Tag Archives: spirit

Jesus cleans

jesus cleans

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

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You must be born again

born againThe butterfly is a symbol of the new birth in Christ. He starts as an ugly worm and gets transformed into the most beautiful and delicate of insects.

Such is the transformation Christ brings when you receive Him into your heart. Jesus says that in order to receive the Kingdom of God, one must undergo this miraculous and instantaneous transformation from unbeliever to believer.

Photo source: Pinterest.

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.”

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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.

Identify yourself as closely as possible with your target audience

Guatemala ministries

All the kids gather for a photo with birthday hats on.

That’s what Jesus did. He didn’t stay aloof but descended from Heaven and took the form of man to earn us salvation.

When you reach out to people, you should become one of them (there are exceptions).

In the photo, I’m with the kids, whom I love, from the church and school in Guatemala that my wife and I started (although really God started it) 20 years ago.

You gain nothing by making yourself superior to others, standoffish, untouchable. People want a tangible and real person to follow, not an image from afar.

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.

Goodbye, for now. Hello soon. (True friendship)

She left our school this year to move to the East Coast with her family. Goodbye.

She left our school this year to move to the East Coast with her family. Goodbye.

You never really say goodbye in Christianity.

One of the hardest things about ministry is when people leave because you love them.

But I’ve hung around long enough to see that Christian friends are true friends. I would venture to say that only Christian friends can be true friends. Because they offer a friendship that doesn’t die out through separation or adversity.

And yes, some friends we won’t see until Heaven.

Guatemala mission

With my longtime friends, Aparicio and Max, at the church we founded 20 years ago. Only in Christ does friendship last.

But on my trip to Guatemala, I’ve been reunited with friends, guys who helped form the church 20 years ago when I was a missionary here. We were great friends, comrades in the war for souls. And we still are great friends.

Name on Coke can? Not as big a deal as your name in the Book of Life

name on CokeWith slacking sales, Coke is churning out gimmicks to get people to buy their chemical and sugar poison. Their latest: put names on the can. It’s an old strategy: Flatter your customer. There’s some kind of thrill of sense of immortality to see your name right along with the most American of soft drinks.

But it isn’t anything. What’s truly worthwhile is to have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. THAT gets you in to Heaven.

Coke just gets you there quicker.

I got a selfie with a bison

bison | Yellowstone National Park

Actually, this is my son in Yellowstone National Park

So you got a selfie with a celebrity?

Chances are that I don’t even know who the guy/girl is.

Why are we so fascinated obsessed with stars who aren’t stars before the eyes of God?

I’m fascinated with God’s creation, not media gods.

Souls are crying

Gautemala mission

My Korean missionary friend at left, my Egyptian Christian friend at right.

I hear their cry, their agony. People need Christ. I’m heading back to Guatemala on a 3-week mission trip to restore and work in the church and school I planted there five years ago (I was there 15 years).

You can help in this project. You can donate by clicking http://www.gofundme.com/MikeToGuatemala. A lot of my blogger friends already have, but I’m still not halfway to the goal. When you give, when you pray for me, you participate in this mission, and you share in the Heavenly rewards.

I’ll be writing soon from Guatemala about all the adventures, challenges and victories. Thank you for supporting me!

Bible knowledge is overrated

Christian love

Though I have … understand all mysteries and all knowledge … and have not love, I am nothing. — 1 Cor 13:2.

I went to seminary. It was mostly very useful. I learned how to solve the majority of the “problem texts.” I learned to how to contextualize. I learned Greek and Hebrew. All important stuff to “rightly divide the word” for preaching and applying.

But the gold standard for Christian leadership is not Bible mastery. It is love. Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up.” In other words, you can sin with pride over your superior knowledge. But the daily grind of living the Christian life consists mostly in exhibiting love.

A lot of Bible knowledge doesn’t help when it come to “loving your enemies.” In fact, loving and forgiving difficult people is one of the toughest challenges for Christians. I may be good a parsing, but I have much to learn at loving.

Keep praying

Just because you don't see anything happening, doesn't mean nothing is happening.

Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

Jesus described the Spirit like a wind, which, in his day, no one knew where it came from or where it was going. So too, we can never know the answers to prayer that are occurring in ways we never imagined, in places we never imagined, to people we never imagined.

If we just keep praying.

Original picture: Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles.

Don’t play the saxophone…

don't play the saxophoneLet it play you.

Jazz Legend Charlie Parker inadvertently resolves a Christian enigma — how to live for God in a world of temptations. No better advice for Christian living can I find.

Trying to force overcoming living doesn’t work. We need the Spirit of God to take over.

Of course, Parker was talking about not breaking under pressure, about relaxing, about achieving unthinkable heights of performance through effortlessness and spontaneity.

And that’s what the Spirit does. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. — Galatians 5:18 NIV.

As far back as Paul’s time, the dilemma of how to live the Christian life boggled thinkers. Debate has raged through two millennia. Proponents of works fought proponents of grace. Churches convulsed, writhed, divided over it.

And I search. The more I try, the more I fail. Where is this effortless, easy Christianity of being led by the Spirit.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord. — Zechariah 4:6

Gone with the wind

The fact that climatologists can now predict and explain wind should not confuse the meaning of John 3:8’s metaphor.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. — John 3:8 NIV

The wind (same word as “Spirit” in Koine Greek) appears inexplicably (to the First Century observer). It is invisible, unannounced, unanticipated. It can be powerful (think of a hurricane). It scatters seed. No where is beyond its reach on the face of the planet. You can’t stop it.

So are our prayers. We cannot guess what God is going to do. We should pray generally and specifically, but we should not boast about knowing what God has up His sleeve. We should believe for huge and impossible things, both close and far. We should not be surprised when the Iron Curtain falls or when the vilest of sinners gets saved. We should know our Lord uses His Spirit and can reach where spy satellites and drones cannot. He can get into people’s minds. Even the devil is blind-sided. That is the nature of the Spirit’s move.

Our prayers should take into account His ability to do anything, anywhere, any time. He’ll do what we least expect, so we should expect it. He’ll move anywhere, so we should pray for nations closed to the gospel. He’ll hit tomorrow, so we should pray today.

Opposition will switch to ally when the Spirit moves. All resistance will be “gone with the wind.”

Breaching enemy lines

Natanz plant

Stuxnet initially breached Iran‘s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz by simply agents dropping an infected thumbdrive in the parking lot. Some knucklehead picked it up, connected it to a work computer, and the virus was in — and it throttled thousands of centrifuges out of commission before and after it was detected.

To avoid cyberwarfare attacks, the plant had been isolated by a “cyber moat” from the Internet. As it turns out, it wasn’t so difficult for CIA agents to leap the moat.

I know how to get behind enemy lines and thwart their plans even better. It’s called prayer. The Spirit, Jesus said, comes and goes without anybody being aware. It is the ultimate stealth weapon. When an outsider report from the 1980s affirmed no visible vestige of Christianity in China, still revival flames were burning, and no one was never able to snuff it out.

The devil suppresses our spiritual warfare when he lulls us into a drowsy contentedness and lotus satisfaction. He hypnotizes us with materialism, success and the good life. We are full and busy pleasing ourselves, so we neglect prayer. Who will win the war? It depends on IF Christians pray.

Hope Solo’s overcoming spirit

 

Goalkeeper Hope Solo knows how to rise above adversity. Her father abandoned the family, went to jail multiple times, lost touch with her for 10 years, and then died before he had a chance to watch her star on the U.S. national team. Never the victim, she’s the most feared goal-stealer inside the box.

In her autobiography, she states: “It’s a complicated thing, knowing how much pain my father caused in my life and the lives of others whom I love, yet still holding love for him in my heart. No matter what he did, he was my father. He helped create the person I am. He just didn’t know how to be a husband or a father or a responsible member of society.”

Focus on the good, let the bad fall by the wayside, and shut out your opponent. Hope is by no means a Christian, but she’s learned some very Christian lessons. Overcoming is the essence of Christianity.