Tag Archives: hope

Compassion’s evil twin

imagesWhen I was kid, I felt sorry for myself intensely. When bigger kids pushed me around and my mom wouldn’t go out and make it right, I gloated on my woes. Self-pity has been an evil that has plagued me even up to the present.

from Kathy Long

from Kathy Long

The good thing is that she has a twin called Compassion. As with many “evils,” you can flip them and make them good. When I took aptitude tests in high school, I scored low or average on everything — but they didn’t even measure the deep well of gifting God had given me. Compassion and empathy have driven years of successful ministry. Feeling others’ pain keeps me in prayer.

Self-aggrandizement is a wicked

from Three Chad Presents Stunning Photos

from Three Chad Presents Stunning Photos

motivation to get in ministry. The only true calling is serving others. Consider the contrast: Jesus reflects on the hungry multitudes, “I have compassion on them.” The disciples reflect harsh realities, “And where are we gonna get the money to feed them???” (Matt 15 32 – 39).

Are there others in your world or just yourself? Pic from Unbelievable Pictures

Are there others in your world or just yourself? Pic from Unbelievable Pictures

Are you more like Christ or his disciples? The case is all the worse if you realize the disciples HAD the money to buy enough food (Luke 8:3) — they just were selfish! Compassionlessness is ugly.

So if you suffer from self-pity, don’t despair. Just turn your eyes outward, and you’ll become a marvelously effective servant of God/ of humanity!

Small victories

Rob Ashcraft poses with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Rob Ashcraft poses after the game with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Saints soccer continues to rock and roll.

The Lighthouse Christian Academy entered the Christmas break with its third victory – a scrappy 1-0 win against Wildwood. A handy piece of footwork by Junior Luis Secaira confounded defenders and stunned the goalie, who watched woefully as the ball slotted on the near post.

After the vacation, the Saints have simply been outgunned by vastly superior teams. They lost to league leaders Lennox 0-8 and to New Roads 0-7. To the uninitiated, the defeats appear to spell out an uncommon nosedive.

In reality, the team keeps improving. It’s just hard to take on varsity teams with mostly senior and club players when you have half a team of girls and players from all grades. How are freshman girls going to beat senior boys?

On Monday, the Saints put a thump on the slump. Facing the impeccable Vistamar, the Saints scored in the last minute. Midfielder Elijah “Taz” Symonds chipped from the corner to Freshman Rob Ashcraft, who didn’t err with an unusual karate kick in front of goal.

It was the first time in the history of LCA soccer that the Saints scored against Vistamar, whose players are groomed for soccer from the cradle. With that goal, Lighthouse sent a message that it will not succumb to defeatism. It is no longer the whipping boy of the league.

Though much progress needs to be made, LCA can revel in solid – though incremental — improvement and press on to a glorious future.

“We won!” quipped Junior Tori Scribner, comprehending the significance of the goal, in spite of losing 1-8.

Remaining for the Saints are only four games, and Coach Mike Ashcraft thinks we stand a good chance to win against Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes on Wednesday.

Whatever your stage in life, celebrate the small victories. They lead to big ones!

Broke girls as praying girls

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

Being broke is good — for prayer.

I often rued the crushing mortgage that crowded my prayer time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful just to pray for souls and not have to worry about dollars? Alas, now I no longer have such mind-numbing payments — and now (I’m ashamed to admit) it’s hard to raise the temperature of my prayers.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

Don’t despair the problem driving you to your knees! Worse is flatlining! The Salvation Army’s founder went so far as to say he wanted his workers in debt to guarantee they would constantly pray!

When the answer does not immediately come, there is a need for patience. Don’t stress out, burn out or flame out. Stick to prayer. God is answering!

I haven’t seen the “Two Broke Girls,” the

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

latest drivel from Hollywood. I only know that being broke — whether you’re two girls, three guys, or a ministerial family — has a flip side.

Handling losing

From Smashing Photo

From Smashing Photo

That's me with the kids!

That’s me with the kids!

We lost Tuesday 8-0. We lost today 8-0. We are facing tougher teams; ours is absorbing injuries. Kids have skipped practices, and the results are manifest on the field. When Lighthouse Christian Academy tied our first soccer game, when won our second 9-2, when we won a

From Via Vigevano

From Via Vigevano: Read closely!

couple more, it was exciting, easy to want to play and put in the effort.

Now it is hard. Kids might want to bail out. But now is exactly the moment of character, the foundation of excellence. If we allow ourselves to become “losers” in our minds, then we will. If not, we will win again this season, and we will win next year!

The reality of life is that everyone loses more than wins. What you do when you lose makes you win.

Faith does not drag down with discouragement. It remains buoyant, hopeful, expectant of good. It persists. It constantly looks for the victory just around the corner.

Once a failure, always a…

72409506479213917_hXOrEUnr_cSeven failures in a row do not make you a failure.

Just ask George Washington. He lost seven successive battles but won the war. He was voted president of the newly formed United States of America. His revolution inspired freedom movements among colonies in both Americas (North and South).

imagesDid he kick himself for mucking up when he became famous for retreating? Did he grovel with feelings of inadequacy? I don’t know. What I do know is that he continued fighting until he won. Place no time limits on God. If things don’t work out well now, they may later. Don’t despair, just keep plugging away!

Every time you fail, you’re one step closer to the formula of success!

Too many head trips

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

I am a great dramatist! But only in my own mind. I rehearse interactions with people over and over. I’m quite sardonic, tragic and full of pathos. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my rehearsals never come before a true-life audience.

Unfortunately, the majority of these rehearsals played in the theater of my mind are negative.

my thoughts under water pressure

my thoughts under water pressure

I’m venting bitterness. I’m being vindicated from all those who have insulted me. These incessantly replaying scenarios are unhealthy. Their product is discouragement.

When I get discouraged, I flatline.

I need to get victory over my

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

demons. The Bible says: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV. It is easy to succumb to disgruntles. It requires immense effort to keep optimism when surrounded by a howling storm of negativism.

Break through the clouds over your mind. Photo Pinterest

Break through the clouds over your mind!

The answer to the litany of complaints in your brain is NOT imagining dramatic conclusions. The answer is to silence them. Raise rank and disburse orders to shut up all the negative minions mocking you. You can gag the suckers, but it takes an active decision on your part. You must force them.

The beetle curl

9360260-woman-smiling-showing-yellow-flowers-isolated-on-white-background-beautiful-fresh-young-mixed-race-aMy friend goes into a beetle curl. A search engine optimization genius, he nonetheless has not met with financial success — yet. There are so many things he could do to promote his business that he doesn’t know which to do. Failure has hounded him. Worse of all, it hounds him in his mind. Depression descends on him, and he gets in bed, unable to move.

Pic from Pinterest

Pic from Pinterest

Pic Naokihan

Pic Naokihan

Yeah, I know exactly what he’s going through. I WAS a successful missionary. Not anymore. Now I can’t seem to hit the mark here in the United States. After 16 years of being out of the country, it would appear I am defunct. Sometimes, I just want to go into the beetle curl.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

Here’s the lessons if you ever  feel like that:

1) Keep doing right things, even though everything screams to you that it’s not working.

2) Find someone who can speak encouragement to you. Shut out negativity.

rockettopad3) Confess positive words over yourself. Believe in yourself. (You might as well do it; no one else will do that in this pernicious world.) Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue. What you say about you becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy..

From Laurie Coombs

From Laurie Coombs

4) Drink coffee! No joking! Eat balanced diet. Exercise. Let sunlight in. Read uplifting material. Listen to uplifting music. Watch inspiring movies. Etc.

5) When all else fails, go ahead and go into the beetle curl. Sleep a bunch. Things will look better after rest!

Helpless, but not hopeless

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

You feel like an cornered animal. You want your parents to stop fighting, and there is nothing you can do. You want your husband to be the good father your kids need, and he continues unfaithful or abusive. You have cancer.

Americans love — no, need — to have everything under control. What do you do when life spins out of control? Frustration boils over. How do you keep sane in insane circumstances? How do you tolerate intolerable acts?

I was falsely accused by an extortionist in Guatemala. It was a “big bad gringo takes

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

advantage of a helpless Guatemalan” scenario. I was very much afraid I would be sent to jail, but since the accusations were utterly false, I would not capitulate to the extortion (If he pays $—-, I will drop the charges).

I fasted four days a week. I went to bed afraid the cops would come and get me. I woke up thinking the cops would pick me up.

369787819373451012_bQuSJOKx_bWell, I got a lawyer. God defended me. Innocent I was, and I was found innocent.

Don’t run away screaming. Don’t cut your wrist. Don’t intern yourself in a mental institution. You need something to hold on to when your world tumbles down like the proverbial house of cards.

We Christians hold on to God. He is a friend and a lover. When everything you always wanted becomes everything you always feared, God will sustain you if you flee to him. You may be helpless to change unchangeable circumstances, but hopeless you are not.

Wreck-It Ralph fixes

imagesPassing through the power cables at an old school video arcade from one game to another, a hulking, 9-foot tall wrecker named Ralph strikes up a friendship with feisty, pint-sized girl racer named Vanellope. Because she’s a images-2“glitch,” they won’t allow her to race with the other girls in Candyland.

This charming movie has won my heart because it’s about relationships. No one hardly is aware of others’ experiences images-1with rejection. In one scene, Fix-It Felix Jr. whines to his villain counterpart Ralph about suffering unrequited love. “You wouldn’t know anything about it,” he complains.

“Yes, I do,” Ralph responds. “It’s the story of my life everyday.”

02WRECKIT1_SPAN-articleLargeFelix’s countenance softens. He finally understands that the “bad guy” in his game feels left out by the others. The heart-warming takes place on various levels of conflict and misunderstanding.

images-3The story is highly imaginative and the interaction between video game characters, both known and unknown to gamers, is delightful. The movie is a gem amidst the piles of rubbish churned out by Hollywood. The plot never images-4bores. (Most movies make my eyes glaze, and I usually just walk out of the room from boredom.)

Wreck-It Ralph is more than just a great children’s movie. It is absolutely a contribution to humanity. Wreck-It Ralph wrecks buildings but fixes friendships.

 

Reinvent yourself

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

When you open your mouth, do you burn those around you? Change, this year. Art thanks to =Culpeo-Fox

Has life been beating you up?

Has life been beating you up?

I was something of a Christian cop. I actually believed it was my job to ease people back to the right path if they took one false step. I wasn’t really popular. More accurately, people were riled, and they almost expelled me from ministry.

I needed to change, to evolve, to retool. I didn’t need some computer-aided enhancements; I needed major plastic surgery.

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Bring peace to your life. Photo thanks to EcoGreen

Politicians reinvent themselves if they lose an election and reformulate for another try. It takes a lot of gut-wrenching soul-searching. Basically, you look at yourself and — instead of justifying your actions, which comes natural to everyone all the time — you look critically in the mirror. You take out a machete and begin hacking away. Then you CHANGE.

This metamorphosis makes every tissue in your soul shudder. This coming year — instead jotting down flimsy

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

Time is rushing on! Do what you need to do, NOW! Photo thanks to gisell chanden project

halffull“resolutions” that get jettisoned shortly after takeoff — go from worm to butterfly.

Your marriage needs it. Your ministry. Your kids need to see a totally different you. Your boss is giving you just one last chance. You’re going to be responsible. Patient. Kind. Unselfish. Not angry. Whatever. You CAN do it.

Well, my popularity rating has shot up. I don’t think I’m the favorite person in the church, but I’m no longer the Mr Scowlface. I encourage you for 2013, make drastic change.

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!)

 

When lions are circling…

images-5Circling, circling around their prey, the hungry lions will overpower the man in an instant. The lions’ dungeon is capital punishment in the Persian Empire.

They stride steadily, eyeing the poor Jewish eunuch. At any moment, they will leap crush the helpless man with claw and tooth. Each minute seems like an eternity. And yet each minute passes and give way to another eternity. Strangely not a lion goes for the images-7kill. They menace, gaping hungrily at him. But the entire night passes, and they don’t eat Daniel.

Early in the morning comes the king, who was tricked into throwing his favorite administrator into this hellhole, to see if God delivered him. He calls, and Daniel responds: My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in lion-closeuphis sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king. — Daniel 6:22 NIV.

Similarly, trials are circling you. At every step, they threaten to sink you. Dont panic. Don’t run away. Don’t quit ministry. You only must remember how God delivered Daniel. Though the lions COULD overpower you, they WON’T. Pray and wait for the morning.

The purpose of trials

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

The purpose of trials is to build your faith.

To lead you to depend more on God.

Sadly, many instead lose their faith at this point. And they decide life is arbitrary, that there is no justice, no overarching design nor control, no

When life gets hard, look up.

When life gets hard, look up.

providence. Life is meaningless, they say. (Yet they still try to imbue it with meaning.)

Go back to God again and again until your trial turns to triumph.

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.

 

I’ll take hope!

Frederich Nietzsche repudiated hope. He energetically discredited Christianity and morality. In its place, he taught nihilism, the belief in nothing. As a result, he went mad for 10 years prior to his death. His legacy? He inspired Hitler to carry out the nefarious pogrom against the Jews. His heirs — the existentialists like Beckett, Sartre and Camus — have continued to strip Western Civilization of its Christian moorings. Society applauded their philosophies and then wondered why massacres occur.

what was the rainbow made for?

I’ll take hope over hopelessness any day! Hope is a gift from God. There is no hope outside of God.

Hope is the middle child sandwiched between her famous sisters: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. — 1 Cor. 13:13 NIV. Though “hope” gets a lot less press, she is by no means the lesser child.

The greatest possession you could have is hope. Once you have lost hope, you have expired.

Christianity has been the piñata for philosophers for a long time. What they offer in its place is despair and drinking. True Christianity — not the perversions false Christians cite — is the only source of hope for humanity.

 

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.

 

Invisibility

Science fiction has toyed with invisibility. I’m no science fiction nut, but I’m a fanatic for the invisible.

Star-Trek had the cloaking device. H.G. Wells made the Invisible Man. Nature has camouflage, and the military has radar-evasion.

The Invisible Man

Christianity has prayer. We pray not for things that can already be seen. Things that can’t even be conceived by the human brain. Wow!

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope. — Rom. 8:24 NIV. What’s important is to notice that hope is the motor of prayer. What Romans says is that we cannot see the answer. But we can know that God will respond.

We cannot plan for His response. We cannot conceptualize it. We cannot see it even in our mind’s eye. If you’re desperate today because you can see NOTHING on the horizon to meet your need, then that’s where faith kicks in. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Don’t waver, keep trusting, keep praying. God’s got an invisible answer that he will bring into visibility.

If I can see it, it’s not faith. If it’s invisible to me, then it is what God will do. To be a Christian, you must have hope

Soon enough

 

If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it may just be a long tunnel. Don’t despair and tap out. God is not pummeling you. He’s not your enemy, laying mines to blow you up along the path. The picture of the angel of the Lord with sword drawn ready to strike Balaam is not you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” — Jer. 29:11 NIV. In all of the canon, this verse echoes into the future and into the past. From Genesis to Revelation, this one scripture rings forth. Its context: God had just punished the Jews, sending them into Babylonian captivity.

They’re confused, bewildered, overwhelmed. The punishments seem unbearable, the virtual extermination of God’s people on Earth. When they have no hope, God delivers this prophecy: Have hope. In the captivity, God prospered and favored the Jews (look at Mordecai and Esther). Then, God returned them from captivity (look at Ezra and Nehemiah).

God’s thoughts for us are likewise to prosper us. When you feel shell-shocked, look up to God with hope in prayer. He will prosper you soon enough.

 

Don’t just survive, thrive!

 

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

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

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