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.