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Guest Devotional ~ Pr David Hatch

He turned to God in Prayer

We often study the book of Daniel with a focus on the prophecies found therein, yet the book can yield much more as we explore it. We can find, at least in the first six chapters, much of the Bibles teaching on good health. The book also has much to teach us about prayer.

Let us take a brief look at the beginning of chapter 9: 1-3.

Verse 1 ‘In the first year of Darius . . .’

We have moved on 13 years since chapter 8 (or if you like we have gone back to the time of chapter 6). It is the time of the silver chest and of the bear like creature, raised up on one side with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth, also the time of the ram, charging to the west, the north and the south. Time is a witness to the prophecies of chapters 2, 7 and 8 beginning to be fulfilled. It is the time of Cyrus of whom Isaiah said that he was to be a messiah and the saviour of Israel. Cyrus was to be a type of Jesus. Now Cyrus the Persian reigned and his co-regent Darius ruled the Chaldeans. Daniel observes as prophecy is being fulfilled and he begins to understand.

Verse 2 ‘. . . I, Daniel, consulted the books concerning the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD that had come to Jeremiah the prophet, were to be the term of Jerusalem’s desolation – seventy years’.

The conclusion of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh (2 Chronicles in the Christian Bible), reformulates Jeremiah’s prophecy and makes a direct reference to Cyrus and to Daniels time as he studies the prophet’s words. Daniel had not been sure about the meaning of the goat and his activities – maybe – just maybe – he thought that the devastation of Jerusalem was to last for 2,300 years. Having studied the scroll of Jeremiah and there found what must have gladdened his heart (the 70 year time scale); he now has hope for his people, for God’s City and for God’s Temple. These 70 years have now advanced some 67/68 years and as yet nothing has happened. Jerusalem and the Temple are still in ruins and the people, the Hebrews are still in exile. Time is running out for this prophecy to be fulfilled. But Daniel is seeing the prophecies of his visions (and one of Nebuchadnezzar’s) being brought to fruition. The partial fulfilments must have encouraged him – yet time is still running out. So – what to do? Daniel does the right thing and turns to God in prayer.

Verse 3 ‘I turned my face to the Lord God, devoting myself to prayer and supplication, in fasting, in sackcloth and ashes.’

In the book of Daniel, to this point, there have already been six prayers – now the seventh – the final one in the book, perhaps an appropriate number. Although the book of Daniel is full of apocalyptic (symbolic, end-time) visions and miracles – the book follows the daily rhythm of prayer. These seven prayers are not always Daniel’s. Some of them are explicit, others are profound. You will notice as you read carefully that these prayers are rooted in the historical event of the one who is praying. The prayer here in chapter nine is the longest of the seven. Please note that it comes to us between two prophecies, each of which involves the number seven. The prophecy immediately before the prayer, as we have seen concerns the 70 years of Jeremiah which tells of the return of Israel from their Babylonian exile. The prophecy that follows, as you can see if you read on further in the book, concerns the 70 weeks, telling us of the restoration of Jerusalem and the world’s salvation. Please note here the Biblical concept of the Spiritual. In the Bible, when the Divine is met, this is not divorced from reality, the two experiences are interrelated. It has been said that ‘History rests in the hands of Prayer’, so in our text, Daniel turns to God in Prayer. Please note Daniel’s attitude, he offers his prayer from behind ‘the mask of death’.

Verse 3 ‘. . . in fasting, in sackcloth and ashes’.

These are the symbols of death. It appears that it was common in Biblical times to accompany prayer this way. Fasting is often associated with abstention from food (though this may not always be what God wants us to abstain from), so like the dead, one does not eat. Sackcloth was a very simple and rough garment usually made from ram’s wool or from camel hair. This was simple clothing as the dead wear. Ashes, just as a dead body decays to ashes so we crumble before God. As dust, the created calls upon his Creator. It is, after all, God who is the giver and sustainer of life, the source of all things.

We see in the text that Daniel does the right thing; he turns to God in prayer and he comes to that prayer in an attitude that was for him appropriate.

Perhaps at another time we can take a look at the prayer itself.

Bible quotes are from Tanakh, A new Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text.

Pastor’s Page ~ February 2011

Dear Friends,
Evangelism in Scotland
On Sabbath at our Edinburgh church, I met a Scottish woman who was there for the first time.  She had been invited to church after meeting members of the outreach team on Princes Street.   I commend this approach that gives out literature and builds friendships with people an am glad to hear that the team has been invited to other SM churches to share their approach.  The same morning a young couple came to church for the first time because a father had just found out our church and just sent them some DVDs.  The Holy Spirit is using the new media in a powerful way to reach out to his people.
Evangelism is essential for a healthy church and gives us the opportunity of working with the Holy Spirit to draw all people to him.  At our last SM Executive we discussed the importance of evangelism in our local churches.  We almost doubled the SM evangelism budget for 2011 over 2010.  Pastor Jimmy Botha (as church growth sponsor) and I have agreed that the SM will support local eligible outreach budgets with matching funds.   It is not money that is holding us back from reaching people, and it is up to all of us to share God’s love for the lost.
Last week we also agreed to finance an internet advertising campaign using the web site.  The amazing news is that over just the last week, we have 3 new contacts in Scotland, one in each of our 3 largest cities.  Please pray with me that this will be one of the more successful ways of reaching people for evangelistic outreach in Scotland.  Please tell your friends about this site if you think they are interested in getting a free Bible.  Unfortunately, at present, this offer is not open to those who are members or already attend church.
You might be pleased to know that the recent SM Exec also approved the ‘Simple Church’ approach as another option for evangelism in the Scottish Mission.  There is a great article about it on the front of the latest Messenger and you can find out more by going to
Other news:
The Dunfermline Church is still looking for a church that they can call their own.  After a year of searching, they thought they had found the ideal property.  Unfortunately SM Executive received legal advice that said that the proposed new building had the possibility of not being a sound investment.  Please pray with me that God will lead the Dunfermline members as they again seek to follow God’s guidance for them.
The Scottish Mission Executive voted seven delegates for the BUC session this summer.  The lay members are: Lawrence Pollard (Glasgow), Virginia Dube (Paisley), Martin Bell (Crieff), Owen Anderson (Edinburgh), Efraim Zakarias (Dundee).  The ministers are: Pastor Lorance Johnson and Pastor Jimmy Botha.  Feel free to contact these people with your ideas for how we can improve our church.

Pastor Bernie

God’s Whisper…   a devotional thought

In the not-too-distant past, I experienced one of the darkest periods of my life, a most painful and seemingly inescapable state of mental and emotional (and nearly physical) paralysis and hopelessness. It seemed to come out of nowhere and quickly took me with it. I had never experienced anything like it. Oh yes, I had had my lower days, but nothing like this. Not only did it cripple me, but also simultaneously affected those that I dearly love.  After some time, I was diagnosed with ‘clinical depression and anxiety’ and, this being somewhat foreign to us, we had no idea what to do. Many steps were taken to battle the illness, yet it still held strong. I felt somehow unable to approach God, and after some time, I felt I was subconsciously beginning to give up on Him and on myself entirely.

Yet… throughout everything, though I wasn’t always able to recognize it, my husband (boyfriend at the time), my family, my friends were all there – with me through every step. Even when they didn’t know what to do, they never left my side. They did not give up on me. Their support and love gave me the strength and hope I lacked. Even people I didn’t know – had never met – encouraged me. In an airport on the way home one day with my mom, a lovely Baptist couple in the customs queue spoke to us about their missionary travels and repeatedly looked back at me, saying, ‘Jesus loves you.’ Out of nowhere. They had no idea what we were going through. Wow… Even in my numb state, this struck me. And in the hospital, while waiting for some tests in silence, an older gentleman touched me and said, ‘I will be praying for you.’ We hadn’t even spoken! Never had I experienced anything like this.

For me, I cannot explain it in any other way but that God put these people in my life and, little did they know, I needed it. Although this was the hardest and scariest chapter of my life, I would not trade the true change and the enriched relationship with God that I gained from it.

God speaks to us. The same God that spoke to Moses and Noah and all the prophets of old.  We may not audibly hear His voice like they did in the Old Testament, but He has devised all sorts of ways to speak to us. Because He loves us. More than we will ever love ourselves or be loved by anyone here on earth. He never gives up on us. He will not let us go. It brings me such joy to look back and remember how, even when I gave up and let Him go, He wouldn’t have it. When we are weak, He is strong. He listens to our hearts and knows every single need, even when we don’t.

In what ways does God speak to you? Is it through the people He has put in your life? the intricacies of nature in your back garden? the words of a song? The difficult times? The beautiful moments that take your breath away?

Sometimes it’s hard to hear, but God is never silent… I am so thankful!

Pastor’s Page ~ December 2010

Dear Friends,
What a change a bit of snow can bring! In the last few weeks we have experienced some of the worst traffic problems in living memory. My hope and prayer is that the cold weather has not caused more than inconvenience for any of our members and friends.
As I researched the effect of the very cold winter of 1947, I discovered that many communities were in fear of serious food shortages when the national transportation system seemed to come to a standstill. Some of us have started wondering what would happen if our favourite supermarkets continued to have empty bread racks for weeks rather than days at a time?
We thank God for our regular supply of food, and at this time of giving to good causes, think about those who are hungry and insecure about what will happen to their future. I hope we all do something practical to make a difference at this time.
In 2011 rather than emphasizing our need for tangible bread, we are joining the World Church in an emphasis on Revival and Reformation. It is my prayer that we will experience a new hunger for Jesus, the real Bread of Life, and that his empowering Spirit will be poured out in our lives.
May God bless you over this holiday time and may you experience His peace and joy in all you do.
With warmest greetings,
Pastor Bernie

This Month’s Devotional   by Pastor Jimmy Botha (from the Edinburgh and Dunfermline Churches)

Many of you may be aware that a small part of my body, a disk in my neck, is causing me great pain and lack of sleep. I have thought about this a lot lately, and I am convinced that it is a great blessing, because it allows me to spend time with the Lord in a different way than most of us.  One of these expeditions one night led me to an interesting article about something many of us are very fond of – chocolate.

This article is a very positive one and it highlights the good things about chocolate, an article that really makes sense!

The introduction is clear that too much of the good stuff will be bad for us, but we do not need to see chocolate as an enemy. Here is what it says:

1.    That it is good for the environment: cocoa comes from the rainforests, so it helps support endangered rainforests.  It can also be good for family farms in the rainforest areas, where it is estimated that up to 90% of the cocoa is grown by these families.  So they mention the fair trade side of the business.

2.    That chocolate is good for your mood: Chocolate contains hundreds of different chemicals, some of which are thought to act like antidepressants on the brain.  Eating chocolate stimulates the release of mood-affecting chemicals such as endorphins, phenylethylamine and serotonin.

3.    Chocolate has more anti-oxidants than a bowl of blueberries: Specifically, they contain flavanols, antioxidants found in various plants that work to protect the body from damaging molecules called free radicals.  It also helps reduce blood pressure.

4.    It is not bad for your cholesterol. Thanks to those same antioxidant flavanols, chocolate has been shown to actually help raise HDL (the good cholesterol) and lower LDL (the bad one), which, in turn, helps prevent plaque from building up in the arteries.  Perfectly pure cocoa is a cholesterol-free food  — of course, the addition of milk and cocoa butter will add artery-clogging fat to chocolate.

5.    It actually contains nutrients
The cocoa bean is rich in vitamins B1, B2 and D, as well as the essential minerals magnesium and iron.  While no one is suggesting that you substitute a chocolate bar for your daily multivitamin, it’s nice to know that the treat isn’t made up of entirely empty calories.

6.    It won’t give you a caffeine buzz
Cocoa does indeed contain some caffeine, but you’ll have to eat quite a bit to give yourself the jolt of a single-shot latte. An ounce of milk chocolate contains only about 6 milligrams of caffeine, while an ounce of dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams.  By comparison, a cup of brewed coffee can have up to 120 milligrams and even an average can of cola packs about 35 milligrams of caffeine.

(Editor. Now before you say the SMNL encourages you to rush out and fill up your cupboards with sugary chocolate, there is the following caution.  Researchers are also saying that the high sugar content of many chocolates can lead to health problems.  They say that cocoa content in the chocolate needs to be at least 70% for these healthful benefits to outweigh the negative effect of other ingredients – and then only in moderation.)

And there you have it.  What a nice and tasteful little bit of good news to share. In this life full of ups and downs, all the uncertainty around us, a world where many will die alone or because of hunger, some good news is welcome.  When the rich politicians have forgotten what it is like in homes where children are hungry, when those who have will get more and those who lack will have even less, when unfairness and hatred seems to be the way things are done these days, a bit of good news may make a huge difference.

Now, I am not advertising chocolate here, but I can give you a good idea which to choose, because certain Belgian and Swiss packets are still lying around in the kitchen.  I can also say that a bit of sweet good news like this may not even cost you an arm and a leg.

But I would miss the point entirely if we just sat with the sweet taste in our mouths, looking out the window into nowhere.  No, I need to bring you even better news!

I read about this unfairness and hatefulness in the Bible one night, and that when we are drawn into it, that even then there is good news!  The thing is, most of us have an opinion about somebody else’s behaviour that may sometimes be questionable.  But sometimes we also get drawn into that web of behaviour, and before we know it, we know we did wrong and often feel too guilty to go to the Lord.

Isaiah has a bit of good news for us in Chapter 30:

15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses. ’Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses. ’Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Forget the bad news, forget what is going on in the world, forget the nasties, and dare I say, forget the chocolate!  Here is better news!  When in doubt, when in suffering, when in mourning, when at a challenge, when the money is tight, when all seems lost and the guilt is too much, the Lord is waiting, longing for us, because He wants to be gracious to us.

He also has the good qualities,
1.    He is the creator of the environment!
2.    He is not only the creator of our moods, but He can change it when we need Him to.
3.    He is the author of anti-oxidants, and all other items smaller than a grain of sand.
4.    His way is the best way to rid of the cholesterol.
5.    His Word is life, all the nutrients for heaven in it.
6.    You will never again need a caffeine buzz, or any other buzz when Christ is the good news in you heart.
Yum, that was good, time to switch off the light, good night.

Pastor’s Page ~ November 2010

Dear Friends,

I’ve just returned from the Trans-European Division’s Winter meetings.  The focus was the introduction of ‘Revival and Reformation’ as the World Church theme for the next five years.  The 120 or so delegate enjoyed some great preaching as well as inspiring reports of God’s work in all the different parts of our territory.  It was good to meet with Pastor Llew Edwards, our former president in Scotland, who sends his greetings.  I was particularly blessed as we spent time praying with and for each other.

There are two major causes for rejoicing this month.  The first is that Filip and Taylor Bajic have received their visas this month and have moved to the Irvine and East Kilbride district and started work.  They were formally introduced at the SM Day of Fellowship in Aberdeen in July, and we are so pleased that they have arrived at last!

The second is that the SM Executive has voted to accept a request from the Glasgow district that the Paisley and Faifley groups be recognised as official church companies.  After a lot of hard work and God’s blessing, we are looking forward to rejoicing with these congregations as they commit themselves to the privileges and challenges of recognised congregational life in the Scottish Mission.

With all the cash demands on us over the Christmas season, please don’t forget to make your reservation and deposit for the first ever Scottish Mission Camp meeting. Why not help to sponsor your non-Adventist friends too?

This edition of the SMNL features a mouth-watering devotional about chocolate by Pastor Jimmy Botha. Thanks to our local reporters we also have lots of reports from around the country.

Let us continue to rejoice together at what God is doing.

Pastor Bernie

Recently I was invited to work on a project that aims to help people experience life more positively and more abundantly. The more I studied the ideas, the more I realised that they came straight from the teachings of Jesus and Paul. This was not promoting a kind of pop psychology or a short-lived trend. Significant amounts of research had been done to discover what helps people, families, relationships, workplaces, churches and communities to flourish and thrive, and all of the results connected with different verses and scriptures. This is exciting news for us! In a world struggling with pain and problems we have the best teachings for helping people to live more abundant lives, the abundant lives that Jesus created us to live (John 10:10).
Here are some of the ‘secrets’ we have as Christians that can help us and others to live well:
•    Knowing that we are unconditionally loved by a loving God (John 3:16; Psalm 145; 1 John 4:7-21).
•    Loving each other wisely and well (1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 1:8-11; 1 John 4:7).
•    Showing kindness to everyone we meet. (Philippians 4:5; Romans 12:10-13; Ephesians 4:32). Trying to end each interaction or conversation on an encouraging and uplifting note. Planning intentional acts of kindness that bless others.
•    Focussing on thoughts that are healthy and uplifting (Philippians 4:8).
•    Disputing negative thinking (Philippians 4:4-7, 13; 2 Corinthians 10:5). Negative thinking limits the abundance of our life and may cause us to respond negatively to others, too.
•    Finding the joy and blessing in every circumstance (Matthew 5:1-12; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:4, 12). Looking for the good and positive in each other.
•    Comforting and supporting each other when life is painful and challenging (2 Corinthians 3-4; Romans 12:15b).
•    Knowing that God will always forgive us when we confess our sins. Offering forgiveness to others (1 John 1:9; Matthew 6:9-15).
•    Being aware of our strengths and spiritual gifts and finding ways to use them to bless others (1 Corinthians 12).
•    Spending time in nature (Psalms 104). Walking in natural and beautiful surroundings and focusing on the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Experiencing God’s creation with all of our senses.
•    Having a gratitude attitude (Matthew 7:7-11; Colossians 3:15, Ps 136:1-9). Thanking God for every good thing in our lives, and thanking everyone who helps and supports us.
•    Having a clear picture of a positive, joyful and hopeful future (John 14:1-3, Revelation 21-22).

The Beatitudes of Jesus and Paul’s letter to the Philippians are crammed full of practical suggestions for living a more abundant life. They are also summed up in Paul’s descriptions of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). An abundant life is a life that is richly overflowing with healthy fruits. It is an attractive life, one that is a powerful witness in a negative and painful world.
How can we live our Christian lives abundantly and share the overflow of that abundance with others, so that they can taste and see that our Lord is good?

True Fasting

Recently I took time to study what true fasting entails. When I read the potent words in Isaiah 58 I was startled by what I discovered about the features of a true fast. I thought back to the last time I took part in a fast and wondered  if it had been  a true fast  because my experience was not reflective of the outcome of a true fast.

In Isaiah 58: 3-5, God has three concerns with the house of Jacob when they fast. The first concern is that they serve their own interests during their fast. Regarding the second concern of oppressing their workers, there is a call here to reflect on their unjust treatment of others. The third point of concern is the external display of humility as portrayed in the donning of sack cloths. All three concerns highlight the need to take the focus away from self and to refocus on the needs of others.

Having rejected their fasting attitudes, the Lord enunciates his expected fast:
“… loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free…. share food with the hungry; provide shelter for the homeless and cloths for the naked.” (58:6,7)

Is this something we do when we fast? Perhaps many of us have a limited view to fasting in that we believe the only features in fasting are praying, singing and abstinence from food or favourite TV programmes. But as we explore the text, we notice that the emphasis is not on abstinence from but in the providing for others who are less fortunate.  When we employ this understanding, then we can also expect the result of a true fast, which is that the Lord will answer when we call.
Interestingly, what Jesus presents as the way of life of those who are called to inherit the kingdom (Matt 25.31-46) mirrors the true fast as identified in Isaiah 58. These include feeding the hungry and thirsty; welcoming strangers; providing clothes for the naked and visiting those in prison.

Fasting is an attitude of love. “…. Let us not love in words or speech, but in truth and action.” 1 John 3:18. I challenge us all to take part in a true fast.

Pastor’s Page ~ August 2010

Dear Friends,

When I think of the flood disaster in Pakistan, I feel overwhelmed. The latest news says that 1.2 million homes have been destroyed and 800,000 people are stranded by broken bridges etc.. The UN has calculated that 17 million people have been seriously affected by the floods.

This is an absolutely enormous tragedy by any standards and I can easily be tempted to say – “so what? –  I can’t do anything to help”. I even hear cynical voices say that “these people shouldn’t live in areas that are liable to flooding”, or that “the Pakistani government should have better contingency plans, we’ve got enough problems here, the government should do more” or that “the UN should sort it out”.

Messages like these have the effect of vaccinating my heart against generosity. The selfish part of my nature says that I can’t give to yet another cause. This is what the charities call ‘donor fatigue’, and when it sets in the destitute suffer.

After he killed his brother Abel, God asked Cain what had happened. In Genesis 4:9 Cain replied with an attempt to evade responsibility for what took place, asking if he were his ‘brother’s keeper.’  I recognise that voice. When I hear of so much suffering, Cain’s voice rings in my head, ‘I can’t be responsible for other people.’ And then the guilt rises in my mind until the banks burst and I also feel overwhelmed!
But thank God there is a way out. Christ died so that I might live, and help others live more abundantly. He does not want us to be burdened by guilt and a sense of being overwhelmed. When I am stuck like this, His love gives me the power to act, to choose and in this case, to make a small donation that will make a big difference to the lives of the people in Pakistan whom I will never know.

For me, making a gift to ADRA could be seen as way of quieting an overwhelmed conscience, but in truth, it has become a sign of the grace of God working in my life. My small contribution is just one way that I can say thank you to a God who has given me so many blessings, and whose heart is aching for the people of Pakistan.

Why not visit and see the difference you can make? A widow’s mite is a fortune in the treasury of God.

Pastor Bernie

Pastor’s Page ~ July 2010

Dear Friends,
Last week I went to prison. And before you wonder about the crimes I may have committed, I had better let you know that our whole class made a visit during a course I was taking at Andrews University.  It wasn’t my first time behind bars. As a local pastor I’ve visited various prisoners who were taking Bible correspondence courses.  They often asked to be visited by a clergyman, especially just before being released!
There were no outside windows in this Michigan jail.  The interior walls were magnolia-painted concrete.  The windows onto the corridors were plate glass.  The inmates were dressed in blue/grey jumpsuits and were generally sitting around in small groups, playing cards or sleeping.  The prison was clean and tidy, but there was no privacy, at least not in the male section we visited.   Some of the more difficult prisoners were kept in single cells, but most were housed in dormitories of 8 to 12 men. Those inmates who are willing to help with the chores are called ‘trustees’ and in return for their work are granted 5 days per month reduction in their sentence.  They are dressed in orange jump suits to distinguish them from the rest of the inmates.
I found the whole experience quite sobering.  These people were serving time for crimes they had committed against society.  They could go to education classes if they wanted, but otherwise they could not do anything that seemed significant.  I was tempted to see them as prisoners in uniform, but found my heart going out to them as fellow children of God who had, like each one of us, done something wrong.  But in their cases they had chosen to do something that warranted imprisonment.  We were told that these offenders were petty criminals, whose sentences were all less than twelve months.  This was a well-run jail, but after visiting for only 30 minutes we were all wondering how soon we could get out!  The brightness of the sky and the sense of freedom struck us as our class emerged into the summer sunlight.
What a gift it is to be free!  We don’t live in prison, and, except for our physical limitations, we are relatively unrestricted. We live in a country where we are free to practice our faith in an open democracy.
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us that a true sign of being prepared for the judgement is that we not only visit and care for the sick, but we also minister to those in prison.  How often do we go out of our way to visit convicted prisoners or those in metaphorical prisons?  So many people are trapped in what can feel like a prison of poverty, addiction or loneliness, unable to get out.  Jesus’ commission in Matt 4:18 was to proclaim release for prisoners.  How can we continue His ministry in these last days?  Should we be joining the many Christians who are campaigning with organisations like Amnesty International to release prisoners of conscience?   Are we befriending and witnessing to those in spiritual prisons, bound by forces we cannot see?  Our voices and actions will make a difference.  Who do you know who needs to experience God’s grace?  How can you help them to be released from their captivity and enter the bright sunlight of God’s eternal presence?
Pastor Bernie Holford

Pastor’s Page ~ June 2010


The name ‘church’ is full of meaning. Many  people love it, and many people hate it. As Christians we want to preserve the identity of the church, but we may also want to change it. Some say that the church is where the saints worship, but those who attend know that it is also full of sinners like themselves. This is the paradox we have when we talk about the church.

Mike Lewis, a member of the Crieff church, recently conducted and analyzed a survey of members’ views on different issues relating to the church. The results showed that the members of our church have a broad range of beliefs and opinions about our teachings and practices. Never-the-less, there is a widespread consensus that our beliefs in Christ and the Bible unite us more than our different views on biblical interpretation divide us. The outcomes of the survey were fascinating and gave us a full colour snapshot of where we are as a church in all our glorious diversity!

The Bible says that God has given us the church for a purpose. According to Eph 4:12,13 one of the main reasons that the church exists is to help God’s children grow up into His love and design for their lives. If we don’t relate to each another within a church context, we deny ourselves God’s chosen method for helping us to become mature in Him.
God needs us to help Him grow the church into a relationally healthy place. Research and experience show there are physical, social, economic and spiritual benefits when we are closely connected with God’s people. If you’re isolated, and you want to make regular contact with the Body of Christ, please let me know. We want to help you find the best way for you to be connected to the rest of His body, so that we can all grow to become more like Him.

Pastor Bernie Holford

Pastor’s Page ~ May 2010

Dear Friends,

Have you ever heard someone say – ‘I don’t like change.’ ‘It seems most change round here is just for the sake of change!’ We have a coalition government that was voted in largely on a mandate for change. Already the new political party has proposed significant changes in our system of government, as well as major cut backs in public spending, and many people will lose their jobs.

Some changes bring personal pain, but there are also good changes. A few weeks ago I managed to fix the door on our kitchen oven so that it would close properly. For months it hadn’t quite closed for the last few degrees, so it was constantly ajar, and the inner glass panel would slide out and hit you on the shins whenever you opened the oven.  I was so pleased that it was working better as I like trying to fix appliances and keep old cars going.  Repairing rather than buying new does not help the economy much, but I like to feel I’m doing something to reduce waste in the environment.

Unfortunately, within a couple of weeks, despite my best efforts to fix the problem, the door mechanism failed again.  This week the hinges broke completely and the door fell with an almighty crash, right down to the kitchen floor, where it shattered into thousands of tiny pieces! As I write this there are no more roasts, cakes or fresh baked bread in our home. There’s something about human nature. Many of us are quite happy to tinker with something to try and keep it going, instead of admitting that it’s totally kaput and it needs a radical change!

We now have a gaping space in our kitchen cupboards and a door-less and useless oven. We have ordered a new oven – and, God willing, it will arrive soon. I realised that tinkering around and making small changes might have made things last a little while longer, but what we really needed was a brand new oven!

Are you frustrated with just tinkering and trying to improve a spiritual life that needs a radical change? Don’t wait for a crash! Anticipate the future and ask God to help you make the best change. As the Apostle Paul says; ‘I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ Phil 3:8 NIV. We really have to desire a change with our whole heart, and the good news is that it won’t cost as much as a new oven! The new spiritual life will produce real food that nourishes your soul and the lives of others. If you want to discover how to experience the changes that God wants to make in your life, pray, listen to God through the Word and the Spirit or talk to your pastor and look for what God wants to do in your life.

Pastor Bernie

Pastor’s Page ~ April 2010

Dear Friends,

We were marooned in Slovenia when the flight ban was imposed following the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption. Karen and I had been invited there to teach on the Trans European Division’s Certified Family Life Educators’ course. We were booked to fly on Friday morning from Zagreb, in Croatia, so that I could preach in Crieff the next day. Despite frantic efforts exploring all options, there was nothing we could do to get home in time. We felt powerless. We prayed that the Lord would show us what to do and eventually discovered the best way home for us would be to take the Monday evening ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium that would take us across the North Sea arriving in Rosyth on Tuesday afternoon. Eventually we were able to book train journeys across the continent to Belgium and the ferry home to Scotland. We enjoyed what is becoming known as ‘slow travel’ – the green alternative to flying! We were so blessed to have a way to get home, while many others were still stranded in distant countries.

There were several passages of Scripture and lessons that came to mind as we were travelling back. I was particularly struck by what Iceland’s president, Olafur Grimsson, said. “In modern societies like Britain and Europe, there has been a disengagement between people and nature. There has been a belief that the forces of nature can’t impact the functioning of technologically advanced societies. But in Iceland we learn from childhood that forces of nature are stronger than ourselves and they remind us who are the masters of the universe.”

It takes an event like this to remind us of our vulnerability to nature. It is so easy to forget that our so called ‘civilised’ society, and all of its blessings, are so easily disrupted. In the last few weeks, we have had a tiny taste of the type of chaos and apprehension that the Bible predicts for the last days. Jesus and Paul said that this time will come on us ‘like a thief in the night’ (Matt 24:43 and 1 Thess 5:2) – when we least expect it.

Christ’s coming is closer than it has ever been. Let’s take some extra time to think about this last and most important journey. Now is the time to check we’ve booked a ticket on the most reliable form of intergalactic transportation that will carry us into the very presence of God forever!

Pastor Bernie

Pastor’s Page February 2010

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Auchtermuchty, (pop. 2000), in Fife where I live with Karen and my son Joel. ‘Muchty,’ as the locals call it, is one of 100s of similar burghs across Scotland. If you go to the local web site you will see that its inhabitants are proud of its unique history and identity.

We have recently discovered that a couple of Seventh-day Adventist pastors have had strong links to Auchtermuchty.  The father of Pastor Bob Smart (a retired minister living in Crieff) lived here and worked as head engineer at John White and Sons Weighing Machines around the 1930s. Pastor Edgar Hulbert (1920-2003, father of BUC Communications director Victor Hulbert) was born in a small rented cottage in Auchtermuchty. At the time, Edgar’s father was a colporteur supporting an evangelistic team in Perth.

We are wondering if God has a plan for the residents of Auchtermuchty. I believe it is not random coincidence that has brought us here. If God has a plan for a relatively obscure place like ‘Muchty, then you can be sure he has a plan for every area of Scotland?

As you read this, think about the place where you live.  Are you the only Adventist in your district? Who else has lived there before you? What is God’s vision for your city or burgh?

Some think history is a dead subject, but I am increasingly fascinated by how others have changed our lives today. The past commitment of Adventists has made our current communities alive with committed and witnessing members. We praise God for the faithfulness of past and present members.

God gives us a distinct identity as Seventh-day Adventist Christians and if we follow his leading he places us in the area where he wants us to be. You are who you are, and where you are, because of Gods calling (Eph 1:11-14)!

What contribution are you making to the story of God’s working in your city, town or burgh? Please let your pastor or myself know the vision God is giving you to make the difference, wherever you live for Him.

Pastor Bernie

Pastor’s Page ~ March 2010

Dear Friends,

Spring, Resurrection and Eternal Life
Yesterday morning, outside the Crieff church, I saw the first spring daffodil opening to the sunshine. It was revealing fresh new life after the barrenness of winter. Then, after church, I had a conversation with a young man who has been coming to our church for a few months. ‘I would like to be baptised’ he said. I was so excited. He told me that he was not an Adventist and had been struggling with issues about why God allows suffering. ‘Then God revealed to me his love and I just accepted it.’ He is no longer spiritually dead, but alive and fresh in Christ.
On my way home from church I visited Pastor John Arthur in hospital. It was 7 days since he had suffered a severe stroke. The doctors had warned the family to be prepared for the worst! Yet John has experienced remarkable improvement. He now thanks God for the wonderful care he is receiving. The prayers of many people around the world are being answered. His broken body is being healed!
On Good Friday, the Christian world remembers in a special way how Christ died for our sins. With sadness we reflect on our failures that made it necessary for Him to die on our behalf. Experiencing the implications of our spiritual brokenness can be like a dark winter in our lives. Whether we feel it or not, during this black time in our lives, Christ’s love sustains us.
Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Today and every day we experience the joy of his resurrection. The winter of separation from God is over. We too are raised from the dead and the promise of eternal life is ours – forever!
I thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and continue to rejoice as I see the new life his passion now brings into the world.
What signs of new life are you seeing in nature, in those around you and in yourself?

Pastor Bernie

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