North Point 
Alliance Church 
English Ministry

CONTACT
Rev. Stera Chan
Pastor Lawrence Choy
+852 2807 5200
em@npac.org.hk

ADDRESS
2/F Phase 2, Maximall
233 Electric Road
North Point, Hong Kong

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Eastertide

Eastertide

By Rev. Philip Chow

Apr 21, 2024

       In the liturgical calendar, the 40th day from Easter Sunday is the Ascension Day.  It is followed by Pentecost 10 days later (which falls on May 19 this year). This 50-day period is called Eastertide. During this period, although NPAC does not have a special worship order or worship songs in our worship services like we do at Advent and Lent, we do remember that Jesus is risen from the dead.

       After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples. However, the disciples were not sure about what to do with the resurrected Christ before their eyes. Luke 24 tells us that two disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus but did not recognize the Lord with “… their faces downcast” (Luke 24:17). Now is that also what you and I look like in our daily lives?

      No doubt, we all have challenges and obstacles: The pressure of work that seem to never subside; health troubles looming over ourselves and our family members; the growth and studies of children; the exam pressure for the youth; unfortunate events in society… All these seem to be solid reasons that make our faces “downcast.” You might as well say: There is simply no reason why we should smile all the time before others.

      As a pastor, I am no exception. I have to tackle these times as they are: Sometimes the load of ministry is very heavy and the pressure is immense; or I would worry about the spiritual growth of brothers and sisters; or my heart and soul can be tired at times. I acknowledge that many a time my face is “downcast.”

     Because of the ministries I am responsible for, I lead worship services and meetings in different worship halls of the church. Every time I see the cross in the middle of the hall, I will remember that Jesus not only leads us “out of death” but also “into life.” The mighty power of the cross reminds us that the Lord who is risen from the dead surpasses all limitations. Although the feeling of lack of strength does not vanish right away, the cross reminds me of this: That Christ is risen from the dead and we will only need to look unto Him.

     After the two disciples had met Jesus, He kept explaining the Scripture to them (Luke 24:27). Looking back, they asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) We encounter the Lord in our lives. He brings us hope that is unique. We can rely on the mighty power of the resurrected Lord to live each day. This assurance of triumph fuels our way forward.   

      On Easter Sunday several weeks ago, one of the hymns goes like this:

           “We know that Christ is raised and dies no more.

           Embraced by death He broke its fearful hold;

           and our despair He turned to blazing joy.

           Alleluia!”
          (“We Know That Christ Is Raised,” #273, Sounds of Grace)

The next time we say, “May the power of the resurrected Christ be with you,” we know that it is not just another simple phrase but rather the hope we believe in with steadfast conviction.

 

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Partners of the Gospel Proclaiming the Lord’s Love

Partners of the Gospel Proclaiming the Lord’s Love

By Rev. Samuel Tam

Apr 14, 2024

       Over the past few years, it was difficult for the church to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes to convey the love of Christ and share the gospel due to the risk of COVID infections. Fortunately, we have a long history of collaborating with the chaplains in ministry. In crises and difficult situations, by the great power in Christ and with all wisdom, we have been able to share the love of God with relatives and friends who are sick. Looking back, every ministry experience of ours is valuable and our hearts are filled with joy because we worked closely together.

       Thanks be to God for His guidance, ever since the 50’s of the last century, Hong Kong churches have teamed up with gospel agencies to proclaim and witness for the gospel through practical actions. These agencies are called “para-church organizations” as they work alongside the church. They are also called 「翼鋒教會」in Chinese as they function very much like the wings of the church to fulfill the mission of putting faith into practice. Today, there are more than 1,300 churches in Hong Kong. However, no single church has sufficient gifts, vision for professional operation nor creative strategies to monitor conditions in society on a long-term basis and respond to the needs of various communities. The services of para-church organizations are, on the contrary, many and varied. At present, many hospitals have Christian chaplain ministries and can share the gospel with patients. Meanwhile, many para-church organizations advance the ministries for gospel preparatory work, evangelistic meetings and faith nurturing to meet the varied needs of their target groups, such as grassroot workers, the newly arrived, real estate, finance and accounting professionals, celebrities, members of disciplinary forces, children and youths, students on campus, the homeless and ex-mental patients. There are also para-church organizations that help believers receive evangelism training and learn the skills and strategies for spreading the gospel. They employ audio-visual platforms and print media to broadcast testimonies through personality interviews. This synergy enhances the benefits of the gospel for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

       Famous American evangelist Rev. Timothy Keller has said, “Not only must an urban church be committed to evangelism; it must be committed to the complexity of urban evangelism” (Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, p.177). The growth direction for the NPAC family this year is “Follow Christ, Be the Light.” It mobilizes brothers and sisters to put the mission into action and encourages fellowships and small groups to adopt and care for para-church organizations supported by NPAC to become their gospel partners and walk with them. Today, NPAC has formulated plans for annual expenditure offerings for local para-church organizations. Brothers and sisters can channel their offerings to the church’s Mission Fund to support the ongoing needs of these organizations through offering fixed amounts on a regular basis. Meanwhile, fellowships and small groups leaders can consider setting a yearly timeframe to read the annual reports and publications of para-church organizations, receive their news and prayer requests and respond to their invitations to serve to support their ministries.

      May God accept our offering and, by His grace, let us become partners of the numerous local para-church organizations and take on the ministry as ministers of Jesus in the priestly service of the gospel of God (Romans 15:15-16), glorifying Christ’s holy name.

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No Other Way

No Other Way

By Rev. Arnold Chow

Apr 7, 2024

       “By faith, he left Er; because of faith, he sacrificed his beloved son…” You may be familiar with this Chinese worship song (“Because of Faith”), the lyrics of which come from the Book of Hebrews. Using the stories of the heroes of faith, Hebrews shows that the Christian life is like a long journey.

       Christians on earth are like sojourners on a foreign land. Roaming far and wide can be colorful but not without adversities and crises. In difficult times and environments, some may falter and are reluctant to continue to walk on the heavenly path. Compromise seems easier than persistence.

       The Book of Hebrews was written around 60 to 70 AD. It may have been a sermon circulated among the churches. It carries exhortations and reminders from an anonymous writer to the Jewish Christians and pagan believers in Rome. The Roman emperor then was Nero, a tyrant according to historical records by writers including those from Rome. He watched Rome badly burn and blamed the great fire on the Christians in Rome, ordering the arrest, torture, and execution of Christians. That started the Roman empire’s persecution of Christians. The Christian faith was not welcome in society. That caused some Christians to publicly forfeit their faith. These people were not against God. They still hoped for a channel by which they could be sanctified. At that time, the temple was still in Jerusalem (the second temple was not destroyed until 70 AD). Thus, the temple’s sacrificial rites along with the food cleansing rules in Judaism became a choice for compromise amid the persecution. Some chose to rejoin the Jewish religion and no longer profess their faith in Jesus Christ.

      The Book of Hebrews cites the Old Testament extensively to support its assertions, illustrations and proclamations about the superiority of Jesus Christ and that He fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. The Book points out that Jesus Christ is the ultimate salvation. Compared with the noble and special characters in the Old Testament such as herald angels, Moses the mediator between God and His people in Exodus, the High Priest Aaron as well as the sacrifices under the Old Testament laws and the lamb in the atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ is better, nobler, more superior and He is perfect. On the cross, He has made for man a new, living, lasting and ultimate way out. It is ultimate, meaning there is no other way. The old ones are obsolete. There will not be any new ones in the future.

      The song “Because of Faith” concludes with these lines: “By faith we have the assurance; Because of faith we have the promise; By faith we realize we are exiles on earth heading towards a better home!” The Book of Hebrews tells us that all along, “faith” means “trust” in the Lord Jesus who is the same yesterday and today and forever. In other words, we are not relying on the faith in our hearts but we follow with assurance the trustworthy Chief Shepherd of the flock to walk this journey of life.

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The Lord is Risen! God Blesses Me with the Best Hope!

The Lord is Risen! God Blesses Me with the Best Hope!

By Rev. Sally Yung

March 31, 2024

       Without hope, man would easily become frustrated with no aspirations, no goals, and no strength to live. Some may even want to take their own lives. Data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) last August shows that more than 700,000 people worldwide commit suicide every year. Meanwhile, according to WHO, a total of 38 countries have formulated strategies to prevent suicide on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day 2019. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” May God bless and guide people to put their faith in Christ the Lord so that their lives become meaningful and they can cherish hope.

      What do you hope for? Wealth and fame? A happy marriage? Loving children and grandchildren? Family harmony? Good health? A chance to show your talents? Or a good job and peaceful living? All these are good, but they may not be easy to attain. And even if you can, they will all pass away, for this life on earth must end. And so they are not the best or everlasting hope. Meanwhile, those who do not put their faith in the Lord will not see eternal life, and the wrath of God remains on them. They will be thrown into the lake of fire (see John 3:36; Revelation 20:15). What a misery!

      Nevertheless, in His great mercy, our Heavenly Father who loves us deeply has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our hope in the Lord is one for eternal life which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time (see 1 Peter 1:3; Titus 1:2). Only the hope of eternal life is the best hope, for God is faithful and He will surely fulfil His promises. He will give those who trust in Him the most valuable grace so we can overcome all adversities in life!

      Recently, I took part in a number of memorial services and funerals. I could feel how utterly painful non-believers are to be eternally separated from their loved ones who are deceased. On the contrary, believing brothers and sisters experience great comfort and hope for they know they are only temporarily parting with beloved friends and relatives who are resting in the Lord’s embrace, that they will gather again in the heavenly home until eternity. “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). To live in a place where there are only righteous people filled with the glory of God, where there is no more darkness, sinners and evil, where the presence of God is eternal – how great that would be! Lately, a relative of one sister who rested in the Lord heard the gospel and made the decision to put her faith in the Lord. The relative is now attending worship services. Thanks be to God for her!

      “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14). Dear brothers and sisters, may we not only thank God and celebrate the Lord’s death and resurrection at Easter and His gift of eternal life which we do not deserve. May we also reflect on whether we are living a consecrated life. May we give some thoughts to how much unbelieving family and friends need the Lord’s saving grace. May we take every opportunity to preach the gospel so they can share in the risen, eternal life, live missionally and abundantly, and worship and serve with us the only true God who so loves us.

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Crown Jesus King

Crown Jesus King

By Rev. Arnold Chow

March 24, 2024

       If I were to make a video of the Passion Week, I would choose to start with the episode when Jesus went on trial. The music starts, the camera looks down from high above in a birds-eye view on a large crowd of Jews shouting. The camera lowers to among the crowd and then draws back and turns to Jesus on the porch of Pilate’s official residence, with a close-up on His facial expression. The scene is filled with waves of shouts from the crowd: “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” The video then flashes back to a few days ago when Jesus entered Jerusalem. There was a similar crowd of Jews shouting.

       The author of the Gospel of John ingenuously used the same word “shout” to connect the two episodes (in John 12 & 19). The “shouts” of the people in front of Pilate’s residence were to reject Jesus. They were passionately seeking the execution of Jesus by the death penalty of crucifixion. Just a few days ago, they were “shouting” also, saying “Hosanna” when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. They were shouting jubilantly, crowning Jesus: “‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’” (John 12:13)

       The crowds were on their way to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. Waving palm branches, they greeted Jesus outside the city gate, knowing that Jesus had earlier performed a big miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, who came out from the tomb. There were eyewitnesses at the scene. These miraculous acts drew many people to come to see Jesus. Among them were those who came to believe in Jesus because of the resurrection of Lazarus.

The miracles made many to crown Jesus King, but they could not sustain their faith. A few days later, the same crowd was gathered together again, this time shouting to get rid of, and crucify, Jesus.

       For many years, a friend of mine was wavering between putting his faith in Jesus or not. One day I saw his post on Facebook saying: “Thanks for this evangelistic meeting.” I called him to find out more about that. He said he had attended an evangelistic meeting with many artists and celebrities sharing their testimonies. He said the message that evening was very good, adding that he was touched and would put his faith in Jesus. But when I asked him whether he would come to church, he replied: “Not yet! Wait and see.”

       A moment of feeling touched, a miraculous experience or even a near-death experience may make people passionately crown Jesus and believe in Him. But some of them may just embrace the miracles but not the miracle worker, Jesus Christ. They crown Him king in a shallow way, and easily turn their backs on Him.

      Why did you crown Jesus king? If you were to share a testimony now, when would that have taken place? If you are still recounting your experience when you first believed, if you cannot share from recent life about how you have experienced God and trusted in Him, then it can be a dangerous signal. This Passion Week, let us put our thoughts to discover more of Jesus’ footprints in our lives. Let us know Him more and trust Him more.

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Resource Reduction Becomes Abundance Before God

Resource Reduction Becomes Abundance Before God

By Rev. Gordon Siu

March 17, 2024

       I have recently been hearing reports about problems facing Hong Kong churches, which concern me. Due to believers emigrating or leaving the church for other reasons, a number of churches have a drop in worship attendance by 10% to even 80% (the number of worshipers in one church falls from 1,200 to 200). A serious shortage of ministry leaders is also evident. Some churches have to cancel the Children’s Sunday School altogether because of a lack of teachers. A dwindling of offerings has seen some other churches asking pastors to turn part-time to cut costs. Meanwhile, some churches cancel church expansion plans, allocating the funding for operational expenses instead. Mission organizations have also received word that some churches will need to suspend or gradually reduce support for overseas missionaries. Among brothers and sisters, some are burned out at work as many of their colleagues have left or emigrated, leaving them to do all the work.

      Times like these remind me of Gideon in the Book of Judges. Sent by God, Gideon was to attack Midian which for many years had oppressed the Israelites. Gideon summoned 32,000 people to war. But God said, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2) God then said, “Anyone who trembles with fear” needed not take part in the war. Finally, Gideon was left with 300 men. God knew that Gideon was scared about the Midian army, which was “thick as locusts.” So God used a dream in the Midian camp to give Gideon courage. After that, God also gave Gideon the tactics with which he defeated the 120,000-strong Midian army with 300 men! Exhausted, hungry yet unafraid, the 300 men boldly continued to pursue the remaining 15,000 Midian army.

      The sovereign God sometimes reduces our capacities and resources so that we will no longer rely on ourselves. When we have nothing to boast about, we will more wholeheartedly look unto the Lord. God will work and we will experience the meaning of God’s power made manifest in our weaknesses.

      In the past, Hong Kong churches have enjoyed abundant resources. They have more manpower and funding compared with churches in many other regions. Now Hong Kong churches have fewer resources, but God’s power will not be affected. God may be cutting down on the capabilities of Hong Kong churches so we will more solely rely on His work, and that we will no longer depend on our rich resources in winning our victories!

      We believe God has entrusted churches and numerous people of God here with the mission to testify for Him in this city. God will give sufficient grace so we can testify for Him in these times, for grace always follows entrustment. Still, the crux of the matter is whether the people of God will boldly proceed. God will not use the 30,000 odd who “tremble with fear” (Judges 7:3). But God will use the 300 who are unafraid of their small company, limited talents, weak bodies, and who trust in His power and help in meeting the challenges ahead. God’s name will be glorified by them.

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Deepening Faith Nurturing in the Intellect, Emotions, Volition and Practice

Deepening Faith Nurturing in the Intellect, Emotions, Volition and Practice

By Rev. Wayne Cheung

March 10, 2024

       The Bible teaches that believers should not “merely listen to the word” but also “do what it says” (James 1:22). Otherwise, we will be deceiving ourselves and wasting God’s grace. The exhortation God’s people in the Old Testament and the church community in the New Testament receive from the LORD is the same – that they should listen to the word, understand it, obey and follow. They should follow His commands and do what the word says. When man does this, he will be able to experience the grace and blessings of the LORD in everyday life. This is an abiding promise of God.

      Nevertheless, due to our different temperaments and characters, our life journeys between “knowing” the word and “doing” what it says are different. Some people are determined. They discipline themselves and proceed against all odds. They rely on the Holy Spirit. They are firm in faith and strong in action. But many others are undecisive. They are like seeds fallen among the thorns. They are bound by worldly concerns and money matters and their lives cannot bear fruit.

      Educational psychology points out that the nurturing of individuals’ morals rests on their growth and process in the intellectual, emotional, volitional and practical dimensions. Applied to Christian life, more attention to the characteristics and connection between “intellect” and “practice,” especially their interactions with “emotions” and “volition” and what they bring, will help believers to put the word into action after understanding it, to practice our faith and transform our spiritual life.

      Man is an emotional being and will inevitably have feelings, emotions, longings and reactions towards the people and things around them. In good times, we are happy and gratified. In bad times, we are worried and frustrated. The Old Testament psalmists always remind us to speak our hearts to the LORD – to tell Him all our feelings and emotions be they bitter or sweet. In doing so, we will receive comfort and peace from the LORD and be able to step forward.

     Therefore, we must not ignore our emotional longings and responses. While equipping ourselves to grow in faith, we should be alert to our feelings, in particular our pressure and negative emotions. After all, spiritual nourishment cannot be separated from reality. The burden and worries of reality often in turn affect our aspirations and motivation to practice the word of God. We need the Holy Spirit our Counselor to help, relieve and watch over our emotions so that our knowledge and actions will be in sync in the practice of faith.

     Meanwhile, man is also a willpower being. The will may at times be weak and shaky, and at other times firm and resolute. Faith requires the nurturing of the “intellect” and “emotions.” As such, if we respond to the grace of God, be determined, pray and commit everything to Him, imitate the example of Christ and take concrete action in receiving training and getting equipped, we can be effective and be used by God, benefitting not only ourselves but also the entire church community.

     Equipping Sunday is a day we encourage believers to put words into action. When we are in touch with our concerns in the intellectual, emotional, volitional and practical dimensions, that will certainly help us to better respond to the call of the LORD to practice the truth. We will be disciples of Christ whose inner and outer man are one and the same, glorifying the holy name of God.

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Gentle Wisdom

Gentle Wisdom

By Rev. Andrew Tsang

March 3, 2024

       One evening, a brother was very tired when he got home only to find that the desk lamp he had carefully chosen for his child was broken into two on the floor. What happened? The child said his mother broke it. The wife immediately said the lamp had come loose long before that. When the brother asked more questions, his wife impatiently frowned and did not speak. The brother thought to himself: “Now is that my fault?!” His anger rose…

      Does the above episode sound familiar to you? The characters and the scenario may be different, but such disputes, simple and for no good reason, do happen between husband and wife. A study reveals that we long for interaction and connection with others ever since infancy. We derive a sense of security from our parents’ responding facial expressions. Failing that, we feel uneasy. When the pace of living is fast and life subject to a lot of pressure, couples may choose no response to avoid conflicts, to calm down a little bit, or to “save one’s breath.” But did you know that this may on the contrary give your spouse a feeling of denial and rejection, leaving your spouse feeling hurt? This is especially so when we are rejected by the only person in our life who is closest to us and who is in the best position to give us a sense of security. Our feeling at this moment is likely to be worse than that for any possible response we may receive.

      The loss of sense of security is like being suddenly thrown into the sea and drowning. We will use all our strength to struggle and grab even the last straw in order to regain the needed help – a sense of security. At that point in the couple’s dispute, if the tone or volume increases involuntarily, the outcome will often be worse. Dispute will follow dispute just like gifts accompanying products. However tired or troubled we may be, we still need to do our best to offer a gentle response. You may be simply expressing your state of mind but do it gently. James 3:13-18 reminds us: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by … deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom…  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

      When Paul exhorted the church at Corinth which God established through him, he did not rebuke them even though he had good reasons to do so. On the contrary, he “by the humility and gentleness of Christappealed to them (2 Corinthians 10:1). It will be even more so when you are talking to your beloved spouse. As a husband and father, I am fully aware of my own restrictions and inadequacies. Love is patient, love is kind – it is easier said than done! We really need to ask for the Lord’s mercy and help. “Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:4). It is only gentle words that can make your spouse feel safe and accepted, giving your spouse a sense of security within. Your spouse can then give up armor, accept dissenting views with an open heart, and make a wise choice. Only a gentle heart can give positive encouragement!

      May this serve as our mutual encouragement in Christ!

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The Thrill of Short-term Missions

The Thrill of Short-term Missions

By Rev. Kenneth Chong

February 25, 2024

       Before I received my calling to be a pastor, I had joined brothers and sisters of NPAC on short-term missions to South-east Asia twice. Looking back at those two trips that lasted but a few days each, they were, nonetheless, significant experiences in my spiritual journey. I was amazed by God’s wondrous works on the missionaries. I also experienced God’s amazing presence and keeping. I even had the confirmation of the ministry for my life…

       A few years after my conversion to Christ, I took part in an NPAC North Thailand short-term mission trip. When I knew that I could visit the missionaries there, I was thrilled as I had heard many stories about the commitment and dedication of missionaries in serving. Among a number of missionaries I visited personally on the trip, the most memorable is that of Missionary C. H. Ho of the Hong Kong Alliance Mission. His family of five served in the Thailand field. Missionary Ho told me how, before his Thai language test, God miraculously let him know what the test questions were like. He also told me about how a fan fell from the ceiling and God’s protection of his children. That was the first time I heard a missionary’s personal testimonies, which left me greatly amazed!

      Missionary Ho’s sharing also showed me the missionaries’ love for the local people. The missionaries eagerly desired that the locals would receive the precious gospel. Missionary Ho led our short-term mission team to sing the song “You Transformed My Life.” I was immensely touched as I thought about the host of things that missionaries had indeed been through, and that their lives were continually renewed and transformed by God. That worship song has become one of my favorites even to this day.

      During this short-term mission trip, I also closely encountered God, just like Job who said, “My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you”! We had to travel from Bangkok to the city of Khon Kaen by coach for seven hours. To save time, we chose to travel at night and team members had to sleep on the coach. When I knew about that arrangement, I was very worried as I had never been able to sleep on a coach before. If I could not sleep at night, I would certainly not have the energy nor strength to serve the next day. But then I experienced something miraculous on the coach. Despite all the unfavorable factors (such as being in a seat right in front of a TV set which also had a broken armrest), God answered my humble prayer and let me sleep all the way until we had to get off the coach. How thrilled I felt!

      A year later, I joined a short-term mission trip to Cambodia. At that time, I was already seeking the possibilities of full-time theological training and full-time ministry. After we arrived in Cambodia, whether it be in the conversations with the short-term mission team members, in my devotionals, or in the interaction with missionaries, I received a very consistent message from God, which is to influence life with life. That was how I was gradually moved by God and continued on my path under His guidance.

      Those were valuable experiences in my short-term mission trips. They are still precious to me as I think about them. I also experienced God’s abundant blessings each time I went on short-term mission after those trips. Has God also touched your lives through your short-term mission trips?

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Worship Services: “Resume Normalcy”, “As Before” and “Everlasting”

Worship Services: “Resume Normalcy”, “As Before” and “Everlasting”

By Rev. K.T. Pun

February 18, 2024

       With the pandemic easing, worship services at church and everyday life have resumed normalcy. The need to wear masks is significantly reduced. There are no longer mandatory anti-pandemic measures. Strong safeguards are a thing of the past. Some people may even feel uncomfortable should they be required to occasionally put on a mask. “Comfort” and “normality” are people’s hearts’ desire after the easing of the pandemic.

       When things gradually go back to normal, we live life as usual. The past difficulties are slowly forgotten. All this is the process of the healing of the soul. “Resuming normalcy” puts us back to the situation “as before.” If the situation “as before” entails good habits, it is not only necessary but can also be an expression of piety. In the Old Testament when Daniel was captured and taken to Babylon, he was kept and used by God. He became a senior government official who administered the entire land of Babylon. But advised by the enemies, the king forbade people to pray to any gods. Faced with this kind of religious persecution, Daniel, as recorded in the Bible, “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10). Daniel’s prayers as before were his habits of piety. Persistence in “piety as before” amid persecution is a choice of faith.

       However, if we look at worship life as a kind of routine, then we may have neglected an important meaning of worship, which is renewal of life. Worship life as before is an important, good habit. But if after attending worship services for a long time, our spiritual life sees no growth and our bad habits continue, then we must reflect on whether we have really experienced God in worship. That is why for a long time, we have stressed three important meanings of worship: Worship is dedicating oneself to God, conversing with God and seeking greater likeness of God in order that our lives can be renewed continually.

       Meanwhile, we should also consider worship service as a “lasting” part of the spiritual life of the people of God. I emphasize “lasting” here because worship has to do with eternity. In terms of time, eternity refers to the everlasting with no end. In terms of space, eternity refers to a different dimension that is heavenly. Thus, Revelation 4 & 5 reveal a picture about heavenly worship at a time when believers suffer great tribulations on earth. That is to encourage suffering believers. After worship services, the continual renewal of our spiritual life is a natural result of experiencing God. The process of experiencing God is an encounter with the Eternal God. It does not only depend on personal habit, preference or even talent but, above all, on the work of the Holy Spirit.

       The Christian and Missionary Alliance forerunner A.W. Tozer says it well in his book Whatever Happened to Worship: “A worshipper can work with eternal quality in his work.” I believe it is because our worship is the important starting point of our eternal service, and “eternity” is taking place “at present.”