Wednesday 28 February 2024

What will you do with your one extra day?


Every four years we get to celebrate an extra day in the calendar. For those born on the 29th of February they have to wait an awfully long time in between their birthdays, but I am sure that many of them celebrate either side of this mysterious day :) 

As we take a moment to reflect on this unique day, it is rather profound that we get 1 extra day in this leap year - that is a whole extra 24 hours to enjoy life. So, what are you going to do on your extra day? (Or do you just see it as a normal day on the calendar?)

It is interesting that if we asked the question in a different way, we may think about things from another point of view. "What if you only had 24 hours to live - how would you spend that day?" 

I am sure that I wouldn't be sitting on my computer, or watching mindless TV series, or reading the classifieds, or worrying about petty matters. We would probably want to spend the extra day with the most important and valuable people in our lives! 

What do you think? 

Psalm 139:16 - Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 27 February 2024

A great cause

Sometimes we forget that the human heart is stirred by the call to a great cause! Perhaps we have even been a respondent to a huge request, that others thought was a little crazy. According to legend, when the Italian Patriot, Garibaldi appealed for recruits, he used words similar to these:

“I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor provisions:
I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death.
Let him who loves his country in his heart, and not with his lips follow me.”

....and people followed him in their numbers! 

In our Lent reflections, let us remember that Jesus calls each of us to follow him, and that our 'Yes' is not a guarantee of comfort, fame, wealth or even applause. Perhaps the only confirmed guarantee we are given, is that Christ is with us always.

This 'great cause' we are invited to become a part of, has already outlived all political heroes, super-powers, governments and entities. Belonging to the Kingdom of God, holds the promise of eternity, and this is how Jesus invites us to be a part of this:

Luke 9:23 - Then he said to all, “Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me!

Living in Grace

Monday 26 February 2024

Contemplations for Lent

Thomas Merton was a prolific author, speaker, mystic, poet and theologian. His writing provokes us to reflect deeply on our faith experience and our journey with Christ. I feel that the liturgical season of Lent is a good time for us to use some of his words as a catalyst for our own contemplations: 

"In a world of noise, confusion and conflict it is necessary that there be places of silence, inner discipline and peace. In such places love can blossom. "

"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy."

“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds.”

Luke 17:11-13 - "As they continued onward toward Jerusalem, they reached the border between Galilee and Samaria, 12 and as they entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, sir, have mercy on us!”

Living in grace

Sunday 25 February 2024

Letting someone else lead us

We are not good at letting someone else lead us. We usually like to be in control and to call the shots. Jesus makes it clear, that when it comes to being a disciple, we must choose to let him lead us. There is no other way:

34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “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 saving yourself, your true self. (Mark 8 - Eugene Peterson)

Thought: What do you find hard about sitting in the passenger seat? 

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell

Living in Grace


Thursday 22 February 2024

Please Remember and then please Forget!

"Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good."
- Psalm 25:7-8

These words of David are beautifully honest but may also seem a little confusing at first. He is asking God to remember, but then he is asking God to forget. What is going on in his mind?

In truth, we imagine David standing before the Lord, about to be scrutinized and judged. David begs God to remember God's love and mercy - to focus on all the compassionate elements of his nature. 

And then at the same time he asks God to forget David's sins, especially the sins of his youth. Not to hold them against them and to offer his unfailing love towards him. 

Thought: I am grateful that God chooses to forget our sins, because of the work of the Cross. God looks upon his Son, Jesus and chooses mercy.

"Remember your compassion and grace, Adonai;
for these are ages old.
Don’t remember my youthful sins or transgressions;
but remember me according to your grace
for the sake of your goodness, Adonai." - Complete Jewish Bible

Living in Grace

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Learning to know when to speak.

So, as much as we need to learn the discipline of Silence, we also need to hold in balance the ability to discern when it is the right time to speak. As I quoted yesterday, Ecclesiastes 3 says:

"a time to be silent and a time to speak." (v.7)

I hope that Lent helps me to discern when the right time to speak would actually be! It is so hard to know when this really is, because I am often tempted to speak in the moment. Our world encourages everyone to have an opinion and many people 'speak' their minds without really engaging their brains, which can be disastrous. 

If we look at the example of Jesus, we notice how he remained silent in some crucial moments, but at other times, he was willing to speak with great authority. Here are two examples:

"But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” - Mark 14:61

"The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life." - John 6: 63

Question: Do you have a process that helps you to discern when to speak and when to be silent? How can we get better at learning this discipline?

Living in Grace


Monday 19 February 2024

Learning to live in silence.

The Desert Fathers (and Mothers) believed that Silence was one of the safest ways to God. They believed that our words often got us into more trouble than we bargained for, and so remaining silent was a discipline worth pursuing. One of these Desert Father, Arsenius remarked:

"I have often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent."

Wow, how true are those words!? Remember that time that you blurted out those words and immediately started to regret them? 

The writer of Ecclesiastes also knew that there was an appropriate time to be silent and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3).

Lent is one of those seasons, where we are trying to pay attention to the voice of God. In tuning into the words of the Spirit, we will need to practice holding our tongues at times.

Thought: How easy/hard is this for you to do?

Living in Grace


Planted or buried?

"Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think that you've been buried, but you've actually been planted." - Christine Cane

John 12:24 - "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

On our journey to the agony of the Cross, let us remember that Jesus's death and resurrection, changes the way we look at our troubles and losses. What may seem like a loss to us, could just be the foundation of something marvelous in the future. 

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal." - Eugene Peterson

Living in Grace


Sunday 18 February 2024

A prayer for Lent

I really enjoy this season of Lent, as I feel that it heightens my awareness to the things of God. Of course, this is not something that we have to only experience in the Lenten season, but we can encounter this at any time during the year. However, there is something profound in knowing that millions of other Christians are also praying, seeking, reflecting and listening for the voice of God.

In reading Psalm 25, I was impressed by the honesty of David's prayer in these 2 verses:

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,” - Psalm 25:4-5

These 3 words give us a clue into the heart of David's faith and willingness to surrender to the sovereignty of God. Even as a King himself, David was humble enough to ask God for wisdom and strength. 

  • Show me
  • Teach me
  • Guide me
“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person's seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.”- Elisabeth Elliot

Living in Grace


Saturday 17 February 2024

I trust in you

As we take a moment to reflect on Psalm 25:1-2, we note David's resolve to place his life into the hands of God. I don't believe this was a once off event for him, but rather a renewal of his commitment, probably as a result of a crisis in his life.

"Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! – NLT

  • As you and I go deeper into Lent, perhaps we could think on the areas of our lives that we haven't surrendered to God as yet? 
  • Are there circumstances in our lives, where we are deciding to place our full trust in God's grace?

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” - Ernest Hemingway

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have faith.” ― Paulo Coelho

Living in Grace


Thursday 15 February 2024

A service for Valentines Day?

While fetching one of my kids yesterday, I explained that I needed to drop him off at home quickly, so that I could rush to the evening service. Without thinking, he replied: "Since when did we start having services for Valentine's Day!?" 

After chuckling to myself, I told him that it was not a service for Valentine's Day, but rather an Ash Wednesday Service. To which he responded: "Oh yes, I forgot!" 

And so, in our brief conversation, we stumbled across some powerful realizations:

1. Ash Wednesday is NOT like Valentine's Day in many ways, but it does celebrate the greatest act of Love ever revealed to humanity. 

2. Love is not something we only 'speak of', but rather what we show with our actions. "For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son..." (John 3:16).

3. Lent is an important time in our Christian journey, precisely because our lives are so hectic, that we easily 'forget' to lean into the promises of God.


What are taking up (or giving up) in Lent, in order to help you remain focused on Jesus Christ?

Living in Grace


Tuesday 13 February 2024

A season of reflecting

As we begin a season of reflection, fasting, listening and praying, it is good to remind ourselves why observing Lent is a helpful practice. Of course, it is not something that we have to do, but I always find deep value in marking this period with intentionality. 

For those who argue we don't need to observe Lent, I simply respond by suggesting that focused prayer, fasting, scripture reading and meditation, are all biblical practices that help us to commune with our Lord. Whether we do it in this season of the year or later on, it doesn't really matter. However, in my experience, Lent is a precious time that prepares my heart for the life-changing message of the Cross and Resurrection. 

"Lent is a call to renew a commitment grown dull, perhaps, by a life more marked by routine than by reflection." – Joan Chittister

"The real question of the Lenten season is how will I clear out the junk and garbage in my life so that I can be restored to God in some fresh way? What are the disciplines that will open up space for God to create a clean heart and new spirit in me?" - Ruth Haley Barton.

"Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him." - 1 Chronicles 16:11

May this Lenten season be a period of renewal, grace and a deepening of your faith.

Living in Grace

Monday 12 February 2024

Tuesdays with Morrie

I have just finished re-reading Mitch Albom's classic, Tuesdays with Morrie. In this moving story, Mitch connects with his old University professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is slowly dying with Lou Gerig's disease. As they meet together for these remarkable conversations, Mitch discovers so much more about life, death and everything in-between. 

As one reads deeper into the book, you also begin to wrestle with the bigger questions of life and how one can live a meaningful life.

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” - Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Colossians 1:10 - "so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."

Living in Grace


Wednesday 7 February 2024

Do all that you do with love

I found the following words from Therese of Lisieux to be moving, as well as challenging:

"Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love."

"Perfect love means putting up with other peoples shortcomings, feeling no surprise at their weaknesses, finding encouragement even in the slightest evidence of good qualities in them." - Therese of Lisieux

1 John 4:18 - There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I am away on a seminar for this week, so if you don't receive a blog for a few days, this is the reason why. God bless you and thanks for your support of this ministry.

Living in grace


Tuesday 6 February 2024

Fixing your eyes


If we want to walk in straight line (relatively) it is best to have a fixed point to aim towards. The temptation to go off course is great, unless we can keep our eyes on this point. 

“No ploughman ever ploughed a straight furrow looking back over his shoulder.” (William Barclay)

As we walk into the future may we keep our eyes on Jesus - he is the best 'fixed' point we could ever as for.

Hebrews 12:2 - "... fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Living in Grace


Monday 5 February 2024

What is your "but"?

What is your "but"? 

Just before you think I have lost the plot, let me explain by sharing this scripture: 

"Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:61-62

One of the people that Jesus asked to follow him, seemed interested, but needed to go and do something other things first. His reply could have been summed up as the "yes, BUT....." response! 

In my experience, when our hearts are fully committed to something, they rarely add a 'but' into the equation. They are willing to go, no matter what?

Question: What is your 'but' at the moment? What is stopping us from being fully committed to Jesus?

Living in Grace


Saturday 3 February 2024

Leader or follower?

When we look around the world at the moment, we see a dearth of good leadership. It is true that we need inspirational leaders in order to get us into a better place, as a planet, but I feel that we also need to be faithful followers of God, in order to stay focused on higher values and principles. 

The following story says a lot about us as people, at the moment: 

S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" 

Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. 

To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower." - S. I. McMillen.

Jesus called us to follow him first, before we ventured off into our own version of leadership. 

"He said to another man, “Follow me.” - Luke 9:59

Living in Grace


Thursday 1 February 2024

Climb into my skin


"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ...until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

When Atticus Finch spoke these words in Harper Lee's classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, they resonated with many of us. How often have others spoken about us as if we didn't exist, or their unkind words have left us feeling wounded? 

When someone wants to truly understand our pain, or our unique circumstances, they are simply saying: "I am willing to climb into skin and live your life for one day! Then I will truly understand what you are going through!"

This is truly a gift - to have someone who is willing to do this, is a great blessing.

On the other hand, for us NOT to be willing to do this for others is very tragic. We imply that their lives don't matter and that we have not got the time of day for them.

Thankfully Jesus showed us a different road to walk.

"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right. " - James 2:8

Thought: Have you walked around in anyone's skin lately?

Living in Grace


Wednesday 31 January 2024

Diving in the deep end!

How far would we go to follow the call of the Lord? This is always a difficult question to answer, as we all come from different backgrounds and experiences. However, Elisha was faced with a difficult decision and in the end, he decided to dive in at the deep end!

1 Kings 19:19-21 - So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the ploughing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant."

The Complete Jewish Bible describes verse 10 in this way: "He left the oxen, ran after Eliyahu and said, “Please let me kiss my father and mother good-bye; then I will follow you.” He answered, “Go; but return, because of what I did to you.”

Thoughts: What do you think convinced Elisha that this was what he needed to do?

Living in Grace


Tuesday 30 January 2024

Describing beauty

Leading Christian apologist and scientist, John Lennox, says:

"Describing beauty is almost impossible because we perceive it, rather than describe it. If you look at a Rembrandt painting and start to try and describe what the beauty is you see, your words sound absolutely pathetic."

Perhaps this is why we are sometimes lost for words, when we see the beauty of Creation all around us. Beauty is there to be witnessed, perceived and enjoyed, but we struggle to find adequate words to articulate what we are seeing. 

If you have even seen something truly breathtaking, it is hard to describe this to someone else, even to people you know well. The best way to allow others to enjoy it, is to try and show it them, so they can see it with their own eyes.  

The Psalmist had a very good handle on words, and he described beauty and creation in this way:

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?

Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,
bright with Eden’s dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us stewards of sheep and cattle,
even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
whales singing in the ocean deeps. 

God, brilliant Lord,
your name echoes around the world. 
(Eugene Peterson)

Living in Grace

Monday 29 January 2024

Give me, Good Lord

If you were a few days away from your execution, what kind of prayer would you offer up to the Lord. According to tradition, the following words are part of Thomas More's prayer, which he wrote in 1535, just before he was martyred: 

"... give me, good Lord, a humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable, kind, tender, and pitiful mind with all my works, and all my words, and all my thoughts, to have a taste of Thy holy, blessed Spirit. 

Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity, a love to the good Lord incomparable above the love to myself; and that I love nothing to Thy displeasure, but everything in an order to Thee.

Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with Thee, not for the avoiding of the calamities of this wretched world, nor so much for the avoiding of the pains of purgatory, nor of the pains of hell neither, nor so much for the attaining of the joys of heaven in respect of mine own commodity, as even, for a very love to Thee."

The part of the prayer that really stands out for me today is:

A Full Faith ...
A Firm Hope ...
A Fervent Charity....

What about for you?

Hebrews 5:7 - "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."

Living in Grace

Sunday 28 January 2024

A rudder for the day

"Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” - Mark 1:35-36 (NLT)

When we feel that our 'to-do' list is so long, it may feel counter-intuitive to set time aside for prayer. We may struggle with the temptation to skip our devotional disciplines, so that we can free up time for other demands. However, many faithful Christians would argue that it is precisely because they committed their day to the Lord, that they managed with all their other demands. 

Henry Ward Beecher commented: 

 “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day." 

Clearly, he felt that his time with God helped him navigate through the trials of the day. And we note from Mark's gospel today, that even Jesus needed this time with his heavenly father.

Ellen White – “Jesus was wholly dependent upon God, and in the secret place of prayer He sought divine strength, that He might go forth braced for duty and trial. In a world of sin Jesus endured struggles and torture of soul. In communion with God, he could unburden the sorrows that were crushing him.”

What do you think about this? 

Living in Grace


Friday 26 January 2024

Blessed is ....

At the bottom of my diary this week, I saw the following quote:

"Blessed is the person, who sees the need,
recognizes the responsibility.
and actively becomes the answer." 
- Willam Arthur Ward

These are wise words indeed, but are surpassed by the words of Jesus, who said:

"Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God." - Matthew 5:7-9

Thought: Can we be the answer to someone's need? 

Living in Grace


Thursday 25 January 2024

Love strengthens us

Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church." - 1 Corinthians 8:1-2

As Paul was trying to find common ground in the Corinthians church, especially around the issue of food sacrificed to idols, he made a powerful statement: Love strengthens the Church.

I find it interesting that when we deal with potential issues of conflict, we still try to lean a lot on our 'knowledge' of the issue, instead of seeking Love. Of course, this is a very hard thing to put into practice, but Paul does make a valid point. 

The words of St. Francis came back to me, as I was writing today's reflection:

"O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand..."

What do you think?

Living in Grace

Tuesday 23 January 2024

A thoughtful prayer from Alan Paton


Below is a prayer from Alan Paton. I trust that you will find it helpful for today.

"Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others,
Open my ears that I may hear their cries,
Open my heart so that they need not be without relief.
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak, because of the anger of the strong,
not afraid to defend the poor, because of the anger of the rich.

Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to these places.
Open my eyes and ears that I may, this coming day,
be able to do some work of peace for You."

Habakkuk 3:2 - Lord, I have heard of your renown, and I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work. In our own time revive it; in our own time make it known; in wrath may you remember mercy.

Living in Grace

Monday 22 January 2024

When someone believes in you, it has the power to change your life!

In reading Luke 5 this past weekend, I was reminded of the influence we can have in the lives of others, especially when we believe in their potential. So, why do I say this? Well, take note of these words from Luke, as a starting point:

"When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. 

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. Luke 5:8-11

Simon Peter was very honest about his sinfulness and his lack of faith, yet Jesus sees beyond these faults, to the person that Simon Peter can become. It is almost as if Jesus says to him: 

"Simon, I know who you are, and I know your sin. However, I created you for more than this. Work with me and we will begin to change the world!"

It is little wonder that the disciples left everything to follow Jesus. Who wouldn't want to follow someone who knows your worst secrets and yet still loves you enough to bring you onboard their team? 

Living in Grace

Sunday 21 January 2024

Word for the month .... and maybe the whole year!

I stumbled across this profound Scripture during the week, and I think that this will be my 'Word' for the rest of January, and maybe even for the rest of 2024. I share it with you and pray that it may also encourage you:

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16

It spoke to me in a number of ways:

1. It reminded me that God will lead me, even along unfamiliar paths. There will be plenty of those during this year, I am sure of it!

2. Christ will shine a light on the path and will help me to walk on the uneven paths. The rocky trails will seem a lot smoother, if I learn to walk with Jesus.

3. Jesus will not forsake me. 

May you have a blessed week.

Living in Grace


Saturday 20 January 2024

In the driver's seat

Matthew 16:24 (Message) -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."

The challenge for us all is to allow God to be in the driver's seat and not to shove him out the way. I know that I can be a little bit of a nervous passenger at times, but when I trust the driver, I am very content to sit back and allow them to get me to the destination.

How about you? 

Do you trust God to get you to your final destination?

Matthew 23:10 - Nor are you to let yourselves be called ‘leaders,’ because you have one Leader, and he is the Messiah!

Living in Grace


Thursday 18 January 2024

Pride and Joy

I have seen many 'back to school' photos on social media this week. All of them speak of the excitement and joy of parents as they send their children back to school. Some of these kids are just starting out, while others are ending their school careers. The one thing that is common to all of them, is the sense of love and pride that each parent has for their kids. 

We are reminded in our current Church season of the baptism of Jesus, and we come to a beautiful picture of another proud parent - our heavenly Father. If we read Eugene Peterson's take on Mark 1, you will note that he helps us to see the joy and pride of the Father, as he blesses Jesus.

"At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.” - Mark 1:9-11 (The Message)

Have you ever considered that God would speak those words over your life? We are God's pride and joy. How does that make you feel?

Living in Grace


Wednesday 17 January 2024

The day most people quit!

In a recent blog post by Jon Acuff I was astounded to discover that the 2nd Friday of January is known as Quitter's Day. According to the fitness app Strava, who analyzed over 800 million exercise downloads, it appears that most people quit their fitness goals within 2 weeks of the New Year. 

I can't vouch for the information, but I guess I can understand that many people can't follow through with their best intentions. So, what makes the difference in the lives of those who persevere? Is it just sheer grit, determination, or something more?

As we venture into the heart of 2024 in our Spiritual lives, what will help us not to quit? I don't believe it is just sheer will power that keeps us holding onto our faith; nor can it only be my determination. It has to include something deeper, surely? 

I wonder if it hasn't got something to do with community (small group or Church), encouraging us along the way? And of course, believing in the end goal! Fixing our eyes on Jesus - the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12).

What would you say keeps you going? 

What has helped you in the past?

Let me know your thoughts please.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 16 January 2024

A prayer for our children

As another school year begins, I wanted to write a prayer for my own children. I pray that this may help and encourage you too. God bless.

Dear Lord,

As our children begin another year of school, we pray that you would fill them with confidence, peace and the willingness to learn. 

We pray for their teachers, coaches, mentors and friends, and that each of them would be able to positively contribute to the growth of our kids. 

We acknowledge that not all learning is academic, and that our children need to understand the value of listening to others, coping with disappointment, helping those who struggle, encouraging a wary teammate and, that genuine kindness can break down many barriers.

Gracious God, we ask that you place your great arms of protection over our kids, and that you would give them strength to overcome the obstacles in their paths. 

We also ask, that where we cannot be, that you would keep watch over their lives. 

Give them courage to stand by their faith, principles and convictions. 

Lord, help us to nurture our kids as best we can, and to allow them just enough freedom to spread their wings, but enough guidance to make wise decisions. 

As they begin this new year of studies and adventures, we intentionally place them into your loving care.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Living in Grace


Monday 15 January 2024

Let us hold fast

Certain words we use in the English language sometimes lose their intended meaning along the way - or we associate other things with the original word. 

Take for example the word, FAST. Most of us would assume that this word is relating to the speed of a person or object. Example: That person can run very fast!

However, this word can also be used in a different context, and it can mean something very different. It can relate to something holding very securely to another object. (The child held fast to the ladder). It speaks of how securely we hold onto someone or something. Or it can even mean 'to abstain from food.'

The writer of the Hebrews says: Let us hold unswervingly (fast) to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (10:23)

There are many things that can threaten our faith, and these can erode our ability to hold 'fast' to Christ. The call for us to hold onto Jesus is loud and clear, but we all need encouragement along the way. 

As we move deeper into January, may we resolve to hold fast to Christ.

“That exhortation, ‘Let us hold fast,’ might well be written on the cover of every Christian’s Bible. " - Charles Spurgeon

Living in Grace


Sunday 14 January 2024

It has been torn in half!

Reflecting on the dramatic passage in Matthew 27:50-52, I stumbled upon a brilliant observation from Charles Spurgeon. The scripture speaks of the work of God, as Jesus dies on the cross:

"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

Spurgeon then went on to comment about the curtain (veil) and this is what he wrote:

“For believers the veil is not rolled up, but rent (torn). The veil was not unhooked, and carefully folded up, and put away, so that it might be put in its place at some future time. Oh, no! But the divine hand took it and rent it front top to bottom. It can never be hung up again; that is impossible. Between those who are in Christ Jesus and the great God, there will never be another separation.”

God has paved a way for all of us to enter into the inner sanctuary of his presence. The work of Jesus can't be undone - the curtain is torn, thus making a way for us to enter in. However, we can refuse to enter in, but God still longs for us to commune with him.

Living in Grace