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Something to Die For
Written by Conrade Yap   
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 20:25

When I was young, during Chinese New Year time, my relatives would always tell family members to avoid saying things that were not auspicious. Red colours were preferred. Black ones were not. “Good luck,” “Great Success,” and “Excellent health” could be liberally used. If a member of the family suddenly talked about things pointing to bad luck or omens, they would scream out: “Touch Wood” or “大吉利是” in Cantonese. Even talking about people who had recently passed away would be frowned upon. Why talk about death when we have all the life to enjoy? As I reflect on the gospels, I see similar attitudes too in the Jewish culture. Like the time when Jesus predicted his own death, he was roundly reproached by his beloved disciple, Peter. Mark 8:31-32 reads as follows:

“31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”


Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 20:35
Are We Called to Justice?
Written by John Tsang   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 07:48

Are We Called to Justice? Zephaniah 3:1-6, 14-20

Zephaniah is a relatively unfamiliar prophet who ministered during the pre-exilic days of King Josiah and a more well-known prophet, Jeremiah (approx 640-610 BC). The book begins with God’s stern warning of pending judgment because evil, sin, and injustice have prevailed, even in the land of Judah. Reminiscent of Sodom and Gomorrah (2:9), destruction was going to be widespread and devastating. So called “prophets” were described as unprincipled and treacherous (3:5), the whole city acted as oppressors (3:1), city officials were devouring the weak (3:3), and even the priests were doing violence to the law (3:4). Zephaniah’s poetic description of his culture and society was dark and full of depravity. What makes Zephaniah’s message relevant for us today is that there are parts of the world in which this description is still tragically very real.

Our speaker this week, Brian McConaghy , helped us to connect the message of Zephaniah to Cambodia, a nation still suffering from the Communist takeover in 1975 by the Khmer Rouge, where systematic genocide and massacres resulted in over two million people killed violently (some estimate as high as 3.5 million). This tragic story was captured in a film in 1984, entitled, The Killing Fields. Those who are now leaders of Cambodia were the children who were raised in a time of violence, and lawlessness. It is no surprise that injustice and darkness still prevail into this generation where Cambodia is known as a place where young girls are abused, sexually assaulted, and sold as products under heavy criminal influence. But the conclusion of Zephaniah’s message is one of hope. Those who commit atrocities will be put to shame and removed (3.11), daughters of Zion will once again sing (3:14), no longer will their hands hang limp of despair (3:16), the Lord who is the Mighty Warrior will save (3:17), God will deal with those who oppress others (3:19), and those who suffered shame will receive honour and restoration (3:20). What a wonderful and hopeful ending to a tragic story. Brian concluded the sermon with stories of how God brought about hope and restoration in Cambodia through some real stories of girls rescued from slavery, restored and healed emotionally and psychologically, and saved spiritually.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 08:03
Maturing Faith
Written by Conrade Yap   
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 14:52

The Chinese word for fruit, 果 (guo) comprises two parts. The upper part is the character 田 (tian) for “farm or field” while the lower part 木 (mu) represents “wood or tree.” It reminds me of the two critical components for bearing any fruit: 1) seed that grows 木; and 2) the environment 田 that cultivates that growth. If any of them is absent, even with the best sunlight, water, and nutrients, it is impossible to bear fruit.

The same applies to our spiritual life. It requires a willingness on our part to grow. The seed also needs a fertile environment to cultivate health and growth. Having said that, any growth and any increase is ultimately God’s call. Jesus has also reminded us that unless we abide in Him, and He in us, we can do nothing (John 15:4). This is why I like to look at the word 果, with a cross within it as a personal reminder of this truth. That any work of fruitfulness is a result of us abiding in Christ, and Christ in us. The Apostle Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”

Last Updated on Friday, 12 September 2014 14:36
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