Friday, April 29, 2022

Minimum Pay & Labour Day

On Sunday we shall be celebrating Labour Day where as a denomination we honour our full-time workers especially our pastors in our midst. What is there to celebrate if a local church can’t even pay its pastor a minimum wage of RM1,200.00 per month when we claim and proclaim a God of blessings and He blesses those who believe in Him? I can well understand some local churches can’t afford to pay their pastors minimum pay, thus herein lies the role of those in authority to ensure funds are allocated to top up the salaries of pastors, at least to the minimum wage level. We are talking about a bare minimum. Most people in town can’t survive with double the amount with a small family. We are very much left behind in that the new minimum wage gazetted yesterday comes to effect next year for those organisations with less than 5 employees.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

My First Car as Pastor

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

Between Two Institutions

In all my life as a Christian full-time worker, I have been employed by only two institutions, my former College in Singapore and my Sabah's Church which I belong to and became member since my return from New Zealand to Sabah in 1988. In total, I served this Church more than 21 years and preached in over 120 churches in more than 30 Districts throughout the State. Since I left Singapore in 2014 after 6 years of service, I had been invited back for the TTC's 70th anniversary dinner in 2018 and afforded free accommodation for three days in my former apartment. I have been invited to attend twice online services in honour of the former Principal's retirement and then the installation of the new Principal whom I knew for a year plus when he returned from his doctoral study and we had many lunches together.

Monday, April 25, 2022

French Election & Singapore's Succession

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

Big Day Bash

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

"Those who do good to a resurrection of life" (John 5:28-29)

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

French Presidential Election & European Army

I think Emmanuel Macron will win his second term as the President of France quite easily. Probably close to 60 percent of the votes or 59 to 41 percent for Marin Le Pen. The Left will bite its tongue and a majority of its supporters will vote for Macron. With Macron's reelection and his Presidency of the European Union until the end of June, we will see Europe becomes the focus once more in French politics. The aftermath of the war will see the formation of a European army touted by Macron a few years ago.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Why did Jesus die at Passover?

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

Double Sabbatical

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

Inflation & Rising Costs

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.

Selling my Books

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

Now on a Sunday

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

Universities & Colleges

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

"He will never leave the Temple" (Rev 3:12)

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

2nd Quarter of the Year

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.