Monday, January 31, 2011

A Brother's Wedding: in the eyes of a Shobe

It was one of the most memorable events indeed. Not only did I play the parts of the maid of honor, bible reader, veil and ring bearer simultaneously between the hours of 15:00 and 16:00 on the 29th of January, but my one and only brother also got married!

To tell you the truth, it was not until the mid part of the wedding ceremony that this whole matter started to sink in. I was too preoccupied with my tasks at first. I was trying hard to keep my posture straight and to keep my eyes dry and clear. But when the slow reflective song "The Power of Your Love" started playing, I steered clear from my mental to-do's. The screen in front of me drew my attention when it showed my brother and sister-in-law testifying their love for each other before the whole crowd with their hands tightly clasped together. They have grown up. I have grown up. We're fastly becoming adults. And soon my parents will become grandparents, and we will become parents ourselves with new and great responsibilities. Oh how time flies!

Presenting to you the newly weds! (Sorry, I only have a photo of their backs.)

Together with the other bride's maids and my sister in law, gorgeous in red.

The picture below was taken with my dear friend Edivita. If you can see the man behind us, that's my brother who was so happy to finally finish the ceremony with little mishap. Believe me, he was really nervous the night before. See the feeling of great relief in his hands? (Hehe.)

We rented a bus to drive the whole clan to the reception hall at Raffles Hotel. It was less expensive and more efficient compared to taking several cabs.

Here is their ten course meal. I felt so stuffed! Too much food may be a feast to the eyes but deadly to the stomach. Hihi!

Here are Mervin's friends celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with him.

Congratulations Mervin and Jiali!

May you remember to love each other not as how you want to love, but how the other needs to be loved. May you see God at the center of your relationship, for only He can keep the thread of marriage strong and secure until your last breath. Ahya ("older brother" in Fukien), be good. :P


A Refreshing Escape in Little India

It was such a joy to be with my sister again. We were seated on her bed, inside a cozy studio room, on top of Little India in the multi-cultural land of Singapore. The windows were closed and so there was no smell of those colorful Indian spices. The curtains covered the sights and sounds outside. The lights were deemed. It was time for some catching up and sharing of stories.

I got to see how God has been faithful in her life as she recounted some of her treasured memories. It all started when Edivita was sharing about her struggles in Singapore. Her job was really more than a handful. Imagine, only four people were handling the social responsibility aspect of SMU, a school with a population of about 6,000 students. And she was one of the four.

Then her stories regressed to a recent past experience..

She took a pair of slippers from her closet - one side pink, the other side black. She asked if I already knew the story behind it. I said no. It was in East Coast (this is a name of the beach if I'm not mistaken), during the National Day Celebration, when she spent a beautiful afternoon with a friend. As they watched the Singapore flags danced to the breeze of the sea, a sharp wave rolled to the shore and dragged her slippers away. It was only after some time that she was able to take notice of her missing slippers. Together with her friend, they walked on the sandy shores barefooted in search of those pink Havaianas. They found the left-side slipper. And after moments of walking, they declared the right partner was lost.

As they continued walking, they spotted a black slipper not so far away. No one seemed to own it. It was lying on the sand all alone. Nobody in the area was minding it. It was old and a little bit torn, ready to be picked up and thrown in the garbage can. But Edivita found it still durable and wearable. The thong was in place and there were no holes under the sole. This black slipper was a right-side slipper, and it was of the same size as her pink slipper. What a compatible pair!

Many may see it as a mere coincidence. But since God has planned for everything, there is no coincidence in God. She took it as God's gift.. as simple as it it. This experience reminded her that there is Someone who facilitates the time and details of our lives. There is that great Someone who orchestrates the world.

It was past midnight, and she continued on with her story..

A few days before the slippers incident, she was seated on the same rock facing the same breathtaking sight. She was thinking of giving up and going back home (to the Philippines) or giving up and becoming a missionary. But something inside her reminded her that when God gave the sea its boundary no waters would overstep this command (Proverbs 8:29). Therefore, if God places her there, she cannot go where God is not telling her to go. It was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit that was counseling her to not overstep God' plan. And so she went back.

Being a dear friend of hers, I was able to witness many miracles in her life, both big and small. (Like how she got her job for example, or how she was healed from her sickness, or how she knew that her mission field was in Singapore.) Her life testifies that when God leads, He is clear and concise. And when you follow by faith, no matter how difficult the trials may be, God will equip and provide. Whenever I see my sister taking leaps of faith, I also see God doing extraordinary things. It is such a refreshing sight. I am reminded that it is not what we do or what we don't do that matters. But it is the faith to wait upon His leading and the faith to follow and obey when He calls.

Upon remembering what God has done in her life, her worries turned into joy. When I saw the joy that only God could give, I realized that just by spending time with a child of God, people would be drawn to Him because they would be touched with that unspeakable, incomprehensible joy.

Even if Edivita and I were merely contained in the four walls of her room, I felt more than the breeze of the ocean, I caught a glimpse of heaven. What a refreshing escape indeed! :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Nervous Sister

My brother is getting married today. Seeing him all dressed-up in his suit surprisingly brought tears to my eyes. It is just sinking in. My brother.. is.. getting.. married.. he.. is.. going.. to.. have.. his.. own.. family. I can't believe that the guy who I've grown up to play with, to fight with, to laugh with, to argue with, to journey with, is now finally starting a life with a new family. He will, in a couple of hours, be "one" with his dearly-beloved-wife-to-be.

I hope to not shed a tear later; I don't want to ruin my make-up. I hope to remember all the words I'll have to say, all the standing up & the sitting down the lady at the church had taught us during the rehearsal. I hope to become a good sister to my 'ah-so' (sister in law). I hope to become a loving aunt to my nephews and nieces. I hope to include them in my prayers even if we'll be miles apart. I hope that they know, they'll always have a sister in me.

Here's one of our last photos together before he said his "I do". :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

PR 503: Flight to Singapore

The flight to Singapore was jampacked last May 26, 7:20AM. Such that when my mom, dad and I arrived at the check-in counter an hour and a half before the flight, the lady behind the counter placed us in seats far from each other. My seat was at the tail of the plane in between the aisle and the window seats.

When I got to the back end, seated beside my empty chair was a 'cool' looking middle eastern man. He looked like someone from the popular crowd. He was quite intimidating actually. He seemed like someone who would mock me if I opt to open my Bible in mid air. I could already imagine him asking "What are you reading?" with a smirk. I was still wrestling whether to read now in the plane or find some other time later to read it. If ever I would experience persecution or being the butt of his jokes, at least he'd know that I believe in God. And since God has promised vindication, I knew that He'd believe in God sooner or later.

So I decided to open my Bible. I read Isaiah 49. It was a VERY timely message. Before I boarded the plane, when I was waiting in line at the customs area, I was reflecting whether I should continue writing or start a business already. I asked a good friend of mine the same thing. She suggested that maybe I should prioritize writing for now because I bless more people that way. But I am not earning from it, I thought. I'm not even sure if people were reading my entries. I just felt quite lost.

Before my turn came, something inside me was telling me, use your gift to bless others even if it won't pay much. Trust that God will provide. Now, back to Isaiah 49. Isaiah 49 was my reading for that day. I was surprised that when I arrived at verse 4, someone knew how I felt and put it all into a verse.. "I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God."

Amazing how timely it was. And even more amazing was God's reply. He started by saying he formed the servant in the womb. Even before he was born, God has placed in him his purpose. His purpose was something greater than restoring Israel. He was to be "a light for the Gentiles" that God's salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. I felt that God was speaking straight to me; telling me to go be a light, whether you write or speak, just go and light up the world.

After I thanked God for His wonderful living Word and the joy and comfort alongside it, my seatmate took out a book and started reading as well. The book was oddly familiar. It was in English. Before I got to peek the title on the cover, he turned to me and ask, "What version are you reading?" I said, "NLT." I learned after a short volley of dialogue later that he is a brother in Christ!

His side of the story. When a flight attendant announced, "For those who are willing to pay extra $20 to change seats, there are still some seats available near the exit doors," he was tempted to grab the opportunity. But he felt that he shouldn't, and so he decided to stay in his cramped spot. He admitted, "Maybe this is the reason why something in me told me to stay, (for us to encourage one another)." He told me that the day before our flight, he was on the verge of giving up his faith.

Interesting how the book he was reading and a two hour conversation with a family in Christ brought back joy in him. I was more often merely listening to him share about his learnings, the books that he read, and a bit of his struggles. The fire in him was slowly lighting brighter and brighter as he excitedly quoted verses from the Psalms and shared how these lines helped him that day.

I thank You and praise You, Holy Spirit for speaking to us when we need it the most. In Jesus name, Amen. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

7 People that Block Spiritual Community

"A true church is
not defined by the clothes we wear, the building we meet in, the airs we put on, or the style of music we use to worship. Rather, true church is nothing more, nothing less than the community of people who believe in the Good News. Church—real, meaningful church—takes place when we get together with other people and put into practice the love and joy we've received from God." (

I've discovered seven types of people that hinder the building of a spiritual community. Read on. Some of them may be uncomfortably familiar.

1. Miss Cinderella

Ms. Cinderella is the lady who is too good to be true. She holds a prim and proper facade that cannot even hurt a rat. No one can imagine her doing anything "sinful", except probably accidentally spilling a cup of tea on the white table cloth. But nothing more than an innocent mishap.

She is the perfect Christian who can be voted for "The Christian of the Year" award. She holds a perfect attendance in fellowships and Sunday services. No one knows much about her except that she is busily involved in church ministries. People see her life as absent of troubles because she never shares what goes on in her personal life. She keeps what's real and true to herself, and shows only the good side to others. She makes other people in the church feel bad because they would not ever be able to attain this perfection in their Christian life.

2. Miss Eponine (Les Miserables)

You might catch her belting out "On My Own" in the bathroom. She is the type of person who prefers to go solo in life, who doesn't want to be part of the community. She sees the imperfections of the people within the church and thinks that she doesn't belong with this group of sinners. She'd rather keep her distance and be on her own. She doesn't need encouragements from others nor does she have the desire to help others.

She does not want to join a small group. She does not have the burden to invite others to join the church as well. She prefers to run the race of the Christian life alone or with limited friends and go "solo flight."

3. Miss Fara See

She is a master of the Word of God. She is very much knowledgable of the church's rules and traditions. She knows what must be done and what must not be done on different days of the week. Similar to Miss Cinderella, Miss Fara See keeps her records clean and white, but she requires others to keep theirs just as clean.

Ms. Fara See has an eye for mistakes. She can see it clearly when brothers and sisters silently move away from the path. Instead of guiding them gently and lovingly, she hits them with verses in the Bible until they do the right thing. Instead of sharing the love of Christ, she condemns.

4. Miss Dear Abbey

Miss Abbey is a friend who you may share problems with in the church. She is sweet and caring, but may seem a little bit overbearing. She gives an answer before grasping the whole question, or shoots an advice before listening to the whole problem. She wants everything to be fixed as soon as possible... this includes your problem.

Although she has a kind heart, she doesn't realize that she seems to be more concerned with fixing your problem than you.

5. Miss Martha

Miss Martha is a very busy body in the church. She is tired and she drains the energy of other people as well. She loves inviting people to the ministry because she needs help in doing all the work. She even invites Mary, the people who are very much willing to listen to Jesus, to the ministry, letting Mary think that serving is the way to get to know God and grow spiritually. She forgets that spending time to get to know God is more important as it would give her the joy of spreading the good news and the passion to fulfill the work.

At the end of the day, she makes the people in the church tired, unhappy and stressed.

6. Miss 1000 Jokes

Sometimes the favorite person in the crowd can be the very hindrance to spiritual accountability. She is fun to be with. She possesses the sack of funny stories and jokes that may bring bouts of laughter. However, this funny lady may waste (her and other's) time by talking about foolish, unimportant things. She is not helping others in any way by investing in conversations that have no eternal value.

7. Miss Nowhere

How do you read this - Miss Now Here or Miss No Where? Similarly, this miss is a very good source of confusion. She is already a Christian but members are not exactly sure if she is part (or not part) of the church. She sometimes attends the church and then absents herself again for a few weeks. Church leaders invest their time mentoring her, church events coordinators prepare camps for her. All these include time, effort and money, and yet she is not entirely stepping in completely to a local church. She might be attending another church and she would rather get the best of both worlds. She cares more of what the church can do for her than how she can help in the church.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who God Is: The Radical Security

For the purpose of this entry, the operational definition of security is as follows

Security: /n/ the state of being free from danger and injury.

In the process of getting to know God and His wonderfully everlasting attributes, I tried reading the accounts of Jesus in the book of Mark. I thought, surely Jesus would also possess these amazing attributes (except for some differences due to Him being God incarnate). True enough, there were lots! What struck me the most that particular morning was the attribute of God being the security.

I find this subject very difficult to tackle. It took me quite a while to come up with everything that you are about to read. You see, I had a difficult time balancing the application part of this particular lesson. I did not want to sound very practical and lose the Biblical truth and be radical and sound umm... foolish.

I continued flipping through the pages of my Bible until I got to Mark 10. I was extremely surprised. And I mean e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y surprised for two things!:

1. Jesus was (and probably still is) too radical! When a rich young man asked Jesus "What must I do to inherit eternal life?", Jesus answered this...

"Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

You'd probably say, "Well, wait a minute! It's already a different era!" And you continue talking with your hands pointing your body, "Jesus doesn't possess a physical body that I can closely follow now. During the apostles time, it was different! They followed and witnessed Jesus firsthand as He fed the four thousand, fed the five thousand, healed the sick, raised the dead, etc.."

This is simply impractical. How can I feed my family? What do I ought to do then? Should I just give up working and follow Jesus? Where is He anyway? How can I see Him? Where do I go? To Israel? To Africa? Should I just let go of all the savings I've built up over the years? How about my son's future - he is about to turn four soon and tuition fees are rising like Tower of Babel!?? What should I do?!!?

Well, brothers and sisters, truth be told, it is definitely impractical! Not all Biblical teachings are music to the ears. But let me tell you, this statement isn't limited to the ancient Biblical times. It is still applicable today. It is still true today that the rich finds it more difficult to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

What does it imply anyway when you have plenty of money?

a. You value money. Your decisions are based on the deeply nested value of "financial independence" or "profit." Money has been placed top in your priority list. It is even higher than God. Although 1 Timothy 6:10, "money is the root of all evil," has been often misquoted, the verse teaches that it is not money that is evil but the "love of money--greed--is the sin, and an impulse that lies behind much wickedness throughout history" (

b. You need more than what is necessary. You are saving for the in-case-this-or-that-will-happen situations (i.e. in case my house burns up, in case my daughter won't find a job and my SSS won't be enough to sustain me). The world has taught us this framework: based on the SWOT (or TOWS) analysis, once we have built cash as our resource strength, we will be able to exploit future opportunities and attack or avoid upcoming threats. And so we save up money in our bank account to be "free from danger and injury." In short, we need money... to be secured.

c. You trust money. I now understand why it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. God entails our 100% trust and love and faith and devotion. And if the rich has plenty of strengths or resources, then they would have no reason to look for God and trust Him. Or perhaps, others may claim to know the Bible and obey it (like the rich young man), and yet has a bank account as back-up plan (in case God won't be able to provide). This definitely shows a lack of trust in God.

Remember in John 6 that there is one form of security that will last for an eternal lifetime; when Jesus said, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." So you might be asking, how then do we work for food that endures to eternal life? The crowd (following Him) asked the same thing. The answer they got was this, to quote Jesus: "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

To believe in Jesus. To believe that He is "the bread of life" (v. 35), whoever comes to him will never be hungry and thirsty. To believe that His grace is sufficient, His strength is made perfect in our weakness. To believe that He can sustain and rescue us. To believe that He is the ONLY way, the truth and the life. Many of us know these truths already, however it is only until we are left with nothing, that we fully believe in Him. It is only until every precious thing has been taken from us, that we fully value God as our security.

Now, I don't know what God wants you to do with your money. I suggest you reflect for a moment and ask yourself these questions:
  • What is your basis for your recent big decisions? Is it to obey God or to earn money? Is it to use the gifts that God has given you or to earn money?
  • Why are you keeping all those money? Is it due to the in-case situations?
  • Are you being a good steward? If not, how then can you become a good steward and use them for God's glory?
  • Who are you sharing your money with?
  • Are you following Jesus? Or is your pursuit for money hindering you from being His good and faithful servant?
..and then show God that you don't love, need and trust your money, as much as you do Him, by sharing it with the poor!

2. It's odd that I've never heard of an advice, a sermon, or anything close to Jesus' advice to the rich young man.

The most I've heard were about budgeting and financial management. Probably people were scared of being seen as radical, or as foolish. Welcome it, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (1 Cor 1:15)

For those who were able to read this far, *clap clap*, you've survived hearing an inconvenient truth: a truth that is very much difficult to bear and live out. I guess, you've seen in this writing, that I've chosen to share with you the radical application. One that is against the whole world. One that will meet persecution.

Our radical God who is able to create the world and provide all our needs, love unconditionally, destroy nations, save people, move mountains and calm the raging storm deserves a radical faith, don't you think?

Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
~ Isaiah 46:3,4

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

PAUSE , . : ; !

This happens when we don't pause for a while stop for a sec and rest for a bit we go on and on like there is no tomorrow we rant and rant like there is no time to think and process our thoughts time flies and so we fly along with it we let the motions of the world take us around its axis we fly on the ring or what is known as the orbit we swing around the moon oh I mean the sun and so the day turns into the night the night turns into a day the day turns into a night once the night is over we are ready to hit the day we bring out our coach bag Mac makeup kit cellphone handheld landline laptop wallet with various credit cards we microwave the food from last night we take a couple of spoonfuls of rice we drink a cup of dark black coffee to keep us awake for the rest of the morning and we get in the car hit the gas at 120 km per hour and reach the office in fifteen minutes of course we pass by some stop lights during those much dreaded boring stops we bring out our makeup kit and apply the eyeshadow eyeliner and lipstick once we reach the office we drink another cup of coffee to keep us awake until late in the afternoon while we do our tasks for the day when we reach home we turn on our laptop log in facebook check out the notifications and read more updates we update our status and upload a new photo we wait for comments while waiting for comments we add another tab to our browser and surf the net we look at the clock it is now two in the morning we cannot recall what has happened during the day time has just passed one hour at a time we let the motions of the world take us round and round its axis as the night turns into a day the day turns into a night

PAUSE , . : ; !

Life is short. Reflect on what is worthwhile.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who God Is: My Joy

While I was doing my assignment in a coffee shop awhile ago, I couldn't help but hear conversations of people seated nearby. I was surrounded by people in their early 20's, both male and female, on fire for the Lord. At my right was a group of ladies sharing their joys of how God has blessed them in their lives. I heard them sharing stories of faith and blessings. I also heard them pouring encouragements to one another. One of the girls even proclaimed that she is now going full-time for the Lord. Although she admitted that she was a little bit fearful, her face, her words, her emotions showed that she was overwhelmed with joy. It was such a delightful sight.

Behind me was a group of four young professional men with their Bibles open. I heard one of them sharing about God's love. I didn't pry anymore on the details. But I guess, he has received it and is now very happy to share it. Beautiful.

I realized that many of us have forgotten about this pure joy. We have long outgrown the exciting passion that we once had experienced when we were newly reborn. Now, this is what my detective eyes have observed over the years. One of the main reasons why many of us do not experience this anymore as the "flame dies down" is mainly because we have become burdened and tired in our Christian life. Instead of taking our rest in Jesus who offers rest for the weary, Jesus has become the reason for us to be weary.

We join the ministries because we think it's for our own "growth." We serve with all that we can because God deserves perfection, if not, excellence. We plan an activity for Thursday and hold another activity on Friday, thinking that it is all for God anyway. We prepare the food so that no one will get hungry. We invite and welcome people in the registration table. We hurriedly coordinate who's next-in-line in the program. We get so busy. There must be no dead air. If someone couldn't serve as an officer, we join the team, because they need us.

We are ending up like Martha. Living the life of Martha is tiresome. Martha was the one who prepared for the whole fellowship event in her house. She had to make food from scratch for at least 12 (probably hungry) guests. She kneaded the dough with her bare hands. She had to make trips to the well for some water. She was basically "organizing the event" on her own.

Martha called her sister to help out. When Jesus heard her, you'd probably think that he would smile courteously and say "Thank you for welcoming us into your home, Martha. Go Mary, help your sister." But no, Jesus was against that idea. He said "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42). What is better then? What is that ONE Jesus was talking about?

To choose to be with Jesus.

Mary was at the Lord's feet, listening to Him. This is more important than serving. Jesus himself said so already! If you are part of any ministry, and yet have little to zero prayer life, I suggest that you take a retreat, meaning stop first from ministry and have a moment to listen to Jesus. Those in ministry, who are not Martha, will understand.

The joy in life, or in a church dwindle away when more Martha rise in action. Going to church, serving in a church, ministering will become a burden, instead of products of abundant joy. And because most people are tired from serving, they do not have the innate contagious joy that will draw believers and nonbelievers to God. If God for them is already burdensome, won't those who do not know God see Him as such as well (or worse)?

If you are convicted by this entry, let go of everything that you are doing. There is something more important. Take this time to pause and listen to what God has to say.

May you (re)discover the Joy in God today! God bless you!

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. ~ Ecclesiastes 5:1

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Room Detox and Retox

The renovation is almost over. Nothing much has changed in my room. My only requirements were a corner where I could read and do my quiet time, a clean well-lit table where I could do my crafts and a bigger, longer book shelf to keep my collection. And the color of my room has changed from orange to old rose. It's one step closer to Honeysuckle which is THE Color of 2011 according to Pantone, a well-known color-service company.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent hours refilling my room mostly with papers, books,
notebooks and other hard copy documents. They came from boxes and big clear plastic bags tucked away in the guest's restroom during the whole course of the renovation.

I discovered (or probably rediscovered since I'm becoming quite forgetful nowadays) more things about myself.

1. I had an odd hobby of creating my own fonts. I only ended up in J though. Guess what font type is shown in the image below?

(Answer: Climb)

(Answer: Elves)

(Answer: Joy)

2. The image below reminded me that I was also fond of creating clubs. When I was in grade 6, I co-founded a group called the "Cute Spice Club". It comprised of huge fans of Spice Girls & Backstreet Boys then. Apart from CSC, I was also part of the Best-Friend-Ship Club, Genesis Club and Chained 3io club. Inside this notebook were our summer plans, our secret codes, news and updates, lyrics, our crushes and even our non-crushes (meaning: boys we'll never have a crush on).

3. Doodling has been part of my learning process. There were times that I would shift to folding or cutting of book/notebook pages whenever I had no pen within reach. That's why, I make it a point to bring a pen and a notebook with me wherever I go.

4. I forgot that about a decade ago, I was madly, head-over-heels crushing on this guy below. Oh, highschool days! Guess who?

5. More of my books are on:

a. Inspirational

b. Food related

c. Hobbies and Recreation

Here's the final product!

Why don't you take a look around your room as well. See what things are the most visible. Is it books? What books? Is it musical instruments? Is it art works? Is it your writings? Is it flowers? Is it animals? Observe. That could just be your passion in life! :)

Just some stuff to brighten up your day! Good morning! :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Who God Is: My Teacher

The term has just started and I think I'm going to like it. I enjoy learning especially if it has a great practical application or a use to it. So anyway, for this term, I have two strategy classes (Strategic Management and Technology Strategy). This excites me because strategy always comes with an action plan. It's fun to see how plans, knowledge and creativity are used for problem solving purposes.

"What is management?" This was the first question my (scary!) professor Efren Cruz asked. Nobody in the class was able to answer him correctly. Why don't you give it a try? Don't worry, my professor won't be able to embarrass you. Hint: It has two key words. No, it isn't art and science. No, it isn't PLOC (planning, leading, organizing and controlling). It is simply the process of "making decisions". Now, how do we make decisions? Through analysis, logical analysis to be exact. According to Mr. Cruz, logic doesn't necessarily give us the right or wrong action plan, it is a guide for correct manner of thinking. Logical analysis allows us to draw logical conclusion for decision making.

The next question is, what shall we analyze? FRAMEWORKS! Frameworks are basically references that a company, a government, a non-profit organization, a church, or a simple housewife follows or adheres to. Frameworks are made out of several concepts, theories or laws. Some examples are the TOWS (or SWOT), EFE Matrix, 4P's in Marketing. What I've typed here also serves as a framework already. Let me show you a concrete illustration (all --> means "leads to"):

Laws/Theories/Principles --> Concepts --> Framework --> Analysis --> Decision Making

We are all managers. We make decisions everyday. From choosing what food to eat, where to go, who to go out with, what words to speak out, to deciding on what business venture to pursue and what our personal mission-vision is, big or small, we all make decisions. There are thousands of frameworks that all of us can choose to follow, but believe it or not, there is only one best framework. Why? Because this one in particular is not manmade, its words were spewed from God's mouth, written by God-inspired people.

The Bible in itself is already a comprehensive framework. It is so comprehensive that it not only takes care of our decisions here on earth, but it also touches on eternity. Imagine that! Based on the Bible's framework, there are some decisions made today that can have long lasting, eternal value, one that you can bring to heaven! Those TOWS, EFE matrices may have allowed companies to exist for at least a hundred of years, but were William Procter & James Gamble able to enjoy the luxuries of their big company in heaven? Were they able to lead others to Jesus?

I recently realized two things:
1. If we were to take God's Word seriously, the best framework for a business is not one with the grandest mission-vision of providing highly innovative technologically driven products that aim to be the number one in the market. Nor is it simply having an intelligent strategic plan that will kill competitors. More important than knowledge, skills, or gifts, God puts highest value in love. Let love be the basis of your decisions. Without love, God says you are nothing.

2. Strategy originated from greek word strategia meaning "generalship" which was originally used in warfare. Greeks were real good with strategy. Remember the movie 300? It was a real story. About 300 men were able to combat against hundreds of thousands of Persian army by implementing strategic decisions based on their physical environment. Strategy is managing based on environment. Now, here is what OUR strategy is based on God's framework. "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." ~ Isaiah 30:15. In short, no matter what type of physical environment we are placed in, we will only win if we depend upon the Lord.

Through the Bible, the Lord has taught us how to invest our lives here on earth. Think about this. The average life on earth is 75. Compared to eternity, of trillions and gazillions of years, it is nothing but a dot. Live your life wisely. Ask God for wisdom. My professor has taught me (and you, since I shared all these with you) the framework for decision making. However, the analysis must be based on a framework that is worthwhile. Allow God to teach you the right framework. Pray that He will open your eyes of your heart as you study your Bible today.

God bless!

P.S. Just a word of caution. There is a thin line between obedience and legalism. Do not allow pride to overrun you once you know and practice the teachings of God. Know that all is meaningless without God's grace.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Repost: Things Babies Born in 2011 Will Never Know

This post is lifted from a Yahoo Finance link: Read on.




Huffington Post recently put up a story called You're Out: 20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade. It's a great retrospective on the technology leaps we've made since the new century began, and it got me thinking about the difference today's technology will make in the lives of tomorrow's kids.

I've used some of their ideas and added some of my own to make the list below: Do you think kids born in 2011 will recognize any of the following?

Video tape: Starting this year, the news stories we produce here at Money Talks have all been shot, edited, and distributed to TV stations without ever being on any kind of tape. Not only that, the tape-less broadcast camera we use today offers much higher quality than anything that could have been imagined 10 years ago -- and cost less than the lens on the camera we were using previously.

Travel agents: While not dead today, this profession is one of many that's been decimated by the Internet. When it's time for their honeymoon, will those born in 2011 be able to find one?

The separation of work and home: When you're carrying an email-equipped computer in your pocket, it's not just your friends who can find you -- so can your boss. For kids born this year, the wall between office and home will be blurry indeed.

Books, magazines, and newspapers: Like video tape, words written on dead trees are on their way out. Sure, there may be books -- but for those born today, stores that exist solely to sell them will be as numerous as record stores are now.

Movie rental stores: You actually got in your car and drove someplace just to rent a movie?

Watches: Maybe as quaint jewelry, but the correct time is on your smartphone, which is pretty much always in your hand.
©Will D/flickr

Paper maps: At one time these were available free at every gas station. They're practically obsolete today, and the next generation will probably have to visit a museum to find one.

Wired phones: Why would you pay $35 every month to have a phone that plugs into a wall? For those born today, this will be a silly concept.

Long distance: Thanks to the Internet, the days of paying more to talk to somebody in the next city, state, or even country are limited.

Newspaper classifieds: The days are gone when you have to buy a bunch of newsprint just to see what's for sale.

Dial-up Internet: While not everyone is on broadband, it won't be long before dial-up Internet goes the way of the plug-in phone.

Encyclopedias: Imagine a time when you had to buy expensive books that were outdated before the ink was dry. This will be a nonsense term for babies born today.

Forgotten friends: Remember when an old friend would bring up someone you went to high school with, and you'd say, "Oh yeah, I forgot about them!" The next generation will automatically be in touch with everyone they've ever known even slightly via Facebook.

Forgotten anything else: Kids born this year will never know what it was like to stand in a bar and incessantly argue the unknowable. Today the world's collective knowledge is on the computer in your pocket or purse. And since you have it with you at all times, why bother remembering anything?

The evening news: The news is on 24/7. And if you're not home to watch it, that's OK -- it's on the smartphone in your pocket.

CDs: First records, then 8-track, then cassette, then CDs -- replacing your music collection used to be an expensive pastime. Now it's cheap(er) and as close as the nearest Internet connection.

Film cameras: For the purist, perhaps, but for kids born today, the word "film" will mean nothing. In fact, even digital cameras -- both video and still -- are in danger of extinction as our pocket computers take over that function too.

[Minivans Making a Comeback]

Yellow and White Pages: Why in the world would you need a 10-pound book just to find someone?

Catalogs: There's no need to send me a book in the mail when I can see everything you have for sale anywhere, anytime. If you want to remind me to look at it, send me an email.

Fax machines: Can you say "scan," ".pdf" and "email?"

One picture to a frame: Such a waste of wall/counter/desk space to have a separate frame around each picture. Eight gigabytes of pictures and/or video in a digital frame encompassing every person you've ever met and everything you've ever done -- now, that's efficient. Especially compared to what we used to do: put our friends and relatives together in a room and force them to watch what we called a "slide show" or "home movies."

Wires: Wires connecting phones to walls? Wires connecting computers, TVs, stereos, and other electronics to each other? Wires connecting computers to the Internet? To kids born in 2011, that will make as much sense as an electric car trailing an extension cord.

Hand-written letters: For that matter, hand-written anything. When was the last time you wrote cursive? In fact, do you even know what the word "cursive" means? Kids born in 2011 won't -- but they'll put you to shame on a tiny keyboard.

Talking to one person at a time: Remember when it was rude to be with one person while talking to another on the phone? Kids born today will just assume that you're supposed to use texting to maintain contact with five or six other people while pretending to pay attention to the person you happen to be physically next to.

Retirement plans: Yes, Johnny, there was a time when all you had to do was work at the same place for 20 years and they'd send you a check every month for as long as you lived. In fact, some companies would even pay your medical bills, too!

Mail: What's left when you take the mail you receive today, then subtract the bills you could be paying online, the checks you could be having direct-deposited, and the junk mail you could be receiving as junk email? Answer: A bloated bureaucracy that loses billions of taxpayer dollars annually.

Commercials on TV: They're terrifically expensive, easily avoided with DVRs, and inefficiently target mass audiences. Unless somebody comes up with a way to force you to watch them -- as with video on the Internet -- who's going to pay for them?

Commercial music radio: Smartphones with music-streaming programs like Pandora are a better solution that doesn't include ads screaming between every song.

Hiding: Not long ago, if you didn't answer your home phone, that was that -- nobody knew if you were alive or dead, much less where you might be. Now your phone is not only in your pocket, it can potentially tell everyone -- including advertisers -- exactly where you are.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Who God Is: My Provider

A year ago, there was a great number of days, weeks even, when I woke up feeling unrest and a little bit fearful. Let me swallow my pride a little bit more (hehe!), I admit that I was really worried about my future. You see, I was (and still am) in an exclusive courtship relationship with someone whose future financial capability is unlikely to support a family, our family (If we would end up together); specially if our family were to still enjoy the kind lifestlye that we have at the moment. I wondered if we would get to travel, to eat our favorite foods, to study, to buy books, to try out new activities, etc.

On one particular Sunday, I talked to God about all these, shed some tears, and gave Him the key to my future. I decided to step out of the boat, out of my comfort zone. Then, like Hezekiah and Gideon, there came a sign. I'm not sure if I was the one who asked for a sign, or if the Holy Spirit imprinted it on my heart. I myself was surprised when this became part of my prayer. "Okay, Lord, I know that if it is your will, you will provide. If it is your will, can you double the number of the people attending the cell group? Thank You."

It seemed like a very simple question at that time, but believe me, it was a very difficult task. During that time, I had been co-leading the group for 2 years and I had taken great effort to invite people to come on a Friday night. Since I couldn't ask them for their commitment, they came and went as they pleased. So I thought, 'If it's difficult to get hold of the old people, how much more the new people?' Doubling it was near impossible.

In a month's time, the number grew. People started to flock in until we reached more than twice the original size. We had the most number of attendees in years. Unlike before when I was busy creating activities, gimmicks and the like to generate people, this time, I did not do anything. It was definitely "not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God" that people came and showed commitment. God provided and God indeed will provide. It was one of the many instances that my forgetful mind should remember whenever I feel fear and unrest, or whenever Satan attacks me with various thoughts.

Now, if you are still hesitating about God being the provider, think about this. Since God loves us so much that He was willing to send His beloved Son to die on the cross for our sins, wouldn't He be willing to give us all other things along with Jesus as well? God has everything in the palm of His hands; God has created every good thing that we see. He isn't there to hoard them all for His own use. He doesn't need them anyway. Knowing that God loves you and me, He will shower upon us what we need when we need it.

May we pray like how Jesus taught His disciples.. "to give us our daily bread." The wisdom behind it can be found in Solomon's proverbs, "But give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." (Prov 30:8-9)

Feel free to pray this prayer and trust that my God, our God, will provide. :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who God Is: Series

A very close friend of mine resolved to write the attributes of God - who He has revealed Himself to be - in her journal. I have not read what she has written yet. But I believe it's going to be encouraging, uplifting and simply wonderful. And so I have decided to do the same.

This "Who God Is" series is going to be posted for three reasons:

(1) to focus on God. It is tempting to write about you, about me, about us, about everything that is happening in this world and make them circulate around you, me and us. This only makes us forget that there's Someone more important than you and me, Someone who deserves our time and attention, Someone who deserves all the glory and all the praises that this world has to offer. Because ALL GOOD things (i.e. gifts, capabilities, physique, salaries, family) come from Him.

(2) to proclaim to the whole world who my God is. Many of us pray to God, put our faith in Him, serve him. But do we know who God is? If yes, good. Who is He then? If no, how do we serve the one whom we do not know? How do we speak to Him? And How do we expect others to know Him as well?

(3) to remind myself who He is. I realized that I can never be like God. I am forgetful. And because I'm forgetful, it is difficult for me to be faithful in word and deed. Whenever circumstances cloud my faith, many times I forget who God is. I tend to worry, when the Bible tells me not to worry for my God will provide. I tend to fear, when the Bible clearly speaks of a God who protects.

I encourage you to know my God, our God. I encourage you to list down who He is in your life and soon proclaim it out loud.

God bless you brothers and sisters!

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." ~ Galatians 6:14

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/1/11: Greetings!

Happy new year readers, sojourners, and fellow brothers and sisters!

What were the new year rituals you abided to during the 2010-2011 transition? Did you jump up and down the stairs thinking that you'd grow taller? Did you place some round-shaped fruits in the dining table to welcome more prosperity in year 2011? Did you let some coins jingle on the floor and then kept them in your wallet as your "lucky coins"? Or did you simply spent the last few hours of 2010 facebooking and chatting in YM?

Well, what I did last night, the last night of 2010, was rather simple. I had a lovely dinner with my family in a Chinese restaurant. Interestingly, it was the only open restaurant within sight. Most had been closed by 8pm. We had noodles, spicy and sweet; white bun, soft and fluffy; jelly fish, crunchy and palatable.

When we got home, my girl pals and I did a four-part activity. This is our new year ritual. Feel free to read on and adopt it at the end of this year.

First, we reflected upon the passing year and wrote a letter to God. There is much to be thankful for, much to learn from and much to look forward to every year. At ten in the evening, of the last day of the year, it was the perfect moment to sit comfortably in a quiet corner, to count the blessings, one after another, and roll them up back to Heaven with praise and thanksgiving.

Second, we summarized 2010 in a drawing. What happens every year is different, the people that we meet, the learnings that we pick up, the experiences, the hurdles, the thought bubbles, they're all different. Every little second of every day makes a year different from the previous years. My drawing was something like this:

I survey 2010 as my time of waiting. That's why you see the big clock there. It was a road marked with bumps (Satan's stumbling blocks) and timely signs (God's loving encouragements), restlessness and comfort, letting go (of old priorities.. ergo the garbage can) and new discoveries (i.e. gifts, insight). God has been faithful.

Third, we wrote a "Thank You" letter to our family. Here is Nancy with her beautifully drawn card.

And Fae with her letter to Lola (grand mother).

Fourth, we prepared our New Year's Resolution. Although people tell me that resolutions do not work, it's still better to try some thing than not do anything at all. And according to Psychology, if we are disciplined enough to do an act for 21 consecutive days, it's most likely that we would be able to continue it for the rest of the year. Just some tips, if you are thinking of making a number of resolutions this year:

1. Cut the number. Too many resolutions would only be forgotten and be left undone.

2. Make them short and simple. Easily remembered lines would allow you to know your resolutions by heart.

3. Keep them realistic and manageable.

4. Choose resolutions that you would want to be part of your lifestyle forever. Hopefully, these are items that could draw you closer to God or make you become a better prince or princess of the King of kings. Choose wisely. There are New Year's Resolutions that have an eternal value.

5. Take Action.

When the clock reached 12 midnight, the three of us went out and greeted the new year with a bang.

May your family be filled with love, your home with laughter and your days with fulfillment!

May we become the salt and light of the earth. Have a joyous year ahead! :)