Wednesday 30 June 2021

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Living in Grace


Tuesday 29 June 2021

Re-imagining church

What do you think the church will look like in the future?

I have been asked to share a few thoughts with a group of leaders on what it could mean for us to 'Re-imagine church.' This is with particular influence of the Covid pandemic and how we have all had to do church differently. For the purpose of this blog, I am deliberately choosing to use 'church' with a small "c", as I believe the global Church will take it's lead from the grassroots movements of the local communities of faith. 

As I have start applying my mind to this tough question, my gut response is this: "Our focus in the Christian community will need to be on the small gatherings of Christ-followers, instead of on the bigger worship gatherings." And this is not a bad thing at all - it will just take a shift in our thinking and how we analyse church

Up to about 15 months ago we got drawn into the trap of thinking a church was successful based on three criteria: 

How many people do you have in your church?
How many buildings do you have - what facilities do you have?
What resources do you have? Financial and human resources were a sign of a thriving church.

Is this a fair way to decide if a church is a success or not? If we measured Jesus on these 3 criteria, how would he have scored? He would be seen as a failure, wouldn't he?

Remember that the truest definition of 'church' comes from the Greek word 'ekklesia', which means 'the called out ones' or 'an assembly.' The Church began as a group of people, called out of the world, to recognise Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and then to follow him. 

Sadly, 'Church' has come to mean a physical space and modern dictionaries include this as part of their definition of what a church is. We should remember that the global Church didn't meet in official Church buildings/Cathedrals for nearly 300 years - we managed to do the work of God and follow Jesus without gathering in massive spaces. 

So, for this reason I believe that part of Re-imagining church is going to call us back to our roots. These roots included a few of these key ingredients:

They were small in number; 
undoubtedly filled with the Spirit of God; 
loving each member extravagantly; 
showing compassion to the community;
Mission minded;
living faith and not caught up in systems.

These are just a few of my brain-storming ideas on this topic. I WOULD LOVE to hear some of your thoughts on this. Please take a minute to respond to this question: What will Church look like in the future?

1 Corinthians 12:27 - Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Romans 16:5 - Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Living in Grace

Monday 28 June 2021


When Jesus called the unnamed woman in Mark 5, 'daughter', he was giving her way much more than she could have dreamed of. 

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” - Mark 5:34

From being a nobody - an outcast - someone lost in the crowd, she is now called a “daughter of the living God.” She is given a new name and with that she is given her dignity back.

This is a profound reality for all of us, because there are some days when we feel lost among the billions of people on our planet. We wonder if anyone cares. We may even question if God cares. Today's scripture brings hope to all of us. 

God does care for us.

We are all his sons and daughters.

Living in Grace


Saturday 26 June 2021

The character of a person

Jesus always treated people with dignity. Even if people disagreed with him, or even if Jesus challenged them, he could never be accused of treating people inhumanly. This makes Jesus more than just a good person, this makes him an inspiring leader and a person of deep character. As Simon Sinek comments:

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

Most of the people who approached Jesus for help could offer him very little in return. However, he still treated them with love and respect. 

This is a great challenge for us. Too often we look down on those who can't give us something in return.
How do you feel about this?

James 3:18 - "You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor." (The Message)

Living in Grace

Thursday 24 June 2021

One day at a time

The uncertainty of the present age in which we are living, really reminds us to live 'one day at a time.' Circumstances and situations are constantly changing - we never know what tomorrow may bring. The only certainty we can have is that tomorrow will not be the same as today! 

For this reason I believe in Jesus' words to his followers: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

James said it like this: "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14).

May you know that God will grant you enough grace for today, as we all learn to live simply 'one day at at time!'

"No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time - Bob Parsons 

"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." - Abraham Lincoln

Living in Grace


Taking refuge

Augustine wrote a beautiful prayer, which is recorded in a collection entitled Little Book of Prayers. I pass it onto you and pray that it may bless you today.

"Father, you are full of compassion, I commit and commend myself unto you, in whom I am,
and live, and know. Be the GOAL of my pilgrimage, and my REST by the way.
Let my soul take refuge from the crowding turmoil of worldly thoughts beneath the shadow of your wings; Let my heart, this sea of restless waves, find peace in you, O God. Amen."

Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

May you find your refuge in the shelter of the most high.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 23 June 2021

To live differently

Following Jesus is an invitation for us to live differently. Often we find that we are called to go against the flow or to see the world in a new light. Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36)

In his thought-provoking prayer, Pedro Casaldaliga writes about a similar attitude:

"Against the orders of hate
you bring us the law of love.
In the face of so many lies
you are the truth out loud.
Amid so much news of death
you have the word of life.
After so many false promises, frustrated hopes,
you have, Lord Jesus, the last word,
and we have put all our trust in you.
Alleluia, Alleluia." 

I am grateful that the Lord has the last word, despite what happens all around us.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 22 June 2021

Within, without

What happens when we spend time in the presence of God? Do we hear a still small voice? Do we encounter the living God? Does God inspire us to sing, write, pray or act?

During a time of personal devotion Howard Thurman wrote this response to God's prompting:

"There is a sense of wholeness at the core of man
That must abound in all he does;
That marks with reverence his ev’ry step;
That has its sway when all else fails;
That wearies out all evil things;
That warms the depth of frozen fears
Making friend of foe,
Making love of hate,
And lasts beyond the living and the dead,
Beyond the goals of peace, the ends of war!
This man seeks through all his years:
To be complete and of one piece, within, without." (The Inward Journey)

Which sentence speaks to you today?

Mine is "that warms the depth of frozen fears."

Living in Grace


Monday 21 June 2021

Dark night of the soul

The term 'dark night of the soul' has been used to describe an intense period of spiritual emptiness or longing. It is a phrase that can cover a lot of different aspects, especially relating to the silence of God or even feeling as if we are wandering in the desert of loneliness. 

As we mark the shortest day/longest night (in the Southern Hemisphere) today, I want to ask you how you push through the times of darkness? If you have ever experienced the dark night of the soul, what helped you to hold on during those difficult times?

St John of the Cross believed that it was from these experiences that he encountered the light of Christ. He wrote: In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.

It seems that David also believed that by hanging on, he would eventually crawl out of his dark spaces and encounter the light of God. He says:

"Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy, but I will meditate upon your kindness to this lovely land where the Jordan River flows and where Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar stand." - Psalm 42:6

May you lean on the promises of Jesus as you walk out of darkness into his glorious light.

Living in Grace


Sunday 20 June 2021

Father to the fatherless

Fathers have been getting a lot of bad press over the last while and although there are a number of bad apples in the bunch, there are still many fathers who do an amazing job of loving their kids. 

I guess the same could be said for God in some ways. The image of God as a father has come under pressure in some quarters, but we can't ignore that God reveals himself in many ways just like a perfect father would. There are attributes of God's personality that are surely revealed in both masculine and feminine ways, but the unique gift of the 'father-heart' of God is still a beauty to behold.

On this Father's Day let us hold onto all the best qualities of a father and remember to look for them in the person of Yahweh. 

Psalm 68:15father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Isaiah 22:21 He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah.

Pliny the Elder - "No mortal man, moreover is wise at all moments."

Living in Grace


Thursday 17 June 2021

Remember when we were young

For many of us we have fond memories of our Youth. Sure there would have been some tough times, but on the whole, being young was great. As we reflect on the importance and significance of Youth Day in South Africa I wrestle with finding the right 'ingredients' to pass onto my own children and the youth in our community. We have no idea what the future holds for any of us, but the world seems to be getting more and more complicated with each passing year. 

I came across these words from Franklin Roosevelt, which I feel are a helpful starting point:

"We cannot always build the future for our youth,
but we can build our youth for the future."

I love this. I reminds me that we can instill values and principles in our children that will prepare them for the future, no matter what it looks like. As Christians this obviously means we need to teach them the ways of Jesus and trust that they find their direction, hope and strength from God.

If you have a moment read through Ecclesiastes 12 to see what the teacher said about being young. 

What do you think?

Living in Grace


Tuesday 15 June 2021



"Superficiality is the curse of our age." - Richard Foster

There are many levels on which I agree with Richard Foster's quote. The greatest irony is that we live in a time where we can be connected to people globally in a split-second, yet we still feel alone and isolated. Is this because our modern forms of technology can do nothing to bring about 'deep' relationships. It is easy to have thousands of friends on social media, but which of those friends can you truly be yourself with? 

Of course, superficiality is not new. Even in Jesus' time people could choose to put on a 'mask' in public or tried to hide their true selves from others. Thankfully, Jesus was always able to cut through the facade and to address the real needs of the people. 

Mark 2:8 - Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?

How deep are your friendships at the moment?

Living in Grace


Monday 14 June 2021

It is well with my soul

As we sang this song yesterday I was struck by the great profession of faith that lies behind the deep brokenness in Horatio Spafford's life. It is one thing to proclaim that "it is well with my soul" when things are going great, but to say these words when we are facing great difficulties is the true test of faith.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
May we sing God's praises even when we are facing tough times.
Living in Grace

Friday 11 June 2021

Benefiting others


The quote from Sojourner Truth sums up our attitude to the greater body of Christ. We are all given the great task of caring for each other and working for the benefit of others. There is no such thing as a faith/religion that exists solely for my sake alone. 

2 Corinthians 4:15 - All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

How can we live in such a way to benefit someone in need?

Living in Grace


Thursday 10 June 2021

Tree of Calvary

"O Tree of Calvary,
send they roots deep down into my heart.
Gather together the soil of my heart,
the sands of my fickleness,
the stones of my stubbornness,
the mud of my desires;
bind them all together,
O Tree of Calvary,
interlace them with thy strong roots,
entwine them with the network of thy love."
- Chandran Devansen

Luke 23:33 - "And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left."

Colossians 2:22 - "...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ."

Living in Grace

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Love is risky

"Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." - 1 John 4:11 

What does this mean for you today? 

John gives us the starting point of our expression of love - it is God's love for us. That is the origin.

This is interesting, because usually the world suggests that we love others because of something they have done for us. However, Jesus turns this on its head. He reminds us all that if we wait for someone to love us first, before we love them, we may never get to share our love with anyone. Love is risky.

"True happiness is found in unselfish Love, A love which increases in proportion as it is shared." - Thomas Merton

Living in Grace


Tuesday 8 June 2021

The sponge

"People are like sponges. As we go through life, countless influences impact on our mind and personality, each leaving a definite trace. We constantly absorb new words, ideas, impressions, attitudes, prejudices and preferences." - Unknown

As I came across this quote I was reminded of how Jesus shaped the minds and hearts of his disciples. His pattern was deliberate and intentional. Jesus spoke to the crowds on various matters, but he went into greater depth with his closest followers. It was in these moments that he left a definite trace of Heavenly Grace. 

How has God shaped your life?

Do you see a trace of his heart in yours?

What are you soaking up in your life at the moment?

Matthew 16:24-26 - Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (The Message)

Living in Grace


Monday 7 June 2021

Don't lose heart

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” (1 Samuel 17:32)

It is a reality that most of us face on a weekly basis - we face up to something that seems bigger than us and we start to lose heart. It could a tricky situation, a person, an issue, our health or something similar. Suddenly we become afraid and our 'Goliath' seems to taunt us from across the valley. This is when we need to be reminded of the words of David to Saul...

...let no one lose heart.


Because someone is willing to fight for us. And his name is Jesus.

Let us always remember this. It is true for today, tomorrow and the future!

Living in Grace


Saturday 5 June 2021

Nearer to God

“I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.” - Meister Eckhart

Deuteronomy 5:27 - Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”

Psalm 73:28 - But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

How do you experience the 'nearness' of God?

Living in Grace


Thursday 3 June 2021

It is better higher up


A few of you have asked for a copy of this story that I used in my sermon last Sunday. It is such a beautiful reminder that we have something amazing to look forward to. With Christ in our lives there is always "better higher up!"

The famous preacher D.L. Moody told about a Christian woman who was always bright, cheerful, and optimistic, even though she was confined to her room because of illness. She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, rundown building. A friend decided to visit her one day and brought along another woman -- a person of great wealth.

Since there was no elevator, the two ladies began the long climb upward. When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented, "What a dark and filthy place!" Her friend replied, "It's better higher up."

When they arrived at the third landing, the remark was made, "Things look even worse here." Again the reply, "It's better higher up." The two women finally reached the attic level, where they found the bedridden saint of God. A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled her heart. Although the room was clean and flowers were on the window sill, the wealthy visitor could not get over the stark surroundings in which this woman lived. She blurted out, "It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!"

Without a moment's hesitation the shut-in responded, "It's better higher up." She was not looking at temporal things. With the eye of faith fixed on the eternal, she had found the secret of true satisfaction and contentment. - Our Daily Bread.

Job 36:15 - But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.

Proverbs 23:18 - There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Living in Grace


Wednesday 2 June 2021

Who you can be

It is very easy to allow ourselves to be held back by our mistakes and the sins of the past. I think the devil takes great delight in reminding us of all the times we have messed up. However, Jesus is much more focused on who we are and then completing the healing process that we all need in our lives (it is called the Sanctifying work of the Spirit). 

Simply put - Jesus spends more time focusing on who we can become (in his name), instead of dredging up our past sins. 

"I take no heed what you have been but what you would be." - Margery Kempe

John 12:36 - Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

What do you feel?

Living in Grace


Tuesday 1 June 2021

The questions

"God does not give an answer to all our questions, but, in Jesus, God enters into the heart of the questions." - Leonardo Boff

I am grateful that God is not afraid of my deepest questions. In fact, I think that God invites us to bring all our deepest longings, confusing questions and overwhelming concerns to him. It is in this act of trust that the Spirit then begins to guide us through all of the muck and mire in our lives.

1 Kings 10:3 - Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.

What do you think?

Living in Grace