Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Where You are, there I will be" (John 12)

I wish I could take a vacation without worrying about the papers I have yet to mark. I have been rushing like mad to get the papers graded but alas there are still a few more left on my desk. This morning, wanting a break from my office I took a stack of essays to breakfast. I managed to grade 2 essays while enjoying a croissant at Bukit Timah Plaza. I felt a bit guilty for spending S$10.00 on breakfast after reading Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography that he fasted often and survived on fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Preaching on the Trinity

Today I preached a sermon on the Trinity based on Matt 28:19, John 20:23 and Rev 1:4-7. I wanted to talk about Eph 4:7 and Phil 3:3 as well but time ran out on me. Nowadays I try to limit my preaching to 30 minutes among Singaporean churches. From Matt 28:19, I spoke about the nature of our salvation is directly related to the Trinity. Each person of the truine God is directly and completely involved in our salvation. The Father sent the Son; the Son died for our sins and the Spirit quickens us in the knowledge of God and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. I spoke about the nature of baptism as immersion, a participation in the Godhead. We are baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Greek preposition eis (into) signifies movement into something - participation in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We have our being in the Trinity; we live in God - Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Conversely, the triune God makes his dwelling in us. I spoke about the singular name in Matt 28:19, it is the name and not the names of the Trinity, showing that God is one but in three persons.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

On the Trinity

In the lectionary tomorrow it is Trinity Sunday. So I am going preach on the Trinity. I don't think I have preached on the Trinity from the pulpit before. I had conducted seminars on the Trinity but preaching on a Sunday service is a new experience. I have much time to prepare but I am not going to have anything written down. Just expound on several texts on the Trinity. First, Matt 28.19 the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then on John 20 and also Rev 1.4-7. Each passage will take about 10 minutes, making it a 35min sermon with 5min conclusion. Trinity and salvation. Trinity and mission. And Trinity and the coming Kingdom.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Celebrating 60 months in Singapore

Today I received my 60th month's salary after arriving in Singapore at the end of May 2008. I celebrated God's bounty towards me with a bit of splurging on myself. I can't remember the last time I spent so much money on myself with a measure of abandonment. Previously, I spent money on my wife and on my son. Last Christmas I bought a laptop for my son, paid the bond for his new flat, paid for his summer school and even sent him money twice when he started work full time in February. I thought perhaps for once I enjoyed freely what God has given, the fruits of my labour. I was tempted to buy the recently released Samsung Note 8-inch tablet but ended up not doing so. Perhaps another day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Marketing & Promoting the Ministry

Often Christian leaders are hesitant to market and promote themselves and their ministry for the fear of appearing worldly, fame seeking, boasting or trumpeting one's credentials and achievements. I suppose these worldly concerns are real but there is a place where one could market and promote oneself with humility, truth and total transparency.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Lord's Mercies are Great

Despite our human weakness and sinfulness, God has a way to deal with us, chastening us betimes, healing us and making us partakers of his holiness. The root of sin is deep and firmly set in our souls; our flesh is weakened by sin and there is no power able to uproot indwelling sin except the power of the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus. Even as we sin, instead of turning away from God which is a natural reaction of shame and disgust, we should turn to God who is our salvation for who shall deliver us from this body of death? But thanks be unto God! It is through the Lord Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins and unrighteousness, our conscience is purged from lingering guilt and we stand forgiven and upright before the righteous God who has made us righteous through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. We are, therefore, clothed with Christ's righteousness through faith in Him. The Lord's mercies are great and therefore we are not consumed by the fire of his holiness. In Christ, we are sanctified and made holy and acceptable to a holy God as a living sacrifice - our bodies consecrated by the water of the word, our minds transformed by a new and living way, according to His great mercies which He has bestowed on us, God's beloved children. Behold, the love which he has given to us that we might be called the children of God.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Testament 2 Exams in Session


Trinity Theological College, Singapore
NT 2 Exams (2013): Answer 3 questions only, 1 question from each Section (Time allowed: 3 hours; open book)

Section A: Paul’s Letters (Answer 1 question only):
1.       How is the Gospel preached by Paul the apostle (Romans 1:16-17) connected with the list of vices from Romans 1:18 onwards? Discuss Paul’s view on homosexuality in Romans 1.
2.       In what ways are the Philippians called to partner Paul the apostle in the proclamation of the Gospel?
3.       How is a man or woman of God equipped for the work of the ministry according to 1 & 2 Timothy?
4.       “Paul’s boasting of his weaknesses and not his achievements” subverts his opponents’ notion of charismatic leadership. What is Paul’s theology of ministry according to 2 Corinthians?
5.       Explain the chronology of events that will precede Jesus’ parousia according to 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Romans It Is


Romans: Paul’s Inclusive Gospel
(Tony Siew)

Paul’s letter to the Romans is his magnum opus. The letter to the Romans is at once an occasional letter addressing congregational issues and at the same time Paul’s most systematic and elaborate of letters. In it, Paul discusses the nature of his gospel to the Jews and Greeks (Rom 1-8), God’s promises to Israel (Rom 9-11), and the outworking of the gospel in Church and Society (Rom 12-13). Finally, in Rom 14-15, Paul promotes an inclusive ethic for Christians that advises the Gentiles (the strong) to accommodate certain practices of the Jews (the weak) in order that all believers from diverse ethnic groups can be united in worship and in the advancement of the gospel in the world. This course will look at the above themes with particular focus to Paul’s inclusive gospel as a model for the urban church of the 21st century to embrace diverse ethnic groups as members of one church, “so that together we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6).

Finale

I have just handed in the final Greek 2 results to the Academic Dean's office after 5 hours of marking since the exams were completed yesterday. The final grade consists of the total marks obtained based on yesterday's final exams (45%), 5 exercises (20%), 2 Quizzes (10%) and 1 mid-Semester Test (15%).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Preaching Aftermath

A pastor in Sabah preached a couple of months ago that he would sleep for 2 full days to recover from preaching one sermon. My colleague just preached in Chapel that she would take 2 weeks to recover from all her exertions preparing for one sermon. I am always amazed by preachers of old who could preach almost everyday and sometime several times a day for many years. I read that Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Bishop in America preached a total of 16,000 sermons over a period of 40 years, an average of 400 sermons a year. My most intense preaching was the time when I served as Treasurer-General of SIB where I preached 300 sermons in 3 years in 70 villages and towns, an average of 100 sermons a year. A sermon would last anything between 50 to 60 minutes. I was in my early 30s then. Now most churches in Singapore require that I preach for 25 minutes and certainly not more than 30 minutes which works out well for me as I am not getting younger.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Preaching in the Heartlands

Every sermon is a new experience. Every time I preached I learned something new. Today as usual I got up real early for a 10.30am service. With hours to spare, I had time to grade a few NT essays before going through my sermon for a last time. I went 90 minutes early as the sun was bearing down and it's very hot by 9am in the morning. At the end I had to take off my tie and for the first time I preached without a tie in Singapore. That's something new!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Waiting for the Lord: How long, Lord?

I wish I could just focus on marking papers in the final week of the semester before graduation next Saturday. But instead, I have one meeting to attend next Monday on housing for students, 2 exams to invigilate (Greek 2 followed by NT 2) and a closing communion service on Friday. I have begun to grade my NT 2 papers and so far the students had performed better than expected. Further, I am settling on the course reader for Romans next Semester. I will list at most 7 books. I regretted listing too many for John's Gospel which probably overwhelmed some of the students. At the end, I required them to read a total of 12 articles within 13 weeks, a little bit too much considering that most students are doing 4 other courses.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Elective on Paul's Romans

It's only in my 6th year as a full-time lecturer that I dared to venture into Paul's theology and offer an elective, beginning July 2013. Not that I had not planned to offer Paul's Romans earlier or lack the love for this great theologian. As a young Christian, I have always been drawn to Paul, even before John. Galatians and Romans were the two most memorable letters in the early months as a new-born babe in Christ and then comes the Gospel of John. My favourite verse then was Romans 5:5, "the love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Planning Ahead

After 3 days in Sabah over a long week-end of election fever, I am now feeling exhausted from my travels and exertions. I was not involved in anyway with the election except to cast my vote dutifully as a citizen. I did not attend any political ceramahs/rallies when I was back in Sabah (I attended 2 political rallies in Singapore before the Singapore's GE 2 years ago), nor celebrated or commiserated with winners and losers after the election. On my way to the Kota Kinabalu International airport on Monday, I stopped over for lunch with an old friend. It has been work and more work since Monday night for me in Singapore. After yesterday's final Greek class I had to attend to other duties including marking NT 2 essays and there are many more to grade.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

University is about Teaching, not Research Papers

I read this article from Sydney Morning Herald with great interest. It was written by an exchange student from Georgetown University who is studying at Sydney University. I could not agree more, especially so in the context of theological education. It's about real-life experience and practical ministry experience that count more than research papers as far as training the next generation of Christian leaders is concerned.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Greek's Class No More

It's been my pleasure and the occasional stress that I shall be giving my last lectures in Introduction to Greek next week. I shall not miss getting up at 6am to prepare for Greek lectures, making sure I could teach to the best of my ability. As I saw one of my students taking a photo of the class yesterday, I thought for memory's sake, I will take one as well. This new academic year beginning in July, another lecturer will be teaching Greek after I have taught the subject for 5 years in a row. A welcome break! I may still offer Greek exegesis like LXX Gen 1-3 and Philippians in Greek (2015?) and a MTh module, Revelation in Greek (2016?).

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