Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Confused Quarter-Lifer : If only polls were available on Blogspot..:)

Sometimes I feel like Mr. Jack who has all the trades yet master of none.  You see, I'm currently enrolled in my thesis program (first of three terms) and still, I can't even decide which route to take.  Sadly, two years of soul searching hasn't given me the answer -- the much awaited eureka moment hasn't arrived.  All I'd been given were more discoveries, more opportunities, more choices and more forks in the road.  After two years, life seems to be more complicated than ever.

Okay, let me share with you my options.  I'd be more than happy to hear your thoughts, counsel, etc. on these.

1. Artsy Fartsy : Homemade Journals
I just love papers.  I'm obsessed with them.  I love writing on, drawing on, and even sewing papers together.  There's some kind of freedom I feel when working with papers.  People have told me that there's no market for it.  I'm not really sure, because some friends who'd seen the actual thing found it nice (unless they're just being courteous to me which could also be possible.)  And there are kids who love to write and draw.  Artists who love to draw.  Thinkers, writers, and plain journallers who love to write.  Yuppies who love to plan.  Mommies who need to write their shopping lists.  Daddies who want to plan for a family outing.  I am hoping to make this social entrep. -- helping out of school youth or housewives -- but I still don't know who could be the target beneficiaries... who are willing and able to do these kinds of things.  Any suggestions?  Is it possible to mix social entrep. with direct selling?

2.  Technology related : Mobile Game Apps
This is fairly new.  I'm not really that techie.  I don't know if there's a market (whether corporate or mass) that's willing to sponsor or pay for these things.  I'm just there to think of concepts and my partners will program and design them.  The thing is I'd be a little bit guilty if kids would get even more addicted to games than they are now.

3.  Out of School Youth in the South : Bagoong
My prof is suggesting that I start with one actual product that already has a market and that sells.  She's suggesting that I can use my creativity in marketing a poor man's meal and making it high end.  Sony, according to her, was started by Mr. Ibuka who really loved music.  But he didn't start making the walkman or the laser disc player until much later, he started with rice cooker.. that's where the market was.  Is there a way to make a Martha Stewart business model?

4.  Writing..
And drawing are my first two loves.  I don't know how they will fit in my thesis though. Since they're more of a passion and a profession, and not really a real business.

So there.  I still have some other options in mind.. this is just about two-third of what's on my plate.
For now, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to post your comments below. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mom's Love at the Red Table

Whenever I walk in my parents’ room, I pass by this square red table -- folded, clothed – standing by the wall.  Once upon a time, this table was my favorite table in the whole world.  Once upon a time, I would sit there everyday, not because I was forced to do homework, but more of bonding with my mom.

One of the earliest memories is set during a sunny summer month of 1990.  I was four years old then, and I had just finished my nursery year.   I was in my parents’ room with my mom.  We were seated around the red table with our sketchpads, crayons and some monggol pencils.

Two drawings of my mom

During that time, I remember my mom would show me pictures of different characters and we’d draw them together.  Everyday.  My favorite characters were this cute green big-eyed dinosaur and kero keroppi – another green big-eyed frog (or “monster” as some calls it).   At the end of each afternoon, we would exchange drawings.  And I can still remember how my mother would marvel at my rough, childish drawings.  She’d even say “Wow!” to an odd little monster drawing.

Fast forward to today.  I realized how much time my mom had invested in me, in teaching me, and in trying to appreciate my odd drawings.  The table has been left unused and standing by the wall for years, but my mom’s great effort to support me has not changed in any way at all. 

Unlike other people my age who are climbing up the corporate ladder, I do not have a conventional profession that any mother would be proud of.  I’ve let go of my marketing manager dream 3 years ago and replaced it with the oddest dreams and list of jobs. I write food reviews.  I think of mobile game concepts.  I create homemade journals.   These "jobs" are fairly simple compared to the jobs of my contemporaries.  Nevertheless, I love them and I acknowledge that these are gifts from God.   (Thank you, Lord!)

I was a little bit embarrassed, yet pleasantly surprised, when my mother told my aunties over the phone about a new entry I’d written -- that they should read it and "like" it.  Sometimes she would show visitors my homemade journals tucked in the shelf while I was away.  Other times she would suggest ways of improving my writings or creations.  She would even cut out newspaper clippings and encourage me to take the featured classes to improve my skills (which I’m very very thankful for).  Then there are also times when she would be up late at night, just to reread what I’d written and then she’d tell her groggy and sleepy daughter that she has improved.  I'm happy that my mom is not forcing me to live in a pre-determined mold.  What a fortunate daughter I am to have a mother that not only allows her, but also encourages her, to flourish in whatever field God has placed her. 

It's truly fun to have my mom as one of my top two fans.  The other one is... none other than my dad. (Hehe!)

Thank you mom for your love and support -- from the summertimes at the red table until now. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sheep for Slaughter: Warnings to Leaders

As a passionate observer of the modern church, I have observed some "meaningless activities done under the sun."  I have seen churches lacking vision, the will and the power to fulfill God's mission in the world.  I've seen churches focusing on annual one-time-big-time achievements and yet failing to develop sincere, loving relationships amongst the members.  I've also seen preachers not getting the respect that they deserve.  The people are not able to listen to, and be changed by, the message God has sent through the "messengers of His Word." Instead, they dwell on the imperfections, the problems and the faults of these leaders.  Although the churchgoers do want to grow, they suffer a spiritual plateau, or worse they go astray.   They simply cannot put themselves under the guidance of these "faulty leaders."

When I placed these observations under the lens of the Scripture, I've found two reasons why churches are bound to go astray.  I've mentioned one reason in my other blog entry: Sheep for Slaughter: Shepherdless, that it is because (1)the church people  have rejected God as they reject His messengers.  Instead of listening to the message, they criticize the pastors.  Instead of seeking God for His leading, they depended on their own shallow understanding.  Instead of relying on His grace, they depended on their own strength.  Instead of showing mercy, they offer abominable sacrifices.  Instead of repenting, they continue on in their disobedient ways.

Now, hear ye, the second reason is just as important.  It could be (2)the church leaders are leading the church people astray.  

Malachi has provided A WARNING TO THE PRIESTS in the ancient Biblical times, and I think these are just as applicable today.  The priests preserve the knowledge of God; they provide people instruction; they are the messenger of the Lord of Heaven's Armies (Malachi 2:7).  Although in today's times, there are no priests that do ancient church rituals (i.e. burn incense, offer sacrifices), our church leaders and pastors serve the same purpose, as they help direct the entire congregation in their relationship with God.

They are warned to:

A.  Honor God's name
Honoring God's name means "acknowledging God for who he is -- the almighty Creator of the universe, who alone is perfect and who reaches down to sinful people with perfect love" (NLT Study Bible). Knowing that we are a bunch of sinners that deserve death, we must prioritize God who has given us life.  "How?," you might ask.  Begin by "loving Him with all your heart, soul and strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5).  This means listening to what God says in His Word, and then setting our heart, mind and will to do what He says.

Truth be told, our church is not growing.  In fact our numbers are getting smaller.  And sadly we are still holding on to the same ways and structure as we did in the past.  True, the church may have the money to spare, but is this how we should spend our money?  Priests, have you really asked God how to spend the money?  Are these the sacrifices God really wants from you?  Have you prioritized God with your heart, soul and strength?  Are you sincerely seeking Him?  Are you sincerely willing to do whatever He says -- even if it means drastic change?  I cannot forget a "priest" telling me about how he does ministry, "I admit that I am okay with doing what's been tried and tested."

B. Preserve God's Message
Malachi was angry at the priests who were appointed to be God's messengers -- they did not know God's will!  Imagine having pastors, elders or deacons that don't meditate on God's Word or are not acquainted to the different books of the Bible because they were too busy.  How could they preserve the knowledge, if they have no knowledge?  How could they provide instruction to the people?  How could they become a messenger?  How could they lead people to the right path?

Perhaps the book of Malachi would like to keep pastors and leaders in tune to God's Word. Priests, may you be encouraged to dwell on the Scripture more than on any other books and references.  You need to know what it says, what it means and how it applies to daily life.  As a messenger of God, you need to live out the knowledge that you have, and to share the knowledge that you have preserved, in order to turn many from lives of sin.  If you fail to do this, the church would surely be led astray.

On the other hand, we as the flock, also have to responsibility to read the Scripture.  We need to verify if the priests are teaching us rightly about God.

C. Show No Favoritism
There are several classifications of people in the church.  Some have BMWs, while some barely have food on their table.  Some are Filipinos, while some are Chinese.  Some are already octogenarians, while some are still in their teens.  Malachi warned the priests from showing favoritism to the influential and favored people, to those who supported them financially.  "The priests were so dependent on these people for support that they could not afford to confront them when they did wrong" (NLT study Bible).

It is very tempting to give a higher priority to the older and the richer, but God abhors this kind of favoritism.  "If you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers" (James 2:9).  
This is not simply an issue of equality.  Having favoritism shows that we honor men more than we honor God.  The real sin is not in insulting the poor or the young; It is actually insulting God when we despise those whom he has equally given the gospel of grace.  Showing favoritism is the same as questioning his grace, and ultimately, deeming his grace as worthless! (from: Spiritual Favoritism and Why God Hates It).  Let's remember that our significance doesn't lie in the talents, the offerings, the sacrifices, the ministries that we bring before Him.  All of us stand equally before God now that we are a new creation, it is Christ that He sees in us.


Many of the priests today have indeed given up their all for the sake of the call.  They have withstood the initial tests of raised eyebrows and questions like, "Why be a preacher? There's no money there!"  Now that they are in their important appointed positions, the enemy is all the more itching to take them out of the picture, or if not, use them to lead the people astray.

I hope that as messengers of God, you will take heed of these three warnings.  If you forget to honor God and become complacent to your past successes, if you fail to share God's relevant message to the flock or if you show favoritism, God will indeed make you "despised and humiliated in the eyes of all people" (Malachi 2:8).  Your people would know if you truly care enough for them -- you would be sincere in guiding them according to God's will.

As for us, the flock, let us pray for our pastors and leaders that they may not be discouraged in leading us to grow in our relationship with God.  The devil is working against them.  Let us not work together with the devil and give them a harder time.  Instead, let us become a source of encouragement to them.  I've tried becoming a church leader, and when you are in that position, rarely do people you serve affirm you in what you do.  So let's be generous in giving encouragements. It's not that difficult.

The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

~ Malachi 2:7