Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What A Fool I've Been!

Yes, everybody, WHAT A FOOL I'VE BEEN!

I had written a parable "A Family Dinner" to illustrate the absurdity of people making a big fuss over Pastor Prince's $500,000 pay. I used the setting of a restaurant with customers representing people attending the church and the chef representing Pastor Prince.

I subsequently wrote a follow-up article "The Curious Case Of The Half A Million Dollar Chef". A Mr Anonymous then wrote the comment on this article - "This confirms it. Religion and business do get mixed up in some places." - and I had a series of exchanges with him based on that.

When I read that comment, I thought Mr Anonymous was criticizing Pastor Prince for the one-North building project which is a commercial building and in that context mixing religion and business ie. I thought he meant that Pastor Prince should not lead the church into engaging in commercial activity.

However, from Mr Anonymous' latest comment, I just realized that he was just simply referring to me using a restaurant to illustrate a church in my article! Restaurant = Business, Church = Religion, so therefore I mixed up religion and business!

What a fool I have been! I have been trying talk some sense to Mr Anonymous but I simply couldn't get through to him because we were on the wrong frequency! In one comment, Mr Anonymous said,"Just limited intellect on my part." I thought he was just being falsely modest or sarcastic but I realize now that he wasn't kidding! (well, to his credit, at least he's smart enough to remain anonymous)

I mean, I use a restaurant in a parable and he says I am mixing up religion and business! How about Jesus using a vineyard in his parable in Luke 20: 9-16? Was Jesus mixing up religion and business too?

What a fool I have been, not realizing that all the while I was trying to talk to somone on a frequency way below mine. I shall append my exchanges with Mr Anonymous below, and you can see for yourself what a fool I've been (Anonymous in blue, I in red because of my red face now):

This confirms it. Religion and business do get mixed up in some places.
Blessing by god. Decision by people.


Dear Anonymous_4April_818PM,
Are you the same anonymous of 1137AM and 1143AM?
Are you choosing to remain anonymous for fear of being poisoned for speaking nonsense?
All the chefs in Singapore are using the same pool of ingredients to cook their food. However, it is important to note that while certain ingredients are harmless on their own, mixing them together can have a poisonous effect.
I'm sure the Half A Million Dollar Chef doesn't do that because the many thousands who have tasted his cooking are alive and well-nourished and coming back again and again for more.
A case in point is Bro Timothy Tan who testifies to being well fed and growing stronger each day. Perhaps you might want to join him and drop by the restaurant and taste the food yourself.
Don't worry, I don't think you would be singled out for targeted poisoning since you would be anonymous in the midst of a 20,000 strong crowd.


Business and religion normally should not get mixed up, may be when you add some poison, they do. Look like it's wasn't the boss who decided the salary but some boss assistants who did.
Wait till JD comes, the boss will be really angry with the assistants and those who spoke up for them ! Ha ha


You said,"Business and religion normally should not get mixed up, may be when you add some poison, they do."
Let's take a look at Luke 5:1-11.
Jesus made use of Simon Peter's fishing boat as a platform to preach to the crowds.
After He finished preaching, Jesus directed Peter to move the boat into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.
And what a catch they had! They caught so much fish that the nets began to break, so much fish that filled the boats so full until they began to sink, so much fish that Peter was moved to leave everything to follow Jesus.
A curious mix of business and religion by Jesus, don't you think?


Here's the complete parable.
Yes, the news of the Half a Million Dollar Chef is out. Now, more and more people start talking about him.
Some of these people happen to have patronised the restaurant before. Some of them, only one time but for others, over a period of time. They explain why they don’t visit the place anymore. They all say the food taste good but just different.
The Boss of this restaurant actually has many more of such restaurants. He anticipates that he will have very good business. So he wants to control the standard of his food by making sure that they use the right ingredients. The Boss has written 2 books: 1) Old Ingredient Book, 2) New Ingredient Book. He has sent his Son to all the restaurants to instruct them to use the New Ingredient Book.
For those people have patronised other restaurants before, they find that the food here does taste good and the texture is excellent but it’s just different. The food at other branches is largely similar, but this one is just different. They take the food and analyse it. They find that the food is loaded with Trans Fat!
Previously, people don’t know much about Trans Fat. They all think that margarine is better than butter. But now, it’s proven that Trans Fat is harmful for the body. It does not kill immediately though and because it gives a better texture, people like it and think that the food is more nutritious.
How does this Trans Fat come about? It’s because the Chef does not follow the full instructions from the Son of the Boss. He chooses and picks the ingredient according to his own experimentation.
But people who patronise other branches deliberately stay away as they now know that the food contains Trans Fat. They try to tell those who partronise this branch about it but they are too mesmerized by the texture. Some patrons actually do not eat the food. They come to this branch to socialise as they just want to maintain their business contacts who find this place very conducive for networking.
After hearing these comments, the Boss assistants and the restaurant patrons try to defend their Chef. They ask those who have not visited this branch and thus could not have tasted the food to shut up. They do not realise that many patrons have bought take away and posted them on the internet, such as YouTube. In fact, many can be found there! The Boss does not blame those who do not come to this restaurant but comment. He is very happy that they do make those comments. By commenting, it helps the public to stay away from this branch and go to those branches that cook truly what He intends the Chef to do.
So what is the Boss going to do about this? He is really a smart Boss. He has already anticipated that some Chefs would defy His orders. He has fixed a date to meet up with them and he would mete out the harshest sentence ever. But isn’t He the One who rewards this Chef with the handsome pay? Actually, no. It isn’t the Boss but His assistants who also eat the Chef’s cooking. They would face the same sentence.
What about those who continue to eat the food? Same sentence.
And what will happen to those who commented? He will reward them far beyond the imagination of the Chef, the assistants and those grudging patrons.


It's interesting that you actually select “The Calling of the First Disciples”! There could be 2 outcomes:
1.Simon did not follow Jesus and continue catching his fish (Business)
2. Simon left everything and followed Jesus (Religion)
Simon had chosen number 2. Therefore, there was no mixed up of Business and Religion. In fact, by not selecting number 1, Simon had demonstrated that Business and Religion should not get mixed up!


It's interesting that even though I cited the scripture passage to demonstrate the mixing of business and religion by JESUS, you chose to twist my point and shift the focus on Simon.
Your point of business and religion should not be mixed was originally meant to be directed at the preacher, wasn't it? But now you conveniently choose to redirect it at the follower?


I couldn't find the part on the preacher doing business in your citation. So naturally, I found it in Simon. So sorry for that. It's wasn't intentional. Just limited intellect on my part.
Let's then focus back on the preacher which is Jesus. Are you trying to convince me that Jesus was doing business when he was preaching ? Where was the transaction ?
For Simon, I can see that he gave up his business.


My apologies, it seems that I have over-estimated your intellect.
Jesus was preaching (religion) from a fishing boat (commercial craft) and later directed Simon Peter to go fishing (business).
I hope I have clarified my point sufficiently, otherwise my apologies again, I may have once again over-estimated my already lowered estimation of your intellect ;-)


I'm amazed at your ability to do connections, Stanley.
First you linked tax and donation and can't tell the difference. Now you manage to call anything a Business.
A fishing boat is a commercial craft, may be. But I don't suppose you sell anything there. You probably take the fish to the market to sell them. That's where the business is done.
Neither is the act of fishing considered a Business. The act of selling the fish is the Business.
If I were to apply your logic, then a drink seller in a school canteen can be considered working in the "Education Business".
Wow. I'm getting a taste of the effect of this Trans Fat.


My apologies, I guess I have to lower my estimation of your intellect further.
I suppose you are expecting Simon Peter and his mates to haul the nets-breaking, boats-sinking load of fishes home and eat them for one whole month?! You mean to say they are fishing only for leisure or self-sufficiency but not for commercial profit?!
You yourself implied that NCC building a commercial building in order to hold its services in the 5,000-seater auditorium in one-north is mixing business and religion, so I draw a parallel of Jesus preaching on a commercial craft, is there no connection?
Going by your logic, since there is no commercial activity conducted in the auditorium, then there is no mixing of business and religion then.


"I suppose you are expecting Simon Peter and his mates to haul the nets-breaking, boats-sinking load of fishes home and eat them for one whole month?! You mean to say they are fishing only for leisure or self-sufficiency but not for commercial profit?!" - No. I didn't say that. Jesus was preaching and he happened to demonostrate God's power on a fishing boat. Jesus already knew that he will leave everything and follow Him. He does not intent to eat them or sell them. He only wanted to demonstrate his power to bring Simon to Him. But how you link it to Business.... I really shake head.


"You yourself implied that NCC building a commercial building in order to hold its services in the 5,000-seater auditorium in one-north is mixing business and religion, so I draw a parallel of Jesus preaching on a commercial craft, is there no connection?" - I thought this thread is about the Chef's salary ? When did I imply this ? My intellect is low and I'm beginning to forget things. Please just point to me where I implied this. I'm not being sarcastic. I've searched and couldn't find it, honestly.


Dear Stanley, question for you.
Initially, you were flabbergasted by the Chef's high pay "What? $500,000 just to cook food? This is too much! I am never coming to this restaurant again!" but later, you try to justify his pay by comparing it to a profession in a totally different field.


I guess for the sake of your self-admitted low intellect, I shall "imitate Christ" and explain the whole context of my article.
I was writing a parable ... a story ... to illustrate the absurdity of people making a big fuss of Pastor Prince's $500k a year salary; I was not writing a factual account of an actual visit to a restaurant.
I used the analogy of a restaurant because I felt that it was appropriate since a pastor is dishing out spiritual food to the congregation every Sunday.
I wrote that I was flabbergasted ... it is a technique of story-telling ... my character in the story is representative of the typical view of people outside the church. I used the character of my wife in the story to say why that view is wrong.
I thought you implied about one-North based on your very first comment:"This confirms it. Religion and business do get mixed up in some places."
Since you say you did not imply this, could you explain in what way did my parable about Pastor Prince's salary confirm for you that "religion and business do get mixed up in some places"?


Dear Stanley
>> I was writing a parable ... a story ... to illustrate the absurdity of people making a big fuss of Pastor Prince's $500k a year salary; I was not writing a factual account of an actual visit to a restaurant. <<
I find that this statement itself is absurd. You think that fussing over a Chef's high pay is absurd, but do you realise why there is a fuss? The pay! No wind, no tide. The wind causes the tide and now people blames the tide!
>> I used the analogy of a restaurant because I felt that it was appropriate since a pastor is dishing out spiritual food to the congregation every Sunday. <<
Stanley, I’m beginning to get better acquainted with your thinking process now. Spiritual food… ah … food … ah…. restaurant! There, the link is made again. There you start writing a parable on restaurant without considering the fact that a restaurant is a Business while a Church is religion! This is what I meant by mixing Business and Religion. Making use of a situation in a different context to validate another. Business is about making money. Is the Church also? I guess in your mind, the answer is yes. That’s why you can make the connection. But I think many people don’t think like that (except for those who awe, brilliant, great, bravo you)!
>> I wrote that I was flabbergasted ... it is a technique of story-telling ... my character in the story is representative of the typical view of people outside the church. I used the character of my wife in the story to say why that view is wrong. <<
Technique or what, is not the matter. The content has shown that you were flabbergasted as the *patron* and not as an outsider looking in. You also said “I am never coming to this restaurant again!” You can’t run away from these facts. Is your character representing all the patrons of this restaurant? If yes, then I take it that the patrons of this restaurant are also flabbergasted by the pay and will not come back again. The above facts reveal that this is the true spontaneous thinking in your mind when you first write this. As a patron, it’s too much and I won’t come back again. And I guess you review your parable before publishing? After reviewing, you still think that way and publish it. But I wonder why you change your stand in the follow up article. Ok. You don’t need to follow up on this one. I just take it as a Technique issue.
>> I thought you implied about one-North based on your very first comment:"This confirms it. Religion and business do get mixed up in some places."
Since you say you did not imply this, could you explain in what way did my parable about Pastor Prince's salary confirm for you that "religion and business do get mixed up in some places"? <<
Mixing Business and Religion… read above. And aiyo… when does One-North ever come in? The article is about the restaurant. And the comment is about One-North? Faint!
Putting aside our differences in the Chef’s pay... I want to share something with you: Praises don’t make you a better writer. Criticism DOES.


no wind, no waves.
no moon, no tide.

Shalom

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

now we know how logical is logical christian. :)

thank you for helping us to understand the sort of people under prince.

kingdavid said...

Anonymous (April 9, 2009 2:44am)

I think you just step out of line to ridicule all the people under a certain ministry. Whether you believe in this ministry or not does not give you the right to taunt, condemn or mock.

For someone who does not even dare leave its name, does not even have a right to comment, in my opinion.

Your comments online behind a computer does not mean you do not need to face the consequences of your words.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, i forgot about the inquisition/ the tortures/ the crucification/ the witch hunts etc. lol

very christian like oh MIGHTY INFALLIBLE KING you are.lol

Anonymous said...

Prosecution is a sign that tells you guys you are on the right course. Pray for him. He's just a brother from another mother.

Anonymous said...

It isn't so much the size of the remuneration that was paid to the pastor. It is the justification given by the deacon who said he deserved it for bringing in so much revenue for the church. He has debased the very values held by most christians and that is to help the people in need, both spiritually and physically. Doesn't saving souls count for much?

Stephanie said...

People in the world look for justification for someone to receive certain pay.

But Lord God O Almighty bless his beloved child because it is undeserved, unearned and unmerited. It is all by HIS GRACE that Pastor Prince receive such a pay.

How to justify that? I don't know!

So, no matter how logical not illogical you are, there is no answer, except the Mightiness of all that Lord Jesus has done on the cross. He gives us, His Children of God, His Righteousness of God. All who believes are blessed the fruit of this Righteousness. How to justify that?

Praise the Lord for all His Great Grace and Great Mercy.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!!!

Anonymous said...

Logical yes. Biblical hardly. You've missed the point about why Pastors are Pastors in the 1st place. Because the can cook well? In this case preach well? Or is it a calling from God?

I know a lot of motivational speakers who don't need to use God's name to make that kind of money.

http://www.mingspot.com/index.php/financial-matters/about-christianity/91-legally-right-and-biblically-right

My response if you are interested. Really if you are a member of NCC, I suggest you get another mentor in your understanding of salvation.
Giving to God does not get you blessings. Giving to God is does not get you a good life. You will need to pick up your cross and follow Him. Thankfully his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Praise God.

Daughter Of Sarah said...

We don't give to God to get a good life or blessings. I think you misunderstand where we come from.

We give out of the overflow of the blessings He has blessed us with, and we expect life and life more abundantly not because we give but because Jesus said it and God is faithful to keep His Word - they do not go out and return to Him void.

NCC-ers do not blindly follow PP. In fact most read the bible, studying closely its Hebrew and Greek. Most also listen to other good sermons and read widely. So it is not right to say we only get our feeding from PP.

I do not dispute his pay is higher than most people's comfort levels for a pastor's pay, but I will let Jesus be His advocate/judge for that blessing rather than judge him because none of us knows what is God's opinion. All we voice here is our human ones and sometimes, not very pretty or Christian either. The best part is that we all think we are right haha. I recall the ending of Job where God says this to Eliphaz and friends: "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." I hope for each of us that we will not receive a similar rebuke.

I also reflect on the LORD's action after he rebuked the judgemental friends:

After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver [a] and a gold ring.

12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so he died, old and full of years.

Interesting, God blessed Job with prosperity in the spirit, in relationships, in the family, and even materially. Hmm...

kingdavid said...

Anonymous (again, sigh...) April 11, 2009 4:45pm

Please read the Bible first before attempting to use the Bible to support your personal views, "Biblical hardly".

Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well,especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” 1 Timothy 5:17-18

Giving to God does not get you blessed because You are already blessed when you accepted Jesus as Your Savior! Giving does not get you a good life because you already have the ultimate; eternal life! You give as and expression; out of gratitude and thanksgiving.

I don't mean to sound rude but I think you are the one who needs to get another mentor in your understanding of God's Word. See where you eat, not all websites are biblically learned.

God is not praised or honoured when His Word is misappropriated, loosely used and taken out of context. You may be stumbling others this way...

Anonymous said...

You might want to read down the line to chapter 6 about False Teachers and Contentment.

But perhaps if you feel that PP's intention is badly misunderstood, I can point you to the right journalist to clear his name.

If he lives a humble (I didn't mention poor here) life with a 4 room HDB and a second hand toyota. I'm very sorry. Perhaps it's my poor judgement to jump to conclusions. If he owns a million dollar private property and $200k luxury car. Let me see... he was an IT professional before that. Would he have managed the same in the IT line? 500k a year? Can I safely assume he became rich by becoming a pastor.

Job didn't become rich by becoming a pastor. Neither did David, Soloman, Abraham, Joseph... men of faith and great wealth but none teachers of the word.

On the other hand I'm sure you know Paul and teachers of the word lived a very different live. Not poor but humbly comfortable. Why? Because

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Everyone has their strengths and weakness. I acknowledge PP's strength and merits in having convert many to the saving grace of Christ, raising money to do good. Is it so hard now for him to admit that taking $500k was greedy on his part? Is it?

Man have sin and weakness as I do too. Is it so hard to admit it? Say sorry made a mistake, give back the wealth, and all will be well. Isn't it? Christians are not the type that say sorry also must explain why.

If I'm wrong about PP and he actually lives a very humble life. There will be speedy deletion of my comments and I'll arrange the ST journalist to publish that PP actually lives a humble life and we're mistaken about the news report.

Otherwise, I suppose you are all waiting for the day when your dear pastor buys a private jet/yacht and then you tell yourself that God has blessed him so richly.

Let me point out, the only "teachers of the word" who were materially richly blessed were the Pharisees. They were also the same people who cannot be blamed. Any word against them is blasphemy. The same men who crucified Christ. I'm not saying PP is one. I really hate to draw on this parallel but surely you being the logical christian will know what I mean.

2 days before the article was published. I had a revelation about this and wrote a blog entry on Why can't pastors be financially blessed. Don't just take the title. In this article, I'm talking about large amounts of wealth. Like the 500k that we are talking about here.

My mentor is a good man and I do take responsibility for my poor bible knowledge. "Biblical hardly" referred to the response by NCC.

I repeat there is no such thing as becoming rich by becoming a teacher of the word.

Stanley Wong said...

Dear Anonymous_14April_1047AM (or should I call you Ming instead?),

How do you define a "humble life"? What is your criteria?

If you interview 10 people, what are the chances they will also list out the same criteria as you?

You said "My mentor is a good man and I do take responsibility for my poor bible knowledge".

Did you mentor teach you to take responsibility for your "poor bible knowledge" by identifying yourself instead of displaying your "poor bible knowledge" anonymously?

Ming said...

Dude... the anonymous title is posted by blogspot. I've given you a blog link with a profile of myself there.

Yeah I admit humble is not an easy definition. 100k? 200k? Somethings are grey and somethings are obvious to a point that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Remember the outburst over the "peanuts" that Durai took as remuneration from NKF? Yah what you saying here is 500k is peanuts. Of course, now I understand according to a friend from NCC, the board includes an investment bank director. You know the million dollar payout people. I'm sure you know news was all about them much of this year. 500k peanuts.

Just for knowledge a friend from NCC correctly pointed out that there was a teacher of the word who was richly blessed and greatly praised by God. His name is Melchizedek, the first high priest, king of Salem. The knowledge slipped me and he was referenced in later part of the bible alongside Jesus. Fair enough. I now accept that someone equivalent of high priest status and king(or CEO) enjoys that kind of privilege.

That my friend is what I call someone who truly wanted to know the truth.

Just to please you I'll type my name and URL everytime I reply ok? Gosh... are you from govt service?

(Apologies to civil servants who are not so anal cos I work with too many who are.)

Stanley Wong said...

Dude... you posted a link to an article, not your profile ... how am I supposed to know that the writer of the comment is also the writer of the article? Is it so difficult to end your comment with 4 alphabets - "Ming"?

I did NOT say that 500k is peanuts, NOT in any article, NOT in any comments, so do NOT stuff words into my mouth.

Like you said, humble is not an easy definition. It is subjective and varies according to how each individual values something or someone ... there is no right answer, so who are we to judge whether 500k a year is excessive or not?

Is paying $250k a week for someone to kick a football excessive or peanuts? Is the person greedy for accepting that amount?

As for your reference to Melchizedek, I think it is better for you to find out exactly who He is by listening to Pastor Prince's sermons first hand.

By the way, I am not from the government service. You would've known that IF you had bothered to read my profile.

Nathalie said...

people are just opinioned here, there is no use to dispute/ argue anymore, it's not edifying at all.

Every church has its own weakness, but the dangerous part is it doesn't even willing to admit and try to change/ move on. (end)

Nathalie said...

and also, spare me from the spam emails on facebook. I am not interested in any of the dispute/ justification of NCC at all. It's just meaningless.