Tag Archives: Christian

‘Sheriff of Skid Row’ ministers while he arrests

sheriff of skid row

For 20 years, he’s patrolled the most dangerous, smelliest, grungiest disease-saturated section of Los Angeles, a one-square-mile on the edge of downtown called Skid Row where 2,000 sleep on the streets each night.

And Deon Joseph loves it because he gets to share Jesus. He’s never used his gun and has made more friends than arrests. He’s started mentoring and self-defense programs and even become a sort of spokesman to city officials about the need to address mental health issues.

“We need to be lights in dark places,” Joseph told Liberty University students. “If ever the world needed us to be a light, it’s right now.”

It’s only a 15-minute jaunt from the hipster-dominated financial district of downtown. But for some, the journey to Skid Row is a life of bad decisions that lead to the last way station before death.

sleeping on streets

“When I was 5 years old, I wanted to be a famous R&B singer,” Joseph said. “I did not realize my steps were ordered by God to be on Skid Row. I never thought I would be dealing with crack addicts, drug dealers, loan sharks, pimps and prostitutes.”

Joseph was born to Christian parents who, through the years, welcomed 41 foster kids into their household. His dad got saved when he mugged a preacher. He married his mom, dug ditches, collected cans, fed the homeless and started a construction business to give work to people like him, who had grown up in the Jim Crow South.

When Joseph finished his LAPD training phase, he volunteered for Central Division, not realizing it would lead him into the heart of darkness.

Skid Row is now being called the “homeless capital of America.” It’s the product of anti-police policies and NIMBYs (the acronym Not In My BackYard is for homeowners who wish to corral all the trouble-makers into one bad area of LA), Joseph said.

“I came from Venice where you have beautiful women, lattes and fine eateries,” Joseph remembered of his first day in Central. “And when I worked in Skid Row, it was as if I tripped and fell into Dante’s Inferno or Mad Max’s Thunderdome.

saving our inner cities“There were rows and rows of people destroying themselves with crack and heroin, beer, having sex on the sidewalk, defecating on the sidewalk with a porta potty right next to them because the gangsters wouldn’t let them use the toilet,” he said. “The smell was a combination of blood, feet and fish. It grabbed you by the nose hairs and shook you.”

Despite the dehumanizing exploitation and the desensitizing constant crime, Joseph fell in love with the beat.

“Why am I in this place that could easily be compared to hades, and I’m comfortable?” he asked his mom. “My mom said, ‘Son, if ever you feel comfortable in chaos, it’s probably where God called you to be.’ On Skid Row I realized I was home.”

It was never easy though. On his first two months, he worked the front desk where he saw firsthand the mayhem.

“Every five minutes somebody was coming in with their arm broken backwards at 45 degrees, lacerated cheeks, swollen eyes,” he said. “One guy came in and his intestines were hanging out. And they didn’t want a police report because they were that scared of their attacker. All they wanted was an ambulance to whiz them away to the hospital.”

He formed friendships with mentally ill people – only to see them die tragically months later.

One such was “Hurricane Linda,” who knocked over desks at the station, ripped out phones and spat on officers. Joseph was nervous the day she came in like the Tazmanian Devil. Spotting him, she directed a laser gaze on him that made him even more nervous. Read the rest of the story.

Rocky, Rambo and Ross got redeemed

expendables

Stallone in the purple jacket.

Action megastar Sylvester Stallone has always done his own stunts, which sometimes resulted in broken bones and hospitalizations. The Italian Stallion’s faith in Christ survived many blows as well, until the Hollywood prodigal found his way back to the Lord.

“I was raised in a Christian home,” Stallone told the Dove Foundation. “I was taught the faith and went as far as I could with it until one day I got out into the so-called real world. I was presented with temptation and I lost my way and made a lot of bad choices.”

rocky-balboa_punched_ignStallone, 70, was born in New York City. His father was a hairdresser and beautician. His mother ran a gym, being an astrologer, dancer and promoter of women’s wrestling.

His birth was accompanied by complications. The obstetrician used forceps that accidentally severed a nerve causing paralysis in portions of his face, contributing to his trademark mad dog look and slightly slurred speech.

His parents divorced when he was nine, which may have had a bearing on his poor school performance. Evicted when he was 24 and sleeping at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Stallone accepted a role in a soft-core porn movie for $200.

sylvester stallone“It was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end – the very end – of my rope,” he told Playboy.

He landed some other minor roles but hit huge success with the 1976 Rocky, which won three academy awards and seized the American consciousness. The underdog boxer became an American icon.

Six sequels and a Special Forces series called Rambo followed that success. The Expendables came later. From the dregs of society, he was catapulted to the summit of Hollywood success, and the flush of money and fame brought a glut of temptation.

“All of sudden you’re given the keys to the candy store and temptation abounds, and then I began to believe my own publicity,” Stallone told Pat Robertson in an interview. “There’s no question. I admit it. I just lost my way.”

He divorced twice, first from Sasha Czack and then from Brigitte Nielsen. He is currently married to Jennifer Flavin, with whom he has three daughters.

His personal struggles have become fodder for the introspection in some of his later films. His 48-year-old half sister Toni Ann Filiti succumbed to lung cancer in 2012. In his most recent film “Creed,” Rocky Balboa needs to be pushed to fight cancer by Donnie Johnson, the youngster Rocky is training to fight in the ring.

By his own account, Stallone spiraled downward for 12 years until he finally had a prodigal son epiphany and decided to return to the faith of his childhood.

“Finally I realized it had to stop,” Stallone said. “I had to get back to basics and take things out of my own hands and put it in God’s hands.”

Even in the anti-Christian environment of Hollywood, he unabashedly acknowledges his faith in Christ – and he spills enthusiasm about going to church.

“The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to his word and having Him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now,” Stallone told Focus on the Family. “The church is the gym of the soul. You cannot train yourself. You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else.”

Now older and wiser, Stallone admits to some distaste for the shallow violence of his earlier films. But he stands behind the Rocky series.

“This is a story of faith, integrity and victory,” he said. “Jesus is the inspiration for anyone to go the distance. You could compare his courage to that of David, who as the epic underdog defeated the giant Goliath in battle. It’s a metaphor about life. ”

A sequel to Rambo has been in the works for some time, with discussion of one version being a rescue of missionaries out of ISIS’ control in Iraq. But this film may never get done.

The Stallone trademark for his movies is that he does his own stunts. This has resulted in injuries that he has tried to mask with tattoos on his shoulders, chest and upper back. The first tattoo was a portrait of his wife Flavin.

For Rocky IV, he told Dolph Lundgren (who played his Russian opponent): “Punch me as hard as you can in the chest,” he said at a Comic Con panel. “Next thing I know, I was in intensive care at St. John’s Hospital for four days. It’s stupid!”

The injuries too are a metaphor because when we wander from Christ, they tend to make us reflect about what is most important and bring us back to Jesus. It would seem to be something Stallone would say.

This article was written with Alex Cervantes, a student of the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, where I teach. It was originally published on God Reports.

Dwight Howard flies high with Jesus in NBA

dwight howard jump

When Dwight Howard was 15 years old, he had national coaches admiring his basketball skills, friends galore following him around and lots of girls throwing him kisses.

Then he broke his leg, and the coaches, the friends, and the girls all disappeared as if by the rapture.

“God said, ‘Dwight I had to humble you,’” he said in a YouTube video. “After that I told God, ‘I will never ever be cocky again. I will always be humble because I never want this to happen to me again.’”

dwight howard at baptism

Dwight has proven the naysayers wrong who figured he would never make the NBA after that accident. An eight-time NBA All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight led the Orlando Magic to three division titles and one conference title. At 30 years old, he just finished his 12th season as center for the Houston Rockets.

Through it all, he has consistently talked Jesus. In a recent video, he wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Y’all need Jesus.” When he was drafted straight out of high school (the #1 pick!), he declared he would use his fame in basketball to “raise the name of God within the league and throughout the world.”

As a kid, his parents always took him to church in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was 12, he had his first real encounter with God. He was at home asking God what his purpose was in life. Then he heard an audible voice saying, “Dwight.”

There was nobody else at home at the moment, so Dwight was more than a little frightened. He heard his name again: “Dwight.”

Half afraid and half marveling, he went into the bathroom. There, God told him his purpose: to glorify Him in the NBA.

Yet he doubted the supernatural encounter. Find out what he did. Read the rest of the story.

Meet Camila, born to parents who couldn’t have kids

IMG_9784Prayer brought her into the world, and from the looks of it she is now learning how to pray.

Her parents, Gunter and Yara, were among the best disciples in the church. Medically speaking, they couldn’t have kids. Evangelist after evangelist prayed for them. Then my friend, Isaias Campos, came to preach for me. Ironically, he himself couldn’t have natural children. But God told him he would pray for somebody to have kids. That did the trick.

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My son, Hosea, among the kids of the Door Christian Church in Guatemala City.

I left Guatemala six years ago under duress. I am currently visiting, and I’m blown away by the revival I’m seeing. It’s been packed, and people are hungry for God.

He was our student last year from Taiwan

study in America from TaiwanBy Elvin Chen, a Lighthouse Christian Academy student from Taiwan in 2014-15

My school in Taiwan was 3,000 students – all boys, so when I came to Lighthouse Christian Academy with only 45 students, a co-ed school, I was surprised. As a Taiwanese who wanted to study in the America, I never imagined I would wind up at  a high school that was so tiny.

When I met my host family, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, Pastor Zach is so strong. His muscles are so big. I will need to be careful and not make him mad or he will beat me up.”

Actually, Zach Scribner is extremely nice. I never had problem with him. He was also a teacher at the Lighthouse high school – and he was the coach of the football team (hence, the muscles).

elvin-yosemite-1024x682As he was my host father, it wasn’t easy to get out of football. At first I thought football would be fun to try, even though I had never seen a football before.

After the first practice, however, I thought, “I’m done with that. I must quit in order to survive. I will never do this.”

But quitting wasn’t that easy. Pastor Zach was my host father – I couldn’t let him down. And the team didn’t have enough players without me. The guys needed me. These were my new American friends, and I couldn’t let them down either.

Read the whole story: 中国留学生

Out of poverty in Detroit, to lauded surgeon, now presidential candidate, Ben Carson

ben carson for presidentAs a teenager, Ben Carson and a friend were arguing over a choice of radio stations. Things got heated and Ben took out a pocketknife and lunged the knife blade toward his friend’s stomach.

The blade hit his friend’s belt buckle, broke in half, which saved his friend from harm and Ben from becoming a murderer. Frightened by what nearly happened, Ben ran home and locked himself in the bathroom with a Bible.

Ben turned to the wisdom of Proverbs, reading “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1); or “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (29:22), and a final admonition, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).

Humbled by the power of God’s Word, Carson realized that if left to his own devices, his anger would drive him toward ruin. Instead he prayed that God would help him control his temper instead of letting it control him, and God answered his prayer.

“When I came out, my temper was gone and I’ve never had a problem since,” Carson revealed in a talk he gave to the LifePoint Assembly of God in Osceola, Iowa, as reported by The Des Moines Register.

He chose instead to live by the words of James 1:19-20 which says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

The retired neurosurgeon – who has inspired millions to overcome adversity with his book and movie Gifted Hands – is now campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination – the only African American running in either party this voting season.

Read the rest of the incredible story.

I love what I do

cute girl | Guatemala

What’s there not to love about this job? (Altruism).

In the USA, I’m surrounded by people who love to make money. I don’t. I love to help people. It makes for awkward conversations, like, “What do you do for a real job?”

Ummmm. Idk. This is what I do.

Fortunately, my wife supports me 100%. Praise the Lord! I’m very sorry to say this, but it seems to make that making money is so empty.

I’m in my old stomping grounds as a I write this, Guatemala, where for 16 years I was a missionary. We planted churches and a school. Just today, I got the chance to talk heart to heart with a kid who needed help. Hopefully, he’ll make some good decisions.

Helping people makes me hum with excitement. I really don’t know why I am this way. God made me this way?

I love these kids. All of them are in a (semi?) safe place, the Door Bilingual School in Guatemala. In addition to doing government paperwork, I’ve been teaching English and Bible. I’ve been helping strategies to help improve finances for the school. I’m making preparations for a medical clinic to be realized by Lighthouse Medical Missions in September.

This is what I love.

Christian soccer star brings home women’s World Cup

holiday's goalLauren Holiday’s stunning volley against Japan was the third of a tsunami of goals that gave the U.S. Women’s National Team the Women’s World Cup on July 5.

Though winning that competition and two Olympic gold medals for women’s soccer has been gratifying for Holiday, it pales in comparison with her love for Christ.

“Success is being the best soccer player I can be,” the midfielder says. “The wonderful, wonderful thing about loving Jesus is, it’s not about me. And the spotlight isn’t on me. So when I do step out on the field, I get to play with freedom because I don’t have to worry about if I score or what happens if we lose or if I make a bad pass, because success isn’t determined on that with Christ.”

Holiday, 27, retired from international soccer immediately after winning the cup. She is part of a cadre of Christians on the national squad that also includes Tobin Heath, Amy Rodriguez, Heather O’Reilly and Jillian Loyden.

Holiday was raised in a Lutheran Church but embraced a vibrant faith when she went into junior high school.

“I went to some youth camps and that’s where I started to discover the presence of God,” she told BeliefNet. “I was able to experience God through the singing and by talking to other girls that had similar experiences. That opened my eyes but I still had to seek out that relationship.” Read the rest of the article.

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.

Bible (and) belts in boxing: Chris Van Heerden’s rise in the welterweight

Chris Van Heerden Santa MonicaHe wasn’t supposed to get anywhere near a boxing ring. Because doctors operated his kidney at 3 months of age, Chris Van Heerden was strictly forbidden from contact sports.

But his dad was a boxer and believed God would heal his son. It seemed natural for his father to train him in the sport of gloves. So today, Van Heerden, 27, is the current holder of the IBF International welterweight Title. He beat on points the previously undefeated Cecil McCalla at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 9, 2015.

“I’m blessed by Jesus Christ,” the native South African says. “Win or lose, I’m blessed.”

He may call himself blessed when he loses, but he sure has won a lot. Starting on his native continent, he now holds a record 22-1 (and one draw) including three fights since he’s come to the U.S. His only loss was in Serbia. Eleven of his wins were by knockout. Read the rest of the article: Christian boxer.

With me!

With me!

I’m proud of the kids

Lighthouse Church School

There was no one faster in the league than our midfielder and defender, Caleb.

We were down 0-2 at halftime, and the kids walked off the field dejected.

Hey! We’re only down two goals. It’s not over! Let’s go out there and win this! I gave specific instructions to the kids. We needed more longer balls, through balls that our forwards could run on and beat defenders.

When the whistle blew, my son Hosea and his partner, Garrett Lahood, zipped through the midfielders and defenders straight to goal with three crisp passes. Garrett smashed it home. Woohoo! Now let’s get some more!

Santa Monica Christian school

Garrett’s quickness and ball-handling skills made coach move him from defender to forward.

But we didn’t win. Our inexperience began to show more. Errors were made, and our opponents, Westside Neighborhood School, beat Lighthouse Church School 7-1.

I’m not upset. Winning would have been almost impossible. For our small school with a co-ed team, to have made it to round 2 of playoffs was already an impossible dream. I’m proud of the kids.

It was a fun season. Kids learned about soccer, teamwork, effort. These are lessons they must apply to life.

Latest martyr of ISIS, Japanese journalist was a Christian

kenji gotoJapanese journalist Kenji Goto, beheaded by ISIS in a newly released gruesome video, also happened to be a devout Christian.

A reporter seasoned in war zones, Goto traveled to Syria hoping that Japan’s pacifist stance would grant him relative safety, unlike other journalists from nations leading airstrikes against ISIS.

He failed to take into account this new brand of terrorists are breaking all previous norms, with no apparent limits to their depravity.

“You, like your foolish allies in the Satanic coalition, have yet to understand that we, by Allah’s grace, are an Islamic caliphate with authority and power, an entire army thirsty for you blood,” a masked militant says in the video while holding a knife to Goto’s neck. To read the rest of the article, click here.

The way to maturity is to become like kids

Jesus joyJesus says plainly: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven — Matt. 18:3 NIV.

US researcher Robert Provine has found that kids laugh 300 times a day. It sounds to me like Jesus wants us to have more joy (I confess I myself am overly serious).

What’s surprising is that 1 Peter 2:2 exhorts Christians to “grow up” in their salvation. So it’s clear that Christian maturity involves becoming like children: they don’t harbor grudges, they love freely, they laugh.

Going on 24 years of marriage

marriage anniversaryIt’s one thing for young pups in love to send each other “forever” memes. We need to see older mature (?) married couples still in love. My wife and I celebrate 24 years this month. Praise God! It is not always easy but always worth it to work on it instead of throwing it away. My kids agree too.

Yeah right! Maternity leave is ‘freer time,’ so volunteer as volleyball coach

Lindsey Christian | LCA volleyballLindsey Christian gave birth three months ago, so – naturally – she volunteered to coach LCA’s girls’ volleyball team.

“I loved volleyball,” said the 2002 LCA graduate. “I felt like it was time to give back.”

Time to give back? Right after having her first baby?

“I saw my mom (AD Pam Sommer) looking everywhere for a coach. I was on maternity leave, so I had the most free time I’ve ever had. I realized I could do it,” Lindsey said. “Okay, so maybe I’m a little bit crazy.”

Read the rest of the article.

Win or lose, give glory to God

david luis praysNobody expected the embarrassing 7-1 loss of Brazil to Germany World Cup semi finals. But as critics groaned and Brazilians cried, another unexpected event transpired. Brazilian defender David Luiz dropped to his knees and prayed.

Amid a gaggle of self-lovers, braggarts and primadonnas who make up soccer’s elite, it’s refreshing to see genuine Christians.

To thank God publicly for a victory is admirable. To thank God for a defeat is maturity.

david luis supergoalAfter all, it’s only a game, though the way people follow it — and the way money is thrown at it — you’d think it was god.

And God is not a game. If we lose, let us remember that God doesn’t favor any team. He wants people to get in relationship with Him, starting now and continuing on into Heaven.

david luiz free kick“My faith in Jesus gives me strength to keep on going out onto the field and to do my best, but I also want to inspire others – that is what God inspires me to do,” Luiz gold Christian Today. “For me, true life is found in the relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe that everything in life belongs to God and he has a clear plan for us if we follow him.”

I like that more than seeing Argentina win tomorrow.

Brazil lost, as expected, to Netherlands today. Defense was shoddy. But Luiz is winning at a game that is much more important than soccer.

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Be a prayer warrior

prayerwarrior

Scheduled victory

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Rob and Adrian were decisive

Adrian and Rob were decisive

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

People are congratulating “my” 9-2 win last night. I just shrug. The truth is that “I” didn’t win with Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer.

The AD did.

The AD — Athletics Director, for those who don’t know the lingo — won the game. She scheduled it.

Pretty much all I did was shuffle our lineup so as to NOT score any more goals. In the first 20 minutes — one-fourth of the game — we had made 7 goals. So to lessen the humiliation for the other team, I pulled off good players and threw on beginners. I pulled attackers back into defense.

The lopsided victory was no coaching genius. It was guaranteed even before we started simply because we had superior players.

It felt like the gospel. God as AD schedules us trials that we are destined to win. We may celebrate on the field, but it was God who ordained everything to begin with.

To be sure, God schedules defeats for us too. To teach us humility, patience, effort, dependence on Him, etc.

You can have your cosmovision of universal randomness. I like being a Christian.

Richard Wurmbrand tells of being tortured for Christ

imagesOut of 14 years in jail under the Communists in Romania, I spent three years alone in a cell 30 feet below ground, never seeing sun, moon or stars, flowers or snow, never seeing another man except for the guards and interrogators who beat and tortured me.

I seldom heard a noise in that prison. The guards had felt-soled shoes, and I did not hear their approach.

images-1I had no Bible, or any other books. I had no paper on which to write my thoughts. The only things we were expected to write were statements accusing ourselves and others.

During that time I rarely slept at night. I slept in the daytime. Every night I passed the hours in spiritual exercises and prayer. Every night I composed a sermon and delivered it (to myself).

I had a faint hope that one day I might be released…

images-2To be in a solitary cell under the Communists or the Nazis is to reach the peak of suffering. The reactions of Christians who pas through such trials are something apart from everything else.

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Blogger’s Note: I stumbled across this book With God in Solitary Confinement, with the most unattractive cover, and discovered a gem we need to remember. God’s servants are suffering greatly around the world. They are an inspiration for us to live more whole-heartedly for the Lord. He died in 2001.

What’s the greatest feeling?

Photo thanks to PatriciaDDrury

On the verge of my wedding, an older friend told me the three happiest moments in life were: marriage, the birth of child, and becoming a grandparent.

Harrison Sommer, former a trial lawyer, opined that the greatest feeling is relief. When he wins, he gushes relief — he will get paid; the stress and uncertainty is over.

Photo thanks Climb St. Louis

I vote for forgiveness. It is something like all of the above-mentioned emotions.

Being forgiven is a part of love, more mature than falling in love, more undeserved than  having a baby or a grandchild. Not everyone who feels love, experiences this subgroup of special love called forgiveness.

It is a compounded relief. Relief is when you’re sweating it out to see if you get it. With forgiveness, you simply don’t stand a chance to get it, but you get it anyhow.

I have been forgiven by my wife. And that is how we are still married today, 22 years later. Anyone can fall in love. Anyone can leave (married) love to go experience the immature rush once again, thinking that’s all there is to love. Not just anyone gets the special privilege of forgiveness and getting a chance to continue with the choice of your youth.

Of course, God’s forgiveness on mankind, available instantly, is the most powerful. If you haven’t yet experienced it, by all means, do so today. He sent Christ to the cross in order to forgive us our sins. All we need do is ask.

 

Climbing without ropes

Like Spiderman, climbing sensation John Bachar moved quickly up the overhanging rock wall, sometimes sustaining his entire body weight with just a couple of fingers. And he did it without ropes.

When I caught up with Bachar in 1988 for interview on the dangerous sport called free-soloing, he philosophized about the freedom from cumbersome protective gear. He waxed about feeling at one with nature. It was a rush, other-worldly, like a drug.

An amateur rock climber myself, I made no plans to try it. Too many times, I had “popped off the rock” — insider lingo for losing your grip — and been saved by the combination of harness, rope, anchor and belay.

After years of feeding off the intoxicating sensation of brushing with death, Bachar fell fatally in July of 2009. Many other proponents of this extreme sport have similarly died. It would appear foolhardy to shun safety while scaling 100- and 1000-foot rock walls only for bragging rights.

Not only do I use ropes, I also go to church. I see in this body of believers a safeguard. The day I come crashing down, I have brothers and sisters to bear me up. I’m always “on belay.” (I personally am incredibly prone to crashing down.)

Others prefer to unencumber themselves of the church, to go it alone in life. It may feel restrictive, but that same restrictiveness is a safety.

A wimpy gifting

Pastor Charles was talking about how each Christian has at least one gift from God, and how we all need to use our gift to help out in the church. As I was listening to the sermon, I realized I must have the gift of criticizing.

The church really needs someone to whip everyone into shape, so immediately after the service I marched off to let Sister Winnie know that as the cleaning lady for the church, she was doing a very poor job. I pointed out a certain area that she had left dusty and disorganized from Saturday.

She broke out in tears, but no matter. I went off quickly to tell Elder Eli that his Sunday School teaching was particularly boring and that he ought to add more jokes into it. I turned my back on him eager to continue using my gifting from God. I found Walter and told him his tie did not go with his pants. Timothy was right there listening, so I finally told him that the way he laughs annoys a lot of people in church, and that he should learn how to laugh like a normal human being.

He turned red with anger, but, hey, the truth hurts, right? I was looking for Sister Martha to tell her to stop judging others when my dad caught up with me and pulled me out to the car by my arm. He gave a big lecture about not hurting people’s feelings. But I told him that I was just exercising my gifting. He was pretty mad at me.

So, here I am, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Boy, just when you try to do something right, everyone doesn’t know how to appreciate you. Here’s what I say: A prophet is not without honor except in his own household.

The hardest thing

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945.

The easiest thing is to quit.

It requires no courage, no effort, no optimism, no reassessment, no analysis, no second attempt, no positive enthusiasm, no uphill battle.

My soccer team practiced on the beach

So much of Europe just surrendered as Nazi tanks rolled in. They didn’t even try to fight for their homeland. But England was whipped into resistance by Winston Churchill. He said: Never, never, never, never, never give up! He promised the Nazis war by air, war by sea, war by land — on the beaches, over the plains, in the forests, in the cities, room by room, if need by, until the last Nazi fell or withdrew.

I coach a high school soccer team. We are small school, so there’s no talent pool. A few are good, another few are athletic, some are total beginners. We go up against some really good teams. Last season, a typical loss was 10-1. This season, some players have already decided that we have lost.

If you KNOW that you are going to lose even before your feet touch the field, then you WILL fulfill your own prophecy. No wonder some of the kids goof-off at practice, crack jokes and skip training. It’s all pointless, anyhow, right?

I think David saw possibility where others saw only death. He wasn’t afraid to take on a 9-foot tall giant named Goliath. And he took him out.

Quitting may be easy. But it provides no reward, no satisfaction, no triumphalism, no heroics, no solace, no hope, no joy. There’s nothing better than winning by upset. To get that, you have to believe in yourself.

Setback? Step forward!

Why do they call it a “setback” if in reality is a necessary step to move forward?

The king of setback is of course Joseph. He dreams of greatness and leadership. Instead, he narrowly escapes death and winds up a slave. If that weren’t bad enough, he then is thrown into prison. He spends some 20 years in forced labor and then as a convict.

But the dude never stops dreaming. In fact, he interprets dreams. Overnight, he’s freed from jail and set upon a throne second only to Pharoah. He orchestrates a seven year famine survival for nations and brings the fledgling nation of Israel down the the Egyptian incubator. Four hundreds years later, they’re a few million, ready to take possession of the Promised Land.

Every step was necessary. Any one of them could have caused moaning. Discouragement could have overpowered the poor kid’s heart. But Joseph maintained perspective! They shackled his hands but never his heart.

Don’t despair with today’s setbacks. In reality, they are steps towards tomorrow’s successes.

Daniel’s secret

Anybody who attains wild success these days, writes a book and explains the “secret.”

The Prophet Daniel was second in power in the Persian empire, trusted like no other counselor. More than just competent administration drove him to the top. His secret was prayer.

Three times a day, he neglected his insanely busy schedule to make time for God. This is an important reminder to us Christians who are trying to advance the kingdom of God. A recent survey found pastors pray on average only seven minutes a day.

King David, likewise, sought God’s face as a #1 priority. When he failed to do so, he fell into

sin. Christ also needed time alone with God. The busier they were, the more the Biblical heroes found time to pray.

This is difficult because it is counter-intuitive, especially here in America, where we are barraged by the message that time (working time) is money. Make (more) time for God today.

 

Sock water

They call it sock water. The idea is that the Guatemalans make coffee so weak that it approximates the post-laundry runoff.

I like STRONG coffee, you know, the kind that approximates black ink. When I sip a cup, I want it to feel like

Don’t want no weak coffee

heavyweight punch. My body pulsates, my mind sharpens, the spoon dissolves, the aroma causes furniture to levitate.

Strong coffee has saved my marriage! Without it, I mumble and grunt to my wife. With it, I am a chatterbox! She likes to talk with me. She doesn’t like a Neanderthal grunter husband.

Are your prayers STRONG or weak?

Oh yeah!

Don’t get me wrong. Some prayer is better than no prayer. And I’m not quite ready to say God prefers espressos. But maybe your prayers, honestly, are more unfeeling religious duty without much zing. Distill the caffeine jolt of faith!

If you like weak coffee, don’t be offended. The comparison is meant to encourage better

May the froth be with you!

praying, not insult your tastes! Cheers! Drink up!

Cookie philosophy

Those cookies were so delicious that I, a UCLA undergrad, wanted the whole bag for myself. But as I hoarded and ate, I realized the Diddy Riese cookies from Westwood just weren’t so good all by myself. They were much tastier if I ate them (shared them) with another person. Selfishness and greed ruined the treat.

Cookies are the vehicle to philosophy??? What is true of cookies is true of finances, of everything you have. When you share with meaningful people, when you share with a meaningful cause, it makes your life much more pleasurable. The reason why Scrooge is such a powerful persona is because he resonates with so many people.

Share today! Don’t wait for the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to visit you. Break out the stash of cookies and spread around the happiness. Whatever your wealth, whatever your talent, it will be tastier to you if it is shared.

 

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.

Happy Helloween

We were zombies. That is all.

Now, we are Christians. We are NOT better, holier, smarter, prettier — none of that. Sometimes we strike you as judgmental, shrill, annoying, killjoys, prideful, hypocritical. We are an abysmal reflection of the Father’s love.

But we definitely don’t want to be exclusivists. We want to welcome you with open arms to this marvelous life we have discovered, many of us serendipitously. We walked around living dead. The life we lived we thought was life; we found true life in the Son. We don’t want to exclude you from the Light, above all else.

Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” — John 3:3 NIV. Being born-again means we were once dead, though alive. Now we have come to true life in Him! Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me. — John 14:6 NIV. Jesus doesn’t say He’s a list of rules; He’s life. What’s more, He’s THE life. If you think you’re living life without Him, you still haven’t discovered the best life possible.

Start your life today! Love, joy and peace you never thought possible are yours for the taking right now. We are no longer zombies. You can join us.

Wimpy blog: Getting the most out of the ‘text’

When mom asked me if I liked the sermon on Sunday, I replied that I really enjoyed the text. She thought I meant the scripture, which was my attempt to confuse her. Because the truth is that I didn’t hear any of the sermon; I was busy texting the whole time.

As you can see, it wasn’t a completely a lie. All I can say is that it was a good thing mom kept cooking and didn’t ask anything else about the sermon, because I would have been hard-pressed to make things up.

I really thank God that I have one of those unlimited text plans. I think Jesus said to pray always, without ceasing. The way I see it I’m doing something like that. I’m somewhat Biblical because I’m constantly texting with my friends. That’s the “without ceasing” part of the verse.

Hey Jesus, here’s my msg 2 u:  🙂

Bomb them or evangelize them

When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them — Luke 9:54-55 NIV.

A sharp contrast separates his disciples from Jesus — and that chasm remains today. While the “disciples” want to send bombs off to wipe out entire cities, Jesus proposes forgiveness and evangelization.

America has some Christian foundations, but all we can muster is war against Middle Eastern nations. We have no love to give. Let’s not expect anything good to come from the continuation of the Crusades. Until we share the gospel with these peoples, the hostilities will continue, and we won’t be able to expect safety at home any more.

Stop condemning others. Give them love. Someone said recently that America now spends yearly as much on mascot Halloween costumes as it does on missions. But the budget for military attacks is unlimited. Why do we do this? Because it’s easier to bomb peoples and just wash our hands of them.

In reality, I’m not taking a stand for or against military defense. I AM taking a stand against negligence on the behalf of Christians to pray and send missions. If we have no gospel to give, then we are left only with bombs. Jesus was willing to go to the cross for people’s salvation. What are we willing to do to spread the gospel? Because we are unwilling, we prefer to laud the use of bombs.

Find happiness. Serve others.

Jean Paul Sartre

Jean Paul Sartre wanted to be remembered fighting for causes of humanity around the world. This is quite ironic because he and his cohorts espoused existentialism, a philosophy which can affirm no other reality other than self-existence and self-affirmation.

Our modern world, without even knowing the profundities of philosophy, has basically adopted the existentialist outlook. But people largely haven’t caught on to helping others. You see, if all you can really know is between your ears, then you can live for yourself, please yourself, serve yourself, because you don’t even know if others exist, much less God.

existential despair

existential despair

The Bible is antithetical to all this non-sense. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. — 1 Cor. 10:24 NIV. If you exist, you DON’T exist for yourself but for others.

When I was in high school, my teachers indoctrinated me with existentialist teaching. It troubled me. As a youngster, I still didn’t have depth or perspective to see through the veneer of sophisticated arguments. I’m glad I held on to Jesus through the years.

Not so, many friends. The onslaught of teaching evolution, Marxism, existentialism and the like was the fusillade they didn’t survive. Those authors and teachers pointed students to a “reality” void of any purpose other than self-actualization.

Christianity does many wonderous things for you and to you. But eventually you are to mature and join Christ’s work in helping others. When you get to that point, you will discover the greatest happiness humanity can know: the satisfaction of serving God and people. Stop focusing on your self.

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.

Slavery success

Since when is slavery a path to riches?

God made the Israelites into slaves for 400 years — and this was His plan to make them rich! After enduring 10 successive plagues, the Egyptians were all to eager to be rid of their slaves and so they sent them off with loaded with gold and bedecked with jewels.

God prophesied to Abraham about this: After (the period of slavery) they will come out with great possessions — Gen. 15:14 NIV.

Well, ministry is not a six-digit career. But God can make the riches gush out of the unlikeliest places. He makes water come out of the rock, gold coins come out of fishes mouths — and wealth out of slavery! Ministry is NOT as bad a slavery, so don’t be afraid to fulfill your call for monetary fears.

And, when you pray for finances, it’s never a problem for God, though we fret needlessly. He can even make slaves into millionaires!

Don’t wait till you’re dead…

Jump in! (to help others)

… to figure out how good it is to do good!

It’s wonderful and fun to serve self. But many people never discover the greatness of giving.

I believe in Heaven! I look forward to continuing wondrous life

Bro. John Mira wakes up early Sunday mornings to lift up hearts at the “New Beginnings” rehab home in downtown Los Angeles.

in an even better place with loving people having lots of fun. We’ll worship God and have a blast!

It seems some will regret the wastefulness of their lives only too late. We should realize our potential for good now, not later. You have health and energy! Why not spend of your money, of your time, to do some good in the world!?

Poke through the clouds of oppression, into the light!

Give to the needy! Serve in a soup kitchen. Help out in a drug rehab home! Volunteer coach a soccer team. Work in a church. It will infuse you with so much positive energy and zest for life! Stop  grousing about how bad is your spouse or house. Stop looking to “get more out of life” and look to give more to life.

Make an impact in our generation!

John F. Kennedy inspired a generation with these words: Ask not what you’re country can give to you. Ask what you can give to your country.

Can we recapture altruism? Or has giving become “all-false-ism?”

Leftovers!

You’ll like these leftovers! They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over — Luke 9:17 NIV.

The most overlooked detail is the leftovers. Five thousand men were fed with only five loaves and two fish. But don’t miss the detail that they wound up with more at the end of the meal than what they started with. In mathematics: 12 baskets > 5 loaves + 2 fish.

That’s God’s provision — more than enough. He gives you for the journey afterward. We marvel at the 5,000 fed; we tend to miss to cache of grub to be stored away in the refrigerator.

When you pray for finances today for your ministry, pray for enough for your needs and then some leftovers for future needs! That’s the kind of God we serve!

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.

Not big nor difficult

For God, it’s…

Whether big or small, any miracle is equally easy for God. Just because your petition is “big” or “difficult” doesn’t mean it is any harder for God. Since he is all powerful, nothing is beyond His capabilities.

The reason why “small” miracles seem “easier” is a matter of us — not God. WE believe because it is small. We DON’T believe because it is “big.” But the size of the miracle is irrelevant to Supreme Power.

Let’s move some mountains!

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). Not every saying of Jesus appears in all the Gospels, but this one features throughout — and it even gets repeated in some of the Gospels. It’s as if God really wanted to underline the truth that WHATEVER or ANYTHING is possible for Him.

So today, pray and believe.

Life without struggle

 

Without struggle, there is no life.

Get used to struggle. Feel comfortable with it. Don’t run away, whine or complain because struggle is bound to be part of your life. We live in a fallen world. Life without struggle? No such.

Prayer is a key to triumph, not avoidance. David had his struggles. So did Noah. Daniel didn’t slip past it. Elijah went to the cave because of it. Jesus had the mightiest of all struggles. Paul was stoned and left for dead. John was exiled to Patmos.

Nelly and Pastor Ludving

My greatest, latest struggle has been for Nelly, the wife of the pastor who took over my Guatemalan church. She has off-the-charts arthritis and a recurring hernia. I grew anguished as I heard about her difficulties. But I was just in Guatemala and saw her laugh. She delighted in cooking food for me. We shared wonderful fellowship with her husband. I realized everything is going to be all right. My faith had been slipping. The struggle is great. I should keep my faith level high and not grow discouraged.

If we realize we can’t avoid struggle, we can embrace it. It is like the gym. Lifting weights makes muscles grow. Struggle makes faith grow.

 

Courage to face the day

Some need their energy drink. I need prayer.

It would be too easy just to resign myself, to stop fighting, to “read the writing on the wall.” Nothing will stop approaching disaster. Give up, accept it, God is not going to do it this time. After praying for Nelly’s hernia for a year, nothing has happened.

If I don’t go to prayer, I have a depressed day without faith. Murphy’s pessimism takes over my mind and heart. I get discouraged. Prayer pulls me out of the abyss. Prayer reminds me to rally faith in my heart, to believe, to continue to believe. Prayer reminds me that God gives last minute, glorious answers. Stay on track to faith.

As fast as a speeding train

The railroad company built a shield out the back of the car to lengthen the slipstream.

Charles Murphy became  the first man to ride a mile in a minute on a bicycle in 1899. He did so by laying wood planks between rails on Long Island and riding in the slipstream behind a speeding train. He proved his boast: the greatest limitation for the cyclist was not athleticism but wind resistance.

On the carpet of wooden planks laid for the event

Having completed the feat, Murphy was clasped and dragged from his still-moving bike into the back of the racing train. “I lay motionless, face down, on the platform. I was all in. I was half-carried to a cot at the end of the car; the roar of the train was challenged by hysterical yells. Grown men hugged and kissed each other. One man fainted and another went into hysterics, while I remained speechless on my back, ashen in colour and sore all over.”

It was a grand moment for cycling. Also, it was heyday for physics. By defeating wind drag, the cyclist could go faster and faster and faster.

Here’s a metaphor: prayer eliminates barriers, resistance, drag and other natural and human constraints on the man of God. The more you pray, the faster your ministry goes. It took Murphy and the Long Island Railroad a while to set up optimal conditions for the exposition record-breaking ride. But once they did, glory was won in less than 60 seconds. You may need time to set up “optimal conditions” in prayer that will flash in revival quickly.

The stampede

 

When thunder clapped, it sent the vast cattle herds of the Old West into a panicked stampede. At night, stampedes were guaranteed death because the animals would hurtle blindly into a river or off a cliff.

It was the cowboy’s job to race his horse to the front of the stampede and make the cows turn into a large circle where eventually the first cattle followed the last cattle. Thus, each cow, following the one in front, kept running in a circle until, exhausted, they fell down and rested.

It was a terrifying job to rush breakneck into complete darkness. But there was no other way to save the cows. It reminds of the pastor, who springs into action praying to offset the coming judgement of God over his church.

Prayer should be constant. It is also emergency-based. A prayer warrior is a cowboy.

 

Squatters and invaders

The Guatemalan poor have no land, so they gather a mob and all move in at once onto unoccupied land. These squatters are called “invaders,” and their removal from private property frequently leads to blood-shedding. They cling desperately to a place they wish to call home without having any right to be there.

This is a Biblical comparison, not a political commentary. Demons are invaders. They have no right, but they simply move in, through sin, and occupy the human heart and mind. They must be opposed and evicted with force. They cling desperately to the spot they have laid claim to.

When you pray, it is no grandmotherly knitting. It is doing violence to the kingdom of Hell. It is demanding they obey the rightful law of God, forcing them to submit to God’s superiority. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. — Matt. 11:12 KJV.

Canaan walk no cake walk

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. — Josh. 1:3 NIV.

To this wonderful promise, there was just one problem. The Israelites had to fight for it. The Canaan walk was no cake walk. They would establish DOMINION by endangering their lives. Blood, sweat and tears.

You too have the magnificent promise that you must establish dominion in your ministry. God will grant it. But it will not be an easy war. It will be long, arduous, painful — and underfunded.

Prayer is taking dominion. Don´t be surprised that demons don´t give up easily. They go down fighting. Really, they have nothing left to lose (they are destined to hell irremediably), and they fight like it. Pray more, pray harder, in the bank line, while driving, in a lull during that meeting. Every prayer is a sword strike against the enemy. Every prayer is another demon of the millions you must expel. Every prayer is finances for your ministry. Don´t pray a Caribbean hammock prayer; pray a war prayer.

What has God called you to? That is your Canaan in which you must fight to win dominion. God will grant it. But it will cost you dearly.

A tale of two brothers

Adolf and Rudolf Dassler inherited shoe-making from their dad, but they didn’t inherit love for each other. Adolf broke off their partnership and founded Addidas, while Rudolf founded Puma — both in the same German town of Herzogenaurach.

A rare photo where both brothers, left and middle, appear together

Their intense sibling rivalry led to unprecedented shoe wars waged through stepped-up bidding battles for the hottest athletes. In an attempt to stave off the spiraling sponsorship costs, both made a pact to not pursue Brazilian soccer genius Pele.

Pele led the Brazilians to World Cup glory in 1970

But Rudolf betrayed it. He paid $120,000 for Pele in the 1970 World Cup to ask the ref to not whistle the beginning so that he could tie his shoes. As worldwide television looked on at the cause of the delay, Puma won a publicity coup without parallel.

His brother never forgave him. The two are even buried in the farthest opposing extremities of the town cemetery.

Can’t we get along??? Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven — Matt. 18:19 NIV. We ought to get along at least enough to pray together.

The Dassler brothers only tamed their family war with the appearance of Nike, which blindsided them and stole huge shares of the athletics market. Only when the devil shows up, will we get along?

Would that Christians were weaver ants

From National Geographic

When weaver ants sense danger, it’s all hands on deck to protect the queen. They dogpile her in a protective ball of warriors, willing to cede their lives for the good of their leader. You see, the queen is the principal reproducer of the colony.

Do we protect our pastor, the principle reproducer of the church, this way? Sadly, all the warrior ants of the colony/church often attack the pastor and cut him to pieces instead of protecting him!

Mother Nature can teach us about Father God! If we will only pay attention to the lesson. We ought to defend our pastor, understand that after all he’s only a man. We pray for him, uphold him, encourage him, give him gifts of money as he needs.

Too many Christians have the mega-church mentality. We want a superstar pastor whose smooth and cool with no rough edges. We want a demigod, not a man of God. We need to be patient and loving with our pastor and stop demanding superhuman. capabilities. Let him have his feet on the Earth. Instead of complaining, pray for him!

We have not even begun to give!

 

Someone recently gave a handsome sum of money to a Third World church, and then prayed, “To whom much has been given, much is expected.” Since I lived 16 years in the Third World, I have a different perspective than most: We cannot apply this verse to others, only to ourselves.

I know firsthand how the Third World church lives: dirt floors, open sewage, malnutrition, roofs that fall in during a downpour. Christians serve 17-hour days. They walk to and from church 5 miles, through inclement weather, in danger of thieves.

How dare we? How dare we impose on Third World Christians a burden we would not lift ourselves? When we Americans feel like we have given until burnout, we are still FAR better off than 95% of the world.

Today’s blog is brash call to introspection. It is also a rousing cry to continue giving. Banish burnout from your mind and heart and continue to give. Because after all is said and done, we (Americans) only ever give of our excess.

 

When you reap what you didn’t sow

Money is a problem for us, not for God. We quote to our kids that money doesn’t grow on trees or appear out of thin air. But for God it does. He can make money appear from nowhere.

I harvest crops I didn’t plant and gather crops I didn’t cultivate. — Matt. 25:26. Many know God as the “God of the Harvest.” But do you know that He is also the “God of the Harvest that He did not Cultivate” and the “God of the Harvest You did not Cultivate.”

He can bring a windfall at any time — usually just in time (it always seems late). The word “windfall” is derived from the Middle Ages, when peasants were forbidden to chop wood for cooking. When a wind whipped up, it often blew down the necessary firewood. It was called a “windfall.”

God’s Wind, his Holy Spirit, will blow finances your way. Just pray. God’s harvest of unknown origins will be reaped into your barn. Just pray. Don’t chafe under the mounting bills. Trust and keep working for souls.

Wimpy blog

A funny thing happened in Sunday school yesterday. Elder Eli was teaching about being your brother’s keeper from Galatians 6:1: Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

As he expounded, a lot of us teens kept looking at each other with our eyes wide open, almost laughing, because it’s his kids who are the biggest trouble-makers. Basically, Mr. Eli was teaching us to tell on the youth who are messing up. It was funny because he didn’t show any signs of realizing the irony. He believes his kids are the angels of the church .

The other thing was not so funny though. We can’t tell on HIS kids because they’re bigger than my group of friends AND once you rat out someone you get a bad rap in the church so that no one wants to be your friend. Not that Harry or Phillip are friends of mine to worry about losing them.

I’ve grown up in church, so I’ve heard this lesson before. But you can’t actually apply some of the things of the Bible. You have to sort of filter the Bible and make adjustments for reality, you know? The unwritten rules are what’s important.