2014-12-21

How to Do Year End Review Well? Shut & Open

The Christmas season is typically a time of reflection and appreciation. In order to move forward well in the New Year, we need to learn to shut the door of the past behind. Our New Year hope should not be dragged down by the past events that slip out from the unshut door. Looking forward and letting go of the past is the key to a better life.
Listing to this morning Ravi Zacharias' pod cast leads me to do a search for the essays written by F W Boreham. Not only did I find the original essay "Please Shut this Gate!" quoted by Ravi, I also find another post by Ravi that is related to this, "Prayer for a Future Me."

I think that these two, shutting the past gate and futuring should be done together. Looking forward helps us to shut the gate of the past. Even so, we should carefully do each stage, the shutting and the opening well.

Shutting the Gate Properly
The following passage quoted from "Please Shut this Gate!" , are important in helping us to do a proper shutting:

  • 'When he was on his death-bed a clergyman went to him and asked him if there was anything he would like to say or any message he wanted to deliver. "No," answered the doctor, "except that through life I think I have always closed the gates behind me!"'
  • If the decision was sound, why question it? If the decision was doubtful, the sooner it is forgotten the better. Why torture yourself dwelling upon it? The horse is sold; the house is bought; the contract is signed; the situation is declined; the step taken cannot be retraced. A wise man will firmly and finally shut the gate. It is the better way.
  • There are thousands of things behind me of which I have good reason to be afraid; but it is the glory of the Christian evangel that all the gates may be closed. It is grand to be able to walk in green pastures and beside still waters unafraid of anything that I have left in the perilous fields behind me.

'What lessons could we learn from this?' is a key question to ask about our past. We may want to write them down that we may have a proper closure. There may be nothing for us to learn as in the example of the acceptance or rejection of seemingly better job offers. We just need to know to trust God and accept that our present situation and our future are in the hands of a loving God. If He allows it, it is good for us and shut the gate (Rom 8:28).

The Chinese has a saying on the eight suffering of life and 'inability to let go' is the eighth suffering of life.  See Eight Sufferings of Life and the Gospel.

Painting the Future
Looking at the future helps take our eyes away from our past. What do I plan to become? What has God lead me to become? In the passage "Prayer for a Future Me.", Ravi wrote that some of the futuring were prayers of anxiety and are still link to the unclosed past ...as in:
  • "While I like to think of these mental notes as prayers for the future—and many of them are—many of them more closely resemble a listing of fears, an anxious warning at what I might forget or what might go wrong. Though I am looking ahead, it is as if I am still looking behind me."
Our hope is in the finished work of Christ, as Ravi wrote:
  • “It is finished,” forever offering a door to shut, forever promising the strength to shut it. In this New Year, one can say in hope and in light: Christ has gone before us, he walks among us, he is our rearguard, he is our strength.

Paul shows us what are the important things to plan for into the future:
  • Brothers and sisters, .... But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. --- Philippians 3:13-14
May we draw strength from the completed work of Christ to shut our past, item by item, and bury them. May we also draw hope that the resurrected Christ is walking besides us into our future to bring us into what He has created us for.

Have a joyful Christmas seasons and a blessed New Year 2015!

Lim Liat (c) 21 Dec 2014

2014-12-11

Eight Sufferings of Life and the Gospel

To Chinese, there are the four sufferings of life, namely, birth, aging, sickness and death. Some added four more sufferings for living on this earth, namely, separation in love, long lasting bitterness, unanswered desires and inability to let go. See how the Gospel explains the origin, understands the present and provides the answers through Jesus Christ's cross and resurrection.
Here is the mind-map that summarizes the sufferings and the answers from the Gospel:


Lim Liat (c) 11 Dec 2014



2014-10-29

A Positive Reflection on Ecclesiastes - The Meaningful Life & Follow Your Heart

Know the reasons for a meaningless life and then discover the reality and principles for living life to full. With His principles within you, you may follow your heart, enjoy every minute of life and leave for the better world without regrets at your time of departure from this earth.
Ecclesiastes begins with "Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "completely meaningless!" (Ecc 1:2 NLT) but ended with "That's the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone's duty." (Ecc 12:13, NLT) and the reason is "God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. "(Ecc 12:14, NLT).

Life is Meaningless when it is just about Me and it ends in nothingness at Death
Life is meaningless when we put ourselves at the center and life is only about us. Then, the biggest problem is that our life on earth is limited. We may be able to stretch it, from 70 to 80 to 90 or even to 120 years as some preacher claimed. But eventually, the end will come and we will be no more. Hence, while the earth goes in cycles of sun rise and sun set, seasons over the year, they will continue on even when we are gone.  The world goes no without us. We are not at all important or meaningful to the world. Even when we are alive, the continue pursuit of wealth, glory, pleasures, knowledge and other external things does not satisfy us. When we have them, we reach the state of so what. Meaning cannot be found in the possession and accumulation of things. And when death strikes, all the great possessions that we worked so hard for will be handed over to others who have not worked for them. It is meaningless again.  The sufferings, the injustice, the unfairness, the sickness all add to the meaninglessness of life. Why should we let suffering and injustice upset us? Because, deep inside our heart, we yearn for good and ever lasting life. We have a strong of sense of justice and love for the bullied. We know that life is more than us and our limited span on earth. The author of Ecclesiastes discovers that there is the Creator God and life is meant to be everlasting after all.

Reality: Life Has Meaning because there is God and There is Life after Death
The last verse, "God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. "(Ecc 12:14, NLT) tells us a few things:
  1. There is a God.
  2. He will judge everything we do while on earth.
  3. There is life after death to face the judgment of God.
  4. The outcome of the judgment determines our life after death.
Hence, the recommendation for how to live this life on earth is: 

Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone's duty.

with the following implications:
  1. Know the God that created us and everything.
  2. Know His commands for us.
  3. The Purpose of Life is to obey God's commands.
  4. Obeying God's commands in this life will bring satisfaction and fulfillment and thereafter a good life after death.
  5. What if we fail to obey His commands?
    1. We will suffer in this life because His commands are for our good life.
    2. We will suffer punishment after this life.
  6. Is there a way out of our mistakes in this life? Is there any assurance for our life after death?
    1. There is no answer from this book. But we know Jesus Christ came in the New Testament Times to save us from our sins and to give us a new eternal life by His death on the cross and His resurrection from death to give us the assurance. Whoever believe and receive Jesus Christ shall be saved.
Live This Life to the Full especially in your youth
Ecclesiastes started depressively, but it ends with a positive note. 

Young people, it's wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. 
Do everything you want to do; take it all in. 
But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 
-------Ecc 11:9  NLT

Hence, all young and old, know God as early as possible. Know His commands well for His commands are the principles and laws for success without regrets. Follow and live out His commands for a fulfilled life on earth. When the day comes to leave this earth, you may have angels to come and escort you to the next world of everlasting goodness with God, our Creator.

The Know-How for Living a Successful Life:
Ecclesiastes contains much wisdom for the young man to learn so as be successful in life. It warns the youth not to waste their life so that there be no regrets when one is old and weak. (Ecc 12 contains a long list of the weaknesses of old age). Here is the mind-map:




Lim Liat (c) 29 Oct 2014

For the full study of the book see 

2014-10-10

Confucianism and the Temptations of Jesus

The temptation of Jesus Christ can be best understood with the Confucianism's virtue of 礼Li, the right way of behavior for the right time and situation. Devil's power of temptation is to appeal to your right intention but get you do it in the wrong way and situation.
As a young christian, I have much difficulty in understanding the temptations of Jesus as recorded in Luke 4:1-13 and Mat 4:1-10. My point then was why Jesus just don't do what the Devil said to show his power and shut the devil's mouth? I was too foolish to understand the deeper implications of the actions and easily fell into the devil's trap. Here are two posts written in the past to show the true meaning of the devil's temptations. The key point is that our identity should not be defined by external circumstances but purely by faith in the Word of God.
Some preacher suggested that the temptations of Jesus can be better understood as "Doing the right thing in the wrong way." or "The right motivation but the wrong method". One must not only have the right intention, but he must do it in the right way so that the intention can be clearly expressed and received. Confucianism has a word, a virtue, that describe this. It is called 礼 Li, meaning good manners, or the right protocols of behavior in the right time and situations, so as to ensure there be no misunderstanding.

It is commonly taught that Confucianism (The Ru School 儒家) have five virtues of 仁 love 义 righteousness 礼 good manners 智wisdom 信 rustworthiness. In going through the literatures, 勇 bravery and 严 strick discipline should also be added. We may have love and want to do them rightly. But how can we express our love to another rightly? The answer lies in Li, good manners or protocols. This is especially important in this multi-cultures world. For a Chinese, giving roast piglet is a gesture of showing great honor and love. However, pig is not accepted in the Jewish and Muslim cultures. We cannot just give roast piglet to them. It would be taken as an insult. Hence, we can see that having the right intention is not good enough. We must look at the receipient cultural and values view point so that we can express our love in the right way. For Chinese, 'do unto others what you want do unto you' is actually overly imposing. How can I presume that he also wants what I want? I need to find out first, subtlely is best. Then I need to find out what is the right way to show it.

Coming back the temptations of Jesus. What is right way to express the right internal intention?
There is no need for Jesus to prove to the devil who he is. Jesus already know who he is. At the same time, Jesus took the opportunity to point out that God's Word is as important as our daily food. There is no need to prove God's Words by doing silly things to violate God's established order. God's protection will surely come at the right situation and time. Jumping from tall tower is not such a right situation. The way to acknowledge our God is to worship Him above all other things. Someone said that if God is not the Lord of all then He is not the Lord at all,

Hence, let us know 礼 Li, the right thing to do at the right time and situation so that we are not easily tempted and trapped by the devil or the world. 

Always ask, yes, it is a good intention, but is it the right way, at the right time, under the right situation?

Lim Liat (c) 10 Oct 14

2014-08-15

Christians are Fated too - To be Like Christ

When a Chinese meet up with a tredegy or a great disappointment, his friends with usually comfort him/her with words like 命中注定 translated as fate or predestined. There is nothing you could do about it and it is definitely not your fault. No one is to be blame. It is just fated or predesignated. The concept is equally applicable when a great fortune or success happens to others. "They are just born lucky". That's their fate, lucky.

In the Bible, Romans chapter 8, where Paul was comforting the suffering believers. He begins with

  • 8:1, there is NO condemnation. 
  • 8:14 They are sons of God, 17 heirs of God, 
  • 18 the suffering cannot be compared with the glory to be received, 
  • the famous v28 ALL things work for Good because v29 they are PREDESIGNATED to be like His Son v30 and be Glorified. 
There is the process to glory, the path through suffering in v17b if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

So, the Bible is very clear, we are not suffering for the sake of suffering but rather, the suffering is but temporary, the path to glorification.

You are destined to be great like His Son Jesus. All things, the good and bad, no matter how bad, cannot stop this process of our growth to be like His Son and enjoy His glory in us. This in the inner hope of faith that gives us peace in spite of the suffering or of the success that our peace is not dependent on external circumstances whether good or bad. Our suffering is that Christ may be formed in us (Gal 4:19).

You are fated or predestined to be glorified in Christ and not for suffering or in riches but to be like Christ.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Aug 14

2014-07-10

To Answer or Not to Answer ? It all depends, on What?

Aseemingly contradiction in Proverbs 26:4-5 reveals much wisdom about what a real fool is and the need for us to answer, even our own folly, that we may not be proud in our own folly and pride.
There is a seemingly contradiction in Proverbs 26:4-5 as follows:
  • Pro 26:4 Answer not,  a fool according to his folly,    lest thou also be like unto him.
  • Pro 26:5 Answer,        a fool according to his folly,    lest he be wise in his own conceit.
The first portions are exactly opposite. 
The middle portions of the two verses are exactly the same. 
The last, third portions are about you and the fool.

So, are the verses in conflicts with each other?
The answer is no.
First part is the action - answer or not answer.
Second part is how to answer....must address his folly.
Third part is the consequence ... either you become like him or he stay as fool yet thinking he is wise.

The choice is ours to choose.

If we choose to answer not his folly, silence implies consent, so we are perceived to agree with his folly and then we will appear to be like him.

If we choose to answer, addressing his folly, we must be smart enough to convince him of his folly, then he will realize his folly and not conceit.

The call seems to be for us to answer the folly, but we must do it wisely. If we answer not, the fool remains in his folly thinking he is wise. If we answer rightly, the fool can be taught to be wise and someone is helped.

The big question is then shifted to HOW we should answer.

The verse provides two clues:
  1. Address his folly. i.e. Understand the rationale of his reasoning to reach an foolish conclusion.
  2. He must be convinced of our answer: Our reasoning must be able to point out the errors, the illogical, the non-factual, non-realistic part of his reasonings, showing the folly. 
Stephen Covery's habit 5 Seek first to Understand and then be Understood is then a good guide for us to answer the fool.

Albert Einstein gave us new light with his statement, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them". Fool may not be what we usually think of them as uneducated. Actually, fools could be highly educated Ph D's that are trapped in their own biased and prejudiced mindset. In the world of science, as science progresses, we can see that there are many foolish scientists all through the years. They used to think of the earth as flat, the universe as unchanging and proudly hold on and even persecuted those who actually know better. In man's early space flight, we read that the man who flew into space and said he did not see god there! (  For the corrected story, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Gagarin). 

We can see how folly works and the only hope is for us to find the right answer to answer even our own folly. We must always remain humble to learn and to reflect of our possible baised and prejudices and to hold on to the truths that we have learned. Then, we may be freed from the trap of folly.

Folly is then not lack of intelligence, but rather, a belief in something that is untrue, illogical and still holding on strongly to the lie or defective reasoning.

Lim Liat (c) 10 July 2014

2014-05-30

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Wisdom?

There are many verses in the Bible that speak of "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom". Why is this so? What is this wisdom with fear of God? What about the wisdom that has no God in it? What are the consequences?
For a good and correct understanding of a passage, we need to follow the rules of Hermeneutics.
One rule is to stick to the original language of the text.

Rule 1 Use the Original Language
The best understanding is to be found in the original language of Hebrew for the OT and the Greek for the NT. But since I know neither of them, I will use a concordance instead. Another way is to read multiple translations of the Bible. Here is the Prov 1:7 with strong concordance:

Pro 1:7 The fearH3374 of the LORDH3068 is the beginningH7225 of knowledge:H1847 but
foolsH191 despiseH936 wisdomH2451 and instruction.H4148

BDB Definition:

fearH3374
1a) fear, terror
1b) awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)
1c) fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety
1d) revered
beginningH7225
1) first, beginning, best, chief

knowledge:H1847
1) knowledge
1a) knowledge, perception, skill
1b) discernment, understanding, wisdom
wisdomH2451
1a) skill (in war)
1b) wisdom (in administration)
1c) shrewdness, wisdom
1d) wisdom, prudence (in religious affairs)
1e) wisdom (ethical and religious)
instruction.H4148
1) discipline, chastening, correction
1a) discipline, correction
1b) chastening



Rule 2 Context
Any verse must be interpreted in its context. So the surronding verses are important too. For the key verse of Prov 1:7, let see the other verses.

Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Pro 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Pro 1:9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.


An extension of this context rule is to let the Bible interprets itself. To do that, I look up the verses where 'the Fear of the Lord' occurs and below is the mind-map that show many of the related verses.

Rule 3 Let the Bible interprets itself: Related Verses on "Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom"
Definition and What of Wisdom:

1. Believe in the Existence of God - The Creator of All (Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 
2. Fear as respect, worship and to obey God.
3. A moral standard or instructions or commands of right and wrong. They are used for corrections and discipline. As holiness in Prov 9:10, turning away from evil in Job 28:28.
4. Following of the instructions will result in blessings. They are like crown and necklaces that beautify us as in Prov 1:9. They are the duties of men as in Eccl 12:13.
5. The foundation, the basic, the first, the beginning, the source of wisdom is Fear of God.

Why Fear of God is the Foundation of Wisdom?
By implication, any wisdom or knowledge that does not acknowledge God is not wisdom or knowledge. Godless wisdom or knowledge are then
  1. lies. 
  2. evil.
  3. with consequence of ugliness, dishonor as opposite to crown and necklaces of Prov 1:9 (other parts of the Bible tell us the Devil comes to steal, destroy and kill. The punishment of evil is eternal hell etc).
  4. those who have such denial of God and instructions are called fools.
Without God giving the moral standards of right and wrong, then everything becomes relative and essentially there is not right and wrong. A society without any absolute standard of right and wrong will eventually leads to chaos and destruction.

See for example the saying of famous atheist Dawkins :  In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. (Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995))

For  more , Ravi Zacharias podcasts are highly recommended. See Secularism and the Illusion

Lim Liat (c) 30 May 2014

2014-05-02

Training of A Child According to Proverb 22v6

Proverb 22:6 is a key verse in the training of a child. Among the translations read, there are two main groups that put emphasis on different aspects of the training. The majority of the translations stresses on the content - the way he should go. A smaller set stresses on knowing the character or personality traits of the child and train accordingly. Which is the correct translation, the content or the method? I propose that, firstly, we look at the original Hebrew and secondly look elsewhere from the different but related part of the Bible to form a good understanding. An important part is to look at the New Testament teaching on this topic. This is about letting the Bible interpret the Bible rather than imposing our own learning into the interpretation of the Bible.

Note: This is a good case example of how to interpret the Bible correctly.

Below is the mind-map that summarizes the discussion:

The Teaching:

1. The Content [of the training]:
The majority of the translations is as follow, choosing ASV as an example:
       ASV Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.  
The key points are:

  1. training is needed and should start as early as possible ... when he is a child.
  2. the content of the training should be focused on the way he should go.
    Other relevant parts of the Bible tell us the 'way' is the commandments of God.
  3. the benefits: even when he grow old he will still follow the ways he was trained since young.
    i.e. Character formation begins as a child and will last through his life. It must begin as early as possible.
    Implication: as we grow older, it will be more difficult to correct a habit or behavior.
    The Chinese says that the parent responsibility for their children is 教养 teach and feed. Giving food and care for the child is just one of two responsibilities of a parent, The other key responsibility is to teach or train the child. A person that misbehaved is said to have no family teaching and is taken as an insult. For more on Chinese Chinese Words Make You Smarter.
2. The Method 
The other grouping of translations stresses on the training method. One subgroup just say they should be trained rightly but is unclear as to exactly how and that leave much to the imagination of the reader. Another subgroup makes it clearer, should be according to the character, traits and ages of the child.

The AMPlified Bible translation combine the both concepts of training content and method together.

Which Version is the Right One?
The original OT Bible is written in Hebrew. So we should go back to the original Hebrew text for understanding. Best is to have a Hebrew scholar to explain it to us. Next best is to go by the concordance such as Strong for each individual Hebrew word and see we can make sense out of it. It we just use the Hebrew words to form a sentence, it is very much the Classical Chinese 文言文 of which I can understand well.

Going by the Hebrew words, I am for the 1st group that Prov 22:6 is about the content of the training rather than the method of training. The method seems to be left to parents to decide according to their times. e.g. many now use computer or iPad to train their children. However, training is more than just teaching. Behavior and character formation depends on the mind (teaching of content) and of the Will and motivation of the Heart. Hence, the other parts of Proverbs talk about 'Discipline' even with using a rod.

New Testament Version:
Another way to have light shed on this issue is to consult the other parts of the Bible, especially the New Testament. We find Paul's writing in Colossian and Ephesian that address this as shown in the mind map above. There are three things to look up for in the training or dedication of a child to the Lord.

1. Content: 
  • instructions of the Lord.
2. Discipline:
  • Training is for behavior and character formation. The child needs to be monitored and correct as and when necessary.
3. Provoke Not. 
  • How do we not provoke the child, especially in the disciplining?
  • We must know the character or traits and age/maturity of the child. Some child is very sensitive and will know the meaning when his/her parent changes the tone of voice. Some child is not and may need stronger means of correction such as a canning. If we overdo the disciplining, some child may be so discouraged that they give up while another may be so angry to rebel in the future.
Lim Liat (c) 2 May 14

2014-04-21

The Seven Shedding of Jesus' Blood & Our 7 Confessions

The resurrention of Jesus from the death confirm the truthfulness of His words and deeds. His seven shedding of blood bring forth specific blessings for us that we may live them out to His glory and attracting people to know Him. We receive His forgivenness, healing, honor, authority, peace and His joy to enable us to live out His will.
Was listening to Derek Prince Legacy Podcasts recently and he mentioned about the seven shedding of Jesus' blood. A search on the web revealed many similar articles with slightly different seven items with majority agreement on five of them. So I just pick one more seven item list from Larry Huch and compare it with Derek's list. More importantly, we must know what they mean to us so that we can benefit from the suffering of Jesus for us. Hence, I add what I think are the seven important confessions.

Below is the mind-map capturing the essential and confessions of Jesus' seven shedding of blood for us.

Our Seven Confessions:
Let me repeat the seven confessions listed in the mindmap above:

  1. I surrender to God's Will as He did in Gethsemane
    I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20
  2. I am forgiven for my sins by His bruises.
    1Pe 2:24a  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: 
  3. I am healed from sickness and I am healthy by His stripes.
    1Pe 2:24b  by whose stripes ye were healed. 
  4. I am honored because of His shame for me.
    Eph 1:3-7  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,  6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.  7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
    1 John 4:17b As Christ is, so we are in this world.
  5. I have authority & rights of God's children by His Crown of Thorns
    Rom 8:16-17)  16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
    1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
  6. I have peace with God by His Cruxification
    Rom 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
  7. I have joy in my heart by His pierced heart.
    Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
It begins by us surrrending our will to His by faith and receive His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Then we have His forgivenness, healing, honor, authority, peace and His joy to enable us to live out His will.

May we carefully considered the benefits that Christ has obtained for us that we may live them out to His glory.

Related: See The Meaning & Power of Holy Communion

Lim Liat (c) 21-4-14

2014-04-13

The Journey of Life - Wisdom from I-Ching Hexagram#1 and Psalm 23

Let's put the wisdom of the Bible and the Ancient Chinese together and see what we can discover, especially in this most important issue of life, our journey of life.

Combining the wisdom of Ancient Chinese and the Bible enriches one's life even more. I-Ching is the root of the Chinese philosophies. Psalm 23 of the Bible, written by King David of the Ancient Israel, is likely the most famous Psalm preached and sung in services, frequently quoted in funeral wakes and imprinted on tombstones.

Each hexagram of I-Ching has a tithe, a description and six verses of text (except for the first 2 hexagrams which has an extra seventh verse. Each verse represent a stage, progressively from stage 1 to stage 6).  Psalm 23 has six verses too. We can put the corresponding verses together, with each verse representing a stage of our life, and see how closely they match!

In Chinese literature and philosophies, dragon, a fictitious animal that contains the best qualities many(may be 5 or 6) animals is used to represent man. Unlike western Biblical dragon that is used to represent evil, Chinese dragon is a good, benevolent and powerful animal. The Chinese king's palaces and his clothes are decorated with dragons.  The I-Ching text is very concise and the meaning may not be clear and hence I put in my interpretation for greater clarity and understanding.

Psalm 23
I-Ching Hexagram#1 Heaven
Remarks
1 A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
初九:潜龙, 勿用.
Hidden Dragon, Don't/of no use.
1 Hidden Dragon: Just starting life. Full of undeveloped potential but don’t show off yet. It the stage to get ready and prepared well. Do it when time comes and you are ready in the next stage. This is the student, learning stage of life.
The best way to start life is to know God and His ways. I-Ching teaches us to learn the ways of Heaven and Earth. Knowing the God that loves us and shepherd us with His ways enable us to build our lives on a solid foundation. Psalm & Proverbs say that the Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. We start life by learning the wisdom of God expressed in the Bible and in the ways of His creation.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
九二:见龙在田, 利见大人.
Dragon seen in fields. Good to meet great men.
2 Appearing/Rookie Dragon: Entering into the society, joining the work force  after graduation. Try to excel in your work. It is good to get mentors.
As we enter into the work life, the green pastures and the still waters, we need to be diligent in our work. Work opportunities are much more for the young rookies than the middle age or older workers. As rookies, we need to learn from our seniors and more important for us to find mentors to teach us, to help us and even give us opportunities to bring us up. It is important that we pick the right friends.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

九三:君子终日乾乾, 夕惕若, , 无咎
Wise man busy whole day. Alert till sunset. Danger. No fault.
3 Diligent Dragon: Doing well in stage 2 brings you promotion in this stage 3. As head of a team or a department, be diligent and watchful at same time; because others are eyeing at your progress and trying to beat you.

Let not our initial success and promotions get into our head that we become proud and start to take things easily. I-Ching tells us to continue to work diligently and be careful how we behave; because many are trying to find our faults and sabotage us in the office politics. It is easy at stage to take the easy and sometime even seemingly good path rather than the righteous path. God will lead you and give you strength to stick to His ways rather than the worldly ways of back-biting, short cuts and hypocrisy.
The Psalm also warn us about having a right balance of work and rest. As a famous Chinese saying says that we rest so that we can walk farther. Abide in God's presence more often that we may be fully charged to excel in our work for His glory.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me

九四:或跃在渊, 无咎.
Choice: Leap across chasm. No fault.
4 Leaping Dragon: To have greater progression, there is the risks to take to leave your comfort zone. Take a leap to higher ground.
To progress higher, we need to take on more challenging tasks. Tasks that take us beyond our comfort zone. Tasks that we may not even think that we can do it. To toughen us up, the Lord may lead us into the valley of shadow of death. Notice that it is only shadow not the real thing. It looks like the real thing. We feel that we have had it and could not progress further. But watch again and be able to see the God's rod and staff, His empowerment and His grace and mercy, that bring you out of your valley victoriously. Your loss of present job, leaving for a lower paid job etc are not a set-back but a set up for a bigger promotion. The Lord who calls you will empower you to accomplish the tasks beyond what you think you could before!
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

九五:飞龙在天, 利见大人.
Flying Dragon in sky, Good to meet Great Men
5 Flying Dragon: Success in stage 4 brings you to greater height. You are flying high in the sky as success brings greater success. You need to watch out of your pride and hence it is better as you soar higher with a network of influential people that will keep you in check and help you go further.
As you come out of the valley stronger and wiser in the Lord, the Lord will bring you to the new mountain top. Even your past enemies will bow down to you. Success begets greater success. The blessings of the Lord on you is overflowing that it seems whatever you touch will turn to gold. However, there is a greater danger here. It is so easy for our ego to grow so big that we think we did it all by ourselves. We may become proud and unteachable. We may even think that we are beyond the normal people and start to do things against the teaching of God (see stage 1). I-Ching warns us of this very danger. I-Ching tells us that we need of group of mentors and friends that dare to hold us in check and correct us when needed. We are so successful that many will not dare to speak to us about our problems and errors. We need such wise group of mentors to help us.
The Bible has many stories about failures just in the height of success. e.g. David's adultery with Bathsheba (David's men were on war while David the King rest in his palace), Elijah's running away after the victory over the Baal's priests.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
上九:亢龙有悔.
Top Dragon has regrets.
6 Retiring Dragon: You have progressed to the very top, like chairman of the board, there is no way up but to retire soon. Prepare for retirement or change of career as a 2nd life.

Our lives are limited. There will surely be a time, no matter how successful we have become, to retire our positions. If we have followed God's ways through our life, we will be able to reflect on our life and agree with David that 'surely goodness and mercy followed us all the days of our life. Even before that, I-Ching tells us to prepare for our retirement. We need to know how to retire well. We must prepare it long before our retirement farewell party. Many has chosen to use their money to start charitable organisations and contribute back to the societies. We read of the work of rich like Bill Gates, Li Ka Shing etc. We can each plan for our own meaningful retirement.

As we bid farewell to this earth, we are assured that we shall dwell in the Heaven House of God forever.

用九:见群龙无首, . 
Dragons has no leader. Good Fortune.
7 Parenting Dragon: You have mature, accomplished much, and become a virtuous leader. You need no one to lead you but you are able to lead others do well in their lives too.

The highest stage of growth for anyone is to become like a parent, a Father or a Mother. We are no longer concern about making a living for ourselves, but rather, about helping others to grow up and making a good living for themselves. It is the love for others as we tasted the Love of God for us. We learn to give of ourselves for others as our Lord, Jesus Christ. The final goal for all of us is to become like Christ, especially in His love for others because God is Love.

The Difference:
While both I-Ching and Psalm talk about following the righteous ways of God/Heaven&Earth, there is a major difference in emphasis. I-Ching stresses on men following God's ways whereas Psalm stresses on the Lord leading and blessing men to follow His ways! Psalm 23 is all about God doing the leading, the anointing, the comforting, the goodness and mercies and men just follow God and reaps the benefits. Psalm 23 can be rephrased with God in the active voice:

1 The Lord shepherds me so I have no lack.
2 The Lord makes me and lead me, so I am in greem pastures and still waters
3. The Lord restores my soul,
    The Lord leads me in the path of righteousness
4. The Lord is with me in the valley...(this is not a punishment but rather a training to strengthen us)
    His rod protects me by beating up the attackers
    His staff comfort me by preventing me from getting myself into dangers,
5. The Lord prepares the table for me in the presence of defeated enemies
    The Lord anoint my head with oil and so my cub overflows
6. Surely, it was the Lord's goodness(blessings) and mercies (forgiveness,saving me from my errors) for all of my life.
    The Lord provides His dwellings for me to stay with Him forever and ever,

In the reading of the above, I hope you can find the ways to live your life to the full, without any regrets, and that we may meet in the House of Lord forever.

For more on Psalm 23 see The Meaning and Cycle of Life from Psalm 23 
For more on Chinese Philosophies and the Bible see Chinese Classics & The Bible
For more on I-Ching and Chinese Philosophiessee Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Lim Liat (c) 13 April 2014

2014-04-07

Understand Foolishness better with Ecclesiastes 10

 Foolishness is more harmful than you may think. Foolishness is not about keeping quiet but about speculations with great tales and details to be so believeable. A bigger fool is the one who believes in such tales.
A study of Ecclesiastes Chapter 10 gives us a better understanding of the words 'Foolishness' and 'Wisdom'.
Here is the mind-map that summarises the teachings:
We may have some very wrong ideas about foolishness. We may think it is harmless or at most a little harmful, after all it is foolishness isn't it? However, the Chapter begins with a big warning that a little foolishness can bring great harm and destroy one's honor and reputation built over the years. How many great people are destroyed by a moment of a foolish act?

We have always thought of innocence as OK. However, unaware of right and wrong can easily lead one into the wrong path. Unknown can be the cause of great evil as this chapter tells us.

We may have thought of foolishness as someone keeping quiet since he does not know much to speak. However, real foolishness is someone that speak much and telling great stories with appealing logic and details that are so believable. The Living Bible for verse 14 is 'A fool knows all about the future and tells everyone in detail! But who can really know what is going to happen? Living Bible (TLB)' Or in short, speculation without evidences is foolishness! A greater fool is someone who believes in the fool's speculation without questions!

Please go through the points in the mind-map and see if you pick up any new takeaways.

Lim Liat (c) 7 April 2014

2014-02-25

The Exodus Story and the Simplicity of a Saved Life

From a Ravi Zacharias podcast, I learned the story of Exodus revealed the sequence of our salvation ....

1. Redemption ... freed from slavery. The New Life...
2. Righteousness ... giving of Commandments ... how to behave... the way of the New life.
3. Worship ... Building of Temple ... Remembering the Source of Life else we think we have done it ourselves.

So, we must get save first to get right, then to great and sustainable success with worship and appreciation of our Creator.

If we think we need to get right first before receiving Jesus then we got the order wrong. That we want to save ourselves and pay for our own sins was the work of pride. If we can get right before we accept Jesus' salvation, we don't need Jesus to save us at all. 

If we think after we are saved we are ok to live freely without the commandments then we are deceived. If we have been really saved, our behavior will be seen with us automatically following the commandments. Of course, we still still be tempted and fail but at least we know we know it is wrong, and we will repent and get out.

If we think our life is a life of up and down, and mostly down, then we have not learn how to apply the power or grace of the new life. The way is through worship or in more easily understand term , to abide, to have time and fellowship with Jesus. If we spend little or no time with the source of Life, it is not surprising that our life will lack the strength for growth and victory. The whole 'trick' for a joyful Christian life is to abide.

So, living a good believer life is a simple 1-2-3 of Redemption, Righteousness and Worship.

2014-02-23

From Dao De Jing to the Bible Book of John

Lao Zi discovered the Way/Dao and tried his best to explain to us. The Gospel of John explicitly says that the Way/Dao/Logos is God, the creator and came in the form of His Son Jesus Christ to show the Way to us. The mystery of Lao Zi's way is shown in the incarnate Son of God Jesus Christ. You will find many descriptions of the Way in Dao De Jing by Loa Zi are similar to the teaching and behavior of Jesus Christ.
It was generally believed that Dao De Jing (Translated Way Virtue Bible, or The Bible of the Way and Its Virtue, or see  Ancient Chinese Bible of Grace & Truth) was written by Lao Zi sometime around 550 BC.  The first chapter describes the existence of the Way and its mystery and the limitation of our language to fully describe it. Even so,  Uncovering the Mystery of Dao De Jing - The Discovery of Truth, Lao Zi wrote the subsequent chapters to describe the characteristics of the Way.

Dao De Jing begins with:
  1. 道可道,非常道,
    The Way that can be described is not the eternal/common/true way.
  2. 名可名,非常名。
    The name that can be named is not the common/true name.
  3. 无名,天地之始,
    Nameless, is the beginning of heaven and earth.
  4. 有名,万物之母。
    Name, is the mother of ten thousand things.
The Gospel of John begins with:

Joh 1:1   太初有道,道与神同在,道就是神。
  In the beginning was the Word(logos), and the Word(logos) was with God, and the Word(logos) was God.

The meaning of 'logos' is 'the rational principle that governs and develops the universe.' It is much more meaningful than using the 'Word' and is similar to the Chinese Word 道 Dao, translated at the Way.

The Way is described by Lao Zi in Dao De Jing and John claimed that the Way is with God and is God. John made His claim because he said he had seen and experienced Him personally.
  • Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • 1Jn 1:1-3  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- (2)  the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- (3)  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
The Son is mentioned in Dao De Jing 4.
  • 道冲 而用之,或不盈。
    The Way is void/empty/invisible, yet use it and never need to fill it (It gives life forces endlessly)
  • 渊兮似万物之宗;
    It is so deep that it is the origin of all creations
  • 挫其锐、解其纷、和其光、同其尘,湛兮似或存。
    All its sharpness is removed, knots untangled, glares soften, dust soothed, it is deep and clear.(meaning: It is a balanced of power and love that give growth to all)
  • 吾不知谁之子,象帝之先。I don't know whose SON [is the Way], it is before all the phenomenons or the image of God (i.e. creation).
Now we can compare it with John, 
  • Joh 1:2-5  He was in the beginning with God.  (3)  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (4)  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  (5)  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I think Lao Zi sets the stage for the subsequent need for God to personally come to reveal the ways to us. In Hebrew 1:1-2, we have, 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son... (Hebrew is commonly believed to be written by Paul).

Lim Liat (c) 22 Feb 2014

2014-02-18

Leadership According to the Bible - Deu 17:15-20


Alternative title for this post can be 'Applying Biblical Principles to Governmental or Corportate Leadership' or 'Forecasting the Rise and Fall of Nations'.
How can one lead a country well? The Bible tells us in the Deuteronomy 17:15-20. The are only 8 key points of 1 Biblical Values, 2 No Self-wealth, 3 Courage to do New things, 4 No Womanizing, 5 Write Instruction Manuals, 6 Have Mentors to check, 7 Keep God's Laws and 8 Remain Humble.

Foreseeing the Israelites would one day want a king like their neighbors, God gave them clear instructions as to how to choose the King and what the King should do so that the Kingdom can last through many generations. Here is the mind-map that capture the key points and the relevant verses:

History told us the sad story that all the Israelite Kings violate most and some all of the key points mentioned above. Even great kings like David and Solomon, while they have a heart for God, they violated point 2 for wealth accumulation, point 4 of having too many wives and concubines. The other kings did even worse things. The end result was as forecasted, the country was overrun and the people deported. 

These eight key points still hold true for the present day government and corporate business leaders too. If you want to foretell what will happen to your country, consider the governmental leadership and what they are doing. How many of the above 8 points are being followed?

For my own country of Singapore where the government is having the high-salary policy for ministers and civil service and the stress on economic growth and economic well-being, and a larger population, I think point 2 on Wealth Creation is of concern. It is not that wealth creation is not good, it is about excessive wealth pursuit over other priorities. Then there is the concern for the boldness to create a new vision to lead rather than to lead by popularity. Further, true humility of learning from others and keep watch over our own behavior are important too. There is comfort in that the values of integrity, family centred and other good values are being preserved (point 1 & 7). With the establishment of the gambling resorts, point 4 is to be watched carefully. Having a check and balance is important for point 6 with better and stronger opposition parties and a separate office of the President is good.

So, what about your government, your bosses and even you as a boss and a leader, how do they and you measure up?

Lim Liat (c) 18 Feb 2014


2014-02-01

Eight Ways to Seven Great Blessings for the New Year

Don't just receive the good wishes during this New Year time. You can do something about them to make those wishes come true. The Bible tells us how in the Beatitudes.
There are always good wished for the New Year. Everyone wants blessings of wealth, health and peace and honor. But there is nothing to back the good wishes. There is no guidance as to how those wishes can come true in our life.  The Bible tells us differently even though the Bible is the gospel of grace. Our attitudes and actions do affect our blessings now and in the future. It is covered in the Beatitudes of Matthew Chapter 5.

Here is the mind-map of the 8 Ways to 7 Blessings on Matthew 5:3-10.

Here are the take away:
  1. A specific attitude and resulting behavior brings forth a specific kind of blessing.
  2. The attitudes and behavior are actually character of God and of His children, us.
  3. The Life of blessing in this world is not just smooth sailing and all comfort. Precisely because of the things you will be doing, the world, or the evil in this world, will go against you. Hence the blessings now is not without difficulty and prosecutions. But the promises and the true blessings are that you will accomplish your purposes in spite of the persecutions and that you will come out of it with greater maturity.
  4. The blessings are for now and in the future. It is not just in the future of heaven and it is not just for this present time. The blessings will be now, though with persecutions, and in the future as repeated in Mark 10:30 but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come, eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.”
  5. Go through the list of 8 things and see if any of our attitude and behavior need to be changed. Else, we are just blocking the blessings that God want to give to us.
  6. If you have a problem now, go through the list and see what set of actions you could do to solve the problem, know that God is with you and will take you through your difficult time. But first, trust in the Lord, be calm, and work out the solutions.
  7. Don't begin with the persecution complex thinking people are against you. Of the 8 attitudes and behavior, only the last one is about persecution and for a specific reason of righteousness. Do we suffer persecution for the right reasons? 
May your New Year wishes come true this year as you trust the Lord and His ways.

See also Beatitudes - The Ways of His Kingdom

Lim Liat (c) 1 Feb 2014

2014-01-13

Words of Blessing for Year 2014 - Isa 43:19

The encouraging words of blessings for the New Year 2014 is from Isaiah 43:19. It is about God doing new things through you. Things that seems impossible becomes possible, the roads in the wilderness and rivers in the deserts. It is God who calls us by our names, forgives and saves us out of His own loving character and commissions us to be His testimony. Because of His love, He will discipline us that we may grow up and bring glory to Him. God's glory is revealed to others through us. So, lift up our head with great expectation, with God's enabling power, may we have a breakthrough 2014 to show forth His glory.
In the midst of wishing one another for New Year 2014, I was led to this verse Isaiah 43:19 and to study the whole chapter of Isaiah 43. But Isaiah is for the Jews and what has it to do us, the non-Jews believers? What basis do we have to enjoy the blessings and surely not the curse? It is given in Galatians through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, our Savior:

Gal 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ...That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

I have taken the extra step of matching each verse of Isa 43 with the New Testaments verses so that we can see the progression of better promises for us believers. Below is the mind-map that captures the essence and details of Isaiah 43: It begins with knowing your God not just as a Creator but a Personal Savior and Lord that will even glorify Himself through you because of Who He is.

How much do you know about your God?
Atheism says there is no God. Agnosticism says I don't know and & don't care. Some says there are many gods. The pantheism says that man is also a god or part of the god. The ancient Chinese believes in the Creator God with feelings and love for mankind. When one is in trouble, he/she can ask the Heavenly God for help. This Heavenly God is also a God that maintains justice to rewards the good and punish the evil. That is very close to the Biblical God. But the Biblical God is much much more ...



Take away Promises for Us:
Let me reproduce the summary in the mindmap below:
  • God will lead and help you to do a radically ground breaking new things. Things that people thought were not possible before. Is 43:19 
  • God will do that because of what He is and not because of what we earn or do. Isa 43:25
  • God loves us so much
    • to forgive our sins v13,14,21-24 ; though He will discipline us Isa 43:28 
    • even chooses us to represent Him on the earth v1, 7, 12, 21 
    • to do things that impress others that He is glorified through us. v21 Our only care is to believe, do, and give glory back to God. Don't fall into the trap that I did it all by myself and even forget God. 
May your new year 2014 be truly a break-through year for you.

Lim Liat (c) 13 Jan 2014