Monday, December 23, 2013

Unwinding & Rewinding

This is the first holidays I have had since moving to Singapore in 2008. I could really unwind, doing nothing, relaxing my mind without writing new courses, reading chapters of theses and examining theses as I had done in my past holidays. But too much relaxation is not good for the soul and I am thankful that 2 weeks ago I could preach in a village church and get back preaching in Malay. Tomorrow I shall be preaching in a Christmas Eve service followed by Christmas the next day. Two more messages in Sabah and I am about done for 2013 except for a New Year Eve's sermon in Singapore to welcome 2014. It has been a busy year. I preached the first Sunday of January 2013 and I shall end the year by doing what I have been called to do so that we may be filled with the fruits of righteousness that come through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of iur God (Phil 1).

Friday, December 20, 2013

Moses' 40 Years in Wilderness

What did Moses do for 40 years in the wilderness? Looking after his father-in-law's sheep and goats. Quite similar to his forefathers, Jacob and the 12 patriarchs and David who came after him. There must be long days and nights, year in and year out, for 40 years. Moses was 80 years old at the time when the Psalmist thinks only the strong could last. Yet, Moses began his career afresh at 80. At an age past retirement when the world has no more use of aged men, but what the world thinks worthless is chosen by God. Our God is a god of reversal, reversal of worldly standards as Jesus said in Luke 16, "what is highly esteemed by men is abominable to God". In that context it was money highly prized by the Pharisees but Jesus saw through their religiosity, a smokescreen for their love of money and greed.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Righteous shall Live by Faith

This is a key text for Paul in Romans. It is the key for Christian living. What does it mean by living by faith? First, it means believing in God and believing in the One whom God sent, Jesus Christ (John 6). By believing in Him, we gain life, eternal life with the Father and the Son. Living by faith means trusting in God from day to day, not just for spiritual salvation from sins and condemnation but also for daily sustenance. It means looking to the Lord for our bread, our daily needs. Often faith does not seem to be relevant in day to day living. If it is not so one may rightly ask, "Am I righteous before God?" For the righteous shall live by faith. It means obeying God though outward circumstances suggest perhaps it is best to rely on human plans and human efforts.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter in Jerusalem (Matt 24.20)

Jesus commanded his disciples to pray that when the End-time comes, their flight from Jerusalem will not happen during winter. Jerusalem's winters are normally mild but the past couple of days have seen snow storms so severe which cut off routes and flooded several places in or near the holy city. Is the end-time near? This Christmas, Christians will ask the question afresh with greater urgency, seeing that we have seen several portents and signs during 2013.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Old Friends & New World

I had a visit from a friend after sending a message to his dad that I was hoping to contact him. He was one of my closest friends during the secondary school years that lasted until we were starting our careers. He did very well for himself financially and the first question he asked me was how I was coping financially since I was serving God. To many serving God is unimaginable since how can one survive if we don't work for money. I told him how God provided for me for 19 years in full time minstry. We talked over tea and 1.5 hours passed quickly. On our way back he asked me the same question about how I could cope finanicially. He was surprised that I had supported my son in New Zealand for 6 years. I gave him the same answer that God had provided and will provide.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Old World

The security guard was eyeing me when I continued taking photos of my first school, primary for 6 years and 2 years in Secondary before leaving Sandakan for good. Not wanting the guard to be worried I chatted with him on my way out and tokd him that I was an old boy, exactly 36 years ago. The school did not change much but looking at the football field brought back many memories. I played soccer at noon before claases started at 1pm for the afternoon stream. I competed in athletics and high jump.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Making a Fresh Start from where it Started

It has been exactly 12 years since I last visited my hometown in 2001. At that time 12 years ago I had no idea where my career was headed, whether I could even finish my PhD. But within a year I was appointed pastor of my homechurch. NOW I have arrived at another cross-road, not knowing by middle of next year where I shall be headed. BUT always trusting in God who chose this little town called "Little Hong Kong" to give birth to me, almost 50 years ago. I looked up a close friend from my secondary school days, someone I had not met for more than 20 years.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bitter Sweet

I had such joy returning from a weekend ministry in Kota Belud, near the place where I started ministry in 1994. It was sweet, sweeter than the honeycomb when you know you are proclaiming God's word, blessing many people. The church was full to the brim on Sunday morning with 350 adults and over 100 children in attendance. But Monday came the bitterest experience. Indeed it was a like a thorn in the flesh almost stole the joy I had on Sunday. Like Elijah after his great triumph on Mount Carmel he had a valley low experience of dealing with Jezebel. What I learned is humility ready to be villified for Jesus' sake and not let elation take too much place in one's soul since we are still in the flesh and there will be many thorns until we meet the Lord in the air.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Into the Interior of Borneo

When I told my wife that I am a home missionary she thought I simply did not fit the bill. Normally a missionary is someone sent to a far away land, but as an urban Malay-speaking Chinese preacher I have ministered among the indigenous peoples of Borneo for a quarter of a century. Tomorrow I shall be travelling to a village 2 hours from KK and will preach in a church over the weekend.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

7 days at the Watch-tower

The prophet Habakkuk tells us that he stood on a tower waiting to see what the Lord would say to him. It is rare that I have the opportunity in the past 7 days to wait on the Lord without busying myself with work or study. Surely on the 7th day I had this impression on I was going to do in the next few years. The Lord impresses upon me to teach His Word to reliable men and those who are able to teach others as well. When I look at my home denomination, the need to reach and impact the next generation is never greater.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Flowing with your Gift

I think it is Proverbs that it is written a gift will make one's way to the King. We have been given gifts and talents from the Lord. These gifts should be used to the maximum in the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth. Often times the gifts are used for personal gain but not for the glory of God. Sometimes these gifts are not used effectively and the returns are marginal. At times these talents are hidden and they are useless and laid forlorn. But he who uses his gifts to the maximum will be blessed by the Lord and the anointing follows the gift for whom the Lord has given he will empower to the full. Young Christians sometimes fail to recognize their giftings and it is important for leaders to identify and nurture these gifts and give encouragement to all to use them effectively to build the house of the Lord. In his house there are many utensils and each is so set to work according to its purpose. So you need to determine your gift or giftings from the Lord. You will need to use them to the maximum and seek the greatest returns.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wedding & Church

I attended a wedding at church yesterday and went for the dinner reception last night. It was an easy decision for me to return home earlier as it was my elder's daughter's wedding. This elder was especially supportive when I was a new member, joining his home group and seeing his children growing up was a joy. When I became a pastor, he was the deputy chairman and did a large share of work in the ministry. I remember well how he took me to my first of 3 inter-faith dialogues at a public university.