Saturday, October 27, 2018

Secret of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth (2005) by T. Harv Eker, A Book Review

Secret of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth (2005) 
by T. Harv Eker

Long time ago I read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (originally written in 1937) because I have a deep desire to become rich. I can’t further my study due to financial crisis. I don’t have impressive resume at that time. And there were no role models to mentor me. No excuse. So, I do the one thing that I can to reach my dream - read books. In Jesus, I’m spiritually rich; by reading, I’m intellectually rich; and soon, I’ll be rich, I reasoned. But many years later, I forget about this deep desire probably due to self-doubt and false idea about money and rich people. This book revives my millionaire mind and revise my money blueprint. Thanks, Harv!

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get rich easily, while others are destined for a life of financial struggle (read above)? Is the difference found in their education (read above), intelligence, skills, timing, work habits, contacts, luck, or their choice of jobs, businesses, or investments? The shocking answer is: None of the above! “If you want to change the fruits [be rich and wealthy], you will first have to change the roots [your money blueprint],” writes Harv, “If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible.” What we need to change? Our mind! The premise of the book is simple: You can learn all the investment, saving or wealth building tips in the world, but if you’re not mentally prepared to own and maintain that wealth the money will go as soon as it arrives. This may sound a little too ‘cheesy and fuzzy’ for some (still is to me now), I found that Harv Eker’s writing is full of practical and powerful concepts which are geared around the goal of mental reprogramming.

Harv suggests that all our thoughts and beliefs about money come from three main sources: #1 Verbal Programming (such as “Money is the root of all evil”Rich people are greedy” “You can’t be rich and spiritual”), #2 Modelling (such as how our parents or guardians think and manage their money) and #3 Specific Incidents (such as what did you experience when you were young around money, wealth and rich people?). Harv believes that these three sources create - at a very young age - our attitudes and beliefs when it comes to money. What he stresses is that our “understanding” is simply a story, a programming that we let ourselves believe to be fact. If you were abuse by verbal programming, declare that: “What I heard about money isn’t necessary true. I choose to adopt new ways of thinking that support my happiness and success.” If you have bad modelling, declare to yourself that: “What I modeled around money was their way. I choose my way.” If you had encountered ‘traumatic’ incidents, declare that: “I release my non-supportive money experiences from the past and create a new and rich future.” To counterattack these negative programming, Harv lists down 17 Wealth Files, namely:

1. Rich people believe "I create my life." Poor people believe "Life happens to me."
2. Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
3. Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
4. Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
5. Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
6. Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
7. Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
8. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
9. Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
10. Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
11. Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
12. Rich people think "both". Poor people think "either/or".
13. Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
14. Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
15. Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
16. Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
17. Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.

[Note: Keep in mind that in the book, page 52, Harv explains why and in what sense he compares generally the rich with the poor. Anyone who read this book and read this summary must withhold criticism by first understand the context of his writing.]

I like this book because Harv was brutally honest and straight to the point, this book is short (just 200-pages) but filled with great insights, there are many practical advice and actionable tips, clear presentations and these wealth files can be applied not just to money but to virtually any aspect of life. The first part of this book, Your Money Blueprint, is very basic for having a positive millionaire mind. Even if you’re not interested in becoming rich after you read this book, you’ll surely be inspired by this part. Now, what I don’t like about this book are 1) No doubt Harv writes a lot about his seminar to the point of annoying to me; 2) Harv is so focus on teaching on being rich in term of monetary that he might missed the other aspect of being rich such as morally, spiritually, peacefully and contented rich life; and 3) The Bible doesn’t say “Money is the root of evil” as Harv said in this book. It is the “Love of money” that “is the root of evil.” In all, I enjoy reading this book. I wish I read this book earlier.

I Have A Millionaire Mind!

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

4 Basic Biblical Responses: Thinking About Homosexuality

Yesterday I had a Bible Study with UCSI Sarawak Christian Fellowship (CF). This week we continue to the second part of the unChristian series on Thinking about Homosexuality. The purpose of this series is to challenge youths to think about real hard issues around us. Today was good and lively. I shared my stories encountered with this issue, they asked questions, we respond to one another and agree on the Scriptures. Here are Four (4) Basic Biblical Responses based on Mark 2:13-17 that I shared with them:

#1 With the Exception of Jesus, We Are All Sinners (Romans 3:23). One struggle with homosexuality, one with pornography. One with gossips, one with murderous-hatred. One with hypocrisy, one with doubt. Levi, the tax collector, money swindler; the Pharisees, prideful religious. Don't judge (with self-righteous attitude) someone just because they sin differently than you do. Knowing that we - Christ followers - are redeemed sinners, humble us.

#2 We Must Treat One Another with Compassion and Love. Every human being has dignity and made in the image of God. Jesus, in the Bible, has compassion for the people because they are like sheep without a shepherd. And what He did? He reached down to them, be with the people and love them unconditionally. Remember, Jesus eats with the sinners. If you cast away, avoid or reject those who are 'different' in sexuality from you, then how they can experience the love of Christ? Who will witness Christ's love to them? There is no discrimination in friendship. No boundaries, no walls. Talk and listen, really listen to understand. Be a friend and be a real friend.

#3 Stand Firm in the Faith: Accept Homosexuals Doesn't Mean We Approve Their Lifestyles. The Bible is clear on homosexual, and it is clear also that we don't have to be a jerk! Draw the line, you don't have to be confused or denying the truth. Hold on to the biblical standard. Be a principle Christian. I said this to my homosexual friend, "I'm straight and I deny homosexual lifestyles, but I'm still your friend. I want to be your friend." Jesus eats with the sinners. He was with sinners the most part of His earthly life. He was called “friend of sinners.” But do you think Jesus approved of their lifestyle? No! Jesus was able to stand firm in His Word and at the same time draw sinners to Himself. He remained holy, set apart. We MUST, and we CAN do the same. Only let the Holy Spirit lead you. Be firm and be kind are not opposed to one another.

#4 Finally, Change Is Possible! Homosexuality is not a simple issue - it is complex. We must know and acknowledge that. It's hard and very challenging for them. But again, nothing is impossible for God. I was blind, now I see. I was lame, now I walk. I was dumb, now I can talk. Change can be slow, gradual and hard. But it is possible. When Levi first met Jesus, he was a tax collector (leader of the sinners); then he follows Jesus, he became a disciple, then his life changed, and we called him now as Matthew, the gospel writer.

So, humble yourself, #1 Know that we are all sinners (or redeemed sinners); #2 Treat one another, regardless of their sexuality or lifestyle, with compassion and love; #3 Stand firm in your faith, don't deny the truth; and #4 Pray and trust that change is possible! God can do it.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Knowing God as My Father Series: From Slave to Child, from Child to Heir (Part 4)

We called God, our Father – Abba Father (the same way children called their father dad or daddy but more). It conveyed the idea of a sense of closeness, affection, and confidence which had not been present before we know God of the Scriptures. Now, to continue the previous article [to read CLICK HERE], the second time the name Abba appears in the Scripture is in Galatians 4:6. To set the context, I quote Galatians 4:4-7: "[But] when the right time came, God sent his Son, born a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.' Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir."

This passage declares that God sent the Son’s Spirit to us to make us want to relate to God as our Abba. Is it remarkable that we believers have been so slow to respond to this, so slow to call God Abba. Note the progression mentioned in this passage. God, through the Son, bought us out of slavery. But He didn't keep us as slaves or possessions (even though He "buy freedom for us"). God adopted us into the family and called us His "very own children." This is Good News! At least, it is good news for me. My father has left my family when I'm still studying at university. It is painful every year during Father's Day because I don't really have a biological father to celebrate with. As for me, God knows that need very well. When God adopted me, He did not keep me – and you – emotionally isolated from Himself. He offered and still offers His love. God desires a close relationship with us, so He draws near and nearer to us and allows us to call Him Abba.

But God doesn't stop there! God has not just adopted us. Through His limitless grace, He has done a much more amazing work. We have been transformed from slaves to children, and from children to heirs (the literal meaning of heir is "someone who has been appointed to receive an inheritance." Taken from God has made us more than stepchildren, He has actually shared the inheritance of the Son with us, the former slaves. In short, that inheritance consists of the fullness and completeness in God – unimaginable, yes – that's the whole point!

I remember a life story that my student told me. His dad had died very suddenly when he was about 7 years old and so he lived with his mother. He had been a very sensitive and somewhat clingy child. But the loss of his dad, the financial burden and the fact that his mother having to work, leave him to spent most of the day with his grandmother. This made him extremely dependent and timid, mama's boy. Sometime later, his mother married a godly man (that was the exact description he used for his step-father). He remembered one day when he was playing with his new father, he said, "Catch me, daddy!" as he jumped out of a tree into his arms. His eyes teared down, "Brother Richard, my dad has made a big difference in my life, my personality and in my manhood."

Wow! If Jesus Christ, the Son, is your Lord and Saviour, then God is your Father. This is not just a spiritual fact, consciously you must realize that intellectually and emotionally that God is your heavenly Father – Abba Father. No matter how old or either you have a biological father or not, good or bad, we all need a spiritual and emotional relationship with God our Father. Surely, it will make a huge difference in your life.


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Monday, October 22, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #33 Break Down Your Dream Into Smaller Goals

Millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie said, “You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.” The same is true of a person on the success journey: she won’t go forward unless she is motivated to do so. Goals can help provide that motivation. Paul Myer commented, “No one ever accomplishes anything of consequence without a goal… Goal setting is the strongest human force for self-motivation.”

Think about it. What is one of the greatest motivators in the world? Success. When you take a large activity (such as your dream) and break it down into smaller, more manageable parts (goals), you set yourself up for success because you make what you want to accomplish obtainable. And each time you accomplish a small goal, you experience success. That’s motivating! Accomplish enough of the small goals, and you’ll be taking a major step toward achieving your purpose and developing your potential.

Goals not only help you develop initial motivation by making your dreams obtainable, but they also help you continue to be motivated – and that creates momentum. Once you get going on the success journey, it will be very hard to stop you. The process is similar to what happens with a train. Getting it started is the toughest part of its trip. While standing still, a train can be prevented from moving forward by one-inch blocks of wood under each of the locomotive’s drive wheels. However, once a train gets up to speed, not even a steel-enforced concrete wall five feet thick can stop it.

[Taken from Your Road Map for Success: You Can Get There from Here (2010) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson.]

Develop Goals that Will Initiate Motivation and Create Momentum.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Upside of Irrationality (2010) by Dan Ariely, A Book Review

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (2010)
by Dan Ariely

"Human beings are irrational," said the author. We human thought (mostly unconscious) that we are objective, rational and logical. We take pride in the ‘fact' that we make decisions based on reason. When we decide to invest our money, buy a home or books, choose restaurants for dinner, or pick a medical treatment, we usually assume that the choices we make are the right ones. Ariely observes, "We are all susceptible to a formidable array of decision biases. There are more of them than we realize, and they come to visit us more often than we like to admit." This book attempt to show us the many ways in which we act irrationally while thinking what we're doing makes perfect sense, and how this irrational behavior can actually be beneficial as long as we use it the right way.

You see, sometimes being irrational has its advantages (as the author keep on emphasized throughout the book). In our optimized world trying to make 100% rational decisions all of the time seems tempting, and most people would probably adopt a robot-like decision-making ability in a heartbeat if they could. Ariely argues that this isn't the best solution, for much of what makes us irrational is also what makes us human and allows us to connect with one another. "Rather than strive for perfect rationality, we need to appreciate those imperfections that benefits us, recognize the ones we would like to overcome, and design the world around us in a way that takes advantage of our incredible abilities while overcoming some of our limitations," said Ariely.

In this book, he asked rational-vs-irrational-based questions such as: Why large bonuses actually make us less productive? Why is revenge so important for us? Why there is such a big difference between what we 'think' will make us happy and what 'really' makes us happy? How to enjoy your work? Why we overvalue what we make? Why 'my' ideas are better than 'yours' regardless of its quality and brilliance?  Why we get used to things even though it is sometimes irrational to do so? Why does an online dating fail? Why we shouldn't act on our negative feelings? Why do we respond to one person who needs help but not too many? And many more. Some questions are common sense, but sometimes we don't really know what's the thinking and motives behind those actions and responses. Here Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics, social scientist, answered these questions based on his (and partners) researches and experiments. These may sound technical and somewhat boring to some – but not so. If Ariely wrote it, he wrote it with clarity, easy to understand and fun. It's not overrated if I say that this book is FUN to read.

I want to write a chapter by chapter summary of this book, but I found that a responder, Poonam had done a great job doing it. So I would like to refer to you to Poonam's review [CLICK HERE]. Dan Ariely first book Predictably Irrational (2008) was a success but I haven't read it. I bet it is as good as this one. I plan to read The Honest Truth About Dishonesty (2012) on the subject of lying in the near future. If you like Malcolm Gladwell's or Adam Grant's books, you will surely like Dan Ariely's… Perhaps you'll love Ariely more. Like I do.  

[P.S: If you want to have a ‘taste’ of Dan Ariely, watch him on YouTube and TED Talks videos.]

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018) by Jordan B. Peterson, A Review

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018) by Jordan B. Peterson

Reading Jordan Peterson's book is refreshing. He is a psychologist whose writing combines science and common sense. One of his talents is his ability to articulate complex ideas to a wide audience, regardless of whether you have a background in psychology or not (although it would be good if you're interested in psychology, it will be very much helpful). In comparison with Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I find that this book is a bit complex in language and some of its term I'm not familiar with. But both book concepts are simple enough and easy to understand. It covers his twelve rules for life, which are intended not only as a guide for the life of the individual but as "a remedy for society’s present ills." Peterson believes that the cure for society starts with curing the individual, the smallest unit of society. Peterson’s well-known advice to "clean your room" is a reflection of the truth that if you can’t even manage the most basic and mundane responsibilities of life, then you have no business dictating to others how to fix society.

One of the main themes of this book is: "Personal change is possible." There's no doubt you can be slightly better today than you were yesterday. Because of Pareto's Principle (small changes can have disproportionately large results), this movement towards the goodwill "increases massively and this upward trajectory can take your life out of hell more rapidly than you could believe." Life is tragic and full of suffering and malevolence, says Peterson. But there's something you can start doing right, and all of these 'rule' is within our power to do so.

To read my simple summary for each chapter, CLICK on the titles below. It will link you to my second blog Idea For Today, enjoy!

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Knowing God as My Father Series: Where Did Jesus Go When He Was Distressed, Troubled and Depressed? (Part 3)

We called God, our Father – Abba Father (the same way children called their father dad or daddy). It conveyed the idea of a sense of closeness, affection, and confidence which had not been present before we know God through Jesus Christ, the Son. In my observation, the name Abba represents an aspect of our relationship with God that has been overlooked in much of the teaching we have heard about God today. The word ab (Hebrew) is used in the Old Testament for father and the word paterno (Greek) is used in the New Testament for father-parent with only three exceptions. Those exceptions are the three times when God the Father is called Abba (Aramaic). This is the name that Jesus used when he called out to God.

The first time [the other two I will share in the next blog posts] we find Abba used is in Mark 14:36. Let's look at the surrounding verses to understand the context and background involved in this use of the word: "They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘Sit here while I go and pray.' He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.' He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. ‘Abba Father,' he cried out, ‘everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.' Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Couldn't you watch with me even one hour?" (Mark 14:32-37a, NLT).

Jesus described himself to his best friends as "deeply troubled and distressed" and "grief to the point of death." Depression? These were his closest friends – his inner circles – the ones with whom he shared his deepest, most private hurts and fears. But at the time when Jesus was greatly depressed, they fell asleep. Like many people, I've experienced times in my life when I too was very distressed and deeply grieved ("Killed me, Lord!" I once said, like Prophet Elijah). But Jesus' pain was worse than yours and mine and – to add to the pain – his friends failed to act like real friends! They had always been ready when Jesus wanted to give and bless them. But when he needed them, they were emotionally absent.

This left Jesus the Man emotionally needy and alone, facing future physical torture, accusations, betrayal, and mockery. He was being rejected by his own followers and by the religious leaders, his own people. He will be facing certain, slow and painful death. Yet worst of all, he knew he would be separated from God. He will bear the sins of the world! Jesus knew (we also knew as we read the Scripture) that even God would turn away from him at that time. Where did Jesus go under anguish and pressure like that? To whom he turned to? Jesus fell down to the ground and cried out, "Abba Father." What intimacy, what affection, what closeness this was! It is emotionally moving to imagine how real was Jesus' pain and need… but at the same time, it is magnificently blessed to know (too) how real God's Fatherhood is! This is beyond awesome, this is a joy!

Pray to your Abba Father.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception (2010) by Pamela Meyer, Book Review

Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception (2010)
by Pamela Meyer

People lie to us all the time. You and I lie to others all the time. We lie to each other all the time. In fact, according to studies by several different researchers, most of us encounter nearly two hundred lies a day (most of it are harmless lies, by the way). That's 200 times per day! That means if you get to sleep 8 hours per day, you're likely been on the receiving end of about 12 lies per hour. According to one study found that over a one-week period, lies were detected in 37% of phone calls, 27% of face-to-face meetings, 21% of IM chats, and 14% of e-mails. There are many more facts about lying that if I were to list down it here, you'll soon think that I'm lying to you! Whatever happened to the 9th Commandment? "We have to trust to survive," writes Meyer, "[but] paradoxically, we have to lie to survive as well." 

Pamela Meyer reminds the readers upfront: "One doesn't undertake deception-detection training just to be able to point a finger at a liar. A little bit of liespotting training goes a long way toward strengthening many of our relationships, so we can develop a small inner circle of fiercely loyal, dependable colleagues and friends, sharpen our instincts, bolster our productivity, increase our confidence in ourselves, and improve our work environment." She summarized, "Liespotting isn't just about sniffing out liars in the short term; it's also about building a sustainable infrastructure of trust for the long haul." Agree! Pamela Meyer first intrigued me when I saw her TED Talk on deception and when I saw this book in the library, I quickly grabbed it and devoured its content. I love the first part of this book but the second half part is somewhat boring… probably because she refers to deception in the business world and I don't feel it's relevant to me now.

Liespotting is a 3-pronged approach that involves equal measures of scientific information, observation training, and interrogation practice. "It's not enough to recognize lies," she reminds her readers again, "It's the complex truth we're after." Spotting a lie is just the beginning, the truth to move forward is most important of all. As I said, this book is divided into 2 parts:

Part #1 Detecting Deception. It begins with a broad overview of lying (Chapter 1: The Deception Epidemic and Chapter 2: Deception 101 – Who, When, and Why) and exploring three patterns of deception as the foundation (Chapter 3: Reading the Face, Chapter 4: Reading the Body, and Chapter 5: Listening to the Words). These first five chapters are very interesting. I get to test it on myself and others. Once I know (still learning and testing) how to read facial, verbal, and behavioral clues of deception, I'm tempted to look for them everywhere. But like what Meyer said we can't be perfectly accurate, we can only improve our detection ability. Then, Meyer introduces The BASIC Interview Method (Chapter 6) which combines facial recognition with advanced interrogation techniques. She taught how to read the map of human face and body, as well as how to decode human language and vocal tone, "exposing the myriad signs people inadvertently leave behind when they are working to hide the truth about something that really matters."

Part #2 Building Trust. Here she addresses the most common high-stakes business situations in which lying occurs – business negotiations and job interviews – and provides tailored strategies for countering deception in each situation (Chapter 7: Liespotting for High Stakes). She also introduces the deception audit (Chapter 8: The Deception Audit): simple steps "executives can take to identify pervasive sources of deception within an organization, and to prevent them from taking root again in its culture." Finally, Meyer taught readers on how to confidently build customized inner circle, a small, handpicked community of people "to whom you can turn to support you in the hardest moments" and what to do next (Chapter 9: Building Your Trust Brain, and Chapter 10: Putting It All Together).

To me, this book is valuable because detecting deception is a crucial skill that offers countless financial, psychological, emotional and even spiritual benefits. "Liespotting requires that we push back," writes Meyer in her closing, "It demands that we step away from our machines, that we relearn how to communicate face-to-face, how to read people, emphasize, connect, and listen." Liespotting is more than detecting deception, it's about how to be human… again.

Recommended book: (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies (2015) by Dan Ariely
Recommended TV Series: Lie to Me


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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Knowing God as My Father Series: He Is and Wants to Be Our Father (Part 2)

God's offer of Fatherhood – through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ – is one of the most basic and fundamental truths of theology. We cannot know God entirely without accepting His Fatherhood. In unconditional love, God has chosen to present Himself to us as our Father. He calls us and indeed makes us His children when we accept His offer of adoption into His family through His Son (read Romans 8:15, Greek "…you received a spirit of Sonship"). This fact is presented with overwhelming clarity in God's Word.

Old Testament – Father to Israel. Listen to this, Exodus 4:21-23: "[The Lord] told Moses, ‘When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh… tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, ‘Let my son go, so he can worship me.'" When God announced Israel was His son, He came to Israel's defense. If I were to paraphrase it, it will be like this: "Hey, that's My son! You can't treat him that way. I won't allow it!" That makes me so proud of having a Father like Him, smile deep inside me. I've been with students for about 8 years now, and I can tell you that there are a lot of hurting young people today. I realize how many of those hurt could have been avoided if a dad (or mom) would have stood up and spoken up for his own child. I bet some of you who read this have that anger toward your parent(s) who failed to protect you when you're growing up. Not so with God. When He claimed Israel as His son, He went immediately to Israel's defense.

When God talked to Moses, He did not tell Moses to announce His Fatherhood to the Israelites. Instead, He told Pharaoh, an outsider, through Moses, "Let my son go." Why? Why not? Because God is the Initiator in the Father-son relationship. If you go through the Book of Exodus, you don't read about how Israelites band together and ask God to be their Father. No! God was the One who makes the choice. Before Israel ever existed, God already chooses him. When Israel was still under slavery in Egypt, God loved him. "Israel is my firstborn son." It's like adopting a baby at birth. The adoptive parents are the ones who initiate the action, not the baby. God wants to be Israel's Father.

Many years later, God reaffirmed His promise of Fatherhood through David to his son Solomon, saying, "Your son Solomon will build my Temple… for I have chosen him as my son, and I will be his father" (1 Chronicles 28:6). David himself, a man after God's own heart, once blessed God and prayed: "Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever" (1 Chronicles 29:10, NKJV). God continuously reminding the children of Israel of His Fatherhood through His prophets too. Prophet Hosea wrote: "Yet the time will come when Israel's people will be like the sands of the seashore – too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,' it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God'" (Hosea 1:10). Prophet Jeremiah proclaimed God's Word: "I would love to treat you as my own children... I look forward to your calling me ‘Father,' and I wanted you never to turn from me" (Jeremiah 3:19). These verses and many more from the Old Testament are the proof that God wanted Israel to be His children and Him their Father. But in spite of God's repeated offer (almost ‘begging'), Israel never responded consistently to God.

New Testament – Father to All Who Have Faith In the Son. As God continued to reveal more about Himself and His plan of redemption, I see a significant change in His offer of Fatherhood. The offer first was made just to the Jews, then after Jesus came, God makes it all the more available to all who would accept His Son. For Jesus, "My Father" and "Your Father" meant the same thing (Matthew 18:10, 14). The passages in which Jesus referred to God as our Father are so many that it would be impossible to quote them all. Let me quote one verse that is very familiar to all of us: "Pray like this [Jesus said]: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy" (Matthew 6:9).

Jesus' teaching of God as our Father was continued as a central theme by the apostles. Paul's letter to the Romans, for example, begins: "May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace" (Romans 1:7). Perhaps one such greeting would not be enough to state the case. But similar greetings also appear in eight of Paul's other letters (see 1 Corinthians 1:3; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Titus 1:4). Because of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, we have been reconciled (adopted) to God and "to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). God's offer of Fatherhood is now openly available to all who believe in Jesus. "See how much our Father loves us," writes John the Apostle, "for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1). The bottom line is this: God is and wants to be our Father and us to be His children. Would you called Him Father?


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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Knowing God as My Father Series: Through His Names, We Know His Characters (Part 1)

When I read the Bible, I can see that it was necessary for God to reveal Himself to His children in progressive steps (the theologians called it Progressive Theology), rather than all at once. In this way, it was easier for His children – us – to learn and respond to Him, a little at a time. One way to trace the progress of this revelation is to study the names of God.

Old Testament Names of God. One of the earliest names of God used was the name Elohim. This word came from a root which meant "to be smitten with fear." Elohim is a plural form and may have been related to some form of primitive ancestor worship. It was a general name of God (In other cultures and religions, they also called their gods ‘Elohim'). This name picture God as very strong and as the object of fear. Now, as our knowledge and experience with God increased, God introduced a new name for Himself. This new name, Adonai, meant "to judge or rule." In other words, the first followers of God were given revelation to see God as a Judge or Ruler. This name implied that we human being was the servant of God. Obviously, being God's servant was more fulfilling that relating to God as the "feared One." Yet, God revealed Himself still more. Next, He introduced Himself as the God of all power who would subject all things to His work of grace and comfort. The name was El Shaddai and it was with this name that He identified Himself to Abraham in Genesis 17:1.

We can already see the differences between God's earliest name of fear and His later name of comfort. Of course, it is important to point out that the later knowledge does not put away with the earliest knowledge – it is simply the additional knowledge that revealed truth progressively.

Elohim. Adonai. El Shaddai. These earliest names were gradually replaced by the name Yahweh. Yahweh later pronounces as Jehovah (from A.D. 1517, the history recorded) because to the Jews it was such a sacred name that they would not even dare to pronounce it. Why? Because they claimed this was in keeping with the third commandment of the Mosaic Law (see Exodus 20:7). When reading, they substituted the name Yahweh to Adonai. The vowels of Adonai were added to the consonants "J[Y]HWH" to form the name Jehovah. In Exodus 3:14, Yahweh is translated "I Am Who I Am." Specifically, this name seems to refer to the fact that God never changes in His relationship with His people. Its stresses His faithfulness. I have to admit, it is difficult for me (us!) to grasp the full meaning of this concept that God never changes. This is a good news actually, it also means God's love for us does not change with our ups and downs or our successes and failures. No matter how much we change, God is always the same, "I am the LORD, and I do not change" (Malachi 3:6).

New Testament Names of God. Just like my relationship with my students (teacher-student relationship), I'm not comfortable when they relate to me with fear and scare-respect. God too is not pleased when we relate to Him with that attitudes. So, He revealed more of Himself than just His being the object of fear. Basically, there are three names for God recorded in the New Testament. The word Theos was used most commonly to mean God (that's why we called the study of God as Theology) and was used to refer to pagan gods as well. It can be a common noun ("He is a god") or a proper noun ("You are God"). Next, the word Kurios refers to the one with power and authority. It is usually translated "Lord" and refers not only to God but also to Jesus.

Finally, the last name used for God is pater, the word translated "father." This name refers to God's relationship with Israel and generally with His children. It designates God as the Source or the Creator and as the Father of all who accepted the Son. Because of that, it also refers to the relationship between God the Father and God the Son (this is another difficult concept for me. I'm not in doubt but in amazement!). This was what Paul said when he wrote, "[You] have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.' For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children" (Romans 8:15). Wonderful!

You see, this is one of the great values of studying God's names. We can better understand (yes, we can understand!) the character of God and what He really like based on His names, especially the name "Father." As you and I journey on the discovery to learn more about Him in this series Knowing God as My Father, we can develop a stronger relationship with Him. Amen.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #32 Don't Try to Do Everything, Neglect Some (or More)

William James said that the art of being wise is the “art of knowing what to overlook.” The petty and the mundane steal much of our time. Too many of us living for the wrong things. Dr Anthony Campolo tells about a sociological study in which 50 people over the age of 95 were asked one question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” It was an open-ended question, and a multiplicity of answers constantly re-emerged and dominated the results of the study. These were their answers:

If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more.
If I had it to do over again, I would risk more.
If I had it to do over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.

A young concert violinist was asked the secret of her success. She replied, “Planned neglect.” Then she explained, “When I was in school, there were many things that demanded my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted the floor, and did whatever else came to my attention. Then I hurried to my violin practice. I found I wasn’t progressing as I thought I should, so I reversed things. Until my practice period was completed, I deliberately neglected everything else. That program of planned neglect, I believe, accounts for my success.

[Taken from Developing the Leader Within You (2005) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson Inc.]

Put first things first today
And neglect things that don’t really matter.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #31 Look for the Gold, Not Dirt

There is something much more important and scarce than ability: It is the ability to recognize ability. One of the primary responsibilities of a successful leader is to identify potential leaders. It’s not always an easy job, but it is critical.

Dale Carnegie was a master at identifying potential leaders. Once asked by a reporter how he had managed to hire 43 millionaires, Carnegie responded that the men had not been millionaires when they started working for him. They had become millionaires as a result. The reporter next wanted to know how he had developed these men to become such valuable leaders. Carnegie replied, “Men are developed the same way gold is mined. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold. But you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt,” he added. “You go in looking for the gold.”

That’s exactly the way to develop positive, successful people. Look for the gold, not the dirt; the good, not the bad. The more positive qualities you look for, the more you are going to find.

[Taken from Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential (2005) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Nelson Business.]

Have you made it a priority to find potential leaders and develop them?

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Do Not Put God In a Box: He Is Not [Only] In the Temple or Church (Read 1 Kings 5-8)

In 1 Kings 5, King Solomon began to build the great temple in Jerusalem "for the name of the Lord" (5:5). Elsewhere, Solomon also said, "I have built a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel" (8:20). Every time the word "temple" appeared in 1 Kings as prayer and speech, most of the time this line "for the name of the Lord" will accompany it. To me, this is interesting. Why not just say "build a temple for the Lord"? Because nobody can build a temple for God! God – the Lord of Israel – is big, limitless and supreme. He is not there, He is here. The only thing that we can do is to build a temple or house for His "name." Solomon, the wisest man (at that time), knew it. In his prayer for the Temple's dedication, he reasoned, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27).

Now, since we can't build or labor or work for God (actually we can, but it will always be insignificant), then what we can do? We must change the way we see God and our relationship with Him. Instead of working "for" God, we now must see ourselves as working "with" Him. Max Lucado in his book, Just Like Jesus (1998), says it well: "It's a wonderful day indeed when we stop working for God and begin working with God (Go ahead, read the sentence again). For years I viewed God as a compassionate CEO and my role as a loyal sales representative. He had His office, I had my territory. I could contact Him as much as I wanted. He was always a phone or fax away. He encouraged me, rallied behind me, and supported me, but He didn't go with me. At least I didn't think He did.

"Then I read 2 Corinthians 6:1 (NCV): ‘We are workers together with God.' Workers with God? Co-labourers? God and I work together? Imagine the paradigm shift this truth creates. Rather than report to God, we work with God. Rather than check in with Him and then leave, we check with Him and then follow. We are always in the presence of God. We never leave a church. There is never a non-sacred moment! His presence never diminishes. Our awareness of His presence may falter, but the reality of His presence never changes." Good one Max!

When I read 1 Kings, I marveled by Solomon's grandiose way of building the temple. It was wonderful to read and to see (in my mind's eyes). But the truth is that – God is here, present among us not in only some buildings. The Father is above is; the Son is beside us; the Holy Spirit is within us. Superb! Do you desire to commune with God on a regular basis? He is always available. What can you do today to remind yourself of God's constant presence? And then, how can you start seeing yourself as working with God rather than for God?

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