Pastor’s Corner |“Criticism’s Impact on Us”

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.

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牧师的话:论断对我们的打

耶稣知道祝福别人与对他人好,却被人批评与憎恨的感受。那么,我们最好的良师是如何面对那些爱批评的人呢?

马可福音7章,耶稣时代的「宗教警察」法利赛人决定用文字打击耶稣。他们抛出他们对旧约规条/律法的解释及见解,期望耶稣要就不回应他们,或就给予他们说祂是激进份子的有力证据。这样的法利赛人和撒都该人的行为模式在全福音书内都可找到。耶稣知道他们的评论及其动机,但祂只专注于属灵的人。

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。

Pastor’s Corner | “Vancouver Visit”

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.

 

 

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“访温哥

我和我的太太很兴奋地回到我们在来凤凰城之前,曾事奉的温哥华华人教会探访。在三天的周年庆周末,让我们可以和很多老朋友重叙主恩。最有意义的不是我可以在教会分享,而是我可以再见到王弟兄;王弟兄今年已经97岁,是一个忠心事奉上帝的仆人。大概在六年前,我第一次在主日崇拜后,遇到他和他的太太。他的太太给我当日讲道有很多评语。之后,每个礼拜我都很高兴得和他们见面。在后来两年内我们变成朋友;他们待我是他们的牧师。有一天王姐妹,在挂窗帘的时候不幸跌倒,她立即就去世了。她当年是92岁。整个教会非常的震惊,因为王弟兄是两人中比较弱的一个,他们夫妇俩总是一起由王姐妹开车来教会参加所有的活动。

在教会50周年庆的晚宴上接受到王弟兄大大的笑容和拥抱,对他太太的怀念也立刻涌上来。现在他们67岁的儿子开车协助王弟兄到教会,他仍然在认识他们的每个人前为主作见证。每一个遇到这个年纪的王弟兄,都因他一生的忠心事主受到祝福。他鼓励别人的见证,不只给我挑战;他的模范也提醒我,所有的人会学习我们如何生活。

 

Pastor’s Corner | “The Starting Point of Change”

Thoughts from Christian author, Randy Alcorn, on the importance of Systematic Theology:   “I’ve seen a noticeable, even startling, reduction in the average person’s grasp of biblical truth. It’s possible for someone to hear Bible-based sermons while at the same time they’re adopting a worldview that is less and less Biblical. This happens because most church people spend very little time studying God’s truth during the week.”

Randy has a point.  We are daily pounded with the values of materialism and post-modern selfishness couched as philosophical, political, and social idealism.  Yet, at the same time, our need is for us to learn, and use, decisions and stances based not on the predominant secular culture that surrounds us, regardless of how good the ideals may be, but on the values of Christ that have held the test of time!

This “Christian selected pathway” often brings us in direct conflict with what our world says should be viewed as successful, appropriate, important, or caring.  If you don’t believe me, try reminding a true dog or cat lover that their animal is not a human and see how they respond!  Try explaining to your friends that you are giving up your medical practice to move to a small town in Chad to open a clinic for the poor.  Try explaining, even to other Christians, that you are giving up a US$130,000 job to go where you feel God can use you more effectively at 1/2 the salary!  The pressures to blend the Christian’s values and goals into the society’s are everywhere.  Having said that, there are times when the church’s goals may work in conjunction with our society’s needs but there is no guarantee of this.  For us, we must remember that Christ focuses on the spiritual needs of men BEFORE he focuses on their temporary conveniences or cultural sensitivities around us.  Christ chose not to change the world in the way that the Jewish leaders expected a Messiah to do but to be the spiritual model that changed the hearts and values of people.  May we be courageous enough to change our world with His approach.

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“改变的起点

基督徒作家 Randy Alcorn 对「系统神学重要性」的想法:「我看到一般人对圣经真理的了解有令人吃惊、值得注意的退步。 人可以听圣经基础的讲道,同时却接受愈来愈少圣经教导的世界观。 这种现象是因为教会里大多数人在周间研读上帝真理的时间越来越少。 」

Randy 指出一重点:我们的哲学、政治及社会理想天天被物质主义及后现代主义的自私论冲击。 在此同时,无论周遭属世文化概念有多好,我们需要把持经过时间验证过的基督价值观来学习及应用,以它作为决定的立足点。

「基督徒选择的道路」常常导致我们和世界所说的成功、适当、重要或关心起冲突。 如果你不相信我,试试提醒一个真正爱猫或狗的人说,他们的动物不是人,看看他们的反应! 试试向你的朋友解释你将放弃你的医疗诊所事业,搬到非洲查德的小镇为穷人开诊;甚至向其他基督徒解释你为什么要放弃年薪13万美金的工作,而去到一个薪资只有一半,但却知上帝会更加能使用你的地方。 混合社会与基督徒价值及目的的压力到处都有。 话说如此,教会的目的与社会的需要有可能一致,但却不能保证一定如此。 我们必须记得基督首先注重人的灵命需要,而非他们暂时性舒适或对我们周遭文化的敏感。 基督选择改变世界,不是以犹太领袖们期待的弥赛亚方式去做;而是以属灵榜样去改变人心及价值观。 愿我们有足够勇气,用祂的方式去改变我们的世界。

 

Pastor’s Corner | God’s Name in Vain?

We live in a society where God’s name is constantly coming up in conversation and being used!  To reference God, without a proper and respectful attitude, is truly to use His name in vain (Ex.20:7)!  Yes, even Christians may loosely drop God’s name into their phrases such as, “Oh My ____,” “____ damn,” “God knows…,” etc.  (I feel very uncomfortable even writing or thinking of this but it is something we need to consider and change for ourselves.)

In Mark 9: 38-41, two of Jesus’ chosen disciples (James & John) sought to be protectors of orthodoxy as they stopped a person from casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  They knew themselves to be pure followers of Jesus (his chosen disciples) but didn’t think the “uninitiated of their circle” should be allowed to represent Christ’s service.  Did religious pride enter their hearts as well?  John sought to keep things “pure,” by his standards, but Jesus didn’t share the same concern for religiosity.  Two thousand years later, the church still has well-meaning disciples who are displeased when things are done in Jesus’ name but not “approved for action!”  Yet, the words directed to John are ones we would do well to consider, “no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me (v.39).  Apparently, Jesus knew that the one who cast out demons in His name was, at the very least, giving authority & credit to the right source!  May we all focus our efforts to use God’s name expectantly and respectfully as we use our lives for His purposes.

 

 


妄称神的名?

我们生活在一个经常提及上帝名字的社会里。「不可妄称耶和华你神的名,因为妄称耶和华名的,耶和华必不以他为无罪。」(出埃及记20:7),我们看到即使是基督徒也会随便引用( “Oh My_G-O-D ”,”____ damn,” )我的天,(God Knows。。。)天晓得,等等。 (在这里写下这些我都觉得不舒服,但是我们还是需要为我们自己思考这个问题并改变。)

在马可福音9章38-41节里,耶稣的两位门徒(雅各和约翰)为了要守住正统,阻止他人用耶稣的名赶鬼。他们知道自己是耶稣拣选的纯正的门徒,那些不属于“圈内的”外行人不应该代表基督行事。宗教的骄傲是否存在于他们的心里? 约翰自己定义的纯洁和宗教标准,耶稣并不担心这些。两千年后,教会仍然有处于好意的门徒,会因为有些没得到他们认可,却奉主之名行的事而感到不高兴。主对约翰说的话让我们反思,“不要禁止他,因为没有人奉我名行异能,反倒轻易毁谤我。”(马可福音9:39)耶稣知道那用祂名赶鬼的人,至少知道把权柄荣耀归给正确的源头!在我们活出 祂的生命时,愿我们带着盼望和尊重,使用上帝的名。