archives

Tim Tseng

I'm Pastor of English Ministry at Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church (San Jose, CA), independent scholar and theological educator.
Tim Tseng has written 282 posts for Canaan English Ministry

Sermon Summary • Feb 12, 2017

Sermon Summary
Mark 2:1-12 • Pastor Chris Liu

In Mark 2:1-12, we see 4 friends go out of their way to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Since they couldn’t get into the house that Jesus was at because it was too full of people, they went up onto the roof, made a hole, and lowered their paralyzed friend down to Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith in Him, He told the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. These friends and the paralyzed man were expecting Jesus to physically heal him, but Jesus gave him something greater. He saved forgave his sins and saved his soul.

Some scribes were present and questioned how Jesus could forgive someone’s sin. To them, only God could forgive sins, so in a sense, Jesus was claiming to be God. That was blasphemous to them. But, Jesus proved that He has authority to forgive sins by physically healing this paralyzed man as well. He did what the scribes thought was more difficult (healing a paralyzed man) and showed that He has power and authority to heal and to forgive.

There are two things I wanted us to learn from this passage. First, Jesus is more than a miracle worker. While Jesus does do some pretty amazing miracles and heals people physically, His ministry was about calling people to repent and believe that He is the Messiah. It is important for us to see Jesus as our Savior and not just a miracle worker because it changes how we perceive Him.

If Jesus is just a miracle worker, than we only call on Him when we need help. He becomes our personal genie and our servant. But, if we see Jesus as our Messiah and Savior, then the opposite is true. We serve God, not the other way around. Our lives belong to Him. We live our lives for God and will strive to do what He desires us to do.

The second thing I wanted us to learn is to have the same heart as these four friends had. Although they only saw Jesus as a miracle worker, they went above and beyond to make sure their friend met Jesus. They only had a partial view of Jesus, but had faith in Him. We, have a more full view of Jesus, and so we should do the same is going above and beyond to bring others to Christ. We have people in our lives that don’t yet know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. What are we doing to make sure we bring them to Him. Let’s have boldness and not give up in sharing the Good News of God’s love with them.

Sermon Summary • Feb. 5, 2017

Sermon Summary • Feb 5, 2017
Mark 1:35-39 • Pastor Tim Tseng

KEY POINT: Prayer is the prelude to your greater purpose!

In today’s scripture, Jesus got up in the morning, while it was dark, and prayed in a solitary place (v 35). Was he trying to get away? After all, the day before, he had been preaching, healing, driving our demons all day and all night long in the town of Capernaum (v 34).

I imagine that he might have felt exhausted by attending to and serving so many people. I often feel spiritually and physically drained when I connect with people constantly. So getting up early makes sense to me. No one else is up. I can be alone with God and recharge. Even though the bible doesn’t speak clearly here, Jesus likely woke up early to get closer to God and to recharge.

But let’s take a closer look at this text. If we ignore the rest of the passage we may think that prayer is only about feeling better. So why did Jesus really get up so early to pray?

The key lesson for us is this: Prayer prepares us to enlarge our calling. That is, prayer helps us discern our true purpose and mission in life.

In verses 36-37, Simon and his companions found Jesus and exclaimed “everyone is looking for you!” In the parallel story in Luke 4:42, “The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.” Jesus was doing great things for the people of Capernaum, so everyone wanted him to stay.

But staying in Capernaum was not what God wanted. Jesus responded that his purpose was to preach the good news in nearby villages, too (v 38). During his morning prayer, God made clear to him that his mission extended to other towns in Galilee and Judea. Without this time alone with God, Jesus might have been tempted to stay in Capernaum where he was needed. But prayer helped Jesus affirm that God had bigger plans for him.

What can we learn from this?

First, without prayer, it is easy to fall prey to peer pressure. Everyone wants you to do this or that. Teachers and parents want you to do so many things to succeed in your studies. Young adults face the pressure of achieving success in order to be validated as adults. But peer pressure distracts us from the most important questions in our life: What is God calling you to be? What is God calling you to do?  Where is God calling you to serve?

Second, without this type of prayer, we are tempted to domesticate Jesus. Like the people of Capernaum, we want Jesus all to ourselves. We want him to benefit us while ignoring God’s bigger picture. For example, if parents don’t connect to God’s bigger purpose, we’ll only seek to protect our kids from the world. We forget that God especially wants us to prepare our kids to engage the world that Jesus came to save.

Third, prayer alone with God helps us clear our minds and souls so that his will can come first in our lives. Time alone with God helps us battle the darkness around us and allows us see clearly the light that will wins the day.

In the end, time alone with God prepares us for a bigger purpose in our lives. Without it, I would have given up on my doctoral studies just to meet the needs of my home church in Brooklyn and family. But after much time alone with God, it was clear to me that he wanted me to be a witness in the academic world, an “other” village that also needed Christ! So I gave up my position as a pastor, became a seminary professor, and left my extended family in New York City. And it has been good! So, will you open you minds and hearts and lives to God’s bigger purpose in your life? Then go to God alone and pray like Jesus did!

Sermon Summary • Jan 22, 2017

Sermon Summary (Jan 22, 2017)
Mark 1:21-34 • Pastor Chris Liu

In Mark 1:21-34, we see Jesus do some pretty amazing things, and the people who witnessed it were astonished (astounded, overwhelmed). These things revealed that He has authority and power that no one else had seen or experienced before. So what did he do?

First, Jesus taught with authority. While the scribes taught biblical truth, they could only reference and quote other scribes and teachers. But, when Jesus taught, he would say this: “You have heard it say, but I tell you…” Jesus didn’t need to quote others and reference other teachings. He taught as if God was telling people what they should hear and know.

Another way Jesus taught differently than the scribes (and more so the pharisees), was that the Pharisees would often “teach” for the sake of showing how holy and righteous they were. They would condemn others and lift themselves up. But Jesus didn’t do that. His purpose in teaching was always to drive people closer to God.

For us, we might not be pastors or teachers, but God has also given us authority to share our faith with that same power. Because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we should be bold and confident in telling our story and what we know about God to others. We should share the Good News with authority.

Secondly, Jesus showed his power and authority over demons. While Jesus was teaching in the Synagogue, a man with an unclean spirit spoke out against Him. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and told it to come out of the man, which it did.

While those of us who are saved cannot be possessed by an unclean spirit, we still struggle with temptations and addictions. These addictions act as chains that keep us from growing in our faith and knowing God deeper. But, know that Jesus has the power to break those chains. He can free us from our addictions. It takes time, hard work, and accountability, but ultimately God can change our hearts and turn it back to Him.

Finally, Jesus showed authority and power over sickness and disease. After teaching in the synagogue, He went to Simon Peter’s home where he learned that Peter’s mother-in-law was ill with a bad fever. Jesus immediately healed her. After that, many people from the town came to the home to be healed by Jesus.

While Jesus has the power to heal sicknesses and diseases, this wasn’t His primary ministry. He didn’t go out of His way to seek those who were sick, but the sick came to Him. And when He saw them, He had compassion on them, and healed them. But, Jesus’ main mission was to call people to repent and believe. And this is what we should focus on too.

Know that Jesus wants to use you and gives you authority to teach/preach/tell others the good news. Know that He gives you power to overcome your addictions. And know that He also has the power to heal, but ultimately desires people to repent and turn to Him.

Sermon Summary • Jan 15, 2017

Mark 1:16-20 • Pastor Tim Tseng

“The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” With this bold announcement (verse 15), Jesus now recruits his disciples. When Jesus comes calling, he interrupts and disrupts us, just as he did to Simon, Andrew, James and John.

These four dudes were fishermen. It was a difficult life. They had to get up early every morning in hopes of catching enough to sell and for their families to survive. Yet, Jesus interrupts and invites them to become disciples. And, surprisingly, they follow him – immediately (v 16-18(.

We also discover that Jesus disrupts comfortable relationships, family expectations, and familiar obligations. A little later, James and John leave their father behind in the boat to follow Jesus (v 19-20).

Many Asian Americans find it very difficult to allow anyone to disrupt our family life. There is a feeling of guilt and shame when it feels like we are abandoning our parents or children. It’s also hard to let anyone interrupt our routines, our personal goals, drive for achievement, projects, or things we are engrossed in.

Yet, if we have not been interrupted or disrupted by Jesus, if we have not had to make the difficult decision to follow him, then we may not have actually heard the gospel. Divine interruptions and disruptions is always the beginning of authentic discipleship.

Now, we might hesitate in our response to him. In contrast, the four dudes did not hesitate to leave everything behind to follow Jesus. Why?

First, their lives were going nowhere. In fact, life under the current Jewish and Roman leaders was increasingly bankrupt. It’s difficult for us, who lived in such a rich nation, to see how imprisoned we are to sin in this corrupt world. But the disciples saw it. And despite the evidence of beauty and goodness in God’s creation, the world was and is still fallen.

Second, they saw a better way to live in Jesus. The kingdom of God was coming and Jesus was leading the spiritual conquest of this fallen world.

Third, they were given their real purpose in life. They left their vocation and family behind, but were given a new vocation and family. As fishers of men, disciple-makers, they were not completely erasing their past, but re-purposing it so that they could be what God intended them to be.

In sum, the disciples’ response to Jesus shows us what repentance looks like. Disruption and interruption, leaving the old behind, and following Jesus into his kingdom. Discipleship is the most difficult decision anyone can make. But it is also the most important and rewarding. Not just for us, but for the sake of God’s world.

Jesus is calls us to become disciples now. The invitation is all of us – young and old, even those of us who have grown up in the church or have professed to be Christians. Are you ready to set sail with him to become fishers of people?

Sermon Summary • Jan 8, 2017

Mark 1:9-15 • Pastor Chris Liu 

Certain athletes are very particular in how they prepare themselves before a game. They will go through a certain routine that helps them focus on the task ahead of them. Jesus, at the start of His ministry, chose to do a couple of things to help Him prepare for His ministry here on earth.

The very first thing Jesus did was to get baptized. Jesus did not have to get baptized, but He chose to do it for a couple of reasons. First, He wanted to affirm the message that John the Baptist was preaching. John was proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah and Jesus agreed that He was The One. His baptism was a public announcement of who He was. The second reason Jesus got baptized was to show that God also affirmed His calling and that He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t have the Holy Spirit in Him already, but it was an audial and visual affirmation. A third reason for his baptism was to connect with us as humans. He was setting the example of what we should do when we turn our lives over to God. Jesus was relating to us as humans.

The second thing that Jesus did was to go into the wilderness to prepare His heart and mind for the task ahead. Jesus knew that this ministry was going to be difficult. He knew that people would not understand Him, that people will reject Him, and that ultimately, He would have to suffer and die. He went away by Himself to prepare Himself.

While He was there, the devil appeared to tempt Him and try and take Him off course. In the other gospel books, we see the devil tempt Him in 3 different ways. However, Mark, focuses on the 40 days instead of giving specific examples. I believe that it was a constant temptation that Jesus had to endure. However, Jesus was able to overcome those temptations and angels came to minister to Him.

In the same way, whenever God calls us to serve Him, the devil may also show up to try and tempt us and take us off course. He will try to lie to us and get us to doubt our calling, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can resit temptation and do the things that God has called us to do. Know that whatever God is calling you to do, that He will give you the means to do it.

Finally, Jesus starts His ministry and calls people to “repent and believe in the gospel.” For those of you who have not yet given your life over to Christ, I urge you to repent and believe in the Good News that God has died for your sins. For those who have committed your lives to Christ, I urge you to be baptized (if you have not already done so) and to be true disciples who are growing and serving God in whatever He is calling you to do.

Sermon Summary • Jan 1, 2017

Happy New Year everyone! We are starting a new sermon series and approach this year. Our theme is disciple-making. We’re be looking at the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark as our model of being and making disciples. Each Sunday – until Advent – we will preach through a passage from Mark. Please preview each Sunday’s verses and let Pastors Chris or me know if you have any questions, illustrations, or ideas for our sermons.

Mark 1:1-8 • January 1, 2017
Tim Tseng

If I could re-preach last Sunday’s message, here is what I would say:

1. The bad news. We live in the wilderness of doomed quests. Whether it is a quest for God without the church (the individualist), the quest for community without God (the socially dependent), or the quest for church leadership without spiritual maturity (the power hungry), all our quests will lead to failure. This is what Israel discovered in their failure to enter the Promised Land and during the Babylonian Captivity. Ultimately, their quests led to idolatry (worshiping anything other than God), disobedience, and its consequence.

2. The good news. Scripture shows us that life isn’t about our quests anyway. It’s about God’s quest for us. Mark 1:2-3 are quotes from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:4, which promises that a voice in the wilderness, a messenger, will announce that God is coming to his people directly. John the Baptist is calling out to us – requesting that we stop our personal quests – and turn our attention to God, who is looking for us and coming to us. Though John dressed and lived like the prophet Elijah, we ought to resist the temptation to ignore him. Rather, let us pay closer attention to his message!

3. The greater news. God not only seeks us, but he invites us to a new quest. John urges the people of Israel to receive the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in the Jordan River. Just as Israel entered the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan, we too can join God’s quest. Repentance is turning away from doomed quests in the wilderness. Forgiveness happens when God overlooks idolatry and sin so we can freely join his people into the new Promised Land.

4. The best news. We can join Jesus’ spiritual conquest over the powers of sin and evil in this world. John was not the Messiah, but he points to Jesus, whose Hebrew name is Joshua. The new Joshua will provide the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And he will, as we shall see, reconquer fallen creation by driving out demonic forces, healing the sick, and bringing in the Kingdom of God. We are invited to join his team and his quest. And the kicker is this: when we join Jesus’ conquest team, we will at last find our true quest in life! Will you join? Will you re-commit your life to Jesus and his quest?

Sermon Summary: God is Holy (Oct 9, 2016)

Last Sunday’s Sermon Summary • God is Holy (Psalm 99)
Tim Tseng • October 9, 2016

1. The typical narratives about the Christian God:

Either an angry God who can’t stand the sight of us or a Teddy Bear God who doesn’t judge or care about what we do. Both of these narratives are extreme.

Most of the times we think of Jesus as always gentle and loving. But, this is also not entirely true. Jesus also speaks of wrath, judgment, and condemnation (see John 3:36; 5:28-29; Matthew 12:36-37; 16:27).

2. A wrathful God, properly understood, can be a good thing.

As mid-twentieth century theologian H. Richard Niebuhr (Yale) once wrote: “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

But let’s not misunderstand: God’s anger and wrath is NOT what is essential about God. They are attributes – not essential to God’s nature. Love and Holiness are essential to who God is. And if God is essentially love and holiness, this helps us get a clearer understanding of God’s wrath.

It helps to distinguish “passions” and “pathos.” Passions are emotions that wax and wanes, feelings that infatuated young lovers have. Wrath, if seen as a passion, would be like a reckless fit of rage by someone has lost all reason and control. But that’s not God’s wrath. In the bible, God’s wrath is like “pathos” – a deep, consistent opposition to sin and evil, motivated by a desire for the good of his people. It is a determination to make things right. A holy God has a pathos for what is good and just for his creation.

3. God is Holy. In Psalm 99, we get a good picture of God’s holiness:

— A holy God is exalted over all the nations (verses 1-3). God is ruler of all the nations and creation, not just Israel’s God. Only an exalted God can judge all people.

— A holy God is a king who loves justice, equity, and righteousness (4-5). If God’s holiness means that he loves justice and equity, what does that mean for us?

— A holy God has a parent-like relationship with his people (6-9). He listens to and speaks to his people, he provides standards, sets direction, and metes out punishment yet forgives. A holy God is like a parent who raises her children with deep care.

4. The Impact of God’s Holiness:

To believers, God is a consuming fire. He loves us so much that he longs for us to be pure. He works tirelessly to make us pure. God is against sin and therefore for humans. God is against sin because he is for me, because sin destroys. Therefore, God is not indifferent to sin and THAT IS GOOD. God doesn’t make me feel bad or shame me, not does he use guilt or fear. His method of changing us is through his holy love that burns the dross of sin out of our lives. His Spirit awakens an awareness within us to repent and change. So we don’t really want a God who doesn’t care.

God’s holiness necessitates hell for those who choose to reject him. C.S. Lewis said that it is not a question of God sending us to hell. In each of us there is a wall that separates us from God and this wall grows taller as we make decisions to reject him and his love. In other words, people who choose a life unshaped by God’s love and purpose will drink judgment upon themselves – that is what hell is.

5. Soul-training: Creating Margins [“setting apart” life for God]

  • Get up ten minutes earlier, create a space for silence before you begin your day.
  • Cut out unnecessary entertainment activities.
  • Scale back some of your commitments – what are essential?
  • Reduce some activities that you do too frequently – e.g., family visits and celebrations, hanging out with certain friends – without cutting off relationships.

Sermon Summary: God is Love (Oct 2, 2016)

Sermon Summary • God is Love (Matthew 9:9-13)
Tim Tseng • October 2, 2016

Would you invite these people to your home? Drug addict? Drug dealer? Ex-Con? Goth kid? Probably not. We worry that these “bad people” will be bad influences. They are not safe and we want to protect ourselves. If they repent, we’ll may invite them.

Now one of the reasons people are religious is because we believe religion will protect us from evil. Religion categorizes people – good verses bad; saints versus sinners. Religion excludes the bad people. Some accept bad people if they’ve proven that they’ve changed. In other worlds, religion maintains moral standards.

This type of religion creates a false narrative about God: God loves me when I am good. This is a conditional love that most of us have been raised with: “Oh, you ate all your noodles – good girl!” “Don’t draw on the wall – bad boy!” If religion is about behavior modification or regulating morality, it has been very effective. But it teaches us that God loves us only when we are good; God withholds his love when we sin. If we repent, then God loves us again. It is all about whether we do or believe rightly.

Is this the kind of God that Jesus knew? Matthew’s encounter with Jesus reveal a different kind of God. Jesus invites Matthew, a tax collector, to be his disciple. Tax collectors were despised by the Jewish people because they were seen as extortionists for the Roman Empire. Yet, Jesus wanted Matthew to be his disciple! (Matt 9:9) We soon discover that Matthew is a good networker (v. 10). He invites his friends to meet Jesus and his disciples at his home. But it just so happens that Matthew’s friends are considered sinners, the very people most of us would not want in our homes. The Pharisees, the regulator of morality of their day, pointed this out, asking Jesus’ disciples “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” This is a reasonable question if Jesus is about elevating the morality of the Jewish people. Why would he lower himself to eat with sinners? Not a good photo op.

But it was a good opportunity for Jesus to teach us something about God’s love. In verse 12, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus is teaching us the proper way to interpret the Old Testament: Sin is a health condition. The Pharisees thought it was a moral failure. Jesus explains further in verse 13: go and learn what Hosea meant when he quoted God: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ [Hosea 6:6] Indeed, Jesus mission is not “to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What is Jesus doing? Theologically, he is introducing grace and mercy to the religion of the Pharisees. Jesus corrected them by making it very clear that God welcomes sinners. This is Jesus’ narrative, the one we need to adopt in order to truly fall in love with God. Indeed, John reinforces it in John 3:16-17. God’s love is for the whole world, not just those who think they are righteous or morally upright.

This is the reason why I hesitate to label people sinners. You may have noticed that I prefer to talk about healing a broken world. It’s not because I don’t believe that sin is real. It’s because I want to use Jesus’ true understanding of sin. Once we start listing sins and labeling sinners, what happens? We are tempted to get so worked up about labeling what people do as sin that we shun and shame them rather than show them God’s love and mercy. We elevate ourselves above them and forget that we, too, are sinners – a broken reflection of God’s image. We limit God’s love to ourselves. We turn into legalistic Pharisees. Worse of all, we forget the gospel.

Let us start with the vastness of God’s love and mercy. Let us start with the unconditional love that the God that Jesus knows reveals to the world.

Sermon Summary: God is Generous (Sept 25, 2016)

Sermon Summary • God is Generous (Psalm 23)
Rev. Dr. Milton Eng (guest speaker)

James Bryan Smith shares in his book The Good and Beautiful God that in order for us to experience true spiritual growth we must (1) replace the false narratives in our minds with Jesus’ narratives, (2) engage in the training of the soul through the spiritual disciplines and (3) practice all this in the context of community. When it comes to the theme of his chapter “God is Generous,” what is the false narrative that needs to be replaced? It is the idea of “earning God’s favor.”

When it comes to the widespread principle that to get along in the world everyone must earn their way, Asian Americans are particularly attuned to this. Although not all Asian parents are “tiger” parents, it is a cultural norm that the only acceptable way of life is to work hard, study hard and earn favor. There is a further Asian American spin on this. For many Asian Americans, the problem is not that “God is Generous” but that “God is Generous to the Wrong People” as are the workers of the vineyard who worked the least but received the same pay (Mt. 20:12). 

Regardless, any narrative of works righteousness and earning favor is a false narrative which represents one path of life based on a worldly principle . The Kingdom of God offers a second and alternative pathway, one based on “unmerited favor” and God’s generosity to all who humbly acknowledge their need. They sing with their brethren “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” A lifetime of trying to “earn it my way” and then finally giving up and giving in to God’s sovereignty has brought to fruition the truth of Ps. 23 as so very appropriate a soul training exercise. Surely, he has “led me beside quiet waters, he has restored my soul.” He indeed “has anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.”


milton-eng-headshot-smRev. Milton Eng (伍敬華 牧師) is a scholar, pastor, teacher and author. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY he came to Christ in his junior year at Columbia University and has been pursuing the Lord ever since. While undertaking seminary studies at places like Biblical and Westminster he pastored various English Ministries in NY and NJ. Always wanting to get deeper into the Word, Pastor Milton completed his Ph.D. in Hebrew and Old Testament at Drew University. He is currently East Coast Project Director for ISAAC (Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity) and recently published his first book with Zondervan entitled Devotions on the Hebrew Bible. Milton enjoys good food, conversation and tennis. He is also a long-time friend of Pastor Tim Tseng going all the way back to Tim’s days in Brooklyn!


devotions-hebrew-bible-coverDevotions on the Hebrew Bible is the companion volume to Devotions on the Greek New Testament published by Zondervan in 2012. Designed primarily for students, pastors and professors of biblical Hebrew, the book consists of 54 short devotional reflections based on a careful analysis of the original Hebrew text. These are insights which cannot be seen in any English translations. The purpose of the volume is to encourage students and pastors to keep up with their Hebrew and to observe first-hand how practical, spiritual and devotional their original language study can truly be. Bo Lim, for example, reminds the reader of the biblical precedent for expressing lament. Highlighting the intricate but beautiful Hebrew acrostic in the book of Lamentations, he confirms the principle that both grief and hope provide the rhythm of faith and worship in the life of the believer. Thirty-eight scholars from across the country and around the world contributed to DHB including such senior scholars as Dan Block and Miles Van Pelt to some up and coming writers such as Chloe Sun and Beth Stovell reflecting a diversity of contributors from ethnicity to gender. While a knowledge of Hebrew is assumed for each devotion, a standard English translation is also provided and so even laypeople without Hebrew can appreciate the exposition and application once they get past the Hebrew analysis. There is a devotional reflection on every book of the Old Testament. Hebrew word and grammatical feature indexes are provided.

Sermon Summary: God is Trustworthy (Sept. 18, 2016)

Sermon Summary
God is Trustworthy (Mark 14:32-36) • Pastor Tim Tseng

     Loving God is difficult. We may feel good about worshiping and praying to him, but to actually love him is difficult. The most typical obstacle to truly loving God is having a false understanding of who he is – a false narrative in our minds.

False Narratives about God’s Trustworthiness

     Christians believe that God is trustworthy, that he wishes us to flourish and live with purpose and joy. But too often we teach and reflect in our behavior a God who is untrustworthy. Many Christian parents, for example, will say that God is loving and good, but they model in their behavior a God who is strict and ready to correct, discipline, and punish every infraction. Kids who grow up in this environment start to develop two false narratives

1: God is not trustworthy and is more interested in punishing us than looking out for our good.

2: God the Father is a projection of our earthly fathers. For example, the woman who has difficulty calling God Father because of her own father’s abusiveness towards her. But to not call God Father is not the right answer either.

Adopting the True Narrative: Jesus called God Abba Father

     When Jesus describes God as his Father, we have to let him define what fatherhood means. Theologian Karl Barth said, “It is not that there is first of all human fatherhood and then a so-called divine fatherhood, but just the reverse is true and proper fatherhood resides in God and from this fatherhood what we know as fatherhood among us men is derived.” The Trinity (God the Father, Son, and Spirit) existed before creation. Their relationship existed before any human father and son or daughter existed. Therefore fatherhood was defined by God first.

     At Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-35), Jesus shows confidence in God’s trustworthiness in at least two ways. First, he was unafraid to confess his weakness and doubt to God. He knew that abba would hear him and not rebuke him. Second, Jesus was willing to trust God’s plan, whatever the consequences. “Not my will, but your will be done.”

     Furthermore, the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) shows us a Father God who is Present, Pure, and Powerful, but also Provides, Pardons, and Protects.

What is Your Cup?

     The fact that Jesus asked to have his cup removed shows us that all of us will have to bear a cup of suffering and uncertainty in life. The “cup” represents things that are forced on us, things we have a hard time accepting. Aspects of life that make it difficult to trust God.

Soul Training: Counting Your Blessings

     Whenever we wrestle with the cup that God calls us to bear, we learn to believe in God’s trustworthiness by exercising our “muscle memory” of God’s widespread mercy. We make praise a habit. Our troubles are real, but they are small compared to God’s blessings. The more we count our blessings and live in gratitude, the easier it is to love God for his trustworthiness.

English Service 10 AM (Worship Hall 3)

Feb. 19. Mark 2:13-17 (Tim Tseng)

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