God Reports

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Posted 11/6/13 at 2:18 PM | Mark Ellis

Kirsten Powers’ reluctant journey from atheism

By Mark Ellis

She worked for the Clinton administration, became a liberal pundit for the Daily Beast and a regular Democratic contributor to Fox News. On top of that, all her friends were agnostics or atheists. So when God pursued and won her reluctant heart, she was more surprised than anyone else.

“If there was one thing in which I was completely secure, it was that I would never adhere to any religion—especially to evangelical Christianity, which I held in particular contempt,” writes Kirsten Powers, in a first-person account of her conversion published in Christianity Today.

The daughter of archeologist parents, she attended the Episcopal Church in Fairbanks, Alaska, but never really believed. Whatever shred of nominal faith she possessed was due to respect for her father, a brilliant man who taught himself to speak and read Russian.

After her father began to express his own doubts about Christianity while she was in college, she fell headlong into unbelief. FULL POST

Posted 11/5/13 at 1:53 PM | Mark Ellis

Anne Ortlund ascends to heavenly joy, reunited with Jesus and her beloved Ray

By Mark Ellis

Popular author and Christian ministry leader Anne Ortlund passed into the arms of her Savior last night, one month away from her 90th birthday.

She faced several health issues in the last few years – including kidney disease and bone cancer — with grace, courage, and a longing for heaven that inspired friends and family.

The daughter of U.S. Army Brigadier General Joseph B. Sweet, she became a ‘general’ in God’s army, influencing a generation of younger women in the faith through small group discipleship, and her writing and speaking.

“Mom reached tens of thousands of people for Christ through her books and more intimately through the more than 270 women she personally discipled,” wrote son Nels, after her passing.

Her husband, Pastor Ray Ortlund, led two significant churches in Southern California with Anne by his side: Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena and Mariners Church in Newport Beach. Later they founded Renewal Ministries, and traveled the world as a team speaking on behalf of renewal and revival among God’s people. FULL POST

Posted 10/28/13 at 2:10 AM | Mark Ellis

Thousands Gather to Honor Life of Pastor Chuck Smith

Pastor Jon Courson recalls Chuck Smith's fatherly influence

A capacity crowd at The Pond in Anaheim paid tribute tonight to the life and ministry of one of the 20th Century’s most significant American pastors and one of God’s great servants – Pastor Chuck Smith. Uncounted multitudes watched and listened around the world via radio and the Internet.

“It is not often that a man comes around who impacts the lives of so many people,” said Pastor Brian Broderson, recently named senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Broderson is also Smith’s son-in-law. He recalled some of their ordinary family times together, along with Smith’s surprise as the unassuming pastor found himself at the epicenter of an extraordinary move of God.

A succession of prominent pastors spawned or influenced by the Calvary Chapel movement spoke in person or through previously recorded messages. Greg Laurie, Raul Ries, Rick Warren, Alistair Begg, Mike MacIntosh – and many others – spoke of Pastor Chuck’s fatherly guidance and encouragement. FULL POST

Posted 10/24/13 at 6:24 PM | Mark Ellis

Angel Helps Lead Muslim to Christ

Maheen (left) with Paul Ciniraj

By Mark Ellis

After a powerful visitation by an angel brought a Muslim to his knees in repentance and faith, relatives hostile to Christianity locked the man in a cellar. After languishing for days in the dark and musty underground chamber, police set him free.

Maheen had always been an observant Muslim in his town in India. At his place of employment, he was given a Bible, but once he took it home, the pages were never opened.

“He did not care about it, but just kept it in his room,” says Paul Ciniraj, founder of Paul Ciniraj Ministries. But that was about to change, due to an unexpected visit one evening.

As Maheen slept, an angel came to him, touched his shoulder and said, “Read Acts 26:23 from the Holy Scripture which you received.” Maheen thought it was a strange dream and went back to sleep.

A short time later, the angel touched his shoulder again – this time more firmly — and said, “Get up and read Acts 26:23 from the Bible. It is a verse for you.” FULL POST

Posted 10/22/13 at 3:15 PM | Mark Ellis

Raised in Beverly Hills, she moved into Tijuana prison to serve God

Mother Antonia Brenner

As a girl growing up in Beverly Hills, she counted Cary Grant and other Hollywood stars as neighbors. But she gave up posh surroundings in Southern California for a 10-foot cell so she could minister to inmates at a notorious Mexican prison. Mother Antonia Brenner died October 17th in Tijuana of natural causes. She was 86.

Born in 1926, she was raised by Irish immigrant parents in Los Angeles. Her father became a successful sales executive, and their family home was situated in an exclusive neighborhood in Beverly Hills, with a second home at the beach.

Brenner raised seven children and gradually became more and more involved in charity work with the poor. In 1969 she had a vivid dream that she was a prisoner at Calvary and about to be executed, when Jesus suddenly appeared to her and offered to take her place. She declined His offer, touched Jesus on the cheek, and told her Savior she would never leave Him, no matter what life might bring. FULL POST

Posted 10/17/13 at 2:15 PM | Mark Ellis

Wife of Amish school shooter found strength in the Lord

Marie Monville

When her husband Charlie called to tell her he wasn’t coming home she knew something wasn’t right. At the time of the call he had already taken 10 girls hostage inside a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, a village in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Charlie Roberts, a milk truck driver and family man with three kids, proceeded to shoot each girl execution-style in the back of the head before he turned the gun on himself, committing suicide. His wife, Marie, was blindsided. She had no clue this was coming.

“It was overwhelming to know what happened that day and the man who walked with me and our children to the bus stop that morning, who kissed them and said he loved them, could even be capable of something like this,” says Marie Monville, the author with Cindy Lambert of One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting (Zondervan).

Immediately after Marie hung up the phone, Charlie committed his horrible crime, killing five Amish girls aged 6-13, including two sisters. The youngest victim to survive, Rosanna King, suffered brain damage and is still unable to eat, sit or talk. FULL POST

Posted 10/7/13 at 3:02 PM | Mark Ellis

How a despairing, hate-filled Chinese freedom fighter found Christ

Bob Fu

By Mark Ellis

He helped organize pro-democracy demonstrations that captured the world’s attention when Chinese authorities massacred hundreds of unarmed students in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

When he faced retribution from the government for his role in the protests, suicidal despair and hatred began to consume him – until a powerful encounter with the living God.

Even as a child, he experienced friction with government officials. “We were always bullied by the Chinese authorities,” recalls Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, a non-profit organization based in Texas that advocates on behalf of the underground church and political dissidents in China.

The bullying stemmed from his home life, having a disabled father and a mother who resorted to begging for the family’s survival. “It was a humiliating situation,” he confesses. Even friends and neighbors belittled his family.

The mistreatment ignited a fire in his heart for equality and justice. “I thought the best way to change my family and to change the system was to become a political leader,” he says, and he began to nurture aspirations to become a communist party official some day. FULL POST

Posted 9/30/13 at 3:19 PM | Mark Ellis

Woman Attacked by Wild Pig; Man With Nail-Scarred Hands Rescued Her

Eliyamma receives Bible from Paul Ciniraj

By Mark Ellis

When she was young, Eliyamma lived with her family in a forested area of Kerala State in India. Her family subsisted in a mud house with no electricity or running water and no local market to buy food.

Her father worked hard to reclaim the forest for their small farm, where they cultivated coffee and spices such as pepper and cardamom. Very often their crops were eaten or destroyed by wild pigs, elephants and other animals.

When Eliyamma was 27-years-old, she went one day to the river to fetch water. They had no wells or pipes to get suitable drinking water to their house, and this was part of a woman’s daily chores.

While she bent over at the water’s edge with her pot, something terrible happened. A wild pig charged out of the underbrush and brutally attacked her. She fought back, and used the vessel as a defensive shield, swinging at the head of the pig. FULL POST

Posted 9/25/13 at 2:06 PM | Mark Ellis

Hindu Woman Battled Illness, Found a 'Fiery' Healing in Jesus

Mrs. Usha receives a Bible from Mercy Ciniraj

By Mark Ellis

Usha belonged to a Hindu family in India. She followed many Hindu deities and made ‘poojas’ in her home, a daily ritual gift to her idols with the hope of receiving a blessing in return.

But after Usha developed uterine cancer and a serious skin disease, her husband left her for another woman. Due to her sickness and unpleasant appearance, many in the community rejected her. Her own brothers and sisters would not let her enter their homes.

In order to care for herself and her four children, Usha was forced to beg from neighbors. Still, she tried to continue teaching her children at home and live as normally as possible in the midst of her suffering.

She prayed to her idols every day for healing, including Siva, Vishnu, Krishna, Ganpati, Ayyappa, Laxmi, Saraswathi. As part of the pooja, she poured out milk, honey, rice, flowers and fruits on her idols. For months and months she repeated her ritual, but found no relief from her health maladies. FULL POST

Posted 9/16/13 at 8:16 PM | Mark Ellis

Discovery of long-lost Van Gogh like a resurrection

By Mark Ellis

The unsigned painting lay hidden in the darkness of a Norwegian attic for close to a century. But now the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam hails ‘Sunset at Montmajour’ as an authentic product of the celebrated Dutch artist and a momentous find.

Norwegian industrialist Christian Mustad bought the painting in 1908 from a Paris art dealer, but was later embarrassed when an art expert declared it a fake, partly because ‘Sunset’ was unsigned.

“This guy was so humiliated, he wrapped it up in a blanket and put it in his attic,” says William Havlicek, Ph.D., author of “Van Gogh’s Untold Journey” (Creative Storytellers). “He thought he had been fooled.”

It lay in the gloom of the dust-filled attic until 1991, when the painting’s new owners contacted the Van Gogh Museum for an opinion. Experts rejected it once more, but “this was before new technology was developed,” Havlicek notes.

More recently, engineering professors at Rice and Cornell universities developed a signal-processing algorithm that automatically counts the thread density in an artist's canvas from X-rays. “It’s a genetic profile that is like a fingerprint, it’s so accurate,” Havlicek says. FULL POST

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