Thursday, December 30, 2021

Subsidy, Aid and Self-Reliance

After some unprecedented flooding in various States in West Malaysia, the government announced more aid in recent days. In the past 20 months since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the government had given handouts, subsidy and aid to all and sundry, especially the lower income groups. I have no doubt the poorest of the poor are helped and some disadvantaged people need handouts from time to time. But I doubt if we continue to dig into the nation's coffers and borrow more and more money, all these aid and subsidy will be sustainable in the medium to long term. It is important for the citizens of Malaysia not to depend on subsidy and aid.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

My Conversion Testimony

 *Malaysia Pastor, Tony Siew* (Translation from Chinese to English excerpt taken from Dr Tan Kim Sai's book "Gospelogy" Dec. 2006 pp.168-170). Many thanks to a friend in Singapore who did the translation for me.

This is a true story. Dr Tony Siew is a pastor  from Malaysia, Sabah. He serves in the English (not English but Malay-speaking) Congregation at Sidang Injil Church in Borneo. He shared with me, his testimony regarding his personal encounter with the Living God.

Encounter with the Risen Lord

I shared my conversion testimony with the Principal of Malaysia Bible Seminary, Klang (now in Rawang) in 1998 and I was gifted his book “Gospel and Mission” in 2007. To my surprise, he included my testimony of conversion in his book along with John Sung and a few others (I am not worthy) but as it is written in Chinese, until today I do not know what is written about me in the book. As I look forward to my 40th anniversary in Christ in 2022, I want to recount my conversion testimony once more. I was a 17 year—old law student at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. I arrived in NZ on the 1st March 1982 and on the 24th April I was converted which was my 55th day in NZ.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Against the Grain: Retirement Savings?

In the past couple of weeks while I watched over the re-tiling of my dining room, I had time to watch a number of financial management videos including on retirement savings. The more I watched, the more I realised that in my first 50 years of my life I was going against the grain. I only started saving money for retirement when I was 49 years old, not 29 as most videos suggested. It was in the last year of my sojourn in Singapore. My son in New Zealand had not graduated but in his final year. Since I know I might be returning home to Sabah, though many things were uncertain at the time, I realised I needed to save.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Week that Was

As we approach the last week of 2021 I want to reflect on what happened in the past week. In Greek you have the saying "kai egeneto" (and it happened). As believers who love the Lord and live in fellowship with Him, many things could happen as if per chance but it is God-arranged in fact. Two mornings ago I drove to town at 5.40am when dawn was breaking. The moon shone brightly as it was a full moon just a few days ago. It was as if the moon guided me throughout the 12kms drive to the city centre. I am obviously alluding to the Star that guided the wise men to come to Jesus from a faraway land. I took a copy of Departure Points with me and I said to myself that if I met someone I know I would give the book away for free. Lo and behold for more than 40 mins I saw no one familiar. Then I stood up to leave and while near the exit someone called out "pastor!".

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Building the Lord's House

Solomon took 7 years to build the Lord's house while for his own palace, Solomon took 13 years, almost double the time. Scholars and preachers have noted that could be an indication of Solomon's degree of devotion to the Lord that he cared more for his own house than the Lord's Temple. While all these 27 years, I have focused on building the Lord's house and for the first 14 years as a pastor, I owned no house but stayed from one place to another until 2007 that I moved into my own house. Shortly thereafter, I moved on to NZ (Feb-May 2008) and then to Singapore in June 2008. I have not lived in my house for more than a year until I came down from Ranau to KK on 31st January 2019.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

What if

In life there are many missed opportunities and rushed decisions that people who make them regret later. What if? Only if? I sit quietly before the Lord how suddenly I was removed from the house of the Lord. What if? If the elders had called me to discuss matters instead of deciding on their own and basically putting in front of me an ultimatum. Anyone with any self-respect with or without theological qualification or secular experience would have resigned on the spot.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Seniority, Experience & Skill

These three attributes are priceless in the professional world including the world of sports. Lewis Hamilton at 36 is an old hand in F1 and the one who won at the last race is 12 years younger but Hamilton could justly claim to have been robbed of his victory and record setting 8th world championship. In Snooker, Ronnie O’Sullivan is as good as ever, having just won the World Grand Prix for his record 38th ranking title. He turned professional 29 years ago and won his first ranking title 28 years ago. Likewise this is my 28th year in full-time ministry. I am at the top of my game. My doctorate is gained 18 years ago and my published dissertation is cited by all and sundry. I even published three other books in a span of less than 2 years with preaching and teaching non-stop in church until last month when I was laid off due to the vaccination requirements to enter church premises.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Anointing Remains a Little While

After a great leader passes away, at best the people of God retain their fervour into the 2nd generation unless another equally great leader appears. So is the anointing of God. It is not a nebulous concept as sometimes you hear preachers say, "anoint Your word, O Lord" which is wrong as God's Word does not need anointing or to be anointed as it is God-breathed but it is the speaker who needs the anointing as Paul says, "it is God who anointed us.." (2 Cor). Human beings are but clay and treasures of clay in God's hands. Our human nature is so prone to sin that even the most gifted of preachers and leaders have to watch how they stand, lest they fall. Temptation can come at anytime as the adversary seeks an opportunity to tempt God's servants. Hence, "lead us not into temptation", so goes part of the Lord's prayers. In recent weeks and days, a number of people have mentioned to me that since my absence in church (Nov 7th was my last Sunday), they felt different.

Friday, December 17, 2021

"I have neither lent nor borrow" (Jeremiah 15:10)

Jeremiah's pronouncement that he had neither lent nor borrow is probably the most enigmatic verse in the whole Bible. The business of lending and borrowing has many attendants problems. As a lender, people could run away from their loans and lenders suffer loss. Some have to act tough to recover their money or lose a friend. If one borrows, one becomes a slave to the lender because one is never free until the last cent is repaid. Further, a borrower could be despised if he or she borrows out of need or for survival and many people look down on those who borrow from them. No wonder Jeremiah tried to keep away from both sides of the equation, neither lending nor borrowing. How come Jeremiah is cursed by everyone as the passage makes clear? I am going to offer a few solutions to this quagmire.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Working for Others

I suppose only about 2 or 3 percent of grown adults are their own bosses and most people work for others or at least have a board or council to answer to. I worked for several law firms both in NZ and Sabah for two years and then opened my law firm at the age of 24 years old for about 4 years before leaving legal practise for good to enter full-time ministry. This is my 28th year as pastor or church worker and one way or another I have always been under authority. Serving under human authority could be a severe test when one's leaders do not behave according to one's hopes or Christian standard. Not many Christian leaders are straight forward and upright, honest in their conversations without hypocrisy or deceit. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

2021 Overview (Part 2)

The "Love, Romance and Marriage" seminar for the teenagers and youths was the highlight of the 2nd quarter of the year and it fell on the 24th April, being my 39th anniversary in Christ Jesus. While all around us cancelled their conferences and seminars fearing the spike in Covid19 cases, I was given the courage to go on to hold a face to face meeting and we could have a full-house if not for extra precaution that we took to limit the number of participants. The Q & A went for 30 mins with a few adults joining in the discussion. And in early May, we managed to get another session after Sunday service to encourage the praise and worship team which made up of almost all the youths and not a few adults in church. About 50 people stayed behind after service for the event (see photo). By mid-May, we realised that the Covid19 cases kept on rising and we knew it was not going to be long before the government announced another MCO (lockdown). I said to the church that I wanted to celebrate Pentecost Sunday (23rd May) in church and Harvest Festival for the Kadazan-Dusun, the majority group in Sabah (30-31st May) and the Lord duly granted my request.

Monday, December 13, 2021

2021 Overview (Part 1)

So many things happened in the past couple of months that if I don't record what I think is important and significant, things may fade away in my mind over time. The year 2021 came with the certainty that Covid19 was going to linger a bit longer and as I write I think it will go on for at least another year before we see breakthrough, either in oral vaccination or pills. It will become just like the seasonal flu once the worst is past. I preached an end of the year 2020 message based on Psalm 23 and took David's five smooth stones as a figure or metaphor that we could depend on God with 5 spiritual weapons. In the Lord, there is no want which means no anxiety over livelihood which affected at least a third of our members. I remember a number of leaders losing their jobs and a few got salary deducted due to less work or fewer hours.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

12th Day of the 12th Month

I wanted to record a sermon today for my Youtube as it has a beautiful symmetry to it being 12.12.21. But I refrained from doing so as it was Christmas service in my church (soon my former church though it is always Christ's church and is precious in my heart). I did not want to give the impression that I was preaching an alternative sermon to what is preached today. Nevertheless, I felt a sense of real relief and I rejoice in the freedom I enjoy now without Christmas sermons to prepare and to preach. Plus the travelling involved where I preached in 7 different places and churches totalling 22 Christmas sermons in 2016.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Institutional or Charismatic Authority

Yesterday I celebrated my 25th anniversary as an ordained pastor. I have reached another milestone in the Lord. We seem to fall terribly short of Paul's injunction to esteem others better than ourselves or at least honour those who are worthy of honour or honouring our leaders as it is only right before the Lord. I have in mind that one restorative act would be to include all former and present leaders at least once or twice a year (Pastors' Conference and/or AGM's night service) where all those who have served the Church faithfully, especially those who have held leadership positions in the denomination would be honoured. Why not the second row reserved for all former leaders with current leaders in the front row? Would that not show Church unity and set an example to all church members and to the world? A Church is not a secular outfit or a political contest where winners take all. As we are still in the world, election of Christian leaders may be a necessary form of church government and organization, nevertheless, those elected and appointed must serve with humility and grace, knowing that they are there to serve and not to be served as Christ has said, "whoever wants to be first shall be a slave to all".

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Fulfilment of God’s Promises

It took me 7 years and 5 months to come to a realisation that God has fulfilled His promises to me in large measures. Late 2013 and early 2014 when I was contemplating my future in Singapore the Lord gave me three passages from the Bible. First, the return to one’s homeland in his 50th year, the year of Jubilee (Lev 25). Second, that God would be with me and bless me if I returned to the land of my birth like He promised Jacob. I had no qualms in declaring that God is faithful to His Word and how He had blessed me. I had no one else to look for help or assistance, not even my son in Auckland. But God is a generous God and in a week’s time I would have paid off my Picanto and I am free from all debts and encumbrances. Not many people in their late 50s could testify to that in view of the pandemic and worrisome figures given by the EPF about what little savings a majority of Malaysians have for their retirement.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

"The reproaches of them that reproach Thee are fallen on me" (Psalm 69)

I suppose the author of Hebrews must have alluded to Psalm 69 when he cited Moses as one who had esteemed the reproach for the sake of Christ greater than the riches of Egypt. How often one compromises one's Christian faith for sake of one's rice bowl or career in the world? Instead of the reproach for the sake of Christ they prefer the honour of men. No wonder Jesus said, "you have no love of God in your hearts as you seek the glory of men rather than the glory of God".