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.