Thursday, April 29, 2010

POWERCAMP: emPOWERing CAMPers!

I just got back from one of the most packed, tearful yet joyful and energizing 4-day vacations ever. My fellow churchmates and I went on a camping trip at Mount Malarayat. It wasn't our goal to bring out our amazona side though, so we stayed in rooms, not in tents, we ate well-prepared cooked meals, not hotdogs or marshmallows on sticks roasted in bonfire. Our goal there was to have a better understanding of our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and build relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ.

The place was very conducive for achieving our goal. It displayed a glorious landscape of lushful greens and refreshing bodies of water. Sights like this remind me that there really is a God who is able to carve the mountains and dig the valleys, who can pour water on places for fruit bearing trees to grow.


DAY 1:
We arrived there a few minutes before 3:00PM last Sunday (April 25). We dressed up for the night's big event: MYSTERY PARTY! We all had to portray a certain character. I was dressed as Claudia Shiftey. I was supposed to be a blondie dressed in a tight fitted dress. A beauty queen, an author, a singer - one of the suspects. But guess what, I wore a chongsam and a tinee-winee crown on my head. Had to work with the resources I have at home. Other portrayals include a cop, a waitress, a talk show host, a princess, a warrior, a pirate, a latino and many more. See how creativity came to play in the game.




DAY 2:
The schedule for the following days started at 6:30AM when we had our devotions. On day 2 we talked about the cause of bearing fruit, which is through the disciplining of the Father ("He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit") and cleansing through God's word ("He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful"). What is the fruit (Note: not fruits)? It is to behave, to become and to be burdened like Jesus. It is to glorify God. I learned from here, that sometimes what gets cut off is not just our sins, but also the good things in life. In gardening, the gardener (God) cuts off even the branches with healthy green leaves because these can take away the nutrients needed by the most important part of the plant which is its fruit. Good things are not necessarily the best things in life. Work may be good, owning cars are also not bad, but if these take your focus from God, from your family, then it's most likely probable for these 'good' things to be taken away.

As the branches we should always remain in the Vine (Jesus Christ), and the Vine should remain in us, to bear fruit. This is to have 'close fellowship' with the Vine through prayer, Bibly Study, obedience, drawing close to God.

After devotion we had our breakfast, and then we sang songs. Singing lines like these "Jesus, I believe in You and I would go to the ends of the earth, to the ends of the earth" or "Your will above all else, my purpose remains. The art of losing myself in bringing You praise.." brought tears to my eyes. And I am still not admitting that I'm 'iyakin'. It's the songs that moved me (hehe).

In today's first module, we discussed some of the broad themes in the Christian life: GRACE, ELECTION, CALLING and FAITH. Initially, I though "Oh my, the start of a nose-bleeding experience." Good thing our speaker has a gift in teaching and is blessed with a sense of humor. He made all 'meaty food' clear and interesting.
GRACE is not equal to MERCY nor JUSTICE.
GRACE: unmerited favor / undeserved favor. This is getting the benefit you don't deserve.
MERCY: not getting what you deserve.
JUSTICE: getting what you deserve.

I liked what he said about ELECTION. He said "All your trials, weaknesses won't change your DESTINY." If you have been saved through Christ through Faith, then you are already saved! God chose us before there even was a world. All those He knew that would believe in Jesus Christ.

CALLING is the act of grace by which God invites men to accept by faith the salvation provided by Christ. We are called to be saved, called to be saints, called to be holy. The speaker shared with an the illustration of a bee. An average bee makes a teaspoon of honey in a lifetime. And if we are called to make that little honey, hopefully our response is "Yes God, I'll do my best."

In the afternoon, we had SPEED UP! activity. It's a very well prepared Amazing Race with 16 creatively designed stops. According to my cousin who was the game master, it won't be as physically challenging as before. There would be more intellectual and strategic challenges. True, there were stops that let us count, guess, memorize, and even rest . But we had to run all around the resort. And guess what? I still have muscle pains up until now (2 days later)!

This picture was taken during the 10 min. compulsory break time right after the "planting" stop where we had to run 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 whole court.


When evening came, we watched this short tear-jerking video. It's about a Father's love for his Son and a bridgemaster's love for the people in the train.

video


DAY 3
Today's devotion was about treasuring the word of God more than the daily bread, treating it as something more precious than gold and sweeter than honey. It is a very yummy (satisfying) milk for newborn babies and solid meat for mature believers. It has the power to encourage, to reveal the inner character and to guide us how to live a godly life.

We also had seminars for the past two days. I attended Angels and Demons yesterday and Minor Doctrines today. I learned that there are no such things as ghosts, only angels and demons. They have different ranks, these include: angels of the Lord (representatives), commanders, seraphims, cherubims, messengesr, ministering beings, fighters (legions), destroyers. They are also to be judged by God and men. I still have no idea how.

We wrapped the day up with the "Testimony Night." The campers were divided into teams and were tasked to answer four questions. We shared how we were before we accepted Christ, how we got to know Him and what changed in us after. We also shared our learnings from the camp. I realized how bonded my team (red) was when Bro. Eric told us we even ate the garlic he spat out. (Sigh, if I only knew! :P) Had a fruitful sharing with them. Go red team!

Today was a tearful day esp. when I heard stories of my fellow campers. I was amazed at how God has been evident and faithful in their lives. All glory be to God!


DAY 4
Finally, the TOP day! Our devotion compared the disastrous kind of life and the delightful kind of life. The disastrous life is one that heeds to the sinful nature of men, one that undertakes "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.." Good thing that believers who live a sinful lifestyle are still being disciplined. Just like how a loving father does to a child. They are accountable to their actions and will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

The delightful life is one that lives by the Spirit that gives victory over the sinful nature. Living by the Spirit is a habitual conduct that allows an indwelling Holy Spirit to fill us everyday. (Filling means to be controlled by the Lord or yield to the Lord.) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22). The Christian character is the fruit of the Spirit, not by mere moral discipline or trying to live by law.

Pstr. Joe Mauk did a very interesting TOP show. He says that the string represents our faith, the anchor (at the end of the string which he holds on his index finger) is Jesus Christ and the knot at the end that ties loose ends of the string is the Bible. We are the top and we cannot move unless there is a relationship between the top spinner (God) and the top (us). The top needs faith, Jesus Christ and Bible to link the spinner and the top.

He introduced us to his tops. There's Wobbly Wobber who can't be counted on because its center is round, so it spins all around the place. It's center is not on Jesus. There's also Pessimistic Pete who is a little top with a big complaint. Some people complain a lot when God works on them and shapes their lives so they can be stronger and more refined. There's also Strawberry who spins well and is led to heaven (through a magnet).

He also showed us a very small top made of Caury Tree.



What he thought was not important, became the model for his biggest top. Sometimes, he said, we may feel that we are a nobody, that we are not making a difference in this world, but if we allow our lives to be a model for God, God can make things come out from us. It doesn't matter how we look, where we come from, as long as we have faith, that's all that counts.


Time to pack-up and go home. Back to the real world where the mission is to be fulfilled and the learnings applied. Was the camp objective achieved? You bet!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Inhale and Exhale

Last night, I met up with my friends for fellowship, and my dear sister Lynette (who was dressed as a teacher, fit for the occasion) shared with us "Secrets to Bearing Fruits," a message she heard from a church camp earlier this month. It was a very interesting topic.

She said that it is possible for us to be filled with love, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness and self-control... only when we are born again. You might ask how can we be born again? Isn't it impossible for us to go back to our mother's womb? Don't worry, Nicodemus asked the same thing to Jesus himself in John 3. And Jesus answered ""I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

The Spirit, or the Holy Spirit, is one of the trinity that lives in us once we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He is the revealer of truth, our counselor, our comforter. He also empowers us to love, to have joy, peace and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit I've mentioned above. Sadly not all Christians feel that He's with them. Probably because they rarely experience the fruits of the Holy Spirit, like they can't control their anger, or they just don't feel the Holy Spirit, or they have no passion in bringing people to Christ, or they remain in their sad sinful state. The Holy Spirit empowers us to fight sin, He often reminds us God's word when we need it. So how come some people do not think that He exists?

1. Lack of Knowledge.
Sometimes we do not possess what we already own. The illustration shared with us was about a man who was very poor and was living under government subsidy. The only thing that he owns is a humble house on a land. Then one time there's this billionaire who leased his place and drilled the land, they discovered that his property was very rich in oil. Instead of relying on government subsidy, he could have been a millionaire since the oil was under his property. The Holy Spirit is already here and if we do not acknowledge Him then sadly, we cannot experience its fruits.

2. Lack of Faith.
More often, we do things based on our own capabilities, our own strengths that we left our Counselor, at the back seat. This usually leads to the opposite of the Holy Spirit's fruits: anger, frustration, bitterness, restlessness, lack of self-control, etc.

What should we do then?
INHALE and EXHALE.
When you INHALE ~ pray, acknowledge the Holy Spirit, submit to God's control. Let the fruits of the Holy Spirit fill you.
When you EXHALE ~ confess all the wrong thoughts, emotions and actions you've committed towards God or another person. Let go of anger, of self-reliance, of pride, of everything that hinders your relationship with God, and consequently, your growth. This is what we need to do also when we "prepare our hearts" to listen.

INHALE AND EXHALE daily dear readers. :)


East-Meets-West Dinner

Tonight, I prepared two dishes where East Meets West. (Remember Ming Tsai?) I got the first recipe from a very healthy, and I think already a fad, book entitled South Beach Diet. I made a Frittata (or Quiche), a classic French cuisine that embodies the structure of a pie and is generally made out of custard. That's for the 'West' part of the course. The 'East' on the other hand was an innovation of a classic Kebab dish. I used Salmon as the main meat. With all sorts of nutrients in it, including omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D, it's good for the family diet.

If you would like to make a healthy Quiche -to-go, try this Light Spinach Frittata recipe. You would need the ff:

1 tbsp extra virgin olice oil
1 small onion sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
* Cook all these recipes first on medium heat.

10 oz spinach
* Add the spinach and reduce to low heat.

2 large eggs
3 egg whites
1/3 cup fat free evaporated milk
* In a bowl, beat until light yellow frothy
* Mix in spinach mixture and cook for 5-7 minutes.

1/2 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese
* Sprinkle mixture with cheese
* Bake in oven 350 F, 5 - 10minutes

(This is how I write recipes by the way. I'm not sure if it's clear for everyone else, but this is just the way I prefer it, a wee bit differently organized.)


What I did was I baked the Frittata in cups instead of making it a one whole pie.
Before serving, you may also put tomato salsa on top to add some tangy taste.


For the Salmon Kebab, I first marinated the salmon in:
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
* Place salmon in mixture
* Grill.


1/2 zucchini sliced
2 tomatoes cubed
1 bell pepper cubed
* Brush with olive oil.
* Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
* Grill vegetables.
* Place grilled slices of tomatoes, red bell peppers and zucchinis on barbeque sticks interspersed with salmon.


Here's the final product.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ancient Management Secrets: REVEALED!

Calling all CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, headS of the household!



Sharing with you a little secret that may benefit you, your people, your work and everything that fits in between. This is an ancient management style that dates back to more than four thousand years ago and is still very applicable today.

Let's travel back in time when sheep were tended and kept for their milk, meat and wool. Agriculture sector was the highest contributor to the global GDP. Here are some valuable lessons on leadership from the shepherds themselves.

1. KNOW THE CONDITION OF YOUR FLOCK
Take time to get to know them, one sheep at a time. This can be done by engaging your people on a regular basis. Keep your eyes open and ears out and get among the people. Look how Jesus spent time with his disciples.

2. DISCOVER THE SHAPE OF YOUR SHEEP
Know their Strength, Heart, Attitude, Personality and Experiences. This allows each member of your team to work in an area where they can make a difference.


3. HELP YOUR SHEEP IDENTIFY WITH YOU
People, like sheep, have a powerful flocking instinct. Great leaders “instill a sense of meaning and belonging in their followers by putting the personal imprint of who they are and what they stand for on their people.” You my communicate the values and mission of your team.


4. MAKE YOUR PASTURE A SAFE PLACE
This is very interesting. According to the author, a sheep will not produce the best wool and gain the most weight unless the sheep gets the right nourishment. They will not rest unless they feel safe from harm, pests and rivalry. People on the other hand also become more productive if they are well-informed (rather than always anticipating danger of i.e. getting fired). Pests may come in the form of gossip or unnecessary memos. These may distract them from their daily routine. Rivalry may be controlled through regular rotation of people to fresh pastures, giving them assurance that all positions are important.


5. THE STAFF OF DIRECTION
Now I know why Shepherds need the staff! Since sheep have this herd mentality, they would generally follow the sheep in front of it. The shepherd can use the staff to nudge the lead sheep to the direction where the he wants the flock to go. The shepherd uses the staff, first and foremost, to set the direction. Secondly, the staff establishes boundaries. Sheep can only see up to 15 yards away, and so if they have turned to a wrong direction, the shepherd can nudge the sheep back to safety. This is a manner of leading through persuasion not coercion. Lastly, the staff is to get a sheep out of trouble. The curved end of the staff is used to grab the sheep out of the danger zone. Good leaders must not forget to encourage the bruised employee and let him feel the support.


6. THE ROD OF CORRECTION

The rod looks like a short club. At first, I thought it is a smaller and thicker version of a staff, but it’s not. It is actually a heavy weapon that when you toss can actually kill coyotes, wild dogs and foxes. A number of its uses include: to protect the flock from predators. As a leader, you must show that you are worthy of your members’ trust by dealing with the people from other department who may already be humiliating your member. You should take the heat or blow for the predator, and then just talk to your member privately afterwards. Second, the rod is used for disciplining. Discipline, or discipulus in Latin, means pupil. Disciplining is done not to punish or humiliate, but to teach. Third, the rod is used for inspection. It is used to count the sheep after leading the sheep back to a safe place at night. In leading humans, it symbolizes the ‘inspection’ of progress, through inquiring or even challenging them.

7. THE HEART OF THE SHEPHERD

Great leadership is very costly. I’m not sure if you are willing to pay the price for this type of leadership, but I believe you can, especially if you’ve read this far. The way of the shepherd requires time, commitment, your personal energy and involvement. It will cost a great deal of you. This is not a technique but an outlook. How much you give to your flock depends on how much you value them. Do you see them as ‘hirelings,’ - those who are just part of your expenses? Or are they people you care for?


The quality of your return is based on the quality of your investment. If you give them half-hearted leadership, then you gain half-hearted loyalty. But if you invest fully, you will get a fully committed earnest following. It’s your call. What kind of a leader do you want to be?

~ 0 ~

A lovely song written by King David about a Shepherd

PSALM 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, a]">[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.


Sources:

1. The Way of the Shepherd by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak
2. Bible

Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong Team live in Manila!



Finally, we were able to see Darlene Zschech (pronounced as 'check') - the voice behind "Shout to the Lord," "Worthy is the Lamb," and "Still," - live!

Woohoo! It was a night when our vocal chords, larynges, diaphragms were all utilized to the end limits as we sang praises and worship to our Lord! I can't explain the feeling of being able to worship in a jampacked hall of Araneta Coliseum! Imagine, the whole general admissions was filled, no space can be seen even at the back of the stage. It was indeed an amazing, exhilarating experience!

She sang a great variety of songs, both old and new. There were a number of Hillsong United tracks like "One Way" and "Take It All", "I Love You, Lord" popularized by Amy Grant and "How Great is Our God" of Chris Tomlin! It was worth it! (Could be better though if the lyrics were flashed on the TV monitors and sound system was clearer.)

Part 1
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
Run
One Way
No Reason To Hide
Inside Out
Hosanna
At The Cross / I Love You Lord
None But Jesus
I Will Exalt You
This Is Our God

Part 2
The Time Has Come
You’ll Come
His Glory Appears
You Hold Me Now
It’s Your Love
Agnus Dei
Mighty To Save
Take It All
Break Free
Tell The World
How Great Is Our God / Shout To The Lord


I was seated with these friends who entertained me with their voices and dance moves.

Although far from stage, we enjoyed the music and munched on the lyrics with great fervor. I particularly like these lines from one of her new songs:
"Chains be broken, lives be healed. Eyes be opened, Christ is revealed."


The main highlight of the show for me was when a Filipino speaker shared John 3:16. "For God so love the world (you), that He gave His one and only son (Jesus Christ to die on the cross and wash away our sins), whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (starting today!)." Although I've heard this line a thousand of times before (yes, I'm exaggerating but you get the point), I am still touched. I am reminded of how much God has loved me despite my brokenness. He even adopted me as His daughter (that's why I am technically a princess! You can be too!). I realized there is no message, no song that is more powerful than the gospel.

video

The concert ended with Darlene lifting her hands high up to heaven, pointing to our God who is the creator and the giver of music, who can move both hearts and mountains. I'm glad that at the end of it all, all the glory was given to God. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Proverb a Day Keeps the Demons Away!


One of my best friends introduced to me - a manner of studying the Bible, particularly the book of proverbs. This was also mentioned last Sunday at the pulpit.

If you take a look at the book of Proverbs, there are 31 chapters all in all. One chapter is good for one day assuming there are 31 days in a month. And if there are only 30 days (like in this month), then read two chapters in one particular day!

Proverbs for me is a comprehensive wisdom book. Every line expresses a hearty advice to people young and old, every chapter supplies insights to even the most humdrum episodes of life. I read somewhere that Proverbs is “probably the most down-to-earth book in the Bible.” It prepares you to be street-smart. It teaches you how to deal with your parents, your business, your wife, your children, and even your neighbors across the street.

Do you want to attain wisdom, discipline, knowledge, discretion, understanding and discernment? Then start reading Proverbs! Read with the right perspective by the way. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Prov 1:7). Even if you memorize all the verses verbatim and apply them every moment, without the fear of the Lord, they will be meaningless - a vapor in the wind, a wave tossed in the ocean.

Anyway, I would just like to share with you some verses that have stricken me the past days:

1. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” - Proverbs 1:8-9

This is the first advice written in the book. It taught me to seek my parents’ counsel and appreciate their teachings.

2. “Commit to the Lord whatever your do, and your plans will succeed.” - Proverbs 16:3

It’s okay for us to make plans, it’s good actually, especially if we want to do God’s mission for us effectively, efficiently and excellently.

3. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” - Proverbs 16:9

Interesting.

4. “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” - Proverbs 16:20

It does us well to be cautious in doing our tasks, but not to the point of becoming OC (Obsessive Compulsive), when we want to control everything that we forget that God’s still in control.

5. “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” - Proverbs 16:32

Ouch. :P

6. “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” - Proverbs 17:1

Exactly!

7. “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” - Poverbs 17:14

Colorful, clear and concise.

8. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” - Proverbs 18:10

A promise we can claim.

9. “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.” - Proverbs 18: 12

This happened to several kings in the past. Try reading 1 & 2 Kings.

10. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” - Proverbs 19:21

Amen to that!

~ 0 ~

These verses (and many more in the Bible) are very easy to memorize and re-chew (meditate) when temptations come and attack. Use these to combat the demon.

Tomorrow is April 21, try reading the 21st chapter. Enjoy and be wisdom-filled! :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Prayer AND Planning

Nearly 100 years had passed since the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from exile. Walls around the city were burnt and torn down. People intermarried with all kinds of foreigners and they were in danger of losing their identity. As I mentioned in my previous blog (Boring vs. Best), this could definitely affect their relationship with God.

God moved a heart of someone from the masses whose name was Nehemiah to rebuild the wall. This Nehemiah guy was very obedient, he mustered up the courage to talk to King Artaxerxes and asked "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so I can rebuild it (the wall that had been destroyed by fire)."


The king agreed to his terms. But before Nehemiah broadcasted it to the city officials, he first inspected the gates. He examined the wall, from the Valley Gate to the Jackal Well to the Dung Gate to the Fountain Gate to the King's Pool and back to the Valley Gate. During this time, he was already gathering information. This is the first step in the planning process or in any strategy formulation. Upon reading this, I realized that God is not really against us planning. Initially I thought planning would be like taking the pen from God and writing our own life story. But this is not really the case, especially if what we plan is ALIGNED to His Will and will ACKNOWLEDGE that God is the one who will see it through. Quoting Nehemiah when He was ridiculed by the Ammonites and Arabs "The God of heaven will give us SUCCESS. We his servant will start rebuilding.."



Recently, I made an operational plan for a venture and a marketing plan for an airline. It took me nights of painstaking research and days of braindraining analytical writing to finish the plans. It was tempting thought to say, "if this is God's will, then He will make it happen, whether I plan for it or not." But the Bible says it differently. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Your PLAN - our plan. When I committed them to the Lord after making the plan, saying “these plans are for you, hope they bring you glory. Not my will but Your Will be done.” There’s a different sense of peace that overflowed. Committing your plans to the Lord, and knowing that His plan (which if aligned, is the same with yours) will come to pass is strangely an invigorating feeling.


After planning, there comes execution. Nehemiah not only prayed for protection, BUT HE ALSO posted a guard day and night. He made sure that everyone had a weapon while working. He made sure that everyone would be ready to fight once a trumpet sounds. He told the people once enemies attack ‘remember the Lord AND fight’. He had a wonderful blend of prayer and action. At the end of the day, once the trumpet sounds and the people gather together and fight, it will not be the people, but “Our God will fight for us!” (Neh 4:20).


I’m amazed how God can MOVE hearts and USE people for grand missions. May we learn from Nehemiah the heart of obedience, courage and discipline to plan and execute for God’s great glory!



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Marketing Trivia

Some marketing trivia I learned awhile ago from a couple of books at the school library:

1. There are approximately 4 million bloggers in the world, 90% of them falls under 30 years old. 60% has not touched their blogsites for the past two months. I think blogsites have a rich pool of information for businessmen and marketers to study the lifestyle, attitudes, and interests of their target market.

2. REBEL AND SELL. It is rebellion and not conformity, that derives desires in the market place as we seek to differentiate ourselves from others (Heath and Potter). This links us to number 3.

3. Subcultures emerge when a number of people interact with one another and innovate new forms of practice or different ways of doing, living and being. It has a degree of difference from mainstream culture. I had this sudden burst of idea awhile ago. For clothing stores that target Middle Aged, they can make their presence felt and soon imprinted in the lifestyle of the subculture of the middle aged.

Since middle aged women (esp housewives) experience the empty nest syndrome, they usually take up classes and socialize with other mothers. These stores can bank on the hobbies of these women, like ballroom dancing. They can have a sales promo where winners may have free ballroom dancing classes together, they can offer outfits for such occasions as well.

4. Marketers are not the sole source for the meanings that surround a brand. Successful brands establish right culture inside the corporation. The strategic vision, stakeholder image and organizational culture must be aligned. Strategic vision is the responsibility of the top management, whereas the organizational culture transcends from the CEO to the security guard at the building entrance.

Starbucks treat their employees with utmost dignity. They refer to them as 'partners' and provide them better health benefits than the competitor. Another company has Monday morning meetings which they call "Communal Stretching Exercises" where people across different departments share their stories in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

5. Consumers no longer seek just functional benefits from products and services, they seek meanings that help them construct and maintain their identities. Many times brands allow consumers to make a social statement, about who they are and who they want to be. A well known example is Anita Roddick's Bodyshop. Bodyshop is known for their care for the environment.

Another brilliant example is Ben and Jerry's. Would you believe that even ice-cream can have a social conscience? They established a campaign called the Lick Global Warming -"a fantastic way for people to learn how to reduce their own CO2 emissions and to pressure Congress to take action against global warming." They've also taken necessary steps in lessening carbon emmissions of their freezers and on their ice-cream making process.

6. Marketers need to spend effort to co-create brand experiences with consumer. In simpler terms, a brand should try to get close to its customers. Ben and Jerry's asks suggestions for their new flavor, as well as (negative) reactions on their existing product line. Salomon, a jet ski manufacturer, go where the crowd goes and let them try their jetski for free! This is what my prof termed "Tryvertising."

7. Iconic brands are responds to cultural tensions in the sociocultural environment effectively. David Beckham for example is a fashion icon that shows his humanity (as a dad) and feminine side (frequent hairstyle changes, sarong). He "carved a path between perceived sissiness of the feminine and widespread disapproval of brutish masculine." How about you? Can you think of other iconic brands?

8. Make sure your customers are pleased. They would not only come back for more, but they would gladly advertise your brand through word of mouth. It is also cheaper to gain loyal customers than to gain trial from consumers loyal to a competing brand.

~ 0 ~

Friday, April 16, 2010

Boring vs. Best

My quiet time today brought me back to the ancient Babylonian days, when Ezra (a high priest) and his troupe marched back to Judah. He stated that one big reason of Israel's fall was because the leaders themselves married people from other nations (Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, etc) and they were led to worship other gods and follow the practices of other cultures. You may say "No problem, they did it for the sake of love," or you could say "If I were in their shoes, I won't falter. I won't let a marriage affect my beliefs." But, how about your children? And the sons of your sons?

One way of looking at it is that God is selfish. He wants us to marry or be 'in a relationship' only with people that also worship Him. He has left us with no other choice but a limited pool of boring fish in the sea. Honestly, this is not the most refreshing perspective in the world.

Another way, is to see that God only wants the best for you. You see there are so many people in the world, but only one that you can best settle with. And since God was the one who created you, and He created all the other human beings as well, He knows who to match you best with. He knows your temperaments, your quirkiness, your past, your health, details about your family, everything. And if you allow Him to lead you, even in your love life, He will definitely lead you to someone who will not only worship and love Him, but will also love you very much. Because God will love you through him (or her). He will also express His love for your partner through you!

Let me share with you one of my favorite songs:

video

Thursday, April 15, 2010

For the Strong

To the strong-willed, unemotional people:

Watch this.


I first saw this vid two years ago, and I tell you, it's one of the few that has captured my heart and soul, and made me teary-eyed. Take note, this liquid by-product is a rare commodity of yours truly. I wonder if this would have the same effect on you. (Let me know.) :)

Before clicking on the triangle or "play", make sure that the volume of your speaker is set to loud (don't worry, this is NOT scary) and turn off any other distraction. The key here is to FOCUS.

Okay, you may now sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

video

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Morning Routine

Two days ago, I woke up feeling drained and tired, down and out. I wondered how the eight hours of sleep depleted my energies. Anyhoo, I did my usual morning routine. And this routine turned my day around. :)


This particular routine was integrated in my life after I exercised one afternoon three years ago. I was jogging on a treadmill. There in from of me was a TV screen playing a documentary about Moses. Of all the channels in the world, I never thought I would be interested to watch such a nerdy show. So anyway the host was saying that during Moses’ time, the Israelites were merely relying on manna from heaven for their daily bread. The manna didn’t come at night. They rained down in the mornings. For 40 years, the Israelites had to wake up early, gather food good enough for the day, and prepare for work after. Too bad if you were a ‘night' person, huh?


I realized that although we do not need to gather manna at the present era since everything is conveniently distributed or networked (with all the 7/11, ministop, SMs in the world), we still have to allot a manna-gathering time. And you know what kind of manna? Spiritual manna. Spiritual food. Sometimes spiritual manna can be more powerful than 40days worth of food combined.


Back to the story. That morning, I read the book of Ezra. It is right after the books of the Kings and the Chronicles where kings have led Israelites to worship idols. The last Chronicle ended tragically. Babylon captured the king and everyone was taken into exile. No one was left in the supposedly ‘promise land.’ But then in the book of Ezra, God moved the heart of a Persian King. This king helped bring the people back to Israel and rebuild God’s temple.


I realized no matter how sinful, how broken or how far we’ve gone, He can lead us back to the promise land. Sometimes all it takes is for God to “move a heart.” Trust that God works His way, His time. What a wonderful trait my Father has. :)


After reading, I looked out the window, inhaled some fresh air, and thanked God that He is the same before, today and forever. If He was faithful before, He is still faithful today.

Let’s sing along with the people in Ezra 3: "He is good; His love to Israel endures forever."


video

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fri Crew at Tali Beach

Once upon a time, in a nearby land (of New Manila) under the blazing heat of the sun, fourteen young (and young at heart) adults met for a joy ride to a beach 3.5 hours away. This group of people, eager in their beachwear took some pictures...

before the ride...



and also during the ride when laughter filled the car. From the talks about the four temperaments, some friendly debates between the phlegmatics and cholerics with Jen as our tie breaker, to Kim and my corny jokes and Eric and David's dry humor, the 3.5hr ride was all worth it.



We passed by a very bumpy road. I guess it lived up to its name - "Pebble Road." :P



Here's a glimpse of the girls' kitchen. We arrived just in time for lunch! :)



After lunch, we had some team building activities. The sequence of the games is as follows: first was to get an "impression" (usually the first impression), then to "get to know" and to continue building the relationship through "trust." A few moments later, we all hit the beach!



Time went by fast, little did we know it was sunset hour already, and dinner was about to be cooked...

and served.

After a sumptuous meal of Ahya Eric's porkchop (using Kim's marination) and Spaghetti, we had a short and sweet devotion on this passage: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:25. This is also the theme verse of the Ortigas Cell Groups.

Then we played an "ice breaker" game where in everyone had to list 7 questions and 1 dare on small sheets of papers, fold them and place them in a pot. As the pot is being passed around, each person has to get a piece, read the question and answer honestly / do the dare.

The first day was wrapped up when the group was divided into pairs and each pair prayed for and encouraged one another.

On day two, I fought with the bacon. I had difficulty controlling the heat (as I tried making the bacon crispy while avoiding unecessary splattering). So my two assistant chefs were there for support.


Here's our smiling breakfast: bacon, hotdog, corned beef, garlic rice, and tomatoes with salted egg.


We had another round of the ice-breaker game. Plenty of interesting questions. We have to answer the rest of the unopened questions one of these days!

I realized in building relationships, it is not in the number of activities or experiences that people have in common, nor is it in the number of times they meet (although both may play a factor). It is more in the depth of conversations, the sincere care and the unselfish giving. One very important factor in friendship is HUMILITY. To be humble enough to show one's weaknesses, humble enough to accept help from others, humble enough to think more of others.

Sharing with you a text message I got from Pastor Don:
Humility is not thinking LESS of myself; it is thinking MORE of others.
Humility is not putting MYSELF down; it is lifting GOD up.
Humility is not denying my STRENGTHS; it is being openly HONEST about my WEAKNESSES.
Humility is seeing that without CHRIST I can do nothing, but in Christ, I can do ALL things!


It was indeed an enjoyable fellowship trip with some of my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Looking forward to our meeting together on Friday! Till the Day approaches, then we'll live happily ever after with our Father, the King. :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Su Zhou Dimsum

When a friend of mine saw this image in my digicam she suggested I blog about it. So here goes. :)



This is a Xiaolongbao, a type of Chinese dumpling that looks like a mini Siopao. Xiaolongbao is a soup dumpling that originated from Eastern China. The best Xiaolongbao I've tasted in the Philippines (so far) is located at Mabini St. Manila. If you happen to pass by the Malate area on your way to work or to some recreational activities, this small store might be a familar sight.



Su Zhou Dimsum offers the classic taste and ambience of a Chinese fastfood. Once you enter the store, you'd see a Chinese chef behind a clear glass tossing noodles and another chef rushly chopping meat and veggies, probably for their rice meals and other viands. On the sides of the store are mouth watering photos posted on the walls and with their respective prices.

My personal favorites include the following:
1. Cold Noodles
This is unlike any other. It's served cold, with a savory brown sauce and 'adobo' egg.

2. Shallot Spareribs Noodles
Served hot this time, the fried noodles are served with spareribs and kiamchai. It's the one at the bottom right of the photo below.



3. Xiaolongbao of course!
Someone once taught me that there's a right way to eat this specialty. First you need to place the dumpling on your soup spoon using your chopsticks. Be careful not to cause a tear on the skin. Second, take a small bite. Third, sip all the soup inside the bag. Fourth, dip it on their dumpling sauce. Then eat! :)

Chinese fastfoods are not known to be cozy, which means Su Zhou Dimsum is not the ideal venue for dates and bondings. But it's definitely a great choice, if your taste buds are craving for some authentic Chinese foods. If you live far from Manila there's another Suzhou along Retiro st. and at Greenhills Promenade. I still prefer the one in Manila, where it all started.