What’s On

PCF now have a whole range of midweek groups and meetings up and running which you are invited to get involved with! We’ll continue meeting ‘Virtually’ during this period

Sunday Services – Now being streamed at 10:30am at https://www.aberdeencf.com

Porty Home Group ( Tues 8pm) : Contact info@portlethencf.com for more information

Prayer Meeting (Tues, 7pm): A chance for the whole church to come together to pray for the world, our community, and our church – https://zoom.us/j/893505863

Young Adults Group (Tues, 8:30pm): Good chat, Bible study, and prayer for those S6 and up. Contact Gillian to get involved – gillian@aberdeencf.com

Mainly Music (Thurs, 10am): Join us for a virtual MM session; a time of singing, rhymes, and stories for pre-schoolers and their families – https://zoom.us/j/197697150

Fuel Youth Group (Thurs, 7pm): An evening of chat, games, Bible study, and more for all those in P7-S6. Contact Gillian to join in – gillian@aberdeencf.com

Spark (Fri, 10am): A twist on our usual after-school group, we’ll meet online to play games, jump around doing action songs, hear a Bible story, and pray together. Open to all pre-school and primary age children and their families – https://zoom.us/j/678979081

All of these groups will be running each week during this season of ‘lockdown’, and they are in addition to our live Sunday service streams at 10:30am which can be watched at aberdeencf.com (with additional resources available for children and youth – get in touch to find out more!)

Midweek Prayer Meeting

We now have a monthly prayer meeting on the last Tuesday of every month, 7:30pm! Come along for a evening of prayer and worship!

Get in touch for more details: info@portlethenCF.com

Porty Crafts

Porty Crafts takes places on a Thursday once a fortnight. The cost is £4 per session and all materials & refreshments are included! Everyone is welcome so please pop along, if you have any queries please call Frances on 01224 890118.

Christmas Carols!

We’re getting into the Christmas mood here at PCF!
 
And we’d love to invite you all to a free evening of Christmas carols, with some festive snacks and drinks.
 
Come along to the Jubilee Hall this Friday (21st) at 7pm – 8pm. Everyone is welcome.
 
Merry Christmas everyone!

The Depths of my Despair

My days are bleak and lonely, no joy exists within,

 Troubles in abundance, led me to this place I’m in!

Feeling sorrow and despair, unworthy and a mess,

 I hear laughter all around me, ambition and success!

 

But what of me, or where I am?    Who can relieve me of this pain?

 Even those who love me, can’t lift me up again!

What can I do, where can I go?  No way out can I see,

 Engulfed in growing anxiousness and insecurity!

 

O Lord above, please help me, if you can hear this prayer!

 I cry out in my brokenness of sorrow and despair!

Can you give me hope again?  Bring purpose to my life?

 Can peace and joy reign in my heart, overcoming all my strife?

 

Why should you care about me, Lord?  Undeserving soul, I am!

 And yet, you know my every deed…..and still, reach out your hand!

I feel my heart already stirred, and reach out, your hand to grasp,

 A desire so strong within me, I feel that hope at last!

 

There’s new strength born within my heart; it wasn’t there before!

 The tears are welling in my eyes, as my pain comes to the fore!

And Lord, I sense you know my pain, and it all, I share with you,

 Releasing my great burden, is what I need to do!

 

Exhausted, yet exhilarated, peace soothes my very soul,

 Understanding my emotions, moving upwards now my goal!

O Lord, my God, I thank you, for what you’ve done for me,

 Lifted me from the depths of despair, shown me love and set me free!

 

Onwards and Upwards………..

The Path Less Travelled

Lately we have had some gorgeous weather. With this weather comes the opportunity to get outdoors; for some, this is a stroll down the park, or a visit to the beach. For my family, it is getting out into the countryside, getting off the beaten track to see what we can discover.
Don’t get me wrong, visiting the more populated places like Ben Nevis, or The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye is nice, but there is something about getting off the populated routes, finding beautiful hidden Lochs or valleys, reaching those lesser visited summits, carrying a tent on your back and pitching up in the middle of nowhere, or taking a picnic and spending a day by the river with no one else around.
The peace and beauty in these places really brings home to you Gods creation, and the Joy of seeing things most people don’t is very much worth the extra effort.
Over the last few days we have made a few of these trips. I have had plenty of time to reflect on Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
This is a well known verse by many, and most people recognise it to be talking of salvation, of how before we knew Jesus, we were all on the Broad way to death, but there is more to it than that.
Notice how Jesus describes the Narrow gate, Narrow is the gate and difficult the path which leads to life.
Difficult…
I like to think of this as the path less travelled.
Above this post is a photo I took on one of our walks. In this image there are two paths, one is clearly defined, easy to walk, flat and clearly well used, the other is off to the left, look closely and you can see it, it is darker, hard to see, overgrown,lumpy and worst of all, it goes uphill.
Walking that first path is easy, you can do it in shorts and sandals with no problem, the second requires a little more preparation and effort, as a minimum you would want good shoes, and a pair of trousers.
For some just looking at that path and thinking of the extra effort and preparation it would take is enough to keep them off of it. For others it may look scary and intimidate them, but if you knew that at the end of that path, was the only water source in 100 miles, you would not hesitate to prepare for and undertake that journey.
If you are going hiking and wild camping, you need to prepare a lot more than if you are going for a picnic. If you are going for a picnic, you need to prepare a lot more than if you are going for a stroll in the park. The amount of preparation needed isdirectly in relation to where you are planning to go, directly in relation to your journey and destination.
Why do we prepare?
It is because we plan to reach our goal. Whether it’s the park at the end of the street, the river three miles up the track, or the mountain top via an overnight camp by the glacial lake, we prepare for our journey so we can see it through, if we didn’t prepare we would give up, turn back or in some cases get badly hurt or die.
We prepare because we anticipate the destination, the Joy it will bring to us, because we desire to see that beautiful view, or relax by the river bend while we eat with our family; because we want the joy, peace, and happiness we will get from reaching the journeys end.
In the same way we should be preparing for the journey we are on now, we are travelling a difficult path, one filled with pitfalls and snares, one which is contrary to the world we live in today; but are we really prepared for this journey?
Preparation for this journey comes from the changes Jesus makes in each of us, as we spend more time in His word, in prayer, in fellowship, in submission and accountability to each other as believers, in contemplation of His words; then we grow and mature in understanding and perseverance, in love and patience, and much more besides.
So do we see the following traits increasingly in our lives?
Patience, Peace, Love, Joy, Kindness, Gentleness, Self Control.
The closer we get to Jesus, and the more we mature in understanding, the more we should be seeing these things in the individual moments of our daily lives.
Do we regularly recognise the undeserved gift we have in Jesus? Are we traumatised again and again by our Gods mercy for us?
Do we daily dwell on Jesus’ Life, His words, His example, His death, and of course, His resurrection?
Do we speak to God, not just in the morning or evening, or at meal times, but moment by moment, seeking guidance in the little things as well as the big?
Is God constantly on our minds?
If you answered NO to a number of the above, can I plead with you now, go to your pastor, seek out a good Christian friend, find a good Bible study group, be a seeker and dwell on Jesus.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Jesus waits for you….
If you answered yes to a number of the above, can I ask that you make yourself available, do as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”
Be an Imitator of Jesus and Paul, follow their examples, make disciples, invest time into others, share Jesus, be willing to speak to those who seek, encourage those who are new to the faith, Bible study with fellow disciples and pray together.
Be in each others lives….
God Bless
Nick

Fixed Upon Jesus

We all have trials in our lives, and these trials come in many forms; the lack of a job, the lack of money, fear of others, fear of being judged, assorted illnesses, and many others besides.  When we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another.

I don’t know about anyone else, but certainly, at times, I have felt like I am overwhelmed and drowning, it seems like the world around me is trying to keep me from peace, to keep me in turmoil.  I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at this, Satan certainly doesn’t want us focused on Jesus, does he?

When these trials come upon me I try to think about the apostles; they were men, and just like the rest of us, they failed, they made mistakes, they were controlled by fear and disbelief, and had to strive hard in times of difficulty.
Often, I ponder upon Matthew 14, particularly on Peter, on how he did what would be considered impossible today, walking on the water to meet with Jesus, on how he then floundered in fear, sinking into the very same waters that a moment ago he was walking on.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
– Matthew 14:28-30

I compare this to my own walk, in faith I go where Jesus commands me to go, I begin well, trusting fully in Him, walking on the water like it is solid ground; but inevitably something distracts me, moving my focus off Jesus and on to the world around me.  That is when fear, or stress, or worry, begins to set in; that is when I begin to flounder and flail and the solid ground beneath me suddenly becomes a great sea, seeking to swallow me whole.  I could easily give 100’s of examples of these times in my own life, but I know, that you know, exactly what I am talking about.

I have said above that when we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another. But that is not entirely true is it?
During these trying times, we often forget about the times of peace and strength we experience in Jesus.  The times we feel invincible and that through Jesus we can do anything.  We forget that on the sea of Galilee Jesus calmed the storm; we often lack in faith. (Mark 4:35-40)

We forget that Jesus leads us by still waters, that He lies us down in green pastures, that His rod and staff are our comfort.  (The rod which keeps the enemy at bay, and the staff which is used to guide us away from danger) We forget that He, is our shepherd and protector, that He is our peace. (Psalm 23)

We forget our need for Him!

It too often seems that it is only when we are drowning that we remember this need and like Peter did, we call out to Him, “Lord, save me!” it is then that without fail we find He is right there, reaching out with an open hand, just as He was with Peter.

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
– Matthew 14:31
Immediately! Isn’t that incredible?  Jesus is immediately there, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Sometimes we may not understand our trials, but we should understand, that through them all Jesus is always by our side. Remember that He supplies our strength and peace, just as He did for Peter, helping him back to the boat.
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
– Matthew 14:32
As disciples we should be striving to keep our focus on Jesus; the reason we flounder, the reason we are drowning, is because we have taken our eyes off Him, we have wandered and forgotten our need for Him.  But it is only in failing, then in recognising we need Him, that we get the perseverance and discipline to keep holding on to Jesus.  It is in failing to hold on to Him and then returning to Him again and again that our faith is increased, as our faith increases, so does our love, joy and peace.
It is when we call out to Jesus that He restores us to the green pastures, brings us back to the still waters, brings back the peace in our lives, even though the trial may still be upon us, we find renewed love for Jesus, and extra strength, perseverance and peace to face it.

We should remember that if we have failed, or are failing, it does not mean we are not loved!  Jesus’ love for us does not depend on us, it is all dependent on Him; Jesus will never let us down and through our failures He shows us His perfection.  He increases our trust in Him so that the next time, we are stronger, we persevere longer, we trust more.

This is increased faith and increased faith equals increased peace in our lives.
This is Jesus taking us and leading us through the process of sanctification, growing and maturing and transforming us. Reminding us who He is.  When we have failed to keep our gaze on Jesus, then returned it back to Him, we remember and recognise who He is.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
– Matthew 14:33

Beauty for Ashes

The most amazing thing has happened to me in the last month that truly shows how God makes beauty out of ashes!! A series of events took me down a path I never saw coming…

A short background for those of you I haven’t met yet in our PCF family. My sister was killed in Feb 2017. The heart wrenching part is that it was at the hands of her son, my nephew Nathan. He and his brother were taken by their father at the age of 10 and 11. They lived on the streets and in drug houses as their father was Bi-polar and on drugs. He became a drug lord and was on America’s Most Wanted FBI List. It wasn’t until he was finally caught that the boys were returned to Debra. She would drive the streets at all hours of the night and down the darkest allies, through the worst neighborhoods and spoke to some scary looking gangs. By the time they were returned they were 15 and 17 year old strong men. Nathan had been in and out of trouble and jail for violent things but Debra was always there to plead his case. She was highly intelligent in financial matters and basically bought him out of trouble. She was mourning the little boys she lost and over compensated Nathan because she felt so much guilt for not finding them. He was diagnosed with different mental illnesses as well. He lived with her and she did everything for him. She loved him with a love I didn’t understand at all. He was mean and controlling and down right scary at times. He was this 36 year old man who ended the life of the only one that would ever have his back without question!
That series of events starts here…
I got an email from the Arizona Prison Rehabilitation Center .. that simply said Nathan had requested contact and to call or email his Prison Caseworker. I was shocked.
I immediately spoke to my husband Keith as I felt panic rush through me and he has always been able to bring me down from the clouds and calm me. He basically said either call or email and take the mystery out of it. So I called but was only able to speak to a general information desk. The man on the phone did say that a request for contact was for many reasons but the main two was the family of the prisoner can be interviewed as part of an appeals process or the prisoner wants closure i.e. forgiveness. Either way I had to email the caseworker to get answers.
By this time I just wanted to ignore it all together, however God had a different plan.
Day by day I would fight the urge to even think about it and day by day God made it harder and harder. I once again told Keith I didn’t want to forgive or help in any appeals so I don’t know why I should respond. We decided I needed my pastors council so I emailed Vijay to set up our video chat.
This is where it gets good ….
The video chat was my morning and Vijay’s afternoon. After we had the chit chat of catching up I began explaining the details of the most recent events as we have spoken before about this tragedy. He told me the most profound thing .. he said, Susan you need to forgive him – not to condone his behavior but to let God have the opportunity to heal you AND him through you!! He said I need to give up the need to punish him and when I do God can use that door of opportunity to shower him with grace and mercy!
Wow .. I just went from I can’t, won’t, never will, forgive him or help him to forgiveness and witnessing!
That night I stayed on my knees quite a while. I told God I heard His message and I know it is truth but I still had that part of me that was protesting and feeling like I somehow was betraying my family! I prayed for understanding. I prayed for strength. The next day I sent out an email but all I could say was … Why?
I sat most of that day feeling emotionally drained. My mind played over each scenario and was baffled as to why me.. why now?
Then it hit me ….
That love I mentioned earlier that I didn’t understand .. it was about to become understandable.
I realized if she was sitting next to me she would be pleading with me to forgive him. What kind of crazy was that? Why would she love someone who blamed her for every evil he had done and then killed her in such a violent and heartless way?
As clear as day I heard in my spirit … The same way I love you while you killed me!!
I just sat there in shock!
What I didn’t mention earlier was I asked God to send me a sheep fleece ..
“.. look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”
Judges 6:37
My sister did what was done for her. She loved the purest unconditional love she could humanly give!
Her life mattered. I suddenly began to recall the times I would rock Nathan to sleep and his silly grin when he would cheat at Go Fish. God allowed me to see him as He does … one of His lost children. God also helped me remember the innocence that was lost and the dysfunction of his youth. I started seeing him as my troubled nephew not a cold killer.
The next day I received a reply to my email. I opened it and it explained that he just wanted contact for closure. I did reply stating that I would be willing to communicate via written letters or emails with him but let the record show I believe he is exactly where he needs to be and I would never advocate for his release. If he would still like to communicate after that understanding is conveyed then so be it. As of today I haven’t heard back but I feel certain that I will.
God took a heart wrenching tragedy and provided an avenue for healing. He spoke through Vijay to my broken heart and allowed me to come to terms with my sisters death.
He moistened my wool fleece…

Transforming Grace

Sitting at my desk doing my studies, I have a wonderful view out of my window. From there I can see over the farmers fields where the crops are growing to some of the foothills of the Cairngorms and in particular the north face of Morven, an 872 meters tall hill.
It is now June and there are still a few small spots of snow clinging to this particular hill. Watching the process of the snow melting off these slopes over the past few months has got me to thinking about our lives before Jesus, our lives in Jesus and how they are transformed by Jesus.
In deep winter everything up here is covered in snow, much like our old lives covered in sin; everything under the snow is lifeless, in seed or root form with the potential for abundant life but lacking in something, also like our lives before we met Jesus; yet once we come to know Jesus and accept His gift into our hearts, Jesus begins to work on our sins and help us bring them into the light and put them away.
This is very similar to the way the seasons work – winter moving into spring, the sun melting away the snow a piece at a time, the seeds and roots beginning to bloom into life where the snow has melted away, exposing them to the light. Sometimes this is a rapid process and sometimes it is slower but increasingly it does happen; in the same way, for the true believer this process happens to you too, the light of Jesus exposing your sins and melting them away, freeing you and growing you into something beautiful. Like the snow on Morven in spring, clinging on until the summer sun finally melts it all away; Sin also clings on in our lives until we finally meet with Jesus face to face and enter into our eternal summer.
1 John 1:6, 8-10 says:
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. ” (v6)
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. ” (v8-10)
This was written by John to believers. Yes, you are still a sinner, I am still a sinner, we are all still sinners.
This is really important because it defines how we think about ourselves. If we begin to think we have no sin, or we can sin no more we will begin to think we are better than the rest of humanity, we will begin to see nothing wrong with telling lies, cheating, stealing or worse.
We will continue to sin.
We are still sinners BUT Jesus works in us to change us, melting away our sins one by one to transform us and change us. We continue to have the capacity to sin and we do still sin, but this shouldn’t make us want to give up and continue sinning, rather it should make us desire to be less sinful. Jesus died on the cross for your sins, past, present and future; Jesus rose again to put those sins to death and gave us hope; hope of eternal life, a life free from sin.  This is not a life we have yet reached; we are in the spring.
As the sun melts away the snow on Morven a little at a time, so too are we also being transformed.  Bit by bit sin is being replaced, in the place where sin was we see new and beautiful desires grow and bloom from those seeds and roots which were once buried by sin.  We increasingly become more like Jesus!
Galatians 5:13, 16-17, 22-25 says:
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. ” (V13)
Serve!
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (v16-17)
In the Spirit!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (v22-25)
And see the Fruits!
As we see the sins in our lives decrease, we should also see the fruits in our lives increase.  The fact you are alive and reading this is a testimony to Gods grace and mercy.  He has still got work for you to do, work he has designed specifically for you.  Therefore we should all be striving towards the goal of perfection, knowing that only through Jesus will we ever attain it.
This process can be compared to the work done in spring by the farmers; it is hard work, ploughing the fields, sowing the seeds, tending the crops and patiently waiting whilst the crops grow.  It takes time, a lot of effort and discipline, but the growth itself doesn’t come from the farmers efforts.

Like the farmers we need to plough and prepare our hearts, weed out sin and tend the seeds of the fruits of the spirit. But it is God alone who provides the growth.  We need to put in time, effort, and be disciplined as we work to pursue Gods heart.  We need to be continually removing existing sin from our lives, striving every day to be a little more like Jesus, not to sit back, complacent, believing we have done enough or have now arrived.  Our hearts desire should be to be like Him, exhibiting Him increasingly in our daily lives.

1 John 3:2 says:
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
This refers to our transformation; when Jesus returns or we go home to be with Him, it is then that we will move from the spring of our walk (where we work, strive and during which we increasingly become more like Jesus) into the summer. That is when we become as He is, sinless for eternity, not because we have worked for it but because He gifts it to us.  That is when we will hear the words that should be the greatest desire of all our hearts. “Well done good and faithful servant”
So as the snow melts and disappears from Morven and as life grows and blossoms leading into the summer what I see is a mirror; a reflection of the hope that we have in Jesus, an image of how our lives transition over time from the cold winter of sin, to the warm spring of new hope and life, eventually to the promise of an unstained, fully bloomed and beautiful summer of eternal and sinless perfection.