It makes me wonder, Why would anybody get divorced? Things just get better — if you’re willing to work on them. Why would anybody do anything else?
Tag Archives: Lighthouse Church
I’m writing this from LAX. We put the ticket on the credit card, and so I’m off to Guatemala. My fundraising campaign has been a bit hair-raising. Hahaha. JK. What I mean to say is that you can still donate because I haven’t raised all the funds yet. Gofundme is convenient gofund.me/MikeToGuatemala
Taking this trip is moving by faith. I’m praying and believing that God will bring in all the finances. It’s easier for me to just stay in America and not risk, but there are critical needs now in the church I founded 16 years ago — paperwork that only I can do as the owner of the school, el Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.
Pastor John Mira is going with me. He was born in the Philippines and got saved in the United States. He became a lawyer, works with stocks, but his real vocation is preaching the gospel. He’s passionate about it.
He was one of my first friends when I returned to the States five years ago from the mission field. His son was in my class, and I reached out to him. And he always encouraged me. This is the first time I’m tag-teaming up with him for some spiritual warfare abroad.
I ask you to pray for us! Thank you!
Yes, he called himself “a Satanist” when he was a punk kid rebellious towards his parents’ Christianity. Yes, he beat up kids and got kicked out of schools. Yes, he played hard rock with — um — not the best lyrics.
But when he faced a truly demon-possessed person, it was different. Arti, who turned his life over the Lord years ago and was now serving in Tanzania on the Lighthouse Medical Missions, freaked out when the lady he prayed for started behaving erratically.
After the first day of assisting doctors at the clinic in Mwanza, Arti requested permission to set up a prayer station and pray for all the patients after doctor visits. “I really wanted to be like Jesus and lay hands on the sick and see them recover,” he said.
That done, he was engaged in praying for a lady with back and leg pain. When he asked her to forgive all who had harmed her, she grew eerily silent. Then she started getting aggressive.
When it was done, he led her to get her pills. But he watched his back, lest she become aggressive again. His buddy, Johnny Huerta, didn’t seem to have the same fears. He went over to her and gave her a hug.
“I was more afraid she would jump on me, and he was more concerned to let her know that she was loved,” Arti reflected.
Arti turned his life over to the Lord in the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, which is part of the same church that indirectly oversees Lighthouse Medical Missions.
The lady showed up at church that night. She raised her hand at the altar call to receive Jesus. She testified that the pain in her back and legs was gone.
“She came possessed and oppressed with pain,” Arti marveled. “She got delivered and saved. Then she had no pain. God is so good.”
Arti saw the supernatural on the “natural mission” of dispensing medicine. He also saw how to become more like Jesus and minister compassion.
On Sunday, Estela and Johnny Huerta, part owners and operators of Gilbert’s El Indio Mexican Restaurant in Santa Monica, are running the L.A. Marathon to raise funds forAfrica medical missions. Johnny has seen people in abject poverty before.
“Seeing their appreciation for things we would consider small exposes the privileges we take for granted here,” said Johnny, 25. “We feel entitled, but really these things are a blessing and privilege. I’ve run other marathons, but running for Africa makes it more special.”
At last count, $2,838 was pledged for the 10 friends who are running with local pediatrician Bob Hamilton for Lighthouse Medical Missions, which twice yearly sends medical teams to some of the remotest spots on the globe.
Only 10 days later, Johnny will board a plane to fly to Mwanza, Tanzania, along with 24 others on this year’s Spring team outreach.
“I’m excited,” Johnny said. “I don’t know what to expect. I’m a little bit nervous. I think I’m going to come back with a whole new perspective as to what’s important in life. I want my heart to break for what breaks God’s heart. I want to feel what He feels.” Read the rest.
Born into a family beset by drugs and gangs in Pacoima, California, his future prospects seemed dim. Junior Cervantes displayed athletic promise on the soccer field, but depression dragged him down. His uncles were shot in front of the house. There were family arrests, fighting, and chaos.
Junior decided to run away from home and drop out of his beloved soccer. He opted for hanging out with friends, robbing houses, smoking marijuana and tagging.
“I was a stealer. I was a liar. I was angry. I was depressed. I was lonely. I was an outcast,” Junior recalls.
His uncle, Edgar Cervantes, kept insisting that Junior move in with him in Santa Monica – about 25 miles away — and straighten up his life. In and out of jail for most of his life, Edgar had two “strikes” under California penal law and was scared of getting the third, so he turned to Jesus to clean up his life. He worked a restaurant job in Santa Monica and preached on the Third Street Promenade every week.
It was through Edgar’s influence that Junior prayed to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. But because of Junior’s background and some of the influences swirling around him, he faced a rocky road to maturity in Christ. Read the rest of the story.
Four young men realized revival in my (old) church in Guatemala. People were healed. People got excited about Jesus. People were restored. Revival services brought what they don’t always bring: revival.
As I sat listening, I realized God was with these guys. God delighted in them. The report they gave impacted my congregation in Santa Monica, the Lighthouse Church. But to me, it transcended. This was a watershed. The new generation of young disciples was breaking out. No longer would they wait for the older generation to lead. They would bring God themselves.
May the younger generation arise and take the reigns of His church!
When Pastor Zach asked me to be on his team, I refused. “You don’t want to lose,” I warned him. Apparently, Zach wanted me because I was a friend. I help him do the cleaning around the church. So we called our basketball team “Lighthouse Cleaning Crew” in the Lighthouse Christian Academy spirit week tournament 3-on-3. And we won!
Some lessons emerge:
1. Believe in yourself — and in a friend. I thought we were going to be knocked out in the first round, and we weren’t. By the championship, I was nervous. Probably sensing the pressure mounting on me, he told me, “Here’s our strategy: Relax and have fun.”
2. Play your strengths. More of a nerd than an athlete, I didn’t think I had much to offer. I’m not in shape. But I’m tall. If I defended in the key, I could jump and grab rebounds. If I came out of the key, I got tired and didn’t jump well.
3. Analyze and adapt. We shut down our competition by blunting his strength. Michael Moore was fast and produced some eye-blurring fakes. No other team had been able to frustrate his left lay-ups. But I realized that Michael, a leftie, only drove to the left. On the right, his effectiveness was much lower. In the game, we limited Michael to outside shots, some of which he made, but fewer than he would have, had he penetrated the key.
Too often the church misses the opportunity to play its strengths. One of the worst things that can happen to any church is to bad-mouth deficiencies. At the same time, we fail to see, promote and exploit the positives. LCA is a school of 50, so I know what I’m talking about.
Too often the church follows an antiquated model. We place ads in the yellow pages in the age of the internet. What worked for the man of God in the past may not work today. If Zach and I had played the same in the last game as the first, we would have lost. But we analyzed and adapted and beat “the stronger team.”
And this is how the nerd, who never really got picked for sports teams before, wound up a winner.
When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, Lori Ayala was first horrified.
Then she gathered her courage and faced it with faith. She did surgery and treatments — and she prayed and strengthened herself in her faith in the church. She didn’t waver, even when it recurred a year later.
“I wasn’t afraid because I knew God had healed me,” said the 51-year-old director of the Lighthouse Christian Preschool in Santa Monica. “I don’t know why God wanted me to go through this. It wasn’t an immediate victory.”
I remember coming back from Guatemala for a break from missionary work one year and talking with Lori. She was laughing about how wonderful it was to have cancer because everybody in the church cooked meals for her. Her attitude made a profound impression on me.
Today, Lori is a source of joy at the Lighthouse Christian Preschool. And she is a great testimony of how to not cow in fear before the C-word.
For the hundreds of people like her facing daunting disease and pain, the Lighthouse Church is staging a healing crusade at the John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica at 7:00 p.m. this Saturday. It’s free. In past healing crusades, notable miracles have been performed. Why not give it a try?
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!
Lighthouse Christian Academy lost every single soccer game last year. This year, it took us one minute to score our first goal, and we finished tied 2-2 against a team that won 8 last year. I’m ecstatic because I’m the coach now.
I have coached before, first on middle school team, then park league. Then I stepped back from coaching for six months. My kids were on other teams, and I observed the other coaches, who are better than I. One is a Scot with the highest level accreditation for coaching. I’ve eavesdropped and spied.
No use thinking I know it all. I can always pick up something new from others, even if it’s what NOT to do (like cuss).
I see that life coaching is in
vogue. I’ve always enjoyed having a FREE life coach: he’s called “my pastor.” As a generation has distanced itself from the church, people look down their noses upon the pastor and his unwanted advice. As a result, divorce has skyrocketed; kids are cutting themselves in unheard-of numbers as the home disintegrates.
I’m not saying I’m better than anyone; I just enjoy the benefits of being among the dwindling number of Americans who still go to church. A coach — a pastor — is there to bring out the best in you.