The Call

Sky Pilot

In a previous generation, the Rev Andrew Sutherland, minister at Lairg, received a call to a church in Glasgow. On hearing of the approach made to their pastor, the elders of the Lairg congregation, cross and concerned, beat a hasty path down to the manse. They were met at the manse door by the minister’s son. “Is your father home, we must speak with him”, they said to the boy. “No”, he replied, “my father’s in his study praying about a call, and has given strict instructions that on no account is he to be disturbed”. “Is that so”, said the senior elder, “go get your mother, we will have a word with her instead!” “Sorry”, said the boy, “my mother also said that she wasn’t to be distracted.” “Oh, is she in prayer too?” “No”, the boy replied, “she’s packing the dishes.”

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Kid’s Talk

waverley710, The Ramblings of a Wannabe theologian.

This talk is suitable for doing with children gathered at the front but can also be done to the congregation at large with children seated with parents etc.

You will need ‘Bassetts’ Jelly Babies for this talk –other versions will not work.

Today we are learning about the importance of family and spending time together to learn about God.

And something I like to share and spend time doing is eating my favourite sweets!

Who here likes sweets? (pause to let children respond)
Who can tell me what their favourite sweet is? (allow response)

Some of my favourite sweets are “Jelly Babies”
Does anyone here like Jelly Babies? (allow response)

Open the packet and eat one and say ‘mmmm I just love them’
Maybe share with a few children and ask them do they like them too?

Now here is an interesting fact about “Jelly Babies”, when they were first…

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Shifting Paradigms: hope for the future

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Maggie Chapman

Shifting Paradigms graphic

I was delighted to be asked to give the closing keynote speech at this year’s Shifting Paradigms conference, organised by the Aberdeen Political Economy Group. This is what I said:

Good afternoon everyone, and thank you so much for inviting me to give the closing speech this afternoon. It’s a huge honour to be here, and I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved in such an engaging and interesting weekend – well done to all of you for organising and participating in such a great weekend. It’s a real privilege to be invited to speak on a platform with such a variety of top class speakers. I’m only sorry I was not able to attend more sessions … some of you will be aware of some shenanigans happening on campus over the last few days – I’m afraid the struggle for democracy has taken up…

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let us Pray

As Jesus called his disciples, let us be called to worship and serve you lord,

hear us as we come before you with reverence and respect

God who is here, in this place, now in our midst, lets us praise you not with words, and actions that come from outsides us, but from within us,

may we sing with all our being, fill us with a sense of your joy god, you are our, life giver, life shaper ,bread breaker, pain bearer, faith maker, we ask not for rewards, BUT TO SERVE YOU, Amen

“There’s nothing new under the sun”

Ecclesiastes is not exactly the most upbeat book in the bible, in fact to a point it could be seen as dreary maybe thought provoking, when it expels our ardent desire for mere vanity of life.
“There is nothing new under the sun”

Change. It is on the minds of all people, as we come to this the end of 2017 and look forward to our New Year.
A hope that the fears and tears of this year will be washed away, and we will embrace A new year with great gusto?
Will we have to reset our attitude to life and affirm, that there is nothing new under the sun? Aye right
But what is on the minds of people around the world.
There has been a little change there – you may feel like all you have left is spare change… Bad change – a reduction in value of at least a third for most of us. That is change I didn’t ask for.
Either it’s the change that we need or the change we’ve been asking for. Somehow, some way, after today there will be change. Certainly a new year will begin we hope
For others around the world change is a constant factor – often leading to life altering circumstances. Regime change, change in local government, change in ruling religious authority – has meant exodus and genocide and exploitation. Surely this is change they didn’t ask for.
In the midst of all this change – how can the Teacher be right? How can he say that there is nothing new under the sun? Doesn’t he recognize how change often brings with it suffering and fear?
I believe we are living in days where the words of the Teacher from Ecclesiastes ring truer than any time in our lives. When we have plenty yet we are not satisfied; and all we work for is taken away…
It does seem a wearisome toil.
And for those who already live at the limits of their income, we see the cost of living increasing in disproportionate measure to increases in wages. People of all income levels have had to make choices about how they spend their money.
It is surely a wearisome toil.
if that matters to anyone here – is a load of bad news on top of bad news.
All does seem to be vanity, and a wearisome toil.
I don’t mean to reiterate our current situation to increase fear or raise anxiety – these feelings are already present for most of us. But I am aware that situations like this have happened before – in recent memory and throughout history.
From many camps – political, economic, sociologic and religious – there is a race to find out who we can blame for the financial mess the world is in.
We can blame others we can blame corporate greed, or we can blame the devil. Why not?

But somewhere we have to look at ourselves and wonder how the desire to have what we cannot afford, to gain what we didn’t truly work for, and to put our needs before the needs of others, is at the heart of the problem.
Our “eyes have not been satisfied with seeing.” Window shopping hasn’t satisfied us, owning is the only option.
And so I think it is appropriate to ask myself, how did I find comfort in the lure of easy money.
A friend spoke to me about a camera he bought at 18 months without interest, or his no-interest car loan that is now finally paid off.
If he, and millions others just like him, had not demanded access to easy money – would the banking system have needed to respond with higher and higher risk investments?
The tiresome nature of our desires is more than we can express, it is a vanity.
The Teacher of Ecclesiastes not only warns about vanity and how quickly what we want most dearly fades, but also warns that we need to remember those who have gone before us, not just so that we can learn, but so we will be remembered by and leave a legacy to those who come after us.
My parents were children growing up in rural Scotland as WWII.
Any of you with parents of that similar generation will certainly have heard the stories of how hard these times were, how their worlds changed due to economic circumstances.
I heard the proverbial stories of walking five miles to school – into the wind, uphill, in the driving snow.
I heard stories recounting the great floods and subsequently droughts that ruined harvests and forced many families to the brink of starvation.
Or the story about ploughing the back 40 acres with a blind three-legged horse…
But for all the stories of hardship and loss, what most sticks in my head and resonates through my heart are the stories of how people came together to help one another.
One farmer had a steam powered threshing machine and would work with the others to harvest their grain. In turn the other farmers helped him plough.
In turn others grew and cut hay – distributing it to the dairy farmer who in turn made sure everyone in the area had fresh milk.
There were less pragmatic but touching stories too. Families who lost fathers and sons in the war had little to worry about when planting and harvesting times came – everyone knew what they must do.

It was what you did – it was the right thing to do. I am so glad I have those stories – no matter how my parents and I have gotten along through the years, their memories are a legacy of a time when community, and a life centred around A church meant more to people and this was their wealth and dreams of sunnier happy days
When a community was considered strong only when its most vulnerable members had what they needed.
The Teacher of Ecclesiastes says the turmoil of today is old news; there is nothing new under the sun. He writes probably after the third return from exile – and possibly when Alexander was conquering Israel.
Being subject to foreign rulers was not new under his sun – how faithful people respond however is new.
Jesus says we shouldn’t be alarmed by wars and rumours of war. He even gave us a warning about filling our earthly storehouses – who knows when it will all be taken away.
Nothing new, vanities – but how faithful people respond will be their test.
What will be our response in a time of upheaval, change and need? Will we merely admit defeat to the forces of the market? Will we seek to find blame and demand that someone pay?

Will we “stop doing and pray something” as I’ve heard advocated from one corner of Christendom recently?
Or will we learn from the wisdom of the past, our forbears? Will we learn from other Teachers like Gandhi who said “you must be the change you want to see in the world?”
But as Christians, we have two ideals of what this sort of change looks like.
Real change has everything to do with what the Greek writers of the New Testament called evangaleon – “the Good News” and basilia tou theou – “the Kingdom of God.”
So are we ready to be Good News? I’m talking about being Good News, not just talking about it!
Are we ready to be the Kingdom of God? Again, being the Kingdom of God,
When I read my Bible and study the first Christians I see that people were drawn to this new religious expression because it met their needs: spiritual, emotional and physical.
It gave them a place to belong, and it included them in a vision that was bigger than their current condition offered.
It gave them hope when political and spiritual oppression all seemed a wearisome toil.

Early Christians believed their work would change the world and remove an oppression they had become so accustomed to they no longer noticed it.
And their hope wasn’t limited to the afterlife as some promote – it wasn’t escapism; that happened later in Christian theology – the first Christians’ hope rested in the community of believers being Good News and offering the Kingdom of God to one another and to the world around them.
That hope rocked the world of early Christianity.
– that is being Good News; that is offering the Kingdom of God.

So although there is bad news, and worse news being heaped upon bad news, I am sure there is hope. I am assured that Jesus was teaching his disciples, and teaching us, to be Good News.
“Hope doesn’t come from calculating whether the good news is winning out over the bad. It’s simply a choice to take action.”
May it be said of our generation and in this time that we were Good News, that we offered hope to the most vulnerable, that we put others before ourselves.

There may be nothing new under the sun, but the moment is upon us to prove that Good News lives continually and the Kingdom of God is present in the hearts of those who call upon Christ as their hope in all times.

Paul’s first Letter to the Thessalonians

meanwhile back at the ranch, well at least sitting here at my desk pondering

Yes Readers, here i am again at the fountain of knowledge, Thinking of Paul and his letter, I doubt it started, “Weathers here wish you were fine”, But although thought to be a short letter, maybe not as would say so, in a modern age , where texting is the norm and if we manage to text more than 2 syllables, That seems acceptable.
Grace to you and peace, hoping you still have faith in my words and follow your enlightened guide, Must have been strange for a man not known in this polis just to appear, and ask people to down tools, turn their backs on the way of life that previously was all they knew, Worshiping idols, eating meat offered to the Gods, well to Apollo or Zeus, someone of that nature,And they will be saved from the wrath, well could you imagine, Indeed it did happen, even with those who were of a high status, Those who made their money accumulated wealth from the way of life, they were ask to walk away from. Paul was thought by some to be a sophist, But he wasn’t he was spreading the word of our savior, The words of love, from a man only sentenced to death, yet walk again, some few years previous, But they did they gave up the lives they knew and trusted in this stranger called Paul.
The following is a sermon for 26th October 2014.
As the gates of the grove of Academe, Swing open for me after some thirty years plus.
I find myself standing before the fountain of knowledge.
with the clam shell of the pilgrim,As a disciple/ A student, With a firm grasp of a cup of wisdom, faith , Love and hope, A hope in the stedfastness of our lord and savior the christ.
I offer you all salutations, As Paul did to the church of the Thessalonians
In God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Grace to you and Peace.
In our text this morning the apostle Paul faces off with those who were attempted to distort the truth about him. From the first verses of 1 Thessalonians 2 it appears that people were saying Paul and his team were corrupt and scam artists who were unsuccessful in their work.
Personally I don’t think Paul was concerned about what people said about him. However, he felt that these personal attacks needed to be addressed because of their impact on the credibility of his witness.
As you listen to these words you will hear not only a defense of Paul’s ministry. I am hopeful that you will also see some things that will help you to be faithful in your own witness for the gospel.
Nothing new for paul to face adversity, He being once the prosecutor of the followers of Christ
That men and woman alike shook at the mention of his very name, Now here was a changed man, a man changed by a vision. of the very man he opposed, The very man who restored his sight and gave him a faith to follow, But thats a story for another day…….
The first principle for being a faithful witness is to not give up just because circumstances are difficult. Paul begins chapter 2 with these words,
You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2 We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
Paul went to Philippi because he had a vision of a man calling him to Macedonia. Paul went to Macedonia and began to reach out to the people in Philippi. One day the Spirit used Paul to cast out a demon from a woman. The people who had been exploiting the woman were angry and had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten and thrown in jail. The next morning, the officials of that polis escorted them out of town.
Their ministry in Thessalonica was not much different. After three Sabbaths in the synagogue, their ministry provoked a riot in the city and the apostles had to sneak out of town.
It’s easy to imagine that some would point to this ministry and say it was a failure. If I were Paul I know I would have wondered if I was a miserable failure. When a program, idea, or ministry fails or stalls, I often want to give up and just walk away. Like me, you have probably had times when you set out to do a job and things didn’t go as you expected………
People may not have called you a failure, but you saw the stares and sensed the whispers. More than that, you heard the accusations of the devil in your own heart and mind. This is why these words of Paul are so instructive to us. In spite of the circumstances and the whispers of failure, Paul continued to boldly declare the truth. He refused to give up simply because things didn’t go as he expected. I think Paul understood several things we need to remember.
No one said following Christ would be easy or always pleasant. Jesus warned us that if people hated Him, some of those same people would hate us. Just because you are experiencing conflict doesn’t mean you have failed.
We don’t see the whole picture. When things don’t go as we expect we need to withhold judgment because God may be doing something different than we can see. I have often heard, for god works in mysterious ways, i can assure you this is true, for i have been at the recieving end of his kindness and 10 fold
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” God’s purpose for us was not to change the nation . . . He was using them to inform the nation and to provide a warning to the generations that would follow. God may be doing something different in you or through you than you may expect.
God’s definition of success and our definition of success are different. We look for worldly success; we look for financial profit, numerical growth, and the applause of men. God is looking for us to be faithful even when we don’t understand what He is doing.
Even if we do fail, failure is a necessary ingredient to growth. We learn best from the mistakes we make in life.
Faithful people continue being faithful in spite of the circumstances.
The second thing we learn from Paul is that a Faithful witness speaks the truth in love. may give us some insight as to the charges being made against Paul
For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.
It is likely there were those who charged that Paul was working a scam and simply using the Thessalonians for his own purposes. These people couldn’t attack the facts of the Christian faith, so they attacked the messenger!
What they didn’t do
You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.
Paul never used flattery. Have you ever had someone come up to you and say, “You are so good at (teaching, building, raising money, making music, chairing a committee, speaking and on and on)? They butter you up and then they make a request that you do something for them. Kids are great at this with their parents. Flattery is insincere talk designed to manipulate a person to do what you want.
It is tempting to colour the gospel in attractive colours in order to get someone to join our group or to agree with us.
lets remove the talk of sin and repentance and focusing on man’s great potential rather than his need of new life and a Savior.
· Softening talk about what it means to follow Jesus. People don’t like to hear that a relationship with Jesus involves obedience and often involves sacrifice. However, when we omit this information we are merely tickling the ears of the people and we are presenting a false gospel. Jesus said we should count the cost before coming after Him.
Dangling promises of material gain and a problem free life . . .promises the Bible never makes.
This kind of tactic is no different from the child trying to get something from the parent. It is adjusting the truth to get what we want. As believers, we don’t need to resort to flattery. Our job is to tell the truth. God’s Spirit is the only one that can change a human heart. He does not need our deception to enable Him to change a life or circumstance.
Paul was not motivated by greed. Paul didn’t do what he did because of what he thought he could gain personally. He had one purpose: to present the truth of the gospel. If i had read on to verse 9 Paul reminded them that he didn’t even take up an offering in his meetings. He and his friends worked hard to avoid any appearance that they were trying to fleece the flock. Many, in Paul’s day and ours, try to do that very thing. Paul was not one of them.
Greed rears it’s head in many ways: when we are kind to others in order to get them to come to our church, give to our cause, or in some other way enrich US, we are not motivated by our love for the person; we are seeking to enrich ourselves. When we take position or a job for the purpose of being seen by others; that’s greed. Any time when our primary concern is to get what WE want whether it is money, power, or influence we are motivated by greed. Greed is a perversion of the heart of God.
What They did do
Paul not only refuted the charges of his opponents he points to his true motivation,
As students dare i say apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
Paul reminded the Thessalonians that his approach was to be gentle with them. He gave up his “rights” in order to address their needs. Paul said he had the heart of a mother. A mother is willing to sacrifice. She gives her all to care for her child. When a parent hears the cry of there child they drop everything and run to their aid. Parents will sacrifice their comforts in order to provide for their children. This is the attitude we should have toward lost people.
Peter gave us the right heart for faithful witness when he said,
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Be prepared, be gentle, and be consistent in your own life. If you want to be a faithful witness the message of the gospel people need to see the love of the christ in us before they will hear the word of God from us. Paul was willing to share not only the gospel, but also his very life with these people. He was vulnerable and loving. He was willing to enduring suffering on their behalf. He had a servant’s heart. If we want to be faithful, that’s what we must do also.
We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
This is a key factor. As long as we are trying to please other people we are going to be constantly frustrated. The requirements will be ever changing and joy and peace will be illusive. It will be almost impossible to be effective in our faith. Who of us has not been frustrated that a person who seemed to be our friend one day, turned against us the next?
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Paul was not concerned with the court of public opinion; he was concerned with the court of Heaven. Paul focused on the coming a day when the Lord would sit as the judge over all our actions.
Think about how difficult a mindset this is to maintain. We love the roar of the crowds. We like to be liked. We hate being the focus of attack. As a result, we are all prone to “play to the crowds”. Instead of serving the Lord we find ourselves serving the world’s definition of success (numbers, money, position and accolades). We find ourselves doing what we need to do to fit in (even if it means turning away from God’s truth).
If a person is going to effectively plan for their retirement they cannot constantly “live for the moment”. That person must delay some gratification so he can save for a future day. That’s what a faithful believer does . . .they live today in light of tomorrow.
I hope you will use these verses different ways. First, it is my hope that you will find encouragement in these words. Are you worn out in your Christian life? Are you afraid to reach out or to try something because of the fear of failure? If so, I hope you are encouraged by the reminder that God is looking for faithfulness from His people. He does not weigh faithfulness by the world’s definition of success. Instead, God honors the heart that faithfully serves Him.
I think we are in for big surprises in Heaven. I don’t think the people who will receive the greatest rewards are going to be the people of celebrity status in our society. I think some of the people honored the most may be, Those who follow our enlightened guide, who lights our path
I urge you to keep going. Don’t give up because the road is difficult. Don’t turn away because things aren’t going the way you planned. Trust His plan. Trust His heart of love for you. Trust His wisdom. Trust His grace. Keep reaching out. Keep sharing the truth. Continue to be faithful. The real test of faith is not whether or not you celebrate God in good times. That is easy to do. The real test is to continue to trust Him when things are hard. That is true faith.
Should we constantly search out our own heart and our motives as you serve the Lord. Who are you really serving? What values are really driving your activities, our social status, Is our calendar full, The people with whom you are friends, and the gospel message you share with others? Are you squandering all you have on present pursuits and worldly mirages, or are you living in light of the day when God will judge your hearts and life?
Let’s face it; the world will continue to attack the cause of Christ. If we belong to Him, they will attack us also. If we are going to continue to stand, we must resolve to tell the truth without compromise, to love and serve others with the heart of Jesus, and to do what is right even when it doesn’t seem to be paying off. It won’t be easy, but it is the only way to remain faithful in our discipleship in a hostile world. In this Great Creation of Gods………………..