The last week has been an eventful one, including yesterday, celebrating the sixth anniversary service of our church, RiverGrace International Christian Fellowship.
Our mother church, Yan Yue, joined us in the celebration of God’s goodness and faithfulness. It was a wonderful sight to see the packed church.
Cindy led in the worship songs, which were done in four different languages. The first song was an English, the second was in Tagalog, which a Filipino led as it is their national language. The third song was done in an African language from Congo, led by one four Africans,, and lastly we sang a Chinese song led by one of our locals. They were joyful songs, and people enjoyed them even if they didn't understand completely what they were singing. The meaning of the songs were translated before we sang them.
I guess we need to be a little bit careful to explain the songs, because as we were singing the African song, the words were Alleluia (a universal word in nearly every known language in the world)… “Alleluia na lola,” which means “Hallelujah to the Lord.” However, in Tagalog, the word “lola” means grandma, so if we had not explained the translation, our Filipinos may have wondered why we were singing hallelujah to grandma!
Anyhow, we could feel God’s presence. I preached mostly from the book of Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2 about some principles from the standpoint of a leader, as well as the attitudes of those that helped build the city wall and gates. Pastor Tommy had the hardest work of the day in translating everything. He and I have started a series on the book of Nehemiah, because we felt it was very appropriate for where we are as a church, not that we’re rebuilding anything physical, but that we’re coming into a new phase of outreach and growth in the church.
Besides the special time of worship, a few of our ladies danced to the theme song that we are using for the Nehemiah series. It's a fun song, and you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVGJd_hexpc
For the occasion, as I do every year, I put together an anniversary video spotlighting some of our activities for the past year. It's hard to include all I want to in a a short video, but it does give an idea of some of our activities, and of course our dear RG family members!
I put two versions of the video in my dropbox. The smaller one is good for a cell phone. The larger one is better for a computer or pad. You are welcome to download the videos, and use them for your church or for a mission’s emphasis. The two links are here.
smaller video for mobile phones (121MB) https://www.dropbox.com/s/kdoewzfc3cq8r8b/RG%206th%20Anniversary%20Video%20-%20121%20mb.mp4?dl=0
a medium sized video for pads or computers (240MB) https://www.dropbox.com/s/8ze800871lqu2fn/RG%206th%20Anniversary%20Video%20-%20240%20mb.mp4?dl=0
Besides the anniversary service I’ll let the photos speak for our other main activities. of the past couple weeks.
That’s it for this week. Make it a great week! Blessings, Dave
Jesus the ‘Intolerant Bigot’ - By columnist Matt Barber
“The Gospel of Christ doesn’t care about ‘tolerance.’ It cares about truth.”
These words caused me to look up from my Bible Gateway app where I was reading along with selected scriptures. Matt Short,missions pastor at One Community Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, had just uttered from the pulpit a profound reality that, regrettably, we hear far too infrequently from this millennial generation (or any generation for that matter).
After several weeks of having worshiped with this young church body, I’ve been repeatedly shocked, and pleasantly so, that, under the headship of lead pastor Paul Dudley and, clearly, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this group of faithful 20 and 30-somethings does not sidestep truth, in love, as concerns transcendent issues that in today’s politically correct and postmodern culture (to include much of Christianity) are considered highly controversial.
Pastor Short judiciously stacked his words – words that blossomed from the very Vine of Truth Himself – upon that elusive sweet spot in the tense continuum between truth and grace: two central features of Christ’s nature that are neither mutually exclusive nor at odds with one another.
“There is nothing new under the sun,” we are reminded in Ecclesiastes 1:9.
Indeed, by today’s secular-progressive standards – and, more vexing yet, by the standards of lukewarm Christians and ministries that, under the intense thaw of postmodern paganism, fall away from the berg like vast chunks of ice – Christ Jesus Himself would, like so many of his followers today, be slandered as an “intolerant bigot” and crucified all over again.
To be sure, under the contemporary misconception of “tolerance,” which supposes that one must not only tolerate sin of every stripe, but refuse to call it even that, Christ was (and is) intolerant indeed. Rather than admonishing the adulterous woman to, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (see John 8:11), postmodernism, to include the moral relativist yeast that leavens the body of Christ, demands, at once, that our never-changing Lord change the unchangeable: “Go now and continue your life of sin.”
This is not true grace.
It is cheap grace.
And it is apostasy.
While it is true that none of us is without sin (I’m the first to drop my stone in the sand for this reason), we are nonetheless commanded to repent of our sins: “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will likewise perish (Luke 13:3).”
The first step to repentance is recognizing sin for what it is and rejecting deceptive attempts to sanitize it by calling it something else (i.e., “choice,” “sexual orientation,” “she’s not my wife, but we’re soul mates” and the like). Alas, ’tis true: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).
Indeed, far too many “seeker friendly” and mainline Christian denominations do just that. They call evil good. They intentionally omit the central “repent and go and sin no more” elements of the good news (or otherwise affirm sin altogether) for fear of driving away would-be fish in the net – those slippery little buggers (aren’t we all?) who prefer whirling about in a toxic sea of temptation, rather than surrendering to the ultimate Fisher of Men.
Pastor Short, to his credit, did no such thing. In fact, he went on to address Paul’s rebuke of the church in Galatia. Much like today’s “nicer than Jesus” set, they, too, for different reasons perhaps, adopted a false gospel that, in their eyes, made them more “relevant” and palatable to the world around them.
Wrote Paul: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you,let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:6-8)
Not very tolerant.
But grace, tempered with truth, nonetheless.
“As we have already said,” Paul continued, “so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:9-10).
And so, according to Paul, those who shrink from the “full counsel of God,” are not only out of line, they are under “God’s curse.” The fall he took on the road to Damascus clearly knocked free his ability to skate the thin ice of political correctness.
Still, like the Galatians, far too many in today’s church are more concerned with not offending others, most especially those who are without Christ, and, rather than being fearless “servants of Christ,” instead have busied themselves with “trying to please people.”
And, like the Galatians, they have created a false gospel to that end.
Pleasing the world is not taking up your cross and suffering for Christ. Pleasing the world is a cakewalk. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19).
Does the world hate you?
We can’t belong to the world and to Christ.
We were standing in line outside a busy restaurant. The harried hostess was checking to find out how many people were in each group. "Party of two," the woman behind us said to her, "and could we please have Michelle?"
Annoyed looks turned to knowing smiles when she added, "Michelle is my daughter, and just once in my life I want her to wait on me!"
1. My goal for 2017 was to lose just 10 pounds ... only 15 to go.
2. I Ate salad for dinner ...mostly croutons & tomatoes ... really just one big, round crouton covered with tomato sauce ... and cheese... FINE, it was a pizza... I ate a pizza!
3. How to prepare Tofu: (Step 1) Throw it in the trash. (Step 2) Grill some meat.
4. I just did a week's worth of cardio after walking into a spider web.
5. I don't mean to brag but... I finished my 14-day diet food in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
6. A recent study has found women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.
7. Kids today don't know how easy they have it... when I was young, I had to walk through 9 feet of shag carpet to change the TV channel.
8. Senility has been a smooth transition for me.
9. Remember back when we were kids and every time it was below zero out they closed school? Me neither.
10. I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented ... I forgot where I was going with this.
11. I love being over 60 ... I learn something new every day ... and forget 5 others.
12. A thief broke into my house last night ... He started searching for money ... so I woke up and searched with him.
13. I think I'll just put an "Out of Order" sticker on my forehead and call it a day. :)
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Q. Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
A. Noah - he was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.
Q. Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
A. Pharaoh's daughter - she went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.
Q. What kind of man was Boaz before he got married?
Q. Who was the first drug addict in the Bible?
A. Nebuchadnezzar - he was on grass for seven years.
Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
A. Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury.
A. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land.
A. Honda... because the apostles were all in one Accord.
A. 2 Cor. 4:8 describes going out in service in a Volkswagen Beetle: We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement."
Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
Samson - he brought the house down.
The Baltimore Police Department, famous for it's superior K9 unit, was somewhat taken aback by a recent incident. Returning home from work, a woman had been shocked to find her house ransacked and burglarized. She telephoned the police at once and reported the crime.
The police dispatcher broadcast the call on the channels, and a K9 officer patrolling nearby was first on the scene. As he approached the house with his dog on a leash, the woman ran out on the porch, clapped a hand to her head and moaned, "I come home from work to find all my possessions stolen, I call the police for help, and what do they do? They send a blind policeman!"
Yesterday's group photo after our joint worship service - and RiverGrace's 6th anniversary
Ma On Shan
Tai Wan Village
Fei Ngo Shan
Last Sunday evening we had dinner at our friends' home, Irwin and Ami King. Joining were Anthony and Pauline Ma, Chris and Maylin Hartwick, and Jerry and Eufemia Lui. The following Saturday we hiked with most of them, plus one of my former students in United Chrisitan College.
On May 1, RiverGrace enjoyed its annual Family Fun Day on May 1... a public holiday. There are photos from that event, held at United Christian College.