Monday, April 29, 2013

Research & Publication?

Looking over some old documents in a file put away some years ago I came across my external examiner's report for my doctoral dissertation. Several weeks after receiving the report, I received a 3-page hand-written letter from the external examiner containing 5 major points of my dissertation beside several which he highlighted in the report. If I were to write another monograph on Revelation, I will certainly take these points into consideration. But alas, I am barely keeping my head above water, let alone having time for research and publication.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Return to Destiny

Today's Sunday service was one of the best I attended. The Lord woke up early and by 8:35am I reached the church in the city for its first service. The preacher was walking out when I walked in, perhaps to get himself ready for a great sermon later on. I was ready to worship the Lord. People matter. Song leaders matter.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Essay Topics on John's Gospel

Essay Topics:
1)            Pilate said to Jesus: “What is Truth?” (John 18:38). Discuss the concept of truth in the Gospel of John.
2)            Explain how irony is used to great effect in the encounters and conversations of Jesus with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman respectively in John 3-4.
3)            John’s use of the Old Testament is more subtle and nuanced beyond citations of biblical texts. Discuss the use of the OT with reference to 3 or 4 instances in the Gospel of John.
4)            How do the “I am” sayings contribute to our understanding of the person of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John?
5)            John’s Gospel depicts several groups or entities that are opposed to the work of Christ including “The Jews”, “the Pharisees,” “the world”, and “the devil”. Why was Jesus hated?
6)            Explain how John develops Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit in the Fourth Gospel.
7)            The relationship between the Father and the Son is the key to understanding the concept of God in John’s Gospel. Explain how this relationship is portrayed in the light of these two sayings of Jesus: “My Father and I are one” and “My Father is greater than I”.

I have graded some 30 essays and reviews and in the process of grading the rest of the essays on John's Gospel. I must say that I learnt from my students as much as I hope they have learnt from me by the grace of God, trusting in the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth who will guide us into all truth.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Last Lectures

By the grace of God, since the break I managed to get through 5 weeks of intense lecturing, 9 hours a week, 3 hours each for Greek, The Gospel of John and Intro to NT. I gave my last lectures on John's Gospel yesterday as next week is Labour Day, a public holiday, a well deserved rest for those who labour for the Lord. Today I spoke on 1 & 2 John and simply ran out of time for 3 John. When I reached 1 John 2:11ff on the three stages of Christian growth, I shared how 31 years ago yesterday I felt my sins to be forgiven and as a little child I came to know the Father.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"My kingdom is not of this World" (John 18:36)

I have had a long day preparing for my lectures on John 17-19. At 6pm I wrote about politics in Malaysia as a diversion, while at the same time reflecting on Jesus' answer to Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world". If Christ's kingdom is not of this world, are His followers going to be concerned about what happens in earthly governments or affairs of the State?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Preacher & Interpreter in Tandem

Some people think I simply dish out an old sermon when I preach from one church to another. But I never to do that, not when I wait on the Lord for days and weeks and there is always something fresh from the Lord for His people. Nowadays when I have a full load of teaching week-days, it means I have only the week-end to prepare my Sunday's sermon. In actual time spent, it is about 10 hours, writing up the outline and preparing the slides but another 15 hours or more meditating, reflecting on the passages concerned for a week or two before setting pen on paper.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sabah, Tanah Air-ku (My land of origin/birth)

I have been in my office since 7am. I thought I settled a few things before preparing for my lectures on John's Gospel and NT 2 on James. I have finalized the elective for next July. I may have to teach a third course for the Master of Ministry programme. Busy busy Semester coming up.

In the past several months, I could not help thinking and praying about my future ministry. My homestate, Sabah will be celebrating its 50th year independence within the federation of Malaysia on the 16th Sept 2013. I was born barely 10 months after Malaysia Day and I am a true child of Malaysia, born and bred a Sabahan. My heart often  pines for my native land - Sabah tanah air-ku negeri kita yang tercinta. But whether it's the Lord's will for me to return for good is another matter, a subject of intense prayer in the next few months. As Sabah is in its Jubilee year, I am not getting younger. Where are you, Lord for me in the next decade? I see that my strength is not like before and I know there are 10 or so good years that lay ahead of me and after that sunset years will come sooner that one would imagine.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Calvin by Willem Van't Spijker

I am burying my head in books on Calvin. In the past couple of weeks, I had taken out about 10 books on Calvin from the library. For first-timers, I would recommend Spijker's Calvin: A brief guide to his life and thought (2009). It's only about 185 pages long and within 3 or 4 sittings I have almost finished reading it. One thing that caught my eye is as early as 1537 (aged 28) Calvin already called himself as "Professor of Holy Scripture in Geneva" (p. 34, Spijker). Interestingly, Calvin had never undergone formal theological training as had Luther. Luther earned a doctorate in theology and Luther was equally proud of his title as "Doctor of Scripture."I would not begrudge Calvin for calling himself as Professor as such tender age because by then he had published the first edition of Institutes which would become the summary of the theology for the Protestant movement in the 16th century and beyond.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Burden and Inspiration of the Word

At the end of every Thursday I feel so tired that I know I need a long weekend to rest and recuperate for the new week ahead. Today I lectured on the Letter to the Hebrews in less than 2 hours. I spent 30 minutes explaining 2 Tim 3:16-17 where Paul states categorically that every or all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching..... Unless we have the right view of Scripture we will face countless problems, least of all we become judge of Scripture instead of being judged by Scripture. As Calvin so aptly put it that there is a need for a measure of docility in our approach to God's Word and we are all students in the School of Scripture with the Holy Spirit as our teacher. Isaiah the prophet has revealed that it is to those who tremble at God's Word that God is truly pleased to dwell and make his home. How can we presume to critique Scripture since the writings are breathed out by God who has no rival nor a God who is capable of error for He is perfect and there is no iniquity with him.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Calvin by Bruce Gordon

If I ever needed inspiration there is no better theologian and reformer to turn to than John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin together with Martin Luther are my twin theological heroes not just of the Reformation but of all time. I read Calvin's Institutes every now and then after first reading it in the late 1980s. As far as a coherent theological system is concerned, Calvin's Institutes have not been surpassed not even by Karl Barth who himself admired Calvin greatly. Barth's neo-orthodoxy is very much influenced by his reading of Calvin. One may call Barth a neo-Calvinist with the chief difference lies in Calvin's and Barth's view of Scripture.