Tag Archives: bible

Baking Up The Sermons

My cousin and me recently made a visit to Costco.

We were casually going through the aisles until we hit the pastry section.

Immediately, we were mesmerized by the smell of fresh baked goods.

We were kids in a candy store, wanting to take everything home.

We settled on a mixed batch of cookies consisting of chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, and oatmeal raisins.



After putting the batch into our cart, my cousin made the following the comment:

“Its so difficult to find the motivation to bake cookies, when it’s so easily accessible through Costco.”

I wasn’t sure where she was coming from, so I asked her to elaborate.

“Well for me it’s so much trouble to go buy the materials, prepare it, and then wait for it to be ready”.

“Sometimes I go through all that trouble and my batch isn’t even good as the ones at Costco.”



My cousin had a point.

Why go through all that trouble, when you don’t have to right?

Most of the people that I know, don’t have enough time to do all the things they want to do.

Why waste time when you already don’t have enough time?

Life is about prioritizing what’s important and sometimes baking doesn’t always make it to the top of the list.



The only reasons I can think of, in which a person actually prefers baking cookies over buying them is:

1. Their batch is superior in taste and quality compared to the bought ones.

2. Their batch is considerable cheaper when you factor in time and materials invested.

3. They aren’t in it for superior quality or saving money, but rather they just enjoy the process of baking.

Intrinsically, you have to derive some type of benefit or else why would you choose the harder route?



This weekend I talked briefly with a friend I haven’t seen for a very long time.

She told me she recently transitioned from finance to going to school at Le Cordon Bleu.

I never asked her why she wanted to be a pastry chef, but I can see the above reasons applying to her.

Reason #1 applies to her because you got to have self-confidence in your creations and believe that they are of the highest quality.

Reason #3 applies to her because it’s impossible to make a career out of baking if you can’t enjoy yourself in the kitchen.



People ask me all the time, “Why don’t you go to the church anymore?”

I never really knew the real answer, so I made something up:

“The Catholic Church has too many rules and regulations.”

“I don’t get anything from going to mass anymore.”

“I look around at all the people in church who pretend to be holy and I lose faith.”



In the end, all those answers were insufficient because I felt like taking them back the moment I said them.

The truth is, the Catholic Church is good.

I do get something from going to mass.

Others only affect my faith, because I let them.

But still, I haven’t found a reason for my lack of motivation to attend weekly mass.



That is until now.

I stopped going to church because I wanted more than what was being offered to me at church.

For me, the most important of part of mass is the sermon.

It’s the one part that personally bridges my life to the life of Jesus Christ and all that happened before and after his life.

Everything else is simply ritual repetition with small deviations depending on where we are at in the Catholic liturgical year.



For close to 30 years of my religious life, I was like my cousin who finds it easier to buy cookies then to make them.

She goes to Costco, she finds her cookies, she eats it, and moves on with her life.

I go to Church, I get my sermon, I think about it, and then I move on with my life.

Every Sunday for 30 years, I have gone through this same routine.

I realized this same routine was cutting it for me anymore.



I took myself out of the church, because I realized that I depended on the church so much I felt like I was spiritually complacent.

I grew spiritually complacent because I knew that my Pastor will feed my soul every Sunday.

I was so busy with everything else in life that I didn’t even try to make more time for my soul than the bare minimum.

The bare minimum for any practicing Catholic is a 1 hour devotion to God every Sunday.

Because the church only required 1 hour of my life, that’s all I gave to God.



But removing myself from church didn’t exactly help me spiritually.

What has helped me spiritually after leaving the church, is learning how to bake just like my friend.

Instead of going to costco and buying cookies, she “bakes up” her own batch of cookies.

For me, instead of going to church and receiving the sermon, I “bake up” my own sermons.

I found the process of “baking up” my own sermons more rewarding than just receiving the sermon at church.



When a pastor “bakes up” a sermon, he sits down and reads the bible.

He asks himself, “How can I make this bible passage relevant to my audience?”

He does research and tries to come up with some stories, jokes, and props to engage the audience.

He brainstorms, makes multiple drafts, and might ask others to critique his work.

When he believes it is good enough, he delivers it on Sunday.



I go through a similar process and once I’m done, I usually put my findings in a blog.

In fact, all my personal sermons that I have ever “baked up” go directly into this blog.

I do this not because of reason #1 (I believe my sermons are way better than the pastor.)

Nor do I believe that I fit under scenario #2 (I probably invest way more time than a pastor does. He’s definitely more efficient than me.)

I do this because of reason #3 (I simply enjoy the process of “baking up” my own sermons every week.)



For me the “baking-up” a sermon process is a spiritual process.

It encourages me to be proactive in my spirituality instead of waiting to be “fed” by the pastor every Sunday.

True, I may spend way more time coming up with these sermons when compared to the pastor’s preparation time.

But my priority is spirituality, so the fact that I spend so much time preparing, is actually a benefit not a drawback.

I’m not wasting time, I’m actually investing it.



Before, I might’ve told myself to just get the hour of mass over so I can do what I really want to do.

Now, I might spend 1, 3, or 5 hours on my own sermon until I’m satisfied with the result.

This may only apply to me, but I definitely enjoy the process of “baking-up” my own sermons because I am more involved.

I could always revert back to going to church and receive the pastor’s sermon weekly, that would be so easy.

The only reason why I persist down the hard road is because I just find it way more rewarding when I’m the one baking up the sermons.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Focus = Growth

People say whatever you pay attention to it grows.

For example, if you focus your attention on the negative things in your life, more likely than not you will encounter more and more negative things in life.

Poor people get into worser debts and liars keep on lying to cover up their lies.

The opposite holds true for people who are positive.

People with tons of friends have no trouble making more friends and people who rise to leadership roles have no trouble moving up wherever they go.



It’s similar to the Bible passage Mt 13:12 that says, “For whoever has, it shall be given to him, and he shall in abundance.”

Its as if once you’ve trained your brain to do something, it naturally goes about doing it regardless of whether you are aware of it or not.

I recently saw this theory unfold while I was shooting on a set with John Bich Sy Vuong.

John is the owner and shooter at Blue Angel Photography.

He asked me to come along to help him with a family portrait shoot.



As photographers, we love to setup the setting, lighting, and subjects to coincide with our vision.

Since the family portrait shoot consisted of a family of five (father, mother, 2 boys, and a girl) the photographer’s job is to pose this family of five in the most heartwarming way.

Normally, a shoot would typically last 3-4 hours, but ours lasted 6 hours

This was due to an unforeseen challenge that always pops up in every shoot.

Only this time, the unforeseen challenge happened to be a 4 year old.



The boy wasn’t too happy at that moment.

He wanted to watch his cartoons or get on the computer to play his games.

He didn’t like the fact that we were in his home either, these two strangers with big photographic equipments.

The fact that all his family was looking at him disapprovingly, didn’t help his state of mind either.

So when we asked him to pose for us, he wasn’t going to oblige.



First, it began with defiance.

He would run around, go find some food, and fidget during the whole shoot.

Then, when we forced him into a certain pose for the next shoot, he decided that he had enough and expressed his frustration the only way a 4 year old knows how.

He cried.

He cried and he cried and when he wasn’t crying, he made sure to communicate his displeasure with a sour face.



His dad was extremely frustrated with his son.

He yelled, he threatened, and even tried bribery.

None of it worked.

Soon the dad was just as frustrated as his kid.

Great, now we have two unhappy family members.



At that moment, John the main photographer stepped in to intervene.

Family members with sour looking faces don’t make good pictures.

Not to mention that his reputation is on the line.

Who would want to book a photographer who take pictures of family members with sour faces?

Anybody could do that, John got the job because he was known to be better than just anybody.



John’s method of intervention was actually very creative.

Instead of allowing everyone’s frustration to escalate, he directed everyone’s attention to something else.

He started with the kid.

He gave the kid a little bell with stick.

He asked the kid to hit it as hard as he could.



As the boy was enjoying his new toy, John asked everyone to applaud.

“Hey look at him, he knows how to play an instrument. That’s awesome!”

Everyone played along and started clapping, even the father.

In a matter of minutes, the atmosphere within the house changed from one of frustration to one of applaud.

With the boy’s focus on the bell, John gave it to me and asked me to move behind him while he was taking pictures.



The boy kept on looking at the bell.

He wasn’t in a sour mood anymore.

He was anticipating the next time he could get his hands on the bell.

And just like that, John started shooting away.

After a couple of shots, he would ask me to give the bell to the boy to satisfy his curiosity and we were good to go again.



John ended up getting all the pics he needed.

John turned the tides into his favor through the rule of “focus”.

Whatever you focus on, its gets bigger.

When the boy was in a sour mood, everyone started focusing on the boy’s bad behavior.

The father started yelling at him, threatening him.



Everyone’s eyes were on him, waiting for him to get in place so they could be done with the shoot.

The boy already didn’t want to be there in the first place, but now that everyone unhappy with the him, it made him feel worst.

When you focus on the boy’s negative aspects, it makes him feel worse, and when he feels worse you can’t expect him to put on a smile.

He cries, he throws a fit, he sits in the corner feels bad about himself.

But look what happens when John started to ask everyone to focus on the positive.



Give the boy a toy that he can play with and ask everyone to encourage the boy when he plays with it.

Clap for the boy, hug the boy, and praise the boy.

Do anything to make him feel that he is doing a good job.

The boy felt good about himself and he also felt everyone around him was happy with him.

It was much easier for the boy to put up a smile now that he is in a good mood.



When you focus on the positive of what the boy can do, he feels positive.

When he feels good and we encourage the family to praise the boy, the boy feels good about everyone.

So now, whenever anyone ask him to do anything, he happily obliges.

When you focus on the negative, your attention feeds the negativity and it grows.

When you focus on the positive, your attention feeds the positivity and that grows.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,