TESTIMONY: LESLEY GRINDROD

LESLEY NEW PHOTO

Lesley Grindrod

I haven’t often shared the testimony of my childhood years, but as I read the first chapter of Titus and prayed about what I should write for this blog, memories of those days came flooding back and I felt the Lord urging me to share some of them with you.
My two younger sisters and I were brought up in a God-fearing but extremely legalistic Christian home. My parents came to faith through the ministry of an older couple they met doing ‘street ministry’ in London. This couple didn’t belong to a church and were accountable to no-one. I came to realise many years later they had a very twisted view of what it meant to be a Christian. Unfortunately Mum and Dad believed everything they taught them.
Among other things, my parents were convinced that following the Levitical law as closely as possible would gain them extra ‘brownie points’ with God. My Dad even went to the extreme of being circumcised at 40 years old! We children were forbidden to play games or speak of anything other than scripture on Sundays. We were never allowed to listen to the radio or watch TV. We could not invite school friends to our home, or visit them in theirs.
Mum taught me to play piano, but the lid was often slammed shut on my fingers when my irate father overheard me playing anything he didn’t approve of -anything other than old hymns or choruses!
We kept the Old Testament ‘food laws’ rigidly, couldn’t wear clothing that mixed wool and cotton, weren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas or Easter (these were considered pagan festivals) and were never allowed to go on school trips or join ‘ungodly’ organisations like the Girl Guides.
Just before bed one night, aged seven or eight, my father taught us about Noah’s ark – that God judged the earth by drowning everyone that didn’t accept Christ. In panic, I tearfully prayed ‘the sinner’s prayer’ pleading to be saved from God’s wrath. After all, what child wouldn’t be terrified of drowning?
As you can imagine by the time I was in my teens I completely rebelled against this harsh and vengeful God. I left school and started work as a reporter on my local paper. With my first wage I rented a tiny flat, leaving my family home for good. My parents refused to acknowledge my existence for many years. At 17, I was alone, vulnerable and quickly embraced a completely heathen lifestyle.
But oh, how great is the mercy, kindness and compassion of God! After many years of living outside of his grace, He brought people into my life that would show me a completely different Gospel, one of mercy, forgiveness, redemption and overwhelming, undeserved love.
It’s taken many years to ‘unlearn’ the false teaching I received as a child. I still struggle at times with assurance of my salvation; that I don’t need to earn God’s love. Paul warned Titus about the horrible consequences of false teaching and the havoc it causes.
Sisters, we are so blessed to belong to a church where Bible truth is faithfully taught. Let’s be careful to guard our hearts against what is false, never take our leaders for granted and receive the teaching they bring with great gratitude and respect.

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GOD CANNOT LIE

 

LESLEY NEW PHOTO

Lesley Grindrod, contributor for today’s blog post

Since we CBC ladies are studying the little book of Titus together soon, I thought it’d be a good idea to ‘flick through it’ quickly ahead of our first study. After all, it’s only got three short chapters – 10 minutes and I’d be done, right? Wrong!! Just a few seconds into reading, five small words in the middle of second verse stopped me in my tracks: “….God, who does not lie…” My mind immediately went to Hebrews 6:18 where Paul says it is impossible for God to lie!
Wow! Let that sink in for a moment – our Heavenly Father doesn’t ‘choose’ not to lie – He simply can’t! He is incapable of being a liar, a deceiver or a trickster. It’s contrary to His nature because He is TRUTH. His perspective is never skewed or obscured. He cannot be bribed or deceived. This is what makes the foundation of our relationship with Him so solid. He’s given us His Word, which cannot fail. If we’re ever presented with evidence contrary to what God says, we can be certain it’s not true.
Can man or woman lie? Oh, yes! We’ve all met people who have lied to us. Who say one thing yet do another, make promises they never intend to keep, tell lies, deceive, deal falsely, or trick or cheat us for their own advantage. Perhaps you’ve encountered some very painful experiences in your past where people – even ‘God’s people’ – deceived or tricked you. You may have entrusted your love and affection to those who were very deceitful – they spoke one way, but their hearts were against you. There’s no wound more painful than the wound of betrayal by someone you loved, respected, reached out to, laid down your life for, or entrusted as a dear friend.
And if we’re honest, there’ve probably been times when we’ve been guilty of lying to others too. The Good News is that “God is not a man that He should lie …”(Num 23:19). Contrary to what the New Age Movement says – Man is not God, and God is not a man. He is the Creator, the source of all life and the only unfailing source of all we need. There is no way we can avoid being hurt in human relationships. Yet even if we’ve been hurt by our earthly father, we shouldn’t be afraid to approach our Heavenly Father. He is the perfect One who cares about us more than we could ever imagine, and He will never, ever lie to us.
God cannot lieHow comforting it is to have someone like the Lord Jesus to entrust our lives to! What security is ours to know Him personally and to be walking in daily fellowship with Him. We can surely trust Him. He won’t ever deceive us or lie to us. He won’t break a promise. He isn’t fickle or whimsical. He won’t change His mind or take back His words. Oh, that this Truth would saturate our being and transform our lives!
Oh, that we would never, ever fear again, worry, be anxious, feel overwhelmed by our circumstances, or feel lonely and depressed. We can trust Jesus. If there is anyone who we can trust, it’s Him. He cannot and will not ever ‘lie’ to us.

TITUS: GRACE FOR LIVING THE GOOD LIFE

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Sharon Durant, lead teacher for this year’s bible study on Titus and today’s blog post contributor

The good life: Colourful cocktails? A deserted beach? Organic food? A TV series?

This year we’re going to be studying how God’s grace helps us to live the real good life – a life full of good works, done with a thankful, rejoicing, hopeful heart, confident of God’s love and walking in his light. This is the best way to live, the ultimate good life.

Why Titus? Because in the letter to Titus, Paul brings together the two essential ingredients of the good life – grace and good works.

These two might sound like opposites. Don’t we spend ages as Christians reminding ourselves that only God’s grace can save us? That all our good works won’t add anything to Jesus’ completed sacrifice on the cross? If grace is so amazing, why do we try to live a good life?

Well, as one preacher put it, “Jesus did what we can not do, so we could do what we can do.”

I’ve been so blessed by this truth. The grace of God poured on through Jesus did what I can’t do – it paid the price for me and freed me from my sin. But the purpose of this grace was so that I could do what I can – freed up to do good works, to live the good life.

We’re not set free so we can run riot like stray dogs; we’re set free to live purposeful lives that glorify God and bless others.

So, be ready, girls! Over the course of the year, it’s going to get painfully practical. In Titus, Paul applies grace thoroughly to our lives at home, church and in the world.

There’s a lot of momentum already, building on last year’s studies in God’s grace and the (now legendary) weekend away.

Plus this year there are going to be new faces and new voices speaking, sharing from God’s Word about grace for living the good life.

I’m excited. More than I usually am! Because this year the Holy Spirit is leading us forward in living the good life; we’re not being complacent and letting God’s grace go to waste.

I’m praying. I’m praying for you and your study buddy (Don’t have one? Talk to Anne Holmes ASAP so you don’t miss out on the full impact of Titus) that God would prepare your hearts and make you teachable by his grace.

I’m praying for our team of speakers this year as they study and prepare God’s Word.

Please pray with me – for each other, for those preparing the studies and talks… but most of all, please pray that more and more women in Corsham and the surrounding areas would be drawn into God’s grace, begin to live the good life, and study God’s Word together with us.

See you on 24th September!

A PRAYER ABOUT HEART GUARDING

everyday prayers scotty smith“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21 NIV

Gracious Father, how I long for the day when I will no longer be temptable, deceivable, or capable of worshiping any other god but you. I so look forward to an eternity of giving you the adoration, affection, attention, and allegiance of which you alone are worthy. No one redeems us like you. No one loves us like you do. No one cares for us like you. No one understands us like you. There is no God but you.

In Jesus, you’ve already given us a new heart and have placed your Spirit inside us. In Jesus, you’ve already turned our heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:25-27). In Jesus, you’ve already given us a heart to know and love you (Jeremiah 24:7). In Jesus, you’ve already written your law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).

Indeed, Father, you’ve already given me a perfectly forgiven heart-yet it is far from being a fully perfected heart. The battle for my heart’s worship continues, daily and relentlessly. This conflict will persist until the day Jesus returns to finish making all things new. Thus the warning to keep myself from idols is not going away.

Father, there are some idols I run from like the plague, but others I don’t even recognize as idols. It’s easier to see the idols outside of me, but help me to discern the ‘idols of the heart’ (see Ezekiel 14:4) Help me to know when I’ve made a good thing an ultimate thing. When I don’t think you are ‘enough,’ where do I take the trust and worship you deserve-where do I go for life, deliverance, and salvation?

I praise you for the assurance that I am already one of your ‘beloved children.’ You cannot love me more than you already do, and you will never love me less. Surely the gospel, this gospel, will win the day, my heart, and the entire cosmos. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

A PRAYER ABOUT GRACE ALLERGIES

everyday prayers scotty smith“There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'” John 4:7-10)

Dear Lord Jesus, you spoke these inviting words of hope to a broken woman trying her very best to keep her distance from you. She’d been on a quest to find life in the arms of men-many men-and it obviously wasn’t working for her very well. The more she tried to evade your gaze, the more you simply applied your grace. She ran; you pursued. She danced around; you stopped the music. How I praise you that you came to seek and save the lost, not just broadcast an offer from the distance.

Though the details of my story are different from this nameless Samaritan woman’s, the same foolish strategy is there: playing games with you, like hide-and-seek, only I do all the hiding and you do all the seeking. I wish this were just true of me a long, long time ago, but I still default to this insanity.

Jesus, deliver us from grace allergies-living with an aversion to the gospel. Why we choose broken cisterns, dumb idols, and self-help over your love is sheer madness. Grace is for sinners, not for pretenders, posers, and performers. You mean to heal us, not harm us; embrace us, not embarrass us; succor us with compassion, not shame us with contempt.

So Jesus, once again I bring real thirst to you today. I bring my penchant to avoid you. I bring my excuse making, my unbelief, my pride, my self-righteousness. I bring that part of me that would rather help others discover your grace than partake of it for myself.

I ask you for a fresh imbibing of living water, sufficient for the needs of my heart and the demands of the day. May this be a twenty-four-hour period in which I spontaneously join the chorus of many others who are singing, ‘Come see the man who told me everything I ever did, and he still loves me and is bent on my freedom. Certainly this is the Messiah, the Saviour, the Lord…. He is Jesus!’ I pray in our pursuing and all-satisfying name. Amen.”

A PRAYER ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBLE

everyday prayers scotty smith“But he (Jesus), ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.'” Luke 18:27

“Gracious Jesus, you offered these words of hope to disciples trying to picture a camel squeezing through the eye of a needle. You speak the same words to me in light of many situations for which I need to accept my limitations and lay hold of your sufficiency.

I begin this day remembering that your commitment is to make all things new, not make all new things. There is an enormous difference between the two. Indeed, Jesus, you’ve placed us in a story of restoration, not replacement. You are actively at work in the broken places and among broken people, including me. Through your resurrection, we’ve been given great assurance and hope for a redeemed universe. This is incredibly good news- the best news ever.

The hard news is that I have to accept that many things are impossible for me. My intentions, efforts, and resources are simply not enough. I see this especially in my relationships. This requires a humility and faith the gospel alone can provide. Grant me both, Jesus; grant me both.

I cannot change me, so why do I assume the omnipotence to fix others? As much as I long to see friends freed from addictions, marriages brought back from the brink of death, and stubborn people made gentle and kind, Jesus, you alone have the power of resurrection. Maybe the greater challenge will be for you to make me a patient, caring, present friend. Please show me the first nose hair of this camel poking through the needle’s eye. Hasten the day of perfect newness in my heart. I pray in your majestic name. Amen”

A PRAYER ABOUT THE PARADOX OF WEAKNESS

everyday prayers scotty smith“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, than I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Heavenly Father, as I meditate on these words of Paul, I vacillate between feelings of anger and relief, for as a young follower of Jesus, I wasn’t taught to delight in weakness but rather to despise weakness, to deny weakness, to demonize weakness, to dethrone weakness. That’s why I totally understand Martin Luther’s statement that ‘bad theology is the worst taskmaster of all.’ For I’ve suffered much under the merciless whip of several gospel distortions.

It was all about the ‘victorious Christian life’: overcoming and not underachieving, kind of like having a type A personality on spiritual steroids. I didn’t think in terms of sufficient grace, I wanted replacement grace- getting rid of anything unpleasant in my life.

Thank you Father, for rescuing me from this and other misrepresentations of life in Christ. Thank you for the godly men and women you’ve brought into my life in Christ over the years, the humble and courageous servants of Jesus who’ve helped me understand the true riches of the gospel and the way of the cross. Increase their tribe, Lord: increase their tribe.

Father, I know I’m not be be defined by my weakness and brokenness, but I realize more than ever, that’s where Jesus meets me. I have no ability to change my heart. I very much want your power to rest on me. I very much need your power to rest on me. I am desperate for all the sufficient grace you will give me.

As you continue to humble and gentle my heart, greatly increase my compassion toward others in their weakness and brokenness. Forgive my irritation, impatience, and avoidance of people whose need is much greater than my supply.

What a wonderful, merciful Saviour you are, Jesus. Indeed, it was because you embraced the weakness of the cross that I can gladly boast in the weaknesses of my life and the more-than-sufficient supply of your grace. What a most profound, liberating, and hope-filled paradox. I pray in your holy and loving name. Amen.”

A PRAYER OF DESIRE FOR FRESH GRACE

everyday prayers scotty smith“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spoke this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” Mark 8:31-33

“Jesus, one of the many things I cherish about the Bible is the way it robs me of my penchant for hero worship. Who but God would write a book documenting the foibles and failures of so many of his sons and daughters? Who but God would chronicle the ways his chosen leaders limp along and prove themselves to be in constant need of mercy and grace?

This gives me great encouragement and hope. It also gives me freedom to acknowledge that I need the gospel today just as much as the first day I believed it. This will be just as true tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Keep me convinced, Jesus, because I am like Peter.

It’s one thing for me to stress and stew about the ways this generation is distancing itself from your cross. But it’s quite another to see the subtle ways I try to keep you from the cross. Deal with me as you dealt with Peter.

When I mute my heart to the insult of grace, I deny your cross. When I think, even for one moment, that my obedience merits anything, I deny your cross. When I put others under the microscope and measure of performance-based living, I deny your cross. When I wallow in self-contempt and shame, I deny your cross. When I’d rather do penance than repent, I deny your cross.

By the gospel, help me to mind the things of God more than the things of men. May your cross get bigger, and may my boast in it grow louder. Jesus, you’re the only hero in the Bible, and I’m fine with that. I pray in your patient and persistent name. Amen.”

A PRAYER FOR DAYS WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE PRAYING

everyday prayers scotty smith“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV

“Dear Father, this is one of those days when I could create a long prayer list and methodically go through it, but I’m not sure I would really be praying. I could go through the motions, but to be quite honest, it would be more ritual than reality- more about me than the people and situations I’d bring before you. I’m feeling a bit distracted this morning, scattered and not very focused.

It’s one of those days I’m glad the gospel is much more about your grasp of me than my grip on you. I’m grateful your delight in me is not contingent upon my delight in you. I’m thankful for the prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Gracious Father, I have no problem or reluctance in acknowledging my weakness this morning. In fact, it’s freeing to know your Spirit doesn’t abandon us when we’re weak but helps us in our weakness, faithfully praying in us with ‘wordless groans’. Though I don’t understand everything that means, I do get that you search our hearts and you know the mind of the Spirit, and that brings me great comfort today.

No one knows our hearts better than you, Father. And you search our hearts to save us, not to shame us; to deliver us, not to demean us; to change us, not to chide us. You know my dignity and my depravity, my fears and my longings, my struggles with sin and my standing in Christ.

And at this very moment your Spirit is praying inside of me, perfectly tuned in to my needs and in total harmony with your will. I cannot measure the peace that brings. I surrender right now, Father. I will gladly groan to your glory. I know you are at work for my good in all things, including this season. You have called me to life in Christ, and you will complete your purpose in me, in each of your children, and in the entire cosmos. I do love you; I would love you more. I pray with thankfulness, in Jesus’ merciful and faithful name. Amen.”

BY GOD’S GRACE- THE TESTIMONY OF CATHERINE DONOVAN

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CATHERINE DONOVAN, contributor for today’s blog post 

We have been studying about God’s grace and our thorns and these series have come to an end. There are many thorns in my life, but even more evident is God’s grace. For me, one of those constant thorns or pain in my flesh and soul has been the sense of loneliness through my life. By God’s grace, I have learnt to dress up in the mantle of God’s fatherhood each day.
I was born in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, in East Africa. Tragically my mum was shot when I was 6 and I found her body. My dad was murdered when I was 10. Left a total orphan in a country that UNICEF estimates to have 2.5 million orphans, it is a miracle that I have never lacked clothes, slept on the streets or gone a day without food. God has been my Father. Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 11 when a call was made to come forward in Church after a sermon. I knew I had no one and God would be my refuge. At the time when my Dad died, I was left with one of my stepmothers who took out her frustrations on me to the point that I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking she was shouting my name. I worked hard to go to the best secondary school in the country, a boarding school that banned corporal punishment. I found out more about what it meant to be a Christian in that school and joined the Christian Committee.
My faith was quickly tested when at the age of 15, I was purportedly rescued from my step mother by a maternal uncle. When he came to collect me from school his financial circumstances had changed and he gave me over to his very rich best friend, who had a daughter in the same school. Unfortunately this rich man wanted me for a wife. I spent my time hiding from him and locking my bedroom door with a belt through the door handle and keyhole. God protected and delivered me from that situation. However, my faith faltered as I could not understand how God could take me from one state of suffering to the next. I stepped down from serving on the Christian Committee because the rich man’s daughter had spread the word in the school that her dad was my sugar daddy. I left their home but did not know where I was going to live or find school fees. I was filled with hatred, had a hit list and asked a local security man to teach me how to use a gun so that I could enact vengeance on those who had wronged me. “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”(Leviticus 19:18).
Overwhelmed by life, I took to blanking my mind using transcendental meditation through a book I read. This situation was turned around when staff members introduced me to a Pastor and his wife who opened their home to me and the staff members sorted out sponsorship for me. Their commitment took me through my secondary education and I passed highly enough to get a scholarship for my University education and qualify as a lawyer.
I am grateful that: the Lord rescued me from the rich man as many young girls died of AIDS because of him; because of my stepmother’s ways I ended up in that specific secondary school; God has been a Father to me and has brought healing, deliverance and bestowed the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair- Over and over in my life (Isaiah 61:1-3). Truly, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose“ (Romans 8:28).