Monday, June 18, 2018

Small Village Church

The Pastors’ Conference had ended on Saturday and now I am back in Ranau. Yesterday I preached in a little church near Kiulu, Tamparuli where only 20 adults gathered. I preached a full message like usual from Phil 3:1-11 and drops of sweats fell for at least 30 minutes of my sermon. It was so hot in the pulpit that the elder later apologised that there was no fan over the pulpit and that only one ceiling fan at the centre of the little church. Anyhow I enjoyed the breakfast and lunch fellowship very much and it is good not to neglect small churches that could not afford love gifts.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Women’s Conference

I attended the Women’s Conference for the first time in 3 years. Three years ago thanks to the Conference in KK we escaped the 6.0 Ranau earthquake. I was amazed at the dedication of the women’s folks. Last night’s attendance was more than 4,500 people and those registered broke records, a total of 2,500 people. Now the Women’s Conference if attendance is kept up may even exceed that of the Youth Conference which had a 15 year head start. I wasn’t surprised because in almost all the 30 plus churches I had preached in since 2014 women would make up 70percent of the congregation. Alas where are the men and young men?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jubilee & A Life of True Freedom

Yesterday at Kota Belud I spoke about the number, 153 in John 21 - the 153 large fishes caught by Jesus' disciples. What does the number stand for? One way of looking at it is that 153 is 51x3. The number 51 is significant because it begins a new cycle of 50 years, the 50th year being Jubilee where every man is commanded to return to his own land (Lev 25) and if there is any debt accrued it must be cancelled or absolved by the creditor so that every man in Israel is free from debt and not be burdened by subjection to creditors and landowners because the debtor's inheritance/land is restored to him in the year of Jubilee.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Preaching for 1 hour

I did not realise that my sermon went for almost one hour -  58 minutes to be exact. I rose to the pulpit at 9.55 and stopped at 10.53am. With the closing prayers and short announcements the meeting lasted exactly 2 hours. I did not look at my watch once while preaching and I went with the flow and how attentive the 300 adults were. In fact they were in rapt attention except one or two who went for toilet break. It was not an easy sermon to preach over 7 points where for each point I gave a scripture and shared how we interpret it and for 4 or 5 points I shared my personal testimony of how I obeyed God’s word which I regard as having the highest authority. After service we had another 30 minutes in church talking to various people. One tambourine dancer whom I met 2 years ago as a 12 year old is now almost as tall as I am.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Word of God as the Highest Authority

I was invited to preach tomorrow on this topic 10 days ago just as I was preparing to go to Keningau. I accepted straightaway as I thought this topic was interesting and highly relevant. Though I did not think I would need more than 10 days to prepare for this message but for the past week I have been reflecting on how to approach this topic. Now I realise I probably need a whole month to give justice to this question. What is it that we consider that the Word of God as the highest authority? I will look at it from 7 perspectives. First, the Word of God commands obedience and it is prescriptive - love your God with all your heart....or love your enemies. These commands arc things we must do. In other words, these are propositional truths. Second, God’s commands can be proscriptive. They command us not to do certain things. “do not covet” or “do not be drunk with wine” (Eph 5:18). Third, the Word of God is descriptive. Like the early church devoted itself to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). We need to somewhat work out for us in 21stcentury how we do church and how we follow the patterns of the early church. Fourth, the Word of God has many narratives or stories which I call narrative authority. When Ruth said to Boaz “why do you care since I am a foreigner?” It was meant for us to do what Boaz did to care and consider the needs of foreigners.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Month that Was

It was a month that will go down in history as epochal in changing the political landscape of the country. For the first time in my lifetime I witnessed a change of government in Malaysia whereas in my decade-long sojourn in NZ for education I had witnessed at least 4 or 5 change of governments with a total of 7 or 8 Prime Ministers. So it is historical in Malaysia and yesterday the Finance Minister announced that more than RM7 million had been donated to the Nation Hope Fund by ordinary citizens. It reminded me what John F Kennedy said half a century ago "Do not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". If such hope is generated by people of the world that yearned for change for the better it can be a bit discouraging to see within the church, members can still take things so easily as far as the kingdom of God is concerned.  Many want to go to church but few want to follow Christ.  Many want to go to heaven but very few are willing to pay the price.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Travelling for the Lord

When I read how an Argentine tennis player drove 10 hours from Barcelona to Paris to play at Roland Garros I was mightily encouraged. Yesterday I rested all day from my long weekend ministry in Keningau. For the first time I took the Kimanis to Keningau road that passes through the Crocker Range. It has some majestic sights along the way but for about 30 minutes it was mostly steep climbs and my Triton pickup slowed considerably as it climbed to 4 or 5 thousand feet above sea levels. Reaching Keningau from my home 🏠 in KK in less than 2.5 hours was a relief. It was just past noon and my class did not start until at night so I managed to get some rest in a local hotel. I taught for almost 8 hours - 2.5 hours Friday night and 5 hours on Saturday. My students took me for morning tea break which went for 45 minutes but the fellowship of the saints was what mattered. I had a late lunch on my own and returned to the hotel to prepare for the Sunday sermon. It happened that on Saturday nighi there was a youth meeting for the District of Keningau.

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