Abundant Blessings of Moving out of Comfort Zone

Abundant Blessings of Moving out of Comfort Zone

I have been obeying Jesus and learn to move out of comfort zone.  By end of November 2013, I was posted to Sibu and moved out of Miri, my comfort zone.  I had ever written that I was so well received and loved by Miri brothers and sisters. I could also just live in my own newly purchased home at Lutong, Miri. However,  I chose to obey Jesus and move to Sibu.

Prices to Pay
Deep down in my heart, I knew, then, I would have to pay a price for such a move.  My dear wife would have to separate with her close friends in Grace Methodist Church (which we served for 9 long years) and other Miri Methodist churches.  She had to let go of all the familiar home, church ministry (especially Girls’ Brigade), doctors (who took very good care of her and my family) markets and shopping complexes, roads, etc.  She had to start to build new relationships all over again.  She had to face the stress of finding new friends and building up ministry.  She has to face the challenge of doing it with a not so good heart condition as she is having heart valve leakage.  She cannot be overstressed.

My children would have to pay a price for me to obey Jesus.  They would miss their classmates in schools.  They grew up in Pujut Primary School right from primary one to primary six.  They finished Form One and Two in Miri Chung Hua Secondary School. They were actually very used to Chung Hua School.  They were used to the teachers, principals, classmates, environment and the expectations at the school.  They were at a point of building wonderful relationships and enjoy the friendships.  They also began to like the ISCF.  They also wanted to study hard to do well in their studies.  However, for the reason of my posting and obedient to Jesus, they needed to let go of all the relationships, the familiar and hopes.  I may not be able to understand how much they did not like my move.  I had tried to prepare them for my move and yet, the shock, the hurt, the disorientation, the disappointments and the damages they faced were something I might not fully grasped.  I did explain to them about the technicality of posting and my obedience to Jesus.  It was hard still for them to understand.  They were reluctant to move to Sibu.  They lost their zeal and motivation to study and do well in studies.  Especially my twin boys used to study harder and kept improving in their studies, but now, they felt it was pointless to do so in the new school.

How we Responded?
My wife and I did not force the twin boys to study and took up tuition as they used to in Miri.  They did their PT3 this year and yet we did not send them for tuition.  We were patient with them and tried to understand how much they were disoriented and disappointed.  We made sure that they finished their homework. We prayed very much for them to adjust to the new school (Methodist Secondary School).  We prayed for them to realize the importance of education.  They did not throw their tantrum but they just refused to study hard to face the PT3 (Form 3 Government public examination)!  We parents were anxious at first, but we learnt to let go; and trusted Jesus that He would open a way for them.  We prayed much and really expected Jesus to intervene.  Things did not get better in the sense that they would study harder as the examination was getting nearer last year.  They did not really put in more effort except going for 2 to 3 times of Science tuition before PT3 as they were invited by their Science teacher. Also, I observed that they did study harder only the night before the examination of each subject.  I expected them to fail most of the subjects!

The twins also did not adjust well in church life though the youths of the church tried hard to relate with them.  We also encouraged very much to be involved in the youth activities but they were not keen to attend.  We were careful not to force them to take part.

Deep down in my heart, I did not blame Jesus for such reaction in my twins.  I took it as they had to learn this life lesson of adjustment everywhere we go.  Honestly, I knew Jesus would open a way no matter what.  We prayed and we never gave up on our twins.  We believe He would help us to overcome the obstacle and the twins will be studious again.

Mercy, our youngest daughter did miss her friends and school in Miri but she adjusted quite well in the same Methodist Secondary School as the twin brothers.  She was able to find good friends both in the new church and school much faster than the twin brothers who tended to keep to themselves.  She was put in a good class and competed well with her classmates.

Our eldest child, Grace finished her A level at Kuala Lumpur Methodist College and came back in the middle of last year.  She started work at Sibu Methodist Care Centre among the children with special needs in early July last year.  She plans to pursue a qualification in special education as she has a burden for them.  She adjusted quite well in the new church and work environment after six months though she hardly made any friends in church at first.  Now she has a few friends at the work and in the new church especially after she decided to participate in more activities.  She enjoys her work.  This year, she committed to join the church youth choir.

Owing to the fact that I believe it is God’s will for us to move out of Miri, I had also prepared my wife and children for it.  I am willing to face all the prices my family has to pay.  My wife and I believe after twelve months, Jesus is blessing us tremendously.

Blessings that Come with Moving out of Comfort Zone
Willingness to pay the price for being obedient to Jesus also comes with tremendous blessings.  I cannot help but keep thanking God for He moved me to move out of my comfort zone!
When PT3 results were released, Tobias and Elliot did not fail many subjects as we had expected.  Each one of them scored three to four As and they obtained B, C, D, and E for the rest of the subjects. They only failed one subject.  This is a blessing and a big surprise for the whole family.  In terms of the new church environment, they started to relate to other youths lately.  The youth fellowship is also active in trying to get them involved in church ministry like choir, family group and fellowship.  In terms of school, before the end of Form 3, they started to mention about their friends and building up relationships with their classmates!

Mercy did well in her Form Two.  She took the studies seriously.  She studied much harder than she was in Miri.  She even managed to win a reward from me and flew to KL with her mother for a year end holiday.  She found new friends both in school and church quite soon. 

Grace has also made quite a few new friends both in church and at work.  She is now exploring the possibility of pursuing her special education degree.

My wife tried her best to help me in the ladies’ fellowship.  She would conduct bible studies during my absence.  She is slowly getting used to Foochow and Hinghua Chinese culture.  She is also involved in the Sunday School ministry in terms of leading the committee for the year end children bible camp.  This year, she is involved (with a few other ladies) in teaching and caring for the children while the adult fellowship is doing meeting every Friday night.  I am so encouraged to see her involved in ministry in her own way without pressure from me.  Last year and this year, I really do not want to ask to do much because I afraid that she might be overstressed and develop heart trouble.  She is actually undergoing half yearly medical follow up a Kuching Samarahan Heart Specialist Centre.  Praise the Lord, despite her heart condition, she can serve in her own way.  I believe she takes risk (of heart trouble) when she decides to serve brothers, sisters and children.
These above blessings are just few major ones.  The blessings I experienced are just tremendous.  I cannot help but keep thanking Jesus for all the serving opportunities and discipleship making that come my way.  It is not only Jesus is extending my ministry territory, He very much teaches me to serve people with depth.

I am  very overwhelmed by the ministry opportunities that come along my way.  Invitations to preach in other Methodist churches are quite many and I had to turn them down throughout last year.  I need to focus on my own church and serving in the Board of Evangelism.  They invited me to preach on reaching out the indigenous people and deliverance ministry.  End of last year and at the beginning of this year I need to turn down many invitations again!  I find the needs here are so many.  Yet, I have to humbly turn them down for I only have 24 hour a day in my life.  I really need to learn how to focus and not do so much that I end up not pleasing Jesus.  In all my life ministry I have not rejected so many opportunities to preach.  Each time I reject, I learn to be humble and be pleasing to Jesus.  I believe I am limited in my time, energy and health.  In the process, I am praying about how I must train others to multiply what I am doing.  In short, I experience the blessing of how to be humble by admitting my own limitations.

I learn to minister a group of sisters in the ladies fellowship.  I teach and serve with them every Tuesday night.  I am the only brother in their midst.  Most of them are older than me.  I feel it is such a privilege to disciple them and build them so that they can be strong wives, mothers and grandmothers, and disciples of Jesus to serve their family, the church and the world outside.  Quite a few of them are zone leaders.  It is such a privilege to see their progress in their spiritual growth.  I witnessed that their relationships with one another are reconciled.  They learn to let go of their anxiety.  I put in special effort for cases that requires special attention; meeting them individually and counseling so that they are freed from bondages.

I am able to preach regularly in Mandarin again!  I am trained theologically in English but praise the Lord, I am confident to preach in Mandarin.  I only studied Mandarin until Primary 6 but I can do it over the pulpit.  Thank God for blessing me with the Mandarin bible and the newspaper which I read every now and then.  It helps to train and equip me to be competent to preach and minister in Mandarin.

I am able to minister at Iban long houses.  My church is tasked to teach the Iban children at three long houses.  I am also given opportunities to preach there from time to time.  Compared to the past, I only get the opportunities during mission trip to long houses.  There are numerous long houses both near Sibu and outside Sibu.  Many long houses are yet to be reached out.

I also find that there is a big space in Sibu town to do Bahasa Malaysia ministry.  Praise the Lord I could conduct a BM seminar at a Sibu town church and eventually, they started the BM ministry.  They have thirty over people meeting weekly now.  I am always very excited to see more BM congregations planted in the town.

In terms of ministering in a deeper way, I find that Jesus bless me with the knowledge and skill to differentiate sharply between mental problem and demon possession.  I really do follow up and counsel the cases faithfully and study each case with patience and prayers.  I really give each case the proper attention he/she deserves.  At first, my skill of discerning the difference is not sharp at all.  Praise the Lord, after the two three cases, I am so empowered by the Holy Spirit to do it more accurately.  I really come to know more accurately what are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, for example.  I even personally accompanied 3 persons to see psychiatrists.  For most cases, I am called to see if they are demon possessed or not.  Most of the times, I discern that they are hit by mental problems.  Now, Jesus has blessed me with the opportunities to ask the questions like what are the causes of mental problems and how to avoid them.  I now have the desire to read more about the mental illnesses.

I also had the great opportunity to use my Master of Theology knowledge to teach five Iban pre-theological class.  I taught them spiritual  warfare and evangelism at Sibu Methodist Theological School.  I pray that I will be able to teach a subject in BM on cross-cultural pastoral care for the Chinese Theological students this year.  It is something that Jesus has put in my heart all this while.
I also have the great blessing of serving and making disciples with Sibu West District pastors, church leaders and lay people.  I come to know so many new faces and I am so privileged to cross path with them.  Each new face I meet, I always try to remember them by taking their photos and telephone contacts.  Each new person whom I come to know brings me new opportunities of disciple making.  I just feel that because I know the person before, now I can serve him/her better.

My mind is greatly challenged to think and see things (areas of need) that challenged me to be even more visionary in Sibu.  I am here only for one year and I am so blessed!  I pray that I will be in this present church, En Tao Methodist, for at least another five years.  I have been working on a five year plan for this church.  Though I do not serve here full time as I have to serve the Board of Evangelism, I enjoy the ministry with the brothers and sisters (fellow disciples) here so much.  My family is greatly loved and supported.  We are so blessed here in this church.

A Disciple of Jesus - Pastor Law Hui Seng
(En Tao Methodist Church, Sibu, 3/1/2015)


Abundant Blessings of Moving out of Comfort Zone

Written by Rev Law Hui Seng
Posted by Teresa Han


Abundant Blessings of Moving out of Comfort Zone
I have been obeying Jesus and learn to move out of comfort zone.  By end of November 2013, I was posted to Sibu and moved out of Miri, my comfort zone.  I had ever written that I was so well received and loved by Miri brothers and sisters. I could also just live in my own newly purchased home at Lutong, Miri. However,  I chose to obey Jesus and move to Sibu.

Prices to Pay
Deep down in my heart, I knew, then, I would have to pay a price for such a move.  My dear wife would have to separate with her close friends in Grace Methodist Church (which we served for 9 long years) and other Miri Methodist churches.  She had to let go of all the familiar home, church ministry (especially Girls’ Brigade), doctors (who took very good care of her and my family) markets and shopping complexes, roads, etc.  She had to start to build new relationships all over again.  She had to face the stress of finding new friends and building up ministry.  She has to face the challenge of doing it with a not so good heart condition as she is having heart valve leakage.  She cannot be overstressed.

My children would have to pay a price for me to obey Jesus.  They would miss their classmates in schools.  They grew up in Pujut Primary School right from primary one to primary six.  They finished Form One and Two in Miri Chung Hua Secondary School. They were actually very used to Chung Hua School.  They were used to the teachers, principals, classmates, environment and the expectations at the school.  They were at a point of building wonderful relationships and enjoy the friendships.  They also began to like the ISCF.  They also wanted to study hard to do well in their studies.  However, for the reason of my posting and obedient to Jesus, they needed to let go of all the relationships, the familiar and hopes.  I may not be able to understand how much they did not like my move.  I had tried to prepare them for my move and yet, the shock, the hurt, the disorientation, the disappointments and the damages they faced were something I might not fully grasped.  I did explain to them about the technicality of posting and my obedience to Jesus.  It was hard still for them to understand.  They were reluctant to move to Sibu.  They lost their zeal and motivation to study and do well in studies.  Especially my twin boys used to study harder and kept improving in their studies, but now, they felt it was pointless to do so in the new school.

How we Responded?
My wife and I did not force the twin boys to study and took up tuition as they used to in Miri.  They did their PT3 this year and yet we did not send them for tuition.  We were patient with them and tried to understand how much they were disoriented and disappointed.  We made sure that they finished their homework. We prayed very much for them to adjust to the new school (Methodist Secondary School).  We prayed for them to realize the importance of education.  They did not throw their tantrum but they just refused to study hard to face the PT3 (Form 3 Government public examination)!  We parents were anxious at first, but we learnt to let go; and trusted Jesus that He would open a way for them.  We prayed much and really expected Jesus to intervene.  Things did not get better in the sense that they would study harder as the examination was getting nearer last year.  They did not really put in more effort except going for 2 to 3 times of Science tuition before PT3 as they were invited by their Science teacher. Also, I observed that they did study harder only the night before the examination of each subject.  I expected them to fail most of the subjects!

The twins also did not adjust well in church life though the youths of the church tried hard to relate with them.  We also encouraged very much to be involved in the youth activities but they were not keen to attend.  We were careful not to force them to take part.

Deep down in my heart, I did not blame Jesus for such reaction in my twins.  I took it as they had to learn this life lesson of adjustment everywhere we go.  Honestly, I knew Jesus would open a way no matter what.  We prayed and we never gave up on our twins.  We believe He would help us to overcome the obstacle and the twins will be studious again.

Mercy, our youngest daughter did miss her friends and school in Miri but she adjusted quite well in the same Methodist Secondary School as the twin brothers.  She was able to find good friends both in the new church and school much faster than the twin brothers who tended to keep to themselves.  She was put in a good class and competed well with her classmates.

Our eldest child, Grace finished her A level at Kuala Lumpur Methodist College and came back in the middle of last year.  She started work at Sibu Methodist Care Centre among the children with special needs in early July last year.  She plans to pursue a qualification in special education as she has a burden for them.  She adjusted quite well in the new church and work environment after six months though she hardly made any friends in church at first.  Now she has a few friends at the work and in the new church especially after she decided to participate in more activities.  She enjoys her work.  This year, she committed to join the church youth choir.

Owing to the fact that I believe it is God’s will for us to move out of Miri, I had also prepared my wife and children for it.  I am willing to face all the prices my family has to pay.  My wife and I believe after twelve months, Jesus is blessing us tremendously.

Blessings that Come with Moving out of Comfort Zone
Willingness to pay the price for being obedient to Jesus also comes with tremendous blessings.  I cannot help but keep thanking God for He moved me to move out of my comfort zone!
When PT3 results were released, Tobias and Elliot did not fail many subjects as we had expected.  Each one of them scored three to four As and they obtained B, C, D, and E for the rest of the subjects. They only failed one subject.  This is a blessing and a big surprise for the whole family.  In terms of the new church environment, they started to relate to other youths lately.  The youth fellowship is also active in trying to get them involved in church ministry like choir, family group and fellowship.  In terms of school, before the end of Form 3, they started to mention about their friends and building up relationships with their classmates!

Mercy did well in her Form Two.  She took the studies seriously.  She studied much harder than she was in Miri.  She even managed to win a reward from me and flew to KL with her mother for a year end holiday.  She found new friends both in school and church quite soon. 
Grace has also made quite a few new friends both in church and at work.  She is now exploring the possibility of pursuing her special education degree.

My wife tried her best to help me in the ladies’ fellowship.  She would conduct bible studies during my absence.  She is slowly getting used to Foochow and Hinghua Chinese culture.  She is also involved in the Sunday School ministry in terms of leading the committee for the year end children bible camp.  This year, she is involved (with a few other ladies) in teaching and caring for the children while the adult fellowship is doing meeting every Friday night.  I am so encouraged to see her involved in ministry in her own way without pressure from me.  Last year and this year, I really do not want to ask to do much because I afraid that she might be overstressed and develop heart trouble.  She is actually undergoing half yearly medical follow up a Kuching Samarahan Heart Specialist Centre.  Praise the Lord, despite her heart condition, she can serve in her own way.  I believe she takes risk (of heart trouble) when she decides to serve brothers, sisters and children.
These above blessings are just few major ones.  The blessings I experienced are just tremendous.  I cannot help but keep thanking Jesus for all the serving opportunities and discipleship making that come my way.  It is not only Jesus is extending my ministry territory, He very much teaches me to serve people with depth.

I am  very overwhelmed by the ministry opportunities that come along my way.  Invitations to preach in other Methodist churches are quite many and I had to turn them down throughout last year.  I need to focus on my own church and serving in the Board of Evangelism.  They invited me to preach on reaching out the indigenous people and deliverance ministry.  End of last year and at the beginning of this year I need to turn down many invitations again!  I find the needs here are so many.  Yet, I have to humbly turn them down for I only have 24 hour a day in my life.  I really need to learn how to focus and not do so much that I end up not pleasing Jesus.  In all my life ministry I have not rejected so many opportunities to preach.  Each time I reject, I learn to be humble and be pleasing to Jesus.  I believe I am limited in my time, energy and health.  In the process, I am praying about how I must train others to multiply what I am doing.  In short, I experience the blessing of how to be humble by admitting my own limitations.

I learn to minister a group of sisters in the ladies fellowship.  I teach and serve with them every Tuesday night.  I am the only brother in their midst.  Most of them are older than me.  I feel it is such a privilege to disciple them and build them so that they can be strong wives, mothers and grandmothers, and disciples of Jesus to serve their family, the church and the world outside.  Quite a few of them are zone leaders.  It is such a privilege to see their progress in their spiritual growth.  I witnessed that their relationships with one another are reconciled.  They learn to let go of their anxiety.  I put in special effort for cases that requires special attention; meeting them individually and counseling so that they are freed from bondages.

I am able to preach regularly in Mandarin again!  I am trained theologically in English but praise the Lord, I am confident to preach in Mandarin.  I only studied Mandarin until Primary 6 but I can do it over the pulpit.  Thank God for blessing me with the Mandarin bible and the newspaper which I read every now and then.  It helps to train and equip me to be competent to preach and minister in Mandarin.

I am able to minister at Iban long houses.  My church is tasked to teach the Iban children at three long houses.  I am also given opportunities to preach there from time to time.  Compared to the past, I only get the opportunities during mission trip to long houses.  There are numerous long houses both near Sibu and outside Sibu.  Many long houses are yet to be reached out.
I also find that there is a big space in Sibu town to do Bahasa Malaysia ministry.  Praise the Lord I could conduct a BM seminar at a Sibu town church and eventually, they started the BM ministry.  They have thirty over people meeting weekly now.  I am always very excited to see more BM congregations planted in the town.

In terms of ministering in a deeper way, I find that Jesus bless me with the knowledge and skill to differentiate sharply between mental problem and demon possession.  I really do follow up and counsel the cases faithfully and study each case with patience and prayers.  I really give each case the proper attention he/she deserves.  At first, my skill of discerning the difference is not sharp at all.  Praise the Lord, after the two three cases, I am so empowered by the Holy Spirit to do it more accurately.  I really come to know more accurately what are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, for example.  I even personally accompanied 3 persons to see psychiatrists.  For most cases, I am called to see if they are demon possessed or not.  Most of the times, I discern that they are hit by mental problems.  Now, Jesus has blessed me with the opportunities to ask the questions like what are the causes of mental problems and how to avoid them.  I now have the desire to read more about the mental illnesses.

I also had the great opportunity to use my Master of Theology knowledge to teach five Iban pre-theological class.  I taught them spiritual  warfare and evangelism at Sibu Methodist Theological School.  I pray that I will be able to teach a subject in BM on cross-cultural pastoral care for the Chinese Theological students this year.  It is something that Jesus has put in my heart all this while.
I also have the great blessing of serving and making disciples with Sibu West District pastors, church leaders and lay people.  I come to know so many new faces and I am so privileged to cross path with them.  Each new face I meet, I always try to remember them by taking their photos and telephone contacts.  Each new person whom I come to know brings me new opportunities of disciple making.  I just feel that because I know the person before, now I can serve him/her better.

My mind is greatly challenged to think and see things (areas of need) that challenged me to be even more visionary in Sibu.  I am here only for one year and I am so blessed!  I pray that I will be in this present church, En Tao Methodist, for at least another five years.  I have been working on a five year plan for this church.  Though I do not serve here full time as I have to serve the Board of Evangelism, I enjoy the ministry with the brothers and sisters (fellow disciples) here so much.  My family is greatly loved and supported.  We are so blessed here in this church.

A Disciple of Jesus - Pastor Law Hui Seng

(En Tao Methodist Church, Sibu, 3/1/2015)

Brunei Sermon Apostle’s Creed (4)

17th November, 2013 Written by Rev Law Hui Seng Posted by Teresa Han Main Idea: Holy Spirit and the Universal Church Objectives: a. To teach the roles of the Holy Spirit and the Universal Church. b. To challenge the congregation to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve Christ in the church. A. Introduction - This is the last part of my four parts sermon on Apostle’s Creed. I pray that as you recite the Apostle’s Creed every Sunday, you now become more aware of the meaning of it and you become very sure of your faith. - This part is concerning : I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life ever-lasting. B. I Believe in the Holy Spirit - Most Christians do not understand the doctrine of the Holy Spirit well. It is an irony because the most powerful Spirit of Christ in the universe in inside us and yet, owing to our lack of understanding of the Holy Spirit, we fail to be empowered by the Spirit. I believe the most fundamental reason for the lack of empowerment is due to lack of knowledge of the Spirit. It happens because we do not read the bible thorough enough to have the overall or holistic picture of the Holy Spirit. - In this sermon, I cannot preach much about the doctrine because of the time limitation. I can only preach on 3general roles of the Holy Spirit. - God the Father is concerning His creation of the new world; God the Son is about how He gave new life and its substance and possibility; and God the Spirit is about a new relationship. Through God the Spirit, we believers can build up our new relationship with God the Father and the Son. - One non-Christian has criticized Christianity that if there is only one God, then, this God is a lonely God. He could not accept this God. You see how he developed his human concept of God. To help him to understand more about our one God concept, I explain to him the relationship of the Trinitarian God. How they know one another and relate to one another; how God sent Jesus and how Jesus sent the Spirit; how only God the Father knows the timing of Jesus second coming and Jesus does not know; how Jesus was bearing the burden of sin and how on the cross at that dark moment, God the Father cut off His relationship with Jesus. And at the end of the day, I still told him, there is only one God. He seemed to nod his head slightly. I simply told him our God, Trinitarian, is in fellowship. - In the New Testament, we can understand the Holy Spirit in terms of the gospel, book of Acts and the apostolic letters. After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him. Then, the Holy Spirit and the acts and words of Jesus were inseparable. However, Jesus only mentioned two times in the gospel of Mark, one time when He taught that blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is an eternal sin (Mark 3:29) and the other time was when the disciples were witnessing for Him (Mark 13:11). Scholars believed that it has to do with Jesus’ initial reluctance to reveal His Messiah identity. Let us now take a look at 3 roles of the Holy Spirit. (1). The Holy Spirit empowers us to relate to God. - Apostle Paul taught that Jews and Gentiles were united in Christ to enter into personal relationship with God. Together they were the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). - Apostle John in the Gospel of John 3:5 quotes Jesus in saying only those who are born of water and the Spirit can enter the kingdom of heaven. Through the work of the Holy Spirit a person enters into a close relationship with God. (2) The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness. - Take for example, in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic monks, formed Jesuit Order, and observed 4 vows, celibacy, poverty, evangelism (to the Muslims) and obedience to Christ. Their great sacrifice has advanced the mission of Christ in terms of education, medical care, helping the poor and winning many to Christ. - These institutions are made possible as the Holy Spirit empowers the disciples of Jesus to bear godly characters. With these godly characters (e.g., love and faithfulness), they persevere despite the odds. Galatians 5:22,23 ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…’ - In modern days, Churches are taking up the challenge to enter the society to serve the society as individual Christians and as churches or denomination, by setting up institutions like school, orphanage home, care for the poor and needy, mentally challenge children, kidney dialysis centre, counseling centre, giving tuition to the poor students, home for the aged, etc. (3) The Holy Spirit empowers us to do signs and wonders. - Denominational churches tend to have rigid liturgy, Christians who are secularized, hearts of believers grow cold, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to worship Him in Spirit and truth. Our lives are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do signs and wonders. Believers are challenged to wake up to obey God’s call to make a difference for Jesus, both as individuals and as a church. - Like what Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians in1:18-21, ‘I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly realms, far above the rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.’ - The power that resurrected Jesus from the death is also inside us, so, the Holy Spirit is able to empower us to do signs and wonders. No wonder, after ascension of Jesus to heaven, for example, Apostle Peter being empowered by the Holy Spirit to heal a crippled beggar. Acts 3:6-8, ‘Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazereth, walk. Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and naturally the man’s jumped to his feet and began to walk..” - Apostle and disciples were indeed empowered by the Holy Spirit as taught by Jesus in Acts 1:8,9, ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ - Are you convinced to do that we as disciples of Jesus are called to do signs and wonders because we empowered by the Holy Spirit? I pray that you do. C. The holy catholic Church - In the New Testament original Greek, the word for church is ekklesia, it is formed by 2 words, ek, which means ‘out’, klesis, which means ‘called’. Therefore, the word ekklesia means the community that is called out. The word is used in Mathew 16:18 when Jesus said, ‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,…’ Mathew 18:17 when Jesus said, ‘If he refuses to listen to listen to them, tell it to the church…’ - Today, the meanings of the church is coming from the writings of Apostle Paul on metaphors of the church, the major ones are God’s people, body of Christ, communion and the spirit. - As God’s people, Christians’ most important responsibility is to proclaim the achievement of Christ on the cross. It says in 2Corinthians 5:19, ‘that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.’ Therefore, Christians gather and meet as a church is not only for fellowship purpose, but it is also for the purpose of going out to spread the gospel of kingdom. - As a body of Christ, she has her visible sign of mission, that is to love one another as commanded by Jesus. This is the centre of church life and it is also the whole purpose of fellowship. 1Corinthians 11:29 ‘For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.’ Colossians 1:13’For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.’ The fellowship of here is not because of the Christians’ nature which love it but it is because we belong to the same body whose head is the Christ. And Christ died a sacrificial death to for His body of followers. - This is the foundation for church existence. How can we believers be faithful to this foundation? This involves the recreation power of the Holy Spirit. The fellowship community involves the power of Holy Spirit who dwells in the body of believers. Apostle Paul talked about believers, ‘…bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of Spirit through the bond of peace.’ (Ephesians 4;3,4) This is the meaning of fellowship of the Holy Spirit. - The church is capable of mission, love and fellowship not because she is morally right or clean or perfect, because Trinitarian God is holy and living among the believers. - The church is catholic because throughout history we believe in the same doctrine. D. The communion of saints - This is about the relationship among all believers; believers and believers – the saints. Believers are called saints by Apostle Paul, John and Peter. 1Corinthians 1:2 , John 10:36 and 1Peter 1:2, the apostles addressed believers as saints. The common justification for the address is because the believers are made holy or sanctified (hoi hagioi) by the redemption of Christ, not because we are now morally right. We are now saints because Christ died a redemptive death, which results in the forgiveness of our sins. This can be done all because of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believers. This is why the communion of the saints has to be after the belief in the Holy Spirit. 1Corinthians 6:11 ‘…you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our Lord.’ - The communion of all the saints throughout the world is marked at least by freedom, equality and love. Communion of saints is marked by freedom. Apostle Peter said in Acts 15:10 ‘…why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?’ This is a concept that tolerates the freedom of choice. - If we want the saints to serve Christ, we need to remove our control over them, otherwise, they will serve human beings and not Christ/God. Unless we are freed from fear, we cannot have love, we also cannot have real ministry. If we fear punishment, death, guilt, losing position or interests, we will be enslaved by punishment, death, guilt, gaining and losing. And we are no more living as saints. - Communion of saints is marked by equality. Those who went to Antioch from Judea had gone against the principle of the Holy Spirit and did not treat all believers equally. Apostle Peter said in Acts 15:8,9 ‘God who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He make no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.’ - Recognizing the rights of others does not mean you forgo your own rights or opinions. Therefore, there can be differences in equality. It does not matter whether these differences are cultural, racial, because of skin, sex, or opinions or coming from different angles. To the Jerusalem believers, they see the gentile church this way because this is how God treats them. - Communion of saints is marked by love. Only after we can treat one another with freedom and equality, only then, we treat one another as brothers and sisters with love. E. The forgiveness of sins - We are in the church because of one reality, that is, our sins are forgiven by Jesus. Because our sins are forgiven, we become new people and we are united in Spirit. We need to remind ourselves of the forgiveness so that we do not yield to the temptations of all kinds. - Forgive in Greek is aphiemi, it is used 142 times in the New Testament. The central message of New Testament is Christ used His own life to exchange for the freedom of man, so that man do not need to be enslaved by sin. His preaching and actions show His willingness to forgive sinners. His forgiveness of man’s sins is not only reflected in His preaching but very much shown by His acceptance of sinners. His acceptance of sinners even costs His life. - In view of Christ’s forgiveness, we must forgive and accept ourselves, others and fear God more than anything else. F. The resurrection of the body - As Christians look forward, we see resurrection, and we see the hope of resurrection with Christ, new life in Christ. There are only 2 key passages in the New Testament: Mark 12:18-27; 1Corinthians 15 bout resurrection of Christ. - Concerning Mark 12, Jesus is answering the Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead because they could not find the record of it in Mosaic Law. Jesus pointed out that resurrection is due to the power of God. Our body will be the glorified body, completely changed body. This body and this person will not continue the earthly relationships like husband and wife. - Concerning 1Corinthians 15, Apostle Paul addressed Christians who believed in resurrection of the soul and spirit of believers but not with their changed physical body. This was because of the influence of the Greek philosophy on the Christians. Apostle Paul emphasized that Christ’s resurrection was not His soul and spirit leaving the physical body, but His resurrected body is both soul and spirit and physical body altogether which is transformed into glorified body. He has defeated the power of sin, He is no more escaping from the body, but owning the victorious body, transformed body. This is the kind of body which we are going to acquire. G. And life everlasting - Eternal life is a life maintaining close relationship with God. This is why John said in 1John 5:12, ‘He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.’ - Eternal life emphasizes the importance of present life. We treasure all the present opportunities because we who have eternal life live in the kingdom of God, live in the space of God. H. Conclusion - I pray that every time you recite the Apostles’ Creed you will do it with understanding and it strengthens your relationship with Jesus. Rev Law Hui Seng

Apostle’s Creed (3)

BruneiSermon 25th August, 2013 Written By Rev Law Hui Seng Posted By Teresa Han Main Idea: Jesus’ resurrection, coming back and judgment. Objectives: 1. To understand the significance of Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, death and burial in relationship to our life. 2. To understand the meanings of His resurrection; sitting at the right hand of God; His coming back; and the judgment of the quick and the dead. A. Introduction - In my last sermon on the Apostle’s creed, I preached to you on how God is Almighty; how we Christians believe in the person of Jesus; and His conception by the Holy Spirit. - Today’s sermon will focus on Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, sitting at the right hand of God, and His coming to judge the quick and the dead - “suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified, dead, and buried; - He descended into hell. - The third day He arose again from the dead; - He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” - I pray the works of Jesus will inspire you and challenge each of you to be His great disciples. B. Suffered under Pontius Pilate - Why the name Pontius Pilate is so significant in the Apostle’s Creed? What is the importance of Jesus’ suffering in the creed? What is the purpose of suffering of Jesus for our faith? - Nobody can deny the historical facts of the creed. - Pontius Pilate is a historical person who existed. - Jesus was crucified under his hand; He suffered, died and buried under his political rule. - To all us Christians throughout the centuries, ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate’ means the Son of God for the purpose of redeeming us, He entered history. He suffered and died under Pontius Pilate, a real human. Nobody can deny it. It happened in time and space. It was not made up story. It did not happen in some imagination or through some psychological effects. - Therefore, Jesus Himself embraced the world by becoming a human being. As He went through the motion of a human being and even suffered, we will be ever to find the meaning of our earthly suffering and a way out of it. This is the meaning of suffered under Pontius Pilate. - Jesus is word of God became flesh 2,000 years ago at Bethlehem, doing preaching, healing and deliverance all over the places at Galilee and Jerusalem. - At the age of 33, he suffered under Pontius Pilate. What He did can be seen, touched and measured. No wonder John said in 1John 1:1 ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.’ - The suffering of Jesus. - If Christians/ disciples of Jesus like you and me can understand Jesus suffering, then, one can practice his or her faith in our life and society. It can help those who face trials and suffering in life. - Normally we understand Jesus’ 33 years of life on earth by focusing on his miraculous birth and His great suffering. We do this at the expense of not relating His process of life to His works of salvation. - As a result, because we focus on the supernatural and so we neglect His ordinary life and we do not relate His ordinary life to our ordinary life. For example, how we do not ask Jesus to empower us to forgive others or ourselves. - We always find it hard to relate His life long teaching to our lives. For most Christians, we do not dialogue with Jesus 33 years of life. - So we need to put Jesus life into its proper perspective. His whole life is very much linked and it is an integrated whole. We need to do this correction. - When we do that, for example, to understand the concept of forgiveness on the sermon of the mount, our method will not be to ask: How to love our enemies? Taking Jesus life as a whole, we should ask who is this person who teaches us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? The standard answer of course is the Jesus who died for us sinners. - The bottom line then is not whether I can forgive or not; or the heart of the matter is not whether I have the ability to forgive or not. The heart of the matter is what Jesus has achieved for all sinners, including our enemies or those who persecute us. Then loving our enemies become no big deal. - What has this kind of approach of understanding Jesus to do with the suffering of Jesus? There are 3 aspects of Jesus’ suffering. - Firstly, as long as we do not compartmentalize Jesus life, His whole life is a definition of suffering. For example, how He was denied a proper birth place; His nature of call or mission was not understood by His parents; when He was tempted in the wilderness, He was alone; living among the sinners, He experienced how sin brought about rejection; while healing the sick, He empathize with them; in His last days, He was rejected by different levels of leaders; and eventually He died a sacrificial death. In His last few days of earthly life, He was rejected by Judas, Peter and even God the Father on the cross. - Secondly, Jesus suffering is for a great purpose. He died for the great purpose of redemption. - Thirdly, as we understand Jesus’ birth till His death as suffering, we can see how He identifies with those who suffered in life. - Let us see how Jesus’ suffering is related to us. - Suffering and Christians. - Suffering does not only inflict on our body but very much on our inner hurts. Things like I do not deserve this. It causes people to be bitter, doubting our own values, self-condemnation, self denial is the climax of suffering. A lot of us because we have not overcome our inner hurts, we become more and more self-centered. In other words, bitterness appears in other forms. It is sin in every form; it is sin who causes us to distance ourselves from Him. - Good news today for you all, the suffering of Jesus ministers to our suffering. - Jesus’ suffering is for our deepest sins and inner hurts. He understands our deepest hurts because He has gone through it. C. Was Crucified - It was such a shameful thing for Jesus to be regarded as a criminal though He was without sin, but still sentenced to death. The punishment on the cross on those days was the most humiliating instrument of punishment .- Today, we use the cross as a symbol, the church uses it as a design, some hang it on our necklace, we sing about the cross, etc. Is there anything good about the cross? - In fact, His crucifixion was foretold in the Old Testament. In Luke 24: 26, 27, Jesus said, ‘Did not Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scripture concerning himself.’ - When Jesus was tried, He did not answer much but whatever He answered, it had to do with His identity. His answers caused Him death. And Jesus, for the purpose of mankind, He knew the consequence of His identity answers. - Mark 14:61, 62, ‘…the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” - Jesus’ death was the triumphant of the power of darkness but it is the turning point for mankind’s destiny. Now, people of all kinds have a hope of salvation. D. Dead, and buried; He descended into hell. - The consequence of crucifixion is dead, burial and descending to hell. It is an absolute consequence of all human death and now Jesus has successful redeemed it for us.- From God’s perspective, no matter how human beings try to go to God, it is absolutely no way because Christ has to do it for human beings. - It shows that the created human beings have no way to save ourselves. - Is dead the end of everything? To people who do not believe it, they say it is. But the Bible says otherwise. - The term hell here is not referred to as a place of punishment, it is equal to the Greek term Hades or the Hebrew term Sheol. It means a place of stay for the dead. - 1Peter 3:19 (Jesus preached to the spirits in the prison); 4:6 (gospel was preached to those who were dead). - Those who choose Jesus can be assured that we will not go there. For us we go to paradise.- All the more the next phrase of the creed talks about resurrection. E. The third day He arose again from the dead - 1Corinthians 15:4, says ‘that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.’- The creed has singled out a belief, which is real and a fact. - If it is a fact, then, it has these significance: 1. The date of its happening was the third day after the crucifixion; 2. The resurrection is proven by evidence, i.e., people saw Jesus who was alive, also the empty tomb; 3. The resurrection actually caused the formation of the church by first century Christians. - Jesus lived with disciples for 40 days. This gave them hope. In fact, before this, the disciples had gone back to their own profession and buried their faith behind their mind. - Acts 2:36, ‘…let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this, Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord, and Christ.’ - This is where we Christians believe we will resurrect like Jesus because He has the power to resurrect us. 1Corinthians 15:20 ‘But Christ has indeed raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ F. He ascended into heaven - How do we understand ascension? The resurrection of Jesus, does it refer to His bodily resurrection? How His physical body who lived with the disciples for 40 days disappeared?- Acts 1:9 says, ‘After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.’ - New Testament does not emphasize the resurrected body like it emphasizes the birth and death. - John 20:17, Jesus said to Mary, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father…’ And then in verse 27, Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, see my hands, Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” - How then Jesus ascended to heaven ?- Luke clearly recorded the independent incident of Jesus ascension. Luke 24:50-51, ‘When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.’ - It was a real event which happened in time and space and full of miracle and mystery. Mind you, when you read books by theologians like Macquarrie, Moltman, Kung, Barth and Tillich, you have to be careful as they do not believe in ascension of Jesus. This is because they do not believe in miracle. - Now, how does ascension relate to our life today? - Firstly, ascension is the pivotal point between word becomes flesh and Christ coming back again. We need to be accountable to Him for what we do on earth. - Secondly, it singles the end of a time period. It marks the beginning of another period, a time of faith. - Thirdly, it marks the beginning of a new relationship, where the relationship between human being and God is no more limited by time and space. G. And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty - An important reference that supports this part of the creed is Psalms 110:1, ‘The Lord says to my Lord:”Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your heart.” Jesus used this verse to answer the question of the great high priest about His identity. He said in Mark 14:62, ‘… “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” This is the famous Messianic text and because of this confession, He was sentenced to death. - Jesus’ disciples also a verse like to prove that He is the Messiah.- With that Messianic identity being proven from the Old and New Testaments, now let us move on to the meanings of sitting on the right hand of God. - Sitting on the right hand of God means the King who will judge the quick and the dead. He holds all the authority in heaven and earth. - It also means He is now the priest, interceding for us, redeeming our sin, representing God in pronouncing forgiveness of our sins and His acceptance of us. H. from thence he shall come - The past of Christ, His present work and future work all cannot be separated. - His coming back gives hope of salvation and eternal life; and we need to watch out for His coming back (like a thief) and be prepared to give an account for our life on earth. - This makes whatever He taught to the disciples meaningful. He can check on us every now and then whether we obey His word. Confuscious or Buddha cannot do it. I. To judge the quick and the dead - His coming back is to judge the world. Does this make us fear Him? His judgment is about eternal death in and eternal life in heaven. - The judgment is not the same meaning as the present court judgment according to the law of a country. - The standard used is the justice of God. It is not only a future event but it is also something immediate. Meaning to say after ascension, Jesus continue to judge us every now and then. - How? By whether we respond to His salvation or not. Whether we repent or not. By our conscience and the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins. J. Conclusion - Can you now explain your faith more clearly as you get to understand more of the Apostle’s Creed? - I pray that it will not be a mere knowledge to you but it is something that empowers your Christian life and holiness on earth.

Make A Right Judgement

GMC Sermon
14th July, 2013

Written By Rev Law Hui Seng
Posted By Teresa Han


John 7:1-24

Main Idea: Make judgement based on the word of God/truth.

Objectives: To challenge the congreation to make judgement based on the word of God/truth.



A. Introduction

- We all make judgements everyday. Sometimes we even make judgements about peoples’ character and personality. We say so and so is selfish, greedy, bias, telling lie, and proud. So and so is honest, can be trusted, hardworking, responsible and wise. These are negative and positive judgements we make about peoples’ character. We say so and so tend to be negative, boastful, and neglect details and careless. So and so tend to be a very positive person; very detailed person and hardly make mistakes in giving information and calculation; tend to be objective in his/her outlook. This is making judgements about someone’s personality. Do you agree?

- Judges in the court make judgements about who is guilty after both the acussed and the prosecutor submitted their facts that counter one another. Sometimes the judgements delivered according to the law of the country can result in fine, jail sentences, canning, confinement to a locality, and even death sentence. Judges make judgements and the guilty party will be punished.

- All of us who make judgements will have consequences also. Whatever the judgement you make, wrong or right judgement, there are implications. Therefore, we need to consider very carefully, before we make any judgement that has implications on ourselves, family, neighour, colleagues, relatives, and even the whole society.

- As disciples of Jesus, by all means we make judgements which bless as people as possible.

- In Jesus’ time, He challenged people to make right judgement about who He was. He was very frustrated with the fellow Jews who judged Him wrongly about His identity. That was why He said in verse 24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement.”

- I strongly believe Jesus is still teaching us and challenging us to make a right judgement about Him and about the truth today? Let us see the context of His challenge.

B. The Context of His challenge to make a right judgement

- The Gospel of John is written with the purpose to challenge readers to become disciples of Jesus, that is to choose to follow Jesus as Messiah or Saviour. So, you see the Jews, all the Jewish religious leaders and the Pharisees in the background actually either agree with Jesus about His messiahship or disagree with it. Jesus challenged them to switch over to His side and follow Him as messiah.

- As a result, there was great tension between Jesus and all the Jewish religious groups who could not agree with Him. You should sense this dangerous tension as you read the gosple of John. I say it was a dangerous tension because the opposing Jews actually plot to kill Him for they could not agree that He was the Messiah sent by God. They even accused Jesus of blaspheming God for His claim as Messiah.

- John 5:18, it says the Jews plot to kill Him because He made Himself equal with God. They mooted the idea to kill Jesus after He commanded the invalid to take the mat and walk. He did it and he was healed. Jesus broke the law of Sabbath because He asked someone to the mat and walked. The Jews were very angry with Him and wanted to to kill Him.

- And obviously, there were Jews, even including Pharisees who believe Jesus as the one sent by God. The famous example is Nicodemus. John 3 talked about Nicodemus who was a Pharisee who belonged to Jewish ruling council came to meet Jesus secretly at night and asked about how to enter kingdom of God. Jesus answered that a person must be born again by water and spirit.

- And in John 9:22, the author of the gospel of John quoted the parents whose son was healed by Jesus of his born blindness and was investigated by the Pharisees; the parents were of the Jews because they had decided that anyone who acknowleged Jesus as the Christ/Messiah would be excommunicated from the Synagogue. This shows that there were Jews who switched to Jesus secretly. All these show that some Jews were influenced by Jesus deeds and teaching.

- In the face of such tension Jesus’ life was endangered. In verse 1, it said so. Verse 13 says that nobody \dared to say anything public about Jesus for fear of the Jews who would excommunicate them from the synagogue. At the same time, there were Jews who could only whispered that Jesus was a good man (verse 12). Others said He deceived people (verse 12).

- Half way through the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacle (Jews commerating how God provided for them in wilderness when they managed to build shelter in the 40 years of wilderness life), Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem temple courts secretly and taught (verse 14). His teaching actually by any standard amazed people though He did not receive from any recognized Jewish authority (verse 15).

- Jesus was not lying when He secretly went to the Feast of Tabernacle though He did not go as invited by His brothers. He said the right time (kairos) had not come. For His brothers, they wanted Him to go to the feast to perform miracles to gain honor for Himself. But for Jesus, it was not the right time (moment) to do it. Instead, He went just to teach in the temple courts; no miracle was performed because the moment, the kairos to do it had not yet come. Therefore, there was no contradiction with His brothers.

- In response to peoples’ amazement, Jesus claimed only those who did the will of the Father would understand His teaching was coming from the one who sent Him (verses 16-18). Especially in verse 18, Jesus said, “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth, there is nothing false about him. And He openly challenged the Jews in verse 19, “Has not Moses keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?’

- The crowd who might be made up of other Jews did not know of the plot against Jesus, and out of their ignorance, they reacted by suggesting that Jesus was demon possessed, paranoid, delusion.

- Jesus now tried to recall how the other Jews first became angry towards Him for healing the invalid on Sabbath day and broke the Mosaic law. Jesus argued back and said the Jews had also broken the Sabbath law by circumcising a child on Sabbath day, it was work and not rest. Circumcision was done to mark the Jewish covenant with God that they are His children in Old Testament.

- Jesus was going for the spirit and not the letter of the law by healing the sick, doing what was needed to help humanity, that was to heal the whole person on the Sabbath (verse 23). This provoked a conspiracy among the general Jews (John 5:1-18).

- It is in this great context, Jesus said in verse 24, “Stop judging by mere appearance, and make a right judgement.” Judging by appearance might be focusing on the letter of the law. Jesus challenged them to think, “Was He wrong by meeting the human need of healing the sick? Was He wrong by going after the spirit of the law?”

- Apostle wrote something very powerful to the Corinthians in 2Cor 3:6, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter, but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Focusing on the letter is to follow word by word which makes things legalistic; focusing on the

Spirit is to see the overall purpose of the law.

- The greek work krino which NIV translated as judge means to distinguish, decide (mentally or judicially). It means by implication, to try, condemn, punish. It is equal to avenge, conclude, damn, decree, determine, go to law, call in question, sentence to.

- In view of the great context, Jesus said, “Make a right judgement.” And I entitled my sermon, “Make a right judgement.” Of course we need to make the right judgement as taught by Jesus. For Jesus, He challenged the Jews to make a right judgement in view of the will of God about Jesus Himself.

- Unfortunately, the Jews made a wrong judgement about the person of Jesus, they judged Him as blaspheming God, disobeying the Sabbath law, and eventually pressurized the government of the day to put Him to death on the cross.

- As I said earlier, all our judgements have consequences.
C. Applications on making judgement.

- Brothers and sisters, for Jesus He made judgement based on the will of the Father; for the Jews they made a judgement based on the letter of the Mosaic Law. For us Christians, what should be the basis of our judgement? It must be the word of God, the whole bible. Do you agree? Therefore, your whole life has to learn and study the bible.

- I always teach that when you face life, you need to face 3 persons: Jesus Christ, others and yourself. Whatever you do, you need to go through 3 persons. You make judgement about anything, you need to ask these 3 persons. And the bottom line of measure of right or wrong, ethical or not, moral or not, valuable or not, worth it or not, will the consequences be positive or not, building up people or not, will it hurt or not, wise or not, are the long term consequences good, must the word of God.

- One guy (a Christian) in his late 20s decided to buy a luxurious car (that was his initial decision and judgement) and he did not have the money to do it. He was persuaded by his friend to approach the power of darkness (to worship certain powerful) to pray to strike lottery tickets. He made a decision and judgement to worship the false god. Then, he really gained stakes of money as this god had blessed him by striking the 4 digit lotter ticket. You see how the devil uses our greed to tempt us. Praise the Lord, the word of God came to him and he realized he was compromising on his faith; he was selling away his life to the devil by worshipping the false God. Upon reflection on the word of God that says “Thou shall not worship the idols.”, he made a decision and the right judgement, then, he burnt all the money. I pray that you see the power of God’s word in making your right judgemnet.

- Let us apply what Jesus is teaching us into the issue of corruption. Corruption is wrong, do you agree? Why? Can anyone here explain why it is wrong in view of the word of God? It is wrong because it encourages both the giver and the receiver to be greedy. It is wrong because it involves abuse of power even to do bad things like denying others a fair chance of competion; concentrating too much wealth in a few hands in a country. When you bribe, you get your license of trading easily; the rakyat have to face the high prices of instructure and even cost of living. At the end of the day, the poor gets poorer, the rich gets richer all the time.

- Let us apply Jesus’ teaching today into finding a life partner today. Make your judgement about what kind of man or lady do you want. Can you make a judgement to choose someone who put greatest priority in obeying Jesus, serving Him and fearing Him with all the godly charaters? Can you not be carried away by his or her ‘thick’ wallet, good career, good look, sweet talk, and all the external appearance that Jesus teaches us?

- Let us apply the teaching today into how you use your time. Do you spend your time for godly purpose? Do you give priority to coming to small group, prayer meeting, spending time with your family members and friends and colleagues who give you positive influence? Can you make a right judgement about who you mix with? I do prison ministry, I find that all prisoners ended up there because they mix with wrong companies?

D. Conclusion

- Can you see why we have to make a right judgement in view of God’s word? When you do so, I believe your whole life from beginning to the end will not be a regret.

- Be humble to do it.

Making Disciples Among Indigenous People in Postmodernism

Introduction

One of the key philosophies of postmodernism is there is no absolute truth. Everything can be subjective and relative. What you think is the truth, it is the truth? Under this philosophy, an individual opinion can become a truth. Whoever is championing the so called ‘truth’ after a while, his idea may be accepted as the truth. You can imagine how dangerous is the thinking. In the midst of it, how do should SCAC train the indigenous Christians to be disciples of Jesus? How do you shepherd them in a circumstance where they are hit by postmodernism.

If the Iban Christians believe that miring, mimpi (dream), manang (bomoh/witch doctor), antu (hantu/ghost) is as good as Jesus, and azimat (tallisman) is as effective as Jesus, how do we help them to realize that these traditional beliefs are not the truths. They worship these beliefs and also, at the same time, worship Jesus as God, it is called syncretism. It erodes their pure faith in Jesus. I pray that a simple summary of the outcome of my research will empower those of us who shepherd the indigenous Christians.

A Biblical Response to the Traditional Beliefs

While each of the above requires a biblical response, but in this small article, I just give a general response to the root of the traditional beliefs. I believe that if the root or the foundation of their old beliefs is addressed, I have addressed the issue quite sufficiently. When I tackle the root problem, all the other surface problems will be taken care of.

The root of their traditional beliefs has to do with their old worldview. Their old worldview is daulistic. Victor T. King says Dayaks (including Iban) have a dualistic view of the cosmos. It is the union of the two deities; one representing the heavens, skies or the upper world, the other, the earth or the underworld. This duality is represented by bird symbols like the hornbill or hawk in the upper world; and in the underworld by the serpent or mythical dragon. The dual conception of the cosmos is also expressed by the association of the skies with maleness and head hunting, and the underworld is associated with femaleness and agriculture. Both the head hunting rites and agriculture ceremonies are central parts of a religion directed towards acquiring and increasing fertility.

Who are the deities in this dualistic cosmos? Iban can use the term ‘petara’ both in the singular and plural sense to represent their deities (gods). However, Petara is commonly used in the plural sense to represent deities of spirits; and the most important spirits with generic titles are the Salampandai, Sengalang Burung, and Pulang Gana. These three deities have important functions in the cosmos: Salampandai is the female spirit and the maker of man; Sengalang Burung (the Bird-chief) is the Iban God of war and the guarding spirit of brave men; and Pulang Gana the deity of the soil, the spirit which presides over the farm work.

Iban Christians cannot worship Jesus with the above dualistic worldview in their mind. Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians actually addressed the same syncretism issue experienced. Take for instance, in Colossians 2:8-23, ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ…do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day…Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his spiritual mind puffs him up with idle notion…Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules. Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!...and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.’ Colossian Christians still practice hollow and deceptive philosophy, New Moon celebration, worship of angels and being harsh to their body. They were converted to Christ and yet they still held on to their old worldview of old religion. They practiced syncretism.

How did Apostle Paul responded to the syncretism issue of Colossian Christian? He countered the old worldview by emphasizing on by emphasizing on Christian identity and supremacy of Christ.

By emphasizing on their Christian identity, Apostle Paul is teaching the Colossian Christians that they were believing in doctrines which are different from their old traditional beliefs. They should leave the old beliefs; they should not mix the old and their new beliefs in Christ. Apostle Paul teaches Colossian Christians that they have not only died (Col 3:3) and been buried with Christ in baptism (Col 2:12), but have already been raised with Him to a new heavenly life (Col 2:12-13; 3:1). Paul strongly emphasized the Colossian Christians’ identity in Christ. By participating with Christ in his resurrection, they share in the fullness of resurrection life: Christ delivers the Colossians from the tyranny of the unseen powers. As Iban Christians are firm about their own Christian identity in Christ, hopefully, they will leave their former gods and spirits. This implies that our BM pastors need to teach to strengthen their identity in Christ. With much teaching and training of their minds, their old worldview may be transformed to a new Christian worldview.

Besides, Apostle Paul also emphasized on the supremacy of Christ to teach the Colossian Christians not to be fearful of the spirits of their worldview; just as the Iban Christians are fearful of the spirits of the old worldview which may harm them. Apostle Paul emphasized on the highest power of Christ in 1:15-20. He taught that Christ is the first born of all creation; things visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him; He is the head of the Church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy; and through Him everything is reconciled with Him. If Iban Christians who are trained in their minds that Jesus is so supreme, I believe they will be courageous and not be scared of the spirits which haunted them in their old beliefs.

In view of their former worldview, besides empowering them in Christian identity and supremacy of Christ, BM pastors also need to train ourselves and our BM congregations to do spiritual warfare. The element of attacks by evil spirits is something very real. If this is not addressed, we may not be able to show them that Jesus is supreme and most powerful.

The Iban Christians whom SCAC BM pastors ministered now do not only have the above syncretism problem only. Many of them are educationally, socially, economically and politically weak. If these issues and needs are not addressed, then, we do not train them to be balanced, holistic and matured Christians. Take for instance, if the education of their children is not looked into, they may continue to be syncretistic. With a better education, they can understand the bible better and they may leave syncretism and embrace a pure faith in Jesus. All these also have very serious implications for BM pastoral ministry.

Proposing a BM Pastoral Disciple Making Model

With the above biblical, theological, educational, social, economic and political considerations, my research propose a BM pastoral disciple making model that should include the following principles.



A. Teaching the Iban Christians on their Christian identity and supremacy of Christ.

B. Equipping BM pastors and Iban Christians on doing spiritual warfare.

C. Doing social concerns to overcome their poverty, educational, social and political problems.

D. Training more Chinese theological students and indigenous Christians to be BM pastors.

Conclusion

I pray that the whole of SCAC, especially all pastors will pay attention to our BM ministry. Do mobilize your church to each out to the Iban and indigenous people of Sarawak by using BM. Many of them who are Christians may be syncretistic in this postmodern age, this challenge should become our opportunity to look into our resources like a great God in the person of Jesus, our connectionalism, financial strength, a great pool of younger generation who is well versed in BM, and the well furnished church buildings to train them to be powerful and matured Christians for Christ. I pray that through our efforts, we will produce the most powerful politicians which can become the chief minister of Sarawak and even the prime minister of Malaysian, the best doctors, engineers, accountants, teachers, and other professionals; and producing the most God fearing disciples of Jesus, indigenous men and women who will impact Sarawak and even Malaysia for Christ. Can you begin to pray more for them and reach out to them?



Written By Rev Law Hui Seng (Miri, 26th May, 2013)
Posted By Teresa Han