Friday, June 28, 2019

Power to Enjoy (Ecclesiastes 6:2)

A man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honour, so that he lacks nothing of all he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them; this is vanity; it is a sore affliction (Ecclesiastes 6:2). Later in the passage the preacher says that if he does not enjoy life's good things... (6:3) the Preacher thinks an untimely birth is better off than him. The book of Ecclesiastes is probably the most philosophical book in the Bible, telling us about life and all its vanities. Through its perceived pessimism the Preacher is a realist fully grounded in the world with all its joys and hardships.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Friendships & Sacrifice

I have had a fruitful 3 days where I wrote more than 3,000 words and now moving into chapter 12 of John's Gospel. I read somewhere that in one's old age, the most important thing is relationships with family and friends. I have tried my best to keep my side of the bargain with my family despite none of them is a believer except my niece. I made some effort to have dinner with my youngest brother when he came back from Australia recently and it was good time of catching up. Last night I invited an old friend to dinner. I saw them in church last Sunday and it must have been 5 or 6 years the last I met them. Since retired from teaching, they returned to West Malaysia but for all intents and purposes they are Sabahans as they had spent a good part of 30 years in the State. When I was pastor of my home church he was an influential deacon who served for several terms as Treasurer of the church. He was also a good preacher and teacher of God's Word. He holds a double degree in finance and management.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Restarting John’s Gospel commentary

After 19 months of stoppage I have restarted my commentary on John’s Gospel. For a long time I was stuck at John 11:5 but in the past 2 days of almost non stop writing I have reached John 11:52 and will soon proceed to John 12. I suppose there was a parallel when I last preached in my home church November 2017. After that sermon I spent almost 7 weeks without ministry interruption in writing 70,000 words and managed to lecture on the Gospel of John when the new year 2018 started.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Motorcycles & Motorcars

Between bikes and cars what do you choose? My former student who is in his final year now texted me last night and asked me to interpret Rev 12. That took me almost 3 years of research but I texted back in about 150 words and gave him short interpretive clues and answers. When I asked him how he was he told me he had an accident last week and broke his shoulder bone. Ouch! I was saddened as I often prayed for motorbike riders especially couples with children to ride in a car instead. First, it is dangerous on a bike on Malaysian and Sabah’s roads filled with potholes and unevenness.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Taking Rest in Affluence (Isaiah 32:18 LXX)

Since I purchased my Bible translated by Nicholas King (Oxford Professor) I have been really blessed with the readings. King translated the Bible from the OG (Old Greek or LXX) for the OT and the Greek NT. I usually read NKJV or RSV for my devotions and both these versions are translated from the Hebrew MT for the OT. This morning I read several chapters of Isaiah and my eyes came upon Isaiah 32:17-18 about the effect of the works of righteousness. At the end of the verse, the LXX says that the end result of righteousness is “take their rest in affluence”. God is no miser. For those who have sacrificed their lives unto Him, He is able to care for. I just told my close friend that for 14 years of my full-time ministry (30-44 years old) I never held more than 2 or 3 months’ salary of savings, that is I never had more than RM10,000 in my account, in fact much less. As for me, the sacrifice to God is total commitment and giving up of everything to pursue what God commands, not holding back but to leave everything and follow Christ.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Leaders as Jewels and Precious Stones

I only managed to make one point in my Sunday sermon last week. That leaders are precious stones and jewels. I used the text of Haggai where Zerubbabel is called a signet ring of the Lord. I referred to the two pillars which stood right in front of the holy place of Solomon’s temple. The two pillars are about 35 feet in height which is about the length of 5 or 6 men. The top of the pillar is an elaborate bowl of intricate designs and decorations. I used the text of Galatians to say Peter, James and John were known as pillars of the church, so also the words of Jesus that whoever overcomes will become a pillar in the house of his God. Then I went back to refer to Joshua the high priest who was given a precious stone with 7 eyes and a crown of silver and gold was made and put on his head. Why all these jewels and precious stones have to do with leaders?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Leadership Seminar & Father’s Day

In the past couple of months I have made several forays in ministry as much as my busiest times in previous years. In my third day after my weekend ministry I am still feeling the effects physically and mentally that I need to recover. Driving back and forth Mount Kinabalu is a challenge to any mid 50s person let alone conducting a seminar from 8.40 am to 4pm. I felt so tired by 2pm that I had to walk out of the church to take a breather before restarting. Early Sunday morning I was already up and preparing for the sermon in my homechurch. I was asked how long one should preach and my answer  was according to the situation both within the preacher and the congregation.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Up the Mountains

I texted and asked “is anyone going up to the mountain with me?” I am looking for Joshuas as the namesake followed Moses up the mountain and waited for him for 40 days. Early tomorrow morning God willing I shall be driving up to Mount Kinabalu and I hope to reach the church by 8.40am in order to start at 9am. I will proceed to give two long lectures in the morning and two shorter ones in the afternoon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Power of the Word

If I didn’t believe in the power of the Word I would have not agreed to preach this Sunday in my home church. The last time I preached in my home church was 19 months ago. What can you do with one sermon? It is like droplets of water hitting the rock without much effect or impact. But the Word of God is powerful. I have had barely 10 days to prepare and thankfully I was almost done with my day long leadership seminar this Saturday. I would have preferred a latter date but the senior pastor said that was the only available slot and I took it. God is able to cause stones to become children of Abraham.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pressing On & Going Forward

The last couple of months have been as hectic as ever. After the Good Friday-Easter services where I preached three long sermons I have been kept busy. I thought I might just wind down and lay low for a while but I have not stopped preaching since and conducting seminars. Last Sunday I preached my second sermon on giving after the first sermon three weeks ago and it brought some fireworks in the congregation. Some leaders might have a sense of unease I went on but I told them before hand that they might not like what they were going to hear. Thank God that the chairman is good friend of 20 years and whether he agrees with what I preached or not I trust we remain friends. I told the church that fund raising dinners and faith pledges are not biblical and not God pleasing ways to raise funds.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Coffee & Community

The past several months have been really hot. Room temperatures are over 33 degrees Celsius. So to keep cool and in working condition I stay in cafes and McDonalds. Sometimes I order a coffee and sit there for 2 or 3 hours typing on my computer. It's either preparing for sermon or seminar or writing commentary on some biblical book. Coffee is where I get my inspiration. It is the ambience and social setting that keeps me going. Today I went to a Coffee shop without aircon and when I asked for the bill I was told that it was paid and some young lady waived to me across the tables. I did not go to thank her because the shop was crowded. I just waved back and smiled and said a short prayer of thanksgiving. I don't even know who she was - is she church member or someone I counselled for marriage some years ago? It reminded me of a Ranau friend who works a chef in one of the restaurants.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Woman’s Conference 2019

It must be God’s will I attended the women’s conference last night. I met a former church member who was working at a mall supermarket and she called me “pastor” and told me she went to the conference the night before and asked whether I would be going. She was a member of my Ranau church in 2015. She was only Form 2 then but now a young working adult. I duly rushed home and drove 16kms to the Conference venue in Penampang. We were only 15 minutes late (7.45pm) but we were met with a couple of ushers who I knew. One of them was a former student in Melangkap where I started my ministry in 1994. While rushing into the hall I managed to catch up and found out that she was married with one child. She must have been only 17 or 18 when we first met. Inside the Hall that could seat 5,000 people, I was ushered to the front by a young man. He seemed to know me well, perhaps from the Youth Conference where I was preacher in 2016. But there was no more seat in front but one and he insisted that I seat right there with our Vice President. I was embarrassed to say the least since I have no titles or positions. When I sat down I whispered to my Vice President that if the President turned up I would move back and vacate my seat.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Future & Faith

I could almost title this post as Future and Fate. As Christians we don't believe in fate but in a God who foreordains and predestines that we should be conformed into the image of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. Be a perfect man or woman, then be like Jesus Christ the man or personhood in perfection. After more than 6 months of tendering my notice of resignation and a year since informing my former College of my impending departure, my future is no less clear than it was before.

Monday, June 3, 2019

What makes a preacher?

After a busy fortnight I was glad that yesterday I could go to worship on Sunday without the care of preaching. What makes a preacher? In recent months and years I rarely come across a preacher who is anointed and powerful to move hearts and minds. John Sung, the Chinese evangelist who converted tens of thousands once said, "Unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit you should not preach!" Why so few are filled with the Holy Spirit these days?