Pastor Timothy Tow
[In this year of the rat, don’t be one.]
Every year is a milestone in our life, like marking a long distance, cross-country race. Life is a race. But what sort of a race? Oftentimes we hear people say we are in a rat race.
Now what is a rat race? The Concise Reference Encyclopedia and Dictionary defines a rat race as ‘‘a fiercely competitive struggle to maintain one’s position in work or life.” In such circumstances do you think the participants will keep to the rules of a race?
If you look into the meaning of ‘rat’, you’ll not find anything good about it. Oxford Dictionary defines ‘rat’ as one who deserts his party in difficulties as rats are said to desert doomed house or ship. Websters defines ‘rat’ as a sneaky, contemptible person. I must conclude that in a rat race, the participant will try to win by hook or by crook. Morality and rules will be sacrificed for the sake of winning. Result: insider trading; embezzlement or CBT (criminal breach of trust); owing and never paying one’s debts, and all the tricks in business dealings, etc, etc. Nothing honourable can be associated with a rat.
A Christian cannot be in a rat race. A Christian is in a straight race. He should run in the steps of St Paul. He is on a straight course. He is in the race of life that keeps ascending until he reaches, like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, the Celestial City. Are you in this race or trying to join in the rat race? In the straight race we take, Paul lays down the rules: “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor 9:25–27).
What are some of the rules of running the straight race? We must keep in the narrow path. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt 7:13–14).
In another Epistle, Paul tells the Philippians, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God ìn Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13–14). If the previous year was a failure to us, if we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us. We can forget our painful past and start anew with Paul’s resolution to “apprehend” (to lay hold of) Christ and the prize of His high calling.
Resolve to practise your daily Quiet Time. Resolve to come to Church and Sunday School every week. Resolve to join the Prayer Meeting. Resolve to be faithful in tithing that God’s work might prosper. Resolve to have family worship with your children. Resolve, resolve, but by His strength. Paul says, “l can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13). [Source: Life Weekly, 2 January 1994]
TESTIMONY OF SALVATION
Joyce Park Jong Eun
I would like to talk about how God, in my short life, showed me the possibility of changes by His mercy and grace. Firstly, I am from South Korea and 16 years old, and a babe in faith. I believe in the existence of God and in His Word; and I know that I am saved only by the precious blood of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose again on the third day. Moreover, I am totally ready to dedicate myself as His servant for His glory. These are currently my beliefs; however, it was not like this and I was a very different person until a few years ago.
I was born into a Christian family; thus I thought I automatically became a Christian from my birth. I knew my grandfather and father were pastors, but I did not care what my position was, and Christianity was not an issue to me. It did not mean I was absolutely ignorant that my attitude would affect my grandfather and father’s ministries; I might have known unconsciously. I kept an ungodly life, even though my family tried to raise me uprightly. What a terrible kid I was; my father had to visit my school sometimes to get some feedback from my teachers.
A few years ago, when I was in the fourth grade of primary school, my dad was called to be a missionary, and he went to Bible College of East Africa, Tanzania. Until the moment my father left, I had no interest in Christianity. I could not see why people were so passionate about sharing the Word of God. Also, I could not understand the reason he should leave Korea. At that time, I was totally into Korean culture. Nevertheless, when my father left Korea for Tanzania, my sister and I really wanted to follow him immediately without knowing the reason. However, my mother asked us to decide carefully because it could be the last chance for us to enjoy the school life in Korea with our friends at that time; but our thinking did not change even though we had some time to think twice before our final decision. Before long, my father came back to Korea to see us, and one day, he asked my sister and me whether both of us really wanted to follow him to Tanzania. I did not know what made me to do that, but I simply gave him a positive answer, and I did not think about what would be next. Perhaps, I did not want to be separated from my father again.
In the middle of my fifth grade, I quit school and took my primary school graduation equivalency exam and went to Tanzania. Then, I realized I left all my friends and enjoyable things in Korea. I felt lonely because I thought friends were all my life. However, thank God that I could make new friends in Africa, who were godly and tried to be godly. Nevertheless, still, I did not know the value of those friends that God gave me, and I missed the things in Korea. Thankfully, God helped me to adapt to a new environment, and I met a new friend, my cat. Having a cat next to me, and always, was not an easy task for me, because I was careless towards God’s creatures. I came to love the cat that God created, and that was the turning point for me. It may sound weird but I began to think about God’s things more and more, like the trees or colors or sky that He made. My one-year stay in Tanzania was influential and meaningful as I began to have an interest in Christianity. Also, I had to learn many things like how to give up things that I want, and everything does not always go the way I think. There were many troubles, but I believe those troubles were permitted by God to make me experience things so that I might walk in a better way and to be milder. After my stay in Tanzania, I went back to Korea to take the graduation equivalency of both middle school and high school exams. I passed both exams.
Three years ago, my mother and sister came to Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) to study the Word of God, but I just followed them because I could not afford to live anywhere else. Thankfully, I was allowed to stay with my mother and sister in FEBC. After a while, my parents suggested that I study in this college as a part-time student. Again, I gave them a positive answer, and I decided to study because I had nothing else to do, and I did not think I could do anything else. My parents also hoped I could listen to the Word of God more and more and be changed. So, I wrote a testimony that was incoherent and pretentious, and I started studying as a part-time student in this college. It was not an easy task for me to adapt to the new study environment. I did not like studying and was not motivated to work hard. In short, there was no goal. I did not have the concept of ‘working for God’, and I was only trying to find the easy way out; for I had no genuine faith at that time honestly. So, I felt misery, and I had to find the reason I was studying in ‘Bible’ college. The two semesters I studied at this school were the hardest. I had to have time to be aware of reality, to face myself, and to realize how extravagantly I had spent my life, and finally, seeing who God is.
What I can say now is, it was never easy to admit I am weak, to put everything down before God and submit myself to Him. Whatever it was, I recognized Him as my Heavenly Father. My faith was not what happened at once, but what gradually happened at a slow pace. What I can be sure of is, He helped me and made me realize His omnipotence. It was pleasant to see His love, power, and wisdom towards me, and I had to face those things. However, there were times I wanted to give up being a believer because a whole lot of troubles followed, and I was often tempted, and I did not know what was right or wrong then. I encountered many worldly things that tempted me, even though I did not want to receive those ungodly things. Also, I failed so many times as His child, and I could not avoid friends who were influential in an ungodly way; I was not in genuine faith yet at that time. As a result, I fell several times. But God never gave me up; He sent me messages without ceasing by using His words, His people including my family and godly friends. By God’s grace, a few months later, finally I found my problems flowing from my sins, and I truly repented before God. Surely, I had to pay for it, but I became more dependent on Him and my faith has grown so far in His love and grace. After a while, I decided to study here as a full-time student, because I felt that learning the Word of God was more important than studying other secular studies. I wanted to take the only chance in my life that I could to study the Word of God at this age. I know I should not take this for granted, and I do not want to take God’s grace for granted.
I believe everything that has happened to me is in God’s plan, and that He will guide me according to His plan in the future. My father says that I am a good testimony of changes in faith, and that is what I think as well. I do not mean to be arrogant, but it is because I believe God has changed me; because it is really a wonderful thing from God, not by my own ability, but only by God’s grace, love, and power. I know and believe that He saved me, and He has been merciful toward me indeed. I am still immature in every way, and I am even a little child in faith, but one thing I can be sure of is that I believe in Him and Jesus Christ His Son as my personal Savior. I will fail and fall many times as I am still in the process of sanctification, but I will keep moving forward for God only. May God be with me in all the paths in my life.
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