Monday, December 26, 2016

Final Leg (Part 2)

It was intense. I am on my final leg of journeying back to KK with a stopover in Ranau for lunch. I preached my worst sermon last night, my 22nd sermon and last sermon for this Christmas season. I had nothing left in the tank. It was hard going but I managed to plow through Eph 5,1-14 in 50 minutes. The first two sermons lasted an hour each on Matthew 2 and 4 respectively. Yesterday after the Christmas morning  service I baptised 7 young men in river Kamaruok in Entilibon. I felt I should do it instead of finding excuses since the great commission includes baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I went into the river bare foot and it has been a few years since I baptised people in a river. Last year at my Ranau church I baptised about 15 youths on 2 occasions in a church baptismal pool. But after 2 months of travelling I am very much looking forward to a long rest without preaching.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Have Shirts will Travel

Thankfully almost all the villages that I have been to had electricity and power supply. Only once 2 weeks ago in Kemabong a main cable was being repaired and from 10am to about 6pm we had no electricity.  But with no ironing services I normally pack as many shirts as I need for the duration of my travels. This time I have to bring six shirts because I will be speaking on 4 occasions over 3 days beginning tonight. And I have been asked to conduct baptism,  most likely in Kinabatangan river, the longest river in Sabah, so an extra shirt is called for. On my way back from Entilibon, I shall be stopping over for a wedding of a colleague near Ranau and hence another shirt is warranted. With experience, I always bring an extra shirt just in case of emergency or for whatever eventuality. Since it is Christmas and this time it falls on Sunday it behoves us to wear our Sunday best but this year I have not bought any new shirt for Christmas though I had purchased a couple several months ago in light of my impending travels and itinerant preaching.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Final Leg

I give thanks to You Lord for You have enabled me to preach Your Word and the tribes of Your inheritance have returned unto You in faith and truth.  After three consecutive days on the road I am glad for a breather before commencing the final leg of this Christmas itinerant preaching season that has brought me into the far corners of Sabah. Last Friday I went into village which I thought was a short distance from the main road but it took me nearly 30 minutes detour and when I reached the place I found myself almost at the foot of Mount Kinabalu only that it was from the Kota Belud side and not Ranau/Kundasang. The village is small but the church building is big that can seat 300 or 400 people. At most I think the weekly attendance is 100 people and I wonder why some places build large buildings, but two third empty on most Sundays. As it was midnight as we ended our service,  the District Superintendent went with me in the car and guided me to another village closer to Kota Belud where I spent the night. Otherwise I would not be able to navigate the village roads on my own in pitch darkness. I returned to KK at day break but returned with my wife to the same township in the evening and preached in another but bigger village church.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Your Friends are very much prized, O God (Psalm 138,17 LXX; MT139,17)

But for me, your friends are very much prized, O God. I was just meditating on the nature of friendship when I came across this verse in the Septuagint this evening. Yesterday morning I had a surprise send off after spending two nights and preaching 3 times in a faraway village. It was most encouraging to hear a number of youth leaders (again all young women, why no men?) who encouraged me from the pulpit by saying how they were blessed by the three messages. Little did I knew they intended to take me for breakfast 35 kms away in Tenom township,  the closest town to the village. We went to the open market stalls there and we had the tastiest of Yong tao Hu with rice. I had not had rice for breakfast for a long time so it was a nice change sitting with four youth leaders all female and the only male in company was the church pastor accompanied by his wife.

All My Delight (Psalm 16:3)

As for the saints who are on the earth, they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight (Ps 16:3). This morning I chanced upon this verse and straightway I felt the Lord speaking to me and assuring me that all my travels are not in vain. I draw energy from the saints and wherever I go I take delight in the Lord's people and it has been a great joy serving with them and preaching God's Word in their midst. I will declare Your Name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You (Ps 22:22). Often I feel tired from the journeying and last Saturday evening was no different. Having begun the journey from Kota Kinabalu at 12:30pm, we reached our destination at sun down after more than 5 hours on the road with a couple of brief stops on the way. Because we arrived late and straightaway served tea at 6.30pm, dinner was late at 7:30pm. The service started at 8:20pm and first up was the Children's Christmas. I told them when I got to preach at 9:30pm that I was no Sunday School teacher and no story teller for children and I preached a message intended for parents where more than 100 hundred adults attended with 120 children and close to 100 youths. I was invited especially to speak at the Children's and Youths' Christmas services and I could see that without the kids and young people the church would not be half full.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas, Revivals & Poems

In this part of the world, Christmas comes really early. Within seconds I received notifications of two District level Christmas gatherings in Ranau and Keningau. These are combined churches events often endorsed by Government District offices. Politicians from different religions will attend and probably in Sabah and Sarawak you will see such Christian events celebrated by the community from all walks of life irrespective of race or religion. I am not very much for Christmas events with a lot of speeches and caroling, though this year I took up many invitations to speak all over Sabah. As for me it is an opportunity to preach God's Word that is paramount. Last Sunday in Sipitang my heart was very much encouraged. The hosting church was right beside the main road and as there was not much space for parking inside the church compound one could see cars and trucks lining up both sides of the road for 1km long.

Monday, December 5, 2016

New Zealand PM Resigns

I texted my son, "John Key has resigned. Absolute shock". It was about 10am Malaysian time when I saw the news. It hits me like a ton of bricks. I never expected one of the most popular NZ prime ministers to resign so abruptly. There is every likelihood that the National party Key leads will win the next General Election next year. But as I reflected on Key's speech this afternoon barring surprises I began to understand why some good politicians choose to resign while they are on top. John Key has been PM for 8 years and for NZ standard that is a long time and only a few PMs had served a full three terms and more. I understand the burden of office and how it could be crushing at times. I had experienced it myself. I chose not to stand again after a short one term of 3 years as Treasurer. I thought I had enough and could quote Key that "I had nothing left in the tank." After travelling for just one month (5th Nov to 4th Dec) I am ready to throw in the towel and wonder why I had accepted 5 more invitations until Christmas. I wonder why some people hold to positions or office for way too long.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

On the Go

I am preparing for travel at noon. Tonight there will be another Christmas meeting in Sipitang, some 3 hours' drive from Kota Kinabalu. Only 2 weeks ago, I stopped at the town on the way to Mendolong another hour's drive away. It will be nearer this time but 150kms on Sabah's roads are taxing nonetheless. The thought that it is for the gospel's sake where in almost every message there is the gospel preached in a nutshell. I can't assume third and fourth generation all know the Lord in a personal manner and many still need to experience the new birth. I asked the youths in Nahaba 3 days ago whether they have experienced life outside of Christ and none raised their hands. Almost 100% are brought up in Christian/SIB families with Sunday school then youth activities until they become adults and start their own families. It was great to meet with several of these youths leaders now in their mid-30s. One told me he met me at SIB Terintidon and another in SIB Tempasuk when they were in secondary schools.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Full-time in the Lord's Service

Today I celebrate my 22nd anniversary as a full time worker in the Lord's service. I started when I was at a ripe age of 30 at Kg.  Melangkap teaching in a Bible College. Yesterday I went back to the same district, a bit further away in Nahaba and the Lord worked marvellously in last night's revival meeting. I spoke from 1 John 5,14-15 about the assurance of answered prayers. I first gave a testimony how the Lord called the two top students of St Marys Secondary School Sandakan to be pastors. I challenged the SIB church to give the best and do not allow the culture and tradition that those who can't make it to University are those who go into Bible College. We must give our best and the Lord could use a Paul or Pauls of the 21st century to bring great change to the church. Moses the greatest of all prophets is said to be learned in all the wisdom of Egpyt and he never let his great learning distract him from his great mission. Surely his learning helps Moses shaped and formed the nation of Israel in the wilderness.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Reading Romans Reflectively

I have been reading Romans the whole day, morning, noon and evening. From chapter 3 to 8 and I will be finishing chapter 8 tonight. It's been a while; I have this practice that I must read through Romans at least twice a year; other books I can read through once but Romans is such an important book that one can do with repeated readings and reflective readings for that matter. Romans answers the deepest and most profound questions there are concerning the nature of self, sin and salvation.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Finding a Place for the Lord's Dwelling

When I think of all my travels and forthcoming journeys I can only ponder on David's Psalm 132 that David refuses to give sleep to his eyes until he finds a place for the Lord's rest. Behold David's afflictions. Behold my afflictions. Lord what I go through for Jesus' sake, for the sake of His church so that the Lord might find a dwelling among His people and rest in the midst of His children. So I brace myself for more travels starting again Wednesday to Nahaba to the north in Kota Belud District and then turning south to Sipitang next weekend. Only yesterday I accepted another invitation to speak at a Youths Christmas on 23rd Dec in Kota Belud. I comfort myself that through the Ranau bypass road I could proceed to the East towards Entilibon where I will preach 3 sermons over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day before heading back to KK on Boxing Day for a week's rest to prepare for the start of the new academic year on 3rd January.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Going to Gérar (Gen 26)

There was a famine in the land in the days of Isaac just as it was in the days of Abraham (Gen 26). Famine or severe economic crisis for poor people does not seem to abate where I dwell. The Ringgit has fallen to new lows, 3.1RM to 1SGD and nearing 4.5 to the USD. Food prices have gone up and a cup of coffee at hawker's stall once RM1.50 just last year is now 2.20 or 2.50. Inflation due to the fall of Ringgit and the rise of the cost of living hits the poor hard. I spoke about the 3rd Seal yesterday at FGB meeting in town about what would happen to us when 2 pounds of wheat will cost RM40.00 (labourer's daily wage) or a 5kg of rice will cost two days' wages. Those days will come as predicted by Scripture and countries that are well governed with strong institutions and the rule of law will survive better than those ruled by unstable personalities where corruption and evil reign supreme without anyone able to stop the rot from getting worse.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Endings of Paul's Letters

In my fourth and last sermon on Sunday, I preached from 1 Corinthians 16, the end of Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church. I told the members gathered from 14 churches of the District of Mendulong not to neglect the final words of Paul in his many letters as often times such endings provide us with spiritual gems of immeasurable value. I proceeded to preach from 1 Cor 16,9-16. I told the audience that often times when a great and effectual door is opened for us there will be much opposition. Do not think for a moment the devil is not out to try to destroy the work of God through God's servants. Especially so for us in the front line in the battle field the opponents and opposition would seem many and without ceasing keep attacking and trying to rob us of the joy of serving the Lord. After a  long weekend away from Friday noon to late Sunday evening, my energy was totally spent. I spent the whole day yesterday catching up on sleep as I barely slept in my 3 days away.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

10 Days Free of Travel

I don't remember that I did not have to travel for a span of 10 days as I have now experienced since College's academic year ended last Monday. I have been driving short distances within Kota Kinabalu, going into the city back and forth or the nearest suburb of Inanam for meals and tea breaks. But tomorrow I travel afresh and I am bracing myself for a 4-hour drive through several towns, Papar, Beaufort, Sipitang and then onwards to Mendolong.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The End of All Things is Near (1 Pet 4:7)

I was meditating on this verse (1 Peter 4:7) 👈 over a cup of coffee during lunch time yesterday while reflecting on the events of the past 24 hours, in particular the 7.5 Richter earthquake near Christchurch. Hamner Springs is the nearest town to the epicentre, a town close to my heart - this little tourist town of thermal springs where I worked during the holidays in my University days 30 years ago.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

3 Days & 3 Nights

Jesus was in the belly of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights like what Jonah went through in the belly of the fish. I have been back in Kota Kinabalu since noon Monday and spent three days and three nights first resting and then doing personal errands. I thank my God that when I returned home after 8 days away everything was in order. After 24 hours of rest, I spent yesterday paying for my road tax and car insurance. Wow it's been 2 years since I bought my 2nd hand pick up truck in anticipation of an interior mission work in Ranau and the surrounding villages. I don't regret for a second buying the car without which I would not have been able to traverse the mountain terrains and rivers or should I say streams and valleys below. I have logged tens of thousands kilometres in 24 months, visiting and preaching in every corner of Sabah from the East (Sandakan, Entilibon) to the West (Kota  Belud and Nahaba) from the north (Kudat) to the south (Kemabong & Long Mio). What a God. Lord I thank You for Your faithfulness and Your mercy for which I am not worthy (katonti).

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Week that Was

I could only marvel how so many events came together with some measure of success despite last minute preparations and frantic activity. Last Wednesday's Closing Semester service went for 4 hours from 7.40pm to 11:40pm. We had a full service, a song & dance galore and Christmas celebrations with exchange of gifts all in one. But we were mighty pleased and we returned home past midnight filled with joy. Then on Thursday preparations for the graduation dinner and convocation the next day took full steam. As I was in charge of the display section, I had to make sure everything was in order and we made several trips to the venue (Ranau Sports Complex) the night before. Graduation dinner was a pleasant experience with a wide selection of dishes all cooked by the College's kitchen staff (500 people on Friday night and more than 800 people on Saturday's convocation lunch reception). It was a herculean efforts by any measure with our limited resources and wooden kitchen hut housing several stoves and fire place. But non-graduating students helped out and worked their hearts out and I made rounds around the Campus late Thursday night.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sibu, Sarawak

In the past 4 months I have visited places and countries with names all starting with S. I went to Singapore, Seoul, South Korea and now I am in Sibu, Sarawak to represent my College at the Methodist Theological School's 18th convocation yesterday. It was held at the Masland Methodist church that seats 1,000 people and the church was almost packed. Incredibly the service lasted just 1 hour 40 minutes with the sermon preached in English and translated into Chinese taking only 30 minutes. I wonder how long my own graduation service will last this coming Saturday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Living on the Edge

It's never easy living on the edge. Literally and metaphorically I think that is what I have been doing since the beginning of the year. I never feel settled in one place. When I am at Namaus I miss my KK home and wish I could be with my family. When I am in KK sometimes I can't wait until I get back to Namaus because thats where my ministry is and my spiritual family lives. As part of the community unless one invests one's time and effort it is never going to work. Today after Chapel I met with my third year students, returned their papers and gave them back their grades. I met with almost 30 of them with a few being excused as they had duties elsewhere.  I had already announced that they would be given time to share or ask me anything as for most of them that would be the last opportunity before they graduate next Saturday.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Itinerant Preaching

I did not think that I was going to preach during the month of October except for my Chapel service last Sunday but this Sunday will be my third time mounting the pulpit in three different places. Basically the month of October is a month of rest before the hectic preaching schedule at the end of the year. November is the month where a number of churches hold pre-Christmas services pra Natal and the whole of December is taken up for Christmas services. Since this is my first year away as a church pastor and I am at liberty to accept invitations I thought I better make use of the opportunity kairos given lest next year 2017 Christmas I might choose to do something entirely different from preaching.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

5 Minutes on the Prophets

I have concluded my teaching Semester today by setting the final exams on the prophets. I got my students preach a 5 min sermon on each of the 17 prophetic books. Except for Malachi each book got two turns as we have 33 students for our 3rd year class. Most of my students will be graduating with a diploma and only a handful will be going on to do BTHEOL.  I thought it was important that they learned to preach from the prophets. I have done so consistently from the beginning of the year.
 I have preached from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, a few other prophetic books in recent times. 5 minutes are hardly enough but it is important to get them to do a short homily, be concise and straight to the point. I was impressed by the overall performance and a few caught the prophetic spirit especially on Habakkuk, Jonah and Zechariah and preached powerful messages.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Two Days After

I am still recovering from the exertions over the week-end. It was one of the longest weekends I ever had, secluded in my room on Friday and Saturday, doing practically nothing but preparing for my Sunday sermon. Normally every Friday and Saturday if I don't go down to KK, I would have gone to Ranau just for a breather, enjoy coffee or walk about the weekly Saturday tamu. But last Friday and Saturday I remained in Namaus as in a war zone preparing to do battle against the forces of darkness arrayed against the saints. I preached one of the most powerful messages yet for 85 minutes and then made an altar call where about 25 students responded which is one third of the College community present that day. When I saw the time had past 11am (8.30am start), I called on the Chaplain to help me pray for those who came forward.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Feast of Tabernacles 2016 in Namaus

I have great joy today. Since last night's rehearsal and today's Sukkot service I was overflowing with joy and rejoiced in the Lord greatly according to his commandment on the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16,14-15). I got my students build a tent or tabernacle and it was completed in 2 hours before and during the rehearsal. The full worship team turned up with 8 tambourine dancers with two singers and a full band. It was quite a sight this morning as the tambourine dancers without knowing it wore the Israeli colours of blue and white. I wore a blue tie in honour of our Jewish roots (Romans 9-11). I spoke about how in a way Gentiles are the Israel of God  (Gal 6,16), being wild olive branches grafted in one olive tree, Israel and Jesus Christ being the root, the Root of Jesse. I preached probably my longest sermon to date, all in all 1 hour and 23 minutes. I could have gone on for 2 hours but I thought otherwise as things needed to be gotten used to including long sermons. I could only preach so long because I felt the anointing strong which I did not feel in front of 5,000 youths last month.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Building the Sukkah for Sukkot

I am preaching tomorrow when sunsets comes we will enter the greatest of Israel's feasts, the feast of Tabernacles or more rightly known as the Feast of tents. We are building a Sukkah (tent) for Sukkot (tents). In Sabah we may not have all the right trees and leaves but we make do in the light of the Messiah. It is the symbolic reference which is more significant and profound for those believers in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Frequent Travels & the Church's Future

Yesterday I drove from my home at 4.30am heading back to Namaus where I teach. I stopped in Tamparuli, a small town just before we ascend to the hills towards Mount Kinabalu. I wanted to have breakfast and there was one shop opened at 5am but they told me business starts at 6am. So I ate some dried biscuits which I took with me oftentimes in my travels just in case I need to satisfy my hunger and receive strength for onward journey. I reached Ranau at 6.15am and could have proceeded to Namaus in time for breakfast with students at 6.30am. But I stopped in Ranau town and chanced upon a church member from my former Muhibbah church and we chatted over breakfast. We were able to encourage one another and he was one of the very few people that could hold a conversation in English. He told me about his church pastor some 20 years ago, lamenting his own (the pastor's) lack of English but the pastor had the foresight and humility to encourage more capable people to enter College.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Love is a Brand of Madness

I don't normally read the The Bible Speaks Today series but Tom Gledhill's commentary on the Song of Songs is one of the best I have read on the love poem thus far. Gledhill's comments on SS 3:1-5 are quite inspired: "The girl is our Song takes the initiative to resolve the impasse of uncertainty. To live too long on uncertainty is debilitating, and needs as far as is possible a stroke of initiative to resolve it. The girl's initiative here is irrational. But love is a brand of madness. Not that it just makes us do irrational things, but love is a madness of the soul. It so disorients our senses and minds, that all else is carried before in its flood. Its tide is unstoppable, its fire unquenchable (8:6-7). The onset of love, of 'being in love' is entering a whole new dimension of existence. The lovers feel as though they had never lived at all before they met each other" (p. 146).

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Festival of Praise with the Prophets

Yesterday I did what I had never done before in my 8 years of teaching ministry. I taught my final class on the Prophets in the Chapel because for the last class of the Semester I wanted the students to enjoy themselves with songs and praises. So I called it Pesta Pujian Para Nabi. We started with a song and I lectured for 1 hour on 7 or 8 prophets giving brief summaries and key verses from Hosea to Zephaniah.  I had to skip Malachi due to time constraints. Then in the 2nd session I lectured on Zechariah 4 and elucidated 7 principles of leadership. I have enough substance to write paper on Zechariah for the SBL next year in Berlin or Boston. We shall see. We sang several more songs. Some students volunteered and I sang my favourite song since the Youth Conference last month, Yesus padamu kuberseru (Jesus to You I call).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Keep Fighting

The struggle of faith never ceases to stop. The  fight goes on. There could be a lull but the storm soon follows. Like Jacob, whose new name, Israel means God contends or God fights, Christians need not fight by ourselves or on our own strength, if we do we will soon burn out, give up and fall into despair and never rise again. But in Christ our fight is noble. Fighting for godly values. I just shared with a person who told me how corrupt the system of contracts and award of contracts is, I told him I encountered many such temptations in my legal career but never once paid a bribe or took a bribe to pervert justice or gain some favour.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Final Quarter & Recent Happenings

It's time again. It is the season of the year. If I were a pastor or pastoring, I would be now planning for a leaders' retreat in November and reflecting on a year that has been and planning for the year ahead. As we enter the final quarter of the year it is good for me to take a couple of days off to reflect on the year that has been and plan ahead for 2017. It is been non-stop ministry for me for 7 weeks now since being back teaching at the Bible College. My itinerant ministry continues to flourish, not only preaching twice to thousands of youths three weeks ago but the following week I led a Retreat where I had to speak for 7 consecutive hour-long sessions with much prayers besides. During the Retreat on Saturday night, I made an altar call and many responded for prayers. There was strong weeping and tears flowed freely as God's presence was strong in our midst that night. I prayed for about 30 minutes and by the time when it all ended I had spoken for 4 sessions during the day and had another 6am start the next day for another 3 sessions. And I was especially touched to see a young girl who sat behind me at the second row. During the ice-breaker I picked up her name and when I spoke to her and said, "Are you Form 1?" and her reply was "No I am only 12 years old, Primary Six!" I asked her, "Do you understand most of what I shared?" and she nodded as if she did understand most of it. And she responded and was prayed for and the Lord touched young lives during the 3-day Retreat. I also saw a 13-year old praying for many older youths during the final day of the Youth Conference. Young men and young women shall prophesy and your sons and your daughters shall see visions.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rosh Hashana

I wish all my Christian and Jewish friends a good and sweet new year, shanah tovah u'metukah. This sunset welcomes the Jewish New Year mentioned in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 29. I spoke about it last Friday in Chapel and sang one of my Jerusalem songs in honour of the late Shimon Peres, the former Israeli President and Prime Minister who was given a state burial in Jerusalem last Friday.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Zechariah & Revelation

Tomorrow I will start to lecture on the prophet Zechariah after spending 3 hours on Haggai last week. Zechariah is one of favourite prophets if only for its influence on the book of Revelation. I discussed in detail chapter 4 of Zechariah in my monograph on the identity of the two witnesses of Rev 11. The two olive trees and the lampstand in Zechariah 4 is a major influence on John's depiction of the two witnesses. Having bought Lena-Sofia Tiemeyers book, Zechariah and his visions (T & T Clark, 2015) and heard her in person in Seoul during the SBL last July I have been reading it consistently and tried to read page by page and right now until the fifth vision of Zechariah of the lampstand and its two olive trees on its sides, one on its left and the other on its right. Last month I received a surprise email from an author who told me that he had read my book a dozen times, at least once every month. I am not sure whether to believe it or not since I have not read it for at least 2 or 3 years now. The last time I read my own book in some detail was in late 2013 when I taught Revelation for the last time in Trinity Theological College before returning to Sabah the following year. So I am re reading my book once more and photocopied 6 pages from 220 to 225 on Zechariah's influence on Rev 11. But I will have to translate it to Malay as I lecture since only one or two students out of 33 3rd year students could understand English well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trusting in the Lord

This morning I set out from KK at 6,15am and reached Namaus Bible College at 8.25am just as the students were leaving the Chapel for class. I managed to greet quite a few students at the door and that was enough tonic for me to recover from a tedious journey. I read a blog saying that we should trust God and He will often lead us to places that we do not want to go. Humanly, Namaus village is the last place I want to be.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ministry Widens

One distinct advantage of being a lecturer and not a pastor is that on Sundays or weekends I am free to accept invitations to preach in churches. After the Youth Conference last week I am now preparing to lead a praise and worship retreat where I will conduct a series of sermons or talks on the theology of worship over 7 sessions. It will be a long weekend no doubt but I am looking forward to connecting with the church that opened its door to me when I was writing up my doctoral thesis in 2001. It's been 15 years and most of the youths then are now established in their careers and with young families. Christmas again is the busiest season and all the 4 weekends from early December are taken up in travelling to various districts for preaching. From Sipitang, Kota Belud, Kemabong and then to Entilibon for Christmas day itself.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

37th Youth Conference Ends

I can't explain why I did not preach well in my two sessions during the 37th Youth Conference which ended yesterday. Perhaps I was seated next to the speakers and loudness of the music and bass just prevented me from worshipping the way I used to. If there is a next time, I will insist I sit or seated far from the speakers. But I am fairly satisfied with the two messages I delivered. Although I did not feel the surge of the anointing which I usually do in my preaching but I think I managed to get the message across. What I learned is that numbers mean little to the Lord.  I felt a great anointing preaching to 50 students on 30th August after a 5 hour midnight journey but I fell flat preaching in front of 5,000 people. But the SIB youths are a wonderful and loving generation that loves the Lord.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Spoken too Soon

Perhaps I have spoken too soon. Sometimes I run on adrenaline though my strength is far spent. The whole weekend I was almost homebound as I recuperated from the exertions of the past 72 hours in Namaus. The constant travelling at 5,000 ft above sea level, up and down, twisting and turning had gotten to me. I am glad that I turned down the opportunity to teach an extension class in Papar on Saturday. I need to be well rested for the Youth Conference starting tomorrow night. I may even take up the offer of hotel accommodation near the venue to save me 45 minutes one way travel from my house through heavy traffic. Kota Kinabalu is not the same like 10 years before. During my pastorate in KK 2003 to 2008, the traffic was still manageable, one just needed to avoid the peak hours. Last week at 3pm I took about an hour to travel less than 12kms. My sermon is almost ready in my heart though not on paper.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Renewed Vigour

I have returned to KK for the last leg of my preparations for the Youth Conference.  In the early hours of the morning I drove with vigour from Namaus reaching KK just before 7am. I had listened to the worship song of the Conference all the way sung by my students. I did not expect them to sing my song but they did and did not let me down. I am like a man born again. How refreshing to see my students respond to the truth and walk in love.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Stretching Faith

Abraham grew strong in faith and hope against hope he believed... (Romans 4). Faith is a quality of heart and mind in the Lord and His promises where one believes that whatever God has said and is saying is wholly trustworthy and as such the believing person acts upon the sheer promise of God without first obtaining or seeing the evidence or the outcome of God's benevolence. Faith can be stretched because we can grow weak or grow strong in faith. As such Scripture says, let's each one minister according to the measure of his faith. I have learned to stretch my faith a bit more in the past week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Warriors & Daughters of Jerusalem

I have been back at College for more than 3 weeks now, For a second time within a month I joined the SIB HQ staff prayer meeting this morning. I am in town for a few errands and to make sure my preparations for next week's Youth Conference get some quality time. Still much to do and it is like two half messages, none complete but in progress. I also stay back in Kota Kinabalu to take a breather from the activities of the College. It can be non-stop running around for teachers and students alike having different things going on at various times. Last Tuesday we have had this Merdeka celebrations and cultural night where men and women donned their traditional costumes.

"A Man's Heart is Sensitive; his soul is grieved..." (Prov 14,10 LXX)

Sometimes the LXX gives us a totally different take from the usual MT translation and Prov 14,10 is a good example. And the Lord used the Septuagint version to speak to me as I was feeling particularly sensitive over a number of things and my soul was becoming grieved as a result. The second half of the verse reads, "when he rejoices he does not mingle with pride". How true and how important when we worship the Lord and rejoice before Him it is purely out of our love for Him in all humility and acknowledgement for what He has done in our lives. No proudful person will stand before Him for He knows the proud from afar but those who hope in His mercy draw near to Him.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Quiet Place

It is so important to have a quiet place to wait on the Lord and pray to Him in calmness. As Jesus sought mountains and hills I will wait on the Lord in valleys and lowlands. As I sit myself and quieten my spirit speak Lord for Your servant hears.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

37th Youth Conference

Konferensi PMM SIB Sabah 37th edition is on in 10 days. I have the honour of being the speaker for the third and final night service where at least 5,000 youths and adults are expected to attend. On the same day I am also speaking at the evening session to the participants at 5pm which means two sessions back to back. Only today I felt a sense of relief that I might have what I want to say in the night service. But I am still working on the evening session where 3,000 registered youths (mostly 15 to 25 years old) will attend. The night session being the climax of the whole Conference will be attended by most of our senior leaders of our denomination. I had only spoken once at night at the Youth Conference before in 2003 but that time I took the pulpit on the opening night at Likas Sports Stadium.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Citizenship & Romans 13

After an 5 hours drive to the Entilibon and back to Namaus at 1am this morning where I preached a one hour sermon on Exodus 24 and 17 then on David as a worshipper from 2 Samuel 6 I preached again at Chapel this morning at 9am for about 50 mins on the Role of a Citizen based on Romans 13. First I explained what Roman citizenship meant in first century and in Paul's case in particular by looking at Acts 22 where Paul claimed citizenship to avoid summary punishment including possibly mob lynching. Then I explained what a Citizen in Malaysia entailed by looking at the Malaysian constitution and rights conferred on citizens. Then I went back to Romans 13 esp verse 5 and spoke about the need to heed our conscience despite our misgivings concerning our political leaders.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sabah, a Ravenous Wolf (Gen 49:27)

Today according to the NECF's prayer booklet leading to Malaysia Day on the 16th September, it is praying for Sabah day. This morning probably for the third time in a row I was asked by the student leading worship to say the intercessory prayers before the service started. I showed a flash of righteous anger as we were 3 or 4 minutes late when the doorkeeper turned up late with his keys to the Chapel. I reminded those given responsibility to keep keys to come to Chapel at least 10 or 15 minutes early before the starting time. Before I prayed, I spoke about the significance of Sabah in the scheme of things within Malaysia. First, it is the most Eastern State in Malaysia and many things happen in the East first.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Preaching on Esther

After a month of non-preaching hiatus, I have started preaching again. Last Sunday I spent 5 hours on the road to preach to the women's group of my home church in Kota Kinabalu. On Sunday I drove from Namaus at 6am and arrived in KK just after 8.15am. But the women's meeting was in the afternoon and I had a long wait for my sermon based on the book of Esther. In it I shared 5 main points. If the world ruled by a Persian king that men ought to be heads of the households how much should Christian men rise up and be leaders and heads of their households? Second, the removal of Queen Wasti was to make way for Esther and there will be times and in God's timing, persons or personnel will be removed to make way for those chosen by God to carry out His will and fulfil his purposes. Third, why did the king choose Esther above all the beautiful young maidens of the kingdoms and provinces under Persian control? Twice it was said only beautiful young virgins were taken and Esther was among those taken to the king's harems. Why did the king favour Esther above the rest? No doubt the 12-month beauty treatment had enhanced the beauty of the already beautiful maidens. Then they were tested whether they could please the king sexually by spending an evening with the king and returning to their chambers in the morning.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Way of Man is not in Himself (Jeremiah 10,23a)

The passage in prophet Jeremiah continues that it is not in man who walks to direct his own ways (Jer 10,23b). How true God's Word remains and it is settled forever in heaven. Only 10 days ago I have no idea where I was going, not a sign to indicate where my future lies. But now in less than 6 days since returning to College it is as if I had never left.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

5 Books: Travel Lite

This time I purposed in my heart that I would bring the bare minimum. As I could not do entirely without books, I had to choose a few. I took only 5 books with me in my first trip back to College. The five are: NKJV (I do my morning devotions with this Bible) 2) UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader's Edition 3) A New English Translation of the Septuagint 4) an Indonesian/Malay Bible for work and ministry 5) A Hebrew-English Interlinear. I may bring a few more books in my next trip but I may limit them five at a time, five I can't do without.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New Journey Begins

If there is verse in the Bible that sums up my life and ministry it is Numbers 9,22-23 "Whether it was two days, a month or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey. At the command of the Lord they remained in the Camp, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed...." I had remained in Kota Kinabalu not journeying since 11th July 2016 when I took all my books from College to Kota Kinabalu. But barely 35 days since I am journeying again. This morning I drove from KK at 5.30am and reached Ranau at 7am sharp. I stopped for breakfast and I reached the College at 7.40am about 10 minutes before the Chapel service started.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Singapore's Schooling

Singapore has finally found its soul in Schooling. It is in sports that could unite a whole nation and make its citizens brimming with pride. Singapore had won its first Olympic gold medal while her older brother Malaysia had just won silver. Even if Lee Chong Wei could win gold, Singapore had stolen the thunder. Joseph Schooling has reached unbelievable heights in 100M butterfly by beating Michael Phelps, the greatest Oympian of all time (22 golds) and others. All Singapore rejoices and I rejoice.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Faith that Moves Mountains (Matt 17,20)

The only time I had this mountain-moving experience was a week after the Ranau earthquake. I was driving from KK back to Ranau and my pick up truck was filled with about 20 cartons of mineral water as water supply was disrupted since the 5.9 tremor struck. A day before came the announcement from a government  minister that Ranau residents needed to be patient and it could take up to 3 weeks before water supply would be restored.  As I was driving past Mount Kinabalu, in fact facing that once majestic mountain, standing tall at 14,000 feet from sea level my spirit stirred within me by the Holy Ghost. The epicentre of the June 5th was right beneath the mountain and 18 people perished on the mountain top as they made their descent but never made it, some crushed to death by falling rocks. So I cried out to the Lord against the mountain and said, "Restore the waters of Ranau, Lord" on top of my voice and I spoke in tongues for 30 seconds or so.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Light at the End of the Tunnel

In Seoul there are many roads that go through tunnels and some of them through hills and mountains. In our Christian life sometimes we have to go through tunnels. There are many mountains to climb and when we see a way through we take it by the grace of God. Lord you let us escape like a bird from a cage....I have been waiting and waiting on the Lord for a way out. It has been 1 month and 1 day since I took all my books from the College. Since then I have been waiting to see what the Lord will do. Often as a foot soldier we depend on our generals to act for us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Singapore's 51st National Day

I want to wish all my Singaporean friends a Happy and Blessed 51st National Day. Having been born in 1964, less than a year after Malaysia came into being on 16th September when Singapore was still a part of Malaysia and just over year before Singapore's declaration of independence on 9th August 1965, I find myself frequently caught between the love for these two countries. Even now, I struggle to decide whether I should remain in Sabah or perhaps consider returning to Singapore for the second last leg and phase of my ministry. Singapore has many advantages, not least the strength of the Sing dollar and also the extended retirement age to 67.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Struggles of the Soul: Psalm of Solomon 16

I am not sure whether I want to continue meeting with my friends or people in general because they are bound to ask me what I am doing. Explaining my present circumstances may take time and not everyone including those close to me can appreciate what I had gone through in the past several months leading to the end of my ministry at the end of June. Last night I attended the Wira Pusat SIB Sabah Charity Dinner (SIB Men's Fellowship). I had the honour to sit next to the Chairman of the Wira SIB Sabah, an elder of my home church and he is one of earliest friends in SIB and were together with me in the committee when I was District Superintendent of KK District. Yet I found it difficult to relay what I have been going through and I hoped what I said gave grace to the hearers. In the meantime while waiting to see what the Lord will do for me, I have time to reflect on the state of my soul and it is good to realise within ourselves how weak and frail, how sinful and prone to iniquity we are. I read this beautiful Psalm of Solomon (ch. 16) from the Septuagint.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"I have much people in this city" (Acts 18,10)

Sometimes we think we belong to a tiny minority of the faithful and when persecution comes we feel we are all alone. It is perhaps how the apostle Paul felt in Corinth having preached there for 18 months with much persecution the Lord Jesus had to appear to him in a night vision to encourage him to continue speaking and preaching. Last night in the home group of my homechurch I felt a bit awkward speaking up as a former pastor and also not being present for the best part of 8 years, what right has an occasional worshiper to speak? But my close friend preached a powerful message. He was just an ordinary person selling cakes and mee for breakfast around the city but he loved the Lord. His message came from 1 Cor 12 where Paul teaches about being in one body but many members with each member different from one another yet needing one another and as part of the body contributes to growth and well being of the body as a whole. The head cannot say to the foot I don't need you. I recited this verse when it was my turn to share. I said in my denomination's heirarchy I am just a foot soldier but the general cannot say I don't need you. For the past 6 weeks since my tenure ended at the College I am left in the dark concerning my future and almost everyday now with social media and instant messaging technology I have friends and colleagues near and far asking how I am doing and whether I've received a new appointment.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Power of Songs

I am listening to a song my former student sent me an hour ago. I listened to it for a third time overlooking the city of Kota Kinabalu. This is the third song I received from my students in the past weeks and each time I was greatly ministered to, so much so that I wept before the Lord. No wonder I like the Psalms which are the songs of the Lord that move the hearts and souls and bring us clsoer to God and into His presence. Last Saturday waves and waves of God's love were poured into my heart as I sang song after song, all Malay or Indonesian songs. Last Sunday I attended an English service where the sermon was good but none of the songs moved me a bit. I think it is a sign for me to remain in the BM (bahasa Malaysia) ministry. There is just something about the Malay worship songs , so moving so melodious so anointed it melts the heart and causes it to bow before the Lord.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

On the Way 2 Jerusalem

They tell me that if you are not careful you can come down with the Jerusalem syndrome. I would say let me catch it and have it, in greater measures! Today I worshipped the Lord with Hebrew songs (with English transliteration) and my heart breaks out for Jerusalem. There is this irresistible desire to step on the place where the Lord was born and called his homeland. As my middle phase goes underway as Jesus in his days, I am setting my face to Jerusalem.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Retiring without Regrets

The Washington Post has this interesting article on people's regrets when they retire (see here). So far I have not suffered from such mistakes and thus have no regrets. I have always gone for my dreams, with huge risks sometimes and it pays off handsomely at the end. I am at present at a critical juncture of my life. Into my early 50s now, do you play it safe or continue to go for your dreams and take risks? By God's grace, I will choose the latter though the former presses on one's soul sometimes...a whisper here and a whisper there telling you that your dream is too far-fetched, it is too late, it is time to recoup or it is time to worry about retirement and many such things that enter the minds of men and women and hence, their regrets when they retire. I have no regrets. I spoke powerfully on Saturday by the Spirit of the Lord. I joked with my Ranau congregations (plural as we have two distinct Sunday services) when I was appointed to lead the Bible College early this year that I had two wives.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Free to Worship

I am enjoying my time of break while it lasts.  I am waiting for the 2nd service of SIB SKYLINE to start. The first service is about to end and I can see about 300 people inside. Yesterday I think for the first time in 20 years I preached 3 sermons in a row, two in the morning and one at 2pm. These were long sermons, the first one went for 1 hour and 10 mins and second close to an hour but the last one only 45 mins.  It was a good time of fellowship with the Kawasan Taginambur leaders, the meetings were only for men or wira. 154 registered but the attendance was close to 200 men. Thanks be to GOD. It is not easy to get 200 men to spend the whole of Saturday from 8.30 am to 4pm and attend three long services. There was a major NGO AGM going on at the same time and rain and rained it did for a whole day.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Blade, Head and Full Grain (Luke 13:32-33; Mark 4:28-29)

In Luke 13:32-33, Jesus' cryptic saying about I must go on today, tomorrow and the next day has been a lamp post as far as my ministry is concerned. These three days represent the three phases of the Lord's ministry in Luke's Gospel - Galilee's, the journey to Jerusalem and His passion. For ordinary mortals, these three days represent the three phases of our lives and ministry in the Lord. I am entering the phase of tomorrow in my middle age, truly into my second half of life and it could last for 15 or so years. Then my final stage will be brief - a few short years and then it's quits or in a more spiritual tone, I would have run and finished my course. In Mark 4:28-29, another enigmatic parable concerning the growth of a plant - first the blade/stalk, then the head/ear and the full grain in the head - again three stages of growth as mysteriously as it is the growth of a seed buried in the soil, there are three discernible growth spurts - three stages of life for a plant.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Past 50 - Birthdays & Presents

When one is past 50, one might not want others to remember their birthdays. I read in one British survey that middle age begins only at 55 and old age does not begin until 74. Then I can consider myself still young, young in heart and by God's grace filled with His energy to soar with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40). These few weeks of rest and inactivity have done me a world of good, seeing how hectic and stressful the first half of the year had been. I have gained a couple of pounds, even when I got back from Korea I was told that I looked different from the haggard and tired Pemangku of the second quarter of the year. The third quarter of 2016 is rest and I hope in the Lord I can get back on my feet in terms of some form of ministry for the last quarter of the year. By in what form or where only God knows.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Youth Renewed like the Eagle's (Psalm 103:5)

The Lord satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's (Psalm 103:5). I give thanks to You Lord that You have fed me with good things and that my youth is renewed like the eagle's. In terms of energy level, I can testify that I do not feel anything less than what I had 10 or 15 years ago. In fact, I feel more energetic than ever. For the first time in my working life of nearly 3 decades, I held two jobs for 3 months early this year. How did I manage that unless it was the Lord who granted me strength, renewed youth and good health?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Why Good Employees Quit (Donn Carr)

“People work for people – they do not work for businesses”          – Donn Carr
This has been my mantra for as along as I can remember. The message is so simple, full of truth and direction, yet it is consistently ignored by human resource departments, managers and owners alike and they wonder why their turnover is so high or they are always having to look for new people. The problem is with the managers – and seldom the employee or the quality of the workforce. This has been proven and well documented by study after study.

Ranau & Namaus Chapters

My book tentatively titled, Memoirs of a Modern Modern has gone past 72,000 words. I am finishing my Ranau chapter, ch. 11 and the final chapter will be on my time as Acting Principal in Namaus, ch. 12. I thought 12 chapters are just about right, the number 12 being the number of the people of God and this book is meant to be read by the churches, the Church of Jesus Christ, the people of God. I don't know whether it will reach 90,000 words but I will try to keep it short and manageable. I have been writing furiously in the past couple of days when I felt inspired.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

3 Sundays without Preaching

When my former student texted me and wished me God's blessings on my preaching, I realized that it had been 3 Sundays since I last preached in Singapore on 26th June. My last Sunday sermon in Sabah was in a nearby church from College on 12th June. This is like an eternity without rising to the pulpit. Last night I preached an impassioned message from 1 Tim 5,17-18, Eph 4,11-14 and Jeremiah 3:15-16 to a cell group of 14 adults, most of whom are my contemporaries belonging to my homechurch in KK. I spoke about three things as pastors or elders. First, to lead or rule well and the 2nd and 3rd things are ways by which leadership or rulership of the church is carried out, namely through preaching and teaching. I shared how I rejected several job offers in Singapore when the churches only asked me to preach occasionally like once in 3 weeks compared to what I had been doing in the past 18 months that is on average preaching 3 times a week. But suddenly I am taken away from the land of the living and now dwell in darkness of non activity.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

5 Old Testament Books

In my CV, I listed 5 OT books that I would like to teach - Genesis, Psalms, Song of Songs, Zechariah and Daniel. I could have included Isaiah and Ezekiel but I won't push my luck too far since people think I am an NT person and therefore should stick to NT books. My background is totally biblical. I have never divided the Bible into two Testaments, as if one can be taught apart from the other or that if you are an expert in one, God forbid that you should venture into another's domain. This is where the reformers come in handy. Luther and Calvin were biblical scholars. They would be surprised if not annoyed to see the current division between OT and NT. Luther lectured and preached from the Psalms for years and Galatians was his Katherine (Luther's wife) and Romans his crown.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Springing into Action

The time for waiting is over.  Today I just posted Psalm 130,4-5 where the Psalmist claims he waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning. The time of waiting is over. For the past two or three months early rising and praying has done its job. Now it is time for action.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Highs & Lows

Yesterday I experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. When there is a high a low will soon follow. Perhaps this is the pattern of human experience, even spiritual experience. Yesterday during worship I experienced one of the sweetest highs in my life. As the song was sung, Tuhan pasti Sanggup (God is able) I was caught up in estascy of the Lord's embrace. I had just read Jeremiah 13:11 about God's people clinging to the Lord as a linen sash clings to a man's body. I saw exactly that in a vision of the Lord. Where the Spirit is, there is freedom. I felt such a sense of liberation, not bound by anything temporal or worldly concerns but only wanting to do God's will. I remember how I worshipped the Lord as a 17-year old, my first love in Christ in the city of Christchurch and yesterday I worshipped the Lord in abandonment like before-times. O Lord there is no desire on earth besides Thee; in Your presence is fulness of joy and at Your right hand pleasures forevermore.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Where is the Challenge?

Several times when it appears that there was a ministry opening I asked myself this question: "Where is the challenge?" or "What is the challenge?" The challenge for me is to remain in Sabah where hardships, sufferings and persecution will occur.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Time in the Middle of the Month

We are truly into the 2nd half of the year, more than half of July is gone. I am in the 5th day of my self enforced break from active ministry. After returning from College with my books last Monday, I rested fully for 3 days before rousing yesterday to begin planning and praying for my future. I read an old post titled 9 months and 9 days and I did not realize that my term of service had taken 18 months and 9 days until 9th July 2016 when I returned from Korea where I presented two papers in an International meeting of the SBL. Time doubled in no time and I shall be writing my last chapter of my book "Ranau & Namaus". I have already reached 70,000 words but perhaps because of the significance of these past 18 months my book will reach 100,000 words.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Exciting Times in England & the World

We are living in exciting times. It is exciting times in the United Kingdom. It is exciting times for what remains of the European Union. The doom and gloom sayers will be proven wrong. Continental Europe will only grow stronger without the British Isles. France and Germany are negotiating a common defence force, unthinkable with UK in the EU. Britain has a new PM. No matter how polished a politicIan David Cameron was, I have never been impressed with him. Few years ago Cameron's speech on interference in Libya was the last straw. He is not too dissimilar to Tony Blair rushing to war and interference. Theresa May on the other hand looks prime ministerial. I like what I see in her first hours as PM. Appointing Boris Johnson as foreign secretary was a masterstroke.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Uprooting Utterly

Sometimes we hide our feelings from others. I felt a part of me went numb when I finally uprooted myself from the College that had been my life for the past 6 months. Two days before flying off to South Korea I went up to the College to clear my room and came back to KK with a truckload of personal belongings. Two days after returning from Korea I went up again to bring my books kept in my makeshift office. A close friend accompanied me on my final trip to Namaus yesterday and we spent less than 1 hour before leaving the place for good. It was tough as I put up a smiley and cheerful exterior, as for the pain in the heart who knows? Some students caught the sight of me and when lesson ended at 11.45am came out to greet us and extended assistance to quickly move the boxes of books onto my pickup truck.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sabah, Brook of Cherith (1 Kings 17,3)

When I landed in Kota Kinabalu I had this vision of a man in linen, "shouting on top of his voice". When I arrived home I read from Psalm 66,1 "make a joyful noise to the Lord, O ye lands" (KJV). King James Version is still my favourite because oftentimes it tails in nicely with what I have been thinking. Ye lands, rather than all the earth as in many other versions. Ye lands speaks of many lands and there is one place and one land which God wants us to be at one time though we might travel to other lands for ministry or holidays. That land to me is Sabah. I felt such a joy upon reaching Sabah after a whirlwind tour of Singapore and Seoul in the past fortnight. In Singapore I met up with many friends and I was hugely encouraged by it. In Seoul I stayed as in a foreign land, no English spoken when I got lost but most Koreans were really kind as they tried to show me home in their Korean knowing that I could not understand a word.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Seoul & Sabah

My soul finds its rest in God. As there was no rest for me in Seoul it was good that for a whole week I have not thought much about my future nor the events of the past weeks. But returning to Sabah will bring back memories of recent past and my waiting period will begin afresh. I met someone at the SBL conference from Malaysia and he has been doing the same job for 30 years and he kind of sympathised with me when he heard I had left Singapore (old news) and now back in Sabah but without a ministry position. It is difficult to know where to begin if I had wanted to tell him of my experience of 18 months in Ranau and Namaus. This is an God ordained break for me. I will for sure read more of the Bible especially Hebrew and Greek versions which is always a good thing, no matter what the circumtances.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SBL International Meeting in Seoul

At noon will be the closing ceremony of SBL international meeting. The meeting will go on until Thursday 12.3pm but there will be a closing lunch reception hosted by Yonsei University for the SBL participants. In the past couple of days I have attended about 20 lectures as most lectures are about 30 mins long or at most 40 mins.  It has been great but only a few stood out for their spiritual enlightment rather than just academic or technical. I enjoyed a textual criticism session looking at Gal 2,11-14 where if the reading is when he came rather than when they came, it would provide a clue as to the Pauline chronology of events. Anyhow, two papers really stood out one given by an Israeli professor from Haifa on angels ascending and descending on a ladder to heaven in Jacob's dream at Bethel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Enemies Everywhere: The Psalmist's Struggle for Survival

After being a member of SBL for 10 years I finally made it to its International Meeting and presented a paper to boot. I was rather fortunate as it was the first session at 9am on the first day of the seminar proper. The room was too small since normally one does not get more than 15 people turning up. But lo and behold more and more people turned up and at the end more than 30 professors were present with 4 or 5 standing at the back. After the first two speakers I presented my paper at 10am sharp and used up my allocated 22 minutes and there were 3 questions from the floor and it all ended on time. I spoke from the Psalms, my favourite biblical book. It was a large topic as the word enemy or enemies is found 103 times in the Psalter and I examined the first 10 Davidic psalms but referred to other psalms when they come handy. I did not want it to be totally academic or overly technical. I  did not once use a Hebrew word because the Hebrew word for enemy is not in dispute. Why does the Psalmist have so many enemies?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grown Wings

I almost got my wings clipped. But being free like a bird it is for a little while and now I am flying again. Having not flown for 20 months suddenly I am flying for the 2nd time in 4 days. Destination Hong Kong and Seoul. It is good for the soul for me to be away. Emotions are still raw. Only last night barely a day I left College a couple of students sent heartfelt messages, "we miss you gr". To detach myself from the community I exited the MTS group sooner than I would like as I mentioned in my farewell address I would like to post my Korean photos but last night I decided otherwise.  I needed to be free emotionally to do what I believe what I think God wants me to do. Emotions can be a good thing, love, sadness, fondness but feelings can be ropes that bind thus scripture says, guard your heart with all diligence for from it flows issues of life. My lawyer friend who came up to College recorded my farewell speech in its entirety.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Farewell Address

In barely 3 months, I have to say goodbye twice, first to my Ranau congregations and now to my College community which I have grown extremely fond of. There were no tears as I did not once say goodbye or the word berpisah or perpisahan though it was printed in bold and large letters as backdrop. I am grateful to my faculty colleagues to have held a farewell service for me, even my lawyer friend who came up with me was duly impressed how the service went (photo: my colleagues and staff singing a song for me). He singled out the MC and song leader for special praise. This time I did not say thanks as in the closing service at the end of the last semester a month ago I had thanked everyone who had supported and worked alongside me. This time I spoke about why I chose not to accept my appointment as lecturer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Soul Searching & Seoul

It has been the most poignant week of my life. Last Monday when I was driving down to KK from Namaus I was pretty certain I would spend the rest of the year at College. Now I am driving back to Namaus to pack my bags and tomorrow I will be back for KK for good, at least until my new appointment (with the Lord). It has been also the most intense soul searching week of my life which the Lord uses all these internal and external pressures to teach me one lesson, a lesson I thought I had learned many years ago, that is God is my employer and my boss and ultimately I am only accountable to Him and Him alone. So I don't see this period as a period of inactivity or unemployment but in the employment of the Lord as one who takes orders from him and go where the Spirit leads. The Elijah passage came to mind several times in Singapore as I prepared my Sunday sermon preached yesterday. Elijah is usually hidden from human interaction but when he appears no one fails to notice him because he is a prophet of fire or prophet by fire.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sadness & Solace

Things happened so quickly that I was glad I could somewhat escape the heat of battle by running off to Singapore for a couple of days. On Wednesday I informed my colleagues I won't be staying on at College and communicated with them throughout the day. On Thursday I broke the news to the student body by writing to a student in the College whatsapp group like Paul to Timothy but meant to be read by all. By night fall as I was preaching in Singapore but messages kept coming in until early hours of Friday morning. Today it reached a peak as students returned to College for the 2nd Semester starting tomorrow with an opening Sunday service.

Between Singapore & Sabah

I have been in Singapore now for 40 hours. A flood of memories came back to me, flowing from Sabah to Singapore and Singapore to Sabah. I had time to reflect in the past 2 days the events of the past 5 months in Sabah. In terms of receptivity of God's Word Singapore is a breath of fresh air. All the friends I contacted did not disappoint and they proved to be a real encouragement to me. I did not have time to put my feet up when I checked into my hotel room as my Anglican friend was already waiting for me to take me to dinner and then brought me to his church for a prayer meeting where I shared God's Word for 30 minutes and prayed with them. Yesterday I met up with 3 close friends within the span of several hours. I was touched by their hospitality and making time and taking efforts in coming to me and making sure I felt welcome in their midst.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Singapore & Seoul

I might have written my previous post one day early, Today was the longest day in my life. I was preoccupied with meeting my HQ leaders and then lunch with my good friend in town. I was supposed to write my two papers in earnest but alas so many things just needed my attention and mentally and emotionally I was too tired to do anything else but reflect on the events of the past couple of days. Indeed the king's heart is turned by the Lord like the waters of a mighty rivers. No one could boast about tomorrow. Yesterday morning when I was driving down from Ranau I was pretty certain about what my next 6 months would look like but within 24 hours, my longest day everything has changed and all are up for grabs. As they say the only certainty is uncertainty and more uncertainty. Perhaps the Lord is testing my faith and like before I had to cast myself unto him for it is good to trust in the Lord and not in princes. Yet I am glad that in the next few days I would have a change of environment. I am heading to Singapore.

The Longest day

For more than a month I have been getting up at 3am or slightly before that. Without TV and slow Internet connection or none at all at times, I go to sleep early say 10pm, thus securing about 5 hours sleep per day. But when I get up this early and if it recurs over weeks it means that something big is happening in my life, like a critical decision, moving countries, changing ministries or giving up something precious for the Lord. Only yesterday at 3pm on the longest day of the year I think I might have the answer to my prayers and weeks of waiting on the Lord in the wee hours of the morning. Eyes have not seen nor heart perceived what God will do for him who waits on Him...for those who wait on the Lord shall not be ashamed. The longest day in the northern hemisphere means the countries north of the equator get the most sun for the year during that particular day. Work while it is still day takes on a poignancy as if God grants extra hours for us to labour in his field. I have done exactly that.