Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Memoirs of a Modern Missionary

I thank You, Lord for You have not abandoned the works of Your hands! For the past 20 days, I was occupied with writing my memoirs and it is now finished. It may not be in the league of Nehemiah's wall completed in 52 days but originally I had thought I needed at least 3 months but I had finished the first draft in less than 3 weeks. The table of contents for the first four chapters are found below (photo - my 4-year old son in Melangkap, near Mount Kinabalu, the first place of my missionary endeavours):

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I thought I was going to finish my book today. It's past 52,000 words and I am into my last chapter, the Epilogue. I have decided to leave out theological reflection and retain its narrative character throughout. I thought my chapter on my sojourn in Singapore would be brief but it came up 18 pages' long. Today I spent some time with my brother and his family and then dropped off some things for my dad in my other brother's place. How blessed if brothers dwell in unity as the Psalmist declares. How blessed is my father who has four sons, like arrows in the quiver and who dare to assail him?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rosh Hashanah 5775

Blessed New Year, 5775 according to the Jewish calendar (see Times of Israel's article here). Today is the 1st of Tishri, the 7th month, the commencement of the sacred month where the two most important ceremonies will be celebrated,  Yom Kippur10th Tishri (3rd Oct evening) and Sukkoth (Tabernacles) on the 8th October. This is especially significant year for me as we enter the day of atonement, the shofar will be blown on the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25). The root word, Jubilee comes from yovel, a ram's horn (shofar). Why is the shofar blown?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ministry in Ranau

I had a 24-hour trip to Ranau,  2-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. It was along to route to Mount Kinabalu. It was a difficult drive tailing several lorries uphill under heavy rains. I arrived at 5pm in Ranau and found it so refreshing compared to the heat in KK. It must be about 20 degrees, and temperatures could fall to 16 degrees at night. My friend called me just I parked my car and later an elder of the church came and took me to my hotel. We proceeded to dinner where another 8 church leaders turned up. It was wonderful catching up with old friends. The last time I ministered in a Ranau church was in 1998, some 16 years ago.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Writing Technology

I must now think with technology, writing is no longer the strenous process of 30 years ago with type writers, etc. Now I carry my Macbook Air, 11inch laptop with me everywhere and I will type on the keyboard whenever I feel I am in the mood to write. It is one of the lightest laptops around with 1.05 kgs.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Leadership (Good & Bad)

I think I will add a chapter on Leadership (Good & Bad), probably the most reflective of all chapters with strong biblical and theological undertones. Thus far, all completed 7 chapters are narrative, a story of events that I feel most significant and momentous in my life and ministry. I do include a verse or two here and there but 95% will be pure narrative.

I was born to be Pastor

I took a break from writing and it is now past 40,000 word mark. I watched China Insight on CCTV and I saw the jams in Beijing subways. I am glad that Singapore's MRTs are not so crowded. In the programme, a train driver spoke about his pride of achieving a safety record equivalent to the distance of 22 trips around the world. He shared how once he slowed down the train by instinct as he was turning a corner and then he saw a girl in the middle of the track. Because he had slowed down, he could stop in time. He remarked, "I was born to be a train driver." What were you born for?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Writing Begins Afresh

After a day of turmoil, I received strength to start writing again this morning. Weeping is only for a night but joys come in the morning. I have reached 35,000-word mark and the last chapter on my Singapore's ministry will be brief. I don't want to exceed 40,000 words but even my niece laughed when I told her that. I might reach 45,000-word, max and that will be it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sudden Stop

I experienced slow progress today. For the first time since I started writing last week, I felt a check on my writing. I have arrived at the 7th chapter, about my 63 months' tenure as pastor of my homechurch. I got emotional and it was too close for comfort since for the past 2 weeks I have been attending church and it was too difficult to write about something so close in my heart from so close a distance. Last Sunday I wept several times for the spiritual health of my denomination.

New Book 2/3 Done

A good book is like a tree. It stands the test of time and many people eat from the fruits of it. In my wildest hopes, I can't imagine this rate of progress when I started to write last Wesnesday. I have passed the 32,000 word mark and into the 7th chapter. A couple more chapters to go and I shall be done.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Malaysia's 51st National Day

This morning I arrived at the Likas Sports Complex where Malaysia's 51st National Day was celebrated. The Negara-Ku was sung and there was a march by the Malay Regiment in full regalia.Sabah Tanah Air-ku, negeri kita yang tercinta. What pride in Statehood and what glory when citizens lived in harmony and stand shoulder to shoulder with one another. Anyhow, I am a son of Sabah, anak Malaysia. There was much flags waving, and I waved my Malaysian flag caught up in the euphoria. I could have picked up a Sabah flag but I chose to wave the Malaysian flag, Jalur Gemilang because I believe in Sabah as part of Malaysia forever, until Jesus comes again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

One Life. One Place.

You just have one life and you can be at one place at a time. This morning I was awakened by the Muslim call to prayers and I went down to the dining room where I normally spend quiet moments before the Lord. By 6am I had my computer turned on and I started writing until 7.30am when it was time to go church. I wrote and I wrote and for the first time since writing my thesis back in 2002, I felt a sense of real excitement putting thoughts on paper or words on screen. I typed away furiously on my Macbook Air (11inch) and now it is reaching 15,000 words and the 4th chapter. I am almost halfway through. At this rate I could finish the first draft by the end of the month.

The worship was powerful today led by two of my favourite song leaders, youth leaders, one male and one female. Even the back up singers sang extremely well. Tambourine dancers lined the stage of the church in their beautiful and elegant yellow attires and flowing robes. The preacher hit so many one-liners that I lost count. Be generous with God, be stingy with sin. The only thing that matters eternally is what you do for Jesus. He preached from Matt 26 about the woman who anointed Jesus with costly perfume. Give your all to Jesus. You have one life. Use it for Jesus. Be a river, don't be a dam. Jadilah sungai bukan empangan.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Time for a New Book

There is a time for everything under heaven. When asked when I was going to write my new book, I have often quoted Jesus' words to his brothers, "My time is not yet." Three days ago my good friend asked me again to consider writing a book. I was provoked to action but previous attempts have been discarded after 2 or 3 pages. I have 4 or 5 files of failed attempts in trying to write my second book.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ministry Milestones

Today is the 13th anniversary of Sept 11 2001 infamy. It was one of those moments forever etched in memory, remembering what one was doing when the two planes crashed into NY's twin towers. I was writing my doctoral thesis on Revelation. The other moment almost as emotionally wrenching was the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. I was in Melbourne, Australia. But few days ago I celebrated my 2nd milestone and this second half of 2014 is a year with several personal milestones. The first two were private but the next two I shall be celebrating with friends and church family, marking my 20th year in full-time ministry and 25 years as a member of one SIB church in Kota Kinabalu.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sunset in Borneo

I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets and the rise of the full Moon across South China Seas at Teluk Likas, Kota Kinabalu.
My friend and I biked along the 8km cycle way from Sabah Foundation to Teluk Likas, near the city centre.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Moon Festivals

Jewish feasts are mostly moon festivals. The feast of Passover falls on the 15th of Nisan and the coming feast of Tabernacles, a month from now, falls on the 15th day of Tishri. Today is the Moon Festival for the Chinese, 15th day of the 8th month, also known as the mid Autumn festival. I did not know about it until told by a friend this morning because I am a spiritual Jew more than anything else as Paul says in Roms 2 that it is the one who is inwardly circumcised who is a Jew and his praise comes from God and not men. I am excited by lunar festivals this year. Next full moon, Feast of the Tabernacles is the second blood moon, a full eclipse, part of a tetrach of eclipses for 2014 and 2015 all falling on key Jewish festivals. The Feast of Tabernacles or booths or in Hebrew, hag hasukkoth commemorates the wanderings of the Jews for forty years in the wilderness, bemidbar. Imagine that the greatest festival of the year is a festival of wanderings or time in the wilderness.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sabbath - Cessation Time

Robert Alter defines "sabbath" as "cessation time." The Five Books of Moses (p. 409). As I read Exodus 16, the principle of sabbath is reinforced by the miracle of manna, only gathered for six days with a double portion on the 6th day but a cessation on the 7th when there was no manna. It is "day of rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord (Exod 16,23). "Six days you will gather it, and on the 7th day, the sabbath, there will be none." (16,27). As usual, some Israelites refused to believe the word of the Lord through Moses and the lesson of sabbath has to be brought home repeatedly, as "they go out not from their place on the 7th day and the people ceased from work." Likewise, the principle of the sabbatical year is the same that Israelites could work their land for 6 years and then they have to rest for a whole year. This sabbath principle teaches the Israelites who their God and Master is, the lord and owner of their land, the land of Israel as a whole given to Israelites as a gift through a promise. Attached to the promise that they could retain possession of the land in perpetuity if they believe in the Lord, including the sabbath commandment, both weekly and every 7th year and a special or double sabbath on the Year of Jubilee.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"By the Blessing of the Upright a City is Exalted" (Proverbs 11:11)

The prophet Jeremiah asked the Judean exiles to seek the welfare of the city (Babylon) where they would be exiled for 70 years. A city is saved by the righteous who live in it. Sodom and Gomorrah could have been saved if there were 10 righteous men whereas Jerusalem would be spared if only one righteous man lived in it in the time of Jeremiah. No doubt the righteous play a role often unacknowledged by the powers to be. They stand in the gap and intercede for the nation. They pray for kings and those in authority (1 Tim 2). They stand in the gap when disasters come and the Lord protects the city in response to the cries of the righteous. Whether it is earthquake, plague or haze, when the righteous call on the Lord, the city is saved. The city is exalted when the righteous bless it with their prayers and petitions before the Lord most High, the king of all Nations.