- law: God’s guidance
- rod: God’s favor
- jar: God’s provision
And that’s we go to church for. That’s what we get from God by seeking Him:
And that’s we go to church for. That’s what we get from God by seeking Him:
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.
Comparisons 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.
No critic was severer of me than me.
Virtually friendless in high school, I lacked confidence and avoided the risks that would lead me to success. But through the years, I have fundamentally changed (though not totally). Here’s how:
1. Discover your unique giftings. Eventually I discovered that I did have strengths and gifts, though these were not appreciated by anyone or registered by any test designed to show strengths. This is a Biblical truth: God has NOT made person void of some talent.
Just like parts of a car, you can’t do without even one of them. The car will break down. Each part is critical to proper functioning. Through the years, I saw that I was no exception to this rule. I was valuable and realized God made me with special giftings for my special calling.
Critics may focus your deficiencies. They are blind to your abilities. Too much attention paid to other people can deflate your self-esteem.
2. Turn around the toxic environment wisely, as best you can. It’s downright discouraging being surrounded by people who drag you down. What can you do? Appeal to your family members to look at positives more than negatives.
I turned around the nay-saying non-family by repeating back to them what they were saying to me. When someone criticized me, I criticized me in the same way. And they were horrorized to hear my self-criticism. It was as if I raised up a mirror to their faces, and they saw how ugly it was what they were doing. They stopped.
3. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Accept yourself for who you are. If people don’t like the fact that I’m sensitive, that’s fine. I’m not going to pretend to be something different. If they don’t like it, then I’ll look for friend elsewhere. Find friends who appreciate you for what you are.
These lessons of life came to the surface with my recent participation in a basketball tournament at the school where I teach. Basketball is not my game, so I tried to get out of it. But my friend, Zach, really wanted me — because he’s a true friend, not because he wanted to win.
Would you believe we wound up winning the tournament. I didn’t believe I had talents for basketball but I used what I had, and Zach did the rest. I’m learning to be less of a self-critic.
Thank you for your prayers.
More than 40 people were healed miraculously. Pastor Charlie Forman has an anointing for praying for the sick. A lady with stage-4 pancreatic cancer got up and went to her daughter’s wedding. A lady with a walker doesn’t need her walker. One leg grew out 3 inches. A 75-year-old with back pain got down on the floor and did three pushups to check if he was in fact healed.
We played soccer and enjoyed the best of Guatemala cuisine (beans and rice with Jesus Christ forever! oh, and they gave me some tasty cinnamon buns.).
The best thing was just the sense I got that 16 years of labor were not in vain. There are people who thank me for changing the direction of their lives. People are still getting saved.
It makes me want to keep going for Jesus.
Christopher Hitchens couldn’t get by without alcohol. He said it helped him cope with boring people. I guess pretty much everybody in his life was boring. He was too intelligent. Why is heroized?
I find exquisite joy in saving souls. I have no need for chemical-induced happiness. Elder is the latest.
When I went to Guatemala, he pretty much came to every service, outreach and discipleship. This is new for him.
Typically, the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta yielded one soul for year. By some measure, that’s pretty slim harvest, a gargantuan amount of work for just one soul out of a school of 150 kids. But if you consider that the one soul each year stays through all the years, it’s not bad. It’s not easy to save souls, even in Guatemala.
But now things seem to be picking up. Elder wasn’t the only one. There were three or four kids coming into the fold.
Before my atheist friends rankle, keep in mind that he who comes to church gets out of drugs, alcoholism, wife-beating, marital unfaithfulness, and — frequently — poverty as well.
It is exquisite joy to see all that. The Bible says that all the angels in Heaven have a party — for just one soul. Me too.
… it makes all the difference.
I prayed for years for a bus for the ministry in Guatemala, and finally got one. But it kept breaking down and was more costly than it was worth.
On the other hand, I never tried to form a marching band, even though I liked the idea and said, “Amen!” to the people who suggested it for our school. I basically said, “Whenever God wants to give us a band, He’ll do it.”
And He did. He brought in a person who wasn’t even saved to teach all the kids to play. Out of candy sales, He raised up money to buy all the instruments. I’m amazed to this day how this miracle happened.
For years now, the marching band has been instrumental (excuse the pun) for outreaches. We march down streets playing and hand out of flyers. Instead of knocking on doors, the people come out to see and hear.
Now that I have been out of Guatemala, the band continues to be a powerful tool. What I wanted and tried so hard to get (the bus), flopped. What I didn’t even try to get (the band) succeeded wildly beyond my imagination.
Look to God and wait. Stop straining to do what you think. Just believe. He will act upon His will.
We were losing miserably, but I wasn’t miserable. We were down 4-1 in the first half, which is the kind of score in soccer that usually makes you pray for the end of the match to hurry forward. It’s a humiliation, and I wasn’t humiliated.
In fact, I was downright buoyant! I knew we were going to come back and win. Why? Because I was on Mario’s team.
I learned soccer as a missionary at 35 years of age. Mario was a master. He plays dominant soccer. He never gives up. He fixes the problems by scolding the kids (or me). He always comes from behind. I can’t remember the time he lost.
In the second half, the other team wore out. We started clicking. At the end of the day, we won 8-5. I played horribly, as was to be expected from a guy who’s been blogging more than jogging. But who cares? My team won! Ha!
So too, when you’re on Jesus’ team, no matter what the score, you don’t worry. You don’t pray for the end of the match to come. You don’t panic. You don’t entertain the stupidity of changing sides. He’ll effect the come-back. He’ll make the adjustments to make the church work. Ha!
And if you play poorly, who cares? You win. Because you belong to the winning team.
At 11 years of age, a former student told his little brother and sister to not move while he hung himself in front of them. The tykes obeyed.
What angst or demon would a boy to such unthinkable horrors as rival the Holocaust? I cannot comprehend. It tears me up inside. What could we have done to avoid this?
We don’t win every battle. We lose some badly. Amid the exultings of success stories lurk the blackest stains of those who chose not to listen to the word of God, who opted for worldliness instead of godliness.
I’m sorry, but I can’t get excited about a celeb’s fashion faux paux. When you have lived ravages, it’s impossible to dwell on the frivolous.
It galls to hear atheists revile Christians as a great evil. I assure you: It was not a Christian that drove that kid to twisted thoughts, emotions and actions. It was something sinister. It was something we Christians fight against.
Can you be moved to act? Christianity needs Christians who are not side-tracked by selfish desires, who take up the weight of prayer, who take the Good News of hope to the streets.
We lost one. Near you, there’s one who’s on the verge of being lost. Only you are within reach to help, if you will let yourself be moved.
I’ve known churches that dive kamikaze when the pastor leaves, so naturally I was anxious. But it’s been four years since I sought refuge in the United States from criminal threat. And the church my wife and I started 20 years ago is thriving. So too the school.
It feels like I died. (At just about anybody’s funeral, all the good things are remembered. When somebody dies, you see what his impact was.)
“I don’t know who he is, but I’m going to go give him a hug,” one schoolkid said. The kids thronged me. My eyes misted… Even those who never knew me appreciate the years of toil to establish a work of God.
People are still getting saved. The school continues to be a safe harbor. The disciples continue to labor to extend God’s kingdom.
For the first time in my life, I can see a legacy. And I ask myself: What will my legacy be in the United States?
A good chunk of my life went to the mission field — almost 16 years planting churches and a school in Guatemala. It’s been four years since I left, and now that I visit, I see miracles, miracles, miracles. Miracles continue.
These kids have an environment free from bullying, free from cutting, free from drugs, free from pornography, free from so many quicksand pits that are swallowing the lives of our youth.
To be sure, there have been failures. One kid who was expelled is now dead. Another just got out of jail. Another got pregnant out of wedlock. Not all the stories are success.
But there are undeniable testimonies of revolutionized lives. One kid unwittingly ran the errands of narcs. He had been kicked out of every school he enrolled prior. Today, he is an upstanding parent and put his girl in our school. Excuse me while tears well up. Jesus did this. I just let my life be used.
It took oodles of prayer and oodles of work, but it was all worth it. And the momentum continues. Miracles of salvation and healing continue. Pray for the Door Church in Guatemala.