Chinese New Year Yu-Sheng and the Aaronic Blessings

The Yu-Sheng dish is a great opportunity for us to get together and proclaim blessings on one another. The process is called Lo Hei, mixing and bringing up the best wishes and blessings. Here is the list in the order of the serving and blessings. It matches well with the Aaronic Blessings and hence for believers, consider using the Aaronic Blessings as well when you next partake this dish.

In this 2013 Chinese New Year period, most of us would have partaken at least four to five times this recent invention of "Yu Sheng" 鱼生 Dish. It is a dish of blessings that we enjoy together with our family, in-laws, colleagues, friends and business partners throughout this fifteen days. There are a particular order and protocol for serving this dish. As each ingredient is added, a word of blessing is pronounced and finally ended with everyone putting their chop-sticks and mix up and stir up the ingredients as high as possible signifying the height of great blessings.

This reunion type of lunch or dinner reminds me of believers holy communion as well. I have always tried to see if we can relate the Chinese blessings to biblical blessings as well. The blessings are like the Benedictions of a Church Service. So most of the benedictions can be considered. I also try to search for the relevant biblical verses. Eventually, I found that the Aaronic Blessings of Numbers 6:22-24 shockingly matches the Chinese Blessings, 6 parts blessings to the 6 ingredients to be added to the main salad. Here is the mind-map giving the details.

For the final blessing, I think it is good that we give thanks to the Lord God, our Heavenly Father, the source, and giver of all our blessings.

So, in your next Yu-Sheng together, besides the Chinese Blessings, maybe you can consider reciting the Aaronic Blessings as well, especially if you are with believers.

For this Chinese New Year,
  May the Lord 1 bless you and 2 keep you.
  May He 3 makes His face to shine upon you that you may know his great treasures for you,
                4 be gracious to you putting your life in order and beauty.
  May He 5 turn His face towards you and receive you fully
                6 and give you peace and wholeness of health, wealth and relationships.
  May His Name and His Kingdom be exalted forever.

Lim Liat (c) 19 Feb 2013

《Updated 1 Feb 2016》
Here is the shortened version of Aaronic Blessings on Yu Sheng Preparation:

Yu Seng is the Aaronic Blessings. See http://christianity-rediscovered.blogspot.sg/2013/02/chinese-new-year-yu-sheng-and-aaronic.html

1 Squeeze Lime on the raw fish and say 大吉大利
The Lord bless you with great fortunes and profits - Num 6:22a

2 Put in the fish on the main plate and say 年年有鱼
The Lord keep you always with having fish to eat &
guard you with a hedge of protection - Num 6:22b

3 Put in the peanuts, sesame seeds, and say 五福临门  (长寿, 富贵, 康宁, 好德, 善终)
The Lord make His face shine upon you with blessings that come like the sands of the beaches and the stars of the sky. - Num 6:23a

4 Sprinkle the pepper & spies power & say 招财进宝
and bringing in the wealth and precious treasures.
(Some versions use 鸿运当头 Great Fortunes are pouring down on your head.)

5 Pour in the oil and say 顺顺利利
The Lord be gracious to you making sure all go well with you - Num 6:23b

6 Pour in the sweet sauce and say 甜甜蜜蜜
The Lord turns His face toward you to have intimate relationships with you and that all your relationships may be sweet - Num 6:24a

7 Spread the crackers and say 满地黄金
The Lord gives you shalom peace of abundance everywhere - Num 6:24b.

8 Everyone stirs up the ingredients resulting in 风生水起 (the wind blows and the water is stirred up meaning all things starts to grow and make progress) and say 恭喜发财 "wishing all great joy and riches."
Praise the Lord. "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever" Mat 6:13
For you are our glory and joy. 1Th_2:20


The Essence of Christianity - Reflection in Chinese New Year 2013

Chinese New Year is an annual reminder for us to clean the house, pay our depths, close the past nicely and prepare to welcome the new. A key verse is 辞旧迎新 ( or 送旧迎新 or 弃旧迎新)translated as sending off the old and welcoming the new. The old badness is hopefully replaced by the new goodness. But with time, the new will decay to old and we repeat this cycle of life.  It will be great if the new will remain and we add newness yearly breaking free from this vicious circle to a greater height of newer life.  But the Spring of the new year is the abundant growth of new lives. The lifeless winter is replaced by the life of spring, hinting to us the possibility of new life. Giving New Life to remove the lifeless and badness is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The essence of Christianity is best captured in the quote "Jesus did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live!" preached by many famous preachers. We will benefit much by meditating on it.

Here is a mind-map:
1. Not about Making Bad Men Good
This is the differentiating factor of Christianity from all other religions. Religions, in general, teach a set of codes for good conduct and men shall be saved by following the codes. Another form is a summation of good works minus the bad works to give a positive result that qualifies one to enter heaven. But Christianity is gutsy enough to face the fact that while men are created in the image of God with goodness and greatness within, men still suffer from this great sin of wanting to be his own God and wanting to define their own standard of right and wrong. When men could not be right, they legalize it to be right! e.g. abortion. It is in fact because of man's ability to be good that we over qualify ourselves thinking that we are not that bad after all. Paul recognized this righteousness from his flesh is nothing but dung. Philippians 3:8
Calvin said that men are so bad that they will not know to seek God. It is by the grace of God that we realize our badness to seek for God. The hope is then not on man to try to be good but to realize man's hopelessness to save himself. The goodness of man is a stumbling block of self-righteousness. The better we become, the more self-righteous and godlessness we become!

2 Making Dead Man Alive!
The solution to man's problem is a transformation of rebirth by the Holy Spirit, and to acknowledge and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 3:16-18). Our decaying body is but a simple and sure proof that we are in fact dying and will one day be fully dead. Rom 8:19-22 tells us that the whole creation is 'groaneth and travaileth in pain' waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.

The needed strengths for the new life comes from God through His Spirit and not of our flesh.

See Flesh vs Spirit - Flesh is Not Body by Mapping Rom 8.

May your Chinese New Year be filled with the truly New Life.

 See also Eat, Drink & Enjoy - A Reflection on Sunday's Chinese New Year ...


Flesh vs Spirit - Flesh is Not Body by Mapping Rom 8:1-16

There is much confusion about flesh and body. While flesh and body are closely related, they are not the same. This can be made clear by a study of Rom 6 and 8. In this post, a mind-map of Rom 8:1-16 is done. A visual map rather than a paragraph of text help clarifies the understanding. Flesh is used in contrast against the Spirit. Body could be ruled by the Spirit or the Flesh that leads to two very contrasting end points of life and death. It is then better to classify our status as either the New Man in Christ or the Old Man in the flesh. Whether New or Old, we have a spirit and soul(mind) that live in a Body. Body per se is the creation of God and is precious. Rom 6:13 tells us to present our body not for unrighteousness but as instruments of righteousness and Rom 12:2 tells us to present our body as a living sacrifice to God. So we need to take good care of our body.

Here is the visual map of Romans 8:1-16.

A great advantage of a visual map is that it shows the relationships among concepts very clearly. We proceeds from higher level concepts and drill down to finer concepts to increase our understanding. Another good thing about visual map is that you can start from anywhere and trace back to gain increasing understanding of the concept.

I have number of concepts so that you can follow it. It is just a starting point. You may start with any concept you like.

The Key Concepts

  1. New Man.
    1. The difference between a believer and a non-believer is the concept of a born again New-Man by the Spirit of God. Our spirit is rebirth and is connected to the Spirit of God.
    2. Our body remains the same. 
  2. Old Man.
    1. The key differentiation of old vs new is that old is ruled by the Flesh whereas the new is ruled by the Spirit. 
    2. The Flesh has sin because the Flesh want to be his own God and does not recognize the true Creator God as God. Rom 8:7-8 tell us clearly that the will of the Flesh is against God.
    3. This sin of the Flesh causes the body to walk in unrighteousness and brings forth death.
    4. The only way to get rid of sin in the Body is through Jesus Christ 8:3 and be rebirthed into Christ (Node 6) and then we become children of God.
  3. Spirit of the New Man
    1. The Spirit of the New Man is life and peace (with God too).
    2. It has the righteousness of Christ (not the self-righteousness of our Flesh).
    3. It is freed from sin and fear. 
    4. It is child of God. 
    5. We know God as our Father in our spirit and we cry through our body to call God as Abba (an intimate way of addressing our loving father).
  4. Body
    1. Can be led either by our Spirit or by our Flesh.
    2. If led by our Spirit (rebirthed of God), the our body does work of righteousness and bring forth greater vitality of life and eventual eternal life with God.
    3. If led by our Flesh through its passion, we walk in unrighteousness and is a living death or dying and eventual to eternal death.
  5. Flesh
    1. Is not the body but of a mind, mind of the Flesh.
      Tim Keller defines Flesh as the mindset of man wanting to be his own god and to be in total control. See The Keys to Peace and Joy - Learning from Tim Keller
    2. It is against God. Cannot please God, Actually rejects God and wanting itself to be God. Adam's partaking the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is essentially telling God the he wanted to be his own judge of what is right or wrong. He does not want to be accountable to God but to himself.
    3. The consequence is death - existence in separation from the Source of Life --- God.
  6. In-Christ - Our New Membership in the Body of Christ
    1. We shall have no condemnation.
    2. We have fulfilled the Law in Christ.
    3. We are sons of God.
    4. We follow the new Law of Life of God.
You may also random pick any concept and trace back to learn more.

Hope your knowledge and understanding on this key concepts of Flesh, Spirit and Body are enlightened by this visual map.

Lim Liat (c) 8 Feb 2013


Beatitudes - The Ways of His Kingdom

The Beatitudes as recorded in Matthew 5 give the virtues of the Children of His Kingdom.  They are also the ways of His Kingdom. Here is the process is shown on the map below:

  1. Desire for His Righteousness and Jesus
    The poor in spirit is not about a state of poverty but a realization of one's poverty and the desire to seek the true spiritual wealth. Spiritual desires are to focus on Jesus and His righteousness. Jesus is the personification of righteousness.
  2. Compassion for the Sufferers
    Mourning comes from witnessing the sufferings of those under injustice and the evils that were done. It creates the desire to right the wrongs and saves those under bondage and suffering.
  3. Motive of Pure in Heart
    Purity is about singleness of purpose and cleanliness of heart. Focus enables us to endure under persecutions and distractions of the richness of the world. (e.g. the unfruitful plants in Matthew 13:21-22 of the Parable of the Sower)
  4. Methods for Achieving the Objectives of Righteousness and Jesus.
    Three key approaches are suggested.
    1. Meek - Changing and Touching the People with Love rather than by force or violence.
      It is winning their hearts to obey and follow rather than forcing them to fear punishments. It is reaching out rather than condemning and judging.
    2. Merciful - Forgiven by Jesus and extending forgiveness to others.
      Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
    3. Peacemaker - Resolving conflicts and amending and restoring relationships.
      It is not about covering up the conflicts but revealing them and facing them directly. It is about showing the benefits and reasons for togetherness. It is about working out the visions of the future that all can share and benefit from.
  5. Endurance under persecutions for Righteousness and for Jesus
  6. Objectives of attaining Righteousness and Fullness of Jesus
    When we share Jesus and pursue righteousness in a world that has evil, we shall be persecuted, in various forms, to cause to abandon our work. But our objectives shall not change or waver because of the persecutions.
The blessings of the beatitudes are the rewards and comfort of rest in His Kingdom. 

Lim Liat (c) 5 Feb 2013


Warning Signs of a Marriage

Ps Oh Peng Kee preached on our Mandarin Sunday Service on "The Warning Signs of a Marriage". It is a pity that I could not capture the very interesting stories and illustrations that he told. But the essence of his message is mind-mapped as follows with a little additions of my own:

I constructed the above mind-map using Mindjet on the Android on a LG 4X HD smartphone and edited it using the mindjet on my laptop later.


Demands of Eternal Life - Love God & Men

It is well known that the Laws and Prophets can be summarized as using the least number of words as "Love God & Men" or may be just "Love God" as loving men is contained in loving God because God love man even to die for them. Those that love men may not know God. But those that love God cannot don't love men for loving men is our expression of loving God. This post present related Biblical references to this famous verse of Luke 10:27 to give a better understanding of what that verse means.
Luke 10:25-28 described an incident when an expert in Moses Laws challenged Jesus. Jesus's behavior, like healing on the Sabbaths, reaching out the sinners seems to run contrary to the Laws of Moses. The expert wanted to expose Jesus seemingly disobedience to the Moses Laws. But in end, he was enlightened to the real meaning of Moses Laws .... not about separation of people and condemning them but about embracing and loving of people besides and in-spite of their sins. Yes, the sins are pointed out clearly by the laws but only loving the people and transforming their heart can help them breakout of their sins. The laws is to reveal sins and condemn the sinful deeds that man be awaken to their needs for salvation and for God. That was the passive ways of viewing the Laws. The positive way is to stress on the Love to break free from not only from sins but be empowered to do good.

The interesting point is that even this legalistic Laws expert recognized positive intention of the Laws that he summarized well with Jesus' approval.

Luk 10:27  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

It shows not even unbelievers can discover the truths. Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

It is such an important verse, the summary of all Laws and Prophets, that we should study it carefully. Here is mind-map with the verse broken down in parts and each part augmented with relevant verses to highlight the key teachings.

The Demand of Eternal Life
The demand of eternal life is to love God and men. It is easy to see that we have failed. If we don't know God, we fail immediately. If we know God and not love him totally as shown in v27, we also failed. So this statement just tells us we have no hope to have eternal life. There need to be another alternative way, as revealed in John 3:16. God have to intervene and gives us the eternal life separately from such a demand. So we receive Jesus as our Savior. Being saved, however, does not mean we don't love God and men but rather we are empowered to do more. The demand is just a reflection of what eternal life should look like. It should be something that we do naturally out of the new Zoe Life of God that we are re birthed to become.

(1) It Becomes Natural for the New Life Believers to LOVE
The evidence of our reborn nature is the ability and the urge to LOVE. We become sensitive to God and to the needs of others. Our mind has shifted from self only to awareness of God and of others.

(2) Yours - Personal
The relationship is not an indifference or a general love of some kind. It is 'your' God and 'your' neighbor. We don't say we love the people far away from us. That is easy because we will never meet the people far away. Our love is to be expressed in our direct relationship with God and those in our contact.

(3) God - Our God and the Lord
God is our personal God those God is the Lord of all including us. As God is my Lord, we should obey and worship Him. I have to internalize God's will as my will. Joh 4:34b My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

(4) How to Obey or Do God's Will - With My ALL
We obey and do His will with all of your heart of passion, our will of determination, our full body strengths and capabilities of our mind and thoughts.

(5) Love Neighbor as We Love Ourselves- Any in Need in Our Contact

  1. Our neighbor is not just those we know but those that have needs that arouse our heart. 
  2. How we love them begins with how we love ourselves. If we are in their position, what do we expect others to help us. Mat_7:12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
  3. Confucius teaching bring in additional light. "己欲立而立人,己欲达尔达人“ We must stand up to help others to stand. We must succeed to help others to succeed". So, our own growth is important. In our growth, we must also help others to grow up as well.
(6) God and Men are Together
The way we serve God is usually through serving men. In the judgement day, Jesus said that God is in the least of men! Mat_25:40b 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' and Mat_25:45b T... as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' We cannot say I love God but hate man! 1 John 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

See also Christianity Rediscovered: Gospel in One Word

Lim Liat (c) 1 Feb 2013