Tag Archives: motivation

Have an honest moment with Jesus

honest moments with JesusWe affect behavior in front of others and worry too much what others think about us. When have we taken a moment to be honest alone with Jesus? Drop the appearances, be yourself, ask for help.

Do you have time for Jesus in your life? Can you set aside the internet, the news, the funny videos? Read your Bible and pray a bit? Don’t be surprised if He responds.

Keep it simple

simplicity
Sometimes we want to make the gospel complicated because we have worked so hard. We don’t want it to be easy for newcomers. We have fasted. We have fought the flesh. We have prayed all night. I did it, so you must do it.

But Paul (who did more than any of us) exhorts us to keep it simple. The gospel is simple: Believe in Jesus and be saved. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ. – 2 Cor. 11:3 KJV (caps mine).

Romans 10:9 similarly makes it simple: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (NIV).

It was the Pharisees and Jewish leaders who added rule upon rule, making it harder to get into Heaven. Considering they ultimately rejected Christ, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be like them. Some of us are going to be very surprised to see lots of people in Heaven, people we thought wouldn’t make it because they didn’t follow all our rules.

Simplicity is beautiful. Let’s not deprive the gospel of its beauty.

Jesus on blogging

Jesus on bloggingGive love. WordPress only has a “like” button. Blogging is not about you. It is about others. Give like love to others and leave comments.

Keep it short. Much has been written about Jesus, but He Himself? To the point. The sayings of Jesus would fill only a small pamphlet. The gospels about Him are brief and beautiful. On the blogosphere, you’re not writing a college monography that considers every angle.

Use pictures. Jesus spoke word pictures (called parables) that livened up his teaching. Take a lesson from Him.

Multiply. Jesus multiplied loves and fishes. You need to multiply your blog on other social media.

Be patient. Some want to go viral overnight. Jesus worked painstakingly with 12 disciples. Even then, Peter disowned Him at a critical moment. Only after Jesus restored Peter post-resurrection did the investment of time pay out.

Share. I’m troubled by Christians who worry more that their ideas don’t get plagiarized than about the gospel getting spread. Whose message is it anyway? The internet is the place for sharing. If somebody steals your idea, take it as a compliment and work on the next stroke of genius.

Serve your followers. Jesus had 12 disciples to whom He dedicated special attention. Don’t get so big-headed that you forget the people who helped your blog grow and become popular.

Love your enemies. Blogging is not about being a Pharisee, about condemning others and claiming to have the only truth. It’s about sharing ideas and treating others with respect. If your ideas are good, they’ll stand by themselves. You don’t need to be like James and John who wanted to call down fire from Heaven to burn the Samaritans.

I’d rather live a sermon than hear one

The End of The Day

Pic from http://www.michaelandersongallery.com I don’t own the rights to this photo, nor am I making any money on it.

There are Christians who love to hear sermon after sermon after sermon. Is this Christian entertainment? Do they ever have the chance to put into practice what they hear?

The purpose is the sermon is to affect actions; church is about change. There are things we should DO and things we should NOT DO. Christians must ACT in this world. Faith without works is dead. – James 2:20. If never translated into action, what good is it? It’s like the super obese. Food is good, but it’s purpose is to give us energy to DO. Too much food is unhealthy.

Rejoice always

rejoiceRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! — Phil 4:4 NIV.

Faith: Being relentless

relentlessNot giving up is faith.

But what’s even harder is to lose self

losing youself

I’m not talking about “losing yourself” in love. That’s easy.

I’m talking about getting rid of self-importance, putting others first, giving of yourself and not minding if no one takes note. Yeah, not standing up for your rights.

Perhaps this is the hardest. Satan’s temptation to Eve and Adam was to put themselves first: God was being a killjoy not letting them “become like Him knowing good and evil.” Wow, that’s alluring, to be like God!

Don’t degrade the human race’s father and mother though. We all do it every day.

LOL! This picture is so funny. Thanks: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Sanitaryum/posts “I wish I could lose weight as easily as I lose my keys, my pen, my cell phone, my temper and even my mind.” That’s a good laugh.

But it’s sobering to think about losing self. Help me, Jesus.

Gratitude

gratitude

Pic from gratitude-alittlegoesalongway.blogspot.com. I don’t own the rights to this image, nor am I making any money on it.

No sooner was the cupbearer freed from jail than he forgot his promise to help Joseph, who had interpreted his dream. Joseph had been imprisoned under false accusation. God was with nevertheless, even though the cupbearer forgot his debt for Joseph’s interpretation of the dream that Pharaoh would free him.

TWO YEARS LATER, Pharaoh has a dream that none of his sorcerers can interpret. Only then does the cupbearer remember his faults and tells Pharaoh about Joseph, who is promptly freed, washed, shaved and ushered into Pharaoh’s presence. He interprets Pharaoh’s dream, and his fortunes are changed.

Sadly, most of us fall in with the cupbearer. God has given us so many good things, and we don’t want to remember or acknowledge our debt of gratitude to Him.

Pain: when I think on my circumstances

Pain: when I think on my circumstancesJoy: when I think of others’ blessings.

I get discouraged by my own circumstances.

But when I think about other rising disciples in the church, I rejoice to see God blessing and using them.

Lesson learned: think about others.

Far gone?

far gone

image thanks to http://www.fanpop.com

Hope your family. Chance to get married. Dismal finances. Failing health. Forgiveness.

You may feel its too far gone. Happy days or wonderful dreams now seem other-worldly.

Such was the case of Jacob. His favorite son, Joseph, disappeared years ago, apparently victim to a savage animal. His other sons brought him proof of the horrid incident: a bloodied garment.

FOURTEEN YEARS later, Joseph surfaces in Egypt. He never was killed. He was sold in slavery. He’s been promoted to prime minister of Egypt. Jacob simply can’t believe his ears. He gave up hope so long ago and resigned himself to bitterness that now he dares not believe the report.

God has a way of bringing back to you impossibly lost days and dreams. That’s why you need to keep believing.

Asking God for too little

asklittlegetmuchHe asked for a handout. Peter gave him a healing.

Expecting to get some money, the crippled temple beggar directed his attention to Peter and John. Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk, Peter said in Acts 3:6 NIV.

He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God — Acts 3:8 NIV.

He got MUCH more from God than he expected.

Why do we downsize our prayers? Why down scale down our faith?

God is NOT:

  • offended if we ask big.
  • unable to give.
  • displeased by too much faith.
  • upset by our audacity.
  • budgeting his company.
  • on a diet Himself.
  • scrimping to make ends meet.
  • requiring coupons.

To the contrary, we are ordered to move mountains, not molehills.

Make the finish line

make the finish lineThe Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon.

The marathon — 26 miles — is divided into two parts: 1) the first 25 miles, then 2) the last mile.

Forget about who’s first. Just finish the rest. Too many Christians burn out, get confused, get bitter or otherwise fall out of their orbit.

He who persevere to the end shall be saved. — Matt. 24:13.

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.

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.

Put to use your resources today

resources for GodThey received a stern command. They were NOT to store manna for the next day. Nevertheless, some Israelites disobeyed, and the delightful food provided by God on one day was completely filled with maggots the next.

Herein lies a great Biblical truth. God has given you resources — money, talent, time, energy. Use it for God today. Don’t hold over for tomorrow because you might not get the chance. It might rot.

Too many Christians plan to give to God at some future date, whether their service or their offerings. Stop putting it off. Do it today. The suffering masses of humanity need to be reached today with the Good News. The need is not going to be more acute or chronic tomorrow (it will if you don’t give today what God has called you to give).

Smile despite the trial

smile trialWhen we praise God through difficulties, we get the victory.

Greatness in the seed

seed apple treeHow does something so small as an apple seed produce something so big as the tree that produces sweet fruit that nourishes and delights?

Never despise the small beginnings of a seed. Do small things today towards a great result.

The road behind is better than the road ahead

blessings behindWe are taught to never look back, but sometimes we NEED to look back.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life — Psalm 23:6 NIV. There are times when all we see ahead are difficulties and trials. We forget how God has blessed us in the past.

Take a look in your rear view mirror. You’ll be surprised how God has changed the landscape.

Shame for the Name

shameThey departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. – Acts 5:41 KJV

Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.

Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.

Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.

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.

Showing off

showing offIn our through-the-Bible survey of sin, we come to the very interesting case of King Hezekiah, who simply showed off his riches.

Immediately after flaunting his treasures, the Prophet Isaiah came to him with an ominous message: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. — 2 Kings 20:17 NIV.

When I was a missionary in Guatemala, no one would ever flash their riches. If they did, criminals would strike.

We humans show off our cars, beauty, muscles, figure, clothes, watches, fans, likes, basketball skills, manliness… What do we NOT show off? Christians even show off their righteousness in the church.

It’s pride rubbish.

While showing off might bring you a perverse joy of provoking others to envy, it can bring no real good. It corrupts our heart.

We should accept people and love people. We should never be boastful in our actions.

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.

Inertia

inertiaThey were tired. So they didn’t finish conquering the Promised Land.

The new dominant force was content to allow a vestige of Canaanite population, now subjugated, in Israel. Some would call it humanitarian compassion.

Others would call it laziness.

Whatever you call it, the unconquered idolaters were the bane of Israel. Centuries later, both Israel and Judah were carried off to exile because Joshua’s generation was unwilling to fully carry out God’s plan.

Once you make a decision, then you face the toughest job of all: actually doing it.

Just look at gym memberships. The success of the gym business model depends on people NOT coming. If all who paid fees, the gym would be overrun with clients. The fact that your membership costs are low depends on nine others not coming.

Good intentions must lead to action. It is not enough to think.

Whether it’s getting your career on track or your spiritual life, your worst foe is not the economy or the devil. It is inertia.

Break out status quo today.

Here you can read about the other sins of this series: greed, stubbornnesscomplaining, deceit, despising, cowardice, unbelief jealousy, pride. Even if you’re not a Christian, you’ll be inspired to be a better person.

 

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?

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.

The most beautiful woman on earth

most beautiful womanis your wife. Don’t look elsewhere. Swoon your wife like you once won her when she was your girlfriend.

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Live Love Laugh Lord

live love laugh lord

If you want to fly, you have to try

If you want to fly, you have to tryYou have to believe you’ll fly if you’re going to leap out into the open space at height.

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.  – Isaiah 40:31 NIV.

Only the brave meet success. For fear of falling (failing), some become chickens, turkeys and penguins.

Don’t be ground-bound. Try to fly.

Set things in motion

set things in motionJesus only needed three years to launch the church. Everything He needed to do was done, and the momentum carried the work worldwide now for two millennia. You and I may need a bit more time to get things going.

Just because you make a New Year’s resolution doesn’t revolutionize your life. You need to act daily, consistently, upon the thought. You can totally turn your life around, but you need to build momentum.

Prayer sets thing in motion. Once the wave gets sent, it has incredible power. But power doesn’t come overnight. But once it gets started, it becomes unstoppable.

I planted a church in Guatemala for almost 16 years, and it’s still running today. What’s my next project?

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Build upon the good things.

Build

One act of kindness

one act of kindnessAbel Magwitch is a hardened criminal, a repeat offender who has no qualms over terrifying a small boy and threatening his life if he doesn’t steal food and a file for him.

Abel MagwitchBut one act of kindness radically changes his life. Pip brings the stolen food to the escaped convict, who also grabbing the file furiously frees himself from his leg iron in Victorian England.

Apparently, no one ever had done a turn of good for Magwitch, who is so grateful for the food and file that he turns his life around and becomes a hard-working businessman. Magwitch donates anonymously huge sums of money to Pip, a blacksmith’s apprentice, so he can raise his station in life.

Charles Dickens is rightly a classical author, because he makes us meditate about our own lives. Who can I transform with a simple act of kindness? Pip performed it under duress. Even so, it’s impact was revolutionary. How much more so if we give motivated by the love of Christ?

Good intentions are good, but…

good intentionsI have a student who failed. That was not his plan.

The trouble is that he never got far beyond planning. He didn’t get to work.

Daily work towards a goal is what is needed.

If you want to go to Heaven, you’ll need to walk with Christ daily. If you want an answer to prayer, don’t just think about it. Don’t just pray once. Don’t just make plans to pray, actually do it, regularly.

Peace for a suffering friend

peaceThink about Job’s friends. They wanted to console Job. But their theology was too black-and-white. Through some 20 chapters, they degenerated from help to hurt, from wanting to encourage to discouraging. Eventually, they just argued.

Don’t be like Job’s friends. They started on the right foot. The Bible says that when calamity slammed Job, they sat with him in silence for seven days, grieving with him. They showed strong moral support.

But then they searched for words. They sought reasons to explain the unexplainable. They spoke eloquently and gradually became enamored with their fine speeches and forgot about the purpose of uplifting the victim. Instead of infusing solace, they spiked Job. Dogmatism doomed them.

Their lack of words spoke more powerfully than the florid poetry they poured out trying to convince Job he was wrong. In the end, they did more harm than good. Eventually, the dragged Job into the fray and provoked him to some unwise statements. At the end, God rebuked them.

If only they would have finished like they started, friends showing mute affirmation.

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You’re a genius

grassroof

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More than Hercules could

Herculean feat

Shed the shackles

depressionThe Bible says to take captive every thought. It seems like we modern people struggle with self esteem and internal negativity. The worst rant is the accusing finger inside your heart.

As a Christian, I believe the chief work is done by Christ. But we Christians must do the work of focusing our thought life on positives. Maybe you’re surrounded by hounds who criticize. Maybe you need to cancel your EnvyBook account. It’s astonishing what a little Bible-reading and prayer can do to lift your spirits.

Credibility to speak

Harold WarnerWhen he was serving God, Pastor Harold Warner suffered a car accident that left him in a wheelchair. Recently, he needed an amputation for a nasty festering infection. So naturally it hit like a tidal wave at Bible conference when he declared: Through all the trials, I never doubted the goodness of God.

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Distractions

Distractions

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Pray Like You Mean It

Pray Like You Mean It

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The light is superior

Jesus is light

Completely turned around

completely turned aroundIs there anything more beautiful than a life completely turned around?

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True love

true love

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Wouldn’t you open it?

Bible

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Why church?

why church?

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Live for self?

livingforself

High school football on a bullet bike

high school football

Ricky Rand pulled off a never-before-seen touchdown.

SIMI VALLEY – By the end of the game, the Saints had swept to their fourth win, with a dominant 46-0 showing, but the game was over after the first play.

Lighthouse Saints Football

Principal Jack Mefford and Athletics Director Pam Sommer pose with our mascot, the Saint Bernard

That’s when Hillcrest Christian quarterback got pummeled by Lighthouse Senior Nate Peterson. Teammates said he catapulted the quarterback up five feet in the air and the poor guys hurtled back down to earth, like an aborted rocket launch, smashing his back on the turf. Maybe five feet’s an exaggeration. What’s sure is Peterson tackled low and used his weight smartly to topple the giant, who was rendered useless for the rest of the game.

where can I play varsity football?

Will and Nick after the game are all smiles. We wouldn’t have been able to play without Will stepping up to the plate.

Lighthouse Christian Academy is surprising pundits in 2013, undefeated so far. The reversal of fortunes from last year – in which LCA eked out only one win – is something like the difference between Friday night’s crucifixion and Sunday’s resurrection.

“Excellent, excellent, excellent,” crowed Coach Justin Kayne to his huddled, hoo-rahing Saints after they crushed their same-named Saints Hillcrest opponents in the Sept. 20 game.

Peterson the Pummeler also scored touchdowns. Rushing the ball for an estimated 200 yards, Peterson swerved and accelerated as if he had pulled a bullet bike out of his pocket, mounted it and blasted to unthinkable velocity that left opponents aghast, waving good-bye. He totaled three touch downs.

But if Peterson had an extraordinary game, Ricky Rand got the most extraordinary play. Rushing in on defense, Rand, in a nano second, realized he just as easily as sack him could steal the ball right out of his cocked, pass-throwing arm. Nicknamed “the Rand Corporation” because he gives the sensation there’s more than one of him on the field, Ricky ran unopposed for a touchdown. Watch 30-second video below:

But if “the Rand Corporation” astounded people with a play no one had ever seen before, it was Will Clancy, a measly 130-pound freshman, who arguably became the game’s hero. Will — whose older brother, Senior Nick Clancy, batted down two passes while rushing – only went on the field last game because key player Tex Hagoski injured his knee.

A newcomer to football, Will tried to mask his fear “I was scared for both Tex and myself,” he said. “Tex is my friend. I didn’t want him to have a broken leg. I was scared for myself. I didn’t want to have a broken leg.”

In his trial by fire last week, Will nabbed a fumble for a turnover against Rolling Hills. This week was his first full game. “I was excited,” he said. “I was still nervous. I was having trouble breathing because I have anxiety issues.”

Touchdowns were scored by Joseph “Raising Cain” Kayne (2), Peterson the Pummeler (3), “the Rand Corporation” (1).

With no more substitutes available, the 2013 squad lacks depth, so it will be difficult for them to equal storied Saints squads of years past that twice nearly won CIF championship. But given its lack of resources, it is certainly writing itself into high school football history and can rightfully join the Lighthouse legends of years gone by. Hillcrest went home crestfallen.

Goals