Letter From Home 家書
|11/24/18||Dialogue with God||與神對話|
|11/22/18||Four lanes on the highway||公路上的四道線|
|11/21/18||Homecoming starts with me||回家從我做起|
12/3/2018 Letter from Home: A worship not so comfortable, but quite touching
In the morning I told my son that I would go to Yingying’s house to worship and come back two o’clock in the afternoon …. This day people were particularly few, only six, and I was the only male.
No one could play the piano, so one beat on a drum, the other sang at the microphone, the remaining four danced around in a circle, moving their hands and feet back and forth, and sometimes spinning as they danced. After a while they picked up colored banners and began to swing them left and right, sometimes they transformed their banners into a flower, and slowly raised them up, dedicating it to the heavenly Father, other time they held a heart shaped red pillow to their heart, symbolizing how deeply the heavenly Father loves them ….
As I was doing it, I thought: If my son walked in at this moment and saw that his father came early in the morning to do these funny movements, he would probably feel very strange, and that absolutely wouldn’t be what he expected! … Then I thought again: But this is done in the presence of God, wasn’t that what King David did? …I also remembered: This is what Esther taught us a few years ago. Today she is with the Father and all the saints and angels in heaven, she would be worshipping with even more passion and reckless abandon, and she would see that we have finally understood a little bit of what she taught, it must be very comforting to her …
Then we each picked up a golden banner waving it back and forth, and we said, “Prepare the way for the glorious King”… After a while, four of us held the four banners hand in hand making it like four walls of a city, thinking: “Let Your Kingdom be among us” …. Later, we folded the golden banners, put them on the ground, and could not help but kneel and each bowed his or her head on the spot. I wept quietly, “Father, You are the King, the Lord who made all things, and Who made us, loved us, tried all Your way to find us, and You want to dwell within and among us … but who really knows Your worth? Who really understands Your affection? … ”
In the presence of God we worshipped, we loved Him, like an innocent child not afraid of being laughed at by people. I also thought: Isn’t this the same for us parents? We hope that our children will grow up, but also don’t want them to become prideful or too sophisticated, hoping they can always remain with the simplicity of a child. I believe that the Heavenly Father also hopes the same about us: on the one hand, be grown and mature, on the other hand, become like little children … I hope the same for myself too, for the Lord said, “…For the Kingdom belongs to such as these.”
I continue to follow the movements and steps with my sisters, not too comfortable, but my heart was quite touched: God is a humble God who hides Himself, He gives but does not publicize, quietly He keeps giving regardless of how many people misunderstood Him… I want to comfort Him, “Daddy, don’t cry, don’t be sad, there are still number of us around…, and we will also go and bring our brothers and sisters, old and young back to you…, including the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame, those who were disappointed at God…, and including our eldest brothers the Jewish people, our family of African descent, and all the first nation people groups who have been wounded and yet have not been rehabilitated and healed …”
11/24/18 Letter from home: Dialogue with God
At the prayer meeting, Brother Jacob’s prayer was one of the most sincere prayers I have ever heard. Right after his first sentence, I couldn’t help but to quickly jot it down:
Sometimes I feel like sleeping, but I also want to speak to You. It is getting cold… Sometimes I am reckless, but You are guiding me behind the scene. Thank You for enabling me to continue to go forward passionately. I don’t know if I am pleasing You with what I have done. You are the Creator, though we are so minute, we can still enjoy Your love and wonder. You gives us breath of life, how precious is that…
Many friends and relatives are gone, yet we are still alive, what is there left that is worth for us to do? Hope to receive more revelation during our conversation…
All I can say is to be thankful. Looking into the past, and facing the future, this world is becoming more and more complicated, that is because we understand much more than before, if we can turn our focus on You, then it will become much simpler…
The above is Jacob’s prayer, the following is my diary in the last few days, most of them are also talking to myself and sometimes dialoguing with God:
Because of jet lag, I woke up early with these words ringing in mind: A unified, loving and generational family, a culture of honor, a heart which pursues Father’s desire – let’s run towards these goals. Live a life like Jesus, finish the work He entrusted us and then one day receive a rich welcome into His eternal Kingdom. This is my encouragement to myself and my fellow pilgrims.
It has been 4 days since I came back from Taiwan, still going through jet lag I woke up in the middle of the night. As I lay back down to sleep I wept in my prayer, “Father God, I love You, I love You, I love You, O, how I love You, I love You, I love you… ”
Over and over I called out to Him, love flooded up from the depth of my heart like spring, continuously telling Heavenly Father I love Him… And I continued, “Let Your love flow out of me without blockage, with no leak…”
On my bed, I curled up, laying sideways, pillowed my head on my hands putting together. I am not lonely, I am Daddy’s precious child, I can sense that Father God was also laying there, holding me in His arms….
Molica is still in Taiwan I am home alone. Raining on the outside, I could hear the tick tack sound as the water dripping from the second floor gutter to the first floor roof, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. The light is dim, the room is peaceful and quiet, I closed my eyes, but reluctant to fall asleep now – only allow my overwhelmed waves of emotions to upsurge in the vast ocean of God’s love…
I went downstairs, picked up the pen to write, after finished writing I went back upstairs. The moment I went to bed, I couldn’t help but cry again, Heavenly Father never departed, He was in my room the whole time….
All these years as a believer and as a pastor, at this point of my life the greatest burden in my heart is to build a home for Heavenly Dad. Since when did I change…?! What has “Homecoming” brought to me? From an orphan I have become a son, and only a son can become a father…
My heart is filled with gratitude, I am grateful to Papa and Mama Gideon Chiu, Papa and Mama David Demian, and every parents, brothers and sisters all over the world that has the same heart desire. You have testified your life by living it out in maturity, focusing not on title, position, performance, not even on ministries…, but a life that is sweet, beautiful and fragrant, easy to be with…, and a heart that only wants to attend to Father God ‘s heart….
Thank You, Heavenly Dad, You are so awesome, You are able to reach down from heaven to touch the lost and hardened heart like Adam and Eve that hid behind the fig tree in the bushes… I love You, Dad, O, how I love You… I am totally satisfied, whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You (Psalm 73:25)… As I wrote, beautiful words began to flow out of my mouth, I wept as I wrote, love of God overflowing and overwhelmed me….
11/22/18 Letter from Home : Four lanes on the highway
A few weeks ago, we had lunch with some leaders and intercessors in a Chinese restaurant, Pastor Peter Smith from Philadelphia said, our ministries are like riding on the highway. There are four lanes, with different levels of glory which has to do with our hearts and our mindsets: (1) The first lane is the church lane (2) The second lane is the church and Kingdom lane (3) The third lane is the Kingdom and church lane (4) And the fourth lane is the break down lane.
(1) Most churches are driving on the first lane focusing on their own needs – preaching, home visitations, children and youth programs, even evangelism and community services are for the purpose of church growth, not having much to the Kingdom of God. I think 99% of the churches are on this lane, not to say there is anything wrong with this, except we are still children, only able to focus on our own needs, and not quite ready to know the heart of Abba Father.
(2) A few churches slowly grow in maturity, understand more, begin to care about the Kingdom of God, and they gradually begin to shift to the church/kingdom lane.
(3) There are some churches which are mature fathers and mothers, who really understand Daddy’s heart. They no longer care only about their own business, but care about the Kingdom of God. God’s desire becomes their pursuit. I think this is what the five fold ministries is about – The five fold ministries is not another church structure, or about titles, the difference is their heart and mindset – pastors focus more on caring for people, and the apostles and the prophets connect more with heaven and the things of the Kingdom.
(4) Finally, the break down lane is where the orphans are. They have yet to understand the Father’s love and don’t know how to be sons and daughters, or they may be those who are severely wounded and paralyzed, waiting for others to rescue and help.
Which lane is your church on? Ours is a family being united in the heart of God, moving from the church lane to the church/kingdom lane. As we drive toward the horizon, we realized our perspectives are broadened, our vision is changing, all of a sudden we can see the world like we have never seen it before, while we were in the first lane… ! I am free, I rejoice, I am so excited that I want to embrace the heavens and the earth…! Who can understand, how happy I am !!!
During the prayer meeting in the evening before Thanksgiving, Brother Mingway gave an excellent illustration! He said, “What I am thankful for this year is, in the past we were in a box, but now the box is open and spread out flat. We are still a church, but have entered into the Kingdom of God. This year, I have seen the process of this box being opened, I see Lisa, Angela, Bo Yan, Yanna, Yi Jiang… come out of the box one by one, even our children are growing, experiencing many things, and their attitude towards God is almost as mature as that of the adults … Like the cloud of witnesses, the church is a family maturing together in the Lord…
Sister Tina added, “We are a house of bread growing together, hand in hand, old and young, entering into Canaan the promise land… ” Sister Xiuduan said, “Jumping out of the box and entering into the Kingdom, now I not only love our own church but also love other churches. Churches need to open up the box in order to accomplish what God desires.” Sister Lini said, “After coming out of the box God has taken me to a higher ground to see things from a new perspective. I realize that trials and difficulties are part of His process for me to grow, so I no longer fear! People that I used to want to stay away from, now I am able to love… ”
In the past year the church has been through a lot, but what we ended up with is peace, unity, love and simplicity, my heart is filled with gratitude. Everyone is changing and maturing, including myself. Believe it or not, right now is my happiest moment in my 37 years as a pastor…
Everything is nice and calm outside. It is Thanksgiving, no one goes to work, hardly any car on the road, I just saw the morning sun rising behind the trees and through the leaves, beaming into my eyes. I can hear the geese calling outside, while inside, the heater is making a little quiet sound. I lit a candle on the desk, the tiny flame flickering, a little green grass in a glass cup standing next to a piece of brown fossil rock by the window, bringing out the color of the green bushes right outside the window. I love candles, especially when Molica is not with me, the candle accompanies me. One thing special about candles is that it’s flame moves, alive, it keeps talking to me. I am also talking to the Lord, “Today is Thanksgiving, Lord, what gift can I bring to You? Ah, only a heart which is full of gratitude and love to You…. ”
Letter from home: 11/21/2018 Homecoming starts with me
Several members of our church went to IHOPKC Homecoming, including my second son Kiley. I asked a few of them to share two Sundays in the roll. Many shared that they were very moved by how closely the Homecoming people engaged with one another, and were hoping that the same could happen in our church. That day I also asked my son to share, and we engaged in a very deep conversation…
He said, “I saw many couples in Homecoming are quite intimate with one another, but you and mom are not. Most time you are downstairs concentrating on your work and mom is upstairs playing with the game on her ipad, you don’t talk to each other much, sometimes even confrontational. Your tone of voice is not very nice, I believe there must be some deeper root issues….”
I said, “May be mom has a higher expectation of me, she feels I am not capable enough, I did not clean the garage for a long time, roof needs repairs for a while…, so I am not good enough as a husband.”
He said, “No, no, that’s not it, it is your heart. Mom does not feel you cherish her enough. You are very focused on your own thing, didn’t spend time with mom intentionally. Mom actually is quite accommodating to you. I feel you should treat mom better, loving mom is your responsibility as a husband, Homecoming must starts with you.”
We talked for a long time that day, finally he said, “To share about Homecoming, I actually don’t know what to say. ”
I said, “Why don’t you just share what we talked about today on Sunday, just be honest, it will be okay. What you are sharing is exactly right – for the church to become a home, it needs to start with me. Luckly I am still alive and there is chance for me to change. ”
He said, “Once I shared it in public, you need to start working on it, right?!” I said, “I will, I promise. ”
After our conversation he asked me, “Was it too heavy for you? ” I said, “No, I accept it 100%, I am willing to change.”
I told him, before I went aboard after graduation from university, I can’t recall exactlly what happened, my father admonished me and I was not very happy. Then my father said, “You are an adult now, ready to go aboard, there will not be many people in the society that will speak truth to you, they will criticize you behind your back, for those who does, you need to treat them as friends.”
We chatted about something else, I said, actually I have made progress, many people in the church had made improvement also…. Then he asked me, “Have I made progress?” I said, “Yes! You have matured a lot, you are bold, and have wisdom, able to speak the truth to your dad, that is not easy, but you spoke well and I didn’t feel offended, I can acceot it completely.” After that, I embraced him and said, “Based on what my father said, you are the one that spoke the truth to me, I will treat you as my friend.” He smiled and said, “That was better than I thought.”
The purpose of sharing this story is to tell you that I am still in the process, but I am willing to continue to take the steps forward, not to disappoint the Lord, nor disppoint Kiley. The real Homecoming starts with me, it is not acting superficially, but come from the heart, this is what Kiley tried to point out.
It is not easy to be a family, intimacy between husband and wife is not easy, but for Kiley’s sake I want to be a good husband. Someone said, “The best gift a father can give to the children is to love their mother.” Agree? Love comes from the heart. It is not only presence in the body but absence in heart, only obligations and function as husband and wife, but no engagement in the hearts. Homecoming starts with oneself, are you willing? This is Abba Father ‘s heart desire, and the longing of the children.
I remember many years ago, Papa Gideon and Papa Demian’s church taught on relationship between husband and wife in adult Sunday school, they told me, they traveled away from church so much, so when they returned home they had to take the make up classes on husband and wife relationdhip, because that is the foundation!
So, how do I love? What does Kiley point out? What is love?
I thought I had love, but my son reminded me, love is for me to come out of my boxes, to think on other’s behalf, to show tenderness, to be tender to the other is to be considerate for the other. What is love? Love is not selfish, not boast, not self-seeking, not easily angered, is patient, kind…. (1Corinthians 13:4-7) talks about this. Can I ask you, how many did you fail? I failed in almost everyone, I am ashamed!
I thought I did pretty well, and didn’t expect, to receive a failing grade from my son! Are we willing to improve toward that? Your wife is waiting, your husband is waiting, your children are waiting, hoping and waiting for the parents to change. Some couples fought most of their lives and ended up in divorce, the children not only were disappointed at the parents, they became disappointed at God….
I know we can’t be perfect, but we can improve – today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today. I also hope we can be friends, tell me what is wrong with me in front of me, not behind me. I want to listen, I am willing to change. I believe what is impossible with man, is possible with God…
When we can be like that for each other, our children will be comforted, and our Heavenly Father will say to the angels and all the saints, “See, that is my boy! My girl! ”
12/1/2018 家书: 不大自在，但心蛮感动的敬拜
我边作动作边想: 若这个时候我兒子走进来，一看，原来今早爸爸来这里，竟是在做这些好笑的动作，他一定会觉得稀奇，也绝对万万料想不到…! 我又转念: 然而这是在神面前做的，大衛不就是这样吗? … 我还想到: 这是好几年前Esther教我们的，今天她在天上，与众圣徒及天使在父神面前，一定更加忘我、尽情，且看见我们也终于略懂她所教的，一定非常得着安慰…。
到後來，我们各拿起一条金色的丝巾，前后挥动，我们说: 为荣耀的君王预备道路。一阵子后四人手与手，把四片巾拉住，心想: 让祂的国在我们当中…。再后来，我们把金色丝巾褶起，摆在地上，不自禁地匍匐。暗暗地我哭了， “父啊，祢是王，是造万物的主，也造了我们，爱我们，千方百计地来寻我们，还要与我们同住…，然而有谁知道祢的价值? 有谁知道祢的多情?…”
在神面前我们敬拜、爱戴，像孩子般天真，不怕人笑。我又想: 我们作父母的，不也是这样吗? 既盼孩子长大成人，又希望他们不要骄傲、世故，而能一直保持孩子的单纯。我相信父神对我们必也如此盼望: 一方面希望我们长大懂事，一方面又希望我们回转像小孩…。我願如此，因为主说，在神国的，正是这样的人。
我继续与姊妹们做动作、踏舞步，不大自在，但心是蛮感动的: 神是谦卑、自隐的神，祂給，但不张扬。祂默默地给，尽管多少人误会祂…。我要去安慰祂，”爸爸，不要哭泣、不要难过，还有好几个孩子都在… 。我们也要去把哥哥、姐姐、弟弟、妹妹带回到您面前来，还包括那些贫穷的、残废的、瞎眼的、瘸腿的、对神失望的…，也包括犹太长兄、非洲裔黑人、以及各地受过伤而未曾得到过平反与医治的原住民们…。
11/24/18 家書: 與神對話
從臺灣回來已四天了，還在時差，半夜醒，躺下再睡。想到禱告用方言我不流利，那就簡單禱告吧，於是開口用英文說，”Father God，I love you， I love you…， I love you，O，how I love you， I love you，I love you…。”
信主這麽久，作牧師也這麽多年，如今我心中的最大負擔就是建立父神的家。曾幾何時我改變了…。”回家” 帶給我什麽? 從孤兒變兒子，兒子才可能作父親…。
謝謝天父，您好了不起，竟然有辦法能從高天觸摸到我那曾經像亞當、夏娃躲在叢林裏無花果樹背後的失落又堅硬的心…。I love you, Dad, O, how I love you…I am totally satisfied…， 除禰以外，在天上我還有誰? 除妳以外，在地上我也別無愛慕… ( 詩73:25)。寫著，不自主地湧出美辭，邊寫邊流淚，主的愛滿溢… 。
家書 11/22/18: 公路上的四道線
不久前與幾位牧者及代禱者在壹家中國餐館吃飯，費城的Peter Smith牧師說，”我們的事奉好像在公路上開車，有四個車道，它們榮耀的程度不同，那是與我們的心胸及看法相關的: (1) 第壹個車道是教會道 (2) 第二個車道是教會與國度道 (3) 第三個車道是國度與教會道 (4) 而路邊還有第四道，是修車道。”
(1) 大半教會都開在第壹道上，所專註的是自己的需要 – 聽道、探訪、兒童、青少年節目，連傳福音、作社區服事，目的也是為教會增長，很少與神的國度相連。我看99%的教會都走在這道上，沒什麽不對，但可以說還是孩子吧，關心的還是自己，還不能體會太多天父爸爸的心。
(3) 還有些更成熟到成為父老的，真懂天父的心，所以不再只專顧自己的事，乃願以神國的事為念，神心中的渴想是他們的追求。我想，五重職事的特點就在這裏，它不是另壹個教會的結構，也不是多加進來的頭銜，所不同的仍是在視野與心胸， 牧師是註重牧養、關心人的，而使徒與先知才是與神的國度相接連的。
妳我的教會是在哪壹道上? 我們的，是壹照神心意正在連結的家，正在從教會道移動進入教會與國度道。當我們朝地平線走去，我發現視野在寬廣，看法在改變，忽然看見以前在第壹道上從未見到的天地…! 我自由，我歡喜，我興奮到要與天地擁抱…! 我多麽快樂，有誰能知道!!!
感恩節前壹晚的禱告會，明偉弟兄用壹比方太棒了! 他說，”今年要感恩的是，過去我們像在壹個box 裏，如今這box被打開、攤平了，還是教會，但已經進入國度。這壹年裏我看見這打開的過程，我看見郭兵、思思、閻波、艷娜、姜毅…，壹個個都跑出來了，連孩子們也在成長，經歷許多事，他們成熟的態度幾乎與大人壹樣…，都是雲彩般的見證人，教會是壹個壹起在成長的家…。”
Tina姐妹緊接著說，”麵包之家同長大，攜老扶幼進迦南。” 秀端姐妹說，”跳出box，進入國度，不只愛自己的教會，還要與眾教會相愛。教會是需要把box打開，才能去做成神所要的。” 麗妮姐妹說，”跳出box，神把我帶到另壹個高度，用新的角度看，原來試煉與困難是神要我們成長的過程，所以不怕了! 以前想躲遠的人，今也能夠去愛了…。”
屋外壹片寧靜安詳。感恩節，沒人上班，沒有車輛，只見剛升起的朝陽，透過樹梢照入我眼簾。屋外偶有群雁的呼叫，屋裏暖氣在微微吹響。我點了蠟燭在桌上，燭焰微動，還有放在玻璃杯中的小草，靠著窗前的壹塊樹化石， 綠油油地點綴著，與窗外的樹叢相輝映。我喜歡燃燭，尤其當美津不在時有蠟燭陪伴我。蠟燭有個特點，小小燭光是會動的，是活的，好像不停地在與我侃侃對話。我也在與主對話，”今天是感恩節，主啊，拿什麽禮物獻上給禰呢? 啊，就是壹顆感恩愛禰的心…。”
家書 11/21/2018: 回家從我做起
他說，”公開講了之後妳要做啊!” 我說，”會的，I promise.”
後來我們又談別的，我說其實我有進步，教會好多人這幾年也有進步…。然後他問我，”我有進步嗎?” 我說，”有! 妳也長大很多，妳勇敢、又有智慧，對爸爸說諫言，這不容易，講得好，我未覺得被冒犯，我完全能接受。” 說完後我去抱他說，”照我爸爸說的，妳是對我當面指正勸誡的人，我要把妳當朋友。” 他笑笑說，”That was better than I thought.”
家是蠻難的，夫妻親密是不容易的，但為了愷立的緣故，我要作壹個更好的丈夫。有人說，”壹個父親能給妳兒女的最大的禮物就是愛他們的母親。” 同意嗎? 而愛是從心發出的，不是人在而心不在，只義務上、功能上作夫妻，而無心靈上的交集。”回家”從自己開始，妳願意嗎? 這是天父的期盼，也是兒女們的期盼。
那麽要如何愛? 愷立提醒我什麽? 什麽是愛?
我覺得我有愛啊? 但兒子提醒我，愛是從自己的框框裏走出來，去為對方想，去體貼，體貼就是為對方想。什麽是愛? 愛是不自私、不自誇、不求自己的益處、不輕易發怒、是恒久忍耐又有恩慈… ，(哥林多前書13:4-7) 講的就是這個。請問，妳犯了幾條? 我差不多每條都犯，慚愧!
我還以為考得不錯呢，誰知，兒子為我打分數，竟不及格! 要不要朝這方向改進? 妳妻子在等，丈夫在等，孩子們也在等，盼看見父母改變。有些夫婦爭吵壹輩子，最後分手，孩子不但對父母失望，也對神失望…。
當妳我如此，孩子們得安慰，天父也對天使及眾聖徒說，” See, that’s my boy! My girl!”