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.