Friday, 15 February 2019

Earth maker

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In her book 'Penguins and Golden Calves', Madeleine L'Engle mentions how she came across an unusual prayer in a book in New Zealand. In this particular prayer book, the Trinity is referred to as "Earth Maker, Pain Bearer, Life Giver."

I think it is definitely unusual, but also very intriguing. As soon as we try and pin God down through our use of language, we immediately run out of words to describe God in an adequate way. God is always going to be SO MUCH MORE than we can imagine, comprehend or describe.

Father - Creator - Author - Earth Maker
Son - Jesus - Friend - Saviour - Redeemer - Pain Bearer
Spirit - Comforter - Guide - Advocate - Life Giver

Exodus 34:10"Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you."

Living in Grace

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Live life to the full

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Abraham Lincoln once remarked that "in the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years." At first reading it doesn't always hit home as much as it should do, but then when you dwell on it, you realise how much sense it makes. You could live to be 100 years old and still feel that you haven't lived a full life, whereas some people only live into their teens and seem to have already accomplished so much.

Take the following people for example - it is amazing that we still speak about the impact they made on the world, especially when they all died so young.

Agnes of Rome - 13
Olivia of Palmero - 15
Catherine of Alexandria - 18
Andrew Kim Taegon - 25
Jim Elliot - 28
Esther John -31
Nate Saint - 32
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - 39
Eric Liddell - 43
Jesus of Nazareth - 33

If you don't know some of these names then please google them - they all died serving the Lord, many of them as young martyrs for their faith.

Colossians 1:10 " that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

A word for the season of load-shedding

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I found it quite ironic that the reading that came to mind in this week of load-shedding, happens to be speaking about LIGHT. Thanks to David,  the great poet, songwriter, king and shepherd, we have some hope for when times are dark - which in South Africa is at least twice a day at the moment :)

"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?" - Psalm 27:1

Eugene Peterson adds his insight to this wonderful verse:

Light, space, zest—
    that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
    afraid of no one and nothing.

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The gift of a Star!

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When were you ever given a Star?
I am not speaking about a gold or silver star in pre-school - I am talking about an actual Star!? A star like Andromeda, Orion, Sirius, Polaris?
I guess all of us have answered my weird question with a resounding, "Well, NEVER, of course! We have never been given an actual Star!"

In Revelation, the word of God goes out to the church to encourage her to persevere and to hang on until Jesus returns. John's words then suggest that God will actually give us a Star - not just any Star, but the Morning Star.

"I will also give that one the morning star." - Revelation 2:28

The symbolism is important for us in this message, because the 'Morning Star' refers to the Messiah. This comes through clearly towards the end of Revelation, where John writes:

Revelation 22:16 - “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

So the next time you are awake early in the morning look out for the morning star. It is a daily reminder that God has given us the greatest star of them all - His Son - the Morning Star.

Living in Grace

Monday, 11 February 2019

Getting it right

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You are not going to get it right all the time. That is a fact! Of course this is not an excuse to become complacent or lazy, but rather to recognise the need to improve and learn from your mistakes. People are very good at finding fault with our shortcomings, and forgetting what we actually get right, even if it is only most of the time.

On a spiritual and Christian level, this sentiment also applies. We seek to follow Jesus and to be God-fearing, but there will be times when we miss the mark. The important thing is to be humble enough to admit our mistakes and to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.

Take a look at this word to the church in Thyatira - "I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first." (Revelation 2:19)
At first glance, we see that they got so much right, but there was still a word of caution for them later in the same letter. They didn't get it right 100% of the time, but they needed to heed the word from the Spirit.

Thought: Don't let our imperfections stop us from giving our ALL for Christ.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Burden to bear?

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We sometimes think that God places heavy burdens upon us and wonder how we can manage the current load placed upon our shoulders. When John shared his revelation with the Church in Thyatira he offered them these words of hope:

‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ – Revelation 2:24-25

This kind of ‘burden’ is not really a burden, but rather an act of gracious love. God realised that the people were struggling and fighting with spiritual adversaries in their midst, so he didn’t want to place any extra burden upon them. All he asked was that they would HOLD ON to his love until he intervened.

It is this call to PERSEVERANCE that may be interpreted as a burden, but is rather a gift to be shared amongst the people of God. God will be with us as we seek to hold onto his love.

Action: Hold onto Christ today, because the work of "perseverance" is going to move us towards spiritual maturity.

Living in Grace

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Bad Chapter?

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As a writer you realise that sometimes you have a lot of creative energy and you feel that you have written a very good chapter in a book. However, there are days where trying to produce another chapter takes everything from you and you honestly feel that the particular chapter is not good at all. The lesson in this is that one must just keep on writing, because things will turn around again. As the following quote suggests, life doesn't depend on just one chapter.

"Life has many different chapters; one bad chapter doesn't mean it's the end of the book." (Unknown)

Of course, the Bible teaches us the same thing. There are numerous examples of people who had 'bad chapters' in their lives, but through God's grace, managed to finish the rest of the book on a brilliant note.

Deuteronomy 8:16 - " that in the end it might go well with you."

Thought: Finish the bad chapter and turn the page to begin writing an amazing new chapter.

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 6 February 2019


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Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession." - Psalm 2:8

I heard an entertaining story about a Portuguese aristocrat who left his fortune to seventy strangers. Thirteen years before his eventual death, Luis Carlos da Camara chose at random, seventy people in the telephone directly and made them all beneficiaries of his estate. You can imagine their shock, surprise and obvious scepticism at being told they had just inherited a lot of money. It was totally unbelievable for them.

In a similar way, we are little taken aback that God promises to ‘make the nations our inheritance’ and to give us the ‘ends of the earth.’ It seems unlikely and too much to comprehend. Yet, as his chosen people, God does promise us the gift of eternal life, which is far greater than any earthly treasures or inheritance. God loves us so much that he was willing to give us the very best he has to offer, which included his only son, Jesus.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Living in Grace

Monday, 4 February 2019

Victorian Parlor or Family Room?

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In doing some reading around the 7 Churches of Revelation, I came across this delightful piece from Eugene Peterson. He makes this lovely observation about the church and challenging us on what we expect from a church community:

"The churches of the Revelation show us that churches are not Victorian Parlors where everything is always picked up and ready for guests. They are messy family rooms. Entering a person's house unexpectedly, we are sometimes met with a barrage of apologies. St. John does not apologise. Things are out of order, to be sure, but that is what happens to churches that are lived in. They are not show rooms. They are living rooms, and if the persons living in them are sinners, there are going to be clothes scattered about, hand prints on the woodwork, and mud on the carpet." - E.Peterson in Reversed Thunder

I think there is a lot for us to chew on in this passage. It calls me to reflect on our desire to make church 'nice' and  'clean' - or to remember that because we are all "sinners in need of grace", there is going to be a mess in some parts of our community.

Seeking to make our churches look like "show rooms" is not going to help us live in them and make them spaces for the entire family of God. What do you think?

1 Corinthians 1:10 - I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Don't call it friendship

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What would you call Friendship? 
Is it eating together and keeping company with one another? Is it having similar interests or common goals? Is it speaking the same language or even coming from the same neighbourhood?

There is an African saying that argues that it is actually none of these at all. The saying suggests that we should only call it 'FRIENDSHIP' when we have wept together. Sharing the pain and trials of another person creates a bond that is hard to put into words.

"Eat and drink together:
talk and laugh together:
enjoy life together:
but never call it friendship 
until you have wept together." - An African Saying

"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." - Proverbs 18:24

What do you think?

Living in Grace