- Christian Social Network
Sunday, November 27, 2011
September 24, 2010 … It was our first “GIRLS' NIGHT” at Jimmy Kozman Ohanian’s place. An idea that was brought up and initiated by Jimmy herself. She wanted to gather up the girls of Emmanuel Chanits and form a small group that by time celebrated happiness and success, supported each other in times of sadness and worries and prayed for each other and still continues to pray. By this, a special bond was created between the girls.
This “GIRL’S NIGHT” is a special night for all the girls and each one eagerly waits for it to gather up and spend quality time with the other girls.
We are a group of 10 girls who meet once a month, on Fridays, in Jimmy Kozman Ohanian’s house. The night starts with prayer before eating. While eating, we talk, laugh and share and spend quality time together.
When we first started, we used to have different discussion topics each time. Topics that the girls were interested of and Jimmy & Sirag were used to prepare and lead it. But it has been five months that we started discussing a book by Charles R. Swindoll called “Esther: A Woman of Strength and Dignity”. The book talks about Esther, a character from the Bible and in it explains that Esther did not become great in her own strength but was empowered by God when she surrendered her live to Him.
After the discussion is over, we have prayer time. Each one of us shares with the others if she has any topics for prayer and asks the other to pray for and then we have a prayer time.
In the name of all the girls, I want to thank Jimmy for everything that she did and still does to make this night possible.
It was a great opportunity for us, the teachers of the Nor Marash Armenian Evangelical Church's Sunday School, to participate in a seminar and be with JOSH MC DOWELL (a professional in sex education).
Dr. Dowell insisted on the importance of sex, love and relationship, considering the truth in the Bible, and the principles of medical science and culture. He says that as long as we have the internet, one culture exists, which is the internet-Facebook culture.
God has created sex, which is a beautiful thing. We must have complete knowledge of it and we must be able to wait for it in order to have a long, happy and healthy life.
He insisted that Sex education should be taught at home. Questions kids and teenagers ask have to be answered simply, honestly and truthfully. They should feel free and safe to ask their parents and not to be obliged to go to other sources for information like their peers or the Internet. He mentioned that nowadays teenagers are tempted to view with just 1 click at over 500 million pornography sites. So, WAKE UP parents, prepare your child to face it. All over the world, teenagers who are having sex freely are likely to get the HPV virus, which is incurable. Unfortunately people don't talk about it. This virus is 10 times faster than HIV virus. There are a hundred different strains of this HPV (Human Pupiloma Virus) virus. Be aware, having one act of sex you get 5 STD's diseases (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).
A sexually active woman can expect to have (80%) from this virus, and a sexually active man can expect to have (70%) from this virus.
Sometimes parents encourage their children to go ahead and have sex using a condom, they don't advise them to wait. Oh! Sorry, don't be deceived, be alert and help them understand that a condom is a zero; it doesn't protect them from the viruses.
For a girl, a loving close-relationship with her daddy is very essential and is better than peer pressure and the Internet. For a boy, both the mother and the father should teach that True Love waits. Sex that starts with your wife endures beautifully. We have memory hormones so don't do something now that will affect in your marriage badly. Your memory has an effect on your sex life in the future. Your sex-relationship experience sticks on your brain like a paper-clip. It remains with you throughout your life. And a sexually immoral person sins against his body.
Teenagers need to listen to their parents, because parents see things that teenagers don't see.
A high level of parent-family bond is powerful enough to avoid sexual involvement.
Forcing rules without a positive parent -teenager or child relationship leads to rebellion, which is not a desired outcome because it leads to other negative behaviors and outcome.
Children learn compassion, forgiveness and repentance from their parents. Parents should teach that sex does not just happen, you choose to have sex.
We should nourish and cherish our brains which are God-given to us.
Dr. Dowell defined love in 2 words which are to provide and to protect.
You love, the way you love yourself (2 Timothy 3). So, loving one's self is important for the future, pure love of your partner (Eph. 5.29).
To love oneself means to nourish and to cherish. To nourish you have to grow as Jesus grew and matured in 4 areas: (mentally, physically, spiritually and relationally). To cherish means to protect and to care for. You nourish first and then you cherish and protect yourself from books, drinks, TV programs, videos, and the Internet.
If you have any questions about this subject, please contact www.askjoshtoday.com
HOW DO I FACE PEER PRESSURE
1. Find a good friend with the same commitment about sex.
2. Write down your commitment to abstain from sex
3. Practice assertiveness.
4. make sure your friends know your values
5. Don't get involved with someone who doesn't share your values (1 Cor.15.33)
6. Plan your dates to avoid difficult situations.
7. Avoid alcohol and drugs (you will lose the ability to say no)
8. Introduce your date to your parents
9. Find a friend that will reinforce good decisions.
Song of Solomon
Proverbs 2, 3, 8
1 John 2. 1
Hebrew 10. 10-14
Psalm 51: 1-4
1 Thessalonians 4.1-3
1 Corinthians 13
Photos by Nayiri Tersakian
In the photos, the Sunday School teachers of the Nor Marash Evangelical Church (Aline, Christine, Nayiri, Anita, Barouyr), also present are Badveli Datev Basmajian and Yeritsouhi Garine Cholakian.
On Sunday, 23 October, members from the ACO (Action Chrétienne en Orient), the Christian Action in the East, participated in the worship service and had fellowship with the members of the church.
"This little missionary organization was born in 1922 in Alsace, with the goal at that time to rescue victims of the Armenian population of Turkish atrocities committed against them, especially in Aleppo in northern Syria."
by Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian
LOS ANGELES - The Executive Committee of the Armenian Evangelical World Council (AEWC) held its annual meeting on October 14 at the United Armenian Congregational Church in Los Angeles, California.
Back (L to R): Mr. Levon Filian; Rev. Dr. Rene Leonian; Rev. Joel Mikaelian; Rev. Joseph Matossian; Rev. Megrditch Karagoezian; Rev. Harout Selimian; Dr. H. Steven Aharonian. Front (L to R): Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian; Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian; Mrs. Joyce Philibosian Stein. Absent from picture: Mr. Albert Momjian, Esq.
The following representatives of the member organizations of AEWC were in attendance: Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian-President; Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian-Executive Director; Rev. Dr. René Leonian-Vice President; Rev. Megrditch Karagoezian-Secretary; Mrs. Joyce Philibosian Stein,Mr. Levon Filian, Dr. H. Steven Aharonian, Rev. Joseph Matossian, and Rev. Haroutune Selimian.
The Executive Committee received the reports of the seven constituent member organizations of the AEWC, as well as those of its President, Executive Director, and the Treasurer. The Executive Committee acknowledged, reviewed, and evaluated the reports of those AEWC members, who participated in the following activities in Armenia:
The Pastors' Seminar for the ministers and religious workers in Armenia on September 11-15, 2011.
Genocide Centennial Pan-Armenian Committee on September 16, 2011.
Twentieth Anniversary celebrations of AMAA ministries in Armenia, September 16 and 20, 2011.
The Armenia-Diaspora Conference, September 19 and 20, 2011.
The Executive Committee registered its appreciation for the 165th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Armenian Evangelical Church by the AE churches worldwide.
It also registered its appreciation on the compilation of the archival materials of AEWC for the past 32 years (1978-2011), which are professionally bound in book-form and are presently housed in the AEWC archives at the AMAA headquarters in New Jersey.
Furthermore, the Executive Committee resolved the following:
1. At the conclusion of Rev. Dr. Rene Leonian's tenure as representative of AEWC and AMAA in Armenia, it resolved to extend AEWC's profound appreciation and gratitude to him, and his wife Sylvie, for their dedicated services of 17 years to our fatherland Armenia in general, and to the Evangelical Church of Armenia in particular. It also resolved to appoint Rev. Rene Leonian as the AEWC's and AMAA's representative to the Armenian Evangelical Union of Eurasia.
2. To appoint a Planning Committee for the All Armenian Evangelical Pastors' Retreat, to be held at La Source, France, from April 8 to 12, 2013.
3. To thank the United Armenian Congregational Church of Los Angeles for playing host to its annual meeting.
4. To hold the next AEWC's biennial meeting on Friday October 19, 2012 at the Headquarters of the AMAA, 31 West Century Road, Paramus New Jersey.
Source: The Armenian Reporter
(L to R): AMAA benefactors, Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Joyce Stein, Catholicos Aram l and Archbishop Mardirossian.
UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIF. - The October 15 Gala Banquet of the Armenian Missionary Association of America titled Nine Decades of Christian Faith and Service at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, assembled together in one room were Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian Prelate of the Western Prelacy, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian Primate of the Western Diocese, Father Krikor Chahinian Pastor of Glendale's St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church, a large assemblage of Armenian Evangelical Pastors from Armenia, Europe, Middle East, U.S. and Canada and keynote speaker the Honorable Marvin R. Baxter, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court.
After a welcome by the Executive Director of the AMAA Levon Filian, the Master of Ceremonies team of Ken Kevorkian and Joe Stein alternated introductions. In his keynote address, Judge Baxter who was appointed to the court by Governor George Deukmejian in 1991, chronicled the story of a California Supreme Court Justice during the Gold Rush era.
AMAA President Dr. H. Steven Aharonian, recognized Rev. Rene Leonian for his dedicated 17-year mission of service in Armenia and also thanked Mrs. Leonian (Sylvie), a pharmacist, who worked at the AMAA's Yerevan Medical Clinic. Rev. Leonian will soon open a new field for the AMAA in Eurasia. The musical program was coordinated by Rev. Nerses Balabanian who accompanied soloists' tenor Raffi Kerbabian and soprano Salpi Keleshian. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian delivered an uplifting spiritual message to the audience.
Rev. Mgrditch Melkonian, Moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, warmly introduced Catholicos Aram I who was in California from Antelias, Lebanon for a 20-day official Pontifical visit.
The Pontiff brought the crowd to its feet and captivated the audience with an eloquent, ecumenical message of hope. He referred to the gathering of the Apostolic, Evangelical, and Catholic churches, declaring that "We all belong to the same tree, but we have different branches, sharing the same values with different articulation." "Jesus Christ reminds us," he affirmed, "that when two people are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them. Our mission is our people and serving our people. Our churches should work together. This is our challenge."
Joyce Stein, on behalf of the AMAA and in honor of His Holiness Aram I, announced that the AMAA has established a special fund for Haigazian University to offer a course for two years through its Center for Continuing Education to seminary students of the Great House of Cilicia at Antelias.
Mrs. Stein commended Harry and Cheryl Nadjarian who made a $10,000 contribution to support the continuing education of priests at Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon. For many years His Holiness Aram I has taught at Haigazian.
The AMAA presented a video describing the current worldwide missions of the AMAA in 24 countries. Presently there are 145 Armenian Evangelical churches and fellowships worldwide, Haigazian University, 25 Armenian Evangelical schools, the Children's Milk Fund, summer and day camps for 5,800 children in Armenia and Karabagh, medical and dental clinics, sponsorships of needy children, and tuition aid through the AMAA Child Education Program.
Rev. Joe Matossian of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America asked all of the clergy to approach the stage and was surrounded by priests and pastors from near and far as he offered the closing benediction.
Source: The Armenian Reporter
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Last week we were talking about preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus Christ. It is a time of preparation. Hope, having the hope of God’s glory is one of the ways we prepare in this season of Advent. Today we have a new and unusual character: John the Baptist. He has the message of preparing ourselves to meet Jesus. He is the road opener.
What can we learn from John’s life?
1. John the Baptist prepared us to see Jesus by living a GODLY LIFE.
He lived what he preached. Do you remember? We spoke about this under the word HYPOCRISY. Well, John did fight against the hypocrisy. John lived a special life which was effective.
People came to him. He welcomed them and baptized them. But he also used strong words when he saw hypocrisy. When the religious people came to him, he told them: “O generation of vipers ….” He did not compromise the message depending on his audience.
John’s devotion to God was firm and complete. God honors such a way of life.
Voltaire was an atheist. Once someone asked him whether God has any place in his life at all.
Voltaire said: “Yes, because of one person, Fletcher.”
Fletcher? Who is John Fletcher? He was friend of John Wesley’s. John trusted him. He was a simple man of faith. Wesley wanted Fletcher to be in charge of the Methodist after his death. However, Fletcher died before John Wesley did, and in his funeral John Wesley said that this man was perfect. Historians said that John Fletcher had a strong impact because of his goodness. He was a MAN of GOD. His lifestyle did matter.
I know a man in Beirut who does not speak the Arabic language fluently. He is an elderly man who retired last year. Most of his neighbors at his are Arabs. Yet, all his neighbors in the car mechanic stores around him call him “the ANGEL.”
How? How he can be an angel without words? His lifestyle matters.
St. Francis of Assisi said: “Preach Christ at all times; if necessary, use words!”
2. John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of the Jesus by going into the wilderness.
It is a time of joy, hope, love and peace. This is Christmas time. Who wants to talk about the wilderness?
Yes, it is a time of joy, hope, love and peace. Yet the definition of these words can be different than that of the world.
John went into the wilderness. He was away from noise and rush of those days especially from religious people. I feel already that the “Christmas rush” is behind us pushing us to think about everything except Jesus.
The latest fashion is what to call a Christmas tree.
Holiday tree? Season tree? Green tree? City tree? Municipality tree?
Sometimes, I am astonished by the diverse ideas about this tree. In any case, the tree does not have anything to do with the Biblical story of Christmas; it is just a tradition. People are offended of hearing the word “Christmas.” I am hearing that some powerful preachers and pastors are asking their congregation not to buy things from mega stores which are not using the word Christmas. And now some stores are changing the word back to Christmas. Some are apologizing that they printed the cards by using the word holiday. Next year they will correct.
The irony of all this mess is that the shoppers’ and business owners’ concern is economy.
John is calling us from the wilderness. In the Bay Area one can not feel the wilderness. You are surrounded by green trees. Some of you lived in Fresno and I lived in Syria; we know what the wilderness is. It is a tough area. But John is not talking about just the physical wilderness. He wants to tell us something else.
Let me quote Deuteronomy 8:2-3
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and test you … He humbles you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with Manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
You see it is a time to reflect and prepare. And I wonder if we have time for such a period of reflection and meditation. I wonder how many of us take time for daily quiet time and prayer.
You know sometimes we feel secure in this “busy-rush- Christmas” time. We hide in being busy. As if God does not see us. We don’t see God, but can you hide from GOD? God loves you. He wants you to go to the “wilderness” of silence and hunger, so that you will be fed by Manna, God’s food. This is God’s special recipe for “Christmas cake.” You can not find it in Safeway or any stores. John the Baptist is inviting us to be prepared from this perspective: the VOICE FROM WILDERNESS. It could be in your room, you do not have to go to the actual wilderness. But find time to spend ALONE with God.
3. John is prepared us to meet Jesus by asking us to repent.
Repentance means confronting sin. John the Baptist was someone who can not be silent when there is sin. He lost his life because he challenged even the KING. King Herod was in a wrong relationship. He was seduced by his brother’s wife. Religious leaders were silent about it. Not John the Baptist.
Apostle Paul writes about sin in Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” and “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
Throw off things that HINDER. These could be good things in our lives. It is interesting that the writer starts not with sin which is very dangerous, but with things that HINDER. These things could be very positive things. But they hinder you from Jesus.
Let me tell you the pressure of the Christmas gifts. We all are victim of this.
The more we have, the more we are picky of what I want and what you want. We have everything but still we buy things. Can someone explain to me this trap?
Gifts, inviting people, cooking, buying more than your budget, Christmas concerts, traveling, watching TV, positive things. Please, look and examine your life. What is HINDERING you?
Next part is sin. John the Baptist’s main concern was repentance from SIN. “Sin that easily entangles..” Envy, selfishness, not forgiving others, hate, disobedience to God, undisciplined life. You can read about fruits of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21
You can not throw off these sins without Jesus. Even John the Baptist forwarded his mission to Jesus. He said: “After me will come one more powerful than I… I am baptizing you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:7-8)
There is no better way to be ready for Christmas than repentance. As long as we live in flesh, we all are vulnerable to sin. So come to God with repentance.
Let us summarize:
Let us be the voice from the wilderness calling for the coming of the KING Jesus Christ Our Lord. John was the ROAD Opener, we too should open our doors and hearts for the coming EVENT.
Let us live a GODLY LIFE,
Let us go to the “wilderness” for time of reflection and meditation.
Let us repent and throw off whatever is hindering us and
Let us throw off the sin which easily entangles us.
Rev. Nerses Balabanian,
Calvary Armenian Congregational Church, San Francisco
During his visit to Lebanon, and to the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church, Paul Siwajian, shared his testimony.
Click on the image to read the testimony
From Friday 28 October to Sunday 30 October, the Chanitz youth of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church had their retreat in Kchag, the Christian Endeavor Summer Center.
During the retreat, the youth reviewed the "Experiencing God" book, which they had studied during the past months. The sessions were led by Mr. Serop Ohanian, the chairman of the youth committee.
Around 26 youth participated in the retreat and they had worship sessions, games and social events.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” 1 Peter 3:15.
If someone comes up to you and asks you “Why do you believe in God”, this question is an ordinary one for the one who exercises apologetics (defending faith by reason) or is just accustomed to defending his/her faith in front of believers or non-believers. Most of us might say, “Ah! Well no worries, I know I believe in God. It’s normal. I can defend it easily!” But when that day comes only a few will be able to proclaim the reason for their belief in the Lord.
Let’s check out the usuals:
“Well, you know I believe in God because, yea, it’s normal… I don’t know. What do you want me to say?” BAM! You lost. It’s the worst answer one can ever give.
“Well, I believe in God because many do, my parents, my friends. I was brought up in the church.” BAM! Wrong answer! If you were talking to an atheist, be sure that he’ll make fun of you for the rest of your days. And if the one facing you was a believer searching for some answers, then you surely gave him the wrong answer, so he needs to go somewhere else to find it.
“Well, I believe in God because He died for me.” If the guy in front of you is lost and is searching for an answer, I must admit that this is not bad. But if that person is a seasoned atheist and knows how to defend his territory, then BAM! Wrong answer! Many people in history died for others, just count those who died to defend an ideology, or just sacrificed themselves so that others may live.
It’s not an easy question after all, well at least not as easy as we thought at the beginning. And yet this is one of the simplest questions that you can be faced with. Let’s not even go about how to defend the divinity of Christ.
We live in a world where science is gathering much speed, and people are more attracted to scientific truth than to the Truth. And if we don’t compensate by reading and studying the Bible we can fall in it as well. It’s so easy to go astray.
Lately, somebody posed this question to me and my friends: “If God is perfect then how could he create something imperfect?” I considered it a fairly easy question, but my friend who is a believer said, “I don’t have an answer”. The guy was happy with his argument which obviously did work until I gave him one argument that may not have been that strong but one that could hold ground for some time. “The world was perfect in the beginning and God looked at what he had done and all of it was very good until Man disobeyed God. It was against God’s will for mankind to be separated from its creator. But God didn’t want us to be puppets he could play with. He gave us free will, providing us with a choice. You always have a choice.”
As Peter commands, we must always be ready to defend our faith. I believe studying apologetics is a great way of developing your faith and continuing the daily struggle with the outside world. Questions like “Why is there evil in this world? What does God have to say about this?” “How can you say Christ is divine?” ”How can you be sure of the truthfulness of the Bible?” “Why do you believe in miracles?” must be thought of to make sure you give a solid answer which might not totally disprove their question but would get them thinking.
To illustrate, one day an atheist writer came to see Martin Buber, a philosopher, with the question, “How can you prove God’s existence?” Buber remained silent. After repeating the question several times the writer became angry and just as he was about to fly down the stairs Buber stopped him, “Hold on! But can you be sure He doesn’t exist?” After 40 years, the writer writes, “I’m still an atheist, but Buber’s question haunts me everyday of my life”. It’s like Pascal’s Wager: if you believe you win it all or you don’t lose anything, but if you don’t believe then you’ve lost it all. This may not be an argument to bring someone to Christ but it has the same haunting power as the philosopher’s question.
I believe apologetics is a good key to success because you defeat your opponent with the same instrument he/she is using to convince you that what you believe is wrong.
Often seminars provide answers, but most of the time the answers don’t fit in the world that we’re living in. For instance, “Why is there suffering in the world?” Most intelligent Christians will tell you, “It’s because of sin”. That sounds logical. But let’s take a little boy suffering from heart disease or a rare kind of cancer. Can you go and say to the little kid’s face, “You know son, let me explain why this is happening to you: It’s because of sin”. I don’t know what his reaction will be, but I’ve got the feeling that the boy will tell you, “I don’t care if it is sin or not. If you’re so upset by all this, why aren’t you here trying to help me get out of this misery I am in?” We are God’s hands and feet, it’s our duty who are privileged to have and believe the Word to go and spread it to the ones that have not heard it, and not just spread it but live it. That makes all the difference.
So, at the end of the day, what will your answer be to “Why do you believe in God”? Is it going to be, “I believe because my family brought me up that way”, or “I believe in God because he gives me a reason to smile everyday, he gives purpose to my life. He has changed me from the inside, has known me from my mother’s womb, and knows the number of hair on my head. Who could ever care for me that much that he was ready to give up his own life. But he wasn’t just ready. His works reflected His words, not like any words that come from the mouth of Man. He made it happen, He is my God, and I will live for Him no matter what anyone says.”
Sunday, November 13, 2011
For a few minutes, let’s pretend we have just received a letter from Jesus addressed to CACC, 725 Brotherhood Way, SF. What do you think the content will be?
Will there be a paragraph or two commending our work here, our faithfulness?
All the work we do for the Food Festival?
How about commending us for driving up here every Sunday?
However, will there be any disapproval of the things we do?
Will there be any warnings?
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” (2-3)
“Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”(6)
What kind of attributes do we find in this church?
Jesus first commends them for being a hard working church. “I know that you have the zeal for preaching the TRUTH. I know that you are not tolerating false teachers. I know that you do have good doctrines. I know that your teachings are right and biblical” (Acts 20:28-31). Even Paul instructed Timothy to stop false teachers from teaching in Ephesus. (1 Tim 1:3). In verse 6 we read the name of one of those false teachers, Nicolaitans, about whom we will hear more later in the message to the church of Pergamum (2:15).
Jesus first commends them for being a church that perseveres and endures persecution. It seems the pagan society persecuted the church because of the church’s faithfulness to the Gospel. Let me remind you how Paul was persecuted by the Jews in the synagogue, as well as by the Gentile merchants who profited from the tourists who came to see the temple of Artemis. Neither false teachers nor persecution discouraged this church.
It looks like a good, solid, active church. What was wrong with it?
Yet, and yet… I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love (4)
After all the good qualities for a church to have (hard work, zeal for speaking the truth, not compromising with the values of the world, not compromising their doctrine with false teaching, standing firm in their faith against persecution) yet they have lost an important thing: their first love, their passion for Christ, their inner fire towards Christ, their FIRST LOVE for Him.
What kind of Love?
Is it Love towards God or Love towards the neighbor? It is not mentioned here. I believe love towards the neighbor and love towards believers are driven by our Love towards God. John writes in his letter “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). This was the problem they faced. It looked great on the outside, but it was cold inside.
It reminds me of the love relationship between married couples. You fall in love and you get married. How fragile do our relationships become when somehow love is lost during the years? How awkward are relationships when there is no passion to love the other?
Jesus gives three Commands:
“Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent,”(5)
Three verbs: remember, repent, repeat (do things)
1. They are to remember how life was when they first met Christ, the passion and the zeal that they had towards Him.
2. They should repent, and turn to God. “Restore the JOY of my salvation” is our yearly topic. David was an active king serving God, yet he lost his passion for God because of his sins. As a church, we all need to repent and turn to God.
3. They should repeat and live the life they used to live. It is important to stop a minute and ask: “Do we need to do all these activities? Why are we doing all this? Did we compromise our Love towards God and it was replaced by activities? Do I need all these unnecessary pressure that I created around my life?”
“I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (5b)
If Ephesus refuses to hear Jesus, there will be consequences. They will cease from existence. Today not only the church does not exist, they city of Ephesus is gone, and archeologists are working to bring back the lost city.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”(7)
Who is the overcomer? He/she is the one who has the ear to listen and obey what Jesus is saying. In our context, he/she is the one who maintains the first love, who remembers and repents, and lives the new life accordingly prioritizing the church’s ministry and mission.
What does it mean for us today?
I am worried that in the daily work of the church I have the temptation to stay active but forget my first love for God. While I was preparing this message, I asked myself, “Is my first love for Jesus still active in me?” Then I asked myself, “Does CACC have its first love for Jesus?”
Last weekend I was in Kansas. I went back to my homecoming. Yes that was the place that prepared me to go back and serve with music. That was the place where I grew up in my faith. That was the place that shaped my vision to serve God. It was nice to be in a place where life was simpler and slower. A place where people greeted you even though they do not know you.
I look to our life in the Bay Area and the rush that we live worry me. How much is the world penetrating in our life-style? Where is the limit to say No to unlimited hours of work, and say Yes to things that bring us back to our first love?
What makes us lose our first love? Perhaps during the week we live in a world of fantasies that promise us a good life. Let me quote from a friend who is pastor at the PBCC, a local church. “The dangerous fantasies from those fed us by Madison Avenue, by Wall Street, and Sand Hill Road. These fantasies arouse longings that disease our minds and hearts. They have all the appearance of reality, but they are fantasies.”
We are bombarded with these fantasies. We meet on Sunday to reconstruct our mind which is fed for six days with these lies. We live in a deceptive world. The reality of life hits us when suddenly an accident, a sickness, a shocking event… comes to our home, and we are awakened to see life with new eyeglasses.
We don’t need those to be awakened. The message is clear to us. I started the message with the letter we got from Jesus. We just read that letter and it is addressed to each one of us. Please ask this question:” Have I lost my love?”
Let us sing the Irish song “Be Thou My Vision.”
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Rev. Nerses Balabanian,
Calvary Armenian Congregational Church, San Francisco
Haigazian University celebrated its Founders’ Day on Monday, October 17, 2011, in the presence of the its Board members, faculty, staff and students. The ceremony started with the processional march and the Lebanese national anthem, followed by the invocation offered by the campus minister, Rev. Greg Lee-Parker. Haigazian University remembered its “55th Anniversary Year” in a striking PowerPoint presentation, depicting the broad range and diversity of the university’s events over the past year.
Every year since 1996 the student body of Haigazian University has elected a worthy student to represent them and following this annual tradition,Student Life Director Antranik Dakessian presented the Student of the Year 2011, TalarMandoyan, who shared her experiences of growth and fulfillment at Haigazian University.
Addressing the students in the audience, Mandoyan urged them to play an active role in the student life at the university, balancing academics with extracurricular activities.
“My advice to you is to take advantage of every second that you have. It’s about the new family that you are forming, the family of Haigazian,” Mandoyan concluded.
After a short musical interlude, including a beautiful piano piece of international Armenian composer Aram Khatchadourian, graciously played by student Maria Lena Kissoyan, and a vocal performance of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” by student Nanor Madjarian,Haigazian University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian delivered an inspiring speech, honoring the founders of the university and looking towards the future.
Haidostian paid tribute to four of the university’s founders: Stephen Mehagian, Stephen Philibosian, Rev. PuzantKalfayan and Rev. Hovhannes Aharonian. Highlighting the struggles and successes of these men, Haidostian described them as “people of faith and dedication who turned disaster into new life and opportunity.”
Turning his attention to the current students of Haigazian University, Haidostian emphasized their role in developing and impacting each other and their society. “Beyond serving ourselves, we already have a mission for the betterment of our world: our friends and families, community and country,” he explained.
Encouraging the youth to “grow and learn and give more good fruit in the future,” Haidostian concluded his speech by underscoring the importance of institutions like Haigazianin helping to foster this development, as they have been doing for the past 56 years.
The keynote address was delivered by Mrs. Laure Sleiman Saab, Director of the National News Agency in Lebanon, which has just celebrated its 50th year.
Saaab expressed her gratitude for being invited to this honorable event and congratulated the university on its 56th anniversary.
Taking the university motto to heart, Saab stressed on the importance of truth, freedom and service as they apply in various circles of life, whether it be schools, universities or the media.
Afterwards, President Haidostian presented Saab with a plaque of appreciation and congratulations for the 50 years of service of the National News Agency. Saab in turn presented Haidostian with a historical book featuring images of Lebanon between 1961 and 2011.
At the conclusion of the ceremony everyone rose to sing the university’s Alma Mater, which was followed by the recessional.
On Friday October 21, 2011, Haigazian University organized a lecture on developing renewable energy resources in Armenia.
After some welcoming remarks the main speaker was introduced by Haigazian University Physics Professor, Dr. Hratch Barsoumian.The lecturer for this event was Dr. Knel TourIan, a Princeton graduate who has worked for many years in the field of energy research, particularly renewable energy sources.
Tourian began his presentation by discussing the challenges that Armenia has in finding natural resources, being limited to hydropower from the Sevan Lake and the Vorotan Cascade. He also emphasized the problems and controversy surrounding nuclear energy before suggesting a solution.
Tourian, who has received several awards for his work, including a Distinguished Service Award from the US Federal Laboratory Consortium, organized a team with the Danish Energy Management Company to make a strategic plan on how to develop the renewable energy resources of Armenia over the next 10 years.
This plan, according to Tourian, should be able to provide up to 500MW of power to the country by 2020, mainly through the use of small hydro power plants and solar energy.
Tourian concluded by revealing that the results of this study, which was funded by the World Bank, were presented to the Armenian government and he is hopeful of Armenia’s “green” energy future.