We were zombies. That is all.
Now, we are Christians. We are NOT better, holier, smarter, prettier — none of that. Sometimes we strike you as judgmental, shrill, annoying, killjoys, prideful, hypocritical. We are an abysmal reflection of the Father’s love.
But we definitely don’t want to be exclusivists. We want to welcome you with open arms to this marvelous life we have discovered, many of us serendipitously. We walked around living dead. The life we lived we thought was life; we found true life in the Son. We don’t want to exclude you from the Light, above all else.
Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” — John 3:3 NIV. Being born-again means we were once dead, though alive. Now we have come to true life in Him! Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me. — John 14:6 NIV. Jesus doesn’t say He’s a list of rules; He’s life. What’s more, He’s THE life. If you think you’re living life without Him, you still haven’t discovered the best life possible.
Start your life today! Love, joy and peace you never thought possible are yours for the taking right now. We are no longer zombies. You can join us.
When mom asked me if I liked the sermon on Sunday, I replied that I really enjoyed the text. She thought I meant the scripture, which was my attempt to confuse her. Because the truth is that I didn’t hear any of the sermon; I was busy texting the whole time.
As you can see, it wasn’t a completely a lie. All I can say is that it was a good thing mom kept cooking and didn’t ask anything else about the sermon, because I would have been hard-pressed to make things up.
I really thank God that I have one of those unlimited text plans. I think Jesus said to pray always, without ceasing. The way I see it I’m doing something like that. I’m somewhat Biblical because I’m constantly texting with my friends. That’s the “without ceasing” part of the verse.
Hey Jesus, here’s my msg 2 u:
George Washington owned slaves. Abraham Lincoln argued for the emancipated to be forcibly relocated to Belize. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t believe in the virgin birth or other tenets of orthodoxy.
As a result, modernists don’t believe in heroes — just because nobody’s perfect. Their solution? The anti-hero, the guy who’s only out for himself. Joseph Heller‘s hillarious Catch 22 protagonist exhibits no courage or redeeming characteristic.
Nevertheless, I believe in heroes. My purpose of exposing heroes’ sins is not to discredit them — any more than the Bible discredits David for his adultery, Abraham for his lies or Samson for his unbridled fleshliness.
To the contrary, I mean to encourage YOU to become a major league hero, in spite of your failings and
Dare to be a hero — despite your mistakes!
drawbacks. The dark spots don’t detract from their heroism — they only make them human. And you and I are human! Why do we rule ourselves out of being a hero?
We don’t even attempt to be a hero. Tragically, we instead give reign to the flesh and become anti-heroes. Why? Because we THINK we’re disqualified. I’m glad MLK Jr., G.W. and Honest Abe didn’t disqualify themselves from being heroes.
When Frank Ribery was two, his dad got into a car accident. Hundreds of stitches patched his face back up. He was lucky to be alive.
At no time did he let discouragements hold him down. He is a topflight footballer, now playing at Bayern Munich. He’s a delight to watch play. His trademark stutter-step and cutting in with the ball at his feet has made him a leader of the French national team. “This is my face; it is the one people know me by. I am happy with my face. Why shouldn’t I be happy?” he was quoted by the Sun.
He is an example of overcoming difficulties, of moving on after tragedy.
When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them — Luke 9:54-55 NIV.
A sharp contrast separates his disciples from Jesus — and that chasm remains today. While the “disciples” want to send bombs off to wipe out entire cities, Jesus proposes forgiveness and evangelization.
America has some Christian foundations, but all we can muster is war against Middle Eastern nations. We have no love to give. Let’s not expect anything good to come from the continuation of the Crusades. Until we share the gospel with these peoples, the hostilities will continue, and we won’t be able to expect safety at home any more.
Stop condemning others. Give them love. Someone said recently that America now spends yearly as much on mascot Halloween costumes as it does on missions. But the budget for military attacks is unlimited. Why do we do this? Because it’s easier to bomb peoples and just wash our hands of them.
In reality, I’m not taking a stand for or against military defense. I AM taking a stand against negligence on the behalf of Christians to pray and send missions. If we have no gospel to give, then we are left only with bombs. Jesus was willing to go to the cross for people’s salvation. What are we willing to do to spread the gospel? Because we are unwilling, we prefer to laud the use of bombs.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
At the Arkansas Crater of Diamonds State Park, you can find uncut diamonds in the 38-acre plowed fields for a $7 entrance fee. Most people like to dig, but it’s more effective to just walk around after recently plowed or rain has eroded away the topsoil. The diamonds you find are yours to keep.
It reminds me of prayer. Last
night, I found a diamond at my Saturday Night Prayer. God told me to pray long for a certain youth in the church. This morning, he answered the altar call.
Wow! This stuff works! (Even I, who write a blog largely on prayer, need to be reminded that prayer actually is efficient.) What else can I pray for?
I am a great admirer of gemstones, but souls are of far greater worth! I’ll even give you the money, if you can give me the souls!
Plastic surgery still can’t compete with plastic?
You might want to live for something truly worthwhile.
Success depends on putting up with interminable outrages.
Dash the the notion that success is 99% perspiration, etc. — hackneyed axiom.
People fail at marriage because they can’t take it anymore — only to remarry and have similar or new intolerable problems. People quit church because of ill-treatment — only to find new roughness at another, or worse, stop going altogether.
But success at personal relationships — which accounts for probably 90% of our true happiness — depends on the ability to overlook and/or forgive offenses. This life ability is not taught in our schools or lauded in our culture, which values only genius and has the patience of a subatomic particle.
The Bible, widely discredited in today’s world, has incredible wisdom for us nevertheless that, if we could open our minds enough to ignore the nay-sayers for just a little, would help us in the area we most need. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE… — Gal. 5:22 NIV. After these greats (love, joy, peace) comes the much-maligned, oft-overlooked quality of patience. If we could have more patience, we would stop blowing up our lives.
Calling it quits is no solution. It’s running away. It doesn’t solve any thing. We need to recover the stick-to-itiveness of previous generations. America became great in part because of perseverance, not the current-day cry-baby syndrome.
So what do you call a person who doesn’t put up with trash from anyone? Answer: lonely.
Posted in inspiration, Marriage
Tagged 99% perspiration, abuse, bear, forgiveness, Gal. 5:22, happiness, marital, marriage, outrages, patience, put up with, success, successful marriage
Jean Paul Sartre
Jean Paul Sartre wanted to be remembered fighting for causes of humanity around the world. This is quite ironic because he and his cohorts espoused existentialism, a philosophy which can affirm no other reality other than self-existence and self-affirmation.
Our modern world, without even knowing the profundities of philosophy, has basically adopted the existentialist outlook. But people largely haven’t caught on to helping others. You see, if all you can really know is between your ears, then you can live for yourself, please yourself, serve yourself, because you don’t even know if others exist, much less God.
The Bible is antithetical to all this non-sense. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. — 1 Cor. 10:24 NIV. If you exist, you DON’T exist for yourself but for others.
When I was in high school, my teachers indoctrinated me with existentialist teaching. It troubled me. As a youngster, I still didn’t have depth or perspective to see through the veneer of sophisticated arguments. I’m glad I held on to Jesus through the years.
Not so, many friends. The onslaught of teaching evolution, Marxism, existentialism and the like was the fusillade they didn’t survive. Those authors and teachers pointed students to a “reality” void of any purpose other than self-actualization.
Christianity does many wonderous things for you and to you. But eventually you are to mature and join Christ’s work in helping others. When you get to that point, you will discover the greatest happiness humanity can know: the satisfaction of serving God and people. Stop focusing on your self.
A little child may know that people fall in love. But until he grows up and experiences the rapturous rush of emotion of loving and being loved, his knowledge is only factual.
Honestly, most people only have a factual knowledge of the love of God. Were they to FALL IN LOVE with God, it would be TOTALLY DIFFERENT. The person who is intoxicated with love wants to spend even the time and money they don’t have with the person they love. He laughs at the person who has never experienced it: You just don’t know what love is. You may know about love intellectually. But you don’t KNOW until you have experienced it.
Before I met my wife, I knew the feeling of “loving” someone who did not reciprocate. This is a picture of God loving us humans, and we don’t reciprocate. We love our sin. We ignore God for our own desires. We even deny His existence. And He keeps longing for us, in love with us.
No joke! This is what it’s like.
For over a year, we didn’t have a car. As missionaries in Guatemala, that meant we took either the bus (dangerous) or the taxi (expensive).
I kept thinking that eventually God would touch some gringo‘s heart, and s/he would get us some new wheels (I cracked the block by driving my old car into undrained water on the highway during a tropical storm). Waiting for some gringo to step up seemed logical: I was connected to ministers in the States; they have money.
It wasn’t new, and it didn’t come wrapped up like this.
I kept praying. I believed God. I imagined how the answer would come.
But it didn’t come the way I imagined. It was not a gringo, but a Guatemalan (and a poor one!), who gave me his car. This shock taught me that God dredges up resources from the most unexpected places.
From the least expected place. God brought water — out of a rock.
When it comes to God, I won’t say, “Expect the unexpected” (because that is cliché). Instead, I will say, “When it comes to God, don’t expect the expected.” He’s always got a new trick up His sleeve.
The Fiat from the Dark Ages was no luxury car, but it got us around. Steven Fernandez, the gringo pastor who took over in my absence, is now driving it. Hope you like it, Pastor Steve!
Posted in Christian, Financial Talk
Tagged believe and receive, believing, Christianity, church, church finances, exercising faith, Faith, grow in faith, ministry finances, miracle money
The Israelites were experienced with deserts. For forty years, they tramped to and fro until their bodies lay scattered across the Sinai wasteland. Elijah and John the Baptists headquartered their ministries in the desert. Some people actually think brown is beautiful.
But the rest of us are enchanted with lush paradise, a pine-covered mountain cut by a waterfall, a Hawaii island with rich volcanic soil great for growing pineapples. God promises to turn brown into green.
He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD
— Isa. 51:3 NIV.
Jehovah Jireh promises to turn the unproductive land into a championship garden. If your ministry is going through a financial desert, God makes the waters flow. He fertilizes and transform sand into loam.
Where sand swirls in dirt devils today, a gurgling rush of water will empty into a pool ringed by greenery. Pray and believe towards that end.
Boy, the sermon Sunday really shook me up! It was about Jesus’ imminent return. Am I ready? Will I be left behind?
It scared me to the core. I’d better get right with some things and get busy. It reminded me of the movie, “2012.” I guess the Mayans knew something about this stuff. The special effects were pretty terrific. That movie made me think a lot. But then I kind of forgot about it and went back to my old ways.
I guess I mess up a lot, but I really don’t want to get left behind in Jesus’ return. I mean, the guys who want to serve Jesus after the rapture will have to be beheaded. If people are hostile towards Christians now, how much more so when the Holy Spirit is removed from Earth?
So this brings to the basic question I have as a wimpy Christian: How much sin can I get away with and still go in the rapture?
Posted in Christian
Tagged church, humor, imminent return, Jesus' return, Jesus' second coming, knockoff, mayans, rapture, sarcasm, wimpy Christian, wimpy kid
Since when is slavery a path to riches?
God made the Israelites into slaves for 400 years — and this was His plan to make them rich! After enduring 10 successive plagues, the Egyptians were all to eager to be rid of their slaves and so they sent them off with loaded with gold and bedecked with jewels.
God prophesied to Abraham about this: After (the period of slavery) they will come out with great possessions — Gen. 15:14 NIV.
Well, ministry is not a six-digit career. But God can make the riches gush out of the unlikeliest places. He makes water come out of the rock, gold coins come out of fishes mouths — and wealth out of slavery! Ministry is NOT as bad a slavery, so don’t be afraid to fulfill your call for monetary fears.
And, when you pray for finances, it’s never a problem for God, though we fret needlessly. He can even make slaves into millionaires!
Jump in! (to help others)
… to figure out how good it is to do good!
It’s wonderful and fun to serve self. But many people never discover the greatness of giving.
I believe in Heaven! I look forward to continuing wondrous life
Bro. John Mira wakes up early Sunday mornings to lift up hearts at the “New Beginnings” rehab home in downtown Los Angeles.
in an even better place with loving people having lots of fun. We’ll worship God and have a blast!
It seems some will regret the wastefulness of their lives only too late. We should realize our potential for good now, not later. You have health and energy! Why not spend of your money, of your time, to do some good in the world!?
Poke through the clouds of oppression, into the light!
Give to the needy! Serve in a soup kitchen. Help out in a drug rehab home! Volunteer coach a soccer team. Work in a church. It will infuse you with so much positive energy and zest for life! Stop grousing about how bad is your spouse or house. Stop looking to “get more out of life” and look to give more to life.
Make an impact in our generation!
John F. Kennedy inspired a generation with these words: Ask not what you’re country can give to you. Ask what you can give to your country.
Can we recapture altruism? Or has giving become “all-false-ism?”
Posted in inspiration
Tagged altruism, Christian, emptiness, fulfillment in life, giving, John F Kennedy, love, loving others, service, Soup kitchen, volunteer, volunteering, volunteerism
Photo thanks to Still Small Voices
You didn’t carry the Ark of the Covenant in your backpack. Made of pure gold, it was too heavy. A symbol of the presence of God, the Ark had to be carried by a group of men.
So it is today. The presence of God is carried by a group of people, the assembling of a people in plural. But today, there are too many Christians who want to carry God’s presence all alone. Wrongly extrapolating our individual salvation, they have separated and isolated themselves from other imperfect people — and they think they are right to do so. But the Ark of the Covenant was carried by various — not just one.
In spite of all its imperfections, the church continues to be God’s institution, a manifestation of His presence. Yes, you can be saved and NOT go to church, but you’re missing out on support, mutual encouragement, others’ giftings — and a better life. Drop the church-bashing. Something powerful happens when we worship God while belonging to a body of believers.
When I was kid, nobody believed in me. I wasn’t picked for teams till last. I didn’t stand out academically. I didn’t possess musical talent or social skills. So when I came to the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica, and my pastor believed in me, it revolutionized my life!
It gave me faith in God.
Somehow, for some strange reason, when my pastor believed in me, it helped me to believe more in God. As my self-esteem soared, so did my faith. I took on the long-abandoned call to pastor. I planted churches and a school on the mission field.
But for some weird reason, we Christians tend to be judgmental. We tend to doubt others. We don’t affirm them much. Too many times I didn’t do what most inspired me! Woe unto me!
I’m currently reinventing myself. I have made it a goal to compliment and encourage five people a day. This does more good than 17 kabillion rebukes. Even if the person is NOT as good as I say, his demeanor changes, and he actually wants to become better.
Love believes all things — 1 Cor. 13:7. This does not mean naiveté. This means that we are exorbitantly upbeat about others. When God looks at us, He doesn’t discard us for what we are — because He sees what we will become.
Recently, a member of the church stumbled into his old drug addiction. When he did, I panicked. I had not told him how much I appreciated him, and now he was gone. Maybe my words of encouragement could have helped him in a moment of weakness. Fortunately, he returned to God, and I was able to tell this brother all he meant to me, all I admired in him. I hope he was encouraged.
Don’t wait till the funeral to express the good things about another person!
Posted in inspiration
Tagged believe in others, building self-esteem, Christianity, compliments, encourage, encouragement, Faith, judgemental, optimism, self esteem, upbeat
22 years of marriage in October
My church just held a marriage “retreat” in Pismo Beach. But too many are “retreating” from marriage. Seventy-five percent of couples in California end in divorce. The toll on kids has been staggering.
Dianna supported me through 16 years of sacrifice as missionaries in Guatemala. In the photo, she is with our daughter, Rebekah
It’s really worthwhile to work on your marriage. In my case, I can see comedy in it. On the one hand, the setting is romantic and the talks are inspiring. On the other hand, the wives feel incredibly empowered and tend to let their husbands hear all the way home all the areas he’s been messing up!
So I am happy! I have three areas to work on, and it is a blessing to commit to change, being considerate of your spouse, treating her with love and tenderness. Marriage can get mechanical. It should be passionate. Any ape can caste aside his partner looking for greener pastures. It requires a true man to listen to his wife and let her be right (sometimes).
We ate at the Splash Fish Shack. Mmmm! She likes clam chowder in a bread bowl. It’s the little things in life that kindle romance!
Hope this inspires some guys: I am going to answer my wife’s questions even when she asks me the same thing over and over again. I’m going to be positive first, not start with criticisms. I’m going to make salads for her. Sorry for disclosing my privacy, but maybe it will inspire some dude to treat his wife more considerately (I think generally that is hard for men).
I just got a comment on my post from a lady who “lost the faith” after her Christian husband was repeatedly unfaithful to her. This haunted me. Men, let’s rise up and be the men of God we are called to be! Let’s not go this route!
The “retreat” is from the rat race. Let’s hope our (Christian) marriages advance!
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Immediately, the Pharisees plot to kill both Jesus and the testament of his power, Lazarus.
“Hypocrite” in Greek simply means actor, so simply defined pretty much everyone in church is a hypocrite — and everyone outside of the church too. Who is not something a poser, a pretender?
If you want to befuddle a Christian, call him this bad word. If you want to skip Sunday worship, bandy about this word. BUT BEWARE: you are using the term too loosely. A hypocrite is NOT someone who flounders the high standards of God’s kingdom; he’s simply a human being.
Rather, a hypocrite is a person like the Pharisees, who in John 11 see Lazarus resurrected and orchestrate the Healer’s murder. A hypocrite is NOT someone who stubs his toe everyday but he who is deliberately evil and hides behind a pretense of righteousness.
In reality, you are NOT a hypocrite if you are sincere about your stumblings. The non-Christian is wrongly applying the word for imperfect believers (only Christ was and is perfect). If you catch me sinning, well surprise, I’m a sinner (saved by grace). I’m not excusing my sin.
My sin is inexcusable. At the same time, it is forgivable — if not by you, at least by God (most importantly, by God). Far from us to call ourselves holier than thou. We are sinners, saved by grace. Though we must strive for betterment, we inexorably flail and fail. Forgive us, but please don’t exclude yourself based on our imperfections.
Our warts are glaringly hideous. We just need a bit of tolerance.
Students today in the Door Bilingual School
Despite my lack of faith, God has used me. When I dared to become a missionary in Guatemala, my measly faith could foresee no more than 25 people attending church. But God raised up a thriving church that planted churches. A vibrant Christian school was also raised up.
Then gunmen forced me to leave the country. After these robbers stole our money and our information, I realized they would be back for kidnapping. After 16 years, God moved us back to the States. I am currently teaching in a Christian school, praying and blogging — teaching others the secrets of ministry I learned in so many years “in the trenches.”
What’s the secret? God will use you. He’ll make your ministry grow — if you’ll just keep plodding on. I think I’m a plodder. I’m not an overnight sensation. Combine faith with faithfulness, and you get a potent mix! It has been enough to raise up a powerful work in Guatemala.
The great satisfaction of my life is to visit and see smiling kids still serving Jesus.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Christian school Guatemala, Chrstian ministry, church, dare to serve Jesus, Guatemala, inspiration, missionary, missions, satisfaction, serve, service, serving
Frederich Nietzsche repudiated hope. He energetically discredited Christianity and morality. In its place, he taught nihilism, the belief in nothing. As a result, he went mad for 10 years prior to his death. His legacy? He inspired Hitler to carry out the nefarious pogrom against the Jews. His heirs — the existentialists like Beckett, Sartre and Camus — have continued to strip Western Civilization of its Christian moorings. Society applauded their philosophies and then wondered why massacres occur.
what was the rainbow made for?
I’ll take hope over hopelessness any day! Hope is a gift from God. There is no hope outside of God.
Hope is the middle child sandwiched between her famous sisters: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. — 1 Cor. 13:13 NIV. Though “hope” gets a lot less press, she is by no means the lesser child.
The greatest possession you could have is hope. Once you have lost hope, you have expired.
Christianity has been the piñata for philosophers for a long time. What they offer in its place is despair and drinking. True Christianity — not the perversions false Christians cite — is the only source of hope for humanity.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Adolf Hitler, beckett, camus, Christianity, existentialism, existentialism vs. christianity, Friedrich Nietzsche, hope, hopelessness, nihilism, nihilism vs. christianity, Sartre
Plant a seed and watch it grow.
If I were to tell the truth, when I first went to Guatemala 18 year ago, I couldn’t believe for more than 25 people to come to church. My faith was low.
Within the second year, we were running 100.
Now, church attendance didn’t stay at 100. It went back down to 25. But it grew more than I expected. Today, I am back in the States, and the church is still growing. We have a school with 150 kids. The church is running up to 60 people. My stateside church just sent Pastor Steven Fernandez and Diane down to help out with the work. I visited to help them get established. I was astonished at what God will do.
Your labor in the Lord is not in vain — 1 Cor. 15:58 NIV.
I was the kinda guy who when he planted a seed, sat there waiting impatiently for the plant to pop out. And when it didn’t, I grumbled that food doesn’t come from agriculture after all. Hahahaha! How long did it take the for the giant sequoias to grow?
But sticking with it proved a meritorious method. And God brought the growth.
Every prayer you pray is like casting a seed. Sit back and patiently wait for it to grow.
I got really mad on Sunday. Elder Eli was teaching Sunday School, and he was talking about bringing souls into the kingdom. He said it was the responsibility of everybody and that we all should think of ways to bring people into the church.
Well, I couldn’t hold back my comments. I said that the reason more people don’t come to church is because it’s so boring. I mean, why do we have to use the Bible all the time? I suggested we play Halo 4 in Sunday School. Then we could get a whole bunch of kids to come. It would actually be fun to go church, with all that killing and stuff. You know, stuff that us kids like.
Would you believe that Elder Eli didn’t like my idea? First he was scowling. Then he thanked me but said it wasn’t something for church. How can it not be for church? I mean, a halo comes from an angel, right?
That’s the last time I offer my good advice.
Without struggle, there is no life.
Get used to struggle. Feel comfortable with it. Don’t run away, whine or complain because struggle is bound to be part of your life. We live in a fallen world. Life without struggle? No such.
Prayer is a key to triumph, not avoidance. David had his struggles. So did Noah. Daniel didn’t slip past it. Elijah went to the cave because of it. Jesus had the mightiest of all struggles. Paul was stoned and left for dead. John was exiled to Patmos.
Nelly and Pastor Ludving
My greatest, latest struggle has been for Nelly, the wife of the pastor who took over my Guatemalan church. She has off-the-charts arthritis and a recurring hernia. I grew anguished as I heard about her difficulties. But I was just in Guatemala and saw her laugh. She delighted in cooking food for me. We shared wonderful fellowship with her husband. I realized everything is going to be all right. My faith had been slipping. The struggle is great. I should keep my faith level high and not grow discouraged.
If we realize we can’t avoid struggle, we can embrace it. It is like the gym. Lifting weights makes muscles grow. Struggle makes faith grow.