Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Feeling Lost during Lockdown

How to escape a maze – according to maths

Good day friends. I just wanted to share this article with you on some of my experiences during Lockdown. It is on the Scripture Union website, but you can read it here.

If you have felt a little lost at some point during lockdown then you may find the article an interesting read. It also has some connection with dealing with our grief and the things we feel we have had to let go off during these strange days.

God bless you
Living in Grace

D3LM3


Monday, 25 May 2020

Teach, Instruct, Repeat

Proverbs 19 | Proverbs 31 Wanna-be
As one travels through the collection of Proverbs, we could be excused for thinking - Some of these instructions are repeated a lot! And that is true. You find a number of good proverbs come up again and again. Take these three from Proverbs 19 as an example:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – v.21
"The fear of the Lord leads to life;  then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” – v.23
 “A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!” – V.24

Don't they sound vaguely familiar? 
Yes, they do and it is because Solomon (and the other authors of Proverbs) want us to understand the importance of these key truths. In their opinion, once people grasped these principles and follow God with integrity, life will be very different.

Sometimes we just need to hear things more than once in order to allow them to sink into our minds and hearts. What do you think?

"Righteousness means right living. It means treating people right. It means living with personal integrity." - R.C. Sproul

“When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's [children's] minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.”― Cicero

Living in Grace
D3LM3


Sunday, 24 May 2020

Kindess

Fundraiser by Jackie Uwadileke : The Provision Project: Proverbs 19:17 
 
Today's reading from Proverbs 19 reminds us that: "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,    and he will reward them for what they have done." (Proverbs 19:17)

We are facing up to a time in our history where poverty is very close at hand. As South Africans we have been exposed to the poor in diverse ways, but Covid-19 is slowly creating more opportunities for us to be kind to those who are struggling economically. Jesus made it clear that we would always have poor amongst us and urged his followers to treat all people with compassion, love and kindness.

On this significant day in the life of the Evangelical Church, where we remember the difference that John and Charles Wesley made to England (and the world), it is fitting to note a very challenging word from them on poverty and our call to address it:

"Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?”- John Wesley

Perhaps his other quote which is well known is also appropiate at this point:

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

John Wesley 


How can we show kindness to others? 

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Saturday, 23 May 2020

First to speak

WISDOM! Proverbs 18:17: “He who states... - Sid Roth's It's ...
"In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines." - Proverbs 18:17

This proverb is so true. How often have you been involved in a challenging conversation with people and been convinced by the initial ideas put forward? The more you think about what is being said, the more you feel 'This is right!' 

However, as soon as you have let those ideas settle in your mind, then someone else comes along and presents an equally compelling argument. And then you are stumped! Mmm, what do you make of that argument now?

I guess, it is always good to hear both sides of any story, before you make a judgement. In trying to discern the truth, it goes deeper than just two good speeches - knowing something about the characters who are speaking also makes a difference.

Proverbs 18:21 - The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

"We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision." - C. S. Lewis

"Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come." -Robert H. Schuller

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Friday, 22 May 2020

Strong Tower

40 Bible Quotes - Bible Scripture Verses of the Day

Each one of us will turn to different people or things to help us get through difficult times. The writer of Proverbs 18 contrasts two different extremes of this:

"The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;  the righteous run to it and are safe.
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale." - Proverbs 18:10-11

For the person who loves God, they will run to the 'name of the Lord' which will be their security, refuge and strength. Once we hide in the name of the Lord we are safe and we can trust in God's promises to guide us through the troubled waters.

For the person who has a lot of wealth the temptation is to place their trust in financial security - I guess the underlying thought is "money can buy me everything I need and this will be my comfort and hope. No one can reach me over the high walls of this cover."

Sadly, there are many stories of how money, wealth and power all let people down in the end. I know that God will never disown us or let us down. It is worth thinking about!?

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.”- Hellen Keller

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” —Robert H. Schuller

“With God, you are stronger than your struggles and more fierce than your fears. God provides comfort and strength to those who trust in Him. Be encouraged, keep standing, and know that everything's going to be alright.” - Germany Kent


Living in Grace
D3LM3

Thursday, 21 May 2020

The Ascension of Jesus

Ascension Day celebrated/observed on May 21, 2020 ⋆ Cards ...

Today we mark Ascension day in our Christian calendar. It is a significant day in the life of the church for many reasons and I believe its appropriate for us to pause and remember this occasion.

7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”

9-11 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.” - Acts 1:7-11 (Eugene Peterson's paraphrase)

For me, these are a few of the important things that Ascension brings:

1. Jesus' Ascension prepares the way for the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.
2. The promised Spirit brings life-giving power to the disciples and this also includes us.
3. Jesus returned to the Father and is interceding for us right now.
4. It teaches us that Jesus trusted us with the message of the Gospel. That is a great privilege.
5. Jesus will come again. 
6. All things are in His power and under His authority.
7. It is another reminder that Jesus keeps his promises. Remember what he told his disciples in John 14-16? This is a fulfillment of those promises. 

What does Ascension Day mean for you?

"At His Ascension our Lord entered Heaven, and He keeps the door open for humanity to enter."

Oswald Chambers

"Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor." - Charles Spurgeon

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Shocked into reality

Start the Marketing Reality Check | TTEC
Some people listen to sound advice because they realise it is best for them to act, but others may need to be shocked into reality. In line with this statement, I think some Proverbs are written to create a 'jarring image' in the mind of the hearer, that hopefully they will listen and respond appropriately. Take these two for example:

"It is better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to meet a fool doing foolish things." - Proverbs 17:12

"Starting a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before a fight breaks out." - v.14

What do you think? Are you the kind of person who prefers to listen at the first warning bell, or do you need to be shocked into reality?

"Fools measure actions, after they are done, by the event; wise men beforehand, by the rules of reason and right. The former look to the end, to judge of the act. Let me look to the act, and leave the end with God." Joseph Hall

"The fool wanders, a wise man travels." - Thomas Fuller

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Rumour has it....

Why the spread of a rumour is dangerous? | Globally Recruit

There is one thing I cannot fathom and that is why people intentionally create Fake News. I think you have to be a little egotistical (or crazy) to want to gain a measure of 'fame' from posting misleading stories and gossip that ends up doing a lot of harm. I know that 'bad news' sells and draws attention to the creator of these stories, but in the fragile days we find ourselves in, it is very sad to see how people like to cause trouble.

But, then again, nothing is really new, is it?!

"A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends." - Proverbs 16:27-28

If you read this in the New Living Translation it says:

"Scoundrels hunt for scandal; their words are a destructive blaze.
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends."

It takes a lot of restraint and self-discipline to make sure that all articles we read and stories we post are as legitimate as possible, but it is always worthwhile erring on the side of caution.

“How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.”
― Steve Marabol


“None of it was true but rumors are like germs. They spread and multiply almost in a breath and before you know it, everyone is contaminated.”- C.J. Tudor, The Chalk Man

Living in Grace
D3LM3




Monday, 18 May 2020

2020 Plans?

Sometimes God makes better choices for us than we could have ever
 made for ourselves.  Jennifer Hudson

So how are your plans for 2020 working out so far? Terribly? Disastrously? Okay? Placed on hold?

We had some good plans for this year, but sadly they look like they are not going to happen now. One of those plans involved me flying up for my 30th High School Reunion, which was due to take place this weekend - well, sadly that is cancelled now.

Anyway, when I read through today's Proverb I was reminded how we need to surrender all of our plans and hopes to the Lord.

"Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. 
Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good.
Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place." - Proverbs 16:1-3

What does today's reading mean for you?

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”- Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

"Sometimes God makes better choices for us than we could have ever made for ourselves." - Jennifer Hudson

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Light in your eyes

Proverbs 15:30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a ...
A person's eyes can convey a message even before they have uttered a single sound. Have you ever seen that happen before? When reading through Proverbs today I was looking for words of comfort and hope and I found them in v.30 - it is the light in God's eyes that brings eternal hope to each one of us. Good news is such gift for all of us.  

“Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.
Whoever heeds life-giving correction
    will be at home among the wise.
Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
    but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
    and humility comes before honour. – Proverbs 15:30-33

In these dark days, let us hold onto the hope that comes from knowing Jesus. He is the Good News we need for our hearts and lives.

“The good news is as epic as it gets, with universal theological implications, and yet the Bible tells it from the perspective of fishermen and farmers, pregnant ladies and squirmy kids. This story about the nature of God and God's relationship to humanity smells like mud and manger hay and tastes like salt and wine...It is the biggest story and the smallest story all at once" - Rachel Evans 

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Plans may fail...

Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success ...
According to Proverbs 15, our plans are doomed to fail if we don't get wise counsel from others.

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." - Proverbs 15:22

I am so grateful for godly people in my life, who have offered me wise counsel during my seasons of tough decisions. It is true that when we ask others for help and advice, that they can steer us in the right direction. 

However, there are two things I want to add, as a way of clarifying this proverb. 

1. Even though it is important to seek counsel from many wise friends and family, we are still the ones who have to make the decisions in the end. If I follow someone's advice without truly believing it, then I am going to fall into the trap of blaming those people. 

2. If I consult too many people, I may find conflicting opinions and this can make me even more confused (just think of the President for an example of this). In seeking counsel we should place more weight on the opinions of those we trust the most. Those who love us, will want what is best for us.

What do you think?

"He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other." - Francis Bacon

Living in Grace
D3LM3


Friday, 15 May 2020

Not as it seems

Things are not always what they seem. You can be really fooled by ...

Things are not always as they seem.
This word 'seem' very simply means 'to give the impression of being a certain way' and it can be used in all kinds of different contexts. The important thing for me, is that when I look at a particular object or scenario, it may 'seem' in a certain way to me, but I could be wrong. Let me give you a few examples:

The world may seem to be flat if I look at it from the perspective of a few hundred meters. However, when I look at it from outer space, then I realise that it is far from being flat.

The earth may seem to be stable and not moving at all. However, we know that in fact our planet is constantly moving around the sun and also rotating around it's own axis.

Lockdown may seem to be going on for eternity, but in truth it has only been 50 days!

The writer of Proverbs says it like this:

"There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death." Proverbs 14:12

In following Jesus, we can't always see the bigger picture, but I believe that it is important for us to trust in God's ways and plans. Even if things seem to a mess, we must believe in Jesus' willingness to guide us into the path of peace and righteousness.

Phaedrus - "Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many."

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Thursday, 14 May 2020

The empty Manger

O holy night! | The Cripplegate
We are so accustomed to hearing the word 'manger' only around Christmas time, but in today's reading from Proverbs we note that it pops up again.

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
    but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests." - Proverbs 14:4

What Proverbs is referring to is when there are no animals to work the fields, then the manger/crib/trough will be empty. This is not speaking about the feeding trough of the animals, but rather the collection of the food that is stored in the manger. 

The second half of the proverb then reminds the listeners that when you have oxen to plough the fields, then there will be a harvest in the right season. The strength of the working animals helps the farmers to get their work done and so secure food for their future. There is a lovely synergy between the farmer and his animals. They both depend on each other. 

I couldn't help relating the huge impact of Covid-19 on the ability of people to work at the moment. Although we are slowly moving down the stages of Lockdown, there are still many millions of people who are not able to work. And when there is no one working, then families are experiencing 'empty' mangers.

Let us pray that people are soon able to get back to work and provide the 'harvests' for their families.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Discipline

Proverbs 13:20 Illustrated: "He who walks with the wise grows wise ...
Nothing worthwhile ever comes for free and without some effort. This principle applies to almost all aspects of our lives.

If you want to do well in a sport - you need to train and discipline yourself to achieve your goals.
If you desire to get good grades in your studies, you must put in some hard hours of study.
If you are keen to learn an instrument, you will need to go for lessons and practise, practise, practise.
If you want to become wise, you will need to learn from those who have gone before and be willing to listen to instruction from people who can guide you.

It seems to me that Proverbs 13 is a chapter that keeps gravitating to this idea of discipline, instruction, learning and being willing to grow. Take a read:

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

"Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,
    but whoever heeds correction is honored." - Proverbs 13:18


"Walk with the wise and become wise,
    for a companion of fools suffers harm." - Proverbs 13:20


"A refusal to correct is a refusal to love;
    love your children by disciplining them." - Proverbs 13:24 (Message)


What aspect of your life needs to be more disciplined at the moment?

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Hope deferred

Proverbs 13:12 - Hope deferred makes the heart sick | Tree of life ...

How are you coping with this Covid-19 pandemic? I mean - how are you really doing?
What I am finding the most difficult is that there is no timeline - there is no end goal in mind. I think that I would be able to get my mind around each stage of Lockdown if I knew there was an end to each stage. However, for obvious reasons, there is no timeline for any of us and this is the frustrating part for me.

As I was reading through Proverbs 13 today, this is the verse that stood out for me:

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." - Proverbs 13:12

This is becoming many people's reality at the moment - our hearts are becoming 'sick' in some ways. Many people are struggling with anxiety, depression and mental health is starting to become a real issue for many citizens. Can I ask us to pray for people today who are struggling along these lines. Perhaps you even know of a friend or family member who is wrestling with this right now.

"Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around." - Eugene Peterson (The Message)

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." - Desmond Tutu

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Monday, 11 May 2020

Anti-dote for Anxiety


Proverbs 12:25 - Scripture Printable - Meditations by April

"Anxiety weighs down the heart,
    but a kind word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25

In these days of uncertainty and lots of anxiety, I believe Solomon's words offer us a beautiful anti-dote to help fight off anxiety. The lovely thing about sharing 'kind words' is that anyone can offer a kind word to someone else. 

Who needs your words of encouragement today?

"Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much." - Blaise Pascal

Living in Grace
D3LM3


Sunday, 10 May 2020

The way of fools

Today's Bible Verse: Proverbs 12:15 - Accept the Truth
It amazes me that nothing seems to have changed in the hearts of people for thousands of years. With all our inventions, technology, skills, access to knowledge and ability to master our environment, we are still yet to gain control of the 'person within.' The heart of a person is still swayed by sin and we need the grace of our Saviour to break the chains that bind us. Read these words to see where I am coming from.

"The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." - Proverbs 12:15-19

We still live in a world where the 'way of fools' seems to be lauded as the best way and how reckless words pierce the hearts of innocent people. The only thing that may have changed is that now the 'way of fools' is also posted all over the internet and not just spoken in public.

Let us commit to becoming people of wisdom and Christians who follow the directives of Jesus.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Friday, 8 May 2020

The lost art of Humility


Humility is Hard - A Meditation on Some Aspects of Humility ...
Mother Teresa wrote a lovely piece concerning the character of humility. 

“These are the few ways we can practice humility:
To speak as little as possible of one's self.
To mind one's own business.
Not to want to manage other people's affairs.
To avoid curiosity.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one's dignity.
To choose always the hardest.”

Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living

Perhaps Teresa and Solomon are having a discussion about this in heaven right now. Solomon wrote:

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." - Proverbs 11:2

It is obvious that some people have lost the art of true humility.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Holding my tongue

Inspirational Quotes - Gossip - mother2motherblog
"A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence." - Proverbs 11:13

Living in 2020 it is quite hard to keep things in confidence. Just one slip of the tongue or keyboard and rumours can spread very quickly. Although people in Solomon's day didn't have to be concerned about their social media presence, they were still impacted by gossips and people who loved to spread fake news. 

As Christ-followers we are just as tempted to speak out of turn, but it is wise of us to prove trustworthy and not to be rash with our words. Jesus gives us the best example of this when he remains silent, even in the face of his accusers.

Proverbs 26:20 - "Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down."
 
“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” - Socrates  
 
“Isn't it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” ― Sean Covey 
 
Living in Grace
D3LM3

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Duplicity

Duplicity

"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." - Proverbs 11:3

I believe that one our greatest struggles is be our true selves around other people. There are too many occasions where we live in duplicity - we have one personality (mask) for work, or church, or certain people and then we have another personality when we are with family or even by ourselves. 

We need to remember that God knows us at our worst and yet He still invites us to be part of his Kingdom. We can't fool the Lord - he knows all our pretenses and all the masks that we wear. Coming to Christ with all our honest struggles and brokenness is the only way to approach the throne of God's grace. 

"We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves." - Blaise Pascal

“The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position.” - Leo Buscaglia

Living in Grace
D3LM3