Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Call To Tough Duties

By Rev. James Wong

Most Christians have the misconception that serving God is doing noble works and working with pleasant people. This is just a myth. Those who serve God with such a notion will soon discover the truth to their dismay. Serving God with the wrong belief  will lead us to frustration and disappointment.

As I read the Bible I see that all of the people, whether they were prophets or ordinary people, were called by God to work in difficult situations and having to deal with difficult people. In fact, there is no need for any call of God to do easy jobs and to work with pleasant people.

Moses was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. God promised to be with him but he had to overcome problems one after another. There was a shortage of water, lack of food, a bunch of complainers, poisonous snakes, unfriendly neighborhood and the rebellion of the people. Moses did what God told him to do but he had to face a mountain of problems.

When Moses died, Joshua was appointed the new leader. He led the people into the Promised Land but there were giants in the land. God promised that there would be abundance of milk and honey in the Promised Land but there was also abundance of enemies everywhere. Joshua spent the rest of his life fighting all the way to conquer the Promised Land, city by city.   There were problems in the Promised Land.

To serve God we must not only have the heart of a servant, but we must also have the heart of a conqueror and be brave-hearted. If we know that the call of God to service is always a call to sacrifice, to work in difficult situations and handling tough people, it is necessary for us to be tough-minded and be courageous. We must rise above all trying circumstances and deal with people who are tough on us. The call of God is not for the faint-hearted.

The real test of a person’s character could be seen when he or she has to work in an unfavorable situation and having to deal with difficult people. Those who curse and mourn have not known what it means to carry the cross to follow Christ.

If you always complain about your working environment and are critical of the people you work with or live with, you are just like anyone else. I believe we are all called to make a difference in our world in everyway, for Jesus says ‘You are the light of the world, … you are the salt of the world.’ This is a tough calling for tough people for tough duties. As the strength of a ship can only be tested in a storm, so is our call to service.

A Call To Tough Duties

Rev. James  Wong

(1) The Notions of Success Today ...
Achieving goals, acquiring wealth, prestige, favor, and power. Successful people enjoy the good life—being financially and emotionally secure, being surrounded by admirers, and enjoying the fruits of their labors. They are leaders, opinion makers, and trendsetters. Their example is emulated; their accomplishments are noticed. They know who they are and where they are going, and they stride confidently to meet their goals. By these standards, Jeremiah was a miserable failure. (LAB)

(2) The Call of Jeremiah   
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." ~Jer 1:5 (NIV)

(3) The Call To Tough Duties
For 40 years he served as God's spokesman to Judah; but when Jeremiah spoke, nobody listened. Jeremiah was commanded not to marry or to have children to illustrate the impending coming judgment of God.

· He was beaten and put in the stock at the Upper Gate of Benjamin (20:1-3)
· He was seized by the priests and prophets (26:7-11)
· He was beaten and thrown into prison for a long time (chapter 37)
· He was thrown into a cistern and he sank down into the mud (chapter 38)
· He was taken to Egypt against his will (chapter 43).
· He was rejected by his neighbors (11:19-21), his family (12:6), the false priests and prophets (20:1, 2; 28:1-17), friends (20:10), his audience (26:8), and the kings (36:23).

(4)  What Sustained Jeremiah In His Tough Calling   
“Because of the Lord 's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord  is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." ~Lam 3:22-24 (NIV)   
There are those who go through life with great memories of achievement and accolades. They have never received any tough assignment. God’s son was given a tough assignment. He left his comfort, suffered and died to redeem this broken world.

(5) The success of Jeremiah
Success, as measured by God, involves obedience and faithfulness. Regardless of opposition and personal cost, Jeremiah courageously and faithfully proclaimed the word of God. He was obedient to his calling.

Compare yourself with Jeremiah if you think your serving is a tough assignment.

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Church Concerns


Moving On

By Rev. James Wong

I was transferred to BCCM Sandakan on the 1 January 2008. After spending more than four years in Sandakan I am reluctant to leave. I believe it is true that what people say will soon be forgotten but how people make us feel will remain for a long long time. Many of you have made me and my wife felt welcomed and loved, so it is not easy to leave BCCM Sandakan behind us.

My Church Family.  There is a sense of being uprooted again in a transfer. It is always a sad thing to leave behind good friends. As a pastor, my closest family is the church and sometimes, it is the only family that I have in the real sense of the word. I spend more time with the church than with my family members as they are away from me. In the end, it is the good friendship that I have gained in the Lord that means the most to me and my wife. I have to accept the fact that there is a season for every thing. There is a time to let go no matter how much I want to cling on.

New Assignment. Leaving Sandakan is no more an option for me now due to the requirements of my duty as a Dean and the need for manpower in a congregation in KK. My new assignment will be pastoring an emerging congregation known as Canaanland Mission Centre in KK, just opposite the road of BCCM KK church. I will be serving the congregation there with my able colleague Pr Alice Thien Fui Chu. There are six pairs of twins in that congregation and perhaps it is rightly called a church of twins!

Inspiration. The commitment and sacrifices of many individuals and the church council members have been most inspiring to me. The Sandakan church is complex and her ministries are many. No one individual can do it all. Like the clock that keeps ticking forward, our unity of purpose has enabled us to move forward in the circumference of our limitation and imperfection in many areas. Any progress in the church is always the result of good team work, support and encouragement for one another.

Moving on. My transfer will be in stages beginning 1 May. By the first week of July when the Alpha 3 run finishes on  6 July 2012,  I should have relinquished all my duties to my successor Rev. Johnny Wong. I urge everyone to give your undivided support and encouragement to Rev. Johnny Wong and all the staffs of the church. Those who are serving the church are primarily motivated by encouragement and appreciation. The Bible says, “Encourage one another daily …” (Heb 3:13).

We are heading towards a greater future of open doors. "When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." (Alexander Graham Bell). Let us pray for each other that “God will open a door for our message” always (Colossians 4:3).

When serving God, listen to your heart

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mission Trip to Lumampau, Long Miau & Long Pasia

The Promises Easter Brings

Luke 24: 1-12

1) Promise of sins forgiven

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.                                            ~Romans 5:8

2) Promise of eternal life

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16

3) Promise of a relationship with Jesus

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. ~Revelation 3:20

Go on a Mission Right Here, Right Now

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Church Concerns


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Alpha Invitation

by Rev. James Wong

Would you invite a friend to the coming Alpha  Introductory Dinner and Fellowship on Thursday, 12 April 2012? We have included an Alpha Invitation Card in the Weekly Bulletin for the past two weeks for your use. What you need to do is to send out the invitation card and invite your friends to come to the dinner. The following are some useful information.

What is the Alpha Introductory Dinner and Fellowship night all about?
It is a night we invite our friends to church for dinner. After dinner there is a brief talk about the Alpha Course that helps us to explore the meaning of life, dealing with question like, “is there more to life?” So, we encourage the people to sign up for the course.

Who can attend the Alpha Course?
Alpha is for everyone. Non-Christians, non-church going Christians, new believers and also believers. However, for our church members we encourage you to bring your friends to attend.

What are some of the issues that the Alpha Course will deal with?
Alpha gives us a chance to explore the big questions of life such as ...
1. Is there more to life than this?
2. What are the purposes of life?
3. Why does God allow so much suffering?
4. How can I know God really exists?
5. Why do I need God?
6. What really happens when I die?
7. Is there really one true faith, one true God?

What would be the regular weekly session look like?
7:00pm Makan Time
7:45pm Sing along . Ice-breakers
8:00pm Life Talk (In English and Cantonese)
8:45pm Small group discussion
9:30pm End

Last year we had 92 people who attended the Alpha Introductory dinner. 52 of them were guests and after the dinner 24 guests signed up for the Alpha Course.
A research has shown that 75%-90% of people come to know Christ through their friends or relatives. A friend inviting a friend is the most effective way to share the love of God. Inform sister Yet Far at 215615 if you are bringing your friends.

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Church Concerns


Becoming Perfect

by James Wong

Becoming perfect is a process working towards improvement and a better end. A perfectionist  is a person who believes that work or anything less than perfect is unacceptable. If you don’t know, very few people can live with a perfectionist!

Jesus teaches about being perfect but not being a perfectionist. He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). To understand the meaning of this verse we need to read the preceding verses starting from verse 43. It is a passage that contains the most concentrated expression of the Christian ethic of personal relationships. What does “Be perfect” mean?

1. To be perfect is to be like God. Our heavenly Father is perfect (see v.48). How can we imperfect mortals match up with the standard of God? We sometimes even hate ourselves because we know we are not perfect human beings. No one is. What is Jesus asking us to strive for when he says “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How can we can become perfect like God? Is this possible?

2. God is perfect because he is gracious. God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45 NIV). God is a perfect God because he makes no distinction between the evil and the good, the righteous and the unrighteous. He gives them equal opportunity to survive by providing them sunshine and rain. Our ethical thinking demands that the good be rewarded and the evil be punished. Not so in the eyes of God. Then God must be unfair! God is not unfair, he is just good and full of grace. He gives to those who do not deserve it. This is grace!

3. To be perfect is to love our enemies. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:24). The great Jewish tradition and law taught one to love one’s neighbor and hate one’s enemies. It is a fair deal. To love one’s enemies and pray for them is contrary to all cultures. The Greek Word for love, ‘Agape’ used here means a determination of the mind. It is an unconquerable goodwill even to those who hurt and injure us.  To love our enemies is an act of the will. It is a decision we have willed ourselves into doing. It is a victory over that which comes instinctively to the natural man. This is possible only when Jesus Christ enables us to conquer our natural tendency to anger, bitterness and revenge.

4. To be perfect is to do more than conventional belief. There is no need for a religion to teach us to love those who love us. Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt 5:46-48). Robbers, thieves, extortionist, extremist, murders, sexual perverts, human traffickers, drugs dealers, law breakers, jail breakers,  … they love those who love them. To love like them is just human. To do more is to be perfect like our heavenly Father. Are we doing more?