Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Returning Home

It is good to be home. Home to me is where the people of God are. My delight is in the saints of the land. When I reached Namaus after 2.5 hours drive I was feeling haggard but I rushed to the 3.30pm prayer meeting. A leader must lead by example and by his presence.  Whether I lead prayers or say a word or not, my presence is enough to lift spirits and keep the enterprise going. When I return to my room I came across a few hostelites and they greeted me, selamat kembali. Welcome back.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Season of Fruits

There is a time for everything.  There is a season for every purpose under heaven.  And there is a season of fruits even for me. In the past fortnight I have been having mangoes galore but a number of fruits were spoilt as we were not home and it fell to the ground and got bad. It is like the season of harvesting. Once the fruits are ripe they must be harvested or else the harvest suffers ruin.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday After Easter

This is my first Monday off in 3 months, after 3 consecutive Passover, Holy Saturday and Resurrection Sunday services in Papar. I had the whole South China Seas in front of me as I read my Bible in early morning devotions. I thank the Lord for His grace and strength for his servant. It was not that intense as I did not even ask people to come forward for prayers. Yesterday I preached from Romans 1,1-5 perhaps an unusual passage for resurrection Sunday though it is stated that it was by the Spirit of holiness that the Son of GOD was raised from the dead and proved to be the Son of God with power, Jesus Christ our Lord. The promise of his coming, death and resurrection was not something alien to Israelite faith as it was promised in the Holy Scriptures by the prophets.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Between Death & Resurrection on Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is a day we reflect on the inevitability of death and the hope of resurrection. Even though we do not go through like Jesus' death and Resurrection, most mortal beings contend with death and hope for life beyond this world. Sometimes metaphorically we are at the edge of death, defeat appears certain but at the last moment we escape from the jaws of death as if reborn in a resurrection. Even now, I live in this paradox of death and resurrection daily.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Anatole & Proiinos

The Messiah is called anatole in Zechariah 3 LXX instead of the branch in MT. Anatole means rising (Sun) or the East in the sense that the sun rises early in the east while proiinos means early (morning) and Jesus is called the bright and morning star in Rev 22,16, the final of many titles for Jesus in the book of Revelation.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dawn, Morning and Evening Prayers & Devotions

I am getting adjusted to College life. Before dawn, I drove from Ranau to attend the pre-dawn 5am devotions and prayers at the men's hostel. At 8am we have our regular morning Chapel. Then at 3.30pm in this month of Lent and prayers, we pray until 4.30pm.  When there are 3 times of prayers during the day, at night I did not miss my former church that much.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Soul & Scholarship

I experienced the dark night of the soul. From 11pm to about 1am, I struggled to sleep as I reflected on the state of my soul. Feeling lonely and without a church for a first time (though the College community is now my church), I struggled to make sense of this constant moving and going. Literally I drove close to 1,000 kms last week, from Telupid to Ranau to Namaus twice, then to KK and back to Ranau and Namaus. What is the point in all these?  I struggled to understand the nature of my calling. I questioned whether I should stick to one place either as a pastor or as a scholar. I was reading books online as our library's resources are limited in this part of the world where I live. I came across my name as a contributor to an essay in a book edited by two US-based professors (see here). I thought 2 years ago I had already withdrawn my article from publication. But as I read part of the book on Google books, I felt a sense of restrained joy as a published author for a second time since my first and only book in 2005. A decade passed by like the twinkling of the eye.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's Time to Go

It's not sunk in. I have just started to pack. In less than a week's time I have to pack all my things and move them to another place. Officially I could leave by 1st April but with the Good Friday weekend elsewhere I have about 7 days to do all I need to do and move on. It's tough staying on in the church house after my last Sunday preaching in church 2 weeks ago. One is still very much attached to things. This morning I could have gone back to my old church but decided against it. Formally I am still senior pastor but now on leave. I need to move on and move out while the church needs to move on without me.

"Yet none of you asks me, where are you going?" (John 16:5)

I went back home at 11pm after a Passover service in a village church. But the church has changed and they had extended the church by 40 feet and now could probably seat 600 people. There is large stage in front with space for three rows of tambourine dancers. Last night it was pretty full with an amazing worship team led by the youths.  I preached from John 16:4-11 with the title, "Jesus goes to the Father" signalling his death on the cross. I spoke about the need to ask questions and show concern to our brothers and sisters.  Jesus said, "Now you have not asked me anything?" which shows the disciples' inability to react in a way that was pleasing to the Lord.  Often times when we hear something important or serious,  we fail to react and ask the right questions and as a result we miss the opportunity to do good or show concern to those in need. It could be just a question "Why are you going?" or "Where are you going?" At least by asking we show that we care or are interested in the person's welfare and that could lead to a conversation and through a conversation knowing the person in a more intimate way rather than missing out when we choose to remain silent or indifferent.

Friday, March 18, 2016

13th End-Time Seminar

Tomorrow I shall be conducting my 13th end-time seminar in a Ranau church about 30 mins from town. I expect many youths to turn up plus a few of my students who told me that they wanted to learn about eschatology. Unfortunately it will be a short seminar of 3 sessions in the morning and a revival meeting at night.  So I will look at Matthew 24 as my main text and will supplement it with Paul's teaching and the book of Revelation as well. I shall be returning to the church which I preached in the night after the 5th June Ranau earthquake. Ranau folks had recovered from the tremors but with Christchurch earthquake of 5.7 last month after 5 years plus after the initial 7.1 earthquake in Sept 2010, no one should be complacent but always on the guard for the next big one, even in Ranau again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Reforms & Retreat

We have had a working retreat in Institut Perhutanan Sabah, Telupid, 97 kms from Ranau towards the East Coast of Sabah. Altogether, 27 came, lecturers with our spouses and children gathered for a couple of days of retreat, though for the Faculty we had 9 discussion sessions in all. At the last session, one colleague whispered to me that we had accomplished a reformation. Indeed there were several notable reforms. First, we tackled the curriculum in 3 sessions. At the end we created  a curriculum for the 4-year Bachelor of Theology that has 40 percent biblical study content, 10% biblical languages, 10% Church History, 20% systematic theology and 20% practical theology. Those who lack practical theology or ministerial skills will go for a Master of Ministry after 2 years in the field. The faculty is in agreement that as a Bible School, the Bible must have its precedence and preeminence in the construction of the curriculum.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fighting the Battles of the Lord

That was what Abigail told David that he was fighting the battles of the Lord despite being an outlaw and moving from one place to another in the wilderness. It is wearisome to battle on and on with no end in sight. No wonder even the great armies of Alexander the Great refused to follow him further to the East. You stay on the road and sleep in tents and in the open field when you engage in battle. Soon I will be living out of suitcases, boxes and bags. I am moving out of my house in Ranau next week after I lead a faculty retreat in Telupid, 2 hours further east from Ranau about 4 hours from KK. After that, I have a series of speaking engagements in various places, 19th March, 25-27th March (Good Friday weekend), 2nd-3rd April in Tenom, then in Perancangan (9th April) and a family seminar at the end of April. Yesterday from 9am to 1.30pm,  I chaired the Ranau Pastors' Fellowship and the turnout was most encouraging. Despite offering to step down as I had resigned from my pastorate my fellow pastors insisted that I stayed on until things become clearer for me in June.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Last Sunday (Part 2)

It was a send-off that I did not expect. My worship team honoured me by arranging for a final tambourine dance. It was a rare occasion in church due to limited space. But we removed two rows of chairs and when I saw people coming in half an hour after the 2nd service had started I joked that no one was allowed to put chairs in front after the worship was over. I knew in my spirit something was going to happen as I needed space to make an altar call. It was not one of the best messages but I sensed the power of God at work as I preached on God forming us for his praise and glory and He knew us by our names, each and everyone of them.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Last Sunday (Part 1)

I thought I was going to get emotional. But the only moment I felt that I was going to weep was when I hugged one of the older members of the congregation (in his 70s). This member is among the first to arrive in church and he would always greet me with one of the warmest handshakes and smiles. After service, he would thank me profusely and would give me a hug before he went on his way. I only see him in church so yesterday when I reached out to him, I felt a tinge of sadness that I would not see him in the Muhibbah church again. On Saturday I had an early start with the Secretary-General bringing a former principal to visit the College and we had wonderful fellowship until almost 2pm. By 7pm, I was back in church for the rehearsal and we had dinner fellowship and it went on until almost 9pm before the rehearsal began. I had to ask them not to try too hard when I saw the clock ticking 11pm and it was time to leave the church in order to rest and return by 7.30am the next morning.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Leap Year

Yesterday I was given an xtra 12 hours to work in 2016 with the additional day in 2016 being a leap year. I led my 7th Faculty meeting in under 8 weeks since taking office. Within SIB culture of consensus I need the support of my colleagues for most things. And I prefer it that way as I appreciate my colleagues' input and contribution in decision making. One decision we took was to launch the SIB prayer month starting on Thursday lasting until 4th April.