I really don’t care too much for Sweet Lady Jane’s pastries. But if I let my wife choose where we go out, her eyes go sparkly. She becomes Sweet Lady Dianna.
If the husband insists on making every decision, he will sour his marriage, frustrating needlessly his wife. If you insist on making EVERY decision, you ultimately harm your own leadership. You show your self-centeredness, which diminishes your love.
Go where you don’t like. Go out on a date where she likes.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged advice, Faith, God, husband, Jesus, love, marriage, romance, sacrifice, spouse, true love, wife
Overcome by the darkness, this young Grant High School student decided she would end her life at the end of the school day. But instead, she went to an on-campus Christian club and heard Brian Barcelona share with about 150 other students.
After a stirring message, “she came running up to the front. She was weeping. She asked Brian to pray for her. She was going to commit suicide that day, but instead she found God,” says Allan Giglio, a coordinator for One Voice, which is seeing extraordinary revival in Los Angeles and Orange County high schools.
About 2,500 students at 15 high schools hear the gospel each week through campus Christian clubs, which invite One Voice representatives to speak, Giglio says. Kids have been saved from drugs, violence, sexual sin, and hopelessness.
Check out the rest of the article.
Posted in Christian education
Tagged Allan Giglio, Brian Barcelona, campus, Christian clubs, Christianity, Faith, God, high school, Jesus, Los Angeles, One Voice, revival, schools
We prepare for the SAT, final exams, a career, an interview, a game, a wedding, a speech and retirement. When do we prepare for death?
They say there’s no need since there’s nothing beyond death. You simply cease to exist, they say.
Are you so sure? The Bible, the world’s most read book, attests to a Heaven and a Hell. Even the heart of many longs for eternity. That feeling was placed in man by God.
To deny the existence of the afterlife is to deny the Creator of all of creation, which when looking at an architectural wonder is ludicrous to deny the architect behind it. (Go ahead, barrage me with Latin names for logical fallacies. Regardless, the point remains true!)
We are barely out of the womb and then we enter the grave. Compared to eternity, this life is b-r-i-e-f!
Photo credit: Zachary Scott’s series explores the issues of elderly. By dressing up toddlers as grandparents, he is suggesting that age is an issue of mentality. I like his reflection and add to it the thought of eternity.
Virtually a one-man team, O.J. Simpson always praised his blockers.
A leader is measured not by his individual talent but by his ability to “rub off” on others. There’s no use bragging about how good you are if you don’t make others good around you.
Even Jesus “rubbed off” on his followers. In Christianity, this is called “discipleship,” and due to an excellent process of discipleship, Jesus could leave the entire ship in capable hands when he resurrected and handed off responsibility to his disciples.
Will we learn this in high school soccer?
Every side of his pickup truck was completely smashed and compacted after Kaleb Whitby struck a semi from behind and was then hit by another semi in a highway pileup caused by morning fog and black ice.
Whitby literally walked away unscathed – with just two Band-Aids – after his Chevy Silverado was banged, spun, and ultimately came to rest in the vice-grip of parallel semi trucks. By God’s protective hand, he narrowly escaped death.
“I do believe in God. I do believe He protected me,” Kaleb told GodReports.com. “I don’t know if it was an army of angels that held those trucks apart, but I know it wasn’t my strength. I have faith that somebody was there to protect me.” Read more here: Christian news.
Our first game was against a C-team. We won 2-0. Our kids didn’t learn anything from the win.
But when we started playing B- and A-teams, we lost 0-8. Then the kids realized they didn’t know squat about soccer and would need to really learn. We have lost every league game (the win was a scrimmage) — except yesterday.
In the last game of the regular season, we tied 2-2. Now the kids are learning how to play.
Losses are valuable. You tend to learn more from a loss — if you don’t cast yourself in the pit of self-pity. A lot of people learn nothing from a win — in the self-congratulation there is no self-study, no refining, no fixing.
If you are currently losing, rejoice. Study, work and improve. The win is ahead. You can’t get to win except by losses.
I’m proud of the progress of my co-ed team (playing against all boys teams) at Lighthouse Church School in Santa Monica.
I took him to his favorite restaurant Saturday.
I’m getting close to my dad. A week ago, he was rushed to the hospital from the supermarket with what turned out to be nothing. Sick with the flu, he felt like he was going to fall.
He’s 87, so I felt like this is the red flag I’ve been waiting for to take more care of him. My dad and I are so different. I was a missionary. He lived the American Dream. I love people; he’s a recluse. My life revolved around extending God’s kingdom; his life revolved around HDTV. I was closer to my mom. She’s in Heaven now.
I’ve been sleeping out in the San Fernando Valley to keep him company. I’ve been driving him on his errands. I’m happy that finally I’m able to honor him with this service.
While I was a pastor in Guatemala for 16 years, Matt. 15:5-6 befuddled me. You say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is “devoted to God,” they are not to “honor their father or mother” with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition NIV. That is what I was doing: I couldn’t help Dad and Mom with either money or service because I was serving God in Guatemala.
God brought me back to the States four years ago. I’m only an assistant pastor, so I’m freer now. God orchestrated everything so that I could honor my dad.
I ran into two soccer coach friends at Wednesday’s game. They command winning teams and winning salaries. They were winning players.
I have a winninger attitude. I’m the happier coach. I coach for free, and I’m seeing the fruits of my labor, most importantly kids drawn to Christ at a Westside Christian school.
So far we have lost every league game of Middle School soccer in CIF Pacific League Basin. Monday will see if we finally win one.
Despite the dismal outlook, I’m enjoying the positives:
- Our goalie, an adapted basketball player, won the opposing coach’s praise with “five first-rate saves.” “We thought we weren’t going to be able to score on you,” he said.
- We limited an A-team to four goals.
- My son scored a goal.
- My son juked four defenders to get to goal and almost scored an individual effort.
More important than game highlights are kid highlights:
- Kids are really enjoying soccer.
- One kid told me he used to not like soccer; now he really likes it.
- Beginners are scoring (at practice), and that’s a thrill for them.
- There’s such a good feeling of Christian good attitude and fun.
So I wouldn’t take the paid coaching position. The unpaid is better because the rewards outweigh financial compensation.
Posted in Christian education
Tagged Christian school, Christianity, co-ed, Coaching, Faith, Jesus, junior high, Los Angeles, middle school, Santa Monica, soccer, volunteer, Westside
We are warned. As sin goes exponential in the end times, it will wear away on the once-sincere love of many believers. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold — Matt. 24:12 NIV.
It would difficult to argue against the explosion of sin we have seen since the 1960s: drugs, free sex, redefining sin, massacres, crime waves in Latin America, terrorists worldwide. Standards are continually becoming looser. What was once the vilest subgenre (snuff movies) is now standard fare on cable TV (True Blood). What’s most disturbing is that nothing is disturbing any longer.
And Christian standards have slid. The line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior has been pushed back. I’m not point fingers though. I myself am susceptible. If anything, I am warning myself (and others) about the dangers of living in Sodom. Let’s not let our heart grow cold.
*I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it. If you own it, feel congratulated. It is genius. I found it on a design site.
Keeping his wits, Odysseus got the cyclops drunk, blinded him and escaped with his Ithacans from the cave where Polyphemus kept them to eat them. As he sailed away, he had only to rejoice after his brush with death.
With only a short journey home ahead, Odysseus then makes the biggest mistake of his life. He shouts at the Polyphemus and boasts: “It is I, Odysseus, who have blinded you.” For indulging his pride, he paid dearly.
Polyphemus’ dad was Poseidon, god of the seas. As long as Polyphemus didn’t know who blinded him, he had no one of asking his dad to exact revenge. But once he learned Odysseus’ name, Polyphemus could act. (This is the limitation of Greek gods.)
If you’re a sailor, you don’t want to get Poseidon mad. The god whipped up winds and storms. He drove Odysseus into one death trap after another. Ten years later, with all his men dead and all his ships lost, only Odysseus washes up on the shores of Ithaca.
It’s interesting that even pagan cultures echo the Bible: Pride goes before a fall. And yet, we Americans fail miserably to guard our tongue and heart from the dangers of pride. Strive for the virtue of humility.
Photo source: Actually I wasn’t swimming in the Adriatic Sea. I found this stunning picture somewhere on the Internet. I don’t own its rights, and I’m not making any $ on it. But if someone would pay for my ticket to go visit the Mediterranean, I’ll be more than happy to get my own picture of a beautiful boat. In the meantime, profound thanks to whoever took this one. You rock!
I admire exuberantly Moms who’ve also had to be Dad. But I don’t think we can glibly replace him. I would rather exhort dads to fill their God-ordained roles. My fear is that if we say Dads are NOT important, then they won’t feel important and will choose a life of sin instead of role-modeling and loving kids.
*I don’t own the rights to the original image, and I’m not making any money on it.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged dads, Faith, family, fathers, God, inspiration, Jesus, life, men, psychology, relationships
His blog is called “Unshakable Hope” – a striking contrast to what one might expect from an ALS patient of 18 years.
By far, Bill Sweeney, 54, has already outlived expectations for a normal patient afflicted with what’s otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a degenerative neural disorder that progresses until patients can’t breathe – usually within 3-5 years of diagnosis.
And though his paralysis keeps him cooped up at home, he never complains on his blog. To the contrary, he chides gently those who do rant – and his buoyant optimism would make anyone ashamed about sniveling over trivial inconveniences.
“One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from this long trial is that hope – and the joy, peace and faith that always accompany Christ-centered hope, only comes through a conscious, determined effort,” he writes on his blog through a painstakingly slow process that employs eye-tracking software to detect letter by letter what he wants to write on his computer.
“I’ve had my hope challenged many times, and I’ve become pretty good at conquering these challenges.” Read the rest of this Christian news article.
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. — Isaiah 26:3 NKJV.
The devil assails our minds with worry. Trusting in Jesus means having peace.
Photo source: Pinterest. I’m not making any money on it. I don’t own the rights to it.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged anxiety, Faith, God, hope, inspiration, Isa 23:3, Jesus, love, perfect peace, stress, thoughts
When they learned that 45 of their own were among the missing of the downed Indonesia AirAsia flight 8501, members of the Rose of Sharon Church of Surabaya, Indonesia, sprang into action.
They sent assistant pastors to console the grieving. They set up a care center of prayer and worship with food and beverages while family members awaited news of the fate of their loved ones. Trained counselors were on standby by shifts around the clock in the airport and in homes.
“When I witnessed how one bereaved family encouraged and prayed for another out of their initiative, I could say that I almost saw heaven in that situation,” Pastor Philip Mantofa, who pastors the 45,000 member church, told CharismaNews. “Particularly when the bodies of the their family members were found and they had to identify them, we couldn’t leave them to face these horrific situations alone.” Read the rest of the story.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged 45 Christians, AirAsia crash, fellowship, Heaven, Indonesia, Java Sea, Jesus, prayer, Rose of Sharon church, Surabaya, tragedy
With some friends in Guatemala. We all pass through episodes of life that would best be forgotten.
My mom had Alzheimer’s, so I don’t mean to make light of this scourge. I remember when she walked out the front door in her pajamas, and Dad drove around looking for her. He found her on a busy street.
What I mean by Holy Spirit Alzheimer’s is to forget what we must forgive, to heal the wounds in our hearts, to remember the good and forget the bad, to move on, to stay in relationship with people who have hurt us deeply. When God forgives, He forgets. Would we could do likewise.
I’m going to pray to forget hurts because remembering them converts them into hinders. They hinder me from serving Jesus fully. Holy Spirit, come and help me to forgive AND forget.
With the kids of my disciples.
From across the street, he called me. On the bus, she almost threw herself on top of me to give me a hug. A couple grew teary-eyed in the market when they saw me.
People everywhere were greeting me and thanking me. Four years ago, I ended abruptly a 16-year mission stint in Guatemala. On my New Year’s trip to Guatemala, old friends were popping up everywhere.
I’m no celebrity. But I did one thing: I served people tirelessly. I walked 10 miles to do Bible studies in their house. I handed out scholarships left and right for our school. I visited people in the hospital, in jail. I gave time and again.
Then the wonderful mission life came to an end. I returned to the States, where I serve in my mother church. I teach in the school, and I write this blog. Every once in a while, I get the chance to visit Guatemala again.
I can see that all the love, service and sacrifice were worth it. People have been impacted for Christ.
As with so many things in life, everything depends on your perspective.
“Commandments” illicits such negative reactions these days. Nobody wants anybody else telling them what to do. Well, on second thought, we DO want police and law to keep us safe from criminals and terrorists. But we don’t want God to exercise any such protection. We can handle morality on our own, we think.
So now it is time to rename the “Ten Commandments.” After all, we understand that if you misuse your new electronic device or car, you can suffer consequences. But on the other hand, if you use it correctly, it will be useful, work right and keep you happy.
So if you want a life that works right and keeps ya’ happy, follow the guidelines of the Manufacturer, which were formerly called the “Ten Commandments.” The blessings of obedience are within reach.
One girl sputtered out of the church. Her pastor/uncle treated her gruffly when she got pregnant out of wedlock. Twenty years later, she’s still out of the church.
Another girl, in her down and out moment, got friendship, love, acceptance, encouragement. Today she’s serving in the church, a huge blessing.
It’s good to uphold a high standard for the church. But we must never lose sight of mercy. Sometimes striking a balance is tough. If we err, let’s err on the side of mercy. That’s what God does.
When Mario and Banner first met these guys, the noticed how much their buddies acted like gang-bangers: trash talking, threatening, being disrespectful and boasting about alcohol and drug abuse.
Then Mario and Banner, skilled streetballers from the church, played soccer with them and shared their testimonies. Today these guys no longer hang with the downwardly-spiraling crowd. They haven’t exactly come to Jesus yet, but they ask questions, and their choices in pastimes are positive, not negative.
Soccer saves souls.
Actually one these guys never hung out with a rowdy group. He was shy, quiet, and mostly watched T.V. He didn’t even know how to play soccer. After Mario and Banner with done with, he became an expert.
I had the chance to play. We won, and we are winning.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged Christ, church, Faith, God, Guatemala, inspiration, Jesus, mission, outreach, positive, soccer
Relaxing with a leader on my recent visit.
… in order for 1,000 workers to rise up and do those jobs.
When I was the pioneer pastor of a church and school in Guatemala, I did everything.
I was intense. If I didn’t know how to direct worship, or something, I learned and did it competently. As members trickled it, it was hard to delegate. I was unwilling to relinquish ministry.
First God allowed my voice to unravel (somewhat) and forced me to seek a substitute (even if he sang out of tune).
Then He got rid of me altogether. Threat of kidnappers forced me to return to the States, and then EVERYTHING was handed off to others.
Jesus handed off ministry after 3 1/2 years. I took almost 16.
This is God’s pattern. The only way to raise up a future generation of leaders is by letting them lead.
So when will I ever learn?
I’ve been a Christian for so many years that I have to pull out a calculator. And I still can’t grasp the fundamentals. I’m a worrier, and my greatest fear (now) is that the church I left in Guatemala will collapse (because I am no longer there). This is ridiculous. It’s Christ’s church, not mine. He’s got this.
Any time some “bad” news gets to the U.S., the worrying kicks into high gear. Imagination goes to worst case scenarios. Just recently, the school I left behind had a “deficit.”
It turned out to be more of cash flow problem that one panicky leader reported to me — and so I guess I’m panicky too. But when I went to Guatemala, everything I saw and every person I talked to had only good things to report. That doesn’t mean there weren’t trials. It just means that my fears were unfounded.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you — 1 Pe. 5:7 NIV.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus — Phil. 4:7
Posted in Christianity
Tagged 1 Peter 5:7, cast your burdens, Faith, God, Guatemala, inspiration, Jesus, missionary, peace, Philippians 4:7, trust
Kata, left, with her sister-in-law, Karina.
Kata was the spiritual pillar of her household. The eldest of eight siblings, she came to Christ first. She prayed for each one to come to Christ. She counseled tirelessly. And then after encouraging so many others, she grew discouraged herself.
She was getting older and felt like she was losing her chances to get married. Lonely and dejected, she made a mistake.
Pregnant out of wedlock, she was basically shunned by her church and run off (not my church).
This all broke my heart. We all make mistakes. So I visited Kata. Her reception was wary. I spoke of her leadership in her family, of her past successes. I made no mention of her mistakes.
Today, Kata is back at serving Jesus. Compassion, not condemnation, is what she needed. All I had to do was take some time out of my schedule to show her she was important to Jesus. She was valuable.
Today, it’s Kata who keeps our church and school cleaner than the National Palace. Everyone praises her. I am overjoyed.
To whom can you show mercy today?
Translation: If the suit was too big for him, well, of course. = If the shoes were too big for him, well, of course.
Four years ago, I handed off ministry abruptly to Pastor Ludving: a main church, a couple of church plants and the huge task of administering a financially-struggling Christian school. Previously, Pastor Ludving had only pastored a small pioneer work.
Suddenly, he found himself thrust into a situation where he was promoted among colleagues who inevitably questioned and compared his every decision to what I would have done (I was their pastor for 16 years). Sometimes, he didn’t get a fair shot because people sometimes didn’t give him a chance for a learning curve.
Yet, there he is still. Four years later he has won over most everybody. He has refined his dealings with people. And he has managed to succeed in areas that I never did: The accounting is up to date, and the building is immaculately clean!
He’s “grown into the suit,” despite being much shorter than me.
My trip to Guatemala came to an end yesterday with a huge sense of gratitude to God for what He does. You may find joy in some other achievements in life, but I love serving God.
(Sorry about the Spanish title. I don’t mean to put anyone off. I used it because nothing in English corresponds precisely and because I thought it was a nifty pun, given the stature differential. I hope you can overlook it. 😀 )
It’s a beautiful gesture, but usually I ask bluntly: Why are you crying?
Jenny graduated from our Guatemalan school in November. And I just found out that she cried because I wasn’t there to celebrate it. I founded the school and opened the doors for her, and many other Guatemalans without a whole lot of money, to attend.
Finding out about the reason for her crying makes me want to cry. It melts my heart to see good produce good. It motivates me to keep on serving Jesus and people.
In 2007, Marcelino de Leon saw kids in the his neighborhood who didn’t sign up for first grade. Illiteracy is high in Guatemala, where people struggle to survive and have a hard time supporting their kids in education.
So Marcelino decided to teach them himself. Every Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 he taught nine kids first grade materials. When the next year came around four of those kids tested into second grade.
Nobody paid him for this. No one applauded. Marcelino didn’t get any awards. A professional teacher, Marcelino just wanted to help where he could. He lost track of those kids when he moved, but we expect them to find him one day and report on their success at college.
Marcelino helped us at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta. As always, it was voluntary, since we were/are strapped for money. We charge most students a minimal fee, and it doesn’t cover expenses.
I was so impressed by his willingness to pitch that I offered to teach him English. Extraordinarily, after I left Guatemala, he continued helping our school.
It’s people like Marcelino who inspire me. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds — Heb. 10:24. He came to visit me today. I’m wanting to do more for God.
Posted in teaching
Tagged Christianity, education, friendship, great teacher, Guatemala, illiteracy, inspiration, missions, motivation, poverty, Third World, volunteerism
Hernan and Hilda have been married for 59 years.
To go back and admit you were wrong is one of the hardest things to do. But to save your marriage, it’s worth it! Anything to save a marriage!
But if it can’t be saved, then don’t remain single and sad. It is not good that the man should be alone, God said of Adam and created Eve. If you have coursed the awful pain of a divorce, do things better next time.
But if you CAN restore your marriage, by all means do it.
God sent me to Guatemala on the mission of restoration. Only now do I realize it. I’m teaching on marriage. Not that I am such an expert. But my pastor, Rob Scribner of the Santa Monica Lighthouse Church, has taught me a lot of great tools to make marriage happy.
It’s funny: we work at our jobs, our studies, but we think that love should just be easy and require no work.
Little Ismael, one of Carlos’ kids.
a time to gather stones together — Eccelesiastes 3:5
The pieces of our lives get scattered. Either things explode by themselves, or we make poor choices and squander the good gifts God gave us.
When we are angry at God, He waits patiently for us. Sometimes, we have to be broken to come to God humbly. Then He begins to pick up the pieces of our lives.
God sent me to Guatemala on a mission that I didn’t originally know what for. But it was for restoration.
Carlos opted out of the church. He was hit with the double whammy of church rules and bubbling hormones. The hardness has melted now. His mother died a month ago. Elisa was a powerful force for years to help build the church. Carlos has finally taken over his dad’s bread bakery and is trying to be the responsible father of two kids and husband of one wife.
Carlos with Veronica and his children.
My heart melted as I hugged Carlos. He was one of my first converts. A boisterous 7-year-old, he brought his parents to our church and enrolled in our blossoming school. He’s been on a long journey away from God, and it’s so good to see him coming back.
It hurts my heart to see so many people, embittered by offenses, away from God. The joy is to see them come back.
In 2015, let God do a work of restoration in your life.
With my wife and the pastor in Guatemala.
They eat beans and tortillas six days a week, and on Sunday — their only day of chicken — they would give me the best piece. I felt as guilty as a convict but knew that I couldn’t refuse their hospitality.
I learned hospitality in Guatemala. In the United States, I learned self-sufficiency, every man for himself, get ahead of the other, only invite to eat if they invite you back.
When you’re in a house with dirt floor and sheet metal roof, it’s time to learn something new when people so poor give so richly. In the Bible, it is a great honor to receive strangers/guests into your house and provide them protection. The guests get treated even better than children.
When was the last time you invited someone to eat who stands no chance of paying you back? When have you given love to the unloveable? When have given to the point of forgoing once-weekly chicken yourself?
I am in Guatemala, delighting in its incomparable hospitality with the brethren of the church I founded.
With my spiritual son, Sam.
It’s no fun spiraling out of control. But it’s an understandable reaction after getting slammed in life.
At some point, you have to analyze and decide to get your life/family/career/ministry back on track.
Samuel was the greatest soul-saver we had. Better than me, and I was his pastor. Incredibly energetic, he worked tirelessly to build a church in zone 5. Then his wife left him for the keyboardist. And his life went down the drain for four years.
Now, Sam is getting back on track. He formalized by marrying the lady he was with. And we will be excited to see what God has for him ahead.
It’s inspiring me to get back on track with what God wants for my life.
This year, get your life back on track. Do what you REALLY want to do.
I got one assist. That’s kinda amazing because I’m 47 playing against teens.
I learned soccer while being a missionary when I was 35 years old, a late breakout into the sport. It’s not easy to outrun those kids but a lot of fun.
I’m visiting the church my wife and I founded in Guatemala. By playing soccer with the kids, I realize we have the seeds of revival. Even though not all these kids attend church, they come for soccer. They have a strong mental association with their school, a ministry of the church. When they get to a moment of desperation, they’ll know where to go to find God. They have a strong reference point of God.
Some of the kids come to church, which is extraordinary because kids don’t want to have anything to do with God, typically.
After playing for a couple of hours, I gave them all my testimony: raised in the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley in relative comfort but lonely and empty. Only Jesus filled my heart.
Posted in Christian education
Tagged Christian school, Christianity, church, colegio cristiano, Faith, God, Guatemala, Jesus, missionary, revival, sport
Sam, as the devil, in a drama in the early days of the church in Guatemala. I am the guy with the sword and the shield. We used diesel to spit fire.
Sam was a pastor when his wife left him. The joy of serving Christ just died for him at the moment he found out. He very nearly threw himself off a bridge that night.
Four years later, he’s gathering the pieces of his life and trying to get back to serving God.
At some point in your life, you’re going to get slammed. Maybe more than once.
Not growing bitter against God (family, church, life, others) is the challenge. Living with joy, also. Not growing cynical.
At some point, you have to survey the damage of your life and decide you want light-heartedness. You have to want to do good again. You have to want to not pass into the washouts.
Those who recovered from slams in the Bible: Joseph, Job, Moses. And don’t forget Jesus. One of his best friends betrayed him to death. They all recovered from the slam.
Seek recovery in 2015!