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.