Racism, logic, and what it takes to be an effective teacher

Source: Inglorious Basterds (My reflection in italics)

COL LANDA The feature that makes me such a effective hunter of the Jews, is, as opposed to most German soldiers, I can think like a jew. where they can only think like a German, or more precisely, a German soldier.

Kelvin's reflections:  A teacher often teaches like a teacher.  He should not be surprised then to find that there will be students who do not understand the lesson.  To be effective, a teacher should also consider how a student thinks, how he process information, in order to be an effective teacher.

COL LANDA Now if one were to determine what attribute the German people share with a beast, it would be the cunning and predatory instinct of a hawk. 

But, if one were to determine what attributes the jews share with a beast, it would be that of the rat. Now the Fuhrer and Gobbles propaganda have said pretty much the same thing. Where our conclusions differ, is I don't consider the comparison a insult. Consider for a moment, the world a rat lives in. It's a hostile world indeed. If a rat were to scamper through your front door right now, would you greet it with hostility?

Kelvin's reflection: Hans Landa is being very logical here.  Many people, when they hear that jews are like rats, will immediately feel that is an insulting perspective.  But wait a minute, let us explore further the characteristics of a rat, especially in such a hostile world, before we can conclude anything.

PERRIER I suppose I would.

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My doctrine towards divine healing is now more balanced.

Introduction

Even though I am not into having kids, I realized one thing that I like to do whenever I am around babies, is to sniff them.  To smell the freshness of the skin, the natural fragrance that no perfume or such can ever create, really appeals to me.

As I reflect upon this, perhaps the reason I enjoy that is because, deep down, it reminds me of the loveliness of creation, how as babies are born, created by God, the newness of the flesh always reminds me that “this is how all of us started!”.

Reflection of tooth implant 2017

I recalled having my very first tooth implant treatment at Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in July 2017. I was about the age of 45 during that time.

I just signed the financial counselling form, where they indicated that the clinic has informed me of the procedures, the likely total cost, which was about 4000 dollars in total.

As I was waiting for the specialist dentist Dr Winston Tan to come in to start the treatment, I was lying on the dentist chair and was reflecting on this. I recalled thinking “Wow, if I was living in times of the Romans, Pompey, Spartacus and all, my average lifespan would be such that no one would bother trying to save their tooth at such a high financial cost.

Even if I was a Singaporean and living in the early days of the 1970s and 1980s, the average life span for a Singaporean male was probably around 60s so, since I am already 45, it may not be worthwhile to undergo this implant treatment.

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Linking covid 19 to trust in the Lord and Parasite

Introduction

Bill Gates has released a very meaningful reflection on how he felt the covid-19 had important spiritual implications. 

In this note, let me record my own reflection upon reading his reflection.  There will be a spiritual reflection and a non-spiritual one, that is linked to the Korean movie Parasite.

Spiritual link: It is easier to trust the Lord with your health, then your wealth.

For me, this covid-19 episode reminds me again of the key difference between money and health that I am learning from Andy Stanley. I used to be puzzled some years back, after I worship at New Creation Church. This was what I wrote in my conclusion then

So I felt it very interesting that, while it was clear that there is a spiritual principle involved when it comes to financial prosperity, when it comes to health, any principles that might also apply were not clearly explained.

It is as if, when you are sick and asking for healing, its all about grace and faith, but somehow when it came to finances, there is such a clear principle to follow, which is to tithe.  Its like that infamous James verse that people sometimes use to wack NCC, Faith without works is dead.  When it comes to financial prosperity, NCC seem to be using this verse but for healing, works is optional haha.

I will have to reflect on the significance of this difference over time.

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Reflection on Signs and Wonders 3: Jesus healing the leper in Matthew 8

Introduction

As NCC and many Word of Faith churches teach, when God created Adam and Eve, there was no death, and hence no sickness. Sin came in after the first Adam disobeyed God and together with sin, Adam also brought sickness and death into the world.

Leprosy in the Old Testament

During the OT, under the Law of Moses, leprosy was a sign of being cursed by God. Leprosy, it was believed, was inflicted by God Himself. They called leprosy “The Finger of God”.

Lepers were condemned by God to live in shame outside the camp of Israel (Deut. 28:37). However, God gave them instructions to follow, however, in case a leper was cleansed. In chapter 14 of Leviticus, a Jew had to bring a Guilt/Trespass Offering to the priest to make atonement for his defilement.

There were three incidents of leprosy afflicting Jews in the OT.

1.The reluctant prophet, Moses, was given a leprous hand by God as a demonstration of God’s power. God removed it. (Exodus 4:6)

2.Miriam was afflicted with leprosy by God as punishment for speaking against Moses, God’s anointed. Moses prayed and God removed it. (Numbers 12:14, 15)

3.King Uzziah entered the Holy Place to unlawfully burn incense on the Golden Altar. He was inflicted with leprosy by God. Uzziah died for this offense against God’s Temple. (2 Chronicles 26:18-21)

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Reflection on Signs and Wonders 4: Casting out a mute demon

Introduction

There were various occasions in the 4 Gospels when Jesus exorcised deaf and mute spirits out of various Jews, found in Matthew 12:22-32, Luke 11:14-23, Mark 9:14-29. Let me explain in this article why such exorcisms also served as a sign to Israel that their Messiah has arrived on Earth.

Jewish exorcism rites

Researching how exorcism works in Jewish culture shed an interesting light on how it was conducted. The Jews practiced exorcism (casting out demons) by a formula involving three steps:

1.They spoke to the demon asking its name.

2.The demon would reply using the voice of the possessed individual.

3.The exorcist would then cast out the demon by its name

Source: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-exorcism/

Jesus himself used the Pharisee’s formula on one occasion when He asked the demon’s name in Mark 5:9. He referred to the exorcism practiced by the Pharisees when He said:

“If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?” (Matthew 12:27)

Seen from this perspective, you can understand much better why Jesus casting out a mute spirit took on extra significance among the Jews. It would be impossible for any Jew to cast out a deaf and dumb spirit because the demon would not be able to identify itself.

Conclusion

This led to the belief that when the Messiah came, he would identify himself to Israel by casting out a deaf and dumb spirit. That was why the Jews were amazed enough when Jesus finally did that, they wondered in Matthew 12

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Reflection on Signs and Wonders 1: Old Testament.

Introduction

Recently, I noticed that NCC has been singing so many songs from Bethel Music. Such songs include No Longer Slaves, Way Maker, Living Hope, Raise a Hallelujah, Goodness of God , King of my Heart, among many others more.

It got me curious on where it came from and the church doctrine of Bethel Church. Thanks to the way copyright works, every time a church chooses a particular church song to sing, it has to pay a certain royalty fee, so indirectly, you are supporting that doctrine.

When I googled for Bethel Church, I could see that it is one church that believes in “signs and wonders”. In a widely publicized case sometime end of 2019 when the entire church was praying for a 2-year old girl to come back to life, their senior pastor Bill Johnson stated

After being in NCC since late 2008, it is clear that Word of Faith churches also follow the idea that “Since Jesus healed everyone who comes to him in the 4 Gospels, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, there is no reason for us not to think that divine healing is also for today”.

And ever since NCC declared this year to be the year of Time and Space, she started off the year teaching from the Gospel of John. Now the Gospel of John is a very interesting account of Jesus’s life on earth. It differs from the other 3 gospels in the main sense of it being divided into specific signs that Jesus did on Earth.

These signs are as follows

1. Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11 - "the first of the signs"

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Reflection on Signs and Wonders 2: The Jews demanded them from Jesus

Introduction

John 3:1-2 NKJV: Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.

In that famous conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus, Nicodemus, being a Pharisee, showed that he was well aware of how the miracles of Jesus were not random acts of kindness, they were meant as signs to the Jews that God has sent his Messiah to Israel.

In the previous article, I have documented how the OT Jews were very used to signs and wonders from God. The Apostle Paul summed this up with this verse from 1 Cor 1:22

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom

So the next question, and the objective of this article is to answer the following question, “When Jesus finally came as the Word made flesh, how will the Jewish nation know that he was indeed the promised Messiah foretold by the their OT prophets?

Jews demanding signs and wonders from Jesus

Once you realized this characteristic of Jews asking for signs, you might be amazed, just like I was when I was researching this for the first time early last year, the numerous times we read in the 4 Gospels about Jews demanding that Jesus show them signs and wonders. 

The following is a non-exhaustive list,

Matthew 16:1-4

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Reflection on Signs and Wonders 5: Feeding of the 5000

Introduction

While it is well known that the Gospel of John differs significantly from the contents of the 3 Synoptic Gospels, interestingly, Jesus using loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes was a miracle that was recorded in all 4 of them.  I felt that was significant since,  From a Mid Acts dispensationalist's point of view, John was all about the recording of signs to show Israel that Jesus was indeed their promised Son of God (John 20:30-31).  And since this topic is about signs and wonders, I will be adopting this perspective in my analysis of this particular sign.

What Moses told Israel about Jesus and how that sign confirmed it

Deut 18
15 The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

John 5
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.

Acts 3
22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Interestingly, the idea that Moses spoke about the coming of Jesus was mentioned both by Jesus himself before the cross, as well as Peter after the Cross.

The link between Jesus and Moses, through that sign by those Jews had a straightforward reason: Their ancestors were fed through Moses calling down manna from heaven, and now Jesus himself fed the 5000 men with the multiplication of bread and fish.  And when I read the scripture account of Jesus feeding the 5000 men in John, that was exactly what the sign made "some Jews" realized that, in John 6:14 NKJV

"Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, 'This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.

Jesus's teaching to Israel in the aftermath of that sign (Link between physical and spiritual blessings)

Jesus was very clear to point to all of Israel the need to acknowledge him as the Son of God with the next passage in John 6

24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

As NCC is also a Word of Faith church, I do understand the appeal of physical blessings, whether health or wealth.  From the Jews who were just fed by Jesus, they naturally want to keep going to him to be fed.  But Jesus was pointing out to them, in vs 27, that those physical blessings in which he had just provided for them, was a sign, to point out to them that Jesus is the promised Son of God.  Thus they need to believe that truth about Jesus.

And the interesting link to work is also present there.  In the Gospel of John, the works that Jesus did are always linked to the signs he performed for Israel.

Conclusion

Thus, the feeding of the 5000 was also a sign performed by Jesus for the exact same specific purpose as the other signs were for, to point Israel to the fact that their promised Messiah has now arrived in the flesh.

To keep this article short, I will have a future one where I will share my reflection on how us gentiles in the Body of Christ are suppose to understand this link between physical and spiritual blessings for our dispensation, the knowledge of Christ according to the mystery.

Word of Faith preachers: Similarities and Differences

Introduction

After being in NCC all these years, I am understanding more and more that churches who are the Word of Faith type tend to preach very similar sermons, such that you see the same basic themes appearing in all of them.

The story from Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre

What happened was: Miejue Shitai's stance, 'fo guang pu zhao' purely took Emei Jiu Yang Gong as its foundation, which originated from the real Jiu Yang Shen Gong, which Zhang Wuji trained.  After listening to Jue Yuan reciting the Nine Yang Manual, Guo Xiang developed Emei Jiu Yang Gong based on fragments she managed to remember. As a result, the power of Emei Jiu Yang Gong of course cannot be mentioned on equal terms with the original Jiu Yang Shen Gong. However, the power of these two internal energies were comparable, the essence was identical.  When Emei Jiu Yang Gong met the Jiu Yang Shen Gong, it was like river and stream entering the ocean, or like milk dissolved into water, instantly disappeared without any trace.

To me, this reminds me of the story in Jin Yong "Heaven Sword and dragon Sabre".  In the early part of the book, the hardcopy of Jiu Yang Zhen Jing manual was thought to be lost and only the monk Jue Yuan, knew the entire content since he memorized it.  On his deathbed, he recited it out by memory and there were 3 listeners, Zhang Sanfeng, Guo Xiang, and a Shaolin monk.

Each of these three took different aspects of the contents, based on their own innate ability and listening.  Guo Xiang was supposed to be the most intelligent one, the Shaolin Monk Wuse had the strongest martial arts foundation, and Zhang Sanfeng spent the longest time with Jue Yuan earlier so he had the advantage of already learnt some aspects of Jiu yang Zhen Jing.

But ultimately, all three versions were incomplete in different ways.  When Zhang Wuji was struck by Xuanming poison that cursed him with constantly feeling cold, Zhang Sanfeng knew that his incomplete version of Jiu Yang could not heal him but he was hoping that if he could get the other 2 versions from Shaolin and Ermei by exchanging his version with them, it was possible that the 3 incomplete versions of Jiuyang, when combined, will be able to purge the coldness from Wuji.

That plan did not take off since none of the other 2 were willing to trade their own versions.  In the end of course, Wuji managed to find the hardcopy of Jiuyang manual from the stomach of a gorilla, and managed to get healed.  Incidentally I also linked Wuji's thinking of why he might as well just practice the manual even though he was not sure whether it can really cure him, to my original reason to be a Christian.

What I wrote was as follows:
Just completed reading the ongoing English translation of Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre and it was interesting reading about Zhang Wuji's reasoning as to why he might as well practice the Jiu Yang Shen Gong even if he is not too sure whether it can really cure his coldness.
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Zhang Wuji thought, “Tai Shifu once said that if I can practice the ‘Jiu Yang Shen Gong’ [nine ‘yang’ divine strength/power] of Shaolin, Wudang and Emei, three Sects, then I can drive the cold poison away from my body. These three Sects’ Jiu Yang Gong all came from the Nine Yang Manual. If this book is indeed the Nine Yang Manual and I practice according to it, then the end result will far exceed the result if I practice the three Sects’ divine power separately. Since I have nothing to do in this valley, I’d better practice according to this book. Supposing my guess is wrong; that this book is actually useless, so much so that it is harmful to me, the worst that can happen to me is death anyway.”
...Even if I succeeded in cultivating the divine strength from the book, and managed to repel the cold poison, I would still be imprisoned in this valley with steep peaks all around, could not get out forever. My days in this valley are long, if I can succeed today, good; if I must wait ‘til tomorrow, it’s also good. It doesn’t make any difference. If I fail, I would have something to do to pass my boring days anyway.’...Strangely, with this win-or-lose-always-happy attitude, he made a surprisingly rapid progress. In only four short months, he succeeded to comprehend in detail the skill described in the first volume of the book, which he immediately trained accordingly.
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I chuckled when I read this because this was the exact same reasoning I recalled when I decided to myself in Primary 6, way back in 1985, whether to accept Christ into my heart for the first time.  Recalling from that episode:
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While I was Primary Six, I happen to come across a series of six Christian articles. The article was trying to explain how God created the world and made man. How man sin and how Jesus had to come down and save us. I have heard this story before and I was prepared to just read through it. When I came to the sixth article, I was presented the destiny of Christians through many different "crowns" they can win when Jesus comes back. They include the "Soul-winners" crown, which would be won if the Christian win another to Christ and many others.

That set me thinking, "Hey, if what I am reading is true, I will have everything to gain by being a Christian. I get the insurance that I will go to heaven rather than hell after death. Those crowns I read about are bonuses beyond that which I do not need to aim for anyway. If Christianity is false, life will certainly not be any different from now. The most I go to church in Sunday for nothing. Life can't get any worse for me than this anyway." It seems as though I have everything to gain and nothing to lose by accepting Christ. (It was only when I was a 1st year undergraduate in philosophy that I realized that this reasoning was first put forward by the philosopher Pascal!). So I simply follow the suggested prayer written there and prayed to accept Christ in my life.

The Word of Faith preachers
Thus, applying that story to this perspective, the Word of Faith originated from people like E W Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland.  After that, various preachers like Joseph Prince, Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar took their understanding and focused on different aspects of the Word of Faith.

Joseph Prince is clearly focusing on the grace aspect of WOF.  He is extremely gifted in his ability to understand and preach what salvation by grace really means.  His exposition of Romans and Galatians in teaching me, what does it mean to be the righteousness of God in Christ.

And if JP focused on the grace aspect of WOF, Joel Osteen chose to focus on the hope aspect of WOF.  His sermons are especially appealing to many non-Christians, and also Christians who have stopped going to church.  They are mostly sermons on how wonderful God is, and to remind all these people that God loves them, without the same intellectual demands, no Greek or Hebrew that Joseph Prince often use.

What I have learned from Creflo Dollar that was less emphasized in JP, is how Man is also a trinity just like God.  I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body.  For some time, I was puzzled by NCC’s perspective of how God heals us today, using Abraham as an example.  It was only after I understand that God sees my spirit as perfect, sinless and in health, that I understood why God renamed Abram as Abraham while the latter was still childless.

And from Andrew Wommack, I begin to understand the new covenant's perspective on tithing and financial stewardship, and I am currently trying to apply these principles now.

Furthermore, his preaching on healing has really strengthened my belief in this area.  I especially enjoyed the numerous bible studies that his ministry puts up on Youtube, and especially the QnA section, where his ministers answer the various questions that people have on healing.

I chuckled when I recalled the only NCC cell group I went to during the early NCC years where the cell leader merely repeat the point, "Believe in God's grace that you are healed", and did not really say anything beyond that point.  In this aspect, I learn so much from the excellent answers Andrew Wommack Ministry gives to all the very standard questions about healing that people will have.

Conclusion : My learning style
Coming from the same basic source, once you accept one perspective, it is quite easy for you then to immediately understand where the others came from.  Just like the Jiu Yang Zhen Jing story from HSDS, once you combined the various perspectives, you will, in a sense, get a more complete understanding of the story.

This appeals to the way I learn.  As I recalled in my university years, whenever I encounter new economics concepts, I will just grab many books that discuss this topic, and keep reading different perspectives about the same topic.  I will then take the time to make my personal reflection on it, and make my own notes on it, as a way to consolidate the understanding.  My personal belief is that, if you can't explain it logically, you don't really understand what you think you understood.