'

Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels;
    soak yourself in the Fear-of-God
That’s where your future lies.
    Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing. - Proverbs 23:17-18 (Message)

His suggestion seems very weird and awkward, but his point is this: "By submerging ourselves in AWE of God, we are ready to give our all to God and not focus on temporary things. When we are fully covered by God's presence we know that God will cleanse us and renew our hearts.


Psalm 17:8 - Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings

Living in Grace

Thursday 8 March 2018

24 - Eating Honey

I love Honey! It tastes amazing. So you can understand why I love the words of Solomon in Proverbs 24, where he encourages us all to eat honey. What brilliant advice...

"My child, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.

In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.
    If you find it, you will have a bright future,
    and your hopes will not be cut short." - 13-14

In a way Solomon likens the healthy aspect of honey to the future of our souls. He suggests that wisdom is like honey for us - it makes our future's bright and gives us renewed hope.

Thought: If you have some honey in your cupboard then take a spoonful and eat it today. As you savour the taste ask yourself, "Am I applying wisdom to my life?" "What do I need to do in order to gain wisdom?

Living in Grace


Wednesday 7 March 2018

25 - How to break bones

One assumes that the way to break a bone in your body is through trauma or a hard knock. Certainly that has been our experience of the years - sports injuries take place during contact sports! But listen to what Solomon says in Proverbs 25, as he challenges this notion.

"Patience can persuade a prince,    and soft speech can break bones." - Proverbs 25:15

Why would he say that? 
I think it is just a great way of saying that shouting at people will get you so far, but 'soft speech' can open up their hearts (and bones) to receive the words you need to say. We can get into the marrow of a person's heart by treating them with respect and gentleness.

Solomon adds some other interesting word pictures for us from the same chapter:

"Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble    is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot." v. 19

"Good news from far away    is like cold water to the thirsty." v.25

May you 'break some bones' today with the gentleness of your speech.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 6 March 2018

26 - Making sure you are Fit

How Fit are you? If God had to do a battery of tests on us today would he find us fit enough to be called his disciples? David is courageous enough to ask God to do some tests on him and to make sure that he is fit on the inside and the outside.
"Examine me, God, from head to foot,  
order your battery of tests.
Make sure I’m fit inside and out;

So I never lose sight of your love,
But keep in step with you, 
never missing a beat." - Psalm 26:2-3

As you do your physical exercise this week why don't you ask God to examine your Spirit too.

What areas do you need to work on?
How are you going to start this process?

Living in Grace


Monday 5 March 2018

27 - Stay with God

"Stay with God!
    Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
    Stay with God." - Psalm 27:14 (Message)

Lent is not only a season of preparation, but also a time to remind ourselves to 'Stay with God.' The 40 day journey keeps us connected to Jesus in order that we may gain the greatest benefit from the Easter story. Easter teaches us that God never quit on us! So now we can respond to God's grace by staying close to the heart of God. 

Many of you may know Psalm 27 through the opening words of verse 1....
"The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?"

God is our Salvation!
God is our Light!
God is our Stronghold!
So let us Stay with God.

Living in Grace

Saturday 3 March 2018

Paper Tigers - Dealing with Change

As many of you know we made the huge move from our home in Pietermaritzburg to Fish Hoek in December 2017. Change is never easy, but we are thankful that God has helped us through this period of intense transition.

If you are interested in reading a little about our experience of the Change and my thoughts on 'Dealing with Change', then please click onto this link here - this is an article I wrote for Scripture Union last month. Enjoy.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my thoughts and remember to live in Grace,

Friday 2 March 2018

28 - Moonlighting with the Devil.

The term "Moonlighting" refers to someone working in a second job, usually secretly and at night - this is in addition to their normal employment. When Eugene Peterson reflects on Psalm 28 he uses this term to refer to how some people 'moonlight' for the devil. 

"Don’t turn a deaf ear when I call you, God.
If all I get from you is deafening silence,
I’d be better off in the Black Hole.

I’m letting you know what I need, calling out for help
And lifting my arms toward your inner sanctum.
Don’t shove me into the same jail cell with those crooks,
With those who are full-time employees of evil.
They talk a good line of “peace,” then moonlight for the Devil."

The tough question for us is this: "Do we live two different lives? One that seems to be good and Christian, while our behaviour at other times is not very godly at all?"

"God is all strength for his people, ample refuge for his chosen leader;
Save your people and bless your heritage.
Care for them;
carry them like a good shepherd." - Psalm 28:8-9 (MSG)

Even though there are some people who "moonlight with the devil" we should always remember who we serve. God is the best 'boss' to work for and he will always provide for our needs. 

Living in Grace