Monthly Archives: December 2012

I dunno

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

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The more you think you know, the more prideful you are, the less you will depend on God. Not being a know-it-all, keeps you humble.

When I started ministry in Guatemala, I knew pretty much everything (or so I thought). By the time, I finished 16 years later, I didn’t know hardly anything. I had stubbed my toe more times than I can remember.

When he started playing football for UCLA my pastor, Rob Scribner, fought for a spot on the team. He stayed home, studied his

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Photo Pinterest

plays and studied his Bible. He got the spot. In his second year, he studied his plays and his Bible a lot less and spent more time enjoying his “celebrity status.” His game didn’t immediately dive, but it sure didn’t skyrocket like that first year.

He who comes to prayer, desires wisdom and direction from God. At the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica, we have prayer at 6:00 a.m.

Wreck-It Ralph fixes

imagesPassing through the power cables at an old school video arcade from one game to another, a hulking, 9-foot tall wrecker named Ralph strikes up a friendship with feisty, pint-sized girl racer named Vanellope. Because she’s a images-2“glitch,” they won’t allow her to race with the other girls in Candyland.

This charming movie has won my heart because it’s about relationships. No one hardly is aware of others’ experiences images-1with rejection. In one scene, Fix-It Felix Jr. whines to his villain counterpart Ralph about suffering unrequited love. “You wouldn’t know anything about it,” he complains.

“Yes, I do,” Ralph responds. “It’s the story of my life everyday.”

02WRECKIT1_SPAN-articleLargeFelix’s countenance softens. He finally understands that the “bad guy” in his game feels left out by the others. The heart-warming takes place on various levels of conflict and misunderstanding.

images-3The story is highly imaginative and the interaction between video game characters, both known and unknown to gamers, is delightful. The movie is a gem amidst the piles of rubbish churned out by Hollywood. The plot never images-4bores. (Most movies make my eyes glaze, and I usually just walk out of the room from boredom.)

Wreck-It Ralph is more than just a great children’s movie. It is absolutely a contribution to humanity. Wreck-It Ralph wrecks buildings but fixes friendships.

 

I’m the Q. She’s the U.

IMG_1706

With the whole family

With the whole family

No resume polishing here.

I couldn’t have been the 16-year missionary without Dianna — she’s the heroine. She’s given unconditional support through 22 years of marriage and ministry. She’s tightened the belt. She’s shouldered burdens. She’s always IMG_0963had a good attitude.

Since we got back to the States, SHE HAS WORKED to support me while I continue to minister. More than a few would call me (and it hurts) a flake, a loafer.  I pursue the dream while she pursues the paycheck. (Working in ministry usually implies sacrifice. For every mega pastor abusing the system with an eye-popping salary, there are 10,000 pastors living at poverty level just to help people, but they don’t get the press.)

IMG_0920I’m the Q and Dianna’s the U. Without her, I’m completely useless. She’s the other half orange that makes me a whole orange (as they say in Guatemala). Any applause for me must be deflected her way.

This tribute also seeks to be an exhortation: Pastors, may the New Year bring more appreciation from you for your wife.

Reinvent yourself

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

Has life been beating you up?

Has life been beating you up?

I was something of a Christian cop. I actually believed it was my job to ease people back to the right path if they took one false step. I wasn’t really popular. More accurately, people were riled, and they almost expelled me from ministry.

I needed to change, to evolve, to retool. I didn’t need some computer-aided enhancements; I needed major plastic surgery.

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Politicians reinvent themselves if they lose an election and reformulate for another try. It takes a lot of gut-wrenching soul-searching. Basically, you look at yourself and — instead of justifying your actions, which comes natural to everyone all the time — you look critically in the mirror. You take out a machete and begin hacking away. Then you CHANGE.

This metamorphosis makes every tissue in your soul shudder. This coming year — instead jotting down flimsy

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

halffull“resolutions” that get jettisoned shortly after takeoff — go from worm to butterfly.

Your marriage needs it. Your ministry. Your kids need to see a totally different you. Your boss is giving you just one last chance. You’re going to be responsible. Patient. Kind. Unselfish. Not angry. Whatever. You CAN do it.

Well, my popularity rating has shot up. I don’t think I’m the favorite person in the church, but I’m no longer the Mr Scowlface. I encourage you for 2013, make drastic change.

Less than two and a half men

Pastor Ralph played Scrooge in the Lighthouse Church's recent play

Pastor Ralph played Scrooge in the Lighthouse Church’s recent play

Prayer brings a sparkle of beauty to ugly surroundings -- photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Prayer brings a sparkle of beauty to ugly surroundings — photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Today there are more than 100 churches in West Africa from our mission. Twenty-five years ago, there were only two.

Two men sparked raging revival from Sierra Leone when it was the second-poorest nation in the world. Pastor Alvin Smith planted a church in Freetown. Pastor Ralph Bowen planted a church in Kabala.

Photo thanks to Barnstorming

Photo thanks to Barnstorming

Now their progeny are pastoring in nations scattered across Western Africa — one is even pastoring in France! What fired such unimaginable revival? Prayer did.

Part of the reason why they had such success was because they yosemite6basically had no other resource outside of prayer.

I remember my own foray into missions. We lacked finances. So what could I do? I could pray — that is all. And so pray I did. And God bonfired revival for us!

Photo thanks to Candy Concourse

Photo thanks to Candy Concourse

Nobody wants scarcity. But scarcity was a blessing. As a matter of fact, prayer brought in great resources!

Now, I live in the States. Inundated by resources, I struggle to break the lackadaisical attitude that chokeholds my mind.

wpid-picsart_mercifulwords-wordpress-com_-742Are you languishing in lack? Rejoice and pray! Is abundance suffocating you? Cry out to God that the blessing may never replace the Blesser.

Prayer drove all great revivals in the past. Prayer will drive them today.

Knowing, not knowing

ATT0022917Knowing what God can do, we don’t know what God can do.

ATT001842That’s why we go to prayer — not out of compulsion or religiosity — but out of wonderment. What unimaginable answer will God produce? The world’s greatest fiction writer couldn’t think up what God does.

Sometimes, you go for a long stretch without seeing ATT001966an answer. Then out of the blue, God moves dramatically, unexpectedly, unforseen. And then praying is gratifying. He is at work always; we do not perceive always. We win at the end, after the enemy has ATT0022315scored so many points that a lopsided victory seems sure.

I think Los Angeles is the city most like Gen. 1:2 — formless and empty, (with) darkness… over the surface of the deep. Out of Los Angeles, has come corruption-propagating

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

entertainment to poison the world. They may have built this city on rock and roll, but the prayer warrior rebuilds it on prayer. Not only is there Hollywood here, there is also Azusa Street.

A friend of a friend, a super model and an actress, has cancer and is now praying and reading her Bible. When the mask breaks up, you turn to something of true value. Prayer has brought her to Christ and is bringing her to Christ.

 

The real reason…

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

… you didn’t get so many gifts this year, is not the recession.

May the gift of laughter — as well as the gift of gratitude — be with you this year. Merry Christmas!

(That pesky NRA!)

 

No room in my home

WinpyChristianLast night at church, the pastor issued a plea for a new couple, Jose and Mary, who were evicted and needed a place to stay until they get back on their feet. They are just recently moved here, and she’s pregnant — nine months. Can you believe that?

Why would they get pregnant without lots of dough stashed away in the bank? They no doubt don’t have health insurance, so it’s a typical case of taking advantage of the system. People need to be more responsible and stop looking for handouts.

I am voting for our family to NOT pitch it. We can’t simply help every time there’s a need. The way I see it, every  dime that goes to charity is one less for my Christmas presents, and I’m hoping for the biggest haul ever this year!

Why don’t Mary and Jose go to THEIR parents. I’ll bet not even Santa Claus will give them anything. They probably didn’t behave themselves.

But the worst thing is that Mom and Dad talked about letting them stay at our house, at least on the couch. That’s creepy! Can you imagine running into the living room to open my goodies bright and early Christmas morning — and these strangers are there. What if they run off with the gifts during the night and disappear? Let them go to some homeless shelter to give birth there.

**** “Manual,” the fictitious persona of the Wimpy Christian, thanks the Wimpy Kid for his attitude and applies it to the church.

 

True joy

Shoes for Guatemalans

Shoes for Guatemalans

To my young mind, there was no doubt about it. Christmas was all about getting — as much as I could. A funny thing happened, that toy that looked like so much fun on the commercial… well , you know…

Helping One Voice divide up fruits and vegetables into bags for their Christmas baskets.

Helping One Voice divide up fruits and vegetables into bags for their Christmas baskets.

Something happened in the intervening years. I discovered the joy of giving. Disneyland was fun because it was fun to see my kids have fun. I gave even my life to the mission field — 16 years in Guatemala.

I just sent down a bunch of shoes. Poverty is such that shoes are among the hardest thing to come by for the natives (who work in our school and get paid a pittance because it is semi-self-supporting). My daughter is expert at firing through size, sex and price so that it didn’t become an hours-long ordeal.

My daughter played in the Scrooge drama put on by the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica

My daughter played in the Scrooge drama put on by the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica

Giving is more satisfying that getting. Try it this year. Instead of begrudging the lack of Christmas presents, volunteer at a food distribution center. We helped One Voice in Santa Monica prepare food baskets.

Jenny, at right, with my daughter. She's so shy that she doesn't smile in front of the camera.

Jenny, at right, with my daughter. She’s so shy that she doesn’t smile in front of the camera.

I just got off the phone with Pastor Ludving in Guatemala. His daughter, Jenny, has some problem with her eyes, but he stopped treating it with the doctor because of lack of money. All donations in December and January through my Donate option (PayPal) will go to her.

Beyond the Mayan Long Calendar and Carmaggedon

At Stonehenge, an end of the world party, yesterday

At Stonehenge, an end of the world party, yesterday

Even though I used to live in their mecca, the Mayan catastrophe yesterday failed to materialize. Now, would Roland Emmerich* please give everybody back their ticket money? We weren’t warned. We were swindled.

images-4When crews widened the 405 FWY  they shut it down for a full weekend in July 2011 and predicted traffic snarls all the way to Paris. Telling everyone to stay home, they said it would be “Carmaggedon.”

Ancient_Mayan_Ruins_Chichen_Itza_MexicoI had an outreach to drive to, and the freeways were entirely empty. The next day the newspapers stated that Angelinos, by NOT using their cars for the first time in their lives, had made the “ultimate sacrifice.”

apocalypse-30I took exception to that. The “ultimate sacrifice” no one I know would be willing to make: to die for a friend maybe, but to die lovingly, givingly, for an enemy, who would? The Christ of Christmas did.

IUltimateSacrifice16x20f you stockpiled food, water, gas and bullets for the much-vaunted Mayan cataclysm, give it to the poor (not the bullets). Because the real end of the world is coming, but it’s not Carmaggedon. It’s Armaggedon. What you’ll need most stockpiled is Jesus in your heart.

* Emmerich directed 2012, a special effects phenom that grossed $770 million. It was based on speculations of a Mayan Long Calendar-predicted apocalypse.

Friendship and coffee

images-2I posted a challenge to the existentialists. No one every responded. Maybe they don’t think I exist.

When I posted a challenge to the atheists, they responded with fury. They are a jolly group of friends, nice guys, all of them.

I have discovered that WordPress is a great place to make friends. I am impressed by the sincerity of people. Y’all are so heartfelt.

holiday-coffee-topimages-3One of the things I enjoy with friends is sharing coffee. The Native Americans smoked the peace pipe. Some people share a beer. I savor coffee. It’s my way of bonding, a ritual for communicating how much I value the person.

christmas-coffee-03Throughout 2012, I have had some wonderful conversations with you blogger friends. We have shared in struggles and triumphs, joys and depressions. But I’m afraid inviting you to coffee in Santa Monica would be seen as creepy, so have a coffee in wherever you are to friendship!

Booker T. Washington

220px-Booker_T_Washington_retouched_flattened-cropIt’s easier to get freed from slavery than to free your mind from slavery. Just look at the 23 kajillion times the Israelite former slaves complained about being freed from slavery and wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt.

When you see that, you realize how extraordinary was the life of Booker T. Washington. He was born in slavery, but his mind soared far away from his oppressed beginnings to the launching of the  black higher institution of learning Tuskegee Institute. He literally built it out of bricks of clay made by the first imagesstudents.

Freed by the end of Civil War, Washington moved to West Virginia where he worked in salt furnaces and coal mines to cost his education. An indefatigable leader, he took the reins of the fledgling Tuskegee and drove it relentlessly into prominence. Thousands of blacks, who were tuskegee-instituterefused admittance at “white” institutions, graduated from Tuskegee.

A dynamic orator, resourceful, a master deal-maker, Washington wheedled and images-1cajoled finances and genius for his institution. The stand-out scientist George Washington Carver was persuaded to join Tuskegee and, when Thomas Edison would entice him away, to stay.

To overcome insurmountable odds, to triumph through wit, wisdom and work, to line up allies and disarm enemies all in the service of a greater cause, this is the remarkable legacy of the man who remains an inspiration for generations. To live only for self is such a waste when you could do so much good.

Once you start, how do you stop?

The man behind the MustardSeedBudget ravenously devouring Christmas cookies.

The man behind the MustardSeedBudget ravenously devouring Christmas cookies.

IMG_1727These cookies my daughter bakes are soooo good. I never eat them; I flee them; they’re dangerous. But she insists that I must try. Reluctantly, I relent. They have more than chocolate chips: marshmallows and crackly red and green sugar crystals. Needless to say, the exquisite ecstasy produced instantaneous addiction. I threatened to NOT stop with the broken cookies. I would need a 12-step program to break off gobbling them up

I bet my friends of the photo blogs could take a much better picture of these delights.

I bet my friends of the photo blogs could take a much better picture of these delights.

One menacingly look from Rebekah was enough to deter me. When she was younger, she obeyed me. It’s biblical. But now that she is 16 years old, I have to obey her. No one warned me this switcheroo would happen. She’s enough for anyone to go cold turkey. As Rob’s friends know well, you don’t mess with Rebekah.

IMG_1730Becky has been making me feel less Grinch-like. When I was missionary in Guatemala, I was a gringo. But now, I’m a Grinch. Making the transition from belt-tightening missions to spendthrift USA has not been intuitive. She plays Christmas carols incessantly and prevailed on my wife to get a Christmas tree. So the effects have been to put me in the mood. And now, I just wanna wish everybody a Merry Christmas! My Savior was born (probably not on this date), and He could be your Savior too!

I guess I had better read my morning blog about exercise, now that these tantalizing temptations are beckoning. Where's Rebekah? I need to sneak another one!

I guess I had better read my morning blog about exercise, now that these tantalizing temptations are beckoning. Where’s Rebekah? I need to sneak another one!

Maybe we should report those cookies to DEA. You might be dreaming of a white Christmas, but I’m dreaming about green and red sugar crystals.

Anti-atrophy

images-1Muscle loss results from poor nutrition and disuse. Deprived of regular physical exertion, your bulk dwindles. Christians wish for a life without trials, but the result would be smaller spiritual muscles. So God ensures muscle growth, often through trials.

fitness_workout-routine-10-Good-Reasons-To-Exercise-Regularly.-black-womenFeed on the Word of God and insist on growing in the Lord; get out of your church comfort zone and take on new spiritual challenges, projects and goals. Those who dwell in your house go from strength to strength. – Psalm 84:4a, 7a NIV.

Don’t pray small

treeOften, the struggling pastor goes only for subsistence. He prays for just enough to pay bills and keep the church open. It’s true that God takes us through years of skinny cows, but He never wanted us to succumb to unbelief. He tells us to pray believing for ever bigger things. We fail to pass the test when we scale down our prayer requests, as if we ask too much, or as if God doesn’t want to give us. Bigger is in His interest because His kingdom grows. So go for something outrageously huge next prayer!

About That Whole Taking-God-Out-of-Schools Thing

Originally posted on Mile in My Moccasins:

Brant Hansen of Air1 Radio writes:

God isn’t “allowed” anywhere. He doesn’t need permission. He doesn’t need a hall pass from a teacher, and He doesn’t need to report to the office on the way in.

We didn’t “kick God out” of our public school system. We don’t have that kind of power, unless you’re such a big fan of the Supreme Court that you think God must first parse a majority decision to determine where He can go.

Thank you. I’ve been saying that all along, and now I don’t have to write my own blog entry about it. Ha. Read the rest of the article here.

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When lions are circling…

images-5Circling, circling around their prey, the hungry lions will overpower the man in an instant. The lions’ dungeon is capital punishment in the Persian Empire.

They stride steadily, eyeing the poor Jewish eunuch. At any moment, they will leap crush the helpless man with claw and tooth. Each minute seems like an eternity. And yet each minute passes and give way to another eternity. Strangely not a lion goes for the images-7kill. They menace, gaping hungrily at him. But the entire night passes, and they don’t eat Daniel.

Early in the morning comes the king, who was tricked into throwing his favorite administrator into this hellhole, to see if God delivered him. He calls, and Daniel responds: My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in lion-closeuphis sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king. – Daniel 6:22 NIV.

Similarly, trials are circling you. At every step, they threaten to sink you. Dont panic. Don’t run away. Don’t quit ministry. You only must remember how God delivered Daniel. Though the lions COULD overpower you, they WON’T. Pray and wait for the morning.

And then they blame God

Last seen in school in 1962.

Last seen in school in 1962.

When we kicked prayer out of school, we kicked out God. It’s no surprise that the devil showed up instead.

What I don’t understand is: if the atheists hail every extraction of God from our society, when they have succeeded in taking Him from people’s minds, then why do they blame God for

Increasingly seen in schools since then.

Increasingly seen in schools since then.

the result?

My heart grieves for the Connecticut school, and for Virginia Tech, and for Columbine, and for the ever more frequent, ever worsening list of massacres. Our intelligence agencies work feverishly to “connect the images-4dots” to thwart terrorist plots, but we refuse to “connect the dots” about the direction of our society.

Forgive me this post. But I am so distressed, I wish to call people everywhere to turn to God. Our nation will NOT improve until we find Him again.

Hometown criminal now preaches Jesus

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Pacoima was the city of Edgar’s downward spiral. It was there at age 13 he was arrested, high on PCP, trying to steal a car. It was there he was in-and-out-of jail until age 26. He got “two strikes” and under California law teetered on brink of life imprisonment. When he got out of jail, the specter of succumbing to his old life in this deathtrap of a city made Edgar shudder.

On Saturday, Edgar Cervantes went back to Pacoima. He went to tell others about the wonders of Jesus. For seven years, he’s been off drugs, away from alcohol, out of crime. He has outreached for Jesus in many

Edgar's nephews were in the audience.

Edgar’s nephews were in the audience.

places, but this was different. This is where the devil had waylaid him. This time Edgar went home get revenge on the devil.

There’s a pioneer church here so small they use a park childcare center for services. (Ah the beauty of pioneering! Where just one soul turning to Christ from sin thrills the soul!)

Junior, Edgar's nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

Junior, Edgar’s nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

After hours of passing out flyers and knocking on doors, only two souls came. One was Edgar’s brother. Another was a lady’s cousin. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. – Luke 15:7 NIV.

The place he feared became the place where the devil fears him. A place of defeat becomes a place of triumph. Only God can do this.

The purpose of trials

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

The purpose of trials is to build your faith.

To lead you to depend more on God.

Sadly, many instead lose their faith at this point. And they decide life is arbitrary, that there is no justice, no overarching design nor control, no

When life gets hard, look up.

When life gets hard, look up.

providence. Life is meaningless, they say. (Yet they still try to imbue it with meaning.)

Go back to God again and again until your trial turns to triumph.

Giving Birth to Rationality

Originally posted on Eclipsed Mind:

I randomly found this online and thought it was genius.  I don’t even feel the need to delve further into this topic.A916R3iCAAESMmn

Not believing in a Creator or God is like believing that an explosion happened in a printing press and a dictionary was the result.  Why be pessimistic and not believe that life has to have a greater meaning and that we – intelligent, rational and emotionally-driven creatures -  are not just a mere accident?

- A Soul Mercifully Alive

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Marriage is a lifetime commitment!

Originally posted on kouply:

Marriage is a lifetime commitment!

Communicate through the tough times and reconnect.

Photo credit: nelson-ftw.tumblr.com

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The Situation

Get the doubt out

Ben Rogers Blog 14Rene Descartes said cognition makes the man:  “I think; therefore, I am.” Mouse in The Matrix defined the essence of man as his fleshly impulses. Researchers of the brain tend to reduce such complexities as love to electrical/chemical reactions in certain regions of the brain.

The “essence” of man is none of these. His essence is “doubt.”

Mouse in The Matrix

Mouse in The Matrix

It is easier to doubt than believe. In many circles, doubting is seen as sophisticated. The pessimist is congratulated for his superior view of reality. Scoffers are popular. The human being becomes so easily discouraged. Feeding doubt comes natural.

George-Washington-Christmas-300x186George Washington lost seven consecutive battles before he scored his first victory, on a Christmas day when he surprised the celebrating (drunk) enemies. Thank God there were people who believed in (his superiors and his subordinates) enough to support him.

imagesHanukkah is a holiday remembering the dedication of the temple after the Barbarians had desecrated it. Let us honor this season by “dedicating” ourselves to believe more in God. Victory comes only to those who believe. To achieve anything worthwhile, you must believe.

Photo thanks to British Columbia ROCKS!

Photo thanks to British Columbia ROCKS!

Even I struggle to overcome doubt. What helps me? Christian friends and fellowship, hearing testimonies of what God has done, reminding myself of miracles, reading the Bible, praying. Neglect a bit the hubbub of Christmas and get alone with God. May the time we use to praise Him for His birth be not so much a time of commercialism but of faith-building.

 

Stay in the trenches

images-4 imagesThe newspaper profile said that a certain Guatemalan guerrilla refused promotion because he preferred fighting in the trenches over office generalship. His sentiment resonated with me.

In fact, I wonder why so many Christian leaders are actively seeking promotion to get out of day-to-day, gritty, face-to-face discipleship. Maybe, they want acclaim over the hard-but-rewarding work of forming disciples. Even when I was “general images-1pastor” in the Guatemalan churches and K-12 school, I taught 5th and 6th grade. Why? Because it kept me close to disciples.

Jesus ministered to the masses but discipled the dozen. It appears to me that a lot of Christian leaders just want the hoopla of the masses. images-3It may be more gratifying, but the masses did NOT carry on the work after His ascension. It was the 12.

Now, I’m not a higher-up, and I’m loving it. I teach high schoolers. It is sheer joy to see images-2some escape the headlong rush to Hell. It fills me with unending satisfaction see some decide to serve Jesus. However small my part, I know that I am doing what God wants.

We pray, then play

DSC_0676

Before the game, prayer in the circle

Before the game, prayer in the circle

MAR VISTA PARK – The origin of Lighthouse Christian Academy’s hard-fought soccer victory Friday was in the small Central American nation of Guatemala.

Sophomore Luis Secaira opened scoring in the 43rd minute, and Freshman Robert DSC_0793Ashcraft finished off the game in the 76th minute. Both were born in Guatemala.

At game three in the 2012-13 season, the varsity Saints are 2-0-1.

DSC_0684After both teams stale-mated in the first half, fleet-footed Secaira put Lighthouse ahead early in the second half. Chasing an audacious through-ball from Stopper Tori Scribner, he bolted past Wildwood defense, rounded the goalie, slotted gently into the net — and fell down, the wind knocked out of him by an opponent’s elbow at the start of the 40-yard dash.

Lighthouse fans — out in force for the proximity of the playing field — erupted in cheers. They were already savoring a second DSC_0717victory, after a dismal season with no wins last year.

But the elation turned to anxiety 13 minutes later as Wildwood struck on a free kick just outside of the area, and the ball was headed into the Saints’ net.

DSC_0770Tied at 1-1, both teams fought an exhausting battle to move forward into striking range. Wildwood was unlucky to see hard-won penetration frustrated as a low shot on the far post bounced out and was cleared.

DSC_0742Meanwhile, the Saints relied mostly on counter-attack with the mind-boggling speed of forward Wyatt Hodgson, a tenacious competitor and natural athlete.

With four minutes to the final whistle, midfield magician Elijah Symonds – a.k.a. the human catapult – hurled a throw-in into the area. Surrounded by three defenders, Rob headed the ball backwards and into the net.

Wildwood players scrambled frantically for DSC_0737the equalizer. When the ref called the game, the Saints broke out in celebration. “We’re undefeated,” chimed Tori, who played nearly faultlessly.

While the Guatemalans scored the goals, at the DSC_0720other end of the field a Mexican American was ensuring the victory. Ace Goal-Keeper Adrian Brizuela blunted Wildwood attacking weapons with intelligent, hair-raising saves.

DSC_0655The freshman threw himself time after time with nervy kamikaze dives that only the most fearless goalies pull off.  While saves at both ends of the field were almost equal (Saints 7, Wildwood 6), the types executed by Adrian were technically more difficult — and gutsy.

Playing co-ed against all boys, the Saints gave a lesson in mental fortitude and doggedness. Refusing to tire, they dug deep to find the inner resources to grab the victory in what was their sternest test to DSC_0757date. With every match, improvement can be seen.

Looming ahead on Tuesday is the biggest challenge yet: the speed demons and master-class passers of Vista Mar. Can Lighthouse with half a team of beginners muster enough grit, concentration and determination to wrangle out a satisfying result?

**** Pictures thanks to Susie and Jennifer Scribner!

Prayer is counterintuitive

images-1You get what you put into it.

NOT!

At least not with prayer. Our whole American outlook is results come in proportion to work. But after years of arduous labor on the mission field with little to show for it, I was ready to try prayer.

images-2 images-3When I did, the ministry skyrocketed.

Don’t get me wrong. I always prayed. But when I really started to prayer, longer, more earnestly, less perfunctorily, then things took off. We got a building. Ministry multiplied. It took me basically a decade to learn to desist from so much of MY labors and allow God to do HIS labors. Prayer is the key if you don’t want to be spinning your wheels.

Americans view the world like muscle-building. The harder you work, the more cut the six-pack. That’s why prayer is imagescounterintuitive. You get results without working — only by praying. I’m not saying you stop outreach altogether and close yourself up in your church and commune with God. What I am saying is you can do less human activity if you get more divine activity going.

Jesus didn’t only outreach. He spent entire nights just praying.

Scheduled victory

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Rob and Adrian were decisive

Adrian and Rob were decisive

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

People are congratulating “my” 9-2 win last night. I just shrug. The truth is that “I” didn’t win with Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer.

The AD did.

The AD — Athletics Director, for those who don’t know the lingo — won the game. She scheduled it.

Pretty much all I did was shuffle our lineup so as to NOT score any more goals. In the first 20 minutes — one-fourth of the game — we had made 7 goals. So to lessen the humiliation for the other team, I pulled off good players and threw on beginners. I pulled attackers back into defense.

The lopsided victory was no coaching genius. It was guaranteed even before we started simply because we had superior players.

It felt like the gospel. God as AD schedules us trials that we are destined to win. We may celebrate on the field, but it was God who ordained everything to begin with.

To be sure, God schedules defeats for us too. To teach us humility, patience, effort, dependence on Him, etc.

You can have your cosmovision of universal randomness. I like being a Christian.

Look to learn from anyone

praycoupleNino slept during my class. If not asleep, he was combing his hair. He didn’t turn in homework. Needless to say, this did not ingratiate him with me.

Then, he taught me a valuable lesson. He was talking about racism. Our school embraces people from all backgrounds. He was attacking inappropriate jokes.

prayAsiantoddlerHe explained how African Americans “empower” themselves by using the N-word. Previously, I didn’t understand why the oppressed used the word of oppression. Nino explained that by employing the evil word in jest, they are stepping on it and affirming their triumph over it.

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I rejoice to see that my kids make friends with kids of all races without even apparently noticing. Yet racism remains a problem for our nation. If you google “attractive people” on images, you’ll see a disproportionate amount of whites. Nino says this is because they’re the “de facto” definition of beauty. Strides must be taken to continue to correct the evils of racism.

Everyone has something to teach, no matter how they comb their hair or what irksome habits they have. Every single human being on the planet has a valuable insight, if we will only take the time to listen.

Richard Wurmbrand tells of being tortured for Christ

imagesOut of 14 years in jail under the Communists in Romania, I spent three years alone in a cell 30 feet below ground, never seeing sun, moon or stars, flowers or snow, never seeing another man except for the guards and interrogators who beat and tortured me.

I seldom heard a noise in that prison. The guards had felt-soled shoes, and I did not hear their approach.

images-1I had no Bible, or any other books. I had no paper on which to write my thoughts. The only things we were expected to write were statements accusing ourselves and others.

During that time I rarely slept at night. I slept in the daytime. Every night I passed the hours in spiritual exercises and prayer. Every night I composed a sermon and delivered it (to myself).

I had a faint hope that one day I might be released…

images-2To be in a solitary cell under the Communists or the Nazis is to reach the peak of suffering. The reactions of Christians who pas through such trials are something apart from everything else.

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Blogger’s Note: I stumbled across this book With God in Solitary Confinement, with the most unattractive cover, and discovered a gem we need to remember. God’s servants are suffering greatly around the world. They are an inspiration for us to live more whole-heartedly for the Lord. He died in 2001.

Poverty is not so bad

Friends and church are better than...

Friends and church are better than…

We enjoyed life while sustaining much self-denial as missionaries in Guatemala. I worried about IF I would be able to get deodorant. For the kids, a new pair of shoes only once every six months. The menu was beans and rice — and when you got tired of that, you could have rice and beans. It’s really not as bad as you might imagine.

My daughter at right.

My daughter at right.

There are other things in life that are more important than nice clothes, nice food, nice car. For example, having a loving and fun family is great. Serving a cause, though not applause, is another. True friends, a vibrant church, soccer. Hey, if you have enough to eat, ain’t got no complaints.

With my in-laws, eating out -- something we never did on the mission field

With my in-laws, eating out — something we rarely did on the mission field

Of course, we didn’t suffer poverty like the Guatemalans do. But even they seem to enjoy life through it. On the other hand, a lot of rich Americans are plagued by anxiety. Will I have enough when I retire? The Guatemalan doesn’t have enough now. Anxiety is worse than poverty.

This is the richness of my life! I teach these students at Lighthouse Christian Academy.

This is the richness of my life! I teach these students at Lighthouse Christian Academy.

Don’t be afraid of following your dreams, even if it is not the course of ambition. My family has been back in the States now for two-and-a-half years now, after 16 years in Guatemala. I suppose we could still be classified as “living in poverty.” My wife drives a 99 Ford Escort; I call it our Lexus. Why not make jokes and have fun?

What if…

Originally posted on She's Adopted:

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(Spoiler alert)

Spoiler2

Thanks to Zecqi re-Ver(sing) Verses for the art text box. I dig her stuff.

 

Now Carry On…

Originally posted on Ari Speaks:

Just a little word of encouragement for today.  Whatever’s going on in your life, you can get through it!

 

This is what I’ve been doing lately…

  I hope to be back to SPEAKing really soon!  I’ll have updates about the book and much more! Miss you guys! 

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

–Ari Speaks

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