Bits and Pieces is a random collection of news and views compiled by Dr. Frank McClelland for Toronto F.P.C.


We wish all our readers a Happy New Year although the prospects may not seem great with Covid19 still hanging around.  Hopefully, the Lord will step in and turn things around.  But Happy New Year is on the lips of most people as a genuine expression of hope.

This raises the question, what is true happiness?  Most people want to be at ease, with comfort, peace and prosperity.  But real happiness is being able to look back with no guilty fears, look around in the present without sinful discontent, and forward without anxious dread.  Many people look for happiness in places where it cannot be found.

Happiness cannot be found in rank or greatness, riches or learning, idleness or pleasure.  The world is replete with men and women who have all these things and yet are desperately unhappy.  The great king Solomon declared, “Behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” [Ecclesiastes 1:14].

There is only one way to true happiness, and the Psalmist points it out.  “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” [Psalm 144:15]. The reason is obvious.  The believer’s conscience is clear, his sins are forgiven, and he has peace with God.  He is happy and peaceful despite afflictions, sicknesses, and public calamities like the present pandemic.  The Christian is happy because the vacuum left in his heart by sin has been filled by the presence of Christ His Saviour.


It is not a very happy start to the New Year for Suzanne and Karen Fernandes.  Having said farewell to their mother, Francesca, on May 21, their father, Louis, died just an hour short of the new year.  He had been ill for a few months.  The Fernandes family has been a member of the Toronto church for many years.  Both daughters teach high school science, Karen in the Whitefield Collegiate.  Please pray the Lord will give them grace and strength to cope with what has been a very difficult year for them.


“If I weep for that body from whom the soul is departed, how much more should I weep for that soul from whom God hath departed.” [Augustine]


Most Christians have re-started reading the Bible as another year dawns. Genesis chapter one is easy to read, and because of that, we tend to gloss over it. But it is filled with deep mystery and is well worth our extra study.

Some reject the Trinity just because the word is not in the Bible, but it is found in the first three verses of Genesis.  “In the beginning, God (the Father) created.”  “The Spirit (the third Trinitarian Person) of God moved.”  “And God said.”  This is the Word of God speaking, and Jesus is the Word.  [John 1:1].

The English philosopher, biologist, and agnostic Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) spoke of “Five manifestations of the unknowable.”  It is interesting that these are all found in the first two verses of Genesis. Time (“Beginning”). Space (“Heaven”). Matter (“Earth”).  Force (“Spirit of God”). Motion (Moved”).

By the way, the end of chapter one should be at chapter 2:3. The chapter divisions were first added in the 13th. Century.


“Behold, all things are become new” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

A New Year! Another twelve months have run their course, never to be repeated. The old year’s joys and sorrows are no more.  Its hopes and aspirations are gone forever. The hymn reminds us that “time like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away.”  We are quickly passing through time on our way to eternity.  “Only one life twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

For some, the hopes and aspirations of the past year have been amply fulfilled.  They can say with gladness that it has been a good year.  For most, it seems, it has been a difficult year.

Now, however, we begin a new year with fresh hopes and challenges.  Let us discard the baggage of the past and approach the new with joyful trust in the grace of the Lord and obedience to His every command.

This is a good time for personal stocktaking, a time to examine our lives, a time to remember that as followers of Christ, we must give account to Him.  Throughout this year, let us consider the newness of our Christian faith and practice.  What wealth lies in the future at our fingertips! May we learn to count our blessings in the midst of trials and thank the Lord for them?  If we do, we shall arrive at the end of 2021, praising God for His great goodness and grace.  He blesses us “from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” [Deuteronomy 11:12].