Apologies for the last few weeks of silence. To say it has been a very busy time seems almost an understatement! Several significant events have taken place. I won’t say a lot about any of them, but I will encourage you to click on the link above to see a few photos. I’ve arranged them in chronological order, and they are just highlights of the events.
The first of the events after the ICS 25th anniversary celebration on Sept. 9th, which I wrote about last time, was a fund-raising dinner for our seminary, United Western Graduate Institute. It was well-attended, with a nice program, and good results in terms of the amount of money raised.
The following Tuesday we had the biannual UWGI Board lunch and business meeting. My boss was in town, so we also had a team dinner and birthday celebration for Jack Rea, who was also in town for the UWGI events and meetings.
Besides the other regular cell group meetings of RiverGrace and other regular activities, on Sunday the 17th, after the service, many RG brothers and sisters helped do the final packing of the things in the kitchen that RiverGrace had used for their food preparation. Cindy had done the lions share packing the other supplies and books that belonged to RiverGrace. The packing was in preparation of the move to UCC. A few of the things will kept in the OMS office and some things will need to go in our storeroom to await our securing a ministry center. Most of the things will be able to be stored at UCC.
Next up was a UCC alumni fellowship meeting. They planned a singspiration, using many of the songs they had learned in UCC when I was their music teacher. Since the students were required to buy a youth hymn book for school, we used it also for singing songs at the end of lessons that I finished early. When I was teaching there was little else but translated hymns available. Nowadays, there are many more options, including Chinese songs and choruses that have been composed in Chinese. Few churches are using hymnbooks anymore.
Two days later, on Sept. 30, we attended a wedding of two of our hiking friends. The photos show a variety of Faithwalker Team T-shirts that our hiking group has used for the last few years. Very colorful, indeed.
On October 1 we preached for the last of our services, a joint worship service with Yan Yue. It was a joint worship service at the Seun Douh (Christian Missionary & Alliance) camp in I must say, it was one of the more difficult sermons I’ve had to prepare. We sill surely miss many of the bothers and sisters there, who helped us launch RiverGrace back in 2011.
It was also the day that RiverGrace International Hong Kong Evangelical Church (RiverGrace International HKEC for short) became an officially registered church of the HKEC. We are # 21 here in Hong Kong, and the only International church of the denomination.
Soon after lunch at the camp, Cindy and I headed off to the airport, with the help of my colleague, Pastor Tommy. We had a 6:10pm flight to Hualien, Taiwan, famous for the beautiful Toroko Gorge, which is near by, and it’s marble production. Our reason for going there was to attended our OMS International retreat there for the next 5 days.
Next up was the first service that RiverGrace held in United Christian College. Our largest HKEC church, Grace Church, sits next to UCC and they also use some of the classrooms of UCC on Sundays because of their own limited space within the church. The main hiccup of the day was that we had been told that Grace Church would turn off the security system every Sunday morning. After I opened the geography room, setting off the alarm, where we will hold our services, I came to find out that they only turn of some sections of the school. They did not have access to all of them, including the one we were using. Anyhow it wasn’t too big of a deal as a janitor who attends Grace Church, helped me turn it off. Other than that, it was a good start!
Lastly, last Saturday, I had time to take a hike! That’s a sign that life has returned to a semblance of normalcy.
Yesterday we got an extra holiday as typhoon signal #8 went up about 9:40, which means that we had to cancel the worship service and other events scheduled that day.
We still have a ways to go to get things settled and talk about future plans, but we just praise the Lord for how it all worked out.
That’s it for this week. I hope to be more regular again with the Fodder. Blessings, Dave
THE HAZARDS OF SNEEZES by Pastor Rick Sams
I’ve heard sneezes can be hazardous. There’s the story where renowned psychologist, James Dobson, sneezed while carrying his tray through the college cafeteria. His face shot down and the straw in his drink went right up his nose. Can you imagine the pain? His reflex was to pull his head back up which resulted in the straw coming with it, stuck in his nose, then slowly leaking its milkshake contents, all in front of the amused students. One of those onlookers was a girl he was trying to impress. That may not have ended well.
I’ve heard tell of folks sneezing so hard they pulled hernias. Others have hit their nose on the steering wheel while sneezing, barely able to drive due to fighting back the tears.
There’s a little known sneezing story about Martin Luther King. May I also remind you of the parade and festivities honoring him at noon Aug 26 on Liberty Av. (renamed MLK Boulevard) and Maple Beach Park. King had just survived an assassination attempt by a knife wielder. Xrays revealed later that if he would have so much as sneezed before the knife was removed, it would have surely nicked his aorta and he would have died. When a little girl read that she wrote him: “While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing to say that I’m so happy you didn’t sneeze.”
King went on to recount the many reasons why he, too, was glad he didn’t sneeze. He would not have been with his people in Birmingham and Albany and many other places where his peaceful demonstrators were attacked. But those served as catalysts to getting the historic Civil Rights Bill passed. He wouldn’t have been able to share his famous dream speech…where he saw into the Promised Land of the future where equal rights and freedom would be possible for all in America.
Some said King had a premonition. He realized that he would not live to see the fulfillment of his dream, but he said that didn’t matter as his speech built into this famous crescendo: “We’ve got some difficult days ahead, but it really doesn’t matter to me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop….And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But we…as a people, will get to the Promised Land…Mine eyes have seen the glory of the Lord.”*
Bishop Oscar Romero, a tireless advocate for the poor, echoed: “The Kingdom of God is beyond our efforts…and our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work [for us]….We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and do it very well.”* Shortly after he was also martyred.
Another statesman said: “Our main task is not to do what lies dimly in the distance, but what lies clearly at hand.” The psalmist told us to walk in the light we had, not lament the path ahead that we cannot see (Psalm 119:105).
What is God calling you to do TODAY? It’s the only day we’re guaranteed. Be like the worshipping woman Jesus commended for “doing what she could” (Mark 14:8). Do what you CAN, not what you can’t. That won’t be anything to sneeze at.
*Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul Of Your Leadership (IVP, Downers Grove: 2008), pp. 215-17.
“To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.”
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At his 103rd birthday party, my grandfather was asked if he planned to be around for his 104th.
"I certainly do," he replied. "Statistics show that very few people die between the ages of 103 and 104."
(This sounds like something my Grandma Aufrance would have said. She died just a couple months shy of 104. My favorite of hers was that she said she was afraid people in heaven might be thinking she didn't make it there because it took her so long to get there!)
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The adult Sunday school class was discussing formal and informal prayer, when one man remarked, "I do some of my best praying while I'm driving."
From the back of the room, in a quiet voice, the man's wife agreed, "I, too, do my best praying while you're driving."
Exhilaration: that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and before you realize what's wrong with it.
TOP REASONS FOR JOINING THE CHURCH CHOIR
10. You're running out of clean clothes and the robe saves on laundry.
9. The church is usually crowded and you want to make sure you always have a seat.
8. You've just been selected for jury duty and you want to get use to sitting with a large group of people.
7. The collection plate is never passed to the choir.
6. There's a clock in the back of the church and you want to know when one hour has passed.
5. For years you have wanted to know who sits in the back of the church but were afraid to turn around and look.
4. You've been known to nod off during the service and don't want the minister to catch you.
3. The chairs for the choir are padded and are the most comfortable chairs in the church.
2. Your favorite movie is Sister Act.
And the only reason you really SHOULD want to join the church choir:
1. You have a desire to serve God through music!!!
A man went to his lawyer and stated, "I would like to make a will but I don't know exactly how to go about it."
The lawyer said, "No problem, leave it all to me."
The man looked somewhat upset as he said, "Well, I knew you were going to take the biggest slice, but I'd like to leave a little to my children, too!"
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My brother Mark, lost his cell phone while on a business trip, so he panicked the following week when he thought he'd left his BlackBerry at a restaurant.
After a frantic search, he was relieved to hear it ringing in his desk. His relief was short lived, however. On the line was the restaurant, calling him to let him know he'd left his credit card there.
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