Category Archives: Christianity

Gather in the light

the gathering darkness

Gather in the souls. Each soul is a light to burn brightly for Christ, the Chief and Source of Light. Fret not about the thickening darkness. No matter how tiny your light, no matter how overwhelming the darkness appears to grow, your light will be seen. Don’t run away from the world and hide like hermits. To the contrary, get out more and more into the world and let your light shine.

The easier it gets to get into sin, the more desperate people will become. The more desperate they become, the more they will want Christ. We Christians will be there to rescue them.

Driven to your knees

driven to your kneesPerfect. Then you are ready to pray.

As the world grows darker, rejoice

this gathering darknessSin is flaunted, parading, justified on every side, but we don’t circle the wagons. Because the darker it gets, the brighter the light shines. Be of good cheer, my brothers and sisters, and shine on for Jesus!

Keep calm and keep shining.

Starbucks is doomed. How can they survive this?

25 cents cup of coffee

A 25 cent cup of coffee in Gardiner. Once this spreads like wildfire, how will Starbucks survive the cutthroat competition?

Who will pay $5 a coffee when they’re offering the cup at 25 cents? LOL.

My car broke down in Yellowstone, so we are stranded in a little town I had never heard of: Gardiner. We’ll be here for a while, so our vacation destination has changed from the glorious, transcendent Mt. Rushmore to the quaint and picturesque Gardiner.

And look what I’ve already discovered! Coffee at 25 cents a cup. Beat that, Santa Monica!

I don’t know yet just how good the java is, but considering I’ve been drinking hotel coffee and instant coffee at our campsite, maybe it won’t be bad. (Actually I’m not the keenest coffee connoisseur. I recently bought a water filter to improve my home brew and could discern no difference from the the chlorine saturated version.)

Having owned my shortcomings, I wish to observe that we (Americans) squander great gobs of money on dubious needs. Meanwhile the call of the gospel languishes under-financed.

Your best chance for peace in the world: earbuds and loneliness

peace | earbuds and loneliness


Good luck — if you wish to find peace in the world.

True peace can be found in God.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:24.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:7

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. — Isaiah 26:3

This would be easier if it were Minecraft

… and other words of wisdom from my 13-year-old son.

pulling out the trunk

The trunk on the curbside.

We were helping my brother pull out a stump from his garden. It was an eyesore that annoyed the neighbors in Idaho Falls. While Don is recovering from a ski accident and his wife, Barbra, gets back pains struggling with weight, their son young son Mark was day by day trying to dig it out. He worked hard, but he didn’t have any help. And he was little.

So I showed up with my 17-year-old and my 13-year-old son. We made pretty short work of it. We dug under it. We axed the roots. Then we pried it out and rolled it to the curb. Next we helped Barbra plant some flowers, shoveled in the dirt and watered.

The team did the job. Hosea, my younger son, was impressed by the amount of work involved.

the flower patch

The finished product, the flower patch.

“This would be easier if it were Minecraft,” he observed. This is prepubescent wisdom at its finest.

It seems strange to me that Minecraft is popular because it is a throwback, a low definition graphics game. In any case, kids either build things or strike out on adventures. I’m not sure why it’s so popular. But yeah, pulling out a trunk on Minecraft is pretty much easier than in real life.

As a matter of fact, pretty much everything on video games is easier than in real life. Take marriage for example. Making it work is no easy thing. Personally, I pray and work at it. People seem to think they shouldn’t have to work at it, that it should work all by itself.

Removing rooted sins from your life is also a bunch of work. Pulling out that tree trunk made me think about how difficult it can be get a bad habit out (like smoking, or maybe anger).

Yeah, Minecraft’s definitely easier. But life is real. And I don’t want to live in a fantasy world. I want to live and find happiness and success in the real world. So I do hard work.

Fund me, please

Mike Ashcraft | Guatemala

I’m visiting my brother in Idaho Falls

Hey hey! to all my loyal followers. This blog has been a spot for inspiration, for gently challenging atheists, for encouraging Christians. I’ve brought you tales from all over the globe. I’ve incorporated my reporting for GodReports.com

As much cool stuff as I’ve done, I don’t get paid to blog. I also don’t get paid as a high school teacher at a small private Christian school. So I’m asking for a little bit of help to get to Guatemala, to the church my wife and I founded starting 20 years ago. I haven’t checked airfares yet, but it’ll probably be $750.

I’m asking you to support me http://www.gofundme.com/MikeToGuatemala. I totally understand if you don’t have any spare cash to help out (that’s the way I am! :D). But maybe some of you guys can help. I really appreciate it!

Pray, don’t panic

dont panic just pray

I don’t subscribe to the myth that I have everything under control. There are people who actually believe that they have so much money, talent, good looks, whatever, that they always will win in life.

Sometimes things appear to spin out of control. In those moments, I need to stay calm and remember who I am trusting. Don’t panic; just pray.

Love is supreme

love is supreme

You could have incredible prosperity, fame, power, and if you don’t have love, you would be unhappy.

You could be dirt-poor and humble and anonymous, but if you have love, you are the richest person on the planet?

Jesus extends His love to you continually. It only remains for you receive this live.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. — 1 Cor. 13:13

Once you become a Christian, growing in maturity means growing in love — loving the unlovable. This is what Jesus did, and it’s what we must learn.

He stole cars. Then Jesus stole his heart.

Pastor Chayo Perez

With his wife and two of his four children at the Tucson Door Church Bible conference.

By age 14, Rosario “Chayo” Perez was stealing pickup trucks from Tucson and bringing them across the border, where mafiosos paid him $1,000 each.

“When you’re 14, and you’re making $1,000 a week, that’s good money,” he says. He dropped out of school after finishing the 6th grade. “I figured, ‘Why would I need school?’”

When Chayo was 16, his best friend was murdered at his house on Christmas day. The killer was looking for Chayo to avenge some wrong. “But my friend took the hit and got killed,” he remarks grimly.

“Life was such a haze,” he recalls. “You’re high so much, drunk so much, that the reality of death doesn’t hit you.”

radical conversion Christ

In his days of running the streets

Once a group of fellow hoodlums, seeking revenge, left a man bloodied and nearly dead.

“I reached a point where I was sick and tired,” Chayo said. “I was living like an animal – just partying, drinking, using drugs and fighting.”

Then his older brother, Alex, got saved at a church that street-preached and evangelized earnestly.

“He would come witness to me while I was partying with my buddies,” Chayo said. “I started to get sick of him. I kept telling him to leave me alone.”

Then one time, Alex found Chayo drinking beer with his buddies. It was embarrassing for Chayo. The other guys started to make fun of Chayo for his brother. Chayo threatened him and told him to leave him alone.

“He said, ‘Ok,’” Chayo recalls. “’But let me pray for you and if nothing happens, I’ll leave you alone.’ I put my beer down. He prayed for me, and the Holy Ghost came down. I started weeping. My friends were freaking out because I was weeping. It was something supernatural. Even to this day, I can’t explain it.” Read the rest of the article.

Love’s the answer. What was the question?

Love's the answerThis one is not my wisdom. It comes from http://justmebeingcurious.com/ So thanks for him for allowing me to share it here.

It certainly appears to me that another prominent religion is based on hate, but Christianity, whose adherents get killed around the world and then forgive, is based on love.

This is how you know that white supremacists are NOT Christian. They are in hate, not love. They reflect those who crucified Christ.

How do we reach a generation that gets further away from God by the day? Love. How do we Christians — not our secular government — respond to nations who send terrorists to wreak carnage? We send missionaries. We send love.

How do we face bitter accusing people in the church? Do we descend to their wickedness? No, we must respond with love.

Love is the answer. It is so much the totality of the answer that we can even forget the question.

Faith is overrated

faith is overrated

This is a tough one because Jesus spent most of his time upbraiding his disciples for not having enough faith. So faith was very nearly the characteristic he most cultivated.

So to dismiss faith’s importance borders on heresy. Faith is not unimportant! It is just lesser important than love.

Paul is resetting Corinthian theology, which was heavy on the sizzle and bang of show-off spiritual gifts. He forms a chaismus with chapter 12 and 14 talking about spiritual gifts. Then he says: But I will show you a better way. In the middle, he talks about love.

The ancients didn’t have all caps or highlight to draw attention to their writing. They didn’t have exclamation marks. So they made up the chiasmus, a rhetorical device that repeats a them twice, with the highlighted material in the middle. (It’s kind of like a hamburger. It’s not the two breads on top and bottom. The tasty important part is in between the breads.)

In the middle, then, Paul says, Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:2.

In Christianity, love is the pinnacle of perfection. Holiness is not so much resisting temptation as it is having compassion on those who have fallen into temptation.

Spiritual gifts are overrated

supernatural gifts

It’s impressive when somebody asks you how you knew. You gave words, disclosed by the Holy Spirit, to encourage a person in a very specific way. Or you prayed for a person and he got healed. Using the fireworks can be a thrill — and it can make you feel like a spiritual hotshot.

But just lighting off fireworks doesn’t make you a Christian. Nor does it mean you have a blackbelt in spirituality.

No the blackbelt comes when you love someone who is hating you violently.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy… and have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:1-2

Curry’s Christianity

lebron curryStephen Curry, who picked the lock to Cleveland’s defense to win the NBA championship, likes to point people to “the Man who died for our sins on the cross.”

Curry was named the NBA 2015 most valuable player and led the Golden State Warriors to the championship, but he said worldly prizes don’t compare with Heavenly ones.

“I know I have a place in Heaven waiting for me because of Him, and that’s something no earthly prize or trophy could ever top,” Curry told Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

LeBron James seemed to be willing his way to the championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers, without two of his supporting stars who were injured. Curry was floundering with low points as the finals initially favored the Cavaliers 2-1. Read the rest of the article.

Martyrdom is overrated

martyrdom

Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:3

Raymond Lull sought to be stoned, so he went to an Islamic country and street-preached. Goal attained.

Why did he actively pursue martyrdom? Because Medieval Christians promulgated the myth that martyrs have the surest entrance into Heaven. The idea was so widely embraced that people born into Christendom would live for the devil all their lives and then seek martyrdom at the end, thinking they would thus be assured Heaven.

Martyrdom is overrated. It’s not the apex of Christianity. The quintessence of Christianity was shown yesterday by family members of the nine South Carolina victims of race-hater killer Dylann Roof when they addressed him in court and forgave him.

Love is Christianity’s highest virtue, its greatest sign of maturity, its most vaunted ideal. Raymond Lull would have done better to keep living and serving Jesus.

These are the truest Christians I’ve ever heard

How can the victims’ families forgive the confessed killer of nine blacks in an AME church in South Carolina. He tried to start a race war. It looks like he started a revival.

May all those filled with the sin of racism let the love of Jesus into their hearts. We whites have done hundreds of years of gravest crimes against blacks. It is our time to repent.

Martin Luther King Jr. knew that the love of Christ would prevail. I can only pray to God to have the sincere faith of these brothers and sisters in Christ who, in the moment of fresh pain, unreservedly forgive the killer of their loved ones and invite him to Christ.

(Originally, I tried unsuccessfully to a shorter embed video from the New York Times. Then I found it on YouTube. This video is a must-see for anyone curious about true Christianity.)

A phone call saved him from suicide

Door Christian Center |TucsonAs a street tough and drug addict, he spent his life on the edge of the law. But heaven broke through in a surprising way one afternoon when he looked death in the face.

“I would beat up bullies,” Philbert MacKowiak said. “When I was a little kid, my mom told me the story of Samson. I would pray to God to give me strength against my three older brothers when they would pick on me, and I would beat them up.”

But if he knew about Samson, his understanding of God was limited. He fell into drugs and alcohol at age 8.

By the age of 23, living in Oakland, California, he was a serious addict. One day he smoked 10 PCP joints in his car. When a police officer rapped on his window and ordered him to open it, he suddenly hit the gas pedal, flying off with “50 cop cars after me,” he recounted.

He started driving towards the Bay Bridge with patrol cars in tow.

“I was going to drive my car off the Bay Bridge,” he said. “I was furious. I hated the world. I didn’t want to live, but I was scared to kill myself because I heard it was a mortal sin.”

Read the rest of the article about the Tucson Door Church.

Stop making excuses

abby wambachMy son tore his ACL playing on turf, so I totally understand Abby Wambach’s complaint about having to play on turf at the Women’s World Cup.

But when she blames lack of goals, her lack of commitment, on the turf, then I’m ready to fire her.

Good thing she “committed” in the only goal the US scored against Nigeria yesterday.

Soccer was designed to play on grass, but turf is much easier to keep. I can understand why Canada, with snow and rain, would opt for turn.

abby wambach 2Turf doesn’t “give way.” So my son’s cleat got stuck, causing my son’s ACL tear. And when you tackle or fall (from doing a header), it’s much harder. Wambach had said: I don’t lay out and commit to those headers and that’s why they glance off my head rather than me contacting them. For me, I definitely think that the U.S. has more goals if we’re playing on grass.

But of all the women playing on turf, only Wambach whined. Someone even said that, if they had to play on concrete or dirt, they would give their all. This is for country. The Women’s World Cup is only once every four years. You have been selected to represent your country out of tens of thousands of female soccer players. You had better give your all.

Could you imagine what would happen if our soldiers took the same attitude? Aw sarge, I don’t want to charge. It’s dirty out and the rocks hurt. There’s too much dust. I can hardly see.

abby wambachOf course, we would all love perfect conditions. But if — as they say in Guatemala — you’re going to put on a pretty pink bow and demand your entitlements and not perform at full capacity, then it’s time to replace that player.

On Wednesday against Nigeria, Wambach calmed pundits who were up in arms. She scored a stunning goal on a cross. It was enough to win.

If we don’t allow excuses when you play for country, how much more so when you “play” for God? Maybe not all is well, but you can give your all to God.

Don’t hold back

canada's women's soccerCanada’s women’s team scored early, and it seemed they were going to crush the Netherlands in world cup yesterday. But the second goal never came — much less the third or fourth. For those of us rooting for our northern neighbors, the disappointment turned to bitterness when in the final minutes of the game Netherlands scored an equalizer.

Because soccer games are often won by one goal, a team CAN lay back and just try to hold on. Disgusting.

canada vs. netherlandsSame is true of the church, when we congratulate ourselves on the one goal we’ve already made, the offerings we’ve already given, the work we’ve already done. It is enough. Why work harder? Let’s just coast into victory.

Japan, the women’s world cup defending champions, did the same against Ecuador. When they should have brought an avalanche of goals, they settled for one. Ugh. I hate it.

But do I do it? Do I call it quits on prayer, evangelism and giving far short of winning?

It was the camels

invest evangelismWhat convinced Rebekah to leave her family, her friends, her land, everything, to go marry a man she’s never met?

It was the camels.

Eleazar showed up seeking a wife for Isaac. Rebekah offered to draw water for the camels. Even in ancient Middle Eastern culture which values visitors almost more than family, this was a tall order.

Then, Eleazar explains his mission to Rebekah’s family. They decide the matter comes from God, but even so, how could she consent to go almost immediately? She would never see her family again.

There were 10 camels in the caravan — and that meant wealth. She would go.

evangelism offeringWe Christians have the same mission as Eleazar. We have to find a “bride” for Christ.

What’s going to be key? Investing in evangelism, missions and church planting. A supernatural dynamic kicks in when we do more than just wish for souls, when we put our money where the Bible’s mouth is.

God rescued Jess from suicidal thoughts

suicidal

with her younger sister

She was beautiful, had talent, played soccer. She was a Christian.

But she was suicidal.

Even now Jess Trussell, 18, can’t fully explain the incongruence of possessing the joy of salvation but despairing over spiraling circumstances.

jess1At the time, Jess was a sophomore in high school. Her family had just changed churches and she lost the support network of friends who were like family. Her parents had hit some rough patches in their marriage. She would come home after soccer practice to try to finish homework. Her grades were slipping. And her eyesight was growing worse.

“Everything that was important to me in my life was falling through my hands,” she says on her blog. It was a time of months of discouragement that seemed to drain into endless hopelessness.

The way out came at a Christian concert where God spoke to here. To pass into eternity and be with Jesus, to leave behind the problems, would be wonderful, but people needed her here on Earth, was the gist. She felt God’s love.

suicide“I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, of comfort,” she said. “An enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

Her focus had been on herself. She needed to focus on others. Today she is a college sophomore at California Baptist University in Riverside, California.

Christians are not immune from the attacks of the devil, but they have the Resource, Jesus, to escape Satan’s clutches. Christians are not perfect. They get tempted just like anyone else. They sin. They are forgiven, not superior. They are forgiven only because they ask God for His forgiveness.

Being a Christian doesn’t negate our humanness. It just gives us a future eternalness.

I rejoice with Jess’ decision to share her story because I know that there are thousands of other Christian Jesses who the devil is tormenting, exploiting the secretiveness induced by shame. Jesus gives you the way out.

Hi! Fund my trip to Guatemala!

mikeHey everybody! I’m translating a revival in Guatemala, my old stomping ground. If you want to help pitch in for the airfare and taxi and food and stuff, here’s the link: http://www.gofundme.com/MikeToGuatemala

A lesson from the Melrose District of LA

moneyKudos to THIS graffiti artist. His painting is not mindless but demonstrates a philosophy of life and provokes viewers to reflect. It seems ironic to me that my friend, Steven Fernandez, found this in the Melrose District, known for pricey, trendy stores.

Steven, pictured, photoshopped it here, and I love it. You can’t have both money and whatever your pure dream is.

release $

Eating disorders and self image

Needless to say, we are so proud of our students Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica who put together this short for a film class. Eulie Scheel, Hasset Anteneh and a cameo appearance Daniella Mezrahi. Eulie’s mom is Marcia Harden, creator of Code Black.

This video probes eating disorders, self image, depression and self worth. It’s a tear-jerker.

Bend Jesus any way you want

bendable Jesus

Perfect for our time! Now we can bend Jesus any way we want.

If you don’t like certain scriptures, put a nice spin on them.

When rivals become friends

working togetherArgentina and Brazil hate each other. For decades, Argentina was the upper society of South America, and Brazil the vulgar poor neighbor to the north. They were both dominant in soccer, so the rivalry became intense.

Messi is from Argentina, and Neymar is from Brazil. On other teams, rivals have famously sunk their teams (Lampard and Gerrard on England, for example). But these two stars for Barcelona have set aside any differences and become friends. The results were magical: a triple crown of titles this season — Spanish League, King’s Cup and now the Champion’s League, the competition second in prestige only to the World Cup.

When you decide to set aside your differences and work together with people in your church, the results will be (maybe “magical” is not the right word) supernatural!

Like fighting against God, it wasn’t even a fair match

Germany Soccer Champions League FinalJuventus put everything they had into the Champions League Final — which wasn’t enough. So the Impossible Dream was just that: impossible.

Barcelona surprised, breaking up its usual quick-passing game that dizzies defenders. It added counter-attacks and long-balls, perhaps to catch Juventus unprepared.

The first goal came when Lionel Messi whipped a cross-field ball surgically over to teammate Neymar, who combined with Iniesta and Rakitic before the Juve defense could reconfigure.


Juventus sought to force mistakes with high-field pressure, exploiting Barca’s penchant for launching attacks out of defense with slick passes (as opposed to most team’s approach of using clearances to get out of the danger zone). The strategy paid off with some clumsy turnovers, but Juve failed to capitalize with goals.

Messi was again the director of the orchestra with the second goal with lightning dribbling that confounded defenders. Though Buffon expertly batted away Messi’s shot, he could not scramble over to block Suarez’s rebound smash.

Thankfully, Luis Suarez didn’t bite anyone in this game (he has bitten someone in the Dutch League, the English League and the World Cup). But he was up to his usual controversial antics. He faked injury to kill time. With mock pain, he writhed on the ground as the seconds counted down of the last minute of extra time. Then, he limped off the field, waved at fans, took a selfie, got lost, consulted a map, asked for an autograph, answered his cell phone and cooked up whatever time-wasting shenanigan he could. The ref simply allowed another minute of play.

Juve attacked, looking for the tying goal that would force overtime — 30 minutes. But Barca parried their attack and launched a counter. Again Leo escorted the ball down the field, this time finding Neymar, who converted, 3-1.

Juve Goalie, Gianluigi Buffon said about him: “Messi is an extra-terrestrial who plays with us humans. So we hope that on June 6 he returns to earth and becomes a human too.”

It didn’t happen as Buffon wished.

But if you thought Barcelona, in sealing three championships this season (League, King’s Cup and European Champions), was impressive, just remember that God never loses.

Tony Alamo church continues

Sporting a Tony Alamo hand-painted denim jacket, Myley Cyrus.

Sporting a Tony Alamo hand-painted denim jacket, Myley Cyrus.

What piqued my curiosity about Tony Alamo is that, despite that by court conviction he was an child sex abuser and by most accounts a cult leader, people got saved in his ministry. I visited his church in Canyon Country, CA, and found its service to be pretty much like any other church. The people talked mostly about and focused mostly on Jesus. Meanwhile, their pastor — the church is run by lay leaders — is in jail. TRIGGER WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: I can’t avow for his ministries.

Their disciples patrolled the Sunset Strip tirelessly witnessing to prostitutes and drug addicts in a “repent or perish” style that alienated as many as it converted.

tonyalamo_susanalamoDuring their heyday in the early 80s, Tony Alamo Ministries had hundreds of converts, a touring choir, and volunteer work crews that raised funds for their various ministry activities, including printing presses that churned out evangelistic pamphlets nonstop.

Then the movement’s leader, Tony Alamo, was convicted and jailed in 1994 for tax evasion and again in 2009 for sex crimes against minors. At 80 years of age, he is currently serving a 175-year sent in a Tucson prison for transporting five minors across state lines for sex.

Despite the hit to this ministry, the movement birthed with hippies of Hollywood did not disappear. In fact, as a mass distribution of pamphlets in Culver City attests, these radical Christians are back.

“You thought we closed down?” said one of their leaders at their church in Canyon Country, California, north of Los Angeles. “No, we never closed down.”

At a Sunday afternoon service recently, there was sincere love expressed by the approximately 30 people in attendance. It was a very normal Christian service: worship, testimonies, special music, offering, a sermon and communion – finished within an hour.

The disciples — some converts from the 60s and others young adults who had grown up in the church — are carrying out the mission left them by the Jewish-background Hollywood promoter who turned to Christ and became their pastor with his wife Susan.

“I want to serve the Lord, and I don’t care who likes it and who doesn’t like it,” said the preacher from the pulpit that afternoon. “The gospel is not about making money. It’s about saving souls.” Read more.

True Christians forgive. And Muslims?

I believe in a world where we can all live in peace, where we can debate, not kill over, our differences of faith. But I am disturbed by reports of apparently millions (?) of Muslims who support Al Qaeda or ISIS.

My faith’s founder left himself die. Your faith’s founder liquidated the opposition. My faith grew under the oppression of of the Roman persecution. Your faith expanded by military conquest.

I’m reaching out to my Muslim friends to explain to me why there is so much violence, hatred and killing in Islam?

A portal to hell

portal to hellJK. Actually this is an underground lava flow. This surface hole shows the underground tube.

God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. So don’t reject Him. Don’t choose an eternal destination apart from Him. He loves you.

Well, it’s not that easy…

broken heart

First you follow your heart (excuse the pun) whole-heartedly.

Then when your heart leads you to pain (because of sin), you want to get rid of it.

But those who try only make things worse. They try to deaden the pain with a deluge of sin (drugs, alcohol, meaningless sex). These are neither permanent nor true fixes.

Jesus heals hearts. Cry out to Him.

Don’t give up today

don't give upIf you give up today, you give up everyday for the rest of your life.

Jesus is my gym partner

Jesus gymI lift heavy weights. He lifts my heavy heart. Photo source: Huffington Post. I don’t own rights to it, and I’m not making any money on it.

Sometimes the “valley of the shadow of death” is long

failure-is-success-in-progressExcuse me, I’m just passing through.

That’s a good attitude to have when you’re experiencing a low in your life. When your family is not so great. When your church relationships are down. When your finances are NOT up. When you’re sick or your business/job sucks.

Look forward and insist on believing in success.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil –– Psalm 23:4. Sometimes it’s just a long valley.

Photo source: Pinterest. I neither own the rights to it, nor am I making any money on it.

Is it worth it?

walnuts waterA study suggests California is entering the worst drought in 1,200 years. Walnut growers provide 28% of the world’s walnuts, and they use more water than all the homes and businesses of Los Angeles combined (10 million people).

If the investment of water in walnuts seems mind-boggling, you should consider that more has been invested in your salvation. If God was willing to invest his only Son’s blood into one soul’s salvation, shouldn’t we be willing to give lavishly to fund the work of revival?

Teasing you to re-think your stereotypes

recitatif

Who is Twyla and who is Roberta? Your guess is still only an assumption, that Morrison has pulled you into to making to expose your stereotypes.

Toni Morrison’s only short story, Recitatif, invites you to guess the race of the two main characters, Twyla and Roberta, because Morrison carefully avoids stating it.

I always ask my U.S. Lit students at my Christian school in Santa Monica who is black and who is white. Results are always divided. Then my students begin to argue and pick out pieces of evidence from the story. This is a useful learning dynamic because it forces students to think, to use evidence to support their conjecture, but ultimately it is futile. Morrison’s genius is such that, being a African American writer, she writes about race with grace and gentleness.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

The story is completely void of bitterness. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t even accept the conventional wisdom about racism. Both girls (all we ever learn conclusively is that one is white and the other is black, and your best guess is only conjecture) attack a mute, bow-legged “tan”-colored cook at St. Bonaventure’s, where they are housed as quasi-orphans. The picture of racism is simple: there is an almost irresistible urge in all mankind to hurt the powerless.

It is a haunting picture. It is a picture of sin. Left unchecked, sin will drive us to evil. Nobody escapes its clutches alone.

Morrison invites us to reflect about racism. It is nothing innate to whites or to blacks. In fact, it has very little to do with skin color. It has to do with the wicked, very human, innate heart condition to flaunt power over another. And in exercising that power, we humans harm.

Wow, this story explains much more than just racism! It explains why there is war.

But it comes up short in terms of finding a solution. In fact, the ending can seem anti-climatic. Roberta agonizes over the memory. She cannot fix for certain whether she and Twyla actually kicked the cook or did they just want to do it in their hearts.

Photo source: I don’t own the rights to the picture, and I’m not making any money on it.

E-mail has not replaced knee-mail

knee mail | communication wtih GodBefore texting, there was instantaneous communication. It was called prayer.

And you don’t have to get on your knees to pray — although some people find the position of their body helps with there outlook.

You should call out on God before you get into desperation. Just saying.

You are too busy to NOT pray.

Image source: Buzzfeed

Man-pleasing

pizzaGod deliver me from a people-pleasing spirit.

Not everything is a blessing

discernmentMany things are said to be blessings, but not all comes from God. If you swallow the wrong stuff, it will be bitter. I guess that’s why Rom. 12:2 says we should pray for discernment. The fact that the majority says something is good does not mean that it is in fact good. As human beings, we want to receive true good from God, not a something that looks like it.

Comic source: pinterest

God changes people

God's power to transform

This is the oft-overlooked part of the gospel. God changes people. I thank God I’m not the same, that my sin is not my identity. I’m so glad there is a Higher Power that can endow me with power to become what I want, a worthy servant of the Most High. Thank God for His effectual power to transform people.

Sometimes in the Bible, the transformation wrought was so revolutionary that God even changed the person’s name. Thus, Abraam became Abraham; Jacob, Israel; and Simon, Peter.

Image from Pinterest.

And then there’s prayer

and then there's prayer

Need a breakthrough in your life? Maybe you think you need money. But not too many of us have that in abundance. This is how you get a breakthrough without a monetary investment. It’s called prayer.

Prayer only costs us time. Other than that, it’s completely free.

When I was a missionary in Guatemala, I didn’t have a lot of resources. So I spent time praying. And God did amazing things.

I realized that more work wasn’t the answer. Logically, God can get more done that I could. So if I prayed more, God would do what I couldn’t do.

Some people are so busy that they don’t pray. They don’t know what they’re missing.

The most important thing for Christians…

evangelism

from gocomics.com

… is to pray and work for others to get saved.

We have all eternity to praise God, to pursue our hobbies, to enjoy riches. But the opportunity to save souls stops at death.

*I don’t own rights to the cartoon, and I’m not making any money on it. I credit its creator with genius and thank him/her profusely.

Nutella, where have you been all my life?

nutella

I’m 47 years old, and I just discovered Nutella. Of course, I had tried it on crepes at fancy restaurants, but I had no idea that I could get it for home. But my daughter, who has a radar for yummy stuff, began dipping strawberries in it. The curmudgeon in my resisted such unconventional innovations.

Then, one day overcome by an odd desire to try something new, I tasted for myself. Eyes bulged. Scoffing disappeared. Immediately I was hooked addicted.

It took me 47 years to discover this delight. After almost five decades of life, I’m still discovering new wonders that God has prepared for us humans.

And you want to tell me that Heaven doesn’t have unending wonders to please everyday for eternity? Sorry, but I don’t think wings, white robe and a golden harp describe adequately Heaven. The fact that the Bible talks little about Heaven only means that God kept surprises for us.

I’m still discovering delights here on Earth.

Get involved in something bigger than yourself

Walk to Africa

To make sure walkers stayed on the course, I held the sign at Montana Ave. and Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica

Today we mounted the large-scale event, the Walk to Africa in Santa Monica, a walkathon that raises funds for Lighthouse Medical Missions. I’m exhausted.

I set up at the Fun Zone at 7:00 a.m. I directed traffic and cheered on walkers at the 6-mile mark. I packed up at 2:00 p.m. I was one of a hundred people staffing the event.

To help achieve a bigger goal than my own agenda is grand. You should try it. Especially if it involves serving humanity and serving God.

Put your heart in His hands

fireyhands

The central issue of the poorly named “cultural wars” is trust. People cannot bring themselves to trust our loving God whose Bible is nothing more than instructions on how to have happiness in life. He tells us how to avoid pratfalls and how to succeed.

But many people refuse to trust that He knows what He’s doing. They prefer to take matters into their own hands. Typically, they mock the Bible, sneer at Christians or just plain ignore them. And then they destroy their lives.

That’s ok because at any point you can come back to your Loving Savior, who will NOT reproach you for your rebellion. He’ll heal your wounds and give you a new life.

You can trust putting your heart into the hands of the Maker.

Gif: Gavin on Reddit. I don’t own rights to this gif and I’m not making any money on it. I admire its creator for his talent and work.

But God wants you to go to Heaven

heaven or hell

It’s your choice, Heaven or Hell.

The beauty of children

kristinapimenovaTruly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven — Matt 18:3 NIV.

Children have joy. They make friends. They forgive. The love life. They’re trusting. They’re not cynical. They don’t know pride. They are innocent.

Have we become so sophisticated that we are out of touch with God?

They are following you

dolphinsIs your example worth following?

If you are a human being, you can’t deny that you have influence. As a dad or mom, what kind of example are you giving you kids? At your workplace or in school, what kind of example are you giving to your fellows?

What makes extraordinary? Just a little extra

extraordinaryThe uncelebrated life fascinates me. The common man or woman, if we look hard enough, will show mighty acts of uncommon heroism that never went viral. The photoshopped face, the software-enhance voice of the media darling only proves a person who prostituted himself pursuing fame.

Wish your life could be lifted out of ordinary? Just give a little “extra.”

Photo from chicwithwords.

She fell and still won


Heather Dorniden credits God with her amazing come-from-behind win in the 2008 Big 10 indoor track championships 600 meter race. She stumbles and falls. She gets up and still wins! At the end of the video, she talks about her faith in God.

This is a picture of what we should do when we stumble and fall.