Thursday, September 28, 2023

There is a Time for Everything

It's never too late. God is never too early or too late. He is the creator of time and there is a time for everything and for every purpose on earth. I was looking at my blog's readers this afternoon and I came across two blogposts I wrote. One was on the 1st July 2014, the day after my 6-year tenure at TTC in Singapore ended and I was on my way back to Sabah on that day. In fact, it took me more than 3 months after that before I finally settled down in Sabah. But on the 1st July I was a free agent again, hence the title of the blogspot and I have lived a life of faith, trusting in the Lord. My appointment in Sabah only came on 1st Nov 2014 and my new position started 1st Jan 2015 in Ranau. A second blogpost with a photo of my church in Ranau taken perhaps in November but the blogpost was dated 2nd December 2015.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

My Next Book could be on Leadership

I was driving back from home to my place of work in s rare excursion this noon and as I was driving and stuck in traffic jam I could reflect a best part of my ministry and what and which part of it bore much fruits or many fruits. What was the key and what was I doing then? It dawned on me that all the "successes" I could be proud of was due to me holding a leadership position directly in charge of the ministry that bore the fruits thereof. Hence, the key to productivity or fruitfulness is leadership. I remember a former church member spoke to me after a year I left my church in Ranau and she told me that I brought much welcome change during my one-year stint as pastor.

Monday, September 25, 2023

One Month Ago

Exactly one month ago, I began the task of compiling my essays and sermons for publication. I am pleased to inform my readers that everything is done and now it is in the process of printing which may take a week to 10 days before being shipped across the ocean to where I am now in Kota Kinabalu. It has been a whirlwind kind of work taking advantage of the one-week mid Semester break late August to early September. My not going to Korea with my colleagues has proven fruitful, as I never planned to publish anything this year with a full-load of four courses a week teaching from Tuesday to Friday. I look forward to the end of October when lectures cease with a couple of exams and then more marking of assignments which I will do in November, at least the first two weeks before taking a short break.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Book Manuscript with the Printers

It's done. It's a relief after more than three and a half weeks of hard work, many early morning hours and late nights, my Collection of Essays and Sermons is on its way to its printers and the printing process should only take about 10 days before being shipped across the South China Sea onward to Kota Kinabalu. I was told depending on the shipping schedule it may take up to 5 weeks, making it too close to call whether my book will arrive in time for the Seminary's graduation on the 4th November. Nevertheless, it is out of my hands now and all I can do is pray that the book will see the light of day by the first few days of the month of November. It's not just the graduation but my preaching ministry starts afresh in the 2nd week of November right up to Christmas Day on the 25th December.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Another New Book

In the midst of some of the most intense preparation for lectures and 11 hours of lectures a week I managed to compile a series of essays, four of which I wrote from 2020-2022 and the main essay on theological education in Sabah on the occasion of Sabah's 60th Independence Day within Malaysia that fell on Saturday 16th Sept 2023. In my essay I wrote about what I would like to see happen the theological education landscape for the next 10 years in time for Sabah's big 70th Malaysia Day in 2033.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Justice for Djokovic

I feel sports. I was filled with emotions when I watched the World Athletics in Budapest three weeks ago. But nothing beats this morning when about 7.40am local time, I found out that Novak Djokovic won the US Open for his 24th Grand Slam. I watched the Australia Open saga early 2022 and what injustice done to Novak and Nadal actually overtook Novak for the Grand Slam tally that year. But now Djokovic is two clear of Nadal and 4 clear of Federer. Justice for Djokovic. But this does not take away the beauty of the game. Some remarkable matches though I only watched the 3 min highlights produced by US Open organisers. Djokovic said that every day every week, he tried to do something better, to play better and to stay ahead of others. If spiritually speaking, do we have such desire to develop spiritually?

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Cost of Printing Books

In the past couple of years, I had been praying that I would find a printer that is quick, cheap and reliable in terms of quality and delivery of product, namely the book which I want to print. I may have found the printing company, by God's grace. Though, the word, "cheap" only applies if one prints 1,000 copies which I will not take on, because I will print at the most 500 copies. I printed 225 copies of Galatians and all the books are sold out. I am planning to print another 200 copies, maybe early next year. But I need to finish this current project, a collection of essays and sermons.

Monday, September 4, 2023

A Nation is a Born in a Day & a Book is Produced in a Week

There is this prophetic verse that a nation will be born in a day. In fact, it is framed as a question: "Can a nation be born in a day?" Of course not! But with God nothing is impossible and the nation of Israel, in 1948 was born in a day. Can a book be produced in a week? Of course not! But with God nothing is impossible. I have worked easily 70 hours in the past week to edit my collection of essays for publication and I am ready to do so. All I need is to get two proof readers and I hope they can read my book within a week and return to me for further checking and then off it goes to the printers. Initially, I was planning for an early November date on graduation, but I might get it out before the teaching Semester ends by the third week of October. I do hope that some of my students will buy it for their holidays' reading. My friend just told me when people are about to retire, they tend to work less. I told him otherwise as I plan to work doubly hard in my last decade of working life into my 70 years of age.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

One Week is Over, book is nearly Done

The past week has been one of the busiest times of my life. Yes, I am editing a book for publication - 6 essays and 6 sermons with only three sermons and one essay in English. It is a Malay book but I thought I include a sample of English sermons to encourage my readers to pick up proficiency in the language. For a whole week I read through all the essays and made corrections.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Editing my Essays

I was not looking to publish another book since my last book was published just 8 months ago. Knowing how difficult and strenuous the whole process of editing, formatting and publishing is, I thought I needed at least 2 years of rest before working on my new book in mid-2024 and publish it in 2025. But alas, I had this window of opportunity of one week's break from work and also the urgency of some issues arising like the doctrine of Trinity, the future of theological education and even some practical issue like marriage and divorce which I had prepared a 40-point paper for a meeting of our doctrinal committee which was cancelled the last minute more than a year ago. I have a collection of 5 long essays and papers in Malay and at least another 5 or 6 essays in English which I shall publish in another book at another time including the papers I had presented in a number of Conferences.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Spiritual Authority

I attended the graduation of my former College in 2019 where I served three years full time and twice during the pandemic I went up to the College to teach intensive courses. But I have never received any formal invitation to any of the College's events, be it graduation dinner or the graduation except only once when I was the speaker at the 2014 graduation service. In fact it was the invitation of my present College to their graduation last year that could have triggered the events that led me to joining them last June. Again I am comtemplating of attending an event this Saturday at my former College.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Collection of Essays in Malay

The whole evening yesterday I compiled my essays into book form for publication. It’s just started and my aim is to get them published by graduation day first Saturday in November. But there is still a lot of work. I have three long essays (5,000 words) and two short essays of 3,000 words. Then I have five sermons of various lengths between 1,200 to 2,800 words. The longest was my sermon preached in a pastors’ conference in 2017. I spoke for exactly one hour and it was well received. But I rarely write sermons in full, only five sermons out of possibly 1,000 sermons preached in a three decades’ long ministry.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Korean Trip Aborted

I don’t know why I felt so strongly last weekend that I should not go to Korea. I was ready to fall on my sword and take full responsibility for withdrawing. But I am relieved that only this evening I had a sense of peace of what I was to do this one week of Semester break. I had worked non stop for three months since starting afresh in this new place of ministry. Eight weeks of lectures three hours each day from Tuesday to Friday. There were times by the time I finish my Wednesday’s lectures I would be so fatigued. Now there is a short break. And I have to mark two sets of assignments.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Time for a Break

Tonight's lectures will be the last and we will have one week's break before the teaching Semester commences again and it will go on for 7 weeks of teaching before exams and graduation scheduled on the first Saturday of November. As I have been teaching non-stop for 8 weeks, yesterday after the 3-hour class on Galatians I actually felt dizzy and thought I was going faint or black out. Added to the pressure was the Korean trip that took much discussion and debates but at the end I decided not to go.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Preaching in Sabah's Churches again

After a lull of three months, I started preaching in the churches of Sabah. In fact I had already preached thrice, twice at the place of my ministry and two weeks ago in KL. But today marked the first time since late April when I preached in Kinabalu district at the foot of the mountain and at a new home where the owner asked me to pray and bless the place in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Preached I did today and it lasted 38 minutes. I felt the anointing surging more than once despite being invited only on Thursday and being so busy at the Seminary until late Friday. The church gave me the verse from Romans 6:22 and I started with Romans 1:16-18 and the list of sins and vices of Rom 1:19-24.

Friday, August 18, 2023

A Man's Lifespan is Short

Some thirty years ago, I gave up my law practice to pursue theological education in preparation for theological study. Today I received news that a special event will be held as a remembrance and memorial for lawyers who have passed away in the last 10 years. Many of the names in the list I know and I shall make an effort to attend as a mark of respect to my former colleagues. Just imagine these people were once healthy, active and making an impact in society and now they are gone forever. That's why I am in some sort of a hurry. Not to rush but understanding one's life span is short and I am just passing by this world in a few moments given by the Lord and I am accountable to how I make use of my time here on earth while still healthy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Mid Week Travails

It is tough going through a week. It is relentless. From Tuesday to Friday delivering a series of 3 hours lectures on NT studies. As much as I enjoy teaching, fatigue sets in by mid-week. I have three hours on Ephesians tomorrow night. And I shall be preparing for them tonight and tomorrow morning. And there is no Semester break as we are going off to Korea where I shall be preaching after two days in Busan and then to Daegu.

Monday, August 14, 2023

A Collection of Essays

I must tossing up between submitting my essay for publication or publish on my own as a collection of essays. I realised that i had written four lengthy essays in Malay and two of my articles could easily be translated from English to Malay and I hope to write one more before year’s end and then I would have a total of 7 essays between 3,000 to 5,000 words.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Preaching in English and Lecturing in Malay

The past fortnight was really intense. After returning from KL during which I conducted a 5 hour seminar over two days and preached on Sunday (in English) I only had Monday for a short break and then on Tuesday I was again busy preparing lectures on Romans and Wednesday, Galatians, Thursday, Matthew 23-28 and from 10.30-12.30pm I lectured on the texts and manuscripts of the Bible, all in Malay. Then after almost two weeks of non-stop work I slept in the afternoon and it was sweet as the sleep of a labourer has no worries attached to it unlike the rich who would worry much about their money and many possessions.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Flying for Ministry

Just less than a year ago, if you tell me that I have flown three times in 2023, I would not have believed you. In fact, I am going fly for the fourth time in 2023 at the end of the month to South Korea where we will be visiting 5 Universities and Seminaries in 7 days. And I also get to preach a short sermon at the second stop on the second full-day near Busan. My last weekend travel to KLIA2 was an eye opener in many ways, not having used the low-cost terminal for quite some time. I flew with MAS to NZ via the main terminal. The low cost terminal was packed with people when I returned to KK on Sunday afternoon. It was good that I had more than 2 hours spare before the boarding. Check-in and drop luggage took a while because of the long queues at the check-in counters. But ministry over two days was smooth in the sense that I did not get tired despite getting up at 3.30am on Saturday and starting only at 3pm after a flight that took 2.5 hours and an hour long taxi ride.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

In the Midst of the Week

After preaching for 2o minutes at Chapel yesterday and singing a song before that, I was again fatigued by it all, with the afternoon not overly productive as I prepared for three hours of lectures last night. But last night I taught on 1 and 2 Corinthians with the 1 Cor 11-14 being the focus for the first 80 minutes and the second 70 minutes were given to discuss Paul's teaching on giving based on 2 Cor 8-9. One student asked right at the end about what about "tithing" which all the apostles are silent about and it would take age least an hour to discuss tithing properly. So I was saved by the bell and after such an intense day of preaching and teaching, I slept just about midnight and got up after 6am which was unusually late.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Preaching Overseas

I found myself preparing two overseas’ sermons, one in KL next Sunday and at the end of August in South Korea. Yesterday I was so tired after four days of non-stop lecturing, all full three hours each that I slept in the afternoon for a whole hour. This morning I found myself preparing a short sermon for my Korean trip.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

As Years Pass On

When time is no more, John writes in Revelation 10:6-7. That would be at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ for those who experience the first resurrection, time will be no more as in the new bodies we are no longer bound by time. But as long as we live in this earthly tent, we are bound by time, the ever passing time that waits for no one and I can’t imagine that seven months of the year are almost gone, and we are rushing into end of the year and a New Year beckons and we age one more year. Nothing happened yesterday, no flash from heaven and I was already tired before I started my 3-hour long lectures on Galatians and I must say I was surprised I felt energized at the end of it and one student at the end commented how the lectures had been so helpful.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Today is the Day

In a couple of hours’ time I shall be lecturing on one of my favourite NT books, Galatians. Exactly 27 years ago I was driving to Tenom and then walking for one and a half hours from Bakuku to Alutok, right down South of the State of Sabah. I celebrated my 32nd birthday that night by preaching a midnight sermon, starting 11pm and ending just before I turned another day old. But after 27 years I am still strong and serving the Lord. Can I go for another 27 years?

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Turn of the Year

God is good. He did not allow another turn of the year without taking care of His servants. Tomorrow I shall be receiving my first official pay check from my new employers after more than 20 years on the payroll of SIB. Only God knows what I have gone through these 18 months. Plenty of ups and downs; rumours of appointment and then silence for months. I just read from Matthew’s Gospel that a worker is worthy of his food. Now I work 6 days a week from early morning to late at night. Do I bring work back at home?

Monday, July 17, 2023

Galatians Commentary 2nd Printing

I have sold out my first printing of 200 copies of the Galatians commentary in Malay. Even the first 40 copies that contained typos were sold out at a discount. I am printing another 20 copies for my students here. I might have to do another 100 copies soon.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Middle of July

It’s the middle of July. It is going to be the month of Leo. It is a month that I will turn another year older. It will be the last year for me to be in the 50s. Another year will see my golden years commence with rapid speed. I thank God that I am in good health. I could travel freely and without needing any form of assistance. But in 10 years’ time, as we enter into the perfect number of 70 years we have indeed reached old age, though some friends I know keep a busy life of ministry and service into their late 70s.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Preaching as Holy Encounter

Within minutes of returning to my office after Chapel, I received a message thanking me for the sermon plus the feedback that the audio was uneven and at times, inaudible what a shame. But preaching was what I did yesterday at the Seminary's Chapel assembly. I preached for exactly 30 minutes in English and translated into Malay which means my sermon was only 15 minutes' long. I spoke in English because I wanted a few of my international colleagues and visitors to understand the sermon direct and also as a way to encourage non-English speakers to pick up the language as it is the global language of our times. Preaching is really a holy encounter, an encounter with God through His spoken Word. Only the speaker needs to be anointed as God's Word will touch many lives.

Monday, July 10, 2023

40th Day

I read Romans 5-7 this morning. It's rare that I read Romans for morning devotions, though I make it a point to read Romans from beginning to finish at least once a year. Sanctification is hard work in that one has to die to sin and yield the members of the body unto righteousness. It's by God's grace and His enabling Spirit that we could put to death the deeds of the body by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:13). Today marks the 40th day of my ministry in this new place. I am truly settled in that I do not feel the need of me returning to my old home. I have brought with me all that I need and whatever else I needed I had purchased in the past couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

First Month at College

I have just completed my first month in my new place of ministry and I got most of my first lectures prepared for next week's start of the 2nd Semester. Coming in half way has its advantages and disadvantages. I had to pick up from  where others left off but thankfully I could contribute in the teaching of a number of New Testament subjects. Three days ago I gave a response to a thesis proposal on the book of Revelation and that was the new beginning of my new academic "career' second time round in my late 50s.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Doctoral Seminar

I was invited to be the respondent to a doctoral candidate's presentation and thesis proposal which I duly carried out yesterday via Zoom. It was a quick affair lasting just 35 minutes with the student taking about 18 minutes to present and I took exactly 10 minutes to respond.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Week that Was

It's been a crazy week. Finally I was told the number of students in each of my classes. I miss the large community at MTS/BTS when I served as Acting Principal when we had 81 full-time students. At TTC, Singapore there were years that we exceeded 200 full-time students in both English and Chinese Departments. I also changed last minute the Gospel I would be teaching from St John's to St. Matthew's Gospel. I felt I made the right decision but it meant I spent about the whole week re-reading Matthean texts and commentaries. I prepared a series of notes for the introduction to Paul's 13 letters as part of Introduction to New Testament 2 class. It's been a crazy week. I was assigned to preach at Chapel in the 2nd week of July, so this weekend will be given to sermon preparation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Longest Day

Today is the longest day. It gives me just little bit more time to unpack a few things. Last night my wife helped me to put up several curtains in my new place. The lights outside are just too bright (reminds me of Singapore) and I had to do double curtains in order not to be stay up all night with lights shining through the old curtains. It’s amazing how much time this time around that I took to move in and feel settled and regards it as my home.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Elijah's Three-and-a-Half Years (A Time of Testing)

The pandemic lasted for more than 3 years with USA among the last countries in the world to lift travel restrictions last month, exactly three and a half years since the confirmed arrival of Covid-19 in December 2019. I spoke at least twice about the Elijah's period as a sign that this Covid-19 will not go away quickly but will last at least three years. Just over a year ago in March 2022, no one in Malaysia would predict that by May 2022, the government would announce lifting of restrictions like in a majority of nations at that time. Australia and New Zealand lifted all restrictions by the fourth quarter of 2022 and travel in and out of those country was practically back to normal by the beginning of 2023. Why three and a half years? It is half of 7 years. It is a time of testing and trial and the people of God are tested. Tested whether they believed in God and trust Him for His protection.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Restless Sunday

Today is Father's Day. I am going to church with my wife but I had gotten up by 4.45am and there was a long 5 hours before the 10am service. I feel restless because I would have loved to attend church much earlier, but I am encouraged by the verse by Paul that those who have wives need to please their wives. At least I am obedient to God's Word, though Paul added that it was better not to be married so that the unmarried is not tied to anyone, and they can serve the Lord unreservedly and devotedly.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Transition is Tough

I am now well into my 3rd week into my new ministry at a Seminary in KK. Since my house is only about 13kms away I thought I could move everything and settle in within 2 days. But alas there are many unforseen situations that crop up and I need to deal with them with patience one by one. So this morning at 4am I drove from home to my Seminary because I needed to take a few things. I take pride on the fact that I can move from one place to another in 2 weeks, for instance moving from Sabah to New Zealand in 1998 to start my postgraduate study in theology. It is no accident that I call my memoirs “Departure Points”. But I did not expect that to move from one place to another within the city precinct may also take 2 weeks.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

In the Middle of the Month

Reaching the middle of the month is a good time for some reflection. When I reported to work on the 1st June 2023, most people at the College were taken by surprise as it was right in the midst of holidays just coming after the Harvest Festival that ended 31st May. I wanted to stay overnight in my assigned apartment which has been my practice wherever I had been because that was a sign that I was committed to the new place. Unless one spends the night in the new place, it was difficult to feel one has moved in. I was given an office within 30 minutes and while they were tidying up the office, I went to the library at 8.05am just 5 mins after it was opened. I took out my first three books from the shelves. The Principal came about an hour after I had arrived and I appreciated that as he was on leave.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

"For you have prevailed against God and men"

Jacob was given a new name to represent his new identity and self-awareness of who he was in the sight of God. It was after his wilderness experience of 20 years struggling against the elements, his relatives and his in-laws, not to say his own wives could be a handful and tiresome to deal with. This was after his struggle against his twin, first for his birth-right, then running for his life from his brother Esau and at last still fearful of Esau that he would take revenge against him after 20 years.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

First Sunday Back

After 5 days back in Sabah, my body is slowly adjusting to the time zone. Twice I got up at before 3am and could not get back to sleep as my body thought it was already 7am in NZ. I came back filled with joy and I told my friends that I experienced 7 miracles while in Auckland and I only shared with him 3 miracles. All praise and glory be to our God. Having settled down to work for two days and driving back at peak hours at 4.45pm I realised that my insistence for College’s accommodation is fully justified.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Life's New Page

Early this morning at 4am, I turned on my phone and checked my email and lo and behold a message from a far country sending well-wishes for a new career and life's new page. I like the latter phrase a great deal for it is indeed a new page in a book written by the Author of Life, God himself. If He pleases to still use His servant, He will turn a new page for me which He had done and today it is the start of a new chapter in my life and ministry. Every new chapter has its first page and in the coming days and weeks, these life experiences will be the first pages in this new chapter of my Christian service unto the Lord. Not many people understand it which is understandable for spiritual things are spiritually discerned and really there aren't many spiritual people around be they Professors of theology, Pastors of big and small churches and so-called Christian leaders of all sorts.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Travel's Experiences

I may write another blogpost about travelling in your old age in a few years' time. I met a truly remarkable gentleman who still remembered World War II vividly. He was born in 1938 and he is still travelling between Central Europe and New Zealand which is home to him now. If one is open to strangers and to strike up a conversation, one can learn much about different cultures, history and including a first hand account of WW II. My new friend told me that his father died during the War when he was 6 years old and life was extremely hard whereby until he was a teenager all he thought about was getting the next meal to fill his stomach. He asked me how I learned to speak English well and I told him I attended University in New Zealand. He told me he had only 4 years of formal education but he speaks good English as well and seems to be learned in many things, a life well-lived with many struggles and difficulties.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Connecting with Friends

My bonanza this time was to reconnect with all my friends who lived in Auckland. On previous occasions I would be able to meet one or two but others would be absent either being elsewhere or uncontactable. I started last Saturday attending Carey’s graduation and saw my former Principal (1993-1994). On Sunday I visited my friend’s church and we had lunch and wonderful fellowship. Then on Tuesday I met a former missionary who is 81 years old (my guess was that he was in his mid70s). I consider him a comrade in Christ and he had set an example for sacrificial service in Sabah for a decade or two when he flew from NZ to teach an intensive course for our College in Namaus in Sabah.,

Friday, May 26, 2023

God's Miracles

In John 11, Jesus said to Mary that, "if you believe, you will see the glory of God." This verse tells us that our relationship with God requires faith. And there are many verses besides. In the past week, I had experienced one miracle after another. Yesterday at the Bus Stop, a Kiwi stopped by and sat next to me and started witnessing to me about Jesus. It was powerful personal testimony and within a couple of minutes without waiting for my response, he asked whether he could pray for me. Before this, we had a bit of small talk and I told him that in the past week, I had difficulty in getting an errand done and I am running of time since I am leaving the country soon.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Unexpected Source

God's ways are as mysterious as they come. God's sending of His servants in the biblical narrative shows that God does wonderful things which not many men and women would perceive or understand. The sending of His prophets. Now we praise the prophets and preach from the prophets. If we lived during the times of these prophets I wonder how many would have listened to the prophets? Then God sent John the Baptist. Then God sent Jesus Christ his only Son. How many accepted and welcomed them in their generation? Even now God sends His servants.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Church & Graduation Services

Spending two Sundays in New Zealand may or may not be enough for me to get a feel of the Christian community in the city of Auckland. Attending a Graduation service last Saturday where about 300 people participated gave me a glimpse of Christianity in this land. If love is the greatest commandment, then my pastor-friend had done well because four or five people from his church came up to me and spoke with me. Whereas the day before during the graduation refreshment when I spent a whole hour until 90 percent of the people left, no one took the initiative to approach me. So I made the first move three times to converse with people there. Sometimes, theologians must be practitioners, just as the speaker at the graduation said that he had a few street degrees which meant he applied his theology on the ground and not just as an academic.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Five Days Away

Five days into my trip to New Zealand, I realised many things have changed over 10 years. It was about a decade ago I returned to NZ to see my son in Dunedin. Now he is into his 8th year of work and doing well by God's grace. At least three times I am convinced God answered our prayers. First, in his landing his first and current job 7 plus years ago and at least a couple of promotions, the last just happened late last year. I can see he is settled in his work, and respected by his colleagues. God does answer prayers. I am a believer and that's why we pray all the time. I pray that I could spend much time with my son in my fortnight here in NZ. Lo and behold when he met me at the airport last Tuesday, he told me that from the next day he would be working from home since his office near the city centre is being renovated and later, I was told that the renovation could take 3 weeks. I bow in worship unto the Lord. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

To the Ends of the Earth (Isaiah 41-49)

One day I hope to offer a course on the prophet Isaiah and Ezekiel of course. Much of my calling comes from Isaiah 6 as my initial vision of God's calling was mediated through a heavenly being like one seen by Isaiah and was later confirmed in the first few months from Isaiah 41-49. There is Isaiah 41 God calls His servant from the ends of the earth, from the rising of the Sun, namely the East. 41 years ago and three weeks I was born again in the city of Christchurch and spent 6 of my most formative years in South Island and 6 months in the North Island where I chambered and almost enrolled at St Johns Theological College in Feb 1988.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

A Stranger in all the Earth

I almost named my semi-biographical memoirs as "A Stranger in all the Earth". Perhaps in volume 2. This title is particularly apt especially in these post-Covid times. I am an itinerant and I am a wanderer. It is not what I chose but that's how it is. I am a man with no fixed abode, no permanent earthly dwelling and worse no spiritual dwelling. Love of many will grow cold. Many will betray one another. They will kick out of synagogues (churches) thinking they are doing God's service. It is an age of delusion and the age of deception.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Books for Reading

Fewer and fewer people read books. Since the advent of You-tube, the percentage of people who do serious reading has declined considerably. For sure, the internet is a huge source of information, education and knowledge. But listening and watching a video cannot replace or displace the book-format. If something is written, it is meant to be read. "In the beginning was the Word" as if to tell one and all that this God for the "Word was God" (John 1:1) requires much reading if He is to be known. Listening to a Bible reading is a blessing; watching a lecture on the Bible or theology is refreshing, but nothing beats reading a book. A book is filled with words explaining the Word made flesh. The early disciples said to Jesus, "You have the words of eternal life." (John 6).

Sunday, May 7, 2023

King Charles III arrived early

One comment on King Charles' early arrival to his coronation was that he has waited for this moment for decades and no wonder he arrived early on the first day of his job. When I read this I remember I arrived at Ranau township New Year's Eve at 7.45am having driven from Kota Kinabalu at 6am sharp. It was still dark when I left KK. And I was 50 years old already into my 21st year in full time ministry.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Currency & Travel

I despaired over the fall of the Ringgit. In the West, when inflation above 5 percent there is a big outcry, but here where I am prices had risen at least 20 percent and pork more than 100 percent over less than a year. If you are earning RM2,000 you will struggle to make ends meet nowadays wherever you are in even in rural towns and villages because kids need to go to School and busfare is sometimes more expensive in villages since the roads are not so good. Last night I did not weep.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Lunar Eclipse as Transition

My transition is almost complete. It will be complete by early hours of tomorrow when the Lunar Eclipse for May 5th-6th. Did not the Scripture say that I have put the sun and moon as "signs" in heavens? And Psalm 89:37 states "that the moon is established forever, a faithful witness in the sky". A witness to what? As a sign for the comings and goings, the times and the seasons. Even so in a human lives, there are times and seasons of life. One moves from one job to another. From being single to being married. From being married to divorced or widowed. From without a child to becoming a parent. These are new seasons of life and the moon marks them as a faithful witness in the sky. In normal times, I would be attending the full-time workers or pastors' Conference of my denomination which ran from yesterday to tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Pregnant with an Idea

The Bible is full of imagery of woman's anatomy including conception and pregnancy. Towards the end of the Bible, we have Revelation 12 that depicts a woman fully pregnant ready to give birth to a male child. As men, we can only understand it indirectly since men can't get pregnant literally (except in one or two odd cases in history). But men and women can be pregnant with ideas that are birthed much later. It's like writing a book. Even before one word is written, the idea of a book could have been in mind and heart of the person. When I wrote my Galatians' commentary, it was like being pregnant for a full-term of nine months because that was how long it took me to write a book of 170 pages.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

No New Book but with renewed Hope

 I thought I could start a new book before I start my new "job". But I doubt it now as I am going off for a holiday for a fortnight soon and then back from the vacation straight to work on 1st June. I reckon it was the itinerant ministry that took a lot out of me. The 55kms' one way journey which should take at most an hour turned into 1 hour 50 minutes on the return trip from Kota Belud as there were several traffic jams heading to the Capital city. But 6.30pm it was already dark and it was a tiring journey back home.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Into a Spacious Place (Labour Day)

Today I felt a new lease of life. It's Labour Day and I labour in the Lord's field and in His plentiful harvest. Yesterday in church I also felt a sense of joy. At the end of the service I was welcomed by the MC and what he added confirmed in my heart the Lord's leading for me. He said I was a leader and one he looked up to many years ago. I realized my time is up. I have been around for too long or long enough.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Bible Conferences

It's been 7 years since I attended my last Bible Conference in Seoul, South Korea. I do hope to attend one soon if not in 2024, then in 2025. There are a few Conferences that I would love to go next year at Amsterdam organized by Society of Biblica Literature of which I am a member for close to 20 years. Society of New Testament Study plans to hold its 2024 congress in Melbourne which is tempting due to the shorter flight time from Sabah, Malaysia. I attended the SNTS's Congress in Perth 10 years ago at which point in time I was already planning to return to Sabah after serving a time in Singapore.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Transitioning & Speaking up for the Weak

I am in the process of transitioning from itinerant for the past 12 months to a more stay-on-campus ministry of teaching at a Seminary. When one comes to a certain age, travelling is not so much fun. But I have one more trip to close up my itinerant ministry when I drive to a village at Kota Belud this Saturday. When I come back on Sunday I do not know which church I shall be worshipping in. That's the hardest part of transitioning from one community to another. I never thought this would happen, but I am reminded that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He has our best interests at heart (God's heart) and if we are in the centre of His will, we can't go wrong.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Mother's Day & Fathers of Old

I got a surprise when I read an email from Apple about buying gifts for Mother's Day. Has it been a year? I re-started my itinerant preaching ministry on Mother's Day last year in Ranau and surely now a year has gone past like it was yesterday. No wonder this morning I prayed to the Lord to make my life count and truly one single person is enough to make a difference in this world. If only we pay attention to the Bible, which is basically God's works through individuals whom He chose and still chooses today to make a difference in his created world. From Noah and Abraham and his descendants, to the first apostles of Jesus Christ, to Paul, the apostle, born out of time, and all his associates who made a difference in the landscape of Middle East and Europe in the first century. "Lord, fulfil Your purpose in my life, O God".

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


I attended an Anzac Day service in Dunedin many years back and during lunch I was told off by a Kiwi girl that I was pro-war. I  was taken aback by her rebuke and I have thought long and hard about our Christian response to war, to honouring the war dead and war veterans who are still alive. Until I resolve this issue in my mind I will not attend any ANZAC Day service. The kind and pacifist Kiwi girl might just be right and Christians should not in anyway be seen as supporting wars, even indirectly. That is surely a theological issue that is worth pondering. But my love for New Zealand and Australia is founded not on wars or Anzac Day. Australia was my first “Western” destination when I attended high school in Melbourne as an AFS exchange student.

Monday, April 24, 2023

First Love

Forty-one (41) years ago the Lord Jesus appeared to me in my room at Ilam Flats Canterbury University Christchurch.  For the past 40 years and 28 years of full time ministry I hardly ever spoke about my encounter with Christ except in broad terms. But since last year, I felt I should share what the Lord has done in my life in the hope that my story could persuade a few others to believe in Jesus Christ. Before I knew what was happening that fateful night, I was kneeling in my room, weeping. First I had a sense of guilt for my sins and I wept tears of repentance. All the while as I was kneeling and weeping I sensed a divine holy presence in my room all around me.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Nine Years On

In a couple of months' time, it will be 9 years since I have left Singapore and returned to Sabah to serve with my Church on the mission field. Within the 9 years, I have been in active service only for 6 years which shows how crazy the times have been, especially during the pandemic. Thrice, I had to wait for my next appointment with significant time lapse between ministry appointments. But did I relax or do nothing? Surely not! For during these times of "inactivity" I was most active in writing and publishing four books. Anyone would tell you that if one could write one book in three years, it would have been an achievement; but by God's grace I have been blessed fourfold. I realised that in the past year, my gifting has always been preaching like the 3 years when I served as Treasurer-General almost three decades ago, whereby I travelled into 66 villages throughout Sabah and preached 300 sermons.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Looking to what lies Ahead (Phil 3:13)

Paul, the apostle has this great advice to forget what lies behind and press on and look forward to what lies in the future. The past is past and there is nothing we can do about it. No regrets, no remorse or however much reflection will change what has happened in the past. Man's heart is desperately wicked and no matter what one does, one can only look after one's heart and pray for the betterment of others. Quite often it is beyond our powers to change things, let alone the hearts of men.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Behold the New has Come

For the first time in three years I visited the library of the Seminary which will be my base of ministry for the foreseeable future. I chanced upon the chief librarian and she greeted me and told me that I was coming back. She is one of the most senior staff at the Seminary and I knew her since the mid-1990s. I was happy to see a few old faces in the library and I talked with another librarian and she said that she wanted to take one of my courses for her Master of Ministry course but her work schedule was just too tight. I still do not have the time-table or the actual dates of the forthcoming Semester. Just as I left I met the Principal briefly on his way to the Chapel and he forthwith invited me to the Seminary's 35th Thanksgiving Service early next month.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

There is a Time for Everything (Calvin's Geneva Academy)

After an itinerant ministry for the past 12 months, it is time to settle down and rest for a while, though just a week off without ministry seems unusual. I have about three and a half weeks before a short holidays and God willing, I shall start in a new place of ministry by 1st June. In the past few days since being informed of the papers that I shall be offering, I have been thinking about the courses in NT that I shall be offering. It's a good start to teach something that I am familiar with, though with four courses on my slot, it will be a busy Semester and Sundays are truly rest day. It is very unlikely I will take on much preaching if at all for at least 6 months until the end of November before the Christmas season begins.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

The Second Half of my Ministry has just Begun

I am filled with joy and hope by the Holy Spirit. Two days ago, I renewed my passport and I was praying to the Lord in my car, asking the Lord what He would want to do in the 5 years of my passport's validity. Just as I prayed I heard a voice spoke and said, "I will open doors of ministry for you outside of Sabah". Late in the afternoon after I came back from the passport office, I checked my email and received an invitation to speak in a church in West Malaysia. In my spirit, I was asking whether the Lord's word to me at noon is now being fulfilled.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Passover Ministry

Last Good Friday-Resurrection services could be my last in a church setting for a while. The Lord spoke to me and said in April 2022, a year ago that I would preach every month when the SOPs were lifted on 1st May 2022. I have preached in 12 churches in Sabah and Sarawak and I heard there could be an invitation to preach in Sarawak again this Christmas. At the end of the month I will go up to Kota Belud one last time before taking one whole month off before moving into my new Campus accommodation in June. Behold the old has passed away and I will do new things, saith the Lord.

Monday, April 10, 2023

At the side of the Mountain

I slept two days at the side of Mount Kinabalu when at the top of the mountain there was frost and ice sheet and temperatures fell to -4 degree Celsius. But where I was, the temperature was probably only 14 or 15 degree Celsius yet by 2am I felt the chill and right through the morning. It was as intense a ministry as it could be. My former student who is now the pastor of the church who invited me and one elder noted that our relationship is like Paul and Timothy. I know I have to let the younger ones do the heavy lifting; the travelling does not do much good to me nowadays, especially like this Good Friday weekend, I had to drive to and fro from the church which was down in a steep valley 5kms from the main road. From my homestay it was only less than 10kms but driving in pitch darkness on roads not familiar was not for the faint hearted and I did that over two nights of ministry.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Promoting my Books

I have been given a new impetus to promote my books. First, Impact Magazine in Singapore wrote a brief but excellent review of my book, Departure Points which I will incorporate into my promotion materials in the near future. Second, my Galatians' commentary are still receiving orders from buyers and I myself am reading it for the third time since I published it last December. I thought about it and it was on offer for RM40.00 and it is filled with knowledge of Paul's theology, history, and exegesis of every verse in the book of Galatians.

Monday, April 3, 2023

God is Faithful

My life and ministry began again last year on the 1st May 2022 when all Covid-19 restrictions were lifted by the government of Malaysia. A week after the announcement in mid April I was invited by my former church in Ranau to preach on Mother's Day which was the 2nd Sunday in May. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of ministry of preaching and teaching. Only one church closed its doors and since then, they suffered more than 50% membership or attendance drop. But 10 churches opened its doors and invited me to preach. This Good Friday will be the 11th church in Sabah and plus the church in Lawas, Sarawak I had preached in 12 churches, an average of a new church each month. God is faithful. The Lord spoke to me mid-April 2022 thus: "Son, you will preach every month." And God is faithful to His Word.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Reception of the Prophet Samuel

The elders of Bethlehem came and received the prophet Samuel with fear and trembling (1 Sam 16:4). I do not have such spiritual authority or charisma like Samuel but today almost all the elders of the church welcomed me as I entered the church unannounced and I quickly sat in the middle row but brought to the front. Just before the closing prayers I was asked if I wanted to offer a word or two and I went up to the pulpit and affirmed what I heard from the preaching today.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Teaching or Pastoring

I read from the Early Church in the first 400 years that their best theologians and scholars were bishops of churches. Even the great St. Augustine pastored a relatively small church in North Africa but through his preaching and writings influenced millions down the ages. John Calvin was also a pastor of the Genevan church but no one could claim greater scholarly achievements like Calvin could for a few hundred years after him. Luther might have been a full-time Professor but he was also pastor of his Wittenberg congregation. But nowadays, there is too much division and specialisation in church or in Seminary. It is hard to do both and excel in them both. You are either a lecturer or professor or a church pastor. Sometimes I wish I could do both.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Preaching & Bible Study on the 7 Churches of Revelation

Nowadays I don't even look at my watch as I preach. If I am asked to preach for 30 mins like in some Singaporean churches, so be it. But some traditional churches insist on 20 mins and when I did that in a Cathedral in Singapore, a couple of members asked why my sermon was so short. But yesterday I felt the strength of the Lord and I saw members were hungry for the word.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

70 Days & Counting

It's surreal. Yesterday another friend asked me about my future ministry. Two days ago, my former Deputy chairman of the church in Ranau also texted me and he expressed surprise that I had gone over to the "other side". It's hard to explain the mixed feelings I have had experienced in the past month. Yes, it's been exactly a month since I signed the acceptance letter of appointment as a Seminary's lecturer. My tenure will begin on 1st June, 70 days from today. On one hand, I felt relieved that it was all over in terms of my future ministry and that it is done and dusted. Speculation and texts reached a crescendo a couple of weeks before I put my name on the dotted line.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Itinerant Preacher & God's Provision

I have lived the life of an itinerant preacher for the past 11 months since May 2022 where all the Covid19 restrictions were lifted in Malaysia. But they are those who would still use rules and regulations to bind people instead of setting them free to serve God. I am glad that since I was in my mid-20s, I never really had to answer to any man or human authority. Before I turned 25 years old, I was my own boss of my legal firm. When I started serving full-time, out of my free will and in freedom I served my denomination though free from all men, yet a slave to all in order per chance I could save some for Jesus' sake. Even in Singapore, I taught how I liked and never compromised my principles. If I could teach a few OT papers and second year Greek, I might have stayed on in Singapore since there were two ready sponsors each with SGD3,000.00 per month to the sum of SGD6,000 in 2014.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Money Saved, Money Spent

Why do we save money? Why do we invest in an interest-bearing account? Do we save forever? No! We save in order that we may spend when the time comes or when we are in need. Woe betide those who have no savings or emergency funds for when they meet with some contingency, they have no money. Having no money as an adult is not a very good feeling. I remember NZ's former PM, John Key said that it was scary to be without money and he made heaps before retuning to NZ and entering politics. When I bought my little Korean car, I saved some money in order that I did not need to feel I am indebted to the bank, though I took out a 3-year car loan.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Walking by Faith

It's great if we have a Chrystal Ball in front of us foretelling our future so that at least we can plan ahead with a measure of certainty. But our future is in God and only God knows our future and all our futures are in Him. It's still two and a half months before I move into my College apartment and work starts on 1st June getting the lectures ready before the Second Semester begins. So what do I do in the interim? Barely 75 days to the start of June, I can do nothing or I can do much.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Fed by Ravens

Elijah was fed by ravens during the drought he proclaimed against King Ahab who persecuted the prophets of Israel. Indeed God has fed me in these 15 months without pay. Few would believe my finances remain like in the times of employmemt, though some will be surpriseed how little pastors are paid in this corner of the world. One elder lamented that he knew of a pastor with a wife and child but paid RM800.00 per month just slightly above half the minimum pay set by the government.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Intense Conversation

I was still tired from the exertions on Sunday where I conducted a Bible Study in the afternoon after preaching in the morning. And the Saturday before I had shared a devotion before praying for a baby who was two and a half months old. So last night I was invited to a dinner and knowing my politician friend I know that we would engage in some intense conversation. I have known this friend for more than 30 years and way before we bought a house my family stayed with in his family home in KK for four or five days. For the first 13 years of ministry I had relied on the goodwill of church members snd stayed in several homes during my leave or Semester holidays.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Right in the Heart of the City

The Seminary where I shall be based in June is right in the heart of the city, up a hill called Signal Hill just 1.5km from city centre. When I came down from Ranau early 2019 my prayers were that my ministry would be based in Kota Kinabalu. For me to influence the whole State you have to make an impact on the city. Why is the city so important? Why is a church in a city so important? The church is called to light in the city as a light set upon a hill that can't be missed. Although the Seminary is hidden among green forests and many trees, one can't miss the place as it is directly opposite the Palace where the Governor lives (TYT).

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Last Throw of the Dice?

When one is nearing 60 years old, one thinks he is nearing the end of his career. Yet I have the quiet assurance that I have three more phases of ministry before my time is up. I have gone through 4 phases already, so it is more than half way into my ministry which I received from the Lord. The first phase is 4 years post Bachelor degree in theology where I practically preached at least 350 sermons in all with the last 300 sermons in 3 years. Then my post doctoral phase which lasted just over 5 years as pastor of my home church. After that my third phase was out of Sabah where I served in Singapore for 6 years. But the fourth phase was the toughest since for 49 months I was up in Ranau and another 2 years in KK for a total of 6 years in active service.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Anti-Intellectual Movement in Church is Well and Alive

I find it increasing unable to breath and move among the circle of my friends. Besides one or two people I know, there is no one else from the professional world has entered full-ministry since the mid-1995. It's going to be three decades long soon without a single working professional giving up his job and entering into full-time ministry. Even in the late 1980s, we had a few qualified teachers after a few years of teaching, gave up the teaching profession which is one of most secured government jobs with good pension, and then they had entered into ministry in their late 20s or early 30s. But now there is none. There are two or three University graduates among our ranks but they had little to no working experience and having struggled to find a good job in the world they had entered full-time ministry. I can truly say that there is this anti-intellectual movement in church that is dominating the discussion and narrative about full-time ministry and becoming God's servants in general.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

New Appointment

My mother asked me yesterday over lunch whether my appointment was permanent. I did not tell her the length of my contract.  My reply, "More permanent than my current situation". She looked stunned with my answer but I thought she understood. There is nothing permanent in this world. Only God's kingdom is permanent. And we await His coming. I added, "People's hearts could change tomorrow or the next day". Many I thought were my friends are really my "enemies" because they did all they could to stop and hinder my ministry which I received from the Lord. There are not many greater sins other than stopping the ministry of God's servants. It is the devil's work.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Oil of Rejoicing (Psalm 44, LXX)

Obviously this verse appears in Psalm 45 according to the Hebrew MT, but the Septuagint (LXX) it is in Ps 44 where the Psalmist praises a person who is close to God whom God gives the anointing oil of rejoicing beyond his contemporaries. I asked my friend today to buy an English translation of the LXX. He could easily afford a bungalow house but he kept mum when I suggested he should buy a RM100.00 bible.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Greeted by Former Church Members

Today I had had a wonderful church service. I arrived 35 mins early to speak with the senior pastor and one other pastoral. I thought after the bombshell of my appointment announced by a fellow pastor in our official pastors' group. I wanted to share with the church's pastor today the latest development since I am attending the church he pastors on Sundays when I am not preaching. When I start teaching in the second half of the year, I think I won't preach more than once a month. Just after the service ended a church member called out to me at the door and she was a former member of the Ranau's church I pastored in 2015-2016.

Sunday Breakfast & 2016's Korean Trip

On a Sunday when I am not preaching, I normally attend a church service in the city because it starts at 8.30am and finishes by 10.30am. It's a kind of habit for me now to drive into KK by 7am and enjoy a long quiet breakfast before I walk up to the church on the 5th floor of one of the Malls in KK. That would mean my Sunday breakfast would last an hour and I sit and meditate on God's goodness over the past week, from Monday to Sunday morning. This week had gone quickly due to my rest for two full days on Monday and Tuesday as I preached and taught in church last Sunday until 3.30pm in the afternoon. I am glad I have committed twice more and then that's it as it is really too taxing for me since the service starts at 10am and the Bible Study begins after the lunch break at 1pm. But that church has been good to me and I have to return the favour. I was still praying about my April-May holidays and whether I should make a trip back to New Zealand since I have not visited NZ for more than 10 years.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Greek Septuagint & Biblical Languages

One way that I could prepare to offer LXX Greek at the Seminary (hopefully sometime in 2024) is to read the Septuagint, the Old Testament in Greek (275BC translation from the Hebrew in Alexandria). Yesterday I read the first chapter of Song of Songs in the LXX and also the Hebrew. And then, four chapters of the LXX Ecclesiastes and today four more chapters of Amos the prophet. When one gets to read the LXX regularly, it becomes familiar so that it is not totally alien as it is for most people despite their one-year of Greek at University or Seminary.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

"The Secret Counsel of the Lord is with him who fear Him" (Psalm 25:14)

Last Sunday I began to teach the book of Revelation in a Bible Study. I taught for more than an hour and took questions for another 40 minutes. We ended at 3.40pm and I returned home past 4pm. It took me about three full days to recover because I also preached a longish message in the morning from 10:45 to 11.40am on three passages Psalms 15; 24 and Rev 14 with the topic, "Who is worthy to stand on Mount Zion? For the bible study took a lot of my energy. It was mainly because it was already in the afternoon since I got up before 5am. After preaching and having drinks at 12 noon, I felt the tiredness already. At least I have another 10 days before doing the same. I plan to preach a shorter message of about 30 minutes or 35 mins maximum.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Year of Anniversaries

I did not realize that this year 2023 is a year of anniversaries. I sold my law firm early Feb 1993 and officially my firm ceased operations on 28th Feb 1993. I went to NZ on 6th or 7th Feb 1993 to commence a two-week intensive Greek course at Auckland University which first Semester started on 1st March which is the 30th anniversary of my pursuit of theological education. This is also the 20th anniversary of me starting as pastor of my home church in Likas on 1st Jan 2003. Has it been 20 years already?

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The 17th Time

I have moved from one place to another for 16 times since I gave up my legal practice and entered into full time ministry. I shall be moving again in 3 months' time. It is not the first time staying at the Seminary as I stayed there for 2 years when I was completing my PhD thesis. But this time it is different. I am entering on my own terms and what I can offer to the College and I am glad that the College's management saw the potential and gifts in me.

Biblical Scholar at the Doorsteps

If I had wanted to be a lecturer I would have stayed back in Singapore with much more comfort, convenience and compensation. I returned to Sabah to answer God's call, especially to serve among the indigenous peoples of the land. Perhaps my new posting at a Seminary with first class facilities will fulfill such a calling as many Malay speaking pastors cannot go anywhere else besides Indonesia.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Looking towards the Future filled with Hope

It is not easy for me to describe the events of the past few weeks. On Lunar New Year 22nd Jan 2023 when I preached in the same church as I preached yesterday, I had nothing to look forward in the near future. What a month of events could change one's life directions for good. The Board of my new employers met on 11th Feb and on the same day I received news that they had unanimously approved my appointment as lecturer beginning 2nd Semester of this year. But the formal letter came a bit later and many things happened in between. Many of my denomination's senior leaders at the district level (delegates who could vote in AGM) had hopes that I would continue to serve in my own denomination. But it is out of my hands, I told them frankly that since 1st May 2022, I had no indication that my appointment would come any time soon.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

A Reservoir of Goodwill

When I think about the events of the past couple of days, I am astounded by God's works and how He has granted me His favour and from his holy heaven given me mighty victories. Now that I have an appointment in hand, though I start only in June, I have time to think about what I want to do in the next few months. When I thought about my ministry in church last Sunday, I realised I had a deep reservoir of good will among church members and leaders. Many members stayed back to chat with me over drinks and later the pastor with four elders took me into the pastor's office and we had a lunch fellowship lasting more than 2 hours. I don't remember having a longer lunch being served coffee twice and buns at the end after a hearty lunch offering. When I spoke the elders listened.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Preaching is Intense

No wonder Jesus felt power had gone out of Him when the woman with a bleeding issue touched Him. To be a blessing and God's vessel of His power touching people with His Word requires much energy by the Spirit of the Lord. Even as I write just before noon 24 hours since I ended my preaching yesterday I felt extremely fatigued. I could not rest yesterday until 6.30pm in the evening and had an hour's nap before going out for my dinner at 9.30pm.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Looking on the Bright Side

Sometimes events and people's chattering could overwhelm one's peace and constancy. I have learned to react with extreme caution even confronted with great provocation and lies, ane slander. I believe God is on the throne and He is on the side of the right. Hence, we can look on the bright side of things no matter how pessimistic or hopeless the situation may be. There is always a silver lining after the dark clouds. Even during the height of cyclone Gabriele on Sunday I told my son that dad had prayed and the cyclone would move away from Auckland and he would be able to land if his flight would go ahead as scheduled.

The Footprints of the Righteous

There has been intense speculation. It's been a fortnight since news came concerning recent happenings at former College and there has been non-stop texts and messages, either sent to me or conversations among other groups about the possibility of my return and appointment. But I refused to comment or talk about anything, except what I know to be hard cold facts. There is a need for a cool head and this is the time. Since I am out of the loop for such a long time, I did not want to add fuel to fire or comment without factual basis. I often replied by saying that we should leave everything in the Lord's hands. Yet, I am astounded and somewhat encouraged that people are still talking about my ministry, here and there. My good friend told me that, "you are a high profile person". But as for me, "I am a worm in Jacob". But when I think of it, no wonder in less than an hour of my appearance at our AGM last November after four years of non-meeting with delegates, I was nominated for the top post, not by one District as was before but by two Districts. I then realised that whatever influence that I had had was due to the footprints of the righteous.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

1,200 books Sold

Yesterday, for the first time I could not supply what my buyers demanded, my commentary on the Paul's letter to the Galatians. I had to reserve a few copies for sale in my forthcoming speaking engagements. SO I only sent 5 copies to Sarawak instead of 10 that they requested. Then, I did a quick inventory on the number of books sold. I realised I had sold more than 1,000 books in three years, probably closer to 1,200 books altogether. Leading the list is my Malay commentary on John's Gospel with 700 sold (perhaps 600 sold and 100 given away to church members and pastors who could not afford to pay for them). Second, is Departure Points just over 200 copies sold and my publishers told me that my book is one the few books still getting sales in his bookstore. So many other books could be left on the bookshelves for years without a single buyer.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Nothing is certain until it is certain

I have learned from past experience that nothing is certain until it is certain. I have experienced that an appointment seems certain but literally at the last hour it did not happen as planned. In the last few months I have lived some much uncertainty, not so much of myself since I look to the Lord always and rest in Him, but many friends and so called friends have asked me about my future direction. Until early December when my final printing of my book is released I was occupied with my commentary writing the whole of last year from Solomon’s Song in English to Galatians in Malay. But my friends were more anxious than I am about my future ministry. Hardly a week would go by and in recent weeks, hardly a day would go by without someone texting me or asking me what I was doing and my future ministry would be. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

A Feeling of Shalom

Peace is what only God can give. True peace is what Jesus Christ could give (John 14). Lately, I have been feeling this sense of shalom. I feel contented and joyful in the Lord always. Though I was resting from one of the longest journeys I ever made last weekend, I had this feeling of shalom. I feel shalom in my house. I don't have to rush out to "work" or "office". I still get up at 5am like this morning. I feel shalom resting in my house. For almost 55 years of my life, I never really felt the sense of shalom. I went to Singapore when I was 13 years old, then to JB for the next two years, onwards to Melbourne for my Year 12th and then to Christchurch New Zealand for tertiary education.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Epic Journey

This was not the longest journey that I undertook as it is only 200 kms from KK to Lawas. But it was epic as the road conditions were really bad on the Sabah's side. There was much road works and repairs going on every where but markings and signage were poor. For both journeys to and fro, it was bright day light but yet we lost our way several times because there were no signage for old and new roads and we missed several turns into roads closed but then had to go back into the right lane. Many a time we did not know whether we were heading the right way back to Kota Kinabalu.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Lawas here I come

After 5 hours’ drive with two short stops in between, we arrived at Lawas just before 2pm and checked into the Hotel. It is my first time crossing the border between Sabah and Sarawak. After countless times preaching in towns and villages at the south of Sabah near the border more than 27 years ago, it is about time that I went across and see that as spreading my wings of ministry to the State of Sarawak. I already liked the vibes of the town. I sat in a cafe and enjoyed my latte and waffle with ice cream.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Common People Heard Him Gladly

This is one verse in the gospels that kept my foot on the ground. People and ordinary people heard Jesus gladly while religious leaders gnashed their teeth. It is so important to know that God loves the masses, the mass of humanity, and the common people heard Jesus gladly. Today I went back to my former church for Sunday service for the first time since 1st May, the Sunday when all SOPs were relaxed. I also attended their Christmas dinner in early December, but that was not a Sunday service like today.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

My steps are ordered by You, Lord

I have set my house in order. I leave without regrets. Though it seems I have spent my strength for nought, my judgement is with God and He will reward me according to my works, what I have done in His Name in sincerity and truth. My legacy is also secure. Two bookstores in a major Mall in Kota Kinabalu sell my books, all four of them and the fifth, actually my first could be purchased from Amazon. If they want to enquire what I have taught and what I have believed they can read my two books in Malay.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Restlessness & Rest in God (Departure Points)

Yesterday I was restless. I did not know what to do. But this morning calm had returned and now I am at peace with God. Last Sunday I told the congregation that quite often after much prayers, God may not speak directly to us, but He will give us the peace of mind before we embark on a major decision that will affect the future in our lives and ministry. I am at such a point. My waiting is over. In fact, by the end of November last year it was clear that I do not have a future where I am now. The silence is deafening and it brings only one message which is loud and clear. Now I am resting in God. And I am going to step out in faith once more. Last night I was heartened to accidentally click on an update of a church friend. She has been reading my Departure Points (already three years since publication).

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

May the fount of youth flourish

The first foreign news that caught my attention was the swearing-in of the new New Zealand's Prime Minister. One fact that astounded me most is the fact that both the PM and former PM are so young, especially the former PM, Jacinda Ardern who is just 42 years old and had already served 5 years and three months before resigning last week. My good friend in church who also followed global news told me that in the West, leaders are young but in Malaysia, leaders hang on forever at all costs and there is hardly any chance of anyone below 50 years old making an impact. I pray that this could change not only in politics but also in church.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

20th Anniversary PhD Thesis Submission

I woke this morning and when I read Scripture from Isaiah 31-33 meditatively, soon it dawned on me that today marks the 20th anniversary of my thesis submission for examination at the University of Otago. It was quite a nerve-wrecking wait for three and a half months. Apparently, my two NZ examiners had examined the thesis in February and the external examiner in March, but the third examiner in UK was taking some time to mark my thesis. It came in the 2nd week in May 2003 and it was one of most exciting times in my life having gained a doctorate. I remember the weight of responsibility on my shoulders now that I would be known as "Dr."

Monday, January 23, 2023

New Year Brings New Things

I have practically made my mind during New Year's Eve reunion dinner. None of my brothers and their wives asked me what I was doing. It was as good as a family reunion as possible with my youngest brother back from Sydney with his wife and son and only his daughter was missing from the full line up of the Siew family. Now my mother is the matriarch and I am the oldest surviving son of my late father. Even when we took the siblings' photo with our mum, I sat with my mum while my brothers stood behind. I told them I represented "dad" or "papa" and the Siew clan.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Shopping for Lunar New Year

It brings to bear how much prices have gone up. Just last year in early Feb when I invited my church leaders and members to my house for Chinese New Year celebration a roast duck costs about RM80.00. Now it is RM120.00 a 50 percent increase. Pork prices have doubled, 100 percent rise in the past six months. How can people survive with low wages I am not sure. I am not surprised that many are struggling to make ends meet and “bulan tua” comes earlier in the middle of the month for many workers.

Friday, January 20, 2023

God Changes my Heart (Proverbs 21:1)

In the book of Proverbs (21:1), it is said that, "the king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." I must admit God has changed my heart. Despite one's best wishes if not reciprocated, one does not see any fruits. It is like the two lovers in the Song, that the love is something to behold as the interaction between the lovers and their mutual self-praise and enjoyment of each other permeates the whole Song from beginning to end. Also in Amos, "unless both sides agree, how can two walk together".

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

How long, Lord?

I have learned to wait on the Lord and not rush into making a rash decision as to my future. Just two months before I ended my pastorate in KK, a Seminary offered the position of research fellow with generous emolument teaching only an online course per Semester and supervising two or three students. That's sounds easy enough and the remuneration is at par with my full time salary but I turned it down on the basis that I wanted to be there for my congregation full-time literally, ready to visit and minister at the height of the pandemic. Only God knows our hearts and our labours for Him and He will repay them handsomely.

Monday, January 16, 2023

"All the Days are ordained for me" (Psalm 139:16)

Winding back from 2003 to 1998, I was in my final year as Treasurer-General. Only two years ago, early 2021 I realised how momentous my last year in office proved to be. In January 2021, it was announced that Malaysia suffered a contraction of 5.5% negative economic growth due to the Covid-19 health crisis and the many lockdowns. But the economist noted that it was not the worst in recent history as 1997-1998 was worse that the economic growth contracted by 7.5% due to the financial crisis at that time. I was in my last year as Treasurer-General and the growth in income was steady, the best coming in 1998 with more than 25% increase compared to 1997. At the height of economic crisis, God blessed the church and by November 1998 when I left office, I left a surplus of RM210,000 to my successor which lasted less than a year! With God nothing is impossible.

"My Times are in Your Hands, O Lord" (Psalm 31:16)

Oftentimes this verse is a strong support. Sometimes, one wonders how long one has to wait. The theme of my sermon on Lunar New Year is that it is God who determines our steps and our days before Him. It is not in man to determine his own paths (Jeremiah). Psalm 139:16 is even more explicit. If there is a verse that supports predestination and foreknowledge of God, this is it: "All the days of my life are written in Your book before one of them came to be" That's an amazing statement. As this is my 59th year on this earth as a living soul, I can begin to appreciate this Scripture more and more. It is not in me to determine my own future. My times are in Your hands, O God. When I look at the year of the Rabbit, a cycle of twelve years and if I count backwards according to the animal of my date/year of birth from 2012 backwards as just another year, I would have completed the mighty five cycles of 60 years. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

The Call of a New Generation

The Psalmist prays that before his time is up he would have declared God’s righteousness to the next generation. It is important for us to focus on generational change and renewal. We must ask ourselves whether we are preparing the next generation of believers, not just succession of leaders but the whole cohort of young believers, our next generation. Since my return to Sabah in 2014 when I turned 50 years old, I have been doing just that, first in my Ranau church our first service was filled with Secondary students between 100-200 of them each Sunday. Several times we had more than 250 people packed into our shoplot.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Passing of a 2nd generation Leader

When our former President passed away in 2017, I remembered thinking that the second generation of leaders in our Church would begin to cede leadership to the third or even fourth generation of believers. Today I attended the wake of a church leader who passed away last night and with the eulogies given, I was reminded that he was active in ministry in the 1970s in his teenage years. 50 years of Christian service and today he is no more with us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Planning for 2023

I have been occupied with preaching since early Dec till New Year’s Day that I had no time to plan for 2023. I do not wish to rush anything as I had just completed a Galatians’ commentary last month and if anything comes about, it will be at least mid February before I start to write another book. When I thought about 2023, I am going to preach on Lunar New Year falling on a Sunday this year just as Christmas 2022 was on Sunday.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Loyalty no More

During the past couple of years I have lost more friends than gain new ones. There were some whom I thought were my friends but they are no more. Not that they vanish from the esrth but that they have behaved dishonourably and acted disloyally to their friends. How we take their words at face value? Last Saturday I drove for two hours one way into the interior of Sabah (one friend who saw my news thought the place I went was really far away). I did so because I wanted to keep my promise that when my book on Galatians was completed he would get a copy.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Second Sunday

This is the first Sunday since 5 weeks ago that I will not be preaching. Yesterday I drove up to Nahaba, 2 hours’ drive from KK. We stopped over for lunch in Tuaran and proceeded to Kota Belud reaching the town at 2.20pm. I picked up three books unsold (John’s Gospel) from a pastor friend at KB and proceeded to Nahaba to visit my good friend, the pastor of SIB Nahaba church. We reached there on time at 3pm sharp and it was raining heavily as we entered the stretch of road about 14kms from the main junction leading to Nahaba village.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Book Sales for New Year

It’s the Orthodox Christmas today. But my book sales are going well. I have only five good copies left for Sarawak and another 20 copies with a few typos that I am selling with RM10.00 discount. These were the first copies printed before they are corrected. I am still deciding whether to print more books in A5 size which is slightly cheaper to print and lighter to mail to different buyers across the State and country.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Confidence in my Heart

If our hearts do not condemn us, whatever we ask, shall be granted to us. And the Lord is greater than our hearts. Many a time, I would have despaired out of fear, within and without. When one does not know whether the person talking with you is a friend or foe, then we must be on one's guard all the time. Like in the Gospels, Jesus' enemies always watched for something Jesus said that they might use it against Him. But Jesus spoke plainly and boldly, the truth from the Father. But alas who wants the truth?

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

"That I may declare all Your works" (Psalm 73:28)

It has been a whirlwind Christmas and New Year's ministry. And it's not done yet until the Orthodox Christmas on Saturday. This itinerant ministry has taken me from KK (two churches) to Ranau for three days, then to Sandakan for New Year's ministry and now onto Kota Belud. I can only praise God and declare all that He has done, His great works for all who have eyes to see and ears to listen. I preached for 55 minutes on New Year's Day and I sensed that everyone paid attention and no one moved as I spoke. The interesting thing was that the elder who came after my sermon prayed a prayer of repentance for the church and I praised the Lord that the Word of God touched him and many members on New Year's Day. I have also restored my relationship with my closest relatives.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Four-fold Purpose

I have multiple reasons for going to Sandakan. First, to attend my niece’s wedding, some of whom nephews and nieces I have not known since I entered ministry 28 years ago. Second, to visit my auntie who had been ill and hospitalised for 7 weeks and God answered my prayers for her. She was near death and we feared we would not see her alive again. Her joy and tears in seeing me were worth my trip and all the expenses paid, air tickets and two night hotel accommodation.