Friday, September 24, 2010

A Friend Through Thick and Thin

What would you rather have: a severed (best)friendship, a mother who just died, a harshly tarnished reputation (think of being caught in a scandal), an estranged father, a broken heart, or a lost cellphone? Most of you would probably choose the last one. That’s what I’d choose. Well guess what guys? (Sarcastic tone) I think that's what I got! My curiosity didn’t rise from nothing. They came from the accumulated burdens my close friends are carrying. You see, they are currently grieving over the different options in this multiple choice test.

Being their friend, I admit that I don't always have the right words to say. I've said some wrong things in the past that was intended for good, but then those words supposedly of comfort felt like rubbing alcohol on their cuts. Probably you are also trying to think of ways to comfort a friend, let me tell you some no-nos I learned through time:

1. Refrain from saying "It's okay" or "Okay lang yan." In highschool, a friend made me realized that I was an "It's okay" girl. She felt that I was discarding her burdens and not listening to her. If it is "okay" then she wouldn't be grieving over the problem, would she? There is a time of grieving, a time of healing and a time of learning. You probably have a good intention of assuring a friend that everything will be alright, but at the point when the sore is fresh and hurtful, your "It's okay" may make her feel that you don't understand her. (Because it's really not okay!) You may also pressure her to be okay when she's not yet ready to be okay.

2. Avoid giving unsolicited advice. Sometimes when you think you know the whole picture of a friend's problem, it itches you to tell a friend how to solve it. "It's easy as one, two, three.." you may say. Sometimes doing so will just push her back to her shell. For example, you have a friend who is not in good terms with her boss. Her boss stresses her out (more than anybody else in the office). Then you tell her, "Go quit your job." Chances are this lady has already thought of this, weighed her options, and she still decided to stay. More chances are, she'd not open up to you anymore. Because you didn't listen. You cared more about solving her problem, than her (the person). She needed someone to listen to her and understand her, not a seemingly "know-it-all" friend that disrupted her sharing with a bright solution.

3. Don't take the problem lightly. "Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart" (Prov. 25:20). I've a highly sanguine friend who enjoys making people laugh. When I had a relationship problem, he tried to distract me and make me laugh, but he failed. What I felt instead was that he did not take me seriously. If you want to become a friend "through thick and thin" then better be serious, no matter how awkward, when the circumstance calls for it.

Here are some yes-yes. (According to Isagani Cruz, it's better to write positively.)

1. Empathize. This is one very difficult word to explain and apply. Simply put, empathizing is putting yourself in the other persons' shoes. Feeling what they are feeling, thinking what they are thinking. Empathizing allows you to understand the person and see what he currently needs. Empathize and let them know you understand.

2. Journey with them. We walk with them and help pull them up when they stumble. We don't just tell them "Go, get up!" We walk silently when they want silence. We allow them rest. We tell them what to do when they ask for an advice. We give both ears when they want to unload their heavy burden. We give them our shoulders when they feel like crying. This is different from the process of advice giving where we tell them what to do and have them deal with it on their own. Journey with them and let them know that you care.

3. Ask questions. Not the prying ones. Asking can not only lead to the solution, but it also shows that you are interested. Ask to know what happened. Ask what they are currently thinking and feeling. Ask what's making them think or feel that way. Ask what solutions they have already thought of. (But of course, don't cut their sharing by asking too many questions.) Ask and let them know that you are interested.

4. Pray. Pray for wisdom to know how to help your friends. Pray for love to share to them who are in grief. It may also help if you pray WITH them. Put God at the center of the picture. Pray and let God do the work.

Hope this entry helps! If you would like to impart your God-given wisdom, feel free to comment. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the Way Home

I couldn't sleep last night. My mind was racing with words and ideas, writers and poets. Probably it was the black coffee I sipped earlier in the evening. (Take note, evening. I usually forget that coffee keeps me awake till the wee hours every time I take it after 4pm.) Or perhaps it was who prepared the coffee. You see, I'm no poet. But last night, of all the things to do in the world (i.e. clean my room, reorganize my disorganized cabinets, read the new books I got from the book fair), I decided to grab a sketch pad and a pencil, and write a poem at 1:30 in the morning.

Here goes. (Bear with me, I'm no Shakespeare or Bishop.)

On the Way Home
by Mitzi Joyce Uy

I enjoy the walk
through pages of a book,
curl up cozy
in a nook.

Everyday I swim
in vast open waters
God has created
to fill my thirst.

I love to hop
on fields of ideas
that come to life
when God says -- "Yes."

I long to run
and finish the race
so I may
see Jesus' face!

While in this adventure
I glide and stride
joyful and content
by my Father's side. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Bowl of Business Wisdom

Yesterday, I got to meet a blessing in the shape of a lady named Ate Melinda* ("Ate" means older sister in Filipino). She is a tanned woman in plain polo blouse and jeans who doesn't wear make-up and frilly accessories. Who would have known that this simple lady with a signature smile and gregarious laughter is currently a successful businesswoman with 3 growing businesses in her hands. Let me tell you her story.

Ate Melinda came from a humbling background. She grew up in the province and studied in a public school. After college, she worked as a sales agent selling Puma shoes to retailers in Visayas and Mindanao. In the next two decades, she traveled here and there to distribute some shoes and slippers. Today, she has become the leading distributor of Planet footwear and many other products in the Vismin area.

She told me about a dream she had before. She was swimming in the Dead Sea, at the border of Jordan where she had never been to in real life. The sea was surprisingly alive. Its current took her from place to place. When she woke up, she realized that the water signified God's blessings. If she goes with the flow, God would continually let the blessings flow through her. But if she keeps it to herself, it would become like the dead sea, dead in its basin. She then realized that her businesses are not really for her own gain. They are gifts from God that have to be shared to other people.

It was one of the stories in her bowl of wisdom she shared to me over dinner. In between series of laughter, she handed me more spoonfuls of her experiences that led to where she is today.

1. Every new day is a blessing. Be a blessing everyday.
I wonder how she sees each day as her last. But she does. Every time she wakes up, she thanks God for the new day ("Wow! I'm still alive!" she exclaims with eyes wide open, almost popping out) and prays that she will be a good witness to friends, acquaintances and even strangers throughout the day.

Just recently, she went to a shoe store that didn't carry her brand. She brought some tourists with her. While her friends were looking around, she decided to talk to a sales lady. It was almost evening when they went in, she asked the sales lady, "How's sales so far?" The girl replied, "Not so good. No sales yet." Oh my, it's already late and still got no sales? Ate Melinda thought. When she saw a customer trying out a pair, she told her, "That really looks good on you!" ("well it really looked good on her" she told me as she continued on with the story). The girl bought two pairs after.

2. Pray for your business everyday.
When she went to a special gathering with various owners of clothing apparel, footwear and big-time malls, she was asked, "What's your trade secret? Planet has become the top-selling slippers in the area!" Without thinking twice, she said, "I just pray for them when I visit the stores." ("pina-pray over ko sila kapag nasa store ako" in verbatim). She didn't think it was her or her boss's competency to be praised. It was solely through God's grace.

This is also what the group of friends who incorporated the famous clothing line, Penshoppe, is doing. They pray together (or even when apart) with their employees every eight in the morning.

3. Value every relationship.
She does not see her business as just business. For her, every meeting she goes to is an opportunity to know people and build relationships. She tries to be the ray of sunshine that exudes joy in the meeting room. That's why, I think it's easy for people to buy her products. She almost always leaves a smile on people's faces, be it after a long or short, a personal or professional, talk.

Probably unlike other business owners who merely establish relationships with other owners, what she does is she talks to the purchasers, and even down to the sales ladies. They are all important to her. The owners may be the ones ordering the products, but the purchasers know the trends of the market more, while the sales ladies are the front liners that can can move the products directly to the end consumers.

4. Be humble and available to help.
One time, a shoemaker friend of hers asked for a favor, "Mel, can you please introduce me to the big retailers in Vismin? I hope to sell my shoes there." She said, "Okay, first, make a company name." The guy responded, "Okay, okay, what about Saint Michaels?" When they got to set a meeting with the retailers, she took the position of an agent (rather than a business owner) and told them "I would like you to meet a boss, the president and CEO of Saint Michaels company." I found it interesting that she was willing to put herself down to push others up. It's the exact opposite of the crab mentality that we often see here in the country.

In another time, a different supplier friend confided to her, "Mel, it's so difficult to get in this big mall. What shall I do?" She showed her friend's products to the mall owner and they got in. She did it not expecting anything in return. After a few months, the friend called her up thanking her because sales was huge. In return, he gave her a surprise cash gift.

5. No matter how small or large your work is, work excellently and faithfully.
God will enlarge it bit by bit.

6. God's grace covers you.
Work may be required as God's punishment for Adam's sin. But work can also be a gift that brings joy, that is if we follow the passion God has embedded in our hearts and if we use God's gifts to bless others. This may not only be in financial means, it may be through teaching, writing, encouraging, speaking, painting, singing. If we have God's grace, most often than not, God has planned for all the details already. We'd be surprised to see that tasks are easier because uncontrollable details have already fallen into place.

7. No matter how much you have, only Jesus can sustain you.
When a friend asked her to help him expand his cooking business, her first question was, "Do you have Jesus Christ in your life?" Jesus was the one who gave her the purpose, the contentment and the joy in what she's doing. People without Jesus will tend to aspire for more and more, this is the bondage of greed. There's no happiness. In her case, she can even testify that God has "thrown open the floodgates of heaven and poured out so much blessing that she does not have room enough for it."

I pray that you and I may also become a walking blessing. Let's make His river flow to all corners and cracks of the earth!

*Name replaced.

Plagues that kill the church: (4) Amputated Leg

I wonder why we "fight and flight". If you don't understand my question, go back to your teen years and unearth a memory when you got into a fight with your mom and dad. It was probably during the time when you fell in love with someone they were totally against of, or when you felt they were controlling your time 24/7. Or perhaps the time when you had an intellectual discourse with a church mate that resulted to a heated argument. You said some harsh words and partnered them with a thud and a bang. However, when you realized it was leading you nowhere, you decided to give up and keep your mouth shut, or worse, you ran away. You escaped.

Fighting and flighting are but natural to survive. Sometimes when faced with a frightening and stronger creature, we cover up our weakness with anger and aggression. We can't bear to lose because doing so, we might be stripped off of power and control, we might be stepped on and eaten up. We don't want to become the weakling who is the last to get food and the first to die. We want to be better than the rest that's why we show we are much stronger than who we really are.

Other times, when we feel like we're about to be attacked, we escape. We can't bear the feeling of being treated like a nobody, a loser or worst of all, a sinner. We can't let a sister know about our weak spot. She might just mock us because of the sinful habits we dare not confess. Before anyone gets an inkling of our impure relationships, our lustful thoughts, or wrongful motives, we leave the church and hide our little secret.

The fight and flight movement may be normal in the concept of "survival of the fittest" but it is not part of how God intended the church to be. In God's design the church has no big or small creature, no Americans, no Filipinos, no Baptists, no Reformed. It's just one big body. We do not really "coexist." We are brothers and sisters called through the blood of Christ to be ONE. In Ephesians 4, Paul says that we are part of "one body, one spirit, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father of all."

Being part of one body, an eye would not pick a fight with another eye and say, "Hey, I have a better vision than you. I don't need you at all. What you see are all nonsense. Bleh!" Nor a hand would say to the other, "I have all the jewelries and you're the one doing all the work. Ha!" We do not coexist to fight, intimidate or compete with one another.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it would also be meaningless to escape. We are not created to live independently. If you were a leg, the only way you'd be separated from the Body of Christ is when you get amputated. If you deliberately cut yourself from being part of and being used by the body. Probably because you want to become your own body, you want to be your own leg. You think you can hop the race of life without the eyes to see the humps, mind to help discern the path, nourishment from the body. Just be careful, it might lead you to a different finish line. Death.

Thinking about it, fighting and flighting have one thing in common: they are divisive. They aim to cut something out, or be cut off. They cultivate, preserve or exalt the self. This is actually the basic definition of pride. And this plague kills the church.

Pride is "the summit of self-love" that is quite dangerous if we let it grow in our system. It blinds our understanding, and unless something finally makes us realize the truth, we are liable to go on, day after day, in a spiritual self-delusion, imagining our acts to be good that we have no room for change or growth. With pride, we forget that we need each and every ( not some, not most, not only the mature) member of the body to survive. We are brought together to work for a common mission.

Paul describes the members of the body in Ephesians 5 this way, "no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body." I remember when I had a toothache a few weeks ago, majority of my time was devoted to thinking and praying for my rebelling tooth. I didn't want to have it taken out. I'd rather experience moments of agony and chastening to keep it. Likewise in the body, we should also devote our time to pray for and to help the weak, the sinful, the rebellious and the painful people. We have to "bear with one another," to support and empathize the aching tooth, to rest a while for the weary feet, to encourage and beautify the wrinkled eye.

It is really tempting to fight against our nagging mom or flee from the nosy church. Sinners that we are, it is easier to love ourselves than love other people. Only when we kill our pride or deny our own self, will we be able to unite with the rest of the body and live out Christ's (not ours, but Christ's) purpose.

God bless family!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Plagues that kill the church: (3) Customer Satisfaction

I think I'm guilty of this next plague. Being the Sanguine that I am, pleasing people comes naturally. I'm sure many of you who happen to have this trait enjoy it a lot. You find yourselves liked in different crowds. You could be with your "in" Barbie friends during the Saturday night gimmicks clubbing the night away while criticizing the fat lady in black tights or gossiping about your other friends who weren't there. Then you go to church the next day with your pious mask. You're okay with it, you see it as being flexible. You are happy because you have plenty of friends. But, the question is, do you still know who you are? Or are you a shadow that fits whatever image your friends would like you to have? Is the real YOU still standing? Or, have you already killed YOUR-once-upon-a-time-SELF?

The 'strength' of being able to alter attitudes and behaviors satisfying certain groups comes with one big disadvantage. (I testify to that.)It covers you with layers of masks that buries the truth within the depths of your soul. The reality is locked. The real you is buried and forgotten.

Churches have a tendency to please people as well. We are like businesses that aspire to win the most number of loyal customers possible. We follow the success principles of the top multinational corporations. We implement new training methods, new programs, new songs and even new bible lessons as time passes by. We create fancy looking sanctuaries with concert-like halls to make the "shop" interesting for walk-in customers.

The atmosphere of some Sunday worship services has evolved as a place for people to enjoy, to have fun, not to be convicted nor corrected. We want them to come back and so we "encourage" them by keeping a blind eye on their sins & struggles as we welcome them with a smile every week. We'd rather not tell them the painful truth. Maybe they're too sick that they need to repent or too fat that they lack spiritual discipline. No need to point out the obvious because they might just get angry and boycott our company. We know that they deserve to hear about Jesus dying on the cross not because of what we did but because of His mercy. But we rather not, because they've heard it already. It could be the same ol', boring story for them. We cannot bore them. That's the golden rule.

Sometimes it's still inevitable for people to leave the church. What we automatically do is to think of more creative ways to bring them back. Altering the program is usually the solution! We have man-made programs (i.e. games, songs) that guarantee much customer satisfaction. We even give free food when they try out our services.

Doing so, we bury the truth. We kill the main purpose and identity of the church. We use "fun activities await you" to attract new faces. It's not that I'm against these activities, in fact I myself am involved in program planning. I've organized group dynamics, icebreakers, and the like. However, I found two dangers to it. One, we may experience burn-out (in ministries) if we focus too much on activities making us become "tasky." My sister coined this word to mean (adj.): task-oriented individual involved in actions that are not essential in building the body of Christ. Second, there is great danger if we highlight fun gimmicks more than God's truth, if we preach only what the people want to hear. Hardly will there be any growth. What spurs growth in me is when someone who cares enough for me walks an extra mile to rebuke me (risking humiliation and discomfort), to tell me the truth and point me to the correct path. If someone did the same to you, be thankful. He may not be treating you as a customer who "is always right," but he longs to support you and keep you rooted in God's Word. Cherish him, that brother is priceless.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

- 2 Timothy 4:3

If churches choose to stop spoiling "customers," this may happen:

Ten little Christians standing in a line,
One disliked the pastor, then there were nine.

Nine little Christians stayed up very late,
One slept in on Sunday, then there were eight.

Eight little Christians on their way to heaven,
One took the low road, then there were seven.

Seven little Christians chirping like chicks,
One disliked the music, then there were six.

Six little Christians seemed very much alive,
But one lost his interest, then there were five.

Five little Christians pulling for Heaven’s shore,
But one stopped to rest, then there were four.

Four little Christians, each busy as a bee,
One got her feelings hurt, then there were three.

Three little Christians knew what to do,
One joined the sports crowd, then there were two.

Two little Christians, our rhyme is nearly done,
Differed with each other, then there was one.

One little Christian can’t do much ’tis true;
Brought his friend to Bible study, then there were two.

Two earnest Christians, each won one more,
That doubled their number, then there were four.

Four sincere Christians worked early and late,
Each won another, then there were eight.

Eight little Christians, if they doubled as before,
In just a few short weeks, we’d have 1,024.

In this little jingle, there’s a lesson true,
You belong to the building, or the wrecking crew.

Source: Ten Little Christians poem from

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plagues that kill the church: (2) Deep Dark Secrets

While I was enjoying my time in a mall last Saturday, I walked inside a bookstore and browsed through some titles. On a rack near the kids' section was a very interesting comic book entitled "What to Do After a Break-Up." Although it did not apply to me, my detective eyes told my indecisive hands to just grab it and check it out. And so I did. I wasn't able to identify the "to do's," but rather I saw a crazy horrid act that I would never want done to me. There was this slumber party where girls would hangout, bond, do each other's hair, talk about boys, etc. Then one girl went to the bathroom for a while, not knowing that she left her diary lying on her bedside table inviting a couple of unwanted detective eyes. Her so-called friend lifted the book open and discovered her ultimate secret. This "friend" photocopied the pages of her diary and posted them on every wall of their school.

It does not matter what the secret of this girl was. All of us have our own deep dark secrets. They may involve a secret sin, a disturbing habit, a funny physical attribute, a dirty past or even a friend, a relative or a partner you are ashamed of having. At the end of the day, we want to be the ones to tell these secrets to people we trust. We don't want our secrets exposed, rather we want them disclosed. But if we are truly honest with ourselves we know that we still have secrets that we have not told anyone and perhaps we have no plans of telling anyone. After all, secrets are not meant to be told. That's what we've been taught while we were still in kindergarten.

You may be going to church every Sunday. You may also be active in church ministries, or be the one leading them. And you have a secret. You don't want anybody to find out because they might just judge you for who you are. You might lose their respect. You are afraid that they'd laugh at you or kick you out. You are ashamed.

I'm not sure if you have a girlfriend that you know your trusted brothers in Christ won't approve of. At night, while everyone is sleeping, you lock your bedroom door, turn off the lights and watch porn online. You secretly despise a friend. You stick a couple of fingers in your throat for you to vomit all the fatty foods you had for dinner. You are smoking when no one's looking. You are struggling with lust over the same-sex. You are an orphan. You were abused. You hurt yourself. You are broken-hearted. You are weak.

Secrets are secrets because they are not something you can brag about. They are usually packaged in a combo of four: a sinful gratification, fear of truth, fear of rejection and shame. They may also come in one's, two's or three's. Believe it or not, a secret is an unnecessary burden and trap. As a burden, it lies heavily in your heart. Sometimes you wish to tell it to someone, to "divide the pain", but you just can't. You can't bear the shame. There are also actions & words you have to consciously avoid, things you always have to keep hidden making it a trap.

What to do, what to do. There’s actually something better than writing in a diary. As members of the body of Christ, each of us has to firstly own our shameful identity, accept who we really are and acknowledge that we need help from Jesus Christ! Only through Him will we be fully transformed. Through His death on the cross, He suffered the shame which was supposed to be our shame. He exchanged His righteousness for our sins.

Don’t be afraid to take off your holier-than-thou mask and admit that you are silently struggling with sin. It is dangerous to bear it alone. You may fall apart with no one noticing. That’s why God has blessed you with a community filled with brothers and sisters who are willing to encourage you in your journey (hopefully they are not hit by plague #1). More than a team running a race together for the Lord, God has given you a family. I urge you to share your REAL burdens, establish REAL relationships, fervently pray for REAL struggles and have REAL heartfelt prayers lifted up to the Lord. Then you will experience REAL healing and enjoy REAL fellowship.

Should you choose to continue living the lie, you will find yourself singing this song:

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

~ Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns

Monday, September 6, 2010

Plagues that kill the church: (1) Legalism

Once upon a time , there was a young robust teenage boy attending a Youth Fellowship. He was the most annoying kid you could ever imagine. Wherever he was, he would bang the door, the tables, the chairs, he would make all sorts of commotion. When he spoke, not only was he loud but his breath was also very stinky. Because of all these, he did not have much friends. Every time he entered the door, all the others would exit through the other door.

The speaker of last Sunday's service was one of the youth who avoided this boy. He said, one time, this young fellow was hospitalized. And out of the "goodness of his heart" (which our speaker wanted to show his girlfriend before), he visited this sick boy. Little did he know that this boy told his girlfriend some lies. He said that he had one week left to live and all that. Because the girl was filled with compassion, he held the hand of the guy, and our (young then) speaker was silently enraged.

Surprisingly after one week, the boy indeed died. According to the doctor, he had brain cancer. The boy didn't tell anyone about it. It just so happened, when he was younger, a high fever had stricken him and affected his brain. When imbalances attacked, he would act wild and hit whatever he sees. His parents (who were nonbelievers) treated him as a hopeless case. They had learned to ignore him. I guess that was why he attended the fellowship every week. He thought he'd be able to make friends in the church, unfortunately he wasn't given a chance by the people inside.

In another church, there was a young man with long braided hair in a bohemian rugged outfit that sat near the pulpit. It was his first time to attend a Sunday service. He didn't know anyone so he was left seated alone. Some of the veterans in the church looked at him with contempt as he smoked a stick of cigarette. Murmurs could be heard within the four corners of the temple. Then suddenly, the oldest person in the congregation, about 92 years of age, slowly walked towards him, one step at a time holding his crane, he sat beside him and placed his arm around him.

The following week, this young man brought 13 of his friends, and the week after he brought 40. This man later on became a pastor.

It's odd how sometimes the church itself becomes a place that condemns, that judges, that shuns, instead of one that is a channel of grace. Instead of attracting sinners, we welcome them with curious gaze and judgmental stares. Instead of sitting with the tax collector (worst of sinners in Jesus' time), we sit at the opposite end afraid of being mocked at by our supposedly brothers and sisters in Christ. The question now is...

Are you willing to be like the 92 year old man who welcomed the smoker in the church? Or are you there staring, harboring a thought like, "Who does he think he is desecrating our sanctuary!?" If you answered yes to the second, woe to you for being a plague in the church. People won't stay if they don't feel the love of Jesus through you. I hope that you would have more compassion. It is compassion that makes a church attractive; it is through kindness that hearts are moved. I'm not saying that, he should go on with his smoking. Truth must still be told to him, if and only if, there is love through an established relationship.

Truth that is told in love is done out of grace, this builds the church.
Truth told without love is legalism, this kills the church.

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but siting in judgment on it.
~ James 3:11

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Creative Filipinos, Huh?

Filipinos I think are the most creative people in the world. They have painted jeepneys showing babies or cartoons that color the roads of the city. There are also the manongs and manangs who sell cellphone chargers, chicharon (pig skin), corn on a cub, buko juice in the streets. I guess they have analyzed the markets that pass by their area of responsibility, checked out their needs and creatively matched these with the little means that they have.

The beggars have also innovated. Most of them are not knocking at your side windows anymore. Some of them are now your car cleaners who approach you at the stop light and wipe your windshield with an odd yellow color liquid. Another group of youth would entertain you with a song and dance number before the light turns green. Then just today, I saw another innovation! A kid about 10 years of age climbed onto a jeepney and wiped (or shined) the shoes of the passengers on board.

Even robbers have found new ways of stealing. I heard from the news this afternoon that there were two boarders who rented a room at the second floor of a building. They were living directly above a pawnshop. What they did was they had sawn off the floor right under their toes while playing loud music and grabbed five million worth of cash and goods from the pawnshop below.

I'm writing this blog not to condemn the Philippines. I love the Philippines. I actually admire our creativity. A great number of our artists are leading in the New York fashion scene, singing with other internationally acclaimed celebrities and writing for the whole world to see.

Sadly, many use their gifts for the wrong reasons, for selfish, sinful and other pathetic reasons. Their decisions depend mainly on short-term happiness. They have the five million peso now to buy foods, clothing, gadgets. They can run, they can hide but they cannot get away from God's eyes. They can't see that in the distant future they will be stripped off of everything and they will be severely punished (both on earth and in hell).

What we can do instead is to use our creativity in ways that can solve the problems in the society. I know this sounds boring. But there are plenty of businesses or organizations that have risen out of the small seed of a noble cause. Efren Penaflorida, the CNN Hero of the Year has shown us a great example. He pushed his adorable cart full of books and toys to teach children in the streets. Many of them cannot even buy three nutritional meals a day, much less shoes, books and bags. They were his target market and he was blessed with loads of support. There is also the silent sisters who create bags out of recyclable plastic bags to help lessen land pollution. Believe it or not, they are also making money out of it!

Now that the country is suffering from a great disgrace (in the whole world's eyes), plagues (dengue and sore-eyes), calamities and all the other compounded problems (lack of education, poverty, etc), I believe this is the best time to challenge our creative juices. Looking at it as glass half-full, these problems are in fact opportunities! Let's strike the iron while it is still hot!

So, what are you good at? Cooking? Teaching? Creating crafts? Doing business? Share your blessings and help PNoy. Please. He cannot bring up the country on his own. Pray how you can be of help. You will definitely be blessed and provided for by our loving Father.