Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

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April 2, 2016
11:15 amto12:30 pm

Worship service led by Pastor Marcel Ghioalda

Pastor’s Page

Dear Friends

Last Sabbath, I confess, God gave me a jolt. It was as if I had been struck by lightning. It was not the dangerous discharge of uncontrolled energy from the sky, but a brilliant flash that revealed the power of His presence.

On the Friday, I had tried to tune myself into what God wanted to say to our congregation through Ephesians 5. Verse 1 says ‘Be imitators of God’ and I had gone to bed reasonably happy with the sermon I had written. On Sabbath morning I awoke at 5am, which is very unusual for me. I’d had a memorable dream, and, for the first time in my life, God seemed to be saying, ‘tell your dream to the congregation.’

I’ve had too many negative encounters with people who have wanted to tell others about their dreams, so immediately dismissed the idea as a bad one! I reasoned that Joel 2.28 is for the future and not the present. It will only be during the arrival of the latter rain that His Spirit will be poured out when old men will dream dreams. I have tried interpreting dreams in the past and decided that my dreams were more the result of something I’d eaten rather than the movement of the Holy Spirit.

As I prayed, the prompting to tell about this dream grew stronger, so I gave in and found a way of weaving it into my sermon. In the dream I was walking down a corridor and noticed a woman who I thought looked a bit like Vivienne, a friend from student days. Vivienne was a beautiful, musical, vivacious and spiritual friend. In the dream she turned away, seeming not to notice me while concealing a half smoked cigarette in her hand. It can’t be Vivienne I thought. It had been many years since we had seen each other but I was sure she would never smoke!

After some time in the dream, my wife Karen and I entered a large room and started talking to different friends. In the corner I recognised Vivienne whom I had seen in the corridor. However, her friends were calling her Annette. Eventually Karen and I talked with her. She said that Annette was the new name she had adopted to let everyone know she was a different person.  She said that in the past, like when she had tried to avoid me recognising her in the corridor, she had given the impression of being a happy Christian.  But the truth was that she had always lived two lives. Now as ‘Annette’ she wanted to live an honest and authentic Christian life.  She said that she wanted people to know that being a Christian could be an up and down ride, and she wanted to be transparent about the struggle and no longer pretend.

Before sharing this story in the sermon I mentally checked that there were no Annettes or Viviennes in our congregation. It was then a real surprise at the end of the service to meet a visitor who asked me about my dream. She said she felt the dream spoke to her, as a confirmation of God’s call to her life. She had been training to serve God and felt called to help create authentic and honest Christian communities. After she inquired again, I confirmed that I very clearly heard Vivienne say her new name was Annette!! Then she said, ‘My name is Annette!’

I was shocked, as I realised that God had spoken to me through a dream. I learned in a dramatic way that God still uses supernatural intervention.

It has been humbling for me to realise how easily I have dismissed the voice of God in my life. With the confirmation of His leading through this dream, I am praying that I will always be quick to listen to my Lord’s direction.

·       How is the Holy Spirit trying to communicate with you?

  • How can we listen to the important things the Holy Spirit is trying to say to us?
  • How can we be more authentic Christians, whose beliefs, values, words and actions are honest and consistent, and where we don’t pretend and wear masks to make us look good to others or to hide our struggles and distress?

Come Holy Spirit, come!

Pastor Bernie Holford

Pastor’s Page

Dear Friends

The recent long spell of wet weather has had most of us grumbling!  Plans have been interrupted and many people have stories of flooding and disaster.  On reflection, what I have just realised is that during what seemed like days of persistent grey skies, I was longing for the weather to be the way it should be!  After a long cold winter, we deserve some better weather; it cheers us up.

I have other longings that are more significant than for a warm sunny day!  Visiting older folk in hospital or their homes is a blessing to me.  Despite their resilient spirits and the encouragement we share together, I am left with a similar longing to when the rain keeps pouring.  I long for a better day when Jesus will come and end all suffering.

A deep (though often unrecognised) pain is the ache of human hearts for meaning and purpose to life. As Christians, we have discovered that our connection with Christ has answered our questions about the future and brought us peace and a deep sense of joy.  Rather than keeping this for ourselves, let’s live and work to relieve the pain of so many people, especially the hurt that comes from being alone and not close to others.  ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’* means that as we bring God’s peace to others, we experience the blessing of God.  As we serve to grow the kingdom of God, our longing for a better world is balanced by our experience of Jesus peace today.  ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled.’ John 14:27  May all our longings find their solution in Jesus, His truth and His presence.

Pastor Bernie Holford

*Matt 5:9

Pastor’s Page ~ January

Dear Friends,

Winter or Spring? Looking for signs of hope.

‘We have not had a real winter yet’ someone said to me the other day. In the last couple of years by the end of January, most areas of Scotland have had weeks of frosty weather with heavy snowfalls.  The mornings may still be dark, but spring is on its way.

Yesterday I conducted a funeral for Rene, an 86 year old recent member of our church in Crieff. In the last few days of her life, her daughter placed beside hospital bed a pot with snowdrops in flower. They were one of her favourite plants. Outside our church, bunches of snowdrops are now showing their white umbrellas as if to say, even in the winter there are signs of spring ahead. I love the way snowdrops carpet the forest floor in so many glens. Last year I was awed by the spectacular display of so many varieties of snowdrop at the Cambo  Estate near St Andrews. I can understand why they have been called a symbol of hope – as they flower in the depth of winter, but seem to promise that spring is not far off.

In the long dark Scottish winters, the world seems bleak and unfriendly. Many find their energy levels are low. We desperately need all the signs of hope we can get, that the weather will get warmer and spring will arrive. Many people feel the cold of a spiritual winter in our land. The darkness of broken relationships and failed expectations cover many with a cloud of despair. Will life ever get better? Will winter give way to spring?

Jesus promised that He would return to earth to end all the pain and suffering. John 14:1-3. We are living in a wintry spiritual climate. Christ promised that He would send us signs of hope before He returns. Every time I hear some bad news: a ship sinking, a terrorist attack, a car accident, a church closing down, as awful as they are, they are reminders that this world is in perpetual winter. On the other hand, when we see generous acts of kindness and love, we see embedded in this inclement season signs that spring is on its way.

Christ will come back soon and Jesus will initiate a new season that will take all His beloved children into a balmy perpetual summer where the warmth of His love will never fade. For His friends, relationships will be restored and God will banish winter forever! In the meantime let’s bring God’s hope to the world, by our kindness and witness. I believe the promise of Christ – winter is passing and the Spring of God’s new kingdom is coming soon! I invite you to discover and feel the warmth of this promise – today.

May God fill you with His hope.

Pastor Bernie Holford

 

Pastor’s Page ~ December

Dear Friends,

The God of Surprises

Christmas is almost upon us again and the children are especially getting excited.  Most of them are looking forward to receiving presents, but according to the current John Lewis TV advert, at least one child can’t wait for Christmas because he wants to give a present to his very surprised parents. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSLOnR1s74o

There is something wonderful about unwrapping a present – our curiosity is aroused, we do our best to work out what is inside before we finally open it. We love having a good surprise, and in turn, giving other people surprises as well.

God loves giving surprises. Can you imagine how Mary felt when an angel appeared out of nowhere to tell her that she was going to have a baby – and that without an earthly father! The shepherds must have been shocked at the appearance of the angels in the sky announcing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Throughout the Bible, God tends to turn up, unannounced and unexpected, to those who are hoping or longing for him. From Abraham on, the patriarchs and prophets told their stories of encounters with a God who surprised them with his intervention in their lives.

As I stood in the pulpit of the new Faifley church last Sabbath for the very first time, I was deeply moved by the way God continues to surprise us today. At the beginning of 2011 I had no idea that such a suitable building was going to come on the market at an affordable price. This church has become a wonderful present to this congregation and community, just before Christmas. Without it, the congregation would be meeting in a very chilly church.  Now, the members are excited at what God will do now to help them grow, serve and reach their community.

I wonder what good surprises God has in store for you in 2012?  Every day of the new year has the potential to bring small and big surprises for which we can rejoice and give thanks to God. Let’s remember as we pray for the year ahead, the message of the angel to Mary , ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ Luke 1:37! May the God of surprises, answer our prayers that you and all our members and friends will experience his serendipity (happy surprises) in our lives this year.

May God bless you richly as we rejoice at what Christ has done in 2011 and will do in 2012.

Pastor Bernie Holford

Pastor’s Page ~ November

Dear Friends

On Monday 24th October, we laid to rest our dear friend, Pastor Martin Bell, in the Crieff Cemetery.  He had died after a short battle with cancer.  At the funeral service we heard about his life and work.  He was a gifted man, a wonderful preacher and a genuinely caring chaplain.  As the director of Roundelwood for many years, he impacted an enormous number of people with his warmth and spiritual insight.  He will be missed by his family, the retired church workers for whom he served as chaplain, and his many friends in Crieff and around the UK.  Although it is very sad that we have lost such a great man, we are comforted by the sure and certain promise of the resurrection for Martin, and all who believe.

 

Two days later, Karen and I were delighted to hear that our daughter had safely given birth to our first grandchild, Zara, 7lb 10oz!  It is quite a transition and has lifted our spirits enormously.  I discovered why the old custom of the grandparents visiting ASAP after the birth is so important.  But witnessing the new parents with the baby, and holding her ourselves for a short while, was well worth all the time and effort of driving to Oxford to see them.  After the long wait of the pregnancy, the baby is finally here.  We sat together around the hospital bed and praised and thanked God for this new life, a sign of hope that life goes on.  As we held her completely helpless little body she reminded us of our need to be born again and become vulnerably dependent on our loving Father God.

 

Pastor Bernie

 

Guest Devotional ~ Jeniffer Oroko

Jeniffer Oroko recalls the blessing of an African mother who loved and disciplined and a village who helped raise children to be respectful.  She asks the question, ‘Do we need to rethink our society’s attitude to child raising in the light of the recent riots?’

 

Mother’s Noble Role

Proverbs 31:27 -28    “She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”

The memory is still vivid in my mind of this lone mother standing side by side with her eleven year old son.  It is three days after horrifying scenes of social disorder and violence on the streets of London.  The fires have died down and the authorities are seeking to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice. It does not get any worse than the shocking reality of how young some of those were, who caused mayhem in the streets. The mother stands there waiting to hear from the Judge the fate of her child.  Nobody is with her;  she is all alone picking up the pieces. I just can’t imagine what is going through her mind but she stands stoically by her son. How could her child be part of this dark time in the history of Britain? That must never have been in her plan for her little boy.

Mothers take a special place in our lives; they have the best welfare at heart for their children and want the best for them; they will stand by their children at all times.  Those mothers who think and do otherwise for their children, need psychological help.  Mothers work hard to shape how we turn out in our later lives.  Speaking of my own mother, she had a heavy influence on who I am today.  My mother taught me to work hard.  She lived at a time when ‘child labour’ arguments had not been conceived.  If she apportioned out duties to my siblings and me, she expected them to be done without question.  If I did not do my duty, the line of action was clear: she invoked and literally applied Paul’s advice ‘If a man does not work, he does not eat’ 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

In a country where social welfare policy did not exist, I had to learn to fend for myself early.  If I wanted shoes, (which I never had until I went to Secondary School) and I had to get them simply because they were a requirement, I had to work for them.  One does not take advantage of civil disorder downtown and help oneself to other people’s property with an argument that the society has not catered for them.  My mother would consider that self-disrespect.

My mother taught me resilience. When you want something, you will get it if you are focussed enough.  It might take long to achieve it, but you will achieve it eventually; patience will always be a virtue. One would think she had listened to the one time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s five word speech ‘Never, Never, Never give up!’

My mother taught me respect and especially of the elders.  An opportunity to ‘reason’ with an elder was so rare that actually it never existed.  I took advice from an elder because they knew better.  These folks of my village, including my mother, never understood that this autocratic approach constituted ‘emotional abuse’ of their children. Actually, if I had the audacity to state my case, the application of the common saying ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ (He who spares the rod, hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him -Proverbs 13:24), was swift and without any regret.  The village had never heard of ‘Child Helpline’ or any Social Work intervention.  What there was in my time was ‘Mother Helpline’ such that when my mother disciplined me, the ‘Social Work’ intervention of the time (other village women) was at hand to assist her in meting out the discipline.  I did not have anywhere to run to for consolation or refuge because everyone understood that I needed that discipline to give me strength to face the world out there and make me responsible.  You see in my village, the understanding was that bringing up children was a community effort, true to the African idiom of ‘It takes a village to bring up a child’. And sure enough, the community lived up to that!

When I reflect on the journey I travelled with my mother until she ‘rested in the Lord’ 10 years ago now less a month, I praise the Lord for her and  always call her blessed.   I am what I am because of my mother with God’s help!

For those of us who have been called to the noble role of being mothers, the challenge is real. Times have changed from when we grew up.  Now we have ‘big brother’ surveillance and a society with a different approach to raising up children.  The reality was stacked against the mother at one of the trials of the looters after the London riots recently as explained in the opening paragraph.  That was a big lesson for me. The poor mother was all alone standing by her eleven year old  boy.  There was no Social Work present to help her, after  she had failed to instill life’s virtues in him.  It is so important to know how to discipline our children firmly with  love and good guidance.

My prayer is that we consistently pray for wisdom that comes only from above which leads us to be…. “pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere”. James 3:17. This wisdom will guide us in these tricky times to know how to carry out the noble role divinely given to us as mothers, so we can live up to the picture painted in Proverbs 31:28 and enjoy the reality of those words!

Guest Devotional ~ Filip Bajic

When God Makes You Laugh

Imagine that you’re a 75-year old man. If you’re a woman, you might have to stretch your imagination muscle a bit. You’re 75, and your wife is 65. Your whole life you’ve been trying to conceive, but it just won’t happen. Now, imagine that at this age God appears to you and gives you a few promises; some of them you understand, some of them not quite. The part you understand is that your offspring will be numerous. In practical terms this means that you will have a child who will then procreate and produce more offspring. The part you don’t understand is that somehow, through your offspring, the whole earth will be blessed.

The first time you hear this you think: ‘Ok, everything is possible with God; I believe that at some point I will have a child, even at this old-ish age.’ Throughout the next 24 years God appears to you a few more times, each time repeating the promise; many things happen in those years…but your wife’s belly still isn’t growing – at least not from being pregnant. At this point you’re 99 and your wife is 89.

And it is at this point in his life that God appears to Abraham again, and this time the promise is a bit more specific. God tells him that he shall have a child with Sarah – his wife. Most of the time when God would appear before people, they would fall on their face and be struck with awe, amazement, and sometimes terror – most people would become speechless. Abraham fell on his face…and laughed! I mean, who wouldn’t? He was almost 100 years old, and Sarah’s hips were probably in need of replacement; they were in no shape to bear a child, not to mention her reproductive system which was way past the ‘best before’ date.

God responds by affirming that Sarah will bear a son, and that they should name him Isaac which means ‘he laughs’. Sure enough, after a year, Sarah gave birth to Isaac and said: ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me’. Every time they would hear the name of their son, both Abraham and Sarah – who looked more like grandparents than parents – could laugh together in their old age as they remembered how God can sometimes fulfil His promises in His own funny way. (Gen. 12-21)
There are three points that jump out at me from this story:

1.    God has a sense of humour – He gives children to unlikely couples, He brings out great people from barren women, and He makes the most curious choices when choosing people to use for His purpose (He chooses a bad speaker to go in front of a Pharaoh and to be a leader of a huge nation, chooses a Jewish terrorist to become His no.1 gentile evangeliser, saves a whole nation through a foreign prostitute, etc.). He does all this not just to make a story more interesting, but because He (and most of the time ONLY He) knows what He’s doing.

2.    When God says something, He’s serious about it – our God is ‘the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8), and when He says something, He means it. This should be a word of both encouragement and caution. Have faith in His promises and take His word seriously.

3.    ‘Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord’ (Psalm 27:14) – if you think you’ve waited long enough, if you think God is acting slowly – your financial situation is not getting any better, you’re still single, the health of you or your loved one is not improving – remember Abraham! He had a promise from God repeated more than once and still waited for its fulfilment for 25 years. God knows when, why, and how; and above all, God cares!

Pastor’s Page ~ August

Dear Friends

By the time you read this, it will be old news, but is still important to share.

In the Crieff church on Sabbath 23rd July, I heard the announcement that scores of young people on the island of Utøya in lock Tyrifjorden in Norway had been killed by a Norwegian gunman, dressed as a policeman. In the shock we did our best to pray for all those affected by this enormous tragedy.

The SDA high school in Norway is located a few miles from Utøya island. I have visited it and have friends who live in this beautiful area and feel with their shock as they come to terms with what the gunman, Anders Brevik, has done. Everyone there seems to know someone who has been affected by what seemed like mindless killing.

Naturally reporters have tried to understand what motivated Brevik to kill so many people. Some may suggest that he was badly affected by the consequences of his father leaving home at the age of one; but this is no excuse! My initial interpretation of his so called ‘manifesto’ is that he developed into an ardent racist and nationalist with a hatred for those who encouraged a pluralistic society. He not only hates Muslims, but he has attempted to start a ‘crusade’ against them, and those who promote so called ‘multiculturalism’.

A quick search of the internet shows how this hatred is easy to foster and it leads to death! Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to attack such fatal attitudes in any society. We must be the champions of those of other races and religions who are attacked or victimised. That is why our church’s religious liberty department will fight legal cases defending the rights of SDA’s as well as those of other faiths whose religious liberty is threatened.

As Seventh-day Adventist Christians in Scotland, we join our Norwegian friends in condemning the atrocity in Oslo and Utøya. We also condemn hateful language of any sort that creates a fear of people who are different from us, whether they are Muslims, English, blacks, homosexuals, atheists, Roman Catholics or SDA’s with a different theological emphasis and we must do more than speak out, we must build bridges of friendship even with those of other faiths and lifestyles.

As I write this piece, I am in Romania with the Scottish Mission youth project to build a house for a desperately poor family with a disabled child. I will report more on this positive experience another time.  In the meantime if you want to see pictures of the progress, go to the Facebook page found by searching: Project Romania ’11 Scottish mission youth.

I will leave you with the words of Jesus that challenge us to a wider ministry of reconciliation! ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of God.’ (Matt 5:9)  I pray that God will empower us to be His peacemakers everywhere we go.

Pastor Bernie

Monthly Devotional ~ June

Monthly Devotional  – by Taylor Bajic

A Way of Life

On occasion, I have the privilege of leading the Irvine Church’s Junior Sabbath School class in their lesson study and on one particular Sabbath morning a while back, we all took part in an interesting activity together – the two children in the class as well as myself.  We all wrote a list of five items which we own which are extremely valuable to us, and we shared them with the group.  Some listed were a dog, a bicycle, a mobile phone, a Play Station 3.  We had a lot of fun together discussing why they are important to us, what we do with them and so on.

I then asked them a question: ‘Now, in what ways can we use these very things to share Jesus with others and to serve Him?’

There were a few seconds of silence and deep thought… This was a different story; but these lovely children inspired me that morning, as they so often do!  It wasn’t long until one of them said, “Well, a dog is often seen as a friend and a source of comfort… If one of my friends is hurting or sad, I could go and visit her with my dog, and then she could even keep him for the day to maybe help cheer her up.”  The other said, “I could use my bicycle to go visit someone who needs a friend.  Or I could let someone borrow it who needs it”  And “I could use my mobile phone to call someone up who needs to talk and tell them about Jesus.”  Wow… I was humbled.  These kids have it all right.  Even I found it challenging to think of how I could use my computer or my books to share Jesus with someone.

These 9- and 10-year-olds reminded me that the things we use on a daily basis, things that are very important to our everyday lives, can be used in so many other ways and for many other reasons than we would have thought when we initially bought or received them.  They reminded me that Christianity is not merely a belief system, a set of doctrines and traditions, but it is a way of life.  As 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, ‘…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’  He has given us an abundance of gifts and blessings so that we may use them for others and for Him, to share them with everyone with whom we come in contact, to glorify Him.

We are graciously given life, and life abundantly, every day.  What we do with that life is our personal choice, but God has given us such an amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, that we may have that personal bond and relationship with Jesus Christ if we choose  (John 14:17, 26). When we give our every day to God and His perfect and loving purpose, we have nothing to lose.  When we spend time with Him and invite the Holy Spirit in, we will begin to see Him in every aspect of our lives and the love that He gives us will automatically shine in and through us (John 7:38, 39).  Our entire perspectives will be changed and turned towards Him.  His Word and character will be written on our hearts and in our every action, a part of our everyday lives (Jeremiah 31:33, 34).  This is what I long for, for Christ to be the first and last in my life, every day.

Pastor’s Page ~ June 2011

Dear Friends,
Small is beautiful!
I’ve just been talking to some friends who have experienced the blessing of attending the combined NEC and SEC camp meeting last week. Many were impressed with the vast numbers attending.  However, it was so crowded on Sabbath morning, with 1000’s in attendance, that some had to struggle for a seat, and felt guilty that they had not shown Christian generosity to others who could not find a place.
In comparison, the first Scottish Mission Camp Meeting a few weeks ago was small, with about 150 attending on Sabbath morning.  The good thing is that even though the hall was almost full, there was space for everyone!  From the feedback we received, people were even more blessed than they expected.  They appreciated the excellent spiritual nourishment, the time to be with the church family and good food.  I would like to thank all those who came both to serve and to be blessed.  It was a great experience that I pray will build the spiritual life of our members and strengthen us for the work God has called us to do.
This SMNL has an excellent report on Camp meeting that I hope will give you more of a flavour of the event, as well as a thoughtful devotional by Taylor. vI hope you enjoy reading it.
Please pray for the BUC session on the Sunday 3rd July that God’s will and wisdom will prevail.  There are some exciting proposals which need the input of the whole church.  Please pray too for the delegates from Scotland: Owen Anderson, Martin Bell, Jimmy Botha, Virginia Dube, Bernie Holford, Lorance Johnson, Steve Logan, Lawrence Pollard, Efraim Zakarias.  We may only have a small presence at the BUC session, but with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, I believe a small group can have a beautiful influence.
May God bless you as you read the rest of the SMNL and give glory to our great God who does wonderful things for us all.
Pastor Bernie

Guest Devotional ~ Taylor Bajic

‘As Jesus Sees Us’

If you are anything like me, you have, at some point in your life, doubted yourself, felt worthless, helpless, unworthy of good things, or a combination of all of these – and possibly on multiple occasions. And as humans, we are also quick to judge others and to see the negative in people – it’s in our nature. As sinful humans, we are never satisfied with the condition of ourselves, this world, or of those that inhabit it. We tend to be indifferent to others and their lot in life, especially those that we don’t know and love.

But we are not only humans; we are God’s children, first and foremost. (1 John 5:1) A good friend of mine once sighed, ‘Oh that we could just see ourselves [and others] as Jesus sees us…’ We are, each and every one of us on this earth, beloved children of Christ Jesus, each granted the wonderful and perfect gift of eternal life with Him, if we only accept it. We are all heirs of His kingdom, blessed with His unfailing love. ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom 5:8, NIV), all of us. We are all ‘in the same boat’, so to speak – only, some out there don’t know it…

In God’s eyes, we are all unique, valued, loved creations of His very own, some that know Him and too many that don’t. God adores the old man at the newspaper kiosk and the mysterious teen who hangs out in the pub just as much as He loves you and me. He yearns for their companionship in heaven just as much as He wants us there. The salvation I was so blessed to discover and understand and accept for myself is meant for the person down the street just as much as it is for me. It is for me, it is for you, it is for them. If we remember this every time we look in the mirror, every time we walk down the street and meet others on the way, it will greatly enrich our relationships with others, and even, if I may say so, with our very selves. It will open our eyes to a bigger picture, to our purpose here on earth. God does not want anyone to miss out on paradise with Him in His kingdom – we shouldn’t either. He created each of us with the intent to take us home again with Him, forgiven and justified in Him. Our purpose should be to share with as many as possible what God has done in our lives, who He is, and how they can come to know that same God and the wonderful hope He offers, to care for them as Jesus would.

When we doubt ourselves or feel worthless, we must remember that we are not worthless in God’s eyes – far from it! We should care for ourselves, and more so, we should care genuinely for those around us, no matter who they are. We may feel imperfect – because naturally we are – but it does not hinder God and His work in our lives and those of others, His holy purpose. And it does not stand in the way of His love for us. We are not finished yet. As a song of my childhood says, ‘our paint is still wet.’ And we know that ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Phil 1:6, NIV). God is in perfect control – He knows what He is doing. Let’s open ourselves up for His work and plan in our lives and see what happens. I have a feeling we’ll be surprised by joy.

Pastor’s Page ~ May

Dear Friends,

As I visited the practice nurse today for a minor treatment for a blocked ear canal, the lights went out, a power cut stopped work. The nurse opened the blinds and we gazed out at the wind and rain twisting and lashing the trees and shrubs. The nurse said, ‘I love extreme weather, it’s fascinating. ‘ As I’m writing, I’m hearing stories from around Scotland of damage from falling trees and power cuts. Flights have been cancelled as the Grimsvotn volcano ash moves south. After our warm and pleasant April, it seems as though the weather has hit us with a fury, but this is very mild in comparison to the tornado in Missouri where more than 100 people were killed today.

We love talking about unusual weather and wonder if there is any larger meaning to these exceptional forces of nature that harass us. For me they are a timely reminder of the very limited power we have as human beings. In a month where we have celebrated the opening of the new Scottish Mission office, I’m also aware that it only takes a huff and a puff of wind or a fire, and our earthly work is destroyed.

Building a mission office was not an end in itself; it is simply a place that we can use to serve God while we are here. On Tuesday 17th, the pastors and sponsors met there to learn about and discuss our mission, the nurture and growth of our church in Scotland. Evangelism was the main subject, and I was encouraged as our leaders shared approaches and methods for wining the lost to Christ and his church family. God is blessing our church, but there is so much more that we need to do!

I’m a bit hard of hearing as my ear canal is still blocked, however, this won’t stop me listening to the good news of how God is holding back another sort of wind.  The winds of strife are being held so that we can reach all the Scots that God loves and is drawing to him. I pray that you will gaze on the Source of all power and hear the call to proclaim the Good News to your neighbours and friends! Maranatha, Christ is coming.

Pastor Bernie

Monthly Devotional

Monthly Devotional  – by Elizabeth Iheoma

Psalm 103 – described by some as the master-piece of all of David’s Psalms – holds a special place in my heart. Whenever I read this particular psalm I cannot help but appreciate the benefits, the benevolence and the bigness of the God I serve.

Benefits of God (verses 1-7)

God has forgiven my sins and has healed my diseases and I am restored to the favour of God. He treats me with compassion and kindness and gives me good things. He forgives me as I am still sinning and repenting. He fills me with new life and joy and strengthens me for His service. Spurgeon puts it beautifully ‘He gives us a crown adorned with gems of grace and lined with the velvet of loving kindness. It is decked with the jewels of mercy but made soft for the head to wear by lining it with tenderness’. Only God can satisfy my soul.

Benevolence of God (Verses 8-18)

God is good to all. He removes my sins so far that it is immeasurable and my relation with Him is no longer affected. As a caring Father, he shows kindness when I am weak in knowledge and teaches me. He bears with me when I am proud and full of myself. He shows compassion on me when I am sick and He comforts me. He shows kindness when I make mistakes and helps me to rise. And as I submit to Him he forgives me and puts me right.
Why?
God considers my frailty as a human being. I am just as vulnerable as a beautiful delicate flower in an open field exposed to the harsh elements. In contrast, my God is everlasting and considers how little I can do, how little I can bear and has compassion on me.

Bigness of God (verses 19-22)

Everything is disposed for God’s glory. He calls upon the whole of creation in heaven and earth to join in the chorus of thanks giving. There is a world of holy angels praising Him. God is on His throne and has universal dominion which gives me full assurance that He will keep His promises. What a big, big God I serve.

I invite you to join me in this universal thanks giving and praise to have our voice heard as we – the pardoned and redeemed – declare ‘Bless the Lord O my Soul!’

*The Treasury of David, Charles.H. Spurgeon www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries

I recently re encountered a familiar passage in the Psalms and, although most of you have probably read it many times, I’d love to revisit it with you. Each time I study this beautiful song of David, I gain a new and deeper understanding of God’s character, complete reassurance of His love, such great encouragement and strength. I hope you come away with a fresh and personal blessing of your own.

Psalm 139 (NIV) (Italics my own)
‘O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

‘You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

‘If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

‘How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

‘If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’

David is in complete awe… and with perfect reason! Not only did God specially and uniquely create each of us, knowing us completely even before our parents knew us, He freed us to make our own choices, however far from His will they might take us. He truly knows our very hearts, our deepest desires, our darkest places – far better than we could ever know of ourselves – and yet, in spite of all this, Romans 8:38, 39 assures us that ‘…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

He is very familiar with all our ways, even those traits and tendencies we are ashamed of and don’t completely understand ourselves – and He loves us. There is no place that we can go that He will not come with us – He will not desert us. He loves us the way we are, yet He is not content to let us stay that way, because He loves us so deeply.

What a God we serve!

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