Hear - Obey - Glorify

Following from We can do Nothing apart from Jesus, the most important principle in Christian Living is then
  • Hear from God
  • Obey with doing
  • Accomplishing God's plan and glorify God.
Or is simpler form
  • Hear -> Obey -> Glorify or Hear -> Do -> Get
Someone says that the greatest asset that we have is the ability to hear God. Anything that is of value comes first from listening to God's desire and plan. The basic issue of life is then to learn how to listen to God. We need to sharpen our skill in this key area.

We all know how to listen to God when we receive Christ as our Saviour. While our encounter with Jesus may comes from external means like attending a Christian Rally, talking with Christians, reading a book, we know and have the sense of God speaking to us directly. God speaks to us inwardly, the small inner voice, a kind of sense and feeling, a hutch and so forth. The other common way is through reading the Bible and Prayer. God can also speak to us through friends, books, seminars etc. God can also speak to us through dream and vision.

But there are other voices speaking to us as well - our own thoughts and desires, our friends and also the devil. We need to learn how to differentiate them and follow the right voice of God. A reliable way is to check with the Bible - God does not violate His revealed and spoken Word the Bible.

Where is faith? Faith is in believing, receiving Jesus Christ and hearing Him. Faith is in hearing Him and doing His will. Faith is in continued obedience when we face difficulties and knowing that all things will work for good to those that love God.

Let's begin by listening to God and then follow by corresponding action. The action will bring the outcome, i.e. the fruit, that glorify God through you.


Trial vs Temptation

In the study of the Book of James using Concept-Mapping (the concept map of James 1:2-15 is shown below), I was suddenly drawn to the fact that Trial and Temptation are quite different.A mind-map version, drawn earlier a few months ago, is shown below for comparison with the Concept Map version:From the passage, it is clear that Trial is from external to train you to be a better person, to be complete and to obtain the Crown of Life eventually. Temptations comes from internal - from our lusts, and their purpose is to make you worse off by leading us to sin and death eventually. I tried to find out from the Original Greek words - trial is G3986 and tempt is G3985. However, whether the Thayer or the Vines concordance treat both roughly the same. In fact, for G3986, the frequency of translation and use are: temptation (12), testing (2), trial (3), trials (4) - are used. It depends on the context to tell us which is which. G3985 - did (1), put (1), put to the test (2), tempt (2), tempted (13), tempter (2), test (6), tested (2), testing (7), tried (2), trying (2). We have then have to depend on the context to differentiate them.

In James, the differences between trial and temptation are made clear.


Another Personality Types

We are all quite familiar with the DISC personality types, the StrengthsFinder types, BMTI etc.
In yesterday Taiwan TV talk show, one of the them talk of personality as divided into four Seeker types
  1. Political - Power
  2. Business - Money
  3. Philosophy - Truth, Justice, Fairness ..
  4. Pleasure - Fun, Enjoyment
It is quite easy at times for us tell that so and so is the Money type; some are Power-type and so forth. What is yours ? What are you motivated by? What do you seek? You do a pair-wise comparison to come out with a ranking or you may rate them equally. There is no implicit good or bad. If you are after the truth and justice, you may need to power and money to execute it and if do not have the joy in pursuing justice, you may not be able to continue your effort for long.

In the Christian circle, we speak about the temptations of 3G - Glory, Gold, Girls/Guys that caused the downfall of many famous preachers. To the list of 4 above, I wish add another, Relationship - family or friendship.

We can use TEMPR to help in memorizing them:

T: Truth, E: Enjoyment M:Money P:Power, R:Relationship

Except for Truth, everything is else Temporary - TEMPR

I wish also to suggest that like the Truth - Jesus be the anchor point of balancing and deciding what you need of the others. This is shown as the picture below:If we really want to rank them, my preference would be TREPM. Truth enables Relationship that provides Joy supported by Power (ability to influence) and then Money. You may other preference.

Bible for Business Seminar#10 Performance Measures

Highly recommended books are "Transforming Performance Measurement" by Dean Spitzer and the books and writings of E W Deming.

In the Strategy Map talk, we stressed much the need to define measure to enhance understanding about the objective, to help define what success looks like and then to set target. Measures direct behavior, focus attention, increase objectivity, enable accountability, bring visibility and enable prediction .... etc.

D Spitzer, in his book, pointed out 4 important aspects about measurement. The Context, Focus, Integration and Interactivity. The context of measurements is the most important but often neglected issue. The context involves not just the measures, the measurement process, but include the most important factor of all - the People. The perceived consequences and controllability of the measures determine the how people will respond to the measure - either positively or negatively.

Wrongly defined measures will create dyfunctional behavior. Typical example is measuring the number of calls handled per hour to try to increase the productivity of the Call-Center. The end result is unhappy customers with calls being diverted or abruptly ended as operators try to meet or exceed targets.

The Focus and Integration of Measures correspond to the drawing of the Strategy Map of Cause and Effect Objectives. By doing the strategy map first, we can bring out focus and integration. Interactivity of Measures refer to continued review and improvement of measures and measuring systems to increase learning.

Two Main Uses of Measures
  1. System centric: As information to gain understanding of the improvement and working of system. i.e. to increase knowledge and wisdom.
  2. People Centric: As monitoring and control with intention to rewards or punish.
It is strongly recommended that measures be used for usage-1 only -gaining insight to the operation of the system and looking into areas for improvement. For People-Centric usage of rewards and punishment, it is important that the measures be outcome and value based. The effects of the contribution of either the individual or team or system must be identifiable. It is very difficult in team work to identify the contribution of any particular individual. E W Deming's System of Profound Knowledge also explains why incentive for pay does not work. Incentive is an Extrinsic Motivator where as Recognition is an Intrinsic Motivator. There is the need to understand the motivators better.

In the Bible, Luk 6:37-42, we discussed judging is finding out the internal intention of the heart. In context, Jesus was not trying to tell not to judge but to judge wisely. Correct our brothers is our responsibility and we can't do that without judging. We need to be trained to be like our Teacher (v40) to judge wisely. See Judging Rightly and
Judge Not yet Correcting

Target Settings
4 ways
  1. According to your Vision - Goals - Where you want to be.
  2. According to your Market Standing - Relative Rank or Share of Market
  3. Relative to your Competitor - To beat or catch up with your target competitor.
  4. Relative to your Past performance - what improvement over last year.
Deming System of Profound Knowledge

Do a google search on the above topic and you will find a lot of good information about it.
It has four main parts
  1. Appreciation of System
    • system exists to accomplish a purpose or aim
    • made up of interdependent sub-systems
    • whole greater than the sum of its parts
    • must optimize for the whole and not of its parts
    • system does not improve itself - It is manager's responsibility
  2. Understanding Variation
  3. Theory of Knowledge
    • Highest form is Prediction
    • Learning from theory and experience
    • Operational Definitions (see Measures above)
    • PDSA for learning and improvement
  4. Psychology
    • Understand People and Behaviour and interactions
    • Motivation - Intrinsic vs Extrinsic. Deming's Forces of Destruction.
    • Beliefs and Assumptions
Management is about Accurate Prediction of Good Outcomes.

Management is responsible for
  • improving the system; no one will
  • prediction vs prescription
  • application of Profound Knowledge
The Gathering & Feedback
About 12 of us gathered together for the seminar. The overall rating is 90%. The highest scores of 100% go to Knowledge of Speaker, followed by Expectation Met, Recommend to Friend, and the lowest score is Relevance to Job 78%. The feedback from the attendees are shown below:

Like Best
  • Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation
  • Traditional vs Positive Measures
  • Application of Profound Knowledge. Like & Agree with the idea that we are in a world of systems
  • Also the fact it that with humans around, there is always psychology involved and there is variation (random outcomes)
  • Lk 6:37-42 Understand what is judging
Like Least
  • nil
  • Good session. Not too fast and not too much materials in one go.
  • Good participation from audience.
  • I would recommend more group discussion.
    • Sometimes audience can be a little shy or slow to start asking questions.
    • So may be help with some prepared questions.
  • As usual, the speaker has good in-depth and practical examples.
  • Because the participants are regulars and probably those who are really interested, perhaps small group setting may encourage more interactions.


Christ Coming Out of Us - Maturity

In the movies, can't remember which one, about aliens and monsters from outer space, where we find the alien monster breaking out of a normal human being. This scene is a good representation of Christian growing up into maturity. Except in the case, the outer shell is us - the self-centred ugly monster and the inside is Jesus Christ. Christian maturity is about working out (Php 2:12) and letting the treasure (2Co 4:7) of Christ in us, grows out of us that we may conform to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).

There are other images about Christian maturity such as
  • Christ seating at the throne of our heart.
  • A seed growing up into a tree and bearing fruit in the earth of God and His Word.
  • A earthen vessel slowly becoming transparent to let the light of treasure inside to shine out.


We can do Nothing apart from Jesus

One of the profound truth of Christianity is given in John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

More specifically, the phrase "without Jesus, we can do nothing".

Jesus is the Key
The basic of Christianity is Jesus - having Jesus; connected to Jesus; have a relationship with Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no Christianity.

With Jesus, we can bear much fruit. Fruit is outcomes we achieved through enpowerment by Jesus within. The outcomes and the accomplishments bring glory to God and even to us. God honors us when we obey Him.

With Jesus, we can do any and everything. Phil 4:13.

Without Jesus, we can do nothing.
I used to object. That is not true. I can surely do something without Jesus. Look, I am doing it now. The reason we think we can do something is due to the view point we take - from our own view point, we think can do something useful, even for Jesus! But from God's point of view, any thing that is outside of His plan is nothing - even evil.

We are created by God to be a unique part of His creation. If we don't follow His plan for us, without Jesus, we will be doing our thing and spoiling the great plan of God. It is worse than nothing! The great beauty of the Creation is distorted by us who refuses to play the roles that God has created us for.

In the context, John 15:6 If a man doesn't remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. Vine is meant to produce fruits and not as firewood. Without Jesus, we loose our calling and our way and will end up doing things that are of no value to him. We are building things with the wood and hay and are burnt up as in 1 Cor 3:12-15.

God is not interested in our plan. God does not want us to do things for Him (according to our view of what is good for Him). God invites us to join Him in completing the Master-piece of Creation of which we have a unqiue role to play. We can only be fulfilling and useful, producing good fruits, when we are connected to Jesus to discover His plan for us. We are to be led by His Spirit that we can do useful and meaningful thing. Let's humble ourselves, seek Jesus and response to His leading. We will discover the great plan Jesus has for us. We will be surprised by the accomplishments that He has called to do. Forget about our plan and follow His plan so that we can truly enjoy and live a victorious life - showing forth His glory through us. This is the real meaning of Prov 3:5-6. It is not that we abandon our thinking, but that our thinking must be directed by God.

Paul gave us his understanding of this verse in Meditation on the Bible by Reduction. See Hear - Obey - Glorify also.


Bible for Business Seminar#9 Financials

The key of any business is the Business Model - how do the business make money? Understanding Financial is the Basic of Doing Business. It tells us how well we are running the business. It shows us where the problem areas are and their importance by value.

Luk 14:28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

  1. sit down - it is going to take a lot of time and effort to do the planning
  2. counting the cost - the purpose of accounting - know how to count the right thing rightly
  3. complete it - for the own project or business. Need to be comprehensive and complete.
Profit is a Must and is Good
  • Business need to make profits to keep going.
  • Making profits is the result of the delivery of a good value to customers.
  • Even for non-profit making organizations, profits tells us how efficient we are running the charitable organisation. Cost saving will result in profit.
  • There is nothing bad or evil in making profit. It is what you do to make profits that decide whether it is good or evil.
  • Profits is needed for investing in future, to keep the business going and growing – sowing the seeds.
  • Profits are tithed to God.
We cover the essentials of 4 financial statements:
  • Income Statement (Profit & Loss)
    • How much did we make in a period (e.g. month, year)
  • Balance Sheet
    • How much we have or owe at a point in time.
  • Cash Flow – Sources & Uses of Funds
    • Where did our cash comes from and where did it goes
  • Owner’s Equity (& Retained Earnings)
    • Who owns the business & how much they own.
Optimization & Being a Good Steward
  • Without financial measures, we do not know how to optimize our usage of resources. Optimization of our God given talents and resources are taught in the parables of the Good Stewards (Mat 25:14-30, Luk 19:11-27).
  • If you don’t, your business will go bust.
    • Mat 25:28-29 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
We also discussed how financial statements can be manipulated. It is important to make sure you know your financial well and be skeptical of other financial statements.

Economic Value Add (EVA) = Economic Profit
We present a important measure, EVA, that ties up the Profits from the P&L statement and the Working Capital of the Balance Sheet giving a better measure of true profit.

EVA = Net Operating Profit After Tax - Capital_Used x Weight_Avg_Cost_of_Capital

EVA highlights the following:
  • Working Capital costs money
  • Asset Light is the best policy
    • Using the littlest money to make most profits
  • Note: sometime right decision leads to wrong outcome
    • E.g. sudden rise in the cost of raw materials, inventories may make such agile decision looks foolish – bad outcome.
    • The Solution : Risk Management.
      • Understanding the underlying assumptions especially the assumed trends
      • Figure out how to mitigate the risks.
Cash is more Important than Profits
Profit is a delayed computed measure over a period of time. Profit does not pay your suppliers directly. You use cash (or if supplier allows, may be credit for a time, 30days, but when time is up, cash is please) to pay suppliers and employees. A company can make profits and yet still close down due to lack of cash. There is a trend towards using Free-Cash-Flow (FCF) to measure the 'health' of a company rather than profits.
  • "Cash is King" or "He who has the cash has the say".
  • Time have value.
    Watch out for the time value of money.
    A $1 now is of greater value than $1 at year end.
  • Options have value.
    Keeping the decision options opened have value.
    If two plans give the same return, go for the one with greater options.
    A 3% interest rate for a 6-month and a 12-month fixed deposits are not equal in value.
What to do with the Profits?
  • Firstly, we realize that "Lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth Mt 6:20". Hence, the 1st portion of the profit is for the Lord.
  • Secondly, profits is put back into the business as longer term investment for the future profits. Money is needed to continue to improve and innovate the business.
  • Lastly, take it out and distribute to the owners (shares-holders) as returns for their investment.
    • If you have going for a partnership, make sure there is a clause on how the profit made is to be taken out and distributed.
Metrics for the BSC Financial Perspective
  • Profits - NOPAT
  • FCF Free Cash Flow
  • EVA Economic Value Add, EVA Spread
  • Owners Returns: TSR (3-5 years)
  • EPS Earnings Per Share
  • Employee Productivity
  • Profit/Employee
  • VA/EC ratio Value-Add/Employee-Cost
  • Assets Productivity: ROI, ROCA
The Gathering & Feedback
About 12 of us gathered together for the seminar. The overall rating is 84%. The highest scores of 92% go to Knowledge of Speaker, followed by Length of Talk, Subject Area Coverage, and the lowest score is location 76%. The feedback from the attendees are shown below:

Like Best
  • EVA
  • Biz Value to Customer Delivered - customer pt of view.
  • Value pricing
  • Cost pricing is internal driven or my point of view
  • Retained Earnings, Working Capital, Free Cash Flow
  • Cash is King
  • Explanation with real case studies; different interpretation of financial statements
  • Incorporation of other theories/concepts from other fields eg Michael Porter's 5 forces, EVA.
  • Although financial give a perspective of the state of the business, it is not the only measure.
  • Operational measures & other measures, do play an important part in the running of the business
  • EVA - It enlightens me on the cost of capital
  • Learning about conflict of dept interest, loop holes in accounting system etc.
  • Give me bigger picture of organizational behaviour
  • Its application with real life examples
Like Least
  • nil
  • This talk is a revelation to us - when you know the truth, the truth will set you free
  • This is my 1st time so I do not have a benchmark. But I'm here to learn even though it is not very relevant to my job scope,
  • Have more case studies to drive home points; preferably cases that pertain to current business and economic environment
  • Spread the critical topics and allow more time for Q&A and discussion.


Joyful vs Painful Work

In the last posting, Satisfying & God Glorifying Work, we discuss the purpose of work for redeemed people. Whether we are saved or not, we all have to work. Born again Christians works for his God's calling while others work for a living.

There is a big difference between in the way work is carried out. For the pre-Christians, the work is a work of pains, stress, struggle and sorrow. For the Christian, since Christ has redeemed us from the curse Col 1:9, our work will be joyful, stress-free, and productive. The work could be hard, but we are satisfied in doing and completing the work. Paul in 2 Co 12:10 said he is content (i.e. satisfied!) with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities for when he was weak then he was strong!

In the world economy (world kingdom), work is a struggle and is very stressful.

 In God's Kingdom or the God's economy, work is joyful and productive. In world economy, there are pressures for people to perform. They are to do whatever within legal restrictions to produce a desired outcome. But due to man's sin nature, man can legalize morally wrong thing e.g. abortion.What is legal may not be morally right in God's view. Competitive forces can cause people to go beyond the limits of ethics. Men and women can become work-a-holics to meet business targets. How can this struggle and burnt-out be prevented ? By innovation and creativity given by God. By the productivity of the resources used that are blessed by God such as in the land, weather and seeds.

God's Kingdom operates differently from World Economy. We must understand Kingdom's operating principles and apply them to lives here on earth to get the benefits. The 1st principle of Kingdom Operation is Mat 6:33 and later stated again by Paul in Rom 14:17. This is best shown below:

To gain better understanding, we need to reverse Gen 3:17-19. There are other verses like Ps 127:2 and Mark 4:27 that shows us it is God who will provide for us as we obey Him, as follows:

  • Do NOT follow the Worldly System of stressful work - working for a living; working for a promotion; be involved in the office politics.
  • Trust God's providence and His Kingdom Principles - work for a giving and blessings to others in God's ways glorifying God. God will reward you.


Satisfying & God Glorifying Work

Work is Ordained by God to be a Blessing
Is there any difference between Christians and to-be-Christians attitudes toward work? There is a common misunderstanding that work is the curse and result of Adam's sin. Work is actually ordained by God before Adam's sin. Below is the mind-map giving additional details:

Purpose of Our Work
The main difference then for Christians: work is fulfilling the calling God has for us. We do not work for a living but for glorifying God with our life. Work is our worship to God. Our work is work of faith and obedience to God. The details are shown in the mind-map below:

How Should We Work
If our work is to glorify God and fulfilled our unique calling, then how shall we work? The Bible gives us very clear teaching including the things that we should do. See the map below:

In summary, we work to glorify God and leave it to God to reward us. It is God's responsibility as Father to provide for us and it is us as children to obey our Father in doing excellent work to glorify Him.

Please see next posting Joyful vs Painful Work