Blog::Sharing

The Wise Men and the Unwise King

A very 21st century question to ask when reading the account in Matthew 2:1-12 is "what has Jesus done for the wise men that they were willing to travel 1000 miles from Babylon to Bethlehem to see, worship, and offer gifts to a young boy?"

What can a 2-year old boy do for a priestly caste who seemingly have everything the world can offer at the time?

Probably not much.

Yet, this group of wise men are wiling to endure the harshness in the desert. The heat of day and the cold of night. The chapped lips, cracked skins, snakes, scorpions, bandits, dehydration, quick sands, and the uncertainty if their endeavor would actually lead them to what they were looking for: King of the Jews.

How about the Unwise King in Jerusalem, which is merely 5 milesaway from Bethlehem. The Scriptures tells us that when he and the spiritual leaders learned about where the Messiah is they didn't bother to lift a finger! These are the leaders of a people whom God had shown lovingkindness (hesed) over, over, and over throughout her existence.

What about you, readers of the blog. If you are a believer, I hope you would worship like the wise men did. John 4:23 tells us that God is looking for true worshipers who would worship Him in spirit and truth. If that's not the church, who else is it gonna be?

Sushi Making Adventure

What happens when Iron Chef evolves into Sushi Making?

...

Great job guys and no one got food poisoning!! Best Uni I've ever had too

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Gifts and Gives: Search our gifts & seek for transformation

When we are weak, God is strong. Amen? Yet how many of us allow God to make use of our weakness, realize His strength, and let Him transform ourselves?  Are we opening our heart and listen to God’s words for us?

We would seek God when we are weak. We would ask for God’s comfort when we confront difficult times.  However, do we search inside our heart for transformation? God works in our life through the Holy Spirit. Once we open our heart and listen carefully, we would be able to find our direction in walking the path that God has led us throughout our life.

God has given us the power and strength. Not only we can stand strong against the hardships but also have the power to turn our weakness in glorifying him. As we trust in Him, He will transform us to be His bold followers. (Acts 1:8)

Have we realized that God has given each of us a gift? And perhaps we might have already received more than one gift from God. Though, are we using the gifts in a good way?

Some people might have talent in music, so they could use their talent to serve God through worship songs. However, many of us might not be able to discover our talent as easily. Some of us might be a good leader while some are good listener. Some could have a big heart for sheltering the small ones when the others could have a small careful heart for detail. No matter what kind of people are we, we have something that God has granted us and He wants us to use it to help each other. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

As for myself, I am glad that God has given me the skills to serve Him through different media. As I am writing this blog, I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to show me how to transform myself and use my gift from God in a better way so that He can use me to help others.

Why Sunday Worship?

I believe that Sunday worship projects the reality in heaven (Rev. 4:8-11; 14:7) unto earthy realm. Every week when we worship God together, we taste a sample of what heaven is like. It is important for believers to realize that heaven is not an abstract concept to be physically actualized in the future. It is a present reality. It is important that we appreciate corporate worship as a heavenly activity being manifested here on earth. In heaven, multitudes from all nations, tribes, and tongues gather together to bow down before God. Along with the angels and other heavenly beings, creatures fulfill what they are created to do: worship the Creator God. When believers gather to worship, the same purpose is fulfilled on earth. We join an activity that is ongoing in heaven. We become part of the picture Apostle John sees in Revelation 7:9-10.

Sunday worship is important because it tells God’s story. As Robert Webber points out in his book “Ancient Future Worship,” God’s story emphasizes the Creation-Incarnation-Recreation framework. In this framework, Webber affirms that God’s story includes individual salvation, but is beyond it. It involves the redemption of the entire creation. Individual worship tells God’s story in individual lives, corporate worship tells God’s Story in a grander scope.  

In creation, humankind is made for God’s glory, albeit the fellowship is lost because of sin. Corporate worship is the creation’s original purpose and it gives stage to creatures’ innate desire to worship the Creator. In incarnation, Jesus is the God incarnate who bears the sin for all. Corporate worship is a result of Jesus’ redeeming act where people saved by His blood gather to praise Him. In Recreation, heaven and earth are in perfect harmony and worship the only activity enduring from this world into the next. When we worship corporately, we anticipate and partially fulfill that glorious future together.

Sunday worship is important because it should be the culmination of our lifestyle. Peterson writes in his book, “Engaging God”, that worship is our physical and emotional response of encountering God. It consists of a cultic, sacrificial system in the Old Testament. It is a service rendered to God by a group of people. It communicates a reverential awe for the Lord. When believers gather to worship in the New Testament, they meet God and edify one another. These are not only activities but also attitudes a believer dispenses on a daily basis. We love God and we love one another unceasingly. But when we gather to worship, we witness and give thanks for the Gospel-transformation in other people’s lives. We share what God has been working in our lives with one another. We tell God’s story and we worship. Through this life-sharing, Gospel-centered interaction, we worship by maturing, witnessing, and edifying each other in the grace of God.

I believe Sunday worship should be important to believers because it is important to God. John 4:23-24 tells us that God is seeking true worshipers. It is in God’s nature to be worshiped because He is glorious. God’s glory calls attention to Himself. When believers gather to worship, we give God the attention He so rightly deserves. We proclaim God’s character amongst ourselves and to the rest of the world. We reenact God’s narrative in our gatherings. We pay homage to Christ who is the focal point of the Creation-Incarnation-Recreation story. We direct each other’s praises to God. We tell the world that God is worthy of humankind’s praise, and submission.

Another reason for the importance of Sunday worship is its declaration of God’s reign and God’s kingship. The Chronicler exhorts “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" (1Ch 16:31 ESV)” When we worship, we affirm He is the ruler of the universe. In addition, corporate worship reveals our unique, intimate relationship with God. Psalm 95:6-7 says it very clearly, that we worship because of this covenantal and unbreakable relationship. “Come! Let's bow down and worship! Let's kneel before the LORD, our creator! For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture, the sheep he owns.”

All believers should realize how important Sunday worship is. We should be properly preparing ourselves every week before we meet our Maker and King. We should quiet our hearts and focus our attention on Christ during worship hours. We should edify each other. We should be fully convinced that the gathering is a spiritual, relational, and theocentric one because God is whom we worship and how we have a unique, covenantal relationship with Him.

The Man in the Background

Acts 11:19-30

Sunday's message zeroed in on Barnabas. He was a good man, filled with the Spirit and faith. His selflessness and Kingdom vision lead him to seek out Paul in Tarsus. Having witnessed the work of God in Paul's life and ministry, Barnabas decided to bring Paul to Antioch and helped him integrate into the community of God. He spent a whole year with Paul there, working with him and encouraging him...

We are all familiar with the success of Paul's ministry. We marvel at the sheer amount of miles he traveled for the Gospel's sake. We admire his writing 2/3 of the New Testament. But how much do we appreciate Barnabas' selflessness and Kingdom vision without which, the ministry of Paul could have been very different. I know I rarely do. During sermon Pastor Wong quoted President Reagan, "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."

This made me contemplate....

I can think of at least 3 people with the kind of impact Barnabas has in my life. Their influence changed how I think and how I behave. At some point in my life, it was because of them, my faith deepened and my walk with God grew closer. I will always remember how they have encouraged me and been there for me when I needed the most. But sadly I cannot think of anyone I had been a Barnabas to. I tried really hard to think of a name or a face - a person whom I invested my life into so deeply because I knew how much God loves them. There are a few candidates.... But none would really qualifies me as a Barnabas....

Pastor Wong concluded the sermon by praying that God would give us the heart to develop the character that lies within a Barnabas. I pray that as a Christian brother, I will have the faith, spirit, vision, and others-centeredness of Barnabas to encourage and to love.

recap: Worship in Spirit and Truth (Read Job 1.)

Last Sunday was our Prayer Sunday. During the first part of the service, we had a little personal devotional time.  What do you gain from reading this scripture? Do you think that you'd think differently to read this again? Here is the recap of the devotional: 

In Job 1:1-5, the Bible tells us that Job was a righteous man. He respected God and turned away from evil. As an owner of massive possessions, he made time to offer intercessory prayers for his children on a daily basis because he was deeply concerned with his children’s relationships with God.

Interpreting Job's life with the Gospel lens (Cf. Rom 12:1-3, Gal 5:22-24; 2 Peter 1:3-7), one would conclude that Job lived a worshipful lifestyle.

Then Satan the accuser came into the scene. In Job 1:6-19, God summoned Satan as he presented himself in the heavenly court. In this portion of the scripture, God revealed His unchallengeable power by allowing his enemy in His presence. By setting the terms and conditions of the test God also revealed His sovereignty over Satan.

Thus begins Job's trials. Job learnt of his loss in a dramatic fashion. In split seconds, his world fell apart. His entire livestock was either destroyed or taken away. His means of livelihood ceased to exist. He went from abundantly self-sufficient to desperately dependent on the mercy of others. His house, sons, and daughters were not spared either. In a blink of an eye, he lost his home and the people he loved the most. His identity and worth were ruined and his life was turned upside-down.

But his purpose as a creature remained intact because his Creator has not changed. Job understood and Job WORSHIPED (Job 1:20-22). Worship was Job's instinct, his spiritual muscle's reflex to pain. Throughout the entire book of Job, we learned that worship dictated his attitude toward the affliction he was in.

Exactly what is a worshipful attitude in life's toughest times? Job showed us it was not pointing a finger at God or others. Satan accused, Job's wife accused, and his three friends accused. Job did not. Worship means to surrender one's understanding to God’s reigning. Worship means clinging to the person of YHWH rather than demanding an explanation. Instead of asking God "Why?", praising His goodness and sovereignty. Worship means dispensing grace and forgiveness instead of maintaining bitterness and a critical spirit. Worship means active and honest engagement with God and His people rather than retreating into a shell of self-pity and loneliness. Worship means honestly expressing emotions to God and yet all at the same time hoping for a future resolution.

John 4 tells us that God is searching for people who worship Him in spirit and truth. Are you the person God is looking for?

 

A grown up child

When we were still a little kid, we probably had different thoughts of making ourselves to grow faster and become more mature. How about in God’s eyes? Do you think that you are God’s child who is seeking ways to let yourselves become more spiritually mature?

I was challenged with two questions near the end of last Sunday’s sermon. Our guess speaker, Jerome Hsu, asked the church "What hold you back from growing faith in your life?" And "Would you have the guts to disciple others?" It seems easy to say a quick answer for both questions, but your answers may undertake many responsibilities and promises between you and God.

Jerome reminded all of us in his sermon that spiritual maturity must be the first priority in our life. Yet, how many of us treat our spiritual life seriously enough and always remain our focus in our lifetime goal of seeking spiritual growth? To make our goal even more challenging, spiritual growth does not come itself and happen on its own. Then, a question may come to our mind, how can we possibly grow spiritually and strengthen our faith?

It’s encouraging to be reminded during the sermon that our faith is base on God. No other people or place can substitute Him. It is dangerous to put our faith based in situations because we could be distracted by different circumstances. We might make excuses and lost our direction in following God. So, now that we know what is not good for our spiritual growth, we can ask ourselves "what help us to keep growing our faith in God?" Could it be reading the Bible? Fellowship? Pray? Or other ways? Maybe we should start gathering our thoughts of what things benefit us, and start doing them today. Next time when we are being asked "Would you have the guts to disciple others?", all of us can step forward and say "Yes" firmly. We can become God’s grown up child.   

-a

 

Growth in Jesus

This week, Roy Tinklenberg spoke to us about the development of Jesus as a young man.  The Bible gives us only one verse to describe these formational years: Luke tells us that Jesus "increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).  Out of these phrases, Roy drew a parallel with the famous "Love the Lord your God" passage in Deuteronomy 6: Jesus grew in wisdom (love the Lord your God with all your mind), stature (love the Lord with all your strength, developing healthy and self-controlled patterns of living), favor with God (love the Lord with all your soul, growing closer in relationship with him) and favor with man (with all your heart, loving others and growing in relationship with them).  Roy reminded us that God's desire for us is to make us more like Christ, which means growing and maturing us in all four of these areas.  He asked us to consider where we are in these areas, and how we might encourage one another in community to support our continued growth.

I personally found Roy's message very convicting.  I'm used to thinking of my life with God in a little bit of a "spiritual bubble" -- if I'm praying and reading the Bible, I feel like I'm doing "good enough".  It's easy to forget that discipleship involves every part of our lives -- and for me the "strength" and "heart" were particularly convicting.  If I'm burning the candle at both ends and not getting enough sleep or eating right, it's easy to think of it as a "non-spiritual" problem, but these things affect how much I'm able to give my strength to God and allow him to work through me.  And it's easy for me to think of "favor with man" as something either off to the side or irrelevant to spiritual life (since we're not out for our own glory, after all), but that doesn't diminish how God wants to bless and bring joy to others through us for his own glory -- and it's convicting for me to think how often I see this not happening, and how easily I excuse myself for it.

What do we do with these convictions?  Our natural tendency is often to "dig deeper", but it's important to ground ourselves first in the big picture.  The story we're seeking to live into isn't how we worked ourselves hard enough to impress God in these four areas.  It's how God entered into our weakness and changed us through Himself to make us more like Christ.  And so the verse in Deuteronomy begins with loving God.  Coming to him, warming ourselves in His grace, knowing the freedom of His gospel.  And then responding in a real love -- a love that doesn't just open up "the spiritual parts" of our lives (though those are very important), but a love that opens up every part of our lives in the joy of living to seek and meet and serve and glorify Jesus in every way that we can, with everything that we are.

Even with this grounding, experiencing growth in all of these areas is a difficult process that requires obedience.  It does require "digging deep", and it still takes real challenges, real steps in faith, real persistence, real perseverance.  And as long as we're in this world, we'll know the feeling of wanting to love God with all our heart and strength when our hearts feel cold and our strength feels spent.  I often come back to the kid with the five loaves and two fish.  When we open ourselves in obedience to God and seek to grow in him, we'll often be reminded of how little we have in ourselves to start with, and we'll be tempted to discouragement.  But God invites us to still come, knowing and trusting that as we put our lives into His hands, he has the power to show Jesus through us in amazing ways.

-mt

The Busy Bees of Jesus' Hive

Guest speaker Pastor Dennis Low began this week's message with the following secular parable:

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

-Author Unkown

Clever, Aesopian, and cynical, this fable made me simultaneously grin and grimace with recognition. We have all either known or been an "Everybody," a "Somebody," an "Anybody," or a "Nobody."

Where are these characters? In the school project that places you in random groups. In the day-in and day-out of household chores. In boardroom meetings at work. Everywhere. Even at church. But you knew that.

The Everybodies, Somebodies, Anybodies, and Nobodies are all part of another body: the body of Christ.

If you've ever visited the English congregation at HOC6, you will know that we are not the biggest Jesus posse on the block. This means that we know each and every person by name. This also means that when there is work to be done, we especially need the spiritual gifts of Everybody. True of churches both mega and mini, this tenet may appear to be a greater responsibility (or burden) to those on the smaller end of the spectrum, like us.

Sometimes I see HOC6 peeps pulling double- or even triple-duty. They do it with a smile, too. This is a testament not to resources, but to attitude. You see, the four fellows in the above tale didn't accomplish anything due to lack of money, time, or stamina, but because of their skewed perspective.   

While the Nobodies are still out there, I'm encouraged by the bodies—the members of the body of Christ—whose actions seek to selflessly glorify Him.

-k