Volume. XXIII, No. 14
Sunday, 05 October 2008

From The Pastors Heart: Character

I am writing this article on September 16.  It is not any special day but one of those ordinary days.  I decided to read the Advertiser newspapers over the internet and found some of the following stories: “A KNIFE was held to the head of a female teacher in a terrifying schoolyard invasion involving five teenagers who were menacing students.” “THE man who tripped and knocked himself out cold while streaking at a footy match said he\'d do it again.” “A DRUNKEN bodybuilder spat on and launched a frenzy of punches at a young woman who rejected his advances in a nightclub, a court has heard.” “A PHOTOGRAPHER secretly videotaped teen models in change rooms, a Queensland court has been told.” “A GOLD Coast woman lied about dying of cancer and conned an 89-year-old dementia sufferer into giving her a $500,000 house, a court has been told.” “A MAN who threatened to kill a flight attendant on a Virgin Blue flight to Cairns last week has been fined $4000.” “A HENPECKED man snapped and strangled his controlling de facto wife after she upset his beloved pet dog, a court has been told.” On the other side of the ledger, we find some stories with good contrast: “ADELAIDE\'S Tour Down Under might be the first comeback race next year for superstar cyclist Lance Armstrong, who says he wants to race in Australia. The seven-time Tour de France winner stunned world sport last week by confirming he would try to win another Tour title, aged 37. . . . Armstrong nearly died from cancer in 1996 and his main motivation for returning to competition is to highlight awareness of the disease.” “CRICKET legend Glenn McGrath returned from a family holiday yesterday, six weeks after his wife Jane lost her battle with breast cancer. The Daily Telegraph understands Glenn met workers from the McGrath Foundation, which Jane set up to raise money for breast care nurses, and that McGrath is exploring what he can do to support the foundation.” I must say that it was much easier to find bad news rather than good. 

Why do we do the things we do?  How did we come to make choices and decisions in this information inundated age? How can we make good decisions, not bad decisions?  In order to talk about these issues, I cannot but talk about principles, i.e., biblical principles. It is necessary that I must emphasize on biblical principles. Otherwise, principles may be too broad and too general. Here are some definitions of “principle” according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: (1) beginning, commencement, the original state of something; (2) the origin of source of something; (3) a fundamental cause or basis of something; (4) an original or native tendency; (5) a fundamental truth or proposition on which others depend; (6) a general law or rule adopted or professed as a guide to action; and a few more meanings. There is no one who does not live by principles, whether they are good or bad, or whether they are mature or immature.  It is because a principle is something that is the beginning or the fundamental proposition on which others depend. Thus, we talk, do, plan, and so on, according to the principles we have.  This notion is very clear to the believers of God.  For example, God has given us the Ten Commandments. One of them says, “Thou shalt not kill,” or “thou shalt not make any graven image.” They are principles by which we live, think, plan, work or walk. The Bible teaches us about the golden rule that we must do to others as we would have them do to us. It is again a matter of principle. 1 John 2:15 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Jesus says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Mat. 5:44b). Again it is a principle. Then, it is not too much to say that these biblical principles are motives behind our Christian life. However, it is more than a life. It is a character that we have.  Everything we do represents us, which refers to our character. 

“Character” means: (1) a distinctive mark impressed, engraved, an emblem, a representation; (2) a graphic symbol; (3) a token, a feature, trait; (4) a description; (4) the estimate formed of a person’s qualities, reputation; (6) collective peculiarities; (7) moral strength. Therefore, the character we have represents us. Character tells others about who we are. The character we have is also a product of our principles. People see us as characters. It does not surprise us at all. We have characters such as physical, emotional, behavioural, intellectual, and many others. We are short, tall, thin, fat, strong, or weak. We are mild, aggressive, patient, or hot tempered. We are big fans of sports or not. We are romantic, rational, or cold. There are many ways to describe our character. Whoever we are, we are presenting ourselves as characters. These characters cannot be separated from principles. 

We also see that character represents our qualities or reputation. People talk about the deceased at his/her funeral. The deceased is remembered by his character. The qualities in character also reflect our virtues and values. They also demonstrate our habits and dispositions. Of course, we cannot neglect our hearts when we talk about our characters. 

Then, why do we need to talk about principles and character issues? It is because character is our reputation and testimony. Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Ecclesiastes 7:1, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one\'s birth.” It required the firmness of character when Joseph resisted Potiphar’s wife’s temptation in Genesis 39. When Paul was willing to suffer for Christ, he needed a Christian character. Acts 20:22, “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there.” Acts 21:13, “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Contrary to the good characters in the Bible, there are bad and unstable characters. Proverbs 27:8, “As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.” Hosea 6:4, “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.” There are weak characters, too.  Ephesians 4:14, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

People will know us by our characters. To some Christians, this sort of talk may not sound very pleasant. They may say that we are free to do the things we like. Why do we have to build up our character in such a way that we are conscious of others’ opinions? Why do we try to be legalistic in terms of having principles or rules for our character? Can we just live as we wish? It is because we are to live by faith not by sight, and we are to be conformed to the image of Christ. Let us build up our character based on Biblical principles. Psalm 57:7, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” Matthew 10:22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name\'s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” 

May the Lord bless you all!


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope




Special Warm Welcome: Rev Tracy Minnick; Rev Dr & Mrs Patrick Tan.

Kitchen Rosters today - Team leader: Sis Bernadette Ng

The Korean Presbyterian Church of Adelaide invites all worshippers to a Fundraising Choir Concert “Night of Praise 2008” on Sat, 11 Oct, at 7 pm. Location: Concordia College Chapel, 45 Cheltenham St, Highgate. Proceeds to Churches in Cambodia.

Please note: Today is International Day of Prayer for Jerusalem

Special Thanks: Bro Peter & Sis Mary Ting for the Dinner invitation for Sunday School teachers & VBS helpers on Thurs.

2008 BPNYC camp forms and program available on the YAF Board.

Next Lord’s Day Fellowship lunch is communal.


Looking Ahead

Special Lecture on “Creation and Evolution” by Dr Carl Wieland at 7:30pm on Friday, 17 Oct 2008. Please invite your friends.

Sunday School Family Sports’ Day on Sat, 18 Oct.

Next ECM for Amendments to Church Constitution on 19 Oct. All members are requested to attend.

Sunday School Teachers’ Training Course commences Sun, 19 Oct.

2008 BPNYC will be held 1-5 Dec 2008 (Melb)


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Rev Tracy Minnick, Rev Dr & Mrs Patrick Tan (Adl); Dn David Yeo (Perth/Adl); Bro John & Sis Josephine Wong (Syd); Bro Jason & Sis Emmelin Teng (Syd/Adl); Bro Jonathan Liao (Adl); Sis Maybelline Tan (Adl), & all those who arrived in safety.

Church activities: Bible Class; AFG Retreat (Speaker: Rev Tracy Minnick); BSAG & Joy; E-Ministry; Ladies’ Fellowship; Sparks4Christ; YAF-AFG Panel Discussion; YAF Retreat (Speaker: Rev Dr Patrick Tan).

YAF September30-in-30 & Street Evangelism: Organisers & ‘tracters’.

5th Anniversary Thanksgiving: Rev Timothy Tow & True Life B-P Church, S’pore.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing -Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements,  Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan, Dn David Yeo’s mother; Bros Tommy Brooks, Yew Shing Chan, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagan, Mr Yeom, Hans Ziegelmann; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Sheila George, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Auntie Oei, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; & others who are having chemotherapy and radiotherapy and those in affliction.

Cambodia Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor Ki: future ministry.

Pr David Weng: ministry in Hope.

International Day of Prayer for Jerusalem: Peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6)

Anniversary Thanksgiving: Strathalbyn Bible Christian Church (Rev James White) on Sun, 12 Oct.

Journey mercies: Rev Tracy Minnick (Qld), Rev Dr Patrick & Mrs Anne Tan (Melb); Bro Jonathan Liao (Melb); Sis Josephine Wong (Adl/Melb); & others travelling.

Job - Bro Cong Pham & Sis Judy Li.

AFG retreat - Rev Tracy Minnick, organisers & participants.

God’s blessing on wedding - Bro Leonard Teo & Sis Suzanne Millard on Sat, 11 Oct (Compton, Quebec, Canada).



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