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

Joining God Requires Adjustment

Gideon Lee 7/25/2018

Dear friends,

This coming Sunday, Pastor John Frazier will continue our sermon series on Experiencing God with a study of the sixth reality, “joining God requires adjustment” (chapter 17).  If my former experience leading the Experiencing God series is of any reusable value, I’d say this is the make-or-break chapter for most people.  Some would perhaps have resisted Blackaby since reality 3, when Blackaby claims that God has a personal tailormade plan for individual Christians.  Others would find reality 4 preposterous when Blackaby claims that God speak to us personally and we could hear Him.  Even more would want reality 5, that accepting God’s invitation invariably leads to crisis of belief, not to be true.  “Don’t we have enough struggles in life to deal with already!?”  But reality 6 is where rubber meets the road.  There is something called inertia in physics.  People naturally resist changes.  People would rather keep doing the same old routine even when it reaches the point of depleting return.  But the key to lasting transformations is found in leveraging pivotal moments in life into making uncomfortable but necessary adjustments.

Brother Dan Yuan will be leaving for missions to China in August. It will indeed be quite an adjustment! But the fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:17-20) begins precisely with “going.” On Sunday, August 5, we will have “A Souper Potluck” organized for him from 12:30-2PM at the English Kitchen to give him a celebrative and prayerful send-off.  Please sign up here to indicate the soup, salad or dessert that you will bring.

The English ministry August business meeting is tentatively set to Sunday, August 12 from 11:30-12:30.  As we gear up for a new academic year and a new building, we will be making quite a few adjustments to anticipate growth and outreach to the community.  We will discuss the proposal for Sunday schedule change which the English ministry initiated, with subsequent amendments from different ministry committees and the Council.  On agenda is also the affirmation of the personnel recommendation from the EM nominating committee.

Major adjustments can often be bogged down by minor details.  To succeed in making systemic changes, we need to be intentional in keeping our attention on the megatrends and the big picture.  Facts and Trends (https://factsandtrends.net/) is a free online resource/quarterly magazine published by LifeWay that I’d strongly encourage all church leaders to subscribe.  I rarely find an article on this publication that is not timely and relevant to what we do at CBCGL.

For example, in re-imagining our Sunday program, Aaron Earls’ article “How the forgotten history of Sunday school can point the way forward” will prove perceptive and practical.  I stated unequivocally before I accepted my call to CBCGL that I think it is okay to outreach on Sunday.  I believe growing and healthy church consists primarily of members who go out to serve rather than come in to be served.  Times have changed; churches must adjust.  With their education level and the abundance of readily available resources, I expect that our church members will take the self-initiative to get educated for theology and trained for ministerial skills.  When we come together as a church on weekends, it should not be so much about spoon-feeding information people can acquire on their own, but about witnessing the gospel to the unchurched and unevangelized.  I said many times, buy a study bible!  (For example, this is a good one.) You don’t need the preachers to read the footnotes of a study bible for you on Sunday. 

As another example, I have recommended Thom Rainer’s Becoming a Welcoming Church to you as a summer reading.  An excerpt of the book is published on Facts and Trends in the article, “The front door churches often forget.” Another study reported by Aaron Earls, “How do churches actually welcome guests?” informs us of the statistical reality.  Most of the times, as you will find, Thom Rainer is just pointing out the common sense.  So why do churches continue to do things that defy common sense?  Resistance to change!  Becoming a welcoming church means becoming something different.  It turns the church from inward focus to outward focus.  As the cover of Rainer’s book reveals:

In almost all of Thom S. Rainer’s consultations, church members perceive their church to be friendly. But as he surveyed guests, he found that the guests typically saw church members as unfriendly. The perception chasm existed because the members were indeed friendly . . . to one another.

The guests felt like they crashed a private party.

As a third and final example, I’d highlight Rainer’s article, “7 Keys to Successful Leadership Succession.”  I said in April’s state-of-the-church that I believe in working myself out of my job.  To develop future leaders is to delegate, automate, and get-out-of-the-way.  Or as Pastor John Frazier noted in one insightful sermon, success literally means succeeding in the task God has given you now so that you can do the next thing tomorrow.  Therefore, churches – like any organizations – must think about leadership succession constantly, both for pastoral staff members and volunteers.  We need a constant stream of new blood!  But how do we recruit?  Take a reading of Helen Gibson’s “Your 5 Biggest Volunteer Recruiting Questions Answered.”

Joining God requires adjustment.  Pause for a moment this week and think: what changes does God want from you?

Blessings,

Gideon Lee

English Ministry Pastor, CBCGL

 

Proposal for Sunday Schedule Change

Gideon Lee

July 21, 2018

We have been discussing among leaders at CBCGL about scheduling change in our Sunday program to better utilize the new building when it is available.  We introduced at the April English ministry business meeting a proposal to pilot test from September to November an 11:15-12:30 worship time for the English service, with the goal of making it a permanent time in the new sanctuary if it works out logistically.  The proposal has the support of the meeting participants.  Since then, different ministry committees have been consulted and it was brought up at the Council meeting.  The responses have generally been supportive and accommodating.  Both the Mandarin and the Cantonese ministry committees are receptive to the suggestion of moving the Chinese worship services to 9:45-11:05.    

When I came up with the idea of pilot test for three months, I designed it so that it will affect the English adults and youths internally.  However, as this idea is deliberated at the Cantonese ministry committee and the Council, an amended proposal is emerging that we could perhaps broaden the pilot test churchwide in Building A to make for a more realistic logistic simulation for what is to come. 

This is roughly what the churchwide pilot test beginning September might entail:

9:45-11:05

        Mandarin service at the 1/F sanctuary.

        Cantonese service at the 2/F sanctuary.

        Youth and Children Sunday school classes in their current classrooms.

        The new English “community fellowship” at 2/F (English) kitchen or 1/F Cantonese Newcomer Room.  Other classes in various 2/F classrooms.

11:15-12:30

        Mandarin Sunday school class in their current 2/F classrooms.

        Cantonese Sunday school class at the 2/F sanctuary.

        Children worship at the 1/F children worship room (“ping-pong room”).

        English/Youth service at the 1/F sanctuary.

The Mandarin and Cantonese plan to hold combined worship on the first Sunday of each month beginning September.  On some Sundays, Children may join the early part of the English/Youth service.

The main advantage of this amended proposal is that it simulates the new schedule more completely.  While every ministry will relocate when the new building is available, this plan already reflects what is to come.  It gives us a lead-time of several months to work out the transition logistics. 

I want to emphasize that this is only a proposal.  Because the schedule affects every ministry, we want to proceed only when we have a consensus across ministries.  In all consensus-building exercises, there are gives and takes.  But to highlight the positives, here are some immediate benefits:

        In the poll done several months ago, the Cantonese congregation expressed preferences for an early service, but only in a sanctuary setting.

        Cantonese and Mandarin are having combined service in the summer.  This pilot could mean Cantonese worship doesn’t have to move to 11:25 in September, only to move back to an earlier slot when the new building is available.

        It gives English ministry to try out ways to make use the expanded seating capacity.  Not only does it mean more immediate opportunity to test run special family-oriented Sundays with children joining, it also enables us to test run ideas of community outreach, joint services with other churches, and hosting of short term local mission teams.  All of these are growth ideas that we have been discussing at the English ministry for some time.

There are foreseeable disadvantages and unintentional consequences with any changes.  But rather than enumerating all the hypothetical downsides here, it should be emphasized that the main purpose of a pilot test is to find them out.  The inputs and comments from everyone are therefore much appreciated.  Please take time to think about these proposals and bring forth constructive suggestions!

Church News 7/15/2018

  1. Church rebuilding fund Praise the Lord. We received $300.00 church construction pledges last Sunday. At this point, the total pledge is $1,566,609.00. The actual amount received is $1,518,529.00. Please continue to pray that our God will provide all we need and we will participate for the 2nd pledge. Please put “Building Construction Pledge” on the memo line of the check. Brothers and Sisters please put the pledge form or building construction offering check in the offering collection bags as tithes and offerings are collected during Sunday worship.
  2. Construction of building B has started therefore, all parents should remind their children to walk on pedestrian’s walkway and watch out for the pedestrians during church construction.
  3. Baby dedication ceremony will be held on 7/22, any families with children 6 years old and under are welcome to join. Please contact Sister Nancy Li (nancyli7327@gmail.com) or Minister Tom Chow. Can also sign up on-line at:https://bit.ly/2LauYC8.
  4. Youth Ministry Thank the Lord for His blessings the Costa Rica mission team came home safely. May God bless each one to get workout during the mission trip, continue to grow in Christ, and become Christ’s soldier. Let us continue to pray for the Nicaragua refugees.
  5. Boston Project short term mission team left on 7/8 and will return on 7/13. Please remember them in your prayers. Pray to God to keep them safe and healthy, let them experience God’s presence during community services.
  6. Costa Rica and Boston Project teams will share their experiences on 7/13 Friday at English sanctuary. Brothers and sisters are welcome.
  7. Children Ministry Children Ministry will train Sunday school teachers. If you do not have experience, you can start co-teaching with another teacher with experience. If you have burden, please contact Minister Tom Chow and Brother Augustine Ho.
  8. Welcome all youths, young adults and parents that have burdens to lead the children worship to participate the training session on 7/29 at 12:45 – 1:45 pm at children sanctuary (A105). Please contact children ministry worship coworker Elizabeth (yenelizabeth@gmail.com) or Minister Tom Chow (tom.chow@lowell.church)。
  9. Adult Sunday school classes’ 旧约诗歌智慧书如何带领组查经locations have been changed from Room A102 to first floor sanctuary and Room A207B to A209.
  10. 2018 UK short term mission trip for COCM year end gospel camp
  11. Volunteer builders came to our church in last June have touched every one of us. Would you be willing to experience God’s guidance and presence in a mission trip? COCM yearend camp is the evangelical camps. Goals are to spread Gospel to seekers and sturdy the new believers’ faith. Camps’ dates are: Christmas Family Gospel Camp: 12/24 – 12/27 Send old and welcome new students gospel camp: 12/28-1/1 Welcome mature and loving Christians and families to participate the above camps. If you are willing to join this serving opportunity after praying, please email mission committee member Alsa shih, at cshih22@gmail.com.
  12. Kitchen ministry will stop providing lunch during the summer (6/24-9/2). Will resume on 9/9.

Prayer Requests:

  1. Please pray for the US government, senate and congress leaders to have a respectful, righteous, merciful and humble heart to lead this country. Also, pray for American people to be walking in Christ’s path.
  2. Pray for the current job searching brothers and sisters.
  3. Please pray for Sister Vivian Gillis’s mother’s returning to US smoothly.
  4. Praise the Lord! Sister (Grace Zhu) 朱瑤萍 ‘s mother had a successful surgery to remove her right kidney and part of her bladder and the wounds had been healed. A dialysis surgery was performed and everything went smoothly. Please continue to pray for her.
  5. Pray for Mrs Chan Yee’s shoulder pain, weakness and high blood pressure urgently.
  6. Pray for elder Sam’s brother-in-law 梅兆標 ‘s lung cancer related pain. Also pray for him to accept gospel. Please ask God to grant Amy and Sam to have wisdom to spread the gospel clearly to him.
  7. Pray for Andy and Leina’s third daughter Nazira ‘s right eye recovery after premature retinopathy surgery. Please continue to pray for her right eye to be able to self-develop normally.
  8. Sister Yujia Zhou’s fiancé Wei Wei was diagnosed ITP. Please pray for his doctor to have wisdom to select the right treatment for him.
  9. Please pray for elder Sam and Sister Amy’s mission trip.
  10. UML new students will arrive at US during the summer. Pray to our Father to guide our co-workers to unite together to contact and know them wisely. And welcome them to the Lord’s house.

6/18/2018 Church Announcements

  1. Thank God that MBB team members’ $5818.00 love offerings to our church. They requested us to use this money to purchase sport equipment and pray that the sport equipment will attract more local community friends to join our church.
  2. Next week, the second team of volunteer builders will be here to help us build our new church. The second team has a total count of 112 volunteers in 56 registration units with 32 of them being families and some with children. Among the 112 volunteers, 12 of them will stay at hotel, 14 will stay at church, 20 of them will live in their RV, and the rest of 66 volunteers, will stay at our brothers’ and sisters’ houses. Praise the Lord for calling so many volunteers to help us. Also Praise the Lord that so many families from our church are willing to open up their houses to host the volunteers. The number of hosting families is far exceeded the number that is need, therefore some families are not assigned any volunteers. When assigning host families, the committee took into consideration various factors such as giving the priority consideration for those families that didn’t have chance to host 1st team, distance and traffic to church, rides for volunteers, match between host and guest, and any special needs indicated by either volunteers or host families, etc. Thank you all for your support and participation. Please pray for these hosting families as each of them might have to overcome certain inconveniences or even difficulties during hosting.  May God bless everyone for your faithful service in His House.
  3. Church rebuilding fund : Praise the Lord. We received $7018.00 church construction pledges last Sunday. At this point, the total pledge is $1,546,859.00. The actual amount received is $1,493,579.00. Please continue to pray that our God will provide all we need and we will participate for the 2nd pledge. Please put “Building Construction Pledge” on the memo line of the check. Brothers and Sisters please put the pledge form or building construction offering check in the offering collection bags as tithes and offerings are collected during Sunday worship.
  4. Demolition of building B has started therefore, when you come to church please look out to the traffic signs and routes, all paths of the parking lots are one-way traffic. Please pay attention to safety. All parents should take care of their children and watch out for the pedestrians during church construction.
  5. Children Ministry: Our church will combine with Maryland’s team to hold a VBS camp on the last week of June (25-26, 28-29). Program includes Bible stories, Bible studies, Game and crafts, and inside and outside activities. Encourage both adults and youths to sign up to serve. Details are at shorturl.at/tRTU3. 4th and 5th grades Children Sunday classes urgently need teachers, substitute teachers and teachers’ aid. If you have burden, please contact Minister Tom Chow and brother Augustine Ho. Note: If you do not have experience, you can start co-teaching with another teacher with experience. Welcome six grade parents to participate 6/17 at 11:30 am-12:30 pm graduation ceremony.
  6. Youth Ministry: Thank you brothers and sisters’ love offering. This year lunch fundraiser raised $1773 for BP short term mission trip. And also thank you all who participated to prepare lunch and support youth ministry.
  7. Anyone who are interested in participating July 4th Independence Day parade, please register online at https://cbcgl_parade.eventbrite.com
  8. Request bottled water donation for volunteer builders Our church will need to provide large amount of bottled water to two volunteer builders in first and fourth weeks of June. Food subcommittee requests brothers and sisters if you have burden, please donate a case of 16 oz. of bottled water. Starting immediately, please leave the bottled water on the table next to the piano in first floor cafeteria on Friday night or Sunday. Thank you for your help.
  9. Today is Father’s Day. Wish every father to have a happy father’s day. Church will provide lunch for all fathers a free lunch.
  10. Church will hold a picnic on 06/24 after Sunday worship at Brook Farm State Park and invite MBFC volunteer builders to join us. Please register to bring food to the picnic on https://cbcgl_picnic.eventbrite.com.
  11. Praise God. Brother 張弢弟兄 and sister映雲’s younger daughter was born yesterday. Her name is 張真(Zoe) and weighted 6 lbs 14 oz and 20 inches long.
  12. Kitchen ministry will stop providing lunch in summer between (6/24-9/2). Will resume on 9/9.
  13. Now we have MBB T-shirts ($10) and Hat ($5) for sale at church’s function room. Brothers and sisters are encouraged to purchase and for sale until all purchased.

Prayer Requests:

  1. Please pray for the US government, senate and congress leaders to have a respectful, righteous, merciful and humble heart to lead this country. Also, pray for American people to be walking in Christ’s path.
  2. Pray for the current job searching brothers and sisters.
  3. Please pray for Sister Vivian Gillis’s mother’s swollen feet to get better. Also, pray for her coming to US smoothly.
  4. Please pray for sister (Grace Zhu) 朱瑤萍 ‘s mother to have a smooth surgery and her strength recovered. Also pray for her total trust in God and receiving peace from God.
  5. Pray for Mrs Chan Yee’s shoulder pain and weakness.
  6. Pray for sister Yanyu Wu’s niece Liming Chen’s health. She had already accepted Jesus as her savior and currently is very sick.
  7. Praise the Lord. Andy and Leina’s third daughter Nazira left currently weights 5 lbs 12 oz. Please continue to pray for the health and eyesight of Nazira.
  8. UML new students will arrive at US during the summer. Pray for our Father to guide our co-workers to unite together to contact and know them wisely. And welcome them to the Lord’s house.
  9. Brother吴远炎’s father passed away in China. Pray for our Lord to protect and comfort his family. Especially his 93 years old grandmother.

Church Bulletin May 27, 2018

  1. Church rebuilding fund  Praise the Lord. We received $581.00 church construction pledges last Sunday. At this point, the total pledge is $1,537,041.00. The actual amount received is $1,483,761.00. Please continue to pray that our God will provide all we need and we will participate for the 2nd pledge. Please put “Building Construction Pledge” on the memo line of the check. Brothers and Sisters please put the pledge form or building construction offering check in the offering collection bags as tithes and offerings are collected during Sunday worship.
  2. Demolition of building B has started therefore, when you come to church please look out to the traffic signs and routes, all paths of the parking lots are one-way traffic. Please pay attention to safety. All parents should take care of their children and watch out for the pedestrians during church construction.
  3. The first team of volunteer builders will be here to help us build our new church. The first team has a total count of 137 volunteers in 77 registration units with 38 of them being families and some even with children. Among the 137 volunteers, 23 of them will stay at hotel, 10 will stay at church, and the rest, over 100 volunteers, will stay at our brothers’ and sisters’ houses. Praise the Lord for calling so many volunteers to help us. Also Praise the Lord that so many families from our church are willing to open up their houses to host the volunteers. The number of hosting families even exceeds the number that is needed. Therefore, some families are not assigned any volunteers. When assigning host families, the committee took into consideration various factors such as distance and convenient to church, rides for volunteers, match between host and guest, and any special need indicated by either volunteers or host families, etc. Thank you all for your support and participation. Please pray for these hosting families as each of them might have to overcome certain inconveniences or even difficulties during hosting.  May God bless your faithful service.
  4. Youth Ministry Youth request prayers for youths and co-workers during the summer months. For every person who signs up to pray for one or two youths. Please join us to pray and witness the life changing power of God. Signup sheets will be ready next few Sundays at the cafeteria or youth fellowship room.
  5. Children Ministry In order to ensure the building ministry and volunteer builders’ need, and also base on the ongoing building constructions, building A may require to install safety survey. After council discussion, KMC decided to move the August VBS to the last week of June. It will be a joined camp with children from the Maryland’s team. Details will be announced later. 4th and 5th grades Children Sunday classes urgently need teachers, substitute teachers and teachers’ aid. If you have burden, please contact Minister Tom Chow and brother Augustine Ho. Note: If you do not have experience, you can start co-teaching with another teacher with experience.
  6. Next Sunday (6/3) Combined worship will be held from 10-11:30 am at McCarthy Middle School auditorium (250 North Rd, Chelmsford, MA 01824). Sunday school will be canceled. There will be map and direction in new comer’s room.
  7. There will be 10 volunteer builders staying at church. If you have extra twin size mattress or air mattress, bed sheets, pillow cases, comforters or sleeping bags for volunteer builders. Please contact CCVB committee members.
  8. Church will hold a picnic on 06/24 after Sunday worship at Brook Farm State Park and invite MBFC volunteer builders to join us. Please register to bring food to the picnic on https://cbcgl_picnic.eventbrite.com.
  9. Anyone who are interested in participating July 4th Independence Day parade, please register online at https://cbcgl_parade.eventbrite.com。 
  10. Request bottled water donation for volunteer builders Our church will need to provide large amount of bottled water to two volunteer builders in first and fourth weeks of June. Food subcommittee requests brothers and sisters if you have burden, please donate a case of 16 oz. of bottled water. Starting immediately, please leave the bottled water on the table next to the piano in first floor cafeteria on Friday night or Sunday. Thank you for your help.
  11. Boston Project lunch fundraiser will be held on 6/10 (Sunday). Please participate and reserve lunch. $5.00/each and reservation ends on 6/3 (Sunday).
  12. No lunch on 6/3.

 

Prayer Requests:

  1. Please pray for the US government, senate and congress leaders to have a respectful, righteous, merciful and humble heart to lead this country. Also, pray for American people to be walking in Christ’s path.
  2. Pray for the current job searching brothers and sisters.
  3. Please pray for Sister Vivian Gillis’s mother’s swollen feet to get better. Also, pray for her coming to US smoothly.
  4. Sister (Grace Zhu) 朱瑤萍 ‘s mother has blood clots in her urine and was admitted to the emergency room. CT scan showed water retained in the right kidney and ureter was thicker than before, she is still being examined. Please pray for her diagnosis and right treatment.
  5. Pray for Mrs Chan Yee’s shoulder pain and weakness.
  6. Pray for sister Yanyu Wu’s niece Liming Chen’s health. She had already accepted Jesus as her savior and currently is very sick.
  7. Praise the Lord. Andy and Leina’s third daughter Nazira left currently weights 5 lbs 12 oz. Please continue to pray for the health and eyesight of Nazira.

From believing the Lord to loving Him

Gideon Lee 4/25/2018

Dear friends,

One of the bankable weekly high points for me serving in this church is the devotion time with my pastoral colleagues during our weekly meeting.  There are always some fresh exegetical insights and spiritual experiences we learn from each other.  Often, we get to dig deeper into the biblical text in ways that are not possible for sermon messages or group studies.  For example, I led the devotion last week with the burning bush chapter and I made some observations that I simply didn’t have the time to work into my sermon message.  One observation is the nuanced differences in the translation of Exod. 4:15. I grew up reading the Chinese Union (Ho-Ho) version, which is similar enough to the NIV:

你要跟他說話,把話放在他的口裏,我要賜你口才,也要賜他口才,又要教你們做當做的事。You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.

But note the way ESV translates it (and CSB in the footnote):

You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do.

The Ho-Ho version highlights eloquence (口才) as a gift.  The NIV highlights the continual help from God in the act of speaking.  But the more literally translated ESV draws attention to the spiritual presence of God in the mouths of Moses and Aaron.   We must be careful not to extract too much out of the translation nuances – after all, exegesis aims at the meaning of the original context – how did Moses himself understand this and what did he mean as the author?  But the translational differences are clearly there identifying different possibilities.  And I couldn’t help but think that the translation we have also colors our appreciation of the ministry of speaking. I suppose it could take a reader to see eloquence as a trait-like spiritual gift, another reader to see preaching as requiring constant help from God, and a third reader to emphasize the indwelling of the Spirit in our physiology.

The different translations could be said to highlight different “means” by which God works.  Historically, theologians in the west always make a big deal about the means: what roles who play and how.  I think that’s often a reductionist perspective.  The more literal translation in ESV helps us to see that the means may not be as important as the ultimate cause and ultimate outcome.  If the ultimate cause is there (God), the ultimate outcome (the revelation of God’s Word) is guaranteed no matter how it happens.

Yesterday, Minister Patrick led us through a devotional study of Psalm 145.  Patrick drew our attention to verses 17 and 18, which bring out the righteousness, faithfulness, and (what I would call) responsiveness of God.  Instead of letting ourselves immerse in the sea of frustration when things don’t as we plan, we need to lift our eyes up to focus on the dependability of God.  God might not use our plan, but God will get us there.  I thought it is quite relevant to what Pastor John Frazier said this past Sunday when he provoked a lively discussion Sunday in promising “guaranteed success” from God.  Psalm 145:19 reads:

He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry for help and saves them.

One of these days I am sure John will do a word study for us on the word “desires.” And my bet is that, in the case of Psalm 145:19, John would say “desires” is more properly translated as “longings” in English.  God of course doesn’t take order from us.  God never promises us that every to-do list that we submit to Him through prayer will be implemented.  In fact, the desires (in the sense of affections) of even people who fear God are sometimes quite ungodly.  However, there is a deep-seated longing for a loving relationship with God in all those who belong to God.  And those are the longings that only God Himself can fulfill.  And not can He, God will.

What does it have to do with guaranteed success?  If Blackaby is correct, what people of God long above all else is an ultimate success as measured by bringing themselves and others to a closer relationship with God.  Even what we planned to do is delayed or frustrated, we could be brought to a closer relationship with God in the process.  “Guaranteed success” of relationship deepening is not just a conceivable idea in terms of God’s hidden plan, we should expect to experience the reality of such deepening of loving relationship!  To wit: when God is “with your mouth,” you simply know it!

This Sunday, Elder Raymond will take us to the study of the second reality of experiencing God: God pursues a loving relationship with you.  He will preach on Matthew 22:34-40, which records how Jesus answers the Jewish religious leaders about the Greatest Commandment in the Law.  I don’t need to repeat what Jesus said.  But I invite you to reflect on some questions that any inductive bible study on this passage will likely begin with: Why did they ask?  Why did they expect Jesus to say? What kind of assumption did they hold that led them to ask that question?  What’s wrong with that?

Weekly prayer meeting is at church tonight.  I hope to see you!

Blessings,

Gideon Lee

English Ministry Pastor, CBCGL 

State of the Church April 29, 2018

“Behold! God is doing a new thing in our church for the community”

 State of the Church Meeting – April 29th, 2018

Dear Church Members,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our church theme this year calls us to behold and to participate in the “new thing” that God is bringing to our church.  Thanks be to God! We believe this is a year of renewal, both spiritually and physically. As we know, all renewal must go through the tearing down of some of the old. The old building has been torn down, and the new building construction project has started in the earnest. At the beginning of the year, the pastoral staff, elders and deacons got together to seek the Lord’s guidance, and laid out objectives and plans for various church ministries, which we wish to share with you.

We invite you to attend our annual State of the Church meeting to be held on Sunday, April 29th , 1:30 ~ 3:30pm in the first floor sanctuary. We will introduce new members, review the vision, and update you with the current state of the church. We will review objectives and present reports from each ministry, as well as updates from Building Committee.  We plan to hold a Q&A session 3:00 ~ 3:30 PM following the presentation.

Let us pray together for the church, may the Lord bring the revival and renewal of our church, so we may be agents of transformation in our community. We look forward to seeing you at the State of the Church meeting, and hearing your feedback as we work together in serving and glorifying our Lord.

Serving together with you in one heart,

The CBCGL Council

Let your faith be bigger than your fear!

Dear friends,

This coming Sunday, Pastor Wu will come to preach for us at the English service.  He will challenge us to “let our faith be bigger than our fear” through another reflection of the offering of Isaac (Gen. 22), paying special attention to the perspective found in Heb. 11:17-19.  Don’t miss this opportunity to receive a spiritual blessing from Pastor Wu, as it will be the last time he will preach for us at the English service before his departure. 

We will be joined by leaders from the Mobile Baptist Builders and Maryland’s Builders for Christ in our Sunday service.  They are here for the weekend to plan out the details of their June visits.  I was at church this morning observing the demolition of Building B.  (See some pictures I took.) Thanks be to God that the demolition took place just in time for the MBB/MBFC visit.  Our LORD hears our prayer!

Our friends from Alabama and Maryland will visit different fellowships Friday evening but will spend the bulk of their time with the English Adult Friday evening fellowship.  You are welcome to join us Friday whether you come regularly.  We have been tracking the sermon series and studying passages highlighted in Experiencing God.  We start at 7:45 and end around 9:15. We have also planned a potluck dinner reception for our guests at the 1/F cafeteria starting at 6pm.  Everyone is welcome but please send me an email if you are interested in joining.

Thank you and I hope to see you at church this weekend!

Blessings,

Gideon Lee

English Ministry Pastor, CBCGL

 

English Kitchen Inventory Refresh

Gideon Lee 4/2/2018

We are in the process of refreshing the second-floor English kitchen to meet the equipment and supply needs for the volunteer builders.  But before we can do that, we need space.  Therefore, we need to do an inventory refresh, keeping only the stuff we use actively and pack/yard-sale/give away stuff we accumulated there that we rarely if ever use anymore.

This is what we have done by Monday…

Kitchen cabinets are emptied out:

Like this:

And like that:

Where did the stuff go? Here … like a yard sale in the cafeteria.

The tools:

The plates:

The cups and glasses:

The utensils:

The chemicals:

The kitchen supplies:

Seasonings — including only those which have not expired:

Stationery, vases, candles, and etc.

The next step is to identify what we want to keep as “active inventory.”  I will get some green dots there.  I’ll ask everyone to stick a green dot on things that we want to mark as active inventory.  I will also get some red dots there for things people want to take home.  The rest we will pack them away for now.

Some questions we anticipate that you might raise:

Why do it now?  We could not do it earlier because of events leading up to Easter.  And, the coordinators from Mobile and Maryland will visit this coming weekend.  They can also help green dot the pieces they need.

How much empty space do we need to save for the volunteer builders? Simply put, a lot.  We are talking about 3 meals a day for 8 days per team, adding up to nearly 50 meals.  And there will be over 100 people.  And there will be at least two plates, a bowl, and a cup per person per meal, not counting plastic utensils.  If the inventory is fully stocked before June, we are talking about 20,000 pieces of Styrofoam or paper alone.  We don’t have a lot of vacant storage space in Building A.  And the first-floor kitchen is already packed with the essentials.

Why can’t the volunteer builders just use the plates and the cups we have?  It looks like we have the equivalence of more than 100 place sets!  Washables are indeed preferred by our guests. Some churches they have visited strongly prefer washables for environmental considerations, if not also for long term cost saving.  However, that would require a dishwasher, preferably a commercial dishwasher.  (A commercial dishwasher can do 24 to 36 rounds per hour vs. 1 or 2 rounds that residential dishwasher can handle.)  The suggestion was made to the building committee as we are building a new kitchen.  However, the building committee has not planned to install a dishwasher in the new building.  One reason is that it will incur some ongoing cost of maintenance, especially if people start actually using the kitchen for cooking.  Plus, the church has been mostly using non-washable plastic and Styrofoam for weekly meals.  It is a single digit percentage of our annual budget and we seem to be okay with that.

How much active inventory should we keep going forward? We should only keep at most double the number of place sets we can use.  And without a dishwasher, the number of sets we can use is practically limited by the dish drying rack, which means about 12 sets.  Theoretically, we could carry more active inventory if we are more diligent in putting the dried sets back to the cabinet.  However, in practice, our drying rack is typically full of stuff by Monday morning and stays that way for the rest of the week.  Some plates and cups never get put back into cabinet.  Therefore, it is impractical to carry an inventory of more than a dozen sets of place ware.