2008-02-28

Better than the Lord's Prayer

What could be better than the Lord's Prayer of Mat 6:9-13?
The Lord's Prayer has been widely recommended as the Model Prayer. A model prayer is a template when the content can be changed to meet the needs of the time. However, for quite a few, they just memorized it and recite it at times without much thought to the content.

Jesus' prayer in John 17, recorded for our knowledge and learning, is Jesus applying his own teaching to himself. It is an illustration of the Model Prayer with updated content. As a diversion, let me point out a critical and common error as we read the OT and pray like the OT. We must know that many prayers, especially in the Psalms, are already fulfilled in the NT and we should not pray like the OT people as if God has not answered in the NT. Christ came to fulfilled the OT and so for those prayers in OT that have been answered, give thanks instead. Back to Jesus prayer in John 17. He was going to the cross. He task on earth is coming to an end. He gave a review and the needs for the future - for us!

The similarity to the Lord's Prayer and additional points are shown in the mind-map below:


The key point is that Jesus has answered in John 17 the requests in the Lord's prayers. He has empowered and provided for us all things to live out the requests of the Lord's prayer. When we have 'eternal life' (= knowing and oneness with Jesus and Father God), we glorify His name (hallowed be thy Name) by fulfilling His calling on us here (On earth as it is in Heaven). We forgive and love one another as we have oneness in all and in the Father, and the Father's love for Jesus is also in us. Father kept us from evil and His Word sanctify us (deliver us from temptations). His Word is our daily bread. We should eat it daily.

Bible for Business Seminar#6 Appreciation of Situations

About 15 people gathered together for the Seminar#6 on Appreciation of Situations. We have a quick review of Vision and Values. We quoted
  • "A life that has no order and discipline is a life that focuses on survival, not vision."
    from Jeff Calloway's new book , "VisionalLife".
Using examples of J&J Tylenol and Perrier incidences, we stressed the importance of values in action - Choosing Life over Profit or Integrity over Profit.

Besides covering the content of Appreciation of Situations, the following additional points were added:
  • Luke 14:28 - We must make sure we have enough cash to cover the cash-outflow in the initial stages of the new business until the business can be self-sustaining in cash. Many businesses fail prematurely due to lack of cash (funding). Conserving cash is a key principle in running new business.
  • Luke 14:31- tells us to consider whether we can overcome the competitors in the market we are entering.
  • On SWOT analysis,
    • We stressed on capturing the keys 2-3 factors and not too many.
    • Strengths and Weaknesses are to be viewed from the external Market Opportunities and Threats.
    • We advocate the "Strengths Based" approach and challenge ourselves to see how we could convert Threats to Opportunities. By re-phrasing problem, like high-turnover rates, into a positive one, like "making the company attractive to attract new and retain old", put our mindset into positive mood to work out the many possibilities.
    • We can use our strengths to overcome weaknesses. We cited examples of learning. Each of us learn differently, typical school-teaching method is Left-Brain based and so Right-Brain people has difficulty. If we change the teaching to suit the learning methods, reading to watching tv, to motion and exercises, etc according to the student learning profile, all can do well.
    • Another easy way to overcome our weakness is to outsource it to others with the needed strengths.
    • On the eternal O&T, we are to look at the macro-economic factors P.E.S.T (Political, Economic, Social, Technology), Environmental & Legal/Regulations. On the micro-level, we look at our firm, competitors, market, customers, suppliers.
    • As a reminder, SWOT should leads to a plan of actions, also called strategies, to use our strengths to exploit the opportunities and minimizing the risks of threats. Also a challenge to convert the threats to opportunities - applying the Invert Operator of BVITS.
  • In the area of looking at Customers, we combine the contributions of "Strategic Insight in Three Circles" HBR Nov 2007, "Seeing What's Next" and "Blue Ocean Strategies" to classify customers into
    • customers that bought from us - what are our differentiating factors?
    • our customers who also buy from our competitors, - what can we learn? why are they better?
    • customer needs not fulfilled by us -why not?
    • our products&services not bought - to be take away,
    • overshot-customers - exposing to disruptive low-end entrants,
    • undershot-customers - opportunities for sustaining innovations,
  • non-customers
    • those falling off the edges
    • those rejected us
    • those we have not address
  • non-consuming context
    • barriers to consumption.e.g. mobile phone opened up opportunities that line-phone could not. e-Learning allows new overseas customers to sign-up.
We did not have the time to cover the 2nd aspect of AOS (Appreciation of Situation) which is reading the trends and getting ready and Michael Porter's 5 competitive forces that determine the profitability of firms in a market. These we will cover in the next seminar on 12 Mar 2008.

The Seminar Feedback
10 Feedback forms were received from attendance of 14. Overall score is 82% with highest score to Speaker Knowledge 92%, Subject Area Coverage 86% and lower scores to Expectation Met 76%, Relevance to Job 72%.

Like Best
  • SWOT:working on strengths; converting weakness to strengths; consideration of internal and external factors d study on market share.
  • Check multiple sources and verify claims, not be be misled
  • Case Study, better understanding
  • Overall Good
  • SWOT
  • Dissection of the SWOT Analysis and how to go about doing it.
  • SWOT, something new to me
  • Focus on Strength
  • HBR-3 Circle, own, customer, competitor. This is a new angle of looking at the business. Had done SWOT before, a good refresher.
  • SWOT analysis, more detailed and easy to understand compared to other lecturers in schools :)
  • SWOT, because I can use it for my own business to see it in a different angle
Like Least

Others
  • More practical application will be interesting and better understanding. Can touch more on area where we can apply in our daily operations, especially for employees (not business owners)
  • May be can be given some exercise.
  • Suggest to use a well-know e.g. in the mkty textbook to apply the analysis(SWOT)
  • Make the seminar more interactive and participative. make this group like a case-group style. Know each other and may be one day can do business together.
  • More real life examples and relates to those who do not have their own business
  • Get the student to do a "SWOT" before the class & submit to the lecturer for case study. Have a website we can automatically input our "SWOT" results.

2008-02-14

Bible for Business Seminar#5 Vision & Values

#5 Painting the Vision & Choosing the Values
I. VISION
Vision is a picture of what we want to become. Vision gives life to mission. It describe what accomplishing the mission will look like at a future point of time. Vision is the dream, a destination. Values are what you stand for and give character to your corporation. Values determine the framework and boundaries for your strategies to realizing your vision. Mission, Vision and Values are related. A person or corporate is created with a mission with character of values trying to accomplish a vision. It is what you are (mission-identity), what you will become(vision) and how(values) to do go about achieving it.
Importance of Vision
You will not be greater than what your vision is. Prov 29:18, Pro 23:7.
Keys in Defining a Vision
Have faith in God. Prayed to discover what God want you to become. Do we fall into the following errors?
  • Looking at our present limitations or past failures to define your vision. If so, it would be very restrictive.
  • Be satisfied with your present and do not want to change. If so, you are growing old.
Recommended book : Joel Osteen's "Becoming a Better You"
Recommended Message: AR Bernard's"Audacity"
A Good Vision Statement.
1. Use the Terms and Things of your Audience.
We cited Mt 4:19, John 4:13, John 6:35, John 3:16, 7:38, 8:32, 11:25, Mat 11:28 as examples of Jesus describing the same vision in various ways to convey it correctly to the people.
2. Must offer "Things of Values" or "Benefits" to your customers, staff, and partners and owners.
3. Vision needs to be written down and communicated often. Hab 2:2
4. Vision must covers different aspects for the corporation - customers, processes, learning & growth (staff, skill, training, culture), social & environmental perspectives.
5. Chip Heath's 6 basic traits to make a message stick are:
1. Simple
2. Unexpected: audacious,challenging,
3. Concrete: measurable and have targets. You can tell whether you reach it.
4. Credible: challenging and yet believable. If it is incredulous, it will be ridiculed.
5. Emotion: motivating, giving pride,
6. Story: a good story or a good dream.
6. Must be communicated often and shared by all.
II VALUES
Values are what you believe as most importance, what you stand for, for which you will not compromise. They provides the decision making framework when there are no clear guidelines. They determine the Corporate character that is the sum total of the individuals working in the Corporate.
Bible tells us to see Corporation as
  1. Living Being (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4) - we are all members of the same body.
    1. Differences are respected, appreciated and treasured.
    2. Differences must be aligned and synchronized towards achieving the shared mission and vision.
  2. Family - relationship of love, care, protection, up-bringing.
Typical Values
Commitment – Passion, Perseverance, Overcoming, Creativity.
Empathy – Understanding Others, Culturally Savvy and extending help.
Respect & Trust
Integrity – Honesty & Competence
TRIP – Trust, Risk, Innovation, Progress
Learning, Innovation, Agility
Humility
Fun & Play
We cited two books "How" by Dov Seidman, and "The Future of Management" by Gary Hamel, that show how the business world are moving towards seeking significance on top on profits and share values, and adopting Biblical Principles in their business practices. Having employees satisfaction leads to profit too. 100 Best Companies to Work for in America between 1998 and 2005 returned 14% per year, compared to 6% a year for the overall market.
Seminar Response & Feedback
Yesterday was Chinese New Year 7th day -the People's Birthday. So we see many people having dinner at the restaurants around our church and causing quite a big jam. It took me extra half hour to reach church. There were 12 people who attended the seminar. The overall satisfaction rating was 86%. The highest score go to 'Knowledge of Speaker', 'Recommend to Friend'... with lowest score to time of talk, but still at 78%.
Like Best
  • The definition of vision/mission and factors to consider to derive a mission statement. The biblical references. It's a diff and unique perspective that is biblical & practical at the same time.
  • About setting of our vision beyond our limits. It's really encouraging to hear that.
  • Vision; It gives practical advice on how to set good vision statements. e.g characteristics of a good vision statement is very informative & helpful for those setting their vision statements
  • Applications
Like Least
  • Value topic. Not quite understand how to apply on my work.
Others
  • more of such sessions
  • overall presentation is grounded and very practical yet biblical.
  • Review the Previous Seminar
  • Coming to this seminar is like listening to 10 authors summarizing their books
Timing of Seminar - 2 times a month for the future.
Majority of those present supported the idea of having the seminar fortnightly instead of the present monthly.
The next seminar#6 "Appreciation of Situations" will be conducted on 27 Feb, Wed, 8pm at Church.

2008-02-13

Judging Rightly

In the last post Judge Not yet Correcting , we said Jesus did not tell us not to judge (Luke 6:37) but tell us not to judge blindly with prejudice, subjective, biased and hasty conclusions about others. We are told by Jesus in (John 7:24) to judge with right judgment.”

We said the proper way to judge is to really follow the process of the typical court. Paul in 2 Tim 3:16-17 tells us how to do it properly.

  • 2Ti 3:16-17 KJV All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
I. The Truth & Standard

Firstly, we must have the truth - the correct doctrine as standards for measure. In other translation, teaching is used in place for doctrine. We must have the materials - the Bible and then we must teach and train our people.

Secondly, in the application of our learning, our behavior, words or beliefs can be compared and validated against the Biblical teachings, and judged to be right or wrong. GNB uses "rebuking error" for reproof - pointing out the wrong beliefs or lies we may hold.

Thirdly, knowing one's error is not good enough, we need to know what is correct belief. Correction is more than saying what is wrong and must say what is right. Rebuking & Correcting is better known as Counseling. This order is very important - Training comes before Counseling. Counseling is needed when we put our training into practice and encountered diffculties when we need Coaches to help us. Most people don't attend training and expect just Counseling to solve their problems. It is not effective and waste more time.

So, judging correctly must begin with an understanding of the Biblical Truth & Standard and then observing and finding the behavior and comparing against the Standard, rebuking and correcting towards re-establishing the right thinking and right behavior. If judging is not a good word to use, substitute "Counseling" or "Coaching" in its place. We are not to blindly judge but to counsel one another wisely in gentleness and the Biblical Truth.

The forth part is "training in righteousness" or in GNB "instructions for right living". The Biblical Teaching or Truth in part 1 should result in practical applications and instructions for right living. Paul in his letter always start with doctrines and then cover the practical applications - how one should behave as a Christian, as parents, children, bosses, employees, elders, etc. Making an error helps us to understand the "instructions in right living" better.

II The Observations
A potential error in making judgment is the not observing correctly, insufficient or wrong facts, unvalidated hear-says, and so forth. At times, even the witness may make observation errors or there are false witnesses. The Biblical teaching is very clear, Mat 18:16, 2Co 13:1, 1Ti 5:19 evidences(not hearsay) of two or three witnesses. The accused should have the right to face up with the witnesses and questions them for clarification. 1Ti 6:12, 2Ti 2:2, many witnesses should be preferred. Because of the possibility of false witnesses, the character of the witness should be considered as well.

III The Internal Motivation
Finally, the true judgment should be made of the intention of the heart and not the outward behavior. But we can only infer the intention. Only God knows. Our judgment could be wrong. Hence the need for more judges.

With such difficulty, it is no wonder why Jesus admonish us not to judge blindly. Nevertheless, we have the responsibility of helping and counseling our brothers when the needs arise. We prayed that we can do them wisely and gently with insights from the Holy Spirit. As a reminder, Training must comes before Counseling.

2008-02-11

Judge Not yet Correcting

On the one hand, we have Luke 6:37 teaching us not to judge another so that we may not be judged. On the other hand, we have the responsibility in admonishing, rebuking, correcting our wayward brothers in Christ(2Tim 2:25 ESV, 2Tim 3:16 ). How can we correct another without first making a judgment? Is the Bible inconsistent?

The Bible is the written Word of God (2Tim3:16) and hence cannot be inconsistent. Whenever we come across such seemingly contradictary teachings in the Bible, we must first conclude that it is our outstanding and not the Bible that is at fault. We must also congratulate ourselves that we have hit upon a treasure of wisdom. If unravel the contradiction, we would have gain great understanding.

  • 2Ti 3:16-17 KJV All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Way Out 1 - Differentiate the Act and the Person
In Luk 6, we can see that the text refers to the people more. We can judge the actions as evil but not condemn the person at the same time. We are told to love the person and not his evil or sinful acts. We have the Bible as the standards of right and wrong and we can for many cases make a sound judgment provided we have all the relevant facts. However, the intentions of the heart are not easily observed. We could only make inferences. Even if the accused said what his intention was, his words need to be evaluated as to whether he was speaking the truth or not. This leads us the next interpretation of 'Judge'.

Way Out 2 - What is the Meaning of 'to Judge'
To make a judgment of right or wrong, we need to have the following steps as shown in the mind map below:

I think the 'judge' used by Jesus in Luk 6:37 does not mean the whole fair process of collecting the facts from all angles and then making the best conclusion, but a hasty, narrow, biased and prejudiced conclusion. This interpretation is supported by the following verses. In v39, it was recorded for our benefits that "He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person?"... showing he meant making a blind judgment. In v41 "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?", it shows we are making a biased and prejudiced view of our brother actions. Jesus also provided the answer on how to judge rightly in v42 "Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. ". We need to first remove our biases and prejudices first. i.e. follow the proper judicially process to arrive at a proper judgment. Since only God knows the intent of the heart, God is still the best judge of all. We must humbly acknowledge that we have a biased tendency and need to take steps to minimize that.

So, I think a better translation of Luke 6:37 is: "Do not jump to hasty & biased conclusions about others so that you not be similarly judged....."

2Tim 3:16-17 shows the better way of making judgment and correcting our brothers .... next post judging rightly and see also Making a Judgement and Being Judgemental

2008-02-09

God Initiates & Man Follows

There is much confusion about man's effort in relation to God. On one side, we hear that man should rest on God's finished work and hence man should do no work, otherwise it is of the flesh and that is against God. On the other side, we hear that man should be the light and the salt of the world and hence need to do good work. People who lack understanding will be struggling between Book of Roman's Grace and Book of James' Work.

Hopefully, the chart below, a 2x2 matrix, can shed some light:
We starts with Quadrant 1 when God and Man make no effort. In this case, Man will naturally go to hell.

In Q2, God still rest and Man tries his best to save himself. Man comes out with all kinds of religions, every educational efforts to save himself. Man tries to follow God's laws to get justification. All he ends up with is either self-righteousness ( I attain the standards of God by my own interpretation) or self-condemnation when I fail. All these man efforts without revelation of God's will and initiated by man alone are dean works. After all the hard efforts, man still go to hell.

In Q3, God does all the work of saving man (by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for us). Man just rest and really rest on God's finished work. He does not want to take any effort, everything is wait on God. There is the extreme case that since God has already saved me and then I can do all the things I like, including sinning.... we have this abuse of God's Grace.

In Q4, God initiates and man responds by following God's direction. In this way, the saved and new spiritual inner man is revealed in the outer man of good works that bring glory to God and satisfaction to man. God is glorified through the victorious living of man. Man is relying on God's grace to live up to God's standards. This is the desirable and ideal state. Man needs to do the work that God has called us and saved us for. Eph 2:10.

2008-02-01

Dedication Prayer - What's Wrong

The Dedication Prayer
This is a typical and considered very good dedication or repentance prayer easily found on internet:
Lord Jesus,
we have not always put you first.
Our lives have not always be in submission to you.
Our hearts have not always been focused on you.
Forgive us, Change us, turn us around, transform us!
In Jesus' Name, Amen
Can you find any thing wrong with it?
Do you think God can answer prayer like that?
The first part is confession of facts - not put Jesus 1st.
The 2nd part, the change, is usually where the misunderstanding occurs that resulted in most Christian living a defeated life.
The main error is that we are asking God to do the thing that He has already done!
It is like having the money in our hand and in our bank account and then still asking our parent for more money.
God cannot give you again what He has already given you. His answer to our such prayer will be "I've done it. It is with you. Use what I've given you. It is not with Me. It has already been given to you through Jesus Christ.
We have, in a subtle way, asked God to do the thing that we should be doing - believing and acting on the accomplished work of Christ.
We have passed our task back to God. We are told to speak to the Mountain about God and not speak to God about the Mountain.

Mar 11:23 KJV For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

#1 Forgive Us
This is the acknowledgement of our wrong doing. We must be able to face up with our wrong doing so that we can change. Repentance is about changing our mindset and behavior to follow Jesus. We must be clear about the timing - when did God know about our sinning? God know about our wronging doing before we discover about it. We need to rest on the fact that all sins, past, present and future have been paid for and forgiven by Jesus' death on the Cross two thousands year ago; at that time, all our sins are in the future and have been nailed to the cross. Our sins or wrong doings are not forgiven at the time of our confession but forgiven 2K years ago. 1 John 1:9 is given to assured us of His forgiveness and for us to use against the Devil's accusation, causing us to feel guilt and shame and to run away from God. (BTW, Devil's tricks are lies, temptation, accusation and driven from Fear. He tell a lie to tempt us to sin and then accuse us.) When we sin, we must come quickly to the throne of grace Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Do not be tricked by the devil that God is holding our sin against us. Get up from the floor and move ahead with the change because God has already forgiven us though Christ and get the Grace Power of Christ in us to move ahead.
#2 Change Us
When we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are changed already - our spiritual man is rebirth by the Holy Spirit. 2Co 5:17 KJV Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. So, this request have been answered. God change us from the inside and we are to work it out Php 2:12. Rom 12:1-2 tells us to offer our body as a living sacrifice, and be transformed by the renewing of our mind (with knowledge of God - starting with the Bible). We has control over our mind and body. We do the change that God has already started within us.
#3 Turn Us Around
God makes not robot. We have ownership of our will. We must will to follow God's will. It is our responsibility to exercise our will.
#4 Transform Us
As pointed above, God has already transformed us from Adam's nature to Christ's nature. All we need to do it to work it out - that our soul and body becomes the medium of God's character that is inside. We become the instruments of God in this present work - touching lives and glorify God with our work.
Conclusions - I can do all things through Christ
Don't ask God to do thing that He has already empowered us, through the Grace in Jesus Christ, to do. Don't blame God for not answering our prayers when we should be one doing the things He has asked us to do. Get up, know the Bible, know His will and just be obedient to His calling and His will and move forward courageously and victoriously. Don't get stuck in the mud of self-pity and blaming God. The 2nd part of the dedication prayer should be : I have realized my mistake and want to turn around. Thank you God for forgiving me. Thank you God that you have transformed me and had given me a New Life and Identity. I'm your children. I've Christ in me. I can walk this new way because Php 4:13 KJV I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.

A Positive Dedication Prayer
The following song used in a Children Church presentation is an example of a good dedication prayer.

  • Dear God,
    • Thank you for loving me. And giving me Your all.
      When I grow up, I will still be serving You.
      want to know you more. I want to love you more.
      I will never forget You Lord.
    • In Jesus' Name