Saturday 29 February 2020


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Lent is all about preparation – it is a time of spiritual preparation and discipline, which leads us into the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection. In fact, it is not unlike the call of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord.

 Matthew 3:1-3 - In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:  “A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’”

Just as John tried to 'make straight paths' for people to encounter Christ, so we take it upon ourselves to get rid of the distractions in our own spiritual paths. By fasting, reading the scriptures, praying, giving (and so on) we try to clear the obstacles that prevent us from meeting with Jesus. 

It is good to remind ourselves that we don’t do this to win favour with God or try and brag about some spiritual ‘brownie points’ – we do this because God loves us deeply and we want to honour that Grace by giving God the attention and praise that is due His name. Jesus himself was loved by the Father long before he did anything miraculous – His father loved him because he was his child. 

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” - (v.16-17)

Our Lenten experience and commitment is to appreciate how much we ARE ALREADY loved and to draw nearer to the One who gave His all for us.

Living in Grace

Friday 28 February 2020


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In J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings Trilogy the last book is entitled "Return of the King." Using this title as our guide we note how Jesus returned to Israel from his exile in Egypt. Although he was still a child, Jesus was the King of Kings and the Father was preparing the way for his future reign.

"When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him, "Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel..." - Matthew 2:19-20

Josephus recorded that Heord died of a mystery illness that plaqued him for many years. It was later referred to as Herod's Evil. Isn't it ironic that the very person who could have healed Herod was the one that he hated and tried to kill. Herod misunderstood the reign of the new King (Jesus) and allowed his advisors and his own evil nature to torture his soul.

In our journey through Lent let us spend time understanding the true purpose of Christ and the gift that He brings to us. If we feel threatened by Jesus then it says something about our desire to hold onto our personal thrones and kingdoms. Lent teaches us to let go and to trust in God's rule.

Allow yourself the freedom to remove your crown and to cast it at the feet of the true King.

Living in Grace

Thursday 27 February 2020


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Our main focus during Lent will be the Cross and the empty tomb, but we would be wise to also remember the begining of the story. Matthew records it like this:

"Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21

In the Amplied version it puts it like this: "She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.”

No matter what translation you read it in, it still points to the marvellous gift that Jesus is our Salvation. This Saving Grace comes to us through the pain and suffering of a Roman cross, but it opens up the pathway to our Redemption.

In what way has Jesus become your Salvation?
Living in Grace

Tuesday 25 February 2020

A fresh look at Lent

On Wednesday, the 26th February, we begin our journey towards the Cross and Resurrection. This special season of Lent begins with a service known as Ash Wednesday and includes a time of personal reflection, challenge to 'give up' some things and a reminder of our need to Confess our sins to Jesus.

I recently wrote an article for Scripture Union Magazine on Lent and so if you would like to check it out, please click onto this link. For those of you who would like the shorter version, I used an acronym for LENT, which includes the following 4 thoughts on what this season means for me.

L - Life (Despite the gore of the cross and Jesus' torture there is a strong thread of LIFE running through the Passion of Jesus)

E - Endings (Even though we fear endings, they are necessary for new things to be birthed in our lives)

N - New (Jesus takes the old ways and improves on them - He offers us a New Covenant and a New relationship with the Father)

T - Transformation (Lent challenges us to be transformed and to look at how we can allow God to change us).

If you want the full story you will have to click onto the link to read the whole article - it is not long, I promise :)

Living in Grace

Monday 24 February 2020

No Matter what happens

Image result for My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens.”
Peter has some incredible words of comfort for us today, when he writes: “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens.”1 Peter 5:12 (NLT)

For people who were going through a lot of suffering and numerous trials these timeous words must have been a huge blessing. However, they are not just words for the early church - they are words that are also relevant for us too. 

Remember that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS the grace of God is with us.
No matter what happens!
God is still with us.

Living in Grace

Saturday 22 February 2020

The courage of Jesus

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Morton Kelsey challenges us to look at the cross from another angle - taking note of the immense Courage of Jesus, as well as his deep Love.

"It was his courage as well as his love which led him there (to the cross) and left him hanging on the cross. It was his courage which enabled him to love in those dark hours. The victory which was won there on Golgotha was compounded of three precious elements. of humility, of love and of courage."

May you remember both the LOVE and COURAGE of Jesus today. Remember that he shares both these gifts with us today.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." - 1 Corinthians 16:13

Living in Grace

Thursday 20 February 2020

The quiet anaesthetic of prayer

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I am busy working through an old book written by Jean Vanier entitled "Followers of Jesus". The depth of his insight is truly remarkable and I am challenged by many of the words in his book. One of these goes like this:

"We must have long moments under the anaesthetic of quiet prayer, because Jesus can teach us certain things only if we are under an anaesthetic."

At first glance it may not seem to make much sense, but read it again imagining that you are under anaesthetic for an operation. Duirng this process we place our trust fully in the doctors, believing that when we "come around" again we will be on the road to healing.

Translate this image into our times of prayer with God. Too often I don't abandon myself to Christ during my times of prayer - it becomes too controlled and quick. However, I am challenged today to allow the Holy Spirit to do some surgery in my spirit and to release myself fully into God's care.

Here is another awesome quote from another of Jean Vanier's books:

“We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love. ” 

Living in Grace

Monday 17 February 2020

Praying is no easy matter

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Prayer can be so easy at times and then, in other moments, it can seem so hard. Henri Nouwen reflects on the intimacy of prayer, which can help us understand why it is so hard at times.
"Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched."

1 Corinthians 2:11 - "For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

May you discover more of yourself as you allow the Spirit to speak to you during your times of prayer.

Living in Grace

Friday 14 February 2020

Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot

Thirty years ago, on Valentines day (1990), Voyager 1 took the remarkable image of the earth from 6.4 Billion kilometers away - look at where the arrow is pointing in the picture. It was called the 'Pale Blue Dot' by scientist Carl Sagan and it remains a humbling reminder of how small, yet precious the earth is.

As far as we know the earth is the only planet that can support human life. We may try and send people to live on Mars and the Moon, but that is still a long way in the future. We should recgonise the gift we have been given and remember how amazing our God is.

So for this Valentines day let us focus on the remarkable LOVE we have been given by God and that our planet was considered so special that God sent his Son to reveal his glory to us.

John 1:9 - "The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world."

John 3:16 - "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."

Living in Grace

Wednesday 12 February 2020

At the mercy of ...

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There are many things that are out of our control. We are at the mercy of things like: the weather, the taxman, load-shedding, aging and illness. But have you ever considered that we don't have to be at the mercy of everything that comes our way? There are some things that can guide us and provide a solid foundation for us.

Listen to these insightful words from Eugene Peterson:

"Worship is an act of attention to the living God who rules, speaks and reveals, creates and redeems, orders and blesses ... failure to worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy of every advertisement, every seduction, every siren."

By centering our worship on Jesus, God helps us remain secure in the gift of his grace, without the fear of being held hostage by every little thing.

Thought: It is best to rather be 'at the mercy' of Jesus.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Go for the LOVE

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Rick Warren – “Go for the Love, not always the win!”

Many times we are so busy trying to 'win' the arguments with our loved ones, friends and colleagues, instead of asking what this does to our relationships. Is it better to feel the satisfaction of winning an argument or rather to walk away for the sake of Love? 

In a week where the world will go crazy buying Valentines gifts, cards, flowers and treats (all as a show of love) let us not forget the real source of love - Jesus. 

Romans 12:9-10 (Message) "Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle."

Choosing Love this week may be the biggest victory you will experience.

Living in Grace

Monday 10 February 2020

In this together

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I have often wondered why the 12 Step Program is used so successfully with organisations like AA and others. A thought occurred to me this past week, while preparing a sermon on 'Living in Community', that it surely has to do with a deep sense of mutual struggle and empathetic understanding. In groups like this there can be no pretense and everyone knows your pain, so this often drives us to greater care, sincere encouragement and a collective feeling of 'we are in this together.'

Sadly, the same thing is not always evident in our churches, but it should be. We are all in this 'life' together and we all have struggles and pain, yet somehow we arrive at church with great pretense and our personal spiritual masks firmly in place.

Please read this well known verse very slowly and see what God is revealing to you today.

“A new command I give you:
Love one another.
As I have loved you,
so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know
 that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35

Living in Grace

Sunday 9 February 2020

Showing Sympathy

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One of the advantages of being involved in community is that when we suffer through hard times there are people to walk alongside us. If we need encouragement, then we know we will be encouraged; likewise if we are needing sympathy, then others will show us sympathy.

It would be very sad if during our darkest times we had no one to put their arms around us and to remind us: "God is with you - and so are we!"

In his letter to the early church, Peter encouraged the Christians to show sympathy to one another:
"...Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."

As Jerry Ellis states - “We are all fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make.” 

Our tapestry shows off the array of it's colours when believers walk alongside each other.

Who can you show sympathy to this week?

Living in Grace

Saturday 8 February 2020

Living in Community

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Living in any community is not always easy. Even in a small group of people (family sized) there will always be something that will cause us frustration. The same applies in churches, schools, places of work and social clubs - little irritations crop up which cause us to pull away from these groups of people for a while. 

In the end, it is the desire to belong and be connected, that draws us back into community again. We were designed to be in community! As Trevor Hudson remarked – “Clearly, the climate for growth and deepening in discipleship is community. We can’t become the people God created us to be without experiencing divine and human relationships.”

      Solomon agreed. He wrote “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 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." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

      Living in Grace