Great burgers and Bible verses. But behind the In-N-Out aura was pain, loss and struggle

in n out heiressIn-N-Out is known for arguably the best fast-food hamburgers on planet Earth. And the Bible verses printed on the bottom of its fry trays and cups point their devoted customers toward heaven.

But behind the “Christian” company is a born-again president, Lynsi Snyder, who struggled through three divorces, marijuana and alcohol addiction.

In-N-Out-BurgerShe had a happy childhood and loved her dad, but when she turned 12 she realized dad’s “sickness” was drug addiction, a byproduct of painkillers prescribed after surgeries. When her parents divorced because of his infidelity, Lynsi’s world fell apart.

“It was really hard for me to see him fail and be weak because I knew how bad he wanted to be a good husband and a good father,” Lynsi recounts on an I Am Second video.

Then her dad, president of the burger chain, died.

She tried to fill the void with a quick marriage straight out of high school. When that ended in divorce, she hooked up with another guy. She was desperate to ward off loneliness.

john 3 16 in n out“It wasn’t right. I knew that, that small still voice was telling me don’t do this and I did it and I paid the price with a divorce and jumped right into the arms of someone else.”

Cast as the outcast in her family, she decided to embrace the bad girl role and started smoking marijuana and drinking. It was a move, she was aware, that paralleled her dad’s demise, and it worried her enough to eventually change.

“I realized that I’m going to follow the footsteps of my father and I’m going to meet an early death if I do not get right with God and follow him because the enemy just wanted to wipe me out.”

When her live-in boyfriend also quit the drugs and booze, she figured they should get married. Two beautiful children resulted from that marriage, but it too did not survive after six years.

lynsi_snyder_sean_ellingson

Finally happy with her fourth husband

“I couldn’t feel like a bigger failure at that point,” Lynsi says. “I just couldn’t recover who I was.”

Still lonely, she married a guy who only wanted her family fortune. He cheated on her and verbally and emotionally abused her.

“The first time I found out he cheated I thought I deserved it. I’m paying for it,” she says. “Never had I been talked to the way he talked to me. Treated me like trash. It was the worst time of my life.”

You could see all she wanted was love and appreciation but it just seemed like she was getting farther away every time.

“I started to believe the lies that I deserved that, that God is punishing me,” she says. “The things that could be said can cut you very very deeply and change who you believe you think you are.” Read the rest of Lynsi Snyder Christian.

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Her parents’ divorce led her to depression and cosplay. It got worse until God intervened.

dangers of cosplayFirst, Melissa T got into anime to escape from the depression over her parents’ divorce. Then, she began role-playing and assumed the attributes of a gay person with a person she met at a cosplay convention. Dipping into a bisexual lifestyle came next with her role-playing partner.

“I slapped God across the face that night and told Him I didn’t need Him anymore,” Melissa said on a 2012 YouTube video. “I went out with this girl. I turned bisexual for her. It lasted a month. A month down the road, I was really depressed. I was dealing with everything else, and I ran away from home.”

When the police apprehended her, what followed was a painful interrogation. Returned to her dad, she lost her phone privileges, was prohibited from using the Internet and was banned from talking to her lesbian friend.

cosplay la convention“I made a stupid decision to go against my morals,” she says. “In that time I was isolated, I slowly but surely returned back to my normal self. I was no longer this character. I just threw away his personality and stopped being him. I started going back to church.”

At first, she begrudged the church attendance her dad forced on her. But one day while she waited for her family to come out of Target, she was alone in the car and had a strange urge to pray.

“I was ashamed of what I did. I felt guilty for what I did. I turned away from God. So I felt that, ‘Why would God accept me after what I did?’”

The devil and the Spirit were battling for her soul, with the devil telling her she really had nothing to say. She relented and started talking about school and slowly made her way to the deeper issues.

“I was pouring out my heart to Him and telling Him how much I was hurting and what I was hurting about, and for the first time in my life — FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE — I admitted through my mouth that I wanted to be happy.

“For so long I was so comfortable in my sin. I was so comfortable in my depression. It was my comfort zone,” she says. “Because I experienced so much change in my life, I felt change was bad, that change was something that was gonna hurt me. So I didn’t want change.”

In her prayer, she realized she really wanted the change God would bring.

“I was pouring out to Him, and I told Him, ‘I don’t want to be like this anymore. I don’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to be crying every single night. I don’t want to feel like my family’s ashamed of me anymore. I want to feel accepted. I want to feel loved,’” she says. “I bawled and cried to God for two hours in the car.” Read the rest of From cosplay to bisexuality to God.

This changes everything in missionology

reaching parachute students for ChristWhen Howon Chun showed up at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, he was a confirmed atheist.

“I thought religion is for those who are weak psychologically,” said the Korean foreign exchange student. “Christianity was just one of many religions, and I was not really interested at all. I thought Christians were unstable and just wasting their time going to church. I thought the church was corrupt and only wanted to get their money.”

His perspective changed after a year of hearing Bible class and then voluntarily attending a Bible conference in Tucson with his host dad (who happened to also be his principal and teacher).

evangelizing parachute studentsHe was surprised by the thousands of people whose joy was evident. He decided he should at least re-evaluate his atheism.

If this many people believe they are saved by Jesus, how can I ignore what they believe? he thought.

“I liked their energy. I wanted to have a purpose in life like them. I learned that Christians weren’t weird. They have a loving community. They weren’t corrupt.”

Howon wound up hanging around for three more years at Lighthouse. He just graduated, acing the SAT math with a perfect score, and enrolled in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study business. Part of his college choice based on accompanying his host dad, who is planting a church nearby Pismo Beach.

Howon’s story upends the traditional missionary model of sending workers into the foreign field. Here’s a vein of gold. The Christian Examiner reported that 300,000 Chinese students alone enrolled in American schools in 2016, and they prefer Christian schools, regardless of their government’s atheistic values.

There’s much discussion about how the surge in foreign students, who pay higher tuition than natives, has been a blessing to struggling private schools (public schools have strict limits on the amount of foreign students they can receive).

But there is precious little discussion about making a concerted effort to evangelize them. Read the rest about evangelizing parachute students.

Famous cardiologist convinced of God upon reading dietary law in Leviticus

dr lawrence czer cardiologistThose same stipulations in Leviticus that make most Christians’ eyes glaze over are the very ones that convinced Dr. Lawrence Czer that God was real — specifically the dietary restrictions that must have seemed arbitrary and pointless in the unscientific ancient world.

“As I began to read the Bible, especially the books of Moses and specifically in Leviticus, I was noticing that God was telling the people of Israel to basically trim the fat off the meat that they were offering Him and to offer the fat to Him,” Dr. Czer said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, God’s a cardiologist.’ They’re eating really healthy meat because they trim off all the fat, and God really knows what He’s doing here.”

dr lawrence czer medical mission africaDr. Czer is an internationally recognized cardiologist. He is the medical director of the Heart Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was a pioneering researcher in the use of stem cell treatment as an alternative to invasive surgery.

For him, another convincing dietary restriction was the prohibition of eating blood, a “very, very safe practice because a lot of bacteria and viruses can be in the blood and you certainly don’t want to eat uncooked meat or poorly cooked meat,” Czer continues. “He was saying to drain all the blood out of the animal and to cook it well.

dr lawrence czer family“So I thought, ‘Well, He’s very health conscious too! He knows what He’s talking about. He’ll prevent transmission of infectious diseases. It’ll keep the priest healthy; he won’t eat too much fat. And you know, they’ll have a long life.”

So while atheists who revere science examine Leviticus for laws that appear nonsensical, Dr. Czer discovered that God knew about science before even science did and His dietary requiements made perfect sense.

“I thought, ‘This is really neat. It’s not just a whimsical or arbitrary set of rules. He’s asking the priest to do this in faith not knowing the reason.’ But obviously He knew the reasons. We kind of know the reasons now. Looking in retrospect, God was just looking out for his people. I thought, ‘These are rules for good reason, not just arbitrary rules, and He knows what He’s doing.’” Read the rest of Famed cardiologist convinced of God upon reading dietary law of Leviticus.

Nagma, Bollywood star, comes to Christ

Nagma-christianHer mom was Muslim and her dad was Hindu, but Nagma Arvind Morarji was born on Christmas Day so she identified with Jesus from an early age.

“Because I was born on Christmas, I always felt I was the chosen one and the world celebrated my birthday,” she said lightheartedly in an interview with Daystar’s Joni Lamb. “I was very intrigued with Jesus’ personality. I went to a convent school, so mass was compulsory. Somehow I felt He was my knight in shining armor.”

She catapulted to enormous success in Bollywood, India’s version of Hollywood, starring in such classics as Gharana Mogudu, Kadhalan and Baashha. She speaks nine languages and tried to make films in all her languages.

NagmaIn the last few years, Nagma has become more politically active, fighting against sectarianism – violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims as well as persecution against Christians and other minorities. She has worked for 10 years on behalf of the Congress Party because of her admiration for Rajiv Gandhi.

“We were brought up to respect all religions. Communal riots pained me,” she told rediff.com. “I wanted to do something.”

Nagma is also using her influence to fight female foeticide (abortion of female babies) that stems from a societal preference for sons.

“Demographically, we are going into a very critical situation because people are killing the girl child,” she says.

Born to a father who hailed from royalty and a mother from a family of freedom fighters, Nagma was encouraged to get into movie making by her step-dad, who worked in the film industry. In 1990, she debuted in Baghi: A Rebel for Love, which became Hindi cinema’s seventh highest-grossing film.

Even from childhood, she felt Jesus’ presence in her life. “I always felt He was my friend, philosopher and guide — everything,” she says. “It was a really close bond, but not until I got saved did I realize what my relationship with Him really was.” Read the rest of the article: Nagma Christian in Bollywood.

Liz Vice nearly died of kidney failure

liz viceBy Hailey Johnson —

Since the 60’s, Portland has become home to a menagerie of zany indie (secular) rock bands, such as Blind Pilot, Sleater-Kinney (led by Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein), and more.

But one artist has emerged from this conformity cloud to mesmerize audiences with another sound — Christian music.

Meet Liz Vice, the black Christian R&B singer converting Oregonians into provisional Christians with her luscious vocals.

A native of the Beaver State, Vice — along with her five siblings — was raised in Portland by a single mother.

During her formative years, she never envisioned herself as a singer but instead spent her days fantasizing about becoming a filmmaker.

gospel music liz viceAt 15, however, her inspirations came to a clamorous halt, as she was diagnosed with a severe autoimmune kidney disease that soon led to kidney failure.

For the next seven years, Vice faced dialysis appointments, hospital infections, heart failure and her own mortality.

“Instead of praying that I’d be healed,” Vice admits, “I was just so tired that I would pray for death every day. But every day I woke up, I decided to live that day to the fullest.”

After enduring all this, in 2005, Vice was favored with a kidney transplant, allowing her dreams to finally pick up where they left off. Read the rest about Liz Vice gospel singer.

Muslim teen found Jesus in America, ran away from oppressive home

fathima-rifqa-baryRifqa Bary convulsed America when she appeared on national television in tears, saying her parents would kill her for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity.

“This is not just some threat, this is reality, this is truth,” she sobbed. Rifqa had run away from home at age 16 and was taken in temporarily by an Orlando, Florida, pastor, whom she contacted through Facebook. Eventually, she was turned over the Child Protective Services.

The Sri Lankan-born Fathima Rifqa Bary came to America with her family to seek treatment for her eye, blinded by her brother. The family took up residence in Columbus, Ohio, and Rifqa attended school and participated in sports.

While she prospered academically and socially, she suffered under the stringent, oppressive brand of Islam practiced by her parents, she said.

“It meant that I learned how to read the Quran before I could even speak,” she recalled. “It meant that I learned how to pray five times a day. It meant that I had to fast 30 days starting at age six or seven, no water.”

Her nature was happy-go-lucky. She earned straight A’s, participated in cheerleading and track in high school and thoroughly embraced American culture. Her dad did not.

rifqa-bary sri lanka“I remember being joyful and happy and if I were too happy I would remember my father just beating me to the point where I went flying across the room,” Rafqi said. Islam “was so empty and I felt like I was caged and suffocating in rules and I wanted out.”

Secretly, she attended church with a friend from middle school and even dared to get baptized.

“I went and I had a life changing encounter where I experienced the love of God that captured my spirit and left me changed,” she testified.

She surrendered to Jesus as her Lord and Savior and was born again!

Eventually, her parents discovered her closely guarded secret. They found her Bible and realized she had been reading it secretly in the bathroom. Apostasy is considered a disgrace to Muslims, and the Koran stipulates death as the penalty. Her father grew angrier and angrier demanding she renounce her newfound faith, she recounted.

“He gave me an ultimatum and it was — kind of in his sick way having mercy on me — to return to my old ways,” she said. Read the rest about Rifqa Bary converts to Christianity.

Padina found God in Islamic Iran when her mom had MS

converts from islam iranGrowing up in Iran, Padina memorized the Quran before she started school. She faithfully recited her prayers every day.

“I hated Christians and I became very happy when I found out that they were being persecuted. They always told us that if they killed a Christian, we had a one way ticket to heaven,” she told Hormoz Shariat, president of Iran Alive Ministries.

She was fastidious about applying the Quran to her life. If she forgot the ceremonial washing before prayer, she would stop mid-prayer, go back and wash correctly and start all over again.

Christianity in Iran

“I was a very strong Islamic believer,” she affirmed.

But all her religious piety was in vain. She grew depressed to the point of wanting to commit suicide.

“I felt so distant from Allah,” she confided to Hormoz.

Meanwhile, her mother, afflicted by multiple sclerosis, grew deathly ill.

Padina confided to her mother about her suicidal tendencies. Instead of discouraging her, she shocked Padina by asking her to kill her also — a double suicide!

“I will do this for you, and we will both die,” she told her.

But then one day, mom in her deathbed tuned in to the satellite broadcast of Hormoz Shariat, who has been called the “Billy Graham of Iran.”

Hormoz Shariat“If you are hopeless, if you are oppressed, if you are planning to commit suicide, the Lord says, ‘Stop.’ He has a hope and a future for you,” Hormoz said on the broadcast. “If you’re planning to kill yourself, stop and call me right now.”

Padina’s mother was so desperate that she didn’t care that Islam punishes with death those who convert to Christianity. She didn’t care that the Koran dooms all “apostates” to hell. She didn’t care, so she dialed.

After conversing for half an hour with Hormoz, she repented of her sins and received Jesus into her heart with the prayer of faith.

Meanwhile, her daughter was watching from the kitchen with alarm. Read the rest of how Christianity revival in Iran.

Sex robots will only further degrade our society

lovedollsIf you worry about the broad esplanade of pornography on the Internet, you’d better don your battle gear for the next chapter of the sexual revolution about to hit America.

Sex robots — which are becoming surprisingly more realistic than the inflatable dolls of yesteryear — will unravel the fabric of society more than ever before, according to observers both Christian and non-Christian.

Jewish ethicist Barak Lurie believes sex robots will be a greater threat to young people than iPhones or video games.factory sex robots

“You and I will have friends — mostly male — who are living with sex robots. And they will appear to be as lifelike as you can imagine, and they will have ‘relationships’ with these sex robots because they will be as beautiful as they want them to be, they will be as sexy as they want them to be, and as submissive as they want them to be,” Lurie says.

Robots were supposed to do our household chores. Not this.

sex-robotArguably, smartphones and pervasive pornography have significantly unhinged male social skills and upended traditional courtship. Why “work” at impressing women when you have an endless, easy supply of them over the Internet, Lurie says.

He says sex robots will degrade the social fabric even further. “One of the greatest impetuses for men to produce and to grow and to be productive members of society is, yeah, sex,” Lurie says. “When you take that impetus away — that main impetus that we have to achieve, to try new things, to explore and conquer — then he’s just going to stay in momma’s basement.”

sex robots a christian response

James Young explored the theme on BBC.

Sex robots “will be worse (than porn) because they will create the illusion of a relationship, the illusion of actually tactile, skin to skin contact — which is very important for men,” Lurie warns. “It will give them the illusion that they are not just playing with themselves… that they’re losers.”

Sex robots — alternatively called sex dolls — will appeal because they don’t say no to a man, because they can’t accuse a man of rape or harassment and because they require no winsomeness to woo female emotions, Lurie says.

James Young is a BBC presenter who loves technology because robotics replaced two limbs he lost in a train accident. But in his recent documentary, “The Future of Sex | Sex Robots and Us,” he asks a disturbing question: “Could there be a darker side to AI (Artificial Intelligence)?”

sex robots christian response“What effects might having sex with a robot have on men who use them?” he asks. “Could they create negative behaviors in men towards real women?”

Those questions haunt Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and professor at the University of Sheffield, co-founder and co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics. The burgeoning sex robot industry unsettles him.

“It creates an attitude of too easy sex because it’s always available,” Sharkey notes. “Although I love AI, I struggle that we must try to maintain a human culture, what is meaningful to us. We’re doing all these things with machines because we can and not really thinking about the societal impact and that this could completely change humanity and take meaning out of our lives and turn us into zombies. Read the rest of Christian perspective on sex robots.

Remi Adeleke, movie star, Navy SEAL and trafficker

remi-adeleke transformersBefore Remi Adeleke was a famous actor, he was a Navy SEAL. And before he was a Navy SEAL, he was a drug dealer in the Bronx.

God brought about an incredible transformation in the life of the “Transformers” star.

Remi’s life spiraled downward after his father died in 1987. He had immigrated to New York from Nigeria with his family when he was five. Without a father’s love and guidance, he was left to himself. He liked movies, but the message to black men was mostly negative.

“It said you’re a young African American young male you need to be a hustler, or you need to be a thug or a player,” he says on an “I am Second” video.

rem adeleke show whats underneathAccordingly, he fell into stealing, running scams and dealing drugs as a young person in the Bronx.

But if movies hastened his journey into the “valley of the shadow of death,” movies also brought him through. When he watched “Bad Boys,” he saw black men who were heroes, not thugs. He began to re-imagine his self-image.

Then he watched “The Rock” by Michael Bay about Navy SEALs that lived heroic lives, running, gunning and saving the day.

“I was just blown away at this portrayal of men who were coming out of the water and going into this place to go sacrifice themselves and save others,” he says. “It really resonated and I thought if I was to ever turn my life around, that’s what I would do.”

remi adelekeA drug deal that went bad provided the spark to turn his life around. At age 19, he joined the military with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. There was one snag to his freshly forged ambition: he didn’t know how to swim.

He worked his bum off through boot camp, learned to swim, and qualified for SEAL training.

“When I wanted something, I would literally run through walls to get it,” he says.

He had reinvented himself, and he loved Remi 2.0.

“There’s not many jobs where you can get paid to jump out of planes and go after bad guys and protect those who couldn’t protect themselves — essentially be that guy who stood in the face of bullies and said not on my watch.”

During cold weather survival training in Alaska in 2008, he found a measure of solitude that caused him to think about his journey. Read the rest of Remi Adeleke Christian.

While in the NFL, he took cocaine. Today, Miles McPherson is a pastor

miles-mcpherson-the rock churchMiles McPherson wanted to see how they made crack cocaine, so he went to a crack house with a buddy.

There the NFL Chargers football player saw a skeleton of a man, dallying with death because of his addiction. McPherson despised him. “Man, look at that pitiful guy. Drugs is killing him.”

Then the God he didn’t even know spoke to McPherson: What about you? He was in your seat not that long ago.

mcpherson milesThat was McPherson’s first wake-up call. “I asked myself, ‘What am I doing? I’m in the NFL. I’m living my dream. And I’m destroying it.’”

Today, McPherson is the senior pastor of the Rock Church, a megachurch in San Diego with 15,000 attending weekly. The church focuses on reaching the lost through 150 specialized ministries.

McPherson was born to a nurse and a cop in Long Island. He was confident in his playing ability, even though he attended a Division 3 university he predicted he would make the NFL.

A coach mocked his aspirations. “He told other players behind my back that I was too small, too slow, too short. But that just motivated me to keep working.”

mcpherson marriagesOn his first year at the University of New Haven, the team had its first winning season, going 6-3. During his second year, the team was undefeated. In his third year, he was named “All American.” In his fourth year, the Rams recruited him.

“I didn’t know God, but I just knew in my heart that I was going to play in the NFL and that my life was going to mean something,” he says.

Almost as soon as he got picked by the Rams in 1982, fellow players introduced him to cocaine.

“It was one of the peer pressure things, fitting in,” McPherson says. “I was a rookie, and there’s about six guys in the room. I didn’t know what we were going in for, and they just pulled out cocaine. I said, ‘Oh man.’ But I saw everybody else doing it, so I thought, ‘This can’t be that bad.’ I knew it was wrong. I knew it was dangerous, but I lived on the edge.”

The first try led to addiction. Soon, he couldn’t stop taking cocaine. It became a futile, inexorable search for fulfillment through partying.

After one season, he was traded to the then-San Diego Chargers.

Then a fellow player shared the gospel with him. After a night of partying in 1984, he made the decision to call it quits to drugs. He retired from football in 1985.

“I said, ‘I’m done. I’m gonna give God the commitment I’ve given football, the commitment I’ve given drugs, the commitment I’ve given fun. I’m going to give God that commitment.” Read the rest Miles McPherson pastor of Rock Church

When his dad died, it wasn’t funny

Tim Allen the BuilderFunny man Tim Allen had a very unfunny start to his life that made him doubt God’s existence. When he was 11, his father was killed by a drunk driver.

“I wanted answers that minute from God,” he said in 2012. “‘Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is necessary?’ And I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my Creator ever since.”

He used drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism and then was arrested and convicted of felony possession of 650 grams of cocaine in 1978.

“Don’t ever sell drugs to policemen. They don’t like it, they tend to tell judges, people get you, and then you eat very bad food for a long time,” he wisecracked in an interview with ABC.

allen drug chargeAfter completing his two-year prison sentence, Allen was released and decided to get into comedy, which he says, “saved his life.” Shortly after that, he got a call from Jeffrey Katzenberg of the Walt Disney Studios saying they wanted him to become a part of the Disney family, which he found very ironic considering his felony.

He went on to star in various T.V. shows and films such as The Last Man Standing, The Santa Clause trilogy, Wild Dogs and the Toy Story trilogy (he was the voice of Buzz Lightyear). He was succeeding in the world, but he hadn’t dealt with his demons.

“For years, I just did not like this idea of God, church,” he said. “(I was) still a churchgoer, but constantly a cynic.”

As much as he wrestled with doubts, he couldn’t deny the incredible creation in which he lived. It begged for a logical conclusion.

tim allen lost his father and his faith“Whoever built me, this is too much, too weird that it happened by accident,” Allen said. “It didn’t happen by accident.”

Slowly, Allen began to open his heart to God as he saw His guiding hand throughout his struggles. He reached a point when he dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.

Sometimes Allen refers to God as “the Builder.”

“I always ask… ‘God what did you want me to do?’ But you got to be prepared for the answer,” he said.

Allen has received criticism due to his unflinching stand for faith.

In an episode from Allen’s sitcom Last Man Standing (in which he stars as Mike Baxter), Allen found an opportunity to incorporate Jesus Christ. Read the rest of the story about Tim Allen Christianity.

Snoop Dogg returns to Jesus?

snoop dogg gospel albumSnoop Dogg — the marijuana-smoking pimping gangsta rapper who’s cycled through Nation of Islam and Rastafari — says he’s now returning to his roots in Christianity. He just dropped a 32-track double gospel album titled “Bible of Love.”

“I’ve always referred to my Savior Jesus Christ on my records,” Snoop says in an interview on YouTube. “I would let people know I was a born-again Christian. Church is supposed to welcome sinners. If you find somebody trying to find their way back home, the naturally thing to do is to be warm welcoming, open your arms and say, ‘Brother, we accept you for who you are. We know you’ve been doing wrong but you wanna get right, so we’re gonna help you get right. We’re not going to throw stones on you.’”

e16cb1f8ccf7d2bda963eb2aee03dc72-snoop-dogg-taylorsSnoop, whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., took the hip hop world by storm in 1992 when he was discovered and promoted by Dr. Dre. His freshman album Doggystyle shot to Billboard’s #1 spot and earned quadruple platinum.

His music belonged to the controversial genre that brought calls for censorship for promoting violence and misogyny, and Snoop’s life backed up his words. He denied belonging to a Rollin’ 20s Crips as a youth in Long Beach, CA, but was once tried for the murder of a rival gang member (his bodyguard got off for self defense). He was in and out of jail for cocaine possession and other charges after high school.

snoop-dogg-bad-boyBut before plummeting into spiritual chaos, before rocketing in the rap world, before he became reviled and revered, the kid Snoop went to church with his family, singing and playing piano at the Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church. He’s come full circle.

Since launching his hip-hop career, Snoop Dogg has proven to be one the most enduring and successful rappers, selling 35 million albums worldwide.

Through the years and different albums, Snoop backed away the unsavory G-funk after his friend Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting and after his producer on the label Death Row, Suge Knight, was indicted for racketeering.

Marijuana smoking became his favorite motif and the signature of his music. He once bragged he smoked 80 blunts a day.

Always looking to cash in on shock value, Snoop claimed to Rolling Stone that, unlike other rappers who adopt a pimp persona, he actually worked as a pimp between 2003 and ‘04 and gave it up on the advice of fellow pimps to spend more time with his family.

He ventured into television and movies, including Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood and Dogg After Dark. He turned his acquittal of murder charges in February 1996 into a short movie Murder Was the Case. In 2009, Snoop converted to the Nation of Islam and publicly praised minister Louis Farrakhan. But in 2012, he converted to the Rastafari movement and, changing his name to “Snoop Lion,” produced a clumsy reggae album.

All the while, his grandmother and mother were praying for their prodigal son. They are elated by the announcement of his return to Christ, along with a gospel recording.

“Momma said, ‘God told me you’s gonna do this years ago.’ She been waiting on me,” he says. Read the rest of the article on Snoop Dogg Christian.

Albert Pujols thanks God for 3,000 hits

pujols-cardinalsAlbert Pujols, a pitcher’s enduring nightmare, just joined Major League Baseball’s elite 3,000 hits club, but his greatest motivator is his relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Believe it or not, baseball is not the chief ambition of my life,” the 38-year-old heavy hitter says on his website. “Becoming a great baseball player is important to me, but it is not my primary focus. Because I know the Hall of Fame is not my ultimate final destination. My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will.”

Pujols (pronounced Poo-hols) grew up in the Dominican Republic. A child of divorce and the son of an alcoholic father, he was raised mostly by his grandmother and uncles. He was so poor that as a kid he used unripe limes for balls and milk cartons mitts to play baseball.

pujols-plays-for-glory-of-godThe American sport was an outlet — and an American opportunity.

After his grandmother and father immigrated with him to the U.S., Pujols played for Maple Woods Community College for one year. That’s when the St. Louis Cardinals picked him up. After one year in the minor league, Pujols was promoted to the majors in 2001.

Within four days of the season’s start, he recorded 3 RBIs and one home run. By season’s end, he was named Rookie of the Year and averaged .300 with 30 home runs, leading the Cardinals into the playoffs.

The 9-time All Star became one of baseball’s most feared sluggers known for guessing what pitch comes next.

After 11 seasons of consistently slamming balls to the fence for the Cardinals, he signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2010 for a 10-year $210 million contract. Baseball buffs predicted the cash splash would bust. He was getting older and wouldn’t produce as he had in his younger years, they complained.

But they underestimated his “maniacal” dedication. He practiced obsessively and continued to whack the ball consistently.

“The one thing that is very understated about Albert is the sense of how hard he actually works at hitting, the studying of the pitchers, the actual time he spends in the cage,” former teammate David Eckstein tells the L.A. Times. “When the best player on your team is the hardest worker, it helps the club win.”

The-Pujols-family

With his family.

 

Pujols just became the 32nd major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits in MLB. He will rank with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez with those hits and 600 home runs. He’s also snagged two Gold Gloves and a Sports Illustrated Player of the Decade award.

If the U.S. gave Pujols fame, it also gave him something greater. In America, Pujols found Jesus, thanks to the love of his life Diedre, whom he met in 1998 and married two years later.

“I believed something was missing in my heart,” he says on a YouTube video. “In 1998 I decided to walk with Christ. I don’t just represent (a baseball club), I represent Christ. That’s the most important thing in my life. If you don’t know Christ… read the rest about Albert Pujols Christian 3000 hits.

Jewish atheist found God trying to disprove Him

atheism-to-judaism-barak-lurie-350x275All of 11 years old, Barak Lurie embarked on a Socratic quest to discover truth, concluded there was no God, and pronounced himself an atheist.

“It’s a very easy thing for a child to become an atheist because it is a childish philosophy. If you come to the belief that you can’t see, hear, smell or touch God one way or the other, and then say, ‘Well, I can’t see Him. Therefore, He doesn’t exist,’” Lurie says.

But at Stanford University something unexpected happened: while many students watch their faith wither away under the unrelenting scorn of professors, Lurie, who is Jewish, found God.

Surprisingly, it happened as he undertook an undergraduate honors thesis to document the wicked massacres of organized religion.

barak-lurie-atheism-350x335What his research found was that atheism was responsible for 10 times more killings than Christianity: about 200 million in the last 80 years.

Ultimately, Lurie, now 54, who is a profitable real estate/ business lawyer in a well-heeled Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, turned his undergraduate research into an Amazon best-seller, Atheism Kills, published in 2017.

Lurie was not raised in an observant Jewish home. While his parents believed in God, they didn’t impose faith on their son and attended synagogue only once a year, he says. His parents emphasized deep thinking and didn’t push him to replicate their faith.

“It’s not as if I read Nietzsche at age 11. It wasn’t any one influence that brought me to atheism. It was the lack of influences. Atheism is almost a natural state. If you’re not raised with God or Jesus, depending on your faith, you can easily end up with atheism in your pocket,” Lurie notes. “It was unique about me that I was very interested in God one way or another. I just chose not to believe in Him. I felt that one needed to take a stand on it.”

atheism-killsHe lived in Connecticut at the time and attended a “very good” public school, where they rarely talked about God, if only to mock Him. Lurie brandished “a very poignant, very deep atheism.”

“I was very into it. I could argue it. I wanted to find arguments for my atheism.” I pushed it by talking to other people about it. I would ask them, ‘Do you believe in God? Why do you believe in God? Isn’t that silly? Don’t you feel that God is just the caboose in a long line of other gods that were summarily rejected over time?”

His parents had a mild reaction to his lack of faith. “My dad felt that organized religion was detrimental to society,” Lurie says.

He journaled logical arguments against God and scoured Ayn Rand, the renowned American atheist. His atheism flourished ever stronger.

Then he studied economics and humanities at Stanford. Oddly enough, it was his choice of thesis that brought him back to God. Lurie set out to prove the famous atheist mantra; that religion has been responsible for the deaths of untold millions.

“I set out to prove it,” he says. “And as I set out to prove it, within two weeks of deep research I realized, ‘Man, I am really wrong on this.’ It was the weirdest feeling. It was an embarrassed feeling. I realized the information was right in front of me all this time. It wasn’t hard to find.”

But seeing that religion had been good and atheism had been bad throughout history didn’t mean God existed. He kept pondering and questioning. Continue reading about Jewish atheist turned to God.

Atheism Kills compares deaths by Christianity vs. deaths by atheism

Barak LurieThe next time an atheist accuses Christianity of being responsible for untold mass murder throughout history, point out to him that atheism in the 20th Century alone has killed 200 million people.

“Godlessness kills,” says Barak Lurie in his new book Atheism Kills. “Godlessness has resulted in far more mayhem and murders than all Judeo-Christian religion institutions combined. There is no comparison. Virtually every culture that has rejected God has collapsed or engaged in horrific mayhem. By contrast, virtually all cultures grounded on the Judeo-Christian tradition have flourished.”

Atheistic governments, seeking to impose their vision of utopia, feel compelled to eliminate any and all opposition, according to research from Atheism Kills:

  • The French Revolution: up to 40,000 deaths.
  • Stalin: 20 million deaths.
  • Mao Tse-tung: up to 70 million deaths.
  • Fidel Castro: up to 141,000 deaths.
  • Ho Chi Minh: up to 100,000 deaths.
  • Pol Pot: 2 million deaths.
  • Kim Il-sung: 1.5 million deaths.
  • Hitler: 11 million deaths.

 

killing of mao zedong

Victims of the atheistic Mao Tse-tung regime

The list goes on. “Being an atheist dictator advancing atheist doctrine has always led to brutality and killings,” Lurie observes.

 

By comparison, what is the tally of the bloodbath supposedly orchestrated by Christianity?

  • The Spanish Inquisition: up to 5,000 killed.
  • The Crusades: 1 million killed.
  • The Salem Witch Trials: 19 killed.
  • The Ku Klux Klan: 3,446 killed.
  • Religious wars post Reformation: 11 million.

 

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Skulls from Cambodia’s “killing fields,” victims of the atheistic Pol Pot regime

“Atheism killed hundreds of millions in the span of only 30 years,” Lurie writes. “The number of killings on (the alleged) behalf of Christianity (are) minor in comparison and ranged over approximately 800 years.”

 

Lurie decided to become an atheist at age 11 when he stumbled across the clever arguments atheists wield to crush. Then he went to college and rediscovered God through philosophy classes.

Fyodor Dostoevsky was instrumental to his floundering faith in atheism. The Russian novelist explored the consequences of atheism — the resulting absence of all morals — in Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

“It was he who first made me see the dangerous world of my own atheism,” Lurie writes. “His books show the consequences of living according to dangerous believes.” Read  the rest about Atheism Kills.

 

He was a monster. Now he spits for Jesus

KBKB used to be a monster.

Kevin Elijah Burgess dallied with drugs, gangs, fighting, trouble-making and women on St. Petersburg, Florida’s infamous south side.

“It felt very unsafe regularly. Ambulances were as normal as the birds chirping. Living with gunshots,” says Burgess, now 29. “Behind closed doors like many inner city kids, I was struggling. I was struggling with my identity as a man. I looked to dudes to affirm me that I shouldn’t have been looking to in the first place. What it meant to be successful, what it meant to be strong were defined to me by people around me, by T.V., and it left me in a very desperate, dark place.”

While inner city temptations beckoned him, Burgess was also academically adept. School was easy for him, and he was invited to participate in a pre-college program in high school. But the lack of a father undoubtedly contributed to conflicts in his soul, which led him to the verge of getting kicked out of the collegiate program.

That’s when he met a Christian who introduced him to Christian rap. At the time, KB didn’t know much about Christianity, but he thought he knew that God was opposed to rap. The singer on the CD had dreadlocks like Burgess.

kevin burgess“I’ve walked with the Lord ever since I got that CD,” Burgess says. He got his college degree, began rapping and caught the eye of the godfather of Christian hip hop, Lecrae, who quickly signed the talented artist for Reach Records in 2010.

Today, Burgess gets played on the secular stations and his videos are shown at the gym alongside the likes of Kendrick Lamar. He’s part of the movement bringing “Christian rap” out of the corner and into the mainstream with hard-hitting lyrics expressing raw pain and original musical arrangements.

“People are going to say, ‘These guys are killing it.’” he told Guideposts. “I’m not the Christian Kanye West. We’re our own artists and when we come into the industry, we have to deal with (being dismissed as copies of secular rappers). We have something to say, we have a style of music that isn’t just reproducing.”

His third album, Today We Rebel, released in October 2017 hit #1 on Christian album sales. It followed Tomorrow We Live from 2015 which hit #18 in overall sales in America. His track “100” snagged the Dove Award for Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year in 2014 and was a major crossover success.

His latest album features the song “Monster” which doesn’t mince words:

“Boy, I used to be a monster
I was tweakin’, had my mama goin’ bonkers
Yeah, you probably wouldn’t believe it
If it hadn’t been for Jesus
I’d be still runnin’ around like I’m a gangster”

Continue reading KB Christian rapper.

A different kind of success

josh young santa monicaStraight out of college, Josh Young worked for Veneklasen Associates, a transnational multimillion dollar sound engineering firm. He bought a house in Santa Monica for his beautiful bride and budding family.

Then all of sudden, he jumped from the corporate ladder and ditched his enviable success.

“I felt unfulfilled at the engineering firm. I wanted to make an impact in people. But that was not financially feasible until there was a miracle in my finances,” said young-looking LCA teacher. “My mortgage went down. Instead of saving more money, I decided to take a pay- and benefit cut to work for the church and school.”

Now, Josh Young is poised to take over the Lighthouse Christian Academy as principal, as long-time chief Jack Mefford steps aside to pursue his calling to start a church in Pismo Beach this June.

LCA new principalSome would say Josh sabotaged his own financial security, but he is completely happy with his decision for people over pay.

“I’m living the American dream,” he insisted. “Well, if it’s just money and moving up the corporate ladder, no, I don’t miss that. It was stressful. It was very demanding. I wasn’t happy. Coming over here to try to help people, I’m healthier, happier. I have more freedom with my time. I’m able to pursue more interests like being a chaplain.”

For two years now, Josh Young has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Lighthouse Church schools and church planting machine. He was ordained as a pastor in 0000. He teaches government, guitar, economics and history at LCA.

And, he’s a chaplain for the Santa Monica Fire Department, which means he gets called out of the office (or his bed) whenever there’s a first-responder’s emergency and has to be on hand for victims of fire or violence in the moment of shock when tragedy just struck.

“It’s a great opportunity to help people that are experiencing very difficult moments in life. Usually it’s a death or a near-death, some life-altering event,” Josh said. “They are alone or scared, and just to be a compassionate person ministering to them and helping them is a privilege.”

How did he get roped into the unpaid chaplaincy? As with most great things that great men do, his great wife signed him up.

“She worked in the Santa Monica UCLA emergency room, and firemen came by and said they were starting a chaplain program, and they asked her if her husband would be interested,” he related. “The next thing I know, I got a phone call and they wanted to meet and talk about being a chaplain.”

Getting yanked from bed for a 3:00 a.m. fire may not be fun, but he gets to wear a cool fireman hat.

Josh Young was a child of divorce. His mom moved him and his two older sisters to Santa Monica. This may be hard to believe, but he was a rebellious kid.

As a punishment for misbehavior, he was forced to go to youth group at the Lighthouse Church.

Yup, that was the start of everything. (So don’t despair, parents, when your kids are disciplined.)

Ironically, his “punishment” led to friendships. He was in middle school and started making friends among the Lighthouse youth. This led to him accepting Jesus into his heart and becoming a disciple.

When he was about to enroll in high school, his mom asked: SaMoHi or LCA?

The rest is history.

As a scrawny freshman, he took PE, which at the time was working out with the football team. Weighing less than 100 pounds, Josh had absolutely no intention of playing 8-man varsity football with all the kid crushers in CIF’s Southern Section.

But before he knew it, he was being handed football pads and a helmet and found himself, bewildered and asking what happened, on the gridiron with guys three times his weight running at him and looking to crush him like an aluminum can.

“Let’s just say, I wasn’t a starter,” Josh recalled. “The greatest thing I did was I stopped a two-point conversion.”

LCA was going through something of a purge at the time with a slew of well-behaved kids being expelled, so his graduating class in the year 2000 was a mere four students. (Josh likes to brag that he graduated among the top four.)

Among his God decisions during high school, Josh bailed on the estrogen environment of his mom and sisters and moved into Pastor Rob Scribner’s house in north Santa Monica. Read the rest of LCA’s new principal.

The meaning of meaninglessness

imagesActually, snorting condoms makes perfect sense. As does chewing Tide pods. Along with cutting.

After all, if there is no meaning to life, then why not engage in something meaningless? If an attempt to find value shows your stupidity, then all we have left is getting attention through stupid means.

Atheists will bristle at my mockery, but their insistence that morality is an evolved feature — along humanity’s unusual drive for significance — is absurd. There is no evolutionary sense of morality or man’s quest for importance. Deprive man of God, and you get teens snorting condoms.

images-1And please, my dear atheist friends, don’t tell the gunman plowing down schoolchildren that he is inherently or obviously wrong. What is obvious is that there are no morals, no values, nothing. That is all atheism has to offer: nothing. There is no noble sense to humanity, no purpose, no beauty, no humanity. We are just an evolved species, and the evolutionary economy makes no judgements on killing another animal: it is the way of the alpha male.

You have kicked God out of schools, so kids are turning to insanity to imbue their lives with some semblance of the significance you robbed out of life. Enjoy the fruits of your labors. You have been working for decades through the media you dominate, through Hollywood and through government to cast doubt on God, the Bible, absolute moral codes, eternity and significance. It is working.

downloadBut the end of atheism is not humanism — the betterment of humanity through human effort. The product of atheism is selfishness.

Are there any hospitals around the world founded by atheists? No. But there are countless ones founded by Christians.

This is not to say that atheists are good at nothing. In addition to specializing in selfishness, they are good at sniping at people of faith. It is their delight to wield logical arguments that ridicule the obvious, that all of creation has a Creator. I have seen friends fall from faith under their onslaught. I am not a perfect Christian, nor do I arrogantly pretend to have all the answers. But I know there is a God. And I know He forgives me of my sins and offers me eternal life. I’m not letting go of that. To do so would be surrender to meaninglessness.

Panhypopituitarism led to low self esteem and homosexuality, then Jesus got involved

panhypopituitarismWhen Ricardo Hernandez was in high school, he had the body, face and brain of an eight-year-old, but he never got bullied because his older brothers were in gangs, and they watched out for him.

Born with panhypopituitarism, which causes reduced secretions of most or all of the pituitary hormones, doctors didn’t think he would survive past infancy. Miraculously, he lived. But because his brain was behind his classmates, he failed all his classes. Lacking a special education program to help him, the teachers passed him along to the next grade. Also, Ricardo was tired all the time, a result of the syndrome.

Once at the end-of-lunch bell, a kid hurrying off to class bumped into him and knocked him down with all his books. Almost instantly, a bunch of gang bangers jumped him and started beating him up. Ricardo, knowing it was an accident, tried to call off his brothers’ fellow gang members to no avail. “They told me to get to class,” he said.

disability and homosexuality

Ricardo is 14 in this photo

In the 11th grade, his high school counselor finally put an end to the free ride and halted his graduation, suggesting he seek an independent study program. (Ricardo enrolled in continuing education later, when his body and brain caught up, and received his high school diploma as an adult.)

He had two major challenges: a slowly developing brain and chronic fatigue, which kept him from working. With not much to do but lay around most of the day, Ricardo became the object of unwanted advances by a cousin who was gay. Slowly but surely, he seduced Ricardo.

“I was very susceptible. I was very depressed. I had no self esteem,” Ricardo said. “I was also sexually abused by my oldest brother. He was homophobe but yet he did this act. Once I started, I went from being non-sexual to like going on a rampage. I was 21-years-old, but my mental age was 13 or 14-years-old.”

Ricardo started a relationship with a neighborhood boy that lasted for two years. Kicked out by his mother for adopting the homosexual lifestyle, he rented government-sponsored housing in Pacoima with his brothers-in-law.

freed from homosexualityRicardo entered the gay lifestyle for about 13 years. Then his mother died in 2012.

“When my mother passed away, it totally destroyed what little foundation I had, and I fell into deep, deep, deep depression. I was already depressed. It got me more into wanting to end my life. I was already contemplating suicide, but after my mother’s death, it was like, ‘What’s taking so long. Get it over with already. Take courage and do it.'”

Fear always held him back — even though once he took a whole bottle of pills to no effect. The cousin who had induced him into homosexuality was abusing drugs and attempting suicide.

“I saw how the family got around him. I thought to myself, if I attempt a suicide and fail and my entire family knows that I tried to end my life, one they’ll probably make fun of me, two they’ll hover over me. I didn’t want to feel that scenario. Waking up after an attempted suicide in my mind was the worst. It would be embarrassing.”

Then near Mother’s Day in 2015, a friend came to visit that had been heavily involved in lesbianism and Heavy Metal.

She knocked on his door with a Bible in her hand, proclaiming Jesus Christ!

“Wait a minute…who are you?” Ricardo asked, incredulously.

She said she had visited a church and during the song service, God spoke to her and she started weeping. From that day, she changed. She surrendered to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and found real joy.

Ricardo, however, got furious because he felt like she turned her back on him.

“I told her off and she took it like a champ.”

His friend stopped wearing black, changed her Mohawk hairstyle, and got married. She and her husband prayed for Ricardo and continued to visit him.

“She became a professing Christian, one who did what she said she did,” Ricardo said. “That shook the very core of my being,” he said. “But I told her that I could go to her church and read her Bible but nobody could ever change me.”

As Mother’s Day approached, his depression deepened. He planned to end his life when he visited his mother’s grave. He called his aunt — the closest thing he had to a mother — to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, but she retorted, “Are you on drugs?” He hung up and cried.

He left a message on his sister’s phone saying goodbye. She was in Mexico. “I told her how much I loved her. I told her I was sorry for everything.”

That night he went into his bathroom.

“God if you’re real, because I see you transformed my best friend and she’s a whole different person, I ask you to end my life, because I’m a coward,” he cried out. “I’ll be an embarrassment to my family. If you’re willing, I ask you to end my life. I don’t ask you for your joy, peace or love — or anything you have to offer. All I ask is just end my life.” Read the rest of panhypopituitarism.

After dropping out of partying, Mat Kearney took off in music industry

matannie1-350x233Skate-boarding teenager Mat Kearney spray-painted graffiti on trains and sold pot. He got into Cal Sate University Chico on a soccer scholarship but was a lackluster English major. Whenever his roommate wasn’t watching, he swiped his guitar and played for hours and hours — that’s how his musical career was born.

After shedding the vacuous party life and finding Jesus, Matthew William Kearney now has five top 20 hits on the Adult Top 40 Chart. He sings “Hey Mama,” “All I Need,” “Nothing Left to Lose” and more recently the haunting ballad about overcoming conflict in marriage, “Ships in the Night.”

d45f4838-11eb-41aa-8394-fe872d21df2c_575011_TABLET_LANDSCAPE_16_9-350x197“I guess I lived it up and did what everyone said you should do in college,” he said on CBN. “I discovered the depth of depravity, the bleakness of that lifestyle. It just wasn’t working. I finally started understanding there must be more to life.”

Kearney’s journey to success has been just as accidental as the misspelling of his name on his birth certificate that he discovered only in the eighth grade. He says the nurse got it wrong, so he spells it: “Mat.”

His grandfather ran a fake cigar shop in Rochester, New York, that was a front for a gambling ring. The mob shut down the business because it was encroaching on their territory, he said. This was during the depression, so Kearney’s father suffered hardship.

imagesHis dad served in Vietnam, followed the rock group Pink Floyd through Europe, and later became a lawyer in America. He moved to Hawaii where he worked as a deckhand on a boat and met Kearney’s mom, who was working as a mermaid for glass-bottom boat tours. They married and moved to Eugene, Oregon.

Kearney could roam freely as a kid in Oregon. He got into all kinds of trouble and loved soccer. By his own account, he “barely” was accepted into Chico State, which doesn’t have the highest academic entrance standards and is famous for being a party school. He received a soccer scholarship and was appreciated by his coach for intensity on the field.

But as he experimented for hours with a piano and practiced his singing pitch, he fell out of love with soccer.

A friend who would later become a music producer spontaneously asked him to go with him to Nashville, Tennessee.

Kearney could roam freely as a kid in Oregon. He got into all kinds of trouble and loved soccer. By his own account, he “barely” was accepted into Chico State, which doesn’t have the highest academic entrance standards and is famous for being a party school. He received a soccer scholarship and was appreciated by his coach for intensity on the field.

But as he experimented for hours with a piano and practiced his singing pitch, he fell out of love with soccer.

A friend who would later become a music producer spontaneously asked him to go with him to Nashville, Tennessee.

I helped him pack up his trailer and we put a mattress on the back of his truck. We basically drove cross-country and slept in the back.” Kearney said. “When we pulled into Nashville we slept in a school parking lot for three days until we finally rented this apartment where the roof was caving in and mice were crawling all over.”

Robert Marvin recorded with him all summer, and Kearney fell in love with the farmland surrounding the blue-collar city, so that’s where he stayed and made his fame. For his second album, he signed with Columbia Records.

It was in Nashville that he met and married his wife, Annie Sims, who was an actress but worked at Anthropologie. He was smitten by the Southern belle and wrote “Hey Mama!” after seeing her. Today they have a one-year-old, Olive. Read the rest of Mat Kearney Christian.

Only a year? Whistle blowers wonder why ‘lone wolf’ jihadist let off easy

derrick-thompson-isis-inspired-phoenix-350x175

Derrick Thompson, aka Abu Talib Al-Amriki

A Phoenix man inspired by ISIS to convert to Islam and carry out a lone wolf attack was sentenced to one year in prison and four months probation — a sentence so light that anti-terrorist groups were left scratching their heads.

“Only a year? What do they think this man will do in a year? Become a loyal, stable, productive citizen?” wrote Jihad Watch. “It is much more likely that, once his jihadist sentiments are reinforced in prison, as they will be, he will come out more determined to kill in the name of Allah than he ever was.”

Part of the problem is the nature of the accusations, which lacked traction under U.S. law and could only be prosecuted under Arizona’s tougher anti-terrorism law.

150504-simpson-soofi-mugs-712p_c5b7223332af13ff5941483ad1826807.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000-350x231

The fellow Phoenix residents who attempted to shoot up a cartoon exhibit in Garland, Texas.

Derrick Raymond Thompson, 31, who calls himself Abu Talib Al-Amriki, posted pro-ISIS comments online and tried to buy a semi-automatic gun. Investigators found no concrete plans to carry out the “lone wolf” attack, though it was speculated based on his Google searches that he wanted to carry out a shooting at a Catholic midnight mass on Christmas.

““We need to get down with this ISIS sh*t,” Thompson wrote on his Google+ account, which he titled “Talib Thompson.” Among the hundreds of jihadist-related Google searches police uncovered via warrant, Thompson looked up “midnight mass,” “martyrdom vs. suicide” and “Fatwa on killing civilians.”

In response to a YouTube video discussing a terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, Thompson uploaded a comment: “Islamic State is officially in America. The war has begun.”

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The assault on Garland didn’t go well for the attackers.

In the Garland attack, fellow Phoenix residents Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi drove to Texas to attack participants in an exhibition of cartoons about the Prophet Mohammad, but they were killed by a Garland police officer as soon as they arrived and opened fire. Muslims believe artistic renditions of Mohammad are acutely offensive due to his prohibition about making images.

The Muslim population in Arizona has grown to 120,000 in recent years and is projected to represent 35 percent of the state’s population by 2030, the Phoenix New Times reported.

Prosecutors called Thompson an “avowed jihadist” in court documents prior to his arrest in December of 2016. Despite being prohibited to buy or own a gun because of a previous felony conviction, Thompson approached a seller on BackPage.com in January 2015 in an attempt to acquire a firearm, a deal that fell through because Thompson was out of town on the day of the sale and the seller transacted with another buyer. Read the rest of Muslim terrorists from Phoenix.

Did Aaron Hernandez get saved before he died?

aaron hernandez thomas hodgsonBefore ex-Patriots star Aaron Hernandez hung himself in his jail cell, the sheriff was reaching out to him with the gospel.

“I did read the Bible,” the New England All-Pro tight end told Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, according James Patterson’s All American Murder excerpted in the New York Post. “The weirdest thing happened: I opened it, randomly, and it was all about me,” he said.

But before long, Hernandez’s defense team got wind of the growing closeness between their client and the sheriff — and they demanded a transfer to another jail. They didn’t want any ‘fraternizing with the enemy’ during the ongoing trial.

hodgson reach out to aaron hernandezSheriff Hodgson, a grandstanding God-fearing American, who styles himself after Joe Arpaio, wasn’t fishing for evidence but for souls. A zealous Christian, Hodgson believed that a high profile story of redemption would teach the nation’s youth the dangers of sin and the power of God’s forgiveness. But, after 18 months of chatting him up about the Bible, his progress got cut short.

When Hernandez, at age 27, was found suspended by a bed sheet noosed around his neck and tied to the window at 3:00 a.m. on April 19, 2017, he had written John 3:16 on his forehead. His Bible was open to the same passage. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

aaron-hernandez-patriots-christianHernandez’ meteoric rise to the top NFL team and his tragic demise following the murder of his fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend is a story of the hollowness of the American Dream without God.

Hernandez was an anomaly in football. While street toughs abound in the bruising sport, most of them leave the streets behind when they enter the glory of the gridiron. They have traded up for the trappings of wealth and fame.

But Hernandez didn’t transition. He had a 7,100-square-foot house and a $40 million contract, but he stayed loyal to his “hood” and thug life.

Hernandez relished violence and feared nothing. Together with Rob Gronkowski, they formed the most feared pair of tight ends in the NFL. While Gronk offered some of the stickiest hands and trickiest feet, Hernandez was the rampaging ball runner who was turned on by pain. To have either one on your team was a huge advantage; the Patriots had both.

Then in 2013, Hernandez was arrested. In April 2015, Hernandez was found guilty of the murder of Odin Lloyd, who dated his fiancée’s sister. Two years later, he was acquitted of a double slaying — just days before his suicide. Speculation abounded, but no one could ever ascertain why he killed or why he committed suicide.

aaron-hernandez-arrest-350x320Thomas Hodgson is better known as the tough-talking sheriff of Bristol County than as a Christian. He deprived inmates of TVs, reduced meal portions and sent out shackled prisoners to work in crews. He offered to build Trump’s wall along the Mexican border and charged his prisoners $5/day/room to help offset prison costs.

In Massachusetts where Democrats run deep, his law and order ethics resonated with many blue-collar workers and ran contrary to the elitists that ran the state. Was he politicking like Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff?

Maybe. But he was also genuinely concerned for the spiritual well-being of his inmates. To gasps of civil rights hounds, he ripped out equipment from the prison gym and made it into a spiritual retreat center.

Growing up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Hodgson was one of 13 children. He went to Catholic mass every morning at 6:00 a.m. and studied at a Catholic military high school before taking college classes in criminal justice.

The Bristol County House of Corrections in Massachusetts was under Hodgson’s administration; 41% of its population were defendants, according to the Boston Globe.

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Hernandez’s Bible, open to John 3:16 when he hung himself in his cell

When Hernandez was brought there, Hodgson took a special interest in his high profile inmate. He spoke frequently about him publicly.

“He had the world in his hands. His destiny was set for greatness, until he made a bad decision. And suddenly, his life changed,” he sternly warned eighth graders on a field trip to the Fall River Justice Center on Law Day.

But Hodgson wasn’t just capitalizing on the footballer’s fame for self-aggrandizement. Behind the scenes, he was genuinely interested in the condition of his soul. Taking advantage of his role as maximum authority in the jail, Hodgson began to meet Hernandez privately and talk to him about his faith and his father, who died when he was 16.

“There’s a saying my father used to always use with my 12 brothers and sisters,” Hodgson told him. “He used to say, ‘Always remember, God writes straight with crooked lines.’” Read the rest of Aaron Hernandez Christian?

St. John was losing basketball games, so coach Chris Mullin told his players about the time he was losing to alcoholism

NCAA Basketball: St. John at DePaulTo help his team snap an 11-game losing streak and stun #1-ranked Villanova, Coach Chris Mullin pulled a skeleton out his closet of personal failures and revealed his battle with alcoholism.

“Where do you think I was on this date 30 years ago,” he told his players, who were languishing in last place in the Big East Conference, lost in basketball oblivion.

The players, depressed in doldrums of dearth, responded mostly by looking blankly at him, the New York Times reported.

The answer? Thirty years prior, the millionaire NBA player was kicked off the Warriors squad and thrown into a bedraggled rehab with homeless winos, heroin addicts and crack heads in the middle of L.A.’s gangland. On his first night at the AA 12-step, after the speaker droned on about an alcoholic’s powerlessness to kick the habit, gangsters in a van drove past and strafed the church building with automatics. “Damn, I’m trying to get sober here, not get killed,” Mullin thought.

12-chris-mullin.w710.h473.2xFour years later, Mullin was on the Dream Team that swept the Barcelona Olympics. Fellow teammate Magic Johnson said of him: “When God made basketball. He just carved Chris Mullin out and said, ‘This is a player.’”

But to pull himself out of the mire, he needed to endure the month-long program of 6-hour group therapy sessions with uninspiring cast of rehab mates. Then he had to drive back to the Golden State training court and fight, humbly but forcefully, for his place on the team — a feat that five other previous addiction-afflicted players had failed to do.

St. John is where Mullin started his trajectory; he took the New York university to the Final Four in 1985 as a star player. His signing as coach in 2015 was supposed to restore glory. Instead, in his third year, the Red Storm lost 14 games, his program in a malaise of ongoing roster turnover as developing prospects transferred and significant signings fizzled.

Dream_Team_2_641x405But then in February, sophomore point guard Shamorie Ponds and crew pulled off the improbable: they beat #4-ranked Duke. Then, the impossible: they defeated Villanova 79-75 on Feb. 7. Suddenly, the nation was asking about St. John.

The story of Mullin’s life — and the story of his team — is a story of redemption.

The Irish Catholic credits God: “Faith is everything,” he told Organic Catholics. “My Catholic upbringing I rely on daily. If you live a good life, good things will happen.”

Mullin was born in Brooklyn. With a passion for basketball, he took the subway all over New York City to find the most ferocious competition. Frequently, the palest player found it in the African American neighborhoods.

“For me, going up to a neighborhood if I had a bad game, I might not be allowed to come back,” Mullin said in the New York Daily News. “That was real pressure.”

legends-chris-mullinWith his hustle, ace shooting and unwillingness to be intimidated, the young Mullin gave them reason to learn his name.

During summers, Mullin attended local basketball camps at nearby St. John’s University. Hall of Fame Coach Lou Carnesecca spotted his talent and saw his raw hunger. A relationship began to form, and signing for the school was a natural choice for the Brooklyn native. He won the Big East Player of the Year three times.

A first round pick of the 1985 draft, Mullin carted across the country to the Warriors. He was lonely and called home excessively. By his third season, his alcoholism was taking a toll. He was overweight and missed practices. Coach Don Nelson gave him an ultimatum: shape up or his suspension would become expulsion.

Chuck Norris began running from bullies

chuck-norris-war-movieWith a huge, swarthy bully chasing him, the tow-headed third grader ran home after school as fast as he could.

This was little Carlos Ray’s misery everyday in Miami, Arizona – until a gas station attendant stopped him and taught him to stand up to the bigger boy.

Little Carlitos trembled with fear as he faced his bully. The two grappling in the dirt for minutes that seemed like an eternity, and Carlos was receiving a walloping. Suddently, he grabbed his adversary’s finger bent it backwards. The bully cried out in pain and surrendered, according to the autobiography, Against All Odds: My Story.

chuck-norris-as-a-child

When he was known as Carlos Ray

That’s how America’s toughest tough guy got his start. The shy and intimidated little kid later learned martial arts in Korea, while he was in the Air Force. It was in Korea that Carlos Ray Norris adopted his nickname “Chuck.”

The martial arts instructor and actor, now 78, was born into a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father. He was part Cherokee, but that didn’t help him when his mother moved to Arizona and enrolled him in a school of mostly Native Americans, where the blue-eyed blond kid seemed easy prey for schoolyard tormentors. He was introverted, non-athletic and not very academic.

After high school, he enlisted in the Air Force as an Air Policeman in 1958 and excelled at martial arts, earning more than one black belt. He eventually founded his own school with his own brand of martial arts called Chun Kuk Do.

He was discharged from the military in 1962, taught in karate schools, and excelled in competitions. He won the Professional World Full-Contact Middleweight Karate Champion title in 1968, which he retained until he retired in 1974.

gena_chuck_norrisHis karate teaching brought him to the likes of Priscilla Presley, the Osmonds and the Hollywood tough guy Steve McQueen. McQueen encouraged Norris to try his hand at acting. He had already performed bit parts in The Wrecking Crew in 1969.

He met Bruce Lee and played the part of Lee’s nemesis in Way of the Dragon in 1972 and Return of the Dragon the following year. His acting career took off, with his biggest role being the thriller, Good Guys Wear Black. The film made $18 million in 1978. Read how Chuck Norris became Christian.

Black Panther cast is largely Christian

chadwick-boseman-michael-jordan-christianThe box office-smashing Black Panther is not a Christian movie, but many of its actors are men and women of faith.

“During breaks (from filming) we shared our testimony of how we got to where did and most of the people were testifying to God’s miracles,” said Sope Aluko, who plays Shaman in the movie. “It was almost like church.”

The Nigeria-born actress raised mostly in the U.K. was not the only Christian on the set of the superhero movie that is being heralded as a watershed for black actors to shed minor roles and stereotypes. Just recently, the film became Marvel’s third-highest grossing, sending a rebuke to the mainstream media which constantly stokes the rifts that supposedly fracture our society along racial lines.

sope-aluko-christian-black-panther

Sope Aluko

In the movie, King T’Challa is the Black Panther and learns to save the world and break with an isolationist past of Wakanda, a fictional nation blessed by a vibranium meteorite that gave it supernatural powers.

It can be seen as a parable encouraging Christians to break out of their four walls. But the movie contains elements of witchcraft; in two scenes rival kings visit to the world of the dead and speak to their fathers. One must distinguish movie fantasy from demonic reality and not be tempted to dabble with evil.

The movie’s title role actor, Chadwick Boseman, credited prayer with him landing the role as the Black Panther.

christian-actors-black-panther-letitia-wright“You pray for something and then it actually occurs, you almost can’t believe it,” Boseman told Hunger magazine. “When they called me it was surreal. I had already written about Black Panther in my journals as something that I wanted to do.”

Boseman is maybe less vocal about his Christian faith, but his childhood pastor from Welfare Baptist Church in Anderson, South Carolina said what Boseman is doing now is a continuation of what he was doing in the church.

“I just seen him mature, and blossom into a man,” Pastor Samuel Neely told the Christian Post. “He did a lot of positive things within the church and within the community,” Neely said. “With him singing in the choir, with him working the youth group, he always was doing something, always helping out, always serving. That was his personality.”

Bullied as a child, singer Jamie Grace now invites everyone to her wedding

jamie-grace-bullyingJamie Grace knows about being bullied.

Her eyes and neck twitched, her hand involuntarily hit her chest – all a product of Tourette syndrome. Kids in middle and high school made fun of her.

Once at a youth rally, Jamie Grace, a mere 13 years old, approached a cluster of guys. Her first crush was taking hold.

jamie-grace-atlanta-georgia“They were having a lot of fun,” she said in a YouTube video. “But when I got closer, I realized they weren’t just making any kind of noise and weren’t just saying anything. They were actually mocking me and mimicking me. They were taking their hands and hitting their chests and slobbering at the mouth and calling me a retard.

“All I wanted to do in that moment was disappear,” she added. “I just stopped in my tracks. This was the worst. It was overwhelming.”

When she was a new adult walking around a mall, she saw teenie boppers pointing fingers at her and taking out cell phones to film her tics.

“Here I am like 19 or 20 years old running from girls in the mall because I was so overwhelmed and frustrated,” she said. “I was trying to get away. I was so embarrassed.”

jamiegrace-and-adele_

Adele was wowed by her voice

Today, Jamie Grace Harper is a Christian pop singer, whose “Hold Me” featuring Toby Mac earned her a 2012 Grammy nomination and a Dove Award for New Artist of the Year. The Los Angeles-based singer is using her fame to fight bullying.

“Throughout “my middle and high school years, I would deal with a lot of people bullying me because of my Tourette’s Syndrome and because of having been homeschooled. It was a difficult thing to face,” she said. “There was never any hardcore bullying like kids hitting me or putting me in a dumpster, but anything where someone treats you badly, it hurts.”

Jamie-grace-and-toby-mac

Jamie Grace and Toby Mac have parted ways

The solution for the victim? There are truths in being a “bigger person” to not take the cruelties to heart. There is emotional release in understanding that “hurt people hurt people,” she said.

But ultimately, she realized one needs to find acceptance in God.

“How do we recover? I believe I was created by the same God who created the mountains and the seas. I know that when I chose to focus on the rude teenager who called me retarded, I can get easily defeated and roll my eyes and watch a Law and Order marathon and not leave my room. But I instead choose to focus on what He thinks of me.

Jamie-grace-engaged-aaron-collin

Once she thought she never could be loved. Now she’s engaged to Aaron Collins and invites everybody to her wedding.

“There is Someone greater and more powerful whose words mean so much more. No matter what they say or do, realize that you are not their words. No human has the power to define your worth. Find your worth in the words of Someone greater, and know that your value has been established by Someone so much greater.

“It doesn’t matter who you are but whose you are. Find your identity in Christ, not about what other people say about you, not what billboards say you should look like. You were made in His image. Psalms says, ‘You are beautifully and wonderfully made.’”

Jamie Grace was born into a Christian family in the Stone Mountain suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Her dad was the jazz-playing pastor of the smallish Kingdom City Church, where the family showed a lot of love to people. She was precocious and breezed through school. But since she was sometimes isolated, she turned to the guitar.

Her talent was evident. Starting in 2006, she posted videos of herself on YouTube – and bullying reared its ugly head there too. In the comments, 50 of 70 were insults about her Tourette syndrome, being female and being African American.

“It does get to you. It does hurt us,” she remembered. “It’s irritating and agitating and it’s evil and it’s cruel.

Comments assured her she would never succeed in the music industry.

Then in 2010, Toby Mac saw her videos and signed her for his label, Gotee Records. Her career catapulted.

“Hold Me” was the first of slew of hits that got played widely on Christian radio stations. With happy-go-lucky lyrics and a candy-apple voice, Jamie Grace fused hip-hop, folk and pop to wow audiences.

In 2016, Adele called her out of the audience up onto the stage. Jamie Grace sang “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” earning Adele’s admiration. Read the rest of Jamie Grace on bullying.

Christian poet Les Murray, ranked among the greatest, rose from a painful past

les-murray-and-wifeOut of “enforced poverty” in the Australian hinterland, out of schoolyard bullying, out of the raw pain of his mother’s untimely death and his father’s subsequent breakdown, Les Murray discovered he had an unmatched gift, the gift of poetry, which he dedicates in his volumes “to the glory of God.”

Today, Murray is heralded as one of the top four living English poets (the Atlantic ranks him as #1), and against the hurricane of God-hostile universities, artists and media influencers, Murray deploys his farmer wit and grit, his expansive genius and his poetic dexterity to provide a Herculean push back: Those “who lose belief in God will not only believe in anything. They will bring blood offerings to it.”

Les-MurrayThe 79-year-old has published about 30 volumes over 40 years and opened a center of gravity to counter what Psalm 2 describes as the “raging heathens.”

Born in Nabiac of Australia’s New South Wales to Scottish immigrant lineage, Murray grew up roaming the countryside, glorying in its surreal beauty, at once punishing and spectacular. He and his family lived in a plank hut with linoleum applied directly to the hard dirt floor. They raised cattle and cut timber. More often than not, Murray walked around barefoot, not by choice but because of financial constraints that he blames on the share-cropper conditions imposed by his grandfather on his parents. He was “kept poor.”

He didn’t receive a formal education until he was nine, at which time he was ridiculed in school for being overweight. Specifically, when he was a teenager, girls taunted him, pretending to make a sexual insinuation only to suddenly disappoint him and giggle at his awkward mortification. It became a cruel sport they engaged against an easy scapegoat, and it branded him an outsider for the rest of his life.

“I’ve always known that I was a subhuman redneck. We were told that early in life,” he told ABC news. “Kids who wore the school uniform, to them we were subhuman. They laughed openly at us.”

If school was nightmarish, worse demons arose at home. His mother died when he was 12 after a string of miscarriages. His father fell into a breakdown, and the young Murray felt guilty for his mother’s death while he was saddled with taking care of his father.

les-murray-as-a-babyWhen he attended in 1957 the University of Sydney, Murray felt unleashed from these burdens.

“My Mum died and my father collapsed. I had to look after him, so I was off the chain at last,” he said in Wikipedia. “I was in Sydney and I didn’t quite know how to do adulthood or teenage. I was being coltish and foolish and childlike. I received the least distinguished degree Sydney ever issued. I don’t think anyone’s ever matched it.”

He befriended some of the cultural elites he would later repudiate; he was appalled by their snobbish self-righteousness and moral morass.

Murray liked languages and cut through them as Japanese steel slices butter. He also was drawn to poetry. He devoured all of Milton in one weekend when he was 16. Hopkins and Eliot remain a strong influence.

His preponderant intellect is ballasted by his poor-born earthiness. He can “read more than 20 languages, and lift the back of a motorcar by hand,” according to his biographer, Peter Alexander.

6817608-3x2-940x627Playing Satan in a passion play at college, he met the girl who became in 1962 his wife, an immigrant from Budapest named Valerie Morelli. At was at this time that he adopted Catholicism as his Christian branch of choice. The couple have five kids. After traveling Europe, the couple resettled in Australia – ultimately deciding in 1985 to reside in his native Bunyah Valley where he wandered as a child.

After some early years working as a translator, Murray dedicated himself completely to poetry. His oeuvre includes so much natural terrain that it’s tempting to classify him with the pastoral poets, but Murray transcends the genre with a keen biologist’s eye.

If Romans says the creation of the world reveals God, Murray turns a keen eye and ear to discern God in multifaceted flora and fauna.

In “Bat’s Ultrasound,” Murray mimics the bats radar chirps with English words. It’s an inversion of “Jabberwocky” in which Lewis Carroll makes up words so that they sound like English; here Murray uses vowel-heavy words focusing on air (the bats medium). Confounding the reader, Murray ends the poem by mentioning “Yahweh.” He is saying that he hears God even in the bat’s cry.

In “The Craze Field,” Murray takes his reader to the crackled dry lakebeds and drought-stricken watercourses of Australia. In the parched sand, he evokes the badlands of the Dead Sea and descries ancient texts: Those “who lose faith in God will not only believe in anything. They will bring blood offerings to it.”

The quote is from G.K. Chesterton, the WWII-era British luminary who blew the whistle on Europe’s slide into atheism and consequent moral rankle. With no moral moorings, socialist countries massacred millions.

The delight of poetry is searching for its meaning, much like a Where’s Waldo book satisfyingly entertains those who pour over its vast cartoons looking for the red-capped Waldo. When you look up all the words and research the allusions, you thrill at the “Aha!” moment.

Murray, however, is anything but inscrutable. As a matter of fact, he has waged war on his post-modernist contemporaries not only for their skepticism but for their inaccessibility. From T.S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland” onward, post-modern poets have prided themselves on the ample use of Latin and esoteric allusions that leave their poems well beyond the comprehension of everyday readers.

This is where Murray stays true to his roots. Stung by condescending peers, he grounds himself firmly in the wisdom and words of common folk, the aboriginals and poor whites of the Australian bush.

Murray is the push back from the Outback.

To call Murray a Christian poet is inaccurate. He is a poet who happens to be Christian. Not all of his poems exude didacticism. He takes up all the styles and subjects of poetry; in his repertoire there are bawdy poems and poems about depression. They’re not pretty ditties good for illustrating sermons; they are pieces of art that weigh the good, the bad and the ugly of life.

Somewhere between grievance and grief, Murray found God. But as an honest poet, he’s no pretender. He’s courageously and candidly spelunking into mental caverns. His 2009 book Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir of Depression combines prose and poetry to sort through years of grappling with crippling negativism. It features Freddy Neptune, his depressive alter ego.

His most recent bout with depression was provoked by an old fellow student who came to his poetry reading in New South Wales. He had just turned 50, and she playfully reminded him of her torments, recalling one of the barbs with which she had pierced him three decades earlier.

Murray landed in the hospital and languished through two years of darkness. He suffered 3-4 panic attacks daily and couldn’t muster the energy to rise from bed to go into the other room to get a book. He took Xanax to blunt depression’s edge following his emergence from a coma brought on by liver disease.

After that brush with death, Murray decided reclaim his congenial spirits and to kill “the black dog,” Winston Churchill’s name for the mental disorder. He now thinks he suffers from Asperger’s. Continue reading Les Murray Christian poet.

Christian actor Denzel Washington portrays evil characters as a lesson

 

denzel-washington-handsomestEven as a child of the Light, Denzel Washington hasn’t shied away from playing children of darkness, and his latest collaboration with Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy is no exception – even as it carries a warning to avoid the enticements of evil.

“God put us together,” Washington told the Gospel Herald. “We prayed every day, we read the daily Word every day. Dan and I have been prayer partners in this whole collaboration. We were on the same page from day one. We know Who we work for, and we’re just trying to do our best work.”

Washington is a vocal Christian, whereas Gilroy maintains a low profile regarding his faith.

In the film Roman J. Israel, Esq., Washington plays a bumbling, autistic lawyer, who is a law genius but socially awkward. The crux of the plot centers on the moment when Israel loses his idealism and sells out to become rich. As cynicism takes over, his life spirals downward.

Just before he’s killed by a rival’s henchmen, he sees how his life, before giving up self-sacrificing heroics, impacted others positively. The movie is a parable to anyone who has quit pursuing noble goals, whether a disgraced pastor or 1960s activist.

denzel-washington-christian-roman-j-israelThe son of a Pentecostal preacher in New York, Washington once considered becoming a pastor, but he decided he could reach more people through his acting. That might seem an odd choice since his father didn’t let him watch movies as a kid, but Washington found that his gift for acting was given by God.

“I speak now and I’m doing what God told me to do from the beginning,” Washington said. “It was prophesied that I would travel the world and preach to millions of people. It was prophesied when I was 20. I thought it was through my work and it has been. I’m all about the message, to the degree that I know it, and I’m unashamed and unafraid to share it.”

Pastor A.R. Bernard, senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, helped him understand his calling, Washington said. Pastor Bernard spoke to him from Daniel chapter 10: “God puts leaders in place for a reason and a season… There’s a reason, you may not like what’s going on but the Boss has a reason.”

The 62-year-old actor has won two Academy Awards and has a long list of credits dating back to the 1970s that include Cry Freedom and Malcom X. While filming a T.V. movie, Washington met Pauletta Pearson, whom he married in 1983. The couple reside in Los Angeles and have four children.

About his latest role, Washington said he was drawn to the moral and psychological complexities of Israel.

“He is Old Testament, he knows the law, but, not to say he doesn’t have faith, but he has faith in the law,” he said. “His conviction was through the law.”

If he doesn’t balk at depicting evil on the screen, Washington also doesn’t falter from being a spokesperson for clean-living and loving God. Read the rest of Denzel Washington Christian.

At long last revival comes to Spain

559662fb0e300_557effad207e6_marcha9There was a time, during the reign of Franco, when Spain was arguably more Catholic than Italy. Evangelicals were forbidden to evangelize, meet outside their homes or print religious materials. Nevertheless a small band of fervent faith grew mostly in the independent region of Barcelona.

But now, the country – technically and symbolically part of the so-called 10-40 window most resistant to the Gospel – is experiencing unprecedented revival. Two new churches open every three weeks, and there are now 4,045 houses of worship, according to a new survey.

franco persecution of christians

Franco

More than 80 new places of worship opened in the last six months of 2017, according to the bi-annual report of the Observatory of Religious Pluralism of Spain’s Justice Ministry.

The growth is being consistently sustained, according to Maximo Alvarez, head of In Depth Evangelism in Spain.

“The figures keep growing thanks to initiatives of church planting that are being carried out by churches and denominations,” Alvarez told Christian Today.

Spain had been slow to catch on to the trend in Latin America, its former colonies, where the Gospel has spread like wildfire. From 1900 to 1960, 90 percent of Latin Americans identified as Catholics, but according to Pew Research the number has fallen to 69 percent. One in five Latin Americans consider himself Protestant.

marcos vidal

Marcos Vidal, Spanish Christian singer

Meanwhile, Muslim houses of worship also grew to nearly 1700 in Spain.

Historically, Spain was hostile to the Gospel. While England, Germany, France and Switzerland experienced the Protestant Reformation, Spain sponsored the Inquisition to stamp out similar movements with appalling tortures and lynchings.

Then, Francisco Franco took over in 1939. While officially neutral in World War 2, the dictator was fascist friendly. Political opposition was squelched mercilessly.

Franco was also deeply Catholic and actively repressed evangelical movements. It was said, “Franco was more Catholic than the Pope himself.” Religious “freedom” under Franco meant Christian evangelicals were only allowed to conduct church services in their homes, even with their own families. No visitors were allowed. Read the rest of revival in Spain.

Joy Villa loves controversy and babies

Joy_Villa_pro-life_dressJoy Villa always turns heads at the Grammy’s, but in January observers wondered if she went too far, too political, when she sported a white gala dress hand-painted with an 8-month-old fetus surrounded by a rainbow womb with the words on her matching purse: “Choose Life.”

make-america-great-againVilla — who among entertainers was a rare supporter of Trump with a “Make America Great Again” evening gown in the 2017 Grammys — shared that her motive to brazenly flout normative Hollywood politics was that she herself, pregnant at 20, alone and frightened, made the “most difficult and important decision of my life,” she wrote for Fox News. “I decided to carry my baby to term and then give her up for adoption to a loving family. I put her life over mine. It wasn’t easy. Every day was a struggle.”

Today Villa has an estimated net worth of $3 million. Her song (non-Christian) “I make the static” spiked charts at #1 after her MAGA/Trump publicity stunt. She lives comfortably in New York with her husband, Danish photographer Thorsten Overgaard.

But her life wasn’t always gold and glitter.

joy-villa-and-ivanka-trump“I was penniless, far from home and trapped in an abusive, toxic relationship with a man who had become a shadow of what he once was,” Villa wrote. “At 19 I fell in love with an older man who was very kind hearted with a good heart, but once he began using drugs our relationship quickly became a nightmare. The same arms that once held and protected me were weaponized; night after night, I’d hide in a corner, terrified of being beaten.”

She worked in entertainment but hadn’t achieved success, so she found herself at the mercy of a merciless man. When the contraception failed, she found herself in a clinic with a nurse pressuring her to avail herself of the easy escape.

“She told me, ‘We can do it now, it’ll make it all go away. I’ve had several abortions, in fact all three of my daughters have had several. You are too young to have kids. This is the best choice for you,'” Villa shared. “I had never considered abortion, I wanted to stay and make things right with the father, to have a real family. (The nurse) had already made my choice for me.”

The pressure from a “medical professional” warped her mind.

“I couldn’t stop crying: I had a beautiful baby growing inside of me,” Villa recalled. “For many women, becoming pregnant is a dream come true, but I was overcome with guilt, agony and shame.”

But Villa gathered courage to defy the urgings of so many people. Read the rest of Joy Villa abortion.

Even greater glory after Super Bowl for Nick Foles

Nick-Foles-JesusImprobably, second string quarterback Nick Foles carried the Philadelphia Eagles to lofty heights with their first ever Super Bowl championship. But he may soar to even greater heights after he retires.

Foles, a born-again Christian, wants to be a first string pastor.

“I wanted to be a pastor in a high school. It’s on my heart,” Foles told the AP. “I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I want to continue to learn and challenge my faith. It’s a challenge because you are writing papers that are biblically correct. You want to impact people’s hearts.”

nick-foles-mvpFoles — and the Eagles — were somewhat of the underdogs of this year’s permutation of football glory. Not many thought they could out-pass Tom Brady or out-fox the Coach Bill Bellichick. After all, it’s no fluke that Brady and the Patriots have won five Super Bowls.

And when first-string QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL in the playoffs, there were those who saw the Eagles falling to earth with no more wind in their feathers.

In stepped Foles. He humiliated the Vikings to clinch the NFC conference championship.

nick-Foles-wife-Tori-Moore-FolesThen he squared off with Brady, the QB famous for making NFL players look like a gaggle of high schoolers. He faced him calmly.

“I felt calm,” he said in CBN. “We have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff. We’re very blessed.”

Then Foles executed an audacious pass reception for a TD. It was a trick play. But what silenced his detractors was the fact that Brady had just attempted basically the same play — and failed. The king of the gridiron bumbled the ball.

Did Foles intentionally mock Brady, succeeding where the Master had fallen?

Whatever the motive, Foles was named MVP of the game. He also earned bragging rights: He became the first QB to pass and receive touchdown passes in a Super Bowl.

He bested Brady 41-33 and bagged the bragging rights.

But he isn’t bragging: “All glory to God,” he said. Read the rest about Nick Foles Christian.

Bitty & Beau’s: a coffee house that employs special needs people

cnn-hero-amy-wright-super-They starred on Broadway, but their most celebrated roles came later as parents of two Down Syndrome kids, for whom they opened a coffee house.

Amy and Ben Wright — deacons at the Wilmington, NC, First Baptist Church — launched Bitty & Beau’s Coffee specifically to employ people like their children, workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The Wrights have become a national sensation, winning CNN’s Heroes of the Year, after being featured on national news. But their trajectory towards canonization was marked by emotional turmoil and disgrace.

cnn-hero-amy-wright“There was just an enormous amount of grief — it was like I was grieving the son I thought I was going to have,” Amy told Baptist News about the turmoil of disappointment before Beau’s birth. “When we learned about Beau’s diagnosis I felt so sad and overwhelmed.

“We are so embarrassed about that now,” she added to the Wilmington Star News. “But if we had had more exposure to people with Down Syndrome back then maybe we would have felt differently.”

She came to love her Down Syndrome boy.

no-one-will-hire-kids-with-down-syndrome-so-parents-open-shop-that-employs-only-those-like-them“I feel that was the moment I was drawn closer to God,” Amy said.

It wasn’t long before Amy saw that her special needs son was not a burden but a blessing. She saw his effervescent joy, and she discovered his giftings. People with Down’s Syndrome are in no way inferior or less worthy of life than others — and God has given them special qualities that others don’t have.

Six years later, Jane Adeline — called “Bitty” — was born also with Down Syndrome. Having two children with Down Syndrome is extremely rare.

“When you become a parent of a child with special needs, you are instantly thrust into becoming an advocate,” Amy said in CNN. “Trying to make people see the beauty in their lives that we see. My children are not broken.”

Eventually, Amy and Ben decided they would do something to help other people with IDD, 70 percent of which are unemployed. In February of 2016, they opened a coffee shop, which they named after their kids, and hired a crew of 40 with IDD ranging from autism to cerebral palsy.

To see Bitty & Beau’s employees making java or ringing up customers, to see them singing and laughing with clients in their new 5,000-square-foot facility, brings a sensation of faith restored in humanity. It packs a joy-filled jolt that’s better than caffeine. Read more about Bitty & Beau’s Christian coffee house for special needs employees.

Skater Christian Hosoi blew fame and fortune on drugs, then he found Jesus

ChristianHosoi-350x186Christian Hosoi had one dream in life: he wanted to be the best vertical skateboarder in the world — and he got it. But he still felt empty.

Born of a Hawaiian Japanese father and Caucasian mother, Hosoi grew up in Southern California, where his dad worked at a skate park in Marina Del Rey. Skating became his daily bread; he even dropped out of school at age 13 for it.

He became a professional skateboarder in 1982 when he was only 14-years-old.

christ-air

The “Christ air” trick he invented before he knew Christ.

He became famous for his flair and graceful style. He was winning competitions, and eventually he would have to take on the big name of skating, Tony Hawk, a technical and daring trickster. Hosoi surprised many spectators by winning their first faceoff. The next time, Hawk won.

It was a rivalry that fed the growing following in this spectator sport. Hosoi was making money and had a huge following. Hosoi invented the “Christ Air” and the “Rocket Air,” and he was renowned for pulling huge aerials — even holding the world record at one point.

In 1984 he formed his own company, Hosoi Skates, first distributed through Skull Skates, then through NHS-INC, and his took off in popularity. When street skating began to emerge in the mid-to-late 80s, Hosoi proved a threat there as well, winning both the vert and street contests at the Lotte Cup contest in Japan in 1989. At one point he earned $350,000 a year, according to the Orange County Register.

christian-hosoi-and-son-350x200But fame and finances weren’t enough, so he turned to drugs and partying.

The recession of the 1990s hit his business bad, and his drug addiction grew. He skipped a court date in 1995 and, to avoid arrest , declined an invitation to the first X-games, which had been billed as the long-awaited rematch of Hosoi and Hawk.

He was running from the law.

christian-hosoi-drugsThe authorities caught up with him in January 2000 at the Honolulu airport. He carried 1.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Charged with drug trafficking, Hosoi was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

That’s when his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lee, stopped doing drugs and got into Jesus. She encouraged Hosoi to trust God with his court appearances.

“God? I don’t need God; I need a lawyer!” he retorted. Read how Christian Hosoi became Christian

She bombed a South Korean passenger jet. Then she found Jesus.

kim-hyon-hui-arrestedAs a North Korean agent, Kim Hyon-hui killed 115 passengers on a Seoul-bound flight to disrupt the 1988 Olympic games in South Korea. She was apprehended by authorities and after her trial she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and found new life in Him.

As the Winter Olympics are underway, Kim’s story of redemption and a fresh start — and her plea to be forgiven by the South Koreans — has come to the forefront after years in which she maintained a low profile.

wreakage-of-1990-KAL-plane“In North Korea, I lived as Kim Il Sung’s robot,” Kim, now 56, told the Washington Post. “In South Korea, I got to live a new life. Can my sins be pardoned? They probably won’t be.””

While the general public may never forgive a mass murderer, God’s grace pursued this unlikely recipient of His unmerited favor.

Born in Kaesong in 1962 to a diplomat, Kim excelled in school and was recruited early in her college career to work as a spy for the world’s most repressive communist dictatorship. Schooled in propaganda from childhood, Kim thoroughly believed in the absolute benevolence of her dictator — and the malevolence of South Korea, of Japan and of the United States. She believed she was defending her nation.

Kim hyon huiAfter seven years of training in Japanese, Chinese, martial arts, code-cracking, infiltration and covert operations, Kim was ready to carry out orders to blow up Korea Airlines 858 in a desperate attempt to disrupt and discredit South Korea during their hosting of the 1988 summer Olympic games.

Traveling with a senior partner under a fake passport and Japanese identity, Kim boarded and left a time bomb, disguised as a small Panasonic radio in carry-on luggage. She and her partner, Kim Seung Il, got off the plane in Abu Dhabi.

Tragically, the bomb exploded and killed all the passengers over the Indian Ocean.

Kim and Seung crisscrossed the globe to throw off tails, and eventually make their way back to North Korea. But in Bahrain, security grew suspicious and detained them.

Realizing they were about to taken into custody, the couple bit off cyanide pills hidden in cigarettes to commit suicide.

“We were taught that if an agent fails on a mission, he or she needs to commit suicide,” Kim told the Daily Mail. “We need to swallow the pill to protect the secret. We know very well that our families in the North would be harmed, so naturally we decided to swallow the pills. At the time I thought my 25-year-old life ends like this.’

The poison worked for Seung, but Kim woke up in the hospital. Read the rest about Kim Hyon-hui Christian.

Girl forced to marry speaks out against child marriage

When she was 10 years old, her parents were pressuring her to marry a 26-year-old. That marriage was never consummated, but a year later they were pressuring her again to marry an older man, so she ran away from home.

“I can’t live with them anymore. What have the children done wrong?” Nada Al-Ahdal asked in a video posted shortly after she fled in 2013. “I would have no life, no education. I’m better off dead. I’d rather die (than get married). They threatened to kill me if I went to my uncle. What kind of people threaten their own children? I won’t go back to live with them. They’ve killed my dreams. This is no upbringing. This is criminal, simply criminal.”

Nada fled to the house of her uncle, who took her in and agreed to raise her and make sure she received a good education. Nada filed a police report against her mother in her native Yemen. Her video hit 7 million views in three days, according to Wikipedia.

“I managed to solve my problem, but some children can’t solve their,” she said, according to MEMRI. “They might die, commit suicide or do whatever comes to their mind. Some children decide to throw themselves into the sea. They’re dead now. This is not normal for innocent children.

“My maternal aunt was 14 years old. She lasted one year with her husband, and then she poured gasoline over herself and set herself on fire,” she added. “She died. He would beat her with metal (chains). He would get drunk.”

Finish reading about Nada Ahdal.

Fast and Furious star, no doubt, driving fast in Heaven

Paul-Walker-Fast-and-the-FuriousJust before The Fast and Furious star Paul Walker crashed and killed himself, his father admonished him: “No more daredevil stuff.”

While the steel-eyed Walker loved adrenaline driving in movies and in real life, he was less reckless with his soul.

“I’m a Christian now,” Paul Walker Jr. told USA Today. “The people I don’t understand are atheists. I go surfing and snowboarding and I’m always around nature. I look at everything and think, ‘Who couldn’t believe there’s a God? Is all this a mistake?’ It just blows me away.”

Walker-left-with-Vin-DiesOn Nov. 30, 2013, Walker was executing a high-speed “drifting” turn in Valencia in his Porsche Carrera GT when he slammed into a light post and tree. The car burst into flames and the celebrity died “within a nanosecond,” according to one account.

He exited this world, leaving the hearts of hundreds of thousands of adoring fans. He roared into Heaven, no doubt, at speeds he could never imagine.

Walker — who played the levelheaded Brian O’Connor in the The Fast Furious franchise — was born into a Mormon family in Glendale, CA, but was sent to a born-again Christian school, Sun Valley’s Village Christian School, from which he graduated in 1991. At some point in time, his convictions changed from those of his parents and he sided with the teachings of his school.

usa-paulwalkerHis first acting gig was for Pampers diapers when he was a toddler. He studied marine biology and developed a passion for sea life. His grandfather raced factory cars for Ford in the 1960s, and Walker apparently inherited the speed demon from him.

Until his breakout role as the level-headed Bryan O’Connor in the $5 billion grossing series The Fast and Furious, Walker featured in small parts in Highway to Heaven, Who’s the Boss?, The Young and the Restless, and Touched by an Angel.

A “fun, funny and carefree” guy, Walker was liked by his fellow actors, his former schoolmates and his millions of fans.

He loved surfing, tagging sharks for study and jiu-jitsu.

He also cared about suffering around the world. He founded the charity Reach Out Worldwide and led teams of doctors and aid workers to places struck by natural disasters. In January 2010, he flew to Haiti after a massive earthquake left people homeless, without power, hungry and in need of medical attention. Ironically, he had surfed there a year earlier.

“The idea that people I’d gotten to know might have been hurt or killed brought the disaster a lot closer to home,” Walker told Merrill Lynch. His group built shelters and attended to the injured. Read the rest: Paul Walker Christian.

Parachute students bring firepower to Lighthouse Christian Academy’s 7th straight soccer win

Japanse-students-in-AmericaIt really came as no surprise that it was LCA’s Japanese students who finally picked the lock to the Santa Clarita Valley International’s defense Thursday to spark a win at Westwood Recreational Center.

Shun Fukushigi — who plays the type of soccer they play in Heaven – laser-directed a corner to countryman Akihiro Oku, who headered into the net, breaking a defensive deadlock that had lasted half an hour.

SCVi is a new charter school with a new soccer program, so it’s understandable that their team was in bit of a disarray at the first meetup with our Santa Monica Christian school. Lighthouse Christian Academy — undefeated this season at seven games — expected to steamroll again Thursday but they hit roadblocks.

SCVi Coach Ken Erenberg had his troops dig in trenches and hold off an onslaught of blistering fire.

“We did a few little changes. This is a first year team,” Erenberg said. “Unfortunately, we look like a first-year program. I couldn’t be more proud for the first 30 minutes being scoreless. I’m like wow, these guys are great. I have a new goal keeper, and he was unbelievable. I think he made 20 saves. I was proud of the way our team played.”

But once Shun and Aki worked their magic, the goals started flowing. The final scoreline — 8-1 — doesn’t do justice to the real story of what happened on the pitch. The Stallions were like a totally different team, more organized and determined, than the away game. Read the rest: foreign high school students in Santa Monica bring success to soccer team.

He was once starving in Africa

Africa-goal-Los-Angeles-school-soccerOnce he was starving. Yesterday he was feasting.

Moses Bowen, adopted by missionaries when he was a starving newborn, dined on four sumptuous goals in the first half of Lighthouse Christian Academy’s soccer victory over Highland Hall Waldorf School.

When the tsunami of blue jerseys was over, LCA closed its sixth-straight win — an undefeated season so far — with a resounding 5-0.

Coach Jack Mefford actually took Moses off the field at half to release pressure on Highland Hall.

Four goals.

In soccer, scoring three is an extraordinary feat known as a hat trick. Four is unheard of.

And there’s one more troubling fact — troubling for the competitors in the league.

Moses is a freshman.

Yes, that means he’ll be making defenders’ knees tremble for three more years.

In the Bible, Moses opened the Red Sea. Yesterday, he opened the path among defenders.

His friends call him Mosie, a name rhyme with his twin brother Josie (Joshua).

When they were born, their mother died, and their father couldn’t take care of them — or any other relative.

They were starving on a diet of rice with no milk. Such is poverty in The Gambia of West Africa.

Ralph and Brenda Bowen, now on staff at Lighthouse schools, were missionaries at the time battling big spiders and crippling malaria while bringing the Good News to the huddling masses.

They were already into their third church plant, this time in Senegal. The Gambia was the former stomping grounds.

So when the Bowens heard the case of some unwanted boys who were going to die, their hearts rent and their legs running. They drove across international borders and adopted the twins. Brenda Bowen painstakingly nursed them to health.

Well, they’re healthy now.

While Josie was blunting opponents attacks on defense, Mosie was up front sharpening his knives. Read the rest of African student at West Los Angeles Christian school.

Behind the dark lyrics lurks hope in NF’s hip hop

NF-lonelinessAdmittedly, NF’s hip-hop is “dark and moody.” Don’t look for a Sunday schoolish happy-ever-after in his music, though he is a Christian.

Nathan Feuerstein’s rage emanates from the festering wounds of a broken home. His parents divorced when he was young, and his mom struggled with opioid addiction.

As a kid, NF didn’t understand why Mom missed events — even his graduation. One of her boyfriends physically abused him and delighted in striking terror in his two sisters. In high school, NF cut all communication with her because he felt strange and uncomfortable when the court ordered a social worker to monitor his conversations with her.

NF-Christians-in-painWhen he was 18, he received a heart-rending call. His grandmother said Mom had overdosed.

His soul-wrenching dirge “Why would you leave us?” was born of that personal apocalypse. It is a bone-chilling confessional that leaves no skeleton in the closet. Its unfiltered pathos is making people cry across the nation.

If Mandisa tells listeners “you’re an overcomer,” NF reassures them if they haven’t found victory in Christ. He splatters ghouls into his lyrics, and the fiendish formula is resonating with millennials nationwide who want to know if there’s a viable alternative to suicide.

NF-Christian“I grew up feeling like pills were more important than I was,” NF says in a YouTube video. “I’m not past that. Some people pretend to be out of that place. Or they assume that’s what ‘Christian’ means. It means that we’re all great and everything’s perfect. That’s not what it is.”

NF was born in Gladwin, Michigan, in 1991. Rap was his escape, first listening to it, then writing it. His high school teachers mocked his musical inspirations.

His early flounderings seemed to confirm the admonitions to get a real job. He drove an old Volvo that overheated so much he changed his schedule to drive at night. Between concerts, he worked as an electrician to pay bills.

But in October of 2017, NF silenced his detractors and left behind hardships when his third album, Perception, unexpectedly ranked #1 on Billboard 200. At the time, Forbes Magazine expressed shock that a virtual unknown had nudged Tom Petty’s greatest hits album off the top perch.

NF is a street poet who lashes out stinging rhymes with 220-volt intensity. He’s drawn comparisons to Dr. Dre and fellow Michigan native Eminem, but his lyrics are devoid of curse words, misogyny, crime and utter despair.

While he sounds the depths of pain, he points to God. Read the rest of NF Christian hip hop artist.

Freedom from meth

Jesus-breaks-every-chainNot even jail was as hard as rehab at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pasadena, according to Dominique Perry.

To be sure, during his lock-up he faced simmering racial tension and even violence. But he had a lot of free time and made hairbrushes out of soap bars and toothbrushes that he could sell to buy Cokes and chips.

In the rehab, he thought they overloaded him with rules and endless meetings. They raided his room based on “stupid suspicions.” Once, Dominique got raided for an electric toothbrush with attachments that someone thought could be used as a weapon.

meth-addict-saved-by-Jesus“In jail it’s all about survival of the fittest, the bigger guy getting on the little guy. But all you have to do is listen to the guard. You can sleep all day,” Dominique said. “But in rehab you have to wake up early. Two cursings is a kick out. You have to go to three meetings a day. It gets you out of your comfort zone.”

Despite seething under the regimen, Dominique, now 26, graduated after eight months at the rehab center in July 2017, He had kicked meth, is serving the Lord and got a job as a dispatcher for a security company.

street-evangelismHe’s come a long way since his early days in Pacoima, a poor, mostly African American neighborhood of Los Angeles. His father left the household when he was a tyke. In high school, he started smoking weed, skipping class and trying to be cool.

“I always said we never needed dad. My mom always gave us everything. She was full of love,” Dominique said. “But maybe I needed him.”

He was good at football and was offered several scholarships for community colleges. But with his mind clouded by drugs, he never accepted one.

“I was picking and cocky. I was ignorant. I wasn’t really thinking,” he said. “I didn’t go to any of them. I just stayed home and started smoking more weed. I started deviating and falling into gangs.”

In Catholic middle school, he was taunted by the Boys from the Projects, a Latino gang. Dominique is half Mexican and half African American, but he looks more African American. So the Boys from the Projects started throwing rocks at him during PE.

The nuns were afraid themselves, he said, so he took matters into his own hands. He was already getting big, bigger than his taunters, so he beat them and chased them off.

“I felt powerful,” he said. “That day I went to the barber shop and told my story. Some bloods were there. There was a guy there with new shoes, and he said, ‘You wanna go get them?’ That was the worst mistake of my life. I wanted to feel protected and I wanted to claim something that people would recognize that I could strike fear.”

He was jumped the next day by six gang members. Seeing the bruises afterward, his mom cried and took him to the ER. He lied and said he fell down.

“Joining the gang opened the door of sin. I was constantly trying to prove myself. It led to worse and worse things – shootings and drugs and violence. I started losing control of my own personal life. I lost track of going to school. I lost track of my family. I thought what I was doing was more important.”

He got arrested for showing off some brass knuckles in high school. Later he was nabbed for wearing red gang gear and throwing signs. When the cops grabbed him, he also had Ecstasy pills and marijuana, when it was illegal in California.

His third arrest was for meth.

“I used to look down on crackheads,” Dominique said. “But some females introduced me to it. I started to think it was cool because I wanted to be a player. I was young and reckless. I wanted to stay up all night and party, and meth was a booster. They persuaded me to smoke it, and I accepted. There was a rush in my body, and then I started smoking it more and more.” Read the rest of freedom from meth.

She taught my dad, now me, in Independent Study Program at Los Angeles Christian school

UCLA-fans-santa-monicaBy Tailoni Jenkins, LCA sophomore –

Mrs. Payton has been a teacher at the Lighthouse for 27 years. In fact the first class she ever taught was my dad’s 4th grade class.

I’m a second generation Payton pupil, and she still looks as young as she did in my dad’s day.

Mrs. Payton has been the teacher for the “Pace” Program at our Santa Monica Christian high school for 4 years. Through booklets, this Independent Studies Program allows students to finish their school work “at their own pace.”

They progressively work their way through the course material on an individual basis. They are not expected to keep up with the teacher (or be held back by the teacher). It’s not only good for at risk students; it helps geniuses to get through faster than a plodding class.

The booklets give explanatory material and then asks questions to check for reading comprehension. At the end, the student takes a test. It’s been good for a lot of kids who don’t flourish in a traditional setting.

“Mrs.Payton lets us have fun while she makes sure that we get our work done,” freshman Josie Bowen said.

Mrs.Payton not only teaches Pace but she also mentors many of us students.

“Mrs.Payton speaks words of wisdom and the truth,” Josie said. Read the rest about Independent Study Program Los Angeles Christian school.

She brought and got happiness at Santa Monica Christian school

Christian-school-santa-monicaSenior Petrina Gratton is a honor-roll tri-athlete at the Lighthouse Christian Academy. She participates in soccer, volleyball and swimming. She says her favorite sport is volleyball, and that makes sense because she was the captain!

She is graduating this year as a 16-year-old senior.

“I will miss all of my friends and all the goof goobers I have to interact with everyday,” she says.

Trina’s favorite thing about the our Santa Monica Christian school is “how the teachers actually put in effort to try and talk to you and get to know you a little because most bigger schools tend to not really build relationships with the students. I appreciate all the sacrifices they have made for me, as well as the whole school, because they really work together to try to make this place the best it can be.”

Trina says that Lighthouse has helped her reconnect with her faith and helped her figure out some of her passions.

“They have helped me discover more about my faith as well as my interest in film because if I didn’t go to LCA I don’t think I’d realize how much of a passion I have for filmmaking,” she said. “So there’s a shoutout to Mr. (Jack) Mefford for being the best film teacher ever!!” Read the rest of Santa Monica Christian school senior reminisces on wonderful experiences.

A hero lost in heroin got saved by Jesus

Pasadena-Community-Christian-ChurchCarlton Edwards ran and shot so well in Vietnam that he earned the Army’s Bronze Star Medal. But recognition for his heroics could not assuage the stress of war, so when buddies introduced him to heroin outside of Saigon in 1972, he readily indulged.

Carlton grew up in Mt. Vernon, New York, with six other family members in a three-room apartment governed by an alcoholic father. He was drafted out of high school in 1969 and served four years in Vietnam but never got busted for drug use.

“I was a very functional addict,” he said. “I used two or three times a day. It was to help me deal with the pressures of the war. It gave you comfort, totally relaxation, almost sleep, but you were aware of the things around you. It took you out of the reality of the pain you’re going through. It was sedative.”

Stationed in Germany years later, Carlton hung with the Army’s bad boys, the guys who had killed and strutted around flaunting their toughness. But a little guy named Morphus kept harassing him, popping up behind him to remind him, “God loves you.”

Carlton thought he was way beyond God’s ability to forgive, with all the terrible things he had done. Plus, “this God thing didn’t go with being in military and hanging with the tough crowd,” he said. So Carlton asked the annoying Morphus what he wanted – hoping he would leave him alone.

Morphus told Carlton that if he attended his Bible study the next day at noon, he wouldn’t pester him again. Read the rest of Vietnam vet freed from heroin.

Is that you, Messi?

santa-monica-christian-school-soccerThe singular sensation of watching Erhan Meric, who led Lighthouse Christian Academy to a 6-3 victory over Pilgrim Lutheran yesterday, is that one is witnessing the sublime soccer of a type of Messi.

He has Messi’s slight frame, his shyness and unselfishness. Erhan’s never boisterous, not given to braggadocio.

But when the ball falls to his feet, expect to hear an exquisite symphony.

Erhan, a senior at Lighthouse, is unobtrusive on the field. He lurks in open spaces and projects the image of the most unthreatening player.

But when he carried the ball up the right and single-handedly threaded his way through three defenders to slot on goal in the early minutes of the game, he put on notification the other team — indeed, the whole league — that he is not a man to be underestimated.

Erhan scored three and set up one. His header off a Beckham-perfect free kick brought the fourth goal in the second half in the Glendale Sports Complex.

And the good thing about this years Saints varsity team is that Erhan is not the only star. Actually a lot of technically skilled players combined yesterday to overwhelm Pilgrim Lutheran.

“We had good passing and good pressure,” said Coach Jack Mefford. “It was an exciting start to a promising season. We have a lot of new additions who know how to play soccer from the Bowens who grew up in Africa playing soccer to Shun (Fukushige) and Aki (Akihiro Oku) who played in Japan.”

Marcus Scribner, a sophomore, proved a bunker buster on offense, putting his football physique to good use against defenders. He scored two goals.

“Marcus’s two goals show how much he has matured because he struggled to finish last year,” Mefford said.

Aki, a junior, scored one, and Shun launched the goal-scoring free kick – a work of art – that connected with Meric’s head and past the hapless goalie. Read the rest: Saints soccer Santa Monica.

Rasputin-like Manson mesmerized him until Jesus set him free


Dennis Rice had just stolen 160 guns to bust Charles Manson out of jail when the police pulled up. He and his partner blasted out the patrol car’s windshield with shotguns and sped away.

Cops filled his van with bullets in a wild chase lasting seven minutes. Shots even grazed his body. At the end, police from five police departments arrested Dennis, and he was never able to storm L.A. County Jail to free the mass murderer who had mesmerized him.

How Dennis fell in with the grisly Manson “family” who killed seven in a war against society is a story about drugs and the disaffected youth of the 1960s. How he came to Christ and became a pastor is the story of the forgiveness and power of God.

Born in Phoenix in the 1950s in the middle class, Dennis chose the path of a rebel. He was kicked out of school after school. He was attracted to “forbidden knowledge” and read Herman Hesse’s Siddartha and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s Death on the Installment Plan, according to his self-published autobiographical pamphlet “Free Indeed.”

His self-styled philosophy justified reveling in sex, drugs and rock and roll with other hippies. He was deeply suspicious of any authority. After hitch-hiking in Mexico when he was 17, he wound up in San Francisco and fell in with the counter-culture Beatniks.

He also tried heroine and soon was addicted. To support his habit, he started committing burglaries. Eventually he got caught and went to jail.

Instead of it being a wake-up call, prison life only seemed like part of the adventure. He saw himself as an outsider, misunderstood and maligned by hypocritical society.

At a concert after his release, he introduced a girl to amphetamines. Eventually, she became his wife and mother to three children. With three children in the picture, Dennis decided to settle down and kick the drugs, but his wife could not.

The couple separated and Dennis found himself raising the kids on his own. He started working at an all-night bookstore in Hollywood. That’s when he first saw the headline in the early morning newspaper that actress Sharon Tate had been brutally murdered on Aug. 9, 1969.

While the homicide frightened him, there were signs of a “revolution” at the scene of the crime that resonated with him. The perpetrators had painted “pig” outside Tate’s door with her blood. The next night, there was another murder, a wealthy couple. Again, “Rise,” “Death to pigs” and “Helter Skelter” were etched in blood.

“I already believed that revolution was the only solution for America’s problems,” Dennis wrote. “I was an anarchist. I believed we needed to tear down the whole society and start over. Could this be the revolution?”

Eventually, police arrested Manson and some of “the family.”

On a Sunday with his three boys, Dennis decided to drive out to the Spahn Ranch where Manson’s group of outcasts became a psychotic cult that believed their leader was Jesus Christ.

While the boys rode horses under the care of some of the ladies at the ranch, Dennis talked with the men. Rolling Stone interviewed Manson in prison, and his humor came through in the article.

“I wondered how this man, who was accused of all these heinous crimes, could have a sense of humor,” Dennis said. “I was intrigued.”

He visited again. The boys finally had several ladies who acted as maternal figures. And Dennis enjoyed the discussions, the friendship and the sex he was getting at the ranch.

He visited Manson in prison, and the Monster of Mayhem began to exercise a Rasputin-like sway over Dennis. Read the rest about Charles Manson family.

Prevailing strategies for evangelism turned on their head – Lynn Cory and the Neighborhood Initiative

Lynn-Cory-Neighborhood-InitiativeDespite leading a 500-student college group, Pastor Lynn Cory felt something was very wrong with his ministry at a San Fernando Valley mega church. It was too “churchy.”

So after 10 years of thriving ministry, he quit a paid ministerial position and worked for an advertising firm where he could rub elbows with the unsaved and share his faith.

Today, Lynn has an aversion for what other pastors crave: big crowds, fancy buildings and better programs. God has led him to a different approach, bringing individuals to Christ one at a time through “neighboring.”

Neighboring to save souls outreach

He offers some drastic advice: Throw your megaphone in the trash. Ditch the building programs; rid yourself of growth strategies from corporate America; stuff the showmanship of Hollywood. And, above all, dispose of the mantra that bigger size equates with success.

Go and be a neighbor, he advises. Make friends with the people next door. Bake them a pie or invite them to dinner. Shred your packed agenda and share the love of Christ slow-cooker style, by gaining their confidence through months and years.

Lynn calls this approach to evangelism “Neighborhood Initiative,” and has expounded the virtues to turning church paradigms upside down in two books, Neighborhood Initiative and the Love God and The Incarnational Church. This latter book coins the term from what Jesus did: being the face-to-face reference point bringing God to those who don’t know Him.

Lynn sees a movement forming, from Chico, California to Illinois. Even mega church pastors are signing up. They are moving away from the big splash, substituting the unglamorous grind of returning to what the Book of Acts calls “house to house” ministry.

Lynn’s argument is compelling. He cites data from George Barna that found 80% of church growth was membership transfer. Churches are not converting people; they are stealing from churches with fewer resources.

Plus, not every church has the resources to mount a Greg Laurie-style outreach. Because they can’t, many churches have excused themselves entirely. Anyone can visit his neighbor with a pie and show concern for his well-being.

“God moves at the speed of relationship,” one chapter says. Read the rest of Neighborhood Initiative.

Phil Wyman wages love on witches at Salem

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Phil Wyman loves witches.

As pastor of “The Gathering” in Salem, Massachusetts, Wyman reaches out to disciples of the devil, both dabblers and druids.

All this month, thousands of tourists and a gaggle of witches – whether bona fide Satanists or snake oil salesmen – descend on Salem, the birthplace of sorcery in America, for something of an open-air conference and festival called Haunted Happenings that culminates in Halloween.

monks salem halloween phil wymanWyman, 59, hosts bands playing music and booths where Christians soft-pedal the gospel. He hands out hot chocolate and offers spiritual conversations for the curious. His followers, sometimes dressed as medieval monks, walk the town and ask forgiveness for the sins of the church, the inquisitions led by the colonial Puritans.

When Wyman sees a witch, he doesn’t see Lex Luther. He sees a hurting soul who has fallen unwittingly in the wrong path. He recognizes that some resorted to Satan because they were rejected by church members.

halloween christians“Christians have a National Enquirer view of pagans,” Wyman told Wicked Local of Salem. “They think they must be worshipping Satan or sacrificing babies. Or they view the pagan community as a well-organized machine that’s after the church. That’s a sad picture. In turn, because a few Christians have taken advantage of that to make money in the ’80s and ’90s, the pagans have a bad view of Christians. We want to break that.”

Unaccustomed to love from Christians, the witches appreciate Wyman.

A Wiccan and necromancer, Christian Day, 46, praised Wyman’s style (in a quote nine years ago): “If ever there was a person that could make me want to become a churchgoing Christian it would be Phil — not because he’s tried to convince me that witchcraft was evil, or hell is fire and brimstone, but because he leads a life of honesty. He’s one of the most honest people I know, and I’m a psychic. I look at people and I see their dishonesty.”

Not all Christians understand his approach, saying it’s dangerous to fraternize with the enemy.

Early on in this ministry, Wyman was photographed kissing the hand of a witch. It was an extravagant gesture, partly jest and thoroughly love. When it wound up on a Satanic website, Wyman’s church denomination defrocked him Read the rest of Should Christians celebrate Halloween?

Army Ranger Tim Moynihan found God

Tim-Moynihan-Ranger-1993-Preacher-2016Growing up in East Hartford, Connecticut, Tim Moynihan loved war, espionage and sci-fi. He chaffed at school with a longing for adventure, so at 18 he enlisted and started boot camp following his graduation.

He first jumped out of an airplane with the Army Airborne during the summer between his junior and senior college years as an ROTC cadet at Providence College in Rhode Island.

“I wanted to be the guy, Captain Willard, portrayed by Martin Sheen” in Apocalypse Now, said Moynihan, now 52.

Through the Army, he became a commissioned intelligence officer and entered Ranger school in 1990.

Tim-Moynihan-Ranger-Christian-family“It was brutal,” he said bluntly.

One day, he was climbing up a cliff when he fell. He had read Hal Lindsey’s Countdown to Armageddon. Biblical prophecy fit in with his other interests in UFOs, Nostradamus and metaphysics.

He was no Christian, even though he had grown up in a staunchly Catholic family. Mostly he pursued punk rock, beer and girls.

But as he was falling through the air, a prayer flashed through his head, a prayer to an unfamiliar God. Suddenly and inexplicably to him, the rope tightened and broke his fall, a mere matter of feet from a bloody crash on the ground.

Tim-and-Sue-Moynihan-Army-1992“That was a close call,” he said. “Somehow I knew God had saved me. Then out of the blue, a man at my unit invited me to his evangelical Bible study.”

At first, Moynihan declined, but the guy persisted and he eventually relented.

“I went, hated it, didn’t want to return,” he said.

The Word confronted areas of sin he wasn’t ready to surrender.

His buddy challenged him to attend the Bible study again, but, honestly, the tough Ranger was…. afraid… to go.

“I felt fear about going back,” he admitted. “Yet I had just graduated from one of the toughest, most dangerous military schools in existence, so I forced myself to go again. Then again.

“Suddenly it all made sense,” he added. “One day I was reading in my room and it dawned on me that I was going to hell. That I had been just plain wrong for 26 years. I got off my bed and knelt on the floor and asked God to forgive me for being an idiot for 26 years.”

He became a new creation in Christ on that day in 1991. He married his live-in girlfriend, Sue, within the week – even though she wasn’t convinced of the truths of Christianity until about a year later. Read the rest of the article about Tim Moynihan.

Why do so many Muslims hate America?

why-muslim-countries-hate-americaWhile floodwaters threatened innumerable lives in Houston, Muslims half way around the world rejoiced openly on social media that calamity had befallen the “infidels” in America.

“Allah, destroy them more and more because they destroyed our countries,” Bushra Atwani commented on a Facebook post showing flood waters flowing.

Muslim-Hate-for-America“I had fire in my heart against America,” wrote Ali Albaghdadi. “But when I saw this video, all the fire is gone. I’ve become very happy. America is the head of the snake. We prayed for that. We asked Allah to destroy America like they destroyed our country.”

The outpouring of hate, the disturbing gush of glee among Muslims who see the devastation in Texas, makes one wonder what kind of religion they have.

“We ask Allah to protect the Iraqi people there and kill everyone else,” wrote Qasim AL Gohrabi. Houston has a sizeable Iraqi population.

“This is Allah’s punishment for everybody who is against us,” wrote Ahmed El Zrafy. “I ask Allah to not help them, to leave them to their fate.”

Muslim-opinion-of-AmericaSadly, the comments, which were interpreted by a translator and not software, are not a smattering of isolated fringe elements but represent wide swathes of Muslim opinion. In the view of the translator who reviewed the comments, about 80% wish evil upon America. Those expressing grief usually do so because they have a friend of relative living in Houston.

A Pew Research poll in 2014 found 85% of Egyptians hate America and 62% of Pakistan also express anti-American sentiment, as reported by Foreign Policy. By contrast, Israel holds the second highest regard in the world for the United States, with an 81% favorable outlook, according to Pew.

“We tend to see more negative sentiment among Muslims in the Middle East, such as those from Egypt and Jordan,” noted Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at Pew, as reported by the BBC. Read the rest of the article about what Muslims think about America.

Note: This article’s purpose is NOT to stir up hate and violence against Muslims. As Christians we must love those who persecute us. The purpose is to fight the leftist delusion that Muslims are an oppressed minority that need to be appeased. The policy of appeasement failed with Hitler, so why is it be retaken by the Left?