Newsletter July, 2003

JULY, 2003

A Slave of Obedience unto Righteousness

Six years ago our family arrived in the States without any medical insurance, while my wife was seven-month pregnant. She got sick on the third day and it cost us $150 for a doctor's visit. The prescription did not help her, and we returned to Hong Kong after only ten days. It was like the experience of the Israelites, who turned back from Canaan when encountered hardship in the wilderness. But God did not give up on us. He led us finally back into His grace of life.

Three years ago Pastor Chiu came to teach the lesson of obedience from the Book of Ruth. Then Brother Liu taught from Psalm 133 about unity. After that we heard from Brother Wong's preaching of Romans 12:1-2 on consecration and service. Over the period of about two years, God used different teachers to deliver seemingly different, yet a series of continuous and consistent messages to me. From that time on, I began to have a correct understanding of Christian service: It is not to serve man but to serve our Lord.

A while back I read the response of Mr. Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, to the criticism of Harry Belafonte, the singer. They both are blacks from Jamaica, and Belafonte likened Powell to an in-house slave to the President. During the early days, the Negro slaves lived outside the master's house, except a few in-house slaves who met fully the master's requirements. The report caught my eyes at the time, because I was studying the Romans with our brother. The Apostle Paul also talked about slaves, and it occurred to me that Powell, Belafonte and myself are all slaves. Paul defined a "slave" in Romans 6:5,6,12-18, not as one in-house or out-of-house, but as one in obedience to the real master. Before we were saved, we were in the world and the sin and lust of the body reigned in us. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23a), so death reigned in us as well. Then the salvation of Christ led to the reign of Christ in our hearts, and through Him we have the gift of eternal life from God, (Romans 6:23b). Therefore, we now reign in the grace of life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Previously, I thought Christians had no freedom, because there were so many things they were not allowed to do. The fact is that the bondage came from the lust of the flesh. Now I realize that as a Christian I have the freedom of not sinning. As a new creation in Christ, I now have a new value system and look at life differently. Paul was a good example. In Romans 8:18 he considered the affliction of this world as temporary, unworthy of comparison to the glory in Christ. He saw only Christ, not the world, and declared in Romans 8:37-39 the victory toward the attack of the enemy. The value system of Paul was changed to the extent that his view of life is totally out of this world and all that is in it.

As a child I read the adventures of Robinson Carousal. I was fascinated by his story of building tree-houses and hunting and exploration. Later, Robinson saved a native on a certain Friday, so he named the slave "Friday", who followed Robinson everywhere in fishing, hunting and farming with him. By the time I became a teenager, I had lost interest in Robinson's life, because there was no air-conditioning, no TV nor "Gameboy"! When I grew up to adulthood, I thought Robinson was a fool: With his rifles he could have easily become a king among the natives! Now as I re-read the book, I discover the hidden slave. How incredible that as a man of the world I only saw how to be a king, but in the Spirit I learn this matter of being a slave. We are all "Fridays", because our Lord came to this earth to save us. Just as Friday belonged to Robinson, we belong to the Lord Jesus. Wherever He goes we should follow, for He said, "Wherever I am, you shall be there also!"

I truly feel that I have found the purpose of life: To learn with my brothers and sisters to be a slave of obedience to righteousness, totally meeting the Master's requirements so that we may abide in His house forever. I know that I am not there yet. But with the leading of the Spirit in a willing heart and the support of the brethrens, I know the Lord will take me there. Thanks be unto the Lord! (Harold)

Counting the Days

In February I brought with me 120 Q-tips to begin my seminary study here in Taiwan. Every day I use one to clean my ears after shower, but also as a day-counter. Now I am left with about 40 Q-tips: I am counting toward the day of home coming to see my loved ones again. The Bible says that we travel through this world like aliens through a foreign land, and God wants us to learn to count our days. Psalm 90:12, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom." How many days have we left here on earth? Afterwards where are we going? Do we think of the heavenly home often?

SARS' continuing spread in Taiwan causes a lot of fear and already a few deaths. One hospital was recently shut down. I saw the brevity of life and the helplessness of the people in the hospital. The reality seems that we are just like those people, locked up on this earth with some seventy or eighty years of short life unto an eventual death. The only difference is that we have hope, because Jesus is our Lord of resurrection who had overcome death and gave us the eternal life. Dear brothers and sisters, let us think of the things above, for all the things of this earth shall pass away, and only the things of heaven will abide forever.

Please pray for the SARS situation in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. May the Lord have mercy on us that we know how to number our days. May His power of resurrection be with you all!

Your brother, Tony Wang

The Dilemma of Obedience

And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision ." I Samuel 3:15

God never speaks to us in startling ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand, and we say, "I wonder if that is God's voice?" Isiah said that the Lord spake to him "with a strong hand," that is, by the pressure of circumstances. Nothing touches our lives but it is God Himself speaking. Do we discern His hand or only mere occurrence?

Get into the habit of saying, "Speak, Lord," and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press, say, "Speak, Lord"; make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline, it is meant to get me to the place of saying, "Speak, Lord." Recall the time when God did speak to you. Have you forgotten what He said? Was it Luke 11:13, or was it I Thess. 5:23? As we listen, our ear gets acute, and, like Jesus, we shall hear God all the time.

Shall I tell my "Eli" what God has shown to me? That is where the dilemma of obedience comes in. We disobey God by becoming amateur providences --- I must shield "Eli," the best people we know. God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli; he had to decide that for himself. God's call to you may hurt your "Eli;" but if you try to prevent struction between your soul and God. It is at your own peril that you prevent the cutting off of the right hand or th