May 22, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹,平安!感謝主,我們能再次用這樣的方式一起來思想上帝的話語。今天 我們要來看創世記19章,紀錄所多瑪蛾摩拉的毀滅,特別要注意到羅得的太太。在24-26 節這樣的記載:

『24 當時,耶和華將硫磺與火從天上耶和華那裡降與所多瑪和蛾摩拉, 25 把那 些城和全平原,並城裡所有的居民,連地上生長的,都毀滅了。 26 羅得的妻子在 後邊回頭一看,就變成了一根鹽柱。』 我們不難發現一個很奇妙的對比。前一個記載是上帝毀滅這裡一切的,包含居民, 地上生長的。而下一個景象我們看到羅得的妻子轉頭看。她要看什麼?她為什麼要看?事 實證明,無論她想看什麼,都已經不見了。更何況,看了,反而讓自己成為鹽柱。從這段 的記載,我想分享幾點。

第一,羅得的太太之所以轉頭看,是因為她不願聽上帝的警告。因為在17節,天 使已經吩咐羅得一家,趕快跑,不可回頭免得被剿滅。看來羅得的太太不太相信天使的話 。她或許不覺得看一眼會怎樣。也許覺得上帝不會這麼慘忍。那是她對上帝太多的不認識 。事實證明,上帝是信實的,上帝怎麼說,就會怎麼的發生。弟兄姐妹們,我們要對上帝 的話認真,因為上帝是信實的。聖經所記載上帝的話語,包含上帝所說一切的懲罰都會發 生的。我們千萬不要輕視或是忽略,也不要錯誤的以為上帝不會施行公義。我們當要小心 !不然我們會因著我們的小信或是不信而遭遇如同羅得太太的遭遇,到時就已經後悔莫及 了!

第二,羅得的太太之所以轉頭看,一方面是她不相信上帝的警告,另一方面也看到 她如何在乎那些她必須捨棄的東西。她回頭看因為她放不下。這章記載在逃亡的過程中, 羅得一直都不願意離開,若不是天使強迫,強拉,他還是不願意走。這也證明了羅得一家 對所多瑪蛾摩拉的生活有許多的留戀。可是很震撼的是,那些他們所留戀的,卻是留不下 來的東西。經文記載所有的一切都被毀滅。羅得的太太為了那些被毀滅的轉頭,失去性命 ,真的是划不來啊!這也提醒我們,當我們決定跟隨耶穌的時候,我們就當捨棄過去的一 切。無論是物質上的,生活上的,任何不討神喜悅的或是會影響我們與神的關係。我們有 沒有什麼是我們還不願意,還時不時轉頭回去看的?千萬不要讓這些留不住的東西拉扯我 們,讓我們失去上帝的救恩與保護。

弟兄姐妹們,讓我們定睛仰望在唯一的主,那暨慈愛又公義的主。千萬不要小看上 帝的話語。也讓我們學會放下那些不重要,影響我們與神關係,那些當滅的事物。願上帝 祝福大家!

May 19, 2020 by Pastor Frank

歡迎再次收看五月19日的牧者分享。今天我們繼續從創世記18章來分享。今天我 主要要從13~14節來與大家分享我的領受。

13 耶和華對亞伯拉罕說:「撒拉為甚麼暗笑,說:『我既已年老,果真能生養嗎 ?』 14 耶和華豈有難成的事嗎?到了日期,明年這時候,我必回到你這裡,撒拉必生一 個兒子。」

在經文中我們看到上帝差派三個神人來再次宣告亞伯拉罕將要有一個兒子,而且這 次給了確切的時間,就是在明年這個時候,且是從撒拉而出。我們也看到亞伯拉罕與撒拉 的反應。他們當然是不相信。因為第11節已經提到,撒拉已經斷了經。從人的角度來說 ,從醫學的角度來說,要撒拉生孩子那是不可能的事情。但是神人知道這兩夫妻的想法, 他就直接點明的說,在耶和華豈有難成的事?這句話很常被拿來用。在教會裡我們也常常 聽到這句話。『在上帝豈有難成的事。』但是我們知道這句話對我們信徒來說有什麼實際 上的影響?

第一,這裡說到在神裡面沒有什麼是難成的事。神是超越一切,高過一切的神。在 人看為不能的,在醫學上看為不可能的,神都能。為什麼?這是一個創造者與被造者的不 同。我們是被造的。所有一切有的知識,認知,想法,科技,醫學,都屬於被造。上帝造 人,並在人心裡頭腦裡放下一切的知識與科學。所有的知識,科學,醫學,都應當幫助我 們更多了解上帝的創造。因此,科學不斷進步,醫學不斷改變,越來越發達。從這個角度 來講,當下的科技或是醫學所認為不可能的,實際上不見得,只是還沒發展到可以的地步 。而上帝是創造者。他當然能夠成就一切,因為一切都是他所造的,他有全能。事實也證 明上帝能夠。因為在隔年,按照神人所預言的,亞伯拉罕與撒拉真的生了一個兒子名叫以 撒。

第二,在上帝豈沒有難成的事,這句話也提醒我們,既然上帝都能,但現實中上帝 並沒有成就某些事,不是因為上帝不能,而是上帝不要,或是暫時不要。面對現在的新冠 病毒,上帝能不能夠使疫情馬上停止?當然可以!在上帝豈有難成的事!但是上帝為什麼 沒有停止?或許我們更要想上帝為什麼還不停止。上帝要我們學習什麼功課?是否我們還 有沒有認罪的,無論是自己,還是團體?我們需要問的是,上帝我還要學什麼?

最後,在上帝豈沒有難成的事,也提醒我們上帝都知道。正如上帝知道撒拉心裡的 不信,亞伯拉罕心裡的懷疑,他也知道你我真實的信心。我們無須躲藏,只要單單真實。 當我們理解這句話的時候,我們是帶著一個被造者的真實來面對那創造者的全能。正因為 上帝都能,所以我們不害怕我們的不能與限制。

弟兄姐妹們,讓我們學會倚靠那凡事都能的上帝。真實在神寶座前。並學習一點一 滴的倚靠他,經歷他,好讓我們也能真實的宣告,在上帝豈有難成的事!

May 15, 2020 by Pastor Frank

我們有沒有想過,上帝為何要差祂的獨生愛子來到世上為你我而死,好使我們能罪 得赦免?今天我們要從創世記17章當中更深了解上帝為什麼要這樣做。

創世記17章一開始就記載了上帝為亞伯蘭改名為亞伯拉罕,也為撒萊改名為撒拉 ,就是多國之父與多國之母的意思。之後,就再次與他立約,並再次宣告必有後裔從亞伯 拉罕而出,而且是從撒拉而生的。這個約的內容是因亞伯拉罕在上帝眼中看為義,就是他 願意無論如何信靠上帝,因此上帝必使他與他的後裔在上帝所賜的地土上長久,也必使他 的後裔極其繁多,國度從他而立,君王從他而出。作爲立約的另一方,亞伯拉罕與他的後 裔並家中所有的男子都要行割禮,作為立約的記號。接著,在第19節,上帝就如此的宣 告:

『不然,你的妻子撒拉要給你生一個兒子,你要給他起名叫以撒。我要與他堅定所 立的約,作他後裔永遠的約。』

在這裡,我們就看到了上帝為何要差他的愛子來為我們捨命。原因只有一個,那就 是我們的神,是一個守約施慈愛的神。從以撒身上我們可以從幾的重點看到上帝是如何的 守約施慈愛。首先,以撒這個兒子,是上帝與亞伯拉罕立約並上帝守約的憑證。這裡說到 ,我要與他堅定所立的約。上帝要與以撒堅定所立的約,是因為上帝起初與亞伯拉罕的約 。你們知道嗎,所有的列祖當中,亞伯拉罕,以撒,雅各,只有以撒在迦南地出生,就是 上帝立約所賜的地,並一生沒有離開過迦南地。亞伯拉罕是從外地回到迦南地。雅各中間 因為與哥哥搶了長子名份而逃離開迦南地,且最終死在埃及。只有以撒,一個立約之子, 一生在上帝的應許中不曾離開。這成就了上帝起初說的,要在上帝所賜的地土上長久。因 著亞伯拉罕在上帝面前的義,因著他選擇無論如何最終都信靠上帝,上帝看他為義,因此 以撒得以享受約的福份,長久住在應許地上,享受流奶與蜜的好處。

第二,以撒也是蒙恩的象徵。以撒什麼都沒做,聖經對他的記載相對的少,不是他 爸爸幫他找妻子,就是他後來處理兩個兒子的事,當然還有其中與亞比米勒王的過節。但 他一生都是領受上帝的恩典。他的蒙恩,是因為上帝施恩。他什麼都沒做,但也沒有太多 違背上帝的旨意。

從以撒的身上,我們可以明白耶穌的十字架。上帝之所以要差祂的愛子為我們死, 是因為祂的守約。上帝渴望祂的子民一生在祂的應許之地上享受。先是伊甸園,後是迦南 地,當然在現今與將來是那以臨未臨的永恆國度。耶穌為我們死,好讓我們能夠成就約的 條件,就是割禮,就是潔淨。當我們潔淨了,就能夠在上帝所賜的地土上國度裡長久。

耶穌的死,十字架的彰顯,更是上帝施慈愛的確據。我們蒙恩不是因為我們做什麼 。我們蒙恩只是因為上帝愛我們,正如上帝愛以撒一樣。耶穌甘心為我們死,是因為上帝 的慈愛。而我們,只要學以撒一樣,單單享受上帝的愛,上帝的信實,一生遵守神的道, 不要離開祂的國度,遵守他國度的所有律例典章,我們就能永遠在神國度裡蒙福。

弟兄姐妹們,約的一方是上帝的守約施慈愛。但在約的另一方,是我們要願意行割 禮,得潔淨,信靠耶和華,並紀念十字架的慈愛。讓我們好好遵守神的道,到老不偏離, 好讓我們能長久在神的地土上,並使我們的後裔也能有機會存留在神的國度裡。

May 12, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹平安!歡迎再次收看今天的牧者分享時間。我們有沒有過埋怨上帝的經驗 ?我們能夠挑戰上帝嗎?怎樣的埋怨,或是挑戰,是上帝能夠接受的。而當我們錯誤的埋 怨的時候,又會怎樣呢?我想今天用撒萊的例子來分享。 創世記16章記載亞伯蘭的妻子撒萊沒有生育。當時的反應是什麼?

2 撒萊對亞伯蘭說:「耶和華使我不能生育。求你和我的使女同房,或者我可以因 她得孩子(得孩子:原文是被建立)」。

我們看到了撒萊的反應。她認為她之所以不能生育,是因為上帝的關係。是上帝故 意讓她不生育的。在當時的社會,能不能生育很重要。因為生育攸關一個人的榮譽。聖經 中上帝的賜福是在於地土與後裔。因此沒有生育,那是看來表明一個人不蒙福。這也難怪 撒萊反應那麼的大。這也是為什麼她會對亞伯蘭說,你與我的使女同房,生孩子,我就能 因為是我的家裡的使女而得著建立,洗刷羞恥。所以,撒萊的指控是有理的嗎?也不盡然 。原因有幾個。

第一,撒萊對上帝的指控是出於自己的想法。不要忘記上帝在前一章才應許了亞伯 蘭他的後裔要如同天上的星星一樣多。而且上帝還說這後裔必然是從亞伯蘭而出。所以, 撒萊說上帝故意不讓她生育,那是她自己的錯誤想法。如果上帝不要她生育,為何要應許 後裔必從亞伯蘭而出?上帝並不是要咒詛撒萊,只是上帝的時間未到。因此撒萊的指控是 有問題。那是她自己對上帝的認識不夠,信心不夠。相對於亞伯蘭,他不明白的時候他就 問。撒萊卻沒有,直接自己下定論,一定是上帝不愛我。

第二,撒萊不只誤解上帝,更私自用自己的方式達到她自己的目的。其實她很聰明 。她當然知道上帝有應許亞伯蘭,後裔必是從他而出。但是撒萊就想,只說是從亞伯蘭而 出,沒說一定從我而出啊!所以她自作主張的讓亞伯蘭與她的使女同房。這是撒萊的小聰 明,也是她的詭計。這是一石二鳥的作法。一方面她的名可以洗刷羞恥,另一方面也不違 背上帝的應許。但是結果呢?卻是自討苦吃。因為後來,她的使女夏甲反過來騎在他主母 的頭上,母以子為貴。問題出在哪裡?問題出在撒萊走在上帝前面。

她沒有詢問上帝,是不是可以這樣做。也沒有求告上帝,所謂的子嗣一定必須是從 她而出嗎。她只是埋怨,只是懷疑。對比後來的哈拿,一樣不懷孕,但哈拿到神面前。哈 拿也是埋怨,但她將她的苦情求告上帝。

我們能不能向上帝埋怨?可以,但重點是向上帝訴苦。我們可以不解,可以不明白 ,但我們當要學會求問上帝。因為當我們沒有求問的時候,那是對上帝的不公平。我們並 沒有讓上帝有機會顯明祂的計畫與心意。我們更走在上帝面前,結果卻是不堪設想。以實 瑪利,這個用自己方式生出來的孩子,他的後裔成為以色列人往後最大的敵人之一。從此 以撒的後裔與以實瑪利的後裔爭鬧不斷。

弟兄姐妹們,好不好讓我們學會用對的方式來求問上帝。我們學會用對的方式來埋 怨神,給上帝機會顯明祂的心意,絕對不要走在上帝前面,用自己的方式。

May 8, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹平安!想問大家,信心是怎麼來的?是與生俱來的嗎?是像魔術一樣的說 有就有嗎?我想從今天亞伯蘭在創世記15章與上帝的對話中,一起來思想關於『信心』 的領受。我們對亞伯蘭的認知,是他被稱為信心之父。但是他之所以是信心之父,並不是 一開始就是,也不是都有信心。他也有懷疑,也有不信,或是不確信的時刻。但這些過程 中他最終都選擇相信上帝,所以才會被稱為信心之父。讓我們來看今天的記載。

1這事以後,耶和華在異象中有話對亞伯蘭說:「亞伯蘭,你不要懼怕!我是你的 盾牌,必大大地賞賜你。」

一個信心之父,聽到上帝這樣的應許,應該就馬上相信了吧!其實不然!因為我們馬上看 到亞伯拉罕開始跟上帝對話。他說,你看我,現在無子無孫,難道是以利以謝嗎?原來在 當時的觀念,如果沒有子嗣的話,就由家裡最資深的僕人接管產業,而以利以謝就是那個 人。亞伯蘭只看到他的現況,就想或許是指以利以謝吧。但是耶和華更直接說,不,只有 從你而生的才是所應許的那個。這時,上帝就將他領到外面,讓他看著天上的星星,告訴 他他的後裔會與這些星星一樣的多。第六節,『亞伯蘭信耶和華,耶和華就以此為他的義 。』亞伯蘭真的信了嗎?是,也不是。因為我們後來會看到,下一章亞伯蘭就用自己的方 式,為自己生了一個孩子。但是我想從這章來對信心做一個總結。

首先,亞伯蘭之所以會有後面的信心,是因為他真實。他對上帝的應許不是毫無疑 問的。他真實面對上帝,把他心中的疑問說出來。從某個程度來說,這也是信心的一部分 ,是願意表現自身的軟弱,自己的真實面,那是對上帝的信靠才能願意展示的。我們能夠 得著信心,首先需要學會真實面對自己,不要假裝。

第二,信心是經過時間積累的。亞伯蘭對於上帝的應許的理解是漸進的。他承認他 不懂。他就問。問了,他似懂非懂,所以他繼續問。他的信心不是膚淺的,而是有確認過 的。我在服事的過程中,認識很多弟兄姐妹對信仰打破沙鍋問到底。老實說會很煩,但也 很尊重。因為那是信仰的過程。你知道什麼樣的人信仰相對的堅固嗎?就是那些在過程中 問很多問題的,當他信的時候也會很堅固的信。

第三,上帝知道我們的心,所以這裡說耶和華就以他為義。這意思是,在當下的景 況,亞伯蘭是信的。上帝看他當下的信心是好的。這不表示他之後不會有懷疑或是掙扎。 但是當下的信心,是真實的。在那時的理解,接受當下的認知,上帝看他為義。弟兄姐妹 們,這對你我是何等大的安慰!上帝知道我們的心。他接受我們在各時候的景況。我們只 要確認一件事,就是今天我比昨天有信心,就好了!畢竟,信心是漸進的。上帝接受我們 在各樣時刻的信心!

讓我們一起學習信靠的功課,也彼此鼓勵。這個功課無止境,盼望我們越加操練, 越加增長!願上帝祝褔你們!

May 5, 2020 by Pastor Frank

很高興再次在空中用神的話語來與你們分享。今天我們要來看到創世記14章,當 時亞伯蘭的姪子羅得因著四王與五王的戰爭,因著所住的地方所多瑪屬於五王聯盟,結果 打敗了,被四王聯盟擄掠走了。後來亞伯蘭聽說他的姪子被抓了,就連同三個族的人,一 共318人,在夜間打敗四王聯盟,將羅得,並起初五王聯盟被奪去的财物一同搶回來,連 所有人都搶回來了。當他們回來的時候,這裡記載所多瑪王以及撒冷王麥基洗德都來迎接 他。這個撒冷王是誰?他不是五王聯盟之一,但聖經記載他是上帝的祭司。我們就看到, 麥基洗德按著祭司的身份為亞伯蘭祝福。

『19「願天地的主、至高的 神賜福與亞伯蘭! 20 至高的 神把敵人交在你手裡,是應 當稱頌的!」亞伯蘭就把所得的拿出十分之一來,給麥基洗德。』

我想從這個祝福與亞伯蘭的回應當中,來思想神今天給我的提醒。首先,我們注意 到麥基洗德的祝福。他說,願天地的主,至高的神賜福亞伯蘭。亞伯蘭帶著318的人去攻 打四王聯盟。要知道這四王聯盟有多少人?這是一個連五王都打不過的對手。聖經沒有記 載他們有多少人,但絕對是亞伯蘭帶去的人數的許多倍。更何況,亞伯蘭帶去的只是三個 族的族人,不見得是有經驗的軍隊。所以這是一個以小博大,甚至可能是以卵擊石的對戰 。但是我們看到亞伯蘭大獲全勝,還把當初被奪去的加倍奪回。麥基洗德,一個代表上帝 的聲音,祝福亞伯蘭,並提醒了他。亞伯蘭之所以可以得勝,是因為上帝天地的主,至高 的神賜福與他。若不是萬軍之耶和華的保護,他們斷不能得勝。第20節更直接說,是至 高神把敵人交在他的手中的!

接著我們就看到亞伯蘭的回應。這裡亞伯蘭將所得的十分之一給了麥基洗德。這是 聖經很清楚的記載那十一奉獻的例子。亞伯蘭之所以奉獻,是因為他明白接受麥基洗德的 祝福。他知道是上帝帶領。他甘心樂意的獻上十分之一。因為他知道,若不是上帝將敵人 交在他手中,他一分也得不到,更別說是十分之十。他之所以能奉獻,是因為上帝的祝福 。這裡的『拿出』,在語氣上是主動,不是被動的。意思是,亞伯蘭是主動的,願意的, 沒有被逼。他是甘心樂意的

從這裡,我想要提醒我們。我們是否明白,看見,正如麥基洗德所祝福的,我們今 天所擁有的,是至高的上帝將這些交在我們手中?我們是否願意看我們所有的而心存感恩 ?

我不曉得大家在奉獻的事上是如何到看待。但我還是要再次從亞伯蘭身上提醒,奉 獻是出於感恩的獻上。奉獻更是甘心樂意的獻上。讓我們一起藉著奉獻來再次被提醒我們 所有的,包括我們能夠得勝,都是上帝的帶領。願我們將一切榮耀與感謝獻給那至高的神 。因著如此,我們願意甘心樂意的獻上十分之一,甚至更多!

May 1, 2020 by Pastor Frank

歡迎再次收看今天5月1日的牧者分享。沒想到五月這麼快就來到,我們居家防疫 也一個多月了,盼望大家都平安,有喜樂。也盼望這些日子的牧者分享能幫助大家更多專 注在上帝的心意,以及我們能夠怎樣更認識神,更討神喜悅。

我們今天來看到創世記第13章。上次我們提到亞伯蘭被埃及法老趕離開,然後它 就開始上到南地去。我們這裡再次注意到,上次我們說他遠離上帝是漸漸的。從應許地, 往南地,然後往埃及,是一個向下的方向。這裡相對應的,他在埃及被上帝教訓過後,它 就開始漸漸的回到上帝的應許。上到南地,又漸漸往伯特利去,回到起先築壇的地方。這 是一個往上的方向,也說明他的屬靈生命的恢復。而今天我要著重在第8 節:

『亞伯蘭就對羅得說:「你我不可相爭,你的牧人和我的牧人也不可相爭,因為我 們是骨肉(兄弟)。」』

我們怎麼知道亞伯蘭的屬靈生命是往上的?從今天的經文我們就看到他怎麼處理紛 爭。面對家產的增多,土地的有限,亞伯蘭與他的姪子羅得開始有了衝突。要知道,遊牧 民族很需要水源。有水就表示有草,有草才可以養殖牲畜。可是人越多,牲畜越多,水就 不夠大家使用了。這些紛爭就難免會產生。這時候,亞伯蘭如何處理就需要很大的智慧。 我們看到亞伯蘭的處理態度。第一,他主動找羅得來解決。他沒有逃避問題,反而是直接 面對問題。第二,他可以用他族長的角度來處理,但他沒有。他在乎和睦。和睦是最重要 的。第三,他願意這樣做是因為他看羅得為他的自己人,不是敵人。最後,他選擇退讓, 讓羅得先選。

我分享這些除了從當中看到一些解決衝突的原則,但更多我看到是一個人因著與神 恢復關係後,才有得著這樣的智慧。箴言說,『敬畏耶和華是智慧的開端。』亞伯蘭遠離 神,就做了不好的抉擇。但上帝有恩典,亞伯蘭也因此從中得著教訓,反而因此更警醒, 更渴望上帝的應許,而因著敬畏上帝做對的有智慧的抉擇。我想要鼓勵大家,你與上帝的 關係現在如何?是向下的,還是向上的?或許你才剛經歷了一些難處,是不是上帝在告訴 你些什麼?我們可以失敗,可以做錯。但更重要的是,我們有沒有從錯誤中明白上帝的心 意,而回轉歸向神?我們所面對的問題,挑戰還是在,與其用自己的方式處理,好不好我 們先學會敬畏上帝,讓上帝成為我們智慧的開端。相信我,靠上帝,比靠自己還來得好!

亞伯蘭因倚靠上帝,學會了用和睦的方式,用愛的態度,用大智慧來處理。雖然看 來他是退一步,卻因此得著上帝的更大的祝福。讓我們渴望上帝的祝福,而不是自己眼前 的小祝福,小利益。願上帝祝福大家!

April 29, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

Brothers & Sisters,
I pray that this communication finds you well and safe in the Lord.

It appears that, for the first time, we might…MIGHT…have a little more clarity about if/when the church doors will reopen. Governor Newsom spoke yesterday and discussed four stages, of which everyone is now in the 1st stage (“stay at home”). Stage 2 involves re-opening lower risk facilities—which includes schools, childcare facilities, warehouses and offices.

Stage 3 is the stage we as a church are most interested in, as the governor specified that this stage includes “in-person religious services.” It will be at least several “months” away—whereas schools (in Stage 2) might reopen by summer. So, let the speculation begin: will churches reopen by September? I would hope a lot sooner, but that is my interpretation of the governor’s pronouncement. Of course, it all depends on how the “curve” goes—rising, flattening or (hopefully) falling. There are a few good signs these days—thank God.

Of course, reopening a church is not necessarily all-or-nothing—it will happen in phases. Again, we are still speculating, and as we follow the lead of our federal, state and local leaders, we will begin planning for re-entry as a church and how it will look to each of you. We will keep praying for wisdom from the Lord.

Stay tuned for further updates.

I’ve been reflecting lately about hands. Yes, literal hands—those things we shake with, wave with, cook with and basically do everything with. The Apostle Paul used the hand as part of the overall analogy of the Church as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:14-15, 21)…that the hand is no more or less important in the human body than the foot or the eye or some other less presentable part. The hand is also a literal picture of fellowship (Galatians 2:9)—that the grasping of hands and the use of hands to touch and show affection for others is an essential part of the human experience.

Today, for the first time in my life—I view my hand as a dangerous and even life-threatening part of me! I see the posters all the time, reminding me to (1) wash or sanitize my hands often, (2) avoid touching my face with my hands, (3) avoid shaking hands with others. Sometimes when I meet a neighbor in person, my first inclination is to go forward and extend my hand to shake the other as a gesture of friendship and warm greetings. But, I need to fight against that and remind myself, “Don’t do it; I might accidentally kill him (or vice versa)!”

I suppose this too is biblical…at least in a metaphorical sense. The Psalmist writes: Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not appealed to what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully (24:3-4). The picture is of an evil man who has the stain of sin and guilt (blood?) on his hands. That man should not think that he can ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place.

It is a good lesson to remember that as our hands can be infected with bacteria and viruses (and the experts say there is no doubt they are), our hands are also symbolically unclean before the Lord. Which one of us can say that our spiritual hands are unsoiled and pure before God, so that He would want to shake and hold our hands?! None of us! Just as we would look at a dirty man’s hands and avoid him like the plague, so also does God look upon our “unclean hands.”

Is there any soap or sanitizer strong enough to wash away the stain of sin? “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Thank you, Jesus, that because of your precious flow my hands are washed clean—my garments made whiter than snow. Thank you, Father, that because of Jesus’ blood, You want to grasp my hands and lead me in the way everlasting!  

I long for the day when our literal hands will no longer be viewed as something inherently or potentially dangerous…yes, still bacteria-laden and still in need of frequent washing and sanitizing, but not SARS-COV-2 dangerous. I long for the day when I’ll be able to shake hands with someone and not worry, “Did we just doom each other to the coronavirus disease?” I long for the day when the warm touch of a hand will be received as friendship rather than fear of infection. Oh, what a day that will be! When that day comes, and the church doors re-open, I will still stand there and warmly offer to shake your hand, but I will not be offended if you decline or if you immediately sanitize right afterwards! I will be doing the same. 

Extending virtual hands of love,
Pastor Godfrey

 

April 28, 2020 by Pastor Frank

歡迎再次來收看今天4月28日的牧者分享。今天我們要看到創世記12章,記載亞伯 蘭如何回應上帝的乎召,在還不知道要去哪裡的時候,離開他的本地本族本家,去上帝要 他去的地方。當然,我們後來知道上帝所要呼召他去的地方是迦南地。我們也看到亞伯蘭 的確到了上帝要帶領他去的地方,並且居住在哪裡。也就是說,雖然亞伯蘭原先不知道, 只是憑著信心跟,但最後經歷到上帝的帶領。但是我要讓大家一起來注意進到迦南地之後 的事。就是在第9~10節的記載:

9 後來亞伯蘭又漸漸遷往南地去。 10 那地遭遇饑荒。因饑荒甚大,亞伯蘭就下埃及去, 要在那裡暫居。

當時亞伯蘭因著環境的困難,因著有饑荒,就離開迦南地,上帝所應許的地方,去 到埃及。在這裡我想跟大家分享一個細節。我們有沒有發現,亞伯蘭是從迦南地慢慢的往 南移動?我們不知道什麼原因他要遷移到南地去。南地,實際上是迦南地的最南邊。而埃 及,就是從南地再往南經過一大片的沙漠後就到了埃及。也就是說,我們在這裡看到一個 往下的方向。當我們看聖經的時候,我們需要注意到如果有一個方向性的,無論是往上或 是往下,代表著不但是實際上地理的方向,更是表現一個人的屬靈狀態。這裡我們看到, 亞伯蘭的屬靈狀態是往下的。從迦南地,上帝顯現說我要將這地賜給你的後裔,這是一個 應許,結果亞伯蘭是越搬越下去,越搬越遠離上帝的應許。直到他完全離開的上帝的應許 地,去到外邦。從經文上我們後來看到,去到埃及也不是一凡風順。他必須要說謊,免得 他的太太被法老搶去。但結果還是被搶了,還害得埃及法老王與全家遭災,最後還被法老 趕離開。原因只有一個,就是他當時只看環境的困難,看到饑荒,卻往了上帝的應許。

我想對比一開始他對上帝的信心,在還不知道要去哪裡,在上帝什麼都還沒有成就 以前,他就願意信靠而跟隨,最後真的經歷到應許。可是後來呢?經歷到上帝又怎樣?還 是選擇看自己,看環境,而忘記上帝的應許。所以我要在這裡提醒我們所有的基督徒。不 要以為我們已經信主了,我們曾經經歷過上帝的恩典,我們也決定跟隨他,然後就有所鬆 懈。在不知不覺下,我們可能就會漸漸地忘記上帝起初的恩典與帶領。我們也許就會像亞 伯蘭一樣,漸漸遠離上帝的應許。不是信主就此一凡風順。不是信主就會天色常藍。反而 是我們要更加小心,注意,免得我們不經意的就遠離神。而當饑荒來的時候,當困難來的 時候,就是上帝在試驗我們是否還對他有信心。

亞伯蘭選擇用自己的方式來面對困難,忘記了上帝。而你我呢?我們有沒有忘記我 們的神?那個曾經帶領我們經歷一切的高山低谷的上帝。在面對眼前的困難時,我們是否 願意信靠他,而不是像亞伯蘭那樣的往下走,離上帝越遠,最後若不是上帝的救贖他早就

死在埃及法老的刀下了。讓我們不要遠離神,反而更要倚靠他,看上帝如何在困難中成就 ,因他曾經帶領過,他也必在這時帶領我們。

April 24, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹平安!感謝主讓我們能夠一起來聽祂的話,學習祂的教導,並且一同遵

行祂的話語。今天我們要繼續創世記第11章的分享。這章主要記載了巴別塔的故事。當時的人忘記了上帝曾經的救贖與教導,開始自以為是的想要建造一座塔,好讓他們能『跟上帝一樣』,塔頂通天。面對這樣的事情,上帝怎麼做呢?上帝就下來,變亂他們的口音,好讓他們不能成就他們想要做的事。或許有些人就會質疑上帝為什麼要這樣做。難道上帝嫉妒人跟他一樣嗎?難道上帝不要人同心合意的完成一件事情嗎?我們來看到第6節,耶和華這樣解釋:

6『看哪!他們成為一樣的人民,都是一樣的語言,如今既然做起這事來,以後他們所要做的事就沒有不成就的了。』

從這段經文當中我想要來分享幾點。首先,上帝並沒有質疑人的能力。這些人有他的專業,也很有能力。上帝知道他們能夠做什麼,畢竟我們之前也說過,人是按照上帝的形象所造的。人有恩賜,人有才能,這些都是神所賜的。

第二,問題出在人並沒有了解或是體會到,人之所以可以有這些才能,都是上帝所賜的。但是人以為是自己可以,自己很厲害,以為自己就能夠上達天上,與神一樣,甚至超越神。請問,如果上帝沒有阻止,他們能做到嗎?從第6節我們清楚看到,可以的!他們沒有什麼是不能成就的。但是,上帝卻必須要阻止。

這是因為第三,人雖有能力,但卻不見得是好的。甚至,這句話的意思是,如果人能夠成就這麼多事,難道人不能夠成就不好的事嗎?任何好的,壞的,人都能夠,而且還是用上帝所賜予的能力去成就。所以上帝必須阻止,特別是在這樣的情況下。

我們有很多的能力,也很多的成就。但是如果我們不能夠明白我們所擁有的一切都是神所賜的,且因此而歸榮耀給祂,這些成就就會成為毀滅他人的工具。一個成功的政治家,若不好好使用上帝所賜的能力,就可能會做一些危害社會的抉擇。一個牧者,執事,同工,若不好好使用上帝所給予的恩賜,就可能帶領羊群進入錯誤,遠離神。一個敬拜同工,若不好好使用上帝所給予的唱歌的恩賜,就會帶領人進入敬拜自己的錯誤裡。結果會是如何?上帝必然會制止,必然會中止,免得落入更大的失敗裡。

讓我們為我們所有的獻上感恩,禱告,千萬不要等到上帝把我們自以為的成就與恩賜才能拿走後,或是讓我們因著自大而造成的悲劇,我們才學會這樣的功課。也千萬不要僥倖,因為神必管教祂所愛的人。

今天分享就到這裡,我們下週空中再見!

April 21, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹平安!這週天氣要開始變熱,盼望大家能小心變化,做好預備喔!

我們要繼續透過創世記來思想上帝的教導。今天我們來到創世記10章。這章主要記載著挪亞的後代的家譜。老實說,以前看到家譜就直接跳過。但是慢慢的,當我對聖經更多熟悉後,開始能從家譜看到一些提醒。今天我就要來用這些的家譜與大家分享一些我看到的的提醒。

創世記10:1
『挪亞的兒子閃、含、雅弗的後代記在下面。洪水以後,他們都生了兒子。』

從這段經文當中第一個領受是看到上帝的保守與恩典。這裡看到,洪水以後,他們都生了兒子。這是一個新的開始,過去的腐敗都已經受到懲罰,而新的一代,新的生命在這裡開始。懲罰會過去,而過後都是新的。Life Goes On! 而上帝因著他與人的立約,也會使生命延續下去。

但是,同樣看到的第二點是,雖然都經歷了上帝的懲罰,救贖,與重新的生命,但結局卻是不同。挪亞的三個兒子,閃,含,雅弗,都經歷過造方舟,大洪水,然後也看到上帝如何拯救他們得以重生。可是,當我們看到家譜的時候,卻發現他們的後代不同。特別我看到含的後裔。仔細看他的後裔,有巴別,就是我們在下一次要談到的,那些想要超越神的人。含的後裔也還有尼尼微,是先知約拿被吩咐要去傳悔改信息的罪惡城市。我又看到了迦南,特別是迦南的後裔,是上帝後來吩咐以色列人進迦南地後必須滅淨的族裔因為他們信別的神。同樣的經歷上帝的救恩,卻沒有都繼續信靠上帝,為什麼?

這也是我想要來分享的第三點,哪就是從這個家譜當中看到信仰傳承的問題。為什麼含的後代沒有持續敬畏神?因為含自己本身就沒有做好信仰的榜樣。創世記第九章的結尾記載,當時挪亞喝醉的酒,發酒瘋,全身赤裸。含是第一個發現的,經文記載他不僅沒有先幫父親遮蓋,還跑去告訴其他兄弟父親的醜陋。而閃跟雅弗呢?他們聽到後,倒退著進房,然後馬上幫父親蓋上衣服。這代表著什麼?含面對羞愧的事,不僅不在意,還到處宣傳。他的父親喝醉,赤裸,他不僅沒有先想幫他穿衣服,還到處說父親的醜陋。就好像他在路上看到一個女生不知道什麼原因,裙子破個洞,他不只沒有想辦法先蓋住,反而大肆宣揚,大家來看!這表現出他對罪,對醜陋的輕視。也因為如此,他的·後代也才會如此的對罪開放。弟兄姐妹們,當我們對罪隨意的時候,我們的後代也容易對罪隨意。不是絕對,因為或許我們的後代會回轉。也不是我們敬畏了,後代就一定會敬畏,畢竟他有他的選擇。但當我們敬畏時,活出榜樣時,我們更有可能將信仰傳承。無論如何,我們必須知道,我們的榜樣會帶出什麼樣的後果。

從今天的家譜中我們看到,同樣都是經歷救恩的,同樣都看到上帝對罪的態度,我們的抉擇如何?我們是否因此而更警慎,敬畏神?還是我們繼續的一意孤行?盼望我們都能開始對罪敏感,嚴肅,並小心,因為當我們如此的時候,我們後代更走可能走在上帝的心意中。

願上帝賜福每一個敬畏他的人!

April 17, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹平安!願神賜福你們一切所需的,好讓你我能夠天天經歷上帝的供應與恩典。更重要的是,我們渴望每天領受從神而來的話語與提醒。今天我們要繼續看創世記第九章。當然這章節最經典最熟悉的,就是上帝用彩虹為記號,與挪亞與人立約。但我今天要從另一個經節來與大家分享。從今天的經文,我被提醒,我們是否有苦待其他人,特別是我們周遭的人。我們要用什麼樣的態度什麼樣的眼光對待其他人。

創世記9:6

『凡流人血的,他的血也必被人所流,因為上帝造人是照自己的形象造的。』

這段經文是上帝吩咐挪亞與他的兒子關於上帝會如何保守他們,但也同時提醒他們關於上帝期待人如何對待彼此。這裡說道,不可流人的血,因為上帝是按自己的形象造人的。人有上帝的形象。若我們流他人的血,就是流神的血,是侵犯上帝的形象了!從這裡,我被提醒我們為何要善待他人。

第一,因為他也是按著神的形象所造的。我們有沒有想過,我們每一個人都有上帝的形象?哥林多的教會問題很多,做了很多不討神喜悅的事情。可是保羅寫信給哥林多教會,一開頭就說,這信是給哥林多教會的『眾聖徒』。如果你在那個時候看到這封信,你可能會覺得,保羅是不是搞錯對象了?就好像保羅寫信給重刑犯說,我親愛的眾聖徒一樣。可是保羅為什麼這麼說?因為他知道上帝如何看待人。有哪一個人沒有罪?有哪一個人是完美的?但上帝仍然愛人,因為每一個人都是按著上帝形象所造的。每一個人都看為聖的。當然,更重要的是,上帝為了每一個人,賜下他的愛子耶穌來到世上,為每一個人上十字架。所以每一個人都可以稱為聖。所以,我們千萬不可苦待他人,因為當我們這樣做的時候,就是苦待上帝了,並侵犯上帝的神聖了!上帝說,凡流人血的,我,上帝,必討他的罪。

第二,因為討罪的的權柄是上帝,所以我們沒有人有權利去苦待他人,即便他是十惡不赦。我知道這一點很不容易做。我們很容易就因著對方的惡行而產生恨。但今天上帝提醒我們,要小心。討罪的權柄是在神,神自己會處理。中文說,不是不報,只是時候未到。又或許,其實上帝已經在討罪的,只是不是用我們想要的方式來處理,或是我們不知道。『伸冤在主』這是我們的唯一確信。因此,當我們因為他人的惡行而產生情緒時,讓我們學習『伸冤在主』的交託。千萬不可流人血。我們千萬不可嘗試去取代上帝,自己做上帝。

最後,我們的主吩咐我們要彼此相愛。他沒有說彼此相恨,而是要彼此相愛。這段時間我們會花很多時間與我們的家人相處。讓我們就好好學習彼此相愛。愛我們的家人,我們的配偶,我們的孩子。學習將我們的情緒交託給上帝,即使有時候他們真的不好愛。但永遠記得,他們有上帝的形象。讓我們學會常常在他們身上看見主的形象。

今天的分享就到這裡,讓我們好好的愛家人,愛周遭的人,愛社會上的人。讓我們藉由這個機會,更多學習愛的功課!我們下次空中見!

April 14, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹,平安!又是新的一週,我們再次在空中相會。不知道你第一次在網路上過受難日與復活節的體會如何?我盼望,基督的十字架與空墳墓是超越一切的限制的。即便是在這樣的景況下,我們仍然可以思想基督的愛與救贖。

今天我要用創世記第八章來繼續我們的讀經分享。在這一章,我們看到挪亞的方舟經歷了150天的漂流,又經歷了40多天的等待,終於可以從方舟上下到陸地。我們看到當他一下船,第一件事情做的是什麼?是築壇獻祭。

20『挪亞為耶和華築了一座壇,拿各類潔淨的牲畜、飛鳥獻在壇上為燔祭。』

這短短的一節的記載,讓我看到幾個思想。首先,挪亞經歷了一場大災難,也在災難中得著救贖,他第一時間做的就是獻祭。獻祭,是獻上感恩。感謝上帝的拯救,上帝的憐憫,上帝的恩典。挪亞將一切的榮耀都歸給上帝。他知道他的性命是上帝存活的。他也知道若不是上帝看他為義,他的遭遇也會與其他人一樣。弟兄姐妹們,我們是否常常記得要獻祭,將一切的榮耀歸給上帝?我們是否明白,今天我還活著,今天我還有能吃能喝能享受這一切,是上帝的恩典?聖經說,凡事謝恩,我們是否願意將一切我們所擁有的都獻祭,感恩?曾經有一個牧者提醒,我們早上起來的第一件事情就是應當謝恩,因為我們還有一口氣,我們還活著。有沒有想過,我們今天還活著,這也是恩典?前幾此我提醒大家,世人都犯了罪。而罪的代價就是死。但今天上帝有所有的理由拿走我們的生命,但他還沒有,是因為他的恩典與憐憫,是上帝還存留我們的性命,我們還有未完成的使命要成就。

第二,我們看到挪亞的獻祭,是拿各類潔淨的祭物。我們常常禱告,但是否我們的禱告是潔淨的?我們所獻上的,是上帝所喜悅的馨香之祭嗎?如果我們不知道是否禱告上帝悅納,我們的主耶穌已經教導我們如何禱告了!禱告是尊主為大,是願主的旨意成全。但是我們禱告是怎樣呢?大部分是感恩,是尊榮,是求聖靈幫助我們順服,幫助我們行在上帝的旨意中,還是列清單而已,要上帝來成就我們想要成就的?

讓我們時時刻刻記得要築壇獻祭。為凡事謝恩。與其看自己所沒有的,不如更多專注在我們還擁有的,好讓你我能明白,原來上帝所給我的很多很多,超乎我們所求所想的。你,準備好要築壇獻祭了嗎?

 

April 10, 2020 by Pastor Frank

各位弟兄姐妹,平安!今天是受難日,在這裡邀請,提醒大家,預備我們的心,今天晚上一起來參加線上的受難日禮拜直播,紀念主耶穌基督犧牲與愛。剛好今天我們要來分享的是從創世記7章裡,關於挪亞方舟的記載。因此,我想從這段經文當中來與大家討論有關『罪』與『恩典』的問題。

我們跟孩子分享挪亞方舟的故事,往往都是專注在上帝的救恩,如何帶領挪亞一家免於這世界性的毀滅。我們談論有關十字架,也是往往多強調上帝的救贖,恩典。可是,我想要從今天的記載,以及十字架的意義,來提醒大家,罪的嚴重性。為什麼會有挪亞的方舟?又為什麼有十字架的救恩?都是因為罪!人的罪極大,大到上帝必須用洪水來重置。我還記得以前參加書法比賽。我們都試著交出最好的作品。所以都要很小心的寫。有有時候不小心寫錯了,某些地方墨水不夠,就想著或許可以補強一下。可是越補越糟糕,到最後不得不要把紙撕掉重新寫一張。上帝之所以要有洪水,也是因為罪惡太大,必須重新來過。

耶穌為什麼要上十字架?我們有沒有想過,今天如果耶穌沒有上十字架,難道十字架的刑罰就不在了嗎?還在的!只是釘在上面的,不是耶穌,是你,是我!我們的罪必須承受刑罰。什麼是罪?罪就是遠離了上帝的心意!起初上帝說,不可吃分別善惡的果子,吃的日子必定死。死,就是罪的終極刑罰。弟兄姐妹們,我們要清楚的認知到我們是有罪的!我們必須為我們有罪的這件事實感到痛心,痛悔。不然,十字架與你我的重要性就沒有這麼的大了!

今天的經文告訴我們,耶和華對挪亞說,『你和你的全家都要進入方舟;因為在這世代中,我見你在我面前是義人。』上次我們說過,挪亞是義人,是因為他相對的遵守上帝的吩咐,聽上帝的旨意。但今天我更要說,他是義人,那上帝看他為義!耶穌為誰上十字架?為你我!但是因為你我都配得他為我們死嗎?當然不是!我們都是十惡不赦的罪人!我們都有罪!罪的代價就是死!我們都是該死的,該受死刑的!在上帝的國度中,任何的罪都是同等的,代價也都是一樣,就是死。但是上帝說,我讓我的兒子為你這個死刑犯上十字架,代替你的刑罰。罪必須要有個結果,那就是十字架!耶穌為你我上十字架,代替了罪的罰。我們要清楚知道,不是無罪,而是替罪!

弟兄姐妹們,因此當我們今天晚上來紀念受難日的時候,讓我們帶著感恩的心來領受。是我們把耶穌釘上十字架的!不單是法利賽人,猶太人,更是你我!是我們犯罪,一意孤行,將耶穌釘上十字架的!但他卻為你我上十字架。正如上帝看挪亞為義,我們的主也看我們為義,他願意為你我承受刑罰!我們不當更為感恩嗎?

讓我們千萬不要小看我們的罪。只有當你我更深刻體會認知我們是何等大的罪人時,基督耶穌的十字架對我們的重要性才會顯更大。

今天的分享就到這裡,願十字架與你有關,願耶穌基督犧牲的愛在你身上顯為大!我們下次,空中再相會!

April 7, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹,平安!大家都好嗎?這幾天下雨,要記得保暖,多增加維他命C,保持健康,有機會就多動一動喔!我們今天要繼續創世記第6章的分享,記得要先讀過喔!

創世記第6章看到上帝因著地上人的罪極大,就準備用洪水來毀滅。但是祂有恩典,為人類與動物留了支脈,預備救恩,就是藉著吩咐挪亞造大船。我想要來與大家思想這裡的罪的問題。

4那時候有巨人在地上,後來也有;上帝的兒子們和人的女子們交合,生了孩子。那些人就是古代的勇士,有名的人物。

這裡對於誰是上帝的兒子和人的女兒,不同的神學家有不同的解釋。我自己的認知是,這裡談到的就是屬神的孩子,亞當的後裔,與其他的不相信上帝的後裔,就是人的兒子。簡單來說,就是屬神的孩子去與屬世界的孩子有了關係。這裡提到,這些交合出來的孩子是巨人,是古代的勇士,是有名的人。或許你會問,如果上帝不喜悅這樣的結合,那為什麼生出來的卻是這樣的勇士,名人?例如這世界上有很多有名的人,成功的人,似乎很蒙福的人,但他們卻沒有信仰。而有信仰的,雖然不見得都是窮困,但相較之下卻是相對的在物質生活上不富足。當我再看到後面上帝對挪亞的描述後,我就明白了。

8只有挪亞在耶和華眼前蒙恩。挪亞造方舟9這是挪亞的後代。挪亞是個義人,在他的世代中是個完全人。挪亞與上帝同行。

這裡看到,挪亞在耶和華眼前蒙恩。他是個義人,在他世代中是個完全人。他不是真正的完全人,畢竟他還是有罪的。但相對之家,他是完全人。而這些偉人也好,巨人也好,沒有一個從後來的大洪水存活。只有挪亞,一個尊主為大的人,上帝看為義。他的義,是上帝使他蒙恩。是他順服上帝,知道只有上帝才能施恩。也因此他得以存活。

弟兄姐妹們,世界上再有權有勢,再看為風光的,在上帝眼中都不算什麼。今天的新冠肺炎也讓我們看清楚,再有錢,也不見得能夠免除,不信你去問問英國的總理,或是加拿大總理。但我們唯一可以追求也應當有確認的,是否我們在上帝面前蒙恩。這需要我們不斷到神面前尋求的。

這週是受難週,耶穌來到世上為人上十字架,就是為了要使我們蒙恩,因信靠祂而蒙恩。我們好不好時時刻刻到十字架前,讓聖靈光照,有哪些需要與基督一同釘死的,好教我們也能夠蒙恩,稱為義人。

今天的分享就到這裡,盼望我們能夠每天經歷上帝,每天到神面前認罪悔改,每天都有平安!我們週五見!

April 6, 2020 by Pastor Tony

Dear FCBC family,

As we prepare for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, it is a new experience to do so in the midst of our stay at home orders. As an attempt to work with the situation at hand, we will need to do more of our celebration for these events in our own homes. We can do some thing together through the livestream, but especially for Good Friday, we are asking you to participate in leading it also in your own homes!

First, we encourage individuals and families to read through Jesus’ last week on earth during their devotions this week. If you were to pick the book of Luke as the gospel you want to read through, that would begin in Luke 19 and go through to Luke 24.

Secondly, we will have a livestreamed service this Friday night at 7:30. It will be combined for all 3 languages through our church website.

Thirdly, a few items will help in experiencing this service together. For families, I encourage parents to take the lead also in preparing a few items for the whole family to experience this together:

  1. Juice and crackers to eat and drink when we read about the Last Supper.
  2. Be ready to sit in darkness and silence as we think about the Gethsemane passage
  3. A bowl of water to wash our hands with after reading the passage with Pilate washing his hands after condemning Jesus.
  4. Ready to lead in prayer in confessing sin and thanking God for the cross after the last scene of Jesus’ death on the cross.
  5. Each person/family please have a Bible ready for meditation.

If your family is not present, and you are joining us by yourself with the livestream, then a journal might be helpful as you meditate on the scenes rather than discussing it with those in your family (who may not be Christian).

Blessings and looking forward to join you this upcoming Good Friday and Resurrection
Sunday!

 

April 4, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

Tomorrow—the first Sunday of the month—would normally be the day in which our church commemorates the Lord’s Supper (Communion). And this first Sunday in April is especially significant because it is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week which recalls the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

You may be wondering: “Are we going to have the Lord’s Supper tomorrow? If so, how are we going to do it remotely in our own homes?” There are varying answers to these questions. A number of churches and authors have recently published announcements, articles and videos about Lord’s Supper services online, and they come to opposite conclusions.
As for FCBC Fountain Valley, we will not be having an “online, live-streaming” Lord’s Supper together. And here’s why…

From the biblical text, we do not receive much instruction about the mechanics of the Lord’s Supper. Certainly, today’s Lord’s Supper ceremonies have no resemblance to the original supper on the night Jesus was betrayed—but that doesn’t mean we’re wrong in the way we partake in it. It just means that how it looks and who presides and how the elements are distributed and whether we should share in one common cup are all questions that are more or less unanswered.

But, some things are quite clear from the Scriptures:

  1. We partake as a gathered community of believers (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:20). The common picture in all the biblical passages is of the gathering of the church, whether it was the 12 disciples, or the rapidly-multiplying early church in Jerusalem, or the selfish Corinthian church. The churches always “broke bread” together.
  2. The bread and the wine (“cup”) are representative of Jesus’ body that was broken and His blood that was shed at the Cross (Matthew 26:26-28). As he distributed the bread and the cup, Jesus said: “This is my body” and “This is (the new covenant in) my blood.” Yes, some Christian traditions believe that the bread and cup are more than mere representations, but that’s a discussion for another day.
  3. His broken body and shed blood was for us (“the many”). He willingly died for us and for the forgiveness of our sins (Mark 14:24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:24). Sin has a high price, and the Father paid the price once and for all through His Son.
  4. We partake in the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:26). The emphasis throughout the biblical texts is the attitude of remembering the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. There is very little written about how we are to do a communion service, but there is a great deal written about how we are to think about a communion service, and our attitude with which we come before the elements. 

In light of these teachings from Scripture, here are my applications to an online Lord’s Supper. I believe there are some circumstances under which we can have an online Lord’s Supper, but our live-stream service is not one of them.

  1. Different kinds of “bread” and “cup” are OK. Neither Jesus nor Paul gave any priority to the kind of bread or cup we are to use during the Lord’s Supper. While there is biblical and theological symbolism in both the bread and wine/cup going back to the Pentateuch and Passover, it does not follow that we need to all be sharing from the same loaf or cup, or that we must all be partaking of the same kind of bread or juice. Therefore, I believe we can have a proper online Lord’s Supper even though everyone’s bread and juice are different.
  2. A “Zoom” gathering can still be a church. Although we are certainly missing the personal and literal touch of being together physically, we can still be a “church” even if we are only communicating face-to-face through Zoom. When we pray, worship, study Scripture, uphold, encourage and bless one another—by teleconference—we are functioning as a church (Acts 2:42). With that being the case, I believe it is possible to fulfill the understanding of a gathering and community of believers for the Lord’s Supper while Zooming. An important ingredient here is the ability to fellowship with one another in real time under the guidance of pastoral leadership.
  3. A video live-stream is not a “church gathering.” While live-streaming a worship service is certainly preferable to nothing at all, by itself it is not a gathering of the “church.” There is no mutual, interpersonal two-way fellowship. The pastor in front of the camera cannot see those on the other end of the live-stream. It is a “broad cast,” and where the seeds fall are unknown to the caster. Furthermore, none of the households logged into the broadcast can have fellowship with one another. For these reasons, I believe it is not biblically feasible to live-stream the Lord’s Supper. To rightly administer and ensure the integrity of the Lord’s Supper, I believe a pastor needs to see and be in real-time fellowship with the congregation. Also, there must be a gathered and united Christian community partaking together.
  4. We can still remember Jesus at home. At a time when we are separated from one another and unable to partake in a communion service, we can and ought to be very intentional in remembering our Lord Jesus and the significance of His death on the cross for each of us. May I suggest that you lead your family in a simple time of remembrance at mealtime. Here are some ideas:
    1. Read the relevant Scripture passages (Luke 22:14-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:20-34).
    2. Sing a hymn like “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or “And Can It Be (Amazing Love)”
    3. Pray with thanksgiving and remember why Jesus was crucified: the forgiveness of sins--your sin and mine.
    4. Serve food to one another and wait until everyone is served before eating. Honor one another as we honor the Lord.

And so, though we may not partake in a Lord’s Supper tomorrow, may you be blessed as you regularly and faithfully remember the death of our Lord Jesus. In God’s time, we will return to the church sanctuary, renew face-to-face fellowship and share in the Lord’s Supper once again.


Together in Christ,
Pastor Godfrey

April 1, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

On this "April Fool's Day", I wish we could say that each of these is an April Fool's joke:

  • the Governor's pronouncement today that all schools will be closed for the rest of this school year.
  • the White House's pronouncement that there could be over 200,000 deaths from COVID-19.
  • Church gatherings will continue to be closed for the month of April and potentially into summertime.

These are no jokes, and indeed are reasons for much consternation and appeals to God for His mercy and power to be manifest. Let us pray for His hand to still the pandemic storm and the fears and anxieties of our hearts. Let us look to and focus our eyes on Jesus, not on the wind and the waves of worry.

As we have transitioned to "doing church online", may I ask you: has it been a steep learning curve? There is, of course, the technical aspects to learn. As a pastor, I've learned so much about how to use various tools for online teleconferencing and video recording. But, beyond the technical, there is also the social aspect that must be learned as well. How can you maintain and deepen relationships online? How can you get closer as you practice social distancing? And then, there's the question of worship: can I really worship while watching a person on a screen who's not looking at me and doesn't even know I'm there?! 

Here are a few observations from using Zoom to teleconference and joining a live-stream worship service:

  1. "Audience of One": When we normally gather in groups, it's easy to forget that we're singing to and worshiping only One Person (well...theologically three Persons in One Godhead). Usually, we hear each other singing, and we are inspired to sing out loud also...and maybe even sing for the benefit of the person next to us! But, when we stay-at-home for worship, when our voice may be the only one in the house, the temptation is to not sing because...well, it just feels weird, right? But may I urge you: keep singing, keep lifting up your voice and your hands to the Lord...because our audience in worship singing is really just God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We don't need an audience around us when our Audience is the One True God. He sees your posture and hears your voice; He knows your heart and feels your passion for Him. So glorify your Audience of One, even if you are a Worshiper of One in your home.
  2. Family Worship: Normally, the children and youth (sometimes) are separated from the parents when we gather at church for worship. And it's appropriate and even necessary. But, when we are forced to stay home, we begin to recall Deuteronomy 6, in which the parents (and dads, in particular) in the newly formed nation of Israel were instructed to be the primary teachers and spiritual leaders of their families. Worship was not just a formal gathering at the Tabernacle, but also commanded of parents in one's household. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. So, Moms and Dads, don't be afraid or nervous to lead your family in worship--they want to learn from you, and to understand how to worship God. Parents, you've been trained for such a time as this! You got this!
  3. Sacrificial Listening: In a typical "fellowship" time on the church campus, you might have multiple conversations going on within one larger grouping around a patio table (for example). Those who are seated will be engaged in a couple of conversations, while some others standing around the periphery will be engaged in their own conversations. And, rarely will everyone be listening to one person speak--especially someone you don't know . But, in a Zoom meeting, only one person can be speaking at a time. There can be no "side conversations." And, this is a great challenge for many reasons! (1) The more people in your meeting, the more you must wait your turn to speak. (2) You may not know those who are speaking, and find it hard to care about what they're saying. (3) You don't have the advantage of seeing body language or picking up subtle verbal cues. (4) It is very tempting to just tune out and do something else. For all these reasons and more, it really is a test of patient love and sacrificial listening to continually focus on others for 20-30 minutes. It takes the concept of "active listening" to a whole new level. This is an exercise in Holy Spirit-guided listening. Please remember, you are in this Zoom meeting with others for a reason...and though you may not know the others well, be open to growing a Christian friendship even if only online. So, before you enter a Zoom meeting, pray something like this: "Lord, may your Spirit direct my ears and my heart to hear what others will say in this Zoom meeting. Help me to care and have compassion for each speaker...even those I don't know. Keep my eyes and hands focused, that I might resist the temptation to tune out and do other things online. Help me to be patient as I listen, O Lord. Bind me with others in the unity of the Spirit. In Jesus' name, amen." 

On a lighter note, many of us are looking for good qualify material online for ourselves and our children. I've received some recommendations and heard about some special deals that are going on right now:

  1. Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales) is putting his entire library of high quality material (e.g. "What's in the Bible?" series) for free access for six weeks. (enter promo code FAMILYLIFE and be sure to also enter a credit card...it didn't work until we did, even though they won't charge anything.)
  2. The new animated Pilgrim's Progress by Revelation Media is available online for free. Just need to enter your email address.
  3. Amazon Freetime 3-month Family Subscription is available for almost-free ($0.99). I can't vouch for all of the content, but it's supposed to be a very "kid-friendly" place for kids' books and videos. 
  4. VidAngel is a streaming service with both original and non-original Christian content (e.g. James Dobson's videos). It also offers filtering of Netflix and Amazon Prime videos when you link your subscriptions. All content and filtering services are free at least through April.
  5. Sports fans: NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL are all offering free subscriptions and/or content on their website. Relieve the glory moments from your favorite teams, or watch interesting documentaries (Stacey and I watched one about David Tyree and the "Helmet Catch" in Super Bowl XLII--I highly recommend it, especially because there is no editing of his Christian testimony). 
  6. I'm sure there's plenty more out there that I do not know about. Please let me know if you hear of good stuff to share with others...and I'll post more in future weeks.

So, enjoy good, quality screen time with your family, but also take time out for a walk/bike ride outside, or board games with your family. And of course, pray and read God's Word together. See you online soon!

Together with you in Jesus,
Pastor Godfrey

April 3, 2020 by Pastor Frank

大家都好嗎?雖然每天看著新聞數據,心情越發沈重,但感謝主,我們有祂為我們 的主宰,也是我們的安慰,我們隨時的幫助,是我們的避難所,也是我們的高臺。鼓勵弟 兄姐妹可以減少專注在數據上面,更多來讀神的話語。

今天的分享是從創世記第五章來的。這整章幾乎都是家譜,但在當中我要從28~29 節來思考。做眾多的名字當中,只有兩個名字有多做註解。一個是24節,提到以諾,講 到他如何與神同行,最後上帝將他取去。另一個名字,就是挪亞。挪亞是什麼意思呢?在 希伯來文中,挪亞,他的字根是『休息』,也是『安慰』。這讓我們看到經文所說的:

29給他起名叫挪亞,說:「在耶和華所詛咒的地上,這個兒子必使我們從工作和 手中的勞苦得到安慰。」

人因著犯罪而受到咒詛。人要辛勞工作才能得吃得喝。更不要說,因著人的自我的 分別善惡,導致地的毀滅。我還記得台灣過去只要有颱風來,就會有很大的災害,甚至有 些村莊因此而被滅村,或是需要遷村。後來才發現,原來很多山林因著人的濫砍濫伐,使 得原本應當可以阻擋災害的天然樹木與地形,卻因此失去了作用。因著地受咒詛,人更加 要勞苦,才能得平安。

但是挪亞的名字是『休息』,是『安慰』。這是上帝要給人的恩典。人的勞苦是因 著罪的緣故而造成的,而挪亞一生的乎召,是要預備給人一個救恩,就是當他造了大船, 你願意順服上帝而回轉的,不看自己的,只看上帝的心意的,就能夠得著拯救,因此而從 勞苦的咒詛中得到安慰與休息。

從這次的新冠狀肺炎來想,有很多的討論到底是否是上帝的懲罰,或者是人的一意 孤行而造成的。我想從今天的經文來看,這些的疾病是因為人的犯罪,使得人與地受到咒 詛。當起初上帝說,不可吃分別善惡的果子,因爲吃的那日必定死。今天我們正在承受這 樣的結果。但是從起初挪亞的名字,到最終耶穌的十字架,都在提醒我們一件事,哪就是 上帝要帶來平安與休息,他要帶來安慰。而唯一得著這些的方法,就是回轉歸向神,認罪 ,禱告,從神得著平安與安慰。

所以,好不好讓我們也藉由這個機會,到神面前來,求聖靈的光照,好使我們能夠 認罪,悔改。我們也爲這個土地來禱告,來認罪。我們也爲美國來認罪禱告。求上帝的赦 免,上帝的拯救,上帝的安慰,以及上帝的安息。

March 31, 2020 by Pastor Frank

弟兄姐妹平安!歡迎再次來到每週兩次的牧者分享。今天我們來到創世記第四章。一樣的,如果你還沒有讀過,請先停下來,讀完之後再繼續。

當先祖亞當夏娃犯了罪之後,就被趕出伊甸園。第四章看到,他們生了兩個兒子,一個是該隱,一個是亞伯。當時他們要獻祭給上帝,是感恩,也是贖罪。感謝上帝的恩典,並為人有罪來獻上當作代贖。接下來我們就看到聖經的記載:

5只是看不中該隱和他的供物。該隱就大大地發怒,變了臉色。

6耶和華對該隱說:「你為甚麼發怒呢?你為甚麼變了臉色呢?

7你若行得好,豈不蒙悅納?你若行得不好,罪就伏在門前。它必戀慕你,你卻要制伏它。」

 

我今天不會來談為什麼上帝不喜悅該隱的供物。但我要從該隱的反應以及上帝的回應來思想,到底我們應當如何獻祭。第一,獻祭的對象是上帝,是否蒙喜悅的標準也是神,不是我們。該隱面對他的供物不被接納,第一個反應就是,為什麼不是我?從他的反應,看到他是一個以自己為中心的獻祭。他的對象不是上帝,是自己。弟兄姐妹們,這段時間我們無法去教會聚會。每週我們都有直播的崇拜。但是,老實說,牧師我們看不到你是用什麼樣的狀態來主日。但是,上帝知道。或許這就是一個很好的機會,讓我們來看看到底我們的信仰生活,我們的主日獻祭,如果你看待主日的聚會是一個獻祭的話,我們這實質上的獻祭到底是獻給誰。應當是給上帝,是無論在教會或是在家裡,心態也好,行動也好,都應該是一樣的敬畏,一樣的恭敬,不是嗎?讓我們好好反思過去這幾週的崇拜,是否討神喜悅?也同時間去回顧,過去這幾年你我面對主日崇拜的態度,是否有需要調整。

第二,反省過後需要帶出行動來。上帝告訴該隱,你若行得好,豈不蒙悅納?我們的行為當與悔改的心相稱。該隱知道他不討神喜悅,卻一意孤行的,最終讓他的自己的罪越放越大。但是我們願不願意的正視我們的問題,並帶出改變來?前面提到那是反省。但光是反省還是不夠的。我們願意做出什麼樣的實際調整?面對這個主日,將要來到的,你我願意做出什麼樣的改變,是可以討神喜悅的?

我們教會的AV團隊很努力的,每週直播後馬上檢討,聽取意見,好叫之後的直播可以更完整。馬上做出改變來。我們在敬拜神的事情上,在獻祭的事情上,願不願意做出改變來,好叫我們越來越討神喜悅呢?前幾天主任牧師也發出關於敬拜我們應當有的預備與態度,或許這就是一個很好的起點。

讓我們不要走入該隱的後路,不要繼續的以自己為中心,而是轉向上帝,使我們的生命都是以神為中心的!

 

March 30, 2020 by Pastor Tony

How do we view this coronavirus from a biblical-theological worldview?

In the last post, we looked at how the coronavirus, disease and death are a result of the fall. The fall isn’t limited to the evils in the world, but also include all the evils within the human heart that tries to live life apart from the living God. At the same time, God has created the earth in its original state to flourish, to be fruitful and multiply rather than to die, and is even today sustaining the earth and upholding life and flourishing. However, that is not all that God is doing, He is also doing the work of redemption.

The Redemption – God is involved in the making right all that is wrong and evil. This redemption includes the redemption of creation (Ro 8:20-21), and the reversal of the curse from Genesis 3. But He is also redeeming people. He has provided the ultimate cure for death in all of its from through the resurrection from the dead (though through common grace we can delay death and give better quality of life). But the redemption from sin includes the forgiveness of sins and the transforming of all that is wrong in the world, namely the sin that is at the root of all evil. For us personally, that would include my words, the seeking of my kingdom rather than God’s kingdom, and being aware that I live before the One in whom I ought to fear (Lk 12:4) and seek refuge like the Psalmist (Ps 91:9-10)

  • Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. (Ps 91:9-10)

But that is not all, there are new opportunities for ministry. For some it might mean that we have more time for prayer and reading our Bibles since we cannot meet with others in person for Bible study. For others it might mean doing things with our families such as leading family devotions, praying with a spouse, things that we always wanted to do but never before seemed to quite have enough time for. We may learn to value of our neighbors more, our small groups, our friends – in a way that we want to bless and encourage when we do see them online or across the street. There is always the need for the word of God to be shared in some manner – for like Paul says in 2 Timothy regarding his own quarantine – in jail rather than due to pandemic

  • Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. (2 Tim 2:8-9)

Paul proclaimed God’s word through pen and paper. How might you share the Word of God with others?

So while this theological study may not address this particular epidemic, it helps to put it into the work that God is doing. We do not know what the future has in store, though we are confident in a future glorification. However, in the meantime, we trust that God is still at work, and may even open up new opportunities for ministries of mercy and ministries of the Word. May the Lord make us childlike to God (Ps 131), and helpful to others during this time of quarantine.

Discussion thought: How might you reach out to someone else who might feel isolated or just in need of a friend during this quarantine period? How might we pray for each other or share a Scripture to encourage another person (like how Paul prayed and wrote physical letters to others)?

March 27, 2020 by Pastor Frank

大家早!歡迎你們再次收看今天的牧者分享。我們的影片也開始會上傳在教會的臉書上面,之後等教會的中文網頁更新後,也會放在上面,所以在這裡也歡迎新收看的兄姐,無論是國語堂會,還是廣東堂會,或是英文堂試著學習聽中文的弟兄姐妹!我衷心期盼你能藉著這些分享,思想天上的事,讓我們不再琢磨在眼前無法控制的恐懼害怕,而是緊緊抓住那掌管全部的主。

今天我們要繼續從創世記的經文來分享。不知道你讀過第三章了沒有?如果沒有,邀請你先停下來,讀完之後再繼續。要記得,每一次我們會分享一章,所以請記得要收看前先讀過喔!好了!讓我們來從創世記第三章來領受。

創世記第三章記載了我們的先祖如何受撒但蛇的引誘而犯罪吃了不該吃的果子。之後在第九節到第十節我們看到當人犯罪之後會有的結果。

9耶和華上帝呼喚那人,對他說:「你在哪裏?」

10他說:「我在園中聽見你的聲音,我就害怕;因為我赤身露體,我就藏了起來。」

我們看到,當人吃了分別善惡的果子,犯了罪之後,就與神有的隔離。過去是可以赤身肉體毫無羞恥,但如今卻要躲藏,害怕神,不敢將真實的自己呈現給上帝。上帝知不知道我們是什麼樣的?當然知道!上帝會不會因為我們的不完全,我們的羞恥,而不愛我們?當然不會!但是卻是因為罪在我們當中,我們有了驕傲,自卑,自以為是,自我不成熟的分別善惡,以至於我們對上帝躲躲藏藏。

弟兄姐妹們,我們與神的關係是如何?你願不願意,敢不敢,肯不肯,將自己的真實面坦露在神面前?我跟師母在談論萬一有一天孩子長大了,要交男女朋友,我們的反應是什麼。後來我們就有一個結論,那就是我們不太在乎他們什麼時候交朋友,當然我們希望他們越成熟越好。但是我們會很在乎他們有交朋友卻不告訴我們。那表示他們對我們的不信任,我們會覺得是否我們做了什麼讓他們有畏懼,害怕,不放心分享告訴我們。

我們在天上的父也是如此。他會因為我們的躲藏而難過。他渴望我們與他分享一切,包括我們的軟弱,失敗,擔憂,恐懼,失望,憤怒,不解,我們一切的想法,包括對人甚至對神的。因為當我們真實的坦然到他面前的時候,那是對他的不信。甚至,你可以真實的對他說,上帝,我想要相信你,但我信不足!這都是我們最真實的自己。

罪使我們與神隔絕。但當耶穌死在十字架上,聖殿裡的幔子從上到下一分為二的裂開的時候,我們不再蒙著幔子可以到神面前來,藉著十字架耶穌的死與復活,使我們得以坦然無懼的赤身肉體的到他面前陳述一切我們的所有。

你願不願意,真真實實的到神面前去,不用躲藏,不用假裝,不用帶面具,開始與神建立關係?把你一切的恐懼,擔憂,無助,告訴他?當你看了太多的關於新冠狀肺炎的消息而擔憂時,好不好我們真實到上帝面前來述說。當我們開始這樣做的時候,或許就會發現,上帝早已知道,他也會用各樣人心無法想像的方式,承擔我們一切的真實。

讓我們好好把握這段時間,建立與主的關係,將一切向他述說。

March 27, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

If you've never done--or even heard of--video conferences or live streaming before, don't worry. You will get it soon enough. However, doing church online introduces a host of other issues regarding protocol and etiquette. Here are some guidelines that we're forwarding to you from other Christian leaders.

Glossary of acronyms:

  1. SG = Small group
  2. SGL = Small group leader
  3. PPT = PowerPoint
  4. FB = Facebook

Guidelines for Church Video Conferencing and Live Streaming

A. Small Group Online Meeting Guidelines

  1. Before SG starts, please prepare in advance to minimize distraction during the meeting, for example: take care of your kids, pets, chores, silence cell phones, talk between spouse to decide how to rotate to take care of the kids if needed (rotate each week? Or rotate every 30 min? etc.)
  2. All SG members should turn on their camera so everyone can see each other – to help everyone to focus and not double-tasking.
  3. Please make prior arrangements so you can join the full length of the online gathering.
  4. Join on time, join the online group 5-10 minutes before the starting time, may start to pray for the meeting.
  5. Use phone or other communication, to make sure each SG member knows how to join the online meeting – provide the necessary help in advance.
  6. Send out the outline or material in advance, have everyone read it first. It is also more effective if we make an PPT and share screen to everyone – so everyone can see the discussion question.
  7. Your group may choose to use different way to praise and worship: Reading out loud Bible verses? Praise with prayer? Giving Thanks? Taking turns to mention something you are grateful for? Send out lyrics first, have 1 person lead it? Or share screen Youtube clip. (Note, if Youtube, it’s suggested that you ask others to mute their mic, to avoid slowing down the clip or creating echoes)
  8. During the meeting, do not just talk about the COVID-19 situation or update. We still need to have balanced study and discussion about the Bible.
  9. We do not want to suppress people’s emotion or feeling. It is ok for people to express their emotion, the others also need to learn to listen, show empathy, care & comfort appropriately. Do not cut off others when others are sharing. If certain SG member has a lot more emotional need, SG leader/core can help to show caring outside of the SG time. If needed, can suggest to seek for professional help. Most of the therapist/psychologist still provide telemedicine during the lockdown. If you need any information, please seek help from the Pastoral office.
  10. Avoid making aggressive / overly critical comments toward any specific nation, political leader, or political party. Do not share or post unchecked/unproven news or rumors during the meeting or in your SG chat group. SGL should be a good guardian managing this.
  11. Do not speak for God, for example, something like: “this is a punishment from God!” We should use empathy, positive words, to edify each other.
  12. Do not judge! We do not judge any member who stopped coming before the outbreak got serious, nor we judge anyone who stops showing up online, or anyone who switches to a different group or even a different church during this time, or anyone who will not come back after the disease pandemic is over.
  13. If there’s any need, you may ask the pastoral office to provide information on topics/speaker – to have online seminar to provide useful information for our SG members.

B. Sunday Worship Service Live Stream Viewing

  1. SGL please remind your members the coming Sunday’s church sermon online streaming link & offering methods/website. (fcbcfv.org
  2. Encourage all SG members to still dress up for the online message when it’s broadcasted on Sunday. (rather than finding time at your own convenience during the week)
  3. SG members may go on different church’s website to listen to different messages during the week. However, for unity and continuity of church’s direction & teaching, we still encourage FCBCFV attendees to save Sunday service time slots for FCBCFV’s online message streaming.
  4. We encourage the SG members may turn on 2 different devices, so they can have some bonding time with other SG members on the 2nd device while listening to the sermon with their 1st device. They can listen to the sermon “together” by interacting with each other, as long as it’s not overly distractive.
  5. After the Sunday message streaming, SG members can do a quick online prayer for each other.

C. Small Group Guidelines During the Pandemic

  1. Do not stop gathering! Change physical meeting to online meeting, frequency no less than once per month.
  2. Please do not gather physically or visit each other, all the visitations should be done through Online/Facetime.
  3. You may join multiple SGs one week, joining different SGs / from different congregations – as this is a good opportunity for bonding and church unity. However, please do not judge or gossip anything you hear in other groups if the sharing was more personal. Unless approved by the person who shared it, do not pass the what you heard to others in the church.
  4. We should actively invite newcomers, non-Christians, and those who stopped coming to joining our group. However, do not try to actively invite those are already regularly attending another church.
  5. If you need to sell/purchase essential items during this time, the seller please sell it at cost. If you do not remember the cost, then please see what the major market /website’s listing price for that item (NOT the private sites such as Ebay’s price-gouging standard)
  6. It is still prohibited to promote or advertise your own business. Do not introduce direct-sale business to anyone you met in small group or at church. If your business happens to provide an essential service or product needed by other members, we suggest you to promote on your own FB or social media, and not during the SG gathering. For price, please see guidelines in aforementioned C-6.
  7. If someone has financial need, you should avoid borrowing money to him/her. You may notify the congregation’s Pastors or Deacons of the person’s need, so the church may provide help after reviewing the situation. If you have a heart to donate to any individual in private, please prepare your heart to give unconditionally and do not expect to be paid back. Church will not provide any tax-deductible offering receipt for such donation.
  8. If people want to do group purchase, please confirm the seller and the source is legit. This should be your personal decision, releasing FCBCFV or SGL of any liability.

March 26, 2020 by Pastor Steven

 

Hello FCBC Family,

We are nearing three weeks since we last met. For many of us, we are starting to get used to this new normal, working at home, no school for the kids, not being able to go out and see others.  At the same time this new normal is constantly changing and we're constantly adjusting, as the effects of the Coronavirus are being felt that much more, whether physically as we are tired, financially or emotionally as we worry, as we miss being with others. We face new challenges each day, as we do, a number of passages come to mind and bring me comfort. 

Psalms 46 – "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

1 Peter 5:6-7 - "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.""


As we face these new challenges, I want to take this time to ask you to pray. 

Right now, I ask that you pray specifically for our health care personnel throughout the world, as they are on the front lines, fighting this battle as they work at hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, labs, and so many other places. You know, as we pray for them, they are not only throughout the world, but we have so many right here in our church. All you have to do is think about the deacons, the officers, and the people in your Sunday School classes and fellowship groups and many people will come to mind.  And right now they are working hard to help the sick, many placing themselves at risk, they’re tired, stressed, some are scared, and much more.

As we pray, we pray not only for them, but also for their families, for their husband or wife at home who may be worried, for their children who miss their mommy or daddy or for the parents of these medical personnel as they are worried for their children. We want to pray for them. 

And also as we get updates in the news, we also pray for those right now in New York where the coronavirus has hit the hardest. We pray for Peter and Suan’s son - Jonathan Fung as he is out there, and also Sai and Nancy Wong who were a part of our church and in our Parakaleo small group a number of years ago before moving back to New York.  Sai recently posted on Facebook, just the other day and he wrote “long day. I am not built for this. This is just the first day of taking Covid airway role. I have never dealt with patient death well. All I saw was ventilators, cardiac arrest, and death all around me. The worst is not being able to hug and kiss my wife and children for the next 7 days after each exposure. I am terrified. I am not built for this”, and his wife, Nancy also posts as she is at home taking care of their four children and how their children are processing and working through this as they are worried and miss their daddy. 

I really want to challenge you and encourage you to take time aside to pray for our medical personnel. I am going to pray now, join me.  

Father, we thank you that you are God, seated on your throne, sovereign of all things, even the Coronavirus. Right now, as we thank you for the many medical personnel and their desires to serve You and serve the people of this country, of this world, as they care for these people as they help and place themselves at risk, as they are tired and as they are stressed going through each day. Lord, we ask that You would be their refuge and their strength, that they would be able to run to you at all time and find comfort in you, and they will find strength in you for each day. Lord we ask for you to help them and give them rest, protection, give them a strong faith and trust in You.  We also pray for their families. Lord you will give them peace and comfort in this time and help them as they work through their different challenges and emotions as you would walk with them. That we as a church would come alongside to love and support and encourage and pray for them at this time. Lord help us we need your help. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Again I encourage you as a church, as a part of church to be in prayer for the medical personnel especially those in our church and their families, take time later and pray for them, and after you pray for them, take a moment to send them a message or texts or email or you can call and just to let them know you’re praying for them. This is a great way to encourage and support them in this time. So let’s continue to pray together and look to God together in faith. 

And again, I encourage you to join us this Sunday for our live stream worship service on the English side we will go through Psalm 46, and on Wednesdays to join us for time of prayer. 


Take care and God bless. 

March 26, 2020 by Pastor Tony

How do we view this coronavirus from a biblical-theological world view?

As we encounter what for us is a new and probably once in a lifetime experience of a worldwide epidemic, we find that people including ourselves tend to respond from pole to pole.  Some fear the absolute worst both for our country and for our loved ones. Others have no fear because we are young and healthy, or because we don’t live in ____ (NY, China, etc.) or we can mute our fears with a que sera sera kind of fatalism (unless the virus hits closer to home).  I suspect we are all somewhere along the spectrum of these feelings.

While getting a biblical theological worldview may not solve many of our issues of testing, alleviate all fears, etc, it can help us get oriented to how the Bible views such pestilence and plagues (of which there are numerous references in Scripture).  A simple way to put such disasters is through a biblical grid of God’s creation, man’s fall, God’s redemption and the future glorification. We will examine the first three theological categories which hopefully can get us oriented with our feet on solid biblical footing.

The Fall – this epidemic is a result of the fall (see The Coronavirus is a result of the Fall).  The fall of Adam and Eve into sin resulted in both a curse upon creation itself (Gen 3:17-18) but also the entrance of death and all the intermediate causes of death (Gen 3:19).  So these would include such things as pandemics and disease. But the fall is not isolated to such evils such as the coronavirus, but also the inheritance of our sin nature. This would include our responses to the virus in a godless manner (hoarding, anxiety without God, foolhardy imperviousness – without seeing our dependent creaturely status before God – see Martin Luther article p. 5-6 - https://blogs.lcms.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Plague-blogLW.pdf)

The Creation – God created the earth to flourish, to be fruitful and multiply rather than for death.  He instituted government for our good in His common grace, for the welfare of each nation in the effort against the pandemic, though of course all governments are fallen and imperfect.  God has also given through common grace people who really do want to be helpful – whether Christian or non-Christian – through public health, health care workers, services of mercy throughout the world, some who work in overwhelmingly hard areas.  In the best of humanity, God created all men, believers and unbelievers in His image, to be fruitful and multiply, to seek to grow life. Finally, God in His common grace has preserved people throughout history through good and bad (as someone on FB said – “this too shall pass”) 

Now what would happen if we were to ignore either of these two large theological categories in our thinking about the coronavirus?  If we ignore the fall, then we might think that this world is all there is and we had better just make the best of it. But including the fall in our thinking we know that this is not the way it is supposed to be.  The world is not how it ought to be, death is just wrong, and living apart from any hope is God or the resurrection just leaves us all alone to fight coronavirus and the overwhelming forces of death all by ourselves. 

Discussion thought:  How does the doctrine of the fall help you to grapple with all that is wrong in our world today?  How might you thank God for His common grace found in health care workers, government aid, our families and many other good gifts in the midst of trying times?

March 25, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

Brothers & Sisters,

We are now 14 days into the shutdown (as a church, and as a state). "How long, O Lord...?" If the experiences in China, South Korea and other places are indicators for us, we will probably be shutdown for quite some time. At this moment, we are planning to hold Good Friday and Easter Resurrection Sunday services online.

So, officially, FCBC-FV campus will continue to be closed at least through April 12. As for when we might reopen, we will follow the lead of state and local governments (including school districts). 

Thank you, Lord, we have no cases of COVID-19 reported among our church members. That may change, but for every day without a case, we will give thanks. Worldwide, however, the number of infected people and deaths continue to rise--closing in on 19,000 deaths--and the rate of increase is accelerating.

When will this "curve flatten" and even better begin to decline? "O Lord, you know. Let your power over disease and death be manifest, Lord Jesus, and may people turn from fear to You in faith during this crisis."

Beyond the concern about sickness, there is also the very real fear of joblessness, financial struggles, bankruptcies and even homelessness. "Lord, may you cleanse us of the love of money, and may you provide for what we need--not too much nor too little. Strengthen our faith so that we may be able to pray, 'give us this day our daily bread' and then to trust you for tomorrow's bread."

Stay in touch and let us know how we can be praying specifically for you. And, if you have good ideas worth sharing to the church, please do so! (one option is to post on our Facebook page--see below). 

Love and faith in Jesus,
Pastor Godfrey

 

FCBC-FV is Online!

Facebook (search for "FCBC-FV"):

  1. This is a private group, so request to join.
  2. Use this group to send messages to the rest of the community and to stay updated (the information will mirror that which is on the website).
  3. Please refrain from using it to post complaints or criticisms, or for non-church related topics, activities and causes. Thanks!
Sunday Worship Services:
  1. Go to fcbcfv.org/live (use Google's Chrome browser if possible).
  2. 9:00 Chinese; 10:45 English; 12:30 Vietnamese.
  3. Please note: there is a fairly long delay, so even if we begin the service at 9:00 sharp, to you the service maybe starting a little later. So be patient!
  4. The weekly church bulletin with the sermon notes will also be there
Wednesday Prayer Meetings:
  1. Go to fcbcfv.org/live 
  2. 10:00 am Mandarin & English; 7:30 pm English
  3. You can send updates and thanksgivings in real-time during the meetings on the chat board that is next to the video window.
  4. The printed prayer bulletin will NOT be there; please email request to Dian.
Electronic Giving
  1. Church website: fcbcfv.org and click on "Give" at the top. 
  2. ChurchCenter app: select FCBCFV, then "Give"
  3. Text to 84321

March 24, 2020 by Pastor Frank

各位弟兄姐妹,大家都好嗎?週日我用創世記第一章來分享信息,我就想,接下來我們就藉著每週兩次的牧者分享延續創世記的領受。所以我期盼,鼓勵你,在聽到視頻之前,先讀過經文。每一次就是一章,我會從當次的章節裡來分享一兩節我自己的領受。再次提醒大家,我會每週二,五用視頻的方式與大家分享,所以請大家能在之前就把相對應的經文先讀過。

今天我們要來分享創世記第二章牧師在當中所領受到的感想。我想這段經文大家應該多少有所熟悉。不過當我再次讀過的時候,第二章第九節再次提醒我,我也想用這段荊節來與你們分享。

第九節說道,『耶穌華上帝使各樣的樹從地裏長出來,可以悅人眼目,其上的果子好作食物。園子裡又有生命樹和分別善惡樹。』這裡提到,園中的果子都是『悅人眼目』的。但是不是每個悅人眼目的果子都可以吃,因為當中有分別善惡樹的果子。我們常常在做決定,而往往吸引我們的抉擇,都是悅人眼目的。不是說悅人眼目的決定就是錯的,或是不應該的。畢竟上帝讓人吃的,都是美的,是好的。但不是所有『悅人眼目』的事情就是可吃的。重點不是在是否悅人眼目,而是在上帝的話語與心意。

今天我們是否對上帝的話語夠熟悉?我們是否對上帝心意夠清楚?我們是否與神的關係足夠,好使我們能知道上帝的旨意?我很喜歡用這樣的比喻。我們接到電話,是一通沒有Caller ID的電話。如果這是你的另一半打來,我想我們都會馬上的認出來。可是如果打來的人我們不熟悉,相對的我們也很難認出來他是誰。我之前在牧會的時候就有一個會友常打給我。他都不會先說他是誰,只會說,牧師啊!一開始我認不出來,講久了才想起來,喔,原來是某某某。但是第二次,第三次,只要他一開口說『牧師啊!』我就馬上認出來是誰了。

今天我們是否認得出上帝的聲音與旨意?我們是否與他的關係夠熟悉?當我們在做決定的時候,都很悅人耳目,或是有一個是比較悅人的,另一個比較不是那麼好看的或是嚮往的,我們決定的準則是什麼?是否只是在我們的眼目,還是在上帝的話語?

大家都有看到政府公告關於Safer At Home什麼能做,什麼不能做的廣告或是公告嗎?上面列了很多的什麼是可以做的東西,我們是否可以多加一項,就是好好的與上帝親近?過去我們可以有很多的藉口,上班好累,沒有時間。但如今,我們有什麼樣的藉口不讀經不禱告的?或許這也是好好檢視我們與上帝的關係。或許,這也是上帝要藉著這樣的危機,在你生命中化為轉機的時刻!

讓我們更多的倚靠神,經歷他,建立關係。不再是以『悅人耳目』作為我們的準則,而是以上帝的心意成為我們的選擇。

 

March 20, 2020 by Pastor Frank

幾年前跟我之前服事的教會租借的白人教會邀請了非洲兒童合唱團來作音樂見證分享,我們有幸去參加他們的音樂會。跟我們一起去的人都很感動,很被他們的笑容,音樂感染。老實說,這些孩子都是從很貧窮的非洲地區來的,但是他們的表演,他們的分享,讓我們感受不到他們的現實情況。隔天早上,他們來到教會整理東西,我在停車場碰到幾個小孩,他們一看到我就用大大的笑容看著我,然後張開他們的雙手跑來跟我擁抱,霎時我就被融化了!我就在想,到底他們的喜樂是從哪裡來的?

路加福音12:22~34節耶穌告訴我們,不要憂慮。這是一句很容易講的話。不要憂慮。可是事實上,卻也是很難做到的一個鼓勵。到底耶穌是什麼意思呢?尤其是面對現在的情況,我們不免會擔憂,不知道病毒何時會結束,食物夠不夠,我們的工作被影響沒有收入生活怎麼辦,孩子在家裡我們快受不了該怎麼辦,我們會不會被感染。這些都是很實際的情況。但是耶穌卻說,不要憂慮!

我想從幾個方面來鼓勵大家與提醒大家。首先,耶穌所教導的不要憂慮,不是要我們不在乎,或是什麼都不做。沒有食物,要不要買?當然要!我們也可以用各樣方式找網網路上的外賣或是外送服務。這裡說的不要憂慮,更多是不因為在乎,或是過度的在乎,而產生憂慮,使我們睡不好,整天提心吊膽什麼都做不了。為什麼不要過度憂慮?因為你的憂慮,並無法使情況改變。我們必須明白一件事,就是人是很有限的!我們擔憂,是因為許多事情已經超出我們的掌控了!所以我們沒有安全感,我們沒有把握。但是,正是因為我們有限制,所以路加福音更進一步告訴我們,當要倚靠主!

所以,不要憂慮,也是更提醒我們要尋求主。耶穌吩咐我們不要憂慮吃甚麼,喝什麼,穿什麼,因為上帝已經知道了!他使野地的花漂亮,使空中的鳥有得吃,他豈不更看顧他所愛的孩子嗎?所以要先求祂的國,和祂的義,這一切就加添給你們了!

上帝如何加添給我們?或許,是當我們轉眼仰望上帝時,上帝就把祂預備好的出路讓我們看見。上帝早就預備好,只是我們一直專注在自己身上,自己的方法,不住的憂慮。其實,上帝早要告訴我們該怎麼做,只是我們不願意聽。當我們轉眼的時候,就看到,就聽到了。

又或許,其實我們只是自己嚇自己,心中沒有了平安。當我們轉眼倚靠主,承認自己的不足,看到自己的有限。當我們轉眼的時候,才把自己抓住的重擔放下,頓時我們輕鬆了,就不再過度憂慮了。

又或者,其實我們的擔憂是不必要的。我們擔心不夠,其實是足夠的,只是我們一直陷在·不足夠的想法裡。只有當我們從自己眼光轉移,才發現其實我們有的很夠!

有一次,我因著某些我無法掌握的事情很憂慮。整個晚上提不起勁來,也吃不好,也什麼都不想做,很是煩躁。一直找事情做試著去轉移注意力,卻還是腦中想著我無法解決的事。後來想到,不如交托吧!就開始禱告,把我真實的感受想法擔憂大聲在家裡禱告。禱告禱告後,忽然有一首歌進入我的心中,我就開始唱出來。

『我的心哪,你為何憂悶,為何在我裏面煩躁?

我的心哪,當仰望神,他用笑臉幫助我們!

他用笑臉幫助我們,他用笑臉幫助我們,他用笑臉幫助我們,

是我的力量是我的神!』

 

當我唱完之後,頓時烏雲消散大半,心裏的重擔馬上放下。上帝用很奇妙的方式解決了我的憂慮!

 

弟兄姐妹們!外在的情況可能不會馬上改變。但我們可以改變的是我們的態度以及我們的心情!讓我們藉著這個機會,更多向上帝禱告!過去我們總覺得自己能隻手遮天,可以靠自己成就很多。可是當我們被迫留在家裡,發現自己的無助,開始很是擔憂。讓我們記得到神面前來,因為他要幫助我們,他要用笑臉幫助我們!

你多久沒有來跟上帝好好說話了?你多久沒有好好的告訴他你的心情了?讓我們學習交託仰望,將我們的真實的擔心向他述說。你就會開始經歷,上帝如何用笑臉幫助我們!

March 19, 2020 by Pastor Steven

 

Hi FCBC Family,

I hope you are doing well and staying safe in this time. I really missed seeing all of you and the time we have to come together as a church family, the time we have to talk together and hear how you are doing and what God’s teaching you, the time we have to pray together, to fellowship, to learn together at Sunday school and worship together, and even time afterwards just to eat and just to watch the kids play.

We are nearing two full weeks where we have been unable to meet together, and it looks like it will be many more before we able to come together again, but even though we can’t be together, I thank God that we have technology and just many different ways that we can keep in contact during this time that we are apart. We are in the midst of a time of great uncertainty, throughout the whole world and just for us as individuals, and it's during these times where our frailtiy, our weakness is so obvious and evident and we see how little we have control over things. At the same time, as Christians we are also reminded of how we can take comfort in knowing that God is in control and He cares for us, although we don’t understand why He's doing what He's doing all the time, we know that we can cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. We know God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble, but even knowing all that, it is still scary. And during these times we experience so many different emotions, anxiety and fear because there is so much unknown. There’s concern for our health and the health of our loved ones. We experienced different financial pressures, and just different frustrations and stresses of having our lives as we know it turned completely upside down. 

As you go through this, we deal with it many different ways. For some of us, we want to do something to regain some of the control that we've lost. Some of us, we make sure we have enough food and supplies, for others, we constantly wash our hands and sanitize, we distance ourselves from others, for some of us, we are constantly checking the news for the latest information. Some of us, we don’t want to control or think about any of this, we just want to escape reality. We watch movies and TVs, we go play games or go online or just dive into our hobbies.

You know all these different responses are not necessarily wrong, in fact many of these things we are doing are really good and important to do. But at the same time, as Christians, we understand that our comfort, our refuge and security is found not in what supplies we have or what we can do to slow down the spread the disease or what we know as far as the latest news or even our ability to escape reality.  Our comfort and refuge is found in knowing we know God and God is our Heavenly Father and He cares for us. He is our refuge, our strength, He demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were sinners, He sent His son to die in our place. And we can rejoice always even time like this, we know that God is near. 

He calls us to pray with thanksgiving and He hears our prayers, and He gives us peace that surpasses all comprehension, that this peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I want to take this opportunity to encourage all of us to humble ourselves before God and cast all our cares on Him, to pray to the one who is sovereign over all, our creator.  Whatever is troubling you, whatever you’re worry about, we can cast those before God.

I want to take a moment and pray.

God helps us in this time, we are weak, we are frail, we have little that we are actually really in control of. Lord, help us to go to you, our creator, our God who is in control of all things, and help us to trust in you, to look to you for help, and all these different things that we are facing, with our health, with our finances, with taking care of family, with all these different things, Lord we entrust our lives to you, and lives of our loved ones, knowing that you will take care of them. We pray for all the medical workers as they care and help the sick, especially many who are part of our church. We pray for our government, that you would give them wisdom that they will make the best decisions for the people in this time. We pray for us as a church, that we will continue to look for ways to encourage each other to love in good deeds, even though we can’t come together as a body of Christ, so Lord help us, we need your help, we thank you, and we pray in Jesus name. Amen. 

Well, I miss all of you, I look forward the next time when we are able to come together, and I really look for to that. I encourage all of you to join us this Sunday for our livestream, go check out the church website for more information. Take care. Stay safe. God blessed. Peace.

March 18, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

Brothers & Sisters,

As we transition more of our ministries online, here's a quick overview as of today.

Sunday Worship Services:

  1. Go to fcbcfv.org/live (use Google's Chrome browser if possible).
  2. 9:00 Chinese; 10:45 English; 12:30 Vietnamese.
  3. The weekly church bulletin with the sermon notes will also be there
Wednesday Prayer Meetings:
  1. Go to fcbcfv.org/live 
  2. 10:00 am Mandarin & English; 7:30 pm English
  3. You can send updates and thanksgivings in real-time during the meetings to the phone numbers or email addresses that will be posted.
  4. The printed prayer bulletin will NOT be there; please email request to Dian.
Offerings
We understand that some people may have lost income and business as the pandemic has devastated the economy. And, if that is the case, please let us know how we as a church can help you. We are committed to praying for our members in need, and supplying tangible support.

Some people have asked about how to give tithes and offerings. Here are several options.
  1. Send a paper check to the church office directly. 
  2. Automatic "bill pay" through your bank's checking account. 
  3. Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or credit/debit cards: We now offer the option to give electronically. Please rest assured that the system is secure and payments are processed through Stripe, which handles e-payments for many of the largest corporations and non-profits in the country. Here are several ways to use this system (and they are all very user-friendly!)
  • Church website: fcbcfv.org and click on "Give" at the top. You can set up to give automatically.
  • ChurchCenter app: download from Android or Apple store, and select our church: fcbcfv. Again, you can set up to give automatically on a regular basis.
  • Text to 84321. The first time you do this, you'll need to link to (or setup) your ChurchCenter account. 
Much love to you all,
Pastor Godfrey

March 17, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey
Brothers and sister in Christ,

Just when we thought the restrictions could not get any worse, Orange County's health officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, has now banned all gatherings, public or private, of any size anywhere in the county, except for those who serve "essential functions"--of which church worshipers and workers are not considered to be. (But we know our essentiality comes through Jesus Christ)

While this does not add any additional restrictions to our church services or meetings--we've already suspended all meetings on campus--it does impose additional restrictions on any social gatherings you might have been planning at home or out in public. Also, we pastors and Dian will no longer be on campus during working hours.

Furthermore, we are now prohibited from gathering on campus to live-stream our prayer meetings and worship services. Nevertheless, we still want to gather online to pray together with you.

For tomorrow's prayer meetings, we are still planning to live-stream them, but from our homes instead of the church. Thanks AGAIN to our IT professionals who have quickly set up our system to make this possible.
10:00am English and Mandarin only--no Cantonese interpretation will be available
7:30pm English only.
Please pick one of the meetings and join in with your family. In normal times, a few dozen people regularly gathered in each prayer meeting on campus. But in these perilous times, may God bring many more--hundreds more!--of us together tomorrow to pray God's peace, favor and blessings.

Stay tuned for more info to come...things are changing by the minute. But, the more things change, the more Jesus Christ stays the same. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

May your faith be bolder, your hope stronger, your love closer, your peace deeper and your joy fuller as you seek and find the Lord in the midst of these strange and uncertain days. May God protect you and your loved ones not only from the SARS-CoV-2 but also from fear, worry and anxieties. May others see Christ in you, the Hope of Glory...through your witness on Facebook, Instagram, Facetime, Hangouts, text messaging, emails, phone calls, etc.

I miss you, love you in Christ, and am praying for you all.

Pastor Godfrey

March 16, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey
Brothers and sisters in Christ,

I hope you were able to get online and worship together with us yesterday. I was so blessed to hear that there were old friends worshiping with us from out of state, even as far away as the East Coast! Welcome back, friends! (BTW, it's recommended that you use Google Chrome as your web browser to view the live stream)

Although it's only been four days, we miss seeing you, worshiping with you and having fellowship in Christ with you. Please know that we care and are praying for you, and we look forward to the day when these restrictions will be lifted. Meanwhile, please make the most of the time at home...getting projects done, reading those books that have been piling up, and, most importantly, spending quality and spiritually-enriching time with family.

The latest recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is for all group gatherings larger than 50 people to be canceled for eight weeks. We will be discussing what this means for us as a church, and will let you know shortly. As of now, we are still closed for all group meetings and worship services on campus for the rest of March (through 3/31).

You may have many questions and concerns: your children's education at home and who will watch them; your jobs and businesses and whether there will be layoffs; your savings--watching the stock market crash over the past two weeks has been unnerving. And then there is also your health: how can you avoid infection? What can be done medically if someone does get sick? And finally, there's this big one: When will Costco get more toilet paper and disinfecting wipes?!

We will be praying for these things and more. Please let Dian know how we can pray for one another in our prayer meetings. Speaking of prayer meetings, may be wondering about prayer meetings or Sunday Schools online. Here's what we are making available for the next two weeks (at least):



Prayer Meetings
When: We will live-stream our prayer meetings on Wednesday at 10:00 am and 7:30 pm (usual times). Plan for about one hour each.

How to join: You can watch the live stream the same way as you did yesterday, through a link on the front page of our website: fcbcfv.org

Language: For those who speak Chinese-only (Mandarin or Cantonese), we recommend that you join us in the morning meeting, as interpretation will be provided. For those who can understand English, feel free to join either meeting.

Open Sharing: Because it is a live-stream (not a teleconference) there is no way for us to see you or for you to see each other. It will essentially be a live broadcast with us four pastors leading all of you in prayer and thanksgiving. However, we still want to hear from you, so we will provide you with our email and phone numbers so you can send in your thanksgivings, updates or special requests, and we'll announce them over the live-stream.

Bulletin: To receive a copy of the bulletin, please email your request to Auntie Dian at the office. No need to write anything; just indicate "Please send prayer bulletin" in the subject line.



Sunday Schools and Small Groups/Fellowship Meetings:
Your teachers, leaders or sponsors will contact you with options to get together either:
  1. Online via teleconferencing options like Hangouts or Zoom.
  2. Or, they may provide you with pre-recorded videos..
  3. Or, they may suggest small group gatherings outside somewhere.  




Children's Sunday School and Worship:
Lifeway, the publishing organization of the Southern Baptist Churches, is making their DigitalPass membership for Lifeway Kids at Home curriculum free for the next two months (for grades 1-6). Every week on Thursday at midnight, they will make a new lesson available.

We checked it out and it looks like a great resource. There are interesting videos and handouts to print, along with lesson plans for parents. There's also an app (both iOS and Android) for your phone or tablet that contains Bible stories, puzzles and games. We downloaded the app a few years ago and Shane loved it.

Here's how to sign up and access the lessons.

Step 1: Go to digitalpass.lifeway.com (and bookmark this as this will be your main portal).
Step 2: Click on "Redeem your digital pass"
Step 3: Login, or if this is your first time, setup an account.
Step 4: Enter redemption code: VZMD4SSQ38
Step 5: Click "Access" (if prompted to sign in again, sign in) and then click "My Dashboard," and go to "LifeWay Kids at Home."

After setting up an account and redeeming the code, you will NOT need to redeem it again. In future weeks, just return to the portal webpage and sign in. 
 





AWANA
We don't want the kids to miss out on opportunities to continue working through their handbooks, memorizing their Bible verses and earning their awards.

So, when your children are ready to recite, they can call or Facetime with their leaders to recite their verses and get their sections virtually signed off! We will find a way to get awards to them (either in person or by mail!). And, of course, we as leaders want to stay in touch to encourage and pray with them too!

Though we are a temporarily scattered church, may each of you find comfort and peace in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at this time. And, again, thanks to modern technology, may your times of fellowship online be as genuine and encouraging as they would be face-to-face.

In the name of the One who is always and everywhere, Jesus Christ our Lord,
Pastor Godfrey



Hebrews 10:24–25  ...and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Psalm 56:3–4 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
 

March 13, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

Brothers, sisters and friends of FCBC-FV,

How things change in a matter of days. Since the last email you received from me, circumstances have drastically altered. Universities are sending students home to take their classes online, the NBA, NHL and NCAA have suspended their sports seasons, Disneyland is closing its gates on Saturday, and state government has forbid all gatherings of large groups. 

Officially, the number of confirmed cases is still low in Orange County, but that is likely due to the fact that test kits are in short supply. If and when large-scale testing begins, it is very likely the numbers will jump. Moreover, every contact made between individuals increases the likelihood that the virus spreads through the population.

In light of all this, your pastors and deacons have made the sober and what we believe to be the most-wise decision to cancel all meetings, small groups, classes, activities and worship services on campus through the month of March. This is obviously not what we want or prefer. We would much rather see you this weekend to worship and serve together, to lift up the name of Jesus, to proclaim the Gospel, to enjoy table fellowship, and to extend a warm greeting in hugs, high-fives or handshakes. Alas, the current situation conspires against that.

So, beginning today (Friday), there will be no meetings on campus: NO Grace Fellowship (seniors), AWANA, AOK, ROCK, Cantonese, Mandarin or English fellowship meetings.

Thanks to modern technology, we can still be in fellowship. Hebrews 10:24–25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

I urge every fellowship sponsor, group leader or host to put into action the Four C's of Evangelism and Discipleship: Count, Contact, Care, Consistently. Take the time to go through your roster and extend virtual arms of love to your members over the phone or the internet. Pray, sing, study God's Word and give thanks together. Encourage and support one another in Christ. Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Look for a future email with information about different options for hosting web-based meetings. And, just because we are not meeting in large groups on campus, you might consider still meeting up in small groups at the park or the beach, while maintaining "social distance." Of course, please use discretion in all face-to-face meetings, no matter where you are.

This Sunday, we will attempt to provide a live streaming (i.e. real-time via internet) worship service at the usual times. You will receive instructions later today or tomorrow about how to view these services on your computer.
 

Sorry, we have no provisions at this time for children's worship, but we'll see what we can do moving forward to facilitate all-family worship at home.
 
  • Those who are involved in the worship service (musicians, technical, A/V, pastors)...you will be receiving separate instructions.
  • Ushers...though there are no people to usher, your presence is welcome but not necessary.
  • Lunch will still be served, believe it or not, thanks to sister Lily and her team who were prepping it today. For those of you who live close to campus, feel free to stop by and pick up some lunch...they will be in to-go boxes!
As I've tried to wrap my mind around all that's happened in the last 24 hours, the words of Mordecai keep ringing over and over: "For such a time as this." While the historical context was completely different, I keep thinking about how God (who is never mentioned in the book of Esther) had orchestrated circumstances so that Mordecai and and Esther would be in position for God to perform His mighty work to save His people. And I eagerly await to see how God will use us, His Church, to bring about hope, faith and salvation through such a time as this.

1 Corinthians 13:7 ...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Together for His Name and His Fame,
Pastor Godfrey

 

 

March 10, 2020 by Pastor Godfrey

Brothers, sisters and friends of FCBC-FV,
We have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Orange County, and responding appropriately and as necessary.

According to the OC Public Health Care Agency, there is no outbreak of COVID-19 at this time. While the situation is fluid and our response may change, here's what we advise today, per CDC recommendations.

本會十分關注新冠狀肺炎病毒在橙縣的情況, 在適當時候會作出相關的應對
暫時仍未有病情爆發危機, 但對未來發展, 我們會更進應對情況.
以下是我們跟根據CDC建議而發出的忠告:

Please stay home for at least two-weeks and contact your healthcare provider if you...

  1. Have cold or flu symptoms (fever, aches, chills, cough, weakness, shortness of breath).
  2. Have been exposed to someone with symptoms.
  3. Have traveled overseas, or been on a cruise ship.
  4. Are part of a community with a known case of COVID-19.
  5. Have pre-existing conditions or compromised immune system

如有以下情況, 請留在家中兩週並尋找醫療服務:

  1. 有感冒症狀 (發燒, 肌肉痛, 發冷, 咳嗽, 氣促)
  2. 曾接觸有病徵的人
  3. 曾往外地旅遊, 坐遊輪
  4. 在有新冠狀肺炎病毒的社區
  5. 已有健康問題, 抵抗力不足

Please do your best to prevent spreading or getting an infection:

  1. Wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently
  2. Avoid handshakes and touching your face
  3. Sneeze or cough into tissue, clothing or elbow
  4. Disinfect ("Clorox wipe") frequently touched surfaces: doorknobs, handles, etc.
  5. Wear mask if recommended by healthcare professional

請盡量防止散播或受到感染:

  1. 經常洗手或用消毒液
  2. 避免握手及觸摸臉孔
  3. 打噴嚏時用紙巾, 衣服或手肘
  4. 用消毒抹紙來擦桌面, 門柄, 手柄等
  5. 如醫務人員建議戴口罩, 請依從

The church will:

  1. Continue to hold regularly scheduled meetings and services, for now
  2. Have online live streaming of our worship services for those who stay home
  3. Maintain a clean facility, and station hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes around the campus.
  4. Continue to pray, and worship Him who is sovereign over all things.

教會措施:

  1. 現時繼續舉行經常聚會及崇拜
  2. 留在家中的可以觀看崇拜直播
  3. 在不同地方放置清潔手液和消毒抹紙..以保持場地清潔.
  4. 繼續禱告和敬拜, 祂掌管一切

Let us continue to trust in God and have His peace during these troubling times.