Newsletter November, 2003


November, 2003

All Things Work Together

Due to flea infestation the Bumby facility was closed off for six weeks. One time there were so many fleas that it seemed they would carry you away when you entered this area. In addition, we had racoon in the attic, giving birth to babies in the tight space above the ceiling. The mother racoon was captured, but the babies died. The smell was so bad that it stunk terribly. We had to move the bookcase, teared down the infested roofing insulation. With several visits by specialists all the small dead racoons were found and removed. That itself was a miracle. Then there was a leak in the office. So, altogether with racoon, flea, dampness, stench and the mess in the office, we one time doubted if we could get back by Thanksgiving. But prasie God, the flea came suddenly, then disappeared suddenly. The meeting place was once again clean and more comfortable with some renovations. The flea problem has seemingly passed like a nightmare. In the weeks followed, the brothers shared on this event. Being touched by the same Spirit, different persons at different time declared the heart of God to His congreagation. May those have ears hear, and give all glory and praises and thanksgiving to the Father! (Editor's Note)

Su (9/21/03): (Readings from 2 Chron. 36:18-23, Ezra 1:1-2, Isa. 44:28, 45:1-4, Jer. 29:10-14, Dan. 8:26-27, 9:1-2, Heb. 12:11.)

God created all and is above all with His power and authority. He also works according to His eternal purpose in order to glorify His Son. Therefore, Rom. 8:28 tells us that all things happen not by accident but are for our benefit, so that we may be molded into the likeliness of His Son. However, we often ignore His authority, God therefore has to do a certain thing to open our eyes. The event at Bumby was not accidental! When we get into a routine and become lax in our spirit, God causes difficult time to fall upon us, so that we may experience His hand and learn His love. Therefore, do not think that the flea problem was bad. He wants us to learn from it, and I learned that He is the God of blessing, not of affliction. The clean and orderly condition in this building was the result of the work of brothers and sisters from yesterday. It was chaotic and crowded everywhere. From nine to ten thirty we worked in one accord to restore everything back to its place. We worked as one man and were filled with joy. It seemed an unpleasant situation, yet God blessed us with His love.

In the Book of Ezra, God prepared the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. It was prophesized two hundred years ago by Isaiah. Then, Jeremiah predicted that they would be in captivity for seventy years, and it was fulfilled. God has said it, and it will be done. He wants us to read His Word, believe in Him and trust Him, because He can never deny Himself. God always gives hope in tribulation. Daniel was a slave in the palace of King Nebchadnessar, but God gave him the vision and the promise of returning. Then, the children of Israel would have hope and be comforted.

To be jointed with God through faith gives us the peace that passes all understanding. Do not be troubled by the darkness and confusion of this world. Lift up your head and behold Him and rejoice in our journey of life, because God is not of affliction, but of blessings.

Lau (9/28/03): (Reading from John 4:20-24)

Our reaction to this event may be positive or negative. God had allowed it to happen, so He must have His reason. May we come to seek His face, and learn our own lesson. Deut. 27:9-14 gave Moses' instruction to the people before they went into the land. Six tribes were to stand on Mount Ebal and the other six on Mount Gerizim as Joshua pronounced the law to them. For the blessings those on Mount Gerizim would reply "Amen", whereas the others on Mount Ebal responded "Amen" to the curses. When the church is faced with a situation, can we say "Amen" whether it looks like a blessing or a curse? Roman 8 teaches us that if we love God, all things work together to bring God's blessing.

In John 4 the Lord Jesus came to Jacob's well and spoke to the Samaritan woman. Jesus said that God is a Spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth. "Not on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem", the location of worship is not important. Our whole life is that of worship. Whether at Bumby or Rouse, our inward spirit should be the same. Do we come here to get busy with things to do, or to worship God?

The opposite of worshipping in spirit is to worship in flesh: To emphasis the letter, the form, the ritual and never change the format. The place has to be comfortable and look nice. But many worship places can be crowded with people sitting on the stairs or out in the courtyard. To worship in spirit is to be drawn to God with love, to fellowship with Him in the Holy Spirit and to give thanks for His grace. Because He is worthy, we give Him all the honor and glory. He loved us and gave His only begotten Son to take away our sins, so we may draw nigh to worship in the spirit.

To worship in truth is opposite to false worship. When Paul arrived in Athens, he noticed a shrine for the unknown God. The Athenians did not know whom to worship, so Paul said, "I come to tell you." If you come but do not know whom to worship, and thus with wrong manner of worship, that is a false worship. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." God's Word is the truth. We hence need to worship in His Name and in accordance with His Word. For God to prepare our hearts, we ought to come in early and be quiet before the Lord. Then we will get the message from God, and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Fong (10/5/03): (Readings from Job 16:12, 5:17, Jer. 1:10, Ecc. 3:2 and Rev. 3:19)

The flea problem which we have just gone through is not a small thing, nor just an inconvenience. It was God's work. Jeremiah 1:10 and Ecc. 3:2 suggest that He is doing some uprooting and tearing down among us. The flea problem took place at a time when the church has been standing still for a long while. It is very dangerous for a church when not moving forward but stagnant. I read about this parable of airplane. Any other forms of transportation on land or at sea can all come to a standstill without danger. They can reverse the engine and turn back. But there is no reverse for the airplane. It can never stand still otherwise it will crash. The only safety in the airplane is to go forward and upward. This is the only safety of a Christian, too. When we stop or turn back, we would be in danger. When all we do is to keep and maintain a routine, we lose vision and direction, and become stagnant. We may be very busy but incoherent. We have lost the focus, and people tend to do whatever they like. We grow luke warm or just not involved. We become inaccessible and cannot accept changes. It prevents us from keeping up with the Holy Spirit.

Any alternatives or options will require individual sacrifice and readjustment. We have been blessed in this building for more than 20 years. This place seemes to have become our territory and our identity, and we are so attached to this physical facility emotionally. This can result in our tendency of drawing a line between ourselves and others. We develop the me-and-you mentality, which is not healthy. God is the one who gives, and also the one to take away. Simply note how quickly He got us out of this place using the fleas! When God is at work, there is no time nor room for argument.

It is a natural development that the two sites become more independent. What we found out from this incidence is that we are not really that independent. God wants us to know, though worshipping at two different places, we are actually very closely connected spiritually, supporting each other, and together setting a testimony of the Lord for this metropolis. Recently, our brother reminded us that though we have two sites, from God's viewpoint He only sees a group of His children as His testimony in this city. We need to examine ourselves through this incidence. How our lives and services have been infested by our own ways, so God has to uproot and to tear down. These failures have led to improper criticisms among the brethren and cause mistrust and the loss of mutual respect, conditions so very harmful to the church of Christ.

God wants to tear down the work of man, "the sin of Jeroboam" (II King 14:24). For political reasons Jeroboam built two golden calves at Dan and Bethel, so that people would not go to Jerusalem to worship anymore. His system was counterfeit substitutes. No longer was the Jehovah God a holy God, but something man made, seemingly practical but not real. We need to examine everyone of our church activities. If it is just to satisfy our own agenda and need, then it is becoming a substitute for God, and with such we have thrown God out. If not careful, we might have created things offensive and hateful to God. In Rev. 3:19, we are called to "be earnest and repent", in other words, to make the right choice. When we do so, the chances are that we will make right choices. In Deut. 30:19, Moses encouraged the children of Israel them to testify and choose life. Let us not take the flea matter lightly. May we repent and be earnest with all honesty before the Lord.

We fear the flea, and many other things. But how much do we fear God? The flea situation happens here, but the lesson is for both sites. God has blessed us so much, by giving us two incredible locations and many faithful brothers and sisters. For 20 years we serve God together. We are a testimony of Christ in this city. Let us not be complacent or self-satisfied so to resort to just maintain the status quo. Let God stir us up so He can build and plant.

Lee (10/12/03): (Reading from John 4:19-24)

For several weeks we worshipped God before His mercy seat with the brothers and sisters from Bumby. We shared the joy of the goodness and beauty of oneness in the Lord. It was God's provision and goodwill. But, some during that time did not attend church services, all for their own good reasons. I wonder if the problem had occurred here, and we had to go to Bumby or set up a tent for meetings, how many would still show up? Let us meditate together on this matter of worship.

Of course, we assemble together not just for the sake of responsibility, or for the fear of divine punishment if absent, or as a habit, or for some activity or social purposes. These are the by-product of our assembly before God for worship. To worship is to bring with our inner-being the praises and thanksgiving so God may be satisfied. By drawing near to Him, we may receive provision from the divine life and strength to face life's challenges. With the formation of Christ in us, we may then live a life to manifest God's glory and be His testimony. If the purpose of our worship is not correct, we will lose the greatest blessing. When we come, we are not doing God a favor, but to receive His blessings. It truly is grace that the almighty and glorious God, the holy and loving One, permits us the filthy sinner to come to Him. He has chosen us, so we ought to come with fear and reverence, not to miss any single opportunity of worship.

John 4:4-24 tells the story of Jesus coming to Jacob's well near Sychar to talk to the Samaritan woman. The Lord pointed out her need of eternal life and gave the precious salvation to her as well as the people in that city. Then Jesus instructed us the meaning of worship, "in spirit and in truth". Lord Jesus led us into a new worship by eliminating the worship of Jerusalem and that of Samaria.

In 2 Chron. 7:12 God chose Jerusalem to be a place of worship for the Israelites. The Jews of Jesus' time continued the practice. They offered sacrifices according to the law, but their hearts were not right with God. Their worship had fallen into a formality. So, the worship of Jerusalem is that of the form only: Based on God's decree but with no content. Prayer was offered but the heart was not there.

How about the worship of Samaria? When King Solomon departed from God and turned to idol worship (1 King 11:33), God split his kingdom and gave ten tribes to form the northern kingdom. In order to strengthen himself, King Jeroboam made two golden calves, one at Dan and the other at Bethel. He told the people that that was their God and they did not have to go to Jerusalem to worship. In the year of 720 BC the northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians, and people were displaced. The Samaritans of mixed marriage continued the worship from man's own desire on Mount Gerizim. Today, if we substitute true worship with choir, Bible study, dinner party or any social gatherings in the church, that becomes the worship of man's own will. Jesus said in verse 21, "Now is the time". Through what He has accomplished on the cross, the great and fearful God is now our loving Father in heaven. Because of His love, we can come to worship Him.

Because He is a Spirit, we can only worship Him in the spirit. Jesus is the Son of God, so when we accept Him and are led by the Spirit of God, we are the children of God (Rom. 8:14). We come to cry "Abba Father" and to enjoy His abundance. It takes no pretense, but a reverent and fearful heart. Based on the Word of God we come to please Him, for His Word is the truth. Nowadays we hear so much of spiritual dancing and speaking in tongue. We need to return to the Word. Jesus has shed His blood for us and opened a new and living way, through which He takes us to the Father. May we so worship to offer the fragrant sacrifice, pleasing and acceptable to God the Father. Then we will truly be blessed with His riches and abundance.