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.

The importance of moon shots

from Wired.com

from Wired.com

Larry Page, the leader of Google, tells his employees that every product they make must be 10X better than the competition. Next on the list of things for Google: self-driving cars, wearable computers, mapping the human race’s DNA code. He’s eternally dissatisfied, and that drives him to pursue greater heights. Mediocrity and modest gains be damned. Shoot for the moon.

As Christians, we should have vision and dream big. What is keeping us from bigger things? Many times our own scaled-down vision. Read more about Larry Page. It inspired me.

Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. — Mark 11:23 NIV.

Even in the second watch of the night

second watchAs a sandanista, Alex had a super strict commander. Good thing too, because other platoons woke up to find two-thirds their throats slit. The contras in the Nicaraguan civil war of the 1980s took advantage of any platoon with sleeping guards. They slipped in, put one hand over the sleeper’s mouth and with the other cut his throat. It was a noiseless death that allowed them to move to the next and the next, killing 100s, and slink out before dawn. Because Alex’s commander maintained strict discipline, his platoon never fell victim. They were vigilant.

And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. – Luke 12:38 NIV.

As a Christian, I feel like I’ve dropped my guard, eased off the gas pedal — now in the second watch of my life. I’m 47.

On my first watch, as pastor in Guatemala, I was diligent in prayer and the word. Forced to return to the United States four years ago, I don’t get much “playing time.” Consequently, I’ve toned down the regimen. And I feel bad.

We go through different seasons in life. In my “first watch,” the souls of Guatemala took priority. Now in my “second watch,” my kids get it. God is doing wonderful things in their lives. Can I keep following hard after the Lord?

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If you seek, you will see

See seek

Prayer to Prevail

pray prevail

To prevail, pray.

Prepare to prevail

prepare prevail

There’s no monkeying around. If you want to win, you have to work at it. No matter what you do. Don’t practice until you can do something. Practice until you cannot fail at something.

Chinese on the football team

Chinese study in US

Henry with Coach and Coach’s wife after the win.

When Henry got saved, he announced his intention to play football next year. I know football runs deep in our church and school since our head pastor was an NFL player, but is football part of conversion?

Not only did the 100-pound kid follow through, he also convinced three other Chinese students in our Santa Monica Christian school, the Lighthouse, to also play. At first these inexperienced players weren’t much help. They stood around and wondered what to do. Their limited English impeded their learning the game. Game after game, the Saints got overrun.

No more. In fact, it was the Chinese to tilted Saturday’s game. Raymond, a student I host, snagged not one but two late interceptions that helped the Saints overcome the deficit and win. Woohoo! This is the way to evangelize!

Read the full story here.

Hurt or be hurt


When three years ago, Ricky Rand got his shoulder dislocated and was writing on the ground in pain, I thought it would play into my hand. I was doing everything I could to dissuade Rob, my son, from playing football. After all, he’s a soccer player. Our small Christian school would just have to do without him. But Rob wanted to play.

As we walked back to the car, I leaned over to my son, then in the 8th grade, and asked if he still wanted to play, after seeing the upperclassman in excruciating pain.

“Yes. I’m going to do that to the other team.”

Rob won our standoff. I struck a deal with him. I would not sign the medical release form unless he worked out as hard as he could all summer long. I had the vague notion that muscle keeps bones and joints together.

Today Rob is a junior. In last night’s victory against La Verne Calvary Baptist, my son scored six touchdowns. While other kids played videogames, he ran. While other kids watched T.V., he pumped iron.

There is a principle here. Prepare, prepare, prepare if you want to prevail.

If you don’t want to be hurt by the devil, you have to hurt him.

Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica is happy I lost to Rob. And I’m proud of him.

Romancing Ruth

RuthShe chooses poverty, discrimination and likely abuse all to be with her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. What gets into Ruth to leave behind the connections and culture of Moab and go to Bethlehem, where she has no chances?

Without any job opportunities, she decides to “glean” behind the harvesters, a back-breaking sun-scorching 12 hours of picking up dropped grains in which you’d expect to get about one meal for one person. A panhandler in the U.S. fares far better.

Yet she was hot. Since she was a foreigner, someone could have taken advantage of her, and she couldn’t expect legal protections. Ruth opened herself to all these dangers and adversities to be loyal to her new family and serve God.

God has a way of honoring those who honor Him. Boaz takes note of her sacrifice and kindness rendered to her mother-in-law. Eventually he marries her. As a result, her finances and future are secured.

The Day of the Lord/ The Day of His Visitation

The Day of the Lord

I want to thank whoever originated this image. It is stirring. I don’t own its rights, and I’m not making any money on it.

Two widely used Old Testament terms appear synonymous.

  1. the Day of the Lord
  2. the Day of His Visitation.

In fact, they are polar opposites. The first is for judgement, the second, mercy.

Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be of darkness, not light – Amos 5:18 NIV. By contrast, Naomi fled famine in Bethlehem to Moab, but when she heard the Lord had “visited” her people by giving them rain (food), she returned (Ruth 1:6).

This is more than delving into Scripture deeper than most people care for because of the Day of our Lord Jesus. Was Jesus’ advent a “Day of the Lord” or a “Day of His Visitation?”

The answer is both. His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection was God’s judgement on the world, diverted onto Christ. It was also God’s favor because we were lavished with His grace — His restoring forgiveness.

Such Bible study should stir us to praise as we marvel over the wonderful conclusion that Jesus Christ brought to the progressive revelation in the Old Testament.