I did not think I would come to this day at the end of 2022 that I would be ready to fly in a couple of hours. Exactly two years ago, in our leaders' church group, I told two deacons when they asked that I would seriously consider getting vaccinated (Sinopharm) if I needed to fly at the end of 2022. Two years on, the world has changed. The pandemic is all but over except in China. Most people either vaccinated or not, have been infected with Covid-19, at least with the Omicron variant and they have developed immunity against the disease. And again I praise God that for three and a half years (Nov 2018-April 2022) which is a biblical period of testing and suffering, I was kept away from harm's way and I was at the pink of health, never sick during those trying times. God keeps the righteous from evil and the pestilence He drove far away. Now I am ready to fly for ministry, of course.
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
After a couple of days' rest from my exertion in Ranau where I preached 50min long sermons on three consecutive days, I am back in ministry mode with preparation to preach in Sandakan on New Year's Day. I received an invitation to preach on 8th January but decided to turn it down as I might make a trip north that I planned for a while now, basically to promote my books in a few churches.
Monday, December 26, 2022
The first part of my Christmas ministry has ended yesterday on Christmas Day. We drove back from Ranau from 12.30pm and reached KK just before 3pm. We spent three days and two nights with three Christmas services and it was pretty well spaced put despite the early morning start yesterday after a Christmas Eve service. We managed to get all meeting ended within 2 hours with a couple of songs and dance by various ministry units. I told a joke that other churches may have a 10-minute homily but in our church we are used to have one hour long sermon. But I preached all three messages within 45 minutes and yesterday I felt the anointing the strongest when I was fairly fatigued preaching three days in a row. It was a powerful message on the first night and on Christmas Day.
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
I just put some money into an interest earning account. It is my seed money for my European trip planned for 2024. Per chance I can save RM20,000 for the trip and I know that’s not quite enough but at least there is something. We walk by faith and not by sight. I am praying to make a European trip soonest possible, even by next July which is exactly 3 and a half years after the Wuhan virus that hit the world. I hope to mark the end of the pandemic by travelling. If I can’t make it by 2023, then it is 2024. The Lord grant good health in the mean time.
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Both my Malay commentaries are self-published, understandably so as Malay Christian literature is new and I doubt any publishers would want to take a chance to publish literature that has a limited audience, namely Malay speaking and reading Christians. I have sold more than 150 books of my Galatians commentary and my last 50 will be gone in no time. I will take at least 10 copies to my former Church when I preach there this weekend from Friday to Sunday. After that, I plan to meet up with a couple Christian leaders in Sandakan, and perhaps visit one church that I preached in their combined meeting in 2017. It was 5 years ago and it's time to catch up. After that, I will travel to Kota Belud, to "bless" or pray for a new house of a former church member.
I suppose it is the attitude in life and towards life that counts. One wealthy person could live in poverty because he is a miser and does not know how to spend money. He saves and hoards but do not know who he will leave his millions and that is vanity as so says Solomon in Ecclesiastes. Yet there is one who is poor but live well because he sees whatever he has ss God’s blessings, giving Him thanks and enjoying every good thing in life and way better than that wealthy person who has multiple accounts and 100 fold richer in wealth but live much worse than that poor person. This is also vanity.
Monday, December 19, 2022
Yesterday I had had a wonderful Christmas service. When I arrived at the church half an hour early, I was taken by an old friend, a former church member in Likas. We had uplifting conversations about family, health and keeping out spirits up despite advancing age. I did not know that he was there years older than me as I always thought I was one or two years older. He has 4 children, all scholarship students whom he was extremely proud of. One started work and his starting salary is more than RM 4,000.00, double my salary as pastor in my 6 years of active service in the field (2015-2021). I felt happy for him and his wife, both of whom were my close friends and after the service he reminded that he was one of my earliest cell group members. We go back a long time.
Sunday, December 18, 2022
After a short afternoon nap, I woke up with extreme fatigue due to my preaching this morning. It was an intense message. I did not once look at my watch but probably it went for 45 minutes. I started by explaining that chapter one of Luke's Gospel focuses on two women, one old and one young. Elizabeth would be probably in his 60s or early 70s because she was well-advanced in age. Mary was a young girl, a teenager of 14 or 15 years old. But God worked miracles for both. God answered the prayer of Zechariah, Elizabeth's husband and Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. I then proceeded to preach from Luke 1:13-17, a total of five verses on the angelic announcement to Zechariah of John's birth who later became the Baptist.
Friday, December 16, 2022
One of the things that I do is to maintain friendship with my fellow pastors. To show to them Christ's love and to act with humility be it to seniors or juniors. All of us are equal in God's sight, His beloved children though our gifts may differ and our ministries too are varied according to God's calling. So today I spent more than 2 hours with three of my fellow pastors over lunch at A & W. The joint has closed for more than two decades but reopened a few weeks ago, not far from my home. I remember queuing up at Changi Airport for more than 30 minutes to get my order fulfilled. Likewise today it took about 40 minutes before my two friends who stood in the queue got our food and drinks. While waiting I read a book which I brought with me. We chatted over many things, our personal walk with God, our ministry, the future especially all the three pastors are under 40, in their mid-30s. They are not young but still working their way up in their respective churches.
Thursday, December 15, 2022
The devil must have thought he had won when he saw Jesus Christ hanging on the cross. But that was the moment of the devil's defeat. It is just true to life that much that happens to us in full of irony. Imagine a young virgin receiving an angelic visitation being told that she would conceive by the Holy Spirit. Imagine Joseph dreaming dreams just as his name sake way back in the book of Genesis, the first Joseph also dreamt many dreams. God is doing great things. The devil thought he had won when I was suddenly cast out of my active ministry as a pastor. But within 12 months, I have revised my Song of Song's commentary and published a full commentary on Galatians. The Galatians' commentary is worth a hundred, if not a thousand sermons.
If one really seeks after God, one would know His will because God delights to show His people His ways. Jesus said that, "if anyone wants to do His will, he will know whether my teaching is from myself or from the Father who sent Me" (John 7:17). The problem was and still is that very few people want to do God's will, hence they can't discern His teachings. Sometimes they are deluded into thinking it is the truth, but in fact it is falsehood and deceit. A man's heart is desperately wicked and who can know it? And we go on as if we are righteous, but in fact we are like filthy rags in His sight. Our wickedness and hypocrisy have driven His Spirit far from us but we can carry on as if nothing happens, and presume to think that God is with us.
Friday, December 9, 2022
It's been three years that my son returned home. It was an eventful time early 2020 when he managed to return to New Zealand to his work just two weeks before the New Zealand's lockdown lasting more than 2 years. So I am looking forward to seeing my son again. The good news is that he is quite established in his job in the same place of employment, though he is still new in his latest role and the recent confirmation of a permanent post. So he is taking time to see his family during Christmas and also Lunar New Year before he heads back to NZ. If he can make it back by Christmas's Eve, he may drive up to Ranau to join me for Christmas services there.
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Apart from the 12 books I sold during the pastors' fellowship on 17th November 2022, I had sold about 100 more books in the past two weeks. I brought about 15 books to church last Sunday including my earlier commentary on John's Gospel and all books were sold out within minutes. The church pastor texted and invited me to preach this Sunday or next, but I am occupied every Sunday until the first Sunday 2023. I have mailed about 20 books to individuals and a College in West Malaysia that bought my commentary on Galatians.
Monday, December 5, 2022
It was a joyous occasion and it was a sorrowful event. It was a kind of reunion of my former church which I pastored for nearly two years before the vaccine mandate put a stop to the pastorate. The chairman texted the invitation and it was hard to refuse. Quite a few leaders still follow my status updates and also Instagram. I could not reject such an overture. So I went with my wife and it was a joyous occasion. I was seated in the main table with all the elders, all four of them, all of whom walked hand in hand during the difficult 22 months of pandemic ministry.
Saturday, December 3, 2022
It has been a hectic two months of getting my book ready for publication and finally today a bookstore received copies of my newest book for sale. From conception of an idea of writing a book to the finish line, a commercial product sold in open market this has been my experience of getting four books published and sold within 3 years, from December 2019 to December 2022.
Friday, December 2, 2022
Yesterday was a special day. I did not realise it until about 7pm in the evening. I started out the day by delivering two books to a pastor who ordered it during the church's AGM but my books were sold out then. When I looked for him, another pastor showed up and bought another two copies. Then, another pastor asked for the books as well, but I did not bring anymore. I will deliver to the lady pastor in charge of children's ministry early next week. I felt happy as six of my books were sold. In actual fact, many people and churches still do not know that I published a commentary on John's Gospel nearly three years ago.
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
This year has another 33 days before the New Year comes. But what I could celebrate and am celebrating is the fact that I am free from all men, yet making myself a slave to all in order to serve everyone freely. Sometimes it is important to listen to the common people. As in the past month I have been busy getting my book printed I managed to chat with one of my printers and she said something profound. “When you don’t work for money, you can speak the truth.”
Thursday, November 24, 2022
I can't praise God enough for enabling me to get my book done from conception, writing, revising, editing, formatting and finally publication. Today I shall be getting about 100 copies of my Galatians' commentary with the rest to follow in the first week of December. When I launched my book on John's Gospel in my former church in early February 2020, I blurted out my desire to write seven books in my lifetime by God's grace. By I qualified my vision by stating that it was so difficult to get one book out that 7 would be a magical number. When a couple of weeks ago, I handed my manuscript to my printers I sang at the top of my voice in my car giving thanks to Him who deserves all glory. Then, in church one Sunday, maybe two Sunday ago, I received a vision of the number of books I would write before the Lord calls me home or He will return in glory to take me to Himself in the clouds and on Mount Zion.
Saturday, November 12, 2022
It's hard to relax until the book is out end of next week, God willing. I went early to Inanam, one of my popular spots and had breakfast. I had gotten the A5 pdf ready and it will go to the printers on Monday and hopefully the A5 version will be ready by end of November or latest first week of December. I can relax for a couple of weeks, before I will have to start preparing for my Christmas messages. The end of the year comes so quickly in no time this year. At the beginning of the year, it all looked so bleak as I just left my pastorate for some human-made rule. Only the wicked make rules by decree and not let go even when things return to normal. But I did not have to wait very long. By early April, the government announced the endemic phase of the pandemic and all rules were practically over by 1st May which was more than six months ago.
Friday, November 11, 2022
Yesterday I felt a sense of trepidation when I texted my printers to give the go ahead to print my book, my fifth book and the fourth in three years. With God we shall do valiantly. If you asked me three years ago when I had nothing except my thesis published some years back, I would have laughed like Sarah if you told me that I would have four more books out within 36 months. But I don't fancy starting on another one soon. For the past five weeks when I was editing and formatting my book, I got up way too early and sometimes went to sleep past midnight. Even this morning the aftermath of the completion I got up just after 4am.
Monday, November 7, 2022
I preached from four OT texts and 2 NT texts for a 56-min sermon. I stopped rather abruptly as I have two more points as I sensed I might be nearing the one hour mark. But after the song of response, I made an altar call which I felt the Spirit prompting as lo and behold about 15 people came forward to be prayed for which was a third of the congregation. It's a small church of less than50 adults. It was a message in which I felt the anointing from the 3rd minute onwards until the end. When I prayed for those who came forward, 10 of the 15 people wept. In fact, I saw one member weeping as I preached as she wiped her tears dry for throughout the sermon. The Spirit was evident at work through His Word. If Christ's Word is exalted, His Spirit works powerfully to convict hearts. I told the church not to be too engaged with end-time prophecy.
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
I always wonder how John Calvin could have published so much before the advent of modern writing technology. With a laptop I could type for hours and revise and edit many hours thereafter. I just need to click the delete key and correct or add whatever words I want. But even with all the modern tech I find myself wishing that I might be in another career. It is ironic that in the past couple of years when my publishing has gathered steam, I realised as a matter of fact that I am fulfilling my calling, first as a "doctor", a PhD in Biblical Studies. What else does a PhD in the Bible do except writing commentaries on biblical texts?
Sunday, October 30, 2022
I think it must be the rain. It rained all night and kept me up from time to time. By the time I got up it was 3.40am and I thought I should not go back to sleep because I was due to preach this morning at Sunday service. I did not read my notes until 6.30am as I spent two hours reading my manuscript on Galatians. There is still a bit of tidying up to do before I am happy with it. As the service only starts at 10am I did not feel I needed to rush but still gave it another two hours plus in final meditations and worship before the Lord.
Saturday, October 29, 2022
I have read my book twice after the corrections came in from my proofreader. I wish I could find another person to check my manuscript but alas enough is enough. I have given myself one more week to read for a third time before my manuscript goes to the publishers. I have had three separate quotations but only one just priced at RM20.00 per copy. The other two, one mid-20s and one more RM30.00 per copy.
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
But I got a text yesterday asking for my sermon title for Sunday, I realised that it was time for me to take a break from my commentary writing, though I managed to persevere until past 11pm last night going through the excursus that takes up about 10 pages. But since 5am this morning, I was totally focused on sermon preparation and I texted the church clerk with my sermon title just before 9am. But why am I preaching from Job? The book of Job is a book of wisdom and philosophy. It contains much gems even from Job's three friends. Although, God judged them to have spoken wrongly about Job, however, it does not mean their speeches are worthless, or else so much of it would not be included in the book of Job that has come down to us as a biblical canonical book.
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
I got a pleasant surprise two days ago with my proofreader texting me that she had read 100 pages of my book in 2 days and will take a day more to finish. Yesterday she sent the manuscript back by courier which I hope to get by tomorrow. i can’t believe how this has worked out on schedule. Since then I had written 25 pages more in my last chapter and an excursus. When I get the manuscript I will do the corrections and check the references but practically the book is near the finishing line and by mid-November if all goes well, my final manuscript could be with my printers.
Thursday, October 20, 2022
I felt a sense of satisfaction when I went to my printers to print two copies of my manuscript as I reached the completion of my commentary on Galatians in Malay. I started by thinking I could write about 100 pages, then 120 pages but it is now over 150 pages and with the conclusion, it may reach 160 pages in all. I told my wife last night that it was a good book as I re-read the hard copy in my hands, and the other copy sent to my proofreader in a faraway village. If the proofreader could understand, then the intended audience of the Malay-speaking church should be able to appreciate this commentary on Galatians.
Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Like the Acts of Parliament that go through a second and later a third reading before being voted on and approved by legislators, my manuscript has now gone through a second reading. In a couple of days, as I include a few more references and footnotes, I will send it to my proofreader who lives in a far away village (thankfully she could receive the draft through a friend who works in the nearest town). I hope by early next month in November I will receive my manuscript and proceed to do the corrections with the third and final reading. Then, by end of November it should be in the hands of the printers with the publication date to be just before Christmas, God willing.
Thursday, October 13, 2022
Today I have experienced something which I had never experienced before. The fall and fall of the Ringgit is a spectacle to behold, especially against the Singapore dollar and the mighty USD. The last I checked it was MYR4.69 to 1USD. Maybe overnight, it will breach 4.7 and soon in weeks it might fall into the unthinkable 5MYR to a dollar. Singapore dollar also rose strongly to 3.28 this afternoon and I think by month's end it could breach the 3.3 mark. Unimaginable just three months ago. So much politicking, what else are they doing to ensure the wheels of the economy are turning and the running of the government goes smoothly? No wonder it is early General Election. In fact, I welcome it as it might just put an end to intense politicking as after the General Election, at least for a year or two there will be some respite, if there is a stable government with a solid majority.
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Monday, October 10, 2022
Friday, October 7, 2022
This morning I designed the cover of my new book on Galatians over 2 hours. Yes, two hours of designing a cover which is not my forte but I am not going to pay anyone to do the work given the circumstances I find myself. I felt a sense of elation completing the first draft of the book, as it has been a total of eight months of work punctuated by preaching ministry that took me to Ranau in May and Ulu Tomani in August. After the Song was revised and completed in March 2022, I began my quest of writing a commentary on Galatians, a book I had not taught officially in my ten-year tenure as a Bible College lecturer, either in Sabah or Singapore. Given the circumstances I find myself in, would I trade this book that I had just written with RM30,000 fixed salary if I had stayed on in my job?
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Just before I left for Kemabong on 18th August I prayed to the Lord to do a Nehemiah for me as far as my commentary writing was concerned. I prayed that when I came back from ministry I would complete my book within 52 days, the time it took Nehemiah to build the walls of Jerusalem. All surrounding nations knew it was not a human feat when the walls went up in less than 2 months. It is about 49 days since I returned from Kemabong and I only have one verse to comment, the last verse of Galatians.
Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Today is the most sacred day in the biblical calendar, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. As I listened to a semron preached yesterday from Hebrews, I read Hebrews this morning from ch. 1 to ch. 5. I had an early start knowing that I was going to meet a dear brother and fellow pastor at 10am. By 9.30am I already had two solid hours in writing but praised be to God that I have reached the last paragraph of Galatians. Only two months ago I had wondered whether I could get much done this year and now within 2 months I wrote about 20,000 words and another 7 or 8 thousand words will complete my writing.
Inflation is rising through the roof. It's between 20% to 50% where I am. Ta pao rice was Rm8.00 but now it is RM12.00. I just had lunch with pork rice costing RM15.00. If drinks are included it will be close to RM20.00. How do we counter inflation and hyperinflation? As for me, without a fixed income, many people will think it is doubly hard or I got hit by a double whammy. Yes and no in a way as we still live in the world and the ever falling Ringgit can only buy so much as the week goes by. Today it is RM3.25 to one Singapore dollar. When it was RM 2.4 to 1SDG in 2014, one of my friends told me to my face that I was mad to come back to Sabah for good. Those who know that I once held Singapore Permanent Residence would think that I was doubly mad to leave the good life behind.
Monday, October 3, 2022
From the Reformation or before that in the medieval age to about 18th century AD, theology is considered the queen of the sciences, the highest tertiary training one can get. After theology is law and only much later Medicine came to be ranked among the three most pretigious University degree qualifications. Luther trained as a lawyer before he turned into theology after the fateful vow he made when he feared for his life at a thunderstorm. Calvin's education was the reverse as he pursued law all the way before basically self taught himself theology while Luther held a formal doctoral degree in theology.
Saturday, October 1, 2022
I am sitting at a table in a coffee shop, feeling on top of the world, not because I am rich or popular but because of the Lord. Inexpressible joy and peace beyond understanding. After almost a year since I relinquised my pastoral appointment, there is still no light at the end of the tunnel but this morning I spent a solid two hours commenting on Galatians 6:3-5.
Thursday, September 29, 2022
The Psalmist laments that if he speaks or writes in such a way he would offend the generation of His children. People are easily offended nowadays, Christians and non-Christians, liberals and conservatives. I watched briefly that Dr Jordan Peterson said that all he wanted was to speak freely. Not that I agree with all the things Dr Peterson said but on this matter I agree wholeheartedly. It is also my aim in life to speak freely, to speak the truth as “thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).
Sunday, September 25, 2022
It is now less than 24 hours before I will preach God’s Word is a church celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the biblical New Year. As I was having dinner the word of the Lord came to me and I am pretty sure of what I am going to preach tomorrow. Being a preacher for more than 30 years I still tremble and fear before the holy God in whose name I shall speak as the oracles of God. Who is sufficient for all these?
Saturday, September 24, 2022
God willing, I shall be preaching on Monday evening service celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the biblical New Year which begins on Sunday sundown. I think I know what I shall be preaching, though I will focus tomorrow and Monday for full preparation. New Year comes in the fall(autumn) in Israel and it is a time of harvest for the end of the year gathering.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
After my blogspot this morning, I reflected on the third passage the Lord gave me when I returned to Sabah in 2014 to serve once more among the indigenous peoples of Sabah. The Greek word, συγκακουχεῖσθαι is a hapax legomenon, only found in Hebrews 11:25. With the word, "sun" in the beginning of the word, it means Moses identified with God's people and whatever their fate became his fate. It was the same when I returned to Sabah. I had to suffer the afflictions or more accurately, the mistreatment of God's people. What do I mean by the mistreatment of God's people? In Egypt, the Israelites were enslaved and a foreign people in a foreign land. When they wandered in the wilderness, they were wanderers from one place to another for many years, four decades in all. When Moses identified with God's people, he took on their sufferings as slaves. He became like them, in their lowliness.
Has God spoken to you of late? I sought the Lord's will when deciding whether to return to Sabah in 2014. I spent several months in prayer and waiting on the Lord and at the end I felt the Lord spoke to me through three passages of Scripture. First, from Leviticus 25 that on one's 50th year (Jubilee) one is to return to one's land and possessions. At that time I had no possession though I interpret "land" as the land of my birth which God confirmed in another verse in Genesis where Jacob was commanded to return to the land of his birth.
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Today I am taking a break from writing my commentary on Galatians. On our National Day yesterday I wrote morning, evening and night to get as much done as possible. I am starting to expound on the fruits of the Spirit and I hope by October I shall be writing my last chapter on Galatians 6. By November I get it revised as I read through slowly and add whatever footnotes necessary. Hopefully I can get two people to proof read the draft manuscript in December and by January it should be back with me for final revision and formatting.
Friday, September 16, 2022
I was following the news of the late Queen's lying in state and the royal family having to attend many ceremonies and church services in different cities across the United Kingdom in the past few days. Now there is a time to rest for the King and one TV commentator said that the Princess Royal had just returned to "the quiet of her home" for a day or two and deservedly so. I was touched by the phrase, "quiet of the home" and I realised how precious that is since it was only about three and a half years ago that I had returned to my home in Kota Kinabalu after 25 years in full-time Christian service.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
My son said it was a surprise. I prayed that he would come back for Christmas. Maybe we will meet or maybe not. I won't be in KK when he is back. I did not tell him so it might be a surprise to him. He should know that Christmas season is my busiest time for me. Seven years when he got back for a short trip he managed to come along and we spent two days and two nights in Ranau before driving back midnight Christmas Day for him to catch a flight back to NZ. But this year the timing is out for I shall be away on 23rd December 2022.
Monday, September 12, 2022
As storage across my laptops and desktop are filled up as time goes by, I have been going back and listening to my old sermons and see if I could delete some of them to make space for new ones. I don't even record in 4K but 1080p but over time it takes up easily 2TB of space in the past two years. But the highest storage I have is only 512GB and my 2017 MacBook Pro only comes with 256GB. As I listened to my sermons, I must say that I am reluctant to delete any of my videos because of their contents which consist of the exposition of God's Word. Perhaps, one day God will grant me my prayers over 25 years for a personal assistant who can help compile all my recorded sermons and make it into a series of teachings.
Thursday, September 8, 2022
If you only read ths title you probably wonder what this blogpost is all about. I watched the Apple Event live on Youtube early this morning for about an hour until they got to the most exciting product, the Iphone 14 pro max. The top end model costs RM8,299 while the previous model costs RM700.00 less. The price in US remains the same across board but you have nearly a thousand ringgit increase in the top tier model. It's all about the exchange rate. Being an Apple user who had just purchased a 2-year old MacMini with the old price is a steal when Apple estimated the Ringgit to be 4.3. I told my friend that Apple products would be more expensive and sure enough when the M2 Macbooks were launched two months ago Apple pecked the Ringgit at 4.6 when the Ringgit was hovering at 4.3.
Monday, September 5, 2022
Sunday, September 4, 2022
Solomon laments that it is rare to find a faithful man, perhaps at best one in a thousand that is 0.001% (Ecclesiastes). Say a city has 1,000,000 people which Kota Kinabalu including its surrounding suburbs would have, you have 500,000 men and only 500 are faithful men. It is a small number. Through these times of testing and pandemic, we see there are less and less faithful men. Men that would not or could not keep a promise. Some 10 years ago, I was promised by a friend that he would get back to me within one month. It was not casual talk, as he repeated his promise with a certain assuredness that he would do what he promised. In fact I met him in a Conference 5 years ago in a third country, but he simply shrugged it off when I reminded him of his promise.
Saturday, September 3, 2022
Jeremiah, the prophet was appointed by God to be the assayer of His people, to test and examine their behaviour and spirituality before Him. The people of Judah are backsliding fast and their actions were becoming abhorrent to God. During these present times of pestilence and the pandemic that comes with it, God's people are tested and examined once more, whether we truly love Him, His Church and whether we love one another. "Act justly towards one another" thunders Jeremiah. "Do not think evil of your brother" saith the Lord delivered by Zechariah, the prophet. What does it mean to act justly and think of others without malice, prejudice and ill-will?
Thursday, September 1, 2022
I am pleased and encouraged by a pastor's comments on my John's Gospel's commentary last Sunday. I did not seek it but when he saw I was holding a copy of the book, he said that he bought a copy some months back and was blessed by it. That gave me further impetus to write the Galatians' commentary that I am working on since March this year. After the difficult chapters of Gal 2 & Gal 3, I have reached the last paragraph of Gal 4 on Hagar and Sarah. Paul's letter to the Galatians is a great epistle and one of my three favourites as a young Christian (the other two being Romans and John's Gospel). Books in Malay are not only scarce but rare. There are a few Indonesian books but the Indonesian language has developed and diverged so much from Malay (Malaysia's Malay) that only scholars and those educated in Indonesia could understand. So it behoves me to write books in Malay to bless the Malay-speaking church especially among the indigenous peoples.
Monday, August 29, 2022
Yesterday I drove to Kota Belud not knowing where I was going to attend Sunday service. It was about 2 months when on the way to Ranau's Bible College I decided last minute to attend church where I was asked to preach last minute. This time round, my decision was made easy as about 7.30am I received at text from a pastor friend to meet at another place instead of the town centre in Kota Belud as agreed a week before. So I arrived at the church near my meeting place and I went in at about 9.50am. The service already started and the announcements must have taken at least 15 minutes. There were about 150 adults (just about the same attendance as my previous Sunday's service at Kalibatang). I shook hands with the ushers (all four of them) and none recognised me and that was fine since it was probably 15 or 20 years that I last preached in the church.
Thursday, August 25, 2022
It’s not easy to be a preacher and an author at the same time. This month of August is most telling. Early in the month I spent about 10 days writing up a research proposal and updating my CV and getting both my referees on board. Then, it was preaching in a church in KK but the Bible Study in the afternoon took a lot out of me until I rested for two or three days for full recuperation, spirit and body. By then, last Wednesday I prepared in earnest two sessions of praise and worship, all fresh and newly minted in two sets of PowerPoint. I also prepared to preach a sermon on Sunday.
Monday, August 15, 2022
After 5 weeks, I started preaching again and another trip for preaching this coming Sunday. Yesterday, I preached in a small church of less than 100 adults (70 adults present) and I was glad that there were three visitors and they joined us for lunch after the service which ended at 11.45am. The service started about 10.10am and I preached for 47 minutes on a text from Matthew 5:14-16 on the Church being the light of the world. I used multiple texts including 1 John 1:5, 7, 2 Cor 4:1-6; Luke 11:40-41 and two passages from the OT, Daniel 12:3 and Isaiah 60:1-4.
Saturday, August 13, 2022
When I wrote my research proposal for Ecclesiastes, one of the verses that stood out for me is one taken from Eccles 9 where Solomon the king said that "in the grave where we are all going, there will be no work nor planning...". Interesting to note that while we still live on earth, there will be much work to do and much planning. As far as I am concerned, now coming to 10 months since October last year, I have been thinking and planning my writing projects for the next 2 or 3 years. I have accomplished what I had set out to do at the end of last year which was to finish and publish my revised version of my Song of Songs' commentary.
Thursday, August 11, 2022
I was surprised a couple of weeks ago to find my Departure Points on Google Scholar. But it must be by divine appointment since now I can refer my prospective buyers or interested parties to go to the link and they can access the first 38 pages. Further, on my publishers' website (nhpborneo.com), there are a few pages extra uploaded recently with photos inside of the book. That would help promote the book further than just the front and back covers.
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
For the past 5 days I had been fully occupied in getting my application ready for some research scholarship which allows use of libraries over 10 weeks. What could be more enticing? When I was finishing my doctoral study at St John's College, Auckland where I was based for 10 weeks I wrote that "it was like heaven on earth" staying within 50 metres of the library.
Thursday, August 4, 2022
Saturday, July 30, 2022
Thursday, July 28, 2022
After the excitement of late June and early July when I preached three times from Sunday to Sunday and taught a 5 day intensive class, I experienced a lull of several weeks of inactivity. Only a few days ago I started again to write the Galatians commentary and when I edited this morning I felt a sense of happiness with what I had written. It is just 43 pages and I hope to reach at least 100 pages in total.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
"Preserve me, O Lord for in Thee do I put my trust" (Psalm 16:1). Today I want to remember Thy goodness, O Lord. For there is nothing good in me apart from Thee and I know it full well. Only You can preserve me from all harm and prevent me from going into the pit. For You have sent Your Word and healed me and has not allowed my feet to slip but stand in Your grace. Only Your Holy Spirit strengthens me, for I have no strength except in Thee, O Lord.
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Jeremiah and Ezekiel would be among the priests who could not serve in the Temple for one reason or another, but at the end, God called them to be His prophets. They lived in momentous times in the history of Israel. For almost 25 years Jeremiah prophesied of the coming destruction but no one seemed to listen until Babylon arrived at the gates of Jerusalem. Ezekiel was taken into exile and for many years the exiles had their hopes of an early return but to no avail. Ezekiel prophesied to them before, during and after the destruction of the Temple.
Saturday, July 23, 2022
The show goes on for most people without asking “is the Lord amongst us?” No wonder Malachi the prophet cried out that the doors of the Temple might be closed! It is religious services aplenty without heart and soul. People’s hearts are far from the Lord and their worship is by rote and man’s commandments but there is little of the love of God. The righteous perishes and no one takes it to heart (Psalm 12). I remember my last acts as pastor last September that I was right in the midst of the Flood story of Genesis 6-10. Twice when Noah was introduced he is said to be the only righteous man living on the earth. The rest ignored God and only Noah walked with God. He was the only righteous man among his contemporaries.
Monday, July 18, 2022
I am certainly not a health gospel proponent. With Paul saying how much bodily weaknesses he had had to experience and endure to the chagrin of some of the apostle’s opponents who saw Paul as weak, sickly and one with not a great deal of charisma (2 Cor 12). Yet no one who reads Paul would not think Paul as a healthy and robust person, having to walk hundreds of miles, across mountains and valleys and sailed from sea to sea. My one hour ferry trip to Pulau Banggi in Oct 2019 was enough to give me a few night mares of sea-sickness which I experienced, even a short journey from Singapore to Bintan (1.2 hours).
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
In 8 minutes before the sermon I had the opportunity to share what God was doing in the world. Remarkably as I experienced two Sundays ago, the elder asked me to give a word of the Lord before he preached. After the sermon I conducted the Lord's communion as an ordained minister of the Gospel. It is better to trust in the Lord than in princes. It seems as the Lord leads I visit churches by the will of the Lord and become a blessing to the church gathered in Jesus' Name.
Friday, July 8, 2022
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Jesus said that He would send, "prophets, wise men and scribes" (Matthew 23:34). Sometimes scholars and writers get a bad press among some circles of Christians. There is still an anti-intellectual movement around just as there are groups that are over-intellectual in their approach to faith.
As in the book of Daniel, it is the "wise men" that would bring many to righteousness and it is the wise ones who will make it through the End-times. God-given wisdom is very much lacking in church today. There are many highly educated people in the non-theological fields as well as many doctorates in theology and ministry. But godly and heavenly wisdom is for those who fear God and truly love His Word.
My work is a labour of faith for the edification of the church of Jesus Christ. Yesterday at least 10 people came up to me after the sermon and thanked me. A few more greeted me outside the church doors (the church is located in one of the KK's Malls). I preached on the given text from Acts 11:19-26 on the "Missional Church". It was not just a history lesson of the church in Acts 2,000 years ago, but through the Spirit we could bring to bear what the Lord has to say to his church today for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10).
Monday, July 4, 2022
It's been a whirlwind week, literally and figuratively. I preached two Sundays in a row and taught a 5-day intensive class in between. I drove up to Ranau the Sunday before, hoping to stop by some SIB church for worship before continuing my journey to Namaus, Ranau where the College is located. I stopped just before the ascent to Mount Kinabalu at Tamparuli and it was my first time in the church. Lo and behold, two songs before the sermon, the pastor came over to me and said that I would be taking his place for preaching and with a few seconds' pause I had agreed to his request. So I ascended to the pulpit with about 5 minutes' preparation in my heart and spirit and I preached not a bad sermon given the circumstances. Several church leaders came up to me and said they would like to invite me back for ministry.
Saturday, July 2, 2022
Friday, July 1, 2022
When the Principal of the Bible College that invited me to teach an intensive course on Johannine literature asked me how I felt about returning to the Campus after 2 years, I told him that I took it as a mission trip. In fact, I stayed in the same house I stayed for two years called the Maroon house, next to the Hostel. But the same problems persisted like there was no running water the next day after my arrival last Sunday until I left this morning. It was a trial but I persevered as someone fighting in a war. When you are on a mission, you make do with what you have and never complained. I only asked the student to fetch me water on the last day of lectures as all my water containers were all dry.
Friday, June 24, 2022
Those with world-class doctorates should be on a trajectory of upward mobility, as one might think. It was Singapore's DPM at TTC's 70th anniversary in 2018 who mentioned my alma mater, Otago University alongside Yale University as world-class institutions with which my former College had links including joint research and doctoral supervision. But I have only experienced downward mobility despite like what Paul (if I wanted to I could boast in the flesh) said he could speak like a fool and boast. But Jesus Christ, who is with God and equal with Him chose to empty himself and became man, not just any man but humbled himself as a slave and suffered and died on the cross. There is no greater downward mobility than what we read at Philippians 2. I chose a life of faith, not just as a pastor or full-time worker but as a Christian and follower of Christ.
Thursday, June 23, 2022
No wonder Solomon said that making of books could be a weariness of the flesh (Eccle 12). The final week of making a book is always the toughest because one has to read the final drafts and prints. My printers had been very helpful and over the past 6 days, they printed three different copies for me until I was fully satisfied with it. Considering the budget that I have, I could do what I could do without hiring proof-readers and cover designers. I did everything myself this time until the 40th draft. Everything has to be as perfect as possible from the margins, the font size, the cover design, the front page, the preface and last but not least the back cover.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
The struggle in the Church for truth and justice is never greater. Especially so since the pandemic struck and many churches are still slow in welcoming members back to church, vaccinated or unvaccinated. I have a feeling that a majority of vaccinated did not welcome the government's relaxation of SOPs almost two months ago. In fact, the Malaysian government announced in early April 2022 that unvaccinated could return to work with the vaccinated and there would be no restrictions whatsoever. Pastors and church leaders who claim to serve a living God are slow to respond as many unvaccinated pastors are still out of a job and are not welcome in some places. It is a struggle between light and darkness.
Friday, June 17, 2022
I do not know how I survived using laptops for 8 years; the first four years, a small laptop of MacBook Air 11.6 which I bought with the gratuity upon leaving my former College in Singapore. I wrote the first 9 chapters of Departure Points using the laptop in Sept-Oct 2014. Then, with a generous gift I bought a MacBook Pro 13-inch at Changi Airport in Feb 2018 and until recently I have used it almost daily. The 13-inch laptop had produced three books, Departure Points (Dec 2019), Commentary on John's Gospel in Malay (Feb 2020) and Concise Commentary on the Song of Solomon (Jan 2021). Now I have used the 13inch laptop to revise the Song's commentary and it will be published in a couple of weeks, God willing.
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Two days ago my close friend whom I have lunch almost once a week or fortnight told me why don't I find something to do so that my bank balance does not drop. Even those closest to you could be a hindrance as Peter was rebuked by Jesus for telling him not to go the way of the cross. The vast majority of people including Christians think that ministry is being employed in a church or a Seminary. In fact, I preached a sermon on how prophets made their living on the basis of the book of Amos. You won't find too many prophets employed by the royal court or other institutions. In fact, many of those employed by kings and princes were false prophets because they had to speak what their masters told them or at least they dare not offend their pay-masters.
Monday, June 13, 2022
In fact, it was less than RM50.00 per month. My insurance agent called this afternoon to inform me that my insurance policy had expired in April. If I were paying RM300 per month I am sure I would have received a call two months before expiry. Even agents did not really want to deal with low premiums and their petrol money spent to service such clients may not be worth their while.
Solomon must be a sad man. If you read Ecclesiastes in any fashion you will feel sad. Because when one increases knowledge one increases in sadness. Why is that so. Because one begins to understand how the world works, it’s futility and evil. Yes, evil. Much evil happens due to envy and hatred. Did not Cain slaughter his brother because Abel’s work is more righteous than Cain’s? It is the same now.
Sunday, June 5, 2022
This coming Sunday exactly a week from now I shall be preaching about church unity. It is time to close ranks after much rancour on church closure and vaccination requirements. As I walked into the church hall this morning ai met an old friend whom I had not spoken with for a long time. When he found out the reason why I was not employed in church, he told me his own stories.
Saturday, June 4, 2022
In the past several months I have learned to live day by day, and not worry about tomorrow. In many ways it is the way to live without worries since if you think about what tomorrow may one is bound to worry. I packed a small bag enough for travel for 2 days and when I feel like it I will go where I think the Lord will lead me. At least I have a home to return to and a small village dwelling that I call my second home. Yesterday I started driving without knowing where I would go. I could go north to Kudat to sell my books or I go South to Sipitang to sell my books but I ended up in my wife’s village just after 11am. It was a long drive as the road condition was worse when I traveled there 6 months ago and there was an accident which kept me waiting in my car before the tow trucks arrived. Tomorrow I don’t know where to worship. Would it be in Tambunan or Keningau or I could drive back to KK early in the morning? I am free to go where I please and do whatever I want whenever I want. I am free from all men so that I could be slave to all as I serve Christ.
Thursday, June 2, 2022
It’s almost confirmed now that I shall be teaching an intensive course on Johannine literature at the end of the month in Ranau. I was hesitant to take up the invitation not just because I have to drive for 3 hours to the College with the road conditions getting worse and heavy traffic most of the time but also nowadays I feel tired after a three hour course let alone a 30 hour intensive over 5 days. Next Sunday when I preach in church I will solicit prayers from my friends there and all prayer support is much needed. Today I spent some time writing Galatians 2 and it is really the most complex of any chapters in all of Paul’s 13 letters.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
I received two invitations to preach last Sunday in two of the biggest churches in Kota Kinabalu. God willing, I shall be teaching an intensive course in Ranau at the end of June. Yesterday I grabbed an hour plus writing my Galatians commentary. It is up to the place where Paul rebuked Peter publicly. Nowadays who dares do that to a top leader in the denomination?
Friday, May 27, 2022
I made an unexpected appearance in the night meeting of our Pastors' Conference last night. It was open to all church members and I thought I might attend the second and final night (which is tonight) but yesterday by 6pm I received several texts from my former students who are all pastors now and they asked me whether I would be attending the Conference. Let everything be established by two or three witnesses, says Scripture and if there was only one person I would have ignored the invite.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
There is no doubt that we have entered into the times of Elijah. A time of spiritual apostasy. A time of apostate spiritual leadership. And suddenly Elijah appeared to rebuke King Ahab. And suddenly he disappeared once more. Elijah could only do that if he really believed that God was on his side and he was the one true prophet when many went backwards. Why do I say that now is the times of Elijah? Imagine for the past two years and three months. How many have gone backwards with wrong theology? How many churches have shut down? And when they reopened late last year, how many have put draconian conditions on church entry?
Saturday, May 21, 2022
In the past few weeks I have been keeping track of two currencies, namely, US and SG dollars respectively. The US dollar is still the global unit of exchange as most exports and imports are denominated in the American dollar. When it goes up, imports are more expensive and this adds to the rate of inflation across board including many essential items. The SGD yesterday hit a high of 3.19 and soon it will be 3.25 RM to 1SGD. That's a remarkable rise since 2014 when I left Singapore for Sabah, as it was still less than 2.5RM to 1SGD. And also in August 2014, Ringgit Malaysia was doing reasonably well with the exchange rate of 3.15 to 1USD but now the rate is 4.4. The fall of the Malaysian Ringgit early 2015 coincided with the 1MDB financial crisis in Malaysia with billions siphoned off into off-shore accounts and personal accounts of politicians and other individuals. Until today we have no closure on 1MDB as the parties concerned are still on trial, some in USA and a few more in Malaysia.
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
If things go well, I shall be teaching an intensive course on Johannine literature at my former College in the forthcoming Semester. The dates are to be fixed by mutual agreement and I do pray that it will work out by God's will. I was extremely reluctant to accept the invitation at first for various reasons, least of all, my reluctance to travel far. Ten days ago when I preached in Ranau was due to some persuasion from the Ranau's church to see their former pastor. But yesterday, a couple of my former students sent me Teachers' Day's greetings and both reminded me that my teaching had been an instrument of God's grace in their lives and impacted them until today.
Thursday, May 12, 2022
It has been a momentous week. Last Saturday the French President was inaugurated into a 2nd term after winning re-election with South Korea’s President Yoon inaugurated into his first and only 5-year term last Tuesday and on the same day, on 10th May news came that Ferdinand Marcos Jr had won Philippine’s Presidency in a landslide. On Monday 9th May Europe celebrated the end of WW2 and Russia’s Victory Day though this year brings much uncertainty as the war between Russia and Ukraine rages on. It has been a momentous week.
Monday, May 9, 2022
Yesterday the church hall was almost full. No wonder last Sunday they announced that their former pastor was coming for a visit and when I wanted to pull out due to a family function I was told that many would be disappointed if I did not show up. So I duly went and it was only on Thursday night that I knew I was preaching with less than 2 days’ preparation. But overall my former church had lost at least 50 percent of its members since the pandemic. Before that we had two services and before I came they had trouble filling up half the seats. Lord, where have Your sheep gone?
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Sometimes one has to keep an ear open even to strangers and mavericks in our midst. Knowing that today is the last day of holidays I drove to the city centre early and had breakfast. Then I went to my barber of 34 years (since 1988) and he is in his 70s. But a stranger came in and started talking in Shan Tong mandarin/Chinese which my barber understood little and I less. But he kept looking at me and said a few things like having a prominent forehead which led him to say that I must be a “ling dao”. I asked the barber what he meant but the guy told me something which I understood a bit, a ling dao is a band leader or tour guide, leading a group. When I heard about a tour guide (I could be wrong in understanding him), I laughed it off. My barber said “ling dao” means “pembesar” or a high official like a judge, so I said that’s not me but my brother who happens to be a judge. But then what this person said stayed with me for a while including that he predicted that I must be born in the year of the dragon and he got that right.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
There is palpable joy in the city. Malls are full again. Streets and sidewalks are buzzing with people. With a stroke of genius, the Malaysian political leadership announced the day and year of release coinciding with major holidays. Only in church there was hardly a murmur of joy. If I were leading worship or asked to say a prayer I would have led the congregation to shout Hosanna and Halleluyah which I did on August 30th 2020 at the height of the pandemic. We will not fear but through our God we shall do valiantly. Do I feel vindicated with my decision?
Monday, May 2, 2022
A third of the year is past. We have less than 2/3 of 2022 before 2023 comes along. Three days could bring much change and when the Government of Malaysia announced relaxation of the SOPs and allowing entry into premises, the first person who texted me was a close friend, a senior politician in the State. It appeared that he remembered what I told him during my visit to his place early in the year. I waited for three days after the announcement until late Saturday to gauge any reaction from church leaders, but there was none. It is indeed ironic it seems that tightening of SOPs receiving more attention but relaxation giving way for church entry like before, no one seemed to be rejoicing. "My people perish for the lack of knowledge".
Friday, April 29, 2022
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
I gave up everything when I entered full-time ministry in 1994. I came back to Sabah with zero savings, zero money. I drove the College's van for the first year when needed for official duties and I rarely made the rocky trip to Kota Belud township over 90 mins. Now it is only about half an hour on tarred roads. When I served in the HQ for 3 years, as treasurer I sourced and raised funds to purchase cars for my colleagues and at the end I got to drive a 1.5L Proton Saga which took me to over 30 villages from mid-1997 to the end of 1998. Before that I drove a 20-year old van which manual hand-gear and iron rods sticking out of the driver's seats which I covered with newspapers and cushion. I drove that old van twice to Telupid from KK and back about 4.5 hours one way without air-condition. It was not until the end of 2001 when I received news that my Otago PhD grant was going to be increased by NZ7,000 for my final year that I considered buying my own car. I saved up for a third of the price and took out a 3-year loan on a Kancil 660CC.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Monday, April 25, 2022
In a real democracy like France, people can choose their leaders. After two gruelling rounds, Emmanuel Macron is re-elected President of France with 58.5% versus 41.5% for Marine Le Pen. Not bad for my prediction of Macron's 59% and Le Pen's 41%. I have been a political enthusiast and observer since Form 2 in the era of President Jimmy Carter in 1978. I have grown up watching the elections of major countries for the past 45 years. When a friend posted in our School's group about a politician that would succeed as Singapore's PM, I responded that he would likely make a good Prime Minister. At least he plays the guitar and is more down to earth than most of his colleagues. His upbringing around Marine Parade and Tanjong Katong areas also brought back memories of my time at St. Patrick's Sec. School. I also added a comment of my hope that the succession would happen within a year.
Saturday, April 23, 2022
This morning at 5-am I got up feeling really well. It is not everynight that I could sleep so well. Perhaps it is because my big day is coming. Today is my 9999th day in full-time ministry and tomorrow I will hit the bull-eye of the number of 10,000 days and it coincides with my 40th anniversary in Christ when the risen Lord appeared to me in my bedroom at Ilams Flats University of Canterbury Christchurch NZ in 1982. No wonder I am more a Calvinist than an Arminian though both sides I can't please because I am 80percent Calvinist and 20 percent Arminian.
Monday, April 18, 2022
I was stunned when on Saturday the day before Resurrection Sunday I read the verse from John's Gospel. Is Jesus teaching about good works for salvation? Or what is Jesus getting at? Over Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday long weekend there would be many "church services". Sometimes preachers, like Christmas, don't know what to preach anymore on Good Friday since it is repeated every year. At least for me, I rested from Christmas 2021 and now Good Friday 2022. It's a relief not to be preaching during these big Festivals. But yet that verse struck me like an arrow that one day God will judge us on the basis of our works, whether good or bad.
Sunday, April 17, 2022
Saturday, April 16, 2022
John mentioned three different Passovers in his Gospel. Many of Jesus' teachings were centred on the celebration of Passover. The day before Passover or Passover Eve seems significant in John as it is highlighted throughout in the final hours of Jesus' life. Jesus was nailed to the cross at 9am and died at 3pm at the time of the daily evening sacrifice of a lamb in the temple courts. Why did Jesus hang on the cross for 6 hours? Actually death by crucifixion could take days as it is the severest of all forms of capital punishment reserved for rebels, murderers, and those who commit treason against the Roman State. It is extremely painful form of suffering and death where one fights for air into the lungs and blood dripped from nailed hands and feet. But Jesus died after 6 hours on the cross.
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
A double Sabbatical, that is a total 2 years is a biblical concept. It comes with the year of Jubilee, the 50th year where everyone has to return to their land and kin (Lev 25). But the year of Jubilee is actually a second sabbatical year because the 49th year is also a sabbatical year with every 7th year, a year of sabbath rest for the land to lie fallow before restarting the process of sowing and reaping. For the first time since my full-time ministry which will soon hit the magical number of 10,000 days, I think this time around, my sabbatical time of rest from active ministry will last for 2 years. "Not my will but Yours be done, O Lord".
Monday, April 11, 2022
When the Russia-Ukraine war started I told my wife to stock up the essentials like Nescafe, rice and stuff. But she was nonchalant about it as the war seems so far away. Lo and behold when we bought our usual Nescafé jar two weeks ago the price had gone up by RM2.70 which was about 12per cent increase. And tonight just before dinner, I stopped by the bakery to buy bread. And it was 50 cents more expensive per loaf of bread which amounts to 13 percent increase.
It's been a learning experience selling my books in the rural churches. Since January during which I travelled twice into the interior of Sabah I had not travelled again for the past 3 months and have been relying on my book sale since. This morning I heard from a Keningau church that he sold 17 of my books in two churches and one home group and only three books left unsold. Another Keningau church told me they had sold only 7. I thought as a big church in town they would sell at least 15.
Sunday, April 10, 2022
Whenever weekend comes, I have all sorts of mixed feelings. For many years now, the weekend was my busiest period, preparing for sermons, opening the church doors often early on Sunday morning in Ranau and Kota Kinabalu, when no one was in sight. God knows I love His house, His church, the gathering of His saints, especially on a Sunday. I was the first one to be in God's house, as a priest ready to offer to God sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving for myself and for the flock of God which I serve as shepherd. I take intercessory prayers with absolute seriousness before the service started and also at the end of the sermon when we had a 10-minute prayer intercession.
Saturday, April 9, 2022
In my spare time I love to watch move-in College vlogs. Most of these vlogs are from Ivy league Universities in the US. I don't have much inclination to visit US partly due to the distance of 20 hours' flight time. If per chance one day I make it I'd love to visit a few of these Ivy league Universities. John Harvard was a pastor and he gave half his fortune to the University/College that later took up his name.
Friday, April 8, 2022
One of the promises that Jesus promised the overcomers in the book of Revelation is that they would be made pillars in the new Temple of God and they will never leave the Temple. I shared this verse with my leaders in my last Council meeting (elders and deacons) and I told them as a pastor I should not have to leave the church. I saw no reason why a shepherd had to leave his flock. "I have not run away from being a shepherd" (Jer 17). We must find a way like Daniel and his friends who did not just accept the king's dictates but asked for time so that they could pray for wisdom from God.
Monday, April 4, 2022
Three months and three days have passed in 2022. In 11 days' time we shall be celebrating Passover, commemorating Jesus' death on the cross 2,000 years ago. After two weeks of writing a commentary on Galatians, I switched back to the commentary on the Song of Solomon. I designed a new cover and printed a hard copy from a printing company. It helped tremendously to get my bearing on the font size and formatting of the book as reading it over the past 6 months on a computer screen had not been easy. It makes me think how important physical books are, despite the popularity of e-books. It is different when one holds a book in one's hands, and flip the pages with words in them. One's interaction and engagement with a hard copy is certainly much more enjoyable, worth the RM20.00 I spent on printing a copy.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
On Sunday and yesterday I meditated deeply in God's Word from the Psalms as usual. David with all his experience of life is the man's man. There is a Psalm for every situation in life and God intended the book of Psalms to be so. When I cry out to God and He answered, "I am your protector God". Protection from what, you may ask? Since human beings are so self reliant and mock those who are helpless and look to God for help.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Service can mean several things. First, Sunday worship with preaching. Second, it is what we do in response to God’s love, either in service to God or to men for the glory of God. Now that my Sundays are “free” I have more time to do service for others. One is service to my family especially my elderly mother. Before this, Sunday is the busiest time of my ministry and at best I can afford Sunday evening if there is a family event.
Friday, March 25, 2022
In terms of genre, Song of Songs and Galatians can't be further apart. But I have been working on both for quite some time now, taking more than 4 months (Dec 2021-March 2022) to revise my concise commentary on the Song, completed just before the Feast of Purim on the 16th March. Since then, I have been working hard on my Galatians commentary which I am writing in Malay. At the risk of self-promotion, to the best of my knowledge I have not come across any bilingual scholar in Malaysia who have published in two languages, perhaps there are some in English and Chinese Mandarin but I can't name even one author who has published in English and Malay, our national language as far as theological books are concerned. After nearly 60 years of Malaysia Federation coming into being (Sept 1963), issues of languages still plague the political debates.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Monday, March 21, 2022
I came across a blogpost I wrote on 31st January 2017, right in the middle of my 4-year period in Ranau which ended on 31st January 2019. I read a passage there that my Triton had done 35,000 kms over two years and yes it was right in the middle as when I came back to KOTA KINABALU I would have done 70,000kms in 4 years up the mountains and down the valleys. I miss my pickup truck. Sometimes I feel I should not have sold the car. Now when I travelled to outstation, I get worried about potholes and flash floods which my Triton had traversed many times.
Sunday, March 20, 2022
I woke up with joy perhaps an overflow from last night when I worshipped in my study singing along a song I recorded last September. I was overjoyed that I said I might enter the church today incognito (curi curi masuk) but this morning when I turned on my former church’s online service, a real sadness descended upon me and I could not watch any longer but mourned silently before the Lord. How incredulous the church found itself to be in, subject to the rule of men, bound by fear of Covid19 rather than the fear of God and His commandments. Prove to me that Jesus would exclude someone from worship in the assembly of the saints based on vaccination status. Show me your theology and Scripture and I will prove you wrong by the word of the Lord.
Saturday, March 19, 2022
I have just readjusted my table set-up in preparation for writing a new book. It's sea change for me and it gave me new impetus and I have written the first 1,500 words of my Galatian commentary in Malay within the last 24 hours. I know the market for my Malay books is small but I serve this indigenous community that needs all the help they can get, whether they appreciate it or not. I invested some money on new tech. Not new tech but 18-month old tech, Apple M1 Mac Mini which came out October 2020. My MacBook Pro 13 inch had gone past 4 years old and with only duo core and 256GB memory, it is slowing down. For the past 12 months, I kept deleting files to make room for me to save newer files and videos. So a few days ago I decided to take the plunge and bought a Mac Mini and a Magic Trackpad.
Monday, March 14, 2022
For many weeks now, I have been meditating and reflecting on why so many Christians just take things so calmly as if there is nothing wrong in segregating or excluding other believers from Sunday worship. They may justify it on many reasons but at the end of it, they do not know the mind of Christ in this matter and they happily go about with their human and worldly wisdom. I was reading Acts 26 and one verse struck me was that Paul (before his encounter with the risen Christ) was convinced that he was serving God by opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. When the risen Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked him, "Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Persecuting Christians or Christ's disciples is persecuting Christ himself.
Thursday, March 10, 2022
I have not been short of ministry besides preaching from the pulpit. Like Elijah sent to a widow but not to others in the 3 and a half years of drought and famine, I have ministered to those in need spiritually. Never a week passes without me doing something significant according to the will of the Lord. I accompanied a friend to a police station about 10 days ago and it was my first time back in the police's KK headquarters in Kepayan since I represented a client/accused in 1992. Yes, 30 years ago! It was in a completely new building and things have changed. But human beings do not change and I have opportunity to minister to a couple of police officers, not sharing the Gospel openly but giving a piece of advice.
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
I told my wife that today I felt a sudden sadness. Perhaps I have been reading too much of the prophets. Most people don't read the prophets and that is why they can go living merrily without a concern in the world. Solomon writes that if one increases knowledge, he increases sorrows (Ecclesiastes). Ignorance may be bliss but spiritually dangerous. I read Ezekiel in the morning and Jeremiah in the evening. I read from both the Hebrew and the Greek with NETS and also my recently acquired Lexham English Septuagint. I read from Ezekiel 2 to 12. And this evening I read from Jeremiah 9 which has a passage that says, "Who is the man wise enough to understand this? Who has the Lord spoken to, that he may explain it?" (Jeremiah 9:12). Surely, we need wisdom but very few are wise.
Monday, March 7, 2022
The wisdom of Sirach which did not make it as part of the canon tells us that scholarly pursuits require much leisurely time (Sirach 39). I have been staying at home for more than 5 months and the past two months revising my book on the Song of Songs. Sometimes I despair of taking so much time, revising and re-writing and editing my book. But today I came to the realization that God is eternal and dwell in timelessness, though He is the creator of time which He will wrap up in good time and return to a time when it is called "time is no more" (Rev 10:6).
Thursday, March 3, 2022
Leadership is vital and essential for the growth of the Church or for any spiritual endeavour to succeed. In the past week, there are many happenings in Kota Kinabalu. Most of the newsfeed tend to the negative and worrisome, but sometimes we need to appreciate that many people are suffering. Some suffer when they fall sick due to Covid-19 infection. Some suffer when they lose their jobs and livelihood. Some suffer as a result of wars and have to flee to a safe haven in Poland or Romania. But many suffer as a result of failure in leadership. For us believers, it is not just a matter of avoiding evil or sin but actively doing good or seek to do good whenever opportunity avails us. "He who knows to do good but fails to do so sins". It is the sin of omission.
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
I know some of my friends are extremely concerned for me, not so much for my health which is fine (thanks be to God) but for my financial well-being. Even a pastor friend who dropped by last week asked how I was coping and how I was surviving without a "job". As for more than 27 years in ministry, I never once considered what I am doing a "job", not even a "ministry" as some would understand it, but more as "obedience" like what Paul said that, "I was not disobedient to the heavenly calling" (Acts 22). Often-times, even among Christian circles and clergymen see ministry as a career for advancement either in authority and power or financial gain.
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
I ended the month of February without a sign from the Lord when the SOPs restricting my ministry would be loosened. Around the world, in India, Sweden, Denmark and England, many of the restrictions which were put in place due to the Covid-19 virus have been removed. I hope in the Lord that it won't be too long in Malaysia, preferably by year's end when travel restrictions would be eased for one and all. Anyhow, it has been a fruitful February, literally and spiritually. Literally, just as the sunset was near last night, I plucked two combs of bananas from the bottom of the hill behind my house.
Monday, February 28, 2022
"Lord, on You I wait all day long". I am waiting for the next move of God in my life. My first phase of my life in Sabah after my return from Singapore has ended last year. In total I served about 6 years with 4 years in Ranau and 2 years in Kota Kinabalu. In all, I waited about 20 months for my different postings, three or four altogether. Even in Ranau, I moved all my things back to KK for a mere two months before taking my things back to the Bible College in Ranau at the end of August 2016. Is it a surprise that I called my memoirs like the journeying of Israel in the wilderness as "Departure Points"? All that concluded four phases of my ministry from 1994.
Sunday, February 27, 2022
I may have more time to blog now but unless there is something to blog about, the blog remains silent. For a long time which I can't remember, this morning my blog hits a new milestone, going above 3,000 unique visitors for the first time in the month of February which still has more than 24 hours to go. I am thrilled to have on average 100 readers visiting the blog daily from many different nations, especially the United States of America. I felt the Lord is restoring to me what was lost 11 years ago when I stopped blogging for a year due to some reasons that one day God willing, I will write about.
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