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.