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Willie_RobertsonThe Robertsons from “Duck Dynasty” are known for their conservative Christian values, but a recent interview with Lisa Robertson proved that was not always the case. The Robertsons have never claimed to be perfect, and they have used their past experiences to help encourage people who have faced hardship or difficult times in life.

Lisa Robertson’s story, however, is not what most would expect from the conservative Christian family. Lisa was interviewed by her sister-in-law, Missy Robertson, for Missy’s podcast “The Overcomers.” This podcast usually focuses on stories of women who have overcome difficulties such as drugs abuse or human trafficking. Missy, however, devoted one of the last two episodes of season one to Lisa. “When I think of an overcome,” Missy said, “I think of my sister-in-law, Lisa.”

In a raw and unflinching interview, Lisa explained that she was abused as a child. Following a series of disappointments in her teen years, she started down a self-destructive path. “I started trying to find…love…through other guys, through sex, through drugs, alcohol,” Lisa said. “I was hurting, and I couldn’t find anything to numb the pain. I would wake up in places and didn’t really know how I got there.”

This destructive path took a dark turn when she had an abortion at the age of 16. “[The father] wanted to have the baby, but I had nobody to talk to,” Lisa said. Her own parents told her that having an abortion was her only option.

Following her abortion, Lisa took her self-destructive life to a new level. Sometimes she would leave home and not come home for several days. Lisa’s partying stopped when she married Al Robertson, but her troubles were not over yet. During their marriage Lisa had an emotional affair and then a mixed physical and emotional affair five years later.

“I had an affair, a full-blown affair and it lasted for 14 months….the guilt was so overwhelming,” Lisa said. She claimed that lying to her family and living a double life was hellish. Eventually, her second affair came out just like her first. After Lisa’s emotional affair, Al had told her he would leave her if she ever strayed again. Despite this, the couple stayed together and sought healing. It was around this time that Lisa describes having hit a breaking point.  She pleaded with God for help. “If you’re really there, I need you to help me, I need you to rescue me,” she said. “I need to make the Lord of my life Jesus Christ.”

God seems to have heard her. Lisa and Al remained married and helped heal the family rift that her affair had caused. The couple now leads marriage conferences and helps others navigate the difficult times in their lives.

Oprah and Christiane NorthrupAt the 2018 Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey won the Cecil B. DeMille Award. Her speech had Hollywood’s upper crust on its feet cheering, and some of her diehard fans were calling for the celebrity to run for the nation’s highest office in 2020. Winfrey said that her friend, Gayle King, urged her to consider throwing her hat in the political ring.

Despite the calls of Hollywood stars and some fans for her to run for office, Winfrey has repeatedly said that she has no intention of running. She said that she felt she had to at least consider the idea due to how many people were talking about it. “I had people–wealthy, billionaires–calling me up and saying, ‘I can get you a billion dollars. I can run your campaign,’” Winfrey said. “[Those calls] made me think, ‘Am I at least supposed to look at the question?’”

Winfrey said that she turned to her faith for answers. “I went into prayer,” she said, “[And I said] ‘God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it.’ And I haven’t gotten that.”

Before the Golden Globes firestorm, Winfrey had never considered entering the political ring. “I’ve never in my life ever imagined that I would be in politics,” she said. “No, no, no, no, no, no.” When rumors persisted that she was considering a presidential bid, Winfrey restated that she was not planning to run. “It’s not something that interests me,” she said. “That’s not for me.”

Much to the disappointment of Winfrey’s fans, God is the only thing that could change her mind about running for president. “I’ve never looked outside for other people to tell me when something, when I should be making a move,” Winfrey said in an interview with 60 Minutes. “And wouldn’t I know. If God actually wanted me to run, wouldn’t God kinda tell me? And I haven’t heard that.”

Despite Winfrey’s repeated denials of a presidential bid, the rumors continue to abound. Some have even argued that 2020 should feature a Winfrey-Hanks ticket, but Winfrey has never changed her story. She does not intend to run for president in 2020. She would prefer to continue to “see other people in their purest moments of joy” rather than enter the mud fight of politics.

Will_Smith_by_Gage_SkidmoreWill Smith is currently preparing to try and fill the shoes of the comedic giant, Robin Williams, by becoming the next incarnation of the beloved Disney character, the Genie, in the live action adaptation of “Aladdin.” Even as he is gearing up to take on a role that is so central to so many people’s childhoods, he took time to reflect about his grandmother, Gigi, on Instagram. The 49 year old actor posted a picture of Gigi holding him as a baby and opened up about how she influenced both his future career and his Christian faith.

When Smith was a budding pre-teen rapper, Gigi found his book of profanity laden raps. “She found my rap book and she never said anything to me but she wrote in the back of it ‘Dear Willard, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like this to express themselves,'” he said. “’Please show the world that you’re as smart as we think you are. Love Gigi.'”

Smith had previously mentioned this story on social media, but on Sunday he opened up more about how the woman he nicknamed “Jesus’ girl” shaped his faith and career with her note. “That was probably the single most impactful event that shaped how I led and how I still lead my career,” Smith said. “She made me realize that I wasn’t creating only for me. The things I created were going to have an effect on her and were going to have an effect on everyone who came into contact with my artistry. It was such a blessing…At 12 years old, I realized I was connected to everybody else in the process.”

In addition to teaching Smith that no man is an island, Smith credits Gigi for shaping his Christian faith. The actor said that Gig instilled his Christian faith in him and commented, “My grandmother was really my connection to God…She was my spiritual teacher, she was that grandmother at the church, the one having the kids doing the Easter presentations and putting on the Christmas plays and her kids and grandkids had to be first. She was the most spiritually certain person that I had ever met in my entire life. Even to the point that when she was dying she was happy, like she was really excited about going to heaven.”

This is not the first time Smith has spoken about his Christian faith, and it is unlikely to be the last. That his grandmother was so central to the development of a prominent Christian celebrity’s faith only goes to show exactly how much impact a single person can have, whether they know it or not.

Rob Bell has made waves in the Christian community for his unorthodox ideas. Some say he is an apostate while others claim he is a paradigm shifter.

Rob Bell was formerly the pastor and founder of the megachurch Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan. His 2011 book, however, led to a deep conflict between him and his congregation. Bell’s book, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived,” questions traditional teachings about heaven and hell. One of the book’s largest breaks from traditional Christian teachings was Bell’s assertion that anyone can enter into heaven. Later, Bell would shock Christians again with his statement that the “Bible has caused so much damage, and in many ways it has often been an agent of dragging everything backwards.”

Bell’s controversial remarks caused more than 3,000 people to leave the Mars Hill Bible Church. “The book put pressure on the people around Bell,” the New Yorker wrote. “[They] found themselves having to defend statements they might never have heard, let alone approved…congregants reported that friends and family members were asking why they were allowing themselves to be led by a false teacher.”

Eventually, Bell left the Mars Hill Bible Church to “search for a more forgiving faith.” Several years later, he was approached by filmmaker Andrew Morgan who wanted to make a documentary about Bell’s life and the controversy surrounding his beliefs. “We have great respect for Andrew, so we said yes and he began filming tours and RobCasts and events and interviews,” Bell said. “I can’t imagine just how much footage he captured. The result is a new film that he is preparing to release. It’s called ‘The Heretic.’”

The film has not yet been released, but the trailer is already causing controversy. The trailer features snippets of Bell announcing that “the religion that has arisen in Jesus’ name, it is anti-what Jesus was talking about” and that “religions have failed.”

“The Heretic” has also reopened the controversy surrounding Bell’s books and the man himself. Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that “Bell wants to rescue God from any teaching that his wrath is poured out upon sin and sinners…but Bell also wants God to vindicate the victims of murder, rape, child abuse and similar evil. He seems not to recognize that he has undercut his own story, leaving God unable or unwilling to bring true justice.”

Proponents of Bell’s teachings, however, claim that the man is a “paradigm shifter” who speaks to the original teachings of Jesus. “We are going through a revolution,” Bell claimed, “because these great [religious] traditions have to be expanded.”

“The Heretic” will be available on Amazon and iTunes on March 1, 2018, and it promises to be every bit as controversial as the man it focuses on.

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