The church today needs the word and men set apart for prayer and preaching the word. Too often the pastor is distracted by other urgent tasks that draws attending to prayer and word. This temptation and pressure is of course not new to modern times. It happened then too.
The infant church of the first century grew through the apostles’ preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ. However, after some time an internal problem arose that could have derailed the momentum of the infant church. The Greek-speaking widows were not being well cared for by the church. Pastoral help and administrative distribution of welfare fell short. It was a glaring gap in the Spirit-filled church.
There was pressure on the apostles to set aside their prayer and preaching times and made time for distributing food. However by the grace of God, spiritual wisdom and order prevailed. The apostles declared, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables….. (pick out reliable men we can entrust with this task –italics mine)…….But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Act 6:2-4 ESV). So other spiritual men, all Greek speaking, were appointed to the task of serving the pastoral and administrative need. It proved to be a wise move for the next verse described the outcome: “The word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (verse 7).
Why is the ministry of the word so vital? Well for one thing, it builds faith, hope and love. For another, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Pray that the ministry of the Word will prosper and be given prominence in WRPF, and anointed people will be set apart to focus on this work of grace.
Christmas is the season for reflection. It is December. Its the year’s end. Often it is seen as a time to holiday and wind down. Nothing wrong with that. It is time also to look back on the year. God has been with you every day of the whole year. We forget his inconspicuous presence in everyday happenings of regular living. Reflection helps us to unearth those gems and deepen our love and gratitude for our Lord. So we look back and count as many blessings and write a super long list of how God has shown up and blessed us through events, experiences and people. Then as holy priests we offer to the Lord a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.
Of course there were also those so-called negative experiences. Times when we were upset, angry, jealous, bitter, furious, and fell into temptations of various kinds. We felt humiliated, discouraged or remorseful. We wanted to give up. Run away. Hide in a hole forever. These feeling need to be processed in the context of the incidents in which they arose. Talk to the Lord about them one by one and sit and listen. Let the finished work sink in. There are gems of self- and God- discovery to be unearthed. Each year should enrich you with bags of experiences processed via the cross of Christ.
So carve out some time and take time to reflect. Take a break and shut down all electronic and digital devices for a day or a half-day. Eat, sleep, pray, journal and let God love you.
My warmest Christmas wishes to all friends and visitors of this blog. The Lord bless you with hope and peace!
The kindness of the Lord
It has been some years since I last went up to OMF Bungalow in Cameron Highlands. So I was glad to know that the last two rooms available in the bungalow were available for Koh Seng Chor, the pastor of Evangel Christian Church, and myself. My daughter wanted to tag along to have her prayer retreat so she had to share a room with me as there were no other rooms available. That would mean an inconvenience for prayer, but she’s my one and only daughter! It is always better to be able to pray, sleep and read anyway and anytime you want, and sharing a room with another restricts this to some extent. However, the Lord was kind, for as soon as we arrived we were told the good news that all three of us would have individual rooms to ourselves due to some cancellation.
Eat, sleep, pray, share
Most of the morning and night hours were spent alone in the room or outside, meditating and praying through Psalms 55, reading old journal entries, and writing new ones. On occasion Seng Chor and I would take relaxed afternoon walks in the cool Cameron air chatting all the way down to Chefu or Brinchang town, sharing our heart and telling grandfather stories, literally. My daughter, well, she wanted her God-space, so she was left alone except during meal times. Meal times were fun as we sat with and got to know some American missionary couples and Malaysian Chinese ladies who were also staying there.
Faded charm of the 60’s and 70’s
The food was warm and nourishing and the Cameron vegetables were fresh and deliciously cooked by Mrs Chye, the caretaker. The beverages and the superb cookies were free and available 24/7. The charm of the place is its tired and dated look – like going back to a warm and welcoming home in the 60’s and 70’s. This place was once owned by a Chinese businessman and built in 1933 before being bought over by China Inland Mission (now OMF), a missionary organization. While staying there you could fantasize that you were that tycoon, albeit only for a few days, enjoying the striking views outside your large garden and with your helpers cooking and cleaning your home, while you lounge around without a care in the world.
My daughter and I went for a tour of Mt Brinchang, the mossy forest, and the BOH tea plantation. We also visited Brinchang town and Tanah Rata, and there being no place in the “inn”, we stayed a night at Strawberry Park hotel and had breakfast before we departed for home in the 10am bus to Singapore. We arrived home close to 7 pm on Friday.