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Todd Starnes: They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick

 

Looking at Todd Starnes, a network reporter and anchor for Fox News Radio, today, it's hard to imagine that just three years ago he was on the brink of death. In May 2005 Starnes was a news reporter for talk radio station KFBK in Sacramento, Calif., and weighed 300 pounds. While covering a story, he developed a slight cough but thought nothing of it. A few days later he could barely get out of bed. His doctor said he needed a new aortic valve.

But Starnes didn't realize at that moment how serious his condition was and thought he could plan the surgery after the summer, when his schedule was less hectic. His doctor explained how replacing his aortic valve was a life-or-death matter. Starnes had two weeks to get his affairs in order.

This was the start of a life-changing journey. Over the last three years, Starnes has had open-heart surgery, lost 150 pounds, grieved the death of his parents and run his first marathon. He shares his experiences in his new book, They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick. Starnes acknowledges that others have had open-heart surgery, lost loved ones and shed pounds—his story is not unique. But this is his story.

Based on an audio journal he kept during his surgery and recovery, Starnes' memoir is about more than weight loss. While describing his health journey, Starnes weaves in tales from his childhood (some admittedly embellished) and chronicles his career. Throughout the book he offers the lessons he's learned and relays how God has sustained him, taught him and directed him.

Starnes says he wants people to laugh when they read his book, and he'll likely get his wish. His thoughts and stories are deep-fried, smothered, covered, slathered and buttered with Southern charm and humor. As he told The Buzz in our interview he wants people to feel good about themselves and "know that some average Joe can make it through an obstacle and difficulty in life."

More than anything the core message of Starnes' book is one celebrating God's saving nature. "God's grace is sufficient to get us through those difficult times," he says. "Not only can He get us through those times—and He will sustain us—but we're going to be able to look back and we're going to be able to laugh and smile and understand why we had to go through what we had to go through."

 

Click here to purchase Todd Starne's book.

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The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story

Genera8Xion Entertainment
Documentary

For almost 40 years Arthur Blessitt has walked around the world carrying a cross and sharing the love of Christ. Matt Crouch, CEO of Gener8Xion Entertainment, has known Blessitt for many years and realized last year that it was time to tell his story. The result is the documentary The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story, which opens March 27 in theaters nationwide.

With footage from years of traveling, including images of him and Billy Graham together in Ireland, the film chronicles Blessitt's journey around the world. The Mississippi-born evangelist has traveled to 315 countries and walked more than 38,000 miles. He began his ministry on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and became known as the "Sunset Strip Minister." Because he loved the people he met on the Strip, he was reluctant to leave when he sensed God calling him to walk around the world carrying a wooden cross. But God reminded him that Sunset Strip stretches around the world.

Blessitt was ready to obey. Two weeks before he was to leave Los Angeles, however, doctors discovered he had a brain aneurysm. He explains in the film that circumstances don't change the call of God. Facing possible death, Blessitt decided he would rather die while in God's will than to live out of it. He left on schedule—Christmas Day 1969.

Moviegoers will be inspired by Blessitt's passion and commitment to not only answer God's call but also to persevere even in the midst of incredible danger. Blessitt says he learned along the way to see hardships and difficulties not as stumbling blocks but as stepping stones. "The safest place to be is in the will of God," he says onscreen.

Blessitt has traveled through 52 war zones, been beaten and also arrested 24 times. His first arrest was in Jackson, Miss., for holding a black man's hand while witnessing to him. Blessitt remained undeterred and has seen many miracles as God protected him, kept him alive and brought him through. Throughout his lengthy mission, he's had the opportunity to minister to countless people. That now includes millions more who, in watching The Cross, will undoubtedly be inspired by the lessons he's learned and the relationship he developed with the Lord-both conveyed powerfully onscreen in this 90-minute documentary. Ultimately, Blessitt says, it's all about loving God and people.

It was Crouch, as the movie's director and narrator, who best summed up this film: "It's not about the cross carrier; it's about what the cross did to the cross carrier."


To read more about The Cross: The Arthur Blessit Story, click here.

Arthur Blessitt's autobiography released earlier this year. Click here to purchase The Cross (Authentic Publishing).

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What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life

By Brian Zahnd, Christian Life, hardcover, 160 pages, $14.99.


Brian Zahnd, senior pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Mo., uses David as an example for how we should respond on our worst day. On David's worst day, he and his men returned home to find their city burned, their houses looted and their families kidnapped. Their first response was to weep. Zahnd affirms that God does not expect us to deny our sorrow but also explains there is a time to stop crying and start rejoicing. Holding on to grief, he writes, will turn it into self-pity and keep us from victory. He discusses other steps that must be taken: resist bitterness, find encouragement in God, receive a word from God, reorient vision, regain passion, attack, recover all, celebrate recovery, give. Zahnd doesn't deny that tragedies and difficult events create heartbreak. But he balances empathy with challenge. He states that emotions and the reality of situations must be acknowledged but that we must also keep moving forward, believing God will fulfill His promises. Click here to purchase What to Do on the Word Day of Your Life. read more

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The Power of One

By Israel Houghton, Integrity Music.

Kudos to Israel Houghton for not staying in his comfort zone and giving listeners another standard, albeit solid, praise and worship album with those funky guitars that he and his band mates play so well. On his latest album, The Power of One, Houghton finds inspiration from pop stars past and present, including Gnarls Barkley ("Just Want to Say" is similar to Barkley's mega-hit "Crazy"). He also incorporates some New Orleans jazz music ("UR Loved"), a ballad with restrained keyboards that sounds like Phil Collins ("I Receive"), a reggae tune on which he shouts "Jamaica" ("Surely Goodness") and finally, "You Found Me," a song that Houghton does, somewhat curiously, as an alternative-rock number. In between all that, there's a fairly straightforward gospel song ("Every Prayer") and an innocuous title track that sounds like the distant cousin of Eric Clapton's "Change the World." It all makes for an interesting album that will probably be well-received by Houghton's fans. But from a critical perspective, this album is something akin to a five-course dessert after Thanksgiving dinner. Now that Houghton knows he can pull off just about anything, perhaps next time listeners will be treated to lighter fare with fewer trimmings. Click here to purchase The Power of One, which released March 24. read more

Mandisa: Radiating Jesus

Mandisa: Radiating Jesus

American Idol alum Mandisa Hundley expresses a newfound freedom on her new album, aptly titled Freedom. She says that when she started working on this new CD, she was drawn to songs that dealt with the issue of freedom. "I knew that's where God was directing me and that's what He wanted me to talk about. ... And then I realized that I could not do an album called Freedom and proclaim that God was able to set people free and still be held captive by a lifelong food addiction. ... I didn't want to be a hypocrite; I didn't want to tell other people that He could set them free and not believe it for myself."

She hired a personal trainer and changed the way she thought about food. She has already lost 70 pounds and is still pressing forward. She says her new album is "very encouraging to me and I know it will be encouraging to people that are fighting, feeling like they are bound by something. I feel like this is an album that will convince them that we serve a very powerful God who's able to set us free." read more

Angel Wars: The Messengers

Angel Wars: The Messengers

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Backyard Digital Studios

When evil abounds, young warriors must rise to the challenge and overcome. In Angel Wars: The Messengers, the Guardian Force, a group of angel warriors who are sworn to protect the world from evil, has two new recruits. Kira and Eli aren't full guardians yet and have a lot to learn. But when evil threatens the city, there is no more time for training. Kira and Eli have to deliver hope to the city and learn to cooperate with each other to combat the soldiers of darkness. In the midst of their greatest challenge, the two become the warriors they are destined to become. For the last five years, families have enjoyed the values-based stories and cutting-edge animation this series has delivered. This fourth installment features an exclusive sneak peak at upcoming adventures as well as character profiles. This 89-minute episode will capture the attention of all ages, but will be especially appealing for the 8- to 12-year-old crowd. To purchase a copy of Angel Wars: The Messengers, click here. read more

Surrender All

Surrender All

By Joni Lamb, WaterBrook Press, hardcover, 224 pages, $19.99.

Marcus and Joni Lamb launched Daystar Television Network in 1982, but it didn't happen overnight. It took a lot of faith, a lot of trust and total surrender. In her book Surrender All, Joni Lamb chronicles her choice to surrender, first in her early 20s and still to this day. Through personal stories,she shows readers that when we give up control to God—in our health, finances, relationships, every area—our lives change, "not overnight, but over time—and forever," she writes. He has a plan for each of us, and He uses our gifts to fulfill our destinies, but we must trust Him with all that we are. Lamb understands how it feels to not know what the future holds, but she also knows she can trust the God who does know the future. She writes, "Life will not be perfect, nor will it be painless ... but the path of surrender is a place of peace within a place of rest." Because she knows what it takes to give up complete control, it is easy to glean from her wisdom. Lamb's writing style is personable and approachable, and readers will be encouraged to trust God and give all that they are to Him. Lamb is living proof that only when we truly surrender our lives to God will we live with peace, power and purpose. Click here to purchase this inspiring book. read more

The God of This City

The God of This City

By Bluetree, Lucid Artist.

Many people have heard and even sung the anthem "The God of This City," which has been recorded by Chris Tomlin and was the theme for the Passion World Tour. But now we can hear it from Bluetree, the band that wrote it. Hailing from Belfast, Ireland, the members of Bluetree—Aaron Boyd (lead vocalist and guitarist), Andy McCann (bassist), Johnny Hobson (drummer) and Pete Kernoghan (deejay)—write worship songs that inspire change in everyday life. They desire to encourage people with hope but also remind them to live with others in mind. They practice what they believe. They were on a missions trip to Pattaya, Thailand, a city known for sex tourism, when God gave them "The God of This City." Bluetree realized that this was a "prophetic shout" not only for Pattaya but also for the entire world. The energetic debut opener "Life's Noise" reminds us that God is in the quiet of life and praising Him clears away distractions. "Burn Me Up" cries for God to refine us so that the world sees more of Him. Boyd wrote "Each Day" after getting the news that his newborn daughter had cystic fibrosis. This upbeat song declares that in spite of difficult circumstances, we can trust the God that never leaves us alone. This album combines a diverse mix of songs and styles, yet the sense of worship throughout makes it cohesive. If this debut is any indication of what is ahead for Bluetree, believers are going to be encouraged by their ministry for many years to come. Click here to order The God of This City. read more

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Around the World for 40 Years

A who's who of pastors and Christian leaders turned out for a screening of The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday night. Across the country, Matt Crouch hosted live on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) a separate screening celebration at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, where Blessitt's nearly 40-year journey started.

Among those attending in Florida were Jentezen Franklin from Gainesville, Ga.; Mark Chironna, pastor of Master's Touch International Church in Orlando; and Vonette Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. Crouch was joined by Blessitt, actor Pat Boone, worship artist Israel Houghton and others.

The film chronicles the nearly four decades that Blessitt has carried a 12-foot wooden cross around the world. The Mississippi-born evangelist has traveled to 315 countries and walked more than 38,000 miles. Crouch, CEO of Gener8Xion Entertainment, has known Blessitt for many years and realized last year that it was time to tell his story. The film opens March 27 in theaters nationwide.

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Blessitt began his ministry on Sunset Strip and became known as the "Sunset Strip Minister." Because he loved the people he met on the Strip, he was reluctant to leave when he sensed God calling him to walk around the world carrying a wooden cross. But God reminded him that Sunset Strip stretches around the world.

Blessitt was ready to obey. Two weeks before he was to leave Los Angeles, however, doctors discovered he had a brain aneurysm. He explains in the film that circumstances don't change the call of God. Facing possible death, Blessitt decided he would rather die while in God's will than to live out of it. He left on schedule—Christmas Day 1969.

Moviegoers will be inspired by Blessitt's passion and commitment to not only answer God's call but also to persevere even in the midst of incredible danger. Blessitt says he learned along the way to see hardships and difficulties not as stumbling blocks but as stepping stones. "The safest place to be is in the will of God," he says onscreen.

Blessitt has traveled through 52 war zones, been arrested 24 times and beaten multiple times, but he has also seen miracles as God protected him, kept him alive and brought him through. Throughout his lengthy mission, he's had the opportunity to minister to countless people. That now includes millions more who, in watching The Cross, will undoubtedly be inspired by the lessons he's learned and the relationship he developed with the Lord—both conveyed powerfully onscreen. Ultimately, Blessitt says, it's all about loving God and people.

It was Crouch, as the movie's director and narrator, who best summed up this film: "It's not about the cross carrier; it's about what the cross did to the cross carrier."

Before the Florida audience saw the film, Crouch teased Franklin on-air to remember the advice, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." But Crouch had nothing to worry about because those present had only kudos for the filmmaker and Blessitt.

Franklin admitted that before seeing the film he wondered if it would keep his attention. Afterward, however, he told Crouch that it was the greatest thing he'd ever seen, adding that every Christian needed to see this life-changing, powerful movie. To fellow Christians he declared: "This is our message. This is our film." Franklin said it's also for unbelievers and thinks that "God is going to astonish us with what He is going to do with this film."

Crouch agreed. "It's time for the message of the cross."

Bright believes this film is an answer to prayer. She and her late husband, Bill Bright, desired for years to see the medium of film honor God. And the movie does just that. She told the audiences that what we learn from this story is that "the important thing in life is to be where He wants us to be. ... There's nothing like trusting Jesus."

 

To read more about The Cross: The Arthur Blessit Story, click hereread more

Norman Hutchins: Seeing God in Difficult Times

Norman Hutchins: Seeing God in Difficult Times

When recording artist Norman Hutchins sensed God calling him to pray every day at 5 a.m. in early 2006, he didn't know why. But when complications from a delicate eye surgery left him completely blind that same year, he soon discovered the answer.

"The Lord said, ‘Norman, no matter how gifted and talented and anointed you may be, you are no good to Me if you don't take care of you.'"

Hutchins, 46, is referring to his battle with diabetes, a disease he was diagnosed with years ago. The singer said for six months he depended on his wife, Karen, and others to escort him to his pulpit where he preached every Sunday during the ordeal. He says loosing his sight forced him to repent for not taking care of the body God gave him. read more

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