Volume. XX, No. 49
Sunday, 04 June 2006

From the pastors heart: Twenty years old and onward

Today, Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church is celebrating her twentieth anniversary.  What does the number twenty mean to her and her people?  I am sure that twenty is more than a number between 19 and 21, which is often referred to as a score.  The number 20 to Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church is more than the followings:
  • Twenty is an atomic number of calcium.  
  • The number 20 is used as an index in measuring visual acuity.  20/20 indicates normal vision at 20 feet, although it is commonly used to mean "perfect vision".  
  • Twenty is the retired number of former baseball stars Frank Robinson and Mike Schmidt.  
  • Twenty is the age of majority in Japanese tradition. Someone who is exactly twenty years old is described as hatachi.  
  • Twenty is the code for international direct dial phone calls to Egypt.  
  • Under the United States Constitution, $20 is the threshold value of civil disputes above which the right to trial by jury is preserved.  
  • The new $20 bill in Australia was issued on October 31, 1994.  There are two signatures: Top - IJ Macfarlane, Bottom - KR Henry.  The front of note portrait belongs to Mary Reibey (1777-1855; Pioneer business woman with interests in shipping and property) and the back belongs to Reverend John Flynn (1880-1951; Pioneered the world's first aerial medical service, now known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service).
Then, what does her twentieth birthday mean to her?  I would say that it must mean her maturity, strength, and further growth.  In  particular,  I would  like to talk about her maturity, strength, and growth in her culture with its unique and strong Christian flavours.  It is a Biblical mandate for the children of God to conquer the world.  It is not, as you and I must know, physical and military style conquering, but spiritual and inner aspect of battles and conquers.  For too long, too many people and churches have focused on church growth movement.  There are so many inspirational books and literature in our bookshelves.  Contemporary music forays into bookshops and our ears.  Churches have developed lots of programs knowing no limit, and become seeker-friendly groups.  In the meanwhile, Christian churches have been prone to theological deficiency, which has affected the minds and morality of Christians.  It is because, if they do not know and hold unto the ultimate truth of God to guide and direct their activities, then their ideas and convictions can be easily manipulated by influences from the world.  When Christians are not guided by the culture moulded in and promoted by the Biblical values and teachings, then they will be sensate to the extent that their habits and mindset aim at increasing physical comforts, while ignoring the transfiguration of their souls.  Thus, they will believe what they feel.  It will result in tragedy that the carnality of man dominates the Christian culture, and that eventually, there will be no difference between the culture of the church of God and that of the world.  In fact, we see some of these tragic developments in Christian churches.  We are put under anaesthesia by the stings of the culture from the world.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Senator, aptly pointed out a problem of this undesirable change in his country (“Defining Deviancy Down,” The American Scholar 62, winter 1993, 18-19).  He talked about his concern from sociologist’s point of view.  There is a possibility that there can be too much crime, circumstances may cause a society to choose not to notice behaviour that otherwise would be unaccepted, controlled, or punished.  Thus, he said that deviant behaviours in American society “have increased beyond the levels the community can ‘afford to recognize.’”  It means that the society, community, or country will eventually have to change or redefine deviancy.  It implies that certain culture or behaviours previously stigmatized and judged as abnormal become normal and exempted from any rebuke.  All these changes mean only one thing: the standard has been lowered, and the abnormal becomes the norm.  We may find lots of examples to this phenomenon.  For example, about a month ago, Mexico’s Congress decriminalised the possession of small quantities of marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Mexico is not the first country to legalize marijuana.  In the Netherlands, the sale of marijuana for medical use is legal and it can be bought with a prescription in pharmacies. But the Mexicans have gone one step further to apply the same liberal approach to heroin and cocaine as to marijuana.  Once possessing those drugs was illegal, but it is not any more.  I am sure that more countries will follow.  These countries cannot afford to recognize the deviancies related to drugs, and finally declare their moral moratorium.  

What I am afraid is that churches have gone through the same processes and absorbed too many facets of worldly culture, even in some cases to no return.  John Carroll, professor of sociology at La Trobe University, aptly said, “The mainstream Christian churches, with their liberal attitudes, their tolerance of just about anybody and anything, seem like pale and ineffectual offshoots of nihilist humanism” (“Nihilistic Consequences of Humanism,” The Lure of fundamentalism in Griffith Review, autumn 2005, 47).  Unfortunately, a term, “tolerance,” has been crowned to be our culture’s reigning virtue.  J. Daryl Charles said in his book, The Unformed conscience of Evangelicalism, “Originally, tolerance denoted a policy of forbearance in the presence of something disliked or disapproved.  It was foremost a political virtue, demonstrated by a government’s readiness to permit a variety of religious beliefs.  The notion that government should not enforce a specific religion comes to expression in John Lock’s Letter on Tolerance (1688) and Two Treaties of Government (1690).  Removed from its political context, however, tolerance ceases to be a virtue; indeed, it becomes a vice if it ceases to care for truth, ignores what is good and disdains the values that uphold a community. . .  It is a culture in which people believe nothing, possess no clear concept of right and wrong, and ultimately, are indifferent to this precarious state of affairs.  The challenge facing people of faith is learning how to purify tolerance so that it remains a virtue, without succumbing to the centripetal forces of relativism” (p. 43).  

Christian culture has been tainted and in some ways demolished by the invasion of the culture of the world.  As a result, culture we find in Christian churches is only to feel, neither to know nor to believe.  It has led people to focus on themselves, not on God.  Christians may say that they were born to be saved.  But, psychological people may say that they were born to be pleased.  “What we believe” is not a spiritual and ethical guide to many people, but “how we feel.”  The relics of worldly culture are found in our self-orientation, self-realization, and self-worship attitude.  In the previous generations, sin had been known to be wrongs of deliberate choices by morally responsible people.  However, today we hear that wrongs such as shoplifting, lying, mugging, promiscuity or drug use are pathological problems and signs of psychological needs.  

As Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church celebrates her 20th birthday, let her be a place of biblical culture, from fellowship, values and virtues, learning, music, speeches, to manners.  Let Hope Church fulfils her duty as a custodian of God’s Word, which is the textbook of Christian culture.  Let her be cultured by the teachings of the Scriptures!

Lovingly, Your Pastor

Greetings From Around Australia & Beyond!

The following Churches send their Greetings on the occasion of our 20th Anniversary:
  • Bible-Presbyterian Church of Western Australia, Rev. Edward Pauuwe
  • Calvary Jaya Bible-Presbyterian Fellowship, Rev. Lee Kim Shong;
  • Calvary Jurong Bible-Presbyterian Church, Rev. James Chan;
  • Cootamundra Bible Fellowship, Rev. Peter Clements;
  • Ebenezer Bible-Presbyterian Church, Rev. Patrick Tan;
  • Faith Presbyterian Church - Perth, Rev. Errol Stone;
  • Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, Rev. Charles Seet;
  • Maranatha Bible-Presbyterian Church, Rev. Jack Sin;
  • New Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, London, Bro. Mok Chee Cheong;
  • Sharon Bible-Presbyterian Church, Rev. Peter Chua; and
  • True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, Rev. Timothy Tow.
The following individuals send their Greetings on the occasion of our 20th Anniversary:
  • Elder Ng Poh Kok & Family, Sharon Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore;
  • Sister Wendy Gong, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia;
  • Sister Maureen Tan, Perth, Western Australia
  • Sister Yu Yuet Teng, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia; and
  • Sister Serene Wong, Singapore.

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. No. 48: What are we specially taught by these words [before me] in the first commandment? These words [before me] in the first commandment teach us, That God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev David Koo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dns Edwin D”mello (post-surgery) & Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Raphael Ng’s father, Winston Selvanayagam, Thomas Tan, & John Tann; Sisters Kimmy Chong, Nary Li, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, & Peng Ha Yeo; Auntie Oei and others afflicted with viral illness. "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions - Rev & Mrs Stephen Choi & ministry (Phnom Penh & Kandal Province), Cambodian pastors & believers; b) Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam; c) Pastors & believers in India & Pakistan; d) Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim & ministry in S’pore/Malaysia; e) Journey mercies - Rev Ed and Mrs Lehia Paauwe (Perth), Dn & Mrs Raymond Woo (Syd/Perth); Bro Winston & Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam (Syd), and those who are travelling this week.

Praise and Thank God for – a) YAF & AFG Meetings, & Choir Practices; b) Journey mercies - Rev Edward & Mrs Lehia Paauwe, Dn Raymond & Mrs Peggy Woo; Bros Raymond Ang, Henry Heng (Adl), David Chua (Melb/Adl), Hai Seng Lim (S’pore); Sisters Hui Wei Chua’s family, Lydia Tan & family (Adl); c) Night of Praise - all participants & visitors.
Special Warm Welcome to Rev Edward & Mrs Lehia Paauwe, Dn Raymond & Mrs Peggy Woo, and our guests & friends from overseas and interstate.

Greetings for our 20th Anniversary (Please see page 3 for details).

Special thanks to Sisters Sally Teng & Purdee Yeo who organised the Night of Praise.
Bro Raymond Ang & family wish to thank all Hopefuls for their condolences on their recent bereavement.

Special Item of Prayer: For the LORD to provide $13,595 for Pastor’s car.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041