Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Devotional 093008

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The weather is wonderful but my body is tired. I hope I am not catching a cold or something. Or may be I just need to do exercise to wake up my body. I have made some progress in bringing my exercise outfit to office. It is a good start. Right?
I basically don’t want to confront people. I hate to be the bad guy. I don’t wan to rock the boat or make people mad. I will seek whatever possible way to compromise. I don’t mind to let go of my own interest and comfort to yield. I am sure most people would prefer to do the same. However, there are times we need to make our stand even though people may disagree with us. Especially when it comes to our loved ones, we need to confront with love for the sake of building them up. We need to exercise whatever power or authority we can find to confront an improper behavior or purely sinful lifestyle.
This is exactly what Paul did to the Corinthian Christians. As their spiritual father, Paul urged the church to make a firm stand on moral issue. We are not talking about grey area here. It was clearly some sinful acts that some believers in the Church had committed. They had even defended their sins with some eloquent speech and had challenged the authority of Paul in telling them what to do or what not to do. It gave Paul no other option but to confront the church with his God-given authority as the Apostle.
To Paul, Christians need to re-evaluate our lives from time to time, or else we would allow foothold for Satan to creep into our lives and community to cause significant damage. It is better to prevent sin before it takes root and yield evil fruits. Paul said, “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it” (13:5 Message). Unfortunately, many Christians nowadays prefer not to think or have no time to quiet down for reflection. We allow the river of busyness to drift us down stream to the ocean of lust and self-centeredness. It is always easier to yield to the force of 'nature' than to go against it. Wild salmon needs to fight against the power of river in swimming up stream with a single purpose or life mission, which is to give birth to a new generations. What is your life purpose or mission that you will do whatever you can to accomplish?
A lot of time, we will focus on our limitation whenever we think of our life mission. “Yes, I understand I have a life mission. BUT I am too weak or have too many obligations in life that I can’t live up to that purpose.” If this excuse sounds familiar to you, I want you to know that it is a lie from the evil one. I like to borrow Paul’s word to encourage you: “We're rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn't possibly do otherwise. We don't just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives” (13:8-9 Message). The truth is that God can empower you to live out your life mission that He has designed for your life. Our Lord Jesus clearly knew what our limitations are because: 1) He went through life on earth just like us, 2) He allowed the bad experience(s) that crippled our lives in the past, 3) He knew us before we were even conceived in our mothers’ womb (Psalm 139:16). The author of Hebrews said, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:15-16). As you root your life in God’s truth, you will not surrender to your limitations or oppositions in life, but to celebrate in God’s power and strengthen in you, because His power can be activated within you, when you are desperate for Him. “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
Hope you will stay focus on Him as you go through this difficult time of economic depression. God may use you to be His channel of comfort and encouragement to those around you, when you celebrate your limitations in life with genuine joy that springs from within.
Love you in Christ,

Monday, September 29, 2008

Brother Peter Kam

It was a great surprise for us to celebrate with Peter in Hong Kong after he had received his Silver Bear Award from Berlin International Film Festival in 2006

We enjoyed having dinner at home with Peter, Jenny and Chloe last night. We had so much fun and laughters. God is good!

devotional 092908

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Even thought the weather was grey and foggy on my way to office, my heart was excited and warm in praising the Lord. Again we should not allow the outward circumstances to dictate our inner reality – the indwelling presence of our sweet Holy Spirit. He is the Lover of our soul. As we focus on Him, we find satisfaction beyond the would can give.
Loretta asked me whether I regretted my decision to leave the pastoral ministry after attending Walter’s installation service. My answer was a definite ‘no.’ I was thankful that God had used me and shaped me through my years as a pastor in Cumberland. Now, I felt that my Master desires to use me to support His work in global missions. And I gladly accepted His deployment. After all, a soldier's responsibility was to obey the command of his superior. If not, the morale of the troop would be in chaos and it would definitely fail their missions at the end. Who are we to tell God how He should use our lives? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use (Rom 9:20b-21)? During the installation service, I was really excited for Walter to become the new Senior Pastor of our church. I will miss the team and the leaders who worked closely with me for all these years. But I don’t miss the position to be the commander in chief at all. I am happy to take a subordinate position in my team at GOI.
Just as Walter said in the installation service, it was His love that drove us to do what He wanted us to do. It is also His grace that empowers us to become channel of His blessings to people around us. Since we freely receive this precious gift from above, therefore we freely give ourselves to Him and to others. We don’t give in order to get or expect anything in return. This is Paul’s attitude regarding his relationship with the church of Corinth. “What I want is not your possessions but you… If I love you more, will you love me less” (12:14-15)? This kind of unconditional love was the element that had turned the world upside down in human history. Jesus came to demonstrate this kind of love by dying on the cross before his disciples could really love Him back or do anything for Him.
Since some Christians in the church of Corinth still could not understand this kind of love, and still operated on a human perspective or paradigm – a self-centered mindset, therefore they criticized Paul for being too proud to ask for their financial support in his missions. As a matter of fact, it is hard for missionary to ask for support from any Christian community. It is truly a humble pie for us to ‘beg’ for other’s financial support as though we are incapable to make our own living. Many of our missionaries had quitted their high pay career to serve as missionary. Materialistically speaking, these missionaries were affluent but entered into simplistic lifestyle for the sake of God's Kingdom. They were not a group of lazy people but those who choose to live for a higher call. I felt bad when I saw how some of their families had suffered when their financial support did not come in according to their plan or promises.
Please remember your missionaries who labor in foreign land on your behalf because we are all part of the kingdom of God. They want to remain faithful in the front line no matter how little financial support they may have received. Will you be faithful to God in supplying the needs of His servants in the mission’s fields as well?
Just as what Paul said in chapter 8 of 2 Corinthians, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little’" (8:13-14). I hope you will remain as a good and faithful steward to better manage your finance for His Kingdom's work, especially during this depression time of our economy. Pouring your money to the stock market proved to be in vain and risky. But investing in the Kingdom of God will always yield high result and the fruits will last forever.
Hope you have a wonderful day to be His good steward in wherever you are.
Love you in Christ,

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Installation Service

Praise the Lord for Walter and Ada!

It was a wonderful ceremony to see how Walter was installed to be Senior Pastor of Cumberland Presbyterian Chinese Church.
Let's continue to support and pray for him and Ada...

Friday, September 26, 2008

e-devotional 092608

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. This week was really packed with activities from day break to day end. But it was a good feeling to know that my potentials were fully utilized even though the body was tired. I don't know how long will I procrastinate my exercise plan before my body finally quit on me. I know that doing exercise is important for my heath, but I allow either my laziness or many urgent activites to take over or weaken my determination. I felt like I had 'no time' to waste on this 'luxury item' in my daily life. But I know that eventually, this luxury item will become my 'survival necessity' in life. Please remind me from time to time to work out.
As I read Paul's comment on his spirituality in 2 Corinthians again, I believed that this is a critical preparation for a martyr. "I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows--was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses" (12:3-5). Paul was talking about a spiritual reality that had occured within his spirit or soul. There was a glorious joy that sprang out from within his soul. For whoever that had experienced such kind of spiritual encountering would identify with Paul's description here: an inexpressible joy and experience that are beyond words can fully explain. Of course, such encountering is a bonus or gift from above. It is not something that we should demand from the Lord. Just as Jesus said to His disciples, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father" (Matt 20:23), we cannot demand special favor or honor from the Lord, but to faithfully do our part to follow His footsteps (drink His cup of sufferings).
I always wondered what went through the mind of a martyr when they faced a violent death. Would they curse God for not protecting them? I doubt it. Would they try to convince themselves that God would stop the execution by His miraclous intervention? They might. Or they would simply focus on a spiritual reality that was beyond human words can explain. When Stephen was in the face of execution, Dr. Luke recorded an interesting expression of this martyr, "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'" (Acts 7:55). Is it a similar encountering to what Paul described in 2 Corinthians? The world, especially his enemy, could not or chose not to understand Stephen's proclamation at that time. But this seems to be a spiritual reality that God may grant to some whom God choose to reveal His glory or fulfill His plan through death.
Pay attention to Paul's description again in verse 5, "I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses." In another word, Paul chose to treasure this spiritual reality or the glorious gifts from God, than his own weaknesses in the body (physical illness, handicaps or inadequate conditions). To him, if his weakness would invite the gifts from above, he would rather prefer unpleasant experience in his body, so that he could enter into this spiritual glory to be with the Lord. Paul baisically said the same thing as he wrote to the Chruch of Philippi, "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body" (Phil 1:23).
Let's learn not to pursue some kind of supernatural experience like Paul described as though it is a norm or goal of our spirituality. We learn to pursue Christ as our ultimate goal in life for each day. So that we will gradually shift our desire from the world or from our body to our spiritual union with Christ.
Hope you will enjoy a restful and meaninful weekend to be with your Lord.
Love you in Christ,
Ps. Hopefully, I will create a blog over this weekend with Dorothy's help. I will give you direction to access my devotional through my blog if I succeed:)