Pastor’s Corner | “Family pressures”

I have always enjoyed the term that we use in Chinese “Sam Si” (Heart Matter).  When a person becomes a Christian and is seeking to be baptized, churches often have an interview with the new believer by asking him/her some “Sam Si” questions. The replies to the questions reveal the understanding of this person’s new found faith.

Recently, I have had some “Sam Si” challenges that have come from my extended family.  The weight of these issues are not within my direct control and remain heavy as I feel somewhat useless to impact things while, at the same time, I must continue to function in my daily work and daily responsibilities.  Is this not something that you too can relate to when you feel stretched in different directions that hold different needs and opportunities?  How do you feel when you can see a problem/issue yet know that you cannot complete the task required to make things better?  We all, at times, are pushed to continue moving forward with certain responsibilities while family matters or situations involving friends make us not feel we can continue on.  We would really rather retreat to a place of rest and find a place where no stress or pressure would be coming in our direction.  Yet, such a retreat to calmness seems beyond our grasp.

Brothers & Sisters, this is where our Scripture has value to us all.   Matt.11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”  Physical struggles are obviously real for us but the emotional and spiritual stress points of life’s daily grind can overwhelm our desire to keep pushing forward.  There may even be a desire to totally surrender our focus and efforts when we concentrate on our difficulties.  When our family is involved, there are times when the situation takes us beyond the wisdom of our faith and into dark places.  May God grant us the wisdom, spiritual hunger, and commitment to remember that God and his ways are matters of family in the same way that our blood relatives relate to us.  My current “Sam Si” is heavy for me to carry alone and sometimes makes it hard to remain focused on church related activities that almost seem irrelevant in comparison to daily things.  Thanks are to God that I know that I am never facing problems of any type alone.

 

 

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牧師的家庭压力

我一直觉得中文「心事」一词很有意思。当一个人在受浸成为基督徒之前,教会会与新信徒「问心事」。从这些「心事」的答案,可以看出当事人对他新寻到的信仰的了解。

最近,我的亲人中有一些「心事」的挑战。有些事情虽然不在我的控制范围之内,却是让我有负担,但又无能为力。而此同时,我还必须继续每天的工作和责任。你是否有时也有同感?你被各种不同的需要及事故牵扯着,你看到问题的存在,但是卻无法做什么让事情好转;你怎么想呢?我们被责任推动继续前进,但家庭事务或朋友使我们无力继续。我们真希望可以退到一个僻静处安息,没有任何压力逼迫,但是这种安息是可望不可及的。

弟兄姐妹,这是圣经经句的价值,马太11:28 :「凡劳苦担重担的人,可以到我这里来,我就使你们得安息。」肉体的挣扎是明显真实的,但每日生活的情绪及属灵压力会拖垮我们继续向前的能力。当我们把注意力只集中在困难上,我们甚至想要完全放弃努力。有时发生在我们亲人身上的事情会超过我们信仰上的智慧,使我们进入黑暗。愿上帝给我们智慧,属灵的渴慕和委身的能力,记得上帝和祂的道路比我们的亲友重要。我目前的「心事」,我一人担负是沉重的,有时会让我难以专注于教会相关活动。但感谢上帝,因我知道,我从不是独自面对任何困难的。

Pastor’s Corner | Be Discerning…

Last week, I listened to a sermon from a very well-known minister in Houston, Texas. I have, over the years, listened to his sermons a few times but can’t say that they particularly “ring my bell” for he appears more as a Motivational Speaker than a Pastor.  Personally, I appreciate stories that assist us to apply Biblical truth but not as the primary content of what is referred to as a “sermon.”  On the day in question, I listened and discovered, within a 25 minute session on television, there were only two Scriptures referenced and virtually no attempt to allow those words to guide the content of his personal direction for his sharing.  My only point is to say that you and I must always be vigilant and discerning of who it is that we allow to bring truth into our hearts and minds.  Not all ministers or messages are created equal and, while in our search for personal spiritual growth/depth, let us seek God’s best teachings for us.  Not all sermons are funny, enjoyable, entertaining, or even well presented by a pastor but God’s Word has life and is eternally valuable to us.  As with eating certain foods, not all vegetables taste good to us but some may be very helpful in developing our growth and maturity.   May we all be patience learners who hunger after the righteousness of God.

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懂得辨别。。。

上周,我听了一位在德州休斯顿很有名气的传道人的一篇讲道。过去这些年,我听过为数不多的几篇他的讲道,但是他的信息与其说是牧师讲道,不如说是更偏向于励志演讲。对我个人而言,我感激如何把圣经真理运用在生活中的信息,“讲道”不应该是只有励志的内容。那天,听完之后我发现在电视播放的这25分钟时间里,只有2节经文被引用,而且他并没有试图用圣经经文来引导信息内容,或他之后分享的人生哲学。我在此想分享的重点是,你和我都必须在选择谁将真理放在我们的心中这件事上,常常保持警醒和有辨别能力。不是所有的传道人或者信息都是一样的,在我们寻求个人灵命增长的同时,让我们找到上帝最好的教导。不是每篇讲道都是幽默的、悦耳的、有娱乐性的或者被牧师完美展示的;上帝的话语是有生命的,并且是对我们有永远的价值的。就如同饮食一样,不是所有蔬菜都好吃,但是有些是对我们的身体很有帮助的。愿我们都饥渴于上帝的公义,成为谦虚的学习者。

Pastor’s Corner | Relationships: What a pain!

As we all know, working with numbers, with computers, with machines, with cars, with food, with construction, with almost anything is easier than working with people! People are exasperating! They are often undependable, self-centered, prideful, unfair, uncaring, insensitive, hateful, unloving, judgmental, prejudiced, deceptive, etc………

So, why are we even bothering to look at relationships today? Why did Jesus care about humans anyway? I sincerely can’t say that I fully understand the answer to that question but it is something that we must recognize as a fact…..He Cared! We know that God created the world and humankind. We know that God had his only begotten son, Jesus, sent to this world as a sacrifice for the sins of all. We know that Jesus suffered greatly for our good while we also know that most of mankind is virtually unappreciative of God’s efforts on our behalf.

FCBC is so much more than our building, our programs, our activities, our music, our worship, etc. FCBC is here to follow the modeling of Christ in identifying our existence and in reaching out in the name of Jesus. If our individual faith is only an academic understanding, our church should close its’ doors. If all we are is structure and policies, we should close our doors. If we are truly disciples, our goal is to spend less time worrying about our comforts and safety as we seek to be with lost people and reach out in the name of Jesus. This means we must learn to “welcome the pain” of working with relationships and that means loving the unlovely and caring about those who know not Jesus. May we find joy in our discomforts, inconveniences, and the criticisms received from others as we seek to show a love beyond understanding. (James Ch. 3)

 

 

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人际关系:真不容易!

我们都知道,比起和数字、电脑、机械、车子、食物、建筑或任何其他的东西打交道,都比和人共事来得容易。人是会被激怒的!他们常常是不可依赖、以自我为中心、骄傲、不公正、不关心、不为他人着想、可憎的、缺少爱心、喜欢批评、带有偏见和欺骗等等。。。

那为什么今天我们还要谈人和人之间的关系呢?耶稣为什么关心人呢?推心置腹地说,我没有一个完美的答案,但我们必须了解背后的事实- 祂就是在乎人!我们知道上帝创造这个世界和人类。我们知道上帝差祂的独生子来到这世界为我们的罪牺牲祂的生命。我们知道祂为我们受极大的苦,同时我们也知道绝大多数人并不知道感激上帝为我们做的一切。

第一华人浸信会不只是一栋建筑物,或众多事工:各种活动、音乐、崇拜等。第一华人浸信会在此是跟随基督的榜样来表明我们的存在及以向外宣扬耶稣的名。如果我们每个人的信仰只是知识上的了解,我们教会就该关闭;如果我们只是框架及政策,我们也该关闭;如果我们是真的门徒,当我们寻找并以上帝之名带回灵命失丧的人时,我们的目的是抛开对舒适和安全的担忧。这也就是说在人际关系上,我们必须学习“欢迎苦难”。即是爱不可爱的人和关心还未认识耶稣的人。在我们寻求智慧处理这不容易明白的爱的时候,愿我们在其他人给我们的不适、不易或批评中得到喜乐。
(雅各书 第三章)

Pastor’s Corner | Confusion is the New Normal

I am so confused! I’ve just read where a 22 year old man attacked his pregnant ex-girlfriend and that resulted in her aborting her child and therefore he has been convicted of “child destruction of the baby?” On the other hand, if an organization or medical doctor assists a woman to abort her child, this is viewed as “removing a problem and not the killing of a living being?” How is one decision considered murder and one is seen as the right of choice? How is it possible for a fetus in one woman to be a baby and something less than that in another? Hmm, consistency doesn’t seem to be a trait of our society, and yet, what is a Christian’s stance?

Why did God bless the creation of the church? What was its’ purpose and focus? Was it just a gathering for believers to hide themselves away from society or find fellowship for their own? Was it a place where God’s select sang songs and memorized the Bible? Or, is it just possible that the church was, and is, a body of bold and courageous people that will not let the confused society around us destroy us? When we look at the Jesus, James, John, Peter, Timothy, Paul, Philip, and other New Testament leaders, what do you see? I don’t see them as people of position or self-adventure but as bold, brave, consistent, hungry, learners who reached out in Christ’s name by doing whatever it takes to be impactful! The leaders of the church didn’t seek comfort or position but desired that their lives had meaning in service to the Father. For their efforts, it sometimes brought them in conflict with their society and there was a price to be paid…

1) John the Baptist: Beheaded Luke: Hanged
2) Jesus, Andrew, Peter: All Crucified
3) Stephen, Philip, Timothy: All stoned to death
4) Barnabas, Thomas: Burned Alive and Tortured

The USA President, who was assassinated in 1963, John F. Kennedy often asked, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” Instead of accepting a society as hopelessly lost, should we not also be asking ourselves, “Ask not what our church can do for us but what we can for our church?” Let us not fear the values of our surrounding society but ask ourselves how we can engage with that society to show Christ!

 

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在新时代,想不通是正常的

我很想不通!我最近读到一个22岁男子殴打他有身孕的前女友,导致她的胎儿流产,因此他犯了“杀害婴儿”罪?与此同时,如果一个组织或医生为妇女堕胎,却被视为“解决问题”而不是杀人?为什么一个被认为是谋杀,另一个却是视为选择的权力?怎么可能这妇人的胎儿算是婴孩,而另一个人的却不是呢?一致性似乎不是我们这个社会的特性,而基督徒的立场呢?

上帝为什么祝福教会的设立呢?它的目的及焦点是什么呢?它是否只是信徒聚在一起,躲避外面的社会,只寻找他们自己的团契?或它是一个地方让上帝的选民唱诗歌及背诵圣经?或者教会可能曾是,仍是一群有胆量,有勇气的人,不被围绕我们的伦乱社会所摧毁?当我们看耶稣、雅各、约翰、彼得、提摩太、保罗、腓力及其他的新约领袖们,你看到什么? 我没看到他们是有地位或热爱冒险的人,但他们却有胆量、有勇气、言行一致、灵命饥渴、踊跃学习,凭着基督的名做任何需要做的事。教会领袖不是寻求舒适及地位,而是渴望他们的生命对侍奉天父有意义。他们的努力有时会让他们跟社会有所冲突, 他们付上代价:

  • 施洗约翰:被斩首。 路加:被吊死
  • 耶稣、安德烈、彼得:都被钉十字架
  • 司提反、腓力、提摩太:都被石头打死
  • 巴拿巴、多马:活活被折磨,烧死。

1963年遇刺身亡的美国总统约翰ž肯尼迪常问说:“不要问你的国家为你做什么,要问你可以为你的国家做什么?”与其接受一个无望迷失的社会,我们应该问自己的不是教会可以为我们做什么,而是我们可以为我们的教会做什么。让我们不要惧怕我们所在社会的价值观,要问我们自己如何可以在这样的社会中参与和彰显出基督。