My Ordination Vows

Today, I’m going to be installed as an elder of Indonesian Presbyterian Church. I confess, I find it a responsibility too great to bear, but when I consider my Lord Jesus Christ, who as the Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep, I know that as his disciple I must follow him by faith.

As a witness to the promises I make to God and his people, I am publishing my responses to the 2013 Ordination Questions here.

Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, acknowledge him as Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

Yes, Jesus Christ saved me from God’s wrath by offering himself as a propitiation for my sins (Romans 3:21-26). By faith I am united with him in his death and resurrection and will inherit eternal life (Ephesians 2:4-7). Hence, all authority has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18) especially over my life, having been ransomed by his blood (1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Peter 1:18). By his grace (Ephesians 2:8) I believe in one God who saves me, Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the praise of His glorious grace.

Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the church universal and God’s Word to you?

Yes, I accept all Scriptures as God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17), they point to Christ (John 5:39, Luke 24:27), and cannot be broken (John 10:35) , which Christ himself did not abolish one jot or tittle, but rather fulfilled (Matthew 5:17), and is God’s unfailing word which without a doubt will be fulfilled (Joshua 21:45) and is the word of truth (Colossians 1:5), God’s Word to me by which I have been born again (1 Peter 1:23-25), which is to dwell in me richly (Colossians 3:16).

Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God?

Yes, having read the Book of Confessions, initially compiled in 1967, I sincerely adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church. In points of conscience or disagreement, I agree to be instructed and led by those confessions in leading others while continually considering them and teaching them in light of the Scriptures they are expositing.

Will you fulfill your ministry in obedience to Jesus Christ, under the authority of Scripture and be continually guided by our confessions?

Yes, my ministry as defined in 1 Peter 5, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 4:6-16, Titus 1:5-9 and elsewhere, I accept responsibility for, by faith that Christ will supply me the necessary mercy and grace to walk in obedience to him according to the Scriptures and guided by our confessions.

Will you be governed by our church’s polity and will you abide by its discipline? Will you be a friend among your colleagues in ministry, working with them, subject to the ordering of God’s Word and Spirit?

Yes, with Scripture binding my conscience, I agree to be governed by our church’s polity and discipline, loving my colleagues in ministry and collaborating with them.

Will you in your own life seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, love your neighbors and work for the reconciliation of the world?

Yes, by faith and by God’s mercy, I do not desire to save my life, but to lose it for Christ’s sake, taking up my cross and following him (Matthew 16:24-25). In obedience to him, I seek to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:30-31). And having peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1), my mediator, I will seek to appeal to the world to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).

Do you promise to further the peace, unity and purity of the Church?

Yes, by God’s mercy, I promise with all humility and gentleness, with patience and loving forbearance, to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace as is worthy of the call of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-3). This unity and peace are founded upon the pure doctrine of the gospel (1 Timothy 3:14-4:16), which declares the one hope that belongs to my call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-5). With what grace God has given me, and in whatever capacity he pleases to give me to his Church, I aim to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). I aim to help protect the flock of God from human cunning and craftiness in deceitful schemes by helping them grow to maturity by cultivating a culture of speaking the truth in love instead of lying, deception and/or passivity (Ephesians 4:15-16) rooted in the doctrine of our new identity in Christ (Ephesians 4:17-23), which teaches us that we are now members of one another and therefore must put away falsehood and speak the truth to one another (Ephesians 4:25). Through means such as these, I hope to further the true peace, unity and purity of the Church.

Will you pray for and seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love?

Yes, with what grace God has given me, I promise to seek to do good to those he has entrusted to my care.

Will you be a faithful ruling elder, watching over the people, providing for their worship, nurture and service? Will you share in government and discipline, serving in councils of the church, and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ?

According to God’s mercy, I promise to take responsibility for the spiritual growth of the members of this church, that they may love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves. This includes helping unleash the gifts God gives (1 Corinthians 12) them that they may fully exercise them for his glory and to do good to others (Titus 3). This includes binding up their wounds, strengthening the weak, healing the sick, seeking the lost, bringing back those who have gone astray (Ezekiel 34, Jeremiah 23:4). By God’s grace, I promise to take responsibility to serve the wider body of Christ in government, discipline and decision-making and to try to reflect the perfect unity of Christ’s love and justice in my ministry (John 1:16-17).

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Serving the Homeless on MLK Day

It was a chilly Monday afternoon with a bright sun doing little to dispel the cold and wary atmosphere. As we walked towards the Union Gospel Mission Men’s Shelter, there were several homeless men in puffy, black jackets loitering around and I sensed my party apprehensively draw into a tight formation as we approached the entrance. There were five of us: my dad, two sisters, grandma and myself. We quickly scurried into the building, not knowing what to expect.

The shelter reminded me of a middle school cafeteria.  Everything seemed rather clean, if a bit musty, and the place was well lit and inviting.  Immediately at the entrance was a booth where two or three people were chatting on the phone, eyes on computer screens, but someone noticed us and asked if he could help.  My dad said that we were volunteers from Indonesian Presbyterian Church (IPC), there to help serve dinner for the night.  Then he signed off on a form and we were all sent back to the kitchen for orientation.

The people in the kitchen were friendly. One was a tall black man with a smile on his face and the other was a short, tough guy who might have been Hispanic. We later found out that he was the football coach of one of our fellow volunteers, which helped us all relax. We waited awhile since the full force of 15 people had not yet arrived and got started by storing our jackets and bags in a locked closet. We were soon busy putting on aprons, washing our hands, putting on gloves and learning about the different roles in the cafeteria. I would be assigned to serve salad from the middle of the cafeteria with several other men who would serve dressing, cheese and desserts. The ladies got to stay behind the kitchen counter and serve meals on trays.

Union Gospel Mission has about one hundred residents who actually live in the shelter and go through a recovery program called New Creations.  These men get one-on-one counseling through the Genesis Addiction Recovery process, participate in Bible studies and take daily responsibilities within the Mission.  We started serving these residents at 5:00pm—they get first dibs.  At 5:30pm, the doors opened for everyone and anyone to come in from the streets and have a free meal.

My friends and I were ready around 4:45pm, so we joked about school and girls while waiting for the clock to run down to dinner time.  Eventually several residents filed into the cafeteria.  They were all clean and most were friendly as they collected their food.  One of the residents who I’ll call Jim chatted with my dad while he ate.  He was a tall white man with tattoos on both arms and a short, orange beard.  I had no idea what they were talking about, but it seemed engaging.

Soon the doors opened for everyone else; the panoply of Seattle’s homeless.  Some smelled of urine while others looked like they were fresh out of the shower.  Some wore dilapidated shirts and pants with grimy jackets while others may have shopped at Nordstrom’s.  I couldn’t help but think that some of these folks weren’t homeless at all—just freeloaders looking for a free meal—but who am I to judge?

Even though it was a Men’s Shelter, there were women in line for food as well.  One older woman was very well dressed and even brought her own plate and silverware.  This sharply contrasted with others who looked really dirty like kids who had just played out in the rain.  It was a sad and joyful scene.  Sad that people had to endure such difficult lives, but joyful that we got to be of service and experience what it’s like to love like Jesus does.  There is a sense in which His love is indiscriminate, people who are so poor you can’t help but help them, people who don’t say thank you when you serve them, people who freeload, and people who shine with gratitude—Jesus Christ is kind to all whether they are grateful or not.

As I served salad out of a giant tub, Jim ambled over and sat down next to me, surveying the room.  I asked the next man in line “Would you like some salad, sir?”  He nodded his head with a big smile and said, “Yes, yes, thank you!  God bless you!”  I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it, except that Jim stood up and whispered to me, “You hear that man thanking you?  That’s the Holy Spirit thanking you, right there.”  And a few moments later he said with soft-spoken passion, “Jesus died for every person in this room.”  While I was somewhat wary of the theological imprecision of his statements, I was moved too.  It was as if God were so pleased with us and delighted to see us serving the poor.  His pleasure is contagious.

It turns out that Jim had a really broken background.  He was smart, no doubt, having discovered a way to automatically generate credit card numbers and using them to get the works: babes, booze, big TVs and drugs.  He had been in and out of jail several times, but what always amazed him was that UGM would still take him back.  I think he put it best when he explained, “Rehab doesn’t work.  Detox doesn’t work.  But the gospel—it works.  The gospel of grace.”

When dinner was over we helped clean up a bit while other residents came down and mopped the floor.  I was relieved and rejuvenated.  A lot of my worries and suspicions about the homeless gave way to compassion.

After feeding everyone freely, UGM has a chapel service.  No one is required to go, but everyone who attends is allowed to sleep on the foam mattresses they setup in the cafeteria.  They do this tirelessly day after day: serving the poor, feeding the hungry, preaching the gospel and watching God do the impossible.  If you find your soul in need of refreshment, I highly recommend going.  The grace you experience serving at UGM is a great way to remember (or encounter for the first time) the grace everyone—homeless or not—can experience at the Cross.

Contact www.ugm.org for more information.

Article written for Indonesian Presbyterian Church.