Graceland 2019-04-21

“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)

Download Full Version in PDF

Dear brothers and sisters:

The cold winter finally passed, and the abundant rain nourished the dry land, making the earth full of vitality everywhere. Life is like the seasons. Have you experienced the harsh winter? The rain has passed, and you have received the blessings of God and even a revival? The difficulties and trials in life are the good intentions of God. Let us experience more of His great love, faithfulness, and presence, so that we can build stronger relationships with God and often bathe in the spring breeze of His Grace.

 

Bathing in Spring Breeze

 

Understanding God’s Will and

Experiencing God’s Love Through Trials

By Rev. Jeff Huang, TVC Pastor

 

“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5)

When our older daughter was two years old, we found out that she was not able to straighten her left thumb and a simple corrective surgery was recommended by her doctor. As simple as it might be, it was still a surgery for a young child. We were very nervous, especially after hearing an account of someone’s bad surgical experience. Nevertheless, we decided to go for the procedure because it would benefit our daughter’s future well-being. Thank God, the surgery went really well.

This was definitely a trial for me, but I couldn’t decipher the connection between this event and my faith in God. SoIdid what was taught by James. I asked God for wisdom, and God helped me see three things that I needed to take to my heart:

  1. God loves me. He enjoys it when I have a close relationship with Him.

 When I asked God for wisdom, the first thing He reminded me of was how I felt when I took my daughter to the doctor’s, and how she sat on my lap and played with me as we waited for the doctor. Since she was pretty much a Mommy’s girl at the time, I really relished such moments of closeness with her. Through this encounter, God revealed to me that He loves me as much as I love my daughter, and He enjoys my closeness to Him as much as I enjoy my daughter’s closeness to me.

  1. God loves me. He will never let me suffer in vain.

The second thing God reminded me of was how my daughter cried in fear as I took her into the operating room. I was not sure if she understood that she was about to have surgery and that such a seemingly scary and painful procedure was in fact arranged because of my love for her. Her doctor did inform us about other corrective alternatives, but, for a child at such a tender age, such a surgical procedure was actually the least painful and the most effective.

Because of my love for my daughter, I would never let her go through pain and suffering for no reason. The surgery was not intended to harm her, but rather to help her. God made me come to the realization that He loves me so much that He, also, would never let me go through pain and suffering in vain. Whether I understand it or not at the time, whatever God allows to happen is always the least painful and the most beneficial for me.

  1. God loves me. He works for the good of me in all things, often without my knowledge.

The third thing that God reminded me of was the many things I had to take care of behind the scenes in order for the surgery to take place. I made tons of phone calls, completed numerous paperwork, and had to juggle my schedule constantly. I did all these things without my daughter’s knowledge. Nevertheless, they were all manifestations of my love for her.

God made me realize that He demonstrates His love for me in the exact same way and He has done so much for me behind the scenes! Even though I was neither aware of it nor able to see Him in action, my ignorance does not mean that what He has done for the good of me has been non-existent.

Through my daughter’s surgery, God had allowed me to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of His love for me. At the same time, He made me realize the lack of faith on my part, for I was often buried in my busy schedule and neglected to set aside time just to be close to Him. I also complained in the past about the pain and suffering that were thrown my way, and now I know that God must have allowed them to happen for a good reason. God has done so many things for the good of me despite my ignorance, because He loves me. Thank you, God! Thank you for letting me experience you through trials like this. Thank you for filling me with the wonders of your wisdom and the richness of your love. Thank you for helping me grow! ◆

——————————————————————————————–

On My Career Journey,

Jesus Weathers Us Through the Storm!

By Jerry Meng, Main Campus

 

Looking back on my career, [I can see that] 2018 was a very special year. I came to the United States from China in 1987. After graduation, I worked in different pharmaceutical companies in Southern California. I was baptized as a Christian, and I met Peggy and got married. Thanks for God’s grace in my career, I had successfully developed new medicine for the targeted treatment of lung cancer during my career at Pfizer. I also received the 38th Annual National Inventor of the Year Award of the United States. Later, at the invitation of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education, I visited China several times for exchanging knowledge and exploring business opportunities. I took my expertise to China to start a joint venture business.

We established a company in Shanghai, mainly engaging in nutraceutical botanical products that also have health benefits. The company’s new product, garlic extract solid beverage, was originally planned to be officially launched on July 16, 2018. However, on the same day, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau took criminal enforcement measures against the chairman of the parent company on suspicion of illegal financial activities. The bureau also ceased the operations of the subsidiary that I worked for. Although I had nothing to do with the case, I was restricted from leaving the country in order to cooperate with the investigation. I had total freedom in China but could not return to the United States. The next day, I immediately contacted my wife and we prayed together for God’s care and guidance.

Although we were separated by the Pacific Ocean, we deeply felt that God was with us. During this long period of constant communication with police officers in hopes that they would lift my exit ban, Peggy gave me spiritual encouragement and support from beginning to end. We had not complained about this situation. I trusted that God allowed this incident to happen to me in His good intentions for my life. It was like the Footprints on the beach, with our trust in God, we let Him carry us as we walked through the sandy beach. During this time, we shared scriptures and hymns with each other. God gave me peace in my heart. Peggy also asked the pastors, her closest friend, and some brothers and sisters of the Cantonese fellowship to pray for us. Brothers and sisters of the Shanghai Industry and Commerce Fellowship also express their caring and prayed faithfully for my predicament. God’s work is great, full of honor and majesty. He can make everything work for each other and benefit those who love Him. In the kingdom of God, the love of brothers and sisters has no boundaries and we feel the grace of God 24/7. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) This verse was constantly in my heart at that time. After over 6 months, with God’s mercy, I finally flew back to the United States on January 22th 2019 to reunite with my family.

Looking back at those months of uncertainty, I tried every reason to appeal, but it was like a stone sinking into the deep sea. The only thing I could do was to read the Bible and prayed to God. Thankfully, with God’s provision, I was able to attend Sunday worship, fellowship activities and brothers’ Bible study in Shanghai. The Holy Spirit filled me and enabled me to focus on God, not on my circumstances. I look at the hardships in my life with a peaceful attitude. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:12) With a new year upon us, we must seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and let the Holy Spirit guide the path ahead of us. ◆

——————————————————————————————–

In the Dark Valley of Life,

God’s Grace is Sufficient!

By Peggy Meng, Main Campus

 

On July 13, 2018, my younger son, my family in Hong Kong (HK) and I were waiting with excitement to pick up my husband, Jerry, at the airport for him to spend a long weekend with us in HK. All of a sudden, I got a WeChat message from him that he was banned from leaving the Shanghai airport when he went through the China custom. My heart sank and wondered if it was an identity theft problem. It must be a mistake!  Right away, I went into the bedroom, knelt down, and prayed for God’s guidance and protection.

July 15, Sunday, I attended service at my brother’s church in HK.  The first hymn that day was “Do Not Be Afraid in Any Circumstances” (Meaning of the title of the hymn, not the actual name of the hymn). It seemed that God spoke to me through the lyrics.  I wept and thanked Him in my heart for comforting me at that moment!

There was no news during the weekend. Finally, on July 17, Jerry told me what had happened. During the months that I didn’t know when Jerry would be able to come home from China, God comforted me with His precious Words in the Bible, special prayers from Pastor Lam and Pastor Wanda, spiritual messages and encouragement from my best friend and dear sister in Christ in Los Angeles, my own devotion through Quiet Time, and prayer support from a handful of brothers and sisters from the Cantonese congregation. God is omniscient! Before this incident happened, He motivated me to start attending BSF in 2017, which helped me to grow deeper in His Word and have a stronger spiritual foundation.  I also listened online many heart touching hymns that reminded me God loves me and will never forsake me!  He’s there for me even though I don’t feel it. Job 42:5: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” If it had been my old self, I would have been so anxious that I couldn’t sleep night after night. But this time, God gave me the strength to handle this ordeal with peace in my heart. Through frequent phone conversations with Jerry, we shared scriptures and prayed together. We both felt that during this challenging time, our spiritual life matured and I could feel that the Holy Spirit was with Jerry when he prayed. Reading books written by people with deep faith also gave me a great deal of encouragement. A couple of them that I read during those months were: He Cares for You by Corrie Ten Boom and Unshakable Hope: Promises of God by Max Lucado. In the late, quiet nights, I sometimes sang a few hymns and sometimes cried out in tears for God’s mercy to bring Jerry home safely soon.

While we were waiting for more than 6 months, God trained our patience and faith. He has His purpose on our life and He knows what’s best for us.  God used different people and close relatives to help Jerry during those months. There were ups and downs during the process, but God was alongside with us every step of the way. “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13) “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4) Finally, Jerry got home safely on January 22, 2019.

We don’t deserve His grace, but He is merciful. After this unusual trial in our life, the triangle relationship between God, Jerry, and me is stronger. God’s grace is sufficient! ◆

——————————————————————————————–

Lord’s love – A Breath of Spring Breeze

By Grace Fellowship

 

In the wake of dawn, pray in unity, praise His grace,

The Holy Spirit whispers like a breath of spring breeze.

 

Sharing homemade foods of love, from the stomach to the soul,

Befriended in the Lord’s love like a breath of spring breeze.

 

Brother Bao Lung’s cello croons high and low,

Worship sings like a breath of spring breeze.

 

Serving at church and in the community, short-term mission or long,

Testimonies encourage the most, refreshing like a breath of spring breeze.

 

God’s Word, remaining earnest and tireless,

Nurtures our soul like a breath of spring breeze.

 

The love of the Heavenly Father imbues our caring words,

Grace pouring out like a breath of spring breeze.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Weaving in Spring Breeze

By Chuck and Hui-Chuan Chang, 4S Campus

Interviewed by Lilly Liou

Since May 2015, for more than a year, Chuck had been courageously and painfully struggling with his illness. At the time, after a colonoscopy detected cancer cells, the doctor decided to cut off a small section of his colon through surgery. Three days later, Chuck suffered severe abdominal pain, which continued for several days. The doctor insisted that the pain was caused by bloating, but it turned out to be perforation caused by the surgery. As a result, Chuck’s abdomen was full of debris and waste water, which led to peritonitis. So the doctor decided to do another operation to clean up Chuck’s belly. After this surgery, the nursing staff had to inject in Chuck two strongest antibiotics every day, install an artificial anus in him, and insert four tubes in his abdomen to continue to remove the waste water.

Chuck’s condition was not optimistic. He was moved to the ICU because all of his organs retained water; the functioning of his heart and lungs was abnormal. During the most difficult day, Hui-Chuan thought of making phone calls, but to whom should she call? How to call for help?  Suddenly, she remembered that the head nurse on the first floor once gave her own mobile phone number to her. Alone she waited through the night until the next morning, a Sunday. She placed the call and was surprised that the head nurse answered her call and told her that the lead physician would be returning from vacationing in India, and that she would get in touch with him about the case but that she could not guarantee that he would look in on Chuck. The very next day, however, the lead physician visited Chuck and voluntarily took over Chuck’s healing.

Nevertheless, Chuck’s progress was very slow; the new concern was that if the antibiotic didn’t work, Chuck might suffer septicemia.  The indicators fluctuated between high and low, and in order to remove waste water, the nursing staff installed as many as five bags on Chuck at one time, a record-breaking number for the hospital, according to the doctor. I asked Hui-Chuan whether she thought of hoping. She said that, at the time, she really couldn’t think of the future. She merely concentrated on the daily changes in Chuck’s condition. When feeling helpless, she would cry out, “Dear God, please help Chuck!” She and Chuck often prayed and sang hymns together, tears smearing their faces.  They also made up a song to encourage each other. During Chuck’s illness, according to Hui-Chuan, more than a hundred brothers and sisters in Christ visited Chuck and kept her company. She would not have survived during Chuck’s three-month long hospital confinement, had it not for the pastors, brothers and sisters who fasted and prayed for them.

Having experienced these tribulations, Chuck and Hiu-Chuan are now examining their lives from a different perspective. No longer do they take everything seriously. Instead, they are more relaxed. The painful experience enables them to cherish the peace they have today and to immerse in joyfulness.

Their hearts are filled with gratitude for the kindness and helping hands that were extended to them when they felt helpless – the pastors’ caring, the food sent by brothers and sisters, as well as the health care provided by nurses, the head nurse, and the doctors.

Chuck and Hui-Chuan had decided not to sue the doctor who initially misdiagnosed Chuck’s illness. Although they suffered an enormous ordeal and spent a great deal of money, fortunately Chuck recovered. Hui-Chuan said that Chuck’s recovery had to do with the fact that there was no bitterness in Chuck’s heart. This was why they chose to forgive and bless the doctor.

It’s hard to forget this couple’s gentle smiles. The severe winter in their lives is now far from them. And they are embracing the brocade in spring breeze, weaving the brocade of the liveliness of life, in which the flowers of colorful joyfulness are in bloom. ◆

——————————————————————————————–

This section can be put into two boxes or frames:

Recently, my daughter has often asked me for advice in deciding what college and major to choose. I always tell her that all of her choices will be good, that any train will take her to a destination, albeit through different places. When she’s in a good mood, she agrees. When she’s down, she thinks I’m just dismissing her.

In fact, this is analogous to my spiritual life. Since becoming a Christian, my journey has not suddenly become easy; in fact, I’ve had to make more hard decisions than ever — regarding health, career, and beyond. But when I think of how I’m already on the train to heaven, walking with God is just like the spring breeze. ~ Yuwei Chiu, 4S

  • *                        *

Since becoming a Christian, I’ve put God first as the true head of the household. This has brought me constant joy: listening to God in all that I do, learning from His Word, and putting others first. Through all these things I have learned to forgive and let go of external pressure, resentment, and upset. I have come to be joyful every day. My heart overflows with God’s love. ~ Mrs. Ma, 4S

——————————————————————————————–

A Beautiful Testimony

By Sophia Zheng, TVC

It was barely a month after we moved to Lake Elsinore when our three-year-old son, Timothy, suffered a bone fracture while playing. This incident caused a lot of anxiety for my husband and me. We woke up very early one day, said our prayers, and decided to count the blessings we received in the past year in spite of the distress:

  1. The two of us were finally reunited after 5 years of separation and can now hold onto each other for support in raising our family and coping with the many challenges of life.

This was a prayer well answered. Since my husband wasn’t there all those years, I felt like a “single” mom forced to shoulder the burden of rearing the growing children all alone. I had prayed to God that I would give up all the riches in the world as long as my family could stay together. God answered my prayer in a way that I could never have imagined. After going through a few twists and turns, my husband was eventually able to let go of his career in mainland China and join us here in the States.

  1. My spiritual life has grown tremendously.

I was baptized five years ago and used to go to a church when I was in Hong Kong. However, I would often skip church whenever “things” came up. When I did go to church, I found myself easily disturbed by the people that seemed “disagreeable” to me.  Eventually, I stopped going to church altogether. At the same time, I felt a desire to continue to learn the truth from the Bible; therefore, I readily accepted an invitation for Bible study from a sister I met in the park who claimed to be a Christian. I was so excited and looked forward to the Bible study every day until a brother told me not to share what I learned from my “Bible study” with my husband.  Alarmed by his remarks, I did some research online. To my dismay, I found out that unknowingly, I had associated myself with cult members from The Church of Almighty God. Looking back, I realized that I almost fell prey to the devil since I stopped going to church.

Our pace has slowed down quite a bit since we came to the States; therefore, going to church on Sundays became one of the most important rituals in our lives. We are very grateful that God  led us to the Temecula campus of CBCSD when we moved from Fontana to Lake Elsinore. Since we found the church through an online search and didn’t know anybody, we were a little uneasy. But the moment we stepped into the church, we felt immediately at home. We have really enjoyed and benefited from the biblical sermons, and the kids love coming to Sunday school so much that they ask me every day when they can go to church again. We have signed up to prepare and bring snacks for fellowship meetings, and are really happy that we can be of service to brothers and sisters. In addition to attending fellowship meetings regularly, I was able to set aside more time doing my own devotion. I would read the Bible every day and train myself to get into the habit of praying. I also remind myself to seek God’s will instead of my own will when things come up. In the past, I would only think of praying when I was at the end of my rope and even then I would expect God to make things happen in the way I wanted. Now, especially after going through some of the recent challenges, I have learned to pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. I would pray to God before I take any actions. I would seek and obey God’s will. I would count my blessings and give thanks to God.

As described above, what we have experienced since we came to the States were all from God’s loving grace. From a worldly perspective, what we’ve gone through may seem rather pointless, but from God’s perspective, the growth and maturity we’ve gained in our spiritual lives has an eternal meaning. I also believe that our paths will be straight wherever we go, as long as we repent, stay close to God and live as like God’s children. This is all because God loves us, and His grace is sufficient for us!◆

——————————————————————————————–

Bible Verses (as presented in the Chinese Version):

  • They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:23)
  • Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalms 103:13)
  • Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:3)

——————————————————————————————–

Latest Updates:

The County has delayed the tentative date for the public hearing from March to June.  We are planning to wrap up the preparation work by end of April.

Please continue to pray for the preparation work and the progress of the project.