Tag Archives: love

Step on you class

step on meSome people take Step Class. Others Step On Others Class.

They adhere to the idea, that to get to the top, they must climb upon others. To feel good about themselves, they must make others feel bad about themselves. This pernicious poison is more pervasive than you might think.

You ought to take a class in loving others. This is what was so revolutionary about Jesus: He practiced love, especially toward the sinner. But the person who held himself in self-proclaimed piety got His wrath.

*This pic comes from a gym in Santa Cruz, and I adapted it. Sorry if you are offended by it. Please know that I’m not making any money on it. I give you kudos for a great pic.

Ostracism and bullying

ostracismThe whole town turned against Hester Prynne. She got caught — by the out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

The Puritans forced her to wear a scarlet A on her dress always as a continual stigma of shame. She was violently flung from human friendship and affection. The hardened ladies looked at her with eyes of condemnation. Preachers wanting to exhort congregations or crowds about the dangers of sins pointed out Hester. Newcomers to the town gazed curiously at the letter, wondering what it meant. Kids, unaware of the concept of sin, treated her as an outcast following behind at a distance and making fun of her.

No one should be subjected to ostracism and bullying — no matter what the cause.

Such mistreatment can make a person turn into a sociopath.

Scarlet Letter teaches loveHolding up under psychological pressure for years and years, Hester doesn’t become a monster. The hero of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter becomes a saint, giving to the poor and helping the sick. But she is the exception.

Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons we see so many massacres, so much mental illness, is because of the way we reject people. And the absolute last place where rejection should be pervasive is Christ’s church.

God is a fireman, not a policeman

God firemanHis rules are for self-protection. He’s not prowling looking for somebody to bust.

God’s principle job is rescue.

We are a sinners, incapable of saving ourselves. God did that for us. Don’t conjure an image of a finger-pointing deity who is hankering to haul the sinner off to jail. That’s contrary to the message: God is love.

If you violate the fire codes, don’t be surprised if you get burned. You may not agree with the fire codes. You may use academic language like “morality is subjective.” But the fire codes — His Bible — is there to help you, not to hurt you.

Regardless, if you violate the fire code, God will rescue you when you call 911 — when you pray to Him.

Take her shopping

shopping is sufferingI can handily find 1.75 million other needful things to do rather than go shopping. When forced to shop by myself, I’m a laser: straight to what I need — and out. Fast.

But here’s a key to a happy marriage: don’t make it “me” time. It is “her” time. Don’t impose on your wife what you like to do. (You can do what you like some other time — say, with your buddies, for example.)

When Dianna and I shop together, time goes into slow motion. Words get slurred, shoppers drudge about, my eyes cake up with glaze. I lose my ability to see color — everything runs grey (more than 50 miserable shades). There wasn’t even a Starbucks for me to take refuge at the concentration camp premium outlet. (No, it wasn’t a concentration camp. I couldn’t concentrate on anything.) It was surreal. (This is not hyperbole. This really happens.)

Why did I subject myself to such woe-begone suffering? Why did I willingly (yes, willingly) do what no man in his right mind would normally do? No, I’m not in torture training with plans to report journalistically  from the Islamic State with risk of being kidnapped.

No. I did it to make my beautiful wife happy. (Her beauty was the only glimmer in the T.S. Elliot-styled wasteland outlet.)

You see, if you manage to make your wife happy, she’ll make you happy.

If you always expect her to make you happy (because you’re the fist-pumping, Bible-thumping leader of the household), then maybe you have failed to notice that the Bible says you’re a leader only as Jesus was a leader (remember He laid his life down in sacrifice for the beloved church?).

Sacrifice yourself a little to be happy a lot.

Lust or sacrifice

valentines

For love, some only understand lust. If we are merely evolutionary beasts, then we can satiate whatever kinky idea that occurs to us. The “Sexual Revolution” is a misnomer; it is a “Sexual Devolution.”

These don’t know about the sublime love of Jesus. Lust procures to get for itself. Jesus’ love came to give. He sweated drops of blood, such was His agony in the buildup to his arrest and crucifixion. But he endured it all because He loved you and me. Jesus’ love is so unlike ours. It’s from another dimension. Can we even grasp?

The broken-hearted, the girl who’s cutting her wrist, the guy who’s contemplating suicide — needs to grasp it. The divorcee whose pain gushes where love once flowed. The celebrity who flashes smiles before cameras but drowns out his sorrows when alone. Christ is for losers — and in this cruel world, we’re all losers.

As the Good Book says, we’ve all fallen short of what God intended us for. We need something more gratifying than the excitement of sex. We need forgiveness. Are you lonely? Christ is inviting you to be His valentine.

Original image: Google. Thank you for your genius and creativity. I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.

The importance of schmoozing

fellowship Being the American that I am, I believed fervently in work-aholism. If you want to get things done, work 17 hours a day.

The lackluster church growth prompted heart searching and method revision. I discovered the power of not working (and praying). I also discovered the incomparable value of socializing. The latter upended my idea that useless chatter was a waste of time.

imagesIt turns out that socializing inspires people. If you want people to do things for you, then show them how important they are by talking to them. Here’s how it works: two or three people can always get more done than one. So if I’m the leader, I multiply my impact by delegating to followers. And I motivate followers to work by just taking the time out of my busy schedule to talk to them.

It wasn’t a sermon full of conviction that brought Zacheus to repentance. It was sharing a meal. Jesus took time out of his busy schedule to schmooze. That human connection made friends into followers, socialites into servants — for entire lifetimes.

socializing

from google images

Learn the importance of social activities.

*All the images are from Google. I don’t own the rights to any of them, and I’m not making any money on them. I applaud the photographers’ genius.

Let your wife choose

Sweet Lady JaneI really don’t care too much for Sweet Lady Jane’s pastries. But if I let my wife choose where we go out, her eyes go sparkly. She becomes Sweet Lady Dianna.

If the husband insists on making every decision, he will sour his marriage, frustrating needlessly his wife. If you insist on making EVERY decision, you ultimately harm your own leadership. You show your self-centeredness, which diminishes your love.

Go where you don’t like. Go out on a date where she likes.

As wickedness increases, love decreases

cold heart We are warned. As sin goes exponential in the end times, it will wear away on the once-sincere love of many believers. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold – Matt. 24:12 NIV.

It would difficult to argue against the explosion of sin we have seen since the 1960s: drugs, free sex, redefining sin, massacres, crime waves in Latin America, terrorists worldwide. Standards are continually becoming looser. What was once the vilest subgenre (snuff movies) is now standard fare on cable TV (True Blood). What’s most disturbing is that nothing is disturbing any longer.

And Christian standards have slid. The line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior has been pushed back. I’m not point fingers though. I myself am susceptible. If anything, I am warning myself (and others) about the dangers of living in Sodom. Let’s not let our heart grow cold.

*I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it. If you own it, feel congratulated. It is genius. I found it on a design site.

Perfect peace

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 NKJV.

The devil assails our minds with worry. Trusting in Jesus means having peace.

Photo source: Pinterest. I’m not making any money on it. I don’t own the rights to it.

Holy Spirit Alzheimer’s

holy spirit alzheimers

With some friends in Guatemala. We all pass through episodes of life that would best be forgotten.

My mom had Alzheimer’s, so I don’t mean to make light of this scourge. I remember when she walked out the front door in her pajamas, and Dad drove around looking for her. He found her on a busy street.

What I mean by Holy Spirit Alzheimer’s is to forget what we must forgive, to heal the wounds in our hearts, to remember the good and forget the bad, to move on, to stay in relationship with people who have hurt us deeply. When God forgives, He forgets. Would we could do likewise.

I’m going to pray to forget hurts because remembering them converts them into hinders. They hinder me from serving Jesus fully. Holy Spirit, come and help me to forgive AND forget.

Love, serve and sacrifice

love, service, sacrifice

With the kids of my disciples.

From across the street, he called me. On the bus, she almost threw herself on top of me to give me a hug. A couple grew teary-eyed in the market when they saw me.

People everywhere were greeting me and thanking me. Four years ago, I ended abruptly a 16-year mission stint in Guatemala. On my New Year’s trip to Guatemala, old friends were popping up everywhere.

I’m no celebrity. But I did one thing: I served people tirelessly. I walked 10 miles to do Bible studies in their house. I handed out scholarships left and right for our school. I visited people in the hospital, in jail. I gave time and again.

Then the wonderful mission life came to an end. I returned to the States, where I serve in my mother church. I teach in the school, and I write this blog. Every once in a while, I get the chance to visit Guatemala again.

I can see that all the love, service and sacrifice were worth it. People have been impacted for Christ.

A visit made all the difference

Kata, left, with her sister-in-law, Karina.

Kata, left, with her sister-in-law, Karina.

Kata was the spiritual pillar of her household. The eldest of eight siblings, she came to Christ first. She prayed for each one to come to Christ. She counseled tirelessly. And then after encouraging so many others, she grew discouraged herself.

She was getting older and felt like she was losing her chances to get married. Lonely and dejected, she made a mistake.

Pregnant out of wedlock, she was basically shunned by her church and run off (not my church).

This all broke my heart. We all make mistakes. So I visited Kata. Her reception was wary. I spoke of her leadership in her family, of her past successes. I made no mention of her mistakes.

Today, Kata is back at serving Jesus. Compassion, not condemnation, is what she needed.  All I had to do was take some time out of my schedule to show her she was important to Jesus. She was valuable.

Today, it’s Kata who keeps our church and school cleaner than the National Palace. Everyone praises her. I am overjoyed.

To whom can you show mercy today?

Restoration of marriages

Hernan and Hilda have been married for 59 years.

Hernan and Hilda have been married for 59 years.

To go back and admit you were wrong is one of the hardest things to do. But to save your marriage, it’s worth it! Anything to save a marriage!

But if it can’t be saved, then don’t remain single and sad. It is not good that the man should be alone, God said of Adam and created Eve. If you have coursed the awful pain of a divorce, do things better next time.

But if you CAN restore your marriage, by all means do it.

God sent me to Guatemala on the mission of restoration. Only now do I realize it. I’m teaching on marriage. Not that I am such an expert. But my pastor, Rob Scribner of the Santa Monica Lighthouse Church, has taught me a lot of great tools to make marriage happy.

It’s funny: we work at our jobs, our studies, but we think that love should just be easy and require no work.

Marriage, worth fighting for

marriagePeggy in our church is 94 years old. A Christian, she married under the illusion of naivete. Once in wedlock, her husband, a drinker, threatened her not to go to church. She felt the Holy Spirit nudge her to obey. For 20 years, she skipped church but never left God.

After that period, the rough-living husband accepted Jesus on his deathbed, and Peggy went back to church. In fact, she’s something of a heroine, a pillar at the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica, the longest-attending member and practically the historian.

Today the story is stirring, but back then there was plenty of pain. What Peggy did, few would, especially today when marriage is esteemed about as much as disposable diapers. People chuck it when it gets poopy.

My generation has much to learn from Peggy. We can learn of her stick-to-itiveness, her fight-through-it attitude. We Christians win in the end, if we can just hang in there till the end.

Marriage is worth fighting for. He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD — Pr. 18:22 NIV. It seems like our current culture is doing everything to waylay marriage. It gets mocked on the sitcoms, degraded by the affair-touters, and now redefined. Hmmmm.

I haven’t been a cakewalk for Dianna, but maybe she’d say it’s been worth it. I know it’s been beautiful to build together for 24 years instead of tear asunder under the deception that someone somewhere is a “soulmate.” You trade in one set of problems for another. Nor do I think loneliness is a good answer. When God saw Adam alone, He made Eve for him. It was the first thing in the perfect creation that was imperfect.

Make a new friend this new year

friendshipFriendship enriches much more than riches. Friendship brings health where money can’t buy it. There are people with riches who have many “friends.” Parasites, I’d call them.

If you have a friend, realize fully the blessing in your life. If you don’t, don’t give up in the search for friendship.

Original image from Beautiful pictures on Google+

Christmas: a burst of love

meaning ChristmasLove exploded upon humanity when the Son of God was born in human form.

No longer was it impossible to please a completely holy God, who demanded an animal sacrifice for every sin. That’s A LOT!

Jesus was the last sacrifice to end all sacrifice. He was the price paid in ransom for us; we sold ourselves to sin, death and Hell.

If you experience the love of a family during Christmas, that’s a mere taste of the full flavor of love from God. If you didn’t experience human love during Christmas, you are missing a drop of the ocean of love God has for you.

What gift do you give when you have unlimited resources?

greatest giftGod has “undiminishable” riches. No matter how much you take away from them, it’s like a drop in the oceans.

So when He paid our ransom, it was a light thing. He could afford whatever price the devil set.

His only limited resource was His son. He had only one.

I’ve known parents to suffer prolonged acute grief over the loss of a son. That pain is assuaged many times by the presence of other children. God had no other children. He couldn’t preserve His favorite son and send the brat to die for humanity.

Even though Christ resurrected and triumphed over death, I believe God’s grief was unbearable.

Really, no one told God that it had to be His Son. God makes the rules, so He could have sent an angel to die on the cross for us. He could have sent all of His angels.

But to show how great His love is, He sent His one and only Son. He didn’t send money, which He possesses in limitless supply. He sent the one thing that most touched His heart.

I’m not so rich that I can give gifts without experiencing any personal loss. Such was God. The greatest gift is Jesus. Merry CHRISTmas!

Original photo from Tumblr.

Wrong ways to heal hurts

cutting

I have healed my hurts in Jesus. Please don’t try something else.

I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it. I DO hope to help people with it.

Dream. Pray. Live.

dream pray live

Don’t give up on dreaming. Don’t give up on praying. Don’t give up on living.

For when you have done any of those three, your life has become a mechanical nothingness.

Original image: Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money with it.

The best and the worst

Beautiful Pictures on G+The best and the worst can be found in the people of God. When Christians love, there is nothing better. When they reflect Christ’s love poorly, it hurts badly.

If you are a Christian, this is my appeal for you to love. If you are not a Christian and you have been hurt by one, this is my appeal to you to forgive us and to keep trying to find love from Christians.

Original image from Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles.

Watch and pray!

watch and pray

Gif from Beautiful Pictures of Google Circles.

Could you not but pray for an hour?

In his hour of desperation, Jesus couldn’t count on his disciples to pray. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew they were going to arrest him within minutes. He was so stressed out, he sweated blood drops. He prayed, and he asked his disciples to pray.

They fell asleep.

Do we likewise fall asleep when it is time to pray?

Stop the war (in your marriage)

marriage war

Bring back the lightheartedness, the laughter, the rush of romance, the sensation of feeling in love.

If you have banned that from your marriage, if you evolved through a business-like partnership into dwelling on faults, you are in danger. It is hard for any marriage to survive where love has turned to bitterness and anger.

Without the delicacy and delight, with difficulty a marriage may survive. But where love is renewed and refreshed with romance, it may grow through the years.

Make love, not war.

The importance of WE

the importance of weYou can’t just wall humans out of your life. It is unhealthy. It should amaze you what love and acceptance to bring to your heart. It will bless your mental and even physical health.

Love always perseveres

love always perseveres

Shakespeare warned us: The face may grow wrinkly, but IF love grows wrinkly, it never was love.

But many today take no heed of Mr. Wobbly Lance. Nor do they take heed — at far greater peril — of the Bible. God loves us with an everlasting love, a model for marriage.

I’m 47. I remember hearing my elders waxing poetic about growing older together, just as much as in love as the day they married. The next generation has dropped the grow-old-together baton.

Today, people are youth and beauty obsessed. People want the upgrade. Well, I have information for ya: spouses are not like iPhones. The older model is the better one! The newer one is no better, just different problems (yeah, no one is free of problems).

1 Cor. 13:6 says: Love always perseveres.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love always hopes

love always hopes

Naivete is not an attribute of love. So when 1 Cor. 13:6 says, Love always believes. Love always hopes, it’s not suggesting we go gullible or that we refuse to acknowledge when something is going wrong.

But there is a difference between naivete and cynicism. We might say: Love doesn’t stop believing in your spouse (after all, you fell in love with something good in that person), and Love hopes for the best.

None of this means crossing your fingers. Rather, you should contend for your marriage in prayer.

Of course, Jesus Himself provides the basis for divorce — adultery. And we might think of some other intolerable, similar sins (wife-beating comes to mind). The point here is not to enumerate all the justifiable causes of divorce. Nor is it to make you feel bad if you fell into divorce for any reason. As Jesus said, Moses granted humanity the divorce option because of hard hearts.

The point here is to encourage those who may be contemplating divorce to instead contemplate prayer. There are some practical things to do too, like get some marriage counseling. I recommend a Christian pastor but a secular counselor can be very helpful too.

Other marriage rescuers:

  • a support group (not your same-sex friends who agree with all your complaints).
  • be nice to your partner for once.
  • do the things you did when you were dating.
  • cut the criticism (harsh words are a marriage killer).
  • don’t argue in front of the kids.
  • talk over and come to agreement on child-raising techniques.
  • analyze objectively financial pressures and see how you can remove this marital strain.

There are many more. The point is to re-direct the course of your marriage today towards recovery. Love hopes for the best, believes that  a better marriage is possible. Generally, it’s not better to start over. You’ll get a new spouse with a new set of problems. Keep loving the person you loved.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love always protects

love always protects

Gentlemanliness opens doors for a lady, shields her from the water spray of a car whizzing by in the rain, carries her bags out to the car for her.

When a man grows cold and distant, he drops off the natural manly inclination to protect.

When a woman hardens her heart towards her man, she stops cooking nice things for him. She grows frigid to his romantic advances.

Both sexes need to protect each other. Both sexes have weaknesses that the spouse is designed to cover. When protection fails in a marriage, a marriage is failing.

If you wonder what happened to the love of you life, start protecting again.

1 Cor. 13:4

1 Cor. 13:5

1 Cor. 13:6

1 Cor. 13:7

1 Cor. 13:8

Love rejoices with the truth

love rejoices in the truth
Once you’re married, the blindfold is off. Prior to the wedding, you could see only wonderful things in your fiance. Now there are only bad traits?

Don’t enter marriage blinded by love. Once you’re in, don’t by hypercritical (be a little bit blind). Try to see the good things. And rejoice in them. Praise your spouse daily.

If you can’t see anything beautiful about your spouse, ask your neighbor.

1 Cor. 13:6 says: Love rejoices in the truth.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love does not delight in evil

Love does not delight in evil

A sinister side of the human heart secretly rejoices when bad happens to another — and worst case is when it happens to your spouse.

The is the opposite of envy, which angers over another’s blessing. It must rank up there with Hitler’s concentrated evil. The Bible says that married couples are one flesh, and you are mistaken to think that means only the physical union. It’s also emotional and spiritual.

So when good happens to your spouse, it happens to you. When bad happens, bad happens to you too. You are one flesh. Expel such rejoicing from your evil heart.

1 Cor. 13:6 says: Love does not delight in evil.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is not self-seeking

love is not self-seeking

We have heat-seeking missiles, but a love that is self-seeking hones in on its own destruction. Love gives.

They say it is give-and-take, but if it is to survive, it must give more than it takes. Stop trying to get out of your spouse more. Start trying to give more.

1 Cor. 13:5 says: Love is not self-seeking.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love does not boast

love does not boastLove puts another first. Pride means me first.

When you are boasting, you are wanting the world to pay attention to you. Love pays attention to another.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love does not envy

love does not envyEnvy hates because another has. This comes from an evil heart. We should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, but those who are given to feeling superior when they make comparisons also tend to feel envy when they feel inferior in any way.

This is the opposite of unity. So if you envy your spouse, your relationship is adversarial. You should make it partnership.

1 Cor. 13: 4 says: Love does not envy. You should shield your spouse, not leave them exposed to abuse.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is kind

love is kindMarried couples fall into the trap of expecting their spouse to be kind and reserving any show of kindness until then. This is path to divorce.

Remember when you were in love? No mountain was too high, no sea too stormy. You spent time thinking up new and fantastic ways to be kind to your beloved.

People tend to “let their hair down” around family, which means they’re mean. Oddly, with strangers they’re nice. Reverse this and be nice to family. Be tender to your spouse.

If you will simply be kind (even if your spouse “doesn’t deserve it”), you could set your marriage onto a path towards renewed happiness.

1 Cor. 13:4 says: Love is kind.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is patient

love is patient

Extremely contrary to the world’s concept of love, the Bible says that love, first and foremost, is patient.

A centerstage in scripture is Paul’s poetry on love. And the first thing he says is: Love is patient.

Here’s the rest of the passage:

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. — 1 Cor. 13:4-8 NIV.

It makes a wonderful inscription at a wedding. But DOING IT after the wedding — years after the wedding — is what’s needed. What’s needed is we be patient with each other. I bet there wouldn’t be so many broken homes if we would practice true love (patience).

Here’s every element of the series:

The beauty of nature is…

nature God

pic. from Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

God’s kiss to mankind.

And God kissed the Earth and beauty sprang up everywhere. And the Lord God blessed the Earth for man to enjoy because so great was His love for man.

Mi café favorito es el color de sus ojos

cafe Because this is untranslatable it goes out in Spanish (sorry, I realize that only a few of my followers speak Spanish). I wish to encourage all the marriages to work on restoring romance. Don’t wait for your anniversary or Feb. 14. The devil wants to destroy marriages; that is how he is quartering American society.

The gift of God cannot be purchased

giftofgodSimon becomes a convert for awhile, but judging by the negatives given about him in Acts 8, he ultimately became an enemy of the cross. He started turning bad when he offered money to have the power to impart the Holy Spirit with the imposition of hands. Peter rebuked him sharply: May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! – Acts 8:20 NIV.

One thing is clear: you can’t possibly buy anything from God. You can’t buy your way into Heaven even with million dollar donations. Only Jesus could the insanely huge ransom for your and my soul. You can receive it freely, just like you receive freely the Holy Spirit. It is a gift.

Make the journey home

journey home

Jacob so longed to be in the Promised Land that he order his bones be carried there from Egypt, which was done — incredibly — 400 years later!

It’s time for you to go home. To your spouse and children. Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home — Proverbs 27:8 ESV. Happiness is NOT in the wild life, it’s in the hearth.

It may be difficult to work out lasting relationships. It’s easy to throw it all away and believe the the lie that you’ll find something better elsewhere.

Kids need mom and dad at home. That’s where the greatest joy is, not with the “guys” doing guy things in the world. Don’t think the settled life is boring. God’s design brings the greatest and most lasting happiness for everyone.

This holiday season, don’t just go home in your car. Go home in your heart.

Go ahead, have an affair (with your spouse)

rekindle romanceOnce the rush of falling in love, the anxiety and thrill of finding out its shared, once it’s gone, if you’re human you may be tempted to feel it again.

Go ahead. Just feel it again with your spouse.

I lavished my fiance with 1,000 little details to show her my love. Once she was conquered, I turned my energies to other conquests. I didn’t mean to abruptly turn off the romance. Actually, I thought she would understand. Actually, I thought she would be proud of my next achievements.

Women, it would seem, don’t work that way. After 1,000 signs of affection, they want a steady diet. And that’s sometimes tough for us men to remember. Please try to understand: most men turn into ogres out of ignorance; honest, we’re not con men. It’s just our hardware. Once a trophy is attained, we look for the next trophy: in business, sports, wherever.

Guys, we need to do what we first did when our wives were girlfriends or fiances. Ladies, do the same: those oooo’s and ah’s you rained down on your man, bring them on again. Complaining and b witching won’t get anything good. A couple where both sides refuse to take the initiative to rekindle romance is headed for troubled waters.

So take the initiative: Strike a match. Don’t be surprised if your spouse doesn’t automatically warm up with just one. You may need to strike matches repeatedly before the fire rekindles. Give it time.

Friendship is the bomb!

friendsThis side of eternity, the greatest thing is having friends.

Keep it simple

simplicity
Sometimes we want to make the gospel complicated because we have worked so hard. We don’t want it to be easy for newcomers. We have fasted. We have fought the flesh. We have prayed all night. I did it, so you must do it.

But Paul (who did more than any of us) exhorts us to keep it simple. The gospel is simple: Believe in Jesus and be saved. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ. – 2 Cor. 11:3 KJV (caps mine).

Romans 10:9 similarly makes it simple: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (NIV).

It was the Pharisees and Jewish leaders who added rule upon rule, making it harder to get into Heaven. Considering they ultimately rejected Christ, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be like them. Some of us are going to be very surprised to see lots of people in Heaven, people we thought wouldn’t make it because they didn’t follow all our rules.

Simplicity is beautiful. Let’s not deprive the gospel of its beauty.

Thankful for my son, Robert


With Thanksgiving approaching, I want to say things for which I am thankful to God. My son Robert wants to be an engineer. He plays club soccer, and he plays in worship at the church. What else could a dad want his son to do?


What are you thankful for? I encourage you to blog your gratitude. Let’s infect the web with gratefulness.

Jesus on blogging

Jesus on bloggingGive love. WordPress only has a “like” button. Blogging is not about you. It is about others. Give like love to others and leave comments.

Keep it short. Much has been written about Jesus, but He Himself? To the point. The sayings of Jesus would fill only a small pamphlet. The gospels about Him are brief and beautiful. On the blogosphere, you’re not writing a college monography that considers every angle.

Use pictures. Jesus spoke word pictures (called parables) that livened up his teaching. Take a lesson from Him.

Multiply. Jesus multiplied loves and fishes. You need to multiply your blog on other social media.

Be patient. Some want to go viral overnight. Jesus worked painstakingly with 12 disciples. Even then, Peter disowned Him at a critical moment. Only after Jesus restored Peter post-resurrection did the investment of time pay out.

Share. I’m troubled by Christians who worry more that their ideas don’t get plagiarized than about the gospel getting spread. Whose message is it anyway? The internet is the place for sharing. If somebody steals your idea, take it as a compliment and work on the next stroke of genius.

Serve your followers. Jesus had 12 disciples to whom He dedicated special attention. Don’t get so big-headed that you forget the people who helped your blog grow and become popular.

Love your enemies. Blogging is not about being a Pharisee, about condemning others and claiming to have the only truth. It’s about sharing ideas and treating others with respect. If your ideas are good, they’ll stand by themselves. You don’t need to be like James and John who wanted to call down fire from Heaven to burn the Samaritans.

Hard to love

hard to love

image from truelovedates.com. I don’t own rights to this, and I’m not making any money on it.

Actually, it’s easy to love the Islamic State. What’s hard is to love your spouse.

As Christians, we are ordered to love our enemies. We may be enraged by their atrocities, but we can pray for them to get saved and wish Christianity for them.

The toughest thing is stomaching hurt from a person from whom we expect love. We don’t expect love from the Islamic State. Because we are surprised when a family member (or church family member) rejects us instead of loving us, it’s a rough road.

The lady who blackmailed me by falsely accusing me to the police is easy to love. I never expected anything from her. Her kid was in our school in Guatemala, and, desperate for money, she thought it would be easy to exploit the gringo. Despite her turning my life into a hellish nightmare for nine months, it was easy to forgive her.

But the people I love and expected to receive love from… Help me, Jesus.

Being liked

being likedCall me insecure, but I’m the type who wants to be liked by everybody. The reality is: not everybody is going to like me.

In fact, sometimes lots of people are disgusted with me. After all, I’m just a human being.

Jesus asks us to love those who hate us. Sometimes the people who are supposed to love us, pour rejection out. This is hard to handle. It requires maturity — more than I have. But it’s something I can shoot for. Christianity is not about being perfect but aiming for improvement.

The greatest gift: forgiveness

forgivenessGod gives gifts to men.

What’s startling about this statement is that kings GET gifts from their subjects.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! — Matt. 7:11 NIV.

The greatest gift you could ever receives is NOT a Lamborghini. Nor is it a date with Brittany Spears. Nor is it a trip to Tahiti.

It is forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness is available only for the asking.

Unfortunately, many are too busy arguing that there is no need to ask for forgiveness.

He looked for donkeys, and God made him king

looking for donkeysSaul was sent to find some stray farm animals. While he wandered searching, God found him and anointed him king of Israel.

You may be involved in the most prosaic business or ordinary life, and God is looking for you to give you the most extraordinary life.

Many people aren’t looking for God (maybe they’re trying to avoid Him). But God is going to find them.

Can we just stop hurting people who come to church to heal their hurts?

I don't own the rights to this image. I got it from http://mafietta.com. I'm not making money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this image. I got it from http://mafietta.com. I’m not making money on it.

All over the blogosphere, and talking to people outside of church, I find people who have been hurt in the very place where they should’ve been helped.

Yikes!

Honestly, we look more like the Pharisees than Jesus, who ate with tax-collectors and stopped stone-throwing at prostitutes. Of course, the Bible points to a moral standard that must be upheld by the church, but many times it’s simply a pastor’s ego, a leader’s power trip, that offends.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea – Matt. 18:6 NIV.

I haven’t left the church. I wish and pray to see the church changed.

Beautiful feet

beautiful feet

Flashy fashion or walk worn. What’s your ideal of beautiful feet?

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. — Rom. 10:15 KJV. Paul evokes the messenger of antiquity who came running with news of military victory. With the coming of his feet, anxiety gave way to exhilaration. Good news brought great joy.

The spreading of the gospel is like news of victory. We didn’t stand a military chance against Satan and sin, but Jesus intervened and won us the war. With the news, there is great rejoicing.

The first carriers of the gospel walked long distances to break pagans out of the ignorance. Instead of paparazzi, they were met with stone-throwers. They sacrificed because the bore good news and hungered to share it.

Even today, there is much sacrifice to do to get the good word out.

Romancing Ruth

RuthShe chooses poverty, discrimination and likely abuse all to be with her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. What gets into Ruth to leave behind the connections and culture of Moab and go to Bethlehem, where she has no chances?

Without any job opportunities, she decides to “glean” behind the harvesters, a back-breaking sun-scorching 12 hours of picking up dropped grains in which you’d expect to get about one meal for one person. A panhandler in the U.S. fares far better.

Yet she was hot. Since she was a foreigner, someone could have taken advantage of her, and she couldn’t expect legal protections. Ruth opened herself to all these dangers and adversities to be loyal to her new family and serve God.

God has a way of honoring those who honor Him. Boaz takes note of her sacrifice and kindness rendered to her mother-in-law. Eventually he marries her. As a result, her finances and future are secured.

Going on 24 years of marriage

marriage anniversaryIt’s one thing for young pups in love to send each other “forever” memes. We need to see older mature (?) married couples still in love. My wife and I celebrate 24 years this month. Praise God! It is not always easy but always worth it to work on it instead of throwing it away. My kids agree too.