Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Welcome Back! ... Though you have never left my heart.

"Wherever you are it is your own friends who make your world." (William James)

Shhhhh... come closer.  Let me tell you a secret. I am most selfish pastor that I know of. Selfish because I would fight anyone tooth 'n nail if they were to take over my pastorate. That's because I don't know of any other pastorate where God sends you a continuous stream of young people who are keen on learning Scripture, full of life and hope, inspired to discover and develop their spiritual gifts, and are unleashed into the world to become impact players for Christ.
We have recently been inviting back alumni from various years to share about how God has taken and transform their lives from their university days to where they are today - to tell of how God has used them and challenged them.  It has been a rich and fulfilling blessing to be part of their journey. And I selfishly am proud to know each of these former students.
Though we cannot possibly invite everyone back to share their testimony (if we ever did, it would make CCF sharing night like a sketch in comparison and this would be more like a Russian novel), I would love to hear from any one of you who have passed through our doors. With communication means at everyone's fingertips, it would not take much effort for anyone to send me an update as to what God has done in your life. I look forward to hearing from you.
In exchange, I will be posting more frequently and keeping everyone abreast of what is happening personally and corporately here in this small corner of the world.

In His service,

Friday, January 3, 2014

Another Year is Dawning

As I grow older I cannot help but reflect back on the past. (This is one of the signs that you are getting older because you keep on talking about the "good ole' days")  Of the many constants at New Year's (including Mrs. Kaan's chicken congee, a church prayer vigil and prayer meeting, and very cold weather) was the singing of one of the few and great hymns of consecration. Written by Frances Ridley Havergal, (1836–1879) in 1874, "Another Year is Dawning" is one of the finest New Year's hymns ever written (actually it is the only New Year's hymn that I know of). A reminder of what lies ahead and what I should expect of this coming new year.  May you find the same reflective meaning as I do in the words. The lyrics are as follows:

1. Another year is dawning;
Dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee;
Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

2. Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning
Upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest.

3. Another year of service,
Of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training
For holier work above.
Another year is dawning:
Dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven,
Another year for Thee.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Perpetual Season of Change

As I replace all the sunshades in my vehicles with snow brushes to scrap the fallen leaves and frost from the cars in the morning, I realize that one of life's relentless realities is that we all face ongoing changes - changes in relationships, in living arrangements, in our work, at play, our physical bodies, our spiritual life, and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes, I do wish that I could find that perfect Groundhog Day and re-live that day over and over again (perhaps tweaking it just a little bit here and there). And for those of you too young to remember Groundhog Day, here is a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_(film)

We just had an Australian family come to visit us for a week, having not seen them for a decade, and it was wonderful to recall and reflect on all those memories that we had treasured within our hearts - memories built on a year-long mission project with their home church in Adelaide.  They were joyous and glorious memories and experiences that we shared.  In some ways, as we laughed until we cried telling stories after stories, i believe that we wished we could do it all over again.

But the reality is that we cannot and the fact remains that those cherished memories are the result of two main factors: 1. We embraced change.  Change is inevitable and a constant in our life and the sooner we come to grips with it, the accepting we become of change.  2.  As we embrace change, we learn to step out in faith and place our trust in God. As perfect as our Groundhog Day may be, it is still pale in comparison to what our final destination has to offer.  As much as we want to stop and smell the roses, we must not forget that we are ultimately going to meet the gardener.

“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Certainly at Simply Church we are undergoing some growing pains and are facing some changes and challenges ahead. Our current facility at St. Paul's is getting a little tight - just like my pants.  Our tent-making model is being revamped so that I would become a full-time pastor. This requires that we move from a church-plant to a fully independent church. Of course this will impact my computer business as I remove myself from the daily operation of the company by hiring more staff and implementing more structure to replace my role.  Pastor Lew Worrad will be taking on more teaching and preaching responsibilities in the interim in order to help us through this migration and growth period and we are thankful for his help.  As well, we are helping Pastor Lew establish a living legacy of his teaching and preaching material - much of which we will be posting online and possibly publishing in the near future.  I am certainly, to be frank and honest, fearful and intimidated by what lies ahead. But on the other hand, the possibilities of what may lie ahead excites me greatly. And I hope that you will join with me and the Simply Church family and be part of this great journey.
For His Glory,

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Parents and Children

From my friend Stephen Chu and his daughter's show and tell presentation.

Show & Tell:
Photograph of Me and Daddy

This is a photograph of me and my dad. It was taken way back when I was only two years old. My dad has been one of the greatest impacts on my life. Ever since I was little he always taught me to be an obedient little girl and often reminded me of who I am and whose daughter I belong to. I am my Father's daughter. I've made a handful of mistakes in my life already, and some of them I will remember for the rest of my life because of what my dad did to teach me right from wrong.

When I was in third grade, I got in trouble with two other friends for taking the victim's pencil case and hiding it somewhere in the school. I wasn't the one who came up with the idea, I just laughed and thought what my friends did was funny; however, when the principal found out, she called all three of us into her office and scolded us. I felt useless. None of us considered what we did as stealing, but the principal did. When I got home, the first thing I heard was my dad asking me how my day was. Thankfully, the principal didn't call my parents to tell them what happened, so that was probably why my dad didn't seem upset or anything. So I answered my dad, “It was fine.” My dad is such a smart man. He could tell that something wasn't right by the tone of my voice, so he asked me again, “How was your day?”, and for the second time, I hid my wrongdoings and said the exact same thing. My dad simply nodded and went back to his reading while I went in my room and quietly shut the door.

I couldn't believe what my dad did, as if he didn't care at all. I sat in my room with silence just thinking about the tiring school day, and decided that I needed to tell someone about this. A few moments later, I broke the quietness of my room, opened the door and slowly walked to where my dad was. I hesitated for a while, but I went on telling him what happened at school that day anyways. My dad wasn't mad at what I did; however, he punished me in a very odd way. Instead of lecturing me or beating me with a belt, like other parents do to make kids obey, my dad got his belt out, wrapped it around one hand and started to hit his other hand. I was wondering why he didn't hit my hands, and before I started to weep, he asked if I knew what he was doing. I shook my head and faced the floor. My dad looked at me and said, “You are my daughter, you are God's daughter, I am your father, God is our father, we do not steal, we do not take what belongs to others. You should have known better, but it was my responsibility to teach you that, and I didn't do a good job, so do you understand why I'm hitting my own hand?” Without a word, I silently nodded and wept. I gave my dad a hug and told him how sorry I was and it was one of those memories I know I will never forget, because I really learnt something that day.

My dad is an excellent teacher, he's really good with explaining things. Whenever I don't understand certain things—whether it's about homework, life or even Christianity—my dad is really good at explaining them to me. Once, when I was in grade seven, I was cyber bullied by a group of my “friends” because I'm a pastor's kid and I wasn't allowed to do many of the things my friends did. Anyways, I felt extremely horrible, betrayed and hated. I honestly did not understand why my friends would suddenly ignore me and tease me gossip behind my back on the internet. This happened throughout most of my grade seven school year, it became a habit for them to continue making things up and for me to accept it.

As soon as I got off of school, I would get home as soon as possible and run to my room and have my quiet space and just think, reflect and sometimes if the day got too rough, I would cry until my mom gets home from work and she would hug me tightly and tell me everything was going to be fine. Although I'm pretty tight with my mom, I always felt like I have a special connection with my dad, different from the way my mom and I get along. I don't know why, but whenever I get into terrible situations like such, I would go to my dad for advice first. The love of a father is great, but the love of a Father in Heaven is the greatest. Full of knowledge, my dad explained to me that innocent people suffer too, like Jesus. He died on the cross to save us, but before that, he was crucified and teased at, and people lied about him. My dad kept reminding me that when I feel useless and hopeless, Jesus had suffered even more, and because Jesus suffered for us, we have forgiveness. I never forgot about this and I hope I will never forget, because this was another great lesson I learned from my dad. After the advices and reminders my dad gave me, I slowly and painfully learned to forgive those who betrayed me, let go of what lies in the past and renewed the friendship with that group of friends and till this day we are closer than ever! Years passed by, as I grew older, my dad always told me how proud he is of me, from being a bully at school to being bullied online to knowing what it means to forgive others.

My dad also taught me that life is just a short period of time compared to eternity in Heaven. Back home, I usually have a lot of questions about faith and Christianity, so I would constantly ask my dad questions like: where do people really go after they die? Or why people such hypocrites? Sometimes my dad would answer me with a question, and sometimes he would literally explain it to me.

This photograph really brings back a lot of the lessons my dad taught me and his love for me. My dad is truly one of the greatest inspiration and role-model to me, he's taught me right from wrong and constantly reminded me of forgiveness and that there's something so much better lying ahead of my life. He's been there for me through thick and thin, and I love my dad so much. But the one that I should really thank is Jesus, if He didn't die on the cross to save our sins, there would never be forgiveness.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas is a time...

How would you finish that sentence? For me, I would have to say that Christmas is a time to get really sick. Traditionally, or I should say routinely, I would spend the beter part of Dec. 25th onwards extremely sick. The reason? Well I could attribute it to many factors - the change in weather; the increased number of people whom I would see and shakes hands with or some sort of physical contact; the increased workload above and beyond the normal pastoral duties (Christmas pageant, Christmas banquet, late night carolling, Board reports, annual reports, finance reports, year end reports, etc); many late nights or all nighters due to said workload; decreased in the body's immune system because of said activities; increased stress levels due to said activities; invitations to many Christmas meals near and far; and finally the body just crashing once all said activities are over.

I just watched the Christmas episode of Duck Dynasty and laughed at how Miss Kay had everyone in the family running ragged to get Christmas and all its elements just perfect (especially when she and Pa went hunting for the perfect Christmas tree). And yes I do like watching Duck Dynasty especially with Annie in spite of the scripted nature of the show. At the end of each episode, the family gathers together around the dining table for prayer, some words of wisdom, and some together time when all is forgiven and what is most important is celebrated - family and food! I must admit, that in recent years, I have not suffered my Christmas flu.

Since pastoring Simply Church, I have come to really appreciate the down time during the Christmas season because of the closure of the University and the simplicity of the season to celebrate and concentrate on what is important. I'm reminded of a song from the Maranatha Kids from the album "Psalty's Christmas Calamity" called "Christmas is a time". The lyrics, with its words of wisdom, reads as follows:

Christmas is a time Christmas is a time Christmas is a time to love. 

We often start to worry And people get upset If things don't go alright on Christmas day. What we should remember In all the push and shove Is Christmas is a time to love. 

Christmas is a time Christmas is a time Christmas is a time to love. 

Maybe things don't sound right Or look the way they should And maybe they're not perfectly in tune. It really doesn't matter Lets keep our eyes above Cos' Christmas is a time to love. 

Christmas is a time Christmas is a time Christmas is a time to love. 

From my family, and the family at Simply Church, to your family - may you have a stress-free and flu-free Christmas season. And may you focus on what is truly important - that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Have a blessed Christmas,

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ingratitude Attitude I was going to title this entry after the Oscar nominated and winning film by Tarantino in 2009 but was overruled and edited out. Nevertheless I think readers can guess the gist of what I am talking about. I don't like the Thanksgiving season. It's not because i have to suffer eating all those Thanksgiving meals. It's not because it is my sister, brother in-law, and mother's birthday. It's not because I have to come up with another new twist on preaching a Thanksgiving sermon. It is because in preparing the sermon I realized what an ingratitude b@#!@#$ I have become. Every year it is the same deal. I realize that I have forgotten how to be grateful and deliberately expressive with my thanksgiving to those around me and most importantly to God. Certainly "giving thanks in all circumstances" is something that I am reminded of during this season and something that I have failed to do during the past year. In fact it seems to be a yearly pattern. Certainly as I preached on Luke 17 and the incident with Jesus and the 10 lepers, I realize that I am that 90% who don't return to Jesus to give thanks to the one who healed them. We ended our sermon with an opportunity for people to respond by writing some words of thanksgiving to one or more particular person on some thank you cards provided. I'm not sure there were enough cards for me to write to all those people whom I need to acknowledge this past Sunday so I will use my blog to simply say, "Thank you from the depths of my heart". Without many of you and your support, Simply Church would not be possible. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, labour, and sacrifice. Thank you for believing in me even when I have my doubts. Certainly I can give a detailed account of each person's contribution in my life's journey (and maybe at some time during my retirement years I may have time to recount all those experiences) and hopefully we will have all eternity for me to thank each one of you personally. Until then, I just will give one word of thanks to my wife. Thank you Chris. The End.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Doing the Happy Dance Quebec launched the country’s first provincial lottery in 1970. The 1982 roll-out of Lotto 6/49 with its “Just imagine” slogan made the lottery a national pipe dream; the 2009 arrival of the $50-million jackpot Lotto Max, which admonishes Canadians to “Live your dreams to the max!” serves to further stoke the frenzy. Not that lotteries are marketed as high-stakes gambling: they’re wholesome fun to be celebrated by a “happy dance.” – an euphoria that is expressed with people dancing wildly in joyous celebration. The happy dance isn’t a new thing. In my childhood days, it was Snoopy who first did the happy dance. Later on, Calvin and Hobbes showed their excitement in their version of the happy dance. And more recently, Mumble, a little Emperor penguin who had a horrible singing voice and couldn’t find his “Heartsong”, discovers his joy in life expressed through tap dancing. I’m not one for dancing. In fact, I am not one for expressing my emotions on my sleeve. My sister called me Mr. Spock while I was growing up. Not much excites me into a physical or emotional outburst. Roller coasters, buffets, sports cars, women, pets, money, etc. none of these things ever excites me. Do you want to know what excites me? Sunday mornings playing on the worship team, speaking the words of God, praying with one another, fellowshipping, celebrating, and mission trips to faraway places. My most exciting times are when I can celebrate the power of God at work with other people who too have been transformed by the power of God. I certainly have been blessed to hear about how God’s power has transformed the lives of people I have met, and even more, privileged to be part of God’s transformational power at work in this world. I hope that I might continue to bring more people and to share with more people a happy dance - not just at Simply Church on a Sunday morning but every day for a long long time.