MONTHLY MAGAZINE OF THE FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND MAY 2018 • £1.50
Editor • Rev. David A Robertson The Editor, The Record, St Peter’s Free Church, 4 St Peter Street, Dundee, DD1 4JJ 07825 748752 email@example.com Missions News • Mrs Sarah Johnson Free Church Offices, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS firstname.lastname@example.org WFM Editor • Sarah Cumming 31 Doune Park, Dalgety Bay, KY11 9LX email@example.com Gaelic Editor • Janet MacPhail 24 North Bragar, Isle of Lewis, HS2 9DA 01851 710354 Seminary News • Rev. Thomas Davis Free Church Manse, Carloway, Isle of Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org Prayer Diary • Mrs Mairi Macdonald email@example.com Copy Editor • Dayspring MacLeod The Record • ISSN 2042-2970 Published • The Record is produced by The Free Church of Scotland, Free Church Offices, 15 North Bank Street, The Mound, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS 0131 226 5286 firstname.lastname@example.org Details of the church's activities, latest news and people to contact are all available on the church's website: www.freechurch.org Advertising • Anyone wishing to advertise in The Record should contact the editor. For Subscriptions • The annual subscription price for The Record is £30. Cheques should be made payable to: Free Church of Scotland. Please contact the offices for overseas subscription costs.
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WELCOME TO THE MAY RECORD
THE APOSTATE FREE CHURCH?
FREE CHURCH NEWS: The Stornoway Mosque, The Stornoway Trust, Free Church Youth Conference, Ordination of Isaac Spiers
FREE CHURCH YOUTH CAMPS Laura MacAuley
THE DEAD END OF SEXUAL SIN Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
OBITUARIES: WEBSTER SIMPSON Alberto di Paula
END OF TRIAL Murdo Murchison
THE RECORD INTERVIEWS: SIMON MANCHESTER
ECCLESIASTES: THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING
MEET THE SEMINARY BOARD Thomas Davis
FREE CHURCH BOOKS Miriam Montgomery
THERE'S ALWAYS MORE Kenny Borthwick
LETTER FROM SOUTH KOREA Callum Bowsie
POETRY PAGE Myles Campbell
GAELIC Janet MacPhail
LOVE NOT THE WORLD Dayspring MacLeod
POST TENEBRAS LUX Catriona Murray
here is a well-known chinese curse;
“may you live in interesting times”! The journalistic equivalent is “may you get lots of interesting feedback”! Thanks to all who contribute to The Record by providing us with feedback. I can assure you that every comment is noted and helps us as we continue to try and improve. This month is our pre-Assemblies edition. We hear about the work of the Lord in many different and varied ways in Scotland and beyond. We consider the question of whether the Church in Scotland, including the Free Church, is in danger of apostasy. We have news of camps, conferences and ordinations in the Free Church. We are absolutely delighted to have one of the most important voices in the world church, Rosario Butterfield, give her insight into one of the hot button issues of the day. There is news of the Stornoway Mosque and a UK government climb-down. We continue the (extra) ordinary story of Murdo Murchison.We hear of the death of a faithful servant of God — Webster Simpson whose live has benefited thousands of children and whose legacy will live on through that work. We meet an Anglican preacher coming to Scotland and a charismatic Church of Scotland minister (who says we don’t do eclectic!) We continue our series of reports from Korea. We meet the ETS board and continue our studies in Ecclesiastes. Our two columnists Dayspring and Catriona bring us a challenge in terms of loving the world, and good news of Christians being involved in the world. We also introduce the new Free Church online bookshop. As well as this there is poetry, Gaelic, prayer and finance. So much in only 32 pages! ... and the good news is that we hope to increase the size by another 8 pages after the Assemblies. More on that next month. Meanwhile I would like to apologise to the Governments ‘Equality and Diversity’ committee. We have failed to reach the 50/50 gender quota you keep insisting we should aspire to. This month we have seven female contributors and only six male. If any men wish to complain about this discrimination and imbalance I would suggest you send your complaints to Catriona Murray, our resident Lewis feminist, who will sort you out! Don’t forget to pray for the Assemblies. See you next month… • Yours in Christ The Editor. It is with sorrow that, as we go to press, we have heard of the calling home of our dear brother and fellow elder in the Lord - Murdo Murchison. We will carry a full tribute in the next issue, but meanwhile we ask you to uphold his widow Margaret and their children, before the throne of grace.
THE APOSTA FREE CHURC BY THE EDITOR
themselves. We in effect have developed a form of morality and ‘Christianity’ which can be done without faith in Christ. Even in evangelical churches, ‘men may do what is morally good, and yet never do anything that is acceptable with God; for they may do it, but not for the love of God above all, but for the love of self.’ 6) we are at war. We seem to have forgotten that the holiness the gospel requires is a continual warfare – against Satan, sin and the world, which requires ongoing watchfulness and diligence. But instead there is a great backsliding. Why? Weariness of the flesh, indwelling sin wearying the mind, and ignorance of the true way of obtaining help from the Lord for the grace and supplies of the Spirit. 7) we do not know evangelical repentance. The reality is that the evangelical church in Scotland today, including the Free Church, is largely unacquainted with the true nature of evangelical repentance. Owen stresses the value of this repentance: ‘This is that grace which comfortably carries the souls of believers through all their failings, infirmities and sins; nor are they able to live one day without the constant exercise of it.’ Not only do we indulge sin, but we also approve of people and practices that are ‘unapproved of God’. When we indulge one sin we let in many others. When I think of the Church of Scotland decision to admit as ministers of the Word those who directly contradicted that Word’s teaching on sexual morality, I shudder. But I shudder also at the virtue signaling that goes on both in liberal and more orthodox churches. In an application that is right up to date, Owen talks about those who proclaim their own goodness. ‘The greatest moralists that ever were, whether Pharisees or philosophers, could never separate between their love and practice of virtue on the one hand, and their own honour, glory and reputation on the other.’ Whilst the liberals let everyone know what their right hand is doing (as well as their left), and their continual love for all things virtuous and progressive, those who long for a return to the good old days are just as keen to let everyone know how righteous and unlike others they are. We too are prone to self-love and the praise of others.
s we head towards another couple of important
it is time to see how the church is doing and how we connect and reevangelise the people of Scotland. Sometimes I find that going to the older writers really helps. One such was the 17th-century writer/preacher John Owen, who had a prophetic ministry in his own day and whose ministry continues today. His book on Apostasy from the Gospel has many things to say to our current situation in the church in Scotland. It seems apposite for the Free Church, the Church of Scotland and the wider church. 1) jesus warns us that churches will turn away. Owen’s observation is that the churches are in such a state because they have apostasised from the holiness of the gospel (2 Timothy 3:1-5). There is an outward profession of the gospel, yet people give themselves to the pursuit of the vilest lusts and the practice of the most abominable sins. But rather than be surprised at this, we should realise that it is what the Lord warned us would happen. general assemblies
2) we should not have any pretension that this cannot happen to us.
Any church is liable to this kind of backsliding and apostasy. Including the Free Church. 3) churches that start well often fade. The Gospel is a call to holiness. It is the Spirit who comes to convict of sin, righteousness and the judgement to come. When churches are planted they are often planted holy in doctrine and in practice, but there is often a fading away. Sometimes this is so severe that, as in Scotland today, we are compelled to cry out: ‘How has this come to pass? How has Christianity lost its glory, power and efficacy in the world?’ 4) christ is blasphemed in scotland today because this holiness is neither professed nor practiced in power.
Sadly, too often it is the church that is leading or following the nation into degeneracy. There is little spiritual freedom and liberty in the church – because we lack this gospel holiness. 5) it is possible to be religious/christian/calvinist/ free church without christ. The religious create a rule of obedience which is not the gospel but a system of peculiar laws and rules that they have framed for
Church ministers and elders who, whilst speaking of the beauty of Christ, have been committing both spiritual and physical adultery. I have seen men agitate for the smallest of doctrines, whilst harbouring the seeds of atheism in their own hearts. I have witnessed brilliantly sound sermons preached by men who were living the opposite of what they preached. It’s not what is done in public that really matters — it’s what goes on in the heart and comes out first in private, and then in public, whether in this life or on the day of judgement. McCheyne argued that ‘my people’s greatest need is my own holiness’ and that ‘It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God’s Spirit, is worth ten thousands words spoken in unbelief and sin.’ prayerlessness: Above all there is to be prayer. ‘That ministration of the Word which is not accompanied with continual prayer for its success is not like to have any great blessing go along with it…for a minister to preach the word without constant prayer for its success is a likely means to cherish and strengthen secret atheism in his own heart, and unlikely to work holiness in the lives of others.’ If you want to know the state of our churches, just look at the state of our prayer meetings. If you want to know the state of our Kirk Sessions and ministers — check their prayer lives. 10) revival begins with the leaders. Owen argues that the renovation of an evangelical ministry and the proper discharge of that duty by those who are called to it ‘will be the cure of the lethargy that the world is fallen into’. Surely that is what we need today, in Scotland, in the Free Church? A renewal to gospel holiness amongst our deacons, elders and ministers. •
8) the primary cause of this is the leadership of the
— especially the ministers. It’s not the society. It’s not the people. It’s not the world. According to Owen the primary cause of this is the state of the ministry and leadership in the church. In other words, people like me. God has given us teachers to bring us Christ and to teach us holiness. It is required that these teachers keep ‘pure and uncorrupted’ the doctrine of the gospel because ‘Gospel truth is the only root where gospel holiness will grow’. The Scripture will always remain pure — but in an important insight Owen argues that this is not sufficient to secure the advance of the Gospel in truth and holiness. We need the power of the Spirit. The question for us then becomes: is the gospel being proclaimed in Scotland today in the power of the Spirit? church
9) ministers are to proclaim the gospel in the power of the spirit.
Owen suggests that they are to do so diligently, urgently and with hard work. There are five sins that particularly harm the work of the minister. laziness: A lazy minister is an abomination; but there are too many. Whilst there are those who overwork, I suspect that underwork is as much of a problem. coldness: We also need passion. Coldness leads to powerlessness. Our preaching is not to be ‘the cold formal pronunciation of a well composed oration’. pride: I shudder when I hear young men talk about their pride at being ordained. Are they not aware of the difficulties and trials that await them? They are like those in 1914 marching off to war, full of pride because of their uniforms, unaware that those same uniforms would soon be spattered with mud and blood. Sometimes in the Free Church we have confused respect for the Word and those who preach it with placing men on a pedestal from which they are almost certain to fall. hypocrisy: As ministers we preach of the holiest, deepest, most beautiful and profound things. When our lives are in contradiction of that, it is little wonder that a powerlessness and apostasy from the Gospel eventually occurs. One of the things that has shattered many of our members is when they discover that their ministers have not only feet of clay, but hearts of stone. In 32 years of ministry I have known Free
Let Owen have the last word: God needs to give ‘pastors after his own heart, to feed them with knowledge and understanding. When he shall revive and increase a holy, humble, zealous, self-denying, powerful ministry, by a more plentiful effusion of his Spirit from above; then, and not until then, may we hope to see the pristine glory and beauty of our religion restored unto its primitive state and conditions.’
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FREE CHURCH NEWS THE STORNOWAY MOSQUE
to his conscience.” The committee then asked, “To a Jew, or a Muslim, or even an idolater?” He said, “Yes, I have no right to stand between a man and his conscience.” He was then asked if this might be the opinion of most of those in the Free Church, to which he replied that he believed it was. One of the committee then asked, “Would this not deter them from doing their best and using every means in their power to convert Jews, Muslims or idolaters?” Guthrie’s reply was “Certainly not; I think it would be one way of preventing that conversion to refuse them.”’ It is unfortunate that the self-styled Free Church Continuing, who had made the complaint, seem to be unaware of the traditional Free Church position on religious liberty and the freedom to worship. It is also unfortunate that the FCC are far too often equated with the Free Church. •
he first mosque to be built on the western isles is to go ahead.
It is unfortunate that The Church Times (Anglican) carried a wrong report that the Free Church were objecting. Rev. James Maciver, minister of Stornoway Free Church, explained our position: ‘As a Christian and a minister in Stornoway I do not agree with the Islamic faith, but more importantly by far I maintain that freedom of religion is a fundamental tenet of a free society, as did those who founded the Free Church of Scotland in 1843. One of these leaders, Dr Thomas Guthrie, was called to give evidence before a Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1847, regarding the Free Church’s requests for sites in which to build churches and manses. In the course of that examination he was asked if he would grant a site to any group other than Christians. He said, “I would grant a site to any man who desired to worship God according
THE STORNOWAY TRUST
eanwhile, also in stornoway,
elections to the Stornoway Trust showed significant support for candidates who wanted to maintain the traditional Christian view of the Lord’s Day. After what was at times a nasty campaign, especially on social media from the tiny group of militant secularists, Catriona Murray (The Record’s columnist); Donald A.
Macleod, a Free Church member who had promised to ‘preserve the heritage of the community’; Donald Nicholson, a former councillor who also promised to preserve the Lord’s Day; and Murdo Campbell, a deacon in the Free Church, were all elected. A former trustee, Callum Iain MacMillan, who campaigned on a ticket of securing Sunday golf, was not re-elected. •
FREE CHURCH YOUTH CONFERENCE
oghan smith, a member of dowanvale free church
Praise — from singing Psalms and Hymns throughout the conference to midnight praise sessions, the sound of 150+ people singing praise to God over the course of a weekend was encouraging and helped focus my heart on the glory and goodness of our Lord. Fellowship — 150 people ranging in age from teenagers to early 30s (and some above!). As a young Christian, it can be easy to feel isolated in a secular world and this was a reminder that it’s not the case. It was great to be able to meet new people and catch up with old friends. Our House Parents, Maggie and Murdo MacLeod (back for their second year running), were also a great source of wisdom, encouragement, and laughter! My first experience of the FCYC was one of encouragement and refreshment. Having never been before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was a fantastic weekend and I would recommend it to any other young person thinking of going. A big thanks to this year’s committee, and I am sure prayer for FCYC 2019’s organisers would be valued! •
of scotland, recently attended the free church
youth conference (fcyc). We asked him to share some of his thoughts and experiences of the weekend’s events.
A Three-Point Review of the FCYC (Not a three-point sermon) This was my first time at the FCYC and I think there were three main areas that stood out to me. Bible Centred Teaching — Rev. Iver Martin, Principal of Edinburgh Theological Seminary, was the main speaker for the weekend, taking us through the Reformation. We started initially with a history of this event, but Iver’s main focus was on why the Reformation matters, and how it actually impacts our daily walk. If this was not enough to challenge us there were several fantastic seminars focussing on topics as diverse as Bioethics, the Old Testament, and how to read the Bible. We were challenged all weekend with solid, Bible centred teaching and discussion.
ORDINATION OF ISSAC SPIERS
14th march, isaac speirs was licensed as a minister of the gospel by the Free Presbytery of Glasgow & Argyll. The service took place in Isaac’s home congregation, Glasgow City Free Church, and was conducted by Isaac’s minister Rev. Dr Colin Dow, who preached on 2 Timothy 2:1, “You then, my son, be strong on the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Also participating in the service were Rev. Finlay Mackenzie, Convener of the Presbytery Student Committee, Rev. Allan Shearer, Assistant Minister at Glasgow City, Rev Ian Watson, Presbytery Clerk and Evan Macdonald, Isaac’s father-in-law. Isaac is now available to be called by a congregation. •
CAMPS CHAMPION I’m trying to get someone from every Free Church congregation to step into the role of Camps Champion. This person would have all the most upto-date knowledge of what’s happening with Camps and what help is required. He or she would be your local go-to person for Camps. If you could be a Camps Champion, let me know.
BY LAURA MACAULEY
HOW ELSE CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
CATCH UP WITH CAMPS! Spring is the time of year when all the paperwork for Camps comes flying in. It’s all forms, forms, forms, from campers, cooks and leaders. Coaches, minibuses, activities and excursions are being booked, and leaders are meeting to allocate all the different tasks such as pastors, medical officers, photographers, games co-ordinators, squad leaders, bankers, etc. It’s a time of great hustle and bustle between myself, team leaders and their teams, and not forgetting the excited campers and their parents! Everyone is excited because, come the summer holidays, God willing, at least 333 campers will come to FCYC to learn about Jesus. They will be equipped to explore the Bible and the Christian faith for themselves daily. They will spend several days with enthusiastic leaders whose passion is bringing the Good News of the Gospel to young people in a meaningful and relevant way. If you went to camp as a youngster, cast your mind back to the way God worked in your life then, and how things were carefully woven together in your life to bring you to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. Now, wonder how you can pass on your experience, knowledge and love for Christ to the lambs of the church. Here are some suggestions:
PRAY! — This home mission must always be steeped in prayer – for the leaders and their talks, their organisation, their activities, their ability to make meaningful connections with campers. For the campers – that the Lord would prepare their hearts and minds to accept and respond to the Gospel, and that those young in the faith would be strengthened by the Word and emboldened to tell others of the goodness and mercy of Christ our Lord. Safety – we must never take safety for granted, and we pray for all those who will drive and chaperone the campers this summer. The Cooks – they are invaluable to our camps and play an integral role in supporting the leaders and campers, not only through their tummies, but by their own personal witness and walk with their Saviour. DONATE — you can make a donation to those in your own church who plan to come to camp, or by putting an envelope marked for Camps in the collection plate, or online: https://freechurch.org/donate/ All donations are gratefully received and enable young people to hear the Gospel for a whole week, as well as having the best fun of their summer holidays! DRIVE — If you are an experienced minibus driver, with D1 on your licence, and you have some free Saturdays in July, we’d love to hear from you.
CAMPS ADOPTION SCHEME This is an idea we rolled out gently last year. The basic premise is that a congregation ‘adopts’ a camp. Leaders liaise with the congregation’s Camps Champion to request specific points for prayer and establish ways the congregation can help the camp. Perhaps the camp might be able to visit for their Sunday service, or send photos and letters so that the congregation has a clearer idea of who and what to pray for. This allows for congregations to become more closely linked and involved with Camps and its ministry. In turn, this should facilitate greater support of the campers after the summer, and generally strengthen the bonds between churches and Camps. There are 12 camps this year, and each camp can be adopted by more than one congregation, so get in touch to discuss this further. Young people today, perhaps more than ever, need to be supported and encouraged in their faith. If you are able to help through prayer to our heavenly Father, we’d love to hear from you.
CHAPERONE — Are you planning to be travelling from Lewis to Ullapool, or visa versa, any Saturday in July? Again, we’d love to hear from you, if you’d like to accompany campers on the ferry journey. • From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4.16
Laura A MacAulay Camps Administrator E-mail: email@example.com Facebook: Camps Fcyc or Free Church Youth Camps Twitter: @FCYouthcamps Tel: 0131 226 5286 www.freechurchyouthcamps.org
THE DEAD END OF SEXUAL SIN BY ROSARIA CHAMPAGNE BUTTERFIELD
distraction of actual day-to-day sin, and discouragement by the daily residence of indwelling sin. “How should we think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity?” Eventually, the concept of indwelling sin provided a window to see how God intended to replace my shame with hope. Indeed, John Owen’s understanding of indwelling sin is the missing link in our current cultural confusiOn about what sexual sin is — and what to do about it. As believers, we lament with the apostle Paul, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (Romans 7:19–20). But after we lament, what should we do? How should we think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity? Owen explained with four responses.
CONVERSION AND CONFUSION It was only after I met my risen Lord that I ever felt shame in my sin, with my sexual attractions, and with my sexual history. Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me. What is the sin of sexual transgression? The sex? The identity? How deep was repentance to go?
01. STARVE IT Indwelling sin is a parasite, and it eats what you do. God’s Word is poison to sin when embraced by a heart made new by the Holy Spirit. You starve indwelling sin by feeding yourself deeply on his Word. Sin cannot abide in his Word. So, fill your hearts and minds with Scripture. One way I do that is singing the Psalms. Psalmsinging, for me, is a powerful devotional practice, as it helps me to melt my will into God’s and memorize his Word in the process. We starve our indwelling sin by reading Scripture comprehensively, in big chunks, and by whole books at a time. This enables us to see God’s providence at work in big-picture ways.
MEETING JOHN OWEN In these newfound struggles, a friend recommended that I read a seventeenth-century theologian named John Owen, in a trio of his books (now brought together under the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation). At first, I was offended to realize that what I called “who I am” John Owen called “indwelling sin”. But I hung in there with him. Owen taught me that sin in the life of a believer manifests itself in three ways: distortion by original sin,
02. CALL SIN WHAT IT IS Now that it is in the house, don’t buy it a collar and a leash and give it a sweet name. Don’t “admit” sin as a harmless (but un-housebroken) pet. Instead, confess it as an evil offense and put it out! Even if you love it! You can’t domesticate sin by welcoming it into your home. “God’s Word is poison to sin when embraced by a heart made new by the Holy Spirit.” Don’t make a false peace. Don’t make excuses. Don’t get
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don’t “struggle” with same-sex I didn’t. My love for women came with nary a struggle at all. I had not always been a lesbian, but in my late twenties, I met my first lesbian lover. I was hooked and believed that I had found my real self. Sex with women was part of my life and identity, but it was not the only part — and not always the biggest part. I simply preferred everything about women: their company, their conversation, their companionship, and the contours of their/our body. I favored the nesting, the setting up of house and home, and the building of lesbian community. As an unbelieving professor of English, an advocate of postmodernism and poststructuralism, and an opponent of all totalizing metanarratives (like Christianity, I would have added back in the day), I found peace and purpose in my life as a lesbian and the queer community I helped to create. nbelievers
2) Humility over the fact that we daily need God’s constant flow of grace from heaven, and that no matter how sin tries to delude us, hiding our sin is never the answer. Indeed, the desire to be strong enough in ourselves, so that we can live independently of God, is the first sin, the essence of sin, and the mother of all sin.
sentimental about sin. Don’t play the victim. Don’t live by excuse-righteousness. If you bring the baby tiger into your house and name it Fluffy, don’t be surprised if you wake up one day and Fluffy is eating you alive. That is how sin works, and Fluffy knows her job. Sometimes sin lurks and festers for decades, deceiving the sinner that he really has it all under control, until it unleashes itself on everything you built, cherished, and loved. Be wise about your choice sins and don’t coddle them. And remember that sin is not ever “who you are” if you are in Christ. In Christ, you are a son or daughter of the King; you are royalty. You do battle with sin because it distorts your real identity; you do not define yourself by these sins that are original with your consciousness and daily present in your life.
Owen’s missing link is for believers only. He says, “Unless a man be regenerate (born again), unless he be a believer, all attempts that he can make for mortification [of sin] … are to no purpose. In vain he shall use many remedies, [but] he shall not be healed.” What then should an unbeliever do? Cry out to God for the Holy Spirit to give him a new heart and convert his soul: “Mortification [of sin] is not the present business of unregenerate men. God calls them not to it as yet; conversion is their work — the conversion of the whole soul — not the mortification of this or that particular lust.”
03. EXTINGUISH INDWELLING SIN BY KILLING IT Sin is not only an enemy, says Owen. Sin is at enmity with God. Enemies can be reconciled, but there is no hope for reconciliation for anything at enmity with God. Anything at enmity with God must be put to death. Our battles with sin draw us closer in union with Christ. Repentance is a new doorway into God’s presence and joy. Indeed, our identity comes from being crucified and resurrected with Christ: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:4–6) Satan will use our indwelling sin as blackmail, declaring that we cannot be in Christ and sin in heart or body like this. In those moments, we remind him that he is right about one thing only: our sin is indeed sin. It is indeed transgression against God and nothing else. But Satan is dead wrong about the most important matter. In repentance, we stand in the risen Christ. And the sin that we have committed (and will commit) is covered by his righteousness. But fight we must. To leave sin alone, says Owen, is to let sin grow: “not to conquer it is to be conquered by it.”
FREED FOR JOY In the writings of John Owen, I was shown how and why the promises of sexual fulfillment on my own terms were the antithesis of what I had once fervently believed. Instead of liberty, my sexual sin was enslavement. This seventeenthcentury Puritan revealed to me how my lesbian desires and sensibilities were dead-end joy killers. “The gospel came with grace, but demanded irreconcilable war.” Today, I now stand in a long line of godly women — the Mary Magdalene line. The gospel came with grace, but demanded irreconcilable war. Somewhere on this bloody battlefield, God gave me an uncanny desire to become a godly woman, covered by God, hedged in by his Word and his will. This desire bled into another one: to become, if the Lord willed, the godly wife of a godly husband. And then I noticed it. Union with the risen Christ meant that everything else was nailed to the cross. I couldn’t get my former life back if I wanted it. At first, this was terrifying, but when I peered deep into the abyss of my terror, I found peace. With peace, I found that the gospel is always ahead of you. Home is forward. Today, by God’s amazing grace alone, I am a chosen part of God’s family, where God cares about the details of my day, the math lessons and the spilled macaroni and cheese, and most of all, for the people, the image-bearers of his precious grace, the man who calls me beloved,and the children who call me mother.•
04. DAILY CULTIVATE YOUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST God does not leave us alone to fight the battle in shame and isolation. Instead, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the soul of each believer is “vivified”. To “vivify” means to animate, or to give life to. Vivification complements mortification (to put to death), and by so doing, it enables us to see the wide angle of sanctification, which includes two aspects: “Sin is not ever ‘who you are’ if you are in Christ.”
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. After her conversion to Christianity in 1999, she developed a ministry to college students. She has taught and ministered at Geneva College, is a full-time mother and pastor’s wife, and is author of Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (2012) and Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ (2015).
1) Deliverance from the desire of those choice sins, experienced when the grace of obedience gives us the “expulsive power of a new affection” (to quote Thomas Chalmers).
This article was first published on the Desiring God website (www.desiringgod.org) and is used by permission.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR "Bringing Up Children In A Christian Home" Given I am sitting down reading this tonight, 25 March, and it was in the December 2017 issue, I certainly form one of Rev. Joe Barnard’s target audience readers for his aforementioned article. Just wanted to say thank you for publishing it; it was refreshing to read all its content. I would be lying if I claimed to have displayed kindness, empathy, patience or joy at the fourth pre-bed toilet visit tonight but reading such an accurate depiction of the realities of parents’ lives will certainly help me remember to try from now on. I always get something from The Record. Thank you Dùrachdan/CheersNicola (Skye) I am writing to express my disgust at the picture on the front cover of the March edition of the Free Church Magazine. It is a pretty pathetic attempt at trying to be ‘on trend’. Sinking to the lowest common denominator in never appealing. If I wanted to buy magazines with trashy, sensationalist pictures on their covers then there are plenty available in newsagents/supermarkets and I certainly don’t need or want to see them in church. In the grand scheme of things and in light of the many horrific things that are affecting people throughout the world, is this picture, which is representative of approximately 0.3% of any given population, really what should be projected? Janet Janet — thanks for your e-mail and I am sorry that the March cover upset you. However I can assure you that the cover was not done as an attempt to be ‘trendy’, which would indeed have been ‘pathetic’. The cover was a simple way of showing the horrors of what is coming to our society and what is being taught to our children. The picture is not ‘representative’ of the transgender community. It was designed to show the nonsense of the view that we can just choose our own gender or mix ‘n’ match as we please. Yes, it was shocking — and so is what is going on in the world. I’m afraid if you want us to be a safe magazine and not feature anything that shocks or horrifies, you will be disappointed. We intend to be a magazine that brings the gospel into the real world. The Editor I am currently reading Sinclair B Ferguson’s wonderful book Devoted to God, and thought the attached extract from the section ‘The New Rhythm — Dress the Part’ very appropriate to the matter raised in this month’s letter to the editor. Wishing you every blessing Hector M Macleod (Kilwinning) ‘Paul presents us with an entire catalogue of clothing appropriate for life in Christ. We are to put on Christ like graces. God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, should clothe themselves with Christlike characteristics: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Everything Paul mentions here is, in one way or another, a description of the character of the Lord Jesus himself.’ Psalms for Summer evening will be held in Greenock Free Church on Friday 1st June at 7.30pm with refreshments in St. Johns hall afterwards. Chairman for the evening will be Rev. Allan Shearer from Glasgow City Free Church. Yours Sincerely, Catherine Bell
We would love to hear from you…please write the editor at: The Record, St Peters Free Church, 4 St Peter Street, Dundee, DD1 4JJ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
THE LATE WEBSTER SIMPSON (1939-2018) BY ALBERTO DI PAULA for me to make for him.’ Even in the last few years, when he was finding it difficult to stand to preach, he recorded messages for Heartland Radio in Pitlochry, which were broadcasted on Sunday mornings. When he heard that the then-minister at Broughty Baptist Church was going to work in Swaziland in Africa, he set up the Claypotts Trust to support and enable that work and remained Chairman of the trust for ten years. On top of the support to local ministry and making provision for challenging social issues there, thousands of people received copies of some of his booklets on prayer, children’s Bible stories and on the theme of suffering and the comfort to be found only in God. He also was an active Gideon, faithfully placing Bibles in schools, hospitals and hotels. He was very supportive of Christian youth work in the Broughty Ferry and Monifieth areas through the Seven Arches Trust, which he helped found. In August 2014, he and his wife joined Broughty Ferry Presbyterian Church, and then in 2016, together with the whole congregation, they became members of the Free Church of Scotland. BFPC will always have a debt of gratitude for his faithful service and outstanding generosity. All of this was the fruit of a genuine faith in Jesus that led him to invest his life into our Lord’s service. Webster Simpson died in the assurance of eternal life in Christ, knowing that in the Lord, his labour was not in vain. •
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit,‘they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.’ Revelation 14:13
simpson was born in Redhill in Surrey in 1939, the third of four sons to Colin and Muriel Simpson. As a family they moved to Dundee in 1948 when his father bought a printing business, John Pellow and Company. The family attended Hermon Hall Evangelical Church in South Tay Street and Webster loved going to Scripture Union Camps as a teenager. One of the leaders at the camp was Malcolm Ritchie, and when Malcolm became minister of Broughty Ferry St James’ Church, Webster decided to join in – it was a decision which would influence his life and a great many others in a whole variety of ways. It was there that he met his wife Margaret and they experienced the blessing of being married for nearly 57 years. Along with Malcolm Ritchie, Webster started the ‘Sunday Evening Fellowship’ – a place where young people gathered for Christian worship and teaching. There were a lot of very special Fellowship Weekends at various youth hostels. Later he was set apart as a Reader by the Presbytery of Dundee. He was a leader in Broughty Ferry Crusaders for over 20 years, sharing the Good News about Jesus with hundreds of boys in Crusaders — girls too, when some boys’ sisters complained that they were missing all the fun. And it was fun — outings, barbeques and especially the weekend camps. Camps and holidays were a big thing in Webster’s life and, in 1988, he started Discovery Camps. Over the next 30 years, thousands of young people in Dundee who wouldn’t otherwise have a holiday attended Discovery Camps. The camps were run at Dalnaglar, Glen Dye or Tannadice, and more recently at Teen Ranch. He recruited the volunteers, did the administration, liaised with social work and raised close on a million pounds over the years to cover the costs. Despite his battle with cancer, he only stepped down as Chairman of Discovery Camps in January of this year. Having been ‘set apart’ as a Reader (lay preacher) by the Presbytery of Dundee, Webster preached in the churches of many denominations throughout Dundee, Angus and Perthshire. He felt so loved by God that he wanted to show his love in response by serving his Lord and Master. He often quoted the cricketer C.T. Studd, who said, ‘If Jesus Christ is God, and if he died for me, then no sacrifice is too great
END OF TRIAL
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We continue our series of extracts from Murdo Murchison’s autobiography, One Good Owner.
he cancer unit at the western general in edinburgh is in a pretty mundane part of the city; full marks to the architect who designed the
waiting area to have spectacular views of the magnificent city and castle, which is second only to Stirling within the UK! The poor designer probably had to argue with unimaginative, faceless NHS accountants to put in the large plate glass windows! At this venue, along with radiotherapy treatment, the brain tumour research team administered a dose of the possibly life-extending trial drug through an infusion. However, my temperature shot up and I was admitted to Forth Valley Hospital despite my protestations that I was fine. Following a number of blood tests, I was transferred to the Western General as my liver function tests showed a dramatic increase in one of the enzymes – from 50 to 897! It turns out that I had an ‘extreme adverse reaction’ to either the trial drug or the chemotherapy. Fortunately, no lasting damage has been done, but it means that for me, anyway, the trial programme has come to a sudden end and I cannot have any chemotherapy for the meantime. Hopefully my bad experience will help the research team to modify this new drug, which has already proved to be of value in some cases. I was yet again looked after very well in hospital as the crisis lessened day by day, although it will be some weeks before I am back to normal. This whole trial programme, which has such complexity, reminds me of the greatest of architects – our Creator God. He made each one of us uniquely with different characteristics. Mine are proving to be a challenge for the trial drug! Joking apart, to be on the programme in the first place, my health had to be good and there was just a 33 percent chance that the tumour had the correct receptors for the drug. With human intervention losing steam, it is now down to a powerful and sovereign God. My confidence in him is total and the words of Psalm 139:13-15 (ESV) speak to me powerfully: For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. So, the trial drug is not going to extend my life after all. At the end of the day, only my Creator can, if he sees fit, cure me; and his Word assures me that, whilst the best and cleverest of international research programmes know a lot and are innovative and efficient, he as my Maker overrules. Friends, keep praying... Take the time to read the whole of Psalm 139, written 3,000 years ago, yet fresh, challenging, relevant and for the most part comforting, especially when considered in the light of Jesus. •
ONE GOOD OWNER IS PUBLISHED BY CHRISTIAN FOCUS PUBLICATIONS
THE RECORD INTERVIEWS.... SIMON MANCHESTER
Senior Minister of St Thomas’s Anglican Church in Sydney, Australia and well known international bible teacher. TR: Why are you coming to Scotland? SM: I’m coming to Scotland by kind invitation to speak at the Keswick and Servants of the Word conferences, to hearten God’s people (I hope) with Bible treasures. Tell us a little about yourself and your family. Kathy and I have visited the UK many times and have served at St Thomas Church in North Sydney for 29 years. We have three children in their thirties and one grandchild in her 8th week. How did you become a Christian? I became a Christian in my last year of school at Sydney Boys’ High School when the Lord helped me connect sin and Saviour together. From that day the gospel seemed to me to be the best news possible for the world. Tell us something of your ministry. I work at the Word most Sundays. The talks go out widely in Sydney (on an FM radio station) but I try to mix with my people and outsiders as much as I can. Could you give us an overview of the state of the church in Sydney? The church in Sydney is reformed in Anglican and Presbyterian circles, but local churches are medium to small mostly. There are about 275 Anglican churches and the fellowship is great, as we try and reach our pleasure-soaked country.
The Sydney Anglicans have had a big impact upon Anglicanism and evangelicalism across the world. Tell us something about why evangelicalism grew so strong in this part of the Anglican world. Sydney Anglicans are largely traceable to one strong theological college — Moore — which has been evangelical for most of its 170 years. Pretty well every pastor in Sydney comes through Moore. Can you tell us something about St Thomas? St Thomas was a ‘broad’ church within the diocese, so had four Book of Common Prayer services until the mid 1980’s. My predecessor (Peter Watson) did a great job before me. The building is like a cathedral, the grounds are pretty — I tell visitors the building is good, the people are better and the Lord is best.
the people do everything else. I consider that the best witness and service takes place by the scattered people of God — not the onsite activities. The church is smaller than it once was but we have sent out plants of 35, 100 and 150.
between it and the church in Australia? I’m aware of many good churches standing for the truth at a cost. Christians in Scotland and Australia both face short-sighted people around them ...needing a renewed fear of God.
As you come to Scotland, is there anything particular you would like us to pray for? May the Lord cause the ministry to be fruitful.
What is your hope? My hope is that the first coming of Jesus has prepared me for the second coming.
What do you know about the church in Scotland? What are the similarities and differences
Thanks Simon…it’s been a joy talking to you. May the Lord encourage you and all who come to Keswick in Ayr this month.
You have spoken of your ‘work at the Word’ — what do you mean by that? Why do you think that is so important? How do you prepare your sermons? I have tried to ‘hear’ God’s Word and ‘tell’ it for my 29 years. The pulpit feeds and guides so much that happens in a church, but it is slow agriculture, not quick machinery. The under-35’s at St Thomas are a joy in that they were born and reborn here. You like to mix with your people and outsiders as much as you can — can you tell us something about how you do pastoral work? My pastoral method is preparation in the mornings, lunch with staff on Monday, a fellow pastor on Tuesday and laymen or clergy friends every Wednesday and Friday. In the afternoons I do emails, letters, welcome people to my study or go out visiting. St Thomas is a relatively large and busy church — how does it work? By Hillsong standards we are tiny, but the pastors cover the congregation, the special staff do children and youth etc., the wardens do property and finance,
CHARITY REGISTERED IN SCOTLAND SCO48111
n general, in western society we are money-rich and time-poor.
That is as true for the Church as it is for the rest of society — indeed it may be even truer. Whilst the world just has work, family, friends and leisure to use up the fixed resource of time, we add church. It’s little wonder that those who are maxed out with normal living find that they are stressed out when it comes to adding church. Something has to give — and too often does. That’s one issue with time; there isn’t enough of it! Another is that at any given time we sometimes struggle to work out what is going on. This is especially true if we are the type of person who is always living in the moment and is unable to set the present in the context of the past and the hope of the future. Solomon deals with these issues. Last month we saw that how we understand time and eternity is fundamental to how we live. Now in chapter 3:1-8 Solomon goes on to explain how we can understand time and the times. They are beautiful verses that I often read at funerals. Why? I disagree with the view that this is a depressing passage because it so stresses
the sovereignty of God and the helplessness of man. We cannot control time, and we cannot control the seasons, no matter what our skills, efforts or riches. So many say this is a counsel of despair. It would be if it were teaching that everything is futile or that God is some kind of capricious deity, the cosmic chess player moving us around like pieces on a board. But this is not the case — indeed this passage is an extraordinarily beautiful summary of the optimistic view of the Christian life. EVERYTHING HAS A TIME. There are times and seasons. There are rhythms — and there is a rhythm to life. We instinctively know this and our life basically demonstrates it. When you have two young children your times have changed. As an empty nester there is a different season in your life. But it’s not just in the major events. We all have our biorhythms. I’m a morning person (must have been the farm upbringing!). I get far more done in the two hours between 6 and 8am than I can do in the four hours between 2 and 6pm. And there are seasons. One of the problems with modern life is that we like to think we can
GOSPEL FOR TODAY’S SOCIETY: ECCLESIASTES 3:1-8 THE RECORD
change these — that we can live 24/7 lives 365 days a year — with all our gadgets and artificial stimulants enabling us to overcome the natural rhythms and times. We can have strawberries in and out of season. But ignoring the rhythms and seasons never works. It only results in burnout. Ancient Near Eastern wisdom taught that real wisdom was in understanding our limits and knowing the times. As the poet/prophet Robert Zimmerman sang, ‘Come gather round, people, wherever you roam, admit that the waters around you have grown. …O you’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changin’.’ Incidentally, notice again how the Bible has been used to inspire culture. Pete Seeger wrote a beautiful song based on this passage that became one of the surprise iconic songs of the 1960’s — the Byrds’ Turn, Turn, Turn. The fourteen couplets in this Ecclesiastes poem cover every range of human activity. It begins with the two most momentous events in our life, birth and death (v.2), and moves on to three creative and destructive activities (v.2-3) before dealing with human emotions both public and private (v.4).
Solomon then moves on to friendship and enmity (the stones refer to filling up your neighbour’s field with stones or gathering the stones they throw and using them to build something) and a time to say hello and a time to say goodbye (v.5). The next two are to do with possessions and our resolutions concerning them (v.6), before we finally return to the various creative and destructive activities of man (v.7-8). I take great comfort from the fact that our times are in God’s hands. It is not fate. I take great comfort that there is a time for everything. You may be going through a hard time just now – that will change. You may be going through a spiritual springtime – it will turn to summer and perhaps to winter, before it turns to spring and summer again. God is in charge of it all. Our lives are meaningless ‘under the sun’. They are not meaningless with The Son. We need to turn (return) to him. In the paraphrase of Pete Seeger’s song: To everything – turn, turn, turn There is a season – turn, turn, turn And a time to every purpose under heaven.
TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING
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MEET THE SEMINARY BOARD BY REV. THOMAS DAVIS
hen we think of the people connected to ets, we tend to think
of the staff and students who work and study at the seminary.
However, while the day-to-day running of ETS is taken care of by the teaching and administrative staff, the overall governance of ETS as an institution is the responsibility of the Seminary Board. This Board is appointed by the General Assembly, and that is very important, because it highlights the fact that ETS is accountable to the Free Church of Scotland. The role of the Board is to oversee the life and work of the Seminary. That involves various areas such as identifying members of staff, maintaining the ETS building and facilities and planning ahead for future developments in the Seminary. So who is on this Board? Here is a brief profile of all the members:
MALCOLM MACLEAN (CHAIRMAN)
FERGUS MACDONALD (VICE-CHAIRMAN)
The Principal of ETS is always a member of the Seminary Board. However, prior to becoming Principal, Iver was the chairman of the Seminary Board, so he has had a longstanding involvement with the Seminary and played a key role in the rebranding of the Free Church College as Edinburgh Theological Seminary. JOHN ANGUS MACLEOD
Malcolm is the minister of Greyfriars Free Church in Inverness. He has been the chairman of the Seminary Board for the past six years, and all being well, he will continue in that role for a further two years. (Usually someone will remain as chairman of a board for either four or eight years, although there are exceptions to this.) Malcolm has often represented ETS at conferences, both in Britain and overseas. He has also regularly given guest lectures at the Seminary.
Fergus has supported the work of ETS for many, many years, and currently is serving as a member of the Board and as ViceChairman. Fergus is a former Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and has served as the General Secretary of the National Bible Society of Scotland and of the United Bible Societies. He is also currently a member of the Board of Directors of the World Reformed Fellowship. He has helped to build up contacts between ETS and other networks around the world.
One member of the full-time teaching staff at ETS (known as the Senate) is also appointed to the Seminary Board. This role is currently held by Vice-Principal John Angus MacLeod. John Angus has a key role in the dayto-day running of the Seminary, so he plays an important part in informing the Board about needs that arise in the life of the Seminary and have to be addressed by the Board.
There is a very close link between ETS and the Board of Ministry. In terms of Free Church candidates for ministry, it is the Board of Ministry that selects them and approves their application, but then it is the Seminary that provides the academic training they will need for ministry. Because of these close links, the Chairman of the Board of Ministry is also always a member of the Seminary Board. At present, that position is held by Angus MacRae, minister of Dingwall Free Church. He helps the Seminary Board and the Board of Ministry work together in order to provide training for student ministers.
Murdo is a former chemistry teacher at the Nicolson institute, Stornoway, and is an elder at Stornoway Free Church. But he is not just a scientist; he is also very experienced in financial matters and is currently the treasurer in Stornoway Free Church. Both Graham and Murdo play an important role in ensuring that ruling elders are involved in the governance of the Seminary.
Thomas is minister of Carloway Free Church and is the newest member of the Board, having been appointed last year. However, he has also been involved with the Seminary Board for the past four years as Convener of the Marketing and Fundraising sub-committee of the Seminary Board.
Two elders also serve on the Seminary Board. At the moment one of these is Graham Keith. Graham is a former teacher and is an elder at Ayr Free Church. He has a lot of experience in theological education and has written and lectured widely on theological and historical topics.
It’s not all teachers, ministers and elders on the Seminary Board; there is also always a student. Every year, the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) elects a president from among the Free Church candidates studying at ETS, and it is usually someone in their final year. For the 2018/19 session, the new SRC President is Robin Gray, and he will help to ensure that the Seminary Board are kept up to date with how the students are getting on.
Alongside these official members, the Seminary Board is also helped by Mrs Catriona Cazaly, Free Church Finance Manager, and Mrs Heather Watson, the Seminary Secretary and clerk to the Seminary Board. Both Catriona and Heather attend every Board meeting and make an essential contribution to the functioning of the Board. The Board meets every three months or so, and the meetings usually last two to three hours, as there are often numerous matters to be attended to. Sometimes board members who live far away from Edinburgh use Skype in order to attend the meeting electronically In recent years, the Seminary Board has been encouraged by growing student numbers new opportunities, such as the Mission Centre, being introduced. However, there are also challenges for the Board, particularly regarding the financial needs of ETS. So please remember the Seminary Board in your prayers as they seek to continue helping the Seminary train and equip people to go out with the good news of Jesus Christ. •
CONGREGATIONAL REMITTANCES JANUARY-MARCH 2018 EDINBURGH & PERTH Aberdeen Broughty Ferry Dundee — St Peters Edinburgh — Buccleuch Edinburgh — St Columba Edinburgh — Christ Church Falkirk Kirkcaldy Dunfermline Edinburgh — Leith Edinburgh — Grace Church Livingston London City Perth & Pitlochry St Andrews GLASGOW & ARGYLL Arran Ayr & Kilwinning Bishopbriggs Blackwood & Kirkmuirhill Campbeltown Coatbridge Cumbernauld Dumbarton Dumfries Dunblane East Kilbride Glasgow — Dowanvale Glasgow — Govanhill Glasgow — Partick Glasgow — City Greenock Dunoon & Strachur Lennoxtown Lochgilphead & Tarbert Mull & Coll Newmilns Oban Stirling INVERNESS, LOCHABER & ROSS Burghead Dingwall & Strathpeffer Gardenstown Elgin & Forres Fortrose Fort William Glenurquhart & Fort Augustus Inverness — Free North Inverness — West Church Greyfriars Stratherrick Kilmallie & Ardnamurchan Kiltarlity & Kirkhill Kiltearn Badenoch Knockbain Maryburgh & Killearnan Urquhart & Resolis Smithton-Culloden & Nairn Urray & Strathconon
2018 £11,661 £8,638 £21,065 £10,629 £38,910 £10,588 £8,700 £4,950 £9,200 £9,453 £8,638 £5,870 £16,795 £7,117 £5,758 £177,970
2017 £13,345 £7,717 £10,180 £9,437 £31,150 £3,329 £8,700 £4,900 £8,300 £8,988 £8,450 £2,642 £10,770 £6,633 £4,500 £139,040
£3,600 £8,764 £5,883 £8,270 £7,348 £7,025 £8,100 £108 £8,211 £0 £0 £22,333 £0 £9,415 £13,360 £430 £0 £7,000 £3,300 £150 £8,420 £8,220 £7,100 £137,036
£3,000 £7,720 £5,136 £8,270 £2,100 £6,773 £7,858 £210 £1,050 £0 £7,500 £19,000 £0 £8,787 £12,902 £622 £0 £6,000 £3,962 £150 £8,920 £8,460 £7,100 £125,519
£1,127 £10,500 £8,774 £8,246 £8,220 £3,937 £0 £19,425 £4,683 £9,300 £10,653 £3,000 £1,390 £252 £10,468 £5,400 £9,060 £45,180 £10,000 £169,616
£670 £10,500 £8,450 £6,300 £7,925 £4,114 £6,250 £19,326 £6,875 £15,912 £15,920 £3,817 £1,100 £0 £10,051 £5,200 £14,600 £46,080 £11,000 £194,090
NORTHERN Assynt & Eddrachillis Clyne Bonar Bridge/Lairg Dornoch Golspie Helmsdale & Kinbrace Lybster Castletown & Community Rogart Rosskeen Tain & Fearn Thurso & North Coast Wick & Keiss
2018 £330 £150 £6,600 £7,698 £4,791 £6,198 £350 £5,700 £1,000 £0 £19,460 £8,250 £323 £60,849
2017 £330 £0 £6,600 £7,350 £2,250 £6,065 £500 £2,700 £0 £6,333 £6,217 £3,000 £315 £41,660
£7,620 £8,500 £300 £6,265 £8,790 £2,800 £9,088 £7,064 £12,975 £315 £6,600 £70,316
£10,080 £7,925 £300 £6,525 £8,600 £2,405 £8,750 £9,287 £11,099 £315 £4,400 £69,686
WESTERN ISLES Back Barvas Callanish Carloway Cross Harris Kinloch Knock Lochs North Harris North Tolsta North Uist, Grimsay & Berneray Park Point Scalpay Shawbost South Uist & Benbecula Stornoway Stornoway High
£25,610 £10,422 £11,207 £12,538 £12,010 £11,233 £8,638 £14,614 £14,600 £9,175 £8,638 £8,638 £8,503 £8,100 £8,400 £30 £62,855 £9,175 £244,386
£31,245 £9,555 £10,175 £12,875 £17,090 £3,100 £8,450 £21,710 £14,200 £8,330 £8,494 £7,925 £8,328 £7,950 £8,400 £30 £64,706 £8,370 £250,932
Other Donations North America Ev. Presb, Church Donations — Individual Donations — Group/congregation Disaster&Relief/Youth Project
£0 £0 £12,502 £4,157 £1,410 £18,069
£0 £0 £9,750 £13,961 £4,335 £28,046
SKYE & WESTER ROSS Duirinish Gairloch, Kinlochewe & Torridon Lochalsh,Glenshiel & Glenelg Trotternish Lochbroom & Coigach Lochcarron & Applecross Plockton & Kyle Poolewe & Aultbea Portree Raasay Sleat & Strath
FREE CHURCH BOOKS: A NEW CHAPTER BY MIRIAM MONTGOMERY WHO Free Church Books – the next chapter in the Free Church’s long history of reading. We are for all faithful Christians, everywhere. We are passionate about God, excited about Jesus, and keen to share the good news of the gospel through great Christian books.
WHAT YOU CAN DO We are a collaborative project, so the more people who get involved, the better it will be. Here are just a few ways that you can participate: Read more: It couldn’t be simpler. Pick up a Christian book and start reading! Buy a book: If your book collection needs updating, you can find a great range of titles in our online shop. From short tracts to big commentaries, there’s something for everyone. Start a church library: By building up a library in your church that can benefit everyone, you could see a real difference in your congregation’s spiritual health for just a few pounds a month. Study a book together: 10ofthose, our bookshop partners, operate on a bulk buy model, so the more copies you buy, the cheaper each one is. So why not read a book as a group? Perfect for any age and stage, from youth groups to office bearers. Host a pop-up bookshop: 10ofthose also have a great ‘sale or return’ set-up, where you can order a big batch of books, and then return any you don’t sell free of charge. This would work well at the start of a sermon series, or at a service with a particular focus. Recommend a book: Our reviews share the good books that people across the church are enjoying right now. That includes you! You don’t need any prior experience, and we can give you some tips to get you started.
WHY With the closure of the Free Church Bookshop in Edinburgh, the church was faced with the challenge of how to move forward. We needed to find a way to stay faithful to our long-held tradition of theological reading and discussion, whilst adapting to an increasingly digital age. Ideally, we wanted to get even more people excited by the opportunities for spiritual growth that the best Christian books can provide. That’s where Free Church Books comes in. By collecting books from authors you know and reviews from people you respect, we aim to provide an accessible resource for Christians to find books whose interpretation and message they can trust and enjoy. WHAT WE CAN DO Our project has two halves. Firstly, we have an online shop in partnership with 10ofthose.com, an established Christian publisher and bookseller. Here you can find a wide range of competitively-priced titles handpicked for their biblical integrity and spiritual insight, including favourites from our own Free Church authors. 10ofthose fulfil all the orders to a high standard, and a percentage of the profit comes back to the Free Church. Browse the catalogue at: https:// thefree.church/shop. 10ofthose also love to help churches encourage their members to read more, so they offer various services aimed at congregations and conferences. Secondly, we are building up a collection of short book reviews, covering new publications and old classics. You can see one below from Derek Lamont, the 2017 Free Church Moderator. However, our reviewers are not all ministers and office bearers; they are faithful Christians from all walks of life. Everyone can benefit from good Christian literature, but our needs vary, and we want to provide something for everyone. Our reviews are emailed out in a monthly digest, but you can also find them all on our website: books.freechurch.org.
A Faith to Live By, Donald Macleod This great small book is inspirational summary of Christian doctrine. It is condensed, tight, undiluted, but so easy to read. A classic of awe-inspiring biblical truths in an easy-to-read manual, presented with the profundity they deserve and the simplicity we demand. As with all of Donald Macleod's writing, he excels in the area of Christology. His chapters on the deity of Christ and the atonement alone are worth the price of the book — and far more. I go back to this book again and again. It can be an easy read, or a helpful reference on a variety of important biblical doctrines. There is a freshness in the subjects covered at every read, as the unsearchable riches of Christ are explored. A great read altogether. Derek Lamont, Free Church Moderator 2017
GET IN TOUCH EMAIL: email@example.com SHOP: https://thefree.church/shop WEBSITE: books.freechurch.org MAILING LIST: https://thefree.church/books-sign-up TWITTER: @freechurchbooks
BY REV. KENNY BORTHWICK
ell, well! i admit this was
of my faith: to think that one day my testimony, the testimony of a charismatic Church of Scotland minister, who is still in the Church of Scotland, would appear in The Record. Fellowship in the Kingdom of God throws up some surprises now and then. I am aware that in the process of fulfilling what is essentially a request from Rev. David Robertson to write something, I may step on some theological toes. I assure you that it will not be intentional, and hope that unintended offence may not get in the way of the Spirit of God blessing these words in some way, perhaps even by stirring up thankfulness for your own testimony, or by awakening hunger for the unfolding of a fresh chapter in your own ongoing story of the outworking of purposes of divine grace. I first met Jesus in a personal way at a Scripture Union Camp in St. Fillans by Loch Earn. It was the first time I had ever stayed away from home. My mother and father were so anxious that they came and stayed in a hotel nearby! They need not have worried. I enjoyed every single activity, every single moment of that camp. To this day, even midges bring me a strange joy, because in the tent where morning and evening devotions were held, some sort of deterrent was lit to keep them at bay. I will ever associate midges, that burning smell, and the gospel! Why did the grace of God break through at that particular camp for
me? Well, as I was to learn later, people pray for these camps. I can account for the opening of my eyes in no other way, for I went to that camp with no intention at all of being saved. Such a concept meant nothing to me. However, with each Scripture and song, grace worked. ‘All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one of us unto our own way. But the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ That got to me. So did this: ‘The wages of sin is death.’ So did this song: ‘There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin, there’s a door that is open and you may go in! At Calvary’s cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus.’ At the end of the week it was announced that there would be a meeting in the tent of the leader of the camp, Rev. John Briggs, for all who wanted to become Christians. There was nothing I wanted more in all the world. That announcement confused me, however. How would 80 boys (or however many were at the camp) be able to fit into a tent that at the most would allow six people to be crammed into it like sardines? However, come the day, there were three of us there in response to the invitation. I felt disappointed at that, but came to realise a few weeks later that there would indeed have been great rejoicing in heaven that day as three of us had passed from darkness into light. The call to ministry was birthed as a concern before I left the tent: ‘Why has my own minister back home never told us about the cross? I would if I were a minister.’
My sister, who was converted shortly after me, became aware that we were not in the right place for us to grow, so we asked our parents if we could please go to a church where the Bible was preached. My mum and dad were happy to help us do that, and together as a family of four we went back to St George’s Tron in the centre of Glasgow. I say back, because that had been our church up until I was aged four. In the Tron, I became aware of the power of the Word of God, first of all under Rev. George Duncan and then Rev. Eric Alexander. Their style of preaching differed but I found myself incredibly blessed by both. Quite often, even as a teenager, it felt as though I were stuck to the seat by the impact of the Word of God. The highlight of my week was church. I hope this next part will not offend. If it does, I hope you can hear the hunger I am trying to describe, and re-cast it in terms more acceptable to you. I would never have survived my theological training, my degree courses, were it not for the Tron, and nothing I say should imply any lack on the part of that congregation. However, beginning to be involved in churches to which I was attached as a student, I found myself powerless. I am not sure I can use any word that would be more accurate. The liberal teaching I heard at university did a good thing for me: it sent me back to the Word with a fresh intensity to seek out bread for spiritual survival. I came to believe that the Bible spoke of a power in the Holy Spirit which I was not experiencing. When I shared my
thoughts, they were not always met with approving looks in the Tron! Eventually I found myself in a small Pentecostal church in Knightswood, Glasgow, being prayed with for what was referred to as ‘the Baptism in the Holy Spirit’. In the days following their prayer, I experienced what I can only call ‘power from on high’. Gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 that I had not asked for, nor fully understood, were given quite sovereignly. I found a new level of power, new tools with which to bring the love and freedom of Christ to people. I will ever be grateful for that. I will ever be grateful too for the way the Spirit of God met me in a fresh way ten years later, and overwhelmed me physically and spiritually to deliver me from a deep feeling of failure in my life and ministry despite being a success in both spheres in the eyes of everybody else. My strength was taken away and I had to lie on the floor for forty minutes, my very spirit and mind being washed clean of the lies of the evil one. From that deep rest in the assurance of the Father’s love for me came the greatest years of fruitfulness in our own congregation at the time, and in terms of wider ministry. I became involved with others who had been similarly touched afresh with the love of God in the leadership of the CLAN Gathering, which attracted Christians from over 500 churches and 300 church leaders to an annual conference in St Andrews, as well as to smaller day conferences and retreats. In terms of chronology, my meeting with the Son, the Spirit and the Father have been at the core of everything I have sought to be as a minster. As simply and clearly as I can, through preaching the Word of God and pastoring, I have tried to bring the real love and real power of God to real people in real need in my parishes in Orkney, Caithness and Edinburgh, and in wider work in various nations. To be honest, it has not always been easy to be an evangelical and a charismatic
in the Church of Scotland. When we were first married, my wife Morag got used to me telling her to start packing the bags after every General Assembly. However, I could never forget the fact that I discovered on my conversion day: that many congregations were sheep who had no shepherd. That same conviction has kept me ‘in’ at times when I wished God would call me out! He never has, though I have no argument at all with my brothers and sisters who believe God asked them, even called them, to leave, in more recent years especially. I understand some of you may not understand my decision to remain. Well, now I am retired — retired early, due to a lung condition that made the demands of being a parish minister impossible for me to fulfil. I visit various churches and preach from time to time. Do I have hope for the Church of Scotland? I found myself thinking of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah not
long ago. Why did Abraham stop at asking those cities be spared from divine wrath if ten righteous people were found there? Why was ten as low as his request went? Well, I have no idea, but I do know that ten men became the foundational number necessary to start a synagogue. I am glad there are many gatherings, communities of faithful people of different labels scattered throughout the land of Scotland, some of them large, some of them ten or under. Who knows what may happen if the Holy Fire many of them are praying for should descend upon them and then sweep churches and a land that deserves wrath, but needs mercy? I hope for that. I think I can honestly say, I believe for that. I cannot believe that what we see now is an adequate reward for Christ’s travail. Pray with me that he may yet see more fruit from his agonies ripening unto harvest in this land and beyond, and be well satisfied. •
South Korea BY CALLUM BOWSIE
his year easter sunday fell on april fools’ day,
so when I read an article by a church leader, titled ‘The Myth of the Resurrection’, I struggled to work out whether it was a joke or not. Easter without the resurrection is as funny as a Cadbury’s Easter Egg hunt without the term ‘Easter’ – neither happen to be funny at all because both are sadly true. (At least Cadbury’s resurrected the term Easter back into their branding this year.) In fact, both stories are rather depressing realities of our times. On one hand the secular multinationals feel there is appetite for anti-Christian branding, while those in the religious sphere who are meant to be proclaiming the goodness and essence of Easter do the total opposite by denying the resurrection. Not only is the resurrection a myth to them, but they believe the myth that Christianity is best served by appeasing ‘liberal think tanks’, those who ultimately want Christianity irradiated. Christianity has never flourished when Christians do not put Christ first.
shrines were exclusively for the Japanese expatriates, but Shinto soon became the dominant method of instilling Japanese patriotism
was the foreign missionaries that had originally been the most outspoken about Christians taking part in shrine worship. But their
Korean workers at Shinto shrine (circa 1930).
among the Korean population. By 1925, orders were given to build shrines in every Korean province, and by 1930, in every Korean village. In 1925, attendance at Shinto shrine ceremonies was made compulsory for all schoolchildren (even Christian schools), and for all university
eded to the imperialists, it further weakened the argument of the fundamentalists: ‘If it’s okay for them to do it, then so can you.’ By the 1940s persuasion had turned to persecution, and thus more Christians compromised. Post-WWII (which signalled the end of Japanese rule), Shinto was
...the Christian community could not just forget their ordeal. A great shame now hung over those who had compromised their faith in the face of Japanese suppression. Many Korean churches learnt this the hard way, in what became known as the Shinto Shrine Issue. When Japan annexed Korea in 1910, shrines were built for Japan’s state religion of Shinto within the following year. Originally the
students by 1936. In 1938, Under the National Mobilisation law, this policy was extended to include all Christians. Throughout the 1930s, as pressure mounted on Christians to attend shrine ceremonies, it
the focus of contempt by Koreans and posters went up calling for shrines to be burnt down. Within months all 995 shrines were destroyed and the Korean National Shrine in Seoul was replaced by the Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
But the Christian community could not just forget their ordeal. A great shame now hung over those who had compromised their faith in the face of Japanese suppression. While many condoned the
some congregations still made up of those who recall how their ministers or even they and their families responded to shrine worship. Today we have the benefit of hindsight, and we must use it. We
Approach to the former Joseon Singung in Seoul
tactfulness displayed by their church leaders, many others were disappointed by their lack of gospel faithfulness, which they had so often heard them preach. In the decades following, many ministers (but not all) came to repent of their observance of shrine worship. In order to restore the integrity of their faith, they were strongly encouraged to step aside from leadership and spend a short period of time as a ‘sheep’. But for the rest of the 20th century, Korean churches continued to be heavily characterised by how they had responded to the issue of shrine worship. The same could be said to be unfolding in Scotland; contemporary issues are starting to define and separate the churches, and their past, too, will not be forgotten overnight, even if it’s silenced. An essay published in 1997 by a Korean American (Sgun Kim) has been pivotal in articulating what the Korean church dared not speak of for so long. To this day, the Shrine Issue remains a sensitive one within Korean churches, with
must take note of Korea’s recent church history; the churches that followed scripture and didn’t use being ‘culturally relevant’ to justify compromise were the Korean churches that flourished most post-WWII. But we mustn’t use the benefit of hindsight to get on religious high horses, claiming we would have categorically stood in firm opposition to the Japanese imperialists eighty years ago. We do not know how weak we
truly are until we’re tested. (The 2016 film Silence portrays this dilemma well.) Therefore, until we are faced with such extreme nationalism and the threat of persecution, we must be gracious and supportive towards our persecuted brothers and sisters and remember how we ourselves fall short of God’s standards every day, even amidst great religious freedom. Maybe it is our apathy toward our religious freedom that has caused so many in Scotland to surrender their religious faithfulness for national obeisance. But the Church cannot grow if the gospel of Christ has been compromised. And don’t be fooled by those who tell you ‘if they did it, so can you’. The Koreans that ‘just did it’ became deadwood and were quickly swept away. Yet those faithful to the Gospel established one of the most solidified Churches in the world. Why? Because the Church grows when it suffers! More specifically, it grows when it perseveres in that suffering and ‘leans not on its own understanding’. We might think we’re being clever evangelists in expanding the Kingdom by appeasing our earthly rulers, but it is the integrity of the Gospel, not our tactful interpretation of the Gospel, that attracts people to the Kingdom...even when they know suffering is inevitable. •
Shinto Temples, Namsan Mountain, Seoul, Korea (circa 1951)
POETRY PAGE GRACE BY MYLES CAMPBELL TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL GAELIC All is a gift from the infinite Holy One – we call it grace. The Creation All things come from grace, you and I, the blade of grass, the stars of the vast sky: they say the miracle came from ‘nothing’ billions of years ago and from the ‘nothing’ the seeds from which gradually arose the marvellous flowers of the sky.
Photo by Will Stewart on Unsplash
There opened out the cosmic flower the ancient wheelings the constellated billions Andromeda, Orion and the Plough, myriad galaxies untold sweeping out endlessly; select elements exactly organised to lead in the end to a world full of life, each kind filled with glorious grace, the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the amazing animals of the earth and the cosmic question mark itself, you and I, the searcher after knowledge, the one who looks up to the Milky Way, and who might say: from where this amazing cosmic order? from where the thousand graces pouring out from beyond time?
Òran nuadh (A New Song) LE JANET NICPHÀIL
o chionn ghoirid a bha gar brosnachadh gu bhith a’ teiche ron Nàmhaid a bha an tòir oirnn’,dìreach mar a rinn am fàidh Eliah, nuair a theich ro na bha an tòir air fhèin. Bha naimhdean aige, agus le eagal, theich e le bheatha. Gu math ìosal na spiorad, shuidh e fo chraoibh aiteil agus dh’iarr e bàs fhaighinn, ag ràdh, ‘Is leòr e’. Nuair a chaidil e fon chraoibh, bhean aingeal ris, agus dh’iarr an t-aingeal air èirigh agus ithe. Bha a’ mhìorbhail air tachairt. Bha ullachadh iongantach ann dha; bha breacag ann a bhruitheadh air a’ ghrìosaich agus cuideachd, bha soitheach an sin dha le uisge, agus dh’ith e agus dh’òl e, agus laigh e sìos a-rithist. Thachair a’ mhìorbhail-sa barrachd air aon uair. Bha an teachdaire a’ faighneachd don t-sluagh an robh iadsan a’ teiche ron nàmhaid, agus bhruidhinn e air an leabhar, ‘ Turas a’ Chrìosdaidh’. Bha e ag ràdh gu robh làn thìde againn uile dùsgadh, agus chleachd e na briathran àlainn a sgrìobh Bàrd Bheàrnaraigh na Hearadh. Thuirt e uair no dhà na sreathan a lorgas sinn sa’ bhàrdachd sin, ‘O smaoinich dùbailte air a’ chùis-sa gum bi thu rùisgte aig Cùirt a’ Mhòid ’s gach britheamh talmhaidh gu bhith na bhalbhan ’s am Fear a mharbh iad fan comhair beò.’ Anns an dol seachad, thuirt e nì a leanadh mòran, agus b’e sin gun can gach Crìosdaidh gur iad fhèin an nàmhaid as motha a th’aca air an slighe tron fhàsach. Bha cuiridhean an t-Soisgeil air an cuir gu soilleir air beulaibh an t-sluaigh, agus bha e deatamach gun gabhadh sluagh ris an seo fhads a bha an cothrom aca. Bhruidhinn e air na bha air chall anns a’ chosamhlachd a labhair Iosa. B’iad sin bonn, a’ chaora agus am mac. Thuirt e nach biodh ciall sam bith aig a’ bhonn gu robh e air chall; dh’ fhaodadh beagan aithne a bhith aig a’ chaora nach robh i far am bu chòir dhi a bhith, ach gum biodh fios aig a’ mhac gu robh e air chall. B’e a bha fìor mun deidhinn uile gu robh iad air chall. Bha spàirn air an teachdaire gun tigeadh sluagh gu bhith a’ faicinn cho freagarrach sa bha Slànaighear an t-saoghail airson gach suidheachadh a bhiodh aig daoine. Nuair a dhùisgeadh Spiorad a’ Chruthaidheir sluagh, bha cabhag anns a’chùis agus daoine a’ tuigsinn cho lom sa tha sinn air beulaibh Britheamh an t-saoghail gun Fhear-tagraidh. (B’e an t- Urramach Uilleam Macleòid a bha a’ searmonachadh agus tha sinn a’ toirt taing dha.) Aig an àm-sa den bhliadhna tha sinn air a bhith a’ cuimhneachadh air Aiseirigh an t-Slànaigheir. Abair latha beannaichte ann an eachdraidh an t-saoghail-sa, agus nach e seo a tha a’ toirt dhuinn an dòchais gun èirich sinne cuideachd gu beatha shìorraidh?
Nach tog sinne fonn ’s nach seinn le caithream oir dh’èirich le buaidh Mac Sìorraidh an Athar le buaidh air a’ bhàs mar bha na ghealladh ’s chan fhaca aon sùil a’ mhìorbhail a’ tachairt.
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huala sinn searmon
Bha iadsan Dha dlùth aig uaigh ag amharc. Bha a’ chlach air a gluas’d, ’s lìon-aodach paisgte. Bha Moire le deòir i crom a’ coimhead a-steach don uaigh a shaoil i falamh. B’e a chunnaic a sùil an sin ach dà aingeal nan suidhe san àit’ san robh Iosa na laighe. Iad còmhdaicht’ le chèil’ an culaidhean geala ach labhair iad rith’ mu na deòir bha i a’ frasadh. Thàinig Iosa E Fhèin le ceist nan aingeal. Cò tha thu ag iarraidh? dh’ fhaighnich Esan. Cha do dh’ aithnich i fhèin cò bh’anns a’ Phearsa gus na labhair E a h-ainm; b’e Rabboni a freagairt. Nach tog sinn mar shluagh ceòl taingealachd ’s moladh Thug E an gath às an uaigh do gach aon a bhios Leis-san. B’e Latha na Glòir an seo air thalamh ’s nach can sinn le chèil,’ ‘Tha E airidh air moladh’. •
political arena — and even disregard for scientific fact (for instance where transgenderism is concerned); and I see the amoralism of a society that won’t even discuss the slaughter of millions of babies each year; I see the evil of the weapons that man has created, weapons that could wipe out whole nations via poisoning or nuclear fallout; I see the intolerance of the western world toward Christian views, painting us as dangerous fundamentalists or ignorant yokels. And I’m afraid. I’m afraid because I don’t want to lay down my life — not really. I don’t even want to lose an iota of my comfort or my ‘human rights’, though they were decreed for me by a convention, not God. God told me to expect suffering and give thanks for it because it brings me closer to Jesus. When suffering comes we might allow
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17
a number of verses so hard to apply to our lives that, consciously or unconsciously, we temper them by thinking they can’t really mean what they say. ‘If you do not forgive others, neither will God forgive you.’ ‘Turn the other cheek.’ ‘He who fears is not made perfect in love.’ here are in scripture
LOVE NOT THE WORLD BY DAYSPRING MACLEOD One of the verses that I could never quite take literally was the injunction to ‘love not the world, for whoever loves the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in him’. The reason I find that verse challenging is, of course, that I do love the world. Not only do I love the world, I love the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Or, to take it out of the King James vernacular: I love Hollywood glamour, and films and books that don’t steer entirely clear of the risqué. I love magnificent fashion and beautiful people and red lipstick. I love personal comfort: cappuccinos, lots and lots of butter, an iPhone, firstclass rail travel. I have always had ambitions and happy daydreams of seeing those ambitions fulfilled. I have a nice family and lots of little adventures. My life looks good on Facebook. Why wouldn’t I love the world? For my whole life I’ve thought to myself, ‘This passage really means that it’s okay to love the world, just as long as you love God more.’ No doubt that’s partly true — of course we should enjoy the blessings God has given us on this earth. Even in the midst of horrific war, Dietrich Bonhoeffer rejoiced to see his friends getting engaged and having children, because it showed that God’s people could still enjoy his blessings in the very worst circumstances. It’s really the changing times that have made me consider these verses more carefully. It’s true that Christians have thought the world was irrevocably changing, perhaps even ending, each generation for two millennia. But I see the disregard for truth in our
God to work through it, but we are not good at accepting it, much less welcoming it. The world is changing, and I believe that in the next generation it will become a less comfortable place for Christians. And when persecution comes — with danger, deprivation, suppression, separation, all its many faces of suffering — will we be singing like Paul and Barnabas in chains? It has often been observed that persecution benefits the church: the unbelievers fall away, the believers are refined, and new converts join the Church. Still no one wants to enter the crucible of suffering, but the Lord (in his love, and for the good of his church) may permit it. And inhabit it, waking with us through every step of the fiery furnace. You don’t have to be terribly old to grasp the truth of this life fading away like grass. At twenty I felt I would never die; at thirty-four I see that I was twenty only yesterday. I see that my little children will be grown and gone only tomorrow. I see the things that will matter to me on my deathbed, and how few of them actually belong to this world. The reason we must not love the world is that the world has nothing to offer. The world will let us down. And even if it handed us our wildest dreams, the world will fade away as surely as each of us will from its memory. • But be of good courage. I have overcome the world. John 16:33
PRAYER DIARY MAY/JUNE 2018
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. Colossians 1:3 Tues 15th Please continue to pray for Mission International trustees as they seek God for wisdom for the future work and service of the organisation. Wed 16th The church-planting work of the Presbyterian Free Church of Central India (PFCCI) is expanding; in April 2017 they started two urban churches plants, one in Dindori and one in Bhopal. They have moved into a neighbouring state, Maharashtra, where there are seven Presbyterian churches that want to be part of PFC-CI. Thurs 17th Please pray for the safety of our soldiers. Many are deployed across the globe. Remember all their families left behind. Fri 18th As the preparations for the royal wedding come to an end, pray for the couple as they take their vows tomorrow. Sat 19th Today is the AGM for the WFM. Pray that all those who gather will enjoy a time of fellowship and be inspired to continue supporting the work of the gospel. Sun 20th Remember those gathering in Resolis and in Ferintosh today. Pray for this congregation and Rev. S Sutherland as he serves them as interim moderator. Mon 21st Pray for safety for all those travelling to the General Assembly, which starts this evening. Pray that as they gather there will be good unity and fellowship. Tues 22nd As business begins this morning in Edinburgh, pray that the morning worship will lift the spirits of the commissioners and help them to be focussed on all the business of the week. Wed 23rd Pray that Revs A MacRae and D Lamont as Moderator and retiring Moderator will be upheld throughout these days of Assembly. Thurs 24th As the commissioners make their way home from the Assembly, pray that they will feel encouraged by how the business has been carried out. Fri 25th Give thanks that after ten years as an ‘extension charge’ under the Mission Board, Dunfermline is now self-supporting.
Sat 26th As a result of the falling literacy levels in our schools, the Scottish Bible Society has developed a new resource which is used in afterschool clubs as a partnership between the school, the local church and the Society. Pray for this opportunity. Sun 27th The congregation in Lochinver meet at 3pm. Pray for them and Rev. J Forbes, their interim moderator, as they look to the Lord for guidance for their future. Mon 28th Rev. Patrick Jok asks for prayer for the Sudanese Reformed Church, especially in regard to the reopening and rebuilding of three churches destroyed during the 2013 conflict in Juba and the planting of two new churches there. Tues 29th Scripture Readers sow much seed daily as they work with our armed forces. Ask the Lord to cause the Word to bring conversions. Wed 30th Tearfund ask us to pray for an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where peace and restoration is much needed after a prolonged conflict. Thurs 31st Pray about the Scottish Government’s intended Named Person Scheme to monitor the wellbeing of every child in Scotland, especially the concern that parents’ rights to raise their children according to their values and beliefs could be undermined. Fri 1st Greenock Free Church is holding their annual Psalms for a Summer Evening at 7.30 tonight. The Chairman for the evening is Rev. Allan Shearer from Glasgow City Free Church. Pray this will be an uplifting evening for all who attend. Sat 2nd Pray that those who would overwhelmingly seek to protect all human life will speak out against the moves within the BMA and Royal College of Midwives, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to support the further liberalisation of abortion. Sun 3rd Pray for the vacant congregation in Brora, for Rev. R MacDonald as he takes their morning services and Rev. R MacRae as interim moderator. Mon 4th Give thanks for every ministry that reaches out with the gospel to people with disabilities. Pray that increasingly churches will actively welcome and encourage them to be part of the family.
Tues 5th The Mission Board meet today. Pray for them as they discuss the issues on their agenda and seek God’s will for the future work of the church. Wed 6th The Perth congregation ask for prayer for their renovation/ refurbishment project. Their building is in a strategic position in the community; pray that it will be a sanctuary for local people. Thurs 7th Pray for all the students who have finished their course in ETS. Ask that they will know God’s presence as they wait for his plans for their future to unfold. Fri 8th Pray too for the seminary staff as they take stock of the past year and make preparations for the future. Sat 9th Today has been set aside as the Fundraising Day for our summer Camps. Pray that money would be raised to help make it possible for camps to remain affordable. Thurs 10th The church has named today as Camps Prayer Day. Let us pray for all those who have responsibility for organising the camps programme and for all the youngsters who are looking forward to going to camp. Fri 11th FEBA Radio works with local partner HDCS in the Community Radio in Nepal Project (CoRIN). Two radio stations called Afno FM serve communities in Okhaldhunga and Dadeldhura, broadcasting programmes to help transform the quality of people’s lives. Sat 12th The Presbytery of Skye and Wester Ross are planning a visit by Rico Tice in March 2019. The meetings will be mainly held in Portree. Pray for committee planning the arrangements. Sun 13th Pray for the ministry of 20schemes, led by Mez McConnell. This ministry is working to plant 20 churches in 20 housing schemes led by native leaders from the schemes themselves. Mon 14th Rev. David Meredith, Mission Director, and Rev. Iver Martin, ETS Principal, will be at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in American in Atlanta, Georgia from 15th-17th June. David will be speaking at a seminar for the UK partnership, a group of PCA churches who help fund gospel work in Scotland. Give thanks for generous partnership in the gospel.
Prayer requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please take time to send requests for your congregation or ministry to be included in forthcoming Records. These prayer notes are prepared 5 weeks in advance of publication.
BY CATRIONA MURRAY
POST TENEBRAS LUX
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hile it may indeed be true
that we are never more than ten feet away from a rat, I find it even scarier that we are rarely ever more than months away from an election. Writing as someone who used to take an active role in party politics here in Lewis, I must confess to eventually suffering ballot box fatigue, and giving the whole thing up as a bad – and wearisome — job. Imagine my surprise, then, to find myself concerned with not one, but two elections simultaneously during March. One was to elect new elders and deacons in our congregation, the other for Trustees to manage the Stornoway Estate. I had, as it were, no horse in the former race, but was a candidate in the latter. Women, of course, are not eligible for office in the church. That is, we cannot be deacons, with the responsibility and weight of expectation which necessarily accompany that role. There is nothing whatsoever preventing us from performing diaconal functions, however. Indeed, we are called, as Christians of either gender, to serve. It is a fact which I find hard to explain to those outside the church who think it anti-feminist, who simply see women being denied a badge of office. They cannot understand the jurisdiction of the Bible, nor, indeed, the spirit of service which governs the Christian life. It was that same spirit which brought me — reluctantly — into the other election. I had dismissed the idea of standing out of hand, but a series of circumstances caused me to believe I was indeed being led.
Public life in Lewis is under mounting pressure from a small, though vocal, group of secularists. They have focused much of their effort on dismantling Christian influence. Hitherto, this had taken the form of lobbying for increased Sunday opening of public services and facilities; now it seems aimed at replacing Christians on governing boards and committees. I remember, as a student, writing an essay comparing the involvement of priests in South Uist and Barra in local committees with the total avoidance of such participation by Protestants in Lewis. It struck me then as shortsighted. Now I believe we are paying the price, and fighting to reclaim the ground we naively conceded. It was evident that more than just me have woken up to the danger. In an election for five places, there might normally be somewhere between six and ten candidates. This time, there were twenty-two. The short campaign normally passes quietly, and the result is announced without fanfare. Not this time — the campaign was conducted by some as though it were the race for the White House. I confess to being taken aback by the levels of vitriol and paranoia to which I was subject for such low-level office. It brought home to me the importance of what was at stake. Not the function of Trustee, per se, but the soul of our community. Melodramatic? No, just accurate. We are facing reality. Too many years of holding ourselves aloof from community politics has
created a community which is taken aback when the church offers an opinion. Indeed, there has been an undertone of ‘foul play’ because all the Trustees elected were ‘traditionalist’. Stornoway still wants that to be its voice, but the secularists — chillingly — are not willing to accept the verdict; they think, as we used to ourselves, that Christians have no business getting involved. Meanwhile, they are busily mobilising their meagre forces. Their ideology has been comprehensively rejected at the ballot box, so they try imposing it upon us in other ways. Local schools are reacting to complaints and quietly ditching long-held traditions like grace before meals and the morning Lord’s Prayer. A complaint from one parent is enough to end these practices; yet an appeal from dozens to reinstate it cuts no ice. Despite the clear indication from this community that we value our religious traditions, secularism blithely tramples them. It knows best. I grudgingly admire their commitment to the cause of … nothing. They are determined to bring their bereftness to bear on an entire culture. We, meanwhile, who have a real cause to defend — the only cause truly worth the effort — need to find our voices. We pray for those in public service. Increasingly, though, we need to be willing to serve, ourselves, beyond the comfortable walls of the church. That is the only way to ensure Christ’s place at the top of every agenda. •