Monthly Archives: March 2013

2 Corinthians 5:15

re-Ver(sing) Verses

2 Corinthians 5:15 - And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:15 | NIV | Other Versions | Context

Brief

It is Easter today, but Easter is not really a very commercialized or publicized holiday where I am, and Easter this year is considerably earlier than usual, so to be honest, the Christ-has-risen message didn’t quite hit home. Hence this meditation, I guess, on the significance of Christ having risen. What did it mean? What does it mean, for us? In 2 Cor 5 Paul launched a passionate defense of the conduct of the apostles [2 Cor 5:12], and clarifies that the way they live is solely down to the staunch belief that this was the reason why Christ died on the cross for them [2 Cor 5:14-15] –…

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How to pray? Access resurrection power

  • Pray powerful prayers
  • How to pray?
  • Bible prayers
  • Pray more effectively
  • Pray with faith

448a8b8fbebe345d104ecea38d1e48dcWe fail to realize the power within our reach. Because we don’t realize (mentally), we don’t realize (physically in a miraculous manifestation) an answer. Prayer without faith is pretty pointless. But with faith, it has explosive power. What kind of power? Resurrection power.

Is there anything more impossible than to bring someone back from the dead? Medical science can revive someone whose heart has stopped. It can revive In My Melon2comatose people. But once the person is really dead, doctors are really lost as to what to do. Call the mortuary, that is all.

But God, showing His power, raised Jesus from the dead. And that’s the power we have access to.

His incomparably great power for us who believe … is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead Eph. 1:19-20 NIV.

Your financial need is nothing compared to death. If God could resurrect His Son, He can resurrect your finances!

Even more impossible: prayer’s power

  • How do I pray effectively?
  • Prayers of the Bible
  • Pray for finances
  • Inspiration for prayer

First they were 32,000. Then they were 10,000. Then they were 300.

8ac8d84fb90e993cd71eeca974a98e24The shocking attrition was actually good news. If Gideon had too many, Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved Me (God)’ Judges 7:2 NIV. By making victory even more impossible, God assured He’d get the praise.

If your situation is steeply difficult, don’t despair. Don’t calculate “possibility.” A miracle, by definition, is contrary to natural law and contrary to reasonable explanation. Do you have:

  1. church rent due with no foreseeable income to cover it?
  2. big dreams and small budgets?
  3. restrictions on what you can do for God due to finances?

Rejoice! When Gideon won against the Midianites, everybody got whooped up! Don’t glower, don’t be glum. God is going to move! Just pray with faith! Watch and see! Act and know that God will do what you cannot!

Video

How to pray? Get inspired!

Moving music and exhilarating scenic photos combine with scripture to remind you about God’s creation, His power, His majesty in this inspiring video by http://www.PositivePrayers.com

I’m a big believer in getting inspired to pray. I find my prayer life becomes vibrant when either scripture or prose or praise lifts my spirit first.

Prayer is not a matter of saying the right words but having the right attitude. When your spirit soars on wings of eagles, it seems you pray overcoming prayers that make an impact.

Pray a firewall of protection over your life

  1. 494cd8c258d3247a68344c446f3b3b15How do I pray better?
  2. What sorts of Bible prayers work?
  3. How can I pray for finances?

Here’s an inspirational nugget to jumpstart your prayers:

A firewall limits the passing of fire from one building to the next, if we’re talking architecture. If we’re talking computers, a firewall prevents cyber attacks and spam. But if we’re talking Bible, a wall of fire saved the Israelites from being annihilated by their Egyptian pursuers.

Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Pharoah had a change of heart (again!) and raced after them with his chariots and horsemen. In front, the Red Sea blocked. Behind, the world’s most feared army closed in. The Israelites were dead ducks.

Just before the Egyptians fell on the helpless Jews, the guiding cloud (which by night turned into a pillar of fire) settled in between the two, separating them and protecting the Israelites. It was a wall of fire that saved God’s people from the ravenous horde.

e1eb2454b2356b079fa7f9fbebac1c0fPray for God’s firewall to protect your finances, your health, your family, your children. For some reason, “hedge of protection” is a buzzword in Christianity. You can have a hedge. I’ll go for the “wall of fire.” The devil can’t touch you, when God covers you.

Verses to fuel your prayers:

  • Job 1:10 NIV (Satan, discrediting Job’s faithfulness, complains to God) Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
  • Psm 34:7 NIV The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
  • Psm 91:7 NIV  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Audacious faith

apbewsafmanstandsaloneOne man stands alone against 750 false prophets, against a despot and against his power-hungry wife who runs death squads.

Elijah challenges virtually an entire nation when he calls down fire from Heaven upon a water-saturated sacrifice that gets incinerated. Seeing this, the Israelites remember God Jehovah and turn back to their roots.

Where did such faith come from? Everything was against him. I want this kind of audacious faith. Procure in prayer and Bible study a faith that:

  • never cowers
  • always hopes
  • always loves
  • never complains
  • accomplishes the impossible
  • whips the devil
  • never wavers no matter the storm’s intensity
  • does not let fear creep in

Some of my favorite faith-filling verses are:

  1. James 5:16 NIV Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly…
  2. Matt. 17:20 NIV if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
  3. Matt. 9:29 NIV According to your faith let it be done to you
  4. Matt. 21:22 NIV If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
  5. Heb. 11:1 NIV Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Video

PB&J all day! (Prayer, Bible & Journal)

A reminder to pray, read you Bible and journal your dynamic walk with Christ.

Brandish real power

imagesThere are generals, colonels, lieutenants, sergeants and officers galore in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, but the guy who wields real power is an ex-private first class.

from the movie based on the book

from the movie based on the book

Private Wintergreen’s got the power because he mans the mailroom. He turns down a general’s request to promote a major by intercepting, responding and forging communications. His decisions stand unquestioned.

(He refuses to promote the major because the candidate’s wiseguy dad, whose last name was Major,” named him “Major Major Major.” So Wintergreen reasons the military doesn’t intend to lose its only “Major Major Major Major.”)

Heller with his book

Heller with his book

Wintergreen bemoans his demotion from private first class, for going AWOL once. He whines about the loss of “status.”

But it is he who bandies more authority in the Air Force’s operations against the German-occupied Italy during WW2.

Yossarian, the fearful bombardier

Yossarian, the fearful bombardier

Maybe you don’t have rank in church hierarchy. If you’ll just go to the mail room (communications, as in “with God”), you’ll suddenly discover you brandish real power. Prayer is power, and you don’t need earthly titles to get heavenly answers. Wintergreen communicated with the authority of headquarters. When you pray, you deploy headquarters’ might.

Turn Your Face To The Sun

100% — not 99%

imagesAmong other things, the 99% movement was about the disenfranchised and powerless getting power. It didn’t work because the oligarchy won.

Prayer is also about the powerless seizing power. When in this world, you have no means to deliverance, to health, to change lost friends or relatives. You only have prayer. You feel helpless to do anything, and you turn to God, who CAN do everything.

prayboyfieldNo power structure, conserving its privilege, is going to be able to subvert God, the Power over every other power. Don’t just stand idly by, wringing you hands, woefully wishing things were different. Seize power and change your world: pray today. God has 100% of the power.

Disappointment appointment

DownloadedFileThe same multitude that hailed King Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem — in a matter of days, shouted “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And that scares me. I see myself in that crowd.

You see, it’s not all their fault. They were let down. They were disappointed. Here they went through all this effort, waving palm branches, throwing their garments on the ground, shouting “Hail the king!” — and that was dangerous! (Because it made them known enemies to the Roman authorities.)

60456_10151492002954939_384388666_nThey fully expected Jesus to throw off the hated gentile empire and inaugurate a new age of David’s throne. No doubt hundreds of people were waiting His bidding. So what did Jesus do?

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. — Mark 11:11 NIV.

from AMyUnjaded

from AMyUnjaded

Are you serious? Is that it? Here, we go out on a limb to make you king, and all you do is “look around” and go back to hanging out? Talk about disappointment. They were probably not only disappointed but also embarrassed and furious.

Well, the disciples had the same expectations and the same disappointments. They didn’t turn on Jesus (except Judas). They remained faithful until they saw the resurrection.

When you go through disappointments, you can’t give up. You can’t turn against God. You have to remain faithful, even when you don’t know what’s going on.

You’re supposed to injure the other team

On every other day of his life, he's been fantastic.

On every other day of his life, he’s been fantastic.

Teacher Edwin was a NICE guy, a fabulous teacher and a sensational soccer player. I was happy he was on my team in Guatemala on the day of staff bonding! (Good thing the accountant was on the other team. His accounting was straight but his ball-kicking, crooked.)

In a midfield confusion on a header challenge, Edwin came back down to earth with all of his weight squarely on my left toe. The toe nail cracked. I crumpled.

A soccer field to envy.

A soccer field to envy.

“Edwin! You’re supposed to injure the OTHER team,” I yelled, writhing on the ground. “You’re not supposed to injure me.”

Prayer is about injuring the other team. There are actually people in the church who think their gifting is criticizing others. But no, the gifts, according to 1 Cor. 12:8-10, are:

  • word of wisdom
  • word of knowledge
  • faith
  • healing
  • miracles
  • prophecy
  • discernment
  • tongues
  • interpretation of tongues

Whatever those are, there is clearly no gift of criticism. When you criticize, you help out the Accuser of the Brethren (the devil, according to Rev. 12:10). Hey, let the devil do the accusing, and let’s not do it for him! When you criticize, you injure your own teammate.

You’re supposed to injure the other team. I’m taking medicine now — seven years later — for it.

Terbinafine is fine

No, I'm not going to upload a picture of my yellow toe. You should be glad. It's gross.

No, I’m not going to upload a picture of my yellow toe. You should be glad. It’s not the most attractive thing. The lady is my better half.

I have to take this medicine for 3 months. Maybe 6.

Apparently, it won’t knock out quicker the fungus that turned my toe nail (excuse me, this is not for the squeamish) yellow.

My son Hosea.

My son Hosea.

If a medicine needs to treat consistently over a period of time to fully eradicate the infection, why do we expect prayers to revolutionize our lives instantly?

Compared to some of the infections in our souls, the toe fungus is a simple matter. It makes sense to me that we need to treat consistently and over a prolonged period some of the troubles besetting our hearts. Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come quickly.

It’s nice to see my toe turning flesh color again! It’s also nice to see my heart becoming less of a stone. For my heart, I’ve been praying for 33 years (not always consistently). Be patient with me. Jesus is not done yet.

Stay calm and keep praying.

Pray like never before

Faith. Hope. Love.

pray
Credits to Lisa Bevere
 
Days are numbered and there is so much left to be done.
As I face my giants, I have to keep praying that things will overcome.
 
 

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‘All authority’ includes finances

With Gary Case, missionary extraordinaire, when he was on a layover at LAX. He's now in Japan pioneering a church

With Gary Case, missionary extraordinaire, when he was on a layover at LAX. He’s now in Japan pioneering a church

When you spearhead a ministry, the devil will resist you even with the rent. As a missionary paying a mortgage with a small church, I prayed a lot for finances. I discovered reading the Bible some incredible verses to pray. Here’s one:

Pastor Ralph and Brenda Bowen planted three churches in Africa during 20 years.

Pastor Ralph and Brenda Bowen planted three churches in Africa during 20 years.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, resurrected Jesus said in Matt 28:18. Typically, we Christians think of His authority over demons, over sin, over sickness, etc. We forget that “all” includes finances. He has authority to send finances.

My purpose, unlike so many other American Christian pastors, is NOT for you to pray for luxury. It is for you to NOT quit ministry because finances are

fellowship after church

fellowship after church

scarce. Don’t close the doors to your church just because you’re on a shoe-string budget. Instead, keep performing fruitful ministry and simply pray for God’s provision.

It seems people in America get twisted about praying for finances. Some think God doesn’t attend such matters. Others think it’s wrong. (Well, yes, greed is sin.) But when you have lived the day-to-day anxiety of will-we-make-it?, then you understand how praying for finances brings more than just peace of mind. It brings answers.

Famine? It’s YOUR moment

from I am Yoga

from I am Yoga

 

Don’t worry about the famine. It’s your chance to shine.

Joseph was rotting in the jail. If it weren’t for the famine, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show his strengths before Pharaoh.

If you are passing through a time of famine in your life,

  • don’t quit your strengths
  • don’t despair and give up
  • don’t give in to hopelessness
  • don’t lose patience
  • don’t stop believing in God and in yourself

Joseph was wrongly sold into slavery (by his brothers!?!!). Then he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. But he kept a good attitude and worked hard. As a slave, he was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household. As a jailbird, he made administrator of the prison.

150px-Sandboarding_in_DubaiSo when God sprung him, he was named vice president of all of Egypt. He kept his relationship vibrant with God and was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In his new post, Joseph prepared the nation for a coming 7-year famine that catapulted Egypt into world dominance and paved the way for the launching of the nation of Israel (with Egypt as its incubator).

What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God turned into good. Joseph instructed his brothers to not be overly angry at themselves for having sold him into slavery: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance — Gen. 45:7 NIV.

Finger-pointing is not the answer

507710557961662897_MnPCae3C_bEverybody has their share of angst. When our actions, when our lives, don’t line up with our ideals, the result is anxiety.

Pray is an on-going relief to life’s pain. Blaming someone or something does nothing to help the essential problem.

137993176053255564_HVsSY8uk_cHere’s my theory: the religious fanatic is akin to the atheist. Both insist on having the answers to all of life’s questions. I, on the other hand, feel comfortable with the imperfections of life, with not having all the answers. I deal with them by prayer, not by finger-pointing.

And the result is peace.

After failure

Not me. I don't smoke.

Not me. I don’t smoke.

Truth be told, I cried — after I hung up the phone. The Los Angeles Times editor fired me for a botched reporting job as his UCLA “stringer” in 1988. After four years of intensive training to break into journalism, was I hopeless?

Thank God for people who encouraged me (in the church).

A funny thing happened a few months later. The UCLA stringership* at the New York Times opened up, and my friend recommended me. I landed the spot and did a bang-up job. I got bylines and learned a ton from some really talented people. Because of my work, the New York Times scooped the Los Angeles Times in its own backyard a number of times**.

journalistsOf the two, the New York Times stringership was more prestigious. Of the two, it was a better learning experience. Of the two, it was a better resume booster.

If I hadn’t gotten fired, I wouldn’t have even been considered for the spot (because of conflict of interest). So the horrible experience turned out to be a great thing!

What you do at a failure is critical:

  • Get support from friends who love you
  • Pray
  • Learn to not make the same mistakes
  • Trust in God, not in your own wherewithal
  • Keep good friends; they are a network of opportunities in the future
  • Believe in yourself because not many in this world will believe in you

* a “stringer” is an onsite person, not a regular reporter or an intern, who produces occasional articles or does local interviewing to be incorporated in a bigger piece. The New York Times had a journalism student at each major university across the nation. They paid a small stipend, and the student got great experience.

** “scoop” in journalism you beat your competition, getting a news story out first.

My stalker

stalker_by_orendorffknightI have a stalker who regularly comes to harass me, and the Santa Monica Police Department can’t do anything about him.

He is discouragement. I can’t seem to get rid of him. I constantly need to get rid of him.

Just because I constantly am trying to encourage others, doesn’t mean I’m free of discouragement myself. It is the contrary that is true: Because I struggle with discouragement that I try to help others. This helps me.

StalkerIf you have this stalker too, then get rid of him:

  • Exercise and eat right.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid destructive behaviors.
  • Flee drugs and alcohol only mask, don’t heal, the inner pain and fears. They make things worse.
  • Prefer uplifting music. The lyrics affect your soul, whether or not you’re “listening.”
  • Eschew movies and shows with morbid themes
  • Feed on the Word of God.
  • Surround yourself with people who can lift you up, not those who tear you down.
  • Pray and ask God for help.
  • Don’t pretend and pose.
  • Don’t be afraid to get help.

As with any stalker, we don’t want to take discouragement lightly. He can do us great damage, and we need to take action.

‘It’s hard to care when all you do is lose’

Robert Ashcraft

Robert Ashcraft

My son, a freshman, who led our small high school’s varsity soccer team out of last place last year into fourth place this year, said this. I had no immediate response. The sheer profundity had to sink in slowly.

This was the game when we engineered the leagues biggest upset. The other coach was mad at his players. To be sure, they suffered from overconfidence at the beginning and depression at the end. But my players were sharp and worked hard. Robert wrecked havoc.

This was the game when we engineered the league’s biggest upset. The other coach was mad at his players. To be sure, they suffered from overconfidence at the beginning and depression at the end. But my players were sharp and worked hard. Robert wrecked havoc.

His response was to my urgings to see more leadership from him. His club team is losing. He scores goals, they lose anyway, he clams up. I told him to stop being such a nice guy, get in the face of his teammates and tell them to man up (they are afraid of the ball)*. I was completely unprepared for his answer. (You ought to listen to your teenager.)

It is hard to care when others don’t, when all around you is discouraging. Too true!

Lighthouse Christian Academy had its best season ever.

Lighthouse Christian Academy had its best season ever this year.

And yet this world needs desperately people who care — when it is hard. We need Christians who care when it seems like we are being overrun by the loud voices of hate. We need evangelizers when we get ignored, heckled, mocked. We need people not lulled into a false sense of security, hypnotized by the American good life.

This was our high school's first game, when they got a tie and started to believe in themselves.

This was our high school’s first game, when they got a tie and started to believe in themselves.

Maybe the reason why we don’t pray more is not laziness. Maybe we just don’t care. We need to care enough for others to pray. Jesus viewed with multitude “moved to compassion.” The disciples viewed them as a nuisance, or as a means to an end.

It’s been a week, and I’m still trying to formulate a response to Robert. How can I get him to care for his soccer team?

_________________________

*Don’t worry. None of his club teammates or teammates’ families read this blog.

An inside job

For a change, I'm actually posting a photo I took. This is Santa Monica's beach. Sorry. I don't mean to make my friends in the Northern States and Canada jealous.

For a change, I’m actually posting a photo I took. This is Santa Monica’s beach. Sorry. I don’t mean to make my friends in the Northern states and Canada jealous.

The motorcycles caught us 5 miles away from the bank. As one of four guys banged the window with a pistol demanding our bags, I had no doubt that it was the bank teller who tipped them off. He had changed our check to cash. Because all our information was in our bags, I figured they’d come back for a kidnapping, so we had to return to America, our 16 years as missionaries in Guatemala at an end.

My 10-year-old son, Hosea, calls this the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I bought these for the Lighthouse Christian Academy's sports banquet yesterday. Go Saints!

My 10-year-old son, Hosea, calls this the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I bought these for the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s sports banquet yesterday. Go Saints!

God does an inside job too! Don’t bother to make external changes in yourself — they lead to (false) religiosity. Instead, surrender to His Holy Spirit in prayer daily, and let God transform you from the inside. Once you are saved, you are forgiven, you are new creation, but then God begins a work of perfecting you that will continue for the rest of your life. But it’s on the inside.

Pastor Ludving from Guatemala sent me this T-shirt. Translated: Everyday I wake up handsome, but today I'm off the charts. Thanks for the joke, Pastor Ludving!

Pastor Ludving from Guatemala sent me this T-shirt. Translated: Everyday I wake up handsome, but today I’m off the charts. Thanks for the joke, Pastor Ludving!

In regards to prayer, remember:

  • A little bit is better than none, but God wants to work on us daily, so pray daily.
  • A little bit more will increment value and power to prayer.
  • The best prayers are ones inspired by the Bible or simply taken from the Bible. Jesus dismisses “vain repetitions” — mumbling by rote words penned by another. But there is much to learn and apply from the experts, the Bible heroes.
  • The Big D (that’s Devil) constantly bombards you with thoughts that prayer is useless, a waste of time, meaningless, etc. He does this because he knows how effective it is.
  • As you pray for others, God also is transforming you — from the inside out.
  • Enjoy prayer! Think of it as a romantic date. You are spending time with your Lover, God.

Out of pain, blessing

from blue pueblo

from blue pueblo

He was pain in the … But he got prosperity.

When Jabez was born, his mother despaired. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain” — 1 Chron. 4:9 NIV.

from Beautiful Mother Nature on Tumblr

from Beautiful Mother Nature on Tumblr

But he prayed. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request – 1 Chron. 4:10 NIV. Prayer turned pain into prosperity.

Don’t:

  • play the victim.
  • feel sorry for yourself.
  • look for people to blame.

Do:

  • pray.
  • believe God to change circumstances.
  • look for people to support you in prayer.

Everybody wants bounty. The unavoidable path towards it is through difficulty, failure, reverses. Prayer carries you forward to the blessing.

 

 

Unpaid here

with my family

with my family

I became an actor briefly. It seemed like the logical thing to do to avoid the stigma of “unemployed.” Besides, this is LA — 60% of the people are actors, which means “unemployed.” I never took acting classes; I just declared myself an actor (it’s cheaper that way), and I no longer felt obligated to provide explanations for joblessness.

I'm hamming it up again.

I’m hamming it up again.

But soon I realized my folly. After all, I was a writer before I became an actor. About writers, let me say it is totally redundant and unnecessary to place the adjective “aspiring” in front of the word “writer.” Being a writer is another acceptable way of calling yourself “unemployed.”

with a Chinese friend. Man, is he serious!

with a Chinese friend. Man, is he serious!

Then too, I’m a prayer warrior. Boy, I keep chalking up the unremunerated professions, don’t I? At least here on Earth, it’s hard to get paid to pray.

Of course, in Heaven, it’s paid handsomely. Most people just don’t have the patience to defer their gratification that far into the future. (On second thought, given the brevity of life, maybe it’s not that long to wait for after all.)

But first you must invest

goal_1690382aLike other mortals, I was stunned by Barcelona’s 4-0 snuffing of AC Milan to blaze with canons firing into Champions League quarter finals.

d1cf09c4846b44ae9efbcf1b1e9ce6bb-e5cac050bd644db6b32f1d3af7fa3e1c-8With confounding feet, Leonel Messi fired out of a throng of Milan defenders high into left corner at minute 5, leaving Goalie Christian Abbiati looking like a tree planted in the ground, his vision blocked by his own defenders.

article-2292371-189C5EF3000005DC-744_634x414Just before the half, Messi again caught Abbiati wrong-footed with a low torpedo through defender’s legs that sank Italian hearts. A third curling goal from David Villa marked victory, and a lung-bursting sprint from Jordi Alba, picking up a cross from Dani Alves, made it four.

201303121615585444821-p2The Barcelona Symphony, directed by Messi, played a command performance, overcoming a 2-0 deficit on the away game — a feat never before seen in the Champions League.

With brimming reason, Messi has been named an unprecedented four times best world player. But first, Barcelona had to invest in him.

messi-began-playing-soccer-at-the-age-of-fiveAt 11 years of age, the Argentine showed early promise but suffered from growth hormone deficiency. His dad, a poor steelworker, could not afford it. The legendary Argentine team River Plate recruited Messi but balked at the $900/month treatment.

article-1382260-0BCCEDFD00000578-821_634x516Investment-risking on a potential starlet, FC Barcelona forked over for his treatment and moved him to Spain, where he rose through the ranks of their youth academy.

With consistent admiration from coaches, players and commentators around the world, Messi is perched atop the pyramid of soccer prowess. Any team would love to contract him. They would be willing to pay multiple millions of dollars. But Messi remains loyal to the Catalan kings because he’s grateful: when he was needy, they were there for him.

First you must invest to reap a harvest of blessing. Invest your most precious commodity: time. Pray.

It’s a four-letter word

If you lose millions of dollars, you can get it back. If you lose your health, you can get it back. You can get back just about most anything. But the one thing you can never get back is t-i-m-e.

Many things we think are a “waste of time” are not. Those things we hold to be a best use of time, actually are a waste. Time will run out into the ocean of eternity one day and will stop marching forward. On that day, you and I will be in either Heaven or Hell. What we do here on earth in favor of eternity is the best use of time.

Have you hugged your family yet? Have you hugged God in prayer today?

We couldn’t enjoy the remodeling

ATT001935No sooner had we remodeled our home in Guatemala than we fled to America. A run-in with criminals forced us to leave. The trauma of the robbery at gunpoint took the foreground; the irony of our “lost investment” sat in the background.

ATT001997The stylized ceiling and modernized kitchen seemed like a good investment. We had lived in Guatemala for 15 years and did not foresee leaving our beloved missionary life. The threat of kidnapping changed that abruptly. The money already spent proved pointless.

Pointless.

Our stay in Guatemala was NOT permanent. It was temporary. So too our life here on Earth is short. ATT0020810Moses called his son Gershom, which means foreigner, because he felt like he didn’t belong in Midian. Peter says we’re only sojourners here on the globe. Our true home is Heaven.

What we invest for ATT0021412pleasure here is… well, it kind of seems pointless.

Was that what God was telling me? Whatever you do for eternity — even if it’s only five minutes of prayer today because that’s the best you can do — stands forever. We are here only briefly, so if all your effort is focused for this earth, try to enjoy these fleeting moments as much as possible. My recommendation: Work for eternity.

Text without ceasing

smallbusiness.chron.comIt used to be that Bible teachers would downplay pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) because — they said — it wasn’t possible to talk to someone 24/7.

We now know this was wrong. It is possible to communicate with someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The texters do it.

You scold your kids for texting at the table, but why? You text in the boss’s meeting. People are constantly texting in church (hey! no hypocrisy here — I’m guilty also). Some people, if they wake up at 3 a.m, empty their bladder and inbox at the same time. Others keep the phone by the pillow.

I’m a teacher, so I know about texting answers. Some students are so proficient, they text in their imagespockets without evening removing the device to see what they’re spelling. How they see the response is still a mystery for me; I’m the teacher and can’t figure out all their tricks.

So don’t pan prayer without ceasing. It can be done! (If you can stop texting long enough to say Hi to God!)

If you have needs (I do), then text them to God.

Every attempt works

from blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com

from blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com

Out of frustration, we called it burro-cracy. (Get it? A variation on bureaucracy.)

547750373398755794_zDvsmcus_bThe burro is not a flattering term in Spanish. When we would try to get paperwork done, they would tell us one thing was wrong. We would go to a lawyer or notary and fix it. Then we would wait in line again, usually an hour. Next they would tell us something else was wrong. This process repeated itself for days and weeks until finally months later through lots of diligence, we would finally get approved.

AARGH! WHY COULDN’T YOU JUST TELL ME AAAAAAAALLLLLLLL PROBLEMS THE FIRST TIME?????????

from blue pueblo (the best pics!)

from blue pueblo (the best pics!)

Thank God, prayer’s not like that. It’s easy. You don’t have to get a bunch of papers signed, notarized, stamped, authorized, officialized. You don’t have to walk for kilometers on your knees. You don’t have to…

All you have to do is talk, and you’re instantly in contact with the Almighty. Every attempt at prayer — no matter how clumsy, no matter how imperfect you are — brings the will of God. I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing — 1 Tim. 2:8 NIV. They may be filthy, but when the hands go up, they become holy.

Lit and Scribbles with Jae shares on $$$

Jae

Jae

I don’t write hardly about the tithe, but I believe in it. Today, I’ve asked Jae to share her experiences, that might be useful to somebody. She’s an accomplished writer on wordpress, and I certainly enjoy her posts always. Here’s what she says:

As you can see clearly from her face, it's Jae.

As you can see clearly from her face, it’s Jae.

I have found that regularly donating a portion of my income to church and charity always keeps me in good financial hands. It doesn’t mean that I’m rich or that things aren’t tight, but it seems like when you give to God he always looks after you. I heard Jon Hunstman, Sr. once said, if you want to be rich find a charity and donate to it regularly. I think rich can be both a financial thing and a spiritual thing. I feel like because I try to be generous to the less fortunate with what little I have I’m “rich” in many ways and have a happy life.

The extraordinary in the ordinary

beechwoodcross.blogspot.comjpg

from beechwoodcross.blogspot.com

Jesus and Peter had to pay the temple tax but had no money. So Jesus sends Peter back to his old vocation, fishing. Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours — Matt. 17:27 NIV.

stock-illustration-10637597-coin-in-the-fish-mouthIf you are in His will, God will provide for your need. Prayer means getting the supernatural into the natural. If you’re working, you won’t have to change your routine, just request the dosage of God’s blessing upon your natural labors.

They call this miracle money, and after 33 years of being a Christian, I have seen God answer like this over and over, in my own life and others. It especially happened when I pastored in Guatemala, particularly when we bought a property and had huge mortgage payments.

define-necessityDon’t buy a lottery ticket. Just pray and believe. The extraordinary (miracle money) came out of the ordinary work (fishing), but it was blessed by God. Prayer is actively seeking that blessing.

Vying for attention

350-woman-smiling-computerSEOs battle to rank for Google’s first page. You have to jump through hoops to discover the inscrutable indices of Google’s bots to get a 3, 4, or 5 that can land you on the first page of search. After months of ingenuity and sweat, you may get it. All this for the attention of the consumer.

To get God’s attention is much easier. As a matter of fact, you’re his page-one top hit. It doesn’t require months, nor weeks, nor days. Not even hours. Just 30 seconds of prayer

You have His undivided attention de facto.

You have His undivided attention de facto.

is enough to have His undivided attention. In the Kingdom of God, everyone ranks a 10 because God is omniscient — He knows everything all at the same time.

Actually, it is God who is vying for your attention. He’s doing everything in His power, but you rank Him waaaaay down on search page 157 — or lower. Stop playing hard-to-get, and let God rise in your ranking of things clamoring for your attention.

As soon as you pray, you’ll pop up on His screen. Sooner.

Like a motorcycle gang

outlawsRiddle: What’s small but huge?

Answer: prayer.

It is so small that even a child can do it — without much effort. It’s so huge because tectonic plates are moved in the Heavenlies, which we habitually underestimate.

mischief3n-4-webIt’s huge because we make a big stink about how hard it is, like it requires soooooo much effort.

Well, it does require a lot of effort, but not because it’s like looking for the Higgs boson. What’s hard is to push out the raucous crowd of activities that clamor for our attention. For some people, 15 minutes of prayer seems like an eeee-t-e-r-n-i-t-y. For me, it is hard to find over an hour.

Nevertheless, when I do pray, I always savor it, I always marvel at the results.

prayeronbeachI swear I’ll never give it up. But then the next day the disgusting boisterous crowd of leather-clad activities roars in on Harley Davidsons and refuses to be dislodged. Can somebody come over here and clear these ornery thugs out? I need to pray.

Not greed

563071_494995527204662_794280061_nSatan targets the new pastor’s car, family health and finances. The unrelenting assault is designed to drive you crazy and make you quit. Out of this struggle when I was a missionary in Guatemala for almost 16 years, this blog was born. By “praying for finances,” I never mean greed.

Yabby curreyou CAN stave off Hell’s fury through prayer. You can see miracle money keep you in the pastoral business. Don’t grant soil to discouragement in your heart. Cultivate faith constantly and pray unceasingly. “Just barely making it” is the place where I have always been. Does it seem ironic that, while we established dominion in a church and school in Guatemala, we didn’t have great riches?

And yet we did have great riches! We had the precious souls of men, snatched off the precipice leading to Hell, transformed into valuable members of society. While the church prospered, our finances and those of the church, “hung in there.” We have no complaint. We had no lack, though many times I worried, many times I wondered where we would get the money to fix the car. Sometimes, we ran out of money, and it was unnerving, but we still had food in the cupboard.

George Muller prayed for bread and milk to feed the orphans in his care. He prayed for the bikepileheater to be fixed in the dead of winter. He prayed for hours — until the answer came. God prospered His work; He didn’t lavish luxury on His servant.

If you are not struggling financially today, I urge you to pray for some minister who undoubtedly is struggling. God will bless you for it.

Turn your life around

images-1The tongue is a rudder and a bit, according to James 3. Though a small member of the body, it sets the direction of your life. It defines reality. Worse than being bombarded by negative thoughts is giving “air time” to them on your tongue. It takes it up to a higher level. It makes mere thoughts

Like a bit, like a rudder, the tongue brings control.

Like a bit, like a rudder, the tongue brings control.

materialize. Cutting yourself down in your own mind is bad but worse is cutting yourself down with your tongue. It’s legitimizes something that should be simply dismissed as rubbish.

This warning turns into a promise for blessing. Don’t brush off the power of your tongue to pronounce good for your life. Like a rudder that turns around a huge freighter, like a bit that turns around an unwieldy beast, the tongue can turn around your life. Prayer, then, is doubly good. Not only does it involve positive confession, it involves God! Discount God to your own demise!

Don't pooh-pooh prayer; it unleashes incredible power. pic from Ben Rogers Blog

Don’t pooh-pooh prayer; it unleashes incredible power. pic from Ben Rogers Blog

After comparing the tongue to a rudder and a bit, James 3 then compares it to a spark. One word can ignite a forest fire. That fire can be good or bad, depending on the word you utter. If we know that we can blow up our marriage just by saying one word (“divorce”), how much more can we cause blessings to break out with one word of prayer? Say that word today. What is that word? It is “Jesus.”

Pray with faith for finances, health, emotional well-being today. Pray for the advancing of Christ’s kingdom and love throughout the Earth.

He sees what can be

Coach Neos today with his wife, Bethany -- that certain pair of eyes. He now pastors in Hesperia, California.

Coach Neos today with his wife, Bethany — that certain pair of eyes. He now pastors in Hesperia, California.

Twice the lowly Lighthouse was runner-up in eight man football in California championship. With a student population of 50, that’s spectacular.

With his typical one-day stubble, just out of GQ.

With his typical one-day stubble, just out of GQ.

Those heady heights were owed to an extraordinary coach, George Neos, who served as principal of the high school for many years. Not only was Neos a Dartmouth football champion, he was well on his way to becoming a college coach. God interrupted his career launch and brought him to the Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica, California. Neos came to teach football and for a certain pair of brown eyes.

The hulking coach had a knack for seeing every milligram of potential in a player. He coached nuances to perfection so that kids produced stellar output. Neos never saw a kid as chubby, lazy, or out of shape. He saw what a kid could become, and he worked relentlessly towards that goal.

Tex Hagoski on this year's team.

Tex Hagoski on this year’s team.

When God looks at you, he doesn’t see your flops and your flabbiness. He sees your future fabulousness. God sees a finished product. And He’s willing to work with all your failures and flailings to machine out the ideal Christian leader.

If you are a Christian leader, you can’t get stuck in the present. You’ve got to see ahead, what can become of the sheep God has brought under your care. Prayer is believing in the future and striving for it.

Bliss point

Super yummy, super bad for you. Pic thanks to Cloud Lounge

Super yummy, super bad for you. Pic thanks to Cloud Lounge

In fitness, enthusiasts work towards the release of endorphins. In the junk food industry, processors add the perfect amount of sugar — called technically “bliss” point — to dazzle your taste buds and addict you like cocaine.

Hahaha. What a great joke pic!

Hahaha. What a great joke pic!

It’s your choice of pleasure — the easy, fattening road or the hard-work and sweat road that helps you live longer.

Such is Christianity. You either go for easy gratification that ultimately destroys your soul. Or you pray, read your Bible, resolve people issues and continue in church — and you get soul healthiness that is emotionally sensational!

As I browse blogs, I see so many that hover around the

Watch out! What you eat can imprison you!

metaphorical pillars of processed foods: sugar, salt and food. They rave about stuff that’s toxic to your heart. A few blogs take the high road and promote happiness through spiritual exercise.

What I talk about here is praying, praying more and experiencing the thrill of answered prayers. . If you’ve never felt this exhiliration, you’ve got to try it. But think of it like the gym. If you do just a little, the results may be a bit short. If you pour yourself into it, the results are — well, ripped.

Never, never, never, never give up

On dirt fields, he taught me. He was patient, hard-working, demanding, tireless. He almost always won, often coming from behind.

On dirt fields, he taught me. He was patient, hard-working, demanding, tireless. He almost always won, often coming from behind.

Like he fought on the field, so in the church. Mario always invited youths to know God.

Like he fought on the field, so in the church. Mario always invited youths to know God.

No matter how many goals he goes down, Mario Ajcip never despairs. The Guatemalan patiently works to improve his team and to remount the score and win. Sometimes he yells at his teammates, demanding output.

Since learning to play from him some 10 years imagesago, I now know that his is an extraordinary characteristic. I have played, coached and watched teams that become despondent and give up. If they go down two goals, they anguish and pray for the final whistle to hurry so they can scurry off the field of humiliation. Soccer is low scoring, so when you’re down a few, commentators say it’s over.

Well, I learned from Mario. It’s never over!

I don’t care what troubles your facing now (economical, marital, prodigal), it ain’t over till you’re dead. SOOOOO, keep fighting. Keep kicking that ball, connect passes, set up goals, defend667 staunchly. Don’t just retreat into your half and try to limit goals against, run the counter-attack! And yell at yourself for having a give-up attitude.

The title of the blog, of course, comes from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who inspired Britain to stand alone against the monolithic Axis Powers in World War II, when France and all other resistance had been crushed. We have need to remember his motto today. Keep believing, keep working, keep praying.