Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Europe & Asia

I reckon my European dream will take some time yet to come to pass. Now it’s Europe 2020 and this year’s plan has been put on hold. With much uncertainty regarding my future I thought it best to sit out or wait out this period before the Lord. It could be like Isaiah walking 3 years naked or Elijah fed by ravens and a widow for 3.5 years or perhaps more like Ezekiel lying low in his house for 390 days. Speaking of Ezekiel this is my 5th month since December 2018 that I have stopped from travelling up and down Ranau. And for most of my time I am home bound. But I keep up with European news online or television. Brexit is like an intoxicating liquor that makes drunk all British politicians who touched it. There is no end in sight. Then on Holy Week Monday we saw the Notre Dame Cathedral burned for hours. When the Spire fell, was it the fall or end of Christianity in France and in Europe? God has His little flocks everywhere but as a cultural force Christianity has long been on the wane in Europe perhaps in its dying throes.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Alumni Connections

I was surprised by a call this morning. Normally I don’t even answer calls from unknown overseas numbers. But I saw that it was from Auckland and thought it could be my son for a moment. But he just texted me a week ago so I wasn’t expecting something so soon. It turned out to be the alumni society of Auckland University. It was from my alma mater. We chatted for 7 or 8 minutes. I managed to share my life story in those brief moments. How did you end up with doing what you are doing now? She asked, “you did something on biblical studies didn’t you? Did you go on with your career with that? Yes for sure, I answered. I am doing church work serving among the tribal peoples of Borneo.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Covenant of Levi (Malachi 2:4, 8)

Yesterday I got up at 4am and today slightly later but still before dawn. For many it’s public holiday or the long weekend. But in seasons of Christian celebrations priests are at work and I am constantly reminded of the Lord’s calling in my life to be His priest, and uphold the covenant of Levi. The paper I wrote for IOSOT in United Kingdom is exactly on such topic. Interestingly, the five academic papers that I wrote (only one published in 2015) are in topics close to my heart, my ministry and my calling. I was given a name tag yesterday at church. I don’t why some churches are into leaders wearing name tags and now even invited speakers get to wear one.

Passover Pesach

Blessed Passover and Pesach for all my readers who celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. In one sentence I have used four words or terms to describe this holiday season for Christians and Jews. Yesterday in a Passover service (Paskah in Malay) I preached a 45 min sermon and conducted the passover meal according to Luke 22:1-30. I explained why the Feast of Unleavened Bread is also called the Passover. In fact, Passover in the first day in the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrations. I used 8 slides for the first 20 mins to lay the foundation of my sermon from the four books of the Law from Exodus to Deuteronomy. I mentioned the three great feasts and showed a verse in Ezekiel 45 where when the new temple is built the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles are still mentioned and practised.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Love is Painful

It’s been heady stuff, exegeting the Song of Songs (SS) verse by verse just I have done for John’s Gospel up to ch. 10 almost 18 months ago. It is never easy to explain every verse of the book but I believe in divine inspiration as Paul says every Scripture is God-breathed and beneficial for instruction..,etc (2 Tim 3:16-17). If I had not been on holidays it would be impossible to work on a biblical book though the last couple of weeks were taken up in polishing my paper for the IOSOT 2019 for which I am no nearer to a decision. But in the last couple of days I have been working on my first draft of the SS and revising it as I go along. Incredibly it is in the SS that we learn about love and the nature of love. I have been interpreting the SS using both the Hebrew and Greek LXX texts throughout and there are significant differences.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Baby Dedication

One of the church ceremonies that l like is the child dedication to the Lord. I was asked to conduct one such ceremony without preparation and without notice at the Sunday service today. I was thanking God for a relatively short sermon (30mins) and then the preacher and elder of the church called me and asked me to take over the dedication of a new born baby of a church member. I went up obligingly and asked the names of the parents and also whether the baby was a girl or a boy. She is a little beauty probably just one or two months old.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

European Dream (2)

I have struggled mightily in prayers to discern God’s will whether I should attend the IOSOT Congress in Aberdeen. Soon I have to decide or withdraw my paper accepted for oral presentation at the said OT meeting. I thought my attendance would complete my presentation of the three sections of the OT - Law, Psalms (Writings) and the Prophets. At Peking University, Beijing in 2006 I presented a paper on Father-Son relationships based on the book of Genesis’s narratives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants (Law/Torah). Then ten years on in Seoul (2016) I presented a paper on the Psalms at Yonsei University and now if it comes to pass I will present a paper on the Prophets (Malachi 2:4, 8) based on Malachi’s mention of the covenant of Levi.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Song of Songs Commentary

I have finished the first draft of my Song of Songs commentary last week just as news of the IOSOT Congress came through. For the past several days my mind was occupied by the European trip though a decision remains elusive. So tomorrow I will forget about this Congress and write a bit more on the introduction and also the conclusion. It’s just past 21,000 words and hopefully at the end it will not be more than 30,000 words about 50 pages in all.

Friday, April 5, 2019

European Dream (IOSOT 2019)

I have a dream. I have many dreams, most of which unfulfilled to this day. I have dreamt of going to UK since I was 13 years old. My parents sent me to Singapore for secondary School in preparation to study in UK. But as fate (God) has it, I went to Australia (Year 12) and then to Christchurch for University. On the 55th day on my arrival in Christchurch (1982), I had a vision of Jesus Christ in my room and I was born again and until today a follower of Christ. When I was 19 years old, the Lord gave me numerous songs. I wrote about 6 or 7 songs from the Psalms and one from the Song of Solomon. I wrote three songs about Jerusalem, the city of the Lord (one from Matthew 23). I sang one of the Jerusalem songs with my OT colleague (President of TRAC now) at the TTC cultural night in 2009, 10 years ago. But until now Jerusalem is a distant dream. I don't know about UK as my spirit has not rested since I was told that my paper on the Law and Prophets was accepted for oral presentation at the International Organisation for the Study of the Old Testament's 23rd Congress held in the University of Aberdeen.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Celebrating Milestones

Yesterday in my sermon, I mentioned briefly that this year marked my 25th year in full-time ministry and I gave glory to God for upholding me in His service. if I were going to hold a party to celebrate I would certainly invite my good friend, the pastor of the church to celebrate with me. He is one of my oldest friends in the ministry. It is incredible that I will reach such a milestone, a quarter of a century long in the Lord's service. I will say like Jacob of old did: Katonti katonti (I am not worthy) of all Your grace and truth. I am not worthy of all Your blessings but I can affirm the truth of God's promise - "If you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things will be added to you". I never sought financial security or material blessings in my 25-year ministry. A good friend over lunch on Saturday told me that it was financial folly (he later re-phrased that I could teach a course "financial dependence on God") in my first 15 years of ministry when I had less than 2 months' salary savings in my bank account.