Graceland 2018-07-15

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of … is a land of the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it… (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)

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Words from the Editor:

Dear brothers and sisters:

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer… For many brothers and sisters who have believed in Jesus fora while, these are the standard answers. However, when we take some quiet time and think carefully, how did we experience Jesus in our spiritual life? What is Jesus to you? Praise God that there are ten brothers and sisters, including a pastor, a scholar, seniors, and young people who share with us how they experienced Jesus in their lives.

Here, it is also a challenge for you to think about who Jesus is in your life.

 

Who is Jesus to me?

Jesus is My Healer – By Rev. Joseph Gong, Main Campus

In Exodus 15:22-26, one of God’s names is Yahweh-Rapha which means Yahweh heals.

Eighteen years ago, after I had just become a Christian, God gave me an amazing experience of His grace. At the time I was a student in Japan, and due to long term stress and busyness, I developed a severe allergy. Each day was miserable as my eyes were constantly red, head was dizzy, and each sneeze would unleash lots of mucus. Through lab tests, I learned of my allergy to dust and mites, which were very common and made my life very difficult. I prayed to God for healing and for forgiveness for not taking good care of my health.

Eighteen months of praying and waiting went by. In January of 2004 while in a class at seminary, I experienced God’s power and mercy. The evening before I had a terrible bout of allergies and barely got any sleep. The next day in class I shared with our seminary’s dean and some students. They gathered around me and prayed for my allergies. That evening, I felt something which urged me to stop my allergy medication. I obeyed and just two weeks later, my allergy was completely gone! Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

1 Peter 2:24b “by his wounds you have been healed.” I pray that God’s mercy and healing, through our prayers, works among all our brothers and sisters to heal us in our weaknesses. God is our Healer, He is Yahweh-Rapha. ◆

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Jesus is My Abba Father – Jiathun Lee, North Campus

I have three fathers: my biological father, my step-father, and my Heavenly Father.

My father passed away when I was four months old. I have never met him, the one who brought me to this world but soon left me. When I began remembering things, all I knew about was my step-father. My step-father had a domineering personality, and was hot tempered, so I was always very cautious about what I did, fearing that I would annoy him, and ignite fire and storm to the family. I longed for the fatherly love, kindness, and care, but all in vain. This became the deepest sorrow of my life.

After I married and had my own kids, I finally had my own family and love. My heart found a little comfort in my new family. However, life always gives you surprises. The challenges and trials in life threw me into various circumstances of anxiety, and I felt helpless multiple times.  When I met Jesus, Abba Father, I finally found the FATHER I have longed for. I also came to know that HE has been protecting me and caring for me ever since I was in my mother’s womb. Psalm 27:10: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” In my more than 80 years of life, I have seen suffering and storms, but He continuously helps me, encourages me, and has never forsaken me. When I was down, in pain, and couldn’t bear the suffering, He shined a light on me, to keep me warm. When I fell, He carried me. When I lost my husband, those heartbreaking days, He was there next to me, comforting me, and wiping my tears. Through all these trials and suffering, he taught me to submit to His will.  “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). I trust everything has God’s goodness.

He is holding my hand as I walk the rest of my life. He not only loves me and protects me, but also fills me with blessings that I could have a carefree life with peace and joy! The void in my heart finally is filled. Thank you,Jesus – my dearest Abba Fathrer! ◆

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My Apologies!!!

Thoughts on Christian Apologetics – William Soo Hoo, Lord’s Grace 

Who Is Jesus to Me?

Jesus Himself asked a similar question of His disciples[1]and it is the focal question in life that every person must ultimately answersooner or later. However, before we answer the subjectivequestion, “who is Jesus to me?” we should first consider the objectivequestion, “who is Jesus.” This is because we need to know the facts about Jesus in order to have an accurate understanding of Him.

Some people claim He never existed[2], that Jesus is simply a symbolof perfect humanity. This would place Him in the realm of mythology. On this view, the Bible is simply unreliable or just made-up stories to comfort through blind faith.

This is simply unsupported by the facts of history.

We have 4 eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life we call the four-fold gospel, written within a few decades of Jesus’ life. Scholars categorize these in the genre of ancient biographies.  The style in which they were written are clearly historical and certainly not in the genre of mythology. The early testimony of the Paul whose first letter to the Corinthians actually predatesthe gospels and is known to be the earliest teaching of His deity, death, and resurrection[3]. There exists “an embarrassing amount of evidence”[4]that show that the writings of the New Testament are reliable, that is to say, what we read in our New Testament today is what was actually written in it almost 2,000 years ago.

What evidence of Jesus close to His time exist extrabiblically(sources outside of the Bible)? Gary Habermas, Distinguished Professor of the New Testament and expert in the Resurrection, notes that there are over half a dozen documents from ancienthistory that mention Jesus that add credibility to the claim that Jesus was a real person in history. Finally, New Testament textual critic, Bart Ehrman says that NO serious scholar of antiquity doubts the existence Jesus. It is simply not even an issue in contemporary scholarship.[5]By the way, Dr. Ehrman is an atheist and thus he cannot be accused of having a bias in favor of Christianity.

If true, then we can absolutely trust what the Bible says about Jesus, what He said, what He did, and who He is.

Who is Jesus to me? To answer that, I’ll go with Peter’s answer, “[He is] the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Hallelujah, He is my salvation by grace alone! ◆

For more on the Defense of the Christian Faith,

see the Lord’s Grace web page www.lordsgracesd.org

Go to FaceBook and join “Don’t Be Sorry for Being Apologetic!”

William Soo Hoo is a PhD scientist in the areas of immunology, molecular and cellular biochemistry.  He also has a Master in Christian Apologetics from BIOLA University and teaches on Christian topics.

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Jesus is My Hope – Lan Tang, Central Campus

I’ve been a Christian for about 18 years. Through the countless ups and downs of many years of work and family life, I’m always able to find peace in Jesus Christ since He is my hope.

Since a young age, my daughter has enjoyed church activities. She was baptized at the age of 13, faithfully served on the youth fellowship worship team, and attended a summer short term mission in Yunnan. It brought me great joy to see her loving God and people. When she became a junior in high school, she was often unhappy with some people and issues; she brought them to me but I wasn’t able to help. By the time she was in twelfth grade, she stopped going to church and wouldn’t even pray with me. Whenever I prayed for her, I burst into tears. But remembering the parable of the lost sheep, I was filled with hope and not despair.

Many years have passed and she is now a junior in college. In March of 2018, Pastor Caleb discussed the issue of youth growing cold in their faith and suggested that parents should try to communicate with (and perhaps apologize to) their children. That afternoon I shared Caleb’s message with my daughter and apologized to her. For the first time she said to me “mom, people change and one day I will go back to church.” Praise the Lord, if it weren’t for the hope of Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t dare share the message with her. I trust that my faith in God will not return empty. ◆

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Jesus is My Beloved – Jeannie Hsiao, 4S Campus

I am Christ’s bride. Since 2001, like Mary, I regularly come before the feet of Jesus, getting close and listening to His words. At first, I felt very little, but after a month I fell in love with Jesus. We have many intimate conversations. I’m madly in love with Jesus, and similar to a romantic relationship, I’m always thinking about Him.

I’m wearing a ring which was purchased in Israel; on it are inscribed the Hebrew words, “My Beloved is mine and I am His.” We belong to Jesus and He is our fiancé. He has prepared a place for us and one day we will go there.

I’m in love with Him, and it is my greatest hope that one day He will come to marry me. I’ll wait until the horn sounds before Jesus returns. Until then, I’ll prepare my heart with purity and cleanliness. ◆

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Jesus is My Shepherd – Jonas Diu, Cantonese

Matthew 18 has the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus is the shepherd, and I was once the lost sheep. My life demonstrates that the parable is true.

Growing up I didn’t communicate much with my parents, and I was free to develop like a wild plant.

I came to the U.S. when I was 18 years old and began to occupy my time with parties, drinking, and dating (which I thought would lead to love). I abused alcohol and drugs to numb myself. When I saw those around me move forward in life, I quickly decided to make acquiring money the purpose of my life. I took the easier path of growing marijuana. Life became a mess as I would wake up to find myself rolling cigarettes rather than brushing my teeth. This was further compounded by my declining memory. Living so far away from family and only with “friends” who used each other, I suffered greatly from unstable emotions. It felt like I was alone and stranded in the middle of the dark ocean.

It seemed like my life was in a dead end, but as the saying goes “the end of man is the beginning of God.” My brother is a pastor. He planted the seeds of the gospel when I was very young. One day I was listening to some New Age meditation but remembered that God wouldn’t appreciate it since the Bible forbids it. I decided to listen to my brother’s church service instead. As I listened, I cried and heard God say to me that He had never left me, even as I sinned.

Since that day, Jesus found me. My life was never the same again. I got married and found a job – I was freed. And most importantly, I have decided to follow Jesus all my life! ◆

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Jesus is the One I Lean On – Tina Xiang, 4S Campus

I was baptized on December 25, 2012. Since that time, Jesus has become the one who I lean on. Whenever I pray during difficult times, God helps me.

I was a very sensitive person who got hurts easily and often got upset with my mother-in-law. We used to keep a respectful distance and had mutual complaints. Due to our strong personalities, neither of us submitted to the other and communication broke down. We’ve lived with each other for decades and although our relationship appeared normal, my heart was filled with fear and bitterness. Since becoming a Christian, God has changed both of us, making us more humble and correcting a lot of our problems. Now we really love and care for each other. We fully support Chao’s ministry at church so that he can proceed without any worries. The three of us have become great friends, often sharing with and encouraging each other. It seems that Jesus has become the one who our entire family leans on.

Now when I receive complaints, I am not as sensitive, and I don’t become angry. I understand that I am not a perfect person. Everyday I pray that God gives me opportunities to share the gospel, help others, and to fulfill my role in God’s kingdom. ◆

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Jesus Is My Sun – Christiana Sung, 4S Youth

Jesus is my sun. Because He loves me, my heart is full to the brim with love every day. Jesus gives me warmth and light, so that I can weather even the coldest winters. I am a little patch of grass; the more sunshine I get, the better I grow. When I mature, I will be a sunflower, turning towards the sun every day and basking in Jesus’s glory, inspiring those around me to realize the sun’s existence as well. Jesus loves me infinitely and unconditionally, and I return his love as much as I can. ◆

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Zoe Xu, Main Youth

Jesus is many things to many people; to the Muslims and Jews, he is only a prophet and a good teacher, to the Bahá’ís, he is a manifestation of God. However, for us, Jesus is the only Son of God, the Messiah, and our connection to God. He is the sacrifice that saved us. We believe that through Him, and only Him, can we finally achieve redemption. Our aim, then, is to obey Him, expand the kingdom of God, and forge a personal connection with Him. Therefore, to me, and hopefully all of us, Jesus is a confidant, a trusted friend, and the only savior. ◆

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Jesus Is My Lighthouse – Crystal Sung, 4S Youth

Often we don’t feel God’s presence or realize his impact on their lives. But for me, I’ve learned that God has always been a guiding hand in my life.

I didn’t always feel that way. I used to never give any thought to religion because I was loved and successful, I had everything I wanted, and I simply didn’t have any interest in religion.

But I increasingly found myself attacked for my beliefs that tended to be more conservative politically. Most memorably, at debate camp at Dartmouth over the summer, I was called a “bigot” by a boy for being against abortion. Consequently, as I questioned the value system I had always taken for granted, I realized that I didn’t really understand the foundation all my beliefs centered around. I began to feel an urge to understand my religion.

I started making a conscious effort to research certain issues like gay marriage so that I could defend my faith against anyone who tried to attack it. I found that the more I searched, the more was revealed to me, through not only information but also experience. God’s guidance has also been very clear to me in navigating through life. No matter what drama I’m swept into or hard decision I have to make, he has always answered with even more opportunities. I know that wherever I go in life, it won’t just be a sink or swim scenario because, now that I actively search for Him in all things and as long as I keep my eyes on Him, God is my leader and protector. ◆

[1]The gospel of Matthew, Ch. 16 v 13-20.

[2]These people are called Jesus-mythicists, one popular adherent is Richard Carrier.

[3]I Corinthians is dated to 55 AD, a mere 22 years after the resurrection. Note chapter 15 specifically.

[4]BM Metzger & BD Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament, 4th ed. Oxford University Press, 2005, 51, 126.

[5]Video clip link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=43mDuIN5-ww