2012-12-24

God will render to a man according to his work. 

In Christmas season, we stress on the love of God. The giving of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son to save the world. By why? Can't God just save everyone? Yes, God can't just save everyone by a command because God is a God of justice too. For all the evils done to us and to the innocence, we demand justice that the evil ones may be punished. We cry, why does God allow all these killings if there is a God? Yes, there is a God and God will render everyone according his work Ps 62:12. Someone has to pay for all the evils. The only one who is able and worthy is only God Himself. And that is the reason for Christmas. 
I am surprised that the meditation for this Christmas Eve is from Psalm 62. It is not about having a loving and peaceful time but rather about a time of difficulty, a time of persecution, a time of sabotage and betrayal, and a call to trust God shown by keeping silent! Keeping silent in the mean time also means we wait patiently in calmness with not bitterness and anger nor revenge!

The attacks have been long and fierce. They planned and even succeeded in bringing me down from high position. They praise with their mouths but their hearts planned evils. They are ruthless and continue to attack even one is already a slanting tower or falling walls. Evils know no limits and they will attack even if you are down. Against such evils, God want us to keep our calm and to trust Him to render justice?!

We are go back to the basic - God is both powerful and loving. He is not only willing but is more than able to save me. Therefore, God is my rock, fortress, tower, refuge and my salvation. I shall not be moved. Shall not be provoked to act out of God's will nor shall I take revenge myself. Instead, God wants me to pour out my heart to Him. Let Him comfort and assure me. He is powerful and loving and yet He is a God of justice as well. So, let me be calm and be at peace with myself and be not anger with my enemy. Because God will render everyone according to his work. God will judge the evils.

Let those evil ones repent and come back find salvation in the gift of God's Son that took away the sins of the world.

This is right time and season to escape from the wrath of God by receiving the Gift of Eternal Life Himself - Jesus Chris and have a really peaceful, silence of the heart, and a blessed Christmas Eve.

Here is the mind map for Ps 62:

Lim Liat (C) 24 Dec 2012




2012-12-21

The Parable with the Christmas Spirit of Generosity

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard is the best example of generosity. Generosity is about giving what they deserve not. Let's us not be red-eyed and complain about the generosity of others. Let's rejoice in the generosity of others and be generous ourselves.
It is generally agree that Christmas is time of giving. The spirit of Christmas is then about generosity - giving much more than what one deserves or don't deserve. Among the parables that Jesus told, which one do you think exhibits this generosity best? For me, it is "The Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt.20:1-16)".

It begins with ""For the kingdom of heaven is like" showing us that "Generosity" is the working principle of the God. The vineyard owner went out to the market at 5 different times to hire the laborers. The first one at official working time of 0th hour (likely 6 am in the morning). Then he went out again at the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 11th hour.

Two Types of Contracts.
However, there are only two types of contract.

  1. Type 1 Negotiated Agreement - Performance Base:
    1 day work for 1 day-wage (1 denarius) Mat 20:2.
    The 0th hour workers bargained for and got it.
  2. Type 2 Trust : "whatever is right I will give you" Mat 20:4
    The 3rd, 6th, 9th and 11th laborers were happy to be hired and trust the owner to pay them accordingly.
The Timings and Don't miss the 11th Hour Boat:
At first, the owner went out every 3 hours to look for the idling laborers. But at the 11th hour, he broke the earlier 3 hour interval, and try to catch those last hour laborers. God will try His best to save as many people as possible, but there is a limit. Don't miss the last hour call and invitation of God to receive Jesus as Savior. After the day has come to an end, there is no more opportunity to be saved.

The Time of Judgment & Rewards
When the day ended, it is time to calculate and pay the wages due. 
The 11th hour workers were paid first. 
Now come their big surprise - for their 1 hour work, they got a full-day 12 hour pay (1 denarius)!
Then came the 9th hour workers, and they were paid a full-day work too - 12 hours pay for 3 hours work. They did not complain because they got more than what they thought they deserved.
So the 6th and 3rd hour workers also made no complains as they were all paid more than what they put in.

Is it Fair? What do you think? Do you agree that their complain is right?
Then came those that worked for the full day. They thought that they would be paid more and should be paid more since they worked longer than the others. But they got paid the same amount as the rest, 1 day-wage of 1 denarius. They got angry and complained against the owner.

Don't Forget the Original Agreement - The Owner Adhere to the Terms of the Contract.
Most people will sympathize with the first batch of workers because we think we should be paid more for more effort. However, we must not forget that there is a contract signed earlier. The agreement was 1 day wage for 1 day work.  The owner did no wrong. He paid them as per the agreement. There is actually no basis for complains.

The Red-Eye Syndrome & Jealousy Against Generosity
The red-eye syndrome is about wanting what others has no matter what. If the other guy got 1 day wage for 1 hour work, I should get more. Gifts of generosity becomes entitlements and past agreements were negated. People with such thinking will never be appreciative because everything will be considered as entitlement. They will be watchful of what others are getting. They will be demanding, calculative, judgmental, filled with anger and full of complains about being exploited and not treated fairly enough.

Such jealousy can also be seen in the way we criticize others spending. We are so good at telling others how they should spent the money that they have earned. Jesus encountered such a man in Luke 12:13 “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” We think the guy who drives a Porsche or a Ferrari should not waste their money on such fancy cars but to give the church more or the charity more. But when we are rich enough to buy a Ferrari, will we be thinking of giving to the church or the charity? 

We should reflect on ourselves. Do we suffer from this Red-eye syndrome?

Let's be Fair - Recognize the Generosity
Let's here the Owner's view .....

  • Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? (Mat 20:13)
  • Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. (Mat 20:14)
  • Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?
  • Or is your eye envious because I am generous?' (Mat 20:15)   
The owner is entitled to spend his own money as he wish.
It is extremely good that he is generous and give more that what is dues.
Let him decide who he wishes to give to and to rejoice with those who receive his generosity.
After all, the full day workers actually got exactly what they bargained for in the first place.

God's Generosity Extends to You today and He Recovers all Your Lost Hours
The best part of the parable is the Full-Day wage for those that started work late, especially for the 11th hour worker. They could not start on the early hour because they were at the wrong place when the owner went out to look for the workers. They missed the opportunities. Some may have other problems at home so that they show up late the market. Some may have over-slept. Whatever the causes, due to us or to others, there is no need to blame others, because God is able to pay us well enough, One Full-day wage, to recover all our lost hours and missed opportunities. The only thing we need to do is to response to the God's invitation and calling immediately. It does not matter whether we have lost 3 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours, or even 11 hours. God pay us the full day wage. But don't delay as to miss the 11th hour!

Extend God's Generosity to Others
For those of us that have enjoyed and continue to live in the generosity and grace God, let us be as generous as God, and extend our generosity towards others, our family, our colleagues, our friends, even to strangers and to our 'enemies', especially in this Christmas seasons of giving. It is better, of course, for us to be always generous because our God has been extremely generous to us. God gave his best, only begotten son, to us that we may have the very best, His eternal life, through Jesus.

May your generosity brings joy to you and to many in this Christmas season.

Lim Liat (C) 21 Dec 2012


2012-12-10

Beyond God's Perfect and Permissible Wills

Going beyond the thinking of God's perfect and permissible will saves us from the stress of questioning whether we are in His perfect or permissible will. We are to know that life is both a destination and a journey. The journey is as important as the destination. The destination is our unique upward call of God for us to be in His-image. The journey is our growth process whereby we be molded into His likeness. So even in difficult times and failures, rejoice always, give thanks, and follow the leading of God to see how it works for good for you and Him.
His Perfect & Permissible Wills
When I was growing up in Christian faith, I was taught, in books and sermons, by many pastors and famous preachers, that God's will can be divided into two types --- His perfect will and His permissible will.  When we walk in His perfect will, we will be greatly bless, especially in terms of wealth, health, power, reputation and success. But if we insist on doing our things, God will give in and permit us to walk in His lesser will for us. It is called the permissible will. The result will be little or no blessings. We will have a difficult time but still not too bad or as evil as being disobedience. 

Its intention is good. It tries to encourage us to seek higher, the better, higher and perfect will of God. It explains why our life at present is not so good because we are only in the permissible and not the perfect will of God. 

Are Such Concepts True & Useful?
On reflection and from experience in life, I am not sure these concepts of perfect and permissible wills of God is true or even useful. Firstly, look at the outcome. If one follows the argument that blessings will come from God's perfect will, then we need to understand what blessing mean. Usually people use it to means good life of wealth, health, favors, etc. In which case, consider Paul. In 2 Cor 11:23-27, we find Paul was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, stoned, imprisoned and finally killed. Going by our argument, Paul was the most disobedient of all. In truth, we cannot judge a person by the outward sufferings alone. Similarly, Joseph was sold as slave, wrongly accused and imprisoned and forgotten for a few years which extended his stay in the prison. Was Joseph walking in the perfect or permissible will of God? What good do such concepts help Joseph? Was it not better for Joseph to realize that in whatever circumstances that one fine oneself , God is still in-charge and is aware and one needs to follow and uphold God's standards and trusting His care and deliverance in due time.

Using the example of marriage, one can disprove the perfect will of God. It took only one person's disobedience to spoil the grand and perfect match-making plan of God. 

Worse, even people in marriage when encountering difficult will question whether he or she had married the right one according to the perfect will of God and then divorce the other on this ground that he or she had married the permissible but not the perfect one!

Here is the mind-map that give more details ....
The Better way - Seeing God's Will as a Destination and a Journey of Life

I propose that we see God's will as a unique calling for everyone of us and a journey of life to reach that destination of our calling. The journey is but a growth through hill tops and low valleys into greater maturity and likeness of Christ. It is a journey to experience and know God in an intimate way and to grow in faith and understanding of Him (Eph 3:16-20).

No matter how tough life is God is with us - It gives us Hope.
No matter and especially in difficult and tough times, we need to know that God is with us and it is his will. We are to be aware of His presence in all that we do and be sensitive to His leading. The high top and valley experiences are all parts of His will and we are to rejoice in them. 

1Th 5:18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Php_4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Trust God that He is more than able to save us from our sins and weaknesses
We are to trust God to be able bring us to our destination despite our weaknesses and our sins. So, don't be stuck in our sins and in regrets but wise up and get up to continue this journey with God. Through hard times and failures, we get to be more sensitive, forgiving and less judgmental and at the same time learn to rely on His strength and become tougher. 

You don't need to sin to have suffering
This is not an excuse for our sinning but rather have the faith in God that God is able to save and more than recover from our sins and mistakes. We don't need our sins or mistakes to find persecution and sufferings. More often than not, it is our walk in righteousness and our refusal to compromise with the world that bring forth the attack, scorns and failure in worldly viewpoints. The sufferings and persecutions of Paul were not due to his sins but rather due to his walk in righteousness to fulfill the call of God on his life. 

However, if we do sin or make mistake, we know that God is greater than our sin, and we just need to face our sin directly, confess it and repent from it. Don't let the regrets drag us down but stand up from our fall and walk forward towards our destination that God has planned for. 

Php 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Hebrew 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus,the pioneer and perfecter of faith.... 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.


Therefore ....
So.... Yes, you are in His will for your present state of affairs. Now, spend time with Him and His Word to see what the next step that you are to take. Go on with His upward call of your life.

See also:





Lim Liat (c) 10 Dec 2012

2012-12-08

Etymology of Christmas & The Meaning of Life


Christmas is one of the seldom seen English compound words that is made up of two words.

What are the two words?

Understanding them will give you the complete meaning of your life.

Compare your answers with mine in the comment....

"Christmas" ="Christ's Mass".

Christ = Greek Khrīstos = Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), "Messiah"=the anointed one=Emmanuel=God with us

Mass= Latin missa=celebration of the Eucharist.=Holy Communion=Covenant between God and us, sealed in His blood for our wholeness as His sons.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

The Purpose & Meaning of Life
The purpose and meaning of Jesus' life is to bring us back to God.
The purpose and meaning of our life is to receive His completed mission for us and to be joined back to God. The remaining days of our life on earth is to reflect or express this new relationship to others.

Lim Liat (C) 8 Dec 2012

See also:

2012-12-06

Living Rightly in a Deceptive World

In this world filled with deceptive voices, what is so obvious and good may not be right!
The greatest deception is done in the Name of God and come from within us. Let us wise up and spend the effort and time to discern and discover the truth. And then to follow on by walking in the truth. Then we will find the true life  and joy to build up the strength to walk rightly even under crisis and pressure.
It is a deceptive world. 
What seems so right, feels so good, sounds so attractive and chosen by so many, the broad way actually leads to destruction and death! The way of life, with the narrow gate, needs to be searched and discovered. Yet even in passing through the gate, the way is still very squeezed and hard. It is so easy for us to just take the easier side-track and go off the path. Yet in following this narrow path, we find a strength, a joy and a freedom. It is not just a freedom from sins and bondage but a freedom for the good, pure, righteous deeds. It eventually leads to eternal life.

Life is a Journey of Choices
Life is a series of the choices that we made. What we are today is the result of our past choices. What we will be will depend on the choice that we make today and the actions that we take from now on.

Choose Life - Enter through the Narrow Gate
Jesus tell us in Mat 7:13-27 to choose the way of eternal life.
The gate is narrow and we need to find it. It is not the popular choice. It is not automatic nor natural for us to find it. Jesus said in John 10:9 "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture." While the gate is narrow, we have the freedom to go in and out and find rest and strength. On the other hand, what looks good on the outside and so popular, the broad gate and way leads to destruction! Hence, deception is the offer from the world and we need to learn to discern the real from the false voices.

Discern the Truth and be not misled
How can we tell the truth from the false? Jesus tells us to look at the fruits - the outcomes, the life styles of the people. Even Confucius also taught us to not just hear but also to look at the behavior of the people before you can trust them. We should not too quick to accept and follow the talk. Let us wait and examine whether their walk follow their talk. Jesus warned in v19 that the tree that bears not good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. He follows with a scary warning ....v21

Even Those who Did Great Things in Jesus' Name Enter not Heaven 
It is not just those who call Jesus Lord will be saved! They must backed up their claims with work that follow God's will. The greatest deception comes from the Church itself in Jesus' name! The deception is great because they are branded with name of Jesus. They did the following 3 things in Jesus' Name:

  1. Prophecy - Teachings, Doctrines, Messages.
  2. Casting out Demons - Display of Spiritual Power.
  3. Might Works even Miracles.
But in verse 23, Jesus said that they are workers of lawlessness or evil. Jesus said that He never knew them at all. The motivation and the power behind them, even though under Jesus' name, are not from Jesus but from the evil ones. These people are actually using Jesus' name to benefit themselves and extending their evil. They have no relationships with Jesus but know how to use the power of His name. They are the enemy within the church. They are the wolves in sheep clothing. They are so hard for us to detect. Yet we cannot go to the other extreme of suspecting everyone of our brother or sister to be them as well. Such extreme suspicion will cause troubles within the church. It is difficult to detect them early. 

Hence, the following advice will help in the appointment of leaders ---- always check references, check past records, check their presence behaviors, their friends, test them, .... and let time do the revealing --- never appoint someone to leadership position without checking and giving time measured in terms of years to try them out. See also The Con Artists and their Scams - How can you tell?

Be Wise - Do as Advised by Jesus
We only truly learn and master a subject when we do them. There is no use just listening to instructions on swimming without going for a swim. Under normal circumstances, we can't tell the strong from the weak. When crisis come, then the true strength can be seen. We build strength not by just attending churches and listening to sermons only. We must put what we hear through discernment of truth and then putting the truth we heard into practice. Truth can only be fully understood and internalized through practices and frequent practices into habits. Many habits formed out our values and beliefs make our character. It is then that the character that show us the real self. Does this real self reveal that we have Christ within? It is through our work and character that God is glorified in and through us. 

A Word of Comfort - Knowing Jesus as God is Enough to Start
Be comfort and be assured that it is the motivation, the mindset, that is the starting point for our work and that is most important. The deceptive work done in Jesus' name mentioned earlier begins without the relationship with Jesus. They are motivated by self and/or influenced by the evil ones. The criminal that was hung with Jesus on the cross did not and could not do much. Yet from the words that he said, the only thing he could do, was his acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as God. He specifically requested Jesus to remember him in His kingdom Luke 23:42. Jesus' answer was immediate, Luk 23:43  And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Knowing Jesus as God is enough to start. But don't there at the start. Continue the journey and walk in this narrow road of righteousness and the will of God that lead to eternal life and shining out for God.

Lim Liat (C) 6 Dec 2012


2012-12-04

I rejoice in my sufferings! Masochist Believers?


Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, .... (Col 1:24)
Is this a contradiction? Joy in pains!

A psychologist will point out that this is a mental illness. The author Paul is a masochist!

What do you think?

Can you resolve the seemingly contradiction and discover the greater truth?

The "Either-Or" Mindset
This is because of the western "either or" mindset thinking.
The two polar cannot co-exist at the same time.
Hence, for a contradiction to exist, there may malfunction - i.e. sickness.

The "Yin-Yang" Mindset
But to the Chinese mindset of yin-yang, both poles can exist at the same time.
For the common thinker, it is a matter of different degrees of yin and yang.
For the higher level thinker, yin-yang are attributes that belong to the same object or person. Hence, there is yin in yang and yang in yin as they both come from the same object. Both should exist at the same time without contradiction.

Resolving the Contradictions
To resolve such seemingly contradiction, we must think at the next level of depth or dimension. Chinese philosophy stresses on 天时 地利 人和 of timing, position(space) and harmony. The Russian Problem Solving Method TRIZ tells us the way to break contradiction is by space and time too. Movement through space over time gives us direction or purpose. We should question this then.

What are the reasons for joy?

1) The reason is "for your sake" - because you can be better, you are my joy, I willingly suffer.
We know that my suffering is temporary but your growth, your betterment, will last.
v28 shows Paul's objective ... presenting everyone mature in Christ.

2) Christ empowers me: I am not suffering alone, I have Christ within me(v27) providing me the strength (v29).

v29 is a classic and powerful truth that enables to overcome and stand no matter what....

For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.  (Col 1:29)

The greater truth: 
Joy & Suffering can co-exist and in fact in the presence of one we get to know the other better.

For a student, after studying very hard and passing the exam, we feel great joy our accomplishment.

In a bereavement, we are sad for the departure but are comforted for the better place that they went.
We learn to treasure those around us more.

After a serious sickness, we learn to appreciate life more and live better.

Even Steve Jobs said, "Death is the best invention of life". In face of death, what are the truly valuable and meaningful become clear and we are grateful to know and work for the true meaningful life where we get the joy and satisfaction.

We can share the famous Chinese words on crisis 危机 - which is a combination of danger 危 and opportunities 机. There is opportunity in any danger and there is danger in any opportunity.

There is joy in pains and in pains we can find the joy. Our
There is pain in joy as we want to share our joy with those in pains and we know that our real joy have been obtained for us through the pains of the cross that our Savor and Lord Jesus Christ.

Lim Liat (C) 4 Dec 2012

2012-12-01

The Con Artists and their Scams - How can you tell?

The ancient word for "Con Artists" is "False Prophets". Their scams are the false doctrines that they preach to trick people to give of their money and time to enrich these false prophets. The Bible warn us in many places about them. We are to discern and judge any prophecy or doctrine that claimed to be of or from God. They play on our desires and greed and are extremely successful.

One such popular doctrine is the "Prosperity Gospel". It is an extreme distortion of the word of faith. It is so easy to misuse the promises of God and to make God our genie to get all the nice things of life that we desire. The Prosperity God  财神爷  has been worshiped by the Chinese, especially on New Year Days, for many years. Be sure that this Prosperity God is only worshiped and liked because of the money he can give. He is actually a slave to those that worship him. It is an economic transaction of exchanges between worship and blessings (usually of money). The gospel of Jesus Christ, in a Chinese culture like mine, has the natural tendency to become the prosperity gospel with Jesus as the prosperity god that was told to me by an European friend.

Here is a good message shared with me on the Prosperity Gospel The Prosperity Gospel Message by Dr Paul Choo.  It gives a good summary of the main teaching of the prosperity gospels. Some quotes from the sermon include ... (See Prosperity Gospel - Learning from GLCC Dr Paul Choo)
  • "This is not Christianity. This is not the gospel. This is a scam. Period. Using the name of God.
  • Let's not go to the other extreme .... James 2:5, abundant life is not a fat wallet. The right place is God. ....Don't reduce God to an idol to give money.
  • 1Tim 6:17-19 God give us wealth to do good and share ....bless others. ...."
While I don't fully agree with all he said, it is worth listening to someone with a different view. So enjoy and reflect on the sermon and form your own conclusions.

Older writings on this topic of "false prophets" are equally applicable and useful for identify today's Con Artist misusing the Name of God. Of course, they won't be called Con Artist, but are addressed as Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Evangelist or some other pious title. They are in our gospel community and use the name of God and Jesus Christ. That is why it is very deceptive. Here is a good book "Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices" by Thomas Brooks. It was written about 400 years ago! There is a chapter on false prophets that I summarize with the mind-map below:











The pattern is quite clear:
  1. Appeal to your desire (actually greed or lust). Tell you what you like to hear.
  2. Scorn and despite those true teachers. These true teachers will prevent them from deceiving you. So they will say that their doctrines are either wrong, or out-dated or ineffective.  Times have changed and the true teachings are no longer relevant. 
  3. Ignore the real Truth. Take text out of context. Give a 'modern' interpretation of the Biblical text. Their authority is still and must be base on the Bible but their interpretation and extension are wrong. Imitation must look like the real thing in order to cheat it.  
  4. Have their own Persuasive Story and Doctrine to replace the truth to win you over. Get testimonies to show and prove that their doctrines are right and effective. 
  5. The true motive is actually to make money out of you and enslave you to work their cause, oops, their scams.

Lim Liat (C) 1 Dec 2012









2012-11-30

The Key to Happiness - Just One Word

The secret of happiness can be found in one word:

< righteousness >

To make it clearer, it is:

< do the right things >

To make it even clearer, it is:

< do the right things and don't follow evil >

What are the right things?
< the moral laws, e.g. Law of God. >

When?
< all the time.... focus on it day & night.>

The Outcome?
< Give fruit at the right time and do well no matter what .>

Who say it? Where is the authority for us to believe it?

The Bible, Psalm 1

Let us use the 'Bible In Basic English BBE' translation:

Happy is the man who does not
  1. go in the company of sinners, or < choose your friend wisely >
  2. take his place in the way of evil-doers, or <watch your ways and steps>
  3. in the seat of those who do not give honour to the Lord. <revere God. Be accountable and responsible. There is a day of judgement for all. see v5>

(Psa 1:1)

But whose delight
  1. is in the law of the Lord, and <the what - God's Law is for our success & happiness. There are not joy killers as the devils want you to believe>
  2. whose mind is on his law day and night. <the when-always & focus on Phil 4:8 true,honest, just, pure, lovely, good, praise-worthy .... > (Psa 1:2)

<The Outcomes of the Righteous >
He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, <foundation, the source is key .... joy is from within and not depend on external circumstances> See  also The Secrets of True Happiness

which gives its fruit at the right time, <not all the time - there are seasons of life   joy+sadness can happen at the same time. >
whose leaves will ever be green; <but always healthy, joyful, pleasant>
and he will do well in all his undertakings. <the Midas' touch!  >  (Psa 1:3)


The evil-doers are not so; but are like the dust from the grain, which the wind takes away. (Psa 1:4)

For this cause there will be no mercy for sinners when they are judged, and the evil-doers will have no place among the upright, (Psa 1:5)  <there is an eventual separation of good and evil>

Because the Lord sees the way of the upright, but the end of the sinner is destruction. (Psa 1:6)

For more, please listen to Tim Keller's message on http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/search-happiness

That was David's formula for happiness.

Here is Jesus' formula
The Behavior of His Kingdom People - Mat 5:3-12

A mind map is reproduced here:


Lim Liat (C) 30 Nov 2012

2012-11-24

Spiritual Warfare - Learning from Tim Keller

Spiritual Warfare is a key topic that all believers should need to understand to have victory in his walk in the Lord. Tim Keller preached a great sermon on this topic. Here is a mind-map that I made from the message that I hope capture the essence of the devil's schemes and the ways to overcome them. Hope you can benefit from it.

In particular, the devil's method and power over us is through lies. He tempts us with lies, telling us the fun and pleasures and hiding the true harm and evil. He accuses us with lies, telling us that we are under condemnation and undermining the love and power of the cross of Jesus Christ. Please go through the 'talks' that the devil tell us. See which ones we easily fall for and let us wise up and talk precaution instead of falling into them again and again. Please note Tim's warning that when you manage to handle a few well, Satan will switch his tactics again.

Finally, the best cure for all these is to abide in Christ or yielding to His spirit. See 

Lim Liat (C) 24 Nov 2012

2012-11-12

Your Last Message - A Reflection on Life

If you have but a little time left to live, what shall be your last message to this world? What would you say to your loved ones, your friends and even society at large? What is this simple legacy that you want to leave behind? Now that we have some time,  it may be good that we ponder over this question. Here are some thoughts of my last message:

You are more than what you see
1. You are more than just your body - of flesh and blood, of mind and body. You are firstly a spiritual being that live in a physical body through which you make your presence in this world. You will live on when your spirit leave your body behind. Where shall you go and where will you be after this physical death,

Jesus came to show us God
2. You must get to know Jesus. Jesus is God coming into our world in our likeness of flesh and blood so that he can tell us about the true and loving God, the creator of this universe and of us.

You are not an Accident but a Masterpiece
3. Through knowing Jesus, you will learn that you are not an accident nor of the will of man. You may think that your parents had given birth to you. That is a fact. But many couples wish for baby and they could not have any. Your parents could have given birth to someone else. Hence, there is a very unique purpose for you be born where, when and from whom. See You are a Masterpiece Created in Christ.

Find out Your Unique Calling
4. The meaning of your life is about knowing Jesus and find out your unique calling and living that calling out. After this life on earth, you shall depart and join your parents, relatives and friends in heaven with Jesus.

Live the Meaningful Life Now with Eternal Perspective
5. Even so, your life on this earth is important and meaningful; otherwise, you will be taken out immediately and to be with Jesus in heaven, There are wonderful things, of joy and even of sorrows, of victories and of disappointments, of intimate relationships and of separation, for you to live out with an external perspective of Jesus and His love for you.

Jesus is with you in the Journey of Life on Earth

  • "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" John 16:33
  • "He hath said I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). 
  • "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
  • "Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am" (John 17:24).
  • The Most Comforting Verses in the Bible John 14:1-4

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ― Helen Keller

I have completed my last message for the time being. Will add more in future if I discover any more things that are of utmost importance.

What is your last message?


Lim Liat (c) 12 Nov 2012

2012-10-29

I Don't know but I Know & Trust Him

There are many things that happened in the this world that we don't know why and how come. But as believers, we do know Him, and know enough to trust Him, and to follow Him. In this VUCAD world where nothing is for certain and everything so confusing, it is very important that we go after things that are of eternal value, follow values that changes not, stick to a guide that is wise and that is Jesus Christ.

The Sunday message preached by pastor Jack was "Don't Know". There are many things in life that we have no answers for. We don't need to prevent that we know. We just have to trust the One who know all and is in charge of all. It triggers further reflections and thoughts. They are shared in the mind-map below:


As Paul said in 2 Tim 1:12, when in was in prison, suffering for the cause of Jesus Christ, he knew about this Jesus that he believed and was fully persuaded that He would ensure the work committed to stand in the judgement day fire... 1 Cor 3:13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

Hope you can go through the mind-map carefully and be encouraged and to know the way to live in this challenging times.

Lim Liat (C) 29 Oct 2012

2012-10-10

Angry with God? Know that He is with you

We are angry with God when He disappoints us - He could have saved, prevented, provided but He did not. We thought He was not there when we needed Him most. But the Bible clearly tell us that whenever we are in trouble, He is there with us to be ready to deliver us. We need to see that and co-operate with Him. A simple act of co-operation is just to wait quietly and watch His deliverance. Our anger is really a triggering point for His presence with us. Don't let the devil instigate us to think He is not there. Cast your faith on Him because He is faithful.
We are at times angry with God because He could have and He did not. Such times as bereavement, bad accidents, lost of job, sickness, betrayals, failure, rejection, etc etc.

In the many places of the Bible where we find "God is with us" kind of verses, we also noted that those were times of great difficulty and challenges. Here is a mind-map that list those verses of God with us and the difficult situations.
Joseph was sold as a slave to an Egyptian master. Gen 39:2 recorded specifically that at such at time, God was with Joseph and Joseph became a successful man, taking charge of his master total business. In Gen 39:23, this time Joseph was in prison though falsely accused. Joseph should be most angry with God because he was not only innocence but because he acted righteously according to God's laws and for God! Nevertheless, Joseph held on to God and trusting Him to deliver him. It took years. But in the meantime, God was with Joseph and Joseph, though still in prison, took charge of the affairs of the prison! Ishmael was a boy struggling with his mother in the wilderness.

Gen 21:20 recorded for us that God was with the boy and the boy grew up to be a somebody.

When the young man Joshua took over the leadership from Moses to lead the more than two millions of people, Jos 3:7 assured Joshua that God would be with him as He was with Moses.

When the Jews were in exiles in Babylon, God sent His words that He was with them in Isa 41:10. God assured them that He would bring them through water and fire without harm.

Paul assured us in Rom 8:28-37 that nothing bad that happened to us was beyond God's love for us. God will be with us through the troubles victoriously as more than conquerors.

Peter assured us that if we ever suffered for righteousness sake, such as Joseph, we will be blessed and we needed to fear not. Any suffering because of Christ is blessed because the Spirit and the glory of God rests upon us, 1Pet 3:17, 4:14.

In John 16:33, Jesus assured us that His presence in us gave us peace. He had overcome the tribulations of this world.

The pattern is very clear :

Troubles -> Presence of God -> Deliverance -> Glory to God

Our anger is really a triggering point for His presence with us. May we come to God even in our anger to pour our heartaches, frustrations and bitterness to Him. Know that He is there to listen to us. Know that He is able to take us through our troubles and enable us to stay with it and come out of it victoriously. But the key for all these to work is to trust and co-operate with Him. Our co-operation with God may just be simply abandoning ourselves to Him and just keep quiet and watch His deliverance. He may also give us the peace, give us the guidance, send forth His people to help and guide us. Whatever, put our trust in God and may His peace, even beyond our understanding, keep us focus on Jesus our Savior and Deliverer.

Don't let the devil instigate us to think He is not there. Cast your faith on Him because He is faithful.

Lim Liat (C) 10 Oct 12

i-Ching or YiJing and the Bible

Is i-Ching biblical? It depends on the version of i-Ching that you read. In the original and undistorted version of Zhou Yi, it is very close to the Biblical Teachings: in terms of objective - harmony with God, men and nature; in terms of values - righteousness, love and blessings. In terms of repentance - to follow the right path to blessings and much more. i-Ching teaches us the how to have peace and Bible gives us the answer - Jesus Christ through whom heaven, earth and men get the harmony.
What is i-Ching (易经 YiJing)?
i-Ching is an ancient book compiled over the centuries starting from as early at BC3000 and finalized at roughly BC1000, 周易, the generally accepted and commonly referred to version. It is the classic of the Chinese Classical Books of wisdom. It is the foundation of Chinese philosophies.

The Meaning
The title, literally translated, is the "Change Bible", or the "Bible on/of/for Change". It is a thinking mindset with a data base of change-patterns for enabling people to live in harmony with heaven, earth and with one another. It is purpose is the unity of heaven, earth and men.

The Objective of Unity of God and Man
Heaven (天 tian) to the Chinese, means more than just the sky, but also means God, the Creator God of all things in heaven and on earth. So the objective of i-Ching is unity of man with God and with the environment. This is exactly the same objective as the Bible of uniting everything in Christ. Ephesians 1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth in Christ, the God incarnate in man and for man.

i-Ching shows the How and Bible gives us the Answer - In Jesus Christ
So we see that i-Ching tells us the how to achieve harmony with God and the Bible gives us Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of harmony that man could not do so by himself.

The Values of i-Ching

I-Ching begins with the recognition of the God of Creation and give it as the 1st hexagram of 乾 - also known as 天  God of Heaven, creative power. i-Ching principles are derived from the working of God as exhibited in the creation. The 2nd hexagram is called 坤, also known as 地 earth and represent the mother earth of love and care for the growth of all things.  From this Creation and Love comes the different combinations of virtues that make up the total of 64 Hexagrams.

A quick overview of i-Ching is shown in the mind map below:

 

We know its highest value is harmony of Heaven(God), Earth(Nature) and Man(People). It aims to achieve good fortune or bless represented by the Chinese word 吉 ji. It means abundance flow of and interaction of diversities. Its values are righteousness, purity, fairness, justice, balance, faultless as can also be seen in the word-cloud in Word Cloud of I-Ching.

Repentance and Good Fortune
In Outcome Based Strategies from Ancient Chinese-The Principles from I-Ching, we can see that i-Ching teaches us to seek after truth and righteousness. Repentance 悔 is a key concept and value of i-Ching. Any deviation from the righteous path will lead to fault, a cause for remorse, a danger, or a worst case of disaster. Hence, repentance and a correction will help us to avoid the disaster or the danger and bring us back to benefits, progress and good fortune or blessings. If we just be remorseful and blame our faults on others, it will bring us to danger and to disaster. With such teaching, we get a better understanding of repentance of the Bible. Repentance is not just being sorry for one's wrongful act or sin, but need a change of behavior and attitude into the righteous way.

For more articles on i-Ching, please look up Ancient Chinese Wisdom.

I hope you get a good understanding of i-Ching and be opened to its teachings. You can read it with the Biblical perspective and be enriched in wisdom.

Lim Liat (C) 9 Oct 12.

2012-09-26

The BIG Difference: Righteousness by the Law or Relationship


The Uniqueness of Christianity is God's Righteousness by mere acceptance and not by effort of following the Laws. It is our choice to choose to be adopted and be re-birthed into the Family of God. But it is just the start of our new journey to fulfill the original purpose of God's creation of uniquely us.

Php 3:9 BBE  And be seen in him, not having my righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

We can rephrase the above to give clearer comparison:

... not having    my righteousness     which is   of the law,
          but      God's righteousness    through    faith in Christ.

Th BIG Differences between Religions and Christianity

1. By Effort: My trying vs My Acceptance of Christ.
    i.e. To Do vs Done; Stress vs Peace; Insecure vs Secure Eternally

All religions, except Christianity, preaches salvation by following a set of laws to be good and righteous. If one generation can't do it, then take several generations until one makes it say some religions. 

There is nothing wrong and there it is correct to try to be righteous and good. 

But to attain complete righteousness is an impossible thing. We could not even be sure that my one sin can be paid back by my other good work as some religion would like to have. The one hurt by my sin is usually not the one who benefited from my good work as some religions also encouraged. 

2. By Kind:  Man's righteousness vs God's righteousness
Even if ever, one makes it, it will only be one man's righteousness, the righteousness of the man type. So, where will it lead that one man? Will that solve the problem of death? It may stop the re-incarnation of just that one man. Will that qualifies that man to enter heaven? Will heaven be a lonely place of just a few? 

So we find that our righteousness by performance of following the law is either near impossibility or of no use because it is only man's kind. 

Paul considered his righteousness through the law as a Pharisee is not any worth at all when compare to the other kind of righteousness, the righteousness of God.

Righteousness of God's kind qualifies us into heaven to be with God and God's kind of people. Because we need to change man's kind into God's kind, man is re-birthed, born again, in the spirit, to become a new creation of God's kind. This rebirth takes place when we believe and receive Christ as Son of God and His death payment for our sins. It is not our effort and there is nothing to boast unlike the by law way. 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

From Performance to Relationship
Righteousness of God kind is by relationship and not by works. A child is automatically love by his/her parents. The new babe did nothing but cry. The parents give him/her all the tender care willingly. If you say the child earns it, he/she earns it by being born, even without his/her choice, into the family of relationship. But now, whether we want to be in God's family and be adopted as His child is our choice.

What then is the Law for?
Paul tells us that the Laws is for us to know our sins and our needs for God. The Laws also reflect God's character. Hence, Jesus did not come to do away with the Laws but to uphold and fulfill it by taking of His righteousness and giving to men. Anyone that is born of God will, by the new birth, automatically want to do things that not only fulfill but surpass the Laws. Love is more than not harming. 

But Salvation is Just the Start and not the End
However, salvation is just the first step to complete the original plan of God for man. Most people like to quote Eph 2:8-9 and forget about v10. 

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We are saved for good works!

That is also why Php 2:12-13 tells us to work out the moving of the God within. God got within by our salvation and we need to respond to the new birth by living out what is of the inside. 

Philippians (NIV)
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling 
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

People Changed because of Hope - Force will only cause temporary adherence
The good news of the gospel is then you get a better righteousness, the God's kind rather than man's kind, and without your stress and hard work but by just believing in Christ.

We can change the behavior of some one by force or by triggering a change of heart.

You will find people usually change because of a better hope.

The best example found in the Bible is the Story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-9. His repentance comes when Jesus told him to come down from the tree because he was going to stay at his house. Acceptance and Hope work better than threats. This is the good news that we have.

Your Choice
Which do you choose, your own man type of righteousness by effort or God's righteousness by faith in Christ?
Do you want to try or to be sure ?
Do you want to hold on to God's hand or let God holds on to yours?
Do you want to be adopted into God's family?

Lim Liat (C) 26 Sep 2012

2012-09-23

Feet Washing is not about Washing Feet

Jesus set the example of washing feet and now people are encouraged to wash feet to show humility and servant-hood not knowing humility is not about showing and washing feet in today environment has no meaning. So 'feet washing' is not about 'washing feet' but about not associating tasks with honor or glamour but with needs and doing the needful things even as a leader.
Jesus set the example for washing his disciples feet in John 13:1-7 (See Bible Study John 13:1-17 Servant Leadership - Real Meaning of Feet Washing.).Now people, especially the Chinese Church (Chinese culture has a big emphasis on 礼仪, the right manners) are encouraged to wash one another feet to show humility or servant-hood.

But if we wash feet to show humility then it is really an act, a real wayang(wayang is a Malay term for a show, now popularly used in Singapore English) show of false humility because humility is not in showing off! Humility is power packaged in gentleness. It is having ability or resources but not showing off, serving without claiming credit, giving without advertising, or quietly contributing. For more on humility, see Christianity Rediscovered: Kingdom Discussion 12 Law of Humility ... and Christianity Rediscovered: Humility is Forceful Too.

'Feet washing' is then not about washing feet,  but about 
"doing the needful but lowly, non-glamorous task that no one want to do". 
Task has no Glamour or Honor Associated - Only with People who want to Show-off
Needful Task has not honor or dishonor associated with it.

A truly humble leader will do it because it is needful and not because it is honorable (which will have lots of people running for it).

We can find such behavior of people in church rushing to serve for the on-stage tasks, the speaking, the chairing, the singing, the music playing. Much less people wanting to do the back-stage unnoticeable tasks.

If we have such a honor and no-honor classification of task, it is only natural that the non-honor tasks that got neglected and no one want to do it. Jesus was trying to break such a worldly mindset from being served to serving others. The greatest is the one who serve. In serving, there is only right and needful things to do and not honor or no-honor things to do.

So, "Feet Washing" is not about "Washing of Feet" but about doing the needful things even as leaders quietly.

2012-09-19

Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 13 Shame & Boldness

Knowing Shame is Close to Boldness?

Confucius has the following sayings, 子曰:
  1. “好学近乎知,like to learn is close to wisdom/knowledge,
  2.  力行近乎仁,diligent in doing is close to love,
  3.   知耻近乎勇   knowing shame is close to boldness    
A main question that I had with point 3 is "What has shame got to do with boldness"?
The answer can be found by looking up the saying Mencius.

The Confucian School (Ru Jia 儒家) have two main gurus. Besides the founder Confucius, there is Mencius. A key teaching of Mencius is in "Mencius Four sprouts(beginnings)".

Actually in the original Chinese, it is 四端  Four Extreme Points. The extreme can be the beginning or the end. Hence, it is better to translate it as key points.

孟子四端 Mencius Four Key Points:
  1. 恻隐之心,仁之端也;compassion/kindness is the key of love       
  2. 羞恶之心,义之端也;shame of evil is the key of righteousness      
  3. 辞让之心,礼之端也;giving way is the key of good manners (proprietary)  
  4. 是非之心,智之端也。discerning of right and wrong, true of false is the key of wisdom
We can easily find many verses from the Bible that are similar to the teaching of Mencius. We can take the famous quote from Paul on Love in

1Co 13:4-7  Love is patient and kind(point 1); love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  5  or rude. It does not insist on its own way(point 3); it is not irritable or resentful;  6  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing(point 2), but rejoices with the truth(point 4).  7  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In this post, I will just address "Shame and Boldness". For a more in depth study of Shame please see Sense of Shame is Good but Staying in Shame is Bad.

Back to How is Knowing Shame Bold?
The answer is given in Mencius' 2nd point, knowing shame is the key of righteousness.
If we join the two together, by replacing shame with righteousness in Confucius' saying, we get righteousness is close to boldness. Or a righteous person is bold.

The Righteous is Bold
There is famous Chinese saying related to this. It is "平生不做亏心事,半夜敲门心不惊", those that do no evil and have a clear conscience will not be afraid of the knocking at mid-night.

In the Bible, we get exactly the same saying as the righteous is bold. It is Proverbs 28:1 The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

I hope you can see from this post that Chinese Classics and the Bible are alike and knowing Chinese Classics help us get a better grasp of the Bible and vice versa.

For more related posts see Chinese Classics & The Bible

Lim Liat (C) 19 Sep 2012

2012-09-18

The "Older Son Syndrome" from the Prodigal Son Story

Most normal people will side with the Older Son of the Prodigal Son Story and think that the Father is unfair. That is because we subscribe to the same philosophy of life as the Older Son. That philosophy is "Everything must be earned". The value of a person is in how much he can contribute. If we fully subscribed to this and this only then while we may be very hardworking, setting high standards and successful, we actually live a very stressful life. We tend to be very critical, unforgiving, self-righteous and proud. Our critical and forgiving attitudes apply not only to others but also to ourselves making us internally very insecure, unhappy, worry and grumpy!

The Prodigal Son Story can be found in Luke 15:11-32. Much have been said about the Prodigal Son and the forgiving and loving father. Some new insights can be found in New Insights From the Prodigal Son Story - Comfort to Parent with Wayward Child. In this post, we shall be looking at the Older Son.

The Behavior of Older Son
The mind-map below captured the acts and sayings of the Older Son.

It tells us much about his philosophy of life. To be honest, when I first read this story, I actually sided with the Older Son. Their Father while loving and forgiving was overdoing his forgiveness of the younger son. The Older Son has been faithful and hardworking whereas the younger one has been wasteful. He should have very rights to be angry. In the eyes of the Older Son, the Father was really not fair to him and seem to be very strict and over demanding on his children. That was because I also subscribed to the philosophy of the Older Son.

The Older Son Syndrome - "You Must Earn It - Your Value is dependent on Your Performance"
The mind-map below show the philosophy of the Older Son.

It should be familiar to us. We use terms like "There is no free lunch", "Meritocracy", "I earn it", "I am a self-made person" etc. Not that performance by itself is no good. On the contrary, performance is good and desirable. But life does not consist of performance, or self-independent performance alone.

True Life is not just about self but about relationship of love, joy and togetherness with others and with God. We are created to have fellowship with God and others. Thereby we must have love and harmony with others.

Hence, while the world may teach us that, acceptance=performance= must earn it or else,
In God's view, acceptance comes not from performance but from relationship, as between God and man, Parent and Children, and among Friends. True Love, the foundation of relationship, is unconditional and you do not need to perform to earn it. You just have it and you will not loose it by your lack of performance. That's the kind of love that God has for us. Rom 3:20 while we were yet sinners (very very bad performance of disobedience and rebellion), Christ died for us to save us. God want us believers who received this unconditional true love to extend to others too and break free for gaining acceptance by performance (1 John 3:23).

If we believe in Acceptance or Value = Performance, then our starting state is 0, no acceptance and we work hard to gain it. This is what the Older Son fell for. He thought he needed to earn his father love by being obedient and hard working. Starting at zero acceptance, he is insecure and dare not ask for goat to celebrate with his friends in case his father disapprove. It is not that his Father is not loving, it is only that he believes wrongly. His younger brother has no worry about his father love. The younger son boldly ask his father to give him the money prepared for him. The younger son does not at first believe in performance. He only believes in it after he has lost the fortune that his father has given him. Then he revert back to worldly logic for working as a servant. But this wrong belief was blown away by his Father upon his return. His father makes it doubly clear by giving him Ring (besides the cloths and shoes) and have a big installation as son party. The emphasis is , relationship of acceptance comes not by any performance but by the love of the greater one.

When we truly know that we are loved and fully accepted before any of our performance, then we are secure and we can do even better. We do it with joy and excellence. We are not jealous of other or of their performance. In fact, we will even help them to perform better than us. We are loving, forgiving and encouraging and in short, we are joy filled.

Here is a 2x2 Matrix on Acceptance vs Performance that summarize the different worldviews. Choose the worldview you want to operate in:


Let start and live life this way --- from the position of acceptance and we perform to bring joy and glory to God and others. We will be happier and a nicer person to be with. May God bless you with this understanding of His love for you.

Lim Liat(C) 18 Sep 2012

2012-09-11

Sense of Shame is Good but Staying in Shame is Bad

Sense of Shame is a God given voice of our conscience. The voice of right or wrong. It is meant for us to know our wrong doing and to repent immediately. However, staying in shame is bad. Jesus bore our sins and shames that we may be without shame. God's forgiveness removes our shames. Our sense of shame is for us to steer clear of shames. Do not use the shaming technique on our children because it will damage their self-worth and identity. Using it on adult seems ok but prolonged use looses its shaming effect. Be aware also that people may falsely accuse us to shame us. Bible tells us that when are wrongly persecuted for doing the right thing then there is no shame. 
What is, & More Importantly the Why of Shame
If we just look up the definition of shame. We will get the definition that shame is a painful emotion caused by strong sense of guilt or embarrassment. It is telling us the what of shame. Like Science, it does not tell us the 'why', i.e. the purpose. For the purpose, we need to check up the Bible. The shame feeling comes after Adam's sin and not before. Shame is the feeling one gets when we commit a wrong or we fail to live up to standards.
The Purpose of Shame is for us to Know we have done Wrong and that we may repent.
The Ancient Chinese Philosopher Mencius said that "Shame of Evil is the beginning and ending of Righteousness".  See also  Chinese Classics & The Bible

To know more about shame, I have the Mind-Map below. Please go through the map in details and hope you benefit from it.
God does not want us to stay in shame. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay for our sins that we may not longer be in shame and be tormented by shame. Remember that we always have a loving God that we could approach for mercy of forgiveness and grace of empowerment to live a shame free life (Heb 4:16).

Nevertheless, in this world there are evil. The evil will want to falsely accuse us and will want to shame us to prevent us for doing the right things that glorify God. The Bible assured us that there is no shame to be suffering for Christ and for righteousness sake. May God deliver us from all such wrongful accusations and vindicate us. He will trust in the Lord will not be put to shame. His enemies will be put to shame.

May God bless and lead you into a victorious and shame free life.

Lim Liat (C) 11 Sep 2012

2012-09-05

New Insights From the Prodigal Son Story - Comfort to Parent with Wayward Child

What makes a good parent? He must love and train his children. Was the Prodigal Son's father such a good parent? Yes. Besides the love that we see clearly, his training had kept the prodigal son to work for living despite the lack rather than be a cheat or a thief. He also done other good things that we could learn as parents. Parents who love and train their children should not condemn themselves if their child should one day become rebellious. Pray and trust that God's words taught to them will bring them back one day as the Prodigal Son. 
The story of the Prodigal Son(Luke 15:11-32) is probably the most well know. Many sermons have been preached from it. It is the story of the great love and forgiveness of the Father. The greatest joy for a loving father is the return of his way-ward son. "My son was lost but is found, was dead but is alive!". The preceding parables of the lost sheep, and the loss coin are about "be more joy over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luk 15:7" and "there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luk 15:10.

Besides the loving father and the repentant son, some preach about the self-righteous elder brother. Some even preached about the third son, the one who told the story. He is the perfect Son of the Father who came to die save sinners like the brothers. 

Was the Loving Father is Good Father? How do we know?
There was no doubt about the love of the Father. But was he a good father? How can a good father raise prodigal son? 

What is a Good Father? He must provide and train his children.
For a Chinese, a good father must "教养", i.e. teach and provide for his children. Chinese Classic used for teaching the children, known as the "Three Words Bible" (see Understanding The Chinese Mindset in One Minute (Based on Sang Zi Jing)), has the following saying:

养不教,父之过。
Just feed and not teach is the wrong doing of the father.

教不严,师之惰
Teaching without discipline is the laziness of the teacher.

In the Bible, we have the need for training and discipline children as a father. Heb 12:6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Proverb 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Did the Father trained his sons?
The elder son certainly showed that he was well trained. He was hardworking and was obedient to his father (Luke 15:29).

What about the younger son? Did his father train him?

My answer is a positively yes.

Why? He did not cheat but to work for his survival.

Big Reason 1: Because despite his hunger, he never thought of stealing but only thought of working to earn his foods even as a pigs-keeper!

Reason 2: He ventured out to try on his own. May be a bit too early.
Unlike his elder brother who stayed at home to work for his father, this younger son has the guts to venture out and try to make it on his own. This shows three things the father has done for him.

One is to provide a secured and loving environment so that his son has confidence.

Two, the father must have been encouraging him to try out if he wish. The father is willing to let him go.

Thirdly, the father provided funds for them.

Even in today modern world, parents save to prepare a college funds for their children. In the Jewish traditions, parents also prepare funds for their children to start out on their own. I think this is the fund that the younger son asked for and not what some commentators claimed that the money asked for was the inheritance and said the younger son was very hurtful to wish his father earlier death. I offered two reasons that it was not the estate. Firstly, the estate of the father included much land since the father had many servants working for him. The music and dancing for the celebration were quite loud (Luke 15:25) that the elder son asked what was it about before he even joined in. It would take many days to sell the lands and cattle to raise the money. But in Luke 15:13, "not many days later", the son went off. Secondly, the father claimed in v31 that what the father's was his. If the father had given to the son, he could not claimed ownership. Knowing that the elder son was a calculative fellow, I am sure when the younger brother took his portion, the elder son would also had taken his. Furthermore, it was his, the elder son would not complained that his father never gave him a goat for celebration.

What was the sin of the Prodigal son? 
He squandered his wealth recklessly (15:13). He grew up in a good environment and did not understand the cunning world outside. He probably ventured out too early, when he was not fully ready and mature, against his father advice. It was likely that his father offer him to have some master servant to help him along. But he rejected. He was too eager and to proud to go off. He was not wise and did not do proper risk management. It was most likely that his wealth was cheated away and very quickly too. The money squandered on prostitutes was an accusation of his older brother. This claim was not substantiated. It may or may not be true. He was too ashamed to go back to his father after he had lost it all.

Comfort for the Parents - Trained them well and let them go.
While parents provide and train their children, there was no guarantee that the children will always be good all the time. Some children may want to venture out like this prodigal son too early against parents' advices and get into all types of troubles. It was no fault of the parents if they had done their part. They have to trust the Lord's word in Prov 22:6 that when he is old he will not depart from it. The prodigal son will one day come to his senses and return home. Parents can pray for them and just be ready to welcome them back when they return. God's words instill in the children heart will guide them and guard them.

Lim Liat (C) 4 Sep 2012

2012-09-03

Happiness and the Temptation of Jesus

The Temptation of Jesus teaches us to accept what God's Words say about us and not let ourselves be defined by external happenings and people. We are beloved child of God and need not seek happiness outside. We dare to explore and compare with others, to discover, to learn and to help, making it a better place for all. But that must begin with our acceptance by God inwardly and then we express outwardly. Happiness that depends on external is very unstable.

The Crux is "What defines your identity and worth?"
There are many useful lessons for life in the temptation of Jesus. See The Temptations of Jesus for some of the details. This crux of the matter is where is the source of your faith. To put it in another way, who or what define who you are.

The Devil Wants You To Rely on External Happenings
The Devil want you to use the external events to define who you are. He wanted Jesus to change the stone to bread, to jump from a height to prove that Jesus was the Son of God. A unenlightened mind will say, what's is wrong with that, just do it and we shall know.

Jesus Wants You to Trust and Accept What God Says about You.
Jesus, instead, wants us to know who we are by the Word of God. We are what God say we are. There is no need to prove from external events. Once we have faith in God's Word, the evidence will come naturally. The importance is the sequence of thing. God's Word first or the people, devil or external happenings. Jesus knows that He is the Son of God. There is no need to change the stone into bread and then realize that He is indeed the Son of God. He is the Son before the miracle. There is no need for Jesus to prove His identity or worth. He is fully established in the Word of God. Jesus in fact, did much greater work that just changing a stone into bread. With two fish and five loafs of bread, He fed five thousands men. On another occasion, He fed four thousands men with some fish and bread. When the need arises, Jesus shows the people that He is Son of God. He is the Son first and then the miracle come. In term of protection, He calmed the storm and He just walk away when people tried to stone Him (Luke 4:30). In terms of glory, He healed the sicks and raise the dead. He died on the cross that the whole world can be saved. He was resurrected and conquered the devils and death. He is seated at the right hand of God above everything. He is the King of Knigs and Lord of Lords. There is no name higher than Jesus whether in Heaven or Earth (See Ephesian 1).

In a Godless Worldview You Get Your ID from External Happenings as the Devil's Wish.
If your world view does allow the existence of God, then what are the possible sources available to you to define what and who you are? You have to follow what the Devil wanted .... be defined by external happenings.

Sociology 101 tells us, "I am what I think you say I am"! We get our identity and our worth from what others say about us. It is therefore not unusual that we become people pleasers. We buy into the 'Performance Trap'.  We must perform to earn acceptance. If performance is a requirement, then there is the possibility of failure. Hence, we fear that we could not do a good enough job to be accepted. We will try to cover-up and if not successful, we do the blaming act.

"Happiness is Don't Compare with Others" - Said the World without God
Because our worth is defined by external things, our well being comes from what happens to us. Our well being is therefore very unstable.

If you read books on happiness, one of key tip is "don't compare yourself with others".   When you compare yourself with others, you will tend to compare with those doing than you. You look at external things of more wealth, bigger cars, bigger house, better clubs etc. What make us more frustrated is when we see those less capable than us doing better than us. Some are born with silver spoons. Some are born prettier and so forth. The Chinese has a popular saying, "人比人气死人", "Comparing one another will make one so angry to cause one death". Comparison makes us angry or jealous. So the advise is not to compare.

In Christian Worldview - Your ID and Worth Secured & You have Joy within
However, if you have the Christian Worldview, then you have a God that loves you. You have Jesus who dies for you and give you the right to become a child of God. You identity is God's child. Your worth is the love of God and the price of God's only Son. You are eternally secured. No one can take away your identity and the love of God for you. You don't have to depend on external events to make you happy. You are already happy because you are loved and accepted.

We Compare to Discover, Learn and Help others
We are freed to compare with others. We are grateful and happy for those who are better than us. We can learn from them. We can discover the strengths of others. We are not jealous of them because we are uniquely created and loved by God. We may also find that there are people not doing as well as us. For them, we can help them.

Conclusions - Be Secured Internally and You are Eternally at Peace
If you are ever tempted to get your worth and happiness from external things and people, please remember the temptation of Jesus.  Place your faith on His Words and not on the eternal events and people.

Lim Liat (C) 3 Sep 2012

2012-08-23

The Meaning and Cycle of Life from Psalm 23

Connecting the verses of Psalms 23 and you shall discover the meaning, journey and ending of life. Read the details to know how to live a full life without regrets.
Psalm 23 is usually read in funeral services and written on tombstones.  In funeral services, we are reminded that the departed is now in heaven with the Lord forever. On the tombstones, due to the limitation of space, only the first half of the verse, "The Lord is my shepherd", is usually written and telling us that the deceased has been a believer.

Expositions on Ps 23 are frequently done in parts. While each verse of Ps 23 is rich in meaning, putting them together and seeing them as a sequence of events in life is even more meaningful. We shall do that in this post.

Connecting the verses show us that Ps 23 provides us the answer for:
  1. What is the meaning of life?
  2. How do we live this life?
  3. Where do we go after this life?
Here is the mind-map of Psalm 23 and showing Life as 3 stages of the beginning, the journey of up-down-up and a ending of eternal blessedness.


1. Meaning of Life - Knowing God as Father thru His Son Jesus
Our life is about knowing God. Not just knowing God as the creator but knowing God as our Father. David considered himself a sheep and see God as his shepherd. 

Jesus came to tell us and show us that God is our Father. God is a personal God that relates, care and love us and not an impersonal God of power and called the Source in many books.  Jesus prayed in John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they should know thee(Father v1) the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ (the Son v1)." 

 John said in 1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 

Life begins with Knowing God as a shepherd to his sheep. As a father to a child and as a shepherd to his sheep, the Father loves as show in providing, protecting, caring, developing, guiding and blessing his child. Such loving acts are shown in the journey of life in the next few verses.

2 The Journey of Life - the Smooth, the Valleys and the Celebrations
Life journey begins with God providing a good environment for our development. As we mature, God will lead us to greater challenges, even in times of great difficulties. Such difficult times of persecutions, betrayals, disappointments are but trails to develop our faith and trust in God. We need to know in such times that God is still with us. While we may not be aware, God is keeping the enemies out with His rod and pulling us back from dangers of falling into pits with His staff. Those times are, but shadows, look like and feel like, but not the true death. Death is kept away by God already. Lift up your head and press on, always keep in the path of righteousness and you shall see the breakthrough. There is a pay-back time from the Lord in front of our enemies - those who persecuted, betrayed and scorned at us. The blessing and promotion of our Lord is beyond our expectation --- the anointing oil, the cup overflows.

3. The End is but Beginning in the House of God Eternally
When we come near to the end of our this life journey, we can reflect and know that this is but a life full of God's goodness and blessings - even through the valleys. We are please that we have lived a meaningful and worthy life. We are looking forward to and shall be received by Him into the eternal dwelling with Him and with our friends and family members who have gone before us.

If you want a good ending of life. A life without regrets. Then begin your life with knowing God as your shepherd of life, or more simply, God as your heavenly Father that you can follow His will and calling for you. Start now and live with no regrets.

Update 11 June 24

We can break it into 6 stages of life and they corresponds well with I-Ching #1 Heaven 6 stages too.