Monthly Archives: January 2013

I ‘kneeded’ this

Those Tweener prayer warriors.

Those Tweener prayer warriors.

I'm no match for Rob, in blue, freshman on a varsity team.

I’m no match for Rob, in blue, freshman on a varsity team.

Two months ago I konked my knee playing street soccer with my varsity team. At the time, it didn’t seem abnormal, not too bad on pain. I even kept playing. Later, however, it had a clicking that worried me. I consulted a doctor, and he feared a torn piece of cartilage was lodged in there. After two months, it wasn’t much better.

from pinterest

from pinterest

Then I got prayed for. The boys in my Sunday School class — called “Tweeners” — had just heard about faith and were pumped to pray. I am back to playing soccer! Jesus healed me! (Being able to play soccer is about as important for me as a U.S. president attending his own inauguration!)

The Bible says that kids have special words — of praise — unadulterated because of their

from pinterest

from pinterest

sincerity and innocence. And I say it’s good to be in God’s service, not matter how small or insignificant. Today I scored a goal in beach soccer against my son’s team! Ha! And at the end, we won! Ha!

As soon as the pros hear about this, I expect they’ll be heading to their local, Bible-believing church to cut their injury time.

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Welcome to the Hotel Prayer-ifornia

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

Marie Colantoni Pechet from adventuresinspiritualliving points out a common failing: prayer is our last resort. We try everything else, and when nothing works, then and only then we finally turn to God. It shouldn’t be that way. We ought to seek God first.

Instead of being a last resort, God should a five-star resort. Hahahaha! Why not? Being with God is better than a sumptuous buffet! His rest is better than the king-size bed! The panorama of the Bible is prettier than any Caribbean view. Etc.

But we allow so many distractions to pull

from cloud lounge (where I always find the best photos)

from cloud lounge (where I always find the best photos)

us away. The good-old-do-it-yourself spirit of America is strongly ingrained. And often we simply don’t believe until we have no other option: the doctor gives us six months, the bank forecloses, I go 10 years of virtually stagnant ministry until I finally get it. AHA! I should have started with what I ended (prayer).

 

If it’s going to be, it is up to…

20120215-075618… God.

Having lived 16 years in the Third World, I decry poverty mentality that blames “destiny” and takes no action to improve oneself. Thank God I learned the Protestant work ethic from childhood: through study, hard work, turquoise-turbulence-bruarfoss-fludir-icelandcreativity, one can achieve any dream. Third Worlders see themselves as powerless to get ahead; as a result, they just goof off and be lazy.

BUT, I have witnessed the short comings of a strong work ethic. Too often, too much hard work is not rewarded with results: it’s a lot of spinning wheels. I labored intensely as a missionary, and the church did NOT grow. After more than a decade of killing myself believing in the do-it-48730235-068d-4b0e-8daa-8e9e3ea245c1yourself mentality and seeing an essentially stagnant church, I tried prayer.

Things exploded. When man moves, it’s never as good as when God moves. I am NOT denouncing work. I am just tempering it. 141863456983057170_n4YYSVdB_bThere’s a balance. If you’re tired of tiring yourself out without seeing results, try entering more God into the equation. He may be waiting for you.

If it’s going to be, it is up to me God.

Keep working towards the masterpiece

carmen-herreraFor sixty years, Carmen Herrera painted without selling a single item. Then at 89 years of age, she cashed in her first painting. Now aged 95, she’s exploding in popularity and her paintings are fetching previously unimaginable prices. Critics imagesspeak of her as monumental, iconic of a Latin American minimalism.

In anonymity, she  pursued her passion for decades. Among artists, failure is common. Supporters joke that her recent eclosion was orchestrated from images-1above by her recently-deceased husband. At hearing such jests, she retorts peppery, “I worked really hard. Maybe it was me.”

Don’t feel like a failure. You’re just casting about for your legacy. The world may call you a failure, but YOU don’t have to accept any stigmas into your heart. It may take decades to strike gold, so keep digging. As attractive as the child prodigy is the story of the late bloomer.

‘Just dead’ was not dead enough

from Steamboat Friday

from Steamboat Friday

article-2235108-161c22f1000005dc-310_634x483Nebuchadnezzar wanted them really dead. So he heated up the executioner’s furnace seven times the normal heat. Even the guards who threw in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego died. Talk about… mmm, overkill.

8a858b05-f972-4913-81d6-6fcfc6323e6eEven so, those three Jews, guilty of not bowing to the king’s idol, didn’t flinch. With great impending disaster bearing down upon them, they stayed faithful. They would only pray and believe in God. They wouldn’t do lip service to appease the wrathful king.

Ben Rogers 2In the end, constancy won. King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” — Dan. 3:24-25 NIV.

from British Columbia ROCKS

from British Columbia ROCKS

After that, the three Jews walked free. Good ole Neb learned not to mess with the One True God. And a decree was issued giving testimony throughout his empire. It pays to remain steadfast, to remain unbowed before the world’s idols despite intense pressure.

In others’ condemnation lies our own

animation_mort_lourde-1

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.

Don’t be a late adapter

from Steamboat Friday

from Steamboat Friday

My cousin got in early with E-Bay. At the time, all the relatives were abuzz with the risk. He shouldn’t put his money with such a highly speculative, unproven venture, they said. We couldn’t get our heads wrapped around tech, so it sounded crazy. Of course, he is now wealthy. We are all kicking ourselves.

from Dump a Day

from Dump a Day

I’ve always been a caveman, a late adapter, among the last to use new technologies. I FINALLY got an i-phone, an onsale, outdated one, but nonetheless an i-phone. Handy little device.

Among Christians there are those who won’t be convinced about the efficacy of prayer. They hold out with a wait-and-see, anything-but-prayer-must-work attitude. Only after years of flailings, after so much frustration, do they try what they should have picked up from the very beginning of their faith. (Or at least that’s the way it was with me.)

141159769539998123_owU32Nss_cSo I’m twice the believer. I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And I believe in prayer. The more I practice it, the more good benefits I experience. Don’t be a believer only in Jesus and NOT in prayer. Don’t be a late adapter, even though prayer is not a new and unproven technology.

Compassion’s evil twin

imagesWhen I was kid, I felt sorry for myself intensely. When bigger kids pushed me around and my mom wouldn’t go out and make it right, I gloated on my woes. Self-pity has been an evil that has plagued me even up to the present.

from Kathy Long

from Kathy Long

The good thing is that she has a twin called Compassion. As with many “evils,” you can flip them and make them good. When I took aptitude tests in high school, I scored low or average on everything — but they didn’t even measure the deep well of gifting God had given me. Compassion and empathy have driven years of successful ministry. Feeling others’ pain keeps me in prayer.

Self-aggrandizement is a wicked

from Three Chad Presents Stunning Photos

from Three Chad Presents Stunning Photos

motivation to get in ministry. The only true calling is serving others. Consider the contrast: Jesus reflects on the hungry multitudes, “I have compassion on them.” The disciples reflect harsh realities, “And where are we gonna get the money to feed them???” (Matt 15 32 – 39).

Are there others in your world or just yourself? Pic from Unbelievable Pictures

Are there others in your world or just yourself? Pic from Unbelievable Pictures

Are you more like Christ or his disciples? The case is all the worse if you realize the disciples HAD the money to buy enough food (Luke 8:3) — they just were selfish! Compassionlessness is ugly.

So if you suffer from self-pity, don’t despair. Just turn your eyes outward, and you’ll become a marvelously effective servant of God/ of humanity!

Praise protocol

images-1Esther didn’t just leave a sticky on the fridge.

Even though she was queen, she couldn’t just address the Persian Emperor casually. She had to dress appropriately, prepare some meals, and then make the formal petition. Haman, the enemy of the Jews, was done for.

funny-133There’s a parallel in prayer. When you go before the Emperor of the Universe, you might want to observe certain protocol (we Americans know nothing about protocol, but the rest of world does!). You might want to prepare your heart with praise. “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving.”

ATT001904You might want to “enthrone” God first. There’s a place for addressing God as our Daddy, and there’s reason to dismiss much of the religious ritual used by dead and dying churches. BUT, we ought not be overly casual with the Almighty and err at the opposite extreme.

If you present yourself before the Queen of England, a 6’4″ guy will brief on correct behavior. You probably don’t want to use vulgar language and expect a high five. So too before God, enter with confidence to His presence, but go in with praise!

You get what you praise for

from pinterest

From pinterest. (This is not me.)

Praise is very much like prayer, only that it is confident (full of faith) of the answer.

One of the “secrets” I have learned in decades of prayer is to have time to praise God. (Usually the “big secrets” that the “gurus” know are simple truths that other people already know anyhow.) This key to successful prayer transformed my prayer life, which previously was something of a whine session.

It also served the second purpose of filling up my faith

Another random photo from pinterest.

Another random photo from pinterest.

tank. As I remembered all the good answers God had brought to my prayers (I compile lists), I am filled with faith to pray for today’s challenges. Yessiree, it’s that simple.

Because he didn’t die…

… he didn’t make the news, but the mailman who fought off his assailant was a great story.

from Dani Mejias

from Dani Mejias

I was an intern for the L.A. Herald Examiner. I observed the trail of blood that extended for about 15 yards on the sidewalk in South Central Los Angeles in 1988. The mail carrier was delivering General Relief checks, and some gang-bangers thought they could grab and forge. They shot him, and he bled, but he never surrendered his cargo. Instead, bleeding from the bullet wound, he fought them off. The story was incredible, but it never even made the newspaper because the mailman survived. Had he died, it would have gone viral (in age when there was no “viral”).

9-11News outlets thrive on bad news, so if it’s bad news that you want, just read the offerings of the world anywhere. But if you want “good” news, read the Gospels. Jesus forgives your sins, God promises wonderful things, the Spirit restores your family. Prayer connects you directly to Almighty Power.

Space invaders

turquoise-turbulence-bruarfoss-fludir-icelandA smirky non-Christian remarked that praying for money seemed at odds with the gospels. If you’re only greedy, I tend to agree. But when you are desperately trying to make rent for your church building, it’s spot on.

After being chased off by hostile Philistines, Isaac and crew find a place Rehoboth, which means “spacious place.” (Gen. 26:22)

wide_open_2_900If you’re having troubles, keep moving forward because God is going to bring you to a spacious place. After months (or years) of struggling to make ends meet, God promises to bring you to a spaciousness in your monthly budget. Hallelujah! Victory over the bills!

186266134558462105_VS4BPBFJ_cIn Guatemala, we worked 15 hour days during Easter Week hawking food to the crowds in the “processions,” marches which escort Catholic statues through the streets. At the end of ardor, we would count up to $300, just a fraction of our mortgage.

Do your best, and God will provide the rest,  I taught. So we labored. And we prayed. And month after month, God miraculously brought in the mortgage money.

Maybe you can relate to Isaac. Look for your Rehoboth. Long and pray for spaciousness.

Want superpower?

imagesHey Dad! If you had a superpower, which one would you want?

I HAVE a superpower. It’s called FAITH.

My 10-year-old son was not images-1impressed. He wanted to know if I would fly, or fix things with a magic touch, or superhero type stuff. He asks random questions.

If it weren’t for his question, I wouldn’t have realized exactly what I have. Yes, yes, yes! It is a superpower because faith connects you with the only nonfictional power outside of nature.

What WOULD you have? You DO have! Do you use it? Do I use it enough?

Help my unbelief!

Give flight to your faith. -- Pic from Amazon Trippic

Give flight to your faith. — Pic from Amazon Trippic

A most poignant vignette is the piteous youth, convulsing on the ground in a seizure, foaming at the mouth. His father clutches tragically to a faith that slips from his heart like water from your fingers.

from pinterest

from pinterest

‘If you can’? Everything is possible for him who believes, Jesus mildly admonishes floundering belief.

Realizing his evaporating faith spells continued sickness for his son, the desperate father clasps desperately for a miracle. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” — Mark 9:24 NIV.

No scripture captures humanity’s condition better.

from Pinteret

from Pinteret

The atheist refuses to believe. The materialist doesn’t care to believe. The Christian struggles to believe. Lack of belief is essentially an insult to God. It is calling Him a liar. And yet it is essentially human. We call God a liar because we say, when we won’t believe, that His word, which declares God’s will to heal, is a lie.

prayblackbusinessmanPrayer is struggle. Don’t get down on yourself for fighting for faith. Think of yourself as an athlete training, building the muscle of faith. Keep trying to believe more. Cast out the spirit of condemnation which accuses: “You don’t have enough faith! That’s why you’re sick.” It is easy for the muscleman to lift. The scrawny guy must work towards the goal slowly, progressively.

Sometimes too, God sovereignly does not bow to our every desire. Give no room to condemnation for an opportunity gone by where a sick or loved one passed on. It wasn’t your lack of faith; it was God’s will.

Incredible! Wonderful spirit in suffering in failures! Wonderful insight into scripture and application! This guy deserves more than just a passing notice!

barney wiget

I guess all loss is unplanned and unwelcomed. It happens nevertheless, and when it does it is a good idea to what lessons we might learn and blessings we might acquire. I mentioned my Buddy, Chemo who hurt me to help me, and then my Birthmark, the evidence of God’s love when I entered his world. There’s one more lesson, and it was delivered in the form of a Brace.

My Brace

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Ephesians 1:13

During my much less than happy time a few years back I broke my neck. The cancer had all but dissolved one of my vertebrae, which through surgery, was replaced by titanium rods and plates, which are being held together with screws (lots of them). Before and after the surgery I had to wear…

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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.

Small victories

Rob Ashcraft poses with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Rob Ashcraft poses after the game with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Saints soccer continues to rock and roll.

The Lighthouse Christian Academy entered the Christmas break with its third victory – a scrappy 1-0 win against Wildwood. A handy piece of footwork by Junior Luis Secaira confounded defenders and stunned the goalie, who watched woefully as the ball slotted on the near post.

After the vacation, the Saints have simply been outgunned by vastly superior teams. They lost to league leaders Lennox 0-8 and to New Roads 0-7. To the uninitiated, the defeats appear to spell out an uncommon nosedive.

In reality, the team keeps improving. It’s just hard to take on varsity teams with mostly senior and club players when you have half a team of girls and players from all grades. How are freshman girls going to beat senior boys?

On Monday, the Saints put a thump on the slump. Facing the impeccable Vistamar, the Saints scored in the last minute. Midfielder Elijah “Taz” Symonds chipped from the corner to Freshman Rob Ashcraft, who didn’t err with an unusual karate kick in front of goal.

It was the first time in the history of LCA soccer that the Saints scored against Vistamar, whose players are groomed for soccer from the cradle. With that goal, Lighthouse sent a message that it will not succumb to defeatism. It is no longer the whipping boy of the league.

Though much progress needs to be made, LCA can revel in solid – though incremental — improvement and press on to a glorious future.

“We won!” quipped Junior Tori Scribner, comprehending the significance of the goal, in spite of losing 1-8.

Remaining for the Saints are only four games, and Coach Mike Ashcraft thinks we stand a good chance to win against Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes on Wednesday.

Whatever your stage in life, celebrate the small victories. They lead to big ones!

If only…

bending_over_backwardsNo bending over backwards. No jumping through hoops. No passing through fire, fording treacherous rivers, scaling icy mountaintops to consult gurus. No excruciating rite of passage. No long lines at the DMV. Nope. It’s much easier than that.

To get God’s blessing, you don’t have to hardly do much at all. All you have to do is pray.

images-1If I only touch Jesus cloak, I will be healed, said the woman with 12 years of hemorrhaging unhealed by doctors. (Matt 9:21) She she scrambled through the pressing crowd because she knows that one touch from Jesus will do the trick. It will end her suffering, her humiliation, her rejection from society. And she was healed instantly.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

When Elisha told Naaman to dip seven times in Jordan River, the Syrian Captain of the Guard was angry. Because it was so easy, he thought he was getting short shrift. Sometimes you need to dip into prayer seven times. That is all.

Prayer is easy, effective, and — tragically — ignored. Even Christians neglect this, a most potent weapon. We could all learn a lesson from the hemorrhaging woman. All you need is an encounter with Jesus.

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.

Handling losing

From Smashing Photo

From Smashing Photo

That's me with the kids!

That’s me with the kids!

We lost Tuesday 8-0. We lost today 8-0. We are facing tougher teams; ours is absorbing injuries. Kids have skipped practices, and the results are manifest on the field. When Lighthouse Christian Academy tied our first soccer game, when won our second 9-2, when we won a

From Via Vigevano

From Via Vigevano: Read closely!

couple more, it was exciting, easy to want to play and put in the effort.

Now it is hard. Kids might want to bail out. But now is exactly the moment of character, the foundation of excellence. If we allow ourselves to become “losers” in our minds, then we will. If not, we will win again this season, and we will win next year!

The reality of life is that everyone loses more than wins. What you do when you lose makes you win.

Faith does not drag down with discouragement. It remains buoyant, hopeful, expectant of good. It persists. It constantly looks for the victory just around the corner.

Score at will!

images-1We have won and lost games at Lighthouse Christian Academy this season, but the most memorable was the game against P.H. In that game, we literally could score at will. It was so much fun, images-2and most of the kids were going for hattricks (three goals in one game). As coach, I actually pulled my stars out of scoring position and even took them off the field to NOT humiliate our opponents any more. In the first 20 minutes, we racked up seven!

In life, when you pray with faith and urgency, you literally score at will. The successes hum. But when I pray tepid prayers, or when we neglect pray altogether, then we go through a losing streak. Step up your game today and pray! Have no mercy on the devil!

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!

re-Ver(sing) Verses

Philippians 4:13 - I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 | NIV (1984) | Other Versions | Context

Brief

I like Philippians 4. I think plenty of people do. The book of Philippians, though short, was likely written when the apostle Paul was imprisoned to encourage and comfort the Church of Philippi in this harsh time. Philippians 4 consists a number of short verses that, though short in length, are deep in significance. Easy to memorize, easy to remember, easy to keep in mind, easy to recite when in times of need. Like many of other verses in Philippians 4, I’m sure Philippians 4:13 is a favourite verse of many, and very commonly quoted amongst Christians ever since Paul wrote it.

Analysis

This verse is so short and so well-known that it seems unnecessary to analyse it anymore. At times when it seems like we can no…

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The Greatness of God’s Love

Daily Devotional

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I saw this online and thought I’d share it! Romans 5:8 says “I loved you in your darkest hour” showing just how great God’s love is for his children. God comes alongside of us in our times of weakness and catches us when we fall. I read a great (but cheesy) quote that said “When you feel like you’re ‘drowning’ in life’s situations, remember that your lifeguard walks on water.” While cheesy this quote reminds us that no matter what God is willing to help those who dedicate their lives to him.

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Prove ’em wrong

Silence the naysayers. Pic from Pinterest

Silence the naysayers. Pic from Pinterest

I wanted to do a creative writing magazine in high school. One classmate told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. She didn’t believe in me. That piece of discouragement inspired me to carry out the project.

Every time I hit roadblocks and her got frustrated with lack of progress, her memory kicked in and gave me the energy to keep working. I had to prove wrong. Thanks for the demotivation!

Criticism hurts. But it can be turned into a help. The fact of the matter is doing good is taxing. It requires stick-to-it-iveness, boring hard work, and self-denial. What keeps you in the uphill battle? It could be someone encouraging you. And — strange as it may sound — it could be someone discouraging you.

Don't let them put out your fire! Pic from Pinterest

Don’t let them put out your fire! Pic from Pinterest

The human psyche is marvelously complex. Downers can pump you up. You can pull-off a fantastic reversal. You can’t stop people from mouthing off. But you can turn their poison into your passion.

I was very happy to see my couple of poems featured in that magazine. So were other kids. I didn’t hear anymore from the girl who didn’t think I would finish it.

Too many head trips

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

I am a great dramatist! But only in my own mind. I rehearse interactions with people over and over. I’m quite sardonic, tragic and full of pathos. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my rehearsals never come before a true-life audience.

Unfortunately, the majority of these rehearsals played in the theater of my mind are negative.

my thoughts under water pressure

my thoughts under water pressure

I’m venting bitterness. I’m being vindicated from all those who have insulted me. These incessantly replaying scenarios are unhealthy. Their product is discouragement.

When I get discouraged, I flatline.

I need to get victory over my

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

demons. The Bible says: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV. It is easy to succumb to disgruntles. It requires immense effort to keep optimism when surrounded by a howling storm of negativism.

Break through the clouds over your mind. Photo Pinterest

Break through the clouds over your mind!

The answer to the litany of complaints in your brain is NOT imagining dramatic conclusions. The answer is to silence them. Raise rank and disburse orders to shut up all the negative minions mocking you. You can gag the suckers, but it takes an active decision on your part. You must force them.

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!

Helpless, but not hopeless

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You feel like an cornered animal. You want your parents to stop fighting, and there is nothing you can do. You want your husband to be the good father your kids need, and he continues unfaithful or abusive. You have cancer.

Americans love — no, need — to have everything under control. What do you do when life spins out of control? Frustration boils over. How do you keep sane in insane circumstances? How do you tolerate intolerable acts?

I was falsely accused by an extortionist in Guatemala. It was a “big bad gringo takes

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advantage of a helpless Guatemalan” scenario. I was very much afraid I would be sent to jail, but since the accusations were utterly false, I would not capitulate to the extortion (If he pays $—-, I will drop the charges).

I fasted four days a week. I went to bed afraid the cops would come and get me. I woke up thinking the cops would pick me up.

369787819373451012_bQuSJOKx_bWell, I got a lawyer. God defended me. Innocent I was, and I was found innocent.

Don’t run away screaming. Don’t cut your wrist. Don’t intern yourself in a mental institution. You need something to hold on to when your world tumbles down like the proverbial house of cards.

We Christians hold on to God. He is a friend and a lover. When everything you always wanted becomes everything you always feared, God will sustain you if you flee to him. You may be helpless to change unchangeable circumstances, but hopeless you are not.

Secure enough to be insecure

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Most are terrified to show their insecurities. They consume a nuclear power plant’s energy just trying to project supreme self confidence.

But because of their fears to be vulnerable, they have deficient relationships everywhere. Having a million “friends,” they don’t have one true friend with whom they can open up. This is especially true for men. This is worse in Los Angeles, where image counts more than substance.

Be secure enough to let your insecurities show — not with everyone, of course, but with a select few people with whom you want to share friendship. Be real.

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Don’t try to prove your self confidence all the time. Don’t try to win every argument, always be right, always win, etc. Let somebody else be better. Be secure enough to accept another person’s gift.