Saturday, June 30, 2018

55 Club

Yesterday one of my closest friends at Secondary school celebrated his 55th birthday. So our class group all wished him happy birthday and not a few welcomed him to the 55 Club. But I am one year younger than my contemporaries and this has been the story of my life, at least the first part of my adult life, I have always been younger than my fellow professionals and church leaders. When I first opened my law firm I was only 24 years old. When I was elected Treasurer general of the denomination I was 31 years old. When I was church pastor of my KK church I was only 38 years old while most of my elders are in their late 40s or 50s. But in the 2nd half of my life the reverse could hold true like Moses. Joseph and David were 30 years old when they achieved prominence. I am 54 and not only am I the lowest ranked lecturer but compelled to go into obscurity at the end of the year.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Total Surprise

Life is full of surprises. It was totally unexpected. I announced my imminent departure from the College from the pulpit yesterday after having preached a fiery sermon, sat down and rose up to respond to some comments made which led to the announcement. By night fall we had a cell group meeting in my College residence and I felt a great budern lifted. In fact for the first time during yesterday lunch I asked a student to give me a second helping of rice as my appetite returned. When a burden of 2 years is lifted, shoulders felt light and there is a spring in the steps. Even today's drive back to KK was a breeze knowing that it is just a matter of months now instead of agonising that I might be stuck in a place of barrenness for years.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Urban or Rural

I need to have a set of wheels to travel. Or a good car. The sun shone brightly this morning as I left the house at 8am to return to Ranau after an overnight delay. I am stopping at Tamparuli for breakfast and relax as much as I can before resuming my journey. It is a test of endurance more mental than physical. When the spiritual is right mental and physical stress is bearable but I have increasing doubts that the Lord wants me to do this for long. There is no more Spirit within the wheels and soon I will change for a city car rather a pickup heavy and made for off road terrains. Having tried rural ministry for 4 years it is time to return to the city.

Monday, June 25, 2018

No Spirit left in me

It is rare. I don’t remember driving back to KK having started on the journey to Ranau. But it rained heavily in the afternoon and the dark clouds hovering Mount Kinabalu afar off was no a good omen. But more than just the weather throwing a spanner in the works it is that I have no spirit left in me to make the journey north east. Perhaps like the armies of Alexander the Great it was one mountain too many for them to cross and at the end they refused to obey their king and made him turned back. As long as I have been in ministry I do not know how I managed to overcome great obstacles in my way. Every journey on road or in the air I had felt the Lord going before me.

Confluence of Circumstances

Now that I am not a pastor when I am not preaching I can attend any of the 600 SIB churches in Sabah. If one is not honoured in one church one can go to another. We are not here to seek honour but if God’s servants are not honoured neither can their ministry prosper in the church. Even prophets serve with honour for Jesus says prophets are not without honour except in their own country and their own relatives and their own house. Yesterday I received great honour in a church some 30 minutes from KK. First time there in 19 years as the Chairman told the congregation that I was the preacher for the 1st anniversary of the church and yesterday we celebrated its 20th. In his stirring speech he gave an outline of my sermon 19 years ago which I remembered nought.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Small Village Church

The Pastors’ Conference had ended on Saturday and now I am back in Ranau. Yesterday I preached in a little church near Kiulu, Tamparuli where only 20 adults gathered. I preached a full message like usual from Phil 3:1-11 and drops of sweats fell for at least 30 minutes of my sermon. It was so hot in the pulpit that the elder later apologised that there was no fan over the pulpit and that only one ceiling fan at the centre of the little church. Anyhow I enjoyed the breakfast and lunch fellowship very much and it is good not to neglect small churches that could not afford love gifts.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Women’s Conference

I attended the Women’s Conference for the first time in 3 years. Three years ago thanks to the Conference in KK we escaped the 6.0 Ranau earthquake. I was amazed at the dedication of the women’s folks. Last night’s attendance was more than 4,500 people and those registered broke records, a total of 2,500 people. Now the Women’s Conference if attendance is kept up may even exceed that of the Youth Conference which had a 15 year head start. I wasn’t surprised because in almost all the 30 plus churches I had preached in since 2014 women would make up 70percent of the congregation. Alas where are the men and young men?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jubilee & A Life of True Freedom

Yesterday at Kota Belud I spoke about the number, 153 in John 21 - the 153 large fishes caught by Jesus' disciples. What does the number stand for? One way of looking at it is that 153 is 51x3. The number 51 is significant because it begins a new cycle of 50 years, the 50th year being Jubilee where every man is commanded to return to his own land (Lev 25) and if there is any debt accrued it must be cancelled or absolved by the creditor so that every man in Israel is free from debt and not be burdened by subjection to creditors and landowners because the debtor's inheritance/land is restored to him in the year of Jubilee.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Preaching for 1 hour

I did not realise that my sermon went for almost one hour -  58 minutes to be exact. I rose to the pulpit at 9.55 and stopped at 10.53am. With the closing prayers and short announcements the meeting lasted exactly 2 hours. I did not look at my watch once while preaching and I went with the flow and how attentive the 300 adults were. In fact they were in rapt attention except one or two who went for toilet break. It was not an easy sermon to preach over 7 points where for each point I gave a scripture and shared how we interpret it and for 4 or 5 points I shared my personal testimony of how I obeyed God’s word which I regard as having the highest authority. After service we had another 30 minutes in church talking to various people. One tambourine dancer whom I met 2 years ago as a 12 year old is now almost as tall as I am.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Word of God as the Highest Authority

I was invited to preach tomorrow on this topic 10 days ago just as I was preparing to go to Keningau. I accepted straightaway as I thought this topic was interesting and highly relevant. Though I did not think I would need more than 10 days to prepare for this message but for the past week I have been reflecting on how to approach this topic. Now I realise I probably need a whole month to give justice to this question. What is it that we consider that the Word of God as the highest authority? I will look at it from 7 perspectives. First, the Word of God commands obedience and it is prescriptive - love your God with all your heart....or love your enemies. These commands arc things we must do. In other words, these are propositional truths. Second, God’s commands can be proscriptive. They command us not to do certain things. “do not covet” or “do not be drunk with wine” (Eph 5:18). Third, the Word of God is descriptive. Like the early church devoted itself to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). We need to somewhat work out for us in 21stcentury how we do church and how we follow the patterns of the early church. Fourth, the Word of God has many narratives or stories which I call narrative authority. When Ruth said to Boaz “why do you care since I am a foreigner?” It was meant for us to do what Boaz did to care and consider the needs of foreigners.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Month that Was

It was a month that will go down in history as epochal in changing the political landscape of the country. For the first time in my lifetime I witnessed a change of government in Malaysia whereas in my decade-long sojourn in NZ for education I had witnessed at least 4 or 5 change of governments with a total of 7 or 8 Prime Ministers. So it is historical in Malaysia and yesterday the Finance Minister announced that more than RM7 million had been donated to the Nation Hope Fund by ordinary citizens. It reminded me what John F Kennedy said half a century ago "Do not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". If such hope is generated by people of the world that yearned for change for the better it can be a bit discouraging to see within the church, members can still take things so easily as far as the kingdom of God is concerned.  Many want to go to church but few want to follow Christ.  Many want to go to heaven but very few are willing to pay the price.