Category Archives: inspiration

Strong finishers

strong finishers

Luis Suarez is one of the strongest finishers in soccer.

Useless is the team that defends well, keeps possession, gets to goal, but then can’t put the ball in the net. Every team has the need for a strong finisher, someone who consistently strikes on target, someone who bamboozles the goalie.

The finisher may not dribble well, may not pass well, may not have great stamina. That’s not his job. His is to finish all the work up to the goal.

As Christians, we need to be strong finishers. It’s useless to a meteoric rise, a glorious carrying forth, only to die out at the end. God help me to be a strong finisher.

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You’re a genius

grassroof

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More than Hercules could

Herculean feat

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Why so many problems?

problems

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Measure of Success

Measure of success

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Work and rest

Work

Goals

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Passion with Compassion

passion

He only wanted the trophy

Youth-Boy-Soccer-Bobblehead-Award-TrophyEddie let it be known constantly how much he resented everything. That he had to play soccer, had to go to practice. That I asked him to learn to kick with his insole or to run. As a park coach, I had to be patient and incorporate him.

Occasionally, Eddie kicked the ball in the right direction in games. I wouldn’t call him a game-changer. I got the idea that he didn’t even like the game — or maybe any sports.

imagesBut when we got our trophies (everybody gets one in park leagues), he was the first. His eyes glistened. Finally, I saw some enjoyment in the kid.

Just cheap plastic spray-painted gold color, but it was a veritable treasure for Eddie.

Are you living life for life’s sake or only interested in the fool’s gold to be had along the way? The saying goes: The one with the most toys at the end, wins.

But at the end, you’re dead and can’t enjoy your many toys. Will you be ready to meet your Maker?

Play soccer for soccer’s sake, not for a dust-gathering shelf occupant. Live life for life’s sake, not for the shiny veneer of “prizes” that many are obsessed with. Enjoy life more than the trappings.

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Others’ opinions

Others opinions

Overcoming downers: the first American Bolshoi ballerina

pic from Joy's Facebook

pic from Joy’s Facebook

Joy Womack could have resigned herself to failure when she was kicked out of the renowned Kirov Academy at age 13. They cited her inflexibility and predicted failure for her.

Joy's hand is raised

Joy’s hand is raised

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But Joy didn’t give up. Today the 19-year-old is the first American ever to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy — and the first American to be contracted by the Bolshoi professionally. (Ok, so she wasn’t good enough for Kirov? Now, she’s winning roles traditionally reserved for Russians at the world’s preeminent ballet company, a reign of unquestioned dominance that has lasted for 200 years.)

Joy, a vibrant, Spirit-filled Christian, embodies her name. She got saved as a child and attended our church before her family moved to Texas. Her Twitter account says “I dance for Jesus.” She evangelizes everyone she meets.

with her dad, Clay Womack

with her dad, Clay Womack

I had scant conversation with her when she was a kid because I was a missionary in Guatemala when she was growing up in the church. But as I think about her overcoming failure, of her rejecting rejection, I’m inspired myself.

“She worked really, really hard,” her mom, Dr. Eleanor Womack, said. “She sought coaches and other techniques to improve her flexibility.” From the looks of the photo above, she’s not lacking flexibility anymore.

The video below was produced by the New York Times when they broke the story of Joy.

Thank you, Joy! (All photos are from Joy’s Facebook page)

Just to prove you can’t, try

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Legendary football coach Chuck Knox

Then-new L.A. Rams football coach Chuck Knox told his players that his squad would be 1) tougher, 2) smarter, and 3) in better condition. Walk-on Rob Scribner figured he wouldn’t make the team, but he tried out just to prove himself right.

But those words energized Scribner for what they omitted. They left out a key word in sports: “talent.” Scribner figured he lacked the raw talent for NFL level to make the team. But he knew he could work hard at being tougher and get in better condition. While other guys were out drinking, he’d be studying his plays to be smarter.

ce9f0fde980ecd37069ccd6fe7a9c800d268923dIn the end, Scribner made the team and played four years. Of him, Knox said, “Scribner was one of my all-time great guys.”

Lots of people have limitless talent. Not everybody is willing to roll up the sleeves, dig in and sweat a gallon. Too many pastors, leaders, and church members are set on cruise control. They’re lazy.

Rob Scribner RC Cola

Scribner, at right

Too many are unwilling to log the hours in prayer or sacrifice their time in service. Is cleaning the church beneath you? Can you give up personal entertainment options to set yourself apart for His service. Do you want to charge the church for your expertise and talent? Are you getting “smarter” by reading your Bible?

images-2Today Scribner is my pastor, at the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica. His phenomenal work ethic, his tenacity, his vision continue to inspire new generations of dragon-slayers. There’s genius in “just showing up” to  rule the world, as they say.

She’ll never hurt again

She'll Never Hurt AgainLCA grad Casey McNamara bounced around five foster homes when she was a kid. During a 3-month stint back with mom, a 7-year-old Casey cared for her little siblings while mom abused meth and cocaine. “It was hell,” she said.

Casey gave her heart to Christ when she met her now-husband, Max, and enrolled in the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, CA, as a junior. She now teaches at the Lighthouse Church’s preschool. Expecting a baby next month, Casey has traded her nightmare for a fairy tale.

Casey had been forced to return to Mom by a judge who wanted to give the lady a chance to go straight. Instead, while mom was doing drugs, Casey and her 3-year-old sister were taken advantage of by men that her mom had brought home.

226255_1947007828610_2702427_nCasey pulled syringes out of her brother’s foot. Baths were optional, and she attended school little. Sometimes Mom locked the kids in a room while she fed her addiction. Three times, Casey and her siblings slept in a neighbor’s backyard while Mom partied.

“Dinner and breakfast was Lucky Charms,” Casey said in a live interview. “Taking care of my two younger half-siblings was like playing with life-sized dolls — it got old really fast.”

Eventually, school officials reported her truancies and poor hygiene to authorities, and the judge eventually granted adoption of Casey and her brother, Will, to the Mendelsons.

Though life became a dreamworld at the Mendelsons’ with a white-picket fence and a golden retriever, Casey fell into depression at age 14 because of all the emotional baggage she was carrying. Mean kids harassed her and called her “skinny.” She worried about her half-siblings and felt guilty for enjoying the Mendelsons.

“Why do I deserve a good life when my siblings can’t?” she wondered frequently. “I felt very alone, very empty. I was confused and angry.”

At one low moment, Casey contemplated suicide. But then she heard a male voice say, “TEACH.” It halted her suicidal thoughts, gave her a hope and ultimately led her to her current career. God was on the move in her life.

He began to move more when one day on the Promenade Max saw her. While Casey was hanging out with friends, Max McNamara was joking around with fellow Lighthouse students. He saw Casey from a distance and immediately announced to his buddies that here was the girl he was going to marry. He introduced himself.

One day soon after, Max was driving to football practice by chance on Casey’s street and saw her in her front yard raking leaves. He now knew where she lived.

For a few weeks, he would try to strike up conversations with her on Myspace social media website. Then one night, Max and his LCA pals were standing outside her window and threw pebbles against the pane to get her attention.

When she opened the window, Max asked her to hang out. She very nearly freaked out. “He seemed like a stalker,” she said. But talking to Max with some other buddies didn’t seem like a dangerous situation.

Married with Max

Married with Max

“That’s when I first laid eyes on Max,” Casey explained in an email. “The second I saw him I couldn’t turn away. He was different, different from any other boy I had met. There was a gentle spirit about him. That night on we were inseparable. We started talking on the phone, and he eventually met my parents. One thing I will never forget him telling me is that I would always be safe with him and that I would hurt no more. How right he was!”

caseymcnamaraMax invited her to Lighthouse plays and to revival services. Coming from a Catholic background, Casey at first looked for an excuse to back-out on the church services. But as she was stalling, she happened to see in the distance her younger brother drugged up, beat up and looking like a homeless man.

Right then and there, she resolved to NOT be like her mother. “I was going to break the family curse,” Casey said. “I was going to be someone different, I was going to change my life — if not for myself, for my siblings.”

She went to church that night and passed up to the altar. She was flooded with an unspeakable peace.

Next, she enrolled in Lighthouse high school, where she loved the sense of family. While she had met rejection in the public schools, at Lighthouse she was loved by all.

At the Lighthouse preschool, where she has taught for three years

“The most important thing that Lighthouse taught me was forgiveness,” Casey said. She is looking forward to seeing her dad more next year when he gets out of prison. She is working on mending her relationship with her mom.

Her relationship deepened and progressed with Max. The couple was supported by staff and students as they maintained a formal and serious courtship. She graduated with honors in 2010 and came just short of her AA degree in child development at Santa Monica College.

She is currently working on her BA in Early Child Education and plans on getting my Master’s in Childhood and Adolescent Behavior and Development.

In 2012, Casey and Max were married. Ultrasound revealed their baby’s a girl. The happy ending is almost complete.

“I still have bad dreams,” Casey said. “But I have good support. I think I’m going to make it.” She can’t wait to see her biological dad and is working on the relationship with her biological mom, who has been clean for a year.

“I’m at a good place now in my life. I married the man of my dreams. I’m expecting my first child. I have the world’s GREATEST parents, I am working on my relationship with my birth mom and my birth dad, who has recently given his life to Christ and is being released next year from prison. God is good! ”

*** This article was originally published in the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s newsblog, which I edit. http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com/

It was written by a student, Alex Myles, a sophomore. She also blogs on wordpress under the name Wolfbane15.wordpress.com (or something like that!)

My stalker

stalker_by_orendorffknightI have a stalker who regularly comes to harass me, and the Santa Monica Police Department can’t do anything about him.

He is discouragement. I can’t seem to get rid of him. I constantly need to get rid of him.

Just because I constantly am trying to encourage others, doesn’t mean I’m free of discouragement myself. It is the contrary that is true: Because I struggle with discouragement that I try to help others. This helps me.

StalkerIf you have this stalker too, then get rid of him:

  • Exercise and eat right.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid destructive behaviors.
  • Flee drugs and alcohol only mask, don’t heal, the inner pain and fears. They make things worse.
  • Prefer uplifting music. The lyrics affect your soul, whether or not you’re “listening.”
  • Eschew movies and shows with morbid themes
  • Feed on the Word of God.
  • Surround yourself with people who can lift you up, not those who tear you down.
  • Pray and ask God for help.
  • Don’t pretend and pose.
  • Don’t be afraid to get help.

As with any stalker, we don’t want to take discouragement lightly. He can do us great damage, and we need to take action.

‘It’s hard to care when all you do is lose’

Robert Ashcraft

Robert Ashcraft

My son, a freshman, who led our small high school’s varsity soccer team out of last place last year into fourth place this year, said this. I had no immediate response. The sheer profundity had to sink in slowly.

This was the game when we engineered the leagues biggest upset. The other coach was mad at his players. To be sure, they suffered from overconfidence at the beginning and depression at the end. But my players were sharp and worked hard. Robert wrecked havoc.

This was the game when we engineered the league’s biggest upset. The other coach was mad at his players. To be sure, they suffered from overconfidence at the beginning and depression at the end. But my players were sharp and worked hard. Robert wrecked havoc.

His response was to my urgings to see more leadership from him. His club team is losing. He scores goals, they lose anyway, he clams up. I told him to stop being such a nice guy, get in the face of his teammates and tell them to man up (they are afraid of the ball)*. I was completely unprepared for his answer. (You ought to listen to your teenager.)

It is hard to care when others don’t, when all around you is discouraging. Too true!

Lighthouse Christian Academy had its best season ever.

Lighthouse Christian Academy had its best season ever this year.

And yet this world needs desperately people who care — when it is hard. We need Christians who care when it seems like we are being overrun by the loud voices of hate. We need evangelizers when we get ignored, heckled, mocked. We need people not lulled into a false sense of security, hypnotized by the American good life.

This was our high school's first game, when they got a tie and started to believe in themselves.

This was our high school’s first game, when they got a tie and started to believe in themselves.

Maybe the reason why we don’t pray more is not laziness. Maybe we just don’t care. We need to care enough for others to pray. Jesus viewed with multitude “moved to compassion.” The disciples viewed them as a nuisance, or as a means to an end.

It’s been a week, and I’m still trying to formulate a response to Robert. How can I get him to care for his soccer team?

_________________________

*Don’t worry. None of his club teammates or teammates’ families read this blog.

Bliss point

Super yummy, super bad for you. Pic thanks to Cloud Lounge

Super yummy, super bad for you. Pic thanks to Cloud Lounge

In fitness, enthusiasts work towards the release of endorphins. In the junk food industry, processors add the perfect amount of sugar — called technically “bliss” point — to dazzle your taste buds and addict you like cocaine.

Hahaha. What a great joke pic!

Hahaha. What a great joke pic!

It’s your choice of pleasure — the easy, fattening road or the hard-work and sweat road that helps you live longer.

Such is Christianity. You either go for easy gratification that ultimately destroys your soul. Or you pray, read your Bible, resolve people issues and continue in church — and you get soul healthiness that is emotionally sensational!

As I browse blogs, I see so many that hover around the

Watch out! What you eat can imprison you!

metaphorical pillars of processed foods: sugar, salt and food. They rave about stuff that’s toxic to your heart. A few blogs take the high road and promote happiness through spiritual exercise.

What I talk about here is praying, praying more and experiencing the thrill of answered prayers. . If you’ve never felt this exhiliration, you’ve got to try it. But think of it like the gym. If you do just a little, the results may be a bit short. If you pour yourself into it, the results are — well, ripped.

When you overcome fear, you become dangerous

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Rob Scribner then

Rob Scribner then

My pastor, Rob Scribner, tried out for professional football to prove he couldn’t do it.

He just liked it. But he thought he wasn’t good enough. Because of hard work, he wound up on the team, playing for the then-LA Rams from 1973 to 1976. A lot of other guys didn’t even try out because they thought they wouldn’t make it.

Fear of failure is a major problem. Whatever you long to do but are afraid of doing, that is what you should do.

Pastor Rob Scribner now

Pastor Rob Scribner now

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. – Thomas Edison

The explosion of “fantasy” — sports, Second Life, etc. — is illustrative. People want more but are afraid to live it.

Christian, when you overcome fear, you become dangerous to the devil.

Easier to not believe

2814818487436554_AKjxRH8F_bWhy do you gloat? You act proud of not believing in God. You call yourself open-minded, unfettered by religion, etc.

But I don’t see the higher moral ground of not believing in God because it’s as easy as giving up — and there’s no heroism in surrendering. It is enough that the devil assails our faith constantly. It is enough that it is hard to muster faith in the midst of adversity.  And then the intellectual world constantly 9007267975137310_SqILL0gD_bbombards us with darts of discouragement.

It would be easy for me to give up, to give place to the negativity inside me, to cease from faith and blame God (called lack thereof). It is a struggle to believe for finances, for healing, for restoration. To me, struggling against unbelief is heroic. Losing faith is easy — sorry, no kudos for that.

If you are fighting for faith, you are my brother. If you are an atheist, you are my friend, but I don’t understand you.

Keep working towards the masterpiece

carmen-herreraFor sixty years, Carmen Herrera painted without selling a single item. Then at 89 years of age, she cashed in her first painting. Now aged 95, she’s exploding in popularity and her paintings are fetching previously unimaginable prices. Critics imagesspeak of her as monumental, iconic of a Latin American minimalism.

In anonymity, she  pursued her passion for decades. Among artists, failure is common. Supporters joke that her recent eclosion was orchestrated from images-1above by her recently-deceased husband. At hearing such jests, she retorts peppery, “I worked really hard. Maybe it was me.”

Don’t feel like a failure. You’re just casting about for your legacy. The world may call you a failure, but YOU don’t have to accept any stigmas into your heart. It may take decades to strike gold, so keep digging. As attractive as the child prodigy is the story of the late bloomer.

Small victories

Rob Ashcraft poses with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Rob Ashcraft poses after the game with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Saints soccer continues to rock and roll.

The Lighthouse Christian Academy entered the Christmas break with its third victory – a scrappy 1-0 win against Wildwood. A handy piece of footwork by Junior Luis Secaira confounded defenders and stunned the goalie, who watched woefully as the ball slotted on the near post.

After the vacation, the Saints have simply been outgunned by vastly superior teams. They lost to league leaders Lennox 0-8 and to New Roads 0-7. To the uninitiated, the defeats appear to spell out an uncommon nosedive.

In reality, the team keeps improving. It’s just hard to take on varsity teams with mostly senior and club players when you have half a team of girls and players from all grades. How are freshman girls going to beat senior boys?

On Monday, the Saints put a thump on the slump. Facing the impeccable Vistamar, the Saints scored in the last minute. Midfielder Elijah “Taz” Symonds chipped from the corner to Freshman Rob Ashcraft, who didn’t err with an unusual karate kick in front of goal.

It was the first time in the history of LCA soccer that the Saints scored against Vistamar, whose players are groomed for soccer from the cradle. With that goal, Lighthouse sent a message that it will not succumb to defeatism. It is no longer the whipping boy of the league.

Though much progress needs to be made, LCA can revel in solid – though incremental — improvement and press on to a glorious future.

“We won!” quipped Junior Tori Scribner, comprehending the significance of the goal, in spite of losing 1-8.

Remaining for the Saints are only four games, and Coach Mike Ashcraft thinks we stand a good chance to win against Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes on Wednesday.

Whatever your stage in life, celebrate the small victories. They lead to big ones!

Handling losing

From Smashing Photo

From Smashing Photo

That's me with the kids!

That’s me with the kids!

We lost Tuesday 8-0. We lost today 8-0. We are facing tougher teams; ours is absorbing injuries. Kids have skipped practices, and the results are manifest on the field. When Lighthouse Christian Academy tied our first soccer game, when won our second 9-2, when we won a

From Via Vigevano

From Via Vigevano: Read closely!

couple more, it was exciting, easy to want to play and put in the effort.

Now it is hard. Kids might want to bail out. But now is exactly the moment of character, the foundation of excellence. If we allow ourselves to become “losers” in our minds, then we will. If not, we will win again this season, and we will win next year!

The reality of life is that everyone loses more than wins. What you do when you lose makes you win.

Faith does not drag down with discouragement. It remains buoyant, hopeful, expectant of good. It persists. It constantly looks for the victory just around the corner.

Once a failure, always a…

72409506479213917_hXOrEUnr_cSeven failures in a row do not make you a failure.

Just ask George Washington. He lost seven successive battles but won the war. He was voted president of the newly formed United States of America. His revolution inspired freedom movements among colonies in both Americas (North and South).

imagesDid he kick himself for mucking up when he became famous for retreating? Did he grovel with feelings of inadequacy? I don’t know. What I do know is that he continued fighting until he won. Place no time limits on God. If things don’t work out well now, they may later. Don’t despair, just keep plugging away!

Every time you fail, you’re one step closer to the formula of success!

Prove ‘em wrong

Silence the naysayers. Pic from Pinterest

Silence the naysayers. Pic from Pinterest

I wanted to do a creative writing magazine in high school. One classmate told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. She didn’t believe in me. That piece of discouragement inspired me to carry out the project.

Every time I hit roadblocks and her got frustrated with lack of progress, her memory kicked in and gave me the energy to keep working. I had to prove wrong. Thanks for the demotivation!

Criticism hurts. But it can be turned into a help. The fact of the matter is doing good is taxing. It requires stick-to-it-iveness, boring hard work, and self-denial. What keeps you in the uphill battle? It could be someone encouraging you. And — strange as it may sound — it could be someone discouraging you.

Don't let them put out your fire! Pic from Pinterest

Don’t let them put out your fire! Pic from Pinterest

The human psyche is marvelously complex. Downers can pump you up. You can pull-off a fantastic reversal. You can’t stop people from mouthing off. But you can turn their poison into your passion.

I was very happy to see my couple of poems featured in that magazine. So were other kids. I didn’t hear anymore from the girl who didn’t think I would finish it.

Too many head trips

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

I am a great dramatist! But only in my own mind. I rehearse interactions with people over and over. I’m quite sardonic, tragic and full of pathos. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my rehearsals never come before a true-life audience.

Unfortunately, the majority of these rehearsals played in the theater of my mind are negative.

my thoughts under water pressure

my thoughts under water pressure

I’m venting bitterness. I’m being vindicated from all those who have insulted me. These incessantly replaying scenarios are unhealthy. Their product is discouragement.

When I get discouraged, I flatline.

I need to get victory over my

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

demons. The Bible says: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV. It is easy to succumb to disgruntles. It requires immense effort to keep optimism when surrounded by a howling storm of negativism.

Break through the clouds over your mind. Photo Pinterest

Break through the clouds over your mind!

The answer to the litany of complaints in your brain is NOT imagining dramatic conclusions. The answer is to silence them. Raise rank and disburse orders to shut up all the negative minions mocking you. You can gag the suckers, but it takes an active decision on your part. You must force them.

The beetle curl

9360260-woman-smiling-showing-yellow-flowers-isolated-on-white-background-beautiful-fresh-young-mixed-race-aMy friend goes into a beetle curl. A search engine optimization genius, he nonetheless has not met with financial success — yet. There are so many things he could do to promote his business that he doesn’t know which to do. Failure has hounded him. Worse of all, it hounds him in his mind. Depression descends on him, and he gets in bed, unable to move.

Pic from Pinterest

Pic from Pinterest

Pic Naokihan

Pic Naokihan

Yeah, I know exactly what he’s going through. I WAS a successful missionary. Not anymore. Now I can’t seem to hit the mark here in the United States. After 16 years of being out of the country, it would appear I am defunct. Sometimes, I just want to go into the beetle curl.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

Here’s the lessons if you ever  feel like that:

1) Keep doing right things, even though everything screams to you that it’s not working.

2) Find someone who can speak encouragement to you. Shut out negativity.

rockettopad3) Confess positive words over yourself. Believe in yourself. (You might as well do it; no one else will do that in this pernicious world.) Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue. What you say about you becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy..

From Laurie Coombs

From Laurie Coombs

4) Drink coffee! No joking! Eat balanced diet. Exercise. Let sunlight in. Read uplifting material. Listen to uplifting music. Watch inspiring movies. Etc.

5) When all else fails, go ahead and go into the beetle curl. Sleep a bunch. Things will look better after rest!

Helpless, but not hopeless

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

You feel like an cornered animal. You want your parents to stop fighting, and there is nothing you can do. You want your husband to be the good father your kids need, and he continues unfaithful or abusive. You have cancer.

Americans love — no, need — to have everything under control. What do you do when life spins out of control? Frustration boils over. How do you keep sane in insane circumstances? How do you tolerate intolerable acts?

I was falsely accused by an extortionist in Guatemala. It was a “big bad gringo takes

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

advantage of a helpless Guatemalan” scenario. I was very much afraid I would be sent to jail, but since the accusations were utterly false, I would not capitulate to the extortion (If he pays $—-, I will drop the charges).

I fasted four days a week. I went to bed afraid the cops would come and get me. I woke up thinking the cops would pick me up.

369787819373451012_bQuSJOKx_bWell, I got a lawyer. God defended me. Innocent I was, and I was found innocent.

Don’t run away screaming. Don’t cut your wrist. Don’t intern yourself in a mental institution. You need something to hold on to when your world tumbles down like the proverbial house of cards.

We Christians hold on to God. He is a friend and a lover. When everything you always wanted becomes everything you always feared, God will sustain you if you flee to him. You may be helpless to change unchangeable circumstances, but hopeless you are not.

Secure enough to be insecure

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Most are terrified to show their insecurities. They consume a nuclear power plant’s energy just trying to project supreme self confidence.

But because of their fears to be vulnerable, they have deficient relationships everywhere. Having a million “friends,” they don’t have one true friend with whom they can open up. This is especially true for men. This is worse in Los Angeles, where image counts more than substance.

Be secure enough to let your insecurities show — not with everyone, of course, but with a select few people with whom you want to share friendship. Be real.

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Don’t try to prove your self confidence all the time. Don’t try to win every argument, always be right, always win, etc. Let somebody else be better. Be secure enough to accept another person’s gift.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

4530272-business-team--smiling-people-standing-in-line

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.

———————————————–

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?

(Spoiler alert)

Spoiler2

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

 

Useful

Ender was forcibly denied a normal childhood. He couldn’t play but had to train incessantly. He couldn’t make friends because kids were made into adversaries. His was a lonely road to pre-adolescent general.

His trainers did this because no one else could save the planet from the impending invasion of buggers in sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. Without Ender, the Earth doesn’t stand a chance.

Was it justified to deprive Ender his childhood? As with any classic, author Orson Scott Card leaves the answer up to the reader.

My major motivation in life is to be useful. Personally, this is greater than individual accolades, power or money. The Bible says God will greet us in Heaven with these words: “Well done! Enter into joy!” To serve God and people!

Maybe Mary and Joseph had plans for a happy, quiet life. But they had to give that up, because Mary had to give birth to the Savior of the world. They suffered scorn; she was pregnant before the wedding. They had to live in Egypt for a time. At the end of Jesus’ life, Mary agonized to watch the fruit of her womb die. She was useful to God.

What useful service will you deny to the world just because you want to conserve your life for you?

 

Hey, Coach!

Lighthouse Christian Academy lost every single soccer game last year. This year, it took us one minute to score our first goal, and we finished tied 2-2 against a team that won 8 last year. I’m ecstatic because I’m the coach now.

The kids can’t contain their happiness after the game

I have coached before, first on middle school team, then park league. Then I stepped back from coaching for six months. My kids were on other teams, and I observed the other coaches, who are better than I. One is a Scot with the highest level accreditation for coaching. I’ve eavesdropped and spied.

No use thinking I know it all. I can always pick up something new from others, even if it’s what NOT to do (like cuss).

I see that life coaching is in

We prayed with the other team before the game

vogue. I’ve always enjoyed having a FREE life coach: he’s called “my pastor.” As a generation has distanced itself from the church, people look down their noses upon the pastor and his unwanted advice. As a result, divorce has skyrocketed; kids are cutting themselves in unheard-of numbers as the home disintegrates.

Because we are a small Christian school, we have great players and total beginners.

I’m not saying I’m better than anyone; I just enjoy the benefits of being among the dwindling number of Americans who still go to church. A coach — a pastor — is there to bring out the best in you.

What do we need libraries for???

These are this year’s students.

Not this year, but last, I had a class in which no one had ever been to the library. Everything is on Internet, right?

They assured me I was wasting their time. Nonetheless, to the library I took them, and the poor librarian had the devil’s day trying to persuade them that more information is actually in books. (You’d think she were describing cave paintings from the reaction of those kids.)

Add some color to your drab life!

So here’s the college-preparatory secret: to do real research, you’ll have go to the library. Good ol’ wiki doesn’t cut it. There actually is stuff worth learning that requires you to get off your bu** — um, bottom — and pay a buck for the bus. You’d be surprised what you’ll find when you break out of your comfort zone.

You’ll be surprised what you find in the depths!

You might discover there’s worthwhile stuff in the Bible. Yeah, like how to reach maximum happiness (have a successful marriage, for example!) in what they used to call the “Good Book.” Nowadays, they call it the “Hate Book,” I think.

Don’t hate the Bible! It’s still good and got great stuff useful for your life here on Earth! And, yes, it also talks about life after Earth, in case you’re interested! Break out of your comfort zone and crack the Bible today! Read a bit. Ask God to give you the revelation as to what it means. Start with Mark; it’s the story of the Main Dude in the whole Bible.

Happy reading!

 

What’s the greatest feeling?

Photo thanks to PatriciaDDrury

On the verge of my wedding, an older friend told me the three happiest moments in life were: marriage, the birth of child, and becoming a grandparent.

Harrison Sommer, former a trial lawyer, opined that the greatest feeling is relief. When he wins, he gushes relief — he will get paid; the stress and uncertainty is over.

Photo thanks Climb St. Louis

I vote for forgiveness. It is something like all of the above-mentioned emotions.

Being forgiven is a part of love, more mature than falling in love, more undeserved than  having a baby or a grandchild. Not everyone who feels love, experiences this subgroup of special love called forgiveness.

It is a compounded relief. Relief is when you’re sweating it out to see if you get it. With forgiveness, you simply don’t stand a chance to get it, but you get it anyhow.

I have been forgiven by my wife. And that is how we are still married today, 22 years later. Anyone can fall in love. Anyone can leave (married) love to go experience the immature rush once again, thinking that’s all there is to love. Not just anyone gets the special privilege of forgiveness and getting a chance to continue with the choice of your youth.

Of course, God’s forgiveness on mankind, available instantly, is the most powerful. If you haven’t yet experienced it, by all means, do so today. He sent Christ to the cross in order to forgive us our sins. All we need do is ask.

 

It’s pouring out!

Thanks Deviant Art for the stunning photo!

Your life is being poured out.

On what? Paul poured his life out for others… for something of eternal value. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you – Phil. 2:17 NIV.

Today many are pouring their lives out on the pursuit of material goods. Others on the pursuit of health. For partying. For sport. For pleasure. For enjoyment. Lives are constantly being poured out.

Each man chooses to pour out his life on what he esteems most valuable. The number of days are finite. Through improved health, we may extend our lives. Even so, it will eventually end. When you are done, what will your life have been poured out on?

Will it be something worthwhile? Nobody wants to think about the last drop. But wisdom is to think about it before we get there.

Get into the habit of faith

To form a new habit, willpower is more important than self-esteem. In his book Willpower, Roy Baumeister demonstrates that willpower is key to success in college, success in life, longevity and health. The possessor adheres to an unshakeable determination to achieve his goals.

If you’re accustomed to a dreary day of negativity, make some practical changes: Introduce or lengthen prayer time. Sprinkle your day with the Word of God. Arrest negative thoughts and force yourself to assume the best. Audibly confess the opposite of what gets you down. Continually go up to sit on God’s lap and tell your loving Father your struggles.

It’s amazing that willpower is akin to faith. They’re overlapping circle graphs with a significant shared region. This is the overcoming spirit of which the Bible speaks.

Is it possible to go from pessimism to belief? I am one who emigrated from the country of unbelief and unhealthy depression. I journeyed to the land of faith. Transforming my outlook has transformed my life. So I encourage you to get off your “but” and become a person of faith.

Punk-turned-pastor Steven Ferandez took over my church in Guatemala

Diane, Steve, with Stetson and Faith

By Hanna Jones, LCA sophomore

SANTA MONICA – Actually, it was a moment of great personal pride when police officers handcuffed and arrested Steven Fernandez out of his University High School classroom. All his classmates would fear him even more. At 15 years of age, he was a full-fledged thug.

Pastor George Neos who made such an impact in Pastor Steven’s life. He’s with his wife, Bethany, and son.

After getting out of juvenile hall on counts of armed robbery and vandalism, he had a hard time finding a school to enroll. His grandfather, a born-again Christian, was given responsibility for Steven by the court and enrolled him at Lighthouse Christian Academy, a ministry of the Lighthouse Church.

He hated it.

Bristling at just about any authority, Steven hated then-principal George Neos. Seething with street rage but lacking street smarts, he threatened the principal. A hulking 280-pound behemoth from Dartmouth University’s national winning football team, Neos just chuckled.

Once, Fernandez jumped on Neos’ back and grappled his neck in a chokehold. But Neos just whisked him off his back and slammed his body against the wall. (Such non-standard academic occurrences have not been seen since at LCA.)

Eventually, Neos’s tough love broke through. At the same time as being a principal, Neos was a pioneer pastor and invited Steven to his church. He even let the repentant street hoodlum stay overnight in his house. Steven became a Christian and began to turn his life around.

Diane and Steve were announced in June at the Tucson Door Christian Center Bible conference

Out of high school, he married a Bible study leader and headed up the Lighthouse Church’s Thrift Store, an evangelism disguised as retail. He learned to smile.

Now, with two children – Faith and Stetson, he has taken the plunge into ministry. Ordained a pastor in June 2012, Steven is now assisting in the Guatemalan church pioneered for 16 years by Lighthouse son, Mike Ashcraft, who now teaches at LCA. Guatemalan Pastor Ludving Navarro needed some help since his wife is due for a hernia operation in coming weeks.

“The challenges just keep getting bigger,” Steven said. “But I never forget where I came from and how I very likely would have died, had not God intervened. Moving forward is easier when you remember where you came from.”

_________

This article first appeared on LCA’s website: http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com