Good thing Venezuela and Mexico tied 1-1 because my friend, from Mexico, is married to a lady from Venezuela. Peace reigned that night over their house, and nobody had to sleep on the couch.
Ramon saw me in the open area of the apartment complex I manage and called me over. I thought “a moment” meant there was another problem to fix. It turned out it was the chance to watch the America Cup and eat pork ribs afterwards.
I unwisely started making observations about soccer quality. But since her family — all Venezuelan — jumped all over me for praising any Mexican player, I feared for my life and decided it was better to be quiet.
For most of the game, Venezuela — never before a soccer powerhouse — was winning from a stunning bicycle kick off header across the goal. My Venezuelan friends were cooing and clucking happily because Mexico has had a very good tournament was unbeaten for 21 games. But then with a mere 15 minutes to the final whistle, Corona single-handedly dribbled past five defenders to slot left.
Ramon erupted. I ventured a non-commital comment that the game was going to get good now, and the two teams battled to a draw.
Then the pork chops.
This is ministry. Don’t stress about getting people to church. Get yourself to people.
They asked me to pray for the food. It’s a small step, but in this guarded generation given to opposing the gospel, it was not insignificant.
When I was first a pastor, I felt uncomfortable with people giving to me or to the church. Now I understand better: any gift represents an investment. When people invest in you or your church, they are more committed (or closer to commitment) than you might imagine.
So yes, eating their sumptious pork chops is ministry.
Posted in Financial Talk, Valley Boy Pastor
Tagged Christianity, church, church plant, Faith, giving, God, Jesus, ministry, offering, pioneering, soccer, Van Nuys
After 35 years of not seeing my old friend, Channing and I got together. He found me on the internet. He’s face has changed, but his have-fun life philosophy remains the same. My face is the same and so is my faith.
Channing taught me to do a good deed every day. That lesson has stayed with me all these years.
We were two 12-year-olds heading off to Thrifty’s for ice-cream or candy. It was about a mile walk. Channing grabbed a straggler shopping car to push it home.
“Come on, Channing, leave it,” I said. “It’s gonna slow us down. It’s not your problem.”
His simple reply stuck with me all these years.
Sure, why not. I have time and energy. I can do a good deed. There is reward inherent in doing things not for a reward.
Now everybody leaves their shopping cars right where they parked their cars (here in Los Angeles). It used to be that people returned them to the corral for the supermarket guy to take in to the store, but people are more self-centered than decades ago. I always try to grab one or two and roll it up to the front of the store. I can do this. It doesn’t require much time or effort. Do a good deed just because.
After years of doing this thankless good deed, someone finally thanked me.
I have Channing to thank for the lesson.
Posted in Christianity, God, Haka Kekalainen
Tagged Christmas, Faith, family, friendship, giving, good deeds, guy friends, inspriation, Jesus, love, relationships, shopping carts
Levi shows why he’ll be midfielder.
This blog has always been about people. Even more than writing, I love interacting with and helping people. I’ve seen through the years how our school’s soccer team is another way to reach out to kids: to teach them discipline, excellence, respect and teamwork. Actually, I’m amazed at sport’s power to assist in the transformation of youth.
So I’m ask you, my loyal readers, if you can chip in for a scholarship for kids to play. Some kids can’t even afford the paltry $100 sports fee. Additionally, we need new penny jerseys and money for parents to drive kids to practices. There are park fees, game fees and referee fees. Pretty much everybody charges a fee except me. I do it because I love soccer and I love helping people. You can help too! Here’s my GoFundMe account gofundme.com/9tb5ehjw. (Sorry, looks like you have to cut and paste it due to WordPress’ refusal to transfer the link.) I’m trying to raise $750 for the benefit of the team. I need your help because I don’t have this money myself.
I’m excited for a new season. Thanks for helping!
Posted in Christian education, Christian middle school, Christian school, Christianity, Financial Talk
Tagged Christmas, Faith, giving, inspiration, Jesus, motivation, soccer, sports, thanksgiving
When she came to Christ last year, she was so excited that she began to rebuke classmates for their lackadaisical attitude toward God. She was the one salvation out of the school this year — until he accepted Christ just a few weeks ago when I visited Guatemala. Together, they are the fruit of this year at the Door Christian School in Guatemala.
The irony? We were considering cutting their studies program because of lack of funds. Why are effective ministries not funded? Why do Christians not pay their tithes and promises?
With the 4th grade in the school my wife and I founded almost 20 years ago.
Pushing paperwork is slow and tedious in the Third World, so I really had no idea how long it would take and rather arbitrarily bought a round-trip return flight for July 23. Now, I’m going to have to miss that flight, and there is no end in sight.
Because of government requirements for the school in Guatemala, I have to get the national identity card called DPI. To get this, I need to update my permanent residency. That is half done. But they just told me the other half will take at least a week. I’m not crying, though I do miss my wife and kids. I’m taking advantage to preach in the church and encourage the brethren.
All this means costs are rising of this trip. You can contribute by hitting my gofund.me/MikeToGuatemala.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged Christian school, church, Faith, fundraising, giving, God, Guatemala, help, Holy Spirit, Jesus, missions
If 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.
Posted in Christian love, church, fellowship
Tagged altruism, charity, children, Faith, family, giving, hope, Jesus, leadership, life, lifestyle, poor people
With my wife and the pastor in Guatemala.
They eat beans and tortillas six days a week, and on Sunday — their only day of chicken — they would give me the best piece. I felt as guilty as a convict but knew that I couldn’t refuse their hospitality.
I learned hospitality in Guatemala. In the United States, I learned self-sufficiency, every man for himself, get ahead of the other, only invite to eat if they invite you back.
When you’re in a house with dirt floor and sheet metal roof, it’s time to learn something new when people so poor give so richly. In the Bible, it is a great honor to receive strangers/guests into your house and provide them protection. The guests get treated even better than children.
When was the last time you invited someone to eat who stands no chance of paying you back? When have you given love to the unloveable? When have given to the point of forgoing once-weekly chicken yourself?
I am in Guatemala, delighting in its incomparable hospitality with the brethren of the church I founded.
After being a Christian for more than 35 years, I can’t really remember anyone ever say this: I need to give more.
No, through more than three decades of rubbing elbows with Christians, most often I hear people brag about how much they have already given. Usually, they compare themselves to others and point out how superior their giving us.
When someone gives quietly (without blowing the trumpet in announcement of his gift, as Jesus said), it inspires me to give.
When someone brags (and usually there’s an undertone of bitterness, as in: they wasted my gift), it’s completely uninspiring.
This Christmas, give without bragging and bitterness. Give God gold, frankincense and more.
My son, a freshman, who led our small high school’s varsity soccer team out of last place last year into fourth place this year, said this. I had no immediate response. The sheer profundity had to sink in slowly.
This was the game when we engineered the league’s biggest upset. The other coach was mad at his players. To be sure, they suffered from overconfidence at the beginning and depression at the end. But my players were sharp and worked hard. Robert wrecked havoc.
His response was to my urgings to see more leadership from him. His club team is losing. He scores goals, they lose anyway, he clams up. I told him to stop being such a nice guy, get in the face of his teammates and tell them to man up (they are afraid of the ball)*. I was completely unprepared for his answer. (You ought to listen to your teenager.)
It is hard to care when others don’t, when all around you is discouraging. Too true!
Lighthouse Christian Academy had its best season ever this year.
And yet this world needs desperately people who care — when it is hard. We need Christians who care when it seems like we are being overrun by the loud voices of hate. We need evangelizers when we get ignored, heckled, mocked. We need people not lulled into a false sense of security, hypnotized by the American good life.
This was our high school’s first game, when they got a tie and started to believe in themselves.
Maybe the reason why we don’t pray more is not laziness. Maybe we just don’t care. We need to care enough for others to pray. Jesus viewed with multitude “moved to compassion.” The disciples viewed them as a nuisance, or as a means to an end.
It’s been a week, and I’m still trying to formulate a response to Robert. How can I get him to care for his soccer team?
*Don’t worry. None of his club teammates or teammates’ families read this blog.
I don’t write hardly about the tithe, but I believe in it. Today, I’ve asked Jae to share her experiences, that might be useful to somebody. She’s an accomplished writer on wordpress, and I certainly enjoy her posts always. Here’s what she says:
As you can see clearly from her face, it’s Jae.
I have found that regularly donating a portion of my income to church and charity always keeps me in good financial hands. It doesn’t mean that I’m rich or that things aren’t tight, but it seems like when you give to God he always looks after you. I heard Jon Hunstman, Sr. once said, if you want to be rich find a charity and donate to it regularly. I think rich can be both a financial thing and a spiritual thing. I feel like because I try to be generous to the less fortunate with what little I have I’m “rich” in many ways and have a happy life.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged altruism, charity, Christianity, church, donations, giving, inspiration, life, lifestyle, money, sharing, sowing and reaping, tithing
Last night at church, the pastor issued a plea for a new couple, Jose and Mary, who were evicted and needed a place to stay until they get back on their feet. They are just recently moved here, and she’s pregnant — nine months. Can you believe that?
Why would they get pregnant without lots of dough stashed away in the bank? They no doubt don’t have health insurance, so it’s a typical case of taking advantage of the system. People need to be more responsible and stop looking for handouts.
I am voting for our family to NOT pitch it. We can’t simply help every time there’s a need. The way I see it, every dime that goes to charity is one less for my Christmas presents, and I’m hoping for the biggest haul ever this year!
Why don’t Mary and Jose go to THEIR parents. I’ll bet not even Santa Claus will give them anything. They probably didn’t behave themselves.
But the worst thing is that Mom and Dad talked about letting them stay at our house, at least on the couch. That’s creepy! Can you imagine running into the living room to open my goodies bright and early Christmas morning — and these strangers are there. What if they run off with the gifts during the night and disappear? Let them go to some homeless shelter to give birth there.
**** “Manual,” the fictitious persona of the Wimpy Christian, thanks the Wimpy Kid for his attitude and applies it to the church.
Posted in Christmas
Tagged blog of the wimpy Christian, church, comedy, donation, family, giving, humor, inspiration, love, Mary and Joseph, people, relationships, Santa Claus, wimpy Christian, wimpy kid
Shoes for Guatemalans
To my young mind, there was no doubt about it. Christmas was all about getting — as much as I could. A funny thing happened, that toy that looked like so much fun on the commercial… well , you know…
Helping One Voice divide up fruits and vegetables into bags for their Christmas baskets.
Something happened in the intervening years. I discovered the joy of giving. Disneyland was fun because it was fun to see my kids have fun. I gave even my life to the mission field — 16 years in Guatemala.
I just sent down a bunch of shoes. Poverty is such that shoes are among the hardest thing to come by for the natives (who work in our school and get paid a pittance because it is semi-self-supporting). My daughter is expert at firing through size, sex and price so that it didn’t become an hours-long ordeal.
My daughter played in the Scrooge drama put on by the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica
Giving is more satisfying that getting. Try it this year. Instead of begrudging the lack of Christmas presents, volunteer at a food distribution center. We helped One Voice in Santa Monica prepare food baskets.
Jenny, at right, with my daughter. She’s so shy that she doesn’t smile in front of the camera.
I just got off the phone with Pastor Ludving in Guatemala. His daughter, Jenny, has some problem with her eyes, but he stopped treating it with the doctor because of lack of money. All donations in December and January through my Donate option (PayPal) will go to her.
Posted in Christmas, Financial Talk
Tagged church, church ministry, donation, giving, God, Grinch, Guatemala, helping others, holidays, Jesus, ministry, Scrooge, service, serving
I don’t see why we have to do missions. I mean, isn’t God in control of everything anyway? So He can take care of giving those people the gospel. I’ve learned He’s sovereign. That’s a big fancy word which means He does whatever He wants and nobody can stop him.
And while I’m wondering, why do we have to evangelize? People can see a Bible any time they want to. Even if they don’t have one at home, when they go to a hotel, they can always find a copy in the drawer. So it’s their problem if they don’t read it.
Our church just sent Pablo and Frieda to the foreign field, and I’m pretty sore. I’m going to miss them. Pablo was a young adult that I really liked, a cool guy who led youth group. He would always talk to me and be friendly. Who cares about the foreigners who don’t have Jesus? That’s their problem. This is not to mention all the money that will be spent over there. It’s a waste.
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?”
Posted in inspiration
Tagged altruism, Christian, emptiness, fulfillment in life, giving, John F Kennedy, love, loving others, service, Soup kitchen, volunteer, volunteering, volunteerism
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.
As an estate planner formerly, my pastor would counsel people how to handle their retirement money: Give it all to your children now, before you die, because if you wait, the government is going to get a bunch of it.
As much as people didn’t want Uncle Sam to gobble his unfair share, they would always balk. They want to make sure they have enough in case they get sick. Or whatever. Inevitably, the IRS trundles away with the kids’ inheritance.
There is a lesson for us Christians: don’t hold back on giving to God. Only what you give is credited to your account in Heaven. Don’t wait for another day, a better offer, a wider safety margin. Because the devil is going for his oversized slice of the pie. Give it recklessly (that is, with faith). Throw caution to the wind and your money to the offering plate. God is able to keep you from the rainy day for which you are saving.