Tag Archives: inspiration

He who has the MOST HIGH never needs to get high

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

God doesn’t open doors. He opens seas.

God doesn't open doors. He opens seas.

*I don’t own rights to the original, and I’m not making any money on it.

Out of poverty and alcohol surfaces an avid evangelizer of Guatemala’s drug neighborhood

barrio el Gallito zona 3 ciudad de Guatemala | cristiano
His dad was a philandering dentist, who plied a young woman with alcohol to take advantage of her.

From that unholy union, Douglas Barillas was born. He can’t remember a time when he wasn’t hungry as a child. He grew up with his grandparents in the poorest neighborhood in Guatemala City, El Gallito.

Neighbors paid him five cents to carry the trash to the public dumpster. It was enough for him to buy a hot, thick drink made of grains, a chuchito (similar to a tamale), and a couple bananas.

photo(143)

When there was nothing to eat, he would walk a few miles with his grandmother to his dad’s dentistry office to ask for five or 10 quetzals (Guatemalan currency). His dad, with a look of disgust and sometimes an insult, would give it to him.

Pain piled up in his heart.

When he was 12, his dad had a client come out and look at him. “Don Guillermo, this boy is not your son. Look at his eyes. They’re different,” she said. It was a greater humiliation than ever.

“I threw the five quetzals in his face,” Douglas remembers. “I needed the five quetzals to eat. But I had my pride. I told him, ‘I’m sorry, but never again will I come here to look for you.’” Find out how Douglas got saved and changed his life here.

Please pray for Ricardo

Richard in GuatemalaHe’s my dear brother, who, because he slipped up with drugs, believes there’s no hope. He won’t even come to church.

Ricardo is the nicest guy. God transformed him once, and he was attending service. But he gave into temptation at some point and has been bottom-dwelling for about five years now. I know God has great things for him.

On this blog, I’ve asked for finances on my gofundme account. But today, I don’t need your money. I need your prayers — for my dear son in the Lord.

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.

Winning British Open, Zach Johnson glorifies God

2015-british-open-st-andrewsWith scriptures running through his head, Zach Johnson became only one of six golfers to win the Masters at Augusta and the British Open at St. Andrew’s when he beat two others in playoffs for the coveted Claret Jug on July 20.

“I was patient,” said the 39-year-old from Cedars Rapids, Iowa. “I had some Scripture going in my head. I thank the Lord. I thank my friends. I thank my family. I’m just in awe right now. I feel like God gave me the ability to play a game. I’m just a guy from Iowa who’s been blessed with a talent, and this game provided great opportunity.”

Among PGA players, Johnson is not known for killing the ball; he drives 280 yards per stroke. Nor is he the pinpoint putter. But he prepares diligently. When rain postponed a whole day of play, he was practicing wedge shots with his caddie, gauging differing wind conditions.

And he kept calm, remembering Psalm 27:14 throughout his play on the legendary Old Course: “Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.”

To finish the article click here.

Change is necessary

change is necessaryYou’ve been fighting it for years. You’re in denial. You don’t need to change; it’s your spouse. You don’t need to change your diet. You don’t need to seek God.

But the wrong-doing — even when you insist you’re doing nothing wrong — catches up with all of us. And we have to make a change.

I rejoice at seeing chubby people at the gym. They got a bit out of hand, but they are taking control of their lives. I recently met a man who gave up sugar and goes to the gym. He’s off the myriad daily pills his doctor gave him before. And he looks a lot younger than he is.

It’s time to turn to God. Don’t fear the changes in your life. They will bring good results to your life.

*I don’t own the image, and I’m not making any money on it.

Change is easy

change is easy

Friday night was temptation for me when I was in college. So I started attending my church’s Spanish service. I practiced my linguistic abilities, made friends and kept my distance from sin.

Sometimes the changes we need in our lives are not as hard as we imagine. All you need is a good attitude and make a simple change.

The television was a source of temptation for us. We got rid of it. Now we have more time to serve Jesus, and that makes us happy.

Don’t suffer. Sometimes all you need to do is tweek your routine ever so slightly to make a big difference in the results. Change can be easy.

Change is possible

change

This is what makes us human. We can analyze. We can improve. We can alter habits, thought patterns and outcomes. If we are doing poorly, we can’t get in the lane headed towards success.

This is what makes us Christians. We embrace change, change brought from above, supernatural change. Hopelessness is discarded. Joy replaces it. Love fills the heart, peace, the mind.

Don’t keep suffering. Don’t stay the same. Jesus wants to help you change.

*I don’t own the rights to the original pic, and I’m not making any money on it.

A street kid off the streets, only through the power of Christ

Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta Zona 1 Ciudad Guatemala

Daniel poses with me a few days ago.

He slept on the streets with only cardboard boxes for a cushion — and he slept well “as if it were the best hotel in the world,” Daniel Paz says.

This was the life. Rebellious, he had left home when he was 14, and now the 20 or so street kids who inhabited the Plaza Mariachi in Guatemala City were his comrades of the wild, “happy” life of no rules, no one to tell him what to do, or what not to do.

The phenomenon of street children is widespread in Latin America, and governmental agencies have been largely ineffective in their efforts to rescue and re-incorporate into society the millions of minors who make their beds on cement. A large-scale effort in Brazil that institutionalized half a million street kids in 1985 failed, according to Wikipedia.

The key for Daniel, who spent 15 years on the streets, was Christ, and his story speaks to the church’s need to be the answer.

While his friends inhaled wood alcohol and shoe glue, Daniel kept the party life low key – mostly drinking beer and smoking. This was God moving in his life because the  cheaper drugs they consumed burned brain cells.

Daniel had accepted Christ once when he saw Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” in a church in his neighborhood when he was 12.

“Before that, I had never heard anything about Christ,” he says. “I knew nothing about the devil, about sin, about the world. I knew nothing about salvation.”

Unfortunately, Daniel didn’t keep attending services beyond two months. Rebelliousness won out – for a while.

After turning his back on his emerging faith, Daniel made his home in the streets. Most of the time, he made money selling plastic roses to romantic couples in restaurants and bars. A lot of his clients were the guys who fell for bar girls, who moonlighted as prostitutes.

Daniel was affable and flirted with these girls. They liked Daniel and would turn their charms on patrons: “Aw! Buy me a roooose” they would whine romantically. If the patron liked the girl, he would pay for it and give it to her.

For a brief period, Daniel fell into robbery. He and four street kids would strike at night surrounding any person who was walking home alone. They never used a weapon but would intimidate and demand the victim hand over wallet and cell phone. Read the rest of the article.

What a difference God’s love makes!

nurturing loveI have found love in God! You can too!

Or you can try to get by without it. Good luck.

*I don’t own the rights to this pic. It’s by crazy-frankenstein. I am not making any money on it. Kudos to the artist who did this. It’s really cool. I just added words to it.

Identify yourself as closely as possible with your target audience

Guatemala ministries

All the kids gather for a photo with birthday hats on.

That’s what Jesus did. He didn’t stay aloof but descended from Heaven and took the form of man to earn us salvation.

When you reach out to people, you should become one of them (there are exceptions).

In the photo, I’m with the kids, whom I love, from the church and school in Guatemala that my wife and I started (although really God started it) 20 years ago.

You gain nothing by making yourself superior to others, standoffish, untouchable. People want a tangible and real person to follow, not an image from afar.

Christ brings color to your life

color to your lifeTired of drab? Jesus will take your black-and-white life of money or sin and paint something beautiful out of it. He made me a person who helps other out of self-destruction. First I was a missionary in Guatemala. Now I work in a Christian school. You can have a purpose in your life!

*Photo Credit: James M. Berry, photographer extraordinaire, and a great friend.

Narrow places

narrow path ChristianityThe Narrows enjoys status as maximum attraction in Zion National Park. Indeed, the charming stream has carved through the rock canyon some of the eeriest and most beautiful geological sights in the world.

Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only  a few find it. — Matthew 7:14 NIV. Lots of youth abandon the church because they long for freedom — freedom to sin. The chafe against the strictures of the Word of God. They want to drink or fornicate.

But beauty is in the narrow way of Jesus. There is love, friendship, successful family, peace, joy, blessing.

Zion National Park | NarrowsWhile you are leaving the church happy to be “free,” notice first those who are coming into the church wanting to be free from drugs, alcohol, and the myriad of traps the devil tends with sophisticated arguments from the universities of America.

You can come back. We welcome and love you. As for me, I want to stay in the Narrows.

Goodbye, for now. Hello soon. (True friendship)

She left our school this year to move to the East Coast with her family. Goodbye.

She left our school this year to move to the East Coast with her family. Goodbye.

You never really say goodbye in Christianity.

One of the hardest things about ministry is when people leave because you love them.

But I’ve hung around long enough to see that Christian friends are true friends. I would venture to say that only Christian friends can be true friends. Because they offer a friendship that doesn’t die out through separation or adversity.

And yes, some friends we won’t see until Heaven.

Guatemala mission

With my longtime friends, Aparicio and Max, at the church we founded 20 years ago. Only in Christ does friendship last.

But on my trip to Guatemala, I’ve been reunited with friends, guys who helped form the church 20 years ago when I was a missionary here. We were great friends, comrades in the war for souls. And we still are great friends.

Former Sandinista now part of God’s army

Alex Delgado | Guatemalan church La PuertaThe Contras slipped in during the wee hours of the morning and slit the throats of sleeping Sandinistas, sometimes 30, sometimes 50, sometimes the whole battalion of 350 before they disappeared undetected into the forbidding jungle.

Not so with Alex Delgado’s battalion. His lieutenant had received training from the strictest military specialists in communist bloc East Germany, and Tito Castillo never let a guard fall asleep.

Alex didn’t join the Sandinistas, the former Marxist government of Nicaragua that the Contras sought to topple, because of ideology. As a matter of fact, Alex really had no idea about the meaning of communism and capitalism.

He was just an 18-year-old, the seventh child in his family, ignored among the many mouths to feed. With no one pushing him to study, with no future in sight, Alex got swept up in the euphoria at the beginnings of the Sandinista government with hopes of eradicating the corruption of the former regime.

But the decision to join what seemed like a winning cause turned into two years of sheer misery. He trudged 10 hours a day, in danger of ambush, in danger of trip wires, gathering energy from inadequate food (they once made soup with roots and tree limbs).

His commander voiced vivid dreams of finding the enemy and decimating them in combat. Inside, Alex prayed to a God he didn’t yet know to never find the enemy – and God granted his wish. The only deaths in his battalion were from an ambush on a supply pickup and a friend while fording a river.

Body bags from other battalions flooded homes; sometimes they were left on the doorstep to be found by parents after soldiers rang the doorbell and fled at midnight.  For the rest of the article, click here.

Life is like an airplane trip

life is an airplane tripAtheists deny the final destination. They affirm only what they can see and perceive immediately in front of them.

Hedonists try to enjoy the ride as much as possible because they’re not sure if there’s anything afterward.

But the airplane trip is just an airplane trip. Compared to eternity, life is short, uncomfortable and unpleasant. You can pay for more amenities. But the final destination is where the enjoyment really begins.

Don’t make the trip your everything.

Faith girl

Iglesia Cristian La Puerta | GuatemalaWhen her husband wasn’t doing well, she continued serving the Lord. When her friends counseled her to leave the church, she counseled them to come back to church. When her children didn’t do so well, she kept encouraging them to come back.

Blanca has been an amazing woman of faith. When others around get discouraged, make poor decisions and spout negativisms, she remains steadfast with her God. She’s a hero, as far as I’m concerned. I want to be like people like that.

Here are the rewards (People are the best reward)

Liceo bilingue La Puerta | GuatemalaYou give your life. You help people instead of helping yourself. You wonder is it worth it?

Here are the results. She became a dentist. He is becoming an architect. The other sister is in charge of a call center. The English I taught them helped them all. They attended our Christian school in Guatemala.

It has been many years since I have seen them. To see them achieving success in Guatemala makes me satisfied. My wife and I did all we could to help. God and their parents did the rest.

A big shout out

And the kudos are for you too! There are those who gave to my fundraising campaign and those who will give you. But the Bible says you share in the fruits. We put the ticket for me to come down her on the credit card, and we still have not raised up full support. So thank you for pitching in! Here’s the link to contribute gofund.me/MikeToGuatemala

Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta | GuatemalaJohn Mira preached and I translated. He already returned to the United States, and I’m staying here to move paperwork with the government for the school. I’m preaching the regular services. God moved powerfully last night.

People are the best reward.

The beauty of children

colegio cristiano guatemala

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

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

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

John Mira, man of God

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

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

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.

He once caroused the streets of Scotland. Now he preaches in them.

Scotland Christianity revivalFor his 40th birthday he planned a 3-day drinking binge at a hotel in Edinburgh for him and five buddies, but his Dad called. His mother was deathly sick.

At the hospital, the surgeon said his mom, who had suffered a massive heart attack, had two days to live. Stephen Christie let his born-again sister stay with her that night, and he would come in the morning.

“When I went in the very next day, I didn’t know what to expect,” Steve says. “What was I going to see? Am I going to see sadness or depression? Am I going to see tears nonstop? I walked into the hospital room, and there my mom was lying in her bed, knowing she’s going to die, but with a huge grin on her face.

“I asked my sister Jacqi, ‘What’s happened? Has he got the wrong diagnosis?’ She said, ‘No, Steve, it’s better. Mom is saved.’

“I went, ‘Saved? Saved from what?’”

Four years ago, the baffling grin of a dying mom was the first “link of the chain” leading Steve, now 44, to salvation and to outreach in the streets. Today, the Scotsman from Aberdeen chides himself for shelving the Bibles, tracts and CDs his sister left in an effort to see him come to Christ.

His conversion and subsequent involvement in ministry is heartening for a nation that helped found the Protestant Reformation through John Knox but now languishes in spiritual apathy that many observers call “post Christian” times. Read the rest of the article.

Walls are NOT for good people

walls are for bad people, not goodWalls are for bad people. They either KEEP OUT wrongdoers (such as thieves from your house) or they KEEP IN wrongdoers (such as prison convicts). But the good person is free to go in or out as he pleases.

When we look at God’s law as walls, we need to keep this in mind. God’s walls are not restrictions on our fun, to keep us pinned in to His boring Kingdom, as some see it. They are protections against all the harm the devil wants to bring on us.

Ask the hopeless drug addict if he could have done it all over would he never touch drugs. Ask the alcoholic if it would have been preferable to never taste liquor. Ask a million and one people destroyed by sin if God’s walls were arbitrary morals imposed upon them by cruel religious people who had no right to tell others what to do. Go ahead, ask them.

Ask the people in Hell.

Don’t chaff at Christianity’s “limitations,” viewing them as a horrible prison to suppress your freedoms. No, you are free to go. You are a good person. Walls are NOT for the good person. They are for the bad person.

Souls are crying

Gautemala mission

My Korean missionary friend at left, my Egyptian Christian friend at right.

I hear their cry, their agony. People need Christ. I’m heading back to Guatemala on a 3-week mission trip to restore and work in the church and school I planted there five years ago (I was there 15 years).

You can help in this project. You can donate by clicking http://www.gofundme.com/MikeToGuatemala. A lot of my blogger friends already have, but I’m still not halfway to the goal. When you give, when you pray for me, you participate in this mission, and you share in the Heavenly rewards.

I’ll be writing soon from Guatemala about all the adventures, challenges and victories. Thank you for supporting me!

Driven to your knees

driven to your kneesPerfect. Then you are ready to pray.

The adventures continue

Mike Ashcraft to Guatemala

My brother at left is an engineer. He likes to smirk.

Pathos is my passion. Wherever there are humans involved in a titanic struggle to alleviate the evils of our world, that’s where I’m helping and writing. God has given me a gift for communication.

Now, I’m going to Guatemala, my old stomping ground. I raised up a school to help the poor in the Capital City. They pay only a fraction of costs. Recently, the government has cited an audit, and I need to hurry down to  take care of paperwork.

Of course, while I’m there, I’ll be bringing to this blog some of the great stories of struggle and triumph, of the humans spirit almost breaking under pressure, like I’ve always done.

Why am I telling you this beforehand? I need a little bit of help. Fund my trip to Guatemala. Whatever you can pitch in is greatly appreciated. I’m “scheduling” this post ahead of time because I don’t think I’ll have internet access. So far Carmen Lezeth Suarez has very graciously donated. I want to encourage you too to pitch in. Click the link to go directly to my campaign. Thank you! http://www.gofundme.com/MikeToGuatemala

I love waterfalls


I’m from parched California. We can’t take showers any longer.

So you can imagine how strange I felt driving over river after river in Idaho to visit my brother in Idaho Falls. Then we visited Lower and Upper Mesa Falls in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. If I could live near waterfalls, I would.

Water is life, beauty, tranquility.

Jesus is the water of eternal life. My waterfall is my church.

People who say they don’t need church are spiritually drought-stricken.

Fund me, please

Mike Ashcraft | Guatemala

I’m visiting my brother in Idaho Falls

Hey hey! to all my loyal followers. This blog has been a spot for inspiration, for gently challenging atheists, for encouraging Christians. I’ve brought you tales from all over the globe. I’ve incorporated my reporting for GodReports.com

As much cool stuff as I’ve done, I don’t get paid to blog. I also don’t get paid as a high school teacher at a small private Christian school. So I’m asking for a little bit of help to get to Guatemala, to the church my wife and I founded starting 20 years ago. I haven’t checked airfares yet, but it’ll probably be $750.

I’m asking you to support me http://www.gofundme.com/MikeToGuatemala. I totally understand if you don’t have any spare cash to help out (that’s the way I am! :D). But maybe some of you guys can help. I really appreciate it!

Pray, don’t panic

dont panic just pray

I don’t subscribe to the myth that I have everything under control. There are people who actually believe that they have so much money, talent, good looks, whatever, that they always will win in life.

Sometimes things appear to spin out of control. In those moments, I need to stay calm and remember who I am trusting. Don’t panic; just pray.

He stole cars. Then Jesus stole his heart.

Pastor Chayo Perez

With his wife and two of his four children at the Tucson Door Church Bible conference.

By age 14, Rosario “Chayo” Perez was stealing pickup trucks from Tucson and bringing them across the border, where mafiosos paid him $1,000 each.

“When you’re 14, and you’re making $1,000 a week, that’s good money,” he says. He dropped out of school after finishing the 6th grade. “I figured, ‘Why would I need school?’”

When Chayo was 16, his best friend was murdered at his house on Christmas day. The killer was looking for Chayo to avenge some wrong. “But my friend took the hit and got killed,” he remarks grimly.

“Life was such a haze,” he recalls. “You’re high so much, drunk so much, that the reality of death doesn’t hit you.”

radical conversion Christ

In his days of running the streets

Once a group of fellow hoodlums, seeking revenge, left a man bloodied and nearly dead.

“I reached a point where I was sick and tired,” Chayo said. “I was living like an animal – just partying, drinking, using drugs and fighting.”

Then his older brother, Alex, got saved at a church that street-preached and evangelized earnestly.

“He would come witness to me while I was partying with my buddies,” Chayo said. “I started to get sick of him. I kept telling him to leave me alone.”

Then one time, Alex found Chayo drinking beer with his buddies. It was embarrassing for Chayo. The other guys started to make fun of Chayo for his brother. Chayo threatened him and told him to leave him alone.

“He said, ‘Ok,’” Chayo recalls. “’But let me pray for you and if nothing happens, I’ll leave you alone.’ I put my beer down. He prayed for me, and the Holy Ghost came down. I started weeping. My friends were freaking out because I was weeping. It was something supernatural. Even to this day, I can’t explain it.” Read the rest of the article.

Love’s the answer. What was the question?

Love's the answerThis one is not my wisdom. It comes from http://justmebeingcurious.com/ So thanks for him for allowing me to share it here.

It certainly appears to me that another prominent religion is based on hate, but Christianity, whose adherents get killed around the world and then forgive, is based on love.

This is how you know that white supremacists are NOT Christian. They are in hate, not love. They reflect those who crucified Christ.

How do we reach a generation that gets further away from God by the day? Love. How do we Christians — not our secular government — respond to nations who send terrorists to wreak carnage? We send missionaries. We send love.

How do we face bitter accusing people in the church? Do we descend to their wickedness? No, we must respond with love.

Love is the answer. It is so much the totality of the answer that we can even forget the question.

Faith is overrated

faith is overrated

This is a tough one because Jesus spent most of his time upbraiding his disciples for not having enough faith. So faith was very nearly the characteristic he most cultivated.

So to dismiss faith’s importance borders on heresy. Faith is not unimportant! It is just lesser important than love.

Paul is resetting Corinthian theology, which was heavy on the sizzle and bang of show-off spiritual gifts. He forms a chaismus with chapter 12 and 14 talking about spiritual gifts. Then he says: But I will show you a better way. In the middle, he talks about love.

The ancients didn’t have all caps or highlight to draw attention to their writing. They didn’t have exclamation marks. So they made up the chiasmus, a rhetorical device that repeats a them twice, with the highlighted material in the middle. (It’s kind of like a hamburger. It’s not the two breads on top and bottom. The tasty important part is in between the breads.)

In the middle, then, Paul says, Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:2.

In Christianity, love is the pinnacle of perfection. Holiness is not so much resisting temptation as it is having compassion on those who have fallen into temptation.

Bible knowledge is overrated

Christian love

Though I have … understand all mysteries and all knowledge … and have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Cor 13:2.

I went to seminary. It was mostly very useful. I learned how to solve the majority of the “problem texts.” I learned to how to contextualize. I learned Greek and Hebrew. All important stuff to “rightly divide the word” for preaching and applying.

But the gold standard for Christian leadership is not Bible mastery. It is love. Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up.” In other words, you can sin with pride over your superior knowledge. But the daily grind of living the Christian life consists mostly in exhibiting love.

A lot of Bible knowledge doesn’t help when it come to “loving your enemies.” In fact, loving and forgiving difficult people is one of the toughest challenges for Christians. I may be good a parsing, but I have much to learn at loving.

Curry’s Christianity

lebron curryStephen Curry, who picked the lock to Cleveland’s defense to win the NBA championship, likes to point people to “the Man who died for our sins on the cross.”

Curry was named the NBA 2015 most valuable player and led the Golden State Warriors to the championship, but he said worldly prizes don’t compare with Heavenly ones.

“I know I have a place in Heaven waiting for me because of Him, and that’s something no earthly prize or trophy could ever top,” Curry told Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

LeBron James seemed to be willing his way to the championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers, without two of his supporting stars who were injured. Curry was floundering with low points as the finals initially favored the Cavaliers 2-1. Read the rest of the article.

Martyrdom is overrated

martyrdom

Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:3

Raymond Lull sought to be stoned, so he went to an Islamic country and street-preached. Goal attained.

Why did he actively pursue martyrdom? Because Medieval Christians promulgated the myth that martyrs have the surest entrance into Heaven. The idea was so widely embraced that people born into Christendom would live for the devil all their lives and then seek martyrdom at the end, thinking they would thus be assured Heaven.

Martyrdom is overrated. It’s not the apex of Christianity. The quintessence of Christianity was shown yesterday by family members of the nine South Carolina victims of race-hater killer Dylann Roof when they addressed him in court and forgave him.

Love is Christianity’s highest virtue, its greatest sign of maturity, its most vaunted ideal. Raymond Lull would have done better to keep living and serving Jesus.

Stop making excuses

abby wambachMy son tore his ACL playing on turf, so I totally understand Abby Wambach’s complaint about having to play on turf at the Women’s World Cup.

But when she blames lack of goals, her lack of commitment, on the turf, then I’m ready to fire her.

Good thing she “committed” in the only goal the US scored against Nigeria yesterday.

Soccer was designed to play on grass, but turf is much easier to keep. I can understand why Canada, with snow and rain, would opt for turn.

abby wambach 2Turf doesn’t “give way.” So my son’s cleat got stuck, causing my son’s ACL tear. And when you tackle or fall (from doing a header), it’s much harder. Wambach had said: I don’t lay out and commit to those headers and that’s why they glance off my head rather than me contacting them. For me, I definitely think that the U.S. has more goals if we’re playing on grass.

But of all the women playing on turf, only Wambach whined. Someone even said that, if they had to play on concrete or dirt, they would give their all. This is for country. The Women’s World Cup is only once every four years. You have been selected to represent your country out of tens of thousands of female soccer players. You had better give your all.

Could you imagine what would happen if our soldiers took the same attitude? Aw sarge, I don’t want to charge. It’s dirty out and the rocks hurt. There’s too much dust. I can hardly see.

abby wambachOf course, we would all love perfect conditions. But if — as they say in Guatemala — you’re going to put on a pretty pink bow and demand your entitlements and not perform at full capacity, then it’s time to replace that player.

On Wednesday against Nigeria, Wambach calmed pundits who were up in arms. She scored a stunning goal on a cross. It was enough to win.

If we don’t allow excuses when you play for country, how much more so when you “play” for God? Maybe not all is well, but you can give your all to God.

God rescued Jess from suicidal thoughts

suicidal

with her younger sister

She was beautiful, had talent, played soccer. She was a Christian.

But she was suicidal.

Even now Jess Trussell, 18, can’t fully explain the incongruence of possessing the joy of salvation but despairing over spiraling circumstances.

jess1At the time, Jess was a sophomore in high school. Her family had just changed churches and she lost the support network of friends who were like family. Her parents had hit some rough patches in their marriage. She would come home after soccer practice to try to finish homework. Her grades were slipping. And her eyesight was growing worse.

“Everything that was important to me in my life was falling through my hands,” she says on her blog. It was a time of months of discouragement that seemed to drain into endless hopelessness.

The way out came at a Christian concert where God spoke to here. To pass into eternity and be with Jesus, to leave behind the problems, would be wonderful, but people needed her here on Earth, was the gist. She felt God’s love.

suicide“I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, of comfort,” she said. “An enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

Her focus had been on herself. She needed to focus on others. Today she is a college sophomore at California Baptist University in Riverside, California.

Christians are not immune from the attacks of the devil, but they have the Resource, Jesus, to escape Satan’s clutches. Christians are not perfect. They get tempted just like anyone else. They sin. They are forgiven, not superior. They are forgiven only because they ask God for His forgiveness.

Being a Christian doesn’t negate our humanness. It just gives us a future eternalness.

I rejoice with Jess’ decision to share her story because I know that there are thousands of other Christian Jesses who the devil is tormenting, exploiting the secretiveness induced by shame. Jesus gives you the way out.

Love letter written in blood

Jesus whip wounds

To show their love, some give flowers, chocolates or a diamond ring. This is what Jesus gave.

A lesson from the Melrose District of LA

moneyKudos to THIS graffiti artist. His painting is not mindless but demonstrates a philosophy of life and provokes viewers to reflect. It seems ironic to me that my friend, Steven Fernandez, found this in the Melrose District, known for pricey, trendy stores.

Steven, pictured, photoshopped it here, and I love it. You can’t have both money and whatever your pure dream is.

release $

Bend Jesus any way you want

bendable Jesus

Perfect for our time! Now we can bend Jesus any way we want.

If you don’t like certain scriptures, put a nice spin on them.

Don’t give up today

don't give upIf you give up today, you give up everyday for the rest of your life.

Jesus is my gym partner

Jesus gymI lift heavy weights. He lifts my heavy heart. Photo source: Huffington Post. I don’t own rights to it, and I’m not making any money on it.

Sometimes the “valley of the shadow of death” is long

failure-is-success-in-progressExcuse me, I’m just passing through.

That’s a good attitude to have when you’re experiencing a low in your life. When your family is not so great. When your church relationships are down. When your finances are NOT up. When you’re sick or your business/job sucks.

Look forward and insist on believing in success.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil –– Psalm 23:4. Sometimes it’s just a long valley.

Photo source: Pinterest. I neither own the rights to it, nor am I making any money on it.

For love of mom and dad

love of mom and dad

Man-pleasing

pizzaGod deliver me from a people-pleasing spirit.

God changes people

God's power to transform

This is the oft-overlooked part of the gospel. God changes people. I thank God I’m not the same, that my sin is not my identity. I’m so glad there is a Higher Power that can endow me with power to become what I want, a worthy servant of the Most High. Thank God for His effectual power to transform people.

Sometimes in the Bible, the transformation wrought was so revolutionary that God even changed the person’s name. Thus, Abraam became Abraham; Jacob, Israel; and Simon, Peter.

Image from Pinterest.

Thank you, vet

vetI lived under fear. When criminals got our checkbook, I was afraid they would kidnap. So I hid at a friend’s house with my family until new passports could be issued. When I got on the plane in Guatemala, the burden of fear left. I was heading to a safe place. America.

I didn’t fight to keep America free and safe. I just enjoyed the benefits. Thank you, veteran, for fighting for us all.

Nutella, where have you been all my life?

nutella

I’m 47 years old, and I just discovered Nutella. Of course, I had tried it on crepes at fancy restaurants, but I had no idea that I could get it for home. But my daughter, who has a radar for yummy stuff, began dipping strawberries in it. The curmudgeon in my resisted such unconventional innovations.

Then, one day overcome by an odd desire to try something new, I tasted for myself. Eyes bulged. Scoffing disappeared. Immediately I was hooked addicted.

It took me 47 years to discover this delight. After almost five decades of life, I’m still discovering new wonders that God has prepared for us humans.

And you want to tell me that Heaven doesn’t have unending wonders to please everyday for eternity? Sorry, but I don’t think wings, white robe and a golden harp describe adequately Heaven. The fact that the Bible talks little about Heaven only means that God kept surprises for us.

I’m still discovering delights here on Earth.

Get involved in something bigger than yourself

Walk to Africa

To make sure walkers stayed on the course, I held the sign at Montana Ave. and Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica

Today we mounted the large-scale event, the Walk to Africa in Santa Monica, a walkathon that raises funds for Lighthouse Medical Missions. I’m exhausted.

I set up at the Fun Zone at 7:00 a.m. I directed traffic and cheered on walkers at the 6-mile mark. I packed up at 2:00 p.m. I was one of a hundred people staffing the event.

To help achieve a bigger goal than my own agenda is grand. You should try it. Especially if it involves serving humanity and serving God.

Put your heart in His hands

fireyhands

The central issue of the poorly named “cultural wars” is trust. People cannot bring themselves to trust our loving God whose Bible is nothing more than instructions on how to have happiness in life. He tells us how to avoid pratfalls and how to succeed.

But many people refuse to trust that He knows what He’s doing. They prefer to take matters into their own hands. Typically, they mock the Bible, sneer at Christians or just plain ignore them. And then they destroy their lives.

That’s ok because at any point you can come back to your Loving Savior, who will NOT reproach you for your rebellion. He’ll heal your wounds and give you a new life.

You can trust putting your heart into the hands of the Maker.

Gif: Gavin on Reddit. I don’t own rights to this gif and I’m not making any money on it. I admire its creator for his talent and work.