Thursday 31 October 2019

Does Loving also mean Liking?

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We understand that God calls us to LOVE people, but the big question is this:
Does loving someone also mean I need to LIKE them? Mmmmmh, there is a challenging thought. I am sure we have all come across people that we don't like at all, but somewhere in our 'Christian minds' we know we are supposed to 'love' these irritating people and that is when we feel a little confused.

If you have ever struggle with this, then perhaps this insight may help in your thinking:

“We must understand that God does not "love" us without liking us - through gritted teeth - as "Christian" love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core - which we vainly try to capture with our tired but indispensable old word "love".” ― Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

Wow, that is quite a mouthful, but it makes interesting reading. I wonder if God ever loves us through gritted teeth? 

Question: Is it possible to love someone, even if we don't like them? (if you know the answer then please share your recipe of success with us)

Living in Grace

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Effort versus earning

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One of my favourite authors is Dallas Willard and I count it a wonderful privilege to have been part of a 2 day seminar he lead many years ago. It was truly inspirational. Dallas doesn't just write 'nice' thoughts down on paper - he oozes the essence of Christ so that one is changed by merely reading. This is a powerful gift to have.
Take this quote as an example - it is one of my favourites.

“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”

This implies that I can not earn my salvation (it is by Grace alone), BUT I should put some effort into my new found relationship with Christ. The action of 'effort' is an indication of a heart that has been changed by Grace.

What do you think?

Living in Grace

Tuesday 29 October 2019

I Will

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In a week where South African and English rugby fans wonder "Will our team win on Saturday?" it is good to know that God has promised some amazing things for his people. When you read these words you will note that there is nothing 'iffy' about God's promises. God says "I will" and that is good enough for me.

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”

In a time of uncertainty may you hold onto the sure promises of Jesus.

Living in Grace

Monday 28 October 2019

The great conversation

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I am so grateful for the gift of reading. I realise that some people don't like reading, but I count it a joy to read the thoughts and inspirations of many different authors. As Rene Descartes once observed, our reading opens up conversations with people we would never get to meet, but somehow we have a connection with them.
"The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries." - Rene Descartes

It goes without saying that this is the same with the Scriptures. Reading the words of people like Solomon, David, Peter, Paul and Isaiah gives us a beautiful insight into their world and their understanding of faith.

As we read the Scriptures enjoy the conversation with the authors, but most especially, delight in speaking with the Lord.

2 Timothy 3:16 -  The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right.

Living in Grace

Sunday 27 October 2019

With Thanksgiving

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The following passage has meant a great deal to me in the last few days. It has many dimensions to it, but I wanted to share it with you and pray that there will be something meaningful for you in these words.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:4-7

If you want to read it in a different version, here it is in the Living Bible:

"Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."

Which part of the passage speaks to you?

Living in Grace

Friday 25 October 2019


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Our world has fast fallen into a place where we enjoy elevating the sins and faults of others, most especially on social media. Sadly, us Christians have also taken up this practise in a mistaken claim of piety. However, I think it has more to do with us feeling 'better' about our own sins when we can point out the 'worse' sins in our neighbour. This is purely deflective behaviour - if I can cause enough noise on this issue, it will distract you from noticing my true faults and shortcomings.

Thomas a Kempis wrote clearly on this issue:

"Turn your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labours vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable."

In my words - We should all practise more self-reflection! This is what will change and transform our lives.

Living in Grace

Thursday 24 October 2019

Check up

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"Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:23-24

I have always admired this honest prayer of David, where he gives permission for God to test his heart and to 'know' what is going on in his mind. It reminds me of going to the doctor, where we give them permission to do a series of tests in order to discover what is wrong with us - it is called a 'Check up.' In a way, we are saying to the GP - "please search my heart and body and find out why I am feeling sick."

In coming to God today we should we saying the same thing, but obviously related to our spiritual well-being. "Lord, I am not feeling so good, so please would you get to know my heart and help me find out why I am anxious or troubled."

Are you willing to pray this part of Psalm 139 as a prayer today?
If yes, then it may be best if you gave yourself a little time and a quiet space to pray.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Big Shadow

Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.
"Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow." - Swedish proverb

I wonder if Jesus already knew that some of our worries are made much bigger because of their shadow and not really what they are? This Swedish proverb makes a lot of sense for us and especially those who have experienced something like this before. Think back to an issue that consumed your thought-life and energy for weeks, but failed to even materialise. It was such a waste of emotional energy, but still we were consumed with worry.

Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount are easy to understand - they are in plain language - but they are so much harder to live out. Ponder them from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase:

"...People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." - Matthew 6: 29-34

Living in Grace

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Changing deserts

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"The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; 
he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord
Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." - Isaiah 51:3

There is something wonderfully hopeful in today's scripture. It speaks to me of how God can change the deserts in my life into something truly beautiful. Those areas of my life that seem like wastelands can be transformed into gardens of renown.

Never give up believing that God can do miracles in your life. God is in the business of reshaping deserts.

Living in Grace

Monday 21 October 2019

Our contradictions

The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God's mercy to me.

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"The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God's mercy to me." - Thomas Merton

We can be such a mix of contradictions at times.
We are full of kindness one moment and then suddenly we struggle to cope with our selfishness. Our patience levels seem to have improved and then we lose our cool in a fleeting moment. One day we feel so close to God and the next it seems a massive struggle just to read your Bible.

Perhaps Paul summed up our contradictions well when he said: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." - Romans 7:15

Thomas Merton is onto something when he suggests that God's mercy is revealed to us through our contradictions. God could grow weary and impatient with us, but he chooses not to. God understands our struggle with sin and offers us redemption through Jesus Christ.

What 'contradictions' do you battle with at the moment?

Living in Grace


Sunday 20 October 2019

An extra hour?

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If you have ever found yourself worrying about something then today's post is for you. 
It is so hard not to worry about things - even when we deal with one issue, then inevitably another one crops up. 

Jesus had some solid advice for us and for his followers:

"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" - Matthew 6:27
So there it is! 
Jesus is telling us that worry is not going to change anything. It won't even add 60 minutes to our lives. So, what do we do then? If we shouldn't worry, how do we deal with the situations that cause us sleepless nights? 

Jesus tells his followers that most of the things we worry about concern things in this world - things that are temporary - so he instructs his disciples to focus on Kingdom matters. By re-aligning our mind on things of God, we slowly start to get a better balance and a divine perspective.

I know that this is much easier than it sounds, but why don't we give this a try today. 
Seek first the Kingdom of God and then all these other things will be added to us.

Living in Grace

Thursday 17 October 2019

Marked by love

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"Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.” - Mark 9:7 (Message)

When God proudly spoke of Jesus as his son, he used the phrase 'marked by my love', which speaks of identity and influence. Everything about Jesus came from the Father and Jesus bore the marks of his heavenly parent.

The challenging question for us is this: "In what way are we revealing the marks of Christ in our lives?"
Can people see Jesus in us?
Can they see how God has changed our lives?

What does being 'marked by love' mean for you today?

Living in Grace

Wednesday 16 October 2019

The final No

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"After the final No there comes a Yes,
And on that YES
the future of the world depends." - Wallace Stevens

This little poem is wonderfully intriguing. It is worth reading a few times before one comes to understand what he is getting at. It may be helpful to read this in conjunction with the following words from Revelation.

Revelation 14:13 - Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.”

Revelation 22:20 -  He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Death will be the final No for each one of us, but after this No there will come a great YES. Our eternal future depends on the YES of Christ.

What do you think?

Living in Grace

Tuesday 15 October 2019


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“Rejection is just an opinion, remember? It reflects them more than me, right?”- Jia Jang

In his outrageous experiment called "100 days of Rejection", Jia Jang set out to conqueror his fear of rejection by doing a hundred "off the wall" things to face rejection from others. What he learnt was that people are actually a lot kinder than we think and that rejection is not as bad as we imagine it to be.

His quote (above) is interesting as it reminds us that 'rejection' can be more about the other person's tastes and opinion than our identity. It doesn't need to define us.

And of course, looking at the life of Jesus we see that he was also rejected many times over, but his purpose still prevailed. It is God's opinion of us that truly matters!

Psalm 118:22 - The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone

Luke 9:22 - And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Living in Grace

Monday 14 October 2019

Good reminder

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As the year races towards the end we can be overwhelmed with everything that has to happen and is currently on the go. My devotional reading today comes from Psalm 59 (in Our Daily Bread) and it was a timeous reminder of God's STRENGTH and how we can put our lives into God's strong hands.

"But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.
You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely." - Psalm 59:16-17

Lord, may you be my strength today. I rest in your greatness and not in my weakness. Amen."

Living in Grace

Sunday 13 October 2019

Which measure?

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When Jesus was teaching on the Mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee he said these words:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Matthew 7:1

The part about the 'measure' always seem to allude me until I understood that certain Rabbi's spoke of two different 'measures' for judgement. The first one was the measure of Justice, while the second one was the measure of Mercy.

If we keep judging people with the measure of Justice, then that is the one God will use on us, but if we use Mercy, then that is the one God will use on us. That seems to make a lot of sense. The trick is now trying to make sure that we use the right measure when we look at other people.

Which measure do you usually revert too?

Living in Grace