Thursday, December 31, 2015

1 Year is Up

The newspapers proprietor in Ranau town greeted me this morning, "Pastor Tony you have been here in Ranau, one year so fast...". At least someone noticed. With that my one year in Ranau is up. I arrived in Ranau exactly one year ago at 7.30 am to take up my new appointment as pastor of SIB Muhibbah. Tonight I shall be preaching the end of the year and New Year's message, probably close to my 100th sermon in church including Wednesday mid-week services and other preaching assignments elsewhere. It has been a good run. Two days ago, I went from house to house and conducted two services before rushing back to church for the Tuesday prayer meeting. At one meeting on the occasion of a girl turning 12, I preached about the 3 daughters of Job when the Lord restored him and lo and behold the birthday cake has 3 beautiful ladies and I remarked that these must be Job's three daughters to the laughter of many. What can I say?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Story of my Christmas

At the end I had to say goodbye to my son 24 hours before he had to return to Auckland. For the first time in my life on Christmas midnight I drove through the darkness of the Ranau-KK road in less than 1.45 hours. I had prayed before hand and told my son about it for fine weather. Fine weather it was. There was hardly any mist or fog which is usual during night time and the night was clear as the moon shone behind my back as I drove. As there was no street light all the way I had to rely on my highlight but by 35km all the way to Tamparuli I followed a car in front of me driving at about 80 to 90 kms an hour, just the kind of speed I fancied. That car was my angel and it led all the way down the valley of Tamparuli onwards to Kota Kinabalu. Waking up before 5am I prayed for my breakfast meeting with my brother at Sutera Harbour. I was overjoyed to hear that he and his family attended Christmas service at SIB Skyline church located at the hotel precincts.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to All

Last night my sermon fell flat. I preached for 40 mins on Yesus, Melchisedek based on Gen 14 and Heb 7,1-3. I felt more disappointed as it was a full house and there were many new people. A family I visited yesterday at noon came in force with about 15 adults and children. My son commented that they repaid the pastor's kindness in coming to church. In a way without denying the role of others, the pastor is probably the main factor whether the church feels at peace and whether people feel accepted as part of the church family. Today's Christmas service was even more packed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Preacher's Holidays

I tried whole morning getting my son to see a dentist. The dental clinics are either full or the dentists are on holidays. But what about the preacher's holidays? During my several mid week foray back to KK supposedly on holidays I worked most days to prepare for Christmas messages. Last weekend alone I had preached 5 sermons, all new and fresh to five different audiences in 5 different venues. Only last week I had googled "Ranau" and it turns out the District is 3,555sq kms, five times larger than Singapore.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Into the midst of the Jungle

Last night past the 9pm mark I was feeling terribly sleepy and tried to hide my constant yawning from my hosts lest they thought I was not interested in their songs and various presentations. The women folks put up a great show with candle and stick dance and songs. I preached at 9.15pm after arriving at the church at 6.30pm. By then I had been on the road for 7 hours with about 30 mins break in between. My wife and son came with me on both occasions. Just wanted my son to taste afresh the jungles of Borneo. The first place we went to had no electricity so no fan in church so we were all sitting outside before we moved in at the start of the service.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ranau Pastors' Fellowship Christmas in Pictures

One of the highlights of my Ranau ministry is being a part of the Ranau's Pastors fellowship. We had a Christmas celebration last Wednesday with the DS also in attendance.

For the first time, the Inter-church fellowship together with State's Ranau District council held a Christmas celebration in front of KFC. Tonight is the final night but I shall be with my church celebrating our Children's Christmas.

Christmas Service in Pictures

First item by children and youths, dancing to an English song.

Worship team....

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mountains & Valleys, Father & Son

I got up in the early hours of the morning and mumbled to myself that it was getting harder to travel back and forth Ranau. Perhaps I should ask for a new placement in the plains, down the valley, in Kota Kinabalu. At least there are more varieties of foods here in the city. For the first time in about 12 months I felt reluctant to return to Ranau this morning. The journeyings have worn me out. Though I am taking leave, there is not much fun since most of my leave is used up to prepare for sermons and I have 3 sermons to preach this weekend, 2 on Saturday and once on Sunday. Then I may go down to KK once more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

In & Out

One of the few advantages of having served as an executive is the annual leave entitlement of 35 days. I have never used up my annual leave in my time in SIB, but this time round it comes in handy as I had travelled in and out of Ranau, 3 times already in the first week of December. With my father ill and my son back from NZ, it is a good time to have with my family. I don't know how to juggle all the Christmas preaching I had to do, both in Ranau and in KK.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Setting the Vision

I preached on the text, without a vision the people perish (Prov 29,18). Interestingly, the LXX has a slightly different take, without an interpreter/exegete, the people are lawless. So I set the vision for the church for 2016. Having established a solid pulpit ministry and praise and worship this year with restoration of cell groups meeting from house to house, I set my heart on discipling church members through regular discipleship classes. I plan to get that going by February 2016. The second focus for 2016 is evangelism and outreach. We have been rather successful in reaching out local communtities with 4 or 5 active cell groups in villages but I challenged the church to go farther, to another District, perhaps one that is within 2 or 3 hours' drive.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Dawn Ride in the City

I'd gotten used to sleeping early and rising early. I went past a mosque and saw about 10 worshippers inside at 5.20am. How nice to have a dawn prayer meeting 6am to 7am. I drove to the city centre offering quiet prayers. A few coffee shops are opened and I stopped at one to enjoy my tea and taufu while reading my NT with Psalms.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Space & Place in Sermon Preparation

I think most preachers can attest to the fact that sermon preparation is an no ending task. It can take place anytime and anywhere. There is no ideal place as if it must be crafted in the pastor's study or private room. I have learned over the years that I am constantly making sermons whether on the MRT, sitting in the Bus stop, enjoying a cup of coffee or a quiet walk in the park. Now I am at a hospital bedside preparing for Sunday's sermon. I have to preach 10 or 11 Christmas sermons besides. I have reached 60 Sunday sermons for the year making a total of more than 100 if Wednesday and Friday sermons are taken into consideration, not counting the 20 plus sermons or so I preached outside my congregation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Family, God and the Angel of Death

Sometimes one has to choose between family and God. It is either following Jesus or burying one's father. One can't do both, according to Jesus. But in the past week and the coming weeks I will be trying to do both. After exactly 24 hours in Ranau, I drove back to KK to see to my father's needs. The 24 hours in Ranau were impactful. I conducted the communion for both services. In the first service I led prayers for the newly elected leaders. I even joked that my former youth pastor is now my boss having been elected Secretary General. Thankfully he texted me and thanked me for my advice as to what elected office to go for during the AGM. In the 2nd service, I prayed for the State level Youth Conference starting tonight. We expect 5,000 youths to turn up. The old lady who pleaded with me not to leave the church kissed my hand as she whispered a thanksgiving to the Lord that the HQ had not taken me away from the church (Mount Kinabalu at 6.15 am 30th Nov, near Kundasang).

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pastor's Prayer: Tithes & Offerings

Yesterday the elder after his sermon asked me to pray for the offering that was about to be given unto the Lord. It is rare that I prayed before the offering, usually the church treasurer would do that. So I prayed and thanked the Lord for his goodness and blessings on the church and that we were about to give a portion that belonged to Him. I included the words "tithes and offerings" as our denomination's tradition is that members give their 10%.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Dust has Settled

I reached Ranau in record time, trying hard to keep within speed limits.  My elder told me that there was no need for me to be in church this morning as I was not preaching and he could take over the officiating of the Lord's supper. But when I got up before dawn, I had this feeling that I could not leave my flock this Sunday and decided to drive back to Ranau. I had 3 hectic days in KK, juggling between attending our denomination's AGM and visiting my sick father in the hospital.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Need 4 Power

The kingdom of God is not of talk but of power, says Paul. Unless one has experienced the power and possesses the power, one's ministry is in vain. The power is not personal. It does not belong to man but to God. It is the sovereign will of God to bestow the power of the Holy Spirit to whomever he wishes. Paul says that God has made him and his colleagues ministers of the new covenant. The old covenant brings death but the new brings life because the power of the Spirit is given to those who believe in Christ and to those who are called to be His servants. Too often the selection or election of leaders is done without giving heed to the need for power. God's servants are powerful not in themselves but the Spirit of God anoints them to carry his mighty works.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Overload & Underprepared

I preached on consecutive services that were not planned as I travelled for a major meet at another District, some 2 hours away from Ranau. When I got back to Ranau at 4pm yesterday I was already exhausted from the early rising, preaching and driving for 4 hours plus. Last night I would have gone through my preparation for this morning but my mind was tired so instead I attended the worship rehearsal at night just for relaxation and recharging in the midst of my ministry team. Thank God that they are the godly ones in the land and my delight is in them, says the Lord. This morning I rose at 5am sharp but was awakened way before that and meditated on the goodness of the Lord. I only had one message truly prepared for the first service and I went to church at 7.10am seeking inspiration for the second message in the second service. Soon members came in and by the time we started we had 150 people in the small hall though most students had returned to the villages for their end of the year school vacation. I preached on the ten commandments as our Scripture reading on Exodus has reached chapter 20 and I thought I must speak on this pivotal chapter especially how the ten commandments are still applied in the New Testament and the age of grace.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sunday Survival

I have survived another Sunday. Early rising during the weekend took its toll and I slept through Monday afternoon. Later my wife showed me the box of books from New Zealand. The postman knocked on our door when I was sound asleep. Indeed the Lord prepares for his beloved in his sleep. The weekend was tougher than most weekends as I met with several committees on Saturday to get ready for next year's programme. On Sunday I preached once, then attended two meetings in the afternoon and at night. I preached from Matt 7,21-23 nearing the climax of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount but mainly focused on what it meant to do the will of the Father. "Not everyone who calls me Lord Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of My Father in heaven".

Friday, November 13, 2015

"Without a Vision the People are Listless" (Prov 29,18)

Without a vision the people get out of hand (NJB 29,18). The church runs on the vision of its pastor. Everywhere I go I must have a vision of what I wanted to accomplish. As pastor, I must set the direction and mission of the church. How do I build up the church? If the church is strong, then its mission should be clear and bold. As this is my first year, my vision is to lay the foundations of the church, especially its Sunday services. In its 5th month, we tweaked the order of service with the reading of Scripture after the first 3 songs and offering after the sermon. All these may seem minor changes, but these are not insignificant. The flow of the worship and service as a whole has improved. Before we used to have two sets of readings, one by the children's ministry and set readings of the week. When you add announcements before that, it could be 20 mins before the first song is sung.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Give me One Proof of Your Goodness" (NJB, Psalm 86,16)

There are times like the Psalmist that we seek proof that God is on our side. Like Gideon there are times we thought that we should test whether God is still with us. Yet testing God could be presumptous and offending the Most High is not something to be trifled with. The Psalmist in Ps 86 feels he is persecuted and there are are many around him that would make life difficult for the god-fearing man.  Once I read that about a third of the Psalter deals with David's or the Psalmist's enemies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Beautiful Feet (Isaiah 52:7): An Inter-Church Event

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news...who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isa 52:7). I actually travelled across mountains and valleys from Ranau to Keningau last weekend. The Ranau-Tambunan's 64km stretch was especially trying with winding and mountainous terrains throughout. From Tambunan to Keningau about 50kms, one could get there in less than 40 mins as the roads are not as challenging. In fact as one approaches Keningau from Apin-Apin, there is one long straight road ahead for about 18 kms, probably the longest stretch of a straight road in Sabah. The meetings I spoke at were part of an inter-church gathering.
Thankful that the Reverends from the Anglican, Basel, Baptist and a couple of independent churches turned up. The pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in town with a 3-shop unit attended every session from 8am to 12:30pm and then the night revival meeting. I was astonished to know that SIB youths were the minority in this Christmas gathering. One church, All Nations church that led worship during the night had about 70 youths turning up, about 20% of the whole attendance that night. Demographics and trends change constantly.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Keningau Trip

Keningau is one of the biggest towns in the interior of Sabah. Within 10 years the town has doubled in size and there must be six or seven new hotels built in recent years. My wife and I were put up in one of new hotels with a glorious view from its roof top cafe and restaurant.  We had buffet breakfast over two days, though I was struggling with flu nevertheless grateful for being able to rest while not preaching in comfortable surroundings. There are shops, eateries and the meal we had on our final night in a food court was simply delicious. Ranau is dull by comparison. I was told that are now two SIB churches right in town with the oldest where we had the series of meetings just at the outskirt of Keningau, 2 kms away.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Back from the Dead

It was meant to be. I chose Paul's epistle to the Galatians as my main text for last night's revival meeting sermon.  I preached for 55 mins just as the worship also went as long. Paul fell sick when he preached the Gospel to the Galatians. I got up at 2am with feverish symptoms and took two panadols and sweated it out during the early hours of the morning.  As I preached last night, on occasions I felt numb and cold and on occasions I broke out in a sweat. The aircon was in full blast but the church was full last night so it wasn't that cold. I talked about the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ. Two real dangers in Galatians - legalism and libertanism.

Friday, November 6, 2015

On the Move

It's hard to believe that with SIB churches found in all corners of the State of Sabah that I have just gone out of the Ranau District once, on the 12th June 2015 to Malinsau, 2.5 hours' drive from Ranau on treacherous muddy and rocky roads. That night I escaped the biggest tremor since the 5th June 5.9 earthquake as Ranau was hit by an aftershock measuring 5.1. I have kept myself within my jurisdiction which is my pastorate with 5 services a week. That will keep any pastor occupied with an increasing church membership. I have kept myself busy somewhat as Ranau District has given me much opportunity for ministry from Children's ministry, Youths, Women's Fellowship - I was either the sole speaker or one of the two or three preachers for these event or Conferences. I had also done one End-time seminar at the edge of Ranau district, some 30 mins' drive at Bundu Tuhan, near the National Park where Mount Kinabalu is located. But today I am headed to an interior district of Keningau another 2.5 hours' drive though this time on better roads.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Will my Books ever Find a Home?

In the rush of packing last year, somehow I sent a box of books to my son in Dunedin,  New Zealand thinking that I might just join him there early this year. So when he told me he was moving up to Auckland next week, I was in two minds again about what to do with my books. I don't want to burden him as he has enough baggage moving house to another city. But in my indecision just in case I were to go to New Zealand next year, I thought there was no point in posting the books back to Malaysia.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Monday Meditations

When I stepped into church last Saturday night for rehearsal, the song leader for the first Sunday service was singing the Psalm where the Psalmist says that he waits on the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning. I just read that Psalm in English over dinner. It was a confirmation of sorts that I needed to spend more time in waiting on the Lord and praying, seeking His will for myself and the church next year. We are planning for the church's programme for 2016 and I can't put my mind into planning, partly because I was occupied in sermon preparation the whole week. I had preached 4 full sermons (Wed, Thursday, Sunday x2). I am glad my week-long annual leave is coming up again, though this time I have to go to Keningau for a day long ministry this Saturday. Although I had taken a week off in September, it was the first time that the pastor's leave was announced in church yesterday.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Worship Team in Worship Mode

I was reluctant to give my go-ahead when my worship team asked that they meet every alternate Thursday for worship and mutual encouragement. I told the deacon in charge of the worship ministry that I have only Thursday off and it will be difficult to attend another meeting in the week. But I relented somewhat and the worship team started their meeting late last month. I went for the first time last night and shared a devotion on the 63rd Psalm. I noticed several things happening during last night's meeting. The attendance was about 40 people, mostly youths about the same numbers with our mid-week service of mostly adults. Second, the structure of the meeting was extremely innovative. The meeting started with an ice-breaker/game and those caught up were asked to share their testimonies. How nice. For once I got to listen to my members' testimonies though I had encouraged them to come forward on a Sunday but being a bit shy, none had taken up the offer. Yesterday I heard four youths sharing how the Lord blessed them during the week.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Gospel for all Nations

We pride ourselves as a great commission church. Our motto is "make disciples of all nations..." but an overwhelming majority of my church members comes from one ethnic group. Even in Ranau we have many ethnic groups or "nations" (ethne). Last night I preached one of the toughest messages to date. I am sure I made a few people uncomfortable. I preached from Eph 2,11-19 and Romans 14-15. I knew I had to cover that in about 30 minutes and at the end I preached for about 40 mins. Midweek sermons are normally short and soft, but last night I challenged the church to ask itself why the church is not as multiracial as it should be? Second, is it because of the system, leadership structure and how we do ministry (pendekatan pelayanan)? What do we need changing if we want to see other races and tribes come into our church? Sometimes our lingo is so mono-cultural that other groups will have no idea what we are on about. Several times, Paul used the key phrase, "both parties into one" in the Ephesians 2 passage. Jews and non-Jews (nations) brought together as one people, one church by the blood of Christ. In fact, Paul says "to create a new man out of the two..." as if a new humanity is formed when Jews and Gentiles sit together and worship in one accord.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Clear Blue Skies & Pauline Theology

It's sometimes hoped that the journey of our lives will be like a bed of roses. But rarely it turns out to be clear blue skies all the times. The haze had reached Ranau last Saturday though it had not gotten past into the unhealthy range of psi 100 and above. So for the past few days the clear blue skies over our heads are a welcome sight. Often we take the good things of nature for granted, sunshine and rain in their seasons. In the end time when climate change is a major challenge, Christians like everyone else will have to face up to an uncertain future and an increasing unpredictable weather. This will include haze from neighbouring countries. As much as we want to help them change their ways, it is unlikely to happen unless change comes from within.

"Direct Communion with the Divine Being"

"The religion of the Jews from its first beginning to its fullest development in Christianity was founded on the belief that human nature can, in certain cases, at certain moments in the life of certain individuals, come into direct communion with the Divine Being, and can thus learn the purpose and will of God. In other words, God occasionally reveals Himself to man." William Ramsay, Pauline Studies, p. 3.

"The issue was that he did become the recipient of revela- tion, and that his life was profoundly affected, and his views revolutionised thereby. He repeatedly described himself, or is described by others, as having both seen the Lord and heard His voice.

Now what do we understand by this? The question cannot and ought not to be evaded. Paul's words are too clear and strong to be passed over as inexact or unim- portant. He declared emphatically that the revelations made to him, the words spoken to him, and the sights granted to his eyes, were his greatest privilege and honour, constituted the motive power of all his action, and sup- plied the whole spirit and essence of his life. Those re- velations, and especially the first of them, when he saw Jesus on the way, as he was now nigh unto Damascus, were in his view the most real events of his life. In com- parison with them, all else was mere shadow and semblance; in those moments he had come in contact with the truth of the world, the Divine reality. He had been permitted to become aware of the omnipresent God who is everywhere around us and in us." (p. 9).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Belated Blessings

Have you wondered why sometimes God delays in answering our prayers? One is to teach us to patiently wait for something we long for, Second, it could be that God knows exactly when we need the blessings or answers to our prayers. Yesterday, I preached on prayers in the first service from the Sermon on the Mount. I did not realize that I had preached for 30 mins until I saw the clock ticked 9.30am our scheduled end. But announcements took 15 mins and I knew from early on we were in trouble since we had holy communion and with a packed church of about 290 people it took a while before everyone was served. Normally we would mobilize 4 deacons but yesterday we had 6 deacons serving the emblems. So I only took to the pulpit to preach when the clock was showing 9am. Ask, and you shall receive seek and you shall find and knock and the door shall be opened unto you.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Lord is Present

I don't need fancy worship teams. We don't have a full band. Our stage is only 15ft x 7. It was so crammed today that 5 musicians squeezed behind the pulpit. I was reminded of the movie Antman when I saw how many people were on stage this morning. It was not the greatest of worship sessions today. But the students did a good job. I did not need to exhort people to give money. In fact I mildly rebuked the song leader for asking the congregation whether they had given their offerings. We don't do that. It is a competely free will offering. People can give and people can choose not to give. No questions asked. No mini sermon before the collection bags are passed round. Just a brief prayer to ask God to bless his people who give and bless those who can't give so that they are financially provided for. I don't need fancy church programmes.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Pastor's Wife (Revelation 2:20)

Any serious reader of the book of Revelation knows that Codex Alexandrinus (Codex A, early 5th century AD) is considered the most reliable of the ancient manuscripts for the Greek text of John's Revelation. Without some basic Hebrew and Greek, many important points will be missed in exegesis and interpretation of the Bible. One reading in Codex A for Revelation 2:20 is that instead "you allow the woman, Jezebel to teach..." we have the reading, "You allow your woman (wife), Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants..." The Greek word, "sou" (your) is found in Codex A and other manuscripts (esp. important is 046) but usually Bible translators chose not to follow the reading of Codex A in this instance for they think (wrongly) angels could not have wives. But if angels of Rev 2-3 are human messengers, then the preferred reading of Codex A should not be dismissed so easily.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sad Day 4 Singaporean Churches

I just received news that the six accused in the City Harvest Church's breach of trust case that occupied prime news for the past 2 years have been found guilty. Sentencing will be on a later date. When my Singaporean visitors told me about the case a few days ago, I told them that they would likely be found guilty but the appeal process could go on for years. Further, with the amount involved (SG50 million), the jail term for the senior pastor could be as long as 5 or 6 years or even more. It is a sad day for Singaporean churches. I was right in the thick of action when the case commenced in 2012 with many Christians asking for my opinion or talking about the case. I tried to avoid being personal and looked straight into the issues involved. First, the China Wine video was shown to me in 2007, a year before I went to Singapore in 2008 and my homechurch member asked my opinion whether Christians should sing and dance like that.

Monday, October 19, 2015

An International Service

It was a truly international service yesterday. We had a medley of 4 songs, three in Malay and one in English. Then the worship song was Agnus Dei in English and Malay as we had two guests from Singapore in our midst. We didn't want them to feel left out but at least could worship together when we sang the English songs. To make it a truly indigenous service the offering song was in Dusun, the language of my church members, the majority tribe of Sabah. It was accompanied by a beautiful dance by 4 young ladies of the church. It was a memorable service. I preached from Matthew 's Gospel on the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus saying on "do not give what is holy to the dogs, do not give pearls to the pigs lest they trample on you..."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Truly Indigenous Service?

In my 26 years as an SIB member, it was my first time experiencing an entire praise and worship in Dusun songs with one song in Murut. So for 45 mins I stood and clapped and occasionally danced to tunes and lyrics that I understood not. My friend and principal of the Bible College perhaps took pity on me and interpreted a stanza or two. I prayed for the gift of interpretation of tongues but none was forthcoming.  I was bemused why the song leader chose all Dusun songs since the guest of honour for the night was none other than our Vice President from the Lundayeh tribe. He probably knew more Dusun than me but not much more. As one of the main speakers of the seminar that day, in fact I opened the seminar with a key note lecture on the Function, Duty and Responsibility of Elders in the Church to 87 elders and deacons.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Alfred Plummer's Pastoral Epistles

"There are huge masses of evil in the world, which seem to defy the good influences that from time to time are brought to bear upon them. Humanly speaking, there seems to be only one hope of overcoming these strongholds of Satan,-and that is by the combined efforts of many enthusiasts. "This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith." It will be a grievous prospect for mankind, if faith in God, in ourselves, and in our fellow-men becomes so unfashionable as to be impossible. And this is the faith which makes enthusiasts. If we have not this faith ourselves, we can at least respect it in others. If we cannot play the part of Timothy, and go forth with glowing hearts to whatever difficult and distasteful work may be placed before us, we can at least avoid chilling and disheartening others ; and sometimes at least we may so far follow in the footsteps of St. Paul as to protect from the world's cynicism those who, with hearts more warm perhaps than wise, are labouring manfully to leave the world purer and happier than they found it." (p. 31, Timothy, the Beloved Disciple of St. Paul)

Monday, October 12, 2015

On the Divine Name

I have this long-standing interest in doing some research on the name of God. But today I came across the video posted by BibleEx of Mark Futato's 9min lecture. It is an excellent introduction (see here). I asked Professor Richard Bauckham during his visit to TTC in 2013 whether Jesus referred to or pronounced the name of God.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Every Ounce of my Energy

Man shall not live by rice alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt 4,4). Today despite preaching twice over two services, I preached a longish sermon expounding on Deuteronomy 10,12-22. Eleven verses to explicate and if 4 mins are given to one verse, something of an impossibility, I would have taken 44 mins. But the sermon went for 50 mins from 10.30 to 11.20am. By then, I had spent every ounce of my energy and after a freshening up back home I went for lunch with my guitarist, a man in his late 30s and the only person in church whom I could speak English with. What a relief! We talked for more than an hour until 1.30pm and I went home to rest.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spreading Wings

My year of hiatus in flying is about to be over. It was on the 24th October last year I flew for the last time making my final trip back to Sabah. Despite several invitations to teach outside of Sabah this year I told myself I was not going to fly for at least a year. I expect to travel next year, if not this December to attend a former student's wedding in Singapore. Sing dollar dropped just so slightly in the past couple of days. If not, I have a confirmed invitation to teach in KL after Chinese New Year in mid February 2016. After making 7 trips in 2013 and 6 trips in 2014, it is wonderful feeling that I don't have to board a plane in 2015.

Friday, October 9, 2015

9 Months & 9 Days

I have survived.  The number 9 in Chinese symbolises longevity and in the beginning of my current pastorate I seriously doubt I could last 6 months. More so after the June 5th earthquake when difficulties multiplied in terms of locating water and clean water for drinking. Electricity was intermittent at best and the constant aftershocks were a reminder that this world is passing away and all things are being shaken, literally and spiritually. I looked at some of the photos in the past 9 months and how the Lord in His inscrutable ways makes His will known to his unworthy servant. I looked at my congregation that I have grown to love and now very much part of my family literally and spiritually since none of my family members except my wife and son are in Christ as yet.

Monday, October 5, 2015

He who Thirsts let him Come to Me and Drink!

It was purely God's grace that I could preach two full sermons after a hectic weekend of Friday sermon and Saturday's end-time seminar. During the first song of the first service I was ushered into God's presence by His mercy and I had a vision. My inner being was stirred and out of it flowed mighty currents of God's Spirit. I was at the point of giving up and sought the Lord's counsel as to my future. Do you really want me to pastor this church? Do you want me to remain in Ranau? The Lord did not give me answers to my anxiety but He allowed me to see that He was the shepherd of the flock and He was holding my hand as I pastor the church. Lord, if You are the shepherd then all things will be well. I can't afford to allow a couple of individuals to cause trouble and hinder the work of God. Manifestly, it was the Lord's doing that He had added to the numbers of the congregation.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Love is Strong as Death

Cinta kuat seperti muat  (song of songs 8,5). I preached on this verse in the first service this morning to about 280 people. Every seat was taken, there was no more aisle and for the first time we had to put chairs outside the door. Those who sat outside actually met with me after service and they said they could hear me loud and clear. With one aircon down we had to bear with heat but most kampung folks know hardship and they did not complain. I spoke about love and falling in love and what true love meant. I shared 3 things about love.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

12th End-Time Seminar: Earthquakes and Haze

My holding of an end-time seminar on Saturday in another church almost caused some misunderstanding among my church leaders why I was not holding one in my own church. Maybe I have not explained to them that my own homechurch, a church I pastored from 2003 to 2008 had to wait 10 years before I held a seminar there in 2013 on invitation when I was still in Singapore. I have particular requirements or rules before I conduct any end time seminar. The church must prove to be worthy and they must be really keen to have me do the seminar with them. The book of Revelation is not every one's cup of tea. The book of Revelation is God's secrets revealed to those who truly desire His coming. They overcome and they are conquerors. They are not nominal Christians or Sunday Christians. For those who genuinely seek to know, God's mystery will be revealed.

John, His Gospel and Jesus

I read a couple of blogs on Stan Porter's forthcoming book on John's Gospel. It is the only book I taught twice as a day-time MDiv course at TTC, Singapore. It is a Gospel more than the book of Revelation or any other biblical book that holds my interest and admiration. Only in John you have two cryptic numbers, 153 large fishes in the Gospel and 666 in Revelation. Last night I preached about Jesus going up to the Feast of Tabernacles from John 7. In the midst of the Feast (7:14), Jesus went up to the Temple and taught there. I guess John the beloved disciple recorded many of Jesus' teachings in the Jerusalem Temple during Feast Days that were not found in the Synoptic Gospels. One simple explanation is that Jesus often took his three closest disciples on his journeys, Peter, James and John. John, who laid at Jesus' bosom at the Last Supper probably knew the heart of Jesus more than any disciple, Peter included. Jesus would have in private conversations told John many things now recorded as part of the fourth Gospel. I would not blink an eye to purchase when I come across books like Porter's (only USD30.00) but converted to Ringgit plus postage it will be close to RM250.00. That's half a month's salary for many of my fellow pastors here in Sabah. But last night I preached a powerful message on John 7. I think I made some people felt uncomfortable. Sometimes it is good to stir things a little instead of feel-good sermons and therapeutic messages. The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged word. It cuts both ways.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Last Book

The book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible. Craig Koester's commentary on Revelation that I ordered online early September 2014 has finally arrived, after more than 12 months in waiting. I had practically given up hope that the book would ever reach me. I wrote patiently to the online vendor and the person in charge was good most times to reply to my queries. When I bought the book at USD120 plus another 19USD in postage, altogether it cost USD139. One year ago at about 3.1 Ringgit to the Dollar, it was RM430.00. At today's rate, my book is now RM615.00 (4.43RM to the Dollar). The Ringgit has fallen 30% against the USD in just over a year. That's why I called it my last book because at the current exchange rate, it is simply unaffordable to purchase books from the USA.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekend Round-Up: Blood Moon & Mooncakes

There is much ado with the moon. The moon, says the Psalmist, is a sign from God who dwells in heaven (Psalm 89). It signifies God's intentions for the world. Jewish and Chinese calendars are lunar calendars. Every major Jewish feast day falls on a full moon. Yesterday was a convergence of several astronomical signs and major festivals. It was the 4th blood moon in 2 years, each of the 4 total lunar eclipses falling on consecutive Passover and Tabernacles (2014 & 2015). For the Chinese, the largest group in the world of some 1.5 billion people, Mooncake or mid-autumn festival was celebrated yesterday. Even a member of my Dusun church in Ranau gave me a box of mooncakes and my kind neighbour in KK as well. But I am more interested in the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, the third and final major Feast in Israel. It is also called the Feast of ingathering, where at the end of the year harvests are brought in and celebrated before the Lord.

Friday, September 25, 2015

I am not Alone

Jesus said that twice in John's Gospel: "I am not alone". It is one of the many paradoxical statements in the fourth Gospel. Jesus as usual is at his ironical self. He knows how lonely he is but asserts he is not alone. Speaking God's Word and seeking God's glory is a lonely job. There is no love lost for many hearers as many more often than not reject the Word of God and the glory that is God's alone.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pastors, Elders and Learning of God's Word

The king's heart is like rivers of waters, you turn it at will. This is another verse from the Psalms or is it Proverbs? I have many things planned one day but the next after some reflection it might be just wishful thinking when reality hits, it can draw one away even from one's strongest ideals. I was reading on Nehemiah's reforms this morning and how when it comes to the law he allowed the expert to take over and Ezra it was who gave the rendition of the reading of the Law on the 7th month. As we enter now into the month of Tishri, the 7th month, just a few days before the feast of Tabernacles, it does us good to reflect the way we do church. Does the ministry and learning of God's Word have central place in the life of the congregation? It was to Ezra, the heads of the clans and families came to learn the Law on the 2nd day of the 7th month (Neh 8,13). Moses had enjoined that on the 7th year in the 7th month, on the Feast of Tabernacles, Israelites are to come together in Jerusalem, the place where the Lord would choose and listen to the exposition of the Law. The problem today is this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Scrolls, Codices & Bible Knowledge

The Hebrew Bible books were written on papyrus, leather/parchment or copper rolls. Even apostle Paul asked Timothy not to forget to bring the scrolls and parchments to him in prison. Apparently prison was a good place to study and refresh oneself in Scripture before the heat of ministry outside. Today we have tens of thousands tools, books, Internet, apps aplenty but increasing biblical illiteracy. I am astonished but greatly saddeed. No wonder as Ecclesiastes put it, those who have knowledge will grief or mourn more seeing how the ignorant goes on their way without knowledge and truth.

I am excited with what I am doing with young teenagers. You need to start them young.  Once late teens or early twenties, their minds are pretty set and difficult to learn or unlearn anything that hinders true knowledge and wisdom.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Origins of the Bible

The Bible is the best attested ancient literature in the world. Copies of the Bible date to the time of Christ or 100 years before Christ. The Bible of the early Christians, the Septuagint was written in 280BC under the patronage of Ptolemy of the Seleciud empire. The Qumran or Dead Sea scrolls, mostly in Hebrew and contained fragments of almost every book of the Hebrew Bible (later Christian OT). Scrolls of the book of Isaiah, Deuteronomy and Daniel were intact. When one compares with the Masoretic text of the Leningrad scroll of early 11th century AD, the two most ancient copies of the Hebrew Bibles are almost identical in content though slight variants exist. This is remarkable considering more than 1,000 years separates the DSS and the MT. It tells the incredible precision in copying of the scribes at work making sure the biblical text word by word remains exactly as it is written in the beginning. The Greek New Testament as it was more recent comparatively speaking, is even better attested.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Changing Flags & Governments Down Under

I am relishing my holidays while it lasts. I have some free time to follow my other passions, news from Down Under while at the same time resetting my schedule for the next couple of weeks. After the public holiday on Thursday I shall be back to work. First up, on Saturday two lectures in a Youth Conference on "The Origins of the Bible." I will be preaching on Sunday and next Wednesday. I am chairing a leaders' meeting on Sunday, probably deciding then whether we are taking the next door unit for church expansion. The rent is a bit high but without space, we can't grow any further. This will be followed by an End-time Seminar in Bundu Tuhan (near Kinabalu Parks) on 3rd October. On the next public holiday on 14th October I will lecturing on "The Role and Function of Elders" and "Holy Communion" for a Church Sacrament Seminar held by Ranau District. We are expecting 150 participants, pastors (18), elders (30) and deacons (100) to turn up from all 26 local churches. In the past few days, I have been following news from Down Under. First, Aussie Jason Day becoming World no.1 Golfer. With Lydia Ko, a New Zealander becoming the youngest female major golf winner and youngest ever world no. 1 before going down to no. 2 at present, You can only be amazed at how two small countries (Australia is a big country but small in population of 22 million) can produce world champions.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ministry within Ministry

During the All Night Prayer meeting, we had 6 sessions of one hour long prayer with 3 breaks in between. Together with dinner and breakfast we had had 5 breaks during which time I rested not but fielded questions from eager secondary students.

First Sunday Away

I worshipped in my homechurch in KK today. It is my first Sunday away from my Ranau church. I felt a bit distance from everything. I needed time and space for rest and reflection after the intensity of ministry since the June earthquake. I needed breathing space to regather my thoughts for battles ahead.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Accumulation of Stuff

History sometimes repeats itself. I have accumulated various things in my six years in Singapore. When I had to leave, half my things I had to give away or throw away. Now in my 9th month in Ranau, I fear I am beginning to accumulate stuff again. After six months I bought a microwave. I have a bigger one in KK. I have several kettles in KK but I bought another small kettle the other day for the purpose. Sometimes when my wife goes back to KK, I only need to boil water for one person. Now I have two sets of almost everything. Ironically I am not sure how long I will be staying in Ranau. I can't say the thought of moving back to KK or Singapore has not crossed my mind. What about my things in Ranau?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Blogging as Spiritual Journaling

I guess due to time constraints my blog has evolved into a kind of spiritual journaling.  I don't have much time to write on biblical or theological matters except that I hope my blog posts will always be biblical and theologically grounded and I hope it is helpful to those in leadership and ministry. With two weeks' time in organizing the All Night Prayer Meeting and almost 400 people turning up at 10pm, I reckon it was a qualified success. This morning I read of King Hezekiah's reforms in 2 Chr 29-31. He sent letters of invitation to the north, Ephraim and Manasseh to come to Jerusalem for Passover and his messengers were mocked and ridiculed. Although I did not face a similar fate, I realized getting the 26 churches to work together is a herculean task.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

All Night Prayer on Malaysia Day

It's now 36 hours since we concluded our All Night Prayer Meeting. Those who heeded my call to prayer came. About 100 secondary students from my church came. The hosting church took 9 trips to fetch the students from their hostels. Without them, I would think the prayer meet would be less exciting. It is exciting to see young people focused on prayer. They stayed up whole night until the end. Their voices rose to the heavens and the Lord heard our cries from unfeigned lips. There were a few notable firsts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Praying All Night

First time in my life I stayed up all night till morning came. I was struggling with sleepiness by 4.30am and the last 2 hours of an endurance test trying not to doze off and kept praying. I am glad at the end of the all night prayer meeting more than 200 had stayed up and reached the finish line. We stopped praying at 6.40am followed by breakfast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Malaysia Day's All Night Prayer

If you live in the vicinity of Ranau, I would like to extend an invitation for you to attend the all night prayer meeting on the eve of Malaysia Day, beginning at sunset today to sunrise tomorrow. It is also the close of the 2-day Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana (Lev 23:23-25) where trumpets are blown throughout the land. It is poignant that we should blow the trumpet of prayer so that our nation, Malaysia rise up from its present gloom and doom. Ranau residents in particular have much to pray for in the light of the June earthquake and ongoing tremors (about 5 tremors above RS3 in the past fortnight alone) and one strong tremor struck Ranau as recent as three days ago. It's also Malaysia Day, our National Day proper since before 16th September 1963, Malaysia did not yet exist.

Monday, September 14, 2015

From Sunday to Sunday

I was yawning all the way feeling not a little anxious when all the preliminaries be done with and I would get up the pulpit to preach. It was about 9.30pm when the call came and I duly preached a 30 min sermon. It was my 7th sermon in 8 days and praise be to God for it could only be the power of the Holy Spirit that I could still preach after a day which started at 5.30am with no rest the whole day. By the time I reached the church at 7.15 am there were already 50 students gathered at the stairs and by 7.45am the church was filled up. For a second week running all seats were taken and there was no room to move except the small stage which we put 5 chairs last Sunday.  There must be at least 250 people crowded into a 1,000 Sq ft. Space.  I thought there would be less people in the 2nd service as I took out two rows of chairs in front so that I did not have to sit right at the edge of the stage and strained my neck to look up the screen in front. But lo and behold by 10.20 am,  most seats were taken up and we had to put a row of chairs in front and I moved up accordingly. I preached a fairly lengthy message of 45 mins on the theme 100 days after the earthquake and it so happened that last evening was the start of the Jewish new year Rosh Hashana, the first day of Tishri, the 7th month.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Singapore's General Election: PAP's Masterclass

I woke up at 2am to check on news of the polling results of Singapore's GE. Ten minutes later, a strong tremor hit Ranau and my house shook twice for a few seconds. Political happenings are earth-shattering events. And Singapore's ruling party, PAP experienced a revival from 2011's slumber and crushed the opposition with a 9.8% swing. It was PAP's masterclass in electioneering and winning votes. My earlier predictions in "Electoral Masterstroke" all came true. PAP increased its popular votes (though I was way off the margin as I thought it would increase only by 3%), WP retained most of its seats (6 out 7) and other opposition parties were obliterated. Though in the last couple of days before polling I thought there could be just a chance for WP to wrest a couple more seats and just that slim chance that SDP could cause a major upset in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. Dr Chee is an accomplished public speaker, the best of all really but it will take time for Singaporeans to forget his past failures and failings (real or otherwise) knowing that Singaporeans are ever so cautious and slow to accept anything or anyone except that the person is spanky clean and useful to them. Why did PAP score such a resounding victory?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Polling Day in Singapore

I can't wait until 10pm when preliminary results will be telecast live. I hope Astro Awani (501) brings the Singapore's GE results live. I have the most basic TV package (Njoi) without Channel News Asia (my favourite channel in Singapore) and other live feeds. I thought since I am out most nights anyway and come back exhausted there is not much time for TV. But tonight will be a different story. I remember well in the 2011's GE, the returning officer was the star of the night with his straight-faced and dead-panned manner as he announced the results one by one as they came in. I wonder why in such a modern IT society like Singapore, all results are still not known by 2am or 3am the next morning.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Village Churches in Ranau (2)

I didn't realize that last night I had preached my 4th sermon in 4 days. It was the last thing that I wanted to do after a 4-hour trip to 5 villages followed by a joint meeting for the whole night prayer meeting from 5pm to 7pm. I rushed home to take a shower and by 7.45pm I was back in church to start the Wednesday evening service. I am glad that the song leader was anointed last night and it made the difference. I sensed an empowering of the Lord as I worshipped and the word of the Lord that came to me was "The joy of the Lord is our strength" (Nehemiah). I was refreshed in the presence of the Lord. I spoke powerfully for 30 minutes on Unity in Prayer and Leadership based on Acts 1. Our church is in the process of renting a larger space to cater for growth in numbers, but there are times that I felt I was all alone in leading and getting things done, hence the call for leaders to buck up and unite in prayers. My trip to these 5 villages yesterday was a welcome break from the grind of sermon preparation though even while driving it was never far from my mind about what I was going to preach.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Village Churches in Ranau

I went on a loop with my fellow pastor to carry letters of invitations to the Whole night prayer meeting next week on Malaysia Day.  I felt a bit like in ancient times when letters of apostles are carried by hand by letter couriers, trusted friends of the apostle-letter writers. If we had sent by post it will be a bit too late as most village churches either have a mailbox in Ranau's post office and often leaders from these villages pick up their letters once a fortnight. So this morning I had a wonder drive on a 4x4, which makes the trip a lot more comfortable than in a sedan or worse in a motorcycle. My fellow pastor who accompanied related to me how he met with 3 accidents on a motorcycle or scooter in the course of ministry. On these village dirt and rocky roads, the most common form of transport for not so well to do pastors is the scooter.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I am 4 Minimum Wage

Taking a break from the intensity of ministry for me is reading and following politics, especially those that interest me like Singapore's GE this Friday. One issue that has been raised by several opposition parties is a minimum wage for workers and Workers' Party went as far to suggest that it should be S$1,000.00 per month. I read counter-arguments written by several experts, economists and politicians but I am not convinced that imposition of a minimum wage will put a dampener on a country's economy. I cite this post from Singaporedaily (see here) and I will try to answer his/her arguments against minimum wage.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Red Chairs & Records

My fellow elder whispered to me that before the church started the 2nd service 2 years ago, the numbers that attended Sunday service once exceeded 300 adults.  Today we broke records and the red chairs which had never been used since I came had to be cleaned to provide seats for those standing at the stairs waiting outside to come in. Twice I was interrupted in my sermon to allow movement of late comers to find seats around me. So my prayer for a larger space took on added urgency and lo and behold as soon as I reached home my phone rang and the church Treasurer told me that the landlord next door was prapared to let us view his shop unit.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Preaching Cycle

I can't imagine at the start of my pastorate that I would be preaching as much as I am doing now. Ironically, I have sole charge of the pulpit ministry in church. It has been my principle not to preach more than twice a week but more often than not, this plan does not seem to work. So I am adapting to my preaching cycle of rest and preach. Yesterday I got up at 5am after an overnight trip in KK to head back to Ranau by 8.30am. I had a full day of work including planning for a whole night prayer on Malaysia Day, 15th to 16th September.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Managing the House of the Lord

What is the house of the Lord? Obviously in the New Testament it is the people, the believers that make up the church, the body of Christ. But people live in space and time (one of my Masters students did a thesis on this). Early church met in homes of believers. By 4th century basilicas and cathedrals were built. Today most believers meet in buildings designated for worship. Usually when Christians call church, it is the building where we worship the Lord. The church building is normally managed by church leaders. At the church office the head is usually the pastor or senior pastor if he has a few pastors working with him. So the pastor is the manager of the house of the Lord. Most churches have church offices, often in the same building or adjacent to the worship hall. Sometimes, it is some distance away from the church, where the pastor and his staff work in the office when there are no services in church.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Merdeka Meeting

It was a bleak National Day. It is difficult to feel joyful with so many unresolved political issues and the economy is facing a downturn with the free fall of the Ringgit. National leaders cannot expect blind loyalty from its citizens unless they gain respect by serving the public good. They need to be credible in the eyes of its rakyat and they can't presume on support if they fail to live up to their pledges of integrity and goodwill. I had a Merdeka meeting with University students from my church with two sixth formers turning up as well. I need to encourage this young generation per chance they could also influence the church for good and through the church society at large.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Quiet Sunday

It was a relatively quiet Sunday. I felt a little relaxed since I was not preaching today but it is our tradition that before the Lord's communion is served there is a 5 to 10 minute exhortation before worshippers partake of the bread and wine. So I shared a short sermon on John 15 about the need to be humble and allowing God to prune us to that we can bear much fruit. In the Malay Bibles, the word, "bersih" came up a couple of times in the passage and in the 2nd service I made a passing reference to the ongoing Bersih street demonstration. But I took it as a foil to tell my church that we are all dirty in God's sight but now we are clean when we believe in him and his word. "You are clean because of the word I had spoken to you, says Jesus."  At the end of the service I led prayers for the nation in this critical juncture of its history now that we are celebrating National Day tomorrow on the 31st August. In the first service I told the congregation that if I were invited to join a street protest I would not go since I still have my doubts on the wisdom and justification for street protest demonstration from a spiritual perspective.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Family Reunion of Magnitude

In a week that I am not preaching on Sunday, I have preached three times, on Wednesday, Friday and today at a family service. Today's family gathering was a grand affair. I was invited three months ago and somewhat I honoured that invitation despite receiving an invitation to preach over 3 services in Kota Belud, a District level event. I am glad I chose this ministry as I learned much from the Dusun culture. This family had 10 siblings and 7 are still alive and out of these 10 siblings the family now has about 300 members, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Electoral Masterstroke

Politics in Singapore is no less interesting than what we witness in Malaysia though in vastly different contexts and environment. PM Lee's call for Sept 11's Polling Day is a political masterstroke. Just barely 2 weeks after SG50 celebrations and 2 days after the National Day Rally, the timing of the General Election could not be more precise. This will be considered a snap Election as the previous parliamentary term (now dissolved) has another 16 months to run. I attended two political rallies in 2011. Exciting stuff, no less. At least all political parties are given freedom to campaign in venues around Singapore plus air time on television in contrast to Malaysian elections where television broadcast is almost totally controlled by the ruling party of the day. Nevertheless, Singapore's opposition could justifiably feel hard done by the short campaign period. It is difficult for most Opposition parties except perhaps the Workers' Party to get the candidates ready let alone the requisite time to campaign in this 10-day electioneering period. But this is politics where incumbency has a decided edge.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Would you return Home? The State of Malaysia

I think when things are going well it is easy to feel patriotic and beam with national pride. Just imagine that if Singapore faces political and economic turmoil like what Malaysia is currently undergoing, would you return to Singapore and help your nation rise above the lawlessness, hopelessness and chaos? It is exactly how I felt when I returned to Malaysia October last year. I had no ministry position at that time and my future was still very much uncertain despite waiting for 6 or 7 months. I had burnt all my bridges with Singapore saved my 300 books loaned to a Singaporean Seminary and a bank account to pay for my taxes for Assessment 2015. It was a monumental journey, just past 50th year, my Golden Jubilee. In fact I went back and forth Singapore and Sabah three times in June, July and Sept 2014 before making the final journey "home" in October. The Jacob story spoke to me most. It was like Jacob uprooting himself and family to return to his homeland after a time sojourning in a foreign land. Like Jacob, his relative mistreated him and his wages changed 10 times despite God being with Jacob and even his employer-uncle, Laban acknowledged that. When I reflect on the Malaysian state of affairs, I came across several passages in the Bible which I felt relevant for Malaysian Christians.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sing Dollar vs. Ringgit Malaysia

By the time I clicked for a new posting Ringgit Malaysia had fallen from 2.99 to 3.01 to the Sing dollar. It was only 2.69 to 1SGD 3 months ago. I have reached my limits. It has gone beyond my comfort levels. I was half joking to my friends one month ago that should the US dollar reach 4MYR to the 1USD or 1 Sing dollar to 2.9MYR I will seriously consider returning to Singapore.  I did not plan to watch PM Lee's NDR speech last night but when I checked today online,  PM Lee was about 15 mins into his speech and I listened to the end. It was one of his better speeches in recent years. Less policy details and minutaes but more statesman-like, visionary, broad strokes and historical high points that connected with the audience, at least I was inspired. I had watched all NDR speeches live since 2008. Certain details caught my attention. By 2017, retirement age will rise to 67.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

First Baptisms in Ranau

Today I baptized 6 believers by immersion. As the trend goes, there were 5 girls and 1 boy. Our tradition sanctions baptism for 12 year old and above but today I made an exception for two 11 years old to be baptized with the rest. One teenage girl had an eye infection and it was interesting as to how to proceed. It would not be good to get her eye wet if she would go under. I asked her whether she was still keen to be baptized today and when she said yes, I told her that I would submerge her to her shoulders and neck and then pour water on her hair in the name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.