Tag Archives: relationships

With the world at his feet but friendless

alexanderIn Oliver Stone’s biopic Alexander, the Great Greek conqueror rules the world but despairs when his only friend dies and then willingly imbibes poisoned wine.

His mother’s boast that he would rule the world due to her conniving (she arranges the murder of her husband when he gets a second wife — which threatens Alexander’s chances at the throne). But having the world proves hollow for the successful general. He can trust no one.

It’s lonely at the top.

Friends are better than riches and accomplishments, which all remain here on Earth and convert into dust when our immortal souls pass into eternity. Friendships alone remain.

Make the journey home

journey home

Jacob so longed to be in the Promised Land that he order his bones be carried there from Egypt, which was done — incredibly — 400 years later!

It’s time for you to go home. To your spouse and children. Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home — Proverbs 27:8 ESV. Happiness is NOT in the wild life, it’s in the hearth.

It may be difficult to work out lasting relationships. It’s easy to throw it all away and believe the the lie that you’ll find something better elsewhere.

Kids need mom and dad at home. That’s where the greatest joy is, not with the “guys” doing guy things in the world. Don’t think the settled life is boring. God’s design brings the greatest and most lasting happiness for everyone.

This holiday season, don’t just go home in your car. Go home in your heart.

Go ahead, have an affair (with your spouse)

rekindle romanceOnce the rush of falling in love, the anxiety and thrill of finding out its shared, once it’s gone, if you’re human you may be tempted to feel it again.

Go ahead. Just feel it again with your spouse.

I lavished my fiance with 1,000 little details to show her my love. Once she was conquered, I turned my energies to other conquests. I didn’t mean to abruptly turn off the romance. Actually, I thought she would understand. Actually, I thought she would be proud of my next achievements.

Women, it would seem, don’t work that way. After 1,000 signs of affection, they want a steady diet. And that’s sometimes tough for us men to remember. Please try to understand: most men turn into ogres out of ignorance; honest, we’re not con men. It’s just our hardware. Once a trophy is attained, we look for the next trophy: in business, sports, wherever.

Guys, we need to do what we first did when our wives were girlfriends or fiances. Ladies, do the same: those oooo’s and ah’s you rained down on your man, bring them on again. Complaining and b witching won’t get anything good. A couple where both sides refuse to take the initiative to rekindle romance is headed for troubled waters.

So take the initiative: Strike a match. Don’t be surprised if your spouse doesn’t automatically warm up with just one. You may need to strike matches repeatedly before the fire rekindles. Give it time.

Friendship is the bomb!

friendsThis side of eternity, the greatest thing is having friends.

How do I pray? Keep the house united

Civil War ReenactmentsHow do I pray? The importance of unity.

I saw a Civil War battle reenactment in Genesee Country Village and Country Museum near Rochester, New York. Being from the West Coast, I had never seen anything so astounding.

Genesee Village and Country MuseumThe Union troops dislodged the invading Confederates from the village and then re-engaged in the afternoon on the open field. Canons thundered. Plumes of white smoke squirted six feet out of muskets. Soldiers died writhing in acted pain. In the village, there was even a surgeon’s tent where they explained the horrors of a five-minute amputation, necessary to save lives with the bone-shattering musket balls.

Civil War amputations

A reenactor explains tying off blood vessels.

The Civil War was a horror. More American lives died there than in World Wars 1 & 2, Korea, and Vietnam combined. In it, brother killed brother.

Spectators at Civll War reenactment

My daughter, Rebekah, and I, after the battle.

Rightly, Jesus warned against a house divided against itself. Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift — Matt. 5:24 NIV. The need is so pressing to conserve unity that you should interrupt your prayer time to restore fellowship. Disunity blunts prayer’s power. Let not your church become a Civil War. The church is supposed to horrorize Hell’s henchmen. But when we turn on rifles on each other, we become a laughingstock for demons’ delight.

Civil War muskets

My sons, Robert and Hosea, hold Union muskets

Conflict occurs because people wrongly think they must compete against other members of the church for preeminence. It’s a worldly concept of dog-eat-dog, put-others-down-so-I-can-climb-on-top, that should be left in the world.

How do I pray? Keep the house unitedStriving for unity pleases God — and blesses your prayer. You can’t control what people do to you, but you can control how you respond. Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace — Eph.4:3 NASB. Do all YOU can to preserve oneness.

The Civil War ravaged our nation. May our churches be spared of division. How do I pray? Keep unity.

Of the story of my life, she’s the best part

My life with Dianna has been the best: 22 years.

from imgfav

from imgfave

In others’ condemnation lies our own

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Animation thanks to On r’fait le film

I was completely unprepared for my 9th grade class to so roundly criticize Willy Loman from Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman. He’s meant to represent the average American male in futile pursuit of the hoax called the American Dream.

The students admitted no merit to the man. He was unfaithful, a failed businessman, a liar, prideful, insane, a sufferer of delusions of grandeur. He deserved no sympathy in his stupid and tragic end. Never mind that he was hard-working, sacrificial, concerned about his family, the class ganged up on me when I spoke of his redeeming qualities!

When I was a pastor, I was neither as good nor as bad as people said. Some praised me excessively; others criticized me too much. The truth was and is that I am a mixture of both good and bad, saint and sinner, hypocrite and sincere, neither black nor white — just gray — like the rest of humanity.

The saddest thing is NOT perfectionism, puritanism, or Phariseeism. The depressing thing is that hyper-critics eventually wind up in their own crosshairs. Eventually you stub your own toe, and then Satan echoes back to you every harsh word you uttered over others’ failures. When this happens, you fall away from Christ: since there was no grace for others, there’s no grace for you.

Wisely, Jesus said: Judge not lest you be judged. If you have mercy on others, you’ll get mercy yourself. Prayer is NOT for exulting your superiority; it is a time of empathy and compassion for others.

The need for beauty — and prayer

from pinterest

from pinterest

The reason why Instagram, Pinterest and other photo-hosting sites are popular is because people crave beauty. I consider observing beauty a basic urge, on par with receiving love.

When I was a literature major, I hungered for a good book, one with jeopardy, three-dimensional characters, and a reasonable but surprising denouement. Above all else, it must evoke meaningful themes that leave reflection lingering.

This is why I pray. I am pursuing the happy ending to the senseless chaos in the lives of people around me. You can watch a drama.

from pinterest

from pinterest

You can admire an art. You can take pictures.

Or you can create living art, the transformation of lives freed from the dungeon of lostness, liberated to the thrill of love, purpose and family found only in God. Some snap photos, others brandish brush, I bow my head.

Broke girls as praying girls

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

Being broke is good — for prayer.

I often rued the crushing mortgage that crowded my prayer time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful just to pray for souls and not have to worry about dollars? Alas, now I no longer have such mind-numbing payments — and now (I’m ashamed to admit) it’s hard to raise the temperature of my prayers.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

Don’t despair the problem driving you to your knees! Worse is flatlining! The Salvation Army’s founder went so far as to say he wanted his workers in debt to guarantee they would constantly pray!

When the answer does not immediately come, there is a need for patience. Don’t stress out, burn out or flame out. Stick to prayer. God is answering!

I haven’t seen the “Two Broke Girls,” the

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

latest drivel from Hollywood. I only know that being broke — whether you’re two girls, three guys, or a ministerial family — has a flip side.

Praying again

People don't stay too "long" with prayer. Pic from Pinterest

People don’t stay too “long” with prayer. Pic from Pinterest

It’s not that He prayed imperfectly. Jesus wanted to show us the supreme importance of persisting in prayer. Don’t quit; the answer’s coming!

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored – Mark8:25 NIV. The first time Jesus prayed, the healing was partial. Not because he couldn’t pray right the first time. No.

He wanted to show what he taught in the

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-7.

That parable is unusual because most lack explicit interpretations. But Luke 18:1 says: Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Is there anything faster than people giving up on marriage, a diet, and prayer? You ought to hang with all three because good will result!

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!

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!

Wreck-It Ralph fixes

imagesPassing through the power cables at an old school video arcade from one game to another, a hulking, 9-foot tall wrecker named Ralph strikes up a friendship with feisty, pint-sized girl racer named Vanellope. Because she’s a images-2“glitch,” they won’t allow her to race with the other girls in Candyland.

This charming movie has won my heart because it’s about relationships. No one hardly is aware of others’ experiences images-1with rejection. In one scene, Fix-It Felix Jr. whines to his villain counterpart Ralph about suffering unrequited love. “You wouldn’t know anything about it,” he complains.

“Yes, I do,” Ralph responds. “It’s the story of my life everyday.”

02WRECKIT1_SPAN-articleLargeFelix’s countenance softens. He finally understands that the “bad guy” in his game feels left out by the others. The heart-warming takes place on various levels of conflict and misunderstanding.

images-3The story is highly imaginative and the interaction between video game characters, both known and unknown to gamers, is delightful. The movie is a gem amidst the piles of rubbish churned out by Hollywood. The plot never images-4bores. (Most movies make my eyes glaze, and I usually just walk out of the room from boredom.)

Wreck-It Ralph is more than just a great children’s movie. It is absolutely a contribution to humanity. Wreck-It Ralph wrecks buildings but fixes friendships.

 

I’m the Q. She’s the U.

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With the whole family

With the whole family

No resume polishing here.

I couldn’t have been the 16-year missionary without Dianna — she’s the heroine. She’s given unconditional support through 22 years of marriage and ministry. She’s tightened the belt. She’s shouldered burdens. She’s always IMG_0963had a good attitude.

Since we got back to the States, SHE HAS WORKED to support me while I continue to minister. More than a few would call me (and it hurts) a flake, a loafer.  I pursue the dream while she pursues the paycheck. (Working in ministry usually implies sacrifice. For every mega pastor abusing the system with an eye-popping salary, there are 10,000 pastors living at poverty level just to help people, but they don’t get the press.)

IMG_0920I’m the Q and Dianna’s the U. Without her, I’m completely useless. She’s the other half orange that makes me a whole orange (as they say in Guatemala). Any applause for me must be deflected her way.

This tribute also seeks to be an exhortation: Pastors, may the New Year bring more appreciation from you for your wife.

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.

The real reason…

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

… you didn’t get so many gifts this year, is not the recession.

May the gift of laughter — as well as the gift of gratitude — be with you this year. Merry Christmas!

(That pesky NRA!)

 

No room in my home

WinpyChristianLast night at church, the pastor issued a plea for a new couple, Jose and Mary, who were evicted and needed a place to stay until they get back on their feet. They are just recently moved here, and she’s pregnant — nine months. Can you believe that?

Why would they get pregnant without lots of dough stashed away in the bank? They no doubt don’t have health insurance, so it’s a typical case of taking advantage of the system. People need to be more responsible and stop looking for handouts.

I am voting for our family to NOT pitch it. We can’t simply help every time there’s a need. The way I see it, every  dime that goes to charity is one less for my Christmas presents, and I’m hoping for the biggest haul ever this year!

Why don’t Mary and Jose go to THEIR parents. I’ll bet not even Santa Claus will give them anything. They probably didn’t behave themselves.

But the worst thing is that Mom and Dad talked about letting them stay at our house, at least on the couch. That’s creepy! Can you imagine running into the living room to open my goodies bright and early Christmas morning — and these strangers are there. What if they run off with the gifts during the night and disappear? Let them go to some homeless shelter to give birth there.

**** “Manual,” the fictitious persona of the Wimpy Christian, thanks the Wimpy Kid for his attitude and applies it to the church.

 

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.

Don’t pray small

treeOften, the struggling pastor goes only for subsistence. He prays for just enough to pay bills and keep the church open. It’s true that God takes us through years of skinny cows, but He never wanted us to succumb to unbelief. He tells us to pray believing for ever bigger things. We fail to pass the test when we scale down our prayer requests, as if we ask too much, or as if God doesn’t want to give us. Bigger is in His interest because His kingdom grows. So go for something outrageously huge next prayer!

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.

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.