Category Archives: Prayers and Encouragement

Christmas Eve – December 24th Meaning and Traditions

Why is Christmas Eve on December 24th?

The Bible does not clearly answer this question. Evidently, the first Christians didn’t make a point of celebrating the birth of Christ. If they knew the precise date of his birth, they didn’t make an issue of it. One writer notes that various leaders in the early church suggested the following dates for Jesus’ birth: January 2, January 6, March 21, March 25, April 18, April 19, May 20, May 28, November 17. All we can take from this is that the precise date was hidden and unknown to them even though they were much closer to the historical event than we are.

The traditional date of December 25 goes back as far as A.D. 273. Two pagan festivals honoring the sun were also celebrated on that day and it is possible that December 25 was chosen to counteract the influence of paganism. To this day some people feel uncomfortable with Christmas because they think it is somehow tainted by the pagan festivals held on that day. But Christians have long believed that the gospel not only transcends culture, it also transforms it. In A.D. 320 one theologian answered this criticism by noting, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.”

Having said that, you may ask, “Does it really matter?” In one sense, of course, the answer is no. No doctrine of the Christian faith rests upon knowing the exact day and year of Christ’s birth. And no stress is put upon the date of his birth in the New Testament. No one is ever told to celebrate Christmas. The emphasis always rests on the fact of his birth, not the date. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Christianity is a faith based on certain historical facts. Let us on this Christmas Eve rejoice in this great truth:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Pictured below: A portrait of the birth of Christ

Rejoice in the birth of Christ with a FREE 25 Days to a Joyful Christmas Prayer Guide! Download and print your free Devotional to help you focus your mind and heart on Jesus this holiday season. 

Origins of Christmas Eve

For centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world, beginning with this day, December 24, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening. Had not Moses written: “An evening and a morning were the first day”?

Christmas means “Christ-mass.” Although the date is a guess, the tradition of observing it goes back to at least the fourth century. Under the influence of the church, Christian traditions replaced pagan solstice festivals throughout Europe. Often the more innocent pagan practices (such as bringing in a Yule log, decorating with holly and the like) were carried over into the Christmas observance, transfigured with new meaning.

Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve (the evening before Christmas day) was then celebrated with roaring fires, story-telling, feasting, drinking, dancing, and sometimes clowning. Sir Walter Scott described its festive air in a poem:

On Christmas Eve, the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve, the mass was sung.

The damsel donned her kirtle sheen,
the hall was dressed with holly green;

All hail’d with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice the happy night
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

The History of Christmas Eve

Things weren’t always so pleasant, however. On Christmas Eve, 1521, with the Reformation gaining steam in Germany, crowds rioted in Wittenberg. Against the orders of Elector Frederick, Andreas Carlstadt had given them both the bread and wine at mass. Zealous for more “reformation,” the mob smashed church lamps, sang ridiculous songs to drown out the choir and intimidated the priests.

Luther is supposed to have cut the first Christmas tree. The story may be apocryphal, but we know that on Christmas Eve, 1538, he was in a jolly mood, singing and talking about the incarnation. Then he sighed, saying, “Oh, we poor men, that we should be so cold and indifferent to this great joy which has been given us.”

Despite Luther’s lament, others would make warm memories on Christmas Eve. In his memoirs, Sir John Reresby told how he invited his poor tenants for a feast on Christmas Eve, 1682. During World War I, the famous Christmas Truce began for many troops on Christmas Eve, 1914, demonstrating the power for good that is inherent in the season.

Portions of this article were adapted from Christmas Eve Then and Now by Dr. Ray Pritchard from

Learn more about the history and origin of the Christmas calendar dates.

Church in Malawi Built by Catholic Women

Catholic women have been meeting for their Annual General Assembly at the Bembeke Teachers Training College in the Diocese of Dedza. At the conclusion of the Assembly, the women resolved to enhance family life and support families in difficulty.

Women as protagonists in the Church

Officiating at the General Assembly of Malawi’s Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), Bishop Peter Adrian Chifukwa of the Diocese of Dedza acknowledged the role of Catholic women in the Church of Malawi. During the Eucharistic celebration, Bishop Chifukwa expressed his appreciation and esteem for the work of the CWO – Malawi in all eight dioceses of the country. He encouraged the ladies to forge ahead.

“Women are protagonists in the Church. If we look at families, the community, and the country, women have a crucial role to play daily. The Church is doing very well thanks to the contribution of the CWO,” said Bishop Chifukwa.

Many women suffer in silence

According to an Agenzia Fides report, the women’s Assembly discussed annual reports of each diocese, natural family planning methods, the importance of witnessing Christian conjugal love, child abuse and the correct use of social media.

“Child abuse is one of the dangers we are encountering in our families. Women should always speak up whenever they witness or experience any form of violence. I see many children and women who suffer in silence,” said politician and guest of honour at the Assembly, Juliana Lunguzi.

Use social media responsibly

CWO national president, Lucy Vokhiwa counselled on the correct use of social media.

“Let’s make sure our actions convince other people to join us. CWO members must use social media responsibly. The platform should be a tool to bring a message of salvation and hope,” said Vokhiwa.

Vokhiwa further urged the women to plant trees in their respective dioceses during the next rainy season. “It is very important to take care of creation, and each of us can and must do our part,” she advised.

Does God Have Regrets?

Joe submits a question essentially like this: “There are times in the Bible when God regretted things. For example, the Bible says that God regretted making humanity after seeing how sinful they became, leading God to wipe out all of humanity in Noah’s flood. God, who knows the future, had to know what was going to happen and how he would feel.  Right?”

Since the Bible indicates that God knows all things (i.e., God is omniscient), a fair question is often raised about God’s omniscience: Why are there times in the Bible where it seems like God didn’t know what was going to happen and even seems to regret certain outcomes? Let’s examine some places in the Bible where God seems to regret (or feel sorry about) certain outcomes and consider how this might fit with God’s omniscience.

In Genesis 6, God sees that humanity has become corrupt and had fallen into great wickedness (Gen. 6:5). Genesis 6:6 reports that “The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (NASV).  A similar sort of example is found in 1 Samuel 15:11 when God says: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” Did God not know that humanity would become so sinful before He created humans? Did God not know what Saul would do when He made Saul king?

These can certainly be puzzling passages because the Bible emphasizes that God knows all things—including the future. The prophet Isaiah emphasizes that God’s foreknowledge is important evidence that He is the one true God (Isa. 41:21-23). God says there is none like Him and emphasizes this by the fact that He knows from ancient times what is still to come (Isa. 46:9-10). David says that God foreknew every word that David would say even before he said it and that God foreknew the outcome of every one of David’s days (Ps. 139:4, 14-16). God also shows His foreknowledge.  For example, He reveals to Abraham that his descendants would become slaves in a foreign land for 400 years before eventually coming to the land God had promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:12-16). The Apostle Paul says that nobody can teach God anything and nobody is God’s counselor because God knows all things (Rom. 11:33-36). Likewise, Job 21:22 emphasizes that nobody can teach God anything.

So how might we reconcile the passages in Scripture that strongly emphasize God’s knowledge of all things (including the future) with the sort of passages in which God is “sorry” that He made sinful humanity (e.g. Genesis 6; 1 Samuel 15)? I think it is important when interpreting these stories not to think that our own sense of regret is identical to what God is experiencing. These stories ought not be seen as contradicting the clear teaching of Scripture about God’s foreknowledge. God did not regret making mankind or regret making Saul king in the sense that He thought He made a mistake and did not foresee how things would turn out. Since God has foreknowledge, He would have known these outcomes in advance; yet God allowed them to happen anyway in order to achieve His sovereign purposes. The history of the world and the history of Israel would have played out differently had God not allowed these events, and God may—for all we know—have achieved many important things by allowing these sinful actions (e.g., providing a lesson to future generations about how seriously God judges sin or setting the stage for Jesus to enter into the world in just the right situation in human history).

But that does not mean that God did not truly have some kind of “regret” in these situations (even if it is not identical to a human sort of regret). God hates sin and certainly would have preferred that the people involved did not sin. He wishes that they had made better decisions. But that does not mean that He did not know what would happen and did not factor these outcomes into His plans. For example, God knew Joseph’s brothers would sin by selling Joseph into slavery, and God certainly was displeased with the brothers and would prefer that they would not act sinfully toward Joseph. Yet God allowed them to act in this way, and in the end Joseph specifically states that God allowed the brothers to do their evil because God intended to achieve a good outcome through their sinful choices (Gen. 50:20).

So God truly was “sorry” (in a sense) about the way these events turned out. He did find it lamentable and perturbing how Saul chose to act as king and how humanity at the time of the flood chose to behave (just as He disapproved of the sinful actions of Joseph’s brothers). But God foreknew these events and allowed these events to be part of human history in order for God to achieve His good purposes in the end. From a human point of view, we do not know the future and our “regret” is different from God’s. We discover new information as we go. But God’s regret is not exactly like ours. It is not based on learning new information and wishing He had done things differently. It is based on wishing we would do things differently and not sin—even though He knows when people will sin and chooses to allow our sinful actions as He works out His sovereign plans.

In these cases in which the biblical author seems to describe God as regretting something and it seems as though God did not know what would happen, it is anthropomorphic language. Anthropomorphic language (describing God using human terms) is used sometimes in the Bible. For example, God does not literally have an arm (Job 40:9) or nostrils (2 Sam. 22:9). We understand how we regret things, and by describing God as regretting His actions, it allows us to get a sense of how God feels about these sinful actions. There is some analogy between God’s sense of regret and our own, even though they are not perfectly analogous. God is infinite in knowledge and incapable of learning new information; by contrast, humanity is finite and needs to learn new things.

Zach Breitenbach, Assistant Director of Room For Doubt and an adjunct teacher at Lincoln Christian University

These Rules Will Change Your Marriage

Today I want to share with you 7 thoughts that, if we really understood them, could transform your marriage.

1. God is your Father-in-Law

We like to think of God as our Father, our Daddy, our Abba. That’s all very true. God is our Father, and He does love us, and care for us, and listen to our prayers, and want the best for us. He is going to bat for us.

But do you realize that God is also our Father-in-law?

He’s also your husband’s Father. And that means that He really cares about your husband, and He really loves your husband, and He listens to your husband’s heart cry as well. I imagine that one day, I’m going to stand before God, and He’s going to gently talk to me about Keith. He’ll say, “what did you do to care for my son? How did you love my son?”

I so desperately hope that God will be pleased with the way I treated His son.

I once read a quote from author Sally Clarkson, who asked, “what if the greatest act of worship you could do today is to love your husband?” And it very well could be. God loves your husband, and He planned for your husband to have someone to help him, to encourage him, to inspire him, to love him. God wants someone to appreciate your husband, and to urge him on in faith and in love. And that someone, that He has especially prepared for the task, is you.

2. I Can’t Change Him; I Can Only Change Me.

Has this thought ever entered your head: “I’d be happy if only he’d…” or “I’ll be happy as soon as he….” If you can fill in the blank, you may have a problem.

What you’re really saying is, “I won’t be happy until he….” You’re making a decision to place your happiness and your sense of peace outside of yourself and into someone else’s hands. You’re waiting for him to change.

The problem with that is that you can’t make anybody else change. Magazine covers don’t believe this; they’re filled with articles like, “7 Ways to Make Your Man More Romantic” or “How To Get Him to Help Around the House” or whatever else it may be. They’re focusing on you making him into the kind of person you want to be.

But that attitude is poison for a marriage. When you give  your husband the idea: ” you are making me unsatisfied. You are failing me,” he will tend to retreat. He’d rather do things in his area of competence.

What if you’re really unhappy with the way things are? I understand. But nagging and withholding affection and becoming bitter cannot bring about positive change in a marriage. Here’s what can: changing yourself. You can change how you choose to react to him. You can change how you organize the house if you feel that too much is being asked of you. You can get more hobbies if you find yourself relying too much on your husband for adult conversation. (I cover all of this, and more, in my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum).

When you change, you also change the dynamic in the marriage, and that, in and of itself, may bring change in how he reacts to you, too. But insisting that he become someone else will only make you miserable.

3. What if Marriage is Meant for Holiness more than Happiness?

When you walked down that aisle, chances are you were thinking, “this is the man who will make me happy for the rest of my life.” That’s why we get married! We find someone that we feel happy with.

What happens, though, when you’ve been married for a while and you find you have different ideas on how to spend your free time, or your money? You have different ideas on showing each other love, on what sex means, or on how much you each should do around the house. And you feel unloved and unappreciated.

Does that mean the marriage is bad? Absolutely not! That’s quite natural. We all have different expectations going into marriage. But perhaps God didn’t make marriage to make us happy; as Gary Thomas says in Sacred Marriage, maybe it’s God’s best vehicle to make us holy. For a marriage to work, we each need to meet the other person’s needs. As we do that, the marriage becomes stronger, we become better people, and you may just find that happiness after all.

4. You will Never Drift Together; You will Only Ever Drift Apart.

A few years ago I read about an experiment off of the coast of Brazil. They dropped two bottles into the ocean off of a boat at exactly the same time. The bottles had messages in them–contact this phone number for a reward. One bottle washed up on the coast of Ecuador 100 days later (it went north west). The other bottle went across the Atlantic Ocean, around Africa, and washed up on Tanzania a year later. They started in the same place; they ended up half a world way.

We work the same way. Unless we consciously try to stay close together, we will drift. Drifting is natural; if you want to stop the drift, you have to be intentional.

Most couples stop doing things together as soon as they’re married. Don’t. Now’s the time that you have to be even more intentional about staying close. Do things together–anything–everyday. Make sure you laugh. Find hobbies. Talk. Just be together, or you will find yourselves half a world apart without even realizing how it happened.

5. The Marriage Comes Before the Kids.

As soon as children are born they take so much of our attention and energy. They’re needy, they’re demanding, and they’re ever so lovable. But don’t ever make the mistake of prioritizing them over the marriage.

The fact that you have kids means that your marriage matters more, not less, because now other people are counting on you. And what kids need more than anything else is stability. When their parents’ relationship is strong, they are free to grow, and explore, and learn without worry.

Your children are only given to you for a time, and yes, you have to love them. But the marriage relationship is the one that will endure until death. Children will move on; you sure don’t want your spouse to. So nurture the marriage first, even once kids come. It’s important–especially to them.

6. If You Win a Battle, You Often Lose the War.

Here’s one I still struggle with: I like to win fights. I think at heart it’s because I have rejection issues, and if Keith is upset at me, my goal is to prove to him why he’s completely and totally wrong. After all, if he sees that he has no reason to be upset, then why would he leave? (For the record, Keith would never leave, but I think this is what goes on in my subconscious).

I’m also a very good debater. I listen really well during fights–but I listen for loopholes so that I can blow his argument to shreds. It doesn’t matter if he’s just talking about how he feels; I can prove he’s wrong.

For the first few years I’m sure I won every fight. But it didn’t seem to be working. Keith was retreating inside himself, and I couldn’t hear his heart anymore. And over the years I’ve learned that you can win the battle but lose the war. When you keep winning, you sometimes drive someone away, because if one person wins and one person loses, you both lose. A relationship is about two people feeling loved, appreciated, and accepted. If you constantly push down someone’s feelings, you’re destroying that relationship–even if technically you are in the right.

So now I’ve learned sometimes just to listen and acknowledge his feelings, and then just shut up. I’ve learned that we need to find the win-win, not the win-lose.

7. I Can Determine My Thoughts

Did you know we aren’t slave to our thoughts? We can change them.

During my pregnancy with our second child we found out that he had a severe heart defect (he later passed away at a month of age). All through that pregnancy I was a wreck. Someone, I can’t even remember who now, suggested that I start a gratitude journal, writing five things that I was thankful for everyday, even if that day was bad.

And I did.

I even wrote it when Christopher was in the hospital. Here’s one day:

  • Feeding Christopher. Getting to hold him, away from the tubes, and give him his bottle. His eyes opened while he ate!
  • Becca wanting to cuddle that night
  • A beautiful sunset as we were walking home
  • The way Christopher fought the nurse when she tried to give him his medicine. He hates it! I love that he shows spunk
  • Having a friend drop off spaghetti for us

He went into surgery three days later. Those were some of the hardest days of my life, and yet everyday I focused on what to be grateful for, because I knew at the end of the day I’d have to make a list. And so I found myself searching for things to be grateful for. In fact, most days I remember having to choose the five best, not search for five, because I had spent the day trying to think of little blessings.

Marriage works the same way. When you are looking for things to praise, you will find things to praise. When you are looking for things to be grateful for, you will find things to be grateful for. So if you’ve been in a funk, always noticing the negative, let me give you this challenge: everyday, tell your husband one thing that you’re thankful for about him. And write down five. (you can tell him all five if you want!). But make it a practice to be grateful, and you will find your attitude changing.

There you go: seven thoughts that will change a marriage. There’s so much more, of course, that goes into a great marriage, and I’ve written a ton about sex and conflict resolution and friendship and more. But our thoughts determine our actions. Get our thoughts in line, and it’s easier for those other things to also fall into place!

Post first published at To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Used with permission.

Sheila Wray Gregoire is a marriage blogger, speaker, writer, and mom. The author of seven books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, she loves encouraging women to strive for the kind of real intimacy in marriage that God designed. When she’s not blogging at To Love, Honor and Vacuum, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Pastor Gives Sermon While His House Burns in the Background

Pastor Sammy Smith, founder of Grace Cathedral Ministries in Piedmont, South Carolina, live-streamed a video of his house engulfed in flames just before church on Sunday morning, November 7, 2021.

Nearby neighbors helped by grabbing garden hoses and spraying water on the flames raging through the upstairs windows until firefighters arrived.

Nevertheless, Smith didn’t let the inferno stop him from preaching in a video that has received over 14,000 views, nor did he allow it to disrupt his plans to worship and preach at his church later that morning.

“Hey everybody, it’s Apostle Sammy Smith,” the pastor said in his livestream. “[I’m] standing in front of the ruins of my, used to be, house. God kept everybody — everybody’s out, safely out — the house is probably pretty much destroyed. But God got us out.”

When most would have been devastated, Smith took the moment to speak God’s truth into people’s lives. With a smile on his face he told those watching, “God’s will always has to be done. Sometimes we don’t understand His will, but His will is [going to] be done. I got church out here. I got my neighbors out here. Everybody out here is just, you know, loving on us. Trucks down the street — we done blocked the street off. The firefighters were wonderful. We got everything done.”

“I am doing church this morning,” Smith said. He then joked that he wouldn’t be able to shave, though.

Smith reiterated that God is always good no matter what, saying that he didn’t know his sermon would start before he even got to church. “I just want everybody to know that God is good and that He’s blessing us and it’s gonna be alright. I always say He’ll make a way, [and] sometimes we don’t understand. Like I’ve been saying recently, God may not put the blessing in your hand, but He’ll put it in your reach.”

“So we will see what the Lord is saying from this point. We’ll keep on believing God,” Smith said. “Had a wonderful women’s conference yesterday, and [I’m] going to church today. You all just pray for us. You know that the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous avails much. I never thought that this would happen. I’m 64-years-old [and] I’ve never seen a house burn — I’ve never seen my house burn. God has always blessed us.”

Smith shared that the house is only four years old, and he is unsure of his family’s next steps. However, he assured everyone watching that he’ll “be alright. I heard someone say [a] house could be replaced lives cannot [and] everybody’s out and we’re just out here and it’ll be alright.”

“God will create something to open a door for you and sometimes you may think it’s something adverse and something that’s terrible,” Smith said during a Tuesday evening sermon, less than three days after the fire. “Our adversity is His advertisement. He advertises through each and everyone of you.”

One of Grace Cathedral Ministries’ church members said that while the church could be mourning, they are rejoicing that no one was hurt, adding that “God saved [them].”

In a follow-up video, Smith expressed his amazement at the fact that over 12,000 people watched his livestream, saying, “When I preach, I might get four or five hundred people looking.” He joked with his leadership laughingly saying, “Maybe I need some more fire in my preaching — I got to burn down something every week.”

The pastor continued by saying, “God has a way of bringing attention to you, and I want you all to know that He’s about to bring some attention to you. And when He brings this attention to you He’s gonna let you shine.”

The pastor let people know that the fire won’t stop him from doing the Lord’s work, sharing that he doesn’t plan to miss any of his scheduled speaking engagements. Smith said, “We aren’t going to let no little fire stop us. It’s like fire in my bones!”

Smith said the fire was accidental and suspects it started from a heater or electronics near his daughter’s bed. His daughter and godson lost all their possessions in the fire.

Watch Smith’s full livestream below.

5 Areas of Your Life Satan Wants to Enter

If Satan isn’t anything else, he’s a manipulator. He knows how to get in our heads and control our thoughts. Satan wants nothing more than to move into certain areas of your life so he can achieve a stronghold. He’ll try anything to throw you off course to distract you from your focus. He wants to get into your head so he can keep you as far from God as he can. However, there are some areas of your life that Satan attacks more than others. As long as you’re aware of his strategies, we can be on guard to keep him out of his targeted entry points. Here are the areas of your life that Satan wants to get ahold of and keep to himself.

Your Worries

Satan wants you to be constantly stressed out. By being stressed out, you’re not resting in God’s ability to take care of you. Women tend to worry about things like bills getting paid and their children. On the other hand, men worry about their jobs and providing for their families. There are also health concerns, fears about aging parents, and different situations on our minds. These worries can drown out God’s peace in our lives and even cause us to blame God for our problems. Satan wants doubt to weave through your mind and control you. Don’t let Satan get to you with what-if questions. Instead, keep praying about your concerns and thank God for what He’s about to do in your life. This way, Satan doesn’t get a hold of your mind.

There are quite a few people that claim to know God and follow Him, but their thought patterns say otherwise. Their thinking patterns mirror those of anyone else in the world. Satan basks in that idea. He wants you to be so absorbed with the ways of the world that you’re clueless about The Word of God and what it says. He’ll accomplish this through subtle messages in music, statements from your favorite celebrities, and words of advice from your friends. The Scripture reminds us that we shouldn’t copy the behavior and customs of the world. Instead, you should let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Satan would rather have us in mental agony by listening to the world instead of following the Word of God. The best way to guard Satan against your thoughts is to soak your mind in God’s Word. Washing your mind in God’s Word will keep Satan and his worldly philosophies from getting in.

Your Speech

God wants us to be holy ambassadors for Him. He wants his people to heal and help others with our words. However, Satan would rather have you speak negatively. By participating in gossip and using profanity, we give Satan permission to make us people who tear others apart and sound no different than nonbelievers. The devil knows that we can cause a lot of damage with our mouths if we don’t get them under control. Whether it’s gossip or criticism, our mouths can be instruments of righteousness or unrighteousness. Ephesians 4:29 says that we shouldn’t let any unwholesome talk come from our mouths, but only what helps build others up. Whenever you feel like you’re about to engage in gossip or criticism, remember Ephesians 4:29. That will stop any critical spirit that gives Satan refuge in our lives.

Your Body

When people get depressed, they tend to overeat, drink heavily, or start using substances. Overeating or heavy drinking is Satan’s way of turning us against our bodies to get back at God. Satan knows that our bodies are precious to God. Romans 12:1 says that we should give our bodies to God and let them be a living and holy sacrifice. When we think of what God has done for us, it’s the least we can do. Satan knows that God sees our bodies as His temple, and God wants us to keep our bodies holy and healthy. Because our bodies are sacred to God, Satan wants to harm them in any way he can. Don’t let Satan in. Instead, ask God for a healthy body image and a desire to protect your body so you can serve Him on Earth for as long as possible.

Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts because everything we do flows from our heart. Satan knows he has an entry point into your life if God isn’t first in your heart. God’s first commandment under the Old Covenant was to never put any other gods before Him. Jesus restated this idea under the New Covenant when He asked what the greatest commandment is. He said we should love the Lord with all of our heart and soul. Satan’s greatest desire is to prevent you from giving God all of your heart, so he will constantly dangle distractions in front of you to create a false god.

Put Your Faith in God

Satan is a manipulator and a con artist. He has a way of trying to get into your mind and make you feel things that aren’t real. He wants you to believe that God doesn’t love you and that He doesn’t care about you. He’ll use anything he can to get into your mind and try to take over. However, you can’t let Satan win. You have to remember that God is always on your side, no matter what Satan says. 

The best way to stop Satan from entering these areas of your life is to follow Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6:11-18. This verse says that we must put on the whole armor of God so we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. We must cover ourselves in God’s character and righteousness. Above everything else, we must remember that we are God’s children, and He loves us. When you feel Satan trying to creep into your life, pray for God to keep him away from you and to keep you near Him.

Magic Johnson Reflects on Faith and Living with HIV for 30 Years

Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson recently recognized the 30th anniversary of his retirement from the NBA following his HIV diagnosis.

On Sunday, Johnson, now 62, took to social media to reflect on how God has used the past three decades of his life.

“God has really blessed me! Today marks 30 years living with HIV, so the message resonated with me in such a tremendous way. I thank the Lord for keeping me, giving me strength, and guiding me for 62 years but especially the last 30,” Johnson wrote in a series of tweets.

“Through it all, I learned to trust in Jesus, and I learned to trust in God!” he added.

When Johnson announced his retirement on Nov. 7, 1991, he was one of the top stars in the NBA, having won five championships, three league MVP awards, and been declared an All-Star 11 times. He is considered to be one of the greatest NBA players of all time.

According to Sports Spectrum, Johnson’s rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird helped grow the popularity of the NBA.

Johnson’s diagnosis with HIV came at a time when the disease was widely misunderstood, and little research had been done on how it was contracted or spread.

Following his retirement, Johnson established the Magic Johnson Foundation in 1991 to raise public awareness about HIV and AIDS.

As stated on its website, the foundation “develops programs and supports community-based organizations that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities.”

Johnson, an outspoken Christian, is a member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ in LA. In 2019, he stepped down from his role as president of operations with the Lakers so that he and his wife, Cookie, could devote themselves to serving their church community.

“It’s truly a blessing when you know what direction you’re going in,” Johnson told Charisma News at the time. “It’s such a change for me because now when I go to speak to corporations, I lead off by praising the Lord … You can touch somebody else to praise the Lord.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Isaac Brekken/Stringer

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.

Could Christianity Solve America’s Racial Divide?

Bishop Derek Grier of Grace Church in Dumfries, Virginia, recently held a series of discussions with a variety of Bible experts regarding racial strife United States and how Christians can be part of the solution.

Among those interviewed by Grier, the founder of 50 ministries, was Courtney McBath, the president of Virginia Bible College and bishop of Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, Virginia.

When asked why people might be unaware of the multiculturalism in the Bible, McBath said he finds that it’s due to an educational problem. 

“Like everything else, it’s a lack of teaching and training, and it’s the context and perspective of the training that we have. Part of the struggle of today is that so much of the Gospel was introduced to the world by a segment of people,” said McBath, who’s served as a pastor for more than 30 years and is the head of a multicultural leadership network on five continents. 

“When people go somewhere to introduce the Gospel, they tend to take not only the Gospel but their culture. All of us tend to make the Bible or whoever our heroes are look like us,” McBath added. 

The pastor said he believes that God purposely placed the Middle East in the center of the world to help the Gospel go forth. 

“I think God did set it up geographically where you had to go through this place to get anywhere else, and it takes someone with an apostolic flair like Paul to be put in the middle to get to other places,” he said. “It’s as if God intentionally made sure that this Kingdom message would go everywhere and not be limited to any one particular culture.”

McBath encouraged minorities impacted by racism to speak up about their experience, adding: “I would never say to the Jewish people, ‘Hey, now let’s just stop talking about the Holocaust. I mean it happened, people died, but they paid you well afterward. Let’s move on.’ That would be so insensitive, so unfair to ask people to forget the level of suffering they endured and to pretend that it has no impact on them today.”

Christians should be empathetic, feel the pain of others and help those suffering to get through their pain, he emphasized.

“That’s Jesus’ work in my life — to be empathetic toward my suffering and bring me out of it,” the pastor contended. “So, I think when we do that for our brothers and sisters in any minority or in the majority — if they’re hurting — when we do that, we simply represent Christ in us.”

“Jesus never says, ‘Hey, just forget that you were wronged. Get over it; we’re moving on.’ He doesn’t do that and we shouldn’t either,” McBath concluded.

Bishop Grier also interviewed Samuel Rodriguez, the pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. 

Atheism Is a Con Game, Like Selling the Brooklyn Bridge

It’s not for me to say why every single atheist ended up where he is. My guess is “wishful thinking,” since in my dark times I’ve wished that way, too. As I’ve written here before, atheist materialism can seem positively appealing in certain situations:

  • When I’m tempted to despair of my salvation, afraid that I won’t make the “not-Hell place.” (I’m afraid that’s the extent of my mental picture of heaven, though I’m hoping for beagles.)
  • When someone presents what seems like a compelling argument that only a tiny percentage of all humans are saved.
  • Or when I find it difficult to laugh off religious assertions that fail my “brimstone test” That is, the point at which one says, If that were really what Christianity taught, I’d lose faith in the whole thing. In fact, I’d actively hope that it wasn’t true.

At moments like these, my little Darwin emerges and whispers reassuringly: “Maybe it’s all nonsense. Maybe we just get born and then … just die. Endless, dreamless sleep, where nothing matters and you have nothing to fear.”

Sorry, Fellas

No such luck, though. Reading Eric Metaxas’ new book, Is Atheism Dead? drove a stake through the heart of that grim hope. There is simply too much evidence, emerging from cosmology, biology, and biblical archaeology, making nonsense of quaint 19th-century claims by the likes of Darwin, Marx, and Freud. See Eric’s book for the details on all those subjects, however. He recounts them with verve and brio, and sends you to the sources to learn more for yourself.

I just want to address one gaping hole in the credibility of basic atheist arguments on the most central topic possible, and show how their worldview is a snake that eats its own tail, then simply vanishes, Poof! into nothingness. Just special pleading and nonsense, and a willful rejection of truth.

This commonplace atheist, materialist claim is one that’s extremely familiar. In fact, it’s drilled into our heads by many authorities in our culture, to the point that even Christians might unconsciously half believe it. Or at least suspect that it’s true. It has the same superficial plausibility as “Four legs good, two legs bad!” to the critters in Animal Farm. Or “My body, my choice!” to the creatures in a women’s studies lounge. But like those slogans, it’s nonsense.

To show you that, I’ll defamiliarize this atheist claim, present it with a new light and different angle by means of analogy. That will strip it of the spurious credibility it gained by getting repeated by those with power, and expose its inner gibberish. Okay? Here goes.

“Science” Is Calling

Imagine your phone rings, and it’s an unfamiliar number. But your caller ID announces something impressive, like “Genius Grants Dispensing Division, Macarthur Foundation.” You can’t resist taking the call. So you answer, and the following conversation ensues.

Caller: “Hello, my name is Professor Paul Pennyfeather, of the MacArthur Foundation. And I have a very special message for you.”

You: “Me? Er, why?”

“Because our foundation exists to promote science, technology, social justice and public awareness. And there’s something you need to be aware of.”

“So you don’t have a grant for me or anything?”

“Of course not. You’re no genius. You’re just someone who answers phone calls from total strangers.”

“Guilty as charged, I guess. So what are you calling to tell me?”

“That all telephone service worldwide has gone down due to a targeted EMP blast, conducted by terrorists using stolen Chinese technology. Only the terrorists now have the power to make telephone calls, because of that same technology. We thought you deserved to know. In fact, we’re letting everyone know. Do not trust any phone calls you receive. They are terrorist propaganda, or worse.”

“But … how is this possible? You’re not in with the terrorists, using their same technology, are you?”

“No, of course not. This is a public service message, from one of the largest philanthropic foundations on earth. We’re only trying to protect the public from fraud and calls for panic.”

“So how are you making this call, if you’re not in with the terrorists?”

“Sir, I told you. We are the MacArthur Foundation.”

“But you just said that phone service is down, except for unreliable messages from terrorists.”

“Obviously, that does not apply to this phone call, Sir. Someone with a scientific education would realize that.”

“But how does Science have anything to do with this?”

“We consult with and fund some of the leading researchers on earth, and work closely with the faculty of the top universities in the U.S. and around the world. Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford professors serve on our consulting committees.”

“Yeah, but I don’t get how that’s relevant here. Based on what you yourself have said, I have no reason to trust you.”

“[Sighing] Your reaction here is disappointing but it doesn’t really surprise me. We have gotten similar answers from fundamentalist churches, extremist mosques, and people without college educations. I’m sorry to hear that you share their emotion-driven, anti-Science stance. I’m thankful that attitudes like yours do not prevail in public schools, so that at least the next generation will be exposed to a rational, evidence-based worldview.”

“But you contradicted yourself… .”

6 Miracles Modern Science Can’t Explain

Many Christians have given up believing in miracles.

For them, the age of miracles belongs to the early church, when awe-inspiring events—like Moses parting the red sea, the virgin birth, and Jesus rising from the dead—confirmed the authenticity and divine nature of God and Jesus.

But just because we don’t see phenomena of biblical proportions occurring today does not mean that God has left the business of miracles. From second chances at life to scientifically unexplained mysteries, these real-life stories are powerful reminders that God is at work in modern times, and that we must never give up hope and faith.

A “mysterious voice” led rescuers to find child who survived for 14 hours in submerged car.

Icy Stream

In March 2015, Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck, 25, lost control of her car and landed in the icy Spanish Fork River in Utah. 

Fourteen hours later, first responders found her 18-month-old daughter, Lily, in her car seat hanging upside down just above frigid river water.

Prior to finding Lily, both police officers and firefighters report that they heard an adult voice yell “Help me!” from inside the car.

They discovered that the voice could not have come from the young mother, who likely died from the impact.

The rescuers still can’t explain the voice or how the girl survived hanging upside-down for 14 hours in freezing temperatures without being dressed for the cold.

A woman who came back to life after having no pulse for 45 minutes.

Heart monitor

Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro, 40, fell unconscious from a rare amniotic fluid embolism during a cesarean section in September 2014 at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Florida. 

Doctors tried to revive Graupera-Cassimiro for three hours. After 45 minutes without a pulse, doctors decided to invite her family into the operating room to say their last goodbyes. 

Then what doctors are calling a “miracle” occurred — her heart began beating on its own. 

Graupera-Cassimiro has revealed that during the experience, she felt herself floating along a tunnel and seeing spiritual beings, including her father, surrounded in light. 

What’s even more incredible is that Graupera-Cassimiro suffered no brain damage and made a full recovery. Her baby girl is also healthy and happy. 

A boy who fell into an icy stream was resuscitated after nearly two hours of CPR.

patient in bed IV drip

Gardell Martin, 22-months-old, was playing with his siblings outside his parents’ home in Mifflinburg, PN, in March 2015 when he fell into a gushing creek with 34-degree water. 

Gardell was found a quarter of a mile away by a neighbor, unconscious and without a pulse. Emergency personnel were called to the scene and immediately began performing CPR, which continued uninterrupted for 101 minutes as they transported him via an ambulance and a helicopter to a hospital.  

His body’s temperature upon arrival was 77-degrees, well below the normal temperature of 98.6-degrees. After doctors gradually warmed the boy over 24 hours—he remarkably woke up without any apparent signs of neurological damage.

The power of community prayer sparked a healing miracle that doctors can’t explain.

Ambulance light

he end of Grayson Kirby seemed inevitable when he was thrown from a demolition derby car at the Mid-Atlantic Power Festival in Ruckersville, VA, in June 2014. 

The accident left him in a coma. His lungs were crushed and nearly every other bone in his body was broken. His brain also suffered multiple strokes and hemorrhages and his kidneys were failing. If he did wake up, he would likely—to put it bluntly—be a vegetable. 

But his family refused to give up and turned to prayer. Thousands of people in the community and beyond kept Kirby in their thoughts and prayers and wore red shirts designed to show support for the injured man.

In a final attempt to revive Kirby, doctors hooked him up to a machine typically used for transplant patients, not trauma patients. Whether it was due to a divine intervention or medical intervention (or both), it worked. 

Ten days after the accident, Kirby opened his eyes and mouthed the words, “I love you,” to his father. 

The doctors couldn’t believe it, and neither could Kirby. 

“I’m humble, I’m grateful, just amazed.” Kirby said. “I know that God saved me. I know that prayer and believing saved me.”

Vatican confirms Colorado boy was healed by nun from the beyond the grave.

Nun praying rosary

The Roman Catholic Church has a rigid, formalized vetting process when evaluating miracles, which are defined as divine events that have no natural or scientific explanation. Investigating a single miracle could take years.  

After a 14-year process, the Vatican released its verdict on a young boy’s sudden recovery from a debilitating gastrointestinal condition: It was a miracle. 

Doctors tried everything: antibiotics, diets, and tests. But it seemed nothing could stop 4-year-old Luke Burgie from literally wasting away in 1998.

The eight to 10 violent bouts of diarrhea he experienced every day for six months forced him to drop out of preschool. After doctors began to suspect cancer, the boy’s mother, a devout Catholic, began looking outside of medicine for a cure. She asked nuns to pray for Luke.

Sister Margaret Mary Preister and the late Sister Evangeline Spenner knew what to do. They asked the founder of their order, Mother Theresia Bonzel, a German nun who lived 100 years ago, to intervene. The nuns prayed a novena, a nine-day vigil, asking Bonzel to heal Luke.

As soon as their novena was complete, Luke woke up and his stomach no longer hurt him. The illness never returned. 

“I knew immediately that it was a miracle,” mother Jan Burgie said.

God shows man the power of marriage during life-threatening hold up.

Rings on Bible

We’ve all heard that married people live longer. But for one man, marriage literally saved his life.

Donnie Register was working the cash register at his store located in the Antique Market in Jackson, Miss., when two men walked in and held him at gunpoint and demanded money.

A shot was fired at Register’s head as he threw up his hands. Remarkably, his wedding ring deflected the bullet. Pieces of the bullet lodged into his neck and fingers, but none of his injuries were fatal. 

Register, who has been married for 38 years, doesn’t chalk it up to luck. He believes his marriage saved his life.

“I knew being married was a good thing,” he said. “I just didn’t know it was that good.”

His wife gives God all the credit, and says this story is a good reminder that men should always wear their wedding rings.


These stories are powerful reminders that nothing is impossible when it comes to God.  

In the Bible Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.” (Matthew 17:20). 

Miracles happen when you believe in God. Your faith can move mountains.