Presbytery Highlights - March 2015

The last Presbytery met on Tuesday the 24th of March in Inverness.  Among the business taking place was the General Treasurer’s financial report.  Laurence has been keen to get us to review our giving.  He highlighted a likely deficit in the coming year which, with slightly better contributions and efficiency with gift aid claims, could be avoided.    Please think about this situation prayerfully.

There were a few items relating to the Stornoway congregation.  The first of these was the resignation of Rev John van Eyk as Interim Moderator.  John has served the congregation and Kirk Session for some time now and we are grateful to him for that.  His resignation was accepted by the Presbytery and Rev Ross Macaskill was nominated and accepted the position of Interim Moderator.  There was also the need for another assessor elder and Rev George Macaskill has agreed to take up this position in the interim. Please pray for the Kirk Session at this time and that these changes would be blessed in the ministry at Keith Street.

Besides these matters of the Stornoway Kirk Session there was also the acceptance of Stornoway’s Mr John Davidson as a student minister by the Presbytery.  John got on well in an interview where he answered questions from the floor of Presbytery.  He now comes under the care of the Training Committee who will prepare John for his trials for licence. Please pray for John and his family (Dawn, Daniel, 5 and Darlene, 4) at this time; as he completes his studies and as he goes forward.

With May soon upon us the Presbytery also spoke about the General Assembly. We discussed its role and any changes that should be made to it.  The past years Assemblies have been poorly attended and there will be some changes made to the proceedings this year.  Come along and find out what!

The reports from congregations came from Dundee and Skye/Harris.  Rev Don Macaskill gave an encouraging report of his work in Dundee.  It is of course not without struggles but there is much to be thankful for.  Don has exercised a faithful ministry there but has intimated his intension to retire in the near future. The Kirk Session are exploring the possibility of having an assistant as a colleague and successor.

Rev Gordon Murray gave the report on Skye and Harris. We were also pleased to have Mr Alasdair Paterson at the Presbytery who gave an encouraging update.  The services have been cut to one in Dunvegan and one in Portree.  With the two groups now coming together this has brought mutual encouragement and a more united sense of fellowship.   Supply has also been forthcoming and the congregation were helped to furnish the manse to cater for visiting preachers. Gordon looks forward to joining the folk in Harris at the time of their communion.  He will also be holding a congregational meeting to think about the best way forward for the congregation.

Please pray for our congregations in these difficult times and particularly those who are without a pastor.  

Thoughts on the Gospel by David Joy


March 2015 No 218

‘...take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place...’ 2 Peter Ch1 v 19.
Dark before the Dawn
As I walked along the seashore early one morning all was quiet, save for the sound of a calm sea gently murmuring in the darkness. Far away to the east I could just see the faintest glow of an awakening sun.

The pre dawn darkness reminded me of how the Bible describes those who have no saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as being ‘in darkness and in the shadow of death,’ Psalm 107 v 10.

Like a land without the light and warmth of the sun they have no light in their understanding regarding the Gospel nor have they been touched by the life giving warmth of Christ’s love for sinners.

Dawn’s Beauty
Sitting on a rock I watched as the dawn began to break. That morning it was exceptionally beautiful. As the sun’s golden orb edged above the horizon, a red glow touched the sky with crimson rays that spread out further and further, lighting up the clouds and tingeing the still waters of the sea in a deep amber hue that set them on fire.

To me the sunrise was truly beautiful and yet many would go to work that morning and not even notice it. Like those who have no interest in Jesus and see in Him ‘no beauty that we should desire Him,’ Isaiah 53 v 2, they have no interest in the beauty of a rising sun that would give delight that day to many.

I have many thought provoking photographs of sunrises that clearly portray the beauty of the rising sun. And the Bible gives us many thought provoking pictures of the beauty of the Lord Jesus.

Beautiful in His Suffering
Jesus is beautiful in times of suffering because he has ‘suffered for us,’ I1 Peter 2 v 21. When the time comes to ‘walk through the valley of the shadow of death,’ Psalm 23 v 4, He will be with those who believe and trust in Him.

This was portrayed at His death when He told the penitent thief on the cross next to him that ‘today shalt thou be with me in paradise,’ Luke 27 v 43.

Will these words mean anything to you?

Beautiful in Sorrow
He is beautiful in times of sorrow for He is ‘the man of sorrows,’ Isaiah 53 v 3. Having experienced what it was to be ‘exceedingly sorrowful even unto death,’ Matthew 26 v 38, He can replace our sorrow with a comforting sense of His peace which no human can do, as He did for Isaac who ‘was comforted after his mother’s death,’ Genesis 24 v 67.

Beautiful in Daily Life
He is beautiful during the ups and downs and disappointments of daily everyday life for He ‘is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,’ Proverbs 18 v 24 and is never far away.

Paul knew this when facing shipwreck and death in stormy seas. He recounts that ‘there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; Acts 27 v 23. ‘And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land,’ Acts 27 v 44.

Jesus was with Paul in the midst of a great storm. Is He with you each and every day?   
Rising Sun
As the sun slowly rose above the horizon, the landscape around me became more visible. Dark shadows disappeared and soon I could clearly see much that had, just a short time before, been in darkness. Soon everything would be revealed in the stark reality of the sun’s all revealing light.

Friends, has the Gospel shone like a bright light into your heart? Has it, like the brightness of the sun, been revealing that which in the past was darkness to you?

Have the things that the Bible tells us about, creation, the fall of man, the need for a Saviour and the provision of a Saviour become clearer to you?

Reflection of the Sun
As I rose from where I sat, the last dying embers of the sun although still reflected in the sea were now a faded reminder of their previous glory. For a few moments in eternity they had touched the sea and transformed the heavens with their beauty.

Dear reader, have you been touched by Christ? Is there any reflection of His love in your life? Has it been transformed by your faith in Him?

Transformed for Ever
Like the brevity of the sunrise our lives are slowly  fading but the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ will never fade for His blood now and forever ‘cleanseth us from all sin,’ 1 John 1 v 7.

May you and I be able to say, that like the transforming effect of the sun’s rays, our lives have been transformed by faith in Christ, not for a few moments in eternity, but for all eternity.