All posts by Martyn Link

What are we waiting for?

A poem I wrote for my parents-in-law’s Golden Wedding Anniversary:

I wonder what I will think about this day

When the years have flown and I’m old & grey

One day to join our names, a lifetime to join our hearts

How will it turn out for me & you when the party parts?

So, what are we waiting for?

Tie the knot and say the vow

What are we waiting for?

All our lives ahead of us now

~

Exciting times of love & fun, every day a treat

Our relationship growing, the summer so sweet

“Till death us do part” I remember I said

“it doesn’t sound too hard” I said in my head

So, what are we waiting for?

It’s time to start a family

What are we waiting for?

We will live forever happily

~

5 years, 10 and 15 pass by as we travel together

Both of us silently sensing the change in the weather

Kids in our arms and dreams at our feet

It’s getting hard to walk to the same beat

So, what are we waiting for?

Wondering what it is we have become

What are we waiting for?

Will we survive when all’s said and done

~

The middle years seem to stretch on and on

Babies grow quick, lines grow long

Learning each day to love her more

Unconditional love grows deep & secure

So, what are we waiting for?

The Millar clan grows long and lean

What are we waiting for?

My love for you is still strong and keen

~

I see it now, marriage is the tool you use

On the soil of our hearts, in the way you choose

That I might be more like your beloved son

And love her, whose heart you have won

So, what are we waiting for?

Jesus I surrender to your plan for me

What are you waiting for?

That we both might be all you want us to be

~

They say no marriage in heaven is the rule

Like the Angels we’ll be super fast & cool

Marriage is a picture to show the earth

Your love for your church, her true worth

So what are we waiting for?

Lord, take this feeble heart and love grown cold

What are we waiting for?

Reshape it in your hands to pure gold

~

30, 40 and 50 years go by in a flash

Kids all grown, grandkids collecting cash

Just the two of us now, time together at last

Now here in a wedding celebration, honouring the past

So what am I waiting for?

Waiting for the moment to show my love is true

What am I waiting for?

Take my hand Josephine, I’m waiting for you

The path of humiliation

The way of humiliation

No human affirmation needed

No human discouragement nurtured

Listen to one voice only

Welcoming being overlooked

Serve with joy

Innocence with motives

Honour Gods anointed representatives

Divine motives – for his own purposes

Human motives – the unfair treatment

Do what you are able to do

Greater sanctification is my aim, not greater usefulness

If you will follow my direction I will ensure you are encouraged. Do it for me.

The bread is first – to show brokenness

The wine comes second – to bring healing

All I can see is my failure. God is greater than my failure

Am I prepared for the testing that trains me to run with horses?

He has lifted me from the ash heap

Teach me to hear the voice of Jesus in the mess of the church

Fingers numb

A poem for my friend on her 40th birthday:

The fingers numb, mind distracted again

I play my tune, soulful and smooth,

Another day seeking the riff line of life

Seeking a truth to follow, a home to tend together

Slowly marking my path, slowly repeating these words

40 years wandering this wilderness dream

Following the logos from Lagos, the Dean of Aberdeen

He holds me close no one In between

~

I catch the beat as the verse kicks in, familiar patterns, sounds of home

In my rhythm, finding my feet, the city streets

Echoes and shouts, hearing the tune of life downtown, my town

I am home, friends surround as I hear the call within

A different beat, a deeper heat, calls my wandering feet

A whisper in my walk, to leave these shores, go up north

To the cold, to the dark, to the unknown, to follow the voice

As he says, You have been remembered, i say Grace, Grace my child

40 years wandering this wilderness dream

Following the logos from Lagos, the Dean of Aberdeen

He holds me close, no one In between

~

Repetition brings familiarity, this well worn wood (Plc)

Fingers build strength, routine and rhythm returning

Finding my feet, following the call, learning my trade

On this granite rock I build my house, with this man, these boys

Spirit guide my hands, loosen my fingers, I play for love

Years wash over, seasons set the times, releasing songs of praise

I have found peace, mercy surrounds me now

Feeling the moment, this fleeting moment I forget to be distracted

Hearing one tune, following by heart, fingers a blur

I play by instinct, responding to the flow, no hesitation now

Hands his instrument, soul aflame, I’ve found my place

Mature and complete, confident, yes confident in his hands

No longer able to hold it in, I strike the chorus and cry out

I have been remembered, God says Grace, Grace my child

40 years wandering this wilderness dream

Following the logos from Lagos, the Dean of Aberdeen

He holds me close, no one In between

~

On this granite rock I take my stand, hand in hand

My Charles – here to weave his words of wisdom

My boys – my miracles of mercy

My home – to live within at peace

My work – to play to a different tune

My church – to grow in grace

My Jesus to lead the way

Jesus lead the way

One more day

Following the logos from Lagos, the Dean of Aberdeen

He holds me close, no one In between

He is my king, and I his queen

Putting R&D into your character

Feeling very tired after a busy day at work participating in a conference in London and lots of calls. But also feeling excited about the opportunity to speak at the Tayside Christian Fellowship final service before Christmas on Simeon’s song from Luke 2, you’re welcome to come along if you’re in Perth on 19th December.

Was such a privilege to be at Cupar Baptist Church last week, speaking on The Good Samaritan and Mary & Martha, please pray for this fellowship especially. Then off to Kelso Evangelical Church on 9th January speaking about the “fiery tongue” from James 3!!

Just finished listening to the Christianity Today podcast series on Mars Hill – what a story! So sad, but also moments of real, incredible beauty.

These bible verses and podcasts are all driving home to me deeper the need to be “righteous & devout” as Simeon is described…not having a mask, or being someone different “on stage”…not turning a blind eye to pain and hurt, but also not just skipping to the end to “put a bow on it”…but taking time to listen to the stories, feeling the emotion of broken lives, feeling burdened for the pale reflection we often exhibit of true beauty…the secret to it all, as I heard again tonight from Martin Luther is to realise “all of life is repentance“ (or should be!). Thankful there are many people in my life who can truthfully be described as “r&d”!

Thrive Perth

Thrive Scotland is a coalition of likeminded individuals from the workplace and faith based organisations united around a common vision of restoring the confidence of the scattered church in Scotland.

Thrive has formed a partnership with Blend coffee lounges to create a space to nurture connections across the city for anyone and everyone in the workplace. It is intentionally cross-sector, city-wide & non-denominational.

We want to create a city-wide network across Scotland of connected, affirmed and empowered individuals of faith to catch a vision to transform their own spiritual walk, their workplace, & ultimately their city.

We have seen God bless this vision in Aberdeen through 8 years of investing in individuals across the city through breakfasts, small group studies, conferences & prayer. We believe the time is right to grow this work across Scotland and launched Thrive Dundee in August 2021. Our hope is to kick off similar initiatives in Perth & Paisley in 2022.

You are invited to a gathering in Perth Blend on Tuesday 16th November at 8.00am. Come along and find out more!

Blessings,

Martyn Link, Jim Grimmer, Barry McAllister

(Trustees of The Business Connection & organisers of Thrive)

Together with the Thrive Advisory Board:

Ken Janke – Global Advance

Tony Hodges – City Vision

Ruth Walker – LICC

Kieran Turner – Evangelical uAlliance

Colin Stewart – Citigroup

Ros Turner – Transforming Work UK

Sarah Hunter – GSK

The start of something…

Dear friends, just wanted to thank you for praying for the first Thrive Dundee breakfast this morning – it was a really lovely early morning meeting. There were 5 of us and it was great to hear folks sharing their covid stories…of being isolated in lockdown, coping with kids with learning difficulties, being overwhelmed with changing legislation & tax guidance, working in essential services…and many other topics.

A couple came through from Perth and are very keen on the Perth Thrive idea. One even came from Gleneagles.

My favourite quote…when talking about the exhaustion of being “Zoomed Out”…she exclaimed “That’s why I’m here!!”

A few people sent their apologies, so might have some new faces in two weeks! Please bear us up before the Father…
“For where two or three are gathered…”

A call to community

I write this as I head into the office for the first time in a long time…I’m even wearing my suit again! If we have learnt one thing during the last 18 months of being forced to keep our distance it is that we need human contact!

We have also learnt that while remote working can be functional it is not ultimately nourishing. Social interaction is richer, deeper & more enjoyable face to face. Isn’t it better for our minds, hearts and souls to share a physical space and to sit round a real table with another person than over a screen?

So, as we are now able to gather again Thrive Scotland and The Business Connection trustees would like to invite you to a social gathering for anyone in the workplace on alternate Friday mornings in Blend Dundee from 7.30 – 9.00am, starting this Friday (20th August).

Come along and share your lockdown stories, meet someone new and enjoy great coffee in a chilled setting. Come when you can, go when you must…we’ll have the place to ourselves so plenty of room! If you’re in the workplace you’re welcome.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thrive-dundee-workplace-oasis-tickets-167168055153?ref=eios

Day of days

All of us at one time or another have raged at the injustice in the world. Indeed, social inequality is one of the most pressing issues of our day. We see power imbalances everywhere, corporate greed ruining the planet, governments suppressing their citizens – and our hearts break.

Into this strife Augustine writes. He takes these challenges head on as he addresses the final judgment of the world in Book 20 of the City of God. The last judgment is the day when life as we know it will stop and the veil that has kept us from perceiving the presence and reality of God will be forever ripped in two. We will face our maker, our master, our martyr – but this time the lamb will become a lion and every single person who has ever lived will give account for their life.

While in this life the relative benefit of those who seek to be godly is obscure:

It will then be made clear that true and complete happiness belongs to all the good, and only to them, while all the wicked, are destined for deserved and supreme unhappiness.

XX.1

Unfortunately how this will all work out is not clear to us, or possible for us to discover. Why God sometimes visits judgements on people who deserve it, and sometimes they seem to get away with it. Why those who seek to love God are often buffeted by the winds of adversity, and others who love only themselves are left alone – only God knows the reasons for these things. The important thing is that at the last judgment:

It will become plain that God’s judgements are perfectly just, not only all the judgements that will then be passed, but also all the judgements passed from the beginning, and all which are to be pronounced hereafter until the day of judgment.

XX.1

The duty of the believer is not to watch the wind, seeking to discern the whys and wherefores of individual circumstances and connecting them back to individual behaviour. No our duty is to trust in the loving kindness of our Heavenly Father, for:

At that day, it will become evident by what just decision of God it comes about that at this present time so many, in fact almost all, of the just judgements of God are hidden from mortal perception and understanding. However, in this matter one thing is not hidden from the faith of the devout; and that is, that what is hidden is just.

XX.1

Are we waiting patiently? Are we trusting implicitly? We who cannot predict with any certainty the path of a single starling as it swoops in the evening sky, let alone the dizzying murmuration of several hundred can certainly not predict the hidden course of perfect justice in the hand of the loving God in the life of one person.

Our response should be to ensure we are sowing seeds of righteousness that will bear a rich fruit on that final day, building our lives with solid gold and precious gems, plucking up the weeds and cleaning out the barn. The rest we humbly leave to the maker, master, martyr God.

This happy life is social

What is the greatest goal in life? Do we believe there is purpose in our existence and a reason we are here? Perhaps a more pressing question is…do we think it is ever possible to discover the answers to these questions with any sort of confidence?

I would suggest that for most people today the question of Purpose still echos through our silent musings, but we have long since given up the expectation of actually finding out some sort of objective answer. We are drifting along amidst a sea of uncertainty with no rudder or sail.

This is the value of going back so far into history – for Augustine these questions were the most pressing of his day and the Search for Truth was something every serious philosopher embarked on with all their might. In Book 19 Augustine articulates this task as:

These two ends, then, are the Supreme Good and the Supreme Evil. The search to discover these, and the quest for attainment of the Supreme Good in this life and the avoidance of the Supreme Evil has been the object of the labours of those who have made the pursuit of wisdom their profession.

XIX.1

Augustine then dives into what constitutes a blessed life and the attainment of happiness. He references Marcus Varro who sought to classify the possible gradation of lifestyle (eg the life of leisure, activity, or a combination of both; the pursuit of pleasure, repose, the combination of both etc) and comes up with 288 possibilities!! Spot the analyst!

Augustine then proceeds to explore the concepts of the purpose of virtue; the role of friendship and our striving for peace. One of the central themes of this section is the formation of a peaceful and healthy society.

The peace of the Heavenly City is a perfectly ordered and perfectly harmonious fellowship in the enjoyment of God, and a mutual fellowship in God; the peace of the whole universe is the tranquility of order – and order is the arrangement of things equal and unequal in a pattern which assigns to each its proper position.

XIX.13

If that is where the City of God is heading, what will become of the City of Men? Augustine undertakes a fascinating exploration of the various definitions of what it means to be a “people”. According to one definition “a people is the association of a multitude of rational beings united by a common agreement on the objects of their love”.

He goes on to say “the better the objects of this agreement, the better the people: the worse the objects of this love, the worse the people” (XIX.24). This is a profound point worth reflecting on – what is the object of the love of 21st century western society?

Undeniably it is self-love – our personal self-esteem, self-worth and self-expression. We are loving ourselves to death! We have created narcissistic navel gazing societies who are superficially united in the self-love. This is only a downward trajectory, the more we worship the created rather than the Creator the more the City of Earth will war against itself spiralling into endless splintered factions. Only by changing the focus of our gaze can we wake up from our personal delusion to find ourselves part of a people where:

God, the one supreme, rules an obedient City according to his grace, forbidding sacrifice to any being save himself alone; and where in consequence the soul rules the body in all men who belong to this City and obey God, and the reason faithfully rules the vices in a lawful system of subordination; so that just as the individual righteous man lives in the basis of faith which is active in love, so the association, or people, of righteous men lives on the same basis of faith, active in love, the love with which a man loves God as God ought to be loved, and loves his neighbour as himself.

XIX.23

A brief history of civilisation

As we near the end of the City of God something of its epic ambition is really starting to hit me. It is a phenomenal book, charting history, philosophy, Greek gods, the rise and fall of Rome, the repeated conquering of the known world.

As we near the end (Book 18 of 22), you expect the pace to slacken off, easing into the final straight. Instead the 80 pages of Book 18 are encyclopaedically expansive. We are treated to a view from Augustine, probably writing in 426AD, of the entire history of human society since the founding of cities to his present day. The reigns of rulers and kings are recorded from Augustine’s extensive records and compared with the equivalent sequence of events in the history of Israel.

Rather than recount all that here, I want to focus on two key themes that emerge and have striking relevance for today. Firstly, our intrinsic desire to deify ourselves, and secondly the purposeful intermingling of the heavenly and earthly cities. These two themes shed light on the difference between the two cities.

In charting the origins of many of the so called Greek Gods Augustine shows how people elevate others who achieve some spectacular feat, incredible military victory of undertake some form of quest. He notes that “ceremonies in honour of false gods were established by the king of Greece” during the time of Joshua.

The recurring theme is that people want to be more than human. Whether it is an origin story like Romulus & Remus being raised by a she-wolf, or a mythical tale of “Gorgon with serpent locks and turned to stone those who looked upon her” there is the repeated desire to ascend from this mortal body and live forever among the gods. Often on pain of death societies would reinforce the divine nature of these ascended super-humans as they wrote plays and invented ceremonies to celebrate and replay the legends to rapt audiences.

It got me thinking how we still have this desire to ascend. It is perhaps expressed differently today but the impulse is still strong. Just today there was a football match where a successful player was retiring and the eulogies had religious undertones – how this legend would never be forgotten by the fans, effectively living forever, immortal in their collective consciousness.

Similarly hosts of actors are effectively immortalised through the silver screen by their work to live on beyond their years as downloadable content for fans not yet born. We cannot escape the human attraction of becoming like God, even after all these centuries since that false promise was made in the Garden of Eden. Then, as now, it is an empty aim, disappearing as quickly as grasping the morning mist. We just can’t lift ourselves up to become more like God.

By contrast the City of God is all about a people who are not being lifted up to possess unnatural abilities, but are being pressed down to experience pain and suffering as they go about their very human pilgrimage to heaven. This is our second theme. The intermingling of the two cities leads to the church suffering from outward attack:

In this wicked world, and in these evil times, the Church through her present humiliation is preparing for future exaltation. She is being trained by the stings of fear, the tortures of sorrow, the distress of hardship, and the dangers of temptation; and she rejoices only in expectation, when her joy is wholesome.

XIII.49

And inward division from false teachers:

There are those in the Church of Christ who have a taste for some unhealthy and perverse notion, and who if reproved – in the hope that they may acquire a taste for what is wholesome and right – obstinately resist and refuse…they become heretics and, when they part company with the Church, they are classed among the enemies who provide discipline for her.

XIII.51

This is profound teaching, and as someone who grieves for the state of the visible church in the west, I am greatly encouraged to read:

The dearer this name (Christian) is to those who want to live a devout life in Christ, the more they grieve that evildoers within the Church make that name less beloved than the hearts of the devout long for it to be.

XIII.51

It is ok to grieve for the state of the church – Augustine sees this as part of our persecution in this world – and have our hearts broken by the sinfulness within the church. Reading this book, I realise there would probably be something wrong with us if we didn’t care about the purity and health of the church. The key is to balance this with the the comfort of God and to draw deeply from the wells of salvation so that we can say with the psalmist “you’re consolations have gladdened my soul” Psalm 94.19. This will ensure our sufferings are redeemed for our good.