Thursday, June 25, 2020

"Show Yourself to the World" (John 7)

Jesus' brothers thought that Jesus was being pretentious for hiding in a small corner of Galilee, though he had moved from a small village of Nazareth to a town called Capernaum at the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Today I just turned down an invitation to teach at a seminary outside of Sabah, probably a third invitation in recent years from overseas. For one reason or another, it just did not work out. I am amazed at how little of the love for the truth in places where you would think truth is the main rationale of existence. Did not Jesus say, "Your word is truth" (John 17:17) and that "the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth" but how many people really want the truth or be led by the Spirit?. Established religion and institutions could well be working against God's purposes. Rightly, God sees into the hearts of men. Though institutions may fail or have many failings, there could still be one or two righteous individuals in it. Did not Obadiah who served the wicked Ahab said to Elijah, "Did I not hide and feed 100 of the Lord's prophets?" So we see that it was not only Elijah but Obadiah who was a government official serving an apostate administration, but could still do a lot of good for God's servants.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Study Room Set Up (2)

It is done! My study room set up is complete. All my books are put into book shelves. The first time in 14 years that I managed to accomplish such a feat. I would have done it earlier during the beginning of the MCO, but then my laptop broke down. I put on hold my purchase of book shelves thinking that I needed money to repair or buy a new computer. I did buy a new laptop, a Surface laptop first generation with only 4GB and 128GB. Half of the memory is gone to download Windows 10 Pro but I am enjoying many new features in the Office suite apps. One thing I liked is the design suggestions for power-point slides. I am mighty pleased that my study room is finally set up. I just have a few boxes of photocopy of notes and journal articles from my time at Otago University. It's been exactly 20 years ago but I am keeping them since I am beginning to write on the book of Revelation.

Friday, June 19, 2020

6 Years Ago in Singapore

From time to time, I checked the pageviews of this blog which re-started in 2012 (my first began in 2006). One stats that caught my eye is that the pageviews in Singapore are just slightly above Malaysia's. As I write it is likely the Malaysia will rise above Singapore in terms of pageviews. It does make me reflect on the fact that I was in Singapore 12 years ago and I have been back in Sabah in the past 6 years. I guess most of my readers are still from Singapore and my home country though I am pleased that USA and a number of European countries have caught up as well. Some years back (I don't remember exactly when) a French author emailed me about my book on Revelation and he told me that he had read my book more than 10 times! And he was reading it again when he wrote. No wonder, during those days, there were many French visitors who visited my blog and my guess is that this French author must have recommended my blog to his friends. One surprising thing (most won't believe this) is that I did not once refer to my blog when I wrote and published my "memoirs" late last year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Middle of the Year

It's coming to the middle of the year and in less than a couple of weeks, we will enter into the 2nd half of the 2020. The second quarter that is about to pass us by is a blur as we are bound at home during the Movement Control Order. There is still no news when churches can operate as normal. But as for me, it is good to stay at home to focus on writing lecture notes, first for my SIB Bible College in Namaus and then for an online course starting in August. As both courses focus on the book of Revelation (one in Malay and one in English), it will be a topic of interest, especially now after almost 20 years of study, I am now ready to write a book or commentary on the book of Revelation.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Work Station

I am determined to stay put. If not my investment to refurbish my study room will be futile. So now I have a work station. This morning was the second time I sat there all morning and got work done. I am writing notes on Revelation with a view of developing it into a commentary. But the sight in my room is mixed. Outside I see two of my mango trees. My rather large study has three windows and I like it that way. I still have about 7 boxes laying on the floor and I plan to shelve them as soon as I buy another big book shelf. I looked at the 27 inch Dell monitor and wondered how I was able to write two published books on an 13 inch laptop. My fingers were crammed and my hand is still hurting. Now I bought a keyboard on which typing is a breeze and enjoyable.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Departing & Departure Points

When I promoted my book to a lawyer friend some months back, he was taken aback by the title of my book, Departure Points. But I explained briefly to him that it is about my journey and my many departures from one place to another. I am not sure whether he bought a copy after that. When I rearranged my study room yesterday I realised why it had taken me 14 years before I could sit down and work in my room. It is because I have been departing and never was in one place long enough. Since I was 13 years ago when I left home to study in Singapore and then in the past 25 years of ministry I have been departing from one place to another. In my short 4 years in Ranau I received 4 appointments; the third I turned down for 2 months before the issue of remuneration was settled and I took up my 4th appointment for 2 and a half years before departing once more from Ranau back to Kota Kinabalu at the end of January 2019. Perhaps God meant for the MCO for good.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Study Room, a Work in Progress

My study room is a work in progress. My book shelf came in good time yesterday just before I headed to church to record my Sunday sermon. I packed about 200 books into one large shelf. It was the biggest there was in the furniture shop and if I buy another one, I may just fit everything into it. I hope to clear all clutter in my study room so that I have a nice place to work in. I have realised long time ago that it would not be cheap to maintain a scholarly life. It is not a matter of buying books which I don't do often nowadays. As Scripture says, "buy the truth and sell it not". Education is not cheap and a degree anywhere in the world besides one own country can cost up to no less than $500,000 ringgit. If you take it to the doctoral level, you are easily looking at spending MYR1 million. Is it worth it? If I count it in monetary terms and rewards, then it is not worth all the money. But it is the knowledge gained that matters. A University degree may not be essential but it is a modern vessel for knowledge in the last days in the world.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Study Room Set-Up

My 300 books from Singapore had arrived home three months ago. But all of my books are still lying on the floor, mostly in opened boxes. With my books from Namaus, I think I have another 150 books more making a total of 450 books scattered throughout my room. As my study room is in such a mess, I have been using my dining table for study in the past few weeks but I need to return to my study room to make it functional and a comfortable space to work in. I think I need at least 4 or 5 big book shelves to put up my books or if I have the money I could do up one side of my study room wall of about 12 feet right up to the 9-feet tall ceiling and it will probably stock up all my books. It is tempting to say the least. But with limited budget, after listening to the online service just now, I went out and bought a big book shelf which I will put up most of Hebrew and Greek texts and a few commentaries.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Tech, Computers & Gadgets

It was exactly ten years ago when I got myself the first generation Samsung Tablet 8-inch and used it throughout the duration of my stay in Singapore for preaching. I realised then and more so now that my eyesight was not as good as when I was in my 30s or early 40s and words in a tablet could be enlarged with touch and it helped a great deal even today when I preach. Obviously tech has advanced leaps and bounds over the decade but I did not get into the Apple system until I retired from TTC in mid 2014. It was a parting gift which I bought with my SGD1,000 gratuity for my 6 years of service. Since then I had used the MacOS in Apple for the past 6 years until about 2 months ago, my Mac laptop broke down and the authorised service centre quoted me a figure of RM2,200 for the repairs. I took my computer back for a whole month, mulling over whether I should spend the money fixing my Mac or that I should buy a new laptop, perhaps returning to PC (Windows).

Thursday, June 4, 2020

6th Week in the 6th Month

I have taken the plunge. I bought a 3-year old computer demo unit for less than half the price. This is 6th week since I was out of a working computer. I needed to write notes for my lectures at the SIB Bible College at the end of the month. Without a working computer, I can't work. The pen is mightier than the sword. But the sword of the Lord is the computer now, as I write sermons, power-points, lecture notes and perhaps even a new book soon. I have been restless. For the first six weeks of the MCO, I had to preach twice a week (to myself) in audio recording. But in the past 6 weeks, I preached only alternate Sundays and all the Friday slots for prayer meetings I had allocated to be taken up by deacons. I need to take a breather and prepare for my series of lectures and in 6 days' time I shall be preaching for the next Sunday's online service.

Monday, June 1, 2020

In the Midst of Year (Habakkuk)

"In the midst of the year, O Lord show mercy". I am entering something abnormal, which some call the new normal. I have been pastoring my congregation (Lord's church) under the Control Movement Order (later conditional) now as long as I have been a pastor when things were normal. It is exactly two and a half months each way when MCO came into effect on 18th March with only 77 days before and now it is coming to the 77th day of the CMO(C). It is not an unenviable task but many lessons are learned. First, members' data and personal details, especially phone numbers. We only have about 50 members' contacts but 3/4 of them are untraceable though in recent weeks, more than 200 people viewed the online services whom I imagined to be mostly my congregation plus a few other interested parties.