Tag Archives: believe

Resurrection faked?

Jesus facebook status resurrected

If you say the resurrection was fabricated, then you must prove:

  1. The disciples had a motive. Usually people make elaborate lies for fame or money — or to cover wrong-doing. But the disciples got persecution and poverty. They lived on the run.
  2. The disciples were incredibly clever to devise the story. The Bible record states the contrary: They (the Jewish leaders) perceived Peter and John were unlearned and ignorant men — Acts. 4:13. Outside of the Bible, Josephus mentions Paul and his academic background. The omission of mention of the disciples is telling. They were fishermen.

If you say the resurrection was fabricated, you are confronted with the fact that the disciples all died for the lie. This would be very strange. You must look at these facts:

  • The Roman Empire (not all died at Roman hands) always gave people the chance to recant and walk free. But the disciples refused to walk free — because they had seen the resurrected Lord and knew they would be resurrected too!
  • Each of the disciples was martyred alone. There was no one there to cheer them on and encourage them to persist in the “lie.”
  • Paul turned from a persecutor of the church to its greatest promoter. Why? Because he personally saw the risen Savior.
  • Christianity prospered despite persecution of death, loss of belongings, imprisonments and beatings. Christians held meetings in unpleasant places (catacombs) and persisted in believing despite huge risk. They did this because either they had seen the resurrected Lord or knew someone who had.

Jesus chocolate eggs

If you say the disciples suffered a collective psychosis, you are confronted the story of Thomas, who wasn’t present when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. So he doubted vigorously. He seemed to want to show himself rational and reasonable; he distances himself from the other disciples. Maybe he regards them as naive or under the influence of extreme emotions. Thomas says, “Unless I put my thumb in his nail wound and my hand into his side wound, I won’t believe.” The next time Jesus showed up, Thomas was there, and he said: “My God and my Lord.”

Actually, the resurrection is the hardest miracle to dismiss in the Bible. It is also one of the biggest reasons to believe in the Bible. The cold, hard evidence inclines in favor of the resurrection being real.

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Don’t let them destroy your dream

dreamsPeople 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.

They carved a road through the rock walls

guoliang roadWhen Chinese government demurred on the multi-million dollar road construction, 13 men from the isolated Guoliang village took matters into their own hands.

Guoliang Tunnel 19They 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.

guoliangRoadIt 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.

He who has the MOST HIGH never needs to get high

He who has the Most High never needs to get highHe who has the MOST HIGH never needs to get high.

Spiritual gifts are overrated

supernatural gifts

It’s impressive when somebody asks you how you knew. You gave words, disclosed by the Holy Spirit, to encourage a person in a very specific way. Or you prayed for a person and he got healed. Using the fireworks can be a thrill — and it can make you feel like a spiritual hotshot.

But just lighting off fireworks doesn’t make you a Christian. Nor does it mean you have a blackbelt in spirituality.

No the blackbelt comes when you love someone who is hating you violently.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy… and have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:1-2

Lazarus: If Jesus hadn’t specified…

lazarusThe reason why Jesus specified “Lazarus” before giving the command to resurrect is otherwise the whole cemetery would have risen from the dead.

That would have been impressive! But no all the resurrected would have had relatives to cut off their grave clothes and feed them. It was best to keep things simple.

Have an honest moment with Jesus

honest moments with JesusWe affect behavior in front of others and worry too much what others think about us. When have we taken a moment to be honest alone with Jesus? Drop the appearances, be yourself, ask for help.

Do you have time for Jesus in your life? Can you set aside the internet, the news, the funny videos? Read your Bible and pray a bit? Don’t be surprised if He responds.

Above and beyond expectations

beyond expectationsSlaves were expected to perform grudgingly, only under fear of whipping, so when Joseph showed up whistling at his work, his boss was taken aback. Joseph made all the other slaves look bad because he did more work, did a better job, got things cleaner, cooked better. Whatever task he was assigned, he outdid expectations.

Eventually, Potiphar promoted him to managing director, in charge of his entire household.

As Christians, we should exceed expectations regularly. In our service in church, on outreach in the field, taking care of the needy of the world, we must strive for excellence and not offer a second-best or good-enough “sacrifice with blemish.”

At the end of 13 years of this trial, Joseph went from slave to vice president. God saw his faithfulness and excellent service and promoted him. We can expect good things if we exceed expectations.

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Keep praying

keep praying

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A lesson in power

Lesson in power

Jesus is enough

I needed to remember this.

Believe

believe

Senior Joel Lahood makes a mad dash to the touchdown line

ROLLING HILLS, CA – Lighthouse suckerpunched Rolling Hills Preparatory 41-15 Friday in its third straight win since the 2013 season of CIF 8-man football began.

Lighthouse Christian Academy

LCA Saints can’t stop smiling after an improbable win, product of hard work and faith in themselves.

The undermanned Saints outgunned their numerous opponents on Sept. 13 and avenged two straight losses to their South Bay rivals from previous years. Sophomore Tex Hagoski opened scoring within minutes of the game start with a daring dash, wiggling free of would-be tackles. With each play, Santa Monica’s Lighthouse Christian Academy showed its intentions of rolling all over Rolling Hills.

8-man football in Los Angeles

Hagoki limps off the field

Next, senior Joseph “Raising Cain” Kayne powered through to the big 6 points. Next came senior and toughguy quarterback Joel Lahood to sprint into the end zone. In the second half, sophomore Adrian Brizuela, a soccer star cajoled into playing football, intercepted a pass and demonstrated fancy footwork to cross the touchdown line.

where can I get on a varsity football team?

Brizuela makes a touchdown??? But his sport is soccer!

Finally, senior Nate Peterson jack-knifed through an onslaught of hulking opponents to get his name on the scoreboard.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Rolling Hills had requested a game with the slumping Saints (slumping for the last two years) because RHP had lost a slew of seniors this year. They had hoped for at least one easy win (against us). Instead, our lopsided victory will be sure to pile up their misery.

believe

Lighthouse fans have yet to show they have the faith in their team

But if Rolling Hills had fewer seniors, their entire squad outnumbered ours by almost three to one. In a now-common pattern of brutal injustice, our opponents field both a defensive and offensive squad, which gives their players a needed respite. Meanwhile, our dogged dudes must dig deep down inside to find the energy to equal their adversaries, moving both forward and backward.

football is for men

War Wounds: “Raising Cain” Kayne shows scrapes on the forehead (barely visible in the photo) and on both arms.

When starlet Hagoski limped off the field with a knee injury, Lighthouse threw on its one and only substitute, freshman Will Clancy, who’s never played football before

When his older brother, senior Nick Clancy, took a particularly hard hit, Hagoski removed his ice pack and hobbled back onto to the field to fill the position for one play.

On the surface, it’s pure insanity. But it was a gutsy kind of testosterone  display that men love to see on the gridiron. When you analyze the numbers, Lighthouse, with fledgling resources, should NOT be winning. But these kids believe in themselves enough to make every tackle, to make every wild run, to make every handoff.

In a sign of their growing confidence, Lighthouse is making pass completions and surprising opponents with unsuspected plays. That these young men believe in their own leadership and ability is clear. Will the Lighthouse fans, jaded by previous losing seasons, believe in them also?

Erie Canal and the Realm of Possible: Prayers from the Bible

Prayers from the Bible teach us.

Erie Canal

Outmoded by the railroad over 100 years ago, the Erie Canal was reduced to tourism. Today, commercial freight is again using this waterway.

George Washington concluded the Erie Canal would be impossible. But New York Gov. Dewitt (pronounced: Do-It) Clinton thought otherwise and commenced the work. Critics and scorners dubbed it “Clinton’s ditch.”

Erie Canal locks

The system of locks compensate for rising terrain.

In less than a decade they concluded in 1825 the waterway linking settlers and commerce. A marvel of engineering, hydrology and American know-how even today, the Erie Canal upon completion was called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It grew into a 1,000-span of canals that brought produce to markets for decades until trains outmoded them.

Gov. Dewitt (Do-It) thought he could “do it.”

Erie Canal low bridgePrayer is believing that impossible is possible — if you’ll just start “digging” in prayer. The experienced pray-er confounds the experts who forecast failure.

From prayers from the Bible, we learn that Elijah sparked revival over his land, Moses opened the Red Sea, David felled the mighty giant. The faith-filled filled the Bible with their heroics because they chose to put God to the test where scoffers dismissed feasibility.

As Christians, we must learn to pray prayers from the Bible and see change.

Believe in the guy who’s in a slump

b70f797787e9e3cee502ad5cd0077454Better than throwing salt on his wounds, better than mocking him, better than washing your hands of him, better than saying “He had it coming,” express confidence to the person who’s floundering. It will lift him out of his funk.

Believe in someoneSir Alex Ferguson believed in Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United forward had gone 9 months without a goal. Pundits were sharpening their knives: wash-out, has-been, flash-in-the-pan. Coach Ferguson, who’s had an extraordinary knack for winning teams, kept believing in Rooney until the mercurial players found his winning ways again — with a overhead backwards kick that left the world gaping and shut up critics.

Believe in Someone

from Ben Rogers blog

Believe in someone.

You may “win” the rat race, but you’re still only a rat. You may get to the top of the crab pile, but you’re still only a crab. If you help someone out, you’ve made a friend for life. And that is worth more than pounding your chest and shouting the tired I’m-the-best rant.

It’s what Jesus did. While everybody hated the odious, turncoat tax-collector Zacheus, Jesus dressed him with dignity, sharing a cappuccino with him. While accusers had stones in hand ready to hurl at the adulterous woman, Jesus defended her and didn’t accuse her. He touched the leper, ate with prostitutes, hung out with drunkards. Jesus was really into the business of accepting people.

261892_520929111299325_1611898260_nGive love freely. Expect nothing in return.

Give and don’t stop giving. And though you may be the most unloved person on the planet, if you give love freely, you will find 10,000 people at your funeral wanting to honor your memory.

Famine? It’s YOUR moment

from I am Yoga

from I am Yoga

 

Don’t worry about the famine. It’s your chance to shine.

Joseph was rotting in the jail. If it weren’t for the famine, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show his strengths before Pharaoh.

If you are passing through a time of famine in your life,

  • don’t quit your strengths
  • don’t despair and give up
  • don’t give in to hopelessness
  • don’t lose patience
  • don’t stop believing in God and in yourself

Joseph was wrongly sold into slavery (by his brothers!?!!). Then he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. But he kept a good attitude and worked hard. As a slave, he was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household. As a jailbird, he made administrator of the prison.

150px-Sandboarding_in_DubaiSo when God sprung him, he was named vice president of all of Egypt. He kept his relationship vibrant with God and was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In his new post, Joseph prepared the nation for a coming 7-year famine that catapulted Egypt into world dominance and paved the way for the launching of the nation of Israel (with Egypt as its incubator).

What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God turned into good. Joseph instructed his brothers to not be overly angry at themselves for having sold him into slavery: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance — Gen. 45:7 NIV.

Prayer: a distinctive of a Christian

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Samson?

Maybe Samson wasn’t muscle-bound at all. To the contrary, the Bible states that it was the power God that came upon him and enabled him to perform Herculean feats. But after Samson violated the last remaining distinctive (having his hair cut off), God’s Spirit left him and he became a wimp.

What distinguishes you as a Christian and sets you apart from a person who doesn’t know God? I hope prayer does.

Most of the “signs” of a believer in the Bible are inwardly, not outwardly. (Even circumcision was a a

Not muscles, but the power of God enabled Samson. You can access that same power.

Not muscles, but the power of God enabled Samson. You can access that same power.

very private sign!) The believer knew it and no one else. Carrying a Bible and wearing a Sunday hat don’t make you a Christian.

Only you know how much you are praying. Jesus prayed. His disciples prayed. They have left us this legacy. A significant portion of our day is to be dedicated to prayer. I shoot for at least an hour. A friend of mine gets three. (Praise God for her!)

 

Easy to do the hard thing

180425528793435119_r7rcuiwL_fWhy is it so hard to do the easy thing?

Prayer is easy. But there are 57 kabillion distractions that seem more important.

The hard thing is to do your own effort. But we Americans are always gung-ho to roll up the sleeves.

I should know what I’m talking about. I spent more than a decade of missionary work majoring in my own effort. When that didn’t work too well, I “discovered” what I 222787512785962157_1az3FDYx_bknew all along: God answers prayer.

I started praying more, and the results were spectacular.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become a couch potato Christian. I still worked: I taught, I preached, I evangelized, I visited the brethren. But I cut down somewhat the hectic schedule and dedicated a more significant portion of time to prayer. No longer was prayer perfunctory, get-thru-it-as-quickly-as-possible. It became the focal point of the day.

prayBlackladyBut you have to clear your schedule, remove distractions, and concentrate on God. That means you turn off your electric devices to be able to turn on your spiritual device! Ha!

Prayer is easy. God works for you. Yet it is hard to pick this option. It is easier for us to try to work ourselves when we want results. That’s our basic human nature. Thus prayer is hard because it’s counterintuitive. Every fiber in our being screams that we are wasting our time.

Easier to not believe

2814818487436554_AKjxRH8F_bWhy do you gloat? You act proud of not believing in God. You call yourself open-minded, unfettered by religion, etc.

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 9007267975137310_SqILL0gD_bbombards 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.

I ‘kneeded’ this

Those Tweener prayer warriors.

Those Tweener prayer warriors.

I'm no match for Rob, in blue, freshman on a varsity team.

I’m no match for Rob, in blue, freshman on a varsity team.

Two months ago I konked my knee playing street soccer with my varsity team. At the time, it didn’t seem abnormal, not too bad on pain. I even kept playing. Later, however, it had a clicking that worried me. I consulted a doctor, and he feared a torn piece of cartilage was lodged in there. After two months, it wasn’t much better.

from pinterest

from pinterest

Then I got prayed for. The boys in my Sunday School class — called “Tweeners” — had just heard about faith and were pumped to pray. I am back to playing soccer! Jesus healed me! (Being able to play soccer is about as important for me as a U.S. president attending his own inauguration!)

The Bible says that kids have special words — of praise — unadulterated because of their

from pinterest

from pinterest

sincerity and innocence. And I say it’s good to be in God’s service, not matter how small or insignificant. Today I scored a goal in beach soccer against my son’s team! Ha! And at the end, we won! Ha!

As soon as the pros hear about this, I expect they’ll be heading to their local, Bible-believing church to cut their injury time.

Within reach

After years of excessive fasting and heroic service to humanity, Gandhi agonized over his “fleshliness.” Achieving nirvana is virtually unattainable in Hinduism.

In Islam, you can never know if you have pleased Allah enough to make paradise. In Buddhism, you have to approximate monasticism.

And by contrast, in Christianity, God plops the answer right down in your lap. That’s because we are made holy not by anything we do but rather by what Christ do on the cross for us. This does not mean we flout righteousness. It only means that God has built over the chasm separating humanity from the Divine.

So answers to prayer do not require accompanying works of righteousness. You don’t need burn candles or crawl on your knees painfully over the cement plaza. You don’t need “vain repetitions” that “pagan use because they think that only that way can they be heard” (Matt. 6:7). You may fast while praying but should not think you won’t be heard if you only pray and don’t fast.

All you need is faith.

If an answer to prayer does not come immediately, assume that God is working patience in you. Do NOT assume you have to perform “works of righteousness” to turn God’s frown into a smile.

In Christianity when you pray, the answer is within reach — unlike any other religion. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE that you have received it, and it will be yours. — Mark 11:24 NIV (caps mine).

Undiminishable riches

I LOVE this photo!

A theologian said God’s resources are so unimaginably vast that no matter how much you take, you cannot in the least reduce the sum of them.

So when God says “no,” it is NOT because He doesn’t have. It may be the request is bad (like a baby who demands more ice cream than is good for him: “I WANT!”). Or it may

Step up your ministry today — through prayer. (Thank you to whomever I stole this photo from. I forgot who you are to give you credit. You have awesome photos!)

be that His “no” is really “wait.” God wants to build patience and character in us, so He doesn’t respond instantly.

Jesus is unflinchingly unequivocal: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you — Matt. 7:7 NIV. A resounding “yes!” will greet every request. But He doesn’t say when.

I track the success rate of my prayer requests. Sometimes I downright dumbfounded: everything I asked for. I asked for more students in the school where I teach, and He answered. I asked for finances f

Add some bite to your effectiveness! Pray!

or my church, and He answered. I asked for a certain troubled youth to come around to Jesus, and He answered.

You may think prayer is for grannies who have nothing better to do. I think prayer is greater efficiency than spinning your wheels in sand. At your disposal is unlimited wealth. You can only exploit it by praying.

Turn brown to green

The Israelites were experienced with deserts. For forty years, they tramped to and fro until their bodies lay scattered across the Sinai wasteland. Elijah and John the Baptists headquartered their ministries in the desert. Some people actually think brown is beautiful.

But the rest of us are enchanted with lush paradise, a pine-covered mountain cut by a waterfall, a Hawaii island with rich volcanic soil great for growing pineapples. God promises to turn brown into green.

He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD
— Isa. 51:3 NIV.

Jehovah Jireh promises to turn the unproductive land into a championship garden. If your ministry is going through a financial desert, God makes the waters flow. He fertilizes and transform sand into loam.

Where sand swirls in dirt devils today, a gurgling rush of water will empty into a pool ringed by greenery. Pray and believe towards that end.

Believe a little more

Release your faith!

This is the only human part.

If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us, says the father of a boy tormented by a demon.

‘If you can’? replies Jesus. Everything is possible for him who believes.

To this light rebuke for lack of faith, the father quickly and wisely reacts: I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Mark 9:22-24 (NIV and paraphrase).

Pursue faith

The man is teetering on the brink of success or failure, healing or continued sickness. The great challenge for him — his only participation in the arrangement since God is going to do all the rest — is to believe just a little bit more.

We have little to do as Christians. We do nothing but accept Jesus to be saved; we don’t earn it by good works. We do nothing but pray to receive miracles. We don’t earn them.

Just a drop more of faith

Virtually our only effort is to muster faith, to stir ourselves up to belief, to convince ourselves that God’s word is right and our reality is wrong. More faith.

This is the only human part. Because the other part — the actual performing of the miracle — that’s God part. Can I believe just a little bit more today?

It’ll grow

Plant a seed and watch it grow.

If I were to tell the truth, when I first went to Guatemala 18 year ago, I couldn’t believe for more than 25 people to come to church. My faith was low.

Within the second year, we were running 100.

Now, church attendance didn’t stay at 100. It went back down to 25. But it grew more than I expected. Today, I am back in the States, and the church is still growing. We have a school with 150 kids. The church is running up to 60 people. My stateside church just sent Pastor Steven Fernandez and Diane down to help out with the work. I visited to help them get established. I was astonished at what God will do.

Your labor in the Lord is not in vain — 1 Cor. 15:58 NIV.

I was the kinda guy who when he planted a seed, sat there waiting impatiently for the plant to pop out. And when it didn’t, I grumbled that food doesn’t come from agriculture after all. Hahahaha! How long did it take the for the giant sequoias to grow?

But sticking with it proved a meritorious method. And God brought the growth.

Every prayer you pray is like casting a seed. Sit back and patiently wait for it to grow.

‘Perhaps today’

No two words hold more inspiration. They hang inside the prayer room at my church. Laconic but powerful: At any point, the answer will come, maybe even today.

If you knew that your long-awaited-for request were to be answered today, how earnestly, joyfully, expectantly would you pray? Do it.

Even if the answer DOESN’T come today, if you pray like it will, it MAY come today. “Perhaps today” fires up faith, and faith moves God.

If there have been tomes written on faith, this is faith’s haiku: Perhaps today. No more need be said.

Dagon’s down

Crisis reigns in Israel. Not only have they lost the Philistine war, the ark of the covenant, Israel’s one great treasure, has been captured. Now, it lies deep within enemy territory, in their temple, a tribute to their god, a mockery to the one true God. True believers are in disgrace.

A depiction of Dagon

But when there is absolutely no hope, God’s not panicked. Instead, He uses the hopelessness to glorify Himself. The first night His holy ark is in a pagan temple, he makes the idol Dagon bow before it.

When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. — 1 Sam. 5:3 NIV. The Philistines don’t get. They think it’s a fluke.

A replica of the ark

But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. — 1 Sam. 5:4 NIV.

Things are about to get worse, and the Philistines grow terrified. The message is clear: You don’t make a trophy of the one true God to honor false gods. That is what the Philistines learn.

They sent it back on a cart pulled by cattle, who with no guiding, took it straight back to Israel.

The Israelites learn that God can act alone, without any human intervention. At the end of the story, the Philistines send the ark back to Israel voluntarily. There is no military raid to recover it. No high-level diplomatic negotiations. No agreement to exchange war prisoners. To the Israelite perspective, it is starkly an Act of God.

Maybe you need an Act of God for your desperate circumstances today. Instead of wringing your hands, fold them in prayer. Instead of anxiety, let quiet trust reign in your heart.

God doesn’t need you. He needs only your prayers.

A stage call: powerlessness II

 

Hannah bore the misery of powerlessness. Childless, she cringed under the withering scorn of those around her and even doubted the love of her husband. There was nothing she could do about it — no fertility doctors back then. In prayer, her lips quivered so bad that the chief priest mistook for a drunk woman.

Powerlessness is the story of salvation. We are absolutely powerlessness to fulfill the law and earn our way to Heaven. So Christ came down from Heaven to do it for us as a man. Powerlessness, then, is the essence of Christianity.

So don’t be overly distressed in a moment of utter powerlessness. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong — 2 Cor. 12:10 NIV. Powerlessness is the stage call the Powerful One. He will appear on scene and vanquish all things that have cornered us and deprived us of our dignity.

Hannah’s prayer got answered. Silencing her rival, she gave birth to Samuel the prophet — and a few more kids afterward. Her rancor turned to rapture.

 

Powerlessness

I used to dismiss the notion of powerlessness. I had heard it in terms of sociologists who described people trapped by poverty. They’re just making excuses, I snorted.

Then, I grappled with powerlessness myself. When I was a missionary, an extortionist falsely accused me of a crime. I was the victim, but I feared the corrupt justice system coupled with anti-gringo sentiment would conspire to send me to the hellhole of jail in Guatemala. I fasted five days a week. I went to bed thinking about jail and woke up thinking about jail. I was gripped by the claws of  powerlessness.

At the end, God vindicated the innocent. I learned to trust Him even in the ugliest of scenarios. And I no longer scoffed at powerlessness. It is a huge and terrifying force.

When you’re facing cancer, you can feel powerless. When the recession closes all doors to you. With your prodigal child. With your unfaithful spouse. Addiction can render you powerless to stop abusing drugs. A hurricane is coming, and you can’t stop it or escape. You cannot take control of your future. There is nothing you can do. It is out of your hands. Anyone can belittle your struggle, but only you face these demons alone.

Being powerless is good. It throws you on God entirely. It arouses faith like nothing else. Your moment of powerlessness will be hellish anguish. But it will also be sweetest fellowship with the Lord. (Praise and worship was my only relief from my living nightmare!)

When you are powerless, He remains powerful.

You’re not disqualified

Intriguingly, Jesus employs racism to make a point. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast [it] unto the dogs. — Mark 7:27 KJV.

He addresses a Syrophenician who requests freedom and healing for her demon-possessed daughter. A lot of people miss the subtleties of the Bible. When Jesus offered living water to the Samaritan woman (John 4), at least she was half Jewish. But the Syrophenician is completely gentile, utterly excluded from the kingdom of God (under the old scheme of things). The Jews called them “dogs,” and Jesus testing her faith employs the same ugly, unacceptable term.

In other words, He says, “Don’t you know you’re supposedly disqualified from a miracle?” Whether it was hyper optimism or simply desperation, this lady would not be discouraged and the word “disqualified” was not in her lexicon.

Ok, she says, I don’t care if you insult me. Call me a dog, but even the dogs get crumbs from the table. Jesus’ subsequent reaction dispels the notion He’s a racist: “For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.” — Mark 7:29 KJV.29

It’s necessary to understand you’re not disqualified from receiving a miracle. That is faith. When you pray, banish from your mind that you are disqualified from receiving a miracle. A lot of preachers try to put requirements on a miracle. They’re trying to explain why some people don’t receive a miracle. I say, Let’s get rid of the requirements and bolster people’s faith.

Surviving a lightning bolt

A bolt can measure three times hotter than the surface of the sun, yet a man can survive a strike.

Jerry LaDoux got knocked 20 feet away when he was hit in August 1999 and went unconscious for half an hour. His two-way radio had exploded and teeth shattered. A medical tag around his neck melted.

Survivor Jerry LaDoux

When lightning lets a man live, it tampers with his nervous system, much like a shock can alter the software on a computer. LaDoux experienced short-term memory loss. Others suffer tremors, mini-seizures and sleep disorders. As many as 1,000 become lightning survivors each year; 67 die.

Far greater power surges through you when you pray. So it’s no wonder Samson‘s dad, upon seeing the Lord, feared: “We shall surely die, because we have seen God” — Judges 13:22 KJV.

When you pray, you’re harnessing tremendous power — more than a mere thunderbolt! The only way you can lessen that power is by limiting your faith. While in the Old Testament, it was a fearful thing to come into contact with the Supreme Being, the New Testament encourages us without fear to “boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus” — Heb. 10:19 NLT.

We ought to realize the power available to us. We ought to make use of it. When His power pass through you, it will alter you (for the good, of course!).

** Thanks to Slate for the article on lightning strike survivors. The international conference of lightning-strike and electric-shock survivors provides support for survivors.

Early flailings

I first started praying — really praying — when I got involved in the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica. They had 6:00 a.m. prayer for an hour every morning. I went because 1) it was expected of rising disciples, and 2) in theory, I knew prayer was effective.

However, my first prayings, I am ashamed to admit now, lacked faith. The first real answer to prayer surprised me. I was praying for Blanca, the middle of three sisters, who was in the world. I prayed six months for her to get saved. When she walked into the church, my jaw dropped to the floor. In my head, I said, “Blanca, what are you doing here? I thought you wanted to be in the world.”

To which, the Holy Spirit responded: “Weren’t you praying for her? Why now are you surprised by the answer?”

That’s when I stopped going to prayer out of obligation. From then on, I went because of conviction. I knew that prayer worked! Since I have seen thousands of similar answers. I am addicted to prayer like the junkie to drugs. I only wish I could help people to get the revelation for themselves. That is the purpose of this blog.

Gone with the wind

The fact that climatologists can now predict and explain wind should not confuse the meaning of John 3:8’s metaphor.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. — John 3:8 NIV

The wind (same word as “Spirit” in Koine Greek) appears inexplicably (to the First Century observer). It is invisible, unannounced, unanticipated. It can be powerful (think of a hurricane). It scatters seed. No where is beyond its reach on the face of the planet. You can’t stop it.

So are our prayers. We cannot guess what God is going to do. We should pray generally and specifically, but we should not boast about knowing what God has up His sleeve. We should believe for huge and impossible things, both close and far. We should not be surprised when the Iron Curtain falls or when the vilest of sinners gets saved. We should know our Lord uses His Spirit and can reach where spy satellites and drones cannot. He can get into people’s minds. Even the devil is blind-sided. That is the nature of the Spirit’s move.

Our prayers should take into account His ability to do anything, anywhere, any time. He’ll do what we least expect, so we should expect it. He’ll move anywhere, so we should pray for nations closed to the gospel. He’ll hit tomorrow, so we should pray today.

Opposition will switch to ally when the Spirit moves. All resistance will be “gone with the wind.”

Don’t just survive, thrive!

 

What’s your problem? Paul was in jail. He sang songs. He wrote letters. He grew in God. It didn’t seem to bother him a bit. His outward circumstances were irrelevant. We have a significant portion of the New Testament because he went to jail.

Marco Polo too. If he hadn’t been imprisoned by rivals Genoese, he probably would not have written about his travels to China. This, in turn, opened up trade, interchange of goods, discoveries of paper, noodles and gun powder to Europe.

Maybe God has brought you to bad circumstances for a later good purpose. Don’t mope. Enjoy, burst with optimism, bound out of the gate, the world is yours! Your current challenges are tomorrow’s triumphs! The desert precedes the Promised Land! If you pass the test, you pass the course. God has not brought failures upon you except to bring later successes. So in your struggles today, pray and look up.

 

Computing power

The smart phone in your hand has more computing power than what sent the the Apollo Mission to the moon. And you take it for granted.

The heart in your chest has more potential power than Jesus Himself. Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do EVEN GREATER THINGS than these, because I am going to the Father — John 14:12 NIV (my caps). And you take it for granted.

Begin to believe, dare to believe

Phillip explains the impossibilities. Eight months wages would be needed to feed the multitude. It’s as if he’s telling Jesus, who’s moved to compassion again, to NOT be unreasonable with his desire to feed hungry thousands. Then in direct contradiction to his colleague, Andrew dares to venture a crazy idea: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” — John 6:8.

Andrew risks the ridicule of his fellows. He risks rebuke from Jesus for his unreasonableness. Why mention something that is obviously not a solution? Andrew risks with faith, and in the end avoids both ridicules and rebuke. Instead, it’s as if Jesus congratulates him.

Though tentative and unsure of himself, Andrew hits success. People are willing to risk for business. They risk for sports. They risk getting an STD. They risk addiction and alcoholism in the name of fun.

Why not risk for faith? Why not dare to begin to believe. You might be surprised to find you please Jesus and He takes up your venture of faith as His own!

Foresight, hindsight, no sight

My little kids soccer team bombed its final. If I would have known the defense was going to fall apart, I would have drilled them to tedium on practice. But since I didn’t FORESEE, I did other drills. The adage: HINDSIGHT  is 20-20. It means exactly what happened to my team. I saw the problem during the game, not before the game. Coaches win because of FORESIGHT.

Christianity is neither foresight nor hindsight. It is no sight. We live by faith, not by sight. — 1 Cor. 5:7 NIV.

I’m not saying to hurtle forward recklessly without planning, wisdom or counsel. Yes, there is a role for FORESIGHT. But with God, sometimes it is NOT FORESIGHT that is key, but prayer.

Prayer changes the problems you cannot FORESEE. It is NO SIGHT because it takes care of those things we cannot anticipate.

In regards to my soccer team, I don’t think prayer would have given us the victory. Prayer is for more important matters: saving souls, wresting finances, bringing healings. The soccer story is only an illustration for what is truly important.

It’s good to have foresight and hindsight in a limited capacity. It’s also good to let God take care of problems you can’t even see: pray!

Never again!

Nine hundred zealots made their last stand in 72 AD against the invincible Roman army at a pinnacle plateau called Masada that looms 1000 feet above the desolate Judean desert. With thousands of soldiers building a siege ramp, Jewish freedom fighters committed suicide rather than surrender to their oppressors.

Today, Israeli soldiers complete their training with a rushed ascent, followed by a group shout that echoes over the valley floor: “Never again shall Masada fall!” It is the battle cry of survival for a people surrounded by enemies.

Do we wage war with fierceness against our enemy, the devil?  Masada inspires greater intensity for our prayers. We can’t reconcile with devil; we can’t seek terms for peace. Surrendering territory to the world is not an option. We are called to extend the Kingdom of God, not retract.

If you are in ministry, don’t become distracted and side-tracked. The stakes are too high. Be inspired to fight to the last for the souls of men. You are too important for the war to quit or give up. Today’s struggle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers — in prayer (Eph. 6:12).

Apparent no

He was told to shut up. He clamored all the more. She was told she was dog. She asked for a crumb off the table.

What do you do when God appears to say no? Bartimaeus kept asking. In fact, he yelled all the louder (Mark 10:48). The Canaanite woman didn’t get mad. She said, “Yes, but…” Jesus tested her strongly. First he didn’t even talk to her. Then He mistreated her. She kept insisting. Even the “dogs” get crumbs off their masters’ tables.  This impressed Jesus. Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted,” he said (Mat 15:28).

It’s hard to know when “no” is truly and definitively “no” from God. So if what you are asking for doesn’t contradict the Word of God, keep asking and patiently believing. You could ask for something that God won’t give you. But the other extreme is worse: you could lose heart and faith and stop believing.