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Showing posts from September, 2006

God is good all the time

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I will be worship leading tomorrow morning. While practising the songs with the musicians just several hours ago, I was moved by God's goodness through Don Moen's song. God is good all the time He puts His song of praise in this heart of mine God is good all the time Through the darkest night His light will shine God is good, God is good all the time! If you’re walking through the valley And there are shadows all around Do not fear, He will guide you He will keep you safe and sound He has promised to never leave you Nor forsake you and His Word is true We were sinners so unworthy Still for us He chose to die Filled us with His Holy Spirit Now we can stand and testify That His love is everlasting And His mercies - they will never end! Lately I have been thinking that however much I read His word and however much others encourage me with His word, I know God is with me, but I just don't feel it. I have to keep telling myself and reminding myself that He is and I must t

A Thousand Words #7

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Maeghan Picture by Suat Gursozlu

Acts Assignment 1

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I rested but also spent time trying to complete my Acts assignment due this Saturday. It has to do with the identification of all the main crisis in the book of Acts with a summary of the first episode, Acts 3:1 - 6:7. It is now running at 30 pages long. I have only the social setting of the episode to complete and I am done. Saturday, here I come. What I would like to highlight here is that the first episode of Acts is about the beginnings of the spread of the gospel in Jerusalem. According to Wenham, it happened only in the span of about a year, which to me is really amazing. I would imagine that things then happened at a much slower rate than now, where a lot of things happen in split seconds. So for the gospel to have spread so fast that “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7), shows to prove how fervent the apostles were in their belief of Je

All Dried Out

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It was a bad day today - all drives down to sheer incompetence. I am tired and I need a good rest. I went to the doctor just now and told him - I have a headache, a sorethroat and a sky-high level of stress. He laughed. He gave me a day off tomorrow - my long overdue day of rest, though I think I need more than one day to recuperate. Noel has gone for the yearly bible conference, where I attended DA Carson's seminar and training on Psalms a few years ago. Wish I were there. This year, Chris Wright is here to talk about Deuteronomy. I was reminded of the "remember's" in Deuteronomy. (Deu 5:15) You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deu 7:18) you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, (Deu 8:2) And you shall remembe

A respond to my question "But why?"

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On Sept 14th I have posted " But why? ", asking the fundamental and most basic of questions: why did God create us knowing we will turn away? Martin Luther in Table Talk has a very good answer: Someone asked, "Since God knew that man would not continue in the state of innocence, why did He create him at all?" Dr Luther laughed and replied, "The Lord, all-powerful and magnificent, saw that He should need in His house sewers and cesspools. Be assured that He knows quite well what He is about. Let us keep clear of these abstract questions, and consider the will of God such as it has been revealed unto us. Maeghan Picture by Suzula

Our God, our Father

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My good friend Noel brought his 2 Christian Pakistani friends to our church yesterday. They have been here for 3½ years, all this while waiting for a letter from UNHCR to formally confirm them as refugees, so that they can proceed with their migration to Canada. They have been waiting for 3½ years, with no income (they are not allowed to work) and living only on the little support from their church. The happiest news is that the letter finally arrived today! They are too beholden with joy. Thank you Lord, for your goodness, for your grace, for your love. What are we without you? But we sometimes do wonder: why? Why does it takes so long for you to answer our prayers? What I know is that you are our Father and a good father provides in the right time and in the right measure. And in waiting for you, we strengthen our faith and grow in our relationship with you. That’s why. Maeghan Picture by Mike Scott

Tired in the Spirit to Fired in the Spirit

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I walked into church today and a good sister approached me seeing that I looked tired. She began to give me a shoulder massage. In jest, I smiled and told her that I was not as physically tired than I was "spiritually tired". During the sermon, the speaker used a passage in Ephesians that brought me comfort for the day; His mercies are new every morning indeed. I was using the ESV which had a very encouraging title to Eph 3:14-20 - Prayer for Spiritual Strength , exactly what I need. Ephesian 3:14-20 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the lo

Romans 12

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God reminded me of his grace through Romans 12 a few days ago and I mentioned it to Julia. She uses The Message and suggested that I read Romans 12 in that translation. So here goes: Romans 12:1-2, 11-12 (The Message) 1 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2 Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 11 Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, 12 cheerfully expecta

Luther's Table Talk

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I purchased a good book not long ago: Martin Luther's Table Talk , "the culmination of all that is Martin Luther, revealed in conversations with his colleagues and students". There are various topics including the church, angels, devil and his work, Christian life and even of lawyers! I turned to his thoughts on Temptation and Tribulation. Reading them brought tears to my eyes. Here are some excerpts: All heaviness of mind and melancholy come from the devil: especially these thoughts that God is not gracious unto him: that God will have no mercy upon him, etc. Whosoever you are, possessed with such heavy thoughts, know for certain, that they are a work of the devil. God sent His Son into the world, not to affright, but to comfort. Therefore be of good courage, and think, that henceforward you are not the child of a human creature, but of God, through faith in Christ, in whose name you are baptised; therefore the spear of death cannot enter into you; he has no right

A Thousand Words #6

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Maeghan Picture by Aron Kremer

Lessons Learnt

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I have had a troubled heart for awhile now, for reasons I myself aren’t too sure about. Maybe I do but I just can’t pin them down exactly. But it has certainly been a learning experience for me, and I am still learning. Lessons I have learnt anew, those that are refreshed and reinforced in me: • God is good, though He seem faraway sometimes, He is not • Regardless of what I feel and experience, God is love, full of grace, .. hope and peace • Even though the sufferings I experienced are so real, .. God is even more real • He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world • Life here is just temporary, I look forward to my eternal home .. with God • Life is not me, me and me; through what I have experienced, .. I need to pray for others more fervently • I am fallible, weak and frail; I am humbled in His perfection • I am His Psalm 23 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

Psalm 63

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1 O God, you are my God, ..... earnestly I seek you; ..... my soul thirsts for you, ..... my body longs for you, ..... in a dry and weary land ..... where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary ..... and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, ..... my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, ..... and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; ..... with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; ..... I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, ..... I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; ..... your right hand upholds me. 9 They who seek my life will be destroyed; ..... they will go down to the depths of the earth. 10 They will be given over to the sword ..... and become food for jackals. 11 But the king will rejoice in God; ..... all who swear by God's name will praise h

The Book of Acts Day 6

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As part of interpreting Acts, the lecturer gave us a short session on biblical interpretation i.e. exegesis and hermeneutics, which was informative and enlightening for me. I have been doing some exegesis and never really did understand what hermeneutics is until now. It is better to have someone explain things to us. The books and materials that I have been referring to would usually regard hermeneutics as the whole process of exegesis, which made me think of it as similar to exegesis anyway. Here is the definition he gave us: Biblical interpretation is the study of theoretical principle involved in bringing out the original intended meaning (exegesis) and the contemporary application (hermeneutics) of the bible and its message. There is a problem in interpreting Acts. It is because it presents something unique to the bible as the only one of its kind in the NT. It is quite similar to the narratives in OT but we do treat it with a certain degree of difference - we do not take most

The Book of Acts Day 5

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Our lecture today covered 2 sections: 1. Mission Practice and Theology (Acts 18-20) There are 3 phases of ministry: (a) Developmental - Itinerant ministry in starting of churches and moving on, (b) Pinnacle - Extended ministry where Paul stays for extended periods of time and (c) Constrained - Prisoner-witness ministry Paul was given a two-fold almost conflicting ministry goal - as an apostle to the Jews and to the Gentiles. Initially his strategy was to preach to the Jews first, who will usually rejected his message. He will then shake his garments and move on to the Gentiles. Theology and practice must go together. Theology must shape our practice, not the other way round though more often than not, we can see that at times we allow practice to shape our theology. Theology must affect life. 2. Peter and Herod (Acts 12:1-24) We turned back to look at Peter with an amazing account of crisis (James killed, Peter arrested), humour (silly Rhoda not opening the door) and gore (Her

The Book of Acts Day 4

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We continued with our Acts classes today. We focused on these 3 sections: 1. Philip and Ethiopian Eunuch 8:25-40 2. Paul's Conversion 9:1-19 3. Paul on Tour 16:1-18 I was pretty fatigued throughout the entire session having so little sleep over the past week, I only managed to drink in the lecture without much contemplation or mullings. But I did pick up these 2 statements from the lecturer, which I found meaningful, and one more, my conclusion of what he said at one point. In relation to Paul's conversion: Our upbringing prepares us for our ministry, so look at our lives as an opportunity. In relation to Paul's actions: God not only questions what we do but why we do what we do. John Stott highlights 5 areas where Paul's worldview was transformed: he had his mind changed about Jesus, about the law, about salvation, about the church and about the Gentiles: Our most fundamental question is, "Why am I a Christian?" Our answer would affect how we live our

Zzzzzz

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I do not have the time, the energy nor the content to post anything other than this note today. I will be attending the second part of the Book of Acts classes tomorrow and I have not completed the assignment due - what with the days spent in Bangkok and at work working till the mid of night, I couldn't finish it in time. I hope I will finish it but at 1.45am, I am already half-asleep. God help me. Acts 18:9-11 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people." And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Maeghan Picture by René Garmider

But why?

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It has been a very stressful month, so much so that I wake up every morning with this squeezing feeling in my heart dreading the day ahead. God has been with me all along though sometimes it is hard to "feel" him around, but I know He is because He is Emmanuel. During my morning devotion today, I went to John 14 for words of comfort and reread it for the umpteenth time. John 14:1-3 (ESV) "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. Jesus said these words to his disciples after the Last Supper and just before he was betrayed and taken in to be crucified. In that context, these are comforting words to the disciples who will remember them later, " where I am you may be also ". In our context how

I will not be afraid

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One of my friends introduced me to this song but I could not find any information on it from the internet. The words truly touches me today. (If you know this song, please let me know so I can give it due credit.) I will not be afraid I will not be afraid, O Lord For Your love washes away my fears For Your love washes away my fears Your love overwhelms me Completely surrounds me And You go before me You make a way And You are my strength My courage, my fortress And I will not be afraid Your love melts my fear away Maeghan Picture by Cavell Blood

Waiting Room

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Silence in the air So disquieting       But I will wait on Him Clatter and clatter in the mind It’s overwhelming       But I will wait on Him Distress squeezing me in the heart It’s agony       But I will wait on Him For they that wait       Gets renewed They who pause       Will be strengthened       Wings will be mounted They will fly       Not tiredly, not wearily Not only will they walk       They will run Come soon       I will walk       And then I will run Copyright © 2006 Pearlie Ng Picture by Luc Sesselle

A Thousand Words #5

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Maeghan Picture by hortongrou

Being faithful to the Word of God

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Our church leader came to my friend and I several weeks ago with the proposition to share with the congregation 10 minutes on the importance of reading the bible. I agreed because we live in a time too full of things that crowd out God's words in our lives. The three of us will take one Sunday each, and I was the first to do it today. Matt 13:18-23 "Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves u

Bangkok Day 4: Talk, Rush and Wait

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The conference continued with its final leg today with separate departmental sessions, after which it was a complete rush to the airport. We need to check in 2 hours before, and with the infamous Bangkok traffic gridlock, we have very little time. We were rushed into a van and given packed lunch to eat on the way. Driving in Bangkok would be pretty scary - there were several near misses that had my face cringing in anticipation of the dreaded sound of an accident. Air Asia has its delays. I was told that a friend had his flight delayed for 6 hours! I think maybe there is a 50-50 chance of a delayed flight with Air Asia, with my experience of one out of two. Our flight was supposed to be 3:15pm at Gate 43. After waiting more than 1 hour, we were told that the departure gate for the flight has been changed to Gate 12, which is right at the other end of the airport. We rushed in a frenzy to the other end of the building thinking we need to get there in time for check-in only to realise

Bangkok Day 3: Talk, Talk and Talk

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The conference proper started today, when all participants have arrived in Bangkok. I think there were at least 15, if not 20 flights flying all of us to Bangkok just from the Malaysian office. There'd be another barrage of flights coming in from Singapore. When the conference was over for the day, a few of us went on our own for dinner and this time we decided to go Thai, to a delightfully-named restaurant called Rosabieng. Food's good too, though, as I have already mentioned before, Thai food just isn't my cup-a-tea. After dinner, and being the final night in Bangkok, we went again for foot and Thai massage. Again, wonderful! By now, you would already have realised that I did not manage to take any pictures while on this trip. The thing was that I did not even have time to take my camera out of my backpack. And if I do, every picture would have been a blur because everything just whizzed past! Maeghan Picture from www.southtravels.com Posted on 10 Sept 2006

Bangkok Day 2: Shop, Shop and Shop

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We have a whole day at our leisure today before we need to be back at the hotel for a dinner organised as part of the conference. So we started off after a good breakfast and walked several blocks to some shoppable complexes. I got some bits and pieces of souveniers plus some nice T-shirts. We walked so much I had blisters on my feet and by the time we had dinner, I was exhausted and retired early into bed. I brought Andrew Murray's Humility to read but the day's flurry of activities were still so fresh in mind I could not concentrate and finally gave it up. Maeghan Picture from http://cheapeatsbangkok.com Posted on 10 Sept 2006

Bangkok Day 1: Walk, Walk and Walk

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I flew Air Asia to Bangkok for an annual business conference today - my first Air Asia flight, very basic, very budget, so far so good. What I missed out during my first trip to Bangkok, I manage to make it up this time round, we walked and walked and walked. Our first stop was to the malls, which did not quite interest me, since I can't well afford Prada's and Gucci's. Therefore, I made a pact with my friends - that in the next day to come, we go to places more affordable. The highlight of the day was our trip to Chinatown for dinner. The food was downright Chinese. And good - we had sharkfin soup, steamed crabs, jellyfish which was simply delicious, fat barbequed prawns, cockles (I did not touch this one), fried rice, fried noodles which was out of this world and bird's nest soup complete with a huge gargantuan side dish of cholesterol. After dinner, we went to the night street market in Saladang but it started to rain heavily. We took shelter in a building and

Bangkok again

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As adage would have it, time really travels and travel it does, with gusto. It only dawned upon me this morning that I am going again to Bangkok tomorrow! With so much to do, I am so not ready for it. On the ministry front, I am given a 10-minute slot this Sunday during worship service to encourage church members to read the bible. I also need to work on 4 training sessions of 2-hr each for a worship team of another church. I am pretty excited about both. I will therefore be quiet for awhile until I come back on Saturday. Updates on posts should follow thereafter, God willing. Maeghan Picture by Maria Kaloudi

The Book of Acts Day 3

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We discussed on the topic of “Speeches in Acts” today and I’d say that it bordered on being quite technical. It is important when we need to respond to critics who suggest that the speeches in the book of Acts e.g. the long one by Stephen in Acts 7, are creation of Luke and is not an actual event that took place. Using comparison with ancient historians, the lecturer tried to prove otherwise. Basically, a lot of ancient historians take the Literary Appropriateness or Artistic Excellence is their methodology in writing history - the historicity of the content do not matter as much as style of writing. Critics in the 19th century had made a sweeping statement saying that since the ancient historians used that methodology and do create speeches, then those found in Acts are creations of Luke as well. What the critics have missed out however, that there is a continuum between Literary Appropriateness and Historical Appropriateness. There are ancient historians that fall on either ends

The Book of Acts Day 2

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I had wanted to just post what I had felt over the 2 days of lecture, something that meant a lot me but upon reading Codepoke's comment, I must do both because the discussion over Ananias & Saphirra and communal sharing of property is certainly too good to keep quiet about. After class, the lecturer only had one word, "Fun!" Firstly, what I felt. It has to do with the lecturer. He is a very, very learned person, whose wife is from Greece. Ironically, she teaches English and he teaches Greek. I am not sure what he teaches other than Acts and Greek but I heard him mention Mark, Luke and Revelations as well. He also has a penchant for history and the inter-testmental period literature. And when he lectured over the past 2 days, he does it with a fervour and we can seriously hear it in his voice. He speaks in a normal tone but sometime I thought I hear his voice break, as if one is going to break down and cry. I attributed it at first to his voice, which maybe breaks a

Chiasm - a Literary Device

The Book of Acts Day 1

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A few friends and I signed for a 3-credit hour course on The Books of Acts, which will bring us through 2 weekends of lectures - a whole day today, half day tomorrow, Monday and again the same schedule 2 weeks from now. The lecture today was fully packed. It would be actually quite impossible to cover so much in just 2 weekends, but I suppose it is better than nothing. I am not very familiar with Acts to start with. The brief introduction with a broad look into the first 2 chapters today was quite good for me. It is too much to replicate here and therefore I'll just post these 3 discussion questions, which the lecturer got us into some interesting discoveries in smaller groups, but with more questions raised. 1. Was Paul really an apostle and can there be apostles today? The criteria for being an apostle are four: a. they are chosen, not by human decision but divinely by Jesus (all the 12, Paul and Matthias through casting of lots) b. they are eye-witnesses to the resurrectio

The Suffering God

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I was once asked by a non-believer, "Why would Jesus' death matter? He knows the end of the story anyway." That was what I was trying to work out 2 days ago while meditating on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I had wondered again how could he be in such distress since he already knows what is going to happen? Even though He knows He will be flogged and beaten, mocked and nailed on the cross (which could be worse that what was depicted in The Passion), He also knows that He will be risen and will return to the Father. So, why was He so distressed that "his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luk 22:44)? He could be distressed for Himself but I believe it is more than that. I had to remind myself again that he could be experiencing ALL the sins and distress of all mankind as he bore them for us. He is an offering of sin, a substitutionary atonement. So all the distresses that I experienced and will experience, all add up toge