It had been a frustrating day — criticisms of my efforts to get people saved and discipled. (It seems like the church is full of people who don’t save or disciple others, but they are experts to let others know what they’re doing wrong.)
As I prayed, God reminded me that I’m not working for the critics. I’m working for the kids.
I teach at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and I coach for the middle school soccer team. We took some bruising losses this week, but I love the kids, and they seem to appreciate me. We have fun — all in Jesus’ name.
These are the powerful Saints! We have won only one game. But their enthusiasm, their joy, their love of Jesus, their positive energy makes them powerful in my book (quite a few players missed practice this day)!
A gift received is a gift given. Whatever God has given you as a talent or a special characteristic, you must give to others.
Too many stars and intelligentsia use their talents for themselves. They believe themselves entitled to superior treatment. They fail to recognize that their beauty, voice or ability comes from God. God didn’t give you that gift because He has favorites — not to use it just for your own benefit.
If you are in the church, you must understand that God’s giftings come from God and are owed back to Him. I’m mystified by Christian servants who charge fellow servants for the use of their giftings. We are governed by capitalism more than the Bible. If we hold back on our service to the church, we are not being faithful to God.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms — 1 Peter 4:10.
Posted in Christianity, Christmas, church
Tagged ability, beauty, Faith, giftings, inspriation, intelligence, Jesus, motivation, service, talents, thoughts
When I was head pastor, I romanticized being an anonymous servant. I even prayed to be one.
Then I became pretty much an anonymous member of the church. No more high-flying ministry. Honestly, I didn’t like it too much.
God had to remind that I had prayed to become anonymous. If you’re not on the kudos list here on Earth, don’t despair. Just praise Jesus because you’ll be getting your reward in Heaven.
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.
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?
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. — Hellen Keller
I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it. It was a cool image that I doctored up.
In the world, being served is supreme. In the Lord, serving is supreme.
I am glad to see in today’s news that many are volunteering to be doctors in the Ebola zone. I have not seen in the news that many of these are Christians, risking their lives for service to their Lord.
But even if the service you render is not so “glamorous,” it is still important. Do the job that no one else wants to do at your church. God doesn’t reward the preacher more than the bathroom cleaner. In fact, the one gets the congregation’s applause and thus is at risk from losing his reward. The Bible says, if you so much as give a cup of water to a prophet because he is a prophet, a prophet’s reward you will receive. God is the best accountant for piling up rewards.
But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. — Ex. 32:32.
Hmmmmm. I’m not there yet. Here Moses is taking the hit for Israel’s bad against God. Paul similarly wishes to lose his own salvation if by it he could save his countrymen, the Jews (Ro. 9:3).
I was a missionary for a long time. I sacrificed. I gave. I put others first. I grew and matured, but I never got to this level. I never wished my own eternal damnation if that could save a people. My idea was and is to go to Heaven myself and to take as many with me as possible.
I come up short though. My pastor, Rob Scribner, said Moses and Paul take responsibility for their people. I have prayed like Daniel assuming the collective guilt of my people, but never did I rescind my individual salvation in favor of another. My love for others stops shy of that.
I suppose Moses and Paul both had the notion that they wouldn’t lose their salvation by saying this. They were PLEASING God by aligning their hearts with His; He gave His Son for us to be saved. Still, I can’t get myself to mouth this vow.
Do you feel responsibility for others?
Shoes for Guatemalans
To my young mind, there was no doubt about it. Christmas was all about getting — as much as I could. A funny thing happened, that toy that looked like so much fun on the commercial… well , you know…
Helping One Voice divide up fruits and vegetables into bags for their Christmas baskets.
Something happened in the intervening years. I discovered the joy of giving. Disneyland was fun because it was fun to see my kids have fun. I gave even my life to the mission field — 16 years in Guatemala.
I just sent down a bunch of shoes. Poverty is such that shoes are among the hardest thing to come by for the natives (who work in our school and get paid a pittance because it is semi-self-supporting). My daughter is expert at firing through size, sex and price so that it didn’t become an hours-long ordeal.
My daughter played in the Scrooge drama put on by the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica
Giving is more satisfying that getting. Try it this year. Instead of begrudging the lack of Christmas presents, volunteer at a food distribution center. We helped One Voice in Santa Monica prepare food baskets.
Jenny, at right, with my daughter. She’s so shy that she doesn’t smile in front of the camera.
I just got off the phone with Pastor Ludving in Guatemala. His daughter, Jenny, has some problem with her eyes, but he stopped treating it with the doctor because of lack of money. All donations in December and January through my Donate option (PayPal) will go to her.
Posted in Christmas, Financial Talk
Tagged church, church ministry, donation, giving, God, Grinch, Guatemala, helping others, holidays, Jesus, ministry, Scrooge, service, serving
Friends and church are better than…
We enjoyed life while sustaining much self-denial as missionaries in Guatemala. I worried about IF I would be able to get deodorant. For the kids, a new pair of shoes only once every six months. The menu was beans and rice — and when you got tired of that, you could have rice and beans. It’s really not as bad as you might imagine.
My daughter at right.
There are other things in life that are more important than nice clothes, nice food, nice car. For example, having a loving and fun family is great. Serving a cause, though not applause, is another. True friends, a vibrant church, soccer. Hey, if you have enough to eat, ain’t got no complaints.
With my in-laws, eating out — something we rarely did on the mission field
Of course, we didn’t suffer poverty like the Guatemalans do. But even they seem to enjoy life through it. On the other hand, a lot of rich Americans are plagued by anxiety. Will I have enough when I retire? The Guatemalan doesn’t have enough now. Anxiety is worse than poverty.
This is the richness of my life! I teach these students at Lighthouse Christian Academy.
Don’t be afraid of following your dreams, even if it is not the course of ambition. My family has been back in the States now for two-and-a-half years now, after 16 years in Guatemala. I suppose we could still be classified as “living in poverty.” My wife drives a 99 Ford Escort; I call it our Lexus. Why not make jokes and have fun?
Posted in Financial Talk, inspiration
Tagged Christianity, God, Jesus, Lexus, ministry, missionaries, missions, pastors, poverty, service, serving God, serving humanity, volunteerism
Ender was forcibly denied a normal childhood. He couldn’t play but had to train incessantly. He couldn’t make friends because kids were made into adversaries. His was a lonely road to pre-adolescent general.
His trainers did this because no one else could save the planet from the impending invasion of buggers in sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. Without Ender, the Earth doesn’t stand a chance.
Was it justified to deprive Ender his childhood? As with any classic, author Orson Scott Card leaves the answer up to the reader.
My major motivation in life is to be useful. Personally, this is greater than individual accolades, power or money. The Bible says God will greet us in Heaven with these words: “Well done! Enter into joy!” To serve God and people!
Maybe Mary and Joseph had plans for a happy, quiet life. But they had to give that up, because Mary had to give birth to the Savior of the world. They suffered scorn; she was pregnant before the wedding. They had to live in Egypt for a time. At the end of Jesus’ life, Mary agonized to watch the fruit of her womb die. She was useful to God.
What useful service will you deny to the world just because you want to conserve your life for you?
Posted in Christianity, inspiration, psychology
Tagged books, childhood, children, Enders-Game, God, Heaven, Jesus, Mary, Orson Scott Card, science fiction, service, usefulness
Jean Paul Sartre
Jean Paul Sartre wanted to be remembered fighting for causes of humanity around the world. This is quite ironic because he and his cohorts espoused existentialism, a philosophy which can affirm no other reality other than self-existence and self-affirmation.
Our modern world, without even knowing the profundities of philosophy, has basically adopted the existentialist outlook. But people largely haven’t caught on to helping others. You see, if all you can really know is between your ears, then you can live for yourself, please yourself, serve yourself, because you don’t even know if others exist, much less God.
The Bible is antithetical to all this non-sense. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. — 1 Cor. 10:24 NIV. If you exist, you DON’T exist for yourself but for others.
When I was in high school, my teachers indoctrinated me with existentialist teaching. It troubled me. As a youngster, I still didn’t have depth or perspective to see through the veneer of sophisticated arguments. I’m glad I held on to Jesus through the years.
Not so, many friends. The onslaught of teaching evolution, Marxism, existentialism and the like was the fusillade they didn’t survive. Those authors and teachers pointed students to a “reality” void of any purpose other than self-actualization.
Christianity does many wonderous things for you and to you. But eventually you are to mature and join Christ’s work in helping others. When you get to that point, you will discover the greatest happiness humanity can know: the satisfaction of serving God and people. Stop focusing on your self.
Jump in! (to help others)
… to figure out how good it is to do good!
It’s wonderful and fun to serve self. But many people never discover the greatness of giving.
I believe in Heaven! I look forward to continuing wondrous life
Bro. John Mira wakes up early Sunday mornings to lift up hearts at the “New Beginnings” rehab home in downtown Los Angeles.
in an even better place with loving people having lots of fun. We’ll worship God and have a blast!
It seems some will regret the wastefulness of their lives only too late. We should realize our potential for good now, not later. You have health and energy! Why not spend of your money, of your time, to do some good in the world!?
Poke through the clouds of oppression, into the light!
Give to the needy! Serve in a soup kitchen. Help out in a drug rehab home! Volunteer coach a soccer team. Work in a church. It will infuse you with so much positive energy and zest for life! Stop grousing about how bad is your spouse or house. Stop looking to “get more out of life” and look to give more to life.
Make an impact in our generation!
John F. Kennedy inspired a generation with these words: Ask not what you’re country can give to you. Ask what you can give to your country.
Can we recapture altruism? Or has giving become “all-false-ism?”
Posted in inspiration
Tagged altruism, Christian, emptiness, fulfillment in life, giving, John F Kennedy, love, loving others, service, Soup kitchen, volunteer, volunteering, volunteerism
Students today in the Door Bilingual School
Despite my lack of faith, God has used me. When I dared to become a missionary in Guatemala, my measly faith could foresee no more than 25 people attending church. But God raised up a thriving church that planted churches. A vibrant Christian school was also raised up.
Then gunmen forced me to leave the country. After these robbers stole our money and our information, I realized they would be back for kidnapping. After 16 years, God moved us back to the States. I am currently teaching in a Christian school, praying and blogging — teaching others the secrets of ministry I learned in so many years “in the trenches.”
What’s the secret? God will use you. He’ll make your ministry grow — if you’ll just keep plodding on. I think I’m a plodder. I’m not an overnight sensation. Combine faith with faithfulness, and you get a potent mix! It has been enough to raise up a powerful work in Guatemala.
The great satisfaction of my life is to visit and see smiling kids still serving Jesus.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Christian school Guatemala, Chrstian ministry, church, dare to serve Jesus, Guatemala, inspiration, missionary, missions, satisfaction, serve, service, serving
The Tuskegee fighter pilots were, initially, despised for being black. But as their escort missions saved bomber crews over Germany, they became greatly appreciated. At first, black pilots would be kicked out of officers’ clubs. Soon enough, the white bomber crews invited them to the drinks.
The airmen and their support crews are a lesson in perseverance. They won a hardfought victory, not only to stamp out Nazi oppression, but also to stamp out racist oppression.
Be a hero. You’re in ministry. At times, you are despised, unappreciated, unapplauded. Though no one thanks you, God does. Not a sparrow falls outside of His knowledge. So too, everything you do — EVERYTHING — is being filmed by the camera in the sky. Every time you clean the church bathroom. Every time you pray, and no one else comes to prayer. Every time, you forgo a treat to scrimp on behalf of church finances. It ALL gets a reward.
There were times when the Tuskegee Airmen bristled under official racism. They were tempted to quit. Why put your life on the line when you’re overlooked and even despised? But they remained faithful to their mission. And they wrought a great advance for the cause in World War II and for the cause of equality. Today applause thunders for them, tomorrow for your selfless sacrifice.