Sunday 31 October 2021

Which mask today? Why we choose to wear masks to hide our true selves.

I jumped into the car the other morning worrying that I had forgotten my mask. I needn't have worried as there were 3 or 4 masks lying around inside the car, some needing to be disposed of, but others ready for a wash and another day in business. As I reversed out the driveway this thought struck me: 

"Is this how we start our days albeit a little subconsciously? We think about who were are going to meet and then decide which mask we are going to wear? I am off to work so I need to put the "I'm all together" mask on. Or I am off to church so let me put the "deeply spiritual" mask on? Or we are going out to be with acquaintances so the most suitable mask will be the "I am fine" mask. Is this how we live our lives?"

The trouble with living like this is that we get caught up in changing the masks all the time, until eventually we wear the wrong mask at an awkward time and suddenly we feel exposed. We can't keep up the pretence forever.

I am thankful that God knows who we are even before we put the masks on and that Jesus doesn't require us to pretend when we come to him. We are invited to come 'as we are' and God will embrace us in that moment. 

Joshua 7:19 - “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honour him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

Genesis 28:15 - "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Living in Grace


Wednesday 27 October 2021

At home

The old saying states that "home is where the heart is!" I think we all understand the sentiment of this and it makes complete sense. When Paul writes to the Church in Ephesus he puts a spin on this when he says: "I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him" (Ephesians 3:17)

Eugene Peterson adds a more homely tone to this verse: "that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in."

As you go about your tasks today, may you open the door of your heart to Him and that you would give Jesus a home in your life.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 26 October 2021

Waiting on God...

It is impossible to reach a milestone in your life - for example like our church Centenary - without thinking of the 'what next' question? We take very little time to savour the joy of a moment before we start thinking of what lies down the road. While this is a good practise in some respects, it does make us a slave to our own agenda and sense of timing. Waiting on God is a hard discipline to get right.

“Wait on the Lord" is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.” - J.I.Packer

Isaiah 40:31 - "...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Living in Grace


Monday 25 October 2021

Choosing a moment of silence


If anyone needed a reason to have a moment with the Lord as a form of devotion or quiet time, then this quote gives us one: "We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God" - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Too often I find that before I have hit the ground running there is already a cacophony of noise blaring for my attention. Being silent before the day begins (and as it closes) is a brilliant way of allowing God to speak to us.

Mark 6:32 - So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.

Living in Grace


Sunday 24 October 2021

Time to Celebrate

We had a wonderful time of celebration today as we marked the Centenary of our church community. It is the first time I have been part of a Centenary as a minister and I found it to be a beautiful moment. One of the great delights was getting together with so many people from our community to worship God and to fellowship with one another. Having the worship service outside was a risk, but the weather was almost perfect. We felt truly fortunate and blessed for this great gift. 

This has been the first time in nearly 2 years we have been able to get the whole community together and the sense of relief and joy in the celebration was tangible. I think that this is something every community has missed during Covid and something we need to make space for in the future. I think this is what kept the Israelites focussed despite their tough circumstances - they were able to get together to honour God, to feast together and to laugh and sing. 

Moses answered, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.” - Exodus 10:9

Luke 15:24 - For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

How are you able to Celebrate with your family, friends and Church community?

Living in Grace

Thursday 21 October 2021

Pessimist? Optimist?

Are you more of an Optimist or a Pessimist?

Before you answer my question, read these words from Helen Keller and see if her words make a difference to your answer.

"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars,
or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."

I believe that when our optimism is coupled with Faith in Jesus Christ it becomes an incredible force for good. Optimism can get us so far, but trust in the power of God is the real difference.

Galatians 1:10-12 Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or court favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ. (the Message)

Living in Grace

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Definition of the Soul

"No one can give a definition of the soul. But we know what it feels like. The soul is the sense of something higher than ourselves, something that stirs in us thoughts, hopes, aspirations which go out to the world of goodness, truth, and beauty. The soul is a burning desire to breathe in this world of light and never to lose it - to remain children of the light." - 'Reverence For Life', 1933.

In answering this really complex issue of the soul, I think that Albert Schweitzer gives us a great starting point. It is our soul that connects with the heart of God and inspires us to remain as Children of God. None us of knows that the soul actually looks like, but we know it is there.

Deuteronomy 4:29But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

What are your thoughts on the Soul? How have you been able to understand it?

Living in Grace


Tuesday 19 October 2021

Out of the shadows

Shadows in Cinema: A Complete Guide to Using Shadow in Narrative Filmmaking  & Video Projects • Filmmaking Lifestyle

Most of us reading these words are familiar with the idea of the Incarnation - God becoming flesh and living amongst us. Sadly, this idea loses its magnitude in the fog of our religious language and rhetoric. This morning I was reading these words from Leonardo Boff and the image of the Incarnation struck home again:

"God has left the resplendent shadows of an inaccesible abode and now draws near the murky light of the human race. God enters the conflict, takes up the cause of the conquered and the marginalised against the mighty...the mercy of God is not reserved for the end time alone."

Question: Why would God leave the glorious light of His abode to come close to the dingy light of planet earth?

Answer: For us. 

John 1:14 - "And Christ became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of loving forgiveness and truth."

Living in Grace 



Monday 18 October 2021

Cherubim - What comes to mind?

"The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake." - Psalm 99:1

When we read about the cherubim in Psalm 99 what kind of 'being' comes to your mind? Angelic? Baby-faced? Peaceful?

If any of these comes to your mind, then I would have to agree with you. However, we would all be very wrong! According to biblical scholar Robert Alter, cherubim "are not the dimpled darlings of Christian iconography but fierce mythological beasts - with the body of a lion, large wings and a human face..."

So, as we picture the Lord sitting between these incredible beings, now we know why the earth will shake and tremble. 

Question: What part of God's personality leaves you feeling a little bit of 'holy fear'?

Living in Grace

Sunday 17 October 2021

Thoughts from C.S. Lewis

As we begin a new week, it is often good to reflect on the wisdom of those who have gone before us. One of the authors that inspires me is C.S. Lewis. In these 2 quotes he offers us some beautiful insight and food for thought.

"Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties."

"We all agree that forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have to practice it."

John 14:1 (Living Bible) - “Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me."

May God bless you today. May you find the peace of Christ in your heart and mind. 

Living in Grace


Thursday 14 October 2021

The least

"Loving as he loves,
Helping as he helps,
Giving as he gives,
Serving as he serves,
Rescuing as he rescues,
Being with him twenty-four hours,
Touching him in his distressing disguise."
- Mother Teresa

These words of Mother Teresa reminded me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

This is a great challenge for all of us as Christ-followers - our goal is to love, help, give, serve, rescue and reach out to all who need it.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Being happy

Happiness is an elusive thing. We search long and hard for it, but we seldom find it. Perhaps it is because happiness is just an overflow of a deeper emotion - Joy. 

And Joy is not an emotional we can create ourselves, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. So, having said all this, maybe searching for happiness should really begin in the quiet moments with God. As we discover the Spirit of Joy, this will spill over into the happiness we seek. What do you think?

Psalm 21:6 - You have endowed him with eternal happiness. You have given him the unquenchable joy of your presence.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 12 October 2021

End or beginning?

"What the caterpillar calls the end of life, the master calls a butterfly." - Richard Bach

This lovely quote reminds me of the different view on life that God gives to us. The resurrection may have seemed the end to all the disciples, but to the Father it was just the beginning of the greatest miracle ever! I am challenged to view my life from the stand point of the Master and not from the world. What the world may call the end, God could be shouting 'let us begin!'

Job 8:7 Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.

Living in Grace


Monday 11 October 2021

The discovery of God

Richard J. Foster Quote: “The discovery of God lies in the daily and the  ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God  in...”

"The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find Him at all." - Richard J. Foster

Thank you for being patient with me as I took a week to be with my family. It was a much needed break. 

These words from Foster reminded me today that too often we seek God only in the spectular and so we miss out encountering God in the ordinary things of life. I believe that God is present with me always, but it is my choice to open my eyes to see his splendour.

1 Chronicles 16:7 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.

Living in Grace