Category Archives: ministerial motivation

Somebody has to die

rogue-one-deaths

I was shocked and pleased when Disney killed Hans Solo. I would’ve thought they lacked the guts to kill off such a beloved hero. But it made the plot 100 times more credible and compelling.

Now in Rogue One, Disney (spoiler alert) decimated all the good guys. They all had to sacrifice their lives to get the plans out of the Death Star to expose its structural weakness that could be exploited to destroy it. This is the backstory to the first Star Wars film.

landscape-1470743574-rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-donnie-yen-600x400Such willingness to script stars out of the franchise reflects reality and distances Disney from its sanitized fable fodder (and everyone lived happily ever after). Without sacrifice, nothing of good is accomplished.

Jesus sacrificed Himself. I’m sure He really didn’t want to go to the cross, but He did — and thank God for it. I would never find salvation under the impossible Old Testament system of animal sacrifice for every sin. Yup, me, hell-bound.

rogue-one-crew-posterSo this sacrifice stuff is inspirational, if not tidy. It might your tyke cry. But it teaches a valuable lesson. When I went down to Guatemala, I endured innumerable dangers and hardships — all to get the gospel to a needy people. Today’s Christians are too self-focused, too self-serving, too self-pleasing. Oh, they’ll throw a prayer and an offering (out of their excess cash) at world missions. But most of the time, they’re looking to minimalize personal discomfort.

In Rogue One, a lot of the characters excused themselves from the battle. They wimped out. That’s why the heroes called themselves “rogues.” They went against the council’s command to retreat in fear.

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Concentration level: sensei

SAMSUNG CSC

What you focus on most is where you will succeed. A lot of my friends have turned to money from ministry. Ministry is now only an accessory added to the outfit. I can’t blame them. Everybody is obsessed with money over here in Santa Monica. Even I tried to join the lemmings. But the strange thing is that no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t make any money. Maybe that was a good thing because it has brought me back to realizing what God has for me as most important: ministry.

I was remembering the other day: My wife fell in love with me for my passion for ministry. Why did  I even bother to try my hand at business? First things first: concentrate on expanding God’s kingdom.

A hearty thank you to all my blog friends who prayed for my Bible study. An entire family came yesterday! Praise the Lord! The #ValleyBoyPastor is gonna try to keep his concentration on priorities.

Um yeah, I don’t really concentrate that much on pizza.

Motivation

IMG_0120People 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.

Anonymous ministers

anonymousWhen I was head pastor, I romanticized being an anonymous servant. I even prayed to be one.

Then I became pretty much an anonymous member of the church. No more high-flying ministry. Honestly, I didn’t like it too much.

God had to remind that I had prayed to become anonymous. If you’re not on the kudos list here on Earth, don’t despair. Just praise Jesus because you’ll be getting your reward in Heaven.

Wimpy blog

 

Wow! Today in church the pastor was really inspiring! He was talking about heroes of the Bible and how they did great things for God. How they used faith to take on giants and false prophets and evil emperors. I really felt like God spoke to me. I even went up to the altar and asked Him to use me.

So today, I’m going to pray that I, too, will stop being the ho-hum Christian and go out in the world and conquer and triumph! With all this Holy Spirit energy, I’m ready to fulfill my purpose in life: I’m going to get the high score on Modern Warfare III.

 

Prayer is unamerican

 

The soul of America is do-it-yourself. From the pioneers to the engineers, from the entrepreneurs to the politicians, the self-made man is the highest ideal. Rambo personifies the one-against-all, triumph-by-my-own-resources mentality. In the 1800s Horatio Alger Jr. promoted the “rags to riches” storyline in his popular novels, always of a character who was amply rewarded for his self-reliance and hard work. Whether it be defeating infectious diseases or inventing military drones to bomb terrorists, Americans know we can do it all — by ourselves.

No wonder prayer enjoys such small popularity: its essence is to rely on God. Throughout the classroom, the media and circles of friends, we are told directly and indirectly to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Then in church, we are told to let God pull ourselves up. Depending on another — even if that other is God — runs contrary to our common sense.

Consider the marvels of prayer! How much do you depend on yourself? How much on God? Chuck Colson, President Nixon‘s hatchet man, was shocked when he read the Bible for himself and discovered that his favorite “verse” actually is NOT in the Bible: “God helps those who help themselves.”

People who live off of handouts get scorned. But what about if the handout is from God?

 

Heights of slavery

Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter your educational level, the economic level of your city, how supportive your spouse is, what side of the railroads tracks your on, or even what color of pajamas you wear at sleepy time. God can prosper you irregardless.

The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master — Gen. 39:2 NIV. Joseph prospered in SLAVERY. (I doubt your circumstances are so bad.) The key was God, not all the accouterments that we commonly attribute to success.

Since God is no respecter of persons, anyone can have Him. You just need knees. In other words, bend your knee to cry out to God in prayer. God can prosper you anywhere, anytime, anyhow, anyway, any whatever. If it hasn’t happened yet, just keep praying. It will.

If a slave could fly high, so can you! God can bring lushness to the most unlikely of places!

Amazing Granada

Granada at night

Granada is the most enchanting place. The Alhambra citadel complex with vast gardens and huge medieval structures graces this Southern city in Spain. It was here that I first met Europe. It was here also that God taught me about prayer.

As a penny-pinching missionary, I never thought I

Part of the Alhambra complex

could visit the Old Continent. By preaching for Bro. Gregorio Ponce, I got housing, transportation, and tour for free. There I saw Carlos V’s palace, a circular structure with an amazing echo when you’re in the exact middle.

There I learned once again how to pray. You see, I was worried. For some reason, I feared that

Part of the Alhambra complex

while I was cavorting in Spain, my church back in Guatemala would go to pot. So I prayed like crazy. When I got back to my church, it was better than ever. Not only had it not crumbled from within, it had blossomed in my absence.

So I didn’t need to be there in person because God was there in person. His Holy Spirit was tending the sheep in my absence. All I did was pray. Prayer is amazing stuff. You can accomplish much more with prayer than you can with your own strength.

Carlos V’s palace

I cherish the memories of Granada — the beauty of the city AND the beauty of prayer.

George Washington Carver

Liberated from slavery when he was only a tyke, George Washington Carver slept in a barn to get an education. He was denied entrance into several colleges because he was African American but eventually graduated in botany from Iowa State Agricultural College. He was the first black student and, because of his brilliance, first black faculty.

The national monument

But he transferred to the Tuskegee Institute, to help other struggling African Americans, where he stayed for 47 years, developing a strong agricultural department. Seeing the soil depletion of cotton, he urged farmers to rotate crops and developed hundreds of uses for the peanut, which up until then was employed only to fatten pigs. (Thanks to Carver, we have peanut butter!)

The stamp honoring him

A devout Christian, he preached Christ as mediator of racial harmony and social equality. He was inducted into the Royal Society of Arts in England, one of only a few Americans to be bestowed that honor. He was consulted by three presidents and car-maker Henry Ford. In Diamond, Missouri, stands a monument in his honor.

He is an inspiration not only to African Americans, but to anyone who must overcome immense opposition to do

Being in his laboratory, what he loved most

good and attain heights. By patient hard work, achieve your God-given destiny. Don´t  be dismayed by setbacks.

From panic to FUN!

If you have ever spearheaded a major undertaking in a church, you have felt panic. It hits you at some point, probably close to the stage call, when it occurs to you that everything, instead of coming together, is falling apart. You fear being disgraced, being a laughingstock.

I just mounted a July 4 parade for our church, with a marching band, choreographed elements with Chinese ribbons, and even a flying bald eagle in the style of the Chinese dragon run by four men. More than once, I experienced the sinking feeling.

But on Independence Day, God was faithful, as He always is, to make it a success. We had a blast! There is nothing better than serving God.

So don’t panic. Trust, pray, do big things for God. Don’t make serving God boring by scaling back your vision and just staying with what is familiar and “safe.” Dream big and dare to carry it out.

Discipline: Unleash your potential

There are two kinds of discipline: 1) self imposed, 2) imposed by others. The second is virtually useless. The teacher, coach, parent, judge punishes the infractor, who supposedly repents and redirects his life. Instead, he resents and seethes.

But the first is the maker of every greatness: athletes, inventors, successful people, ministry leaders. We may be saved by grace through no self work, but we become heroes through much work. We advance God’s kingdom through much work.

Don’t wait for God to discipline you. It will be unpleasant. Discipline yourself. Salvation is free and easy. But doing good and getting blessings from are the product of effort. Without self-discipline incalculable potential is only wasted. Unleash your dynamism today. People will marvel at your impact. You’re destined for greatness but it remains unseen because of lack of discipline.

Discipline yourself to pray. Discipline yourself to Bible study, to church attendance, to fellowship.

Without discipline, Joseph’s dreams would have remained only dreams. Without discipline, Elijah’s vision for apostate Israel never would have sparked revival. I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. — 1 Cor. 9:27 NIV.

… and I would have missed the blessing

Founding a Christian school in Guatemala was soooooooo hard. Frequently, I muttered: Had I known at the start, I would never have tried. And sometimes I thought: God, you tricked me into this. I thought it would be easier.

But once it was started, it wasn´t easy to end. So on I went, dealing with grief from the Education Department, grief from ungrateful parents, grief from false accusations. Ugh!

Then God brusquely moved me out of Guatemala. I handed off leadership baton. Since, I have visited, and NOW my greatest joy is to see all the kids who have a strong Christian school, a hope to escape the hopelessness. Had I never tried, I would have missed one of the greatest blessings of my life.

Maybe you´re going through it today in ministry. Don´t hand the mantle back to Elijah. Stick with it. If you give up today, you´ll opt for an easy out of the grief of difficulties. At the same time, you may deprive yourself of your life´s great satisfaction.

The failure club and ministry

Morgan Spurlock‘s The Failure Club is a stroke of genius. This web-based program features New Yorkers deliberating trying to fail. In repeatedly failing at their biggest unfulfilled dream, they eventually hit success.

If you aim to fail, you lower expectations. You eliminate paralyzing fear of failure. You allow yourself the freedom to experiment and practice. You stop wasting time in distracting ventures and pursue your truest dream. You stop fantasizing success and actually pursue it. You don’t get discouraged because your stated goal is to fail.

The inspiring program is an inverted formula for faith. You should watch it on Yahoo (it appears every Friday at 1 p.m., but you can watch old episodes). It teaches you to have faith (in yourself). We Christians take it step further to have faith in God. Because if you don’t risk, you won’t achieve anything.

What has God called you to do but you aren’t doing because it is too grandiose? It doesn’t have a “secure” future? You could flop hugely and become humiliated?

Do that.

Go ahead. Don’t be afraid to fail. So Gideon attacked the vast enemy army. David took on Goliath. Abraham left his homeland. Moses accepted ministry. Joseph received Mary as his wife. Etc., etc., etc. Passage after passage of the Bible, it’s the same story: people gambled everything, risking utter failure, to do something for God — and in the process became heroes.

Spurlock was $250,000 in debt, sleeping at the office because he lost his home, when he decided to risk yet again and do one more movie. His docudrama Supersize me, unflattering to McDonald’s, of 2004 became a huge success.

Are you praying prayers that are too small? Are you limiting your course of action to a safe and familiar zone?

Gates of hell

The first white explorer to observe the stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon scowled. “It looks like the gates of Hell,” said Lt. John Christmas Ives. “Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality.”
Boy was he wrong! Today millions each year marvel at the jaw-dropping cathedral gorges that grace the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Five miles wide, one mile deep, and over 250 miles long, this spectacular geological showcase is now catalogued as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
There is spectacular beauty  in your ministry that others fail to observe. There is pricelessness that others don’t appreciate. Don’t fear it others get it wrong. Enjoy what God has given you and continue to exploit the natural resources that you have for His benefit.
If others frown just because you don’t run after the god of money, don’t listen to them! Continue laboring happily and enjoy the pristine grandeur of His service! Pay no attention to what others fail to see.

Always traveling towards

My complaint with The Lord of the Rings is that they’re always traveling towards and never arriving at. In the first book, The Hobbit, the last battle with the Big Bad Dragon is anticlimatic. Every other battle along the way is much more exciting.

Upon reflection, however, this is the way ministry is. We are always traveling towards revival, and few of us actually every arrive at it. Tolkien’s journey genre is an accurate reflection of ministry.

You’re in a journey. People join your ministry, people leave your ministry. Sometimes, it moves forwards, sometimes backwards. There are discouragements and incomparable satisfactions that make it all worth while. I’ve learned to not despise the journey. It is long. But it is an adventure.

Worse off are the people who only live for money. They have no adventure, no conflict with the forces of darkness to wrest souls free for the kingdom of God. No matter how small your ministry is, it is vested with dignity and glorious triumph. God is pleased with your battle, your battling.

From 40 days to 40 years

It should’ve taken 40 days to traverse the wasteland from Egypt to the Promised Land, but instead it took 40 years for the Israelites. A lack of GPS was not the problem. The problem? Grumbling.

Grumbling and ministry are a noxious blend. Because of grumbling, the Israelites ticked off God so bad He punished them, sent plagues on them, swallowed some of them up in the Earth, and finally sent them back into the desert for 40 years.

Their grumbling may have been justifiable. They were formerly slaves, so their education and cultural level was low. They behaved like what they were, not what God had made them. They refused to release their clutch on the past. So we make a case for comprehension.

Be that as it may, the bottom line is that their grumbling derailed them from the destiny. No matter how justified you feel for grumbling, don’t do it. You could get stuck in the desert.

Gone fishing

Hosea

When the going gets tough, the tough go fishing. JK.

No, what I really want to talk about is CATCHING fish. I took my kids fishing for the first time at June Lake in the Eastern Sierras of California. They learned what fishing truly is: we didn’t catch a thing. I think they thought it was like in the cartoons: as soon as put the baited hook in the water, you pull out a beauty.

Robert

My kids got frustrated. Hosea said he never wanted to fish again in his life. Robert prayed and made vows to God. Rebekah was bored out of her mind and complained.

I laughed. Admittedly, I’m not the ace angler. But I know that fishing sometimes can be like that. You just enjoy the splendor of the surroundings and tranquility of the lake. You eat tuna back at camp (because you didn’t catch trout).

Rebekah

There’s a lesson for ministry in this. Sometimes you’re not catching (Remember the “fishers of men” parable?). Even in times of dryness, of frustration, of apparent stagnation, it’s still more glorious than secular work. So don’t throw your bait into the lake. Don’t drive down the mountain cursing. Hang in there. The more you fish, the better you get. Sooner or later, you’ll not be just enjoying the scenery.

God’s investment

Manchester City hadn’t won a national championship for 44 years. That’s a loooooong time. But this underdog English team just flouted critics and one-upped their overbearing, always-winning neighbors, Manchester United. I’m not a City fan, but I like people beating the odds.

Their victory was purchased at a high price. Oil-rich owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan dished out an estimated $2 billion to assemble some of the best players in the world on his new team. It’s the new reality of soccer. Whoever pays most, wins.

But the most interesting thing about this is the comparison to the Kingdom of God. Because our Heavenly Father bought us for His team too. And His purchase was for extremely much more than $2 billion. It was the blood of His one and only Son. Think about it, if you have undiminishable riches, then any price is nothing. But then if you have only one son, that’s going to hurt you to fork over.

So you have been bought with a HIGH PRICE. And you are part of God’s winning team. Live inspired today, tomorrow and forever. Let this knowledge motivate you to minister your “utmost for His highest.”

When underdogs win

When plaudits say “improbable” and “underdog,” they’ve grabbed my attention. Chelsea won the European Champions League for the first time ever a few days ago against a powerful foe. No one expected them to win against the talented Bayern Munich, which man-for-man outgunned the Blues.

I feel elated. I almost always root for the unfavored. That’s because we Christians — and our ministries — are always facing a daunting uphill struggle. The world has flush budgets and flashy pizazz. It’s hard for us to compete.

In the case of Chelsea, they exploited their defensive toughness to hold on through wave after wave of attacks. With just minutes to the final whistle, Bayern finally shot a torpedo that would sink Chelsea. It was what everybody expected.

But Chelsea didn’t sink. They remained buoyant. A corner kick and a header from Didier Drogba resulted in a tie score. When extra time couldn’t resolve the deadlock, the game fell to penalties. Chelsea’s ace goalie prevailed. While the favored were crushed, the underdogs could pride themselves with satisfaction.

No matter what the odds are, we Christians win in the end. Hold tight to faith as you battle in your ministry. Don’t allow that sinking feeling to sink your ship. God will bring the corner kick that will lead you to overtime, and you will prevail in the end.

From losing to winning

When you’ve got a winning team, it’s easy to keep it up. When you’ve got a losing team, it’s easy to keep losing. But how do you go from losing to winning? This is one the most difficult feats. Probably 98% of ministers and businesses would like the answer.

Too many books promising success are written by successful people! They promise the secret to success but, in fact, often miss it themselves because, as I said, once you have success, it’s too easy to maintain. Those who enjoy success don’t really know what the key is. They just enjoy it. They write books without knowing. We think they know, but they don’t. We buy the book looking for the key and don’t find the key. Not enough has been written about turnarounds.

I had a winning team in soccer. At the same time, I was coaching a losing team. With the losing team, we worked the defensive line so hard that they actually starting blunting the opponents’ attacks. And the team started winning!

Two secrets: Identify what is deficient and work on that until it is corrected. Secondly, as Jim Collins says, remember that the worst enemy of “excellent” is “good” — not “bad.” In other words, if you are doing good, it is too easy to congratulate yourself and desist from improvement. Break up your status quo and don’t settle for anything less than “excellent.”

As Christian leader, a good place to start changing may be prayer. How much time do you pray? What is the intensity of your prayers? It’s not some marketing trick or cutting-edge ministry that’s going to draw in people. It’s God. So a back-to-the-basics approach may be best. Of course, I can’t address every situation in this short blog. But I can address the heart of a leader who longs for greater things. Keep longing, because that is part of the solution. Pray and let God guide you to the solution.

From reviled to revered

The Tuskegee fighter pilots were, initially, despised for being black. But as their escort missions saved bomber crews over Germany, they became greatly appreciated. At first, black pilots would be kicked out of officers’ clubs. Soon enough, the white bomber crews invited them to the drinks.

The airmen and their support crews are a lesson in perseverance. They won a hardfought victory, not only to stamp out Nazi oppression, but also to stamp out racist oppression.

Be a hero. You’re in ministry. At times, you are despised, unappreciated, unapplauded. Though no one thanks you, God does. Not a sparrow falls outside of His knowledge. So too, everything you do — EVERYTHING — is being filmed by the camera in the sky. Every time you clean the church bathroom. Every time you pray, and no one else comes to prayer. Every time, you forgo a treat to scrimp on behalf of church finances. It ALL gets a reward.

There were times when the Tuskegee Airmen bristled under official racism. They were tempted to quit. Why put your life on the line when you’re overlooked and even despised? But they remained faithful to their mission. And they wrought a great advance for the cause in World War II and for the cause of equality. Today applause thunders for them, tomorrow for your selfless sacrifice.

Surprise!

I make plans for God. I pray for Him to do what I want, when I want. Then He does something totally different, and it’s always much better. It’s a miracle that I could not imagine. This pattern is Biblical: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — 1 Cor. 2:9 NIV

Go ahead and pray for the good things you want. But be prepared to wait for His timing. Be prepared for His answer, which may be very different — and inevitably better — than what you hoped for. We are praying to a God who surprises us. He pulls the most amazing things out of His hat.

Surprise me today, God. I bring before you my desperate needs. Don’t give me the answer I want. Give me the surprise You have for me. God´s surprise makes being a Christian a lot of fun! I imagine God our Father being very much like a loving earthly father, who is thrilled to see his son/daughter delighted by a surprise gift.

How Magic Mountain helped develop the Stealth Fighter

Very few people know this. Engineers at Lockheed’s secret projects Rye Canyon facility shot a radar at Magic Mountain’s Sky Tower, a rotating hexagonal compartment that ascends and descends for a panoramic view. The surprise? The tower was invisible to the radar.

And that is how engineers designed the Stealth Fighter with small flat triangular panels, all reflecting off into the atmosphere in different directions. If it had a rounded surface, the radar would pick it up.

You’ll be surprised what get when you shoot off into the heavens. When Lockheed engineers shot radar across the valley to the Valencia recreation park, they got something that could be incorporated into sophisticated military technology. When you shoot a prayer up to Heaven, God may give you more than you bargain for.

‘A hint from heaven’

As a Jew in Nazi-occupied Vienna, Victor Frankl knew the successive deportations would eventually target him. For a while, his profession as head of the neurological department of the Rothschild Hospital, afforded him a kind of temporary protection. Luckily, he got the visa to emigrate to the United States.

But he was thinking about leaving behind his parents. They would have no such escape. Should he flee to the States or stay with his parents? He waited for a “hint from Heaven.”

One day, he asked his dad about a chunk of marble. It was part of the rubble of the synagogue razed by the Nazis, his dad replied. In fact, it was part of the ten commands, he added. By chance, it was part of the fifth commandment: Honor your father and mother…”

This was Frankl´s awaited “hint.” He stayed in Vienna and was eventually deported to a concentration camp. He was one of the few who survived.

Being in ministry — choosing to live with less — requires uncommon courage. It is counter-intuitive; no one understands what you´re doing. Why not flee to the life of money and ease? But inspiration keeps you marching. A “hint from Heaven” is all you need to pursue your calling.

He refused to escape

Repeated times, friends urged Janusz Korczak  to escape before the Nazis deported him to a death camp. As an internationally famous author and intellectual, the Jewish pediatrician, head of a Warsaw orphanage, would get special treatment — if he wanted it.

But Janusz determined to stay with his charges, 192 Jewish orphans. When Nazis deported them to the Treblinka extermination camp, Janusz lied to the tykes. He told them to wear their finest clothes because they were going on a field trip. They filed out in pairs that August day of 1942. At the head, according to one observer, one kid played a violin. At the tail, Janusz carried a couple of the younger kids who were not so able to walk. They ignored their fate because Janusz didn´t want them to suffer crying.

For the kids, there was no hope. But Janusz could have saved himself. Urban legend holds it that an SS officer, who loved Janusz´s children´s book, urged him to flee to freedom. He refused. He would stay with his kids to the end — and die with them. This year, 2012, is 100 years since he opened his orphanage.

Janusz — for his kids — paid the ultimate price. What are you UNwilling to do — for God?

Your big fat godly dream

The first time Lou met Eugenia, she performed a funky one-woman show on open mike night at Venice’s Cow’s End. People politely applauded. Following her, an Andrew Dice Clay-would-be cut her up for being unfunny, unattractive and — um — unskinny.

Lou felt so bad for Eugenia that he approached her over coffee. “Hey, everybody has a bad night,” he said. But after being publicly humiliated, Eugenia wasn’t crying. “I’m doing this for me,” she responded.

From then on, Lou would wave at Eugenia, whenever he bumped into her around L.A. Then she performed her act at a major theater. Impressive, but Lou  didn’t think much would come of it. After all, Eugenia and her husband had financed the whole thing.

But something did come of it. By chance, Rita Wilson, Tom Hank’s wife, came to the theater one night. She liked it so much she decided to back a movie. It became the sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of highest-grossing independently produced films ever. Eugenia stage-named Nia Vardalous.

That night when Eugenia bombed at the Cow’s End, Lou remembers predicting success for another stand-up comedian, a cute redhead who brought the house down. The redhead was never seen again.

Never underestimate the power of persistently pursuing your dream. Believe in your dream; believe in God. Ignore the Andrew Dice Clay detractors around you.