Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Learn Manhood from David #3 Overcome Family Dysfunctions, Low Self-Worth and Wanted-to-Proof Syndrome

"In the same way, all seven of Jesse's sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.' Then Samuel asked, ‘Are these all the sons you have?' ‘There is still the youngest,' Jesse replied. ‘But he's out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.' ‘Send for him at once,' Samuel said. ‘We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.'"
(1 Samuel 16:10-11, NLT)

Since finished diploma at UiTM, I was very driven to be knowledgeable, smart, and insightful. I studied all the time – night and day, devour books on various subjects, learning online, and attended seminars and talks (free and paid). When I asked myself, what drives me to become who I was and am today, I was shocked by my own answers. Partly, as I was growing up, my parents never tell me that I'm smart. Because I didn't further my study like any other of my friends after diploma (due to financial difficulties), some of them look down on me. I can see that in their eyes. The elders in the church and family members have that ‘look' when I told them that I'm working as such and such. Unimpressive. A friend of my girlfriend told her that if she married me, she will get nothing, no future. Since, I determined that someday, somehow, I'd prove them all wrong! All of this inner turmoil and the desire to proof-myself haunted me early on. Now, with Jesus Christ as my Saviour, He saved [and still in the process of saving some part of] me from being weight down by people's opinion and divert my [same] motivation toward glorifying God in my life.

The fact is, others that are close to us and especially families form us into who we are. In the Bible, young David didn't have great family and friends encouragement either, and the lack of it affected his entire life. His family situation set him up for tough times ahead. In fact, his family was as dysfunctional as they come. His brothers constantly antagonized him, and his father neglected him (and most traditions said that David was Jesse's son from another wife and born out of wedlock). Talk about the potential for developing a poor self-image! As a result of the way his family treated him, David apparently struggled his whole life with a performance-based personality and a drive to prove himself worthy at all costs. His family left an indelible mark on his life as he gained power, influence, and significance. During one of our Bible Study, someone responded to how David deals with his rebellious son, Absalom: "David is a good king, but a bad father." Guess who he it learned from?

Typically, our family dysfunctions drive us either to overcompensate for what is lacking in our most fundamental relationships or to rely more fully upon God to take up the slack we've experienced in those relationships. For example, you may have received certain messages from your biological family that now are contributing to patterns of sin in your life. You may hold the aching pain of loss within you, you may want to prove to others that you have what it takes, or you may want to show that you're in control. Many men medicate themselves daily by overworking, overeating, raging, viewing pornography, drinking alcohol, or by pursuing ‘success' – whatever it takes! These are how we hide our pains or maybe as our escape tactics. Yet, our anxiety continues, and life remains somehow incomplete – in spite of their wonderful outward appearances.

So now we men must ask ourselves, How do we overcome the hand we've been dealt and take responsibility for our lives? How do we let our self-worth, fears, and anxieties move us closer to God rather than farther away? How did David do this? One of the clue we can find it during his final speech to his son, Solomon before his death: "I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go…" (1 Kings 2:2-3). Only God can change you inside-out, so be Fathered by Him. And by His Son, you will be made new – and His Word can overcome the hurtful and destructive past, and move you toward a better future. It’s not a onetime event, of course, it’s a process. Men, for His glory!

Have Courage.
Be A Man.

Observe and Keep God's Word in Your Life.
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Monday, June 25, 2018

Learn Manhood from David #2 Handsome With Inner Character > Outer Appearances

The Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart"
(1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)

In his book, Wild At Heart, John Eldredge explained the nature of man after Genesis 3:10, "You don't need a course in psychology to understand men… We are hiding, every last one of us. Well aware that we, too, are not what we are meant to be, desperately afraid of exposure, terrified of being seen for what we are and are not, we have run off into the bushes… Most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a façade, an elaborate fig leaf, a brilliant disguise." In short, John called it – the Poser.

King Saul was a poser. When the pressure was on, in the heat of the battle, his true character revealed itself. Confused and fearful, he tried to engineer circumstances by partially obeying God's clear instructions when it served his own purposes. But when confronted with his disobedience, Saul justified, rationalized, and attempted to excuse his actions. For example, when Samuel found out that Saul sacrificed the burnt offering by himself, Samuel was furious and Saul gave this excuse, "You didn't arrive…" Just like when Adam when fall into temptation said to God, "It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit…" (Read the whole event in 1 Samuel 13:8-14). Saul's heart was dominated by self-righteous and arrogance toward the things of God. Tragically, we men are a lot like Saul in some areas of our lives. Oh, correction… Tragically, I'm a lot like Saul in most area of my life!

What a contrast David was! While Saul pursued independence from God, David longed for a deeper intimacy with Him: "I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart" (Psalms 40:8). Although David's life, like any man's, was riddled with inconsistencies, his heart remained consistently pure toward God. In the sight of the Lord, David was transparent and open toward God. He was not a poser.

Like David, we all struggle and fail at times. Yet if we fall because of sin, we know that our standing with God remains just as it was: "If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:8-9). When David sinned, he confessed and repented. Thus, God forgave him and he was "cleanse from all wickedness." But when Saul sinned, he just regretted it and do nothing. He was “fooling” himself and “not living in the truth.” This is the difference between David's and Saul's heart. Our conduct reflects our character, and our character reflects what is ordering our hearts. If we want to change our conduct, then our character must change. And if we want to improve our character, our hearts must be transformed. "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psalms 51:10).

Again, like David, we can ride out any storm if our hearts are secure in the Lord and in His love for us. As Thomas a' Kempis, a Christian mystic, once said, "Man weighs your actions. God weighs your intentions." As God weighs the intentions of your heart, which way is the scale tipping?

"Most Christians are still living with an Old Testament view of their heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says, 'My heart is deceitfully wicked.' No, it's not. Not after the work of Christ, because the promise of the new covenant is a new heart" (John Eldredge)
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Book Review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (2011) by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced: A Memoir (2011)
by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

Done some research. Husnia al-Kadri, the director of women’s affairs at the University of Sana’a, Yemen, oversaw a recent study revealing that more than half the girls in Yemen get married before the age of eighteen. Delphine, ghost-writer of this book, in the Epilogue, writes that “in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, one year after Nujood’s historic court case, an 8-year-old Saudi girl married off by her father to a man in his 50s successfully sued for divorce – the first time such a thing has happened in that ultraconservative country.” In the Arab and African countries, child marriages are customary, even (sadly) normal. In September 2013, The Guardian reported that an 8-year-old Yemeni child (identified only as Rawan) was married to a 40-year-old “died of internal bleeding on her wedding night.” Arwa Othman, an activist, said, "On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death. They took her to a clinic, but the medics couldn't save her life." In Yemen, there is a tribal proverb that say: “To guarantee a happy marriage, marry a 9-year-old girl.” Disgusting! According to the UN, 37,000 girls under the age of 18 are married each day.

Back to Nujood Ali. With this background, due to “poverty, local customs, and a lack of education” and even “family honour, the fear of adultery, the settling of scores between rival tribes” (among many other reasons and/or excuses for child marriage) Nujood’s childhood, somewhat 10-year-old at that time, came to abrupt end in 2008 when her mischievous father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. Mona, her eldest sister, once tried to reason with her father, “Nujood is way too young to get married.” To this, the father replied, “Too young? When the prophet Muhammad wed Aisha, she was only 9-year-old.” “Yes,” insisted Mona, “but that was in the time of the Prophet. Now things are different.” The father won’t listen. The husband ‘promised’ to the family that he will not have sex with Nujood until her first period, but he didn’t honour it. He raped and abused her brutally, “You are my wife! From now on, I decide everything.” In her heart, she prayed and plead for help, but nobody heard her. Once when she met her father, told him everything, wanted a divorce, the father simply replied, “If you divorce your husband, my brothers and cousins will kill me! Sharaf, honour, comes first. Honour? Do you understand?Honour, bullshit!

For many weeks, she contemplated of running away. But where? She doesn’t know yet, but she was determined. “I have always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything,” she thought, “Today I have decided to say no.” With this declaration, she gathered her courage and started the journey of daring escape. She went to court and would speak to anyone – judges – who then eventually take noticed of her and her miserable story. For the rest of the story, read this exciting book. You’ll be angry, you’ll cry (men probably cry in their hearts), you’ll be filled with love then hope – hope for humanity amid evil systems, traditions, and even religions. Nujood dreams to become a lawyer, she said, “When I grow up. I’ll be like a lawyer, like Shada [Nujood’s lawyer], to defend other little girls like me. If I can, I’ll propose that the legal age for marriage be raised to eighteen. Or twenty. Or even twenty-two! I will have to be strong and tenacious. I must learn not to be afraid of looking men right in the eye when I speak to them. In fact, one of these days I’ll have to get up enough courage to tell Aba that I don’t agree with him when he says that, after all, the Prophet married Aisha when she was only nine years old... I hope to go to college and study law. If I work hard, I’ll get there.”

Nujood, by God’s grace, may you find success and achieve your dream. Inshá allá. Amin.

[P.s.: Sad to say that it was reported in March 2013 that Nujood’s father has used proceeds from her book royalty deal to marry (again) and has arranged wedding for her younger sister, Haifa. Her father’s position “is upheld in Yemeni law. There are plenty of judges who support him and are unsympathetic [to Nujood]." "I won't let it happen to her [Haifa]," says Nujood to the Guardian, "I will speak to as many journalists and lawyers as possible about this. It is illegal." Animal!]


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Learn Manhood from David #1 Refuse to Compromise

[Now] your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command
(Said God the King through the Prophet Samuel to King Saul, 1 Samuel 13:14, NLT)

Men experience tough times; God never promised we wouldn’t. And though the Bible doesn’t reveal how to escape our hardships, it does show us how to get through them. James 1:2 says, “Dear brothers and sisters when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” “…when troubles come…” So, it’s not whether we will face tough times, but when.

We can learn a lot about dealing with tough times from David. In the midst of hardship, he didn’t compromise – which says a lot about the kind of man David was. Many men cave under pressure but David held strong. Here’s what was going on at the time: Israel was involved in a religious war. The priesthood was corrupt (Eli’s, the high priest, sons both priests were corrupt! See 1 Samuel 2:12-13) and the judges were dishonest and abusive (Samuel’s, the prophet, sons both judges were wicked! See 1 Samuel 8:1). During the war, Palestine had captured the Ark of the Covenant, Israel’s symbol of God’s presence. Israel was in the thick of spiritual darkness. They refused to listen to the Prophet Samuel’s warnings and openly rebelled against God’s Word.

With the people’s eyes diverted from God, they looked at the world around them and saw what appeared to be the perfect solution – a king. They complained and demanded to Samuel, “Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have” (1 Samuel 8:5). Although Samuel warned the people about the consequences of demanding a king, their tunnel vision and lack of concern for God’s plan created a powerful movement to find a king (read 1 Samuel 8:6-22). So God gave Israel over to its careless and impatient demands and allows ‘the Plan B’ king – people’s choice – to take the throne. This king set the stage for Israel’s long and tumultuous history.

The man Samuel anointed as king was Saul “the most handsome man in Israel – head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land” (1 Samuel 9:2). This man and his exploits significantly shaped David’s own destiny. In fact, we often find that Saul serves as the classic bad example when we contrast his actions with David’s. Saul became David’s boss, nemesis, and bounty hunter. Saul typically reacted to challenges very differently than David. Instead of obeying God and refusing to compromise, Saul caved in and tried to engineer the circumstances to his own benefit. Here are three (3) examples of how Saul is different from David in dealing with tough times:

Taking Responsibility
He tries to justify his actions
(1 Samuel 15:15)
He took ownership of his sin
(2 Samuel 12:13)
He was afraid of the people and did what they demanded (1 Samuel 15:24)
The fear of the Lord caused him to repent (2 Samuel 12:13)
He ends up became a fearful king
(1 Samuel 17:11)
He was courageous always
(1 Samuel 17:32; 2 Samuel 17:8)

Men must endure hardships, challenges, and temptations in tough times and refuse to compromise. As Patrick Henry writes, “Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.” The big question that keeps in my mind as I think of these two characters is this: When times get tough, am I more like Saul or David?

Teach me your ways, O LORD,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you
(Psalms 86:11)

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tough and Tender: What Every Woman Wants In a Man by Joyce Landorf [Book Review]

Tough and Tender: What Every Woman Wants In a Man (1975, 1981)
by Joyce Landorf

What does a woman want in a man? Joyce Landorf Heatherley, musician, speaker, and author, wrote, "I think I speak for Christian women all over the world when I say we do not expect a man to be something he is not – some spiritual giant of the faith, a romantic knight in shining armour, or a man of unlimited wealth, power, and influence. No, these are not the qualities we long for. We want a man to be himself. God has designed each of us to be highly original with many varied skills and talents. We want our man to be uncompromisingly tough of character and gently tender of heart." I was shocked by the year of this book first published (1975) and the relevancy of the contents of it with today's situations and needs. Though I think this book should be retitled as ‘What Every Woman Wants In a Husband,' it is so helpful (and biblical) that every man – singles or married – will be encouraged by this book and should want to be tough and tender (This remind me of Stu Weber's book on manhood, Tender Warrior).

For example, when Joyce shared about the ‘Principle of Loving Starting in the Kitchen,' a young minister told her, "My wife and I get along very well, but we have one serious area of conflict in our lives. It seems every time we sit down to eat our evening meal, the phone rings, and it's always for me. My wife wants me to ignore it and let it ring, but I'm a minister and I feel guilty if I don't answer it… I'm torn between my responsibility to my church… and my love for the family… should I let it ring?" this is what Joyce writes: "The phone has now become a real necessity of life, but the longer I live with phones, the more I wonder if we aren't paying an unreasonable amount of attention to their ringing. Housewife drops everything from the laundry to (sometimes) the baby in order to answer a phone's urgency… The minister was right in his concern about his phone calls. Many people are just now beginning to evaluate and measure the extent to which a ringing phone will dictate their lifestyles."

So, Joyce helped this man to see the importance of focusing on the time together with his family and by not answering the phone during meal times give the important message to the family, "My wife is more important to me" and "My children are going to have my undistracted attention." This book was first published in 1975 when the first mobile phone was made in 1973 by Motorola weight about 1.1kg, only 30 minutes talk-time, and took around 10 hours to charge! How much more men today need to give an undivided attention to their family and away from the smartphone! This is only one example of how relevant and timely Joyce's insights for men's today.

This book is divided into eight (8) chapters:

Chapter 1: Thanks, Wife, I Needed That! In this chapter, Joyce wants to encourage men to "fall madly and passionately in love with your wife. See your children as the priceless gifts of God they really are. [And] celebrate life, no more existence. With tremendous joy and confidence celebrate daily as the man God wants you to be."

Chapter 2: The Man or the Myth? Here Joyce lists four top myths about what "the world" think what it took to be a man today (in 1970's and even today): 1) Physical attractive; 2) Have credentials; 3) Super-Jock sexually; and 4) Make it financially. "If you try these myths and compare yourself with them, it will be easy to lose the real man you are… Under fire and pressure, these myths do not hold up. You must be wise in seeking out God's direction and you must be constantly separating fact from fiction if you are to be the man and not the myth."

Chapter 3: The Decision Maker. Joyce was asked by other women, "Do you believe in being a submissive wife?" Her answer is: "Based on my husband's brand of leadership, is a resounding – yes! But keep in mind my yes is because of Dick's [her husband] faithfulness to being the husband God wants him to be." She continues, "The man who is a decision maker and a leader no longer presents the image of a stubborn, overbearing man; he is a tough man, dedicated to being God's man."

Chapter 4: The Spiritual Leader. About men and prayer lives, Joyce gives few workable and practical bits of advice to the husbands: 1) Make the time, in the ideal place, for conversational prayer with your wife; 2) Keep your requests simple, honest, and liberally sprinkled with genuine thankfulness; 3) Listen to your wife's requests with all your hearing ability; 4) Ask God to give you a keep sensitivity to know when to drop everything and right-then-and-there pray aloud; 5) Be real in praying; and 6) Before you pray, check your attitude and treatment of your wife. "Being the spiritual leader means being a spirit-filled man who commands in life, who teaches in love, and who respects others in love." He is the man like Joshua, a spiritual leader for the nation and his own family, "As for me, and my family, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

Chapter 5: The Exceptional Listener. Joyce said that listening is as tough as making the decisions and being the spiritual leader of your house, but it can be done. Here are some of her probing questions for men to reflect on 1) Have you already stopped listening? 2) Do you listen without presuming or judging? 3) Do you ever listen by touching? 4) Are you communicating in honesty? 5) Do you communicate in written words? 6) Are you a gut-level listener? And 7) Do you take time to listen? "It is up to you – in your house – to set the wheels of listening in motion."

Chapter 6: The Wise Gentleman. "I read once, and I can't remember where," recalled Joyce, "that the very best portion of a good man's life was found in his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. I agree, and I must add that courtesy is the oil and lubricant for all relationships – but especially as used by the wise gentleman." To be a wise gentleman, Joyce suggestions husbands to: 1) Let her [wife] know you love her; 2) Let her know you respect her; 3) Invest in your wife's stock in front of your children; 4) Cultivate and maintain a sense of humour; and 5) Take a good look at the social manners in your life and home.

Chapter 7: The Gentle Lover. Basically here Joyce wrote about the husband-wife sexual relationship – and the communication and understanding before the sex, and why it's important. "The issue of being a gentle lover and the functions of sex in our lives is not nearly as important as the world around us makes it be. On the other hand, the ‘marriage bed' is definitely to be a part of our lives, our existence, and our enjoyment… I would pray for God's wisdom and direction. Since He created your human sexuality you can trust Him, even with your love life, to make your marriage bed a bed of joy and gentle loving."

Chapter 8: A Most Unlikely Man. I find that this chapter is the most inspiring and life-changing for me. "Above all," Joyce inspired the man in me to "be God's man, no matter how unlikely you may feel. As the man of today, you will not have an easy task in becoming the tough and tender man I have described. However, if you have truly laid your life and loves in God's hands, you have won half the battle. Press on, Dear Man. All our days here are so brief, but the time spent in learning to be God's man is worth every second of it!"

I closed this book with a renewed desire to be the man of God.
Praise God, and thanks, Joyce.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #24 Find A Purpose

More than anything else, having a sense of purpose keeps a person going in the midst of adversity. Business consultant Paul Stoltz did an extensive study on what it takes for individuals to persist through setbacks.

According to Stoltz, the most important ingredient of persistence is, “Identifying your mountain, your purpose in life, so that the work you do is meaningful. I run into people every day who are basically climbing the wrong mountain. People who have spent 20 years or more of their lives doing something that has no deep purpose for them. Suddenly they look back and go, ‘What have I been doing?’

If you are a purpose-driven person naturally, then you probably already possess an innate sense of direction that helps you overcome adversity. But if you’re not, then you may need some help. Use the following steps to help you develop a desire:

1) Get next to people who possess a great desire
2) Develop discontent with the status quo
3) Search for a goal that excites you
4) Put your most vital possessions into that goal
5) Visualize yourself enjoying the rewards of that goal

If you follow this strategy, you may not immediately find your ultimate purpose, but you will at least start moving in that direction. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing.”

How sure are you that you are climbing the right mountain?

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Timothy, This Is the Great Mystery of Our Faith (Six-Fold Descriptions about Christ in 1 Timothy 3:16)

"Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith:
Christ was revealed in a human body
and vindicated by the Spirit.
He was seen by angels
and announced to the nations.
He was believed in throughout the world
and taken to heaven in glory"
(1 Timothy 3:16, NLT)

After Paul wrote about "how people must conduct themselves in the household of God" (v.15), he now focuses on what is at stake and why it is important to do so (v.16). He begins by saying "without question" or contradiction. It gives the thought of something that cannot be denied, "…this is the great mystery of our faith." Mystery? This is not like a mystery novel, unknown or secret truth. Rather, as H. A. Ironside, a Bible teacher, and preacher, said that it is "a secret revealed only to initiates." He continues, "This mystery is that of the incarnation – that God came down to earth, taking into union with His Deity a human body, a human spirit, and a human soul so that He was both God and Man in one blessed, adorable Person." This is the great mystery of our faith; this is the foundation on which our faith stands; this is the foundation of the truth (v.15) – Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Saviour! He is the One in whom is centered the "mystery of our faith." Here are six-fold descriptions about Christ:

#1 Jesus is Fully Human: "Christ was revealed in a human body..." If anyone wants to know what God is like, they can look at Jesus. "No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart. He has revealed God to us" (John 1:18). Again, in John 1:14, "[The Word] became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son." And so, "God was in Christ" revealed in a human body.

#2 Jesus is Fully God: "…and vindicated by the Spirit." Jesus was God manifest in the flesh or revealed in a human body by the revelations of the Holy Spirit on several occasions in His earthly life such as during His baptism, transfiguration, and so forth. During His baptism, for example, God the Father opened the heavens above Him, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and the Father's voice was heard declaring, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy" (Matthew 3:17). Thus, Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit. As you read the gospel stories, you can see that behind His humanity there lies His divinity. He healed, He preached, and He forgives sin all by "the Holy Spirit's power" (Luke 4:14).

#3 Jesus is Greater than Angels: "He was seen by angels…" Do you know that angels – these mighty creatures – were present at the very high points of Jesus' early life and ministries such as His birth, temptation, agony in the garden, resurrection, and ascension? If you read Hebrews 1-2, the angels were there when God the Son was with the Father and the Holy Spirit in heaven. H. A. Ironside puts it this way, "Before God became incarnate in Jesus Christ He was invisible to created eyes. God the Father was invisible; God the Son was invisible; God the Holy Spirit was invisible. Angels could look only upon the glory of God but could not see the invisible One. But when the Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth… they knew they were looking into the face of the God who had created them. As He walked on earth angels were beholding the wondrous works wrought by God manifest in flesh." Angels are created beings, God is the Creator. Therefore, Jesus is greater!

#4 Jesus is the Message of Salvation for All: "…and announced to the nations." Because of Jesus the Son, God was no longer to have one people (the Jews) separated from the rest of the nations (the Gentiles) but His love could go out to all mankind. "Call him [Jesus] Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us'" (Matthew 1:23). This is the message to the nations, "In Jesus Christ, God is with us! Not against us!" All may be saved who turn to Him in faith.

#5 Jesus is the Saviour of the World: "He was believed in throughout the world…" This is a missionary statement. Soon and very soon, the whole world will believe Him. I don't mean that all will believe in Him and be saved. What I mean is that the world will know that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. Jesus prayed for His disciples to the Father that "they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me" (John 17:21). Either the world will believe in Him in faith or rebellion, the Bible is clear all will: "At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11).

#6 Jesus Came to Be Rejected but He Returned in Glory: "…and taken to heaven in glory." Jesus Christ, the Man-God is now in heaven or as Paul says "in glory." What Paul wanted to emphasize here is not so much about where He went but how He went "…in glory." For about 30 years, Jesus walked humbly on earth like one of His own creations. He never did anything but good. He healed people, raised the dead, and loved the sinners. Yet He was despised and rejected. Finally, He bore the ultimate rejection through suffering, pain, and death. But as you and I know that was not the end of the story. This is the redemption story: Jesus was raised back to life! He has risen! He appeared in splendor and glorious body! He was lifted in glory!

It took me about 2 hours to finished writing this article. Every description of Christ in this one verse in 1 Timothy 3:16 is precious and worth to consider and meditate upon. Take your time today to praise and thank Him for who He is and for what He had done for you and me. Amen.


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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Jesus' Leadership #27 Even He Was Open to People's Responses and Ideas, Do You?

Why would a Person with the authority and power of God go around asking people, "What do you want me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51, NLT; Luke 18:41). Some religious leaders ignored Jesus' questions such as this one. According to them, if Jesus really was the Son of God, He would not have asked people what they wanted – He would always be telling them what to do. In their minds, there is no concept of spiritual leadership, but authoritarian-dictatorship.

As a leader (we know that He is first the Saviour), Jesus was open to people and their responses and ideas. He constantly asked His disciples what they were thinking and asked the people in front of Him, "What do you want?" "Do you see anything?" (Mark 8:23) "What are you looking for?" (John 1:38), and more. He encouraged people to ask for things and to be specific in their requests. "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for… For everyone who asks, receives" (Matthew 7:7-8). "You parents – if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?... Of course not!" He asked as to jolt them to think, "So… how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him" (read Matthew 7:9, 11). The whole essence of the Bible is about a loving God who is eager to give His children good things.

I remember reading the Book of Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, after God created animals, "He brought them to the man [Adam] to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one" (2:19). Why would God commanded Adam to choose and "give names to all" the animals (v.20)? Well, unless of course – in His sovereignty – to a certain degree, God desires for a cooperative creative-venture between Himself and humankind. God is interested in our responses and ideas.

Even if you disagree about the cooperative creative-venture I mention above, in the level of humanity, life, as it is, is about co-operation and companionship. What better way to demonstrate that than by being listening and responsive leaders? Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong once said during an interview, "You need people who have their own views, whose views you respect, whom you can have a productive disagreement with, and work out ideas which you might not have come up with, or who improve on ideas you had." Though you can't possibly improve Jesus' ideas, but as a leader, Jesus was open to people, their responses, and ideas.

When was the last time you listened to other's idea?

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Self-Leadership #15 The Power of Mission Statement

What is your organization or business or group about? Why is your product or service worth buying? Who cares about your organization, and why? What do your group believe in? What's indispensable? Where are your team going?

To answer these kinds of core questions, you need to look at your mission. A mission is your organization's reason to exit. It's who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It's what makes you unique. It's why you've all agreed to work together in a common cause. Without a mission, you have no basis upon which to formulate your vision. “A mission statement is not something you write overnight,” write Stephen R. Covey, “but fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life [or organization, business or group]”

All of your organization's practices and decisions should correspond to the mission. If a proposed tactic or strategy (or in the case of Bible Study group, which is in my mind now, if the activity and teaching) is not in keeping with the mission, you don't do it – period. The mission is the standard against which everyone's actions are or should be measured. Therefore, the mission must be clearly stated and that everyone in the organization must be prepared and willing to live by the mission. Ryuho Okawa observed, “The bigger your mission becomes, the greater inspiration you will be given." Here are some examples of mission-statement from FES Malaysia, a non-profit Christian organization that I work in; DUG DOWN DEEP, my weekly Bible Study group; and Richard Angelus' Thought, my blog:

FES Malaysia
Changing Students for Life that they will impact society, church, family, and campuses

To read and study the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation – and to apply the truths in our lives
Richard Angelus' Thought
To inspired readers to THINK BIG, START SMALL, and GO DEEP

Sometimes the mission can be threatening to a leader. Total commitment to the mission means that there are real limits on the leader's authority. If the leader issues orders or planned a project that bypasses or conflicted with the mission, the members of the organization or group are obligated to protect the mission against the leader (of course, this is easier said than done…).

Don't underestimate the power of mission statement. Mahatma Gandhi eloquently puts it this way: "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of human history." So, what is your mission?

Here are three (3) ways to use your mission:

#1 Create a Shared Vision: Good leaders share the vision-creating task to broaden the base of ownership, to generate commitment, and to reduce the level of threat inherent in the planned change.

#2 Link Goals to Purpose: In a healthy organization, all key decisions are put through the screen of the mission. If a proposed goal doesn't support the mission, change course.

#3 Align Your Values: The leader's challenge is to bring stated and practiced values into alignment. The failure to do so leads to organizational cynicism “We say it, but we sure don't do it!” and undercuts the leader's moral authority and credibility.

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John C. Maxwell on Leadership #23 Practice Your Craft Today

William Osler, the physician who wrote The Principles and Practice of Medicine in 1892, once told a group of medical students:

“Banish the future. Live only for the hour and its allotted work. Think not the amount to be accomplished, the difficulties to be overcome, or the end to attained, but set earnestly at the little task at your elbow, letting that be sufficient for the day; for surely our plain duty is, as Carlyle says, ‘Not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.’”

The only way to improve is to practice your craft until you know it inside and out. At first, you do what you know to do. The more you practice your craft, the more you know. But as you do more, you will also discover more about what you ought to do differently. At that point you have a decision to make: Will you do what you have always done, or will you try to do more of what you think you should do? The only way you improve is to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.

People often ask me, “How can I grow my business?” or “How can I make my department better?” The answer is for you personally to grow. The only way to grow your organization is to grow the leaders who run it. By making yourself better, you make others better. Retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” And the time to start is today.

Focus your energy on trying something within your strength zone but
outside of your comfort zone.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Book Review: A Leader’s Legacy (2006) by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

A Leader’s Legacy (2006) by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

One of the top leadership books recommended by other leaders is The Leadership Challenge by the same authors. Since I found this one in the library, and this one is the latest between the two and is shorter in volume than the other, and since each chapter in this book is briefer and nontechnical like the other one – I borrowed this one and I’m pleased with my decision. Satisfied customer! The idea of this book begins when their editor, Susan Williams, wanted both of them to write a book that was “a free-flowing exploration of leadership topics and lessons” that they learned over about two decades of experiences. She challenged them to “come down from the podium” and to be “much more personal, introspective, subtler, and at times, more blunt” in their writing style. And so this book is concise lessons that they learned in all those years. As a reader, this is good because it means I don’t have to read their other books.

What interest me about this book is the word “legacy.” Either you’re a leader or a leader with no formal title or a student of leadership (like me), every leader I’ve ever worked and talked with wants to leave a legacy. Thinking about our legacies requires us to move beyond short-term definitions of success. Legacies encompass past, present, and future, and when I pondered about my legacy, I’m forced to consider where I’ve been, where I’m now and where I’m going. I’m brought face-to-face with questions of who I am and why I’m here. “By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered,” writes Kouzes and Posner, “we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter. By living each day as if we matter, we offer up our own unique legacy. By offering up our own unique legacy, we make the world we inhabit a better place than we found it.”

Even though there were little ‘new ideas’ on leadership in this book, I’m challenged to think (or focus-thinking) about the legacies that I want to leave behind me. I’ve read books on leadership that touch on the subject of legacy, but none as intentional, personal, and provocative as this one. Here Kouzes and Posner examine in 21 chapters – arranged into four parts – the critical questions all leaders must ask themselves in order to leave a lasting impact. Below are the contents with my selection of quotes for each part:


When we move on, people do not remember us for what we do for ourselves. They remember us for what we do for them. They are the inheritors of our work. One of the great joys and grave responsibilities of leaders is making sure that those in their care live lives not only of success but also of significance” (p.10)

Chapter 1: Leaders Serve and Sacrifice
Chapter 2: The Best Leaders Are Teachers
Chapter 3: We All Need Loving Critics
Chapter 4: You Are the Most Important Leader in Your Organization
Chapter 5: No One Likes to Be an Assumption


Leadership is a relationship. It’s a relationship between those who choose to follow. Whatever the relationship is with one or many, leadership requires engaging others. No matter how much formal power and authority our positions give us, we’ll only leave a lasting legacy if others want to be in that relationship with us. Other people decide whether to follow or to run away. Others decide whether to cheer or jeer. Others decide whether to remember us or forget us. No discussion of leadership is complete without considering the quality of the leader-constituent relationship. Leadership requires a resonant connection with others over matters of the heart” (p.48).

Chapter 6: Leadership Is Personal
Chapter 7: Leaders Should Want to Be Liked
Chapter 8: When You Don’t See Eye to Eye, Seek to Understand
Chapter 9: You Can’t Take Trust for Granted
Chapter 10: Let Your People Go


People commit to causes, not to plans. Commitment is fuelled by what we cherish. If the values about which we care deeply are vividly clear to us, then the whims of fashion and the opinion polls won’t side-track us. A lasting legacy is built on a firm foundation of principles and purpose... Leaders must decide on what matters in life, before they can live a life that matters” (p.90).

Chapter 11: Lead from the Inside Out
Chapter 12: Forward-Looking Is a Leadership Prerequisite
Chapter 13: It’s Not Just the Leader’s Vision
Chapter 14: Liberate the Leader in Everyone
Chapter 15: Leaders Are Followers, Too!


Leaving a legacy is all about making a difference. We can only make a difference when we take stands. Every one of us is capable of taking stands on things that matter. That’s what it really means to live a courageous life. It takes courage to realize your dreams and to give meaning to your values. If you’re going to leave a legacy of lasting significance, it’ll be the result of acting courageously… Courageous is the virtue that makes all other virtues possible” (p.132).

Chapter 16: There’s Courage in All of Us
Chapter 17: You Can’t Plan to Be Courageous, But You Can Choose It
Chapter 18: It Takes Courage to Make a Life
Chapter 19: The Courage to Be Human
Chapter 20: Failure Is Always an Option
Chapter 21: No Money-Back Guarantee

Afterward: The Legacy You Leave Is the Life You Lead

The afterward title is worth repeating, read and let it sink in your mind. Read slowly:
The Legacy You Leave Is the Life You Lead. Lead on!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Timothy, the Church Is [Only] the Keeper of the Truth, [Only] Jesus is The Truth (1 Timothy 3:14-15)

"I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth"
(1 Timothy 3:14-15, NLT)

I can feel Paul's anticipation to meet Timothy and the church of Ephesus soon when I read, "I hope to be with you soon." Based on this, I personally think that Paul was freed from prison when writing this letter as oppose to a man waiting and expecting death as he does in 2 Timothy. Although he expected to see Timothy soon, he felt it necessary to give these important instructions (start from 1 Timothy 1:18, "here are my instructions…" to 1 Timothy 3:13) concerning church leadership. These instructions are also called "sound doctrine" (see 1 Timothy 1:10). John MacArthur points out, "The basic task of the church is to teach sound doctrine." So Paul wrote this letter so that Timothy would know how to "conduct" (or "behave") himself and the church, which is "the pillar and foundation of the truth."

"The truth" is undoubtedly what Paul wrote in chapter 1 verse 1 to 17 and it ultimately refers to the truth of the message of salvation through Jesus Christ who is "the truth" (see John 14:6). Now, this is interesting, Paul is not saying that the church is the pillar or foundation of salvation. Christ is the foundation of salvation, "No one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have – Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). This is clear, right? But what about the church? The church is [only] the guardian and keeper of the truth. Never forget that! The leaders must conduct themselves in the spirit of truth. "The household of God" must be founded on the truth. "The church of the living God" is the keeper of the truth. The church, however, is not the truth in itself. Pilate Pontius once asked Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). Jesus didn't answer him because He already told him (see John 18:37) – and because He is there, the truth-manifested. "I am the way, the truth, and the life," He told His disciples, "No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

Preacher G. Campbell Morgan said this about the purpose of the church: "The Church of God apart from the Person of Christ is a useless structure. However ornate it may be in its organization, however perfect in all its arrangements, however rich and increased with goods, if the Church is not revealing the Person, lifting Him to the height where all men can see Him, then the Church becomes an impertinence and a sham, a blasphemy and a fraud, and the sooner the world is rid of it, the better." One more quote. This one is by Major Ian Thomas, he emphasized that "Jesus Christ Himself is the final exegesis of all truth. He is all that we need to know about God, and He is all that we need to know about man."

Examine Question:
If Jesus Christ is the foundation of our salvation – and the hope of the world,
and the church is the guidance and keeper of the Truth that is – Jesus Christ,
then, what you and me – the church – do about the Truth? 

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