Category Archives: Financial Talk

How the Lord can Bless you!

He tried to be the devil’s #1

Ronnie Legg Texas gangster turned to ChristIncarcerated for a schoolyard murder, a psychologist told 12-year-old Ronnie Legg there was no forgiveness available to Him from God.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’ll never be able to get into Heaven,” he says on a video published by a Texas outreach group. “I might as well be the devil’s #1. As soon as I was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years, I started pushing hard to try to do the devil’s work. I was pushing hard to be the ultimate gangster.”

Ronnie’s troubles began early: a single mom, abused as a tyke, living in poverty. For selling drugs on the wrong street in East Houston, his brother was killed. Nine-year-old Ronnie followed in his footsteps with drinking and smoking dope.

Ronnie Legg saved from gangsHis mother, brokenhearted at the loss of one son, steeled her heart against what she thought was the inevitable demise of Ronnie.

“There’s no more love here for you because you’re going down the same path your brother went down,” his mom told him. “You ain’t going to do nothing different, so I’ll be danged if you break my heart.”

Ronnie responded to the rejection by throwing the first object he could find at her.

“I hate you,” he yelled.

At age 12, he was on the schoolyard when a group of young gangsters tried to jump him. But they didn’t count on Ronnie being armed and he shot three of them, killing one. He was arrested four days later. Even without a jailhouse confession, prosecutors secured a conviction.

Ronnie Legg Game OverBy age 15, he was in the penitentiary because he was so dangerous. While there, he joined the Houstone Blast gang and fought every day to make a name for himself.

“As I started doing that, everybody was patting me on the back,” he recalls.

Released from prison, he trafficked dope, pimping and kidnapping in Houston.

In December 1999, the Feds tracked him down. It seems his best friend snitched on him. Sentenced to 72 months, he got into trouble in prison so much that his sentence was lengthened to 9 years and 4 months and then into 12 years.

“I ended up walking around some of the worst prisons in the whole United States,” he says. He was in Beaumont prison during the racial riots. He was transferred to Oklahoma and then to Pollack, Louisiana. Of 100 Texans in Pollack, only he and another survived.

Ronnie eventually was transferred to a Death Row penitentiary in Indiana. In Victorville penitentiary, he was thrown in with the Crips and Bloods. It didn’t matter to him that he was the only Houstone. Almost immediately, he stabbed someone on the yard.

Finally, he was transferred to the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” in Florence, Colorado, the “worst of the worst. Everybody there is a killer. Three people a day get stabbed,” Ronnie says.

When he was admitted, the warden gave him one warning:

“All I ask is that you don’t put no steel in my officers.”

When he was finally released, Ronnie went home and immediately resumed drug trafficking.

He got busted for a crime he didn’t commit. Read the rest: Houstone gang Christian.

Transgender dolls?

MattelFirst they toned down Barbie’s hyper femininity. Now Mattel has launched dolls that are “gender neutral.” That means, you can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl.

Creatable World is a series of six dolls that have interchangeable hair, clothes that could be either for boys or girls, facial features and body types that are not readily recognizable as either masculine or feminine. The $30 doll, the toy maker says, can be male, female or neither. They are “non-binary.”

Bible-flouting political progressives are delighted, while Christians who adhere to the Bible’s account of the genetic separation of the sexes are dismayed that another potshot is being fired at vulnerable children.

Mattel-Gender-Neutral-Dolls-Creatable-WorldMaybe Creatable World should be rebranded “Confusable World.” This is the latest salvo from “woke” culture, liberal progressives who are “aware” of current trends and sensitive to everyone’s feelings except God’s.

“There were a couple of gender-creative kids who told us that they dreaded Christmas Day because they knew whatever they got under the Christmas tree, it wasn’t made for them,” says Monica Dreger, who worked on Mattel’s test-marketing of the dolls. “This is the first doll that you can find under the tree and see is for them because it can be for anyone.”

But Christians who monitor culture are concerned that the toys represent another attempt to confuse kids about the God-ordained order of male and female. Already, liberals have infiltrated heavily public schools where they are pushing LBGT agenda through books and teaching.

“These are dolls created by adults for adults to make them feel good about their radical gender theories,” said Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton in Baptist Press. “You’re going to be able to find these toys on the discount table in about four months, after Christmas. Parents are not clamoring for this. Kids are not clamoring for this.”

Indeed, while Time Magazine, the New York Times and a slew of other progressive media hailed the dolls as “ground-breaking,” USA Today noted that a mere 5% of consumers, according to a survey, considered buying them just before Christmas when they were launched.

“While people are open to it, it shows that fundamental things that are instilled in us are hard to move,” said Karen Van Vleet, vice president of strategy at Horizon Media’s WHY Group in USA Today. “It’s hard to go against what they were brought up with their whole lives.”

Toy stores and toy aisles have been shifting away from the pink and blue aisles. As part of a push to steer girls into STEM, science kits and cars are not just pushed on boys. Girls are encouraged to play sports and boys aren’t discouraged away from nursing.

But Mattel’s move is on a whole other level and lines more up with Drag Queens reading stories to children at the library. Conservative Christians fear they aim for more than just tolerance of all kinds of people – they are cultivating aberrant lifestyles on impressionable children.

“Children can be notoriously fluid in many of their choices,” said Bob Stith, a Southern Baptist gender issues expert. “So why would we blur the boundaries on something so significant [as gender]? That is the height of irresponsibility.” Read the rest: gender neutral dolls influence unsuspecting kids.

Run DMC, now ‘Rev Run’

RevRun-Justine-SimmonsBefore his influence, hip hop was a backwater movement off most people’s radar. Then Joseph Simmons and his group Run DMC brought rap to the mainstream in the mid 1980s and suddenly it became an international sensation.

Joseph Simmons banked millions, landed his own $2.0 million Adidas shoe deal and had innumerable adoring fans. A few albums later, he had fallen off.

One member of the trio was murdered, another was lost in drugs, and Joseph Simmons, succumbing to alcoholism, was left scratching his head wondering why the genre he helped found had all but forgotten him. His wife was divorcing him. He was accused of rape. His fame, finances and family were frittering away.

Thankfully the New York native turned to God.

run-dmc-portrait-joseph-run-simmons-darryl-d-m-c-news-photo-1579816339“There are always your darkest moments before the birth of a beautiful thing. Rev Run at his low point was not quite Rev Run,” he says, speaking in third person about himself, to the Guardian. “He was trying to understand this great thing that was happening to him. There was a time to reap, a time to sow. A time for it to be sunny outside and a time when it’s so dark you have no option but to just be or you’ll go nuts.”

“Records sales weren’t as high as they was (sic),” he says on NPR. “I was a little unhappy with what was going on so I started going to church. And when I started going to church I started to feel better. Things were starting to look brighter for me. I started to see that learning the principles of God was helping to shape my life better.”

RevFamily-panoramaAs the rap genre turned dark and promoted drugs and gang violence, Simmons turned to church. It was a former Run DMC bodyguard, Bobby Walker, who finding Run wallowing in depression persuaded him to attend New York’s Zoe Ministries Church in 1990. Within five years Run had gone from usher to ordained minister, donning the moniker Reverend Run.

Today, the 55-year-old who once rapped Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” on colab now teaches people to “walk His way” and preaches an aggressive, rhapsodic message wherever he’s invited: “You must be born again, my friend, or you’re going straight to hell,” Southcoast Today quoted him at a 1996 church service.

As a Pentecostal pastor, Rev Run was turning heads. In 2005, he got the chance to bring God’s truths about family and marriage to a reality show on MTV.

Yes, you read that right. MTV — that profane purveyor of hedonism, anti-God-ism and ADD — the last a result of the rapid fire succession of endless images to music. It was MTV where potty-mouthed Ozzy Osbourne, the satanic concert chicken-head decapitator, had his reality show. It was an imponderable spot for a reverend to be preaching — or rather practicing what he preaches.

MTV was also an extraordinary opportunity to shine light into an incredible dark space, and he was given the opportunity to dispense sound spiritual advice on “Run’s House” because of his previous work as Run DMC’s front man. Now he had, instead of platinum sales, an eternal view toward streets of gold. Read the rest: How did Rev Run become Christian?

How can a brain tumor be a good thing? Ask Scott Hamilton

Scott_Hamilton_olympicsFigure skating sensation Scott Hamilton owes his Olympic gold medal to… a brain tumor.

It limited his growth as a child and baffled doctors who could never find the cause of the problem. Through an unlikely series of events related to his frequent visits to doctors, he wound up in figure skating.

“Who would I be without a brain tumor?” Scott reflects in a White Chair Productions video. “I could choose to look at it as debilitating, to choose to focus on the suffering. (But) I choose to look at that brain tumor as the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten because it made everything else possible.”

In 1984, the United States hadn’t won a gold medal in men’s figure skating for 24 years. Hamilton’s feat made him one of the top eight most popular American athletes, according to an Associated Press study.

The 5’4” athlete was adopted by two college professors who raised him in Bowling Green, Ohio. Badgered by health issues from childhood, his lack of normal growth caused experts to search in vain for a cause.

“When I came back from being in and out of hospitals, I ended up going to the skating club by accident,” Scott remembers. “I found skating.”

Scott_HamiltonHe excelled on ice. His progress in the sport caused him to move away from home to receive training by better coaches.

His first awareness of a need for God arose after his mother lost a battle to cancer. “Something awakened in me,” he says. “I knew I needed something better. I knew I needed some strength.”

Beginning in 1981, Scott won 16 consecutive national and international championships. He loved entertaining spectators. His signature move was a backflip, a move so dangerous it was banned by U.S. Figure Skating and Olympic competition rules. Because it was risky, it was also a crowd-pleaser.

B9315966892Z.1_20150124003822_000_G7A9OQ2N3.1-0After bringing Olympic gold to male figure skating, Scott won another world championship and retired from amateur competition to the professional, entertainment sector, where he performed until 2001.

In 1997 Hamilton was forced to leave figure skating to undergo chemotherapy for testicular cancer. It was a scary moment because cancer had claimed the life of his mother. With God’s help Scott overcame the health battle, but it was emotionally staggering.

“I survived something that took the most important person, my mother, off this planet,” he says. “My mom died. I survived. Why?”

He started to ask what his purpose was. His soon-to-be wife helped answer that question. Tracie Hamilton introduced him to Jesus and they began to attend church together.

As he was getting to know the principles of Christianity, Scott and his wife prayed to be able to have a child — no easy thing for a survivor of testicular cancer.

But God answered their prayers. Nine months after their wedding in 2002 they were blessed with a baby boy, Aiden.

Anyone would say that Scott had already suffered through more than his share of health issues. But after the growth deficiency and his battle with testicular cancer, Hamilton discovered he had a brain tumor.

His wife took his hands in hers and they started to pray.

“It was in that moment I knew where I was going to put everything, my trust, my faith, everything,” he remembers. “That was the most powerful moment in my life. From that moment forward, we just said, whatever it is, whatever it takes.”

The biopsy was fear-provoking in itself. Doctors drilled a hole through Hamilton’s skull, weaved their way through the coils of the brain, cut out a small piece of the tumor, extracting it for later analysis.

“We seem to have found a safe corridor to do that,” the doctors told him at the time. Read the rest: Scott Hamilton Christian.

Just Mercy explores Christian motives in crusading lawyer

just-mercy-e1576884406168No one on Alabama’s Death Row had ever been released — no one. They all proceeded without hope inevitably to the electric chair

That was the stark reality of the South in the late 1980s until African American lawyer Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard graduate originally from Delaware, rolled into town with federal grant money to establish a center to aid those nobody before wished to help.

Stevenson’s dedication — portrayed by the factual-based movie Just Mercy in theatres now — is a story of David versus Goliath, of the crusader who defies the odds, in face of personal danger and with great personal sacrifice, to rescue the dispossessed members of society.

Just Mercy, based on the autobiographical book with the same title, is not an overtly Christian movie, though there are Christian moments, undertones and underpinnings throughout.

Just_Mercy_Official_PosterBut its story derives from the same inspiration felt by many Christian workers — whether foreign, urban or rural — who forego personal enrichment on behalf of the outcasts of society.

Stevenson is played convincingly by Michael B. Jordan. But the most compelling performance is by Jamie Foxx, who portrays McMillian.

In the movie’s most riveting scene, McMillian faces his only accuser, Ralph Myers, on appeal, with a facial expression that pleads for mercy and the uncovering of the truth. What’s amazing is how Foxx is able to communicate so clearly without words.

Myers, who initially opposed testifying falsely, cooperated in framing McMillan in order to work a better deal for his own pending criminal case.

The story of McMillian’s trumped up conviction was documented by the New York Times, the New Yorker, 60 Minutes, by two books and a host of other news agencies.

Walter “Johnny D” McMillian was a pulpwood worker in a black settlement off a dirt road outside of Monroeville, Alabama. He married Minnie McMillian, with whom he had nine children. He had no previous criminal record but became infamous in town for his affair with a white woman in town. Read the rest of Christian movie Just Mercy

Thomas Kinkade: Idyllic paintings, far from idyllic life

KINKADE_HOUSES_t810On April 6th, 2012, the man known as The Painter of Light, Thomas Kinkade, unexpectedly died in his home at the age of 54.

Kinkade was widely known as one of the most successful artists of his time, famous for painting cottages, homes and churches featuring soft light and Christian themes.

What the paintings lacked in sophistication, they made up in nostalgic appeal. The paintings carried their own charm, with some viewers imagining a simpler life in the bucolic scenes portrayed.

“It’s not the world we live in,” Kinkade told The Guardian, “It’s the world we wished we live in. People wish they could find that stream, that cabin in the woods.

243283“My paintings are messengers of God’s love. Nature is simply the language which I speak,” he said.

Chances are you’ve seen or even own one of his paintings. His work is said to be in a staggering 10 million American homes, over 7% of the American population.

Kinkade’s past is somewhat tragic, involving a broken family and dropping out of art school. In 1980, Kinkade became a Christian. It was at this time that he started selling his paintings.

“Well, it was almost as if God became my art agent. He basically gave me ideas,” he explained to USA Today in 2002.

c2b13bb8eb47f97f2c8c7f21bfc524e3However, during the early 2000’s to 2010’s, Kinkade’s bizarre behavior and financial problems sparked accusations against the well-known artist. The accusations included behaving inappropriately with women and something especially odd, allegedly urinating on a Winnie the Pooh figure at the Disneyland Hotel according to The Los Angeles Times.

Along with that, his company declared bankruptcy, unable to pay its creditors following multiple court judgments. He was ordered to pay $860,000 for defrauding the owners of two failed galleries in Virginia, according to a website associated with the lawsuit.

While he made $53 million, his business expenses apparently exceeded his business income during the recession of the early 2000s, according to news sources.

Kinkade denied some of the charges in 2006, but blamed the rest on overeating, drinking and stress, according to the Washington Post.

“With God’s help and the support of my family and friends, I have returned balance to my life,” Kinkade said in addressing the accusations.

The 2006 scandal was not the end of his troubles. Rest of the article: Was Thomas Kinkade Christian?

Supermodel Kathy Ireland’s journey to Christ

Ireland_CAASpeakers_Photo1God was a yeller, or so Kathy Ireland thought.

At the church she grew up in, the pastor preached a screechy, judgmental message and she superimposed the image of her pastor on God. She thought that God must be like that.

“There was a part of me that was kind of scared of God,” Ireland says on an I am Second video. “The church that I attended as a child, the leader there would kind of yell.”

She jumped into modeling at age 16 and was featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Mademoiselle and the racy Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition multiple times.

Ireland flew off to Paris to start modeling at age18. “It sounds so much more glamorous than it was,” she admits.

Her mother, who had accepted Jesus when Ireland was a teen, slipped a Bible in her luggage. She didn’t feel comfortable staying at a home provided in Paris. She often locked herself in her room, and other models who stayed there ominously called it “the dungeon.”

kathy-ireland-business-mogulOne night, lonely, bored, jet-lagged, Ireland found the Bible and began to thumb through its pages, a novelty for her.

“I randomly opened up to the Gospel of Matthew,” Ireland says. “As I read, my life was forever changed.”

Ireland had been a rebellious teenager who questioned authority. She wondered about truth and what was right and wrong.

When she examined the Bible for the first time, she realized it contained the truth.

“I think one of the things that grabbed a hold of me was that Jesus wasn’t anything like I thought,” Ireland continues. “He wasn’t condemning. He wasn’t yelling. Instead, He was loving, and He was leading.”

Ireland discovered that modeling is a world flush with exploitation. “Particularly as a young woman out in the world for the first time, in a world that often times felt dominated by men of questionable character, it gave me such comfort to know that Jesus loves women and honors them,” she says. Read the rest: Kathy Ireland Christian.

Owners of Forever 21 proclaim Jesus

Forever-21+(1)Nothing is forever except Heaven, as the owners of Forever 21 are discovering.

After trail-blazing fast fashion for three decades, Do Won and Jin Chang’s clothing stores made them billionaires but are now in the throes of bankruptcy.

The couple is strong in faith and their brand proudly prints “John 3:16” on the bottom of every bag as a witness for Christ. But now the chain is struggling for its economic existence.

merlin_162717138_d7d472aa-d124-46e0-b194-205896595cbd-superJumboDo Won, or simply “Don,” immigrated to America in 1981 because opportunities in South Korea were limited. Ambitious and willing to work hard, Chang immediately got three jobs in Los Angeles: dish washer at a coffee shop, janitor at office buildings and attendant at a gas station.

While pumping gas, BMWs and Mercedes Benzes caught his eye. “I noticed the people who drove the nicest cars were all in the garment business,” Don told the Los Angeles Times.

He and his wife, Jin Sook, opened their first store in 1984 in a Highland Park neighborhood of LA with the strategy of piling high and selling cheap.

Making it in the fashion industry is about as tough as succeeding as an artist or a movie star, but the Changs perfected the technique of making the latest red carpet outfits show up instantly on their shelves, and their business exploded to 800 stores in 50 countries with $4 billion in annual sales.

“I came here with almost nothing and I’ll always have a grateful heart toward America for the opportunities that it’s provided me,” he said in Forbes.

While they succeeded wildly and moved into Beverly Hills, the couple — with their two daughters — remained steadfast in their Christian convictions. They prayed everyday at 5:00 a.m. at their church and went on mission trips to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Read the rest Christian Forever 21.

Transformed by glory from gay lifestyle

ECJym7ZXoAEZ4KJBy Laken Wilson —

Becket Cook lived a dream life as a set designer in the fashion world. Flaunting an openly gay lifestyle, he swam in Drew Barrymore’s pool and vacationed in Diane Keaton’s vacation home.

But the luster lost its shine at one party: “I can’t do this anymore,” he realized.

In his book Change Of Affection, Beckett documents his identity transformation, as well as a peace and freedom previously unimaginable.

Becket’s demise into homosexuality began when he was 10 at a sleepover with a friend in Texas where he grew up. The friend’s dad molested him at midnight.

becketcook2-8b38574“It was very shocking and scary, and I had this image in my mind that if I didn’t allow him to do what he was doing, I had a picture of him with a knife,” Becket recalls on a 700 Club video. “He was going to stab me or kill me.”

The molester came back three times during the night.

“I did not tell my parents because I knew my father probably would of had him killed,” he said. “I didn’t want my father going to prison over this.” He was the youngest of eight and didn’t want his siblings to be fatherless.

“Also I didn’t want people to know,” he says. “It was a shameful experience.”

gay no moreSo he locked up the horrors in the safe deposit box of his heart.

“Living as a gay man, I never really thought that affected me,” Becket said. “I didn’t want my identity as a gay man to tied to such a scary, weird, gross night. After I became a Christian, I realized, that night had a huge impact on my sexuality. It cemented it.”

He was popular in high school with the girls and went to dances, but when he got older, he had gay bestfriends and went to gay bars and explored the gay life.

“I kind of felt like this was home for me, these are my people. But it wasn’t until after college when I had my first relationship with a guy,” Becket says. “We fell in love and that is when homosexuality as my identity was known.”

He “came out to his parents and family.

His parents were Christians and believed it was a sin, but they were very loving about it. His father asked him if he did anything wrong and if he was angry towards him about anything.

“No dad, I’m fine,” Becket responded. “This who I am, and it’s not your fault.”

Over the years in LA, he went through five serious relationships.

He was at Paris Fashion Week March 2009 at an after-party when he looked over the crowd and remembered asking himself: “This is not it. This is not the meaning of life. What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”

He went to a coffee shop where he came across people with Bibles, and he and his best friend ended up having a conversation with them.

They invited him to their church the next week. Becket asked them what they believed in about homosexuality. They replied it was a sin. Becket ended up going to the church the following Sunday, and while he was listening to the sermon everything was resonating as truth to him and heart.

“I was processing the sermon and worship music, and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit just overwhelmed me.” he remembers. “God was like, I’m God, Jesus is my son, Heaven is real, Hell’s real, the Bible is true and you are now adopted into my kingdom. Welcome.”

Becket started bawling and was able to see the truth for the first time in his life — and the new meaning of life for the first time. He knew in that moment that that was no longer the gay man he used to be.

“The curtains just parted,” Becket said. “I knew instantly in that moment that this was no longer who I was. Being gay was not who I was. It was over. I was done with it.”

Laken Wilson is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and wrote this for extra credit in literature class.

Fired on at close range, Todd White turned to Jesus

todd-whiteTodd White joined the Marines to prove to his stepdad he was a man, but on break after boot camp he partied so much with drugs he forgot to report for duty.

“I went home and I stole a bunch of money in a drug deal, went out West and hid in the Rocky Mountains,” Todd says on a YouTube video. “A little while later I got busted and put in jail, extradited across the United States and put into the military prison.”

Today Todd White is a pastor helping myriads of people tripped up by Satan’s snares. But his past was beset with foundering and failure.

He was born out of a hookup when his father came back “messed up” following service in the Vietnam War. Two other siblings arrived from that union and his parents eventually married. It was perhaps inevitable that what started wrong wouldn’t end well, and his parents divorced when Todd was 11.

todd white ministryHe was thrown into the foster care system and raised by Free Masons. Frustrated by the breakup of his family, Todd turned to drugs.

“I was rebellious, angry, bitter, so mad,” he says. “I was fully addicted to anything I could get my hands on. It started with weed and it just escalated more and more.”

On a dare from his step dad, he joined the Marines to become a man — and to straighten up his life. Boot camp saw him drop 83 pounds and transform into a lean, mean, fighting machine.

“They kicked my butt,” he says.

Granted leave before he had to report for duty, Todd reverted to partying, drinking and drugs. He fled to the Rocky Mountains, where he eventually got arrested. In the computer system, cops found he was an AWOL Marine and shipped him back to the military to be tried and punished.

After five and half months in a military jail, Todd told his superiors he wanted to quit the Marines. But he had signed up for a period of service and they refused.

So he ran away again.

“I ended up getting arrested again,” he says.

todd white familySo now the Marines court-martialed him and gave him a dishonorable discharge, a black stain on his record. “Boom. Kicked me out of the military. This is the way I started out my life,” he says. “That’s not too good on a resume.”

Drinking and clubbing, he met a girl and tricked her into thinking he was an amazing guy.

She got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. Sadly, Todd was repeating the cycle of hopelessness and broken family that he inherited from his own dad. But the tiny baby in his arms melted his heart and sparked a motivation to seek change.

“When I held my little daughter I was like, I don’t know how to be a dad. I have a lifetime subscription to issues,” he recounts.

No one in Todd’s family was Christian. They were all atheists, not theoretical atheists who think up all the reasons to not believe in God, but practical atheists who live out the consequences of not having God.

“I am lost, and I’m floundering, and I’m hurting, and I’m hurting people,” Todd recounted.

When Todd’s daughter was a couple months old, the mother said she was leaving.

The emotional wallop caused Todd to entertain suicidal thoughts.

“Those thoughts have always been there at times more and more, but now it was like everyday. I became massively depressed and suicidal. Mixed with all kinds of drugs in my body. It was just a twisted life.”

Then his girlfriend announced she was going to leave Todd for another man and he went crazy.

”That’s it,” he responded furiously. “I’m taking them out. I’m taking you out. I will make you watch and then I’m going to take myself out. And then we’re going to leave our daughter with no one.”

Out of fear, his girlfriend stayed — for a time.

When she finally got up the nerve, she left when Todd was out.

”Finally one night I come home and she’s gone,” he recalls. “I said to myself, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ I drive to her stepdad’s house because he has rifles. I’m going to end my life. I head over to the gun cabinet on the way to the gun cabinet I pass by this ledge with a phone book on it.

Then something remarkable happened. When Todd randomly flipped open the phone book, in God providence it opened to a page displaying churches.

“I’m thinking, this is stupid, yet I drove to the church,” he says. “I needed to talk to somebody.”

“Praise Jesus!” a man said heartily when Todd walked into the church. He began to share Jesus with Todd.

When the man asked Todd to give his life to Jesus, Todd thought, Who would want my life?

“If He wants my life, fine, then, here, He can have it,” Todd told the man, as if his life were a recycled can. Obviously the man was more enthusiastic about Todd’s “conversion” than Todd was himself.

When Todd went home though, he noticed that he no longer wanted to kill himself.

He got his little girl to beg her mother to come back home.

“When she came home, man, was she mad,” Todd says. “I put my daughter to bed and that same night I’m out on a cocaine bid.”

The next morning Todd called the man from church and confessed he’d stumbled into cocaine again. “ Your Jesus didn’t work,” he said.

“How did the cocaine make you feel?” the man replied.

“Horrible,” Todd responded.

“Good for you because that means there’s a seed that growing inside of you,” the man said.

For five and a half months Todd continued to struggle with his addiction to cocaine.

One night, Todd was making a call to his dealer. He didn’t answer. As soon as Todd finished the call and turned around, there was his daughter and girlfriend looking distraught.

“You promised you would never do it again, daddy,” his daughter cried. ”You say it every night you promise and every night you do it again.”

Todd wanted to stop but couldn’t.

That same night, Todd went down to a place where people deal drugs. He planned to steal drugs from someone. He found a young guy in his car, took his cocaine and then “reads him his rights,” as if the kid was being arrested and he was a cop.

“The kid gets out of the car and when I hit the gas he pulled out a nine millimeter gun and unloaded at me,” Todd recounts. Read the rest: Todd White Christian.

Shot caller threatened to kill inmate who evangelized

IMG2008133318HI“Today is tomorrow.”

The words didn’t make any sense to Chaplain Dan, but he could see from the face of the inmate at LA’s North County Correctional Facility that something was very wrong.

As it turns out, the shot-caller had told him he would “deal with him tomorrow.” The shot-caller, the Alpha male for 70 inmates in one dorm, didn’t like the fact that the Mexican Mafia was losing traction and the Gospel was gaining traction.

“Who is inviting y’all to the Christian meetings?” he demanded one day. He needed recruits. He needed sway. He needed foot soldiers to join the ranks of one of California’s most powerful crime syndicates. And Christianity was getting in the way of his purposes.

Later that night, the inmate approached the shot-caller.

“No disrespect to you, but I’m the one inviting all the guys to the Christian meetings,” he said.

“I’ll deal with you tomorrow,” the shot-caller warned.

He knew what that meant: either he or one of his minions would brutally attack him. Read the rest: Christianity in Jail.

LOL! Babylon Bee roasts everyone with Christian perspective

snopes vs babylon beeIn 2014, Adam Ford quit his day job to write satire news and The Babylon Bee, the “most trusted source of fake news,” was born two years later.

Stylistically similar to secular The Onion, The Babylon Bee, which clocks 9 million monthly views, has laughed its way through hallowed halls of mega churches and Congress.

Its writers lampoon everything from pro abortion forces to repetitive Chris Thomlin choruses (Headlines: “Planned Parenthood Honors King Herod With Lifetime Achievement Award” and “Chris Tomlin Finally Wears Out His Computer’s Copy, Paste Shortcut Keys.”)

Katy_Perry_IsisSometimes, its roasts resemble reality so closely that even Snopes has been duped into “fact-checking” its articles. Cue the endless eye-roll.

“Satire is a powerful, effective and Biblical tool for conveying ideas,” Ford wrote on Adam4D.com when he launched the Bee. Satire has “belong(ed) almost exclusively to the anti-religious view. The Bee aims to change that. Christ-centered news satire is now a thing.”

With the endless stream of negativity in your news feed, some laughter provides much needed stress release.

Babylon bee humorBut The Babylon Bee (note the alliterative disharmony of the ancient Biblical capital city with the quirky newspaperish “Bee”) aims at more than just making fun of people. It shoots for reflection.

“It’s important to look at what we’re doing, to ‘examine ourselves.’ Satire acts like an overhead projector, taking something that people usually ignore and projecting it up on the wall for everyone to see,” Ford told Christianity Today. “It forces us to look at things we wouldn’t normally look at and makes us ask if we’re okay with them.”

It has ridiculed the ongoing impeachment against Trump: “Santa Claus Accused Of Quid Pro Quo For Giving Children Gifts In Exchange For Good Behavior.” It has lampooned Trump: “Donald Trump’s Ego Most Fragile Element In Known Universe, Scientists Confirm.”

It has poked fun at atheist physicist Stephen Hawking for postulating the multiverse (multiple universes) to by-step the insurmountable improbability of life spontaneously generating: “Atheist Accepts Multiverse Theory Of Every Possible Universe Except Biblical One.”

ome of the parodies are theological. Calvinists bear the brunt of the Bee’s beatings: “Calvinist Dog Corrects Owner: ‘No One Is A Good Boy’”

Other spoofs slam mega churches. Joel Osteen seems to good-naturedly ignore the incessant onslaught. One headline: “Joel Osteen Opens Church Cafe That Only Serves Lukewarm Beverages.” Read the rest: Babylon Bee vs. Snopes.

Even with few players, Lighthouse of Santa Monica wins

Saints basketball 2nd game 2019Lighthouse Christian Academy was missing three starters for Tuesday’s basketball game because the seniors went to Six Flags Magic Mountain for an unauthorized ditch day and were disqualified from league play.

Naturally, players were glum. Having won its first game, LCA didn’t expect — with only six players (half the roster) — to be able to muster much.

But Highland Hall also showed up with only six players, and so the Santa Monica Saints won 43-22 in the Northridge game.

Merry Christmas.

At the first quarter, Lighthouse was sloppy. The score was 7-7. The Saints gave up easy turnovers.

In the second quarter, LCA picked up the pace and recovered its game somewhat, but still the score at half time was tight: 14-12. Read the rest: Santa Monica basketball private school.

He loved to intimidate people until he despaired of life itself

Brian Cole, pastor and bikerBecause of his buck teeth and because he was short, Brian was the kid who got pushed around at school, but the nightmare of being pushed around at school paled in comparison to the emotional and physical abuse meted out by his father.

“I hated my father,” Brian Cole says in a CBN video. “I had this idea all through life, till I got to the age where I could take my dad on fist to cuffs that I would never be right with him.”

Eventually some kids from high school, outcasts and trouble-makers themselves, extended to Brian friendship — and cigarettes. Brian quickly realized that the tables had turned for his tormentors. With older kids sticking up for him, it was now his turn to terrorize them.

satanist bikerBrian began picking fights everywhere — in school, in church. He started stealing and using drugs regularly. Instead of finding compassion at church, he found condemnation and finger-pointing that only turned him away from God. He became

Brian began breaking into churches, stealing their sounds systems and vandalizing them. He trafficked drugs and porn at school

“Here I was 10 years old, and I didn’t want to be at home, I didn’t want to be in school, and I didn’t want to be in church,” he says, now with tears at the painful memories.

Only his mother, Dorothy, gave him unconditional love and prayed for him continuously.

“I loved that people looked up to me,” he says. “I loved that people were scared of me. I was the man.”

Brian Cole and his abusive fatherAt age 14, Brian got turned over to police for selling pot — by his own father.

From there, he cycled through the police system, the judicial system, treatment centers and psych wards. He never stop using drugs and stealing.

At 18, Brian caught a case for breaking and entering 250 homes that landed him with 10 years in a maximum security prison. While there, he turned to Satanism because it offered him a way to generate even more fear in others. He was taking speed and LSD heavily.

“Seeing the fear in people’s eyes — even the guards’ eyes — boy that really fed my ego,” he says.

After being released in 1994, Brian got a girlfriend. When she cheated on him, he hunted down the offending man and shot him point blank. Miraculously, the man survived. Read the rest: Satanist biker saved from drugs by Jesus.

Gambling addiction broken after man sees in Bible what God told him

john simmonsJohn Simmons first entered a dingy poker room where guys were smoking on his 21st birthday in Vegas.

“There’s no better feeling than putting in a wad of money in your pocket knowing you didn’t really do anything to earn it,” says Simmons on a CBN video. “There’s a lot of adrenaline that builds up in your heart. The feeling of chasing that moment is intense.”

It was the start of a decade-long gambling addiction that saw John, from St. Louise, Missouri, fall into more than $200,000 of debt, depression and hopelessness.

IMG_5510His demise began with a celebration for his birthday, when it was finally legal for him to go into a casino.

“The guys at the tables got their sunglasses on and they’re bluffing each other,” John says. “It’s just filling me up with all this joy and i’m like I love this.”

John decided to pursue poker as a career. He got a job as a casino card dealer and he made good money.

‘Gambling gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of identity,” John says. “I would be a person that could be seen by others as a multimillionaire. If I wasn’t working, I was playing. If I wasn’t playing, I was sleeping.”

IMG_5509But when gambled on his free time, he lost.

After three years at the poker table, John was more than $200,000 in debt and had to declare bankruptcy. As part of the court settlement, he still had to pay off some debt. So John worked overtime to scramble the money.

“In my mind, it wasn’t that I was failing. I just needed to keep going and figure out how to fix it,” he says. “If only I could win the next thing, none of these losses matter. I would spend my entire paycheck over the course of a weekend trying to chase my debts. A lot of times, I had zero dollars in my pocket.

“It was such a terrible way to live,” he adds. “I couldn’t stop though. I kept thinking, ‘If all I do is win this one tournament, if I win a million dollars, no one will be mad at me anymore.’”

At age 30, he was again hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

He decided to survey the debris of his life. Read the rest of gambling addiction.

Reinhard Bonnke, powerful evangelist to Africa

reinhard bonnkeReinhard Bonnke, called the Billy Graham of Africa, died Saturday at age 79.

The German-American pentecostal evangelist recorded 79 million conversions to Christ in a lifetime of ministry that started in 1967.

Most of his outreach was in Africa, where he saw many miracles to help usher in souls to the Kingdom of God. No other Western evangelist spent more time in Africa.

“Those who knew him off-stage can testify to his personal integrity, genuine kindness, and overflowing love for the Lord,” said his successor, Daniel Kolenda, in Christianity Today. “His ministry was inspired and sustained by his rich prayer life, his deep understanding of the Word, and his unceasing intimacy with the Holy Spirit.”

billy graham to africaKenyan politician Esther Passari thanked him, at the announcement of his death, for his life of service.

“I spoke in tongues for the first time at Rev. Reinhard Bonnke’s 1988 crusade,” she said. “He picked me from the crowd and arranged a meeting where he prayed for God to use me. I send my condolences to his family and his congregation.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is Muslim, also eulogized the beloved evangelist, saying he “joins Christendom at large in mourning the passing of renowned evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, 79, describing his transition as a great loss to Nigeria, Africa & entire world.” Read the rest: Reinhard Bonnke dies.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

bizmati rice Pakistani style Nihara House Arleta Los AngelesNihari House is pure fire — and it’s not a rap flow.

No, it’s spicy, spicy, spicy.

Nihari House ArletaIn my quest to try all the most exotic ethnic food in Los Angeles, I wound up in Nihari House in Arleta (in the Central Northern San Fernando Valley.)

Never having sampled Pakistani food before, I asked the waitress, who runs the joint with her husband, the chef. She was very personable and welcoming. Instantly, I felt part of the family.

Nihari in San Fernando ValleyBecause of her no-non sense recommendation, I tried the nihari, the house specialty. It is beef shank slow-simmered in chili oil for seven hours or so. The gravy is hot, hot, hot. There was no need to throw in the chopped jalapeño on the side. To squeeze in lemon juice would have pushed the acidic levels into radioactive. (Excuse the hyperbole, but I’m 52 and can’t take too much spicy anymore. Fortunately, there was a remedy.) It was delicious.

Lamb Karahi Pakistani food Nahari House ArletaMy wife got the lamb Lamb Karahi, which came in its own Pakastani wok (I didn’t know they had their own woks!). And that was just as hot. It wasn’t until the chef, an affable slightly overweight guy, came out to check if everything was up to our satisfaction. He explained that we could have ordered a less spicy version. It certainly gives me confidence in a restaurant if the chef himself comes out to check on our enjoyment.

mango yogurt Pakistani drink Nihara Arleta Los AngelesFortunately, there was an answer to the chili power. It was the mango yogurt drink to neutralize acids in the stomach. Even if you don’t need to chill the heat, this drink is absolutely worth the experiment. It’s delicious and different.

If you are tired of ho-hum meat and potatoes like me, then Nihari House is a hotspot to excite your palate.

bamboo steamers Chinese thumbnail[Advert: The author sells 10-inch bamboo steamers on Amazon to broaden your culinary cooking experience. They are great for vegetables, fish and especially Chinese buns and dumplings that can be picked up frozen in specialty food markets and warmed to perfection, almost as good as the restaurant.]

Nihari House restaurant menu Arleta Los Angeles page 2

Nihari House restaurant menu Arleta Los Angeles page 1

Here’s a big tip: try to hit the Sunday buffet 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. That way you can sample so many different flavors for one low price. Unfortunately, I missed the buffet because it didn’t coincide with date night with my wife.

nihari house Los Angeles pakistani foodI thought that Mexicans were the hot chili pepper-eating champions of the world. (I remember in Mexico City seeing a 4-year-old eating a jalapeño all by itself as if it were a banana. He didn’t cry until he accidentally wiped his eyes with his fingers.) Now I know that the Pakistanis are right up there competing.

pakistani buffet in LA

Nihari House
13920 Van Nuys Blvd.
Arleta, CA 91331
818-302-6291
$$

bamboo steamers Chinese thumbnail[Advert: The author sells 10-inch bamboo steamers on Amazon to broaden your culinary cooking experience. They are great for vegetables, fish and especially Chinese buns and dumplings that can be picked up frozen in specialty food markets and warmed to perfection, almost as good as the restaurant.]

First dyslexia, then cancer, Mark Hall has gone through some trials

Mark-and-Melanie-Hall-Feature-2His doctor said, “You’ve got cancer,” but John Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns, heard, “You’re going to die.”

It was 2015 and the Grammy-winning Christian worship band was approaching 10 million sales of its albums. Mark was youth pastor in Georgia, happily married and fulfilling his call in God. He consulted a doctor friend about what he imagined to be acid reflux.

After getting the results of some scans, the doctor texted Mark: Dude, you need to call me.

308650In a subsequent phone call he told Mark there was a mass on his kidney. “It looks solid. I think it’s cancer,” he said.

Mark was thunderstruck.

“I hung up and walked to my car in a daze, wondering how I was going to break the news to my wife, Melanie; our four kids; our church; the youth group; the band,” Mark recalls in Guideposts. “The idea of telling them all made my head spin.”

God felt far away.

Two weeks before his surgery, Mark was singing with Casting Crowns at the Carson Center in Paducah, Kentucky, wondering what would happen. The band’s next song was “Just Be Held.” Unlike most of their songs, there was no story behind the song – until that night.

At that moment he had the stunning realization that God had inspired him to pen lyrics that would speak to him later in life, in the midst of his cancer.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

Casting-Crowns-press-photo-2016-billboard-1548“It was as though I was hearing those words for the very first time. Suddenly I knew who this song had been written for, and why. God in his infinite wisdom had given it to me two years earlier, knowing how desperate I would be after my diagnosis,” Mark explained. “I didn’t need to hold it together. I needed to be held, to accept his love from as many people as wanted to share it with me, to receive their prayers, all the prayers I could get.”

Doctors removed his cancerous kidney and later told him it was an aggressive form of the deadly disease, but mercifully, it was self-contained and had not spread.

The weeks following the surgery were sometimes difficult. The band cancelled a week of shows before Mark could rejoin them.

God has helped the band continue to reach hundreds of thousands with their inspirational music. Casting Crowns has won Dove, Billboard and American Music awards. The group is one of the only American bands to ever perform in North Korea., playing at the 2009 Spring Friendship Arts Festival in Pyongyang. Their single “Slow Fade” was included in Kirk Cameron’s blockbuster movie FireproofRead the rest: Dyslexia, cancer, Mark Hall.

Hair-raising ‘Harriet’ includes positive portrayal of Christianity

LMKEBRX3HYI6THQCDVC4WPP2R4(spoiler alert) After several hair-raising chase scenes, armed runaway slave Harriet Tubman gets the drop on her former slave master.

Aiming her revolver, she steps out from behind a tree and demands Gideon Brodess, riding on horseback, to drop his rifle, which he does. But he tries to surprise her and pulls his handgun.

Harriet shoots his hand, walks over and grabs his rifle and trains it on him.

TEAZJN2ZXBDCPHCGKYDSIV7POI“God did not make people to own people,” she declares.

The fact that the biopic Harriet, in theaters now, portrays Christianity in a positive light is refreshing and rare from a secular production company from Hollywood. It would have been so easy for them to gloss over the ‘Black Moses’ connection to God in a rewrite that could have highlighted only feminism and race equality.

Harriet (played by Cynthia Erivo) decided to flee slavery in Maryland rather than be sold “down the river” and parted from her husband. Despite being illiterate, she successfully made the dangerous 100-mile journey to anti-slavery Pennsylvania.

A year later, she made the dangerous incursion back into Maryland to free her family. This became the mission of her life. Harriet Tubman, born Araminta “Minty” Ross, disguised herself, often as a man, to lead more than 100 slaves to freedom. She became notorious among white slave owners, who kept increasing the bounty on her head. Several riveting chase scenes are the fodder of this movie. Read the rest: Christianity in ‘Harriet.’

Malice becomes No Malice

No_Malice-304Deep down, Malice always knew that staying in his platinum-selling worldly music group would lead to his demise.

But Malice (his real name is Gene Elliott Thorton Jr.) found a new reason to live in 2012. He changed his stage name to No Malice and gave up millions of dollars. Today his career, which hasn’t seen much light since, got a boost with a feature on Kanye West’s new album Jesus is King.

“I was just letting the wind carry me left, right, swing, either which way in my life,” No Malice said in a HipHopDX video.

“I wasn’t fulfilled. To have achieved the American Dream and still not be fulfilled only frustrated me more,” he told CBN. “I wasn’t having a good time. And when I did have a good time, it was only to find out afterwards, I was in more misery.”

Born in 1972 in the Bronx and raised in Virginia Beach, No Malice was drawn to hip hop and R&B as a child. Unlike many kids in his neighborhood, his mother and father took him to church. Still, he managed to get into all kinds of trouble.

clipse-pusha-t-malice

Malice with Pusha T in Clipse

“Even with foundation and having a good head on your shoulders, you can still make some pretty decent mistakes,” he said.

He and his brother, who went under the stage name Pusha T, formed the group Clipse, which brass-knuckled its way into the rap game. At the time hip hop was just beginning to compete against pop with choruses and anthems, but Clipse broached untouchable topics, introducing a sub genre dubbed coke rap, filled with chilling hood depictions of trafficking and addiction.

It caused a sensation and opened new terrain for hip hop. Running and gunning, killing and cursing became the new trend. Lord Willin’ in 2002 debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop album. XXL gave its coveted and rare 5-star rating to their 2006 album Hell Hath No Fury. They toured and collaborated with all the top artists.

gene thorton“Clipse blew my brain open in 2006,” wrote Nathan Slavik on DJBooth Net.

In 2009, when he hit the cusp of notoriety, riches and ever growing celebrity, No Malice suddenly pulled the plug and quit secular rap. How could he? How could he leave his brother, leave the fame, leave the riches, leave his fans?

“You can have it,” No Malice told DJ Vlad. He didn’t even let Vlad finish building the question. He cut him off with a tart reply that declared in no uncertain terms that he had no regrets and no remorse about leaving his former path. Read the rest: Malice becomes No Malice.

But it was only $1!

cupcake heavenNeed a treat on a budget? Try Hansen’s Bakery in Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles.

They specialize in custom cakes and have a long list of celebrity clients whose birthday parties they have patronized. The workers are always in the back crafting their latest master works. Out front, they have unattractive tables and chairs with a very beckoning display of cupcakes.

cupcakes in LAI was surprised at the price — a buck each. The frosting was laid on thick.

At least the day I was there, the taste didn’t live up to the looks: it wasn’t moist and fresh, it didn’t taste as sweet and buttery as expected. But ok, it was only $1, so I’m not complaining.

chocolate cupcakeI’m thinking this spot makes a great place for anyone short of cash and wanting to have a little something to eat out. It’s good for people on a budget.

The pictures certainly are tempting.

IMG_3890 (1)IMG_3887 (1)
Hansen’s Bakery
1072 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 936-4332
$

stocking stuffer miniThe author sells 10-inch bamboo steamers on Amazon to broaden your culinary cooking experience. They are great for vegetables, fish and especially Chinese buns and dumplings that can be picked up frozen in specialty food markets and warmed to perfection, almost as good as the restaurant.

Savory Indian cuisine at Urban India Grill

Urban India Cafe North HollywoodHankering for some quick Indian food but can’t afford the plane ticket to India? Try Urban India Grill on Sherman Way in North Hollywood.

The favorite item on the 2-year-old restaurant is the Chicken Tikka Masala, which we ordered super mild because we’re — without mincing words — getting old and can’t stomach the hot, hot, hot fare we used to love. The thick, sweet tomato-based gravy in which the chicken chunks are generously bathed was so good that we were spreading it on our bread and into our basmati rice. My wife and I couldn’t get enough of that sauce. It is the kind of thing you look for in an Indian restaurant, that authentic Indian flavor.

chicken tikki masala san fernando valleyWe also delighted on the Mixed Tandoori, a smattering of lamb, chicken chunks of the tikka and tandoori style served on a sizzling iron skillet over a thin bed of sauced, grilled bell pepper and onion slivers. They served us two dipping sauces: one a sweet tamarind and the other mint with lemon.

nan prati indian breadThe bread really is something. Baked in house, you have choose either nan or prati, which is a little thinner. The flatbreads have the best of all worlds, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. You could go to this restaurant just for the bread.

vegetable samosa fried turnover IndiaShireen, the proprietor, works the restaurant with her whole family. An immigrant from Bangladesh, she met and married her husband from Indian in America. Their adult children were both working the night my wife and I visited. They are both working on master’s degrees, he in marketing, she in biology, but they’re making money to pay for their studies. The son has helped establish restaurants in Dubai and Oman for an uncle. With a husky voice, Shireen made us feel like we were in family.

indian food san fernando valley

Shireen prevailed on us to try, insisting we try the vegetable Samosa, which was a deep-fried turnover filled with a pureed paste of an assortment of vegetables, again with the red and green dipping sauces.

On top of all the pluses, Urban India is way affordable. Way affordable. Apparently, before Shireen and family purchased it, the eatery was a teriyaki joint, so they still serve some Asian fusion.

Urban India Grill
12907 Sherman Way
North Hollywood, CA 91605
$

bamboo steamer bestThe author sells 10-inch bamboo steamers on Amazon to broaden your culinary cooking experience. They are great for vegetables, fish and especially Chinese buns and dumplings that can be picked up frozen in specialty food markets and warmed to perfection, almost as good as the restaurant

Who was #9? LCA football

Lighthouse lossSaints fans spent the whole game Saturday against Meadows School waiting for Lighthouse’s now-typical late game rally.

They thought they saw it when a totally unrecognizable player intercepted a long pass late the second quarter. Who is number 9? fans asked.

The 5’3″, 130-pounder was easily the shortest and smallest player on the field. Saturday’s was his first game because, new to the school, Johnny Flores was ruled out of the first month of games.

Unfortunately, Johnny’s brilliant pick didn’t spark an LCA comeback.

Nor did Marcus Scribner‘s block of a field goal attempt.

Nor did a TD run by the senior Marcus in the third quarter.

Nothing could reboot LCA.

The prince’s kiss didn’t wake the sleeping princess. The glass slipper never find Cinderella’s foot. The frog croaked unheard and unfound in the stream. There was no fairy tale ending.

Lighthouse limped to 7-68 loss to Meadows School, which traveled from Las Vegas because there reportedly aren’t many 8-man private school teams in Sin City so they have to pick up games wherever they can and usually travel far.

Lighthouse Christian Academy looked like the car that keeps stalling out on the road.

Missing was their bulldogish determination to bring the game to bigger players and humble bigger schools. The Saints didn’t run with typical speed or break their opponents with scary hits. They fumbled and ran into each other. There weren’t too many bright spots.

“We made a lot of mistakes. We lacked a lot of heart and effort,” surmised Head Coach Zach Scribner grimly. “We got a lot of work to do. If we don’t want to feel like this, we’ve got to make practice a priority. At practice we’ve got to give 110% so that when we’re in the game, we know what it’s like.”

Read the rest about breakout star in Santa Monica football

Best (secret) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley #9

handel's ice creamHandel’s Homemade Ice Cream –

8850 Corbin Ave.
Northridge
$

The owners of Handel’s tout their constant long line as their best advertising. The wait is worth it.

Try their maraschino cherry in vanilla in a double scoop or the vanilla caramel brownie. What is clear is that they splurge, not scrimp, on ingredients. There are chunks of banana in the banana cream pie and an overload of  Oreos in the Mud Pie

They call it “home made” because the cream is frozen and creamed up on site. And it’s done daily so the freshness is max. They have frozen bananas, ice cream sandwiches made with cookies, shakes and sundaes — if the 106 flavors are not enough for you (I don’t think all 106 are available every day, but imagine enough different flavors for you to try a new one every third day of the year!)

hotfudgebrownie34x46On second thought, that’s not a good idea. I’d wind up as a whale.)

The odd thing about this cold cream hot spot is their location. One would expect to find them in the Northridge Fashion Center or in a busy corner mall within walking distance of CSUN. But no, it’s in a Target center with a huge parking lot. Never mind though, it exercises its own gravity. It pulls customers to Target, not from Target. People flock to this parlor from far and wide and rave about how it competes and beats other, more well-known craft ice creameries. Read the rest of best (secret) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley.

Best (secret) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley #8

papillonPapillon International Bakery –

17305 Roscoe Blvd.
Northridge
$

Somebody needs to explain the rudiments of publicity to these guys. They recently had billboards up saying “Best Ponchiks in Town.” No picture of a ponchik. No explanation. The picture was of some Armenian dude, I think. No idea.

They could have posted a picture of a ponchik, let’s say opened up and oozing out with Nutella. They could have publicized a picture of someone eating one and being transported to Seventh Heaven. No. They didn’t do that.

ponchikFortunately for me, somebody — bless his soul — tipped me off to this Armenian pastry. It is a dough ball stuffed with filling and deep fried. Think of a jelly donut that is deep fried like a churro, and your imagination still won’t scratch the exponential blast of sweet goodness.

What Papillon lacks in advertising savvy, they compensate for with sheer taste bud pleasure. If this is “comfort food,” then you just got one week’s worth of comfort in one mouthful. The effect is about the same as a cream filled chocolate Easter egg.

The only downside to these treats — and the reason why I don’t eat them more regularly — is they probably contain about 50 kabillion calories each. But once in a while… Read the rest of Best (secret) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley.

Indian girl’s eyesight saved

healed eyesight christians indiaShe grew up fatherless in India. Her mother was poor, so they could not do anything when Ishwari started to have trouble seeing.

“I can see things that are very close to me, but far away things I am not able to see,” Ishwari said at the time.

“I took her to the eye clinic; they told me she needed surgery immediately,” her mother remembers. “But with my meager earnings, I could never afford it. I didn’t know what to do.”

medical mission eyesight IndiaIshwari had a case of bilateral degenerative cataracts, a cloudy area in the lens of the eye. This eye problem can cause blurry and less colorful vision.

Without surgery, Ishwari could eventually go blind.

When Operation Blessing — a CBN associated donation program focused on demonstrating God’s love by helping people in need — found out about Ishwari’s eye disease, they gave her family all the necessary money for the surgery to save her sight.

Christian medical missions from Africa to Southeast Asia speak volumes about the love of Christ.

The surgery was successful. Read the rest of Indian girl’s eyesight saved.

Best (secret) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley #7

o (1)It’s all good House of Kebab –

6800 Reseda Blvd.
Reseda
$$

Want to visit Iran? You don’t need a visa. Don’t worry about the State Department’s travel ban. You can go to Iran simply by visiting It’s all good House of Kebab. The decor covering the wall of the small eatery comes from old Persia, such items as license plates, old style shoes and even some scourges used by fanatics to punish themselves to appease Allah (not exactly appetizing, but legit).

But what’s really good in this restaurant is the food. I had the The bread, or nun, is crisp on the outside and chewy and warm on the inside. Had it not been for some Iranians with me when we went, I never would have ordered the deezy, a stew of beans, lamb chunks, cinnamon, lemon, pepper, salt and who knows what else magic goes into it. The Persian have imported and toned down from Indian Beryani, an outstanding curry dish. The rice all comes with saffronRead the rest: Best restaurants in the San Fernando Valley.

Best (non franchise) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley #5

soul food in the valleyLes Sisters Southern Kitchen & BBQ –

21818 Devonshire St.
Chatsworth
$$

You can find Cajun/Creole food far, far away from the South. Here’s New Orlean’s-style smothered chicken, catfish, fried chicken, jambalaya, hush puppies, hot links and corn bread. Their “Muddy Waters” is a house tea and lemonade.

muddy waters southern lemonade tea les sisters chatsworthThe restaurant was started by two friends who argued over everything and couldn’t agree on a name. Someone observed they argued like sisters, so he suggested the hook in a bit of French (since New Orleans has French origins), and the name has stuck for 30 years. Les Sister’s doesn’t have a huge sign or sit on a large parking lot. If you’re driving down Devonshire on the Northwestern corner of the San Fernando Valley, it’s easy to miss. I suggest you follow your nose — or your GPS.

The day my wife and I went here, the waitress sat down at the table with us to take our order. Far from being an “invasion of our space,” the gesture gave us a homey, family feel that took off the professional distance in almost every restaurant. It was a nice change of pace. Read the rest Best Restaurants in the San Fernando Valley.

Best (non franchise) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley #4

oChio’s Peruvian Grill –

7755 Sepulveda Blvd.
Van Nuys
$$

To live in LA is to enjoy exotic food. Now that Mexican food has spread across the U.S., Angelinos are now in a quest for new tastes from the remotest parts of the globe. Apparently over a 1,000 Peruvians call Van Nuys their home, so you can find a cache of Andes-styled eateries. Among them, Chio’s stands out. The restaurant started on Sepulveda Blvd, the grubbery is opening restaurants elsewhere in the Valley.

I can see why they are expanding. I had the Lomo Saltado, which dares to put the French fries right in the savory beef slivers with liquidy sauce. There’s a healthy dollop of white rice too. I was impressed that the serving size was generous for the price — no leftover hunger. The inadequate parking reflects the humble immigrant beginnings of this gem. Let me assure you, it’s worth the trouble to get parking once you’re inside the cozy restaurant watching flames leap up in the kitchen grill. They have Peruvian beer, but being a teetotaler, I can’t opine on its craftsmanship.

Best (non franchise) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley #3

crave cafeCrave Cafe –

14505 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks
$$

Does your husband want a burger and you want sushi? No worries. There’s a place that caters to both.

No, I’m not kidding.

Crave is definitely pushing the outer limits of the envelope of “eclectic.”

There are actually two Craves because the owner sold them to two different buyers. I’m talking about the one at Van Nuys Blvd. in Sherman Oaks is the one that has the Crave sushi house right next to and with a door between the two so that you can order from. So it’s easy to savor both sushi and hamburgers at the same table (not in a Food Court).

As a kicker, Crave has gourmet coffees and pastries. I’ve spent a nice evening spooning in a smooth and creamy cheesecake while watching American Ninja with my wife. The ironies were not lost on me.

And it’s open 24 hours, which is good to know because your options for a late, late dinner are few and far between in the Valley. Read the rest of Best Restaurants in the San Fernando Valley.

Best (non franchise) restaurants in the San Fernando Valley #2

korean mexican tacosCorner Grille –

8261 Sepulveda Blvd.
Panorama City
$

I had a hard time believing this store front eatery — in modest digs, and in not the best of neighborhoods — had 976 reviews on Yelp with a 4-and-a-half star rating. I wouldn’t say it looked from the outside like a dive. I just never would have ventured in had it not been for the ratings on Yelp. That caught my attention and made me want to give it a try.

Good thing.

The place features fusion Mexican tacos made with Korean barbecue beef. The exotic mix sounded enticing and the delectable morsel did not disappoint. You might expect such audacious fusion food from a Michelin-ranked chef at a five-star hotel. But no, it’s right here in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, at the crossroads of Nowhere and Anonymity. This is definitely a hidden gem. There’s also Korean barbecue beef fries to die for.

And it’s cheap.

The Corner Grille is now my go-to for a quick and cheap meal whenever I’m in the neighborhood and hungry. What’s more, it’s the place I surprise my Westside friends with when I take them. Read the rest of Best restaurants in the San Fernando Valley.

Stiletto stripper escapes to Jesus

Harmony dust.jpg“I didn’t know a lot about Christians, but I was pretty sure they didn’t like strippers,” says Harmony Dust.

Her mother was a cocaine addict and her stepfather was a drug dealer in Venice, California. They had a very violent relationship, she says on an I am Second video.

Harmony was also sexually abused throughout her life by multiple people starting at the age of 5 and was raped as a teen.

She began to write suicide notes and thinking about how’d she’d kill herself. She also attempted suicide.

When she was 13, her mother’s boyfriend raped her. Her mother did nothing to prevent it, even though she was aware of what was going on.

harmony-grillo“Not because she was horrible or bad but because she taught me what she learned when she was a young girl being abused,” Harmony says. “And that it’s my fault. If you didn’t wear tank tops or shorts that wouldn’t be happening. You should know that’s how men are.”

Her mother left with her boyfriend to Canada for three months and left Harmony and her brother with $20 and a book of food stamps to fend for themselves. Harmony stole from liquor stores so she could feed herself and her brother.

That summer Harmony became involved with an older boy from her neighborhood. “I looked at him and saw this knight in shining armor,” she says. “I no idea his intention was to exploit me.”

When her boyfriend proposed she make money for them both by stripping, she was opposed to the idea. Because he kept pressuring her, she reached out to her psychology professor as someone she could trust.

She thought the psychology professor would give her solid advice. Instead, he steered her toward the unsavory path: “I don’t see any problem with it,” he said.

“By the way,” he asked casually as she was leaving, “which club were you thinking of stripping for?”

Unthinkingly, she told him the truth and the lecherous prof showed up to watch her.

Even with these turn of events, she didn’t realize that her boyfriend was nothing more than a pimp exploiting her.

But once she got into the sex industry, she could never get out. Using the name “Monique” and a fake backstory, she would “hustle” to be the best and make as much money as possible. Sometimes clients crossed boundaries. She defended herself with a stiletto, smashing their heads.

Outside of the club, modesty was her dress code: baggy clothing and sunglasses. Read the rest of stiletto stripper comes to Jesus

She had no parents

no parentsAngela had no parents.

Her dad was already married when he got in a relationship with her mother. When Angela was born, her father decided to have nothing to do with her. Her mom, who was very young, similarly gave her up to be raised by a great aunt.

Thank God for “Great Auntie,” but she, from time to time, would regrettably reinforce the rejection by saying things like: “Children like you whose parents aren’t married, they call them bastards.”

“I would ask, ‘Why did my parents not want me?’ There were no calls, no birthday cards,” Angela narrates on a CBN video. “As a child, I would think of parents and feel very alone. There was a deep longing to be part of my family.”

Shame accompanied her growing up.

““If your own parents don’t love you, why would you feel lovable by anyone else?” she asks.

Just once, she met her father. He seemed like a total stranger and Angela felt awkward. Though she wanted very desperately a relationship with her dad, she realized he didn’t want to have anything to do with her, so she didn’t pursue it.

She was taken to church and sang, “Jesus loves me.” But she was troubled by the words: “I wondered if He loved everybody, why He let me be born into this situation. Why someone who supposedly loved me enough to die for me didn’t even love me enough to give me a family?”

She walked to church, but no one ever told her to read the Bible. She learned about the sinful condition of mankind but not about God’s love. Eventually, she stopped going. It was just rules.

“I just said, ‘Forget it.’ I didn’t believe that God really loved me, and I just walked away,” she says.

She joined the military and got married. Her first husband wasn’t “all in,” so the marriage didn’t last more than a few years. Her second husband was emotional abusive and ridiculed her family background.

She found herself all alone and frustrated in her quest for happiness.

At the time she worked for the federal government. On 9/11, she watched with horror as the Twin Towers burned and people threw themselves from the upper levels. Read the rest of Rejected by Mom and Dad.

Babylonian conquest of Israel confirmed by archaeology

shimon gibsonNebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem represented a watershed in Jewish history, ushering in the era of the captivity. The carnage in Jerusalem was catastrophic and was lamented by generations of Jews.

But the conquest, narrated assiduously in the Bible, was never discovered in archaeological digs and documented by field researchers.

Until now.

Archaeologists, led by a professor with North Carolina University at Charlotte, have uncovered ruins that correspond to the Babylonian attack. The team unearthed layers of ash, carbonized wood, broken pottery and a mansion.

Nabuchadnezzar conquest Jerusalem jewel ornament“What we’re finding is the result of that destruction. It’s the kind of jumble that you would expect to find in a ruined household following a raid or battle,” says Shimon Gibson, professor of history at the university. “Household objects, lamps, broken bits from pottery which had been overturned and shattered and arrowheads and a piece of jewelry which might have been lost and buried in the destruction.”

Every turn of the archaeologist’s spade confirms another page of the Bible.

Jerusalem became a vassal state of Babylon during the Iron Age but rebelled twice — first under King Jehoiakim and then again under King Zedekiah. In 586 BC, Nabuchadnezzar — the “Destroyer of Nations” — set out to make an example of their repeated resistance and, after a two year siege, breached the gate and tore down all “great houses” and burned them with fire.

excavations JerusalemKing Solomon’s temple was stripped of its treasures and razed. The wall around Jerusalem was leveled.

Gibson and his team found that Jerusalem was a sprawling and rich cosmopolitan city, larger than previously thought, at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest.

“The combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction,” Gibson says in a Haaretz news article. “Nobody abandons golden jewelry, and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse.”

The arrowheads have been identified as Scythian, used during the 7th and 6th centuries BC by Nebuchadnezzar’s troops.

“They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors,” Professor Gibson says. “Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE.”

The jewelry piece is half gold and half silver. It consists of a cluster of grapes suspended from a cup-like top that might have been an earring or a tassel and seems to be a bauble for a Jerusalem elite, not a temple decoration, Gibson says.

“Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down,” Gibson says. “(It) is a unique find and it is a clear indication of the wealth of the inhabitants of the city at the time of the siege.”

The finely worked fragment may have been torn from a more significant artifact but not enough of it survives to identify its original nature definitively, researchers think. Read the rest of Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem confirmed by archaeology.

God’s call. To cooking?

christian chefs internationalWhen God called Ira Krizo distinctly and undeniably to ministry, “there was no use waiting any longer,” he says.

So he immediately went to New York… to culinary school.

Yes, cooking.

Ira wasn’t called to the pastorate. He wasn’t called to the foreign field as a missionary. He wasn’t called into worship.

He was called to be a chef — a Christian chef. After all, God’s calling and gifting is to myriad areas of life, not just stereotypical “ministry.”

christian culinary academyToday, Ira is the president of Christian Chefs International, a network of believers who have almost as much gusto for gourmet cooking as the Gospel.

With 14 chapters active or pending in America and abroad, the Cannon Beach, Oregon-based non profit holds annual conferences and boasts a 1-year, non-denominational culinary school where they don’t throw knives at the students.

“In many secular kitchens I’ve worked in, I’ve seen the chef yelling and screaming all day long at people,” writes Ira in a devotional on CCI’s website. “I’ve seen chefs throw things; once even knives. Is that the best way?”

Ira recommends humbly confronting head chefs who abuse their authority. He suggests chefs use the Biblical model: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-18 (NKJV)

Even reality TV programs depict the outbursts of rage that occur under pressure when chefs are striving to meet the demands of their patrons.

Under the title “Christians in the Kitchen,” the CCI website offers devotions for cooks that include ethics in the kitchen, being content (restaurants typically experience a high turnover of staff) and being “prayed up” for the pressures of the job. One encourages disciples to be “sourdough Christians,” with analogies per ingredient. Read more about God’s calling to cooking.

A spider saved a Marine in WW2

s-l300After intense fighting against the Japanese on Okinawa during World War II, a Marine got separated from his unit amid the explosions, smoke, and chaos of battle.

He was alone in the hills in dangerous enemy territory. The sun was setting, and the stranded Marine heard the approach of Japanese soldiers so he took refuge in one of the many caves on the ridge.

It was no use. As the minutes passed, he realized the Japanese were searching methodically cave by cave for any American soldiers. With grim resignation, he realized his own death was imminent and inevitable. It was only a matter of time before the enemy would approach his cave and find him in the recesses.

But the Marine was a Christian, so he prayed to God.

lossy-page1-750px-photograph_of_a_marine_aiming_at_a_japanese_sniper_on_okinawa_-_nara_-_532559-tif“Lord, if it be your will, please protect me,” he prayed, as narrated on a website by Father Hugh Duffy. “Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”

As he prayed, he observed a spider building a web over the crawl space of an entrance to the cave. He scoffed on the inside.

“Ha! What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web,” the anonymous Marine thought. “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one.”

He remained extremely still and quiet as he listened. The enemy was getting closer. He readied himself to make a last stand.

But to his surprise, the Japanese soldiers passed by his cave and didn’t search its interior. Read the rest: prayer saved a Marine by way of a spider’s web.

Kenya terror attack on Christians foiled by Muslims

young Somali fighter on border of kenyaThe latest terror attack perpetrated by radical Muslims against Christians was thwarted by a group of moderate Muslims in Kenya.

On July 21st, a group of Muslims learned of an imminent terror strike in the war-torn northeastern corner of Mandera County. They responded quickly by evacuating their countrymen — all Christians — from a hospital construction site in Kutulo, officials said.

By the time the arms-toting Muslim fanatics arrived, their targeted victims were not to be found.

“They confronted the gunmen, who proceeded to the site and failed to get what they wanted,” Mohamed Birik told reporters. The attackers “opened fire but no one was injured before they escaped.”

The attempted massacre was led by a jihadist al-Shabaab group rampaging through East Africa. Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, which has executed prior attacks with success, including Christmas attacks last year that killed 14 in Kenya.

In 2012 they pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda but subsequently fell out with leadership over disagreements about their priorities. In 2014, the terror group was estimated to be 9,000 strong. At present, they have abandoned urban centers but control swaths of rural territory.

The group was formed in Somalia when the Islamic Courts Union was defeated in 2006 by the Somali Transitional Government. They like to stage attacks in Kenya, which is a strong anti-terrorism ally and a largely Christian nation in a Muslim region. Mandera County, a triangular territory that is pinched between Somalia and Ethiopia, is particularly vulnerable to such attacks because of its exposed geographical position.

Read the rest of Muslims foil terror plot.

The quiet kid is heard in football

lighthouse christian academy football santa MonicaHe was the quietest of five brothers. While his older brothers fought and his younger brother was being the mischievous clown, Steven Lahood was the quiet — and obedient — of the siblings, both at home and at school.

But Friday, Steven made himself heard, first with a touchdown on the second play of the game and then by stripping the ball from Teach Tech Charter High player and running almost for a touchdown in what was Lighthouse’s last chance to overtake its opponents.

Despite the sophomore’s eruption on the football field, Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica lost its opening game 25-38 in its sputtered bid to establish league dominance this year.

2019 was supposed to be the year for the Saints. With a crop of talented, speedy and big seniors, LCA hoped to win by big margins.

But key man, Levi Photenhauer, injured his knee in the first quarter and went out for the game. Without the speed of “Cheese” (as coach calls him for his shock of red hair), the Saints’ offense centered pretty much around hulkish Marcus Scribner, who trains constantly and wants to crack the NFL.

“We became one-dimensional,” said Head Coach Zach Scribner, Marcus’ uncle.

Marcus delivered.

After a controversial ref’s call annulled a Lighthouse touchdown because of a smart block by Marcus, the blond-haired kid returned undaunted to the offense and caught a pass to not be denied the TD.

But it was not enough. At the end of the day, the Tech’s Rams from Los Angeles, weaved and wobbled their way through the Saints enough times to secure the win. Read the rest about Small Christian School’s football team.

Clubbing, drinking and hookups didn’t help her rejection

how do i overcome rejectionJordone Branch always felt like an outsider and rejected, so she ended the misery of internalizing her pain by swallowing 31 Ibuprofens in the 9th grade.

“I felt like I wanted to be accepted by people and I wasn’t,” Jordone recounts in a CBN video. “I had this strong craving that wanted to be loved.”

She threw up those pills and survived.

Then in high school, she sought love and acceptance through a boyfriend and sex.

“It felt like love, but it wasn’t love,” she says. “It didn’t help at all. It made it worse actually.”

jordone branchAt college, she continued to seek happiness where she would never find it: clubbing, getting drunk and pre-marital sex.

“I had a very deep level of sadness inside of me,” she confides. “When I got high, I wouldn’t think about my insecurities. When I got drunk, I wouldn’t think about my low self-esteem.”

Raised in church, she never stopped attending, but there was a major disconnect.

“I didn’t know what it meant to seek God,” she explains. “You smoke weed on Friday and sing in the choir on Sunday. I didn’t even know that any of the stuff I was doing was wrong.”

At a networking conference after graduation, she met a man, went out for drinks, and then got date-raped. When she went to police, she was told there was not enough evidence.

“I was depressed, just all the negative emotions you could think of,” Jordone says. “I remember driving down this road and thinking, ‘Maybe I could run into this tree and people won’t think it was intentionally a suicide.’”

Fortunately, she didn’t carry through with it.

Instead, she shared her troubles with a friend a few weeks later and he told her that Christ could heal her heart.

‘When he started talking about God, it was different,” she says. “It was genuine and sincere. It wasn’t surface level. He talked about God is his life and a relationship with Him. I felt like my eyes had been opened. I just started crying. I got it. I’d been wrong.” Read the rest of Rejection.

Healed of inoperable tumor

atp57_evelyn_clubb_hdvOver her whole adult life, Evelyn Cartwright suffered unbearable headaches that she thought were due to high blood pressure.

In 2014, she experienced a headache like no other.

“Kind of like a heartbeat just thumping on the top of my head,” she told the 700 Club. “And the pain was worse than anything I had ever felt in my life before.”

Evelyn went to the emergency room and after having an MRI, she received the news that she had a inoperable, benign tumor on her brain.

Over three months, Evelyn went through five rounds of radiation.

While she went through the treatment, Evelyn’s husband was dying and she needed to take care of him.

“God, where are You through all of this?” she cried. “What’s really going on here?’”

She recruited a prayer group to support her.

Read the rest healed of inoperable tumor.

Neo Nazi wooed out of hate by black Christian lady

unlikely friendshipAn African American drove Michael Kent into a neo Nazi hate group, and another one pulled him out.

“I hurt a lot of people,” he says tearfully in an “I Am Second Conversations” video. “I hurt a lot of kids when I was a kid. Their parents were coming after me.”

Michael’s sojourn into racism began when he was 12 years old and struck up a budding friendship with a black boy in Erie, PA.

“I got me a black friend. No animosity or nothing. We were as thick as thieves. We got along great,” Michael recalls. One day he was invited to his house.

“I don’t want that blue-eyed devil in my house,” his mother declared.

His friend was never allowed to talk to him after that. “My first encounter with racism was that day,” he says.

“It was over,” Michael recalls. “You guys don’t like accepting me no matter what. I was discriminated against, and it was like, ‘Why?’”

neo nazi to christianBy the time he was 15, he started cooking up methamphetamines and getting involved with neo Nazis, even working closely with the higher-ups. He began passing out hate pamphlets and participating in marches on the state capitol.

Later, when he had a child himself, he understood why other parents had tried to protect their kids.

“These people I freaking hurt and I destroyed their lives, they were just trying to protect their kid,” he says. “I cried like a little baby the day my son was born because I know that if anybody hurt my kid, I’d kill them. That’s when I knew I had to walk away.”

What really helped him get out of the neo Nazis was a female African American probation officer, who visited his house in Pinal County, Arizona, unaccompanied. Because of his violent involvement with the skinheads, all of his previous probation officers — white officers — took pains to show up with a wingman.

“Not even people of my own race showed up at my house alone,” Michael says. “I gained a lot of respect for her that day.”

Tiffany Whittier’s job was to check for parole violations after his release in 2006 for drugs and weapons charges.

But Tiffany, a committed Christian, went beyond the call of duty and reached out to Michael with some heart-to-heart life coaching. She urged him to tear down the Hitler paraphernalia decorating his walls. He complied with everything, worked his job and paid his fines. He got swastika tattoos covered up.

Inside, his heart was melted by the kindness of Tiffany.

“Why did you believe in me?” he asked her. (“I Am Second Conversations” adds a twist to the usual testimonial videos of a person seated in a white chair. In these, two people talk face to face in two white chairs.)

“Why did you want to help me to change? You put forth more of an effort than anybody I’ve had in my life. Why? Not even people of my own race wanted to help me.” Read the rest: Neo Nazi renounces hate thanks to black Christian 

FMX daredevil overcame fear with faith

ronnie faisst fmx christianWhen he made the switch from racing to daredevil trick riding, Ronnie Faisst got sponsors, pay, notoriety… and a drug habit.

“You can’t become a top professional racer if you’re a partier. Tight diets and training everyday — that’s the background I came from. Didn’t do any drugs, didn’t drink, didn’t want to,” Ronnie says on This is Me video.

“But then when you got into freestyle, all you really needed was to be willing to take some risk. So we found you could party and still do this. We all got caught up in girls, drugs, alcohol, late nights.”

ronnie faisst tricksFor 10 years, Ronnie soared at the top the emerging Freestyle Motocross, or FMX, pioneering tricks and competing on tour. But while his motorbike flew, his soul was sinking into the depths of sin.

Ironically the thrills-seeker who thrived off of the adrenaline rush found Jesus in a very ho-hum way, watching a televangelist explain the gospel. What drove him to the arms of Jesus? His greatest obstacle in freestyle: fear.

“If you’re a free-style riders, there’s gonna be tricks that scare you a little bit. You have to push through that fear to learn the trick. Right at that time, the back flip came out which to land one you might crash five,” Ronnie says.

ronnie faisst christian“This dude speaking on T.V. was talking about faith, and it spoke to me because he was speaking about fear. I experienced fear everyday,” he says. “I thought, ‘This dude has such a cool view on life. I’ve never really looked at it that way.’ I got saved in my bedroom just watching this program. It makes you feel good. God’s on your side. God starts blessing you.”

Ronnie, from Murrieta, California who now lives in Kansas, is an X Games regular since 2000, winning Moto X bronze medal four times. The 42-year-old was featured in the original Crusty Demons daredevil videos.

He was living his dream, getting paid to ride his motorcycle and perform tricks and compete — and God was on his side.

Initially he didn’t realize there was much more to the Christian life.

“I had a friend give me a Bible for Christmas. Things were just jumping off the page at me,” Ronnie remembers. His life didn’t line up with the demand of the Bible. Read the rest: dirt bike daredevil Ronnie Faisst comes to Jesus.

The Rock now looks to the THE ROCK

dwayne johson muscles (1)Before he became Hollywood’s most bankable movie star, Dwayne Johnson got smacked-down by life — arrests, evictions, family suicide attempts, football failure, divorce — and the concurrent depression drove him to God.

“I have my own special relationship with God, you know, and I certainly, I feel very blessed. I count my blessings, every day,” the retired WWF wrestler told the Gospel Herald.

The monikored “Rock” has learned to rely on the Real Rock.

Both his dad and maternal grandfather were wrestlers. Dwayne Johnson grew up in Hawaii, son to a black Canadian father, Rocky Johnson, and a Samoan mother. There was instability in his home, and he was getting arrested over and over — for fighting, theft, and check forgery. Then his mom got evicted, and mom and son were forced to leave Hawaii.

The rude awakening injected in him a measure of sobriety. He decided to turn his life around and turned to football. Working hard, he earned a scholarship as a defensive tackle at the University of Miami. He eventually graduated with a degree in criminology, but his dream was NFL stardom.

dwayne-johnson-actor-smile-faceAfter going undrafted, he moved to Canada and tried out for the Calgary Stampeders and slept on a stained mattress he found in the trash outside a sex motel. He subsisted on Ramen noodles for two months into the season.

“The first ‘rock bottom’ that I hit was out of college where I worked for 10 years from the time I started playing football at 14 years old to the time I was 23…and did not get drafted,” he told the Tribune News Service. “I played in the CFL (Canadian Football League) for approximately 200 bucks a week Canadian. I got cut from the team a couple of months later, and I had to close that chapter in my life.

Having to face the death of a dream, with $7 left in his pocket, he returned to his father’s house in Tampa, Florida.

dwayne-johnson“It’s a tough experience when you have to move back in with your parents. And at that time, my parents — we never lived in a home, they had a little small apartment in Tampa, Fla., and I had to move in with them. And then you go through the challenges of that. You hit depression.”

Against the wishes of his dad, who struggled to provide for the family as a journeyman wrestler, Dwayne launched a career as a professional wrestler. Unlike his dad, he was a blockbuster success as a trash talker with an ebullient personality. The audiences of the late 1990s and early 2000s loved him, and “The Rock” raked in huge ratings, earnings and championships for WWF.

After eight years, he turned to acting with a big splash in The Scorpion King in 2002. He followed up the initial modest success with a string of career-killing family movies. What was happening to the Herculean action movie hero?

My career was a little shaky – really shaky,” he told Rolling Stone.

A return to wrestling was an unthinkable admission of failure.

“What the ____ did I do with my career?” he wondered at the time.

In 2007, the always confident action man lost the confidence of his beloved wife, and the couple divorced. He submerged again into depression.

“Around 2008, 2009, I was going through a lot of personal ____ that was really _______ me up,” he told People magazine. “I was just struggling, man. Struggling to figure out what kind of dad am I gonna be. Realizing I’d done a piss-poor job of cultivating relationships, and a lot of my friends had fallen by the wayside. I was just scared.”

Out of the darkness, he found God’s light. Read the rest: Dwayne Johnson Christian.

Jake was a fake, and how transgenderism didn’t work for Laura

734546207001_6057933073001_6057933843001-vsShe changed her name to Jake and tried to forget she was born female.

“At first it was the greatest thing ever. I was on Cloud Nine,” says Laura Perry, who transitioned into a man through surgery and hormone treatments, then married a male who transitioned to female.

“I started to grow facial hair. I began to grow sideburns. My voice began to get lower. Even the body shape began to change a little bit. In 2009, I had a double mastectomy and chest reconstruction to look like a man,” she says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “I thought this was the epitome of everything I wanted.”

But years later, she began to realize that the path she had been encouraged to take hadn’t really helped her find the happiness she sought.

lauraperry“Transgenderism will lead to depression because it’s not real,” Laura told Black Christian News Network 1. “It is a lie from the pit of Hell. You cannot change your gender. It’s just not biologically possible.”

After giving her life to God and turning back into a woman, she wrote a book “Transgendered to Transformed.

Her misguided venture down the path of transgenderism has its roots in her childhood.

Her mom was quiet and really connected with her quiet brother, while little Laura was rambunctious and athletic. She didn’t enjoy a great relationship with her mom. Laura concluded that boys were preferred over girls — and she fantasized about being a boy.

“Very early in life I believed the lie that I wasn’t loved as a girl,” she says. “Everything in life got put through this lens that I should’ve been a boy.”

At 8, she was molested by a friend’s brother, and this aroused precocious passions in her. She discovered porn and became hooked on it in middle school. She slept around trying to earn the affections of boys in high school, but ultimately they despised her.

In college, Laura continued sleeping around until she burned out. “There just wasn’t any satisfaction in it anymore,” she says.

That’s when she started remembering her childhood fantasy of wanting to be a boy.

She heard about a “transgender support group,” and from the first meeting she was encouraged by enthusiastic people that “coming out” as transgender was brave and the key to happiness. After two years of hormone treatments and surgeries to refashion her body into a male shape, she changed her name legally to Jake on her birth certificate and her driver’s license.

“I just wanted to be a man and completely forget that I had ever been born female,” she says. “I wanted to erase the existence of Laura.”

But she came to realize Jake was a fake.

“In all my times of rebellion, I knew that God was real,” she says. “After my surgery I realized that it hadn’t made me a man. I was legally a male, and I could look down at my license and it says I was male. But I was still the same person, just without breasts. It was devastating to me because I had really believed that I would become a man.”

jake transgender

As Jake

A few years later, her mom asked her make a website for her Bible study. Although Laura had no interest in the Bible, she decided to help her mom with the technical Internet details of website creation.

“As I began to read her notes, I was blown away. I had always seen the Bible as God’s rule book,” she says. “I had never seen the character or the heart of God. I began to see a loving and faithful God, not the angry, judgmental God that I’d always seen before.”

She began calling her mom daily. When a crisis struck, her mom encouraged her to trust the Lord. Her mom’s compassion and loving amiability was a stark contrast with the distant mom she knew in her childhood.

“She had been so radically transformed,” Laura remembers. “It was at that moment I knew the Gospel was true. I knew that Christ was alive. I knew there was a transforming power because I could see how my mom had been totally changed. That night I prayed and asked the Lord into my heart.”

At first, she pursued Christ as “a man of God.”

“I could not face being a female. There was so much pain attached because of what those guys had done and because of all the lies I’d believed all my life,” she says. “I felt like it was a shameful thing to be a female.”

After a month of crying out to Jesus night after night, she saw a vision of the Lord on one knee, his hand extended towards her.

The still small voice of the Lord spoke to her heart: Laura, do you trust Me?

Read the rest: Laura transitions back to the woman God made her.

‘You killed Christ’ taunt filled him horror of ‘Christians’

barri-and-jeffHis Jewish mother was smuggled out of Nazi German by nuns, but tragically, she later died in a mental hospital.

“We could get mom out of Nazi Germany, but couldn’t quite get Germany out of mom,” says Dr. Jeffrey Seif.

Living in a Jewish community in Texas as a young person, Jeffrey got smacked with anti-semitism.

“One time around 12 or 13 years old, I’m walking down the street and these two girls yelled ‘Hey you dirty Jew, you killed Christ!” Jeffrey recounts. “I remember that vividly.”

So his first brush with what he thought were Christians provoked unmitigated horror in his heart.

seifAs a young boy, Seif was sent to a Yeshiva– a very strict, religious Jewish school. It changed his mindset about following Judaism because, by nature, he was rebellious.

“I’m 16 now and as I’m laying on my bed my mother comes in and tells me to clean up my room and I gave her a hard time. She says ‘Well if you don’t like it you can leave!’ And so I left!” Jeffrey says.

He ran away from home, hitchhiked to California and ended up in San Francisco.

This is where he got his first positive exposure to Christians.

They were very nice, they were gracious, they’d give me a ride, they would want to give me a meal,” Jeffrey says. “I realized there were Christian people that were kind of cool.”

At school, Seif got high on drugs and received D’s and F’s in his classes.

“I wasn’t on anyone’s ‘most likely to succeed list,’” he recalls. “I was almost like road kill on the highway of life.”

Later in Pennsylvania as Jeffrey walked down the street, a man with hair down to his waist gave him a pamphlet and told him he wanted to talk to him about Jesus.

“Look man, I’m Jewish; I don’t believe in Jesus,” Seif responded curtly.

“Why not?” the man replied. Read the rest of Overcoming anti-semitism to come to Christ.

Framed man forgives corrupt cop, becomes friend after Jesus moves in his life

jameel_mcgee_marqueeIn prison, Jameel “Zuki” McGee vowed revenge on the cop who framed him unjustly.

“I made a goal for myself in prison to harm the officer whenever I got out,” Jameel says in an “I am second” video. “I was deeply hurt by everything that happened.”

But three things softened his simmering rage: He found out that he had become a father. Second, the corrupt cop got saved. Third, Jameel started reading his Bible in the cell.

Today, Jameel McGee, wrongly convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, and former corrupt cop Andrew Collins are friends and brothers in Christ thanks to an unusual outpouring of grace and forgiveness.

Years after the fateful false accusation, years after being released from jail before schedule, Jameel happened to see the formerly crooked cop who stole years out of his life. Jameel was with his son and so was Andrew.

crooked copJameel was quick to forgive. Evil was overturned by grace.

Andrew Collins had a rough home life. Growing up in Benton Harbor City, Michigan, he decided to become a cop because a police officer, summoned to his parent’s home, brought peace during one particularly acute domestic dispute. Little Andrew associated heroism with the cop.

“I remember thinking from that point on, that’s what I want to do with the rest of my life,” Andrew says.

He started police work with high ideals. But eventually, his sense of justice crumbled and the old evil upbringing began to exercise a bizarre control over his professional course.

Jameel McGee also grew up in tough circumstances.

“Mom used to kick the crap out of us,” says Jameel, the youngest of six. Dad left the picture early on. “Violence became a part of my nature.”

Their lives became intertwined in February of 2006 when Officer Andrew, on the narcotics beat for four months, acted on a tip and was looking for a crack dealer. The car matched the description, but the suspect did not.

Then Jameel walked out of the grocery store with milk and groceries. Because he nearly matched the description, Andrew moved in.

“Where’s the dope?” he barked at Jameel.

“What?” Jameel responded. “What dope?”

Andrew, who was plain clothes, pulled his badge. Jameel, who had been confused by the confrontation, suddenly realized that something had gone terribly wrong.

“This is for real,” he thought.

Cops are rewarded for arrests and convictions. Andrew decided that Jameel was his suspect and made the arrest. He wrote in his report that he found dope on him. That was a lie. Jameel was charged with possession with intent to distribute. Andrew fudged facts, knowing this would secure a conviction in court. He didn’t really think much about the possibility that he nabbed the wrong guy.

This is what Andrew had come to. The old ideals of heroism has succumbed to the dirty work of busting guys without regard for the means. Sadly, his conscience didn’t bother him.

Andrew’s life had descended into utter corruption, and there was no way out… until he got caught.

“Two years after I met Jameel, I got caught with crack, heroin and marijuana in my office,” Andrew says. “I got caught on a Tuesday. I thought about killing myself on Wednesday.

“I couldn’t see coming back from this.”

Fortunately, his wife was a Christian, and at her urging, Andrew went to see her pastor. He confessed everything. Read the rest of crooked cop and framed man.

Will Katy Perry turn back to God after court loss to Christian rapper?

5cffc1a525f2e72cae298eec-2732-2049In a court decision with implications for Christian Hip Hop at large, Flame won a plagiarism suit against pop star Katy Perry, who stole his beat from “Joyful Noise” and included it in her #1 song “Dark Horse,” according to a Los Angeles jury.

Damages are yet to be established by the court.

It was a victory for Flame, whose real name is Marcus Gray. But it is also a resounding validation for Christian Hip Hop (CHH), which gets criticized for being copycat, unoriginal, even corny. Perry extracted the Flame’s 2008 synth beat almost unaltered for her 2013 song, whose video was the first of a female artist to reach a billion views on YouTube.

The brazen daylight robbery of intellectual property proves once and for all that CHH is a source of creativity, not a knockoff.

Apparently it was Flame’s DJ at the time Cho’zyn Boy who sniffed out the fraud when he heard “Dark House.” He dissected the two songs and found that the only difference in the beat lines was Dark Horse sped up its tempo from 66 BPM to 76 BPM and dropped pitch down one decimal from Db to C, according to Rapzilla.

FLAME Christian Hip HopPerry and her lawyers argued that her song-writing crew never heard “Joyful Noise” and didn’t even know of Flame. They contended that beats can sound similar from one song to the next.

Flame’s lawyer hog-washed such claims, saying the music diva thought she could get away with highway robbery because Flame was a low-level musician – and Christian.

“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” argued Michael A Kahn, as reported by the Guardian. Flame’s video reached 2 million viewers and was too widely known for jurors to believe Perry.

But behind the court conflict, there’s an epic battle going on that transcends a significant payout for the Christian rapper, who turned down $1 million from secular producers that offered him a contract on the condition he tone down the Jesus talk.

Behind the settlement and intellectual property infringement, there is also a war for the precious, prodigal soul of Katy Perry. Read the rest Katy Perry’s Dark Horse compared to Flame’s Joyful Noise.

When her husband (a pastor) died of AIDS, Tamara Bennett thought her life was over

tamara bennett healing hurtsTamara Bennett didn’t believe the doctor when he said her husband had AIDS and was dying.

“Tell him,” Tamara told her husband, “tell him that’s not right, that he’s got the wrong guy.

Her husband was silent in the face of the news.

The doctor said he would give the couple a few minutes to talk in private and discuss things.

Tamara’s husband was a dynamic pastor of a burgeoning church. How could he have AIDS?

After the doctor left the room, her husband spoke quietly but firmly. “I never had an affair on you,” he said. “This was something that happened before I met you.”

tamara bennet and husbandTamara went to the bathroom and stuffed all the toilet paper into her face as she cried.

The last five years of her 13-year marriage would be taking care of her dying husband at a time when you didn’t openly discuss AIDS in the church, she says in a Journey Faith Film video.

As she sought the Lord, He spoke to spoke to her heart and encouraged her that He wasn’t abandoning her in the crisis.

Her husband refused to take any medication because of the amount of drugs he would have to ingest and the horrible side effects.

Tamara knew that her husband could no longer function in ministry when the AIDS progressed and caused dementia. Three times in one morning, he asked, “What day is it today?

“It’s Sunday,” she responded.

“Oh, we have to go to church,” he replied. Then he repeated the same question. Read the rest: Life after AIDS.

Either way — as a communist or a Christian — he ran from cops

julio moraleja pastor in Spain

Julio Moraleja at left

Julio Moraleja ran from the cops when he was a communist in post-WW2 fascist Spain, so running an illegal underground church when he converted to Christ was no big deal.

“I just ran really fast,” says Julio, who became a Christian during the repressive, anti-Protestant government of Francisco Franco. “We hid from the police. They never caught us.”

In Spain, Franco infamously stamped out evangelical churches, suppressed freedoms and tried to drive born-again Christians out of the country.

But the crackdowns on house churches, the raids and the secret police did not intimidate Julio, who was accustomed to subversive activities as a communist factory worker trying to overthrow the capitalist dictatorship.

Julio Moraleja Arias (Spaniards use both the last name of Dad and that of Mom), now 67, was raised in a family who believed in atheistic communism.

“For me, the world needed a social change that only could be carried out through the communist philosophy,” Julio says.

julio moraleja converted to christ under franco regimeHis father, who fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Communist Youth, was arrested and the usual death sentence routinely given to communists was commuted to life imprisonment. He served 11 years in jail before his release.

In spite of Franco’s crackdown on communists, Julio became a card-carrying communist. He got work in the Chrysler automobile factory and began to agitate to form a labor union and propagate communist ideals.

A friend, José Aguilar, who was Christian, began to explain to him another way to save the world: Jesus.

“Logically, I didn’t pay any attention to him because I didn’t believe in God, since communism is based on scientific atheism,” Julio says.

But he received a cassette tape from Julio, partly to humor the man.

The following Saturday he had nothing else to do, so he played it out of curiosity.

“As I listened to the tape, something began to move in me and I didn’t know what was happening,” Julio remembers. “The message pierced my soul. When I finished listening, I was broken.” Read the rest of running from the cops.

Newest greatest of NBA Kwahi Leonard keen on Jesus, not so much on money

la-1558749090-vbbgqjllec-snap-imageNot Steph Curry, not LeBron, not KD.

The hottest commodity in basketball right now is Toronto Raptors star Kwahi Leonard who honors Jesus and has single-handedly carried his team to unpredicted wins, first in Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers to enter the Eastern Conference, then again last night to upset the Warriors in Game 1 of the finals.

“Last year was a very down year for me (he was injured); I was going through a lot,” says Kwahi, whose buzzer beater to beat the 76ers in Game 7 is now legend. “And you know, God is good! I prayed every day and ended up getting healthy, now I’m able to play basketball. You could just see what He does for you.”

Kwahi is dropping jaws both on offense and on defense. He averaged 35-point games against Philadelphia. He locked down Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks to reverse a 0-2 game deficit to secure the Eastern Conference.

SPURS__V__PORTLAND_10_TR“Leonard is killing dudes in isolation (like Harden), pounding and rocking the basketball (like Harden) before blowing past defenders or hitting step-back threes (like Harden),” Jesse Washington crows on The Undefeated.

Up until last night, the idea that the Golden State Warriors would sweep the finals — again — was thought to be as pre-determined as the Book of Revelations. It was sure to be boring, and only diehard fans and somnambulists who like eye-glazing as they observe the inevitable even bothered to tune in.

But Leonard and the on-fire Raptors suddenly woke up the soporific middle American who only turns on the game if there actually is going to be a game. Now, the final is promising to be interesting.

5bfd789c285e17dc0f8aa679a3d1f82fThe talent-rich Warriors knew they had to double-team and even triple-team Kawhi to win. Stymie the star and blitz to victory. It’s been their not-so-secret strategy, and it has worked against James Harden and Damian Lillard.

It didn’t work last night.

The Marvel’s Avengers of the NBA got blindsided by the no-names of the Raptors. Harassed at every turn, Leonard passed the ball to his teammates, who materialized superstar performance. Pascal Siakim, notorious for poor shooting, transformed suddenly into a marksman, hooping 32 points to lead his team to a 118-109 thrashing.

Will the Golden State league hegemony be broken? Read the rest of Kawhi Leonard Christian.