Tag Archives: children

I’ll be your Lyft driver

IMG_1380

Rebekah, at left.

Rebekah grew up and moved out. Despite the fact that I was well aware that this was coming, I’m still a bit surprised and saddened.

I was too busy too much of the time. And we didn’t have money for me to take her out. We were missionaries surviving on half a shoe-string budget.

When we moved recently to Van Nuys to start a new church, Rebekah said she wasn’t going with us. She got a roommate and stayed in Santa Monica. The Valley Boy Pastor had one less arrow in his quiver (allusion to the Bible).

I worked with a heavy dose of not-spoiling-your-kids theory. Because I wouldn’t give her a ride where she wanted to go, she walked alone at night.

Then all of sudden, I worried for her well-being. She scoffed at me. But I kept trying to drive her wherever she wanted to go and pick her up whenever she wanted. She was 18 and could do pretty much whatever she wanted.

The years have gone, and I’m left to rue missed opportunities.

Hey, Rebekah, if you need a ride, I’ll be your Lyft driver.

The coffee was GOOD!

good coffee

Not one but two of my kids now work at Starbucks, which is either my favorite or second favorite thing (with burritos) (excluding God and marriage, of course). When Rebekah makes me a coffee, she puts in extra shots of expresso. And that makes me say: PRAISE the LORD!

I personally don’t ascribe to the sad theological opinion that there’s no food or drink in Heaven. If you don’t want to eat or drink there, I’m sure God will make provision for you to do some eternal fasting. But the Biblical reasons are deductions, not outright statements, and the problem with deductions is that we can arrive at our conclusions by defective argumentation. Since I think Heaven is wonderful and food is wonderful, I see the two things merging in ways we cannot imagine.

Every child wants to have an adorable monster friend

adorable monster friendQuite accidently, I’ve discovered the formula for Disney. As a joke, I got pictures of me, made up as the Ghost of Christmas Future, with the happy little kids in the play with fearful faces.

It seemed the kids were drawn to me, playing high-five-down-low-too-slow and what not. Every kid wants to have a friendly monster as a friend. I was the monster.

IMG_8702But here’s the flipside. If kids like it, so do monsters. The beast gets turned into a prince. The bad guy becomes good. Innocent love executes a transformation.

Who wouldn’t want to restore to the pristine innocence and untainted joy his monster soul? That’s why Jesus was was “without sin.” His love is pure, uncontaminated, simple childlike glee. Jesus says we must come to Him like children. We can shed the burdensome cynicism of being an adult. We can leave behind sin like a snake its skin. This Christmas, accept the best gift you could ever receive, the Giver of gifts.

Of course, our church Christmas play was very much along the Scoorgian lines. While I was waiting my role backstage, my mind was running through a completely different plot.

Harming children

7e77618403045b167b4ec3fb88d10cc8The worst crime is the one done against children because they are defenseless. They are born to innocence and play. They believe in the good nature of everyone and cannot understand evil. To deprive them of love, warmth and goodness, to destroy their innocence is the worst of evils.

Pip has been wronged. Miss Havisham set him up to fall in love with Estella, and she did this only to delight in seeing him be heart-broken. This evil design she perpetrated since his childhood in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

At the end of her life, she begs forgiveness. Her usually air of superiority gets dashed. She abandons all noblewoman’s dignity and shockingly falls to her knees to cry in repentance. Her money, her family, her nobility mean nothing. The only thing now is to be granted forgiveness. She feels the full horror of what she did too late. Pip does not withhold the forgiveness for a second.

We have all be wronged as children. Born with sin in our nature for Adam’s fault, we all wake up eventually to the attractions of temptation and become sinners. Jesus has come to restore the innocence, the beauty, the joy of life.

For Christmas, I want your forgiveness

havisham estella

The altercation between Estella and her adopted mother.

The fact that I’m 48 doesn’t make me any smarter or wiser than my high school students. It makes me more experienced, particularly in the area of mistakes. I’ve committed more errors than these kids by simple abundance of years.

Of all my sins and guilt, the thing I regret the most are the sins (errors) I committed against my children. I offended my parents rather nonchalantly. I offended my brother and my spouse. But what hurts the most is the conscience of wrongs done against my kids.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Can my children forgive me?

Miss Havisham moans as she wanders aimlessly around her estate in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. She has lost her only love, the love of her adopted daughter, whom she sought to protect against jilting love by making her incapable of love. Call it karma, but the girl who cannot love turned the lack of love against her adopted mother.

So she moans. Her life is now meaningless. Can we forgive ourselves for the wrongs done against our children? Can they forgive us? The cycle of victim-victimizer can only be broken by forgiveness.

The beauty of children

colegio cristiano guatemala

The smiling faces at the Christian school El Liceo Bilingue La Puerta in Guatemala City

One of the strong points of the ministry in Guatemala is the school and its children. If you save a 40-year-old, he will serve Christ for 40 years (supposing he lives to 80). But if you save a 12-year-old, he will serve Christ 68 years.

Of course, it’s good to get the old guy saved; he needs it as much as the young guy. But there are certain advantages to working with youth. You also help them avoid so many sins and destruction if they learn to live wisely from a young age. Well, that has been our philosophy behind the Christian school, El Liceo Bilingue La Puerta. We’ve seen some great testimonies through the years.

John Mira, man of God

John Mira, man of God, with the pastor in Guatemala.

There’s great joy in seeing the smiling faces: so many kids needing and receiving love. My friend, John Mira, is here with me. He’ll be preaching, and I’m translating. He preached to the junior highers in Bible class. It gives them the chance to accept Christ and point their lives in a positive direction.

Giving to the poor is overrated

Christian loveIf you give to the poor BECAUSE of love, that is a very good thing. But Paul seems to indicate that a human could give to the poor without having love. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and have not love, it profits me nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:3.

Maybe people give to the poor to appease their conscience or to compensate their evil actions with good ones. What’s surprising is that we can DO loving things without love.

Of course, I think love is an action (like giving to the poor). Yeah, no smug love that I just wish upon the world without doing anything to alleviate the world’s sufferings. Indeed, Prov. 19:17 says: Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.

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?

And is there no God?

girlWell I guess some of us evolved. That’s how we behave pursuing instinctual, animalistic desires with no restraint.

I realize that many personify animals to believe they think like humans, but I don’t think they are capable of admiring beauty, of feeling such deep love, of identifying nobility.

When I look at this picture, a rush of admiration floods my heart: the innocence, the poetic grace, the delight of children playing. Animals are not capable of this because God created man different — with an intellectual and emotional level far superior to animals, levels that make no sense coming out of biological evolution, the crass survival of the fittest that we see in dangerous nature.

But, you become what you believe.

Picture source: The original comes from pinterest. I’m not making any money on it. I don’t own rights to it.

Hard to love

hard to love

image from truelovedates.com. I don’t own rights to this, and I’m not making any money on it.

Actually, it’s easy to love the Islamic State. What’s hard is to love your spouse.

As Christians, we are ordered to love our enemies. We may be enraged by their atrocities, but we can pray for them to get saved and wish Christianity for them.

The toughest thing is stomaching hurt from a person from whom we expect love. We don’t expect love from the Islamic State. Because we are surprised when a family member (or church family member) rejects us instead of loving us, it’s a rough road.

The lady who blackmailed me by falsely accusing me to the police is easy to love. I never expected anything from her. Her kid was in our school in Guatemala, and, desperate for money, she thought it would be easy to exploit the gringo. Despite her turning my life into a hellish nightmare for nine months, it was easy to forgive her.

But the people I love and expected to receive love from… Help me, Jesus.

The real reason…

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

Photo thanks to PunkDrunkLove

… you didn’t get so many gifts this year, is not the recession.

May the gift of laughter — as well as the gift of gratitude — be with you this year. Merry Christmas!

(That pesky NRA!)

 

Useful

Ender was forcibly denied a normal childhood. He couldn’t play but had to train incessantly. He couldn’t make friends because kids were made into adversaries. His was a lonely road to pre-adolescent general.

His trainers did this because no one else could save the planet from the impending invasion of buggers in sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. Without Ender, the Earth doesn’t stand a chance.

Was it justified to deprive Ender his childhood? As with any classic, author Orson Scott Card leaves the answer up to the reader.

My major motivation in life is to be useful. Personally, this is greater than individual accolades, power or money. The Bible says God will greet us in Heaven with these words: “Well done! Enter into joy!” To serve God and people!

Maybe Mary and Joseph had plans for a happy, quiet life. But they had to give that up, because Mary had to give birth to the Savior of the world. They suffered scorn; she was pregnant before the wedding. They had to live in Egypt for a time. At the end of Jesus’ life, Mary agonized to watch the fruit of her womb die. She was useful to God.

What useful service will you deny to the world just because you want to conserve your life for you?

 

Your family is your special treasure

 

Rob also just completed “Hell week” for Lighthouse Christian Academy football

When we were missionaries with no money, I tried to take my daughter (now 16) on a Daddy-daughter date. I’m afraid to say it was extremely infrequent, but this was due to lack of finances. My son, Rob, wanted in on the fun. So I said that I would take him on a Daddy-son fun day. I never got around to it. The billfold was extremely tight.

Rob, who plays defense, is streaking to fill the hole. I had a blast watching him play for Santa Monica United club.

Now God has seen fit to bring us to the U.S., and I can at last do these things! I took my son to a soccer tournament with his club, and we spent the day together. Between games, we saw the “Amazing Spiderman.” At the end of the games on both Saturday and Sunday, he pigged out on In-n-Out burgers (in two days, he ate 10 patties!). I told him God was helping us to make up for lost time.

He likes to make funny faces for the camera

Ministry always demands our time, and it appears that God wants us to neglect our families to take care of so many needy sheep. BUT, we don’t want our families to convert in the needy and lost sheep themselves because of our negligence. I thank God He brought me back to the States, and lessened my ministerial burden, so that I can minister to my family.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. — Mal. 4:6 NIV. Find time and money for your kids.

 

Nothing in the world

I just got back from my old stomping grounds. I translated for my pastor in the Guatemala church. I saw the school, where scores of kids piled up around me to give me group hugs. The kids smiled and cried out: “Pastor Mike! Pastor Mike!” They wouldn’t let me go and almost knocked me down as they clung to me. It filled my heart with intoxicating emotion, love and happiness.

Nothing in the world compares to that. You can have your razor-blade Ferrari, your Italian suit, your smart phone. I will choose those kids. And I never regret the “sacrifice” of giving 16 years to ministry in poverty. I never regret living with less, eating mostly beans and rice for a lack of money to get something better. The riches of ministry are the greatest riches.

Jesus was also God’s son, a prince. Yet he had no place to lay his head, no house. When you choose to minister, it doesn’t have to be a vow of poverty, but you are definitely defining what your greatest treasure is. It’s God — and it’s helping His people. And the emotional rewards outweigh financial ones every time.

This blog is dedicated to helping you be inspired to prayer for finances so your ministry can increase. God is great and will carry forward His work. It is a great work for Him to have wholly the heart of his minister. Praise Him.