• Give me also springs of water
    For some time, the Lord has been speaking to me about our future through a few verses of scripture in Judges 1:12-15, with the key phrase being: “give me also springs of water.” It is the story of Caleb’s daughter who has been given the dry Land of the Negev as her birthright. But the Land is barren due to its dryness, and she asks her father for a gracious blessing of springs of water to irrigate the whole Land. This passage came as an answer to prayer for me. My prayer had been, "how do I pray for our churches? How should I pray for this land?" And this was his answer to me: pray, “Give me also springs of water”. We know the potential of our nation to glorify God. But we also know that the living faith which grew, and spread in and from this nation, has significantly dried up in the past few generations. I believed the Lord was saying, "the Land can be fruitful again but it requires the refreshing flow of my Spirit to revive the church and to revive the nation". All this is good news but there also came a rebuke as I pondered this passage over months. I began to think of what I had been praying for years. And I think you could describe it like this: “Lord give me a well for my field, give me a well to refresh Denny Baptist Church, give me a well to refresh Leven Baptist Church, give me a well to refresh Dumfries Baptist Church". Then it became "give me a well for the Baptist Union of Scotland". Maybe you have prayed in the same vein. But the Lord had to show me that praying that way was not asking for good gifts. A well is a container of water. Wells get protected by people who have them, restricting access by other people. Wells encourage selfishness, arrogance and pride. Look at how healthy my fields are! Look at what is happening in our fields! A well of water would not have been a good gift. At Assembly we heard this as a call to prayer in our tri- jubilee year, a time for us to pray for every traditional denomination and every new church in Scotland. We need to see the whole church irrigated by the move of his Spirit and the whole land of Scotland refreshed. We must not contain our vision of what God might do in this Land to our own fields and our ability to spread water by the bucketload from our well. The nation of Scotland does not need our buckets; it needs streams of water flowing in the north, in the south, in the east, in the west, as well as in the central lands. My prayer is that our 150th year will be marked by a fresh and generous spirit of prayer amongst us, seeking blessing and refreshment in and from our nation. Rev Alan Donaldson General Director Baptist Union of Scotland
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  • God is on the move!
    It has been my privilege over these summer months to have visited a few different churches and to have met up with folks leading various ministries around Scotland. The encouraging thing has been the consistent story that God is on the move! From churches who have regularly seen people come to faith, some have baptised a bunch of people, to other stories of churches really connecting with their local communities throughout the year. A few quick examples: Southside Church in Ayr have a Christmas project where they raise funds to buy bikes for children in their community who otherwise couldn’t afford a bike. The idea is so universally liked that people from outside the church get involved with giving toward the project. Aberdeen Christian Fellowship have planted a church in the town of Portlethen on the outskirts of Aberdeen and all reports are of great success. Cowdenbeath Baptist church ran its first holiday club ever over the summer and it was a great success. Dumfries Baptist Church opening their new building and looking to develop the many ways that they already serve the local community through their building.   Portobello Baptist church partnered with 3 other local churches of different denominations to host 100 plus children for a summer holiday club. These are just a few of the remarkable stories I’ve heard.  I am sure there are many others.  My encouragement to you is that these are not spectacular churches, they are ordinary churches all over our land serving our extraordinary God in ways that bless their neighbourhoods. Be bold for God is on the move in our land.
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  • Amazing Grace
    “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4.6 Settling back into the opportunities and challenges of daily life, after summer? It’s a good time to think about grace. Grace is not ‘stuff’. It’s all about attitude and the words we speak and write, because we have met with grace. God has shown grace to us, in the gift of life through Jesus Christ. We are to show grace to others, because we belong to Jesus. What does that mean? It’s all about attitude. Respect. Thoughtfulness. Kindness. Are we careful, in seeking to be gracious? How do we phrase our words, when we speak to family, friends, colleagues, clients, neighbours or strangers? We can talk about God’s love until we’re blue in the face; but if we don’t display grace, we’re simply betraying Jesus. Grace doesn’t deny truth: it’s just careful how it deals truth out. The words from our lips shouldn’t offend, just because they’re nasty. We belong to the God of grace and compassion, who constantly shows mercy and forgiveness to people. Grace has a currency of kindness. And what we write is just as important. In this era of instantaneous communications whether by email, text or social media it is imperative that we learn to communicate with grace. To pause and consider before replying, to re-read as if receiving to ensure the spirit of grace oozes from the response. Grace should appear online just as much as in our speech. So let’s make this a golden summer, heading into an autumn that is rich in colours of grace. It’s amazing what a difference grace can make. Rev Dr Jim Purves Mission and Ministry Advisor Baptist Union of Scotland
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