Is Grace Amazing to You?

Receiving Grace

I’m a big fan on grace. I can tell you that while I’ve needed a lot of it and learned that I can’t be too proud in accepting it I still struggle to give it. Why is it so crazy that our human condition falls to the level of greed even when we’re talking about the last bottle of water for the heart in a desert of anguish. We would rather keep or receive grace and forgiveness than dispense it to the sick or needy.

My own life has pivotal revelations of grace as well as soft misty fingerprints across the window of my daily life. I remember the impact moments as times when I'm self absorbed. Sometimes for purely selfish indulgulent reasons when I've pursured my own interests and isolated myself from those who care and those I love. They're times when I forgot about the big picture and was only interested in the icing on the cake. Those moments, that are more than a few, are painful not for the aching stomach full of icing from supping on lifes pleaures, but more for the accidents that ensue. The icing gets in your eyes and you end up driving at life's high speed off the road only to make an impression on the bark of the neighbour's tree. These are the times when grace drives up in a white ambulance, wraps itself around the wounds and consoles the heart through the recovery.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 6 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “In a favourable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 6:2 ESV

So what about those fingerprints? You leave them everywhere and don't realise it unless you have paws covered in chocolate sauce like your 3 year-old niece. Unlike a toddler God tends to walk through the universe with fingers cleaner than freshly fallen snow. So how can you see the grace around you? Like a good detective it comes down to dusting for prints. Thats where that dusty old Bible might just come in handy. The more I look for prints the more I find. As I read the Bible I move through thoughts of self-aware concern based on my own failings. My sin, my life in a cracked pot is like driving over a series of potholes. The difference when driving with grace is that the potholes are filled in. You don't see them but a smooth road allows you to lift your head and take in the view. 

How can this amazing revelation of grace be forgotten, hidden or ignored? Why would someone who was once sick and now healthy then forget where the medicene could be found? How could someone who had come back from the brink of despair so lose sight of of the relief that moment in history brought. So much so that they are unable to remember where to point a fellow traveller languishing with the burden of sin and life. The burden we know as sin was answered at the cross when Jesus lifted it on to his own back and carried it to the point of death. He did it for you.

There are three responses to grace that we can own. For many the administration of grace is like running from the nurse with the needle. They aren't sure if its good for them or not but they sense that submitting to the cure is an admission of the ill. For others grace is like drops of water across the gate of a sand encrusted mouth. They have thirsted after rightousness and like those mentioned in Matthew 5:6, they shall be filled. For many though there is no response to grace. Its not a matter of engaging or running from the freedom that grace affords, instead its an ignorance afforded by times of bliss that layer a cushion that can numb the senses to the genlte touch of grace.

20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 ESV

I was really grateful when a friend sent recently sent me a video of Jimmy Needham’s Grace Amazing. It was just the right tonic for the day and brought some much needed perspective into the day. That dose of ‘grace’ injected through this song was the right answer for my heart when my head was working for the opposition. As we saunter through life, we can stubb our toe and find ourselves only interested in the foot long length of of gravel before us and the ache we feel in the seeping black and blue of a pulsing toe. I think that's where the danger comes when our focus on the problem means we become blasé to the amazing nature of grace that abounds around us.

Jimmy Needham – Grace Amazing

Spending Dad’s Cash

A Trooper in the air

;Creative Commons License ;Photo Credit: Kristina Alexanderson via Compfight

I still remember looking at my Dad's collection of LPs (old speak for MP3 embedded on black plastic dinner plates) and thinking I wonder if I can have these when he dies. It’s a strange feeling thinking your parents are really old and wondering if they will 'leave' you anything in their will. My Dad has now sold all those LPs. A few upgrades that included golf clubs and now a growing CD collection have meant that incredible collection of Elvis records along with a few Charlies like Charlie Rich and Charlie Pride will never be mine.

That little confessional story from my childhood also shows the short-sighted nature of selfishness. Even at a young age I was looking at 'whats in it for me'. As we grow we face new choices just like the Prodigal Son that Jesus spoke about in Luke 15. The bottom line was he wanted to spend his Dad's cash before he'd even earned his own. There always seems to be a pinch of laziness that seasons a life of greed.

The youngest son wanted to live it up and felt the Dad owed him. It took quite a journey for him to learn the lessons he needed to face life with a different perspective. Become a kid again for 4min and watch this video. Don't be so focussed on the son that you don't catch some great lessons from the Father and the older brother. In fact the older brother's biggest challenge was his focus on being… wait a minute I'm telling the story when I should let Crossroads tell the tale.

I really couldn't resist this video on the "Prodigal Son" from the Crossroads Kid's Club. Their range of videos available via their Vimeo account is brilliant as a resource for Sunday School teachers and Religious Education teachers. If you enjoy the video why not leave a comment on their Vimeo page by clicking through or heading to their website at Crossroads.

WordPress ‘Invalid Response Document’ error


Just had a problem with using Windows Live Writer after the software updated. I went to post a blog to my self-hosted WordPress install and got the error below;

Invalid response document returned from XmlRpc server

I couldn’t work out what it was but found a closed topic on that talks about php filenames being wrong.


As I hadn’t had any previous issues and had been using Windows Live Writer fine during the last week I decided to check my plugins were updated. One wasn’t so I updated that even though it wasn’t an active plugin. That didn’t work so I simply went into the dashboard and ‘Updates’. Here I used the ‘Re-install Now’ button to reinstall the WordPress core code and after doing this Windows Live Writer worked again seamlessly.
Update: As a friend pointed out to me – uninstall any inactive plugins. They are a backdoor for hackers.


Happy blogger!

Pushed Around but Not Over

Self Harm

Photo Credit: John O'Nolan via Compfight

I can still remember the day five ‘hoods’ ganged up on me as I was walking home. At around 8000 people, Te Awamutu wasn’t a big town but like any place on the face of the planet it had its ‘bad element’. It still astounds me because I had walked those streets at all times of the day and night and really hadn’t felt unsafe or in danger. Sadly on that day, a Saturday afternoon around 2pm, I became a target. No one likes to be bullied and a bully is a coward but what happens when there's more than one? At first it started off as a few taunts from guys on bikes, then came the circling vulture tactic and finally I was cornered against a wall just away from shops on SH3 leading into town.

At first I wasn’t afraid, just annoyed at the wombats that were trying their macho stuff on me. I think I was about 16 and they seemed slightly older. For a small town I didn’t recognise any of them. They thought they knew me though and the tirade of abuse started. Then the threats. At that stage I felt scared. They wanted my wallet and my clothes. Great, what a feeling this was. I looked up and down the street for help. Nothing. Then I tried to convince them my father was on his way to pick me up. That seemed to get traction. OK, lets build on that. I told them it might be that car, or that one but they better let me go. Ultimately they stopped enjoying their sadistic scare tactics and rode off. I walked and then ran home.

2 Corinthians 4 v 8 says;

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair

Today you may feel like the vultures are circling but be strong. Tell them your Dad is coming to get you!

This latest release from Manafest called “Pushover” caught my eye today. I pray it gives you courage.

One Thing Remains

Silhouette Seat
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Hamish Irvine via Compfight

Today I had one of those moments where you just need to know that God is still in control. My Mum must have been ‘in the zone’ because she sent me a TXT with Lamentations 3 v 22-27 which was spot on and then this song by Jeremy Riddle came on the radio from the crew at LifeFM All up Lamentations might sound scary to some but the verse, the song all came together and reminded me how we need to remain strong not because we will prevail like some humans vs. aliens movie script, but because of our God’s Love and Faithfulness.

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
     – Lamentations 3 v 22-27

One Thing Remains – Lyrics

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
constant in the trial and the change

This one thing remains

Higher than the mountains that i face
Stronger than the power of the grave
constant in the trial and the change

This one thing remains

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

And on and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I'll never, ever, have to be afraid

This one thing remains

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

In death
In life
I'm confident and covered by the Power of Your great love

My debt is paid
There’s nothing that can separate
My heart from Your great love

Your love never fails
(Your love never fails me)

And on and on and on and on it goes
For you overwhelm and satisfies my soul
And I'll never, ever, have to be afraid

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

– Jeremy Riddle