Monday, January 31, 2022

Road Trip in Sabah

Yesterday I had a long day, 10 hours in all starting at 6.30am and arriving home at 4.30pm. I drove to Papar and had breakfast at 7.30am before driving to Keningau via the Kimanis Crocker Range road which has several stretches of the steepest roads in Sabah. I arrived in Keningau in good time just before 9am and reached a church there before the Sunday service at 9.30am. Thankfully the pastor is a good friend and chatted with him for about 15 mins before leaving 60 books with him for the churches in Keningau District. I was invited to attend the service but the pastor forgot what I just told him, so we parted in peace and I headed to another church about 15kms away.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

You will be tended by His Wealth (Psalm 36:3 LXX)

This morning I felt led to open my Septuagint text alongside my English Bibles for devotions. I read from Psalms 35-37 and my eyes rested on the famous passage about dwelling in the land and you shall feed on His faithfulness. The Hebrew text could mean faithfulness or truth but when I looked up the LXX, the word, “riches” appears, so the translation could read, “you shall be tended by its riches”. The word, “tended” comes from the word, “to be shepherded”, the same word that Jesus used when He asked Peter to tend His sheep. But here it is God who is shepherding the believer or the Psalmist. As much as Jacob had confessed that it was God who shepherded him or fed him all his life. Quite often, human employers or institutions think when they engaged me that they were my bosses or employers, very rarely realizing that in Christian service, it is to God we are all subject to, and human (Christian) bosses must lead in a way to understand what the ultimate Boss in heaven wants for His servants under their charge.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

PayDay Today

When I was employed in the past two years, today on 27th of the month was supposed to be my payday. But often I would be “lucky” if by 30th or 31st of the month my salary was paid. But this year and this month bring new things. I no longer get a fixed salary. I rely on my book sale which surprisingly (praised be to God) the books are selling better than I imagined. I sold another 7 books this morning making a total of RM1,100.00 for the first month of January. I have only travelled once outside of KK and one District in two Sundays sold all the 20 books I gave them.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

"You cannot serve God and Mammon" (Luke 16:13)

There are two gods in the world. Only one can hold a person's allegiance and there can be no compromise. You either serve God or money. Mammon is the Aramaic word for money or property. Quite often, it is how we value our money determines whom we serve. We cannot claim to serve God when we in fact love money. How does one loving money come to fore? Career or rice-bowl before all things. A person can take on many hardships or even insults, but once his rice-bowl is threatened, then we will see the true colours of the person's allegiance. For instance, there are people given a choice will not get themselves vaccinated but because being un-vaccinated could cost them their jobs or position, they will meekly comply. Why is that so? In part, it is because they serve money.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Vision & Skill (Prov 22:29 LXX)

I was sharing with a friend that now I have plenty of time to dream and write vision statements. In the LXX (Septuagint) the book of Proverbs in Greek, it is said that “a man with vision and skilled in his work will serve before kings and he will not serve slothful men” (Prov 22:29). When I watched a car club in West Malaysia visiting an Orang Asli village to set up a library I was moved to write vision statement no. 6. That all local churches to have a library to encourage members to read and that all pastors be granted a book allowance of RM100.00 per month so that they could buy and read at least one book every month.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Seeking the Lord

 I have not set myself any targets but relish in my bible readings since the New Year. Today I read about 15 chapters of the Bible more than my usual offering. I began with 1 Chr 28-29 on David's preparations for the Temple's building and in the evening I read 2 Chr 34-35 on Josiah's reforms. One word that struck me was the word, "seek" - Josiah began to seek the LORD. What does it mean to seek the Lord? Did not Josiah believe in the LORD like most Israelites?

Monday, January 17, 2022

Visitors from Church

For the first time since November 7th 2021 when I made my last appearance in church before being barred from entry, a church member and her niece came to visit me. I appreciated her coming immensely and she mentioned that other members asked about my whereabouts, and her reply was that "the pastor had chosen to take long leave" (cuti panjang). "Cuti panjang" in our church parlance is unpaid holidays while you wait for your next appointment or ministry placement. I asked her why she did not tell the members the truth of my leaving and I could see that she felt uncomfortable with that so I left it since she was my guest. She complained that now the church service starts 10 minutes late and that it would not have happened if I were still the pastor. In fact, I denied that punctuality was something I insisted on and I mentioned the name of a deacon who was also very keen to get the service started once the clock struck 9am.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Spending Money

Last May just before the lockdown of June-Sept 2021, I preached a sermon where I briefly alluded to using and spending money. I encouraged my church members to tighten their belts and not utilise the allowance to withdraw EPF (CPF) monies meant for retirement. I specially said that if you were in your 30s and 40s, you needed to tighten your belts and navigate this pandemic without resort to retirement savings. Then, I added a caveat of those in their late 50s that there were times that one had to spend money, perhaps saved for retirement in the future but I thought once a person gets to mid 50s or late 50s, he must consider how best to spend his hard-earned cash and savings while he is still healthy. I spoke that day in the light of a couple of my friends who passed away rather suddenly when they were 61 years old. One was a pastor and one was a close friend who attended my 25th anniversary service in full-time ministry.

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Days Ordained for Me are Written in Your Book (Ps 139:16)

There is no stronger verse for predestination than the verse in the Psalms that says all the days ordained for me are written in Your book before one of them came to be. If I think on this verse, it gives strong encouragement that nothing and no one can stand against God’s will and purpose becomes reality in a person’s life when it is so ordained by the Father in heaven. No wonder Jesus says the Father knows every single hair on our heads and not a bird in the sky falls to the ground without the Father’s knowledge. In the past several weeks when it seems that all is lost, I have this quiet confidence that nothing is impossible with God. He can resurrect my “career” so to speak, but not my career as I have not worked a single day for my livelihood since I chose to obey the heavenly calling as the Father makes sure no one will outwit His servants and a worker is worthy of his wages. And that he who preaches the Gospel lives by the Gospel.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

“Do not Lie”

In the book of Revelation, thrice towards the end of the book, the author warns against lying and practising falsehood (Rev 21:8, 27; 22:15). Those who lie or practise falsehood will find themselves excluded from the eternal city and cast into the lake of fire where the devil and his followers will be tormented forever and ever. Do we speak the truth? Do we honour our word? That our word is our promise and our honour. Or do people simply think they can get away with their words of falsehood, either promising to do something and not doing and actually twisting and turning like a snake, a symbol of the devil who is the father of lies? I have encountered many Christians who lie and those who practise falsehood one way or the other.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity (Ecclesiastes)

I don't know why I am drawn to this book called Ecclesiastes. It has been so for the past few years especially since I turned 55 years old. I preached a whole message based on the theme - "Enjoy the fruits of your labour" in Sipitang in Sept 2019. As a young Christian, all I know and can remember is that famous verse - "vanity, vanity all is vanity". If all is in vain, what is the purpose of living on earth? Solomon asked that existential question right in the beginning of the book: "What does a person gain in all his labour that he toils under the sun?" (Eccle 1:3). As this question comes after the author's sigh of pessimism in verse 2 and the self-introduction in verse 1, it would mean that the answer to this question is the main theme or topic in the book.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Year 2022

This will be a year of reckoning. A year the world might see victory over the Covid-19 pandemic through medication in pills and tablets. A year where safer vaccines are developed. A year when we see light at the end of the tunnel going into 2023. The year 2022 is also beautiful in form as it has all the "twos" (2). Today is the 2nd day of the New Year '22. Lunar New Year falls on the 2nd month of 2022 on 1st February. We get two bites of the cherry if you are late in making NY resolutions, you have another month before the Lunar New Year to do so.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

New Year & Inflation

The Covid-19 virus does not celebrate New Year. We will be stuck with this pandemic for a while longer. Inflation does not stop rising on New Year's Day. In fact, many businesses take the opportunity at the end of the year to raise prices. Inflation started to spike in the middle of 2021. After 18 months of the pandemic, many things are thrown out of sink. Shipment costs doubled or tripled. As most goods found in the supermarkets are imported, the rise in price is inevitable. Revelation 6 predicts that prices could go up four-fold in a blink of an eye. Chicken rice that costs RM8 last year now costs RM9.00. A cup of coffee is 50 cents higher which is a 25% increase. Some shops now charge RM3-4 ringgit for a cup of coffee, almost 50% rise in price compared to just a few months ago. Why is that happening in Malaysia?