Monthly Archives: July 2014

If you want to fly, you have to try

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

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

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

Don’t be ground-bound. Try to fly.

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Don’t play the saxophone…

don't play the saxophoneLet it play you.

Jazz Legend Charlie Parker inadvertently resolves a Christian enigma — how to live for God in a world of temptations. No better advice for Christian living can I find.

Trying to force overcoming living doesn’t work. We need the Spirit of God to take over.

Of course, Parker was talking about not breaking under pressure, about relaxing, about achieving unthinkable heights of performance through effortlessness and spontaneity.

And that’s what the Spirit does. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. — Galatians 5:18 NIV.

As far back as Paul’s time, the dilemma of how to live the Christian life boggled thinkers. Debate has raged through two millennia. Proponents of works fought proponents of grace. Churches convulsed, writhed, divided over it.

And I search. The more I try, the more I fail. Where is this effortless, easy Christianity of being led by the Spirit.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord. — Zechariah 4:6

It took decades…

patienceIt took decades for Abraham… to finally have a child. He was 100. Sarah was 90.

It took decades for Moses… to deliver the Israelites. He was 40 when he flopped. He didn´t want to have anything to do with it when God came around and offered him the job again when he was 80.

It took decades for Joseph to get out slavery/jail and realize God’s promised destiny.

It took decades for the Temple to be built, decades for the Israelites to be freed from captivity, decades for the Messiah to come, decades for Christianity to come out of persecution.

God never is in a hurry.

I guess I can still wait on His timing.

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Beauty for ashes

beauty for ashesLest the light of the glorious gospel shine upon them. — 2 Cor. 4:4

Peace in stressful times

peace of Jesus

Stressed? Get Jesus. He gives peace.

Thanks to osmais.com for the wallpaper

The only Heaven some people will know

taste of HeavenThis world, as wonderful as it can be, offers only a taste of Heaven.

When my soul becomes parched

desert

God turns the desert into lush forests.

If you are passing through a desert — a time of trials, of lack of finances, of marital strife, of sickness, of despondency, of dryness of soul — God will turn it completely around.

Surreptitious entry

lock_pickingFor decades, spies have defeated the locks with rakes and tension bars, with key-impression kits, lockpick guns and the like. A new technique called “lock bumping” has gone viral lately.

For whatever reason, these people refuse to be denied access.

All of humanity is denied access into Heaven because of sin, but Jesus is our lockpicker. Forgiveness of sin grants access to God’s goodness and grace.

When everything’s going wrong…

worshipJust worship.

Royalty was there and we didn’t know it

Don’t you just hate stinking photobombers?

stinking photobomber

 

 

Jayde Taylor and Brooke Peris were taking a selfie to remember their game. And this intruder steps in uninvited in the background. Argh!!*@!

But WAIT A MINUTE! Who IS that photobomber? Look closely.

This is no ordinary prankster spoiling your memories. This is the Queen of England.

Jayde and Brooke weren’t at all miffed. Actually, it turned out to be the experience of a lifetime, the memory to never forget.

Has God ever photobombed your life? You thought you were alone, going through struggles, and then boom! you realized later that God was there in the background all the time. You got lifebombed by Royalty (as in, Divine Royalty).

I love the testimonies especially of former atheists who have come to Christ, weeping and falling in love with the Savior they thought didn’t exist.

I love it when it happens to me. God, you can photobomb my life any time You want.

The miracle band


We didn’t have money to buy instruments. But God raised up finances through the sale of candies (!). We didn’t have know-how to teach the kids to play them. But God sent us a trained band leader, who free-of-charge offered his service.

I stood in awe of what God did. The instruments came out of nothing. This man, patiently and expertly, taught each kid and then the group to coordinate. We got into the Guatemalan Independence Day parade and on national television with the message of Christ that first year, and we’ve been there ever since.

This video, which was taken of a practice run, is a bit rough around the edges. But I can’t help but feel warmed with joy to see what God does. I can still praise God. When He does something, our best efforts pale by comparison. The Liceo Bilingue La Puerta continues to glorify God.

Sum up a school year in nine minutes


Here’s Senior Joseph, who just graduated. He produced this short to sum up what was a long journey for him, a time of highs and lows, triumphs and despair. Somehow it all seems worthwhile afterwards, the pain, the late nights studying, football’s Hell week, and my English class.

One of the last things I did in Guatemala…

It was the fountain, seen in the background as this young girl explains why she likes the Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta, the school I founded and worked for 14 years. Whew! What a labor of love!

As I think back now, it is almost hard to remember the blood, sweat and tears invested into this place. The fountain is symbolic, a splash of beauty and tranquility to crown more than a decade of untiring work.

The beauty heals. To see children still being ministered to, to see the school functioning as a safe place, to see kids be raised up in God’s gold standard, is rewarding.

Even if you don’t understand Spanish, I invite you to watch this video, in which the girl, unprompted, unscripted, shares naturally what flows from her heart.

Question: Journeying From Atheism To Faith

I love this!

J.S. Park: Hospital Chaplain, Skeptical Christian



unfadinggrace asked:

How did you get to the point to being an atheist to now believing in Christ? What changed?

Hey there my friend: Here are a few thoughts on my journey from atheism to faith.  I know that we won’t see eye to eye on everything, and  maybe some of this will sound ridiculous or outlandish, but this is simply part of my discovery. I understand some will hate this or bring a reductionistic wit to bash it all, and that’s okay.  I hope we have at least enough humility to admit we’re all still learning.

– I found atheism to be completely untenable and unsustainable.

If I were to actually follow the logic of atheism down to the bottom, it would be an endless rabbit trail of contradictions.  No atheist truly lives out to their obvious conclusions, because no one really lives life as if there’s no meaning…

View original post 657 more words

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Overcomers

overcomers

Just passing by turned into a miracle


“You know we just can´t pass by without stopping in to say Hi.

It is considered the height of rudeness in Guatemala to not dutifully greet EVERYONE. No being too busy.

So Dianna went in to see Surama, and I waited. Apparently the Holy Spirit took over. She asked Surama if she had spoken in her heavenly language lately. The question provoked panic which brought repentance. Surama, who had lived years as a deadened Christian, came alive with a vibrancy with which she is still serving Jesus. She works at the school I started.

When you serve Christ 24-7, you never know when God will use you. Now God is using Surama.

Short-lived savors of glory

world cup trophyAnd so it goes. Four a few hours, the squad of German players who attained World Cup glory could caress the $10 million, 14-pound, 18-karat gold trophy.

Then after posing with the most-coveted sports prize in the world, it was taken from them and locked away. Two previous cups have been stolen, and FIFA guards against further theft.

Germany’s name was carved on the base with “2014.” Germany only gets a gold-plated replica.

Such anticlimax exposes this world’s essential hollowness. Jesus warns that the treasures you store here can corrupt or get stolen. If not, you can’t take it with you when you die — even if you put it in your coffin — because you (your spirit) won’t be where your body is.

Jesus tells us to work for rewards in Heaven.

And the German squad? They have bragging rights. That might last them for their lifetime.

New and old followers of Christ


It has been four years since I was missionary in Guatemala. As the years pass, there are old dear friends still in the work — and they warm my heart. Then too, there are new friends, also a joy. The video is of Andrea, who shyly explained what she liked about the school, el Liceo Bilingue La Puerta, that I left working in Guatemala. I’m proud of her.

This was my life | Adorable kids sing Guatemala’s national anthem


Four years ago, I was sent home from the mission field when criminals assaulted my family. Since kidnapping was likely subsequent to the assault, I realized God was sending me home. Today, I am supporting my mother church, the Lighthouse in Santa Monica.

From time to time, I visit the Guatemalan church and school. These are kids I labored 16 years for as a missionary. I hope their song warms your heart like it does mine.

They call him Messiah

sad messiLionel Messi doesn’t talk trash, boast, swag in front of media. He won the most prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or four consecutive years (2009-12) — the only player to ever do so. He is consistently called the best on the planet.

When the Argentine takes to the field, it is assumed he will make the difference. He will win break the deadlock, befuddle defenders with bursts of speed and magic from his feet. Among those who idolize football, he is called Messiah, a pun on his last name.

But Messi found out he is NOT the Messiah at the World Cup final. Unlike Maradona and Pele, he was unable to carry his team to victory over the German squad. (They aren’t messiahs either, but Maradona thinks he is.)

messi fail

With the German keeper, who won best goalie.

It was evident that Messi found no flavor in winning the Golden Ball for best player. It was said that the only trophy missing from his cabinet was the World Cup, and he returned home without it. When he had chances to score, he struck wide (uncharacteristically).

In a classy display of good sportsmanship, German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger tried to encourage Messi, who looked rigid and uncomfortable listening to him. Maybe he was trying to keep from crying.

messi schweisteiger

Messi and Schweinsteiger

It is a good moment when we humans realize we are NOT God. There is a God who loves you and wants to bless you, but the whole universe doesn’t center around you. We are the creation of God, not the other way around. We need to praise Him, and not receive the praise of man. If you don’t believe in God, then naturally, you are your own god. Enjoy the destiny you bring yourself. You are cheating yourself of the destiny God wants to give you (Heaven, for example).

I feel bad for Messi because he’s generally such a humble (and talented) guy. I also want to pray for him to get to know the true Messiah.

Being chosen

chosenBastian Schweinsteiger had no lack of confidence going into the World Cup Final. Sewn onto his boots, he the words “the chosen one.”

No one can complain. He ran an extraordinary 15 kilometers into 120 minutes of play to stymie Argentina’s dominant midfield. Argentina fouled him repeatedly and seriously in an attempt to slow him down by roughing him up. At the end, his sacrifice contributed to Germany’s 1-0 win to lift the cup.

Previously, only Coach Jose Mourinho had dared to call himself “the special one.” A tactical genius and a relentless braggart, Mourinho drew more titters than respect for being full of himself.

bastion is a bastionI’m not hurling stones today. Instead, I want to remind us Christians that we are both “chosen” and “special.” These soccer stars don’t crack under pressure. They perform because of a seamless confidence.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. — 1 Peter 2:9 NIV.

bastianGod wants us to out-perform the competition, to win (souls). For Germany, Bastian was a bastion. May we likewise brings victories to Christianity.

The prize goes to the most consistent

mario goetz world cup goalIt wasn’t Mario Goetze’s sublimely chested reception of a lofted center or his twisting left-footed volley that won the World Cup for Germany. It was the consistency of its team.

A feat of artistic football perfection, Goetze’s goal will doubtless be chronicled along with the works of Michelangelo. But the mind-boggling shot that beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time was only the fruit of a team that has made soccer into a science.

Goetz World cup 2014

Probably the Argentinians were expecting to go to penalties. Or maybe they were just plain tired. But they left Goetze unmarked late in extra time for him to execute a logic-defying goal.

Germany was the first country to apply America’s sports science (from baseball, football and basketball) to soccer. They scout nationwide talent from 8-year-olds upwards. They methodically develop stars. They rigorously analyze strengths and weaknesses. They practice meticulously every possible play in the free-flowing sport that has no huddle, no time-outs, no plays called from the sidelines.

Argentina seemed only to come to life in semi-finals. With flair and an energetic midfield, Argentina showed moments of brilliance in the final but were unlucky to not finish.

In the end, the Sons of Science beat the Kings of Creativity.

14-germany-cup

The $10 million chunk of goal goes to Germany for the fourth time in history.

Germany defended tenaciously and waited, waited, waited for just one defensive lapse, a moment that came deep in extra time when substitute Goetz found himself unmarked in the area. The baby-faced wunderkind bounced the ball perfectly off his chest and confounded ace goalie Sergio Romero by spinning and smashing the ball into the opposite side of the goal.

The gem of a goal only crowned a winning system.

Bastian Schweinsteiger consoles Messi.

Bastian Schweinsteiger consoles Messi.

I was disappointed because I wanted Lionel Messi to win the only trophy missing from his war chest. I admire Messi for his humility and ability. Plus, he plays for my favorite club team, FC Barcelona.

But I can’t moan much. Germany deserved the final.

Actually, their win answers a great Christian dilemma. If all sins can be forgiven, why try to serve the Lord? Why not consent to your flesh since you can still make Heaven?

The reason is prize goes to the consistent. While you can always make Heaven with some repentance, you miss so many blessings in your life through your disobedience. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not condemning anyone. We all flub. But I encourage — myself included — to strive to do better. Let’s all (Christians) strive to be more consistent in our service to God. WE will reap the benefits.

Win or lose, give glory to God

david luis praysNobody expected the embarrassing 7-1 loss of Brazil to Germany World Cup semi finals. But as critics groaned and Brazilians cried, another unexpected event transpired. Brazilian defender David Luiz dropped to his knees and prayed.

Amid a gaggle of self-lovers, braggarts and primadonnas who make up soccer’s elite, it’s refreshing to see genuine Christians.

To thank God publicly for a victory is admirable. To thank God for a defeat is maturity.

david luis supergoalAfter all, it’s only a game, though the way people follow it — and the way money is thrown at it — you’d think it was god.

And God is not a game. If we lose, let us remember that God doesn’t favor any team. He wants people to get in relationship with Him, starting now and continuing on into Heaven.

david luiz free kick“My faith in Jesus gives me strength to keep on going out onto the field and to do my best, but I also want to inspire others – that is what God inspires me to do,” Luiz gold Christian Today. “For me, true life is found in the relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe that everything in life belongs to God and he has a clear plan for us if we follow him.”

I like that more than seeing Argentina win tomorrow.

Brazil lost, as expected, to Netherlands today. Defense was shoddy. But Luiz is winning at a game that is much more important than soccer.

Another Argentina showed up

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

What I saw previously of Argentina in World Cup rounds left me doubting. They were flat. They struggled to beat easy opponents. They lacked the flair that carries teams from the Americas in the Americas to lift the gold trophy.

But fizzless Argentina showed up to play today against Holland and shattered my predictions. (After witnessing the Orange Machine demolish former champ Spain with aggressive defending and laser-sharp passes with unthinkable finishes, I speculated they’d win their first ever).

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

It was a different Argentina. They looked like electrons shooting around the midfield, dominating most of the game. Unstoppable Arjen Robben met his match in the superb defender Javier Mascherano, whose millisecond-pinpoint tackle deprived Robben of his best chance. Argentina just couldn’t pick the lock of the Dutch defense, and so the game had to go to penalties.

Incredibly, Argentine Goalie Sergio Rojas stopped two shots and thus stifled Holland’s hopes.

It reminded of Samson. Ever flubbing, Samson showed up strong on game day. We live under grace to forgive our sins. When we are needed to step up to the plate, let it be a different us — a Holy Spirit empowered us — that shows up.

The best offense is a good defense

Brazil's defeat

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Brazil was supposed to crown itself king in its own country. Its brand of soccer an irresistible wave of yellow. Eleven players who dominate possession, who dance past defenders, who weave intricate webs of passing, who strike with precision from close range or with power from distance.

But Brazil was eliminated from the 2014 World Cup by the Germans, who have reduced soccer to a science. Brazil played its usual, open soccer. Defenders were free to making bombing runs forward in attempts to overrun opponents with sheer numbers of quality players. But Germany foiled their plan, finding more holes in their defense than a net designed to hold water. At the end, the greatest humiliation in soccer had been done: 7-1.

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Now more than before, criticism leveled against the U.S. coach should be silenced. The U.S. lost to Germany, but only by 1-0. Jurgen Klinsmann played a tight defense and achieved a respectable result.

Brazil’s trademark of open soccer got repudiated. If you want to win, you had better defend. If you don’t defend all your lanes, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to attack.

If we want to execute an attack against the devil, then we had better defend. Defend our marriage and our children. Defend our heart with a guard against worldly entertainment. Defend our soul with persistent prayer, Bible study and church attendance.

Instead of raising the trophy, Brazil crashed and burned in ignominy.

Poetic justice at World Cup

I don't own the rights for this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights for this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Algeria scared expected-winner Germany in extra time of octavos knockout stage of the World Cup 2014. Had the northern African nation upset Germany, it would have been justice.

In the 1982 World Cup, over-confident, prideful, and racist West Germany players trash-talked the upstart Algeria team. The Algerians were nomads out of the desert. The Germans would dedicate their seventh goal to their wives, their eighth to their dogs. One player boasted the game would be so easy to win, he would smoke a cigar while playing.

But the Algerians won 2-1.

The West Germans were shocked. In their subsequent game, they colluded with Austria to play a game of 1-goal difference, which was the only option to send Algeria back home and allow both Germany and Austria to move on to the next round. After the first German goal, both teams essentially dilly-dallied with the ball for 80 minutes and never tried to score. Fans, who had paid their tickets to see a great game, were outraged. West German soccer officials recognized it was a “tactical game” and unleashed more racist comments.

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

I was rooting for Algeria this time. It would have been payback for the evil, the corruption, the arrogance. Unfortunately, not every score will be settled in this imperfect world.

At least this time, the Germans stayed mum before the game. They respected their opponents.

Not until extra time could Germany break through a well-organized and determined squad this World Cup. They scored two goals, but Algeria struck back with minutes of play. It ended a reverse of the 1982 score line: 2-1 in favor of Germany. Algeria did respectably. We ought to respect our adversaries always.

 

Please don’t tarnish your memory as a hero

donovan lashes out

Pic from Yahoo Sports. I don’t own the rights to this pic, and I’m not making any money on it.

Landon Donovan came off bitter.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann omitted the notable U.S. star. Up until the U.S. loss, Donovan, who was my hero, was mum about the snub. He was supportive of the team.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann hasn't lowered himself to the level of defending himself against a bitter player.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann hasn’t lowered himself to the level of defending himself against a bitter player.

No sooner did the outgunned U.S. squad get booted (logically) by a Belgium team glutted with top club stars than Donovan unleashed a rant against the coach. According to Donovan, he mismanaged the team.

Landon, please, don’t do this…

julian-green-usmnt-soccer-player1

Julian Green wowed everyone with an extremely difficult lobbed ball over his shoulder that he hit squarely into the net, foiling the competent German goalie. This pic belongs to USMNT (I think). Thanks for letting me use it! I’m not making any money on it.

As the top goal-scorer for the U.S., you are an icon, an inspiration. You’re huge, but when you lash out, you make yourself small, immature, full of yourself, etc. It’s not pretty. Many of your followers will give you credence. But a whole other slew of us are going to leave you alone, a blathering brat.

If Donovan’s omission was the demise of the U.S team is material for lambasting comment threads. Klinsmann marshaled the U.S. team to success out of the very difficult “Group of Death.” He limited the German victory to one goal.

He’s locked down talented stars for the future. His recruit, 18-year-old Julian Green smashed home his first World Cup goal after only a two minutes of play. A coach can only bring so many players on his squad. Had he not brought Green, the dual-citizen starlet might have opted for Germany permanently.

Donovan, you’re not young anymore. We’re sorry. We love you. But go in grace. Don’t pile shame upon yourself. We want to hear your expert analysis, not your vented bitterness.

Why I teach at Lighthouse


Only one minute video. No further words needed. This is what we strive untiringly to do.

Put your failures behind you

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Chilean Mauricio Pinilla commemorated his World Cup failure — a late strike that would have defeated Brazil had it not bounced off the bar — with a tattoo on his back titled: “One centimeter from glory.”

Why would he immortalize a painful memory? It’s on his back.

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

As Christians, we must be forward-looking (I don’t think Pinilla is Christian). We must put our failures behind us and strive for better things in the future.

 

Build

Julian Green's late strike

Julian Green’s sensational strike sparked a rally that had people believing. (I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.)

Don’t go glum over the U.S. elimination from World Cup. The run was the impossible dream. Just to make it out of the group stage showed prowess.

Amid the tears, there is one glimmer of hope. That was a 19-year-old kid who only played a few minutes of World Cup soccer and scored a sensational neck-stretcher wild-sideways-kick goal that sparked an emotional U.S. rally in their 2-1 loss to Belgium.

A resident of Germany since age 2, Julian Green only recently defined his desire to serve the red, white and blue. He was recruited also by Germany.

sensational Tim Howard

U.S. Goalie Tim Howard made scintillating save after save to keep the U.S. in the game. (I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.)

U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was wise to sacrifice Landon Donovan for Julian Green. Recognizing that USA’s chances were unrealistic in 2014, Klinsmann’s taking the long-term approach to build U.S. soccer. Build, don’t burn, your program. Come back stronger. Make a squad with a realistic chance at winning a World Cup. Until now, our only flourish was a 2nd-place finish in the Confederations Cup in 2009.

Julian Green over shoulder kick

An astonishing over-the-shoulder one-touch fires home to spark U.S. hopes. (I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.)

If you are church leader, it matters little how badly you’re getting beaten (by lack of finances, by apathy, by attacks on your health). The only thing that matters is how you marshal your resources to build God’s kingdom. If this doesn’t appear to be the year of revival, maybe next year.

The impossible dream is not over. It’s just extended.

Who makes every save?

TimHoward1

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Tim Howard made 16 saves in U.S. Group of 16 knockout game. It was a record for a single World Cup game. Still two goals got past him as Belgium flexed its experience muscle. There’s only one person who makes every save, and that’s Jesus. If you cry out to Him, He will save you.