Newsletter January, 2004


January, 2004

Retreat Echo

Xie - The message from the Lord's servant greatly satisfied my thirsty soul. His personal example showed me how to serve God and please God. Brother Lin's love and openness provided reminders and encouragement, so we may know the will of God through His Word. Our speaker clearly pointed out the direction of the gospel. The Lord entreated us to go to preach the gospel to all people, for which every Christian is commissioned. The love of God supports us in the face of any hardship of life. It is our duty to pass it on to others in need. Mission work is our natural duty. In John 15 the Lord said that He is the true vine and we are to abide in Him, for apart from Him we can do nothing. When we abide in Him, His love is in us, and we experience His power, which gives us joy and enables us to respond to His call. Then, we will be able to sacrifice for His glory, to preach the gospel and to bear much fruit.

Yao - The theme of the conference is the way of the cross. It involves two aspects: the cross of our Lord and the cross we bear to follow Him. Brother Lin spoke from Psalms 22 and 57. The cross in the Old Testament was prophetic. In the garden the Lord God provided the animal skin for naked sinners. In the New Testament the Lord Himself came to this earth. From Genesis to the birth of Jesus, there is a thread throughout the scripture. In the psalms the Spirit of Christ came upon David and the suffering cross became his subjective experience. In Matthew 1:1, Jesus was called the son of David. Through the psalms David's affliction prophesized the Lamb to be slain for the sins of the world. After he was anointed, David suffered a great deal of hardship. In the days when he was running from Saul, he was persecuted as indicated from Ps. 22:1,2,6 and 14. Our way of the cross is the same as that of David. In the Acts it pointed out that this way will lead us through many tribulations. But the Holy Spirit is in us and will bring us grace and blessing. Through our sufferings God deals with our old "selves". Since we have the divine life from within, we ought to live in accordance with the law of God. Faced with tribulations, we should not draw back, nor question why, for suffering causes us to become more like Him as the "self" is crucified daily. This retreat helped me greatly, and I cry out from the depth of my heart that I will serve Him.

William - I thank God for giving me the opportunity to attend the retreat this time and be blessed with His grace. I would like to share the following:

1) Brother Lin spoke mostly of his life's experiences, even in the Sunday message. The Lord used His servant to give the testimony of life, so we see the glory of the Lord through a broken vessel.

2) He taught us to study the Psalms by first reading through the I and II Samuels, I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles and the four Gospels. This is because the scripture explains itself, from one part to the other. Who else can interpret the Bible better than the Bible itself?

3) The way of the cross is hard. As long as we remain proud, we will suffer. But when the Spirit opens our eyes to see the reason behind the cross, we will be able to respond, "Lord, Thou hast words of eternal life. To whom shall we go?"

4) The way of the cross is a battle against the "self", against all that is not spiritual. It is a lonesome road. But if we bear the cross together, and support each other with love and prayer, we shall experience the beauty of Ps. 133 and receive the blessing of eternal life.

Anna - The English meetings studied Luke 4:1-13, the temptation of Jesus, which teaches us how to overcome temptations. Frank pointed out that the temptations in v. 13 means every temptation. What Jesus went through included all our temptations in life.

1) After forty days Jesus was hungry. The tempter came at His weakest moment to tempt Him to worship the idol. An idol is anyone or anything outside of God, which men pursue to satisfy themselves. Today, Satan uses money, alcohol or other people to tempt us.

2) Satan promised all the authority and glory of the nations to Jesus. But Jesus is the King of kings appointed by God Himself. Satan was trying to tempt Him to take the shortcut, saying "why suffer through the cross? Set the trouble aside!"

3) Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the pinnacles of the temple. But Jesus said that you should not put the Lord God to the test. Satan wanted Jesus to have doubt about God, and not trust God.

Today, Satan is using the same temptation to tempt us, again and again. Romans 5:3 says, we have "hope without shame". I Cor 10:13 says, "God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it." Knowing that God will give us strength to overcome all temptations, we are to be encouraged in the hour of trial.

Brian - The theme of the way of the cross speaks of the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, but also of the cross each of us is to carry.

1) In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve. In the garden they had good fellowship with God. But in Genesis 3 sin entered into the world and man could not respond to God anymore. Even when they hid themselves, God was calling "where are you?" Then, the man did not blame himself, but the woman and God. The woman blamed the serpent. So came the sin, and man became the enemy of God, the slave to sin. But, God loves man, and wants man to come and reconcile with Him. The cross was God's provision for this reconciliation. When we believe in Jesus who died on the cross for our sins, and receive Him as our Savior, we will be able to have peace with God.

2) The deeper meaning of the cross is that Jesus asked us to take up our cross to follow Him daily (Mt. 16:24). Paul said that we should die to sin and live unto God. Thank God that we can suffer with Christ and hope for the new heaven and new earth. When we sing about the cross, we ought to remember how Jesus suffered for us. What did we suffer for Him? Let us remember each other in prayer and respond to His love even more.

David - I will just share two things about the cross:

1) Phil. 2:3 says, "with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself." We always feel better than others. Without the cross we are hopeless in God's sight. But because of the cross of Jesus, we are justified and have the hope of glory. Therefore, we ought to look at others with God's view: seeing the Christ in him and his potential, not his weakness or failure. Only then we can see others to be more important than ourselves. Only then the church can be united in the Spirit of Christ and grow together as one body.

2) II Tim. 1:7-8, "God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." Brother Lin encouraged us to teach the children to be bold. "Through Him who empowered us I can do all things." We often say, "I don't know about this. I don't know how to do that." It sounds very humble, but often just excuses. Love and discipline are for loving others, not for controlling others. May God challenge us to go forward and take up the responsibility.

Phyllis - Brother Lin's comments on the land of Canaan impressed me. God gave the land to the Israelites. It was a land of milk and honey, but also a land of battle. When they depended on God, they had victories. The Lord Jesus saved us and gave us the sonship. But it is also a call to battle. We ought to be the soldiers of Christ in this crooked and rebellious world. However, we cannot depend on ourselves, but only on the resurrection power of the Lord in order to be victorious.

Meiyao - Brother Lin's teaching from Ps. 34 left a deep impression on me. He asked us to read the heading of the psalm first, so to know when David wrote that psalm. After God anointed David, he did not reign immediately. Instead, he was drifting around for more than a decade. Psalm 34 was written during that period of time. But from v.1 we can see that this cross-bearer was full of joy. Therefore, if we did not cause the trouble ourselves, we can happily take up the cross God gives us and glorify Him. Furthermore, during that time, more than 400 men came to David. He used more than ten years to change them with the word of God. Ps. 34:11 shows that he taught them the way of fearing God. We see that not only God trained David, but David trained the men to become mighty warriors. If we learn well the lessons of the cross, we are not only built up ourselves, but edify those around us.

Shen - The way of cross requires that we know what the doctrine is and how to carry it out. Romans 6:6, "the old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin may be done away with." On the cross we die with Christ. Now I live, but it is Christ who lives in me. I died with Christ 45 years ago, and now not I but Christ lives in me. I would no longer look at the natural strength or the worldly capability of a man, but how much of Christ in the person. Paul said in the Galatians, "I am crucified to the world, and the world to me." We need to be separated from the world, as Phil 3:18-19 said, "....they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite." The appetite is the enemy of the cross. The earthly desires are the enemies of the cross. It is not enough to just remember the speaker's words. We need to read the truth of the cross in the light of the Word, and to walk the way of the cross.

Chen - Brother Lin spoke of how David depended on God in all his tribulations, as seen from the Psalms. It may be easy to depend on God on small matters, but more difficult on bigger and more important matters. I took my PhD qualifying exam on Nov. 17. Because I did not pass it the first time, this was my only chance. It was very important to me, and I studied hard. The night before the exam I could not sleep, so I prayed the Lord to give me faith to depend on Him. The story of Peter in Matt. 14:28-31 came to my mind. Peter followed the Lord to walk on water, but sank as he looked around at the waves. The Lord rebuked him as "of little faith". I rebuke myself for my little faith. An hour before the exam, I prayed with my wife and I felt the power from within. Although lack of sleep, I felt weak no more. The exam took five hours, from noon to 5 PM. When I felt dizzy, I prayed hard, asking the Lord to give me strength. Thank God I was notified the day before Thanksgiving that I had passed the exam. Brother Lin pointed out that in his extreme danger David still gave thanks to God and praised Him. Knowing that God is with us forever, I am greatly encouraged. May we encourage each other with this truth.