Well, it’s not that easy…

broken heart

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

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

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

Jesus heals hearts. Cry out to Him.

Don’t give up today

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

Jesus is my gym partner

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

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

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

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

Look forward and insist on believing in success.

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

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

Everybody else is playing slo-mo: Messi the dangerous

Here’s some more Messi hyperbole: He’s a superhero. Worldclass players just aren’t as fast as him. He sees his way out of traps faster. He sees and sends through-balls faster. He cuts surgically faster. He curls in shots faster.

Lionel Messi led FC Barcelona to its second championship this season with two goals. The first was a solo goal that befuddles four (even six) defenders. That’s half the Atletic de Bilbao team. In the end, Barca dizzied their opponents to secure the King’s Cup, after clinching the league the previous week. Now the only thing keeping them from a triple-crown with the European Champion’s League next Saturday is the mighty Juventus from Italy.


Seriously, Messi makes top professionals look like clumsy kids.

What they say about a soccer player of his caliber is that he is always “dangerous.” That is, he is creating danger for the opposition (opportunities to score goals). He does things that no one else can. (Well, he hasn’t walked on water yet.)

When you pray, you’re being dangerous to the devil.

You’re either building muscle or losing it.

building muscle

Somewhere in middle age, you need to consciously build muscle. Otherwise, you’ll be losing it.

I’m 47. I go to the gym. I’ve found that going to the gym is great prevention: you either suffer at the gym or you suffer in the hospital later in life. I feel very healthy, young, vibrant.

What’s true for the body is true for your spirit. If you’re not building up your spirit with the Word of God, prayer, fellowship and active kingdom work, you’re atrophying spiritually.

*Image source: dromo.co/5-reasons-why-youre-not-seeing-results/

Is it worth it?

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

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

Teasing you to re-think your stereotypes

recitatif

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

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

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

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

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

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

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

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

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

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

For love of mom and dad

love of mom and dad

E-mail has not replaced knee-mail

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

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

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

You are too busy to NOT pray.

Image source: Buzzfeed

Man-pleasing

pizzaGod deliver me from a people-pleasing spirit.

Not everything is a blessing

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

Comic source: pinterest

God changes people

God's power to transform

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

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

Image from Pinterest.

Thank you, vet

vetI lived under fear. When criminals got our checkbook, I was afraid they would kidnap. So I hid at a friend’s house with my family until new passports could be issued. When I got on the plane in Guatemala, the burden of fear left. I was heading to a safe place. America.

I didn’t fight to keep America free and safe. I just enjoyed the benefits. Thank you, veteran, for fighting for us all.

And then there’s prayer

and then there's prayer

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

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

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

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

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

Privileged to have on staff a 20-year missionary

Christian school staff

With her brood on 50s day, Brenda Bowen, a missionary for 20 years in Africa.

With an art degree, she became a high-powered finance manager, then ditched it all to be a missionary’s wife in Africa for 20 years.

After so many unusual twists in her life, Brenda Bowen is now teaching 6th grade at the Lighthouse Church School.

Good thing she was a military brat. She got used to moving around.

Actually, it’s hard to describe Mrs. Bowen as a brat because she’s so loving, sweet and humble.

“Mrs. Bowen is really good at art, and she loooves to help kids,” said Ana D.,  her student. “She’s hip. She won’t yell at you. She’s very understanding. She knows when something is up, and she’ll do something positive about it. She’s a well-rounded teacher. She does tons of things. Just the other day we did clay.”

She never got her second degree in education because her father, a major in the Air Force, looked askance at perennial students. So with a bachelors degree from Southern Florida University, Mrs. Bowen landed a job with 1,000-employee Dun & Bradstreet’s Insurance. Read the rest of the story.

The most important thing for Christians…

evangelism

from gocomics.com

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

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

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

Nutella, where have you been all my life?

nutella

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

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

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

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

I’m still discovering delights here on Earth.

If everybody pitches in, we can do something BIG

lighthouse medical missions

Dr. Bob with the reason we all work so hard.

Dr. Bob Hamilton started medical missions in 1998. To fund these expensive ventures, he went from upscale to large-scale. When the high-end dinners didn’t work, he launched a walkathon around Santa Monica.

We just completed the seventh annual Walk to Africa. I and my family were a few of the 100 volunteers.

Walk to Africa walkathon | Santa Monica“It was not a home run; it was a grand slam,” pronounced Dr. Bob the next morning in church. “Lighthouse is a family. Scores of people came together in a phenomenal way. We go on display in the community. The event really does touch the community.”

My job was a cheer people on at the 6-mile mark, offer food, point out the bathroom, point out the right direction after they rested. I can take satisfaction in doing my all — just a small but integral part — in raising $115,590, over half the goal.

Walk to Africa

I’m the tall guy, with my wife, my son and a Chinese student holding the sign

My cousin called me the Energizer Bunny. I just want to see big things done for God. I don’t want to die not having spent my energies for Jesus.

Get involved in something bigger than yourself

Walk to Africa

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

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

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

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

Put your heart in His hands

fireyhands

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

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

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

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

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

But God wants you to go to Heaven

heaven or hell

It’s your choice, Heaven or Hell.

Extraordinary staff at Christian school Santa Monica

mrs cheeryAs she lay on her recovery bed at home, Lisa Clancy, a cancer survivor, realized she could help high schoolers.

“I heard the kids at the house talking about the troubles in high school,” she said. “I felt like God was telling me that this is where I could help. High school can be a tumultuous time for teenagers.”

Mrs. Clancy is a volunteer extraordinaire at Lighthouse Christian Academy. She does everything from answering phones to counseling kids. And the extraordinary thing is that kids actually confide in her. She’s a high standard for loving staff among Santa Monica Christian schools.

“She is always there for me when I need advice or a little cheering up,” said Lizzie Hofer, a junior. “I can talk to her about anything and not feel weird that she is my friend’s mom.”

Mrs. Clancy is mother to two Lighthouse students and one graduate. A native of Chicago, Mrs. Clancy and her husband moved to Santa Monica four years ago with their four boys.

Now she is teaching an elective that helps students to discover their strengths and plan a future career. It’s called Passion Present Purpose and with nine students meets twice a week for an hour and a half. To teenagers, the future can be daunting, but Mrs. Clancy helps break it down. Continuing reading.

The beauty of children

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

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

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

They are following you

dolphinsIs your example worth following?

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

Worth more than $5 million

He's worth more than $5 million.

He’s worth more than $5 million.

I’ve been overly anguished of late because my church, in dire arrears, is selling the property we purchased years ago for our high school, the Lighthouse Christian Academy. The property comprises three buildings and a yard; it has a double-story hall used by the high school, a church and a parsonage. The goal has been to keep the church a church in Santa Monica.

I’m appealing to all my blogging buddies to pray. This comes to a congregational vote May 20. I think we are behind in payments tens of thousands of dollars. We purchased the property for $2 million (something like that), and the sale price is $5 million.

The buyer won’t keep the church. One less church for Santa Monica. And, it seems to me, we are scaling back our commitment to Christian education. The high school will continue by packing the high school kids back in with the grade school and middle school kids at the main church building. We are past the eleventh hour.

She's worth more than $5 million

She’s worth more than $5 million

What disturbs me also is that the secular buyer has a backer with $5 million cash to pay for it. Why do the Christians NOT have someone who can splash the cash to get us caught up with the bank loan and keep this property for God’s use?

I’m breaking my genre here and appealing for prayer and funds. If you know anyone who could donate $1 million (sorry, I don’t know the real numbers because I’m not on the Church Council)  to keeping Christianity moving forward in Santa Monica, please contact me. Should I set up a gofundme account?

If you can give a $1 million, I can introduce you the reasons why you should give that money. There are almost 50 kids at Lighthouse Christian Academy, each of them a miracle of the power of God to transform lives, to rescue lives before they become totally destroyed. We have seen Lighthouse students become pastors and lawyers. We have seen lives be rescued out of gangs and other sins. To this ministry, I have dedicated my life. I teach here for free. My kids attend school here. I believe in this.

I can’t rule out the possibility that God would have something bigger for us in the future. But I also can’t get out of my mind that we’re not supposed to sell this property.

I wish I could give you the backstory behind these photos and tell you why these kids are worth more than $5 million each, but obviously I’m not at liberty to do so. They are stories of heartbreak and hope. You can find out more about Lighthouse Christian Academy by clicking here.

‘I knew him’ Phoenix pastor witnessed to Garland attacker at work and at mosque

Elton Simpson

Elton Simpson, who attacked a baiting free speech rally in Dallas.

Before the Islamist gunman stormed a free speech rally armed with an assault rifle, Phoenix Pastor John-Mark “Vocab Malone” Rieser witnessed to him regularly at the package delivery service where both worked.

“When I heard about the attack, I wasn’t surprised,” said Rieser, a teacher-pastor at Roosevelt Community Church. “He’d expressed admiration for jihad before. He had told me Osama Bin Ladin was a hero. I’m just saddened he did it. It’s sobering to think he’s facing God’s judgment right now. Was there anything I could have said or done differently that could have saved him?”

Elton Simpson and an accomplice were shot dead by a cop with a handgun in Dallas on Sunday as they attempted to attack a Mohammad cartoon-drawing convention, a deliberate provocation to Muslims who feel offended by artistic renditions of their prophet.

Vocab Malone

Pastor Vocab Malone

Rieser considered him a friend.

“Elton was not insane. Elton was not mean. Elton was not rude. Elton was not wild-eyed. Elton was not constantly angry. Elton never threatened me,” Rieser wrote on his blog, streetapologist.com. “Elton was calm, level-headed, smart, and studious. He was generally kind and well-mannered. Bright and articulate, he spoke smooth and easy. Elton was not a poor unwanted outcast; a down-and-outer he was not. Neither the simplistic narratives of the right or left work for him.”

While the two were friends, they both tried to convert each other.

“We had interactions about who Jesus was, what the Bible is, who Mohammad was, what the Koran is,” Rieser said. “I cared about his salvation, and I believe that in his mind he was concerned for me.” Read the rest of the article.

What makes extraordinary? Just a little extra

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

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

Photo from chicwithwords.

This profile is on Hosea’s first teacher when he came off the mission field

Editor’s note: I’ve always believed that “ordinary” people do “extraordinary” things in the common daily service rendered to our Lord. Here’s the charming story of a Southern teacher in Southern California at a Christian private school.

Lighthouse Church School | Santa Monica

Mrs. Cornett with her kids

Most cheerleaders lose their spunk as they grow older.

Not Patti Cornett, Lighthouse Church School‘s 3rd and 4th grade teacher, who is every bit as vivacious as when she was a high school cheerleader in the second half of the 1960s.

“Even when she’s in a bad mood, she forgets about it and is positive,” said third-grader Roxy Photenhauer, who appears to have imbibed her teacher’s enthusiasm. “She SUHCKS it up, and the rest of the day, she’s positive. She’s very forgiving, but she still disciplines us.” (Yes, I know that’s a gross misspelling, but that’s how Roxy said it.)

In addition to her buoyant charm, Mrs. Cornett is loved for her southern accent.

Here are some Mrs. Cornettisms:
Y’all better sit down now.
You better put that away or might get gone. (Translation: it might get stolen.)
Go and bowance the ball.

And being from the South, she calls her kids “Honey.” But she says it like this: Huh-nee.

She’ll call even grown men Huh-nee. It’s not a pickup line.

Or maybe she’ll call her students, Mah sweets. In Californian dialect: My sweet. (She’s lived in Southern California for 14 years and hasn’t picked up the lazy-lip deadpan, but her students, giggling, remind her daily to drop the drawl.) Read the rest.

She fell and still won


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

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

When you stop hating

Cristiano Ronaldo LA Galaxy

Ronaldo at right

I’m gonna have to stop hating Cristiano Ronaldo. He had everything for me to hate. He played for my team’s greatest rival, Real Madrid. He was so vain; he would always watch the replay. He bragged about how people were always envious of him because he’s so good.

But then he started to change. He donated money to help a kid with a surgery. He grew humbles, stopped watching himself on the replay in the stadium.

Then he announced he’s coming to the L.A. Galaxy, my city, when he retires from Spanish soccer. I’m gonna have to like him now.

Clubhouse burger McDonald'sI’ve found something I really like at McDonald’s. Ronald McDonald and crew always got my harshest rants against unhealthy food. But my dad took me there, so I couldn’t complain. And — surprise! — I liked the clubhouse hamburger. Uh-oh. No more bashing on the golden arches. They’re improving.

A lot of my friends hate God. It hurts my heart. But they really don’t hate God. They assume He doesn’t exist. What they hate are the mistakes of Christians. In many cases, what they hate is misrepresented stories and untruths about Christendom’s path. One friend went so far as to say that Christianity was a bloody religion. My, my, my. If only she knew the truth. True Christianity has eradicated bloodshed around the world. But there are many university professors who have nothing better to do than to misconstrue history.

Are you running from God, in pain from failure everywhere but insistent that the gospel is NOT the answer? With Cristiano Ronaldo, with McDonald’s, I’ve had to do an about face and like what I hated. You might be surprised about how wonderful God’s love truly is.

More exhilarating was worship


Part of coming off 16 years of the mission field means I have been able to dedicate more time to my kids. My youngest son, made three goals in one-fourth of a park soccer game. He was unstoppable. Opponents didn’t know how to defend against him. He never failed a shot.

For some reason, coach has put him on defense in previous games. In the meantime, Hosea has been training with a club team, on which he just was accepted. He’s getting fitter and sharper. Coach missed Sunday’s game, so an assistant tried him up front, and he was quickly deadly.

This was a huge thrill for me. To be able to see my kids play and succeed, to be a dad, is exhilarating.

Still, worship at the evening service was even more exhilarating.

How God looks down on us

God's heart

gif from dominique

To improve the father-son relationship

father-son relationship

The father-son relationship is a wonder: you wonder how to make it better.

I’ve been a lousy son. I’ve justified staying away from Dad because he stayed away from me when I was kid. Dad never went to a single ball game of mine when I was a kid. He never played with me. So when I grew up, I never visited him more than the perfunctory. I’m not avoiding him; I’m just busy.

That’s why I praise God he was put in the hospital. The health scare kicked-started a new dynamic for me: duty. I needed to visit him if for nothing more than to check up on him.

This has been good because a new communication is sprouting. Previously, my dad would talk only about what he liked and shut down any conversation on another topic. But now, he seems so grateful to have my company (my only brother is in Idaho and can’t visit him), that communication is becoming two way.

He seems to be moving beyond the same old discussions about TV shows: pro golf, tennis, Dancing with the Stars and Bachelor. He finally shared some of his experiences in Korea with the post WWII occupation troops and his experiences as a skunk works engineer at Lockheed. I’ve been able to mention a few things about God.

I have this picture posted on the wall in my kitchen where I write. He’s smiling because I cracked some forgotten joke just before I snapped it. Usually he has a curmudgeon face. I like this one better.

I’m trying to improve the father-son relationship. Maybe I’m not the only one it’s hard for. It’s worth it to try to improve. Don’t wait for a health scare to spend more time with your parents. They’re lonely. They need you.

Seeing potential

photo(5)Hosea and I are extremely happy. After being without a team for 1 1/2 years, he’s been accepted on to Autobahn Soccer Club based in Santa Monica. Club soccer is the highest level for kids. You’ll get the best training available.

In my unbiased opinion (keep in mind that I’m the dad), Hosea is something of a soccer genius. With ball in front of goal, his spontaneous tricks befuddle goalies. He’s got a baby face, but he plays like a tank.

But 1 1/2 years ago, another club wouldn’t have him. He made a few poor decisions. He lack fitness. He was heartbroken. So was I.

At the end of his tryout, Coach Herve saw some spark that he liked. He saw potential.

If you are in leadership in the church, do you dismiss the players God sends you. Do you dwell on their defects, their inferiority. If you are going to build a winning team, you’ll have to see what Jesus sees: potential. (Everybody has potential.) Develop it in your followers.

Envybook

envy

from gocomics.com

What is Facebook good for? Provoking envy, according to studies.

Why are we humans so prone to brag, show off and flaunt pride? This is sin.

Why are also vulnerable to feeling envy? Rom. 12:15 describes Christian character: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Feel good about another’s success/blessing. Feel compassion on another’s failure/suffering.

Compassion of the suffering is why Christians evangelize. Maybe what you’re suffering is envy. Come to Jesus.

Third Wave of Jews coming to Jesus now is in Israel

BanneringThe First Wave of Jews coming to Jesus hit in the 1970s in America. The Second Wave were Russian Jews in the 1990s. And now – in what some observers call a Third Wave – Jews in Israel are coming to faith in increasing numbers.

“I have never seen the breakthrough like we’re seeing now,” said Tuvya Zaretsky, chairman of the board for the Israel branch of Jews for Jesus. “We’re seeing a steady stream of Israelis who are coming to Jesus from all walks of life, though usually among the young. There seems to be a greater openness to spiritual input. We’re thinking it’s a Third Wave of in-gathering.”

In the 1990s, there were about 3,000 Messianic Jews in Israel; today there are as many as 20,000 (still less than 1% of the population), said Simon Stout, executive assistant of Jews for Jesus in Tel Aviv. Also, one source estimates 150 congregations of like-minded believers in Israel. Of Israel’s 84 cities and towns, 81 have at least one messianic Bible study. Read the rest of the story.

ISIS releases 200 women from sexual slavery, including a 9-year-old whose pregnant from her captors

Yazidi women (not necessarily related to the story)

Yazidi women (not necessarily related to the story)

A raped and pregnant 9-year-old girl is among 200 Yazidi captives released by Islamic State fighters in an attempt to demoralize their enemies in northwestern Iraq, the Star world news reported.

Since last summer when the Islamic State rampaged onto the world scene, its jihadists massacred the men and subjected women to rape, forced marriage, torture and enslavement. After eight months suffering barbarism, the women and girls have wandered back to their relatives. They are traumatized and humiliated.

The 9-year-old is the youngest victim, according to international workers at refugee camps.

“This girl is so young she could die if she delivers a baby,” aid worker Yousif Daoud told the Star. “Even a caesarian section is dangerous. The abuse she has suffered left her mentally and physically traumatized.”

[Editor’s Note: Please forgive the horrific content, but I include it because I wrote it for God Report’s and because awareness is part of the solution. To read the rest of the story, click here.

Saved from the mara salvatrucha

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

Mario, second from left, with the youth he now ministers to.

His fellow gang member thrust a pistol into his hand. Go ahead and kill the kid, he was instructed.

Wedged between the dangerous Mara Salvatrucha and the Dieciocho gangs in a neighborhood where even police feared to go, Mario Ajcip’s gang had successfully fended off rivals to keep their turf in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Guatemala City.

When a rival dared to make incursion into Mario’s neighborhood, there was only one gang-inflicted punishment — death. This time it was Mario´s turn to execute the cornered kid on the dark dirt alley.

Never shy to physically beat up a rival, Mario balked at murder. A leader himself among the 100 gang members, he began talking about teaching the guy a lesson and letting him go. Read the rest of the story.

Overjoyed on her second Africa medical mission trip

Africa medical mission trips

Joni with one of the children

By Joni Vosburg

As I return from a far-too-short trip to Mwanza, Tanzania, I find my thoughts continually returning to the wonderful people we met and treated in our medical clinic.  Last spring I first joined Lighthouse Medical Missions as a volunteer on the Guinea-Bissau Team.  I was in nursing school at the time and met Christa Czer there who introduced me to Dr. Hamilton.  That first trip taught me a lot about myself, and rekindled my love for helping people who are in dire need.
Santa Monica Africa medical mission

With my great friend, Christa Czer

While it was a great experience to work as a scribe and pharmacy crew member, it was nothing like the thrill of being an actual medical team member this year.  As a nurse I felt more personally responsible for the patients I cared for, and left with the feeling that I was able to make a sincere difference in people’s lives.

Joni Vosburg

With the team on our half-day off.

Working with two other brand new nurses and friends, Christa and Claudio, was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.  We took nothing for granted, worked together on unfamiliar maladies, and made it a point to try to educate our patients in ways to prevent further illness.  One of our most serious cases was a woman that had undergone a surgery over a year ago in her auxiliary area (armpit). The wound became infected, never healed, and had begun tunneling further into her tissue.  We were able to see this woman all five days of our clinic to clean and dress the wound and administer antibiotics. Christa was even able to work with one of our interpreters to find a nearby clinic where she could continue to get treatment at no cost. 

joy in Africa

This is joy.

The people of Mwanza were amazing to work with, both as patients, and as assistants working with us.  They are such a strong community and I have no doubt they will continue to thrive as God works his wonders through them.  I am already excited for the next chapter in the Lighthouse Medical Missions book, and hope to join the team again in another life-changing journey.   Please make a donation or register for Walk to Africa.  It is your support that makes these teams possible!  www.WalkToAfrica.com

The value of “useless” people

When he beat two Real Madrid defenders.

When he beat two Real Madrid defenders.

My friend and I argue about Barcelona soccer. Namely, Alan says Luis Suarez was a costly and “useless” addition to the star-studded squad. While I have been critical of Suarez’s tendency to bite opponents previously, I endorsed his arrival at the Blaugrana. He brought a wickedly powerful kick, a weapon missing from Barca’s touch-sensitive arsenal. He also brought muscle.

His debut in the first clasico (against eternal rival Real Madrid) was, understandably, not an outright success. He whipped in some pin-perfect crosses but was otherwise somewhat sedate. It usually takes a while for a player to adapt to a new team, but of high-priced acquisitions, fans want immediate results. So Alan grew increasingly critical as games passed without too many goals from Suarez.

I kept believing in him even though the results weren’t terribly positive. Our banter reached a head in late March for the second derby of the season against the Merengues. Before the game started, Alan unbottled fresh venom for Suarez; I defended him. As it turns out, Suarez struck the goal of the victory — exquisitely controlling a long overhead pass with one touch, holding off two defenders with his speed and physicality, and a shooting low to far post to frustrate the goalie. For those who know soccer, it was sheer sublime grace.

This gave me ammo to unload on Alan. We were both overjoyed by the Barca victory, but I shot up my friend: I thought you said he was “useless?”

Suarez "nutmegs" one of the world's best defenders, David Luis, of PSG. (He puts the ball through his legs, a humiliating move).

Suarez “nutmegs” one of the world’s best defenders, David Luis, of PSG. (He puts the ball through his legs, a humiliating move).

On Wednesday, Suarez again won the game, this time to help Barca move forward in quarter finals of the UEFA’s Champion’s League against new powerhouse Paris Saint Germain. For one of the goals, Suarez threaded through three defenders single-handedly (or rather, single-footedly) to confound the opposition and the goalie. They don’t play soccer any better in Heaven.

So tonight I fired a fresh volley at my friend. “Useless” players like that, I’ll take any day.

Do you believe in the people on your team? It’s surprising (upsetting) to see church members criticize their fellows. They compete against each other (instead of competing against the devil). Maybe the person you view as “useless” will score the victory shot against the devil

Everybody is valuable in the Kingdom of God.

The most exciting day in a long time: an emo for dinner

better than expresso

What’s better than coffee? Getting someone saved.

The highlight of the week has been reached. We had our neighborhood emo for dinner.

An emo is a latest iteration on the goth/punk subculture, which revels in depression and dresses dark with bright colored hair. Why would I want my daughter hanging out with her? Because we’re going to get her saved.

Behind the despair, there’s a heart that needs Jesus. Behind the self-harm (if she does it), there’s a dire need for love. We Christians are not on Planet Earth for any other reason than to lavish love on the unloveable.

There is nothing more thrilling or meaningful than to see people come to Christ.

Peace in Jesus

Animated_Waterfall_1

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,all whose thoughts are fixed on you! — Isa 26:3 NLT.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:27 NIV.

The deaf heard: Africa Medical Missions

Africa Medical Missions

Felipe Rodriguez (at right). Whether he’s in Santa Monica or Tanzania, he says where he goes: “The party is here.”

When the doctor peered into the patients right, “deaf” ear, he saw larvae, living and dead. With a few scrapes with Q-tip, he extracted the critters, and the deaf man could hear again!

This is what happens in the rest of world, where medical access is limited either by availability or cost. This is what happens when Lighthouse Medical Missions comes to town. Their recent clinic in Mwanza, Tanzania, attended to 1,200 — HIV patients, malaria sufferers and insect-invaded ears.

Lighthouse Medical Missions

Felipe, in the middle, with fellow volunteers.

“It’s crazy stuff,” said Felipe Rodriguez, who pitched in on the trip.

Not only are the locals dramatically impacted, the American volunteers are too. Fun-loving Felipe hit it off the kids. “Every where you go, the kids grab your hands and want to go with you,” he said.

Africa medical missions

Now that they have seen conditions in Tanzania, they no longer live in a bubble.

When the group visited wildlife on a nearby island on Lake Victoria, Felipe joined some students on a field trip to take selfies with them. They acted like rock star fans.

“Your smile will heal all their sicknesses and wounds,” Felipe said.

Africa medical missions

In Tanzania.

‘Really hard’ saying ‘Goodbye’ on Africa Medical Mission

Africa Medical Missions

Carla, with one of the children she fell in love with.

Carla Cedillo got spooked as soon as she set foot in Africa.

“Africa is a different world,” she said. “I felt like we were in  a movie. I felt like we were an infomercial that says, ‘For  $1.00 a day, you can help save a life.’ I remember my mom saying there are poor people in Africa, but it never hit home until we we went to Africa.”

Lighthouse Medical Missions

In the pharmacy

On the Lighthouse Medical Missions trip to Tanzania in 2015, Carla, who works at the Lighthouse Christian Preschool, fell in love with all the children. “I wanted to hold them all,” she said. “They were all so adorable.”

When a little child came through the clinic with her tongue attached to the bottom of her mouth, Dr. Bob Hamilton offered to cut it loose immediately. “I thought blood was going to gush everywhere,” she said.

African Medical Missions

With her brother, Arti, and some Tanzanians

During most of the 5-day clinic, Carla manned the pharmacy and gained a great appreciation for pharmacists. “It wasn’t easy,” she said. “Now I know why pharmacists are always in a bad mood.”

When the clinic was over and it was time to head to the airport, it hard to say “Goodbye.”

Dr. Bob Hamilton | Medical Missions“They kept telling us, ‘We’ll see you in Heaven.’ That true but it was really hard,” Carla said. “I think about them everyday. I’m sure they’ll think about us everyday for the rest of the lives.”

Africa Medical Missions: ‘An Intense and beautiful experience’

Africa Medical Missions

Myer with her boyfriend.

Tears streamed as Salome recounted how the C-section didn’t save the baby. Katelyn Myer became painfully aware of the gaggle of kids screaming and laughing and tumbling around the clinic as she listened to the Tanzania women share her sorrows.

Lighthouse Medical Missions Lighthouse Medical Mission’s 2015 clinic to Mwanza “made me think and know and feel that we are all God’s children,” she said. “The medicine and the science had overtaken my point of view. They’re not just bodies that are sick but people who have hurts and feelings.”

An actress in Hollywood, Myer only recently became a Christian. She joined the Santa Monica-based charity LMM this month to give of herself. “It was a really intense and beautiful and incredible experience,” she said.

medicine AfricaIn all, LMM attended to 1,800 patients for five days and held evening church services. “It really pushed home that the theme of the Bible is love,” Myer said.

Medically, the doctors couldn’t do much to help Salome. Her pain was in her heart from the stillborn child. So Myer gave her emotional support.

Africa Medical Missions

As they left the clinic Friday to tour a bit, the patients were cheering and singing songs of praise.

Then she remembered a prophetic word her boyfriend had received before coming to Africa. Someone had told him, “You need to say the word ‘Life’ to somebody over there.” It was time to say the word.

We don’t know yet if Salome is pregnant again.

Africa Medical Mission: ‘I really wanted to be like Jesus’

Arti Cedillo | Africa Medical Missions

Arti made friends with his guitar.

Yes, he called himself “a Satanist” when he was a punk kid rebellious towards his parents’ Christianity. Yes, he beat up kids and got kicked out of schools. Yes, he played hard rock with — um — not the best lyrics.

But when he faced a truly demon-possessed person, it was different. Arti, who turned his life over the Lord years ago and was now serving in Tanzania on the Lighthouse Medical Missions, freaked out when the lady he prayed for started behaving erratically.

Africa Medical Missions

The crowd waiting a turn to see a doctor.

After the first day of assisting doctors at the clinic in Mwanza, Arti requested permission to set up a prayer station and pray for all the patients after doctor visits. “I really wanted to be like Jesus and lay hands on the sick and see them recover,” he said.

That done, he was engaged in praying for a lady with back and leg pain. When he asked her to forgive all who had harmed her, she grew eerily silent. Then she started getting aggressive.

Tanzania Medical Missions | AfricaArti knew what he had to do (expel the demon in Jesus’ name), but he got scared. “I’ve never performed an exorcism before,” he said.

When it was done, he led her to get her pills. But he watched his back, lest she become aggressive again. His buddy, Johnny Huerta, didn’t seem to have the same fears. He went over to her and gave her a hug.

“I was more afraid she would jump on me, and he was more concerned to let her know that she was loved,” Arti reflected.

Lighthouse Medical Missions

Santa Monica pediatrician, Dr. Bob Hamilton, who founded and leads Lighthouse Medical Missions, in Tanzania in Spring 2015.

Arti turned his life over to the Lord in the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, which is part of the same church that indirectly oversees Lighthouse Medical Missions.

The lady showed up at church that night. She raised her hand at the altar call to receive Jesus. She testified that the pain in her back and legs was gone.

“She came possessed and oppressed with pain,” Arti marveled. “She got delivered and saved. Then she had no pain. God is so good.”

Arti saw the supernatural on the “natural mission” of dispensing medicine. He also saw how to become more like Jesus and minister compassion.

Down with age discrimination in the church: Trumpter shows he can still blow at 80

Age DiscriminationFrom the time inside the womb, he attended the Santa Monica Foursquare Church – now called the Lighthouse – 80 years ago.

After a long absence from his native congregation where he grew up in love with the brass band, Duane Howard, 80, returned to see IF the church of his infancy was razed and converted into condos. It wasn’t.

He found a thriving congregation that received him with great enthusiasm as he played his trumpet, injecting an intoxicating jazz and blues undertone to worship service.

“I was absolutely convinced that the church wasn’t there anymore,” Howard said. “I’ve come full circle.”

In eight decades, a lot of life has brought upheavals, travels, ambitions, scares, heartbreaks. He did ministry, had three kids, lost two marriages, ran businesses and built a dream ranch house. In 2000, he underwent a quadruple bypass heart surgery in Chico, California. Read the rest of the article.

Moving Mountains

Originally posted on whatcherylsaid...:

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Have you seen the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” which starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman? The movie was about a banker (Tim Robbins) who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover although he claimed to be innocent. He befriends an inmate “Red” (Morgan Freeman) who also protects him from the wrath of the prison guards. Although, the movie is not a very thought provoking movie; It is a very uplifting movie. Which means it’s not a complicated thought provoking movie, but more of a feel good kind of movie.

The way the two men bonded and found such solace and redemption within one another was amazing. It is a movie about hope and believing in the will to overcome even the greatest of obstacles. In the scene where Tim Robbins character plans to escape from the prison, it took him…

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The sin principle evidenced in babies

sin principle

Sin is selfishness. Christianity is selflessness.

I’m not saying babies sin. They are innocent of the understanding of right and wrong. But the Bible is correct in saying that we are born with sin. This gif is so cute we can fail to miss the important lesson it demonstrates.