Month: July, 2016

Seek the Kingdom and its Righteousness

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What Dietrich Bonhoeffer said about the Church and the Cost of Discipleship

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“It is not we who build. Christ builds the church.”

“This is the end — for me, the beginning of life.”

These are the reported last words of German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed in Flossenbürg concentration camp in 1945.

Bonhoeffer didn’t only write about costly discipleship and grace. His life fully reflected his work and Scripture. It was a life he surrendered into the hands of Jesus, not just on the day he died, but years before that. As a pastor in Nazi Germany, he worked tirelessly to encourage the church to stand up for issues of social justice and human dignity.

Even now, Bonhoeffer’s works and ideas challenge church views of Jesus, grace and the Christian walk. May these quotes encourage you to remember the purpose of the church: to preach and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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“The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and His work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for all eternity.”

“The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians.”

“The Cross is not the terrible end of a pious happy life. Instead, it stands at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Whenever Christ calls us, His call leads us to death.”

“A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow Him. “Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the stand.” … The bushel may be the fear of men, or perhaps deliberate conformity to the world for some ulterior motive.”

“I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me.”

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

“It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to His church. ‘You confess, preach, bear witness to Me, and I alone will build where it pleases Me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough… Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.’”

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace.”

“Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men who really live under the forgiving mercy of God.”

“The will of God, to which the law gives expression, is that men should defeat their enemies by loving them.”

“How would you expect to find community while you intentionally withdraw from it at some point? The disobedient cannot believe; only the obedient believe.”

“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends.”

Pastor Peter Eng

Power to Recover

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Our Simple Purpose & Structure

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OUR SIMPLE PURPOSE

It’s simple. That doesn’t mean it is easy. When something is simple but not easy, we complicate the matter so it becomes easier. But it doesn’t get easier, it only gets messier!

Our purpose as a church is a simple thing. Because it is simple but not easy, we can complicate it, and then lose sight of our purpose. It is good for all of us to be on the same page about our purpose.

Our purpose must be what Jesus Himself gives us. We cannot fabricate our own purpose because we are building the Church of Jesus Christ, His Kingdom, not ours.

Our purpose is to live out
the Great Commandment
and the Great Commission

The Great Commandment: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)

The Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

OUR SIMPLE STRUCTURE

A simple purpose deserves a simple structure. We want a structure that reflects the simplicity of our purpose so our energy and resources can be focused.

Our structure is the
Worship Service and
Discipleship Groups

Worship Service. The Worship Service is based on the Great Commandment. The weekly Worship Service is the centerpiece of the Church of Jesus Christ. We enter to Worship and depart to Serve. This ministry that focuses on loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. Worship expresses, encourages, and purifies our love for God. But no love for God is genuine unless we also love and serve our neighbor.

Discipleship. Discipleship is based on the Great Commission. It is the weekday program when we meet in discipleship groups to (1) minister to one another, and (2) the pre-faith, through (1) prayer, (2) study, and (3) tangible actions. We make disciples by sharing the Good News. And when we obey everything Jesus has commanded us, we have the Good Life. Discipleship is about the Good News and the Good Life in Jesus Christ.

Pastor Peter Eng

Nurturing in Community

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A Mission with Power

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With All Your Heart

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Good enough – Whatever — Never mind

We produce our best work when we are most motivated.

This is why I believe the Lord calls me to serve Him as a pastor. When I serve Him and His people, I am motivated to do my best. When I am “tent-making,” or doing something else, I don’t have the same motivation. So when Scripture tells me, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” I understand the bar is high. The beautiful thing is that the Lord is pleased when I try my best, even when the world does not think much of what I do.

Yet, the irony is that when I do my best for the Lord, my best comes out, and I grow. Sloppiness does not bring glory to God. Something is not good enough until it is my best. And when it is my best, it is good enough—with God.

What grabs me is that sometimes, it takes time to develop this motivation. “Working for the Lord” is unpaid work for all of you, and unsupervised work for me. When a person is not paid (you) and not supervised (me), doesn’t that person produce the worst work? Yet, Scripture tells us to serve wholeheartedly as to the Lord.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Let’s put it the other way around. Let’s say, we need to serve the Lord as though we are paid $1 million a day. Would that make better sense? For many, that would make more sense than to say we need to do our daily work as though we are serving God, with no pay and without supervision.

What happens when we serve Jesus because we love Him and love one another? Our motives become purified. The person who volunteers to serve will often do something well within his abilities. There will be times when that work is recognized and he receives affirmation. There will be times when it is not recognized and God whispers to him, “My child, you are doing it for Me, remember?”

The way our heart works is that when we work for money, beyond a certain point, money no longer motivates. God creates the human heart so that we need more than money to motivate us. Serving our Father without payment, without supervision, and sometimes without praise, purifies our heart.

We serve God because we love God. We love God because we serve God. Our heart will not leave us at peace if our love for Abba Father does not express itself in some way tangible. And when we learn to express our love for God in service, our love gets purified and it grows.

I think one reason why the best Christians do the best work in the world is that God uses our service to purify our heart. And the heart that is purified for service does the better work.

The ministry here is still young and we have a lot of space for people to grow. We are not the established church that has perfected every ministry. We are folks serving with all our heart as unto the Lord. And we encourage each other to serve with all our heart.

Every generation will have “whatever” people. People who do not care. People who just show up and expect to be the star of the show. We are not “whatever” people. We are “all your heart” people because “it is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

When we serve the Lord in community, and work in the world, with all our heart as though we are serving Christ, we can look forward to an inheritance from the Lord as our reward. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit of God purifies our motives and transforms us.

Are you ready to make a difference in your life? Serve the Lord with all your heart. Start small, but start and do not give up. You will see the truth of how your giving will make you grow, how you will receive much more than you can give away – as you serve with all your heart.

Pastor Peter Eng

Seeking the Spirit of Power

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Unstoppable Blessings

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It is the first worship service @theWell. We have no idea who will show up. And you show up! And you are here today.

Pastor Tan lifted up our hearts in worship to God our Father, and I shared God’s Word with you on the theme “Unstoppable.” We have now worshipped together for 104 Sundays. And these two years have been a season of unstoppable blessings from God.

I am not suggesting the past two years were trouble free. Even now, some of us struggle with personal difficulties. But God has been good to us despite our challenges. We rejoice with the Psalmist,

Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you. (Psalm 91:7)

Our sick have recovered. Our wounded are mended. Our families live securely. Our children are growing up well. Our parents are aging gracefully. Our community is growing. We are growing personally.

When we do wrong or sin, we humble ourselves and return to our loving Father and He continues His blessings. Conversely, if we live in bitterness or anger, God’s blessings will stop.

If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18)

The evil one is at war against us. He brings pain and suffering to snare us. He entices us with sinful indulgences. And sadly, he sometimes succeeds, and he trips us up. We don’t pretend we do not sin. We confess and set things right, and God has not withheld His blessings.

We will not pretend we do not have burdens. By and large, I notice our burdens concern people we love. When it comes to the actual members of our community, we are remarkably blessed. I believe this is not because we are better than others, rather, it is because we are a fledgling community and God grants us special grace. In my many years of ministry, I cannot recall a community as blessed as this.

That is to say, because you are in this ministry that requires special care, you have also become a beneficiary of God’s special care. At least, that is why I believe I have seen such goodness from God. Blessings come not because I am good, but because He is good, this community needs it, and as a member of this community, I share in what God bestows on this community.

My sharing with you two years ago was the Unstoppable Kingdom of God. Not only is God’s Kingdom unstoppable in its growth, God pours out His unstoppable blessings when we engage in kingdom work.

I was hoping that we might have something definitive to share with you about the missional move we were praying about. God in His infinite wisdom appears not to have opened the way for us. And that is fine. As Pastor Tan and I shared with you all, every direction is from the Lord, and every direction is a blessing. He sees pitfalls we do not see and He sees opportunities we do not see. His timing is not only the best timing, it is the only timing we should go with. For now, it looks like we will continue to enjoy the blessing of worshiping in this comfortable place. All praise to God!

At the same time, we look to the Lord to guide us into another kingdom opportunity, another opportunity to make disciples. He knows the best for us, all we have to do is to be sensitive to His leading. Every closed door is a blessing no less than every open door.

I am very thankful to God for our exploration of a missional move because it makes us articulate our mission more clearly: (1) We are willing to explore a move or an outreach, whichever is more viable. (2) We do not reject, but we avoid capital acquisitions so our resources can be more focused on people. (3) If the Lord opens the door for us to have a ministry without having to pay for the place, it would be ideal. (4) God willing, we can find an ideal ministry partner who takes care of the business and the premises and our pastoral staff engage in the core spiritual work.

It is a great blessing to have this focus!

We have every reason to hope for God’s unstoppable blessings in the months ahead because we want to put ourselves always in that need. We want to be poor in spirit that we may be blessed. And every blessing turn back to praise the Lord our God.

Pastor Peter Eng