Monday, February 28, 2022

The Next Move of God

"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

Quietly Rising

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.

Carpenter's Syndrome

We know you. We know who you are. We know your parents and your brothers. It's the Carpenter's syndrome which our Lord Jesus also suffered from, not of himself but many of his contemporaries were afflicted with this familiarity syndrome, so much so Jesus could do no miracles in Nazareth. So I also don't expect many people in Singapore and Malaysia to buy any of my books, though some who have bought them had told me how much these books have been a blessing to them. My good friend bought a box of Departure Points and paid RM 2,400 when it was first published two years ago.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Do we need a Plan B?

The world is not going to get better before it gets worse. If Nato responds to Russian invasion of Ukraine then you will have almost 50 countries in the world in armed conflict fulfilling the early signs of Jesus' coming in Rev 6 that wars will happen in a quarter of the earth. Do we need a plan B if we are caught in a war? A nuclear detonation will impact everything within a 20 mile radius, so to be safe one needs to have a hiding place at least 20 or 30 miles away from capital cities which could be targets of any attack. I got chills in my spine and my hands when I listened to an American Professor lecturing about the Ukraine's crisis which was given more than 6 years ago.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A Pastor's Plea

It's tough becoming pastors nowadays. Although I am free from frontline service, I am constantly receiving messages and texts from pastors and church members. One concerned church member texted me late at night and asked me about the state of the Church. It is clear his soul was in turmoil. Often, those who communicated with me would say that they wanted to hear what I thought of the current situation of the present pandemic and also issues in the church at large. One pastor came visiting barely two weeks after Chinese New Year when three pastors visited with their spouses. But this time this pastor came along and we conversed for about 3 hours over lunch.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Writing & Books

I am well aware of the Solomonic saying that we should beware of making too many books (Eccles). The world is full of books. If one reads English, there is an over abundant supply of books for every conceivable title and topic. But if you live within the Malay-speaking world, the habit of reading is still very much in its infancy and there are simply not enough quality books in the Malay language. More so, in the Malay-speaking and reading churches that I belong to since 1989, one can count with two hands all the theological Malay books published in the last two or three decades.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Enjoying my "Retirement"

I can't help but feel this year or maybe next year as well, I shall be sitting home and enjoying my retirement. In fact, with my love for reading, it is a phase of my life to relish as I don't worry about preaching, Bible study or pastoral care of others. I was enjoying Robert Alter's translation and commentary on the Song of Songs and his commentary confirmed many of my conclusions based on the Hebrew text. Last week I read Ruth and this week Esther by Robert Alter as well and I just realized that all three books have a common theme of love and romance though in very different contexts.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

2 Years & 20 Years & Bodily Constitution

This year is full of twos. It is the year 2022. It is the 2nd month of the 22nd year of the 21st century. I just came across a photo of myself with my former church members taken exactly 2 years ago on a Sunday just before I flew to Singapore. At that time, there was no known Covid-19 cases in Sabah but there were already many cases in Singapore. Changi Airport was empty when I landed. When I looked at the photo in church, how many could have predicted what events would follow - within the month on March 17th, we would have our first lockdown and when I write the word, "former", I still feel a tinge of regret that led to my cessation of ministry due to the vaccination requirements for Sunday services. When I watched Novak Djokovic's interview with the BBC this evening, I felt no regrets whatsoever of the decision I took - to stand on my principles of what I had done or not do in the past 40 years of following Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Shepherding the Flock (Ezek 34)

God knows the heart. This morning I read Jeremiah 17 about the wickedness and deceitfulness of the heart and each and everyone must be wary lest their hearts are deceived in anyway and there is no stumbling block or idol in the heart. Then I read Ezekiel 34, the famous chapter about the rebuke of the shepherds whom God entrusted to shepherd his flock, the house of Israel. There are three main parts in Ezek 34. First. the rebuke of those pastors are failing in their jobs of looking after the sheep. Second, the rebuke of the strong sheep that push aside the weak sheep and the third part about God himself will do the shepherding, but He will do so through a human being, a David whom He will raise to shepherd His people that they might find rich pastures and peace in prosperity. Then God will be the Lord, David a prince among his people, the house of Israel, God's flock.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Rise of a New Generation

Today I re-read a couple of my church's history books, especially on Trevor White, otherwise known as Asang (local name) who was instrumental in evangelising the tribes of Borneo in Sabah. Trevor White arrived in Sabah by sea at Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu, my city) in October 1939. He was in his late 20s. In less than three years, the Japanese came and invaded the land and Asang and his fellow missionaries were incarcerated and not a few perished. But Asang survived and after a year of recuperation back in England, he came back to Sabah in 1946 and started planting churches in Ranau and then in Taginambur in the early 1950s. Thus, I would count the beginning of the church now known as Sidang Injil Borneo (formerly Borneo Evangelical Mission) from 1939 and the first generation Christians from 1939-1958. Every twenty years see a rise of a new generation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Showing Hospitality & Welcoming Strangers

Sunday night must have been rather intense with much preparation involved and then hosting more than 20 people at home for dinner. It took a lot of my energy that I am still resting after 48 hours. I have not gone out once in the past two days. Yesterday I ate left-over food and today for lunch I fried eggs with bread. But showing hospitality is part of the requirements for an overseer and an elder of the church (1 Tim 3; Titus 1). I can see that much spiritual energy is generated when believers gather together in homely comfort and surroundings .

Monday, February 7, 2022

Pastor's Pay and Ministering in Hope (1 Corinthians 9)

One topic of conversation last night was the pastor's pay and I am still amazed that paying the pastor a minimum wage is still not widely accepted in our denomination. I will fight for that until my last breath. This is for entry-level pastor and really for people with professional or tertiary qualification and experience, there must be an accelerated salary scale. Who wants to become a pastor if his highest salary is stuck at RM2,500.00 even for the most qualified, theological and secular with 25 years of ministry experience? Perhaps a doubling of that for a start and those with sufficient professional experience (5 years of work plus a minimum Bachelor of Theology) should start at RM3,000.00 and quickly works its way up, so those in their early or mid thirties need not fear financial hardship. There is this famous politician who said, "if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys". We are simply not getting the right kind of people to enter full-time ministry and our salary structure is partly to blame without doubt.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Integrity & Honesty

One thing I remember my late grandma who raised me until 13 years old was her witty wisdom in 4 Chinese characters spoken in Cantonese. One saying goes like this "if you are honest, you will be poor forever". There is much truth in this despite various examples in the OT how God blessed the patriarchs with riches, they who lived exemplary lives of honesty and integrity in most instances. I cannot emphasize enough that the twin pillars of my ministry are honesty and integrity. Honesty before God and men for God knows our hearts and there is nothing hidden from Him.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

My brothers, the Pastors

Today I joined the pastors' fellowship of about 15 pastors in my pastor-friend's new offices and church. After some small talk, I realised that I was the oldest person in the room, one year older than the senior pastor of my home-church in KK. Before the new SOPs came to force last September, I was one of the main movers of the group, always encouraging pastors to meet for prayers and fellowship. I realised that I missed the last two or three meetings and my brother-pastors were glad to see me after more than half a year. As a matter of fact, I am on "leave" or "cuti panjang". We had a 40-min breakfast fellowship from 9.30am before starting our meeting proper with worship and sharing of God's Word from the pastor hosting us. Then, each church was given a chance to share prayer items and although I was without a church, the song leader or MC invited me to share as I guess many of the pastors were keen to hear what's been up with me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

""He who is united to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (02022022).

Today's date is simply beautiful. The second day in the second month of the twenty-second year of the twenty-first century AD. Two is the number of unity. But today I want to write about the most precious thing to the Lord, that is our fellowship and communion with Him. He who is united with the Lord is one spirit with Him. Have we felt such unity with the Lord? Have we felt such closeness to the Lord? In fact, beyond our all activities and church services, face to face or online, the most precious thing to the Lord is our unity with Him. Unity with Him means unity with the rest of His body since Christ Jesus is the head of the Church. No wonder, Paul the apostle said that those who destroy the church of God, God will destroy. If we make imposition in whatever form, imposition that Christ has not imposed on the church, then are we not destroying the Church?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Three Years Back in Kota Kinabalu in Good Health & Vaccination Crisis

Today on this Lunar New Year is a milestone for me, having completed three long years in Kota Kinabalu without moving to another place. After four hard years in Ranau where I traveled back and forth Kota Kinabalu almost every weekend on a 100kms journey of winding and mountain roads, I felt I had finally returned to my home and to my possession according to the word of the Lord - "On the year of Jubilee, everyone must return to one's own land and possession" (Lev 26). So at an age of 55 years old, I have returned to my home and have lived in the city which I had called my hometown since 1988. I boast in the Lord now for good health and I can't help but find it ironic that as healthy as I am now, I have been barred from church entry as if I were a "leper" or an "outcast". Leaders who follow rules blindly will have much to answer before the Lord for dividing the Lord's body and for excluding those who are welcomed by the Lord Jesus himself.