Saturday, August 31, 2019

Without a Teaching Priest (2 Chr 15:3)

Tonight I will be preaching on the above text. It has been a struggle whole week even up to last night I wasn't sure what I wanted to speak on. But early this morning it came through - thanks be unto God. A freedom to serve where you want to go is indeed a blessing; not dependent on anyone or any church- to prove one is indeed God's servant and not of men. As Paul says twice in Galatians and 1 Thes that he was called to please God and not men and that it is God who tests our hearts. Why is 2 Chr 15 so important?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Building the Church & Buildings

Tomorrow I shall be travelling again. Not so far compared to last week but it will be about 90mins' drive on reasonably good roads. The church that invited me is one of the few churches in Sabah that invited me to speak during my time in Singapore. I can say that I am close to several church leaders there. Having started in the Taginambur District of Kota Belud I am no stranger to many churches in this area. It is one of our denomination's strongholds with about 100 churches in a cluster of 4 Districts. Some of these churches are big that can seat close to 1,000 people.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Proroguing Parliament: Brexit

I rarely venture into politics in my blog but in the past couple of months I have been following the process of Brexit closely. I like Boris Johnson if only because he was a graduate of "the greats" (Classics) from Oxford University. I tend to admire people with a classical education especially those who can read Ancient Greek and quote from Pericles. And I wish Boris Johnson well in his latest decision in suspending parliament or proroguing the House of Commons. I am interested in Constitutional Law; in fact I taught the Federal Constitution of Malaysia for two years (2017-2018). But Britain does not have a written constitution though most commonwealth Constitutions are derived from British conventions, customs, rule of law, an independent judiciary, democratic principles and parliamentary sovereignty to name a few. It is a fascinating clash between Leavers and Remainers. Leavers (Johnson's cabinet) will contend that what they had done was within constitutional framework of democracy. Parliament had been in session for more than 3 years and it is time for a refresh with a new government and the Queen's Speech on the 14th October 2019 will set the tone for the domestic (and foreign) agenda of the Johnson's government for the next 3 years before the next General Election.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Glorious Weekend

For the first time I recorded in video for about 2 minutes my journey to Kiau Nuluh, a village about 20 mins from the main road from KK to Ranau. I did not realise it was that far into the foot of Mount Kinabalu. But the Superintendent was very gracious and he said I was on time though I was late for 15 minutes. We started forthwith and I spent about 5 hours in all to explain Matthew 24 on Jesus’ teaching about the End time.  If I had 8 or 10 hours I might try the book of Revelation, so there could be another seminar  next year in the same District. About 150 people turned up, double more than I expected and the glorious thing was that there were 40 youths or so with many women and men as well. At 4pm I was sent forth with blessings of rice, vegetables, pineapples, and several kinds of fruits. My truck at the back was filled with the good gifts of the Lord through his people.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Charisma of Leadership

Now secluded in my house for more than half a year (Ezekiel's 390 days bound-up are still a way to go), I looked up some old photos 3 or 4 years ago. If there is anything I am convinced of after almost 25 years in ministry is that any organization or movement needs a leader or leadership to get it going or achieves its potential and vision. Now nearing Malaysia's National Day on 16th September 2019 (31st August is Malaya's Independence Day), I saw a dimly shot photo of me leading an all night prayer's meeting. In fact it was a first time I went through praying from 9pm to 6am the next day. I was senior pastor of a Ranau church and the chairman of pastors' fellowship. We had 18 pastors in our fellowship with about 10 more churches in Ranau district without a pastor. I initiated and together with a fellow pastor went round the villages promoting the event and drop flyers in about 10 villages. The response was overwhelming as 340 people gathered that night at the SIB Pekan Ranau church and we began our National Day's prayers at 9pm, 15th Sept 2015.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

New Man, New Purpose

As I was driving down to KK city centre this morning, I felt a sense of exhilaration in my car as I was listening to spiritual songs and worshipping the Lord. I felt a sense of newness - a new man in Christ (2 Cor 5) and a sense of renewed purpose and mission. My 2nd hand Triton just clocked 90,000 kms since I bought it 5 years ago at 25,000kms. I did about 51,000kms in my 49 months in Ranau & Namaus Bible College. Now from this week onwards I shall be travelling into the interior again; first to Kinabalu to conduct an end time seminar and then the following week to Kota Belud. In the third week of September I shall be heading north (Rungus & Dusuns of Kudat) before turning south in the last week of the month preaching among the Lundayehs and Muruts of Sipitang.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Commentary on John 1-12

I know I have been procrastinating since I got back from Singapore almost 3 weeks ago. A sermon on 11th August took some time to prepare but it is not an excuse not to keep working. So for the past week or so, I had managed to complete the commentary on John 12. Writing on John 11-12 took me almost half a year since I resigned from the Bible College. And also in the past 6 months I also wrote a short commentary on the Song of Songs (22,000 words). I wrote the commentary on John 1-10 over 2 months non-stop at the end of 2017 during which time I only took two Christmas speaking engagements, one in KK and then preached 3 times at the Sandakan's Community Town Hall.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Enjoying All Good Things (Ecclesiastes)

I have lived with frugality almost all my life. Except in my late teens when I did not have a clue how to manage money, I blew away my savings from my scholarship from which I learned a big lesson. Spending money is easy but earning money is difficult. Borrowing money is easy but repaying debts is difficult. I try to live as frugally as possible. In my recent trip to Singapore to attend Trinity Lectures I only spent SGD10.00 to buy a Bible for my fellow pastor in Sabah. I resisted the temptation to visit my favourite bookstores at Ngee Ann City. In my six years in Singapore I hardly spent on anything except the day to day expenses. I was concerned how to get my son through University and all my six years' salary was used to support his studies first at Otago Boys' High School and then at Otago University.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Famine at the Hearing of the Words of the Lord (Amos 8:11)

I struggled much for a whole week before delivering the message yesterday at a church’s 20th anniversary. I was invited because when they first started as an official local church 15 years ago I was the District Superintendent and basically helped the leaders to establish a proper functioning church council and I also conducted a leadership seminar at a retreat for them. It’s been a while though I had preached in their 2017 Christmas service. I preached about ecclesiology, about what a mature church should look like or ought to be doing. I preached mostly from 1 Corinthians 11-14. I told the audience that the church is the body of Christ but with many members, members from every tribe and nation. I quoted Paul’s exhortation to the Roman church to accept everyone and not be too scrupulous about inconsequential things like drinks, foods, and sabbaths. Then I said every member is spiritually gifted and a mature church will recognise these gifts and get everyone working together for the common good.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Many will fall away (apostasy)

This is a generation of apostasy. Paul the apostle says in 2 Thes that there will be these two signs before Jesus’ coming. First, many will fall away and then the man of lawlessness will be revealed. The word “fall away” comes from the Greek word apostasia which in English is apostasy. Only true believers call fall away. If a person has never believed then he is not a believer in the first place. I see apostasy happening among Christians.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Reading Revelation in Greek

In the past two days I have been reading the book of Revelation in Greek using the UBS 5th edition. I also have the Nestle-Aland 28th edition but the latter is on the shelf and used also occasionally as it is bulkier with giant print. But the book of Revelation is an amazing book, the only one that comes with a blessing just by reading it (Rev 1:1-3). But I am reading it for a refresher and also as preparation for two end-time seminars that I shall be conducting this month and next. The organisers for the Sept seminar had texted and reminded me to give the titles of my talks. That Kudat trip will see me preaching twice on Friday night and Sunday morning service before heading back to KK. Energy wise I am not sure whether I am up to it with all the travelling and driving alone is not the most ideal form of journeying for Christ as the early disciples went out two by two.

Friday, August 2, 2019

What is Hospitality? (Part 2)

I must have inadvertently pressed "publish" instead of "save" in my previous post on hospitality. Lot was prepared to risk the virginity of his daughters because of the sacrosanct oriental culture of hospitality. People whom one receives at home comes under the host's protection and Lot was not prepared to break this cultural dictate even for his daughters. We may debate on the wisdom of Lot's offer to the Sodomites but we could not but be impressed with his defence of hospitality that he has afforded his guests. It means that Lot did not bail out on his guests to leave early or worse chased out of the house. Perhaps it is one reason that the messengers of God were touched by Lot's hospitality that they acceded to his request to run to a small place near the city instead of the one demanded by the angels. Oftentimes we have to consider whether the offer of hospitality is sincere or love-driven instead of being hypocritical.

What is hospitality?

The letter to the Hebrews has this interesting verse that we should never slack in hospitality because one could entertain angels unaware. Perhaps it is a reference to Genesis 18 where Abraham ran and persuaded the three strangers to come and rest a while at his tent. The Greek word “angel” means messenger and sometimes it is not clear whether it is heavenly messenger or human messenger. By the time of Isaiah 44 and Haggai, prophets are seen as “angels” or “messengers” of God. That means by showing hospitality to strangers one might welcome a prophet of God and he can speak a word of truth or wisdom to the person showing hospitality just like Abraham received the promise of a son with Sarah or that Lot was saved from destruction of Sodom by the hospitality shown to the two messengers of God. What is hospitality? Hospitality is kindness in action and involves welcoming and accepting a person into our personal space either into our lives, our homes and our possessions. It is not mere words. How are you? Or good to see you means near to nothing if not followed by action. If that person is not even worth an offering of a drink or cup of water then greeting him means nothing or it is showing lack of hospitality.  Abraham ran to meet the three men. Abraham showed great imitative. He did not wait for people to come to him but he made an effort to meet the needs of others, especially travellers and foreigners as God’s Word repeatedly emphasises in the law of Moses. Show hospitality to strangers even as you were strangers in Egypt, says the Lord. Hospitality means welcoming the person into your personal space. One has to take time to receive others and oftentimes it means at least a meal is offered before the stranger goes on his way. Sometimes it involves staying overnight as in the case of Lot’s offer to the two men whom he saw in the city square. Welcoming someone especially strangers into one’s home involves a degree of risk. It involves a degree of vulnerability on the part of the host. It involves efforts and actions to meet the needs of those who come into our dwelling for a least a night or two. Abraham commanded Sarah to prepare the best meal for his visitors. He was not stingy in hospitality and set out a sumptuous meal for his guests. Lot risked the wrath of local inhabitants when he took in the two messengers of God. He was prepared to risk his own daughters

Bible & Hospitality

My former student who is currently doing a PhD asked me whether I would attending next year’s Conference on the Bible & Hospitality. As it will be in Kuala Lumpur, costs should not be a problem though the schedule of ministry will determine whether I will make it or not. Hospitality is an important theme in the whole Bible. From Abraham and Lot in Genesis to Exodus and Numbers, God reminds His people that showing hospitality, not just to friends but also to strangers is part of knowing Him. God judges nations that refused to show hospitality to Israel in their wilderness wandering. When I travel I am a recipient of hospitality of those whom I visit. I thank God for friends and if there was anything I took from my Singaporean trip it was that from the first evening, then breakfast and lunch, friends came by and hosted me. One friend even offered to take me from the hotel to attend the Trinity lectures on both nights but seeing how far he had to travel from Jurong East, I turned down his offer for the second night. Taking the MRT from my hotel to the College took 40 minutes.