Thursday, October 30, 2014

Twists & Turns

Just as I thought things were almost settled, there are further twists and turns. The Lord prepared me for this as I was reading Romans 8,21ff for Saturday's convocation sermon - "More than conquerors". Truly one can do all things through Christ. Nothing could unsettle one whose mind is fixed on Thee, Lord.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

O Books, Whither your Home?

Deciding where to send my books has been the greatest challenge. My home destination is not the ideal addressee neither is my current location. Thus, I sent a box full of my most precious books to my son in New Zealand in the hope that he will make use of some of them, maybe not now but in years to come. A man is only as good as his tools. A quick glance of the pastor's library will tell me whether the pastor will go far in the ministry of the Word. He must know words in order to articulate the Word. No wonder Paul was chosen to write half the New Testament because he was learned than most. No wonder he was called to be the apostle to the nations because the nations were multilingual like Paul and Paul was an expert in Greek, the lingua franca of the day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Final Reckoning

It is the finale. In the next 36 hours I have to decide what to bring with me and what goes into the recycle bin. I am sorting out my papers for the 10th time. Already gave all my notes to one former student but I still have stacks of photocopied articles. Most will be thrown out just like salt that has lost its saltiness. Perhaps I will ship my last three boxes of books or maybe I will give them away. This is the third and final time I am bringing things back with me to Sabah. One lesson I have learned through moving houses in the past months is that moving is hard and that's why very few choose to move. Perhaps a spiritual analogy why very few truly follow Christ because it involves going and moving.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cutting Ties & Burning Bridges

I may leave one place to another which in a sense is cutting ties and burning bridges. But in another sense one thing I do not do is to cut ties with friends or burn bridges with churches and institutions. My return to Kota Kinabalu is largely facilitated by friends who remember my ministry with a degree of fondness and these ties will be renewed by the will of the Lord. The bond that ties brothers together is love and when there is love ties are not broken but remain strong. Bridges that are not burnt could be traversed again, bridges of friendship and comradeship. A lot of these ties are made and strengthened over a cup of coffee in fellowship and mutual encouragement in the work of the Lord.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hope against Hope

Abraham and David are among my favourite fathers in the Old Testament. Abraham went forth without knowing where he was going. The destination was not told him until he was on the way. Just before I left Sabah on Wednesday, my future was still totally in the dark. I proceeded to cancel my credit card and close my bank accounts except one for no man can escape the tax man and until next year I will still need to pay taxes for income earned this year. This time we bought return tickets to Sabah. But all these without knowing what my future holds for me.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sleepless in Singapore

I spent a sleepless night. I thought I escaped from the heat of the battle by returning to Singapore but alas when I received news from home I did not know what to make of it. I tossed and turned, seeking the Lord per chance He will speak in His gentle voice but when I got up I was nowhere near resolving what was going through my mind whole night. So I prayed to Lord, have mercy on your church. You are the King. Let your decree concerning Your servant stand. This morning I read half of Hosea. Yesterday before the news came, I read half of Esther.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2nd Phase of Sabbatical Ends

My 6 weeks in Sabah have been times of refreshing and times of hearing and speaking the Word of God. I had preached 4 times, twice in Ranau and twice in Kota Kinabalu. It achieved its desired effect that more and more people know that I am back in Sabah. Last night out of the blue, we were invited to a dinner by a former church member. They were some of my strongest supporters when I was pastor, and it saddens me that some of my closest friends had moved to another church. We talked for 2 hours on many things but it was mutually edifying. I have learned not to count the chickens before they hatched. Nothing is sure until it is sure.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Last Sermon

I preached for 65 minutes, the longest sermon in 7 years. The text given to me was 1 Kings 17-19. Elijah and Jezebel and their conflict. I also spoke about the prophetic ministry in the New Testament from 1 Cor 12, 14 and Eph 2,20; 3,5; 4,7-16. The songs were mostly new to me but the song leader was one I worked with during my time as pastor. He is a wonderful song leader. I felt strong in the Lord as I had prepared for 10 days. Early Sunday at 4am I was already up. The Word was not easily contained as I spoke even as the oracles of God. I went on so long because I could see the church was ready for it. One visitor told me she understood little of what I said because it was in Malay. How did I learn to speak Malay? Well I told her I was Malay educated and proud to speak the national language well. I asked her whether she found the worship meaningful. She said Malay was a romantic language and the worship was touching. I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sunshine & Leadership

For the first time in 9 days I was greeted with sunshine this morning. Leaders are bringers of light as king David says when one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light (2 Sam 23,3).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Feast of Ingathering & Israel

One of the prophetic signs of sukkot is the ingathering of the nations and then salvation will reach Israel even as Paul the apostle said that when the number of the Gentiles has come in, then all Israel shall be saved (Rom 11,26). The appointed time is now. Gentiles from every nation are being gathered in and when this gathering is complete, God will turn to save His elect, the people of Israel. Evangelism should be hastened and preaching the Gospel should be given priority as we hasten the coming of the day of God.

Prophecy & Feast of Tabernacles

For Christians, the only major Feast that is left unfulfilled is sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus Christ the Lamb of God has been sacrificed on Passover and the Holy Spirit has been poured out on Pentecost, leaving Tabernacles as the prophetic Feast looking forward to the end-time. In Lev 23, a total of 7 Feasts are enumerated beginning with the Sabbath day. The 7th month lists 3 Feasts, Rosh Hashanah, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles which is the climax of the festal year. It is called the Feast of ingathering as crops and grapes and olives are gathered in the barns in late Autumn in preparation for the next year of planting and sowing. Hence, the prayer for rain, the early rain for the crops to grow and the latter rain for the crops to mature and ripen. We are into a season of the latter rain as the first Pentecost was the early rain while the end- times will see a double portion of the latter rain so that crops mature quicker and the harvest is large beyond measure. Speaking of rain, it has been raining 7 days non-stop in KK, a sign of the latter rain which the church will experience that will impact the world greater that the charismatic renewal of the 1960s and 70s.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Feast of Tabernacles & Blood Moon

Today will witness a convergence of events. The Feast of Tabernacles begins this evening, 15th Tishri (5775) and we will also witness a blood moon rising at 5.59pm Kota Kinabalu's time (Singapore about 7pm) - a total lunar eclipse, the second time this year (the first was on Passover, 14th Nisan). And it is also my 100th day in Sabbatical unto the Lord. I had stopped writing my book for a week since I had to prepare for my Atonement Day message but now today I have been writing the epilogue on "Pastoral leadership & Theological Education". It's up to 64,000 words. God's appointed Feasts are signs. Even in the Hebrew, it is God's appointed times, moed. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Return

The Bible is full of stories of people returning home after a sojourn elsewhere. The greatest example is Jesus, who as an infant spent 5 or 6 years in Egypt before returning home to Israel. Also when Naomi returned home the whole city was shaken with the news. While Naomi's fortunes took a turn for worse, Jacob returned with well earned wages in flocks of goats and sheep. Jacob became a rich man despite Laban's ill treatment. Perhaps, Jacob who cheated his brother got a taste of his own medicine as he claimed that Laban had cheated his wages 10 times. Jacob received a revelation from the Lord to return to Canaan after 20 years. And the greatest national return is the return from exile. Although 70 years were prophesied, the Israelites in fact endured about 50 years in exile from 587 BC to 538 BC. Quite likely the 50 years in exile is set as the maximum time which Israelites could be away from their own possessions according to the laws of Jubilee.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rain & Divine Love

Kota Kinabalu is extremely hot throughout the day and night. But for the past 5 days it has been raining and for the first time I had to turn on the heater for bath. The rain has been good and refreshing, showers of blessings for plants, grass and earth. If the Father takes care of the grass will He not care for us His beloved children? The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit is the best gift to humans. Every person is looking for love.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Here I am

The song leader started worship by speaking Hebrew today and he repeated three times "hineniy", the Hebrew for "Here I" or "Here I am". Abraham answered God and the angel with hineniy, a sigh of readiness on Abraham's part to listen to the royal command. Much like the prophet Isaiah who also answered hineniy when he heard God asking "Who shall go for us?" This attitude of worshipful waiting for the royal command is especially precious as obedience is better than sacrifice. I have experienced 3 days of intense spiritual activity. On Friday I spent 12 hours in the Lord's presence before preaching for 30 minutes. Yesterday was Yom Kippur and we fasted. Today was the Lord's day and we worshipped and listened to His Word. Again I can't emphasize more the importance of preaching. If it is done well which the congregation listens to the voice of the Lord and not of man's, then God's will is done and He is exalted.

Ku kan Terbang Tinggi (I will fly high)

There is something special about Malay worship songs. Today for a while I did not feel anything until the last song. I am still humming and singing in my heart. I will fly high I will raise my hands and I surrender to You O Lord. And I prayed that the Lord would pour out his love to his children and church members gathered. "What do you want? All I want is You, Lord. My heart breaks with his love outpoured. I can't imagine anyone wanting anything else. I have no desire on earth except You Lord. After service ended I went to drinks fellowship and spoke to at least five ordinary members.

New Day & New Hope

I got up way before the Muslim call to prayers. I had gotten used to the sound of the call as my house is surrounded by two mosques. I have always thought to myself that if my co-religionists could get up early at 4:30am to pray why not Christians? So this morning  I got up before 4am and I was filled with a sense of peace which was indescribable. I was filled with a joy that transcends the many joys I had experienced before. I was filled with a sense of hope that words could not define for eyes have not seen nor ears heard nor the heart perceived what God had prepared for them that love him. What I am certain about is that a new dawn is coming, a new day which brings new hope.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Yom Kippur & Fasting

The only time fasting was enjoined on the Israelites is on the Day of Atonement. So it was fitting for my homechurch to hold a prayer and fasting day today. We broke fast at 4.30pm after we prayed from 9am. I was praying at home until noon before joining my church members. At the end, about 15 men and 7 women took part. The moment we finished prayers, there was a sudden downpour but it lasted a few minutes. We were just reading 1 Kings 17 where Elijah said that there would be no rain except at his word.

Yom Kippur & Preaching

I preached a 30 min sermon last night at 9.15pm. I was supposed to preach at 7.30pm before dinner but the meeting was delayed so the chairman announced that dinner would be served first before the sermon. First the natural then the spiritual. It was a good move since for more than an hour I was wondering how to cut short the sermon as minutes passed without most of the guests present. But I had waited in the Lord's presence since 6.30am and I was filled with power and the Spirit of the Lord when I stepped up to the podium. I preached about 3 things. First, the Day of Atonement and Jubilee based on Lev 25, 8 to vv 13. Then, the acts of God towards men who love Him based on Psalm 91,14-16. The third on team ministry as it was a men's fellowship soccer tournament. I shared why it was important to mark milestones in one's life. Jubilee is only celebrated once in one's lifetime and it is important to make it count. Interestingly it was on the day of Atonement, 10th day of Tishri that the trumpet is blown marking the year of Jubilee. In Psalm 91, there are two states of men and one action of man but God acts in 7 different ways.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yom Kippur & A Fresh Start

That's it! I have finished my book. I added a half-page Prologue and a full-page Synopsis. I have reached 61,000 words and 144 pages. I think it is a good number, even given the formatting, etc with photos and maps, the book will be not more than 150 pages, depending on the font size. Tonight I shall be preaching at a State-level Men's Fellowship. It has been raining since last night but I pray the turnout will be good with expected 40 tables to be filled. I will preach from Lev 25:8-13 on the Day of Atonement Yom Kippur and the blowing of trumpets in Jubilee. Menandakan batu peringatan dan pelayanan berpasukan (Marking Milestones & Team Ministry). It will be a fresh start for me. I will move on to another stage of my book project, sourcing a publisher and a translator of my book from English to Malay.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Finishing Touches

I am putting the finishing touches to my book. A table of contents is being finalised with each chapter divided into 7 to 12 sections. I think when all the maps and photos are put in the book will be about 120 pages or 60,000 words. You may read it in 2 sittings.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

4th Month of my Sabbatical

I am pleased that my sabbatical has finally bore fruits. God's timing is always perfect. My friend suggested that I should write a book on 10th September and I started the next day. When he called me three days ago I was just about to finish.