Tag Archives: Jesus

Phil Wyman wages love on witches at Salem

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Phil Wyman loves witches.

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

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

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

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

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

Unaccustomed to love from Christians, the witches appreciate Wyman.

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

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

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

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Why do so many Muslims hate America?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burning Man evangelism of a different kind

160907084704-burning-man-art-cars-5-super-43It’s not the tie-donning, Bible-toting crowd that heads to the Nevada Desert to evangelize at Burning Man, the art hipster festival that draws more than 50,000 for a blistering week on the dry alkaline lakebed.

No, it even draws Christian iconoclasts who flout church conformity. Styled on the born-again hippies of the Jesus Movement, these guys see beyond the largest pagan cult gathering in America. They see misguided souls thirsting for truth.

jesus-crossBurning Man, for the uninitiated, is religion for the religion-less. From Aug. 27 to Sept 4, “Burners” camp in Black Desert and revel in alcohol, drugs, biking, electronic dance music and unbridled hedonism. The bacchanal culminates when a gigantic wooden centerpiece – or temple – is burned in effigy on Saturday night.

The celebration has elements of religion: ritual, a code of conduct and a sense of community. But there is no clear focus on a deity.

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Phil Wyman, aka Gandalf/Indiana Jones

This is where Phil Wyman comes in. A Christian pastor who reaches out with love and acceptance to the witches at the Halloween fest in his native Salem, Massachusetts, Wyman is long-haired preacher who’s been described as a cross between Gandalf and Indiana Jones.

Wyman, like other Burners, erects an interactive art display with a message that seeks to activate a quest for true spirituality. In 2011, his Pillars of the Saints honored Simeon Stylite, the ascetic pole-sitter who sought to connect with the Spirit through a radical disconnect with this world.

746984168Wyman’s messages are suggestive, not authoritative, which is why they resonate with the lost souls at Burning Man but they also raise eyebrows among straight-laced Christians who want a more orthodox message. Wyman employs the Socratic method and gets people thinking by asking questions.

“I wondered why Christianity had not typically embedded itself into these festivals, why we weren’t among the leaders of new cultural developments and wildly creative thought,” Wyman wrote in Christianity Today. “Certainly God is wildly creative—enough to find his way into human hearts in other cultures around the world.”

burning-manOne church from Ohio became famous for passing out waters, which is pretty handy in the scorching heat and dust of the desert. It was a way of showing the love of Christ in a practical way.

There have been Christians who dress like Jesus and carry the cross.

Burning Man is a ripe harvest field for out-of-the-box evangelism. Read the rest: Christians at Burning Man.

Wut? Floyd Mayweather a Christian?

floyd mayweather v pacquiaoFloyd Mayweather is better known for dogged defense, precision punches, trash talking and unconscionable greed. He’s less known for his relationship with Jesus Christ.

But in fact, the provocative pugilist – who will face Conor McGregor in the boxing ring Aug. 26th – is born-again. It’s not something he hides – or pedals.

“God is first in my life,” he declared unequivocally.

640_2015_05_03_13_19_50Mayweather was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with seven siblings sardined into one room. Both his mother and father struggled with drugs. His dad was a dealer and spent time in jail. There were heroine needles in his front yard and an aunt died of AIDS, infected by a dirty needle.

Dad was also a boxer and took Junior to the gym all the time. He didn’t take him anywhere else – not ice cream, the park or movies. Mayweather felt pretty much on his own, though his dad disputes this claim.

170714-teeman-mcgregor-mayweather-tease_onqkfb“I basically raised myself,” he said, according to Wikipedia. “My grandmother did what she could. When she got mad at me, I’d go to my mom’s house. My life was ups and downs.”

Boxing became Mayweather’s safe haven, a place where he could forget the sadness of his life and release his frustrations with aggression. He developed uncommon speed and a sixth sense of ring awareness that accelerated his rise in the boxing ranks.

He dropped out of high school and won 84 out of 88 amateur matches. Since going pro following a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics, he hasn’t lost a fight and has surpassed the likes of Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson as a five-division world champion.

mayweather-1His nickname as an amateur was “pretty boy.” He was so good defensively that opponents had trouble landing punches, leaving him scar less. But Mayweather dropped this moniker in favor of “money.” He posts videos of himself counting rolls of money and boasts unabashedly about his money.

“I got a 14-passenger jet. Got to give them another reason to hate, but I will motivate the people that are ambitious and want to be winners in life,” he wrote. “I’m materialistic, and I’m motivated by money. But God is first in my life.”

God was in his heart, but he reveled in the roll of the villain. He taunted opponents and glowered at them. He was convicted of beating his girlfriend. He strutted around with the pride of a peacock.

“Floyd Mayweather represents everything that’s wrong with sport and celebrity,” The Telegraph trumpeted in an article that lambasted him for 16 paragraphs, landing jab after jab. He “worshiped money and himself.” He’s misogynistic. He’s a boring fighter, spending more time avoiding than landing blows. His nickname “Money” sucks, and Australia wisely denied him a visa to visit the country, the article claimed.

His fight against Manny Pacquiao was “evil versus good.” Pacman (a much cooler nickname, the article asserted) was mom-loving and God-fearing, a rags-to-riches kid… Read the rest of the article Floyd Mayweather Christian.

She dedicated her life to help women after suffering Post Abortion Syndrome herself

post-abortion-syndrome-westside-los-angelesYears after having three abortions, Maria Field suddenly found herself numb, her emotions in disarray at a time she should have been joyful – her recent engagement to be married.

“I didn’t think my past affected me emotionally,” she said. “It took God to show me that this was the wall in my life that I needed to deal with. I needed to work through the loss and find forgiveness and healing.”

Because of her experience, Maria started a licensed family counseling practice specializing in Post Abortion Syndrome, something unrecognized by the medical community that bears striking parallels to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

teen-cryingSince opening her office in 1995 in West Los Angeles, she’s seen hundreds of patients. Some of them are coming to terms with their decision to abort 40 or even 50 years earlier. Others come to see her immediately after an abortion. Even men can suffer Post Abortion Syndrome because they are participants in initiating life and its deliberate termination.

“These people experience anxiety, depression, low self esteem, flashbacks and even suicidal thoughts,” Field said. “They have triggers. Sometimes it’s a sound that reminds them of the procedure. Sometimes it’s a song that reminds them of their partner.”

The syndrome has not been recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition), or DSM-5, but not because it’s a bogus condition concocted by pro-lifers, as the secular media suggest.

Rather, the disorder simply lacks clinical studies in the same way PTSD lacked clinical studies and was not officially recognized immediately following the Vietnam War, Field said. It is hard to find subjects willing to offer themselves as subjects of study, which may re-open painful wounds.

the childless wifeTypically, women who abort adopt some coping or defense mechanism to suppress the grieving over the loss of a child, Field said. In her own case, her successful busy life, studies and professional career provided her a sufficient cover.

She was in denial about what happened. But she stopped going to church with her mom because church made her cry, and she didn’t want her mom, who didn’t know about the abortions, to ask why she was crying, she said.

The coping mechanism worked for 15 years. Then she planned to get married and suddenly a host of long-suppressed emotions surfaced like a boiling cauldron in her heart. At first, she couldn’t figure out what was wrong. But she had studied for her master’s in psychology at Pepperdine University, so she was in tune enough to start connecting the dots.

Eventually, she realized she needed therapy and drove once a week to Newport, the only place she could find a therapist who would deal with the issue.

“I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is a big issue!’” she said.

Even among Christians, who supposedly oppose abortion because of the belief it is murder, abortion is prevalent. Young girls feel the shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and think it will be too much burden for them or their family – so they choose the easy way out. Read the rest of the article: post abortion syndrome.

Christian band Bread of Stone nearly broke up, but a trip to Indonesia changed their hearts

Bread of StoneA funny thing with the indie band Bread of Stone: When brothers Ben and Bill Kristijanto felt called to start a music ministry, neither of them could play a single lick of music.

Today, they have opened for the likes of the Newsboys, Petra, Crowder, Sanctus Real and Building 429, among others. After recording two albums, they released their third, The Real Life, with DREAM Records in 2013.

“We were stones before being called into music ministry (useless and incapable) and only because of Jesus are we made into bread to feed the hungry in this world and share his love with others,” Ben told Cross Rhythms.

bread of stone brothers indonesiaAnother fun fact about the Sioux City band is that they live double lives: one in America and another in Indonesia, where they were born and where they support ministry to the poorest of the poor, chiefly Muslims who scavenge through trash to subsist. They are constantly flying to Indonesia and supporting projects to raise money for society’s outcasts and standing up for the persecuted church.

“We are not out doing this to make a name for ourselves,” said Bill. “We have never set out to make a statement of ourselves as artist. We are able to do so only through God’s grace.”

‘Service before self-ambition,’ their website proclaims.

Ben is the lead vocalist while Bill plays guitar. The are joined by Tim Barnes on bass and Jason Ferris on drums. All four band members grew up in Christian homes.

bread of stone handcraft itemsThe “calling” to start Bread of Stone in 2004 didn’t come to the brothers but their dad, Nehemia Kristijanto. Born in 1951, he is the eldest son of his family living in Jatibarang, a small town in West Java Province, Indonesia, according to New Covenant People on Blogspot.

In 1970 he studied engineering in West Germany and returned to Indonesia in 1979 with his degree. But he felt led to stay with his parents and not seek employment as an engineer. Instead, he started a powerful ministry. He moved back and forth between America and Indonesia until 1992, at which time he settled definitively in America. Today he supports his sons’ music ministry.

“We didn’t come from a musical family and had never played any instruments, but once we heard the call from the Lord, we started taking music lessons,” Bill said.

In 2015, Bread of Stones gained attention with their hit single “Porcelain.”

As the group began to gain significant recognition in 2011, they went through a crisis, teetering on the brink of dissolution. The once inseparable brothers began arguing about everything, Bill admitted on a YouTube video. Read the rest and find out how Bread of Stone saved their band.

Infertile? Ha! You don’t know my God

identical-twinsEverybody thought I was dead.

When a truck plowed into my car that fateful night, it pushed my crushed car all the way into the gas station. It finally came to rest just shy of hitting the gas pump.

By the grace of God, I survived. But, according to the doctor, I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. The steering shaft had been driven into my abdomen and pierced my ovaries. The doctor explained that I should be grateful just to be alive. (This story is written by a mother at our Christian school in Santa Monica.)

a-match-made-in-heavenFor some reason, I had it stuck in my mind to have three children through two pregnancies. Of course that I meant twins.

As the doctor was explaining the cold hard facts with kind words, I didn’t pay too much attention. My faith was placed in Jesus, not on medical science.

barren-to-blessed“Don’t worry about that, doctor,” I told him. “I will have two pregnancies and three babies because I asked Jesus for them, and I know that he will give me my children.”

I was released from the hospital a week after the accident. At the time, I lived in Florida. An immigrant from Guatemala, I came to America already a Christian. I got involved in a church where they taught you to pray with faith. And I never stopped praying.

At age 30, I married a godly man named Mauro Ivan Arango in December 1993. In September the next year, Jafet, my firstborn, made his entrance into the world. He was truly a miracle baby. My doctor couldn’t believe it. Read the rest of the incredible infertility story.

Christianity exploding in Iran despite efforts of government to stamp it out

Christians-mark-2014-at-Sarkis-Church-in-Tehran-4-HRChaffing under repressive Islam, young Iranians are secretly turning to Christ in record numbers, and Iranian-born Shahrokh Afshar wanted to be part of the revival. So he filmed 13 programs for young people and offered them to SAT7, which broadcasts Christian programming into Iran via satellite.

“Iran is 25% 14 years or younger. Iran has the largest number of drug addicts per capita in the world. Alcoholism, prostitution. The economy sucks; it’s like 15% unemployment,” Afshar said. “Life is very very hard for the average young Iranian. There wasn’t much being done as far as programs are concerned to reach out to these kids.”

christians-in-underground-church-in-iranIran has the fastest-growing evangelical population in the world (estimated at 19.6% by Operation World in 2015), despite an atrocious human rights record against people who abandon Islam, according to Christian Today. In fact, the explosive growth has overloaded the religious police.

A network of underground home churches thrives, and at least six satellite stations broadcast Christian programs continually into Iran. Afshar personally knows of 400 house churches with 5000 members. The number of Muslim converts to Christianity was “a handful” before 1971. Now, it is perhaps 1 million.

Afshar’s program, “Clear Like Glass,” cost him $3,000 per episode. Each program includes a funny skit and a frank interview and discussion of taboos in Islam. What people usually hide, Afshar brings to light. He conducted research about his target audience and found they didn’t want just preaching.

Christians in Iran“Clear Like Glass” is being shown over and over again, at least twice a day, Shah said. He is preparing to film another 13 programs.

After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Afshar joined three Egyptian pastors and one American to drive from Turkey to Baghdad and find pastors whom they could help. The fact-finding mission was fruitful. He connected with pastors from Iran and even gave them training in Turkey.

“My contacts tell me that they walk into a party and tell people they are Christian, and boom, they have an instant audience. People want to hear more about Christ. It’s very very easy for them to share,” Afshar said. “Of course, it’s dangerous. They can end up in prison very easily. But people are read the rest of Revival in Iran.

Conduct science in Grand Canyon? Not if you’re a creationist, Park Service says but gets forced to reverse itself.

Grand Canyon controversyDr. Andrew Snelling, a geologist with a PhD from Sydney University, wanted to extract and examine some 60 fist-sized rocks from the Grand Canyon to research the possibility they were formed through a world-wide flood, not through millions of years of sediment layering, as evolutionists say.

His 2013 formal request to conduct scientific research was summarily denied by the Park Service last year. Dr. Peter Huntoon of the University of Wyoming said Snelling’s proposal was “inappropriate,” describing it as “dead end creationist material,” the Christian News Network reported.

grand canyon evolution or creationWhat are the Park Service administrators afraid he might discover? The arbitrary obstruction of a scientist because of his worldview seemed discriminatory.

Snelling sued in May and won a reversal this month, thanks in part to President Trump’s executive order expanding religious freedom.

“It’s one thing to debate the science, but to deny access to the data not based on the quality of a proposal or the nature of the inquiry, but on what you might do with it is an abuse of government power,” said Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative Christian legal defense group that represented Dr. Snelling, according to the New York Times.

grand canyon christian scientist tours

Snelling is an Australian who received his geology doctorate in 1982 from Sydney University in his native city. Initially, he worked with Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia’s Northern Territory and contracted for mining industries that allowed him time to travel and study different geological strata.

In 1998, Snelling joined the Creation Science Foundation. Since 2007, he has worked for Kentucky-based Answers in Genesis, a group of scientists who adhere to the literal biblical account of creation instead of the evolutionary model, according to Science, the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Snelling is the current director of research for Answers in Genesis.

Snelling has led people on more than 30 river trips in the Grand Canyon and was known to park personnel for undermining their narrative of the geological formation of the park. For years, geologists stated the Grand Canyon was 20 million years old, only to recently revise its age to 5 million. Snelling and other young earth scientists believe Earth’s age to be around 20,000 years, and the Grand Canyon, around 10,000 years.

Dr Gilles Brocard, a fellow Sydney University geologist argues that nuclear analysis dates some rocks from the Grand Canyon to 2 billion years old. He said the Earth is shown by studies to date at 4.5 billion, according to the Guardian.

Snelling is sticking to his guns. Read more about discrimination against Christians in science.

Outside Planned Parenthood, dissuading desperate mothers from abortion

where-get-an-abortion

Cindy Stone had an abortion, so she figures she’s the ideal candidate to dissuade anxious mothers from a decision that wreaked havoc in her own heart.

“I’ve gone through the pain of regret,” Stone said. “God put it in my heart that this is what I need to do to help other women and men with my story. I don’t want someone to suffer that kind of spiritual, mental and emotional pain.”

Every Wednesday, Stone, a Protestant, teams up with two Catholic women outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Van Nuys, California. They hold up signs, pray and offer advice to any woman who is willing to hear about the grim realities of abortion – and the positive alternatives that exist.

abortion san fernando valleyCall them Sisters of Compassion. The War on Abortion is now 44 years old, and there doesn’t appear to be any softening of the rhetoric on either side of the debate.

Stone and her friends talk with sensitivity, even though they speak a stark truth about what abortion providers understate as “a clump of cells.”

On the one hand, the grisly nature of abortion needs to be explained clearly. But on the other hand, these women are not shaming pregnant mothers already immersed in despair.

“I understand where they’re coming from and what might be motivating them,” said Stone, 66, of Santa Monica. “It’s not that we are trying to condemn them in anyway but let them know that there are people who are willing to help them. We’re helping them see that a pregnancy is a life. People come and say, ‘Don’t shame us. Shame on you for shaming us.’ That’s tough when somebody talks to you like that. We don’t want to come across like that. But we must share the truth in love.”

Maria Barrientos, 50, a Filipino American who runs a Philippines-based engineering firm, shows what they’re talking about when they offer help. She personally cared for a baby for six weeks in 2010 just so that the mother wouldn’t abort. Read the rest of Where abortion in San Fernando Valley.

Soft tissue found in dinosaur bones undercuts evolutionary timetable

soft-tissue-dinosaurWhen Mary Schweitzer found soft tissue in dinosaur bone in 2005, her boss got mad.

“Dammit, Mary, the creationists are going to love you,” Jack Horner snapped, according to what she wrote for Biologos.

Indeed, Schweitzer discovery threatened to upset the evolutionary biologists’ timeline for the world because soft tissue decays relatively quickly. If she found soft tissue in bones from a Tyrannosaurus rex perhaps it wasn’t 58 million years old, as the geologists argued. Maybe it was just a few thousand years old – trapped by sediment in a catastrophic worldwide flood and fossilized.

jack horner mary schweitzer

Mary Schweitzer with Jack Horner at a dig site

Smithsonian called her discovery a “shocker;” LiveScience, “contorversial;” and Discovery magazine, “dangerous.” News show 60 Minutes said it “posed a radical challenge to the existing rules of science.”

Young earth creationists, who argue that earth’s history reaches about 10,000 years, cackled with satisfaction.

“I invite the reader to step back and contemplate the obvious,” wrote Carl Wieland on the Answers in Genesis website. “This discovery gives immensely powerful support to the proposition that dinosaur fossils are not millions of years old at all, but were mostly fossilized under catastrophic conditions a few thousand years ago at most.”

soft-tissue-header

What are blood cells doing in dino bones?

For its part, Creation praised Schweitzer’s research as “powerful testimony against the whole idea of dinosaurs living millions of years ago. It speaks volumes for the Bible’s account of a recent creation.

Since her initial discovery, Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at North Carolina State University, has found red blood cells, blood vessels, bone cells and even hemoglobin and collagen. A supposedly 80-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur bone has also yielded soft tissue.

CRS-iDino-digging-5The Christian Science Monitor reported this January that scientists found collagen, a protein basic to animal tissue, in an allegedly 195-million-year-old fossil of a Lufengosaurus dinosaur in China.

Proteins are complex molecules which break down quickly and can’t survive for a millennia.
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But Schweitzer, a conservative evangelical Christian who adheres to evolutionary theory, floated the theory in 2013 that iron may have preserved the soft tissue much like formaldehyde. If shown to be true, her theory would take wind out of the sails of the young earth Christians.

Schweitzer got her start in paleontology after studying molecular biology. She audited a course with famed paleontologist Jack Horner, the scientist who is trying to create dinosaurs in modern times from chicken DNA. Horner consulted for the movie Jurassic Park.

Schweitzer was thrilled with the course, worked her way through her doctoral degree and began lab work under Horner.

Through three summers of digging , Horner unearthed a T. Rex skeleton from an escarpment in northeastern Montana known as Hell’s Creek. Because of the remoteness and rugged terrain, the bones had to be helicoptered out but were too heavy, so the team reluctantly broke one of the leg bones into two pieces.

Horner handed some of the resulting fragments to Schweitzer to analyze. The first thing she realized was the dinosaur had been a pregnant mother because of the presence of medullary bone, which is a calcium overproduction to supply the eggs. (Originally, the fossil had been nicknamed “Bob.”)

But the real astonishment came when Schweitzer’s team dissolved some fragments in weak acid, a practice that was never done before because it dissolves bone matter. The lab assistant had only tried to eliminate the outer crust on the bone but wound up disintegrating all the hardened minerals.

When Schweitzer looked at the only remaining chunk under the microscope, she couldn’t believe its elasticity. It took her quite some time to realize that it was soft tissue, which had never before been seen by a scientist. Read the rest of the story about soft tissue dinosaur bones.

Niña del Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta gana en gimnasia artística

gimnasia-artistica-colegio-guatemalaNote: I was a missionary in Guatemala for almost 16 years, during which time we launched a church and a K-11 school. This is a story about the continued goings-on there. Enjoy the Spanish!

Pudo perseguir su sueño de practicar la gimnasia en la federación nacional. Ahora solo gana.

Desde niña, Katherine Hub tenía el sueño de practicar la gimnasia artística, porque miraba muchas películas que se trataban de dicho deporte. Pero por la falta de tiempo, la mamá no podía llevarla a la federación.

gimnasia-artistica-guatemalaUn día, una amiga de la mama de Katherine Hub se le acercó y le informó que en la federación estaban dando becas para varios deportes. Cuando ella escuchó esa noticia, vio la oportunidad para que su hija practicara el deporte, ya que desde niña lo había soñado. Apareció una luz de esperanza .

Vieron la oportunidad y la aprovecharon. No fue hasta el año 2015, donde la mamá de Katherine la inscribió en la federación para que su hija cumpliera su sueño de ser una gimnasta artística y algún día representar Guatemala. Al oír Katherine la noticia, se alegró mucho e inició a practicar ese deporte de lunes a viernes de 5:00 a 7:00 p.m. Los ejercicios a un inicio eran muy difíciles y cada etapa se venía poniendo más intensa. Entre mayor es la etapa, así son los ejercicios.

De los tres años que Katherine practica el deporte de gimnasia ha participado en cuatro competencias. En la primera competencia, ganó el primer lugar. En la segunda se llevó el segundo puesto, y en la tercera competencia ganó el primer lugar.

Almost aborted, Bianka is a sterling youth. What would the(ir) world be without her?

almost-abortedBoth moms were convinced that pregnant 15-year-old Diana wasn’t old enough to be a mom. They thought she would be dumping off her baby for either mom to raise, and neither wanted the duties. The solution was obvious and logical.

The young teen received an ultimatum: get an abortion or move out.

Pressured and confused, not knowing any options, Eric and Diana – naturally – scheduled the appointment to terminate their unplanned pregnancy. No one would ever know – and not because they lived in Las Vegas, but because that’s the way abortion laws work.

But a funny thing happened. The nurse called Diana’s name once, then twice over the public address system. It was time to hand over the money and terminate the pregnancy.

But Eric Pagan looked at his girlfriend, and she looked at him.

“Let’s just get out of here,” he said.

church-in-the-park---san-fernando-valleyThey stood up together and skipped out.

Just this June, Bianka – a strikingly beautiful teen with pink rose petal cheeks – graduated from high school in the San Fernando Valley. She’s planning to earn a teaching credential. She cares for her four younger siblings. And she broke the cycle of teenage pregnancy. She’ll wait until marriage. Now, for the parents, it’s inconceivable that she almost didn’t come into existence.

“Not once in my life did I ever regret NOT having the abortion,” Diana said. “No matter how hard things got, how hostile the relationship between my husband and I became, we’ve never ever regret, NOT having the abortion.”

How Eric and Diana met and fell in love is not the plot line of a fairy tale. He was running from police heat in his neighborhood. A gang leader, Eric saw patrol cars prowling his neighborhood, and he figured the cops were looking for him.

abortion-on-demand-withou-apologyWhen some acquaintances cruised past, he jumped in front of their car and asked for a ride. His buddy was with him and remembered a certain señorita in another neighborhood at whose house he figured they could hang out.

That’s where Eric saw the dark brown eyes of Diana. He had time to kill, so he tried to strike up a conversation with her. It was no easy matter because she spoke Spanish exclusively.

Of mostly Hawaian descent, Eric didn’t know much Spanish. What he knew was the rough lingo of the streets where words were used to steal cars and fight rivals.

So what sparked the romance? Cupid’s arrow smote not “in spite of” but “because of” the communication barrier. She could only understand the most rudimentary English, and he had to be careful not to use street Spanish laced with expletives.

abortion-and-over-populationIt was a challenge to get to know each other, and the challenge made it an adventure. The difficulty of conquering Diana was part of the attraction.

It was a challenge also because she was dating someone else – a fact she tried to communicate to Eric to throw water on his evident interest. He either didn’t understand or didn’t care.

Eric kept visiting the dark-haired beauty secretly. Sometimes, he would tap on her window after midnight, and they would talk – or TRY to talk.

Their romance had all the precursors of an unwanted pregnancy. He was 17, a mere two years older.

“Our parents told us to get an abortion, but I had a feeling come upon me not to do it,” Eric said.

Uncertainty prevailed in Diana’s heart. “I felt cornered. I had only known my husband for six months. My mom felt she was going to end up raising my baby, so she said, ‘Either get an abortion or move out.’ To me, I kind of didn’t even know this guy, so I only saw the option of going through with the abortion.” Find out how Diana heard a lucid baby’s cry the night before she was considering abortion.

Converted rapper Ja Rule, tripped up at Fyre Festival, seems to have gone prodigal

ja-ruleWhat has happened to Ja Rule?

The early 2000s hip-hop sensation famously became saved after a stint in prison for tax evasion and illegal possession of a firearm. Specifically, he accepted Christ at New York’s Hillsong church after filming the Christian movie, I’m in Love with a Christian Girl.

But now Ja Rule has become embroiled in the Fyre Festival fiasco. After promoting a bacchanal hedondom to well-heeled millennials, he’s being sued for failing to deliver the lavish hotel, food, rock stars and hotties. Partiers found themselves stranded in refugee camp tents with cheese sandwiches on the Bahamas Island. The stunning models were noticeably absent.

Has the New York rapper become a prodigal?

Famous for “Always on Time” and “Mesmerize,” Ja Rule — born Jeffrey Atkins – had songs ranked in the Top 20 from 1999 to 2005. He received Grammy nominations, notoriety and tons of money, but police busted him for tax evasion. Released from prison in 2013, he picked up a role in the movie I’m In Love with a Church Girl. As he promoted the movie in churches, God began to draw his heart.

Luxury accommodations at Fyre Festival?

His prior involvement in Jehovah’s Witnesses marred his understanding of God. His mother left the group in his pre-teens, and the rest of the family completely ostracized her.

“The family wasn’t speaking to my mother, and I saw how much it hurt her, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the religion,” he said.

But his aversion towards God changed due to his involvement in the movie.

“I kind of reconnected with God by doing the movie,” Ja Rule told a radio station. “I reconnected with God in a different way. I was going to all these different churches, and they were great, but I didn’t feel like they were talking to me until I went to Hillsong right here in the city.”

Hillsong projected a non-traditional image that he found appealing.

“You walk into this church and it’s dark in there and the disco ball is still in there and you see the lights and you’re like, well this is different, and then you get in there and you start to look at everybody around you, and they look just like you,” he said. “It really gave me the feeling that when they say come as you are, they mean the skater kids in the back with the skateboards, like they just came off the street coming to church. It was a different type of crowd.”

In response to one of the sermons, he and his wife, Aisha, were both saved.

His first steps in the Lord were tentative, but he didn’t shy away from discussing them.

“I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. I don’t want people to misconstrue what I’m doing here,” Ja Rule said. “I’m taking baby steps, and I want to get closer to God. I feel it’s something you should do in life.”

But then he was quiet about his faith for a number of years.

Earlier this year, Ja Rule joined brash entrepreneur Billy McFarland in hyping an elitist rock competition on beautiful beaches that was supposed to rival or surpass Coachella.

Ja Rule promised purchasers of $1,200 event ticket they would be “living like movie stars, partying like rock stars, and f—–g like porn stars.”

Hmmm. That doesn’t sound very Christian. Read the rest of Ja Rule Christian.

A missionary with Muscular Dystrophy

IMG_4500As the #2 executive at the biggest waste hauler west of the Mississippi, Chris Banducci was the envy of his friends. He lounged in a nice house, drove a hot sports car and wallowed in money. “Work hard,” his neighbors told their kids, “and you’ll be a success like him.”

Then, at 29 years old, Chris was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and his world fell apart.

“I was angry. I was lonely. I was miserable and full of self-hatred. I just wanted to die. My drinking got worse; I drank myself to sleep every night,” Chris recalled. “I couldn’t imagine that any woman could love this ‘cripple.’”

taiwan-missionary-in-wheelchairToday, Chris Banducci, 61, is a Christian missionary in Taiwan. With God’s help, he overcame many obstacles and took on increasing challenges as his body began to fail him.

Looking back at his early years, it would be hard to imagine Chris answering a call to the mission field. After he graduated from high school, he drove a trash truck.

“This was the best job I ever had,” he said. “I learned how to operate every bit of equipment at that place, to prepare for a supervisory role. Then I began to learn from my leaders how to manage people and make good business decisions.”

He felt some early physical symptoms of his disease, but shrugged it off.

As a supervisor, he was hated and feared.

cfm-pics-chris-banducci“I mistreated people,” he said. “I stepped on people, lied, cheated and eliminated competition. I was not an easy person to be around. My reputation with women was such that they avoided me.”

Through raw ambition, Chris worked his way up to the director of recycling and resource recovery, second only to the owner and CEO. He reached the pinnacle of success.

“My neighbors would tell their teenage and college-age sons, ‘Look at him. If you work hard and apply yourself, you can be like that!’”

It was heady stuff. But while he relished the admiration, Chris knew on the inside he was a mess. His family lived up north, so he was lonely. He was good at intimidating people but not at making friends. He was drinking heavily.

Then he walked into the doctor’s office one day and received the jolting news. Read the rest of Muscular Dystrophy Missionary.

Geeking on a wave at a Santa Monica private school

surfing-elective-santa-monica-high-schoolBy Kayla Armstrong, LCA sophomore –

Can you imagine getting up at 6:00 am in the cold dark morning?! Especially if you have trouble waking up and feeling like a mummy walking around and putting on swimwear to get in the cold ocean! Well, at the Lighthouse Christian Academy, Pastor Josh Scribner teaches a surfing elective us Christian high school students! It’s nice to have a school right next to the beach of Santa Monica.

His surfing class is a very fun experience for me.

You won’t like the fact of getting up in the morning, but when you get to the beach and just looking at the gigantic waves you get very geeked and excited and it’s lots of fun.

surfing-class-lighthouse-christian-academy

Some heart-beating moments is when you are getting ready to catch the wave and sometimes the wave is so big that when your laying down riding on the wave you can see the sand that is at the bottom of the water and it’s a heart beating moment cause you are so high up that it feels like you are going to fall right into the sand and it the floor but you don’t because as soon as you stand up your weight pushes the surfboard down a little bit to where you are able to ride it and you feel accomplished.

Some funny moments is when looking at one of your classmates, and they don’t see a big wave coming and they get wiped out (the wave knocks them down) and it is very funny because you can’t do anything about it but watch the wave wipe them out. Some people don’t like getting wiped out because sometimes if the wave is really big or another one comes after it you constantly are underwater but as long as you are not scared and know you are going to come back up then you are fine! Because you are able to stand back up.

Surfing class is not for everyone Read the rest of surfing elective at a Santa Monica private school.

Trump’s track record on abortion

focusing abortion debateBefore Inauguration Day, liberal magazine Mother Jones moaned that Trump would be a “nightmare for abortion rights.”

Today, pro-life leader Cheryl Sullenger is hopeful about the pro-life movement under the Trump administration.

“He’s been their worst nightmare,” said Sullenger, senior vice president of Operation Rescue. “They’re desperate to keep their funding. These people are a business. I don’t care if they call themselves a non-profit. They’re making money doing abortions, and fewer and fewer women are going in for abortions. Basically, federal funding is propping up a failed abortion industry.”

Trump anti abortionAccording to Sullenger, Trump has done more to save babies than all previous Republican presidents since Roe v. Wade.

“All the other Republican presidents just gave lip service to the pro-life movement. It’s been really frustrating,” said Sullenger. “Even Reagan did nothing substantial to move the ball down the field.”

“Trump’s been great,” she said. “The only reason he hasn’t done better is that he’s met with resistance in Congress. It’s not for a lack of trying. There’s been no other president who has done more” to protect babies from the death industry.

prematurebaby16

So why hasn’t Planned Parenthood been defunded yet?

Ironically, it’s a handful of conservative and moderate Republican senators who stymied the repeal of Obamacare, which enshrines abortion funding, Sullenger said. Read the rest: Trump’s track record on abortion.

Gonzalez’ tenure denial shows universities close ranks to exclude Christians regardless of their credentials

250px-Guillermo_GonzalezGuillermo Gonzalez’s rise in astrophysics was meteoric, but when he openly espoused Intelligent Design, a scientific theory that allows for God’s involvement in creation, his university dumped him.

Gonzalez had written 68 scholarly articles for peer-reviewed scientific journals, including important work on the Galactic Habitable Zone concept. The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that he had at the assistant professor level “amassed a better publication record than almost any other member of the astronomy faculty,” according to Jeff Schloss on Counterbalance.

Nevertheless, when Gonzalez came up for tenure approval in 2007 at Iowa State University, he was denied.

Just prior to his tenure review, a petition disavowing Intelligent Design had garnered signatures from 130 Iowa State faculty members who feared “the negative impact of Intelligent Design on the integrity of science and on our university.”

gonzalez-denied-tenure-for-view-of-intelligent-designIt used to be that “free-thinker” meant you weren’t “constrained” to follow a biblical world view. But now, university professors are compelled within a rigid atheistic orthodoxy. Academic freedom is a slogan being emptied of meaning.

Some controversy ensued after Gonzalez was denied tenure. University officials superficially denied that his faith factored into his firing. They said his publishing had declined and he had not won funding for research. But the Des Moines Register obtained emails through a request for public records that indicated that the controversy over Intelligent Design was indeed a factor.

As early as 2005, there were emails discussing how Gonzalez’ belief in Intelligent Design might adversely affect his candidacy for tenure. Iowa State Physics Professor John Hauptman even noted that the anti-Gonzalez sentiments were “starting to smack of a witch’s hanging.” Read the rest of Gonzales’ tenure denial.

A water roller coaster

no-bullies-christian-high-schoolMost people think of camping as something they would never want to experience: Sleeping on the dank ground, eating only unsavory camp food, days without showering and nothing to do. But going on a trip at Lighthouse Christian Academy will change that.

I came to the Lighthouse when I was in seventh grade. They also offer the rafting trip to the students who attend our gradeschool counterpart the Lighthouse Church School, but it wasn’t until my freshman year that I decided to go on the rafting trip. What shocked me was the lack of people that wanted to go. With the urging of Mrs. Lisa Clancy, I decided to go and had a great time.

rafting-tripNow during my sophomore year, the trip rolled around and no one seemed like they wanted to go. Granted some people had other engagements but the group of people that went was small.

Even though the group was small, it was a fun time. The drive to the campsite seemed short because you bonded with the people in the car — or slept. When we arrived at the campsite, all of us from the Santa Monica Christian school were all taken aback by the breathtaking nature around us.

The campsite that the school goes to every year was better than any campsite I had been to before. There was indoor plumbing, a pool, and a small shop if you wanted to buy snacks. This made the camping part of the trip so much easier.

The rafting part of the trip was both frightening and entertaining. We rafted one of the more harder rivers, and though some people had a better time than others, the scared feeling before you rafted is worth it. There is an adrenaline rush you feel when you’re riding a literal water roller coaster. Read the rest of the rafting trip story.

After seeing the sex slave market, ISIS recruit flees terror group

ISIS-sex-slaves

By Jamie Roman

After seeing ISIS capture and sell Muslim women as sex slaves, recruit Abu Abdullah defected and told his story on a YouTube video uploaded by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism.

Wearing a black head covering the effectively masks his identity, Abdullah tells how he was drawn to ISIS because of the chance to live the golden age of authentic Islam, as written in the Koran.

former-isis-fighter-recounts-horrorsBut after seeing jihadis bid for women on the auction block, he now utterly disavows the extremist group that is progressively losing the territory they seized between Iraq and Syria in 2014.

“As a brother in the faith, I swear to Allah: they don’t know anything about Islam,” he says in Arabic, according to translated subtitles. “They are not Islamic. They are not really Muslims.”

sex-slaves-on-auction-block-isisAs a new recruit, Abu was made a prison guard. Almost immediately, the hoped-for utopia was a madhouse of hellish Vikings where pillaging and raping is condoned as hallah, permissible.

“They turn women into slaves,” he says. “They take the girls as slaves and behead the parents. Then they sell the girls.”

What disturbed Abu most was the auctioning off of Muslim women. A literal interpretation of the Koran allows for captured women to be war spoils as long as she is not Muslim. But ISIS, who are sunnis, expanded that permission to include Muslims of a different type, perhaps shia.

“Is it OK for a Muslim woman to become a sex slave?” he asks. “In what religion can a woman be a slave?”

As he narrates, clips are shown of clandestinely-filmed videos of women slaves and ISIS fighters joking about getting girls. The video is part of a series by ICSVE, a Washington-based collective of researchers dedicated to countering extremism in any religion. Their website clarifies that they have no government sponsorship, and they don’t collaborate with spy agencies. It is not a Christian group.

He personally saw the auction block. Iraqi women were up for sale that day.

“Some of the brothers tried to get me to take a woman,” Abdullah says. “I told them, ‘This isn’t right.’ He said, ‘She is a slave, so it is halal.’ I told him, ‘Don’t you know those are Muslim women?”

Abu made the extremely risky decision to escape from ISIS. If he were caught, he would be executed. But Abu made it to freedom, by means he doesn’t tell in the video, and he’s unmasking the rapists masquerading a faithful followers of Islam.

“In the anme of Allah, the most merciful, the most gracious, I address my brothers and all young people, Europeans and Arabs, don’t join ISIS,” he says grimly. “They know nothing about Islam.”

Launched in July of 2015, ICSVE is taking to the same social media that ISIS uses to entice new recruits.

“Given the prolific use of media by terrorist organizations such as ISIS to spur their global reach and propaganda, fighting ISIS and similar groups in the digital and information realm has become a major pillar of our research activities,” the website declares. “We take pride in our field-based research and evidence-based educational video materials that are carefully crafted t counter the efforts of extremist and terrorist organizations to publicize their propaganda and garner support for violence.”

This article was written by Jamie Roman. It was intended to be published on God Reports, but my editor simply didn’t publish it or explain what his intentions were with it, despite the fact that he assigned the article. After waiting weeks for a response, I decided simply to publish it here. Jamie Roman completed this assignment for extra credit at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

Joy of teaching

Christian-school-Los-Angeles

The greatest joy of teaching is NOT seeing heads full of knowledge but hearts full of Jesus. Of course, we do (try to) cram in a lot of studies into these youthful brains. We do (try to) prepare them for 4-year institutions. But sending them off to make millions and lose their soul is NOT what we are about.

Lighthouse Christian Academy has been my plowing terrain for six years, and another school year has concluded. Since I got off the mission field, it has been my mission field in America. We give the kids Bible and love. It turns out a lot of studies need love, and a lot of students want the Bible.

I taught U.S. Literature and A.P. Spanish this semester (and journalism). The kids learned about unforgiveness through The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick and A Cask of Amontillado. They learned about transcendentalism, realism, modernism and post-modernism. They really got the chance to see if they want hopelessness to be their life compass.

What can I say about Spanish? Resulta que nunca nadie se esfuerza tanto como yo quisiera. Es difícil porque tratamos de reducir tres cursos de un año a tres semestres y ni modo los resultados no alcanzan mi esperanza. Pero todavía espero que ganen el examen de A.P.

And journalism? That’s always a favorite for me, though I think I put more effort into it than the students. Oh well.

A toast to all my fellow teachers out there.

 

God’s team: how Christianity helped the Warriors win the NBA

andre-iguodalaNice guys finish last, right?

Wrong! The Golden State Warriors just buzz-sawed their way through the 2017 NBA finals winning four out of five games.

Pundits are busily babbling about the sheer talent bursting from the team. But there is another critical factor that helped make LeBron and crew look like school children. A majority of the players, and especially their leaders, are strong Christians who attend chapel regularly. The Gospel Herald called them “God’s team,” and World Religion News, “the NBA’s men of God.”

Does God favor one team over another? No. Do prayers help win games? No. Does God care about basketball? No, He cares about souls.

cavaliers-warriorsSo what the heaven does Christianity have to do with their resounding win? Well for one, Christianity tends to make players humble, and humility limits ego clashes and ratchets-up team dynamics. It bonds players as brothers.

So when juggernaut Kevin Durant, a devout Christian, snatched the spotlight from 3-pointer ace Steph Curry, also a firm believer, no feud erupted. Instead, the court erupted with a volcanic version of vying for the title.

“That’s just something that we all have, a spiritual connection,” Durant told the San Jose Mercury News last year. “Seeing all the guys that they have in chapel, you can tell that they really love Jesus.” Get the rest of the scoop: God’s team, the Warriors.

Joyce Meyer overcame rape

Joyce_MeyerJoyce Meyer, one of America’s most prominent Christian speakers and authors, overcame sexual abuse by her father.

“My father did rape me, numerous times, at least 200 times,” she told Charisma Magazine.

Meyer, a down-to-earth public speaker with a high-flying prosperity gospel ministry, finally broke years of silence in 2012 by revealing her childhood trauma. She decided she needed to share her testimony to help others suffering similar hurts.

“I was sexually, mentally, emotionally and verbally abused by my father as far back as I can remember until I left home at the age of 18,” she said. “He did many terrible things…some which are too distasteful for me to talk about publicly. But I want to share my testimony because so many people have been hurt, and they need to realize that someone has made it through their struggles.”

Meyer grew up in St. Louis, Missouri with a dad who “was born in the hills — way back in the hills. In his family, incest was just part of the culture,” she told Charisma.

joyce meyer rapedAt age 9, she told her mother what happened. But mom did nothing. When Meyer was 14, her mom caught her dad in the act. But mom was emotionally incapable of confronting the situation and left instead.

In response to her trauma, Meyer accepted Jesus in a local church at age 9. But her mind was in a state of confusion. Shortly after graduating from high school, she married a part-time car salesman, who cheated on her and persuaded her to embezzle from her employer. After she divorced him, she married her current husband, Dave Meyer, an engineering draftsman in 1967, according to Wikipedia.

Then one day in 1976 she was praying intensely while driving to work and heard God call her name. She describes what she felt as “liquid love” flowing from God. The emotional experience was the start of a closer walk with God that would bring her into ministry.

With a no-nonsense folksy style that ingratiated her with her audiences, Meyer rose quickly through the ministerial ranks in ever-larger churches until she resigned to launch her own ministry in 1985. “Life in the Word” began with broadcasts on six radio stations from Chicago to Kansas City. In 1993, she and her husband launched a television ministry.

joyce meyer ministriesMeanwhile, her book-writing ministry also prospered. Publishing house Hachette Book paid Meyer more than $10 million for the rights to her backlist catalog of independently released books in 2002, according to Wikipedia.

On the outside, things were going well. On the inside, Meyer had to deal with the emotional scars from her childhood.

“I was so profoundly ashamed because of this,” Meyer said. “I was ashamed of me, and I was ashamed of my father and what he did. I was also constantly afraid. There was no place I ever felt safe growing up. I don’t think we can even begin to imagine what kind of damage this does to a child.

“At school I pretended I had a normal life, but I felt lonely all the time and different from everyone else. I never felt like I fit in, and I wasn’t allowed to participate in after-school activities, go to sports events or parties or date boys. Many times I had to make up stories about why I couldn’t do anything with my classmates. For so long I lived with pretense and lies.

“What I learned about love was actually perversion,” she added. “My father told me what he did to me was special and because he loved me. He said everything he did was good, but it had to be our secret because no one else would understand and it would cause problems in the family.”

Meyer eventually reached a place in her life when she knew she had to forgive her father.

“I’m happy to say that God gave me the grace completely, 100%, forgive my father,” she said in YouTube video. Read the rest about Joyce Meyer rape.

Their military marriage, a long distance relationship brushed with divorce

long-distance-relationshipHe was trying to fix her, and she was trying to fix him, until they got to the point of signing divorce papers.

Gage Jalbert – of French lineage –met Rikki on payday outside a Walmart in Oklahoma. She was a pretty blonde recently divorced from the father of her child, and they struck up a conversation.

He was due to leave for Japan with the Marines within a week, so they hurriedly got married in 2006. Rikki’s ex-husband would not allow their 3 year old daughter to go overseas so the newlyweds decided on a long-range relationship.

divorce---marriageGage had attended church as a young person but had drifted far away from God, drinking and watching porn. For her part, Rikki was smoking pot daily and committing “indiscretions.”

After the first year of marriage, Gage found out about his wife’s failings. Remembering the God of his youth, he told her she needed to go to church. He himself occasionally went to chapel but wasn’t stirred much by the service. Rikki didn’t appreciate his judgmental attitude. She knew that Gage was slipping up too.

“We were not saved,” Gage says. “We had all this sin in our lives. It was an unhealthy relationship.”

Gage began to pray for God to rescue his marriage.

The couple talked on the phone, mostly arguing and threatening divorce.

By October 2007, they decided to end the marriage. Gage’s superior had a father who was a lawyer who agreed to handle the legal details. In the meantime, Gage was offered a six-figure job with air traffic control, his specialty in the Armed Forces, in Denver. Simultaneously he struck up a romantic friendship with a model whom he had known in school.

Because he was praying, and because everything seemed to be lining up, Gage decided this was God’s will.

Two months later, he gave his wife one last shot to see if they could revive their marriage before resorting to the backup plan. But Rikki didn’t want anything to do with him. They argued: “Yes, I did this. But you did that. What you did was worse.”

In a heart-breaking moment, her child, Hannah, only 4 years old, told her step-dad: “You’re not my dad. You made my mom cry. You need to leave.”

long-distance-military-marriage-saved

In one argument, God broke through and spoke to Gage: “Look at the situation you’re in. Look at what you’re going through. You’ve been praying for six months for things to change. Why haven’t I changed things?”

Gage didn’t know the answer. Inside his head, he prayed and asked God why.

“I haven’t changed anything because you have refused to surrender.”

A Marine never surrenders. Surrendering means you give yourself up completely to your enemy.

These words pierced Gage’s heart. He fully understood the implication.

“I realized I was an enemy of God.”

By continuing to drink and watch porn, he was no better than his wife who smoked pot and was unfaithful.

Gage left the apartment and went home to his dad’s to pray. With just a few days until the divorce would be finalized, he decided he would pray, read his Bible, read Christian books and worked at fully surrendering to God. He would contend for his marriage.

On divorce day, he went to pick up his wife. He asked her one last time if she would try to work it out. She was adamant.

They went to the attorney. While the lawyer lectured Gage about trying by all means to avoid divorce, Rikki stayed in the car. She didn’t want any lectures. All she wanted was to sign divorce papers.

Gage figured he’d done everything he could to save his marriage. He was now free to pursue the career and the girl in Denver. In the meantime, he had to report back for duty in Japan, and he would work on fully surrendering to God.

A couple days after signing the papers, Rikki needed to see her husband about some issues and went over to her father-in-law’s.

That’s when she spied Gage praying in his room. She nearly cried.

While Gage had been trying to seek God in Japan, Rikki was working on her own relationship with the Lord. She secretly yearned to be married to a man of God. But all she knew about was a husband who drank and viewed porn. When she saw her husband praying, her heart broke. Maybe he was sincere about trying to work things out.

“I remember feeling like I was going to cry,” Rikki said.

Was it too late to undo the damage of signed divorce papers?

While Gage flew back to Japan, Rikki went to see her pastor, confessed her sins and fully and deeply repented.

She went down the courthouse and, saying she had power of attorney for her husband, asked for their recent divorce filing. It was probably a breach of protocol, but the official gave her the paper, and she ripped it up right there.

She called her husband and gave him the shocking news: “I tore up those divorce papers!”

Gage was flabbergasted. It came completely unexpected. In fact, he had given up and figured that God had the other girl for him. His response was far from warm.

“I told her not to call me, not to text me, not to email me,” Gage said.

Find out the romantic finale of their near divorce.

‘Earthquake’ Kelley’s visit to Hell: Haitian voodoo priest converts to Christ

EarthquakeKelley-hFrom a very young age, Curtis “Earthquake” Kelley was designated as his father’s successor in Haitian voodoo, but after he visited hell on a drug overdose, he decided to turn to God.

Curtis’ great, great grandfather emigrated from Ireland to Haiti — then called Hispaniola. But slaves invoked witchcraft and his crops failed, so he moved to Texas with four slaves. From one of the slaves, he fathered Curtis’ grandfather, according to his testimony on YouTube.

His father moved to New York and had six children. When mom got pregnant with Curtis, dad tried to force her to abort. She was unwilling, so he kicked and beat her trying to provoke a miscarriage.

freedom from occult“God saw to it that He spared my life,” he said.

Curtis at age 4 watched his older brothers shoot up heroin and wanted to try. But his brothers wouldn’t let him, so he figured out how to “huff” on his own. At 6, he smoked marijuana. At 10, he snorted cocaine.

His family was steeped in voodoo. A priestess working for his father infiltrated church meetings and invited Christians to her own meetings offering potions and spells for jilted spouses, material wealth and love. Because Curtis was seventh-born in his house, he was a “chosen vessel.”

He lusted for power and money and began to learn paranormal techniques for casting night terror, but involvement in the occult opened him up to many torments. The priestess taught him not only witchcraft, but how to manipulate clients and keep them coming back with only partial relief.

“She took advantage of people,” Curtis said. “People believed that if God took too long, the occult would bring a quick fix. She would charge $20. That was a lot of money back then. I would watch husband after husband, boyfriend after boyfriend, come back.”

The priestess had a doll that conversed; a demon inside produced the poltergeist, he said.

“It told her what person was coming each night and what problem they had,” Curtis said. “Every time she would ‘prophe-lie’ — I call it ‘prophe-lie,’ not prophesy — the people would just throw money at her.”

She set up fetishes in his room, but that produced horrifying spectacles.

“I would see these demons coming through the floor and running around my room,” he said. “One day I was laying on my bed and felt it shaking. I turned on the light and looked underneath my bed and saw my dad. His skin tone was green and he was all scaly. He came out and smiled, and then he dived right through the floor. I got freaked out. I was so scared. I said, ‘What is this? I didn’t know all this was involved in this. What am I into?’ Read the rest of Curtis Earthquake Kelley.

Mum shut out by school, clinic, courts from helping her son not rush into gender change

Anmarie_CalgaroA divorced mother was completely left out of the decision-making process while her teenage son, living on his own, sought and obtained help from the school and health authorities to “transition” to the female gender.

Anmarie Calgaro, of Iron Junction, Minnesota, was shocked in November to learn that her son was taking female hormone therapy, a year-long process prior to a “gender-reassignment” surgery — all aided by government agencies who never bothered to consult or inform her.

Just last week, a federal judge dismissed her lawsuit as “meritless.” She had sued doctors, social services and the St. Louis County School District for usurping her rights and responsibilities as a parent.

ejk“We are pleased that this outcome supports her (the “transgender” teen’s) access to essential health care and other critical service,” said Asaf Orr, an attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Transgender Youth Project in San Francisco who aided the minor.

Enter the government. Exit the family.

Now 17, the youth, identified in court documents as E.J.K., “came out” as gay at age 13 and moved in with his dad — with permission from his mom — at age 15. But when his father was jailed, he moved in with relatives and friends and eventually got his own apartment.

E.J.K. portrayed his parents in court documents as unstable and substance-abusing, saying his mother became abusive after he told her he was homosexual. Later, the mom didn’t want to have anything to do with him when he lived on his own, he alleged.

But Calgaro said this portrayal is a distortion that was coached by gay activists.

“The news that county agencies and health service providers, the school, and other county and state officers were completely bypassing me came as a total shock.” Calgaro said in the UK Daily Mail. “Why wasn’t I even notified?”

In November, Calgaro sued for financial damages the school district, the principal of her son’s high school, the director of the county’s Health and Human Services agency and two nonprofit health clinics. Calgaro also wanted to regain parental control of E.J.K. and prevent healthcare providers from offering any further treatment.

At the center of the case was whether E.J.K. became an “emancipated” minor, a legal term for a teenager who has earned the right to act as adult on his own behalf due to abuse, neglect or criminal activity of parents. Gay advocates argued that E.J.K. qualified under Minnesota law because he had rented his own apartment, worked a job while studying in high school and essentially took care of himself.

But this “emancipation” was never granted by court order, Life Site News reported.

“If there had been a court order of emancipation, then Anmarie would have received notice and an opportunity to be heard,” Calgaro’s attorney Erick Kaardal of the Thomas More Society explained. “The U.S. Constitution says that parental rights are fundamental rights, that can’t be terminated without due process.

“Her minor child has been piloted by third parties through a life-changing, permanent body-altering process by organizations that have no legal authority over him, and that have denied his own mother access,” Kaardal said. Read the rest of: mom lost suit transgender son.

6 albums, tours, pastoring, a family — and Trip Lee sleeps 18 hours a day due to chronic fatigue syndrome?

triplee_rise1In the middle of his sophomore year at college, Trip Lee got hit by overwhelming exhaustion that caused him to sleep 18 hours a day. He started failing his entire academic course load.

After seeing many doctors they discovered he was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, a mysterious debilitating disorder that afflicts a million Americans. Ultimately, he dropped out of college.

Trip-Lee-95% preacherIn spite of the ups and downs of his condition, Trip Lee has managed to grind out six rap albums, pastor a church in Atlanta, write books, tour and still have time for his wife and two kids.

The fatigue “is the hardest part of every area of my life,” he told Parle magazine. “It’s the hardest part of my marriage, it’s the hardest part about my music, hardest part about pastoring, everything.”

Born William Lee Barefield III, Trip grew up in a well-to-do family in a part of Dallas where everybody said they were Christian. He asked Jesus into his heart as a tyke but didn’t understand it until at 14, under the preaching of his youth pastor, he comprehended the concepts of sin, judgment and atonement.

trip leeHe confirmed his earlier decision to be a Christian and began to voraciously read the Bible to understand how it would apply to his life.

He had a knack for whipping out rhymes and gradually felt he should dedicate his hiphop talent in service of the Lord. In 2004, when he was in high school, he met Lecrae at a concert, and the godfather of Christian rap took him under his wings and mentored him. He signed with Reach Records and released his debut album, “If They Only Knew,” a few days after his high school graduation in 2006. He became a founding member of the 116 clique, a Texas group of rappers who took their name from Romans 1:16 in which Paul boasts he’s not ashamed of the gospel. “Unashamed” became a song name and a motif through their music.

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With his wife and kids.

He enrolled in Philadelphia Biblical University, now Cairn University, where he enjoyed studying. “I’m a little nerdy,” he said.

But he was still afflicted by Chronic Fatigue. Sometimes his body would shut down and he was forced to lie prostrate in bed for long periods of time. His health challenges severely impacted his Biblical studies major. He wants to be more active, but his body rebels.

“At times, it’s been a disaster,” he told the Washington Times. “My body’s wrecked. My family’s strained. Church life is strained. People don’t see me for weeks when my body crashes.”

trip-lee-press-2012-2There have been times when he’s gathered his favorite talent to help him in the creation of a new album — and he has to put them all on hold. When he’s sleeping 16 hours some days, how does he get anything done?

“He was a trooper,” Gawvi said in Rapzilla. “He really worked so hard where, there were moments when everyone in the studio would tell him, ‘Trip, you need to go take a nap. You need to go rest your body.’ … I haven’t seen a man work so hard on an album.”

While he didn’t pick up a degree in college, he did pick up a wife. Jessica took some of the same classes and walked in the same circles. They saw each other at church. He admired her passion for Jesus. He was passionate too — so much so that she was a bit taken aback by his commitment to purity and the steps he took to guard his heart. The couple married in 2009. They now have a daughter, Selah, and a son, Q.

Trip’s songs regularly rank in the top Billboard 200. He was nominated for two Dove Awards and won the Stellar Award for Best Hip Hop Album in 2011, according to Wikipedia. His penultimate album Rise chugged through iTunes sales at 3rd.

Christian rap slaps you across the face with a refreshing candor. Rappers hit head-on the issues facing their communities; they confront sin without apology. And Trip is no exception. Read the rest of the article about Trip Lee Christian.

Donnie McClurkin’s struggles and triumphs

Donnie-McClurkinGospel music legend Donnie McClurkin struggled with homosexuality, following a childhood marred by molestation and rejection.

Born in Amityville, South Carolina, Donnie was one of 10 kids growing up in poverty. His “living hell” started at age 8, when his 2-year-old brother got run over and killed by a car.

Mom blamed Donnie. The tyke chased Donnie into the street in front of their house. Donnie watched in horror as a car barreled into his brother, who bounced off the bumper and disappeared beneath the vehicle.

mcclurkinfamily“You killed my baby!” his mom shrieked after the funeral.

From that moment in his life, Donnie began to suffer depression and his family fell apart. While staying at an uncle’s house, he was raped at age 8.

“It was a thing that made my life a living hell,” he recalls. “An 8-year-old can’t handle it, and it sparks something in an 8-year-old that’s not supposed to spark until puberty. Things start popping in an 8-year-old mind that doesn’t happen in normal 8-year-old minds, because the Pandora’s Box was opened, and you can’t close it after that.”

He was raped a second time at age 13, this time by a cousin.

His experience in school was difficult as well. He had webbed hands and feet that made him clumsy for sports. He couldn’t dribble, hit or catch a ball.

But he liked singing, sang often in church, and learned to play the piano.

donnie mcclurkin nicole mullenAt home, domestic violence was a regular occurrence. The police visited his family on several occasions. His older siblings started using drugs and arguing with mom. He acquired effeminate habits, which he blamed on being surrounded by a “sea of women.”

Today, Donnie has declared himself “ex-gay,” which he credits to a powerful deliverance from God.  He is engaged to be married to fellow musician Nicole Mullen, according to numerous reports.

Famous for his songs “Stand” and “We Fall Down,” Donnie has won three Grammy Awards, ten Stellar Awards, two BET Awards, two Soul Train Awards, one Dove Award and one NAACP Image Awards. He is one of the top selling Gospel music artists, with more than 10 million albums sold worldwide. He is currently the senior pastor of the Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York.

Homosexuals were disappointed when Donnie refused to be acknowledged as one of their own. In 2001, Donnie wrote about his homosexual attraction in a blog post.

“I was not born with these sexual tendencies. It wasn’t chromosomal and had nothing to do with my DNA,” he wrote, according to the Daily Mail. “These tendencies surfaced because a broken man thrust an 8-year-old boy into this whirlwind. Thus my first sexual relationship was with a man. Before I could ever know the purpose or pleasure of a woman, have my first date or even my first kiss, the wound was inflicted, and the seed was planted.” Read the rest about Donnie McClurkin’s struggles.

Resurrect your potential, not your problems

resurrection

Too often, I “resurrect” my problem. I mull them, overthink them. I need to learn to stop, to “take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

A much more productive thinking mode would be “resurrect” your potential. Expel the negative thinking from the mind and fill it full of positive thinking. Fill it with prayer and praise, not rehearsings of conversations gone awry.

As sure as negative thoughts lead to negative actions, so do positive thoughts.

Passion for teaching. Compassion for students.

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Kathy Patyon’s son, Jordan, plays for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. He, too, is a strong Christian.

Today Mrs. Kathy Payton is the fountain of love and advice for many of the girls at Lighthouse Christian Academy. Maybe the reason why she’s so understanding was she went through some struggles as a young lady.

Born in the “Windy City” of Chicago, Mrs. Payton was forced to go to Catholic mass, and it became a boring chore. As a teenager, she drifted away from God and starting drinking and going to parties. She didn’t care or think about if it was wrong.

She moved to Los Angeles and found true love in her quiet husband, Jerry. Still something didn’t feel right. A voice kept telling her to grab a Bible and read it. But she didn’t understand the sentences she read.

Her husband used to turn on the TV, and there would be a preacher relating to exactly what they were going through in her family, but she would say, “I don’t need to watch that.”

Her life was starting to get stressful and all she wanted was some peace. “I did pray once or twice, but I felt like God wasn’t working fast enough, like there was some type of wall blocking my prayer.”

Her life was falling apart and her relationship with her husband wasn’t the same and she wanted to leave.

Then one day, she walked into a store, and this lady invited her to church and prayer meetings. She went to church and felt like God was speaking to her in a way she couldn’t explain. The words filled her spirit. She became a “different person.” Read the rest about LCA’s Independent Study Program teacher.

Left him in the dust

santa-monica-trackBy Abraham Morales, LCA junior

My experience on the track team has been really awesome!

I’ve never been on a track team before, so I was excited about the first couple of meets on behalf of the  Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

I always get complimented on how fast I can run, so this year I decided to join the team. This is my junior year.

Christian-school-track-Santa-MonicaTurns out I’m not too bad. I ran my 100 meter dash in 12.57 seconds and my 400 meter dash in 59.44 seconds.

Because this is my first year, I wasn’t really sure on what to expect, but everything was so much fun! I never thought I could beat in a race Levi, one of our fastest runners. But with a dedicated mindset and some training, I was able to gain confidence and leave him in the dust. Read the rest about LCA’s track team.

Mustard Seed Budget’s Note: Abraham Morales is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy, a small Christian school in Santa Monica. It’s so small that we rejoice over every small accomplishment.

Move over, Jesus Freaks. Here come the Jesus Geeks.

code for the kingdomJust the mention of the word “hacker” evokes the image of the online netherworld, of spies surreptitiously downloading blueprints of the latest stealth fighter or shutting down power grids.

Now are there Christian hackers?

Apparently so. Since 2014, Code of the Kingdom has held 44 weekend “hackathons” worldwide for programmers to help non-profits. Around 100 technologists compete for $10,000 in prizes while tackling the ills of the world. They’ve launched an app to fight human exploitation and streamlined access to social services for the homeless.

christian coders“We write code and create technology to help release the oppressed, teach God’s Word, heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and support the church and the body of Christ,” their website declares.

Hackathons are nothing new; they gather topnotch coders to brainstorm solutions in marathon sessions that harness the collective nerd power of diverse professionals. What is different about Code for the Kingdom is the participants’ undergirding faith. Some 4,000 techies worldwide have participated so far.

christian hackathon“I wanted to be in a place where there’s a stronger connection between my work and my faith,” Kristen Stark told GeekWire. She’s an engineer at Midfin Systems in Redmond, California. “We love Jesus and other people and want to help them. Helping the users and offering them alternatives by showing that others care for their underlying needs is a very Christian approach to intervention.”

Their weekday jobs are for Amazon, Google, Microsoft and a slew of startups. Then on select weekends throughout the year, they gather in Seattle; Nashville; Cali, Columbia; Bangalore, India; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; London; Jakarta, Indonesia; Manila, Philippines; La Paz, Bolivia — in all 32 cities in 12 countries.

Finish reading the article on Jesus Geeks.

From Russia to love: Another KGB agent turns into Christ’s agent

Jack, seine Frau Shawna und seine Tochter Trinity zuhausFinally, the FBI caught up with Jack Barsky – and so did God.

For 19 years, Barsky spied on America for the Soviet Union during the Cold War and for Russia after. His job was to infiltrate U.S. society and get close to security officials and pry information from them. And the “sleeper agent” went undetected until May 1997 when the FBI at long last pulled him over.

His marriage to an American was unraveling. Years later, when he married Shawna, a devout Christian from Jamaica, God caught up with him too.

“I came to terms with (the fact that) I did a lot of bad things – never mind breaking laws,” Barsky told Glenn Beck. “I hurt people. I did bad things. I served a bad cause. And I realized goodness doesn’t come from inside. I always thought of myself as a good person. (But I learned) there is no morality with God.”

at age 22 when he was DittrichBarsky was born Albrecht Dittrich in East Germany in 1949. In college studying chemistry, he proved he had a brilliant mind and a matching hauteur. When the KGB approached him to work as a spy in America, it conjured an inner ubermensche. “I could see the world and I didn’t have to go by the usual rules — I would be above the law,” he told Der Spiegel.

In East Germany, Dittrich learned secret handwriting, Morse code and how to lose a tail. In Moscow, he devoured English mastering 100s of words daily.

He was shipped off to America in 1978 with $6,000 in his bags and instructions to assume the position of a businessman and get cozy with politicians and other influential people in Washington. Specifically, he was told to make contact with then-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

An employee at the Soviet Embassy scored him the birth certificate that would give him the basis to get a passport. He had spotted a tombstone of 10-year-old Jack Barsky who had died in 1955 and procured the birth document.

Under his new name, Barsky first worked as a bicycle messenger in New York, a job that provided him with plenty of opportunity to get to know the city, observe people and learn the intricacies of the city’s commerce.

Jack-Barsky in new york

“The messenger job was actually really good for me to become Americanized because I was interacting with people who didn’t care much where I came from, what my history was, where I was going,” he told the BBC. “I was able to observe and listen and become more familiar with American customs. So for the first two, three years I had very few questions that I had to answer.”

Later, he studied computer science and worked as a programmer for Met Life insurance. If anyone ever asked about his slight accent, he responded that his mother was German.

Christian soviet spyDuring the day, he was good neighbor and upstanding citizen. At night, he prepared profiles for the Soviets of potential agents and wrote assessments of developing political and military situations, which he stuffed in small steal containers to be left at dead drops outside the city or in parks. He received instructions from Moscow via a shortwave radio.

He never managed to sidle up to national security advisors, but he stole computer code that helped the Soviet Union economically.

With his America persona in full swing, he vacationed yearly to East Germany for debriefings. He married his college sweetheart, Gerlinde, and started a family. It was an awkward situation because his wife was never full aware of what he was doing in America.

deep-under-cover-christianIn America, he was taking his double life to another level. He married a girl named Penelope, a native of Guyana, in 1985 and with her had two children, Chelsea and Jessie.

“I did a good job of separating the two” lives, he said. “Barsky had nothing to do with Dittrich and Dittrich wasn’t responsible for Barsky.”

But the facade had to crumble.

The collapse started in 1988 when Moscow ordered his immediate return. The KGB had information that Barsky was about to be arrested and wanted him to escape.

After 10 years of American lifestyle, he balked at the idea. He had discovered that Americans weren’t evil, as he had been told, and he had fallen for the American Dream. He stalled for a week.

When he got the ultimatum, Barsky concocted an elaborate excuse. He knew the Soviets feared AIDS and chalked the epidemic in America up to its moral inferiority. So he told his handlers that he had contracted the HIV virus. He assured the Russians he wouldn’t defect or surrender any secrets.

Of the Soviet fears, nothing materialized. The FBI was still clueless. He eased in middle-class life in America in a comfy home in upstate New York.

Then in 1992, his cover was blown. A KGB archivist, Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin defected and named a slew of agents to British authorities.

The FBI finally started watching Barsky to see if was an active agent.

The FBI bugged his home. They purchased the house next door, and an FBI agent, Joe Reilly, posing as an ornithologist, kept him under surveillance with binoculars.

In the end, Barsky blurted the evidence that the FBI needed. In the middle of a heated argument with his wife, Barsky tried to show her how much he’d given up for her.

“I was trying to repair a marriage that was slowly falling apart,” he said. “I was trying to tell my wife the ‘sacrifice’ I had made to stay with Chelsea and her. So in the kitchen I told her, ‘By the way, this is what I did. I am a German. I used to work for the KGB and they told me to come home and I stayed here with you and it was quite dangerous for me. This is what I sacrificed.’”

Instead, she grew angrier. He had a secret life? He was in danger of being arrested?

Just days later, Barsky was driving home from work. When he drove out of toll station, and a Pennsylvania state trooper pulled him over. Dressed in plain clothes, Reilly asked to talk to him.

“I knew the gig was up,” he said.

Still, Barsky met the arrest with bluster: “What took you so long?”

He had gone undetected for almost 20 years – a massive embarrassment for the FBI.

For a weekend, Reilly interrogated Barsky in a motel. Bargaining for clemency, Barsky came clean with everything. Ultimately, the FBI validated his entire story and decided to let him go free.

It would take more years for God to “catch” him. Find out how God “caught” Jack Barsky Christian KGB agent.

Steve Harvey is becoming increasingly vocal about his Christian faith

steve harvey smileBy Jordan Sheppard

In school, Steve Harvey never got an A and never got a star. So when in high school the teacher called him to the front to share his life goal, he thought he would FINALLY get a congratulation of some sort.

Instead, he got ridiculed for saying he wanted to be on T.V.

“She called me up there to humiliate me. She knew I stuttered severely,” the famous comedian shared at an Alabama State University commencement ceremony. “She said, ‘Why would you write something like this? Who in this school ever been on TV? Who in your family ever been on TV? You can’t even talk right. You ain’t gonna be nothing.’”

steve-harvey-familyBut Harvey turned the humiliation into a life lesson.

“Every Christmas I send her a flat screen TV because I want her to see what God had done for me in spite of everything she had said about me,” he said. “God put your imagination in your mind to show you a preview of what He has for you. If you want to kill your big dreams, tell it to a small-minded person.”

As his comedic stardom continues to grow, Harvey is becoming increasingly vocal about his Christian faith.

“My momma and my daddy left me empty-handed, but boy the church they put in me! The God they put in me!” he said. “My life is full of grace. You better go get yourself some. You can’t buy grace. It ain’t for sale. If I take all the money you have – and thank You Jesus, I got some money – I would take all of it and buy grace with you, but you can’t. It’s free.”

Harvey was born in Welch, West Virginia in 1957 to a coal-mining father who taught Sunday school.  His father taught him to be a man of his word. The family moved to Cleveland, where he attended Glenville High School. He jokes that he graduated 690th out of 695 seniors.

steve-harvey-miss universeIn his early years, Harvey found employment as an auto-worker, insurance salesman, a carpet cleaner and a mailman. While getting his comedy career going, he was homeless for several years, slept in a 1976 Ford, and showered at gas stations and public swimming pools.

In 1990, he gained attention as a finalist in the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search. Eventually, he landed the long-standing job as host of It’s Showtime at the Apollo. He later starred in ABC’s Me and the Boys in 1994 and ran The Steve Harvey Show on WB network from 1996-2002.

In 2010, he boosted Family Feud’s ratings as their host.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based T.V. show host struggled through two divorces and had four children. He’s on his third marriage to Marjorie Bridges, whose three children he treats as his own.

“I’ve lost everything I’ve ever owned twice,” Harvey summed up his life. “Struggled through two marriages to finally learn to get it right. I lived in a car 3 years, washed up behind bushes at the gas stations.”

His latest marriage is largely responsible for shaping him up, he said.

“You’re looking at two people who were messing up for real and making bad decisions without conferring with God,” he said on Tlcnapttown’s website. “But the fact that you can mess up that many times and still come out okay is a testament to just the grace and mercy of God, man.”

In 2015, Harvey was praying for God to increase his audience overseas. How God hearkened to that prayer became another life lesson about trials and blessings.

It happened through his famous Miss Universe blunder. Hosting the pageant in the Philippines, he was fed through the teleprompter the wrong name. Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez was overcome with emotion and adulation, but Harvey found out backstage it was a mistake. The winner was Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach.

As organizers were scratching their heads wondering what to do, Harvey walked out on the stage and owned the error. His correction crushed Miss Colombia and prompted a gazillion memes making fun of Harvey. He apologized to both and laid low for a time, even though the organizers were responsible for the mistake.

People he considered close friends ridiculed him publicly.

While the faux pas caused no end of embarrassment to Harvey, it also raised his international profile and increased his business. To read the rest of the article, click Steve Harvey Christian.

She almost aborted him

abortion-santa-monica.gifBy Jordan Sheppard, LCA sophomore –

Her Aunt Kerris always took little Monica to Santa Monica’s New Shiloh Baptist Church. Even though Aunt Kerris was not wealthy, she always gave 50 cents to her niece to buy something after service from the local store. Things were cheap back in the 70s and 80s, so you could buy a treat for 50 cents.

Monica loved Aunt Kerris and believed in God and got baptized but never grew close in her relationship to her Savior. Her behavior Monday through Saturday was different than her Sunday church behavior.

When she got older, she went to parties and  starting doing things that were not good for her body. She didn’t really care what happened. She was too busy having fun.

at-risk-youth-westside-los-angeles-schoolEventually, Monica met a man that is not in her life anymore.

Here is where the interesting part happens. She was not ready to have a son. So she went to an abortion clinic.

As she was sitting there waiting her turn, God spoke.

“Monica Sheppard, I know what you have been going through, and I am here to help,” God told her as clear as day. “Even though people have not been there like your other family, friends and or your mother, I am here.”

Monica listened to God and left the clinic.

West-Los-Angeles-Christian-school

God kept his promise and with His power, He brought different role models that acted like fathers to this young man.

Wherever she sleeps, Monica posts her own quote on the headboard to keep encouraged: “No matter how dark the situation is, no matter how hard the problem is, God is with you always and He is with you even in the harshest problems. If God can help me raise my child, he will help you with anything you need.”

The son she had is a well-known kid attending Lighthouse Christian Academy on the westside of Los Angeles. Her son is me, Jordan Dominick Sheppard.

This article originally appeared on the Lighthouse Christian Academy website. I teach there.

KGB agent who busted up Christian meetings joins them

Kourdakov,_The_PersecutorAccording to his autobiography, thug-turned-KGB Sergei Nikolayevich Kourdakov broke up over 150 secret meetings of Christians in the former Soviet Union. The leaders were arrested, members were beaten and terrorized and all Christian literature was burned or sent to headquarters for analysis.

How did this zealous communist find Jesus just a few years later and then die under mysterious circumstances near Los Angeles?

Kourdakov was born in 1951 under communist tyranny. After his mentally ill brother tried to kill him, he ran away, became a street urchin and was scooped up and taken to state-run orphan homes, according to his book The Persecutor, a dramatic and somewhat controversial account.

For a few years he toyed with becoming a hoodlum, even selling hashish, but ultimately he withdrew from the underworld and instead threw his efforts into the communist party. With intelligence and ambition, he quickly rose to become leader of the Communist Youth League in his area.

Sergei-Kourdakov-3After graduating with honors he enrolled in the Navy and studied to become a radio engineer. Meanwhile, his aptitudes caught the attention of his superiors and he was recruited to a “special-action squad” for 25 rubles a month.

At first the squad was tasked with roughing up drunks and wife-beaters the police didn’t have time for. Such rogues gave a bad name to communism, which was supposedly creating a “utopia.”

As time progressed, Kourdakov and his recruits were assigned to break up underground Christian meetings. In one operation, he hid in the bushes where informants said there would be a baptism.

Shortly after church members arrived, Kourdakov sprang from hiding and beat them down with clubs. The pastor floated dead in the water, and young girls were stripped naked to be humiliated and driven to the police station for interrogation.

Sergei & Mr. LogieBut his decision to make a public spectacle of the Christians was a miscalculation that drew the criticism of his superiors, who wanted these raids to be conducted in secrecy.

From May through December 1970, Kourdakov conducted raids. The “believers” – as they were called – were beaten and intimidated, and the pastors were arrested and sentenced to Siberian labor camps.

It was the height of the Cold War, and religious faith was seen by atheistic communism as subversive, a means by “capitalist oppressors: to keep the masses peaceful and stupid.” Part of Kourdakov’s duties was to document Christians for databases that authorities could use to round them up at any time.

the persecutorIn one raid, Kourdakov noticed a particularly beautiful believer named Natasha Zhdanova and decided she should be smashed against a wall. Kourdakov thought this would intimidate and discourage believers from attending any further meetings.

But just three days later, he spotted Natasha at another raid. He decided she needed more persuasion and so he beat her severely. He even brought her to the police station to threaten her.

One week later in another raid, Kourdakov saw her again. Her persistence was particularly unnerving. Records showed she had once belonged to the Communist Youth League.

This time, Kourdakov defended Natasha. When his buddy Alex Gulyaev moved to club her down, Kourdakov jumped between them and shouted: “Alex, I’m telling you, don’t touch her! Nobody touches her! She has something we don’t have! Nobody touches her!”

The subtitle of Kourdakov’s autobiography is “Forgive Me, Natasha.”

His exploits on behalf of the communist regime made him stand out in the Kamchatka Province. He was awarded a 15-minute speech broadcast on television. Afterwards he met Comrade Orlov, he invited him to a private dining room full of high-ranking communist officials, who were dining on expensive delicacies and drinking vodka like water.

Kourdakov was disillusioned. Supposedly communism fought for the laborer and the farmer. Purportedly, it fought the ruling class. But while the poor of the Soviet Union scraped together a meager living, here were the guardians of communism living like the capitalist oppressors they claimed to eradicate.

Meanwhile, Kourdakov began to notice that his Christian-busting raids weren’t having the desired effect. Instead of decreasing, attendance was surging.

In July, he was asked by his superiors to burn some religious texts for heating. But his doubts about communism were festering and his curiosity about Christianity was mounting. Instead of burning the books, he pocketed a hand-written copy of the Gospel of Luke and took it home to read at the Naval Academy barracks on his bunk.

“Jesus was talking and teaching someone how to pray. This certainly was no anti-state material,” he wrote in The Persecutor. “It was how to be a better person and how to forgive those who do you wrong. Suddenly, the words leaped out of those pages and into my heart… Through the days and weeks ahead, Jesus stayed with me.”

In January of 1971, Kourdakov graduated from the Naval Academy as a radio officer and was assigned to a destroyer. He asked to be transferred to a ship near the United States coast. In June, he found himself on the trawler Ivan Sereda looking for an opportunity to defect to the United States.

But just when he was going to jump ship on a makeshift raft off the coast of Los Angeles, another Soviet elsewhere was returned off the coast of New England in what became known as the Kudirka Incident. He would-be defector was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kourdakov decided to initiate his escape when they were close to Canada.

Transferred to another trawler, the Shturman Elagin, he found his opportunity in August. During a severe storm, the trawler requested and got approval to enter Canadian waters for shelter. On Sept. 3, Kourdakov plunged into the frigid waters and swam – most of the night – for the shore.

He was found half-naked and bleeding on Queen Charlotte Island by a woman who called a hospital. Nobody spoke Russian, so he spoke German through a translator. In an extended diplomatic fracas, he was very nearly returned to the Soviets.

But a radio talk show host, Pat Burns, heard about him and pressured Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to grant asylum. Read the rest of Sergei Kourdakov Christian

My journalism student from the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Westside Los Angeles wrote this article. I edited it.

Friends

funnyI can’t comprehend why we’re not all friends at church, but some people are more concerned about clambering up — what in their mind — the dogpile. They think they have to step on others.

Not me. I just want to enjoy friendship. And I wish everybody were a friend.

This side of eternity, friendship is the greatest thing. It is one of the loves (marital and family is another). Friendship occurs when you appreciate each other and share meaningful moments (they can be goofiness or enjoying watching a sport together or working together in a common cause).

The king of the dogpile is the ultimate loser for me. He thinks he’s got everybody’s respect. Maybe what he has is everybody’s fear. I’m afraid of him. Perfect love casts out all fear. I’m far from perfect yet.

Out of the miry clay

lonelySinking, sinking, sinking. You realized with horror that the mud would fill your lungs and suffocate you. There was no bottom to the sludge.

Then God pulled you out. He rescued you. There was nothing you could do to rescue yourself. Only be rescued.

Cry out to God in the day of trouble. No, you don’t deserve to die. He loves you and wants to pull you up into Heaven with Him.

Sultry Selena is Christian

selenaSelena Gomez surprised more than a few when she took the stage of a Hillsong Young & Free concert to sing praise and worship Feb. 25th last year.

It seems the baby-faced pop star has revitalized her relationship with Jesus Christ.

“I’m a Christian,” the 24-year-old said unabashedly in a YouTube interview.

selena prayer circleSelena, whose Instagram account has 117 million followers, has prepared for concerts by listening to Hillsong and by gathering with her team for prayer, as a recent Entertainment Tonight video revealed. She has voiced admiration for Brooke Fraser.

Selena was born to teenage parents in Texas and suffered emotionally as a child. She blamed her mom for her parents’ separation when she was a five-years-old. Without dad, the family struggled financially. They scrounged up quarters to put gas in the car and frequently fed on spaghetti from the Dollar Store.

selena gomez christian“I was frustrated that my parents weren’t together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me,” she said, according to Wikipedia. “My mom was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. She gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me, sacrificed her life for me.”

She got her start in acting with a childhood role as Gianna on Barney and Friends. Later, she landed the starring role of Alex Russo on the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place from 2007-12. She was following in the footsteps of fellow Disney stars Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, who kept squeaky clean images as Disney teens only to rampage with drugs and sex when they branched out of their own.

selena and justinSelena seemed to be falling into the post-Disney depravity. She cultivated a sultry songstress image and ran with the Hollywood A-listers, including BFF Taylor Swift. Song after song topped charts, and she became the girlfriend of drug-troubled Justin Bieber for a year, only to stumble through another year of on-and-off-again rumors.

But then she started suffering from lupus, with depression and anxiety compounding her malaise, and she canceled the rest of her Revival Tour in 2016 to enroll in a rehab program. She wasn’t fighting drugs, she maintained. She said she just needed help to get a grip on her emotions. Selena eschewed the typical Hollywood luxury rehabs and instead chose a Christian-run facility. Read the rest of the article about Selena Gomez Christian.

You knew that Flamin Hot Cheetos came from God — Here’s why

montanez-cheetos-350x458This is the story of how God inspired a lowly janitor at the Frito-Lay factory in Rancho Cucamonga to create “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,” propelling his rise to the top of the executive ranks.

Richard Montañez grew up in a farm labor camp picking grapes in California. He grew up with his family crammed into a one-room shanty lacking basic indoor plumbing — the communal bathroom was outside. They couldn’t buy luxuries and sometimes went to bed hungry. His was a life of food stamps, welfare and even times of homelessness.

Without any education, he salivated for the opportunity to work at the local Frito-Lay factory scrubbing floors. When he got the job, his father and grandfather sat him down and exhorted him to execute it with excellence.

“When you mop that floor, you let people know that a Montanez mopped it,” Montañez told WKNO television station. “In my heart, I was going to be the best janitor that Frito-Lay ever had. I saw that I had an influence because they would walk into the break room and it would smell fresh and they would smile.”

Then someone shared the gospel with him and his wife, Judy.

richard-montanez-rancho-cucamonga-350x234“I never felt like I belonged. I always felt like I was an outsider, like second-class citizens,” he told the Faith with Flavor program. “Then somebody started telling us about Jesus Christ. I wanted that so bad. We were never going to be picked for anything. Why would God take the time to deal with somebody like me when nobody else would? We figured we’d give God a chance. He was doing things for me before I could do anything for Him.”

He started reading the Bible and learning from his pastor, from mature church members and from mentors.

RichardMontanez-350x211“I started going to church. It’s so full of wisdom,” he said. “If you read the Bible, it will educate you.”

Then one day at work, the president gave a lecture about empowerment. He told all the employees to think and act like they were the president. This was the message Montañez longed to hear. He looked around at his co-workers and was surprised that they didn’t seem to care much for the inspirational speech.

Montañez was praying one day for an idea, a vision that would help him break out of poverty. He took his small son to eat elotes, corn on the cob that Latinos cover with chili, cheese, lemon and other condiments. As he munched on the chili-coated elote, he thought of the puffed-corn snacks that his factory coated with powdered cheese.

Fleeing a death squad

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Ivan Arango never liked the party because, as he repeated, they always ended with fights, hatred and vows of revenge. But his close friend, Antonio, prevailed on him to go to his high school graduation’s celebration in Guatemala – in the cantina.

Sure enough, a fight broke out over some stolen beers, and Ivan and Antonio found themselves fleeing a death squad in the City of Quetzaltenango in the Western side of Guatemala.

Formed to efficiently kill dangerous targets outside of the proper channels of justice during Guatemala’s dirty civil war, clandestine death squads were paramilitary groups that devolved into despotic gangs answerable to no one.

death squads honduras

A death squad in Honduras

A death squad member had stolen Antonio’s beer, and he had punched him, not knowing he was a paramilitary.

Out of his devotion to his best friend, Ivan had planned to accompany the graduation festivities in the cantina for only 30 minutes. In the next moment, he was fleeing for his life.

“Are they going to kill us?” he worried.

Ivan and his friend hid in a room in the back of the cantina, and a friendly lady locked it with a padlock on the outside. Sure enough, the death squad came to to that room, pounded and kicked the door and fired bullets.

Terrified, Ivan remembered his brother, Diego, who was first of the family to become a born-again Christian.

In his heart, he cried out to God. “Lord, forgive me. If you can get me out of this trial, save me. Don’t let these men kill me here.”

The paramilitaries busted down the door. They shoved a .44-Magnum in Ivan’s mouth, but it jammed.

“I couldn’t say anything,” he said. “I didn’t argue. He insulted me like a demon.”
death squads honduras

This picture from a Google search is believed to show a Honduran death squad in action.

Responding to disturbances in the neighborhood, the military police showed up. The paramilitaries stood down and left.

The streets were silent like a cemetery. Ivan asked the cantina owner if he should go home.

“They’re waiting for you to come out to torture and kill you,” he said. Read the rest of the story refugee students.

This is the story of how a Guatemala survived the ravages of war in Guatemala and immigrated to the United States where he married and enrolled his daughters in our Christian school in Los Angeles.

George Foreman found God when he was dying

Foreman-MoorerHis powerful punch and menacing demeanor in the ring led George Foreman to Olympic Gold and heavyweight championships, but when Jimmy Young brutalized him in a humiliating defeat in 1977, the street bully from Houston felt he was dying.

“In the dressing room, I was walking back and forth to cool off,” he told The Houston Chronicle. “Then in a split second, I was fighting for my life.”

He lay on a locker room table. While friends and staff attended to his physical body, the battered brute battled with the God he learned little about as a kid.  He admitted later he only went to church for the free lunches.

george-bible“I kept thinking, ‘You believe in God. Why are you afraid to die?” Foreman told The New York Times. “But I really didn’t believe.”

Foreman began bargaining with his Creator. If God saved him, he would give his prize money to charity.

“I don’t want your money,” a voice responded. “I want you.”

Foreman was bewildered and confused. He had never met anybody who didn’t want money.

Foreman485“It was the saddest, most horrible place I had ever seen,” he said. “Tears fell. I was scared. I’d never heard anyone turn down money. There I was fighting for my life with something that you couldn’t deal with. That changed my life forever.”

Then as his life ebbed away, too late to repent, Foreman felt a “giant hand” thrust him back into consciousness. He saw his friends. At the same time, he felt strangely filled with the presence of a dying Christ. He felt his forehead bleed and he imagined it pierced by Christ’s crown of thorns. He sensed his wrists punctured as if by the nails of the cross.

“I knew that Jesus Christ was coming alive in me,” Foreman told The Times. “I ran into the shower and turned on the water and — hallelujah! — I was born again. I kissed everybody in the dressing room and told them I loved them. That happened in March 1977, and I never have been the same again.”

A passion began to stir in his heart. “I started reciting the Bible, talking from the pit of my stomach in that dressing room. I was talking about how Jesus was God’s son and that he was alive. So when I came out of that, I asked a friend to go get me a Bible. And he said, ‘What kind?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, one like your mother has.’ So, he went out and bought me a King James version of the Bible. And that’s how I got into religion.”

The turnaround in Foreman was immediate and dramatic. Today, he preaches punchy sermons as pastor at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston.

Transformed from a rage-filled street punk into a humble and sweet Christian, Foreman found he couldn’t muster the will to fight anymore, so he dropped boxing for 10 years. Read the rest of the George Foreman story.

A NY exec meets a true-life Tarzan boy in Guatemala

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Jamie Waller with Francisco Tzoy, the Tarzan boy

When a New York tycoon met one of the last feral “Tarzan boys” in Guatemala, he knew it was a match made in Heaven.

Jamie Waller, a Wall Street darling who recovered from alcoholism and became a missionary, took on what was to become perhaps his most difficult case, helping a boy who became a savage after he was abandoned following the death of his parents, forced to fend for himself in the jungle.

That boy, Francisco Tzoy – who suffered from mental disability — crawled on all fours and fought off dogs for his food in the dense mountainous terrain of Guatemala. Francisco is now diagnosed with the mental age of a 9-month-old.

Centro-de-estimulacion-integral-guatemalaThanks to God working through Waller and the Guatemalan government, he now keeps his clothes on, stands on his feet, smiles and no longer eats his own excrement.
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“That’s a good success story,” Waller said. “He can sit still, play a little bit. He doesn’t scream all the time anymore. He can participate in group activities. Prayer has been big. People have been praying for him and with him throughout. His infectious smile touches me. When he’s happy, the whole world smiles with him.”

A New Jersey native, Waller started using drugs in boarding school in the 1970s. He drank daily through college. When he started having kids and getting into corporate life, he limited his liquor consumption to weekend drinking.

In 2009, his wife left him. While this was another boat-rocker in his life, it seemed at the same time to open doors for him to travel and do ministry. He flew to Guatemala with his son and visited 10 orphanages. The last hospital he visited so moved him that it became the one he now works in.

Francisco-Tzoy

Francisco Tzoy

 

“It was the Holy Spirit,” Waller said of the remarkable career boomerang. “I worked in New York and wore a suit to work. I never had real interest in special needs folks. I probably was guilty of ignoring them like most people do. The Lord changed my heart. Something clicked in my head when I visited this one. I was only there for an hour, but it changed my life.”

Though he had no background with special needs patients, he threw himself into the work in 2009. He hired a physical therapist to “volunteer” at the Abrigo Bienestar Integral home to give the patients some badly needed stimuli. He prodded government officials to make ABI less of an institution where patients were kept behind bars and more of a center of joy and improving patients with their social skills.

Today, Waller runs a 12-member staff on a $50,000 budget through Fundaniños, and they serve at a government-funded institution that houses and cares for some 100 special needs patients abandoned or abused by their families.

In eight years of service, he has opened an annex facility that during the day takes some of the higher-functional patients and provides them physical therapy and improves motor and cognitive skills.

Perhaps their most remarkable story of transformation involves their former Tarzan boy, Francisco.

When two police agents spotted him in May of 2010 cowering among the brush of rural Santa Cruz of Quiché, they first thought he was a wolf. He emitted guttural sounds and moved around on all fours. His unkempt, matted hair flowed all over his naked body. Read the rest about Tarzan boy.

Amazing grace for Valley Boy Pastor

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My two sons performing in the drama.

God’s goodness and unmerited favor is not only for salvation. I’ve been seeing it in the formation of the startup church in Van Nuys, California. The San Fernando Valley Lighthouse Church is running on eight cylinders.

We recently did a drama to bless another, well-established church in Palmdale, about an hour away from L.A.

The church continues to meet at Lake Balboa, when it’s not too cold or rainy. Attendance doubled in December.

I am floored that God would bless me. It’s His amazing grace, usually applied to salvation, but applicable to any and every area of our lives.

What you need in life is God’s favor, which you can’t earn. Jesus earned it for you. The best thing we can do is be grateful.

Stephen Baldwin got saved, thanks to nanny

330 stephen baldwinOf the 18 or so tattoos scattered all over Stephen Baldwin’s body representing different stages of his life, one is a scripture: 3:30. It’s on the back of his neck and stands for John 3.30. “I must decrease so that he may increase.”

The youngest sibling of the Baldwin acting clan accepted Jesus in the aftermath of 9/11. But the wake-up call only came after a Brazilian nanny was singing about Jesus in Portuguese to the Baldwin’s baby in front of Stephen’s Brazilian wife, Kennya.

“So, we hired this lady from Brazil named Augusta, and the whole first week she’s working for us she’s singing in Portuguese, which she only spoke that language with my wife,” said Stevie B., as he calls himself.

Baume & Mercier and LOVE146's " Into The Light" Benefit Hosted by Stephen BaldwinKennya suddenly realized whom the nanny was singing about. She went to Stephen and said, “Do you hear what she’s singing about?  She’s singing about Jesus.”

After overhearing the singing a few more days, her curiosity could not be contained and she approached the nanny directly. “I noticed your singing, and I’m wondering why every song is about Jesus?”

Kennya was taken aback when Augusta burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“Quite frankly, I think it’s a little bit funny that you think I’m here to clean your house.”

To Kennya’s amazement, she explained that through a prophetic word, she was told that if she went to live with the Baldwins, Stephen and Kenya would one day come to faith in Jesus Christ and be involved in ministry.

“She goes on to tell my wife that, before she had accepted the job, she prayed with her pastor and some church members in Brazil. I haven’t told this part of the story a lot. She had a dream and saw me, saw my wife and saw my first daughter Aliya.”

But Baldwin was not impressed or moved about what appeared to him at the time to be religious gibberish.

“Didn’t faze me for a second,” he said. “Raised Roman Catholic up until 11 or 12. Didn’t stick. Went out into the world and did my own thing.”

Among his “own things” were roles in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Posse (1993), Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994), Threesome (1994), The Usual Suspects (1995), Bio-Dome (1996), Fled (1996), The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), Fred Claus (2007) and The Flyboys (2008). In addition to being an award-winning actor, he became a producer and an author.

Kennya was first one in the family to receive Jesus. After spending much time talking about Jesus with Augusta, Kenya attended a Brazilian church in New York City, seeking answers and learning more about Him.

As time went on, Stephen became curious and felt drawn to God and began asking questions. Then 9/11 struck.

“September 11th kind of freaked me out,” Baldwin recounted. Read the rest of the fascinating account.

Not exactly who you want as worship leader, but Alice Cooper is saved

Dark-themed rocker Alice Cooper — whose onstage theatrics included handling boa constrictors and staging mock suicides with guillotines — has returned to the God of his childhood after dumping alcoholism and feeling dissatisfied with riches.

“When you get out there and realize you’ve had every car, every house, and all that, you realize that that’s not the answer,” Cooper told CNSnews. “There’s a big nothing out there at the end of that. So, materialism doesn’t mean anything.  A lot of people say that there’s a big God-sized hole in your heart. And when that’s filled, you’re really satisfied, and that’s where I am right now.”

“The so-called “Godfather of shock rock” was born Vincent Damon Furnier in 1948 to a pastoral family in Arizona. He performed missionary work with his dad among the Apaches. His grandfather was a pastor too. But when he went AWOL on God, he stretched the outer limits of what it means to be a prodigal.

His high school band from Phoenix was discovered by Frank Zappa in 1969. They struck gold with the album Love It to Death, which gained national notoriety.

Meanwhile, he drew on lessons from Edgar Allan Poe to optimize publicity with lurid dramatizations of horror in his concerts. His creepy makeup and macabre shenanigans drew ire from Christian leaders, which only served to fuel his sales to disaffected, rage-filled adolescents. Giddy with his success, Cooper conveniently forgot the early chapters of his life and his relationship with God as he entered the stratosphere of mega-stardom.

What brought him back to Earth was the booze.

“I was throwing up blood every morning,” he said.  “I was really a bad alcoholic. I wasn’t a cruel or mean alcoholic, but I was certainly self-destructive. My doctor said I was a textbook alcoholic. He said, ‘You drink in order to get things done, it’s like a medicine for you.’ I said, ‘You’re right.’ I was always on a golden buzz. I drank all day, but I never slurred my speech or anything.

“When I came out of the hospital, I kept waiting for the craving to come, and it never came. It was a miracle,” he said. “I tell people I’m not a cured alcoholic, I’m a healed alcoholic. I never went to AA or anything like that, and I give all credit to God for that. Even the doctor said, ‘This is a miracle that you’re not falling back on alcohol every time there’s a stressful situation.’ So, it’s gone. It’s just gone.”

When God delivered him from alcohol, he went back to church. Cooper and his current wife of 41 years, Sheryl Goddard, now attend the Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, to focus on growing and strengthening their faith in Christ.

“When you get out there and realize you’ve had every car, every house, and all that, you realize that that’s not the answer,” he said. “There’s a big nothing out there at the end of that. So, materialism doesn’t mean anything. A lot of people say that there’s a big God-sized hole in your heart. And when that’s filled, you’re really satisfied, and that’s where I am right now.

“God has a plan for everybody. I look at my life and I think, ‘How is it possible that I didn’t die?’” he said. “God’s chipping away at your life all the time to try to make you more like Him. That’s what a Christian is, a person that’s being molded and shaped all their life. I think the Lord expects you to do your best in His name. I had to struggle a long time about rock and roll. I realized it’s not really the music. It’s what’s being said with the music. So I think you have to be careful of what you’re writing, what you’re representing.” Read the rest of the macabre article.

She not only survived, she smiled

How-to-survive-in-a-single-parent-setting-with-joyBy Kayla Armstrong, LCA sophomore

Growing up I always seen kids with a mom and dad and always going out to eat and having a good time. Well believe it or not, I didn’t have that. My mom was my mother and father, and it was always just me and her.

My father was really never in the picture, wasn’t at my games, awards, or plays, etc. As a little girl, I had so many questions and wanted the feeling of what it was like to have a full-time father.

single-parent-home-and-not-suffering

I saw my dad a few times but not often. I remember the times where I would wait for him to pick me up but he never came. My dad and I were never close and even when he did pick me up, I would just be in my room for the whole weekend just watching TV and my dad and I wouldn’t really talk. It would be small talk like, “Are you hungry?”

It was embarrassing and made me very sad because I felt unwanted and felt like my dad didn’t love me or didn’t want me. But as I got older I was thankful he wasn’t in my life because my mom and I had a close relationship.

As time went by, my mother got married. I was happy because I had a father in my life, and he didn’t single me out because I was his “stepdaughter.” He treated me as if I was his own. We had a close relationship, and I got attached to him as if he were my biological father.

I was happy because I had someone to come to my volleyball games, there for my school recitals and if I got rewards and someone who can be there for me as a father.

In the middle of the year, things twisted, and the home wasn’t a “happy” home. There were lots of arguments, and next thing I know he was out of the house. I rebelled against everyone, especially God because I felt like God didn’t want me to be happy.

I felt like if He really loved me or was “real,” He would let our home be a happy home. Go to this link to find the happy ending and I invite you to comment there.

Grandma Krav Maga beat up bad guy. New version of Good Samaritan

baton-rouge-cop-saved-by-good-samaritanA Baton Rouge grandmother is being called a Good Samaritan after she plunged into the middle of a life-or-death struggle between a cop and bad guy, saving the officer’s life.

Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, didn’t think twice when she pounced on the back of a hulking Thomas Bennett after a routine drug arrest escalated suddenly into a dangerous fight for control of the officer’s weapon.

“I could see in his eyes he needed help,” said Williams-Tillman, who stopped her car, called 911, and lunged into the fray on Feb. 19. “You don’t have time to think about it. I did what God needed me to do.”

vickie-williams-tillmanThe grandmother pulled on Bennett’s arm as cop and suspect wrangled for the officer’s gun. All three fell to the ground.

Quickly, a backup unit pulled up and another officer stun-gunned the suspect, who was arrested on charges of battery on a police officer, resisting an officer with violence, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Baton Rouge Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome lauded the lady for fearlessly joining the brawl.

“Vickie Williams-Tillman epitomizes the true Good Samaritan,” the mayor said, as reported in The Blaze. She reached out and offered a courageous and unconditional response to the officer. Ms. Williams-Tillman is a hero and demonstrates the true meaning of loving God and loving your neighbor.”

Cpl. Billy Aime was handcuffing the suspect after spotting incriminating evidence when Bennett suddenly resisted arrest. The cop struggled without success to subdue the suspect. Read the rest of the article.

Kevin Hart Christian?

kevin-hartKevin Hart’s mother was going to help him with rent to kick-start his comedy career, but when the due date passed he called his mom, and all she could say was: “Have you been reading your Bible?”

A week later it was the same thing: “When you read your bible, then we’ll talk about your rent.”

Annoyed at his “over-religious” mom but desperate about an eviction note on his door, Kevin grudgingly sat down and opened the Good Book.

eniko-parrish-8-141“I go home and say, ‘Man let me open this Bible up,’” Hart explained to Oprah Winfrey. “Open the Bible up, six rent checks fell out. She put all my rent checks in the Bible.”

Score one for mom and the Lord!

Hart, the self-spoofing star of Real Husbands of Hollywood, doesn’t need Mom’s rent money anymore. He’s enjoyed a steady stream of movie roles starting with Paper Soldiers (2002), Scary Movie 3 the next year, Soul Plane (2004), In the Mix (2005) and Little Fockers (2010). He ranked as the highest paid comedian by Forbes, valued at $87.5 million.

In his latest gig, a quixotic Hart fails hilariously in his constant attempts to climb Hollywood’s social ladder.

And while he’s not overly vocal about his Christianity, Hart is believed to hold the values of his mother, even if he pokes fun at her zeal in comedy routines.

kevin-hart-heaven-and-hendrix“His whole family was dedicated to Christianity, and Hart uses his family’s faith as a frequent topic in his stand-up. He doesn’t make fun of Christianity itself, but he does make fun of how people can be hypocritical with religion (like his drug addict Jesus-loving cousin),” according to Hollowverse.

On that same day when the checks tumbled out of his Bible, Jesus tumbled out too.

Hart was born in Philadelphia in 1979 to a cocaine-addicted father who was in jail more than he was in Hart’s life.

As a teen growing up in a harsh reality, Hart resorted to humor as a coping mechanism. His love for slapstick eventually won several amateur comedy competitions on the East Coast until landed recurring role on the TV series Undeclared. Jump to the rest of the story.

Jesus for the San Fernando Valley

jesus-for-the-san-fernando-valleyI have been in a flurry of reporting and editing student reporters. I enjoy this. But I haven’t updated y’all on the progress of my start-up church. We have revival, despite myself. The church has doubled with the addition of another family, with lots of kids. They are kind people and have a heart for evangelism.

Do you want to evangelize the world? Go to Super King supermarkets in Los Angeles. It caters to immigrants with all kinds of exotic foods. We evangelized Arabs, Persians, Armenians, Greeks, Latins, Jews, Egyptians all in one night of evangelism recently.

img_4853It’s been too cold to meet at Lake Balboa, so we have been meeting in my apartment. Fortunately, it’s an old one, which means it’s spacious. The newer apartments are really small. We cram 20 people into that front room. Keep praying because it’s working!