Monday 31 August 2009

2008 Reflections - Of First Importance

A report of the previous year in the English Ministry at the Chinese Church submitted for our annual review of 2008.

Remembering God’s grace

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance…

Every opportunity to recount God’s grace and God’s goodness leads us to praise God for His goodness. We are reminded to do this frequently. At times we are even commanded to do so.

This is not for the sake of nostalgia. In part it reflects how easily we forget. We often forget God’s mercies in history and in our lives. Forgetfulness leads to doubt which in turn leads to grumbling – an indication of ungratefulness and lack of faith.

But the Scriptures call us to remember not simply what, but who – who God is. His works reveal Himself – His character, His love and His grace. As with Abram in Genesis 12, God reveals himself, “I am the LORD…” and immediately reminds his servant of what he has done, “… who has brought you out… to give you this land.”

God reminds us of who he is – that we might know him better and trust him more fully. It is with joy in my heart and for the assurance of all our hopes in Christ that we now come to reflect and remember God’s goodness in 2008 – a year of God’s grace for God’s glory through God’s gospel.

Videos from Solid Rock 2009 Music Event

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Genesis 8: Total Recall

It was dark and frankly quite smelly. Everyone was shivering from the cold and damp. But no one dared complain. No one was thinking about themselves.

Everyone’s attention was drawn outside – outside the ark. Above us was the heavy splatter of rain on the roof. But all around us were the awful cries of people - men and women screaming for help. Some were pounding on the walls begging to be let in. Others were violent in their threats.

But God had shut us in. Just the eight of us; and the animals. We held on to each other tightly in the pitch darkness.

Water was lapping against the side of the hull. The wood creaked under the rising pressure. Before long the whole ark was shaking as waves began to crash against the thick walls of gopher wood.

Suddenly everything jerked forward. That last wave dislodged the ark from a fixed position it had held for 120 years. We were now swaying back and forth at the mercy of the increasing waters.

We could feel ourselves being lifted up higher and higher above the ground. The sound of pelting rain echoed through every level of the ark like a deafening roar. Even so, in the far distance, we could still make out shrieks and cries –younger men and women had fled to the mountains, though there were far fewer voices now. The sounds were all we had to go on. All we could see was darkness.

It was probably the second or third day when we realised that all we could hear was the rain. No more cries for help. No more pounding on the walls. Not even a bird in the sky. No more life. Just rain – constant rain. We knew we ought to be thankful to still be alive, to still have one another. But being inside the ark, here in the darkness – it felt more like being in a tomb than a lifeboat.

How do live through a tragedy? How do you make sense of life when you have been through a calamity that has caused so many deaths? What would you say to a survivor of a war, an earthquake or a tsunami?

Thursday 20 August 2009

Solid Rock T-shirts

We had T-Shirts made for the Solid Rock youth concert coming up next week and they arrived just this morning. Really excited getting them to the team this Sunday.

The words on the tees are taken from an old English hymn, "My Hope Is Built". The first verse goes like this:

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Hallelujah! A song we just have to play standing up

God's grief, God's judgement, God's grace (Genesis 7)

The Flood

Taiwan sees a dozen typhoons this time of the year, but a recent tropical storm that hit the southern region last week on August the 4th caught everyone by surprise. Yesterday’s news report estimates the death toll at 500 due to extreme flooding and mudslides burying whole villages. The international media refer to the storm as “Typhoon Morakot”, but the locals in Taiwan know it by another name. They call it “Devil Typhoon”[1].

What was unusual about Typhoon Marakot was not the intensity of the rain, but its length. Three to four days of sustained rainfall resulted in flood levels reaching 2.5 meters. Worldwide, the typhoon affected tens of thousands in Japan and the Philippines, 1.5 million in Taiwan and 11 million people in eastern China.

Today we read the biblical account of a deluge that lasted not 4 days but 40 days and 40 nights. It was a flood which waters reached not roof tops but mountain peaks. In Genesis 7 we read the account of the flood and Noah’s ark.

In case you think this is just a story or a myth. Let me start by saying that accounts of the flood exist in just about every single culture, nation and religion. In India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, in China, Europe and the Americas[2] – civilizations the world over have some form of a great flood recorded in legend, scripture and history.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Solid Rock 2009