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.