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?