Sunday, September 29, 2013

Methodist Month

After my 33-minute sermon on "Godliness is Great Gain", I conducted a Bible Study on the topic, "Divine Guidance." I was pleasantly surprised that three-quarters of the 50-strong congregation stayed back for the seminar. I spoke for 55 minutes and took questions for 20 minutes and we ended at 12:30pm sharp. Among those present were at least 25 young people, something heartening to see. And most questions came from them. This is my 6 th year since Sept 2008, speaking at this little flock, a preaching point of a larger Methodist church.

Waiting to Preach

I don't know how long I could continue doing what I am doing. Perhaps one of the most difficult things about preaching is the time waiting to preach. Last week I waited for 5 hours to preach in an 11.30am service. This morning the service will start soon but I have already waited up to 4 hours. May the Lord's name be praised as I wait on You and on Your Word.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Deuteronomy as Jesus' Favourite Book?

For the past month, I have been scouring the book-lists of many publishers looking to buy a commentary on the book of Deuteronomy. I almost bought the one authored by Jeffrey Tigay but at the end I settled on Daniel Block's NIV application commentary on Deuteronomy. Perhaps I would have preferred a more academic and critical commentary but as my budget is tight (I bought Danker's Shorter Greek lexicon and Chamberlain's Septuagint lexicon as well), I had to choose one and I hope I shan't be disappointed.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Lord, who has believed our report?" (Isa 53:1)

Apostle Paul cited Isaiah 53:1 in Romans 9-11 as part of his Scriptural arguments that the Jewish people as a whole has not responded to the good news preached by Paul and the other apostles. The Jewish nation and the Israelites were the among the most religious peoples on earth and they had among others, the Law and Prophets as the oracles of God. Lord, who has believed our report? I felt the same in the past weeks; it seems so few people wanted to know the truth; some have a form of zeal but not according to true knowledge. Some busied themselves with many things, even in the name of theological education and theological pursuits but what empty slogans if theological education is not focused in knowing the one true God and the primary way of doing that is the study and engagement of Scripture through which God reveals Himself to those who believe.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tabernacles' Last Day

From a blogpost I read this: " The 7 days of Sukkot are dedicated to the 7 Ushpizin, distinguished guests (origin of the words Hospes and hospitality): Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. They defied immense odds in their determined pursuit of ground-breaking faith and principle-driven initiatives. The Ushpizin should constitute role models for contemporary leadership" (see link). I have been thinking about leadership a great deal in the past few months. I like the expression that these heroes of faith "defied immense odds in their determined pursuit of ground-breaking faith and principle-driven initiatives." As we are entering the great day or 8th day of the Feast of Tabernacles when Jesus cried out, "If anyone believed in me, as Scripture says, 'out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:38).

Sharing with Staff

I was so tired this afternoon that I skipped Community lunch and went back to my flat for a nap. I got up before 6am to prepare for 12 minute staff devotion which I shared with the College admin staff once a Semester. This morning I spoke about prayers from Eph 6 in that we do not contend against flesh and blood but against principalities in dark places and rulers of the unseen world. I also spoke from James 5 about the need to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed. I spoke about the lack of constant prayers in many churches in Singapore and I shared how the Lord by his power protected the state of Sabah when SARS hit early 2003. I just started as pastor of SIB KK and I led prayers day and night for weeks and months so that the contagion did not reach Sabah. I spoke about how staff should love one another and those in authority should be slave of all to care for the welfare of their subordinates. It was a heavy message, only 2 felt blessed and the Word of the Lord shall not return void but accomplish what it was intended to do, declaring God's will and putting into effect God's purposes in the lives of his people and through them the world may know that the Father had sent the Son.

Final 3 1/2 Years according to John's Revelation

Master of Ministry (Jan 2014)

The Final 3½ Years according to John’s Revelation

Course Description:
This course will examine the events of the last three-and-a half years according to John in the book of Revelation. The focus will be on the middle chapters (Rev 11:1-14:5) where the temporal period of three-and-a half years is mentioned 5 times (11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5) in 3 different ways, namely, 1,260 days, 42 months and a time, times and half a time. It will discuss John’s vision of the holy city and the Temple as the loci of eschatological prophecies in this final period. This study will pay special attention to various characters that John portrays as the main protagonists in these last days, especially the two witnesses of Rev 11 and the two Beasts of Rev 13. A brief survey of Jewish apocalyptic thought in Second Temple period to the time of John’s Revelation in the first century CE will serve as introduction to John’s apocalyptic thought in Revelation. John’s creative and innovative use of the Old Testament in Revelation will be critically examined and highlighted. This course will utilize Hebraic rhetorical methods or rhetorical criticism to analyse the structure and composition of the middle section of John’s Revelation. It seeks to establish that the text of Rev 11:1-14:5 is marked by several key words and motifs with the figure of 3 ½ as the temporal and literary marker that unites seemingly disparate episodes and characters into one literary whole.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Testament 2 (Romans to Revelation), Assessment & Textbooks

New Testament 2 Assessment & Textbook list (Jan, 2014):
1.       Walter F. Taylor Jr., Paul, Apostle to the Nations: An Introduction (Fortress Press, 2012).
2.       Richard Hays, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 2005).
3.       Timothy Michael Law, When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Liturgical Service: All Scripture is God-Breathed

Yesterday I preached in a Liturgical Service at a Methodist church here in Singapore. I enjoyed the more structured service as I normally preach at contemporary-style services even among mainline churches like Anglican and Methodist churches. The thing I liked most is that I was called to preach after 25 minutes and the congregation was still fresh and I did not see anyone fidgeting or nodding off in my 28-minute sermon. In fact, I preached 3 minutes longer than the allocated time but I believe my delivery was fluent and sound and no one was made worse to listen to a slightly longer sermon on 2 Tim 3:14-17 with the title All Scripture is God-breathed. After the service, a number of members took the trouble to speak with me and engaged with me on the sermon which is unusual but something that is music to the preacher's ears.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Loneliness of the Just One (Psalm 1)

This is the title of an essay I read from a book called, In the Shadow of Your Wings: New Readings of Great Texts from the Bible ed. Norbert Lohlink. There are many quotable quotes: "...the single person who is called happy, the one who has made a different life decision, appears almost as an example of great worth because of its rarity....the one who has decided against the dominant world of perception."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blessed Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles)

It is sunset in Singapore. I wish all my readers who love Yhwh adonai and Jesus, His Messiah, a blessed Sukkoth. It is a season of great joy when God gathers His people into His land and all nations to come to Zion to worship Him on the holy mountain. This Feast (15th to 21st Tishri) reminds us that we are temporary aliens on earth and hence, the commandment to build booths (sukkot) as a commemoration of Israel's wilderness wanderings before entering the promised Land. Now a greater Yahshuah has come to save us and will lead us into the true promised land where everlasting rest and peace dwell.

Monday, September 16, 2013

From 4am to 4pm, from 6am to 6pm

I have had two incredible days. Lord, have I spent my strength for nought? I woke up at 4am yesterday and by 5am I was revising and reflecting on my sermon. At 7:30am I took the early bus to church. Due to some misunderstanding I went to the wrong address and the pastor had to come to fetch me. It turned out well at the end as during the 10-minute trip to the venue, the pastor shared with me a number of things which helped me to understand the two congregations better (English and Mandarin). I had a wonderful time in preaching especially in the second Mandarin service, though it was interpreted it went smoothly and the 100 strong congregation or so was blessed. After lunch at One North shopping centre I took the MRT to the circle line to Buona Vista and then onwards to Clementi. I stopped for a short time as it was raining and enjoyed my usual cup of coffee at Toast Box. By the time I reached home, it was about 4pm, 12 hours since I woke up and I had the satisfaction of preaching twice and enjoyed some wonderful fellowship with the pastor and church members. This morning was no different. I thought I was going to sleep in until at least 7am but I got up at 6am and proceeded to prepare to lead worship for an 11:30am's Chapel service.

Friday, September 6, 2013

PM Kevin Rudd is Wrong on the New Testament

My one diversion from my daily tasks is reading and following politics, especially that of Australia and New Zealand. When PM Rudd was overthrown 3 years ago just before the 2010 election, I almost shed a tear or two because I liked the man, Kevin and his Mandarin speaking ability. But I shall be barracking for Tony Abbott tomorrow because PM Rudd has been disappointing even in the past couple of months since returning to power as the Australian PM. From what I know of Australian politics and history, a house divided cannot and will not stand. Australian Labour Party self-destructed over the prolonged Hawke vs. Keating struggle (early to mid 1990s) and in the past couple of years, we have the Rudd-Gillard saga played out.  At least Hawke and Keating were both charismatic figures and political titans in their own right (I have not seen a Hawke since in Australian politics) but Rudd-Gillard battle for supremacy has a lot more spice and spite but lacks weight and substance.

PM Rudd's answer to the pastor who asked him the question on his stance in respect of homosexuality was a classic spin of a tale. I have heard many times before - "But slavery is the norm in the Bible". Wrong, mate. In the New Testament, slavery is not something commanded by God that it ought to be kept or defended as if it is normative for all time. Slavery is a social condition in the 1st century AD, accepted by the apostle Paul since slaves in some urban centres could out-number the citizens and non-citizen residents who were freedmen. When the gospel was preached in these Mediterranean cities, many slaves turned to Christ and in a few letters (esp. 1 Corinthians, Ephesians & Colossians), Paul had to offer advice as to the master-slave relationship, now that in some instances both the master and the slave have become believers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why We Call God, "Father" - Rosh Hashanah!

It is with delight that I read my esteemed colleague, Prof Simon Chan's article in Christianity Today, 'Why We Call God, "Father"' Straight-away, I forwarded the link to my NT 1 students together with New Year's Greetings - Rosh Hashanah. It is the beginning of the new year where the shofar will be sounded early tomorrow morning to mark the 1st day of Tishri, the sacred month in the Jewish Calendar where two other major holy-days are celerated - Yom Kippur (10th Tishri) and Sukkoth (15th-21st Tishri) or the Feast of Tabernacles.