Thursday 30 May 2024

Walking with a limp

I was reading a quote from Brian McLaren, that spoke of 'admitting that we walk with a limp.' It was in the context of speaking of Church Orthodoxy and Faith, but I like the concept he was suggesting. 

How often do we, as Christians, pretend that all is well and that we have all things figured out? We do this to cover up our own questions, fears and failings. It is as if we carry an injury with us, but we are too proud to walk with the limp - we want to give the impression that we are strong and healthy. Yet, that is living a lie.

The longer I serve Jesus, the more I see that indeed I walk with a limp. I am wounded and God is okay with my wounds. I will keep following in the ways of Jesus, even if I walk with a spiritual limp. 

As we reflect on this, we are drawn to the familiar story of Jacob. We find it in Genesis 31:

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip."

If God could walk with Jacob, and still choose him to become Israel (Genesis 32:28), then we are in great company.

Thought: Don't be afraid to walk in the footsteps of Christ, even if your walk is not perfect.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 28 May 2024

A prayer for the Elections in South Africa


As we embark upon another National Election, this is what is on my heart at the moment. These are just a few words that express my prayers for South Africa.

Lord, we pray for our elections in South Africa, and for all involved in monitoring that they are undertaken in a free and fair manner.

We pray that peace would prevail in our beloved land, despite the short-sighted people that seek to be disruptive and divisive.

We pray for all who will vote, believing that our individual vote can make a difference.  

We step forward in hope, trusting that our voices will be heard and that political parties will start to make good on their promises.

Our deepest longing is for trustworthy leadership in South Africa. For men and women who would not bribe us for our votes and then take advantage of their positions for the next 4 years.

We pray for servant leaders, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and help us provide solutions to the myriad of problems we face. (At the moment, it seems that most leaders rather want to roll down their sleeves to protect their Rolex’s and expensive jewellery.)

We pray for a miraculous outpouring of love, grace and unity in our communities. Where people with divergent opinions and political viewpoints, can use our collective humanity to change our world.

We pray for a reawakening in the spiritual lives of all South Africans, so that we would see how Your hand can guide us and lead us into the future.

We pray that Faith, Hope and Love, would permeate the breadth of our land and that we would experience Your peace.

Lord, in your mercy,

Please hear our prayers. Amen.

Living in Grace


Monday 27 May 2024

After Aldersgate

John Wesley's heart-warming experience in Aldersgate (24 May 1738) is well documented. However, what is not well known is it that although John's encounter with God gave him deep assurance of his salvation, he was not exempt from further trials. This is important for all Christians to know and understanding. Any encounter with God will deepen our faith and our experience of Jesus, but we will continue to live in a broken world. It is how we are now equipped and prepared for the new challenges that makes all the difference. 

Listen to how John Wesley describes his new attitude to challenges: 

"After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations; but cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and he sent me help from his holy place. And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace; but then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered: now I am always a conqueror." - John Wesley

Before Aldersgate, Mr. Wesley felt that he was striving and fighting in his own strength. After his Aldersgate experience, he allowed God to do the fighting.

Romans 8:37 - No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Thoughts: What can John's story teach us about our own journey of faith?

Living in Grace


Thursday 23 May 2024

Now unto Him

Benedictions have become an integral part of many churches over the centuries. Sadly, sometimes we forget that these 'last words' or 'parting blessings' are not just a nice way to end the time of worship, but also a careful reminder of the incredible power of God. It is almost as if we need a final reminder, before we head out into the world, that God is bigger than we realize, and that the Holy Spirit will help us more than we hoped.

Take this passage for example, see what it tells us.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." - Ephesians 3:20-21

Thought: The next time you sing (or say) a Benediction, think about the words you are speaking over life. 

Living in Grace

Wednesday 22 May 2024

More than a theory

"Christianity is more than a theory about the universe, more than teachings written down on paper; it is a path along which we journey - in the deepest and richest sense, the way of life. There is only one means of discovering the true nature of Christianity. We must step out upon this path, commit ourselves, to this way of life, and then we shall begin to see for ourselves." - Kallistos Ware

These words speak to us of being willing to step outside of the norm and to walk in the path of Jesus. This is the easiest, and equally, the most difficult thing to do. 

It is easy in that it takes one moment to make that decision; it is the hard, because it involves a deep commitment to follow the path wherever Christ takes us. For this reason, we need to depend on the fullness of God's Spirit. Without the infilling of the Holy Spirit, I don't believe we have a hope of finishing the journey.

Exodus 31:3 - "and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills."

Living in Grace


Tuesday 21 May 2024

A prayer of authenticity

I have come to understand that my most 'effective' prayers are usually my most honest outbursts. I feel that God delights in our authenticity, because it means we are being our true selves before His throne. How hard (or easy) is it for you to be fully authentic before the Lord?

Psalm 31:23 - Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.

"Eternal God, you have been the hope and joy of many generations, and who in all ages has given people the power to seek you and in seeking to find you. Grant me, a clearer vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power and a more confident assurance of your love. Amen." - John Baillie 

Living in Grace


Monday 20 May 2024

God waits for us

Have you ever considered the notion of God waiting for us? We often refer to the fact that we are the ones who seem to do a lot of waiting for God, especially when it comes to the answering of our prayers. However, today's quote got me thinking about God's remarkable patience and grace with each of us. See what you feel.

"God waits to dwell in us and to fill us with yet more grace, more love, more wholeness and with his own fullness. But the God of the Bible never bulldozes his way into a person's life. He loves us enough to wait until, out of our own free will, we invite him to come to us." - Joyce Huggett

Perhaps it may make even more sense, when you read it in light of 1 Timothy 1:16 - "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."

Let me know what you are thinking.

Living in Grace


Sunday 19 May 2024

Pentecost - what a gift!

On this day of Pentecost, it is a moment to thank God for his indescribable gift of the Holy Spirit. The outpouring of the Paracletos (comforter, advocate, counsellor) was for the equipping and blessing of the believers. This gift was to give us the dynamic power we needed to share the Good News with a world longing for Hope and Love. 

I don't believe that anything has changed, in terms of our reliance of the Spirit, and God's call for us to share the Gospel. It is my prayer that we could be filled with God's Spirit, in order to move into our troubled world with a clear message of grace.

“That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight.” – Acts 2:14 (The Message)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, Come! 

Living in Grace


Thursday 16 May 2024

4000 posts - What a remarkable journey, taking it one day at a time!


Today, marks a huge milestone for me and the 'Living in Grace' ministry. When I started out writing my thoughts and reflections in 2007, I never dreamt that I would one day reach 4000 blog posts. I am truly humbled by God's grace and guidance over the past 17 years; as well as being deeply encouraged by your willingness to read, comment and share my 'ramblings.' So, I thank you from the depth of my heart for being a part of this ministry.

As I reflect on the writing journey, I feel that it has only been possible by taking it one day at a time. I know that it sounds like a cliche, but this has been my reality. In the ideal world, I would love to have a few days each week to sit and write, but my life doesn't give me that gift at present. However, by choosing to be intentional for 20 minutes day, I have witnessed how God can add the collective minutes (and blog posts) into something unique. 

I am grateful for God's grace in my life, and I hope that I have been able to convey some of this amazing grace to you and your community. This verse has meant a lot to me over the past 17 years and share it again with us all:

"From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace" - John 1:16 (ESV)

May God bless you abundantly, as you choose to follow Jesus, ONE DAY AT A TIME. Thank you once again for giving of your time to read these posts. 

"The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived - not always looked forward to as though the "real" living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow." - Elisabeth Elliot

Living in Grace


Tuesday 14 May 2024

Open to God

We are edging closer and closer to the anniversary of Pentecost. Undoubtedly this moment in history changed the Church completely. In fact, we could argue that the disciples could have drifted back to their old lives, if it weren't for the outpouring of God's Gift of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, this didn't happen, and we are able to share in the magnificence of the Spirit.

As we await Pentecost let us ask ourselves if we are open to the Spirit? Do we believe in the power of the Paracletos to change us, equip us and strengthen us?

"God waits to dwell in us and to fill us with yet more grace, more love, more wholeness and with his own fullness. But the God of the Bible never bulldozes his way into a person's life. He loves us enough to wait until, out of our own free will, we invite him to come to us." - Joyce Huggett

1 Corinthians 1:24 - "But God has opened the eyes of those called to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, to see that Christ is the mighty power of God to save them."

Living in Grace


Monday 13 May 2024

Do you belong?

We are created to belong! I firmly believe this truth. 

We are created to be in community and to be known and loved by others. This is also why it is important for us to remember that we are invited to be part of God's community - to belong to God's family. When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he reminded them of this beautiful gift:

"So, you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. " - Romans 8:15-16

The author and speaker, BrenĂ© Brown, puts it in a slightly different way, but it is equally compelling: 

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

Question: Do you feel that you belong? Why or why not?

Living in grace


Thursday 9 May 2024

Ascension Day reflection

As the global Church marks Ascension Day today, it is worthwhile spending some time reflecting on the significance of this occasion for each of us. Here are a few of my thoughts (but not exhaustive) on this momentous moment. But, before I share my thoughts, let's remind ourselves of what the Bible says about Ascension.

Luke 24:50-53 - "Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. 52 So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. 53 And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God."

1. Jesus blesses his followers before he goes!

2. The disciple's despair is changed to joy when they receive the blessing.

3. The disciples keep asking Jesus questions that show they haven't understood his mission. However, Jesus keeps steering them back to the point.

4. Jesus promises them the 'power' of God to help them fulfil their mission.

5. The Ascension is both and ending and a beginning. It is the end of Jesus' physical presence on earth, but it is the beginning of disciple's new mission. 

Thought: What does Ascension Day mean for you?

Living in Grace


Acts 1:6-11 - "So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Tuesday 7 May 2024

The desire to change

“Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.” - Richard Rohr

Reading this quote reminded me of the work of the Holy Spirit. God is love and so one of the functions of the Spirit is to remind us of this love; to fill us with God's love and then to allow this to become the catalyst for change. 

Perhaps we need to experience more of God's love, so that we would then feel the desire to change. There are a few examples of people in the Bible who encountered Jesus (Divine Love) and immediately desired to follow him. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 - And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Living in Grace


Monday 6 May 2024

It is better for you

There are some people who promise much but deliver very little. And when we have been disappointed with broken promises before, it is very hard to try and trust in any future promises. I was thinking about this when Jesus turned to his disciples and said:

"But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you." - John 16:7

It is not that Jesus had broken any promises to his disciples, but they would have been wary of what he was implying. How could it be better for them, if Jesus was no longer going to be present with them? They couldn't imagine what he was meaning - it made no sense! They had never experienced anything like this before, so it is little wonder that they struggled to see the good news in Jesus' promise.

However, as time passed and events unfolded, the disciples came to understand that Jesus was correct. It was better for them that he returned to the Father and they were gifted with the Holy Spirit. 

Sometimes, we have to hang on in faith, until the reality of the PROMISE is fulfilled.

Thought: Are there any promises in the Scriptures that you struggle to understand or even believe? What makes them hard to consider?

If you are interested in listening to my recent sermon on this topic, please click onto this link. 

Living in Grace


Thursday 2 May 2024

Don't let yourself be disturbed!


Have you felt yourself becoming restless and disturbed lately? It could be down to a lot of different reasons, but we can easily become anxious and worried about many things. Life is complex and we are facing may tough situations all around us. 

When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his imminent departure, he encouraged them not to be afraid. He says to them in John 14:1 - "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and also trust in me."

In the Complete Jewish Bible, the verse reads like this: "Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me." I like the variation in this translation because it really speaks to me. 

I pray that whatever you may be facing at the moment, that you would Trust in Jesus, and allow God's Spirit to keep your heart from becoming too anxious and disturbed.

Living in Grace