Friday, December 29, 2017

A Year that Was

I suppose with less than 3 days before the year ends I could now afford myself some luxury to reflect on  the year that was. For once it has been the most mundane and ordinary of my three years back in full time ministry in Sabah. Not that it is bad because a measure of predictability and routine is good for blood pressure and health. Speaking of health I thank the Lord that the start of the year I saw myself falling sick twice in February and then in Salarom Taka Pensiangan. No fun driving 5 hours and preached straight away in an afternoon session in a hot building with the mercury inside close to 40 degree Celsius. I got sick but there was always a silver lining behind the gloom as I visited a clinic in the interior and waited about 3 hours to get a few aspirins like the rest of the villagers in Sapulut. My pastor friend told me that she had to wait for the mobile clinic fortnightly to come calling. It was good to mix with the lowly and at the clinic the sister in charge called me pastor and asked to take a photograph with me and wife (she knew me from preaching in her village 20 years ago). I had no inkling that in the remotest of villages people recognised me. Again my faithful wife was with me. O what would I do without her by my side. She had been with me for at least 80 percent of my travels. As I had gotten sick in mid-March I decided to callthe  three churches that invited me to preach Good Friday weekend and KKR early April and declined at invitation to Beluran. Sometimes ill health is a good sign so that we know our limitations and our human frailty. But praise be to God after that bout of sickness I was in the pink of health for the rest of the year, concluding my Christmas preaching without wear and tear except tiredness and sore limbs.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

East Coast

I began my last sermon with a short testimony how I once stood at the Community Centre in a speech contest where all I remembered was that my knees were shaking the whole of the 10 minutes or so speech. But now more than 40 years on, coming back to Sandakan as the Lord’s servant filled with his spirit I spoke for nearly 3 hours and I could have gone on longer if I sensed the congregations were ready for more. East Coast of Sabah always holds a special place in my heart not only as my place of origins but the whole District seems to hold special promise and potential.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

3 Sessions in 30 Hours

As these were my last Christmas sermons for the year I gave it my all. No wonder my former church member once told me that every sermon pastor preached was like a revival sermon in KKR. I am glad when I was pastor I only preached alternate Sunday as there was no way to sustain an all out style of preaching week in and week out. But within 30 hours in Sandakan I had preached 3 long sermons, the first 55 minutes, Christmas Eve one whole hour and Christmas Day I told myself I won’t go past 45 mins but it took two extra minutes as I finished off with a testimony. On Christmas Eve I would not have preached that long if I knew after my sermon there would be 5 or 6 more presentations.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Loneliness & Alone

I can't help but be moved everytime I come to the verse in John 8 where Jesus said that he was not alone but that His father was with Him. In fact around noon today I reached that verse and stopped commenting for the rest of day. I have reached 119 pages and nearly 42,000 words, the length of a Masters thesis but it is just over a third of the Gospel. And tomorrow I will start to prepare for my final series of Christmas sermons. I will be mighty pleased if I reach chapter 10 by the time College starts. Now I think I have to divide the commentary into 2 volumes. Volume 1 will be until John 12 if possible but the second volume will come later if I have to take a complete break from preaching next Christmas so be it. Why do we suffer so much loneliness? Why do we feel so lonely? And that we are alone.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Pitas Preaching

It was double blessings for me as within 72 hours I found myself back in Pitas again this time preaching in an event organised by the government’s District Office and inter church committee. I knew that driving 7 hours back and forth for a 30 min sermon might not be worth the while but I was mighty pleased that I took up the challenge. I was motivated by the fact that politicians, government servants and officials needed to hear the Word of God. Plus the fact other churches besides SIB would be present and it is always good to preach to other sheep instead of just to your own flock.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Writing & Preaching

Writing and preaching don’t go together. Those scholars hardly preach but those who preach hardly become or continue to be scholars. My commentary is delayed for 4 days. Yesterday I just couldn’t  get myself to write. I was mentally and physically exhausted from my trip. Preaching and praying for people take a lot out of you. No wonder Jesus felt power had gone from him when a woman touched the helm of his garment from behind. Even the several lunches and dinners were taken up in answering theological questions. At least some of the church members were curious enough to ask. While driving to the seaside we spoke about whether there would be any circumstances that a divorced person may remarry.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Fishers of Men

We got home just after 6pm after driven more than 4 hours from Pitas to Kota Kinabalu. We only made one stop in Kota Marudu where I had a coffee. Pitas is a town north of Sabah located at the right ear of the Sabah map. Kudat is north at the other ear, or left ear. Pitas is famous for its ikan bilis as it is closed to the sea all round. To the left is South China Sea and to the right Sulu Sea along the North East Coast road all the way to Sandakan in the East. Preaching over 3 days was bearable but yesterday was exhausting as after Saturday night service that went past 11pm with nearly one hour of fellowship and getting up early to prepare for the Sunday morning message. And with another hour long conversation just before 2pm we made our way back to Kota Kinabalu. I was filled with joy at the work of the Lord's hands.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Between Sulu Sea and South China Sea

I have completed my ministry in the north in a small town named Pitas along the northern coastal road. The sea view north of Sabah is majestic and the bay of Pitas is known as the meeting point between the South China Sea and Sulu Sea near the Phillipines. I preached 3 times, Friday and Saturday nights and this morning. As the service started past 10am I ended up preaching until 12.11pm for about 56 minutes. It was a longish sermon where I picked my theme from Rev 2:1-8 and vs 18 onwards.

Friday, December 8, 2017


I have been on instagram for 4 months. Initially my only rationale was to connect with my son at the ends of the earth. For the first three months I only had 2 followers but in recent days suddenly 12 followers appeared. It just happened I commented on John 6 where at the end of the chapter Jesus mentioned his 12 followers. I am not into all these social media stuff.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Seriously Speaking

I was going to entitle this blogpsot "seriously writing" as I got up at 4am and started writing at 5.30am. I realized my progress has been slow and in the next few days I have to focus on my speaking engagements 3 weeks in a row. But when I comment on John 3-5, numerous times Jesus uses this formula to start his speech - "Amen Amen I say unto you". These Amen statements have taken me a whole week and I am still stuck in the middle of chapter 5 hoping to finish chapter 5 tonight and commence ch 6 tomorrow. Jesus is into serious speaking.

Friday, December 1, 2017

23 Years

Today I celebrate the completion of my 23 years in ministry. And I begin my 24th year in full-time ministry in the Lord. Today is historical for several reasons. Many people I had gotten to know told me they had the calling to go full-time but never did. Many people had gone full-time but they dropped out in 10 or 20 years. For me to complete 23 years is a milestone worth celebrating.