Hope, On Even The Darkest Of Days (Psalm 88)


The sun rises behind the dark cloud, you’ve been waiting all night just to watch the dawn; hoping it will somehow lighten your hopelessness.

You feel like you cannot cry anymore, no-one cares, no-one listens, no-one understands.

Worries, questions, depression, doubts, and anxiety weigh in on you.

And, after a night of pain, searching, and sobbing prayers, you feel as if even heaven has shut it’s doors to you; your feeble words not even passing past the walls.

My friend, can you relate to this, do you know this place?
Perhaps you find yourself here even as you read this. If this is you, keep reading, you are not alone.

First, take a few minutes and read Psalm 88

This Psalm has often been dubbed as being the ‘darkest passage of Scripture’, and you can immediately see why. The writer jumps straight into the reality of their situation:

O Lord, God of my salvation, 
I cry out day and night before you. 
Let my prayer come before you; 
incline your ear to my cry! 
For my soul is full of troubles, 
and my life draws near to Sheol”

There’s no doubt they are in a bad place, so bad in fact that they feel as if they are close to death itself:

“[I am] like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, 
like those whom you remember no more
for they are cut off from your hand”

Not only close to death, but as if God has cut them off from himself, as if they have been left completely on their own.
And rather than turn the corner, rather than the Psalmist being relieved from his pain and misery, it appears to only deepen, I think verses 6-7 really summarise the situation:

You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. 
Your wrath lies heavy upon me, 
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah”

As you read to the end of the Psalm, you will see that his situation does not improve, in fact his complaints grow and it only seems to get worse and worse.
So the question has to be asked, where is the hope in this Psalm?!

Let me offer 3 glimmers of hope from the Psalm:

  1. Honesty
    This Psalm plainly reminds us that believers will, and do, face times of great pain, sadness, and trial.
    We live in a sin-broken world, a world that has been marred with evil. And that will be felt in the life of the Christian, just as much as in that of the non-believer.
    The only difference is that the Christian is held secure by the eternal promise keeping creator of the universe – that’s not to say we will always ‘feel’ this, but it is a reality nonetheless.
    I know of a believer that has suffered deep depression for ~10 years, they said that this Psalm and it’s honesty was a great help to them, in the midst of the darkness it helped them put words to what they were going through.
  2. Sovereignty
    On first reading it does sound as if he is blaming God for all that is happening to him, ‘You have caused..’,’You have put..’ etc. (See also Psalm 42)
    Rather than blame, this appears to be recognition of the sovereignty of God.
    He is King, He rules and, He reigns. And He is allowing these things to take place in the life of the man, now this might sound like a strange comfort, but we have to ask ourselves what’s the alternative?
    Well, a God that is not in control, that is not Sovereign, that can do nothing about a situation, not a God worthy of any worship
    Instead we see in this Psalm, as we do throughout all of Scripture our God reigns supreme. And all is done according to His perfect will and plan, which ultimately will lead to His name being glorified and for the eventual good of his beloved people (Romans 8).
  3. Prayer
    As we read this Psalm, we are reading a real prayer of a real person, who really suffered and felt what they then wrote down.
    Even though the Psalmist declares God had ‘hidden his face’ from him. He still carries on the rest of the Psalm, he still offers his prayer up to God.
    Because Jesus is our intercessor, because He alone carries our prayers to the Father, because He himself continually offers up prayers on our behalf, we can have the confidence to carry on praying – even in the midst of darkness.  (Hebrews 7:25)
    Knowing, not only, that our prayers are heard, but also that our Saviour knows exactly and intimately the pain and trial we are facing:“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16
    “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
    For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” – Hebrews 2:7-18

This is not a sermon, not a complete look at the Psalm, but just a few thoughts for any echoing similar thoughts as expressed in the Psalm.
Don’t suffer alone, read the Word,pray, pray, and keep praying.
I’d also encourage you to share your struggles with a brother/sister, ask them to pray with you and for you.

Before Light

Before the first race was run,
Before you spoke into existence galaxies, and a million suns
Before the first battle was ever fought and won
You Knew me.

Before the first darkening of night,
Before the universe blazed into light,
Before mortal man ever realised his plight
You knew me

Before the first babe cried,
Before the first man tried,
Before that man sinned and died,
You knew me

Before I ever knew your name
Before I ever understood your pain
Before my sin appeared like a crimson stain
You knew me.


4 Quick Tips for Christians on Social Media


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A terribly uninteresting look at some of my Twitter likes: Good Art, Cheesy Jokes, and Quotes that I will use and forget who said them first…

As if a growing bald spot along with greying hair wasn’t a bad enough combo, some recent convos with ‘young folk’ (I cringed writing that), has left no doubt in my increasingly shiny head; at the grand old age of 23, I am now in fact old.
So allow me in my old age to reflect on Social Media.

One thing that is clear is that social media will only continue to grow in its reach, effect, and in its uses. So, what should we (in particular younger Christians) be thinking about when we post and share online?

BeFoRe yOu aLL StArt ShoUTiNG At mE – this whole post, as most of them are, was written to myself, 4 things I have to often remind myself about.

1. This is your Mission Field
Our online presence is part of our sphere of influence, it’s part of our mission-field, just as much as our jobs, school, uni, and our homes should be. This first point will influence all the rest of our thinking. Even in the world of selfies, videos, tweets, and updates – we are still called to set apart and Holy, still called to be careful and vigilant servants of Jesus. How we present our selves on SM, how we interact with people on these sites,
these things matter to the sharing and spread of the Gospel.

2. Relax but be Ready

SM is used as the place to relax, I doubt there are many of us that have not in the past week watched all a few shows of our fave Netflix series, or caught up on the latest videos of cats/dogs/fails/ etc.
There is nothing wrong with taking time to relax and rest, and to do so on SM is fine, but we must be ready. In nearly 11 years of being a Christian the lesson I keep having to re-learn is the fact it is when I’m most relaxed that the enemy will attack.
Even when relaxing, we must remember that we are in the midst of a very real warfare, one in which we are active participants.

3. Be Careful What You Show / Like/ Share
It can be all too easy to dissociate the online world with the real, and in doing so we may perhaps sometimes be less than careful in what we are showing the watching world.
I have a face and body that I don’t want to see, never mind anyone else – but we have to be mindful that what we are showing of ourselves (including in a physical way) does not harm or effect our witness, are we doing this out of pure pride, or for other similar reasons?
Sometimes it’s not even as obvious as sharing that revealing selfie, we also have to be careful what we ‘like’ and share.
I’ve done it myself so often, I’ll like that friend’s photo – one where they are living and showing of a lifestyle that is in direct rebellion to their creator, is my like then showing support to their lifestyle?
One recent example is a Christian going out with  a non Christian, I automatically liked the photos of my friend, but then later thought I don’t ‘like’ this, it goes against what the Scripture so clearly states.
Enjoy SM, but as in real life, be careful that what you share and show does no harm to your Gospel witness.

4. Be Yourself!
For long enough all I liked and shared were sermon links, Bible quotes etc.
Now, do not get me wrong – I would never discourage that in any way, our pages and profiles should clearly reflect where we stand in relation to God.
But for me personally, I was showing myself in a way that I’m not in real life. My Saviour encompasses all of my life, but He has also granted me to have many other interests and opportunities, as He does all of his children; Christians are not one sided, our faith should influence and encourage us in all the areas of out life.
I was helping out at a camp once, one the other leaders let me know that they were glad I was nothing like the “dour and eternally serious” person I appeared to be online, during their pre-camp ‘research’.
Don’t be afraid in showing your interests and your talents – write the blogs, share the art and the poems, but as always – do so in a way that magnifies and glorifies your God and Saviour.

It does require extra work, it requires thinking through constantly what we are seeing, liking , sharing and showing. But if we are to be faithful servants its vital that we do so.

Although this is  possibly the least definitive list ever complied, hopefully it’ll help us to think these things through, as we seek to live out our lives as servants and as Salt and Light, in an increasingly dark world, both here and in the world online.
Some good resources from actual writers:
– one-voice-on-christian-social-media
– a-social-media-heart-check
– six-ways-your-phone-is-changing-you

The Unstoppable Gospel!

Whilst flying out from Edinburgh earlier today, as the morning sun gently illuminated small towns and villages below, I found myself despairing.

As I looked down on these tilt-shifted, miniature streets and houses, the question entered my mind – just how many of those people were waking up today in the knowledge and fellowship of their God and Saviour?

How many had rejected Him?

How many had never even heard the Gospel?

All of a sudden I felt very small as I was forcibly reminded of the vastness of the task, of our mission to share the live giving Gospel in this our beautiful country.

My worry and thoughts were self-centred and self reliant, the task is incredible, and the opposition and darkness does grow day by day. The first verse of Psalm 97 came to my mind:
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
    let the distant shores rejoice.

Our sovereign, ever reigning, never failing God has called us to follow and to serve, and He alone will give us the means and opportunities to share the Gospel, all for His Glory.

In Church History classes we looked at the early church, a small assortment of believers, no visible attributes, by all human reckoning they should have gotten nowhere with their ‘new religion’, some words from Plinius Caecilius the Roman governor of Bithynia, as he faced a new problem:

Meantime this is the course I have taken with those who are accused before me as Christians. I asked them at their own lips whether they were Christians, and if they confessed, I asked them a second and third time with threats of punishment. If they kept to it, I ordered them for execution.

The matter seemed to me worth deliberation especially on account of the number of those in danger; for many of all ages and every rank, and even of both sexes are brought into present or future danger.

The contagion of that superstition has penetrated not the cities only, but the villages and country: yet it seems possible to stop it and set it right.

He, evidently, did not manage to contain and stop the ‘contagion’!

Here we are, 2000 years and many more miles away, and the Gospel has not, and will never be stopped.
The task is indeed massive and our calling to serve is serious, but the power of the Word of God remains the same.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
–  Romans 1:16


Edinburgh Theological Seminary – What Really Goes on Inside?


Walk past the imposing Scott Monument, along the side of the National Gallery, then up the several stone flights of the Playfair steps – you are met with a building that is viewed by many as some sort of a mysterious (and ever-so-slightly sacred) place. Where young men go in, and out come ministers, suited and booted – ready to go.
Edinburgh Theological Seminary, no doubt, is imposing – it just seems to grow greyly out of the ground.

So what is this mysterious place really like?

I’ll happily admit the first time I walked up to this door I little real idea what I was going to face – possibly a line of men in dark suits, staring unblinkingly as they assess my theological weak points? Or maybe even a 50 page questionnaire as to my defence on infant baptism?

What I actually found as I walked in was a room full of smiling faces, a mix of current students welcoming us and new students just as nervous as myself.

The @freechurchscot offices have been located in the heart of #edinburgh since the 1850's. The building also houses the Edinburgh Theological Seminary, a bookshop and cafe which is open to the public . Built in 1727 by James Brownhill, he named it 'James Court' after himself . On 15th August 1857, the western half of the building was gutted by fire and almost a hundred people were made homeless. There was no loss of life, and it is recorded that there were many heroic acts of rescue . In early 1858, a prominent Free Churchman, Mr John Maitland, realising the importance of the site, bought the building and decided to rebuild the western portion. It was ready for occupation in 1862 . #fcos #themoundedinburgh #ets #bookshop #offices #denomination #instafollow #followme #follow

A post shared by Free Church Of Scotland (@freechurchscot) on

In no particular order, here’s what I’ve seen in my first few weeks of ETS, bearing in mind that it’s still very much early days:

One thing you immediately realise is that the college is made up of a diverse group of students (and indeed lecturers). There are several nations, colours, languages and cultures to be found in the building.
When you look to the history of the Free Church, you will quickly see that diversity (as long as it has no impact on the message or spread of the  Gospel) is accepted and in some cases promoted. This diversity has allowed the college to help train and send out different people back to their own nations – ready to share a solid and firm biblical faith.
This diversity can be seen wonderfully in the fact that in my small class there are at least 2 guys planning (Gw.) to become Reformed Baptist ministers.
We have our differences, but the reality is – time is short, Scotland grows ever darker, and we need to work together for the Gospel.
That’s not to say there’s not a good amount of banter between us. I’d show you the group chats – but perhaps it’s safer not to…

Banter & Fellowship
That brings me on the next point, and I say this with utmost respect – there is fun in the college *cue collective gasp & hushed whispers*.
It’s true, I have not yet seen a day where there has not been some a joke shared or comment made that has not resulted in one of the lectures breaking into, at least, a smile.  In the dining room (more on that later) at break and lunch there is often plenty of banter and laughter. This is not the result of a laid-back attitude to the work or even to the massive reality of our calling, instead this flows from the fact that we are all family together. Just as we work together, and wrestle with all the many difficulties, we also join together to have a laugh – almost always at our own expense. We grow together.


Prayer & Worship
Every class is bookended in prayer, all that is taught – all that we attempt to learn and put into practice, has been wrapped in prayer. It’s a simple thing, but it is also a wonderful thing. It brings to mind that we are not training to be dry academics, we are training to work for the glory of God and to be useful servants in his service. The class prayers also help to ease the pressure and stress of the work. In a class where you’re tackling ‘Masculine, 3rd declension, Greek Nouns’ you are really thankful for the reminder that we are to work hard, but to ultimately place our worries onto our Saviour.
We sing a few verses together from a Psalm after our morning break, and then after lunch we gather together for a time of student-led worship. Again, just cementing the fact that we are here to serve the God that saved us, all glory must ultimately go to Him.

Nothing else quite soothes the mind like butter melting on a warm scone (or bacon roll on Fridays). Our 10.50 scone & coffee break along with sharing lunch together after classes offers even more time to fellowship and to get to know each other as fellow servants.


 The work is hard, it’s rigorous, it covers ground at a seemingly breakneck pace. But not one day has passed without the reminder that we are all one family, both lecturers and students, we are all there to seek to do the will of God. Seeking to serve him, seeking to see Him glorified in all that is done.


The Gospel and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Intro)



As Christians we are burdened and tasked with the great privilege & duty of sharing the life-giving Gospel. We have to share it wherever God places us, and with whoever God puts in our path.
It perhaps used to be the case that the Christians on the Island wouldn’t normally come into contact with people of other beliefs until they left the Island for education or for work.
The reality now is that walking around Stornoway you can now come into contact with at least five other major religious beliefs.

If we are to engage with those from other faiths, and share the Gospel with them, it makes sense for us to understand how they understand God/ salvation/ sin/ mankind etc.
Otherwise we will find ourselves talking past each other and not really getting anywhere!
We might begin talking to someone about salvation through Jesus alone, we might agree with each others main points, only then to find out that they think Jesus is not the eternal Son of God, rather he is a mere created being – produced by God the father and one of his many celestial wives (as is generally believed by the LDS Church (the Mormons).
We have to do the hard work, we have to prepare and study hard – most JW missionaries (the ones knocking on your door) pour hours of study each week into how to share their gospel with you.

There are a few warnings to take note of before we continue:

– I would not advise or suggest that new Christians or Christians who are going through a hard time in their walk should engage in this type of study. It is essential to have a good grasp of what you believe, before you begin to engage. You are dealing with something that is truly dangerous and that requires the full armour of God. It is never purely academic, this is real spiritual warfare.

– Before you begin any form of study into other religions, start by reading Scripture,  worship, and prayer. Pray that God would keep you safe from what you are about to study. You might accuse me of being far too cautious or dramatic, but we have to be mindful that when we are dealing with false beliefs and sects we are dealing with evil, we are studying ideas and thoughts that have come from the enemy of God.
We should prepare ourselves accordingly.

– Our study of other beliefs should never overtake our own personal devotional life and study. There is always a real danger that we dedicate too much time and thought to the study of these things, and let our own spiritual walk suffer.

– When we engage with those caught up and blinded in other beliefs we have to remember that once we were just and blinded as they still are, that the same God who opened our eyes to the glorious truth is more than able to do the same for them also.

Originally this was going to be more wide ranging, but with the recent increase in activity on the Island from the Jehovahs Witnesses (JW’s) I thought it might be best to take the time to look at what they believe and how we might engage them with the Gospel.
They are currently building a new Church in Stornoway, when it is completed this will more than likely mean that more JW families will move to the Island. What an incredible Gospel opportunity this gives us!
They come to ur doors, let’s be ready to listen to them, to talk with them, and to share with then the true life giving and life saving Gospel.

Upcoming posts:

1- JW Beliefs Basics 1
2- JW Beliefs Basics 2
3- The Most Common Passages
4- Sharing the Gospel 1
5-  Sharing the Gospel 2
6- What we need to Know


As always, comments & thoughts always appreciated.



My Top 5 Books For Young Christians

There is a huge selection of books available for Christians to read and to study, it’s often hard to know where to start.  The following 5 books are my own personal favourite Christian books that I’ve read (or re-read) in the last year’ish, and that are still available to buy. They are in no particular order.

I’ve tried to provide a link to the most affordable copy of each book. If you live locally let me know, and you can borrow any of the books.

1. “The Lord our Shepherd” – J. Douglas MacMillan

This much-beloved book is one that has been on the shelf for years, but I’ve only recently actually read it.
Rev MacMillan walks us through Psalm 23, every page describing in beautiful detail the care and love of our Shepherd, as he protects and guides us.
Since the author spent many years as a shepherd, he often writes from experience. It’s a short book and an incredibly easy one to read, but that does not mean that he simplifies anything; rather as he gently walks us through the psalm he delves deep into the wonderful work of our Saviour.
Seriously if you have it read it, if not borrow or buy a copy.

2. “I AM” – Iain D. Campbell

i-amAgain, this is another short book. But it is not one to quickly skim over. Rev. Campbell looks into the seven “I am” sayings of Jesus as we find them in the Gospel of John. By taking the time to study these phrases we can learn about our saviour by seeing how He described himself.
Rev. Campbell unpacks each saying into manageable sections, he also closes each chapter by asking several study questions.
As well as for personal reading, this book would make a great book for use in a small group study. LINK

3. “The Shorter Catechism”


Okay, so I know that many of you will have at least had a little experience with this book some point in your life – but bear with me. This little book of 107 Questions and Answers has helped countless Christians for hundreds of years. We now live in an age of 140 character tweets & soundbites. Well, this book beat that trend a few hundred years ago!
The questions range from the purpose of our creation to salvation/ election/ ten commandments/ the Lord’s prayer etc. Almost every area of essential Biblical teaching is covered in bite-size chunks.
With each Q+A you can see the related Scripture references and a short (but incredibly helpful) comment. LINK

4. “Five Points” – John Piper

I spent years struggling with election, salvation and God’s sovereignty over all things. Questions like “If God chooses certain people to be saved, how can that be fair & right…”etc. If I had had this book during that time all my questions would have been answered. The reality is that, as we have it so wonderfully put in Psalm 115, “Our God is in the Heavens, He does all that he pleases”. Piper gently leads the reader through five different areas where he shows, again and again, that God is our Sovereign King & Loving Father. That He hates sin & loves His people. That God has a perfect plan, and that He will accomplish that plan.
Read this book. If you have not yet dealt with these types of questions you will have to soon enough, prepare yourself now. LINK [There’s a free PDF download of the book available]

5. A Biography / Autobiography

Okay so I’m cheating here slightly, but I honestly can’t think which books to specifically recommend. I’ve read two the last year, an autobiography by Martin C. Haworth “Beyond  Coral Shores”, documenting his missionary calling to work in the Philippines and then amongst the Buhid tribe. It’s a great read, and pretty exhilarating. It shows the power of the Gospel to reach and touch any people/ language and tribe.
I also read “The Life of Rabbi Duncan” by David Brown, whilst it’s a wonderful account of God shaping and forming the life of Mr Duncan etc. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for a younger or new Christian.
So just grab any book which documents the life of a Christian, and see how God worked in their life, marvel at how He works all things together for His will and the good of His people.

Just one quick word on some books to avoid, from authors which seem to be unfortunately popular with younger & new Christians. Avoid Joyce Meyer, Sarah Young (Jesus Calling) and Rob Bell.

So there we go, a quick look at my top 5 (‘ish) books for new & younger Christians. What would your must-read books be?