Sunday, January 31, 2016

Free from All Men, a Slave to All

Today I announced my impending departure as pastor effective March. After being freed from the shackles of church employment, I preached one of the most powerful messages to date on the grace of God towards sinners. It went for 30 minutes but the Spirit moved mightily. As I am now freed from receiving a salary, I could speak with absolute freedom, not that I tried to please men previously but being in employment with a church, there are things that are difficult to enunciate with some leaders having in their minds that the preacher is their pastor paid from the church coffers. No wonder Paul refused to accept money from the Corinthians lest they thought Paul was beholden to them and they be Paul's benefactors. Paul wanted to be free from all men so that he could a slave to all. He could speak the unvarnished truth knowing that the hearers would not have to think the one speaking was beholden to them. Money is a sensitive issue in any age and in church it is more complicated than what usually goes on in the world.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

First Initiatives


With 3 weeks into the job, I started several new initiatives, first of which is the publication of a College magazine to be ready before Lunar New Year. The editorial committee is working hard. We had an 90 minutes meeting yesterday and shifted through all the photos and several articles to be included in the Magazine. There are 4 students with the office secretary and my colleague as the editor. I appointed myself the advisor of the inaugural MTS magazine.  We hope to publish 3 times a year, giving our friends, sponsors and churches news updates, prayer needs, and hopefully by the 3rd publication we can get a couple of solid theological pieces written up.

In Search of Light

When I exegeted the prologue of John's Gospel a fortnight ago, I felt a sense of exhilaration as the Spirit of the Lord swept over me. The light is coming into the world and the darkness cannot prevent it...I had such an incredible sense of joy that moment that I saw the light and indeed in Your light we shall see light. Speaking of light, electricity supply is still a problem in Ranau district.  This morning the lights went out at 9.15am and I thought to myself perhaps there would be light in Namaus so I made the 25 min trip to the Bible College. I went there for a reason as I wanted to see for myself how many dined in for lunch.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Lampstand is Removed

The sign is ominous. This evening I removed my Jerusalem menorah from my church office to my car, ready to be transported to my College office tomorrow morning. Most of my books are also in my car and where my books are, there I shall be. Perhaps in this time of transition, my life is like my books, always on the move, no resting place, no permanent address. I told my elders I was prepared to relinquish my pastorate as it is no longer conscionable to draw the usual salary while most of my time is spent in College.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Meeting Students with Families

I have been doing a lot of running lately. Literally and metaphorically. I run from one place to another. From Ranau to Namaus and back again. I run from my room to my office separated by a river in our beautiful 28 acre big Campus. I run from Hostel to the Dining Hall this morning. I was told that the electricity bill of the College had ballooned to an unacceptable sum. I saw 8 lights left on in the Hostel when the male students went for breakfast. I told one student to turn off the lights and made an announcement at Chapel just now. First I must reduce wastage. Yesterday I was at College from 6am to 9pm. I attended all three meals with students and last night together with my colleague, the chief warden we met with the students who have families resident in College.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Time & Tide Waits for No Man

I got this message from a friend in Singapore. Straightway I decided that sometime this year I must fly again. Not that I like flying or travelling but to expand one's ministry and refresh one's mind travelling is good for the soul and body. I have made a promise to myself not to travel outside of Sabah for 12 months. That promise has been fulfilled since last October and by the time I travel in the middle of the year, it will be almost 2 years since my teaching ministry ended in Singapore. It is time to expand one's wings and look beyond one's shores. Today I spoke about the Korean church. How one vice moderator told me that for city churches there could be more than 100 applicants for one pastoral vacancy and there would be 20 or so with PhDs.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Being First

No one should take upon himself to lead unless called by God. Spiritual leadership requires absolute commitment and total sacrifice.  Or else why would Jesus demand his disciples to hate their father and mother if the call of God and ministry prevail upon them? To be first is usually taken as an honour and some covet and chase after positions of  leadership including church or Christian leadership. To be a leader is to serve or to be a slave of all. To be first is to be last. Being first means first to show love and first to obey and to act. For the past two weeks, I have been first to Chapel and sometimes I had been standing at the doors waiting for it to be opened at 7.30 am.  Several times I stood outside the office door waiting for the staff for open the doors. Soon I will ask for a set of keys but in the past week, I hope to set an example for being first to worship and first to work.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Point to Point

I have settled into a kind of routine. From point to point I travel from Ranau to Namaus, the village where the College is located in a 28-acre land. Often before 6am, I would drive the 25 min journey to College and back in Ranau after 5pm. Did not Jesus say, are there not 12 hours in a day and work while it is still day? Today was no different. I joined the students for breakfast at 6,30 am. Students are the most important component of a College and without them, the College would cease to find its rationale for existence. Last year I taught Year one students in Old Testament introduction. This Semester I am teaching Year 3 and 4 classes in Greek grammar and exegesis based on the first few chapters of John's Gospel. Today was another full day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

12 Disciples

Jesus attracted the crowds. But he did not pander to them. Neither was he interested in numbers per se, as He turned round looking at the crowds following him, Jesus insisted that those who would follow Him must give up everything in order to be his disciples. There are many church goers but how many are genuine disciples?

Recalibration

I heard the word used frequently in Singapore. Now Malaysia's PM will recalibrate the nation's economy on 28th Jan. Recalibration is needed when new situations arise to cause one to adjust and adapt what has been planned. In the past week, I have to recalibrate my ministry in the Lord. I told my Academic Dean this morning I will just teach Greek 3 and not Hermeneutics. One course for a new acting Principal is plenty already since my church considers my role as pastor there as being full time despite taking on this new task at College. I have planned to start a discipleship class in church since early last year and I need to get that cracking and going. If not commenced by February, any New Year momentum would have been lost and gone. I have to prioritize and discipleship is not something that I can put off to another year.  Make disciples of all nations, baptising them...teaching them everything that I have commanded you (Matt 28,19-20). I am glad my deacons have risen up to the tasks.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Teaching Greek 3 & Hermeneutics

When I arrived at my desk this morning I saw my name beside the Greek 3 course starting today at 8.30 am.  I thought I had insisted to teach not more than one paper but the Academic Dean felt I was the only one able to offer Greek at a higher level beyond two semesters of elementary Greek. Not wanting to stamp my authority I humbly submitted to my colleagues' request and rushed to the Chapel for the 25min long service before classes begin at 8.30 am.  As I had no time to prepare I asked my staff to photocopy the first page of John's Gospel in NA 27th edition which I bring with me everywhere I go. I have the 28th edition in my church's office and the larger print in the latest edition may help someone like me.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pressing On & Principalship

After exactly 48 hours in KK for some personal business I was back in Ranau at 7.10am in time to open the church doors. The two students were already waiting at the footpath and one greeted me, "pastor!" The greeting lifted my spirit after the 90 mins of early morning drive and what had transpired in KK. Let the dead bury the dead but you preach the kingdom of heaven. Twice I was offline in Namaus where the Bible College is located, for a purpose. If I had attended the calls I would have rushed back to KK and missed two crucial meetings. I preached a message on Thursday night, the first as Acting Principal and the Lord moved powerfully in His Word. I knew I had to establish my authority by the power of God's Word in front of the whole College community.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Tasks, New Challenges

I have crossed my first hurdle.  I chaired my first Faculty meeting. There are 10 of us in the Faculty with 80 full time students including about 15 students with families. One student came with his wife and three children from Bangi Island, the northern island at the tip of Borneo. They came with nothing but a few change of clothes. So my first instruction to the Dean of Students was to visit the student and suggest how the College could meet his immediate needs. The student and his family were told to dine in the Dining Hall together with single students as students with families have their own quarters and expected to cook on their own. But the amenities are very basic in the family quarters and I was touched by the action of a church whose pastor enrolled to continue his theological education when they built a new kitchen for him.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Rainbow of Hope


I don't remember seeing a rainbow over Ranau since I came until this early morning.  A beautiful rainbow with a streak of colours light up the morning sky. The last rainbow I really noticed was a double rainbow that I saw in Perth more than 2 years in my 49th year, the beginning of sabbath and Jubilee. Rainbow stands for hope after disaster. Noah saw a rainbow and God promised him that he would never destroy the earth by water again.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Finding a Home 4 my Books

I might have just found a home for my books. A day before my appointment in Nov 2014 was made known I donated several boxes of books to the College. Ironically tomorrow I am moving several more boxes of my books to my new office though I don't even see a bookshelf in it. Well the books will stay boxed at the moment.

Open Office

I asked only for a desk at the open office space so that I could stay close to my colleagues and work alongside them. It is open office concept, something I very much prefer. But being Asian and somewhat hierarchical, this morning when I visited the College again, the academic dean had seen fit to get me an enclosed office despite my protestations. As an office bearer, it seems that to some it is only proper one sits behind a desk in a closed door office. It is just my 2nd day at my new work place so I thought I better accede to what they had planned and not squabble over small matters.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

24 Hours

I don't ever remember having a more exciting 24 hours. The new assignment has breathed new life to my ministry. We are made for new challenges and we shall do exploits in His Name. After returning from College, I went straight to organize the discipleship workshop for pastors and now perhaps graduating students. We have a Singaporean church leader coming to conduct the workshop. Timing is everything.

The Longest 12 hours

I got up twice after midnight and sought the Lord and opened the Bible and read. Lord you prepared for your beloved while he sleeps. I remember how I was awakened one late Monday afternoon from my sleep when I received news about the examination of my doctoral thesis. Yesterday I came back to office at 2pm after a long and happy day with my fellow pastors, chairing a meeting until 12 noon and then breaking for lunch and a birthday celebration for a colleague who turned 37. It was an exhausting day and I went up to the apartment just before 4pm to rest for the night's mid week service.  The phone rang twice at 4.30pm and I finally talked with the HQ's staff just before 5pm. I have been given an extra assignment at the Bible College while retaining my pastorate.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

First Few Days of 2016

I finally got my hands on Russell Morton's Recent Research on Revelation. I have been reading it in the past couple of days and had it with me everywhere I go. I read it during visits to hospital, waiting in my car, over dinner and took back with me to Ranau early this morning.  We walk by faith and not by sight. Humanly speaking there is no reason I am doing what I am doing but I am trusting that my ministry is in God's hands and it is His work and not mine. I did not choose Him but he chose me and he chose me to bear fruits and fruits abundantly for his glory. In a way I am contented with what the Lord has done in this past one year. LORD establish the works of Your hands...you accomplish your purpose for me....my times are in your hands O Lord.  Trusting God and moving forward this year with greater expectancy and greater faith in what a God can do through weak and sinful men and women. Lord if you should mark iniquity who could stand? I repeated my sermon on Sunday and it worked pretty well.

Friday, January 1, 2016

7 Things to Start the New Year


I preached for more than an hour last night in our New Year's service. I felt I could speak at length in contrast to Sunday's sermons which are normally 40 mins max. I shared what I thought important for the church in 7 things.  First, why Christmas services are still relevant. Post Christmas I had strangers greeting me on the streets for they had attended the Christmas services and heard the Word of God preached. Second,  I explained why I always invite my church members to come along with me in my ministry wherever I go. Jesus took his disciples with him and they learned the Word and how to minister when they witnessed the Lord's doing and teaching first hand.

Third, I talked about the need for the church to have a systematic discipleship class apart from listening to sermons during services. I find generally my church members are not the reading type and some hardly know much about the Bible. For instance , when I preached about Job and asked the youths whether they knew who Job was, they stared back at me blank. Fourth, the main section of my sharing last night I spoke about the times of Elijah ministry as a pattern of our times.

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Recent Research on Revelation

In a crowded field of scholarship, I am delighted to see my name mentioned along with 40 or more scholars by Russell Morton's Recent Res...