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.