Thursday, December 30, 2021

Subsidy, Aid and Self-Reliance

After some unprecedented flooding in various States in West Malaysia, the government announced more aid in recent days. In the past 20 months since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the government had given handouts, subsidy and aid to all and sundry, especially the lower income groups. I have no doubt the poorest of the poor are helped and some disadvantaged people need handouts from time to time. But I doubt if we continue to dig into the nation's coffers and borrow more and more money, all these aid and subsidy will be sustainable in the medium to long term. It is important for the citizens of Malaysia not to depend on subsidy and aid.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

My Conversion Testimony

 *Malaysia Pastor, Tony Siew* (Translation from Chinese to English excerpt taken from Dr Tan Kim Sai's book "Gospelogy" Dec. 2006 pp.168-170). Many thanks to a friend in Singapore who did the translation for me.

This is a true story. Dr Tony Siew is a pastor  from Malaysia, Sabah. He serves in the English (not English but Malay-speaking) Congregation at Sidang Injil Church in Borneo. He shared with me, his testimony regarding his personal encounter with the Living God.

Encounter with the Risen Lord

I shared my conversion testimony with the Principal of Malaysia Bible Seminary, Klang (now in Rawang) in 1998 and I was gifted his book “Gospel and Mission” in 2007. To my surprise, he included my testimony of conversion in his book along with John Sung and a few others (I am not worthy) but as it is written in Chinese, until today I do not know what is written about me in the book. As I look forward to my 40th anniversary in Christ in 2022, I want to recount my conversion testimony once more. I was a 17 year—old law student at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. I arrived in NZ on the 1st March 1982 and on the 24th April I was converted which was my 55th day in NZ.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Against the Grain: Retirement Savings?

In the past couple of weeks while I watched over the re-tiling of my dining room, I had time to watch a number of financial management videos including on retirement savings. The more I watched, the more I realised that in my first 50 years of my life I was going against the grain. I only started saving money for retirement when I was 49 years old, not 29 as most videos suggested. It was in the last year of my sojourn in Singapore. My son in New Zealand had not graduated but in his final year. Since I know I might be returning home to Sabah, though many things were uncertain at the time, I realised I needed to save.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Week that Was

As we approach the last week of 2021 I want to reflect on what happened in the past week. In Greek you have the saying "kai egeneto" (and it happened). As believers who love the Lord and live in fellowship with Him, many things could happen as if per chance but it is God-arranged in fact. Two mornings ago I drove to town at 5.40am when dawn was breaking. The moon shone brightly as it was a full moon just a few days ago. It was as if the moon guided me throughout the 12kms drive to the city centre. I am obviously alluding to the Star that guided the wise men to come to Jesus from a faraway land. I took a copy of Departure Points with me and I said to myself that if I met someone I know I would give the book away for free. Lo and behold for more than 40 mins I saw no one familiar. Then I stood up to leave and while near the exit someone called out "pastor!".

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Building the Lord's House

Solomon took 7 years to build the Lord's house while for his own palace, Solomon took 13 years, almost double the time. Scholars and preachers have noted that could be an indication of Solomon's degree of devotion to the Lord that he cared more for his own house than the Lord's Temple. While all these 27 years, I have focused on building the Lord's house and for the first 14 years as a pastor, I owned no house but stayed from one place to another until 2007 that I moved into my own house. Shortly thereafter, I moved on to NZ (Feb-May 2008) and then to Singapore in June 2008. I have not lived in my house for more than a year until I came down from Ranau to KK on 31st January 2019.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

What if

In life there are many missed opportunities and rushed decisions that people who make them regret later. What if? Only if? I sit quietly before the Lord how suddenly I was removed from the house of the Lord. What if? If the elders had called me to discuss matters instead of deciding on their own and basically putting in front of me an ultimatum. Anyone with any self-respect with or without theological qualification or secular experience would have resigned on the spot.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Seniority, Experience & Skill

These three attributes are priceless in the professional world including the world of sports. Lewis Hamilton at 36 is an old hand in F1 and the one who won at the last race is 12 years younger but Hamilton could justly claim to have been robbed of his victory and record setting 8th world championship. In Snooker, Ronnie O’Sullivan is as good as ever, having just won the World Grand Prix for his record 38th ranking title. He turned professional 29 years ago and won his first ranking title 28 years ago. Likewise this is my 28th year in full-time ministry. I am at the top of my game. My doctorate is gained 18 years ago and my published dissertation is cited by all and sundry. I even published three other books in a span of less than 2 years with preaching and teaching non-stop in church until last month when I was laid off due to the vaccination requirements to enter church premises.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Anointing Remains a Little While

After a great leader passes away, at best the people of God retain their fervour into the 2nd generation unless another equally great leader appears. So is the anointing of God. It is not a nebulous concept as sometimes you hear preachers say, "anoint Your word, O Lord" which is wrong as God's Word does not need anointing or to be anointed as it is God-breathed but it is the speaker who needs the anointing as Paul says, "it is God who anointed us.." (2 Cor). Human beings are but clay and treasures of clay in God's hands. Our human nature is so prone to sin that even the most gifted of preachers and leaders have to watch how they stand, lest they fall. Temptation can come at anytime as the adversary seeks an opportunity to tempt God's servants. Hence, "lead us not into temptation", so goes part of the Lord's prayers. In recent weeks and days, a number of people have mentioned to me that since my absence in church (Nov 7th was my last Sunday), they felt different.

Friday, December 17, 2021

"I have neither lent nor borrow" (Jeremiah 15:10)

Jeremiah's pronouncement that he had neither lent nor borrow is probably the most enigmatic verse in the whole Bible. The business of lending and borrowing has many attendants problems. As a lender, people could run away from their loans and lenders suffer loss. Some have to act tough to recover their money or lose a friend. If one borrows, one becomes a slave to the lender because one is never free until the last cent is repaid. Further, a borrower could be despised if he or she borrows out of need or for survival and many people look down on those who borrow from them. No wonder Jeremiah tried to keep away from both sides of the equation, neither lending nor borrowing. How come Jeremiah is cursed by everyone as the passage makes clear? I am going to offer a few solutions to this quagmire.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Working for Others

I suppose only about 2 or 3 percent of grown adults are their own bosses and most people work for others or at least have a board or council to answer to. I worked for several law firms both in NZ and Sabah for two years and then opened my law firm at the age of 24 years old for about 4 years before leaving legal practise for good to enter full-time ministry. This is my 28th year as pastor or church worker and one way or another I have always been under authority. Serving under human authority could be a severe test when one's leaders do not behave according to one's hopes or Christian standard. Not many Christian leaders are straight forward and upright, honest in their conversations without hypocrisy or deceit. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

2021 Overview (Part 2)

The "Love, Romance and Marriage" seminar for the teenagers and youths was the highlight of the 2nd quarter of the year and it fell on the 24th April, being my 39th anniversary in Christ Jesus. While all around us cancelled their conferences and seminars fearing the spike in Covid19 cases, I was given the courage to go on to hold a face to face meeting and we could have a full-house if not for extra precaution that we took to limit the number of participants. The Q & A went for 30 mins with a few adults joining in the discussion. And in early May, we managed to get another session after Sunday service to encourage the praise and worship team which made up of almost all the youths and not a few adults in church. About 50 people stayed behind after service for the event (see photo). By mid-May, we realised that the Covid19 cases kept on rising and we knew it was not going to be long before the government announced another MCO (lockdown). I said to the church that I wanted to celebrate Pentecost Sunday (23rd May) in church and Harvest Festival for the Kadazan-Dusun, the majority group in Sabah (30-31st May) and the Lord duly granted my request.

Monday, December 13, 2021

2021 Overview (Part 1)

So many things happened in the past couple of months that if I don't record what I think is important and significant, things may fade away in my mind over time. The year 2021 came with the certainty that Covid19 was going to linger a bit longer and as I write I think it will go on for at least another year before we see breakthrough, either in oral vaccination or pills. It will become just like the seasonal flu once the worst is past. I preached an end of the year 2020 message based on Psalm 23 and took David's five smooth stones as a figure or metaphor that we could depend on God with 5 spiritual weapons. In the Lord, there is no want which means no anxiety over livelihood which affected at least a third of our members. I remember a number of leaders losing their jobs and a few got salary deducted due to less work or fewer hours.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

12th Day of the 12th Month

I wanted to record a sermon today for my Youtube as it has a beautiful symmetry to it being 12.12.21. But I refrained from doing so as it was Christmas service in my church (soon my former church though it is always Christ's church and is precious in my heart). I did not want to give the impression that I was preaching an alternative sermon to what is preached today. Nevertheless, I felt a sense of real relief and I rejoice in the freedom I enjoy now without Christmas sermons to prepare and to preach. Plus the travelling involved where I preached in 7 different places and churches totalling 22 Christmas sermons in 2016.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Institutional or Charismatic Authority

Yesterday I celebrated my 25th anniversary as an ordained pastor. I have reached another milestone in the Lord. We seem to fall terribly short of Paul's injunction to esteem others better than ourselves or at least honour those who are worthy of honour or honouring our leaders as it is only right before the Lord. I have in mind that one restorative act would be to include all former and present leaders at least once or twice a year (Pastors' Conference and/or AGM's night service) where all those who have served the Church faithfully, especially those who have held leadership positions in the denomination would be honoured. Why not the second row reserved for all former leaders with current leaders in the front row? Would that not show Church unity and set an example to all church members and to the world? A Church is not a secular outfit or a political contest where winners take all. As we are still in the world, election of Christian leaders may be a necessary form of church government and organization, nevertheless, those elected and appointed must serve with humility and grace, knowing that they are there to serve and not to be served as Christ has said, "whoever wants to be first shall be a slave to all".

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Fulfilment of God’s Promises

It took me 7 years and 5 months to come to a realisation that God has fulfilled His promises to me in large measures. Late 2013 and early 2014 when I was contemplating my future in Singapore the Lord gave me three passages from the Bible. First, the return to one’s homeland in his 50th year, the year of Jubilee (Lev 25). Second, that God would be with me and bless me if I returned to the land of my birth like He promised Jacob. I had no qualms in declaring that God is faithful to His Word and how He had blessed me. I had no one else to look for help or assistance, not even my son in Auckland. But God is a generous God and in a week’s time I would have paid off my Picanto and I am free from all debts and encumbrances. Not many people in their late 50s could testify to that in view of the pandemic and worrisome figures given by the EPF about what little savings a majority of Malaysians have for their retirement.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

"The reproaches of them that reproach Thee are fallen on me" (Psalm 69)

I suppose the author of Hebrews must have alluded to Psalm 69 when he cited Moses as one who had esteemed the reproach for the sake of Christ greater than the riches of Egypt. How often one compromises one's Christian faith for sake of one's rice bowl or career in the world? Instead of the reproach for the sake of Christ they prefer the honour of men. No wonder Jesus said, "you have no love of God in your hearts as you seek the glory of men rather than the glory of God".

Monday, November 29, 2021

Happy Hanukkah

The Feast of Hanukkah mentioned in John 10 commemorates the cleansing of the Temple of God once defiled by the Greeks in 167BC. After more than 3 years of war and struggle, the Jews managed to drive out the Greeks from Jerusalem in 164BC and the nation of Israel enjoyed 100 years of autonomous rule by the Maccabean brothers. Hanukkah like the Feast of Tabernacles, usually two months prior is a feast of rejoicing and a feast of lights where the Menorah lit up the night sky and Jews gathered in the Temple precincts to remember God's deliverance from the Greeks. Today I also felt a sense of relief and deliverance from a ministry that took my sweat and toil for almost two years. Each time the church premises closed, the pastor did not rest but worked doubly hard either in prayers or with online services and Bible Study. It is so much easier to explain things face to face and preaching online service is a struggle as I can't be sure anyone was listening.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

7-Year Cycle

Four months ago I preached a message titled, “Faith and Counting” and as it was the beginning of the 2nd half of the year, I exhorted the church to count their days and make sure the year 2021 would be a fruitful year. I cited the verse in Lev 26 about counting the 7-year cycle, 7 times 7 making it 49 years and the 50th being the Jubilee year. So in the 49th and 50th year the Israelites are enjoined to refrain from working and they let their lands lie fallow. But the counting is important as every 7th year is a sabbatical year. I also count the 7-year cycles of my life. This year concludes my ministry as pastor in my current church and I have resigned just as 7 years ago in Singapore my contract was up and I was led to return to Sabah in 2014. 7 years previously in 2007 I had resigned from my pastorate in my home church in KK, thinking that I might return to NZ to join my son but the Lord had other things in mind.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Centre for the Constitution & Citizenship (CCC)

If I lived long enough (perhaps until I am 80 years old) I would like to set up a Centre for the Study and Promotion of the Constitution and Citizenship in Sabah. This idea has been in my mind for more than 4 years so much so I taught in 2017 and 2018 the Federal Constitution of Malaysia to my students at the Bible College in Ranau. When I read reviews of Victor Davis Hanson's "Dying Citizen" last night, it confirmed in my mind that this is a great and urgent need of our country. So few people know our basic and foundational document of nationhood, the Federal Constitution.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

New Stirrings Again

Exactly two years ago I wrote a blogpost of the same title which I re-read today as a visitor from overseas logged in to the blogpost. Two years ago today I had nothing, 10 months out of a ministry and waiting for my next appointment which came on 30th Nov 2019. I started my current ministry on 1st January 2020 and it is coming to an abrupt end by year’s end. But new stirrings began days ago after nearly 7 weeks of crying out to God, sometimes on my bed in wakeful moments during the early hours of the morning. My life since I gave up my law practice almost 30 years ago has been a life of faith, thrusting into the unknown, following Christ, who is God invisible to the ends of the earth in Feb 1993 with a few earthly possessions with only my wife and a toddler in tow. When I landed in NZ, I sat in one of Auckland’s many squares and asked God, “where are You leading me?”

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Covid19 is Canceling the Church

We have in the West the Cancel Culture. We have in the world the Covid19 pandemic that is cancelling the church. One after another rule and more rules bind the church until it has become like a shell of a church. Recent weeks have clearly seen a drop of at least 40percent attendance before the vaccinated rules came into effect. We had more than 100 each Sunday full capacity before the latest lockdown but now at the most we are barely getting more than 60 people. Before hand, we have foreigners, a number of Indonesians worshipped with us and then the SOP said no non-citizens are allowed into church.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Ceasing from one’s Labours (Hebrews 4:10)

When I reached Tambunan yesterday for the first time in 18 months as travel restrictions were lifted, I felt such a sense of peace and rest and the Word that came to mind was the verse from a Hebrews 4 “anyone who has entered into His rest has ceased from his own labours just as God entered into His rest and ceased from His labours”. God’s rest refers to the 7th day when He has laboured for 6 days in the creation of the universe. As believers, once we believed in God we have entered in His rest, ceasing from our labours meaning we no longer strive either to become righteous in God’s sight or our labours in this world to make a living. This twin understanding is powerful in that we now serve a living God out of love and free will and not to obtain brownie points or save ourselves from damnation.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

“My people perish for their lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6)

This was Hosea’s indictment against the Israelites in the 8th century BC. What knowledge was Hosea talking about? First and foremost, the knowledge of God and His will for His people. The people of God often times are like their forebears in the times of Hosea. Even now there is no knowledge of God in the land. They follow blindly what human leaders tell them, secular or religious. They don’t ask - is it really God’s will that we discriminate against different nationalities and within one nationality, discriminate against various races.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Samuel & Saul

I was going to name this post as “Saul & Samuel” giving preference to the former due to his position as king. But in God’s eyes, Samuel was one chosen by Him and speaks forth His Word at His bidding and there is no greater honour than one being God’s spokesman and mouthpiece. Interestingly, before heading to church yesterday I read a devotion on Saul and Samuel and the author noted that Samuel had lived all his life about 5 miles from Saul’s residence, but the latter never sought the counsel of the former during his 40-year reign. It struck home because my house is even less than 5 miles, in fact only 5kms from where my HQ is located. However, only about 10 days ago for the first time in three years a senior leader dropped by and kind of sought my advice on a couple of things.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Why I am not a Lecturer

There was something I dreaded for 6 years in Singapore and 4 years in Ranau. It was the graduation ceremonies with full academic regalia for faculty. I suffered three and a half hours of torture at the Ranau community Hall when the ceremony went on forever. I wonder what Jesus would say to most graduation ceremonies conducted by most Seminaries. Can we simplify things, localize our attire and adapt to our true calling to bear the cross of Jesus Christ and declare the truth of the Gospel?

Thursday, November 4, 2021

24th Day in Daniel (Shall I resign?)

I asked my second supervisor who is a Daniel's Aramaic scholar about why God's revelation seems to come on the 24th day, as seen in the books of Daniel and Haggai. I have always wondered that myself. After praying for and waiting on the Lord for 21 days since 7th October, the word of the Lord came to me on the 30th October 2021. The next day I went to church on Sunday. On the 30th October which was a Saturday I read the article by a University lecturer on "Reflection & Prayer in Leadership". It was just slightly more than 3 pages and it's packed with content and theological insight. The first line which the author quoted stirred my spirit afresh - "God has picked us for such times as these". I felt it was the Lord speaking to me, telling me not to be dismayed or downcast as for a couple of months now, I thought of resigning from the pastorate with the requirements for "church entry" that came to force two months ago. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Reflection & Prayer in Leadership

 I read an article of the same title last Saturday as the Lord confirms to me His Word and His will for my life and ministry. Why am I doing what I am doing unless I am doing His will and ministering in His pleasure? How do we know God's will? It is not just reading the Bible because the devil could quote Scripture in the temptation of Christ. It is by reflection and prayer with a sincere heart and clean hands.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Proof of His Goodness (Psalm 86:17)

If there is any similar pattern in my life, it is that I have gone out or step forth in faith despite circumstances to the contrary. I remember well my first job in ministry as a lecturer in Melangkap, Kota Belud, in the interior of Sabah, with no electricity or paved roads but armed with the certainty of God's presence because Jesus said, "I shall be with you until the end of the age"(Matt 28:20). My first test came about a month into my ministry as in early January 1995 I received a letter from the University of Auckland University awarding me a 2-year Masters scholarship (MTheol) with all fees paid plus living allowances which trebled my meagre salary as a Bible lecturer (RM700.00 per month).

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

“Do not Cast Your Pearls before Swine” (Matt 7:6)

I received a surprise email from a good friend asking whether I had published my book. When I first read his text, I thought to myself, "which book?" He meant my "Departure Points" which came out in December 2019. That shows I have somewhat lost contact with this friend from overseas with whom I had a conversation about publishing my book perhaps in Sept of 2019 and then we were separated by the pandemic and only now he could return to Sabah. But I also received advice (sometimes unsolicited but I take all advice as well-intentioned) as to how to promote my books and a friend in KL actually did the posters for me for the Malaysian and Singaporean "markets". If I had used a commercial term, it is meant to be parabolic and an irony since the last thing I have in mind is to make a profit. In fact, I might just give my friend a surprise and show him my three books, instead of the one in his mind which was not even published when we last spoke. I am reticent and reluctant except on my social media platforms to promote my books for the sole reason that the contents are precious - "John's Gospel (1-12)" and "a Woman in Love" are both commentaries on the Word of God, one in the NT and the other in the OT. Since these are precious things, it is not good to cast your pearls before swine and the preceding parallel clause in Matthew's Gospel has "do not give dogs what is holy".

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Three Strikes You are Out

For a third week in a row I stood outside the church door. This time I did not enter as most congregation members had already left. I met the Chairman and his wife at the stairs on their way down. Then I had lunch with the Secretary and we had a long chat over several matters concerning the Church, our denomination in general. For a third time on a Sunday, I was out and not in the church. Although I might be on annual leave, I did want to enter the church premises but I watched the online service and when the sermon ended I drove to the church. Was it a prophetic act that the pastor remained outside the church? Did not Jesus say, "You have eyes but do not see; you have ears but you do not hear". How often people including those who claim to be Christians go on acting as if they are sheep led to the slaughter, without question, self-evaluation and self-reflection.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Landmarks & Milestones

"All my days were written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be..." (Psalm 139:16). Is there a verse that speaks more of predestination of the elect as this? David had a sense of destiny, knowing that his days were ordained by God and all things that happened to him were known to God before one of them came to be. David ruled for 40 years when he was in Hebron and he died when he was 70. The number of 40 appears to be a most significant number in the Bible. The children of Israel wandered in wilderness for 40 years. Moses' life was divided into three 40s - the first as his early years in Egpyt as a son of Pharaoh's daughter, the second, his 40 years in the wilderness of Midian before God called him again when he was 80 and he led the Israelites for 40 years before Moses died when he was 120 years old.

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Fight Goes On

Often we are impressed with the rise of human leaders among the nations. Having owned Tony Blair's auto-biography since a decade ago I read the first chapter again and watched a recent video on the rise of the Labour Party under Blair and Gordon Brown. These two were comrades-in-arm as they shared a small office space in Westminster Hall of Parliament. But Tony Blair was a much more charismatic figure who won the hearts of the British and won three consecutive UK General Election. I almost had a tear in my eye when Blair stood for the leadership of the Labour Party at the sudden death of John Smith.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Spiritual Appetite Waning?

It is the tough that keeps going when the going gets tough. It's a struggle to keep going when many are not so interested in spiritual things. After several lockdowns and many more regulations and SOPS, I find that spiritual appetite is on the wane. I have started this Adult Bible Study more than two months ago and it is now the 7th edition where we will be looking at Genesis chs. 8 and 9. If you think that there are 200 church members, at least those who watched the online Sunday services regularly, yet for the Bible Study we are getting between 20 to 40 people, at the highest. If we speak of 20 adults, it means only 10% of the church members are interested in more in-depth study of the Bible. As for me, it has been a wonderful journey of teaching the congregation, but spiritual appetite is not great and sometimes it is tough to keep going.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

My Books (Once More)

Without solicitation both my books, "Departure Points" and "Tafsiran Injil Yohanes" (John's Gospel commentary in Malay) have received many positive feedback and commendations. I am not in anyway promoting myself but these two books have great spiritual treasures. Departure Points is the story of my life and mission in Sabah, East Malaysia and John's Gospel commentary is a commentary written in Malay, which I think is the first-ever publication in the Bahasa Melayu or Malay language in that commentary genre. I am pleased with both of my works.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Revelation & End-Time Webinar

I am excited about conducting this forthcoming Revelation's Webinar organized by a Singaporean Church. 157 participants already registered and it will be telecast over live-stream and Zoom. I have conducted End-Time seminars at least once a year for a long time now, even during these times of pandemic. Last year, my home-church in Likas, KK invited me in a live-stream seminar and at the end of the day 1,870 people had viewed the 2-hour plus talk with another member of the panel. I have no doubt the book of Revelation is one book which requires much study and only certain people are granted the ability to interpret it accordingly by God's grace.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Buying and Selling

The rule comes in force today, being the Feast of Tabernacles when it rained for 10 hours non stop from 1am to 11am today. I had a tinge of regret for selling my TRITON yesterday just at the start of Sukkot. I felt I did not need the vehicle anymore except for days like today with heavy downpours and flash floods everywhere. Since it is a holy convocation and I did not go out of my house, I had plenty of time to reflect on things gone by in the past day or two. I will be spending more time at home now since I can’t enter most business places including restaurants and supermarkets. It is a draconian rule which I feel strongly opposed to due to my long held beliefs in freedom of choice, and basic liberties. Why are now my civil and public rights being taken away when I am as healthy as a cow and had not fallen sick once over 2 years?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Study on the Book of Genesis

Last night as Yom Kippur began at sunset I conducted a bible study for my church (Lord’s church) and 22 people logged in, only half of two weeks ago. It wasn’t due to lack of response but there was a big do going on at the State-level Youth Conference. But about 10 youths joined last night. I felt for the first time I was doing in depth bible study. I would look up Hebrew and Greek versions of the Bible. Amazing. Even someone nearing graduation for MDiv said to me that it was taxing on the minds. Try looking up Genesis 5:1-2. The creation of man was reiterated and there was this remarkable clause “God named them, Adam”. Before the woman was created, she was in the man and Paul makes a great deal of the order of creation in 1 Corinthians 11:1-10. Then Enoch walked with God for a short 300 years and he lived for 365 years, less than half of most of the first men in Genesis 5. I mentioned Jesus also lived a short life, a life cut in the middle, half of a man’s life of 70 years old.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Ekklesia without its Pastor

I am resigned to the fact that when the church premises reopen for ekklesia or the gathering of the saints, the place or gathering will be without its pastor. I understand that the congregation may take some time to appreciate the gravity of some of these requirements to enter a building for worship. It is something I will try to explain and exhort perhaps by the end of the month, from my house through online medium, whether it is google meet or Zoom. Interestingly, my Zoom End time seminar early October will see the speaker as a pastor without a congregation.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Decision Time is Getting Near

It was a tension-filled council meeting, the first that I had felt such strong emotions as one last night. Nevertheless, it was a healthy and robust discussion without rancour and it shows the maturity of the leaders involved to freely speak up as the occasion demands it. We discussed whether we wanted to open the church premises for Sunday services as the government had granted us the permission almost three weeks ago with our HQ giving the green light last week that any church could start opening for Sunday services with SOPs' compliance. The sticky point is that only those who had had double-dosed vaccination could enter the premises and one thing that surprised me was that no one asked whether it is biblical or theological sound to impose such vaccine "passport" for church entry.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

In Abundance and in Want (Phil 4:12)

I know how to abound and I know how to live in want, so says Paul, the apostle in Phil 4:12. It would be mean that there would be times that Paul had access to funds and lived rather comfortably. But more often than not, Paul was living in humble circumstances, or by faith so to speak as he would not know where the next gift or funding would come. Amazingly, God has been faithful to His promise to me and only in the 8th year of being back in Sabah that I could see clearly the great works of God. Not that I have much abundance but it was God’s fulfilment of His promise to me that He would bless me if I returned to Sabah. I suppose it is God’s way of saying that He was not restricted to work miracles of financial blessings in Singapore but works marvelously also in Sabah, despite Sabah being rated having 5 or 6 times less per capital income than Singapore’s.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Before Sunrise

Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord until sunrise. The angel told Jacob that he must go before sunrise and before the first ray of light of the morning, the angel disappeared just as quickly as he had appeared to Jacob. Angels are sent to do a task or tasks, after which they leave the scene often without a trace. I spoke about angels sealing the servants of God in their foreheads before the blowing of the winds and the 7 trumpets in Rev 8 onwards. Probably no one on earth knows what is going on, but the angels do their work without fanfare and without publicity but the recipients of the angelic blessings are left without doubt what they have encountered, a divine sealing and protection from all the woes to come on earth.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Genesis' Creation Accounts (Gen 1-2)

Tonight I shall complete my Bible Study with my church members on the first two chapters of Genesis. When one compares the Hebrew MT and Greek LXX versions, one comes up with a number of differences. In the Hebrew, Gen 2:2 has God completing the work of creation in 7th day while in the LXX it is in 6 days, and hence the usual 6-day creation narrative. Second, on the day the Lord completed the heavens and the earth, pointing to just a day or one day (yom) in Gen . Thus, the creation account although said to be over 6 or 7 days, it is actually just one day or a day understood symbolically that God created the world at a particular time, known only to Himself and revealed to Moses of what we have in the Genesis' creation accounts.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Preaching Again this Sunday

I had a premonition an hour before my deacon called me. I felt I might have to preach this Sunday though I am not scheduled to do so. I had already prepared a sermon a week before but I preached what I preached last Sunday on the key theme for August-Nov "faith, hope and love". When I saw my deacon's name on my phone I knew what he waa going to say. Perhaps the Lord wants me to speak on something this Sunday. There are several issues playing on my mind but I might just speak on one of them.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Adult Bible Class (Genesis)

While preparing for the Bible Class held last night, I was astonished with how much work I needed to put in for the 90 mins session. Chapter 1 of Genesis presents many interpretive possibilities. Is the day literal 24 hours day or is it symbolic such as one day is like a 1,000 years which could be million of years. There are many clues in the text. The first is that it is not called “first day” but day one instead. In Hebrew it is echad (one) and not rishon (first).

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Speaking as the Oracles of God

No matter how one is to preach for God is the one who tests our hearts, it is never going to be easy. Not many people like to receive instruction or even mild rebuke because most people are quite complacent and think that they are on the right side of God. No wonder Jesus says "many will come to Me on that day and say, Lord Lord have we not done this or that in Your name, have we not prophesied, have we not cast out demons and do works as if for God's glory but ultimately Jesus will say to them - "Be gone! I never knew you. You workers of iniquity."

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Books I've been reading in July

I started reading Deng Xiaoping (2011), a book I read some 10 years ago but much to garner after a period of a decade in light of China's rapid progress in the world. It happened that 1st July 2021 was the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) founded in 1921. Since the late Deng Xiaoping came into power in late 1978, almost half a billion of people (500 million) have been lifted out from poverty and however one sees it, it is a remarkable achievement, unrivalled in the world. I was joking with my friend who is also interested in Chinese history that China now has more than 30,000kms of high speed train while Sabah since independence still retain its British left-over track with the train running at the same speed of the 1960s! What is the use of democracy if leaders take advantage of the system to enrich themselves and not the nation's development and that her citizens' welfare comes second?

Monday, July 26, 2021

Sense of Divine Calling

I suppose what has kept me going all these years is the sense of divine calling. Despite severe challenges within and without, with false brothers and strangers on every side, I have persevered in God's calling until today. I never give up hope. I pray for my immediate family regularly. Early this morning two of my brothers greeted me and wished me well. In fact it had been a while since we chatted, one from Sydney and the other in KK. I will remember their good will for a long time. Heartache is also aplenty. Did not Jesus say, "three will be against two in the family and son will rise against his father, and so on"? Scripture cannot be broken. Jesus did not come to bring "peace" but a sword, casting fire on earth from heaven.

Scripture on that Day

Since late afternoon yesterday, I had been waiting on the Lord for a verse or passage of Scripture at the end of my 56 years and beginning of another year today. It was about 8.30am today that it finally dawned on me after receiving a phone-call from my brother in KK and an earlier text message from another brother in Sydney. The passage comes from 2 Timothy 4:2-5 which reads: "Preach the Word in season and out of season - "welcome or unwelcome, insist on it" (New Jerusalem Bible). Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement - do all with patience and with care to instruct. Yes, that's my calling as a preacher - someone who reproves or rebukes others in the name of God. Who is adequate for all these?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sunday is Surreal

I drove out early to Lingan Square about 12kms and had breakfast. I already had bread at home at 6.30am and at 8,30am I had a bowl of pan mee with meatballs. It was surreal because it was Sunday. I would never go out on a Sunday morning as I would be busy preparing for church even when I am not preaching. Now that the lockdown has gone on for 2 months, it was the first Sunday I was away from “church”. Last month when I was not preaching I was still attending “church” as a congregation member, listening to my elder preached and then led prayers.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Scholar in the Wilderness

If it isn’t faith, I don’t know what is. I have returned to a land that is short of scholars, and no culture of reading except a handful of Christians. I carry with me three books in one hand and there are two more in my backpack. I sit at the coffee shop on a Saturday evening reading the biography of Alexander Hamilton. I have two other books with me that I have been reading. I sold three books at noon after one former student who is now a pastor ordered two copies of Departure Points and a copy of my commentary on John’s commentary. I am a scholar in the wilderness. My friend said he would evaluate how his life is going in 5 years’ time. Another lawyer friend passed away suddenly at 62 years old.

Jubilee & Returning Home (Possession)

Until 42 years old I have nothing to call my own except two cheap Malaysian-made cars. I sold both cars when I went to Singapore when I was 44 years old which means I owned nothing until I was close to 55 years old. One clear passage which the Lord gave me besides Lev 25:10 was His command to Jacob to return to the land of his birth (Gen 31:19). I was not aware of the fulfilment of the Jubilee passage in my life until a couple of months ago when I prepared to preach on the Year of Jubilee and slavery. I felt the Lord spoke to my spirit and made me understand why I had to be in Ranau for 4 years before my return to my home in Kota Kinabalu.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Bible College in Ranau

I listened to the video of the College's Choir which sang during the November 2019's Convocation in Ranau. No one knew at that time soon a pandemic of such huge proportion will hit the world and Sabah in the following few months. That pandemic has prevented me from accepting an invitation to the College next month or even in September as things are not looking very good in the State with more than 600 Covid-19 cases daily for the past 4 days. When I listened to the song, initially many thought why they chose such a solemn-sounding song at a convocation. Normally, choirs sing hearty or upbeat songs during graduation ceremonies. But on hindsight the song is very much in line with the mood for the past 18 months of this current pandemic with no end in sight. It reflects the sadness of the Lord and His grieve over His people for they are hapless, very much like sheep without a shepherd.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Sadness & Supplication

In the past days and weeks I have this great sadness in my heart. Thankfully my elders sensed it and when I sent the prayers’ Friday schedule to them for endorsement, they replied and expressed the desire to return to worship as church as soon as possible. Very few churches would have leaders such as ours as most are quite content to stay at home and watch online services and I emphasize the word, “watch” because in the main that’s what people are doing what they go online. They are watching hardly worshipping and even God’s Word comes at a distance at the comfort of their living rooms, perhaps talking or enjoying coffee or playing computer games while listening. Is this what you call worship? Hence, my sadness that zeal has gone out of the window and love has grown cold. What is left for me to do except to supplicate quietly with groaning and sighing before the Lord? Lord You will not despise the prayers of Your prisoners. Am I not a shepherd unto You on a woeful day? (Jeremiah 29).

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Divine Coincidence

It’s something I experienced three times in a row. When I preached a month ago the Lord put into my heart to preach on Cain and Abel. Little did I realize that the two important words in the episode are also found in an earlier episode where God spoke to Eve about her “desire” towards her husband and that he would rule over her. That link came in handy the week after as it was Father’s Day and I preached a solid message and received general praise by the men of the church though the message was equally towards women or wives. Then two weeks ago I preached about Jubilee and I took that theme to link with the Ephesians passage on slavery and masters.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Love will grow cold (Matt 24)

One of the end-time signs is that love will grow cold. Love for God and love for others will grow cold. Family members betray one another and brothers in Christ no longer love one another. We are living in such times that love will grow cold. Even in these times of pandemic as difficult as it is, are not really extreme situations like wars, earthquakes, persecution and wild beasts roaming around. Yet love has grown cold. People have become more selfish. How can we overcome this dispassionate love? By our actions.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

7 times 7 times 7

Today is the 7th day of the 7th month. It also marks my 7th year back in Sabah making it 7 times 7 times 7. I arrived back in Kota Kinabalu on the 1st of July 2014 the day after my contract ended the day before. But I waited for another 6 months before my next appointment, and during the waiting period returned to Singapore twice more to attend to offers by churches there for me. I expected to serve in Sabah on 1st July since I wrote to my HQ in early March giving them more than 3 months to find a posting for me. But God's appointed times were always never too early or too late.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Year of Jubilee (Lev 25)

Last Sunday I preached from Ephesians 6:5-9 and Lev 25 on the Year of Jubilee. First, I spoke about the fact of slavery in the first century Church and how Paul had to navigate between exhorting the slaves to be obedient to their masters and also the freedom that they had in Christ. That ties in well with the concept of Jubilee where one of the pillars of which is that an enslaved Israeli would be freed in the Year of Jubilee, the 50th year. The land sold would be returned to its original owner in the year of Jubilee. Every Israelite is commanded to return to their lands and clans in the year of Jubilee (Lev 25:10,13). Why is it that the year of Jubilee is so significant to Christians today? I venture to suggest 4 reasons.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

In the Midst of the Years (Pandemic) Habakkuk 3:2

Today is the last day of June, in the middle of the year. "Revive Your work, Lord in the midst of the years, throughout the years make it known, in wrath remember mercy" Habakkuk 3:2. When God is wrathful against the nations, He sends plagues before Him - "pestilence goes before Him, a fever (heat) goes forth at His feet" (3:5). Do we not realise that this pestilence of Covid-19 is God's wrath against the world, against His people for judgement begins in the household of God (1 Peter 4:17)? This Covid-19 plague will last for at least three years, perhaps extending to the middle of 2023. It is now in the middle of the pandemic years - Lord, revive Your work in the midst of years.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

New Zealand are Test Champions of the World

I have been served up in the past month a host of remarkable sporting events and incredible achievements, beyond my wildest dreams and hopes. Phil Mickelson who is 51 years old became the oldest Major champion in golf. Then you have the youngest US Open women's golf champion Yuka Saso, a dual citizen of Philippines and Japan. Jon Rahm winning the men's US Open golf was no less remarkable after recovering from Covid-19 just the week before having to forfeit a third round lead of 6 strokes in his previous tournament. And NZ beating India in cricket is David slaying Goliath.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

30 Best Friends

David had his 30 mighty men, and among the thirty he had three mighty men, many of whom were willing to die for him. It is important to have good friends. I did not think much of it in the early part of 2019, but I realised that by December 2019, I would have completed a quarter of a century in the Lord's service, a silver Jubilee. Further, I had left my job in the Bible College in Ranau and returned to Kota Kinabalu without employment or even the promise of gainful employment back in the ministry. It took 11 months before I finally got my new appointment, just the day before I celebrated my 25th anniversary in the full-time ministry on 1st Dec 2019. That Sunday morning I preached in my home church in Likas, a church I pastored for more than 5 years and that evening I was going to hold a thanksgiving service at the same church, in the Ministry Centre which we built in 2005 when I was pastor there. I invited about 50 friends and some could not make it with valid excuses like on mission work in Bangi Island in the north.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Wealth & Poverty

Since preaching from Ecclesiastes two years ago in Sipitang, I had wondered and reflected on this theme of wealth and poverty in the Bible. In Solomon's book of Ecclesiastes, a total of six times, the author enjoined that his readers should just enjoy (eat and drink) the fruits of one's labour. It is surely a major theme in Ecclesiastes, perhaps reflecting the paradox of pessimism (vanity vanity all is vanity) of life on earth. Thus, there is nothing better but to enjoy one's labour while one can and while one is still healthy (and alive). A friend of mine when I told him about my Departure Points, a semi-memoirs of my life and ministry for the first 25 years in the Lord's work, said that he would also write his story, but alas within months he was called home by the Lord. My good pastor friend was only a couple of years older than me. There is one who keeps on accumulating and not enjoying the fruits of his labour and like Ecclesiastes says all his wealth will become someone's else when he passes on or when his health fails him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Isaac was Blessed 100 Fold

Incredibly, I see God's provision in the midst of pandemic and economic recession. Like Isaac who was told not to go down to Egypt but remained in Gerar, even in the midst of a famine, God blessed Isaac 100 fold. I have seen God's good hand upon me even during the times of hardships for the general populace. God knows how to protect and provide for His own. But there are incredible risks and dangers undertaken to serve this living God. The spiritual atmosphere throughout this pandemic is also in its doldrums. One pastor asked me yesterday about the nature of falling away or apostasy spoken by Paul as one of the two signs of Jesus' second coming. I told him to his surprise that it was not just the immorality of many so-called Christians especially in the West, but among Christians who could attend worship but choose to remain home. This pandemic is just a small test to prepare us for more difficult times as we approach the last days. It is a test of faith, refinement and purification.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Powerful Preaching

There is no doubt that preaching is the most difficult job there is. I would not venture a guess why I was called to be a preacher unless it is one of the toughest assignments one can get. First, it is speaking in the name of God or on His behalf. Who is worthy of that? Who is adequate to speak for God? Unless one is absolutely certain of one's calling which is tested multiple times during the course of one's life time, one should certainly venture to do something else. Second, it is speaking in the power of God or the power of the Holy Spirit. Who is able to imagine that suddenly when he steps up the pulpit, the Spirit comes upon him, and he will deliver God's Word, as the oracles of God impelled by the Spirit?

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Ranau Earthquake (6th anniversary)

I was saved by a trip back from Ranau to Kota Kinabalu on the 4th June 2015 to attend the Women's Conference. The Ranau earthquake was monumental because earthquakes are extremely rare in this part of the world. The last earthquake before the one hit Ranau was in Lahad Datu, a town 200 miles away some 30 years ago. We were shaken literally and metaphorically. Hundreds of aftershock tremors occurred in the next 12 months following June 5th earthquake.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

3rd Day of Lockdown

When some people may have a respite either taking a break from work during lockdown, I am experiencing similar conditions like the first lockdown in March of last year. Although there was much less anxiety for most since it is our fourth "lockdown" (closure of church services) , yet the uncertainty of it all can certainly unnerve a few. I had planned for two consecutive weeks of Teenage Bible Study and the first last night was well attended by 23 youths and a few adults in the mix. I spoke about the shepherd and his flock and we managed to get to verse 11 of John 10 in about 1 hour and 15 minutes and the last 15 mins given to discussion. A young lady in her teens shared about her dream a while back and I interpreted that for her and the rest of the class.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Harvest Festival

We are about to enter the 4th lockdown in 16 months, and yesterday's Sunday service was especially special. It was also the Harvest Festival for the majority tribe in Sabah and I was extremely proud to lead the prayers for the salvation of the indigenous peoples of the land and prayed that those who had believed would not fall away. It has been an incredible three months of church activities since the last lockdown and I was pleased that my photo album collection increased with hardly any photos for February but more than 60 photos were taken in church this May.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Total Lockdown

I heard the news of a total lockdown as I reached the church at 8.20pm last night for prayer meeting. For the first time I was late as I took my wife to dine at Pizza Hut one last time before the end of dine-in and we were overwhelmed by bumper to bumper traffic for about 7kms. I wasn’t surprised with the lockdown announcement as we expected it a few weeks ago and last Sunday I actually said over the pulpit that God would give us one more Sunday (tomorrow) being the Kadazan-Dusun Harvest festival just after Pentecost Sunday which was also a harvest festival in Israel and in the Bible. At least the Lord heard my prayers for a couple more Sundays before cessation of church services.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Terrific Pentecost

I have had a terrific Pentecost Sunday. I went to church an hour early and I opened the church gates. I was ready to meet with God and sat in my chair for about 20 minutes, meditating on His goodness while the multimedia crew busied themselves checking the sound system and church members began to fill in. With rumours of impending MCO (lockdown), one would have been forgiven to think some members might stay on home and join the service online. But for a third week in a row, we were jam packed, this time we admitted 107 adults plus about 10 children of 11-12 years old in their Sunday school classes. The ushers locked the church door at 9.30am and not a few had to be turned away. But as the music played and a song "As far is heaven from the earth, so great is your love to me" in Malay over the sound system, the Spirit suddenly fell on me and I immediately sensed God's presence and several times I was in the Spirit and saw visions of God.

Friday, May 21, 2021

In the Eye of the Storm

All Malaysians wait expectantly whether we will undergo another lockdown like the first last year in March. Cases have shot up to almost 7,000 cases daily and Sabah enjoying almost double digit for most days got a shock yesterday with 200 plus cases. So this morning before dawn at 4am I got up to pray and plead with the Lord that if possible Sabah would be spared from lockdown which means a cessation of face to face church services. If it is not possible at least it won’t be abrupt so that I could bid my church members goodbye on Pentecost Sunday. On all occasions I had preached the last message before the church closed down and as a shepherd I need to give some final words of  exhortation. I prayed and still pray for the authorities.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Publishing 3 books in 14 months

A couple of people who bought my books encouraged me to write and publish more books. We need positive feedback but publishing a book is not an easy task. My latest publication on the Song of Solomon took several months of editing and revising until the final proofs which took another month or two. At the end it took the Movement Control Order (October to December 2020) period where I stayed home and focused on editing to get it done and it was published in January 2021. The writing started in early 2019 but serious writing took part over a course of several months (March to June 2020) which was the first MCO imposed on Malaysians during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Pastoring was not easier though we met online and recorded sermons for Fridays and Sundays, but at least there were less weekly face to face meetings like cell groups and home visitations.

Monday, May 17, 2021

"Take delight in the Lord and He shall grant you the desires of your heart" (Ps 37:4)

Yesterday we prayed for three things in church - first, for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel. Second, I told the congregation that we could never take for granted the Covid-19 situation in the State. I had testified that about a month ago how I fought against the Covid spike in a 3-day intercession so that our Youth Seminar be not postponed or conducted online. We had a 80-person turnout - we could have more but we stopped the registration 3 days early. Third, I asked the church to pray for themselves based on Psalm 37:4. You have to be in church to feel what I felt yesterday. I rejoiced and danced before the Lord when we sang Dusun and Murut worship songs.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Jacob’s Wealth

Jacob gave to his brother almost a third of his wealth (Gen 32:15) when they met on his way back to Bethel. Jacob became a very wealthy man because God had blessed him. Although Jacob was cheated ten times by his father-in-law, God made sure that Jacob did not leave Midian any worse but Jacob returned with two camps with a multitude of cattle, herds of cows and camels and many men and female servants. “Blessings are on the head of the righteous” (Prov 10:6) and “the blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Prov 10:22). Maybe Jacob wanted to repay his brother whom he cheated out of his birthright or his immediate fear that he could be harmed if he did not placate his brother who came with 400 men to meet him. David had 400 men and it was a guerrilla force that even King Saul had to contend with.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Sunday was Surreal (The Call of a Pastor)

I preached a 57-min sermon with quite a bit left in the tank and the general atmosphere in the church was one of joy and peace. Many stayed behind with social distancing chatting away and for the first time a couple of church members gave me some feedback why they thought the church was growing and that they felt God's presence like never before. I opened my sermon by saying that in less than 14 years' time I will enter my sunset years but before that I will not consider myself old or even middle-aged. 14 years in biblical parlance is a number for a long time but in actual fact it is a rather short time, a double of 7 times/years. By that I meant, I had 14 more years to make an impact in the church and in the world before my Sunset years begin. I preached about the calling of a full-time workers, which is a rare species in my denomination now with 95% of students in the Bible College straight out of Form Five without any working experience or even aptitude for biblical studies, let alone more advanced theological discourse.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

7 Years On (Part 2)

The third verse the Lord gave me and perhaps the most telling was about Moses’ faith in Hebrews 11. Moses and Abraham are the two main figures of faith because they receive 7 and 6 verses respectively while the rest have 1 to 3 verses each. Moses is said to choose to suffer afflictions or mistreatment of his people rather the wealth of Egypt. I realized I could have stayed on in Singapore if I had wanted to. I was not short of offers but I felt these jobs were a bit too easy for me. One church only wanted me to preach once a month and another church offered that I would be lead the pastoral team of 10 pastors but I could only preach like once in 6 weeks because the senior pastor does most of the preaching with a couple of pastors and elders rotating. I told one church that I would die if I preached only once a month.

Friday, May 7, 2021

7 Years On (Part 1)

I turned on my handphone this morning and there was a notification that my MacBook Air 11 inch which I bought as a farewell present in Singapore is now 7 years old. I tried to mark my major purchases in my handphone to remind me of the time of purchase and the memory that goes with it. By next month, it will be exactly 7 years on since I returned to Sabah from Singapore. 7 is a complete number. 7 years marks a complete period of time just as three and a half years is an eschatological temporal marker signifying a short time or a time cut short. So what have I done in the past 7 years back in Sabah? I can only marvel at God's goodness and faithfulness and all the three promises He gave me when I sought His leading when in Singapore early 2014 had all come true and it will be even more so in months and years ahead. First. "I shall be with you" or "I will deal well with you" when God commanded Jacob to return to his land of birth after 20 years in Midian. God had done that multiple times and had shown me His power and grace. How else could I have driven up and down Ranau more than 200 times over the course of 49 months if not the Lord's presence had gone with me? How else was I kept from accidents or untoward incidents?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Call of a Full-Time Worker

This will be the topic of my sermon this Sunday following last Sunday's celebration of Labour Day in honour of pastors in church. I will be speaking about four things concerning the call of a pastor or full-time worker. First, a full-time worker is a unique calling because the person yields his life to God and commit to serve Him full-time. So first, I speak of sacrifice and divestment before a person could serve full-time. Like Elisha sacrificed his twelve yoke of oxen (24 cows) to follow Elijah when the former received the call. Like James and John leaving their fathers, workers, fishing nets and boats to follow Jesus. Divestment speaks of a change in status with the symbol of a change in attire.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Why do I still blog?

I started blogging in 2006. If I did not stop for a year it would be 15 years today or 14 years now. It's been a long time. Recently, I did not blog for almost 3 weeks but the daily hits still averaged 50 visitors. Yesterday I had 153 visitors and it reminded me of John 21's catch of the 153 fishes. Whatever the number 153 stands for, one thing is sure. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is meant for all nations and per chance 153 represents the catch of the nations by the net of Christ's Gospel. One would think of triangular number of 17 where 1+2+3...+17 equals 153. What is so special about being 17?

Monday, April 26, 2021

Returning to your Possession (Lev 25:13)

The Lord gave me three verses from three different books of His Word to confirm His leading for me to leave Singapore and return to Sabah in June 2014. It's now almost 7 years ago. My friend asked me how could I be so sure? When the Lord speaks into your spirit and you hear His voice, you are strengthened in your resolve to do His bidding. The first passage came from Lev 25:13 about returning to your possession when one celebrates the year of Jubilee. I turned 50 in July 2014 and my contract ended at the end of June 2014. It was time to go home. But it took four more years before I truly returned to my possession. I did not understand it until a month ago when the lord revealed to me that it was only when I fully paid for my house in July 2018 that I could truly say that it was my possession. I left Ranau after 4 years and on 31st January 2019 I returned to my house in Kota Kinabalu, fully paid and I have entered into my inheritance according to the word of the Lord. The second passage is this: "Return to your land of birth and I will bless you"

Friday, April 23, 2021

Spontaneous Applause

My first year in Singapore's Trinity Theological College was a honeymoon period. Towards the end of the first Semester of my first year (October 2008), I gave my last lectures on the Introduction to the New Testament which most Christians would know falls on the book of Revelation. I gave a rendition and summary of the book of Revelation, all 22 chapters in about 10 minutes to the class and they broke out in spontaneous applause at the end of it. I was shocked but pleased with the response from 53 students from probably 12 countries including South Korea and most ASEAN countries were represented. In my last year at TTC of about 30 students (24th April 2014), I received applause again but it was somewhat muted compared to the first that happened out of the blue and thundering loud with cheers. So tomorrow I will attempt a similar rendition on the book of the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon in my first ever weekend Bible Seminar in my 2nd year as pastor.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fighting against Covid19

My spirit was very much stirred up when news of a new cluster appeared at a religious school last Wednesday. Suddenly we hit 39 cases in KK just one case lesa before being declared a red zone. So I prayed and I prayed on Thursday. It was a violent session of prayer intercession. It was good that my office was secluded on an upper floor on the first floor so even if I shout and cry out to the Lord, no one would hear me except the Lord of the whole earth in heaven.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Love, Romance & Marriage Seminar

In less than 5 days' time, God willing, we will conduct our first Seminar since the Covid-19 health crisis struck. Please listen to my sermon on our church's You-tube Channel @multimediasibip on how I prayed for God's intervention when during mid-week, cases began to spike and caused a fright among many. For two days in a row on Thursday and Friday, I overheard conversations in coffee shops of another lockdown in KK. I prayed to the Lord, speaking in tongues for 10 minutes and continued praying until last Saturday when I sensed a measure of victory. The Lord laid in my heart how He answered Joshua's prayers for the Sun to stay still and perhaps 12 hours of daylight were added that day. I told my congregation to have faith in the Lord and in His love as "perfect love casts out all fear" (1 John 4:18).

Friday, April 16, 2021

Pastoral Ministry & A Short Runway

After turning down the initial invitation on another topic, I was invited again to speak on this topic on 30th April 2021 at our forthcoming Pastors' Conference. I was told yesterday that the Conference was going online and there would be no face-to-face meeting. The Covid-19 cases in Sabah have spiked in recent days, but I felt I should not just yield to what is happening around us, but intercede and pray. Prayed I did yesterday for about 30 minutes including speaking and praying in tongues half the time, pleading with the Lord to intervene so that the Covid-19 cases at least in Kota Kinabalu do not rise significantly, lest the government orders another round of church closure. I shall be praying in the next few days. I was in two minds the whole of yesterday until late last night the schedule for the Pastors' Conference came out through the Pastors' Whatsapp group. Mine is the middle slot, scheduled to take place in the afternoon, the graveyard hour as far as preaching is concerned.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Three Days before Good Friday

I have just finished the 10-powerpoint slides for Easter Sunday's service. For Good Friday we are having our Secretary-General as guest preacher and he will also conduct the Lord's communion on Friday. I have been flat out making most of the opportunity with Covid-19 cases falling below 50 cases for most days in Sabah and KK itself is in single digit for a couple of weeks now except for on one or two occasions. I have to put out some fires lit by some unscrupulous peoples, always criticising without basis but I am used to that now after 26 years in ministry. In my previous two pastorates, vast majority of leaders and church members were extremely supportive but one always has to be aware of Doeg who informed on David and caused the death of many priests.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Vision of Lights shining in Darkness

There is a time for everything. Much wisdom brings much grief and the increase of knowledge increases sorrows (Eccl 1:18). I find it hard to believe that things could go so bad within months. I had a vision during yesterday's Sunday worship during the worship song before the sermon. Suddenly in the Spirit, I saw many lights like stars sparkling over a canvas of darkness which in my spirit I knew it to be the city of Kota Kinabalu. In my spirit, I sensed these lights or stars numbered to one hundred or more. Then the Spirit spoke and told me that these were the churches in Kota Kinabalu pre-Covid19. But then I saw another cloud of darkness hovering over the city and I saw only 7 or 8 lights/stars.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Court Case & Church

So many things happened in the past fortnight that I don't know where to start. Two days ago the High Court in Sarawak allowed a Sarawakian's application to use the word, "Allah". The news brought much euphoria among Christians in the Press as well as group chats but I kind of put a dampener a little (though I rejoiced greatly in the Lord) as it had happened before that a major denomination having won in the High Court but then lost in the appellate Court and as it stands, the Court of Appeal's decision in 2013 seems to be the final say on the matter unless this matter is resolved in the highest Court, the Federal Court or the government and parties involved negotiate for an amicable solution without resort to the judiciary. Much to pray for!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Happy Purim - Its Significance for Malaysia

This evening the Feast of Purim (Esther 9:20-23) is celebrated around the world among Jews and Christians. Sad, though, many Christians hardly know much about the biblical Feasts. Why do I use "biblical" instead of "Jewish" or "Hebrew" Feasts? Biblical is the right word because all these Feasts are written in the Bible, a book which we claim to be inspired. In fact, Paul the apostle says that "all Scripture is God-breathed.." referring to what we have now as the Old Testament or the Bible of Jesus' time. If the Feasts of Israel are in the Bible, why then Christians know so little about them? It comes down to biblical illiteracy. The lack of Scriptural knowledge among Christians who have confessed Christ for 30 or 40 years is widespread and not something remarkable.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Church Opening Again

I realized my fault in not praying for the government in its handling of Covid19 crisis. I realized I was perhaps fatigued in thinking about the pandemic and try to put it out of my mind. But in the past week SOPs were confusing to say the least so I realized the govt officers are human beings and they need our support in prayers. So I prayed in the past couple of days for consistency and it came around 5pm that the authorities are allowing church premises to be opened with 1/3 capacity. Before we were told only 45 max and we were deliberating whether it was worthwhile to open for such small numbers.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Year of the Ox

No one in church today wished me Happy Chinese New Year. But half the church council did on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I guess I served in a church that the pastor is the only Chinese among about 200 members. We have one or two spouses of church members who are Chinese but they don't attend church regularly. But in the past 20 years and more in Sabah I have served races other than my own, mostly the indigenous peoples of Borneo. Only when I was in Singapore, I served Singaporean Chinese 99% of the time with the exception of a few Indonesian services which I  ministered in. But it's the year of the Ox. The ox or oxen also figure in the Bible including the New Testament.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

New Insights in New Book

My new book on the Song of Songs has a number of new insights which to the best of my knowledge have not been discussed in any commentary or monograph. Although there are a number of scholars who argue that the Shulamite woman was Abishag, none would tell the tale of Solomon's love with the Shulamite girl as a narrative framework for the Song as I attempt to do in my new book. Although the Song of Songs is a love-poem filled with symbolism, there is a human story behind it, especially from the two lovers' familial ties. The woman is called a Shulamite, so she is identified as coming from Shulam or Shunem in Israel. She has a family with a mother and a few older brothers. It could be that she is the youngest in the family, barely in her teens which made her a target of her brothers' anger as they made her work at the family's vineyards under the hot sun.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Cycle of Preaching

I have completed this cycle of preaching and will be resting from speaking this month of February. I have preached 4 times in Nov, 4 times in December and 4 times in January 2021 with yesterday' sermon on "Breaker and Warrior" (Micah 2:13; Psalm 89:20) as my third consecutive sermon. I was greatly refreshed with the feedback and encouragement from near and far with almost half of those listening in from non-church members. I am glad that I ended this cycle of preaching on a high note. I was gravely concerned on Saturday night with many chat groups talking about a certain preacher (non-Christian) making his rounds in Sabah. I spoke powerfully about why we must have discernment on what type of outside help we could or should receive.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

"Your friends, O God, have been greatly honoured by me" (Psalm 138:17a, LXX)

Every time I read the Septuagint (OT translation to Greek) I learned something new. A few days ago, as I was contemplating sending my new book to a few of my friends in New Zealand and Australia, I came across this verse from Psalm 138 (Hebrew Ps 139). How do I honour God's friends? Abraham was called a friend of God in Isaiah. I have a number of friends, though some I have not contacted for years, so I thought I might surprise that with the gift of my new commentary.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Patmos & Biblical Scholarship

Several weeks when one of my elders preached on Sunday, I was struck by what he said about John receiving his revelation in Patmos and writing what was later called the book of Revelation. I saw that as an allegory of my own situation as pastor of a small church, not involved in any way with Seminaries except the one occasion which I went to teach an intensive course last July. I had my Patmos moment in that I could write when the Lord quickened and revealed to me His divine mysteries. When I was writing my commentary on the Song of Songs I was home most of the time except the couple of occasions where I wrote in coffee shops when we were allowed to dine in. I attempted to visit a local Seminary's library last August but I was asked to leave the premises.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Unexpected Guest

Yesterday while preaching our online Sunday service, I saw a church member entering the church hall. As we were only allowed a certain number of people on the premises, I was a bit apprehensive at first but I did not have the heart to ask him to leave. So I preached a 45-minute sermon and only by God’s grace I could finish as strongly as I had started. In fact, a few moments before ascending to the pulpit I was not feeling well and I prayed that I would not collapse while preaching. After the sermon I had wonderful fellowship with the recording crew and the unexpected guest.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Prophets & Scribes

It's been a tough week under the Movement Control Order. For a third time in less than a year, church premises had to close and yesterday we recorded our second Sunday online service. I preached a message for 46 minutes on the Five-Fold Ministry in Eph 4:7-16 as I continued on from Paul's letter to the Ephesians commenced in July 2020. I shared how the Church still needed these five main offices or ministry, especially the prophetic ministry as some believe that there are no apostles in today's Church and the apostolic office has ceased after the first century AD. I hold to the view that at least for the prophets and the office of a prophet, the calling and gift are still relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. I listed several passages from Acts 13:1, Matt 23:34 and Rev 11 to support my case and the Matthean passage is especially significant since Jesus speaks of "sending prophets, wisemen and scribes..."

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Mapping Your Academic Career & Departure Points

I read a couple of reviews on Gary Burge's Mapping Your Academic Career (2015). I used Burge's textbook on New Testament (New Testament in Antiquity) for three years when I was at Trinity Theological College. I could have been an academic myself if I had wanted to. Now on the verge of publishing my fourth book, I reckon my former College would have been proud of my "scholarly contributions." But it was not meant to be. If I had stayed on in my former College or perhaps applied to another College somewhere, my academic career could have advanced. But is it the Lord's will for me? That I could answer with a definitive "no". It may be a career for some in the academia, but certainly not for everyone who holds a doctorate in theology or Biblical Studies. Even my most memorable papers presented at prestigious Universities were done when I was not a lecturer or professor. I spoke at a Conference held at the Peking University in China when I was pastor of my home church, SIB Likas (BM).

The Year of the Dragon

I clicked on a blogpost which I wrote 8 years ago, celebrating the end of the Year of the Dragon in 2012. I reflected on the year that just went past and 2012 was truly monumental in many ways. But then I realised in 3 years' time, the year of the dragon will come round again and that means a cycle of 12 years has run its course. For me, the Chinese Zodiac is a good marker of time and our age since every time our "animal" or "zodiac sign" comes along, we have aged another 12 years. Within a short 3 years, I would have completed 5 cycles of the Chinese Zodiac. It's time to count my days and number my years in order to gain a heart of wisdom and ensuring one is in the centre of God's will.

Friday, January 1, 2021

A Year that Was - 5 Spiritual Stones for 2021

I ended the year 2020 with preaching until 5 minutes to New Year 2021. It's been a year of turmoil, joys and immense challenges, upended by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. One memorable line last night was that, "Covid-19 does not celebrate New Year" and "it is not going away when the clock strikes 12 midnight" as many people had hoped. I shared from Psalm 23, one of my favourite psalms. I spoke about the Lord being our shepherd. How we allow Him to lead, rule and be enthroned as King in our lives. I spoke about 5 things, which I drew from David's five smooth stones that I called as 5 spiritual precepts or spiritual weapons for Christians to fight the battles of 2021 and beyond.