Pastor’s Word: The values of the Christ!
(Ephesians 5: 25 – 27)
As a Christian, I am to be a “follower of Christ!” My values are to be like His. Ephesians 5 clarifies my behavior and values as follows: “...as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
At any point that any of us says or does that which harms the church and its’ mission, we sin. Christ loved the church (the people of God) so greatly that he went to the cross of Calvary as the sacrifice for our sins. When I consider the Jesus that is my mentor, I recognize that I greatly lack in my skills and commitment in allowing Jesus to be fully my Lord. My inconsistencies and unpredictability in my daily walk undoubtedly disappoint not only myself, but my friends, lost acquaintances, and my Lord. Yet, the miracle remains that God is forgiving of my poor behavior and promises to use me in His service. What a wonderful Savior that I claim in Jesus.
May we all be forgiving of each other, as Christ has forgiven us. May we all find joy in knowing that Christ loved the church (us) as we learn to be loving toward the church as well. May we learn consistency of character as we focus less on our own needs/ reputations and more on the Kingdom of God that guides our daily meaning and purpose. With our words and service, we either help or harm God’s beloved church. I pray that we daily hunger to be useful within the church of Christ.
（以弗所书5:25 – 27）
身为基督徒，我是一个「基督的跟随者」！ 我的价值观与他的一样。以弗所书五章说明我的态度和价值观： 「…..正如基督爱教会，为教会舍己。要用水藉著道把教会洗净成为圣洁，可以先给自己，做个荣耀的教会，毫无玷污、皱纹等类的病，乃是圣洁没有瑕疵的。」
在任何时候我们中有任何人说任何事伤害教会和祂的大使命，我们是有罪的。基督这么爱他的教会（一群属上帝的人）。他会为了我们的罪牺牲，走向各各他的十字架。我知道耶稣是我的良师；跟随 主耶稣，让祂做我完全的主，我的委身仍然大大的不足。我的不一致，不可以预测的，每日与神同行行为，有时使我自己，也使我的朋友，灵魂失丧的人，和我的主失望。但是奇迹是上帝仍原谅我不对的态度和承诺，愿用我服事祂。我要称扬 耶稣是一个令人惊叹的救赎者。
愿我们原谅彼此， 好像耶稣基督已经饶恕了我们一样。 知道基督爱教会(我们），我们也要爱祂的教会；祈愿我们在其中找到喜乐。 希望我们一致学习把重点少放在我们个人的需要和名位上，而多在神的国度上，祂指引我们每天生命的意义和目的。我们的言语和事奉可以建立，也可以毁坏，上帝所爱的教会。我祈求我们每日都渴望我们可以被基督的教会使用。
Pastor’s Word： Faith is a Full Commitment
In a discussion today with a Hong Kong friend, we talked about the challenges of getting our faith to a level beyond simple knowledge of Christ. We considered the antics of many so-called Christians who present themselves to be moral and ethical persons while still being involved in adultery, bribery, illicit behaviours, illegal financial transactions, lying and cheating, greed, pornography, alcoholism, gossip, rumour mongers, etc. These persons often are not “found out by society” but have their sins held in a private part of their heart. Indeed, some of these persons are us! With the Bible as our standard, my friend and I quickly realized that this discussion was difficult for, in fact, we too are found in some of these sins and in many others as well. So, how do we boldly go forth as a strong Christian witness when we recognize our own frailties and poor modeling for others? How do we present a healthy church, whatever that is, in a way that encourages others to want to join with us and serve through and past our weaknesses?
Our conversation was designed NOT to say that we agreed to live with a half-hearted commitment in our Christian faith but to simply admit that we sometimes choose to play games with God and seldom push ourselves outside of our comfort areas in order to serve. Becoming religious zealots is also not the goal either for that is done to be seen of men. Our goal must follow Paul’s words to the Philippians as we seek to have a new mind created and guiding us in our new Lord. Our value system is in opposition from our world’s. We know the facts, what do we do with what we know? Are we willing to become a radical for Christ?
今天和一个香港朋友讨论，谈到把我们的信仰摆在简单认识基督之上的挑战。 我们说到许多所谓基督徒的古怪行为；他们表现是有伦理、道德的人、但仍介入奸淫、贿赂、不正行为、不法财金交易、说谎及贪婪、色情书画、酒醉、散播谣言闲话等。 通长这些罪不被社会看见，因为他们把这些罪隐藏在心里私处。事实上，这种人有些就是我们自己！ 以圣经为我们的标准，我的朋友和我很快发现讨论这问题很困难，事实上我们也有上述及其他更多的罪。 今天当我们知道我们的短处及自己不足为他人模范时， 我们如何敢大胆地为基督做见证呢？ 我们如何可以提供一个健康教会，鼓励他人愿意不计我们的弱点，加入我们一起服事基督呢？
我们的讨论不是想说，我们同意对基督信仰只有一半的承诺；只是简单地承认我们有时候选择戏弄神，很少愿意离开我们的安全范围去事奉神。成为宗教狂热份子不是我们的目标，因为那是做给别人看。 我们的目标必须是跟随保罗对非利比人所说的话：我们必须寻找一颗新造的心及主的带领。 我们的价值观是不同于世界的；知道事实真相，我们会如何做？我们是否愿意为主积极跟进？
Jesus knew what it was like to be a blessing and do good for others only to receive negative words and the hatred of men. So, how did our best mentor deal with such persons?
In Mark 7, the Religious Police of Jesus’ day…the Pharisees, determined to use words against Jesus by first throwing out their interpretation of Old Testament regulations/rules with the expectation that Jesus would either not answer them or respond in a way that would provide them evidence that he was a radical scoundrel. This pattern of behavior by the Pharisees and Sadducees is found throughout the Gospels. Jesus understood criticism, and what motivated it, but He was focused on the spiritual man.
What do we learn from Jesus? He sometimes responded directly and sometimes indirectly. He seldom revealed anger but usually challenged his listeners to be self-critical before placing negative views toward others. He spoke with conviction and truth. His emphasis was always on ones’ motivation and internal spiritual condition rather than on externally perceived sins or mistakes. Forgiveness was given when requested but truth was never to be compromised. The rules and policies of men were distinguished clearly from the love and intent of God. How a man chooses to live and die was of value to him. Death was not the ultimate fear modeled by Jesus as the lies and criticism continued to come at him until he reached Calvary. What I learn from Jesus is that gossip, rumors, misunderstandings, prejudices, envy, pride, empty ambition, and many other things are found in the hearts and motivation of men. I also know that there is hope found in the love I see in Jesus as he focus’ on being a blessing to others without the expectation of receiving anything in return.
我们从耶稣那学到什么呢？祂有时给予直接的，有时给予不直接的回答。祂极少表示出愤怒，但是通常祂挑战听者在给他人负面评论/批评前先自我批评。祂说真理使人信服。祂强调的总是在人的动机及内在属灵光景，而非表面外在认知的罪及错误上。祂被要求时会给予宽恕，但决不对真理让步。人的规则和政策清楚地有别于上帝的爱和意图。一个人选择如何生与死，对上帝是很重要的。当谎言及论断不断地指向祂直到加略山时，死亡不是耶稣恐惧的。我从耶稣那学到人会说闲话、造谣、误会、歧视、妒嫉、骄傲、空虚野心及很多其他东西; 我也知道在耶稣爱中可找到盼望。 我看到耶稣祂聚焦于成为他人的祝福，而不期望任何回报。
What an exciting visit for my wife and I as we returned to the church where we served for some years prior to coming to Phoenix. The 3 day anniversary weekend allowed us to renew relationships with many friends but, possibly, the most meaningful moments didn’t come when I was speaking in the church but when I got to talk with Brother Wong, a 97 year old faithful servant of our Lord. About 6 years back, I met Mr. and Mrs. Wong after a Sunday service where Mrs. Wong found me to comment on some of the sermon that I had preached that day. I remember thinking what a wonderfully cute couple these two made and it was such a joy for me to weekly come in contact with them. Over the next couple of years, we became friends as they reached out to me as a pastor. Then the unexpected happened as Mrs. Wong, at the age of 92, had a fall and almost immediately passed. The whole church was shocked for it had always appeared that Mr. Wong was the weaker of the two as they independently came to church each week!
Receiving Mr. Wong’s hug and smile at the church’s celebration banquet, the memories of his wife came flashing back. Their weekly efforts to make it to the church via the assistance of their 67 year old care giving son was always a testimony to those who knew them both. As the banquet was almost finished, I learned that Mr. Wong continues to weekly be in the services of the church because he feels that he represents his family to the Lord. Even at his age, Mr. Wong is a blessing to those he comes in contact with because of his commitment to faithfulness with all of his life. Not only does his witness challenge me as he encourages others, his example reminds us all that people learn from how we live.