Category Archives: Financial Talk

How the Lord can Bless you!

Stop the war (in your marriage)

marriage war

Bring back the lightheartedness, the laughter, the rush of romance, the sensation of feeling in love.

If you have banned that from your marriage, if you evolved through a business-like partnership into dwelling on faults, you are in danger. It is hard for any marriage to survive where love has turned to bitterness and anger.

Without the delicacy and delight, with difficulty a marriage may survive. But where love is renewed and refreshed with romance, it may grow through the years.

Make love, not war.

Be grateful

be gratefulAs a wordsmith, I’ve always envied the simple and compelling power of pictures. This one, of a gaunt, starved African child’s hand, speaks volumes to Westerners about the blessings we take for granted. No matter how poor you are, compared to other nations, you are rich, simply because you live in the First World. We ought to be grateful for the blessings GOD has bestowed on us.

There is no I in team work

Originally posted on osarobohenry:

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Cowardice

cowardice | AbrahamHe defeated a vast enemy army with 300 guys just to rescue his nephew. He wandered off from his homeland following his dream, his call. He braved 1000 woes and adversities.

Then he wimped out. When Abraham entered Egypt, he worried they’d kill him to get his wife. So he told her to lie, to say she was his sister. Instead of standing up for his wife, Abraham decided to sacrifice his wife to save his own skin.

The same despicable cowardice he repeated when he moved into Gerar. He told Sarah to lie again to Elimilech. (I guess Sarah was really beautiful.)

Ugh! Ugly stuff.

Sin is always ugly. We tend to see it as delightful — and we see God as a killjoy. But really, sin destroys people. It hurts others. It hurts ourselves.

Because of cowardice, we go with the flow with the world (it takes courage to be a Christian!). Because of cowardice, we are afraid to give to God, we are embarrassed to call ourselves Christians. We cover up our sins instead of confessing and repenting. We hold our tongue when we should speak up against injustice.

Other sins covered in this series so far:

Revolutionize your life (one small decision at a time)

revolutionize your lifeThis world is mean. If you obtain bad results, it criticizes you virulently. It casts you off.

But if you start to get a victory — a small victory — nobody says anything. So you may need to congratulate yourself for every small good thing you do:

  • you passed up the donut
  • you didn’t yell at your wife
  • you turned off the television and did something productive
  • you didn’t take a swig of alcohol.

Since no one is taking the time to pat you on the back, let this blog be your congratulations! Woo-hoo! I’m impressed for you! Keep it up, and soon, no one will recognize you. Your critics will fade away. You’re on the road to success.

Short-lived savors of glory

world cup trophyAnd so it goes. Four a few hours, the squad of German players who attained World Cup glory could caress the $10 million, 14-pound, 18-karat gold trophy.

Then after posing with the most-coveted sports prize in the world, it was taken from them and locked away. Two previous cups have been stolen, and FIFA guards against further theft.

Germany’s name was carved on the base with “2014.” Germany only gets a gold-plated replica.

Such anticlimax exposes this world’s essential hollowness. Jesus warns that the treasures you store here can corrupt or get stolen. If not, you can’t take it with you when you die — even if you put it in your coffin — because you (your spirit) won’t be where your body is.

Jesus tells us to work for rewards in Heaven.

And the German squad? They have bragging rights. That might last them for their lifetime.

Why I teach at Lighthouse


Only one minute video. No further words needed. This is what we strive untiringly to do.

A return to the beginning

image from darrellcreswell.wordpress.com

image from darrellcreswell.wordpress.com

In the beginning, this blog was very narrowly focused on a niche: encouraging pastors and leaders to pray for finances for their ministry. But as I interacted with the blogging community, I was drawn into reaching out with non-thematically related posts.

I believe I will be returning to the Mustard Seed Budget theme. I believe I will start pioneering a church again. So praying for finances to cover costs will start to figure large in my life again.

Everyone loves Psalm 23. But I was struck just now how it basically starts with finances: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. God will take economic care of his people.

Since returning four years ago from the mission field (where I was almost 16 years), my wife and I have done a lot to try to re-establish ourselves in the States. The transition has not been easy. We started with no money. Thank God for a nearby church that gave us food right when we had none.

Isn’t it interesting that this famous Psalm, which many recite for consolation, starts with finances? That shows how important is God’s care of us!

Actually, the Psalm also ends with a promise of financial blessing: Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all my days. The verb pursue is used everywhere else in the Old Testament to refer to an army in pursuit of a retreating enemy. David is saying that he WON’T be pursued by soldiers, debt, problems. He WILL be pursued by goodness and mercy.

Africa medical mission report 1

BANJUL, THE GAMBIA — From Southern Italy to California to West Africa, Dr. Kevin White’s participation on the Lighthouse Medical Mission is as improbable as it is unusual.

Africa medical missions

Dr. Kevin White in Africa medical mission.

On March 31, Dr. White, a cardiologist and two nurse practitioners attended to 300 patients here, kicking off a clinic that is likely to grow in numbers and seriousness of cases as the week progresses.

A pediatrician from Ventura, Dr. White was a chef carousing in Naples in 1985 when he woke up on a park bench to see an Anglican Church. Surprised to see such a thing in the land of Catholicism and wanting to hear some English, he stumbled in — to find his life totally change through Jesus.

Now instead of serving alcohol, he wanted to serve humanity, so he studied dietetics on the American East Coast, then medicine. When he diagnosed an old missionary from Africa with malaria, the patient told Dr. White that God wanted him in Africa.

So Dr. White set up practice in Southern California with the exclusive purpose of raising money to fund his twice-yearly forays into the Dark Continent. He leads teams from his church. Now, two-thirds of his family is in The Gambia with him — as is two-thirds of his office.

beautiful African children

That’s me with the kids. I fell in love with the kids!

“This is the week I go broke,” quipped Dr. White, who left only one doctor behind manning his office. He now is attending three times as many patients as his busiest day is America — 100 patients a day. The need is critical, and West Africans don’t have access or finances for quality medical attention.

On Monday, there were patients with pain, a snake bite, and a keloid. Though the Lighthouse Medical Missions coordinates logistics with local churches, all are welcome to the free clinics. Gambia’s huge majority is Muslim.

I came to observe and report on their activities. I’m impressed with the level of compassion in every team member’s heart. After a breakneck pace for eight hours, the nurses, high school students, nursing students, a retiree and others were still smiling.

On these trips, medical practitioners are a premium, but no one is useless. At the first hour, I was packing pills. Later I was praying for patients and then sweeping up. It seems not too many of our patients and a few of our volunteers didn’t understand the concept of a trash can.

I’m no stranger to the Third World. I was a missionary in Guatemala for 16 years. But even I had trouble plugging in the fan that didn’t have a plug; it was just two wires that were stuck into the outlet.

malaria pills

Don’t forget to take your malaria pills. (I kept forgetting.)

Try as I might, I couldn’t get them to stick, and the fan kept shutting off.That’s when Dr. White surprised me giving me the tip: Stuff two plastic ear speculas in with the wires to wedge them in. It worked, and doctor and patients enjoyed the breeze.

Yeah, he’s been to 17 Africa week-long trips since he started in 2004. But I was a missionary full time for 16 years in a developing nation. How does he know more than me?

I guess Dr. White’s a certified intrepid medical missionary.

If you would like to help pay for volunteers or medicines, or fund a water project, your tax deductible donation can be made at www.lighthousemedicalmissions.com

NOTE: This article originally appeared on the SantaMonica.Patch.com on April 1.

Comparisons are the worst: Part 2 on self-esteem

Discov ering self esteem

Unperceived by parents, teachers, friends, aptitude tests, my giftings were perfect for what God designed me for. I’m posing with kids in the Guatemala Christian school, Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.

My gifting was not appreciated by anyone in high school. I wasn’t that smart, wasn’t athletic, wasn’t socially adept. What was I? I was overly sensitive. In high school being overly sensitive is not a good thing because you’re no good at the interchange of crass teasing that especially goes on among boys.

I actually thought I lacked a special trait.

Then I discovered my call: to pastor, to be a missionary. And being very sensitive (to God and to others) was a premium. But when I was a kid and took aptitude tests designed to surface giftings, nothing registered.

colegio GuatemalaComparisons are the worst because God made you absolutely unique. This uniqueness is reflected in your fingerprints, in your DNA, in your emotional makeup, in your interests and passions. It flouts comparison. To compare yourself to others is to ignore your God-given talents.

There is only one you on te planet. God made you special to do something nobody else will do. Only you can get the job done. It’s pointless to desire somebody else’s job. ?God didn’t design you for that.

It’s an insult to God to wish to be someone different, to have their beauty, their intellect or their wit. If you are young, take it easy on yourself. Don’t criticize yourself harshly. Wait and see what comes of your life. Strive to do well in everything but don’t panic if others do better in you in many areas. Because in one area, you’re going to blow them away. That’s where you’re a winner.

Grace means…

Originally posted on earthy monk:

I think this about sums up what God was trying to tell me today…

graces purpose.

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God is the editor of your life

editorI’ve seen people fight editors. They want to write well. They foolishly think their prose is pure genius and needs no improvement.

I myself have done it. I wrote an article for the UCLA Daily Bruin. A friend shortened it and made it punchier. But I liked the original version. Why? Because it was mine. I reverted it. Years later, with more experience and wisdom, I regretted editing my editor.

I have also been an editor. It’s grievous to me to have writers resist the improvements I’ve made on their copy.

God is the editor of your life. An editor is not there to make you miserable or make you feel stupid. He’s only there to greatly improve your article.

It rains fish in desert places when God gets ready to bless you!

Originally posted on Walter Bright:

I am about to tell you a true story that will blow your mind. The country is Australia. The town is Lajamanu and it is about 400 miles south of Darwin and Alice Springs, almost on the edge of  the Tanami Desert in Australia’s northern territory. It was sometime in April or March of 2010 that hundreds of fish began to fall from the sky as rain fell over the town. Residents of this desert community were left speechless as fish – some frozen, others still alive fell from the sky. For seven days they ran all around town collecting buckets of fish  that had fallen from the sky.

A brief look at history will tell us that this incident was not unique to this Australian town:

  • In the 1st century there were storms of frogs and fishes.
  • In 1794 French soldiers reported toads falling from the sky.
  • In 1857: Sugar crystals as big as quarter  of an…

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Thanks

thank

Waking Up

Originally posted on when daisuke do blogging:

Waking Up

Trials doesn’t come to break you, sometimes it’s to wake you up.. :)

>.<

Oh, I miss writing, T_T just a little busy this week for the requests came to me. They have the same deadlines. My head aches thinking how to finish these. But thanks to God for the wisdom and strength. Two people request for a wedding invitations and two magazine layout for school projects. Need to cheer up myself and say, Ganbatte! Daisuke! Do your best! Daisuke! :)

You, how’s everyone doin’ these past few days? Hope you’ve been well… I’m missing reading your blogs. :(

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Who were you supposed to be?

Originally posted on RozezandAngelz's Blog:

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Did you ever once tell yourself you would end up somewhere different? That you would be happy?

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Finances for your ministry: a Vacation Bible School boon

finances for your ministryI don’t like expensive church activities, so when Brenda Bowen announced a $10/week vacation Bible school, I was overjoyed.

Brenda Bowen

Trained in utter poverty of African missions, Brenda Bowen delivered ministry that excluded no one from the salvation message.

There would be hardly any money for the snacks, the crafts and all the activities that were to be done. I was drafted for a couple of skits, one of which was clowns with my son and another boy. What fun!

But since God is great, the project finished with $80 extra — not the shortage I imagined impossible to avoid. This is God’s provision for His ministry.

If you are working to save souls, you can expect God to take care of you. Like Peter who hauled in a net-wrenching haul of fish when there were none in the lake, so God will multiply and make something out of nothing. When you pray for finances, believe and wait expectantly.

Faith

Originally posted on Karina's Thought:

Faith 2

Faith is not result of striving;

It is results of surrender.

Bill Johnson

Photo credit : sunset in Bali,Indonesia by Kevin Lam

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I WISH PEOPLE REFER TO THE MUSTARD SEED MORE (THAN THE MOUNTAIN)

Originally posted on SelahAfrik:

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

- Matthew 17:20

mustard-seed1

At times it feels like the wall is closing up on you and there is so way out. The trial becomes as real as it was to Job and in the midst of that storm you cannot even phantom how you will find a way out or if God can even make a way.

I have learnt — through experiences — that it always feel impossible until it is done, that’s why they call it a miracle.

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God’s grace

God's grace

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Don’t be too busy: how to pray?

Don't be too busy: how to pray?

Wrong Side of History? (The Death of DOMA)

MustardSeedBudget.wordpress.com:

She was raised by two mothers, so what she speaks carries incredible credibility. We love homosexuals, but they are sinners just like the rest of us.

Originally posted on asktheBigot:

The High Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) today.  The decision was celebrated by tweets and bloggers who are again announcing that those who support natural marriage are on the “wrong side of history.”  Public opinion on the issue of gay marriage is changing, no doubt aided by the overwhelming media bias. Unless some drastic awakening occurs in our country, gay marriage will likely be the law of the land within a decade or two. So, am I on the “wrong side of history”?  If the purpose of marriage is to fulfill the desire of adults, then I most assuredly am.  But, if there is a purpose to marriage DOMAoutside of what the individual adults want, then best not bend to the un-American identity politics of our day and stand for right, however unpopular.

Two (or three or four for that matter) individuals may share love, finances…

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Keeping prayer in the trunk…

MustardSeedBudget.wordpress.com:

This explains everything succinctly!

Originally posted on Fashioned With Purpose:

Is prayer your steering wheel or your

spare tire?

-Corrie Ten Boom

spare-tire-photo-2

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Mimi’s miracles

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

Mimi, always so vibrant and full of life, at left, with her mother and older sister.

Because Mimi was born with two spinal cords, her parents came from the countryside to Guatemala City for successive surgeries. First doctors saved her life. Then they helped her to walk. Eventually she gained control of her bladder. She would have been identical twins but the zygote only partially split.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

Pastor Ludving leads the church and school heroically, at great personal sacrifice.

Ludving and Nelly wound up attending my church. Ludving was about to buy some alcohol to drown sorrows when he heard the praise music and came in. He didn’t get saved. He had already accepted Jesus. The worship exhilarated and lifted him out of despair. They came to the church.

The Door Church in Guatemala City

The Door Church in Guatemala City

When he decided to do something, Ludving never did it half-way. Right decision after right decision led the couple to hosting, then pastoring, a pioneer church. When thugs chased me off, the Holy Spirit pointed to him as the man to take over.

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

Pastor Ludving with Mario Artiga

To my way of thinking, Mimi should be gloriously and completely healed by now. She is not. On Thursday, she is submitting to her umpteenth surgery, this time to correct kidney failure (she has four kidneys, but only one completely developed and only one works). Urine backflow from her bladder is poisoning her one good kidney.

Faith is not always a snap-of-the-fingers miracle. Faith is grinding out the healing over the long haul. I like the instantaneous variety. But not everything is quick like a fire-cracker. Mimi’s miracles have drawn out inexorably for 16 years, her age. The battle is raging dragging on, and the faithful keep mustering faith.

Ludving and Nelly

Ludving and Nelly

It’s pointless to ask why. Blaming God like an atheist solves nothing (although I suppose he feels high and mightily justified in his bitterness). That’s not what we want. We want final and complete healing for this precious girl.

Mimi is a spunky girl. Despondency affects her parents, her sister, me — but not her. Thanks for helping us pray for her. Let me know how I can help you pray for your needs.

 

When I passed the Porsche on PCH

When I passed the PorscheI drive a give-to-the-poor-missionary-back-from-Guatemala Ford Escort dredged out of Paleolithic strata. The sun has scorched off paint in places, the lining is falling down onto my kids’ heads.

When I passed a Porsche

My son liked this car at the autoshop

So when a Porsche stalled in front of me on Pacific Coast Highway at a stoplight, something inside of me wanted to shout as I roared past: “Get a real car!”

Hmmmmmm. Where did this envy come from? I thought I was free from that.

Sin has a way to lurk in when you least suspect.

When you pray for finances, you need to be on your guard against envy. What is your motivation? To bless others or to bless yourself? To keep up with Jesus or to keep up with the Joneses?

define-necessityGod promises to provide, but many times our idea of provision falls squarely into the realm of “want,” not “need.” It became popular among Christians a number of years ago to call ourselves “children of the King.” The logical conclusion is we want to live it up like princes and princesses. The biggest problem with this reasoning is how Jesus, being much more a Prince than us, lived in poverty: The Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20).

We can trust God to provide for our needs — and we ought to guard against confusing needs with wants.

Let your faith grow like the seed

  • Make faith grow
  • How to pray?
  • Prayers of the Bible
It may start small...

It may start small…

Actually, Gideon didn’t start out with a lot of faith. He doggedly doubted God. A splendorous vision of a heavenly angel didn’t sway him. A supernatural calling didn’t impress him. He argued with God. Then, he tested Him with a fleece. The first night, he asked it be saturated with dew and the ground dry, the second night the fleece dry, the ground wet.

God patiently built up his faith.

from Dump a Day

from Dump a Day

Don’t stress out about “lack of faith.” Just ask God to build it. Don’t strain trying to conjure faith. There’s no magical incantation to muster faith in the human heart. Faith comes from:

1) Reading your Bible and hearing it preached (Rom. 10:17)
2) Praying and experiencing God’s answers (John 4:48)
3) Focusing on what God has done in the past to encourage yourself on what God will do in the future. (Phil 4:8)

Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head – Mark 4:28-29 NIV.

You don’t make your faith grow. You can only provide optimal conditions for the seed — soil, sun, water, protection against plague and erosion. It’ll grow all by itself.

2 Corinthians 5:15

Originally posted on re-Ver(sing) Verses:

2 Corinthians 5:15 - And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:15 | NIV | Other Versions | Context

Brief

It is Easter today, but Easter is not really a very commercialized or publicized holiday where I am, and Easter this year is considerably earlier than usual, so to be honest, the Christ-has-risen message didn’t quite hit home. Hence this meditation, I guess, on the significance of Christ having risen. What did it mean? What does it mean, for us? In 2 Cor 5 Paul launched a passionate defense of the conduct of the apostles [2 Cor 5:12], and clarifies that the way they live is solely down to the staunch belief that this was the reason why Christ died on the cross for them [2 Cor 5:14-15] –…

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Even more impossible: prayer’s power

  • How do I pray effectively?
  • Prayers of the Bible
  • Pray for finances
  • Inspiration for prayer

First they were 32,000. Then they were 10,000. Then they were 300.

8ac8d84fb90e993cd71eeca974a98e24The shocking attrition was actually good news. If Gideon had too many, Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved Me (God)’ Judges 7:2 NIV. By making victory even more impossible, God assured He’d get the praise.

If your situation is steeply difficult, don’t despair. Don’t calculate “possibility.” A miracle, by definition, is contrary to natural law and contrary to reasonable explanation. Do you have:

  1. church rent due with no foreseeable income to cover it?
  2. big dreams and small budgets?
  3. restrictions on what you can do for God due to finances?

Rejoice! When Gideon won against the Midianites, everybody got whooped up! Don’t glower, don’t be glum. God is going to move! Just pray with faith! Watch and see! Act and know that God will do what you cannot!

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How to pray? Get inspired!

Moving music and exhilarating scenic photos combine with scripture to remind you about God’s creation, His power, His majesty in this inspiring video by http://www.PositivePrayers.com

I’m a big believer in getting inspired to pray. I find my prayer life becomes vibrant when either scripture or prose or praise lifts my spirit first.

Prayer is not a matter of saying the right words but having the right attitude. When your spirit soars on wings of eagles, it seems you pray overcoming prayers that make an impact.

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PB&J all day! (Prayer, Bible & Journal)

A reminder to pray, read you Bible and journal your dynamic walk with Christ.

Turn Your Face To The Sun

Terbinafine is fine

No, I'm not going to upload a picture of my yellow toe. You should be glad. It's gross.

No, I’m not going to upload a picture of my yellow toe. You should be glad. It’s not the most attractive thing. The lady is my better half.

I have to take this medicine for 3 months. Maybe 6.

Apparently, it won’t knock out quicker the fungus that turned my toe nail (excuse me, this is not for the squeamish) yellow.

My son Hosea.

My son Hosea.

If a medicine needs to treat consistently over a period of time to fully eradicate the infection, why do we expect prayers to revolutionize our lives instantly?

Compared to some of the infections in our souls, the toe fungus is a simple matter. It makes sense to me that we need to treat consistently and over a prolonged period some of the troubles besetting our hearts. Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come quickly.

It’s nice to see my toe turning flesh color again! It’s also nice to see my heart becoming less of a stone. For my heart, I’ve been praying for 33 years (not always consistently). Be patient with me. Jesus is not done yet.

Stay calm and keep praying.

Pray like never before

Originally posted on Faith. Hope. Love.:

pray
Credits to Lisa Bevere
 
Days are numbered and there is so much left to be done.
As I face my giants, I have to keep praying that things will overcome.
 
 

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‘All authority’ includes finances

With Gary Case, missionary extraordinaire, when he was on a layover at LAX. He's now in Japan pioneering a church

With Gary Case, missionary extraordinaire, when he was on a layover at LAX. He’s now in Japan pioneering a church

When you spearhead a ministry, the devil will resist you even with the rent. As a missionary paying a mortgage with a small church, I prayed a lot for finances. I discovered reading the Bible some incredible verses to pray. Here’s one:

Pastor Ralph and Brenda Bowen planted three churches in Africa during 20 years.

Pastor Ralph and Brenda Bowen planted three churches in Africa during 20 years.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, resurrected Jesus said in Matt 28:18. Typically, we Christians think of His authority over demons, over sin, over sickness, etc. We forget that “all” includes finances. He has authority to send finances.

My purpose, unlike so many other American Christian pastors, is NOT for you to pray for luxury. It is for you to NOT quit ministry because finances are

fellowship after church

fellowship after church

scarce. Don’t close the doors to your church just because you’re on a shoe-string budget. Instead, keep performing fruitful ministry and simply pray for God’s provision.

It seems people in America get twisted about praying for finances. Some think God doesn’t attend such matters. Others think it’s wrong. (Well, yes, greed is sin.) But when you have lived the day-to-day anxiety of will-we-make-it?, then you understand how praying for finances brings more than just peace of mind. It brings answers.

Famine? It’s YOUR moment

from I am Yoga

from I am Yoga

 

Don’t worry about the famine. It’s your chance to shine.

Joseph was rotting in the jail. If it weren’t for the famine, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show his strengths before Pharaoh.

If you are passing through a time of famine in your life,

  • don’t quit your strengths
  • don’t despair and give up
  • don’t give in to hopelessness
  • don’t lose patience
  • don’t stop believing in God and in yourself

Joseph was wrongly sold into slavery (by his brothers!?!!). Then he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. But he kept a good attitude and worked hard. As a slave, he was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household. As a jailbird, he made administrator of the prison.

150px-Sandboarding_in_DubaiSo when God sprung him, he was named vice president of all of Egypt. He kept his relationship vibrant with God and was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In his new post, Joseph prepared the nation for a coming 7-year famine that catapulted Egypt into world dominance and paved the way for the launching of the nation of Israel (with Egypt as its incubator).

What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God turned into good. Joseph instructed his brothers to not be overly angry at themselves for having sold him into slavery: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance – Gen. 45:7 NIV.

After failure

Not me. I don't smoke.

Not me. I don’t smoke.

Truth be told, I cried — after I hung up the phone. The Los Angeles Times editor fired me for a botched reporting job as his UCLA “stringer” in 1988. After four years of intensive training to break into journalism, was I hopeless?

Thank God for people who encouraged me (in the church).

A funny thing happened a few months later. The UCLA stringership* at the New York Times opened up, and my friend recommended me. I landed the spot and did a bang-up job. I got bylines and learned a ton from some really talented people. Because of my work, the New York Times scooped the Los Angeles Times in its own backyard a number of times**.

journalistsOf the two, the New York Times stringership was more prestigious. Of the two, it was a better learning experience. Of the two, it was a better resume booster.

If I hadn’t gotten fired, I wouldn’t have even been considered for the spot (because of conflict of interest). So the horrible experience turned out to be a great thing!

What you do at a failure is critical:

  • Get support from friends who love you
  • Pray
  • Learn to not make the same mistakes
  • Trust in God, not in your own wherewithal
  • Keep good friends; they are a network of opportunities in the future
  • Believe in yourself because not many in this world will believe in you

* a “stringer” is an onsite person, not a regular reporter or an intern, who produces occasional articles or does local interviewing to be incorporated in a bigger piece. The New York Times had a journalism student at each major university across the nation. They paid a small stipend, and the student got great experience.

** “scoop” in journalism you beat your competition, getting a news story out first.

An inside job

For a change, I'm actually posting a photo I took. This is Santa Monica's beach. Sorry. I don't mean to make my friends in the Northern States and Canada jealous.

For a change, I’m actually posting a photo I took. This is Santa Monica’s beach. Sorry. I don’t mean to make my friends in the Northern states and Canada jealous.

The motorcycles caught us 5 miles away from the bank. As one of four guys banged the window with a pistol demanding our bags, I had no doubt that it was the bank teller who tipped them off. He had changed our check to cash. Because all our information was in our bags, I figured they’d come back for a kidnapping, so we had to return to America, our 16 years as missionaries in Guatemala at an end.

My 10-year-old son, Hosea, calls this the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I bought these for the Lighthouse Christian Academy's sports banquet yesterday. Go Saints!

My 10-year-old son, Hosea, calls this the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I bought these for the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s sports banquet yesterday. Go Saints!

God does an inside job too! Don’t bother to make external changes in yourself — they lead to (false) religiosity. Instead, surrender to His Holy Spirit in prayer daily, and let God transform you from the inside. Once you are saved, you are forgiven, you are new creation, but then God begins a work of perfecting you that will continue for the rest of your life. But it’s on the inside.

Pastor Ludving from Guatemala sent me this T-shirt. Translated: Everyday I wake up handsome, but today I'm off the charts. Thanks for the joke, Pastor Ludving!

Pastor Ludving from Guatemala sent me this T-shirt. Translated: Everyday I wake up handsome, but today I’m off the charts. Thanks for the joke, Pastor Ludving!

In regards to prayer, remember:

  • A little bit is better than none, but God wants to work on us daily, so pray daily.
  • A little bit more will increment value and power to prayer.
  • The best prayers are ones inspired by the Bible or simply taken from the Bible. Jesus dismisses “vain repetitions” — mumbling by rote words penned by another. But there is much to learn and apply from the experts, the Bible heroes.
  • The Big D (that’s Devil) constantly bombards you with thoughts that prayer is useless, a waste of time, meaningless, etc. He does this because he knows how effective it is.
  • As you pray for others, God also is transforming you — from the inside out.
  • Enjoy prayer! Think of it as a romantic date. You are spending time with your Lover, God.

Out of pain, blessing

from blue pueblo

from blue pueblo

He was pain in the … But he got prosperity.

When Jabez was born, his mother despaired. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain” – 1 Chron. 4:9 NIV.

from Beautiful Mother Nature on Tumblr

from Beautiful Mother Nature on Tumblr

But he prayed. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request -- 1 Chron. 4:10 NIV. Prayer turned pain into prosperity.

Don’t:

  • play the victim.
  • feel sorry for yourself.
  • look for people to blame.

Do:

  • pray.
  • believe God to change circumstances.
  • look for people to support you in prayer.

Everybody wants bounty. The unavoidable path towards it is through difficulty, failure, reverses. Prayer carries you forward to the blessing.

 

 

Unpaid here

with my family

with my family

I became an actor briefly. It seemed like the logical thing to do to avoid the stigma of “unemployed.” Besides, this is LA — 60% of the people are actors, which means “unemployed.” I never took acting classes; I just declared myself an actor (it’s cheaper that way), and I no longer felt obligated to provide explanations for joblessness.

I'm hamming it up again.

I’m hamming it up again.

But soon I realized my folly. After all, I was a writer before I became an actor. About writers, let me say it is totally redundant and unnecessary to place the adjective “aspiring” in front of the word “writer.” Being a writer is another acceptable way of calling yourself “unemployed.”

with a Chinese friend. Man, is he serious!

with a Chinese friend. Man, is he serious!

Then too, I’m a prayer warrior. Boy, I keep chalking up the unremunerated professions, don’t I? At least here on Earth, it’s hard to get paid to pray.

Of course, in Heaven, it’s paid handsomely. Most people just don’t have the patience to defer their gratification that far into the future. (On second thought, given the brevity of life, maybe it’s not that long to wait for after all.)

But first you must invest

goal_1690382aLike other mortals, I was stunned by Barcelona’s 4-0 snuffing of AC Milan to blaze with canons firing into Champions League quarter finals.

d1cf09c4846b44ae9efbcf1b1e9ce6bb-e5cac050bd644db6b32f1d3af7fa3e1c-8With confounding feet, Leonel Messi fired out of a throng of Milan defenders high into left corner at minute 5, leaving Goalie Christian Abbiati looking like a tree planted in the ground, his vision blocked by his own defenders.

article-2292371-189C5EF3000005DC-744_634x414Just before the half, Messi again caught Abbiati wrong-footed with a low torpedo through defender’s legs that sank Italian hearts. A third curling goal from David Villa marked victory, and a lung-bursting sprint from Jordi Alba, picking up a cross from Dani Alves, made it four.

201303121615585444821-p2The Barcelona Symphony, directed by Messi, played a command performance, overcoming a 2-0 deficit on the away game — a feat never before seen in the Champions League.

With brimming reason, Messi has been named an unprecedented four times best world player. But first, Barcelona had to invest in him.

messi-began-playing-soccer-at-the-age-of-fiveAt 11 years of age, the Argentine showed early promise but suffered from growth hormone deficiency. His dad, a poor steelworker, could not afford it. The legendary Argentine team River Plate recruited Messi but balked at the $900/month treatment.

article-1382260-0BCCEDFD00000578-821_634x516Investment-risking on a potential starlet, FC Barcelona forked over for his treatment and moved him to Spain, where he rose through the ranks of their youth academy.

With consistent admiration from coaches, players and commentators around the world, Messi is perched atop the pyramid of soccer prowess. Any team would love to contract him. They would be willing to pay multiple millions of dollars. But Messi remains loyal to the Catalan kings because he’s grateful: when he was needy, they were there for him.

First you must invest to reap a harvest of blessing. Invest your most precious commodity: time. Pray.

We couldn’t enjoy the remodeling

ATT001935No sooner had we remodeled our home in Guatemala than we fled to America. A run-in with criminals forced us to leave. The trauma of the robbery at gunpoint took the foreground; the irony of our “lost investment” sat in the background.

ATT001997The stylized ceiling and modernized kitchen seemed like a good investment. We had lived in Guatemala for 15 years and did not foresee leaving our beloved missionary life. The threat of kidnapping changed that abruptly. The money already spent proved pointless.

Pointless.

Our stay in Guatemala was NOT permanent. It was temporary. So too our life here on Earth is short. ATT0020810Moses called his son Gershom, which means foreigner, because he felt like he didn’t belong in Midian. Peter says we’re only sojourners here on the globe. Our true home is Heaven.

What we invest for ATT0021412pleasure here is… well, it kind of seems pointless.

Was that what God was telling me? Whatever you do for eternity — even if it’s only five minutes of prayer today because that’s the best you can do — stands forever. We are here only briefly, so if all your effort is focused for this earth, try to enjoy these fleeting moments as much as possible. My recommendation: Work for eternity.

Lit and Scribbles with Jae shares on $$$

Jae

Jae

I don’t write hardly about the tithe, but I believe in it. Today, I’ve asked Jae to share her experiences, that might be useful to somebody. She’s an accomplished writer on wordpress, and I certainly enjoy her posts always. Here’s what she says:

As you can see clearly from her face, it's Jae.

As you can see clearly from her face, it’s Jae.

I have found that regularly donating a portion of my income to church and charity always keeps me in good financial hands. It doesn’t mean that I’m rich or that things aren’t tight, but it seems like when you give to God he always looks after you. I heard Jon Hunstman, Sr. once said, if you want to be rich find a charity and donate to it regularly. I think rich can be both a financial thing and a spiritual thing. I feel like because I try to be generous to the less fortunate with what little I have I’m “rich” in many ways and have a happy life.

The extraordinary in the ordinary

beechwoodcross.blogspot.comjpg

from beechwoodcross.blogspot.com

Jesus and Peter had to pay the temple tax but had no money. So Jesus sends Peter back to his old vocation, fishing. Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours – Matt. 17:27 NIV.

stock-illustration-10637597-coin-in-the-fish-mouthIf you are in His will, God will provide for your need. Prayer means getting the supernatural into the natural. If you’re working, you won’t have to change your routine, just request the dosage of God’s blessing upon your natural labors.

They call this miracle money, and after 33 years of being a Christian, I have seen God answer like this over and over, in my own life and others. It especially happened when I pastored in Guatemala, particularly when we bought a property and had huge mortgage payments.

define-necessityDon’t buy a lottery ticket. Just pray and believe. The extraordinary (miracle money) came out of the ordinary work (fishing), but it was blessed by God. Prayer is actively seeking that blessing.

Not greed

563071_494995527204662_794280061_nSatan targets the new pastor’s car, family health and finances. The unrelenting assault is designed to drive you crazy and make you quit. Out of this struggle when I was a missionary in Guatemala for almost 16 years, this blog was born. By “praying for finances,” I never mean greed.

Yabby curreyou CAN stave off Hell’s fury through prayer. You can see miracle money keep you in the pastoral business. Don’t grant soil to discouragement in your heart. Cultivate faith constantly and pray unceasingly. “Just barely making it” is the place where I have always been. Does it seem ironic that, while we established dominion in a church and school in Guatemala, we didn’t have great riches?

And yet we did have great riches! We had the precious souls of men, snatched off the precipice leading to Hell, transformed into valuable members of society. While the church prospered, our finances and those of the church, “hung in there.” We have no complaint. We had no lack, though many times I worried, many times I wondered where we would get the money to fix the car. Sometimes, we ran out of money, and it was unnerving, but we still had food in the cupboard.

George Muller prayed for bread and milk to feed the orphans in his care. He prayed for the bikepileheater to be fixed in the dead of winter. He prayed for hours — until the answer came. God prospered His work; He didn’t lavish luxury on His servant.

If you are not struggling financially today, I urge you to pray for some minister who undoubtedly is struggling. God will bless you for it.

Turn your life around

images-1The tongue is a rudder and a bit, according to James 3. Though a small member of the body, it sets the direction of your life. It defines reality. Worse than being bombarded by negative thoughts is giving “air time” to them on your tongue. It takes it up to a higher level. It makes mere thoughts

Like a bit, like a rudder, the tongue brings control.

Like a bit, like a rudder, the tongue brings control.

materialize. Cutting yourself down in your own mind is bad but worse is cutting yourself down with your tongue. It’s legitimizes something that should be simply dismissed as rubbish.

This warning turns into a promise for blessing. Don’t brush off the power of your tongue to pronounce good for your life. Like a rudder that turns around a huge freighter, like a bit that turns around an unwieldy beast, the tongue can turn around your life. Prayer, then, is doubly good. Not only does it involve positive confession, it involves God! Discount God to your own demise!

Don't pooh-pooh prayer; it unleashes incredible power. pic from Ben Rogers Blog

Don’t pooh-pooh prayer; it unleashes incredible power. pic from Ben Rogers Blog

After comparing the tongue to a rudder and a bit, James 3 then compares it to a spark. One word can ignite a forest fire. That fire can be good or bad, depending on the word you utter. If we know that we can blow up our marriage just by saying one word (“divorce”), how much more can we cause blessings to break out with one word of prayer? Say that word today. What is that word? It is “Jesus.”

Pray with faith for finances, health, emotional well-being today. Pray for the advancing of Christ’s kingdom and love throughout the Earth.

He sees what can be

Coach Neos today with his wife, Bethany -- that certain pair of eyes. He now pastors in Hesperia, California.

Coach Neos today with his wife, Bethany — that certain pair of eyes. He now pastors in Hesperia, California.

Twice the lowly Lighthouse was runner-up in eight man football in California championship. With a student population of 50, that’s spectacular.

With his typical one-day stubble, just out of GQ.

With his typical one-day stubble, just out of GQ.

Those heady heights were owed to an extraordinary coach, George Neos, who served as principal of the high school for many years. Not only was Neos a Dartmouth football champion, he was well on his way to becoming a college coach. God interrupted his career launch and brought him to the Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica, California. Neos came to teach football and for a certain pair of brown eyes.

The hulking coach had a knack for seeing every milligram of potential in a player. He coached nuances to perfection so that kids produced stellar output. Neos never saw a kid as chubby, lazy, or out of shape. He saw what a kid could become, and he worked relentlessly towards that goal.

Tex Hagoski on this year's team.

Tex Hagoski on this year’s team.

When God looks at you, he doesn’t see your flops and your flabbiness. He sees your future fabulousness. God sees a finished product. And He’s willing to work with all your failures and flailings to machine out the ideal Christian leader.

If you are a Christian leader, you can’t get stuck in the present. You’ve got to see ahead, what can become of the sheep God has brought under your care. Prayer is believing in the future and striving for it.

Never, never, never, never give up

On dirt fields, he taught me. He was patient, hard-working, demanding, tireless. He almost always won, often coming from behind.

On dirt fields, he taught me. He was patient, hard-working, demanding, tireless. He almost always won, often coming from behind.

Like he fought on the field, so in the church. Mario always invited youths to know God.

Like he fought on the field, so in the church. Mario always invited youths to know God.

No matter how many goals he goes down, Mario Ajcip never despairs. The Guatemalan patiently works to improve his team and to remount the score and win. Sometimes he yells at his teammates, demanding output.

Since learning to play from him some 10 years imagesago, I now know that his is an extraordinary characteristic. I have played, coached and watched teams that become despondent and give up. If they go down two goals, they anguish and pray for the final whistle to hurry so they can scurry off the field of humiliation. Soccer is low scoring, so when you’re down a few, commentators say it’s over.

Well, I learned from Mario. It’s never over!

I don’t care what troubles your facing now (economical, marital, prodigal), it ain’t over till you’re dead. SOOOOO, keep fighting. Keep kicking that ball, connect passes, set up goals, defend667 staunchly. Don’t just retreat into your half and try to limit goals against, run the counter-attack! And yell at yourself for having a give-up attitude.

The title of the blog, of course, comes from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who inspired Britain to stand alone against the monolithic Axis Powers in World War II, when France and all other resistance had been crushed. We have need to remember his motto today. Keep believing, keep working, keep praying.

Conquering love

51650726947092386_kcArEKgF_bHe who loves much, gives much. Christianity has always spread by love. There have been times when people who call themselves Christians have taken up arms in the name of the Savior, but that is NOT Christianity. They lied.

Christianity advances by love, not by military conquest. Love conquers all. It is our martyrs who laid down their lives with no resistance who have made Christianity explode around the globe. It is our prayer warriors, who sacrifice hours of playing time to pray, who fff07746-cd01-45cd-b046-193d016ba9a7have stoked revival fire. Care enough, love enough, to pray today.

Rightly, billiescauldron points out this glaring flaw in my last post, Remote Warfare. I was demonstrating similarities between pray-ers and pilots who remotely fly drones to hit targets from far away. You can pray for Iran and blow up the devil. But the analogy breaks down over the basis of Christianity: love. Thanks, Billie!

In your walk with Christ, don't leave love behind.

In your walk with Christ, don’t leave love behind.

You are saved because of God’s love. He sent His Son. As a Christian, you must strive to conform to His image. Love others enough to take time to pray for them.

When you pray for finances in your ministry, let love be the principal basis for prayer. If your ministry grows, more people will be established in Christ.

It’s the same God

from soumyav

from soumyav

ATT002059Commander Joshua receives his marching orders from God: As I was with Moses, so I will be with you — Josh 1:5 NIV. You’ll have no less success, God says, because I’ll be with you in no less measure.

ATT0022014That promise is for us, New Testament habitation of the Holy Spirit. God is with us. Our lives testify to the same outpouring as the Biblical heroes, the same kinds of miracles. It’s an error to think “that was then, and this is 231442868319859281_Q75q97eD_bnow.” The book of Acts does not end with the word “amen,” unlike most other New Testament books; this signifies that the “acts” of the Holy Spirit continue in and through us.

God offers no less for us than for them. Our only limitation is our own lack of faith. He responds to faith and is shocked by lack of faith. When you pray — whether it be for health, deliverance or finances — realize He is with you in the same way He was with Moses and Joshua.

God loves the unfavored

churroThis fact makes the case for prayer. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing -- Deut.10:18 NIV. Not many people study the verses of “widow.” To do so blows your mind.

From Exodus to Revelations, God repeatedly and pointedly favors the disenfranchised, the proletariat, the 99%, the unpopular, the underdogs. Forget about smoking pot; it’s not as much a sin as mistreating (or not helping) the widow, orphan, foreigner, poor – the quartet that encapsulates what we now call “powerlessness.”

from DumpaDay

from DumpaDay

Often, we go to prayer after other options have failed. We are powerless. Outside of divine intervention, things look bleak.

The fabulously fantastic news is God LOVES people who are desperate, broken, without resources. His heart goes out to them.

This should flood your heart with faith. When you cry tears before the Lord, He is there crying with you. Given this unmeasurable empathy, you can be sure He will answer.