BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #9: Preachers Who Are Not Called to Preach; The Relationship Between Bishop Greenleaf and Grace; and the Question of Hell

Greenleaf
Greenleaf

Three issues stood out in the last episode of Greenleaf titled, “Men As Trees Walking.”


First, let’s deal with preachers who are not called to preach.

In this episode, Bishop Greenleaf’s son, James, who had been relieved of his duties as a minister after his adultery came to light, comes back to his father seeking his old job back. Bishop Greenleaf shoots down his plea to be reinstated, and then asks him to recall what he wanted to be when he was growing up. James says he wanted to be a baseball player, and Bishop Greenleaf tells him that he was never called to be a preacher and that he only stepped in to try to fill the shoes of Grace when she left.

Unfortunately, in pulpits across America, there are preachers who were never called to preach. Some so-called preachers have gotten into the ministry because their father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncles were preachers. Some have gotten into it for money and fame. Some have gotten into it because family pressured them into it. Some have gotten into it because somebody told them they looked like a preacher. Some have gotten into it because they could give a good speech.

While all Christians are called to share the Gospel, no one should aspire to spiritual leadership over others unless they are called specifically by God to do so. Paul said, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” But desiring the office and being called to it by God are two different things. (One might desire to be a rock star, but if he does not have the skills, gifts, or musical ability to do so, he is wasting his time. He can try, but he will fail.) The call of God is an inward pulling of the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther called it “God’s voice heard by faith.” Charles Spurgeon described it as “an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” He advised young men who said they wanted to preach NOT to preach if they could help it. “But,” he added, “if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.” “Preacher,” if you are preaching for any other reason beyond the compelling call of the Holy Spirit in your life, if you do not feel as Paul felt when he said, “Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”, please sit down.

Now, let’s look at the relationship between Bishop Greenleaf and his daughter Grace.

The relationship between a father and his daughter is very special. One can see this in the interaction of Bishop Greenleaf and Grace — especially in how he welcomed her back home after she had been gone for years, much to the chagrin of his wife. However, it appears as though Grace will be the one who hurts Bishop Greenleaf the most in the end. That might sound shocking, but it happens in many families — the child most beloved by the parents is the one who hurts them the most.

It is indeed true that the people we love the most are the ones who can hurt us the most. As C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” No one wants a broken heart, but it is inevitable in this life. Parents especially run this risk when it comes to their children. The only way they can guard against this is to make sure that they have a love for God that surpasses the love they have for any other person. In fact, Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that our love for our family ought to look like hatred compared to our love for Him. That goes for family relationships, friendships, marriages, and other romantic relationships. You can love the other person very much. Just make sure you love Jesus more. He is the only person who will never let you down. He will never break your heart. He will never fail you.

Finally, let’s consider the question, Is Hell real?

Mac is reading the Bible in prison where he has been locked up for over a month now. He comes across a verse on Hell, and he calls Bishop Greenleaf to ask if Hell really does exist. Obviously, like many Christians today, Mac had not taken the topic of Hell too seriously. Now, feeling guilty over his crimes, he is considering what punishment might be.

Obviously, the doctrine of Hell is a controversial topic, and while we know Greenleaf is not a theology seminar, we would have hoped that a biblical answer had been given to this question. Instead, Bishop Greenleaf tells Mac that “Hell is looking back on your life and realizing what your life might have been had you done the right thing”.

While that answer likely played well with secular viewers, it is not the truth. The Bible clearly describes Hell as a real physical place of punishment for the devil, his demons, and all those who ultimately reject Jesus Christ as Savior. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible also says in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Numerous passages throughout Scripture speak to the reality of Hell. Many pastors do not want to preach it. But if they are going to be faithful to God’s Word, they must. There are many in the church like Mac who want to know. And there are many in the world who need to know. If you were to die today, where would you go, Heaven or Hell? If you are not sure, please continue to listen.

In closing, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can be forgiven of your sins and begin a relationship with God today.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Now that is bad news, but here is the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

May God bless you, and I hope that you will join us next time for The Gospel According to Greenleaf.

BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #8: The Danger of Keeping Family Secrets

greenleaf

Welcome to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #8. The title for today’s episode is The Danger of Keeping Family Secrets


Greenleaf is indeed a show about the inner workings of a black megachurch, but it is also just as much a show about the inner workings of a traditional black family. One of the negative aspects that has been passed down through the generations of black families in America is the keeping of secrets. Somehow, our forebears believed that it was best not to tell some things. They had sayings like: “You tell a little, and you keep a little to yourself,” and “There are some things you just ought to take to the grave.” Continue reading “BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #8: The Danger of Keeping Family Secrets”

BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #7: Calvary as a Symbol in the Greenleaf Drama, Why Oprah’s Greenleaf Drama is Immensely Better Than Tyler Perry’s Tuesday Night Lineup of Dramas, Tragedy in the Church, and the Directors and Writers Deserve an Emmy or Something As Well

Greenleaf
Greenleaf

Welcome to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #7. The title for today’s episode is Calvary as a Symbol in the Greenleaf Drama, Why Oprah’s Greenleaf Drama is Immensely Better Than Tyler Perry’s Tuesday Night Lineup of Dramas, Tragedy in the Church, and the Directors and Writers Deserve an Emmy or Something As Well Continue reading “BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #7: Calvary as a Symbol in the Greenleaf Drama, Why Oprah’s Greenleaf Drama is Immensely Better Than Tyler Perry’s Tuesday Night Lineup of Dramas, Tragedy in the Church, and the Directors and Writers Deserve an Emmy or Something As Well”

BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #5: Why Christians Should Not Buy In to the Prosperity Gospel

greenleaf

Thank you for tuning in to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf. In this brief, weekly podcast, we are examining some of the themes of Oprah Winfrey’s new drama set in a large black church that deals with issues that all churches face. Today we are looking at the issue of the prosperity gospel. Continue reading “BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #5: Why Christians Should Not Buy In to the Prosperity Gospel”

BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #4: Sit Down Somewhere, Preacher! — In Fact, Take Several Seats

Greenleaf
Greenleaf

Thank you for tuning in to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf. In this brief, weekly podcast, we are examining some of the themes of Oprah Winfrey’s new drama set in a large black church that deals with issues that all churches face. Today we are looking at the issue of pastors and church leaders who have sinned and who need to sit down somewhere and get right with God. Continue reading “BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #4: Sit Down Somewhere, Preacher! — In Fact, Take Several Seats”

BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #3: Sin in the Church, Homosexuality in the Church, and Grace’s Back-talking Daughter

greenleaf

Thank you for tuning in to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf. In this brief, weekly podcast, we are examining some of the themes of Oprah Winfrey’s new drama set in a large black church that deals with issues that all churches face. Today we are looking at the themes of dealing honestly with sin in the church, dealing with homosexuality in the church, and what to do about Grace’s back-talking daughter.


As depicted in Greenleaf, there are church members, even in the pastor’s family, who sin. While (as Oprah said in one of her promotional interviews), ‘Sin and dysfunction makes for great television and great storytelling,’ God’s people should not be known by their sinful lifestyles, but by the fruit that they bear through Christ and the power of The Holy Spirit.

But when God’s people do sin, how does the church respond? Many times, unfortunately, the response is to brush it under the rug, to hide it, to cover it up, to not deal with it. Many black families, traditionally, have sinful secrets that have been kept for decades. The older people in those families believe it is best to “take some things to the grave”. This belief leads to a situation where sin, instead of being dealt with, becomes more rampant and more ugly, and it eventually blows up and everybody has a mess on their hands. Continue reading “BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #3: Sin in the Church, Homosexuality in the Church, and Grace’s Back-talking Daughter”

The Meaning of the Character Grace’s Name as a Symbol in the Drama, “Satan We’re Going to Tear Your Kingdom Down,” and the Power of The Blood of Jesus Christ (BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #2)

greenleaf

Thank you for tuning in to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf. In this brief, weekly podcast, we will examine some of the themes of Oprah Winfrey’s new drama set in a large black church that deals with issues that all churches face. Today we will be dealing with the themes The Meaning of the character, Grace’s Name as a symbol in the drama, Satan We’re Going to Tear Your Kingdom Down & the Power of The Blood of Jesus Christ. If you know anything about BCNN1, you know that our main purpose is to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by any means necessary, so that is the ultimate aim of this podcast.


In our first episode, we talked about the theme of the prodigal child, Grace Greenleaf, returning home. One of the things we didn’t touch on was the symbolism of Grace’s name, which is obviously a reference to the grace of God. Many people who may find themselves in similar situations to Grace (the character) also find themselves in need of God’s grace. Continue reading “The Meaning of the Character Grace’s Name as a Symbol in the Drama, “Satan We’re Going to Tear Your Kingdom Down,” and the Power of The Blood of Jesus Christ (BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #2)”

BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #1: The Prodigal Returns

"Greenleaf" cast; photo courtesy of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
“Greenleaf” cast; photo courtesy of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

Thank you for tuning in to The Gospel According to Greenleaf. In this brief, weekly podcast, we will examine some of the themes of Oprah Winfrey’s new drama set in a large black church that deals with issues that all churches face. If you know anything about BCNN1, you know that our main purpose is to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by any means necessary, so that is the ultimate aim of this podcast.


In only two episodes, Greenleaf touched on many different themes, including:

1. The return of a prodigal child, which reminds us of how God welcomes His prodigal children back home after they have gone astray.

2. The importance of Calvary and the blood of Jesus Christ in our salvation. In Greenleaf, the name of the church is Calvary and in one of the first scenes, the pastor’s wife proclaimed at the dinner table loud and clear that it was the blood of Jesus Christ that saved her soul. (Contrary to what some people think, I believe Oprah trusted Jesus Christ as her Saviour in recent years and that she is a babe in Christ. However, I believe like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, she is trying to do her part to proclaim Jesus Christ to a dying and lost world given the position that God has placed her in.)

3. The real life issue of adult children coming back home after being gone a while was forcibly confronted in the words of Lady Mae Greenleaf, “Promise me you’re not here to sow discord in the fields of my peace.”

4. Sin in the church, which many people do not like to talk about even though they know it is going on.

5. The prosperity gospel, and how many churches and church families in leadership are abusing the flock of God for monetary gain. This is a real problem in many churches today. (The Jet thing however was bit overdone to the point of silliness.)

6. Sex in the church, which is another thing many church folk do not like to talk about, yet which we all know is going on, and often times in sinful ways. (By the way, one of the reasons why Greenleaf comes on so late is because some scenes are not suitable for children.)

7. Child sexual abuse, rape, and molestation by so-called ministers in the church.

8. Homosexuality and the church, which we pray and hope Oprah will deal with from a Biblical perspective and represent both sides of the debate evenhandedly.

There is a lot that we can talk about from these episodes, but today, I want to focus on the theme of a prodigal child returning.

The first episode focuses on Grace Greenleaf, the prodigal daughter of the prominent Greenleaf family. She had been expected to take over the church after her father, but she cut her ties with the family and the church and has been gone for twenty years. Spurred on by the death (or suicide) of her sister, Grace is led to return to the family home in Memphis.

Her arrival is reminiscent of a parable Jesus told in the Bible about the prodigal son. Grace’s father, James, welcomes her with open arms, while her mother, sister, and sister-in-law are not so welcoming for reasons of their own — with her mother, played by the incomparable Lynn Whitfield, saying in her daughter’s ear very sternly, “Promise me you’re not here to sow discord in the fields of my peace.” By the way, both Lynn Whitfield and her television husband, Keith David, as well Oprah and Deborah Joy Winans are acting their tails off. Of course, it is expected of the first three, but Deborah Joy Winans is holding her own to be new to the game. And Bebe Winans is doing a great job behind the scenes advising to give the drama an authentic black church feel. If Bebe holds that imaginary line for Oprah, the show will be a perennial hit.

In Jesus’ story, the prodigal son, after demanding his inheritance, left home to pursue his own life abroad. After years of a life of partying, running women, and wasting money, he found himself in poverty. He was so poor that he had to take a job feeding pigs, and was so hungry that he ate what the pigs ate. But the Bible tells us that, “When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

When the father saw his son returning to him, he “had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him… [And] the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”

Unfortunately, the prodigal son’s older brother was not so happy to see all of the celebration over his little brother’s return. The father had to explain to him, “It is meet [that is, proper] that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”

Ultimately, the story of the prodigal son and the story of Grace Greenleaf, the prodigal daughter, is about all of us and our relationship with the Heavenly Father. All of us, at some point in our life, have strayed from God. Perhaps you grew up in the church or in Christian family, but you drifted as you got older. Or maybe you never were connected to the family of God at all. Please know that it is never too late to come back to God or to come to Him for the first time. Like James Greenleaf and like the father of the prodigal son, He will welcome you with open arms.

Jesus Christ said, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

Will you be the child who returns to their Heavenly Father today? Allow me to show you how you can do that.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Now that is bad news, but here is the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

May God bless you, and I hope that you will join us next time for The Gospel According to Greenleaf.

“With Talent On Loan from God…” — A Thanksgiving Celebration

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/224334-with-talent-on-loan-from-god-a-thanksgiving-celebration.mp3]

On this Thanksgiving, I thank God for the talents and gifts that He has bestowed upon my family and me and that is no doubt the reason why I love to see people do what they are truly talented and gifted by God to do. It is a blessing to see singers, musicians, actors, actresses, athletes in all sports, writers, speakers, business people, doctors, cooks, auto mechanics, lawyers, and leaders of all types seemingly without effort and almost flawlessly doing what they were given by God the talents and the gifts to do.

Their talents (or gifts) come from God, and He has blessed the world with an abundance of and an array of talents. Every time we see these talents on display, we ought to be thankful to God for them and for the way in which many people use them to benefit and bless society. Many years ago, I heard a popular secular radio talk show host begin his radio broadcasts with the phrase ‘with talent on loan from God…’ Even though I have not listened to him in years, that phrase stuck with me. It was good for him to know that whatever talents and gifts he has they came from God, and it is good for all of us to know that, and we all should give God thanks.

God is the source of each of the gifts and talents that people have received. First Peter 4:10-11 says, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.” These verses tell us that every person has received talents from God and that it is their responsibility to use those talents for the good of others. Every time someone uses the talents God has given them, they bring glory to their Creator, and we should offer thanksgiving to God for the talents that He gives to us to use for His glory, praise, and honor.

Many people do not hesitate to honor God as the source of their great talent, and they seek to honor and glorify God by the use of their talents. Many have also spoken of their faith in God and in Jesus Christ as the foundation of their success in life. Listen to these words from some people whom you might recognize.

Oscar-award winning actor, Matthew McConaughey, said, “First off I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late (British actor) Charlie Laughton, who said, ‘When you got God you got a friend…’”

Super-bowl winning quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson, “First of all, God is so good. He brought me here a mighty long way. My dad used to always tell me, ‘Russ, why not you?’ And what that meant was believe in yourself, believe in the talent God has given you even though you are 5 foot 11, and you can go a long way.”

NBA star, Kevin Durant, said, “When I’m talking in front of people or when people tell me I’m great, I remind myself that I can always be better. I’ve just got to be thankful to the Lord for the gifts He’s given me. My gift back to Him is to always be humble and to work as hard as I can.”

Peyton Manning, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, said, “At age 13, I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since… My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me the assurance I once looked for. I’ve been blessed [to] have so little go wrong in my life, and [have been] given so much.”

Political analyst and columnist, Kirsten Powers, said, “I don’t really feel like I had any courage when I became a Christian, I just gave in. I wasn’t courageous; I didn’t have any choice. I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid [accepting Christ]. If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.”

Olympic gold medalist, Allyson Felix, said, “My faith is the reason I run – it calms my heart and makes everything feel like a lift. My speed is definitely a gift from [God], and I run for His glory. ”

Truett Cathy, the late, great businessman and founder of Chick-fil-A, said, the main purpose of his business is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us; and, to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Odell Beckham, Jr., of the New York Giants, who recently made what many are calling the greatest catch in NFL history, is also a believer. On the night of the now famous catch, he gave God the glory by saying, “God gave me this talent.” The day after making his amazing catch, he said, “I wanna thank God for everything he’s doing in my life.” He also said, “God is good. That’s an understatement. He’s always on time, maybe not when you want him to be but always when the time is right! God puts people and obstacles in our lives not for us to fail, but to bless us in mysterious ways that our own understanding can’t imagine… If you don’t know God, my advice? Get to know him! And If you do know God, get closer to Him!”

Madison Bumgarner, the pitcher for the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants, said, “If it weren’t for my faith, there is no way I would be where I am at today. My faith is a really big part of my career and my life… The biggest thing I want people to know about me is that I am a believer, I’m a Christian, not just that I’m a baseball player or any of the other stuff I like to do… Jesus Christ means everything to me. He is my Saviour and I live for Him. I don’t want to live for myself; I want to live for Him.”

Actress and author, Candace Cameron Bure, said, “God has changed me in ways that words can’t describe. He has transformed the way I think and live my life. Things that were once important to me are no longer. I can’t help but share the Good News with everyone! I know there is nothing more important. I know that without Christ, the eternal consequences are devastating. I urge you to surrender your whole life to Jesus, turn from your sin and trust in Him with all your heart.”

Denzel Washington said, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit. I know it’s real… I’ve always understood why I’ve been blessed to be put in this situation [acting and directing]. And I’m more than happy to take advantage of it and to preach, if you will, about what God has done in my life.”

American musician, Sheila E., said, “[After a period of difficulty in my life] I decided, ‘You know what, Lord? If you just give me another chance, I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ I got the Bible and I started reading and I kept it on my chest. I slept with it and never took it out of my hand for weeks.”

Bobby Bowden, the second-winningest coach in college football, said, “If you love [God] and serve Him and try to be loyal to Him and obedient to Him, He’s not going to let you fail. That’s the thing that has happened to me.”

Albert Pujols (Pu-holz) of the St. Louis Cardinals said, “My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.”

Country singing star, Carrie Underwood said, “I grew up going to church camp and reading my Bible and having different faith books and movies in my life…My songs are sometimes focused on God, Jesus and faith, and that is a part of my “Bible Beltness,” where such themes are popular. I was not the first, nor will I be the last, to sing about God.”

Tim Howard, the U.S. soccer goalkeeper, who also has Tourette’s syndrome said, “Living with Tourette’s is not easy. But God has blessed me with the gift of athleticism as well. He has done some powerful things in my life through the combination of these two gifts. He also has shown me ways to use my position as a professional athlete to encourage others with Tourette’s syndrome. Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that’s the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding. You can experience this same sense of love and peace, too. All you have to do is ask for it.”

Award-winning actor and director, Blair Underwood, said, “I am a Christian. I believe God has a plan. I believe he is not going to leave us hanging. As a man, in our society, I don’t have all the answers. Being able to turn matters over to a higher power works for me.”

Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”

Michelle Williams, one third of the popular group, Destiny’s Child, said, “[Despite some criticism that I have received for doing both secular and Gospel music,] I believe that I am doing my part to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Some people will do gospel when their career fails, but I chose to do it at the height of the popularity of Destiny’s Child. And I didn’t want to do it because it was a fad. I wanted to do it because it’s in me. It’s in my heart. God places people in different parts (areas) for different reasons. We know Jesus is coming back soon and I am doing my part to make sure that people know about him as well.”

Famed neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, said, “If your priority is to look good in front of people, your life will take a different direction than if your priority is to use the talents that God has given you to make a positive difference in the world. I believe God has a specific purpose for me – and for every other person to whom he gives the gift of life. If there is a God and you believe in him, you know the best is yet to come. I always pray before any operation. I think God helps me know what to do….We’ll always be safe in Jesus Christ if we place our faith in the Lord.

Oprah Winfrey said, “I am a Christian. That is my faith. I’m not asking you to be a Christian. If you want to be one I can show you how. But it is not required. I have respect for all faiths… My favorite Bible verse, because I am a Christian, is Acts 17:28. It says, ‘In God I live, and move, and have my being.’ And you want to know why I’m so successful? Because I knew that at four-years-old, I wouldn’t be who I am today without that.”

I could go on with the testimonies of many other people who have become successful through the use of their God-given gifts and talents. But, as we close this celebration of the talents that God has given, I want to let you know that you, too, have talents from God, and you can be a success through the talents that He has given you.

Pastor Rick Warren said, “Whether you are a musician or an accountant, a teacher or a cook, God gave you those abilities to serve others. You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. When God made you, He made an investment in you, and He expects a return on that investment.”

I tell people all the time, God did not put you here to do nothing. God wants you to use the talents and gifts He has given you for His glory and for the benefit of others. And when He uses you, you ought to give God thanks.

The main way you can begin to give God a return on His investment in you is to give your heart and life to Him today. You see, not only, did God invest in you by giving you unique talents and abilities, but He made a major investment in You when He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross so that you would not have to suffer eternal punishment for your sins. Allow me to explain: No matter how talented and gifted you are, and no matter how much you may have accomplished in life, you are still a sinner just like everyone else, and if you do not accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then you will spend eternity in hell.

Allow me to show you how you can accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour today.

1. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In fact, I am the chief of sinners, so don’t think that you’re alone.

2. Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

3. Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

4. Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

5. Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

6. With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door“. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you! We love you! May God bless you! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Oprah Winfrey: ‘I am a Christian… I Wouldn’t be Who I am Today Without My Faith’ (Gospel Light Minute #143)

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

She is a media mogul, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Her multi-award winning talk show was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. Known as the “Queen of All Media”, she has been ranked as the richest African-American of the 20th century by Forbes, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is currently North America’s only black billionaire. CNN and TIME called her “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” and TIME named her “one of the most influential people” from 2004 to 2011. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and received an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University. In fact, Barack Obama would not be president of the United States without this woman.

On April 23, 2012, while introducing her “Lifeclass Tour” to a Radio City Music Hall audience in New York City she made a public profession of her faith. She said, “I am not talking about religion. I am a Christian. That is my faith. I’m not asking you to be a Christian. If you want to be one I can show you how. But it is not required. I have respect for all faiths… My favorite Bible verse, because I am a Christian, is Acts 17:28. It says, ‘In God I live, and move, and have my being.’ And you want to know why I’m so successful? Because I knew that at four-years-old, I wouldn’t be who I am today without that.”

On June 1, 2011, after Oprah delivered her public farewell from her talk show, I wrote the following on a news site that our organization runs: “Evidently, Oprah got saved recently, now she needs to make that clear to her millions of fans. Based upon statements that Oprah made throughout last week regarding God and Jesus Christ, we believe that Oprah has recently truly accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour and has been born again this year.”

Now, I took a lot of heat for making that statement, but as I explained in my article, “some people are going to doubt Oprah’s profession of faith in Christ and some are going to say negative things about this because she has people of different faiths on her show and so forth. However, please understand that OWN is not a Christian network. It is a network for all people. OWN is Oprah’s business, and we as Christians know what that is like when you’re doing business in a secular world. So Oprah’s business side is going to be different, but it does not take anything away from her faith in Christ.”

For example, Mark Burnett, is the producer behind the popular “Bible” mini-series and the “Son of God” movie. However, before he produced those Christian-based works, he produced such popular shows as Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice, Shark Tank, The Sing Off, and the People’s Choice Awards which have nothing to do with his Christian faith. Yet, based on his own words and on his life, I believe Mark Burnett is saved just as I am.

In fact, in the Bible, we see examples of these types of believers. Jesus had His public disciples, the Peters, Jameses, and Johns, but He also had his secret disciples, the Nicodemuses and Josephs of Arimathea. When His public disciples, Peter and the other disciples, forsook Him at His trial and His crucifixion, it was His secret disciples, such as Joseph of Arimathea, that stood with Him until the end. This Joseph took His body off the cross and placed Him in his own grave. All of Jesus’ followers are not out front; some are behind the scenes, but they are doing just as much for Him.

Based upon Oprah’s public profession of faith in Jesus Christ, she is saved by the grace of God through faith by believing in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, according to the Word of God. So instead of worrying about what she is doing or not doing, how about you? Are you saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?