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.