“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”” (Acts 16:9)
The account of the birth of the church at Philippi is one of the most extensive accounts of church planting in the New Testament. Paul had intended to devote his second missionary journey to Asia. However, when Paul and his companions had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word in Asia,” and when they tried to go into Bithynia, “the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7). As they came to Troas, “a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”” (Acts 16:9)
Continue reading “The Church in Europe”
“For even the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Service is not a uniquely Christian concept. The language of service is something engrained throughout society. Politicians are expected to serve their constituents, businesses serve their customers and teachers, social workers and many others spend their lives serving others. In some cases, great acts of valour are carried out in the service of others, by those who put themselves in harm’s way, even to the point of death. Continue reading “Serve Others”
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…their works follow them” (Revelation 14:13)
David Brainerd (1718-1747) was an 18th century American missionary to the native American Indians of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843) was a 19th century Scottish minister in Dundee. These two men lived in different centuries, were born in different countries, ministered in differing circumstances and therefore, in some senses, had little in common. However, in another sense they had much in common: each were called to be ambassadors for Christ, gave much in His service, died at 29 years of age, yet were to greatly influence generations to come.
Continue reading “29 Years”
“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
A slate engraving and a stone cairn were recently unveiled in Stornoway as the first in a series of events to commemorate the centenary of the Iolaire disaster (Here). Before being used by the navy in anti-submarine and patrol work, the Iolaire had been a luxury yacht prior to the First World War. It was 31 December 1918, the war was over, peace was restored amongst the nations, and, after four long years, the men who had served King and country were on their way home.
The Kyle of Lochalsh quay was crowded with servicemen, and the steam ferry, the SS Sheila, was soon packed to the rafters. The Iolaire was sent for from her berth in Stornoway to transport the extra men back home to Lewis. She was kitted out with only two lifeboats and 80 lifejackets as 283 servicemen made their way up the gangplank and onto the ship.
Continue reading “Holding the Rope”
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
The Lord’s Supper was celebrated throughout congregations in Stornoway last weekend, where church members ate bread and drank wine to proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes. The question is often asked, who should partake of the communion and sit at the Lord’s Table. This question was addressed in the “fencing of the table” in our own congregation by the Minister, Rev. Stephen McCollum.
The fencing of the table is a word of explanation given by the Minister as to who ought and who ought not to participate in the communion. The idea is that the minister is figuratively putting a fence around the table to illustrate the distinction in the congregation. It is something which was traditionally practiced in Presbyterian congregations, dating back to the reformation, but seems to be seldom practiced in the Scottish church today.
Continue reading “At the Same Time, Righteous and Sinners”
“The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:20-21)
The Isle of Lewis is steeped in history, heritage and distinctiveness. It may seem strange to those of us who have been born and brought up here, but a visit to the Outer Hebrides is considered a must by many would be travellers. Travel blogs and tourism websites speak enthusiastically of the beautiful beaches, the stunning landscape, the welcoming people, the distinctive culture and the sense of tranquillity and escape.
Continue reading “The Troubled Sea”
“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
Last month, a small group of us enjoyed a visit to the Gambia, a small country on the West Coast of Africa. Gambia is well known as a beautiful and welcoming country, with temperatures in the mid to high 30’s at this time of year. It is a predominantly Muslim population, therefore Christ is known only as prophet, rather than as the Saviour of sinners.
Having felt the searing heat of Gambia, not known in our Hebridean climate, it was a shock to the system to come back home to the recent snowfall and freezing conditions. We may not experience as much snow as other countries, but snow is something that is never experienced in Gambia.
Continue reading “Whiter than the Snow”
Someone brought my attention to a link to a worthwhile teaching series (available here) on the Shorter Catechism by Rev. Robert McCurley. Most of the videos are around 15 minutes long, so not too time consuming.
The following is the Moderator’s Address at the Free Church of Scotland General Assembly in 1995. The Moderator was Rev Murdo Alex Macleod (Stornoway Free Church) and the address was entitled ‘the Primacy of Preaching.’
Rev. Macleod believed that there was a crisis of true preaching in the Free Church. Many of the issues dealt with in his address have greatly escalated in the 22 years that have elapsed. The need for a critical eye to be cast upon the pulpits of our land, whatever our denomination, is surely needed even more so in our day. We ought to pray for a restoration of true preaching in the pulpits of Scotland today.
The paper is as follows, and has been reproduced here with kind permission of the Macleod family…
The Primacy of Preaching
Addressing the meeting of the Synod of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands in 1927, that eminent Free Church man, Sir James Simpson, concluded his address by stating that the Free Church of Scotland, acknowledged to be the Church of the Reformation and of the Disruption even by the State, was fulfilling its trust with no little measure of success. “Its work,” he said, “limited in extent, is comprehensive in character. It speaks with no uncertain voice, and in a tone to be heard, on questions of religion and morals, public and private. Its ministry is evangelical and its members generally live consistent Christian lives.”
Continue reading “The Primacy of Preaching”
“…The Lord will give grace and glory…” (Psalm 84:11)
In ancient days, when larger ships were unable to get close enough to shore to dock due to stormy conditions, the ship’s anchor would be placed in a small boat called a forerunner. The forerunner carried the anchor through the breakers and dropped it at the harbour securing the larger ship. When weather conditions would permit, the larger ship would slowly be drawn to shore through the anchor chain, and the ship would eventually arrive safely at the harbour.
Continue reading “The Forerunner of Glory”