Tag Archives: motivation

Jordan Payton and Kate Sommer: record breakers, classmates, friends


Jordan Payton thanks God after a touchdown.

They were born together, played together, studied together and competed against each other. Whether it was Olympic Day or dodge ball, Jordan Payton, growing tall and strong even as a kid, always beat Kate Sommer.

Now at age 21, Kate finally beat Jordan.

Both students playing Div. 1 sports have broken their respective universities’ records – Kate for digs on women’s volleyball and Jordan for receptions on football. And though they broke records almost at the same time, Kate hit the new high first.

kate sommer on court

“She got me on this one,” Jordan said after practice recently. “She definitely did.”

Kate hit gold in mid-October with four years of digs for Washington State University, spiking the previous high mark of 1,744.

Jordan caught his 194th pass on Nov. 21 – about three weeks later.

“It’s crazy that we both broke records at the same time,” Kate said. “I would always some in second. He would always win. I was always behind him. I actually wanted to beat him.”

Jordan Payton Kate SommerThe feat is indeed extraordinary, in part, because both record-busters came from a tiny school, Lighthouse, which averages 100 enrollment with its primary, middle and high school combined.

But not only did they both go to the same school, they were in the same classroom, which oscillated between 10 and 12 students year-to-year. After middle school, Jordan attended Oaks Christian for its high profile football program – and so inseparable friends started to wend separate paths into the world.

The story of Jordan’s and Kate’s friendship literally started in the womb. Both are youngest children, so their parents became friends as their older brothers and sisters played together in sports, in the Lighthouse Church and in the schools. Read the rest of this fascinating account about record breakers in this Christian school Los Angeles.

Unselfishness wins


Unity won the day for Barca.

Barcelona left eternal rivals Real Madrid in shreds Saturday 4-0 in a game that showed that individual prowess doesn’t win games.

The Catalans have not one but three superstars. And those three — Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez — share the goals unselfishly.

Usually teams are built around and for one superstar who won’t stand for competition on his own team. (Kobe Bryant infamously ran Shaquille O’Neal off the Lakers years ago.)


Luis Suarez scored two and made assists.

Barca works because it works like a team.

Not Real Madrid. Marcello took a shot when his best option was to pass. The ball went wide, and his teammates got mad. He sought individual glory but brought collective disgrace.

By contrast, Brazillian magician Neymar shared as many balls as he fired. And Suarez, who pretty much defines goal-making precision, foots off as many or more killer assists. Messi, recovering from injury, came on as a late substitute and set up the fourth goal with a pass that would have made a brain surgeon taken note for its precision.

lionell messi and iniesta

No rivalry between players. Messi left and midfielder Andres Iniesta

The Bible says: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want passes to you, then follow the Golden Rule. That’s what Barca did, and today the followers of the Golden Rule are the Golden Boys of soccer.

Note: I don’t own the rights to these images, and I’m not making any money on them.

Pay a scholarship for at-risk students for soccer


Levi shows why he’ll be midfielder.

This blog has always been about people. Even more than writing, I love interacting with and helping people. I’ve seen through the years how our school’s soccer team is another way to reach out to kids: to teach them discipline, excellence, respect and teamwork. Actually, I’m amazed at sport’s power to assist in the transformation of youth.

So I’m ask you, my loyal readers, if you can chip in for a scholarship for kids to play. Some kids can’t even afford the paltry $100 sports fee. Additionally, we need new penny jerseys and money for parents to drive kids to practices. There are park fees, game fees and referee fees. Pretty much everybody charges a fee except me. I do it because I love soccer and I love helping people. You can help too! Here’s my GoFundMe account gofundme.com/9tb5ehjw.  (Sorry, looks like you have to cut and paste it due to WordPress’ refusal to transfer the link.) I’m trying to raise $750 for the benefit of the team. I need your help because I don’t have this money myself.

I’m excited for a new season. Thanks for helping!

Because I believe in giving thanks

Veterans DayThe freedoms I enjoy, the prosperity, the trappings of America — someone fought for those. They didn’t just drop out of the sky.

Somebody fought for those and gave them to me. Should I not say thanks?

We need to be grateful, not entitled snots. We should recognize and appreciate what soldiers have done for America — from the American Revolution onward. If you don’t think it important to appreciate the soldiers who made America great, try living in just about any other country in the world for a while (like I did: 16 years as a missionary in Guatemala). It will help you to appreciate the Home of Brave and the Land of the Free.

Soldiers: THANK YOU!

Tom Curren, surfing legend, came to Jesus

Tom CurrenHe patiently watches the wave come closer and closer, then turns his board, jumps to his feet and rides the wave back home, cutting alternately graceful elliptical lines and quick power turns that send a water wall spraying.

This is Tom Curren, surfing legend and decisive Christian.

“The ocean is a sign of God’s power,” he told 40,000 people at a Christian rally in Anaheim Stadium. “It’s really good to live for Jesus Christ.”

But the three-time world champion wasn’t always stoked for Jesus.

Tom-Curren-3In the sixth grade he was already drinking cocktails, and in the seventh grade, getting high on drugs, according to the online Encyclopedia of Surfing. His surfer dad left his born-again mom when he was 17.

At the height of his career, Tom fell out of all competitions because of alcoholism. Photos in surfing magazines contrasted the winners with Tom boozed up and lying inert on a beach in Mexico.

“He became the laughing stock of the surfing tour,” said Pastor Jimmy Papik, a surfer from Venice, California.

But he was not to be counted out. Tom got straight with Jesus and returned to competitions to cement his legacy.

“To be honest there were a few years there where I really wasn’t doing much of anything. I was pretty lost I guess,” he confides to Surfer Magazine. “For me, it’s just Jesus is there and He’s free, and He’s all I need. It’s something where I know I’m not the only one to struggle with alcohol. I’m doing really well at the moment.”

Tom_CurrenTom, now 52, began surfing when he was two years old in Santa Barbara, where he perfected his records-smashing technique on the long ride of idyllic waves at Rincon.
His father, Pat Curren, pioneered big-wave surfing in Hawaii. He made boards and wetsuits for his son. He loved skateboarding, but after age 13 the waves drew him away from the wheels.

In 1978 he won the Boys’ U14s Western Surfing Association title, and the following year he became the Boy’s National Champion. He was gifted, it would seem, by God to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and walk on water.

In 1980, he snatched the World Amateur Junior Championship, and in 1982, he pocketed the Men’s title.

Then he went pro.

At the time, three Australians were dominating everything – Mark Occhilupo, Gary Elkerton and Tom Carroll. And South African Martin Potter was dazzling the world with the sport’s first aerials.

But in his first professional competition, Tom Curren won – the 1982 Marui World Surfing Pro in Japan. What the ballet dancer does on the stage, Tom did with mesmerizing, pulsating brilliance on water. His inexorable victory sweep culled consecutive world titles in 1985 and 1986.

His reputation was etched with the other surfing legends, Duke Kahanamoku and Kelly Slater — according to some sources.

“He has a surfing style that combines smooth, rhythmic, seamlessly-linked maneuvers with blinding speed, raw power, and unique check turns and body English,” says his entry in Wikipedia.

Then just as suddenly he exploded on the surfing scene, he slipped out of view. The surfing lifestyle often goes hand in hand with the party lifestyle, and the drinking and drug habits he started as a teen were beginning to sink him.

It was his devout Christian mother, Jeanine, who rescued her prodigal son. A surfer herself, she took him to ride boards. She preached at him, loved on him and prayed for him. Everyone had basically written off the phenom who got stung by addiction, but Tom was slowly grinding out a recovery. The rest of the story here.

I get energy off this guy

BuddiesZach Scribner works odd jobs to be able to teach at our Christian high school, which is small and resource-stretched. He prefers to save souls. He cleans the church (for free, I think). I help him occasionally. He inspires me.

I get energy off this guy. While others in the church emanate cynicism, you can never get a negative thought out of this guy. I want to be like him.

Is it a funny thing that a somewhat old guy (me — I’m 48) looks up to and wants to emulate a young guy (he was a little boy when I was a pastor-missionary)? Yeah, I have a lot to learn in my Christian life, and I can learn it from him. It doesn’t matter that he’s a million years younger than me.

I can thank God to have him as one of my best friends. I thank God for people who inspire.

Christ on the football field?

varsity sports Christian school Santa MonicaLike Christ, he hazarded his life to help his buddies win.

And the Saints won 54-15 against Concordia High School of Sylmar, their first win of the 2015 season – thanks to a 200-pound senior who was already injured.

The Cougars were the first to score.

“They were just moving the ball. We couldn’t stop them,” said Coach Zach Scribner. “I don’t know what it was. They had too many beefy guys. They just kept pushing the line. Rob (Ashcraft) basically stepped up and said, ‘I’ll go in, and I’ll play on the line.’ And we stopped them.”

Rob – named after Lighthouse schools founder Pastor Rob Scribner, the former LA Rams kickoff returner – had been injured on Sept. 11 in a game against Rolling Hills Academy. The risk of further injury was high to step out of the field.

But this was his senior year, a last chance to grab glory and make memories – and his team needed him. So Rob, with a torn ACL, gave it all. He made one touchdown reception and threw as quarterback another touchdown pass.

In the third quarter, his leg gave out, and he collapsed.

“Fuuuuudge!” he shrieked in pain. To continue reading click varsity sports Santa Monica.

This happened by chance, of course

forgiveness at 9/11

From the New York Times.

Of all the pages in the Bible, the one on forgiveness was “fossilized” in steel at World Trade Center Towers at 9/11. No, there’s no God, and He wasn’t giving a message to America, an erstwhile Christian nation. Missionaries should not take up the call to bring love and forgiveness to the languishing lost in Islam. It is all a coincidence, according to non-believers.

I have copied the article from the New York Times without altering a word, which if you were so inclined you can find here:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

So many chapters. So many verses. But these were the words — from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in the Gospel of Matthew — found permanently exposed at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks. The pages of the Bible in which they were printed had fused to a chunk of steel as the World Trade Center collapsed, to be found only months later.

The artifact is to be shown to Pope Francis when he visits the National September 11 Memorial Museum. It was given to the museum by the photographer Joel Meyerowitz, whose book “Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive” is the definitive pictorial chronicle of the months following the attack.

A firefighter found the fragment in March 2002, under the Tully Road, a temporary truck route that covered the last remnants of the south tower. He called out to the photographer, who happened to be nearby.

“This shredded, burned and rubble-covered Bible came to me from the loving hands of a fireman who knew that I was the record keeper of ground zero,” Mr. Meyerowitz said Thursday in an e-mail from Italy, where he now lives.

“My astonishment at seeing the page that the Bible was open to made me realize that the Bible’s message survives throughout time,” he said, “and in every era we interpret its teachings freshly, as the occasion demands.”

A new sheriff in town: Lighthouse Church School’s flag football

Christian middle school West Los Angeles

My son, Hosea, hikes the ball. The losing streak snapped.

After a stinging loss the day before, the Lighthouse Church School flag football team bounced back to beat Crossroads B 22-14 on Oct. 6 – the first victory of the season for the recently rebuilt program.

“The team is improving daily,” said Coach Josh Scribner, whose son Marcus plays on the Santa Monica team. “We’re on a very fast learning curve. Most of our players have no previous experience. But they are committed to each other and working hard.”

Suddenly a 5-game winless streak broke to the jubilation of kids and parents. Learning how to block was a key, coach said.

Lighthouse has been something of a football powerhouse. With its senior pastor a former NFL player and a former principal a Dartmouth champion, you would expect domination in the Pacific Basin League.

But changes in coaching and a drop of student enrollment combined to sack Lighthouse’s program. The middle school has gone three seasons without a team.

That all changed when Pastor Josh Scribner returned from a 10-year pastoring stint in Utah. His son was a Pop Warner star, and he was an accomplished football player. His brother, Nate, a former quarterback at Santa Monica College, also offered to coach.

There’s a new sheriff in town. Read the rest of the article.

Forgiveness: it’s beautiful

forgiveIf it is hard to forgive, if it is necessary, we must also understand that it is beautiful.

It is a release of pain, thus a relief from pain. In theory, it is strange that we would retain pain. In theory, we want immediate relief, whether it’s a headache or a heartache. But such is the human condition that we hold onto the grudge, we remember the wrong suffered — even more, we sickly savor the memory.

I’m not pointing fingers. I myself struggle.

Think of that moment when you were speeding and a cop car lights up and blows its sirens behind you. Instantly, you sweat and start to pull over. But no, the cop goes on and pulls over somebody else. You feel joyful relief.

Forgiveness is even better than that.

Christianity is portrayed as condemning (sometimes we are to blame for this). In fact, we ought to be portrayed as forgivers, albeit imperfect forgivers.

Image source: google

Getting to winning

Autobahn BU14

Fueling between games at the OC Kickoff Classic tournamente in Orange County.

Hosea’s club team has lost some games pretty badly. As a matter of fact, they hadn’t even scored since Hosea joined.

That all changed Sunday. The 13-year-olds from Autobahn Soccer Club in Santa Monica came from behind to win 2-1. It was a thrill and a confidence booster for the kids.

But how did they get from losing to winning? Competent coaching plays a large role. Winning soccer games consists of fitness, technical and tactical knowledge, pure talent and the right attitude. The coaches, Herve Roussel and Pierce Maher, have been patient teachers. They don’t yell at the kids and apparently don’t get frustrated.

Coaches aren’t everything. Parents play a role. They encourage the kids to believe in themselves. I’ve seen discouraged kids slog out onto the field. Before the game starts, they believe they’re going to lose. And they do.

soccer club in Santa Monica

Coach Pierce goes over some of the positives of a loss the day before their Sunday victory.

Kids play a role. They are improving practice after practice. They need to believe in themselves. They will perform at a higher level if they play with confidence and passion.

The funny thing is that this team’s “best players” left the team looking for a winning team. A hemorrhage of talent can discourage anyone, and yet the coaches, parents and kids have remained encouraged.  I guess the “stars” didn’t believe in the newcomers, among which was my son Hosea, who hasn’t been playing with confidence previously. As the older stars leave, the new stars have to rise up.

This has everything to do with your and my life. We have to get to winning. We can be on a long losing streak. But if daily, we work to improve one of these areas:

  • fitness (think emotionally or spiritually)
  • technical and tactical ability (grow intellectually daily)
  • pure talent (there isn’t a person on the planet that God hasn’t given some special gifting)
  • believe in yourself (the psychological battle is perhaps the toughest).

Keep believing in your dreams — and get to winning!

Neophytes learn how to fight in Santa Monica Christian school football

Christian school Santa Monica | football

Tex Hagoski, with Coach Justin Kayne

One jittery kid forgot to put in his mouth guard. Another contracted a last-minute mysterious disease that incapacitated him. A bunch of kids missed tackles.

And that’s how the newbies got the heebie-jeebies at the Saints 2015 opener of 8-man football on Aug. 28 in a 20-34 loss to better-financed Crossroads Christian School of Corona.

“I’m always nervous before a game,” admitted LCA senior Tex Hagoski. “But then I either hit someone or get hit by someone and I remember that it’s not so bad.”

Hagoski gave and took plenty of hits. He ramrodded through the defensive line on punishing run after bruising run. Plenty of pain was dished out for everyone. A Crossroads player broke a leg. The Saints walked off the field battered but proud — they had given all.

“It hurt,” said Abraham Morales, a sophomore. “I was afraid when that kid messed his leg up. But I had to keep going because their team was going to come back stronger.”

It was Abraham’s first game, along with about half the squad. He’s been hard-working and faithful in practice. And on Friday night, he proved a critical element in the chemistry for Saints football.

Fellow sophomore Alex Cervantes felt much more at ease this, his second year. He came up with a touchdown-scoring reception on a long pass that surprised the Crossroads Cougars. They left him completely unguarded as they mistook the play for a run and all players swooped in for the kill. Read the rest of the story: education and sports.

Superman gets charged by the Sun. Christians get charged by the Son.

superman sus Christians SonSo I guess I’ve been in a humorous mood of late. I’ve been posting some funnies. But I always try to include a small message. This one is worth a chuckle.

I think you’d do well to be charged by the Son.

Jesus cleans

jesus cleans

Funny how everything needs cleaning — according to this generation — except the heart.

Out of poverty in Detroit, to lauded surgeon, now presidential candidate, Ben Carson

ben carson for presidentAs a teenager, Ben Carson and a friend were arguing over a choice of radio stations. Things got heated and Ben took out a pocketknife and lunged the knife blade toward his friend’s stomach.

The blade hit his friend’s belt buckle, broke in half, which saved his friend from harm and Ben from becoming a murderer. Frightened by what nearly happened, Ben ran home and locked himself in the bathroom with a Bible.

Ben turned to the wisdom of Proverbs, reading “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1); or “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (29:22), and a final admonition, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).

Humbled by the power of God’s Word, Carson realized that if left to his own devices, his anger would drive him toward ruin. Instead he prayed that God would help him control his temper instead of letting it control him, and God answered his prayer.

“When I came out, my temper was gone and I’ve never had a problem since,” Carson revealed in a talk he gave to the LifePoint Assembly of God in Osceola, Iowa, as reported by The Des Moines Register.

He chose instead to live by the words of James 1:19-20 which says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

The retired neurosurgeon – who has inspired millions to overcome adversity with his book and movie Gifted Hands – is now campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination – the only African American running in either party this voting season.

Read the rest of the incredible story.

Victory: the difference between non-Christians and Christians

usain-bolt-celebrating-victory_1600x1200_552-desktopNon-Christians: Victory is mine!

Christians: Victory is His!

Goodbye, Guatemala!

Door Christian School | GuatemalaI got all kinds of annoying chores done, like paperwork and government requirements. But the highlight of my five weeks in Guatemala was the people. The kids at the school broke my heart.

Some of them are going through rough times at home. We try to show them the love of Christ. If, because they prefer sin, their parents show them they’re not important, we at the Door Christian School try to show these kids that they are, in fact, important for Jesus.

And my summer is gone! I teach in a private school in Santa Monica. How did I spend my vacation? Teaching.

I guess I love people.

I quit, and we lost

Colegio cristiano guatemala

Hanging out with the guys in Guatemala. (If you notice, only my feet are on the ground.)

The two things are absolutely related. It’s hard to beat Banner, even though his older brother Mario is almost as good at soccer. I was on Mario’s team, and we pretty much trailed Banner’s team by one goal the whole game.

But after two-and-a-half hours playing in the sun, having fasted breakfast, I suddenly found myself, somewhere between heat stroke and exhaustion, on the bench in the shade. I needed water, and there was none. I was breathing quickly.

“Pastor, come and play. This is probably the last time you’ll play in Guatemala.” Ordinarily these words would shot energy into me. But this time this 48-year-old body wouldn’t budge. I didn’t care any more. I was really dog-tired.

As poorly as I played (about 20 turnovers), still my presence on the field counted for something. I made it a little bit harder for them to score, a little bit harder for them to defend. My absence proved our demise by simple math: one less player favored them.

When you quit the church, you cause the team to lose. Keep playing.

My peace I give you


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — Jesus in John 14:27 NIV.

He who has the MOST HIGH never needs to get high

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

God doesn’t open doors. He opens seas.

God doesn't open doors. He opens seas.

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

Winning British Open, Zach Johnson glorifies God

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

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

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

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

To finish the article click here.

Change is necessary

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

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

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

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

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

Change is easy

change is easy

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

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

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

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

Change is possible


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

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

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

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

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.

Narrow places

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

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

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

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

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

Former Sandinista now part of God’s army

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Driven to your knees

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

I love waterfalls

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

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

Water is life, beauty, tranquility.

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

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

Fund me, please

Mike Ashcraft | Guatemala

I’m visiting my brother in Idaho Falls

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

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

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

Too hurried, too worried

Carli Loyd bests a Columbian player

Carli Loyd bests a Columbian playe

The U.S. Women’s National Team doesn’t look like a winning team. To be sure, they’ve got good defense, a good goalie, good passing. But once they get the ball up top, they invariably strike as quickly as possible. It looks as if they are trying to shoot because they’re afraid they’ll lose possession.

This straight-to-goal strategy can catch opponents off guard. But a good offense varies its methods. The quality of the players is such that they should be able to maintain possession in their opponents’ half, probing patiently and waiting for a slip-up to exploit.

Sometimes, I’m too hurried and worried. Sometimes I lose my self-possession. The best strategy in life is to remain calm, not get upset, to manifest the peace of Jesus that comes in the Spirit.

womens team

Celebrating a goal

I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. women lose this World Cup. I hope they manage to win regardless of flawed strategy.

The nice thing about Christianity is that one day you can blow it, and the next you can recover and keep on serving Jesus. Not so much is at stake. One day’s mistake can be rectified. Jesus is teaching us to mature every day. Don’t live life too hurried, too worried. :D

*I don’t own the rights to these photos, and I’m not making any money on them.

Don’t give up today

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

Jesus is my gym partner

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

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

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

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

Look forward and insist on believing in success.

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

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

God changes people

God's power to transform

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

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

Image from Pinterest.

Get involved in something bigger than yourself

Walk to Africa

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

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

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

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

They are following you

dolphinsIs your example worth following?

If you are a human being, you can’t deny that you have influence. As a dad or mom, what kind of example are you giving you kids? At your workplace or in school, what kind of example are you giving to your fellows?

Worth more than $5 million

He's worth more than $5 million.

He’s worth more than $5 million.

I’ve been overly anguished of late because my church, in dire arrears, is selling the property we purchased years ago for our high school, the Lighthouse Christian Academy. The property comprises three buildings and a yard; it has a double-story hall used by the high school, a church and a parsonage. The goal has been to keep the church a church in Santa Monica.

I’m appealing to all my blogging buddies to pray. This comes to a congregational vote May 20. I think we are behind in payments tens of thousands of dollars. We purchased the property for $2 million (something like that), and the sale price is $5 million.

The buyer won’t keep the church. One less church for Santa Monica. And, it seems to me, we are scaling back our commitment to Christian education. The high school will continue by packing the high school kids back in with the grade school and middle school kids at the main church building. We are past the eleventh hour.

She's worth more than $5 million

She’s worth more than $5 million

What disturbs me also is that the secular buyer has a backer with $5 million cash to pay for it. Why do the Christians NOT have someone who can splash the cash to get us caught up with the bank loan and keep this property for God’s use?

I’m breaking my genre here and appealing for prayer and funds. If you know anyone who could donate $1 million (sorry, I don’t know the real numbers because I’m not on the Church Council)  to keeping Christianity moving forward in Santa Monica, please contact me. Should I set up a gofundme account?

If you can give a $1 million, I can introduce you the reasons why you should give that money. There are almost 50 kids at Lighthouse Christian Academy, each of them a miracle of the power of God to transform lives, to rescue lives before they become totally destroyed. We have seen Lighthouse students become pastors and lawyers. We have seen lives be rescued out of gangs and other sins. To this ministry, I have dedicated my life. I teach here for free. My kids attend school here. I believe in this.

I can’t rule out the possibility that God would have something bigger for us in the future. But I also can’t get out of my mind that we’re not supposed to sell this property.

I wish I could give you the backstory behind these photos and tell you why these kids are worth more than $5 million each, but obviously I’m not at liberty to do so. They are stories of heartbreak and hope. You can find out more about Lighthouse Christian Academy by clicking here.

What makes extraordinary? Just a little extra

extraordinaryThe uncelebrated life fascinates me. The common man or woman, if we look hard enough, will show mighty acts of uncommon heroism that never went viral. The photoshopped face, the software-enhance voice of the media darling only proves a person who prostituted himself pursuing fame.

Wish your life could be lifted out of ordinary? Just give a little “extra.”

Photo from chicwithwords.



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.

Saved from the mara salvatrucha

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

Mario, second from left, with the youth he now ministers to.

His fellow gang member thrust a pistol into his hand. Go ahead and kill the kid, he was instructed.

Wedged between the dangerous Mara Salvatrucha and the Dieciocho gangs in a neighborhood where even police feared to go, Mario Ajcip’s gang had successfully fended off rivals to keep their turf in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Guatemala City.

When a rival dared to make incursion into Mario’s neighborhood, there was only one gang-inflicted punishment — death. This time it was Mario´s turn to execute the cornered kid on the dark dirt alley.

Never shy to physically beat up a rival, Mario balked at murder. A leader himself among the 100 gang members, he began talking about teaching the guy a lesson and letting him go. Read the rest of the story.

Because you can

helping others

This man was caught in a photography giving away his sandals. Why did he do it? Because he could. He saw the need. Pic from Random Acts of Kindness on Pinterest.

Why say no?

We have too much rugged individualism in America, too much self-made man myth. When we see someone in need, we divert our eyes. We pretend to talk on the cell phone. We don’t have the time.

I always try to help whoever I find in need. Because people are more important than money. Because people are supreme. Because serving people is serving God. Because love is worth more. Because reciprocity and karma are real.

A former student asked me to help her learn to drive. An elderly Japanese lady, whom I never knew, asked for a ride. I know some people that groceries come in handy for. A friend is on hard times and needs a couch to crash on while she gets back on her feet.

Yes, yes, yes, yes. I can. I have the time. It’s more important than what I’m doing or what I’m trying to achieve.

Many times, the reasons we say “no” when someone asks for help are unjustifiable. It’s just not a part of our culture to help.

from VeryBestQuotes.com

from VeryBestQuotes.com

A big irony for my life came when I went to Guatemala. When my car stalled, and I needed a push to get it started, guys pulled over and jumped out of their car to sweat for me. They never knew me. They didn’t have to know me. They just saw a guy in need, and they could. So they did.

The irony is: Supposedly I went to TEACH the Guatemalans about Christ. But I discovered that I went to LEARN about Christ too.

You know what would happen is you simply helped out your fellow human? No, it wouldn’t drive you into poverty. And maybe you could stand to lose a bit of your “precious time.”

Achieve the sublime

achieve the sublimeFor me, the most inspiring thing about this photo is the dancer is a friend of mine. The leap is dumbfounding and graceful. That it’s a regular guy only makes it more extraordinary for me.

Javier Moya Romero dances with the Los Angeles Ballet and, for a season, attended Lighthouse Church where I go. He even invited me to see him perform La Sylphide last year. I’m not even an initiate for ballet. I went just to show him support. I had to read online about the plot. The only way I realized a particularly spectacular dance move was done was by the applause of the rest of the audience. So I applauded with them.

Out this came an appreciation for a dance form that heretofore was esoteric for me. Ballet is the pinnacle of dance. And it’s amazing what the human body can do with vigorous training, dedication and hard work. It’s downright inspiring.

When Javier flies, so does my imagination. It’s inspiring for us to all strive to attain the heights of beauty and perfection in whatever talent God has given us to bless mankind.

We all need motivation to do and be good

Hester prynne

Mistress Hibbins invites Hester Prynne to witchery in the forest. She refuses but admits that she very nearly would have gone.

Why? First the Puritans forced Hester to wear a red letter A on her dress always as a testimony that she was an adulteress. This public shaming she withstood. But when the somber town fathers threatened to take away her baby, she would have nothing left to live for. Barely was she allowed to keep her child.

Scarlet Flames

Mistress  Hibbins then gives her the satanic invitation. “If they would have taken my child away, I would have not only joined you but I would have signed my name in blood in Satan’s book,” she responded.

The power of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is its knack for portraying poignant psychological realities. If we are deprived of all motivation to do and be good, we will be bad.

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.

On-line missionary faces ALS with hope in Christ

ALS bloggerHis blog is called “Unshakable Hope” – a striking contrast to what one might expect from an ALS patient of 18 years.

By far, Bill Sweeney, 54, has already outlived expectations for a normal patient afflicted with what’s otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a degenerative neural disorder that progresses until patients can’t breathe – usually within 3-5 years of diagnosis.

And though his paralysis keeps him cooped up at home, he never complains on his blog. To the contrary, he chides gently those who do rant – and his buoyant optimism would make anyone ashamed about sniveling over trivial inconveniences.

“One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from this long trial is that hope – and the joy, peace and faith that always accompany Christ-centered hope, only comes through a conscious, determined effort,” he writes on his blog through a painstakingly slow process that employs eye-tracking software to detect letter by letter what he wants to write on his computer.

“I’ve had my hope challenged many times, and I’ve become pretty good at conquering these challenges.” Read the rest of this Christian news article.

Teachers who inspire

inspiring friendsIn 2007, Marcelino de Leon saw kids in the his neighborhood who didn’t sign up for first grade. Illiteracy is high in Guatemala, where people struggle to survive and have a hard time supporting their kids in education.

So Marcelino decided to teach them himself. Every Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 he taught nine kids first grade materials. When the next year came around four of those kids tested into second grade.

Nobody paid him for this. No one applauded. Marcelino didn’t get any awards. A professional teacher, Marcelino just wanted to help where he could. He lost track of those kids when he moved, but we expect them to find him one day and report on their success at college.

Marcelino helped us at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta. As always, it was voluntary, since we were/are strapped for money. We charge most students a minimal fee, and it doesn’t cover expenses.

I was so impressed by his willingness to pitch that I offered to teach him English. Extraordinarily, after I left Guatemala, he continued helping our school.

It’s people like Marcelino who inspire me.  Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds — Heb. 10:24. He came to visit me today. I’m wanting to do more for God.

Get your life back on track

getting life back on track

With my spiritual son, Sam.

It’s no fun spiraling out of control. But it’s an understandable reaction after getting slammed in life.

At some point, you have to analyze and decide to get your life/family/career/ministry back on track.

Samuel was the greatest soul-saver we had. Better than me, and I was his pastor. Incredibly energetic, he worked tirelessly to build a church in zone 5. Then his wife left him for the keyboardist. And his life went down the drain for four years.

Now, Sam is getting back on track. He formalized by marrying the lady he was with. And we will be excited to see what God has for him ahead.

It’s inspiring me to get back on track with what God wants for my life.

This year, get your life back on track. Do what you REALLY want to do.

Life’s a beach, so enjoy

life's a beachChristianity is not a list of rules. It’s a wonderful relationship with your Savior. It’s freedom from sin. The Holy Spirit fills you with peace and joy. If you don’t know the good life, this year you should get to know the Good Savior.

I got this picture from Facebook or Google+. I’m not making any money on it. I don’t own the rights to it.