Friday 29 April 2022

Looking through eyes that have cried


"There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried." - Oscar Romero

One of the most moving passages in the scriptures (for me) is where John records how Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. There are so many sermons one can write on this encounter, but the truth is that tells us that Jesus cares and Jesus feels our pain. 

When Jesus looks at a broken world, he sees us, not with eyes of condescension, but through eyes that have shed many tears. 

"My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God" - Job 16:20

Living in Grace


Thursday 28 April 2022

The road to freedom

We all want to experience Freedom. 

Being 'free' can be expressed in a variety of ways - from having the freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom to live and work where we want, freedom to practise our faith and so on. However, what many people forget is that freedom always comes at cost. It is ironic that Freedom is never Free!

"...the road to freedom is via the cross." - Albert Luthuli 

When Jesus died on the cross, God invited humanity to receive his forgiveness and to be set from from the bondage of sin. Our freedom comes at the cost of Jesus' life. 

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36

"Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin." - Acts 13:39

Living in Grace


Wednesday 27 April 2022

Inspired by Tiro

Marcus Tullius Tiro was born a slave around 104 B.C., and lived in the household of Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero for nearly 50 years. Tiro become more than a slave to Cicero - they became close friends and Tiro accompanied him where ever he went. Tiro's role was mainly as a scribe and without his gifted writing skills, we wouldn't have valuable resources concerning the events surrounding Cicero's life. 

Tiro was given the family name of Cicero and thus held the same first names as his owner, even after he was granted his freedom - Marcus Tullius Tiro. One of the greatest legacy's of Tiro was his incredible version of short-hand (Tironian Notes), which lasted for over 1000 years. Some traces of his remarkable skill still lived on into the 17th Century. 

I share these thoughts today, as we celebrate Freedom Day in South Africa on the 27th April. This day is a milestone in our country, as we remember our past and the first democratic elections held in 1994. 

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Galatians 5:1 - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 26 April 2022

Love that will never let me go

"O Love that will not let me go;
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine oceans depths its flow
May richer, fuller be."
  - George Matheson

It is rare to find someone who is willing to love us through the depths and darkness of our shadow selves. Thankfully God is one of these people and He will never let us go. We can never plumb the depths of his love and grace.

Ephesians 3:17-19 - " that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Living in grace

Monday 25 April 2022

The scars are there for a reason

Mark Davis - "I consider it one of the gifts of the Christian tradition that every gospel account of the resurrection includes Jesus' scars."

I find it very moving that Jesus is not afraid of his own scars. He is willing to show them to his disciples, not as a badge of honour, but as I sign of his 'over-coming.' 

We can learn a lot from this action and remember that God is not afraid of our scars either. Whether our scars are hidden or visible, Christ still loves us.

John 20: 27 - Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Living in Grace


Sunday 24 April 2022

In every situation

May the Lord be with you all of your days! - 2 Thessalonians 3:16 eCard -  Free Facebook Greeting Cards Online

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all." - 2 Thessalonians 3:16

There was something about this verse that struck a chord with me this week. It relates to circumstances involving the church in Thessalonica, but it can so easily be speaking into our lives today. As you read through this verse ask yourself how these words offer you hope right now?

Matt Redman -  We can always find a reason to praise. Situations change for better and for worse, but God's worth never changes.

May the Lord be with you today.

Living in Grace


Thursday 21 April 2022

Magnificent failure?

"If Jesus could enter this world and be unflinchingly courageous in this extreme adversity, be such a magnificent 'failure', then I can also live with meaning and love in whatever comes my way." - Eugene Peterson

When we look to Jesus we see in him so many moments of inspiration for our lives. 

We remember that He is our salvation and our strength, but Eugene Peterson offers us fresh insight into something else. When we note that Jesus appeared to be a 'failure' in the public eye, but still showed unflinching courage in the face of his death, I hope we feel renewed encouragement to keeping going. Life can throw us many curve balls, but with the resilience of Christ, we can persevere. 

Mark 16:6 - But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.

Living in Grace


Wednesday 20 April 2022

Moon and Sun

This morning on my run I had the awesome experience of gazing upon the setting full moon. It was still bright enough to make me stop and appreciate it's presence. However, this was only half of the gift. I was also aware of the early morning sun rising over the mountains behind me. It was almost as if I was caught in the beauty of God's creation. Full moon ahead of me and rising sun behind. It was a special moment. 

It is interesting that the scriptures speak of the sun and moon in many places. The skies speak to us of God's glory. 

Psalm 148:3Praise him, sun and moon! Praise him, all you twinkling stars!

Jeremiah 31:35 - It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies...

Living in Grace

Tuesday 19 April 2022

You can't capture it!

I came across this picture when I was busy preparing for the Tenebrae service last week. What struck me about it was that the candle seems to be "captured" in the cage, but the bars can't keep the light from shining through. This is the gist of what I preached on that evening - that even though the Romans and religious authorities tried to hide Jesus' Light, he was still able to shine into the lives of the people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (NLT) (John 1:5)

May the Light of Jesus shine in your hearts and lives today.

Living in grace


Sunday 17 April 2022

The last thing

I came across a very moving quote this week which has added immense depth to my reflections on Easter. It reminds me of the central message of the cross and resurrection.

"Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing." - Frederick Buechner

Paul said the same thing, albeit in a different way:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

May you have a blessed Easter weekend.

He is Risen.

Living in Grace

Friday 15 April 2022

Two trees

Good Friday reminds us of many things relating to the work and person of Jesus. We may hear many sermons or songs this year, but ALL of these will capture the essence of a God who loves us beyond comprehension. 

St Irenaeus – “A tree in Paradise made us Debtors to God. A tree on Golgotha has wiped away our debt.”

Ephesians 1:7 - In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

May you experience the true love of Jesus this year. Our sins are forgiven. 

Living in grace


Thursday 14 April 2022

Unblock our ears

"It is not given to men/women to make God speak. It is only given to them to live and to think in such a way that, if God's thunder should come, they will not have stopped their ears." - A.M. Hunter

Holy week is such a special time for the Christian community, but it is also a time where we pray that the Gospel reaches the hearts and ears of many other people. 

It is my prayer that all of us would be mindful of the things that block the message of God reaching our inner being. God desires to speak to all of us  during this most sacred season. 

Matthew 13:15 - "For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."

Living in Grace


Tuesday 12 April 2022

Friendship in difficult times


The above quote has come up a few times this week and it is a poignant reminder that Holy Week is meant to draw us closer to Jesus and to reflect on the gift of the cross. However, it is also a beautiful opportunity for us to reclaim our friendship with God. Journeying through difficult times together is the true test of friendship.

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends

Living in Grace


Saturday 9 April 2022

Thoughts on relevant leadership

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and as the week progresses we are confronted by different kinds of leadership. We see the political, the religious and then we see Jesus' unique style of servant leadership. It is not hard to draw parallels with the leadership we see all around us today and the varying display of leadership from Jesus' era. The question is always - "which leadership style is the most successful?"

Obviously as a Christ-follower I will be biased, but it is remarkable that we are all still interested in following Jesus, 2000 years later, while very few of us want to become like Pilate, Herod and the Pharisees!?

Luke 22:26 - But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

“We don't need a title to lead. We just need to care. People would rather follow a leader with a heart than a leader with a title”- Craig Groeschel

Living in Grace


Wednesday 6 April 2022

Why even bother with confession?

In reading Nehemiah 9 I noticed how the Israelites took their act of confession seriously. This got me thinking about how we treat the spiritual act of confessing our sins to God. Is there a point? Should we even bother? Then I stumbled upon these insightful words which offer us some guidance.

"TO CONFESS YOUR SINS TO GOD is not to tell God anything God doesn't already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the Golden Gate Bridge." - Frederick Buechner

When we live separate from the Lord we feel the great distance between us and it impacts upon our very being. Confessing our sins creates the bridge over which we can cross to encounter Grace.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 5 April 2022

Whose way is the best?

I was reminded again this week of a wonderful promise of God and how I am often blind to the ways of our Father. When things don't seem to be working out as I think they should, I am easily tempted to feel frustrated and disillusioned. However, God has already given us these words as wise guidance:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Here is another way of putting this same truth.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think. (Eugene Peterson)

My humble advice to us all is to rather trust in God's ways - they are better than our own.

Living in Grace


Monday 4 April 2022

The strain of becoming the butterfly

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was born on the 4th April 1928 and her contribution to the world of poetry, literature and the human rights movement is legendary. This quote teaches us that we so often admire people who look like they have achieved something, or appear to have it all together, but we forget the pain and suffering that took place for them to get to that place. A butterfly would just remain as a moth if it didn't allow the process of metamorphosis to take place. 

How can we apply this to our spiritual lives? Does this mean something for us in this season of Lent? 

If we want to grow into the image of Christ what needs to change in our lives? Could these words of Jesus offer us some insight?

Matthew 18:3 - "And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Living in Grace


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” - Maya Angelou

Sunday 3 April 2022

What matters most

Gary Keller - "Make sure every day you do what matters most. When you know what matters most, everything makes sense."

As I read these words I find myself whole-heartedly agreeing with them, however I must admit that this is not always easy to do. We may know what 'matters most', but there are plenty of other distractions that take our eyes off the important things in life. 

Jesus was very good at keeping his priorities in the forefront of his mind. By spending time in quiet prayer Jesus drew his spiritual strength from his Father long before the pressing crowds started to make their demands of him.

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." - Luke 5:16

What can we do to make sure that we focus on what matters most?

Living in Grace


Saturday 2 April 2022

Facing the bear

"Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly." - Proverbs 17:12

Somehow I had missed this beautiful proverb. It is so true, especially if you consider the consequences of fools who are hell-bent on doing their own wicked things. I think that we would agree, that there are plenty of examples (of fools) around our world at the moment. 

By the way, a bear who has been robbed of her cubs is not a pleasant sight at all. The mother bear's rage would be so violent and aggressive that none of us would want to cross her path. 

So, these wise words teach us that the destruction of a fool is far worse than a heart-broken mother bear.

Luke 6:45 - A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

What do you think? 

Living in Grace