January 12, 2021
Dear TCCBC church family,
Greetings in the Lord to you and your family! Let me start with a piece of good news. We have been praying God’s healing for Li Jia’s family to recover from the coronavirus the past one to two weeks. They have since tested negative from the follow-up visit, and are no longer threatened by the virus and have completely recovered. Praise God!
However, I still want to remind everyone that the global situation is still no more optimistic. Even as the various vaccines against COVID-19 continue to be deployed, new strands of the virus are showing up across a number of countries. More than 90 million people have been infected by the virus, with the number of deaths approaching 2 million. The unabated pandemic continues to worsen across many US cities. We need to be on guard and protect ourselves from it.
Moreover, we are not certain if any unexpected development will develop out of the unstable political environment. I would consider taking this opportunity to spend time and stock up food and essentials just in case upon unexpected needs. I also ask that we pray for each other. May God’s peace be with us all!
At this time, it is quite certain who the next US president is. The former vice president, Joe Biden, will be inaugurated on 1/20/2021 to be the 46th president of the United States. Let us pray for this country that was founded on biblical truths, with the hope of continuing her way of revering God. Regardless of whether we are satisfied with the election result, I trust that our heavenly Father will personally observe it. Pray that the new president will have a heart of truthfulness, and govern this country with uprightness. And if so, God will “continue your righteousness to the upright of heart!” (Psalms 36:10) “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalms 84:11)
I must admit, I am concerned about the current development in the US. My concerns are not about who the president is, but the challenges from the desecration of traditions and values in the entire country. What took place in these past two weeks have caused us to wonder if this was the country that we admired and were familiar with, and it is still a land of freedom of religion and speech.
You might have watched the traditional opening prayer at the Jan 3 congressional meeting, typically led by a clergy. This time, they invited a pastor from the United Methodist, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who is also a congressman from the 5th district in Missouri, to lead the opening prayer. At the conclusion of his prayer, his wording shocked all the representatives present. And it immediately became the topic over the media and discussions by the public. That is because he used “Amen and a woman” to conclude the prayer (you can follow this link to watch the entire content of his prayer). His wording immediately received broad condemnation from the public. Rep. Cleaver was interviewed by Fox News afterward (link to the interview), and expressed that he wanted to honor the congresswomen there. But his explanation was convoluted and unclear to the audience. He also failed to realize that the object of his prayer was not the congresswomen who were present, but the almighty God in heaven!
All of you who have studied the Bible know that the Hebrew text “ אָמֵן” (Amen) means verily, truly, and so be it. The Greek word in the New Testament “ἀμήν” (Amen) has similar meaning that also includes verily, truly, and so be it. Regardless of Hebrew or Greek text, the pronunciation is similar to「阿們」in Chinese. All of them mean that when we hear the uttering of God’s Word, or the content of prayer from the prayer leader, the congregation would respond echoing the prayer also being the prayer in their hearts. “Amen” is response toward God, reverence to Him, and has no connection to gender at all.
Perhaps you could say it was just an incidental mention. But the problem is the moment was not a casual moment for jokes. It was the prayer at the 117th congressional meeting at the Hall of Congress. And Rep. Cleaver not only was a congressman, he was also a reverend. Many ministers were also shocked and were at a loss of words on such a radical statement of outrageous disregard for God’s Word.
Many others online considered this being a joke. If the “Amen” in prayers must be expressed with political correctness, then it will be difficult to express accurately with English anymore. For example, “recommendation” must be expressed as “recomwomendation”, “mention” as “womention”, and “dimension” as “diwomension”. I do not believe this is the desired result from most of the public, nor is it the topic on political correctness. Instead, it is a destruction of our literary heritage, subversion of our culture, and moreover, a desecration of our religion.
Another odd and unprecedented phenomenon is the coordinated censorship of President Trump’s remarks by the social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Apple. Before this, we have only heard of certain government censoring some broadcast media or civil organizations’ publication. We have not heard of such civil power by the social media to control what the president of a country could or could not say. But here we are seeing it actually taking place in our democratic country. These media companies have expanded their reach of power and placed themselves as arbiters to publishing only the kind of speech according to their own political and party ideology. The problem is, their policies are not consistently applied. They only censored the speech from President Trump, but Twitter failed to censor leaders from countries of dictatorship who have murdered many, such as Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Have you not realized that people will wonder if this was just dirty politics being played out? When even the president’s speech would come under their control, who and what can guarantee that channel and space for our freedom of expression? I can only say that the leaders of the social media are too self-bloated. They claim to be leaders of the country, with their power even surpassing the president of the most powerful country in the world. The consequences will be difficult to imagine if this situation continues.
But what is more difficult to imagine upon this kind of evolving chaos, is the lack of serious condemnation from those in the Senate and House of Representatives, and to enact necessary laws according to the Constitution of the country to restrict such arrogant acts of power grab. However, we rarely saw that these senators and congressmen with real power were able to effectively curb such unhealthy trends. At times, they even appeared to be supporting such trends. Because they only considered the matters more favorable to their immediate political future, and they had no time to act on the damaged and restricted freedom of speech of the American people. This is indeed sad to see happening.
Brothers and sisters, you might remember what I mentioned in the communication letter on 1/1/2021, “The church should obey those in authority under normal circumstances. But this does not mean that God’s people know nothing about right from wrong, and feel nothing about truths and righteousness.” Under such treacherous and ever-changing environment, let us ask God to give us wisdom and discernment, use God’s truths to see what is exactly before us, and even prepare ourselves to face a new social norm that is becoming increasingly hostile to our faith. Brothers and sisters, are you well prepared to fight for the truth?
In order to prepare ourselves well for possible upcoming challenges, I suggest that everyone to reflect upon whether we can focus on looking up to God and worshiping before Him. Under the impact of unrelenting secular influence, do you and I pursue power, fame, and enjoyment on earth, or are we able to seek the matters and the kingdom of God first? What portions of our minds are on God’s house? Have we prayed for our dear brothers and sisters, keep watch over each other and support each other? Let the Word of our Lord renew our minds, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:33-34)
Pondering the coming of God’s kingdom with you,
Pastor Job Lee, Senior Pastor
With fellow church leadership team