Scottish Presbytery Highlights – January 2015

At January’s Presbytery we welcomed some visitors from a couple of our congregations. David James from Oban and Stewart Wilson from the Stornoway congregation were welcomed to the Presbytery meeting along with the Stornoway locum minister Rev Michael Butterfield. We are increasingly aware of our limited resources and man power in these days and so it was good to have them with us and to receive their contributions to the various discussions.

The General Treasurer’s financial report highlighted the possibility of a deficit in the coming year and encouraged us all to think about our giving to the Lord’s work. This is necessary if we are to meet our obligations and if we are to provide effective ministry to our congregations.

Rev Wayne Pearce has left our Skye and Harris congregation as minister, along with Donald MacCuish who has resigned from the roll of assessor elder after serving the congregation over a long period. We are indebted to these men for their service in the Lord’s work and wish them well. This is a difficult time for any congregation to be without a minister and we must do everything that we can in such situations. At the last Presbytery the Rev Gordon Murray was appointed to work as Interim Moderator for the congregation and he is now joined by Rev Ross McFarlane. Together they team up with Alasdair Patterson on the Kirk Session. Please remember these men and the congregation of Skye and Harris at this time in prayer.

Other congregations are also greatly affected by a lack of man power and resources. We received a report of the work in Assynt from the Free Church Interim Moderator, Rev John Forbes. We have enjoyed a relationship with the Free Church in our Assynt congregations for long years now but even in this joint situation things are a struggle. It is increasingly hard to get pulpit supply to far flung areas and there is only one service now on the Lord’s Day at 3pm in Lochinver. Please pray for the Interim Moderators, Rev John Forbes and Rev John van Eyk, the folk there, and that the gospel would flourish there.

With Wayne’s departure there was also a vacancy on the Training Committee. The Rev Ross Macaskill agreed to become a member of this group along with Mr John Lister, Inverness. There was some discussion over the APC Conference which comes under the remit of this committee. The last conference was for various reasons very poorly attended. It looks like there will be no conference this year. The committee will look at the best way forward for the future. Various suggestions were made, such as: combining it with the General Assembly; having it at the end of the APC Youth Camp; whether to have a 3-day or just a 1-day conference; appealing to a broad group or keeping it more APC focussed. Perhaps you have some ideas that you would like to share about future conferences? If you do email the committee clerk: jcaferguson@hotmail.com.

Stephen Sutherland reviews ‘Singing the Songs of Jesus’ by Michael Lefebvre

Are you looking for a book on the Psalms?
Here is a good and helpful review of Michael Lefebvre’s Singing the Songs of Jesus from Stephen Sutherland at reformingthefamily.com
“If I had to choose only one book to assist me in mining the Psalter’s riches and in passing it on, this is it.  And it would be my first recommendation to both the mature and young in the faith, Bible student or lay reader, parent or teen, regardless of denominational affiliation.”

 

Christian Troubles

New converts are often surprised that they immediately encounter difficulties in the Christian life and falsely conclude that something must be wrong, when in fact, everything is going just right.

It has been said that 99.9% of the blessings of becoming a Christian are in the next world (ie Heaven). That means there are few benefits in this world. It needs to be stressed much more often that becoming a Christian will mean hardship in this world. Christ guaranteed it in John 16:33 and Peter rebukes the early Christians for being surprised when trouble was brewing for them in 1st Peter 4:12. Paul the Apostle warned the Thessalonians that they were to expect trouble in 1 Thess 3:4 and he likewise told Timothy that persecution was inevitable if they were going to live righteous lives  in 2Tim 3:12. It was through much trouble that Moses became the great man he became according to Hebrews 11:24-26.

Why then should people become Christians if it means there will be trouble for them in this world? The best answer is that God is worthy to be worshipped for who He is. Christ gave Himself a sacrifice for sinners and He is worth worshipping. He is worth suffering for. Add to that the fact that Heaven awaits the Christian after this life. The first five minutes in Heaven will make it all worthwhile.

Even if there were no Heaven at the end, we should be willing to become Christians because it is the only proper way to live and the only proper way to fulfil the purpose of our existence on earth. There is the added incentive of a new sense of purpose and meaning in life, the exciting and uplifting experiences along the way, along with the joys of forgiveness to compensate for all the hardships, but in the last analysis, we ought to follow Christ because He is God and we are His creatures and He has been crucified in order that we may have eternal life.

So why do Christians have trouble? Acts 14:22 seems to say it all. We can only enter the Kingdom of Heaven “through” these troubles. Enduring trouble is as necessary to enter Heaven as crossing the Atlantic Ocean is to enter America from the UK. There is no other way. Trouble is the “Gateway” to glory. Christians ought to engage trouble, not short-circuit it because it is the means through which they travel to Heaven. If we are to prosper spiritually as Christians, we need to have the correct perspective of trouble and remember what Peter said in 1Pet 3:14 and 17 that if we suffer for righteousness sake, we are blessed and if we suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil it is better.

Do we really believe the Bible?

By George Macaskill – used with permission

Scottish Presbytery Highlights – September 2014

September’s Presbytery was held in Fearn APC in Hilton.  It was wonderful to go by the farmland past the activity of harvest and down to this scenic village on the East coast and to meet with some of the folk there.  This is a new initiative of Presbytery to have our meeting on occasions in places other than Kingsview, Inverness.  We hope that this will be an encouragement to us all as we share in the work that we are involved in.

On this occasion we heard from three of our congregations (Tain, Oban and Edinburgh) and the work that they are involved in.  From these reports it was clear that the work of the gospel is not without its difficulties.  Discouragements come in suffering, bereavement and through the choices that people make but the Lord is faithful and there are also many things for us to give thanks for.

It is wonderful that in each of our congregations the life-changing gospel is proclaimed freely.  The seed of God’s Word is scattered and just as the harvest has come from the farmland at this time we look forward to and pray for the Lord’s own harvest to come.

We also give thanks for Laurence Mackenzie our General Treasurer and for all that he does for us.  Laurence was happy to report that our financial obligations continue to be met and encouraged our continued prayerful support of the financial administration of the church.  In addition to being our General Treasurer, Laurence was appointed to Convener of the Business Committee of Presbytery.  Please remember him in prayer as he takes on this new role.

Laurence takes over this work since the passing of Roderick MacKenzie.  We were certainly reminded of that loss as we met in Hilton.  Not only in the present but in times past there have been so many committed to the work of the gospel among us.  Tribute was also paid to the late William Fraser.  Alexander Murray spoke of his commitments, including being General Treasurer himself. We give thanks for those who have gone before us and in whose debt we are.  May the Lord help us to follow in their place and to faithfully support to the cause of Christ among us.

Thank you to the Office-bearers in Hilton and to the ladies who provided food and refreshments for the Presbytery as we met.

Public Statement on Scottish Referendum

Public Statement on
 Day of Prayer for Scottish Independence Referendum
The Associated Presbyterian Churches of Scotland, having a concern for the people of Scotland and being part of the Church of Jesus Christ in this land, will hold a day of prayer for the Scottish Independence Referendum.  The Scottish people are looking forward to this event with varying degrees of anticipation and apprehension and we believe that at such a time we must turn to the Lord Jesus Christ who knows all things and sovereignly rules over both Church and State.
We are then pleased to announce and commend Wednesday 17th September as a Day of Prayer in our churches for the nation and particularly for God to have his will to be done on September 18th.
May God bless Scotland and each country of the United Kingdom.