Friday, June 28, 2013

Power & Money and An Encounter that Changes Life - Learning from Tim Keller's '2 Men with Money'

Power and wealth provide illusive security that traps us in pursue of them. But power and wealth could not heal the leprosy of Namaan nor the wealth of Zacchaeus could buy true acceptance. Pride and rejection are key obstacles that stop people from encountering the true grace of God. Are we guilty of them? What are the evidences and behaviors that reveals the transforming grace of God in us? Namaan and Zacchaeus had their encounters that changed their life. Do we have any encounter that are the transforming points? Do get our of our comfort zone and groups of friends and colleagues and go and have encounters that open our minds and hearts. May we be continually refreshed and challenged to live out the Christ in us and impact our worlds for Christ.

The teachings of the Tim Keller's sermon and our discussion are summarized below:

Questions and Sample Answers for Reflections:
Hope you have an encounter that change your life for the better and glorify Christ.

Lim Liat (c) 29 Jun 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Be Accountable to God & Start Living Now - That's life from Ecclesiastes 12

After all the studies and experimentation to discover life, the Preacher/Teacher concluded that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments because God will judge man. To put it in modern term, it is "Be accountable to God and start living life to the fullest". With God in mind, life is no longer meaningless. We are created uniquely with a purpose and a calling. Our life is to live out that calling here. We are to start now, in our youth, with all our passion and strengths, and not wait till we are old when we are feeble and weak, or worse, at our last breath where we could do nothing. It will be too late to regret then.

Here is the summary map of Ecclesiastes 12:
Let us see these key verses again:
11:9 Young people,* it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. NLV.
12:1 Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old...

Please read also :
What are you waiting for?

Lim Liat (c) 13 Jun 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

22 Principles of Success in Life According to Ecclesiastes 10 & 11

Wisdom is much more than just an exhortation to get wisdom. It is the hard work of knowing exactly what are the principles that work and how to apply them. Here are 22 principles or guidelines of wisdom consolidated from my study of Ecclesiastes chapter 10 and 11.

12 Principles from Ecclesiastes 10:

10 More Principles from Ecclesiastes 11:

Perhaps you can go through them one at a time to see how they can be applied to your life.

Lim Liat (c) 12 Jun 2013

Previous: Chapter 9 Advice For Handling Our Uncertain Future
Next: Chapter 12 Be Accountable to God & Start Living Now - That's Life

Monday, June 10, 2013

Advice For Handling Our Uncertain Future - Ecclesiastes 9

While life is uncertain and unpredictable, Ecclesiastes 9 show us how to really enjoy it.
Our future is uncertain and often unpredictable. While death is the eventual destination of everyone, we don't know how, when and where. What is worse, these unpredictable patterns happen to both, the righteous and the wicked. Nonetheless, we must take  positive attitude towards life because in death, no one can do anything. We are to enjoy the food, the spouse, and the fruits of our work in this short lift that God has given to us. We need to know that there are many factors that affect the outcomes of our life. Time and Chance happen to all and history warned us that we don't really know how to manage them well.  Wisdom is powerful but no guarantee for wealth and honor. The answer is to know and fear God, do your best and enjoy the fruit of your work.

The mind-map:

Lim Liat (c) 11 Jun 2013

Previous: Chapter 8 The Key to a Happy Life - Recognize and Obey the Authorities
Next: Chapter 10&11 22 Principles of Success in Life

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Key to a Happy Life - Recognize and Obey the Authorities Ecclesiastes 8

Using King as an example of authority, the author tells us to pay attention to know the King's commands and to follow them well. Then, we will be well. Everything has the right time and the right way to handle them. But man does not know the future and has no power to control the time of death, leading to much misery. Blindness and injustice lead to righteous people treated as wicked and wicked as righteous. But God cannot be fooled and the wicked shall be punished with sudden death. The best is to follow God and enjoy the fruits of one's work ; eat, drink and be merry in the short life that God has given us.
Sometimes it helps us to better understand the Bible by paraphrasing the verses that we read. Here is my paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 8 as shown in the mind-map below:

While we cannot fully understand God, we do know enough that we need to know His ways and obey Him so that we could truly live a life of joy and enjoying the fruit of our work. We just be thankful of the short life that we have on earth. The Gospels, the Good News, is that God wants us to live longer and better life with Him. In fact , it is the eternal life with Him and with one another through receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Lim Liat (c) 9 Jun 2013

Updated Maps 25 Jun 2014

The Main Outlines:
The Full Map:

Previous: Chapter 7 Wisdom of God vs Man's Cleverness
Next: Chapter 9 Advice For Handling Our Uncertain Future

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wisdom of God vs Man's Cleverness - Ecclesiastes 7

Ecclesiastes 7 concluded with "God made man upright, but man tries many ways (to ignore God)".  Man goes after materials things - the more the merrier. God wants man with a better character and a wisdom that is based on following God's ways of working. Such wisdom of God gives life, meaning and freedom from bondage. It is more precious than money
The wisdom of man and the wisdom of God can be seen clearly in this chapter.  Man only wants more material things and pursue happiness. But God wants man to pursue character first, to be like Him. While man rejects and try to avoid adversities, God want man to learn from the adversities such as:
  • Death is better birth: Steve Jobs say that Death is the greatest invention because in the face of death, we awake to know the true priorities of life - what are important and what are not. This allows us to live life with a purpose and not to waste time.
  • Mourning is better feasting: With feasting, we just have our taste buds triggered and stomach filled. We have fun with friends but just superficially. However, when there is mourning, we feel the loss of our loved ones, whether our family members, relatives or friends. We are reminded of how they live their lives. They become a reflection for our lives. How should we live our life now and what legacies do we want to leave behind? The reality of death is most felt in the passing our beloved.
  • Sorrow than laughter: Terry Guo, founder of Foxconn, said that success is a poor teacher. We don't know learn much from success. Success makes us feel proud. Sorrow however, makes our heart tender and understanding.
  • Rebuke from the wise is better than praise from the fools:All of us want praises. But we must learn to know the true praise and the artificially buttering from people who just want to please us. True praises tell us to do more the right things. Rebukes, from the wise, and not from those that only want to hurt us, enables us to correct our mistakes so that we can become better. Often, mistake not corrected early will lead to big embarrassment later. Some people said that success may bring out the hidden sins in us. Consider the big embarrassments of successful and famous people. The sins that was there all the while was not corrected earlier.
  • Threats turn wise to fool: Under pressure, especially threats to our lives or loved ones, will cause us to loose our perspective and make bad decisions. We are taught to be led in peace. Never be forced or pushed into making an impulsive decisions. God leads us with a little voice and with peace of heart and mind.
  • Bribes corrupts: Gains, and rewards could also mislead us and cause us to loose our sense of right and wrong. Greediness is a sin that is hideous.  Gains without work is also very tempting.
  • Patient better than Proud: It takes greater strength to wait and be patient towards others and towards our goals. It is much easy to be proud and command things and people; to demand our rights and throw our weights. But arrogance leads us to rejection and failure.
  • Be not quick to get angry: The author reminded us that quick temper is the behavior of the fool. The wise control his feeling and examine them. There is nothing wrong for being angry. It is just a signal that something is wrong. But we must examine the cause of our anger. Is it because we feel we are not given the rightful treatment and respect? If so, there is pride. Is it because there is some injustice done to others? If so, we need to investigate and even make right the injustice as Jesus did in the cleaning up of the temple hawkering.
  • Do not live in the past: If the present life is more difficult than the past, then we may tend to try to go back to the good old days and neglect to do the right things now that create the better future for us. Living in memory is easier than making a meaningful future. What does God want you to do for your life?
Here is the mind-map:

Godly wisdom tells us to fear and obey God. God wants man to be like Him. God shows His ways through the ways His creation work. His laws cannot be broken or superseded by man's effort, no matter how hard he tries.

The way of God is holding both things, wisdom and righteousness, in balance and not holding on one and letting go the other.

  • Ecc 7:18 NASB  It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.

Overly righteous is righteousness without wisdom and thereby causing much hurt. It is applying truth without grace. Overly wise is wisdom is without righteousness; using wisdom to beat and cheat the system. God's way is having both wisdom and righteousness in this passage and love and justice in general.

So, fear God, know His ways and following His calling for your life that you may live meaningfully without regrets at the end of this life.

Lim Liat (c) 8 Jun 2013. Revised 16 Mar 2014.

Previous: Chapter 6 The Ironies of Life and the Search
Next: Chapter 8 The Key to a Happy Life - Recognize and Obey the Authorities

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Ironies of Life and the Search - Ecclesiastes 6

Ecclesiastes 6 shows us the 5 ironies of life. Namely, rich but short-life, long but suffering and tragic death, work and work for an appetite that is never satisfied, yet can't break out of this vicious cycle of life and not knowing what is good in the living and what happens after! Where are the wisdom and the answer?
Ecclesiastes 6 is a short chapter but with deep knowledge for our serious study. The mind-map below summarizes the teaching:

The answer lies not with the created being - man. It is with God. The main teaching of the Book of Ecclesiastes clearly shows us that unless we take a look from a higher dimension, we cannot explain this vicious cycle of living. Its conclusion is to fear and obey God. In the New Testament, we have Jesus Christ who came from the Father God, to tell and show us and make the way for us to have the meaningful and eternal life with God and with man.

Lim Liat (c) 8 June 2013

Update 8 Nov 2013
We have a discussion on this chapter and the update is summarised below:
Previous: Chapter 5 Priority of Life - Relating to God and Handling of Wealth.

Update 9 Dec 2013
See Life is about Living to Die Well -Ecclesiastes 6

Next: Chapter 7 Wisdom of God vs Man's Cleverness