Even as an adult, I love fireworks — the small ones fascinate me, too. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take in the moving and heart-stirring fireworks display in Washington, D.C. Our nation's capital seems to be the most fitting place for fireworks and all they represent: rocket's red glare, bombs bursting in air, freedom, honor, sacrifice, drama, wonder and celebration. I let my mind drift back to the courageous days of our forefathers. Lights, colors and sounds on the outside and feeling and emotion on the inside.
Throughout America this week, we celebrate our country's birthday and commemorate winning our freedom from England. Freedom is a wonderful feeling, a state (literally and figuratively) of mind and a privilege. I taught overseas in Kenya after the bombing of the U.S. Embassy, in Uganda while a civil war was raging, and in Iraq during the war and U.S. occupation in 2007. Until I visited and lived with people in these oppressed and persecuted areas, I really didn't understand the magnitude and insidious ramifications of persecution or the powerful meaning of freedom.
Freedom has a different meaning for each person, but the universal definition centers on messages such as; "I have no master." "I get to call the shots." "I am in control of my own destiny." Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you. If we look deep in our hearts, we are already aware of this sobering reality—we aren't really free. It's just a trick. We will always serve a master. God designed us—and wired into our DNA—the desire and need to worship Him. Satan knows how God wired us and takes advantage of this ingrained characteristic by putting many inadequate options in front of us. The first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," is God's warning and instruction regarding Satan's insurgent attack on our hearts and minds. more >>
NEW YORK — Guatemala, home to about 14.6 million people, has been plagued for decades by gang violence, some of it mindless, according to the confessions of gangsters featured in the powerful and gritty Nadus Films documentary, BBoy for Life. Coury Deeb, who co-produced and directed the film, captured the stories of everyday Guatemalans who have found an alternative to the pervasive gang life by breakdancing, a defiant act that could still cost them their lives.
"Here in Guatemala, you take a risk dancing," explains Cheez, one of the protagonists in BBoy for Life and the main organizer of his breakdancing Poker Crew. "There are gangsters. … The gangs don't like this — they really don't. If they see me dance in my neighborhood, they threaten me with death."
Gangsters locked up in a maximum security prison, "somewhere outside of Guatemala City," back up Cheez's statement. more >>
One of baseball's greatest hitters of all time died recently at the age of 54. Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn hit over .300 for 19 consecutive seasons, something only the legendary Ty Cobb accomplished.
Before passing away, he recorded a video message appealing for baseball players not to follow his example with smokeless tobacco, which most certainly was the cause of his death from mouth cancer.
Dying declarations can have a profound effect. It's the time when people are most honest and what they say matters the most. Already All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg has vowed to quit his nasty tobacco chewing habit! more >>
President Barack Obama said that he will continue fighting for immigration reform on his own after House Republicans refused to vote on a bipartisan bill this year. House Speaker John Boehner, who has been urged by Christian groups to allow such a vote, has called Obama's decision "sad and disappointing."
"If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours," Obama said on Monday, according to The Associated Press.
Boehner, R-Ohio, said that he informed Obama last week that the House would not be taking up immigration legislation this year, for which he blamed the White House. more >>
North Korea has said it will put on trial two American tourists charged with "perpetrating hostile acts" against the country. One of the tourists was detained for leaving a Bible behind in his hotel room.
"The significance of these arrests and trials cannot be overstated: North Korea is choosing to publicly blame Christian missionaries for its human rights problems and internal difficulties," Seoul USA CEO Pastor Eric Foley told The Christian Post in an email on Monday.
"There are important lessons to be learned from the arrests by Christians seeking to reach North Korea in the future. Now is not the time to comment on the strategies of those being detained. But what we can conclude with certainty is that there is no 'back door' into North Korea – no strategy for sharing the gospel there that does not involve paying the highest of personal prices. This is what North Korean underground Christians have known and practiced for years." more >>
A Catholic church in St. Paul, Minnesota, that closed last year has reopened its doors as a mosque.
The 127-year-old Church of St. John closed in 2013 when it merged with another church due to declining membership. Last Friday the building reopened as Darul-Uloom Islamic Center.
"There are a lot of East Africans in the area, and we want to give them a place to worship, a place to be educated, a community space," center spokesman Feisal M. Elmi told The Associated Press. more >>