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Showing posts from June, 2006

A logical construction

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I have been lazying for too long. I forced myself to sit down and really seriously start constructing my Romans 6 paper and I think I am back in business! It is however, far from finished. What I have accomplished though is that I have worked out a logical structure to the paper. I felt that even though Romans 1-5 have been very well done by my fellow classmates, we all tend to get lost in all the theological discussions, debates and Greek grammar, so much so that either we could not finish the intended passage or we run really very late. I am going to do it differently, even though I cannot be sure it will work. But at least I have a logical sequence to it. My paper will be constructed as follows: - Introduction - The scope - The context of the passage - Romans 6:1-14 parsed, diagrammed and interpreted - Paul’s argument - Greek exegesis of key expressions ....... died to sin ....... baptised in Christ and into death ....... buried with him ....... live with him - If should not sin

Musical Blessings

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I took vocal lessons since March this year and I am so blessed to have an excellent vocal trainer to help and train me in singing. Joanna is a delight to be with, a real blessing and joy to me and all around her. I have learnt so much from her. The most important is this: since I started serving in the music ministry in church, be it in the choir or the worship team, some 20 years ago, I was always told to sing with my diaphragm. The problem is nobody could tell me how! Most would show me by belting out a song. Yes, I hear them. But no, I don't see how. Not until a couple of years ago, when Joanna explained it. Aaahh ... I see ... I also learnt why I can't seem to sing sometimes. I now realise that each of us have these, I am not sure what to call it technically, notes between our low and high singing range. I just sound awful singing G and A just above the middle-C. Solution? Practice and more practice. And finally I found and confirmed my genre of songs: classical. I love

Pictures in Psalm 23

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What I think about the word pictures: Shepherd one who provides one who cares and loves one who owns us, who bought us with a price Green pastures cool and refreshing rest vast feeding ground of the Word of God beauty and peace ( Dugalug ) Still waters peace the deep and quiet working of the Spirit Valley of shadow of death the lowest point of our lives, seven to the point of near death that point in life when you need someone to save you. In comic books, it is the point where it looks like the villian was going to win ( Dugalug ) His rod and staff his sovereignty his care his power his leading A prepared table providence needs fellowship Passover ( Dugalug ) Overflowing cup goodness upon goodness, blessings upon blessings And Julia sent me this link , a very good read on the Psalm. Maeghan Picture by Dominic Morel

Pictures in Psalm 23

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A Psalm of David. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. I shared this psalm in a song with our church 2nd service on Sunday. Psalm 23 is the most famous of all psalms. I remember in a class on Preaching the Psalms conducted by DA Carson several years ago, where he mentioned that famous passages in the bible are among the most difficult to preach. I agree with him. When lessons or passages in the bible become so much quoted, we gloss over t

Wait on the Lord, renew your strength

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Psalm 6 To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David. 1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. 2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. 3 My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD--how long? 4 Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. 5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? 6 I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. 7 My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. 8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. 9 The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment. This morning, I felt most tired and weary; like there is

Man shall not live by bread alone

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We have a guest speaker today; who is none other than our very own homegrown theologian. He is undergoing his Masters in Systematic Theology in Singapore. Back for the holidays, we are privilege to have him speak to us this morning. He shared with us his thoughts on Luke 4:4, " Man shall not live by bread alone ." Humanity has quite a lot of to do with food; by food is the first commandment that God gave to mankind , by food Adam and Eve fell into sin, by food offerings are given to God, by food we are called to remember our Lord. But man shall not live by food alone. We may have all we need but if we do not have God in our lives, we have nothing. We may be the best law-abiding person on earth but if we do not heed the word of God, we do not live aright. Our lives can only be complete in our creator. Maeghan Picture by Pontus Edenberg

My problem with pride

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I have not been worship leading for 3 months. This is a record. I have not been so out of action for so long. So I offered my uncle to fill in for him, which he gladly accepted. He has this mindset that he is always too old to lead in worship, which I, with much prayer, have convinced him otherwise and he has been leading in worship for several months now. We had our practice today and I felt it was a good practice. Firstly, we had good fun, we enjoyed ourselves. Secondly, the songs were good in their own rights and we worshipped in our own ways, even though it is practice time. And thirdly, I felt I did better this time, after several vocal lessons which I started in March. Now, this is where the problem is. I am ashamed, very ashamed, to admit this but since the very beginning, when I started worship leading about 20 years ago (yes, it was that long!) I always thought I sang well. I tried to stop thinking that and truth be told , many a times I got reminded of myself that I am not

Better is sorrow than laughter

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In times of sorrow, I used to compel myself to read the happy psalms. Not anymore when I realise that I have to be honest with God with my cries; I am not to disguise it with forced laughter. Contrary to what the world in general believe, Solomon says in Ecc 7:3-4, “Better is sorrow than laughter: for with a sad countenance it is well with the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, and the heart of fools in the house of mirth.” Is sorrow a good thing? Isn’t it a given that everyone desires to be happy? When one is sorrowful, he is reduced to the very raw form of his soul. When one is sorrowful, he realises his own weakness and reaches out for help. When one is sorrowful, he feels the hurts of the others and reaches out to help. Sorrow is evident in the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah’s words cut to the soul. But it is only in heart of sorrow, in the heart of Lamentations, that these words in 3:1-26 are real. A happy soul knows no better. But this I call to mind,

A window of hope

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I have recently prayed and bravely asked for something. I am rarely bold in asking for things from the Lord but I decided if it is something I really need, I can honestly ask him. He will give according to his will. So I asked and I waited in hope and anticipation. Amazingly, I saw glimpses of that hope yesterday. It is not a concrete answer to my prayer per se but it is certainly a window to what God can really achieve if he chooses to. My faith in him is strengthened, my hope in him is fortified. He may give or he may not give, it does not matter. What I am certain is that he has me in his hands and his purpose will be fulfilled, regardless. God is good. Maeghan Picture by Dark Water

A hope that is a certainty

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Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. During the Romans class, one of us was trying to figure out the connection between the 2 sections in Rom 5:5. It is only today that I realised the magnificence of it, “hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured our into our hearts”. Much of the hope we experience in our life isn’t much hope, in that it may disappoint us. I hope it won’t rain today and it would be soon raining cats and dogs, I hope to close this sale and next we receive news that our competitor is in celebrations. Hope, it’s nothing but hope. However, the hope we have in Christ is altogether different. I do wonder if there are different Greek or Hebrew words that carry the distinction of hope that is just hopeful or hope that is a certainty. Or would it be that the English word hope is not sufficient to carry the full meaning of this hope in Christ?

Reconciliation consequence of Justification?

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We had our class on Romans 5 today (and with that it only leaves me 2 weeks to complete my paper on Romans 6!). I was utterly confused for most of the time mainly because I did not do enough homework on the chapter and mostly because I am not Greek-y enough to understand much that was discussed. I have a feeling my session next round will be the most un-Greek-able session so far. What I got from class was the discussion on Rom 5:3-4. The debate of Rom 5:1 though got us nowhere. Romans 5:3-4 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Paul posited that the reason why we rejoice in our suffering (v.3) is because of the love of God (v.5) and this love of God is what Christ has d0ne for us on the cross (v.6-10). In the midst of all this

Lies at the altar?

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My computer was attacked by viruses last night. My sweet husband spent the entire night trying to rectify it for me. He managed to get rid of most of it except for this particular one which is so elusive that it kept over-riding the anti-virus software. As a result, I spent night in front of the TV while he was working on it and almost the whole day today computer-less, while the IT Department in my office tackle the elusive one. What I happen to catch on TV while the viral war was at hand, was Oprah. I am not an Oprah fan but I do not mind checking out once in awhile what’s currently in on the American’s platter of life/thought Oprah-style. The issue on last night’s show was marriage. It featured Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife who felt that being a wife eroded her lifestyle and own identity. It featured a writer-psychiatrist who wrote a book entitled Lies at the Altar . It featured 2 women who are about to get married doubting if they should be getting married. I suppose I watched the sh

I'm home!

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I am so glad to be home. I really missed home. This morning, I am also so glad I am again in the midst of family in church. Fellowshipping with friends who are like-minded in Christ was what I missed too. Having spent more than 4 days with at least 17 solid hours each, together with those who are not makes it more so. I am sure it is not by chance that I was reading and meditating on Psalm 84 while I was there. Better is one day in your courts .... than a thousand elsewhere; ~ Psalm 84:10a I'm both home and home. Maeghan

The longest day with the shortest psalm

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It's midnight now and I have been up since 7am … working (at least the teams are, and I had to wait for the completion of the deliverables). Having no time to reflect on much other than case studies, discussions and more discussions, I thought it would be neat to reflect on the shortest of the psalms. Psalm 117 (NIV) 1 Praise the LORD, all you nations; ..... extol him, all you peoples. 2 For great is his love toward us, ..... and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. ..... Praise the LORD. Some thoughts: In God's worship it is not always necessary to be long; few words sometimes say what is sufficient, as this short Psalm giveth us to understand. - David Dickson . This Psalm, the shortest portion of the Book of God, is quoted, and given much value to, in Rom. 15. And upon this it has been profitably observed, “It is a small portion of Scripture, and as such we might easily overlook it. But not so the Holy Ghost. He gleans up this precious little testimony which sp

Salvation a reciprocation?

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During our training session yesterday, I was to deliver a 2-hour lecture on Influencing in Action . It was quite a tough one for me to prepare. My life, by God’s grace, has been evolving mainly around my faith and belief, my God and my Saviour that to talk about influence in a secular way was a challenge. Thankfully, I did manage it quite well, though I felt it wasn’t that great. What got me into thinking though was this particular moment when I was talking about the 6 principles and the 8 styles of influence. The other trainer-facilitator (who is also one of my bosses), who keep butting in much to my chagrin, gave an example in each of the instances. He mentioned briefly about God and reciprocation: “if you do this, you will go to heaven and if you don’t, you’ll go to hell.” What struck me was this: I am not a Calvinist and I don’t know enough Arminianism to really label myself an Arminian. And I do believe in predestination though maybe not in the Calvinist way. But when he said

Personalising Psalm 84

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I like Charles Spurgeon’s words on this psalm. He said “this sacred ode is one of the choicest of the collection; it has a mild radiance about it, entitling it to be called The Pearl of Psalms. If the 23rd be the most popular, the 103rd the most joyful, the 119th the most deeply experimental, the 51st the most plaintive, this is one of the most sweet of the Psalms of Peace.” I find myself in the lovely and peaceful highlands, a land of simple: the perfect place for retreat and refreshing in the Lord. But I miss the fellowship of the Lord my God (not to mention home as well), having to spend countless hours on work, which is why this psalm speaks so much to me right now. Here I attempt to personalise the psalm as an act of worship and adoration to God, my Lord and my all. O God, hear the words of my heart, which yearns for you now. How lovely your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! How lovely the work of your hands, the mountains where you dwell, O Lord my God. My soul longs, yes, fa

A Hard and Grueling Day

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The day has been grueling today, I have been up on my feet since 8.30am till now, 7.30pm. I suppose I will knock off the moment I hit the bed tonight (though I know I will still spend some time with myself, particularly in prayer and meditating on His word, something that very rare in these few days of work until I am back home on Saturday evening). Psalm 84 appealed to me when I ran through the psalms trying to find something that will give me some comfort in my lack of devotion and personal time. I will not have anymore time to post much today, nor comment too for that matter. And since I will be meditating on this psalm before I sleep tonight, I’d most probably post a brief one on the same psalm. Psalm 84 To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the

The Holiness and Love of God

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I will be preaching in July, officially for the first time and I have been reading up on the holiness of God. The only book I have that touches on the topic is DA Carson’s The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, one of my all-time favourite book. But also one I have yet to understand completely, though this would be my third read. Why would the doctrine of the love of God be judged difficult? Carson has several reasons: 1.When informed Christian talk about the love of God, they mean something very different from what is meant in the surrounding culture and neither side may perceive that that is the case. 2. The love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. It is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God. 3. The impact of contemporary sentimentalized versions of love causes the widespread inability to think through the fundamental questions that alone ena

Off to Cameron Highlands

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It has been an exceptionally busy day at work today with no time to come up with anything to post - I was up working till midnight. I will be off to another highlands tomorrow but this time for work - assisting in facilitating a training session, which will last till Saturday. And that will be five whole days ... I am going to certainly miss my son to bits and so if you do remember me in prayer, do pray that I will not have time to miss home, which I think will be hard. I was preparing the training session on the topic of influence. One of the discussion session involves an example of a person of great influence. I do have a hard time figuring out who to talk about because to me there is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ! But I will have to settle for a mere mortal. Grace and peace to you in my "silence". I will still be "posting" offline and I hope to be able to update my blog upon my return. I hope I can take some pictures too as I have just upgraded my phon

Our hope is in Christ

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I taught the Sunday School kids this morning telling them the Paul's conversion story. In the midst of the storytelling, I myself became so amazed at how a Christian-hater who went all out to persecute Christians would make such a pronounced turn in his belief. The Damascus experience must be so real to Paul because one just don't change like that. It must be so real that Paul was so convicted that he became willing to even risk his life to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. Acts 9:1-9 (NIV) 1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?&qu

A brief look at Romans 5

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We will be having our class on Romans 5 soon. To take an initial brief look into it, Barnes gives quite a succinct introduction to the chapter: Romans 5 has been considered one of the most difficult portions of the New Testaments, especially Rom 5:12-21. This chapter deals with the results or the benefits of the doctrine of justification by faith, which he has fully established in the previous chapters: 1. People are under the condemnation of sin 2. This extended alike to Jews and Gentiles 3. There is no way of escape but by the doctrine of pardon, not by personal merit , but by grace 4. This plan was made fully known by the gospel of Christ 5. This is no new doctrine, but was substantially the same how Abraham and David had been accepted by God After having stated and vindicated the doctrine, he follows it up with the demonstration, its bearing and practical influence. In v.1-5, he shows the fruits of justification. He then follows with the fountain and foundation of justification

Imitation

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Reading this: "the way we learn to think is by reading good thinkers and letting their thoughts form our thoughts" in Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers brought me some comfort. Only because I have been reading quite a bit and when I try to put my thoughts down, I'd end up quoting them instead. I do hope that in time to come, what I have learnt from these great men and women of God will be so concretized in my thoughts, word and deeds that articulating it myself would be second nature, God willing. Originality is nothing by judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another. ~Voltaire Maeghan Picture by Tom Swillen

The Modern Mind and Intepretation

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I am reading Christopher A. Hall's Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers. Chapter 2, The Modern Mind and Intepretation is most interesting. It was commented that "modern theologians have been tempted by their own hubris to think they can achieve more than is reasonably or humbly possible". We are to beware of spiritually ill theologians who produces sick theology. I have heard several times some comments about how one theologian or teacher was being influenced by some trends of teaching. One example of which was with regards to this group of people who thought and taught that the Old Testament is and should be read in isolation of the New Testament. They are not refuting the NT, only that messages from the OT can stand on its own. I have a lecturer of whom I felt fall into this category. When I first encountered him, I was not aware of it but soon, I realised and began to question some points in his lectures and teachings. But my concern is more this: who's to

Remembering Jonathan in prayer

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I have spent most of my available posting time updating posts of the past 3 days that I have no energy to post anymore. But what I want to do is to take the opportunity to dedicate this session to a friend's nephew, Jonathan. We have been praying for him for several months now, after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. We have received messages from our friend during our camp a couple of days ago that Jonathan has been going in and out of consciousness. He is in a very critical stage. The last I heard, he will be transfered back home as there is nothing else that can be done medically. My friend had asked me which other psalm could she read to him, other than Psalm 23. I suggested Psalm 91. With this, I dedicated this psalm again to him. I pray that God will have mercy on him, God will be with him and save him. Psalm 91 (NIV) 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High ....... will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my

Family Camp 2006 Day 3

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The speaker spent the final talk on the camp's theme: Blessed Family, the church as a community . Scripture Lesson: Acts 2:41-47 (NIV) 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. A Lesson of Reminder from Martin Luther (1483-1546) The night before Luther had to face the court to defend his s

Family Camp 2006 Day 2

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We just had our church family camp and I have not been posting for several days. These posts are pre-dated with some interesting stuff I have learnt at camp. Theme: Blessed Family Sub Theme: Experiencing the Faith and Expanding God’s Kingdom Some highlights: The Passover Meal and the Last Supper When the Israelites have their annual Passover Meal to commemorate the saving act of God, they would toast each other with red wine with a total number of 4 toasts. The last toast is “that we will meet next year in Jerusalem” upon the hope that the Messiah would have came and all Jews would return to Jerusalem for the realisation of the Kingdom of God. In contrast, during the Last Supper, Jesus said something similar but with a significant difference: Matthew 26:29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." Lesson : In Christ we have the hope, we have life, in which we look forward to

Family Camp 2006 Day 1

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I will not be able to post in my blogs while I am away at Silverpark Resort in Fraser's Hill for our church family camp, starting from today until Tuesday. I will update it when I return. To stay true to my blog's name, I suppose. There were about a hundred of us driving up to the hills after church service. Most of us reached our destination in at about 3pm but the rooms were not ready yet. The journey up was quite difficult for some and therefore the night's talk was postponed to the next morning. I led the ice-breaking session and it was pure fun! Here's what we did: 1. Dai Fung Chui (literally big wind blow ) 2. The Sweet Forbiddance 3. The Animal Groupie 4. Line up! If you want to know how they work, check it out here . Maeghan updated on 7th June 2006

Psalm 118

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Taking a brief look at this psalm, it is one amazing psalm. More than the fact that many of our modern choruses uses words from Ps 118: 1. It is quoted by Jesus applying it to himself Ps 118:22-23 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this,and it is marvelous in our eyes. Matt 21:42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? 2. The same verse is quoted by Paul as well. Acts 4:11 He is "the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone". 3. Used by the people when Jesus was entering Jerusalem. Ps 118: 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.From the house of the LORD we bless you. Matt 21:9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

This is the day that the Lord has made ...

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For reasons unbeknownst to me, I was feeling moody the whole of this week. I know I had no reasons to, and I just can't seem to will myself to rejoice like I could before. But for whatever it's worth, I had a really good day today, and I thank the Lord. I enjoyed my work at the office somehow and decided to take my lunch break with my parents and the kids, my son and my niece. It was a delight to see the sparkle in the kids' eyes, without a care in the world. The simplest of things delight them, and that is just the beauty of it. I managed to get off work on time, without having to stay back and went shopping! So with my mom and the kids, it was a luxury that is long due for me. What a wonderful day and I thank the Lord for his blessings of a great family. To close the day I meditate again on Psalm 118, a beautiful psalm, a real antidote for stress. Psalm 118 (New International Version) 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel

Hiatus

I have decided to take several days of Romans. My son is having his school holidays now and I am taking the opportunity to spend more time with him, hence no Romans for the time being. Moreover, we will be going for our church family camp this coming Sunday to Tuesday. And we will be at Silverpark, Fraser's Hill. I am really looking forward to it - but with hope that I will not be "working" other than the opening ice-breaking session I have promised to take up. I really look forward to being Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus and just listen and enjoy the fellowship of the Lord. I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! .... I would fly away and be at rest- I would flee far away .... and stay in the desert; Selah I would hurry to my place of shelter, .... far from the tempest and storm." Psalm 55:6-8 Maeghan