Tag Archives: Carnoustie

Indestructible Faith

This has been a crazy week…if there was ever a time when my message impacted my life and my life spoke into my message this is it.

My faith has been severely tested and yet I have been blessed because of the free gift that God has given me. And he offers it to each of us. If you don’t have faith, can I encourage you to listen to this message? It’s just 34 minutes of your life…what harm could it do? God gave me the blessing of Psalm 46 for this time and I share it with you as a gift. For those at Carnoustie Community Church on Sunday thank you for a special day.

So, the fourth message in my series of Characteristics of A Genuine Faith: #4 “Indestructible Faith” from Psalm 46. You can download the mp3 file here.


The Jigsaw of Life

Yesterday we were at Carnoustie Community Church and I did a children’s talk based on the jigsaw we had just finished building at home.  The slides are available here.

I asked the kids “Who likes to do jigsaws? Who knows what this jigsaw is a picture of? How many pieces are there, do you think?” 1000 pieces! We started it in January and thought it would be impossible to finish – all the pieces are the same shape, very few different colours or sharp lines.

“Who knows how to do jigsaws? Where do you start?” – with the corners and edges – have to find the straight lines to make the frame. “Where do we go then?” – the bits that are clear, all the tiger’s face, or all this green bits of leaf, then the ears… “What do you need to help you? Do you just make up the picture as you go?” Of course not, you need the final picture of what it should look like – so you can see what type of colour goes where. One piece at a time, until you have finished it – just finished on Friday, only taken two months! A real team effort from all the family.

It reminded me that life is like a big jigsaw puzzle, we have been designed to enjoy life a certain way and life has been designed to work a certain way – the Maker has made us to fit in a certain part of the big jigsaw. Some of us maybe don’t know where we fit or we don’t like how God has designed us to fit in the big jigsaw – we take our piece and force it to fit somewhere it shouldn’t. “Can you make a jigsaw work like that?” I asked the children, “No” they responded.

In order to help us understand where we fit, God has even given us the final picture to look at – through the life of Jesus and the teachings of the bible, we have the perfect final picture. Only when we look at the picture and follow its instructions can we live as God intended and enjoy real life.

James described it in a similar way in chapter 1 verses 22-25 – as a mirror. It’s no good looking in a mirror and seeing a big piece of tomato ketchup on your cheek and then turning away and forgetting all about it. The mirror shows up the imperfections and prompts us to change, likewise the jigsaw shows us the final picture to help us find life as it was meant to be.

One way this works is in our relationships – God has said that the way the jigsaw fits together is one woman and one man for life. And he also says that we should only marry those who love Jesus like we do. Sometimes this is hard and makes our feelings in conflict with what God says. But it’s always worth it to follow the jigsaw’s design – not in order to be accepted by God, but in order to enjoy his presence and blessing on our life. 

Some of us older ones need to hear that with God failure is not final – even when we put our piece in the wrong place, he is able to forgive, heal and restore. Each day he gives us breath, is a new day to decide to make our piece a part of his final picture. May we know the joy of living in union with God for our lives.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” (NIV) James 1.22-25

Church planting in Carnoustie

Here is a review of the church plant we have been helping out at for the last 6 months. It was written for the Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers Association. Hope you enjoy it and feel free to pay them a visit if you are ever in Carnoustie on a Sunday.

The full article is given below as well:

Until Christ be formed in you

The language we use to speak about a new church being established can be very revealing of the challenges of church growth. When I was weeding my garden last week it struck me that “church planting” is a good way of speaking about starting a new church. Before any planting can be done the ground must be cleared and the weeds removed, there is back-breaking work to be done in digging the hole and then getting the sapling in the right place. It is a hard work and requires our sweat, determination and perseverance. So too with beginning a new fellowship of believers, we know beforehand that we will face struggles and conflict, but until we begin preparing the ground it’s all background reading.
A second powerful image of church growth we see in the New Testament is that of childbirth. Paul repeatedly speaks of experiencing the travails of childbirth in his anxiety for his new converts as they take their first steps in the new Christian faith. As a proud parent, he gets all gooey-eyed over their first faltering steps and awkward words. But he is also quick to correct them where they go wrong. He is a bundle of changing emotions and desires for them – but one thing that underpins it all – the all-consuming desire for Christ to be formed in them and to present them mature before him.
“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” Galatians 4.19
In many ways it is probably more accurate to speak of “church birthing” than planting. For planting gives the impression that once it’s in the ground everything will be taken care of, while the reality is that, just like parenting, the arrival of the new life is just the beginning of the hard work.
For the last 5 months my family and I have been helping with a church plant in Carnoustie. The new church started in Easter this year and is a plant from Central Baptist Church, Dundee – a cutting taken to be planted in fresh ground. Carnoustie Community Church, or The Bridge, as it is more commonly called, began life meeting on Sunday mornings in The Golf Hotel by the beach in Carnoustie. For the first few months this provided a neutral venue for guests and visitors and enabled the CBC team to begin working together on the practicalities of church life. In the summer they then moved to a church building in the centre of Carnoustie where they have recently put up the new sign – “The Bridge, home of Carnoustie Community Church” (http://carnoustiecommunitychurch.wordpress.com/ ). While there have no doubt been many challenges, the abundant provision of God has overruled them all and left a deep impression:

“We thank God for his faithfulness to the work, which has been astounding. He has supplied our needs over and over again, including through the generous, grace-filled provision of the building, the example of people’s faithfulness in their giving and participation in areas they are gifted in and the joy they have expressed at the ministry they have received have all been a real blessing. A lot of the people in the team have risen to the challenges and have served in ways they had previously felt beyond them, in ways they perhaps would not have embraced otherwise. There are green shoots in some areas with a few new people coming in and they appear to be looking to be committed and we give thanks for these and pray about the areas where there is still need in, in the expectation that God will provide in his perfect time. We need to keep praying and to be focused on, and confident in, Christ, concerned about mission, involved in evangelism and to encourage the teaching and growthof the Saints. Look to grow in unity, holiness, humility and hopefully be rewarded by seeing souls saved for the Kingdom.” Jim Leiper

Through it all we are co-workers in the high calling of God in building his church – the life on life, painful, slow, vulnerable work of producing mature disciples of Jesus. Like gardening and childbirth, establishing and nurturing new churches is messy work. We will have to be prepared to get our hands dirty and see our own needs not met, in order to meet those of others. It is this sacrificial leadership that is so needed in our day – and it is this that I have seen lived out in the lives of many in Carnoustie.