From Gridiron To Grace: Derwin Gray's Winning Testimony

Growing up on the west side of San Antonio, I believed in god—the god of football. The game was my ticket out of an early life saturated with violence, addiction, abuse, and chaos.
I was raised by my grandmother, because my parents were only teenagers when I was born. They were children bringing a child into the world. As much as they wanted to care for me, the hurt and brokenness in their lives prevented them. "Grannie" was a Jehovah's Witness, so that was the religion I knew. After a while, even that went away.
We were not poor. We were "po." We couldn't afford the other o and r. We didn't eat meals together. We didn't pray together. There were good times, like when we'd go fishing or when my grandfather would come home after work in the evenings. By the time I was 13, however, I looked at my environment and told my grandmother, "I'm going to do something with my life."
Football was my way out of the hell I was living in. I believed it would lift me into the heaven of the American dream.
Football functioned as my savior. It gave me love: If I played well, I was loved by fans. It gave me an identity: I was Derwin, the football player. It gave me significance: I was somebody because I was a great player. And football gave me a mission. My mission was this: Derwin, you can go to college and make something of your life.

Running from Naked Preacher

During my sophomore year of high school, I started to do just that. I transferred to Judson High School in Converse, a suburb of San Antonio, where I played for D. W. Rutledge, the Texas High School Hall of Fame coach. My senior year, I accepted a football scholarship to Brigham Young University (BYU). So, you have a black kid from a lower socioeconomic, multiethnic context with a Jehovah's Witness religious background (whose god is football) attending a Mormon university.
On January 15, 1990, during my freshman year at BYU, I met a beautiful young lady named Vicki Ensign. She was a javelin thrower on the track team. We fell in love fast and married on May 23, 1992, during my senior year. The first wedding I had ever attended was my own.
At BYU, my god had come through for me. I had an outstanding career and later was named to BYU football's "All Time Dream Team." Plus, I was loved at the school. I had the girl of my dreams. I was making something out of my life. On April 25, 1993, I was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts to strong safety. I had made it!
Then I met the Naked Preacher, a linebacker for the Colts in 1993.
It was impossible not to notice a linebacker who would take a shower, dry off, wrap a towel around his waist, pick up his Bible, and ask those of us in the locker room, "Do you know Jesus?" I would think, Do you know you are half-naked?
I asked the veterans on the team about him. They said, "Don't pay attention to him. That's the Naked Preacher."
At this point in my life, I did not want anything to do with Jesus or a half-naked man talking about him, so I tried to avoid him. One day after practice, I was sitting at my locker and saw the Naked Preacher (whose real name is Steve Grant) walking toward me.
"Rookie D. Gray, do you know Jesus?" he asked.
I pretended to not hear him and turned my back. He repeated the question, but this time he was at my locker. Even though I was not a churchgoer or involved in any religious group, I gave what I thought was a very religious answer: "I'm a good person."
I explained to Steve that I was one of the only men in my family who had not been to jail, who did not have a substance abuse problem, who had graduated from high school and college, and who did not have a child outside of marriage.
The Naked Preacher opened up his Bible and shared two verses with me: "And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone'" (Mark 10:18, ESV); and, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
Steve explained that according to the Bible, only God is good; he is the standard of goodness and righteousness. Everyone else has sinned and falls short. This disturbed me.
I said, "Naked man, you are telling me that my moral comparison is to God and not to other people?" He said, "Yes."
"God is perfect! What can I do to be perfect?" He answered, "Nothing."
I said, "I'm in big trouble."
"Rookie D. Gray," he said, "now you are starting to get it. You can't do anything to reach a perfect God. But Jesus has done everything for the perfect God to come down and reach you."
I sat in silence. I needed time to think through what he was saying and what I was experiencing in my heart.
Over the next five years, I watched Steve live out the gospel. When my teammates needed advice, they were at the Naked Preacher's locker. Steve was involved in the greater Indianapolis community. He displayed Jesus in the way he loved his wife and children. He preached through his words and actions.
As the Naked Preacher preached, God's love crushed me. I had achieved the American dream, only to realize it could not empower me to love my wife or forgive my father. My fame and money could not erase my sin, shame, guilt, fear, and insecurity.
... Continue reading Derwin's powerful testimony here.

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10 Scriptures To Uplift Your Spirit

Our spirits need to be devoted to God if they are to thrive amidst chaos. It is God's will that we thrive and that our spirit experiences the wholeness and prosperity that the holy spirit offers. Here are 10 scriptures that help emphasize the blessing of devotion and belonging to Him:
- I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
-"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:5

- Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
- Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? - Matthew 6:26 

-So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31
-He is so rich in kindness that He purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven. Ephesians 1:7

-Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4

-Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. - Psalm 51:7

-See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. -Psalm 139:24

- But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. -1 John 1:9

What are some of  your go to scriptures that help uplift your spirit? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


How To Become Resilient

By: April D. Byrd

Yesterday my Pastor, (who's brother had just passed away the same day) talked about resilience. It was very powerful! " As a character trait, Resilience is the mental ability to recover quickly." She spoke on the importance of developing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence helps us to recognize our own emotions, identify the emotions of others and how to handle them, and diffuse conflict.

It increases self-management: being able to manage our emotions in a healthy way. It also helps build social awareness and relationship management. Emotional intelligence can help your performance at work and also benefit your health. She shared a few steps to emotional intelligence, but not all. and I was able to write some down, such as:

1. Learn how to relieve stress.

2. Accept the circumstance that's happening.

3. Develop flexibility.

When we learn to take a leap of faith, and and how to let go of emotions that make us uncomfortable, we find ourselves. Even though outwardly nothing is consistent, we can find consistency inside of ourselves. All information received to the brain comes through our senses, when information is overwhelming, instinct takes over. We can bring our emotions under control through Christ, and building our emotional intelligence. We can't yield to the will of emotion, but conquer it through understanding. "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding."-Proverbs 4:7 Also remember being strong doesn't always mean we have to be tough. Water will softly touch a rock, but slowly wear it down over time. For me that illustration of water brings to mind our hearts being in the right hands, at the right time. God has given us resilience to overcome all things The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; He guides it wherever He pleases. -Proverbs 21:1 Continue to pour up love and be guided and directed by it. Love always wins.

What are some ways that you build and maintain resilience? Share in the comments section below.

You can hear more from Pastor Jennifer by dialing in to the conference call line on Sundays at 10 a.m. EST. dial 1 218 632 9333 access code: 430365 Subscribe to the BOLD weekly newsletter for the latest updates.

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BOLDImpact SHE Created iT SPOTLIGHT Artist: Tomecas Thomas

Breath Of Life Daily is happy to feature She Created iT’s monthly artist spotlight and celebrate female artists and entrepreneurs. She Created iT is a platform to Promote, Produce and Educate Female Artists.

Every month She Created iT Highlights a phenomenal female artist. For the month of June the She Created iT Artist Spotlight is on Tomecas Thomas.

Tomecas Thomas is a The Matrona: Certified Holistic Doula, Childbirth Educator and Breastfeeding Consultant. She lives in the Metro Atlanta area and has had the pleasure of assisting women in labor for over 20 years. From Teens to over 40.

“Before being a Doula, which I did not know what it was called then, I have always assisted family and friends when giving birth to their children. I enjoy every minute of it!”

Tomecas is a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) for 20 yrs, Labor and Delivery Nurse (RN) for 8 years and possess a CPR certification with the American Heart Association BLS Adult and Infant.

The specialties are: Family/Internal Medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics.
She is married to a wonderful supporting husband and is the proud mother of 3 sons and 1 daughter to whom she delivered via all natural (non-medicated) birth. She is also a proud grandmother of two grandsons.

“Growing up as a child I was amazed at how humans were created. Just like any other child I asked a question "Where do babies come from?" I had to laugh at that when the day came that I gave birth to my first child. It truly helps to understand the support that mothers need. During pregnancy and after the delivery, women experience emotional, physical and mental changes.

"It gives me great pleasure to educate, encourage, empower and provide the missing piece of the puzzle to ensure both mother and baby are healthy while making delivery a smooth transition.”

"Childbirth is an experience in a woman's life that holds the power to transform her forever. Passing through these powerful gates - in her own way - remembering all the generations of women who walk with her... She is never alone." - Suzanne Arms

For more information visit Tomecas website:  http://omoroseblessings.weebly.com/about-me.html and stay in tune with SHE Created iT for their latest projects and events.


Take Action And Erase Your Fears

by: +BOLD Impact Network

God gives us guidance and warning ahead of time. If we're working and praying there is no need to worry. Fear is False. Evidence. Appearing. Real. It's false because we think we don't have what we need to handle whatever it is that's causing us to fear, but in actuality we do. There is always something we can do, Don't just be scared, take action. Be BOLD. Don't Fear. Scripture says "God hasn't given us the Spirit of fear."  Worry about anything is not of God. Fear comes naturally, because it's a lack of understanding. You can get what you need. Invest in getting the truth and the understanding that you have what it takes to fulfill whatever life has for you. The power of God in us gives us strength. "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you." Understanding gives us power over fear. God's will is for us to prosper. Seek God's will above all. He has power over All! 
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. -1 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
 Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment. -Proverbs 23:23 (NLT)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. -Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
 Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. 3 John 1:2 (KJV) modified.
 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. -Romans 11:36 (NLT)

What are some other good scriptures you can think of that help give you confidence when you're afraid? Has God ever  given you a word of encouragement to step up in a situation and not be a afraid? How did it go? Leave your thoughts about this post in the comments section below.


Putting Love Into Action

By: Casme Barnes/Joyce Meyer Ministry

Love ignites us, love has the power to spread like fire.

With Everything going on in the World around us, we have to stay prayed up and full of LOVE. Life is priceless. We must cherish our time here on earth. We must Love more! I am determined to e a Walking Love Warrior...a Love Ambassador. I see the spark in people's eyes when an act of kindness is presented. The youth I've been speaking to on the Black Wallstreet High School Tour are confirming my purpose daily. Love Wins and creates Winners.

We are called to show others love. Jesus told His disciples, "By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]" (John13:35).

So many people see love as 'just a feeling,' but it's so much more than that. True love shows itself through action.

And this action doesn't have to be impossible and overwhelming. One of the best ways to show the love of Jesus is through simple, everyday action, 

- Like giving a small gift to someone or striking up a conversation with a downcast individual who needs a friend.
- Or giving a bag of groceries to the single mom who lives down the street and is struggling to put food on the table.
- Showing love can even be as simple as smiling and saying hello to a person you pass on the street, in the hall, or at the store. 

There are many ways to demonstrate the love of Christ. When you show His love to someone else, it can soften that person's heart, and before you know it, they'll be finding ways to reach out and show love to others, and so on and so on. So celebrate God's love and let Him lead you. Is He putting someone on your heart right now?

I want my love for Jesus to be reflected in the way I show love for others, even those who may be difficult to love. If I can soften one hard heart with the love of God, maybe that person will soften another's heart with love, then that one will reach out to others, and so on and so on... And soon we'll have a love revolution!

Prayer Starter: God, I want my love for You to be reflected in the way I show love for others. Show me ways to demonstrate love to anyone and everyone that You bring across my path.

Let's put LOVE in Action!

What are some other ways we can start putting love into action in the community and around the world? When was your last endeavor to love forward? Leave your thoughts about this post in the comments section below.


10 Scriptures About God's Love And Faithfulness Toward Us

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.Genesis 9:13

1.  Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; "He will never leave you nor forsake you."

2.  Deuteronomy 31:8, The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

3.  Joshua 1:5, No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."

4.  1Kings 8:57, "May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us."

5. 1Chronicles 28:20, David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. "Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished."

6.  Psalms 37:28, For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. "They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;"

7.  Psalms 94:14 "For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance."

8.  Isaiah 41:17 "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them."

9.  Isaiah 42:16 "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

10.  Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

What is your favorite scripture on the list? Are there any more you can add? Leave your thoughts about this post in the comments section below.