Monday, October 26, 2020

Emergency Averted: Power of Prayer

Could it be a coincidence? We ended our 8-day Prayer Chain (Doa Berantai) at 6pm last Friday where we prayed round the clock, one hour each with about 30 church members taking part. News began to flash that the Prime Minister of Malaysia with his entourage were heading to the King's palace in Kuantan as our current King is from the State of Pahang. So throughout the week-end we continued to pray ending with our Sunday service's intercession yesterday for the King and the nation. In just over 6 hours, we received the good news that the proposed Emergency proclamation had been averted.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

"Do not Judge before the Time"

Solon, the great ancient Greek philosopher opined that no one should be called good when he is still alive. This means one's life has to be judged when one passes away and has completed one's life on earth. Even then for Christians, we should not judge before the time as the Lord is the judge of all and He knows the hearts of men, whether good or bad (John 2:25). While living on earth, often the one motivation that drives people is "honour" and this honour is man's honour, that is honour given by his peers or fellow human beings. There is nothing wrong in that if done right, though as the weakness of the fallen human nature should remind us to be wary lest as Jesus warned that the Pharisees sought honour/glory from one another, but not the honour/glory that came from God (John 5:44). Exactly a chapter before (John 4:44), Jesus says that, "a prophet has no honour in his own country".

Monday, October 19, 2020

Faith & Financial Management

I learned my lessons young, thanks be to God! I realised in my early 20s how easy it was to spend money and how difficult it was to save or repay debts. I graduated and began work with a RM60,000.00 study loan. At first, I did not think much about it but two years into paying down the loan, I realised that it was not easy to pay off debts when one has many other financial commitments. But thanks be to God, and as a Christian I would sum up my financial management experience as "faith & worldly wisdom". It is a combination of believing and trusting in God, yet when making financial decisions, especially in taking loans or debts, a big dose of worldly wisdom is needed. So after repaying all my debts and financing my own theological education, I started full-ministry with practically nothing.

Departure Points (1994-2019)

These are the departure points since I was called into full-time ministry: "Moses recorded their starting-points in writing whenever they moved on at Yahweh's command" (Numbers 33:2)

1) Melangkap, Kota Belud (2 hours from Kota Kinabalu) 1 Year (1994-1995)

2) Wisma SIB, Guest Room (KK) 6 months (1996)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

New Zealand - Is the Lord calling?

I must say 12 years ago I would jump at the chance of going to New Zealand and serve the Lord there. So when I resigned in 2008 from my pastorate of my homechurch in KK, the first thing I did was to buy a ticket to New Zealand. My son was already there in his Year 13 (Upper Six), but it happened that I was called or re-called to Asia, to Singapore where I stayed for 6 years. When my Kiwi friend who just recently connected with me through Instagram, and he asked me where I was serving. When I told him that I was serving this new church called, SIB Indah Permai, he replied that no wonder my book was named as "Departure Points". As for my friend, he had stayed put in one ministry in one place since his graduation in 1995, all 25 years in one position. I graduated a year earlier though we entered first year at the same time, but I must have moved at least 10 times in 10 places.

Friday, October 16, 2020

A Sabbath from Preaching

It was a mighty relief once I asked to be relieved of my preaching duty this Sunday. I have been preaching three Sundays in a row which was a first time for me since becoming the pastor of the church. If I count the sermons for prayer meetings (twice) and a wake service, I have preached six times in the past 3 weeks. No wonder my mind is telling me to take a break and in fact a friend suggested as much. As preaching takes much time in preparation, reading the biblical texts, praying before the Lord for wisdom, understand the situation of the local church and the members' needs, it is spiritual burden. No wonder the priests of old were said to be ministering the burden of the congregation and it is a burden one has to bear and it can be relentless like in the past month.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Surviving the Plague

Covid-19 is a plague that has come to test humankind and nations on earth. The State of Sabah was almost clear of active Covid-19 cases until early September when the all the activities and campaigning for the State's Election took place. Twice in my sermon I had hinted strongly that I was not going to vote (it isn't compulsory to vote in Malaysia) but at the end I did. Did not Moses give up everything to suffer afflictions with His people? Last Saturday when I ministered in a wake service I realised I was taking considerable risks because of the confined space and the amount of time we spent inside the house to comfort the bereaved. Then I thought of John Calvin in the 16th century who also ministered to the sick when plague struck Geneva and he did not shy away from ministry just because of some disease. Interestingly, in Calvin's times, church services were never closed and only those infected were quarantined at home.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Double Sabbath

When you work double time, sometimes you deserve a double Sabbath. It is not that we are worthy as we are all unworthy servants and we do not look for commendation or praise from men. Yet from the MCO period which started last Wednesday, it had been one of my busiest weeks, not least in the last 48 hours leading to Sunday. I recorded a sermon for Friday, the first audio recording for about 4 months, which took me much longer than anticipated. Then, on Saturday morning I recorded my sermon for Sunday and that took two hours of my time in church but at least two or three days in preparation. I have a friend or two who thinks my work is easy or less hard than their so-called professions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Staying at Home

It was good that today is the start of the Movement Control Order. I stayed at home whole day. It's like an enforced Sabbatical. Simple lunches and eggs on toast for dinner. And I felt more productive than usual. More time at home means more time reading the Bible, worshipping and praying. I actually suggested that this Sunday's sermon be cancelled and we all enjoy a rest since there will be so many online services to watch. Sometimes the impact of church closure is not felt if we provide online services causing the members to feel comfortable and sooner or later some will feel contented and not a few have told me they now prefer to stay at home and watch the services. But I was persuaded to carry on in view of the wishes of the majority. I will either continue my series on Ephesians or leadership. But at least today, I read through my forthcoming book and revised it a fair bit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Floods & Incessant Rain

A friend texted me and jokingly blamed me for preaching on "Ask of Me - Rain!" (Zech 10:1). Rain it did in Sabah for about 16 hours non-stop from midnight Sunday to 4pm Monday. Many areas in the West coast and Kota Kinabalu were flooded. A number of bridges that I had crossed were swept away and many villages became inaccessible as a result. I thank God that I am holding onto my 4-wheel pick-up with high ground clearance. I had paid for it cash when I bought it second hand 6 years ago. Since it is not a financial burden except for the usual maintenance, now with the floods and incessant rains for the past several weeks had convinced me to hold on to my car as long as possible.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Ask for Rain; Sheep without a Shepherd (Zechariah 10:1-2)

"Who is adequate for all these?, says Paul the apostle". Yesterday by 7.20am I was already in church for our 9am service after having about 3 or 4 hours of sleep. It was the longest 48 hours from Friday onwards with fake news and much happening around me. After my message that lasted about 32 minutes which was shorter than usual, one deacon asked me how I managed to preach and prepare my slides under the circumstances. I had to gather the leaders 10 minutes before the service started and spent about 20 minutes with them and we decided from next week we are ceasing church services once more due to the rising Covid-19 cases. In my sermon I mentioned that Sabah's cases could rise to 500 to 600 a day and just this evening we had news that Malaysia's toll now stands at 432 cases in 24 hours. Sabah's cases are not much more than yesterday but we expect the Covid-19 infections to rise in the next few days.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Last Quarter 2020

It is the last quarter of 2020. In the beginning of the year I was fired up to preach about setting and achieving our goals for the new decade and coming to this final quarter, my enthusiasm has not diminished. My young teenagers' group is still going strong. My personal goal of writing another book is coming to fruition, though I am not sure whether I can get it published at the end of the year or sometime 2021. There are many considerations going into publishing a book in Sabah. As far as my book, Departure Points is concerned, I am truly glad for the feedback thus far. Within the last 12 hours, I received news from New Zealand and also a Singaporean friend who had requested a copy.