Carlos se quejó de que había un pelo en su pan. Yo le dije que diera gracias a Dios que no hubiera un pedo un su pan.
I jumped at the chance to get my study group to help my church form a business plan. We worked hours analyzing strengths and weaknesses, projections and budgets, vision and philosophy. The resulting 20-page report had us planting a new church every two years. It was a glowing success and got us an A at the Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala. Our plans were splendidly conceived and brilliantly explained.There was only one problem.
You can’t plan revival because revival comes from God.
Prayer works better than planning.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe in planning. I agree with the adage: he who fails to plan, plans to fail. BUT, the church is God’s. We can only submit to His will. We cannot force Him to bless our plans.
There is no way I could have planned this guy’s salvation (pictured). It comes as a confirmation of the strategies God has given us in Guatemala: the school and outreach. I can only praise Him for His work — and welcome Carlos heartily to salvation.
Posted in Christian Fellowship Ministries, Christianity, church, church planting, evangelism, Guatemala, how to evangelize?, how to pray?, prayer
Tagged Bible, Christian school in Guatemala, Faith, God, inspiration, Jesus, ministry, outreach
Saul lost his ministry and revival the moment he pounced on the plunder. God wanted a sacrifice similar to when the Israelites conquered Jericho; they were not to touch any of the riches. King Saul should have remembered Achan, who sneaking away silver and a Babylonia tunic, was judged by God.
But no. After decimated the Amalekites, the Israelites swarmed on the riches, a normal practice in ancient warfare that God ordered them to abstain from this one time. But the people and Saul couldn’t suppress their greed.
God had warned Saul that he was losing credibility, but even so he paid no heed. It was here, when Saul and others pounced on the plunder, that God sent Samuel to anoint David as the next king.
Let the church be warned: when we love money more that souls, revival is over. God gives us money to reach souls, but when we grab it for our pleasures, God retires from that church. I don’t care if you’re a big church. Bigness doesn’t mean Godness.
Posted in Christianity, church, Financial Talk, ministry
Tagged amalekites, church administation, Faith, God, greed, Israelites, Jesus, money, offerings, revival, Saul, tithes
Avocado fries at Rustic Kitchen from West Los Angeles.
Yeah, I can find so many better things to do with my time. And they keep giving you rules: what’s healthy, what you shouldn’t eat. Why don’t they let me lead my life the way I want? They’re so judgemental, hateful, hypocritical. What’s the point? Why do they try to force you to eat?
Sorry. Switch “eat” for “church” to understand my analogy.
Spiritual food is just as necessary, useful and delicious as physical food.
Posted in church, food, foodie, Jesus
Tagged Bible, Christianity, Faith, God, inspiration, life philosophy, ministry, random, Rustic Kitchen, thoughts, West Los Angeles, yum
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are splintering at a critical time. They disagree on what to do with a serum that turns humans into monsters and, Donatello believes, monsters — like them — into humans. The prospect tantalizes Michelangelo and Raphael, who long for a chance to have normal interaction with humans and not face the antipathy their cold-blooded bodies elicit. But Leonardo, thinking in terms only of effective crime-fighting, doesn’t even take them into account when deciding against such a transformation. They fracture.
Meanwhile, the bad guys are joining forces.
But one of the delights of the movie is they overcome their differences, work to understand each other and appreciate each others’ differences, and they join forces. At the same time, the bad guys split up. You know who wins.
I hope the church can join together at the critical moment.
Posted in church, unity
Tagged church division, donatello, Leonardo, michelangelo, ministry, raphael, revival, teamwork, teenage mutant ninja turtles, work together
Finances are a dreary necessity that underpin the true joy of saving souls. I don’t believe that God’s main purpose is to bless His people. Yes, we are children of the King, but the Child of King didn’t have a home, much less a bank account.
Having disavowed the prosperity gospel heretics, I would wish to proceed with a balanced exposition on finances. I was struck by this reading Ruth: Let fall also some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glen them. (Ruth 2:16).
Boaz is a picture of Christ because he redeems her from deplorable poverty. Gleaning was a back-breaking job: 12 hours under the blistering sun only to pick up enough grains for one meal. Boaz makes the decision to improve her lot significantly.
We can, therefore, ask God in prayer to drop “handfuls on purpose” for our ministries.
Posted in Christian Fellowship Ministries, Christian schools, church, church finances, Financial Talk, How do I pray?, how to pray?, ministry, missionaries
Tagged blessing, boaz, Faith, finances, God, gospel, inspiration, Jesus, offerings, prosperity, Ruth, tithes
There are two kinds of erosion: breaking and smoothing. The first happens when water flows into cracks and then freezes. It makes jagged edges and rough surfaces. The second when water or wind slowly wears down and rounds.
When people disappoint you in church, it’s wearing. It can erode your spirit. But what is left is up to you. Does it become beautiful, as if molded by God, or does it show the painful barb of breakage?
Let us, as Joseph, see the hand of God ultimately in the pain other “Christians” inflict.
Posted in abuse, church, forgiveness
Tagged beauty, Bible, Christianity, erosion, Faith, God, hurt, Jesus, Joseph, ministry, pain
As a newbie, Peter doesn’t understand why Jesus doesn’t stay in the spotlight. After all, the Lord has successfully gathered a great crowd after healing sick and freeing people from demons. Then, right when He’s won Galilee Idol, He sneaks off to pray alone.
Peter, who fancies himself Jesus’ campaign manager, comes and tells him, “Everybody’s looking for You.” (Mark 1:37)
Jesus just mystifies him: “Let’s go to other towns so that I may preach there also because that is what I was sent for.” Why wouldn’t he capitalize on the crescendo?
Peter didn’t understand, as many Christians today, that the highest priority is not popularity or prosperity. It’s extending the message of salvation to others and to still others.
Once upon a time, Americans looked for new frontiers. Some still do, scientists, for example. But Christians? Are we basking in the glory of perfect services with quality music and preaching while the huddling masses in other towns languish with no hope?
I’m taking on a new frontier. I’ve moved out of luxury and into poverty, from Santa Monica to Van Nuys. There’s a method to the madness: God has called me to save souls elsewhere. After a month, there’s already one family in the Thursday night Bible study — thanks to y’all’s prayers. (Sorry, I can’t resist “y’all” even though I’m not from the South. English needs a plural second person pronoun.)
Posted in church, church planting, pioneering
Tagged Bible, Bible Study, Christian Fellowship Ministries, Christianity, God, Jesus, ministry, new frontier, pastoring, Peter, Santa Monica, Van Nuys
If you hear screams late at night coming from my room, don’t call the cops. Everything is OK. I’m just having a nightmare about dishwashers.
101’s dishwasher was spraying water on the floor. It had been doing so — whenever the tenant infrequently used it — for eight months. The previous manager apparently couldn’t find the problem.
But replacing it was no slam dunk. The Home Depot guys returned because the voltage was 220. The electrician scolded me because the shut-off valve was corroded and sprayed him. The tenant feels like her apartment has turned into a museum as I, the handyman and an assortment of workers traipse through day after day.
I’m the Valley Boy Pastor, and I’m new at apartment managing. And I’m loving it. It offers me the chance to make friends and win souls on the basis of the rapport of being the manager. I guess you could say the job is a little bit “complex.” Sorry, can’t resist a pun regardless of the quality.
Thanks for your prayers for this church plant. So far, no one has come to the Thursday Bible study.
Posted in church, church planting, Financial Talk
Tagged apartment managing, Bible, Christian Fellowship Ministries, Faith, God, inspiration, Jesus, pioneering, Valley Boy Pastor, Van Nuys
In Ender’s Game, Col Graeff isolates the child military prodigy: He must never think others will come to help him. He must find within himself the resources to solve his problems and triumph. In the end, the traumatizing “training” pays high dividends. Ender brilliantly defeats the buggers, who twice threatened to wipe out humanity. But the dividends come at a high cost: Ender can have no friends.
I loathe loneliness. I long for friendship, love, acceptance. Why must I face rejection in the place I expect to find love? Does God want me to learn to depend only on Him?
God made us to be social creatures. We thrive on affirmation. Without it, we can spiral. Social interaction can either help us serve Jesus or — depending on our friends — pull us away from Jesus. This is my basic ministerial tenet: give friendship to people and show them the way to Christ. Truth is critically important, but most people are not Socratic. They’re looking for friends, not truth.
Jesus associated himself with the despised: the prostitute, the tax collector, the leper. He touched a leper. That was forbidden by the law. He broke the law of God to grace an affection-starved human being. In medical terms, he risked getting sick to show love.
The church should not have outcasts, pariahs or blacklists. If it does, it approximates more the religious order of the Pharisees than of the disciples.
People give more of themselves if they are given realistic goals over the short and long terms. Leadership does a great disservice by classifying some church members as untouchables. Or whatever, maybe they just don’t fit in the leadership clique.
I observe former bad boys straighten up their lives because there’s a Christian girl in the picture. He wants to be worthy to marry her (short term). He also wants to go to Heaven (long term).
But for others, the goals seem simply impossible. Why study and do boring and hard homework if I’m not going to go to college anyway (short term)? Better to live for short term pleasures than strive so hard for nothing. If he doesn’t buy into the dream, he’s not going to be motivated. The key is that it must be realistic — for him.
I’m not unaffected by this basic psychological need. So it is with great rejoicing that I am moving out of seaside Santa Monica into the sweltering San Fernando Valley with the opportunity to start a Bible study. Van Nuys has all the allure of the Promised Land because what thrills my heart most is ministry. Thank God my pastor is giving me the chance.
I’ve been a Christian for 36 years. I think that it’s easy to get bored. At some point, you know the scriptures, you know the songs, you know the sermons. What has kept me excited has been doing, not sitting and listening. It has been bringing others to that initial knowledge of Christ. Are you bored with Christianity? You are in danger of backsliding. Get involved in expanding the kingdom, getting souls saved and establishing them in His truth.
You’ll never be bored again. Getting involved in ministry will motivate your heart to give your utmost for Him.
Six year ago, we quit Guatemala after 16 years of ministry. It looks like God is opening doors for me to start a new church in the U.S. (more to come later). But for now, I’m in Guatemala visiting, preaching, reinvigorating, helping. And I have my son, Hosea, with me. So I guess this post, I’ll just be asking for prayers. Thanks! It’s great to see everyone again!
Little groups have always been the ones to change the world.
The disciples were 11 — and they made the world largely Christian. How many people were on the original Apple team? — and now they are one of the world’s most profitable. The Wright brothers were only two guys — and they flew the first plane.
Maybe your church is small. Don’t count yourself out.
I admit: I’m not schooled in the intricacies of superheroes fighting among themselves, but the core of my being finds this repulsive Good guys are not supposed to fight good guys
So too, when the church fights among themselves, it’s a tragedy.
Some Christians fight over ministry. Others let personality conflicts prevail. These are wrong-headed approaches to church. First, God describes the church as a physical body without redundancy. Every part of the body has its valuable function They eye cannot say to the nose that it is superior.
Secondly, you can always go out and CREATE new ministry. As long as there are unsaved souls on the planet, there cannot be a limited number of ministerial positions.
Thirdly, Christ told us the greatest among us should be the servant of all. Usually, there are ministries in the church that need workers. I myself have taken up the cleaning ministry.
Fourth, church members who believe they have the gift of criticism are more Pharisees that Christians. Stop finding fault with what your brother is doing, and do something yourself to build up the church or add members.
I’m sure someone somewhere can explain to me the plot of Superman fighting Batman and how this makes sense. But can anyone anywhere explain why Christians fight in the church?
Don’t miss the ship.
Posted in Christianity, church, Jesus
Tagged Bible, discipleship, Faith, fellowship, God, inspiration, random, ships, thoughts, worship
Don’t put too much “I” in Sunday — else it become SInday. Keep the “U” in Sunday.
Afterall, Sunday is about others. Put God and others first on Sunday.
Posted in Christianity, church, Sunday
Tagged discipleship, Faith, fellowship, God, inspiration, Jesus, prayer, thoughts, worship
As Peyton Manning was winning his second Super Bowl, the cameras panned his family. A grim-faced Eli Manning, who quarterbacks for the New York Giants, just got his record (two Super Bowls) equaled. The media speculated wildly: He was mad that his brother and rival tied him. He was no longer the favored child. Etc. and nauseating etc.
It turns out the wild imaginations were all projecting their own evil thoughts on poor Eli. Yes, he had a grim face, but not because he had a rivalry with his brother. He was thinking, he came forward to clear up the record, about strategy. What would the Broncos do next to guarantee the win? Deep in playroom cogitations, he didn’t show on his face the rejoicing of the rest of the family.
No, you’re not “hearing” the Holy Spirit guessing what a brother or sister is thinking. If you suspect evil in his heart, maybe it’s your own evil. Maybe, if YOU had that face it would be because of some bad thoughts. But maybe the other person not so.
Pentecostal Christians make a mess of church ministry by confusing psychological projection with Holy Spirit thinking. Don’t pay attention to the face. Just preach the word and love people. Don’t judge them based on their face.
Posted in church, ministry, pastor
Tagged abuse in church, Broncos, Eli manning, giants, Holy Spirit, pastors, pentecostalism, Peyton Manning, treating people right
The pungent and sweet taste of orange marmalade is one I missed as a missionary in Guatemala. So when we got back to the U.S. a few years ago after 16 years abroad, I got it, and I shared it with my youngest son. To put it mildly, Hosea didn’t like it.
“Dad! It tastes like it has wires!” He was somewhere between aghast and livid. He believed it was his duty to inform me what I didn’t know. The rind gratings — um — were grating to his palate.
Of course, I cracked up. For his ingenuousness, thinking I didn’t know it had rind gratings. For his descriptiveness.
This is how I feel when newbie leaders want to give me a lecture on spirituality. When does the senior ever let the freshman tell him how to play varsity football? You have to take things with humor or it can be a discouraging thing coming back into your mother church. And you gotta enjoy the orange marmalade despite what people say.
It had been a frustrating day — criticisms of my efforts to get people saved and discipled. (It seems like the church is full of people who don’t save or disciple others, but they are experts to let others know what they’re doing wrong.)
As I prayed, God reminded me that I’m not working for the critics. I’m working for the kids.
I teach at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and I coach for the middle school soccer team. We took some bruising losses this week, but I love the kids, and they seem to appreciate me. We have fun — all in Jesus’ name.
These are the powerful Saints! We have won only one game. But their enthusiasm, their joy, their love of Jesus, their positive energy makes them powerful in my book (quite a few players missed practice this day)!
A gift received is a gift given. Whatever God has given you as a talent or a special characteristic, you must give to others.
Too many stars and intelligentsia use their talents for themselves. They believe themselves entitled to superior treatment. They fail to recognize that their beauty, voice or ability comes from God. God didn’t give you that gift because He has favorites — not to use it just for your own benefit.
If you are in the church, you must understand that God’s giftings come from God and are owed back to Him. I’m mystified by Christian servants who charge fellow servants for the use of their giftings. We are governed by capitalism more than the Bible. If we hold back on our service to the church, we are not being faithful to God.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms — 1 Peter 4:10.
Posted in Christianity, Christmas, church
Tagged ability, beauty, Faith, giftings, inspriation, intelligence, Jesus, motivation, service, talents, thoughts
Lionel Messi, with whom defenders can only keep up with their eyes, was loaded with so much talent, but clubs in Argentina were unwilling to give him the costly growth hormone he needed.
At 9, he would put 100s of touches on the ball to elude the best kid defenders. At 11, he was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. His club, Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, agreed to pay the daily injections that would cost $1,500 a month but only wound up given him 300 pesos.
So he signed for FC Barcelona, which has since seen its investment amply paid back. Messi has won four consecutive Ballon d’Or, three Champion Leagues and six Spanish League titles.
He just won the World Cup of Clubs against an Argentine club, River Plate. When he scored the first goal, he raised his hand to apologize out of respect for his motherland. Still, ultra fans insulted and spat on him at the airport. But had River Plate been willing to invest in Messi, the world’s best player (my opinion) might have played for them.
I have seen this in the church and it makes my stomach churn. Don’t despise anybody God brings in. Everyone has talents and destiny. Appreciate everybody; they’re there for a reason. They have talents you don’t. Without their contributions, your church will be deficient.
Posted in barcelona, Christianity, church
Tagged Argentina, ballon dor, Champions League, Faith, FCB, gifts, growth hormone deficiency, inspiration, Jesus, Messi, Newells old boys, rosario, talents, world cup of clubs
I’m from parched California. We can’t take showers any longer.
So you can imagine how strange I felt driving over river after river in Idaho to visit my brother in Idaho Falls. Then we visited Lower and Upper Mesa Falls in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. If I could live near waterfalls, I would.
Water is life, beauty, tranquility.
Jesus is the water of eternal life. My waterfall is my church.
People who say they don’t need church are spiritually drought-stricken.
Posted in church
Tagged Caribou Targhee National Forest, Christianity, Faith, Idaho, inspiration, Jesus, life, Lower Mesa Falls, motivation, thoughts, waterfall
If you give to the poor BECAUSE of love, that is a very good thing. But Paul seems to indicate that a human could give to the poor without having love. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and have not love, it profits me nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:3.
Maybe people give to the poor to appease their conscience or to compensate their evil actions with good ones. What’s surprising is that we can DO loving things without love.
Of course, I think love is an action (like giving to the poor). Yeah, no smug love that I just wish upon the world without doing anything to alleviate the world’s sufferings. Indeed, Prov. 19:17 says: Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.
Posted in Christian love, church, fellowship
Tagged altruism, charity, children, Faith, family, giving, hope, Jesus, leadership, life, lifestyle, poor people
If you ponder who is the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi would be a contender for the title. Thanks to Messi, FC Barcelona are the team to beat, the standard-bearers of magic on the pitch, a distinction formerly held by nemesis Real Madrid.
But there would have been no Messi, and Barcelona would have remained always in the shadows of white uniforms of Spain’s capitol city, had it not been for a legend from the past. Johann Cruyff is almost forgotten in the radiance of today’s stars. But it was Cruyff who made the way for Messi.
Wanted at Real Madrid, the Dutch dazzler opted to move to then-underdog Barca. Immediately he won the championship and two Ballons d’Or. Later as coach, he won four consecutive titles and one European Cup. He devised the farm training team for future stars to rise in. It was there that Messi discovered his own greatness.
Today, Cruyff fades into the background as the steamroller Messi continues to smash records. Who is greater? The one who became great or the one who forged the path for him to find destiny.
Maybe your ministry is waning, your influence declining. Fret not. What you have done for God has brought others into their own destiny and greatness.
In the Ark of the Covenant, there were the law tablets, Aaron’s rod, and a jar of manna. These symbolize:
- law: God’s guidance
- rod: God’s favor
- jar: God’s provision
What else could we want/need from God? The Ark of the Covenant (not Noah’s ark) represented the presence of God with His people. Now, His presence is with His people, especially in His church.
And that’s we go to church for. That’s what we get from God by seeking Him:
Though my heart goes out to the multitudes who have been hurt by “toxic” churches, I am not among those abandoning the church. If Christ instituted, going AWOL cannot be part of the solution, regardless of damage done. You may need to change church, not leave it entirely.
I belong to the group seeking reform for the church. When I see reform, I wish to reform myself. I, a sinner, need to change. I am part of the church. As I change and become truly more Christ-like, the church will better reflect His love.
So many of my posts challenge unbelievers in their unbelief that I am even fearful to publish this challenge to the church to self-examination, self-surgery, self-healing. (I didn’t hardly even dare to make visible the stinging criticism in the picture. Only if you look closely can you make it out.)
Jesus said: As you judge, you will be judged. Let us therefore use mercy one with another. Love those who are hard to love in the church. Don’t come down to their insecurity. If they rattle off criticisms, don’t you do it.
Tex and Luis, after the blow to the nose.
A complete soccer team has its burly bruisers and its exquisite finesse players who can deliver a ball directly to the feet of a goal-scorer through a forest of opponents.
So Tex smashed Luis at high school practice today so hard that his nose bled out of both nostrils. I had to remind him to take out competitors, not teammates. Of course he did it unconsciously; without thinking the football player manifests.
A good soccer team is like the church. Everybody’s talents compliment and complete ministry in the church. No one’s is superior, nor inferior. We need people. Reaching out over the blogosphere is fabulous, but sometimes you need flesh and blood right nearby. I have prayed for other bloggers, but sometimes I need a church member to fix my washer. It is the combined effort that wins games.
It is the combination of so many different people that makes the church triumph over Satan. Surely, the church is guilty of so many crimes (judging others, drama, for example). I don’t like its ugly moments, but there’s nothing to take its place. Church is like marriage: detractors abound, but nothing better has every replaced it.
Posted in church
Tagged Christian school, Christian unity, Christianity, complimentary, giftings, gifts, high school scccer, Lighthouse Christian Academy, pastors, Santa Monica, soccer, team, teamwork, unity