Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Make Jesus your star

Jesus Star

Frankly, I don’t get the allure of Hollywood — and I don’t get the stars on the sidewalk. I host foreign students who learn English. They ALL want to see Hollywood. Little do they know that Hollywood is ghetto, with abundance of drugs and grimy streets.

But those foreign students, invariably, like to get a selfie with the star of their favorite performer.

Why anyone would want people to walk all over their name, I’ll never know. It seems like a dishonor, not an honor. But Hollywood is full of such contradictions that go totally unnoticed by people infatuated with this world.

This I know: the darker this world gets — and it IS growing darker — the brighter the light of Jesus. The more that sin becomes “acceptable,” the more people are going to suffer its ravages. They will need a Savior more and more desperately.

Hey, I’m tempted, and I sin, but the attraction of God is greater. I always come back. I keep following God. Because there’s nothing better, nothing like Him. His love is amazing. Freedom is incredible.

Make Jesus your star.

My son Hosea wins with Mar Vista Park soccer final

mar vista park soccer

Flynn Roe expertly turns in a cross to open scoring for Chelsea

Andres Barahona hoped to engineer his second upset in Mar Vista Park soccer finals Saturday with his nervy energy and treacherous left foot, but ultimately his team, Aston Villa, fell to the superior firepower of Chelsea.

Andres,15, blazed twice down the left with feints and burst of speed to pass four and five defenders to slot home. But he was playing a game of keep-up in the “sweepers division,” age 13 to 15, against an onslaught of goals. Chelsea took the championship 6-3.

“We played pretty hard,” Andres said. “The penalties weren’t penalties. I wanted to win, but we couldn’t win.”

Last week, 3rd-placed Aston Villa upset 2nd-place Norwich to bid for a surprise championship Saturday. But Chelsea, a team full of forwards, was too lethal in front of the net.

The Blues’ deadshot aim was unusual for parks leagues, where all kinds of clumsiness and lack of definition prevail among the lot of mostly beginners.

Some 650 kids aged 5-15 played in Mar Vista’s 9 divisions in spring league, said Soccer Director Kiswani Dumas, better known as simply “Kiwi.” With the largest park soccer program on the Westside, Mar Vista has produced stars for European soccer, he said. One kid has a contract for a Turkish team, he added.

“Our soccer program is growing every season,” Kiwi said. “We hope to have 1,000 kids next season.”

Sign ups, boys and girls, start on July 1 for fall soccer, which initiates Sept. 12. For $130, kids get a uniform, a trophy, training and a lot of competitive fun.

Mar Vista Park’s turf field, installed eight years ago, has been the field of dreams, where kids can learn soccer and soar. They learn teamwork, discipline and hard work. They can experience the exhilaration of victory and the crush of defeat.

In Saturday’s final, Chelsea, the highest scoring team among the older kids’ division, started what they do best early when Flynn Roe, 13, turned a free kick in past the goalie after only a few minutes after the starting whistle. It was a smart goal, uncharacteristically classy for parks soccer.

But Aston Villa responded quickly. Andres, of Honduran descent and with the Latino flair for el futbol, tore down the left flank, ghosting past four defenders, to fire home and tie up a game that promised to be highly competitive and highly entertaining.

youth soccer programs Los Angeles

Hosea Ashcraft fires from amid three defenders. From the outside of his foot to the inside of the net.

Then for Chelsea, Hosea Ashcraft, 13, fought off three defenders to shoot clinically past a hapless Aston Villa goalie.

Mar Vista park soccer

Aston Villa’s goalie is not going to block the shot.

Before the first half was over, referees cited a defender’s handball, and Daniel Garcia, 15, the league’s highest goal-scorer, blasted a blistering penalty kick for Chelsea, making it 3-1.

youth soccer Westside Los Angeles

Daniel Garcia rockets a penalty kick right past the goalie.

In the second half, it was Aston Villa who opened scoring. Again the always-dangerous Andres blazed down the left flank and slotted home.

Chelsea responded almost immediately. Midfielder Daniel, who was Andres’ equal in domination, whipped in a cross from the right that Samuel Mikhail, 15, turned smartly in. It was impossible for the keeper to bat away.

Down 4-2, Aston Villa refused to let this game slip out of hand. From the feet of Andres came a through-ball that Donovan Brizuela sprinted on to fire from the left for another score, keeping the game within reach at 4-3.

If only Chelsea could cancel out the constant threat of Andres, they could win. Seeing the need, Flynn offered himself to coach to track and defend against Andres. He promised coach that he wouldn’t be beat by the fleet-footed youth.

“Ok, go ahead,” Coach Mario Ortiz told him. Andres didn’t make any more key plays.

All season, Chelsea had been a scoring machine, and Saturday’s game proved no different. A through-ball left Samuel in a one-on-one face-off with the goalie. He fired low, a shot that shanked the goalie’s shins and glided into goal.

Another defensive handball in the area gave Chelsea its second penalty kick, which Daniel didn’t miss with a rocket fired from the spot. The game ended 6-3.

With about 15 goals this season, Daniel was named the most valuable player.

“He covers all the midfield,” Coach Ortiz said. “He can shoot. He can pass.”

After taking possession of the field, the boys — and girls — in blue retreated to the park picnic tables for their banquet. Coach Ortiz handed out medals and praised each player as they munched sub sandwiches, chips and cupcakes.

After clashing against the tiny titans of soccer, the kids fell to playing Clash of Clans on their phones, trading strategies.

As the sun fell, another soccer season receded into glorious memories.

*Reprinted from http://patch.com/california/santamonica/chelsea-confirms-its-dominance-mar-vista-soccer

#33 in Lighthouse Christian Academy football

Christian school Los AngelesNumber 33 was Pastor Rob Scribner’s number when he played for the L.A. Rams, four years in the NFL.

Then, his brainchild, Lighthouse Christian Academy, started a football program. Since it was a small school, they played 8-man CIF league.

Of course, among the new jerseys was #33. And one of the best players picked that number. He would continue the tradition of legends. Twice, the lowly Lighthouse, with a fraction of the enrollment of its competitors, nearly snatched championship from the entire Southern Section.

Lighthouse Christian Academy | Santa MonicaThe #33 was honorably bequeathed to another great player – and then another.

All the while its aura of greatness grew. Opposing teams could have figured out who to double-guard on offense, who to avoid on defense. Who would blast past them with a 90 yard sprint into the End Zone? Who would tackle them so hard that they would see stars from the sidelines – for the rest of the game?

Yup. Number 33 was not to be messed with — ever.

Then, the mighty number — which spoke volumes of history — was handed out to 107-pounder Chinese student who had never played football before.

When Henry Sihao Yu, our not-too-formidable tight-end, donned the prophetic mantle, was he our best player? Read the rest of the article.

Revival at our Christian high school

high school revivalOur students are experiencing revival. After frolicking on slopes of Utah snow, they savored a sermon by Pastor Zach Scribner and then Five Guys burgers. Since there was a community board, they posted “Jesus loves you” notes.

And even them I’m stuck here in Santa Monica writing articles about the Islamic State and not enjoying the fun, I rejoice. While other religious schools have trouble with church kids bolting their faith, at our Christian high school in Santa Monica kids are embracing Christ wildly.

Chinese students in Los Angeles high schoolThis is what I pray for, what I work for, what I live for. To see the fruits brings indescribable satisfaction.

I pretty much got kicked off Reddit, a mecca for sarcastic atheists. Have you seen American Sniper? You could call Reddit “American Snippier.” In any case, post after post mocks Christian warnings against sin.

Chinese students learn to ski | California high schoolOnce I read about a former Christian school kid forming a “support group” for those who were subjected to the horrors of being forbidden alcohol. I remarked on that message board that it was ironic that some ran from alcohol to Jesus and that others from Jesus to alcohol. I never heard from him. Nor do I know if she could appreciate the irony.

Excuse me for being so curmudgeonly on this post, but I’ve seen so many suffer and even die for flouting God’s ways. It is a joy to see kids embracing God’s ways. Some of them have been bullied in public schools. Some were lost in cutting. Now they are living happy serving Jesus. Why would you make fun of that?

Saints win 5-0 in middle school soccer

LCS Middle School SoccerMAR VISTA PARK – Lighthouse co-ed’s team resoundingly defeated Windward 5-0 to advance in middle school playoffs to round 2 on Monday.

They gelled when it counted most. Here was a team that during the league season would lose 8-0 and 7-0. The story of their turnaround is one of not growing frustrated, of learning from mistakes and of combining slow kids with fast kids, talented kids with not-so-talented kids into optimal formation.

Many middle schools have an A-team, a B-team and even a C-team. With less than 50 students, Lighthouse Church School in Santa Monica has only one team, combined with all sorts of players. To say all candidates make the cut is an understatement. Sometimes, the school begs kids to play.

With teams like that, the wrong thing to do is to let that one star do everything. Just give him the ball and get out of his way. Instead, the Saints focused on building a team around the stars.

A critical moment came when the Saints showed poor sportsmanship. In a pre-league scrimmage against Westside Neighborhood School, the Saints behaved very… um,unsaintly. After losing 4-1, some of the kids spat into their hands at the end-of-the-game high five, smearing it on their unwitting opponents’ hands.

Ugh! How despicable can you get?

While the opposing kids may not have realized they were the victims of an ugly prank, the opposing parents had seen it all.

Understandably incensed, the WNS coach spoke to Lighthouse coach. He couldn’t believe his ears (he had been herding stragglers to form part of the line when the offenders committed their crime).

LCS coach scrambled a quick investigation, which more or less confirmed the worse. A photographer produced incriminating photos. Kids broke down under interrogation and confessed.

It is sad to see top clubs and national teams defend their players – no matter how repugnant their behavior. Whether it is racial epithets uttered on the field or biting incidents, it’s shameful to see teams try to confuse the facts just so their players won’t be suspended.

LCS, a Christian ministry of the Lighthouse Church, decidedly reacted against self-defense. The athletics director and the coach immediately sent profuse apologies to the league organizers and offended school. They requested to NOT be excused; they asked for a sanction from the league.

Ultimately, league officials opted against punishment, acting on WNS’s gracious forgiveness. But Lighthouse benched for one game each of the offenders anyway. It was a matter of character – what Lighthouse most is trying to teach.

More important than winning league games was winning the souls of men. Since at least three players fessed up, three players sat out – and the team suffered on the field.

Read the rest of the story.

‘It was nuts’ How revival is sweeping Los Angeles high schools

God public high schoolOvercome by the darkness, this young Grant High School student decided she would end her life at the end of the school day. But instead, she went to an on-campus Christian club and heard Brian Barcelona share with about 150 other students.

After a stirring message, “she came running up to the front. She was weeping. She asked Brian to pray for her. She was going to commit suicide that day, but instead she found God,” says Allan Giglio, a coordinator for One Voice, which is seeing extraordinary revival in Los Angeles and Orange County high schools.

About 2,500 students at 15 high schools hear the gospel each week through campus Christian clubs, which invite One Voice representatives to speak, Giglio says. Kids have been saved from drugs, violence, sexual sin, and hopelessness.

Check out the rest of the article.

A happier coach

soccer girls | Santa MonicaI ran into two soccer coach friends at Wednesday’s game. They command winning teams and winning salaries. They were winning players.

I have a winninger attitude. I’m the happier coach. I coach for free, and I’m seeing the fruits of my labor, most importantly kids drawn to Christ at a Westside Christian school.

So far we have lost every league game of Middle School soccer in CIF Pacific League Basin. Monday will see if we finally win one.

Despite the dismal outlook, I’m enjoying the positives:

  • Our goalie, an adapted basketball player, won the opposing coach’s praise with “five first-rate saves.” “We thought we weren’t going to be able to score on you,” he said.
  • We limited an A-team to four goals.
  • My son scored a goal.
  • My son juked four defenders to get to goal and almost scored an individual effort.

More important than game highlights are kid highlights:

  • Kids are really enjoying soccer.
  • One kid told me he used to not like soccer; now he really likes it.
  • Beginners are scoring (at practice), and that’s  a thrill for them.
  • There’s such a good feeling of Christian good attitude and fun.

So I wouldn’t take the paid coaching position. The unpaid is better because the rewards outweigh financial compensation.

‘Only Eternity Matters’

Stan Yep

Among his last moments of humor (here on Earth)

When my father-in-law was coming to after a 10-hour surgery, he heard words that transformed his life. He had always been a community servant, a fighter for the community. He was a good man. But these words re-directed his goodness.

“Only eternity matters.”

from razzberrypress.com

from razzberrypress.com

God spoke to Stan, and from then on, all of his efforts to help Chinatown of Los Angeles were undergirded by Christianity. When his lifelong dream became a reality of opening a police substation to fight the worrisome neighborhood crime, Stan helped church members to work there so they could give the gospel.

In August, a hollow shell of the former Chinatown big shot breathed his last and stepped into Eternity. The last decades of his life had focused on the fact that we are NOT going to be on this blue globe forever.

I can’t wait to see him again.

No Heartbreak over Loss to 8-man Football Superpower Upland

believe in yourself

Quarterback Joel Lahood frustrates an Upland tackle.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – For a few minutes in the fourth quarter, Saints Christian school football got the sensation it would engineer the greatest upset of CIF Southern Section 2013 when Senior Joel Lahood intercepted a pitch and scored, making it 22-28, one touchdown away from a tie on Friday.

It’s nothing new for Lighthouse Christian Academy, student population 46, to face teams that are both bigger in bodily size and in terms of team members. LCA has flouted the odds-against with grit and its rediscovered sense of greatness, winning four games in a row before Sept. 27.

faith for footballBut Upland Christian Academy, student population 230, was simply superior to any team yet seen. In the first minutes of the game, an Upland player broke through and sprinted for a touchdown. To watch him pull away from pursuers like a train produced a sinking feeling of helplessness. Never before had we faced someone faster than us.

Mustering character, the Saints squelched the sinking feeling and responded with a touchdown. Nate Peterson ran the ball with verve and swerve, timing his cuts and crashes perfectly to exploit any millimetric miscalculation of a foe’s counterbalance.

Lighthouse Christian Academy football

Nate Peterson breaks through and sprints for a touchdown

“This is going to be a game,” observed Michael Moore, whose transfer has delayed his start with our Christian school football.

But Upland was far better than they were last year, when the Saints’ bobbling gifted them a win. With players 20-30 pounds heftier than ours in every position, and with a humming discipline, Upland finished the half with 28 points.

LCA conjured a determination to play to win – not just limp through the rest of the game, praying for the final whistle to come. The Saints denied Upland any more points until Lahood put LCA within striking distance.

That is when a missed tackled allowed another touchdown sprint to assure Upland the victory. LCA suffered its first defeat of the season 22-34.

The opposing coach praised LCA’s Christian school football: “You guys are the toughest team we’ve faced all season.” At the end of the game, the two teams prayed in a circle in the center of the field, and the opposing coached singled out Peterson for particular praise. It was a loss, yes, but a loss we could take pride in.

LCA Head Coach Justin Kayne pumped up his players. We were simple outgunned. One loss doesn’t sink a season, he said. “We’re going to the playoffs!”

And so, the legacy of Christian determination manifested in toughness and fighting spirit on the field – a legacy founded by former Rams football player Pastor Rob Scribner, marches on in pursuit of excellence.

Believe

believe

Senior Joel Lahood makes a mad dash to the touchdown line

ROLLING HILLS, CA – Lighthouse suckerpunched Rolling Hills Preparatory 41-15 Friday in its third straight win since the 2013 season of CIF 8-man football began.

Lighthouse Christian Academy

LCA Saints can’t stop smiling after an improbable win, product of hard work and faith in themselves.

The undermanned Saints outgunned their numerous opponents on Sept. 13 and avenged two straight losses to their South Bay rivals from previous years. Sophomore Tex Hagoski opened scoring within minutes of the game start with a daring dash, wiggling free of would-be tackles. With each play, Santa Monica’s Lighthouse Christian Academy showed its intentions of rolling all over Rolling Hills.

8-man football in Los Angeles

Hagoki limps off the field

Next, senior Joseph “Raising Cain” Kayne powered through to the big 6 points. Next came senior and toughguy quarterback Joel Lahood to sprint into the end zone. In the second half, sophomore Adrian Brizuela, a soccer star cajoled into playing football, intercepted a pass and demonstrated fancy footwork to cross the touchdown line.

where can I get on a varsity football team?

Brizuela makes a touchdown??? But his sport is soccer!

Finally, senior Nate Peterson jack-knifed through an onslaught of hulking opponents to get his name on the scoreboard.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Rolling Hills had requested a game with the slumping Saints (slumping for the last two years) because RHP had lost a slew of seniors this year. They had hoped for at least one easy win (against us). Instead, our lopsided victory will be sure to pile up their misery.

believe

Lighthouse fans have yet to show they have the faith in their team

But if Rolling Hills had fewer seniors, their entire squad outnumbered ours by almost three to one. In a now-common pattern of brutal injustice, our opponents field both a defensive and offensive squad, which gives their players a needed respite. Meanwhile, our dogged dudes must dig deep down inside to find the energy to equal their adversaries, moving both forward and backward.

football is for men

War Wounds: “Raising Cain” Kayne shows scrapes on the forehead (barely visible in the photo) and on both arms.

When starlet Hagoski limped off the field with a knee injury, Lighthouse threw on its one and only substitute, freshman Will Clancy, who’s never played football before

When his older brother, senior Nick Clancy, took a particularly hard hit, Hagoski removed his ice pack and hobbled back onto to the field to fill the position for one play.

On the surface, it’s pure insanity. But it was a gutsy kind of testosterone  display that men love to see on the gridiron. When you analyze the numbers, Lighthouse, with fledgling resources, should NOT be winning. But these kids believe in themselves enough to make every tackle, to make every wild run, to make every handoff.

In a sign of their growing confidence, Lighthouse is making pass completions and surprising opponents with unsuspected plays. That these young men believe in their own leadership and ability is clear. Will the Lighthouse fans, jaded by previous losing seasons, believe in them also?

Formerly scavengers, rising up the food chain

Surrounded by opponents, forward Rob Ashcraft dribbles toward goal

Surrounded by opponents, forward Rob Ashcraft dribbles toward goal

Untiringly aggressive, Tex Hagoski shut them down in the field.

Untiringly aggressive, Tex Hagoski shut them down in the field.

They played their hearts out — and at the final whistle Lighthouse Christian Academy had executed the most improbable upset in the league, defeating touch-perfect New Roads 3-2 in varsity soccer.

With girls, freshmen, and inexperienced players on the team, LCA Saints are

Only our team has girls on the team in our league, but with Tori Scribner it doesn't make a difference.

Only our team has girls in our league, but with Tori Scribner it doesn’t make a difference.

understandably bottom-dwelling fish. But somehow this season, they believed in themselves, winning four and tying one. Friday’s game was the crown jewel of the season. New Roads left the field in despair.

These kids who played with unaccustomed verve teach us a lesson in life.

Robert Ashcraft was unstoppable.

Robert Ashcraft was unstoppable.

No matter how many failures, no matter what the man-to-man analysis, you can prevail with spunk and belief.

When you go to prayer today, when you minister, expect the victory. Whatever your shortcomings, whatever your handicaps, remember God grants triumph. Faith is key. Last year, we lost every single game.

For the full story, read http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com/saints-embarrass-in-big-upset/

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.

Secure enough to be insecure

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Most are terrified to show their insecurities. They consume a nuclear power plant’s energy just trying to project supreme self confidence.

But because of their fears to be vulnerable, they have deficient relationships everywhere. Having a million “friends,” they don’t have one true friend with whom they can open up. This is especially true for men. This is worse in Los Angeles, where image counts more than substance.

Be secure enough to let your insecurities show — not with everyone, of course, but with a select few people with whom you want to share friendship. Be real.

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Don’t try to prove your self confidence all the time. Don’t try to win every argument, always be right, always win, etc. Let somebody else be better. Be secure enough to accept another person’s gift.

 

Knowing, not knowing

ATT0022917Knowing what God can do, we don’t know what God can do.

ATT001842That’s why we go to prayer — not out of compulsion or religiosity — but out of wonderment. What unimaginable answer will God produce? The world’s greatest fiction writer couldn’t think up what God does.

Sometimes, you go for a long stretch without seeing ATT001966an answer. Then out of the blue, God moves dramatically, unexpectedly, unforseen. And then praying is gratifying. He is at work always; we do not perceive always. We win at the end, after the enemy has ATT0022315scored so many points that a lopsided victory seems sure.

I think Los Angeles is the city most like Gen. 1:2 — formless and empty, (with) darkness… over the surface of the deep. Out of Los Angeles, has come corruption-propagating

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

entertainment to poison the world. They may have built this city on rock and roll, but the prayer warrior rebuilds it on prayer. Not only is there Hollywood here, there is also Azusa Street.

A friend of a friend, a super model and an actress, has cancer and is now praying and reading her Bible. When the mask breaks up, you turn to something of true value. Prayer has brought her to Christ and is bringing her to Christ.

 

We pray, then play

DSC_0676

Before the game, prayer in the circle

Before the game, prayer in the circle

MAR VISTA PARK – The origin of Lighthouse Christian Academy’s hard-fought soccer victory Friday was in the small Central American nation of Guatemala.

Sophomore Luis Secaira opened scoring in the 43rd minute, and Freshman Robert DSC_0793Ashcraft finished off the game in the 76th minute. Both were born in Guatemala.

At game three in the 2012-13 season, the varsity Saints are 2-0-1.

DSC_0684After both teams stale-mated in the first half, fleet-footed Secaira put Lighthouse ahead early in the second half. Chasing an audacious through-ball from Stopper Tori Scribner, he bolted past Wildwood defense, rounded the goalie, slotted gently into the net — and fell down, the wind knocked out of him by an opponent’s elbow at the start of the 40-yard dash.

Lighthouse fans — out in force for the proximity of the playing field — erupted in cheers. They were already savoring a second DSC_0717victory, after a dismal season with no wins last year.

But the elation turned to anxiety 13 minutes later as Wildwood struck on a free kick just outside of the area, and the ball was headed into the Saints’ net.

DSC_0770Tied at 1-1, both teams fought an exhausting battle to move forward into striking range. Wildwood was unlucky to see hard-won penetration frustrated as a low shot on the far post bounced out and was cleared.

DSC_0742Meanwhile, the Saints relied mostly on counter-attack with the mind-boggling speed of forward Wyatt Hodgson, a tenacious competitor and natural athlete.

With four minutes to the final whistle, midfield magician Elijah Symonds – a.k.a. the human catapult – hurled a throw-in into the area. Surrounded by three defenders, Rob headed the ball backwards and into the net.

Wildwood players scrambled frantically for DSC_0737the equalizer. When the ref called the game, the Saints broke out in celebration. “We’re undefeated,” chimed Tori, who played nearly faultlessly.

While the Guatemalans scored the goals, at the DSC_0720other end of the field a Mexican American was ensuring the victory. Ace Goal-Keeper Adrian Brizuela blunted Wildwood attacking weapons with intelligent, hair-raising saves.

DSC_0655The freshman threw himself time after time with nervy kamikaze dives that only the most fearless goalies pull off.  While saves at both ends of the field were almost equal (Saints 7, Wildwood 6), the types executed by Adrian were technically more difficult — and gutsy.

Playing co-ed against all boys, the Saints gave a lesson in mental fortitude and doggedness. Refusing to tire, they dug deep to find the inner resources to grab the victory in what was their sternest test to DSC_0757date. With every match, improvement can be seen.

Looming ahead on Tuesday is the biggest challenge yet: the speed demons and master-class passers of Vista Mar. Can Lighthouse with half a team of beginners muster enough grit, concentration and determination to wrangle out a satisfying result?

**** Pictures thanks to Susie and Jennifer Scribner!