A LIFE WORTH LIVING

LESLEY NEW PHOTO

LESLEY GRINDROD, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST 

Hey sisters!
I’m writing this little blog on 16th September – a date I’ll always consider the very worst day of my life. Seven years ago today my dear son Jonathan’s life in this world came to a very sudden, completely unexpected end. He was 39, healthy, successful, full of fun, dreams and ambitions, with everything to live for. As my shattered brain tried to come to terms with the numbing shock, grief, and unbearable sense of loss I was convinced my life would never be worth living again.

So it seems more than coincidence that the verses drawing my eye this morning as I read through this month’s study passage were Colossians 1:11-12. In the Message translation it says “…We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength that God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy…”

Wait …. What? Strength to not only endure the unendurable – but that spills over into JOY? Is Paul really saying that we can expect joy even in times of unthinkable sorrow, pain and difficulty? I follow my Bible reference to James 1:2 “…..when trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy!” (NLT) And then I remember Paul’s exhortation in Phil 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord AWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
It’s the demanding of my own will that smothers out joy. My selfish ‘old nature’ that cries “It’s not fair. Why did You let this happen, God?” Eddie covered this topic so beautifully on Sunday morning when he taught on the Lord’s Prayer …. “Your will be done…”

Dare I demand what I think I deserve – a life with no bereavement, no sorrow, no pain? What do I really deserve? It’s only as I bow the knee to His Lordship, only in accepting that even the air I breathe is a gift from Him; that I start to understand the greatest joy is the joy of acquiescing to His will. That my desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills it!

“Your will be done…” This is the fight for true joy – releasing my will to receive His, and with it more inner, lasting joy than this human heart can hold.
Yes, I still feel the gut-wrenching pain of grief and loss as I remember my boy today. But while I may not feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving. Yes, there have been tears today – many tears – but over the years I’ve learnt that joy doesn’t negate these emotions – it transcends them! And as I surrender to Him, it’s His joy imparted to me that covers my hurt, soothes my pain and provides all the strength I need to stand tall for the long haul, endure the unendurable and live a life that is still truly worth living!

LIFE WORTH LIVING

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WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY FOR?

grace place bio photo christine

CHRISTINE COLTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that as I’ve been prepping for this term’s studies on Colossians over the summer it’s been the verses about prayer that have stood out, and then to return from the holidays and find that prayer is exactly the topic that Eddie is preaching on! God often seems to move several currents in one direction to get me to the place he wants me to be.

I’ve always struggled with prayer. I could blame it on having distracting children, or previously, a busy full-time job, but in reality, it’s always been something I’ve found difficult. When I read Paul saying at the start of Colossians, “We always pray for you” (v3), and “We have not stopped praying for you” (v9), I get a guilty jolt. After all, these were people he had never even met and I seem to struggle to even pray regularly for my family. Why is it so hard?

Then I started to look at what Paul prays for the Colossians:

“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding… We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so that you will have the endurance and patience you need.” (v9,12)

Paul doesn’t pray for the Colossians’ safety, finances, or even their health. He is asking that the they will know God’s character in full, and deepen their knowledge of Him. To know God is to understand His love for us, and to be completely secure in that. From this flows the “joy” (v11) we need for a full and active prayer life. After all, we naturally spend more time doing the things we love, especially when it’s with people we love, and if we are growing to love God more and more, we will want to spend time with Him, rather than it feeling like a chore.

I realised that what is especially exciting about these verses is that Paul is asking quite simply for what God has already promised. God says again and again in His Word that his goal is to make us, his children, more like Him. So, to ask for these things: “complete knowledge of His will, spiritual wisdom and understanding”; “His glorious power” is exactly what God wants us to ask Him for. God loves it when we hold Him to his promises because then He can deliver precious and good gifts to his children, rather than the foolish things that we ask for.

Paul understood that our greatest is to need to know God more, and I take encouragement that this can be my primary focus in prayer, and the best prayer that I can pray for others. It massively takes the pressure off me, stopping me from sitting in anxious silence trying to list all things I think I should be praying for others and myself, and instead sitting in joyful relationship with my Father, praying what He has told me to, for the eternal good of His kingdom.

ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

colossiansTree[5971]As we get back into the swing of our school diaries, routines, and church life, I want to encourage you to save the date for this year’s first women’s all-age bible study! It begins Monday, 30 September at 7:30 in the CBC church hall. We meet once a month on the last Monday of each month.

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Sharon Durant has provided our first bible study, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG.

Another component of the women’s bible study is one-on-one meetings, also known as study buddy time. The idea is to do the provided bible study together.
God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other.
This one-to-one element brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear.

For more information, the study buddy guidelines are on Grace Place blog, and hard copies at CBC and COTG.
And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

REFLECTION OF OUR BIG GOD

VICKY PHOTO

VICKY STEPHENSON, Contributor for today’s blog post

Going on holiday what must you not forget to pack?? pants? toothbrush? God?

How about a staycation, think easy meals, friends over, allow kids to watch films and stay up late, structured quiet times?

I understand this might just me be but I have realised over the last few years that I have been treating God like another term time activity one I can take a break from during the holidays. As ever I have realised that what I know to be true and what I say to others is not lived out in my actions.

Is it that I think my discipleship is something to pick up and put down when convenient or is that my vision of God does not include a God of the holidays? Or more worryingly, am I stuck with an image of an overbearing, strict, task focused, joy hating Father God for whom I have to earn my salvation by performing a strict task list, so occasionally I need a break from Him?

Why do I believe that God is with me when I am studying and preparing life group studies but He is not interested in me sitting outside in the sunshine chatting to the kids?
Why do I feel that “Christian stuff” bible reading, meeting up with people, praying is such a chore I need a holiday from it?

As with most problems in Christian living it all stems from a misunderstanding of who God is. Our God is a great big God (to quote a well known song!) which means he is at the beach with you whether you packed him or not! As we saw in John, Jesus had a beach barbecue! God is for us not against us. He does not hand out annual leave and then count the hours to make sure you don’t enjoy yourself too much.
When you are out enjoying nature in the sunshine He is with with you surveying all he has made and saying it is good, it is a glimpse of what is to come when all creation is renewed. The sunburn we may experience is a sign of the fallen nature of this world but we can have certain hope that God will renew his creation, then we can enjoy the Isaiah 40sunshine without burning or having to wear sunscreen (at least that is my prayer).

Life has different rhythms and it might be right for life groups or bible studies to have breaks for holidays but what I need to remember is that this doesn’t mean I just put God on the shelf until it starts up again. I should use the time differently, praying whilst out walking and splashing in the waves or even praising God whilst I have a lie in.

Sometimes it is not a break but a change which can help you renew your sense of God and help you come back to your first love. This summer we were able to go to St Davids Cathedral and join in a bilingual communion service. Hearing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God almighty who was and is and is to come” sang in Welsh in such a magnificent space was so different to our usual Sunday mornings; so out of my comfort zone that it jolted me into a new awareness of the awesomeness and majesty of God and refreshed my soul.

So you don’t need to pack God as He is already there but do be ready to see Him at work.

ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

colossiansTree[5971]As we get back into the swing of our school diaries, routines, and church life, I want to encourage you to save the date for this year’s first women’s all-age bible study! It begins Monday, 30 September at 7:30 in the CBC church hall. We meet once a month on the last Monday of each month.

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Sharon Durant has provided our first bible study, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG.

Another component of the women’s bible study is one-on-one meetings, also known as study buddy time. The idea is to do the provided bible study together.
God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other.
This one-to-one element brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear.

For more information, the study buddy guidelines are on Grace Place blog, and hard copies at CBC and COTG.
And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

colossiansTree[5971]As we get back into the swing of our school diaries, routines, and church life, I want to encourage you to save the date for this year’s first women’s all-age bible study! It begins Monday, 30 September at 7:30 in the CBC church hall. We meet once a month on the last Monday of each month.

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Sharon Durant has provided our first bible study, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG.

Another component of the women’s bible study is one-on-one meetings, also known as study buddy time. The idea is to do the provided bible study together.
God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other.
This one-to-one element brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear.

For more information, the study buddy guidelines are on Grace Place blog, and hard copies at CBC and COTG.
And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

SCHOOL IS FAST APPROACHING!

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

I only have to go to my email inbox to know that the new school year is around the corner! I have been inundated with a plethora of emails regarding different church rotas and upcoming events. Bring it on!

I am one who loves the changes of season, changes of schedule, new adventures- and the beginning of a school year is no different. Of course, I am in the lovely position of not having any children in school in my season of life. But I am happy to cheer you all in prayer who have this remarkable privilege and responsibility of parenting!

But I digress….

The start of school is a sign of new beginnings: New experiences. New challenges. New adventures. New teachers. New friendships. Renewing old friendships– and as followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are given a wider mentality about these new seasons.

We have heard it said many times in different ways: “What does God want me to do this year?” or, “What is God’s will for me as I begin this new season?” I have heard it said that a better question to ask God is “What do you want me to be?” As followers of Christ this question makes more sense. You see, God is more concerned with who you are than what you do.

His will for us as His “image bearers” (Genesis 1:27) is “being transformed into His image..which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) Jerry Bridges says so aptly, “Christlikeness is God’s goal for all those who trust in Christ, and that should be our goal also.”

PSALMS 25I want to encourage you, and please encourage me too-instead of asking God “What should I do,” let us humbly ask the Lord daily in prayer, “Please help me to submit to you as Your image bearer to your transforming work in me. Show me your ways Lord and teach me your paths, lead me into your truth…so that I may be a reflection of You more everyday.”

God will answer our prayers as we seek His face. And the “to do’s” of our lives will fall into place…. one day at a time.

Short Term Mission: Day 5

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

As you read this, our short term missions team is on Day 5 in growing in Christ as we serve Him. Tomorrow is our last day, and we thank you for your continued prayers.

As our team have been considering our discipleship and service under the Lordship of our Jesus Christ, we realize that our church family is an integral partnership in all of this. Although our journey in Christ is very personal, it isn’t private. Community is integral in the work of discipleship. As we as a missions team contemplate in Africa,  I also encourage you to do the same.  Is there someone you can come alongside this week in Christ? What are some ways that we can do this as individuals church familyand as a church family?

My prayer for us is Paul’s prayer to the church: May “our love overflow more and more, and that we will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding in what really matters, so that we may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May we always be filled with the fruit of our salvation- the righteous character produced in our lives by Jesus Christ- for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Amen  

See you soon!

Growing In Christ As We Serve Him

short-term-missions“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!” Ephesians 3:20

As many of you know, Eddie and I and a team of nine are going out to Uganda tomorrow to serve Christ through coming alongside missionaries and their children for a week. We know that you are praying and we appreciate this as this is always a community endeavour for Christ’s Kingdom. Thank you.

serve-rgb-1024x326There are two goals for our short-term mission team: First is service; and second is discipleship. These trips are as much a part of how we grow in Christ as it is about how we serve others.

Please pray for us as we endeavour to follow the paradigm of Jesus. I am reminded in the gospel of the feeding of the 5000 that Jesus fed the people through the disciples. Initially, the disciples focused on the problem of no food and not on God. But Jesus was teaching them about ministry and serving. Jesus was also teaching them about who He was. He gave to the disciples to distribute the food. In this way, Jesus’ disciples had to trust the Lord for it all. They gave as they received from Jesus. Through Christ’s three years on earth, He modelled intentional actions and habits in relationships with people in every day opportunities and hands on experience.

Isn’t it the same with all of us, whether we are in Rudloe, Corsham, or Africa? As followers of Jesus, we must bring our lives everyday to God in a spirit of obedience and sacrifice, no matter how insignificant…..or how confident we may think our gifts and talents are.

So please pray for us, and we will pray for you to that end. Thank you Lord.

Workers together for His Kingdom,
Kathy