This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to the New York Post, Yet another set of high-profile pastors are leaving scandalized megachurch Hillsong under unclear circumstances. Reed Bogard and his wife, Jess Bogard, the lead pastors of the Australia-based institution’s Dallas branch, are stepping away from the once-celebrity-beloved international worship chain after over a decade of employment there. “Hey church, hope you’re doing well,” Reed says in a cutaway clip included in an hourlong Sunday sermon recorded live this weekend. “Just wanted to take a second on behalf of Jess and I to share some news with you.” He goes on to say how the couple met at Hillsong College and served various staff roles at the church — including positions at three American branches — over the course of 15 years, all of which “has really taken a bit of a toll on Jess and I, on our family.” Without offering further explanation, he then announces, “We just really feel that it’s time to transition off of our staff and take some time to remain healthy, get healthy and to really see what this next season holds for us.” After heaping praise on Hillsong founders Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, the shot changes from Bogard to Houston. “Reed’s announcement to you right now, not sure whether that comes as a shock, but I must say Reed and Jess have given their heart and soul to the pioneering of Hillsong Dallas over the last couple of years, umm, and we’re grateful for that,” says Houston, 66, before adding, “Reed and I have been talking over a period of time and we both agree that it would be a perfect time for them to come to a new season in their life.” No other details are given, but Houston assures the Dallas congregation they’ll eventually get new lead pastors, and they are “not going to be forsaken.”
According to the Christian Post, Tim Tebow and Tauren Wells are challenging their followers to download Wells’ latest single, “All God’s Children” to help fight against human trafficking. “Over the course of the past several months, God has been opening my heart to ways I can lend my influences to causes that are greater and bigger than me,” Wells said in a video posted to his Twitter account. Wells partnered with the Tim Tebow Foundation to release the new single. On Instagram, they revealed that all the proceeds will “go directly to the fight against human trafficking all over the world.” Tebow and Wells came up with the song idea after jumping on a friendly call. Wells said he is committed to combating this evil and it’s not for earthly gain. “I’m not just trying to build a career, I’m trying to build people. I’m not just trying to build a platform, I’m trying to build the Kingdom,” the singer commented on Twitter. In the video clip, Tebow encouraged people to do something about the injustices they see in the world. A staggering statistic announced on NBC’s “Today” show in 2016 revealed that every 30 seconds on average, someone falls victim to sex trafficking. According to UNICEF, more than a million children are trafficked each year.
According to the New York Post, A brother and sister died together in a car crash on a Florida highway this week, after a man fleeing from police rammed their vehicle, authorities said. Domynick Milis, 21, and Danycka Milis, 18, of Omro, Wis., were on their way home from viewing the Christmas lights at the Daytona International Speedway when they crashed at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. Domynick was behind the wheel of a Nissan Rouge when the suspect of a carjacking made an illegal U-turn on Interstate 95 near Daytona Beach and slammed into their car, killing the siblings instantly, the outlet reported. Their brother Drake, 13, and 17-year-old cousin Kyley Larsen were also in vehicle; both were hospitalized with serious injures. The incident began when the police picked up on a stolen Altima near Matanzas Woods Parkway and started pursuing the vehicle. The 47-year-old suspect, an Orlando man who was driving with a revoked license, was also killed, according to the outlet.
According to ESPN, The NCAA will host its entire postseason men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis and surrounding areas with a bubble-like format, officials announced on Monday. All 68 teams will come to compete for the national championship and play most of the games at multiple venues in Indianapolis, with some games in Bloomington and West Lafayette. The bulk of the teams will stay in hotels connected to the Indiana Convention Center, which will be used as a practice facility, the NCAA said. Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14, and the Final Four is set to be held April 3 and 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In Indianapolis, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum will be used for tournament games. Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Assembly Hall in Bloomington will also be used, the NCAA said. The monumental effort will include the largest bubble-like attempt by any major sport during the pandemic.
According to ESPN, Long after the game had finally ended, fans hung around FirstEnergy Stadium, taking selfies and photos of one another with the field in the background. This was a moment they’d been waiting for since the 2002 season. Sunday, the Browns finally ended the NFL’s longest playoff drought with a 24-22 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, catapulting Cleveland into the postseason for the first time in 17 seasons. “I’m really just happy for our fans,” said first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. “They deserve this. And we’re happy to deliver this to them.” After sealing the win, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield immediately jumped up and threw his fist with everything he had, before the crowd, restricted to 12,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, jumped around as “House of Pain” blared through the stadium speakers. Mayfield, who three years ago at the NFL combine declared he could be the quarterback to finally turn the Browns around, was the last player to leave the field. He blew a kiss to the fans with both hands while exiting through the tunnel. “It’s a moment I’ll definitely never forget,” Mayfield said. “The feeling of walking off the field, the energy in the stadium, they’re playing ‘Cleveland Rocks’ … for it to be that loud with a limited amount of fans, it was a special moment for us.” Cleveland’s victory sets up a first-round rematch with the Steelers next weekend in Pittsburgh.
According to ESPN, For nearly three decades, wide receivers failed to win the Heisman Trophy. That ended on Tuesday night when Alabama senior DeVonta Smith was presented the award during a virtual ceremony. Smith became the third Alabama player to claim college football’s most prestigious award, and the first receiver to win it since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. Smith beat out three other finalists, all of whom were quarterbacks: Alabama’s Mac Jones, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Florida’s Kyle Trask. Smith won the award with 1,856 points. Lawrence was second, Jones was third, and Trask was fourth. Smith called the award a blessing, thanking his parents, coaches and teammates during a short speech at Alabama’s football facility. Wearing a sharp, burgundy blazer and bow tie, he spoke about the power of self-belief, reflecting on coming from the small town of Amite, Louisiana, and how he was doubted because of his size. Despite standing a slight 6-foot-1 and weighing 175 pounds, Smith became the best wide receiver and the most accomplished player in college football. He leads the FBS in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He has dropped only two passes all season. Smith was named The Associated Press Player of the Year, becoming the first receiver to win the award. During his Heisman acceptance speech, Smith took a moment to address kids like him. “To all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing, because I’m not the biggest,” he said. “I’ve been doubted a lot just because of my size. Really, it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job is too big.”
According to the LA Times, Dr. Dre was undergoing medical treatment Tuesday after being admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with a possible brain aneurysm, two sources familiar with his condition said. The legendary rap artist and producer turned music mogul was considered to be in stable condition at the Los Angeles hospital after undergoing testing, according to one of the sources who asked not to be named because the person was not authorized to discuss the medical matter. The rapper, 55, whose real name is Andre Young, rose to fame with N.W.A from the streets of Compton and went on to become a top producer and the co-founder of Beats Electronics, a venture that turned him into a billionaire. After TMZ.com revealed that Dre was hospitalized, N.W.A co-founder Ice Cube tweeted, “Send your love and prayers.”
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!