Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Day After

Sometimes it is good to have some time to mull over things. It’s just been 24 hours but my momentous occasion has passed and gone. I received a couple of messages that warmed my heart today. Perhaps a sign that I am now a senior myself I was invited to preach in two revival meetings down south at the end of next month organized by the men’s or seniors’ fellowship. It will be just a week after my trip north to preach twice and also a whole day seminar. What does it have to do with my happy occasion? I rejoice in the Lord because doors of ministry have opened up more and more. Some people who don’t have my number called the HQ to connect with me. Who is my mother? Who is my brother and who is my sister? Are they not those who listen to God’s Word and do the Father’s will?

It’s Done!

Several times in the book of Revelation these words appear, “it’s done!” God seems to have a sense of finality when He observes how His will and plans are carried in the end time. I have crossed a threshold of sorts yesterday. Three friends including a couple from New Zealand shared a lunch with me. I met them in 1994 in Auckland when he was on Sabbatical while I was in my finals at Auckland University. It was good to have a time of fellowship and we adjourned for coffee and buns in the another place. Now I am on a sort of sabbatical. I told my friend that I was in semi retirement but he was shocked because according to him I looked younger than him. Perhaps I have retired from my previous form of ministry but the Lord calls and recommissions me to another ministry.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Paul and his Friends

Paul the apostle must be a friendly person. He greeted more than 30 people at the end of his letter to the Roman church. I used that this morning as I shared lunch with 7 of my former students. It happened that they were in town for a course. Two of the first names of Romans 16 are women, Phoebe and then Priscilla and her husband. Interesting that in a patriarchal society of the 1st century Paul actually mentioned two women first and then men. He went on to name another 8 women making a total of 10 women whose names are now enshrined in Scripture.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The End is Near

The day is nearer than you think, so says Paul the apostle. Last Friday I witnessed the launch of the neuralink technology where chips could be implanted to the brain to create a symbiosis between machine and man. It's scary stuff and we are nearer to the day when the number of 666 will be implanted or stamped in the foreheads or at the right hands (Rev 13:18). So it serves as a spur for me to conduct end-time seminars perhaps instead of twice a year, three or four times a year. It's likely that I will doing exactly that next month and also in September in two different Districts, one at the foot of Mount Kinabalu and one in the far north. It also confirms what I mentioned to the pastor and elders of the church on Sunday that as long as the doors of ministry are open for me, I will hang around. The spiritual malaise of today is not just in Sabah or Borneo but worldwide. As Amos prophesied there will be times, not famine of food or drink but of hearing the word of the Lord.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Something must be Right

It was the fourth time in a row that straight after I preached I was invited back. Last night I received confirmation that the place I went to conduct a leadership seminar last month wanted me to conduct an End-Time seminar next month in another church but in the same District. Yesterday I was invited to conduct a seminar on how to preach. It was affirmation when people heard you preach and asked that they be taught the art of preaching. I never think much about it. If I boast I boast in the Lord that it is the gift and anointing operating fully when I deliver God's Word. God sees the heart and God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows He has called us to bear fruits, fruits that last and fruits that are everlasting. "God does not make mistakes".

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Revival Sermons

I read in several books about the church in China that they expect the preacher to preach for at least 2 hours and sometimes for 3 hours. I think these are revival sermons where expectancy and faith are high and people hunger for the Word. This morning I preached for 1 hour and 15 mins and I wished I could go on for 20 more minutes. I got 21 slides but stopped at slide no. 15. Basically two third of the sermon done. I experienced that in Papar and also in Likas my home church when both times I had to cut short my sermon as I sensed it may be a bit long for some. I felt the anointing strong speaking on the theme Jesus is Lord; first the nature of Jesus’ lordship, his deity and his relationship with God the Father.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Celebrations & Milestones

Yesterday I had a wonderful time of worship and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. It was in a small church that I had preached 3 times this year, more than in any other church this year. When we sang the worship song before the sermon, "Kusiapkan hatiku untuk mendengar FirmanMu" my tears flowed and I had to bow my head and wipe my eyes dry several times. This song was one of my favourite some 30 years ago especially when I first started my ministry 25 years ago. The line in Malay means, "I prepare my heart to listen to Your Word". It encapsulates my life and ministry, often times waiting to hear God's Word either as preacher or worshipper before the sermon is preached. Speaking of milestones and landmarks, I had the privilege of sitting beside a senior leader of our denomination who had served as Vice President and Secretary General in the 1980s. He told me that he had been in full-time for 50 years having begun in 1969!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Blogging as Solace & Meditation

I have been at it for 12 years now. Since May 2006 when I started blogging I have found my niche. If I did not stop one year in 2011 I would have a lot more readers now. But I am content. The few that come on my site I hope that they are blessed and encouraged by what they find here. Today I saw in my daily stats that there are three countries from South America, Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia. Two from Middle East including Iraq. On occasions even from Africa. But the most frequent readers are from Asia, North America, Europe and this year more and more Australians.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Preacher & Scholar

It's hard to focus on writing when one has preaching to do. No wonder most scholars don't preach and most preachers don't write and publish. Each to his calling and gifts. Yet I know in my life things are not so simple - not so black or white. I can preach well because I am a scholar. I write well and comment on Scripture because I am a preacher. I remember that it was in Sabah in my 2nd year of my PhD when I was invited to preach a series of 7 sermons on the book of Revelation that the main thesis of doctoral study came to fruition. Writing and preaching should inform one another. In my extended Sabbatical, sometimes I wish I could just go away. Perhaps spend a fortnight in Europe, sitting and listening to papers on the Bible. Perhaps fly away to New Zealand and spend some time with my son.

Monday, July 8, 2019

European Bible Conferences

When I saw the full programme of IOSOT (International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament) I felt a tinge of regret that I withdrew my paper accepted for presentation at the said Congress in Aberdeen next month. I saw a host of scholars from all over the world and some of the big names are presenting short papers. I can still go as an attendee but not as a presenter. It's been three years since I attended an academic Conference. It was almost a perfect symmetry of sorts when I started in 2006 at Peking University where I presented a paper on Father-Son relationships in the book of Genesis: Foundations for a Harmonious Society. Then in 2010 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and in 2013 at Murdoch University, Perth for the SNTS Society of New Testament Studies. In Perth, it was most enjoyable sitting in the same seminar room as Tom Wright (yes, NT Wright) and John Collins of Yale University. And then to top it up I sat next to Prof Richard Hays (author of the famous text, "Echoes of Scriptures in Paul") on a bus to the venue.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Trinity Lectures 29.7.19-1.8.19

When I got the news of the Trinity lectures a couple of months ago I have been praying to the Lord to open the way to attend the said lectures. I actually had lunch with the speaker, an Oxford University Professor in Biblical Exegesis 7 years ago in his previous visit to TTC. The topic about the absence and presence of Jesus in Paul's understanding is fascinating.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Being Bilingual

I don’t have a gift for languages but I am a bilingual. To be a true bilingual one has to not just speak but write well in two languages. In Singapore I only preached thrice in Malay in my 6 years there in two Indonesian services. Now back in Sabah I have only spoken twice in English but with more than 200 sermons in Malay over 5 years. That makes me by God’s grace a true bilingual. I have written many lectures notes in Malay and have taught in seminaries in Malay for 5 years. Now I am into chapter 12 of John’s gospel commentary, all 60,000 words and counting in Malay. Last Sunday I preached in Malay as I have always preached in Sabah for 19 years. I did not miss a beat. When the anointing flowed, my Malay is as good as my English perhaps even more so because Malay is a very direct and impactful language.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Record of Documents

I tend to be a keeper of records and documents. I have 7 or 8 large files filled with documents from 20 years ago. Though I have very few documents which I kept during my time as Treasurer General except for the final two years of audited accounts which showed a 49% increase church income in 1996-1998. Even during the financial crisis of 1997-1998 the Lord poured out his blessings on His church. I often tell people that God's servants are recession proof and God's church is always protected from the economic downturns of the day. But last night and this morning I searched high and low for a document which I needed but could not find.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Preaching in Papar

I ended the first half of the year with a bang. My wife and I travelled to Papar which is exactly one hour's drive from KK but the village church took another 25 mins to reach. We were met in Papar town and the chairman and his wife were kind to invite us for breakfast and we drove to the church just after 9am. It was supposed to be 9.30 am start but the meeting started at 10am and I preached at 11.20 am.  I must have preached for 1 hour and 5 mins as I did not once look at my watch until the end. As there were a number of Mother's and Father's Day celebrations events on so the church service went up to 1.15pm and we had lunch fellowship until just past 2.10pm before we drove home. We stopped by KK city for satay and reached home at 4pm. It was 11 hours since I got up at 5am to prepare for the sermon. Nowadays as much as I try not to preach too long I try not to rush since I spent several days in preparation and hours on the road. I want to make my sermon count.