“Departure Points” by Tony Siew: Book Reflection

Reading “Departure Points” was a breeze and I completed the book more quickly than most. The reading overtook some other books which I had started reading a few weeks earlier. I typically read about five to ten books at a time, dipping into any of them as my whim or mood fancies. The language is informal and it was an easy and interesting read. 

I first met the author through reading his blog. Then when he was in Singapore, we had a few meals together, and he also preached in World Revival Prayer Fellowship, the church I served. In our limited meetings and from reading his blog, what impressed upon me is that he is a man of deep convictions, who works hard at teaching and preaching God’s word, and displays great love for the SIB (Sidang Injil Borneo) churches. Reading this book has given me more insights into his gifts and character. I can see how he obtained a well of wisdom in church leadership – both parochial and denominational – from his wide experience and postings in different settings and countries. 

“Departure Points” gives a quick and easy account of the life and ministry of Rev Dr Tony Siew. The settings changed quickly, from local to denominational, from Sabah to New Zealand to Singapore, from urban church to rural church, from rich city church to poor village church, and denominational seminary to established regional seminary. His ministry roles were as widely varied as his settings: pastor, writer, researcher, denominational treasurer and fundraiser, itinerant preacher to rural churches, seminary lecturer, scholar presenting papers at international conferences, and acting principal of a denominational seminary. The book’s title is clearly appropriate. 

I liked the book for its easy read and my interest in this Sabah denomination which began with Holy Spirit outpourings in the mid-1970’s, about two or three years later than the revivals that began in Singapore. It demonstrated the power of the Spirit in missions and evangelism and natural church multiplication. Till today the Spirit’s activity is still part of the DNA of the church and I do pray it stays that way for the tendency is for such DNA to fade into obscurity with the passage of time, and the equipping of seminary lecturers in seminaries that restrict the Spirit’s work.

I admire the work of the foreign missionaries from Australia (Borneo Evangelical Mission/ OMF) who successfully passed on the baton to the local pastors and leaders and left behind a model of church polity that required plurality of leadership. This has given a lot of stability (despite the slow speed of decisions and execution). The history of foreign missions is littered with missionaries that held on the power for too long and did not contextualize polity to suit the culture they had evangelized. But these Aussie missionaries did well. No doubt the Spirit was upon them to guide them.

Through Tony’s report of his story, I have a better understanding of the SIB denomination and the local churches in the city and the rural villages, and how they operated, and the challenges they faced. He is the only ethnic Chinese pastor among the scores of pastors and church leaders (from the major tribal ethnic groups) that fulfilled the many leadership roles in church and denomination. It is grace on the part of the tribal majorities and upon Tony’s ministry that he was promoted to strategic positions and appointments during his sacrificial tenure of ministry in the denomination. 

I could see that while he is multi-talented and very responsible and capable, his strong convictions, sense of responsibility and courage occasionally landed him in no man’s land and within the crosshair of his critics’ rifle scopes. He is a courageous and forthright leader, passionate as a scholar of God’s truth, and as a pastor-lover of God’s church. I cannot help but feel that a mission that suits him and will make a great contribution to SIB is some kind of wide-ranging and influential role in reformation and implementation of the training of future pastors of the SIB.

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The Power of Right Believing by Joseph Prince

This is a collation of several posts about Joseph Prince’s book titled “The Power of Right Believing”. In the past I had written a string of reflections following the reading of each part spread over some time, as it was done while I was busy in ministry. I noticed that people do read these old posts even though they are all over the place. For convenience, I pulled them all together in internal links for the convenience of readers.








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The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd: a reflection

I wanted to read something different after I retired and asked for book recommendations from a church member who keeps an Instagram account called “curiousbookreviewer” with over 5231 followers. She passed me three books, one on time travel by a Japanese author, on which I wrote a reflection HERE. Soon after that, I started on her second recommendation, a thriller titled, The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd.

I have watched many a thriller movie but hardly read books of this genre. I had mixed feelings. The cover and the blurb warned me of a peer into the twisted depths of the human heart and I must admit to being reluctant to begin.

Somehow I managed to make a start and was immediately gripped by the writer’s use of striking phrases, metaphors and descriptions. As the atmosphere darkened with the abduction of the heroine, a clever 13 year old student chess player at a tournament, I chickened out and stalled a few weeks. One day Grace visited my daughter and I asked her, “Did the abductee survive in the end?”. When she said, “Yes”, it gave me the guts to continue reading. What for most would be a spoiler became a prodder for me.

I was absorbed by the mystery, the twists and turns in the plot, the engrossing characters and use of first person narrative by the two main protagonists in the book. One night I read until my wife told me its already 1 am, quite normal for young people to be awake, but not for me. It became riveting in the final third, with a cliffhanger Hollywood finish. I must say the author probably wrote it with an aim at the big screen. I am no purist so to me he did a great job and I am sure some director will make it into a profitable hit.

Human nature is capable of the most deceptive, inhumane and violent acts when it boils down to survival. Unfortunately the two protaganists, one a thirteen year old, had to resort to deception and violence to survive. The human psyche has ingenious defence mechanisms to protect itself from trauma, harm and guilt.

I believe the intent of the author is purely entertainment and commercial (which is okay) and this is no study of human nature. I enjoyed the ride, I mean the read, and look forward to the final book, which is Michio Kaku’s “The Future of Humanity”, a futuristic look at man’s future with the current developments in science and technology, for example, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology. I wonder if he will include the threat of pandemics in his projections.

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The Power of Right Believing: reflection 7

rightPart 7: Finding rest in the Father’s love

Now at last I have come to the last part of the book. It’s rare that I finish a book. Making a public promise gives me that little push to complete it. So I am glad to announce this Good Friday: “It is finished – the reading of this book of course.”

Chapter 19: Receive the Father’s love for you

This chapter has interesting insights into the parable of the Prodigal Son or some say the Waiting Father. JP does a good job of showing that this is all about the waiting father’s prodigal lavish love and grace to both of his sons. The first son was accepted even though his motive for returning home was suspect with self-interest, and his mentality is one of works – “Let me try to earn my keep by working for you like one of your hired servants”. The second son, also had that same works mentality: “I have slaved for you all these years and you never gave me what I deserved, but this son who never deserved anything, has a barbecued fatted calf!” Both sons showed the flawed but common approach to Christian life of many Christians.

Joseph Prince himself personally does confess and admit his wrong to God (310) but it is done as one already forgiven, as one secure and deeply loved: “Do I say “sorry” to God and confess my sins when I have fallen short and failed? Of course I do. But I do it not to be forgiven because I know that I am already forgiven through Jesus’ finished work. The confession is out of the overflow of my heart because I have experienced his goodness and grace and because I know that as His son, I am forever righteous through Jesus’ blood. It springs from being righteousness-conscious, not sin-conscious; from being forgiveness-conscious, not judgement-conscious. There is a massive difference.” An earlier quote (308,309) shows the belief he finds harmful: “Some people think that fellowship with God can only be restored when you are perfectly contrite and have perfectly confessed all your sins. They think that you must apologize to God before He can be appeased. Please understand that I have nothing against saying “sorry” to God or confessing our sins. All I am saying is that we are not as important as we make ourselves out to be. The father was the initiator. Before the son even had thoughts of returning home, the father had already missed him, was already looking out for him, and had already forgiven him. Before the son could utter a single word of his rehearsed apology, the gather had already run to him, embraced him, and welcomed him home.” I thought it good to quote extensively here, as there has been some controversy and confusion about JP’s statements about confessing sins that are often not accurate reflections of his understanding. Hope this clarifies and settles some dust from your eyes.

Chapter 20: Be transformed by the Father’s love

The focus in this chapter is our propensity to try to earn the Lord’s love and favour. JP demonstrates that both sons had that mentality. Believers therefore need to come to a place of believing and receiving God’s love and let it transform them. All his love and spiritual resources and blessings are already ours not because of our perfect performance but His perfect finished work. And when we learn to receive God’s love, we will be empowered to live free from the pig sty life that the prodigal son would never think of going back to after experiencing the love of the father.

Chapter 21: Finding rest in the Father’s love

The best way to sum up this last chapter is to quote a “simple but critical truth”, one that you should memorize “even if you forget everything else you have read in this book”. Here it goes: “As a child of God, no matter what happens in your life, your Father in heaven loves you dearly and nothing you do can ever change that.” Believing this will free you from the performance trap; give you power to overcome mistakes, failures and sins in your life; triumph over temptation; and make you unshakeable.

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The Power of Right Believing by Joseph Prince: reflection 6


The central idea in this part is all about having hope: a confident expectation of good from God because He is gracious. It’s about what is hope, why it is important, how to have it, and bible examples of this truth in action.


Joseph Prince used the famous battle that Jehoshaphat fought against enemies that formed an unholy alliance against God’s people (2 Chronicles 20). It demonstrated how hope comes, and how it works magic in impossible situations that God’s people finds themselves in. Inspiring chapter.


The story of Jabez’s prayer and God’s answer to him (1 Chronicles 4:9) was the basis of encouraging us to unashamedly ask big when we approach God in prayer. He tells the inspiring story of Olivia Lum, the entrepreneur who founded Hyflux, Singapore’s first water management company to be listed in the SGX.


Joseph Prince reminds us of the thesis of this book. There is power in right believing. And the secret to right believing is right listening. He demonstrates this principle by showing how listening to the stories of Jesus healing power raised the faith of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years (Mark 5).

Well, I am surprised that I have actually come to this point. This is the second last part of the book. Most books remain unfinished on my book shelf. I am easily distracted when it comes to ideas. I move from one idea and interest to another quickly. You could say it was my earlier pledge to readers that has brought me to this point. Now I can see the finish line.

The insights in these chapters does not grab you like gems in the earlier chapters. But the stories are inspiring. I love the Olivia Lum story. Wonderful stuff. This part is an easy lap. It energises, it inspires. It is not rocket science. Hope is strengthened when we keep our eyes on Jesus and his love for us. God wants to bless us and we can have a confident expectation of good because of His unchanging love.

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