Belated amens & retroactive hallelujahs

Dug up this phrase from message 2 of the 2016 Summer Training. I was considering sister R’s story of how her husband was out of the church life for 11 years. She said something that I’ll never forget, along the lines of “If I had known he would eventually be recovered, those 11 years wouldn’t have been so full of suffering”.

That’s the problem, isn’t it? We don’t know. We don’t even know tomorrow, let alone 11 years into the future. So we struggle. We’re bewildered. We ask “Why, Lord?”

I like Jeremiah 48:11 because it explains —

Moab has been at ease from his youth;
And he is settled on his lees
And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel;
Nor has he gone into exile.
Therefore his taste remains in him,
And his scent is not changed.

It’s a sad thing to be settled on our lees, to have our scent unchanged. It’s a mercy when the Lord doesn’t leave us “at ease”. His emptying-from-vessel-to-vessel hand is His transforming and conforming hand. When I pray for my taste to be changed to the flavour of Christ, my scent to be changed to the fragrance of Christ, the Lord is faithful to answer that prayer. He empties from one situation to another situation, from one person to another person, from one matter to another matter. It seems like “things come up” non-stop — that’s because there’s yet another vessel to be emptied into, yet more self to go out and more Christ to come in.

It’s never easy in the situation. A situation like not having our listing sold after nearly 3 months and 2 price drops. But, after the fact, it’s all so clear: “Wow, the Lord really knew what He was doing.” And so come the belated amens and retroactive hallelujahs.

The funny thing is, we forget so quickly. After having witnessed the Lord’s marvellous hand time and time again, I still am of so little faith. Oh Lord! I don’t want Your lessons to go unlearned. How I need You to make known to me not only Your acts but also Your ways (Psalm 103:7), so that I would worship You and Your ways — not just after the fact but before I see the end.

 

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L’incorruptibilité

J’ai juste fini d’écouter le cinquième message de la Formation ITERO récente, en français. Frère MR a beaucoup accentué le grand point II, à propos d’aimer notre Seigneur Jésus Christ dans l’incorruptibilité (Éphésiens 6.24). C’est quoi, aimer dans la corruptibilité ? C’est, par exemple, aimer dans l’orgueil (comme Pierre), aimer dans l’ambition (comme Frère et Jacques et leur mère). C’est simplement aimer en moi-même, dans ma vie naturelle. Cet amour est du “miel”, qui ferment et devient du levain.

J’ai déjà une expérience de ceci. LL, qui je connais depuis mon temps à Edmonton et qui était ma companion à la Formation, a commencé à m’ennuyer à cause de son “flakiness”. Elle semblait de vouloir un rendez-vous, mais elle ne répond jamais jusqu’à j’ai déjà fait des autres projets. Elle doit me rencontrer pour me donner le carte de SL, mais elle ne répond jamais et semble vouloir le garder le plus longtemps possible. Et, juste comme ça, je ne peux plus l’aimer comme autrefois. Si ce n’est pas de miel, alors c’est quoi le miel?

O Seigneur ! Mon amour pour les saints — et même pour Toi — est tout à fait conditionnelle, naturelle, inconstante. Je voudrais savoir ce qu’est aimer dans l’incorruptibilité, dans Ta propre nature d’amour. Fais-moi le même que Toi dans la vie et la nature — pour que je n’abîmerai pas Ton bâtiment avec du bois, du foin, du chaume.

God causes the growth

2 weeks ago, CH received the Lord at PS’s place — the 2nd time I brought him there. I really considered it sovereign of the Lord to remind me out of the blue to contact this classmate. Not knowing how to take care of this “newborn” but wanting to practice one-on-one nourishing, I began to send him a paragraph from the HWMR “Topics for New Believers” every morning. Over the past weekend, however, he said that he’s “not that into this stuff”. I guess that broke my heart a little, despite my knowing in theory and from experience that new ones aren’t generally born with big appetites.

PS’s fellowship with me over the phone was basically to take all pressure off. If he’s hungry, that’s the Lord’s mercy, and we do our part to feed. If he’s not right now, there’s no pressure. Don’t put a time limit on someone’s growth — e.g. “before I head to the Training”. We can’t cause the growth. Let the Lord do it.

That was a hard word to take because it savoured so much of passivity. But I needed the reminder — that “it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom. 9:16). Lord, I honour and worship You as the Selector. It’s purely of Your mercy that I seek You, love You. Save me from overstepping Your sovereignty. I ask for Your mercy on these ones You’ve put around me — have mercy on them even as Your mercy reached me.

Assurance of faith

Someone said something to me today to the effect of, “Are you sure the Lord wants you to go at this time?” So I thought I’d better write down the experience before I forget.

Before I contacted Dr. CR on January 8th in request of an appointment to re-discuss the possibility of a LoA, I asked for the saints’ prayer in this way: “If this is His will and timing, may the details be worked out and my parents be at peace. If not, I’d like to accept that without any disappointment.” So it was different from September 2016, when I begrudged the Lord for putting me through an arduous process but not letting it go through. It was an opportunity — the last within the 4 years — and I just left it up to the Lord to open or close the door. The refrain in my heart was, and still is,

She took opportunity / To love You, Lord, with her best.

Dr. CR was supportive as always and observed that I had “clearly thought this through”. She did mention, however, that the special phenomenon this year of reaching class capacity could happen again next year.

I took some time to consider whether and how to write my letter to Dr. AS; my draft was reviewed by Dr. CR on January 17. The approval came only a day after I sent my letter, on the 19th. I took this as a confirmation from the Lord. In hindsight, I wonder whether my request was the “solution” to a class capacity issue.

The next hurdle would be my parents. Sr EC and br WSC suggested that I ask for a “guarantee” in writing that I would be able to return in 2019, which could further reassure my parents. This, however, was not to be borne: Dr. AS wrote back within minutes to say that he could not make such a promise. This was January 23rd.

At the moment of seeing that response, one could say that my faith “deflated”. I was instantly filled with all kinds of fears of the worst possibilities. I wrote to sr Esther: “I feel that I don’t yet have the full assurance of faith… Especially yesterday I felt the enemy was throwing a lot of doubts at me. I need the Lord to speak a definite word if He wants me to take this step.”

Well, the Lord knew how deep of a pit I had fallen into because, funny enough, right around that time br PD responded to my message from the night before asking whether I could call him.

That fellowship was my salvation. I’ll never forget when he asked along the lines of

If I gained the world and lost my Saviour / Were my life worth living for a day?

But I was just so fearful. When he asked “What do you want?”, I could say nothing except “…I don’t know.” Looking back, that felt like my Peter-denying-the-Lord moment. Br PD said, “If everything is perfectly smooth-sailing, then what need is there for you to contact the Lord?” And that’s how I later looked at it, but it didn’t convince me at the time.

But then my precious brother/spiritual father led me to pray-read. Romans 8, of all places.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

For you have not received a spirit of slavery bringing you into fear again, but you have received a spirit of sonship in which we cry, Abba, Father!

The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.

And if children, heirs also; on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed upon us.

For the anxious watching of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God.

By the end, even my heavy-running tears couldn’t hold back my released spirit. I’m a son of God! Why should I be brought into fear again? God has made me His child, and He’s making me His heir! What in the present time could be worthy to be compared with that coming glory?

That was faith-infusion at its best. I then went into my “private room” and wept, more for my lack of faith in the faithful One than anything else. He then gave me these verses:

“Behold, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been manifested what we will be. We know that if He is manifested, we will be like Him because we will see Him even as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

“And the grace of our Lord superabounded with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 1:14)

Oh, what a God He is, and how I need to see Him as He is! This One loved me — otherwise how could I even dream of being for Him? Where fear formerly abounded, grace has superabounded!

And, very honestly, my anxiety about not being able to return just dissipated. I knew I still needed to talk to my parents, but I was no longer inside the “suction vacuum” of the enemy’s well-woven lies. Two days later, on the 25th, I wrote to sr Esther: “I’m much more at peace now. 2 Cor. 5:7 we walk by faith, not by appearance. This is an opportunity for the Lord to increase as faith in me. Praise Him, He is the Author and Perfector of our faith!”

Talking to my parents was, of course, my biggest anxiety. The shadows of the hurtful things that had been said in May and September of 2016 still hung there. I was in a bit of a limbo because I thought I had plenty of time to wait before being “ready” to have the conversation, which almost made it harder because the thought would linger at the back of my mind.

But then, the Year 3 track results came out.

(to be continued…)

 

 

 

 

孝敬父母的四个功课

Source article here. Key phrases in red.

第一个功课:去除我们的自私

一个人要学习孝敬父母,第一件要学习的功课就是,你先要从自私里面出来,你必须要开始放下你的自私,在爱中来付出。《腓立比书》第二章第3到第4节告诉我们说:「各人看别人比自己强。各人不要单顾自己的事,也要顾别人的事。」《罗马书》十五章第2、第3节说:「我们各人务要叫邻舍喜悦,使他得益处,建立德行。因为基督也不求自己的喜悦。」在《哥林多前书》第十章24节说:「无论何人,不要求自己的益处,乃要求别人的益处。」

你有没有见过一个小婴孩,当他吵着要吃的时候,你喂给他吃了,他吃饱了,他很开心,就看着你,面带笑容的对你说:「谢谢妈妈。」没见过吧?小婴孩一吃饱他就要玩了,他就要搞他的事,他就要去睡觉,不会来谢谢你,连这么小的婴孩,天然的性情都是自私的。

我们从小孩慢慢长大,这个自私仍在。等到我们成年以后,这个自私在很多方面会慢慢改,在学校里面,如果你太自私会怎么样?你会没有朋友,你的同学不会跟你玩;你对兄弟姐妹太自私又会怎么样呢?他烦了搞不好会揍你一顿哪。谁最会容忍我们的自私?父母!有一些小孩都十几岁了,他在外面是人模人样,什么都会,什么都懂,回到家呢?什么都不管了。为什么?因为谁最会包容他、宠他?父母啊。

从自私里面出来,不能单顾自己了,不能光想到你要什么。我们小的时候,都是想到要父母服事我们,你不要以为只有小孩子才会这样子想,有的人到了很大的时候,还是认为父母应该服事他们。我认识有一些朋友,都已经三、四十岁,五十岁了,什么事都会做的,但是回到爸爸妈妈家里去看他们的时候,什么事都不做的。真的,茶来伸手,饭来张口,我很惊讶!因为回到爸爸妈妈家,又变成小孩子了。

当你学习着孝敬父母的时候,你就开始成熟了,因为一个不自私的人才会长大。如果一个人光想到自己,怎么会长大呢?这是第一点。

第二个功课:主动负起责任

《以弗所书》第六章第2第3节说到「要孝敬父母」这条诫命,在全本的圣经里面,最短的一节圣经就是《以弗所书》六章第2节,只有一个字:「要」。

「要」是命令句,「要」是你要采取主动。「要」孝敬父母不是跟你说:如果有一天你爸爸知道他错了,他知道他不应该从小这样苦待你,那个时候你就开始可以孝敬他。「要」是无论如何,你要做,是一个命令。这个是代表我们的主动,是说到我们要主动。

在人际关系里面,成熟的人就是「take the first step 」采取主动的人。夫妻两人吵架,吵完以后,谁会先去跟对方讲话?那个成熟的人!那个不成熟的人就摆一个臭脸。我们跟父母之间的关系也是一样,如果我们要成熟,我们就要主动。

但是弟兄姊妹,要主动不容易啊!对不对?当你跟父母的关系不好以后,很多的时候你不想看到他们哪,他们其实也不太想看到你,虽然他们很想你,但是他很怕看到你!因为看到你的时候,你很痛苦,他也很痛苦!所以彼此都是怎么样呢?只好「保持距离,以策安全」。

可是弟兄姊妹,神盼望我们跟父母要有一个好的关系,神盼望我们能够长大成熟,要主动的跟父母和好。所以,我们必须学习在与父母的关系中间采取主动,要学习让自己能够长大成熟。一个人要主动是要担风险的,但也只有成熟的人才会主动,不成熟的人是不会主动的。

第三个功课:脱离受害者的心态

我想大家都知道,近代的文化有很多的地方很不建造人,这个文化今天在北美特别厉害。这个文化最坏的地方在哪里呢?就是什么都把责任推给别人。现代的人,真是什么都怪别人!弟兄姊妹,一个不成熟的人,就是一个有受害者情结的人;天天都觉得我是一个受害者,天天都觉得我被人家害的,什么都是别人的错。

一个不成熟的人,就是把自己生命中所有的难处都怪给别人的人。什么都是怪别人:「我要没有这样的父母啊,我今天不会这个样子」;「我那个时候如果不是碰到那个坏老师,我今天不是这个样子」;「如果我小的时候不是我妈妈天天说我丑,我不会到今天也嫁不出去」。

一个成熟的人,就是他知道说:「我要为着我生命中的每一件事负责任」,这个叫成熟的人。一个成熟的人,为着自己的生命、为着自己所说的话、为着自己所做的事,他知道他自己要负责。我们不能够控制环境与别人在我们身上会加给我们什么样的伤害,但是,我们绝对可以决定,这一个伤害在我们生命中会留下什么样的痕迹。

你看夫妻两人吵架,对一句真要把人气死的话,那他可以有两个选择。他可以选择不但是当时听了就很生气,并且把从那时候,到过去多年来所有让他伤心的往事,都一一回忆起来,然后跟对方算账。你用肉体对付我,我就用肉体对付你。但是他还可以有另外一种选择,什么选择呢?就是对方用肉体对付你的时候,你不要参与对方的错误,你转回灵里。

一个成熟的人就是,你可以选择不要再有受害者的心态,你可以选择为着你生命里所做的每一件事情负责任,你可以选择用正确的方式来响应不正确的对待。一个成熟的人就是:你对我所做的不对,但是我还是要对你所做的对。这样你就成熟了,一个人的生命就是这样长大的。

第四个功课:了解父母

如果你不了解你的父母,你就不知道怎样去孝敬他才是他所接纳、所喜欢的。

有一年,我请我的父亲到加州的「优胜美地」去,那是加州的一个很漂亮的风景区,我招待他到那里去,希望能够跟他好好地去玩一场。我可花了不少钱啊,又是飞机票、又是旅馆,还有其它方面的开支。但是我的老爸在那里并不享受,他不领我的情啊!他说:「这有什么好看,走走走,哪里有中国餐厅?」哎呀!在那个地方那里有道地的中国餐厅,那里的中国餐厅都是做给洋人吃的。好啦,请他去那些中国餐厅吃个东西,他说:「把我叫来美国,就给我吃这个东西!」弟兄姊妹,我花钱、花力气,花心血,可是没有讨好,我气得不行啊。但是这个责任不在我父母,责任在我,因为我不了解他,我以为我欣赏的东西,他也会欣赏的,没这回事啊!

我知道有一个弟兄,他花了几百块钱去买了两张芭蕾舞的票,然后把他的父母送去看芭蕾舞。我不知道你们买过这些票没有,那些芭蕾舞和歌剧的票都是很贵的,上百元一张的,也有两百元的,位置好的更贵。他花了几百元买了两张票,然后把他父母送去,真的是好心!可是呢?他的父母坐在那里越想越气!「明明知道我们不懂英文,还要把我们送到这里来,怕我们跟着你累赘,想自己轻松去逛街是不是?」

所以你要孝敬父母,不要自以为是。很多时候我们就是这样子,以为我们喜欢的他也会喜欢。我后来就开始学了,不管要安排什么,我先问问明白他喜欢什么?想要什么?弟兄姊妹,你要学习孝敬父母,你要先学习去了解他们。一个成熟的人,是会学着去了解对方;你会了解对方,你就比较成熟,你越会了解对方,你越成熟。

我试着去了解我父亲的时候,突然发现一件事,我们年轻的弟兄姊妹们,在父母面前容易有一种骄傲,觉得我们什么都懂,而他们什么都不懂,所以我们常常就忽略了神在我们的父母身上的很多的恩典和祝福。神在我们父母身上有很多美妙的恩典和祝福,因为我们没有学习去了解他,我们根本就不知道有什么?所以在我们父母身上有很多好的东西,你和我根本就没有学到。我们人一生活在地上,有许多功课其实不需要我们自己去学,因为我们的父母实际上已经付了很重的学费,他们已经学了功课。你可以多一点去了解了解他们,从他们身上学一学就很好了。

很多弟兄姊妹在年轻的时候,认为全世界最笨的是他的父母。他们到什么时候才突然发觉,原来父母还懂一些事情呢?就是等他们自己做父母的时候。自己孩子生下来,突然发觉什么都不行了。然后就去问:哎呀,妈,这个怎么弄?哎呀,爸爸,这个怎么弄?那时候他们突然发觉:哎哟,父母还真有一点厉害哦,他们还懂这么多东西呀!

就算選錯,人生也不會毀了

This is one of the articles KL sent me way back in 2014 — I’m only just reading them now, and my next few posts will all be from that thread. This one isn’t directly relevant to our fellowship at the time, but it is about choices…

See article source here.

今天,朋友傳來一篇網路文章給我,大力推薦裏面的內容極具啟發性,很適合將來要作老師的我閱讀。

滑鼠剛點進去,我就被這篇文章的標題吸引住了。標題是:〈轟動整個台灣的親子文章:就算選錯,人生也不會毀了〉。

文章的作者是小野,內容不長,卻挺有意思的。大意就是他有兩個孩子,哥哥和妹妹的個性截然不同。哥哥很有個性,每次選東西都要選最好的、最大的、最貴的,常常作一個決定相當猶豫,反反覆覆。

反之,妹妹總是很堅定,選起東西來沒有一絲猶豫,而且,總是最簡單合宜的。

有一次,小野帶他們去玩具城買東西,哥哥從一進門就開始三挑四選,好不容易選到一個八百元的蝙蝠俠,不料結帳前,他又看上了一個限量版、要價四千元的蝙蝠俠。

最後玩具買成了,卻惹來母親的一頓挨罵,罵他沒主見,淨挑最貴的。反觀妹妹一開始,就挑了一個不怎麼起眼、要價不到一百元的小黑板,在眾人心中留下一個美好的印象。

事隔二十多年後,妹妹提起這事卻忍不住抱怨,其實早在當下,她就後悔自己的決定。無奈勢比人強,眾人都一面倒讚美她,拿她的表現罵哥哥,令她遲遲不敢換。但當時她幼小的心中,非常羨慕哥哥,每次都有自己的堅持,不惜大哭大鬧,最後都得到想要的。

長大後,兩人的發展也大相逕庭。

哥哥保持他一貫的作風,事事選最好,連追女生都選全校最漂亮的,沒追成功也不以為意,畢竟已經盡力過。大學畢業後,他填了美國電影研究所最好的前十所學校。

在當時的小野眼裏,這對既沒拍過電影也非相關科系的他而言,無疑是一個冒險又衝動的抉擇。然而結果卻出乎意料,他被哥倫比亞大學錄取,畢業作品回國後也拿到了金穗獎。

而相反的,從小溫柔體貼、行事果決的妹妹,在高一上學期結束時,居然投下一個震撼彈:「想要休學!」

原因是那年她沒有考上前三志願,在瀰漫著「只有前三志願才是學校」的社會氛圍中,這個挫敗讓她產生自我懷疑,萌生了想要休學的打算。

對此,小野夫婦又如何處理呢?首先,他們請女兒自己規劃休學後的學習與生活;第二,請女兒把高一念完再休學。到後來,女兒想通了,決定把高中讀完,盼望拚上自己想念的設計系。

故事的最後,作者下了一個重要的結論,就是人生的路每一段都有意義,失敗也好,走錯路也好,最後都讓你變成今天的自己。就算選錯了,人生也不會因此毀了。

基本上我能理解這個發人省思的結論。不過我也不斷問自己,人生的每一個選擇都是如此嗎?

其實,好像不全都是這個樣子的。

不同的選擇帶來兩種不同的結局

聖經中就記載了一個小故事,講到一個財主和一個乞丐。兩人的身份、生活大不相同,結局也大不相同。

財主非常富有,天天奢華宴樂,可惜的是,他並不相信神。

另外一位討飯的拉撒路,他信神,卻一生過窮苦的日子,巴不得從財主桌子上掉下來的東西得飽足;不僅如此,他渾身生瘡,連狗也來舔他的瘡。

直到有天,他們都死了,兩人的結局開始出現了「黃金交叉點」。

 

拉撒路被天使帶去樂園,在那裏享受安息及快樂;財主雖享盡了一生的榮華富貴,他卻在陰間受痛苦,甚至痛苦到一個地步,渴望有人沾點水涼涼他的舌頭,因為「他在火裏極其痛苦」。

不僅如此,對不信的人來說,「陰間的痛苦」僅是個起頭,他們還要遭受第二次的死(啟二十6,14,二一8。),就是在火湖裏永遠的滅亡,也就是永遠的沉淪。這才是最可怕的。

神給人自由選擇的意志

然而,神實在給人自由選擇的意志。我們願不願意信神,祂完全交由我們自己來選擇。

今天,祂同樣向所有的人發出呼召,要人作最上算的選擇,好叫一切信入祂的人,不至滅亡,反得永遠的生命。

為這緣故,祂吩咐所有信的人,要廣傳福音,將好信息帶給萬民,使他們免去永遠的沉淪;然而對不信的人而言,當人將福音傳給他們時,祂也把這個選擇權留給了人。

活著的時候,我們可以自由選擇,只是將來的結局,就必須個人承擔。

今天,這個選擇權同樣臨到了你,你會如何選擇呢?