Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Earthquakes & Tremors

In the past two days I spoke of earthquakes, one on Sunday being one of the signs of the end time and last night I spoke about earth shaking events that would lead the wealth of nations coming into the church. I shared my experience of aftershocks and tremors in Ranau and after 3 months or so without much seismic activity, today at 3,44pm an earthquake measuring 3,4 Richter hit Ranau (see http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/01/31/mild-quake-hits-ranau/). Even for an earthquake of 5,9 that struck on 5th June 2015, tremors and aftershocks are felt for almost 20 months now and can last for several more months. It is very much like God's powerful works and when He acts, His action reverberates around the world as the Gospel mentions, the light shines and cometh into the world and darkness cannot overcome it. God's work is likened to an earthquake because its effects are felt far and wide and it works a deep work in the lives of those touched by the divine.

Isaiah 60:1-7

I think one of the greatest preaching methods is expository preaching and last night I did just that. Expository preaching does not need to be academic or dry or simply historical but it should be lively and relevant as all preaching at the end of the day seeks to edify the hearers. I was invited to preach at the 1st anniversary of a church started by a family friend, one of my first few friends when I joined my homechurch in 1989. The main leaders of my homechurch were there including the Chairman, youth pastor, and even the District Superintendent for KK district. As the service was done before dinner and started 7.10pm I was already very hungry by the time I got up to preach at 8pm sharp. I was determined to preach for no more than 30 mins and I kept up the promise but expounding on 3 or 4 points briefly from Isaiah 60,1-7.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Time of the Lord

Today I bought a new clock for my new village house. I love clocks as some of my students know and they say guru tepati waktu. Yesterday I preached a sermon entitled "the time of the Lord is near" in Malay. I have not preached a sermon in English since I got back in Sabah 30 months ago. But anointing flowed thankfully and I went for almost one hour. And a visitor came up to me and thanked me 4 or 5 times and he mentioned that it was like listening to a lecture (it may not be a compliment) as preaching is not a lecture but I think he meant it as a compliment in the sense that it was informative, interesting and uplifting. Perhaps to him a sermon or homily is usually boring and unrelated to life.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"The Lord is with the Good" (2 Chr 19, 11)

The last part of the last verse of ch. 19 of 2 Chronicles reads thus:"Deal courageously for the Lord is with the good". Being good is favoured by the Lord and is promised His continual presence. When we see a good person, we feel blessed and no one can but be edified or uplifted by the goodness of a person. In the NT, Barnabas is said to be a good person. He is generous to a fault and does so with the goodness of heart without grudgingly. When we see goodness we recognize it from a mile. We sense the goodness of the person and drawn to the intrinsic goodness. Even Jesus once declares that only God is good which attribute is surely divine as the Son of Man reserves that to be of the Father. But humans are also good like a leader in the Gospel who is said to be good for he does charity for the Jews and built synagogues for them. Goodness is bound to be repaid with goodness. If you are a good person you are in good company for God is good and you have Him as your friend. Your goodness flows from His goodness and out of his abundance we overflow with generosity.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Conferences 2017

Last year by this time I had already purchased my tickets to Seoul with my wife for a Biblical Conference. I am thinking a bit farther this year with the SBL international meeting in Berlin (August) and what a good time to visit Martin Luther's homeland in Reformation's 500th anniversary. But there is also a tempting Society of Old Testament Study's centenary at King's College, London in mid July so if I go for both I will have a whole month in Europe. That's exciting as it will be my first trip to Christianitys cradle, though if I go there is no guarantee I will reach Rome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Unless You Speak I have nothing to say

I have been reluctant to accept speaking invitations but a few have come my way in the past week or two. But it will take some time before I could prepare my sermons. First up is 2nd day of Chinese New Year in KK. Then on Monday I shall be speaking at a church's first anniversary celebrations, also in KK. I will head back to College on Tuesday evening and things will be very busy from thence. Yesterday I taught morning and night Theology of the New Testament with the night class making up for the class I shall miss next Tuesday as I don't want to rush back to College with many of my family members gathering in KK for the CNY. Furthermore last Christmas I did not have any family time as I was in my final leg of preaching some 5 hours from KK. Today during community lunch I will lead prayers for President Donald Trump and world peace.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Prophet's Persona

Today in our Chapel's Sunday service the OT reading was Ezekiel 3:1-27. It was the whole chapter on Ezekiel's mandate as the prophet to Israel. In it I was reminded of my own calling and it did toughen me up a little after a week of turmoil. Dealing with worldly people is never an easy thing as Christians and especially as pastors. They expect you to behave impeccably and always smiling and never growling despite all kinds of untoward and unprofessional conduct on their part. The refurbishment of my College dwelling had taken a full 5 months when it was supposed to take weeks, at most one month when it began. When I expressed my disappointment to the contractor how things had panned out he was not too happy and in fact almost got angry with me. I felt bad about it for the past two days and reflected on how the devil accuses us of all kinds of things when in fact those who belong to the world need to repent and turn back from their evil ways.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Transiting & White House

As Obama ends his 8-year presidency Donald Trump is set to begin a new era in his presidency. Transition ends at 12 noon Washington DC time when the President-Elect takes the Oath of Office and becomes the 45th President of the United States.  I have gone through so many transitions that it has almost attained a permanent state. A permanent state of transition is perhaps the Christian paradox of this life on earth as we do not have a permanent place here but we look towards the city of God where God is. At least I have ended one transition tonight as I moved into my new house and for the first time will be spending the night in the new place. Last night we held our home group with my 7 students. One of them called my new house "the White House" as the ground level is painted white inside and outside and I can't help noticing the pun that today there will be a new occupant who will enter the White House half the world yonder.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Into the Interior

When the invitation came a week ago for a Youth Conference in Nabawan/Pensiangan one of the last frontier interior Districts, my initial reaction was "not again". My Christmas travels had dealt a psychological blow not least mentally and also physically. As per the norm I asked for 2 or 3 days before deciding on the invitation and I did pray everyday and asked the Lord but perhaps due to the intensity of the orientation week, my prayers were short and not as fervent. So after three days feeling that I should not let the organizers wait too long for an answer I texted him that I could not accept the invitation. I told him that I felt no urging to go and speak at the Conference. Almost immediately I felt a tinge of regret but I cast it aside as human feelings and not be too bothered about turning down one invitation. But the Conference invitation kept tugging and nudging my heart and on Saturday I read Psalm 29,10 that the Lord is enthroned over the flood and straightway I remember my last visit to Nabawan during one of the worst natural disasters to hit Sabah where more than 200 people perished due to floods and strong currents sweeping houses built on riverbanks during Christmas night and early 26th December. I witnessed first hand what it became known as Greg Storm when we drove from Nabawan to Keningau and I saw many people died and not a few clinging on dear life on rooftops and climbed to the top of the trees. I realized I must go back to the place and see for myself how the church is doing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

College's Chaplain

Since I arrived back at College last Friday I had worked non-stop to get everything ready as College's Chaplain.  We are right in the middle of orientation now with six revival meetings (3 more to go) which I have to personally organise, direct and supervise. Thankfully the student council is very efficient and the committee in charge of spirituality is helping me this week and for the rest of the year. As we are a fully residential College, we have Sunday services as well and weekday morning Chapel throughout the week except Wednesdays. On Wednesday we have alternate Faculty morning fellowship and personal devotions and a weekly community lunch with a short prayer together after the community meal. All these fall on the Chaplain to organize, implement and supervise. Whenever a person, faculty or student cannot take his or her assigned duty, the Chaplain stands in and is ever ready.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Resident Alien in a Foreign Land

Today I tried to keep up with my personal goals for 2017. I read 6 chapters of the Greek OT (Torah), the first chapter of each of the five books of Moses. The sixth chapter was the 2nd chapter of Exodus which I just read on in light of the remarkable story of the birth of Moses and his escape to Midian. In it, I came across Moses' marriage and the birth of his first born, Gershom for Moses thought to himself, "Because I am a resident alien in a foreign land." (Exod. 2:22) Tomorrow is the official opening of the new academic year of our Bible College, MTS in Namaus. I will be driving up early (onwards and upwards to Mount Kinabalu, down to Ranau and then another 20 minutes to Namaus/Bongkod village). I will try to get my room cleaned up. I hope to stay in my room for just another week before moving to my new place.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Setting Goals 2017

I did not have much energy to plan for 2017 at the end of last year. After much travelling, comes weariness of the flesh and the mind and it took more than a week for me to get up and running and by the time I am awoken it is already 2017 and counting. I thought every year one must set goals and at the end of it reflect and evaluate how these goals are achieved or have fallen short. This year is no different. Last year I could only set short-term goals as I was involved in three different appointments or ministries. It was mostly out of my hand and I had to react the best I can. But this year I hope to settle into a more stable kind of ministry, teaching full-time at College and that means putting time and efforts into delivering lectures on three subjects. Unfortunately I won't be teaching Greek this year as in terms of priority at College now, English is more important than Greek.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Year Ahead & Year Just Past

It is certainly not without trepidation that I look toward the year ahead. With Russia and China flexing their military might and the new incoming President of the United States, and the state of terrorism in the last few days of 2016 remind us that the world we live in is getting unstable by the year or even by the month. This year's general elections in Germany and France will see how much populism and nationalism have again taken roots and in fact flourish in national and continental politics that will have regional and global repercussions. In Malaysia, the year ended with the currency lowest in 19 years, at RM3.1 to 1SGD. I celebrated New Year's Eve gathering in my homechurch in KK, the first time I attended the church in several months. I wanted to show myself and connect with my church members some of whom I have known fof 28 years and a church I had pastored for more than 5 years. When asked to give year's end testimony, I stood up and proceeded to share for about 12 minutes and testified to God's goodness in three matters. For what God had done in my life and ministry last year I could have spoken for 2 hours. So to make it short and not take up time so that others could also participate, I only shared three things. First God's work in my ministry as pastor of my Ranau church in the first quarter of 2016 and how the church grew solidly and we were looking for a double unit to cater for increased membership over 2 Sunday services when I resigned.

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