Title: The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything
Author: Stephen M. R. Covey
Published: 2006
Genre: Business Management/Self-improvement
Ratings: 3.8 out of 5 stars

With our world greatly plagued by scandals and corruptions that have eroded the level of trust among people, this book is a timely read and attempt to put things right.

Trust being an integral element in relationships have often being taken for granted. In this era where there is a depper desire for accountability in governments, churches or any other organisations, this book by leadership expert Covey (son of Dr. Stephen Covey) is a welcome guide to nurturing trust in our professional and personal lives.

This book is well-researched and meticulous in its presentation which is very helpful in not only feeding the cognitive appettite, but it also provides practical steps in building a life of trust.

However, the book is awfully thorough that becomes too lengthy that it actually needs to. Still, this book makes a good read with great concepts such as trust being the “hidden variable” in the formula for organisational success.

The traditional business formula is: (Strategy x Execution = Results). But there is a hidden variable: (Strategy x Execution) x Trust = Results.

Interestingly, I realised that Singapore is one exception where this trust formula does not apply. Cos whether high or low trust, our government is still able to execute its strategies without any resistance. True? =p

Who should read it: Business-owners, leaders, management and PMETs. Also for those who like to develop personal character.

God’s Covenant with Us

Recently, I had a revelation that provided more insights about God’s covenant with us.

The seriousness of His covenant

The word “covenant” in its Hebrew meaning berith refers to something that has been “cut”.

This may explain why we have observed people cutting themselves when they enter into an oath or become sworn blood brothers.

That is why when the apostle Paul shared about the new covenant that was found in Christ, he was referring to Him as the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of mankind.

It is through Christ with the shedding of His blood, that man is reconciled with God; altering man’s eternal destiny.

With a covenant requiring to cut or even to the extent of sacrificing one’s life, that shows how serious it is. Hence, a covenant serves as a seal between two parties that cannot be broken under any circumstances.

The paradox of His covenant

The amazing part of His covenant is when we consider the seriousness of a covenant, it seems entirely absurd that our Almighty God would even make an agreement with man.

I think we would agree that we would only go into an agreement with someone if we are confident of that person’s credibility which may be measured in terms of character or competence.

Taking into account the fallibility of man, it is obvious that God was taking a huge risk in trusting us to keep our end of the agreement when He initiated this covenant with us.

In fact, God was and is pretty much on the losing end.

But against conventional wisdom, we find that God trusts us. And more than that, He has remained faithful in spite of our shortcomings!

The message behind His covenant

Reflect for a moment on the fact that we or the Church have disappointed and grieved Him incessantly over spans of generations since the patriacrh Abraham, but yet He has remained true to His word.

Don’t you think it is mind-boggling that God would even intiate to establish a covenant with us?

“The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations!

Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors.”

Deuteronomy 7:7-8

The establishment of God’s covenant with us reveals the depth of His love for us. And it reminds us that He is faithful even when we may fail Him.

When we consider the extent of God’s love and magnanimity through His covenant with us, it also provides that much needed perspective for us in becoming more gracious towards others (even the Church) who might have hurt or even disappointed us.

Just as God displays unconditional love through His covenant, so should we as He is.

Religion, God & Other Separate Matters

Below is a blog entry from Mr Wang Says So. He provides an excerpt from a book that provokes thought and demands soul searching especially if we are Christians.

I shall quote a conversation between a certain old man and a certain young man, in a novel which I shall not name. What the book title is, and who the author is, is less interesting than the point which the fictional old man makes:

“Four billion people say they believe in God, but few genuinely believe. If people believed in God, they would live every minute of their lives in support of that belief. Rich people would give their wealth to the needy.”

Everyone would be frantic to determine which religion was the true one. No one could be comfortable in the thought that they might have picked the wrong religion and blundered into eternal damnation, or bad reincarnation, or some other unthinkable consequence. People would dedicate their lives to converting others to their religions.

“A belief in God would demand one hundred percent obsessive devotion, influencing every waking moment of this brief life on earth. But your four billion so-called believers do not live their lives in that fashion, except for a few. The majority believe in the usefulness of their beliefs—an earthly and practical utility—but they do not believe in the underlying reality.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “If you asked them, they’d say they believe.”

“They say that they believe because pretending to believe is necessary to get the benefits of religion. They tell other people that they believe and they do believer-like things, like praying and reading holy books. But they don’t do the things that a true believer would do, the things a true believer would have to do.

“If you believe a truck is coming toward you, you will jump out of the way. That is belief in the reality of the truck. If you tell people you fear the truck but do nothing to get out of the way, that is not belief in the truck. Likewise, it is not belief to say God exists and then continue sinning and hoarding your wealth while innocent people die of starvation. When belief does not control your most important decisions, it is not belief in the underlying reality, it is belief in the usefulness of believing.”

“Are you saying God doesn’t exist?” I asked, trying to get to the point.

“I’m saying that people claim to believe in God, but most don’t literally believe. They only act as though they believe because there are earthly benefits in doing so. They create a delusion for themselves because it makes them happy.”

“So you think only the atheists believe their own belief?” I asked.

My Doodling:

Senior Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church was presented at the National Day Rally when PM Lee gave his speech. In his blog, he shares his opinions on some of the issues addressed in particularly about racial and religious harmony. Read his engaging entry here>>>

The True Essence of Religion

People who think they are religious but say things they should not say are just fooling themselves. Their “religion” is worth nothing.

Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and without fault is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help, and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence.”

James 1:26-27 (New Century Version)

The Charter for Compassion

If you have not watched this compelling presentation- “The Charter for Compassion” by Karen Armstrong before, please do so now.

“I say that religion isn’t about believing things. It’s ethical alchemy. It’s about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.”

~ Karen Armstrong on Powells.com

Time for the Church to Love

Last Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented his National Day Rally speech.

Strangely, the topic of race and religion dominated his speech.

However, in view of the inevitable force that is changing our social, political and economic landscape in our global world, I reckoned that his speech was somewhat a timely reminder and a wake-up call to us Christians.

That force is that of globalisation which is pushing people together even closer than before. And religion or its fundalmentalists and dogmatists are becoming an opposing and dangerous force that divides and threatens our society’s progress.

“Catalysts” for further globalisation

Back in early June, US President Obama visited Cairo, Eygpt and delivered a groundbreaking message to urge an end to suspicion and discord between America and the Muslim world.

He highlighted that “the relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.”

In a gesture of reconciliation with the Islamic world, Obama further conceded that tension “has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

Even Tony Blair, the Bristish ex-Prime Minister had launched his new inter-faith foundation called the Tony Blair Faith Foundation this April.

What makes the foundation’s work distinctive is its emphasis on uniting people of different religious traditions in practical action – with the eradication of malaria a key priority at this moment.

The Church’s divine appointment

With this backdrop, I strongly believe that if there is a such divine appointment for the Church to represent Christ in His fullness, it is NOW.

For too long Christianity that was founded upon a legacy of love has been tainted with the worst sort of intolerance and prejudice.

Most troubling of all is witnessing how the teachings of Christ has been hijacked by believers who hate in the name of love.

“When people worship Him today – or even speak his name – the object of their devotion is unlikely to be who they think he is,” said Deepak Chopra in his book titled- The Third Jesus, “it seems clearly that He has served to divide peoples and nations. He has led to destructive wars in the name of religious fantasies.”

Even in his rally speech, PM Lee cited the AWARE saga as an attempted takeover “by a religiously motivated group who shared a strong religious fervour to enter civil space”.

I submit to you that if we Christians truly desire to spread the message towards fulfilling the Great Commission, then we cannot afford to be known or driven by a religious motivation.

As a people, we need to be more concerned about what is right than about being right. We need to be love motived, simply because God is love; being the message is more important than us merely spreading the message.

Christ in this 21st century not only needs to be accurately represented, but also re-presented.

My Doodling:

Recently, a local taxi driver’s blog has created some buzz. This is no ordinary taxi driver but “probably the only taxi driver in this world with a PhD from Stanford and a proven track record of scientific accomplishments”. He blogs mainly on his quirky encounters with his passengers. Very interesting.

Thanksgiving for 31 Years of His Goodness

Last week, I celebrated my 31st birthday.

Yes… I’m now officially over 30, and I’m proud of it… Yeah!

Personally, this year is a significant year for me in many ways.

A year of significance

With this being the first year after my 30th year, I am experiencing many new frontiers in various aspects of my life.

This year is the first birthday in a new church with a new group of friends and new ministry.

This year has ushered me towards a new phase of life and commmitment with someone whom I love and can comfortably call as my soul mate.

This year has led me to a new organisation with a new position and new portfolio.

This year has brought me and my family members to a new level of intimacy especially with our first road trip together as one big family.

This year has also provided me with a new level of reach with my network of friends.

Out of a sudden, I’m re-connecting with friends that I have lost touched for years and making new ones in the strangest circumstances as well.

Lavished with His goodness

Having used to living my life in the past that was full of chaos, instability, lack and self-centredness, I’m still learning to fully embrace  His ever-increasing peace, stability, prosperity and love in my new life.

Frankly, I do not know how to begin to thank God. But I know I owe everything to Him.

He took me in when I was in my lowest. And not only that, He loved and nurtured me as if I was worthed the effort and time.

From where I was then with totally nothing, to where I am now with at least something. I know that He has been unreservingly good to me.

Looking back at an old entry that I published three years ago on my birthday, I’m grateful that most of what I had mentioned has made significant progress and that includes the expansion of my tummy. Ha ha…

God is good, and I’m looking forward to another 31 years (and beyond) of His goodness in my life!