Tag Archives: motivation

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.

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.

Make New Year’s resolutions everyday

new years resolution | gymGyms make their money because New Year’s resolutions tend to flame out quickly. The business model of the gym is to contract for more people than could possibly fit in the building because most of those people won’t continue after February.

I’m not terribly much into New Year’s resolutions because I’m trying to do them everyday. My gym buddy kidded me that I had gotten a jump on the gym resolution. I have renewed workouts for almost the whole year. New Year’s will come and go without too much of a notice from me — plus, I don’t drink so that’s not a draw either.

Christianity may have starts and stops, but it should not have false illusions set on an arbitrary date (Jan. 1). Don’t wait for the beginning to begin!

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.

Manning: a man of faith

peyton manning Christian quarterbackThe most important moment in quarterback Peyton Manning’s life was NOT when he surpassed the NFL record of 509 touchdown passes. It wasn’t any of his league-record five MVPs. It wasn’t his Superbowl championship. And it wasn’t being named player of the decade of the 2000s by Fox News and Sports Illustrated.

The most emotional and dramatic moment of his life came when the Denver Broncos quarterback accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.

“My faith has been number one since I was 13 years old and heard from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in New Orleans a simple question: ‘If you died today, are you one hundred percent sure you’d go to heaven?’” Manning writes in his book “Manning.”

“My heart was pounding,” he writes. “The minister invited those who would like that assurance through Jesus Christ to raise their hands, and I did. Then he invited us to come forward, to take a stand, and my heart really started pounding. And from where we sat, it looked like a mile to the front.

“But I got up and did it. I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been the most important to me ever since.”

To keep reading click here: Christian news

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.

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.

Santa is alive and well

santa claus is alive and wellNicholas gave his money away to help people. The legend is that he anonymously helped young ladies pay their dowry by throwing the money in the window. It fell into socks hanging on the hearth. His good deeds became known, and he was named bishop of Myra in what is now Turkey.

Then he died and went to Heaven, where he is alive and well. Don’t look for him at the South Pole. You’ll only find penguins.

The real gift-giver is Jesus. He’s not bringing a sack of toys. He offers far greater presents: the unpayable ransom of your soul, forgiveness, restoration, blessing, acceptance. Sorry Toys-R-Us, Jesus gives priceless stuff.

The wise men came bringing gifts to Jesus, but Jesus IS the gift to humanity.

No good comes from shaming

shaming

This generation believes — oddly — that humiliation brings reformation.

But Joseph refused to open his — apparently unfaithful — fiance to public scandal. She was found to be pregnant before the wedding, and Joseph knew he wasn’t the father.

Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily –– Matt. 1: 19 KJV. Justice — righteousness — was being considerate and tender with her.

Shaming can be traumatic, emotionally damaging. It is antithetical to God’s plan: He forgives and forgets. His lovingkindness (not severity) is what leads to repentance (Ro. 2:4). We despise the Puritans, and then we practice their worst.

This Christmas give the ultimate gift: forgiveness with forgetfulness. If restoration is your aim, drop the Nazi tactic of shaming.

Season of joy

joy ChristmasWhy is Christmas joyous? Because Christ came to forgive us our sins, to die carrying out own death sentence so that we might be freed from it. The problem of sin, which dogged humanity from the beginning of time, was finally solved.

Picture source: animationguildblog at blogspot

You only live twice

you only live twice

Make this life count for eternity.

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

And is there no God?

girlWell I guess some of us evolved. That’s how we behave pursuing instinctual, animalistic desires with no restraint.

I realize that many personify animals to believe they think like humans, but I don’t think they are capable of admiring beauty, of feeling such deep love, of identifying nobility.

When I look at this picture, a rush of admiration floods my heart: the innocence, the poetic grace, the delight of children playing. Animals are not capable of this because God created man different — with an intellectual and emotional level far superior to animals, levels that make no sense coming out of biological evolution, the crass survival of the fittest that we see in dangerous nature.

But, you become what you believe.

Picture source: The original comes from pinterest. I’m not making any money on it. I don’t own rights to it.

Think on the positive

think positiveThe world and worries will drag you down. Make a concerted effort to focus on anything positive, no matter how small. A spark of light shines brightly if all is darkness. Thinking positive is also a part of faith.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Phil. 4:8

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

Finishing strong

In the video above, my son makes the tying goal in the last minutes of the game against the first place team. It was the last game of the Fall 2014 season. The fact that they could come from behind 0-3 and equal the best team was significant.

It is important as a Christian to finish strong. Too many of my friends have been meteoric, a bright light for Christ that burns out. He who perseveres to the end shall be saved, Christ warns in Matt. 24:13. It’s only a 15-second video.

Even rich people can be saved

easier for a rich manJesus’ warning is so troubling that (rich) commentators have claimed it was a gate in Jerusalem that required a camel to hunch down to make it through. But this explanation originated in the Middle Ages when scholarship wasn’t too good. There is a gate in Jerusalem called “the eye of the needle,” but it was built 1,000 years after Jesus walked the Earth, so He couldn’t have been referring to it.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. — Matt 19: 24.

But really the eye of the needle is just that: an eye of a needle. It turns out that Jesus loved hyperbole — a rhetorical device of extreme exaggeration to highlight the importance of the saying.

So what is Jesus saying? First, riches can make it very hard for you to make it to Heaven. Second, if rich people are particularly difficult to get saved, God can save even them.

With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. — Matt. 19:26.

So the stern warning is also a herald of how wonderful Christmas is, how wonderful salvation is. The rich king (wise men) came to see Baby Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Christian identity

Christian Identity

Original image from Google Circle. I don’t own the rights nor am I am making any money on it.

I get hung up too much on me. That is a ghastly confession.

Why? Because I should not be so important. I am a CHRISTian, and Christ is my identity. I must represent Him.

Of course, I want comfort. But Jesus is principally interested in souls, in getting others to Heaven, into relationship with him.

It’s not me that matters. Only Christ matters. Let the light shine.

Have an honest moment with Jesus

honest moments with JesusWe affect behavior in front of others and worry too much what others think about us. When have we taken a moment to be honest alone with Jesus? Drop the appearances, be yourself, ask for help.

Do you have time for Jesus in your life? Can you set aside the internet, the news, the funny videos? Read your Bible and pray a bit? Don’t be surprised if He responds.

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.

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.

I’d rather live a sermon than hear one

The End of The Day

Pic from http://www.michaelandersongallery.com I don’t own the rights to this photo, nor am I making any money on it.

There are Christians who love to hear sermon after sermon after sermon. Is this Christian entertainment? Do they ever have the chance to put into practice what they hear?

The purpose is the sermon is to affect actions; church is about change. There are things we should DO and things we should NOT DO. Christians must ACT in this world. Faith without works is dead. — James 2:20. If never translated into action, what good is it? It’s like the super obese. Food is good, but it’s purpose is to give us energy to DO. Too much food is unhealthy.

Rejoice always

rejoiceRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! — Phil 4:4 NIV.

Faith: Being relentless

relentlessNot giving up is faith.

But what’s even harder is to lose self

losing youself

I’m not talking about “losing yourself” in love. That’s easy.

I’m talking about getting rid of self-importance, putting others first, giving of yourself and not minding if no one takes note. Yeah, not standing up for your rights.

Perhaps this is the hardest. Satan’s temptation to Eve and Adam was to put themselves first: God was being a killjoy not letting them “become like Him knowing good and evil.” Wow, that’s alluring, to be like God!

Don’t degrade the human race’s father and mother though. We all do it every day.

LOL! This picture is so funny. Thanks: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Sanitaryum/posts “I wish I could lose weight as easily as I lose my keys, my pen, my cell phone, my temper and even my mind.” That’s a good laugh.

But it’s sobering to think about losing self. Help me, Jesus.

Gratitude

gratitude

Pic from gratitude-alittlegoesalongway.blogspot.com. I don’t own the rights to this image, nor am I making any money on it.

No sooner was the cupbearer freed from jail than he forgot his promise to help Joseph, who had interpreted his dream. Joseph had been imprisoned under false accusation. God was with nevertheless, even though the cupbearer forgot his debt for Joseph’s interpretation of the dream that Pharaoh would free him.

TWO YEARS LATER, Pharaoh has a dream that none of his sorcerers can interpret. Only then does the cupbearer remember his faults and tells Pharaoh about Joseph, who is promptly freed, washed, shaved and ushered into Pharaoh’s presence. He interprets Pharaoh’s dream, and his fortunes are changed.

Sadly, most of us fall in with the cupbearer. God has given us so many good things, and we don’t want to remember or acknowledge our debt of gratitude to Him.

Pain: when I think on my circumstances

Pain: when I think on my circumstancesJoy: when I think of others’ blessings.

I get discouraged by my own circumstances.

But when I think about other rising disciples in the church, I rejoice to see God blessing and using them.

Lesson learned: think about others.

Far gone?

far gone

image thanks to http://www.fanpop.com

Hope your family. Chance to get married. Dismal finances. Failing health. Forgiveness.

You may feel its too far gone. Happy days or wonderful dreams now seem other-worldly.

Such was the case of Jacob. His favorite son, Joseph, disappeared years ago, apparently victim to a savage animal. His other sons brought him proof of the horrid incident: a bloodied garment.

FOURTEEN YEARS later, Joseph surfaces in Egypt. He never was killed. He was sold in slavery. He’s been promoted to prime minister of Egypt. Jacob simply can’t believe his ears. He gave up hope so long ago and resigned himself to bitterness that now he dares not believe the report.

God has a way of bringing back to you impossibly lost days and dreams. That’s why you need to keep believing.

Asking God for too little

asklittlegetmuchHe asked for a handout. Peter gave him a healing.

Expecting to get some money, the crippled temple beggar directed his attention to Peter and John. Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk, Peter said in Acts 3:6 NIV.

He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God — Acts 3:8 NIV.

He got MUCH more from God than he expected.

Why do we downsize our prayers? Why down scale down our faith?

God is NOT:

  • offended if we ask big.
  • unable to give.
  • displeased by too much faith.
  • upset by our audacity.
  • budgeting his company.
  • on a diet Himself.
  • scrimping to make ends meet.
  • requiring coupons.

To the contrary, we are ordered to move mountains, not molehills.

Make the finish line

make the finish lineThe Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon.

The marathon — 26 miles — is divided into two parts: 1) the first 25 miles, then 2) the last mile.

Forget about who’s first. Just finish the rest. Too many Christians burn out, get confused, get bitter or otherwise fall out of their orbit.

He who persevere to the end shall be saved. — Matt. 24:13.

Prayer to Prevail

pray prevail

To prevail, pray.

Prepare to prevail

prepare prevail

There’s no monkeying around. If you want to win, you have to work at it. No matter what you do. Don’t practice until you can do something. Practice until you cannot fail at something.

Hurt or be hurt


When three years ago, Ricky Rand got his shoulder dislocated and was writing on the ground in pain, I thought it would play into my hand. I was doing everything I could to dissuade Rob, my son, from playing football. After all, he’s a soccer player. Our small Christian school would just have to do without him. But Rob wanted to play.

As we walked back to the car, I leaned over to my son, then in the 8th grade, and asked if he still wanted to play, after seeing the upperclassman in excruciating pain.

“Yes. I’m going to do that to the other team.”

Rob won our standoff. I struck a deal with him. I would not sign the medical release form unless he worked out as hard as he could all summer long. I had the vague notion that muscle keeps bones and joints together.

Today Rob is a junior. In last night’s victory against La Verne Calvary Baptist, my son scored six touchdowns. While other kids played videogames, he ran. While other kids watched T.V., he pumped iron.

There is a principle here. Prepare, prepare, prepare if you want to prevail.

If you don’t want to be hurt by the devil, you have to hurt him.

Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica is happy I lost to Rob. And I’m proud of him.

Put to use your resources today

resources for GodThey received a stern command. They were NOT to store manna for the next day. Nevertheless, some Israelites disobeyed, and the delightful food provided by God on one day was completely filled with maggots the next.

Herein lies a great Biblical truth. God has given you resources — money, talent, time, energy. Use it for God today. Don’t hold over for tomorrow because you might not get the chance. It might rot.

Too many Christians plan to give to God at some future date, whether their service or their offerings. Stop putting it off. Do it today. The suffering masses of humanity need to be reached today with the Good News. The need is not going to be more acute or chronic tomorrow (it will if you don’t give today what God has called you to give).

Smile despite the trial

smile trialWhen we praise God through difficulties, we get the victory.

Greatness in the seed

seed apple treeHow does something so small as an apple seed produce something so big as the tree that produces sweet fruit that nourishes and delights?

Never despise the small beginnings of a seed. Do small things today towards a great result.

The road behind is better than the road ahead

blessings behindWe are taught to never look back, but sometimes we NEED to look back.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life — Psalm 23:6 NIV. There are times when all we see ahead are difficulties and trials. We forget how God has blessed us in the past.

Take a look in your rear view mirror. You’ll be surprised how God has changed the landscape.

Shame for the Name

shameThey departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. — Acts 5:41 KJV

Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.

Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.

Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.

Our band in the newspaper

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The copy of Nuestro Diario Sept. 16 page 4 featuring the band of the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.

The Guatemalan school my family and I started got into the newspaper today for its courage marching through drenching rain. Their courage, sacrifice and service to Christ is an example to us First World Christians who find all the reasons to NOT soldier through. And they make me proud. I see that 16 years of labor on the mission field was not in vain but left hardcore disciples.

The Liceo Bilingue La Puerta‘s marching band competed and won a spot in the national Independence Day parade (Sept. 15 for Guatemala). And they marched on despite rain that got them wet to the bones.

Showing off

showing offIn our through-the-Bible survey of sin, we come to the very interesting case of King Hezekiah, who simply showed off his riches.

Immediately after flaunting his treasures, the Prophet Isaiah came to him with an ominous message: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. — 2 Kings 20:17 NIV.

When I was a missionary in Guatemala, no one would ever flash their riches. If they did, criminals would strike.

We humans show off our cars, beauty, muscles, figure, clothes, watches, fans, likes, basketball skills, manliness… What do we NOT show off? Christians even show off their righteousness in the church.

It’s pride rubbish.

While showing off might bring you a perverse joy of provoking others to envy, it can bring no real good. It corrupts our heart.

We should accept people and love people. We should never be boastful in our actions.

Recklessness

recklessness

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

Ultimately, the chosen became the rejected. Saul was too rash, too unthinking, too disposed to decisions based on convenience, not correctness. Thus the king lost his kingdom.

When commanded by God to destroy all the riches of the Amalekites, Saul let himself be swayed by the people’s cravings for plunder.

When he was supposed to wait for Samuel to offer sacrifice, Saul unwisely performed priestly duties that didn’t correspond to him.

God revoked Saul’s kingship and gave it to David.

When you are young and immortal (tongue in cheek), you are prone to imprudence. As you grow older, (hopefully) you grow wiser. It’s a good thing to grow out of — if you live through the stupid stunt stage.

Inertia

inertiaThey were tired. So they didn’t finish conquering the Promised Land.

The new dominant force was content to allow a vestige of Canaanite population, now subjugated, in Israel. Some would call it humanitarian compassion.

Others would call it laziness.

Whatever you call it, the unconquered idolaters were the bane of Israel. Centuries later, both Israel and Judah were carried off to exile because Joshua’s generation was unwilling to fully carry out God’s plan.

Once you make a decision, then you face the toughest job of all: actually doing it.

Just look at gym memberships. The success of the gym business model depends on people NOT coming. If all who paid fees, the gym would be overrun with clients. The fact that your membership costs are low depends on nine others not coming.

Good intentions must lead to action. It is not enough to think.

Whether it’s getting your career on track or your spiritual life, your worst foe is not the economy or the devil. It is inertia.

Break out status quo today.

Here you can read about the other sins of this series: greed, stubbornnesscomplaining, deceit, despising, cowardice, unbelief jealousy, pride. Even if you’re not a Christian, you’ll be inspired to be a better person.

 

Stubbornness

stubbornness

They crossed the line. One too many times, the Israelites provoked God. After He showed them His goodness by giving them food and water and delivering them powerfully from the Egyptians, they accused Him of being bad. They complained that it would have been better to die wandering in the desert than die by the sword taking possession of the Promised Land.

So God let that be a self-fulfilled prophecy. A generation died in the desert. Forty years later, the next generation of Israelites rose up and possessed the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership.

That generation was too accustomed to a mouth that constantly b-tch-d — mmm, complained bitterly.

If you dig in your heels and insist on sinning, the consequences could be grave.

Complaining

complaining

The Israelites were five-star complainers. God freed them from 400 years of slavery. He brought them through the Red Sea. He gave them the gold of the Egyptians.

For nothing were they grateful. They b–ched about too hot, too cold, hungry, don’t like this, thirsty, etc., etc., etc. And they kept saying the unthinkable: It would have been better for us to stay in Egypt.

REALLY??? Remaining under heavy oppression is better than freedom?

Complaining is poison to your marriage, poison to your family, poison to your church, poison to your life. It steals your joy. It derives from a sick sense of entitlement (“I deserve better.”) Why do we think we deserve better?

Can we just enjoy what we have?