During his retirement, my dad took up repainting. He’s no Michelangelo, but he has fun.
One cool thing about painting is if you get it wrong, it’s no problem; you just paint over. You can literally cover your prior mistakes with a fresh coat. You can start anew as many times as you want. Keep correcting until you get it right.
God is painter. And he covers over our mistakes (sins) with a fresh layer. He cleans up our blotches and smirches. He’s making our ugly flailings into beautiful art.
He used to like two things: to beat people up and art. (Si quiere leer en español, haga clic aquí)
Now a Christian, Mario Ajcip helps people out. And he has become a true artist — something he never would have achieved in his old street life.
Mario teaches at the Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta, a Christian school in Guatemala, where he’s helping youths to get out of gangs and into God. He doesn’t make money with his art (at least not yet), and his unfinished mural is part of a community revitalization project where the city buys the pain and the artists work for free.
Countless youths can point to Mario for having given them a reference point to seek God and not sin. A lot of things have changed for Mario, but the art remained.
She plays one of the family girls in the play. I’m a Matrix-like creep.
In the sixth grade, I played Bob Cratchet, and it proved prophetic for my life, because I have never gotten rich and always worked like a dog.
Not at age 48, I’m Christmas Future in the Palisades Theatre (Pacific Palisades, CA). I warn that greed will lead to eternal torments. This has been part of my life as a preacher.
Is it possible that a life can be summed up in a simple play? How did Charles Dickens cast my personality?
The Bible says there is nothing inherently evil with money. It is the love of money that rusts the human heart. As a missionary in poor Guatemala, I saw that not only the opulent love money. The poor can easily do this too.
Love God more than money.
Those who figure that this life on Planet Earth is all there is…. well, we’re all going to find out sooner or later.
Of course, it’s a silly love story, but I was quite surprised to stumble across the gospel in LA Ballet’s presentation of Giselle. The peasant protagonist falls in love with an unscrupulous prince. Jilted, she goes insane and dies of a weak heart.
When the wilis come to exact revenge and get the dead spirit of Giselle to join their forces, she instead fights for his pardon. Instead of becoming a tormenting spirit, she can rest in peace.
Forgiveness and love triumph over bitterness and hatred. In Giselle, I see something of a Christ figure. He loved us and we jilted Him. He died for our sin and wrought our deliverance from the punishment. I doubt the originator of the ballet intended this interpretation of the work, but, hey, I can’t help myself.
I’m a neophyte to ballet, only drawn in because my friend dances for the LA Ballet. Honestly, I didn’t expect much plot. I thought the storyline would be flimsy, an excuse for super athletes to dance. So Giselle blindsided me. I’m a literature guy and like a good story.
Hopefully, Los Angeles will catch the message. Maybe Giselle can restore marriages as people get persuaded that forgiveness and love can cover wrongs. Maybe Giselle can help end enmity. Maybe we can realize that “he who laughs last” doesn’t really laugh at all but shrivels up into a lifeless bitter blob. Maybe people can realize that we all need God’s forgiveness for our sins.
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.
The best sluggers only get 450. That means more often than not, they get out.
With prayer, no one bats 1000. Not every prayer gets the answer you want. Sometimes the terminally ill patient dies. And because a prayer-warrior doesn’t bat 1000, the atheists don’t believe in God. (Do they believe in baseball?)
Well, I think that if you’re batting 350, you’re doing well. If only a small fraction of your requests get answered, you’re doing well. Let faith arise in your heart in your heart for just 1 0f 10 answered requests! Because as faith arises, so will your batting average.
And just because you strike out on a majority of your prayers requests, don’t get discouraged. Only God knows why He sometimes says no. We can trust that in His economy, we’re batting 1000.
You should always be encouraged to pray and never be discouraged from it. Ignore the faith-slayers who (wrongly) say that prayer doesn’t work unless you bat 1000.
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.
The reason why Instagram, Pinterest and other photo-hosting sites are popular is because people crave beauty. I consider observing beauty a basic urge, on par with receiving love.
When I was a literature major, I hungered for a good book, one with jeopardy, three-dimensional characters, and a reasonable but surprising denouement. Above all else, it must evoke meaningful themes that leave reflection lingering.
This is why I pray. I am pursuing the happy ending to the senseless chaos in the lives of people around me. You can watch a drama.
You can admire an art. You can take pictures.
Or you can create living art, the transformation of lives freed from the dungeon of lostness, liberated to the thrill of love, purpose and family found only in God. Some snap photos, others brandish brush, I bow my head.
Instead of spray-paint, they use flashlights, traffic batons, led lights, roadside flares, Xenon lights and spotlights. Their artwork shows only on long exposure film, so it doesn’t deface property but creates a work of whimsy, of beauty, of calligraphy or of science fiction.
They’re called light graffiti artists or light painters, and their work is enchanting. Pablo Picasso experimented with this art in his waning years. A new generation of avante garde artists, now armed with the latest technology, are giving full rein to their imagination. The artist doesn’t appear, only the light, because he moves quickly in the dark and doesn’t get caught on the long exposure setting. Sometimes they stay still and show up in the photo. You can do it too, if you get the right equipment!
Shouldn’t the light be beautiful? Let your light shine in such a way today that it makes someone pause and take notice. May they admire the Author of Lights.