LISTEN: Novak Djokovic: ‘Before Being an Athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian’ (Gospel Light Minute #245)

novakd

He is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked the No. 1 player in the world in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). To date, he has won 75 titles, including 16 Grand Slam singles titles (a record seven Australian Open titles, five Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles and one French Open title), five ATP Finals titles, 33 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, and 12 ATP Tour 500 titles. Following his victory at the 2016 French Open, he became only the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam and the third man to hold all four major titles at once, the first since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first ever to do so on three different surfaces. He is the first and only male player to have won all nine of the Masters 1000 tournaments. His latest win came just last Sunday at the 2019 Wimbledon tourney in in which he successfully defended his title by defeating Roger Federer in an epic, grueling five set final that lasted four hours and fifty seven minutes, the longest in Wimbledon history. He is a six-time ITF World Champion and a five-time ATP year-end No. 1 ranked player, having held the spot for over 250 weeks. He has won numerous awards, including the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year (four times) and the 2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award. He serves as a Unicef ambassador for his native Serbia and has founded an eponymous foundation, which fosters education for disadvantaged children. 

Continue reading “LISTEN: Novak Djokovic: ‘Before Being an Athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian’ (Gospel Light Minute #245)”

Jen Lilley: ‘I Would Rather Not be an Actor and Be in God’s Will; I Can’t Deny the Power of Jesus Christ’ (Gospel Light Minute #168)

Jen Lilley
Jen Lilley

She is an actress best known for her TV roles including her portrayal of Maxie Jones on the ABC soap opera “General Hospital” from 2011 to 2012. In 2013, she joined the cast of “Days of Our Lives” as Theresa Donovan, and starred in “The Book of Esther” portraying the biblical character. Her other film and television credits include “Revelation Road,” “Crossing Streets,” “Criminal Minds,” and “iCarly” among others.

In an interview with the Christian Post, she spoke about leaving “General Hospital” and how her faith in God guides her to make the right decisions. About leaving General Hospital, she said, “It was definitely a really scary and challenging experience…[However] At the end of the day we know that our battle is not against flesh and blood. You have to hold your head high and have grace…. I’m actually really excited to be off of ‘General Hospital’ because I know God orders my steps, and this only means He has a new adventure for me. I pursue God on a daily basis, I’m not stepping into oblivion.

On turning down a role in a major motion picture, she said, “I remember reading the script and being like, ‘I can’t do this as a Christian for a lot of reasons. One being that it is a horror movie. I like psychological thrillers but when it’s demonic, there’s no uplifting message. The first person (in the script) to die was a child. I’m a huge advocate of children’s rights. They kept saying God is dead, God doesn’t exist. I would rather not be an actor and be in God’s will.”

As a child, she witnessed her mother pray for Jesus to heal her brother from a debilitating disease while he was still in her womb. Though he was delivered still-born and had stopped breathing for a few minutes, she maintains that her mother’s prayers and laying hands on him brought him back to life. She said, “Regardless of whether I can prove it, I can’t deny the power of Jesus Christ. I can’t deny he raised my brother from the dead. I can’t deny when you say things in the name of Jesus, things happen.”

Her name is Jen Lilley. Continue reading “Jen Lilley: ‘I Would Rather Not be an Actor and Be in God’s Will; I Can’t Deny the Power of Jesus Christ’ (Gospel Light Minute #168)”

Major League Baseball Pitcher, Billy Wagner: Sold-Out to God (Gospel Light Minute #166)

Billy Wagner
Billy Wagner

He is a former major league baseball relief pitcher. Nicknamed “Billy the Kid”, he pitched for the Houston Astros from 1995 to 2003, the Philadelphia Phillies from 2004 to 2005, the New York Mets from 2006 to 2009, the Boston Red Sox in 2009, and the Atlanta Braves in 2010. He is one of the few relief pitchers with a total of 400 saves in his career. In 2012, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Seven times he was selected to All-Star teams, and in 2003, he pitched a combined no-hitter.

Though he was born right-handed, after breaking his right arm twice in accidents as a child, he taught himself to throw baseballs using his left arm. Raised in his grandparent’s Christian home, he accepted Jesus Christ into his life at age 12. In an interview with CBN, he said, “I was saved when I was, I believe I was 12 years old. My grandparents had that kind of work ethic and religion and faith that kinda kept me on track.”

When he began playing with his left arm, he said, “God has given me a left arm that has given me a pedestal to be someone that can help [people] better themselves in the faith. Being a Christian I’ve been able to sit there and say [that] this is a learning experience. I said some things when I was out on the mound, I acted in a way when I was out on the mound that is not what God had wanted, but being able to be forgiven and to repent shows that that is what being a Christian is all about.”

“Baseball is just fantasy. It’s a short-lived life, and I have a long life with God. That’s most important, and if I take that for granted, everything that He has graced me with, He can take away. God wants you to be competitive for Him too, so being competitive is the easy part. It’s the balance of knowing who you are and what you want to be. Once I realized as an athlete what was important and what wasn’t, then, I think you’re able to sell out to God.”

He went on to say, “I live a very blessed and graced life with what He’s blessed me to have. So when I think of my career I think solely of what God has given me and blessed me with, and know that [while I’m retired now] I get to go home and live a second chapter that is blessed. My biggest goal and what I want people to see in me is that I love the Lord and He’s the answer. He’s the way, and He’s the rock. All you have to do is lean on Him and know you don’t have to worry. He’s gonna give you that peace.”

His name is Billy Wagner. Continue reading “Major League Baseball Pitcher, Billy Wagner: Sold-Out to God (Gospel Light Minute #166)”

Tasha Smith: From Atheism to ‘Challenging God’ to Finally Understanding God’s Love (Gospel Light Minute #146)

Tasha Smith
Tasha Smith

She is an actress who has appeared in numerous movies and plays. She is well-known for her role as Angela Williams in the Tyler Perry films “Why Did I Get Married?” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” She also stars as Angela on the OWN comedy-drama television series Tyler Perry’s “For Better or Worse”. She launched an organic perfume line titled “US” with her husband in 2011. And she coaches many aspiring actors through her acting workshop. She has appeared on America’s Next Top Model as an acting coach, helping the models with different scenes. Her TV credits include: “The Parkers”, “Girlfriends”, “All of Us” and “The Game”. Her other film credits include “Miles from Home”, “Couples Retreat”, “Something Like a Business”, and “Jumping the Broom”.

In an interview with EURweb.com, she discussed her conversion from atheism to Christianity. She said, “When I was 25 I had an encounter with God because my father had gotten sick. I had a time where I really challenged God, like, if you’re really God you’ll show me such-and-such’. I was going through this whole thing where I questioned whether God was real or not. I really needed God to be real because I was feeling so depressed and so unhappy, I felt like if there isn’t a God [then] I have no reason to live. It was just a bad time in my life and God really showed up and met me where I was.”

In an interview with Da Gospel Truth, she said of her faith, “There was definitely a time where I did not believe in the Lord. I needed to understand the love of God. You hear so many people always telling you what you should or shouldn’t do, telling you you’re a sinner, telling you how bad you are, all those things about yourself. I was lacking the understanding of the love of God. I didn’t know there was a God that loved me. I think that it’s the love of God that brings man into repentance. Once you embrace that love and have that fellowship with God, all those things that you shouldn’t be doing will go away. He said no flesh is going to glory in His presence. Once we spend time in the presence of God and fellowship with him, all that stuff that we thought was so great, that we idolized, that we made so big in our lives become so small and insignificant in the presence of God. I strongly encourage people to fellowship with God and show them in the Word how much He loves them.”

When asked how she stays motivated in her work, she replied, “I know God has a purpose for my life. I know that every opportunity I have in my life, whether good or bad, is another journey that I’m going to have with God. To be honest, I am so grateful about where I am in my life right now. Based on where I’ve come from, every day is a blessing. I’m human and there are definitely times when I get down, but I try not to focus on that. I try to stay in the Word and stay in fellowship with God. I get excited when I’m doing something for somebody like teaching my classes, working on a script and just staying creative, focused and prayerful! That’s it.”

Her name is Tasha Smith. Continue reading “Tasha Smith: From Atheism to ‘Challenging God’ to Finally Understanding God’s Love (Gospel Light Minute #146)”