The Church's Future Hope

Peter Moore describes the impressive sunken garden in front of the Beinicke Rare Book Library on Yale University's campus. It is meant to simulate the universe. A large marble pyramid stands in one corner, symbolising time. Another corner sports a huge doughnut shaped structure standing on its side. It signifies energy. In a third corner stands a huge die perched on one tip as if ready to topple any which way. It is the symbol of chance. This, Moore says, is the world view of modern man: 'a self-existing universe consisting of energy, time and chance.' And those in Babylon, ancient or modern, don't know which way the die will fall. Chance is opaque. It is the world of whatever.

Bible Christians think the Yale garden is a lie. They hold that there is a God who knows and orders the course of history down through the rise and rubble of nations until the days when he sets up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. This is no brilliant insight of theirs; they only hold this because there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries - and has done so. He has given them revelation material like Daniel 2. But we who hold this kingdom-view can easily forget how unbearably sad Joe and Jane Pagan might be, for they go out their front door in the morning and have no idea where history is heading, or if it is. Maybe it's all too cerebral; but I can only say that if I didn't believe Daniel 2:44, I couldn't find the energy to place one foot in front of another.

To have a God who reveals mysteries, however, does not mean we have a God who reveals everything. He doesn't show us which stocks will profit or whether you can avoid cancer till you're eighty-nine, or whether one's nation will still exist twenty years hence. He only reveals what we need to have. And yet Daniel's praise helps us here, because he assures us that even what God doesn't tell us he knows: he knows what is in the darkness. You can walk into the future with a God like that - who shows you that history is going toward his unshakable kingdom and who assures you that even though you have many personal uncertainties you follow a God who knows what is in the darkness. So you can keep going with hope and without fear.

Extracted from The Message of Daniel by Dale Ralph Davies (Published by IVP, 2013)

It's A Boy!

We are pleased to announce the safe arrival of Robert John Ferguson, son of Rev John and Louise Ferguson, Inverness, on 15th October 2014, weighing in at 8lbs 9oz. Congratulations John and Louise! The new dad says, "All are well!"

Christian Troubles by Rev George Macaskill

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?

Lairg Work Day

Lairg Presbyterian Church was delighted to host a number of volunteers last Saturday who came to do some work around the church building. Various tasks were completed by helpers from as far afield as Strathy and Conon Bridge. A huge thanks to all who helped. It was a great encouragement to have people willing to help us in the Lord's work. More pictures can be seen on the congregational website.

Thoughts on the Gospel by David Joy

October 2014 No.213
 ‘I have set the Lord always before me’ Psalm 16 v 8

Distracted from God
Sometimes I awake to find a worrying thought on my mind that seems to multiply as the morning goes on until I cannot think of anything else. I am sure this is the devil’s way of taking my mind away from God.

The Blackbird’s Priority
I was reminded of this one morning when, my mind full of problems, I went outside to find a blackbird I have been feeding for some time, waiting on my doorstep, and gazing intently at me.

I daresay it had much on its mind too as I knew it had a nest of young nearby. There was also the constant danger from marauding cats, swift flying sparrow hawks and watching crows that would steal the young if given half a chance.

But for the moment, knowing from experience I always fed it, the blackbird had me as its priority.

Think not of Tomorrow
As I considered the blackbird I recalled that Jesus said ‘behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?’ Matthew 6 v 26.

The posture of expectant, trustful waiting that was displayed by the blackbird reminded me that I should get my priorities right and turn from my worrying thoughts to the One who said ‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow:’ Matthew 6 v 34.

Following with Expectation
As I walked into my garden the waiting blackbird followed me down the path to my office and on opening the door it flew in behind me and stood looking at me pleadingly until it received some food.

Let us, like the blackbird that expectantly followed me, follow the Lord expectantly waiting for Him to ‘supply all our (your) need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,’ Philippians 4 v 19.

A Wonderful Example
David the Psalmist set a wonderful example of committed trust in God for he said ‘I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved,’ Psalm 16 v 8.

May God give us grace to always, like the Psalmist, have the Lord at the forefront of our thoughts and desires knowing that ‘he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,’ Hebrews 13 v 5.

Half Trusting
As I looked again at the blackbird I realised that its degree of trust in me only went as far as waiting for food, grabbing it and quickly flying away when it had received it. It was not trusting enough to put it itself into my hands for safe keeping.

Is that possibly a picture of you or me? Do we trust in Jesus for some things but not others?

Total Trust
Friends, I was able to assist the blackbird in resolving one of the problems in its life, that is, to find food. I was not able to help it defend itself, build a nesting place, watch over its young or find shelter for it when needed. Nevertheless it still kept looking for me in my garden and even came to my kitchen window from time to time to try and attract my attention.

If a little attention from me to a blackbird can make it so focussed on me how much more should God’s care and provision for us make us focussed on Him.

If we have trusted our never dying souls into The Lord’s care and firmly believe that in doing so, we shall in eternity find that in God’s presence there are pleasures for evermore,’ Psalm 16 v 11, should we not trust in Him totally knowing that he will sustain, strengthen and guide us in every situation we find ourselves in during our journey through life?

Ever Before Us
The apostle Paul who wrote ‘what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me,’ 2 Timothy 3 v 11, gives us this advice ‘let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus,’ Hebrews 12 v 1,2.

I remember an old friend who told me that during World War II he did just that. Whenever he had to go into battle he imagined in his mind that God was walking before him, protecting him from harm. I went all through the war he said ‘Looking to Jesus.’ 

May we endeavour, in the battles of life, to draw our attention away from that which distracts us from God and, as my old friend did, keep God constantly before us, trusting with Paul that He will deliver us out of all our troubles.

'Thoughts on the Gospel' are produced by David Joy who is a member in Fearn APC, Hilton.

Lairg Work Day

We are planning to have a work day at Lairg Presbyterian Church on Saturday (11th) from 10am. There is work to be done inside and outside (weather permitting) and even jobs in the manse if a big crowd shows up! If you would like to come and help please let us know you're coming ( and lunch will be provided.

Late APC News

Apologies that the September / October APC News has been held up at the printers. For those who can't wait for their paper copy here is a link to the magazine in digital format: