FORTY-THREE seniors from various Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) churches waited eagerly at Newton car park for the coach on March 27, 2007 at 6.30 am to take them to Berjaya Hills Resort at Bukit Tinggi, Pahang for the TRAC-Malaysian Seniors Fellowship (MSF) camp.
More than 300 participants attended the camp. The Singapore group was one of the largest contingents.
The journey, including breaks, took almost 7 ½ hours. The coach arrived at the resort at about 2.30 pm. It was a very smooth, comfortable and relaxing ride. The last part of the journey was rather slow when the coach travelled uphill on sloping road. In spite of the height of the resort, 1,067 metres above sea level, the weather was warm and sunny during the day. At night it was cool and windy.
The group checked into the French castle-like resort which has typical dark brown structures.
The Singaporeans were guests of the MSF, which is made up of different chapters from The Methodist Church in Malaysia.
The stay at the resort from March 27 to 30, 2007 was very meaningful and enjoyable.
Mr Victor Foo, a member of the Methodist Church of the Incarnation, said: "We had a time for personal daily devotion, spiritual talks, a health talk, line dancing, games, group discussions, visits to the botanical garden, the rabbit farm and the Japanese tea house, etc.
"We had physical food for our bodies as well as spiritual food for our souls. We were also given wise advice on how to maintain our health in our senior years. We were all spiritually and physically uplifted and recharged to serve the Lord."
On March 28, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon spoke on "The Glory of God and Our Transformation", based on the text from John 17:1-5.
Dr Oliver Seet from Wesley Methodist Church said that the Bishop began his second teaching session with a provocative thought: What if we were to be examined one day for entry into Heaven? What would we be examined on?
The Bishop said Jesus provides us with a clue in Matthew 7:21-23. It is not our ability to speak the right scriptural language or our claim that we prophesied and cast out demons in Jesus' name that will gain us admission into Heaven. Our lives, our hearts and what we have become are more important to God, who is not deceived.
"Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14). If we want to seek the Lord's face and to gaze upon His
beauty, we need to be holy. Indeed, we are saved in order to become holy.
"The high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17 where Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples and all future believers is a portion of the Bible that we should read with fear and trembling. We have the privilege here of eavesdropping on an intimate conversation between God the Father and God the Son. The word 'glory' is used eight times; Jesus is the Glory of God."
But what is glory all about? The word "glory" is derived from the Hebrew word kabod, which means "weight". God has substance or weight - indeed He has infinite substance. This substance is made up of His divine attributes, character and perfections and is the expression of His holiness. So great is this substance that we would not be able to survive in His presence. His name and praiseworthy reputation (doxa in Greek) are great and awesome.
By contrast, the devil has no substance: evil, according to St Augustine, is the absence of good as darkness is the absence of light.
In John 17:5 Jesus asks His Father to glorify Him in His presence with the glory He had with Him before the world began. This was the pre-incarnate glory Jesus had even before He was born. In the flesh, Jesus would be glorified in the most mind-boggling manner - through an instrument of death, torture and punishment. He was chosen even before the creation of the world to do this work of salvation.
Glory of God means
On the subject of Transformation, the Bishop observed that research has shown that couples begin to look like each other after many years of marriage. In fact, we begin to look like the person or thing we worship or live in close proximity with. Hence those who worship idols or material things will begin to resemble them.
For example, a person who worships wealth will become money-faced. Psalm 115:8 says that "Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them."
If this spiritual secret is true, then we should fix our gaze on Jesus, and we will become increasingly like Him. The following passages of scripture confirm this.
Romans 8:29 attests to the truth that those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son; 1 John 3:2 tells us that we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
How do we become like Jesus, since we have all fallen short
of God's glory? Only through God's grace is this possible. Romans
8:18 tells us that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us. That glory that will
be revealed in us is not our own inherent glory but it comes only
through the indwelling presence of Christ Jesus in us.
How do we become like Jesus? By obeying and loving Him.
We may claim to know Jesus, but does Jesus know us? How do we know if God knows us?
The answer is provided in the following references:
1 Cor 8:3 - "But the man who loves God is known by God."
John 14:15 - "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
John 14:21 - "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
However, obedience can be costly. Our sinful nature has to be crucified daily.
Mal 3:3 speaks of the refiner and purifier of silver, and of the refiner's fire. God puts us through this process so that His character is reflected in us. The refiner knows the silver is purified when he can see his face reflected clearly in the metal.
Said Dr Seet: "Besides the lucid discourse, the Bishop's great sense of humour and his masterly presentation of complex ideas in simple language made this session thoroughly enjoyable; it deepened my own spiritual understanding, particularly of what the 'Glory of God' means. It helped to demystify for me why Jesus had to ask the Father to glorify Him so that He might glorify the Father."
On March 29, Bishop Dr Solomon spoke on "The Glory of God and Our Service".
Ms Ng Piak Hah, a member of Wesley Methodist Church, reported that the talk began with a summary of what had been taught in the two previous sessions.
Camp participants had been told that they worship Jesus, who is the radiance of God's glory, personally and daily, in order to behold God in their lives. They were also told that they are transformed "when Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with glory". (Col 3:4).
In Phil 9:11, they are taught that "when we are filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ, it is to the glory and praise of God". The fruit of righteousness would include the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit, holiness, spiritual wisdom and the fruit of unfailing love or covenantal love.
"As seniors, we can still do many things in service to our Lord praying for and encouraging others, and looking for opportunities to do good with the talents that God has given us.
"God is glorified when we allow Jesus to live in our lives, or to be our lives. God is glorified when we forget ourselves and do good in the name of Jesus Christ."
The seniors felt that the MSF camp was very well organised. Mr Foo said: "The organisers deserve our appreciation. A big 'Thank you' also goes to the TRAC GYM (Glowing Years Ministry) coordinators for making it possible for the seniors to attend the camp."
The next MSF camp is expected to be held in Ipoh next year.
WATCH YOUR LIVES, YOUR HEARTS
'It is not our ability to speak the right scriptural language or our claim that we prophesied and cast out demons in Jesus' name that will gain us admission into Heaven. Our lives, our hearts and what we have become are more important to God, who is not deceived.'
-- Bishop Dr Solomon to camp participants.