Sunday, September 30, 2018

Paul’s Friendships in Romans

I had a plan - to finish all my lectures before I travel to Singapore later this week. But it wasn’t meant to be as my lectures were interrupted several times by visiting lecturers in the past couple of months. But we have reached the end of Romans so my final lectures will focus on Paul’s friendships in Romans 16. Chapter 16 has always been interesting. For Paul who had never visited Rome when he penned this magisterial epistle he seems to know a lot of people in Rome or associated with the Roman church. It tells us several things of the ancient capital and its nascent Christian Community. First, many Christians were well travelled.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Friends & Foes

A friendly man has many friends, so says Proverbs. But a godly man has many enemies. Two years ago at Society of Biblical Literature Conference in Seoul, South Korea I presented a paper about the Psalmist’s struggles for survival with the title “Enemies Everywhere”. I counted that there were 103 times in the book of Psalms that the word “enemy” or “enemies” is used throughout the Psalter. It appears that a big part of a righteous man’s experience of pain and affliction comes from his enemies, real or imagined. But friendship is also a great theme in the Wisdom literature wherein in times of anguish and afflictions, friends are there to console and to comfort. But Job was left without friends in his darkest hour of need and even his friends who came visiting ended up criticising Job and making him feel worse.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sukkot & Mooncake Festival

It was a double celebration last night. For the Chinese it is the mid-autumn festival or Mooncake festival that falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar while Sukkot falls on 15th Tishri, the 7th month in the biblical calendar. My brother texted me at 10.30 am and I was having morning tea with my Principal in Namaus some 2.5 hours from Kota Kinabalu. Forthwith I applied for leave and by 11.30 am I started my journey back to KK to have dinner with my family. I have not spoken with my mum since May and I thought it was a good time to reconnect. Familial ties with me as the only Christian in the family and my niece going to a SIB youth group could be testy at times to say the least. But whenever I have a chance to make peace or build up relationships I am all for it even for aggrieved Christian brothers.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Tip of Borneo

I have just completed the first leg of my tour of Sabah in the next few weeks before saying goodbye to Ranau for good. We drove for 4 hours to Kudat the northern most town in Sabah via the Marakparak road. We stopped over for tea break at Kota Marudu, a growing and thriving township and at 6.15pm we reached the church that hosted us for the weekend. Early Saturday morning after I shared a devotion with my homegroup we visited the Tip of Borneo Tanjung Simpang Mengayau about 10 kms from Kudat. It was overcast but we still felt the heat from the sun. We spent nearly 2 hours there before making our way to another beach Pantai Kelambu which is just as scenic as the island with green forest is shaped like a mosquito net hence the word Kelambu in Malay.

Monday, September 17, 2018

David’s Struggles

It is often during the holidays I got up the earliest. When you are free to sleep in or get up, the freedom itself gives you that lift in the spirit to do what we want to do and for believers what God wants us to do. I spent a good hour reading the Bible first Psalm 69 slowly and meditatively and then about David’s struggles in 1 Samuel before and after he became king. As David was as talented as it comes people got jealous of him, not just his older brothers but later the king himself, perhaps seeing in David a younger version of himself when he was still anointed when God was still with Saul. Why did God depart from Saul? Saul began to please men rather than God and hence lies the downfall of many men of Gof who at first are devoted to God but when they rise to high posts or positions they begin to forget it was God who put them there in the first place.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

7 Weeks

I used to plan 2 or 3 years in advance. I want to give myself at least 12 months of breathing space. But now I am ticking off week by week. Like in the book of Daniel I have 7 more weeks before the end. By the time I return from Kudat it will be 6 weeks and by the time I return from Singapore it will be less than 5 weeks. 4 weeks from Keningau visit and 3 weeks after my weekend ministry in Telupid. Then the final 3 weeks of marking exams and submitting the grades for one last time. I thought of skipping graduation altogether but for the sake of my students who have been with me for the past 3 years and some for the past 4 years I will pull all stops to attend for one last time and then the end would have come.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

House of Mourning

It is better to be in the house of mourning than a house of mirth says Ecclesiastes. I attended a funeral service this afternoon in my home church for the wife of a prominent politician who passed away last Friday. She was 63 but struggled valiantly over 10 years of illness. It was also the first time I met this friend of mine in 10 years. He was an elder when I was pastor 15 years ago. I was praying whole day what  I would say to him when I saw him. At the end he started asking where I was based and I told him in Namaus and he said he would love come to visit and see what he could do for the College. I said, “Please come.” And I gave him a hug and called him “brother”.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Week that Was

If there was a week that I packed as many things as possible it was the past week from last Saturday to Friday. I drove up to Ranau to attend the marriage solemnisation ceremony in my former Ranau church and then attended the wedding reception in the evening. I met with the two politicians who won in the recent election and spoke with both of them. He was generous enough to say it was because of my prayers that he won. Praise be to God. It was his third time lucky. On Sunday I preached an hour long sermon on walking with God. On Monday I tried my best to have all my extension programme courses marked. I only taught 4 courses from March to June but assignments are still coming in.