• Warming hearts in Winter
    Winter has arrived! Wind, wet and snow. After the festive season, it’s back to ‘auld clathes and porridge’. And for many folk, it’s a misery that brings few signs of spring coming. The gap between the richest and poorest increases, benefits are tightened and food banks grow. Heath services are strained and local councils face demands for the care of the elderly and the cure of broken lives. An increasingly secularised society where values for good behaviour are held captive to celebrity lifestyles. Never, since the 1950’s, has there been a better season for Christian witness! Believing and receiving the Promises of God, looking to be filled with the Holy Spirit, hoping on New Heaven and New Earth. We have something real and tangible to offer friends, family, colleagues and neighbours For what we offer, as Baptists, is something to warm and welcome the weary and care-worn. Churches built on Bible truths. Jesus at the Centre. A commitment to strong bonds of fellowship and mutual support. An invitation to step into the light and love of Jesus Christ, whose radiance can melt the coldest heart. Around us, there is no longer a clear expectation of prosperity, either with or without Brexit. In the middle of winter, let’s warm our hearts before the God of grace, in prayer. Let’s feed afresh on the Lord, in the Gospel. Let’s reach out to folks, showing them love and support. What an opportunity such a winter brings. Rev Dr Jim Purves Mission and Ministry Advisor Baptist Union of Scotland
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  • Resolve
    “How do I become the better version of myself?” is the question behind many of the New Year’s resolutions being made. Gym membership will be taken out, dance classes signed up to by couples realising they need to do more together, diets will be started. As a nation we will resolve to get fitter, healthier, more loving, and our intentions are sincere. Within churches, people will resolve to read the entire Bible in a year, (I’ve set out to do it several times and managed it once), to grow in their discipleship, to pray more, to give more, to increase their witness, in summary to demonstrate in a clear way that Jesus is their Lord. Like those on a diet, temptation will come quickly to rob us of our best intentions. Our time, money and focus will be stretched and something will have to give. What will it be? In Acts 3 and 4 we read the story where Peter and John heal a man who is looking for some money to feed himself. They boldly state that healing comes in Jesus’ name and unsurprisingly, the crowd who gather to witness the miracle are curious to find out more. The controllers of the public space, who police what is deemed polite to talk about, recognise that their act of kindness, the miracle of healing cannot be denied but that they must not speak about Jesus. They declare that they can do no such thing and then return to the church for worship, prayer, teaching and refreshing to restore their resolve. There are many who are happy for us to serve the nation of Scotland, to spend our time demonstrating the power of God in acts of kindness, generosity and in the outworking of his miraculous power but they would also seek to police the spaces and conversations where these acts are carried out. May we strengthen our resolve to not only serve in the name of Jesus but to speak out his name and his truth as the one who can truly help people “become the better version of myself.” Rev Alan Donaldson General Director Baptist Union of Scotland
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  • Attitude of Gratitude
    Although celebrating advent is a fairly new thing in Baptist church circles in Scotland and is not yet celebrated in all churches, it is celebrated in most homes. For the last few years I have received an Advent Calendar from the Scottish based charity Mary’s Meals. It is not the usual calendar with its chocolate filled boxes hidden behind bright coloured doors, but a poster with a reflection for every day. Centred on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love, the poster challenges my consumerist influenced heart, by drawing me into Scripture, stories of life-giving food, opportunities to give financially, and time and guidance for my prayers. Of all the wonderful suggestions, one strikes me as being a real help to combat the constant struggle I feel at this time of year to get more “stuff”. It comes on Monday 28th November: “Start an Advent Blessings Jar: Write down something you are thankful for each day and place in jar. Read out all your blessings on Christmas Day and thank the Lord.” What could me more fitting on the day we choose to celebrate the incarnation than to spend time remembering, alongside Jesus, the many other gifts that flow from the Father heart of God. I am already imagining on Christmas day opening up the jar filled with pieces of paper placed there by my wife and I, our lodger, people who have visited us during the advent season, neighbours who will descend on Christmas Eve morning, finding our Christmas day filled with potentially a hundred or more reasons for giving thanks. Among these reasons will be our Baptist family. As I reflected back on the Assembly, the highlight for me was simply being with that gathered congregation from all over Scotland, catching up with friends I have made as I travel and hearing from people I was meeting for the first time. This advent I invite you to join me in cultivating an “attitude of gratitude.” You may even consider it to be a counter cultural act of witness. Let’s put off the stereotypical view of dour, penny pinching, complaining Scottish people and witness to the generosity and thankfulness placed in our hearts by the transforming presence of the Spirit of God. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NIV Rev Alan Donaldson General Director Baptist Union of Scotland
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