How Transparent Are You? | 你有多透明、直率呢?

(Matt. 21:12-14) ”And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.  And He said to them, It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.  And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed.”

I remember getting up one Sunday and thinking to myself, I am just not up to it!  My sons were in the house and complaining about something and talking loudly.  My wife was busy preparing breakfast and trying to get us ready for attending church services.  For myself, I just didn’t FEEL like smiling, talking, and spending a morning with people at church.  I didn’t know what I truly wanted but I knew that I wanted to “rest” and simply avoid people and responsibility.  Didn’t I deserve a break?  Would I be a hypocrite if I went into the “pulpit of God” and had nothing to share?  Was it fair to the people who came to church expecting to meet God and hear from God’s Word only to hear me share as an empty vessel?

Apparently, God thinks prayer is important for each of us.  Publicly or privately, Christians need to constantly be talking and walking with the Lord (I Thess. 5:17). He desires us to have a “House of Prayer” in our lives and use it.  As Christians, we all have the direct and priestly access to God as we pray.  On the morning of which I speak, I needed not to fear life’s pressures but to embrace my Father’s strength through prayer.  In my weakness, he is made strong!   I needed a reminder that Christ had seen similar days of despondency but had responded with prayer that provided him renewed focus.  It is my hope that we will all be honest with ourselves and learn to be more dependent on the strength of Christ and less dependent on my personal  FEELINGS  for our commitments and
service. (By the way, I did go to church and found that God was welcoming of me to be there with my Christian family!)

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    马太21:12 “耶稣进了神的殿,赶出殿里一切做买卖的人,推倒兑换银钱之人的桌子,和卖鸽子之人的凳子, 13对他们说:「 经上 记着说: 我的殿必称为祷告的殿, 你们倒使它成为贼窝了。」 14在殿里有瞎子、瘸子到耶稣跟前,他就治好了他们。”
    记得一礼拜天起床后,我没兴趣做任何事!我的儿子们都在家里,他们在高声谈论;我的妻子忙着做早餐,准备我们去参加教会崇拜。至于我自己,我不想整个早晨在教会面对众人,微笑、倾谈。我不确定我想要什么,但我知道我想“休息”,简单地避开责任。我不应该也有机会休息吗?如果我去到“上帝的讲坛”,却没有信息分享,我是否成为伪君子呢?对那些来到教会, 期望听到上帝话语的会众,只听到一空器皿的分享是公平的吗?
显然,上帝认为祷告对我们每一个人都很重要。公开和私底下,基督徒需要时时祷告(帖前5:17),与神同行。祂希望我们生命里有一「祷告的殿」,我们天天都要用它。基督徒祷告时,有祭司的权柄可以直接与神沟通。在上提的早晨,我需要不怕生活的压力,而紧紧抓住经由祷告来的天父力量。我需要记得基督也同样见到意气消沉的日子,但是祂藉著祷告找到祂新的焦点。我希望我们在委身及事奉上对自己诚实,学习多依靠基督的能力,少靠我们自己的感觉及能力。(再说那个礼拜天,我去了教会,并且找到上帝在我们基督徒大家庭里欢迎我。)

Suffering as a Follower of Christ (I Peter 4: 12-19) | 为作基督徒受苦

***These are “Words from a Pastor” but that Pastor isn’t me. Peter’s words are much more valuable than anything I would say. May you read with a desire to have the Holy Spirit reveal your motivations for how you live your life.

12 My friends, don’t be surprised at the painful things that you are now suffering, which are testing your faith. Don’t think that something strange is happening to you. 13 But you should be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings. You will be happy and full of joy when Christ shows his glory. 14 When people say bad things to you because you follow Christ, consider it a blessing. When that happens, it shows that God’s Spirit, the Spirit of glory, is with you. 15 You may suffer, but don’t let it be because you murder, steal, make trouble, or try to control other people’s lives. 16 But if you suffer because you are a “Christ-follower,” don’t be ashamed. You should praise God for that name. 17 It is time for judging to begin. That judging will begin with God’s family. If it begins with us, then what will happen to those who don’t accept the Good News of God? 18 “If it is hard for even a good person to be saved, what will happen to the one who is against God and full of sin?” 19 So if God wants you to suffer, you should trust your lives to him. He is the one who made you, and you can trust him. So continue to do good.

 

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***以下是”牧师的话”,但这牧师不是我。圣经中彼得的话比我所说的任何话都有更多价值。愿你读以下经文时,圣灵会显示你的行事动机。

12亲爱的弟兄啊,有火炼的试验临到你们,不要以为奇怪(似乎是遭遇非常的事), 13倒要欢喜;因为你们是与基督一同受苦,使你们在他荣耀显现的时候,也可以欢喜快乐。 14你们若为基督的名受辱骂,便是有福的;因为神荣耀的灵常住在你们
身上。 15你们中间却不可有人因为杀人、偷窃、作恶、好管闲事而受苦。 16若为作基督徒受苦,却不要羞耻,倒要因这名归荣耀给神。 17因为时候到了,审判要从神的家起首。若是先从我们起首,那不信从神福音的人将有何等的结局呢? 18若是义人仅仅得救,那不虔敬和犯罪的人将有何地可站呢? 19所以,那照神旨意受苦的人要一心为善,将自己灵魂交与那信实的造化之主.

“Gross National Happiness (GNH) is more important than Gross  National Product (GNP)” | 「国民幸福总值(GNH)」对比「国民生产总值(GNP)」

Have you never heard of GNH?  Bhutan’s 4th Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, coined this term over 50 years ago, with a commitment for their country to  build an economy based on Buddhist values while avoiding the traps of western materialism as measured by the GNP.

I first learned about this interesting national emphasis about 12 years ago when attending a conference sponsored by the Consortium for Global Education in Xian.  While listening to a Bhutanese government official present this dream, I realized that to disregard all of his words would be irresponsible for, after all, is it not the goal of most people to find a meaningful and pleasurable life experience?  The GNH idea of not getting so tied up in our possessions and earthly successes shouldn’t be all that difficult for Christians to embrace as well?

The four pillars of GNH philosophy are tied to sustainable development, preservation of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and the establishment of good governance.  As Christians, I have to wonder whether we can be equally as concise in saying what our foundational beliefs are for those who need to consider our faith?  Happiness is, for the Christian, a side benefit of our confidence in the relationship we have with Christ and other followers.  Yes, happiness or “joy” is certainly something we should hold on to firmly as Jesus’ followers.  Our happiness/joy should never be contingent on mere emotions and circumstances but should be highly valued for it is represented by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  How we, as God’s family, bless the church of Christ by remembering Paul’s admonition, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) shows our values in practical application.  American historical Christian roots might be something that offers a hint of an answer to what Bhutan’s King seeks?

Pastor Don

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你听说过「国民幸福总值」吗?不丹第四代龙王吉格梅·辛格·旺楚克五十年前,自创「国民幸福总值」,即为免陷入西方物质主义「国民生产总值」陷阱中,他们国家的经济 政策是以佛教价值观为基础。
大约十二年前,我在中国西安全球教育联盟会议上第一次听说这个特殊的国家观点。在聆听不丹政府官员描述这个梦想时,我发现完全不同意他所说的是不负责任的,毕竟大部份的人生目标不就是为了要有有意义和快乐的生活吗?这「国民幸福总值」的概念:不计较物质的拥有及世界的成功,对基督徒来说也该不难吧?
「国民幸福总值」概念的四个支柱是永续发展、文化价值的保留、自然环境的保护、和良好治理的设立。生为基督徒,我必须想:到底我们能否同样精简地将我们的基本信仰说给需要听到的人呢?基督徒的「快乐」是我们与基督和弟兄姐妹建立关系后,信心的附产品。「快乐」和「喜乐」确实是耶稣追随者要紧紧把握的。我们的「喜乐」不受感情、环境影响;「喜乐」应该被高度看重,因它是来自圣灵在我们生命中做的工。我们是 上帝家庭的一份子,要如何成为 基督教会的祝福?记得保罗说:「因我活着就是基督,我死了就有益处(腓立比书1:21)。」我们要在实际行动上彰显我们的价值观。美国基督徒的历史背景可能可以暗示答复不丹国王所追求的?

主内,简国忠

Pastor’s Word: “ Not All Meetings are Bad! ” | 「不是所有会议都那么可怕嘛!」

What an interesting meeting on Sunday afternoon (12th) with the Chinese Congregation of FCBC!  While only about 50% of the agenda that I expected to use was actually addressed in the meeting, the positive thing was to listen to the discussion that was brought forth.  As with all that we do in our church, the goal is for us to grow in our Christian unity, love, faith, and character.   Whether it is via hospital visits, hiking activity, bicycle rides, making Christmas gifts or Caroling, women’s ministry, hospitality ministries, pot-luck meals, English teaching, women’s conferences, Music Outreach programs, Retreats or other things, our foundational purpose must be to serve as an arm of Christ in our society.   As a local church, our goal must be to grow positively, lovingly, and with humility as we take up various responsibilities for His Kingdom.  God desires to bless us for our pure hearts and commitment to His church.  If our hearts are not polluted with the distractions and broken relationships that this world often presents as normal, we are to be used as God’s chosen vessels for sharing the love of Christ with power!

A number of years ago, a church that I was associated with decided to do a “Christmas Caroling ministry” in August.  It was a “wild idea” but we were so strongly welcomed to share in a Senior Citizen’s Home because it wasn’t at Christmas!  They told us that, at Christmas, they always have guests who sing but then are neglected for the rest of the year. If you have a ministry idea in any area of our church’s life, especially one tied to Outreach Ministries or service to the community, please let me know about it and we can see how God will bless & guide that dream!

 

 

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1月12日主日下午我们第一华人浸信会有一个非常有意思的中文堂同工会。我想要谈的议题,虽然只有一半被论及;但重要的是听到大家对事工的讨论。 我们教会的一切事工,目标是增长我们在基督内的合一、爱、信心、和积极服事的品格;无论是医院探访、骑自行车活动、爬山活动、制作圣诞节礼物或报佳音、姊妹团契、接待新朋友事工、聚餐、英文教学、妇女会议、音乐表演节目、退修会或是其他,我们的基本目的是成为基督的臂膀服事社会。作为一个教会,我们的目标必须是正面的、有爱心的、谦卑地成长;我们要为 祂的国担负起各样的责任。 上帝会祝福我们纯洁的心和我们对教会的承诺。如果我们的心没有被世界的纷扰和破裂关系污染,我们会成为上帝选用的器皿,会有更大的能力去分享 基督的爱!

数年前,我参与的教会决定在八月的时候去“报圣诞佳音”;这是一个很疯狂的主意。虽然那时不是圣诞节,但是在养老院我们却被热烈欢迎! 他们告诉我:在圣诞节的时候,会有很多人来报佳音;但是其它时间,他们就被遗忘了。如果你有任何建议事工,特别是有关外展和社区服务的,请告诉我;然后我们一起看 上帝如何祝福及指引我们的梦想!我们的异象!