Tuesday 31 May 2022

Acts of kindness never die

"Acts of kindness never die. They linger in the memory, giving life to other acts in return." - Jonathan Sacks

I have observed 2 things recently: 

1. Our world lacks a lot of kindness. Sure, there are some people who have the gift of pushing through the negativity, but we could all do with more kindness around us. 

2. Kindness stirs a response in us - it usually makes us want to also show kindness to others.

Romans 2:3-4 (The Message) - God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Colossians 3:12 - So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

What is your response to this quote? 

Please drop me a line if you get a moment - I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories of kindness. 

Living in Grace


Monday 30 May 2022

Haste versus Hurry - is there a difference?

"Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry because I never undertake more work than I can go through with calmness of spirit." - John Wesley

I confess that Mr Wesley's words had me scurrying for the dictionary to try and see if there is a difference between 'haste' and 'hurry.' In most of the dictionaries there is very little difference between the two terms, although if I were to try unpack what John Wesley's intention, it could be something like this:

  • To be in haste (urgency of movement) may relate to sharing the Gospel with those in need, fully aware of the time constraints and the urgency of this task. There is no time to waste.

Whereas, when my life is in a hurry, there is a sense of being out of control and perhaps being a little side-tracked by the myriad of tasks on my plate. To hurry is "to do things quicker than normal" - thus implying less focus.

What do you think? If you know a better definition, please let me know. Maybe there is no difference between the 2!?

Anyway .....

My point is this: "We should be in tune with the Holy Spirit as we go about our tasks. He will lead us and give us capacity to complete all the important things in our lives."

Psalm 38:21-22 - Don’t dump me, God; my God, don’t stand me up. Hurry and help me;

Living in Grace

Sunday 29 May 2022

Unpicking the lock

Charles Spurgeon - “He who made the lock knows well what key will fit it.”

Charles Spurgeon reflects on how God knows what is the best way to 'unpick' the lock of our hearts. In the story of Lydia in Acts 16, God uses the words of Paul and Silas to reach her and to bring her the good news.

"As she (Lydia) listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying." - Acts 16:14

Has God managed to unpick your heart or have you hardened your heart to his voice?

Living in Grace


Saturday 28 May 2022

Nothing in half measure

There are some days when we wonder why we don't give more to God. And perhaps there are also a few moments when we think that God is holding out on us. Well, according to E.M. Bounds, God never does anything in half measures, so perhaps the problem lies with each one of us? 

"Jesus Christ stands as the illustration of God's word and its unlimited goodness in promise as well as in realization. God takes nothing by halves. He gives nothing by halves. We can have the whole of Him when he has the whole of us." - E.M. Bounds

Exodus 19:8 - They all responded in unison, “We will certainly do everything he asks of us.” Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

 Are you able to give God your 'ALL' today?

Living in Grace


Wednesday 25 May 2022

Prayer is the practice of love

In her book LEFT TO TELL, Immaculee Ilibagiza, writes about how she survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994, where she also lost her whole family. What is even more remarkable about her story is that for 91 days (3 months) she and 7 other women lived in a small bathroom, not knowing when her enemies would come for her. They were graciously fed a few scraps of food by a kind neighbour, who had taken the risky decision to hide them in his house. Her story is life-changing. 

In part of the the book, she wrote a lovely prayer, which is even more profound when you know her testimony. She says: 

“Prayer is the practice of love.

It can change the world.

It sounds so simple, but it is true.

Hold on to hope and find peace in your heart.

Put your trust in God.”

Psalm 9:12He does not ignore the prayers of men in trouble when they call to him for help.

May we all hold onto hope in our troubled world.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 24 May 2022

What will it take? - a brief reflection on our own Aldersgate experience.

Today is marked as Wesley Day - the day that John Wesley had his heart 'strangely warmed' at a church service in Aldersgate street. A lot has been written about his experience and I am sure that you have even heard a sermon on this topic before. However, today I want to make 3 brief observations on Wesley's Aldersgate experience and why I think it's important for us to chew on his watershed moment.

1. Apparently John Wesley went 'unwillingly' to the service that evening. In other words, he was not keen to go - he probably could have come up with many reasons why he couldn't attend, but he still went! It was his personal commitment to worship that put him into a place where God's spirit changed his life. How does this challenge us? What blessings could we be missing out on if we only go to worship when we feel like it?

2. John Wesley was already an Ordained priest by the time he went to the service on the 24 May 1738 - in fact, he had been a priest for 10 years already. This shows me that he was open to the work of the Spirit in his life - he didn't have an arrogance that assumed he knew everything. God is always willing to work in the lives of people who surrender to him.

3. Wesley's experienced energised him to serve God in new ways. He continued to serve within the Anglican Church, but he was passionate about preaching the Gospel in ways that hadn't been done before. When we encounter God, the Spirit moves us out of our comfort zone, for the sake of God's kingdom. We need to pray for the courage to be obedient.

May your heart be strangely warmed today.

Living in Grace


Monday 23 May 2022

Trouble - blessing or curse?


"Trouble proves a blessing or a curse, depending on how it is received and treated by us. It either softens or hardens us. It either draws us to prayer and to God drives us away. The sun can either soften the wax or harden the clay. The sun can either melt the ice or dry out moisture from the earth." - E.M. Bounds

 There is something so profound in these words from E.M. Bounds. He was such a man of deep prayer and wisdom, that I imagine him using the 'troubles' in his life to draw him closer to Jesus. I also love the way he reflects on the power of the Sun - that it has the strength to melt the wax, as well as, harden clay.

So, as you are reading these words today, what do you feel about 'Trouble?'

2 Corinthians 4:17 - For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

 Living in Grace


Sunday 22 May 2022

Quest for happiness

Is happiness something that we will always find elusive ... or are we looking in the wrong places? Here are some interesting thoughts on happiness. 

Stormie Omartian – “We will never be happy until we make God the source of our fulfilment, and the answer to our longings. He is only one who should have power over our souls.”

Ecclesiastes 2:26 - To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness."

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ - Matthew 25:23

“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.”
― Jane Austen

What will it take for us to be happy today?

Living in Grace

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Don't let them out of your sight

"My child, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."
- Proverbs 3:21-24

What things of value do you try and keen within your sight? 

Is wisdom and understanding on that list?

I find it interesting that Proverbs teaches us that we will sleep soundly when we start by keeping wisdom and understanding close at hand. There is a lot of truth in this.

"A man only becomes wise when he begins to calculate the approximate depth of his ignorance." - Gian Carlo Manotti

Living in Grace

Tuesday 17 May 2022

So little time

In her book, The Quotidian Mysteries, Kathleen Norris reflects on our universal lament of how little time we all seem to have. She argues that it is not the time that is the big issue, but rather how we reflect during the 'hours' of everyday. She writes:

“The often heard lament, “I have so little time,” gives the lie to the delusion that the daily is of little significance. Everyone has exactly the same amount of time, the same twenty—four hours in which many a weary voice has uttered the gospel truth: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Mt 6:34, KJV). 

But most of us, most of the time, take for granted what is closest to us and is most universal. The daily round of sunrise and sunset, for example, that marks the coming and passing of each day, is no longer a symbol of human hopes, or of God’s majesty, but a grind, something we must grit our teeth to endure. 

Our busy schedules, and even urban architecture, which all too often deprives us of a sense of the sky, has diminished our capacity to marvel with the psalmist in the passage of time as an expression of God’s love for us and for all creation: It was God who made the great lights, whose love endures forever; the sun to rule in the day, whose love endures forever; the moon and stars in the night, whose love endures forever. (Ps 136: 7—9, GR)

How can this change the way we think about our lives and encountering God in the ordinary moments?

Living in Grace


Monday 16 May 2022

Idolising the self

We live in an age where we are constantly posting updates, pictures and information online - most of this may pertain to others, but a lot can revolve around ourselves. While, there is nothing wrong with this, we need to be careful (as Christians), that we don't fall into a trap of self-idolatry. The line is very fine, but the real test is whether we find we 'need' the affirmation more and more, or whether it's just good to stay in touch with others. 

What sparked these thoughts was a line that I read today in The God of Surprises by Gerard W. Hughes - "To repent and believe the Good News is to turn away from self-idolatry and to let God be God in us..." 

Jesus calls us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, so we can see that we are supposed to love ourselves on one level, but self-idolisation is crossing the line. 

Acts 17:16 - While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.

Any thoughts?

Living in Grace


Sunday 15 May 2022

God's timing

Many of us have a constant need to know what's going on and when! However, LIFE has an uncanny way of keeping these two things a mystery for us. Perhaps this is why Jesus reminded his disciples of this powerful truth:

Acts 1:7 (Message) - 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.

We need to be content with the gift of the Spirit (which should never be seen as the second prize by-the-way). He will lead us into the knowledge of all things. Timing is the Father's business.

As I write these words, I am busy recovering from my first case of Covid, so these words are intriguing for me. Is it just a case of 'God's timing' or 'it was eventually gonna happen?'  

Makes one think, doesn't?

Living in Grace


P.S. I apologise for the lack of blogs over the last couple of days, but I have barely made it off the bed. I appreciate the prayers and support. Stay safe. 

Tuesday 10 May 2022

What are we defined by?

Whether we like it or not, each one of us is defined by something. We can be defined by our upbringing, or our education. We can be defined by our faith or friendships. We can also be defined by our careers and the context in which we find ourselves. 

When Paul writes to the church in Colossae he has some words of encouragement for them and it may help us to understand his intention, especially in light of 'what defines us'.

"Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ." - Colossians 3: 11(The Message) 

Once we are "in Christ" this is what should be our defining criteria. 

What do you think?

Living in Grace


Monday 9 May 2022

The donkey in the Lion's skin

Aesop, the ancient storyteller, told this remarkable fable: 

"Once upon a time, a donkey found a lion's skin. He tried it on, strutted around, and frightened many animals with his new appearance. Soon a fox came along, and the donkey tried to scare him, too. But the fox, hearing the donkey's voice, said, "If you want to terrify me, you'll have to disguise your bray." 

Aesop's moral: Clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away.

This fable still finds value in today's context. How many times do our politicians try to disguise themselves with titles, propaganda and staged photoshoots, but in the end, their words still give them away?

"Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." - Proverbs 18: 2

"The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives." - Proverbs 18:7

This challenge is not just for the politicians of this world, it is also for ourselves. We may think that by putting on airs of respectability we may win a few supporters, but it is our words that give prudence to our true characters. 

Living in Grace

Sunday 8 May 2022

A prayer for Mother's

I have come across a lot of different prayers and thoughts for Mother's Day, but this is one that I really found meaningful. I have taken the liberty of changing a few words and lines, but I give the full credit to Rebecca Barlow Jordan for the majority of the inspirational words.

"Dear Lord, Bless every mother, grandmother and women with the finest of your spiritual blessings today. Confirm in her heart and spirit the work of her hands and the love that she has freely given to the children and people under her care. Validate her worth daily so she has no doubt that she is loved, valued, and cherished in your eyes.

Create in her a deep sense of your protection and trust, so that worry and fear disappear as she places her loved ones into your care. Let her know that every prayer she has prayed and every encouraging word she has spoken have been transformed into sweet, fragrant offerings.

Whisper deep within her spirit the sweet words she longs to hear from you. Show her that nothing can ever separate her from your love. Help her to nestle daily into the promises of your Word, standing with faith on the things you declare are true. Let her know that you reward faithfulness, and that true success doesn’t lie in accomplishments or accolades.

Let her rest in knowing that she has done all she can and that she and those she loves truly belong to you. Bless her with a servant spirit so she can teach her own the joy of hearing one day, “Well done!”

Let her joy be contagious; let her passion be pure; and let her life overflow with all the blessings she deserves—on special days, and on every day of her life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. (Adapted from Rebecca Barlow Jordan)

May all mothers, grandmothers, and women in general, have a blessed day today.

Living in Grace


Saturday 7 May 2022

The Conspiracy of Kindness - changing the world by simply being kind

In his book, “The Conspiracy of Kindness,” Steve Sjogren makes an interesting observation. He states that less than 10% of Christians have the spiritual gift of evangelism, but around 90% have the gift of serving. He then goes on to speak about how we can witness to people through our acts of kindness and service. 

I find this a very thought provoking point, especially in the light of sharing our faith. When we speak to congregation members about sharing our experience of Christ, many people glaze over and become very scared. All the excuses in the book are then put forward as to why they can't evangelise and I fully understand how intimidating it can be. However, every person has the ability to 'serve' someone else and to show kindness. 

Imagine if we all ventured out into the world with the idea of sharing God's love with people through our actions and service?

In Acts 9 we read of a woman named Tabitha, who did exactly that. If you are interested in knowing more about her, then please check out our latest sermon on this remarkable woman. 

Living in Grace


Thursday 5 May 2022

Will there be Good News?


We use the phrase 'good news' in many different contexts today. 

  • Will there be good news about the petrol price?
  • Will there be good news about the war in Ukraine?
  • Will there be good news about Covid?
  • Will there be good news about ......?

When Jesus offered himself to humanity, it was not so much what He could do for us that made it good news, but rather that He was the good news all wrapped up in one remarkable Person.

Luke 4:43 - But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

·       William Loader - "The good news is about bringing life where there is death, love where there is hate, healing where there is brokenness."

Living in Grace


Tuesday 3 May 2022

Leave it all to Him

"He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the Cross, and you will find yourself entirely." - Catherine of Siena

Leaving the real work to the Lord is something we all battle with. We sweat, we strive, we plan and we try to work things out by ourselves. However, all the time, the Spirit of God is wanting to work in our lives and to show us that God cares abundantly.

What do you need to 'leave' to God?

What in my heart must I let go of?

Matthew 8:13Then Jesus said to the centurion, “GoLet it be done just as you believed it would.”

"You are rewarded not according to your work or your time but according to the measure of your love." - Catherine of Siena

Living in Grace