2010-12-22

A Reflection on Mary's Worship Song

Last Sunday, Rev Samuel Sia came to preach on "Mary's Song of Praise: The Magnificat" Luke 1:46-55.  He also shared the background of the story, especially the visit to Elizabeth by Mary. He ended with "Does your heart have a space for Jesus?". If you have the joy of Christ, then you will be joyful always. You must prepare your heart to receive Jesus during Christmas to have meaningful, joyful eternal life with Jesus.

The most important thing that I learned from Mary in the past has been Luke 1:38 ...be it unto me according to thy word. That was tremendous faith and obedience in action. She had to go through much persecution and hardship for a virgin birth. She had to bear the great burden of raising Jesus even though bearing the Savior of the World was a great honor. But Mary did not taste the very honor that people all through history had given her. Instead, she had to bear the pains of seeing her Son being nailed to the cross! By faith, she received the honor. This is reflected in her song of praise.

Mary's Christmas Message
Mary's song is also her Christmas Message for us. If you never heard her preached, here it is. Below are some points that I learned:
  1.  About Worship
    1. Mary worshiped God with her mind & heart - her soul and spirit.
    2. She expressed with her mouth - Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. Holy is His name v49.
    3. She expressed with her heart - she rejoiced. It is a song of gladness.
      She shows us how to worship in spirit and in truth with true gladness. She gave good reasons for the joy and praise. It builds our faith.
  2. She gave the reasons for the worship and joy:
    1. About Me: 
      1. God is my Savior v47 - God saved me.
      2. God chose me, a lowly handmaiden.
        God can also choose you. It is not about your position and ability. It is about your heart. Are you willing to follow the path that God has created you for? Will you let God be your God? Will you trust God enough to yield to Him? Humility is not low self-esteem. It is accepting our unique calling from God and follows it with our life. Not condemning ourselves and not envying others. Take pride in the calling of God. (note: the calling of God is not about full-time ministry only. See Secular vs Spiritual Jobs)
      3. All generations shall call me blessed. That is great for Mary. We thank her for her obedience despite the hardship. Leaving a legacy requires obedience, hard work, discipline with joy in the midst.
      4. God had done to me great things. Greatness is defined by God and not by the worldly standard. Sometimes they are the same, e.g. making David King. Sometimes they are not, e.g. Paul, John, Jim Elliot as martyrs for God! For most of us, we just follow our calling by God. We are rewarded by the talents given to us to fulfill our calling. We just need to be faithful to that we are called. But one thing is for sure, God promotes us through life, step by step.
    2. About ALL: From me, Mary extends to others...
      1. God give mercy to them that fear him and is applicable throughout all generations. The Greek translated mercy may be better translated as compassion or kindness. Notice that is a qualification - those that fear Him. God's kindness is to received and can be rejected by the proud as reflected in the subsequent verses. In our case, this kindness is Jesus as Savior. Those who don't fear God could not care less about God or His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
      2. God shows His strength by overriding man's might and pride. What is great in man's eyes is nothing, even dung, in God's view. We must value what God value and not the man-made system.
        1. bring down the proud and mighty(in men own evaluation)
        2. bring up the lowly 
        3. send the rich empty-handed away
        4. fill the hungry with good things
      3. God keeps His promise to Abraham, Jacob(Israel)
        1. Jesus, Abraham's seed to save the world was promised and delivered then. 
        2. (Gal 3:29) And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
        3. The believers are spiritual seeds of Abraham and enjoyed the promises God made to Abraham.
The Offer: Salvation through Jesus Christ
The very reason of Mary's Song of Praise and Joy is the delivery of God's promise - "Jesus, Son of God, as our Savior". Will you receive this Jesus, born of Virgin Mary, to be your own personal Savior and Lord and enter into the true Joy of the Lord in this Christmas time?

If you have already done so, have you discover your calling? Will you accept and walk in it with joy and grace from Jesus. Our Jesus who saves us with His grace will also give us the grace to live out His calling on our lives to His glory which we also share.

Lim Liat (c)




2010-12-14

A Relook at the Ten Commandments

I learned about the Ten Commandments long before I became a believer. I studied in a Catholic School that required us to take examination in Religion Study. But since Jesus had saved us and there is no need to follow the Laws for our salvation, I did not pay any particular attention to it. It was considered outdated. It is in the OT isn't it?

However, since Ten-commandments were given by God to man, teaching man how to live a blessed life, we need to go back to study them. Jesus said he did not come to do away with the Laws but came to fulfill them. He gave us the essence of Laws as "Love God first" and then "Love others as ourselves".  Ten commandments actually tell us the details for loving God and loving others. It is with this mindset of loving that we take a re-look at the Ten-commandments.

In wikipedia on Ten-Commandments, we can find much details; the origins Exo 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, and the versions of the Jews, Reformed, Orthodox and Catholic Christians.

The Ten Commandments - Key Points.


Know the true God and the Lord (Exo 20:2  I am the LORD thy God) and hence
  1. No other gods
  2. No idols
  3. No wrongful use of God's name
  4. Keep the Sabbath holy
  5. Honor your parents and live long on earth.
  6. No murder.
  7. No adultery.
  8. No stealing.
  9. No false witness.
  10. No covet neighbor's
Worship of God Begins with Sabbath Keeping  The starting point of the Ten-Commandments is "I am the LORD thy God", Exo 20:2. It is about how we relate to God as our Lord. The first four shows us how to love God and ends with the good practice of Sabbath Keeping - A day separated out from the other six days of the week for resting and in particular for reflection and worship of God. A day to enjoy the creation created by God and appreciate, worship and enjoy the Creator. 

Relationship Begins with Honoring and Respecting Others
The next six commandments teach man how to live with one another. It begins with honoring our parents. It is about respecting the elders and one another. If we cannot respect the ones who give birth to us and who take care of us, how could we ever respect and live well with others? Honor parents teach us about appreciate our sources, God and our parents. It teaches us about obedience, learning from the elders, being loyal and faithful to them. These are the foundations for building trusting and lasting relationship with others. Chinese Classics places filial piety as the first and most important virtue. It matches well with the Ten commandments given by God. Filial Piety is the foundation for lasting relationship. Confucius teaches "入孝出悌“ (《论语·学而》:“子曰:‘弟子入则孝,出则悌。’”)meaning at home honor our parents and at outside the home respect others.

Once we can honor and respect others, then we shall not commit murder, not committing adultery (being unfaithful to one's spouse and others' spouses or children), not stealing, not lying or not taking others' possessions.

What about taking good care of God's creation and particularly the environment. This can be extended from not using the Name of God in vain. God tells us, in Gen 1:28, to take good care of the whole earth. Let the abundances increase and not to destroy it. This also comes from giving the creation rest , resting of the fields (covered in later commandments) or an extension of not coveting others', including God's things.

The Progress - From Exodus to Deuteronomy
Exodus is the first version, given in the early part of the life in the desert. Deuteronomy is the revised version, the second generation, preparing them to enter the promised land. Most of the wordings are the same. The slight differences show us the change in emphasis for the 2nd generation, mostly born in 40 years wandering in the desert. People that did not missed the exodus! So here are the differences:

On Sabbath:
  1. Keeping Sabbath is emphasized with "as the Lord your God commanded you" Deu 5:12b.
  2. More details on who should be resting on Sabbath - added were ox, donkey. May be man happily modify the Laws and work their ox and donkey on Sabbath. Man argued that ox and donkey are not livestock. Livestock are the chicken, goats and lambs. Man not only ignore the spirit of the Law but play with the definitions to legalize and justify their wrongful actions.
  3. An added explanation on the purpose of Sabbath "So that your male and female slave may rest as well as you". This is added again to prevent man from excluding slaves fro the day of rest. 
  4. An extra verse to remind them they were slaves too in Egypt and another reminder that "God commanded you to keep the Sabbath".  Hence we know keeping the Sabbath not only important but also man tend not to do it or cheat it.
  5. Of the 16 verses of Deu 5:6-21, Sabbath takes 4 long verses, 25%, more than any other commandment. That is how important it is. Idol has 2-3 verses.
  6. In the earlier version, Exo 20:11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day... is left out. The attention has shifted from God to Man. God set the example for man to follow but man does not seem to care. God has to make it more explicit. Sabbath is not for God but for the benefits of man. This was what Jesus emphasized. (Mar 2:27  And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: )
On Honoring Parents:
  1. Emphasized with "as the Lord your God commanded you"
On Neighbors':
  1. The order is changed - wife comes before house, field is added (in desert no one own any land, but they will own land in the promised land).
We can see that in times of abundance in the promised land, man tends to forget keeping the Sabbath, forget honoring their parents, and to covet neighbor's wife and fields and other things. Aren't these reflective of our present generation, myself included. In what Francis Schaeffer spoke of a the idols of Personal Peace and Affluence, we have forgotten about God, committed the sins that God has warned us long ago in the Ten commandments.
(Schaeffer's Personal Peace : I want to be left alone, my lifestyle to be undisturbed by anyone. I don't care what happen to others. Affluence : I want things and more things and we are busy getting more things.)

The progress, clarification of the ten commandments, reveals man's tendency of putting oneself as God and replacing the true God and ignoring the others. A study on ten-commandments will hopefully awake us once more that we are not God and not alone. Keeping Sabbath is important for us to reflect and understand that we have a true God as Father, a Jesus Christ who saved us and bring us back to God and a reminder that we are all members of the Body of Christ, and the need to bring others into this Body of Christ. Believing and receiving Christ into our lives as Savior and God is our act of acknowledgment and worship of God and in turn enables us love others with the love that Christ has put into our hearts.

The Ten-commandments are actually the principles for living a meaningful life with fruitful relationships on earth.  The world will be greatly blessed when man follow the Ten-commandments. There is a God and there are others for us to enjoy together.

See also Principles & Insights from the Ten Commandments

2010-12-13

Joy - Biblical View

Christian's character virtues are best found in the fruit of the Holy Spirit Gal 5:22-23. It is best that you know Greek to understand the attributes fully. Short of that, different translations will help. Concordance could be of help too. But I find concordance tends to give similar and broader meanings of words rather than specific and differentiating meaning. A 9 views of the Fruit of the Spirit is Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (KJV).

God is Joy
We are all familiar with God is Love (1John 4:8). The nine attributes come from the same fruit of God. So we can also said God is Joy, God is peace, God is... Hence, the Psalmists can say in
  • Psa 16:11  in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
  • Psa 21:6  For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
Do we taste such joy when we come into the presence of Jesus? If not, do we have the right mindset about Jesus and our Heavenly Father?

We can replace 'love' with 'joy' in 1John 4:7-8 to
  • 1Jn 4:7-8  Beloved, let us rejoice together, for joy is from God, and whoever rejoices has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not rejoice does not know God, because God is joy.
So, if we find ourselves wearing a long-face all day long, we can be sure that we are not aware of the presence of God and not aware of His help. We are carrying too much burden ourselves and forget to cast it onto Him (1Pe 5:7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you).

Kingdom of God is
Paul tell us in Rom 14:17 that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Interplay of the Attributes of the Fruit of Spirit
There is strong relationships among the 9 aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. Love brings peace and peace brings joy which brings patience (able to sustain in long period of suffering) and so forth. We the following verses:
  1. Pro 12:20  ... but those who plan peace have joy.
  2. Isa 29:19  The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, ...
  3. Isa 65:18  But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.
Joy is Immovable Inner Strength
Joy comes from within and is from the Lord. It is not taken away but external events but it rejoices at the right and good things (we will cover this in next paragraph). Neh 8:10 for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Joy gives hope... and the strength to move forward to the goal.
  • Rom 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
We build the strength of joy by abiding, yielding to the Spirit at all time and anytime.  Here are some verses for encouragement:
  • Recall His blessings and wonderful creation. 
    • Psa 119:111  Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
  • Let God give you the right word for the moment. 
    • Pro 15:23  To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
    • Joh 15:11  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
    • 1Jn 1:4  And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
       You make known to me the path of life; 
  • Trust in God's wisdom and promises.
    • Ecc 2:26  For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. 
  • Seek His righteousness first.
    •  3Jn 1:2  Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (John's version Mat 6:33)
Joy is Powerful
  • Joy creates big impact on people. It chases gloominess. It put calm in a tensed situations. It is a powerful witnessing power. Love takes time. But joy is contagious and immediate. Try smiling more often. Try saying kind words. Try showing a pleasing and accepting face. It makes the other more calm and makes them joyful too.
    Joy is Restored and Come when things are put right
    • Joy of Salvation & Repentance
      • Luk 15:7  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 
      • Luk 15:10  Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
    • Joy over Sorrow
      • Psa 30:5  For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
      • Psa 126:5  Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
    • Righteousness & Justice
      • Psa 32:11  Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! 
      • Psa 33:1  Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright
      • Psa 97:11  Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
          justice
      • Psa 98:8  Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together Psa 98:9  before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity
      • Pro 21:15  When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.  
    • Your Welfare
      • Psa 35:27  Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, "Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!"
      • Your dwelling/city Psa 48:1  Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, Psa 48:2  beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.
      • enjoyment of wealth: Ecc 5:19  Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God.
      • achievement: Mat 25:23  His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'
      • ask & receiving: Joh 16:24  Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
    • Friendship: 
      • Joh 17:13  But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 
      • 2Co 1:24  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. 
      • 1Th 2:20  For you are our glory and joy. 
      • 2Ti 1:4  As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 
      • Phm 1:7  For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. 
      • 2Jn 1:12  Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
      • 3Jn 1:4  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
    • Harmony
      • Php 2:2  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
    Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice. You're in God's Will.
    Php 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
    1Th 5:16-18  Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing(if you are still worry!). In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (Since it is God's will in whatever situation you are in, you will come out victoriously! Why fuss and be angry? Be joyful and enjoy the journey.)

    We rejoice every where and any where. We rejoice all the time and any time. Not because we are great but because we have the great source of Joy and Power, Jesus Christ within us. Whatever we may find ourselves in, rejoice evermore, because God make us more than conquerors.


    Follow After Joy 随喜
    Chinese has a powerful for joy "随" meaning let it be, follow after . . e.g. 随遇而安 no matter what I encounter, I live with it calmly and comfortably.

    "Rejoice always" can be translated as "随喜“ let it be and rejoice, follow after joy.
    • Be calm and joyful in traffic jams. Rejoice even when you miss your flight. 
    • Return insults with appreciation (thank you for pointing out, I will consider them carefully). 
    • Missed promotion, rejoice with the ones who got them and know that your turn will come soon with this company or head hunted elsewhere. 
    • Even not, God is the one that promote us and His promotion is always better and long lasting. We have insights that others do not know. There are higher objectives and opportunities in the situations you are in. Find them rather than focus on the disappointments and got stuck in self-pity party. Our trust and hope is in the Lord and not our bosses or the economic situations. Be the uniquely you that God has created you for. Rejoice always. Follow after JOY and be like your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    • Bereavements, sicknesses, ... know that God is with you and understand your sorrows, loneliness and fears. He will comfort you, strengthen you, and guide you out. We will see them the other side in the morning of joy.
    (note: 随喜 is also a technical term in Buddhism. 随喜功德 meaning that when you see someone doing good things like giving money, you rejoices with him and you may also join in the good work and accumulate good-rewards. It is something we can learn too. Love is rejoices at the good. But 随喜 is basically Chinese words. I will use the layman version, which means joy in every situation and time. The true meaning of Php 4:4, 1The 5:16)

    2010-12-07

    How to be King

    I have tried to come out with other suitable titles like "How to have influence over others", "The Secrets of Leadership", "The Principles to be Popular and get Support", "How to get Followers",   etc. But finally, I think I just stay with the translation of King. King means power to rule over others, not by force, but by influence to get willing and committed followers.

    The Wisdom of Chinese Classics can be summarized into four words "内圣外王", translated as "Inside Saint Outside King". In our Christian teaching, I will translated it as, "Inside Christ Outside Glory" or "Christ within and Glory without". As we live out the Christ within us, we will have the influence and the testimonies to bring glory to God. Jesus' prayer is "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." How is this done? Through all of us that have Christ within to live Christ out in our behavior, careers and lives.  This is taught to us by Paul in, using the NLT, as
    Php 2:12-16 ... Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; ....
    Or in the Message bible with a more powerful image:
    Php 2:12-16  ...Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God.  That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.  Do everything readily and cheerfully--no bickering, no second-guessing allowed!  Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night ...
    Please also see What is the meaning of Yielding to the Spirit?
    and Christian Transformation & Growth -The Unified Model ...

    For management and leadership training, we would translate the phase as “One must be able to manage oneself well first then we can manage others".  Or, "Leading others begins with leading oneself". We must be of good character and be capable first then we can lead others. If we cannot manage ourselves, how can we manage others?

    The Wisdom of Chinese Classics

    Let me also share with you the teaching of the Ancient Chinese.  The concept of the phase first appeared in Zhuang Zi 《庄子·天下篇》. You can click the link to get the English translation. The keys are:
    1. To build inner character, remember the root sources, the attributes, the truth, virtues, the ways, handling of changes, love, righteousness, manners of behavior, harmony of music.
    2. To manage the people, use laws, right jobs for right people, evidence based, careful decision making, providing for living (economic development for the people), storing, care for the old, weak and orphans.
    Confucius's Ru School has an equivalent saying, "内修外治" Developing the Inner man and then rule externally". It has a eight step process, "格物、致知、诚意、正心、 修身、 齐家、治国、平天下".The first five is for Character and Wisdom building. The last three is about rulership over family, country and the world. For details, see Understanding 'The Great Learning DaXue' in One Minute

    Wisdom and Character building begins with
    1. 格物: Study the behavior of the things, the universe, ecology, people etc. This is science and more.
    2. 致知: Gain in depth knowledge and learn from the study of things.
    3. 诚意: Sincerity. No deviation from the truth. No lying to oneself or others.
    4. 正心: Literally, square-heart. A pure, fair, righteous and peaceful heart. No evil intentions. No prejudices or biases.
    5. 修身: Development of Character Virtues. Ru School has a list of virtues. The list is similar to Christianity. Love, righteousness, balanced, pure, manners, understanding shame, respects and care for parents and elders, etc.
    Once we have developed our character and wisdom, then we can manage our family, and then our country and then the world. It takes a process, and one step at a time.

    We can see that Ancient Chinese stresses much on following the ways of God, building of character, and then creating a harmonious and prosper world.
    2Pe 1:5-9  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;  6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;  7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  8  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

    As Christians, with the Christ, the grace of God within us, could we do less? Because of the New Life within us, let us boldly live out the glory of God within that others may the Glory of God and be drawn to Christ.
    Mat 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

      2010-12-02

      Similar Verses in BIble and Chinese Classics 7 on Mouth and Heart

      This time we take a verse from a lesser known Chinese Classics 《鬼谷子》. It is classified into the group of Miscellaneous. The author is nick-named Gui Gu Zi 《鬼谷子》(Fellow of the Demon Valley - just the name of the place. His original name is 王诩). He was the teacher of the famous politicians and military strategists like 苏秦, 张仪, 孙膑与庞涓.

      捭阖: 8  ...口者,心之门户也。... Open & Close: 8 ...Mouth is the door of the heart....
      What we say come out from in the inside of our heart. When we are fearful and worry inside, we speak negative and depressing words. We say we can't. We say let's give up.

      This reminded us of what Jesus said about it was not the food that defiled us but the evil inside spoken out.

      Mat 15:18  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; ...
      (Mat 15:18  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. )


      The verse in the Classic read as follows:

      捭阖: 8 捭阖者,道之大化,说之变也。必豫审其变化,吉凶大命系焉。口者,心之门户也。心者,神之主也。志意、喜欲、思虑、智谋,此皆由门户出入。故关之以捭阖,制之以出入。

      Open and close is the operation of the Great Dao (Way of Heaven). It is the change that we need to talk about. We must carefully observe and predict the change (i.e. see the pattern of changes). This is because it determines the outcome of our lives, whether good or evil. Take note of the MOUTH. It is the DOOR of our HEART. HEART, it is the center of our spirit. Our will,  joy, desire, worry, wisdom and planning, all come in and out through the DOOR. Hence, we must guard its opening and closing, and limit what go in and come out.

      It's main teaching is - Be careful and control what you say - good or bad comes from it.

      Isn't this the same as Prov 18:21
      • (KJVR)  Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  or in a newer translation:
      • (CEV)  Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say.
      It also reminds us of what James warned us about the tongue and the Godly wisdom in James 3.

      We are and become what we say.
      Because we say what we think, and what we think is what we become as in Prove 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. We are or we become what we say. So it is extremely important that we guard what we say.


      We get what we say.
      We have this very powerful verses in the Bible Mark 11:22-23.

      Mar 11:22  And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
      Mar 11:23  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.

      Good Advices:
      1. Carefully listen to and reflect what we are saying. 
        • This is because what we say tell us much about our inner self. Are we worry? Are we joyful? Are we speaking words of faith? Are we jealous? Are we unforgiving?  Are we angry? Are we joyful? Are we confident? Are we proud? Check our inner spirit - positive, joyful, confident and trusting the Lord or the opposite.
      2. Speak only positive words.
        • Speak words of joy, encouragement, forgiveness, wisdom, beauty, blessings, comforting and assurance. 
        • Stop gossiping, cursing, and saying words of defeats, depression and bitterness. 
        • When we are tempted to speak negatively, apply the INVERT operator, and convert it to positive words.
      3. Speak of our vision
        • Speak of what we want and like to become. 
        • Speak of what success look like. 
        • Speak words of faith in Christ. 
      Previous: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 6 On Wealth from Righteousness

        2010-11-30

        Chinese Classics (I-Ching, Dao, Analects etc) and the Bible

        The Purpose
        Some brothers were concerned about my interests in and my study of the Chinese Classics (Ancient Chinese Classical Literature, now popularly known in China as 国学 National Learning). They were concerned that I may be misled. Chinese has an interesting term for those that are deeply involved in a topic, such as Qi Gong (Breathing and Meditation Exercises), and with a wrong step, could lead into 走火入魔, meaning runaway(out of control) fire and entering of or into the devil.

        This is precisely the reason that I am studying and writing these posts about Chinese Classics. The purposes are
        • to help the believers to understand the Chinese Classics and the Chinese culture better.
        • to help Chinese Classics readers to differentiate the spiritual from the non-spiritual parts.
        • Jesus Christ came to tell and to bring us back to our Heavenly Father God. He did not come to destroy our entire cultures (Every culture has within it the godly and the non-godly parts).
        • Jesus Christ is the answer to what the ancient Chinese sages were looking for.
        Chinese Classics Begin with Acknowledgment and Respect for Creator-God
        The oldest and the Classic of the Chinese Classics known as the I-Ching or Yi-Jing begins with the 1st hexagram 乾 as Heaven - the great beginning of Creation and the creative force, and with the 2nd hexagram 坤 as Earth - the created mother earth providing the environment for the growth all things.

        Ancient Chinese believed the visible came from the invisible God. All the varieties of lives and things come from the great single source of God. The ancient Chinese studied the ways of Heaven (God) and Earth and exhorted that man must follow the ways of Heaven and Earth to have harmony - 天地人合一。 It is frequently simplified into 天人合一, unity of Heaven and Man, is the purpose of man. Is not this the purpose of Jesus Christ? Eph 1:10  "as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth"!

        Chinese Classics wisdom actually begins with the fear of the Lord, God ( Prov 1:7, Job 28:28, Ps 111:10, Prov 9:10, Pro 15:33 all say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom or knowledge or insight) See Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Wisdom?. It is the Godly and Biblical kind of wisdom. Chinese wisdom is more godly than those present science teaching that does not even acknowledge the existence of God. Science explains how things work but could not provide the answers to why things work. It has no answer to what is right or wrong, and no answer for life. Science can help prolong physical life but does not give meaning to life.  Ancient Chinese Classic provides the simple answer that man is to have harmony with God and environment, loving people and leaving a legacy for future generations. This is exactly what is expressed in "Ecc 12:13  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man". In fact, when I first read Ecclesiastes I thought I was reading Chinese Classics. I have to check a few times that I was indeed holding a bible.

        What is Missing in the Chinese Classics?
        Not knowing about Jesus Christ, ancient Chinese have to rely on self to achieve the harmony with Heaven and Earth. It is man great effort of studying the ways of Heaven and Earth and then following them to achieve maturity and good character virtues. Ancient Chinese teaches self-sacrifice for the benefits of others. It is not self-denial per se like some religions. It is a pro-active concern for the people at large. Interesting, they don't spend much time on sins but more time on the right ways. There is no use telling people what is wrong. It is more important to tell people what is the right ways that people could follow.

        Ancient Chinese discovered a God of Creator of power and love. A God to be revered. A God whose ways cannot be violated or violated at our own perils. Wise Chinese, sages, try hard to reach up to God and to teach others to do the same. Unfortunately, that is a tough road to travel and not able to reach God's standards. We can see that those people character virtues are very often much better many Christians. Nonetheless, they fail God's standards. (I don't know what will happen to them since they were before Christ's time and had no Gospel preached to them. But if Enoch was taken away by God, we trust God to take care of those people who died without hearing about the Gospel.)

        天人合一要靠耶稣
        For this present time, we know the open secret of 天人合一, unity between heaven and man. It is through Jesus Christ, the God that became man to bring man to God. Having a rebirth into new creation of a Christ in us will enables us to reach God's standards spiritually and let our soul and body be developed into the mature of image of Christ and bringing glory to God through our behavior. Rom 12:1-2, 8:29. God is glorified through His body on earth, behaving like His Son Jesus Christ, i.e. that is you and me.

        Chinese Wisdom closer to Biblical Teachings
        I would boldly go one step further to say that Chinese Classics teaching of Harmony, respect for differences, integrative type of thinking is closer to the Biblical Teaching of God all-embracing love rather than a particular western type "you must be like me or else" type of teaching.

        As an example, Paul did not tell the slaves to break free from their master once they are saved. Slavery is a human made system. With a good master, slavery is good. The master is responsible for the life of the slave, including finding a wife and taking care of his children. With a bad master, slavery is bad. God's words work well under slavery or non-slavery system. It is the human misinterpretation and misapplication of Bible that creates problems. Paul told those who were saved to remain as they were. It is of the heart and not of the jobs. Nevertheless, if the slave can be free, then do it. Freed slave has the responsibility of making a living by himself. Some may not be able to do it!

        Warnings
        The Ancient Chinese Classical Literature have been extended and modified by the various religions that came after them. We can see the original Zhou Yi 周易 I-Ching has become a fortune telling book. The Dao De Jing of Lao Zi has been named a bible of some religion and with a different interpretation. The teaching of Confucius and Confucius have been deitified to become a religion and a god for worship. Hence, in the study of Chinese Classics, we need to differentiate the original source from the other spiritualized sources and distorted content.

        Isn't Bible Good Enough? Why should I bother?
        The Bible is good enough for salvation and development and everything. However, to bring the gospel to a culture, we need to understand the culture and connect to the culture. We need to tell and show them that Jesus is the answer to their pursue. To reach out to the Chinese with their culture roots (there are Chinese that have taken other cultures), perhaps we should know about their ancient classical literature to reach out to them. Show me you know me so that perhaps I can give you an ear to hear what you want to say. Of course, that is not the only way to reach out to a culture. There are other ways like miracles and healing of the sicks that draw people to God quickly without understanding the culture. But for longer term growth of the converted believers, some cultural understanding is needed.

        Update 5 July 2014
        Ancient Chinese Wisdom and Philosophies, called Sinology, are like the Old Testament of the Bible or the Tanakh of the Jews. They are books of wisdom to teach how to live rightly with God, nature, and men. The good news of the gospel is Jesus Christ, who gives us the new transformed life to live out the teachings. Right living comes from within and not by possessions of things nor by forced by external laws. 内圣外王, inside-saint then rule outside as a king, is the teaching of Zhuang Zi and Confucius.

        Update 16 Jan 2017 - God is known from His Creation
        Romans 1v20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

        Psalm 19 New Living Translation (NLT)
        1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
        2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
        3 They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
        4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.

        For related posts see Chinese Classics & The Bible Index Page
        For more on Chinese Classics and I-Ching see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

        2010-11-29

        Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 6 On Wealth from Righteousness

        In the Classics of Chinese of Classics I-Ching, there is a commentary 《文言》 on the first 乾卦 Heaven Hexagram that reads: 


        《文言》曰:元者,善之长也。亨者,嘉之会也。利者,义之和也。贞者,事之干也。君子体仁足以长人,嘉会足以合礼,利物足以和义,贞固足以干事。君子行此四德者,故曰:“乾:元、亨、利、贞。”

        I could not find the English translation with Google search. So let me translate this into English. The whole sentence is very meaningful, but let me just pick up the key phrase that is similar to the Biblical text first. It is the highlighted part of "利者,义之和也", which means, 'benefits and profits come from harmonizing with righteousness' or "business value creation comes from righteous pursuit". In other words, if we want money and wealth, we must pursue righteousness first.

        This is exactly what Jesus said in Mat 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

        If you are wondering whether this applies to the present time (as a believer, we believe that God's word hold true all the time and it is the modern man that are discovering its truth), see Guy Kawasaki's Arts of the Start video (skip to 5thmin),  in which he said, "to start a business is to create meaning", and "that includes increase the quality of life, right a wrong, and prevent the end of something good".  The new business books that came out recently and are coming continue to stress on the return to fundamental values and virtues of righteousness. e.g.  How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything...in Business, Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism and many others.

        Full Translation

        The Great Beginning 元者 is the head of goodness. The Smooth harmonious Flow is the meeting of beauty. The benefits(profits) is the harmony with righteousness. The Purity (Focused Perseverance or Discipline) is the pillar of work. Wise men exercise love to build and lead people. Beauty comes from synchronizing with good manners (rules for proper conduct and communication). Benefiting others and things satisfy righteousness. Perseverance in purity enables one to do things. Wise men follow these four character virtues - goodness, harmony (smooth flow), value creation (benefiting others) and focused purity (defect free).

        It is rather difficult to find the English words for the Chinese words and I struggle with the literal and dynamic translations. I hope you can get the meaning and enjoy the richness of the Chinese Classics. As I shared before that reading the Classics help me to appreciate the Bible better. Exposition on the Biblical text with a Chinese mindset will likely shed new lights for our understanding of the Bible and enjoy the beauty of Jesus Christ our Lord.

        DaoDeJing 81 of Lao Zi:
        The last two verses of the Tao Bible (DaoDeJing) written by Lao Zi are:
        圣人不积,既以为人己愈有,既以与人己愈多。
        The saints accumulate not. He that serve others possesses more. He that gives to others gain more.
        天之道,利而不害;
        The laws of heaven bring benefits without any harm.
        圣人之道,为而不争。」
        The laws of the saints are serving without competing.

        Previous: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 5 On Christian Virtues
        Next: Similar Verses in BIble and Chinese Classics 7 on Mouth and Heart

        2010-11-11

        History of Relationship - From God and Man to Father and Sons

        The Creator God
        It is not too difficult for man to know a Creator God. From the created world around us, we can roughly make a good guess of what the Creator is like. We can say that the Creator God is extremely wise and extremely powerful. But a key question to probe further is to ask "Is this Creator still interested in me?". There are people who believed that God after his creation leave the created things to work out for themselves. The Creator just left the scene after the creation and men are left to live or die on their own.  In time of tragedies, it does seem that our God has left and has no further interest in us.

        God as Father!
        Then, Jesus came into the scene to tell us that God is still interested in us. In fact, God loves us enough to give us His Son Jesus to die for us so that we can have the Zoe God's kind of life and to be with God forever. Jesus reveal to us that God is not just the Creator but that God is the Father to us. God as our Father is shocking concept. Not sure which religion, except Christianity, proclaim a God as our Father.

        History of Relationship between God and Man
        It is interesting to me to see how the relationship between God and man changes with time. Adam was the first man created by God from the earth and breath of God in the image of God. In only one place, Luke 3:38, Adam was recorded as a son of God. The son-ship is a loose term used to describe that Adam was just created by God. The true son-ship should be a pro-creation, a giving birth, of the same blood. Even so, Adam and God enjoyed a very close fellowship. Adam addressed God as 'you' and not as Lord or God, at least before the fall. It was not recorded whether Adam sacrifice to God but we know Adam's sons, Cain and Abel did make offering to God and hence acknowledging God as the higher One, the Creator. Noah addressed God as Lord. So did Abraham. Many descriptive names of God were used but they are more describing the characteristics of God - such as 

        God as El in :
        • El Shaddai: God Almighty
        • El Elyon:  Most High God
        • El Olam: The Everlasting God. 
        Moses received the Name of God as YahWeh (or Jehovah in some translations) and frequently translated as Lord, 
        • Yahweh Jireh The Lord will provide.
        • Yahweh Nissi: The Lord is my Banner of Victory
        • Yahweh Shalom: Lord of  Peace.  
        • Yahweh Sabbaoth:  Lord of Hosts of Army
        • Yahweh Maccaddeshcem: The Lord that Sanctifies.
        • Yahweh Ro’i:  The Lord my Shepherd. (By David in Ps 23) - This is closest to Father.
        • Yahweh Tsidkenu:  The Lord our Righteousness.
        • Yahweh Shammah: The Lord is presence
        • Adonai: God as the Master, or Owner.
        Believers are True Children (Sons of God)
        Believers that believed and received Jesus as the Son of God are born again by the Holy Spirit as children of God. (1John 3:1) Behold, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

        Believers are not like Adam. They are born of the Spirit of God and are of and is God's. John 3:5,6,8. 

        God as our Father is something we must remember. Jesus taught us to pray by beginning with Our Father ... Hence, we when come to God, we must know that we come in the role of sons and daughters of God. We are not just man, or servant. 

        Father Loves to...
        Father delights in His children irrespective of their performances. 
        He is sadden by our sins and our suffering. 
        He waits for us with open arms to receive us back to him. 
        He provides for us. He guides us. He protects us. 
        He watches lovingly over us. 
        He desires that we become like him - creating and contributing to all.
        He dances over us (as some song writer wrote).

        Children Come...
        Come to God with God as the Father mindset that we can be truly honest and transparent with Him. 
        We can truly enjoy Him without fear or guilt conscious. 
        Come to Him to experience His presence and love. 
        Pour out our hearts, our fears, bitterness, discouragements, shames, to Him. 
        Share our joy and victories, events and humor with Him.
        God is most glorified when we are most satisfied with Him said John Piper. 

        God is most satisfied when we are most glorified with Him - when we exhibits the character of His Son Jesus. This is only possible when we spend much time with our Father through Jesus in us. Let the Jesus in us grow to occupy all our being that we think, feel, talk and behave like Jesus.

        2010-10-20

        Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 5 On Christian Virtues

        What are the main virtues of Christians? What is Jesus like? We have the fruit of the Spirit described in Gal 5:23-24 as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know the 9 descriptions can be grouped, even as one word, LOVE, as LOVE is defined by Paul in 1Co 13:4-8 Love is  patient,  kind; rejoice at righteousness and truth and bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love is  not envy nor boastful  nor arrogant nor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.

        In Lao Zi's Dao De Jing Chapter 67, we have descriptions of 3 virtues of Love, Frugality and Putting Others First. Here is the details:

        天下皆謂我道大 似不肖。夫唯大故似不肖。 若肖,久矣!其細也夫。
        我有三寶 持而保之:一曰慈, 二曰儉,三曰不敢為天下先。
        慈故能勇,儉故能廣,不敢為天下先 故能成器長。
        今舍慈且勇,舍儉且廣,舍後且先,死矣!
        夫慈以戰則勝,以守則固。天將救之 以慈衛之
        My translations:
        All people under the heaven think that the Great Way (of Heaven that I preach) is useless or foolish. That is because greatness seems like folly. If it is useful, in the long run, it will be narrow and small. 
        I have three treasures that I keep with me all the time. The first is love. The second is frugality (thriftiness, self-control). The third is not wanting to be first in the world. Love enables me to be brave. Frugality enables me to be generous. Not wanting to be first enables me to perform well and become the leader.
        The people nowadays discard love and bravery, discard frugality and generosity, discard being last and fight for first, it will surely bring forth death!
        Love will bring forth victory in attack and strong protection in defense.
        Heaven will save such people and protect them with love.
         The 3 virtues corresponds to the teachings of the Bible well.
        1. Love: (Love is the Greatest)
          This is very obvious. Lao Zi added bravery with it. Loving others causing us to risk our lives to save them. This is precisely what Jesus did for us. He died on the cross to save us from the punishment of our sins. In addition, Lao Zi stress that Love always win whether in active or receptive mode. God also save and protect such people that act with love.
        2. Frugality or Self-Control in spending: (Generosity is blessed)
          Because we exercise self-control in our spending, we shall have much to give away and be generous.
          Psa 37:21  The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
          Psa 37:26  He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing
          .
        3. Not-Seeking to be First: (Servant Leadership)
          He is always thinking about others and putting others first. He is always serving others. No wonder that such people who put others first become the rightful choice of a leader.
          Mat 23:11  The greatest among you shall be your servant.
          Mat 19:30  But many who are first will be last, and the last first
        In summary:
        Love bravely, be frugal to be generous and put others first are virtues for greatness.

        Previous: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 4 On Giving to Abundance
        Next: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 6 On Wealth from Righteousness 

          2010-10-18

          Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 4 On Giving to Abundance

          Giving is a virtuous character of the believer. Giving resulting in abundance of returns is taught by Jesus in
          Luk 6:38  give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
          The last sentences of Lao Zi's Dao De Jing verse 81b teaches this too. Here is the detail:

          聖人不積。
          既以為人己愈有。
          既以與人己愈多。
          天之道利而不害。
          聖人之道為而不爭。

          My translation is:
          Wise man do not accumulate things for himself.
          The more he help others, the more he has!
          The more he give to others, the more he gets!
          The way of Heaven is always beneficial and never harmful.
          The way of the Wise is to work for others and yet claim no glory or rewards.
          Such concepts are very difficult to receive and believe by modern man in this competitive world. This resulted in some translator of Dao De Jing to include his warning that Lao Zi's teachings cannot be followed mechanically.

          As believers, because the similar verse of 'giving first and receiving multi-folds return' is taught in the Bible and by Jesus in particular, we can believe and practice accordingly.

          You will see from my posting that Biblical truth is my reference point in interpreting and learning from the Chinese Classics. The Chinese Classics often bring forth additional and finer ideas that I would have missed in the Bible. Hope you will benefit from such ideas too. Click on the Label Chinese Classics to find such similar posts.

          Previous: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 3 On The Golden Rule of Love
          Next: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 5 On Christian's Virtues

          2010-10-17

          Five Habits for Effective Christian Living

          We grow through the years. We learn more and more as we journey through life. Nevertheless, some of the old things, better termed 'the foundational things', do not change but rather gets more solid as they stand the test of time.

          I started blogging to share in May 2006, but I am believer since 1969. A key message that I preached in a series of messages in Apr 2006 is still as relevant today. It was titled "Five Habits for Effective Christian Living". I used to preach in Mandarin in those day and here is a key summary slide of the message with English and Chinese words.


          The Foundational Principle - "Abide in Christ"
          The basic principle for the 5 habits is to abide in Christ. By developing the five habits, we get to know more and more about Jesus and grow up to be like Him. (See Eph 3:16-22, Rom 8:29-30). We are transformed from the inside out. We think, feel and act like Christ.

          The Five Habits Are:
          1. Know the Truth
          2. Believe the Truth
          3. Talk or Confess the Truth
          4. Walk/Do the Truth
          5. Share the Truth (Group Victory)
          6. Resulting in the Growth in the Truth
          Here is a slide that show how the Word of Truth is internalized from the book of the Bible into our mind and deep into our hearts. It also shows how we use the 5 senses of our body to build up the inner man of the heart. Our body are not to be despised or cut off but rather be our instruments for righteousness, holiness and glorification of God. Our body is the temple of God testifying for God and impacting the world.


          Don't see thing from one point of view. Don't live life by following the fashion and hype of the day. See thing systematically. See the forests and navigate a path through the trees and live victoriously. Develop the balanced life with the 5 habits.

          2010-10-12

          "I am and I change not" - True Character

          In my previous post Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 3 On The Golden Rule of Love, we talk about "Love your enemy" and "being faithful even when others are not".

          How could we do that?
          1. Loving the one that betrayed you.
          2. Being faithful when the other is unfaithful.
          The secret is revealed in the 2nd part of the verse

          • 2Ti 2:13  if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself.

          Because God is love and God is faithful, he cannot act otherwise. True character is not changed by external things. It does don't change because others do something bad to him. The common saying that a tiger does not loose its stripes.

          God's name is the "Great I AM" and Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Jesus does not love us less because we sin. Nor does he loves us more because we do good. Our goodness or badness have impact on us and not on God's love for us.

          Our reactions then to external circumstances and to the things that our 'friends' do to us is a measure of our character. What are we made of? Of the old life of selfishness and self-centeredness or the new life and identify of Jesus Christ? This the degree of maturity with Christ likeness as the reference standard. We can look at it from the negative side - how we react to bad situations. We can also look at it from the positive side - how we behave when we are successful and wealthy. Will we be led astray to think that we achieve it and become arrogant and proud? Or will we live with a grateful heart and manage the success and wealth wisely as God's good stewards? According to the Parable of the Sower, it seems richness is a bigger test than persecution.

          The key lesson we want to learn from this
          Be true to our new identity in Christ and act accordingly from it.
          Be not influenced by what happened to us to cause us to react outside of our character.

          Loving our betrayer and being faithful are our Christ-like character and are only natural for us to behave that way.
          (note: Truth, Righteousness and Justice are also Christ's character. We love the man in the sinner and not the act of the sinner. There is the need to point out and correct with love. Love is not without justice, truth and righteousness).

          Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 3 On The Golden Rule of Love

          For Christians, the golden rule of love as commonly cited is:
          Mat 7:12  "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
          But I find that there is one even more powerful than that. It is this:
          Mat 5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Mat 5:45  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
          Among the Chinese Classics, we can find the passive equivalent of the golden rule in Confucius Saying in Lun Yu "What you don't want, don't do it to others" 己所不欲,勿施于人”《论语·颜渊篇》. Chinese manners are more passive and do not impose on others. Imposing on others is considered rude.

          Confucius was also more restrictive in the second part of 'love your enemy'.  In LunYu 14:34 或曰‘以德報怨、何如’ Someone asked,"What about repaying injury with kindness?"
          子曰‘何以報德、以直報怨、以德報德’ Confucius said,"Then how do you repay kindness? Repay injury with straightness (justice) and kindness for kindness".

          For the more powerful equivalent of "Love your enemy", we have to go to Lao Zi's Dao De Jing verse 49.

          The Chinese version is:
          聖人無常心。 以百姓心為心。
          善者吾善之。 不善者吾亦善之 德善
          信者吾信之。 不信者吾亦信之、 德信
          聖人在天下歙歙焉, 為天下渾其心。
          百姓皆注其耳目, 聖人皆孩之。 
          The wise man has not the normal heart for oneself. His heart is for the hearts of the people.
          Those that are kind, I am kind to them. Those that are unkind, I am also kind to them. Hence, kindness is gained (i.e. unkindness is transformed by kindness. A stronger translation is - that is the meaning of the virtue of kindness)
          Those that are faithful, I am faithful to them. Those that are unfaithful, I am still faithful to them. Faithfulness is obtained.
          (Bible : 2Ti 2:13  if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself. )
          Wise man consider the society and restrict and muddied his own desire.(i.e. no desire for his own)
          The people focus their eyes and ears to see and hear. Wise man guide and care for them as children. (See Joh 10:11  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . 1Pe 5:2  shepherd the flock of God that is among you)
          If we replace the 'wise man' with Jesus, it matches the Bible well.

          Lao Zi repeated this in Verse 63 報怨以德  "Repay hatred with kindness"

          I must say that Lao Zi did understand the ways of the Creator better the others including the famous Confucius.

          Previous:Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 2 On Creation
          Next:Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 4 On Giving to Abundance

          2010-10-11

          Entrepreneur Leadership - Kingdom Principles in Business

          Participated in the Chinese FGBF Singapore Kallang organized Asia-Pac Entrepreneurship Conference as speaker and audience. I learned and benefited much. Since the conference was in Mandarin, I will share some of learning here in English so that it can benefit the English speakers.

          The content presented below is my own learning from what I heard and may not be exactly what the speaker say. If there be any error, it is due to my perception. We see things with our colored glasses and may only want to hear what we like. As I am writing on the mind-map while listening, my notes are incomplete too. With that as a warning, let me share what I learned.

          From Dr Ma, learn the following keys:


          From Dr Jerry Chu, I learn the following keys:


          Dr Ian Chung pointed out that mindset of the CEO should be:



          The other topics are rather technical in nature and not shared here.

          My sharing is on innovation can be found in my mindvalue-blogs and website - BVITS Innovative Thinking Methods. The spiritual aspect of my talk is shared in this blog.

          For related posts, see
          1. Kingdom Laws & Principles
          2. Business by Jesus

          2010-10-10

          Grace Based Growth - A Balanced View

          We have short term memory and we are easily stirred and excited by the things we heard and things that happened to us recently. We so easily forget the good things that God and others had given to us. We are easily led by the latest hype. Now and then, we need to go back to the fundamental belief, to examine whether we have growth in the right way. We have to see whether this latest hype is just a fad, a recast of a lie, or a new revelation of God built on the already known foundations of Biblical truth.

          A key issue, addressed in many of my past postings, is about Christian growth and the related issue of work, performance and accountability. See for examples:
          1. Facing The Reality of Life - Continued Judgments
          Whether we like it or not, reality exists and is independent of our wishes or likings. Our lives will be judged, now by people like our parents, friends, colleagues, bosses and society, and eventually by God. Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. The BIG question is, will we pass?


          2. The Positive Answer is Ensured by Grace of God in Jesus
          The answer to the Big question has been answered by God in the positive long time ago through and by Jesus. In Jesus Christ, the answer is "Yes, we pass". We don't have to live in fear and doubt. We can live in peace and joy because of Jesus and not due to any thing that we do to earn it. It is merely by acceptance of the gift of Jesus. Hence, Paul, stressed twice, in Eph 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Eph 2:9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

          If we insist we want to do it, then our action is simply an action of faith in Jesus' word by the acceptance of the grace extended. It is simply a response of faith with thanks giving.


          3. The Beginning is the First Step - It is the Start of Growth to Glorification
          Paul did not end the 'grace by faith' in Eph 2:9, but continue with Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. It clearly shows that the grace did not end with our salvation (saved) but is to continue to complete His "workmanship". We are to continue to walk by the grace given to reach the His masterpiece(that's us) that He pre-planned long ago (Eph 1:4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world). In short, we are saved for God glorying works through grace.


          4. From Calling, Justification to Glorification
          Let me emphasize this journey of growth by quoting from Paul Rom 8:29-30 showing the stages of growth:
          • He foreknew 
            • He predestined -> to be conformed to the image of his Son
              • He called
                • He justified
                  • He glorified
          Grace is for the whole journey beginning from transformation, all the way to glorification and conforming to the image of Jesus.
          Grace is given for transformation and growth
                from being (new identity in the inside, rebirth, now 2 Cor 5:17)
                and to become (outside, image, behavior) like Christ Rom 8:29
          5. The Measure and the Ultimate Growth is Be Like Christ

          Since the ultimate state of growth is 'to be conform to the image of Christ', then the measure of growth will be "Likeness to Jesus". Do we believe, think, feel, decide and act like Christ? How often did we behave like Christ. The answer should be 'all the time' (100%) because we have the Christ in us with the enabling power of grace. But in the growth process, as children, we may be 10%-40%, as young man, may be 40-80%, and as father (80-100%). 1John 2 tells us much about the characteristics of the 3 stages and how to grow from one stage to the other.

          6. Two Common Errors on Growth

          1. Like Christ by Self Effort - leading to burn-out and abuse
            Emphasis is put on following the commandments of the Bible without the leading the of Holy Spirit. It is work for Christ and not work with Christ. It is work that I think it is good for Christ rather than getting to know the will of Christ for the moment and then work out in faith.
            (Note: reading the Bible, communication with Jesus are spiritual disciplines that are the will of Jesus for every believers. But as to when, how long, how often, it is something that the Holy Spirit will guide. It is the more the better in general).

          2. Already Attained - No growth needed.
            This group see that they are complete already in Christ and hence don't see any need for any spiritual discipline. Any discipline is seen as fleshly work. They move by inner feelings and seen anything strenuous as of the flesh, legalism and will quit. They will quit also any time that don't have the feeling as well. Suffering is not in the vocabulary as Christ has already paid all.

            They don't understand the tripartite nature of man. See The Tripartite Man, Salvation of Tripartite Man - The Details.

            For a more in-depth study, see Degree of Grace - From Grace-less to Ultra-Grace
          7. Doing Growth Rightly - The Unified Model

          We have mentioned the John's 3-Stage model above. Peter has a 8-stage model in 2Pet1 that I titled Normal Christian Life Style.

          For a more in-depth coverage, see Christian Transformation & Growth -The Unified Model

          8. Don't be Deceived, Growth Comes Through Abiding in Jesus through Obedience
          Growth does not come by being idle. Growth comes connecting to Jesus and by obedience to His words. 

          Jesus said the secret of growth and fruit bearing is abiding in Him. Joh 15:5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. See also We can do Nothing apart from Jesus.

          John reminded us that abiding is obedience. 1Jn 2:6  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 

          Evil is overcome by the abiding word as in 1Jn 2:14  ... young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

          2010-09-29

          Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 2 On Creation

          Just to continue with Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics, here is one on creation.

          Lao Zi's Dao De Jing 道德经
          1. verse 1 道 可 道 , 非 常 道 。 名 可 名 , 非 常 名 。 无 名 天 地 之 始有 名 万 物 之 母 。...
            Translated: The Way(Dao) that can be spoken off (named) is not the eternal way. The Name that can be named is not the eternal Name. No name is the beginning of the heaven and earth. Name is the mother of all things.

            No name, or the nameless, or the unknown (to man), the void is the beginning of all creation. Lao Zi  is wise to acknowledge that the Creator, the Way, cannot be named or fully described by man's words or wisdom. Any description is part a partial view of the real thing and therefore distort the real thing. It is the Unknown or Indescribable Creator that create all things from nothing.

            This is exactly when the Bible in Genesis say. (Gen 1:1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Gen 1:2) And the earth was without form, and void; ...

            If you think this is not scientific, let me point you the concept of Dark Energy and Dark Matter that the scientists now discovered their existence. Dark is used not as evil but as unknown, or cannot be seen.

            Naming of things is found in (Gen 2:19) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof. 20) And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

          2. verse 40 ...天 下 万 物 生 于 有 , 有 生 于 无 。
            Translated ... All things under heaven have their being born of. The being of existence is born of void or the unseen.

            Again, we find the Bible Hebrew 11:3) ... things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Or to rephrase in the positive sense, the seen were made from unseen thing.
          Lao Zi started with the eternal Way of the Creator that he did not know fully but caught the essential to tell us. The Bible in the Gospel of John tells us at the start that it is Jesus, the Word, the Way, the eternal life. (John 1:1) 太初有道,道与神同在,道就是神。 The Chinese version of the Bible relates well to Dao De Jing. In the beginning was the Way(Dao). The Way was in existence with God. The Way was in fact God. Lao Zi would be please the know the true Creator in person of Jesus Christ who will show him the Way.

          Previous:Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics
          Next: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 3 On The Golden Rule of Love

          2010-09-27

          Cain & Abel - Behavior of Evil

          I am very impressed with the rise of Korea movie and film industry in the late 90's till the present. It presents a fresh script and a differentiation from films of other countries. In the past, the films concentrate on violence, revenge, evil plots and sexual lusts to attract audience. They created bad influence - scheming, evil and violent. The Korean's plots, in general, stressed in righteousness, repentance and forgiveness, and creative solution to seemingly unsolvable evil attempts. It has strong historical background, beautiful scenery, and good conversation. Only weaknesses are always over-hearing of others conversations and the unnecessary jokers included to make the film funny. I did not do a research on the producers, directors, script writers. Not sure how much they are influenced by their Christian teaching. But among them, including the actors and actresses, they are a relatively higher proportion of Christians. They have very good TV serials with very biblical title like "Cain and Abel" with story line very much like the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Then there is the other one titled "East of Eden" which shows the evil empire building of some business men. It reveals that the one who give the titles are well acquainted with the Bible. It is great that they show the world that meaningful and attractive films can be made with Christian teaching, something that Hollywood started with in the very early days and somehow lost its ways. Is this the sign of the establishment of God's kingdom on earth, where the Christians take back from the world the lead roles in influencing the 7 gates or domains of a nation? They 7 gates or domains, given away by Christians in the past, are Arts and Entertainment, Business, Church & Religions, Distribution of the Media & Publishing, Education, Family and Government.

          Why was Cain's Offering Rejected?
          Going back to Genesis, Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Each of them, out of their produce, made an offering to God. Abel's offer was accepted but Cain's offered was rejected. There were various explanations for the rejection. The reasons given are reasonable but not as close to the original text as I like. It is not to easy to find good support for them from the Bible text alone. Christian writings tend to suffer from such over-spiritualization. It is good to know but not too convincing. Some cited Heb 9:22 that without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. This presumes that they are making offering to God for forgiveness of sins. The Genesis text did not explicitly state that. We have to find support for that in other parts of the Bible if there be any which we will look at later (Let the Bible interprets itself). Offering to God does not always mean killing of animals. There is the grains offering too. (Leviticus 2:1-16; 6:14-18; 7:9-10; 10:12-13) It is a free will offering that is pleasing to God.

          The Best vs the Leftovers
          The closest acceptable reason that can be implied from the text is in Gen 4:4 where the description of Abel's offering are added - the firstborn and the fat portions. This tells us that Abel took great care in the preparation for the offering. He took the first and the very best(fat) from his flocks. Since Cain's offering was rejected, we can perhaps imply that Cain's offering was the opposite, or at least not up to the standard of Abel's. Cain offered the later corps and not too good crops. It is possible that Cain kept the best of his corps for himself and gave God the 2nd or left over corps. That is also how some people give their tithes and offerings to God- their loose change. Abel put God's first and gave God his best. Cain put himself first and give God the 2nd or leftovers. It was not surprising that Abel was accepted and Cain rejected.

          The 'evil' Behavior of Cain
          1. I'm First, only First and always First. Others, even God is not as important: So, we know Cain from the way he acted - He is self-centered and God is lower in his priority. We can see that again when he bargained with God for extra protection so that he can be protected from others when he lived in the East of Eden. God is amazingly forgiving in His punishment. We should learn too - Don't over do or double punish a mistake.
          2. I'm always right. I'll never say sorry and won't repent since I'm always right. Instead of realizing his lack of sincerity towards God, he was angry at God for rejecting his offering. He was saying God was wrong to reject his offering and not he was wrong in offering of sub-standards things to God. The logic is amazing! But that is how proud people react. Try pointing out the error, even of some of your good friend. It is likely that we get a Cain's response of anger, defensive reasons and many excuses.
          3. I'll get rid of the ones that make me look bad. Instead of learning from the right people, he got angry at them for setting the standards and making him look bad. His logic is simple. For me to look good, I must get rid of those that are better than me. So, he killed Abel for making him loose his face with God. If there be no Abel, God will not know what or who is better! This is again faulty logic. But evil always has its own logic. Why was Jesus killed ? For the same reason that he made those at the top lost face. The evil ones will persecute the righteous ones. Abel was the 1st martyr of God for shining his light.
          4. I'll lie and resort to any means to protect myself. God asked Cain what happened to Abel. When God asked us a question, it was not that he did not know the answer. It was to draw and direct our attention. The first reaction of Cain was naturally and wonderfully crafted, a good spin, "Should I be responsible for my brother?". But it was actually amazingly idiotic. He was thinking and treating God like a man that could be tricked easily. Maybe that was what he thought of God and gave God no respect at all. Similarly, we found Judas doing exactly the same thing when Jesus pointed him out as the traitor. When a thief is caught red handed, he would naturally admit and seek forgiveness. Judas ran away to accomplish his intended plot!
          What can we learn from Cain?
          I can watch out for the evilness - unrepentant, cruel, and intention & plot to harm and remove us. Jesus has warned us to be wise as serpent and harmless as doves. There are such evil around us and we need to be watchful. We need lots of prayers, love and bearing of pains to try to reach out to people like that. May God give us His grace to empower us when he directs us to help people like that. Don't feel bad when you fail. Let God take care of them and let God restore you as He did for Joseph.

          Bible Interpreting the Bible - The Lights from Other Parts of the Bible
          With the computer, it is easy to look up "Cain" and "Abel" and find the other relevant verses that talk about them. The recommended FOC bible software are e-Sword and The Word.


          we can pick up the following verses:
          Mat 23:35  ... the blood of innocent Abel
          1John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.
          Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
          Heb 12:24  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
          Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.
          We find the above verses supporting us to say that Cain was the evil one and seeking his own selfish gain. He placed his possessions above God. Abel gave us the example of trusting and obeying God no matter what, even the giving up of hist life.

          I hope that you also learn to properly understand and interpret the Bible. Let us not over spiritualize things and fail to gain the practical lessons.

          2010-09-25

          Evidence Based Faith - Not Blind Faith

          To believe in Jesus requires faith. But it is not blind faith. Neither is it something that needs a lot of determination. We don't have to recite hundred or thousand of times that Jesus is my Savior as if repeated saying could make a lie to become a truth.

          Jesus himself explained very clearly in
          John 5: 36 ...For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
          John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
          Jesus wanted to look at the work that He has done. The good work, such as the feeding of thousands, healing of all kinds, and even resurrection of the dead and His dead on the cross and the resurrection. For the work, even without the resurrection, believe that Jesus is an honest and powerful man and then believe his claim that He is the Son of God. A good and honest man does not lie. Jesus' dead on the cross was because of the claim that He was God, a truth that he could not lie or deny. For that, He had to die on the cross. There is no magic here. Just follow the simple logic of reasoning.

          Finally, have you considered that it is not your faith that work the miracle but the faithfulness of God's Words. Our faith in a fantasy will not make the fantasy comes true. We believe in God's Word because it really works. Our faith is evidence based and hence it is easy, real and effective. There is nothing mystical and don't make salvation too hard. Just believe that Jesus is who he said he is from the works that he did.