Month of Mission ii. God's Indescribable Gift(s)

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: 1 Cor 12:4-11, Phil 2:5-11 & 2 Cor 9:12-15

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Grace by its very nature is a gift which we don’t deserve.  We are saved to serve.  We are saved by grace and we serve by grace.  God is both Creator and Saviour.  Common grace gives us natural gifts.  Saving grace gives us supernatural gifts, albeit with an overlap between the two.  By its very nature a gift is a spontaneous act of generosity and the gifts of the Spirit are no different. 

Some have argued that some of the gifts of the Spirit, especially the more spectacular ones, were confined to the age of the apostles.  One would have to argue along theological and historical grounds to sustain this point of view.  However, we must allow Scripture to speak with its own voice.  When we impose even a well-meaning grid causing the text to conform and confine to our particular perspective, we do a dis-service both to the Scriptures and the people of God.  But there is an equal and opposition reaction whereby the gifts of the Spirit become the central focus of the church and we become preoccupied with them rather than the giver.

Month of Mission i. The Ascended Christ Gifting His Church

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Ephesians 4:7-16

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Letters written from prison are particularly poignant be they Dietrich Bonhoeffer writing to his fiancé shortly before his hanging at the hands of the Nazi’s, Alexander Solzhenitsyn imprisoned writing from the Gulag in Siberia or Bram Fischer, Afrikaner revolutionary serving a life sentence in Pretoria writing to his family not long after the tragic death of his wife Molly.  Perhaps the most moving from a Christian perspective are the prison letters of Paul not least Ephesians written in the early to mid-sixties AD from Rome whilst awaiting death at the hands of Nero. 

Ephesus was the centre of worship of the goddess Artemis (Diana) whose massive temple, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens, straddled the city.  Paul’s three-year ministry at Ephesus in AD 52-55 had impacted the sale of artefacts associated with the worship of Artemis resulting in a riot which caused Paul to leave for Macedonia.

Be still and know that I am God

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses: Psalm 46:10 (NIV) and Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)


Psalm 46:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

 Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

 How many times have you been driving around looking for an address you have never visited and found yourself turning down the radio? I find myself doing this quite often, even with my GPS giving me turn-by-turn directions. Why do we do this? We are not looking for our destination with our ears. Or are we?

 In 2002 I contracted cerebral malaria. I spent some seven nights in hospital. The effect of the malaria and the medication caused my mind to travel to strange places, sometimes I was conscious, and sometimes unconscious, but experiencing hallucinations that were so real that I struggled to recognise reality. I would hear Sue’s footsteps coming down the passage. I knew what her footsteps sounded like. The door would open, she would pull up a chair and start talking. But when I opened my eyes to answer - there was no one in the room.

Repentance and Worship

Preacher: Lincon Hardouin

Verses: Joel 2:12-17


Joel 1:1-3, “The word of the Lord came to Joel, son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” And what was that word? What were they supposed to hear, to listen to? What were they supposed to tell? Well, quite simply, and based on the very first chapter of this prophetic book, a catastrophe, unlike anything that generation had seen, was coming, it was impending doom, absolute destruction that could not be avoided. There was a warning sent from the Lord to His people, telling them that there would be an invasion of locusts, not simply a naturally occurring phenomenon, but rather an invasion sent by the Lord Himself, and once this invasion was over… there would be nothing left except their own grief, their own sorrow… their joy would be exchanged for mourning. This was the Lord’s divine and just punishment for a nation, His very own people, called by His own name, because of their unfaithfulness toward Him and their failure in upholding His Law.

The Parables of Jesus - iv. A Father and Two Sons

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Luke 15:11-32

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Everyone loves a story and Jesus is a master storyteller.  Indeed, the parable of the Prodigal Son is perhaps the greatest story ever told, without parallel in its dramatic effect.  Its vivid storyline and riveting intrigue make it hard to forget as the listener is disarmed and persuaded, caught unawares as the habits of one’s heart are exposed and challenged. 

Jesus captured the imagination in an oral culture where many of his listeners could not read and had to rely on memorization in order to learn, hence the brief storyline: home, sick of home, homesick, home! with dramatic twists and turns in-between.

The Parables of Jesus - iii. The Kingdom of Heaven: Priceless

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Matthew 13:44-52

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The parables of Jesus have rightly been described as Pictures of Revolution.  The message of the Kingdom of God is indeed revolutionary, unlike any human revolution promising Utopia and freedom, only to oppress those who stand in the way.  Jesus was a revolutionary far more radical than those who endeavoured to change society through force.  His method was one of persuasion through parables ticking away like a time bomb with explosive results.  His ‘stories of intent’ were designed to disarm his opponents on the one hand, and reveal the true nature of discipleship and radical repentance on the other.  The parables simultaneously conceal and reveal, exposing the habits of his hearers’ and readers’ hearts.

"Can these Dry Bones Live?"

Preacher: Lincon Hardouin

Verses: Ezekiel 37:1-14


Ezekiel’s message comes to the nation of Israel at a time of great confusion, political complexity and unrest. That is because at this time, Israel had already been taken into exile by the Babylonians and have been there for a significant amount of time. His prophecy was aimed at a people, a community, who were forcibly removed from their home, but more than simply addressing the issues of their physical hardships, those issues that affect their current physical reality, Ezekiel’s prophecy deals with a people, a community, who have broken faith with their God. And of course Ezekiel makes the reason for the exile clear. It is because of the faithlessness of the people towards God and their continued failure to live as God’s renewed humanity. Over and over again Israel has been warned about the coming judgement of God, they have been called to worship Him and no other god, they have been constantly called to repentance and they have not responded nor have they heeded God’s warning to them through the prophets… and now, more or less 5 years into the Babylonian exile, Israel is facing the consequences of their unfaithfulness.

The Parables of Jesus - ii. Seeds, Weeds and Explosive Growth

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Matthew 13:24-43

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Jesus continues to tell three parables about the Kingdom of God: the wheat and the weeds with an explanation to follow, the mustard seed and yeast.  Whether Jesus told these parables in this precise order is a moot point.  Matthew writes to a predominantly Jewish order and he collates his material accordingly to stress the primacy of the Kingdom in Jesus’ teaching. 

The Kingdom cannot be equated with the church, a mistake Augustine made in his interpretation which led to very grave consequences.  The church in the Middle Ages became a coercive agency, relying on power and control.  Constantine, the first ‘Christian’ emperor of the Roman Empire established a state church.  He is reputed to have offered defeated opponents in war a choice, be baptised or be drowned!  Little wonder that the church became a compromised body with nominal allegiance by many.  The Crusades in attempting to impose Christianity by force on Islam had disastrous consequences, compounded by Islam’s equating the gospel with western culture.

The Parables of Jesus - i. How do we hear?

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Matthew 13:1-23

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Jesus was a masterful teacher who captured the imagination of his hearers through the use of parables, described as stories with a sting in the tale, striking home unawares.  Filled with everyday illustrations, the surface meaning hides a sucker punch.  Whilst not unique to Jesus, parables in his hands have coined universal phrases like ‘turning the other cheek’, ‘going the extra mile’ and ‘being a Good Samaritan’ to name but a few.

 Context is vital to the right understanding of a story, not least a parable.  It may well have a disturbing, cutting edge especially if conflict and confrontation is in the air.  In this context Jesus’ enemies accuse him of being in league with Satan, and his immediate family are concerned about his mental state.  So faced with direct opposition on the one hand and familiarity bordering on contempt on the other, Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower.

The Real Transformer

Preacher: Lincon Hardouin

Verses: Jeremiah 24:1-10

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The year was 2007. In my humble opinion, it was the year that one of the greatest movie franchises came to life for me. With the release of the first movie in the franchise, I was so excited to see characters of my childhood cartoon days come to life in a relatable, albeit, a farfetched and highly exaggerated movie. Of course it must be said that the movie I am talking about is somewhat of an action movie but at the same time, it has humour, a bit of romance and a whole lot of nerdy and geeky aspects. The entirety of this particular franchise revolves around the concept of alien robots that come to earth, robots that have the ability to transform from their almost “human-like” states into cars, or trucks, motorbikes, jets and even helicopters. And even then, they are not limited to a particular form, they can change into any mode of transport they so desire. For me of course, if I had that ability, I for one would become a Redbull F1 car, but that’s just personal preference. But as all good action movies should have, there are two factions within this alien race, there are the good guys and there are the bad guys. The age of the transformers was upon us, and after 12 years, 6 movies, countless man-hours of preparation, screenwriting and scripting, hours of recording and re-recording, editing, and of course the watching of some of the most amazing battle scenes and quirky moments, it became clear from the very beginning that the good guys were always going to win.

Who is my neighbour?

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses: Isaiah 6:1-8, Luke 10:25-37 and Matthew 25:35-40


The main point this morning: Your love for God and your love for other people cannot be separated.

Three aspects:

1.    Who is your neighbour?

2.    What does the Bible say?

3.    What is our challenge?


You are the one to show mercy.

“Here am I. Send me!”[1]

When I studied law I learnt of a case about a snail in a bottle of ginger beer. Mr Stevens the manufacturer was sued after a Mrs Donoghue of Paisley who drank the ginger beer became ill. It became known as the “Paisley snail” case.[2] The case was heard in 1932 and decided in favour of Mrs Donoghue by the House of Lords holding that the manufacturer owed a duty of care to her. They held this because they felt that it was reasonably foreseeable, that the failure to ensure the product’s safety could lead to harm to consumers.  

What interested me was the reasoning of Lord Atkin in deciding which group of persons might have a claim.

[1] Isaiah 6: 1-8

[2] Paisley Snail. Paisley was also the site of an incident that gave rise to a major legal precedent. In a Paisley cafe in 1928, a woman allegedly found a dead snail in a bottle of ginger beer, and became ill. She sued the manufacturer for negligence. At the time a manufacturer was considered liable only if there was a contract in place with the harmed party. However, after Donoghue v Stevenson wound through the courts, a precedent was established that manufacturers (and other "neighbours" or fellow citizens) owe a duty not to do foreseeable harm to others by negligence, regardless of contractual obligations, which paved the way for modern tort law. The case is often called the "Paisley snail."

Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love v. Preparing for the Great Day

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 2:17-3:5


Malachi doesn’t pull his punches.  He tells the people of his day, “You have wearied the Lord with your words”.  Their warped concept of justice sees them accuse God of inconsistency at best, deceit at worst.  Because they doubt the love of God, the Israelites resort to keeping up religious appearances, devoid of reality, simply going through the motions.  They place God in the dock and ironically blame him for their present state of despair and futility.  They refuse to accept responsibility and simply desire to save face, not unlike the role players involved in the explosion at Chernobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine in April 1986.  It was the height of the cold war and the Soviets were determined to preserve their perceived scientific superiority over the West.  However, cutting costs and high-handed authority led to the disaster that affected multiple thousands of innocent people.  The recent docu-drama ‘Chernobyl’ depicts a brave Russian nuclear scientist hold the state accountable with his chilling words “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth.  Sooner or later that debt is paid”. 

Breaking the sacred and secular divide

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses: Isaiah 6:1-8 and Romans 12:1-2

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When growing up I had the idea that my life in church, and my life outside of church, were two different worlds.

Going to church with my parents, I realised quickly that it was a time to be neatly dressed and to be on one’s best behaviour. It was a time when people seemed rather serious. It was clearly very special, but different to the everyday life that we lived on the other days of the week. I understood this to some extent. On Sundays we were in church to worship our mighty God. This required proper behaviour. There was after all, plenty of time to relax during the other six days of the week.

Looking back, I perhaps had the idea that it was only on Sundays that we worshiped God, prayed, sang hymns and practised our faith life.

It seemed to be okay to relax during the week and to play around, and do things with my friends that might not be appropriate for Sunday.

The Generation Game

Preacher: Lincon Hardouin

Verses: Psalm 119:89-96

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This is such an incredible Psalm to read. It is of course the longest of all the Psalms, described as “a devotional on the Word of God.” It is so gripping and so beautiful seeing how this Psalm highlights and should causes us to think about 4 things: the word of God should become the word of life, humbly acknowledging the sinful ways of hearts, to know the pain as well as the fruits of God’s corrective discipline, and that there will be suffering at the hands of those who disregard the word of God. And what we will look at this morning is but a small portion of this amazing devotional.

Pentecost Sunday - The Holy Spirit for Today

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Acts 2:1-13


“Wherever one looks in the church today, there is an evident need for a deeper work of the Holy Spirit.”  Those prophetic words written some forty years ago by John Stott are even more pressing today.  The church in the West is tolerated but hardly embraced by a society which is pluralist and permissive.  The church in the majority world is growing rapidly but, more often than not, it is marred by shallow teaching and factions not to mention the cult of personality and the so-called ‘health and wealth’ gospel which by-passes the cross and flatters only to deceive.

Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love iii. Mouthpiece for God

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 2:1-9


“The eye is the window of the soul” is a familiar saying.  However, Malachi addressing the priests of his day argues that the mouth is the window of the soul.  Jesus echoes this sentiment, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matt 12:34).  Malachi took the priests to task for failing to fulfil their primary calling, viz. faithful teaching of God’s Word. 

 The novelist John Updike, no friend of the gospel, in his novel Run Rabbit describes a young minister Rev Eccles, “With his white collar he forges God’s name in every sentence he speaks...  He steals belief from the children he is supposed to be teaching.  He commits fraud with every schooled cadence of the liturgy.”  John Updike may well have taken his words straight from Malachi 2400 years ago.  Malachi sounds strident and harsh to our modern ears.  We prefer a kinder, gentler faith.  But extreme times require extreme measures.  The priests looked the part.  They wore the right vestments.  They recited prayers.  But they were lifeless.  Platitudes devoid of passion.  They bent the truth and corrupted their ministry.

Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love ii. A Call to be Real

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 1:6-14


Malachi holds the priests responsible for the spiritual malaise of Israel.  Well might he add, in a contemporary context ‘as the pulpit, so the pew’.  Three means of revelation saw the priests responsible for Worship, the prophet for the Word from God, and the sage for Wisdom.  Worship, Word and Wisdom maintained the religious ethos of Israel, and all three areas, particularly worship were in a parlous state with devastating consequences for the nation as a whole.

 Integral to Israel’s worship was the sacrificial system both mandatory (the sin and trespass offering) and voluntary (the grain, drink and peace offering).  The sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed forward to the perfect and final sacrifice of Christ.  As such they had to be unblemished and perfect.  However, the priests colluded with the people in presenting second-rate sacrifices, an insult to God which defiled worship.

Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love i. A Call to Respond to God's Love

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 1:1-5

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Cynicism is devastating.  The default mode of despair and disillusioned people, it robs one of enthusiasm, commitment and energy.  This was the situation confronting Malachi.  Circumstances, opposition and adversity had all but destroyed Israel’s assurance of God’s presence and provision.  Their homeland had been devastated by the Babylonian invasion, the temple destroyed and most of the population had been exiled.  And now through Persian intervention, the people were beginning to return.  The temple had been rebuilt under Haggai but the city walls remained a ruin.  Even more galling, their neighbour Edom, descendants of Esau, had escaped unscathed.  They had prospered whilst Israel suffered.  The fact that Esau had cheated Jacob of their father Isaac’s blessing added insult to injury.

Risen Indeed!

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Luke 24:1-12

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In the days before television, a radio programme ‘Consider Your Verdict’ fascinated me.  The listener was required to evaluate evidence presented and whether one’s verdict coincided with that of the court.  It made for entertaining ‘theatre of the mind’.  The evidence for the resurrection transcends the realm of entertainment.  It demands a verdict.  “The message of Easter is either the supreme fact in history or else a gigantic hoax” argues Prof J.N.D Anderson.  It is literally a matter of life and death not just a comforting story.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God.” (1 Cor 15:14,15)