Grace Alone - My Christian Testimony



When I was young, my parents raised me in a Christian home. The influence of the gospel lay upon my life from a young age. I lived in the Mission House owned by the Free Church. My Dad worked as a local preacher and Mum was a caretaker of the Church building next door. The Minister a Rev Macleod and his wife were so kind to us and that has stayed with me over the years. I wanted to give my life to Jesus after hearing so many testimonies and seeing that older believers I met at fellowships had something or rather someone beautiful. So the Lord drew my heart to His and though young I invited Christ into my heart and life. Though I have faltered and failed many times along the way and the road hasn't always been easy God had begun a good work in me.



In my teens with a much fuller understanding of the things of God I recommitted my life to Jesus, or as one person put it I found assurance of salvation. I took Free Church communion for the first time, which is reserved for those who are saved and who the elders have examined as such and feel are ready. It was a blessing.

In my later teens was a major denominational split and a major family crisis. It would be untruthful if I said these things didn't impact my journey, for they did. Though it shook me these things gave strength in the long run. I was inward looking until in a spiritual battle in my heart my eyes opened to the fact that others suffered still much more than I did.

When I went to University, I found that through my studying of Theology and Social Science that the troubles of human nature was not new, nor was the world's or my need for hope. In a rage one day I roared at God "Why do you allow such suffering in this world?" God may have been saying "Why do you?" How could I ignore such a thing?

It was this that got me active in campaigns against wars and armaments and joining the struggle to Ban the Bomb, Drop the Debt and Make Poverty History. But, it still wasn't enough for me so I journeyed to Devon to be a summer worker at Lee Abbey. They taught me to "be God's hands and feet in this world."

This idea of love was a spiritual awakening and the start of a profound stirring within my heart. I found my old path of blaming God for the world's woes was unsound. I discovered many woes are man made. That God lives within the laws of cause and effect - laws he made, He lives by His own word and gives humans and angels free will. I could not blame God any longer.

Here are 5 things I have discovered on my pilgrimage of faith:

1. Having for a time looked at other faiths I concluded that though many faiths offer a few ideas, Christianity in its truest form was the only faith offering a much-needed saviour. Christian faith is not winning points with God, but is the person Jesus the Christ. It is less religion, more relationship.

2. I could not save myself from sin or judgement, I needed and still need a redeemer. The heart of mans problem is the problem of mans heart. In this I was no exception. In the words of John Newton "I am a great sinner, but I have a great saviour."

3. Salvation is by Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.

4. This gift of salvation, does not remove the need for right living, but changes the motive. We must do good because it is right and because we love God and others, not to gain salvation or position with God. God is love, and whoever does not love is not of God. Good works do not save us, but Jesus saves us so we may do them.

5. It's important to be peacemakers, such are called the children of God. Christ came to reconcile man to God, and brothers to brothers.

After, my time at Lee Abbey I did cleaning and factory work. But, my wish to experience Christian community had grown. I had heard of L'arche at Lee Abbey and a community existed in Inverness. So in Inverness I joined the L'arche community. I discovered care work and much more. The impact of this community and the ideas of the founder and philosopher Jean Vanier was great. Whilst holding true to my evangelical faith I discovered a new dimension to my faith. If one were to have faith in Jesus one ought to express this through practical Christianity and what better way than through community and care.

Various Christian churches influenced me over the year. I was a part of the Free Church of Scotland as a boy and in due time the Free Church (Continuing). When I moved to Inverness, I looked around a while and joined what they then called Christian Outreach Centre Inverness (called CityLife a while and now called The Junction). It was a family friendly, lively church. I had a membership of the Baptists both in Inverness and Edinburgh for a while also (including being part of the Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers Association). Both these churches and those I studied (e.g. the Anabaptists) have had a deep impact on my journey.

In 2010 I had the privilege of serving refugees and homeless people in London. An interesting month where I learned of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker - though keeping my right to be in effect an Evangelical worker. I learned of the Anabaptists thanks to SPEAK and the Mennonites. I joined campaigns against violence. This active month deeply influenced me.

Then in 2011 I went on a mission trip to give parcels and share the good news of Jesus in Romania. I realised God wanted me to have an active vocation.

God blessed me to live and work at Kilravock Christian Castle. Then for a time I returned both to Highland Theological College and L'arche. I moved to Edinburgh in 2014 to get married to Sarah and began work as a support worker at a Christian organisation called Redwoods Caring Foundation. We faced many challenges in our new life together, but it has been interesting to see that God has used other Christians to help us (and a few Muslims and secular folks). God has not forgotten us when we needed him most. One of our hearts desires has been to have a baby and though it looked like it would not happen for us (as some people experience) God none the less blessed us with a beautiful baby boy.

And so my story and pilgrimage continues...Soli Deo Gloria!


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A Prayer of Thanks

Dear Lord,
Thankyou for giving us faith, hope and love.
That the greatest of these is love.

Thankyou that your love lights up the world.
That though the darkness is resistant your light still shines.

Thankyou that you rejoice over your children with singing.
That you put a new song in our mouths so may rejoice in your love.

Thankyou you that you give strength to the weary.
That you give us wings so we may mount up like eagles and bath in the sunlight of your infinite love.

Thankyou that you bring salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.
That you O God are Love,

Amen.


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By the Blood

Thankyou Father that we can come into your holy presence with boldness by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) who sets us at liberty.
You, Lord have torn the veil of the temple from top to bottom so we may come to such a holy God as thee.
We rejoice that if we draw near to you, you will draw near to us and if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. So Lord give us strength, your strength.  For yours alone will be enough.
Thankyou for full assurance of faith and that though our sin be as scarlet you can wash us as white as snow. So we confess we sin (miss the mark) by commission (doing wrong) and omission (not doing right). We sin in thought, word and deed. We plead the blood of Jesus and ask for forgiveness for this. By Christ and his wounds we receive healing.

In the name of our high priest Jesus the Messiah.
Amen.

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Lovers of the Light


Lord we thankyou for common grace. The light of your love shines on everyone. Even though we as a species may be a broken masterpiece, we are still a masterpiece created in your image and for your glory. We thankyou for how precious you hold each of us. That while we were yet far off Christ died for us. Help us live in faith and acceptance of such love. Not only that, but to mirror it in our dealings with others, reconciling as you are the God of reconciliation. Teach us to overcome evil with good. To love just as you love. Amen.


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Friends of God


Precious, merciful God, we thankyou for family and friends.
We thankyou for your provisions that cover our basic needs.
For the blessings of clothes, food and shelter.
Clothes, the ones we choose.
Food, the food we enjoy.
Shelter, a home.
We thankyou for the great spiritual blessing of salvation offered to us in Jesus Christ our Lord and saving grace.
For the washing away of our mistakes and sins.
For life and life eternal.
We thankyou for evidence of the Agape (love) of God.
That you call us friends.
Blessed be your name.
Amen.


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Anchor Us

Lord, in all weather and in all seasons be our anchor. Come storm or sunshine be our steadfast hope.
Amen.


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Global Compassion


God calls His people to the work of compassion. Just as God loves the entire world so must we love this global village. We must do what we can where we are. Think global and act local. 
Being humanitarian is not just trying to convert people. There is a place for sharing the faith both in word and deed. Some attribute this saying to St Francis "Preach. Use words if you have to." If he said it or not, I am not sure. However, I admire the idea we should preach as much by action as we do by words. We can only talk the talk authentically if we walk the walk. We should wish to clothe people because they need clothed and as we do for "the least of these" we do unto Him. Compassion is at the heart of who God is. That is why he calls people to be history makers in this way. History makers who know the truth in the head, let it reach the heart and from that place do works of mercy with the hands. Will you partner with God in this way?


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The Sunrise of His Grace

Behold the Sunrise of God's infinite Grace. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness, Mary has a child. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness a boy stunned the religious elite. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness a man preaches love and performs miracles. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness in humiliation he is mocked, tortured and killed, his body on display. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness in a tomb, followers, crushed, forsaken. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness HE RISES AND DEFEATS DEATH! 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness he forgives the followers who abandoned and denied him. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness still he forgives. 
In an age of war, disasters and wickedness HE IS COMING AGAIN! 
Behold the sunrise of God's infinite Grace!


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Questions

Why are we here? Why do the nations rage? Why do the wicked prosper? Where do wars come from? Who am I Lord? What must I do to be saved? Revival, how long Lord? In all our questions you have the answers. Help us to keep asking questions. Help us to listen. Help us to be still and know that you are God.


Featured in Reflections the e-book at Smashwords (Free/You set the price!)

Also feel free to download Angelos the free e-book novel by the same author.