Category Archives: Faith

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‘The LORD’s my saviour and my light– who will make me dismayed? The LORD’s the stronghold of my life- why should I be afraid? When evildoers threaten me, to take my life away, my adversaries and my foes will stumble in that day. Although an army hems me in, my heart will feel no dread; though war against me should arise, I will lift up my head.

One thing I’ll plead before the LORD, and this I’ll seek always: that I may come within God’s house and dwell there all my days- that on the beauty of the LORD I constantly may gaze, and in his house may seek to know direction in his ways. For in his dwelling he will keep me safe in troubled days; within his tent he’ll shelter me, and on a rock me raise. My head will then be lifted high above my enemies; and in his tent I’ll sacrifice with shouts of joy and praise.

LORD, hear me when I call to you; be merciful and speak! “Come, seek my face!” you told my heart; your face, LORD, I will seek. O do not hide your face from me, and do not turn aside your servant in your righteous wrath, for you have been my guide. O God my Saviour, leave me not; do not reject my plea. My parents may forsake me, LORD, but you will welcome me.

Teach me, O LORD, how I should live, and lead me in your way; make straight my path, because my foes oppress me every day. Give me not over to the will of vehment enemies; for liars rise to slander me and breathe out cruelties.

Yet I am sure that in this life God’s goodness I will see.

Wait for the LORD; be strong, take heart. For him wait patiently.’

 

Psalm 27 (C.M.)

Sing Pslams: New Metrical Versions of the Book of Psalms

 

Burst of Hope: Light in the Darkness

Embrace

What beauty has been revealed to us!
Horgabost Beach, Isle of Harris

A Prayer from the Heart

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cold toes

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Our boiler is on the blink again. well, it hasn’t really been fixed properly since the last time it wouldn’t switch on. I don’t like red glowing ‘lock-out’ lights! And Ruairidh is away for a couple of days, so there is just me trying to warm up the house! And I don’t even have the option of a fire to warm my toes as  the fireplace still isn’t in full working order. The rim has yet to be put in place, a messy, dusty job, as Ruairidh will have to cut out a slight groove for it to rest in because, unfortunately, it’s a bit deeper than the previous one. And I think a little bit has to be sanded off the back of the wooden mantel to get it flush with the wall, and then it will be finished! Maybe next week. Ruairidh is away at translation meetings until Wednesday, so nothing will happen this week anyway.

The past three weeks have been so busy, I feel like I’m emerging from a cloud that has enveloped us entirely, cutting us off from the realities of the lives of friends and family living in the free air of another world. More time seems to have passed than the date on the calender reveals. Intense times. Wonderful time with our friends in church and visitors over the weekend of communion and fellowship. A hectic day of a visiting committees and meetings with the congregation. Sad days with the death of an elderly lady, she was the oldest member in the congregation. And still more death touching the local community at the end of last week. This particular cloud continues into this week as they investigate and seek closure. Death, the intruder. And yet it is reality, it is the most certain thing about life. How it shocks us. We get so comfortable, so preoccupied with things that don’t matter. Are we living a life that is worth living? Do we make the most of our days? Do we allow the risk of being honest, of opening our heart in truth, in the knowledge that there is no time to be afraid, to hide behind our walls? I don’t like living on my own. Whats more, I’ve learned I’m rubbish at being on my own. I don’t look after myself, I have no discipline without the accountability of other people, the needs of other people, the motivation and comfort that comes from the companionship of other people. That is, people in the same building or close daily interaction. So, I need to challenge myself over the next couple of days, not to waste them, or to waste myself, or the time that has been given to me. What a gift we have been given! Even with cold toes.

The Measure of Maturity

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Taken from Every Day With Jesus Bible p.409
‘Our fellowship with other Christians heightens our understanding of God and helps us stay spiritually fresh. I have no doubt that my fellowship with other Christians has helped more than words can convey in keeping me spiritually alert and topped up. When for some reason I am not able to fellowship with other Christians, my spiritual life tends to sag. This is one of the laws of Christian life, and we ignore it to out peril.
Dr. E. Stanley Jones said, “The measure of our spiritual maturity can be and is measured by the breadth and depth of our capacity and willingness for fellowship.” Note the words “capacity” and “willingness”. This doesn’t mean working at enlarging our circle of fellowship- though for some it may mean that- but that we have the capacity and willingness to do it if God should so lead.
I know there are Christians in churches, fellowships and denominations whom I will never meet down here on earth, but I have the capacity and willingness to fellowship with them if God were to make it possible. We are only as mature as our willingness and capacity for fellowship. Therefore, if we cannot or do not want to fellowship with others who are truly Christ’s, then we are immature Christians….our basis ought to be this: everyone who belongs to Christ should belong to everyone else who belongs to Christ.’

God Speaks

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Taken from Every Day With Jesus Bible, Selwyn Hughes, p.405

‘Then a voice came from the cloud saying: “This is My Son, the Chosen One; listen to Him!” -Luke 9:35
…It is significant that immediately following this statement, a cloud descended and “they became afraid as they entered the cloud.”
Where there is division, there will always be clouds. There are clouds over churches, and we fear as we enter those clouds. Why are we afraid? The answer is simple- division. Each denomination is thinking in terms of itself, is losing a sense of the collective unity. But out of the clouds comes a Voice. God speaks! The voice is one of evaluation and invitation: “This is My Son, the Chosen One; listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35). The clouds will never lift and the fears will never depart until we listen to Christ. And what is He saying? This: “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You” (John 17:21). Christ must be first, and the unity of His body must take priority over any denominational allegiance…’

Article in FREE Magazine

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I got my hands on a hard copy of the latest edition of the FREE magazine (a youth magazine published by the Free Church) which includes an article that Flora (my friend who I went to Italy with) and I wrote about a camp we were at in 2002. It has notoriously been known as the ‘Oswestry Sick Camp’ because we were in a place called Oswestry on borders between England and Wales for the camp, and at least half the camp became sick with a vomiting bug! Lovely, eh?! Well, it turned out to be one of the best camps we ever attended- even as Flora’s first camp, it didn’t put her off, we went back the following years! 2010 saw the 50th anniversary of Free Church Youth Camps and we wrote of our experience as part of the memories and celebration. (There’s a celebratory Camps tea towel available to buy if anybody is interested! Just let me know.) Thought I’d share our combined effort with you all in case you can’t get a copy. It will bring some smiles anyway, but beware, it may change your appreciation of sticky toffee pudding forever more!

Oswestry ‘Sick Camp’ 2002: entitled ‘Don’t blame the Sticky Toffee Pudding’ by FREE

After years of attending Free Church Youth Camps, one extraordinary year stands out for us. How could ending up in a Welsh hospital with half of your camp not stick in your memory?! The Oswestry ‘Sick-Camp’ in 2002 was not exactly the camp we all anticipated.

None of us could quite believe it when a wave of winter vomiting virus (not food poisoning as many were led to believe) hit the camp during the second night. About half of the campers and leaders suffered from the, shall we say, less than attractive, never-ending vomiting. Our lucky friend Eilidh was the first one to make a scene, and introduce us to what would almost ruin our holiday. We were happily wolfing down our dinner when, drama queen that she is, all of a sudden she jumped to her feet and bolted out of the room, clutching her mouth. Cruel though it may seem, we thought nothing of it: trust Eilidh to disagree with camp food (how could anyone disagree with camp food?!)! Slightly concerned, though mostly unperturbed, we calmly shared her Sticky Toffee Pudding between us.

It wasn’t until a few hours later that I (Flora) began to suspect something terrible was afoot.  Some more people had been sick, but I just attributed it to the chip-eating competitions at dinnertime.  However, by about half-past ten I myself was beginning to feel distinctly queasy. Peigi was next to flee to the sink, and was shortly followed by yours truly – you realise this is the expurgated version, sparing you the stomach-churning details. The next couple of hours saw the sickness spread to half the camp. The rumour of ambulances and flashing lights in the distance brought some helpful distraction. That is, until we were summoned to the meeting room. The paramedics were there to examine us!

The deliberation felt like it took hours. Were we ill enough to go to hospital? The fact that we were in the midst of a youth camp of around 40 young people, with no parents; and another camp in the building next door, clinched it. They decided to admit the worst cases into hospital. It was not a pleasant drive in the Ambulance minibus, which positively crawled the eighteen long, nauseous miles to Wrexham Maelor Hospital. On arrival, there were more not so pleasant surprises. ‘Mind the blood there…someone’s been stabbed…’ was one comment that made us wonder where on earth were we going?! We were given injections to stop the vomiting and ease the pain, before we were wheeled into the hastily evacuated Bright Ward. A lot of the following six hours are a blur to us, but there are some hilarious memories that stand out, all the more hilarious in light of high-temperature induced hallucination! Each camper and leader experienced mind-boggling cross-examinations about ourselves- not so fun or easy when you can’t think straight and all you want to do is sleep. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to spell your name when you have a high temperature! The endless night passed into early Sunday, with the Wrexham staff diligently watching the temperatures of their charges and keeping them hydrated with the most foul-tasting concoction of sugar and salt.

On Monday, after a very long time in bed, we began to feel better, and were longing to move about. Once the nausea retreats everything changes.  Personality comes to life again; activity can resume. Thus we discovered just how much fun isolation can be, when a group of children and youthful leaders have a ward to themselves, with free meals and nurses to wait on them.  We discovered the sliding properties of hospital blankets combined with shiny floors, and had great fun with our ‘danger of infection’ stickers, (we still have ours!).  After a day of fun and games, we were finally kicked out.

Because it was such a severe bug, the medical experts were expecting a second wave to hit the camp, affecting those who hadn’t caught it the first time round. But we did what we could at the Quinta Centre, with separate dorms, toilets and showers for those ‘infected’. And everybody prayed. To the amazement of the doctors, no second wave hit during the rest of our time in Oswestry. The week passed by, albeit a little subdued, with the planned activities. The incident might have been expected to completely ruin Camp, but, surprisingly enough, it didn’t.  For those of us who had been in hospital, the sickness meant we were freed from all chores for the rest of the week! We left on the Thursday, a day earlier than planned, in order to allow for the decontamination of the Quinta before the next group arrived.

What an eventful week! But what a great time we had. We’ve never known a camp family to grow so close in so short a time, and the reality of God’s presence was so special throughout the week. Those of us who had spent so long in such close proximity to one another became much closer than would otherwise have been the case (an unexpected ‘bonding’ experience) and we got to keep our hospital wristbands as ‘souvenirs’. Our week at camp taught us many life and faith lessons, and, perhaps we can now empathise more readily with others in the grip of sickness.

Many thanks are due to the leaders who kept us afloat, the medical staff at Wrexham Hospital, and to all the folk back home who prayed. This review is a reminder to all of how great God is. We had such an amazing week, but I (Peigi) hope it doesn’t happen again! Now, as a camp leader, I appreciate the dread of such a nightmare scenario. However, blessing upon blessing was poured upon us, and the good memories have proved to be far more enduring than the quickly forgotten nausea.

By Flora Imrie and Peigi MacLeod 2009-10

For the Beauty of the Earth

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For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies,
Father, unto thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light,
Father, unto thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight,
Father, unto thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

For the joy of human love
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends of earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Father, unto thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven,
Father unto thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, 1835-1917

from ‘His Light in Our Darkness’ by Fiona Castle pg.49-50

Faithful One

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I find a hope within, to call my own
For I am frail of heart, my strength is gone
But deep within my soul, is rising up a song
Here in the comfort of the Faithful One.

I walk a narrow road, through valleys deep
In search of higher ground, on mountains steep
And though with feet unsure, I still keep pressing on
For I am guided by the Faithful One.

Faithful, faithful to the end
My true and precious friend.
You have been faithful
Faithful, so faithful to me.

I see your wounded hands, I touch your side
With thorns upon your brow, You bled and died
But there’s an empty tomb, a love for all who come
And give their hearts to you, the Faithful One

Faithful, faithful to the end
My true and precious friend.
You have been faithful
Faithful, so faithful to me.

And when the tale is gone, and when the race is run
I will bow down before God’s only Son
And I will lift my hands, in praise for all you’ve done
And I will worship you, my Faithful One. 

Sung by ‘Selah’ with Christy Nockels, on their album ‘Bless The Broken Road’