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Showing posts from March, 2006
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Crucifixion - The power of Jesus' sacrifice can seem all the more real when you realize the actual physical pain He went through during crucifixion. This interview with a medical doctor details what Jesus would have experienced up to the time of His death on the cross. Click on image to view (s ize: 56MB). source: The International Mission Board & the North American Mission Board, http://www.churchmedialink.com/ Maeghan
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"Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord." ~ Lam 3:40 The spouse who fondly loves her absent husband longs for his return; a long protracted separation from her lord is a semi-death to her spirit: and so with souls who love the Saviour much, they must see his face, they cannot bear that he should be away upon the mountains of Bether, and no more hold communion with them. A reproaching glance, an uplifted finger will be grievous to loving children, who fear to offend their tender father, and are only happy in his smile. Beloved, it was so once with you. A text of Scripture, a threatening, a touch of the rod of affliction, and you went to your Father's feet, crying, "Show me wherefore thou contendest with me?" Is it so now? Are you content to follow Jesus afar off? Can you contemplate suspended communion with Christ without alarm? Can you bear to have your Beloved walking contrary to you, because you walk contrary to him? Have your sins separ
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We are doing an old cantata piece for this Easter: Behold, Your King by John W. Peterson. What I find interesting about this is how easy it is to sing the "Crucify him!" section: it is almost like a chant. I wonder about the crowd back then when Jesus was presented to them by Pilate. "What shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" "Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!" I wonder if it was as easy. Maeghan
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Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Thee, and worthily magnify Thy Holy Name; Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen. ( Book of Common Prayer , 1695) A prayer for holiness and the perfect love of God; regularly used by John Wesley in his personal devotions and public ministry. Maeghan Picture by Emily Fletcher
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During my devotion this morning, I gave myself 2 sets of homework. One, to find out basically what justification is all about and two, what about the concept of free grace and free justification. Ironically, it was during our usual morning conversation to school that my son brought up the subject of free things, which I had responded: is there ever anything free? Justification, as I have pondered on 3 weeks ago, is a legal concept where a sinner is being justified or declared righteous when stand before God. The debate on justification, that has been going on since long, is this: are we justified by faith alone ( Rom 3:24 ) or are we justified by faith as well as in some capacity works ( Jas 2:24 ). I believe Jenkins provides a possible answer in his journal, "Faith and Works in Paul and James", where he asserts the view that, "Paul and James had different purposes and were using the same terms (particularly dikaiow , "to justify") with different connotatio
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1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going." ... 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~John 14:1-4, 27 Maeghan Picture by Dez Pain
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I had quite a busy day today but on the whole I am quite pleased with it. The day started with my vocal training; followed by breakfast and lunch at the same time in the same restaurant on the insistence of my son who is unhappy he missed breakfast because we woke up late; a visit to the International Book Fair where I spent a bundle of cold hard cash on books, books and books; rushed to church for band practice for tomorrow's worship service; attended our church pastor's 65th birthday celebration; and now at home trying to figure out html to get this blog looking the way I want it to look. Anyway, I will be sharing with the congregation tomorrow, this spectacular but poignant song by Sandi Patti, Via Dolorosa or The Way of Suffering: for worship in the 1st service and for anthem in the 2nd. This is one song that bring tears to my eyes. Via Dolorosa by Sandi Patti Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street But the crowds pre
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Today is the 24th day of Lent. I spent my morning devotion reading and studying Rom 3:21-26 , which according to Cranfield, is the centre and heart of almost the entire book of Romans. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. This is the heart of the gospel. It is not only the crucifixion of Christ, for the cross by itself w
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Here is love, vast as the ocean, Lovingkindness as the flood, When the Prince of life, our ransom, Shed for us His precious blood. Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise? He can never be forgotten Throughout heaven's eternal days. On the Mount of Crucifixion Fountains opened deep and wide; Through the floodgates of God's mercy Flowed a vast and gracious tide. Grace and love, like mighty rivers, Poured incessant from above, And heaven's peace and perfect justice Kissed a guilty world in love. ~ William Rees Maeghan
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I kept seeing Imelda Marcos on TV lately; in some trailers to what I suppose would be to a documentary or something. I could not remember her statement word for word, but what she said caught my attention. I did a search and it was a quote that quite many a site have picked up. The most interesting entry I found is in The Wit and Wisdom of Imelda Marcos ( http://www.thewilyfilipino.com/imelda.htm ). " God is love. I have loved. Therefore, I will go to heaven ." - to Pope Paul VI, who responded, " Oh, how wonderful, how childlike ." Pope John Paul is certainly right - not so much for the wonderful part - but definitely right on with the childlike comment. What drew my attention to it was what we had been discussing over the last exegesis class on the book of Romans. Some of the issues brought up had me thinking about this topic of justification. I have not really spend much time thinking about justification before. I had taken it firmly on the assurance of
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I was driving home today when I happen to tail a car with 2 bumper stickers that read: God does not beget. And he is not begotten. They killed him not. Nor crucified him. The first having to do with the monogenes controversy and the second the very case for Christ. Monogenes needs to be explained. For many years it was thought to have been derived from two Greek terms: mono (only) and gennao (beget or bear). Linguistic study in the twentieth century however, has shown that the second half of the word is not closely related to the verb gennao but rather to the term genos (class or kind). Thus the word means rather the "one-of-a-kind" Son or the unique Son, as opposed to adopted sons as we are. The word is also used in Heb 11:17 , where Isaac is called Abraham's monogenes. Isaac is definitely not Abraham's only son but certainly his "unique" son, as there is none other like him. Thus the NIV translates John 3:16 , " he gave his one and
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I had a very interesting discussion with a friend today. We spoke at length basically about 2 things. One, how some preacher scholars who for some reasons prefer to read and teach the Old Testament without much reference to the New Testament. I liken them to those who'd rather have a picture of an unfinished painting to a picture of a finished one. But then again, I am not saying that we can't read the OT on its own. We can, but ultimately the NT fulfills the OT. Having said that however, the NT too, should not be read in isolation. It must be read and taught in relation to the OT. The bible as it is stands as one: it must be read as one. Two, how some scholars see the need to refer to the Western way and the Eastern way of logic and reasoning. Are logic and reasoning geographical? Maeghan Picture by Filipe Frade
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Further to my thoughts yesterday on the necessary death of Christ on cross, this analogy should provide us a clearer understanding. Say you are walking along a river. You saw a person struggling in the water. You get prepared to jump in to save him. You know you can swim, you know you can save the person and you kow you can get back to dryland without any difficulties. All you need to do is to save the drowning person. And once you are in, you grab the poor fella. He stops struggling and allows you to bring him towards the river bank. Now, does he question the fact that you know how to swim? Does he question the fact that you will get back up on the dry bank with or without him? I think not. On the contrary, he is only glad you know that you can, glad that you came along, jumped in and saved him. In the same way, we are dying in our sins. We need to be redeemed. Only Christ can be that offering of sacrifice for our sins because he is the only one not "drowning in the river&q
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Now, going back to Morris's The Cross for Christ , which I am still reading for Lent purposes, one thought sort of crossed my mind a couple of days ago which I meant to explore in more depth when I get the chance. It is something that one of my schooldays friend commented many years ago when I brought her to church. She said that she is not so touched by Christ death on the cross because he knows he is going to die and he knows he is going to resurrect. Therefore, in his dying, there is really nothing special. Morris's commented in his book that Jesus' atoning death is very different from the other deaths people die. He refers to several passages that link Jesus' death with evil. Passages include: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Gal 3:13 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor
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"Be perfect, therefore, for your heavenly Father is perfect." Matt 5:48 (NIV) It seems like I have a knack for getting myself into much debated passages or verses in the bible. It looks like I have landed myself into another one in my search for "perfection" (pun not intended!). According to Friesen, "believers through the centuries have debated about what Jesus meant by this command for perfection. Devoted Christians have always recognised the need to be obedient to their Lord's commands. But there has been much disagreement on how to interpret these words. Some believers claim to have reached this required state of perfection while other, equally devout, Christians have declared that it is impossible." As far as Matt 5:48 is concerned, the key to the verse would be the word, oủv , the Greek word for therefore . What comes before this are the beatitudes (v.1-12), being salt of the earth and light of the world (v.13-16), Jesus coming to fulfil th
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I did a search on "perfection" from available journals and came up with several interesting ones, of which I will read up in the next couple of days. As for now, what I need is a cup a coffee. Gerald L. Borchert, "Matthew 5:48 – Perfection and the Sermon," Review & Expos itor 89 (1992): 265-9. Robert Friesen, "Christian Perfection," Direction 13/3 (1984): 25-32. Anthony A. Hoekema, "Perfection of Christ in Hebrews," Calvin Theological Journal 9 (1974): 31-7. Philip S. Watson, "Wesley and Luther on Christian Perfection," Ecumenical Review 15 (1963): 291-302. J Terence Forestell, "Christian Perfection and Gnosis in Philippians 3:7-16," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 18 (1956): 123-36. Maeghan Picture by Kjetil Valen
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Perfection, one word that keep creeping into my thoughts lately. What is perfection? Why is human so proned towards it? Why must everything be perfect? Maeghan Picture by I M Birchall

Never So Much

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I've never had so much to do Never had in quite awhile But O Lord, I know I can rest in You In peace, in love and in all sublime Copyright © 2006 Pearlie Ng Picture by Kim McDonald

Good Company

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An evening spent In good company Time with a friend And a sip of tea At first I could not see him when He wasn't wearing his needed lens What more his barber-ical error I wouldn't have found him if not for his suspender We then spoke on seemingly weighty stuff Like justification, it is certainly tough And oh! you see, before we're done We need to explain sanctification, when it has begun We pondered on the difficult parable The Lucan one to understand, I'm hardly able And the confusing dialogues are hard to cope Those we find written in the book of Job It was an evening spent In good company Time with a friend And a sip of tea Copyright © 2006 Pearlie Ng Picture by Eddy Schoell
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Life is futile. I sound very ecclesiastical, don't I? It is just that I was continuing in the reading of Morris's Cross of Jesus , its chapter on the cross being the answer to futility, that I did spend some time mulling over it. God has created us in his image. He has created man and woman. He has pronounced them good. But, the good has chosen to be bad. Any ordinary person however, will not choose to say it so blatantly in that way. Nevertheless, in simple words, we choose to be so; by evidence that it takes so much more to do good than to do bad. What more, in this broken world, good always turn bad. Food spoils, air gets polluted, a clean house gets dirty, a fresh schoolgoing boy in the morning gets dishevelled by noon, an organised office becomes a mess in no time. So, let's be ecclesiastical about it. Life is futile. Isn't it then an urgent need for us to submit and cast our weaknesses to God, especially in this season of Lent: to ask for his forgiveness of
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I have been trying to figure out how to present the word pictures of the cross in the adult fellowship meeting. These words are big and difficult ones: being redemption, reconciliation, propitiation. By God's gracious leading, I was led to explore an idea, which turned out to be almost priceless! I checked out the Chinese characters for those words and used http://www.zhongwen.com/ to find out the semantics of each part of the characters. My find was astounding to say the least. Here was what I had discovered. Sin In explaining that we have all sinned and fall short of God's glory, its Chinese character 罪 has a net 网 covering evil 非. We fool ourselves if we think we are without sin. Sacrifice I introduced the group to sacrifices and sin offerings of the Old Testament - in order to pay for the wrongs that the Israelites have done, they were instructed to offer unblemished lambs to be slaughtered in their place. They are also required to place their right hand on the anima

The way the cross saves

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Would you have thought that there has never been an agreement on the way the cross saves us? Morris says that this could be due to the more pressing issues in the early centuries of the church's existence. Discussion on the soteriological aspect of the cross was considered minimal in comparison to the immense energy lavished on other questions in Christian doctrine, vis a vis the Trinity, the nature of the Godhead, the creeds of Christendom. As a result the church has never had an accepted understanding of the way the cross affects atonement. Morris however, presents 3 views of atonement: The Bearing of Penalty, A Demonstration of Love and, Victory. These are not mutually exclusive, though some have held that the whole truth is contained in one of them. There is in fact truth in all three and we cannot abandon any of them. Maeghan Picture from http://office.microsoft.com/
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I had totally forgotten about the adult fellowship session I have to take this Saturday evening! I had been toying with a few possibilities on what to do but with nothing really concrete in mind. With not much time left, I have to decide quickly and work on preparing for it. I finally decided on the cross. There are three reasons why I chose the cross. Firstly, for the obvious reason of Lent, there is no other we should focus on. Secondly, it has been constantly filling my mind by evidence of recent blogs and finally, it raises the most profound of questions. My son summed it up for me just awhile ago when we somehow or rather was having a conversation along the same line. He said, the simplest of questions has the longest of answers! You'd think he an eighty year-old instead of eight! Think about it. Life's deceivingly simplest questions seek the most profound of answers. In a glance, you might find no qualms in providing a quick answer to questions like, "Why did Je
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Now, to come back to the topic of the cross of Jesus, Morris introduces some great picture words that the New Testament writers used to bring out what the death of Christ has done. Our loss however, stands in the fact that we may miss their exact significance because we do not share their thought world. I will be almost quoting Morris in the following: Redemption We no longer have this process now and therefore it is easy for us to miss what the New Testament writers meant when they used the term. It originally refers to prisoners of war, where a ransom price is paid for them to be set free. The word then came to be used for the release of slaves by a payment of a price. Sinners are slaves to sins ( John 8:34 ) and under a sentence of death ( Rom 6:23 ). The cross is a payment of the price that brings us liberty. Our salvation is at a cost and now we are free. Propitiation It means the turning away of anger, usually by the offering of a gift. Whether we like it or not, the bible
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I had a pretty long day today but fascinating nonetheless. The beginning of the day was filled with stress of one kind and the closing of the day with stress of an entirely different nature. It is almost paradoxical - the first of the body, sarx; the second of the spiritual, pneuma . The first is reminiscent of the frailty of humankind, the glutton for power and standing in society and yet with a tinge of desire for justice; although whether it is justice for the purpose of justice alone or justice for the purpose of self-gratification remains a question. The second however, is something quite weighty and complex for me to grasp at this point of time. It is the realisation that as far as biblical hermeneutics is concerned, can one really, truly and genuinely interpret God's word? With the stalwarts of the Christian faith holding onto clearly contradicting positions on various issues - including the concept of hell and eternal damnation, salvation and the possibility of it being
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Being the Lent season, I should be spending time with the Lord in prayer and reminiscence of the cross, rather than on the dishonest manager and his master. I was reading Leon Morris's The Cross of Jesus before I was interjected by the mind-boggling Lucan parable. I would have to read it again from the beginning as I have already lost track of it -- which is something I seem to be doing quite often in recent days, losing track of my reading, that is. Comparing to John Stott's The Cross of Christ , Morris's The Cross of Jesus is by far a much thinner book but nonetheless an excellent one. While Stott attempts to lay out what the cross is, what it represents, what it achieved and what it means by living under it, Morris presents the cross as an answer to futility, ignorance, loneliness, sickness & death and, selfishness. Firstly, Morris asks the question Why the Cross ? The cross is very central to Christianity and it is even evident in the language that we use: &qu
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Having seen that it is possible to apply the theory of agency and usury to the parable, one still have to ask if it is so important to establish the manager's innocence in his subsequent act. This is because the master can very well commend him for his craftiness though not his dishonesty; like a villain admiring another villain. What follows from the Luke 16:1-8a parable are the Luke 16:8b-13 lessons. Verse 8b-9 is where the dishonest manager's prudence is taken as a model for Christians. This is not easy to apply because of the act of dishonesty attached to it. Verse 8b is pretty much a general statement which points out that the children of this world are wiser than the children of light as they are more adept and prudent in taking care of their business compared to the Christians. They use more skills, make more plans and contrive more ways to provide for themselves compared to the Christians who often do not do enough in their business of promoting the gospel. Verse 9 h
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One can basically raise 4 questions from this parable: 1. In what way was the manager dishonest? This happens to be fundamental to the meaning of the whole parable. We weren't told how the manager squandered the master's wealth. However, he was already been called a "dishonest manager". His subsequent conduct however strangely and only resulted in praise from his master. It therefore begs the question: was his subsequent action really dishonest and corrupt? 2. What is the Palestinian economic situation reflected in the parable? Derrett has suggested that among the practices in the Near Eastern countries are agency and usury. Therefore it would be possible that the manager acted as an agent for the master. In this case, any criminal act on the part of the manager will have no bearing of accountability on the master. He could therefore been practising various dishonest acts to gain profit for himself: for example, renting and lending out his master's land and
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I guess I spoke too soon. I did a search on some journals and found a long list of them attributed to this Lucan passage. One of them commented that: "Almost every article or book section devoted to the so-called parable of the Unjust Steward begins by noting that it is the most difficult of the parables". It continued, "This parable has spawned a wide variety of interpretations, although none has produced anything resembling a scholarly consensus." (Landry & May, 2000) Looks like I have a lot of reading and studying of the passage to do. I shall be devoting the next few days of blogs to this. Maeghan Picture from http://office.microsoft.com/
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I read one of the most difficult passages during my devotion this morning: Luke 16:1-9. It has baffled me last year when I read it off Carson's For the Love of God Vol.1 and it baffled me again this morning; so much so that my breakfast devotion did not last very long. Now that I am home, out came Walter Kaiser's Hard Sayings of the Bible . I had spent quite a bit getting this huge tome for myself last Christmas but so far I hadn't really got much out of it. And I couldn't make anything out of its Luke 19:9 entry. But now that I am re-reading the passage, I realised that I may have made a mistake. I had read it in isolation of its adjoining verses. Reading on into v.10-12 clears the air a little. I am being reminded time and again to read the bible in context and in its entirety. Maeghan Picture from http://office.microsoft.com/
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Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It will inaugurate our preparation to observe the Lord's passion and resurrection. Today begins the Lent season. It is a call to deeper involvement and deeper faith in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I have often felt wanting. I always feel I am never the person I want to be. I know I often strive for perfection. The world we live in however, is far from being perfect; and yet I strive to be. Why? Only because we are initially made to be perfect; then became marred by sin. Non-Christians may never understand our preoccupation with the concept of sin. But what I think is that the same goes for ourselves as Christians. John Stott has lamented that we underestimate the gravity of sin, our sin: the fact that we have chosen to be separated from God. I sometimes think that I am ok, that I am close to God; but on a deeper level, I sense that I am no where near God in the thoughts I think, in the words I say and in the things I do