There will be times when you want to give up and throw everything in. Don’t. By turning challenges into opportunities, you find success you were never capable of achieving.Your ability to take calculated risks and your incurable optimism will take you to great heights. — Richard Branson
Category Archives: inspiration
Carlton Edwards ran and shot so well in Vietnam that he earned the Army’s Bronze Star Medal. But recognition for his heroics could not assuage the stress of war, so when buddies introduced him to heroin outside of Saigon in 1972, he readily indulged.
Carlton grew up in Mt. Vernon, New York, with six other family members in a three-room apartment governed by an alcoholic father. He was drafted out of high school in 1969 and served four years in Vietnam but never got busted for drug use.
“I was a very functional addict,” he said. “I used two or three times a day. It was to help me deal with the pressures of the war. It gave you comfort, totally relaxation, almost sleep, but you were aware of the things around you. It took you out of the reality of the pain you’re going through. It was sedative.”
Stationed in Germany years later, Carlton hung with the Army’s bad boys, the guys who had killed and strutted around flaunting their toughness. But a little guy named Morphus kept harassing him, popping up behind him to remind him, “God loves you.”
Carlton thought he was way beyond God’s ability to forgive, with all the terrible things he had done. Plus, “this God thing didn’t go with being in military and hanging with the tough crowd,” he said. So Carlton asked the annoying Morphus what he wanted – hoping he would leave him alone.
Morphus told Carlton that if he attended his Bible study the next day at noon, he wouldn’t pester him again. Read the rest of Vietnam vet freed from heroin.
With the monsoon ahead and the Japanese in pursuit behind, Lt. General Joe Stilwell trekked 140 miles through steamy jungles and over 7,500-foot mountain ridges to escape an overrun Burma during World War 2.
His party of 117 carried money and Tommy guns, but their secret weapon was the singing voices of Than Shwe and 18 other Burmese nurses. Despite battling tuberculosis, Than Shwe, a devout Christian, led the hardy ladies in “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to boost morale in the flagging marchers.
“All the way on the retreat we were singing. ‘Sing, girls, sing,’ Uncle Joe would say,” said Than Shwe, as quoted in Stars and Stripes.
She was still teaching English in Lashio, Myanmar, at 89 years of age when she was interviewed two years ago. Although she shares the name with the ex-dictator of Myanmar (Burma’s new name), Than Shwe has nothing else in common with the repressive military general who handed leadership over only recently.
Than Shwe is remembered for being peppy and cracking jokes. She was hardworking lady who offered her services as a nurse during World War 2 despite fighting her own battles against TB.
Stilwell’s retreat on foot out of Burma in May 1942 is the stuff of legends among history buffs. The no-nonsense general who wore no military insignia to show solidarity with his troops was charged with the Allies’ China-Burma-India theater. He sent much of his staff out on planes but refused the luxury and security for himself. Instead, he led the on-foot retreat personally. “I prefer to walk,” he said.
When Stilwell – known to his soldiers as “Vinegar Joe” for his acid personality – found his forces disintegrating, he was obliged to retreat. On May 6 leaving Indaw, the group headed west into the impenetrable jungle, tramping a minimum 14 miles a day through mud and zig-zagging up and down switchbacks to India.
“The jungle was everywhere,” wrote Donovan Webster in The Burma Road. “Its vines grabbed their ankles as they walked. Its steamy heat sapped their strength. And every time they reached the summit of yet another six-thousand-foot mountain, they could only stare across the quilted green rain forest below and let their gazes lift slowly toward the horizon. Ahead of them, looming in the distance, they could finally see the next hogback ridge between them and safety. They would, of course, have to climb over that one, too.”
Stilwell was committed to assuring that every member of his party – Americans, English, Indians, Chinese and Burmese – escaped alive. Japanese troops, trying to cut off Chiang Kai-Sheck’s supply line through Burma, were chasing him from the South, the East and the Northeast.
“By the time we get out of here, many of you will hate my guts,” Stilwell said. “But I’ll tell you one thing: You’ll get out.”
The nurses looked frail, hardly apt for such a rigorous journey, and Stilwell urged anyone incapable of completing such an arduous journey to stay behind and seek refuge in town. But instead of slowing up the group, the gospel singing nurses turned out to the godsend, constantly injecting enthusiasm with their lively songs. Follow the rest of the march.
People are nasty. You have a dream, and they want to destroy it. You must guard your heart against evil people. Don’t let them assassinate your vision, your self belief. Hold on to your dream and pursue. Believe in yourself and in God. He will make a way.
Original image from Pinterest.
As you enjoy the flavors made by God, feel His love this Valentine’s.
They sold their livestock to buy hammers and chisels. Without civil engineering, they took five years to chip their way through almost a mile of solid rock. The resulting road — 15 feet high and 12 feet wide — opened the remote and inaccessible village to tourism and saved the town, but one of the original 13 lost his life in the construction.
It was a good thing they didn’t realize that what they wished to do was “impossible” for villagers lacking power tools and proper training. By having faith in their dreams, they defied the naysayers and gambled everything on their future. The wager — and the work — paid off.
Long before New Year’s resolutions became the trend, God already had the market cornered. Twelve step programs, starting over and clean slates all are copies of the original version. And like most software, the original is the best.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland — Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV.
This marvelous piece of poetry is doubly wonderful because it’s not empty words — it’s empowered by the Spirit of God. In fact, God has committed Himself to this line of action, and He cannot go back on His promise. If you want true change in your life, cry out to God because He is the originator of change.
As a matter of fact, I don’t believe you can get true change without Him.
Maybe Esther thought she was privileged, chosen to be queen just to enjoy luxury herself. But when a crisis requires her intervention, she worries about personal jeopardy. Her uncle reminds her that God brought her into power “for such a time as this.”
No matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter what you have suffered, God has brought you to the perfect station to intervene and impact souls for Christ. Don’t be discouraged or discount your potential. God has you where He wants you with a plan to use you greatly.
This is sometimes important to remember in our Christian life. Especially when things aren’t going well.
In the first half of Lighthouse Christian Academy‘s loss to The Rock Academy of Point Loma on Sept. 4, Tex Hagoski played well.
In the second half, Tex played like Attila the Hun. He scored the Saints’ only touchdown and converted, smashing and spinning his way mercilessly through four defenders to fall across the End Zone line.
The Saints were simply outgunned. For 10 years, the Warriors were in the much more taxing 11-man league. But they voluntarily descended to 8-man football this year, and the they brought with them overwhelming experience. The Saints lost 8-42 on the San Diego gridiron.
Tex’s runs and tackles were a Lighthouse signature. By coaches’ estimates, he carried the ball for 170 yards, made 10 solo tackles and joined five group tackles. It was his reception on a gun sprint pass that brought respectability to the Saints’ loss. Read the rest of the article: Santa Monica private school.
The US Women’s National Team has slogged through its world cup, scraping out scrappy victories. Their play was lackluster. They looked toothless particularly on attack.
Then whamo! Out of nowhere, they send Germany home with a command performance. Yesterday the women of red, white and blue picked their opponents’ pockets. Yes there were two bad ref calls that favored the U.S., but they were by far the superior team.
Pundits credit a formation change-up from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3. But also each player was nearly perfect. Gone were the individual blunders of prior games.
They had been improving game after game. And when they needed it most against their toughest opponent, they conjured mastery of the game. They won 2-0.
This is a key to life: Keep improving. Keep working to do better. Keep eliminating errors.
Useless is the team that defends well, keeps possession, gets to goal, but then can’t put the ball in the net. Every team has the need for a strong finisher, someone who consistently strikes on target, someone who bamboozles the goalie.
The finisher may not dribble well, may not pass well, may not have great stamina. That’s not his job. His is to finish all the work up to the goal.
As Christians, we need to be strong finishers. It’s useless to a meteoric rise, a glorious carrying forth, only to die out at the end. God help me to be a strong finisher.
Eddie let it be known constantly how much he resented everything. That he had to play soccer, had to go to practice. That I asked him to learn to kick with his insole or to run. As a park coach, I had to be patient and incorporate him.
Occasionally, Eddie kicked the ball in the right direction in games. I wouldn’t call him a game-changer. I got the idea that he didn’t even like the game — or maybe any sports.
Just cheap plastic spray-painted gold color, but it was a veritable treasure for Eddie.
Are you living life for life’s sake or only interested in the fool’s gold to be had along the way? The saying goes: The one with the most toys at the end, wins.
But at the end, you’re dead and can’t enjoy your many toys. Will you be ready to meet your Maker?
Play soccer for soccer’s sake, not for a dust-gathering shelf occupant. Live life for life’s sake, not for the shiny veneer of “prizes” that many are obsessed with. Enjoy life more than the trappings.
Joy Womack could have resigned herself to failure when she was kicked out of the renowned Kirov Academy at age 13. They cited her inflexibility and predicted failure for her.
But Joy didn’t give up. Today the 19-year-old is the first American ever to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy — and the first American to be contracted by the Bolshoi professionally. (Ok, so she wasn’t good enough for Kirov? Now, she’s winning roles traditionally reserved for Russians at the world’s preeminent ballet company, a reign of unquestioned dominance that has lasted for 200 years.)
Joy, a vibrant, Spirit-filled Christian, embodies her name. She got saved as a child and attended our church before her family moved to Texas. Her Twitter account says “I dance for Jesus.” She evangelizes everyone she meets.
I had scant conversation with her when she was a kid because I was a missionary in Guatemala when she was growing up in the church. But as I think about her overcoming failure, of her rejecting rejection, I’m inspired myself.
“She worked really, really hard,” her mom, Dr. Eleanor Womack, said. “She sought coaches and other techniques to improve her flexibility.” From the looks of the photo above, she’s not lacking flexibility anymore.
The video below was produced by the New York Times when they broke the story of Joy.
Thank you, Joy! (All photos are from Joy’s Facebook page)
Then-new L.A. Rams football coach Chuck Knox told his players that his squad would be 1) tougher, 2) smarter, and 3) in better condition. Walk-on Rob Scribner figured he wouldn’t make the team, but he tried out just to prove himself right.
But those words energized Scribner for what they omitted. They left out a key word in sports: “talent.” Scribner figured he lacked the raw talent for NFL level to make the team. But he knew he could work hard at being tougher and get in better condition. While other guys were out drinking, he’d be studying his plays to be smarter.
Lots of people have limitless talent. Not everybody is willing to roll up the sleeves, dig in and sweat a gallon. Too many pastors, leaders, and church members are set on cruise control. They’re lazy.
Too many are unwilling to log the hours in prayer or sacrifice their time in service. Is cleaning the church beneath you? Can you give up personal entertainment options to set yourself apart for His service. Do you want to charge the church for your expertise and talent? Are you getting “smarter” by reading your Bible?
Today Scribner is my pastor, at the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica. His phenomenal work ethic, his tenacity, his vision continue to inspire new generations of dragon-slayers. There’s genius in “just showing up” to rule the world, as they say.
LCA grad Casey McNamara bounced around five foster homes when she was a kid. During a 3-month stint back with mom, a 7-year-old Casey cared for her little siblings while mom abused meth and cocaine. “It was hell,” she said.
Casey gave her heart to Christ when she met her now-husband, Max, and enrolled in the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, CA, as a junior. She now teaches at the Lighthouse Church’s preschool. Expecting a baby next month, Casey has traded her nightmare for a fairy tale.
Casey had been forced to return to Mom by a judge who wanted to give the lady a chance to go straight. Instead, while mom was doing drugs, Casey and her 3-year-old sister were taken advantage of by men that her mom had brought home.
Casey pulled syringes out of her brother’s foot. Baths were optional, and she attended school little. Sometimes Mom locked the kids in a room while she fed her addiction. Three times, Casey and her siblings slept in a neighbor’s backyard while Mom partied.
“Dinner and breakfast was Lucky Charms,” Casey said in a live interview. “Taking care of my two younger half-siblings was like playing with life-sized dolls — it got old really fast.”
Eventually, school officials reported her truancies and poor hygiene to authorities, and the judge eventually granted adoption of Casey and her brother, Will, to the Mendelsons.
Though life became a dreamworld at the Mendelsons’ with a white-picket fence and a golden retriever, Casey fell into depression at age 14 because of all the emotional baggage she was carrying. Mean kids harassed her and called her “skinny.” She worried about her half-siblings and felt guilty for enjoying the Mendelsons.
“Why do I deserve a good life when my siblings can’t?” she wondered frequently. “I felt very alone, very empty. I was confused and angry.”
At one low moment, Casey contemplated suicide. But then she heard a male voice say, “TEACH.” It halted her suicidal thoughts, gave her a hope and ultimately led her to her current career. God was on the move in her life.
He began to move more when one day on the Promenade Max saw her. While Casey was hanging out with friends, Max McNamara was joking around with fellow Lighthouse students. He saw Casey from a distance and immediately announced to his buddies that here was the girl he was going to marry. He introduced himself.
One day soon after, Max was driving to football practice by chance on Casey’s street and saw her in her front yard raking leaves. He now knew where she lived.
For a few weeks, he would try to strike up conversations with her on Myspace social media website. Then one night, Max and his LCA pals were standing outside her window and threw pebbles against the pane to get her attention.
When she opened the window, Max asked her to hang out. She very nearly freaked out. “He seemed like a stalker,” she said. But talking to Max with some other buddies didn’t seem like a dangerous situation.
Married with Max
“That’s when I first laid eyes on Max,” Casey explained in an email. “The second I saw him I couldn’t turn away. He was different, different from any other boy I had met. There was a gentle spirit about him. That night on we were inseparable. We started talking on the phone, and he eventually met my parents. One thing I will never forget him telling me is that I would always be safe with him and that I would hurt no more. How right he was!”
Max invited her to Lighthouse plays and to revival services. Coming from a Catholic background, Casey at first looked for an excuse to back-out on the church services. But as she was stalling, she happened to see in the distance her younger brother drugged up, beat up and looking like a homeless man.
Right then and there, she resolved to NOT be like her mother. “I was going to break the family curse,” Casey said. “I was going to be someone different, I was going to change my life — if not for myself, for my siblings.”
She went to church that night and passed up to the altar. She was flooded with an unspeakable peace.
Next, she enrolled in Lighthouse high school, where she loved the sense of family. While she had met rejection in the public schools, at Lighthouse she was loved by all.
“The most important thing that Lighthouse taught me was forgiveness,” Casey said. She is looking forward to seeing her dad more next year when he gets out of prison. She is working on mending her relationship with her mom.
Her relationship deepened and progressed with Max. The couple was supported by staff and students as they maintained a formal and serious courtship. She graduated with honors in 2010 and came just short of her AA degree in child development at Santa Monica College.
She is currently working on her BA in Early Child Education and plans on getting my Master’s in Childhood and Adolescent Behavior and Development.
In 2012, Casey and Max were married. Ultrasound revealed their baby’s a girl. The happy ending is almost complete.
“I still have bad dreams,” Casey said. “But I have good support. I think I’m going to make it.” She can’t wait to see her biological dad and is working on the relationship with her biological mom, who has been clean for a year.
“I’m at a good place now in my life. I married the man of my dreams. I’m expecting my first child. I have the world’s GREATEST parents, I am working on my relationship with my birth mom and my birth dad, who has recently given his life to Christ and is being released next year from prison. God is good! ”
*** This article was originally published in the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s newsblog, which I edit. http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com/
It was written by a student, Alex Myles, a sophomore. She also blogs on wordpress under the name Wolfbane15.wordpress.com (or something like that!)
He is discouragement. I can’t seem to get rid of him. I constantly need to get rid of him.
Just because I constantly am trying to encourage others, doesn’t mean I’m free of discouragement myself. It is the contrary that is true: Because I struggle with discouragement that I try to help others. This helps me.
- Exercise and eat right.
- Get enough sleep.
- Avoid destructive behaviors.
- Flee drugs and alcohol only mask, don’t heal, the inner pain and fears. They make things worse.
- Prefer uplifting music. The lyrics affect your soul, whether or not you’re “listening.”
- Eschew movies and shows with morbid themes
- Feed on the Word of God.
- Surround yourself with people who can lift you up, not those who tear you down.
- Pray and ask God for help.
- Don’t pretend and pose.
- Don’t be afraid to get help.
As with any stalker, we don’t want to take discouragement lightly. He can do us great damage, and we need to take action.
My son, a freshman, who led our small high school’s varsity soccer team out of last place last year into fourth place this year, said this. I had no immediate response. The sheer profundity had to sink in slowly.
His response was to my urgings to see more leadership from him. His club team is losing. He scores goals, they lose anyway, he clams up. I told him to stop being such a nice guy, get in the face of his teammates and tell them to man up (they are afraid of the ball)*. I was completely unprepared for his answer. (You ought to listen to your teenager.)
It is hard to care when others don’t, when all around you is discouraging. Too true!
And yet this world needs desperately people who care — when it is hard. We need Christians who care when it seems like we are being overrun by the loud voices of hate. We need evangelizers when we get ignored, heckled, mocked. We need people not lulled into a false sense of security, hypnotized by the American good life.
Maybe the reason why we don’t pray more is not laziness. Maybe we just don’t care. We need to care enough for others to pray. Jesus viewed with multitude “moved to compassion.” The disciples viewed them as a nuisance, or as a means to an end.
It’s been a week, and I’m still trying to formulate a response to Robert. How can I get him to care for his soccer team?
*Don’t worry. None of his club teammates or teammates’ families read this blog.
In fitness, enthusiasts work towards the release of endorphins. In the junk food industry, processors add the perfect amount of sugar — called technically “bliss” point — to dazzle your taste buds and addict you like cocaine.
It’s your choice of pleasure — the easy, fattening road or the hard-work and sweat road that helps you live longer.
Such is Christianity. You either go for easy gratification that ultimately destroys your soul. Or you pray, read your Bible, resolve people issues and continue in church — and you get soul healthiness that is emotionally sensational!
As I browse blogs, I see so many that hover around the
metaphorical pillars of processed foods: sugar, salt and food. They rave about stuff that’s toxic to your heart. A few blogs take the high road and promote happiness through spiritual exercise.
What I talk about here is praying, praying more and experiencing the thrill of answered prayers. . If you’ve never felt this exhiliration, you’ve got to try it. But think of it like the gym. If you do just a little, the results may be a bit short. If you pour yourself into it, the results are — well, ripped.
My pastor, Rob Scribner, tried out for professional football to prove he couldn’t do it.
He just liked it. But he thought he wasn’t good enough. Because of hard work, he wound up on the team, playing for the then-LA Rams from 1973 to 1976. A lot of other guys didn’t even try out because they thought they wouldn’t make it.
Fear of failure is a major problem. Whatever you long to do but are afraid of doing, that is what you should do.
If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. — Thomas Edison
The explosion of “fantasy” — sports, Second Life, etc. — is illustrative. People want more but are afraid to live it.
Christian, when you overcome fear, you become dangerous to the devil.
But I don’t see the higher moral ground of not believing in God because it’s as easy as giving up — and there’s no heroism in surrendering. It is enough that the devil assails our faith constantly. It is enough that it is hard to muster faith in the midst of adversity. And then the intellectual world constantly bombards us with darts of discouragement.
It would be easy for me to give up, to give place to the negativity inside me, to cease from faith and blame God (called lack thereof). It is a struggle to believe for finances, for healing, for restoration. To me, struggling against unbelief is heroic. Losing faith is easy — sorry, no kudos for that.
If you are fighting for faith, you are my brother. If you are an atheist, you are my friend, but I don’t understand you.
For sixty years, Carmen Herrera painted without selling a single item. Then at 89 years of age, she cashed in her first painting. Now aged 95, she’s exploding in popularity and her paintings are fetching previously unimaginable prices. Critics speak of her as monumental, iconic of a Latin American minimalism.
In anonymity, she pursued her passion for decades. Among artists, failure is common. Supporters joke that her recent eclosion was orchestrated from above by her recently-deceased husband. At hearing such jests, she retorts peppery, “I worked really hard. Maybe it was me.”
Don’t feel like a failure. You’re just casting about for your legacy. The world may call you a failure, but YOU don’t have to accept any stigmas into your heart. It may take decades to strike gold, so keep digging. As attractive as the child prodigy is the story of the late bloomer.
Saints soccer continues to rock and roll.
The Lighthouse Christian Academy entered the Christmas break with its third victory – a scrappy 1-0 win against Wildwood. A handy piece of footwork by Junior Luis Secaira confounded defenders and stunned the goalie, who watched woefully as the ball slotted on the near post.
After the vacation, the Saints have simply been outgunned by vastly superior teams. They lost to league leaders Lennox 0-8 and to New Roads 0-7. To the uninitiated, the defeats appear to spell out an uncommon nosedive.
In reality, the team keeps improving. It’s just hard to take on varsity teams with mostly senior and club players when you have half a team of girls and players from all grades. How are freshman girls going to beat senior boys?
On Monday, the Saints put a thump on the slump. Facing the impeccable Vistamar, the Saints scored in the last minute. Midfielder Elijah “Taz” Symonds chipped from the corner to Freshman Rob Ashcraft, who didn’t err with an unusual karate kick in front of goal.
It was the first time in the history of LCA soccer that the Saints scored against Vistamar, whose players are groomed for soccer from the cradle. With that goal, Lighthouse sent a message that it will not succumb to defeatism. It is no longer the whipping boy of the league.
Though much progress needs to be made, LCA can revel in solid – though incremental — improvement and press on to a glorious future.
“We won!” quipped Junior Tori Scribner, comprehending the significance of the goal, in spite of losing 1-8.
Remaining for the Saints are only four games, and Coach Mike Ashcraft thinks we stand a good chance to win against Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes on Wednesday.
Whatever your stage in life, celebrate the small victories. They lead to big ones!
We lost Tuesday 8-0. We lost today 8-0. We are facing tougher teams; ours is absorbing injuries. Kids have skipped practices, and the results are manifest on the field. When Lighthouse Christian Academy tied our first soccer game, when won our second 9-2, when we won a
couple more, it was exciting, easy to want to play and put in the effort.
Now it is hard. Kids might want to bail out. But now is exactly the moment of character, the foundation of excellence. If we allow ourselves to become “losers” in our minds, then we will. If not, we will win again this season, and we will win next year!
The reality of life is that everyone loses more than wins. What you do when you lose makes you win.
Faith does not drag down with discouragement. It remains buoyant, hopeful, expectant of good. It persists. It constantly looks for the victory just around the corner.
Just ask George Washington. He lost seven successive battles but won the war. He was voted president of the newly formed United States of America. His revolution inspired freedom movements among colonies in both Americas (North and South).
Did he kick himself for mucking up when he became famous for retreating? Did he grovel with feelings of inadequacy? I don’t know. What I do know is that he continued fighting until he won. Place no time limits on God. If things don’t work out well now, they may later. Don’t despair, just keep plugging away!
Every time you fail, you’re one step closer to the formula of success!
I wanted to do a creative writing magazine in high school. One classmate told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. She didn’t believe in me. That piece of discouragement inspired me to carry out the project.
Every time I hit roadblocks and her got frustrated with lack of progress, her memory kicked in and gave me the energy to keep working. I had to prove wrong. Thanks for the demotivation!
Criticism hurts. But it can be turned into a help. The fact of the matter is doing good is taxing. It requires stick-to-it-iveness, boring hard work, and self-denial. What keeps you in the uphill battle? It could be someone encouraging you. And — strange as it may sound — it could be someone discouraging you.
The human psyche is marvelously complex. Downers can pump you up. You can pull-off a fantastic reversal. You can’t stop people from mouthing off. But you can turn their poison into your passion.
I was very happy to see my couple of poems featured in that magazine. So were other kids. I didn’t hear anymore from the girl who didn’t think I would finish it.
I am a great dramatist! But only in my own mind. I rehearse interactions with people over and over. I’m quite sardonic, tragic and full of pathos. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my rehearsals never come before a true-life audience.
Unfortunately, the majority of these rehearsals played in the theater of my mind are negative.
I’m venting bitterness. I’m being vindicated from all those who have insulted me. These incessantly replaying scenarios are unhealthy. Their product is discouragement.
When I get discouraged, I flatline.
I need to get victory over my
demons. The Bible says: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV. It is easy to succumb to disgruntles. It requires immense effort to keep optimism when surrounded by a howling storm of negativism.
The answer to the litany of complaints in your brain is NOT imagining dramatic conclusions. The answer is to silence them. Raise rank and disburse orders to shut up all the negative minions mocking you. You can gag the suckers, but it takes an active decision on your part. You must force them.
My friend goes into a beetle curl. A search engine optimization genius, he nonetheless has not met with financial success — yet. There are so many things he could do to promote his business that he doesn’t know which to do. Failure has hounded him. Worse of all, it hounds him in his mind. Depression descends on him, and he gets in bed, unable to move.
Yeah, I know exactly what he’s going through. I WAS a successful missionary. Not anymore. Now I can’t seem to hit the mark here in the United States. After 16 years of being out of the country, it would appear I am defunct. Sometimes, I just want to go into the beetle curl.
Here’s the lessons if you ever feel like that:
1) Keep doing right things, even though everything screams to you that it’s not working.
2) Find someone who can speak encouragement to you. Shut out negativity.
3) Confess positive words over yourself. Believe in yourself. (You might as well do it; no one else will do that in this pernicious world.) Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue. What you say about you becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy..
4) Drink coffee! No joking! Eat balanced diet. Exercise. Let sunlight in. Read uplifting material. Listen to uplifting music. Watch inspiring movies. Etc.
5) When all else fails, go ahead and go into the beetle curl. Sleep a bunch. Things will look better after rest!
You feel like an cornered animal. You want your parents to stop fighting, and there is nothing you can do. You want your husband to be the good father your kids need, and he continues unfaithful or abusive. You have cancer.
Americans love — no, need — to have everything under control. What do you do when life spins out of control? Frustration boils over. How do you keep sane in insane circumstances? How do you tolerate intolerable acts?
I was falsely accused by an extortionist in Guatemala. It was a “big bad gringo takes
advantage of a helpless Guatemalan” scenario. I was very much afraid I would be sent to jail, but since the accusations were utterly false, I would not capitulate to the extortion (If he pays $—-, I will drop the charges).
I fasted four days a week. I went to bed afraid the cops would come and get me. I woke up thinking the cops would pick me up.
Don’t run away screaming. Don’t cut your wrist. Don’t intern yourself in a mental institution. You need something to hold on to when your world tumbles down like the proverbial house of cards.
We Christians hold on to God. He is a friend and a lover. When everything you always wanted becomes everything you always feared, God will sustain you if you flee to him. You may be helpless to change unchangeable circumstances, but hopeless you are not.
Most are terrified to show their insecurities. They consume a nuclear power plant’s energy just trying to project supreme self confidence.
But because of their fears to be vulnerable, they have deficient relationships everywhere. Having a million “friends,” they don’t have one true friend with whom they can open up. This is especially true for men. This is worse in Los Angeles, where image counts more than substance.
Be secure enough to let your insecurities show — not with everyone, of course, but with a select few people with whom you want to share friendship. Be real.
Don’t try to prove your self confidence all the time. Don’t try to win every argument, always be right, always win, etc. Let somebody else be better. Be secure enough to accept another person’s gift.
I was something of a Christian cop. I actually believed it was my job to ease people back to the right path if they took one false step. I wasn’t really popular. More accurately, people were riled, and they almost expelled me from ministry.
I needed to change, to evolve, to retool. I didn’t need some computer-aided enhancements; I needed major plastic surgery.
Politicians reinvent themselves if they lose an election and reformulate for another try. It takes a lot of gut-wrenching soul-searching. Basically, you look at yourself and — instead of justifying your actions, which comes natural to everyone all the time — you look critically in the mirror. You take out a machete and begin hacking away. Then you CHANGE.
This metamorphosis makes every tissue in your soul shudder. This coming year — instead jotting down flimsy
Your marriage needs it. Your ministry. Your kids need to see a totally different you. Your boss is giving you just one last chance. You’re going to be responsible. Patient. Kind. Unselfish. Not angry. Whatever. You CAN do it.
Well, my popularity rating has shot up. I don’t think I’m the favorite person in the church, but I’m no longer the Mr Scowlface. I encourage you for 2013, make drastic change.
Even though I used to live in their mecca, the Mayan catastrophe yesterday failed to materialize. Now, would Roland Emmerich* please give everybody back their ticket money? We weren’t warned. We were swindled.
When crews widened the 405 FWY they shut it down for a full weekend in July 2011 and predicted traffic snarls all the way to Paris. Telling everyone to stay home, they said it would be “Carmaggedon.”
I had an outreach to drive to, and the freeways were entirely empty. The next day the newspapers stated that Angelinos, by NOT using their cars for the first time in their lives, had made the “ultimate sacrifice.”
I took exception to that. The “ultimate sacrifice” no one I know would be willing to make: to die for a friend maybe, but to die lovingly, givingly, for an enemy, who would? The Christ of Christmas did.
If you stockpiled food, water, gas and bullets for the much-vaunted Mayan cataclysm, give it to the poor (not the bullets). Because the real end of the world is coming, but it’s not Carmaggedon. It’s Armaggedon. What you’ll need most stockpiled is Jesus in your heart.
* Emmerich directed 2012, a special effects phenom that grossed $770 million. It was based on speculations of a Mayan Long Calendar-predicted apocalypse.
When I posted a challenge to the atheists, they responded with fury. They are a jolly group of friends, nice guys, all of them.
I have discovered that WordPress is a great place to make friends. I am impressed by the sincerity of people. Y’all are so heartfelt.
One of the things I enjoy with friends is sharing coffee. The Native Americans smoked the peace pipe. Some people share a beer. I savor coffee. It’s my way of bonding, a ritual for communicating how much I value the person.
Throughout 2012, I have had some wonderful conversations with you blogger friends. We have shared in struggles and triumphs, joys and depressions. But I’m afraid inviting you to coffee in Santa Monica would be seen as creepy, so have a coffee in wherever you are to friendship!
It’s easier to get freed from slavery than to free your mind from slavery. Just look at the 23 kajillion times the Israelite former slaves complained about being freed from slavery and wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt.
When you see that, you realize how extraordinary was the life of Booker T. Washington. He was born in slavery, but his mind soared far away from his oppressed beginnings to the launching of the black higher institution of learning Tuskegee Institute. He literally built it out of bricks of clay made by the first students.
Freed by the end of Civil War, Washington moved to West Virginia where he worked in salt furnaces and coal mines to cost his education. An indefatigable leader, he took the reins of the fledgling Tuskegee and drove it relentlessly into prominence. Thousands of blacks, who were refused admittance at “white” institutions, graduated from Tuskegee.
A dynamic orator, resourceful, a master deal-maker, Washington wheedled and cajoled finances and genius for his institution. The stand-out scientist George Washington Carver was persuaded to join Tuskegee and, when Thomas Edison would entice him away, to stay.
To overcome insurmountable odds, to triumph through wit, wisdom and work, to line up allies and disarm enemies all in the service of a greater cause, this is the remarkable legacy of the man who remains an inspiration for generations. To live only for self is such a waste when you could do so much good.
Muscle loss results from poor nutrition and disuse. Deprived of regular physical exertion, your bulk dwindles. Christians wish for a life without trials, but the result would be smaller spiritual muscles. So God ensures muscle growth, often through trials.
Feed on the Word of God and insist on growing in the Lord; get out of your church comfort zone and take on new spiritual challenges, projects and goals. Those who dwell in your house go from strength to strength. — Psalm 84:4a, 7a NIV.
When we kicked prayer out of school, we kicked out God. It’s no surprise that the devil showed up instead.
What I don’t understand is: if the atheists hail every extraction of God from our society, when they have succeeded in taking Him from people’s minds, then why do they blame God for
My heart grieves for the Connecticut school, and for Virginia Tech, and for Columbine, and for the ever more frequent, ever worsening list of massacres. Our intelligence agencies work feverishly to “connect the dots” to thwart terrorist plots, but we refuse to “connect the dots” about the direction of our society.
Forgive me this post. But I am so distressed, I wish to call people everywhere to turn to God. Our nation will NOT improve until we find Him again.
Pacoima was the city of Edgar’s downward spiral. It was there at age 13 he was arrested, high on PCP, trying to steal a car. It was there he was in-and-out-of jail until age 26. He got “two strikes” and under California law teetered on brink of life imprisonment. When he got out of jail, the specter of succumbing to his old life in this deathtrap of a city made Edgar shudder.
On Saturday, Edgar Cervantes went back to Pacoima. He went to tell others about the wonders of Jesus. For seven years, he’s been off drugs, away from alcohol, out of crime. He has outreached for Jesus in many
places, but this was different. This is where the devil had waylaid him. This time Edgar went home get revenge on the devil.
There’s a pioneer church here so small they use a park childcare center for services. (Ah the beauty of pioneering! Where just one soul turning to Christ from sin thrills the soul!)
After hours of passing out flyers and knocking on doors, only two souls came. One was Edgar’s brother. Another was a lady’s cousin. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. — Luke 15:7 NIV.
The place he feared became the place where the devil fears him. A place of defeat becomes a place of triumph. Only God can do this.
The purpose of trials is to build your faith.
To lead you to depend more on God.
Sadly, many instead lose their faith at this point. And they decide life is arbitrary, that there is no justice, no overarching design nor control, no
providence. Life is meaningless, they say. (Yet they still try to imbue it with meaning.)
Go back to God again and again until your trial turns to triumph.
Rene Descartes said cognition makes the man: “I think; therefore, I am.” Mouse in The Matrix defined the essence of man as his fleshly impulses. Researchers of the brain tend to reduce such complexities as love to electrical/chemical reactions in certain regions of the brain.
The “essence” of man is none of these. His essence is “doubt.”
It is easier to doubt than believe. In many circles, doubting is seen as sophisticated. The pessimist is congratulated for his superior view of reality. Scoffers are popular. The human being becomes so easily discouraged. Feeding doubt comes natural.
George Washington lost seven consecutive battles before he scored his first victory, on a Christmas day when he surprised the celebrating (drunk) enemies. Thank God there were people who believed in (his superiors and his subordinates) enough to support him.
Hanukkah is a holiday remembering the dedication of the temple after the Barbarians had desecrated it. Let us honor this season by “dedicating” ourselves to believe more in God. Victory comes only to those who believe. To achieve anything worthwhile, you must believe.
Even I struggle to overcome doubt. What helps me? Christian friends and fellowship, hearing testimonies of what God has done, reminding myself of miracles, reading the Bible, praying. Neglect a bit the hubbub of Christmas and get alone with God. May the time we use to praise Him for His birth be not so much a time of commercialism but of faith-building.
In fact, I wonder why so many Christian leaders are actively seeking promotion to get out of day-to-day, gritty, face-to-face discipleship. Maybe, they want acclaim over the hard-but-rewarding work of forming disciples. Even when I was “general pastor” in the Guatemalan churches and K-12 school, I taught 5th and 6th grade. Why? Because it kept me close to disciples.
Jesus ministered to the masses but discipled the dozen. It appears to me that a lot of Christian leaders just want the hoopla of the masses. It may be more gratifying, but the masses did NOT carry on the work after His ascension. It was the 12.
Now, I’m not a higher-up, and I’m loving it. I teach high schoolers. It is sheer joy to see some escape the headlong rush to Hell. It fills me with unending satisfaction see some decide to serve Jesus. However small my part, I know that I am doing what God wants.
At least not with prayer. Our whole American outlook is results come in proportion to work. But after years of arduous labor on the mission field with little to show for it, I was ready to try prayer.
Don’t get me wrong. I always prayed. But when I really started to prayer, longer, more earnestly, less perfunctorily, then things took off. We got a building. Ministry multiplied. It took me basically a decade to learn to desist from so much of MY labors and allow God to do HIS labors. Prayer is the key if you don’t want to be spinning your wheels.
Americans view the world like muscle-building. The harder you work, the more cut the six-pack. That’s why prayer is counterintuitive. You get results without working — only by praying. I’m not saying you stop outreach altogether and close yourself up in your church and commune with God. What I am saying is you can do less human activity if you get more divine activity going.
Jesus didn’t only outreach. He spent entire nights just praying.
People are congratulating “my” 9-2 win last night. I just shrug. The truth is that “I” didn’t win with Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer.
The AD did.
The AD — Athletics Director, for those who don’t know the lingo — won the game. She scheduled it.
Pretty much all I did was shuffle our lineup so as to NOT score any more goals. In the first 20 minutes — one-fourth of the game — we had made 7 goals. So to lessen the humiliation for the other team, I pulled off good players and threw on beginners. I pulled attackers back into defense.
The lopsided victory was no coaching genius. It was guaranteed even before we started simply because we had superior players.
It felt like the gospel. God as AD schedules us trials that we are destined to win. We may celebrate on the field, but it was God who ordained everything to begin with.
To be sure, God schedules defeats for us too. To teach us humility, patience, effort, dependence on Him, etc.
You can have your cosmovision of universal randomness. I like being a Christian.