Tag Archives: love

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

As the world grows darker, rejoice

this gathering darknessSin is flaunted, parading, justified on every side, but we don’t circle the wagons. Because the darker it gets, the brighter the light shines. Be of good cheer, my brothers and sisters, and shine on for Jesus!

Keep calm and keep shining.

This would be easier if it were Minecraft

… and other words of wisdom from my 13-year-old son.

pulling out the trunk

The trunk on the curbside.

We were helping my brother pull out a stump from his garden. It was an eyesore that annoyed the neighbors in Idaho Falls. While Don is recovering from a ski accident and his wife, Barbra, gets back pains struggling with weight, their son young son Mark was day by day trying to dig it out. He worked hard, but he didn’t have any help. And he was little.

So I showed up with my 17-year-old and my 13-year-old son. We made pretty short work of it. We dug under it. We axed the roots. Then we pried it out and rolled it to the curb. Next we helped Barbra plant some flowers, shoveled in the dirt and watered.

The team did the job. Hosea, my younger son, was impressed by the amount of work involved.

the flower patch

The finished product, the flower patch.

“This would be easier if it were Minecraft,” he observed. This is prepubescent wisdom at its finest.

It seems strange to me that Minecraft is popular because it is a throwback, a low definition graphics game. In any case, kids either build things or strike out on adventures. I’m not sure why it’s so popular. But yeah, pulling out a trunk on Minecraft is pretty much easier than in real life.

As a matter of fact, pretty much everything on video games is easier than in real life. Take marriage for example. Making it work is no easy thing. Personally, I pray and work at it. People seem to think they shouldn’t have to work at it, that it should work all by itself.

Removing rooted sins from your life is also a bunch of work. Pulling out that tree trunk made me think about how difficult it can be get a bad habit out (like smoking, or maybe anger).

Yeah, Minecraft’s definitely easier. But life is real. And I don’t want to live in a fantasy world. I want to live and find happiness and success in the real world. So I do hard work.

Love is supreme

love is supreme

You could have incredible prosperity, fame, power, and if you don’t have love, you would be unhappy.

You could be dirt-poor and humble and anonymous, but if you have love, you are the richest person on the planet?

Jesus extends His love to you continually. It only remains for you receive this live.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. — 1 Cor. 13:13

Once you become a Christian, growing in maturity means growing in love — loving the unlovable. This is what Jesus did, and it’s what we must learn.

Spiritual gifts are overrated

supernatural gifts

It’s impressive when somebody asks you how you knew. You gave words, disclosed by the Holy Spirit, to encourage a person in a very specific way. Or you prayed for a person and he got healed. Using the fireworks can be a thrill — and it can make you feel like a spiritual hotshot.

But just lighting off fireworks doesn’t make you a Christian. Nor does it mean you have a blackbelt in spirituality.

No the blackbelt comes when you love someone who is hating you violently.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy… and have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:1-2

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.

Hi! Fund my trip to Guatemala!

mikeHey everybody! I’m translating a revival in Guatemala, my old stomping ground. If you want to help pitch in for the airfare and taxi and food and stuff, here’s the link: http://www.gofundme.com/MikeToGuatemala

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 $

Eating disorders and self image

Needless to say, we are so proud of our students Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica who put together this short for a film class. Eulie Scheel, Hasset Anteneh and a cameo appearance Daniella Mezrahi. Eulie’s mom is Marcia Harden, creator of Code Black.

This video probes eating disorders, self image, depression and self worth. It’s a tear-jerker.

When rivals become friends

working togetherArgentina and Brazil hate each other. For decades, Argentina was the upper society of South America, and Brazil the vulgar poor neighbor to the north. They were both dominant in soccer, so the rivalry became intense.

Messi is from Argentina, and Neymar is from Brazil. On other teams, rivals have famously sunk their teams (Lampard and Gerrard on England, for example). But these two stars for Barcelona have set aside any differences and become friends. The results were magical: a triple crown of titles this season — Spanish League, King’s Cup and now the Champion’s League, the competition second in prestige only to the World Cup.

When you decide to set aside your differences and work together with people in your church, the results will be (maybe “magical” is not the right word) supernatural!

True Christians forgive. And Muslims?

I believe in a world where we can all live in peace, where we can debate, not kill over, our differences of faith. But I am disturbed by reports of apparently millions (?) of Muslims who support Al Qaeda or ISIS.

My faith’s founder left himself die. Your faith’s founder liquidated the opposition. My faith grew under the oppression of of the Roman persecution. Your faith expanded by military conquest.

I’m reaching out to my Muslim friends to explain to me why there is so much violence, hatred and killing in Islam?

A portal to hell

portal to hellJK. Actually this is an underground lava flow. This surface hole shows the underground tube.

God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. So don’t reject Him. Don’t choose an eternal destination apart from Him. He loves you.

Well, it’s not that easy…

broken heart

First you follow your heart (excuse the pun) whole-heartedly.

Then when your heart leads you to pain (because of sin), you want to get rid of it.

But those who try only make things worse. They try to deaden the pain with a deluge of sin (drugs, alcohol, meaningless sex). These are neither permanent nor true fixes.

Jesus heals hearts. Cry out to Him.

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.

Teasing you to re-think your stereotypes

recitatif

Who is Twyla and who is Roberta? Your guess is still only an assumption, that Morrison has pulled you into to making to expose your stereotypes.

Toni Morrison’s only short story, Recitatif, invites you to guess the race of the two main characters, Twyla and Roberta, because Morrison carefully avoids stating it.

I always ask my U.S. Lit students at my Christian school in Santa Monica who is black and who is white. Results are always divided. Then my students begin to argue and pick out pieces of evidence from the story. This is a useful learning dynamic because it forces students to think, to use evidence to support their conjecture, but ultimately it is futile. Morrison’s genius is such that, being a African American writer, she writes about race with grace and gentleness.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

The story is completely void of bitterness. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t even accept the conventional wisdom about racism. Both girls (all we ever learn conclusively is that one is white and the other is black, and your best guess is only conjecture) attack a mute, bow-legged “tan”-colored cook at St. Bonaventure’s, where they are housed as quasi-orphans. The picture of racism is simple: there is an almost irresistible urge in all mankind to hurt the powerless.

It is a haunting picture. It is a picture of sin. Left unchecked, sin will drive us to evil. Nobody escapes its clutches alone.

Morrison invites us to reflect about racism. It is nothing innate to whites or to blacks. In fact, it has very little to do with skin color. It has to do with the wicked, very human, innate heart condition to flaunt power over another. And in exercising that power, we humans harm.

Wow, this story explains much more than just racism! It explains why there is war.

But it comes up short in terms of finding a solution. In fact, the ending can seem anti-climatic. Roberta agonizes over the memory. She cannot fix for certain whether she and Twyla actually kicked the cook or did they just want to do it in their hearts.

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

For love of mom and dad

love of mom and dad

E-mail has not replaced knee-mail

knee mail | communication wtih GodBefore texting, there was instantaneous communication. It was called prayer.

And you don’t have to get on your knees to pray — although some people find the position of their body helps with there outlook.

You should call out on God before you get into desperation. Just saying.

You are too busy to NOT pray.

Image source: Buzzfeed

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.

But God wants you to go to Heaven

heaven or hell

It’s your choice, Heaven or Hell.

Extraordinary staff at Christian school Santa Monica

mrs cheeryAs she lay on her recovery bed at home, Lisa Clancy, a cancer survivor, realized she could help high schoolers.

“I heard the kids at the house talking about the troubles in high school,” she said. “I felt like God was telling me that this is where I could help. High school can be a tumultuous time for teenagers.”

Mrs. Clancy is a volunteer extraordinaire at Lighthouse Christian Academy. She does everything from answering phones to counseling kids. And the extraordinary thing is that kids actually confide in her. She’s a high standard for loving staff among Santa Monica Christian schools.

“She is always there for me when I need advice or a little cheering up,” said Lizzie Hofer, a junior. “I can talk to her about anything and not feel weird that she is my friend’s mom.”

Mrs. Clancy is mother to two Lighthouse students and one graduate. A native of Chicago, Mrs. Clancy and her husband moved to Santa Monica four years ago with their four boys.

Now she is teaching an elective that helps students to discover their strengths and plan a future career. It’s called Passion Present Purpose and with nine students meets twice a week for an hour and a half. To teenagers, the future can be daunting, but Mrs. Clancy helps break it down. Continuing reading.

How God looks down on us

God's heart

gif from dominique

Envybook

envy

from gocomics.com

What is Facebook good for? Provoking envy, according to studies.

Why are we humans so prone to brag, show off and flaunt pride? This is sin.

Why are also vulnerable to feeling envy? Rom. 12:15 describes Christian character: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Feel good about another’s success/blessing. Feel compassion on another’s failure/suffering.

Compassion of the suffering is why Christians evangelize. Maybe what you’re suffering is envy. Come to Jesus.

The most exciting day in a long time: an emo for dinner

better than expresso

What’s better than coffee? Getting someone saved.

The highlight of the week has been reached. We had our neighborhood emo for dinner.

An emo is a latest iteration on the goth/punk subculture, which revels in depression and dresses dark with bright colored hair. Why would I want my daughter hanging out with her? Because we’re going to get her saved.

Behind the despair, there’s a heart that needs Jesus. Behind the self-harm (if she does it), there’s a dire need for love. We Christians are not on Planet Earth for any other reason than to lavish love on the unloveable.

There is nothing more thrilling or meaningful than to see people come to Christ.

Due to my personal ruling, we won

Lighthouse Christian Academy teachers | Santa Monica

I’m in the red sweat pants. And Zach Attack is frustrating Raymond.

You see, they need to give old guys like me a five point handicap. We lost 6-3 (one point per basket) playing against the former UCLA quarterback who passes himself off a laidback teacher at Lighthouse Christian Academy. I mean, that’s fair, right? A 47-year-old going up against this stud?

They call him Zach Scribner, but from now on I’m calling him Zach Attack. The game was like a twig trying to hold back a tsunami. Zach was quicker, stronger, sharper. He could score at will, block at will, rebound at will. The only reason the humiliation wasn’t worse is because Zach didn’t even try. Dude, I’m looking at the after-game pictures, and this young punk is smiling as if he’s on a stroll with his baby and wife in the park.

Lighthouse Christian Academy

Look at the air Zach Attack is getting! He could’ve jumped over all 6’3″ of me. Is that fair?

Meanwhile, I’m huffing and puffing chasing kids around. No fair.

I don’t think my teammate is very happy with me. Raymond LOVES basketball. A student from China, he’s come to sharpen his skills agains the L.A. boys. He couldn’t have had a worse teammate.

So I’m the oldest teacher at LCA, so I’m invoking my seniority and over-ruling my boss, the principal. And I’m announcing through this medium, that my team won and we advance to the next round of LCA’s teacher-student 3-on-3 mixup annual basketball tournament. I’m going to win by decree.

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.