Monday, 22 May 2017

What do you think?

I am leading a series of Bible Studies at our District Synod over the weekend and I have been given this theme - "Igniting Mission - Breaking Barriers." I would love to have some of your thoughts on this topic if you have a minute. Perhaps I could be so forward to ask you to reflect on these questions and if you can give me your opinion I would value your time.

1. What does Mission (being a Witness for Christ) mean to you?
2. How do you think we can 'Ignite' Mission in our local contexts?
3. What are you currently doing in your Church that you feel has "caught alight" and is being effective for the Gospel?
4. How can we break barriers in our communities through our Witness for Christ?

Thanks for helping out. Please reply to the email address ( or on the actual blog itself. In the meantime think on this quote:

Michael Green – “God’s church exists not for itself but for the benefit of those who are not yet members …and the church which lives for itself will be sure to die by itself.”

Acts 20:24 (Message) - What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The pack of Porcupines

German Philosopher, Schopenhauer once remarked that Christians are like a pack of porcupines on a freezing cold night. The freezing weather conditions force the porcupines together for warmth, but as they get closer to each other their quills begin to jab and wound each other. So they move away from each other, only to repeat the process over and over again.

I think this brilliantly describes the dilemma of Christian fellowship. True community is difficult – just when you feel it is all going well, then suddenly something bursts the bubble and people feel wounded. Over the years of ministry in various churches I have discovered that relationships within a community of faith are complex. In the very place where we should be showing love and care for each another, we often discover that this is not the case. (This extract was taken from my recent book Whatever it Takes)
      If you belong to any community, religious or not, then you would have experienced something of this Porcupine effect. It seems to happen wherever people gather together. We need to be in community and so we are drawn together, but after a while we find other people irritating, frustrating and just 'different.' This leads us to pull away again. However, in the end we will find that we need human company again and so we will come back together. 

      If we are going to live together in community, then perhaps we need to listen to this advice:

    "It requires less character to discover the faults of others than it does to tolerate them.’ – J. Petit-Senn

    Living in Grace

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Is Talent God-given?

There is always much debate as to whether the 'talented' people in the world were born with all their Talents and gifts or whether they had to work hard to achieve these goals and awards. I am not sure if there is a simple answer to this question, so I will err on the side of both - Any person who has much talent also needs to work hard in order to become successful. That's my take on it!

Anyway, be that as it may, I came across this lovely reflection on Talent and I think these words are very, very wise!

"Talent is God-given.
Be humble.
Fame is man-given.
Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given.
Be careful." - John Wooden

Living in Grace

Friday, 19 May 2017

Open the windows

You walk into the room and the first thing you smell is must! The air is stale and your immediate reaction is to open all the windows. Soon the fresh air transforms the room and you begin to feel alive again. It is amazing how one simple act, can change the atmosphere of a place.

But, have you ever thought about this in connection with your spiritual life? Have you felt that your spiritual life has become stale and musty? Have you longed for a refreshing breeze to sweep through your spirit? If you have felt like this, then perhaps it is time to open the windows of your spiritual life. Perhaps it is time to invite the Spirit into your heart again.

It is our choice whether we simply exist in the room full of stale air, or we open the windows wide and invite God's refreshing LIFE to fill our lives again.

Malachi 3:10 - “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

2 Kings 7:2 - The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!”

PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: Walk to one of the windows in the room you are currently sitting in. Open it and spend a minute asking the Spirit of God to fill you again. Feel the fresh air on your face as you wait for God to transform your heart. 
Living in Grace

Thursday, 18 May 2017

But not today!

Here is a lovely take on life - enjoy! The poem is called "But Not Today!"

"I shall grow old perhaps, but not today, not while my hopes are
young, my spirit strong, my vision clear, because life has a way
of smoothing out the wrinkles with a song.

I shall grow old, perhaps, but not today, not while my dreams
remain a shining shield, my faith a lance, and 'neath a sky of
grey, my colours wave upon the battlefield.

I shall grow old, perhaps, but not today, not while this pen can
write upon a page, and memories turn Winter into May, shall this
stout heart be brought to terms by age?

I shall grow old, perhaps, but not today, and scorning Time who
would enlist my tears, I stand convinced there is a better way,
of occupying all the coming years.

I shall grow old, perhaps, but not today, in my own style and in
my own sweet time, no night so dark there does not fall a ray of
light along the pathway that I climb.

Just say of me, when my last hour slips like one bright leaf to
softly rest among the others..."Life was Summer to the heart, of
one who died believing she was young."- Grace E. Easley.

1 Corinthians 12:31 - So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.
Living in Grace

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

You can't do it on your own

The message of the world is: "You can do it alone! You are strong enough! Believe in yourself!"
While, there is a lot of merit in having a positive attitude, the message of the Gospel is that we CAN'T do it alone.
We need one another.
We need to rely on Jesus.
Our Salvation is not dependent on our own ability.

All these things are not a sign of weakness, but rather of trusting in the strength of God and of being part of the body of Christ. 

Jean Vanier once marked - "Life comes from the recognition that I CAN'T do it on my own."

Next time you are tempted to 'go it along' ask yourself if that is for the best? Is this what God would want from you? Is there someone you can ask to help you?

1 Corinthians 12:27 - Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Tough Question

"Did becoming older bring me closer to Jesus?" 

As he entered his fifties, Henri Nouwen came face to face with this tough question. Even though he was 'doing' a lot of ministry and speaking all over the world, Henri found that he was praying poorly, living more isolated from others and generally not feeling 'Christ-like.'

I think his question is remarkably challenging for all of us. Getting older doesn't automatically mean that we become closer to Christ. We need to be intentional about our spiritual disciplines and devotional life. These are some of the best ways of growing in our faith. 'Doing' more for God is not necessarily going to bring us closer to Jesus. We need to carve out time to be in God's presence for that to happen.

What are your thoughts?

James 4:8 - "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded"

Living in Grace

Monday, 15 May 2017

Bear with me

"If you wish people to bear with you, you must bear with them." - Thomas a Kempis

We sometimes ask people to 'bear with us' for a moment - and this could be for a number of different reasons. Maybe we are running late or going through a tough time. It could be that we haven't finished the project or forgot to buy something important from the shops. To ask someone else to 'bear with us' invites them to be PATIENT with us. If you like, it asks for a little 'Grace' in the midst of a tough time.

When we read Thomas a Kempis' quote we note that if we ask for others to 'bear with us', then we need to be willing to offer them the same grace when they ask it from us.

Ephesians 4:2 - "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

Colossians 3:13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Living in Grace

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Rubbing your nose in it

We know the saying well - "To rub your nose in it!" It has to do with making someone feel even worse about their predicament or failure. To mock them and remind them of the mess they have made. And I am sure that we have all had someone do this too us at some stage. It is not great at all. It is embarrassing and belittling.

Psalm 44:15 - "Every day I’m up against it,
    my nose rubbed in my shame—"

I am thankful that God doesn't delight in rubbing my nose in the messes of my life. God is not like that. It is God's desire to help us clean up the mess and to make things right.

Luke 24:47 -  ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’

Prayer: Thank you Lord for forgiving my mistakes and for not taking pleasure in my failures. Teach me to love others in the same way and to help them overcome their mistakes instead of rubbing their noses in it. Amen.

Living in Grace

Friday, 12 May 2017

Get up, God!

Wow, either David is very stupid or he knows that God appreciates his honesty! I mean, who in their right mind tells God to "wake up!" The thing I love about King David is his complete vulnerability before God. He leaves nothing to chance or pretense. He tells God exactly how he feels, because he has come to trust in the AWESOMENESS of his God. David allows his thoughts to spill over in his prayers, and it is a sign of his Faith in God, NOT in his disbelief.

I think that David knows God intimately, so when he questions God, it is because he knows that God can make a plan. He trusts in God's providence and care, even though he is not witnessing it in the present.

When you and I pray, are we too polite with God (out of fear) or are we totally honest with him?

Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
    Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
    Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,
    held down with a boot on our necks.
Get up and come to our rescue.
    If you love us so much, Help us! - Psalm 44 (Message)

Living in Grace

Thursday, 11 May 2017

When the storms come

"When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away,
    but the godly have a lasting foundation." - Proverbs 10:25

As I read this proverb I am challenged to ask myself how strong my foundations are? Our foundations need to be dug deep and laid with strong materials, because the storms WILL come! There is no doubt about it. As sure as death, taxes and tomorrow's sunrise, STORMS of life will come upon us. It is up to us to make sure we have deep spiritual foundations.

There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you'll stand firm if you stand on His love. Charles Stanley
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“There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you'll stand firm if you stand on His love.” - Charles Stanley

Living in Grace