Monday, September 24, 2018

Barnabus was responsible for most New Testament Books!

Ahoy from Amoy (Xiamen) China!

Who was responsible for most of the New Testament books? Many would say Paul, because of the NT's 27 books, Paul wrote 13 or 14 (depending on whether you think he wrote Hebrews or not). But I say we can thank Barnabus, "Son of Encouragement," for over half of the New Testament, even though he did not write any books (although Tertullian claimed that Barnabus wrote Hebrews).

So why should Barnabus get such credit? After Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, he tried to join the believers in Jerusalem, but they were afraid of him. It was Barnabus (Acts 9:27) who encouraged the believers to trust Paul. So without Barnabus' help, Paul may not have joined the church. Barnabus also accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys.

And in Acts. 15, Barnabus wanted to take John Mark (Barnabus' cousin) on a journey and Paul refused because, evidently, Mark had disappointed him on an earlier trip to Pamphylia. Acts says "there arose a sharp contention between them," so they split--and Barnabus went on his way with John Mark.

Barnabus' encouragement of John Mark paid off. He not only wrote the Gospel of Mark, but in 2 Timothy 4:11b, Paul asks them to bring Mark because "he is helpful to me in my ministry." And in Colossians 4:10, Paul says to give Mark, the relative of Barnabus, a hearty welcome if he comes to them.

So Paul did write 13 or 14 books, and Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark--together over half the new testament. But both of them owed a debt to Barnabus, who well deserved his name, "Son of Encouragement."

Who can you encourage today?

Blessings, from Amoy,

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Friday, April 21, 2017

May We Wake Before We Die

Ahoy from Amoy! (historic Xiamen, China)

"I came from God, and I'm going back to God, and I won't have any gaps of death in the middle of life." GEORGE MACDONALD

As a child I  prayed, "If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take," but as an adult I fear the greatest need is to fully Wake before we die.

I like the old song, "This world is not my home, I'm just  a passin' through," but do we emphasize the next life so much that we sleep through this life?

Consider Jesus' own example and words. When His disciples asked how to pray, he said, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." God has a will for earth--here and now. And in John 17:15, Jesus prayed, "I do not ask that you take them [his followers] out of this world but that you protect them from the evil one."

The disciples, and you and I, are on this earth until He takes us out of it because we have a purpose here and now.

It seems Christians whose sole concern is Heaven or the Rapture are just as escapist as the Jews who did not accept Christ because they saw the Kingdom as escape from Roman Rule. This is why Christ seldom called himself the Messiah--because for the Jews, it had become a political term.

In Luke 17:20-21, the Jews asked Jesus when the Kingdom would come--expecting liberation from Rome. Jesus said the coming of the Kingdom was not something that could be observed because "the Kingdom of God is in your midst." The Kingdom is here, now, in us.

Until He takes us, this world is indeed our home, even if we're just "passin' through"--and we have a Purpose for being here.

We're in this world, here and now, because He longs to live in and through each of us as God's avatars to accomplish Unique Purpose He planned for us before laying the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 4:1-5).

So I pray daily, "Let Me Wake Before I Die!"

Wake up! Live!

Blessings from Amoy, China

Dr. Bill 
Academic Director SMXMU OneMBA

School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Monday, April 10, 2017

Chinese Police Sunday Church Traffic Camera Miracle

Ahoy from Amoy (historic Xiamen, China)--and a quick Sunday miracle to share

Last Sunday, Siu Yuk, whose late husband Chris started the wonderful Children of Promise program for children with CP (Siu Yuk now heads it) left her suitcase in a taxi before Fellowship. It had her purse with passport, bank book & money and she had a plane to catch. Calling every cab company didn't help. The fellowship speaker shared the problem and Sue suggested we all pray together. We did--and the luggage was returned right after the service and Siu Yuk went to the airport in the same cab.

After we'd prayed, Siu Yuk went to the police right next door. Within minutes, they used traffic cameras to trace the cab. Efficient!
Chinese Police Sunday Church Traffic Camera Miracle

People complain about Xiamen's thousands of traffic cameras but, given the way people drive, I appreciate them--and even more so now. If they should watch everything I do, they'll hopefully learn I'm only up to good! 😇

It was a good lesson: Don't panic, pray! (which Sue's good at after 13 years in Taiwan and 29 years in Xiamen).

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Monday, April 3, 2017

Are You God's Avatar? अवतार

We are God's avatars अवतार,  avatāraAhoy from Amoy (historic Xiamen, China).

अवतार: Gideon was God's "avatar", but why use a Sanskirt term (which means "earthly manifestation of a deity")? Unfamiliar words sometimes give fresh insight on verses we know so well we take them for granted. The same goes for reading the Bible in different languages. I'm amazed at insights from reading the Bible in Chinese, Hebrew or Greek (the last 2 are pretty rusty). Consider John's "Tao."
太初有道道屿神同在到就是神 Tao in Gospel of John Heavenly Way अवतार,  avatāra
Tao in Genesis? John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word," in Chinese reads, "Taichu you Tao" (太初有道): "Beginning was Tao." And yes, it's the same "Tao" as Taoism, but it means "The Way"--a Chinese concept that far predates Taoism, Confucianism and every other ism. Since ancient times, Chinese from the Emperor down spoke of One God and the Tiandao (天道, Way of Heaven). Taichu you Tao: 3 powerful words that convey much to Chinese believers, and to me as well. Avatar is also eye-opening.

"Avatar" (अवतार,  avatāra) for most people brings to mind the movie about humans wearing alien bodies to interact in an alien world, but I learned to appreciate it almost 40 years ago in grad school while helping with research by Dr. Paul Hiebert, who was born to 2nd generation Mennonite missionaries in India (read about his "excluded middle"). The idea of an "Avatar" reminds me of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's words, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience". We spiritual beings have this human experience through mortal bodies--avatars. And even more exciting, if we allow Him, our Heavenly Father will Himself live and work in and through us. In fact, He works no other way than through us. 

Gideon was God's avatar अवतार,  avatāra

St. Augustine's Avatar: 1600 years ago, St. Augustine wrote, "Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not". Gideon is a  perfect example.

Gideon was an abject coward threshing wheat behind the wine press when the Angel of the Lord said, "The Lord is with you, you might man of valor!" [Did the angel snicker or just stick to his script?]

Even an angel of the Lord wasn't enough for Gideon. He insisted on two fleeces--and would have asked for a dozen fleeces had he known God would have 300 men attack 120,000 with nothing more than lanterns and trumpets (though after hearing our neighbor's son practice trumpet, I can see how 300 novice trumpeters could decimate an army).

Wearing Gideon  After God had whittled Gideon's army down to 300, Judges 6:34 [ESV] tells us, "And the spirit of the Lord clothed Himself in Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet..." God put Gideon on like a cloak and fought the Midianites through Gideon just as we might battle in a PC Game through an avatar. But unlike computer avatars, we have a choice.  

We are God's avatar अवतार,  avatāra

Still, Small Voice--not Control Unlike computer avatars, which we control, our Father leads us through His still, small voice. If we're attuned to Him, that Voice can steer us through our mortal messes as surely as a tiny rudder turns a mighty ship even in the roughest seas. We need only heed that voice--or pray when we don't hear it. And happily, His spirit within us will even tell us how to pray (Rom. 8:26).

Emergency Override? Though we are not "controlled," during several emergencies in my life, I
We are God's avatars emergency override joystick  अवतार,  avatāra earth planet
reacted in ways that later I did not remember--that seemed impossible, in fact, but they saved me. It seems He knew I'd reached my limit and took over, but just for a moment, even as I would yank my own sons from a fire. But He interceded because years ago I asked Him to.

When I was a child, the Biblical stories of Gideon, Joseph and David were vividly real to me, and I naively believed that God would do for me what He did for them. To this day I'm just as naive--and He's never proved me wrong. 

"What are your goals in life?" many have asked me. I answer, "To do whatever my Father has set before me each day--no more and no less." It is a joyful approach to life because it gives me a deep sense of Purpose, knowing that my Creator and Father lives in me, and through me, His gentle hand guiding my own as I myself wield my avatar's JoyStick down paths that I could never have imagined.

I am God's avatar--Him in and through me अवतार,  avatāraAvatars, not Deities! Lastly, I should note that being God's avatars, "manifestations of deities," does not make us God.  But as the Bible says, God manifests himself in this world in us and through us.

2 Cor. 4:10b (KJV), "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body."

1 Cor. 4: 9-13, 9 "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him...By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit."

We "have this treasure in earthen vessels." May that Treasure live and work in us, His earthly vessels/avatars, this day and every day--and enjoy the ride!

I am God's avatar--Him in and through me अवतार,  avatāra Indiana Jones Indiana Bill
Enjoy the Adventure! For decades, people have played games from Boardwalk and Monopoly to simulations (remember SIM City?) and role playing games. But what could be more exciting than being His avatar and playing the role that He chose for us before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:4 & 11, Romans. 8:29, Jeremiah 1:5.). Not even Indiana Jones has anything on our Father's children. I've not achieved many of my dreams (thankfully, in retrospect), but I've done things I never dreamed of. Him in me is far more exciting, and fulfilling, than just me in me.

Blessings from Amoy!

Dr. Bill 
A Few Avatar Verses:
1 Cor. 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Ezekiel 36:27 "I will put My Spirit within you..."
2 Timothy 1:14 ...the Holy Spirit who dwells in us"
Romans 8:11  He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:9  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Romans 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
Galatians 4:6  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Friday, March 31, 2017

Jabez Prayer Wheel: Guaranteed 100% Answer to Prayers!

Note from Amoy! (Historic Xiamen, China). Jabez Prayer Wheel void where prohibited by law, common sense, or lack of faith. Also: I'm not criticizing the Jabez book itself. It's well written and insightful--but only if read in entirety, and the verse preceding Jabez' prayer is kept in mind. But some truly believe simply parroting this prayer always guarantees the answer you want. I think prayer is always answered, but not always as we expect. And thank God for that, because I've winged prayers aloft that I later regretted--and was thankful He was wise enough--and loving enough--to answer differently.  Dr. Bill

Toying Around When we first arrived in China in 1988, we could not buy good toys locally, so I made playthings from cardboard, paper, string, and wood. Even adults played on my 50 lb. wooden rocking horse (I threatened to publish a photo of the Foreign Affairs' Director on the horse if he didn't renew my contract; he is now one of Xiamen's top leaders).

Shannon, 1992
I did my best, but I was not Santa's toy-making elf, so in 1992, both Shan and Matt were thrilled when Sue and I promised them a real store-bought toy when we returned from a Beijing meeting. But dear old mom had a trick up her sleeve.

The Black Lacquer Plate Plot Sue gave Shannon a beautiful Chinese cloth box, which the 6-yr.-old gleefully opened to discover not a toy but a black lacquer plate. Only Shannon's eyes betrayed his disappointment. He smiled, thanked us, and walked away with the plate clasped to his chest. I could have cried (and kicked his mom).
"Come back Shannon!" I said. "Mom's fooling you. We do have a toy for you!" Shan hesitantly unwrapped a second package. He laughed as he held up a plastic basketball game, then hugged, kissed and thanked us. He started from the room, prized toy under his arm, then stopped in the doorway and said, "But it really was a nice plate."

I did cry at that point.

Toys 'R Us—I want everything! A few months later, Shannon saw his first Toys 'R Us. He was overwhelmed by the towering shelves of toys and said, "I want this! I want that! I want…" and he stopped, thrust his arms out happily, and said, "I want everything!" (The Hong Kong Toy's R Us had a sign at the entrance saying "Please leave your values at the counter." It was a typo--but later made sense!).

Hong Kong Toys R Us
The World 'R Us—We all want everything! So which was the real Shannon—the one who accepted the plate, or the one who wanted everything? They were both Shannon, but even the 6-yr.old who hid his sadness at not getting a toy was easily led to exclaim, "I want everything!" And we've all been this way since Eden.

Adam and Eve did have everything—except for one tree. But they gave up their inheritance for that one forbidden fruit—and ever since, we have all hungered for everything, and used clever psychology and even theology to justify it.

Maslow 'R Us. Maslow's 'Theory of Needs' helps explain what drives us. He said we all seek first to survive (physical needs and security), and then to belong (to be with others), and then to have self-esteem (for those others to look up to us). But even Maslow could not explain the highest need, which he called "self-actualization" (SA).

Ultimate Drive or Desire? SA is our need for purpose and fulfillment, but Maslow admitted, "It is unfortunate that I can no longer be theoretically neat at this level." Unlike 'lower' needs, Maslow said SA is not a driving force but an unexplainable universal 'desire.' It is unexplainable because scientists cannot admit that our ultimate need is to fill what Pascal called the "God-shaped abyss" in our hearts—a spiritual silence we try to drown out by an endless and mindless accumulation of anything and everything, living a lifestyle that is all style but little life.
Evolution from Simian to Shopper (Homo Ebaggit)
Consumer or Consumed Only two centuries ago, a "consumer" was a squanderer, or a wasteful person, but yesterday's vices are today's virtues. In 1955, the economist Victor Lebow said,
"Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate."
Distressed Jeans or Distressed Consumer

Cult of Consumerism People who want everything are easily led to buy anything—such as a $200 pair of ripped and stained "distressed" jeans. But today, even churches reinforce Sony's Youniverse campaign, which says we are the center of everything and deserve everything.

The church of the Dark Ages amassed a fortune by squeezing poor peasants for money to free loved ones from purgatory. As Tetzel said, "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, another soul from purgatory springs."

Today's Tetzels
In this even Darker Age, today's Tetzels amass fortunes by focusing not on the afterlife but on this life, promising an immediate tenfold return from God if we donate to their 'ministries.' (Why not bypass the middleman and give us the money so God can repay them tenfold?)

Seek Ye First—or Demand Ye First? Ironically, our Father does want to bless us—and is eager for us to ask! Jesus said that if earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children, how much more our Heavenly Father! (Matt. 7:9-11).

But how do we ask for our Father's blessings? Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you" (Matt. 6:33). And Jesus said to pray first for the Kingdom, and then ask for our daily bread. But today, we are taught better prayers than Christ's, and told to skip the Kingdom part of it and go straight for the desires. And now, we don't ask, but demand an answer.

The Prayer God Always Answers? The preface to the book "Prayer of Jabez" begins with, "Dear Reader, I want to teach you how to pray a daring prayer that God always answers!" This is followed by stories of people who succeeded simply by repeating Jabez prayer for months and years. Not surprisingly, an entire Jabez industry now caters to people who want a foolproof prayer to get anything and everything. You can now buy a dozen versions of the Jabez book and endless Jabez trinkets, from mugs, cups, ties, rugs, plaques, key chains, etc to $250 Jabez jewelry.

Magic Jabez God Box
Dr Bills Patent Pending Jabez Prayer Wheel
Jabez Magic One ad promotes a Jabez Prayer inside The "God Box" pendant. The God Box is identical to boxes sold to hold spells and potions—which isn't surprising, because the Jabez Prayer is used like a magic prayer that God must "always answer." But the Jabez merchandise ignores the verse before the prayer, 1 Chron. 4:9: "Jabez was more honorable than his brothers."

As Jesus said, and Jabez demonstrated, 'Seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be given…"
The World-Changing Jabez Prayer Wheel! The Magic Jabez God Box reminds me of Tibetan Prayer Wheels, with written prayers inside that fly off to Buddha when the wheels are spun. Chinese temples take it a step further, with motorized prayer wheels that send prayers heavenward 24/7.

The ingenuity of Tibetans, Chinese, and Jabezite Christians inspired my spiritual invention, the Jabez Prayer WheelTM, a brilliant concept destined to change the world (I say with all humility). My wood-handled tin can prototype is adorned with plastic gems as a reminder we want answers in cash, jewels, etc. A backup Jabez Prayer in the swinging locket doubles the prayer's punch, and the locket swings faster than the can, so "The Prayer God Must Answer!"TM gets faster results!

Coming Soon! An electric Jabez Prayer Wheel, because "You Do Deserve Everything. 24/7!TM"

New Improved JP for Young Hearts 2.0
Jabez is Child-Tested! Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." So I suggest baby rattles with Jabez InsideTM so even toddlers can learn that they too deserve everything, and can get it by simply wielding, "The Prayer that God Must Answer!"TM

Backyard Millstone, Xiamen, 1992

Does this sound farfetched? Then consider the half dozen Jabez titles for tots: PJ for Kids! PJ for Little Ones! PJ for Teens! PJ: Living Big for God! PJ for Young Hearts! And the Jabez industry is evolving rapidly. The cover of the first Jabez for Young Hearts' had what looked like a balding poster child for poverty. But JP for Young Hearts 2.0's new and improved cover shows a child opening a shining pot of gold. There may not be gold at the end of the rainbow, but Jabez for Young Hearts 2.0 will ignite any child's passion for his very own personal "Prayer Pot of Gold."TM

Millstones. But neither we nor our children need infallible prayers because our Heavenly Father is faithful and always answers our prayers—though sometimes the answer is not what we expect.
I love giving to my sons, but I would not give them something I know would harm them, or something they would not take care of. In the same way, our Father hears and answers all of our prayers, but sometimes answers "no," or "wait."  And sometimes, we have to just grow up and work ourselves out of a situation we've pushed ourselves into.

I cannot imagine how I would feel if my sons tried forcing me to give them whatever they desired—yet we teach children magic prayers to force God to answer prayer! I am reminded of Jesus' warning in Mark 9:42, "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck."

Heirs of "Everything" Jesus' life and teachings prove that we do not need 'trick prayers' because even tiny mustard seed faith can move mountains. Most importantly, Jesus taught that as God's children, we are already to everything—but we will not receive our inheritance until we have grown up.

Child, Heir –or Slave? Galatians 4:7 says, "So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." But Galatians 4:1 explains, "What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate."

When we try to manipulate God with magic prayers, or even religion, we act not as heirs but as slaves trying to usurp what is not ours. We will never receive our inheritance until we have shown obedience and stewardship. As Jesus said:

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Matt. 25:23

Prayer—a Two-Edged Sword God not only hears and answers our prayers, but he knows what we need even before we ask (Matt. 6:8). But blessings are a two-edged sword, because with answered prayer comes responsibility. As Jesus said in Luke 12:48b,

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

One of my favorite passages is Jeremiah 29:11-13, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." But every time I read those verses, I am also careful to read what follows:

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Heart or Lips? Do we seek our Father with all our heart or is our relationship just an endless plea for everything he can dole out? No wonder Jesus said in Mark 7:6, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."

The Greatest Gift is Giving Jesus taught that the best way to receive is to give. Luke 6:38, "Give and it will be given to you…For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Or as God says in Malachi 3:10, "Prove me now…if I will not open upon you the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it!" But even more important than giving is simple obedience (1 Samuel 15:22, 23)

God Answers All Prayers. If prayers seem unanswered, the problem is not God's but ours. Perhaps we are not acting as heirs but as children—or worse yet, as slaves to the spirit of this dark ,age that teaches we are the center of our own Youniverse and that we deserve everything, here and now.

Ironically, I have learned to be thankful even when my Father says "no," or "wait," because when I have stubbornly persisted in some prayers, and he has at length answered them, I have regretted it! But even my wrongheaded prayers were used for good, because they helped teach me faith and patience, and to trust that my Father knows not just what is good for me but what is best.

In closing, repeating Jabez' prayer or reciting Biblical promises is fine for encouraging ourselves, but we do not need infallible prayers because our Father is infallibly faithful. We all want everything, but our Father wants to give us even more than we can think or imagine! But His answer to our prayers may well be "no" or "wait" –at least until we show ourselves wise stewards of what he has already blessed us with.

Visit us in Amoy (historic Xiamen), in China's Fujian Province, with these Amazon eBooks! 

"Fujian Adventure" $1.99

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown
Xiamen University

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Harvard says the New Life is NO Life? Escape the Treadmill!

Death by overwork Karōshi 過労死 过劳死  日本中国美国Japan China United States
Ahoy from Amoy (historic Xiamen, China).

In February, 2017, a Harvard Business School article claimed lack of leisure time is America's newest status symbol. If you can't afford a vacation or even a break to catch your breath, it shows you are a hot commodity.

Wealth used to imply leisure, but not today. Thanks to 24/7 connectedness and increased competition, people are online and on-the-job 24/7--and proud of it. What a sad commentary on life.

Death by Overwork HBS noted this is mainly an American issue--though Japanese of course work longer hours than we do--or they did until 2015. Japanese even have a word for "death by overwork": Karōshi, or 過労死. But unlike Americans, Japanese aren't proud of having no life, and they certainly don't aspire to it. Japanese are stuck with it, but as of 2015, Americans work longer hours than Japanese--and we're proud of it?

U.S. Death by Overwork.  Not surprisingly, Americans are now dying from overwork--especially interns on Wall Street and in hospitals, who work 80 to 100 hours per week. You'd think the medical industry would have more sense than to put patients' lives in the hands of interns who haven't slept for 40 hours.

Here in China, by the way, 600,000 Chinese die annually from overwork--1,644 deaths every day of the year (and forget the notion of laid back Mexicans and their long siestas; Mexicans work the longest hours in the world).

The price? 55 = 1/3 > 40. Perhaps Americans embrace the "'No Life' Life" because we feel we have no choice, but there's a heavy price to pay. In 2015, research showed that people working 55 hours per week were 1/3 more likely to have a stroke than those working 40 hours. Is it worth it?

Solomon would have said it's all vanity. It's also insanity--especially for believers.

On November 24, 2008, I posted on Our Daily Noodles "3 Reasons Why 6 > 7" to show that not only do we NOT need to live such a lifestyle to survive, but also that we can get much more done in 6 days than 7 when we live in our Father's strength and not just our own.

As Lily Tomlin once said, "The problem with the rat race is even if you win, you're still a rat." Get off the treadmill! Or as the Chinese have said for centuries, "Don't view the flowers while galloping past on horseback" ( 走马看花 ; basically the same as our "stop and smell the roses").

Or as Christ put it, "Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that not even Solomon in all of his glory was arrayed as one of these."

The Most Successful People Set Limits!  If Trust in our Father isn't enough to get you off the treadmill, then consider this: much research has shown the most successful people check email only once or twice a day, limit their use of social media (or don't use it as all), and take time off for hobbies! In the midst of the war, Churchill took off each afternoon to paint. A Hong Kong billionaire takes off every afternoon to go fishing.

It's your choice, but if you don't set limits, you will die early. Is it worth it to you, and to your family?

Because things are even worse today than when I posted "3 Reasons Why 6 > 7" in November, 2008, I repost it below.

Blessings from Amoy!  Dr. Bill

3 Reasons Why 6 > 7  (Nov. 24, 2008)

"The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27
“Viewing flowers on horseback" 走马看花 Chinese proverb.

The Sabbath: 3 Reasons why 6 is Greater than 7

In "The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", Max Weber wrote of Christians' drive for success but he neglected that Christianity is also the only religion that drives us to rest, because is we obey God we can accomplish more in six days than in seven.

With over 260 grad students and no assistant, plus my many other responsibilities, and various works, I am busy. But in spite of this, I almost never work on the Sabbath--and if I have to work on the Sabbath for some reason, I make up for it by taking off another day.

I do this for three reasons.

One: Rest: my body, mind and soul need all need it.
Two: Reward: the Sabbath is a weekly foretaste of the rewards promised by our Father. If we don't stop to enjoy, we are racing through life like the Chinese viewing flowers on horseback.
Three: Trust: resting, in spite of my hectic schedule, demonstrates my faith that my Father will multiply my labor so that I can bear more fruit in six days than seven.

1. Rest. We were created both for work and rest. For example, consider sleep, which is our Daily Sabbth. No one really understands why we must sleep 1/3 of our life away, but we do. Those who do not sleep (there are some) die early. Those who sleep too little fall ill. Rest is necessary for both body and mind.

Shakespeare wrote in MacBeth:

Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.

D.H. Lawrence wrote that sleep is how God recreates us nightly:

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.
~D.H. Lawrence

Adequate sleep prolongs our lives:
"Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed." ~Arthur Schopenhauer

2. Reward Our mind, body and soul need rest weekly as well as daily. Many speak of eternal rewards, but even as sleep is the "little slice of eternal rest" now, so the Sabbath is a weekly foretaste of eternal enjoyment. Sleep is a nightly inner renewal; the Sabbath allows us to enjoy a weekly outer renewal.

God Himself gave us the example. He created heaven and earth in six days but on the seventh He rested, to enjoy what the fruits of his labor. We need the rest, and we need the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We rest each Sabbath, and enter each week a renewed creation.

Breaking the Sabbath Breaks You Jesus warned against making the Sabbath a mere religious ritual. "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." But he never said we could break the Sabbath with impunity. Breaking the Sabbath will break us, even as going without nightly sleep will destroy our health and, eventually, curtail our lives.

3. Faith. In this hectic day and age, many of my friends work around the clock, seven days a week, and still can't keep up. That is because they work from their own strength and not the greater Inner Strength our Father gives us within--or that fount has dried up because they have not taken their nightly and weekly rest. Ironically, many say they are working 24/7 for God, but if you are driven instead of led, you might want to consider who is in the driver's seat.

Success requires 1) Direction, and 2) Energy to persevere.
If we do not stop, if we do not take the time to hear that still small voice, we will go our own way on our own steam--and we will run out of steam.

Why 6 > 7? When I was in business I learned the hard way that I could accomplish much more in six days than in seven. I learned that I could succeed where other much more capable people failed when I was led, not driven, and they were driven but not led.

Plan to Rest It does take faith to stop, but come Saturday night, I put the computer away and don't work until Monday, and if something is urgent, I trust my Father to work it out, or help me avoid getting in such a bind in the first place. This, of course, requires planning as well as faith.

And I continually remind myself that Sabbath-Keeping is not a ritual for show but a gift to grow, and if I trust my Father, and dismount long enough to smell the roses in the garden He has given me, He will do more through me than I could ever do through myself.

With God, 6 > 7.
Without God, even 7 is not enough.<6 7="0.">

Dismount that galloping horse and smell the roses.

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it. ~John Steinbeck The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more. ~Wilson Mizener

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Love & Peace in the Koran?

Is Islam a religion of peace and love? KoranAhoy from Amoy! (historic Xiamen, China).

Given all the talk about Islam being a religion of peace, I searched the Koran for places in which Allah told believers to love others.  The Koran does have the word "love" in 83 places, but I did not find one instance of it saying that followers of Islam should love anyone--though it did warn clearly against loving those who do not accept Islam. 

Who does Allah not love? There were many verses on whom Allah does not love.  Allah does not love unbelievers [30.45] or the unjust [42.40] or the arrogant [57. 23], etc.  And 60.1 warns against loving those who reject Islam.

And who does Allah love?  61.4 says, "Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall.

Peace in the Koran?  Although the Koran seems decidedly militant, it does have the word "peace" 49 times. And to my surprise, a common theme seems to be that, although Muslims should fight infidels, if the enemy asks for peace, the Muslims are to cease fighting them.  Consider this verse:

[4.94] O you who believe! when you go to war in Allah's way, make investigation, and do not say to any one who offers you peace: You are not a believer. Do you seek goods of this world's life! But with Allah there are abundant gains; you too were such before, then Allah conferred a benefit on you; therefore make investigation; surely Allah is aware of what you do.

There are many more uses of the word "fight" than "peace," but overall, it seems that Muslims are told to fight when necessary, but to desist when the enemy does not want to fight:

[2.193] And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.

I'm no expert on the Koran,= but it seems that the Muslims have not followed their own scriptures--but have we Christians? The Prince of Peace's own disciples weren't that peaceful even when he still walked with them. When Samaritans did not welcome Jesus because he was headed to Jerusalem, James and John asked if Jesus wanted them to  call down fire from heaven to destroy them (Luke 9:52-54).  Hard to imagine that men who knew Jesus that well could have imagined he's want to fry unfriendly folks. Verse 55 notes simply that, "Jesus turned and rebuked them." And in verse 56, "Then he and his disciples went to another village."

Isaiah 9:6,"And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

I don't think that Islam is a "religion of peace," but responding with hatred and violence is like pouring fuel on the fire. 'A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).

The answer to Islam is not religion but the Prince of Peace himself living in us and through us.

Blessings from Amoy!

Dr. Bill
Jesus Prince of Peace Isaiah 9:6

If No News is Good News, Axe the News! (or at least trim it).

Ahoy from Amoy! (historic Xiamen, China).

How often do we say "No news is good news"--yet still glue our eyeballs to the newspaper, TV or online news? Thanks to modern tech we can despair at wars and rumors of wars in every corner of the globe. So why inflict this upon ourselves? And make no mistake--most of the news is bad because we thrive on bad news, not good.

Several TV stations, including one in Russia, tried showing only good news. Viewers praised them--and within a week had switched to other channels. We enjoy bad news as much as picking at a scab, and then sharing--often multiplying--that bad news with others. It reminds me of an odd aunt who delighted in showing everyone her surgery scars and elaborating upon every sordid detail of her recovery.

C.S Lewis wrote that he was thankful his father did not have a car because it allowed him as a child to explore the world at a human pace. Modern transportation not only annihilated distance but also wonder and adventure. If modern transport annihilated distance, modern media has cremated the corpse of distance and scattered it to the winds. Thanks to the internet, misfortunes in distant nations are as immediate, and gut-wrenching, as those of our neighbor--for a few moments, at least.

Some research suggests our attention span is decreasing. We are in need of constant, changing stimulus, 24/7, and when nothing occupies our thoughts, we reach for the phone or PC, priding ourselves on how we can multi-task, as if busyness is synonymous with good business. But it doesn't work--or at least it doesn't work well.

Myth of Multitasking. I remember the first time I heard the word "multi-task." I asked a banker if I could write one check for two purposes and he said, "Yes, you may multi-task that check if you wish." Hello? China to earth? I thought I was talking to someone from another planet. But multi-tasking today is the "norm"--even though it is impossible to do effectively.

We are not biologically or neurologically capable of more than one task, at least well, at the same time. Don't believe it? Look up the statistics on auto accidents caused by texting--or pedestrians who die by stepping in front of oncoming cars (or even off a San Diego cliff) while texting.

We can't multi-text or multi-task. And we can't, while remaining sane, multi-news--bearing the news, simultaneously, of the entire world from multi-sources. It's hard enough to keep pace with our own problems, but the entire world's as well? So why not axe the news--at least that news that is irrelevant, or that we can do nothing about. And limit the time (and times) that we view the news? It has been proven that the most effective people limit their time online (many of them, for example, only reading emails once or twice a day).

By axing (or at least trimming) the news, I'm not saying to ignore the world! Some events do affect us, but most do not, and even those that do are often things we can do nothing about except worry--and worry is often just paying compound interest on a debt that is either not ours to repay or may never come due.  Don't believe me? Make a list of 10 things that worry you today and then look back at it 1 year later and see if most of those worries weren't just pebbles in a shoe that felt like Sysyphus' boulder.

My Gulf War Lesson--Embedded Reporters, Embedded Viewers  What opened my eyes to the utter insanity of 24/7 news was Chinese media coverage of the first Gulf War. There wasn't any coverage! Sure, China Daily had small pieces, but it took us 4 days to get the newspaper. I learned later that friends and family back home in the U.S. had followed the "embedded reporters" so closely that they had become embedded viewers (to the point that some fell ill).

China News
As for me in China, by the time I knew the Gulf War was really serious, the really frightening part (for us at least) was over and I had avoided the gut-wrenching agony that assailed my friends back home. It was a great lesson for me, and from that time on, I determined to just skim the headlines but not read them in-depth unless it was 1), something directly applicable to me, and 2) something I could do something about. Some will say, of course, that I can pray about everything--but in fact that is as impossible as multi-tasking. Not even Christ himself, while in human form, prayed about everything, or healed every person he met; are we less limited than he?

I noted earlier C.S. Lewis' comments on modern transportation. Now I'd like to finish with his insights on the futility and inanity making school children reading the news--but I think his arguments could be made for us adults as well! There is, of course, a place for news, for keeping informed so we can make informed decisions (especially regarding voting). But we need balance.

I learned the hard way that I can do more in 6 days than 7.  I've also learned that, with news, less can be more.

C.S. Lewis on Making Schoolboys Read the Newspapers.

Yet, even so, I can hardly regret having escaped the appalling waste of time and spirit which would have been involved in reading the war news or taking more than an artificial and formal part in conversations about the war. To read without military knowledge or good maps accounts of fighting which were distorted before they reached the Divisional general and further distorted before they left him and then "written up" out of all recognition by journalists, to strive to master what will be contradicted the next day, to fear and hope intensely on shaky evidence, is surely an ill use of the mind.  Even in peacetime I think those are very wrong who say that schoolboys should be encouraged  to read the newspapers.  Nearly all that a boy read there in his teens will be known before he is twenty to have been false in emphasis and interpretation, if not in fact as well, and most of it will have lost all importance.  Most of what he remembers he will therefore have to unlearn;  and he will probably have acquired an incurable taste for vulgarity and sensationalism and the fatal habit of fluttering from paragraph to paragraph to learn how an actress has been divorced in California, a train derailed in France, and quadruplets born in New Zealand.

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

C.S. Lewis on "Death of Distance" & Social Media's Asocial Society

xiamen university fujian china first car 1988 William Brown Ahoy from Amoy!  (historic Xiamen, China). In C.S. Lewis' autobiographical "Surprised by Joy," he wrote a remarkable passage about why he was so happy, during childhood, that his father had no car, because modern transportation destroyed distance, and with it, mystery and adventure. Just imagine how he'd have reacted to the changes we've witnessed even during our brief 3 decades in Xiamen, Fujian Province.

Xiamen Chinese train locomotive 1988 厦门福建中国火车80年代When we arrived in Xiamen in 1988, I carted my family about on a heavy iron and wooden pedicab, and the trains were smoke--belching locomotives you'd have seen a century ago in America, and in 1993, it took me 35 hours of driving (not including rest)  to reach Wuyi Mountain in the Northwest of our Fujian province. Today, I can drive it in 6 hours or take a 3-hour bullet train. Fast, convenient, but not near as exciting as 25 years ago, when travel was an adventure and we actually experienced the places and peoples we passed. It has been said the journey is more important than the destination but we no longer journey--especially with social media, where everyone is always "here," staring at me from a screen." And rather than relationships we have facades; we're online avatars with a different face for each social occasion, and more trolls than Middle Earth.

Fujian Xiamen China bullet train 2010 中国福建厦门动车 2010年If Lewis decried the annihilation of space, what would we have thought of social media's asocial society? After reading Lewis' brief passage below, join me in shutting off your phones and computers for at least one day a week and going for a leisurely walk to enjoy this brief Gift of Time that our Father has sliced from Eternity. Cease thoughts of There and Then and savor the gift of Here and Now.

C.S. Lewis' on The Annihilation of Space.

"I number it among my blessings that my father had no car, while yet most of my friends had, and sometimes took me for a drive. This meant that all these distant objects could be visited just enough to clothe them with memories and not impossible desires, while yet they remained ordinarily as inaccessible as the Moon.

"The deadly power of rushing about wherever I pleased had not been given me. I measured distances by the standard of man, man walking on his two feet, not by the standard of the internal combustion engine. I had not been allowed to deflower the very idea of distance; in return I possessed "infinite riches" in what would have been to motorists "a little room." 

"The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it "annihilates space." It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from traveling ten.

"Of course if a man hates apace and wants it to be annihilated, that is another matter. Why not creep into his coffin at once? There is little enough space there."

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Monday, February 20, 2017

3,563 Yuan Miracle (Serendipity, Yuanfen 缘分--or Providence?)

Tiffany Studios 1910 Consider Lilies of the Field Xiamen China Amoy马太福音6:28,29,耶稣说.“何必為衣裳憂慮呢?你想野地裡的百合花怎麼長起來;他也不勞苦,也不紡線。 然而我告訴你們,就是所羅門極榮華的時候,他所穿戴的,還不如這花一朵呢!”Ahoy from Amoy! (historic Xiamen, China).

Over the years we've had so many "coincidences" that some have even been written up in the Chinese media, where they are attributed to Yuanfen (缘分, "fate"). Just now I ran across an email I'd sent our youngest son, Matthew, on Feb. 27, 2011 to share just such a "coincidence" when we were working on paying one of his college bills. In rereading it, I can't help but marvel how the need was met--to the very penny, and on the very day I needed it!

Feb 27, 2011, 7:51 PM,
"Hey Shan and Matt! (and Mom)

"Just a quick note to share a MIRACULOUS story of our Father's provision....

"In December, I sent almost everything we had to the U.S. for Matt's college expenses, and then did not receive some money I'd really counted on.  I didn't worry about it, just tightened the belt in January and waited for February payday.  And then the school did not pay me in February because of Chinese New Year (they said they'd pay me double in March but I'd really needed it then).  Still, if we stuck to a tight budget, I figured we'd just barely make it to payday on March 12th.  So I still didn't worry, though I can't remember when things have been this tight (we did have money in the U.S, but given the high costs of transfer and exchange, it seemed poor stewardship to do that).

"Then I learned I needed 4,023 Yuan cash, that day, for an unplanned 4-day trip to Korea on March 8th to 12th. I'd be refunded, but not until after the trip. There was no way humanly possible so I rationalized borrowing it from Shannon. After all, we often help Shannon, so it was "all in the family" But I felt uneasy about it. As J.H. Taylor said, "His will done in His way will never lack His supply." Borrowing, from a son or anyone else, did not seem to be the epitome of faith!

"As soon as I decided to borrow the money, our XMU travel agent phoned to say he'd gotten my ticket for 600 less than I'd already agreed to pay! So the Korean Ar ticket and taxi cost only 3,563. 
consider the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap. 你們看那天上的飛鳥,也不種,也不收,也不積蓄在倉裡,你們的天父尚且養活他。你們不比飛鳥貴重得多麼?
"After he hung up, XMU foreign Affairs phoned to say they had 1,036 Yuan they should have paid me a month earlier but could not because of a paperwork problem. And within half an hour, Sue's brother in North China's Dalian phoned to say he was wiring us 2500 Yuan to settle yet another matter. His and FAO's money added up to 3,536 Yuan--the exact cost of the trip. And so I bought the plane tickets--no need for my son's money because my own Father is better at finances than my two sons' father.

"It was a miraculous reminder that our Father has his hand on every detail, large or small--including a totally unexpected trip to Korea. He has proven faithful countless times during our 29 years in China--and during my 61 years on this little blue ball of a planet that, for now, we call home.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:28, 29 (NIV), "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these!" 

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill
Academic Director, SMXMU OneMBA Program
School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sisyphus' Boulder in your Shoe? Shake it out!

Sisyphus boulder pebble in shoe Amoy Xiamen China Daily NoodlesAhoy from Amoy! (Historic Xiamen, China).

Muhammed Ali once said, "It isn't the mountains ahead that you have to climb that wear you out. It's the pebble in your shoe." And these pebbles seem like boulders until we shake them out and examine them. Then we marvel at how such tiny things created such great discomfort.

But unless we deal with them, they will plague us like the boulder that Sisyphus was condemned to push up the mountain, only only to have it fall back down and have to start over again every day--for eternity.
Sisyphus boulder pebble in show Xiamen Amoy Daily Noodles
That's no way to amend like spend eternity, much less our brief three score and ten! We either shake the boulders out or they will shake us right into the grave--so shake them out. 
Better yet, go barefoot for a bit! And like a child (for we are always our Father's child), delight in the feel of grass between your toes. When you're barefoot, pebbles large and small are not as annoying because we don't hold them so closely.  
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet not even Solomon in all of his glory was arrayed as one of these."

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill 
School of Management, Xiamen University
Academic Director, SMXMU OneMBA Program

Matthew 6:25-34-- "Don't Worry!"
  25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University