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.