Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. Mon, 30 Nov 2015 17:02:53 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 8 Eschatological Core Values

Our view of the end times can be a deciding factor in how we live our lives. Here are my eight eschatological core values.

1. I will not embrace an end-time worldview that re-empowers a disempowered devil.

2. I will not accept an eschatology that takes away my children's future, and creates mindsets that undermine the mentality of leaving a legacy.

3. I will not tolerate any theology that sabotages the clear command of Jesus to make disciples of all nations and the Lord's Prayer that earth would be like heaven.

4. I will not allow any interpretation of the Scriptures that destroys hope for the nations and undermines our command to restore ruined cities.

5. I will not embrace an eschatology that changes the nature of a good God.

6. I refuse to embrace any mindset that celebrates bad news as a sign of the times and a necessary requirement for the return of Jesus.

7. I am opposed to any doctrinal position that pushes the promises of God into a time zone that can't be obtained in my generation and therefore takes away any responsibility I have to believe God for them in my lifetime.

8. I don't believe that the last days are a time of judgment, nor do I believe God gave the church the right to call for wrath for sinful cities. There is a day of judgment in which GOD will judge man, not us.

Do you have any other end-time core values to add to my list? Let me know in the comments below.

Kris Vallotton is the senior associate leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Kris travels internationally training and equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. He's a best-selling author, having written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the kingdom. He has a diverse background in business, counseling, consulting, pastoring and teaching, which gives him unique leadership insights and perspectives. Kris has a passion to use his experience and his prophetic gift to assist world leaders in achieving their goals and accomplishing their mission.

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]]> (Kris Vallotton) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 30 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
8 Things You're Doing for Women Other Than Your Wife

"Is it possible that I could be doing certain things for the women I encounter each day, but I'm not doing them for my wife?" 

The short answer is yes, but let's talk more about the reasons why this might be happening.

You don't need to read this article to know that marriage relationships are typically very strong at the beginning. The feeling of fresh love is in the air, the desire for intimacy is strong and the overall feelings from each spouse are mutual.

That's old news for most of us.

But here's where it gets interesting. Here's where the true challenge comes up in marriage. Ready?

Time. As time passes, things happen, stories unfold and the relationship takes its hits. Most couples can expect this, but few know what's actually happening or, worse, how to resolve it.

Here are 3 reasons why men start to take a back seat in their marriage and forget what is most important:

1. Routine. Routines in marriage are going to happen. It's inevitable. But the couples that are aware of it are the ones who have the best chance of survival. As time goes on and routines take more and more shape, it's important to not forget what is important to each spouse and take action in those areas often.

2. Assumptions. We all know the saying about assumptions, so I won't go there, but it does hold true. Newly married couples love to do wonderful things for their spouse, but after a few years, those things tend to fade.

Assumptions are different than routines. An assumption means you know what would be nice to do for your spouse and then assume they don't need it. Or assume that doing it last week was enough. What we need to do is assume that the love tank is always going dry and therefore always needs to be filled up!

3. A rough past. Rough circumstances in a marriage can be the worst effect of all. Routines can be adjusted, assumptions can take place because of a lack of understanding or communication, but a rough past can put a large "STOP" sign in front of any nice gestures to your spouse.

In other words, you know what your spouse needs, but you refuse to give it to them. Too many past issues have come up and too many are unresolved.

All of these scenarios can be resolved, but they can have some major negative effects in the meantime. One of the worst effects is doing things for other women that you won't do for your wife anymore, either by choice or simple neglect.

Because of the issues mentioned above, here are 8 things you might be doing for women other than your wife:

Let me also insert here that doing these things for other women is not wrong, because we should always strive to be respectful to all women. The issue is when you are treating other women better than you are treating your wife. Your wife should be getting this kind of treatment first and foremost.

1. Holding the door open. You may call it old-school or cliche, but holding the door open for your wife will mean a lot to her. Don't just step up when you see a stranger coming or a co-worker in need; make sure your wife gets even better treatment.

2. Thanking them for their help or services. It might be easy to thank the nice woman at the checkout line or even affirm a co-worker for their help, but your wife also needs to know her help is noticed and appreciated! Pay attention to what your wife does for you and speak up in thankfulness more often.

3. Valuing their choices and opinions. You may not always agree with your wife's choices or opinions, but as her husband, you need to take more effort in understanding why she might be making those decisions. Think about some recent conversations with other women. We're you more likely to agree or disagree with them? Be honest.

4. Admiring their beauty. When you are away from your wife, are you able to keep your eyes and heart in check? When you see an attractive woman, are you more likely to look away or look in places that you shouldn't? Those answers are for you, but I want you to consider why you don't look at your wife that way. Why isn't she your standard? Make her your standard of physical and emotional beauty, and you might have an easier time when you're not around her.

5. Thinking before you speak. When I'm at work and I need to approach a woman, I tend to think about my choice of words before I speak. And not only that, but I tend to choose my words more carefully during conversation. Is this the case with your wife? Strive to be a mature husband who thinks before he speaks.

6. Honestly listening. Staying in line with No. 5, listening skills are a must for a great marriage. Think about the last time you were with friends. Were you more likely to be rude and not engage in listening to the conversations? Or were you listening intently so that you would be part of the group. Well, make sure your wife is part of the group. Make sure you are paying attention to her words and responding to them, and not just waiting for your turn to talk.

7. Smiling. Yes, smiling. Around friends or even co-workers, I can find myself keeping a consistent smile on my face. Not to look weird, but to make the other person feel welcomed and comfortable. Do you do this around your wife? Think about keeping a smile on your face the next time you have a regular conversation with her. When she asks why you're smiling, tell her how much you love her!

8. Having fun. If I happen to be in a situation where I start running into the same woman day after day or week after week, I can start to get comfortable with her. Even if I don't know her, it becomes easy to say hi and then add some little jokes here or there. It seems harmless, but it starts to matter if you're doing it for them and not your wife. A good marriage can handle a little bit of joking and teasing (within reason). Have fun with your wife again this week.

Dig deep and make sure you are not treating other women better than your wife. Make sure your wife is getting the attention she needs from you. Take action this week.

Question: Which one of these steps do you need to take action on in your own marriage today?

Manturity is a blog built on establishing spiritual maturity in today's man. The goal is to assist men in building better marriages and help them grow in maturity and explore different aspects of manhood. features new weekly blog posts, daily social-media updates and a powerful resources page. Stay up to date with the Manturity blog communities on Facebook and Twitter.

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]]> (Bryan Van Slyke/ Featured Men Life Mon, 30 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Warning: Drinking the Wrong Kind of Water Can Drain Your Energy

Lots of people walk around all day with their trusty water bottle in hand to make sure they stay hydrated. But many experts say they are actually making themselves more—not less—dehydrated.

How can this be?

It's because they are drinking water that is too acidic.

The solution is alkaline water, which is surging in popularity and has some people swearing that it has given them a new lease on life.  

Alkaline water—water with a high pH either naturally or because of additives—helps neutralize excess acid in the body, a condition called acidosis. Among alternative practitioners, acidosis is thought to cause a host of health problems, the most common being constant tiredness and lack of energy.

The standard Western diet, which includes exposure to highly acidic water and food, has shifted our bodies' natural pH from an ideal level of slightly alkaline to an adverse level of slightly acidic.

"Most waters out there, either bottled or from the tap, are either acidic or are artificially adjusted in their pH by added compounds like chlorine," says Robert O. Young, co-author of The pH Miracle and other books.

According to Young and other holistic practitioners, no matter how much bottled and tap water a person drinks, it's possible to become increasingly dehydrated.

Young tells Newsmax Health that the earliest stage of acidosis is enervation or fatigue. "We start losing energy. We're tired. We're fatigued all the time."

In extreme cases, acidosis has been associated with body-wide inflammation, the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in coronary arteries, and the development of cancer.

The pH scale is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity. The scale runs from 0-14, with 0 as the most acidic, 7 as neutral, and 14 as most alkaline.

"The pH of our bodies is naturally alkaline at 7.367," Young says.

However, because we constantly consume unnaturally acidic drinks and foods, many of us have flipped our body chemistry to become acidic rather than slightly alkaline. This is where alkaline water can help.

One good source of alkaline water is spring water, which typically has a pH of 8 to 8.5 because it naturally acquires alkalizing minerals as it passes over rocks. When buying bottled water, look for those labeled "spring water."

Another option is to place one or two teaspoons of baking soda into an eight-ounce glass of distilled water and drink two such glasses daily, preferably between meals. If you drink this mixture during meals, you may reduce the effectiveness of your stomach acid and compromise digestion.

Young also recommends juicing chlorophyll-rich green fruits and vegetables such as avocados, cucumbers, green peppers, broccoli and spinach.

"These are foods that not only can help alkalize the blood and tissues but also build and structure stem cells," he says.

You also can alkalize your water by adding three drops of commercial alkaline concentrate to an eight-ounce glass of spring or distilled water.

One such product—AlkaZone Alkaline Booster Drops with Antioxidant—costs about $19 for a 1.2-ounce bottle, which contains about 200 servings. Alkaline concentrates are widely available at health-food stores and through Internet retailers.

Alkaline water, says Young, has both immediate and long-term health benefits:

  • After 20 minutes: Improved mental clarity.
  • After 24 hours: Increased energy.
  • After 72 hours: Lifted mood and improved sleep.
  • In four days: Increased exercise endurance.
  • In one week: Decreased back pain.
  • In two weeks: Decreased joint pain.
  • In four weeks: Weight loss up to 10 pounds.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Rick Ansorge/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Mon, 30 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
Learning From Failed End-Time Predictions

Over the last season I've been pressing into worship and enjoying more of the presence of the Lord. I've also been having wonderful outings with my beautiful wife and children. I keep thinking, how can I bring more encouragement and assist in the expansion of the kingdom of God in this hour?

Yet, every time things begin to advance, feet start dragging and someone "slams on the brakes." Bible-believing Christians are supposed to be talking about "doing life together" and growing in the purposes of God. Yet, most are continually distracted by politics, fear and apocalyptic end-time scenarios. 

I sincerely desire to laugh, love, and leave a legacy, but it can be extremely difficult. Many so-called "prophets" are talking about societal breakdown and catastrophe. In their sensationalist best-sellers, they claim to have witnessed the "signs of the times." 

This is so prominent that a message of "good news" and hope is extremely difficult to find these days (and sometimes it's even rejected).

You probably already know this, but this isn't the only generation that has made these claims. In fact, over the last century there have been countless assertions about "harbingers" and "signs of the apocalypse." Leaders in previous eras also insisted they deciphered the book of Revelation and understood the alarming headlines. 

So, the pessimistic, cataclysmic claims aren't new. They're actually part of the lengthy tradition of anxiety and failed prognostications. In fact, speculative predictions about the end have characterized American Christianity for at least three generations. One would like to think that this madness would ultimately cease, but it never really does. I've found that people keep making these kinds of end-time assertions.

Yet, an honest analysis would show the "track record" isn't good. Thousands of "undeniable" claims in previous decades were proven to be wrong. Let me remind you of some of the things affirmed in the past. 

A Century Of Failed Predictions

At the start of the First World War, the Weekly Evangel, a wide-reaching Fundamentalist publication, boldly affirmed that, "The war preliminary to Armageddon, it seems, has commenced." Less than two years later S.D. Gordon, a popular devotional writer, insisted that the "end of the world" would  

"occur in our generation. That is to say that the man of average age now living, and all younger, barring the usual accidents of sickness and death, will witness the tremendous climax and transition." 

These mistaken beliefs weren't exclusive to the early 20th century. There were many similar claims made during World War II. In fact, it got even worse in the midst of the Cold War paranoia that erupted during the Eisenhower administration. In 1958, one of the more noted of the Salvation-Healing evangelists proclaimed, 

"Jesus is coming soon ... John the Baptist is preaching again! Have you heard John preach lately? I have. You are hearing one of them now."

Apocalyptic predictions expanded significantly during the 1970s and 1980s. For example, in 1970, Hal Lindsey, made a nuanced prediction that the rapture would take place in 1981—seven years prior to Israel's fortieth anniversary (leaving seven years for the "Great Tribulation"). Explaining his outlook Lindsey wrote:

"A generation in the Bible is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place. Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so ... The most important sign in Matthew has to be the restoration of the Jews to the land in the rebirth of Israel. Even the figure of speech 'fig tree' has been a historic symbol of national Israel. When the Jewish people, after nearly 2,000 years of exile, under relentless persecution, became a nation again on 14 May 1948 the 'fig tree' put forth its first leaves. Jesus said that this would indicate that He was 'at the door,' ready to return. Then He said, 'Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place' (Matthew 24:34, NASB). What generation? Obviously, in context, the generation that would see the signs-chief among them the rebirth of Israel."

Obviously nothing of any biblical significance happened in 1981—and for that matter nothing noteworthy occurred seven years later. It was presumed that in 1988, during the fortieth anniversary of Israel's re-establishment, strategic end-time events would transpire. Countless futurists were predicting the rapture or other apocalyptic scenarios, but they were greatly mistaken. 

In his hastily written book titled, 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988, Edgar C. Whisenant argued that the rapture of the Christian church would occur between September 11-13, 1988. He noted,

"Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong, and I say unequivocally. There is no way Biblically that I can be wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town ... if there were a king in this country and I could gamble with my life, I would stake my life on Rosh Hashana 1988."

After his September prediction failed to materialize, Whisenant changed his termination date to Rosh Hashanah 1989—publishing The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. This is a pattern that Whisenant would later repeat in 1993 and 1994. Despite his impassioned pleas, the rapture and his cataclysmic understanding of the end-times never manifested. As the year 1988 (as well as 1989, 1993, and 1994) passed without major incident, apocalyptic teachers looked ahead to 2007—the fortieth anniversary of Israel reclaiming Jerusalem (1967). With this pivotal date in the cross-hairs, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins noted the following:

"If we use the 1948 or the 1967 date, apply the span of a person's lifetime (give or take ten years for the person to 'see' and comprehend the events), then subtract seven or more years for the Tribulation and an interim period between the Rapture and the signing of the covenant with Israel, we come to the same time period for the return of the Lord that many others have suggested ... our generation."

Nevertheless, to the dismay of Dispensational Premillennialists, 2007 also passed without incident. Despite their feverish insistence, the apocalypse clearly didn't transpire within a "generation" of 1948 or 1967. Because of this, many who held a cataclysmic view were forced to rethink what a "generation" really was. Some now suggesting that it is a 70 or 100 year span. They're open to most any adaption, with the single exception of rethinking their erroneous end-time worldview.

What Do We Make Of This?

Failed end-time predictions were undoubtedly widespread over the last century. As these prognostications didn't pan out, the proponents simply made readjustments and looked for new historical developments. Ongoing catastrophes and civil unrest were exploited to distract from previous errors in calculations.

Just as soon as one termination date passed, another conveniently came into view. I believe those who have made failed end-time predictions must be accountable to the body of Christ for their mistakes. They should be held responsible for their wrong interpretations and the disruptions it has caused. Yet, this is rather difficult to do.  

In early 1977, when Hal Lindsey was asked by a journalist from Christianity Today what he would do if he was wrong about his end-time predictions, he responded with the following, 

"There is a split second's difference between a hero and a bum. I didn't ask to be a hero, but I guess I have become one in the Christian community. So I accept it. But if I am wrong about this, I guess I'll become a bum." 

Though undeniably wrong about his end-time predictions over the last 46 years, Lindsey still hasn't referred to himself as a "bum." It's not necessary for this to happen, yet a simple apology might be nice. So in light of all this, what should be the response?

Some would say the only problem was the setting of a particular day and time. After all, Jesus affirmed, "no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows" (Matthew 24:36). Yet, is it possible that Lindsey and his fellow Dispensationalists have been wrong in more than just "date-setting?"

Could the Bible actually be affirming something different than what has been promulgated through Evangelical radio and newsprint over the last 100 years? Could a fresh reading of Scripture affirm that God is up to something more than just darkness and catastrophe? I sincerely think so. I honestly don't know if North American Christians will ever change our darkened outlook. Yet, in the meantime we must be extremely careful.

Whether it be blood moons, the Shemitah, or widespread social duress, we need to be cautious about what we're proclaiming. Like many others, I'd hate to see additional failed predictions. The apostle Paul said it the following way, "Stop listening to Jewish myths and the decrees of people who have turned away from the truth" (Titus 1:14). Fear, sensationalism, and esoteric readings of Scripture aren't going to propel global missions or the expansion of the church. I hope that we can finally learn the unpleasant lesson of previous generations. A fresh understanding of the "Good News" could change everything.

]]> (J.D. King/World Revival Network) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 30 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
How to Make a Major Decision

Earlier in the year I came across a life-changing statement in a book I was reading, and it was almost my birthday, so I called a friend of mine and asked her if she would paint the quote on the wall in my kitchen, above the window.

"Does it have to be paint?" she said.

"No. Do whatever you want," I said. "I trust your artistic eye."

One dark evening in winter she came over with a box and a smile. I was sent to the living room, where I sat for more than a half an hour listening to hammering and then the water running.

"Why are you running the water?" I said.

"You'll see," she said.

I may have let out an unhappy hmmmpph because I was being internally 5 years old and could hardly wait to see what she was doing.

Soon it came time for the big reveal, and when I rounded the corner my mouth split into a big grin. There was the quote I had commissioned, but it looked better than anything I had imagined. It was whimsical, and I loved it. There were wooden letters and hand-crafted letters on paper. One letter "O" was a china saucer leftover from her wedding reception.

"She is an artist," I say.

When it comes to making big decisions in life and asking God about them, well sometimes we approach that process like we're at an oval business table, with yellow legal pads in front of us—me on this end, God way down on that end.

No, no, no.

That's not how it is at all.

God is a creator.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

So when we have this big decision, we need to go to God and ask Him to design. We say to Him, "Whatever you want to do with this is great. Whichever way you want to go."

Because we've seen His work before.

And me—the one who can't even draw a respectable stick figure? I'm not really going to stand over His shoulder and give specifics. I mean, really. I commission His work and then hang a left into the living room and sit and wait miserably.

Except it's not a miserable, worry-myself-into-an-ulcer waiting.

It's more a wiggling-in-the-chair, "Oh my word, what is this going to look like?" kind of waiting.

And here's the thing: Artists labor to make every piece of work unique. They want us to gasp in delight when we see this new creation that no one has laid eyes on before. Nobody wants a print really. No re-makes.

So that decision you're trying to make? The future you're trying to decide? It's going to be unlike anyone else's. God will communicate to you which way to go, but it will be unique to you.

So what's our job when we have a decision to make?

  1. We say, "Lord, what do you want this to look like?"
  2. We wait in childish anticipation. Bug God every day. "Are you almost done? Which way do you want me to go? Can I see it yet?" Bounce up and down. You know, like a kid sitting in front of a table of birthday presents. Like that.

And soon we realize that to fall in love with an Artist is to face decisions that are one big reveal.

Christy Fitzwater is the author of A Study of Psalm 25: Seven Actions to Take When Life Gets Hard. She is a blogger, pastor's wife and mom of two teenagers and resides in Montana. Visit for more information about her ministry.

]]> (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Mon, 30 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
When a Gift Is Bad for Your Child

Gratitude increases closeness in relationships. As you parent your children, look for opportunities to take advantage of gratefulness to draw closer to your kids. Give your children small gifts of love day after day. Be careful, though, that you don't confuse the gratefulness principle with the overindulgence trap.

Some parents, wanting to connect with their kids and develop closeness, recognize giving gifts opens the heart, so they overdo it by giving them too many things. Giving to your kids must be tied into relationship, or the gifts feed selfishness instead of gratefulness.

"Overindulgence is giving your child more than their character can handle."

When children lack gratitude, then the more you give them, the less they appreciate. Parents must restrain themselves or they'll exceed their children's ability to manage the blessings.

Overindulged children rarely become grateful when you give them more things. They grow to be more demanding and selfish. Parents then feel unappreciated and may become resentful. The hearts of both parents and children tend to harden toward each other, and closeness turns into distance.

If your children become overindulged rather than grateful, then pull back on the area where you're giving too much. Look for creative ways to give differently to your child. Teaching the heart gratefulness can be a challenge. Having a child say thank you is just behavior. Gratefulness comes from the heart.

Monitor your child's response to gifts of love to determine if you're growing gratitude or overindulgence. As gratefulness increases, you can slowly give blessings in a way that will produce more gratefulness. You'll know if you're moving too quickly by your child's response.

This tip comes from the book, Parenting Is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, R.N., B.S.N.

]]> (Dr. Scott Turansky and JoAnne Miller) Featured Women Life Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
The Real Purpose of Spirit-Empowered Prayer

"I have heard you," replied Jeremiah the prophet. "I will certainly pray to the Lord your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the Lord says and will keep nothing back from you" (Jer. 42:4, NIV).

What Is Spirit-Empowered Prayer?

It Is Letting the Holy Spirit Take Lead

"All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14, NASB). As in a waltz or dance, you let the other take the lead and gently nudge you in the direction you are to go. We learn to yield to the "now promptings" on the Holy Spirit.

It Is Letting the Holy Spirit Empower You

In Spirit-empowered prayer, the Holy Spirit will light upon you and give you power as it was on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2). It's like getting a booster to your rocket. Your prayers will hit the target.

What Is Prophetic Intercession?

It Is the Place Where Prophet and Priest Are Brought Together

The Priest: pleads the needs of the people to the Lord. The Prophet: pleads the interests of God before the people. Therefore, in true, authentic prophetic intercession, the ministries of the priest and prophet unite in their graces and burdens.

Prophetic Intercession Pleads the Promises

As you arise in worship and are seated with Christ Jesus in the heavenly places, you are not just praying to God, but rather having come into agreement with His heart, you are now praying with God.

In revelatory prayer, you pave the way for the fulfillment of the prophetic promise that has been revealed previously. In prophetic intercession, the Spirit of God pleads, through the believer, the covenant promises of God that have been made to His people throughout history. Every unfulfilled promise is to be pleaded by the Spirit-empowered believer before the throne to see it come to pass.

Calling Forth the "Anna Company" (See Luke 2:36-38)

Anna's primary prophetic ministry was her life of prayer, which helped prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. As it was in the first coming of Jesus, so it will be before the second coming—gifted, consecrated, prophetic intercessors will lay hold of the purposes of God.

Prophetic Intercession Is to Conspire Together

The word conspire means "to breathe together." When God created man from the dust of the earth, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being (see Gen. 2:7). This Hebrew word that we translate "breathed" can mean to breathe violently, such as when the violent, rushing wind filled the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Prophetic intercession is our conspiring with God, breathing violently into situations through prayer in order to bring forth life.

More Forms of Spirit-Inspired Prayer

Praying in the Spirit Through the Gift of Tongues

Praying with the gift of tongues is one of the foremost form of Spirit-inspired prayer. Praying in the Spirit is your spirit communicating directly with God. It's called a "prayer language." "For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" (1 Cor. 14:2, NIV).

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will" (Rom. 8:26-28, NIV).

"For if I pray in an [unknown] tongue, my spirit [by the Holy Spirit within me] prays, but my mind is unproductive [it bears no fruit and helps nobody]" (1 Cor. 14:14, AMP).

Praying in the Spirit is an amazing form of prayer! Since you do not always know how or what to pray in a given situation, you can bring the need before the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is the means by which the Spirit intercedes through your spirit.

It Is a Form of Intense, Fervent Praying

"Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit" (James 5:17-18, NASB).

Fervency is to pray with purpose and focused intentionality. The word "fervent" comes from the Latin word for "to boil hot." To pray earnestly means that one's entire being is engaged in prayer. It is a God worked in prayer request!

Jesus Is Our Example in Fervent Praying

"In the days of His flesh [Jesus] offered up definite, special petitions...and supplications with strong crying and tears" (Heb. 5:7a, AMP).

"Strong crying and tears," especially the Greek term for it, gives the idea that He cried out loudly in prayer, even shouting and screaming. It was the sound of the battlefield, a struggle of life and death. In no way was it timid or restrained.

"The Lord will go forth like a mighty man, He will rouse up His zealous indignation and vengeance like a warrior; He will cry, yes, He will shout aloud, He will do mightily against His enemies. [Thus says the Lord] I have for a long time held My peace, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry out like a woman in travail, I will gasp and pant together" (Is. 42:13-14, AMP).

The Invitation to Spirit-Empowered Prayer

Spirit-empowered prayer might take time. You have to be tenacious. Never give up. You might go through stretches when you are not crying out. In fact, nothing seems to be happening. It's like being a watchman on a wall when nothing is happening. But you stay there. You don't abandon your post. You keep alert at all times and must learn to persevere. You need to be ready when the Holy Spirit is ready.

When you undertake Spirit-empowered prayer, you operate with a watchman's anointing. You watch to see things in the Spirit. What is the enemy up to? What does God want to do about it? You take the keys of the kingdom in your hand and you bind up the darkness. You welcome the Spirit of the Lord's presence. You are vigilant and determined. You worship the Lord, communicate with your fellow watchers and walk in agreement together. Then prayer what is on God's heart.

Will you join me in the journey of Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered prayer? Then together we can release Spirit-Empowered Prayer that Strikes the Mark.

]]> (James W. Goll) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 30 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
20 Bible Verses on Giving

November and December are both months filled with the spirit of giving. We give not to get anything in return, but because Jesus gave his life for us.

Here are 20 Bible verses to chew on during this wonderful season.

1. Deuteronomy 15:10 – "Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to."

2. Deuteronomy 16:17 – "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you."

3. Proverbs 21:26 – "The righteous gives and does not hold back."

4. Proverbs 3:27 – "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it."

5. Proverbs 11:24-25 – "There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered."

6. 1 Chronicles 29:9 – "Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly."

7. Proverbs 22:9 – "He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor."

8. Proverbs 28:27 – "He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses."

9. Malachi 3:10 – "'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'"

10. Matthew 6:3-4 – "But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

11. Mark 12:41-44 – "And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, 'Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.'"

12. Luke 3:11 – "And he would answer and say to them, 'The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.'"

13. Luke 6:30 – "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back."

14. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed."

15. Luke 6:38 – "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

16. John 3:16 – "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn't perish, but would have eternal life."

17. Acts 20:35 – "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

18. Romans 12:8 – "Or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."

19. James 2:15-16 – "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?"

20. 2 Corinthians 9:10 – "Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness." {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is a husband Juli, dad To Finch, pastor, author, blogger and founder of Cause Roast. He's helping people live a better story. For the original article, visit

]]> (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Holidays Life Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Envy: The Malaise Afflicting God's People

A friend asked, "Have you noticed that so many Christians seem to be discontented with their lot? That they envy the rest of the world, and maybe even resent a little having to live like Jesus?"

If this is true—and I know enough of my own heart to suspect it is—it's not a new phenomenon.  The condition has been with us from early on.

The malady was voiced perfectly by the psalmist:

"I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (Psalm 73:3).

You and I suspect the psalmist may have been a bit too selective of the ungodly whom he chose to envy. But that's how we do it, after all.

Envy is Selective

All around the psalmist were wicked people living wretched lives, filling the jails, fighting and killing, fornicating and drinking themselves into early graves. Those people also are "the boastful" and "the wicked." But he focuses on none of those. The ones he admires and even envies are the "up and out," not the "down and out." Look how he describes them ...

  • There are no pangs in their death. (Psalm 73:4)
  • They are not in trouble like other people. (Ps. 73:5)
  • They have an abundance of this world's goods. (Ps. 73:7)
  • They speak against God and show no respect for sacred things, and seem to get by with it. (Ps. 73:8-9)
  • They are always at ease; they increase in riches. (Ps. 73:12)

In short, those he envies have "got it made." (My opinion is he has just described a lot of people who keep filling the society pages of my newspaper!)

After casting the envious eye toward his wealthy and ungodly neighbors, the psalmist begins to wonder if he has wasted his own time serving God. "Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain."  "All day long I have been plagued and chastened every morning," he says, implying that it was all for nothing.

Let's admit something up front: It can be tough serving God. 

Sacrificing to get His message to the ends of the earth. Paying a tenth and more of our income. Giving up our Sundays (and many weeknights and frequently entire weeks!) for spiritual activities when we could be enjoying the lakes and rivers with our families.  Being asked to pray relentlessly, to study God's Word daily, and to do unnatural things like loving enemies, turning the cheek, and rejoicing in persecution—this is uphill living.

Downhill is more fun. At least, we think so.

Our children's softball league plays games on Sundays, and frequently this involves travel. Yet, we have to go to church. Where's the justice in this? Can't I serve the Lord by seeing to my family's needs?

Such selective envy of unbelievers breeds this kind of roaming discontent.

Roaming discontent is major trouble looking for a place to light.

It sounds harmless enough. Discontent. It's not a deadly sin or anything. It's never made the top-10 list of dreaded sins.

But don't let that fool you.

Discontent is the root of 10,000 sins involving God's people.

Discontented with his lot in life, a minister embezzled funds from the church to buy a larger house. The discontented church secretary had an affair with a handsome member and caused a scandal throughout the town. A family simply dropped out of church altogether in favor of sports and travel. Meanwhile, large numbers of teenagers marked time until they were old enough to stop going to church.

David was discontented. "In the spring of the year when kings go out to battle ... David remained at Jerusalem." One evening, he couldn't sleep and was walking on the roof of his house. That's how he spotted a woman taking a bath. And got into big trouble.

Beware of getting bored in the service of the Lord, friend.

OK, now, let's return to the case of the discontented psalmist.

When we left him, he was struggling with envy of the wicked and more than a little displeased with God.  He'd gotten to the point of considering spreading his battitude (i.e., bad attitude; smiley face goes here).

Then, he did something really smart.

"I went into the sanctuary of God.  Then, I understood their end" (Psalm 73:17).

He took his discontent and displeasure (angst?) to the Lord.

And God showed him something.

God gave him a vision of hell, thus ending his sojourn into envy.

The psalmist says, "Then, I understood their end. Surely, You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. ... They are utterly consumed with terrors." (Ps. 73:17-19).

When they died—peacefully, prosperously, with great fanfare and in celebration of their lives no doubt—their troubles had just begun.

We must not miss that. At the moment of their death, their troubles had just begun.

Few things will jerk God's people out of our lethargy and envy quicker than a vision of hellfire, the fate of all who denounce God and reject Him.

Do not be envying those who scoff at God and live for this world. They have bought into the greatest scam of the universe—that to live for the moment while ignoring one's eternal soul is smart—and for us to admire them and want to imitate them would be the height of foolishness.

Other ways God brings us out of our funk:

  • By His presence.  "I was so foolish and ignorant ... Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (Psalm 73:22-24).
  • By a glimpse of heaven. "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You" (Ps. 73:25).
  • By a strong testimony of faith in Him. "My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ... It is good for one to draw near to God.  I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works." (Ps. 73:26-28).
  • And therefore, by His Word. This 73rd Psalm is as good as it gets in dealing with a modern malady afflicting too many of the Lord's children.

Those who live in the Word of God rarely deal with this kind of blue funk that we are labeling "discontent" resulting from envy of the more successful of the devil's bunch.

"If you abide in me and my words abide in you," our Lord said, a lot of things happen, among them: answered prayer (John 15:7), much fruit (15:8), and "you will abide in my love" (15:9).

Stay close, Christian. Those three words say it all. {eoa}

After five years as director of missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe McKeever retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner, where he's working on three books, and he's trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Joe McKeever ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 30 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
You Can Choose What You Think

Editor's Note: As the holiday season gets into full sway, some of us may have a tendency to feel overwhelmed with all the demands the season brings. In the article below, Nancy Alcorn offers sound scriptural advice to help you overcome this tendency by controlling your emotions and choosing what you think by aligning your thoughts with His.

Some people think that whatever pops in their heads is what they have to think about. That's a recipe for disaster.

Thinking is a choice. Just as you exercise control over your body and how you behave, so God expects you to exercise control over your mind and what you think. You choose your thoughts the same way you choose to forgive or choose to say yes to Christ. It takes your will saying yes and then your actions supporting that choice. The Holy Spirit gives you divine encouragement and empowerment to think the thoughts you have chosen to think—His thoughts, not ours. John says, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

At this point, your emotions will scream like a little child because they are used to controlling your mind. They used to set the agenda; they used to run the show.

So here's what you do: Find the volume knob on your emotions and turn it way down. If your emotions don't agree with the Word of God, then they are speaking lies to you. A commitment to Christ is not about how you feel. It is by faith. Inside of you is a faith muscle. The Bible calls it the measure of faith (Rom. 12:3). Just like any muscle it takes time and practice to isolate it, flex it, and feel it working. Soon you realize you're gaining strength. Your feelings and emotions will take notice. Your desires and attractions and opinions will actually change. This is why the Bible says so clearly for us to take an active role in choosing our thoughts:

  • Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Col. 3:2).
  • Cast down vain imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
  • Put off the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).

The above Scriptures do not mention accommodating your feelings or going wherever your emotions take you. It's impossible to accommodate your feelings and walk in freedom. It's like making a peace treaty with the devil and hoping to come out of it alive.

Remember that the enemy has been empowering your negative, lying emotions to try to take your mind captive again. He wants to cancel the power of that commitment you made to Christ. When he sees you're serious about kicking him out and choosing your thoughts rather than entertaining everything that comes into your head, he will probably try to make a deal with you for partial control.

When people try to use their freedom in Christ to fulfill their own desires, it ends in disaster. The Bible warns:

  • "... as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God" (1 Peter 2:16).
  • "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Gal. 5:13).

Getting God's perspective means serving an eviction notice to the enemy and making a firm commitment to choose what we think. Then we can begin to renovate our minds in specific, practical ways.

Ditch-baggageAdapted from Ditch the Baggage, Change Your Life by Nancy Alcorn, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. This book shows you how to walk in freedom, no matter what you've been through or what issues you faced in your past. The author gives you seven time-tested, proven and practical keys to live your life as it's supposed to be lived in Christ. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of Nov. 29, 2015

This week, take time to meditate on the Word of God and establish your thoughts accordingly. Surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to use the Word to transform and renew your mind so that His peace and joy permeates your being throughout your life and not just during the holiday season. Continue to pray for worldwide revival, especially in our own nation. Pray for the safety of those traveling to the Holy Land, and continue to lift up those who have authority over us (1 John 1:7; Eph. 4:22-24).

]]> (Nancy Alcorn) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 29 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
When Jesus Gave a Woman the Desire of Her Heart

"Let it be as you desire" (Matthew 15:28).

These were Jesus' final words, which set this despairing woman's critical issue free with one sentence from His lips. However, it took a journey to get there. What did it take for the woman in Matthew 15 to get that kind of response from Jesus? If He were to speak those words to the crisis you face today ... it would be life changing? ... How did she get Jesus to intervene with a miracle?

1. She relentlessly cried out for mercy in verse 22, asking Him to heal the issue. Her need was great, her daughter was demon possessed and all earthly attempts to fix her were not working. This mother's soul was in agony. She no longer cared about her position, her reputation, and her appearance as a woman "put together." Her house was a mess and she needed Jesus to remedy this or there was no hope ... She was poor in spirit, bankrupt of her own solutions; it was Jesus or nothing.

2. Jesus did not respond, in fact it says, "He said not a word." Sometimes Jesus does not answer on our timetable. He is silent. We wonder why? It did not stop her from continuing her desperate plea for a God-sized miracle even when the disciples looked upon her with disdain and wanted her to stop. Others may not see why you cry out day and night ... it is not their burden, it is your personal torment. You alone approach the Father with your distress. She did not count their dismissive ways as significant. ... they were not Jesus, she only needed His attention.

3. She came and worshipped Him in Matt. 15:25. She knew who He was. She had heard He healed the sick, raised the dead, and did what no man on earth had ever done—performed wonders in impossible circumstances—her last hope. She asked Jesus in a posture of surrender, "Lord help me".

4. She showed great humility when Jesus appeared to be unwilling to help her need. First He did not answer her and then He appeared to diminish her position as she was not of the "right" tribe. She said, "... even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master's table." She was beyond considering herself on Jesus level or those He appeared to associate with. She accepted a lower standing. If she once thought her family had it together, she knew that the horrendous outcries of her possessed daughter let the entire community know, they were dysfunctional, broken, shattered—in desperate need. She accepted a lowly place; she would be content with crumbs. This is when the most incredible miracle in her life took place ... from humility, desperation, brokenness and shame ...

Matthew 15:28

Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

May your faith be so great in spite of what it looks like, what you feel like, how others treat you, that Jesus' eye turns your way and with the kindness and abundance of heaven says to you.

"Let it be as you desire." So be it, in Jesus name, to your situation today.

Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson is the co-host of 700 Club Canada and author of Relentless Redemption. A popular comedic speaker, Laura-Lynn as a distinctive life story that has birthed in her a heart of compassion for humanity and the ability to help her audience laugh at the difficulties of life and overcome in the face of tragedy and failure.  She herself has found the true joy that produces wholeness and healing.

]]> (Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson) Featured Women Life Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
The No. 1 Cure for Fear, Anxiety and Worry

Perhaps there's no emotion more common to the human experience than fear. It's defined as "a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something."

We've all felt it. And unfortunately, it's a daily stronghold that many battle every day.

Fear is often propagated through questions that tumble through our minds: "Will I get hurt by this person?" "Will God really provide this month?" "What if I fail in this venture?" Left unchecked, fear is debilitating and has the power to hold you back and keep you from the blessings and opportunities of God.

Misplaced Faith

For some, the answer to fear is to "have more faith." Yet the Bible assures that God has given a measure of faith to each one of us (Rom. 12:3). And Jesus encouraged that even faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains (Matt. 17:20). Fear is not a lack of faith, but rather, fear is simply misplaced faith.

When you and I give in to fear, we actually take the measure of faith that we've been given and place it on the negative. Simply put: Fear is faith or the confident expectation that something bad is going to happen.

The Simple Cure

Fear need not paralyze you. In fact, the cure is rather simple: Redirect your attention to the goodness of God in your life. This is what David did just before he took down Goliath.

That is, he reflected upon how God delivered him from the lion and the bear, which built his confidence that the Lord would rescue him again (1 Sam. 17:37). This is also how the Lord instructed Israel to overcome the fear they felt before entering the promised land. "You shall not be afraid of them. You must surely remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, 19 the great trials which your eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders. ... So the Lord your God will do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid" (Deut. 7:18-19).

Fear Not!

In whichever situation you find yourself today, God says the same to you: "Fear not! Remember those moments when I got you through. Just remember My goodness and trust Me to move your mountain again." Indeed, reflecting upon the goodness of God in your past is the key to confidence in your future.

In this video, I reveal what to do when you need an instant shot of confidence. {eoa}

Kyle Winkler teaches people how to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the No. 1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent book, Silence Satan, has helped thousands shut down the enemy's attacks, threats, lies and accusations. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity degree in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

]]> (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 27 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
The Inner Tug-of-War Many Men Experience

There is an inner tug-of-war in every man, a tension that drives so much of our outer life. Here it is: We long to be known, and at the same time we're terrified of it.

So many of our patterns of relating and our failures to love can be traced to this tug-of-war. Which side wins? It's usually our terror.

Hence the lifelong attempts to cover ourselves, only redoubling the power of that terror in our lives. We lock up our longing to be known in a dark closet, treating it as we would an abused child, hoping it will go away. But the longing remains and calls out to us, sometimes insistently, sometimes unexpectedly, and so the tug-of-war keeps yanking at us.

Enter Jesus. Take the story of how he dealt with Levi, the tax collector (Mark 2:14-17). Here was a man despised as a traitor by his fellow Jews. Tax collectors not only worked for a pagan government, but they also made their living by overcharging the required tax, as much as they could get away with.

As a result, they were excommunicated from the synagogue, and their families were held in disgrace. They were so mistrusted that their testimony in court was not considered reliable. Yet Jesus chooses this despised man to be His disciple. But the story gets even better.

Levi throws a party and invites the only friends he has, other tax collectors and low-life. What do they do? They eat together. Eating in that culture required a certain physical intimacy, as they reclined together on couches. It also implied an emotional one, as hearts were shared over the food. The text in Mark even suggests that Jesus was the real host of the party.

Imagine the impact on Levi and his friends. They had been despised and shamed much of their lives, and now a famous rabbi and teacher wanted to be close to them. Jesus just saw them so differently than they saw themselves. He longed to know them and be with them, and it began the dismantling of shame. We don't know what happened to Levi's friends after the party, but we do know what happened to Levi. He was so revolutionized by Jesus that he eventually penned the Gospel of Matthew.

This same revolution can happen inside each of us. How does shame get healed in our lives? How do we allow ourselves to be known? It comes as we allow Jesus to re-image how we feel about ourselves as men. The binding power of shame is that it ends up defining us, but the truth is that only the Father knows who we really are. He says that we are His beloved sons (Gal. 4:6), and His only Son is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Heb. 2:11).

I've watched this happen in the lives of other men, but especially in my own life. To deal with the nagging disconnection I grew up with, I buried the longing to be known and turned to substitutes. One of my main ones was an addictive cycle of running and eating.

Unlike the Mark story, I had no experience of feeling connected to others as I ate. It was simply a drug I used to feel some sense of aliveness. Running did the same thing, and the two together worked in a cycle to keep my longing buried and my heart frozen. But with the Father's help and some minor hip arthritis (forcing me to quit running), I am slowly learning to see myself through His eyes.

When we learn to do this as men, we will find shame yielding to glory, and we'll experience the wonder of being known—and being enjoyed—all at the same time. It's the beginning of the end of the tug-of-war.


Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has served as a pastor and a high school Bible teacher. Presently, he leads Landmark Journey Ministries as a speaker, small group coach, and author of Divided: When the Head and Heart Don't Agree and Landmarks: Turning Points on Your Journey Toward God. Bill and his wife have two grown daughters and reside in Franklin, Tennessee. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillDelvaux.

]]> (Bill Delvaux/For Authentic Manhood) Featured Men Life Fri, 27 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Why All Churches Should Address Depression and Anxiety

It's no secret my past was riddled with mental health issues—ones that kept me from wanting to live for much of my teenage life. I'm very vocal about this truth, and I will continue to be as along as my story may have an impact on others who need to hear it.

And while I do believe today's church is doing better at addressing the issue that is mental health, I believe there can be so much more done than what is currently taking place in regards to depression and anxiety. Let me explain.

I never tried to take my own life in my younger years, but I frequently found myself googling painless ways to commit suicide, and really had no remorse once finding what I was looking for. It was a sad state to hold myself. The reality is that my life was infected with the burden of depression and anxiety, and the only places I could find reliable information from were not churches in my local area.

Why? It's because mental illness wasn't really talked about much.

I felt as if all the "Christian" resources were outdated, and really didn't address the fact that taking medication was okay in the eyes of God. There really wasn't much information at all. It was as if all the answers I was finding were suggesting that I just needed more faith.

Seriously? The last thing someone contemplating suicide wants to hear is, "Just have faith." I understand that Jesus has the power to conquer anything that comes in my way, but please don't throw Christians clich├ęs at me. I wanted real, authentic and practical information, and I assume there are millions in this world who would want the same. It's what Jesus would have done.

I really wanted to find help in the church, but there were no ministries or non-profits working within the walls of local congregations that I could reach. All the counseling and help I received came years after I actually needed it, and it was found in the secrecy of a local medical facility, not a church—where it should have been all along.

Mind you, the church has come a long way since my teen years in regards to helping those with mental illness, but I believe we can still do a lot more.

Some Statistics

1. It is reported that 1 in 10 Americans are affected by depression. 

2. Over 80 percent of people who are clinically depressed are not receiving treatment. 

3. The number of people diagnosed with depression increases by 30 percent every year. 

4. An estimated 121 million people around the world suffer from depression. 

5. In 2013 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.

6. In 2013, someone died by suicide every 12.8 minutes.

We Need The Church

"Cast all your care on Him, because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7, MEV).

Here's the thing. I understand that there is importance to seeing what many would call a "professional" in the field of mental health issues, but this doesn't mean that the local church shouldn't be prioritizing leadership roles and ministry efforts to help those who deal with these issues. I understand that not all churches lack in this area, but I bet there are more who do than don't.

My wife and I have met with and counseled dozens of young people over the past year. All shared with us the brutal battle that is taking place within their souls. Suicide attempts, cutting, depression, and anxiety are just the beginning of what these young people were facing.

We NEED the church to step up in its efforts to be more vocal in regards to mental illness. Whether that is through a sermon series, free resources, creating non-profits or even a cultivating a designated year-long ministry. Regardless, the church should be on the front lines of this battle. People need a safe place where they can be honest and transparent with what they are going through.

There is nothing wrong with admitting you are depressed, cutting, have attempted suicide or are even contemplating it. There is nothing wrong with seeking medical attention and being prescribed medication to help you along the journey. And, there is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. 

A Few Resources

1. Heart Support.

2. My Broken Palace. 

3. To Write Love On Her Arms.

4. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety or has even thought of suicide, please give them the resources above and do not wait another minute.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below. {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is a husband to Juli, dad to Finch, pastor, author, blogger, and founder of Cause Roast. He's helping people live a better story. For the original article, visit

]]> (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Health Life Fri, 27 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
25 Silly Things Church Members Argue Over

It began as an innocuous Twitter survey. But then it blew up.

A lot of church members and leaders were eager to share about fights, schisms and conflicts in their congregations. They were likewise eager to point out the absurdity of these issues. There were the ones we've heard often: temperature in the worship center, color of carpet, order of worship and color of walls.

The fights shown below, however, are a bit unusual. Indeed, most of them are downright absurd. I picked 25 of my "favorites." They are listed in no particular order. The parenthetical commentary is my own.

1. Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor's beard (I think I saw a verse in Scripture that indicated it is to be no more than 1.5 inches longer than the pastor's beard.)

2. Fight over whether or not to build a children's playground or to use the land for a cemetery (I'm dying to know the resolution of this one.)

3. A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot (The church could have sold tickets to this event and raised a lot of money.)

4. A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women's restroom (I'm calling unfair on this one. The men should have their stall dividers too.)

5. A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed (I think this one is a timely argument.)

6. A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers (This one is an official cabinet meeting of the church leadership.)

7. A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.)

8. A petition to have all church staff clean shaven (No church planters are allowed.)

9. A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service (I vote for shoes, shirts and pants.)

10. A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off 10 cents—Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue. (I have to admit this issue is 10 times more important than the church missing a penny.)

11. A dispute in the church because the Lord's Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice (Of course it should be grape juice. It's right there in Hezekiah 4:11.)

12. Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve (Wow. This fight was really whacky.)

13. Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.)

14. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example (Perhaps they started a new church: The Right Blend Fellowship.)

15. Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crock-pot that had not been used for years (I bet it was a bunch of crocky old adults.)

16. An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal (Only if it's balanced with angel food cake for dessert.)

17. An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church (The members were licking their wounds over this issue.)

18. A disagreement over using the term "potluck" instead of "pot blessing" (I get it! The concept of luck contradicts the theology of a sovereign God. This issue is very serious. Good luck trying to resolve it.)

19. A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor. (Beth Moore confessed she was the culprit who brought the syrup. Don't you know, Beth, we Baptists cannot have vanilla syrup at anytime? Chocolate is fine though.)

20. An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine (I think a calendar should be made where every church member has at least five minutes access to the copy machine each year. You can have a business meeting to vote on each five-minute increment.)

21. Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split. (Thus the Second Electrolux Church was born.)

22. An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not (I thought gluttony was a sin.)

23. A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black T-shirts, since black is the color of the devil (Are you sure he's not red? That's what I've heard.)

24. A fight over whether or not to sing "Happy Birthday" each week (I've got an idea. Alternate it with the doxology.)

25. An argument over whether the fake, dusty plants should be removed from the podium (Just give them a little water. They should be fine.)

Yes. These issues are silly; many are absurd. But they are all distractions from what we should be doing in our churches. In that sense, they are really great distractions from the Great Commission.

Let me hear your stories!

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit

]]> (Thom S. Rainer) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
Why Our Worship Culture May Not Be Working

We exist in a generation saturated within a "worship culture." This culture is almost addicted to a certain sound or feeling within worship. Without realizing it, we have labeled good or memorable worship as the kind that sounds good, feels good, and/or looks good. We are moved by the sounds and the experience of the song. It isn't something we do purposefully but it's something that we have made a habit of. Over the past year, God has been opening my eyes to realize the state of my worship.

I realized that so many times in my worship I acted liked a Pharisee, blind to the one sitting right in front of me. I judged worship based on how I felt, not how the one I worshipped felt!  Jesus is looking for worship that looks like the sinful woman in the following story:

As Jesus was ministering, He was invited to have supper at the house of Simon, a Pharisee. While he was reclining, a sinful woman with an alabaster jar (worth a year's wages!) ran to his feet, anointing them with oil and washing them with her tears. She did this in faith that Jesus was the Messiah and worthy of her sacrifice. Simon was outraged at such an expensive item being wasted in this way. Surely, it should have been given to help the poor? Here's what Jesus had to say in Luke 7:

"Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn't stopped kissing My feet since I came in. You didn't anoint My head with olive oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that's why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.' Then He said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven'. ... And He said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.'" (Luke 7:44-48, 50).

Perhaps it's time we all took a second look at how we worship. Do we really give Jesus the response that He deserves? Has our worship been based on our feelings or His? Do we get bored in worship? Does praise control our tongue or is it silent in His presence? Let's revive our worship into moments that wash the feet of Jesus!

Bailey Riza is a young, passionate, up-and-coming voice in the music industry. A worship leader, songwriter and recording artist, she has a wealth of experience and a dynamic approach to teaching and leading. She is a member of the Faith Alive Band and travels throughout North America performing and ministering in many different arenas. Her songs have been featured on the Faith Alive Show as well as on Daystar Television Network. Her latest EP, "Coming Alive," topped the iTunes charts in Canada! She was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Canada), and attends Faith Alive Family Church, where her parents are senior pastors. She loves her family, church and country and has a zeal to see this generation experience a powerful outpouring of God's presence. 

]]> (Bailey Riza) Featured Women Life Fri, 27 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
Learn to Receive What God Has for You

Have you ever had a hard time receiving a gift from someone? God's gift of salvation is one gift you will want to say yes to! Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, 9 not of works, so that no one should boast."

We are saved by the grace of God through our faith in Him; our faith does not buy our salvation—it merely receives it. As Ephesians 2:8 says, salvation "is the gift of God." It is impossible to buy a free gift, and this can be hard for us to understand. Our flesh wants to earn and deserve this free gift and take credit for being worthy of it.

But salvation is given to us freely by God's grace, and the same way we receive Christ's salvation is the same way we have to live—by grace. God gives us His forgiveness and grace daily; we just have to believe and receive it.

In Christ, You Are Sin-Free in God's Eyes

When God forgives your sins, it means all of your sins: past, present and future. You do not have to be afraid of sin because God has taken care of the problem. This is why the gospel is such good news!

Some may worry that if we don't fear sin, we will keep sinning on purpose, but that's not true. If you are truly born again and really have a relationship with God, there is a new nature inside of you.

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new"

Now, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes sometimes. But if the Holy Spirit is living in your spirit through salvation, you won't be comfortable with those mistakes because God's nature is at work in you. The devil would love for us to feel as though God is mad at us for our mistakes, but the truth is: God is love, and we need to humbly accept His love and grace.

Changed by Grace

In John 15:5, Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing." I love this Scripture because it reminds me that God doesn't expect me to change on my own. He is the power source and gives us the grace and strength we need to do what's right and make changes in our lives.

Here's how we cooperate with Him, doing what we can do to bring about change:

  • We hear the truth in God's Word and we're convicted by it. It's the Word that shows us who we are and reveals the sin in our lives. We have to realize what we're doing wrong before we can know what needs to change and how.
  • Then we repent of our sin. Being repentant means we're sincerely sorry and willing to turn away from it. (1 John 1:9)
  • The next step is to study the Word in the area we need change. For example, if I have a problem with anger, I need to study Scriptures about anger and forgiveness. Use the Word like medicine and take it into your heart and mind. James 1:21 says to "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and remaining wickedness and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" There is power in God's Word to bring change to our souls!

Receive All God Has for You and Enjoy Your Life

To receive God's blessings and enjoy everyday life, we simply need to make the decision to believe Him and His Word more than our thoughts and feelings. The Bible is our instruction manual on how to grow into the new nature He's given us and become who He wants us to be. So take some time each day to read and meditate on Scriptures that tell you about God's love for you, who you are and what you have in Christ.

Ephesians 3:17 says, "and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love" This Scripture is saying that God loves you; His will is for you to be His child and receive every blessing He has for you—righteousness, peace, joy, provision of your needs, healing and restoration. In Christ, you have a personal relationship with your Father God, you can hear from God and be led by the Holy Spirit, who lives in your spirit. In Christ, you have access to God's grace and strength to do whatever you need to do. Because of God's grace, you are blessed and you can enjoy your life!

]]> (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
5 Reasons You Shouldn't Cohabitate Before Marriage

Are you single or dating someone you think may be the one? Or do you have kids who are dating and may be thinking wedding bells at some point?

If so, you may want to consider the importance of marrying before moving in together or of teaching your kids about the pitfalls of shacking up.

More and more couples are choosing to move in together before marriage. One reason is to save on rent. Yes, saving on rent. Saving on rent is not, and should not be, a reason to live with someone who may or may not become your spouse. In fact, it is a really bad reason. Below are five reasons shacking up is a bad idea:

1. No blessings from God. The Bible considers shacking up the opposite of a legitimate marriage. A legitimate marriage consists of a union between a man and woman who have made a covenant and commitment. Shacking up involves neither. Marriage was a union created by God and is a union God blesses.

2. Your relationship will probably end. An article on states that 80 percent of shacking-up relationships end before marriage or in divorce after marriage. So, it is 80/20 against you getting married or staying married to that person. One reason is because there is not a commitment when you move in before marriage. A relationship without commitment will not last, and marriage is the biggest commitment you can make in life.

3. Your children will be negatively affected. To the parents who have children, your kids are three times as likely to be expelled from school or get pregnant, five times more likely to live in poverty, and 22 times more likely to be incarcerated—all because you choose to live with someone you're not married to.

4. It makes you lazy. As a married man, I know that once dating ends, the relationship changes. Living together removes the "being your best" part of your relationship. Kind of like most job interviews—you wore the suit to the interview, but once hired, you show up in khakis and a polo. And if you're living with a woman and getting some of the "benefits" of marriage—sex, having someone to help around the house, sharing the bills—you can also get lazy about taking the next step in your relationship.

5. Saving on rent. Mentioned above.

 Related Resources: 

How will you educate your adult children about the dangers of shacking up?

All Pro Dad is Family First's innovative and unique program for every father. Their aim is to interlock the hearts of the fathers with their children and, as a byproduct, the hearts of the children with their dads. At, dads in any stage of fatherhood can find helpful resources to aid in their parenting. Resources include daily emails, blogs, Top 10 lists, articles, printable tools, videos and eBooks. From, fathers can join the highly engaged All Pro Dad social media communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

]]> ( Staff) Featured Family & Parenting Life Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Quit Tolerating the Jezebel Spirit

Is there someone in your life influencing you in a bad way? Have you tried to break free from their negative influence, but can't? It may be that there is a Jezebel spirit controlling your life.

Jesus mentioned this Jezebel spirit to the church in Thyatira: "But I have a few things against you: You permit that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols" (Rev. 2:20).

This woman Jezebel was clearly a code word for a certain woman in the church that citizens of Thyatira knew. Jesus did not call her by her actual name because she was likely an important citizen of the Roman Empire. If He had used her actual name, then the authorities would have destroyed the book. So instead, Jesus used a wicked queen of ancient Israel to describe the type of woman that was in the church.

Even people in the church can have a Jezebel spirit controlling them. Jezebel spirits are not just found in the world. They can be seen in church. Also, the Jezebel spirit is not related only to women. Any gender can have the Jezebel spirit.

People Influence

You are a product of people influencing you. Everyone in some way or another is influenced by others. People can influence you for good or for bad. Consider Solomon's wise words, "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man you will not go, lest you learn his ways and get a snare to your soul" (Prov. 22:24-25). You do learn ways from people by closely associating yourself with them. People rub off on you. If you associate with godly people, then their godly ways will rub off on you, but if you associate with ungodly people, then their ungodly ways will rub off on you.

"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed" (Prov. 13:20). When God wants to bless you He sends you a wise person, but when the devil wants to harm you, he sends you a fool.

Don't become a companion with a fool. God made you to be an eagle not a turkey. Quit hanging around turkeys, otherwise, you will be eaten for Thanksgiving!

Popular Person

Jezebel was a famous queen. Like her, this Jezebel woman at Thyatira was popular as well. She called herself a prophetess. She made herself to be important. Evidently her self-advertisement worked because even God's servants were deceived by listening to her teaching. She did not simply lead people into immorality by example, but she taught it.

What was it that she taught? We get an idea of what she taught: "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this teaching, who have not known what some call the 'depths of Satan,' I will put on you no other burden" (Rev. 2:24). The term "depths of Satan" is a reference to the Gnostics. They were a small minority trying to remove the apostolic teachings handed down directly by the apostles. The apostles were eyewitnesses of Christ and they alone saw Jesus in the flesh. John mentions this in his first letter, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have touched, concerning the Word of life— the life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it" (1 John 1:1-2).

Since the apostles had the distinct privilege of being with Christ in the flesh, they have a preeminent place in the church. However, this competing sect wanted the preeminence. They believed that the flesh was sinful, and therefore, Jesus could not have become flesh. John criticized these false teachers, "For many deceivers, who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Each one is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 John 7).

The Gnostics denied that Jesus came in the flesh and said that the apostles only saw Jesus as a spirit being, and that anyone can see Jesus as a spirit being. They claimed that Jesus visited them as a spirit being.

One of the main messages of the Gnostics was this: "Since the flesh is sinful, Jesus could not have become flesh. And since the flesh is sinful, it does not really matter what you do with your body. What matters is what you do with your spirit." From this false concept was born other ideas.

For example, in Thyatira there was an important fertility temple. At the temple, business was conducted. During business, there would be sexual acts performed in the temple as well as eating food sacrificed to idols. Some of the business people were expected to join in these sexual acts and festivals.

This problem caused an important question within the church. Should Christians conduct business in this fertility temple? Obviously the answer was no.

But Gnostics, believing that the body was evil anyway, convinced God's servants to go along with the festival in the fertility temple, saying that it doesn't really matter what you do with your body. They rationalized sinful behavior.

Tolerance Can Be a Sin

Jesus pointed out the main problem with the church of Thyatira: "You tolerate that woman Jezebel." Jesus did not simply criticize the woman, but also the church. It was their fault that she was misleading God's servants into immorality. The church should have excommunicated her, not give her a platform.          

Jesus delivered the message to those being influenced by Jezebel. It may seem harsh to point the finger, not at her, but at her victims. But you see, Jesus believes that every victim has power to put a stop to their own victimization.

This article is not written to try to change Jezebel, but rather to keep Jezebel from changing you. Jesus had no hope for Jezebel changing; He said, "I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, but she did not repent. Look! I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds" (Rev. 2:21-22).

Jesus is patient, but His patience is not everlasting, otherwise, He could never eventually judge the world. He gives up on any voluntary change for Jezebel, and instead, puts her on the bed of affliction with the hope that she would eventually change because of her pain. However, Jesus offers hope for those being influenced by Jezebel. He warns the victims that if they don't repent from Jezebel's ways, then they will also suffer with her.

This message is to you. You are not a victim who can't repent. There are certain "ways" you picked up from Jezebel. You have tolerated those ways in your life. You can't anymore!

The sin of the victims was tolerance. They tolerated Jezebel. Tolerance is a word that usually has positive connotations. While tolerance can be used in a positive way, there is an ungodly usage of the word tolerance. When you tolerate something evil that affects you or others badly, then it is evil tolerance.

To tolerate is not necessarily to propagate something. It is simply letting it happen without doing anything to stop it. As much as it seems harsh on the victims of Jezebel, they are indeed tolerating that spirit.

Rejecting Authority

Interestingly, there is no example in the Bible about the Old Testament Queen Jezebel being sexually promiscuous. Instead, she is described as a wicked queen who led people into the worship of idols. She had no regard for the rights of individuals. She also usurped authority from her husband.

The greatest manifestation of the Jezebel spirit is a rejection of authority or the abuse of authority. The greatest authority over us is God. Second is God's Word, the Bible. When a person begins to argue against the teachings of the Bible, they are manifesting the spirit of Jezebel.

God also puts leaders in the church to guide people. "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account" (Heb. 13:17). Spiritual leaders have to make decisions based on the wisdom God provides for them, including, putting other people in charge of various ministries. They must also have the power to discipline; otherwise, they are only figure heads. Often when a person with a Jezebel spirit gets disciplined, then he or she begins to rebel. No one likes discipline, but it is necessary to run the church.


The hardest job I have as a bishop is to excommunicate members. Once I had to excommunicate one of our members when I found out that he had committed adultery with two different women in my church—one of those girls was 17. After confronting him, I discovered that this was a pattern in his life. He had not just committed adultery with these two women, but he had done this numerous times before he ever came to my church.

Excommunication should be the last resort that any church takes. It should only be reserved when the pastor concludes that the danger the offender poses to the church far outweighs any hope for restoration. Pastors cannot put the church at risk. Pastors cannot be overly sympathetic with people in the church who will likely hurt more people. A pastor must not tolerate the Jezebel spirit in his church.

Abusive Relationships

It's true that the Bible says that the head of the wife is the husband, but that headship must be carried out in love. But when a husband abuses his role—through abuse, neglect, adultery, abandonment—he loses the authority God gives him. If he continues, the authority will not be restored.

Sister, if you are married or seeing a man who is abusive or cheating, then you cannot put up with it. You must put a stop, and usually, the way to stop it is by ending the relationship. It is hard to do so. I get it! But you can't continue letting a man abuse his God-give authority to hurt you.

Effects of Jezebel

What are some things that the Jezebel spirit does?

  • It brainwashes members of religious groups so they are afraid to act on their own conscience. Church of Scientology is an example.
  • It binds a wife to an abusive marriage.
  • It endangers a child by keeping him in the home of an abuser.
  • It risks taxpayers' money by sheltering political leaders from accountability.
  • It encourages demagoguery in a nation so minorities and the politically disenfranchised are destroyed or hurt. Hitler exercised the Jezebel spirit.
  • It terrifies workers from standing up to bosses who break the law.
  • It turns a blind eye toward police brutality or, conversely, overreacts toward police who are simply doing their duties.  

How to Respond

A pastor can't simply tolerate sinfulness in the church without addressing it. A wife can't simply tolerate an abusive or cheating husband without taking action. Citizens can't simply tolerate demagoguery in their nation without attempting to stop it. Brainwashed members can't simply tolerate the cult; they must get out.

The problem with Jezebel is partly the blame of the victims. They let it happen. It's not a sweet and cuddly message to the victims. However, it is the message the victims need. They need to know they have power to end Jezebel's influence over their lives.            

I've written this because the Jezebel spirit is still alive and working in the world and even in the church. It is important that you do not tolerate the Jezebel spirit either in your life or the lives of others.

In the end, it is your responsibility to stop others from manipulating you, enticing you to sin or causing you to rebel against true leaders. You must take a stand and refuse to tolerate the Jezebel spirit. {eoa}

Tom Brown was one of the best-kept secrets in the body of Christ until his national exposure. He was featured on the national television network MSNBC in which they did an hour-long documentary on his ministry of deliverance, and they showed his success in dealing with the spiritually oppressed. Tom is pastor and founder of a fast-growing church in El Paso, Texas, Word of Life Church. He is author of several books including How to Receive from GodDevil, Demons and Spiritual Warfare and his newest, Breaking Curses, Experiencing Healing. Recently he was ordained as a bishop under apostolic succession under the Anglican Tradition. More and more churches are affiliating with his ministry.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Tom Brown ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 27 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Instilling Thankfulness: 10 Talking Points for Your Thanksgiving Table

If you're like me, you appreciate practical tools to help you in your Christian life. With Thanksgiving approaching, here's a gift to enable you to cultivate grateful hearts in those with whom you gather.

First of all, living in our increasingly secular society, it's important we remind ourselves of the pertinent facts concerning the holiday of Thanksgiving. In 1863, a Christian president, Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed a national day of "thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in heaven."

Second, the first Thanksgiving holiday was a joyous event celebrated by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims who enjoyed a plentiful harvest after their prayers and hard work redeemed a very difficult first year in America. Remember that the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact stating their purpose in leaving England to come to America was for religious freedom not selfish greed.

That purpose is clearly stated: "For the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith." Subsequently, they joined together for three days of prayerful thanksgiving to God for the harvest and the blessings He bestowed upon them.

It's important to review these facts with family members and guests, lest we fall prey to thinking this is just a day off for feasting, football and Friday shopping prep!

Third, as Christians, we always want to cultivate thankfulness in our lives. Recall how Jesus had 10 lepers whom He healed and yet only one came back to say thank you. God gives us a directive, not an elective: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess. 5:18). We need to develop the habit of giving thanks "in" everything, not necessarily "for" everything that comes our way.

10 Thanksgiving Talking Points

Feel free to adapt, delete or custom design the following questions, plus use them as a springboard for some great interaction in a short devotional time before or after eating or while enjoying that scrumptious meal.

1. Thank God for sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life and then died the death we deserved in our place. Why does this matter?

2. Thank God for the gift of freedom upon which America was uniquely founded. Ours is the only nation in history ever established on the principle that "all men are created equal"
and enjoy certain rights that do not come from a dictator, king or government but the living God.

3. Thank God for all the bountiful varieties of food we enjoy every single day. Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world. Fifteen million children die yearly, and 21,000 die daily because of this. One-third of the world is starving while one-third is underfed. Imagine if we had to search garbage cans for specks of nourishment to feed us.

4. Thank God for our health, medical technology and personnel who keep us healthy. In the '90s, more than 100 million children died from illness and starvation alone. Yearly, more than 1 million children die from preventable diseases, like diarrhea and pneumonia, because they lack treatment we easily take for granted. Does this matter?

5. Thank God for our eyes and the phenomenal gift of sight. Jesus called the eye "the lamp of the body," and it has over 2,000 components! Cover your eyes for a moment and imagine what it's like to live in darkness, like some do. Would you take $1 million for your eyes?

6. Thank God for our parents and the promise that God gives: "Honor your father and your mother ... that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you" (Deut. 5:16). Why is this important?

7. Thank God for clean running water available in our sinks, washing machines, dishwashers and toilets. More than 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, which yields sickness and complex problems. How would you feel if this was our situation?

8. Thank God for policemen, firemen, garbage collectors, 911 first responders and others who protect us—especially men and women in the military. Can you picture what our life would be like without these public servants?

9. Thank God for the wonderful gift of electricity. More than one quarter of the human population does not have access to any electricity. Name some items in your home powered by electricity. What would life be like without them?

10. Thank God for our teachers and education, whether it's public, private or done at home. One out of every four children in America grows up without the ability to read. Sixty percent of inmates in prison are illiterate. Are we thankful for our teachers and the gift of learning?

Here's the deal: It is so easy to take things for granted and to grumble and complain unless we catch ourselves and intentionally cultivate thankful hearts. The Thanksgiving holiday affords us a tremendous opportunity to nurture an attitude of gratitude. Carpe diem—seize the day!

Editor's Note: This story originally ran on in November 2013. {eoa}

Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with over 40 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves people and loves awakening them to today's cultural realities and the responses needed for the bride of Christ—His church—to become influential in all spheres of life once again.

]]> (Larry Tomczak) Featured Holidays Life Thu, 26 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
A Tale of 2 Ex-Wives

This is a tale of two ex-wives. Both are Christians. If you have to be one, choose which you would rather be.

Bee's husband of two years left her for another woman. When she asked why, he told her he had never loved her and that his new girlfriend was the love of his life. Bee was boiling mad when within a week she got an invitation to the wedding. She went anyway, but with her own agenda.

At the reception, Bee brought the bride a drink and asked if she could propose a toast. "All the best to you for as long as you live." By the end of the night, the bride had collapsed. Within an hour she was dead of a type of tasteless poison, Bee had poured in her drink.

Prison of Her Own Choice

Bee knew she would spend the rest of her life in prison, but she didn't care. She had her revenge. She wanted her ex-husband to be miserable knowing the "love of his life" had died at her hand. She, though, could never get the actions of her husband nor of herself out of her mind. It kept her in constant turmoil.

On the converse, another woman, we'll call Guivre, faced a similar situation after 10 years of marriage and three children. However, her husband got the other woman pregnant. Guivre and her husband divorced. However, Guivre forgave her ex and made an effort to have a civil relationship for the sake of their children, and their eventual grandchildren. She lived her life in peace.

Guivre understood the Biblical principal of forgiveness and it's long-term implications. "If you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."1

Everyone Needs Forgiveness

You might say, what had Guivre done to be forgiven for? Every person has done something wrong at some point in time.2 As humans we are prone to categorize sins. Such as "A little untruth is not as great as murder." However, God says if we are guilty of disobeying one aspect of God's law, we are as guilty as someone who disobeys all aspects.3

This is the reason God tells us to forgive. He says if we won't forgive others, He won't forgive us.1 I don't know about you, but I must forgive because I need God's forgiveness. There are areas of my life where for years I flagrantly sinned by disobeying things I knew God had told me to do. My area of sin had to do with overeating. Yours may be something else. Guivre's may have been something else. However, we all have those things we've done against God. It's the reason we need the Savior.4

Once we come to Him and He forgives us, He tells us to go and do the same with others. If we don't, we will be just like Bee, held in a prison we created ourselves until we forgive.5

We always tend to keep something back we think we can't let go of, such as the pain we feel because of hurts we have endured in our lives. We must surrender everything we are holding back, especially if we think the other person doesn't deserve your mercy.

Well, neither did we—deserve it, that is. Wrongs are wrong. We may have not done anything wrong in that situation, but we have done something wrong, no matter how small.

Unforgiveness Stops Destiny

The person you won't forgive because they don't deserve it is holding you back from your destiny. However, it's not their fault. It's your fault for not letting go of the hurt. By holding on to the pain, you are paralyzed in your tracks. You will never go forward, you will never get victory until you forgive what the person did.

It was wrong. Yes. This is even more reason to forgive them and move on. Don't let them define who you are. They are not worth it. By not forgiving them, you are allowing the rest of your life to be defined by them. Every day you are allowing the hurt they caused you to grow bigger and bigger until it overwhelms and suffocates you, keeping you from your God-ordained destiny.

First Step Toward Change

The reality is, forgiving another is hard. That's why God is there to help us through it. If Jesus can forgive His crucifiers for killing Him,6 surely you can forgive one person in order to step into God's change process for your life.

Forgiveness is the first step toward transformation. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I first heard this from Joyce Meyer, though the same thing substituting anger for unforgiveness, is also attributed to Buddha. Both are true because most of the time it is out of anger that we will not forgive.

Forgiveness Sets You Free

Here's the bottom line, forgiveness sets you free from the prison of uselessness you put yourself in. You want destiny? Forgive. You want purpose? Forgive. You want peace? Forgive.

Here's one simple method I've used to forgive. Hold out your hands to God. Symbolically put the person you need to forgive in your hands. Say, "Father God I forgive this person and I hand him or her to you. They are no longer my concern. Father God, what do you give me in exchange?"

Whatever you sense, feel or hear Him say He gives you, write it down. It will be something helpful on your journey. Many times He gives me peace. Sometimes He simply tells me I am His beloved daughter. At times, He has pulled back the veil in order to give me a short glimpse into my future as long as I am walking in total submission to Him.

And that complete surrender thing? That, my friend, is what it's all about. It's also the hardest part.


I almost forgot. Here's an update on our friends. Bee is still in prison and still miserable. Her ex-husband had been married for 20 years, has four children and a thriving business.

Guivre has a great career she loves, travels with friends and enjoys having her children and grandchildren visit often. She never married again. Her ex-husband never married again either. He stayed in all of his children and grandchildren's lives.

If God is speaking to you about your health being a major roadblock to His plans and purposes for your life, run don't walk and sign up today for Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching and Accountability Group. It is my heart's desire to help you get free of the bondages of extreme weight. No hype here. Just truth. I can tell you unequivocally this is one time I do know what I'm talking about. You know if I am speaking to you. Here's the link:

1Matthew 6:15

2Romans 3:23

3James 2:10-13

4Romans 6:23

5 Matthew 18:21-35, especially verses 34-35

6Luke 23:24

]]> (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Thu, 26 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
How to Teach Your Kids to Be Thankful
As I'm writing this, it's a week before Thanksgiving, but I already have my turkey thawing in the refrigerator. My menu is simple: turkey, ham, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, pie. The recipes are ones I've been making for 20 years—nothing fancy here. Our table will be set like any Sunday dinner. I'll even admit I don't have one turkey decoration in our whole house.
Instead of planning for a party, my focus this month has been on my idea of nixing the entitlement attitude in our family. Yes, I'm thankful for all I have, but is it possible to take that thankfulness one step further and try to root out my entitlement attitude? I think so.
I haven't been making holiday crafts; instead I've been cleaning out my closets. Three large garbage bags of clothes have already gone to the teen moms that I support. These are nice clothes, name-brand clothes ... but do I need them all? No, I don't.
I've been trying to pass down this idea to my kids too. I get on them all the time about all their wants. That's all I hear from them at the store: "I want. I want!" I don't act that way, of course, but that's because when I want something, it's easy just to put it in the cart. I'm not pouting, mostly because I have the money to enjoy that little treat. After all, what's another $2.99 going to hurt?
It hurts because I'm not modeling good stewardship to my kids. So instead of throwing things in my cart, I've been confessing my own desires. And today, instead of buying things for us, we purchased gifts for three kids through Angel Tree. My kids were so excited about their purchases ... and they truly were thankful givers! (You can find out how to donate to Angel Tree here.)
In addition to taking the focus off our own wants, there are a few other things to stop entitlement and be truly thankful in my family. Some ideas are mine, and some are from Facebook friends!
1. Teach cooperation. The reality of life is that we often have to cooperate with others. We are not the center of our world. The family who works together at home raises children who know how to do that through life.
2. Teach the value of money. Teaching kids to bargain shop helps them to understand the value of money. From the time our kids were small, we only shopped in stores we could afford, and even then we went straight to the clearance racks. We also shop at yard sales and secondhand stores. When shopping, give your older kids a set amount of money to manage. If they only want one pair of designer jeans instead of four generic pairs, that's a decision he or she will have to live with.
Guide teens to consider the less fortunate. "I use sites like the Girl Effect and World Vision to teach the teens in my life about poverty," says Alyson, mother of two. When teens understand poverty, they also know how much they have and grow generous hearts. Our daughter Leslie, now 22 years old, started sponsoring a child when she was 14 and has been faithful to give.
3. Be available. "If you're going to hold back from things we consider 'entitlement,' filling in the gap is important," says Jennifer, mother of three. "If you can't get them a car, then provide your teens with the security that you will help [them] get where they need to be and be open to picking up friends. If you can't buy designer clothes, help them pick up a few nice pieces and put outfits together." Show your teens that you are available and that you are all part of a team.
4. Encourage positive friendships. "My daughter is 16 years old, and she has no cell phone, no car, no designer clothes," says Diane, mother of two. "One of the biggest helps in this area has been choosing friends wisely. Since most of the kids in her 'peer group' are from like-minded families, we've been able to avoid a lot of those issues."
How about you? Have you thought about how to be truly thankful by cutting out entitlement in your family? It's great to be thankful this time of year ... but it takes work to live it out day to day!
Editor's Note: This story was original published in November 2013.
Tricia Goyer has written more than 35 books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and nonfiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts, Thriving Family, Proverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine.
]]> (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Thu, 26 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
When You Don't Feel Especially Thankful

We're in a season of giving thanks. Thanksgiving Day is set aside for giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest of the year before. Yuletide joy over the birth of Christ follows.

But what if it doesn't? What if you don't feel especially thankful this Thanksgiving? What if you don't feel particularly joyful this advent season? What if you are going through trials and tribulations that have you spinning in circles, struggling to maintain your faith, and avoiding prayer like the plague?

During this season when many are celebrating Christ, singing Christmas carols and counting their blessings, there are many going through divorce, grieving over deaths, and watching the enemy work to steal, kill and destroy their children. During this time when people are jolly, jingling bells and telling holiday jokes, there are many fighting depression, despair and death.

What to Do, What to Do?

So what do you do when you don't feel especially thankful? What do you do when your emotions are on a roller coaster? What do you do when nobody seems to understand or care what you are going through? What do you do when you're tempted to blame God for your circumstances?


In short, you obey the Word. The Bible says, "Give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20). The bottom line is that even when bad things are happening into us, even when we're experiencing gut-wrenching pain that makes us want to withdraw from everyone including our Comforter, God is still worthy of our thanks.

Romans 8:28 is still true. God really is working all things together for good—even the things that are tragic. Ephesians 1:11 is still true. God really does work all things according to the counsel of His will—even the things that defy His will. God's will is good, perfect and acceptable and He's going to turn it all around in due season.

God Has Not Betrayed You

Satan will do anything he can to drive a wedge between you and your loving Creator. He points a finger at God when tragedy—or even just circumstances you don't like—strikes. He suggests God doesn't care about your problems. He blames God for not healing your sick loved one or saving your children.

Although God never does anything wrong and never needs forgiving, we can sometimes feel like God has betrayed our trust. We stood on His Word, believed with all our heart, waged spiritual warfare, prayed in tongues for hours, and still didn't see good come to pass. That can leave us resentful, bitter and unforgiving.

I've shaken my fist at God once and been furiously angry with Him at least one other time. I can tell you this: He would much prefer you talk to Him about it than shut Him out. If you communicate with God, even if you are angry, He can reach you, help you and heal you. God never betrays us, but our emotions do.

Managing Your Emotions

We are all emotional beings. God gave us emotions—and God Himself has emotions. Think about it for a minute. Sometimes we feel joyful; sometimes we grieve. Sometimes we feel bold; sometimes intimidated. Sometimes we feel triumphant; sometimes completely and utterly physically and emotionally exhausted.

Our emotions can be a great motivator at times and a great enemy at other times. In fact, Watchman Nee, author of books like Spiritual DiscernmentSecrets to Spiritual Power and Let Us Pray, once said that emotions are the believer's number one enemy—not the devil, but our emotions.

If we give God the reins of our heart, we'll find stability—but we have to give Him all the reins or we are in danger of pulling in the wrong direction as we run our races. If we pick and choose which emotions we will submit to God and which ones we'll allow free reign in our souls, we'll wind up unstable—and wound up. We'll find ourselves holding on tight as the emotional roller coaster turns us upside down and leaves us spinning in circles.

Give God the Reins

We need to align our emotions to the Word of God. Yes, I know. That's easier said than done. Believe me, I know. But if David did it so can we. It's not a matter of putting on a soldier face and keeping a stiff upper lip. David poured out his emotions to God—the anger, the disappointments, the hurt, the confusion—but he didn't wallow in those emotions. He submitted them to the one who could stabilize his soul.

Yes, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to love and a time to hate, as Solomon shares in Ecclesiastes 3. But it's always time to rejoice in the Lord—not in our circumstances but in the Lord. I believe choosing to rejoice in Him as an act of our will is one of the most strategic ways to submit our emotions to Him—to give Him the reins of our hearts.

So what do you do when you don't feel especially thankful? Intentionally find something to thank Him for—and there's plenty. I assure you, there's plenty. Whatever we face in this life, it's only temporary and, like Kathryn Kuhlman used to say, "No matter what happens to you, as long as God is still on His throne and there's an answer to prayer. Just so long as your faith in Him is intact, you cannot be defeated." Amen.

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 26 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
At Thanksgiving, Are We Truly Blessing God?

As we pause this week to give thanks, are we remembering to give thanks to our Creator and Sustainer of life?

We sit at the Thanksgiving table and are thankful for our family, friends, jobs and whatever else is on your list, but do you really stop to give thanks for your Heavenly Father?  I'm not talking about saying, "I am thankful for God," everyone does that. Are you truly thanking Him for His attributes, who He is and what He does?

Psalm 100:4 says, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name."  Are we truly thankful? Do we truly bless His name?  I think we say we are grateful to God, but do we meditate on His goodness?  "For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations" (Ps. 100:5).  Do we think about His mercy or do we simply give a short Thanksgiving thanks and move on?

God is good! Our Father is everlasting! Do we thank and praise Him for our job, marriage or ministry? Are we appreciative of how He assists us through the day and orchestrates our steps?  Do we thank Him for the different seasons of weather, for the all the different shades of green and types of trees He created for us? He could have created one tree, but He chose to give us a variety. Do we thank Him for the freedom to worship Him and assemble together for those of us who live in countries where we have freedom of religion?

I think when it comes to praising and thanking God, we can slide by and do a quick job at praising Him. When we look at enter into His gates with thanksgiving, the praise of our lips with words should go forth first. As a society we don't know how to give praise for five minutes continually. We may give someone a sentence or two of thanks and appreciation, but we don't really build up that person and edify them.

The Bible instructs us to minister unto the Lord. Ministering unto the Lord is more than giving Him a simple lip service thanks. Are we grateful, sure, but doesn't He deserve us to specifically think and meditate on what we are grateful for? Isn't He worthy of us to thank Him until we truly run out of words? 

Where would we be without our Heavenly Father? He created us and sustained us in our mother's womb. He breathed the very breath of life into us. He continually protects us and keeps us from harm. He truly never lets us down! As you go into Thanksgiving, take some time either early in the morning or late after your festivities have ended and meditate and truly think about who your Father is and what attributes He has.

Spend time with Him and thank Him for who He has made you to become and truly give Him the thanks and praise He so rightfully deserves. 

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a prophetic healing ministry releasing the love and power of God, igniting people in the prophetic and releasing people from emotional bondage.  She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours.   Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people, including A Worship Woven Life, Time to Set the Captives Free, and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at

]]> (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 26 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
10 Tips for Having a Peaceful Holiday With Your Crazy Family

If you are hosting a large group of family members at your home this Thanksgiving or Christmas, you want it to be a special and memorable holiday. Unfortunately, these annual gatherings can often bring out the worst in families. Old hurts can be rekindled and relationships can suffer.

INFO for Families consulted with a panel of relationship experts to learn what you can do to avoid emotional complications this year. We heard their advice and found it to be full of obvious platitudes that most people can figure out on our own. So, we rejected their counsel and made up our own list of ten tips for Imperfect and Normal Families like yours. (If you try these, please take pictures for the rest of us to enjoy.)

1. Before your guests arrive, take the time to carefully consider the different perspectives that others in your family have. Only then can you fully appreciate how inane their ridiculous opinions truly are.

2. Instead of dividing family members into the proverbial "big table" and "kids' table" segments, scatter chairs and TV trays through every room of your house so that each person can dine in silence and solitude.

3. If, however, you are a traditionalist and feel obligated to host everyone at a large table, make some "table talk" cards with questions like: "What is your opinion of U.S. policy in the Middle East (that you will now silently ponder inside your head without saying anything)?"

4. Don't correct, discipline, or even comment on the behavior of any one else's kids. Whoever said "it takes a village" also said "keep your mouth shut at gatherings of extended family."

5. If you need to work through a conflict with your in-laws, don't talk about it. Instead, challenge them to a battle of strength like arm wrestling or kickboxing. (I can usually take my mother-in-law in four or five rounds of traditional jiu-jitsu.)

6. For the single adults in your family who often get upset when asked about their future prospects for marriage, go the extra mile by surprising them with a blind date/potential mate of your choosing. They will surely appreciate the gesture. (For an extra special Christmas gift, a one month subscription to eHarmony would be a nice touch.)

7. If you begin to feel your emotions rising due to a particular issue or a difficult relative, give yourself a little personal space. I recommend the Caribbean.

8. Because memories can be filled with painful emotions, don't ever talk about the past. Keep conversations centered on shallow and entirely meaningless current events. Like the Kardashians.

9. If conversation lags, don't make the rookie mistake of saying something like: "I'm voting for _____ in the primaries because all the other candidates are idiots."

10. Finally, if your family is made up of a high percentage of crazy people, you might consider changing your name and moving to a different country. If you have an opportunity to enter the witness protection program, you should definitely take advantage of that.

A More Realistic Suggestion

Let's face the truth: nothing can fully eliminate the potential conflicts that might arise when big families come together. The awful advice in this list probably won't work in most cases.

We love our families and we can always hope and pray that this year's holiday will be filled with peace, joy and precious new memories. Perhaps the best way to make that happen is by basking in the grace that God offers us and then choosing as an act of our will to offer that same grace to our families.

It also might help to lower the bar on our holiday expectations for our Imperfect and Normal Families. If we are hoping things will go perfectly (even if they never have before) we are probably setting ourselves up for failure.

Finally, as your family holiday gathering draws closer, ask God to show you exactly what it looks like for you to obey His command in Romans 12:18. Paul writes: "If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Let's cast aside our excuses & our need to be right and do whatever we must do to have a peaceful, conflict-free family gathering this year.

And if you decide to forget it all and instead head for the Caribbean, let us know. We might want to come with you.

Adapted from, a ministry founded by Barrett and Jenifer JohnsonAfter serving in the local church for 25 years, Barrett and Jenifer launched INFO for Families as a ministry designed to encourage people through speaking, personal coaching and resource development. Barrett served for 15 years in youth ministry before serving for 8 years as the Family Minister at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, one of the largest churches in the South. He has degrees from Texas A&M University and Southwestern Seminary, but he and Jenifer have received their best education through the no-holds-barred nature of everyday family life.

]]> (Barrett Johnson) Featured Women Life Thu, 26 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
When Your Quest for a Perfect Holiday Season Drives You Mad

It was my 10th Christmas away from home.

I had always been very strong about celebrating Christmas away from everything that was familiar, even the year I spent Christmas in Bosnia, where the only sign of Christmas was a shopping center in town.

Christmas was always a huge deal at our house.

My dad would spend days putting lights on the house and decorations all over the yard. People would slowly drive by our house to take it all in.

My mom would spend weeks in the kitchen baking cookies and making candy.

We had a special "tree tradition"; and even though every year my dad would solemnly tell us that gifts would be sparse this year because our budget was smaller, there always seemed to be a truckload of gifts under the tree.

It all spelled the perfect Christmas for me.

And I'd spent the past 10 years trying to recreate it.

But my husband's idea of Christmas is so very different from mine. To him it was food, to me it was atmosphere and tradition. Food was only one part of it for me and he didn't understand my love of tradition ... or even why my traditions were so important.

It made for some very tense holidays the first six years of our marriage.

Join us in quieting our hearts for the holidays!

I spent all of 2014 preparing my heart to lay down my idea of a perfect Christmas.

You see, I'd work myself into a frenzy trying to make it all perfect as a way of insulating my heart from disappointment. Somehow I'd tricked my heart into believing that no one should have a Christmas that didn't live up to their ideals, and so in an effort to control anything that could go wrong, I turned into a crazy person around December 1st. Somewhere around 8 p.m. December 25th the adrenaline would wear off and I'd have that feeling of being let down.

But I was determined that Christmas 2014 would be different.

The decorations didn't go up December 1st. I only made a few kinds of goodies – trimming my Christmas baking list way back.

But most of all, I released all of my expectations.

And something wonderful happened, I had the best Christmas I'd had in years!! It truly was perfect, because there wasn't an ideal to live up to.

The perfect Christmas isn't about atmosphere, it's about attitude.

I learned something that year.

A perfect Christmas isn't atmosphere and tradition, it is a quiet heart that is centered on Christ and filled with family.

This year Darlene from Time Warp Wife is leading us in a special Christmas study starting November 22nd called Quieting Your Heart for the Holidays.

The study will be on her blog, where you can find a free study guide.

You can also find this wonderful 30-Day Prayer journal.

Just look at this! It has the sweetest graphics in it, places to fill in for reflection and prayer, and to record a memory of the day. Plus at the back it has Christmas preparation and shopping lists.

I can't tell you how much I love it!!

Get Quieting Your Heart for the Holidays here!

Join us on Sunday as we begin to prepare our hearts to quiet down for the holidays so they are free from those expectations that so often let us down, so we can be free to just enjoy Christ and our families to fullest.

Rosilind Jukic, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her Bosnian hero. Together they live with their two active boys where she enjoys fruity candles, good coffee and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. Her passion for writing led her to author her best-selling book The Missional Handbook. At A Little R & R she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. You can also find her at Missional Call where she shares her passion for local and global missions. She can also be found at on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.

]]> (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Wed, 25 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
Is Force Ever Acceptable?

WARNING! This is a long and highly controversial post!

Let me begin this dialog by saying that I hate violence. I think it is an ineffective way to resolve problems. War is terrible—there's just no two ways about it.

That being said, there seems to be a lot of confusion over whether or not we should protect people by using force (or violence). Oftentimes people quote Jesus' exhortation "to turn the other cheek," or "love your enemy" as validation that we should not fight violence with force or that force is never an acceptable way to deal with certain vicious people.

First, let's remember a few things about Jesus and His kingdom:

1. Jesus wasn't passive. He drove the moneychangers out of the temple with violence (used a whip).

2. The kingdom of God isn't non-violent. Jesus said that His angels would be protecting Him if His kingdom was of this world. Also, the book of Revelation depicts several scenes of violence in which the angels are involved in some pretty bloody altercations.  

3. Finally, with reference to civil government using force against violent lawbreakers, the Bible says,"If you do what is evil, be afraid; for it (civil leadership) does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil (Romans 13:4).

So, God is not a Buddhist, nor is He some docile doormat.

Now, on a more practical side, if someone broke into my house and wanted to rape my wife or kill my children, I certainly wouldn't read them John 3:16 and hand them a WWJD bracelet!!! Love looks like something, and in this case, the love I have for my family requires me to defend them with my life!

Ten years ago, I was in Rwanda, Africa. There was a violent genocide that took place there a few years earlier. One million people were slaughtered with machetes – women, babies, children, men—everybody literally hacked to pieces, while the United Nations peacekeeping troops fled the country.

Senseless? Yes. But I doubt that dropping them food in a humanitarian effort would've fixed the problem. Force was needed to finally stop the bloodshed.

Years ago, I ran a youth group for juvenile delinquents who were on parole, with the Trinity County probation department. I met with those kids twice a week for five years. The very first night I broke up five fistfights. They refused to respond to a few Bible verses and some flowers. I had to use force to break up the fights; nothing else worked.

Talking to them while they were trying to kill each other was meaningless! That scene repeated itself over and over for the first couple of years. As time went on, I taught them life skills, like how to resolve conflict peacefully. I don't remember a single fight the last three years that I was there.

They learned that violence wasn't the answer. But in the meantime, I often tackled them to the floor and held them down until they agreed to leave. Trust me, it wasn't pretty! In fact it was scary. Oftentimes my "Christian" friends would come down to "help." But usually after one night of violent encounters, they were done.

I honestly think that many people grow up in a sheltered environment, and therefore they live with rose-colored glasses on! They seem to have no idea what the real world is actually like. The closest they've ever got to violence is an "R" rated movie. They make ridiculous statements like, "just give the Iraq people who are running for their very lives some food. Don't use force to protect them, after all, we are Christians and we believe in turning the other cheek." (That will be their last supper).

Certainly, we wouldn't want to hurt those violent Muslins who are killing and raping anyone who disagrees with them. Not to mention the fact that they are crucifying Christians on crosses in the streets and shooting them in mass graves!

Lord, I'm thankful that these passive people were not around when Adolf Hitler was murdering Jews by the millions in gas chambers and torturing them in front of their own families.

"Well, this is none of our business!" they protest. If I walked passed a woman whom I didn't know who was being raped in a park, I'd better make it my business. She's someone's daughter, someone's sister, and maybe someone's mother.

America is blessed. But to whom much is given, much is required.

We can't protect everybody in the world, but we can save some. And when and where we can, for God's sake, we had better try.

For those of you "turn the other cheek" people, if you or yours are ever assaulted (God forbid), don't call the police, they might use force to save you. Put your pastor on speed dial and forget 911.

YIKES man, what are people thinking?

Our battle is not against flesh and blood ... unless it is!

Kris Vallotton is the senior associate leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Kris travels internationally training and equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. He's a best-selling author, having written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the kingdom. He has a diverse background in business, counseling, consulting, pastoring and teaching, which gives him unique leadership insights and perspectives. Kris has a passion to use his experience and his prophetic gift to assist world leaders in achieving their goals and accomplishing their mission.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Kris Vallotton) Featured Culture Life Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
How Lincoln Made Thanksgiving a National Holiday

Thanksgiving is the great American holiday that people of all religions embrace as their own. It is a tradition that hearkens back, of course, to the early Puritan fathers who thanked God for helping them survive in this new world. It was not, as some politically correct people would have us believe, to thank the Indians for their help. The Puritans were thanking Almighty God—as we should be doing ourselves.

Thanksgiving only became a national holiday in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation reprinted below. Until then, various states had Thanksgiving on different days.

In 1861, Lincoln ordered government departments closed for a local day of Thanksgiving. On Sept. 28, 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote to Lincoln urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She explained, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving ... become permanently an American custom and institution."

George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of Thanksgiving, issuing his request on Oct. 3, 1789, exactly 74 years before Lincoln's.

The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise." As we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, let's reflect on these words from one of America's greatest presidents at the height of the Civil War.

Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State

]]> (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:30:00 -0500
'Daddy, I Disobeyed': A Lesson on Disobedience and Grace

I was thousands of miles away ministering at a men's retreat near Seattle, Washington. My wife and three sons were in Atlanta, Georgia. I was making a routine phone call to let them know how lonely I was without them, when my wife informed me:

"William has something he needs to tell you."

I immediately knew my nine-year-old son was in trouble. She handed him the phone. He made his confession.

"Daddy, I disobeyed. And it cost $200."

That was a short confession. I needed more information, so I played detective.

"Who did you disobey?" I was pretty sure of the answer to question No. 1.

"I disobeyed Mom." He sheepishly confirmed my suspicion.

"OK, so you disobeyed your mother. But how did that cost $200?"

He had disobeyed his mom before, but there had never been a monetary price attached to it. What's going on here? Did she fine him? Two hundred dollars, that's a pretty steep fine for a nine-year-old. Maybe, she suspended his allowance for the next five years? But $200? He could never come up with that much money.

"Well, see, Mom told me and my brothers to stop wrestling in the house, and we kinda stopped, but we were still playing this game where we sorta push each other and try to make each other fall down, but we don't hurt anybody, but we weren't really wrestling, but Mom says we were, and so my brothers pushed me and my head hit the corner of the door, and blood went everywhere, so I ran downstairs to find Mom, and blood kept going everywhere, and so she took me to the hospital and the doctor gave me a shot so the stitches won't hurt and I got six stitches and Mom had to pay the hospital and the doctor and buy medicine and all that cost $200. Oh yeah, Dad, I almost forgot, and the doctor said I was the bravest person that he had ever had to put stitches in."

Besides the $200, it also cost him a week with no swimming—doctor's orders. That was pretty tough since it was summer time and there was a great pool where we were staying.

Recognizing this to be one of those made-for-the-gospel events, I seized the moment and prayed God would make the reality of His grace as permanent as the scar on William's head. I prayed that every time William looked at his new scar he would remember these three truths:

1. Disobedience is always costly—the tragedy of SIN. This lesson was obvious to William. Unfortunately, it's not so obvious to us most of the time. We think we can sin and get away with it. We can't. No one can. No one ever has. No one ever will. Adam disobeyed, ate the fruit, and paid the price. Cain sinned, killed his brother, and suffered the consequences. David, because of his position of power, thought he could literally get away with murder, not to mention adultery. Thanks to an obedient and fearless prophet, he got caught. He subsequently repented and was restored. If we sow to the flesh, we reap corruption. It's a fact of life we can't change—sin is costly.

2. Disobedience costs more than we can pay—the reality of JUDGMENT. William's medical bills that resulted from his disobedience cost more than he could possibly pay. That's how sin is. It always produces death—spiritual death. That's the price of sin.

William had the power to obey or disobey, to wrestle or not to wrestle. He chose to wrestle. Of course, like most of us, he rationalized that he was not really wrestling, but we all know he was. Just like those who convince themselves that their lying, stealing, and adultery is, somehow, acceptable. All sin, even sin that has been rationalized out of existence, is costly—very costly. William found out the hard way.

3. God paid the price for our disobedience – the gift of God's GRACE. William disobeyed his mother, cut his head, and in the process accumulated $200 in medical bills. He couldn't afford the price of his disobedience, so who do you think got stuck with the bill? Right, it was the offended party. The one he disobeyed paid the bill. That's what happened on the cross. We sinned against God. We couldn't pay the price to fix the situation. God, the offended party, paid for our disobedience. We caused the problem, because of our sin. God fixed the problem, because of His grace. That's the gospel.

"But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:23).

Thank God for the unfathomable riches of His grace!

Steve and Deborah Murrell went to the Philippines in 1984 for a one-month summer mission trip that never ended. They are the founding pastors of Victory Manila, one church that meets in 14 locations in metro Manila and has planted churches in 60 Philippine cities and 20 other nations. Currently, Victory has more than 6,000 discipleship groups that meet in coffee shops, offices, dormitories and homes in metro Manila. Steve is co-founder and president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a family of churches focused on church planting, campus ministry and world missions.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Steve Murrell) Featured Men Life Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Fitness and Thanksgiving: Declarations of Thanks for the Works of Art We Live In

Thanksgiving, as the name makes clear, is a day to reflect on the blessings we're most thankful for. For the Pilgrims back in 1621, they gave thanks for an abundant harvest.

Over 100 years later, George Washington made the holiday official, proclaiming it "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God." Today, surrounded by good company and a great feast, we typically reserve a few moments before the big meal to recognize the major "favors" of God in our lives, namely our freedom, our family, and our friends.

But what about our bodies?

Being in the fitness industry, and having researched and written about health and wellness for over 10 years now, I am convinced that our bodies are, sadly, among the things for which we are least thankful. Think about how much we hear ourselves and others groan and complain about the way we look, the way we feel, the way we don't look and feel like so and so. Think about all the TV programs we watch, books we read, and gear we buy, all in hopes that they will be the golden ticket that will thrust us through the door of sky-high self-esteem and sunny satisfaction. Think about the fact that the cosmetic industry rakes in $55 million annually.

I wonder what would happen if we were to, this Thanksgiving, consciously think of and give thanks for the things we appreciate about our bodies.

It's a compelling notion, isn't it? It sounds good, doesn't it? But would we really feel genuine as we named parts of ourselves that we're fond of and not completely disgusted by or displeased with? Or would we feel like we're merely going through the motions, engaging in a fruitless exercise that will leave us no more thankful for the present state of our bodies than we are for the rowdy crowds of Black Friday? There's only one way to find out.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it" (Ps. 139:13-14, NLT).

I took some time recently to consider what the Psalm 139 passage above means when it describes us as "wonderfully complex" and "marvelous." Afterward, I was amazed by just how short those two terms fall of adequately describing these unparalleled machines we do life in! Words utterly fail to convey the beauty and precision, the awe and delicacy, the majesty and genius with which our bodies were created. It's my prayer that somewhere within the following paragraphs, you begin to feel grateful for your body and moved to praise the One who knit it together and called it to life.

"The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33:4, MEV).

Before I get started with my Declarations, let me ask you this: What are you doing right now?

If your answer is "nothing," you are mistaken ...

Right now, even though you may appear to be idle, countless incredible events, each necessary for your survival, are taking place inside you. For one, your heart is beating. If you're in average physical condition, it beats between 60 and 70 times per minute, 93,000 times per day, 655,000 times per week, 34 million times per year, and 2.4 billion beats in the average lifetime. What's so mind-blowing about this is that, most of the time, the heart fuels itself, paces itself, repairs itself, and alters itself in response to lifestyle changes, with no conscious effort on your part.

In addition to your heart, right now your liver is detoxifying your blood, your brain is storing away information, cells are being formed while other cells are destroyed, and energy is being used and produced. So the next time someone invites you out and you really don't feel like going, you can honestly tell them, "Sorry, but I'm busy," ha!

I, for one, and am thankful for the following regarding the body God's given my soul to reside in:

1. I'm thankful for a wonderfully complex brain.

  • The brain consists of approximately 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) which gather and transmit signals.
  • Your brain, when awake, generates enough electricity to light a lightbulb.
  • The brain does not feel pain because it has no pain receptors.
  • There are about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the brain.
  • New neurons continue to be made throughout life in response to mental activity.
  • Information can be processed as fast as 268 miles per hour.
  • In a lifetime, your brain's long-term memory can hold as many as 1 quadrillion (1 million billion) separate bits of information.

American author and biochemist, Isaac Asimov, said that the human brain is "... the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe." As you read this, your brain is signaling your eyes to automatically adjust the focus and aperture. We humans are not the product of chance or haphazard construction. German-American rocket scientist and aerospace engineer, Wernher von Braun, stated, "Certainly there are those who argue that the universe evolved out of a random process, but what random process could produce the brain of a man or the system of the human eye?"

2. I'm thankful for a wonderfully complex heart.

In the time it took you to read the section above, approximately 1.5 gallons (6 liters) of blood passed through your heart. Did you know that the human heart's blood vessels are not just straight-through tubes? They are helical, meaning they have a slight twist to them. This gentle corkscrewing makes your blood flow more evenly, minimizing damage from turbulent flow. This smooth flow also encourages the production of health–promoting protective substances. God's attention to the human heart is nothing short of amazing!

3. I'm thankful for wonderfully complex cells.

  • 300,000,000 human cells die every minute. Though this is a large number, it is only a fraction of the cells that our body contains. Estimates have put the total number at 10 to 50 trillion.
  • Our body produces 300 billion new cells each day. These are needed to maintain the body's functional "status quo" as well as to continuously repair and build new cells.
  • If all of your DNA were stretched out, it would reach to the moon 6,000 times!

Your red blood cells, which just happen to be the ideal shape for transporting oxygen, are manufactured and destroyed at an incredible rate. Approximately 10 million red blood cells are made every hour, and an equal number are destroyed. If either supply or destruction becomes out of sync by as little as 1 percent, then life ends because blood gets so thin that oxygen transport is insufficient, or it gets so thick that it can no longer circulate.

Blood clotting is similarly complex. This process is a coordinated function of at least 11 chemical factors. Should blood clot too readily, or should clots which are formed fail to dissolve, you die. Should it clot too slowly, again, the result is death. Our body contains hundreds of complex feedback loops whose precision and reliability are vital to life.

We don't often take time to think about it, but we tread a very narrow path where the smallest error produces death.

Are you thankful yet for this brilliant masterpiece you live in?

4. I'm thankful for wonderfully complex internal organs.

  • The surface area of a lung is approximately that of a tennis court. (This large surface area makes it easier for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.)
  • Scientists have counted over 500 different functions of the liver.
  • The human body can survive the removal of the stomach or the spleen. It can survive the loss of 75 percent of the liver, 80 percent of the intestines, one kidney, or one lung.

5. I'm thankful for wonderfully complex bones, muscles, and skin.

  • A block of bone the size of a matchbox can support nine tons (four times the weight that concrete can support).
  • Ounce for ounce, our bones are stronger than steel, since a bar of steel of comparable size would weigh four or five times as much. A cubic inch of bone can, in principle, bear a load of 19,000 pounds, which is roughly five standard pickup trucks.
  • And yet despite the fact that they're stronger than steel, 31 percent of our bones are composed of water.
  • We use 200 muscles to take one step.
  • Skin is constantly shedding dead cells and renewing itself. We shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour.
  • On average, we shed so much skin in a lifetime that by the time we turn 70, we'll have removed an entire small human (105 pounds), from ourselves.
  • In addition to our five senses, we actually have an extra meta-sense known as proprioception, which combines our brains' knowledge of what our muscles are doing with a feel for the size and shape of our body so we can know where the parts of your body are with respect to each other. It's how you can close your eyes and still easily touch your nose.

6. I'm thankful for wonderfully complex eyes.

  • If the human eye were a digital camera, it would have 576 megapixels. In comparison, the Mamiya DSLR, which has 80 megapixels, retails at a whopping $34,000.
  • Experts estimate that the human eye can distinguish 10 million different colors.
  • The human eye can only see a small fraction of a visual field at a time, so our eyes perform 2-3 saccades (quick, automatic eye movements) per second to complete a single complete picture.

7. I'm thankful that I'm made in God's image.

Genesis 1:27 says that God created us in "His own image." While evolutionary biology considers us nothing more than glorified apes, scientific research confirms that humans are vastly unique on many levels.

Only humans possess the ability to create and understand art. Man's capacity for abstract thinking also sets us apart from animals. By referring to unobservable events and changes, we are able to formulate explanations for why certain things are happening.

We are also set apart from all other creatures by our ability to make moral judgments. We can discern between what is right and wrong. No animal models exist for human pride, shame, or guilt. A dominant male chimpanzee does not punish or prevent another chimpanzee from stealing food from another. Humans are unique in that we recognize wrongdoing and seek redemption. This is because we were created in the image of a holy and righteous God.

8. I'm thankful that my body has a built-in soul and spirit.

Perhaps what I'm most thankful for is that when this wonderfully complex body dies, my soul and spirit will go on living. And they'll do so in God's presence.

"Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24, MEV).

I'm thankful that while some people don't have eyes that see or ears that hear or hearts, cells, kidneys and brains that function properly, what is absolutely true and unchanging about every single one of us is we all have souls capable of being saved from sin and death.

The moment we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be like the thief on the cross to whom Christ said, "you will be with me in Paradise."

Our sins past, present, and future are forgiven. Guilt and condemnation have no place in our lives. Death has lost its sting. The grave is without victory. We are declared "more than conquerors" through Christ, and nothing can separate us from His love.

I don't know about you, but those last thoughts alone provide me with enough thanks to fill an eternity of Thanksgivings, which leads me to a final declaration:

I'm thankful for a wonderfully complex eternity throughout which I will praise the One who gave His life to set us free. {eoa}

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House's Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman's Guide to Total FitnessPerfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness, and her latest book, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God's Love. Her popular website can be found at and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Diana Anderson-Tyler) Featured Health Life Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
Not Trusting God Leads to a Great Deal of Stress

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God" (Psalm 20:7, MEV).

Everyone trusts something. The question is, what—or who—do you trust?

Our society tends to spurn trust—or at least we say we do. We're skeptical of everyone and everything. We don't trust the government. Employees don't trust employers. Customers don't trust businesses. When you get down to the bottom of the decline of trust today, you'll find that our society's "truth decay" is a big part of it.

Truth and trust go together. You trust people who tell you the truth. You don't trust people if you don't think they're telling you the truth. And if you don't believe in absolute truth, then you can't trust anyone to tell you the truth.

Our lack of trust causes us tremendous stress in life. We were born to trust. God wired us with the capacity and desire to trust in something greater than ourselves because He wanted us to have a relationship with Him.

If you don't trust God, you will create something else to trust. It may be a diploma on the wall, money in the bank, your spouse, your career, or a hobby. This desire to trust in something larger than ourselves is nothing new either. The biblical writers were keenly aware of it in their cultures as well. The Bible says in Psalm 20:7, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (NIV).

The Bible has a word for whatever we place our trust in rather than God. The Bible calls it an "idol." God's Word says that, for our own good, we need to stay away from idols: "Give good care to yourselves ... lest you corrupt yourselves and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure ... "(Deuteronomy 4:15-16, MEV).

Talk It Over

What are you tempted to trust in rather than God?

How does a lack of trust in God lead to stress in your life?

Look at the areas of stress in your life. What do they reveal about your trust in God? How can you change that?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it. {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Rick Warren ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 25 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
The Key to Staying Young

Retirement. We can't escape the topic. Television, radio, Internet and even billboard ads remind us that we're closer today than we were yesterday. The prevailing message is this: If you haven't begun to plan, you'd better start soon. Some even stir up anxious thoughts. They make us wonder, "Will I be ready?" "Will I have enough cash?"

No doubt these are valid questions. With about 10,000 people turning 65 each day, it's certainly something to consider. But don't be misled. Yes, prepare for the future. But keep the right perspective. Retirement is a time to blossom, not wither. To create, not vegetate. So along with all those financial strategies, plan for a future of purpose.

Consider Caleb. When he was 40, he, Joshua and ten other men were sent to spy out the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report. Yes, the land was occupied, but it was ready for a takeover. Yes, the people dwelling there were tall and fierce, but the Lord was with them, and God promised to deliver.

We know the story. The children of God believed the bad report, fear prevailed, and they ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Caleb and Joshua were the only two men from that generation to enter the Promised Land. Notice what Caleb says to Joshua when the time finally came for his tribe to possess their allotment:

"I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land ... and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in" (Joshua 14:7, 10-11)

Caleb, at age 85, took over the land he was promised, and he took it by force! Growing older does not mean we grow irrelevant! His work was as significant in the second half of his life as it was in the first. Now don't get me wrong—we should all plan for retirement. But let's keep our priorities in order. A 401k and an IRA are fine, but they won't make your days meaningful. If you want a lifetime of purpose, then model your retirement plans after Caleb's: serve the Lord, and drive out the enemy!

Kara Davis is a doctor of internal medicine and a former assistant professor of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently practices at the Christian Community Health Center in the Chicagoland area, and she is also the author of Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss (Charisma House).

]]> (Dr. Kara Davis) Featured Women Life Wed, 25 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
What God Gives You in Prayer

The most limiting misconception about prayer is that its secret lies in the words we sandwich between "Dear God" and "Amen." God has so much more to give us than just those things we know to ask Him for. He wants to give us Himself. And what does He want in return? Everything. Prayer is not an activity, but a relationship.

Teri bought an abstract painting from a junk store in California for $5. Ten years later, she discovered that the "junk" she purchased was likely an original Jackson Pollock painting and could be worth more than $10 million. Let's project our imaginations into the future and suppose that Teri has been paid $10 million for the painting that cost her $5. Let's imagine that she is sitting in the palatial mansion the money has afforded her and that she is dripping in jewels and draped in fine designer clothing, none of which she could have afforded previously. Imagine that I ask her, "What did that Jackson Pollock painting cost you?" How do you think she would answer that question? I think she would say, "Cost me? It cost me nothing. It gained me $10 million and afforded me everything I own." When the profit far outweighs the investment, we call it gain. The initial cost is swallowed up in the benefit it obtains, and it shows up on the "profit" side of the balance sheet.

Jesus challenged those who would be His disciples first to count the cost. "For who among you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost to see whether he has resources to complete it? Otherwise, perhaps, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to complete it, all who see it will begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to complete it'" (Luke 14:28-30). He made it clear that to be His disciple would cost a person everything. But Jesus also challenged those who sought to be His disciples to count the reward. After you count the cost, then count the reward. "If you remain in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:31-32). When the benefit far outweighs the cost, we call it gain.

"But what things were gain to me, I have counted these things to be loss for the sake of Christ. Yes, certainly, I count everything as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have forfeited the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God on the basis of faith, to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Phil. 3:7-10)

Do you see what Paul is saying? He said that he gave up everything he valued because when he compared it to "the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord," everything he valued was rubbish. It was nothing. It was less than nothing. The worth of everything he valued was swallowed up in the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. If we could ask Paul, "What did radical discipleship cost you?" I think Paul would answer, "Cost me? It cost me nothing and gained me everything."

The call is radical. His call to you is that you surrender everything to be His disciple. And when you have emptied yourself of everything you have, He will fill you with everything He has. What does Jesus have to give you? "All that the Father has is Mine" (John 16:15). Once you have counted the cost, then count the reward.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is an author, speaker, conference leader and executive director of the Praying Life Foundation. You may visit her online at

]]> (Jennifer Kennedy Dean) Featured Women Life Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
How to Leave an Unhealthy Church

Two weeks ago I shared some practical guidelines on how to leave a church gracefully. I wrote this because I hear so many stories about people storming out of churches because their feelings got hurt. But an astute reader also pointed out that my guidelines really don't apply when the church or its pastor have become abusive.

"Teresa" wrote that in her city, a popular leader of a megachurch was exposed for engaging in secret immoral behavior that affected countless members of his congregation for many years. "Thousands of people have been abused, broken, manipulated and controlled by [the pastor]," she wrote. "He has literally destroyed hundreds of families over the decades."

So how do you leave a church that is spiritually abusive? What if the pastor or other leaders are guilty of sexual misconduct, unethical or illegal financial activities or controlling behavior? The rules for leaving are different.

1. Get outside advice. Before you plan your exit, make sure you are looking at the situation rationally. Talk to two or three people who are not members of this church or ministry. You might even want to set up a meeting with another pastor from your city. Explain your concerns. They will help you see if you are overreacting, or if you really have a case.

2. Gather the facts. Never base your concerns on rumors or unfounded allegations. Can this improper behavior be documented? Is there a paper trail? Paul said in 1 Timothy 5:19: "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses." If there has been wrongdoing, there will be evidence. (If you find concrete evidence that something illegal is going on, such as extortion or child abuse, you should contact the police.)

3. Confront the issue. This will not be easy if the leader in question uses threats, manipulation or anger to run over people. I normally advise that meetings be in person, but don't meet alone if the leader in question is a manipulator. Take people with you so that you can't be bullied. It's also best to put your concerns in writing and take the letter with you.

4. Make a clean break. If you know that the pastor or other church leaders are guilty of behavior that disqualifies ministers, and there are no signs of repentance, you don't have to stick around. God gave you two feet, and you can use them to walk out. Some people feel guilty for leaving an abusive church, but you must renounce feelings of false guilt or displaced loyalty. God will help you start a new life. Don't let anyone (especially extended family members) manipulate you into staying.

5. Get counseling and prayer from a mature Christian. Spiritual manipulation messes with your mind. People I know who were part of an abusive ministry were made to feel guilty for simply asking questions. They were told that God required them to be blindly loyal, and that if they ever left the ministry something terrible would happen to them. If you were under this type of toxic control, you need someone to pray for you—so you can break free from psychological abuse.

6. Find a healthy church. Never let the devil convince you to give up on church just because the one you attended went off track. You need God's people in your life. Some frustrated saints who have been wounded by unqualified leaders have asked me, "Are there any good churches left?" My answer is always yes! The Great Shepherd always leads us to green pastures where we can be healed and comforted. If you isolate yourself from church, you are wasting your spiritual gifts and ruining your chances of being restored.

7. Help others to heal. In my work with abused women, I've seen that those who suffered the most became powerfully effective in helping others after they experienced healing. This can be true for people who were wounded in an unhealthy church. God does not waste our pain! He can use your testimony to help those who are going through similar situations.

Once you leave, it is possible that other members of your church will contact you—and some of them will be honestly seeking the same freedom you have found. You owe it to them to share the story of your exit. If you stay healthy during the process of leaving, God can use you to pull others to safety. {eoa}

]]> (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 25 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Soaking Provides Many Benefits but Requires Only 1 Thing

Soaking and resting in the Lord is an important part of growing intimate in your walk with Jesus. He wants to spend time with us and fellowship with us.

One of the ways He does this is through us entering into a quiet time with Him. Soaking is putting on some soft Christian music and simply lying or sitting in the Lord's presence.

In order to start soaking with the Lord, you will need to find your quiet place and a place that is free of distractions. I suggest your living room, bedroom or prayer room. Put on some soft worshipful music and find a comfortable position and listen to the music.

As you are starting to soak, you need to learn how to disconnect your mind and the thoughts that are running through it from the day. It will take an average of 15 minutes to disengage your brain when you first start, so don't get discouraged; it is normal, but as you practice, you will be able to enter into His presence and close your mind off to distractions much sooner.

What are some practical tips for trying to disengage from the world and connect with the Father? Here are some tips:

  • Blank out your thoughts.
  • Speak in English: "Praise You, Jesus. Thank You, Lord." Be careful not to pray and give Him your prayer list or your mind will start going.
  • Pray in the Spirit.
  • Listen to instrumental music.
  • Reflect on a vision you had with Jesus.
  • Put yourself in your "happy place," such as the beach or sitting by the fire.

Continue by trying to enter into His presence. Tell Him, "Lord I am here for You, whatever You want." Then be quiet and just listen. Focus on the music if you start to get distracted and your mind starts to wonder. Really press into the drums or piano, or focus on the words, and see if the Lord will speak to you through the words the musicians are singing. If you are not, "feeling" the music, then change the music.

You can soak to different types of music. 

  • Worship music. Soft worshipful music is often from well-known artists and songs you are familiar with. A popular way to start soaking is by listening to worship music, and singing along can help you stay focused and enter into the Lord's presence.
  • Instrumental music. Music without words such as piano or violin can be anointed. Water and nature music might also be a type you would enjoy. Instrumental music can be calming and relaxing. For people who have a lot on their mind, this can be good because they can get caught up in the waves and nature sound and try to relax.
  • Prophetic music. This music will go up and down, will be free flowing and will not always be songs you know. It can be songs played over and over, or songs that talk about the presence of the Lord and being with Him.  There are many great prophetic worship artists who know how to usher in the manifest presence of the Lord. The wonderful thing about prophetic music is that it is always changing. 

Benefits of Soaking

  • Impartation. During soaking, God will drop words of knowledge, direction and discernment into our spirits. I believe He imparts wisdom and Scripture for a particular situation for us in the future or also for ministering to someone in the future. Did you ever think, "Where did that come from?" I believe that in these moments of soaking with God, He does some deep impartations that we use at a later time.
  • Resting. Often as we soak, we will not even know what we receive. You might feel like you are almost in a state of a deep sleep; yet you are conscious. I believe we receive much during these times and sometimes God simply does it because we need to rest, be refreshed and refilled.
  • An act of worship. By stilling ourselves to rest in His presence, we are telling God that He is important enough for us to stop what we are doing and just be with Him. We are giving Him first place and worshipping Him by doing this.

There is no right or wrong way to soak. You can use any of the above suggestions as the Holy Spirit leads. The only thing you need to do is come with a receiving heart, put in some music and sit back or lie down and relax and receive or rest in the Lord. There are times when we feel we aren't hearing from the Lord. It is in those times that we need to soak the most. Soaking is wonderful, and during soaking, you will discover and encounter a level of intimacy with the Lord that you have never known. 

God loves for us to be in His presence, and I pray you will be blessed by your time together. {eoa}

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries. She is a passionate about leading people to a new place in their worship and releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people. You can learn more about soaking in both of her books, A Worship Woven Life and On My Knees Again in Worship. For more information visit

]]> (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Prayer Spirit Wed, 25 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Do You Need an Idol Extraction?

In my teens, I frequently watched baseball games on television and my brother, Kevin, would walk by and spitefully berate me by informing me that "sports is my god."

It happened quite often. I realized that he simply tried to foment a reaction from me, so I would shake it off and not give the chastisement—or him—a second thought.

Kevin is only 15 months older than me. I attributed his chiding simply to his age and his narrowness of mind.

But you want to know something? Looking back on the years between then and recent years before I surrendered my life completely to Christ, I realize Kevin's pillory had unwittingly become correct. Indeed, for me, sports had become an idol.

And by the way, Kevin is preaching God's Word in a small church in Du Quoin, Illinois, these days.

Sports had become my main focus in life, and it's all I really cared about despite my mother's diligent attempts to prompt me to read the Bible, pray and worship God. Instead, I was worshipping the "god" of Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. I had made him and St. Louis Cardinal baseball players like Ozzie Smith, Keith Hernandez and Tommy Herr figurative "graven images."

Rick Warren says the Bible "has a word for whatever we place our trust in rather than God. The Bible calls it an 'idol.'"

We all know what else God's Word says about idols, don't we?

  • "You shall not make for yourself any graven idol, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water below the earth" (Ex. 20:4, MEV).
  • "Those who follow vain idols forsake their true loyalty" (Jonah 2:8, MEV).

Indeed, I had forsaken what should have been my true loyalty, Jesus Christ. For most of my life, I have rabidly rooted for the Cardinals in baseball and for the Crimson Tide in college football. Until recently, they dominated by thoughts and conversation.

And forget about when either wins a championship. That's when money entered the picture and I would give into my flesh and spend hundreds of dollars on championship memorabilia—on credit. What a waste.

I made sports writing my profession, and it ruled my life for many years. Sports first, family second, and then God somewhere else down the list. I don't believe a job in the sports industry is idolatrous (I thoroughly enjoyed the perks for years), but it can be. There has to be a balance.

Ashamedly, sports stayed at the top of my list until God figuratively hit me over the head in the past few months and said to me, "Son, I've waited a long time. Don't do that any more. I don't like being second to something so trivial, and your family deserves better."

In essence, I needed an idol extraction. I wasn't being fair to my wife, my children and, most of all, God.

I prayed for God to help me put sports in its rightful place. Indeed, the Lord led me to a humbling revelation. My prayer life is better, my time in God's Word has improved drastically and my time with my family continues to increase.

And while I do still enjoy watching both the Cardinals and the Tide, they don't consume me, and they don't consume my conversations. Praise God.

It may seem like an innocent attraction, but such idols cheat not only God from His just due, but also your family. It takes away what should rightly be their time with you, simply because you can't tear yourself away from the television. And Internet technology certainly hasn't helped in that regard, either.

There are all sorts of things of which we can make idols. Our sports teams, playing golf, drinking, gambling, television, the Internet, video games, our jobs and, yes, even our families and church (we can chase things at church without chasing God). Anything we put before God is an idol. It is something we either must put away completely or severely scale down.

As our publisher, Dr. Steve Greene will write about on Friday, our society has deemed Black Friday more important than Good Friday. Sorry shoppers, that's an idol. 

In Psalm 31, King David contrasted his devotion to God with the diluted worship offered by many Israelites by saying, "I have hated those who regard useless idols; But I trust in the Lord" (Ps. 31:6, NKJV). Obviously, a person who clings to idols cannot commit his spirit into God's hands. When we put today's idols (wealth, material possessions, success) first in our lives, we cannot expect God's Spirit to guide us. God is our highest authority and requires our first allegiance.

Is there anything in your life that an outsider might consider an idol? The pursuit may even appear harmless or even virtuous, but we must all take an honest inventory of our lives. If something steals an unhealthy amount of time out of our day from God and from our family, pray about it and ask God how He can curtail its importance in our life.

"So, my beloved, flee from idolatry" (1 Cor. 10:14, MEV).

And as I always like to say, "there is that." {eoa}

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 25 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
When God Doesn't Give You What You Want

"Mommy, can I have a cookie?" Timmy asked.

"No," I said, "we're going to eat dinner soon."

"But I want a cookie!"

"Sorry. It's almost time for dinner."

"But I like cookies."

"After dinner."

By this point, Timmy was getting distressed. "But how can I eat a cookie if you won't let me?" he begged.

The answer, of course, was that he couldn't. You can't have any cookies unless Mommy lets you have one.

I can understand his frustration. After all, I don't like it when I don't get what I want, either. Especially if it's sitting right there in front of my face, looking for all the world as though it should be mine.

Just as we sometimes say no to our children, God sometimes says no to us. When He does, what we wanted—what we thought should be ours—suddenly becomes forbidden fruit.

Spiritual discernment is required to discern what God's will is. But if I just keep trying to force the issue without ever considering that maybe I'm striving to obtain something God doesn't want me to have, I won't know what His will is.

At least Timmy asked me for my answer. Too often, I don't ask God for His. I just pursue what I want and expect Him to bless it. Oh, God, forgive me!

You see, Timmy understood what you and I don't always think about: If a parent says no, then it's no.

But what if it's something we really want? What then?

Here's where it comes down to faith. We say in our heads that we believe God knows what's best for us to have. But do we really believe it?

Apparently not, if we keep begging for yes when He's already said no or if we complain about no.

I wonder what difference it would make in your life and in mine if, instead of fighting God for something we don't really want, we would take what God gives that we need.

If we would accept God's gracious provision as just that—gracious—and be content.

"I know both how to face humble circumstances and how to have abundance. Everywhere and in all things I have learned the secret, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Phil. 4:12).

Adapted from Megan Breedlove's blog, Manna for Moms. Megan is the author of Well Done, Good and Faithful Mommy and Manna for Moms: God's Provision for Your Hair-Raising, Miracle-Filled Mothering Adventure (Regal Books.) She is also a stay-at-home mom with five children.

]]> (Megan Breedlove) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
10 Reasons Millennials Are Sick of Church

There are literally thousands of articles online about why the millennial generation is disillusioned with church, church culture and church politics. And while I applaud the attempt to wrap one's head around the issue, I've noticed that most of the articles seem to be written by people who know nothing about the millennial generation. Weird.

I've talked with thousands of young people over the years who have told me, "I'm just sick of church." I've heard everything under the sun when it comes to one's reasoning for leaving, and I believe many of them carry a lot of heavy truth. Here are some of them ...

1. "It's not authentic."

2. "It's too corporate." 

3. "I don't like the political side."

4. "I feel like I can't be open about my struggles."

5. "I hate the cliques."

6. "It's too judgmental." 

7. "Their attempt at being relevant comes off as cheesy."

8. "They don't spend enough time outside of their building."

9. "They aren't really welcoming of people who are different from them." 

10. "They focus too much on what they know instead of whom they are showing love to."

And while I believe not all churches deal with the complaints I mentioned above, it's safe to say there are many who probably do. That's why I'm writing this. This needs to be discussed.

Authenticity Is Key

If churches want to see more millennials walk through their doors, they need to stop trying to entice them with free stuff, and instead allow their spaces to be filled with authentic relationships and transparent conversations. The Acts 2 church was a perfect example of this.

"They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart" (Acts 2:42-46).

Some people say there is a decline in millennial church attendance, while others say they don't see much of a change at all. We must realize that just because millennials aren't showing up to church buildings doesn't mean they aren't part of a thriving community of believers, or are without a biblical relationship with God.

Millennials aren't looking for brighter lights. Millennials aren't looking for more free coffee. They want Jesus-founded authenticity, a safe-place to share burdens, real answers to real questions and a community of action. {eoa}

Jarrid Wilson is a husband to Juli, dad to Finch, pastor, author, blogger, founder of Cause Roast. He's helping people live a better story. For the original article, visit

]]> (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
Promise Keepers Founder James Ryle Enters Gates of Heaven

TruthWorks President James Ryle died Saturday from congestive heart failure.  

"It is with an unbelievably heavy heart that we inform you that our brother, James Ryle, went yesterday to be with His Jesus. As we are saddened here on earth, we know that James is in the place that he dreamed of going," reads a Facebook post.  

According to a biography on his TruthWorks website, Ryle was the founder and president of TruthWorks, as well as one of the founding members of Promise Keepers. 

He was involved public speaking since 1972, serving as pastor of two churches, chaplain for the University of Colorado football team, and ministering as an evangelist, Bible teacher and popular conference speaker throughout the nation and abroad. He is a best-selling author, and a contributor to both the NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible, and the NIV Worship Leader's Bible. 

Many in the Christian community are mourning the loss of Ryle, including prophetic voice James Goll. 

"Another great prophetic champion and Master Communicator has departed way too soon," Goll posted on Instagram. "James had suffered from congestive heart failure in recent years and is survived by his wife, Belinda. James was the clear voice behind the birthing of the Promise Keepers Movement. We will all miss you James. You lived life so well. Heaven is fuller once again. My heart rejoices in salvation thru Jesus and is yet heavy at the same time." 

Many are sharing their sentiments on Ryle's Facebook post.  

"He will be missed, but he leaves an amazing legacy. My husband and Son met him many years ago in Hamilton NZ, he was a very down to earth speaker, my son was encouraged by him... Blessings to His family..." writes one person.  

Another posted: "We treasure every moment we spent with James. Years ago, we connected with James while my husband was helping him with his website. We shared sweet memories yesterday of times spent with him where he absolutely made our kids feel like part of the conversation - he engaged them every time, told the joke with his hand where he raised up that shortened finger like a dog's head (our son thought that was the best!), and kept them entertained the night that the news was filled with stories of a potential war with Iraq (spring of 2002 maybe?) so they wouldn't be scared at all the junk on the tv at the restaurant where we were eating. I could regale you with the stories of what he taught about Jesus, and how he wrote and shared such amazing poetry, did amazing art, etc., but what blessed me more was how we was with people individually. What a treasure! Our loss is Heaven's gain. Farewell, James! See you again soon." 

The post on Ryle's Facebook timeline says memorial service details will be coming soon, but it will be held after Thanksgiving.

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Men Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Ditch the Excuses for a Thinner, Healthier You

We have an excuse for every poor choice we make today: "I had bad parents;" "No one told me the truth;" "It's just the way I am."

The sad fact is we think it will justify our actions. But when it comes to our choices at meal time, we are finding it's more about harboring bad habits than an inherited or environmentally stimulated bad behavior.

True, we can inherit poor eating behaviors from our parents or past eating patterns, but we have so many options today to eat healthy. If we want to change where we are going, it starts with the choices we make today. I know there are conflicting words of advice everywhere you turn, and knowing what to do can be very complicated.

So here are some simple tips to help you make positive health choices.

1. Start eating at the dinner table. Our tendency today is to eat on the run, on the couch or out of a bag. The result is we eat more. Why? Because we are eating whatever is convenient, eating larger amounts, and sometimes we eat directly out of the pots—no portion restrictions—it's a free for all!

If you take the time to sit at the table, you are more conscious of your portions. You can unwind with the family, not race to get done. Go over the events of the day, and if you like, you'll have the opportunity to put on some background music to make it a more relaxing, enjoyable time.

2. Exchange lunch plates for dinner plates. This is one I have used many times. When you use a smaller plate, your eyes see more food—it's true! If our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, why not fool them? I was brought up with the mindset that you eat everything on your plate because someone somewhere is starving. This led me to eat past the full line and the result was more calories than I required. So today I use smaller plates and feel full, not stuffed.

3. Slow down the pace. Do you find yourself eating just to get something in your stomach? More than likely you eat fast because eating has become a function, not an experience. I can hear it now, "Linda, my life is too hectic for me to experience my food!" Granted, we do live fast-paced lives, but it's the fast-paced eating that is driving us to an early grave.

When we choose to take 15-20 minutes to eat a meal, we find ourselves satisfied with less food. Setting your fork down between bites while you savor the flavor of your meal will allow your mind to catch up with your stomach and the full sensation will be recognized earlier. Taking the time to actually chew your food instead of inhaling it will help in the process as well.

I am the worst at eating for function instead of experience. But I have found that over the years, if I actually think about what I'm eating (not in an obsessive way) and relax as I do it, the digestion process is enhanced as well. Nothing causes an upset stomach like gulping down food on the run.

I guess this means we need to make time, not just take time to eat. What a concept! Even if you are one of those who chooses to eat smaller meals six times a day, slow down and enjoy it.

4. Palms up for portion size. If you set everything in place but choose to pile on the food, you miss the boat altogether. Portion size is the key, and the easiest way to know where to begin and end is to look at your own palm. Opened-faced minus the fingers, this is your portion. Whether we are talking meat, veggies, or bread, this concept will keep us in the ballpark of proper portion size.

Once again, make it fun! When your children are filling their plates (the younger you can get them started the better—of course, use common sense here), remind them to look at their palms and see how close they can get to measuring a portion. Keep in mind that as your children are growing, you don't want to limit their diets as you do adults.

You can use the Palms Up Method with your family and encourage them to place color variety on their plates as well—veggies, salads, lean meats, pastas, sweet potatoes, and, yes, macaroni and cheese even has a place at this setting. Look for balance.

5. Out of sight, out of mind. The final step is to remove the temptation of foods that cause you to binge. As the adult, you are in control of what is available in your home for your family to eat. Slowly start to substitute good choices for not-so-healthy ones. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. Replace your white bread with one containing grains. Limit the amount of salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol you have on hand.

Encourage healthy living with your younger set by allowing them to help you purge the pantry. Go through things you eat on a regular basis and check the label. If the first ingredient is sugar, out it goes! This might be too shocking to the "family system," so take it slow; start with one or two items at first. Purge and then replace with something healthy. Let the kids choose the healthy items. If they are part of the process, they will be more likely to embrace the change.

Small steps to a healthier you are easily accomplished if you keep your eye on the source of your strength. I constantly pull on the sleeve of my Savior Jesus Christ for discernment and direction; He is one guest you should always invite to your table. Happy eating! {eoa}

Before beginning any new fitness program that requires a change in diet or exercise, it is recommended that you consult your physician for input. This informational series is not intended for medical or nutritional claims dependent on substantial clinical studies and FDA approval, and should not be construed as a claim for cure, treatment or prevention of any disease.

It is intended solely for information and educational purposes. Linda is not a physician or expert in the medical field. She has been involved in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for numerous years. The information given in these sessions have been derived from books and materials brought together over the years from many sources, including her personal life experiences.

Linda Goldfarb is a certified physical fitness specialist, speaker, and syndicated radio talk show host. You can download her weekly "Not Just Talkin' the Talk" radio broadcasts, a one hour variety talk show based out of San Antonio, Texas, at Linda's show encourages listeners to "walk the walk" spiritually, physically and relationally each and every day.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Linda Goldfarb/For CBN News) Featured Health Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
Are You Between That Infamous Rock and Horrible Hard Place?

"Between a rock and a hard place ..."

"Swimming upstream without a paddle ..."

"I am at rock bottom ..."

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong ..."

"You look like you have just lost your last friend ..."

Can you think of other trite sayings that describe the never-ending pain and day-to-day challenges of life? How many times have you uttered these words or heard these words spoken by someone who was at the end of his or her rope?

There's another piece of trite for you ... I am at the end of my rope. How could we forget that one?

Let me communicate a word of encouragement that may border on the verge of "trite" ... "Life is hard, but God is oh so good!"

Sometimes there is more "true" in "trite" than you can imagine.

Even Jesus was on the brink of pedantic when He reminded us all, "In the world you will have trouble."

But do you remember what Jesus said after those troubling words? I imagine that He had a grin on His face and a twinkle in His eye when He exclaimed to his discouraged band of brothers, "But, cheer up! I have overcome the world!"

Can't you just see Him, raising His fist in the air and nearly jumping for joy?

The words of Jesus ricochet through the ages and have the power to subtract the doom from any situation that a believer may face.

"Cheer up, sister. Cheer up, brother. Jesus has overcome the world!"

You see ... no matter what prophets of doom may declare and no matter how excruciating this world may become, we have a Savior who is more than able to protect, to intervene and to lead. We have a Savior.

We serve a Lord whose name is Jesus and who has experienced a victory so eternally complete that even the demons of hell scream in uninterrupted pain.

The God of angel armies is the God of you and the God of me. He knows the reality of hard places and He knows how to get you beyond those particular places of pain.

He knows.

We serve a God who has never lost a battle yet and He is fighting for you when you are at the end of your rope. Let me just remind you that when you have no paddle, He is your strength and your sure direction.

No matter what is happening in the world of politics, no matter whom terrorists are terrorizing, no matter how flat the economy falls—the Rock of our Salvation is a strong and mighty tower.

So, let's just rearrange trite and have it line up with the Word of God. How do these revolutionized phrases now sound to you?

"I am living between the Rock and the grace place!"

"I am swimming in His stream of worship, and the strength is undeniable!"

"I am resting on the Rock of my salvation!"

"Anything that goes wrong in my life will be miraculously changed to good because I have a good, good Father who is working behind the scenes of my life to work all things together for my good!"

"I have a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. He has promised never to leave me or forsake me."

"Jesus is at the end of my rope. There is no place that I would rather be than at the end of me and at the beginning of Him."

The words of Jesus are not empty nor or they powerless. The explosive nature and power of God are discovered when a believer believes that what Jesus declared is truth indeed!

I believe that God is good!

I believe, like Corrie ten Boom, that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.

I believe that God has been to my future and that it is a good future because He has been there.

This believer should always believe that there is no such thing as "living between that infamous rock and that horrible hard place." 

This believer defiantly believes that there is only strength, joy and peace to be discovered in all of life's situations.

What pieces of "trite" have deceived you? Come back to a place of truth and find your encouragement in the words and truth of Jesus. {eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More OrdinaryHoly Estrogen!The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released on Aug. 1. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.

]]> (Carol McLeod) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
Where Are People Leaving the Church Going?

John White has been a friend for many years. We first met in 2001 when he came to our home to hear Wolfgang Simson speak, near the beginning of the simple/organic/house church movement in this country. John now runs a community for followers of Jesus around the world who explore rhythms of life that result in vibrant churches meeting outside the walls of the building ( John is not normally an emotional guy, but he broke down in tears at "The Future of the Church Summit." In this blogpost from the Lk10 site, he explains why:

Future of the Church Summit

I just returned from Loveland, CO where I attended a Conference sponsored by Group Publishing with about 130 church leaders on "The Future of the Church". On the last day, I was part of a panel and was asked to share a bit about LK10. Click on my picture below to hear what happened when I started to talk...

(By the way, make sure you see more information about Josh Packard's research below my video.)

For a long time, a great many people have had this "splinter in their mind" regarding church but they couldn't explain it. And, now Josh has pulled the cover back and exposed what is really going on.

Two ways to hear more of what Josh has uncovered...

  • 8 minute video describing the "Dones" ("They are not "casual Christians" or occasional attendees. Most were in some leadership position in their church."
  • 90 minute video. In depth interview with Josh Packard about the "Dones". ("Most of these people are not coming back.")

Back to the Future

While the Dones are not going back to the institutional church no matter how much it is "tweaked", most of them have not abandoned God. In fact, some say that they have left "the church" to preserve their faith. And, the kind of church they are interested in looks surprisingly like the church portrayed in the book of Acts. Here are some of the characteristics of that church ...

  1. All the churches in the Bible met in a home and functioned like a small spiritual family. The current institutional church, by contrast, spends a great deal of energy and money getting and maintaining a church building.
  2. The churches in the Bible were simple. We describe "simple church" as a way of being/doing church where any believer could say, "I could do that!". ("they were astonished that Peter and John were unschooled, ordinary men" (Acts 4:13).) The institutional church, by contrast, requires highly educated, highly school (seminary, etc.) highly creative people to be successful. (Think Rick Warren, for instance.)
  3. In the New Testament (NT) churches, everyone used their gifts. In institutional church, only a few, highly gifted people (worship leaders, preachers, etc.) use their gifts.
  4. In NT church, Jesus brought the agenda for the meetings. In institutional churches, a few, very smart people design the worship experiences.
  5. In the NT, churches were started in a few hours or a few days. Institutional churches require a great deal of planning and resources and take months or years to start.

Next step?

Want to learn more about doing/being church outside the institutional church? Check out a free four week course called Church 101.

Adapted from Felicity Dale's blog, Kingdom Women. Felicity Dale is an author and an advocate for women in the church. She trains people to start simple, organic house churches around the world.

]]> (Felicity Dale) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
5 Ways to Mine Gold From Pain and Sorrow

There are some passages in the Holy Scripture that cause one to pause and take a deep breath.

Such as when you read about the apostles Peter and John having been arrested and beaten; "Then they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41).

The apostle Paul wrote similarly to the believers in Rome, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us" (Rom. 8:18).

He wrote these astonishing words to the Christians in Philippi, saying his desire was "to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if somehow I might make it to the resurrection of the dead" (Phil. 3:10-11).

Even more astonishing are the words he wrote to the church in Corinth. "So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).

Now, either the apostles were losing it or they knew something you and I need to know about pain and suffering.

I believe the Word of God makes it clear, these men had learned through their walk with the Lord how to mine gold out of their experiences with pain.

God does not want you to waste your pain.

Being born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, memorizing Scripture, praying every day and being in church every Sunday do not guarantee a life free from pain.

Quite the contrary, "Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12).

We live in a fallen world where sinful men and women do sinful things. They drink and drive, causing auto accidents with injuries and even death. They molest children; rape men and women; commit adultery; and destroy families by divorce. They break into homes to steal and murder.

In this fallen sinful world, there are colds and flues; cancer and diabetes; riots and wars; famine and earthquakes; business failures and financial collapses.

These things happen to the child of God as well as to the ungodly.

What God does promise?

He said most assuredly, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ... What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:28, 31-32, 35, 37).

How can you mine gold from your pain and sorrow?

1. Renounce the lies "I can't handle this. No one knows the amount of pain I have." God's Word assures you, "No temptation has taken you except what is common to man" (1 Cor. 10:13). What you have experienced is common to the human race. Others have gone through it victoriously. You can too.

2. Affirm in your heart God's love and faithfulness. "God is faithful, and He will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure" (1 Cor. 10:13). He has your best at His heart. God will not allow the pain and suffering to be more than you can handle.

3. Silence the question, "Why." That is the wrong question. It is the question the enemy uses to stymie spiritual growth and to keep people from God and His love. We live in a fallen world where evil exists and bad things happen to good people. That is a sufficient answer. Now ask, "What are you doing God and what do you want me doing?" That is the correct question.

4. Choose joy. Refuse to allow pain to determine your day. You have a powerful will. You have Holy Spirit living within you. Choose to live by love, joy and peace not pain and suffering. They will smother your day and fill it with darkness and despair. Joy can saturate your heart and fill your day with praise and rejoicing in God's love and goodness. Focus on thankfulness for all the people who love and care about you. You make the choice in your own mind and heart to live in joy regardless of the pain.

5. Embrace grace. God "will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13). The way provided is grace. "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). God promised. "So that just as sin reigned in death, grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," the apostle wrote in Romans 5:21. When pain and suffering swallow the heart, God's grace comes flooding to swallow the pain. Embrace grace. Let judgment and accusation go. Embrace grace. Release bitterness and a critical spirit. Grace will give you the strength to do God's will in the severe pain. Grace will enable you to love your enemies; bless those who curse you; do good to those who hurt you. They don't deserve it. They could never make right what they have done to you. But that is what grace is all about. Grace will fill your heart with His joy and thankfulness then praise will flow from your lips in situations that are most painful.

That is the gold mine only to be found by those who choose not to waste their pain!

Dr. F. Dean Hackett has served in full-time Christian ministry since October 1971. He has ministered throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, serving as pastor, conference speaker and mentor. He has planted four churches, assisted in planting 15 others, and currently serves as lead pastor of Living Faith Church in Hermiston, Oregon. Dr. Hackett founded Spirit Life Ministries International in 2001 to facilitate ministries in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina and to open a training center for workers in those nations. You can find him at F. Dean Hackett - Foundational, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

]]> (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
Biblical Boundaries Exist When Working With Angels

While ministering at the Greater Chicago Church in the Oak Park area, a whole new world opened to me.

Pastors Ian and Rachel Carroll had asked me to do a seminar on prayer. As I shared about God's desire to pour out His Spirit on Chicago, the room's atmosphere changed. A band of angels came in and their presence stopped everything else from happening. They were all shapes and sizes, very eager and lively. I waited for them to settle down, but they never did.

Angels carry the glory of God, and the glory began to fall in the room. The glory caused an eruption of uncontrolled laughter by the attendees and myself. I call this kind of laughter "inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Pet. 1:8).

After the service ended, I asked Ian about this activity, and he said it was a regular occurrence with guest speakers. He explained to me, "These angels are on assignment for Chicago." He further clarified that the angels would show up at these meetings activating around certain phrases related to their mission. What stirred them, he said, would be phrases such as "revival" or "outpouring" or "Chicago."

The following morning, I woke up and angels were all around me. They were just as excited as the night before, but I discerned we were not on the same page (1 Cor. 12:10). I knew from the Lord I was there to put the sustaining word into this church. Greater Chicago Church needed my story and principles to aid them through future obstacles. I asked for the angels' help to accomplish what the Lord wanted to do there.

Their presence was definitely there as I spoke that day and the next, and we were now in sync. They would get active during the right times, even provide miraculous signs, but allowed me to retain the lead. For example, as I prayed for the group to receive an anointing to see into the spirit realm (2 Kin. 6:17), one woman received even more than that! She was healed instantly of nearsightedness and no longer needed her glasses. This miracle raised the faith level of the room to receive the anointing for spiritual sight.

Some might not understand us working with and even giving some requests or direction to angels, and might call that quenching the Spirit, but it's really connected to our priestly and kingly roles on earth (Rev. 5:10). Angels are not on their own charge. They are assigned to serve humans and not the other way around (Heb. 1:14). Angels remain mighty and powerful by nature, but we are still earth's leaders (Ps. 115:16).

I've heard and read much counsel from Christian leaders to not worship angels. This of course is good counsel. The instruction to not worship angels, however, is often misheard as "don't work with angels" and "don't talk to them." Angels are not off limits to us, and we can work with them within biblical boundaries.

You can ask the Father to send His angels. Judas had just betrayed Jesus. As the officers came to arrest Him, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant. Jesus healed the man's ear and then rebuked Peter. He said, "Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will at once give Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). This is one of those passages that is not direct instruction, but provides insight into things we can ask our heavenly Father.

Jesus could ask for armies of angels to assist Him if needed. If He could ask for angels, then we can too. We can ask the Father to send them on assignment for things we know they already do: to protect, to fight, to guide, to provide and so on. Regardless, Jesus did not ask for the angels that day because it was not the will of His Father to be saved from the Cross. Asking the Father for angels then needs to be aligned to the Word of God and the will of God. 

Angels will carry out their assignments, but the details can be negotiated.

During his residency in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot had received two angels into his home (Gen. 19). The angels had come on assignment from God to rescue Lot and his family before He destroyed the city for its abominable wickedness. The angels gave Lot specific instructions, "Escape for your lives! Do not look behind you or stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountain, lest you be destroyed" (Gen. 19:17).

Lot had a different idea, however. "Your servant has found grace in your eyes, and you have shown your mercy, which you have shown to me by saving my life. However, I cannot escape to the mountain. Otherwise some evil will overtake me, and I will die. Look, this city is close enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Please, let me escape there (is it not a little one?), and my life will be saved" (Gen. 19:19-20). Lot understood that staying in Sodom and Gomorrah was not an option. He did perceive that his destination was negotiable, and the angels accepted Lot's change of plans.

You have the authority to "loose the angels." Jesus gave us the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, keys meaning authority. He said, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). Many of us understand this to mean we are to "bind" the devil and his demons. To bind something means to "tie it up" and we accomplish that by making a specific command with our words (Mark 11:23-24).

At the same time, Jesus also gave us the power to "loose" something. What then do we have the power to loose? We have the power to loose angels. We loose the angels the same way we bind demons—by using our words.

We are charged with making known the will of God in the presence of the angels (Eph. 3:10). Angels also listen for and obey the word of the Lord (Ps. 103:20). The Word of the Lord comes from Jesus Himself in heaven, or through His church on earth in the form of a prophetic word. Our prophetic words are heard and observed by angels and will put them on assignment. We see this in the life of King David. He makes a command not only to all of creation, but also to the angels to "Praise the Lord" (Ps. 148:1-2). Jacob wrestled with the angel all night and refused to let the angel go. Jacob made his command, "I will not let you go until you bless me" (Gen. 32:26).

During my first pregnancy, I became very ill in the middle of the night and couldn't hold anything down. An angel appeared and I said, "Lay your hand on my stomach, and I will be healed." The angel did exactly that and I was instantly well. Just as there are demons that afflict us with sickness (Luke 13:10-17), there will also be angels that act as healing agents to us. At the end of the day, however, all healing comes from God, and we are to credit Him for it.

Angels will not depart from the Word of God. When working with angels, understand that they strictly uphold the Word of God. To not do so would be rebellion with severe punishment (Jude 6). For example, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah the priest with a message from God. He told him he would have a son and to name him John. Zechariah did not believe the angel, and when he voiced his unbelief, Gabriel issued a temporary penalty. Zechariah could not physically speak until the birth of his son John, just as the angel foretold (Luke 1).

Jesus exhorts us and solemnly warns us in regards to the angels. "I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him will the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8-9). He's saying that if we deny Him, if we deny His Word (which is the same as denying Him), the angels will not work with us.

Working with angels within biblical parameters is not the same as worshipping angels or praying to angels. They are here to help. We can now be more intentional with angels knowing we will not deny God His glory when we do.

Jennifer Eivaz is a vibrant minister and international conference speaker who carries the wisdom and fire of the Holy Spirit. She serves as an executive pastor with Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, and is focused on raising up a passionate and effective prayer community that is tempered with love and hears the voice of God accurately. Jennifer loves the presence of God and is a prophetic voice to her church and to others. She has written a book called The Intercessor's Handbook. You can reach her at or on her website at Blog: 

For the original article, visit

]]> (Jennifer Eivaz) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 24 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0500
When a Wounded Prophet Has a Platform

Having a platform and influence to speak into the body of Christ is a huge responsibility and should never be taken lightly. Leaders have been trusted to teach the Word of God from the Father's heart to His bride.

As a result, growth, transformation and salvation should come to those who hear the pure teaching of the Word of God. 

But what happens when a leader in the body of Christ has a platform and is wounded? How do leaders who are supposed to be healed in their heart, mind and soul even get to have a platform to speak into the body of Christ with such influence? This is a question I have pondered for some time and hope to give some answers in this article. 

First of all, not every leader has been given a platform by God. Saul was a wounded individual and as a result had a very difficult time walking in obedience to the Father. Because of this, God removed the anointing off of Saul. However, Saul still remained king and had positional influence. Saul's life is an example to us that God can fire you from your job but still let you work. I believe this is because God uses other people's pain and wounds to help shape us. This is exactly what He did with David. 

This isn't an excuse to write off leaders' wounds or just excuse them. I think it is very important to hold accountable those who speak to the bride of Christ as a mouthpiece, and if they are projecting their wounded hearts and tainting the Word, they should be corrected in love. That statement isn't a license to slander, as we see David never did against Saul, but I believe it is important to speak one on one about the issues to the wounded leader.

In my experience, the most common wound in leaders is an orphan heart. An orphan heart is very insecure and is easily rejected. It also manifests in control, intimidation and bullying tactics to get people to listen to them. In essence, an orphan-hearted leader is an insecure leader who feeds off of codependent people. Christians who are whole in their heart usually see this type of leadership and can easily avoid falling into the trap of following them. People who are codependent because of their own wounds usually can't and get stuck under the trap of this type of unhealthy leadership. 

Here are some signs of a wounded leader:

1. Craves the praise of man. A wounded leader constantly needs the praise of man to feel validated. They show this by always talking about how much their ministry is accomplishing not to bring glory to God but to draw attention to themselves.

2. Uses fear tactics to manipulate his or her followers. A wounded leader will usually use certain fear tactics on people to manipulate loyalty. They fear people leaving them so as a result will say things like "your stepping out of God's will by leaving" or "God's hand can't bless you now that you're leaving." It is normally very easy to join this type of ministry but very difficult to leave. 

3. Refuses to receive correction. A wounded leader usually demands submission to their leadership but refuses to yield to anyone else's counsel. They make excuses such as "Other leaders can't be trusted" or "My call is too big to submit to someone else." This is major deception and all rooted in pride. Their wound blinds them to be able to receive from other legitimate leadership.

4. Slanders other ministries. A wounded leader fears someone else's ministry being successful or what appears to be more successful than theirs. They don't have a kingdom approach that we are all on the same team and will slander other ministers and ministries to get their people to only trust them. Again this all goes back to insecurity feeding off of codependency in others.

A healthy and whole leader will always uplift and point people toward Jesus and not themselves. They will use their platform as a tool given to them by God so that they can draw in the lost and Jesus can get the glory. They will empower other believers to dream and run toward God's plan and destiny for them instead of seeing people as pawns to use for their own gain.

Healthy leaders also bless other ministries and try to work with them and not against them. They don't isolate themselves but instead see other ministries and ministers as a blessing and not a threat. My prayer is "God, give the body of Christ healthy, mature and seasoned leaders with your heart!" 

Pastor Chris Mathis is the lead pastor of the Summit Church in Crestview, Florida, and oversees several churches, ministries and serves on the leadership team of New Breed Revival Network. Chris travels extensively around the world teaching, training and equipping the church in conferences, revivals and church services and is the author of Thy Kingdom Come. He is married to Nikki Mathis, an internationally respected worship leader.
]]> (Chris Mathis ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Rick Joyner: 3 Prophetic Questions We Should Ask About Paris

Sometimes after a tragedy, you need time to settle and analyze before issuing a response. 

That's exactly what prophetic voice Rick Joyner did before addressing the Islamic State's attacks on Paris.  

"The attacks were terrible and ruthless," Joyner says. "It is truly a remarkable thing that the incredible mayhem and devastation and worldwide impact eight people could have." 

Now, as the world's in chaos and international leaders disagree on how to fight terrorism, Joyner says there are three key questions we need to be asking: 

1. What is happening?

2. What is NOT happening?

3. What can we do about it?

Click here to watch the video to see his answers.

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
What Does the Bible Say About Refugees?

A lot of people are arguing about what to do with Syrian refugees. Many people are afraid of terrorism. Others are horrified by the lack of compassion that fear seems to cause. Many want our government to be open to immigrants. Many want it to be closed. Some people want our nation to reflect Christian values. Others do not. And these lines are not drawn in consistent ways.

One focus I haven't seen much in recent Christian articles is what the Bible actually says about a believer's response to refugees and immigrants. I've seen memes on the Good Samaritan and sarcastic references to Mary and Joseph as rejected travelers. I've seen impassioned pleas by Christians for compassion and others warning against it. But does the Bible actually give us restrictive requirements for a Christian's response to refugees?

Consider first Old Testament Law.

"For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NAS).
"When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:33-34, ESV).

God commanded His children to show hospitality to and solidarity with refugees and immigrants – basically anyone who wasn't native to their lands – because they too had been strangers in Egypt and should understand the particular struggle that comes from being displaced from one's homeland.

But these instructions are from the Old Testament Law, and New Testament believers are no longer under the Law. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul are clear that Jesus fulfilled the Law, and we are no longer restrained by its instructions or the punishments it demands for those who break it. Yet, Christians still don't believe in murder or lying, adultery or gossip. We still set aside a day to worship the Lord, and we still give a portion of our money to support our churches. Why do such Old Testament ideas linger in New Testament practice? Because these instructions from the Old extend into the New. Even as Jesus says He fulfilled both the righteous instructions in the Law and the punishment for those who break it, He continued to teach what righteousness in the New Covenant looks like, and it sometimes looks very similar to righteousness in the Old.

When Jesus says He fulfilled the Old Testament Law, does He give us any indication of how He wants us to think particularly about aliens/immigrants after His death and resurrection? Does Jesus teach only that we are no longer bound by the Old Testament instructions on aliens/immigrants? Or does He teach that the underlying principle is still binding?

Jesus actually solves this for us quite clearly in the gospels.

"'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me'" (Matthew 25:35-40, NASB).

Jesus seems to intensify the implications for care of strangers. He lifts up the act to something done more than just FOR Him. It's now something done directly TO Him. He gives a sobering assessment of those who forsake this practice as well:

"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me'" (Matt. 25:41-45).

The author of Hebrews reinforces Jesus' teaching.

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2, NIV).  

In conclusion, we could argue for compassion toward refugees based on the Greatest Commandment or as an extension of Christian pro-life values. We could argue for treating a refugee the way we would want to be treated using the Golden Rule or make a case for the political value of welcoming refugees as the very undoing of ISIS' best strategy. But the fact of the matter is that we shouldn't need to make any such arguments as Christians because we are constrained by something much simpler, the Bible itself. God not only says to care for refugees, He says that when we do it, it is the same as caring directly for Him. That is profound!

The Bible instructs as clearly on treatment of refugees as it does on the murder of babies in the womb. It speaks as clearly about welcoming refugees as it does about fornication, lying, or drunkenness. God's children obey Him when they care for the displaced, and they disobey Him when they don't. Thankfully, Christ paid the penalty for the sin of turning away from the refugee and has broken the chains of sin and fear that cause us to ignore these Scriptures. We have now, in Christ, the freedom to obey.

As in my previous post, I want to encourage those who are currently discouraged by the state of the vocal church on this issue. Again, we have Good News in Jesus. God is sanctifying His bride, and He is growing her in righteousness. Jesus is not just drawing people to faith in Him, He is also changing them. He's sanctifying His church by His grace, and He's making her more like Him day by day – including the church's reception of refugees. As I observe beyond the vocal minority, way more Christians want to minister to refugees than not, globally and locally. In fact, hundreds of thousands of refugees daily receive help from Christians and Christian organizations.

In the end, Jesus will present His bride glorious, clothed with the righteous works of the saints. And I believe that among those works adorning her bridal gown will be thousands upon thousands of cups of cold water given to the downtrodden refugee in the name of Christ.

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed" (Proverbs 19:17).

* A friend noted after I posted this that some Christians want to limit these instructions on care of refugees to those who share Christian beliefs. However, Jesus also gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan, which makes clear that both race and religion are not prerequisites for obeying such commands. In fact, the Good Samaritan appears to have no knowledge whatsoever about the character of the person he helped. Again, Scripture is straightforward about our obligations.

Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, Wendy has authored three books, including The Gospel-Centered Woman. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.

]]> (Wendy Alsup) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
Denzel Washington: 'There's Never Been a Time When God Didn't Direct Me'

As one of today's most lauded actors, Denzel Washington could easily keep his faith quiet, but he refuses to do so.  

As the keynote speaker for a Church of God in Christ event, the pastor's son declared to the room (and now the world by way of the Internet), he will "get up and speak about what God has done" in his life. 

"There's never been a time where God didn't direct, protect, and correct me," Washington passionately attested. "There may have been times where I was less than faithful to Him, but He had faith in me." 

Earlier this year, the actor gave the commencement address to Dillard College and schooled Pentecostals on gratitude. Now, this. 

Watch the video to see the rest of his inspiring speech. 

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Culture Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
If You Want Respectful Kids, Try This One Thing

Eleven-year-old George is disrespectful. When Mom says, "No," George uses sarcasm or a mean remark as he leaves the room. When Dad gives an instruction, George rolls his eyes or makes an offhanded remark.

Mom and Dad try to talk to George and explain why he needs to follow instructions or why Mom said, "No." George responds disrespectfully. Mom and Dad are frustrated because nothing seems to work.

George has a problem. His pattern of expressing his displeasure is inappropriate. He needs correction. But the focus of the correction needs to be on the way he's treating his parents.

Dr. Scott Turansky shared the scenario above in his Christian Parenting Handbook. He went on to give the steps the parents in this situation used for correcting their son's disrespect: No more dialogue about the issue, but instead, move quickly to the process of how the child is handling the conflict. The parents corrected for George's tone of voice, sarcasm, and poor choice of words and required a better response from him before moving forward.

This strategy began to work. Instead of getting mired in the issue—getting homework done, doing chores, etc.—they immediately focus on the real issue: the disrespect the child is using in interactions with his parents.

So what's the one thing to do if you want respectful kids? Focus on how your child treats you—the words they use and their attitude—instead of getting sidetracked onto the specific incident at hand.

For more on this subject from Dr. Scott Turansky, click here.

For the original article, visit

]]> ( Staff ) Featured Men Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
10 Traits of People Who Lose Weight and Keep It Off

Losing weight, for many people, is easier than keeping it off. That's why achieving permanent weight loss and optimum health isn't found in a fad diet, a complicated piece of exercise equipment, or a new drug. 

The key to wellness success is resolving to change your lifestyle permanently—and not just during or after the winter holidays, says fitness expert and celebrity trainer Joel Harper, author of the new book Mind Your Body, which promises to help readers boost weight loss, exercise, and energy.

"You need to tap into the power of your mind," Harper, the personal trainer for Dr. Mehmet Oz and his family, tells Newsmax Health.

For his book, Harper investigated cutting-edge research in the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology to uncover the reasons why some people stay stuck and repeatedly struggle with excess weight. He found that they share mental patterns that set themselves up for failure such as destructive self-talk, negative thinking patterns, and excessive mental static.

Folks who consistently succeed in achieving their goals also share similar mental patterns—but these are positive and constructive. Here are the top 10 traits of people who have been successful in losing weight and getting healthy.

No. 1: They shut out noise. People who are able to focus on the task at hand without distraction are able to work out more efficiently. "I have some clients who try to distract me by telling jokes," Harper says. "Others are thinking about what happened before or what they'll be doing next. You need to stay present in everything you do."

No. 2: They prioritize. "Do you want to lose belly fat? Get into a smaller dress size? What's important to you? You need to ask yourself what you want," Harper says.

No. 3: They are problem solvers. A person who cultivates grit is usually successful.

No. 4: They have clear goals. Create a clear path of what you want to achieve. Write down detailed daily goals.

No 5: They visualize success. Use images to get a crystal-clear picture of exactly what you want. But be realistic, pasting a magazine image of a 6-foot-tall bodybuilder on your refrigerator won't help you if you're 5-foot-5!

No. 6: They are organized. Streamline your life. When you are not overwhelmed, you can make mindful decisions. This is especially important for your food plan.

No. 7: They are disciplined. Have the tenacity to stick to your goals and avoid escape routes. Be intense and fired up for what you want.

No. 8: They are flexible. While discipline is crucial, it's also important to know when to let go. If your friends are going out to dinner when you've planned a workout, be ready to make adjustments. You need to enjoy life.

No. 9: They have faith. Truly believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

No. 10: They celebrate accomplishment. Celebrate each victory—but not with food. "Reward yourself with a massage or spa treatment if you lose a few pounds," Harper says. "Never use food as a reward. Change your mindset to recognize food is fuel for your body, not an indulgence."

For the original article, visit

]]> (Lynn Allison/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500
There Really Is Power in the Name of Jesus

I always believed if I ever came upon in a situation where danger was imminent, I would shout out the name of Jesus to save my life. But when actually confronted with such a situation would I—could I—actually do it?

My question was, "Would I remember to do it?" When confronted with immediate danger, you don't have time to pray. That may sound different coming from a Christian, but it is truth! God's Word tells us to, "Speak to our mountain," (Matt. 21:21) and "Death and life are in the power of the tongue," (Prov. 18:21).

When we study God's Word, it teaches us about the spoken word of God.  It talks about what we, "say." It is the words we speak out that are powerful! The strongest word we can possibly speak out is the name of Jesus. One word. One name—the name of our Lord and Savior.

In Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."

The name of Jesus saves! Not just as our deliverer and redeemer, but as our protector (Ps. 91). As I have loved studying from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), I read that translation and love it for this verse. Proverbs 18:10 in the CJB reads, "The name of Adonai is a strong tower; a righteous person runs to it and is raised high [above danger]." 

The name of Jesus does raise us high above danger when we call out His name! I have read Destined for Dominion, a book on power and authority. It speaks of our power and authority in the name of Jesus.

In the past, I have and I am sure some of you have heard people calling on the name of Jesus as a rapist was about to attack them, as a child was about to get in an accident, as a robber was approaching them and other times where violent attacks, crimes or accidents were attempting to invade their lives. But when confronted with such a situation would you remember or act on the name of Jesus, or would you freeze up and forget what to do?

The name of Jesus heals, sets free, saves, delivers and much more. The name of Jesus can cast out a demon. It can take an evil spirit that has invaded someone's life and by the name of Jesus that spirit has to disembody the person! That is a miracle to be able to cast out a demon of a person. That is the power of Jesus' name. The power of His name creates miracles.

As we were driving in treacherous road conditions on the way to a ministry trip in Nebraska, we found ourselves in unfavorable road conditions. My friend Carolyn (50) and I (46), at the time, had never driven in such perilous conditions. As we were driving on snow and ice with snow continually coming down and poor visibility, all of a sudden a semi-trailer began to jackknife right in front of us. With the road conditions, slamming on brakes was not an option. As we saw this semi turning sideways on the highway and spreading out over all 3 lanes, we did not know if we would be able to stop in time and miss hitting him. We knew we were in trouble and started shouting out the name of Jesus. 

We didn't pray! We didn't have time to pray, "Oh Father please save us, come to your children and so on" I am not saying there is anything wrong with praying. I do pray daily. But in this case, we simply did not have time. We had time to call on the name of Jesus, like a strong tower, to run into his righteousness and save us! Carolyn, decreed out the words, "God protect us."

There was a parked police car on the side of the highway and the semi headed directly for the driver door with the police officer in his car. All of a sudden I called out, "I send angels to that police car right now, in the name of Jesus" and I kept speaking out the name of Jesus into the atmosphere.

As those angels went forth and the name of Jesus was being released into the atmosphere, suddenly we saw something that amazed us. The semi, which was partially jackknifed and directly in front of us, straightened out and missed the police car 2 feet away from it. Carolyn maintained control of the van while each vehicle—ours, the semi and the police car—received no damage. No one even stopped.

The name of Jesus lifted us high above danger! Praise God!

I believe I was able to call out the name of Jesus in that incident because I knew the power of Jesus' name. I had heard stories and testimonies of the power of His name. I had read books on my identity in Christ and, when He died and descended to hell for me and then on the third day ascended into heaven, He transferred His power of attorney to me. That's right. His Word says in Luke 10:19, "Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you."

He has given me power and authority. He has given you power and authority. We have to know the power and authority we have been given in His name. Like a person who awards power of attorney to another person to make decisions and act on his behalf, Jesus Christ has given us power of attorney and power and authority to operate in His name. 

Knowing the name of Jesus, the power and authority it holds and how we are to use it comes from knowing our identity in Christ. We must know our identity in Christ. You must know who you are in Christ, that you are valuable, that you are of the kingdom, that you are from a world that cannot be shaken. In Acts 2:25, it says, "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.'" We must know the name and power of Jesus. 

We must know our authority. There will be times in our life when we will need to call on His name.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries. She is a prophetic deliverance minister who is passionate about releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people, including Spiritual Warfare Declarations and Flesh, Satan or God-Who Are You Hearing From? To learn more about her ministry visit

]]> (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Supernatural Spirit Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:00:00 -0500
Remember These Children During the Holidays

I stared into vacant eyes as I took my seat next to her nervous, guarded frame. She wore a zip-up hoodie, shorts, and flip-flops on this below-20-degrees December day.

Christmas was just around the corner, and while most kids love talking about all of the joys and lights and sweets and gifts that come with this time of year, this ten-year-old didn't.

While most kids had a Christmas tree lighting up their living room, she didn't. She didn't even have the living room.

While most kids had gifts from mom and dad that they were eagerly awaiting, she didn't. She didn't have anyone that she called mom or dad.

While most kids would wake up in their homes, with their families, on Christmas Day, she wouldn't. She was homeless.

The home and the family she used to know, way back whenever, had never been a supply of joy or lights or gifts. Not at Christmas, not ever.

She'd been abused, so severely that her parents' rights to her had been legally severed. The government had pinned her with the title "ward of the state," and she was shuffled to and fro from foster home to foster home, from group facility to group facility.

Now, on a bitterly cold December day, I sat a table with her, bringing with me a heart and a prayer for one little girl, and a bottle of nail polish.

She shyly exposed her nervous habit, showing me nails that had been bitten down past the quick. Each finger was flushed pink with a few sores. But she wanted them painted. Orange. Her favorite color. And so we both got orange nails that day.

I came back the next week with a deck of cards. Then the next with some artsy-crafty things. Then the next with a couple of good children's books. And so it became a bullet point scheduled into my weekly routine.

  • Sunday from 1-2pm: visit Kacie.

She lived in a group home with more than forty other children, all with similar stories. All needing a place to feel safe, to belong.

All needing someone to simply tell them that they matter, and they aren't forgotten; someone who would speak life into their darkness; someone who would bring words of truth into little worlds that had been filled with so many lies.

So I would paint her nails, and tell her how beautiful she was. I would look at the pictures she drew, and gush over her creativity. I would read her stories, and make comments between pages—I enjoy spending time with you ... You're so valuable ...

On Christmas Day, I got permission from her facility to take her out for hot chocolate. I came with gifts in my hands, throwing the tiniest seed into the great chasm of her aching lack, praying it would multiply somehow.

Christmas Day was the last day I ever saw her.

The next week, she was moved. Again. It's what children in foster care do. It's one of the injustices they live under, among oh-so-many more. Permanence is ground these wanderers don't walk.

A taxi had picked her up. And she, a ten-year-old girl with a trash bag filed with a few belongings, rode alone with the driver-stranger to a city several hours away where she was delivered to her new group home.

Like this little girl, multitudes of abused and neglected children move through America's system, with more than 400,000 making their home in foster care this very day, and more than 100,000 of those in need of an adoptive family. Most feel like a lost face, a lost life among the masses. But among those masses, today we single out one child, and we remember.

Kacie is not forgotten. 

She's one among many. And let us remember still more.

Look for that child in your church, in your neighborhood, in your child's school who needs a father.

Look for the group facilities scattered through our cities that house so many of our nation's unseen fatherless. Connect with your region's foster care agency and find these group homes, find ways to serve these children.

We may not be able to embrace the masses. But we can embrace one.

We can't step into the lives of 400,000. But perhaps we can step into the life of one.

And perhaps some of us—and prayerfully, many of us—can bullet point our schedules to give even one hour a week to visit one fatherless child in his distress and show him that he matters, that there is a good Father in Heaven, that his life is not forgotten.

For this is pure and undefiled religion. 

(*Kacie's name and age were changed for her protection.)

Kinsey Thurlow is a minister at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. She is an advocate for the fatherless and her husband, Jon is a worship leader and minister at IHOP-KC.

]]> (Kinsey Thurlow) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
The Underground Revival in the Middle East That Might Take Down Islam

The churning, tempestuous world looks remarkably different than many imagine. This is undoubtedly true if you're an average American. 

In the darkest corners of the Middle East there's a revival beginning that's unprecedented in the history of world missions. I've previously reflected on it here and here, but I wanted to take this amazing story further than before.

I hope that you'll journey with me as I explore unbelievable developments in the expansion of Christianity in the Middle East.

Reliable reports suggest more Muslims have become followers of Jesus over the last two decades than in Islam's combined 1,500-year history. Based on the accounts of several missiologists, it has been surmised that "more Muslims have committed to follow Christ in the last 10 years than in the last 15 centuries of Islam."[1] In spite of great difficulty and turmoil, Christianity is unquestionably expanding throughout Islamic world. God is up to something amazing in a region that many have thought was unreachable.
Rosenberg's Insights Into the Middle-Eastern Revival 

Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical researcher, author and resident of Israel has documented the recent upsurge of Christianity in the Middle-East. Through first-hand reconnaissance, coupled with reports from Arabic nationals, Rosenberg demonstrates that Christianity is rising rapidly in the world of Islam. 

Admittedly some of the following statistics have shifted in the aftermath of the ISIS and other violent demonstrations against Christians. Those who follow Jesus have been slaughtered and have experienced severe persecution in this region. Nevertheless, Joel Rosenberg's observations provide a window into many amazing developments.

Some of the particulars can certainly be debated, but in many of the Mediterranean nations, Christianity is making extraordinary inroads. Though the subsequent conversion figures are impossible to confirm, even in their imprecision, they provide a snapshot of what's transpiring in the Middle East.


A number of reports suggest that increasing numbers of Christ-followers are emerging in the brutal, war-torn nation of Sudan. Here, in the Nile river valley—along the Islamic strongholds of Northern Africa—it is being noted that:

"One million Sudanese have turned to Christ since the year 2000—not in spite of persecution, war and genocide, but because of them ... the estimated total number of believers in the country is more than 5.5 million."[2]

Many are convinced that the great brutalities that this nation has encountered are becoming a catalyst for the expansion and growth of Christianity. Rather than inhibiting the church, the war is actually propelling it.


Pakistan is typically not identified as a nation experiencing a move of God, but apparently they're beginning to see one spark within their contentious borders. Christianity's Middle-Eastern expansion is particularly evident in this unexpected place. Rosenberg acknowledges that:

"Senior Pakistani Christian leaders tell me there is a 'conversion explosion' going on in their country.There are now an estimated 2.5 million to 3 million born-again Pakistani believers worshiping Jesus Christ. Whole towns and villages along the Afghan-Pakistani border are ... converting to Christianity."[3]

This Islamic country is not alone, many others in this region are having similar things take place.


Reliable reports suggest that there is also a great revival erupting in the land of Egypt. Rosenberg declares that, "Ministry leaders in Egypt estimate there are more than 2.5 million followers of Jesus Christ in their country. Many of these are Muslim converts."[4]

Undoubtedly, the severe persecutions and disruptions related to the "Arab Spring" have affected the lives of Christians throughout this nation, but the faithful have remained strong. Martyrdom invites outsiders to examine the claims of those willing to die for Jesus. It is believed that many amazing things are taking place in Egypt.


Surprisingly, the contentious nation of Iran is also beginning to encounter the rising flames of awakening. Violent Islamic Fundamentalism has not been able to impede the advancement of the gospel in this fierce Persian nation. Reflecting on this reality, Rosenberg writes,

"At the time of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were only about five hundred known Muslim converts to Jesus inside the country. By 2000, a survey of Christian demographic trends reported that there were two hundred twenty thousand Christians inside Iran, of which between four and twenty thousand were Muslim converts. And according to Iranian Christian leaders I interviewed, the number of Christ-followers inside their country shot dramatically higher between 2000 and 2008."[5] 

Yes, you read that right. Christianity went from 500 people to 220,000 in 21 years. Contrary to what many Americans think, Christianity is quietly advancing behind the scenes in some of the most unlikely places around the globe.

Saudi Arabia

Reports continue to come in. A strikingly similar stirring is also taking place in Saudi Arabia—unquestionably the epicenter of world Islam. One wouldn't expect the growth of Christianity in Mecca, but it is happening. Summarizing some of what he has heard, Joel Rosenberg reports that "Arab Christian leaders estimated there were more than one hundred thousand Saudi Muslim background believers in 2005, and they believe the numbers are even higher today."[6] Saudi Arabia is being quickened by the Spirit of the Lord. It seems to be positioned to experience significant growth in the decades to come.


Christianity is also quietly advancing in the turbulent nation of Iraq. Again, it needs to be noted that these numbers precede the vicious emergence of ISIS and the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Multitudes of Christians have been martyred since these figures were originally reported. Yet, even the fact that Muslims felt compelled to quell its advancement suggests that Christianity's influence has been growing.

"Before 2003, senior Iraqi Christian leaders tell me, there were only about four to six hundred known born-again followers of Jesus Christ in the entire country, despite an estimated seven hundred fifty thousand nominal Christians in historic Iraqi churches. By the end of 2008, Iraqi Christian leaders estimated that there were more than seventy thousand born-again Iraqi believers."[7]

As many are aware, the expansion of Christianity has been greatly hindered more recently in Iraq. Don't be mistaken, this martyrdom and brutality will ultimately give way to more Christians in the land once known as Babylon.


The whole Islamic world is currently shaking. We have already discussed some of the amazing advancements that are taking place in several of Arabic nations. These are where the greatest signs of revival are evident. Nevertheless, on a lesser level, other Islamic nations are also experiencing a tremendous stirring within their borders. One of these is Algeria. Rosenberg recounts the recent upsurge in Algeria, noting that: 

"More than eighty thousand Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years. ... The surge of Christianity has become so alarming to Islamic clerics that in March of 2006, Algerian officials passed a law banning Muslims from becoming Christians or even learning about Christianity, and forbidding Christians from meeting together without a license from the government."[8]

Algeria is beginning to come alive with the gospel like much of Northern Africa.


Another ancient Middle-Eastern locale where Christianity is beginning to take root is along the borders the eastern bank of the Jordan River. The Islamic land of Jordan is also experiencing the grace and wonder of Jesus. Reflecting on what is transpiring in this nation, Rosenberg noted the following:

"God has been reviving the Jordanian Church in the last four decades, and particularly in the past few years. Conservative estimates say the number of believers in the country is now between five and ten thousand. The head of one major Jordanian ministry, however, believes there may be as many as fifty thousand believers in the country."[9]

Jordan is also experiencing the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Other Islamic Nations

Almost every Islamic nation has been experiencing a significant upsurge of Christianity over the last 20 years. Though the numbers aren't equally high, all are experiencing the impact on some level. Here are some of the other reports. 

While in the nation of Morocco it has been claimed that "between 20,000 and 40,000 Muslims have become Christ-followers."[10] Rosenberg suggests that, "The number of Afghan believers is now between 20,000 and 30,000."[11] In Kazakhstan "there are more than fifteen thousand Kazakh Christians, and more than one hundred thousand Christians of all ethnicities."[12] Reflecting on Lebanon, Rosenberg suggests that, "there are about ten thousand truly born-again followers of Jesus Christ today."[13] Reports suggest there were no Muslim background Christians in Syria fifty years ago, but today "there are between four and five thousand born-again believers in the country."[14]

Rosenberg's figures suggest that there are over 13 million Christians in Islamic countries, and a majority of them are from a Muslim background.

Other Observers 

We find that Joel Rosenberg isn't the only one observing the changing conditions within the broader Islamic world. There are other evidences of a notable transformation taking place. For example, journalist George Thomas notes that:

"A Christian revival is touching the northernmost reaches of Africa. In a region once hostile to the gospel, now tens of thousands of Muslims are following Jesus. As the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea, Muslims across Northern Africa are converting to faith in Jesus Christ in record numbers. ... What experts say is that there is a profound move of God in the predominantly Muslim nations of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia."[15]

Tino Qahoush, a researcher and filmmaker, has been traveling to various parts of this region to document the Christian revival that has been taking place. Reflecting on what he observed, he noted the following, 

"What God is doing in North Africa, all the way from actually Mauritanian to Libya is unprecedented in the history of missions. I have the privilege of recording testimonies and listening to firsthand stories of men and women, of all ages."[16]

Jayson Casper, a journalist with Christianity Today, also pointed out some astounding growth that's taking place in the Arabian Peninsula. He writes:

"Today the Pew Research Center numbers Christians in the Arabian Peninsula at 2.3 million—more Christians than nearly 100 countries can claim. The Gulf Christian Fellowship, an umbrella group, estimates 3.5 million. ... United Arab Emirates Christian population ... [is] 13 percent, according to Pew. Among other Gulf states, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar each about 14 percent Christian, while Oman is about 6 percent. Even Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest cities (Mecca and Medina), is 4 percent Christian."[17]

One of the best examples of the expansion of Christianity within Muslim lands is through the work of Heidi and Roland Baker. Along with their church plants and trained workers from Iris Ministries, the Bakers have made an extraordinary impact on the brutal nation of Mozambique. The province that they currently operate in was entirely Muslim before their arrival, but a little over 10 years later those figures have changed drastically. Kelly Head from Christ for the Nations writes,

"The Bakers are now based full-time in Pemba, Mozambique, in an area where Heidi says was once called a 'graveyard to missionaries.' But recently the government announced publicly that it's no longer a Muslim providence; now it's a Christian providence."[18]

The abrupt changes to the once Muslim Africa are something even the Islamic clerics are beginning to acknowledge. In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, the president of The Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law in Libya, appeared on a live interview on Al-Jazeera satellite television. He declared the following:

"Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa's main religion, and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people. When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century. ... As to how that happened, well, there are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed."[19]

It is obvious from these and other reports that Christianity is advancing. Yet, the question is: "Why?" Interestingly, it may have a lot to do with something many in the West would discount. 

Why Is Christianity Finally Growing in the Middle East?

Throughout the Mediterranean world there's a high regard for dreams. They comprehend them the same way that individuals during the early biblical period did. Islam in particular, places a great value on nocturnal visions. Ever since Muhammad retreated to a cave in A.D. 610 and began to experience what he considered to be revelatory visions, Muslims have greatly valued impressions they may receive while they're asleep. Timothy Morgan notes that dreams are a "part of the reality of their world. Mohammad listened to dreams, and he gave Muslims the impression that God could speak through them. So they do listen to them, and they do talk about them."[20]

Tom Doyle, an evangelist, pastor and the E3 Partners Ministry Director for the Middle East and Central Asia noted the following: 

"Outside of the Scriptures, Egyptian history records a significant amount of information about dreams and visions, many of which became determining factors in the overall direction of the nation. One archaeological find close to the Pyramids revealed that ancient Egyptian scribe named Kenhirkhopeshef kept a papyrus document called the Dream Book. The book is a catalog of 108 dreams and the activities and emotions that accompanied them."[21]

Interestingly, over the last two decades there have been numerous claims of Muslims having dreams about Jesus and ultimately coming to faith. Url Scaramanga, writing in conservative evangelical journal, acknowledges that "stories of Muslims coming to faith in Christ because of a vision or dream are not uncommon."[22]

It is easy to dismiss this, but I think Christians should remain open to all of the various ways that God operates. It may seem inexplicable to us, but it seems that dreams are a primary way that Middle-Eastern people are open to encountering God. Reflecting on the significance of these nocturnal visions, Nabeel Qureshi writes:

"I think the reason why dreams are an important component of people leaving Islam and accepting Christ is that most Muslims believe that God reveals himself and his will to them in dreams. In fact, it seems to be the only way that they believe God will reveal his will to them. So they have faith that God will direct them, so God uses their faith for his purposes."[23]

With all the questions and concerns about this approach, there's interest in determining to what extent dreams are driving evangelism among Muslims. Georges Houssney prepared a questionnaire and, over a period of three years, asked 100 Christian converts from Islam how they came to faith. When asked, "What was the major factor in drawing you to Christ?" 25 percent of Houssney's respondents acknowledged that dreams and visions were the primary catalyst that brought them to salvation. Furthermore, 60 percent of the respondents acknowledged that they had experienced a relevant dream or vision or both prior to their conversion.[24]

The reality of these transforming dreams are being widely acknowledged, even though they are a bit unsettling for those in the conservative evangelical community. Reflecting on his own experience, Tom Doyle says: 

"I'm not a skeptic by nature. I'm actually known as a being fairly trusting. But when I began hearing about Muslims having dreams and visions of Jesus, I must say I was quite the doubting Thomas. I think it's because I have watched a few Christian television programs. ... About a decade ago, those of us who work in Muslim outreach started to hear about something new in the world of Islam. God was opening the closed hearts of Muslims by giving them spectacular dreams and visions. At first, the stories were rare, but today these amazing accounts of God breaking through to Muslims have become a common occurrence. We find that about one out of every three Muslim-background believers has had a dream or vision prior to their salvation experience. Some more precise surveys are a bit more conservative and suggest a little over 25 percent of Muslims had a dream or a vision before becoming disciples of Jesus. Either way, the percentage is significant." [25]

Though they may be misunderstood and largely outside the norm in the West, dreams are certainly changing things throughout the Arab world.

Testimonies of Former Muslims

Many Middle-Eastern Christians publicly acknowledge the fact that dreams actively facilitated them coming into a saving knowledge of Jesus. For example, Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim. He became a believer in part through a visionary experience. When recounting his conversion he writes:

"When I contrasted the evidence for Christianity against the evidence for Islam I knew that intellectually there was no comparison. So I asked God to reveal Himself to me in truth, through dreams and visions. All those things, combined with actually reading the Bible, are what drove me forward to the point of accepting Christ."[26]

When asked about his conversion to Christianity from Islam, Pastor Naeem Fazal of Mosaic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, mentioned several things that impacted him. He pointed out things like friendship with a knowledgeable Christian as well as reading the Bible. However, it was a particular supernatural encounter that brought him into a moment of crisis. Having a visionary experience one night, Fazal had an encounter that forever shifted the course of his life.

"It looked like a figure made up with light—solid, yet transparent. It was an experience like no other. The peace I felt from this presence was so powerful, so aggressive ... and [He] introduced Himself to me and said, 'I'm Jesus; your life is not your own.' The next morning my life changed forever." [27]

Fazal acknowledges that he is not unique in this experience. He notes that "the majority of the [Muslim] conversion stories I hear seem to involve dreams and visions inspired by the Holy Spirit in which Christ is supernaturally revealed."[28]

Dreams Seem to Fill in a Gap

Many are compelled to question this approach. As I already mentioned, this seems rather unorthodox, particularly within the American Evangelical context. However, dreams are unquestionably shifting awareness and opening the door for the gospel. In fact, it might be God's way of counteracting the relative failure of Western missions in the Middle East. 

Walid Shoebat agrees. He is a former PLO operative turned Christian and peace activist. Shoebat acknowledges that Jesus is compensating for the weaknesses of the Western Church. Reflecting on this, he noted the following:

"I had first doubted the countless stories of Muslims becoming Christian as a result of dreams until I met some of them and heard their testimonies. My conclusion to this phenomenon is that Christ succeeds where the church fails."[29] 

I believe that it's time for Christians to celebrate the advancement of the gospel in some of darkest places on the globe. In this season, Jesus is doing amazing things in the midst of every tribe and tongue. We are obliged to acknowledge the beauty and wonder of the kingdom's advancement.

Don't be mistaken; Christ succeeds where the church fails.

"Now a word was brought to me secretly, and my ear received a whisper of it. Amid disquieting thoughts from night visions, when deep sleep falls on mortals, terror and trembling came to me, which made all my bones shake. A breath of wind was passing before my face, and the hair on my body was standing up. It stood still, but I could not recognize its appearance; a form was in front of my eyes, there was stillness, then I heard a voice saying: 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?'" (Job 4:12-17).

J.D. King is an author, speaker and director of the World Revival Network.

[1] Audrey Lee. "Why Revival is Exploding Among Muslims." Charisma. December 2012.
[2] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 6.
[3] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 15-16.
[4] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 5.
[5] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 3.
[6] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 13-14.
[7] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 9.
[8] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 7.
[9] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 11-12.
[10] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 7.
[11] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 14.
[12] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 15-16.
[13] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 12.
[14] Joel C. Rosenberg. Inside the Revival: Good News and Changed Hearts Since 9/11. Tyndale Publishers, 2009, 11.
[15] George Thomas. "Revival Breaks Out In Land Once Hostile To Christianity." CBN News, April 22, 2014.
[16] Tino Qahoush quoted in George Thomas. "Revival Breaks Out In Land Once Hostile To Christianity." CBN News, April 22, 2014.
[17] Editor. "Al-Jazeerah: 6 Million Muslims convert to Christianity in Africa each year." Muslim Statistics, December 14, 2012. (Al-Jazeerah has since removed the interview and details).
[18] Kelly Head. "Living From His Presence." The Voice. Christ For The Nations. March 13, 2014.
[19] Jayson Casper. "Why Christianity Is Surging In The Heart Of Islam." Christianity Today 59:7 (September 2015): 19.
[20] Timothy C. Morgan; "Why Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists: Missiologist Dave Garrison documents global surge in Muslims leading Muslims to Christ. He calls it, 'Unprecedented;'" Christianity Today; April 22, 2014.
[21] Tom Doyle with Greg Webster. Dreams and Visions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012. 12-13.
[22] Url Scaramanga. "John Piper 'Suspicious' Of Muslim Dreams Of Jesus: Does the gospel only advance through human 'preachers,' or might God use other methods?" Leadership Journal. November 2, 2011.
[23] Georges Houssney; Factors leading to conversion of Muslims to Christ; Biblical Missiology; April 8, 2013.
[24] Tom Doyle with Greg Webster. Dreams and Visions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012. 126-127.
[25] Nabeel Qureshi quoted in Daniel Darling. "Friday Five Interview: Nabeel Qureshi: A faithful Muslim finds his way to Jesus." Leadership Journal. February 14, 2014.
[26] Naeem Fazal quoted in Audrey Lee. "Why Revival is Exploding Among Muslims." Charisma. December 2012.
[27] Editor. "Muslims Next Door: What to do, and not do, when reaching out to Muslims: An interview with Naeem Fazal." Leadership Journal. September 2009.
[28] Daniel Darling. "Friday Five Interview: Nabeel Qureshi: A faithful Muslim finds his way to Jesus." Leadership Journal. February 14, 2014.
[29] Walid Shoebat quoted in Michael Carl. "Visions Of Jesus Appearing To Muslims: Middle East evangelists report nagging dreams leading to conversions." World News Daily. February 9, 2013.

]]> (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Mon, 23 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0500
Do These Two End-Time Scriptures Really Contradict Each Other?

As our world seems to be heading into a very crucial and kairos time, it leaves one to ponder what is actually on the horizon.

Like most believers, I looked recently into the Bible, the infallible Word of God for answers. Then I ran across two Scriptures that are contradicting to one another and completely on opposite ends of the spectrum. Now I know the Word is 100 percent accurate so I looked closer into these two Scriptures about the last days.

The first Scripture is about perilous times, one translation says difficult times while another says terrible times in the last days. This is the Scripture a lot of the doom and gloom people choose to pick and believe in.  2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, "Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people" (MEV).

When you read this passage, you can look at the world around us and say yes that is very true. Just watch the news or go onto social media and you will get down and frustrated at mankind. Now, lets look at this other Scripture in Acts. I like this definition of the last days a lot more. Acts 2:17 says, "'In the last days it shall be,' says God, 'that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams'" (MEV).

So, there you have it ladies and gentlemen; we have doom and gloom versus outpouring.

I don't know which camp you are in, but I choose to walk in the camp of the people who are contending for revival and awakening in America. I believe we are so close to an outpouring of God's power and presence. See, my friends these two Scriptures are both very accurate. 

The question I have for you is which one are you going to believe in and which one are you believing for? The Lord spoke to me recently about leaning more unto my spiritual ear than my natural eye. There will be perilous times and there will be outpouring going on at the same time. 

I've counseled people recently who are scared to death about the future and the way the world is headed. I've had people in my office recently who are so excited about God and all the things they feel like is about to happen with the church of America. These people are believing for outpouring.

A good biblical example would be Noah. There were a few people in the ark who were safe, but there were a lot who got caught up by the great flood. The difference is the ones who heard from the Lord were safe. The same is for today. Many will be carried away by the things of the world, while others will be safe and experience one of the church's finest hours.    

When I'm in my private prayer closet with God, I feel like He is about to do a work in the church of America and around the world that will change the course of history forever. I've never been more excited and honored to be a minister of the gospel. We are currently experiencing outpourings of his Spirit in America in revival hubs and hotspots all across our land. This is only the beginning of what some would call the Third Great Awakening.

Joe Joe Dawson is the president of Burn Texarkana Revival center and House of Prayer. Pastor Dawson also serves as staff evangelist for First Assembly of God in Texarkana, Texas, where he also is now the Tribe College/young adult pastor. Burn Texarkana has one revival/awakening service a month at First Assembly and also has Burn on the Road meetings in neighboring cites monthly. There are four Burn Texarkana prayer meetings each week, He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

]]> (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 23 Nov 2015 08:52:00 -0500
Sin in the Camp: How to Handle Church Discipline

"Now if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother" (Matt. 18:15).

An unrepentant man attends church while continuing a porn addiction; a wife leaves her husband for a boyfriend; a gossip continues belittling and slandering ... the lists goes on and on.

No matter how small, sin, like cancer, can grow and destroy the whole body. James 1:15 tells us that when a sinful desire is born it grows until it consumes and overcomes. God is clear that a church cannot allow unrepentant sin to continue. The apostle Paul provides an example of a man living with his father's wife while the church remains silent. He responds, "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13) with the goal being repentance and restoration.

Sadly, many churches take the easy route by avoiding confrontation. But saying nothing is saying something. We are condoning sin by our silence. Granted, we should not rush to judgment—grace, mercy and forgiveness must be underscored. God's patience with us is a good example to follow. If someone is caught in sin, we should restore that person gently while being careful not to fall into temptation as well (Gal. 6:1). Here are a few ways:

1. Examine your heart first. Jesus encourages us to remove the plank from our eye first because our sinful tendency is to point out the flaws in others. This doesn't mean that we should look the other way, but that we should refrain from eager judgmentalism.

2. Research the facts. Proverbs 18:13 says that we should not make a decision before hearing both sides. Be patient and ask God to reveal what's really going on. Don't be quick to assume.

3. Don't move too quickly. Those handling the situation need to pray and wait on God. Often, God is convicting the person who is walking in disobedience. Moving too quickly can hinder this and damage communication. But on the flip side, moving too slowly has pitfalls as well. Sometimes we must intervene immediately as in the case of drug use, abuse and so on. Wisdom is needed here.

4. Lovingly confront the person. This is often not the time for anger but tears. Lovingly and graciously challenge them. It may also be appropriate to walk them through relevant Scriptures and remind them that poor choices have consequences, but also remind them that there is grace and forgiveness via repentance.

5. Offer a solution. Saying, "I will walk through this with you," offers great hope. The man addicted to porn needs to show that he is serious by installing accountability software. The wife who left her husband needs to end the affair immediately and so on. Accountability often starts the process of lasting change.

6. Healing requires time. In the same way that physical injuries take time to heal, spiritual restoration takes time as well. If restoration occurs too quickly, more damage can result because of a weakened state that is not yet strong. From my experience, a person who is eager to jump right back into ministry and avoid the waiting process is not ready—their motives may be skewed. Granted, God will often renew passion for ministry, but He's planting the seed for future service. The seed needs time to nourish and grow. We must feel the pain that our sin has caused. Time is needed to revisit progress, talk to family members and reassess the situation—encourage and believe the best in others (1 Cor. 13), but don't rush the process.

7. Assess the heart of the person. If the person is contentious and angry about accountability, they are not broken. It's possible to be sorry about the consequences, but not truly repentant. A penitent person turns from sin. They accept full responsibility for their actions without blame, resentment, or bitterness. When repentance is genuine, we want to be reconciled with those we've injured; we want to do the right thing rather than make excuses.

8. What if a person doesn't listen? In Matthew 18:16-17, Jesus says to "But if he does not listen, then take with you one or two others, that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every word may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." How churches handle this varies, but in my opinion, this is not a quick process (there are exceptions). After many weeks of pleading, praying and waiting on God, the time may come when church discipline needs to occur.

I don't believe that every situation needs to be brought before the entire congregation, but only before those who are affected (unless the person is in a position of leadership). "Tell it to the church" no doubt involves telling people who have some form of relationship with the person. Only those who know the person can treat them accordingly.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 sheds additional light, "If anyone does not obey our word in this letter, note that man, and do not socialize with him, so that he may be ashamed. Still, do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

We need to avoid needless communication so that God can work in their heart. "Shouldn't we be eager to restore our fallen brethren? To fellowship, yes. But not to leadership. It is not an act of love to return a disqualified man to public ministry; it is an act of disobedience" (John MacArthur).

This doesn't mean that we arrogantly walk past them, but that we not conduct ourselves in a way that supports their decision to remain in sin. This is not the time for usual fellowship as if nothing is wrong; it's a time to lovingly follow the scriptural course regardless of the pain both parties feel. God often uses pain to eventually bring the prodigal home. We can't rush the process, nor should we try to avoid it.

As a final thought, don't forget about the emotional state of the victim and their family, especially if children are involved. Their spiritual well-being and emotional health are just as important as the offender's if not more so. {eoa}

Click here to watch the beginning of the 4 part series on Sin In The Camp.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his seventh book, Desperate for More of God at Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at Follow him on Facebook at:

]]> (Shane Idleman ) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Mon, 23 Nov 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Thank God for His Wonderful Gifts

I recently celebrated a birthday and was blessed with a barrage of cards and gifts. Well-wishing friends and relatives called, sent cards, gave gifts and took me to lunch.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. I felt loved and special. The years, which are considerable, seemed richer as I faced yet another chapter of my life.

Although I received some wonderful gifts, what I valued most was the love expressed by those around me. I realized that the greatest gifts were not the things I had received but the people God had brought into my life.

Material things come and go—they wear out, go out of style, depreciate, and get old and worn. But love and its expression among those of like faith is eternal. This special love from God, which the Bible calls "agape," and these relationships will go on forever. 

They will not wear out or grow old; they will grow richer. They are priceless treasures that will only increase in value. 

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus (see John 3:16). Jesus so loved that He gave His life in order that we could be forgiven and become adopted sons of God and joint-heirs with Him. But beyond that and as a special bonus, He gave us each other and joined our hearts in His love. 

What if, after all that, we refuse to accept His gifts? What if we receive the gift of eternal life but are not willing to love the people He brings into our lives or allow them to love us? What if we choose to keep these expressions of God's love at a distance, as I once did? We will miss so much!

As I looked across the table at the friends who have weathered many a storm with me, who are growing "older" as well, and gracefully I might add, I cherish them more and more each day. It's as if God wrapped each one in a special package and presented them to me as His very own array of gifts.

How thankful I am, Lord! Not just for the tangible expressions of Your love given through Your people but for the intangible expressions as well—wise counsel, prayer support, laughter, sharing in good times and bad, admonition, instruction and mentoring.

I understand now that each person is a gift from the Father to someone. Each one comes in a different package, a different shape, size and color. But each one is a reflection of His love. 

In becoming more like Him, let's share the love He so generously pours into our hearts toward others (see Rom. 5:5). And let us gratefully receive those He brings into our lives as special gifts from Him, regardless of the packaging.

This Thanksgiving, when we express our gratitude to God for His salvation, His presence and all the material things He has given us, let's not forget to thank Him for our family and friends—and the gift of love He has blessed us with through them.

Prayer Power for the Week of November 22, 2015

This week receive all the "love" gifts God sends you through family, friends, new relationships, outreaches and opportunities to connect with others. Pray for their salvation, healing, wholeness, deliverance, prosperity and blessing. Ask God to show you how to specifically reach out to the lonely, lacking and needy. Thank Him for leading you to the ones He desires you to bless and carry His love and presence to them in tangible ways. Continue to pray for our nation, its leaders, all those serving our country, and those who have suffered severe losses this year. Lift up the persecuted church and pray for the protection of Israel so it can fulfill God's mandate in this season. Before you embark on the busyness of the week, schedule time alone with God to make Him a priority, seek His counsel and receive His peace (Rom. 5:5-8).  

]]> (Ruth L. Whitfield) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 22 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
What God Does With Terrorists

Throughout the Bible, the people chosen by God lived under terrorism. Israel lived under tyrants, threats of annihilation and genocide. Yet Israel survived and thrives even in this age of terrorism.

We have hope in God's history of dealing with terrorists as recorded in the Bible. We can aim our faith to believe that He can do today what He did for His people. While a book can be written about this, I'm encouraged by how God has dealt with terrorists.

  • He demonstrates His authority and power.

 In 2 Kings 19, King Hezekiah faces a tyrant and his army that are on their way to annihilate him and his people. The Assyrian King Sennacherib tells King Hezekiah:

"Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying: Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria" (2 Kin. 19:10)

Assyria is the ancient version of Syria. Assyria had a reputation for brutality as they skinned their captors alive, cut their tongues out and decapitated their enemies. The decapitated heads were set on stakes throughout the captured city to intimidate residents.

After King Hezekiah receives the letter from the tyrant king, he goes to the Lord's Temple and spreads it out before the Lord. King Hezekiah pleads with God:

"So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, O Lord, are God alone" (2 Kin. 19:19).

God answers by sending one angel who kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kin. 19:35). In this moment, a king realizes that no army, no ally, no treaty can rescue him from his foe. Only God can rescue. Only God can deliver.

  • He sends a deliverer.

Israel is under Roman occupation and cries out for a Messiah. He answers in the most unlikely way through a young teenage girl who gives birth to Jesus. Jesus is born despite the mass genocide in his home village with the slaughter of every baby boy under the age of 2.

Jesus is born into the danger zone and never leaves it. The same spirit that threatens the extinction of the people of Israel creates the climate for His unjust, cruel crucifixion when He becomes a pawn of religious politics of the day. The resurrection of Jesus breaks the power of sin and death and brings power to His people to live without fear under tyranny.

Jesus doesn't overthrow the Roman empire. Instead He empowers the people who would eventually see God's kingdom advance in pagan empires. The enemy sought to destroy the deliverer and instead triggers an invasion of heaven on earth.

  • He converts the terrorist.

Saul is Israel's "ISIS" leader during the birth of the infant church. He is a zealous Pharisee devoted to killing the followers of Jesus.

Saul witnesses the stoning of Stephen and "agrees completely with the killing of Stephen" (Acts 8:1). He leads a wave of persecution going from house to house throwing men and women into prison. He was "eager to kill the Lord's followers" (Acts 9:1).

Saul was on his way to Damascus to meet with the high priest to send letters to all of the synagogues asking for their cooperation to arrest the followers of Jesus. He meets the "High Priest" Jesus on the road to Damascus.

"As he went he drew near Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?' He said, 'Who are You, Lord?' The Lord said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' Trembling and astonished, he said, 'Lord, what will You have me do?' The Lord said to him, 'Rise up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do'" (Acts 9:3-4).

Saul is blinded and led into Damascus.

The Lord visits another believer, Ananias, and orders him to meet with Saul. Ananias protests, reminding Jesus that Saul is terrorizing believers.

"But the Lord said to him, 'Go your way. For this man is a chosen vessel of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and their kings, and before the sons of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake'" (Acts 9:15-16).

Ananias prays for Saul and the scales fall off his eyes. Saul stays in Damascus and preaches about Jesus in the synagogue. The terrorist is converted to be a preacher.

The war on terrorism is ultimately a war against the followers of Jesus. Let's pray that God demonstrates His power and authority, raises up deliverers and converts terrorists. We can't trust governments, alliances or world powers to fight this ancient battle. Only God can rescue and save.

Leilani Haywood is an award-winning writer and online editor for SpiritLed Woman. A frequent contributor to Charisma, tell her what you think of this article on Twitter or on Facebook.

]]> (Leilani Haywood) Featured Women Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:00:00 -0500
How to Get Yourself in a Place to Receive God's Instruction

Do you walk in obedience at your convenience or do you walk in strict obedience to our Father?

Obedience requires sacrifice. It requires us sacrificing what we think is important and what our flesh wants. It sometimes requires us sacrificing the easy way out. It requires us to get rid of our fleshly tendencies. Obedience requires discipline. Discipline to be adamant about following His orders, obeying our prophecies and directions that He has given directly to us.

Some of us would say we are obedient to God. We go to church, pray and worship, but this is not the obedience I am talking about. The obedience I am talking about is following His instruction.

How closely and attentively do you follow His instruction? Do you write down His instructions? Do you remember His instructions? Do you ignore His instructions or do you listen to His instructions? We don't all like to be told what to do, even by our Heavenly Father. I assure you, we do need His instruction.   

How do we get ourselves in a place to receive that instruction and act on those instructions? It is by allowing God to instruct us in all areas of our life, big and small. We look for God's direction in big things, but when we hear His direction in the small things, often we don't think it is God and that we don't need to obey in the "little things." It is obedience in these little things that the Father uses to instruct us how to have obedience in the greater things. When we hear these instructions and obey, we will learn to hear more clearly as a result of our obedience.

As you look at your life, do you consider yourself an obedient person? Would you be obedient if God told you to give away a piece of your jewelry? What if He told you to buy a person's meal? Now let's go a little further, what if there was something you really wanted to do badly and He told you not to do it? Could you be obedient? What if there was a situation that you really had to walk by faith and not by sight? Could you be obedient? What if you thought, oh it's no big deal I will do it anyways?  That is not obedience! Doing something contrary to what He has instructed you to do is nothing but disobedience.

Obedience comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. Our Heavenly Father is requiring us to be obedient in all things—all things, not just some things, but all things. This requires us crucifying our flesh, our wants and our desires for His. Our life is not our own; it belongs to the One who sits on the throne! We must get to the point where every thought, every action is in obedience to Him, is in relationship to Him. 

We must examine our past instructions from the Father and ask ourselves, are we completing them, are we living them out? We need to go back into the past and say what has the Father told me to do, what have I written down, what did He tell me to start or complete that I am not doing. We need to make sure the things of the past, present and future are under the guidance and leading of the Father and that we are heeding His instruction willfully, obediently and quickly.

There is much more we can be doing for the kingdom if we will take the time to repent, confess, submit and take a huge step forward in complete obedience. No matter what it feels like or looks like, will you take that step forward with me in complete obedience? Remember our life is not our own; it belongs to the One who sits on the throne.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God.  She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours.  Kathy enjoys writing several books that educate, empower and equip people, including A Worship Woven Life and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at

]]> (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:00:00 -0500
10 Things Your Spouse Will Remember About You

Marriage is a beautifully complicated, time-demanding, life-fulfilling experience that has the power to bring you more joy than you have ever encountered. It's one of God's most alluring creations.

The reality is that we will all be remembered by our spouses for the things that we do. But what we must remember is that we have the choice to be remembered in a way that brings joy and comfort, not pain and agony.

Here are 10 things I believe your spouse will remember about you:

1. How you handle confrontation. Confrontation is unavoidable, but the way you respond to it is completely up to you. It's easy to get mad, throw up your hands and try to let things blow over. But without properly handling confrontation in a mature manner, one will set their relationship up for failure. It's like Taylor Swift once said, "Bandaids don't fix bullet holes." That'll preach!

Take the time needed to handle confrontation in a mature and timely approach. Your spouse will remember exactly how you approach confrontation; respond to it and the way you journey through each of its life-learning facets.

2. The way you prioritize faith, family and work. It's easy to feel like you've been put on the backburner when your spouse seems to put work before their faith and family, you know, when it seems all they are focused on is emails, Facebook, phone calls and work texts. And even when they're present, they're not really that present at all.

But while not everyone has this problem, we must all guard ourselves from allowing work and pleasure to become a greater priority than our faith and family. I'd be the first to admit that I've failed to do this on several occasions throughout our marriage. The backburner is a distressing place to be, and my wife deserves the first of my time and emotions, not the leftovers. Don't be remembered as someone who loved their family, but not enough to keep them a priority over your job.

3. How you handle finances/spending. Finances are hands down one of the biggest reasons couples argue. And while not everyone has issues of charging thousands to their family credit card, how you manage and handle your finances is something your spouse will always remember about you. Be open and honest with each other about spending. When two become one, so does their financial homestead.

Don't be remembered as someone who wasted money on petty things, but instead as someone who managed their finances to better support the longevity of your family's future.

4. How you treat people who are different from you. The world is full of people who are different from each other, and how we respond to those people shows a lot about our character. How do you treat people who live a lifestyle different from yours? Your spouse will remember exactly how you interact with individuals who are different from you. They will remember how you act and respond.

5. The way you treat them when no one is looking. Treating your spouse like a king or queen while everybody has their eyes fixed on you is easy, but what happens when the doors are closed and nobody can see what's really going on? How have you treated your significant other in the comfort and safety of your home? Your spouse will remember how you treated them when nobody was looking, when nobody could see the truth, and when nobody was around to call you out if something was said or done out of turn.

Treat your spouse with the respect and honor they deserve, regardless of where you are or who is watching. The way you treat your spouse when nobody is looking will say a lot about you.

6. The way you show them affection. Affection in marriage, or in this case any relationship, is key. It's just true. We like to know that people care for us. And while everybody might show affection differently to their spouse or significant other, there is something true to be said about physical touch and words of encouragement. Don't be a spouse who is remembered as someone who lacked affection, compassion and concern for their husband or wife.

Everyone has different love languages. Learn what makes your spouse tick and be diligent in showcasing the affection they deserve. Learning what your spouse enjoys out of affection will show them that you truly care about their emotions, feelings and emotional security.

7. How you listen to them when they speak to you. You might listen to your spouse, but are you really listening? It's easy to hear what your spouse said, but it's a completely different thing to understand it. Being present is key, and I don't just mean physically. It's easy to be standing in front of your spouse, but your mind is still 1,000,000 miles away. Work, emails, business opportunities and more—put them away!

These are all things that keep us from truly engaging with our significant others when they are communicating with us. Teach yourself to turn it off, and instead, focus in on your spouse when they are verbalizing something to you. Give them the time that they deserve. Take the time to truly listen.

8. How you handle seemingly impossible situations. When impossible knocks at your door, how do you handle yourself? When your account gets wiped out by fraud, what will be your next course of action? When a family member comes down with a life-threatening illness, what is your immediate response? We will all be remembered for the way we handle seemingly impossible situations.

While nobody is perfect at responding to these type of things, choosing to trust God, be patient and slow to speak is always the right choice. It may not always be easy, but it will always help calm the nerves of everyone who is involved. Be a person that people can look to in times of trouble, and lean on when the storms of life hit.

9. Whether or not you keep your promises. I'm really bad at keeping promises. It's not that I deliberately ignore the promises I've made, I guess I just say "yes" to so many things that I often forget 75 percent of what I've committed to. When it comes to my marriage, I've realized the importance of keeping my promises, regardless of how small I think they may be. If you promised your spouse time together, then make sure you spend time together.

If you promised your spouse a day without interruption, then make sure you turn off your electronics and focus solely on them. If you promised a weekend of intimacy and connectivity, then make sure you say no to other opportunities, even if you think those opportunities are once in a lifetime. You cannot afford to let down your spouse, especially when you've made them a promise. You want your word to have value. The second it no longer harnesses validity is the second you're in trouble.

10. Your spiritual walk. Do you pray? Make church a priority? Read your Bible? Surround yourself with God-breathed community? If not, then there is a good chance your spouse's remembrance of your spiritual walk is anything but favorable. Your spiritual journey plays an important role in life, and I believe the way we treat our spouses are sometimes a direct reflection of our spiritual fuel tank.

Allow God to direct your steps, teach you humility and encourage you to continuously strive to be a better mate. When you learn to put God first, your marriage will come anything but last. Make your spiritual walk a priority.

What else will your spouse remember about you? Leave a comment below.

Jarrid Wilson is a husband, pastor and author relentlessly sharing the love of Jesus. For the original article, visit

]]> (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Men Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0500
Painful Laughter: Waiting for a Healing

Faith is useless. At least, that's the thought I continually had to take captive.

My heart focused on the pain instead of God's healing presence. Years ago, my belief in His power and love for me was tested.

On March 27, 2006, one day after a life-changing trip to Israel with my parents and older sister, the unthinkable became reality. My father had a stroke.

The expression on my sister's face brought a sick feeling to the pit of my stomach. She began to cry as she shared the news with me. My first reaction was "God, help us!"

Years have passed since I first saw my dad lying on an emergency room bed hooked up to machines. Thinking back, I remember the uncertainty of that time and how what used to be simple for him wasn't so easy anymore.

My father's attempts to walk to the car or to open a bottle of water brings those memories to mind again. The stroke left him paralyzed on his left side. He walks with a cane, jerking his left leg forward to make the next step. When his throat is dry, he coughs as he struggles to take the bottle cap off with his good hand.

God has brought him far and I believe for his continued healing. These days, he's as independent as he can be. He enjoys rolling the windows down and driving himself 1.5 hours to visit my granddad twice a week, using a right-handed device on his steering wheel.

Something as traumatic as a stroke also can affect a person's mind and emotions. And I've seen that too. Although Dad was never afraid to show how he feels; situations that never prompted strong emotions before do now. At first, there were times when he would weep uncontrollably. He'd then burst into laughter. Even in silence, he'd smile as he tried to open his eyes to see through the tears.

I'd end up crying and hugging his neck as I laughed along with him. It's difficult to hear a loved one weep, but I'm thankful for the sounds of unexplainable laughter that followed.

It's tough to watch someone you love go through a serious health crisis. You feel helpless and hopeless. There's nothing you can do to ease their pain or restore their body. If you find yourself in that situation, just know that God can simply speak a word of healing and all is righted again.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened. What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" (Matt. 7:7-9).

As you stagger through your own ordeal, remember to continually give it to the Lord. Pound on the door until your fists are bruised and heaven opens and pours out healing. Pray without relenting that your loved one is made whole. Have faith, and God will move mountains!

During the first few weeks, my dad spent his days in a sterile rehabilitation hospital room. Each night after visiting hours, despair consumed me. Every step I took away from that building reminded me that he couldn't walk as I could. Guilt ate me up. I felt terrible for leaving him there. I had to let him go night after night kissing him on the head goodbye.

Walking to the elevator and out the doors was grueling. It wasn't fair. I shouldn't have to leave my father in that place. Time alone with the Lord and His encouraging voice helped me more than words of sympathy from anyone else. So, if you need solace, seek out the Prince of Peace. He offers comfort like no other.
God knows life is miserable sometimes. Release your pain to Him. He knows your the heaviness of your sorrow; He bore the weight of His Son's death. God understands your frustration, even when you don't feel like anyone cares—even Him. If you let Him, He'll show you how much He cares for you and your family. 
A few months after my father's stroke, I surveyed my heart about my dad's health and wrote this:

"Painful Laughter"

Uncertain where this is leading
God, open Your ears, I'm pleading.
The one thing I never knew, never hoped would come, 
a time when my life came undone.

My father lay bruised and broken.
Trying now, I can find a slight hope within.
Seeking hard for what I'm after, 
grateful for his painful laughter.

My anxiety calms when I see my father laugh in spite of his physical weakness. His faith has always been strong, but he's even stronger now. He walks the best he ever has—with our heavenly Father.

This article is officially ending with a "to be continued." When he gets his full and complete healing, there will be a new story to tell.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Hannah Goodwyn/Senior Producer for Featured Health Life Fri, 20 Nov 2015 15:00:00 -0500