Tag Archives: inspiration

Our band in the newspaper

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The copy of Nuestro Diario Sept. 16 page 4 featuring the band of the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.

The Guatemalan school my family and I started got into the newspaper today for its courage marching through drenching rain. Their courage, sacrifice and service to Christ is an example to us First World Christians who find all the reasons to NOT soldier through. And they make me proud. I see that 16 years of labor on the mission field was not in vain but left hardcore disciples.

The Liceo Bilingue La Puerta‘s marching band competed and won a spot in the national Independence Day parade (Sept. 15 for Guatemala). And they marched on despite rain that got them wet to the bones.

Discouragement

discouragementWe tend to think discouragement is a feeling, not a sin.

But because of discouragement, Daniel’s contemporaries let themselves go. Exiled to Babylon, ripped out of their beloved homeland, deprived of hope, there was nothing to live for. With only depression, without a future, without hope, they might as well live it up. They would eat all the king’s delicious food in his service. Who cares that it contaminated them? that it was dedicated to idols? After all, what would be the point of consecrating themselves to God? All was lost in the exile.

But Daniel decided to avoid the unholy food and wine. He continued to consecrate himself to God.

At the end of the day, he never returned to Israel. He spent the rest of his life in exile, as a counselor (slave) to foreign kings. But he made impact for God in foreign lands. The book of Daniel is the account of how God ceased to be for the Jews only. He started being the God of all nations. Jonah, Daniel and Esther are necessary stepping stones to Jesus, who ultimately was and is the Savior of all nations.

While Daniel’s contemporaries lost hope, God was initiating a completely different plan. They couldn’t imagine what God had up His sleeve, so they “let themselves go.”

Daniel is a great example to me.

Recklessness

recklessness

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Ultimately, the chosen became the rejected. Saul was too rash, too unthinking, too disposed to decisions based on convenience, not correctness. Thus the king lost his kingdom.

When commanded by God to destroy all the riches of the Amalekites, Saul let himself be swayed by the people’s cravings for plunder.

When he was supposed to wait for Samuel to offer sacrifice, Saul unwisely performed priestly duties that didn’t correspond to him.

God revoked Saul’s kingship and gave it to David.

When you are young and immortal (tongue in cheek), you are prone to imprudence. As you grow older, (hopefully) you grow wiser. It’s a good thing to grow out of — if you live through the stupid stunt stage.

Stubbornness

stubbornness

They crossed the line. One too many times, the Israelites provoked God. After He showed them His goodness by giving them food and water and delivering them powerfully from the Egyptians, they accused Him of being bad. They complained that it would have been better to die wandering in the desert than die by the sword taking possession of the Promised Land.

So God let that be a self-fulfilled prophecy. A generation died in the desert. Forty years later, the next generation of Israelites rose up and possessed the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership.

That generation was too accustomed to a mouth that constantly b-tch-d — mmm, complained bitterly.

If you dig in your heels and insist on sinning, the consequences could be grave.

Complaining

complaining

The Israelites were five-star complainers. God freed them from 400 years of slavery. He brought them through the Red Sea. He gave them the gold of the Egyptians.

For nothing were they grateful. They b–ched about too hot, too cold, hungry, don’t like this, thirsty, etc., etc., etc. And they kept saying the unthinkable: It would have been better for us to stay in Egypt.

REALLY??? Remaining under heavy oppression is better than freedom?

Complaining is poison to your marriage, poison to your family, poison to your church, poison to your life. It steals your joy. It derives from a sick sense of entitlement (“I deserve better.”) Why do we think we deserve better?

Can we just enjoy what we have?

Despising (scorn, contempt, ingratitude)

despising

Jacob was despicable, but Esau despised God.

So — despite Jacob’s lies, deception, betrayal, disloyalty and other reprehensible behavior, he was chosen because Esau was worse.

Esau despised his birthright. He despised his call in God. He despised the need to separate himself from the world. As difficult as it is to believe, what he did was worse, so God opted for Jacob to carry the line of the raising of the nation of God’s people.

Do you see how bad despising (scorn, contempt, ingratitude) is?

Do you despise God? Do you despise what He has given you:

  • your family (parents, spouse, children)
  • your possessions
  • your upbringing
  • your looks
  • your talents

America wishes for more, always more. There’s a good side in the drive to better our circumstances. There’s also a bad side when we criticize the good gifts God has given us thinking we deserve better. How many youth abandon the church because they “deserve” something better.

The irony is that Esau, seeking more, got less.

He wanted to eat, so he sold his birthright. He wanted a pagan wife. When that caused problems, he got a second one (which never was the plan of God).

God passed over Esau and selected Jacob to inherit the promises.

(Of course, he had to work Jacob over a bit, make him reap what he sowed for about 20 years to teach him NOT to sin. But at the end of the day, Jacob got the blessing of God.)

Jealousy

I don't own the rights to this picture, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money on it.

It’s the second sin to appear in the Bible. Second after pride, it’s deadly, even if it’s not counted among the “7 deadly sins.” Carried away by jealousy, Cain killed his brother, Abel.

It kills friendships.

Jealousy is being upset over what others have that I don’t. If I can’t have, then neither should you, is the thought that carries the jealous to extremes. In Guatemala, I have see neighbors burn the cars of their neighbors for jealousy. In the U.S., we defame a person over internet.

Jealousy

  • prevents me from enjoying what I have.
  • makes me obsess with what others have.
  • constantly makes comparisons.
  • leads to insults.
  • breaks up relationship.
  • makes me feel lousy.
  • creates war.

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.

My son, at 16, is working for NASA

LCA student works for NASA

In the background, Rob Ashcraft participates in some hands-on work with NASA.

No kidding! No, he’s not a child prodigy. It’s simply a story how if you stay where God has planted you and remain faithful, He’ll bring big opportunities to you. Read the full story.

Rob made a wise but hard decision to give up summer fun for a pre-calculus class. He wanted to be an engineer, so he wanted a jump on math. It turns out the teacher, a member in our church, was working on NASA’s antenna for the 2020 Mars rover (yes, they’re still looking for life up there). Eventually, he invited Rob to see the practical applications of the math he was working on.

What an opportunity! To work on a NASA project! Being exposed to greatness doesn’t make you great, but it sure gives you the chance to aim for greatness. See also.

In memory of Robin Williams (voices in your head)

voices in my headFor many people, the negative rant you hear in your head actually goes audible. And science can’t adequately explain it, so they pretty much dismiss it. It’s wonderfully consoling to know that you are not going crazy. Those voice are actually real. Robin Williams confessed to hearing voices in an under-reported interview: “You have an idea there’s a dark force when you’re in that space, and it’s totally the opposite of doing the right thing… You’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump!’” Unfortunately, he ultimately listened to those voices and hung himself.

Those voices are demons. They hate all humans. They come to us because of sin. They literally want to take you and me to Hell. In the name of Jesus, you can rebuke them, and they have to flee. Read the Bible. Confess your sins to God. Get some mature Christian to help you with prayer. Begin to director your life more and more towards God and away from sin.

My mom was a counselor in the Sylmar juvenile hall facility in the L.A. area, at the time, the largest in the nation. Kids would come to her to share the frightening secret: they were hearing voices. Frequently, those voices were telling them to kill, either another person or themselves. Guards and psychologists had told these kids they were crazy. My mom no. She prayed for them. They got free from the voices. They had opened themselves to hear those voices from their gang activities (violence, drugs, murder, other things).

As we saw from Robin Williams, you don’t have to be a gang-banger to wrangle with demons. The further you stray from God’s plan, the greater the danger you can actually to start to hear these mean voices.

I feel for the girl who’s cutting, the guy who’s taking anti-depressants, the alcoholic who’s gone over the edge. You can be a supposed mirth-filled person (like Williams) and be struggling privately with deep melancholy. Whatever the case, Jesus IS the answer. Doping people up doesn’t help. Counseling can help. But the real solution is God.