Thursday, February 26, 2015

Psychology of Leadership

I had to take the afternoon off as I was just too tired to go down to my office after 4 hours of teaching and conversation in the College. It was unusually early start for me, before 4am and the chill in the air woke me up and I had plenty of time going through my notes before driving to College. I found my first year students extremely enthusiastic and it was easy to teach though it was tough going through Numbers and Deuteronomy in 3 hours. As it is an introductory course I told them I was merely doing a survey but we managed to spend an hour or so on the psychology of leadership based on 3 or 4 incidents in Numbers where Moses' leadership was severely tested and challenged.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Coffee & Inspiration

As there is no Mcdonald's in Ranau, the only outlet for me is KFC. Though its coffee is double the price compared to outside, the place has air-con, a welcome relief from midday heat. In Ranau you can go to sleep steamy hot about 27 degrees celcius and catch a chill at 3am with temperatures below 20 degrees. I have meditated on many Scriptures at KFC over cofffee and I am reading the Prophets of Israel (Good News Bible) features by Lion in full colours. Some of the diagrams are apt in depicting the social-cultural context of the day. Without a fixed line and TV, I am relying on my old College's notes and pictures I used for lectures over the years. I just read that you can purchase the atlas of Greek and Roman world for about RM65.00 and download it to your iPad, instead of the hard print version of almost RM1,400.00! Perhaps a good excuse to buy an iPad Air 2. Yes, there is good free wifi at KFC where some of my blogposts were written. I met a good friend, a senior leader whom I knew some 20 years. He was surprised I was posted to a small town.

Monday, February 23, 2015

An Eschatological Temple in Jerusalem

I preached non-stop for 8 consecutive weeks. Sunday is the new day of the week, the 8th day. Yesterday was my 8th Sunday. It proved to be a new beginning of sorts. First, altar call and I had my first vision of the year. The worship song at the beginning of the service touched the core of my heart. I was reflecting on a good LunarNY with my parents and my brothers and their families. All were present except my son who is still in New Zealand. I was praying for their salvation, these long 33 years since I was converted but none of my siblings have come to know the Lord. The Lord suddenly showed me the eschatological temple built on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Immediacy of History

I can't think of a better platform to record history than blogging. History is made and is immediately written and published. Though one may argue it is best written after a period of reflection, yet often times there is nothing better than the red hot crucible of experience where history worth noting is made. Today I experienced a measure of what I thought that I could accomplish as a pastor in Sabah rather a theologian in Singapore. Though I preached regularly in many churches in Singapore my experience of God's direct empowering of his people through the laying of hands was evidently missing in the churches I ministered in. But today after a number of attempts I saw the Lord worked mightily to bless his people by pouring out a measure of His Spirit. Continuing my series on Matthew's Gospel I preached about the Spirit of God coming upon Jesus and Jesus, the Baptizer of the Spirit.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

In the House of the Lord

I am witnessing the worship rehearsal at church. As space does not permit, we only tried tambourine dance once, but we hope tomorrow we will clear the first two rows of chairs and allow the girls to dance. I call them Shulamite girls, after the girls in the Song of Solomon. Lord, I rather be in your house...jadikan aku indah yang kau pandang mulia... Make me beautiful, one you look upon as glorious.

Friday, February 20, 2015

No Place I'd Rather Be

When I crossed from KK to Ranau District at Bundu Tuhan, 21kms from Ranau township I had a sense of peace and joy that there would be no other place I'd rather be but in Ranau. I cried to the Lord on top of my voice, reaching 5,000 ft above sea level just as I was passing by Mount Kinabalu entrance and sped along to Ranau. I got there just after 11am and when I reached home, 7 or 8 people were working on the church site and one greeted me and wished me happy Lunar New Year. I chatted with the foreman and asked whether they had a holiday yesterday. He said no but they would rest on Sunday as the church (I objected to them working 7 days a week) had instructed. This is one of the few Chinese New Year seasons that I had a complete break, more for rest and restoration of the soul, Lord you lead me beside still waters, you restore my soul, yea, you restoreth my soul.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

50 Days of Intentional Community

In the first day of Lunar New Year I have come to have completed my 50 days in ministry, halfway from my first 100 days in office. I have not done much in terms of vision setting because it is a new church in a new place and a new cultural environment than what I am used to. So these 50 days have been days and weeks of learning and I hope to make my first vision statement on 1st March when I lead the first elders meeting since I took over from the previous chairman. It has been a steep learning curve when everyone around me speaks Dusun and when they realized their pastor could not get involve in the conversation they switched to Malay. But I told them to use their native language as much as they want and if it is important the Spirit would interpret that for me, I half-jokingly told them. If there is one thing I have discovered in my 50 days it is the notion of intentional community, something I could not find in Singapore in 6 years.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Leadership as Shepherding

Everytime I thought of giving up, I would come across a verse or chapter in the Bible that gives me new hope. Yesterday I read about David in Psalm 78 and how he shepherded God's people with a skillful hands and integrity of heart. This morning I read Ezek 34 and again David is mentioned as a future shepherd and prince of Israel whom God will use to feed his flock. These passages encourage me to keep up with what I am doing and not to think of doing less in view of near physical exhaustion because God is able to grant more grace and strength so that I can say that I will rise and feed the Lord's people in His majesty and with his strength.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday that Was

It has been an interesting Sunday. I did not get up terribly early as I was preaching only at the 2nd service. I went to church slightly later than usual thinking that the students had returned to their villages for CNY holidays. But lo and behold they were waiting at the gates in numbers and my slight cold got better at the sight of eager believers. The Lord was good. He knew I was struggling with my health and first service would be too much to handle. I needed time to warm up literally as early morning in Ranau is fairly cool though this morning the chill was gone from the air and normal summer weather is back in store. By 8am the church was full as I could feel the breath of those who sat behind me. Another 200 in a small shop unit meant for 120 adults. The Chairman gave a solid sermon and thank God there are at least 4 or 5 capable preachers in church. He spoke about making wise decisions in accordance with justice based on 1 Kings 3. There are some quotable quotes. Not making a decision is already a decision not to make a decision. It sounds better in Malay. I am fully back in my Malay ministry, how else would I think myself a modern missionary, serving in a culture foreign from mine, a rural setting far removed from urban Singapore. May the Lord's name be glorified.

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's Friday

Gosh it's Friday. This week has been like bullet train travelling at speed, from one Sunday to the next. After leading prayers on Tuesday, I preached for 35 mins on Numbers 12 on Wednesday and last night attended men's fellowship after teaching 3 hours in the morning. Tonight I will be speaking at a home group on "potensi ilahi" (divine potential). On Tuesday, I confessed that I was hovering between health and sickness, the cold of Ranau is still a menace though initially I welcomed it as a reprieve from hot KK. Yesterday was a glorious day, sunshine from dawn to dusk but overnight temperatures fell to 18 degrees. I wonder how I can ever survive New Zealand winters, even spring like weather in Ranau is a bane to me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Praying for Malaysia

I was informed half a day before last night's prayer meeting that the person charged to lead prayers could not make it due to an emergency. I thought of assigning it to another elder/deacon but with the hot news of the Malaysian opposition leader's conviction and sentence for 5 years' imprisonment, I wanted to address the church and lead prayers for the nation. I spoke from Matt 23,23 about the three important things of the Law, justice, mercy and faithfulness/faith. The word, justice comes from the Greek, "krisis", judgment could be another translation. In Hebrew, it is "mishpat", true or right judgment based on God's law where judges are told to give justice or judgment without fear or favour and regards to the status of the person but in truth and in the fear of God. That was what we prayed for Malaysia's political leaders and those in authority including judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court. If Anwar Ibrahim did commit the act of which he was charged, then he ought to be punished for breaking the laws of the country in committing sodomy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Catching their Breath

One of the reasons for sabbath is to allow both labourers and beasts to rest and literally according to the Hebrew text, "to catch their breath". I was breathless over the weekend partly due to speaking 3 times on Sunday and Monday was Sabbath to me and I rested until afternoon before going down to my office and "worked". At 5pm I went to check out a basketball court which I thought was located at a school but at the end I realized it was located at the Hakka association compound. I met up with a couple of Chinese men, locals in Ranau and they thought I pastored a Chinese congregation when I told them I was a pastor here.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

And Immediately

The phrase, Kai euthus (and immediately) appears some 40 times in Mark's Gospel. Today I experienced in a small measure what Jesus experienced in his hectic 3-year ministry. From 4.30am until now I have not stopped ministry. I told my Singaporean friends a couple of days ago that I was doubly busy compared to what I experienced in Singapore. Several years ago in class, I remarked that I was not sure if there were many pastors in Singapore that could cope with the pace of ministry in Sabah. If you are not ready to avail yourself at least 3 nights a week for ministry, don't bother applying for a pastoral ministry here. This morning I spent almost 2 hours going through my 2 sermons. I preached two different sermons in two morning services. I thank God I spoke to many young people and reminded them to love and honour their parents, especially elderly parents based on the life of Joseph in Gen 46. Later I was told that one member wept throughout the sermon as he was convicted by the Spirit. He was alienated from his father and realized that he had to make amends. In the 2nd service I continued my series on Matthew's Gospel from 2,19 to 3,10. I spoke about how I did not ask my son to get baptized when he was 12 years old until he was ready himself. A number of church members told me how they were baptized when they were 12 but at that age they did not know the Lord personally but merely followed their parents' suggestion. The first meeting was again full and the 2nd service was easily past 120 adults as well. Amazingly, more than 150 members indicated that they were interested in attending an English service if we would start one. Now I am praying for an associate or assistant pastor who can speak English well. Perhaps I should recruit my former students in Singapore. Is anyone interested in becoming a missionary pastor and join me in Ranau? The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


From time to time we need to get washover. Dirt and grime stick fast and if it is not cleaned out they may bring damage to the body of the car. Hence, after several weeks traveling in the muddy roads of Ranau and its vicinity, I gave my car a washover. It is not an easy job. The water spray had to be so powerful in order that all the unwanted sticky parts got removed. Then the car was soaped all over to rid of the grease and oil. Then another round of water sprayed all over to give it a thorough clean up. After that the drying process begins with the car wiped from one end to another. The inside is then vacuumed and dusted. The alloy rims are polished to look as if new. The tyres too are blackened and the whole process took 60 minutes with two young men working on the car for a fee of RM15.00. It is still pretty affordable, at least car cleaning services have not shot up in price like so many other things.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Meeting Friends from Singapore

I found myself in Kota Kinabalu for a day trip. Instead of 2 hours' flight from Singapore to KK, it is a mere 2 hours' drive from Ranau to KK. I did not plan to go down to KK but I wanted to make sure my Singaporean friends could enjoy a few hours with me in KK before I head back to Ranau tomorrow. After stopping at the Kinabalu Park, the entrance to Mount Kinabalu we went to tour the botanical garden.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Honeymoon Period is Over

For a few minutes last night we enjoyed clear sky with the full moon shining brightly through the clouds. I am well into my 2nd month and the honey moon period is over after 5 weeks of ministry. It is now back to the nitty gritty of pastoral work. I plan to follow up some 20 young teenagers (12 to 13 years old) who were baptized last year. A family has requested pastoral visit within the month. Somewhat I am looking forward to the Chinese New Year long week-end for rest and time to plan for March and April ministry.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

6 Years of NT & 6 Months of OT

I had the privilege of teaching NT studies for 6 years in my previous place of employment but hardly had I settled into my pastoral ministry in Ranau I was asked to teach Intro to the OT to first year B.Theol students. I am relishing the challenge to prepare notes in powerpoint for the weekly 3-hour lectures. I have the opportunity to read through the OT within 6 months.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Reading Genesis Dispassionately?

Can one ever read Scripture dispassionately as some scholars would want us to do? I can't imagine reading Genesis dispassionately. I have returned to the first book of the Bible often in recent years. The stories of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, the 3 main characters of Genesis never failed to amaze me. God spoke to me often through these narratives of our forbears. When I first went to Auckland for theological education, it was Abraham's life and obedience that spurred me to step out in faith. I did not even know where I was headed when I landed in Auckland, being in two minds either to go south to Dunedin or remain in Auckland. My move back to Sabah late last year was inspired by the Jacob's return to Canaan after a period of work with Laban that did not end very well but Jacob was self-sufficient enough at that time to return home with his belongings.

Dating & Marking Scripture

I have a habit of dating and marking my Bible whenever I felt the Lord spoke to me. This morning I read Psalm 119,147 "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words." Below the verse is dated 13,3, 1988, almost 27 years ago. Today I mark it 2,2 2015 and I trust if I live long enough I will return to it in 27 years' time. Amazingly by the grace of God, this morning I could rise before dawn. I felt asleep at 12
30am last night after an 19-hour long day. I preached two services and opened the gates of the church at 7am. We have others to do that but I count it privilege to be the doorkeeper of the Lord's house if I get there earlier. After church my wife and I grabbed a bite and I rushed off to Taginambur (my first place of ministry in 1994) to attend a funeral.