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From where does my hope come?

2022.10.01/02

From the Pastor’s Desk:Rev.Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Ps 121:1,2) Recently I was able to see again the majestic Rockies and was reminded how great God is, and I realized that God is my help, even as I was in my own struggles. I was reminded of one of my favourite songs in Winter Conference:

Who made the mountains? Who made the trees? Who made the rivers flow to the sea?
And who sends the rain when the earth is dry? Somebody bigger than you and I.

When I am weary, filled with despair. Who gives me courage to go on from there?
And who gives me faith that will never die?  Somebody bigger than you and I.

By looking at the hills, the troubled psalmist found his source of help that he was looking for. It was found in the Creator of heaven and earth. For all of us, after almost three years of Covid which exacerbate whatever troubles we are experiencing, we are looking for help from everywhere. The psalmist saw in and beyond the beautiful hills, his help comes from the Creator who made the hills, the mountains and all the wonderful things in nature. Often at the top of the hills are built the places of worship. So looking at the hills is like seeking the presence of God.

If in Christ as the Saviour, I see love, the love of God, and in Christ as the Sanctifier and healer, I see faith, God’s faithfulness, then in Christ as the Coming King, I see hope, ultimate hope.

Often, we become Christians because we see and experience God’s love. Then as we strive to be good Christians, we learn that it is Christ who enables us to grow and we can turn to Him when we are weak, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But still after trying to learn to follow Christ the Saviour, the Sanctifier and Healer, we are in situations where we seem to be stuck in our different difficulties, or to be stricken with sickness that are incurable, or become the victims of irreparable broken relationships… When we come to the end of the road, remember Christ is the Coming King, and therein lies our eternal and ultimate hope. Therefore, I would like to rephrase the above verses for this article as:

I lift up my eyes to heaven. From where does my HOPE come? My HOPE comes from the LORD, Christ the Coming King.

We are reminded of the words of the two messengers (angels) of God to the disciples at the ascension of Jesus Christ:  … as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1: 9-11) What does Christ coming in the same way means? From the context it means that Christ ascended in a cloud, and will return in like manner, physically, in view of the people (Rev. 1:7) and to the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4).

But these words were also spoken after Christ Jesus have told the disciples not to focus on “When” will be the “times or seasons” which has been fixed by the authority of God the Father.  Instead, the disciples were to focus on the Great Commission: …But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” At that time, the disciples were more concerned with “justice”, the restoration of the earthly kingdom of Israel, but Christ was concerned only for the gospel and the expansion of the Kingdom of God. Indeed, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be “witnesses” of Christ to the whole world. It is when this Great Commission is accomplished that Christ will return. As the hymn goes,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full, in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.

From where does my hope come? It comes from focusing on Christ the Coming King, and His mission for us.

Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Simon Lee

我的盼望從何而來?

2022.10.01/02

親愛列宣的弟兄姊妹,

“我要向群山舉目,我的幫助從哪裡來呢? 我的幫助是從造天地的耶和華而來。”(詩121:1,2)

最近,我有機會遙望雄偉聳立的洛磯山脈,我再次被提醒神是多麼的偉大,並且我意識到即使我落在自己的掙扎中,神是我的幫助。我想起了曾在冬令會中我所最喜歡唱的一首歌Who made the mountains?:

誰造青山高,樹木插霄?誰造碧水長,奔向汪洋?
誰降甘霖滋潤乾涸地?有一位比你我更偉大。

當我困倦,灰心沮喪,誰能激勵我續奔前程?
誰能給我永不衰退之信心?有一位比你我更偉大。

透過觀察群山,這位陷入困境的詩人找到了他所尋求的幫助來源。乃是在於那創天造地者的神。對於我們所有人來說,經過將近三年的新冠疫情加劇了我們所遇到的任何麻煩,我們正在探求各方面的幫助。詩人遠望美麗山巒映入眼簾,他更超越地看到了來自創造山巒、阡陌和自然界所有奇妙事物那位造物主的幫助。敬拜之所一般是建造在山峰之上。因此,向高山仰望就像尋求神的同在。

基督成為我們的救主,我在其中看到了愛,神的大愛;基督成為我們的為成聖者和醫治者,在其中我看到了信,神的信實;基督是我們再來之王,在其中我看到了望,永恆終極的盼望

許多時候,我們成為基督徒是因為我們看到並經歷了神的愛。其後,當我們努力成為好基督徒時,我們會瞭解到因著靠賴基督我們得以成長,當我們在身體、情感和靈性上感到軟弱時,我們可以轉向祂。但在努力學習跟隨救主基督、我們的成聖者和醫治者的過程中,我們似乎會陷入不同的困境,或被無法治癒的疾病所困擾,或會成為無法挽回的破裂關係的受害者…當我們走到人生路的盡頭時,請記住基督是即將來臨的君王,其中蘊含著我們永恆和終極的盼望。我意欲將詩詞改寫為下列詩句:

我要向天舉目。我的盼望從何而來?我的盼望是從基督將要再臨的君王而來。

我們可會想到在耶穌基督升天時,神的兩位使者(天使)對門徒所說的話:…他們還在看的時候,他被接上升,有一朵雲把他接去,就看不見他了。當他往上升,他們定睛望天的時候,忽然有兩個人,身穿白衣,站在他們旁邊,說:“加利利人哪,為甚麼站著望天呢?這位被接升天離開你們的耶穌,你們看見他怎樣往天上去,他也要怎樣回來。” (徒1: 9-11)
基督將以同樣的方式降臨是什麼意思?從上文下理來看,意即:基督在雲彩中升天,並將以同樣的方式返回,在眾目睽睽之下降臨(啟1:7)於橄欖山上(亞 14:4)。

但這些話也是在耶穌基督告訴門徒不要專注於祂將會在“何時”再臨,因“時間或時期”是出於父神的權柄所確定的,之後說的。相反,門徒們必須專注於大使命:“…可是聖靈降臨在你們身上,你們就必領受能力,並且要在耶路撒冷、猶太全地、撒瑪利亞,直到地極,作我的見證人。”

那時,門徒更關心的是“公義”,即地上以色列國度的復興,而基督只關心福音和神國度的擴展。的確,我們被聖靈賦予了在全世界做基督的“見證人”的能力。當這個大使命完成時,基督就會回來。

我的盼望從何而來?我的盼望來自於專注於基督再來之君王,並祂所託付我們的大使命之上。

主僕,
李耀全牧師

The Trappings of Leadership and the Welcome of our Lord

2022.09.24/25
From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev.Jason Cheung

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

46  Jesus’ disciples were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he had a child stand there beside him. 48  Then he said to his disciples, “When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me. Whichever one of you is the most humble is the greatest.”

  • Luke 9:46-48

Celebrity pastors are the tip of the iceberg that is the church today.  You may have heard of the falls of pastors like Bill Hybels, Mark Driscoll, Carl Lentz, Bruxy Cavey.  Overreach of power, sexual promiscuity and marital unfaithfulness, and abuse.  And cover ups.  This isn’t the world of politics, this is the church of Jesus Christ.

Yet, we all must see the glaring warning signs, even if – especially if – we are not pastors.  Without doubt, pastors called to gospel ministry are held to a high standard.  There is great consequence given the responsibility.  But celebrities are celebrities because people follow them.  And the church today – no matter the country, denomination, size or make up – every church is susceptible to the worship of pastors.

A friend remarked to me, walking out of a session at a Christian conference (for leaders no less), that the stirring message we just heard drew us to know more about the speaker (and his marriage and his kids), than Jesus.

That observation stuck with me.

There is a reason for this phenomenon.  When preachers tell stories about themselves more than about Jesus, this interests people, it resonates relevancy, and communicates to the masses that the person on stage “is just like me.”  But the pulpit was never meant to be a platform for the preacher.  It is rather, a resounding beacon of the Gospel of Jesus.  For sure, in the art of sermon delivery, personal experience and stories certainly help communicate the gospel; but these stories should never supplant the story of the “old-rugged cross.”  If in my preaching you know more about me, than about the beauty and majesty of God, then I have failed.

Pastors who constantly refer to themselves need friends, not a congregation to love them.

Leading well is crucial.  But leading God’s people is not exercising greater faith than all those I am leading.  I hope this is a relief to you who lead bible studies, lead a Sparks or T&T group, lead a community or fellowship group, or just lead your family.  The heavy burden of expectation that you must have greater faith in order to lead, is a myth and a lie.  (Listen carefully, as those in positions of leadership often tell this lie).  The measure of “greater” is a concept of the world, creating a man-made hierarchy that hinders the flourishing of the priesthood of all believers.  The gospel doesn’t nurture greater Christians and lesser Christians, just faithful Christians.

You only need the faith of a child.  Jesus taught this very thing to his grumbling, power-grabbing disciples.  Just faith.  Simple, child-like faith.  Not greater education.  Not greater experiences.  Not greater ability.  Not greater credentials.  Just faith.

Perhaps we have made too much of leaders among us, and not enough of our Lord.

Notice how Jesus turns the disciples’ attention away from themselves, and onto how to commune deeper with him and the Father.  Jesus masterfully disciples us, like this:  “You want to be great?  Then, humble yourself and open your arms to welcome the least of all.  This is how you are to be great in my kingdom.  Humility.

Pastors (who are people) will almost always disappoint us in some way.  Give them grace, for they are not perfect.  But also etch this clear in your mind: faithful pastors point you to Jesus  and not to themselves.   There is no place in God’s church for celebrity pastors.  Let’s not elevate these brothers and sisters to an expectation that will ultimately crush them.  Rather, thank God, for faithful leaders who point us with quiet assuredness to the glory and goodness of Jesus, our Lord and our Redeemer

Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jason Cheung

跟從牧者還是跟從耶穌

2022.09.24/25

 親愛的列宣家弟兄姊妹:

有名氣的牧師可能是當今教會的冰山一角。你可能聽過Bill Hybels、Mark Driscoll、Carl Lentz、Bruxy Cavey 等牧師,這些有名氣的牧師都因著戀棧權力或者是在婚姻上不忠而讓他們的事奉蒙上陰影。是的,這些問題不只是在政治上,也會在屬於耶穌基督的教會中發生。

毫無疑問,牧者是被呼召作福音工作,需要有高的標準,責任重大,否則後果堪虞。但是為什麼這些牧者會被定為有名氣的牧師,因為有很多會眾追隨他們。今天的教會,無論是在任何地方,任何宗派,任何規模都無一倖免,都會有機會墮入了一個問題,就是追隨牧者,而不是追隨基督的行列。

記得有一位朋友,和我在離開一個基督教的會議的時候,和我分享就是在會議上所聽到的訊息像是知道更多關於牧者的事多過於耶穌基督。

這個分享讓我印象深刻。

這種現像是有原因的。當牧者講述他們自己的故事多於耶穌的時候,一開始的目的可能是想引起人們的興趣,並產生共鳴,並向會眾傳達牧者其實“就像你們一樣”。但講台從來都不是牧者的平台。相反,它是用來宣講耶穌基督的福音。當然,在講道中,個人經歷和故事是可以幫助會眾更了解福音。但這些故事絕不應該完全取代“古舊十架”的故事。如果在我的講道中,你對我的了解多於對神的榮美的理解,那我就是徹底失敗了。

牧者是需要朋友的,但不需要會眾來仰慕他們。

好的領導是關鍵。但領導神的子民並不需要比這些會眾有更大的信心。我希望這對於那些在不同崗位事奉的同工們,你們可以鬆一口氣。期望你必須有更大的信心才能領導是一個沉重負擔,載著,這是一個謊言。“更多”,“更好”的尺度是一個從世界而來的觀念,並因此造成了很多人為的等級制度,並因此阻礙了所有信徒屬靈生命的成長。福音不會培育更好的基督徒和不好的基督徒,只會建立忠心的基督徒。

你只需要一個孩子的信心。路加福音9:46-48耶穌透過這個方法來教導那些經常抱怨、以權力為一切的門徒。需要的是一顆單純的信心,一顆像孩子般的信心。而不是更高的學歷;不是更多的經驗;不是更多的才能;也不是更多的見證。只是需要有信心。

也許我們是在高舉領袖,而不是高舉耶穌了。

請注意耶穌如何將門徒的注意力從他們自己的身上轉移到如何與天父有更深的溝通。耶穌巧妙地透過一個問題來教導我們:“你想成為大的?首先,要謙卑自己,張開雙臂歡迎最小的。這就是你如何在我的國度裡能夠成為大的-你需要謙卑。”

牧者都是人,他們並不完美,會在某些事情上讓我們失望,我們要恩慈對待我們的牧者。但也要在自己的腦海中清楚記住這一點:忠心的牧者會指向耶穌,而不是他們自己。在神的教會裡沒有有名氣的牧師的位置。讓我們不要把這些牧者抬高到一個地步最終會壓垮他們。相反,感謝神給予我們忠心的牧者,以一種確信的心指向耶穌基督的榮美,因為祂是我們的主,我們的救贖主。

主僕
張志成牧師

My kingdom is not of this world (2)

2022.09.17/18

From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

Daily we meet people or encounter news of people suffering grievously from the injustice of society and the devastation of wars. Christians face the dilemma of facing this injustice of the kingdoms of this world while trying to hold on to our belief that the justice in the kingdom of God will prevail. We are torn by the reality of this world and the hope we have in “heaven”!

In my previous article: “My kingdom is not of this world (1),” I shared with you the words of Jesus who said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”– John 18:36.  We concluded, “What we have to offer in the Church above all, is the gospel of the kingdom of God, a kingdom of love, peace, and justice, one that the world does not offer. The gospel is therefore our top priority and our answer to the world of hate, unrest, and injustice.”

In this second article, I intend to go a little deeper into what these words mean by focusing on the context of Jesus’ words in John 18. Jesus was being tried by Pilate in the governor’s headquarters and Pilate asked the Jewish accusers “What accusation do you bring against this man?” The crowd was evasive in their reply: “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” (29, 30) In the Gospel of Luke, however, the real reason for the false accusation of the Jewish people becomes apparent, put in a way that Pilate must handle as it relates allegedly to the challenge to the Roman authority: And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” (Luke 23:2) The crafty, cunning and blasphemous way the Jewish crowd used in putting together various bits of information for this false accusation is quite disconcerting, to say the least. But it nevertheless at least shows that they could not deny there are two conflicting systems of “justice” at work.

Pilate, being himself a shrewd politician, was able to see through their plot to their motive which was to use him to bring down the death sentence on Jesus, something they knew they could not do themselves. So Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” By this, he also clearly affirmed that there are two “legal” systems, the Roman or the Jewish.

My purpose here is not to wade into the complex theological debate of the doctrine of the two kingdoms, but to simply say that we cannot escape the fact that we Christians are citizens of two worlds, one that is earthly and the other that is heavenly, and we all must live in this tension as we as Christians face the injustice and evils of the world in which we live. Returning to Jesus’s words in John 18: 36 we can summarize what Jesus said by the following simple points:

  • Jesus’ kingdom is not a rival political kingdom.
  • Jesus’ kingdom does not originate from this world, but from heaven.
  • Jesus’ kingdom has peace and not war as its base and agenda.

Decades later, Paul reaffirmed that Jesus’ kingdom established by Jesus going to the cross is based on sacrificial love, righteousness and humility, so different from the worldly kingdom that it is the exact opposite of what the Jewish people expected and what the Gentile world valued: “to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness.” (1 Corinthians 1:23)

In the context of the Gospel of John, we can see that for John, there are always dichotomy like, light and darkness, freedom and slavery, righteousness and evil… Thus, when Christ says his kingdom is not of this world, John wants us to note that Christ rules in a spiritual kingdom manifesting that He is “the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:6) in contrast to the worldly kingdom of waywardness, untruth and death.” When Jesus was facing the betrayal of His own people and the injustice of this world, His ultimate defence was pointing the authority and the people to the truth: “I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (37)

Earlier John has recorded what Jesus himself had already taught: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31,32) Again He said, “36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

May we seek this ultimate TRUTH and true FREEDOM that Jesus Christ offers to us all.

Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Simon Lee

我的國度不屬於這個世界(二)

2022.09.17/18

親愛的列宣家的弟兄姊妹

每天我們都會遇上一些受害者或聽到因爲社會的不公義和戰爭的破壞而感到痛苦不堪的消息。基督徒面對這個世界的不公義的同時,又要試圖堅持我們的信念,即上帝的國度的公義將會勝過一切。我們就在這兩種背道而馳的張力低下感受到難過和無奈。

我在兩週前的分享:“我的國度不屬於這個世界(1)”,講到了耶穌的話,他說:“「我的國不屬於這世界;如果我的國屬於這世界,我的臣僕就要作戰,使我不至被交給猶太人。不過,我的國不是這世上的。」”(約翰 18:36)。我在總結裡提到:“我們在教會中首先要宣揚天國的福音,這是一個完全愛、和平與公義的國度,是世界無法提供的。因此,傳福音是我們的首要任務,也是我們對這個仇恨、動盪和不公義的世界的回應。”

在這一次的分享中,我打算通過關注約翰福音 18 章中耶穌的話的上下文來更深入地了解以上耶穌的話的含義。彼拉多正在審判耶穌,彼拉多問那些猶太的控訴者 –“「你們控告這個人甚麼呢?」他們隱晦地回答:「如果這個人沒有作惡,我們就不會把他交給你。」” (29, 30) 然而,在路加福音中,猶太人的誣告的真正原因變得顯而易見,彼拉多無法不認真處理,因為是對羅馬權威的挑戰有關:他們開始控告他說:“「我們查出這個人煽惑我們的同胞,阻止納稅給凱撒,並且自稱是基督,是王。」” (路加23:2)猶太人以狡猾和褻瀆神明的方式,用虛假的指控來指控耶穌基督,至少可以說根據猶太人的指控,耶穌基督的行為是相當令人大大不安。無論如何,在這些指控中,有一點很清楚,那就是他們不能否認有兩種相互衝突的“公義”體系正在影響著他們。

彼拉多本身就是一個狡猾的政客,能夠看穿他們的陰謀,了解他們的動機:就是要利用他的權力來判決耶穌死刑。因為這個是他們單方面無法做到的。於是彼拉多對他們說:“你們自己去拿他,按你們自己的律法審判他。”通過這一點,他也明確地肯定了有兩種“法律”制度存在,一個是屬於來自於羅馬的政權的,另外一個是屬於猶太人。

我無意在此加入有關於兩個國度的複雜神學辯論,而是要提出,我們無法逃避這樣一個事實,即我們基督徒是處於兩個世界的公民,一個是地上的,另一個是天上的,我們作為基督徒必須要面對世界的不公義甚至於是邪惡。我們可以用以下簡單的要點來總結耶穌約翰福音 18:36所說的話:

  • 耶穌的國度不是與世界敵對的政治國度。
  • 耶穌的國度不是來自這個世界,是來自天上。
  • 耶穌的國度的基礎及議程是和平而非戰爭。

幾十年後,保羅重申,透過耶穌的十字架所建立的國度是基於犧牲的愛、公義和謙卑,與世俗的國度大大不同,與猶太人的期望和外邦人的價值觀完全相反: “猶太人看來是絆腳石,在外族人看來是愚笨的。” (林前 1:23)

透過約翰福音的上下文中,我們可以看到,他用二分法來區別神的國度和世界,光明與黑暗,自由與奴隸,正義與邪惡……  因此,當基督說他的國度不屬於這個世界時,約翰想要我們注意到基督在一個屬靈的國度中掌權,表明他就是“道路、真理和生命”(約翰 14:6),這與在世俗中遇到的歪路、非真理和死亡形成鮮明對比。”當耶穌面對自己百姓的背叛和這個世界的不公義時,他最終的回應是向權威和人民導向真理:“我要為真理作見證,我為此而生,也為此來到世上。凡是屬於真理的人,都聽我的聲音。」” (約翰 18:37)

約翰曾記載了耶穌基督的教導:“你們若持守我的道,就真是我的門徒了; 32 你們必定認識真理,真理必定使你們自由。” (約翰 8:31, 32; 耶穌又說:“ 所以,神的兒子若使你們自由,你們就真的得自由了。 」” (約翰8:36)

願我們尋求耶穌基督給予我們的真理和真正的自由。

主僕,
李耀全牧師

Back to School

September 10/11, 2022

From the Pastor’s Desk:Pastor Alex Poon

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

Growing up, I always had to remind myself that the “new year” didn’t start in September, it starts in January… but it just feels like the Fall holds much more significance.

Because September brings news backpacks, new pencils, new notebooks… new teachers, new schedules, new friends, and potentially even new schools.

The launch of a new academic year is an intimidating process – for both students and their families. The countdown begins in mid-August, as students make the realization that school is just around the corner. It’s a mental battle at that point – preparing for all the adjustments that will come. Then the big day finally arrives. New hallways are wandered, new classrooms are soaked in, new syllabi are handed out – and at some point, or another on that first day – students feel either a rush of excitement… or they make a wish that time would somehow rewind back to the summer. Do you remember that feeling? I imagine that’s what a lot of our students faced this week as classes began.

For us who have left this stage of life behind; how can we lift up our students in prayer?

Here are a couple suggestions:

  1. Gospel Joy

We need the joy of the Gospel every day. Pray this for all you know.

We need continual assurance that our sins are forgiven because of Christ, that our God is for us and not against us, that we are destined not for wrath but for everlasting joy – all because of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Pray for belief and faith.

Our Living God is with us in every new moment, we are in His presence – and our relationship with Him even gives us a purpose in vocation, a hope for today’s trials, and a heart of thanksgiving that renews each morning.

  1. Sacrificial Love

At some point or another, our students will come across a situation where they will be asked to lay down their desires – to love on another. Love will require sacrifice, time, effort – even inconvenience.

Will our students notice the peer who is struggling? Will they say the “unpopular” thing and stand up for someone who is neglected, cast away and dejected?

Will our students love God, even with their schedules?

Will families prioritize Christ, over a pursuit of achievements?

We need a fresh reminder that it is God who schedules our day. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that”. For our “lives are like a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:13-17).

Let’s keep our eyes fixed on our God who sends us into these places of training and equipping. It is He who helps us marvel at His creation through tools and technology, through formulas and pondering thoughts. And by His wonderful grace, He leads us into a vocational path that honors Him, with all the abilities He gifts. And by His side, abiding in His will – we will find our satisfaction in yesterday’s work, our contentment for today and a joy for tomorrow’s new adventures.

Join us in prayer:

Our Lord God, we surrender our students to you. They are beautiful and a delight in your eyes. Each of them is special, unique, and wonderfully made. Our students will face trials each day – may their “soul cling to you, may your right hand uphold” them (Psalm 63:8). May this academic year be glorifying to you – we long for stories of students turning to you in wonder, students finding their purposes in you, and families adoring you as one. Let us, your Church, love our students well – in discipleship, and through prayer. This we pray in your precious name, Amen.

Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Alex Poon

回到校園

2022.09.10/11

親愛的列宣家弟兄姊妹:

在我的成長過程中,我需要常常提醒自己,“新的一年”是從一月開始,不是九月, 可是秋季總是給我們很特別的意義。

在九月開學的時候,我們可能會有新書包、新鉛筆、新筆記本等,還有新老師、新日程、新朋友,甚至可能是新學校。

新學年的開始,對學生和家長們來說,可以是具有挑戰的。其實從8月中我們就可能開始倒數,因為知道開課的日子指日可待。這是一場心理戰-要為了各方面的改變做好準備,然後大日子終於到臨。學生們都擠擁在新的走廊,新的課室,老師分發新的教學大綱等,這一切都會令人感到一陣興奮;或者會有一刻幻想,希望時間能重回到暑假。你還記得那種感覺嗎?我想這就是本週開課時我們的許多學生所面對的問題。

對於已經離開這個階段的我們來說;我們該怎樣用禱告鼓勵我們的學生呢?

這裡有幾個建議:

  1. 從福音中獲得喜樂

我們每天都需要從福音中獲得喜樂。請你為你所認識的學生們祈禱。

從福音中獲得喜樂就是因為我們確信罪因基督而被赦免,上帝是我們的幫助,我們不需要活在恐懼中,而是為了要能夠獲得永恆的喜樂而感恩。這一切都是因為我們的主耶穌已經從死裡復活,勝過死亡。為這些學生們的信心禱告。

我們的神每一刻都與我們同在。就是因為我們與祂的關係,驅使我們的人生有了一個新的目標。為今天所面對的試煉帶來希望,並且在每天清晨讓我們以感恩的心開始。

  1. 犧牲的愛

在某些時候,我們都可能會遇到一些情況,就是要為了別人的益處而放下自己的利益。愛是需要犧牲、時間和努力;甚至在很多時候,會為我們帶來不便。當這些我們所認識的學生注意到正在掙扎的同伴的時候,他們會否說出一些“不受歡迎”的話,卻又是符合聖經真理,又或者會否為了那些被拋棄和厭棄的人挺身而出呢?

我們的學生會愛上帝嗎,即使他們的日程被安排得滿滿?

家庭會以基督為首位,而不是追求屬世的成就嗎?

我們需要一個被提醒,就是上帝掌握我們的日程。還記得聖經中:“你們說:「今天或明天,我們要到某城去,在那裡住一年,作生意賺錢。」其實明天怎樣,你們並不知道。你們的生命是甚麼呢?你們本來是過眼雲煙,轉瞬之間就消逝了。你們倒不如說:「主若願意,我們就可以活著,作這事或作那事。」”(雅各書4:13-17)。

讓我們定睛在神的身上,祂要鍛練和裝備我們。透過各樣的工具和技術來讓我們驚嘆祂的創造。憑藉祂奇妙的恩典,並賦予我們的恩賜,帶我們走上一條榮耀祂的道路。讓我們在主身旁並遵行祂的旨意,就會在昨天的工作中找到滿足,並對今天所面對的一切感到穩妥和帶著喜悅來面對明天的挑戰。

請你與我們一同禱告:

我們的主,我們將所認識的學生交給祢。他們在祢眼中是如此美麗和可愛的,每一個人都是獨特的,是祢奇妙的創造。我們的學生每天都會面臨考驗,願他們的心「緊緊追隨祢,祢的右手扶持他們。」(詩篇63:8)。願這個學年他們能夠為祢帶來榮耀,我們期盼他們轉向祢,明白在主裡是他們唯一的目標,以致他們的家庭也因此同心敬拜祢。讓我們列宣家透過不同的方法來好好愛我們的學生。我們的禱告是奉主寶貴的名祈求,阿門。

主僕
潘啟華傳道

My kingdom is not of this world (1)

2022.09.03/04

From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

One of the American presidents that I most admire is Jimmy Carter (39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.) He was best known not for what he did during His one term as President, but what he did after his presidency. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, “for work to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” He is also very devoted to his Christian faith and is an inspiration to many brothers and sisters in his home church where he has taught Sunday school for years. He had gone to the pinnacle of political power in the world, but after his political career, he devoted all his energy to humanitarian and evangelistic endeavour. To me he is an example of one who knew and exercised much political power, but also one who moved on to live out and practice a different power, spiritual power, to help so many people find life and life abundant around the world.

Over the past few months, wars such as that of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia have displaced millions of people, and also political turmoil and civil unrests such as that in Hong Kong and Burma have resulted in creating many waves of reluctant “immigrants” or refugee. Behind all these conflicts often lie the hunger and greed of nations and their politicians for power and wealth, as they try to build and expand their own earthy kingdoms. Here in Canada with the latest visit of the Pope of a six-day ‘pilgrimage of penance’ we are reminded again of the serious mistreatment of First Nations children in the residential schools in the past and the trauma of the survivors till now. As Christians we cannot turn a blind eye to all the atrocities and injustice around us. While we have responded a little to aiding the refugees in the neighbouring countries of Ukraine such as Poland, reach out to some people who have been forced to abandon their homes in Hong Kong and have come to Canada, and for a decade have tried to reach out to some first nation youths in Hazelton, we must redouble our effort because the need is still so great. We must do what we can to help all these people who have suffered so much to find their new home and new life. As Christians who have been blessed by God in so many different ways and we have the responsibilities to reach out to so many who are disadvantaged and so much less fortunate than us.  However, I must admit that I find myself helpless, overwhelmed and even angry at the enormous devastation caused by the powers of this world. What then can we do?

In reflecting on the situation we are in, I am reminded of the words of Jesus who said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”- John 18:36.  In our next issue we shall go deeper into this verse and the concept of “My Kingdom is not of this world”, but for now, let me outline the most obvious message. First of all, Jesus is not saying His kingdom is not concerned with the world and all its needs that somehow it is other-worldly. No, what Jesus is saying is, unlike the world around us, which is often power-driven and filled with violent politics, His kingdom is one of peace and justice, full of grace and mercy (that is why Jesus’ disciples were not encouraged to use violence to fight back). What we have to offer in the Church above all, is the gospel of the kingdom of God, a kingdom of love, peace and justice, one that the world does not offer. The gospel is therefore our top priority and our answer to the world of hate, unrest and injustice. (To be continued)

Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Simon Lee

我的國度不屬這世界(一)

2022.09.03/04

列宣家親愛的兄弟姊妹:

我最欽佩的美國總統之一是卡特總統(Jimmy Carter),(他於1977至1981年擔任美國第39任總統)。他最負盛名的不是在於總統任期內的業績,而是在他離任後的所作所為。他因著在尋求和平解決國際衝突、促進民主和人權,以及在促進經濟和社會發展方面的努力而獲得2002年諾貝爾和平獎。他也非常忠於本身的基督教信仰,多年來一直在他自己的教會中任教主日學,令許多兄弟姊妹得著靈性的造就。他雖登上世界政治權力的頂峰,但在他的政治生涯結束後,他將全部精力投入於人道主義和佈道事工之上。對我來說,他是瞭解政治權力的一個典範,也是繼續身體力行地實踐另類權力、屬靈權柄的人,以幫助眾多在世界各地的人找到生命及得著豐盛的人生。

過去數月內,眼見俄羅斯入侵烏克蘭等戰爭導致數百萬人流離失所,而香港和緬甸及不同的政治動盪和內亂亦導致了許多不情願的“移民”或難民浪潮。在所有這些衝突的背後,反映著世上有些國家及政客們為著試圖建立和擴大自己的地上國度,所存對權力與財富的渴望及貪婪之慾。教宗訪問加拿大原住民之六日“懺悔之旅”也一再提醒我們在本國不公義的歷史,承認天主教昔日曾虐待原住民的寄宿學校兒童,倖存者至今仍有嚴重的創傷。作為基督徒,我們不能對周圍所有的暴行和不公義視而不見。雖然我們曾幫助在波蘭等地烏克蘭鄰國的難民作出了一些回應,同時也正在向一些被迫放棄在香港的家園來到加拿大的人伸出援手,並且在過去十年來一直在嘗試聯繫及支持Hazelton的第一民族青年事工,但事實上由於需求仍然巨大,我們必須加倍努力。我們必須盡所能墬幫助這些在苦難中的人找到他們的新居所和新生活。作為基督徒,我們有責任伸出援手接觸許多處於不利地位和比我們不幸的人,讓他們以各種不同的方式得到上帝的祝福。然而,我必須承認,我們對這個世界的權勢造成的巨大破壞感到無助、不知所措,甚至憤怒。那我們能做什麼呢?

在反思我們所身處的情況時,我想起了耶穌的話,祂說:“我的國不屬於這世界;如果我的國屬於這世界,我的臣僕就要作戰,使我不至被交給猶太人。不過,我的國不是這世上的。”(約18:36)。下期我們將會更深入地研究這節經文和“我的國不屬於這個世界”的含義,但現在讓我先行略述最突顯的主要信息。首先,耶穌並不是說祂的國度是以某種超凡脫俗的姿態,不去關心這世界和世上的需要。絕非如此,耶穌所說的是與我們周圍的世界不同,這個世界往往是被權力驅動的,充滿暴力政策,但祂的國度是和平與公義的,充滿恩典和憐憫(這就是為什麼耶穌的門徒沒有受到鼓勵使用任何暴力進行反擊)。我們在教會中首先要提供的是天國的福音,這是一個愛、和平與正義的國度,是世界所沒有的。因此,傳講福音是我們的首要任務,也是我們對仇恨、動盪和不公義世界的回應。(未完待續)

主僕,
李耀全牧師