2009-12-31

Joy in the Meantime- How to Really Wait

When we pray to God to ask for something and the thing seems to take sometime to come, what is our common reaction? Here are some possibilities:
  1. we get angry at God
  2. we complained to God
  3. we grudgingly wait and wait; not doing anything useful
  4. we pray again to God thinking either God did not hear or we did not pray correctly at first.
  5. we pray again thinking we should have more faith
  6. we pray again thinking by our earnest desire, God will have to answer our request. We learned from Jesus' parable of the "Dishonest Judge" and "Demanding Neighbor" that persistent bring forth result (Actually, such concept is a misunderstanding of the Parable. Jesus reminded that His Father is much more loving than the Judge")
  7. we have a debate with God, trying to convince God that if He answer according to our requests it will bring Him glory.
  8. ....
If we truly believe that God will answer our request, the above practices just show everyone that we really don't have the faith and the trust that God will answer. What should be the right attitudes in this time of waiting? What should one do in this time? Essentially, what does one do in waiting?

Interestingly, the answer was found when I was studying the Chinese Classics I-Ching and I make a posting Learning from I-Ching Part 10 5需 Needs – Wait for the Right Time. It teaches us to wait with work of preparation and with joy. With the heart of expectancy and gladness, we get ourselves ready, as the bride prepares herself for the wedding day. This is exactly what the Bible teaches and it is the true meaning of patience. Some how, we have the strange concept that waiting is hard, painful and frustrating that we need to quickly get it over.

If our faith is true, we should value this time of preparation while we await answers to our prayers and the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We work with gladness and joy, and look forward to the great day. No complains please. There is no need to concentrate our efforts on praying and arm-twisting God to answer. Rest from our complaints and work happily and diligently for the great day.

When my wife reads the I-Ching post on waiting,  she said that the waiting time was not quiet at all. There were complains, robberies and attacks from the enemy resulting in a real bloody mess. Waiting is not peaceful and quiet as we thought. It is a very busy, noisy and messy time. So, don't be discouraged when you find your waiting time rather challenging. The closer you get to the opportune time, the more challenges you will face. Be encouraged by the presence of greater resistances, it shows that you are very near! Cheer up and continue to move forward. Your break-through is at the door.

Please also read  Joy of Waiting - improving the process in the meantime.

2009-12-30

Making a Judgement and Being Judgemental

We are not very sharp in our thinking and use of words. This problem is especially pronounced in the Christian community because we try to spiritualize things too much. So when we try to point out someone error for his awareness and correction we are told that Bible tell us not judge. My previous posts Judge Not yet Correcting, Judging Rightly hopefully shed some light on this. 

A better way of explaining the issue could be summarized as "we are to make correct judgement and not to be judgemental".  We are to make a judgement on the issues and actions and not on the person. We must finally conclude whether the action is biblically right or wrong. But we cannot condemn the person evil and unchangeable. Forever evil or evil forever is reserved for the devil.

This is best illustrated with the story of the woman caught in adultery (used in last posting on acceptance). Jesus made the judgement that it is sin (Go and sin no more) but withheld his condemnation on her, giving her a future and trusting her to change for the better. 1Co 13:7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

We have no record whether the woman in fact did change for the better and sin no more. We believe at least the inner-man was changed and that started the ball rolling for the new life. However, some people may need additional help in the process of breaking free from bad habits as taught in the AA 12-steps. Love requires us to help, endure the process, as Paul did in "Gal 4:19  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you".

Hence, we are to make a right judgement but be not judgemental. We may be required, in some cases, to be involve in the correction process as labor of love. If we have love, perhaps we will be less judgemental after making a correct judgement.

2009-12-26

What is the meaning of Yielding to the Spirit?

There are a few concepts that are related, such as follows:
  1. yield to the Spirit, led by the Spirit, Gal 5:18, live by the Spirit, Gal 5:25
  2. be filled with the Spirit, Eph 5:18
  3. abide in Christ, John 8:31
  4. put on the new self, Col 3:10
  5. Christ in us Col 1:27
The Christ in us enables us to be led by the Spirit within us and as we yield to the Spirit, putting on the New Self, this abiding and following His leading will bring forth fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-23.

The key in this abiding or yielding or following is that it is a process of discipline over a period of time and not once off. Abiding is built up over time; a seeking and the decision to follow, one at a time and over and over again over time. 

This process will enable us to break bad habit, forgiving the 'jerks', and so forth.

But most of us blame God for not saving us at the time of need or temptation. The fact is that we actually have not been abiding in Him to build up the strength we need at the time of need. Chinese has a saying that "developing the army for a thousand days to be use at an hour".

If we think we are a failure, the problem is not with God. God has provided all the needs for us to be successful and victorious. We just need to put on trust and put His words into practice over time and not just once off or for only a few times.

Abiding and yielding is a process and is a building up over time. This is also call growth. See Christian Transformation & Growth -The Unified Model ...

2009-12-25

Acceptance - The Best Christmas Gift

Worldly wisdom is about performance for acceptance. Show me your performance first then I will accept you. This is so in grained in our thinking that even after we are accepted by God through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement for us, we still frequently regress to work for acceptance. This is easily seen in the Galatians as they were rebuked by Paul in the Book of Galatians. After salvation, they wanted to go back to the work of the Law for justification again.

Biblical wisdom called for the acceptance of the person first, though not the deeds of the person. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. Jesus love us even when we were rebellious against Him. If we can be freed of sins, then we don't need Jesus at all. So we must be clear of the meaning of acceptance.


Definition of Acceptance of a Person
Acceptance means that we receive and love the person as he/she is, as a person, and does not necessary mean approval of his/her deeds. We accept him/her first and then help he/she to change for the better. Grace is God acceptance of us first and then enabling us to break free from the bondage of sins to live in freedom.

This concept is clearly seen in the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus accepted her first "Neither do I condemn thee" and also "Go and sin no more". The consequence of our sin is death and there is not more hope and no more desire to change. In fact, sin leads to more sin since there is no future. However, if someone can accept and believe for the better, then there arise a desire to break free.

So true acceptance is receiving a person and believing him/her for the better in his/her of sins. This applies to our 'enemies' - people who hurt us, who gossips and spread lies about us and who betray us. Could we ignore the hurts they caused us and accept them as a person ( very often, they are the very Christian brother and sister that you trusted in the first place!) and believing in them that they are and can be better. The hurts they caused us; they probably think that they are doing the right thing and in the name of God. Could we believe that they are deceived by the devils or believed in the wrong rumor about us, had a great misunderstanding. Could we start treating them not as enemy but as brothers in Christ. Not to shunt them but to be able to face up to them with no anger and bitterness.
Can we trust God to settle the misunderstanding, wrongly accusations and attacks and give us the justice? Could we understand that hurting people hurts people? Insecured people manipulate, lies, blame and attack to try to control things. Can we see the stress and struggles inside? May God gives us the grace to accept them.

Acceptance does not mean approval or endorsement of the evil deeds. At the appropriate time and in the right way, we must, or may God send others to tell them, show them that their deeds are evil and that they may repent. However, such will not come, until we can gain their confidence that we accept and believe that they are and can be a better person. How can they hear us if they don't believe we love them and their best interest in mind?
People may think they are saved or may be actually saved, but they lack the growing up phase of maturity into the true image of Christ.

Change begins with Acceptance - By Father and Us (His Channels)
So, if we want another person to change, we must first learn to accept them first, gain their trust, and then we may earn the right to trule communicate the truth to them, and then they may change. The best acceptance is the acceptance by Jesus Christ who gave His life for us. May we be filled with such confidence of acceptance by our Heavenly Father than we may be channel to bring His acceptance through us to help others change for the better. This may be the best present you can give to someone in this Christmas seasons.

2009-12-11

Same Action but Different Result

The Same Initial Action
What do you call the sequence actions of digging a hole in the garden, followed by putting a thing inside and then covering it back with the earth ?

Do you call it burying or planting?
What's the difference?

It depends on your purpose or expectation and the thing you put inside.

We bury things that are death or want them to be dead.
We plant things to have a greater growth and harvest.

The result depends on the thing - a seed or a lifeless thing or body?
All born-again believers has a complete seed of Christ inside.
All it takes is for the seed of Christ to be planted inside the throne of our heart, in place of our own self-will. Let Christ rules in our heart and grows out through our mind and show forth in our behvaiour and lifestyles, bearing much fruit.


The Difference in Time
Burying and Planting while same in the initial action, they differs over time. Burying is a one-off exercise whereas planting takes place over a duration of time.


What are you doing with your efforts ? Burying or Planting?

What are you doing with your 'things'?
Are you planting seeds and burying the decays and hurts?
Or instead, are you planting the hurts and burying the seeds?

Burying is not accumulating. Burying is letting go forever. Accumulating is actually like planting. Taking care and adding ingredients for its growth.

Draw from Christ's love and forgiveness of us to let go, bury, all our bitterness and hurts. The ones that cause us the hurts are the one least able, if not least willing, to put right the hurts. Don't wait for them to say sorry and make good (they can't and won't). Be empowered by Christ who died for us while we yet rebellious sinners and forgive and bless us nonetheless that we might be converted to be His. Forgive the people who hurts us and go the extra-mile of loving our enemy that they may be converted to our friends. Christ has enabled us to do it.

Plant the new life of Christ in us. Follow His heart. Bury and let go of our hurts and bitterness. Be filled with the love of Christ. It is hard for us but already done for us in Christ. We are not doing the forgiving but the Christ in us.

2009-12-07

Secret of Victorious Christian Living

We are studying Ephesians. Ephesian 3:16-20 is a very powerful passage. It gives us the secret for victorious Christian living. For a study on the chapter, see Bible Study on Ephesians - Chapter 3 Mystery Exposed & Abundant Life and for Q&A see Ephesians - Chapter 3 Mystery Exposed & Abundant Life Q&A. Below is a concept map that illustrate the secrets:




The target for any Christian is the "Fullness of God" revealed through them. To me, the "fullness of God" means Christ-likeness as in Rom 8:37. It is also about being "more than Conqueror' of Rom 8:37. It is about the "going the extra mile" of Mat 5:41 and the "joy in adversity" of John 16:33. It is the ability to go beyond worldly expectation of effort and behavior. It is about loving above taking revenge. It is trusting God and following God's ways instead of taking things into our own hands of fleshly reactions. It is about showing the character of God of the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control.

If anyone lack the ability or goodness of God, then he should trace back from the map to discover that he lack inner strength. Inner Strength begins with faith in Christ, to have Christ lives in our heart, and with the faith, acts in obedience to Christ, then we will be able to taste and experience the love of God resulting in greater faith in Christ for us to greater in Him. The key is faith and corresponding actions in the Christ's love within. 



2009-11-12

Degree of Grace - From Grace-less to Ultra-Grace/Hyper-Grace

It helps our understanding of a particular subject, say "Grace", when we look at a range of it. As "Grace" is the most important of Christian belief, we need to study a degree of it. The Calvinist and Armenian Doctrines seat on different positions on a scale of "Grace" from "Grace-less" to "Ultra-Grace" (or Hyper-Grace). Calvinist seats closer to "True Grace" and Armenian seats closer to "Grace Plus X".
True Grace

But first, let me cover my biased view of "Grace", or "True Grace". I have written quite a few posts on the definition of Grace, such as,
  1. "Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This Common Definition is Wrong
  2. Grace - God's Loving Power for You to become Your Very Best
  3. Grace Based Doctrines
  4. Salvation of Tripartite Man - The Details 
  5. Spirit Soul Confusion and 2 Types of Defeats
All will agree Grace is a gift of God that we did not earn it but merely receive it by faith. However, unlike God's Mercy which is given to all freely, Grace is given to the degree of our wanting or drawing from God. That is why Paul said God is glorified in his weakness as he leaned more on God that God may supply his greater grace for greater glory.

From the viewpoint of time, Grace covered our past sins by forgiveness and cleansing because of the price paid by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. But we should not just stay there, we should focus more on the present and future of Grace. This side of Grace is the Power of Grace. Grace is the empowerment from God to enable us to do the right things that glorify God. It enables us to become what God wants us to be before the foundation of the earth. Grace is here to within us through Christ in us to power us to be like Christ. But we holds the control to decide how much grace do we want to release out of our inner being. We decides to walk according to the flesh (our old man's will ) or to walk according to the Spirit (within us).

The Bible uses two illustrations to show forth how on one hand we are complete in Christ and on the other hand we need to grow up to conform to the image of Christ. The first illustration is a seed. A seed is complete in everything for life. There is no lack. How can we tell? We just need to plant it. When the seed dies, a tree grows out of it. The tree may bear no, or some fruit, or lots of fruit. If the seed is not complete, it will not grow or it will grow into something strange and dies. Everyone has the same Christ within, due to different calling, we become different members of Christ. But not all fully live up the full potential of the initial calling of God. We have to bear the responsibility of how we response and let Christ rules in and out of us.

Another illustration is the treasure in the earthen vessel where Paul told us it is up to us to choose what type of vessel do we become from the same treasure within. The process of growth comes from less and less of old selves and that the vessel becomes more and more transparent to allow the treasure of Christ withing to show forth.

Ultra-Grace or Hyper-Grace

The important journey of growth is ignored in the Ultra-Grace people. They think they are already complete in Christ and therefore entitled to all the blessings, usually means wealth and health for oneself. They are entitled to God's favours and need not work for anything. In fact, work is seen as work of the flesh. They believe more in the revelation by the Spirit instead of spending time doing real extensive Bible study. Hard work is not compatible to God's favors. Failure is not allowed in the world of "Blessings and Favors" and hence it is to be hidden if such misfortune does happen. It is like we are out of the will of God. The concept of discipline and training does not tally well the the blessings and favors. Adversity are to be avoided rather than faced up and accepted as part of growing up. Growing is not a concept acceptable in a world where we have arrived. Sin is taken lightly since all sins, past, present and future are already forgiven. Some people criticized this 'ultra grace' as license to sin. Of course, no one is truly Ultra-Grace. It is a matter of degree in the scale of "Grace".

Grace Plus X

Grace Plus X people are grateful to God for His salvation. They thank God for His Grace of Salvation and then want to continue the growing-up process of sanctification by their own effort. God has done enough already, let me do the rest. To them, Grace is sufficient to start but insufficient to finish the race. It is Grace + Good Discipline, + Good Work, + Good Moral Living, or + good tihng. Different people has different '+' requirement. Because it is '+', salvation is conditional on my keeping in close connection to God and is not eternally secure. Grace + people live a stressful live. It is ourselves trying to hold on to God rather than trusting God to hold on to us as God has promised. Grace + people lives a life of up and down spiritual and emotional mood. They are on a high is they felt they read the Bible and on a low if they did not.

Grace-less

Grace-less is typical of all religions. We achieve salvation by our own effort in following some form of Laws of Righteousness. I am not sure how they handle sin though. It is very likely that they practice some form of accounting system that the amount good work done can compensate for the amount of sins committed. Again there is no security and likely a lot of hypocrisy.
Table of Comparison


Summary

On the scale of "Grace", it is a matter of degree. It is a reflection of what we belief. Hopefully by knowing the truth, we can growup to greater maturity. Grace-less is not safe and not saved. Grace Plus X is missing on the empowerment of Grace for our sanctification and causing us needless stress and self-condemnation or self-pride. Ultra-Grace ignores the need for growth and our responsibility to response to God's empowerment of Grace. Let us rest in security of God's grace within to work out the Christ in us through relying and working with God to show God's glory through our good works made possible by His grace.

2009-10-31

Surrender

As a Christian, we are taught, at least very often in the past, to surrender to God. We spoke about dying to self and carry our cross daily. But these concepts may be too abstract or high sounding. On more practical terms, I think surrender involves the following concepts:
  1. Begins with Acceptance.
    It begins with accepting our present realities - our talents (or someone may feel the lack of), our appearance, our circumstances, our families, and many of other limitations and lack of control over our lives.
  2. Trusting God.
    Despite all the limitations and weaknesses, we are trusting God can make something good out of us through these challenging situations.
  3. Thy Will be Done.
    Once we know and trust God - that God knows better and have a better way we can then agree to have God's will be done on our lives. The easiest way to say to No to something is to have something better to say Yes to. Trusting also meanings listening and acting in obedience. Surrender is not about just giving up but accepting and following God's.
  4. Checklist.
    If we trust God, then we should know how to let go. We should give up trying to manipulate, intimidate, deceive or even to flatter.
  5. Exchange for Real Life.
    Surrender does not mean just dying. Jesus said a seed died to become a living tree that provides for the birds and the people. Dying to self and accept Jesus brings forth life of love, joy, peace, health, and true self-control - a strong inner man that is not easily swayed by challenging circumstances - the very situations that caused us our frustration and stress. We learn to live above our circumstances - always joyful and grateful and hopeful.

2009-10-15

Trust & Obey

The secret of happiness and victorious life is plainly stated in the beautiful song "Trust & Obey".
The song also begins with knowing His Word and walking in obedience that we will discover the light - the acceptable and good will of the Lord Rom 12:2.

In this uncertain and shaking times, it is of utmost important that we grow in the knowledge of His will, be sensitive to His Holy Spirit guidance and to just trust and obey.

In the story of the Ten commandments, the very last plague, the Passover, the Lord had given the instructions on sacrifice and putting the blood on the doorposts and the lintel to escape the death of 1st born. (Exo 12). The people then are given the option to follow or not. Those who don't will perish and those who did as instructed will be preserved. We see that in 'Exo 12:38 A mixed multitude also went up with them'.

In this shaking times, please find a rock of eternity Jesus Christ, know Him and then trust and obey Him.

2009-10-05

Walking in Financial Freedom

The original topic was "Get out of Debt". However, it we follow the strength-based thinking or appreciative inquiry or innovating thinking, it is always better to rephrase, by applying the 'invert' operator, a negative concept into a 'positive' one. By so doing, our minds are opened up to greater possibilities and options for transformational growth.

Two Basic Principles
How can one walk in financial freedom? We have a simple formula:
  • Saving = Earning - Spending
This gives us two basic principles:
  1. Spend less than we earn so that we will never get into the bondage of debt and have financial freedom.

  2. Increase our Earning. If we want to spend more and still want to remain in freedom, then we must increase our earning. Our earning can be increased by working longer hours or to increase our value. It is quite obvious that it is better to increase our value rather than to work longer. To increase our value, we must either spend money and time to acquire new knowledge and skills, or to invent new things of value. Both involve temporary sacrifice of time and money in exchange for longer term larger earning and ability to spend. This is the exact opposite of EzCredit that encourages you to over-spent to enjoy now and then pay later.
The Bondage of Debts
Pro 22:7 The rich rule the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. It is obvious that debt has enslaving power. If we have any debt, it will take priority over our life decision. The creditors will hound you to pay off the debts off. Paying debt off will be our top priority in our living and decision making. Debt will enslave you to its power. I can't find a bible verse on this (let me know if you find one) but debts create more debts. Partily due to the multiplying effect of interest rates and partly due to the continued bad habits (like gambling) that continue to create more debts. There is only one way to get out of debt - repent. We will cover "How to Get out of Debt" later.

The Banking System of Loan & Interests Are OK
Because of the enslaving power of death, there are strong but erroneous teaching against the banking system of loan and interest charging. Let's go back to the Bible, the Parable of 10 Talents in Luk 19:23 or Mat 25:27 recorded for us, the Master judgment on the lazy steward, "Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest."

It is obvious me that making deposit in bank and collecting interest is a wise thing. By extension, the Bank making loans and charging interests for the loans are all valid and good things. If the Bank does not charge interests, how could the bank make money to pay interests to the depositors. Bible does not prohibit charging interest but is against charging exorbitant interests to exploit the poor. By further extension, if loan is OK then debt should be OK too.

The Restrictions on the Lenders
Because debts give the lenders enslaving power, the Bible has much to say about restricting lender behavior such us the use of collateral, the interests rate, the periodic payments etc. See Deu 15, Lev 25.
Deu 15 provides of release of payment at the 7th year, no interests to be charged for relatives (interests can be charged to outsider), the land lease must always be redeemed by owner or close relative etc. There is no condemnation for the borrowers that are poor. Leaders are encouraged to be generous in their lending, sometime to give away, to help the poor.

How can the Poor Break Free?
How can the poor get out of the vicious circle of poverty? Through the helping hands of the generous lenders who provide low interests loans with generous conditions for the loans. Please note that the Bible also teaches us to be wise as wolf even as harmless as doves. Making profit out of lending is endorsed by the Bible (how can one continue to lend and do good works if one cannot make some profit to survive the long run?). Bible is only against exploitative profits making.

The helping hands or loans or gifts

from others is only a kick start for the poor or needy to be put a path for growth so that they can take make a proper living to care for themselves. We have the famous saying of not just giving the fish but teaching them how to fish.




The Right Use of Debts

When an exceptional condition arises, such as a famine, an earthquake, a fire or a flood, the live-stocks or harvests of a farmer for the year could be destroyed. The farmer may not have the ability to buy seeds for the next season of harvest. How can he be helped? The Bible tells the rich to lend to the poor to help them. It would be better if there is a Bank where one can go for help. How can the poor becomes rich? By acquiring a new skills and knowledge that can create value of course. In trading business, one need to have money to buy the goods first and then re-sell at higher price to earn the margins. I think all these are valid reasons for borrowing.

So, I would proposed that it is the use of debt that decide whether it is OK or not OK. It is OK to use debt for financing investment or capital items - things that are used to produce things of higher value or things that appreciate in value over the long term such as your house or land. It is BAD to use debt to finance your consumption - things who value go to zero upon using or with time. I think study loan is fine. It is of course much better if one can get scholarship. But there are limited scholarships to go around. Studying is one way of increasing your value-add or earning power in the long run.

There is the wonderful story of a rich man who bought and developed a land into a housing estate and sell it, without deposit, but only periodic payments over a fixed period, to the poor so that they can hold their own home in the long run. He has the compulsory condition that his buyers must attend courses to upgrade their skills and be taught how to wisely use their earnings. He hired a pastor to help counsel the poor buyers. His method allowed him to make a fair profits on his development project and at the very same time, help many people break free from poverty.

There are the mission work of micro-enterprises. The mission work organization bought 10 piglets as an interest free loan for a poor family. They teach them how to take care of the pigs. When the pigs are fully grown, they can be sold at a higher price. It is enough for the family to pay back the 10 piglets, buy his own and continue his pig farming business. The money received back will be used to help another poor family.

How to Get out of Debts
The steps are: (follow the AA 12 rules is OK too)

1. Face the facts - Admit one has a Debts Problem
2. Repent - i.e. Change the Mind-set. Don't overspend on consumption goods.
3. Pray and Commit to God. Ask God for power and wisdom
4. Get an Mentor or a Group of Mentors and be accountable to he/them.
5. Make a list of all debts and interests charge.
6. Meet up with Creditors to work out a plan of periodic payment to pay them back. If by God's grace, the Creditors may reduce the debts to be paid. Do a restructuring in financing.
7. Decide and never over-spend again.... report to the mentors your plan and actual budgets on spending and repayment of debts.
8. Work hard and Upgrade to increase earning to pay off the debts. Get advises.
9. Ensure regular repayment of debts. Some advices to pay off the interests ones first. Some suggest pay off the smaller debts first so that you have sense of early victories that encourage you to carry on.
10. It could take 2, 3, 5 or even 10 years. But stay the course. Stay close to God and fellow Godly mentors for guidance and encouragement.

General Guidelines
  1. Always Spend within your means. must includes tithes and savings first
  2. Grow your Value by learning (getting degrees, diplomas, new skills), by experience in new areas
  3. Grow your Savings by spending less than earnings and invest the savings wisely.
  4. Don't go into debts for spending on consumers.
  5. Can go into debts with caution for things that create value or whose value appreciate over time such as investment goods. e.g. House as a home, Study Loan. Even so, don't over-borrow to buy a house that you could not afford. The key is sustainability: if you loose your job, how long can you service your monthly payment?
  6. Be generous in your lending; Be wise - don't lend to anyone who ask even they pressure in the name of God and love. Be sure if borrower can pay back. Get Collateral, Guarantee.
  7. Loan amount should be the level you can still be friend if the friend could not pay back.
    Charge minimum interest; be sure of how it is used by the borrower; don't use good money for bad project, gambling, stocks & equivalent. It may be better to give or lend in kinds (such as school fees, books, foods etc).
  8. Don't be guarantee of others debts. Pro 22:26
Above are general guidelines, but do stay in close touch with God and listen to His specific instructions for the specific situations. But also know that God will not violate His own Words as revealed in the Bible.

2009-09-28

Submitting - Biblical vs Secular View

It is a common joke that while Husband is the head wife is the neck that turn the head. Such contention is like due to that fact husbands will use 'Eph 5:22 wives submit to your husbands' to force a decision through against a disagreeing wife. This is actually a misunderstanding of the word 'submit' in the context of Ephesian Chapters 5. Eph 5:22 comes after Eph 5:21 'submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.' The key is "submitting to another" with Christ as the foundation stone. We must first submit to Christ and then we can submit to one another. The phase 'one another' points out the key difference of Biblical definition of "Submit" from the secular and common understanding.

Secular Worldly View
Submit is a relationship engagement involving two parties - leader and follower. The worldly view of submit is only one way - employee submit to the boss, student submit to teacher, citizen to the government. This worldly view on submission was spoken by Jesus in 'Mar 10:42 ...."You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.'. We have the typical hierarchical organization chart with Boss at the top and others serving the needs of the Boss. Submit is a one way street - The Boss gives command for his own interests and others are to follow without any questions. The organization exists to serve the owner or boss.

What happen when there are disagreements or dissatisfaction among the ranks? The typical approach is to use fear and threats to force obedience. In the workplace, a typical threat is "you either follow or be fired" or 'don't rock the boat' or 'don't create trouble'. One may run the risk of being labeled "a non team worker". In a church environment, you can find much preaching on 'Touch not God's Anointed 1Sam 24:11, 26:9' or Rebel of Aaron & Miriam against Moses or Rebel of Korah Num 16:1-50 to shut off any feedback or suggestions and force agreement under name of unity. These are not the proper actions of a good leader. Have it ever occurred to the leaders that the members' behavior are precisely the result of the leaders bad actions and the solution lies with leaders taking corrective actions rather than beating them to submission. Let's see what the Biblical view is.

Biblical View
The Biblical view of submission, as mentioned above in Eph 5:21, is a two way flow of submitting to one another. This Biblical Leadership model is exemplified and expounded by Jesus as the "Servant Leadership Model" - 'Mar 10:43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,'.

The two way flow is as follows:
Leader thinks for the good of the community and cares for all its members with the followers willingly obey the leading because of trust (knowing that their leaders will do things that are best for the community).

It is clear to us that "Submit" is about "submitting one to another". It is not a unilaterally decision but a collaborative action. Paul uses a pair-of-roles to illustrate in Eph 5:22 to Eph 6:10.

The purpose of 'submitting to one another' is for the benefits of both parties and of the union and thereby reflecting the glory of God. Eph 5:21 is part of the will of God as stated in Eph 5:17. Eph 5:18-20 are the other parts of the will of God. Chapters of Eph 5-6 is the execution of Eph 5:1 be imitators of God.

Submitting in Husband-Wife Relationship
Wife Summits as Husband Loves for the good of each other & the union of one-flesh. Summit & Love comes together. Without love, there is no willing submission and the whole suffers. True love involves submission as Jesus said "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Joh 14:15.

Submitting in Parent-Children Relationship
Children obey parents as Parents develop children. Both benefits from the growth of each other & the union (family). Discipline was the word used. But a better word would be coaching & development of the child to be a better person - able to make decisions and be responsible. Note this Paul specially added v4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, to caution against the over bearing and controlling parent. See Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 10 on Filial Piety for how parents provoke children to wrath.

Submitting in Boss-Staff Relationship
Staff obey Bosses with sincere heart (not for show) as Boss leads without threats as both serve Christ for the company's interests and each other interests and thereby glorify God. The biblical organization chart is an inverted pyramid. The boss serve the staff to serve the customers. This management concept is well known. Yet the church seems to be copying the old bureaucratic concept rejected by modern management to hoping to create mega-church and forgoing its biblical concept servant leadership.

Be Grateful for Disagreements
When there are disagreements and dissatisfaction in the organization, one should not be alarmed but rather be happy. This is because as situation changes (frequently nowadays), different people have different views of situation. They will be coming out with different solutions to handle the changes and thereby create disagreements. These differences are to be welcomed and not stopped because there in usually lies the best solutions to handle the change.

Watch-out for Egos
People's ego could be a main cause of disagreement and we should watch for it. Egos make an issue into a 'for-me' or 'against-me' debates . It will distorts the facts and create much strife and confusion. Paul warned us in 1 Cor 3 not to get into a childish and fleshly egos fight of for-who but to recognize the different roles that each of us play and then together, submitting one to another, build up the body of Christ.

It Starts with the Leaders Extending Love and Understanding
Leaders should be the one taking the initiative first to solve the problem. Leaders have the position and power to make change. Love/Respects begets love/respects. If one suffers the lack of respect of others, we may need to ask ourselves first whether we extend the respects. As leaders, God demands us to do more.

Leaders Responsibilities are:
  1. take responsibility for developing a compelling vision for the benefits of the union.
  2. invert the pyramid and move to the bottom as cheerleaders, supporters, and encouragers.
  3. Initiate and reach-out to the followers and not to resort to threat Eph 6:9
  4. Should self examined - am I the cause of the problem? Mat 7:3 Do I have the log in my eye? Is it because my ego is hurt ? Am I only seeking my own self-interest?
  5. Is the vision right? Are the plans right?
  6. Is the communication clear ? The benefits and the methods and the changes that may affect others. Are those badly affected been taken care of?
  7. Did I help to create trust or sow distrust?
Followers Responsibilities Are:
  1. Is it the right thing to do?
  2. Is my Communication clear? purpose, methods, concerns
  3. Lack of Trust?
  4. Have considered the interests of the Union?
  5. Have seen things from the Leader's viewpoint?
When we are not happy about others - spouse, family members, workplace colleagues not agreeing with us, we should really reflect first whether we have looked after their interests. Did we go for a win-win for the members and the group rather than just our own convenience and interest. The golden rule of 'Love' established by Christ will always work. Extends love first instead of threats.


Additional Insight posted on 14 Oct 2009
The Way of Submission is Key
How does submission takes place is the crux of the issue. Husband abusing by threats or force to get wife's submission is wrong. We can argue from the two-way view of Biblical submission - using threat to force submission breaks one of the 2 way and is not submitting one-to-another. Submission is bonded by the Biblical values of truth, justice and love.


Update 12 March 2011
The Ancient Chinese Classics has a word for such 'submitting to one another' in building good and harmonious relationships. The word is 孝 Xiao, 'Filial Piety'. The true meaning is love and respect. The Elder loves the Younger and the Younger respect the Elder. Because the Younger know and trust the love of the Elder, the Younger will obey the leading and teaching of the Elder.  see The Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing)  for more details.

Update 30 May 2011
Submitting is about putting the other person first. Taking care of their interests above ours. It is a more specific way of showing what love is. On this foundation of love, shown by putting others interest above ours, we then have wife to submit to husband and husband to love wife as Christ loves His church. It shows the difference in husband and wife. Wife is to give husband respect and husband is to give wife tenderness and security. This mutual submitting is to be extended to relationship between parents and children, bosses and employees, government and citizens. The exact form of submitting or love is role-dependent.


Transfer of Wealth - How Will It Happen

In the Christians circle, there are much prophecies about the transfer of wealth at end-times. Do a Google search on "End Time Transfer of Wealth" and you will find many articles. I will use this topic as an illustrations of doing better Bible Study with the 5W1H Method.

The 5W1H Bible Study Method
5W1H stands for What, Who, Why, Where, When and How. It is good to have a mind map template to start with. Choose a mindmap software like xmind (xmind.net), or freemind, or freeplane. Here is a template:



We arrange the 5W1H on the left and the Topic of interest on the right. We begin by filling the topic with "Transfer of Wealth" and begin with a simple but commonly cited Bible verse that talk about it - Proverbs 13:22b ‘A sinners wealth is stored up for the righteous’ .

We then try to answer the 5W1H questions on the left. When we have an answer, we move it to the right. The 'WHAT' in the verse is 'Wealth'. We can add more on the meaning of wealth - what is wealth, with the additional subtopics. In the context of Prov 13, we did not find any specific type of wealth. The first part of 13:22 mentions inheritance. Hence, we can take it that wealth has the generally meaning as we understand it.

We get the following:

We continue with the remaining questions like Who, Why, etc and try to answer with as much Biblical support as possible. A possible stage that I reached is as follow:
"HOW" is where most Controversies Are
As we try to answer the final question 'How', we know the verse itself does not tell us much. Most often, we fill in with our own ideas or imagination of how it will be done and we propagate our own favorite doctrine of how it will happen. The safe guard is to get the 'How' from other parts of the Bible. This is also a critical key to the correct understanding of the Bible.

Differentiate the Vision & Process (How)
Most bible promises are 'Vision' statements. The 'how' to realize the vision are situational and person dependent and the Bible are not specific. The Bible does prescribe a very clear value framework (like the 10 commandments, the fruit of the spirit of love, kindness, ... Gal 5:22-23, the Proverbs, etc ) to guide the process of execution. The 'how' cannot violate the value principles laid down by the Bible. The value principles are actually success principles (not restrictions) that leads to realization of the vision. See Freedom and Its Myth of More Freedom is Better

Find the How from Other Parts of the Bible
From doing the 5w1H analysis, we find that the Prov 13:22 is a vision statement without the How. We are not at liberty to decide what the how should be. We must read the other parts of the Bible to get the answer. There are other verses that provide more information - e.g. Ecc 2:26, Deu 8:18. These 2 verses tell us that God gives us wisdom and ability to create value and wealth. We know of inventors that said God gave them the ideas to innovate new things or show them where to find the precious minerals upon which great wealth were created.
We can find such stories of Joseph, 4 Lepers in Syrian Camp etc. God has many methods for transfer of wealth. It is specific to the particular situations. Expect natural and super-natural methods!

Keys are
1. Seek God & Get wisdom. Each situation is specific and unique even though general principles apply.
2. Trust & Obey
3. Stay within the Kingdom Principles & Values. God does not violate His own principles and order. This is a validation check in our execution of wealth creation.

The Details on the Transfer of Wealth
Please see the mind map below for a more comprehensive exposition on the topic.


Update 22 Aug 2012
In Exodus, the wealth, transfered from the Egyptians to the Israelites, was actually the payments for 400+ years of slavery that the Israelites suffered under the Egyptians. It was the pay-back time.

2009-08-27

How to be A Successful CEO

How to Study the Bible
Ps 101, even though is very short with only 8 verses, contains much wisdom on how to be a good CEO that runs a great company. I will also like to take this opportunity to share about how to do Bible Study. Here are the steps:
  1. Read the whole passage.
  2. Analyze verse by verse
  3. Break the verse down further by concepts.
  4. Meditate on the meaning and implication.
    - Rephrase the concepts in as free words as possible
    - Looking at it from the dimension of space - I and others, area of influence,...
    - Looking at if from the dimension of time - the sequence....
    - Try to find the answers for Why, What, Who, When, Where & How.
  5. Find the areas for applications - i.e. putting what has been learned into practice.
Recommended Software for Mind Mapping
I find it easier to do with a mind-mapping software.
You can get good free mind mapping software by following the ....
  • freemind choose RC-5. This is the original. Very features rich & fast.
  • freeplane a new software based on freemind. Even more feature. But in alpha-test stage. So far no problem for me.
  • xmind this is a very visual and beautiful mindmapping software. Lots of map formats and formating styles to choose form (stronger than freemind & freeplane). But lack filtering, resources, etc that are available in freemind. But it is a good mind mapping software to start with. One major advantage over others is the availability of a USB drive version so that you don't have to install on your PC or Mac.
Back to the meat of of Ps 101. Here is what I have learned.

How to be a Good CEO

David was speaking as a King. In today context, it could be equivalent to the CEO or the Executive Chairman or just simply a Boss where you run a business with subordinates under you.

A good Boss starts with self. We must be of good character and has competence before we can help others. His first secret is praise God for His love and justice. This reminds us of the many verses that say the "Fear of the Lord" is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov 1:7). Two key traits of God were experienced by David, love (steadfast - not one off or ad-hoc) and justice. God's love and justice is expressed out in integrity.

A good CEO begines with knowing God's steadfast love and justice and show them out as personal integrity. Integrity is gained by first thinking about the ways of the righteous (blameless) , real meaning and motivation of the heart, and expressing them out in the way of behaviour and establishment of company values and policies and the way we treat others. David was clear of doing them within the sphere of our control. There are many areas that are beyond our control can we should be discouraged or to force others. The walk of integrity also includes putting away the evil things, perverse intention, slandering and gossiping, and arrogance of heart and look (and talk and associated behaviour such as being unteachable and despising others).

A CEO also works with people. He want to have people of good characters working for him. He employs people that are faithful and those that walk blamelessly (righteous behaviour). He constantly review his people and will not hestitate to remove people that tell lies and practice deceits.

Here is the mind map of Ps 101 - How to be a Good CEO

2009-08-20

Freedom of Choice and Sense of Right & Wrong

What is the difference between a tiger killing a man and a man killing another man?
Will we say that the tiger is wrong? Why not? Can we ask the tiger to behave like cow and eat grass instead of meat? There is no sense of right and wrong for the hunger tiger. We said it is his nature and he cannot help it. It is the man responsibility to stay away from the tiger.
What is the key reason that we says that we say the man killing another is wrong?
The reason is that man has the freedom of choice. He can decide what he wants to do.
Freedom comes with the responsibility for the choices we made.
Freedom is awesome and we need to exercise it with care.

How is it that man has the sense of 'right and wrong' ?
Can right exist without wrong? Or, can wrong exist without right? Which comes first?
Right is the standard and Wrong is anything short of the standard.
Why does man at large has a sense of right ?
Why does doing good make us happy and doing bad makes us uncomfortable?
We are wonderfully made in the image of the Creator God.

2009-08-18

What is REST? Part 2

After a relative comprehensive search (preventing unbalanced, biased & man's opinions) and meditation of the Bible on Rest, we may want to narrow down a certain subtopic and do a greater depth of study.
Firing up eSword again, using TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) which gives the related verses to the verse you choose, you can find other related verses to the key verse that you want to study further.

Two subtopics interested me ...

1. How to Rest.
2. How to Rest in the midst of Busy Schedule.


How to Rest:
Step 1. Come to Jesus
He welcomes you anytime. He will not reject you no matter how bad you feel about yourself or how you have disappointed him. He promises to lift you up and set you free. (see the mind map for relevant verses)

Step 2. Listen to Jesus
Study the words.

Step 3 Follow & Receive Peace
Do accordingly and Enjoy the Peace in the midst of Storm. Luk 5:48 House built on Rock,
Putting in practice is actually rest - you feel satisfied that you have followed God.
It is the good feeling that you get when helping others,
I am Busy and Have No Time to Rest?:
Time management is about Priority Management. Get your priority right and discard those activities that are not on priorities.

You will give time to things that you feel are unimportant.

If you can't rest, most likely, it is because you don't feel it is more useful or more important that the other things that you should do. Need to study into the benefits of Rest. Resting in Jesus brings refreshed and revitalized life, creativty, wisdom, etc answers to the problems and stresses that you are feeling., The more stress you have, the more Rest you need in Jesus.

Understand that there are seasons in your life. You many need to adjust your time spent on different activities. Nevertheless, practise Rest in midst of your activities.



What is Rest?

A sister in Christ asked about "rest". She believed that when Jesus said "rest" he didn't mean "inactivity" or lazing around, it is a state of being. It should not be something we bounce in and out of. So what is it?
Finding the Biblical Meaning of "Rest"
To have the Biblical Answer instead of ours or famous preachers, we must go back to the Bible and let the Bible tells us.

So, run e-Sword, choose a translation, say ESV, or KJV, and search for the word Rest.
Very quickly, we can find verses that are related to Rest. One main set is Mat 11:28-30 where Jesus speak of rest
Mat 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ....

I will put up a mind-map and break the verses into parts and then meditate on the meaning of each part of the verses.

Here are some conclusions:
  • Rest is found in Jesus's presence. He gives us rest.
  • Purpose of Rest is to refresh, to strengthen us to be able to carry heavy loads easily
  • Rest is a directed effort - "Take my yoke", "Learn of Me". It is like exercise! Except excercise makes your budy tired.
  • Rest of Soul (v30) - peace of mind is found in learning from Jesus.
    I think this Rest means not just physical rest but Peace of Mind (pt 4), stress free or worry free or care free. So, I check other translations to see if anyone think like me... Yes

    (BBE) Come to me, all you who are troubled and weighted down with care, and I will give you rest.

    The Messsage Bible gives a similar one with a new twist - Religious Freedom.
    (MSG) "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest.
    Is the MSG bible correct? I found one relevant verset in Luke 11:46 Religious Rules Burden.

  • Going to other verses, I discover there are other meaning of Rest...
  • I can also look up the orginal Greek word to discover some meaning... and follow the chain of the Greek word rather than the English REST word.
See the attached mind-map for the discovery of the meaning of REST.

and you can conclude .....

So what is Rest? How does it apply to me?
1. To have a stress-free, refreshed mental state, and peace of mind --- learn of Jesus. Rest is obtained by exerting mental learning and heart to heart talk to Jesus.
2. There is a Sabbath rest - time with God - worship and enjoying His presence.
3. There is the Rest of Completion - Work all done by Jesus. We need not try to strive for something we already have. We work it out from the inside.
4. There is time for physical rest; to allow your body to recover.
5. Rest is about going Home too where we are most comfortable .... one day that will be our heaven.
6. Rest is about waiting for the right time.... don't rush, don't fuss,... at the right time, it will happen.

It took me about 2 hours to do all these.

Hope all have learned how to study the Bible to find the right answer.

2009-07-22

Success Attitudes

Some learning from hearing Joel Osteen's web cast
  1. Things don't happen to us, they happen for us - to bring us to greater height of growth.
  2. All things work for good Rom 8:28 - a seemingly bad things from our and other points of view will work for our good!
  3. Don't have a slave or victim mentality. Don't concentrate on blaming others for our failures or lack of trying; don't say we cannot; don't let others determine our future.
  4. Have the resurrection attitude - from death to life, from failure to stepping stone, from defeat to victory.
  5. Always have a positive and success attitude towards life and all the happenings.
  6. Covey's 10-90 principle teaches us that of the 10% of things that happen to us are beyond our control, 90% of the outcome of good or bad depends on our reactions. Convert every happenings to be an opportunity for good.
  7. We have an extra help in such times, it is our God.
  8. Some other preacher says that set-back is a set-up for us to come back again.
  9. Recall the sea-gull parable - the person who hurt you is the least able to help you. Don't wait for them to make good the hurt. Forgive and forget those people and go on with life.

2009-07-18

Images and Picture Missing

Some how the images and photos in all my past postings are gone.
I waited a week to see if it recovers. It did not.
I will put back the image one at a time if I could find them.
Sorry for the missing mind maps and pictures.

I was told that images and pictures on the Blogger are all stored in Picasa's web album and it was most likely that I accidentally deleted them while using Picasa.

2009-07-03

The Meaning of "More than Conquerors"

Most people define 'more than conqueror' as conquering completely and absolutely.  They said it was Paul emphasising the extend of conquering. But, if will look at the verse within its context, it means much more.  More than Conquerors are "Transformers of lives and circumstances to glorify God even through suffering of love" resulting in converting enemy into friend and threats into opportunities.
A few weeks ago, an invited speaker to our church preached 2 weeks on the topic of "More Than Conquerors". I was much encouraged but felt I did not grasp the topic fully. So I went to do more digging into the Bible and was finally satisfied with the answer I found about the real meaning of "More than Conqueror".

A respected pastor first gave me an illustration of what the meaning of "More than Conqueror" was. A boxer fought hard and won a prize in a boxing match. He went home and gave the prize to his wife. His wife was the "more than conqueror" - she got all the benefits and did none of the painful work. In a way, this is a great truth of the Gospel of Salvation- Jesus suffered and died on the cross and then resurrected for our redemption. We are unable and did nothing to gain the inheritance of Son-ship. It was freely given by Jesus. However, this illustration is not correct from the context of the verse where the phase is found. It actually distorts the meaning in the context. Let examine this further.

The phrase is found in Rom 8:37 .....
Romans 8:37 (KJV) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

What are these things of v37? They are found in v35 tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.

A key word in v37 is "IN" and not out of it. When we are in the midst of tribulations and hardships, we are more than conqueror. We are to be IN the suffering with Christ in us.

I was at first puzzled by the reference in v36, "As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. " But it is the key verse to explain the meaning of more-than-conqueror.

More-than-conqueror should be very different from just conqueror. v36 gives us the cue to the differences. Conqueror overcomes the enemy by confrontation, by force, by elimination, by killing, and by fear to get them into submission. The victory is as lasting as the victor has the force and power.

'More-than' is entirely different in method and motivation.
  1. It is not by force but by love to draw you. It is about suffering for the enemy sake to draw them out to be willing to choose your kingdom life & lifestyle for themselves. 
  2. Conqueror is about benefits of the Conqueror - Me. 'More-than" is about the benefits of the others and not ourselves.

The Speaker cited Jim Elliot's story to illustrate the point. He had a gun with them. He could use the gun to kill his attackers. But he did not. The reasoning was that if he should die he would go to heaven whereas his attackers, without knowing the gospel yet, will go to hell. He chose to be killed (more-than-conqueror) instead of killing (Conqueror).

The final outcome, after his death, was the conversion of his attackers and their whole tribe. This is the meaning of "more than conqueror". It is not about overcoming the enemy but about converting the enemy to become friends by acts of sufferings of love.

This is the way of the cross that Jesus has gone through before us and Paul's motto of life in  
  • Philippians 3:10 (KJV) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; and 
  • Col 1:24 [ALT] Now I rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf, and I am filling up [or, completing] the [things] lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body, which is the Assembly.

In studying the whole passage of Rom 8 and related verses in the Bible, I come out with the following definitions of "More than Conquerors".
More than Conquerors are "Transformers of lives and circumstances to glorify God even through suffering of love" resulting in converting enemy into friend and threats into opportunities.
It is the attitude of
  • Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good and
  • 1Th 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
  • Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [even in adverse circumstances ---- added by me]
We can find many illustrations in the Bible that show forth the acts of "more than conquerors"
  • Jesus on the cross for sinners
  • Joseph forgiving his brothers for the greater good of the people
  • Paul's shipwreck resulting in salvation of islanders
  • .....
Beyond Conqueror
In our Life Group discussion, the term "Beyond Conqueror" was suggested. Paul was not talking about more of the conqueror but an entirely different dimension of winning over the adversity of circumstances and people - transforming to convert the hearts of opposition to reception and breaking free from the stifling circumstances to greater success beyond expectation.

Following this understanding with living it out in "Living the More-than-Conqueror's Life".

Here is John Piper's exposition on these verses where he defines "More than conquerors" as "making your enemies to serve you for our good. as in Rom 8:28". This is similar of my definition.


2009-06-16

#KP31 Unity & Harmony

Unity is not uniformity.

I find I need two words to describe this concept fully - A group of distinct individuals working together:
  1. "unity" as united for a common purpose and
  2. "harmony" as synchronizing of differences to achieve the common purpose.
Unity is about shared purpose and not about 'sameness'. Harmony is not about 'passive peace' and calmness but about appreciating each other differences and c0-operating actively together for the shared purpose.

Paul (Rom 12:5) uses a living body as an illustration - all parts of the body, the heart, hands, eyes etc, each with its unique function, working at its best, to contribute to the life and growth of the living body. Any healthy Corporate or Society should work like that.

The ingredients for success are then
  1. shared common purpose - of the same mind Php 2:2. This will create the alignment of unique members toward acheive the same goal. There may need to be cascading of the higher goal to lower level goals.
  2. discovering our unique roles and maximizing our talents to fulfill that roles.
  3. the glue for harmony is "Love". Love as seen in being able to see the greater picture of the corporate body rather than self, respect for individual's differences, humility(Eph 4:2) .
The mind map is below:
This is the last posting of the series Kingdom Laws & Principles. 

Interestingly, the Ancient Chinese Classic I-Ching, the Book of Chang,
Hexagram #38 睽 Deviation– Synergy of Differences cover the same topic.

2009-06-11

#KP30 Continuity - Old & New

With regards to things new and old, it is quite typical to find two main thought. Common among the younger generation, the thinking is "old is bad and new is good". On the other hand, among the older generation, "new is bad and old is good". They wish to return to the good old times.
  • In Mat 13:52, ... Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
The person who is skilled in the Kingdom of Heaven thinking is able to draw out the best of the things old and new.

The principle is about continuity & discernment- keeping the best from the past and continues to innovate for the future. Certain structures of the past that bring harms need to be changed so that improvement and advancement can be made with new innovations.

Biblical principles - the Kingdom principles do not change with time. We need the unchanging principles to handle the ever changing new world. Unchanging principles give us the confidence and the patterns and guides to handle the unknown and changing situations. While principles do not change, the applications can be changed for different situations.

Even for high technology, TRIZ has shown technology system evolution follow certain laws and patterns. Moore's law is still applicable after different generations of technological evolution - from vacuum tubes, to transistors, to VLSI, to ... see Kurweil's presentation on Ted.com.

Jesus' teaching on "New Wineskin for New Wine" is not about throwing away the pass, old-wine-skin, but about using the right container for the right content. It is about fit for use and not about discarding the old. Paul's exhortation about the "forgetting the past and strive towards the future goal" is not about throwing away all the past but about the throwing away the dead weights of the past sins and burden. On many instances, Paul told us to remember the testimonies of the past heroes and to mimic his behavior as he followed after Christ. It is all about discernment and not about discarding.

Remember then to keep and develop the treasures of the old and continue to innovate the new and to pave the way from old to the new world.

Next: Principle of Unity and Harmony

2009-06-10

KP#29 Human Resource Development

Most manager would like to quickly blame the lack of performance on the staff. If one is familiar with the 6-M Fish bone analysis of causes, man is one only of the six elements of Man, Machine, Materials, Methods, Measurement and Management of possible causes ( 6M came from Germany and one of the M was the Environment rather than Management. Management is the external entity that is responsible for improving the system). If one is familiar with the work of Edward Deming's system of profound knowledge, then the key cause of the lack performance could be in the system or methods.

In the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree Luke 13:6-9, the tree did not produce for 3 years and the owner wanted to cut it down. The Vine dresser however pleaded for another year. But he first want to dig around to find the causes and to add fertilizer. He was practicing a good method of finding the causes first before blaming the obvious - the tree or the man.

We can learn from the method of the Vine dresser:
  1. Find the Blockages - Obstacles or Diseases for lack of Performance.
  2. Empowering with Fertilizer.
    For human being, may be there should be encouragement and development - e.g. sending the person for training or coaching the person.
We can find a similar verse in John 15:2. The Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament gives the verse as:

Joh 15:2 "Every branch in Me not bearing fruit, He takes it away [or, lifts it up]; and every [branch] bearing fruit, He prunes clean, so that it shall be bearing more fruit.

The word airo G142, according to Thayer's, have 3 different meanings:
  1. to raise up, to lift up
  2. to take upon one'self and carry what have been raise up, to bear
  3. to remove, carry off.
Most Bible translation just use cut-off. I prefer the 1st one - which is lift up. For development point of view, 2nd definition of carry and bear is even better. BRUCE WILKINSON, in the "Secrets of the Vine" uses the lift-up. Please read the book for the reasons of "Lift up". Essentially, vine stuck in the ground covered with dirt do not produce fruit. They need to be lifted up to get the sun and air to produce fruit.

The principle that I want to stress here is Human Resouce Development first before blaming and firing the staff for lack of performance. Please apply the 6M method to find the cause and if it is the man, coach and develop the man first. If he still can't perform, perhaps his job should be changed for his benefits.

Give Staff one more chance with Training & Support before firing.



2009-06-09

KP#28 Excellence is Zero Defect

In the Parable of Lost Coin and The Lost Sheep, great emphasis was spent on searching and finding the lost. Why is it so? We can look at this from 2 points of view.

Firstly, from the macro view of the whole picture. A beautiful zig-saw puzzle will look awful if it has missing piece. A artifact with a missing piece is no longer a master-piece. A master-piece must have every details just right. The success of the whole body is dependent of the success of every member. The missing piece holds the last key to complete the picture. Hence, great effort should be spent in finding it.

Secondly, from the micro view of the missing sheep. The lost one has missed his calling and trying to find the way. He has lost his purpose and meaning and is likely suffering, like the Prodigal Son. Imaging ourselves being lost in the jungle or the desert without contact with others. How we long to get back to civilization to be back with friend and family. It is love that drives the effort of the search and rescue team who often put their own lives at risks to save the lost.

Lastly, if you are unhappy with "will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7), then you may be living a performance based life like the Elder Brother in the Prodigal Son story. Why there is greater joy? The other 99 righteous persons give forth their joy too.

Here is mind map showing the details:


Next: Principle of HR Development

2009-05-23

Knowledge Tree of Good and Evil - Looking from Tree of Life

In looking at Gen 2:9 and Knowledge Tree of Good and Evil again, I have additional point to make.

Original Hebrew Word of Knowledge in Knowledge Tree of Good and Evil is H1847 da‛ath. BDB gives 2 definitions:
  • 1a) knowledge, perception, skill
  • 1b) discernment, understanding, wisdom
Strong's says From H3045; knowledge: - cunning, [ig-] norantly, know(-ledge), [un-] awares (wittingly).

In my earlier posting, I said "Knowing" instead of "Knowledge" in "Tree of Knowing Good and Evil". This agrees well the discernment of BDB and awareness of Strong's. A better word could be "judgment" which ties even better with my explanation of man wanting to be a judge of good and bad without God.

Understanding Knowledge of Good & Evil from Understanding Tree of Life
What does life mean? Checking BDB, we have H2416 chay

1) living, alive (adjective) 1c) lively, active (of man)
2) relatives (noun masculine)
3) life (abstract emphatic) (noun masculine);3a) life; 3b) sustenance, maintenance
4) living thing, animal 4a) animal;4b) life;4c) appetite;4d) revival, renewal
5) community
(noun feminine)

Checking up Strong's, give:
khah'ee
From H2421; alive; hence raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong; also (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively: - + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life (-time), live (-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, + merry, multitude, + (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop.

In the original hebrew, Chay, Life is more than just being alive and active but include a very important element, Community, Company, Congregation.

So, if Adam partakes the Tree of Life, then he would be choosing communion with God and life comes automatically because God is the source of life.

On the other hand, choosing Tree of Knowing/Judgement of Good and Evil means a rejection of communion with God and Adam's own desire to be the judge.

The choice that Adam was presented with were:
  1. Life with God (Tree of Life) versus
  2. Be my own Judge (of Good & Evil) without God.
Or more simply put : 1. God versus 2. No God.

This choice is not about choosing life over knowledge but life with God or Be-my-own-boss without God.
One should hold the two key concepts in balanced and not choosing one and discarding the other.

e.g. God is both Love and Righteous (Truth, Justice).

In fact, Love has truth in it (1Co 13:6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ) and Truth has love in it. (Col 1:6 ...understood the grace of God in truth)
And Jesus is full of BOTH grace-love and truth Joh 1:14.

Similar, we should pursue both, Life and Knowledge(Wisdom) and not emphasizing one and rejecting the other. If you have Jesus (life), you have Truth( Knowledge, Wisdom). Life contains wisdom and knowledge because God if full of both. Wisdom or Knowledge begins with life - fear of the Lord (of Life) is the beginning of wisdom. (Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Pro 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. )

So, choose both Life and Knowledge/Wisdom .
The choice that Adam made was not about life vs knowledge but about with God or without God.
Hope this clarify.

For a discussion on how to hold two extremess in balanced, see Yin Yang and the Bible .

2009-05-18

KP#27 Principle of Accountability

The Principle of Accountability is found in the Parable of Dragnet Mat 13:47-50 and Parable of the Sheep & Goats Mat 25:31-46. The lessons can be combined for us to come out with a good method for establishing accountability.

If one studies the companies that are rated as "The Best Companies to Work for" , you can find that those companies tend to outperform their industry counterparts. Digging deeper, you can find that the staff have much freedom to decide what to do (empowered) and they are highly motivated to do well. The secret is two fold:
  1. clearly communicated mission and vision (understanding the what & why)
    and no detailed prescription for how. Staff are given the freedom to decide the how to achieve the goals.
  2. a proper accountability system.
Accountability provides the learning framework for us to grow. It is important that we know how well we are doing - correcting the wrong and strengthening the right actions. Accountability provides us to remove those behaviours or people that are not working towards the achievement of shared mission and vision.

Following the system, we can achieve the ideal of 'self-management' that is productive and adaptable and agile to changing business environments.

Here are the details:


Next: Principle of Excellence - Zero Defect

Salvation is Devotion to Christ

It is good now and then to relook and reflect on the meaning of salvation.

Past postings include
Last Sunday, Pastor preached such a topic. My reflection is to look at it as "devotion" to Christ as Mary towards to Jesus (Luke 10:42). Jesus defining purpose of eternal life as knowing God the Father (John 17:3) and a warning by Paul in 2 Cor 11:3 that devil wants to prevent us from such a pure devotion to Christ.

The details are in the mind-map: