2015-4-19 Called to Enhance Life, Pastor Tezenlo Thong


Called to Enhance Life

Acts 3:3-15

 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.


Today’s text in the book of Acts begins with the healing of a man who was lame from birth. We see two groups of people in the text: one group kills life; another group restores life. The religious leaders killed “the author of life” who came to provide abundant life. But God raised him from the dead. Following the resurrection, Peter and John healed a handicapped person. By doing so, they enhanced his life and restored his social status.

The story begins with a place called Beautiful in the gate area of the Jewish temple. In that place called Beautiful, there is someone whom society considers not so beautiful, because he was born handicapped. He is considered by others as an eye sore in a temple entrance. He is considered a burden to society. Life does not seem to have much value.

Peter’s healing not only makes the man to walk, but more importantly restores him fully to society. Here is a man whose life was considered worthless and a sore in the eye by society. By healing the man Peter and John enhanced the quality of his life. Healing brought wholeness to this once discarded man. It raised his social status and value in the eyes of others. He is no longer a second-class citizen, but a fully functioning member, equal to everyone.

In your action, word and attitude you either enrich life or diminish it. You either kill life or add meaning and purpose to life. You enrich life by visiting a sick or bereaved friend or church member. You enhance life when you bring joy and comfort to someone who is feeling lonely or hopeless. You enrich life when you enable someone to experience God’s love by your love and kindness.

Everyone is a child deeply loved by God who created her or him. Whether poor or rich, young or old, female or male, everyone carries God’s image. And everyone deserves respect and dignity. We are called not to kill or destroy life but to enrich and nurture life. In your word, action and attitude, don’t diminish life, but enrich the god-given life.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church



2015-2-8 Messages received from Sermon “I Am Free, BUT….” , Pastor Tezenlo Thong

“I Am Free, BUT….”

Messages received:

  • Free speech is a privilege but as a Christian I must use my freedom with restraint and love to all, especially to my friends and family.
  • With freedom comes responsibility.
  • Identify the needs of others in service to God.
  • Identify and understand intolerance and conflict.
  • Is it more powerful to act with love and with grace?
  • Does the individual need the group?  Does the individual always represent the group?
  • Respect does not dishonor others.

2015-2-8 Sermon “I Am Free, BUT….” , Pastor Tezenlo Thong

“I Am Free, BUT….”

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

In 1993, Samuel P. Hungtington proposed a theory that in the post-Cold War, religious/cultural identities would be the major cause of conflict in the world. This seminal concept was first published as an article entitled A Clash of Civilizations. Are we, indeed, living in a period of a clash of civilizations? The recent killing of Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine staff and other Parisians by some religious extremists masquerading as “believers” has prompted condemnations around the world. Although there are some who believe that the killing was justified, most reasonable people across cultures and religious traditions condemn the taking of lives.

This unfortunate and atrocious event has triggered a crucial debate on freedom of speech. From prominent religious leaders (like the Pope) to political figures (such as the British Prime Minister), opinions are being raised in relation to freedom of expression and its responsibility. Does freedom of expression have responsibility? Is it acceptable to insult someone’s fundamental value in the exercise of my fundamental value?

The right to freedom of speech is often invoked as a fundamental right in the West. It is enshrined in the constitution or Bill of Rights. Many would go to the extent of arguing that free speech includes freedom to offend, mock, insult and provoke.

Do Christians have the right to freedom of speech? Yes, we do. Does it include the freedom to offend, insult or mock? Peter says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). Paul knew that he was free, but he voluntarily and willingly constrained himself so that he might be able to “win” some for God. Christian freedom comes with responsibility and limitations.

The scripture says, “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Our speech must be adorned with love always. Easer said than done, no doubt, but a principle worth trying. So, what does it mean to speak in love? Paul says, “Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). On one hand, to love is to refrain from doing anything to “dishonor others” (unlike what Charlie Hebdo does). On the other hand, love is “not easily angered” to perpetrate violence (unlike what the extremists did).

Because the secular government allows us to do certain things does not mean that they are in agreement with the Christian or godly principle. If my free speech is going to hurt, or cause harm, violence or death, I need to exercise prudence. Words can kill. Words also can heal.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church


2015-2-1 Messages received from Pastor Tezenlo Thong’s Sermon God’s Sufficient Grace

God’s Sufficient Grace

Messages Received:

  • I learned that I fall shamefully short when it comes to offering Grace to others. This week and beyond I will focus myself and consciously try to be the graceful person God wants me to be.
  • What is Grace? How have you experienced Grace?  How have you given Grace?
  • Grace is a gift from God.
  • Grace comes to us from faith.
  • Definition of Grace – God’s unmerited favor and as we receive Grace we are called to be gracious as well.
  • God has bestowed Grace to all of us. We are so fortunate, thus we need to in turn bestow the grace we have received to others.
  • Grace expressed (received from God, witnessed given by God, our gifts to others) through loving kindness, mercy, goodwill, redemption through faith and unmerited favor.
  • We receive Grace and have the ability to give Grace to others.
  • Our following God’s example and ministering Grace to the unlovely, unpleasant, undeserving and unlikeable may change their lives forever.
  • Our following God’s example and ministering Grace to the unlovely, unpleasant, undeserving and unlikeable may change our lives forever.

2015-2-1 Sermon God’s Sufficient Grace, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

God’s Sufficient Grace

Mark 1:21-28

The man in today’s gospel text was healed by Jesus. He was not the only person with physical trouble or illness. There were thousands of people who wanted to be healed. Out of so many sick people, Jesus chose him to show his grace and healed him. The sick man did not deserve the favor. But he did receive grace on that day.

Should we ask, “Why him and not others?” Who are we to ask or question the provision of God’s grace? Has any one who received your blessing ever stopped you and asked, “Why are you doing this to me out of so many people who need your help?” Paul says in Romans, “[God] will have mercy on whom God will have mercy, and compassion on whom God will have compassion.”

The word “grace” has a wide range of meaning. It could mean different things depending on context and situation. It could mean loving-kindness, mercy, delight, favor, affection, sweetness, attractiveness, goodwill, and so on. The Greek word for grace is kharis (χαρις). In the New Testament, “grace” appeared 156 times. It appeared mostly in the epistles, especially in Paul’s letter. Kharis (grace) appeared only a few times in the gospels. In the gospels kharis simply means favor. For example, in Luke 2:52, it says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

Kharis or grace is often described as God’s unmerited favor. In its limited sense, kharis (grace) means God’s redemptive grace. But in its general sense, we experience God’s unmerited favor every day in our life. We are what we are because of God’s unmerited favor toward us. Grace is not earned. Grace excludes merit or action. Grace is therefore defined as God’s unmerited favor.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church


2015-1-25 Messages received from Sermon Making a Complete Reversal, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

Making a Complete Reversal

 Messages Received: 

  • Opportunity to change continuously
  • Can our actions change God’s mind?
  • Let go of your hate for those who you regard as enemies as they are not your enemies but also God’s children
  • Change your mind, actions, attitude – Repent
  • Other faiths, other cultures, are not our enemies
  • Repentance begins with me

2015-1-25 Sermon Making a Complete Reversal, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

Making a Complete Reversal

(Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Mark 1:14-20)

The connecting theme of our reading today, among other things, is repentance. The English word repentance and conversion are cognates. And the Greek word is metanoia. “Meta” means “change” and “noia” means “mind”. So, “metanoia” means a “change of mind”. To repent, therefore, means to make a complete reversal of thinking or to change mind.

First, we have the story of Jonah in the city of Nineveh. Whenever we hear the story, we think of the repentance of the people of Nineveh, that they heard Jonah’s warning and repented and God forgave them. In this story, we see three reversals or changes of mind. The people of Nineveh changed their mind; God changed God’s mind; and Jonah, of course, was given an opportunity to change his mind toward his “enemies” but refused to do so.

The change of mind among the Ninevites led to the change of God’s mind. The people repented, and God decided not to destroy them. Does God change? Do our actions compel God to change God’s mind? Finally, the book of Jonah is revolutionary, because it challenges the status quo theologically. We read of an inclusive God who forces Jonah/the Jews to be tolerant, gracious and inclusive toward their perceived enemies. A change of mind leads to a change of attitude and action.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church


2015-1-18 messages Received from Sermon One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods? Tezenlo Thong

“One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods?”

Messages received:

  • Exclusivism, Inclusivism, Pluralism?
  • One God, a pluralist may bring more peace in the world.
  • Are we all going to the same place?
  • Religion, a way of life.
  • Can freedom of religion bring peace?

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church


2015-1-18 Sermon One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods? Tezenlo Thong

“One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods?”

Psalm 19:1-6, 14

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,

O God, my rock and my redeemer.


According to one estimate, there are roughly 4,200 religions. The editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World believed that there are 19 major religions, which are further subdivided into 270 large religious groups and many smaller ones. The book also identifies 34,000 separate Christian groups, of which about 1000 Christian groups in Canada and US believe that they are the only true church or believers.

That is a lot of religions and faith groups! Are all religions and/or faith groups equal or the same? Are all equally true? In the midst of all these, can one make an absolute truth claim? For our purpose, let us consider two questions: “Do all religions lead to the same God? Or do different religions lead to different gods/Gods?”

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church


2015-1-11 Messages Received from Sermon “Trailblazers in God’s Appointed Time” Tezenlo Thong

“Trailblazers in God’s Appointed Time”

Messages received:

  • The luxury of Kairos time has been an alien theme to me since I’ve grown out of childhood.  Once Chronos time became my way of life, Kairos time was as a distant memory of heaven.
  • God is outside of time.
  • Today, this moment, is the time to act.
  • Live to say, “I have no regrets”.