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.