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How the Lord can Bless you!

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.

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Rebel Jewish rocker went forward to receive Jesus as a joke, got surprised by joy

michael brownGrowing up in a Jewish household, Dr. Michael L. Brown believed Jesus was the God of Christians and had nothing to do with the Jews.

During his high school years he became a pothead and eventually earned the nicknames “Drug-Bear” and “Iron Man” due to his prodigious intake of drugs. He abused pot, hash, LSD, mescaline, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin.

“I would take massive quantities just to see how far I could go,” Brown says on a One For Israel video. ”I once did enough mescaline (a hallucinogenic drug) for 30 people — the equivalent of one ounce. I couldn’t distinguish between reality and hallucination.”

dr michael brownBetween 1996 and 2000, Brown led the Brownsville Revival, a Christian Pentecostal Movement at the Brownsville Assembly of God church in Pensacola, Florida. He is currently a radio talk show host and also president and professor of practical theology at FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, NC.

Born in New York City in a respectable family, his father served as the senior lawyer in the New York Supreme Court.

“My upbringing was typical of many New York, Conservative Jewish children. We moved to Long Island, I did well in school, I played lots of sports, and, like all my friends, I basically stayed out of trouble. But something changed. It all began innocently enough,” he said.

“When I was eight years old I started to play drums. There was no question that I had ability. In fact by the time I was fifteen I had played on a studio album. But my favorite music was rock, and after my Bar Mitzvah in 1968, I got interested in playing in a band. I wanted to be a rock drummer, and all my role models were known for their heavy drug use, rebellion, and flagrant immorality. I wanted to be like them!”

In 1969, at age 14, he was offered pot.

“I was only too happy to oblige,” he says. “Soon I tried smoking hash too. But neither one had any effect on me. So I tried harder drugs until I started using uppers, downers and LSD. I thought I wouldn’t do anything worse than that, but I was deceived.”

By age 15, he tried speed and heroin.

“I loved it,” he says.

His grades crashed. Drugs, rock and “filthy living” were his daily portion. He and his friends broke into homes and a doctor’s office just for fun. Snatching up drugs wherever they entered, they nearly killed themselves.

He was binging drugs, constantly pushing the outer edge of the envelope toward overdose.

At times, it was difficult to distinguish between hallucination and reality. “I would walk with my hand in front of my face at night because I didn’t know if the tree that was growing up in front of me was really there, or if the tree that grew up into fireworks, that they were really taking place,” he noted.

”I’d see a car coming at me, and suddenly it became a person: the lights became eyes and a mouth. I’d see someone walking their dog and they’d morph until they each became a little bit of each other.”

Brown wasn’t the type of person to fight, but he would bring people down with verbal volleys. He ripped into people until they were in tears.

He had been raised a conservative Jew, but wandered far from the faith of his family. He rarely thought of God, but when he did, he rationalized that he was a good person.

“If there really is a God, He knows I have a good heart,” he thought at the time.

Ultimately, it was the Book of Revelation that brought him to account. Some friends began attending church and telling him about the Beast with seven heads and 10 horns that emerged from the Bottomless Pit to rule the world. It sounded like an LSD trip.

“That’s in the Bible?” Brown asked his buddies. “That’s what they talk about in this church? That’s a cool church.” Read the rest: Dr. Michael Brown started as a Jewish rocker on drugs and came to Jesus.

The ‘success’ of touring with Bob Dylan left her disillusioned

55f5f1677bb6c240d80aa9c18d034a4d_400x400Touring with iconic superstar Bob Dylan may have been a life changing experience for Jennifer Goetz, but that wasn’t the only transformational aspect of the journey.

After going on two 6-week tours with Dylan in 1975 in the U.S., rather than feeling elated, she felt empty, completely lost.

“It was like I had climbed a mountain and looked over and there was nothing on the other side,” Jennifer said. “I was so frustrated with life that I determined I would give myself 35 days to find a new way of approaching life. I was so sick of this brain inhabiting this body and just the way I thought about things.”

During those 35 days, Jennifer contracted Bell’s Palsy, which is partial face paralysis.

“As I was going to bed one night, I was brushing my teeth and water came squirting out of the side of my mouth, and I lived alone in an apartment at that point, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to go to bed and I’m going to wake up paralyzed,’ and sure enough when I woke up the next morning, half my face was paralyzed.”

The next day, Dylan’s girlfriend, an African American Baptist Woman, grabbed Jennifer by the hands and started praying for her in the name of Jesus.

Marty-Jennifer-Goetzs

With her husband, Marty Goetz

“I remember that when she was finished I walked out of that trailer and I was stunned, and I looked around and I thought, ‘What was that?’’ she remembers. “And the next day I actually started seeing an improvement and feeling an improvement in my face.”

After the first tour, Jennifer got to join Dylan’s six-week European Tour.

Her quest for truth was not over.

With a friend at a hotel in the desert, Jennifer opened a little drawer and found a red Gideon Bible. She “stole” it, brought it home and began to read.

Read the rest of Jennifer Goetz disillusioned with success in music industry finds Yeshua.

600 precious babies saved!

pro life movementIf you only prayed for one hour in front of an abortion clinic as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign, would it make much difference?

Remarkably, this year’s annual pro-life demonstration saved more than 600 babies, according to a video posted by 40 Days for Life.

“Abortion is ending in the United State of America and around the world,” Shawn Carney declared, president of 40 Days for Life.

pro life movement canada“But things are getting worse before they get better on other fronts,” he added. “We’ve begun to see a wave of infanticide sweeping our nations not led by the fringe but by governors and candidates for presidents. It’s absolutely unprecedented.”

Recently, New York approved a bill that would allow late-term, viable fetuses to be aborted on the condition the abortionist believes it would be in the interest of the mother’s health, according to National Review.

Not to be outdone, Virginia state legislator Kathy Tran introduced legislation legalizing full-term pregnancy abortion and partial birth abortion. Illinois and New Mexico are weighing similar laws.

“It’s infanticide in the United States of America in 2019,” Shawn said. “There’s a hardness of heart, a coldness. There’s nothing greater than seeing your beautiful baby girl or beautiful baby boy. They have removed humanity from that beautiful moment of seeing your newborn.” Read the rest: lives saved by 40 Days for Life, powered by Unplanned

Meanwhile, the 40 Days for Life movement — which went nationwide in 2007 and involved 1 million volunteers in street prayer outside clinics — has played a part in shutting down 90 clinics, the video noted.

This year’s drive was energized by the blockbuster movie Unplanned, which documents Abby Johnson’s switch from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life street prayer warrior who pleads with mothers to turn back at the clinic door.

Abby was the 26th out of 186 abortion workers to switch to pro-life, the video says. That switch and the subsequent of shutting down of her old clinic was the beginning of the 40 Days for Life movement.

Theif, saved in jail, returned $200K stolen goods when he got out

IMG2008133318HIAfter years and years of ripping off Home Depot and other retailers Mark* finally got busted for theft. He was convicted and sentenced to 45 days in jail. So he scheduled his accumulated vacation time for his jail sentence, says Prison Chaplain Dan, who worked with Mark.

Mark went to Bible studies in the Los Angeles County Jail and got radically saved.

When he was released, he had $200,000 worth of stolen power tools that he had extracted by hiding them inside toilets and other places. He paid for the toilet. No one ever looked inside when he went through the checkout.

He knew he had to surrender the stolen goods as part of his repentance. He tried offering them to the local church, which refused them and instructed him to give them back to Home Depot. But giving them back would constitute evidence against him that could lead another conviction.

Mark was sincere about serving Jesus. So he went to Home Depot, and on videotape, gave everything back. Home Depot employees were shocked and grateful.

Mercifully, they didn’t press charges!

When Mike tried to return merchandise to his boss at a retailer, Mike wouldn’t have any part of it. Read the rest: does prison ministry do any good?

Ada Betsabe almost signed but execs’ Luciferianism scared her off

Ada Betsabe woman rapper CHHAs a three year old, Ada Betsabe Ruiz would sing in the church and wind up crying under the power of the Holy Spirit.

But when she was 14, she left the church because of controlling and abusive leaders. She became a skeptic and rebelled against everything she had learned. God had been “misrepresented” to her, so she turned her back on Him.

As an immigrant from the Dominican Republic with her parents, she lived from age three in New York’s Bronx where people blasted from cars either salsa, bachata or hip hop. Biggie and Pun enthralled her, and she started mimicking and composing verses herself.

ada betsabeWith no moral compass, Ada fell into lesbianism. She began a formal relationship in 2012 with a domestic partner who had no background in Christianity. Their home was adorned with Buddhas and crystals. “We were both really searching,” she says.

Ada launched a secular hip hop career in English, and she was gaining notoriety. She got a handler and was at the point of signing a major record label. She attended a music conference in Los Angeles in April 2014 to interview with executives.

But the bosses and her new friends did more than just worldly music; they were into Luciferianism, and they invited Ada to participate. They drank wine mixed with blood and apparently performed human sacrifices. Somebody in the cult died mysteriously during the conference, Ada tells God Reports.

ada betsabe famous female christian rapperFrightened by what she saw and by what was happening, Ada declined to join.

“I had the opportunity to be a part of it, but instead decided to run to Jesus,” she says.

She never signed the record deal and, no longer “skeptical” about the reality of supernatural things, went to her Airbnb in Hollywood to reconcile with Jesus.

“I was terrified after the things that took place in LA,” Ada says. “This situation, however, proved to me that evil was real and good was real.”

Ada returned to the East Coast and shared with her domestic partner what she had experienced. Both of them went to church, repented of their sins and broke off their relationship, she says. Read the rest Spanish female Christian rapper scared to Jesus by Luciferianism.

Confessions of an ex-junk food junkie

junk foodI have a confession: I love junk food.

I would probably eat it everyday.

But I know that it will kill me. It’s loaded with calories, salt, fat, preservatives. It comes up short on nutrition. So I avoid it.

I’m not so much of a health freak to NEVER eat junk food. But I try to limit it to once a week. The rest of the time, I try to stay health.

Officially, weekends are “cheat days” to not live in dietary misery. I indulge an ice cream on Friday night. I don’t watch my calories.

Ashcraft family

I’m the tall guy in middle. I’m 51.

But Monday through Friday lunch, I’m pretty good about being intelligent about food selection. My tongue doesn’t feel good; my body does. I enjoy the benefits of feeling healthy depriving my tongue of daily delights (those are saved for weekends).

And the benefits I feel in my body are great. I have energy. I don’t get sick. I go to the gym and have strength. I enjoy walking up stairs without struggling. I don’t go to the doctor or the hospital. I do my work with zest and passion and don’t have to lie down and recover. My body delights in health (though my tongue gets deprived of the rush of emotion over super tasty foods).

Here’s what’s amazing and possible: I actually enjoy the healthy food now. I savor the broccoli, the asparagus, the not-fried chicken, the salads, the food without heavy cream sauces and cooking without grease and fat.

Yes, it’s possible.

My experience is that you can literally retrain your taste buds.

I think it takes years. It has taken me years. Right now, I’m actually grossed out by soda if I drink it. As hard as that may to believe.

nutrients flavor bamboo steamerMy journey towards healthful eating and healthfulness has led me to selling bamboo steamers on Amazon. People are absolutely fanatical about bamboo. They conserve nutrients better and absorb some of the steam so that Chinese buns come out right. I have discovered that steaming fish fillets to take into work with me is NOT slower than warming fish sticks in the toaster oven. If you want to buy one and try it for yourself, here’s the link.

Product of rape wins beauty pageant

rebecca_kiessling_810_500_75_s_c1When Valerie Gatto’s uncommon beauty allowed her to win the Miss Pennsylvania pageant in 2014, it was impossible to imagine she was a product of rape.

Her mom was only 19 and planning on law school when she was attacked at knifepoint, raped and nearly killed.

The assailant wanted to prevent his victim from going to the cops by silencing her permanently, but an unusual flash of light scared him and he ran from the scene.

How does light emerge from the depths of darkness and despair?

“Mom always told me I was her light,” she told LifeSite News.

Valerie found out about her conception in the third grade when, when she wondered why she didn’t have a father like other kids and asked her mom.

Absorbing this difficult news, she never accepted an attitude of victimhood. Her mother, who had to abandon her plans for law school to take care of her baby, brought her to church and got Valerie involved in social outreach.

She was raised by her mother and grandparents in a stable, loving home.

“I knew God put me here for a purpose, and He’s the reason my mother and I were saved,” she told CBN. Mom “always would tell me I was her light. I am the light to illuminate the darkness for all to see, and I look at it from that moment of conception, there has been that light associated with darkness.”

Valerie got involved in clothing drives, giving gifts to children in hospital care, and Operation Dear Abby, which gives cards to U.S. military members stationed overseas, according to LifeSite.

“I live my life not thinking of it as something negative but looking at how to turn a negative into a positive,” Valerie told CBN Read the rest abortion in case of rape.

He astounded with his viral video to calm crying infants. Now Dr. Bob Hamilton has a book

dr bob hamilton holdBob Hamilton was still a college student in the throes of getting a medical degree and becoming a doctor when his young wife delivered shocking news.

She was pregnant.

“How did this happen?” he wondered almost out loud. “What are we going to do now?”

A line of well-meaning friends and fellow students began to lecture them: having a child at such a young age, while in medical school, while scrimping finances, would “destroy us both, along with any career plans,” he remembers. They spoke “with great authority.”

“What we discovered was quite the opposite,” says Dr. Bob in his new book 7 Secrets of the Newborn: Secrets and (Happy) Surprises of the First Year.

51pTEm-HXZL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The stated goal of the book is to reassure overly-worried newlyweds that parenting is still possible in the perfection-obsessed 2010s and that having children is delightful. It might as well have been a how-to guide as he delves into the nitty-gritty details of changing diapers, scheduling sleep and coping with colic.

Robert Hamilton is a Christian pediatrician in Santa Monica who has led medical teams into Africa and Latin America for 20 years. His viral video “The Hold” — showing how to stop an infant’s crying by wrapping his arms and holding him at 45 degrees — created a sensation and put him on the world’s radar. Currently clocking 37 million views, the 4-minute video earned him the moniker “The Baby Whisperer.”

First he calmed babies, now he’s calming anxiety-ridden parents: Relax and enjoy the cute critters.

The book spends considerable time describing the wonder and beauty of babies in scientific detail. With elegant prose, it evokes images as if it were a documentary inside and outside of the womb. It leaves the reader with a sensation of awe and wonder.

The book also includes fascinating scientific discoveries in the form of excerpted nuggets scattered throughout that are worth a read by themselves. Hamilton could have aimed at the abortion debate directly, but he wisely avoids polemics. Read the rest of  7 Secrets of the Newborn: Secrets and (Happy) Surprises of the First Year.

Raised in Appalachian family fighting culture, he found peace with God

usa_today_10392817.0Once, Cody almost sliced off his brother’s finger with a knife. On another occasion, his brother punched his ear so hard, it swelled and became a “cauliflower ear.” Another time, they took their squabble outside city limits where they wailed on each other for 45 minutes. This is how Cody Garbrandt became an MMA champion.

But he almost lost a battle with depression until the same brother intervened.

“I almost hung myself,” Cody says on an I am Second video. “He busted down the door and came in and saved my life. He gave me the biggest hug and sat there with me and cried with me. He said everything was going to be all right. That day was a changing point for me in my life. That brought us even closer, you know, attending church together.”

cody-garbrandtCody grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Ohio in small towns where people are as proud of their hometowns as they are poor in the economically depressed areas of Uhrichsville and Denison.

Fighting is a way of life there — especially for the Garbrandt family.

“From both sides of my family, we were fighters.” Cody says. “We had a last name to uphold. Oh you’re from Garbrandt clan or the Mease clan. You don’t mess with those guys.”

He watched his uncle fight, while his grandfather, drunk in the stands, fought with a spectator.

With his brother Zach Garbrandt

“We’d just be sitting there watching it,” he remembers. “That was normal for us.”

Since fighting was “normal,” Cody and his brother Zach made grappling a normal part of sibling rivalries.

“Out of the womb, I was fighting over the bottle,” Cody jokes. “Zach was my fierce competitor. My brother was always bigger, stronger, faster, meaner than me growing up, so that’s why I was always quick to fight: I had something to prove.

“Me and Zach, we fought so many times in our lives. We had some pretty violent fights.”

Once when Zach provoked him to punch him, Cody grabbed a knife in the sink and slashed him, nearly cutting off his middle finger.

0_1218_SPO_LDN-L-UFC-GARBRANT-HG13“I remember he looked at me, wrapped his finger in a paper towel, punched the stove and shattered the whole glass stove and went back to bed,” Cody remembers.

In their last fight, Cody was 17; Zach, 18.

“We ended up fighting over a Subway sandwich,” he recalls.

After Grandma intervened to stop, the brothers jumped in their cars and drove to “the pump house.”

“That’s where we would take out-of-towners to fight,” he says. “We would take them out of city limits where cops wouldn’t go.”

The fight lasted 45 minutes.

“It was always a knock-out, drag-out fight with Zach,” he says. The fights were so fierce it was possible someone might die.

“My knuckles were all cut up, my lip was bloodied, my teeth were all busted up,” he says. “I hit with a right-handed, overhand right. He had the stanky legs like he was walking in potholes. He looked at me with this crazed look, like, ‘Alright, awesome. Cody finally hit me with a nice shot that hurt me.” Read the rest: Cody Garbrandt’s toughest fight.

Racism left her staggering. Jesus gave her self love

christineHer boyfriend broke up with her because his family didn’t want him with a Korean girl.

“I was in complete shock. I did not really understand,” says Christine Petric, in an I am Second video. “Literally, I was being judged off of a picture because of the color of my skin.”

Christine wanted to be on the U.S. women’s soccer team after college. But God had other plans for her and today she runs a fashion business and speaks about self-love and Christianity.

Christine-Petric-4aChristine’s rejection issues started with her birth. She was born in South Korea to a single mom who gave her up for adoption so her daughter could have a better life.

Christine was raised in Texas in a predominantly Caucasian community. The other 6-year-olds asked her why she was so dark, why the backs of her hands weren’t the same color as the palm of her hands.

“When you’re young, all you want is to be like everyone else,” she says. “You want to be normal.”

3d9b0d42b588181629ee3ad3bc5c1460Her parents taught her about God. She asked God why He made her different.

“Why me?” she says. “Why am I the one who has to be different?”

She loved soccer and won a spot on the squad at Rice University and dreamed of Olympic glory.

But that too met with hardship. During the preseason of her freshman year, she pulled her hamstring and was injured. It was a significant setback to her dreams.

Again, she asked, Why God?

With her dreams shattered, Christine began to look elsewhere for fulfillment. She got into a relationship with a guy.

“I so wanted a release from struggling with soccer and from not being on the field,” Christine recalls. “It helped me not to think about it as much if I had something that SEEMED to be good going on off the field.”

She was happy — for a while.

“I haven’t been totally honest with you,” her boyfriend told her one day.

“He basically told me that his family did not approve of me because I wasn’t white,” she remembers.

It was a staggering blow. “I had never met his family,” she recalls. “It made me secretly hate myself. I don’t think I ever felt worse about myself at any other point in my life.” Read the rest: Racism, rejection and self love in Jesus

Escape death at the supermarket

instant food blood streamTo those readers who ever eat food, a simple formula: Instant= very bad. Usually.

Once upon a time, some chemist guy named Al Clausi traded time for good health and dropped some pyrophosphate and orthophosphate molecules into some organic food matter and out came instant pudding. General Foods noticed, then brought Jell-O brand instant pudding to market and scorched any and all dessert food competitors. Clausi became a mad scientist legend.

But a Pandora’s Box was opened.

70 years on from Clausi’s chimera, the American public remains hooked on convenience which is corresponding to skyrocketing rates of cancer, Diabetes and heart disease.

So supermarkets are now chemistry storehouses. We can’t turn back history. Living on an organic farm is not really viable. So we are limited to damage control. Since chemical “processing” is the great evil of nutrition, the lesser processed food we buy, the better.

Here are the rules of thumb to buy healthier for those of us who don’t possess a PhD in nutrition science. Biology, not chemistry:

> Easier/Quicker — Convenience kills. Inorganic compounds kill. Eat instant foods and snacks and you’re letting stray chemicals stay rent-free in your blood stream. Hard to evict them and healthy nutrients get pushed aside by processed molecule squatters.

Solution: Try buying food that takes a little longer to prepare. Make large quantities and divvy it up into plastic containers for the next days.

> Tastier — To entice repeat buying, processed food manufacturers load in sugar, salt and fat, all of which are killers. Be suspicious of foods that tantalize the taste buds like coke and sugary cereals. Read the rest of Practical Cancer Control Diet.

How to cut sugar without stress

sugar addictionBusiness Insider recently showed how sugar is becoming the #1 culprit (ahead of fatty foods) behind the current weight gain epidemic. Naturally.

So concerned diet experts are targeting sugar consumption. Unfortunately sugar already has been targeting you — usually with great success.

If you feel your own powerlessness, you’re not alone. Like starting a fitness routine, there are right ways and wrong ways to start a sugar-reduction plan.

Today. Right now.

Ready?

Here’s seven tips to slay sugar:

1. Your stomach doesn’t really care. Your brain does. Find alternative rewards for your brain: Sugar fires off dopamine production in your brain, a key component of addiction. Unlike a balanced meal (which can also trigger dopamine but tapers off if repeated), sugar keeps flooding the brain with warm fuzzies. It is this overactive reward system that creates craving.

Suggestion: Source the pleasure hormone elsewhere:

  • Consume large quantities of meat and other proteins, specifically Tyrosine which can be found in almonds, avocados, bananas, chocolate, coffee, eggs, green tea and watermelon.
  • Eat yogurt, kimchee, pickles, some cheeses or other foods rich in probiotics.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Enjoy music.
  • Meditate.
  • Get sunlight.
  • Consider supplements as curcumin, ginkgo biloba, L-theanine, acetyl-l-tyrosine
  • Get a massage. Hug your family. Get a pet.
  • Learn something new. Make new discoveries. Develop and satisfy your curiosity.
  • Divide your duties into small tasks and check them off as you go. A sense of accomplishment releases dopamine.

Other reward hormones: Other feel-good hormones also provide potent sugar substitutes:

  • Endorphins — from significant exercise. Go to the gym.
  • Serotonin — from feeling significant or important. Socialize.
  • Oxytocin — from feeling cherished, cuddled, intimate or trusted. Get support from family and friends. Cultivate relationships.
  • Adrenaline — from fear or competition. Ride a roller coaster, make a high risk investment, or watch a horror movie.

2. Rewire your brain. Neurobiologists are changing the way we see human weakness (addiction). A bad habit is not simply dusted away — or ridiculed by the strong. It’s actually rooted in your brain. It turns out that there are neural highways in your gray matter. The more you reinforce any behavior, the more electro-chemical pulses are fired along certain pathways. Dendrites are even added to the most used thoroughfares, and pulses are sped up.

Yikes! your brain literally aids and abets your addiction.

To forge a new path is to head off through brambles and crawlers; it will be slow go. You’re off the beaten path, so the walking is not easy. This is not only bad news because it’s not impossible, just hard. You can “re-wire” your brain, but you need to be realistic. It might takes weeks, months, even years.

Suggestion: Journal your progress. Set small goals towards a larger objective. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. If you “fall off the wagon,” get back immediately. Get a empathetic support group or accountability partner. Repetition is the key to forming both bad and good habits, so try to steer clear of sugar over and over.

3. Identify negative emotions. There’s a reason why they’re called “comfort foods.” The are a happy-reset button. What are the emotional storm clouds you escape from? Here are a few common factors inducing sugar addiction:

  • Stress — The inability to handle stress well is ripe fruit for escapism.
  • Fear/ anxiety — Ditto above.
  • Boredom — The dull lulls of life make you want to zest up your life with some tasty morsels.
  • Loneliness — Social isolation, anxiety and rejection bring a heavy emotional cost.
  • Frustration — Failure and setbacks bring depression, from which you naturally want to take a break.

Suggestions: Developing strategies for these and other negative emotions may require some outside help from a trusted counselor. You might get inspiration from a good book or some motivational videos on YouTube. Journaling can help you analyze, dissect and give you the objectivity to overcome these. Get a hobby, take up gaming, learn a new language or play the guitar. Read the four other tips for cutting sugar without stress.

bamboo steamer kitchen revolutionMr. Mustard Seed is selling 10″ bamboo steamers on Amazon as a way to help the health habit. Profits go to his ministry.

Christian drummer prayed for a penny to stick to the wall — and it stuck

Chuck on the DrumsHis love for drums started when he was two years old.

Charles Christian asked his parents for a drum set. Because they lived in an apartment complex, they thought the incessant banging beats would generate angry complaints from neighbors.

Confronted with his parents’ “no,” the tyke turned to prayer: “Jesus, Jesus!” were the only words his infantile mind could form to give voice to his frustration.

“Acknowledging my little prayer, they saw my faith in Jesus and bought my first drum set,” Charles says. “Miraculously so, we did not get a single noise complaint while living at the apartment.”

Not one complaint.

Christian drummerToday, Charles is known by “Chuck on the Drums” and plays and produces with the pros. The Scottsdale, Arizona, resident plays everything from alternative rock to funk/hip hop with both Christian and secular musicians, including rapper Murs. He uses his talents to shine the light into the lives of the stars who still don’t know the Light.

“I am called to lead people to Christ through music,” he says. “I view music to be my ministry. God will continue to use me as a light that displays to the lost in this broken world. He will create opportunities for me to share the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus.”

Chuck plays and produces for ARCiTEC, a hip hop/ R&B duo in Arizona. He is part of two other bands and plays worship at the Highlands Church in Scottsdale.

He grew up in Chicago, the only child of Bible-believing parents whose faith “never wavers,” he says.

“It was not until I went to my church’s middle school winter camp that I really got saved,” Chuck recalls. “In between the set during worship, the worship leader stated that we as believers should have our own personal relationship with Jesus that does not rely on our parents’ faith.

“That truly rocked me.” Find out how a penny encouraged a Christian drummer to faith in God.

She overcame lack of love of father: CASS

Cass synthesizer musicHaving a distant dad only heightened her teenage insecurities.

Cassandra Kanda, a Zimbabwe-born Christian musician making waves in Christian Hip Hop now, grew up in New Zealand where she NEVER fit in high school.

“I struggled with rejection. I was bullied pretty badly when I was 8 years old in school,” she says an exclusive interview with God Reports. “So by the time I was a teenager, rejection was something I didn’t want to ever experience. And when I did experience it, it would hurt more than anything because of all the baggage I was carrying from it since I was young.”

In her soon-to-be-released album, Cass (usually her stage name is stylized CASS) explores the perceived lack of fatherly love and its subsequent repercussions in low self-esteem. It wasn’t until she profoundly understood the Heavenly Father’s love that she righted.

Cass in christian hip hop“When I discovered God’s fatherly love, it revolutionized my life,” she says in email interview. “It’s something till this day that still makes me emotional because I’ve only ever experienced a Father’s love from God. That’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

Cass is the synthesizer wunderkind of Christian music. She was featured recently on Reach Record’s collective song “Light Bearer,” which was a mantra for the label starting 2018.

Who would have thought the immigrant would amount to — or surmount such hardships — to attain renown in Christian music? Her beginnings were humble.

She immigrated, with her family, when she was 7. She attended church unrelentingly with her family and accepted Jesus as a youngster and then rededicated her life to Christ when she saw the play “Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames” at age 16.

cass in concert christian“That’s when I really started to walk with God fully,” she says.

The adjustment to a new culture was worsened by a hostile reception at grade school where she, as a small African girl, was bullied by the New Zealand kids so badly that her parents had to change her educational center.

Her father, perhaps because of the African culture, was emotionally detached, Cass says, and this further damaged her self-concept.

“I grew up with a distant parent. This teamed up with the fact that I was bullied pretty badly,” she says. “So I tried everything I could do to fit in (which never worked cause I NEVER did fit in in high school), and it would bother me so much.”

Fortunately, she was growing in the Word and prayer, and eventually she realized fully God’s love.

“It’s not until I realized who I was in Christ, that’s when that fear of rejection broke of me,” Cass says. “What I was looking for — that acceptance or approval from people I was never going to find from the crowd. I would only find it in God.” Read the rest of CASS Christian musician.

Yummy Cha: How a biracial couple shared what they learned about bamboo steamers

Dianna and MikeShe was a Chinese-American who studied to be an engineer at UCLA. He studied English literature and became a journalist. She flourished at designing the HVAC systems in skyscrapers in Los Angeles. He dropped out of journalism, a dying field, and became a teacher at a small private school in Santa Monica.

Dim Sum brunchShe loved Chinese food and taught him the finer things of Asian cuisine. He grew passionate about fitness and healthy eating. They enjoyed what the learned and ate together.

Then, Dianna and Mike decided to fuse their tastes and skills and help others discover what the secrets of the Ancient Orient can help Americans lose weight, get better nutrition and enjoy food!

nutrients flavor bamboo steamerCuisine Natural was born, with an initial 10-inch bamboo steamer on Amazon. They stayed in love and brought what they loved to others.  Read the rest about Yum Cha or Yummy Cha.

A Jewish millionaire lost it all, got Christ and thus found more than he ever had

steve olin olshanskySteve Olin, a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, made and lost millions, fell into drugs and was close to becoming homeless when he found the ultimate answer to set his life on course.

As a high school pitcher, he threw baseballs in the high 90 mph range. The New York Yankees wanted to sign him in 1962. His lifelong dream was within reach.

But his family, of modest means, insisted he go to college.

“The Yankees were impressed with me,” Olin says on an Israel Media Ministries video. “But my father and my family had never gone to college. My dad wouldn’t co-sign the contract because I was a minor. He said, ‘Son, I want you to get a college education, and then after college you can go into baseball.’

“I was heartbroken,” he says.

steve olshansky st johns baseballStill he honored his parents. He received a full scholarship at St. John’s University, where he is listed as Steve Olshansky on their ’65-66 roster. (Steve Olin who played for the Cleveland Indians is a different person.)

“I wanted to stay in New York,” he says. “God has a sense of humor that a Jewish boy went to a Catholic university.”

On the college baseball team, Olin injured his pitching arm.

“My team went on to the college world series without me. My arm was lame. I couldn’t pitch anymore. My fast balls had gone down to mediocre speed.”

Needless to say, he was crushed.

“God has different roads for us to go down,” he says, now looking back over his life. “He just didn’t have baseball as the road for me.”

Instead, Olin went into the business world.

“I rose very, very quickly to the very, very top of the business world,” he remembers. “God opened every door for me. Every position I went into as I climbed up in the business world got better and better and better.”

At 31, he started his own electronics business. “I was fortunate to get the Atari video game line. Every door I went through, it was like God opened up for me. It was like magic. It was like going to Las Vegas and throwing sevens, one after another. I had millions of dollars in the bank, a penthouse in New York, a penthouse in Miami, a 15-acre weekend estate in Connecticut.”

In eight years, he did $2 billion in sales, and his public company was valued at $6 billion, he says. His wife and child lived the good life with him.

Out of the blue, panic attacks hit him. Read the rest of Jewish millionaire comes to Christ.

Colorful Johnny Cash, the outlaw, comes to Christ

10-73In 1944, Johnny Cash’s much-loved older brother got pulled into a table saw that nearly cut him in half. After lingering between life and death for a week, Jack tragically passed away. The 11-year-old Johnny was plagued with guilt because he had premonitions and failed to warn his brother.

The troubling tragedy set the tone for the tortured singer’s entire life.

With more than 90 million records sold, 1,500 songs written and 24 #1 hits, Johnny Cash is easily one of the most famous musicians in the world. The man who wore black, sang country music and got ensnared by amphetamine and barbiturate abuse would ultimately side with God at the end of his life.

34-53“I am not a Christian artist,” said the man who reignited his career by singing concerts in prison. “I am an artist who is a Christian. There is a spiritual side to me that goes real deep, but I confess right up front that I’m the biggest sinner of them all.”

Johnny Cash was born Feb. 26, 1932 into a family that received farmland under the New Deal in Arkansas. He was raised on Gospel hymns and joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school even though his dream was music.

He married Vivian Liberto in 1954, but she divorced him 12 years later because of his alcohol and drug abuse, constant touring, and infidelities.

johnny cash bad boyIn Memphis he signed for Sun Records in 1955 and made such hits as “Hey Porter!” and “Cry! Cry! Cry!” His bass-baritone voice, train-sound guitar rhythms and rebelliousness mixed with a somber and humble demeanor won the hearts of Americans.

With his notorious free prison concert at San Quentin in 1958, Cash exploited his outlaw image to catapult to even greater fame. His record “Folsom Prison Blues” hit #5 country music in the nation. Read how Johnny Cash came back to Christ after trying to commit suicide by descending into a cave in Tennessee. The story also details is amphetamine addiction, his arrests, his marriage to June Carter, his prison concerts , how he threatened to whip the KKK with 40 lashes and how he set 508 acres of national forest on fire.

Saudi admired Bin Laden until he compared Bible to Koran without prejudice

al fadi fan of obama bin ladinAl Fadi was proud to be a Muslim born in Saudi Arabia, the center of Islam. As a teenager, He was so proud that he even wanted to join the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and die for his convictions under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden.

“I really admired this man to be able to leave the wealth of his family for the sake of proving that, ‘I’m here to fight and die for the god that I worship,’” Al Faid told CBN. “I knew that if I were to go die for the cause of this fight to promote Islam, that’s the only time my sins would be forgiven. I would not just go to Heaven but to the highest level, to paradise. So why not go for what is guaranteed, and that is to die?”

But his parents forbade him. By the time he was 16, he memorized half the Koran and led prayers in his local mosque. He was learning the branch of Islam called Wahhabism, a strict version that also generated a large number of extremists and terrorists.

Al Fadi Jihadist Christianity“Maybe the version of Islam I had learned was a little bit twisted in its teachings,” he said.

When he completed his engineering degree, his father encouraged him to get a graduate degree in America. He was accepted to the University of Arizona. But at the same time, he was nervous. “There was the danger that I might be drawn away from the path that I was taking, the rigid Islamic path.”

He decided he would not just resist temptations in America; he would actively proselytize and bring people into Islam.

At the university, he got involved in a language and cultural orientation program. The purpose was to improve his English and ease his transition to America. He was hooked up with a volunteer family that took him under wing, talked to him and would help him understand the cultural differences.

He decided to start his proselytizing mission with this family. But they were Christian.

He had been taught that Christians in America were morally weak. But this family showed a strong sense of values and character.

al fadi wahhibi muslim“It was very baffling to me because I asked myself, ‘Where did they get this moral value from?’ I had been taught that their Bible was corrupt. But I felt like a spiritual midget compared to them.”

He was further mystified by their selfless concern. When he graduated, they took off work to attend his ceremony. God began to soften his heart.

“I started to realize that Islam was not the religion I grew up thinking it was,” he admitted.

When he landed a job in America, he found that a co-worker was also a Christian. The tug-of-war of competing faiths started again, and Al Fadi was again impressed by his Christian testimony.

“Why is it that by following the prophet Jesus, he was transformed?” he recalled. “Yet I was following the best of the prophets, Mohammad, and I was still feeling the same inner ache. I began to realize that Jesus was the source of the change.”

The downfall of his faith came when the Twin Towers fell down. Jihadists hijacked jets and crashed them into the World Trade Center skyscrapers in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

The cold realization that he once aspired to be like them suddenly hit him.

“To watch people willing to go that far, to take with them hundreds of lives… These are innocent people. They have nothing to do whatsoever with a war,” he said. Read the rest of how this Muslim converted to Christianity when he compared the Bible to the Koran.

Eating to die young. Here’s how.

eating to dieFor decades, Bible-believing Christians have been told and retold that one of God’s promises is they can live to a ripe old age, 80 years to be exact. This “promise” is based on Psalm 90:10 NIV: ” “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures…:” It was a mantra for decades.

There’s a problem with this thesis though. First off, this psalm was written by Moses, who lived to 120. Secondly, there’s another verse equally valid that seems to have been overlooked. It is Genesis 6:3 (NIV): humans’ “days will be be a hundred and twenty years.”

Why was the promise for Psalm preferred over Genesis? There is no exegetical reason.

So I adhered to 120 years. I started proclaiming in faith, as we Christians are wont to do, that I would live 120 years. “If you want to live only 80 years, that’s fine,” I would tell my friends. “But I’m believing the promise in Gen. 6:3 for 120 years.”

I was onto something. I mean, who wants to die?

But I also understood that I played a part in the fulfillment of that promise. I knew enough to understand that my body is “temple to the Holy Spirit,” as 1 Corinthians 3:16. I wouldn’t “trash” the temple. In Christian terms, I would “steward” by body as a precious gift from God, not to be abused.

Here’s what you need to do if you want to push the upper limits of the Bible’s longevity promises:

Exercise – So much good comes from a vigorous walk through the neighborhood or a trip to the gym! God didn’t design the body for today’s sedentary jobs; they were supposed to labor in the fields. The switch to desk jobs has been a death knell for health: obesity, heart disease, even cancer. Make time for exercise and it will make time lengthen in your life.

Cut down on fat – Nor did God intend for us to eat so much meat. In New Testament times, some sort of porridge was the everyday fare. Only on special occasions did the common man enjoy meat. Modern man has multiplied exponentially its consumption, and the the overload has clogged up our blood vessels and burdened the heart. Saturated fats are loaded into processed foods to improve taste. Is it any wonder that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America?

Read the rest of the tips for longevity.

Confession: I failed to become a vegan. Best thing for my health ever.

transition to healthyNo wonder a huge segment of America simply ignores them.

The health nuts.

They are simply failing you and themselves because they fail on the secret keyword: transition. You don’t, can’t, shouldn’t drop sweetened iced tea cold turkey. Not overnight will you win become the crossfit queen.

There’s something better than a new habit, and that’s a new direction.

Start slow because the key is to enjoy your changes.

Embark on change but don’t rush into the  Army Ranger’s regimen. Your journey to a healthy lifestyle is a just that: a journey. Make small digestible changes.

I once endeavored to become vegan. I only got halfway there. In so doing, I learned that halfway is better than no way. I came short of my full goals, but I learned that the progress I had made was good

Since then, I’ve never gotten off the path to health. And progressively through the years, I’ve continued to get healthier, both in terms of eating and workout.

Here are some tricks to transition to health:

  1. Drown it with salad dressing. They are calorie- and fat-laden. But who cares? You are starting to each lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli and other ground-born roughage that can be hard for those used to Twinkies.
  2. Spread the butter. While it’s loaded with fat and usually contains a jolt of salt, it eases down the transition to brown and whole grain breads.
  3. Heap on the cheese. Lurking in this delicacy is a buttload of fat (the fat from a whole gallon of milk is used for just one pound of cheese). But it packs and protein punch and help you get over the hot pocket.

Read four more tricks to “transition” to healthy.

A skateboard missionary?

shaun hover skate pro.pngShaun Hover is a skateboarder missionary.

The Michigan native never thought he would amount to much. He did not have any career ambitions, and he never even thought he would be successful, because as he says on a “This is Me” video on YouTube, “I didn’t have anything to give.”

He hung out with fellow skaters, smoked weed and took six months to learn how to do an ollie, one of the easiest tricks. He loved being on a board and loved to go out and film with his friends, but did not think he would ever be a pro skateboarder.

Yeah, it’d be great to become a pro skater, but that’s not possible, he remembers thinking. Looking back, he says, “That was a bunch of insecurity. And lies. And I believed them.”

shawn hover barcelonaNevertheless, by his late teens, he found himself sponsored. He was a professional. Skateboarding was more than a hobby or even a job. “It was my identity,” he says.

When he turned 19, he found his other identity. He decided to read the Bible his brother gave him two years earlier.

“At the time time, I thought it was the worst birthday gift ever,” Hover says. “But now, I’m pulling this Bible off of the shelf and I’m like, ‘ God, I don’t if you’re real. I don’t know if I believe. I don’t know if I’m talking to anyone right now. But I’ve heard this is your Word. I’ve heard that You are faithful to deliver on your promises. If this is You, will You speak to me?”

Growing up, he had parents who believed in God and went to church, but he says, “I just didn’t grab ahold of it.”

But his brother’s gift opened his eyes to the Gospel of Jesus. The Word and the Spirit moved powerfully on his heart and he told God he wanted to turn his life over to Him, and wanted to trust Him with everything.

shaun hover skater missionaryHover was born again and received a new identity in Christ!

“As soon as I started reading the Bible, He gave me this hunger for his Word that has not left. I couldn’t put it down,” he recalls.

Shortly after that a friend called him on the phone. “Hey you wanna hang out, skate and smoke weed like we do everyday?’

“I’m reading the Bible right now,” Hover replied.

He knew that God might not call him to skateboard anymore, but he turned that part of his life over to Him anyway, saying, “It was like, I’m giving You my identity. If You want me to skate, if You don’t want me to skate, whatever.”

Clearly, he perceived that God wanted him to skate and he started skating more. He won contests, got a sponsorship with DC Shoes, and moved to Los Angeles.

He loved Jesus and skating! What more could he do with his life but marry the two in ministry? He started connecting to Youth With a Mission.

At first, he didn’t have a vision of how he could use his skating for Jesus. “People would say to me, ‘You need to start a skateboarding discipleship training class.’ And I would say, ‘That sounds so lame.’”

shaun hover familyIt was unusual to think about a skateboarder school that doubled as a discipleship class.

“I was going to our local skate park every Friday. We’d have barbecues. We’d have a skate contest. We’d hang with the skaters,” he says. “Skateboarding to me was just like a side ministry. But the more I spent time at this local skate park, the more the Lord was growing my heart for skaters.”

Then God spoke “in a gnarly crazy way.”

Don’t you see that I’ve been preparing you for this? God impressed on his heart. Don’t you see that skateboarding is a people, it’s a culture? It’s a community that I want to reach.

God told him to multiply the skate barbecues for “the entire planet,” he says. Read the rest of skateboard missionary

Take the scenic, not the cynic, route in life

take the scenic route, not the cynic routeIt’s easy to fall into cynicism. There are a lot of injuries, disappoints and heartbreaks in life. Cynicism is a defense mechanism. It only expects bad and judges only bad motives in others.

It is a life devoid of fun. Try to keep a positive outlook, despite the setbacks. Look for joy, beauty and God in everything.

He forged prescriptions for pain killers

David Valcich FCADavid Valcich was charged with 18 felonies and three misdemeanors for writing fake prescriptions and turning them in to pharmacies. He faced a maximum of 45 years in prison.

When David was 9 years old, his parents divorced. The beleaguered boy was asked which parent he wanted to live with. His dad encouraged him to stay with mom.

“It was tough. My world was shattered,” David told CBN.

His reaction to the crumbling stability in his life? Uncontrollable behavior.

Shuttled frequently between mom and dad, it seemed neither could impose good behavior on him.

David parents divorced to drugsHe got into fights, bouts of anger, confusion and rebellion. He spent time in juvenile delinquent centers “going from one foolish act to the next.”

In middle school, he found he could channel his rage in weightlifting and football.

“It gave me some sense of control over some area of my life,” he recalled.

He graduated high school “by the skin of my teeth.” He walked onto a Division 1 football team at Middle Tennessee State University, but he fell into partying. First it was steroids. Then injuries introduced him to painkillers. Like so many, he got hooked.

A “computer savvy friend” helped him write out prescriptions for more drugs.

“Anything to numb the pain from emotions and wounds that had never been dealt with or healed,” David told CBN.

One day when he walked in the pharmacy, there were two undercover narcotic agents waiting for him. He resisted arrest and in the ensuing melee, the whole pharmacy got trashed.

david vallesHe was then charged with the 18 felonies and 3 misdemeanors — confronting him with a maximum possible sentence of 45 years.

All but one of the charges were dropped, leaving him to serve a mere month in jail.

He realized that his chances for an education and a sports career had gone out the window, which led him to do cocaine for the next 10 years.

He calls his 20s “the lost decade.”

“It was a miserable existence completely devoid of meaning and hope,” he said.

David overdosed three times, and on that last time, in June 2006, when he woke up in the hospital, the doctors told him his kidneys were shutting down. He had renal failure and had tested positive for Hepatitis C.

Doctors gravely informed him that he would need dialysis and he’d be dependent on it for the rest of his life unless he got a transplant.

“It was like someone had just dropped a payload of bricks on my chest,” he says. “Utter hopelessness and despair. As I waited there in the hospital, I was mourning the wasted years.”

After four days, he was told that he was not getting any better and that they needed to start him on dialysis the following day.

That night, David cried out to God: “I don’t even know if You’re real, but if You are, I want to know You. Please help me.”

The doctors came in the next day with shocking, yet great news. They didn’t know how, but he had a complete turnaround and was being discharged later that day.

He was instantaneously, miraculously healed!

“I knew it was God answering my prayer,” he says. “I was amazed.”

Over the next six months, David moved in with his mother and asked many questions about his faith and sought out God.

On Christmas morning at 3:00 am, David couldn’t sleep and went out to his living room to watch television. The Gospel of John was playing and he knew, again, that “God was doing something in him and that Jesus had died for me.”

“I just knew that not only did God heal my kidneys in that hospital bed, but that Jesus Christ was real and was born into this world,” he says. “I didn’t have this full grasp of the gospel, but I understood in that moment on that morning that Jesus died for me. It was just mind-blowing.” Read the rest of prescription pain killer addiction.

A kiss saved him from the Hebrew Israelites

jourdan ortiz freedom from hebrew israelitesJourdan Ortiz first got free from the witch, then from the Hebrew Israelites.

When his parents got divorced, Mom was distraught and went to the witch “doctor.” Little Jourdan thought that the waiting room looked very similar to a regular medical office.

But when he went in the patient room, his stomach turned from a bitter smoke smell. His mom took off his shirt and rubbed oil on his body. Then the “doctor” blew cigar smoke on him. There was also a voodoo doll with a cigar in the corner.

The appointment had no effect on him, but his mom seemed adversely affected. She started losing her vision and hair.

One day, his mom seemed terror-stricken. “Promise me you won’t leave me,” she pleaded to her son, who was full of fear and incomprehension. He tried to calm and console her, but he had no idea what to do.

wtich doctor cigar smokeAnother day, his mom was sitting at the edge of the bed looking angry and afraid. “Mom are you ok?” a scared Jourdan recounts on a YouTube video.

She responded in Spanish, but since he never learned his mom’s native language, he only caught “God” and “cross.”

He drew crosses in the dust of the TV set and in a foggy windowpane.

“What do you think that is going to do?” his mom asked. It wasn’t his mom speaking.

But Jourdan didn’t know what to do.

“Jourdan please help, please help me,” his mom pleaded.

Both mom and son were traumatized by the event.

Eventually, mom met and married a good man who cared for and loved them. He was part of the Hebrew Israelites, a group of blacks and other minorities who believe they are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The movement is active in the jails and in the ghettos and helps people get out of drugs and gangbanging with a message that promotes obedience to the Old Testament.

jourdan ortiz baptismObservers have described the group as black supremacist at its extremist fringe. Some members “believe that Jews are devilish impostors and … openly condemn whites as evil personified, deserving only death or slavery,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Happy to find some stability in his family and life, Jourdan naively joined the group all the way up to high school.

But then he got a retail job and met a girl. They started going out and eventually kissed, which was a grave infraction of Hebrew Israelite norms. Read the rest of the story about freedom from Hebrew Israelites.

My fav Chinese broccoli

chinesebroccoliSince marrying a Chinese girl, I have come to know and love many Chinese dishes, but none compares to the Chinese broccoli drizzled in hoisin or oyster sauce. There’s nothing better to get your dark greens packed with vitamins and roughage so important for cancer-free colon. Here’s a recipe from Free Recipe Network.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli), trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the Chinese broccoli and cook uncovered until just tender, about 4 minutes, or steam the Chinese broccoli in a bamboo steamer for 3 minutes.
  3. Drain and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, ginger, and garlic together in a small saucepan over medium heat until thickened and no longer cloudy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Toss the broccoli in the sauce and serve.

Obstacles become opportunities

inspirationThere will be times when you want to give up and throw everything in. Don’t. By turning challenges into opportunities, you find success you were never capable of achieving.Your ability to take calculated risks and your incurable optimism will take you to great heights. — Richard Branson

The greatest gymnast of all time needs God too

simone biles christian olympianShe’s been called “the greatest gymnast of all time” and “light years ahead of the competition,” but Simone Biles, 21, credits God with her tour de force at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics where she became the first US gymnast to win four gold medals at once.

“I can go to (God) at any time,” Simone told Fox News. “He knows exactly what I need. Faith can calm me down. Everything happens for a reason.”

The fact that Simone would say everything happens for a reason is profoundly significant. She was born to parents lost in drug and alcohol abuse. She was caromed around the foster care system like a pinball until her grandmother and step-grandfather were contacted by a social worker, and they took her in.

simone biles bibleThe compact dynamo took overcoming adversity to the next level. She didn’t just “overcome,” she vaulted over obstacles with graceful twists and gasp-inducing flips to impose her dominance on the world stage and declare she would not be held victim to a troubled past.

In addition to her Olympic exploits, Simone is a four-time World all-around champion (2013–15, 2018), four-time World floor exercise champion (2013–15, 2018), two-time World balance beam champion (2014, 2015) and the 2018 World vault champion.

“Some of us older Olympians have talked about there being a physical limit to the sport, and then along comes Simone with all these incredible skills,” says Mary Lou Retton, a gold medal gymnast from 1984. “She’s like nothing I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

Simone was born in 1997 in Columbus, Ohio, the third of four siblings. Her mother, Shanon Biles, struggled with drugs and alcohol, while her father, Kelvin Clemons abandoned with family because of his own addictions.

After bouncing around foster care, Simone moved in with her grandfather Ron Biles, in Houston, Texas, in 2000. Together with his new wife, Nellie Cayetano Biles, Ron provided the necessary stability and Christian upbringing that helped Simone forget her dark past and become a champion.

Simone is 4’8” and so muscular that she used to wear a jacket at school to hide her muscles. She didn’t want to be embarrassed because she looked different than other girls.

1216-gl-well64-01_sqIt was Ron and Nellie who got Simone into gymnastics as an outlet for her boundless energy — as her older brother Adam says, Simone “was always flipping and jumping on furniture. My parents figured it would be better to put them in a safer environment.”

“I wouldn’t (have been in Rio) without my family,” Simone told the Houston Chronicle. “I can’t thank them enough for all the things they’ve given up for me to do what I love. Every time I compete, they can see that I’m happy.”

The couple officially adopted Simone and her siblings in 2003. They always took them to church on Sunday morning, prayed prayers and even got Simone out early from Wednesday gymnastics practice — to the chagrin of her trainer — to go to Bible instruction. She was homeschooled to accommodate intensive training schedules in the gym.

“I’ve been brought up to never take anything for granted and to always be the best Simone—the best version of myself,” Simone says on Glamour magazine. “From a very young age, (my adopted parents) always believed in us and told us to believe in ourselves.”

Nellie sees the hand of God in Simone’s coming to join her family.

“I’m a very prayerful person,” Nellie told CBN. Find out how Simone Biles overcame childhood with parents who abused drugs and alcohol.

Paunchy pastor changed eating habits, won’t have to squeeze thru Pearly Gates

steve reynolds before and after

Steve Reynolds

Is eating the area where Christians have trouble with self-control? There are fellowship dinners and snacks at Bible studies. We may not go to the bar to drain alcoholic beverages, but we go to the restaurant and knock back the extra fries and milkshakes. It’s not a beer belly; it’s a potluck paunch.

Extra pounds around the waist or on the thighs are more often carried to church than Bibles. In fact, one pastor in Guatemala teased a slim colleague, “Pastor sin panza no da confianza,” which translated means: A pastor without a paunch doesn’t inspire confidence (it’s mirthful in Spanish because it rhymes).

But while there is a disturbing trend in Christianity toward obesity, there is a new generation of shepherds who are saying no to the second helping of shepherd’s pie.

joel-osteen abs

Joel Olsteen

Take Steve Reynold for example. The way he sees it, he was “trashing” his temple of the Holy Spirit (his body), according to US News & World Report. The pastor of Capital Baptist Church in Annandale, Virginia weighed 340 pounds.

While Reynolds never pumped iron, he downed a tub of ice cream each night. While he circumvented cardio, he crammed carbs.

As a result, doctors ordered him to take eight separate medications to stave off diabetes and other disorders. At some point, Reynolds had an epiphany.

“I’m looking forward to heaven,” came the flash, “but I’m not ready to get there yet.”

church potluckReynolds had to upend some bad habits. He started an exercise regime and began a diet inspired by the Bible. It turns out the Holy Writ has much to say about healthy living, but he hadn’t noticed previously. By searching the word “body” in his concordance, he found some inspired guidance.

According to Reynolds, healthy diet and exercise “has been a kind of forsaken thing in churches.”

faithfully fitHealth Fitness Revolution unearthed stats to back up Reynolds’ claim: A 2006 Purdue study found that the fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups, led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate. A 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a bible study once a week are 50% likelier be obese.

Jesus “could walk 40 miles, not in Reeboks but in leather sandals,” Reynolds wrote in his book. “Yet His followers on this planet are unhealthy, overweight, sedentary couch potatoes.”

As a result of the regimen developed by Reynolds, he dropped 100 pounds and no longer needed the medications. His findings and testimony were published in his book Bod4God.

“We believe our bodies are very important to our faith,” says Scott Roberts, head of William Jessup University’s kinesiology department, where faith-based fitness courses are offered.

chuck bernal before after

Pastor Chuck Bernal

If 1 Timothy 4:7 says, “Bodily exercise profiteth little” to highlight spiritual health, nevertheless the verse does says that there is value in physical health. The purpose is not to counter pose bad/good, but to compare good/better.

In 2014, Health Fitness Revolution named the top 10 fittest pastors. Joel Olsteen topped the list for his enviable six pack.

Scott Bennefield was also featured as the “Iron Man Pastor.” Prior to 1991, he never gave much thought to fitness. But then he decided he’d better start running for exercise. He progressed and amplified his goals: at age 43, the pastor of the New Covenant Church in New Mexico competed in his first Iron Man competition and completed six more by time of publication.

Chuck Bernal, pastor of the LifePointe Church in Crowley, Texas, also earned an honorable mention. Through diet and exercise, he slimmed down from 367 pounds to a fit 226.

Mega-church Pastor Rick Warren joined the list. His introduction to health came by way of baptizing 858 people. Two-thirds of the way through dunking disciples, his arms grew tired. And he noticed the excess water displacement by the obese — including himself. Consequently, he lost 30 pounds.

Today, there are Christian diet plans, aps, tapes, exercise routines — all of which motivate through the Word of God for the goal of fitness. Exercising has become as important to some as healthy eating. Read the rest of Christian health.

Fentanyl: the killingest drug yet


Hi guys. I’ve been teaching health class at the our private Christian school in Los Angeles, the Lighthouse Christian Academy. Naturally, I have been researching for the units, including the latest on drug abuse. The emergency of fentanyl alarms me. So this video is to increase awareness. From the internet, it looks like there is hope for fentanyl addicts, but there are some scary stories too. The easiest way to get off is to never get on.

Sevin, former gang member, now a missionary rapper to the hood

christian gangsta rapSevin was a rising star in Christian hip hop, and he was homeless.

Marques Adams, his real name, was born in San Jose but grew up in Sacramento. His parents, Tracy and Debra Adams, raised him in a church that emphasized rules to the point of excluding God from the picture.

“I didn’t understand God as personal,” he says on a Next Step film. “I looked at Him how you look at a police officer in your community: somebody who enforces rules, but he’s not somebody you really wanna ‘kick it’ with.”

His parents moved a lot, cutting him off from friends and always putting him into the awkward situation of having to make new friends sometimes with a rough crowd that rejected him.

“All I ever wanted was love and people to accept me,” he says. “I was being treated like evil, and over time it wound up hardening my heart.”

At age 13, one of his few friends died, and he reacted with self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.

sevin christian outreach hood“I was always angry and hurting, and it was growing worse and worse and worse,” Sevin says. “I just kind of let go of any care for life or my future or anything. I fell into an abyss. I started self-medicating really young, 12, 13 years old stealing bottles of Nyquil out of the store.”

He discovered marijuana and prescription pills, “just anything to try to numb myself,” he says.

Because he longed for acceptance, he started hanging with gang members. The Oak Park Bloods took him and “treated me like their version of family,” he says.

“Not understanding what true love or God’s love actually looks like, the world was able to lie to me,” he says. “The streets was able to suck me in with that false sense of brotherhood and fellowship.”

His parents were oblivious to the signs that their son was getting lost. He went to the wrong people for advice, who pulled him “deeper and deeper into my own destruction,” he says.

Because of his depression, he went so far as to deny God to his father.

sevin christian rapper“I felt like if God is so good, then why are we suffering?” he says. “At that point I was so beat up and at that point so demonically influenced that I walked into my room and I ended up putting my gun to my head.”

But while he was turning his back on God, God never turned his back on Sevin.

“The Holy Spirit ended up falling on me, and I felt this overwhelming sense of love and peace and acceptance that I couldn’t deny,” he remembers. “It literally reached through my body and touched my heart and changed me. The God of the Bible that I always thought was this impersonal, fake entity that either wasn’t real or didn’t care about us, that God came off of these pages and jumped into my real life.”

The previous week, he went to school, as was his custom, with a gun. The next week, he went with a Bible and told all the “homies” at the lunch table that they needed to study with him.

“In my past I felt like I was in this black hole, isolated and alone,” he says. “Now I don’t feel that way. God’s in me, with me, around me everywhere I go.”

Being born-again, he had a burning desire to use his musical talents for the Lord. Having made a name for himself as a rising rapper on the streets, he wanted to dedicate to the Lord the talent he had used for Satan.

He almost immediately got involved in music, but he hadn’t completely left the world and wound up with charges related to drugs. Now he thinks he was put on a platform too early in his baby Christian faith. He should have concentrated first on his growth in the Lord without launching straight into leadership ministry.

But hindsight is 20/20. When he wound up in jail with a felony, the same people who embraced his turn to Christianity now turned their back on him and reviled him for his “hypocrisy.” It stung Sevin deeply that apparently nobody would stand with him in his court case.

The sting ran deep and formed the foundations of his current ministry. Now, Sevin says he doesn’t allow anyone to advance in ministry until they have served for a year. And he reaches out to those who backslide and fall into jail. When fellow Christian rapper PyRexx got locked up, Sevin visited and offered to pay his bills and watch over his wife.

In the meantime, his heart was growing hard due to what he felt was betrayal. When he was young, he was molested at church. Church people, he believed, would hurt you but not stand with you when you were hurt.

While he continued with that thought, he was still drinking and using drugs, even while he put out Christian music, he said.

“I was betrayed by people who were claiming to be the people of God,” Sevin says. “I had one foot in because I knew the truth, but I had no fellowship and didn’t have a real deep understanding of the gospel.”

He was “stuck in limbo.” Read how Sevin Christian rapper got unstuck and out of limbo.

Christ helped Katelyn Ohashi return to gymnastics and beat body shamers

katelyn ohashi perfect 10 floor routine uclaWhen Katelyn Ohashi dropped out of elite gymnastics due to injury, she felt relieved.

“I was happy to be injured,” she says starkly in a video.

Katelyn broke the Internet last week when her perfect-10 floor routine at UCLA wowed people with rarely seen feats that included a mind-boggling splits bounce.

Katelyn, who has identified as Christian, was born to a Japanese dad and German mom and raised in Seattle. She thrived at gymnastics from childhood and made the national team at age 12.

She actually beat her famous teammate Simone Biles in the 2013 American Cup, but a shoulder injury and subsequent back injury ruled her out of competition for two years.

american_cup_2015_katelyn ohashi with simone bilesThe blow would have been crushing to any aspiring star and might have provoked an identity crisis. But for Katelyn, it meant the end of unbearable pressure and body shaming she was subjected to over the Internet.

“After my first and last senior competition, I was told that I might never be able to do gymnastics again,” she said on Good Morning America. “It was like this weight was lifted off of me.”

Unlike her comrades, she was happy to drop down to Level 10 gymnastics and enter UCLA as a freshman in 2015. Without the glare of the cameras, she was able to rediscover her love for the sport and simply enjoy life. She could eat a burger and fries without feeling guilty and fretting about getting chubby, which had elicited anonymous snipes online.

“As a 14 year old, it’s kind of hard to cope with because you are still developing as a person,” she says. It’s an age when “everything really impacts you.”

During her freshman year in UCLA gymnastics, she told her coach, “I just don’t want to be great again. When I was great, there was nothing joyful about it. I wasn’t happy. So why would I want to go back there?”

Recently she interviewed with Serve Your Truth and confided: “Right now, I’m reading a lot to get more content with my blog. I’ve been reading the New Testament in the Bible because I am trying to improve my relationship with God. Someone once told me, ‘I don’t put my trust in people down here; I put my trust in God up there.’”

katelyn ohashi younger yearsApparently, it worked because joy permeated her most recent floor routine from start to finish.

Today, the 21-year-old sensation wants to shame the body shamers.

“In gym, makeup is forced on really young girls. If we don’t put on makeup, we are docked points,” she says. “I never felt the need to present myself with makeup because I believed I should be judged on my skills. After that competition, there were so many comments about my hair not being perfect. I won a big competition and people only cared about how I look.”

She wrote a poem entitled “Self-Hatred Goodbyes.” Here are some lines:

That only those people with the right, perfect bodies have the right to stand.

But here today, I stand, with the love that penetrates deeper than any wedding band.

Because I am my own size, and no words or judgmental stares will make me compromise.

For the bittersweet satisfaction that lays within my eyes, within my thighs,

I finally got my cake and ate it too for my old self-cries.

And today, my self-hatred says its goodbyes.

“There was a time when I was on top of the world, an Olympic hopeful. I was unbeatable — until I wasn’t,” Katelyn says on a video uploaded by the Players Tribune. “That girl that you would think had it all — all these medals in her room, the podium she’s standing on, she thought she had nothing.”

Her confidence wavered over fan criticisms that focused on her looks or weight, the shape of her body. She wanted to eat junk food and exercised constantly after eating so that she would pass periodic weight tests to not be kicked off the team.

“(I) was on this path of almost invincibility, and then (my) back just gave out,” she says. “I was broken.”

But the brokenness wasn’t the disappointment over the injury. It was the internal self-doubt from the lacerating comments from nasty “fans.” She embraced the pull away from gymnastics.

“I wanted to experience what it was like to be a kid again,” Katelyn says. “Nobody ever knew really what I was going through, and I could never say what was wrong with me. I couldn’t accept myself. I was happy to be injured.”

Others, however, didn’t embrace her injury and urged her to strive to return to the top flight. “I was compared to a bird that couldn’t fly. I hated myself.” Read the rest about Katelyn Ohashi Christian.

Quote

Steaming and submersion cooking — Khushbu Singhal

I’ve launched into bamboo steamer business. I’m into healthy food and exercise, so this is perfect for me. Here are observations of an expert: Moist heat techniques – steaming, cooking en papillote, shallow poaching, deep poaching and simmering are liquid and or water vapor based cooking. Steaming Cooking is done by water vapor in a closed vessel. Steamed foods don’t lose much of their color. This method doesn’t impart their own flavor as the frying or roasting does. So […]

via Steaming and submersion cooking — Khushbu Singhal

With bow and arrow gesture, Brandin Cooks celebrates TD and glorifies God

brandon cooks archerNicknamed the “Archer,” Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks celebrates touchdowns by mimicking a bow and arrow shot as a reference to the Bible.

“It’s just another way to be able to glorify God rather than just pointing to the sky,” Cooks says in Sports Spectrum. “Just bringing a unique way, so my hope is when fans see me, they see God in me. That’s the biggest part of it all. If anything, I’m shooting it at God. It’s my way of thanking him and bringing a little twist to it.”

Cooks alludes to Psalms 144:6: “Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot your arrows and rout them.”

brandon cooks christian ramsA devout Christian, Cooks shoots plenty of scriptural arrows through social media.

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Whatever you do walk with boldness, and know you are fully equipped,” he tweeted recently.

Cooks was born on Sept. 25, 1993 in Stockton, California, and lived there with his father, Worth Cooks, and mother, Andrea Cooks. His father died of a heart attack when he was only 6-years-old so Wayne and his three brothers were raised by their mother.

brandon cooks statsHe began to show promise in football playing for Stockton’s Lincoln High School. He grabbed 141 receptions for 2,508 yards and 28 touchdowns, which ranked him the 26th-best wide receiver and the 240th overall prospect in his class, according to the Recruiting Network.

Cooks then attended Oregon State University, where he caught 226 receptions for 3,272 yards and 24 touchdowns. As a senior, he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2014. In Cooks’ first career game, he made seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.

This made him the youngest player, at 20, to catch a touchdown pass in the NFL since Reidel Anthony in 1997. As he closed his first season, Cooks had 53 receptions gaining 550 yards and three touchdowns before injuring his thumb in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

In 2015 Cooks began the season as the #1 wide receiver for the Saints. In the Week 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles he received over 100 yards in one game for the first time in his career. His five receptions totaled 107 yards and a touchdown. Read the rest of Brandin Cooks Christian.

Kendrick Lamar’s Christianity

Kendrick Lamar Christian rapLeft dazed and reeling with fury, Kendrick Lamar was in a Food 4 Less parking lot after his buddy had just been shot and killed. Rage for revenge burned inside, but so did a gripping sense of horror at the evil in this world.

Seeing him in turmoil, a friend’s grandmother approached and talked to Kendrick about God, and the teenager accepted Jesus into his heart.

“One of my homeboys got smoked,” Lamar told the New York Times. “She had seen that we weren’t right in the head. That was her being an angel for us.” He got baptized a decade later.

Kendrick Lamar JesusToday, the seven-time Grammy winner makes frequent reference to God’s salvation and grace, as well as temptation and fear of judgment in his songs. While the rank and file of the church eschews him for his profanity and descriptions of sexual sin in other songs, his secular audience has no doubt about his faith.

“I’m the closest thing to a preacher that they have,” says Lamar, 31. But he adds, “My word will never be as strong as God’s word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work.”

Vassar College professor of music Kiese Laymon calls him a “prophetic witness.” Revolt online magazine says Lamar “wears his faith, spirituality, and religious beliefs on his sleeve.” He doesn’t drink, smoke, use drugs or womanize.

Lamar is part of the bridge forming between secular and Christian hip hop. While Lecrae moves toward the secular side, Lamar and a host of other artists are pulling away from unbridled hedonism and exploring salvation themes. (Chance the Rapper, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and even Drake also include songs that talk unashamedly about God and Jesus in their repertoire.)

kendrick lamar wifeLamar grew up in Compton, Calif. His father belonged to the Gangster Disciples gang. Little Kendrick witnessed his first murder at 5 and his second at 8. His parents didn’t teach him about God, but his grandmother instilled him with Bible knowledge.

Growing up on welfare, living in Section 8 housing, the youngster worried that he would succumb to the debasing poverty, drug-trafficking, violence and hopelessness of the hood, even though he was a straight-A student.

At just 16, he signed for Top Dawg Entertainment, based in Carson, Calif., under the stage name K-Dot. After opening for prominent artists and working with Snoop Dogg, Lamar broke through on his own with his second album Good Kid, MAAD City, which hit Billboard’s #2 in its first week in 2012. In it, he depicts vividly the urban fiendishness of the hood.

Kendrick Lamar Barak ObamaHe opens the album with these words: Lord God, I come to you a sinner, and I humbly repent for my sins. I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that you raised Him from the dead. I will ask that Jesus will come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. I receive Jesus to take control of my life that I may live for Him from this day forth. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me with your precious blood. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He followed up in 2015 with To Pimp a Butterfly, which went certified platinum and won a Grammy for best rap album of the year. Then in 2017 he came out with Damn, which fathoms the loss of faith in the light of a volatile world of malfunction.

While Lamar’s music is pioneering, it’s his vocal inflections and lyrical substance that earn him widespread respect. For Damn, he won the first-ever Pulitzer Prize not given to jazz or classical music. Former President Obama singled out Lamar as one of his favorite rappers. He’s called King Kendrick.

On Damn, an apparent endorsement of the Hebrew Israelite movement, an aberrant group with claims blacks in America are actually God’s chosen people from Israel, elicited a response from Christian rapper Flame, who in “Absolute Truth” exposes their flawed exegesis.

“A lot of people fall for it,” Flame said on the radio program of Vocab Malone. “It feels good. It puffs up your pride, the ethnocentrism.”

Damn is less uplifting than his earlier albums. By plumbing the depths of discouragement, Lamar is encouraging his listeners that platitudes should be discarded and that it’s okay to be real and raw before God. Read the rest of Kendrick Lamar Christian?

‘How do I get off drugs?’ Ask Christian Leyden

christians with tattoosChristian Leyden always had a struggle when he was a boy.

His father wasn’t around when he was younger, so his mom was the only father and mother figure around, and she had to work two jobs to keep Christian and his brother safe and maintain a home for them.

When he was in third grade he would send his mother suicide letters saying he didn’t want to live anymore.

“I started fighting a lot, getting angry with a lot of people,” he says on a YouTube video. “There was a lot of damage here and there not having my father around.”

This depression continued for three years.

broken homes and sin“I started listening to metal music, hip hop music and all this death metal music and all this music that started to get strong in my life,” Christian recounted.

In his teens he succumbed to cultural influences to party, do drugs, get women and to live a wild and crazy lifestyle.

Christian was always a person who wanted to be accepted, so a lack of friends angered him. But one day when he went see to his first high school football game, his older brother’s friends asked him to smoke weed and hang out with them.

“Just because they wanted to hang out with me, I was like, ‘Heck yea man I wanna hang out with you guys,’” exclaimed Christian.

Since he cared so much about their approval, he would pretty much do anything “friends” asked him.

christian leyden“Three months into me smoking and drinking, I ended in a psych ward for telling my family about me cutting myself for years,” he says. “I just went through different stages in my life.”

For eight years he was in and out of institutions.

He drank while attending Alcoholics Anonymous. He took meth, Xanax, pills and heroin, despite going through rehabs and living in halfway houses.

When Christian got locked up in jail, his new life began. Read the rest: How do I get off drugs?

Clever but lacking profundity

wreck_it_ralph_2The mind-blowing part about Wreck-It Ralph was that it aimed to teach kids empathy. It was also a brilliant idea and tightly written script. In fact, the only thing wrong with it was its publicity: an unappealing gorilla of a man.

The sequel had much to live up to, and it fell short (except for the publicity). To be sure, the script is clever: Vanellope’s game is being shut down, so she and Ralph go into the Internet to attempt to buy the steering wheel to save the game. There, they fall into a series of hilarious misadventures as they attempt to raise money to pay for their EBay purchase.

princessesBut when it comes to underlying theme, Ralph Breaks the Internet disappoints. The lesson? Be secure enough to let your friends go. Vanellope wants to driver around in an online game called Slaughter Race with her new friend Shank. Ralph doesn’t want to let go.

Meh.

It is 1000-foot drop down from the lofty notion of teaching kids empathy. It was just jaw-dropping that the first film even attempted such a great undertaking. Empathy is one of those abstract human qualities that only the mature can hope to acquire. And this movie want to inculcate it into kids? It got my all my admiration.

Ralph-Breaks-The-Internet-Gal-Gadot-Shank-PhotoRalph Breaks the Internet prefers a clever plot with smooth jokes over a transcendent theme. The princess scene is delightful, and the King Kong part a handy evocation of past cinematography. You can enjoy the sequel with your kids. It’s safe. But if you’re hoping for your mind to be challenged and heart to be stirred to growing nobility, you’ll be disappointed.

One final note: Wreck-It Ralph‘s script was genius. There were no untied loose ends at the end. The hurtling spaceship crashing into Sugar Crush is paralleled by Vanellope’s race car glitching past King Candy. It’s one of those internal structures that you don’t see until you’ve watched several times, and it stirs awe at the writer’s ability to seamlessly weave such a delightful and structured tale. Ralph Breaks the Internet sadly ends with loose ends. What happened to that virus? It just drops out of the story with no explanation. Unsatisfying.

 

Black musician attended KKK rallies to make friends, talk to klansmen civilly

maxresdefaultBy Kiera Sivrican —

When Daryl Davis held the American flag for his Cub Scouts troop in a march from Lexington to Concord to commemorate Paul Revere’s ride, he swelled with pride as an American.

What the 10-year-old never expected was the bottles, soda cans and rocks hurled at him. As one of only two black children in the area in 1968, he was being targeted by some of the whites in the crowd.

“This was the first time I ever experienced anything like this,” he recalled. “I did not understand.” Scout leaders huddled over him with their bodies and escorted him out of danger. “I kept asking, ‘Why? Why? What had I done wrong?’”

But the Scout leaders said nothing, and it wasn’t until his parents were cleaning and patching up his bruises and scratches that he began to learn about the ugly underbelly of America.

“For the first time in my life, my parents sat me down and explained to me what racism was. I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about,” he recalls. “It was inconceivable to me that somebody who had no idea who I was, who had never laid eyes on me, who had never spoken to me, would want to inflict pain on me for no other reason that the color of my skin. So I did not believe my parents.”

As he grew up, he was faced with more racism, but he never understood it: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” The question haunted him, and, in his quest for the answer as he grew up, he read books about white supremacy, black supremacy and many others. None of these books offered an explanation.

So as an adult, he struck upon the idea of asking Ku Klux Klan members why they hated him. By now, he had become a professional R&B and blues musician and had played with the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, B. B. King and Bruce Hornsby. He was also a fervent Christian. He proposed to write a book about hate in his spare time.

In 1983, he scheduled his first interview with Roger Kelly, the Grand Dragon for Maryland. Daryl neglected to mention that he was black, so when Kelly and an armed guard showed up, they froze.

But Daryl welcomed him warmly and encouraged him to talk. The spoke calmly and compared ideas. Tempers didn’t flare. They disagreed but treated each other with cordiality and respect.

The first conversation led to a second and then to a third. Soon they were friends. The armed guard dropped out of the picture. They shared lunches and dinners. Kelly invited Daryl to a KKK rally, and he attended. He listened to speeches and watched them burn crosses. Kelly went to watch Daryl play boogie-woogie on the keyboard.

Eventually, Kelly renounced his racism and resigned from the KKK. Daryl’s quest to comprehend racism had converted a racist.

“Respect was the key,” says Daryl, now 60. “Because I was willing to listen and he was willing to listen to me, he ended up leaving the Klan.”

Eventually, Daryl learned where racism comes from: “Ignorance breeds fear, and if we do not keep that fear in check, it breeds hatred,” he says. “And it we do not keep the hatred in check, that hatred in turn will breed destruction.

“It’s a wonderful thing when you see a light bulb pop on in their heads or they call you and tell you they are quitting,” he adds. “I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan. I just set out to get an answer to my question: ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me.’ I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated.”

Today, Daryl has rescued more than 200 Klansmen from their robes. His tactic of making friends with his haters with the love of Christ and calm conversation has helped them see the light.

“I am a musician, not a psychologist or a sociologist,” he says. “If I can do that, anybody can do that. Take the time to sit down and talk with your adversaries. You will learn something from them, and they will learn something from you. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting. It’s when the talking ceases that the ground becomes fertile for violence, so keep the conversation going.”

Kiera Sivrican is my sophomore student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in the Los Angeles area. This article first appeared on GodReports.com here.

Youth group rejected him, so he turned his back on God

But God brought Dr. Paul Lim back

atheist became Christian Dr. Paul Lim

By the time he got to Yale University, it wasn’t the logical arguments that made him turn his back on Jesus. It was the way kids in the youth group had marginalized him.

More often than not people’s problems with Christianity don’t have to do with intellectual hang-ups but with the stories of hurt, stories of rejection, stories of people who are supposed to embody the gospel in a compelling and endearing way, they end up doing the opposite,” says Dr. Paul C. H. Lim.

As an immigrant at age 15 from South Korea, he went to a Korean church in Philadelphia with his parents who previously were non-religious but sought support in their transition to America. Even though young Paul gave church the benefit of the doubt, he quickly realized he was being ostracized.

The youth pastor ran a Friday night program he called Triple B — Bible study, Burger King and bowling, but Paul was ignored and sat alone, ate alone and bowled alone.

Paul-Lim“I wasn’t wearing the right clothes. I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t have the right haircut. I didn’t play the right sport. I wasn’t part of the cool crowd. I was part of the loser crowd,” he says. “The worst experience was to bowl alone. I would always pray that there would be an even number of kids so that somebody would join me, but when we had an odd number of kids, I would find myself alone on the lane.

“Why wouldn’t the youth pastor come over and bowl with me occasionally?” he adds. “Coming to America was a traumatic experience. But in church, I felt the alienation even more.”

So when his parents drove him to Yale, he was looking forward to ditching God and zeroing in on “hedonism and careerism to the core.”

“I was excited that I was getting the heck away from the church, and I was so excited that I was going to plunge headlong into this intellectual pursuit of the good life,” he says.

When his gray-haired New Testament professor said, “The Bible is a wonderful book but it’s not the kind of truth that you want to hang your life on,” Paul needed no more nails to shut the coffin on his Christianity.

He was an economics major set on making his mark in the banking industry, having a house in Long Island with two kids, two dogs and a cat.

But then his sister got engaged to a seminary student, this bewildered Paul.

“Why would you ever want to marry a guy going into ministry?” he wondered. “It was the oddest things I ever heard. To me, he was loser guy. Secretly, I hated him.”

But Paul’s mom was a vibrant believer, and she always asked him if he was going to church. Over winter break, she cajoled him to do the last thing he would’ve wanted to do with vacation. She asked him to go to a Christian retreat because his brother-in-law would be a speaker.

Paul rolled his eyes and dreaded it. But because he adored his mom, he acquiesced..

Read the rest of Dr. Paul Lim Christian.

Christian hip hop artist Datin raps about pending divorce, pain and self-medication

DatinRapper Datin always encouraged kids coming out of the death and jail traps of drugs and violence foisted upon unsuspecting kids by secular hip hop artists.

Now he has a new people group to encourage: those coming out of a divorce.

In his September 2018 video “Hell in the Hallway,” Datin says his own ongoing divorce has him living in a dark and lonely hallway. He can see the light at the end of the tunnel (hallway). But until he gets there, he’s out of the room of marriage and left in a gloomy limbo.

When his marriage foundered, Datin submitted to pastoral guidance and sought counseling but his wife didn’t want to participate, he noted on Facebook. (Her version could not be found online; she deleted her Instagram pictures with him).

Datin Divorce

It’s over with his beloved Johely

Because Florida law allows divorce on the basis of only one of the parties, Datin — whose real name is Edward Berrios — found himself hapless and resigned to the heart-wrenching conclusion of a happy chapter in his life.

In all cases of marriage, Christians should seek reconciliation. But if one party is unwilling to try, your life is not over, Datin says. God has a destiny for you beyond your present tragedy.

“When God closes one door, he opens another,” Datin says. “But right now I’m in the middle. It’s hell in a hallway.”

datin divorce

From the video “Hell in the Hallway.”

Datin is the raspy-voiced rapper who delivers hammer blows. His mad dog face, he says, is not an imitation of violence-peddling secular rappers. It’s because he’s upset by their lies and deception that have been misleading America’s youth.

Like his label boss Bizzle, he constantly calls out secular artists, whom he blames for inducing tens of thousands of young men into trafficking and violence. These artists profiteer from their recipe for death. They entice kids by flaunting a flamboyant lifestyle of riches and women.

“Their songs are like cyanide; the more we listen to ‘em, the more our souls die inside,” he raps on “Pull the Plug.” “This is for the deejay killing us with the poison he plays. Let’s pull the plug on ‘em.”

Datin Hell in the Hallway

From the video “Hell in the Hallway.”

Datin grew up in Newark, New Jersey, not on ritzy Jersey shore but on the backside ghetto. He has every right to aim at hip hop artists for their false narrative because he himself fell for their lies. He and his friends sold drugs, treated women poorly and acted like thugs.

As a result of adopting the gang lifestyle, one friend was killed and another jailed, he says in his songs.

But while he was sinning, the Holy Spirit was afoot in his life. He first turned on to Christ when he watched Mel Gibson’s 2004 “The Passion of Christ.”

But since hip hop was his priority, he kept his nascent faith low key and compromised his walk with sinful stumblings.

When he graduated high school, Datin gained renown in the battle rap world and was expected to sign for a big name label. To the surprise of many, he declined signing with Eminem’s Shady Records and Ja Rule and Swiss Beatz, according to Christian Post. His neighborhood pal signed and drove up in a Jaguar to invite him to also sign, he says.

datin high school battle rap

Datin won the rap battle in high school.

“It was such a struggle to say no,” Datin told Rapzilla. “It took every bit of my being. My whole life was based around my music, my hopes and my dreams. To say no was like chopping off my arm.”

In 2007, he got fully saved and extricated from the ensnaring world of hip hop. He laid down the microphone first, grew in God, and then years later picked the mic back up only to outreach, he says on a radio interview DJ Tony Tone.

He dropped projects in 2010 and 2012. In 2014, he finally signed — for the Christian label God Over Money. This was a natural move because the label is known for never soft-peddling the gospel — or from shirking controversy. For Datin — who preaches hellfire and brimstone for rappers who sell their fellow people of color down the river — it was an ideal fit.

His much-anticipated first studio album Roar charted 18th for rap on Billboard and hit the top 10 on iTunes.

With such a sterling testimony, Datin’s sudden announcement in April of his pending divorce was as startling as it was saddening.

“I have fought for my marriage to the very end,” Datin says. “I’m scandal free. There’s no issue of adultery or abandonment or abuse. I have seeked (sic) counseling. I have put effort in. But the effort was not reciprocate. So therefore, this is the unfortunate outcome.”

Christian rap offers a stark contrast with secular rap because marriage is idealized and honored. Datin in November 2017 rapped “Fight For Us,” his pledge to work for his marriage.

“I’m submitted. I’m committed. He’s my witness. Before the Lord I stand, Ima give it all I can,” he says. “Baby, Ima fight for us.” Read the rest of the Christian Divorce – a story of Datin.

Social Club Misfits unite losers, rejects and nerds

social club misfits recording labelThey were bullied in school hallways and cut from teams. They went unnoticed, until they tried to get attention, and then they stuck out like sore thumbs. Girls weren’t content to just say no to a date: “Get out of my face or I’ll scream very loudly.”

Now, Fernando Miranda and Martin Santiago have turned all those moments of embarrassment and loneliness into gold.

As a rap duo, they’ve capitalized on their woes to build a huge following of awkward, shy and unpopular people. Their group, Social Club Misfits, is a Revenge of the Nerds 2.0, and they signed with Capitol Records CMG in 2016.

While the rest of America — and notably the rap world — was busy putting down others, Social Club Misfits was gathering all the outcasts into a massive group of friends, followers and family.

“I think God is about people and as Christians we should be about people and known for our love,” Martin told Rapzilla. “We wanted to have a band that was honest and real with people. It’s a safe zone. We wanted to share from our life and give you a Christian perspective on everything we do.”

social club misfits losers, outcasts and rejects

Both Marty and Fern — as they prefer to call themselves — started as church dropouts.

Fern was born in Puerto Rico. When his parents immigrated to Hollywood, Florida, he was a pastor’s son banging on the drums and the congas.

He was doing music and had generated some buzz in the local radio stations. So when he turned 18, he moved out, stopped going to church and dedicated himself full time to worldly rap. He was sleeping on friends’ couches and fell into the party scene that always seems to accompany the world music scene.

“That was the start of what I call the lost decade — ten years of being out there and mom wondering and crying and praying,” Fern says on a testimony video. “I wouldn’t tell my parents where I was. My mom would call me and say, ‘Where are you? I just want to bring you $20.’ And I would say, ‘Mom I can’t tell you where I am. I’ll meet you at the drug store, and I’ll give you my laundry and could you wash it for me?’ She would cry and say, ‘Your dad wants to see you.’

“But I was being prideful. I never wanted him to see me like that, being broken down.”

He was messing around with drugs and started hustling to make ends meet. One night some enemies burst into his apartment and held a gun at his face while they ransacked the apartment. The problem wasn’t with Fern, so he was allowed to live.

social club misfits concert“The Lord spared me,” Fern says. “Ironically enough, that was just the beginnings of the lost decade. I would go on and pursue regardless of what that was. I had a gun in my face another time after that. It was a repetitive cycle. It’s called insanity. You just do the same things over and over trying to look for a different result.“

The lowest point came when he very nearly threw himself from a hotel balcony when he panicked during an overdose.

“Jump!” a voice told him as he leaned over the railing. “Just go ahead. You did too much. You gotta go now.”

He drank milk to neutralize the drugs. Read the rest of Social Club Misfits testimony.

Hottest new Christian rapper is Latino WhatUpRG

WHATUPRG-Christian hip hop artist.pngWhen he was only 7 and already showed signs of liking hip hop, a woman at church talked to Raúl García’s mother to warn her that rap was of the devil.

It’s a good thing Mom and Son ignored her. Today Raúl — known now as WHATUPRG — has literally exploded on the Christian Hip Hop scene, signing with Reach Records at age 21 without ever having made an album previously. RG (his stage name reads “What up, RG?”) is the face of the next generation of Christian rappers who are ministering to a new generation of fans.

wesside whatuprg“My parents have always supported me in my music,” RG says to NewH2O. “I know in my heart where I’m heading and where I’ve positioned myself allows me to speak to people and let them know it’s not about a bunch of rules but about His grace and His mercy and His love. So when I rap I want people to know that they’re not alone and there is grace for them too.”

RG is born of Mexican parents who immigrated (illegally) to the United States. He grew up in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where he went to church, listened to Christian Spanish rap and loved to perform at church functions.

Despite doubters in the same congregation, RG’s parents supported his musical inclinations and even paid for his first album to be produced when he was 14, a recording he now calls “trash.”

WHATUPRG_REACH-RECORDSWhen he was 16, his dad was nabbed by immigration officers and deported to Mexico. This tore RG and led him to be outspoken on the divisive issue. “I’m still dealing with the emotional trauma to this day,” he tweeted.

It appears his dad is back home in Georgia, since RG tweeted about going vegetarian in 2017, only to be contradicted by his dad, who said they were eating carne asada. “I can’t be Mexican and healthy,” he quipped.

RG got noticed by CHH heavies when he filmed a video of himself and his friends at Walmart in 2017 with his song “Don’t Forget to Live.” The filmography was amateurish, but pros were impressed by the vocals and music. He started getting calls.

latino christian hip hop artistsSoon he was nobigdyl’s Indie Tribe and was featured on Mogli the Iceberg’s song “Ride My Own” and others. Just months later, Lecrae signed him. He was making waves but was still an unproven quantity since he hadn’t dropped a professional album.

“On my 18th birthday, I was getting a 116 tattoo on my knee,” RG tells Trackstarz. “When I was turning 21, I was talking to my lawyer about the contract.”

RG’s blitz to fame has surprised even him, and he says he’s focusing on staying rooted in God. “God honors humility,” he says.

he fact he wants to stay low is refreshing to hear, especially when one contrasts that attitude with the braggadocio rife in secular rap, with artists boasting about their knife wounds and talk in hyperbolic terms about being “gods.”

In May 2018, RG dropped his debut album Pleasant Hill, which created a sensation. He hit #7 on iTunes hip hop sales. A Trackstarz interviewer said there’s not a song he doesn’t like on it. David Livick lists him among the Top 10 artists of 2018.

There are detractors, many of the historic fans of the 116 clique who don’t like the new direction of the label and want the Old School material. RG’s not Christian enough, some say. “STOP Imitating and Start innovating… what’s the point of copying the World, sounding, Looking and acting like them?” comments Leveled Head on the “Wesside” video. Read the rest about WhatUpRG Christian.

Bizzle sizzles in controversy for Jesus

Bizzle (1)When he finally turned his back on the gold chains, the flashy rims and the swanky garb; when he finally turned his back on trafficking and pimping to make money to produce a rap album; when he chose Jesus, God came through for Bizzle in a big way.

With no resources other than the Bible in his hand and Jesus in his heart, Bizzle was given engineers, studio time and producers free of charge to whip out his first album — a Christian mixtape.

“You feel like you have to play by Satan’s rules in order to get where you want,” says Bizzle, whose real name is Mark Julian Felder. “All the stuff I felt that we had to go and cut corners and scheme to get money to pay for, the Lord brought these things without me having to spend a dime. He just sent them my way.”

bizzle same loveToday, Bizzle, 35, has 12 Christian albums and mixtapes and his own recording label, which is called — what else? — God Over Money. His current Light Work EP cracked iTunes top 10. His material is both a compliment and counterpoint to Christian hip-hop legend Lecrae.

Bizzle was raised in Cudahy, a small neighborhood of Los Angeles, by his mother and grandmother, who dragged him to church. He never felt poor because Mom managed their Section 8 with wisdom. His dad lived in nearby Compton, a famous exporter of rap artists.

Bizzle had verses in his veins from early childhood. His idol was Tupac, and he became enamored with the vaunted thug life of pistols, revenge and crime. When he graduated from high school, he hawked mixtapes with worldly themes, bragging about gangster living he never did.

51407e9dd2b66bff47fec4055390aa1923905c90Then under the rap moniker “Lavyss,” he started to catch the eye of rap power brokers and opened shows for Lil Wayne, Juelz Santana and Lil Boosie, but he was sleeping at friends’ places or in his car. He borrowed finery and gold chains to look the part on stage. He got friends to drive him up in their ritzy “whips” when he arrived at concerts. He produced some mixtapes that showed promise.

But he wasn’t making money. So he decided he needed to turn to practicing what he preached (crime) to speed up the money-making. He began selling marijuana and pills. A prostitute who liked his music offered to help and started passing him earnings. That’s how he became a pimp.

“It’s like you go to the beach and you get out in the water and you don’t notice how far you’re getting way out there in the deep,” Bizzle says on his testimony video. “It wasn’t until I looked at Christ and saw how righteous He was that I realized how filthy I was.

“I never in a million years” would pimp, Bizzle says now. “Especially since I was raised by my mother and my grandmother, I always had respect for women. But since that was funding my dream at the moment, I gave it a pass. That was the furthest I got from God and it caused me to get the closest to God.”

Bizzle and a friend went to Las Vegas to hustle money with the prostitute. Bizzle had the habit of stowing her profits in his Bible. But he also read the Bible, and it intrigued him. One day his buddy came out of the shower and caught him reading his Bible.

“So what you gonna be a gospel rapper now?” his buddy mocked.

bizzle wife

Now his wife

“You know what? I might,” Bizzle responded. “One day the Lord just had to put that conviction on my heart.”

After four years of rapping dirty lyrics and doing dirty deeds, Bizzle decided to switch to the Lord’s side in 2008. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and was born-again!

He had no funds but he was determined to serve the Lord instead of Satan. He took two years off, got married to his love in Houston and worked at Wal-Mart. Then he staged his return to rap, now for CHH.

It would be fair to say that Bizzle exploded onto the Christian hip hop scene with his 2010 song “You Got Some Explaining To Do” in which he called out Jay-Z and Beyoncé for their anti-Christian themes and lifestyles. Jay-Z and similar rappers were his childhood idols that led him down the wrong path. Now he was calling them to account.

Being brutally honest and criticizing a rival is regular fare for the hip hop genre, so not even Bizzle — still pretty much an unknown in rap world — could have imagined the controversy he generated. He had demanded Jay-Z explain what he was doing, but Bizzle found himself compelled to explain his diss.

It wasn’t necessarily a publicity stunt, but it worked well. Suddenly industry engineers came out of the woodwork and offered their services for free. Boi 1da (Matthew Jehu Samuels) — who produced Drake, Rihanna, Eminem, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar — called him and, saying he was a Christian, offered to produce him for free.

“When I decided to do rap for the Lord, I had no resources. I didn’t have any money for studio time. I didn’t have anybody to mix the records,” he says. Then “people started coming out of the blue.” Read the rest about Bizzle controversial Christian hip hop artist.

3 pigs, 1 wolf and 10 students learn journalism at Lighthouse Christian Academy

high school writing program and student journalismTasked with converting The Three Little Pigs into a journalism article, LCA students show flair and fun.

Two pigs dead, another survived wolf attack

By Jose Hueso and Rachel Post —

Two pigs were eaten and a third successfully defended himself against a ravenous wolf who blew the houses down of the first two pigs yesterday in the woods.

Unable to blow down the third house which was made of bricks, the wolf entered with malicious intent by way of the chimney.

He was unaware that the chimney was booby-trapped. He fell into a pot of boiling water on the fire of the chimney and died. The third pig ate the boiled predator.

The wolf was able to knock down the first two pigs’ houses by blowing with all his might against them. One was made of hay and the other of sticks.

“I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down,” the wolf threatened.

But huffing and puffing and blowing didn’t work against the house of bricks.

Two pigs dead, wolf gets into hot water

By Joey Catalano, Ryan Zepeda and Zhang Xiao-Tong —

Two pigs were found eaten alive inside a killer wolf’s stomach yesterday in the woods.

Local residents say the wolf was spotted blowing down the two pigs’ houses.

“He was just saying, ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!’ to all those poor piggies,” said Julie Rabbit.

The houses were made of sticks and hay. But a third pig escaped unscathed when the wolf attempted unsuccessfully to flatten his brick house.

Foiled in his huffing and puffing, the wolf attempted to get the third pig by shimmying down the chimney. The quick-witted third pig put a pot of boiling water on the fire in the chimney, and the wolf only fell to his death in the hot water.

‘Another brick in the wall’ not a bad thing, pigs learn

By Kiera Sivrican and Wang Jingtong —

A big bad wolf assaulted three little pigs in a rage of hunger yesterday in the woods, blowing two of their three houses down.

The famished wolf left his woods for a meal, when he stumbled on the three pigs, who had just finished building their separate houses as seemed best to each: one of hay, one of sticks, one of bricks. Read the rest of the Los Angeles specialized high school writing program

Hugh Jackman has played many roles. Even that of a Christian.

Christian_hugh_jackmanHe’s played Wolverine, Blackbeard, the Greatest Showman and Paul the Apostle. Among his many roles, versatile actor Hugh Jackman is also a person of faith.

“I’m a Christian,” he told Parade magazine. “I was brought up very religious. I used to go to different evangelists’ [revival] tents all the time. When I was about 13, I had a weird premonition that I was going to be onstage, like the preachers I saw.”

His parents accepted Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade. Natives of England, mom and dad lived in Sydney, Australia during his childhood. He got a pretty good start in his faith with church and Sunday School, but the horizon dimmed when his parents divorced and mom returned to England when Hugh was 8.

He waited, hoped and prayed for them to reconcile. When that didn’t happen in his early teens, his disappointment and sense of rejection turned to rage.

“My anger didn’t really surface until I was 12 or 13,” he remembers. “It was triggered because my parents were going to get reconciled and didn’t. All those years I’d been holding out hope that they would.

hugh-jackman-wolverine“From the moment Mum left, I was a fearful kid who felt powerless. I used to be the first one home and I was frightened to go inside. I couldn’t go into the house on my own. I’d wait outside, scared, frustrated. Growing up I was scared of the dark. I was scared of heights. It limited me. I hated it, and that contributed to my anger. Isn’t most anger fear-based, ultimately? It emanates from some kind of powerlessness.”

Venting his wrath, he smashed his head into the metal locker doors until they dented inward. It was a bravado thing that a lot of boys were doing. Hugh also found an outlet for his violent impulses in rugby.

“I’d be somewhere in a ruck in rugby, get punched in the face and I’d just go into a white rage,” he says.

Acting was something of afterthought for Hugh. He was looking to pick up some units in college in his fourth year and took a drama class. Seeing natural talent in him, his teacher assigned him the leading role in Václav Havel’s The Memorandum.

hugh jackman wife“In that week, I felt more at home with those people than I did in the entire three years” at university,” he recalls.

He studied journalism and once tinkered with the idea of being a chef on a plane, but once he figured out he could actually make a living as an actor, he gave himself to drama.

He met his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, who is 12 years his senior, on the Australian TV show Correlli.

“I was terrified when I realized I had a crush on the star of the show. I was like, ‘My first job, the leading lady. Embarrassing. She’s going to look at me like this young little puppy.’ I didn’t talk to her for a week. Finally, she said, ‘Have I done something to annoy you?’ I said, “‘Look, I’ve got a crush on you. I’m sorry.” And she said, ‘Oh, I’ve got a crush on you too.’ And that was 20 years ago.”

They were married in 1996. For medical reasons, they were unable to have biological children, so the couple adopted two children, Oscar and Ava. When he played Blackbeard in the movie Pan, Hugh wanted to be sensitive in his role in a movie dealing with orphans.

Hugh has distanced himself from the straight-laced, dogmatic brand of Christianity of his father, he says.

“I was brought up with a very strict, Protestant view of what God is and our place next to God, consisting of a deity, a bearded man telling us what to do, mocking us on our behavior, and hopefully granting us passage into Heaven,” he says.

He’s adopted a more unorthodox approach, practices Transcendental Meditation and yoga and attends the School of Practical Philosophy, a swami-led group that combines the teachings of Jesus with a hodgepodge of Hinduism, Buddhism and even Shakespeare.

He says his dad doesn’t care for the eclectic approach to Christianity. Read the rest: Hugh Jackman Christian.

MS-13 turning to Jesus by the 1,000s

Revival in Mara Salvatrucha MS gangWhile National Geographic calls MS-13 “America’s deadliest gang” and Trump calls them “animals,” Christian revival has broken out among the youths who tattoo their faces, and hundreds are turning to Jesus.

“Every day in this country, dozens of men are leaving the rank and file of the gang and looking for the right path, the arms of the Lord,” says Pastor William Arias, who is a converted ex-MS. He’s pastored for six years in San Salvador, El Salvador, in a neighborhood so taken over by the gang that public service employees are afraid to enter.

only nine of 71 years in prisonIronically the MS — and fierce rivals 18th St gang — got their start in Los Angeles, according to The Guardian documentary video. During El Salvador’s guerilla war, thousands headed to the U.S. fleeing the carnage in the 1980s. Many settled in the poorest neighborhoods of L.A., where they found themselves caught between African American and Mexican gangs.

To stand up for themselves, they formed the MS — or Mara Salvatrucha — and became fierce rivals. Crackdowns on gangs in L.A. largely tamed warfare between Mexican Americans and African Americans, but the Salvadorans got deported.

wilfredo gomezWhen they returned to their native land, they brought the gang with them.

That’s the story of Wilfredo Gomez, of 18. After being deported to El Salvador, he was arrested for armed robbery in El Salvador.

It was in jail that he found God.

“We are not your typical Christians. We have done a lot of bad things,” Wilfredo says.

When he finished his sentence, he had no family, no friends and nowhere to go.

Pastor William Arias ex MS 13 memberSo he was surprised when the guards told him that “friends” had come to pick him up when he was released. Who could those “friends” be? he wondered.

As he peeked out of the prison, he spied them timidly. They were church members, and they took him in and fed him and gave him a place to live while he transitioned to freedom and could stand on his own two feet.

“We heard what God is doing in there and we’re here to help you. I was like, ‘Whoa, I never had a family. I never had nobody waiting for me when I got out of prison,’ he says. “The way they received me inspired me and gave me strength to continue on the right path.”

Today, Wilfredo is a pastor with the Eben-Ezer church and runs a halfway house for ex-gang members. The youth get a mat on the floor in a common room and three meals a day. They have strict rules against drugs and crime. Wilfredo runs a bread bakery to give them work and pay for the house.

When Wilfredo got saved, he estimated there were 90 or so ex-gang members that had become Christians in the nation. Today, he says there are 1,500. Read the rest about revival in the MS-13 gang and the 18 Street gang.

Success is everything? Hahaha.

her drug was successHer drug was success.

April grew up in the small beach town of St. Augustine, Florida, and it was a good life. She and her sister would always have fun together.

Her parents were stable and although they didn’t grow up in the church they still taught her to follow a good moral path.

Throughout high school, April was driven to succeed. She got straight A’s and wanted to please her parents. There was nothing wrong with that — except that it went overboard. Her expectations became unrealistic and she obsessed on over-achieving.

success obsession“I never tried drugs or anything like that, but success was my drug.” She was constantly focusing on what she needed to do or how she could improve. And she regretted any little thing that she believed she should have done better.

“It’s not bad to seek success in a sense but it can take over,” she says on a video of the Prescott Potter’s House. “It definitely took over my life.”

A high school friend invited her to a church concert and play where she was introduced to the idea that Jesus wanted to enter her heart, a completely foreign concept to her.

When she heard what they were talking about she was confused.

They play was about two soldiers. One of the soldiers was about to die. As he was passing the other soldier explained to him that he needed to accept Jesus in his heart before it was too late.

“I never knew God wanted a relationship or anything to do with our lives.”

While she was sitting through the play she thought to herself, Wow, these people have something that I don’t have.

She observed the people in the church and noted a big difference. They had peace; she had stress. She was timid about accepting Jesus but inwardly, “I knew I wanted that.”

By the end of the night they had an altar call, and as much as she resisted, arguing with herself that she was already a good person, she found herself making the decision.

“Now I know it was God tugging on my heart,” April says. She wound up at the altar receiving Jesus into her heart. Read more Keys to Success.

Marijuana-smoking Shiva devotee could only get free from weed through Jesus

IMG_6354From a very young age, Nepal-born Surya Bhandari had a fervent desire to please the Hindu god Shiva. Because Shiva smoked marijuana, Surya sought to please him by smoking weed himself — starting at age 8.

Then in the sixth grade he learned about the dangers of tuberculosis and cancer from smoking and began to question the wisdom of the god. Also, kids at school started pointing at him as a “bad kid” for his cannabis consumption.

“In my little mind, I started thinking, ‘Why do they call me bad?’” Surya remembers. “‘This great god Shiva smokes marijuana. Why would they call me bad? Is it really bad? If I am bad, then this god Shiva is bad. If he is bad, is he really a god?’”

Surya's as a boy

Surya as a young man

He belonged to the priestly Brahman class, but he turned his back on Hinduism, called himself an “atheist,” started using other drugs and alcohol.

“This Shiva destroyed my life,” he reasoned. “I’m not able to quit smoking marijuana. Someday I’m going to get TB or cancer and I’m going to die, and this god is responsible.

“I became so angry.”

One day he had a dream of being chased by a tall figure clad in a white gown. He thought it was a ghost. It scared him so badly that he didn’t want to go to his usual taekwondo that morning and instead decided to distract himself by reading one of his older brother’s books.

His older brother had either left home or been kicked out — he wasn’t really sure — because he had secretly become a Christian and was attending underground meetings somewhere downtown.

As Surya thumbed through the volumes on the bookcase, he happened to pull out a slim volume, opened it and saw — to his utter surprise — a picture of the same white-clad figure. Suddenly his fear abated, and he continued to read eagerly. “It was God, not a ghost,” he concluded.

Nepalese refugees

Surya with his family today in Los Angeles

From that moment on, he wanted to become a Christian. But attending a church was no easy matter in those days in Nepal. Carrying a Bible was a crime worse than drug trafficking.

But Surya was determined. He begged an old friend of his brother to tell him where he could find the underground church that his brother attended. The young man was backslidden at the time and didn’t want to say anything. But after days of begging, Surya got him to relent and give him some rough directions.

The first chance he got he went eight miles away from his village to Pokhara. He liked the songs and listened intently without understanding much of the sermon. To his surprise after the service, nobody approached him or talked to him to explain things, and he was too shy to ask.

christianity nepal

Revival in Nepal

Maybe people were afraid of the strict anti-proselytizing laws. They could get into a lot of trouble if they were perceived as trying to convert someone. Also, some may have been cautious, because a newcomer might be a spy from the police.

But Surya didn’t understand all of this at the time. It seemed to him that God’s people were indifferent. The next time Surya went to church it was the same. Nobody talked to him. So he quit going.

Then he did something that brought great shame on his family. He flunked out of school. His parents scolded him constantly and his brothers beat him.

So he took to the streets. He would leave before anybody woke up. He would come home, entering through the window, after everybody was in bed. HIs grandmother always saved him some food.

He tried but found that he couldn’t quit drugs. Everybody in town called him a bad kid. Even the principal of the school saw fit to take him aside and rebuke him for bringing shame on his family.

All this was too much for Suryam and he began to contemplate suicide.

“I loved my father so much. I did not want to bring shame on my father,” he says, reasoning to himself at the time: “If I can’t bring a good name for him, I have no right to live.”

He decided to throw himself off a cliff and into a river near his town. Read the rest of Chrisitanity in Nepal

He just wanted girls, but God had other plans

royce lovettRoyce Lovett went to the Christian youth conference only to “score a girl’s number.”

But the sudden appearance of a stye on his eyelid put a damper on impressing girls. So he prayed.

“I remember saying God, I know I’ve heard stories of you doing things for tons of people, but I need you to do something for me. If you can remove this thing from my face, I’ll know you’re real,” the Tallahassee native said.

“So I prayed but I kinda forgot about it after I did. A couple minutes later a friend and I went to the bathroom, and the stye was gone. I was like, yo, God did something for me. It meant so much.

Royce, now 29, rededicated his life to God at that Acquire the Fire conference. He had grown up going to church. His mother and father were ministers. But he didn’t really get to know God until that conference.

what label royce lovettSuddenly God was real — and immediately Royce understood that he had a purpose: music.

For 11 years, he recorded five indie projects and performed concerts all over the globe while his family made ends meet with government aid. Finally, in 2014, Royce signed with the legendary label Motown Gospel.

It’s no mistake. Much of his music has the feel that it belongs to a different era, that of the heyday of Detroit with the start of so many African American music stars. But some of his music has rock influences (“Runnin”). His sweet ballad “Fly” is totally out of the loop.

royce lovett family

With his wife and kids today

 

Royce started in hip hop, but Christian rap pioneer Soup the Chemist encouraged him to give up predictability and blaze his own trail with his prodigious talent on the acoustic guitar. Royce also plays the bass, the drums and the keyboard.

While he was playing music at a park, a random guy came up and starting jamming with him. The guy told him his music was like “cerebral soul,” because it had the feeling of soul but made you think. The genre tag stuck.

If his genre places him logically with Motown, his message places him directly in the human heart. He’s never one to downplay his faith or love for Christ. And he’s willing to be brutally honest about the struggles of temptation. Read the rest about Royce Lovett.

How could 5 years of extreme fatigue be good?

laurel-galucci-sweet laurel bakeryWhen she suffered extreme fatigue for five years, it was a curse that elicited a forlorn “Why, God?” But when God turned her hormone deficiency into a profitable bakery of gluten-free cakes, it was a case for Romans 8:28: All things work together for good to them that love God.

Laurel Galucci had just married her dream man and was working her dream job of teaching. Then a mysterious fatigue crept upon her, progressively sapping her strength until she had to quit her job. Her dream life became a nightmare and at first there were no answers.

laurel-gallucci-gluten freeAt long last in 2012, her doctor found the problem: She had Hashimoto’s disease, which attacked her thyroid, resulting in reduced hormone production and subsequent exhaustion. She couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs.

If that weren’t bad enough, she suffered from acute constipation. Already very slender, she lost another 40 pounds. She couldn’t get pregnant and went without a period for four years.

miracle baby

Husband and miracle baby

The standard treatment in the medical field of synthetic hormones didn’t restore her energy. “I had severe energy depletion” and was living in misery, she says.

Two years later, a friend suggested a change of diet. She cut grains, legumes, refined sugar and diary.

“After years of feeling exhausted and sick,” Laurel told Women’s Health, “I was willing to try just about anything to get my energy back and feel better about myself.”

More vegetables and protein was fine but giving up baking was out of the question. Laurel was the second of seven children and grew up baking constantly for her brothers and sisters. The ban on grains was a sticking point.

She had to find a substitute. Gluten-free baked goods on the market at the time tasted like cardboard. So she experimented and whipped up a surprisingly good chocolate cake using almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, Himalayan pink salt and organic eggs.

Upon sampling the delicacy, her close friend (and now business partner) Claire Thomas remarked: “Gluten-free cakes aren’t supposed to taste this good. We have to do something with this. We need to share this with other people.”

Claire was already an entity in the foodie world. She had hosted a show on ABC called “Food for Thought” and in 2011 she was tapped by McDonald’s to direct the filming of a commercial. Claire suggested a partnership with Laurel.

In 2015, they founded the first grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free baked goods called Sweet Laurel and it shipped cakes nationally. Their products were offered in select grocery stores (mostly in L.A. and New York City), and she listed recipes on her blog and in cookbooks. They called that first cake “the chocolate cake that changed everything.”

In September of this year, they are opening their first storefront bakery in Pacific Palisades, a well-heeled neighborhood in Los Angeles. Laurel is not talking specific dollar amounts but says, “We’ve been very successful this year. We are hoping to grow out of Southern California. We’re getting up there. We’re expecting it to be worth lots of money.” Read the rest of Sweet Laurel Gluten-Free Baked Goods.