Source: Be proud of…
I can’t comprehend why we’re not all friends at church, but some people are more concerned about clambering up — what in their mind — the dogpile. They think they have to step on others.
Not me. I just want to enjoy friendship. And I wish everybody were a friend.
This side of eternity, friendship is the greatest thing. It is one of the loves (marital and family is another). Friendship occurs when you appreciate each other and share meaningful moments (they can be goofiness or enjoying watching a sport together or working together in a common cause).
The king of the dogpile is the ultimate loser for me. He thinks he’s got everybody’s respect. Maybe what he has is everybody’s fear. I’m afraid of him. Perfect love casts out all fear. I’m far from perfect yet.
Sinking, sinking, sinking. You realized with horror that the mud would fill your lungs and suffocate you. There was no bottom to the sludge.
Then God pulled you out. He rescued you. There was nothing you could do to rescue yourself. Only be rescued.
Cry out to God in the day of trouble. No, you don’t deserve to die. He loves you and wants to pull you up into Heaven with Him.
His “Don’t Stop Believing” became an anthem for a generation, and now it looks like Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain has put it into practice because he has revived his childhood passion for Jesus.
Cain felt like early love for God got snuffed out when he prayed fruitlessly for the Almighty to spare the lives of 92 kids trapped upstairs by a fire at a Catholic school in Chicago where he was a third grader. Three nuns also died in the 1958 blaze.
“I was praying to Jesus hard that afternoon, ‘Please, let these children out,’ you know, and it wasn’t to be and they got trapped upstairs and 100 of them perished.’” Cain told The Blaze. “So I was a little disillusioned. How could Jesus let that happen?”
Cain’s dad tried to help his son overcome the grief and despair by encouraging him towards his natural gifting for music. Cain abandoned his original desire to become a priest and began to pursue the dream of becoming a musician.
He learned the accordion, guitar, bass and harmonica. He moved to Nashville and then to Los Angeles. He was part of The Babies in 1979 but skyrocketed to stardom the next year when he became the keyboardist for Journey. His composition for “Don’t Stop Believing” wowed fans and critics everywhere. Allmusic called it “one of the best opening keyboard riffs in rock.” He went to pen the classic ballad “Faithfully.”
He played for Bad English, released 11 solo albums and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame April 7th of this year for his work with Journey.
Married to Evangelist Paula White in April 2015.
But while accolades and money flooded in, he was empty on the inside.
Cain remembers accepting Jesus as a teen at a Baptist church in Chicago. “I had a breakthrough when a pastor laid hands on me on an altar call,” he told the Christian Post. “I wept that evening and realized how numb I had become with God and how He was calling to me for restoration.”
He raised his three kids going to a Lutheran Church where he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, but his commitment to Christ was irregular: “I felt my faith was on again off again.”
One day, Journey lead singer Steve Perry brought a Bible into the studio in 1996 as they worked on the album “Trial by Fire.” It piqued Cain’s curiosity and stirred him to explore renewing his relationship with Jesus.
But it wasn’t until he met televangelist Paula White on a Southwest Airlines flight that Cain worked up the gumption to go “all-in” for God. By then he had divorced twice.
“I wanted to become a true follower of Christ — not just a part-time Christian,” Cain recalled.
As he sat across the aisle from her, Cain opened up to White — who had already mentored other celebrities in the things of God.
“And I said, ‘Is it possible that that little boy could find the Jesus that he knew. Is it possible that I can feel that?’” he said. “And she said, ‘The Lord has something for you.’” Read the rest about Jonathan Cain Christian.
Celebrated actress and comedian Sherri Shepherd found herself trapped in Jehovah’s Witnesses, but overcame her fears, fled the aberrant group, and discovered a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Because I had been a Jehovah’s Witness so long, that was all I knew,” she told BeliefNet. “And as a Jehovah’s Witness I learned that all the other religions were false and that they were from Satan. So when I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses I really thought I was going to die and that I was going to go to hell.”
She did indeed “go through hell,” but she was willing to face poverty and hardship to break with the group after their leaders prohibited her from talking with her father.
“Now my dad at that time was working three jobs because we had moved to the suburbs because he wanted a better life for us,” she said. “So it was very expensive where we lived and he was working three jobs to support us. I was like you’ve got to be kidding me, tell my daddy I can’t talk to him and he is working at Denny’s?
“As the oldest I was a daddy’s girl and loved him with all my heart. My daddy had holes in his shoes so that he could pay for my photography classes. I just kept thinking you can’t be serious and all I could think of was the Scripture that references love (1 Corinthians 13:13) and says the greatest of these is love. I was like where is the love in that?”
Before Shepherd became a notable actress, she passed through a series of misfortunes. In 1993 her mom was dying. Shepherd was evicted on several occasions. Her car was repossessed. Her boyfriend began stalking her and later went to jail. Shepherd herself went to jail for a week due to unpaid traffic violations. Even though she won plaudits for her stand-up comedy, she couldn’t pay her bills.
“I felt like I was going to die. All this stuff was happening to me because I didn’t have God,” said the vivacious star. “I wasn’t going to church. I just felt like it was so evil from my upbringing. Why am I going to go to a church that was from the devil?”
Her life changed one day when she went to West Angeles Church of God in Christ, one of the largest mega churches in Los Angeles. “I used to pass it all the time on the bus. So on that day, I was feeling so miserable. I really felt like I had no other place to turn so I was like let me just try it,” she said. “When I stepped into that church and that was an immediate sense of peace came over me.”
The peace helped her quickly overcome years of ingrained fear that everything outside of Jehovah’s Witness was of the devil. But as she became a regular attender, Bishop Blake, who preaches at the church, helped her make steps toward Christ.
“One day he said, ‘Would you like to come up and accept Christ?'” she remembered. Read the rest of the story about Sherri Shepherd Christian.
Selena Gomez surprised more than a few when she took the stage of a Hillsong Young & Free concert to sing praise and worship Feb. 25th last year.
It seems the baby-faced pop star has revitalized her relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I’m a Christian,” the 24-year-old said unabashedly in a YouTube interview.
Selena, whose Instagram account has 117 million followers, has prepared for concerts by listening to Hillsong and by gathering with her team for prayer, as a recent Entertainment Tonight video revealed. She has voiced admiration for Brooke Fraser.
Selena was born to teenage parents in Texas and suffered emotionally as a child. She blamed her mom for her parents’ separation when she was a five-years-old. Without dad, the family struggled financially. They scrounged up quarters to put gas in the car and frequently fed on spaghetti from the Dollar Store.
“I was frustrated that my parents weren’t together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me,” she said, according to Wikipedia. “My mom was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. She gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me, sacrificed her life for me.”
She got her start in acting with a childhood role as Gianna on Barney and Friends. Later, she landed the starring role of Alex Russo on the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place from 2007-12. She was following in the footsteps of fellow Disney stars Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, who kept squeaky clean images as Disney teens only to rampage with drugs and sex when they branched out of their own.
Selena seemed to be falling into the post-Disney depravity. She cultivated a sultry songstress image and ran with the Hollywood A-listers, including BFF Taylor Swift. Song after song topped charts, and she became the girlfriend of drug-troubled Justin Bieber for a year, only to stumble through another year of on-and-off-again rumors.
But then she started suffering from lupus, with depression and anxiety compounding her malaise, and she canceled the rest of her Revival Tour in 2016 to enroll in a rehab program. She wasn’t fighting drugs, she maintained. She said she just needed help to get a grip on her emotions. Selena eschewed the typical Hollywood luxury rehabs and instead chose a Christian-run facility. Read the rest of the article about Selena Gomez Christian.
The way the secular media reported it, Madalyn Murray O’Hair – the famous atheist who got Bible reading kicked out of public schools – was a national hero after the Supreme Court ruled in her favor in 1963.
A year earlier, the Supreme Court prohibited government-sponsored prayer in schools. After O’Hair won her case, a 1964 Life magazine profile referred to her as “the most hated woman in America.”
But secularists went so far as to say the historic ruling placed the U.S. on the vanguard of a new morality with the “triumph of rationalism over superstition.”
Because she spouted a liberal agenda, reporters were willing to overlook murmurings about psychological abuse towards her children and her employees at the American Atheists organization.
When rumors surfaced of her skimming tens of thousands of dollars from her non-profit, investigative journalists turned their attention elsewhere. The latest gloss on the Madalyn mystique was applied last month in a Netflix movie which portrayed her as a doting mother and dedicated civil rights activist, her eldest son said.
William Murray III knew the real Madalyn, the churl who bullied her children and bragged to them when they were very young about watching X-rated movies. She was an ardent feminist who resented men, Bill says.
“One of her favorite stories — I’ve heard her repeat it many times — is that when I was born and the doctor told her, ‘It’s a boy,’ she asked him if there wasn’t some way he could put it back,” Bill told People magazine.
She bit him, smashed his model airplane to pieces in a fit of rage, and ridiculed his attempts to play baseball. She kept a liquor closet full and the refrigerator stocked with fattening, unhealthy foods. She extolled the virtues of sexual liberty and wrote for Hustler magazine. She even tried to defect to the Soviet Union with her entire family and supported communist causes, Bill says.
As a middle school child in Baltimore, Bill became an unwitting pawn in her 1963 Supreme Court battle against school prayer. Madalyn sued the school district and rode a movement to strike down prayer and Bible reading.
With a petulant eloquence, she tirelessly voiced the acrimonious atheism, and the media lapped up pretty much everything she served. “We find the Bible to be nauseating, historically inaccurate and replete with the ravings of madmen,” she said. “We find God to be sadistic, brutal and a representation of hatred.”
Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and Phil Donahue all hosted her on their evening TV programs. Madalyn reveled in the attention. Every misfit in the country wrote her letters of praise that included generous checks of her non-profit, American Atheists, Bill says.
“My mother was an evil person, not for removing prayer from America’s schools, no, she was just evil,” Bill wrote online in 2011. “She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents’ inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations.”
While Madalyn busied herself with “rhetoric, newsletters, fund-raising and publicity,” Bill grew increasingly disaffected. He eloped and divorced, was drafted in the military and worked for an airline. He left his daughter Robin under the care of his mother. His second marriage was unraveling and he had run-ins with the police.
While he drifted through struggles and failures, he began to harbor doubts about the atheist manifesto. Why was his mother spending the non-profit’s money on a new Cadillac and mobile home? Why would she sue to keep NASA from airing Astronaut Buzz Aldrin taking communion on the moon? Why not instead spend on new X-ray machine for a hospital? If atheism was the savior of modernity, why did it focus mostly on the antagonistic roll of shutting down others? Why not do something in favor of humanity?
“I started to think it was because my mother was basically negative and destructive,” he said.
Bill turned increasingly to alcohol to quash his anxieties and misgivings.
Once when police arrived after he had a dispute with his wife, he accidentally fired a rifle through the door. Bill was charged with aggravated assault and sentenced to five years probation.
It was, perhaps, the nadir of his life.
The incident served as wake up call. Read the rest about Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s Christian son.
This is the story of how God inspired a lowly janitor at the Frito-Lay factory in Rancho Cucamonga to create “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,” propelling his rise to the top of the executive ranks.
Richard Montañez grew up in a farm labor camp picking grapes in California. He grew up with his family crammed into a one-room shanty lacking basic indoor plumbing — the communal bathroom was outside. They couldn’t buy luxuries and sometimes went to bed hungry. His was a life of food stamps, welfare and even times of homelessness.
Without any education, he salivated for the opportunity to work at the local Frito-Lay factory scrubbing floors. When he got the job, his father and grandfather sat him down and exhorted him to execute it with excellence.
“When you mop that floor, you let people know that a Montanez mopped it,” Montañez told WKNO television station. “In my heart, I was going to be the best janitor that Frito-Lay ever had. I saw that I had an influence because they would walk into the break room and it would smell fresh and they would smile.”
Then someone shared the gospel with him and his wife, Judy.
“I never felt like I belonged. I always felt like I was an outsider, like second-class citizens,” he told the Faith with Flavor program. “Then somebody started telling us about Jesus Christ. I wanted that so bad. We were never going to be picked for anything. Why would God take the time to deal with somebody like me when nobody else would? We figured we’d give God a chance. He was doing things for me before I could do anything for Him.”
He started reading the Bible and learning from his pastor, from mature church members and from mentors.
“I started going to church. It’s so full of wisdom,” he said. “If you read the Bible, it will educate you.”
Then one day at work, the president gave a lecture about empowerment. He told all the employees to think and act like they were the president. This was the message Montañez longed to hear. He looked around at his co-workers and was surprised that they didn’t seem to care much for the inspirational speech.
Montañez was praying one day for an idea, a vision that would help him break out of poverty. He took his small son to eat elotes, corn on the cob that Latinos cover with chili, cheese, lemon and other condiments. As he munched on the chili-coated elote, he thought of the puffed-corn snacks that his factory coated with powdered cheese.
Long before her political activism and Oscar-winning acting, Jane Fonda felt she was being pulled toward God.
“I had begun to feel I was being led. I felt a presence, a reverence humming within me. It was and is difficult to articulate,” Fonda says on her website. “Today I think I know what was happening: I was becoming embodied, whole. I had spent 60 years dis-embodied, trying to be perfect so I could be loved. You can’t be whole if you’re trying to be perfect.”
If she was drawing close to God, there were also psychological forces inside her heart that would flout the mainstream. She was, after all, “Hanoi Jane,” a starlet who risked her career by touring North Vietnam to denounce the “atrocities of the Vietnam war against the peace-loving communists.” She even posed for a picture seated on top of an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down her fellow Americans, enraging many in the U.S.
Born “Jayne Seymour Fonda” to actor Henry Fonda in New York City in 1937, Fonda got her start with a Broadway debut in 1960 in the play There was a Little Girl, for which she received a Tony nomination. She hit fame in the ’60s with the films Period of Adjustment, Sunday in New York, and Cat Ballou, among others.
Ulimately, she won two Academy Awards, two Oscars for best actress and two BAFTA Awards. She cycled through marraiges: director Roger Vadim (1965-73), leftist politician Tom Hayden (1973-90) and media mogul Ted Turner (1991-2001).
Fonda quickly gained notoriety as a rabble rouser, throwing herself into the midst of the 60s counterculture, with her opposition to the Vietnam war, support for the Black Panthers and backing of Native American causes. She became a strong voice for feminist concerns, and in 2005, she co-founded with Gloria Steinem the Women’s Media Center to advocate equal rights for women.
Aside from her work on the The China Syndrome and On Golden Pond, Fonda is also known for her workout videos, which were #1 hits and helped boost the fitness craze among baby boomers.
But while she won accolades and enjoyed the trappings of success, Fonda found true happiness elusive. The actress said that coincidences are what led her to where she is today, and are what created that feeling of always being led by something greater than herself.
Author Abalo Kossi quotes Fonda in the book In Lumine Tuo: Why Believe in God? “What happened to me was, and I remember exactly where I was on the day: I mean, I was really in pain, and I said out loud – I was by myself: ‘If God wants me to suffer like this, there must be a reason.’
“I did a double take. I thought, ‘Where is that coming from?’ And from that time forward, I became aware of, I call them coincidences. I just became very aware that the absolute right person would come into my life at the moment that I needed to know something. The exact right book would come into my hands. Oftentimes by people I didn’t know. They were like sign posts! And I thought, ‘Has this been going on all along and I just didn’t notice?’
“And along about that time, I heard Bill Moyers say, ‘Coincidences are God’s way of manifesting,’ and that lodged in me. That just really struck me and about that same time, I met Ted Turner and moved to Georgia, Atlanta.”
She had divorced leftist Tom Hayden in 1990, and the following year married
Turner, the founder of CNN. It shocked many when she married the swashbuckling entrepreneur, who often acted crudely and was known as “the Mouth of the South.” He was known to verbally attack Christians and once said, “Christianity is a religion for losers.”
But living in the South with Turner, she encountered many believers. “Now, I had never lived in an environment where people went to church regularly and had a living faith. And I was, utterly fascinated because they were smart people, President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, and Ambassador Andrew Young and many others who were friends with Ted and people of deep faith. And I was married to Ted, a professed atheist, for ten years and for eight of those years, I spent a lot of time listening and talking and asking questions of these people.”
The actress said the connections she made with these people contributed to that constant feeling of being led. “It was a somatic feeling that I was being beckoned, and I often felt that there was a light drawing me. And I’m not a woo-woo kind of person! I’m not a New Age person. I grew up in the fifties. But it was a very powerful feeling.” She said. “I felt my emptiness being filled up with reverence.”
Several Christian friends in Atlanta were among those involved in Fonda’s journey toward Christ. These are said to include Ginny Millner, wife of Georgia Republican leader Guy Millner, and Nancy McGuirk, whose husband is an executive in Turner Broadcasting, according to the Washington Times.
But the key figure in Jane Fonda’s spiritual search was her black chauffeur. When Ted Turner became upset when she started attending Atlanta’s fashionable Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Fonda asked her driver if he could recommend a church.
The chauffeur invited her to attend his place of worship, the predominantly black Providence Missionary Baptist Church. In 2000, she began attending the church and earnestly studying the Bible. During this time she read the book of John, which she said left her experiencing grace.
When the Hollywood-shattering news broke that she was “born-again,” it was touted as another “Paul of Tarsus conversion.”
But if Paul defined orthodoxy, Fonda defied it. Find out why?
It wasn’t the car that slammed into his motorcycle at 100 mph. It was a round of golf that brought L.A. rock legend Frank Sontag to Christ.
After he was sent spinning across the highway, Sontag holed himself up in a Tahoe cabin and lived primitively off rudimentary supplies while he poured over Eastern mystic texts in search of the meaning of life. It took years to physically recover from the accident. But he emerged a New Age guru.
“I read the Koran, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita,” he said in an interview with Greg Laurie. “I never would open a Bible.”
For two decades, Sontag interviewed the “royalty of rock” on classic rock station KLOS. He broadcast music and announced sports events. He was part of #1-rated Mark & Brian show, which would mix Aerosmith with humorist rants and raucous call-ins.
On his own highly-rated, thought-provoking program called Impact, Sontag peddled a self-styled “spirituality” that encouraged people to get in touch with their inner selves, discover their purpose in the universe and feel good about themselves. No repentance needed.
“When somebody would call up and try to share the gospel, I couldn’t hang up on them fast enough,” he said. He would shout down and shut down Christians.
Once #1 in LA, Mark and Brian.
Then one of his closest New Age buds got saved. Three years later, the friend and his pastor brother invited Sontag to golf. Sontag was taking his fairway shot when the pastor fired at him: “Frank, is Jesus Christ the Son of God?”
“We’re not going there,” Frank retorted and knocked the ball towards the green.
A few holes later, Sontag was putting when the pastor asked another pointed question: “Frank, who’s God?”
Miffed, Sontag brushed the question off with, “I’m spiritual.”
After nine holes, the threesome decided to have lunch, and that pastor swung a final shot: “If you were to die today, would you be with God?”
Sontag snorted in disgust.
But something inside told him he should consider the question more. Challenged by the pastor, he sat in his car afterwards and asked God to prove Himself. Immediately, he felt strangely hot.
Then a voice said: “Are you ready to submit to Me?”
“It was unmistakable. Call it ‘because He created me I knew His voice.’ I knew Who He was. I felt no coercion,” he said. “And I freely said, ‘yes.’”
Later the voice said: “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
Sontag had never read the Bible. He didn’t have any way to recognize Scripture.
It wasn’t until nine months later that he stumbled across the same phrase – this time in the Bible. Right there, he prostrated himself before God and prayed: “Lord, I’m yours forever.” It was 2009.
By Hasset Anteneh
Taking the role of D.J. Tanner on the mega hit Full House TV series in 1987 set the stage for a successful acting and writing career for Candace Cameron-Bure.
She’s not shy to talk about her faith, just like her brother, Kirk Cameron, who went from child star to evangelist.
“My faith is my basis of who I am. Not only does it affect the choices I make career-wise, but it also affects the things that I want to do,” Bure told The Blaze. She is married to former Russian NHL hockey player Valeri Bore with whom she’s had three children.
Bure said her family had never discussed religion, until they were invited to church by a friend, and started actively attending church when she was 12.
“When I was growing up, my family wasn’t Christian,” she said on her website. “We didn’t talk about God and I didn’t know anything about him. When I was 12 years old, my parents told us we were going to church; a friend had invited us. It was strange to me, and I giggled at the thought of God. But as we continued to go every Sunday, my heart felt warm, and I saw how happy my mom, brother and sister were. I decided that I wanted to feel the same way. It was Jesus Christ that was producing this change in them, so one Sunday morning, I asked Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior. I was baptized along with some of my family at a later service. I was extremely excited about what I thought was my new Christian life.”
However, it wasn’t until her 20s that the word of God began to truly resonate with her. Her brother, Growing Pains actor Kirk, gave her a book, Ray Comfort’s The Way of the Master, and it was then, she said, that Christianity truly began to make sense.
“After reading a book my brother gave to me, now called The Way of the Master it changed my walk with God forever! It talked about the 10 commandments, and showed me my sin in it’s true light. You see, when I prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ that day in church when I was 12, I asked God to forgive my sins. But I didn’t even know what my sin was. But, the law showed me my sin.
“As I went through every commandment, I saw that I’d broken all of them. Then I learned that God was going to judge me by this standard, not the world’s standard. So, while I thought I was a good person compared to other people, I saw that I was a horribly bad person by God’s standard. It was then that I truly recognized and understood my sin and what Jesus did for me. I broke the Law, and Jesus paid my fine,” the actress said.
To read the rest about Candace Cameron Christian click here.
Hasset Anteneh is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy on the westside of Los Angeles.
Ivan Arango never liked the party because, as he repeated, they always ended with fights, hatred and vows of revenge. But his close friend, Antonio, prevailed on him to go to his high school graduation’s celebration in Guatemala – in the cantina.
Sure enough, a fight broke out over some stolen beers, and Ivan and Antonio found themselves fleeing a death squad in the City of Quetzaltenango in the Western side of Guatemala.
Formed to efficiently kill dangerous targets outside of the proper channels of justice during Guatemala’s dirty civil war, clandestine death squads were paramilitary groups that devolved into despotic gangs answerable to no one.
A death squad member had stolen Antonio’s beer, and he had punched him, not knowing he was a paramilitary.
Out of his devotion to his best friend, Ivan had planned to accompany the graduation festivities in the cantina for only 30 minutes. In the next moment, he was fleeing for his life.
“Are they going to kill us?” he worried.
Ivan and his friend hid in a room in the back of the cantina, and a friendly lady locked it with a padlock on the outside. Sure enough, the death squad came to to that room, pounded and kicked the door and fired bullets.
Terrified, Ivan remembered his brother, Diego, who was first of the family to become a born-again Christian.
In his heart, he cried out to God. “Lord, forgive me. If you can get me out of this trial, save me. Don’t let these men kill me here.”
The paramilitaries busted down the door. They shoved a .44-Magnum in Ivan’s mouth, but it jammed.
“I couldn’t say anything,” he said. “I didn’t argue. He insulted me like a demon.”
death squads honduras
This picture from a Google search is believed to show a Honduran death squad in action.
Responding to disturbances in the neighborhood, the military police showed up. The paramilitaries stood down and left.
The streets were silent like a cemetery. Ivan asked the cantina owner if he should go home.
“They’re waiting for you to come out to torture and kill you,” he said. Read the rest of the story refugee students.
This is the story of how a Guatemala survived the ravages of war in Guatemala and immigrated to the United States where he married and enrolled his daughters in our Christian school in Los Angeles.
The Bible says we’re pilgrims, sojourners on this Earth. In our times of jet planes and email (as opposed to “snail mail”), we have little understanding of long journeys. But when Nehemiah traveled back and forth between the capital of the Persian Empire and Jerusalem, it took days or weeks.
Impatience is the enemy of the Christian. When bad situations don’t turn around fast enough, too many give up and return to the world. There is need of stick-to-it-iveness, of perseverance.
I’m sure Moses would have liked to make the journey to the Promised Land in an appropriate amount of time — not 40 years! God is patient with us, and we should be patient with Him.
His powerful punch and menacing demeanor in the ring led George Foreman to Olympic Gold and heavyweight championships, but when Jimmy Young brutalized him in a humiliating defeat in 1977, the street bully from Houston felt he was dying.
“In the dressing room, I was walking back and forth to cool off,” he told The Houston Chronicle. “Then in a split second, I was fighting for my life.”
He lay on a locker room table. While friends and staff attended to his physical body, the battered brute battled with the God he learned little about as a kid. He admitted later he only went to church for the free lunches.
“I kept thinking, ‘You believe in God. Why are you afraid to die?” Foreman told The New York Times. “But I really didn’t believe.”
Foreman began bargaining with his Creator. If God saved him, he would give his prize money to charity.
“I don’t want your money,” a voice responded. “I want you.”
Foreman was bewildered and confused. He had never met anybody who didn’t want money.
“It was the saddest, most horrible place I had ever seen,” he said. “Tears fell. I was scared. I’d never heard anyone turn down money. There I was fighting for my life with something that you couldn’t deal with. That changed my life forever.”
Then as his life ebbed away, too late to repent, Foreman felt a “giant hand” thrust him back into consciousness. He saw his friends. At the same time, he felt strangely filled with the presence of a dying Christ. He felt his forehead bleed and he imagined it pierced by Christ’s crown of thorns. He sensed his wrists punctured as if by the nails of the cross.
“I knew that Jesus Christ was coming alive in me,” Foreman told The Times. “I ran into the shower and turned on the water and — hallelujah! — I was born again. I kissed everybody in the dressing room and told them I loved them. That happened in March 1977, and I never have been the same again.”
A passion began to stir in his heart. “I started reciting the Bible, talking from the pit of my stomach in that dressing room. I was talking about how Jesus was God’s son and that he was alive. So when I came out of that, I asked a friend to go get me a Bible. And he said, ‘What kind?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, one like your mother has.’ So, he went out and bought me a King James version of the Bible. And that’s how I got into religion.”
The turnaround in Foreman was immediate and dramatic. Today, he preaches punchy sermons as pastor at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston.
Transformed from a rage-filled street punk into a humble and sweet Christian, Foreman found he couldn’t muster the will to fight anymore, so he dropped boxing for 10 years. Read the rest of the George Foreman story.
When a New York tycoon met one of the last feral “Tarzan boys” in Guatemala, he knew it was a match made in Heaven.
Jamie Waller, a Wall Street darling who recovered from alcoholism and became a missionary, took on what was to become perhaps his most difficult case, helping a boy who became a savage after he was abandoned following the death of his parents, forced to fend for himself in the jungle.
That boy, Francisco Tzoy – who suffered from mental disability — crawled on all fours and fought off dogs for his food in the dense mountainous terrain of Guatemala. Francisco is now diagnosed with the mental age of a 9-month-old.
Thanks to God working through Waller and the Guatemalan government, he now keeps his clothes on, stands on his feet, smiles and no longer eats his own excrement.
“That’s a good success story,” Waller said. “He can sit still, play a little bit. He doesn’t scream all the time anymore. He can participate in group activities. Prayer has been big. People have been praying for him and with him throughout. His infectious smile touches me. When he’s happy, the whole world smiles with him.”
A New Jersey native, Waller started using drugs in boarding school in the 1970s. He drank daily through college. When he started having kids and getting into corporate life, he limited his liquor consumption to weekend drinking.
In 2009, his wife left him. While this was another boat-rocker in his life, it seemed at the same time to open doors for him to travel and do ministry. He flew to Guatemala with his son and visited 10 orphanages. The last hospital he visited so moved him that it became the one he now works in.
“It was the Holy Spirit,” Waller said of the remarkable career boomerang. “I worked in New York and wore a suit to work. I never had real interest in special needs folks. I probably was guilty of ignoring them like most people do. The Lord changed my heart. Something clicked in my head when I visited this one. I was only there for an hour, but it changed my life.”
Though he had no background with special needs patients, he threw himself into the work in 2009. He hired a physical therapist to “volunteer” at the Abrigo Bienestar Integral home to give the patients some badly needed stimuli. He prodded government officials to make ABI less of an institution where patients were kept behind bars and more of a center of joy and improving patients with their social skills.
Today, Waller runs a 12-member staff on a $50,000 budget through Fundaniños, and they serve at a government-funded institution that houses and cares for some 100 special needs patients abandoned or abused by their families.
In eight years of service, he has opened an annex facility that during the day takes some of the higher-functional patients and provides them physical therapy and improves motor and cognitive skills.
Perhaps their most remarkable story of transformation involves their former Tarzan boy, Francisco.
When two police agents spotted him in May of 2010 cowering among the brush of rural Santa Cruz of Quiché, they first thought he was a wolf. He emitted guttural sounds and moved around on all fours. His unkempt, matted hair flowed all over his naked body. Read the rest about Tarzan boy.
I thought my impact was negligible in Elida’s life. Her mom was the spiritual force. I was the pastor, and the girl never talked to me even though I tried to deposit into her life some discipleship. One time when she was recovering from an operation, I visited her and offered to loan her a book to ease the boredom. She declined. She didn’t like to read.
Then I came back from Guatemala. And Elida became one of the many was-theres who coursed our school and heard innumerable Bible teachings.
Elida just had her baby shower. I hadn’t seen her for more than six years, so I dropped in. What I found out blew me away.
The baby boy will be named after me: David (it’s my middle name).
Apparently, I filled the role of a dad in her life, even though I had no clue at the time.
Truly, the Word says that none of labor for the Lord is in vain. Servant of God, you don’t know how many people you have touched and helped and are in the kingdom of God today because of your influence. Don’t be discouraged.
Pastor Miguel pastored the Door Christian Church in Guatemala and founded the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta school during that time.
Actress Justine Bateman thought her binge eating and purging was normal, but when a friend gently suggested she had an addiction as serious as alcohol or drugs, she entered a 12-step program. That’s where she found Jesus.
“I found the highest high by hitting the lowest low,” the 51-year-old told the New York Daily News. “I’ve actually become the person I always wanted to become, although not in the way I thought it would happen.”
The former star from “Family Ties” and “Men Behaving Badly” battled eating disorders for 10 years before getting help. “I realized I had eating disorders, went into recovery and found a relationship with God,” Bateman recounted.
Bateman said it all started at age 16, when she suffered bouts of anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating, without understanding the danger of what she was doing. “I had a horrible body image,” she said. “I always had the tape measure out. I was always getting on the scale.” Read the rest of the story.
God’s goodness and unmerited favor is not only for salvation. I’ve been seeing it in the formation of the startup church in Van Nuys, California. The San Fernando Valley Lighthouse Church is running on eight cylinders.
We recently did a drama to bless another, well-established church in Palmdale, about an hour away from L.A.
The church continues to meet at Lake Balboa, when it’s not too cold or rainy. Attendance doubled in December.
I am floored that God would bless me. It’s His amazing grace, usually applied to salvation, but applicable to any and every area of our lives.
What you need in life is God’s favor, which you can’t earn. Jesus earned it for you. The best thing we can do is be grateful.
Of the 18 or so tattoos scattered all over Stephen Baldwin’s body representing different stages of his life, one is a scripture: 3:30. It’s on the back of his neck and stands for John 3.30. “I must decrease so that he may increase.”
The youngest sibling of the Baldwin acting clan accepted Jesus in the aftermath of 9/11. But the wake-up call only came after a Brazilian nanny was singing about Jesus in Portuguese to the Baldwin’s baby in front of Stephen’s Brazilian wife, Kennya.
“So, we hired this lady from Brazil named Augusta, and the whole first week she’s working for us she’s singing in Portuguese, which she only spoke that language with my wife,” said Stevie B., as he calls himself.
Kennya suddenly realized whom the nanny was singing about. She went to Stephen and said, “Do you hear what she’s singing about? She’s singing about Jesus.”
After overhearing the singing a few more days, her curiosity could not be contained and she approached the nanny directly. “I noticed your singing, and I’m wondering why every song is about Jesus?”
Kennya was taken aback when Augusta burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” she asked.
“Quite frankly, I think it’s a little bit funny that you think I’m here to clean your house.”
To Kennya’s amazement, she explained that through a prophetic word, she was told that if she went to live with the Baldwins, Stephen and Kenya would one day come to faith in Jesus Christ and be involved in ministry.
“She goes on to tell my wife that, before she had accepted the job, she prayed with her pastor and some church members in Brazil. I haven’t told this part of the story a lot. She had a dream and saw me, saw my wife and saw my first daughter Aliya.”
But Baldwin was not impressed or moved about what appeared to him at the time to be religious gibberish.
“Didn’t faze me for a second,” he said. “Raised Roman Catholic up until 11 or 12. Didn’t stick. Went out into the world and did my own thing.”
Among his “own things” were roles in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Posse (1993), Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994), Threesome (1994), The Usual Suspects (1995), Bio-Dome (1996), Fled (1996), The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), Fred Claus (2007) and The Flyboys (2008). In addition to being an award-winning actor, he became a producer and an author.
Kennya was first one in the family to receive Jesus. After spending much time talking about Jesus with Augusta, Kenya attended a Brazilian church in New York City, seeking answers and learning more about Him.
As time went on, Stephen became curious and felt drawn to God and began asking questions. Then 9/11 struck.
“September 11th kind of freaked me out,” Baldwin recounted. Read the rest of the fascinating account.
Dark-themed rocker Alice Cooper — whose onstage theatrics included handling boa constrictors and staging mock suicides with guillotines — has returned to the God of his childhood after dumping alcoholism and feeling dissatisfied with riches.
“When you get out there and realize you’ve had every car, every house, and all that, you realize that that’s not the answer,” Cooper told CNSnews. “There’s a big nothing out there at the end of that. So, materialism doesn’t mean anything. A lot of people say that there’s a big God-sized hole in your heart. And when that’s filled, you’re really satisfied, and that’s where I am right now.”
“The so-called “Godfather of shock rock” was born Vincent Damon Furnier in 1948 to a pastoral family in Arizona. He performed missionary work with his dad among the Apaches. His grandfather was a pastor too. But when he went AWOL on God, he stretched the outer limits of what it means to be a prodigal.
His high school band from Phoenix was discovered by Frank Zappa in 1969. They struck gold with the album Love It to Death, which gained national notoriety.
Meanwhile, he drew on lessons from Edgar Allan Poe to optimize publicity with lurid dramatizations of horror in his concerts. His creepy makeup and macabre shenanigans drew ire from Christian leaders, which only served to fuel his sales to disaffected, rage-filled adolescents. Giddy with his success, Cooper conveniently forgot the early chapters of his life and his relationship with God as he entered the stratosphere of mega-stardom.
What brought him back to Earth was the booze.
“I was throwing up blood every morning,” he said. “I was really a bad alcoholic. I wasn’t a cruel or mean alcoholic, but I was certainly self-destructive. My doctor said I was a textbook alcoholic. He said, ‘You drink in order to get things done, it’s like a medicine for you.’ I said, ‘You’re right.’ I was always on a golden buzz. I drank all day, but I never slurred my speech or anything.
“When I came out of the hospital, I kept waiting for the craving to come, and it never came. It was a miracle,” he said. “I tell people I’m not a cured alcoholic, I’m a healed alcoholic. I never went to AA or anything like that, and I give all credit to God for that. Even the doctor said, ‘This is a miracle that you’re not falling back on alcohol every time there’s a stressful situation.’ So, it’s gone. It’s just gone.”
When God delivered him from alcohol, he went back to church. Cooper and his current wife of 41 years, Sheryl Goddard, now attend the Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, to focus on growing and strengthening their faith in Christ.
“When you get out there and realize you’ve had every car, every house, and all that, you realize that that’s not the answer,” he said. “There’s a big nothing out there at the end of that. So, materialism doesn’t mean anything. A lot of people say that there’s a big God-sized hole in your heart. And when that’s filled, you’re really satisfied, and that’s where I am right now.
“God has a plan for everybody. I look at my life and I think, ‘How is it possible that I didn’t die?’” he said. “God’s chipping away at your life all the time to try to make you more like Him. That’s what a Christian is, a person that’s being molded and shaped all their life. I think the Lord expects you to do your best in His name. I had to struggle a long time about rock and roll. I realized it’s not really the music. It’s what’s being said with the music. So I think you have to be careful of what you’re writing, what you’re representing.” Read the rest of the macabre article.
By Kayla Armstrong, LCA sophomore
Growing up I always seen kids with a mom and dad and always going out to eat and having a good time. Well believe it or not, I didn’t have that. My mom was my mother and father, and it was always just me and her.
My father was really never in the picture, wasn’t at my games, awards, or plays, etc. As a little girl, I had so many questions and wanted the feeling of what it was like to have a full-time father.
I saw my dad a few times but not often. I remember the times where I would wait for him to pick me up but he never came. My dad and I were never close and even when he did pick me up, I would just be in my room for the whole weekend just watching TV and my dad and I wouldn’t really talk. It would be small talk like, “Are you hungry?”
It was embarrassing and made me very sad because I felt unwanted and felt like my dad didn’t love me or didn’t want me. But as I got older I was thankful he wasn’t in my life because my mom and I had a close relationship.
As time went by, my mother got married. I was happy because I had a father in my life, and he didn’t single me out because I was his “stepdaughter.” He treated me as if I was his own. We had a close relationship, and I got attached to him as if he were my biological father.
I was happy because I had someone to come to my volleyball games, there for my school recitals and if I got rewards and someone who can be there for me as a father.
In the middle of the year, things twisted, and the home wasn’t a “happy” home. There were lots of arguments, and next thing I know he was out of the house. I rebelled against everyone, especially God because I felt like God didn’t want me to be happy.
I felt like if He really loved me or was “real,” He would let our home be a happy home. Go to this link to find the happy ending and I invite you to comment there.
A Baton Rouge grandmother is being called a Good Samaritan after she plunged into the middle of a life-or-death struggle between a cop and bad guy, saving the officer’s life.
Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, didn’t think twice when she pounced on the back of a hulking Thomas Bennett after a routine drug arrest escalated suddenly into a dangerous fight for control of the officer’s weapon.
“I could see in his eyes he needed help,” said Williams-Tillman, who stopped her car, called 911, and lunged into the fray on Feb. 19. “You don’t have time to think about it. I did what God needed me to do.”
The grandmother pulled on Bennett’s arm as cop and suspect wrangled for the officer’s gun. All three fell to the ground.
Quickly, a backup unit pulled up and another officer stun-gunned the suspect, who was arrested on charges of battery on a police officer, resisting an officer with violence, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Baton Rouge Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome lauded the lady for fearlessly joining the brawl.
“Vickie Williams-Tillman epitomizes the true Good Samaritan,” the mayor said, as reported in The Blaze. She reached out and offered a courageous and unconditional response to the officer. Ms. Williams-Tillman is a hero and demonstrates the true meaning of loving God and loving your neighbor.”
Cpl. Billy Aime was handcuffing the suspect after spotting incriminating evidence when Bennett suddenly resisted arrest. The cop struggled without success to subdue the suspect. Read the rest of the article.
Kevin Hart’s mother was going to help him with rent to kick-start his comedy career, but when the due date passed he called his mom, and all she could say was: “Have you been reading your Bible?”
A week later it was the same thing: “When you read your bible, then we’ll talk about your rent.”
Annoyed at his “over-religious” mom but desperate about an eviction note on his door, Kevin grudgingly sat down and opened the Good Book.
“I go home and say, ‘Man let me open this Bible up,’” Hart explained to Oprah Winfrey. “Open the Bible up, six rent checks fell out. She put all my rent checks in the Bible.”
Score one for mom and the Lord!
Hart, the self-spoofing star of Real Husbands of Hollywood, doesn’t need Mom’s rent money anymore. He’s enjoyed a steady stream of movie roles starting with Paper Soldiers (2002), Scary Movie 3 the next year, Soul Plane (2004), In the Mix (2005) and Little Fockers (2010). He ranked as the highest paid comedian by Forbes, valued at $87.5 million.
In his latest gig, a quixotic Hart fails hilariously in his constant attempts to climb Hollywood’s social ladder.
And while he’s not overly vocal about his Christianity, Hart is believed to hold the values of his mother, even if he pokes fun at her zeal in comedy routines.
“His whole family was dedicated to Christianity, and Hart uses his family’s faith as a frequent topic in his stand-up. He doesn’t make fun of Christianity itself, but he does make fun of how people can be hypocritical with religion (like his drug addict Jesus-loving cousin),” according to Hollowverse.
On that same day when the checks tumbled out of his Bible, Jesus tumbled out too.
Hart was born in Philadelphia in 1979 to a cocaine-addicted father who was in jail more than he was in Hart’s life.
As a teen growing up in a harsh reality, Hart resorted to humor as a coping mechanism. His love for slapstick eventually won several amateur comedy competitions on the East Coast until landed recurring role on the TV series Undeclared. Jump to the rest of the story.
I have been in a flurry of reporting and editing student reporters. I enjoy this. But I haven’t updated y’all on the progress of my start-up church. We have revival, despite myself. The church has doubled with the addition of another family, with lots of kids. They are kind people and have a heart for evangelism.
Do you want to evangelize the world? Go to Super King supermarkets in Los Angeles. It caters to immigrants with all kinds of exotic foods. We evangelized Arabs, Persians, Armenians, Greeks, Latins, Jews, Egyptians all in one night of evangelism recently.
It’s been too cold to meet at Lake Balboa, so we have been meeting in my apartment. Fortunately, it’s an old one, which means it’s spacious. The newer apartments are really small. We cram 20 people into that front room. Keep praying because it’s working!
Fatherhood brought Matthew McConaughey back to faith.
The Oscar-winning actor, a heart-throb in romantic movies, has been lauded for breaking Hollywood’s high divorce rate by staying married to his supermodel wife, Brazilian Camila Alves, who was raised Catholic.
“As soon as we had children, I was like, ‘You know what? Church was important to my childhood, even if it was just for the ritual of giving an hour and a half on Sunday to yourself, to pray and to think about others, even if you’re tired or whatever,’” McConaughey said. “I noticed how much I missed it and needed it.”
He and his wife have three children: Levi, aged 6; Vida, aged 7; and Livingston, aged 4.
McConaughey was raised in Uvalde, Texas. His mother, Kay was a kindergarten teacher and a published author. His father, James, was a Green Bay Packers football player before becoming a Texas oilman.
His childhood dream of being a pro football player along with his college plan of being a lawyer all got cast aside. He worked in a commercial and then performed minor roles until he was cast as the lead in the John Grishman-based movie A Time to Kill.
The breakthrough roll led to more, and McConaughey found himself soon in romantic roles in such movies The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
In his rising success, the God of his childhood became all but forgotten.
Then, the man accustomed to making women swoon met and swooned over Camila Alves. When they met, he was hiding his identity under a huge hat and a bushy beard at the Hyde Club in Hollywood. As soon as he saw Camila, he was pierced by Cupid’s arrows.
“I said, ‘What is that?’” McConaughey recalled, as quoted in Ever After Guide. “I was like, ‘Woo-ha! Wow!’” Read the rest of the romance.
Trina Gratton always liked Spanish soap operas – called telenovelas – and watched them with her mother and grandmother.
“They’re addicting – all the drama, the characters and their backgrounds,” Trina said.
So when at the end of Spanish 2 at the teacher showed “Betty La Fea,” it occurred to Trina that she could propose filming a mini telenovela – all in Spanish – with her classmates to get some extra points.
The 9-minute product was “Las Llamaradas de Nuestras Pasiones” – a toxic and hilarious mixture of love, betrayal and murder acted by Lighthouse Christian Academy students.
If the scripting, acting and editing looks hastily contrived and arranged, that’s because the students didn’t have much time at the end of the semester to get it together. It’s hard to determine whether the students are spoofing the genre or themselves, which adds to the charming drollery of the unpolished short.
Trina is the brains – and the beauty – behind the production. Not only did she pour into the program her zest for soaps. She also poured in her passion for film-making and her natural spunkiness. The fun-loving jokesters and pranksters of Spanish 2 drained their own zaniness into the project.
“I love the crazy stuff, crazy ideas,” said Will Clancy, a senior who played Alejandro, the main love interest. “A regular assignment would have been too easy to get extra credit. I wanted to spike things up.”
Alejandro died at the end. “I’m a little sad to have died, but it was satisfying and fulfilling,” he quipped. Read the rest of the article by clicking: Learn Spanish in Los Angeles private school
Prophetic word from pastor and parishioner brought suicidal rocker to Christ
Co-founder and former lead vocalist of the rock band Flyleaf, Lacey Sturm, was contemplating suicide when she had an encounter with God that saved her life.
“When I was ten-years-old, my cousin, who was about three at the time, was beaten to death by his stepfather,” Sturm said. “My mother always talked to me about God, but at the time I just remember thinking I couldn’t reconcile how God could allow something like that to happen. I decided that if God was big and good, why wouldn’t he protect my cousin who was so tiny and so awesome?”
The girl from Arlington, Texas, couldn’t countenance evil in the world. “I never wanted to have kids,” she said. “It would just be bringing another person into the world to suffer.”
She cried herself to sleep every night, became an atheist and turned to drugs and alcohol. She dabbled with pornography and even got a girlfriend.
“I couldn’t get away from my own depression. So I started to study a lot of other religions. There was a lot of nice ideas but there wasn’t any tangible healing.
“I remember thinking, I’m tired of feeling the pain. I’m tired of going to bed that way. I’m tired of being a burden. I’m just tired of not knowing why I’m alive. I remember the night I was laying in bed, and I knew I was going to commit suicide the next day. I knew I was not going to live past tomorrow.”
But on the fateful day when she came home from school, Grandma was there — an unusual occurrence.
“She looked at me and said, ‘There’s something wrong with you. You’re going to go to church.'”
“There’s no way I’m going to go to church,” she said defiantly.
Her grandmother raised her voice and the two began to argue vehemently. Finally Sturm relented and went to church, but planned to follow through with her suicide afterwards.
She slumped down in a back-row pew, hating everyone and everything around her. “The pastor started speaking, and I hated him more than anyone.”
The pastor spoke: “There’s a suicidal spirit in the room. So of course all the hair on the back of my neck stood up. And I thought, ‘Well, this is really weird.'”
She got up to go out, but was intercepted by white-haired man who gently and kindly addressed her: “The Lord wants me to speak to you. He wants you to know that even though you’ve never known an earthly father, God will be a better Father to you than any earthly father could ever be. God knows the pain in your heart. He’s seen you cry yourself to sleep at nights.”
Sturm was stunned and touched. How could he know about the deep things of her heart?
“The idea was so overwhelming to me,” she said. “He’s like, ‘Do you want me to pray for you so that Jesus can take the pain out of your heart?’ He put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. It was as if the God of the universe showed up right in front of me. The first thing I noticed was that He was holy and good. The second thing I noticed is that I was not holy and not good. But at the same time, I felt Him inviting me to an embrace of grace and love unconditional. God was saying, ‘I love you. I know you’re tired of the way you’re living. I will make you new if you will let me.’
“My heart just said, ‘Yes. I need that. I want that,'” Sturm remembers. “I woke up the next day I felt such a peace and a joy that I’d never felt before. Jesus saved my life. The almost overwhelming thing to think is that Jesus became sin, and it was my sin. It was thing that I’ve done that held Him on the cross. He hung naked on a cross bleeding in a shameful way so that I would never have to be ashamed for the things that I’ve done.” Read the rest of the article written by my Lighthouse Christian Academy student here.
As apartment manager, I can get on the roof — no one else.
Maintenance duties oblige me to inspect. As a result, I’ve delighted by some of the most glorious views of sunsets and skies. I’ve witnessed beauty that can be observed at street level, at the level of the tenants.
You have access to the roof as a Christian. You have access into the things of God, a higher life, a life of beauty. The direction of the Christian is upward.
In her first year of soccer, Jamie Roman didn’t play in a single game. She sat on the bench and smiled.
In her second year of soccer, coach threw on the easygoing junior against the league’s toughest team, Einstein Academy, on Feb. 3.
And she almost scored a goal.
Jamie is no Tomboy, but she joined varsity soccer at the Lighthouse Christian Academy just to get involved. LCA coaxes kids to participate in activities they would never do in regular school. With only 45 students, the Saints scour their enrollment list to fill rosters.
“At first I just joined for my friends,” Jamie said of her experience last year. “Then I saw how fun the conditioning was — that pain in the moment. I wanted to see if I could run.”
She looked perfectly content with exercising and playing at practice — and being side-lined during games.
“I wanted to play last year, but I was shy and lazy, so I missed the opportunity to play,” she said. “I had a lot of good laughs on the sidelines. But it was kind of embarrassing that I would go to all the games and wear a uniform and not play.”
The 2016-17 season was different. A few players were disqualified because of grades, whittling down eligible players for the starting squad.
Sometimes high school coaches put their least experienced players as forwards because it’s the position where they can do the least damage.
(The defensive line is critical because once the opponent gets past, it’s just the goalie that can save the day. You want to fight and maintain position in the middle of the field. So where does the newbie go? Up front.)
In her breakout game, Jamie got offsides a kajillion times. She had to learn how pass the last defender without the ball and how to sprint into the danger zone as soon as her teammate struck for a pass to her.
Nerves killed her.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I was so paranoid that I’d mess up. I was afraid they would yell at me if I messed up.” Read the rest at co-ed soccer.
For the second straight year, Lighthouse Christian Academy entered soccer playoffs — a decided break from a long past of never making post-season play.
But the Saints mechanics ran rough on Feb. 15 against delToledo High School, which dismissed LCA with a resounding 0-6 defeat.
For about a week, Lighthouse players were thinking their third-place standing in the league ruled them out of playoffs when they rather suddenly received the news they would get at least one more game to see far they advanced.
The Saints season peaked in a shock defeat of last year’s league champs 2-1. In that game, players were passing, fighting and concentrating. The victory against Newbury Park culminated a winning streak of three and gave the Saints the intoxicating sensation of invincibility that lasted only a couple days.
The next game Jan. 27 against Einstein Academy brought LCA back to reality with a humbling 0-6 thrashing. The prior passing went up in smoke with predictable results.
The Saints finished league play 5-3. Against the better teams, LCA — which has 1-and-a-half club players — can compete when they play like a team linking up with passes. Individual juking runs don’t work. But would players listen to coach and stick with selflessness?
If only players in our Santa Monica Christian school would apply the Bible to the soccer field: It is better to give than to receive.
In some games, passing became so scarce that when finally a through-ball was sent, the intended player wasn’t expecting it and invariably reacted slowly.
Kevin Durant, a two-time Olympics gold medalist in basketball and the 2014 NBA most valuable player, has learned to be more vocal about his Christian faith.
The 28-year-old, 6’11” superstar is now with fellow Christian Steph Curry on the Golden State Warriors, after leading his native Oklahoma City Thunder deep into the playoffs in 2010-13.
“The Bible both pumps me up and balances me to play my best,” Durant told Beyond the Ultimate. “But it also tells me more about the Lord and how I can live for Him and what all He has done for me.”
Durant, one of the NBA’s most popular players, grew up in a Christian home, led by a single mom, but fell out of church attendance in middle and high school. He excelled at basketball and in 2006 he was widely regarded as one of the best prospects for college ball. His freshman game was so overpowering that he decided to enter the NBA draft immediately.
Picked by the then-Seattle SuperSonics, he produced prodigious performances and won the Rookie of the Year acknowledgement.
The team transferred to Oklahoma and renamed itself the Thunder the next year. It was while he played for the Thunder that Durant, mum about his faith, buddied up with teammate Kevin Ollie, who encouraged him to attend chapel services and to be unafraid to voice his faith.
“He got everybody going and wanting to learn more. I was just one of the guys who was trying to follow his lead,” Durant said on Beliefnet. “He was a big teacher in helping me do that and making me feel more comfortable in my faith around other people and being able to pray for other people and pray out loud and things like that; take those baby steps.”
While he lived in Oklahoma City, Durant felt drawn to the easy-going, earnest faith of New York City Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz and adopted the pastor as his mentor. He was baptized by Lentz in 2013.
“I used to feel like if I did something wrong, I would go to hell,” he said. Now, “I believe God’s love for me, the sacrificial death of Jesus for my sins and His grace, not my good works, are what saves me.” Read the rest of the story.
This article was written by my student Jordan Sheppard in my journalism class at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.
Lighthouse’s potentially playoff-deciding loss to Newbury can be blamed on a bag of flaming hot cheetos.
That’s all one player ate all day before the game.
The Saints matchup on Feb. 7 promised to be high stakes challenge. Newbury Park was last year’s league champs that LCA managed to upset this season 2-1 with energy and sheer force of will in the first matchup. The Gators would be seeking revenge for the “humiliation.”
So how did the Saints prepare?
Some players didn’t eat enough, and so they ran out of gas in the second half, allowing a 3-3 tie turn into a 3-5 loss. One player showed up with football cleats, a disqualifying violation.
The mind-boggling frustration behind Santa Monica’s Christian school soccer loss is actually a teaching moment. Lighthouse Christian Academy drills not just cognitive skills (how to ace college entrance exams or learn calculus). With a view to successful life, LCA teaches non-cognitive skills: how to show up on time every day, how to be responsible.
In other words, LCA gets the knuckleheadedness out.
“In the first half I did good,” the cheeto-eater said. “But in the second half, my stomach started to hurt.”
The pros on a wide pitch run 5 miles in a 90 minute game. Of course, high schoolers in 80 minutes of play on smaller fields don’t manage quite as much. But still, you burn a lot of calories. Even if you haven’t taken the requisite health class, intuitively you know to eat carb rich food (not fatty, greasy or sugary) before the game.
One bag of cheetos simply is not filling up the fuel tank.
In some ways, LCA’s rematch against Newbury was everything it promised to be, a back-and-forth thriller between similarly skilled teams battling for second place and the coveted playoff berth.
The Saints were first to score at 15 minutes. Erhan Meric sent a through ball to the left corner that junior Abraham Morales sprinted to. He juked a defender to get in the box, and as the keeper came out for the onoe-on-one, Abraham chipped wide of him to the far post.
Newbury fought back to net two goals.
In the second half, Abraham threw in a ball looking for a Saints player, but a Newbury defender, instead of clearing it, headered it in to the goal. The game was tied 2-2.
Newbury again scored making it 3-2.
Then Hosea was blind-sided by a double body check from opposing sides causing him to spin in the air just inside the box. Taking the penalty kick, Erhan sent the goalie left and shot right.
The game was tied 3-3.
That’s when LCA started running out of gas. Read the rest of the story.
His shots went high and wide.
Junior Abraham Morales, who showed plenty of speed and skill, couldn’t put the ball into the net to save his life.
Then in the second half of the season, things suddenly came into focus for old blurry-shooter. He nailed a shot against Westmark from the left flank.
And on Tuesday, in the highest tension game of the 2017 season, when his team needed him most, Abraham proved in top form. He sunk two torpedoes to unnerve the reigning league champs, Newbury Park, in a game that ultimately Lighthouse Christian Academy lost 3-5.
“As a little kid I would just pass the ball around with my family members. I was a pretty short kid. I used to tell them, ‘One day I’ll make it big in soccer,’” Abraham said.
He’s big in our eyes, now one of the top scorers for the season and officially listed in the Lighthouse ledger of soccer history.
Because of soccer, Abraham transferred to Lighthouse. His middle school teammates jeered and bullied him for his flubs on the soccer field, a habitual provocation that drove him to yelling and even fist fights. The nastiness continued into his freshman year of high school in the public school system in South Central Los Angeles, where he lives.
“I told my mom, ‘Can I go to another school because I don’t feel right here?” Mrs. Morales found Lighthouse online.
Even though he was raised in a Christian home, Abraham thought he wouldn’t fit in at a Christian high school.
“I thought it was going to be super strict and all that,” he admitted. “I knew there was going to be some sort of dress code. I didn’t want to wear a uniform.” Read the rest of the story.
Since they steamrolled us in our first game, Einstein Academy expected to win handily on the rematch Friday. One player even heckled a Saint: “I guarantee that there is no way we will lose this game.”
Well, Lighthouse Christian Academy made them sweat to earn their win. LCA rattled their nerves and hacked their hubris. And even though the Saints went down 1-6, the Christian kids from Santa Monica could hold high chins by the final whistle. With only one club player and a former club player, the Saints had stood tall against a high school team of 10 club players of varsity soccer.
“You guys don’t give up,” said Einstein coach Ken Erenberg. “I thought that was great about your team — the whole game they kept fighting through, no matter what the score was. They kept fighting. You got that goal at the end. It was the never die. It was nice to see that.”
Indeed, it took the Rockets 25 minutes to break down the Saints dogged defense.
In the first match, the Einstein players had notched two goals in the first 10 minutes. And then they stepped off the gas pedal and coasted to an easy 0-6 victory.
But on Friday, Coach Erenberg sounded frustrated as his team couldn’t manage to open the deadbolt. The Rockets keeper too scolded his team.
It was a different Saints team. On the first matchup, the Saints were presumptuous. They were on a 3-game winning streak that included the shock defeat of last year’s champs. As they oozed confidence, they lacked concentration. Since they took to the field thinking they’d win without even having to play, the Saints crashed and burned terribly. They committed enough errors to make the discriminating soccer observer turn his nose inward face palms.
The scoreline –0-6 — was a humiliating wake-up call and could have been far worse, except that the Rockets sent on their second string for some practice in the second half.
On Friday, the fierce determination of the underdog Saint was back with a vengeance, and a growing alarm in the voice of the shouts from the sidelines and on the field was evident.
Ultimately, the Saints committed an error, and the Rockets buried the ball in the net for their first at 25 minutes. By halftime, they had three goals, all products of a lapse of concentration and the lack of experience.
As the score crept upward, Coach Jack Mefford noted that Einstein did NOT take off their star player, #43, this time — a move that credits LCA’s improved performance.
“I’ll take that as a badge of pride,” he said.
As the minutes crept towards the final, the Saints refused to cower like a dog with its tail between its legs. They continued to press, and their resilience paid dividends. Read the rest of the article.
As a teenager, he was lured into a Japanese crime syndicate known as yakuza, and after surviving several violent episodes and prison experiences, God began to get his attention.
“I admired the yakuza for what was visible only on the surface,” Tatsuya Shindo told CNN. “They have lots of money, spend their money lavishly, and play glamorously. The bad guys looked so cool in my eyes. I was a child. I didn’t think too deeply.”
Many of the estimated 50,000 yakuza fall into a life of crime because they come from broken families. The yakuza cultivate a sense of family, of belonging and of loyalty.
But if there were issues that seduced him to the mob life, the harsh realities began to pummel him.
“People were killed in power struggles,” he recounted. “People’s legs were shot. A guy who was doing drugs with me died of intoxication. Suicides happened. Sudden deaths. I’ve seen many deaths,” said Shindo, 45. “I saw my henchmen get stabbed to death.”
He got addicted to crystal meth. He crashed his boss’s car while driving under the influence. As a result, his pinkie finger was cut off with a chisel, which is a form of penance in the syndicate. For a first offense, the wrongdoer must cut off the tip of his left little finger and give the severed portion to his boss.
Shindo’s body is covered by tattoos, which make him an outcast in Japan. Many yakuza have full-body tattoos, which are still “hand-poked”, with homemade tools using needles made of bamboo or steel. The painful process can take years to finish.
Crime members cover their tattoos in public, but when they play cards with each other they often remove their shirts to show off their creative designs.
Beginning at age 22, Shindo was arrested seven times and imprisoned three times, according to CNN.
He saw his mob boss killed and friends die of overdoses. After his third prison sentence, he began to question the “lavish life of the yakuza” he once imagined. He finally decided it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
During his final 10-year prison sentence, Shindo began reading a Bible in solitary confinement.Read the rest of the article written by a Chinese student at our Santa Monica school.
There are piano movers and piano players on the soccer field.
There are beefy guys who marshal girth at speed to jostle opponents off the ball and keep possession. And there are slight figures who ghost around and with exquisite touches on the ball to perform the magic that gets posted on YouTube.
Erhan Meric was performing a symphony of soccer delight in yesterday’s 7-1 victory over Westmark School in Encino. The Lighthouse Christian Academy Saints are now 5-1 in league play.
Erhan, who learned the music of soccer in Turkey before moving to America and enrolling in our Santa Monica Christian school, knows as much as an orchestra director. He’ll streak past defenders dribbling as if the ball were attached to his feet. He changes up pace suddenly. He doesn’t shy away from the one-on-one, in which he’ll thread the ball through the eye of the needle. He can strike from distance with power and precision.
He’s a bonafide virtuoso.
Against Westmark, Erhand notched two early goals to put LCA on towards a comfortable win.
And then after making two goals, Erhan did something extraordinary. He stopped scoring.
Other high school players would have capitalized on a weak opponent to set a personal record. Not Erhan. He desisted.
Instead, he dedicated his skill to setting up his lesser-skilled teammates for goals.
“I’ve scored a lot of goals,” the soft-spoken junior said. “I wanted my friends to score.”
An Erhan strike, not against Westmark.
And they flubbed. They tripped. They shot wide or high. It was a great opportunity for them to learn in a real life game.
There’s a word for a star who wants others to shine. It’s a word that can’t be used much in the world of sports.
Here it is: selfless.
Sports is thronged by bluster and brag, by trashtalk and mindgame. It is dominated by a deafening drivel of ME. And when the megalomania hits the field, the opponent becomes more than just the other team. It becomes the teammate who’s competing. Yup, when teammates compete among themselves to see who’s the best, usually the other team wins.
Soccer, like basketball, is only beautiful when there is passing. When one player jukes four players and single-handedly taps the ball into the net, that is gloating and unsportsmanlike. While a Messi or Neymar individual performance is sensational, high schoolers go selfish and try to be the all-star, almost never do they make the final goal. Their selfishness undoes whatever prior work they put in to building up to the finale. The last touch of a scintillating run must be a pass because you pull too many defenders to you.
Lighthouse returned to its winning ways Tuesday with a 4-0 shutout of Pilgrim School.
There is something romantic, something poetic about slugging it out in a losing battle — if you don’t succumb to cynicism. Parents cheer on their players, who bravely mount a futile fight. Coaches teach the sport to beginners. You are playing competitive league, learning about teamwork, effort and excellence. It’s a game, so even if you lose, it’s better than doing homework. The odds are just overwhelmingly against you.
It is a poetry that Lighthouse Christian Academy, with historically low enrollments, knows well — on the football field, on the volleyball court and on the soccer field.
But on Tuesday, the romance of being the underdog didn’t belong Lighthouse. It belonged to Pilgrim, which staged an epic fight and skirmished rousingly but ultimately buckled before bigger guns.
The Saints saw themselves, for once, in the dominant role.
With the fleet-footed Turkish star, junior Erhan Meric, and with the big basketball star sophomore Justin Berry in goal swatting down shots like flies, with soccer machine junior Alex Cervantes and with danger-creating freshman Hosea Ashcraft serving up through-balls likes pancakes, LCA’s 2017 iteration is actually a menacing squad.
The Santa Monica Christian school’s team was powerful enough to compete against last year’s league champions, Newbury Park. On Jan. 19, they Saints shocked the big kids on the block, upending their hegemony with a quite unexpected 2-1 from tireless toiling, vision and belief.
Then with the rush of the mouse that roared, the Saints played against Einstein Academy Friday and saw their dynamism, their teamwork and their unbeaten record evaporate. It’s not far from the truth to say that Einstein crushed the overconfident Saints.
Tuesday was a chance to turnaround. To finish the article, click here.
With three consecutive wins, Lighthouse soccer was flying high — perhaps too high — when Einstein Academy knocked them down back into the Earth’s atmosphere with a stinging 0-6 loss on Jan. 27.
The players for the Lighthouse Christian Academy were ebullient as they entered their fourth league game undefeated. They were joking. They were confident cocky. They weren’t listening to coach. They weren’t concentrating.
After cooly beating last year’s high school soccer champs 2-1, what could possibly stand in their way?
Albert Einstein Academy for Arts, Letters and Sciences of Valencia had read the game record on MaxPreps and prepared for a formidable foe. “We thought we were going to have to give everything we had to beat you,” admitted the Einstein coach.
Instead, Einstein’s 10 club players and other assorted players faced a disorganized Saints team that hemorrhaged goals with a succession of mistakes. In the first half, Lighthouse held a deep defensive line on two free kicks, allowing Einstein players with powerful kicks to get within goal range with long airborn passes. The 50-50 ball needed only to be turned into the net.
Lighthouse managed the improbable win against Newbury, the reigning league champs, by working some slick passing. But on Friday, Saints players were selfish, attempting impossible penetration through a thicket of players with individual dribbling. At best, they would get past three and get caught by the fourth while an open teammate called for the ball.
Other mistakes were made by the Christian school in Santa Monica.
After a winning run that Coach Junior Cervantes qualified as “miraculous,” it was a crushing loss but not an undeserved loss. The pre-game glut of confidence was inappropriate.
As the Bible says, pride comes before a fall.
With only one club and one former club player… Finish reading the article.
Often, Brandon Montes overflows fidgety energy in the classroom. He’s drumming on the desk, snapping fingers, sneering at classmates across the room, clowning around. Believe it or not, through it all he’s paying attention too.
On Jan. 19, 2017, of an extraordinary week of soccer, Brandon was paying attention and put his gush of energy to good use. At left defense he was alert to a ball opponents were clearing on a corner kick. It was headered wide, out of the danger zone. It was coasting safely towards the line.
But solid defensive tactic fell apart because of Brandon’s energy boost and attentiveness. The sophomore ran up and smashed a low shot through a muddle of players that apparently blocked the goalkeeper’s view of action. By the time he jumped, it was too late. The ball went into the net.
“Whenever I see a ball that close to the goal, my main idea is to shoot it,” Brandon said. “I saw the ball was going over. I ran up on it. I heard Junior say ‘chip it in the middle,’ but I wasn’t taking into account what he said because my first instinct was to shoot it.”
Brandon’s effort was richly rewarding. His first goal of the season (and that from a defensive position!) was the winner. The Lighthouse Christian Academy beat the Newbury Park Gators 2-1. Brandon’s goal capped off an equalizer from freshman Levi Photenhauer in the second half to give the Saints the unexpected victory.
“I tried to do what I was learning in practice: keep my head over the ball, to kick a ball with power low and on the ground instead of having it blast into outer space,” Brandon said.
Brandon has played some untiring and intelligent soccer this season. He fights for ever ball and doesn’t concede anything. He runs hard and fast.
“Whenever I see a ball coming towards me, I have to get it,” Brandon said. “If a ball gets passed me, I get extremely angry. I attack it by any means necessary.”
It was Brandon’s long switch from defensive position that set up Levi’s goal.
On Tuesday in a game against Westmark that our private high school also won, it was Brandon at center mid that sunk a billiards shot into the path of Marcus Scribner to notch up one assist.
“I look for whoever is open and try to make the pass,” he said. LCA won 7-2 on Tuesday.
On Wednesday in school, students fell into braggadocio, boasting about their heroics and jeering teammates who remained so far goalless. Brandon searched for the words to defend his play, which had sparkled more than that of some of the goal-scorers. He decided to not answer their boasts. He had played well. His actions spoke for him. He would answer them in Thursday’s match. Finish reading the article.
Her father was, in all likelihood, executed for evangelizing in North Korea, and yet Kung Yu Sung wants to go to that closed communist nation to be a missionary herself.
“God has placed in my heart a great love for North Korea,” the 18-year-old said in a YouTube video. “My father was used there for God’s kingdom. I want to bring the love of Jesus to North Korea.”
Today, Yu Sung is in high school in South Korea, where she was granted asylum. Her father had been a high-ranking government official until he fell out of favor with the totalitarian dictator and had to flee to China with his wife and then-six-year-old daughter.
It was in China that he accepted Christ at a Bible study he attended with relatives, Yu Sung said. He was growing in the Lord and the love of God’s work when he was reported to Chinese authorities and arrested for being in China illegally. Then he was deported to North Korea, an ally of China, where he served a prison sentence of three years for leaving his native land illegally.
Meanwhile, Yu Sung’s mother died of leukemia while pregnant with what was to be her second child, and little Yu Sung was left alone in the world. She was adopted by a pastor’s family in China.
“They showed me great love and care,” she said. “Through them, God protected me.”
After her father finished his prison sentence in North Korea, he fled to China. “The time in jail only made my father’s faith stronger,” she said.
After a time of continued study in the Bible, he decided to return to North Korea as a missionary. He was fully aware of the risks, but he wanted “to share Christ’s message of life among the hopeless of his homeland.” He chose not to go to South Korea where he could have enjoyed religious freedom and lived more comfortably.
Instead, he went to North Korea to share the love of God in a dangerous land,” Yu Sung recounted.
“It breaks my heart to tell you that in 2006 he was discovered by the North Korean government and he was again imprisoned,” she said. “I have heard no words from my father ever since. In all probability he has been shot to death in public on charges of treason and espionage.” To read the rest of the story, click here.
Vanity lay agonizing in a hospital bed in 1994 with only three days left to live. With her kidneys shutting down after a crack cocaine overdose, Prince’s ex was at the end of her musical career and wild living when Jesus showed up in a vision and told her that if she “killed” her lingerie-donning stage persona and become a Christian, she would live.
“My blood pressure was 250 over 190. I lost both kidneys,” Vanity told Jet. “I had internal bleeding with blood clots on the brain. I was completely blind and deaf. I had a heart attack and a stroke.”
So Vanity died, and Denise Matthews lived. Denise performed a radical 180 degree turnaround in her life going from church to church relentlessly to share her testimony. She pushed Jesus even harder than she had pushed the free sex image cultivated by the “Purple Rain” megastar. “When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine — interview, every tape, every video,” she said. “Everything.”
A year ago on Feb. 15, Denise went to her eternal reward after two decades of kingdom service.
Denise was born on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Her mother abandoned the household, and her dad was abusive. Because of the hurts in her childhood, she hurtled into a hedonistic lifestyle that offered only temporary relief from the internal pain.
She immigrated to America to pursue a career in modeling and music in New York, where she hooked up with “Superfreak” funk legend Rick James, according to the Daily Beast. In 1980, she met Prince at the American Music Awards, and joined his entourage. Prince re-christened her as “Vanity” and set her up as the start in the sultry girl group Vanity 6 which burst on the music scene with “Nasty Girl.” Prince pushed her flaunt sexuality, she said.
“Prince created the whole Vanity 6 image. It bothered me at the time. I lied and said it was the image I wanted. I did it because he told me I had to do it,” she told Jet. “If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t get paid. I got into it. I wanted the old Diana Ross image.”
But behind the headlong rush into sin there was a little girl still hurting from the abuse of a father and neglect of a mother.
“I always put on a show. I’m a mighty fine actress when it comes to that. I would wear a smile on the outside and come back and cry inside,” Denise said. “I would truly hate what I was doing but I was all caught up in it. It’s like someone caught up in a lie who wants to tell the truth. You put this big façade up and you don’t want to give anyone the idea that you’re weak. I finally let it go and gave it to God. I said, ‘I am nobody. I need somebody. Please help me.’”
Along with the promiscuity came drugs. Denise became highly addicted to smoking crack cocaine. When she parted ways with Prince and Vanity 6, she signed for Motown Records as a solo artist and released two underperforming albums Wild Animal and Skin on Skin. She tried to jump-start and acting career with roles in the movies “The Last Dragon,” “Never Too Young to Die,” “Action Jackson” and “52 Pick-Up.”
Then Denise met and got engaged in 1987 to Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, who was also addicted to drugs. The couple abused entire nights and enabled each other’s habit. Sixx overdosed and nearly died the year he got engaged. “I can’t believe I did freebase with Vanity all night,” Sixx wrote in his drug memoir The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. “I threw her out at about 8 a.m. She was getting crazy.”
Then in 1994, Denise had her own brush with death and met Jesus.
“It was drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, that whole sexual thing. Vanity was praying to die because she was lost and hurting inside. God said you have to go through darkness until you find His light,” she said. “Torture was going on in my life and led me to the Lord. For 33 years, I was walking dead. I masked myself in clothes, makeup, anything.”
The fame and the “fun” were all futile attempts to cope with the lack of love in her life. On the outside she exuded delight in the reckless abandon, but on the inside she suffered from the pangs of conscience for the evil she was committing.
“I was extremely wild. I found out that if you are not walking with God, the Devil will possess you. I prayed that God would take me because I was afraid of what would happen to my body,” Denise said. “Demons were coming into my bed and sleeping in my bed. Those things will happen if you’re carrying on like I did. I have a strong love for Jesus Christ. He delivered me from anguish, death and sin. I get excited by God. No man shall enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
So that is how Denise changed her deathbed to a birthing bed. Jesus appeared to her in a vision and offered her life if she would let “Vanity” die. Denise was so thorough with her transformation that she even refused the royalties coming from her entertainment career. She assumed her given name. Finish the article.
At 12, Syracuse native Andy Mineo accepted Jesus at a Bible camp and experienced a love in his heart for people he previously hated. But without male role models and a Christian support network, he drifted away from God in high school and joined a secular rap group known as Fat Camp.
In his freshman year at City College of New York, Mineo met Grammy-award-winning music producer Alex Medina in a music class. Medina introduced him to hip hop artists who were Christians, and the idea that he could combine his talent for lyrics with love for God excited him.
Mineo renewed his relationship with Jesus, got involved with Intervarsity campus ministries, and gave up secular recording.
“I remember walking in one Saturday to the rehearsals they would have and seeing a whole bunch of people my age, urban, inner city, loved hip-hop, loved the arts, and loved Jesus,” Mineo said. “And I thought, ‘This is unreal!’”
Mineo released his first mixtape, Sin is Wack, in 2009. He drew a lot of attention when he sang hook vocals on “Background” for Lecrae’s Rehab album. In 2011, he signed for Christian label Reach Records and joined the Christian hip hop collective 116 Clique (as in Rom. 1:16), famous for being “unashamed of the Gospel.”
He released Heroes for Sale in 2013 and in 2015 Uncomfortable, which cracked Billboard’s top 10.
“With a mix of thought-provoking lyrics combined with encouragement and a range of beats, Uncomfortable is an ambitious and bold entry into Christian rap and hip hop that convicts, inspires, and encourages,” noted Chris Major of The Christian Beat.
Aside from his musical creativity, the pull of Mineo’s music is his “reflective lyricism, that connects with his fans through shared struggles, self-discovery and raw emotion,” according to Narratively. His sincerity about his own struggles with temptation comes out clearly in his rap “Tug of War.”
“It’s essentially me just sharing my life, sharing my failures, my struggles, my successes, my joy that I have in God,” Mineo told BillyGraham.org. “I hope what I can do through the music I’m making now is point people to this hope that I found.”
Mineo doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a “Christian rapper” because he’ll lose appeal among the secular audiences he’s trying to win to Christ.
“Excellence is the best marketing tool, and I know my music is excellent,” Mineo said. “So if people listen to it and just objectively they can enjoy it and say, ‘Wow, I like this. This is good,’ then they’ll have the opportunity to soak in the content and say, ‘Oh, he has a different perspective.’” Finish the story, which was written by my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.
By his own account, Chance the Rapper had turned into a Xan-zombie when his grandmother marched him in and prayed a prayer that left him wondering if it was a blessing or a curse.
Chance’s popularity was spiking as a young hip hop artist, but grandma was not impressed.
She looked at him intently and said, “I don’t like what’s going on. I can see it in your eyes. I don’t like this. We’re gonna pray,” she declared.
“And she prayed for me all the time,” he told GQ magazine. “Like, very positive things. But this time, she said, ‘Lord, I pray that all things that are not like You, You take away from Chance. Make sure that he fails at everything that is not like You. Take it away. Turn it into dust.’”
The prodigal son was thunderstruck. “I’m thinking, like, damn, I don’t even know if God likes rap! You know what I’m saying? Is she praying that I fail at everything I’m trying to do?”
But as he mulled over the prayer, and after he learned his in-utero daughter was diagnosed with atrial flutters, Chance decided to accept the prayer as a blessing and start to make his way back to God.
The baby’s health concerns caused him to “pray a whole lot, you know, and need a lot of angels and just see s— in a very, like, direct way. And…you know, God bless everything, it worked out well.”
God answered his prayers and daughter Kinsley Bennett was born without health complications in 2015.
The following May, Chance the Rapper dropped his third mixtape, Coloring Book, which streamed 57.3 million times in its first week exclusively over Apple Music. Featuring Kanye West and an array of non-Christian rappers, the album also includes some overtly Christian musings along with candid acknowledgement of sins like lust, addiction and pride.
In “Blessings,” he unashamedly sings, “I’m going to praise Him, praise Him ‘til I’m gone, good God!” and “When the praises go up, the blessings come down.”
Chancelor Johnathan Bennet was born and bred on Chicago’s rough streets. His father, Ken Williams-Bennet, is currently the deputy chief of staff to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and once worked for then-Senator Barack Obama.
When Chance got suspended for 10 days in 2011 for possessing marijuana in high school, he recorded his first full-length project, a mixtape titled 10 Days. After its broader public release, he won critical acclaim and made connections with artists and producers.
In 2013, his album Acid Rap was listed on many 50 best albums of 2013 lists, including 26th for Rolling Stone, 12th on Pitchfork’s list, and ranked 4th by Complex. It was also listed as one of NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums Of 2013, according to Wikipedia.
Then he moved to Los Angeles and began to spiral out of control. “I was just f—ing tweaking. I was a Xan-zombie, f—ing not doing anything productive and just going through relationship after relationship after relationship.”
He went back to stay with his grandmother in Chicago and get right with the Lord. In February 2016, he tweeted, “Today’s the last day of my old life, last day smoking cigs. Headed to church for help. All things are possible thru Christ who strengthens me.”
With its jazzy brass influences, men’s choir and Kirk Franklin-gospel overtones, his third mixtape, Coloring Book, sounds as vibrant and joyful as its lyrics. It’s a secular recording from a Christian man who’s unafraid to be sincere about his struggles, reflecting his growth as an artist and a follower of Jesus Christ. Finish the article.
Instead of being happy and fulfilled, Dr. Greg Lehman was always frustrated and angry – despite having an envious lifestyle that included ski trips, luxury cars, and a fancy home.
“I was going from one thing to the next: buy a new car, and when that didn’t do it, I’d go out and buy new clothes or take a trip,” Lehman told OTG Ministry. “I went though hobbies. I did triathlons. I took up wine as a hobby.”
Lehman was a proud atheist. He’d cruised through medical school. He ran a profitable practice, had a wife and two kids. Despite the accouterments of success, contentment eluded him.
“It was a combination of you’re sad, you’re empty. At the same time you’re angry, you’re frustrated because you’re like, ‘Why? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not fulfilled? Why don’t I feel like I have achieved what I worked my whole life for?’” he explained.
Dr. Lehman tried to mask what he was feeling inside. “You’re embarrassed. You’re not going to tell anyone. You keep it inside. So what you wind up doing is taking it out on other people.”
Lehman “took it out” on his wife and family.
“He was good but he had a short fuse,” his wife Ruth told OMG. “He was arrogant. He was always right.”
If he was irritable with his family, he was even more annoyed with his Christian neighbors, because he thought their lifestyle didn’t line up with the Bible.
Setting out to expose his neighbor’s hypocrisy, he began to arm himself with ammunition by reading the Bible. He would confront their inconsistencies with their own book.
Instead the power of the Word confronted him. He was dumbfounded by the Gospels’ claim that Jesus was God in the flesh. “That quickly got my attention because I realized if that did happen, it was the most important event in history,” he said. “I forgot about the neighbors and set out to find out if this really happened.”
After weeks of researching, he realized everything about Christianity hinged on the resurrection.
As a doctor, he tried to rule out options, weighing hypotheses that could explain away the resurrection: “The apostles stole the body. It was a hallucination,” he considered.
After carefully examining the theories of the naysayers he came to a startling conclusion. “None of them were credible. The only thing that could make sense with the historical facts of the way it was set up with the Roman guards was that the tomb was empty and He actually rose.”
He was impressed by Luke, a fellow doctor. To finish the article, click here.
The Saints wore down last year’s league champs with some pitbullish defending and electric running.
Newbury Park showed technical superiority and greater speed for the first 20 minutes but could not break the deadlock bolt on the Lighthouse Christian Academy defense for high school soccer. Sophomore goalie Justin Berry leaped like Superman to deny some power shots.
“We had no answer for your energy,” the opposing coach admitted. LCA came from behind to win 2-1.
One defensive lapse before the half resulted in the Gator goal, a powerful shot from just outside the box from an unmarked player. Aside from that momentary lowering of the guard, the Santa Monica Christian school worked hard to keep their opponents marked and ground down their superior rivals with sheer exercise of willpower.
Senior Jelove Mira muscled and challenged every defender and every ball to reduce Berry‘s workload.
The Saints had reason to be encouraged, down only one goal at the half. Coach Jack Mefford reminded his team that last year Newbury came from behind to win the game and urged players to get revenge.
It was the five-shot energy drink freshman Levi Photenhauer who latched onto a ball on the right side of the field in the box to cross it in front of the Gator goalie, tying the scoreline at 1-1.
Though undermanned with no substitutes, the Saints breathed a second wind and chased balls, hassled opponents, bodied and pushed the limits of permissive aggression to frustrate the Gators. Junior Erhan Meric wrecked havoc and created danger running tirelessly all over the field. Read the rest of Christian school Los Angeles story.
Jelove Mira had always been a gentleman. He played soccer like cartoon Chip ‘n’ Dale (“No, I insist, after you). Too afraid to crash into an opponent, the Lighthouse Christian Academy senior used to let any and every player win the ball.
Then, coach gave him some drills to improve his physicality, steel his nerve and amp up his testosterone.
No more Mr. Nice Guy.
On Thursday, some bearish defending helped the Saints defeat last year’s league champions, Newbury Park. LCA came from behind to upset 2-1.
At the stopper position, Jelove was hassling and harrying, tugging and shoving, stabbing legs around opponent’s feet searching for the ball, pushing the outer envelope of permissive aggression to clamp the Gators’ bite.
Oh, he was nasty and mean.
The formerly meek-and-mild student who appeared more apt for a placid round of summer croquet suddenly became the Abrams tank racing around the backfield smashing anything that dared to enter his turf. He beat players to balls and launched them back into attack. Read the rest of the story.
Samuel Pisar became a Harvard-educated lawyer and statesman out of the horrendous beginnings of a Nazi concentration camp. He eluded death sentences twice while watching hundreds of fellow Jews die in gas chambers. He escaped on a death march. A hardened and cruel boy, Samuel survived post-war Poland selling cigarettes and stolen coffee grounds. A French aunt from rescued him from the streets, and he began a new and completely different life.
In doing so, he provides a model for Christians trying to slam the door on the past: “I had to wipe out the first 17 years of my life,” he said. “I muted the past” and “turned to the future with a vengeance.”
When God made us a “new creation” and “born again,” it was to “wipe out” how ever many years were previously lived in sin.
It seemed like an ideal relationship to Rachel Ashley because her boyfriend attended church, but after 2-and-a-half rocky years, he dumped her. “He told me he didn’t love me anymore.”
The Filipina American Youtuber with 5.5 million views confesses she lashed out at God for the heart-rending breakup.
“It totally broke me and I ended up blaming God,” she said in a video. “I got really angry, and I started questioning Him, like, ‘Why would you bring someone into my life if you knew I would get so attached to him? Why would you let this hurt happen to me?’ I started pushing myself even farther away from God.”
She was in the 11th grade and processing the tumultuous shattering of her heart was no easy matter. But as she reflected about the experience, she realized the guy didn’t draw her closer to God, even though he professed Christianity. In fact, for some time going to church for her was only about going to see him.
She started hanging out with the wrong crowd and maintained a facade.
“I would just to go to church to be there, because my family was there,” she said. “It wasn’t necessarily for me. It wasn’t helping me in anything. I didn’t want anything to do with it at that moment. I was just too stuck in my sorrows to even be myself.”
But after three months of moping, she received something of an epiphany.
“All of a sudden I got like this revelation,” she said. “Wait wait wait a minute. I think God did this for a reason. Maybe He knew that if my boyfriend and I stayed together down the road we would be in some kind of crazy situation. God just sent a peace over me.”
Then God gave inner promptings to her spirit: “The reason I took that guy out of your life is because… Read the rest of the article.