2015-10-27

Reflection 6 Does the End Justifies the Means?

This Reflection 6 on the CHC's court case on Misuse of Funds was written in July 2012 but was not published as I have already written 5 reflections from the case and I was waiting for the final judgement. Now that the judgement is out, see for example City Harvest Church leaders conspired to misuse funds: Judge | TODAYonline and the Judge oral's judgement can be found here.  I can't find the Judge's 270 page judgement but some key points are mentioned here A culture where asking difficult questions was taboo, AsiaOne Singapore News.  There is quote from the Judge that "....they go further to convince themselves that the end justifies the means .... their conduct can only be characterised not merely as being misguided but dishonest."

This post cited Biblical stories to show that God does not want His people to fall into the sins of using the end to justify the means. If the end could justify the means that Jesus Christ does not need to die on the cross to pay for our sins.


I thought I have finished my reflections on this CHC's leaders alleged misuse affair, posting my fifth Reflection 5 Justice vs Loyalty - Understanding the Support for Kong Hee. But I felt I needed to cover a topic that I briefly mentioned in Reflections from CHC Kong Hee Alleged Misuse of Funds. It was in point 2 where I wrote "The Name of God is a convenient and powerful weapon that church leaders enjoy. " 

This post explains how this is usually done. It is using the higher purpose and goal, such as the Name of God or the Will of God, to justify whatever actions that are taken. Does this position of "The End justifies the Means" correct? Because we are doing things for a higher authority, like the President, the King or God, therefore we can violate the laws? The answer is definitely a no-no. Even the common people understand this well, the end does not justify the means. They brought down then President Nixon for the Watergate affair. Believers should have a higher standard and if not, at least as the common people. But some religious people like to use the Name and Will of God to override common laws. They knew the Bible well and will give deceptive interpretation to mislead the people.

1 Timothy 1:7 

The Story of Nebuchadnezzar's Image and Furnace

In Daniel Chapter 3, we had the great story of King Nebuchadnezzar wanting all to worship his great golden image. The three Jewish officers Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not obey the King's command because their religion forbade worshiping any idol. The King was furious and after giving them a second chance, he sent them into the furnace. But God rescued them and they were not burnt. The King ended up acknowledging their God as great.

Does this story teaches us to disobey the laws?

The law violate their religious belief and they are willing to suffer for the violation.
The Story of Daniel and the Lion Den

Daniel have been praying to God all the time. It was a trap to frame and kill him. The King realized that too but a little too late. He suffered the consequence of being put into the Lion Den. God deliver him from the lions.

In the above two cases, the righteous believers of God uphold the laws to be willing to suffer the consequences. They let God be the final judge to either deliver them out of the consequences or not.
The End and the Means must be Upright

Leviticus 10:1,2 - Nadab and Abihu offered incense to God using fire that God had not commanded them to use. Their goal was good: offering incense to worship God. But God had told them what fire to use and they disregarded the means He specified. God killed them. They learned too late that the end did not justify using a different means.

1 Chronicles 13:6,7,9,10 - David and Israel thought it was "good" to bring the ark of the covenant back among them (vv 2,4). The end or goal was "good." But while transporting it by ox cart, Uzzah touched it to keep it from falling. God killed him.

Note #1 Chronicles 15:2,12-15 - God had appointed that the ark should be carried on poles by priests and Levites. No one else could touch it [Num. 4:15-20].
Obedience is better that Sacrifice.

1 Samuel 15:3,10-23 - God told Saul to destroy all the Amalekites and their flocks, but Saul kept the best animals to offer sacrifice to God. Offering sacrifice to God was "a good work," but it did not justify disregarding God's command. God said Saul "has not performed my commandments" (v11) and rejected him as king. "To obey is better than sacrifice" (v22). The end did not justify a different means from what God had specified.

2015-10-17

Your Eternal Rewards in Heaven according to the 7 Churches of Revelation

Your passport to heaven is through the grace of Jesus Christ and not of yourself (Eph 2v8). Such is already good enough. But God wants to give you additional rewards for the works that you have done in His Name. We can find those rewards from the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelations. Here are the details.
Attending the funeral of a fellow believer is not a difficult thing. It is sad because of the departure. But it is not hopeless, desperable, not extreme sadness and pains because we know of two good things. Firstly, he/she has gone to a better place. Secondly. we shall meet again some day in the better place. Then there is one more thing, he/she will receive additional rewards from God. Here are some of the details.....

Entrance to Heaven is By Grace:

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Eph 2:8-9
Entering Heaven is already wonderful enough, according to 1Co 2:9  But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"

But God promised more .... Mark 9:41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

By rewards comes from how much we have done according to the purpose thta God has created us for:
  • For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Eph 2:10
The additional verse that support this view is given in:
  • 1Co 3:11-15  For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  12  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13  each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  14  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  15  If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
What the rewards? For the details, we can look up the Book of Revalation where Jesus promised the overcomers the details of the rewards, to the seven churches.

The Seven Eternal Rewards:
The Details of the Rewards:
Of course, we work not for the rewards but we work because of the love of God that is shed abroad in our heart. (Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.)

But God is a fair God and remembers our work in and for Him and He rewards us generously.

All the grace of God to you as you work out His life in you. We shall meet again in Heaven some day.

Lim Liat (c) 17 Oct 2015

2015-10-15

The Qualties of Good Believers from the Seven Churches of Revelation

Many people think that we are living in the End-Times and Jesus Christ is coming soon. How should we live in this time? What does occupy till He come means? Why not let us find out in the letters to the seven end times churches of the Revelation? Jesus' letters to the seven churches of the Book of Revelation commended the good behaviour and rebuked the bad behaviour of the believers then. By collecting the commendations and reversing the rebukes we can come out a list of the quality behaviours of believers. There are seven of them. Read to find out more.
What kind of behaviour should a believer has? People can only see your external behaviour and not your internal intentions. Hence, as good testimony for Christ, we must be careful of our behaviour. We can follow the ten commandments as a guide. Ten commandments are reflection of God's attributes. Believers should exhibit behaviour that exceeds ten commandments. How can that be possible? Through the Holy Spirit in Christ producing the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit attributes like love, joy, patience, kindness etc are proactive positive  behaviour whereas the ten commandments are the prohibitive negatively stated behaviours. (Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.)  We can also find a practical list good behaviour and attributes in the study of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. A consolidated list is shown in the mind-map below:

In the above mind-map. we consolidated the good behaviour and bad behaviour together from the seven churches. By just reversing the bad behaviour, we can change that to be good. The letter to the Thyatira church contains an also complete list of good behaviours, and hence we can use it as the starting framework to add in from the others. So after the consolidation, we can find seven attributes for good behaviour as described below.

The Seven Qualities

1. Your Love for Jesus
The most important thing in a believer life is Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no gospel and no Christianity. Every believer must start here. If we get this wrong, all the rest will be wrong. Hence, the very first rebuke to the Ephesus Church is their lost of the first love for Jesus. They have put doctrines to be above Jesus. What about us? Is Jesus the most important thing in our life? How can you tell? Check your relationship or fellowship with Him. How much time do you spend with Jesus. Are you aware of His presence in your daily work routines. The challenging, busy and increasing evilness in the world has made many people cold in their heart. They have become indifference. That was the greatest problem with the Laodicean church. They were lukewarm, neither cold nor hot which means indifference --- I don't care. They care more about their material wealth over relationship with Jesus. They got all the priority mixed up. Jesus invited them for fellowship with Him. What about you? Is your fellowship sweet and desirable? Is that the first thing you seek in the morning and last thing you say good night to? Be appreciative of the life and relationship we have.

2. Your Faith 
Our faith is best seen under test. Are we willing to die for the cause that we believe in. But before we go into such depth, can we answer a simpler one. When people ask you about your belief, are you shy to admit you are a Christian? What is stopping you for doing that? Is it because you feel you are not good enough to admit it so as not to bring shame to Jesus? If so, please know that Jesus died for us when we were yet sinners. Jesus did not wait for us to be good to receive and die for us. Relationship with Jesus is about being authentic and frank with Him. He understands and will help you out. The next thing is to get your life in order with Him help and then you will not shy to confess Jesus as your Lord. Actually admitting first will bring the empowerment to you to live out the good testimony. Take this small step first. I am a believer of Jesus and His gospel.

3. Your Service 
When we love someone, it is only natural that we serve him/her. The Ephesians were praised for their hard work especially in getting the right doctrines and filtering out the false ones. They are very critical and sensitive to false teachings. Service is not about doing what please you or what you think is good for the one you love. It is asking them what they love first and then we do what they love. That was precisely what the Philadelpians did --- they obeyed Jesus message. Prayer is not about you but about finding out what God want you to do. Of course, taking good care of you is God's promise to you and so can come to Him for your needs. But can you go beyond that and see the world from His point of view.

4. How You Have Endured. 
Suffering for our faith is a sure thing. Being good will attract attention and attacks from the evil ones. Your goodness is embarrassing their badness. But what is the meaning of endurance? One aspect is suffering for Christ without getting weary --- so as to complains, give-up or to deny and rebel against Christ. Another is do forgone materialistic and comfort lives --- being poor materially but rich in the eyes of God. People may question you about your foolishness to give up your career, money and time for Christ. They don't see the values of spiritual and eternal things. They live for this life only but you know better otherwise.

5. Doing More Than Before. 
Life is about change and about growing up. While we may be satisfied with what we have and achieved, we continue to go for more because there is no limit to knowing and experiencing the Jesus and His love. But we need to be careful. Having more activities do not means more life! It is about doing the right activities in the right time and effort. Have a balanced life with time for rest and reflections, with family and with Jesus. We may need to review our activities and get rids of those that are not in the will of God and start some that are. We need to prune the tree for more fruits by getting rid of energy wasting non fruitful efforts and channel them to the right ones. We don't want to get into the state of us doing a lot of work and yet God says it is incomplete!

6. Reject False Teachings
The mind-map above show quite a list of false teachings of Jezebel, Nicolaitians and Balaam. It serves as a good warning for us in today world as well, such as the prosperity only gospels, the ultra-grace with grace as license to sin, licentious living, and the more evil kind of demonic worship of all forms. False teaching mislead and bind their believers. Discover the truth in and of Jesus and be set free.

7 Get Rid Of Evil
A sin is sin according to the Word of God even though man may legalise it or give it some fanciful names or hiding behind seemingly good intention (e.g. I am not a busy body but just concern). The love for Jesus should be reflected in our purity and the same hatred for evil and sins as Jesus. May the Word and Holy Spirit reveal to us the true state of live .... making sure we are not pitiful, blind and naked as the Laodiceans. Let us not tolerate seemingly little evil or sin in our life or in our midst. We can love the people but hate their sins.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Oct 2015

2015-10-14

7 Management Principles of Jesus in His Letters to the Seven Churches

From Jesus' letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, we can learn seven principles of good management. They can be stated as mission/purpose, monitoring, praise, critique, correction, warning and rewarding. Learn how to do them rightly here and become a good manager.
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 follows a fixed pattern. The pattern provides us the clue as to how Jesus manage his churches. Here is an example from the letter to the church at Ephesus.



The Seven Principles of People Management from Jesus:

  1. Establish the Purpose - Define the Mission, Vision and Values of the organisation.
    In this case, it is the church, with Jesus as the Head and His Words as the values. See Knowing Jesus through the Seven Churches of Revelation for the details. Do you understand and fully absorb the mission, visions and values of your organisation. What about your own personal mission, visions and values. Do they match? If not, choose a company or start up one yourself that reflect the values and the mission you believe in.
  2. Monitoring - Know What are happening first, to the external situation and the internal people affairs.
    Jesus loves His church and keep a close watch of His people, being every ready to guide, protect and correct them. Do you keep track of what is happening with your staff, the company and the changes in the external environment? Are you aware of the challenges and pressures of your staff? Do you understand their needs? Do you see their performances? Do you see their obstacles? Do you see the infighting? Before you just jump in too quickly to give your pet advices and claiming to know all with your prejudgements and even prejudices, can you investigate and discover the real happenings first. Can you see things objectively and from multiple angles of different angles, different roles, internal and external views. After knowing objectively what is going on, then perhaps you are in the position to offer your wise counsel. The following 5 more principles show you how to do that rightly.
  3. Praise - Point how the things and behaviour that they are doing it rightly.
    Always begin first by pointing out the right and good things that your staff are doing. They must be specific and not a general motherhood statement. The specifics show them that you are really concern and have done your due diligence. Specifics also allow the staff to challenge and correct your misunderstanding if there be any. A dialogue to clarify matter and improve the relationship and establishing greater trust. Top leader like Jack Welch of GE, Frank Blake of Home Depot write personal letters to staff to praise and show appreciation of their work and behavior. Praising encourages more repeat of the right behavior. Be not stingy with your praise and make them specific.
  4. Critique - Point out the errors or bad behavior from bad attitudes.
    Often, we are blind to our own bad behavior and work. It takes someone else to point them out to us. If the company has good quality systems and measurements, we can also find them out. What is good or bad? How do you judge for things like behavior? Right or wrong is established in the first principle of purpose, mission, visions and values. Such are the yardsticks for right or wrong.
  5. Correction - Show them the Right Way or Right Behaviour.
    Pointing out an error is half of the job done. You must them what the right way is so that they can follow the right way. Just telling a person what he has done wrong is not good enough. You cannot let him find out the right way by trial and errors. They will take too long and be too costly. Show them the right way.
  6. Warning - The bad consequences that will arise if they don't change.
    Most people are happy to correct their errors once you point them out and show them the right way. However, there will be some who are driven by sufferings. Good managers and good parents usually let the bad consequences to do the teaching. Saving children and staff from the bad consequences from their errors will not lead to learning and will result in misguided decision making in the future. Always let the consequences be the teacher, except for fatal or serious situations. Too much kindness and love will result in a corrupted and confused world.
  7. Rewarding - Promises and Delivery of the Promised for good work.
    People are motivated by rewards, whether intrinsically by growth in maturity or externally by recognitions, monetory rewards, promotions or other benefits. We must be specific in the rewards and also be generous in awarding them. One shall not promise much and the deliver with discounts when staff achieved the agreed targets. 
Can you go through the seven principles and see which area you can improve upon? Hope you can and will become a better manager.

Hope you can see that Bible Study is more than just a spiritual matter but a very practical business matter. Don't divide your life into spiritual and carnal/business matters. You are an integrated whole person. Act out from your spiritual maturity to be a better person in the affairs of the world, especially your business or career. Let them be good testimonies to God. See also  10 Kingdom Laws for Business Success.

Lim Liat (c) 14 Oct 2015


Knowing Jesus through the Seven Churches of Revelation

Jesus shows different aspects of Himself to address the specific needs of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation. We learn not just about Jesus but the wisdom of applying the right advice to the need of the situation and person. 
A detailed mind-map study of the seven churches can be found here, Lessons from The Seven Churches of Revelation.

A mind-map that relate Jesus' appearance and the churches is:
1. Jesus as Head to the Church at Ephesus

The Ephesus church had heeded Paul's warning of the coming of the false teachers, so they were very careful and sensitive to the preaching of false doctrine. However, they over did it. Their love for doctrine take precedence over love for Jesus. Jesus reminded them that He is the Head of the Church and demands their first love for Him.

It is very easy for us to replace Jesus with our own liking and this takes place very subtly without our knowing. It is easy to make a good thing to become our idol replacing God. For Ephesians, it is the doctrine. Knowing the right beliefs is good and right. However, it cannot replace Jesus. We must first love Jesus and also the right doctrine too. For modern day people, it could be the good things that we do such as charity work, giving to the needy, and even doing mission work. Such are good work, but they cannot replace our relationship with Jesus. Let not any activity replaces our time and love with Jesus.

2. Jesus as Eternal Life to the Church at Smyrna

The believers were under severe persecutions. But Jesus assured them He is the one true eternal life. They may killed the body but they cannot kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.) He is the source and given for eternal life.

3. Jesus as the Word of Truth to Pergamum

The two-edged sword represents the Word of Truth.  Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. They have compromised the truth and allow the infiltration of the teaching of Balaam (idolatry and sexual sins, seducing) and Nicolaitians (dominating people, compromised doctrine). This church is the opposite of Ephesus, the place 'love' more than truth and compromise the truth. The only way to differentiate the false from the truth is to go by the Word of God. When you are not too sure what is right or wrong, then go back to the Word of God, the Bible. to discover the truth. Please make sure you follow the right way to interpret the Bible too. Distortion, taking the Word out of its context, quoting a subset of the Word lead to false doctrine. We need to be aware of that.

4. Jesus as the Judge to Thyatira

Fire represents brightness and clarity. Jesus is the know-all and know-inside-out Judge. Bronze represents judgement in the Bible. While in Ephesus and Pergamum, Balaam, the prophet that failed to curse the Israelites, was mentioned. But here, Jezebel, the queen, the one in power was mentioned. It shows that the false doctrine has taken charge in the church. The church was under darkness and dominated by sinful people with their false doctrines.  They were not repentant of their sins. Hence, Jesus advised them to judge and cast out such people. It is a difficult task because such people were already in power. Jesus will raise up people to overthrow them. Under such situation, some people may leave the church. Some people may be called to stay to revile and transform the church. May God give such wisdom and support to re-establish the right teaching and right church leadership under Jesus. One day, everyone will have to give account of his life to Jesus the Judge. Are you prepared? How are you living this life?

5 Jesus as God the Spirit & Power to Sardis

This Sardis church is what Paul described in 2 Timothy 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. They had many religious activities. People and themselves thought that they were alive in God. But they were actually dying! They had allow outward activities to replace inward spiritual lives with God.   John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. Are you worshipping God in spirit and truth and not just in activities even of singing spiritual songs!
Does your outward behaviour correspond to your inward belief? Do you still have the spiritual fire burning within?

6 Jesus as the Authority/King to Philadelphia

Like Smyrna, this church had no rebuke from Jesus. They obeyed the Word and they boldly testify before men for God. God will protect them and cause others to bow down to them. They will be given crown and reign with Jesus.

7 Jesus as the Blesser of True Blessings to Laodicea

Laodiceans went after material wealth instead of spiritual wealth. They were indifferent to godly things.  Jesus invited them to have a true relationship, the most valuable thing, with Him. Their hunger and happiness could not be satisfied by materialistic things. Only relationship with Jesus can provide the real and lasting satisfaction and happiness. Are you trying to find happiness in material things? You will not satisfaction there. Come to Jesus for the real and satisfying experience. Jesus is the true source of all creation and is a waiting for you to invite Him in.

Knowing Jesus

Do you know Jesus as the
  1. Head of the Church?
  2. Giver of Eternal Life?
  3. Word of Truth?
  4. Judge?
  5. Spirit?
  6. King?
  7. Blesser?
Before you give any advice, please look at the situation, the factual events, and the needs and characteristics of the people involved. Please do not be too quick to give your word of wisdom nor jump to conclusions. Study first.

Lim Liat (c) 14 Oct 2015