Choosing to be Tested (10/17/2018)

Dear friends,

This coming Sunday, Dr. Kai Pak Chan will bring the sermon message for us at the English service on James 1:1-15.  I mentioned it a few times already, but it is worth repeating: I very much appreciate the wisdom of the ETB editors in placing Galatians and James back to back as it provides a balanced perspective.  With our cultural addiction to religious entertainment, there couldn’t be a more timely and prophetic message than Galatians for the contemporary church-alholic Christians in America.  As I preached before, church attendance has often become the contextual equivalence of circumcision!  It calls us to critically reflect on our religion!

But how about James? The trials and temptations facing the “twelve tribes scattered among the nations,” the intended audience of James, seem a bit remote for us in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Yes, we are aware of religious persecutions happening everywhere from East to West Asia.  And yes, we do hear about the Interpol president being arrested while visiting China or WP journalist vanishing in Turkey.  However, such dangers happen a bit far from our daily lives.  We are media-savvy enough to know how to impose an information fast on ourselves if only to insulate us from the bad news of the world.  We know very much how to turn a blind eye to the lost so that we can retreat to our own echo chamber, saving our tears for our own self-pity.  In that sense, any talks of “trials and tribulations” could seem a bit shallow.  James could indeed seem very irrelevant to us.

But that need not be the case.  We need not live in a bubble.  For the first audience of James as well as for us, subjecting faith through test is a choice.  It is a conscious decision.  We want to be tested because we know that the test of faith produces perseverance, leading to maturity and success (James 1:3).  What it takes is the courage to transgress our comfort zone pre-emptively instead of reacting to it when the world makes it a battle zone.  Or at least, have the wisdom to know that hoarding wealth cannot buy you security (James 5:2-3) and the grace to recognize that “the wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you!” (James 5:4).  The relevance of the wisdom of James is therefore totally up to us.  We can choose to be wise!

This coming Friday night, Larry Urban from the Merrimack chapter of the Gideons International will visit us at the adult fellowship.  He will teach us how to use Bible cards for evangelism in our neighborhood.  Personal evangelism is the most practical way for us to meaningfully break out from our comfort zone.  It is effective.  And it will not feel awkward once you learn the basics.  So please, come to hear Larry out!

Some other upcoming events to note:

  • This Sunday, 10/21, the young adults will be having their second lesson on Worth, led by Joshua Zhang, meeting from 12:40-3:00pm in room A201 (Empower Room). Please bring your own lunch or buy from the cafeteria. If you have any questions, please contact Joshua at suuichi1247@gmail.com.
  • Ladies fellowship will be meeting this coming Sunday 10/21 for a topical discussion on “Hospitality” led by Angie Willems at the EC Fellowship Hall for lunch @12:30 pm and session starts at 1:00 pm. Child care will be provided. To better prepare for child care, let Pat (patriciafung5@gmail.com) know how many of you will need child care, and the age of your child (children).
  • Men’s group will meet on Saturday morning 10/27 at Augustine Ho’s house.  All adult men are invited.  Please contact me if you are interested.
  • The annual church meeting will be held on 10/28.  The official announcement can be found here: http://news.lowell.church/2018/10/17/2018-annual-meeting-announcement/
  • There will be a mini-retreat on hospitality, “Becoming a welcoming church,” led by Pastor John Frazier on 11/3, 10AM-3PM.  Please sign up ASAP.  More information and sign up form can be found here: http://news.lowell.church/welcoming/
  • A baptism service is scheduled on 12/9.  It will take place in the afternoon at a church nearby.  If you want to get baptized, please contact Pastor Nathan or me.

There will be regular prayer meeting at church tonight.  I hope to see you!

Blessings,

Gideon Lee

English Ministry Pastor, CBCGL