Category Archives: Christian

Move over, Jesus Freaks. Here come the Jesus Geeks.

code for the kingdomJust the mention of the word “hacker” evokes the image of the online netherworld, of spies surreptitiously downloading blueprints of the latest stealth fighter or shutting down power grids.

Now are there Christian hackers?

Apparently so. Since 2014, Code of the Kingdom has held 44 weekend “hackathons” worldwide for programmers to help non-profits. Around 100 technologists compete for $10,000 in prizes while tackling the ills of the world. They’ve launched an app to fight human exploitation and streamlined access to social services for the homeless.

christian coders“We write code and create technology to help release the oppressed, teach God’s Word, heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and support the church and the body of Christ,” their website declares.

Hackathons are nothing new; they gather topnotch coders to brainstorm solutions in marathon sessions that harness the collective nerd power of diverse professionals. What is different about Code for the Kingdom is the participants’ undergirding faith. Some 4,000 techies worldwide have participated so far.

christian hackathon“I wanted to be in a place where there’s a stronger connection between my work and my faith,” Kristen Stark told GeekWire. She’s an engineer at Midfin Systems in Redmond, California. “We love Jesus and other people and want to help them. Helping the users and offering them alternatives by showing that others care for their underlying needs is a very Christian approach to intervention.”

Their weekday jobs are for Amazon, Google, Microsoft and a slew of startups. Then on select weekends throughout the year, they gather in Seattle; Nashville; Cali, Columbia; Bangalore, India; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; London; Jakarta, Indonesia; Manila, Philippines; La Paz, Bolivia — in all 32 cities in 12 countries.

Finish reading the article on Jesus Geeks.

Son of Atheist Apostle Madalyn Murray O’Hair became Christian after suffering under her parental treatment

MMURRAYOHAIR

The way the secular media reported it, Madalyn Murray O’Hair – the famous atheist who got Bible reading kicked out of public schools – was a national hero after the Supreme Court ruled in her favor in 1963.

A year earlier, the Supreme Court prohibited government-sponsored prayer in schools. After O’Hair won her case, a 1964 Life magazine profile referred to her as “the most hated woman in America.”

But secularists went so far as to say the historic ruling placed the U.S. on the vanguard of a new morality with the “triumph of rationalism over superstition.”

madalyn-murray-ohair

Because she spouted a liberal agenda, reporters were willing to overlook murmurings about psychological abuse towards her children and her employees at the American Atheists organization.

When rumors surfaced of her skimming tens of thousands of dollars from her non-profit, investigative journalists turned their attention elsewhere. The latest gloss on the Madalyn mystique was applied last month in a Netflix movie which portrayed her as a doting mother and dedicated civil rights activist, her eldest son said.

William Murray III knew the real Madalyn, the churl who bullied her children and bragged to them when they were very young about watching X-rated movies. She was an ardent feminist who resented men, Bill says.

images“One of her favorite stories — I’ve heard her repeat it many times — is that when I was born and the doctor told her, ‘It’s a boy,’ she asked him if there wasn’t some way he could put it back,” Bill told People magazine.

She bit him, smashed his model airplane to pieces in a fit of rage, and ridiculed his attempts to play baseball. She kept a liquor closet full and the refrigerator stocked with fattening, unhealthy foods. She extolled the virtues of sexual liberty and wrote for Hustler magazine. She even tried to defect to the Soviet Union with her entire family and supported communist causes, Bill says.

As a middle school child in Baltimore, Bill became an unwitting pawn in her 1963 Supreme Court battle against school prayer. Madalyn sued the school district and rode a movement to strike down prayer and Bible reading.

indexWith a petulant eloquence, she tirelessly voiced the acrimonious atheism, and the media lapped up pretty much everything she served. “We find the Bible to be nauseating, historically inaccurate and replete with the ravings of madmen,” she said. “We find God to be sadistic, brutal and a representation of hatred.”

Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and Phil Donahue all hosted her on their evening TV programs. Madalyn reveled in the attention. Every misfit in the country wrote her letters of praise that included generous checks of her non-profit, American Atheists, Bill says.

“My mother was an evil person, not for removing prayer from America’s schools, no, she was just evil,” Bill wrote online in 2011. “She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents’ inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations.”

While Madalyn busied herself with “rhetoric, newsletters, fund-raising and publicity,” Bill grew increasingly disaffected. He eloped and divorced, was drafted in the military and worked for an airline. He left his daughter Robin under the care of his mother. His second marriage was unraveling and he had run-ins with the police.

william-j-murray1_0While he drifted through struggles and failures, he began to harbor doubts about the atheist manifesto. Why was his mother spending the non-profit’s money on a new Cadillac and mobile home? Why would she sue to keep NASA from airing Astronaut Buzz Aldrin taking communion on the moon? Why not instead spend on new X-ray machine for a hospital? If atheism was the savior of modernity, why did it focus mostly on the antagonistic roll of shutting down others? Why not do something in favor of humanity?

“I started to think it was because my mother was basically negative and destructive,” he said.

Bill turned increasingly to alcohol to quash his anxieties and misgivings.

Once when police arrived after he had a dispute with his wife, he accidentally fired a rifle through the door. Bill was charged with aggravated assault and sentenced to five years probation.

It was, perhaps, the nadir of his life.

The incident served as wake up call. Read the rest about Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s Christian son.

Fonda’s conversion not exactly like Paul of Taursus

jane fonda early yearsLong before her political activism and Oscar-winning acting, Jane Fonda felt she was being pulled toward God.

“I had begun to feel I was being led. I felt a presence, a reverence humming within me. It was and is difficult to articulate,” Fonda says on her website. “Today I think I know what was happening: I was becoming embodied, whole. I had spent 60 years dis-embodied, trying to be perfect so I could be loved. You can’t be whole if you’re trying to be perfect.”

If she was drawing close to God, there were also psychological forces inside her heart that would flout the mainstream. She was, after all, “Hanoi Jane,” a starlet who risked her career by touring North Vietnam to denounce the “atrocities of the Vietnam war against the peace-loving communists.” She even posed for a picture seated on top of an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down her fellow Americans, enraging many in the U.S.

jane fondaBorn “Jayne Seymour Fonda” to actor Henry Fonda in New York City in 1937, Fonda got her start with a Broadway debut in 1960 in the play There was a Little Girl, for which she received a Tony nomination. She hit fame in the ’60s with the films Period of Adjustment, Sunday in New York, and Cat Ballou, among others.

Ulimately, she won two Academy Awards, two Oscars for best actress and two BAFTA Awards. She cycled through marraiges: director Roger Vadim (1965-73), leftist politician Tom Hayden (1973-90) and media mogul Ted Turner (1991-2001).

Fonda quickly gained notoriety as a rabble rouser, throwing herself into the midst of the 60s counterculture, with her opposition to the Vietnam war, support for the Black Panthers and backing of Native American causes. She became a strong voice for feminist concerns, and in 2005, she co-founded with Gloria Steinem the Women’s Media Center to advocate equal rights for women.

TBS' "A Century of Women" New York City PremiereAside from her work on the The China Syndrome and On Golden Pond, Fonda is also known for her workout videos, which were #1 hits and helped boost the fitness craze among baby boomers.

But while she won accolades and enjoyed the trappings of success, Fonda found true happiness elusive. The actress said that coincidences are what led her to where she is today, and are what created that feeling of always being led by something greater than herself.

Author Abalo Kossi quotes Fonda in the book In Lumine Tuo: Why Believe in God? “What happened to me was, and I remember exactly where I was on the day: I mean, I was really in pain, and I said out loud – I was by myself: ‘If God wants me to suffer like this, there must be a reason.’

“I did a double take. I thought, ‘Where is that coming from?’ And from that time forward, I became aware of, I call them coincidences. I just became very aware that the absolute right person would come into my life at the moment that I needed to know something. The exact right book would come into my hands. Oftentimes by people I didn’t know. They were like sign posts! And I thought, ‘Has this been going on all along and I just didn’t notice?’

“And along about that time, I heard Bill Moyers say, ‘Coincidences are God’s way of manifesting,’ and that lodged in me. That just really struck me and about that same time, I met Ted Turner and moved to Georgia, Atlanta.”

jane fonda work out videoShe had divorced leftist Tom Hayden in 1990, and the following year married
Turner, the founder of CNN. It shocked many when she married the swashbuckling entrepreneur, who often acted crudely and was known as “the Mouth of the South.” He was known to verbally attack Christians and once said, “Christianity is a religion for losers.”

But living in the South with Turner, she encountered many believers. “Now, I had never lived in an environment where people went to church regularly and had a living faith. And I was, utterly fascinated because they were smart people, President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, and Ambassador Andrew Young and many others who were friends with Ted and people of deep faith. And I was married to Ted, a professed atheist, for ten years and for eight of those years, I spent a lot of time listening and talking and asking questions of these people.”

The actress said the connections she made with these people contributed to that constant feeling of being led. “It was a somatic feeling that I was being beckoned, and I often felt that there was a light drawing me. And I’m not a woo-woo kind of person! I’m not a New Age person. I grew up in the fifties. But it was a very powerful feeling.” She said. “I felt my emptiness being filled up with reverence.”

Several Christian friends in Atlanta were among those involved in Fonda’s journey toward Christ. These are said to include Ginny Millner, wife of Georgia Republican leader Guy Millner, and Nancy McGuirk, whose husband is an executive in Turner Broadcasting, according to the Washington Times.

But the key figure in Jane Fonda’s spiritual search was her black chauffeur. When Ted Turner became upset when she started attending Atlanta’s fashionable Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Fonda asked her driver if he could recommend a church.

The chauffeur invited her to attend his place of worship, the predominantly black Providence Missionary Baptist Church. In 2000, she began attending the church and earnestly studying the Bible. During this time she read the book of John, which she said left her experiencing grace.

When the Hollywood-shattering news broke that she was “born-again,” it was touted as another “Paul of Tarsus conversion.”

But if Paul defined orthodoxy, Fonda defied it. Find out why?

‘Full House’ star Candace Cameron-Bure found Jesus

candace cameronBy Hasset Anteneh

Taking the role of D.J. Tanner on the mega hit Full House TV series in 1987 set the stage for a successful acting and writing career for Candace Cameron-Bure.

She’s not shy to talk about her faith, just like her brother, Kirk Cameron, who went from child star to evangelist.

“My faith is my basis of who I am. Not only does it affect the choices I make career-wise, but it also affects the things that I want to do,” Bure told The Blaze. She is married to former Russian NHL hockey player Valeri Bore with whom she’s had three children.

candace cameron and husbandBure said her family had never discussed religion, until they were invited to church by a friend, and started actively attending church when she was 12.

“When I was growing up, my family wasn’t Christian,” she said on her website. “We didn’t talk about God and I didn’t know anything about him. When I was 12 years old, my parents told us we were going to church; a friend had invited us. It was strange to me, and I giggled at the thought of God. But as we continued to go every Sunday, my heart felt warm, and I saw how happy my mom, brother and sister were. I decided that I wanted to feel the same way. It was Jesus Christ that was producing this change in them, so one Sunday morning, I asked Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior. I was baptized along with some of my family at a later service. I was extremely excited about what I thought was my new Christian life.”

full house candace cameronHowever, it wasn’t until her 20s that the word of God began to truly resonate with her. Her brother, Growing Pains actor Kirk, gave her a book, Ray Comfort’s The Way of the Master, and it was then, she said, that Christianity truly began to make sense.

“After reading a book my brother gave to me, now called The Way of the Master it changed my walk with God forever! It talked about the 10 commandments, and showed me my sin in it’s true light. You see, when I prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ that day in church when I was 12, I asked God to forgive my sins. But I didn’t even know what my sin was. But, the law showed me my sin.

candace cameron jesus saves“As I went through every commandment, I saw that I’d broken all of them. Then I learned that God was going to judge me by this standard, not the world’s standard. So, while I thought I was a good person compared to other people, I saw that I was a horribly bad person by God’s standard. It was then that I truly recognized and understood my sin and what Jesus did for me. I broke the Law, and Jesus paid my fine,” the actress said.

To read the rest about Candace Cameron Christian click here.

Hasset Anteneh is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy on the westside of Los Angeles.

To win, you must surrender

Appomattox Marks 150th Anniversary Of Surrender Of Lee's Army In Civil War

People resist the Bible because they can’t get the paradoxes. They feel like God is going to rip them off, that He’s a tyrant, a killjoy, a cruel taskmaster whose greatest delight is to snoop for mistakes and send lightning bolts — or pestilence, famine and bad luck.

If you don’t have a mind prepared to understand paradoxes, you’ll have a tough time. You’ll be snapping at God about “catches” and raw deals.

One of the great paradoxes is that we are in warfare. But the irony is that the way to WIN is to LOSE. When we surrender to God, we obtain victory on other fronts. When we fight against God, we lose on other fronts.

Save

I killed myself at the gym today, so…

killing yourself at the gym…I wasn’t surprised when the homicide detectives showed up at my door later.

Ok, this picture is not me. I’m more of a (bad) punster than a muscle man. Actually, I’m the pencil-necked kind of guy with spindly arms and legs.

But I enjoy going to the gym. I have lofty, unattainable goals. In the striving, at least I’m staying healthy. And a healthy body is will be useful for the Lord’s service longer than a sick or frail one. I like the gym almost as much as the church; both are focused on goodness, healthiness and improvement.

More than just a winning streak at Santa Monica Christian school

Saints soccer santa monicaThe significance of this article is for Christians. Previously, the high school I work at (Lighthouse Christian Academy) formed its soccer teams haphazardly, as an afterthought among too many things to do. The new winning streak represents years of effort to actually build the program. This will attract students to our school and, consequently, to Christ.

With back-to-back victories, the Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer team has found its feet to rewrite recent history of missing playoffs.

Without normal forward Will Clancy, the Saints subbed Abraham Morales into the striker position, and the new LCA student rewarded coach’s confidence with two goals, to bring the 4-2 victory over Westmark School in Encino yesterday.

“I never pictured myself making a goal, let alone two,” the sophomore said coyly. “But after I made the first one I was determined to make the second.”

Morales was deadly on the left, scoring his brace within the first 20 minutes.

Lighthouse Christian AcademyWestmark scored next with some brilliant passing between two Lions stars. With the ball at the goal line on the left, one player found unmarked in the box his counterpart, who didn’t bungle the shot. It was 2-1.

In the second half, Turk Erhan Meric, a fleet-footed sophomore, ran up the right on a through ball from midfielder Colby Thomas to get behind the Lion’s defense and shoot powerfully home.

Again Westmark sent the ball to a player in the area, and he punctured the net. It was 3-2.

With the minutes ticking away, Lighthouse kept pressing to bury the match. Senior Shane Berry launched a throw-in into the area on the narrow field, and a Lions defender trying to clear the ball also controlled it with his hand.

Erhan Meric, a magician with the ball.

On the resulting penalty, Senior Adrian Brizuela, a powerhouse in the Saints midfield, blasted the ball past the goalie to remove the match from reach of the Lions. It finished at 4-2.

Coach Jack Mefford, who is also Lighthouse’s principal, credited the Saints’ progress with the time players have worked together. With a number of new students coming from schools other than its feeder middle school (Lighthouse Church School), the teammates needed to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“They are working together. Especially this game, we just began to gel,” Mefford said. “They’re starting to know each other play with each other better. We’re growing in confidence.”

Tuesday’s victory came on the heels of a win Monday, improving LCA’s record to 4-1-3. The Saints are beginning to feel the excitement of possibly getting a playoff birth for the first time anyone can remember.

Abraham Morales was deadly in front of goal.

Abraham Morales was deadly in front of goal.

On Monday, Lighthouse beat 2-1 Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences from Santa Clarita for the second time. The Penmar Park game put on exhibition the Saint’s powerful defensive line, which has speed, technique and physicality.

Senior Tex Hagoski, at stopper, made crucial saves and passes despite playing with an injured foot. Since his preferred sport is football, he brings a fearlessness and muscle that will intimidate some forwards. Don’t underestimate his speed.

At sweeper, Abraham Kennedy has been a potent defender. Big and strong with a lifetime of soccer experience, Kennedy, a sophomore, doesn’t win balls by hand-crafting them. By mass production, he foils opponents’ attacks.

On Friday in the away game against Einstein, Kennedy led the charge to overturn a 0-2 deficit with a stunning rocket from 40 yards. After seeing the shocker, the Saints seemed moved to believe they could beat their opponents and rallied to finish 3-2.

There’s no surprise the sophomore Alex Cervantes, given his soccer pedigree, holds the left back position impeccably. What surprises is how well senior Shane Berry contains on the right. He’s not really a soccer player. His game is basketball. But his quickness and the similarities between basketball and soccer have helped him adapt.

LCA goals were produced by Brizuela and Meric, locked in a friendly competition to see who scores more by season’s end. They are tied at six goals each. Einstein got a late consolation when refs awarded a penalty kick for a foul in the box.

Also last week, the Saints came from behind to tie Newbury Park Adventist Academy.

With the newfound momentum, the Saints face Concordia in Sylmar Friday, their penultimate season game.

*Photo: Adrian Brizuela goes for goal against Westmark yesterday. Credit: Jamie Roman, who is a sophomore at the Lighthouse Christian Academy. Jamie wrote this article for the Santa Monica Patch here, and I edited it. I always re-post my students’ articles on my blog since I’m heavily involved in the final product.

Maybe procrastination is not all bad

Christian school Santa MonicaWill Clancy was annoyed with Lighthouse at first. They kept talking about Jesus in every subject. From the second grade onward, he had been taught evolution, so he had long ago lost what little faith he might have had belonging to a family that went to Catholic church once in a while.

But while Lighthouse initially peeved him, he also perceived something different in the teachers and fellow students that ultimately brought him to faith and salvation.

“Everybody was happier. It was a closer community,” said Will, 16, an LCA junior. “I thought that was nice. I wonder why everybody was like that. Pastor Rob would always preach that the reason why people were so happy is that they had the joy of Jesus in them.”

Will accepted Jesus in a Harvester’s Homecoming, a Fall Bible conference in which pioneer pastors come back to their launching pad, the Lighthouse Church, to get fired-up about Jesus again. His mom required him to go to church.

One of the breaking points was talking to other youth at the Tucson Bible conference in June. “They were telling me all this stuff about how God was impacting their lives,” Will said. “For some reason, that broke through to me.”

Will enrolled in Lighthouse Church School 2012 in eighth grade. He is now a junior at Lighthouse Christian Academy along with his brother, Chris, a senior. His mom, Lisa Clancy, teaches Classical Literature to the freshmen and works as a counselor for the student body.

When he enrolled in Lighthouse, Will actually regretted it because his brother, Chris, got into Saint Monica’s Catholic School in Santa Monica. “I didn’t get my application in on time. I took too long,” he said. “But now I’d like to thank my procrastination for getting to where I am today.” Click here for the rest of the article.

Narrow escapes

narrow escape

I’ve been in dangers. I’ve brushed with death. The greatest danger is hellfire. I thank God He pulled me out of lostness and into salvation. What would have happened to me, had it not been for God?

They make a great mistaken when they say we think we’re better than anyone else. No, Christians are not better. They are just better off. We are better off because:

  • we recognize our sinful condition.
  • we ask for and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • we throw ourselves into the loving arms of the Eternal Father.
  • we are blessed on Earth on our journey to Heaven.

Don’t fall prey to the enemy of your soul.

Original picture from Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.

Can we just stop hurting people who come to church to heal their hurts?

I don't own the rights to this image. I got it from http://mafietta.com. I'm not making money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this image. I got it from http://mafietta.com. I’m not making money on it.

All over the blogosphere, and talking to people outside of church, I find people who have been hurt in the very place where they should’ve been helped.

Yikes!

Honestly, we look more like the Pharisees than Jesus, who ate with tax-collectors and stopped stone-throwing at prostitutes. Of course, the Bible points to a moral standard that must be upheld by the church, but many times it’s simply a pastor’s ego, a leader’s power trip, that offends.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea — Matt. 18:6 NIV.

I haven’t left the church. I wish and pray to see the church changed.

Richard Wurmbrand tells of being tortured for Christ

imagesOut of 14 years in jail under the Communists in Romania, I spent three years alone in a cell 30 feet below ground, never seeing sun, moon or stars, flowers or snow, never seeing another man except for the guards and interrogators who beat and tortured me.

I seldom heard a noise in that prison. The guards had felt-soled shoes, and I did not hear their approach.

images-1I had no Bible, or any other books. I had no paper on which to write my thoughts. The only things we were expected to write were statements accusing ourselves and others.

During that time I rarely slept at night. I slept in the daytime. Every night I passed the hours in spiritual exercises and prayer. Every night I composed a sermon and delivered it (to myself).

I had a faint hope that one day I might be released…

images-2To be in a solitary cell under the Communists or the Nazis is to reach the peak of suffering. The reactions of Christians who pas through such trials are something apart from everything else.

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Blogger’s Note: I stumbled across this book With God in Solitary Confinement, with the most unattractive cover, and discovered a gem we need to remember. God’s servants are suffering greatly around the world. They are an inspiration for us to live more whole-heartedly for the Lord. He died in 2001.

It’s pouring out!

Thanks Deviant Art for the stunning photo!

Your life is being poured out.

On what? Paul poured his life out for others… for something of eternal value. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you — Phil. 2:17 NIV.

Today many are pouring their lives out on the pursuit of material goods. Others on the pursuit of health. For partying. For sport. For pleasure. For enjoyment. Lives are constantly being poured out.

Each man chooses to pour out his life on what he esteems most valuable. The number of days are finite. Through improved health, we may extend our lives. Even so, it will eventually end. When you are done, what will your life have been poured out on?

Will it be something worthwhile? Nobody wants to think about the last drop. But wisdom is to think about it before we get there.

A wimpy gifting

Pastor Charles was talking about how each Christian has at least one gift from God, and how we all need to use our gift to help out in the church. As I was listening to the sermon, I realized I must have the gift of criticizing.

The church really needs someone to whip everyone into shape, so immediately after the service I marched off to let Sister Winnie know that as the cleaning lady for the church, she was doing a very poor job. I pointed out a certain area that she had left dusty and disorganized from Saturday.

She broke out in tears, but no matter. I went off quickly to tell Elder Eli that his Sunday School teaching was particularly boring and that he ought to add more jokes into it. I turned my back on him eager to continue using my gifting from God. I found Walter and told him his tie did not go with his pants. Timothy was right there listening, so I finally told him that the way he laughs annoys a lot of people in church, and that he should learn how to laugh like a normal human being.

He turned red with anger, but, hey, the truth hurts, right? I was looking for Sister Martha to tell her to stop judging others when my dad caught up with me and pulled me out to the car by my arm. He gave a big lecture about not hurting people’s feelings. But I told him that I was just exercising my gifting. He was pretty mad at me.

So, here I am, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Boy, just when you try to do something right, everyone doesn’t know how to appreciate you. Here’s what I say: A prophet is not without honor except in his own household.

Impact God

Aphrodite doted on Paris for his beauty. Zeus loved Hector for his courage. God is a glaring contrast to the chaos of the Greek pantheon. When He declares Himself “holy,” He is saying He is different. “I am NOT similar to false gods.”

So what does God like? He likes FAITH. From Abraham to Daniel, He gets excited about people who believe Him. The problem with the Israelites in the desert was NOT their whining so much as their lack of faith.

You won’t hardly find Jesus marveling over someone’s personal uprightness. Nor their “sound interpretation of scripture.” Nor their “acts of righteousness.” Over and over, Jesus admires just one thing: faith.

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. — Matt. 8:10 NIV.

Publicists teach how in marketing to impact. But what impacts God? Stand-out faith. He is drawn to it. He searches for it. He responds to it. He gets disgusted when He can’t find it.

In the verse above, a Roman gentile — despised by the Jews — garners the open admiration of the Jews’ Jew, Jesus. The gentile — supposedly an outsider to the business of God — earns higher marks than the insider, simply because of faith.

It’s easy to NOT believe. When you pray for finances for your ministry, stir yourself to stand-out faith.

Whadda we need missions for anyway??

I don’t see why we have to do missions. I mean, isn’t God in control of everything anyway? So He can take care of giving those people the gospel. I’ve learned He’s sovereign. That’s a big fancy word which means He does whatever He wants and nobody can stop him.

And while I’m wondering, why do we have to evangelize? People can see a Bible any time they want to. Even if they don’t have one at home, when they go to a hotel, they can always find a copy in the drawer. So it’s their problem if they don’t read it.

Our church just sent Pablo and Frieda to the foreign field, and I’m pretty sore. I’m going to miss them. Pablo was a young adult that I really liked, a cool guy who led youth group. He would always talk to me and be friendly. Who cares about the foreigners who don’t have Jesus? That’s their problem. This is not to mention all the money that will be spent over there. It’s a waste.

From a literature fanatic’s perspective

I loathe bad books. I drop them if the first paragraph is bad. On the other hand, I can re-read a good book seven times. I ponder it, extract its life’s lessons and determine to be a better person. I marvel at ambiguity, subtlety and irony, not infantile didacticism.

My 10th grade lit class just finished Heart of Darkness. The poor kids struggled through, but by the end, the light went on, and I hope they are better persons for it. The other grade read Ender’s Game, an easy book but also with some powerful truths. So far this year, the kids have studied Romeo & Juliet and Homer.

But there is one book whose literature remains unequaled. If Shakespeare is the uncontested king of English literature, this book is the universal emperor. It is the Bible.

You can re-read it all your life, and it will never lack depth. It will never cease to spout truths about human nature. It doesn’t gloss heroes’ despicable lapses. It belongs to the realism genre. It belongs to most every genre. Every classical author alludes to it, detractors feel the need to discredit it — and that’s not bad because on-going research eventually answers their criticism and shores up its validity. Attacking the Bible is flattery.

The worst thing you could do is ignore it.

Repressive regimes ban it. We have a free society (thank God!). We can freely read it without the government looking over our shoulder. While others long to pry open its pages, we leave — it would seem — long to conform to repression. We leave them shut.

In addition to  holding keys to wisdom, this book also holds the key to eternal life. Thank you for reading my blog! Won’t you take a moment to read God’s blog (the Bible)?

The darker it gets, the clearer the Light becomes

Today I’m filled with buoyancy. The Gospel is now going to advance more than ever because apparently it is receding.

Our nation is becoming darker. Every day, there is more sin: the murder of babies, sexual sin, legalization of drug use, etc. But instead of bemoaning this “decline,” I rejoice. The

What’s the message of this pot? People need this message!

deeper into sin people get, the more desperate they become for answer to the anguish of their souls.

So, let us Christians pray and not whine. Let us outreach. Let us purify our message, eliminating hate. Let’s show love to homosexuals; after all, they are just sinners like the rest of us, not any worse than me and just as needy. Let’s stop being Pharisees condemning to Hell a world crying out for God’s love. Let’s stop trying to legislate morality and show people a better path with our testimonies.

We are on the brink of great revival. Do not blog doom and gloom. Bend your knees and pray. Go on outreach. Hug a sinner. Invite him to coffee. Talk to him and show him he’s a human being.

The ‘screwed generation’

Millennials

That’s what Newsweek called millennials in July. It’s makes me sick.

The premise is all wrong.  Millennials — the latest generation — are NOT going to achieve the home or lifestyle of their parents. For the first time since WW2, a shrinking middle classmeans kids won’t exceed

Hey! Wipe that smile off your face! Newsweek says you can’t be happy!

previous generations in material wealth.

So they’re screwed, Newsweek says. As if money were the key to happiness.

Why does no one question the premise??? Money is NOT the key to happiness. We can be happier than

That’s much better! Cry for less money!

our parents with less money. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.

The artist is happy, though nearly starving, because she does what she loves. The humble blogger is happy, though not a famous author, because he does what he loves. Happiness derives from family, from marriage, from a

Ok, seriously, go ahead and enjoy life.

satisfying usefulness in life, from a passion pursued. But the media hammers incessantly that bucks bring joy. There have been millions of miserable millionaires.

Do what you love and don’t buy the line that you should be unhappy just because you have less. It’s baloney!

The Master said: Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions — Luke 12:15 NIV.

Within reach

After years of excessive fasting and heroic service to humanity, Gandhi agonized over his “fleshliness.” Achieving nirvana is virtually unattainable in Hinduism.

In Islam, you can never know if you have pleased Allah enough to make paradise. In Buddhism, you have to approximate monasticism.

And by contrast, in Christianity, God plops the answer right down in your lap. That’s because we are made holy not by anything we do but rather by what Christ do on the cross for us. This does not mean we flout righteousness. It only means that God has built over the chasm separating humanity from the Divine.

So answers to prayer do not require accompanying works of righteousness. You don’t need burn candles or crawl on your knees painfully over the cement plaza. You don’t need “vain repetitions” that “pagan use because they think that only that way can they be heard” (Matt. 6:7). You may fast while praying but should not think you won’t be heard if you only pray and don’t fast.

All you need is faith.

If an answer to prayer does not come immediately, assume that God is working patience in you. Do NOT assume you have to perform “works of righteousness” to turn God’s frown into a smile.

In Christianity when you pray, the answer is within reach — unlike any other religion. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE that you have received it, and it will be yours. — Mark 11:24 NIV (caps mine).

Bomb them or evangelize them

When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them — Luke 9:54-55 NIV.

A sharp contrast separates his disciples from Jesus — and that chasm remains today. While the “disciples” want to send bombs off to wipe out entire cities, Jesus proposes forgiveness and evangelization.

America has some Christian foundations, but all we can muster is war against Middle Eastern nations. We have no love to give. Let’s not expect anything good to come from the continuation of the Crusades. Until we share the gospel with these peoples, the hostilities will continue, and we won’t be able to expect safety at home any more.

Stop condemning others. Give them love. Someone said recently that America now spends yearly as much on mascot Halloween costumes as it does on missions. But the budget for military attacks is unlimited. Why do we do this? Because it’s easier to bomb peoples and just wash our hands of them.

In reality, I’m not taking a stand for or against military defense. I AM taking a stand against negligence on the behalf of Christians to pray and send missions. If we have no gospel to give, then we are left only with bombs. Jesus was willing to go to the cross for people’s salvation. What are we willing to do to spread the gospel? Because we are unwilling, we prefer to laud the use of bombs.

Don’t expect the expected

No joke! This is what it’s like.

For over a year, we didn’t have a car. As missionaries in Guatemala, that meant we took either the bus (dangerous) or the taxi (expensive).

I kept thinking that eventually God would touch some gringo‘s heart, and s/he would get us some new wheels (I cracked the block by driving my old car into undrained water on the highway during a tropical storm). Waiting for some gringo to step up seemed logical: I was connected to ministers in the States; they have money.

It wasn’t new, and it didn’t come wrapped up like this.

I kept praying. I believed God. I imagined how the answer would come.

But it didn’t come the way I imagined. It was not a gringo, but a Guatemalan (and a poor one!), who gave me his car. This shock taught me that God dredges up resources from the most unexpected places.

From the least expected place. God brought water — out of a rock.

When it comes to God, I won’t say, “Expect the unexpected” (because that is cliché). Instead, I will say, “When it comes to God, don’t expect the expected.” He’s always got a new trick up His sleeve.

The Fiat from the Dark Ages was no luxury car, but it got us around. Steven Fernandez, the gringo pastor who took over in my absence, is now driving it. Hope you like it, Pastor Steve!

Wimpy blog: Jesus is coming soon! Quick, everybody look busy!

Boy, the sermon Sunday really shook me up! It was about Jesus’ imminent return. Am I ready? Will I be left behind?

It scared me to the core. I’d better get right with some things and get busy. It reminded me of the movie, “2012.” I guess the Mayans knew something about this stuff. The special effects were pretty terrific. That movie made me think a lot. But then I kind of forgot about it and went back to my old ways.

I guess I mess up a lot, but I really don’t want to get left behind in Jesus’ return. I mean, the guys who want to serve Jesus after the rapture will have to be beheaded. If people are hostile towards Christians now, how much more so when the Holy Spirit is removed from Earth?

So this brings to the basic question I have as a wimpy Christian: How much sin can I get away with and still go in the rapture?

Carrying the Ark of the Covenant

Photo thanks to Still Small Voices

You didn’t carry the Ark of the Covenant in your backpack. Made of pure gold, it was too heavy. A symbol of the presence of God, the Ark had to be carried by a group of men.

So it is today. The presence of God is carried by a group of people, the assembling of a people in plural. But today, there are too many Christians who want to carry God’s presence all alone. Wrongly extrapolating our individual salvation, they have separated and isolated themselves from other imperfect people — and they think they are right to do so. But the Ark of the Covenant was carried by various — not just one.

In spite of all its imperfections, the church continues to be God’s institution, a manifestation of His presence. Yes, you can be saved and NOT go to church, but you’re missing out on support, mutual encouragement, others’ giftings — and a better life. Drop the church-bashing. Something powerful happens when we worship God while belonging to a body of believers.

Marriage retreat? Marriage advance!

22 years of marriage in October

My church just held a marriage “retreat” in Pismo Beach. But too many are “retreating” from marriage. Seventy-five percent of couples in California end in divorce. The toll on kids has been staggering.

Dianna supported me through 16 years of sacrifice as missionaries in Guatemala. In the photo, she is with our daughter, Rebekah

It’s really worthwhile to work on your marriage. In my case, I can see comedy in it. On the one hand, the setting is romantic and the talks are inspiring. On the other hand, the wives feel incredibly empowered and tend to let their husbands hear all the way home all the areas he’s been messing up!

So I am happy! I have three areas to work on, and it is a blessing to commit to change, being considerate of your spouse, treating her with love and tenderness. Marriage can get mechanical. It should be passionate. Any ape can caste aside his partner looking for greener pastures. It requires a true man to listen to his wife and let her be right (sometimes).

We ate at the Splash Fish Shack. Mmmm! She likes clam chowder in a bread bowl. It’s the little things in life that kindle romance!

Hope this inspires some guys: I am going to answer my wife’s questions even when she asks me the same thing over and over again. I’m going to be positive first, not start with criticisms. I’m going to make salads for her. Sorry for disclosing my privacy, but maybe it will inspire some dude to treat his wife more considerately (I think generally that is hard for men).

I just got a comment on my post from a lady who “lost the faith” after her Christian husband was repeatedly unfaithful to her. This haunted me. Men, let’s rise up and be the men of God we are called to be! Let’s not go this route!

The “retreat” is from the rat race. Let’s hope our (Christian) marriages advance!