Faith Life, Online edition!

Are you getting results? Taking action with Terri Gilbert…

Being an Interior Designer and home builder, for 25 years, I experienced the power and excitement of creating beautiful spaces. Through a real life “wilderness” where I came to know God in a new deeper way, I fell in love with Him as He re-built my foundation in Him. It was during this time that He showed me the Power of His Word. I discovered that as I meditated upon His Word and Spoke it forth…. Then, a mighty Harvest came! Next came years of: numerous transformational classes, a number of leadership courses and studies towards a master’s in theology; all to train me and direct my heart to helping people beautify their inner temples and build their lives from the inside out- God has positioned me to coach people in transforming their lives by: Applying patterns and principles found in Scripture to create Success! I help people Love their Lives by- • Living Free from Limiting Beliefs • Operating in Gods Power & Possibility and • Fulfilling their Purpose & Vision. Helping people Unleash the Blessing in their Life! Terri Gilbert

Faith Life, Online edition!, Uncategorized

Helping Kids Cast Out Their Fears, by Rachele Smith

Local Author Patrice Maguire Helps Kids Cast Out Their Fears


By Rachele Smith


Childhood fears can be very real.

From spiders to rainstorms to worrying about the future, children can become afraid of almost anything.

But local author Patrice Maguire wants to change that.

In her recently released children’s book, The Many Fears of Miela…the Cat, Maguire tells the true story of Miela, her family’s pet.

According to the book, which is illustrated by Eric Pipes, Miela is abandoned by her first owners. Lost and alone, Miela must overcome many fears before learning to trust and finding love and acceptance again.

Maguire said the book is a tool to help children not only recognize their own fears, but to bring those fears to God.

“It’s learning to trust God,” she explained.

“When you watch and see how God has answered your prayers, your spiritual eyes open, and your faith grows. You know he loves you,” she added.

The book is Maguire’s first, and, in a small way, is proof that she can trust the plans God has for her, plans that some believe go back almost three decades.

“When I was a teenager, maybe 15-years-old or so, my family and I were invited to a prayer meeting at someone’s house. We were there to listen to a woman everyone called a prophet of God,” Maguire explained.

As members of Bethany Church in Baker, Maguire said the night was interesting, especially since the “prophet” knew things about her that no one else could possibly know.

Before the service ended, Maguire recalled the woman began praying over families.

“I remember when she started praying over me, she said that I was going to write books,” Maguire said.

The idea baffled Maguire who never really thought writing was her talent.

“I mean, I liked writing more than math, but I definitely wasn’t passionate about it,” she laughed.

After high school, Maguire joined the United States Marine Corps, married, and became a Mom. Even though she said her mother would often remind her that she was supposed to write books, Maguire only occasionally allowed herself to remember that night.

As time persisted, and her three children began transitioning into adulthood, Maguire developed a medical condition. It mandated she change her eating habits, and Maguire began creating recipes.

Then something amazing happened.

“The Lord spoke to me,” she said, with water-filled eyes.

“I still get emotional whenever I talk about it. I mean, it wasn’t an audible sound, but I could feel him speak to my spirit. I don’t know how I know, but you just know that you know,” Maguire said, adding she was told she going to write a book, which she immediately interpreted as a recipe book.

“I did a real ‘Sarah’ thing,” Maguire said, explaining how just like Abraham’s wife, she forged ahead with her own plan.

“I began typing all of my recipes into my husband’s laptop,” she said.

But the more she worked, the more drudgery she felt.

“In my prayer time, I just turned to God and said, ‘God, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it,’” Maguire recalled.

That was the Summer of 2017, and the Maguire’s were moving from Baton Rouge to Zachary. She still felt a calling to write, but even though she continued to work with her recipes, she said the Lord began to show her things about Miela, the stray cat that joined her family shortly after Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

Finally, the desire to write Miela’s story became so great Maguire gave in.

“I wrote the story in one day,” she said.

In the days that followed, Maguire began editing her story and noticed a problem: God wasn’t mentioned.

Certainly, the works and moral authority of God were understood, but Maguire wanted more. Once again, she turned to the Lord in prayer and eventually wrote the final pages of her book. There, she gently leads her young readers, with their parents as guides, to recognize fear, call it out and bring it to God.

“It was an Ah-ha moment,” she said, noting that the only Scripture used in her book is 1 John 4:18, “…perfect love drives out fear.”

Maguire explained that she hopes her book will encourage bonding, transparency about childhood fears and prayer between parents and children.

She said she is constantly amazed at what God can accomplish, adding that not only did the Lord lead her to Little Oaks Publishing, a local book publishing company, but he also helped her recover some of the publishing costs required by finding part-time work.

Another unexpected bonus was the opportunity to donate some books to schools and to new “adopted” parents at a local cat shelter.

“This has been a journey of learning and exploring,” said Maguire, who has already finished writing her second book, one she hopes will help children understand sadness, another difficult and confusing emotion.

While she prepares her new book for publication, Maguire knows it will happen in God’s time.

After all, he has taken her this far.

“I’m so humbled by everything. I mean, who am I that God would use me like this? I’m nobody. The only thing I’ve done is make myself available to God,” she said, adding, “I’m just his vessel.”





















Rachele Smith is a South Louisiana-based freelance writer, copy editor and English teacher. Her writing has appeared in both broadcast and print mediums throughout the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. She is especially thankful for the many talented and inspiring people she has met along her writing journey and feels blessed and truly humbled to share their stories with others.


Faith Life, November 2018

Astronaut Visits Baton Rouge, Finds Truth in Space

MOON Walker finds truth in space

By Rachele Smith

NASA released this official portrait of Charles ‘Charlie’ Duke in advance of the scheduled Apollo 16 Flight on April 16, 1972. — Photo courtesy of NASA’s Apollo Image Gallery
At a breakfast meeting, Duke shares his experiences on the Apollo 16 space mission and how those experiences led him to a more personal relationship with Christ.

Only 24 men have seen it. And retired astronaut Charlie Duke is one of them.

At 83, Duke is still the youngest man ever to walk on the surface of the moon. He said his time in deep space showed him God’s Word “is the truth.”

“Isaiah (40:22) says God ‘sits enthroned above the circle of the Earth.’ Well, I saw that circle above the Earth. I didn’t see God, but with these eyes of mine, I saw that circle, and there’s 24 others (astronauts) who, with their own eyes, have seen that circle, too,” he said.

Duke shared his personal testimony as well as his memories aboard NASA’s Apollo 16 space mission during a breakfast gathering of more than 300 men in Baton Rouge. The group, which included men from all walks of life, as well as a number of father/son duos, was up early for a meeting of Connections, a local ministry for men. Founded by Clayton Hayes, Connections strives to help churches, families and the community by strengthening the relationship between men and the Lord.

Duke’s first-hand account of what he saw in space was powerful. “The Bible speaks the truth, not only about the nature of God and the love of God and the person of Jesus Christ, but also about the physical universe in which we live,” Duke said.

Narrating a silent DVD of personal and official NASA photos, Duke described the sense of awe he and his colleagues, Commander John Young and Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly felt as they rocketed their Apollo 16 spacecraft to the moon on April 16, 1972. As they orbited in space, some 20,000 miles away from home, Duke said the Earth floated into view.

“It just hung there. In the Book of Job (26:7), we hear ‘God suspended the Earth upon nothing.’ That’s what it was. It was suspended and hanging on nothing,” he said, adding that many people have seen pictures astronauts have taken of the Earth from space. “The pictures just don’t do it justice.”

“You look out the window, and you don’t see any stars. You see the Earth, the moon and the sun. Those are the three objects you see out in deep space. It’s just awesome,” he said, emphasizing, “Scripture talks about the heavens proclaiming the glory of God, and there it is.”

As Duke made connections between the Bible and outer space, he also admitted to his audience that back then, when he graduated from the Naval Academy, joined the Air Force as a test pilot, and was selected as an astronaut, he wasn’t much of a Christian. Yes, when he married and became a father, he and his family attended church every Sunday, but their lives were different behind closed doors.

Duke retired from NASA in the mid-70s and was frustrated with his new career in the private sector. Plus, he was having a difficult time at home. “My wife and I were heading for a divorce,” he said.

But around this time, his wife gave her life to Christ, and slowly Duke began to change, too. In 1978, he and his wife accepted an invitation to attend a weekend retreat. Duke admitted he really wasn’t interested in going at first, but when the event ended, he kept focusing on certain Bible verses, like John 3:16. He then began to realize that either those verses were true, or they were “the biggest lie ever perpetuated on humanity, and I get to decide.”

Suddenly, the truth became clear.

“Sitting in my automobile, I looked over at Dotty, and I said, ‘Dotty, there’s no doubt in my heart that Jesus Christ is the son of God,’ and I said, ‘Lord, I give you my life,’ and I experienced the peace of God for the very first time in my life,” he said.

As God’s peace fell over him, Duke said there were no blinding lights, booming voices or angelic hosts descending from heaven. “But I knew that I made the right decision, and I knew that my life was going to change from that moment on,” Duke said.

And it did.

First, Duke began to experience an insatiable desire to read the Bible, and little by little, God’s Word changed him. He became a better husband as he worked to love his wife in the way Jesus loves the church, and he became a better father by recognizing he had to stop what he called his “explosive” temper around his two boys.

In addition to making a difference in his family, which now includes nine grandchildren, Duke also recognized a need to place God above money. It’s a practice he still preaches, and one found in the creation of Duke Ministry for Christ, a nonprofit he and his wife founded to help spread the love of Jesus.

In 1990, the Dukes published Moonwalker, a biography of sorts, which explains Duke’s 11-day space mission as well as his testimony.

Duke and his Dotty, who live in New Braunfels, Texas, enjoy traveling and speaking to groups all over the world. Even though he has accomplished many incredible feats, including serving as Apollo 11’s Capcom or the voice that first answered Neil Armstrong during the first moon landing, Duke said sharing his faith story is the most important thing he can do.

“I have shared my story standing on pool tables, in bars, any place that people will come out. Some people won’t come to churches, but they’ll come out for pizza and beer,” he said, adding that he feels he is doing exactly what God wants him to do.

“Through prophetic words, God told me, ‘I’ve had my hand on you ever since you were born. I have guided your steps. You didn’t realize it. My plan for you was always to land on the moon, then use that platform to go out and touch the world,’” Duke said, explaining that his message is simple, “God loves you.”

Duke collects lunar samples at the Descartes landing site of the moon. The parked lunar vehicle can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy of NASA’s Apollo Image Gallery
A view of Earth as photographed from Apollo 16, the nation’s fifth moon landing mission. — Photo courtesy of NASA’s Apollo Image Gallery
Duke snapped this photo because he wanted to show his young sons that he really did leave their family photo on the surface of the moon. — Photo courtesy of NASA Apollo Image Gallery.
Faith Life, November 2018

Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life with Coach Dale Brown

(Dale Brown was the men’s head basketball coach at Louisiana State University from 1972 to 1997. During his 25 years at LSU, the Tigers won 448 games, appeared in 13 NCAA Tournaments, and earned Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1986.)

Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life with Coach Dale Brown

By Dale Brown

Finding Happiness and Success By Coach Dale Brown

 (In the October issue of Christian Life Magazine, Dale Brown, former LSU men’s basketball coach, shared his thoughts on family and faith. In this issue, he offers advice for those who strive to find happiness and success in their lives.) 

Athletics gave me my first good self-image. I had a terrible inferiority complex, coming from a home with no father and surviving on welfare. Athletics helped me begin to see myself in a different light, as a person who is more than the circumstances into which I was born. From athletics, I also learned what true discipline meant. I learned teamwork. I learned respect for others. All these lessons gave me the opportunity to obtain a scholarship to go to college and get an education for which I am eternally grateful. 

Athletics also allowed me to meet the man whom many consider the greatest coach ever to have lived and the finest man I’ve ever met, former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden. Coach Wooden taught me the truth about success. He said, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort in becoming the best that you are capable of becoming.” 

Of all the things I’ve learned in my life, this is one lesson I truly strived to teach the athletes I coached to help them prepare not only for sports but also for life beyond sports. 

The hurdles to happiness I used to share with our athletes my belief that we live in a world of paradoxes and that these paradoxes create many of the problems we encounter. To build a life that is meaningful and fulfilling, we must see that so much of our life can be consumed with things that are not critical for our happiness. Getting rich or being famous has displaced the development of a meaningful philosophy of life and the more we are connected to the illusion of success, the greater will be our disconnection from finding true happiness. 

So what can we do? To find happiness and success, we all must learn to jump over the four hurdles of life. These are things we can’t con, cheat, barter, buy, or lie our way over. Instead, we have to meet them head on. All of us can get over these hurdles if we have commitment and the discipline to do it. Commitment and discipline are the spinal cord of true success. Until one is committed, there is hesitation. When our focus changes, our life will change.

It’s difficult to get over these four hurdles, because there are so many temptations that might distract us — the temptation to take the shortcut, to cheat, to manipulate, to maneuver, to not work hard. But when we face and overcome these four hurdles, we can achieve true success and find happiness.

Hurdle One: “I Can’t”

We don’t even scratch the surface of our greatness. Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can do with commitment and perseverance. If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would astonish ourselves. It is easier, however, to make excuses about why we can’t do something or to blame others for making our success impossible. Once you blame others, you’ve given up the power to change. It’s easier to say, “I can’t,” so we have to learn to overcome that.

When we stop making excuses or looking to place blame, we can achieve amazing things. For example, Walt Disney was advised to pursue another line of work because he’d never be a successful cartoonist or movie producer. Albert Einstein’s teacher told him he was not smart enough to pursue an education and should drop out of school. And then there is a young man I coached, Shaquille O’Neal. He told me once at our summer basketball camp, “People always used to tell me, ‘You’re not going to be anything.’ But I never gave up.” He was cut from his high school basketball team. His coach told him he was too slow, too clumsy, his feet were too big, and he would never be a successful basketball player … so maybe he should try to be a soccer goalie.

Disney, O’Neal and countless others had a belief system that they could do it. They were able to overcome hurdle number one and go on to do spectacular things. A poem written years ago tells it like it is:

If you think you are beaten, you are

If you think you dare not, you don’t

If you like to win, but think you can’t It is almost certain you won’t

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost

For out in the world we find

Success begins with a fellow’s will

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are

You’ve got to think high to rise

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man But sooner or later, the man who wins Is the man who thinks he can — (C.W. Longenecker)

Hurdle Two: Overcoming Failure

The second hurdle we have to overcome is failure. Success often is built on multiple failures. Until we learn to derive lessons from our failures, we’ll keep repeating those failures and keep digging ourselves into a deeper hole. The secret to success is in rising every time you fall and in never giving up. My dear friend Bob Richards told me years ago that your FQ (failure quotient) is more important than you IQ.

History provides us with numerous examples of highly successful people who confronted many, and major, failures but who still made their dreams come true. Failure’s only a detour and an opportunity to begin again. The most successful people I know, in almost every profession, have not been afraid to fail. When they have fallen down, they get back up. Adversity only visits the strong, but stays forever with the weak.

In July 1954, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a wonderful speech called “What Is Man?” He said, “We know that man is made for the stars, created for the everlasting, and born for eternity. We know that man’s crowned with glory and honor. But so long as he lives on the low level, he’ll be frustrated, disillusioned, and bewildered.”

Failure must not shackle us. Henry David Thoreau hit the nail on the head when he said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” So we’ve got to quit worrying about our mistakes. It doesn’t do any good. We’ve got to replace worry with positive action. We shouldn’t be afraid. We can do it if we fully commit ourselves.

Every day we walk this earth, our courage will be tested in some way. But if we approach life one day at a time, we won’t break down. There are two days we shouldn’t worry about — yesterday and tomorrow. When we live in those two eternities, we lose what is today and will not be ready to face the challenges it brings.

Never lose faith in yourself. Faith can calm the stormy seas of our lives and the boldness of faith is so powerful that nothing can stop it.

Hurdle Three: Handicaps

Quite simply, a handicap is a disadvantage that makes achievement difficult. We all have handicaps of some sort, whether we recognize them or not. To succeed, we have to confront our handicaps and overcome them. You can learn a great deal about yourself when you are staring your handicap in the eye. You have the choice to respond by accepting your handicap as final and then giving up, or by accepting your handicap as another challenge to overcome and then fighting to achieve in spite of it.

Paul Anderson was diagnosed with Bright’s disease at the age of five. Bright’s disease affects the kidneys and causes lifelong health issues. It can be fatal in some cases. Paul refused to accept the limitations of his condition. He worked every day to build himself up and become as strong as he could. He began to weight-lift competitively and went on to win the U.S. National Amateur Athletic Union Weightlifting Championship and the gold medal in the super heavyweight division in the 1956 summer Olympics. He also broke nine weightlifting world records. He was commonly called “the strongest man in the world.”

When I was a high school coach in North Dakota, I read that Paul was going to appear at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) camp in Estes Park, Colorado. I said, “I’m driving there. I’ve got to see this world record holder. I’ve got to see this unbelievable human being.” I wanted to know what made him do it and how he did it.

I drove to Estes Park and sat in the front row anxiously awaiting to hear his secret to success. He walked onto the stage, not saying a word. Onstage were two sawhorses and a two-by-four board lying across them. Paul stepped back, took a ten-penny nail from a nearby podium, took a handkerchief, which he held in his hand, stepped back, and with one thrust of his hand, drove the nail right through the two-by-four. Then he looked at the audience and said, “Good morning, everybody. My name is Paul Anderson. I am the strongest man in the history of the world and I cannot live one day without God.”

I learned that day that I can’t live one day without God either. Powerful and strong though we think we are, when we learn this wonderful lesson, as Paul did, we can overcome any handicap.

Hurdle Four: Knowing Yourself

The fourth and final hurdle is the struggle to know yourself. This is the hardest one for us all. Who am I? Where am I going? What do I want from life? George Bernard Shaw said, “People are one of three things: what they think they are, what others think they are, and what they really are.” When we really know ourselves, we begin to develop. Real confidence comes from knowing and accepting ourselves, knowing our strengths and limitations, as opposed to depending upon affirmation from others. The beginning of wisdom is being honest with ourselves.

The most noble and perfect victory is the triumph over one’s self. Muhammad Ali, maybe the greatest boxer of all time, commented that he had achieved complete success by the world’s standards, but that success had not brought him true happiness. He concluded that the only sure way for people to be happy was to be honest with themselves and give their lives to God.

“Pistol Pete” Maravich, whom I consider the greatest college basketball player ever, averaged 44 points a game. He had everything in the world, but he said all of it — the money, fame, and other things — left him empty. Only when he totally submitted and gave his life to God did he find true success and happiness. For these men, and for us as well, knowing ourselves means recognizing our dependence on God. Knowing ourselves means being able to say with confidence, “I can, and I deserve to, find happiness and success because I’m made in the image of God. So under no circumstances will I ever lose hope or give up, no matter what my failures are.”

Only the truth about yourself can set you free and relieve you of self-doubt. Peter Wimbrow’s wonderful piece, The Man in the Glass is great food for thought for all of us.

When you get what you want in your struggle for self

And the world makes you king for a day

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife

Whose judgment upon you must pass

The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may be like Jack Homer and chisel a plum

And think you’re a wonderful guy

But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum

If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest

For he’s with you clear to the end

And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years

And get pats on the back as you pass

But your final reward will be heartache and tears

If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

In the October issue of Christian Life Magazine, Dale Brown, former LSU men’s basketball coach, shared his thoughts on family and faith. In this issue, he offers advice for those who strive to find happiness and success in their lives.)

 You can order “Getting Over  the Four Hurdles of Life” at or reach out to Dale Brown at 

Faith Life, October 2018

Heritage Ranch, A Haven for Troubled Youth

Heritage Ranch

A Place for Kids in Crisis

by Lisa Tramontana

Heritage Ranch covers more than 50 acres in Zachary, about 20 miles from Baton Rouge

In the summer of 2016, Vicki Ellis had plenty of reason to be proud. The residential program she had founded for troubled youth was thriving. It had taken a decade of planning and fundraising, but Heritage Ranch Christian Children’s Home in Zachary was firmly established with its first five residents making great progress academically, behaviorally, and spiritually.

And then came the flood.

The 52-acre property, the office, the beautiful home where the boys lived with their house parents — all were under water now, damaged beyond belief. Ellis would have to start over. The ranch would have to be closed. But worse than anything, the boys would have to be sent home. Imagine Ellis’ disappointment and sadness.

Fortunately, Ellis is a fighter and was determined not to give up. Heritage Ranch had been a dream since she was a teenager, and she had poured her heart and soul into seeing that dream come true.

“The damage was estimated at $570,000,” she said, “but we rebuilt. The boys continued the program with outpatient counseling, and we were fortunate that so many people helped us by donating supplies, gutting buildings … completely renovating the ranch.”

Slowly, the broken pieces were put back together. Heritage Ranch officially reopened last January with a new group of boys who live with house parents Tori and Gage Caszatt, and residential advisor Kyle Sheppard. The program is designed for boys age 10 to 18 dealing with anxiety, depression and mild to moderate behavioral disorders. They are most often referred by schools, churches, counselors or law enforcement. Many parents say they were out of options and felt they had nowhere else to turn when they discovered Heritage Ranch.

Applicants go through a detailed screening process to ensure they will benefit from the structured model and Christian environment. Those with a history of violence or sexually inappropriate behavior are not accepted. With a focus on counseling and education in a disciplined environment, the hope is to reunite the boys with their families in a period of about 18 months.

The boys participate in school, recreational activities, family dinners, nightly devotions, youth group meetings and daily chores. They return home every other weekend and on holidays. “We expect them to do their schoolwork, get along with their peers and be respectful to others,” Ellis said. “We use a ‘choice and consequence’ model to teach them that their actions matter.”

In other words, along with love, praise and support in a family setting, the boys also understand that a refusal to follow rules results in a loss of privileges.

“They understand this concept,” Ellis said. “If they act out, they know that the consequence might be extra chores or an early bedtime. In their homes, they might have yelled and screamed and pushed their parents until they gave in, but that doesn’t happen here.”

Many parents are conflicted about sending their children to a residential program, often because they feel as if they are giving up. But one of the program’s most appealing aspects is family counseling that involves the parents, siblings and anyone else who participates in the raising of the child.

Josh Atwell is the development and marketing director at Heritage Ranch. He promotes the program through social media, annual reports, an E newsletter, and a soon-to-be produced podcast. He also helps with fundraising by working with local businesses, donors and churches in the community.

“The Heritage Ranch program is a journey of small victories and defeats,” he said, describing an adolescent in the program who refused to engage with the staff. At first, the boy wouldn’t come out of his room, and when he finally did, he refused to wear the appropriate clothing. For a time, he refused to participate in group activities. But in just a few days, his attitude changed. One morning, he joined the other boys for a game of basketball, and they cheered and welcomed him. “These were all small steps,” Atwell said, “but they were steps in the right direction.”

“What we’re doing here is life-changing. It’s transformative,” Ellis said. “We want the kids to experience the love of Christ and instill in them the values Christ modeled for us. We want them to know that the people in our lives may hurt and disappoint us … but God is always here for us and he loves us unconditionally.”

Ellis’ master plan is to eventually have 10 houses that serve 60 boys and girls – and to provide counseling for 200 to 300 family members. Considering the work she is doing and the difference she’s making in the lives of so many families, it will certainly be worth the wait.

“This isn’t easy work,” she said. “It requires the Lord to work through us in order to be successful.”

There are many ways to support Heritage Ranch. Volunteers are welcome on the first Saturday of each month. Anyone interested in volunteering should visit the website at to apply. The website also includes more details about the program and its staff, and opportunities to donate. You can also call (225) 658-1800.

Residents and staff members pose for a photo at Heritage Ranch.
Game night!
An annual golf tournament is one of Heritage Ranch’s major fundraisers.
Bike rides are a favorite activity at Heritage Ranch.
Faith Life, September 2018

S.T.A.R.S. Local Pilots Teach Kids to Soar

The rainy morning did not stop the flights!
Pastors Alber and Adraine White of Abounding Love Ministries, Inc. is the church behind the S.T.A.R.S. Camp.
The Kids enjoyed the experience.
Most were all smiles, some flying for the first time.
The leaders had as much fun as the children.
Right after the flight!
Pilots Gabriel Rincon, Albert Rutherford, Edgar Blevins, and Scott Barrow gathered to support the aviation education through the S.T.A.R.S. program. (Smith Thomas not pictured)

S.T.A.R.S: Local Pilots Teach Kids to Soar

On a steamy morning, a small plane taxies onto a runway at Baton Rouge Metro Airport. An elementary school-age youth climbs out of a passenger’s seat. “I was flying!” he says.

It’s a lesson in courage and trust that local pastors and pilots hope will inspire a new generation to think beyond the ordinary – to explore limitless possibilities.

Five local pilots recently volunteered to take kids on their first flights – an aerial tour of the Mississippi River, the state capitol grounds, LSU and Southern University. The excursion marked the end of an eight-week S.T.A.R.S. course in aviation basics with a Biblical application. For 14 years, S.T.A.R.S. (Students That Are Reaching Success) has employed a no-boundaries approach to teach kids to soar spiritually as they excel academically.

S.T.A.R.S. founder Albert White of Abounding Love Ministries, with the support of pastor/wife Adraine, partners with the YMCA and BREC to provide education, enrichment experiences and recreation every Saturday, plus an eight-week summer camp at Saia Park on North Donmoor Avenue. During the academic year, they also offer after-school tutorials and preparation for standardized tests along with instruction in social skills and strategies for coping with challenging life situations.

“It’s just amazing to see what God has done,” White said. Through the Soaring Stars element of the curriculum, he is hoping to awaken a passion for flying and show kids that their dreams are achievable. The five pilots – Bishop Calvin Emery, Scott Barrow, Edgar Blevins, Smith Thomas and Gabe Rincon – immediately agreed to the idea.

“I’m glad to help children get a different perspective on life,” pilot Scott Barrow said. “It gives you a different way of thinking, a different perspective. I’m hoping they’ll get excited about learning how to fly.”

“As a kid I always wanted to fly,” said Dr. Edgar Blevins, a pilot and mechanical engineering professor at Southern University. “All kids love airplanes and cars. So we thought this would be a good way to introduce the kids to aviation and the Word at the same time.” He and fellow pilot Dr. Calvin Emery, pastor of Times of Refreshing World Outreach Ministries, designed and served as co-instructors for the aviation curriculum.

“For each of the aerodynamics, from communications to flight characteristics to going places, there is a Bible verse and technical side,” Blevins said. “We taught them about the first principles of flight, the aerodynamics of the plane: lift, weight, thrust and drag,” Emery said. “God wants to lift you; the wings want to lift you.”

“One of the forces acting on a plane is drag,” Blevins said. “The drag can slow down the airplane – affect its flying characteristics.”

“God wants to thrust you, but drag is trying to come against you,” Emery said. We linked that to people that you shouldn’t be around – non-positive individuals,” Blevins said. “All kinds of things – sex before marriage – that stuff will pull you down.”

“A lot of kids pass by the airport; they don’t know what happens on this side of the fence, especially low-income African-American kids,” Emery said. “They see another African-American, a male, doing the thing that they might like. They realize that if he can do it, I can do it.”

Personal examples make the difference, according to fellow pilot Albert Rutherford. He shared an interest in airplanes with his father, who took him to watch the planes on weekends. “At eight years old I remember peering through the fence and seeing the magnificent men in the flying machines, knowing at that time – I’m going to become a pilot,” he said.

Some 20 years later, a pilot stopped and asked him, “Do you fly?” When he replied, “No, but one day,” the pilot challenged him. “He said, ‘You’re the only person that can make it happen. You’ve got to make the money and find the time. But until you do that – make that decision – it’ll always be “one day.”’ Now in his 42nd year as a pilot, Rutherford lectures and shares a documentary on the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the African-American squadron known as one of the most highly esteemed fighter groups in World War II.

It’s that sort of motivation that camp director Ella Sue Evans hopes to inspire in kids – because kids don’t dream big dreams until they’ve been introduced to big ideas. And rather than selecting a few children to hold starring roles – as schools tend to do – the camp involves many children in a wide spectrum of activities including Spanish and chess classes. The results can be surprising.

“Our children have hidden talents that need to be exposed to the community and so this is an opportunity for them,” said Evans. At the end-of-camp finale, everyone performs. “Everybody gets an opportunity, because sometimes their parents don’t even know that they can sing, don’t know that they can dance, sometimes don’t even know that they have this gift inside of them.”

“We wanted to make sure that we prepared the children for the next academic school year, so that’s one of our biggest goals for the summer,” Evans said. Under the strategic leadership of program director Yvonne Bey, kids are involved in academics, enrichment and recreation. The camp, attracting as many as 200 kids, is funded in part by a state grant.

The influence of the camp and its mentors is far-reaching. Some former students return to pour into the lives of other kids. “We have the opportunity to impress so many young people,” Evans said. “I get fulfillment just seeing them come back. It brings joy to my heart that my work has not been in vain.”

“It really helped establish who I am as a person,” said former camper Suzanne Hartford. A graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Hartford now runs Studio 29:11 and teaches dance at the camp. “The creed we learned talks about being a star and being a student who is reaching for success all the time – in the community, at school and at home.”

“That’s my mindset,” said Emery. “That’s why I became a pilot. I wanted to fulfill the dream I had since I was a kid. That can take you from doing something destructive to something constructive. It’s about doing something you never thought possible.”

Through the Soaring Stars element of the curriculum, the instructors hope to awaken a passion for flying and show kids that their dreams are achievable. The pilots, including Edgar Blevins, Gabriel Rincon, Calvin Emery, Smith Thomas and Scott Barrow donated their time and planes to offer the campers an unforgettable experience.

Susan Brown began her career in radio news. She was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds master’s degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and served as a chaplain at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

Faith Life, July 2018

Faith Life, A Life of Service

A Life of Service

by Sharon Holeman

Ken Spivey and his wife Amy
Chaplain Ken Spivey and Healing Place Church Spanish Campus Pastor Fernando Gutierrez serve with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.

They were on their way out. Ministry was done for the day, and it was time to go home. Standing in front of the elevator, Ken Spivey was suddenly overwhelmed by a vision from the Lord and began weeping. His friend and fellow pastor who stood beside him raised an eyebrow. “We have to go back,” Spivey said. “What? Why?” replied his friend, weary from the day. “We have to go back,” Spivey repeated, this time with urgency.

Together they returned to the last hospital room they had visited. An elderly man who seemed to be only partially present during their previous conversation was now awake. The two pastors greeted him again as Spivey gently explained, “Your daughter sent us. She is concerned about your spirituality.” “I don’t understand,” the man answered. Speaking with his usual calm and kind tone, Spivey responded: “I’ll go slow.” The gospel message was explained, and upon acceptance from the patient, a prayer of salvation through faith in Jesus was said. Now the night of ministry was indeed done. About three hours later, the man in the hospital bed died.

Miracle stories and moments like this flow almost as an unending river when speaking with Spivey about his life of service for Jesus. Called at the age of six, this Texas-raised boy who married the little girl that lived down the street, is more of a servant than most of us dare to let our imaginations ever think we could be. He manages to travel from crisis to crisis with an unexplainable peace that can be nothing other than the spirit of the Lord. He has seen things — and had to minister to others who have seen things — that go unmeasurably beyond the evil of today’s prime time drama shows. When asked how he manages to live and serve in conditions like this, he says without hesitation, “God’s grace.”

Spivey said he feels closest to God when he is serving. “Almost weekly, I will walk by someone, and the Holy Spirit will tell me to go back.” Nine times out of ten the person is receptive, and Spivey’s words of faith are well received.

While it’s exciting to know that God is using you to reach the hurting world, the level of servitude Spivey walks in daily can be exhausting. He frequents hospitals and funeral homes. He listens and counsels with confidentiality, seemingly always on call, and living in response mode. As a public servant, sheriff, pastor and Christian … how does this man, who works as the hands and feet of Christ, bear the price of a life lived in service to others? “It’s cost more for my family than for me,” he says.

Thankfully, he’s been blessed with an amazing wife. Amy, that little girl down the street, grew up surrounded by pastors and ministers, including her father, grandfather and all her uncles. She knew the lifestyle and long hours of ministry. Married for more than 30 years, the Spiveys have a wonderful family. Quality time is precious. That’s the hard part of service. The collateral damage that sometimes happens when we lay aside our life and our priorities to serve others like Jesus. According to Spivey, service can be summed up in one word: others. “It’s cost everything,” he said, “but given everything. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Ken Spivey is chaplain for the St. Amant Fire Department, Deputy Sheriff/chaplain at Ascension Parish Sherriff’s Office; and associate pastor in the Pastoral Care/Counseling Department at Healing Place.



Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator, and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles-12 American Women, 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word. 

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Faith Life, July 2018

Faith Life, The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

By Lisa Tramontana

Bill Smith was one of the founders of the Cowboys ministry for Christ

It’s hard to know where to start when describing Bill Smith. Father and husband, insurance professional, Sunday school teacher, LSU football player, prison minister, chili cook, Bible deliveryman, cowboy …

Well, we might as well start there …

Even now, in his early 80s, Smith is entirely comfortable in his well-worn cowboy hat and boots, moving cattle. At least twice a year, he joins friends in Lottie, Louisiana (about halfway between Baton Rouge and Opelousas) to move cattle from one pasture to another and provide them with medical care, including weighing them and administering shots.

It’s not such an unusual hobby when you consider that Smith grew up in north Louisiana, in an area known as Texarkana. He was surrounded by horses, cattle, and cowboys. He grew up with a strong Christian faith, thanks to his mother, who was half Cherokee. “She was a tiny woman, about 110 pounds,” Smith said, “and she made sure I went to church every Sunday. She knew everybody! Every morning, she’d get up early and make two big pots of coffee, and neighbors and friends would drop by all morning. They’d just sit and talk. Everyone was welcome.”

Smith says he recalls his father going to church exactly twice in his lifetime. He was a good man, Smith said, but quiet about his faith. “I was really lucky to have family and friends, preachers, even a high school coach who really cared about me and set a good example for me to live my life.”

In 1954, Smith arrived at LSU on a football scholarship and roomed with Jim Taylor, who went on to play for 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. The two were not only roommates and teammates, but they also shared a deep Christian faith. For years afterward, Smith was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and even served as president in the 1970s.

Like most young men, marriage, family and work eventually became his focus, but Smith was constantly looking for ways to practice his faith. His daughter, Stacy Bennett, says she couldn’t have asked for a better father or role model.

“My dad was always a very hands-on man who worked hard and set a positive example for his children,” she said. “He always made it clear that God and his family came first in his life. Many times over the years, I’d hear people tease him and say he missed his calling — that he should have been a minister.”

Apparently, that was on his to-do list as well, although he chose to minister to inmates at Angola. In fact, he was instrumental in founding Cowboys for Christ, an organization designed to share the gospel and reflect God’s love with prisoners who sought a relationship with Christ. That was more than 40 years ago, and it remains one of Smith’s biggest accomplishments. The ministry is nationwide and today, includes Cowboy Church, which is conducted at rodeos, trail rides and county fairs. Cowboys for Christ was also the inspiration for the popular Angola Prison Rodeo, which is held twice a year in the fall and in the spring.

Since retirement, Smith has joined his friend, retired Judge Darrell White, in a special project of the American Judicial Alliance. The group personally delivers replicas of the Harlan Bible to judges and courthouses across the country.* Armed with their commemorative Bibles, the two have made road trips to Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and beyond.

Judge White has been impressed by Smith’s energy and optimism. “Bill is Baton Rouge’s 24/7 goodwill ambassador and good Samaritan,” said Judge White. “He literally drives around town looking for trouble — with jumper cables, a full gas can, and a tow rope in his truck bed so he can assist stranded motorists. And he’s active in nursing home visitation, prison ministry and a host of other Christlike activities. He’s a living, breathing example of James 1:26-27.”

In spite of his busy schedule, Smith still finds time to work as a Sunday school teacher at Parkview Baptist Church, and he leads several Bible studies in the area, including at local nursing homes. It seems there is always someone to help.

“I love God,” Smith said. “It really is as simple as that. So it makes me happy to be the kind of person He wants me to be. It’s not hard! Smile at people, thank them, hold the door open, do someone a favor, offer your friendship. There are opportunities everywhere to be a good Christian.”

*In 1906 Justice John Marshall Harlan dedicated a Bible to the U.S. Supreme Court. Since then, every Supreme Court justice has signed the Bible’s flyleaf, a tradition now being replicated by the American Judicial Alliance.

“Bill is Baton Rouge’s 24/7 goodwill ambassador and good Samaritan. He literally drives around town looking for trouble — with jumper cables, a full gas can, and a tow rope in his truck bed so he can assist stranded motorists.”
Retired Judge Darrell White

Faith Life, June 2018

Faith Life, Jack Lynch on the Trinity in your Life

The Trinity IN Your Life


Jack is a teacher at Radio Bible Courses, LTD.

So, what about your Christian life? How do you reconcile what you read in Scripture with the way you live your life in this world? Is there a disconnect? If you want that intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you cannot deal with the problems of the world in a worldly way.

1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The world is the world system set in opposition to God. To love the world or the things in the world is to love that which is opposed to God, the One the believer claims to love. If you’re doing these things, then you’re not loving the Father.

How do believers live godly lives? Let’s see how the Trinity can, and should, guide your life.

Having been made in God’s image, and knowing the love that the Father has shown us by sending His Son to die for our sins (in our place and on our behalf), we long to love —and be loved by — our Father. John addresses this in 1 John 4:16: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

Yes, abiding in God and His love is easy to say but harder to do, since we have a sinful nature. But the Trinity’s ministry in your life will enable a yieldedness to the Spirit, which involves abandoning one’s self-will and living God’s way. Here’s how it works:

Jesus taught that believers receive everlasting life at the very moment they believe in Him … eternal life becomes the present possession of everyone who believes in Him. And Jesus described His role in the present outworking of our eternal life when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). So, beyond the moment of saving faith, there is a more abundant life in Christ to be lived.

The Father sent the Son away from His side to die for our sins. Then, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, believers are placed “in Christ,” and are forever identified with Him. The Spirit then empowers believers to live this eternal life they have been given in the here and now. It only makes sense. What would be the point of God giving you eternal life now if all you could do is live the same sinful, unproductive lifestyle?

In Romans 6:4, Paul makes the connection between Jesus and living our eternal life now: “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Since the proof that Christ died for all sin lies in the fact that He was raised from the dead by the Father, and since we believers were placed “in Christ,” then His death to sin was ours! Believers are no longer “slaves of sin,” but “should walk in newness of life.”

In this victorious life, Christians are empowered by the Spirit to resist sinning, and to accomplish God’s will for him or her. (Romans 6:6 says of believers: “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him [Christ] … that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

The Father’s love for you sent the Son to die for you so that the Spirit may lead you. Through the Trinity’s work in and for you, you “put to death the deeds of the body.” (Romans 8:13). This is how you live your eternal life now, in Christ and by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 echoes this: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Never underestimate the effectiveness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to transform the believer into Christlike living. Romans 6:5 says, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

Describing Jesus as “the glory of the Lord,” Paul writes of the role of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to accomplish this transformation to Christlike living in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

You become like the things to which you give your attention. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!”

Jack Lynch teaches at Radio Bible Courses, Ltd., which was founded by Dr. Nick Kalivoda. The class meets weekly from  9:15-10:00  at Burden Conference Center, 4560 Essen Lane. The class is open to everyone, and offers a Q&A each week. In June Louis Hillard will be teaching from the book of Revelation. Details are available at

Faith Life, June 2018

Faith Life, Isaac Hammond on why he loves being a “CASA” Advocate for children

Called to Serve as a CASA Volunteer

CASA volunteer Isaac Hammond began his journey with Capital Area CASA Association in March of 2017. During the Sunday worship service at Neely United Methodist Church, there was a message about the mission of CASA and the need for volunteers to be advocates for abused children in the community. Hammond, the pastor of the church, said it was then that the Lord placed on his heart a desire to reach out. He is now in his eighth month as a CASA volunteer.

“I feel that I was called to be a CASA volunteer because in my ministry, I deal with a lot of children with issues in their community and homes,” he said. “I have always had a love for working with children whether it is in Sunday school, Vacation Bible School or coaching the youth basketball team. I love to see children succeed in life and go on to be productive citizens in society.”

Hammond says he wanted to help a child who might not have had all the benefits in life that he did. “There might be something they must overcome to reach the goal that God has called for them,” he said. “So I believe if I can do anything to help someone along the way in life, then my living will not be in vain.”

Volunteers often develop a close relationship with their CASA child. “The biggest payoff of all is seeing a smile on a child’s face … displaying the feeling that they are experiencing someone who is sincere with them.”

Hammond encourages others to get involved with CASA. “God calls us to reach out to help those that may be in need of help,” he said. “It’s our job to fulfill the Great Commission to go out into the world and lead people to a successful life and to happiness.”

His religion has played a role in his participation, Hammond added. “It’s our job as Christians to participate in services (such as CASA) that God has created to help society. It’s our job as Christians to be there, to speak up, and to look out for those who cannot do this for themselves.”

Capital Area CASA is always looking for volunteers to step up and be the voices for abused children in East Baton Rouge Parish. Men and African American volunteers are especially needed. To learn more about CASA. visit call (225) 379-8598. You can also visit the office at 848 Louisiana Avenue in Baton Rouge.

Faith Life, May 2018

Finding Myself

Finding Myself

by Julia Summers

In early October of 2017, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I have battled against my eating disorder since I was a freshman in high school, but it became dangerous in my senior year of high school. Throughout the past three years, my anorexia and the image I have of myself and my body is how I searched for my identity. Rather than judging myself by my heart or the kind of person I am, I based my value and worth on how thin I could be. A vicious cycle of self-starvation and pain is how I lived my life for three years. Actions to save my life were not taken until I could no longer physically live with my disorder.

Against my will at the time, my parents made the difficult decision to admit me to a treatment center in Arizona. Naturally, I was terrified and angry. I was unwilling to recognize that I had a problem with eating and with food. The restricting and self-loathing was second nature to me and I was unable to see what everyone else clearly could.

October 14, 2017 was the day my heart shattered to pieces. I arrived in the blazing heat of Wickenburg, Arizona and was admitted to Remuda Ranch, a treatment facility for women with eating disorders. I cried and yelled and felt pain like no other as my parents were driven off the campus. I questioned how God could abandon me, and how my parents could see my pain and allow me to suffer by staying alone in Arizona. I begged them to take me home, to not leave me. I still clearly remember how distorted and disturbed my thinking was those first several days. I cursed God and I told my own father that I hated him. I told the one man in my life that would do absolutely anything to save my life that I despised him for what he did. My eating disorder had become my identity. My brain was no longer my own. For so long, my voice could not be heard.

At the ranch, there are three houses that patients move through. I started in the first house, which was the critical care unit. I was to live in this house, named Ocotillo, until I was more physically stable than when I arrived. At Ocotillo, I was culture shocked to say the very least. The basic freedoms and lifestyle I had been living in were completely stripped from me. Simple, daily routines that I normally would not think twice about soon became a privilege. Standing up, walking from one room to another, or even using the restroom whenever I wanted was something that was out of reach for me. Although I can see now that all the limitations and rules put in place were for the good of my recovery, I was angry, confused and hurt at the time. It took weeks to finally accept that I needed help.

It was not until I moved into the second house, Mariposa, that I started to make strong efforts to recover. I began to recognize my mind as separate from my eating disorder, and discover who I was without my anorexia and my self-destructive thoughts. This was one of the most daunting elements of my recovery, and is still something I struggle with now. I remind myself daily that my eating disorder does not rule my life. It does not have the right to dictate my emotions or decide whether or not I put up a fight against it.

The choice to live is up to me, and after the first few weeks in Arizona, I decided my life was worth living. I learned that my identity is not found in the way my body looks or a number on the scale. It is found in God alone. He is the only one who has my name written on his palm, and who is guiding me through every storm. He will never leave me, no matter how lonely or abandoned I may feel.

I was not alone in Arizona, and I am not alone now. He has always been by my side, and he always will be.

Julia Summers, 18, is a senior at The Dunham School. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, she plans to attend Louisiana State University in August. Writing is one of Julia’s passions, a way for her to express herself. She also enjoys being outdoors and experience God’s creation through nature.

Bishop Ronald for Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
April 2018, Faith Life



Bishop Ronald for Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
Bishop Ronald Hardy, Sr. is the Pastor of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Centers of Baton Rouge and St. Francisville, Louisiana

Today, I want to inspire you to open your heart to experience t

he blessing of forgiveness. The

word blessing is defined as a beneficial thing for which one i

s grateful, something that brings

well-being. It is important to understand that forgiveness is

for our well-being. The Lord knows

what is best for us. This is why He commands us to forgive.

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness.

So, why is this so important to

know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the sh

ort end of the stick when you

operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are not.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Co

rinth in II Corinthians 2:10-11:


whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it

, for your

sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are

not ignorant of his devices.

”Today, I want to inspire you to open your heart to experience t

he blessing of forgiveness. The

word blessing is defined as a beneficial thing for which one i

s grateful, something that brings

well-being. It is important to understand that forgiveness is

for our well-being. The Lord knows

what is best for us. This is why He commands us to forgive.

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness.

So, why is this so important to

know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the sh

ort end of the stick when you

operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are not.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Co

rinth in II Corinthians 2:10-11:


whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it

, for your

sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are

not ignorant of his devices.

”Today, I want to inspire you to open your heart to experience t

he blessing of forgiveness. The

word blessing is defined as a beneficial thing for which one i

s grateful, something that brings

well-being. It is important to understand that forgiveness is

for our well-being. The Lord knows

what is best for us. This is why He commands us to forgive.

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness.

So, why is this so important to

know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the sh

ort end of the stick when you

operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are no

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness. So, why is this so important to know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the short end of the stick when you operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are not.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Corinth in II Corinthians 2:10-11: “To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

You see, unforgiveness allows Satan to get the advantage over us.  However, forgiveness allows us to get the advantage over him. So, you should never feel that you are coming up on the short end of the stick when you operate in true forgiveness. So, let’s look at some of the Blessings of Forgiveness.

 Ephesians 4:30-32 says, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Forgiveness allows us to experience freedom to properly move forward in life. You must forgive, so you can put the past behind you. As long as your past is before you, it will block you from properly seeing your future, and it will also hinder you from embracing your present.

You see, unforgiveness keeps us emotionally trapped, which can result in different types of unhealthy emotions like bitterness, rage or anger. Bitterness is a smoldering resentment or wrath that produces rage. Rage is the heat of passion in the moment of anger. Anger is a more internally deep form of hostility or clamor[1]. You cannot allow yourself to stay trapped in these emotions, because it will rob you of God’s best for your life. Forgiveness is the key to getting free from these emotions. It is time for you to experience a freedom in your life through the Blessing of Forgiveness.

The second Blessing of Forgiveness is that it allows us to experience a new beginning. God’s open display of forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, opens the door for a new beginning. Colossians 1:14 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” It is through His forgiveness that we are able to have a new-found relationship with Him.

            Forgiveness will always leave the door open for a possible “new start” in your relationship with the individual that you are forgiving. It is the key to leaving the door open for a possibility of another chance with that individual. However, please remember that forgiveness does not mean that you should continue to put yourself in the same position to be mistreated again. Forgiveness means that you are not holding any resentment, hatred or wishing any ill will towards that particular individual.

            Let me share a story with you about a new beginning. A young couple in my church was about to have their first child, which caused the wife to think about her husband’s situation with his father. The husband knew of his father, but he did not have his father’s last name. The wife wanted her husband to have his biological father’s last name, because she did not want their daughter to grow up carrying a last name that was not her true identity.  So, she asked her husband to talk to his biological father about signing his birth certificate, so he could have the same last name as his biological father. This would allow him to pass his biological father’s last name to his daughter.

Initially, he did not want to ask his father, because his father was not involved in his life. She continued to be persistent, but he still refused to do it.  Eventually, he got his hands on the book that I wrote, “Where is Daddy?” After reading the book, he shared with his wife that he would follow through with her request if his father would first read the book.

            So, they sent the book to his father. His father’s wife called and told him that his father was brought to tears while he read the book. So, he and his father decided to meet. They both expressed their feelings, and because he was willing to forgive his father for not being there for him while he was growing up, they were able to experience a new beginning in their relationship. The name was changed on the husband’s birth certificate, which allowed their newborn child to carry her true identity. The father and son have a good relationship now, because of the Blessing of Forgiveness. As I stated earlier, forgiveness opens the door for a new beginning.

            The last thing that I want to share is that forgiveness keeps us in good standing with our Heavenly Father. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So, if you have been struggling with forgiveness, it is time for you to forgive, so that you can walk in your new-found freedom.

            You might be saying that the individual does not deserve my forgiveness. That is exactly right. Forgiveness is not something that is earned or deserved. Forgiveness is something freely given. I have been confronted with this many times in my life. It hasn’t always been easy, but I had to choose to forgive. Forgiveness is an act of your own will. If you can see the blessing in forgiveness, then maybe it will become a little easier to forgive.

[1] Clamor: the cry of strife or contention; out of control and, lastly, evil speaking in the form of slander.


Bishop Ronald Hardy, Sr. is the Pastor of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Centers of Baton Rouge and St. Francisville, Louisiana a multifaceted ministry touching the lives of many. He is a preacher, teacher, prophet and author. God has given Bishop Hardy a Ministry of Restoration.

Bishop Hardy has authored two books, one that will enrich marriage entitled, “A Loke Like This”  and the other one “Where Is Daddy?” A book that brings restoration to the hearts of fathers and the fatherless. He also authors the Daily Word, a Monday-Friday devotional that helps people navigate through their daily life. This daily Word can be viewed on the face book page of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Center.

Bishop Hardy is married to Robbin Hardy and they have four living children and seven grandchildren.

Annnouncements, Faith Life

New Feature! Founders Forum!

New!! Founder’s Forum

Peters Wealth Advisors, LLC, was an early supporter of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. Founded by Bill Peters, the company is shaped by Christian principles and ethics, and its staff works tirelessly to help others build legacies that last.

“We have been able to bless so many people because of our success, and I attribute our success to our faith in God. We always saw our business as an opportunity to minister to others. This philosophy enables us to follow God’s prescription … if we honor Him, he will honor us if it’s according to his will.

We always knew that if we were responsible with our success, He would let us pay it forward so others would be helped and would know that Christ lived in our hearts. So we continue to share our success with deserving ministries — like single mothers, Christian schools, and of course, Christian Life Magazine.”

— Bill Peters
Founder, Peters Wealth Advisors, LLC

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine Founder's Forum Peters

April 2018, Faith Life

Lost at Sea with Deborah Quan

Lost at sea

Deborah stood silently looking over the water, tears slowly gliding down her face. Her hands trembled as she read the letter one last time. Taking a deep breath, she tore the paper into pieces. And then let it go. The words, now scattered, descended into the sea.

The decision had been made. Deborah had chosen to forgive him — for all the hurt feelings she experienced as a child of divorce, for the disappointment of promises not kept, for the ache of missing his presence, for the resentment of responsibilities taken on too young. For all of it. Her head knew about forgiveness, but the pastor’s message that Sunday seemed to be speaking directly to her heart. It was time to absolve her father of mistakes from the past.

Part of Deborah wondered how the wound was still there. It had been, seemingly, a lifetime ago. She was a child of only nine years the day he left. Standing at the ironing board, she heard him tell her mother, “You’re not going to be able to raise these girls without them getting into trouble.” Whatever context that statement may have meant between her parents did not matter. She made up her mind immediately to prove him wrong. She would not get into trouble.

True to her word, Deborah took on the indoor responsibilities at home while her sister took care of the outdoors. They pitched in, allowing their mother to go to work, for the first time since they could remember. Occasional conversations with Dad, now living in a different state with a different wife, felt awkward and strained. Deborah leaned heavily on her faith. She and her sister continued going to church, more frequently than she likes to recall, without their heartbroken mother.

Still underlined in her childhood Bible is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

It is a popular verse, often taken out of context, but not for Deborah. While her young heart may not have realized the significance, she found herself in a type of exile, separated from the home she loved. In fact, over time, she followed the Lord’s instructions to the Israelites. She married, had children, and built a home and a life for herself hundreds of miles away. And just as God promised the Israelites, His word rang true for Deborah. His good plans were fulfilled and she was brought home. The restoration that Deborah longed for with her father was yet to come.

She had tried to maneuver it herself, but after making a phone call, all that would remain was an empty feeling. The surface contact was there, but the depth of love that every daughter longs for with her father always felt forced. Her father had met her children and remained a part of her life throughout the 17 years she was married. He  encouraged her the best he could when her husband died of emphysema, even letting  his granddaughter live with him during part of that difficult season. But her heart still had an empty segment carved out for the relationship she longed to have with her father.

Years later, after Deborah’s children were grown and she had moved to Florida, her father came to her college graduation. It was during this time in her life, as an adult, that she heard the pastor speak and wrote the heartfelt letter that never got mailed. Despite her effort, not much changed after that day. Seven years passed. Deborah earned her master’s degree and married a wonderful man named Denny. Life went on.

Four years into her marriage, Deborah received a call from her sister. She needed help with their aging mother. Deborah and Denny left Florida the next day, headed for Dallas.  Deborah knew her father and his wife were also living in the area, but she did not expect the visit to be so emotional. When they walked into the room, her father wept.  It was the first time he met Denny, and he liked him right away. Her father had changed. He was happy. He had re-committed his life to Christ.

The next day, while mom remained in the hospital post-surgery, the rest of the family gathered around the kitchen table. There was something different about this conversation. It was honest and heartfelt. They all seemed to know they were not together on this day by accident – this was a divine time orchestrated for their good. Deborah had not felt like an actual part of the family for so long. She did not want her heart to go another minute without forgiveness. She asked for it and gave it freely. Hugs and tears filled the room as the restoration was for them all – not just Deborah and her father. As a family — a newly bonded family — they grabbed hands and prayed.

Things changed that night. “The Holy Spirit was so thick in the room,” Deborah recalls, tears forming in the corner of eyes. Her heart admittedly came to another understanding too, one she had struggled with for years. “I realized that it didn’t matter who initiates the contact, it is about the relationship.” And this one, that she had longed for since childhood, was finally fulfilled. She had been brought home and restored. The unforgiveness – she had let it go – like unspoken words lost at sea.

Deborah Quan
Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
Deborah’s Childhood bible and mother’s handkerchief
Baton Rouge April 2018 Denny
Deborah’s father

Sharon Holeman for Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles – 12 American Women, 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana , she is now penning her first screenplay. Sharon is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.