A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: My Surgery and the Good God 我的手術與美善的神

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle:  My Surgery and the Good God  我的手術與美善的神

As I reflected upon my personal life the past year, this Easter is especially special because I had a “resurrection” of sorts. April 3 a year ago (2017), I was under the knife at a hospital in San Francisco and by the grace of God and under the skilled hands of a heart surgeon and his team of doctors, he replaced my aortic valve and a part of my aorta. It took him and his team about 6 hours to get both jobs done. I stayed overnight at the Coronary Intensive Care Unit and was released to the general ward the following morning. The surgery was a success. A week later, I was discharged. Praise God! But the procedure and its outcome were a God moment for me. It defined for me that God is not finished with me and that there is yet work for me to do. For you see, I had just retired three months prior and at 70, I was seeking how the good Lord was going to lead me in my retirement after being in ministry for more than 45 years.

The surgery was not unexpected but the timing of it was. I had known for quite a while that I needed one but my cardiologist suggested that if I changed my lifestyle and lose weight I might postpone the inevitable when new technology might become available to make the procedure less invasive. By God’s grace and sheer determination, I did both quite well and lost 50 pounds within a matter of 6 months and kept it off for more than 6 years. (I had to replace my entire wardrobe though, as a small price to pay!) There was no personal trainer, no expensive equipment, no fancy gear and walking/running shoes, no health club subscriptions, and no over rated diet meals. But my “quite well” was not good enough. What I had was congenital. I was born with a defective valve and it had served me well all those years but it was ready to “give up the ghost”!

But there was more bad news to come. My cardiologist advised that since she was going to fix my heart, she was going to do a more comprehensive examination to see if there were other related issues that I had so that the team could fix it all at the same time. My arteries were clear and so, there was no need for a bypass. But she found that my aorta was inflamed. Its walls had thinned and there was a real danger that it might rupture. She recommended a replacement! So, I discovered that I needed not only one but two procedures. What a bummer!

Any surgical procedure carries its risks and having two done at the same time would carry more risks. She assured me that even though I was not young, I was relatively quite healthy and I would have a better chance for a full recovery. But odds are still odds! Her assurance notwithstanding, I had a lot of peace facing the two procedures. This was because I knew assuredly and had lived it out all my life since becoming a believer as a teenager that:

1. I am a child of God and a servant of the Lord. He is my Heavenly Father who loves me and cares for me more than I or anyone could ever love and care for my well-being.

2. My life is in God’s hands. If He deems that my time on earth is done, He’ll take me home and I have no qualms about it, for as the apostle Paul intimates, “To be at home with the Lord, that’s wonderful!” (Philippians 1:23) But, if He chooses to heal me, which is easy for Him to do as the Great Physician, He has work yet for me to do and my humble response is to once again say, “Thank you God for another opportunity at life. Here I am, I am ready to hit the road again!” Therefore, whether He heals me or not, that’s God’s prerogative, not mine! My goal in life is to submit to His will for me. I am in good hands – God’s hands – either way! What a blessed reality!

But there were voices around me – yes, even from some believers – that were not so assuring. They began to ask “Why?”. Some of the louder ones were: “Why (the surgery) now that you are retired?”; “You have served God all your adult life and this is what you get from Him as a retirement present?”; “You deserve a good retirement and enjoy life and now this!”

Questions are good. But questions are revealing! The kinds of questions we ask give us an idea about some of the values we hold about life: That we are entitled to the “good” life free of worries, suffering and pain; that we really know what the “good” for us is; and that the “good” God is to serve us right. But all these values fly in the face of what the Bible teaches about life and what the Bible reveals who this God is. But was my surgery really a “bad” thing to happen to me when I had just retired and was supposedly to be enjoying my life’s second half?

By all accounts, my surgery was a good thing, even though I suffered from some side effects and an inconvenience to my lifestyle. But those were not “bad” things. Because of the surgery, my defective valve was replaced. More importantly, my cardiologist discovered another condition in my aorta which, if not remedied in time, could result in my life ending in a jiffy if it were to rupture! Because of the surgery and its aftermath, it helped me to be more careful about what I eat and what I put into my food (I love to cook!). It helped me to enjoy food as what real food is supposed to taste like without additional flavor! As a result, I lost another 30 pounds! I now have my optimal weight for my height and I intend to keep it that way! Therefore, those are not really the “bad” as we see “bad”.

The really “bad” that has happened to us as humanity is the result of sin, humanity’s willful rebellion against the good God. The effect of sin is the “bad” has become the “good” and unless the “good” becomes God’s “good” again, we will see more suffering, more pain and more unhappiness. Jesus said, “… In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) That is the message of Easter, the message of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. God the Son, Jesus Christ, came into this world to show us how much God the Father loved us and cared for us (John 1:18), paid the penalty for our sins and died on the cross, was buried, and on the third day, rose again (I Corinthians 15:3-4), conquering death and the power of sin over us (Romans 6:1-10). And God gave us Himself, God the Holy Spirit, to empower us to live our lives according to the “good” He has planned for us right from the very beginning. (Deuteronomy 10:12-22)

The world we live in is a fallen and a sinful one. So, what are we to expect? The “bad” things that happen to us are already a given. But how are we to live in a world whose values are warped by sin and we are in the thick of it? The only way is to return to the good God and to allow Him to transform us to live what life really is about with His power and strength where the good is really good! Acknowledge to God that you are a sinner and your need for forgiveness. Believe that Christ has died for your sins. Confess that Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord of your life. When you do that, life will never be the same again. You will see life with its warts and all from a more accurate perspective.

I did that at 16 when God drew me to Himself and I could never fathom then and now, how that one decision I made has brought me this far – life with so much meaning and purpose – except by His mercy and grace. You could have it too! Why won’t you?

我的手術與美善的神

當我在回顧自己過去一年的日子,這個復活節顯得額外特別,因為我如經歷了「復活」。一年前的4月3日(2017年),我在舊金山的醫院開了刀. 靠著上帝的恩典,在心臟手術醫生和他的團隊的熟練操作之下,他更換了我的主動脈瓣,及部分大動脈。他們用了大約6個小時才完成了這兩項工作。手術后我在特護病房過了一夜,第二天早上即被轉到普通病房。手術是成功的。一周後,我出院了。讚美神!但手術程序及其結果對我來說是 一個 「屬靈的經歷」。它讓我確定了我尚未能向上帝交差。祂尚有工作交給我。瞧,三個月之前我剛剛滿七十歲退休,正在尋求神在我事奉超過45年後,將如何預備我退休後的日子。

手術雖是意料中事,但時間卻不!早已明白這個手術是無法避免的,但我的心臟科醫生建議,如果我改變了生活方式並減輕體重,那麼或可能推遲到有新技術面市,而可避免大手術。憑藉上帝的恩典和果決,我做得相當不錯。在6個月內減掉了50磅,並保持了6年以上。 (儘管我必須更換我的整個衣櫃,成為我一小代價!)沒有私人教練,沒有昂貴的器材設備,沒有花哨裝備和步行/跑步鞋,沒有參加健身俱樂部,也沒有超級的減肥餐。但是我的 「 相當不錯」還不夠好!我的病是先天性的。這些年日它操作得很好,但是顯然它已經 「到期」了!

但,又有更多壞消息來臨!我的心臟科醫生建議說,既然要修護我的心瓣,她將會做一個更全面的檢查,確定是否還有其他相關的問題,以便團隊能同時解決。我的動脈很清晰,所以不需要作架橋/做支架的手術。但是她發現,我的主動脈有發炎現象,它的内壁變薄了。因它可能會破裂,所以存在真正的危險。她建議更換! 因此我發現我不是只需要一個,而且需要兩個手術。真是捯霉!

任何手術過程都有一定風險,同時進行兩個手術可能會帶來更多風險。但她說,雖然我並不年輕,身體比較健康,我有很好的機會完全恢復。但風險還是風險!儘管有她的保證,但我在面臨這兩個手術前,心中卻充滿了平安。這是因為由我青年信主到現今都抱着一個意念而活。這就是:

1. 我是神的孩子,是主的僕人。祂是我的天父,祂愛我並且比任何人都關心我。

2. 我的生命在神的手中。如果祂認為我在世的時間已經完了,祂會帶我回天家。我對此毫無疑慮。因為正如使徒保羅所說的,“與基督同在,是好得無比的!“(腓立比書1:23 )但是,如果祂選擇醫治我,這對祂來說很容易,因他是偉大的醫師。若祂還有工作給我,我定謙卑的再次回應說:“感謝神給我再次有生命。我在這裡!請差遣我! 我會再上路!”因此,無論祂是否治好我,這是神的特權,不是我的!我的人生目標是服從祂的旨意。無論如何,在神的手中是多麼蒙福的!

但是我周圍有許多人的聲音! 甚至有些信徒,都不那麼確定。他們開始問 “為什麼?”。其中一些更響亮的聲音:“為什麼手術在這時刻呢?”; “你一輩子服事神而你剛退休,祂就給你那麼大的退休禮物?”; “你該好好享受退休生活,而現在這個來臨…!”

問問題是好的。但所問的問題顯明了我們對生命的價值觀:我們有資格享受「好」 的生活、沒有憂慮,痛苦而我們認知甚麼是「好」 。而「 好」的上帝是應當給我們所認為是「好」的東西。但是,所有這些價值觀都不是聖經教導的!但當我剛剛退休時,需要動的手術是否是「壞事」呢? 或說退休是我該享受人生的下半場的時候?

儘管手術后我遭受了一些後遺症,給我的生活帶來了不便,但動手術是正確的。這些並不是壞事。由於手術,我有缺陷的心瓣被更換了。更重要的是,我的心臟科醫生在我的主動脈中發現了另一種情況,如果沒有及時糾正,可能會導致我的生命快速結束!於手術後,它幫助我更加小心飲吃,和我放入食物的調料(我非常喜歡烹飪!)。它幫助我真正享受到食物,吃出食物的原味道!結果,我又輕了30磅!目前我的體重比較標準。我打算保持這種狀態!因此,那些不是我們看到 「壞」 的「壞」。

人類所經歷的真正「壞」是源于罪惡,以及人類故意叛逆神的後果。罪的效果是將 「壞」變為「善」。除非他們的「善」再次成為神的「善」,否則他們會看到更多的痛苦,更多的悲哀和更多的不快樂。耶穌說:“ … 在世上你們有患難,但你們放心,我已經勝了這世界!”(約翰福音16:33)這就是復活節的信息,是耶穌基督死亡和復活的信息。神子,耶穌基督來到這個世界,向我們表明天父上帝的愛(約翰福音1:18),為我們的罪付了刑罰,死在十字架上,被埋葬,在第三天復活(哥林多前書15:3-4),征服了死亡和罪的權勢(羅馬書6:1-10)。神將自己賜給我們,著聖靈使我們能夠按照祂從起初計劃的「善」來過我們的生活。 (申命記10:12-22)

我們生活的世界是一個墮落的世界,一個有罪惡的世界。那麼,我們期待什麼。發生在我們身上的「壞」事已經是一個必然的事實。但我們如何生活在一個世界它的價值觀已受到罪的歪曲?而我們生活在其中?唯一的方法就是回到善良的天父上帝那裡,讓祂以祂的力量改變我們的生活方式,生活在真正「好」的狀況!向上帝承認你是罪人,你需要被赦免。相信基督已經為你的罪而死。承認耶穌基督是你的救主和你生命的主。當你這樣做時,生活將永遠不再一樣。你會從患難中更明確的角度看生命及人生。

當我16歲的時候,上帝把我帶到自己身邊。我永遠無法理解,當時我做出的這個決定,靠祂的憐憫和恩典,會如此帶領我人生充滿意義和目的。你也可以擁有它!你不願意嗎?

A Rope of Sand with Strength of Steel 有著鋼鐵力量的一條沙子繩

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: A Rope of Sand with Strength of Steel 有著鋼鐵力量的一條沙子繩

As the Local Arrangement Committee of the Fellowship made final plans to get the publicity materials and registration information of the 20th Biennial Conference out to the churches, I was truly amazed by the teamwork they displayed. All of them were busy pastors serving in their respective churches and yet they could find the time to meet and get the job done. And they did it joyfully and voluntarily. There will be more meetings and work ahead of them as the Conference draws near. Hats off to them!

The way they work together illustrates for me what really makes the Fellowship work. I have always contended that the existence of a Fellowship itself in Baptist polity is nothing short of a miracle. It is not supposed to happen considering that each Baptist church is a local autonomous entity and independent in governance. In Baptist polity, there is no one body outside the local church that tells it how it is to do church or even what it should believe. A Fellowship is comprised of churches of like faith and order who voluntarily come together for mutual encouragement and edification to engage in a cause that is larger than themselves. What binds them together is not an adherence to rules that compel them to come together by virtue of membership in a denomination but a commitment to a cause through voluntary participation in fellowship with one another. And the synergy of churches coming together this way would unleash a power for good, when harnessed in the right way, for the cause of Christ and for His Kingdom’s work. In the words of the great Southern Baptist statesman of another generation, Dr. James Sullivan, it is “a rope of sand with strength of steel.”

This has been the strength of Southern Baptists. The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the US and it became large and strong not because it has a structure with the head calling the shots. Far from it. They may have a building that houses their administrative offices in a particular state, but it is never referred to as their “headquarters”. There is none! The Convention exists for the church not the other way around. Without churches, there is no Convention but without the Convention, there would still be churches. (Very biblical!) The annual meeting held over a couple of days called “The Southern Baptist Convention” is attended by messengers sent by member churches, and they are not delegates. (Big differences between the two but that’s for another day!) In fact, that’s the real Convention and after the meeting, messengers bring their reports back to the churches about the decisions made at the meeting and it is totally up to the churches to join in implementing them. In conventional terms, it would seemed like a total waste of time and the least efficient way to “run” a large denomination and sooner or later everyone would throw up their hands and give up! But no!

The glue that held the member churches together as a group (called a “denomination”) was an undying commitment to a cause – the fulfillment of the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ – and that is to make disciples of all nations, to proclaim the Gospel to everyone, and to be witnesses for Him both near and far. And because of this commitment, they gave to the “Cooperative Program” to fund the activities of the denomination; they gave large amounts every year to missions through the Annie Armstrong Mission Offering for North American missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions; they supported ministries under the ambit of the “denomination” be that missions, publishing, theological education, community concerns and so on.

The same is true for the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the US and Canada. It is never intended to be an added burden to the churches or another Christian organization to support. The Fellowship exists for the church and is a servant of the church. It provides the platform for a people called Baptist through which they could share resources that would enable all churches, big or small, strong or weak, with or without resources to fulfill the Great Commission and to obey the Great Commandment. By focusing on a particular ethnic group, it is able to hone in more effectively the peculiar and unique needs of that group. Our coming together as a Fellowship is compelled not by command but by a commitment to a cause – to bring together our resources to encourage each other and to help one another to preach the Gospel to everyone and to make disciples of all nations and to obey the Great Commandment, to love God and neighbor. It is never intended to replace the role and the function of the church or become a super church. It exists at the will of the churches so that they can do what no one individual church can do all by themselves. “A rope of sand with strength of steel” indeed for the glory of God!

當聯會本地籌委員會為著要把第二十屆雙年會的宣傳資料和註冊信息送到各教會去而做最後的計劃時,他們的團隊合作精神實在讓我感到驚喜。 他們都是在各自教會中忙碌的牧師,但他們都騰出時間去商議並完成工作。 他們甘心樂意地做了這件事。 會議即將召開,屆時將有更多的會議和工作等著他們。 在此向他們致敬!

他們一起工作的方式說明了聯會如何能有效地工作。我一直認為在浸信會的體制中,聯會的存在,本身就是一個奇蹟。在考慮到每個浸信會都是一個地方自治實體,獨立自理,這原不應該發生。在浸信會體制中,在地方教會之外,沒有一個機構能吩咐她該如何進行教會事工,甚是該相信什麼。聯會是由信仰和體制相同的教會所組成,他們自願地聚在一起,彼此鼓勵和建立,從事比自己更大的事業。把她們連結在一起的,並不是靠著持守著一些規條,或因著她們是一個宗派的成員而強迫她們加入,而是通過自願參與,並彼此團契來致力於一個事業。教會這樣彼此協力,就能發出美善的力量,以正確的方式來成就為基督的聖工和祂國度的工作。用另一個世代的美南浸信會領袖詹姆斯·沙利文博士的話來說,這是“有著鋼鐵力量的一條沙子繩"。

這是美南浸信會的力量。美南浸信會是美國最大的基督教宗派,她變得強大,並不是因為它有著一個能發號施令的領導的結構。根本不是這樣。他們可能在某一個州有一個建築物,來安放他們的行政辦公室,但卻從沒有稱哪裡為他們的“總部”。根本就沒有!聯會是為著教會而存在, 而不是倒過來的。沒有教會,就沒有聯會,但沒有聯會,仍然會有教會。 (非常符合聖經!)那稱為“美南浸信會聯會",有著幾天的年會,由會員派出的會使出席,他們不是代表。 (兩者之間有很大的分歧,留待將來再討論!)事實上,這是真正的聯會,會後,會使把有關會議上所做的決定的報告帶回教會,至於是否推行這些決議,則完全取決於教會。在一般的情況下,這似乎是浪費時間,並且是運作一個大宗派的最低效率的方式,遲早每個人都會放手不理!但實情卻不是這樣。

把會員們召集在一起的粘合劑(稱為“宗派”)是對一個目標的不倦的承諾 – 成就主耶穌基督的大使命 – 就是讓萬民作主的門徒,向所有人傳播福音,並且不論遠近為主作見證。 由於這個承諾,他們奉獻給“合作計劃”來資助宗派的活動; 他們每年都通過“安妮莊復活節獻金”來支持北美宣教,和“慕拉第聖誕獻金”來支持海外宣教; 他們對“宗派”事工支持的範圍有宣教,出版,神學教育,和社區關懷等等。

美加華人浸信會聯會也是如此。她從來沒有打算成為教會的額外的負擔或另一個要支持的基督教組織。聯會是為著教會而存在,是教會的僕人。她為一個被稱為浸信會的人們提供了一個平台。通過這個平台,他們可以分享資源,使所有的教會,無論大小、強弱,有無資源都能完成大使命,服從大誡命。通過專注於一個特定的族群,她能夠更有效地切合該群體的特殊和獨特的需求。作為聯會,我們攜手合作,不是靠著命令,而是靠著對使命的承諾 – 把我們的資源集中在一起,互相鼓勵,互相幫助,把福音傳給每一個人,讓萬民成為主的門徒,服從偉大的誡命,愛上帝和鄰居。聯會從來沒有打算取代教會的角色和功能,或成為一個超級教會。她的存是在乎教會的意向,以使他們能做成任何人都不能自己單獨做成的事情。 “有著鋼鐵力量的一條沙子繩"的確是為了上帝的榮耀!

On the GO for the Gospel 為福音而去!

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: On the GO for the Gospel
(Updated January 15 2018)

I recently attended the Chinese Mission Convention West 2017 (CMC) organized by the Ambassadors for Christ in Ontario, California. This was the second convention on the west coast of the US and the theme was:  Unleashed – Together for God’s Global Glory. It drew some 3,500 participants, young and old, from all over the west coast with everyone focused on unleashing the resources that God has given to the Chinese believers. It was a great time of learning from God’s word, from God’s servants and a dynamic synergy of God’s people with the same passion of reaching the world for Jesus Christ. We were encouraged to move beyond our own ethnocentricity to become cross cultural in our mindset as we step up to the plate of world evangelization.

Chinese Christians are a blessed people. The Gospel came to them through the efforts of faithful men and women who heeded God’s call to them to bring the message of salvation to a lost and sinful world. These missionaries were not perfect people nor their strategies for evangelization perfect, but God, as sovereign Lord, used them all – jars of clay that contained an immensely valuable treasure, so to speak – for His glory and honor. The time has come for Chinese believers to emulate these who have gone before, faithful men and women who fulfilled our Lord Jesus Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations, to preach the Gospel to everyone, and to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. And just as the Father has sent Him, He sends them forth. But to who? Where?

When we think about evangelization, we think of missions; and when we think of missions, we think of where;  and when we think of where, we usually think of some places far away from home. Certainly, there is a place for that considering there are still hundreds of Unreached and Unengaged People Groups (UUPGs) in the world who have yet to have the Gospel brought to them in a meaningful way.  We were among the UUPGs at the beginning modern Christian missions.  Had it not been for missionaries who came, we would still be lost in our sins. But in a globalized village such as ours today, we discover that the world has come to our doorsteps and perhaps camping out in our own backyards.

Who would go to them if not us. Some of us may be called to go to the UPGs and UUPGs but all of us are called to go to our own backyards, our schools, our offices, our families,  the market places and everywhere God sends us in the ordinary places we find ourselves, to live out the Christian life before people as a testimony of one who was lost but now found, blind but now see, hopeless but has now found hope and a new life in Jesus Christ. Go, show and tell!

Missions is not just about places, it’s about people – reaching people with the Gospel wherever they are found.  And that includes those in your own backyard!

 

同軛手紀:為福音而去!
2018年1月15日

最近,我參加了在南加州安大略市 (Ontario) 由「基督使者協會」 (使者) 主辦的「2017 美西華人差傳大會」(CMC West 2017)。這是使者在西岸舉行的第二次差傳大會。大會主題是「破繭齊出,同頌主榮」,吸引了來自西岸各地約3,500名基督徒出席參加。每位參加者都非常關注如何能發揮神賦予華人信徒中各樣的資源。 這是一個非常美好學習的時刻,從神的話語和衪僕人們的教導獲益良多。更難能可貴的是與一群充滿活力之上帝子民共聚互相激勵。大家懷著相同的心志和熱忱,要將耶穌基督的福音帶到世界每一個角落。當我們華人信徒要將福音遍傳整個世界的同時,我們要學習超越自己的民族主義思想,在思維中建立跨文化的概念。

華人基督徒是蒙神祝福的一群。 福音之所以能夠臨到華人,是因為曾經有很多對神懷著信心的先賢先哲,他們中有男有女,聽從上帝的呼召,把救恩的信息傳給這罪惡的世界,拯救失喪人的靈魂。 這些傳教士並不是完全人,他們也沒有傳福音的完美策略。但神在祂的主權下,使用不完全的人,彰顯衪的榮耀和尊貴。就好像寶貝藏在瓦器裡一樣。 如今,是時候華人基督徒起來,仿效那些走在我們前面的信心偉人。他們履行了我們的主耶穌基督的使命,使萬民作主的門徒,把福音遍傳,並在耶路撒冷、猶太全地、撒瑪利亞,直到地極作主的見證人。 正如天父差遣了主耶穌,主也!照樣差遣我們。但,我們傳福音的對象是誰? 我們去那裡傳呢?

當我們思想傳福音的時候,我們往往會想到宣教;當我們想到宣教的時候,我們會想到往那一個地方去;當我們想到那地方的時候,我們通常會想到,要離鄉別井,到遙遠的地方去。當然,這方面需要思想,因為世界上仍有數百個族群從未接觸過福音,可說這是福音尚未到達之地。這些族群被稱為「未得之民」(Unengaged and Unreached People Groups – UUPGs)。若不是宣教士將福音帶給我們, 我們仍迷失在罪惡之中。現今的世代,我們好像生活在一個全球化的村莊裡。我們會發現,世界並不遙遠,它已來到我們家的門前,或已在我們家的後院扎營。

這些身處我們家的門前或後院的人,如果我們不去尋找得著他們,誰會去呢? 我們基督徒中,有一些會被神呼召去那些福音未到遙遠之地和去接觸那未得福音之民。但肯定的是,所有基督徒都被神呼召進到我們的後院、我們的學校、我們的辦公室、我們的家庭、市場及神所要帶著我們日常去的地方,在人前活出基督徒的生命,見證神怎樣將我們從失喪中被尋回、從瞎眼得看見、從無望得在耶穌基督裡找到希望和新生命。 去! 活出福音的好處! 告訴未信的人吧!

宣教的重心不是地方,而是關乎人! 哪裡有人,哪裡就是宣教工場!

Modern Day Barnabasses 同軛手紀:現代巴拿巴

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: Modern Day Barnabasses
(Updated December 18 2017)

What a journey it was! The final leg of my two-week visit to the Northeastern part of the US ended with a visit with pastors and churches in New York City and Upstate New York. The freezing 15 degree Fahrenheit daytime temperature with blowing winds (making it feel colder than that) and white stuff falling in Rochester, Syracuse and Albany did not reflect the kind of reception and the warm fellowship we had with my fellow pastors there, akin to what I had experienced a week earlier in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
I feel so blessed to be in the company of pastors and ministers who are out in the forefront of ministry in different contexts, be that urban or suburban, intellectuals or grassroots, contending for the Gospel among the Chinese diaspora. These are the giants of the faith who labor faithfully each day in proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. May their tribe increase!
My orientation and initiation into my new role as Executive Director on this trip would not have been as productive and energizing for me had it not been for a group of people the Lord had placed in strategic places way before I had planned this trip. They were my “Barnabasses”. Remember when Paul became a believer in the Lord and God’s people avoided him like a plague because of his former reputation as a persecutor of Christians, it was Barnabas who took the initiative to vouch for him and to bring him into fellowship with the church in Jerusalem. (Acts 9: 26-27) Joanna and Amy in Hartford mobilized her church to pray for me and Ruth (my wife) and introduced me to her Pastors and other leaders in another church; Pastor Gideon were instrumental in introducing me to the Pastors and ministers in the Greater Boston area and regional and national Convention leaders; Pastor Gu made the initial connections with pastors in New York; and, Pastor Jeremy who served with NAMB made a special trip to be with me and took me around visiting pastors and churches and navigating the maze of routes in the NYC MTA subway system and also in Upstate New York. Kudos to them all.
Through the tour, God allowed me to catch a glimpse of the enormous power of networking through connecting with people, needs, and resources among Chinese Baptists in North America and how the work of the Fellowship could be done more effectively to edify the church for the glory of God.
During the past week, God gave me yet another glimpse of the power of coming together as a family of Baptists doing something meaningful that is edifying to God’s people and glorifying to Him when we raised $28,117 for our Disaster Relief ministry albeit just a little short of our target. This money will be well spent when it is distributed this week to families who have homes they could not go back to for Christmas due to Hurricane Harvey. A Pastor in Houston who is very much into the recovery efforts of Harvey in his own church remarked: Our funds at the church for disaster relief are almost depleted. Thank God for CBF in coming up with the means to help our families in time for Christmas. What a joy it is to serve a God who sees, who hears, who is concerned, and who has come down to rescue His people! (Exodus 3:7-8)
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all !

同軛手紀:現代巴拿巴
2017年12月18日更新

這是一個何等美好的旅程!我在美國東北部兩星期的旅程中,最後一站來到紐約市和紐約上州,並在那裡探訪了多間教會和多位牧者。該處,日間的氣溫是華氏15度,但因夾帶著強風和飄下來的雪,感覺就非常寒冷。但那裡的牧者們給我熱情的接待和彼此間甜蜜的團契,我感到無比的溫暖。同樣,一星期前在康州(Connecticut)和麻州(Massachusetts) 我也有此冷暖的經歷!
我感到非常蒙福能夠與這些牧者們相聚交通。他們身處前線作牧養和教導的服侍。在不同境況中,或是城市或郊區、或是知識分子或基層人士,他們都竭盡所能將福音傳給那散居在各地的華人。誠然,他們是信心的偉人,每天忠心地宣揚我們的主耶穌基督的福音。 願他們所服侍的群體興盛,得救人數,天天增加!
在我計劃這次行程之前,神早已將一群人放在各個戰略性的位置上。藉著與他們接觸,我得著激勵和豐盛的收穫,也啟動了我作為新任總幹事的事奉定位和方向。這群人可說是我的巴拿巴。記得當保羅成為主的門徒時,神的子民因他曾經迫害基督徒的惡名而視他如瘟疫逃避他。巴拿巴卻主動為他作擔保,把他帶到耶路撒冷教會的當中。(使徒行傳9:26-27) 同樣,在哈城 (Hartford) 的龍姊妹和聶姊妹動員她的教會為我和我的師母婉華禱告,並將我介紹給她的牧師和另一教會的其他領袖。李業基牧師為我作介紹給大波士頓地區的教牧同工以及州區聯會的領袖。顧奇偉牧師代我們聯繫在紐約的多位牧師。 在NAMB服侍的冼志劍牧師專程來到紐約帶我去拜訪多間教會和牧者,他又帶領我穿梭於紐約上州和紐約市像迷宮般的大都會地鐵交通系統。願 神獎賞他們所付出的一切。
透過這次旅程,神讓我瞥見,藉著北美華人浸信會眾人彼此間的聯繫、互補需要和共享資源,能產生巨大的網絡力量,以及「美加華人浸信會聯會」如何有效地作工、來建立教會及榮耀神。
神又令我瞥見作為一個浸信會的大家庭所產生的力量。我們一起作了一件有意義的事。在過去數月,我們引導浸信會這個大家庭為「救災基金」籌款,共收集到28,117美元,只略低於我們的目標。這筆款項將會好好善用,在本週分發給那些因哈維颶風所影響、在期間還不能回到自已家園慶祝聖誕的家庭。 休斯頓的一位牧師說:我教會的救災基金幾乎用光了。 感謝神!著「美加華人浸信會聯會」的合時幫助及款項,讓他們過一個難忘的聖誕。為此,我衷心說:阿們!
感謝天父! 我們所信及服事的神是實在看見、實在聽見、實在知道、而實在要下來拯救的主。(出埃及記3:7-8)
祝大家聖誕快樂、新年蒙福!

Leaders who Understood the Times 作神 “洞悉時代"的僕人

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: Leaders who Understood the Times
(Updated December 11 2017)

On the first leg of my visit to the Northeastern part of the US this past week, I visited Chinese Baptist churches in Connecticut. Driving up to New Haven on my way to Hartford, I visited the church at New Haven and met some leaders of the church there. Calvary Baptist Church started off as a Bible Study group in the 1800’s for Chinese scholars at Yale University and it eventually grew to become a church.
At West Hartford, I visited and preached at the Cantonese congregation of Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford. I had a great time of fellowship renewing my acquaintance with some of the church members and leaders there. It was such a joy to see many of those that I had ministered to and with some 20 years ago are still actively involved in ministry at the church. I had served at the church while I was on sabbatical and studying Islam at Hartford Seminary 1993-1995. The church has bought a former Jewish Synagogue in Bloomfield (Beth Hillel) for a steal and converted it into a church building. They will be holding their first Combined Worship in their new building on Christmas Eve, December 24 2017. They had met at the First Baptist Church in West Hartford for the past 40 years. What a way to celebrate the Gift of God for them
Much has changed at the church reflecting the migration trend of Chinese into the area. With the migration of Cantonese speaking Chinese from Hong Kong and Mandarin speaking Chinese from Taiwan slowing to a trickle, and the gush of Chinese from Mainland China, the Mandarin speaking congregation has really taken off in comparison to the Cantonese speaking congregation. The dynamics of the membership and leadership have changed as well.
Change is the new normal for the church in North America today. Churches must manage change or they will be managed by change itself. In order to do the former, we need people in the church who “understood the times and knew what…” they are to do. (I Chronicles 12:32) We need pastors and leaders who can work together to discern the times and to take appropriate actions to manage change while they still can. This is true not only for the churches in Connecticut but for churches all over North America as well.
Pray that you can be one of those who understood the times and to be wise and bold to make the changes necessary to make your church relevant and vibrant in times like these for the glory of God.

同軛手紀:作神 “洞悉時代"的僕人
更新2017年12月11日

過去這個星期,我探訪了美國東北部幾間教會。第一站是康州(Connecticut) 的華人浸信會。之後,我駕車去哈城(Hartford)途中,經過新港(New Haven),探望了當市的華人教會,並在那裡會與一些教會領袖見面。十九世紀時,「耶魯大學」有一個查經班,特別服侍來自中國的學者,從那時的查經班開始,一直發展,直至今天成為「加略山華人浸信會」(Calvary Baptist Church)。
在西哈市(West Hartford),我拜訪了「哈城華人浸信會」(Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford),並在他們的廣東話崇拜中証道。在那裡,我重見一些昔日熟識的教會會友和領袖。久別重聚,我們有一個十分美好交通的時刻。當年(1993-1995),我正值安息年,在「哈城神學院」(Hartford Seminary)修讀伊斯蘭教,我就在這教會事奉。事隔二十多年,看到許多我曾服侍過的肢體,仍然積極參與教會的事工,我心中實在充滿了喜樂。過去40年以來,他們一直使用在西哈城的「第一浸信會」聚會。如今,他們將有自己的地方崇拜聚會了。因為,教會已經在Bloomfield以一個非常底廉的價錢購買到一座前猶太教的會堂(Beth Hillel),他們將它改建為教會。 今年,2017年12月24日聖誕節前夕,他們將在這新堂址舉行首次聯合崇拜。何等特別的日子! 他們慶祝上帝的恩賜!
近年,華人教會中的組合發生了很大的變化。它也反映了華人移民進入該地區的趨勢。昔日,教會主要的華人是來自操廣東話的香港和來自操國語的台灣; 今天,隨著大量中國大陸的華人湧入,教會現今的華人絕大部份是來自操普通話的中國大陸。相對之下,說廣東話的華人會眾是少數的了。 會友間和領導間的互動也發生了變化。
今天,北美的教會,變化是新常態。 因此,教會必須掌舵著時代的變革,否則便被變革牽著走。 為了做前者,我們需要教會裡的人曉得 “洞悉時代,並知道如何處理”。正如在歷代志上12章32節說: 「以薩迦支派, 有二百族長都通達時務,知 道以色列人所當行的;他們族弟兄都聽從他們的命令。」我們需要牧者和教會領袖一同審視,辨別時代,並採取適當的行動來掌舵變化。 我相信不單只康州的教會如是,北美各地的教會也一樣。
你要為自己禱告,使自己能成為那些明察時代的人,並且有智慧,勇敢地作出必要的改變,使教會充滿生命力,緊接時代,在這時代中繼續榮耀神。

One Solitary Life 同軛手記 – 短短的一生

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty.

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born
He did none of the things usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty three when the tide of public opinion turned against him.

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth.
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress.
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that One Solitary Life.

Anonymous
(but attributed to Rev. James Allan Francis in a sermon delivered at the Baptist Young People’s Union Convention in Los Angeles on July 11 1926.)

同軛手記 – 短短的一生

他出生在一個不為人知偏僻的村莊
母親是農民
他在另一個不起眼的村莊成長
在那裡,他在一個木匠店鋪中工作
直到他三十歲

他從來沒有寫過一本書
他從未擁有過職位
他沒上過大學
他從未到過大城市
從他的出生地,他從來沒有走過超過200英哩的範圍以外
通常人認為與偉大有相關連的事情 ,他確實一件也沒有做過
他沒有任何認可文憑証書,他只有他自己

他在世上只活了三十三年,因公眾輿論與他為敵

他的朋友捨棄他
其中一人背叛出賣他
他被交給仇視他的人
並經歷嘲弄式的審判
他在兩個強盜之間,被釘掛在十字架上
儘管他奄奄一息,那些劊子手卻為他的衣物進行打賭瓜分
那些衣物就是他在世上,唯一擁有的財產

他死了
他被安放在一個借來的墳墓裡
這是出於一位朋友對他的同情與可憐

十九個世紀己過去了
今天,耶穌仍是人類的核心人物
和人類進步的領導者
所有曾經列隊的大軍
所有曾經巡航的海軍
所有曾經坐在議會內的議士
連同所有曾經在位的君王放在一起
都不及那短短一生的他,帶給在地球上生活的人類,那麼強大有力的影響。

無名者註
(但是歸因於James Allan Francis牧師在1926年7月11日在洛杉磯舉行的浸信會青年助道會大會上的講道。)

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: “Everything to be Thankful For!”

Pastor Amos Lee

This week, we celebrate a unique national holiday that is steeped in religious undertones. Thanksgiving commemorates the gratitude of a group of pilgrims to Almighty God for His providence, protection and care after a perilous journey on the Mayflower across the Atlantic, having endured a bitter winter in which about half their number died and an abundance of harvest cultivated with help from the local Indian tribe. We may joke about the day as “Turkey Day” but it was no joke for the pilgrims as they sought a new life in the New World. The holiday is a time to reflect on God who is not only Great, but who is Good as well!

On a personal level, I have much to be thankful for in 2017. Shortly after I retired after more than 40 years in ministry, my cardiologist recommended that I take care of a congenital issue that she had been monitoring for at least six years. My heart valve was hardening to a point that a replacement had become necessary. Furthermore, due to the valve issue, my aorta had become inflamed and the danger of a rupture was a great possibility. That needed replacement as well. She advised me that even though I was not young anymore (I was nearing 70), I was still healthy and my recovery from the procedures would have less complications. I took her advice and went under the knife for more than 5 hours. The following day, I was out of the ICU and recovering in the general ward. I went home on the 8th day after surgery. Three weeks later I was readmitted because of fluid retention due to post surgery trauma and for drinking 8 cups of water a day instead of 4! All in all, recovery was rather uneventful after that.

I thank God for giving me a wonderful cardiac team who took care of me, before, during and after surgery. And it has been more than 7 months since.

I thank God for my church, the leaders and the Pastors who made sure that my needs are taken care of.

I thank God for my family, especially for my wife Ruth, who has always been there for me … “in sickness and in health!” My son and his fiancé spent much time with me at the hospital during my recovery.

I thank God for my Chinese Baptist co-workers and friends who upheld me in prayer when they heard about me and my surgery. God certainly heard their cries to God.

But most of all, I thank God for his healing, a new lease of life He gave me through the surgery at the right moment and allowed me the opportunity to respond to His calling to be “on the road again” to serve the Chinese Baptist family in North America.

To God be the Glory!

What have you to be thankful for?

同軛手記 – “感恩不盡”

李英柏牧師

本週,我們慶祝「感恩節」。在美國,「感恩節」是一個非常獨特而悠久的全國性節日。它的起源充滿了宗教信仰的原素。「感恩節」是紀念一群清教徒向全能的神表達感恩之情。當年,這一群清教徒坐船「五月花」號跨越大西洋,經歷了五個月驚險的旅程、忍受了苦澀的嚴冬,其中大約一半人死亡。他們登岸後,得到當地印第安部落的人幫助,種植莊稼,大獲豐收。就在這豐收的時候,他們向神心存感恩,深知道這一切都是神的供應,神保護和關愛他們。我們也許會把這個節日當作“火雞節”開玩笑,但對於這群清教徒而言, 他們冒險到新大陸尋求新的生活絕對是非常嚴肅的事,甚至生命不保。「感恩節」是一個反省思念神的節日, 想到神不單只偉大, 衪更是美善看顧人的神! 就我個人而言,有很多事情要感謝神。直至2017年,我已事奉40多年了,退休後不久,我 的心臟病醫生建議我要治理我先天性的心臟問題。我心臟的二尖瓣一直有硬化,而這位心臟科專家已觀察它至少六年了,她認為是時候需要更換。此外,由於二尖瓣的問題,引致我心臟的主動脈發炎,很大可能有破裂的危險。 因此,主動脈也需要更換。她的意見是,雖然我不年輕(我快到70歲了),但我仍然健康。健康的身體有助減低患併發症的機會,從而有利於手術後的復原。我接受她的建議,並接受了5個多小時的手術。手術後第二天,我從深切治療病房轉回普通病房繼續康復; 手術後第八天,我可以回家。兩個星期後,我需再次入醫院,因為胸部有積水。這可能是手術後創傷引致積水,加上我每天喝水8杯,而不是4杯!積水減退後出院,之後的康復總算平穩順利。 我感謝神賜給我一隊非常精鍊的心臟科治療團隊。他們在手術前、手術過程中和手術後的細心治療。 我手術後至今已有7個多月了,一切平安。

我為教會的弟兄姊妹、領袖們和牧者們感謝神。他們以愛心待我,確保我得到所需要的照顧。

我為我的家人感謝神,特別是我的妻子婉華,她一直在我身旁……“無論健康或疾病!”。還有,我的兒子和他的未婚妻在我康復期間用很多時間在醫院裡陪伴我。

我為我在華人浸信會的同工和朋友們感謝神。當他們聽到我的情況和手術時,切切以禱告托住我。誠然,神聽到了他們的呼求。

在這一切的事情上,最令我感恩的是神醫治我而给我一個新生命。衪在最適當的時刻為我安排接受這個手術,治癒了我的心臟問題,又讓我有機會回應衪的呼召”再踏上事奉之路”,並帶領我在北美地區服侍華人浸信會這個大家庭。

願一切榮耀歸給神!

你為那些事情感恩呢?

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: “Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other!”

Pastor Amos Lee

October 31 2017, the Christian church celebrates 500 years of an earth-shattering event that changed the landscape of Christianity forever when an Augustinian priest and university Professor of Theology, Martin Luther, posted a document known as the Ninety-five Theses onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. His intention was to provoke the Catholic Church to a debate on the issue of the sale of indulgences and reform the church from within. Little did he realize that by so doing and with the help of technology – the printing presses – laid the foundation for a movement that became known as the Reformation with the resulting split of the catholic (universal) church and the “heretic” group pejoratively came to be called “Protestants” because they protested against the authorities.

In the points made by Luther in the Theses which were later solidified, he laid out a set of foundational biblical principles of Protestant Christianity that is central to the Christian faith with regards to the Bible, Salvation, and the Christian Life to this very day:

  1. Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone)
  2. Sola Fide (by faith alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (by grace alone)
  4. Solo Christo (through Christ alone)
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone)

He reclaimed the authority of Scripture over the authority of the traditions of human beings. He affirmed that salvation is available only through Jesus Christ, by His grace, and through faith in Him and believers are to live for the glory of God alone. What a brave soul! In the face of excommunication from the church he had served and loved, he declared, “Here I stand. I can do no other!”

Can we stand and declare what we believe to be true like Luther and make a real difference in the life of the nations and people? In our secular culture, where we are molded to be politically correct, it is hard to stand for one’s faith without being ridiculed for who we are. But can we articulate our faith in such a manner that people can give an ear to what we have to share? The Bible gives us a pointer: But in your heart, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do it this with gentleness and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (I Peter 3:15-16) Wise words!

同軛手記 – “這是我的立場,我別無選擇!”

李英柏牧師

在2017年10月30日,基督教慶祝一驚天動地、永遠地改變了基督教格局的事件。在五百年前,馬丁路德,一位奧古斯丁教士和大學神學教授,把稱為”95條”的文件貼在徳意志地區的威登堡城教堂的門上。他意圖引起天主教會就售賣贖罪票的問題進行辯論,並從內部改革教會。 他幾乎沒有想到這樣做,在印刷機科技的幫助下,奠定了宗教改革運動的基礎,導致天主教(大公)教會和被貶稱為”抗議宗” (Protestant)(因為他們抗議當局)的”異端”的分裂。

在路德 “95條”中的論點被凝聚起來的要點中,他提出了一套基督教有關聖經、救恩,和基督徒生活的基本聖經原則,這至今仍是基督教信仰的中心:

  1. Sola Scriptura (唯獨聖經)
  2. Sola Fide (唯獨信心)
  3. Sola Gratia (唯獨恩典)
  4. Solo Christo (唯獨基督)
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (唯獨榮耀上帝)

他重申聖經的權威高過人類傳統的權威。 他肯定只有通過耶穌基督,藉著祂的恩典,並因著對祂的信心才能得救而信徒的生命是要榮耀上帝 。 他多麼勇敢! 面對著要被他所曾服務和愛過的教會開除,他宣稱:”這是我的立場,我別無選擇。”

我們能否像路德一樣,站起來宣告我們所信仰的是真實的,並對萬國萬民的生命帶來真正的改變? 在世俗文化中,我們被塑造成政治正確,很難為著堅持自己的信仰而為我們的身份被人嘲笑。 但是,我們能否以能夠使人們願意聽到我們所要分享的方式來表達我們的信仰? 聖經給了我們一個提點:”只要心裡尊主基督為聖。有人問你們心中盼望的緣由,就要常做準備,以溫柔、敬畏的心回答各人, 存著無虧的良心,叫你們在何事上被毀謗,就在何事上可以叫那誣賴你們在基督裡有好品行的人自覺羞愧。”(彼得前書3:15-16)至理明言!

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle: Will Our Children Have Faith

Pastor Amos Lee

Two weeks ago, I was sitting across from a brother in Christ enjoying our lunch at an all-day Evangelism Conference organized by the Northern California Chinese Baptist Association. Our small talk soon led us to what we heard earlier in the morning when the Keynote Speaker, Rev. William Eng from Orange County, Southern California spoke on “Reaching the Next Generation for Christ.” Rev. Eng was most qualified to speak on the topic for his more than 30 years of experience pastoring, working with and reaching out to American born/raised Chinese in the US.

Our conversation then turned more somber to the topic of our children (Yes! We are very Chinese!!) and how we should raise them in the Lord so that they will walk in the straight and narrow. He has two school going teenage daughters and I have a grown son. He is worried for his younger one. But we agreed on one thing – our culture is very unkind to the faith of our children and it is the parents who are the real disciplers and ministers to their own children. We cannot shirk that responsibility even though we might have great youth programs and youth ministers in our churches. These supplement our efforts as parents.

However, we cannot fault our culture entirely. We have to take responsibility because we are part of that culture. If we as Christian parents do not impart the faith to our children, we are just one generation away from unbelief! And the numbers are not good. Not a few of our children who have grown up in Christian homes and churches have dropped out of church and their faith when they go to college and move on in their careers. And as parents we have no idea where we have gone wrong when we have been faithful in bringing them to church and doing our bit in trying to be faithful in church. Often, parents fail to realize that doing those two needful things alone do not necessarily add up to much in helping their children grow in their faith. Those actions must be followed up by what they do in the privacy of their homes and life in general apart from church, living out their faith transparently in front their children that teaches them what faith and faithfulness is all about. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) For you see, faith is caught in the course of living more so than taught!

The big turn off for youths is to see the hypocrisy of their parents when they profess one thing (the Christian faith) and act contrary to that faith. Jesus asked a pointed question for us to ponder: When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8b) Will He or won’t He? That’s THE question for every Christian parent for now until He comes again!

同軛手記 – 我們子女有信德麼?

李英柏牧師

兩星期前,我參加「北加州華人浸信會區聯會」主辦、全日性的「2017北加華浸福音訓練大會」。午餐時,我坐在一位基督徒弟兄的對面。我們開始用餐,大家閒聊幾句後,話題很快就轉到早上講員伍威廉牧師所講到的大會主題:「得著新一代」。伍威廉牧師來自南加州橘郡,是最有資格在這個主題上發言,因為他致力接觸和牧養在美國土生土長或在美國成長的中國人,有超過30年的經驗。

對於孩子們的成長,我們的談話變得凝重,心情鬱悶。我們要怎樣在主裡教育栽培自己的孩子、以至他們的人生在正直和跟隨神的窄路中行走呢? 那位弟兄有兩位女兒,都正在青少年時期,當中令他最擔心的是細女。我有一個成年的兒子。我們作為父親,有一觀點非常認同,就是現今美國抗拒神和不信神的文化,對我們孩子的信仰實在非常不利, 而 基督徒父母本身就是孩子真正的導師,不能輕忽或推卸這個責任。縱使在我們的教會裡,有很多非常好的青少年事工,或有忠心服侍青少年人的牧者,這些都只是作補充劑,絕不能取代父母的教導。

然而, 我們不能將責任完全歸咎於今天美國社會的文化,因為我們也是文化中的一部份。我們必需對存在的問題有所承擔。如果我們作為基督徒父母,卻不能以生命影響生命,把活潑的信心、基督的信仰帶進孩子的生命中,我們的下一代將會逐漸遠離不信神! 數據顯示,許多在基督教家庭或教會長大的孩子,在上大學或進入職場後,便離開了教會和信仰。作為父母的,不知那裡出錯。他們以為自己一直忠心地把孩子帶進教會,並且自己在教會裡也盡一點力以表忠誠便是了。 他們沒認識到,單單做這兩件需要的事情,不一定能幫助他們的孩子信心增長。他們必須明白在教會以外,就是在他們的家庭和生活為人處事中,特別在孩子面前切實地活出他們的信心/ 信仰。如此,孩子從他們身上才能學到什麼是信心/ 信仰和忠誠。正如申命記6章4-9節說:「4以色列阿,你要聽!耶和華─我們神是獨一的主。5你要盡心、盡性、盡力愛耶和華─你的神。6我今日所吩咐你的話都要記在心上,7也要殷勤教訓你的兒女。無論你坐在家裡,行在路上,躺下,起來,都要談論。8也要繫在手上為記號,戴在額上為經文;9又要寫在你房屋的門框上,並你的城門上。」從經文可見,信心/信仰並不只是言教,更是身教、從生活的過程中將信仰顯明出來!

對年青人來說,對信仰最大的障礙是看見父母虛偽。倘若他們見父母一方面自稱有基督信仰,卻在行事為人上背道而馳,這會造成很壞的影響。耶穌在路加福音18章8節下,問了一個尖銳的問題,值得我們深思:「然而,人子來的時候,遇得見世上有信德麼?」衪會遇見? 還是不會? 這個問題,每個基督徒家長都要問一問自己,直到主再來 !

A Yokefellow’s Chronicle – Amazingly Loved!

Pastor Amos Lee

I celebrated my 70th this month and the highlight of that milestone was being invited back to my church, the Chinese Independent Baptist Church San Francisco, for a surprise Birthday Lunch. (The ploy was that I was to share my testimony at their Love Feast.) I had retired from the church the end of last year (2016) after serving there for a little over 21 years.

I was deeply touched by their gesture. I was feted with broiled salmon, tofu and corn, steamed boneless chicken with black fungus and lotus soup. However, it was not so much the food because they were all my favorites and common fare, but the special ingredient – love – they used to prepare them. They did it especially for me, tailored to my dietary needs (low salt!). I felt a little embarrassed by it all and felt so unworthy because all I had done for them as their pastor over the years had been what I was supposed to do as their under shepherd – loving them the best way I know how as God would have loved them; leading them in ministry as the Lord opened doors for us as an inner city church; teaching and equipping them the truth of God’s Word; and, living out what I had taught them. I had determined earlier in my call as a minister of the Gospel was that I was to be sold out to Christ and to His cause – no entitlement, only a servant’s heart to serve Him! At the end of the day, it is: “I have only done my duty!” (Luke 17:10)

I was floored by their love for me. But, CIBC San Francisco has always been a church that loves. I experienced first hand the way they cared for me after I had retired while I was recovering from open-heart surgery for a congenital issue I had. It has learned to look after their shepherd and continue learning to be true to what the Bible teaches about the way shepherds are to be treated. The church has been generous according to its means. It has learned the principle that “a worker is worthy of his hire” (a pastor is not a hireling and should never be treated as one) (I Timothy 5:18), to be treated fairly as to the provision of his needs and those of his family (I Corinthians 9:14); that those who serve among them, especially those who teach and preach are worthy of double honor (I Timothy 5:17); that to respect, highly esteem and love those who serve among them is what Christians should do (I Thessalonians 5:12-13); and, that obeying their leaders and treating their pastor right, works for the good of the church (Hebrews 13:17) and for His Kingdom work.

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) I believe the love for each other includes loving your pastor.

October is “Clergy Appreciation Month”. Make the truth of the Word a reality for your lives as you live out what is taught in the Word this month and every month. Go love your Pastor! Let the world know, you are a disciple of Christ!

同軛手記 – 承蒙厚愛、滿懷驚訝

本月份(10月) 是我70歲的生日。「70」是一個完整的數字,同時,它也標誌著人生一個新的里程。但我感到非常高興的是能夠回到自己的教會(三藩市華人自立浸信會) 渡過這70歲的生日。感謝教會弟兄姊妹對我的厚愛! 他們精心策劃,在我不知道的情況下,為我預備「慶祝生日午餐會」。10月1 日,我被邀請出席全教會性的「愛筵」和在其中分享見証。就在「愛筵」進行中,在我意想不到之下,眾人為我唱起生日快樂的歌曲,令我既驚喜又感動。感謝神的恩典,我能在這個屬靈的大家庭中與弟兄姊妹一起相處共聚,稍稍超過21個年頭,直至2016年年底退休。為這份主內深厚的情誼我感謝神! 更感謝他們那份愛牧者的心懷!

他們煮上我最喜愛的食物,有 : 焗三文魚、粟米煮豆腐、 荷葉蒸雞和蓮藕湯等。令我最感動的,不單只是食物本身,更是他們用愛心炮製,特別為我預備。所有食物都是低鹽的,絕對適宜我進食。

事實上,我在他們中間牧養多年,我只是盡我所能地去愛他們,學效神愛他們一樣,這是我該做的本份,沒有什麼可誇。如今,他們為我所預備的一切,實在令我有愧。我只是按我最初蒙召的心志: 作主的僕人,做好我的本分而已。正如路加福音17章10節,說:“ …所做的本是我們應分做的 。”

三藩市華人自立浸信會是一間充滿愛的教會。我被他們的厚愛完全淹沒了! 當我接受心臟手術後的那段期間,我親身經歴到他們無比的厚愛。他們按著聖經的教導和原則肯定牧者是配得他們的工價 (提前5:18)“因為經上說:牛在場上踹穀的時候 ,不可籠住他的嘴;又說:工人得工價是應當的 。”; 供應牧者的需要是當然的 (林前 9:14) “主也是這樣命定,叫傳福音的靠著福音養生。”;以敬重的態度對待牧者 (提前 5:17) “那善於管理教會的長老,當以為配受加倍的敬奉。那勞苦傳道教導人的,更當如此。”;格外尊敬牧者 (帖前 5:12-13)“弟兄們,我們勸你們敬重那在你們中間勞苦的人,就是在主裡面治理你們、勸戒你們的。又因他們所做的工,用愛心格外尊重他們。”;順從牧者的教導及好好對待他們,這是對㑹眾有益處 (來 13:17) “你們要依從那些引導你們的,且要順服;因他們為你們的靈魂時刻儆 醒,好像那將來交賬的人。你們要使他們交的時候有快樂,不至憂愁;若憂愁就 與你們無益了。” 他們在對待牧者上真的活生生地活出了聖經!

主耶穌在約翰福音 13章34至35節,說: “我賜給你們一條新命令,乃是叫你們彼此相愛;我怎樣愛你們,你們也要怎樣相愛。你們若有彼此相愛的心,眾人因此就認出你們是我的門徒了。”

我相信這「彼此相愛」,也包含「愛你的牧者」在內了。

10月份是「向牧者致敬月」。不單在10月,並在每一個月的生命中,願你們切實活出神的話! 更多愛護和敬重你們的牧者,讓世界知道,你們是主的門徒!