Monthly Archives: December 2012

I dunno

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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.