Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Miraculous Life

I wrote to someone dear to my heart this morning and said, "Call upon Jesus and if your life is right with God, you will see miracles...." And I have more than 30 years of experience to prove this. I remember well when I was pursuing my first theological degree, my New Testament lecturer called me "the miracle man". He repeated that several times in the course of the Semester. I knew he was only half serious and betraying the wry sense of kiwi humour. Even though it was spoken almost in jest I knew that it was not me for there is nothing good in me but that I serve a miracle working God. The NT lecturer was surprised how I managed to convince the Dean to allow me into his Romans class a second year course without first completing introduction to the NT, a first year course. And also how I was exempted from introduction to the Old Testament and substituted that with Hebrew instead.

100 Days & Decision Time

I had a wonderful lunch meeting with a Baptist pastor on 19th January and he was probably the second person whom I told that come June, I will be moving on. When he mentioned to me several ministry opportunities, I told him that I would wait for 40 days before taking action but now after 100 days, I have yet to do anything but still waiting and praying. Anyhow, I know in the spirit that decision time is nigh (Bukit Timah at dawn).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blown by the Wings of the Wind

I thought perhaps I should use "borne along" but today I was blown by the wings of the wind from early morning to early evening. I did not get much sleep last night not because this morning I delivered my final lectures at TTC to a willing and appreciative audience but because I received an email from a far country that conjured up mixed feelings. "Though I often speak against him yet my heart is turned and my compassion stirred for children bent on going astray yet loved by me, saith the Lord." All 8 students present today except one chose to do the course out of interest and eagerness to learn about Revelation. Even the one MMin student wrote in bahasa the most complimentary remarks in the farewell and thank you card.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Big Three in New Testament Theology

As soon as I thought of the big 3, tbe number 4 comes to mind. If you have the choice to pick the three most important books of the NT, what would that be? 18 months ago, knowing that my term of service could be ending this June, I had plenty of time to ponder what I wanted to teach for the next 3 Semesters. When I was in New Zealand in Dec 2012 visiting my son, I spent most mornings at Otago University central library reading on monographs and commentaries on John's Gospel which I duly taught from Jan to May 13. Then came the 2nd most important book, Paul's letter to the Romans and I appreciated one student's comment that it got better as the course went on from July to Nov 13. In the last 7 or 8 lectures I wrote Paul's theology every week from ch. 7 onwards. Some notes ran up to 4,000 words, an essay in itself. And finally, it has to be the book of Revelation.

Friday, April 25, 2014

John Sung's Lasting Legacy

If you are in your late forties or early fifties and you are still not thinking about your legacy, you are probably withering away in worldly pursuits that have no lasting impact. This afternoon we had a most enlightening faculty colloquium on John Sung's legacy, especially Sung's emphasis on holiness. It has been a while since I heard a paper or sermon on the topic of holiness, so it was a good reminder that without holiness no one will see the Lord. Personal holiness in terms of confessing of daily sins, repentance, self examination and complete honesty before God are attributes and actions of a disciple of Christ. John Sung attacked sin and hyprocrisy with great severity and many were moved to tears confessing their sins and asking for the filling of the Holy Spirit. John Sung would pray for hours and days before conducting revival meetings and night meetings could last up to the early hours of the morning because Sung would pray for each and everyone who came forward to confess their sins and those who sought after a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mexican Delight & Family Group

Today was a day of good-byes and farewell lunches. I bid farewell to my Family Group with lunch at Chinatown. It was Mexican delight and later we enjoyed more fellowship over latte and cappuccino across the street. My FG members were a supportive lot and a great bunch with much laughter over Bible study on the book of Nehemiah (we only reached ch. 6 after 10 weeks or so).

Teaching New Testament: The Finale

Today was one of those days. I woke up at 1.30 am to thank the Lord. Midnight 23rd April 1982 until the early hours of 24th April 1982 I encountered Jesus Christ in my room at Ilam-flats, University of Canterbury. "At midnight I rise to give thanks to You, O Lord." "Thank you, Jesus" I murmured to myself and fell back to sleep. But at 4.30am I was up again this time to prepare for my last NT 2 class for the Semester, in fact the last lectures of the academic year begun in July 2013. The class took some time to warm up but by the time I surveyed the whole book of Revelation in about 40 minutes, I felt the class warmed to me and numerous questions were asked before we went for the break at 10am. We returned at 10:25am after talking about Hebrew and Greek ancient manuscripts over coffee and I gave them a hand-out of the preface of Nicholas King's The Prophets based on the LXX. By the time I spoke about the 7 churches of Rev 2-3, I had little time left for anything else. A few more questions were raised and the class ended as the bell rang at 11:20am.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"I went in to anoint the city" (LXX Ezek 43:3)

I try reading a passage from the Septuagint everyday and now with the arrival of Nicholas King's The Prophets (2013) based on the Septuagint I have further impetus to read the Greek OT alongside the New English Translation (NET) Greek OT (2007). In Ezekiel 43:3, instead of the Hebrew MT, "he came to destroy the city", we have in the LXX, "I went in to anoint the city".

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Preaching Season Ends

I had waited for this day for a long time, almost 7 months ago when I surveyed my preaching schedule for 2013-2014. Since early September last year until today, I had preached about 35 sermons, spoke at a Leaders' Retreat and conducted 3 Revelation seminars in the last 3 months. This load would be more than double I normally do every year but this is my 6th year and in 2 months' time I shall be entering my sabbatical year, 7th year and also my Jubilee, hitting the magical figure of half a century. What a wonderful God. I have managed to preach my last sermon for the season on Ressurection Sunday today!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

False Prophets & False Teachers

I lectured on 2 Peter last Thursday and on Rev 13,11-18 yesterday in my Revelation class. As there were false prophets now there are false teachers among you, says apostle Peter. In these Petrine audiences perhaps not many claimed to be prophets or that they had the gift of prophecy but nevertheless false teachers were a problem among them. False teachers are those who falsely interpret traditions or God's Word as Peter claimed that they were those who misinterpreted Paul's teachings as they twisted other Scriptures. It is not surprising today many such false teachings have arisen due to a wrong reading of Paul and other NT texts. Some claim that there is now no need for confession of sins or perhaps even repentance since Christ's death has forgiven us of our sins, past, present and future. There is some truth in this as many errors are a mixture of truth and falsehood. That Christ has died of our sins does not mean that now we are less inclined to sin since we are still living in these fleshly bodies and we are not immune to temptations and if we yield then we sin. Just as John writes, if we sin we have an Advocate and if we confess our sins then he is just and righteous to forgive our sins and cleanse us of our unrighteousness (1John).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blessed Passover: Blood Moon Rising

At sunset today we will celebrate the Jewish Feast of Passover. As the Feast days for Passover and Tabernacles fall on the 15th of the month, it will be full moon, only that this year there will be not one but two consecutive lunar eclipses on Passover and later on 8th October, the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. There will be a red moon rising (see this article from Melbourne Age here). How tragic and ironic it is that most Christians don't celebrate Passover until this Friday, 18th April. The problem started in the early 3rd century when a part of Church wanted to break away from all things Jewish and began to invent another date for the Passover/Good Friday. Interestingly, Jesus died on the Jewish Feast of the Passover in 29/30 AD and the Holy Spirit was poured on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost 50 days later.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sins of Sodom

What are the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah? In the Gen 19 account, two angels are sent to investigate the twin cities as the outcry of their apparent wickedness has risen to the LORD. When Lot took the two messengers home (an act of oriental hospitality), the men of Sodom wanted Lot to release the two "men" so that they could have sexual relations with them. Apparently the angels looked like men as they were called as such in Gen 19. The wickedness of the city then was first the breach of basic hospitality afforded to visitors or sojourners passing through a town and the failure of ensuring their safety and providing for their basic needs before they journeyed on the next day. Second, the sexual nature of the wickedness cannot be denied as Jude in the New Testament writes that, "they went after strange flesh." Strange (or different kind) flesh is not necessarily homosexual behaviour but an act against the natural order which in the order of things is to have sexual relations with your own kind of the opposite sex. Third, the homosexual nature of the wickedness is also clear in Gen 19 since the men of Sodom saw the two men that Lot took in and wanted to have sex with them as it is written: "They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them." (19:15). Hence, the angels/men concluded that the men of Sodom were indeed wicked and deserved the punishment God had in store for them.

10 or 100 Fold Multiplication

King David hymned that at midnight he awakened to give thanks to the Lord (Ps 119,62), but at 4am I rose to praise the Lord and the Spirit stirred and stirred and I took a bus at 6am completely in the dark on route 75. ARMED with a Bible I went about looking for a a cafe where I can have quiet time with the Lord. The bus stopped at Gleneagles hospital and I alighted but the cafe was not opened until 7.30am. Then I carried on to Orchard road and dawn was about to break with streets lit in bright light giving way to a greater light, the light of day, the one true light, Jesus Christ. Really Singapore is a beautiful city, one that I would not leave unless there is a clear command from the Lord.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Spirit is Stirring Afresh

I did not do well in today's lectures on 1 Peter. In the past several weeks, it has been early rising for me even as I sensed the Spirit stirring afresh in me like before-times when there is a future path to be trodden by faith. After yesterday's exertions of preaching the sermon during Chapel's service plus today's 3 hours lectures, I was reaching the end of my strength - indeed I have laboured in preaching and teaching, Lord for Your glory. Yesterday I waited for 7 long hours before my turn to preach at 11:30am service. It was my last message and the Spirit moved strongly although it was probably more of an academic discourse, part lecture part sermon but with much conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit. My interpreter did better than I had hoped for and again many have prayed for her and for me so that the whole College family could listen to God's Word. After the service and Community lunch I returned home to relax for a while and opened my Bible and it fell to Luke 6 where Jesus said, "Woe to you if everyone speaks well of you. Your fathers did that to the false prophets!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Martin Bucer: A Reformer and his Times

When I read reformation theology and the reformers that God used mightily in the 16th century, invariably almost without exception, they knew Hebrew and Greek (Latin was a given). From Luther, Calvin, Martin Bucer, Zwingli, and their younger contemporaries like Beza and Melanchthon, Hebrew and Greek were emphasized in the reading and exegesis of Scripture. Martin Greschat, in Martin Bucer: A Reformer and his Times writes: "The clergy did not keep pace with the vigorous growth of knowledge at this moment of history."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Teaching is such a Joy

I got up before 5am this morning, by the grace of God. I had a wonderful 90 minutes of reading Scripture in the silence of the night until the break of dawn. By 6:45am I was at my office, going through first the sermon for next week's Chapel and then my notes on Hebrew and James which I lectured during this morning's class. It was exhilarating experience, teaching a responsive class of 35 students. I found new strength and energy during class time, had tea-break with my students and enjoyed their fellowship.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Preaching Fatigue?

Today's preacher at Chapel started her sermon by saying that "you may preach and preach and keep preaching but nothing seems to happen" is an apt description of what I have been feeling in the past couple of months. Maybe I am feeling preaching fatigue. This morning under some stress I wrote an email wanting to withdraw from Resurrection Sunday preaching. But before I hit the send button, I thought otherwise as this church had been good to me and I wanted to say good-bye to the congregation before I move on to another form of ministry or enjoy a long sabbatical.