Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:04:27 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb How Parents Can Keep Their Kids Interested in Church

It's a question church experts are desperate to answer: Why are so many young people leaving the church after high school? More importantly, what can be done to stop it?  Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman write in their new book, 7 Family Ministry Essentials: A Strategy for Culture Change in Children's and Student Ministries, that ministry leaders must discuss the critical role of family in the formation of faith that will transcend childhood beliefs.

While youth spend the vast majority of their free time with their family rather than within the four walls of the church, parents often feel stymied by the distractions and busyness of life and ill-equipped to disciple their children during their formative years. 7 Family Ministry Essentials asserts this is where the church comes in.

Q: Why do you think 7 Family Ministry Essentials is such an important book for the times in which we live?

Anthony: Ministry in the local church is changing because the needs of the family are changing. Many ministry leaders feel ill-equipped to handle the kinds of issues today's families are wrestling with, so they often ignore those needs and simply try to entertain or allow family members a venue to "have fun" or "get away" from their issues. The other temptation is to change the programs in the church constantly to try to be all things to all people or because they are not getting the transformational results they are looking for.

What is needed is a strategy that puts family members of every generation in direct and authentic relationship with God and each other. Ministry leaders need something they can build upon year after year, decade after decade, in order to build a lifetime faith in people. This strategy must be bigger than pizza parties and outreach events; it must be grounded in the essentials of our faith formation.

Q: What do you see as the greatest threat to families in the church today?

Marshman: I believe the greatest threat to families in the church today is busyness and lack of focus. Parents constantly feel like they are not doing enough while simultaneously doing far too much.

Anthony: Yes, and I think families are so busy because we are chasing the allure of the "abundant life" rather than chasing after Jesus and the kind of kingdom He represents. We want Jesus for our families, but we want the world too. This type of distraction takes our eyes off of what's most important (faith formation) and allows us to settle for a counterfeit (good behavior). We need a strategy that takes our young generation from a mere set of childhood beliefs and helps them own a lifetime faith that is rooted and grounded in God's Word and His ways.

Q: There has been a mass exodus of young people from the church in recent years. What are some of the reasons behind this trend?

Marshman: Eight years into ministry, God revealed a common thread in the graduated students I met who were "done with God." It wasn't that church services no longer entertained them. It was that the good feelings, peace and emotional highs they had when they worshipped God in middle school or high school had ceased.

Without realizing it, they had made the gospel by-products their gods. When the pursuit of good feelings became the goal, these students unknowingly placed themselves and their desires at the center of their lives. Once young people believed God stopped serving them, they, in return, quit serving God. They falsely adopted the view that the church exists to serve them rather than recognizing they exist to serve the church and the world. They leave church once they leave high school because the "big church" services don't cater to them quite like their youth ministries did.

Anthony: I also think when these young people leave, they don't leave authentic faith and relationships behind ... they leave in search of them. If the church truly has these things, then our problem isn't our content; it's our messaging and our practices. How can we establish a new order of "being" the church in a way that is meeting the needs of our young people? This will not be merely a content-driven ministry paradigm (which it has been in the past) since our young people have more access to "information" than ever before. Truth will need to be instructed in "life on life" discipleship, which has eluded the church for decades. Going to Sunday school and youth group does not transform lives, but what leaders do with those hours to build relationship bridges between young people will make all the difference.

Q: What role do parents play in raising young people who fully live out their faith and how much responsibility should fall with the church?

Anthony: Parents play a huge role. Long after young people leave our children's and youth programs, they will be in relationship with their parents ... to some degree, for better or for worse. To invest in parents is to invest in the lives of young people far beyond the access we will have to influence them. Parents feel ill-equipped to disciple their children and teens in our world. Ministry leaders are wise to steward the years in which they have a voice in the life of a young person, but they should also go to great pains to ensure the parents are a vital part of knowing and modeling faith at home.

Q: Can you explain what you mean by writing that family ministry is the means to the gospel, not the end?

Marshman: The goal of every church program/ministry is to share the good news of Jesus Christ and inspire, equip and support the church to share the gospel with others. Family ministry can be the conduit to share the gospel with the world.

Q: What vision do you have for how this book will impact families and the church?

Marshman: Simply, our aim is to articulate God's vision for family ministry—a vision that empowers families to take spiritual leadership in their homes, form lifetime faith in their children, teach Scripture as authoritative, understand the role of the Holy Spirit, engage in God's redemptive story, make God central in daily living and work within a community to further God's will. I envision leaders, students and families who can discern God's voice and are responding to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Anthony: I believe this book will also help release us from the burden of feeling the entire weight of a generation either accepting or rejecting Jesus. It's not our job to manage this. It will also give leaders a strategy and common language to change a culture that is satisfied with spiritual mediocrity and apathy. Our ministries can be so much more than programs ... they can be change agents for transformation.

 Learn more about Dr. Michelle Anthony at, on Facebook or by following her on Twitter. Learn more about Megan Fate Marshman at, on Facebook or by following her on Twitter

]]> (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why God Doesn't Grow Us By Leaps and Bounds

"[T]hat you 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).

Although God could instantly transform us, He has chosen to develop us slowly. Jesus was deliberate in developing his disciples, just as God allowed the Israelites to take over the Promised Land "little by little," so they wouldn't be overwhelmed (Deut. 7:22). He prefers to work in incremental steps in our lives.

Why does it take so long to change and grow up? There are several reasons:

  • We are slow learners. We often have to relearn a lesson 40 or 50 times to really get it. The problems keep recurring, and we think, "Not again! I've already learned that!" But God knows better. The history of Israel illustrates how quickly we forget the lessons God teaches us and how soon we revert to our old patterns of behavior. We need repeated exposure.
  • We have a lot to unlearn. Since most of our problems—and all of our bad habits—didn't develop overnight, it's unrealistic to expect them go away immediately. There is no pill, prayer, or principle that will instantly undo the damage of many years. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. The Bible calls it "taking off the old self" and "putting on the new self" (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:7-10, 14).
  • Growth is often painful and scary. There is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss; and there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind. We fear these losses, even if our old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn out pair of shoes, they were at least comfortable and familiar.
  • Good habits take time to develop. Remember that your character is the sum total of your habits. You can't claim to be kind unless you are habitually kind. Your habits define your character.

There is only one way to develop the habits of Christ-like character: You must practice them—and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, "Meditate on these things. Give yourself completely to them, that your progress may be known to everyone" (1 Tim. 4:15).

Talk It Over

  • Why do you think God allows us to go through pain and loss while we are growing spiritually?
  • What is the bad habit that you've had trouble changing in your life?
  • What one thing do you need to practice doing every day so that you are developing Christ-like character?

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 bestseller 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 Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
The Jesus Agenda: Redeeming Families One Father at a Time

Fathers play a vital role in the development of a child as well as in God's redemptive plan for the lives of their children. Fathers provide discipline instruction, protection and provision, and unconditional love and forgiveness—all practical and redemptive roles that shape the lives of their children.

The role of fathers is easily traced throughout Scripture. Among others, the pattern of God's redemptive work in history is revealed in the stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These fathers were imperfect and ordinary men that shaped the lives and faith of the next generation.

The gospel of Matthew records a listing of the families that God worked through from Abraham to Jesus. From the very beginning, the family has been the primary building block of societies, nations, and civilizations. What happens at the nuclear level of the family shapes communities, cities, states, nations, and the world.

The Jesus Agenda was announced in the first sermon Jesus ever preached and served as a blueprint for his 36-month ministry. Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord was upon him and had anointed him to accomplish five essential activities: preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the captives, recovery of sight for the blind, release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

He lived a life of obedience to His father and sacrificed His life to redeem broken humanity. The poor would not have to be poor anymore, those in bondage would be set free, those with sickness would be healed, the oppressed people would find liberty, and God's favor would become a reality.

So do fathers play a part in the Jesus agenda? My father did for me.

By the end of this summer, my father will be 88 years old. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, he picked cotton as a boy in West Texas earning 75 cents for a 100-pound bag a day. He dropped out of school in the 7th grade and joined the United States Marine Corps when he was 17.

After tours in Japan and China, he received an honorable discharge as a World War II veteran in 1948 and returned to Corpus Christi to earn his GED diploma and attend Del Mar College to study accounting, English, and sales. He married my mother, Gloria Garcia, in 1952 and had a successful career in sales, law enforcement, and private business with my mother.

My story of redemption actually began with my father's mother, Francisca Rodriguez Reyes, who came to faith under the ministry of Rev. Edward P. Gonzalez. Her faith had an obvious influence on my father. By the time I was born, both of my parents were active members in a local Baptist church.

Dad came to faith in Christ under the ministry of Dr. Ignacio E. Gonzalez, his pastor in Corpus Christi. So, you could say I was raised by Marine Corps principles and the Bible.

Each Sunday after lunch, dad would gather my two brothers and me in the living room and read a Bible story to us. But beyond that, my dad assumed his primary responsibility to teach and train us in the ways of the Lord and took us to church to augment his efforts.

The gospel that came to us through the witness of my paternal grandmother and my father planted the seeds of God's redemptive work in my life.

The gospel was good news to the Reyes family, a poor migrant family in West Texas; the gospel was healing news for us too. The gospel gave us freedom from a life with no hope, liberty over oppressive and difficult circumstances, and the favor of the Lord.

I always think of my dad and remember his discipline, his guidance, his presence, his love, his provision, and his effort to point me to Jesus and a redeemed life. I recall his support and encouragement when I answered a call to vocational ministry at the age of 15. Over time, both of my brothers, Gus and Fred, also answered a call to vocational ministry. We each married beautiful, intelligent, Christian women and are blessed with our own families.

In a critical moment when I sought dad's advice as a young minister he said, "All I expect is that you love the Lord and serve Him all the days of your life." Jesus worked his agenda and implemented his redemptive plan through my dad, a U.S. Marine, deacon, law enforcement officer, and businessman. He was the primary agent of redemption in my life. Obedience became a habit, and honor became my gift to him.

Fathers, how are you shaping the Jesus Agenda and God's redemptive plan for your children?

Dr. Albert Reyes serves as the sixth President and CEO of Buckner International, a global Christian ministry founded in 1879 in Dallas, Texas, focused on serving vulnerable children, orphans, seniors, and their families. For more information visit

]]> (Albert L. Reyes) Featured Men Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Here's a Strong Case for Strength Training

I am so excited to share this week's guest post with you! It's written by the man responsible for my inexhaustible love for fitness, and for strength training in particular.

Since I was 16 and first stepped foot into 360 Fitness in my hometown of Tyler, Texas, Michael Prince has been a fitness and nutrition mentor to me. He has taught me—and continues to teach me—everything I know about training safely and effectively, with very specific goals in mind, and applying tried and true dietary principles that build a strong, lean, energetic body, as well as a clear, focused, and disciplined mind.

I asked Michael to write anything he wanted. Knowing that his mind is a virtual library teeming with vast amounts of information pertaining to exercise science, kinesiology, biomechanics, you name it, I knew that whatever he chose to write on would be insightful. I hope you enjoy what he has to say about what he and I believe to be the foundation of all types of fitness: strength!

And now, without further ado, here's Michael!

Michael Prince

Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I am a United States Air Force Paramedic, B.S. Registered Nurse, Certified Personal Trainer of 19 years, and co-owner of 360 Fitness Personal Training Center in Tyler, Texas for 12 years. I'm the father to three wonderful children and husband to a very patient and loving mother, wife, and business partner.

Dollars to doughnuts, my wife Melinda would acclaim to raising four children. However, this read is most definitely not about my life as much as what I've learned from the various hats having worn over the last 24 years.

Fitness is my life. From working with children, the elderly, bodybuilders, and rehabbing injuries, I've had the pleasure of learning from so many different and physically demanding modalities. Which is what brings us to the meat of this article: answering several questions.

  • What is the best workout?
  • How do I improve my ability within a given activity or sport?

Whether strength, endurance, cross-training, running, swimming, cycling, or yoga is your thing, you need to have a physically strong body for all of it. Which brings us to our next question:

What are your goals? I've learned that if you want to get better at cycling, you cycle. If you want to be an excellent swimmer, you must swim. The same goes for running, whether it is long distance or sprinting. The list goes on into including bowling, golf, football, CrossFit, baseball, etc.

Each activity above is a form of exercise, excellent forms that are great for heart health and attaining or maintaining a leaner healthy body. Now for the twist ...  How do each of us not only perfect these forms we love, but excel within our chosen activity? There is a difference! Each one is a form, an art! The answer to each of these questions is strength training.

With strength training, we can focus on the factors that limit us.

Our bodies are our support, so we must support our bodies with nutrition and exercise. (We definitely do not have enough room in this article to cover nutrition, as straightforward and simple as it can be.) So what would this strength training program look like for each individual among the various activities? (Keyword, individual.)

There is no perfect workout plan. Each of us has a vastly different genetic makeup. Also, when it comes to strength training, it is much more beneficial when your program changes from workout to workout, or from week to week. Our bodies have an adaptive mechanism that will kick in and essentially keep us from moving forward with our goals. We have to be smarter than our bodies and keep them guessing.

So does this make coming up with an individualized program more difficult? Absolutely not! That makes it more fun and interesting! Within this article, it is not my goal to attempt to condense 20-plus years of experience into a few hundred words and bring light to the fact that we all need to strengthen our bodies for the activities that drive each one of us.

Now, I have been involved with weightlifting/strength training for many years. What I've found is that through the hundreds of people having worked with over the years, I have partaken in some activities that may not be on my personal menu of favorites.

However, due to the fact that strength training is my life, it doesn't ail me to attempt something new. As a matter of fact, I usually do quite well, minus the perfected technique of whatever it is I have agreed to participate in. But what about the activities that are on my menu of favorites? Well, as long as I stay active in these favorites, I can maintain a comfortable and sometimes impressive level of competitiveness.

My suggestion: Scout out your local fitness centers. Some may even specialize in personal training. A good fitness facility will interview you to find out our goals and needs at the same time you are interviewing them to make up your mind if they are right for you.

Now, if you have spent time in the weight room, have the knowledge/experience and are comfortable with designing your own comprehensive roadmap to get from point A to point B, what are you waiting for?

But, like so many people that walk into a fitness center and are intimidated or confused with the sea of exercise equipment, I would take advantage of sitting down with one of their professional fitness trainers and let them cross-examine your desires and match them up with a dynamic strength training program that will get you on the path to creating a more competitive platform so that you can enjoy your favorite activities even more.

Strength training coupled with athleticism really is the iron that sharpens the iron!

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. Diana can be reached on Twitter.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Diana Anderson-Tyler) Featured Health Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
The Prophetic Significance Behind Confederate Flag Backlash

The Civil War ended in 1865 but the Confederate Flag is still flying proudly today in many southern communities. The red-white-and-blue banner is a symbol of both rebellion and racism that serves as a painful reminder of our nation's history.

Indeed, Ku Klux Klan members still display these flags in their front yards in small southern towns and many retailers sell stickers, T-shirts, bathing suits, earrings, dog suits and other merchandise donning the emblem. The latter is changing in the twinkling of an eye.

Unfortunately, it took a massacre for our nation to wake up to the deep-seated division that the Confederate flag still symbolizes. Less than a week since Dylann Roof, who posed with the Confederate flag online, opened fire on Christians at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.—and less than two weeks after a stadium prayer event called The Response was held there to pray for our nation—backlash against the flag is reached a fevered pitch.

This Flag Does Not Represent America

"It's time to move the flag from the capitol grounds," Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, told a news conference in the state capital, which is about 100 miles from the Charleston shooting that left nine African-American believers dead. "The flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state."

Walmart and Sears are putting an end to the sale of products bearing the Confederate flag. Target appears to be taking the same measure. Amazon and eBay are still selling the merchandise sporting the emblem but industry watchers are expecting retailers en mass to put the end to promoting the sale of the rebel flag in the days ahead.

What, then, is the prophetic significance of the sudden and growing rebel flag backlash? My friend Tammie Southerland, founder of Frontline Ministries who lives in Greenwood, SC, pointed out that the flag has been a major point of contention in South Carolina for a long time.

"To the black community it represents oppression and is a reminder that the South fought to keep slavery. That alone should cause us to consider the need to remove it, for if our brother hurts so should we. But the removal is even more powerful that we realize!"

Southerland offered a quick history lesson: South Carolina pioneered the 1860 Secession. The word "secession" essentially means division. Noteworthy is the fact that revival was sweeping the nation at the very same time that South Carolina signed secession papers in Charleston. In an instant, America went from revival to war. The Civil War raged and revival went underground.

Church Pierce's Prophecy

"Chuck Pierce released a prophetic word in 2005 that revealed the reason South Carolina remained in ugly cycles of division—both in the church and beyond—is because we had not repented of the heart of the secession," Southerland recounts.

"But, he prophesied, if we would come together in the 12 most populated cities, including the port cities, gathering the five-fold ministry in prayer and intercession, we would break the spiritual repercussions of pioneering secession—and through South Carolina an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival would be released! This would pioneer a movement of unity and a message of Jesus like America had never heard! The Lord said we would be called a state of 'intercession' instead of a state of 'secession' or rebellion and division!"

According to Southerland, many believers in South Carolina took that prophecy to heart and have been waging war with that prophetic word—praying it through in intercession. For Southerland's part, she has been preaching and declaring this prophetic word as she's held "Fire on the Altar" meetings—unity-focused mobile 24-hour presence-driven prayer, worship and revival gatherings—across the Carolinas and beyond.

"Press into the heart of the Father and get this prophetic understanding," Southerland urges. "This is amazing! It is happening and Charleston has been the tragic catalyst to bring an outward act exemplifying the heart of unity."

Pockets of true revival are breaking out across America. Want to know more about the next great move of God? Click here to see Jennifer LeClaire's new book, featuring Dutch Sheets, Reinhard Bonnke, Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham and others. 

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual AwakeningMornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of GodThe Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Culture Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Are You Fighting God or the Devil?

"You are a great leader and you love being in charge. I think the problem is that you always want to be in control. It seems to be difficult for you to have others in charge."

Derek nodded his head, so I continued. 

"Here's the problem, Derek. You are contending with Jesus. He wants control of your life, but I don't think you trust Him enough to let Him be charge, call the shots." I stopped talking. There was silence. After a while, I continued, "If you resist His authority in your life, He will keep fighting you. If you keep resisting Him and He lets you run your own life, you will make a mess of things. Either way you lose."

"I don't think I trust God enough to give Him control."

The Problem

This conversation shocked me. Derek was the perfect Christian on the outside. He even did all kinds of things that no one ever saw. He had his Quiet Time every day, worked hard at his job earning the respect of other employees, and was a faithful friend to me. 

Why did he have such a hard time trusting God? Why did he make all his own decisions? He had admitted that he hadn't prayed about some big decisions, in his life, asking God for a yes or no. Instead, he had plunged headlong into some lifetime commitments that could not be undone. He was headed for more disasters at the time of our conversation. 

As we talked, I realized that he didn't understand the love of God, thinking that somehow if he left the decision-making to God, the Lord would not really have Derek's best interest at heart and would not want to bless him. Is Derek an anomaly in the kingdom of God? Is he the only one calling the shots of His own life?

I find myself trying so hard to live the perfect Christian life, trying to do such a great job that surely Jesus will think, "Wow! She's awesome!" There are things in my heart that I just have to have, things I am scared to pray about because what if they aren't God's will. 

What if God's plan stinks? What if His definition of "plans to give me a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11) differ greatly from mine? Can I trust Him to make the decisions, to call the shots?

God's Love

When I am scared to let God make the decision, I realize that I don't understand His heart for me. I think that it is like human love: selfish, fickle, imperfect. 

But God has my best interest at heart. He is concerned about my welfare. Read 1 Corinthians 13 for a deeper look at God's love. He is patient, kind, protecting, never giving up on me. He is working in me to "will and to do His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). He is working in our lives. You can remind yourself that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). 

He has invested a lot of time and energy in making something beautiful of your life. You can trust Him to have your best interests at heart.

He knows the number of hairs on my head. I love to read Psalm 139 because the Lord knows everything about me. He knit me together, He knows what I am going to say and He stays with me. I cannot flee from His Presence. 

He never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever! His Word is still true! His gospel still brings life to those who are dead in sin! He still offers hope to mankind!

The Solution

We can trust Jesus so the solution is simple. Give your life to Jesus, surrender control to Him. Agree with Him that He is the Boss, Master, Teacher, King, and Lord. 

Each morning, give Him your day. Ask Him to order your day. Each morning, give Him your life. As Him to do whatever He wants to do in and through your life. Ask Him to make His will clear through His Word, by opening and shutting doors, and through godly counsel. 

Each morning, give Him your dreams and plans. Ask Jesus to replace your dreams and plans with His own. 

If you have trouble trusting Him, meditate on God's love. Pour your heart out to Him. Ask Him to show you why you have trouble trusting Him and surrendering to Him so that you can change. 

When He reveals His plan, obey Him with gladness!

"So, what are you going to do?" I asked Derek.

"Pour my heart out to Him. Ask Him to help me surrender everything to Jesus."

"Good call," I replied. 

Meredith Curtis, pastor's wife and homeschooling mom of five amazing children, has been married to her college sweetheart, Mike Curtis for 31 years. She loves Jesus, leads worship, homeschools, writes, mentors ladies and sometimes even cooks dinner! She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, and several high school classes and Bible studies. She and Mike are founders of the Finish Well Conference, a Christian conference aimed at equipping families to disciple their children to be world changers. 

]]> (Meredith Curtis) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Talk to Your Children About the Supreme Court Ruling on 'Gay Marriage'

If you've seen any of the articles online about the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, you've probably sensed the issue is emotionally charged. People are so happy. And others are so mad. This is a critical time for the church and for Christian parents. What should we do in light of this ruling?

Things are getting confusing. We've put our heads together at Generations of Virtue to give three ways parents can respond and help their children navigate this confusing time.

1. Talk to your kids about homosexuality. If you haven't explained homosexuality to your children and they are at an age where they are starting to key in to all the hype in the media (and possibly among their peer groups), now is the time. This is your opportunity to communicate what God's Word says about homosexuality.

Our kids need to hear the truth from God's Word about this lifestyle. Some key verses to start with include Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Romans 1:26-28. Another point you might consider making with your children is that even though the Supreme Court made the choice to legalize gay marriage, it does not mean that this was the right choice. It's an unfortunate truth we have to share with our children, but governments and rulers don't always make the right choices (shocking, I know).

Finally, tell your children the truth about the differences between men and women and why God designed a family to be a man, a woman and children. (I'll list some resources below to help with this discussion). It helps children to know this truth from a young age given all the press in our media trying to convince them of the virtues of alternative lifestyles.

2. Show your children how to show the love of Christ to gay people. We should take a lot of comfort in the fact that it's not our job to judge people. When I was in university, I took a job where my immediate superior was another student who identified himself as a homosexual.

I asked the Lord how I should interact with my new boss. He told me to be his friend and to respect the authority of his position. I did that. I became his friend and we got along wonderfully.

The truth was, he was really good at his job, and it was easy to follow his lead because he was doing a great job. I don't think we should be afraid of befriending homosexuals or teaching our children how to befriend them in healthy and beneficial ways. It's true that we need to be careful and you should discuss with your spouse what kind of policy you will have with your family and befriending homosexuals (for example, leaving your children alone with them), but don't let fear steal a chance to show a homosexual Christ's love.

The truth is, homosexuals are hurting people who need the truth of the gospel. They are living a lifestyle of sexual immorality—the consequences of which are devastating. At the same time, I know many heterosexual Christians who are living in a similar state of sexual immorality, and as the church we embrace them.

3. Don't be intimidated. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of emotional hype in the media right now concerning this decision. Don't let it take you for a ride.

Keep calm and parent on. The truth is, God is on His throne and He still calls the shots. A couple months ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Brown speak in Singapore. He had a great insight about the LGBT agenda in the U.S. As a way of paraphrase, he said we shouldn't fear the separation that will come between the people who interpret the Scripture (about homosexuality) through the lens of culture and those who will follow God's Word in spirit and in truth.

There is some separation happening in the church right now. Which side do you want your family to end up on? Finally, don't let the enemy intimidate you by the Supreme Court's decision. Instead of responding in fear, take this opportunity to ask the Lord how to respond. And finally, speak to your children.

Help them to know the truth of God's Word and what He has to say about homosexuality. Let them know the truth and let the truth set them free from all the confusion encapsulating this issue. To quote Rick Warren, "Truth, is still truth, no matter how many people doubt it. I may deny the law of gravity, but it doesn't change gravity. And just because we break God's laws, does not invalidate them."

Don't be afraid to share the truth with your kids. Kingdoms will fall and rulings will be forgotten, but the Word of God will stand. One final thought: be prayerful as you address this issue with your children. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and answers. Ask Him how your family should respond to this ruling.

Below I've listed some articles and books I've found really helpful in discussing the issue of homosexuality in light of our current culture. I hope you find them helpful!

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet

God's Design for Sex Series by Stan and Brenna Jones (Book 3—What's the Big Deal—has a chapter specifically about homosexuality)

Focus on the Family's How to Talk to Your Kids about Homosexuality and an Interview with John Stonestreet webinar by Generations of Virtue

Short video with Dr. Michael Brown explaining the context of the Levitical scriptures.

Megan Briggs joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people. 

]]> (Megan Briggs) Featured Women Life Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
5 Keys to Angelic Intervention Through Intercession

While there is great diversity among the angelic host, each category of angels has a specific assignment and distinct attributes. But there are three primary functions listed in the Scriptures concerning all the angelic hosts.

1. According to Psalm 148:2, 5. All the angels are commissioned to praise and worship God. This is their first and most prominent ministry.

2. According to Hebrews 1:7, 14. All the angels are ministering spirits, flames of fire called to render service to those who will inherit salvation.

3.  According to Psalm 103:20-21. Angels excel in strength, obey the voice of His Word, and perform God's Word.

Having studied the Scriptures on angels for over 30 years, read over 100 books on angels, and having had numerous angelic encounters myself, I have gathered a summary of the different types of angelic activity:

1. Minister the presence of the Lord
2. Messengers pronouncing God's will
3. Release understanding in dreams and visions
4. Help to give guidance and direction
5. Bring forth deliverance
6. Release protection
7. Active at the death of the saints
8. Release supernatural strength
9. Used as God's healing agents
10. Eternally engaged in praise and worship
11. Engaged in spiritual warfare
12. Bind up demonic powers and principalities
13. Called divine watchers
14. Deeply involved in the end times as reapers and gatherers
15. Execute God's judgments

Five Keys Concerning Angelic Release

After researching this subject for years, I have found five biblical keys that together stir our faith for greater angelic activity in our lives, cities and nations.

1. Believers are co-workers with Christ. The Holy Spirit moves upon the hearts of believers with the burden of the Lord to release God's vast heavenly resources into the earth realm by the power of intercession. Prayer is man's responsibility and opportunity to put out a "welcome mat" as an invitation for divine intervention.

2. God hears and answers prayers. Prayer and intercession influence and help determine the destinies of individuals and the direction of nations. Every prayer counts! What goes up must come down!

3. There is an Innumerable company of angels available. Heaven's army of angelic hosts are waiting for their next assignment and ready to be dispatched (Unemployed Angels) Jeremiah 33:22—"As the host of heaven cannot be numbered nor the sand of the sea measured." "But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels" (Heb. 12:22).

4.   Angels are involved in both the spiritual and practical affairs of mankind. Angels are released from God's throne in heaven into the affairs of man. They are involved in all facets of life in both the spiritual and natural everyday activities of man.

5. Angels are used to deliver God's answers to man's prayers. Angels are especially utilized and involved in delivering the answers to our prayers from the throne of God. In Genesis 28, it says that angels ascend and descend. Why? Perhaps they are bringing back down the very answers to our prayers.

3 Scriptural Examples of Angelic Intervention Through Intercession

From the Life of Abraham and Lot

Gleaning from the Lessons in Genesis 18 and 19

1. From Genesis 18. Prayerful example of Abraham's intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah.

2. From Genesis 19:1. Two angels tell Lot's urgent situation.

3. From Genesis 19:11. The ungodly men outside Lot's house are stricken with blindness.

4. From Genesis 19:16. The angels lead Lot and his family out of the city before the destruction takes place. This demonstrates the compassion of God.

5. From Genesis 19:22. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until ... This shows God's desire to deliver the righteous before the judgment occurred.

6. From Genesis 19:29. God remembered Abraham. This is the key verse. What did God remember? Abraham's intercession!

From the Life of Peter and the Church

Gleaning from the Lessons in Acts 12:5 – 12

1.    From Acts 12:7-10

Peter was kept in jail, and an angel appeared to him. A light shone, woke Peter up, and the two chains which had held him fell off. He was told to "Dress yourself and put your sandals on." He then passed by two guards, the iron gate to the prison opened, and he went out into the street as the angel departed.

2. From Acts 12:11-12. Next, Peter went to the house of John Mark's mother where many had gathered to pray for him. A young woman named Rhoda came to door. She knew Peter's voice and went to tell the others, "You are insane" was their response. "It is his angel."

Peter kept on knocking. They went to the door, and opening it, were amazed. It really was Peter! This caused such excitement that Peter had to admonish them to calm down and not be so noisy in their excitement to see him delivered out of the hand of Herod and those Jewish authorities who had sought to end his life. Peter told them to inform James and the other apostles that he was alright after all. When the matter become known to the wicked king, he demanded the lives of the jail keepers as punishment that they had somehow managed to allow Peter to escape.

3. From Acts 12:5-12. The emphasis is on verses 5 and 12. What was the church doing before the angel was released? Praying fervently! Thus we have another example of angelic intervention as a result of man's intercession.

From the Life of Daniel 

Gleaning from the Lessons of Daniel 9 and 10

1. From Daniel 9:20-23. "While I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, indeed, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. He informed me and talked with me, and said, 'Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved. Therefore understand the matter and consider the vision.'"

2. From Daniel 10:12-14. "Then he said to me, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. For from the first day that you set your heart to understand this and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days. For the vision is yet for many days."

3. From Daniel 10:20-21. "Then he said, "Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. "However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince."

Now It's Time to Pray!

The Release of Angelic Intervention

"Lord, we declare that heaven's arsenal is waiting to be released in response to man's invitation! So we lift our voices together and we ask that you release Messenger Angels to our cities and nations. We ask for the Guardian Angels to be released to protect our lives and families. We call for the Warrior Angels to come and fight against the powers of darkness hindering the Gospel of the Kingdom from manifesting in our regions. We welcome the angelic host to do the bidding of our Father and we partner together for Angelic Intervention for such a time as this in Jesus Great Name! Amen and Amen!"

Yes, it is true! Angelic intervention is released in response to man's intercession. It is time to intercede! Let heaven's angelic army be released into the affairs of man as a result of our invitation through prayer!

Dr. James Goll is the Founder of Encounters Network, Prayer Storm and helps carry on the work of Compassion Acts. For information on his online school visit: James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today. 

For the original article, visit

]]> (James W. Goll ) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Struggling With Jealousy? This Truth Will Set You Free

I had an encounter with the Lord where I saw the spirit of jealousy running rampant through the body of Christ across the world. As I looked closer at this "spirit," I saw that it had large eyes and the eyes were looking for areas in the hearts of believers where the truth of their sonship had not taken deep root. Areas where there were "chinks" in the armor of identity. 

As this 'spirit' made its way through the body of Christ and found these "chinks" where lies of identity had taken root, this spirit of jealousy "sat down" and began to whisper lies to the people of God that "there is NOT enough for everyone." Stirring lies into the minds of many of God's people that if one is promoted or receives a breakthrough, there is nothing left over for them. Lies about being forgotten by God. Lies about God not working for them, for their best. Attacking the very nature of God's goodness and kindness, and leaving many with the sense of being "left behind."

As this 'spirit' spoke these lies, if the people of God agreed with these lies, seeds were placed in the hearts of believers that began to see jealousy towards others begin to manifest. 

The scene then changed and I saw a table before me and this table was HUGE. It had a beautiful purple tablecloth over it, and the room was pregnant with the word "ROYALTY." That we are His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) Upon this table, I saw new anointing, mantles, giftings and scepters of favor that belonged to EVERY PERSON in the body of Christ. Many had come and picked up the giftings, mantles, scepters and anointings that the Lord was releasing. But then I saw those who have been struggling with this spirit of jealousy having their giftings, anointing for the season, mantles and sceptres of favor STOLEN by this spirit of jealousy. It had come to steal, to kill, to destroy and divide the people of God.

A sense of urgency and the feeling of this being a "pivotal" moment/season in the body of Christ surrounded me. I was overwhelmed by the heart of God to lead His people deeper into the revelation of their sonship, awaken them to the TRUTH of who they are, and release upon them all the GLORIOUS opportunities, mantles, anointing, giftings and sceptres of favor for this season, but their 'alignment' with the spirit of jealousy was getting in the way. 

I then saw Jesus, and He stood before them with such compassion, love and tenderness in His eyes, and He spoke. "Come here, let Me hold you. Let Me lavish My love upon you. Move forward in repentance of aligning yourself with the lies from the accuser, move forward in repentance for aligning yourself with the spirit of jealousy, and accept My invitation into deeper glorious encounters with Me to SEE who you are. Love is melting away all fear and insecurity. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. I adore you!"

The key was moving forward in repentance and aligning themselves again with His truth, taking thoughts captive and a shift was taking place in the depths of their hearts and souls. Many of God's people were about to SEE just how GLORIOUS God's plans were for their lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and move forward in joy and confidence taking back ALL that was stolen from them. 

There was no condemnation, just a complete atmosphere of love. The heart of God beating with a longing to reveal to His people who they are. In these encounters, the revelation of their identity would flood in, releasing the people of God to FULLY be THEMSELVES and to pick up everything that the Lord has for them. I felt the excitement of God's heart in my spirit that as the people of God align themselves with Him as His truth, they are going to see themselves like they have never seen themselves before. A deeper healing, a deeper wholeness and a deeper awakening to their sonship and the hold the spirit of jealousy had was being BROKEN in Jesus name. 

The spirit of jealousy has been bringing great destruction upon the body of Christ in many ways, but the Lord in His great love is uncovering the plans of the enemy, and this spirit to bring FREEDOM and a new level of CELEBRATION to His body.

There is More Than Enough

I then saw Jesus standing before a HUGE banqueting table. I noticed that each chair had a name on it, each person had their place, and they were to take their place and not the place of another. Before them was SO MUCH abundance,. This table was ABUNDANT. With a HUGE smile on His face, He stretched out His arms, and said "THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE."

Instantly the room was heavy with His presence and love and each person in the room hearing the same message in their hearts without hearing audible words. "Because of My sacrifice for you, there is MORE THAN ENOUGH. I have given you ABUNDANCE, so you may be an ABUNDANT FLOW. Insecurity, insignificance, jealousy, competition is breaking, in the revelation of WHO YOU ARE.

As the people of God took their seats, and their hearts were crying out "Release to me Lord, ALL that was stolen through this spirit", I saw the Lord releasing anointing, mantles, giftings, scepters of favor and so much more. There were HUGE platters of fruit, the most beautiful glorious fruit, and instantly I knew it represented revelation from the heart of God. The more they took their position and ate of this glorious fruit, the bigger their hearts got in revelation of the love of God and love of others. 

I then saw a beautiful thing take place. ... many began to get up from their seats and begin to share the fruit of revelation they were receiving through their giftings, scepters of favor, anointing and mantles. There was a willingness to "release what I have been given to bless you."

The more they gave away, the more their received. There were HUGE heart shifts taking place and I heard the shrieks of the demonic realm as they began to lose their hold. The body of Christ moving into deeper unity, deeper honor of one another and deeper celebration of each other.


All across the body of Christ, I began to see many of God's people rising up in confidence of who they were and they began APPLAUDING those around them who were being promoted, who were moving into greater favor and greater breakthrough. The applause was LOUD and they were joining in with the APPLAUSE of heaven. As they were applauding and rejoicing with another in their victory and breakthrough, I saw those applauding, suddenly positioned for great breakthrough and positioned for "more." 

The heart of God is to bring His people together, closer together, where a culture of honor across the body of Christ is thriving. Where the orphan spirit and spirit of jealousy is broken. Where we champion others. Where we love others well. As we align ourselves with Him, and His truth about us, some of the greatest encounters concerning the truth of our identity are upon us. 

We all need to examine our hearts in the beautiful light of His presence.

Can I encourage you? 

If you have been struggling with jealousy, "what about me?," "why are they being promoted and I'm left behind? They received what I am contending for?" and you are feeling those lies creep in that "there is not enough for everyone." Those feelings of jealousy creeping in and feeling that 'spirit' trying to take a hold ... First of all, do NOT be condemned. The Lord is revealing the attack of this 'spirit' across the body of Christ to bring greater freedom, lead His people into greater encounters with His love, and move His people into the GLORIOUS PLANS that He has for them. 

Go before the Lord and let Him hold you. Move forward in repentance and position yourself by asking Him for greater encounters with His love and awakening to the truth of who you are. They are UPON YOU NOW! You are not moving backwards. You are moving FORWARDS! The anointing, mantles, scepters of favor and giftings that have been stolen from you WILL be given back to you as you ask the Lord to release them to you. You will take back all that was stolen from you as you move into the revelation of who you are and your authority. 

Cutting ties with this 'spirit of jealousy' is moving you into some of the greatest realms of encounter, favor and opportunity we have known as the body of Christ. As we move forward obeying His voice, leaning in and making a choice to NOT align ourselves with this 'spirit of jealousy', one of the greatest shifts in the body of Christ is about to take place. A shift into LOVE, TRUE IDENTITY, CELEBRATION and HONOR. 

There is MORE THAN ENOUGH for you!!! He is giving you ABUNDANCE so you can be an ABUNDANT FLOW!!!!!!!!!

Lana Vawser has a heart to encourage the body of Christ and individuals in their walks with Jesus, deeper intimacy with Him, and learning to hear His voice. She operates in the prophetic and loves to share the heart of God with others. Lana has written her first book, titled Desperately Deep—Developing Deep Devotion and Dialogue with Jesus, and loves to see others grow in all that God has for them. For more information, visit, or her Facebook page here.

]]> (Lana Vawser ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
6 Earmarks of a Modern-Day Esther

As we meditate on the present state of affairs in our nation and world, no biblical passage should come to mind any more readily than the story of Esther. It was a critical time for God's people then, and so it is now—politically, monetarily, socially and spiritually.

Read Mordecai's exhortation to his niece, who had just been appointed as queen:

"Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, 'Do not think that in the king's palace you will be more likely to escape than all the other Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, protection and deliverance for the Jews will be ordained from some other place, but you and your father's house shall be destroyed. And who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?'" (Esth. 4:13-14)

Unchecked, Haman's plan would have spelled destruction for the Jews. In like manner, left unopposed, there are certain dark forces and evil agendas converging on this generation that could bring destruction—on Israel, on the United States of America and on the New Covenant people of God all over the world. Too many believers are satisfied to just enjoy living in "the King's palace": accessing for their own benefit the royal heritage we have received in Christ. However, there are other Esther-like individuals who feel the weight of responsibility, who know the importance of their calling and who are willing to rise up and fight the good fight of faith.

Esther was the primary catalyst for change and rescue in her day; only God knows what elect persons are primary 'catalysts' for revival and spiritual awakening in this hour. But surely the six determining factors that lifted that Jewess from obscurity to prominence will be evidenced as well in any modern-day oracles that answer the call to be world changers and history makers.

1.  Esther was virtuous—If she had not valued her "virginity," she never would have qualified as a replacement for Queen Vashti. So those who will be used mightily of God in this hour must hold virtue, integrity and holiness in high esteem—walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

2.  Esther had a mentor—Mordecai, Esther's uncle, adopted her and trained her for many years in the things of God. It was his passion to see truth expressed through her life. In like manner, any person who flows effectively in the power of God normally has a mentor standing somewhere in the shadows. Elisha could point to Elijah. Joshua could point to Moses. Timothy could point to Paul. And so the prophets and prophetesses of this hour can point to the previous generation of men and women of God who held the torch high for us.

3.  Esther was willing to leave her 'comfort zone'—Esther could have remained silent and simply tried to just save her own life. But she was willing to endanger herself for the cause of righteousness and the good of others. So we can just try to live comfortable lives, enjoying the Biblical revelation we have received for our own benefit—or we can step out of our comfort zones to help an endangered world and to advance the cause of the kingdom of God. Remember, as Edmund Burke said:

 "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

4.  Esther mobilized others—Esther knew that she needed to mobilize all of God's people to be a success. She called God's people to a three day fast. So great ministry leaders still understand the 'big picture'—the greater potential for success that comes when large teams of like-minded believers are mobilized to accomplish great purposes. Remember the acronym for TEAM—Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

5. Esther was willing to take a risk—Even though it was not lawful for her to approach the King Ahasuerus without an invitation, she said, "If I perish, I perish..." She laid her life on the line. So God is searching the world over for those who are willing to risk it all in order to fulfill God's purposes, thwart enemy plans and see their full potential awakened.

6. Esther was part of a plan—Most importantly, Esther (which means "star") was part of a plan, a divinely ordained blueprint for triumph that existed in the heart of God long before she was ever born. So also, the Bible says that God has "saved us and called us with a holy calling, not by our works, but by His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9).

So pray. Seek God. Find your ordination. Do your part. Step into your destiny. And we will find out once again, that even in times of darkness, there are believers who are chosen to "arise" and "shine." (Is. 60:1) Remember, they that "turn the many to righteousness" shall shine "as the stars forever and ever" (Dan. 12:3). It may be a dark night, but God has some more "Esthers"—heaven's "stars"—who are waiting in the wings.

"Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Mike Shreve has served as an evangelist for forty-five years. He  pastors The SANCTUARY in Cleveland, Tennessee. He is an author of 13 books, including the best-selling Charisma House title, 65 Promises from God for Your Child.

]]> (Mike Shreve) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 29 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Will the 'Sleeping Giant' Wake Up?

When Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn's book The Harbinger hit the New York Times best-seller list the week it released in print, I believe the sleeping giant called the church started waking up.

A prophetic warning to the American masses about God's impending judgment on the nation, The Harbinger connects undeniable dots between what has happened in the United States since the terrorist attacks in 2001—including a housing market bust and banking industry collapse that led to a $700 billion government bailout to prop up financial institutions and auto manufacturers—and Israel's fate after it turned away from Jehovah God. Although written as a fictional narrative, the book details how nine signs hidden in recent events reveal God's progressive judgment on America.

Here's the message in a nutshell: Cahn believes the Holy Spirit showed him that events such as 9/11, the collapse of Wall Street, and the Great Recession occurred because God lifted some of His hedge of protection from around America. He is certain God is trying to get our attention. He is convinced that God is warning the nation to turn back to Him and used nine harbingers, or prophetic signs, to shake us up and wake us up. The Harbinger may anger some; it may scare others. It caused some to fall to their knees in repentance, and it caused others to cry out in intercession.

The release of The Harbinger is what you could call a "kairos moment"—a supreme moment in time when God sent a prophet with a "you need to hear this and repent" message to America. Notice I say "to America"—not just the church in America. Cahn's message about an ancient mystery that holds the secret to America's future transcended the Christian market to become a mainstream phenomenon that, at the time of this writing, is still on the New York Times best-seller list nearly three years later.

The book—and the clear proof of God's discipline on our nation—changed my theology. Until 2012 I did not believe God sent judgment on nations in the New Testament age. I reasoned that if God was going to judge any nation, He would start with places like the Netherlands, with cities like Amsterdam and its infamous Red Light District that hosts all manner of immorality. But the founders of the Netherlands didn't make and break a covenant with God.

I believe America as a nation is reaping what we've sown. I believe that where there is unfettered sin, there is ultimately death (Rom. 6:23). And although some rightly argue that many nations are more sinful and anti-God than the United States, consider this: to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). As a world power, the United States has done much good. But our nation's Christian foundations are shaking. The seven major influencers of our society—the economy, government, family, spirituality, education, media and arts—are shaping an idolatrous New Age culture.

I submit to you that our nation is in natural and spiritual crisis, and it will take a divine intervention to avert disaster. Although "man" can't solve the problems in our nation, electing leaders who will guide the United States using biblical principles rather than those who defy biblical principles in the name of change speaks volumes to heaven. Politicians can't fix what's broken, but politicians who pray to the One who can will receive His wisdom to right the ship.

If we don't make a drastic shift in this nation, I believe there's no way to escape God's judgment. Billy Graham's late wife, Ruth, once said, "If God doesn't judge America He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." Again, I never wanted to believe that. But now I do. I can see it. God has moved some of our hedge of protection because He loves us and hopes we'll wake up. We haven't woken up yet—but clearly there is an awakening afoot.

There is hope for America. The church—"sleeping giant"—needs to wake up. If the church were being the church, we wouldn't have so many problems in our nation. The church looks, thinks, and acts too much like the world. Christians are having abortions. Christians are committing adultery. Christians are fornicating. Christians are getting divorced. Lord, help us!

I believe time is short for America to repent before we see stronger manifestations of God's discipline on this nation, but at the same time I have never been more hopeful. I believe that we are on a cusp of a Third Great Awakening even now.

Let's wake up to the realities our nation is facing, but let it also fill you with hope, and let that hope give substance to your faith to pray and take action as you agree with God's plan for America to wake up in this hour. 

Great-Move-GodAdapted from The Next Great Move of God by Jennifer LeClaire, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. Even as America is in a spiritual crisis and on the verge of God's judgment, there is an appeal to heaven for a Third Great Awakening; a revival like no other and a turning back to God as never before. Pockets of revival are breaking out across the country. This book serves as a means to fan the fires of revival and to equip you to sustain it. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of June 29, 2015

As you prepare to celebrate Independence Day the end of this week, and amid all the festivities, cookouts, fellowship with friends, family and fireworks, pray for America. Pray for our leaders and ask God to raise up more godly leaders to fill upcoming vacancies through the election process. Pray for the families that lost loved ones through violent crimes. Pray that revival would sweep the nation and eradicate all forms of hate except that which perpetuates ungodliness. Remember Israel and the persecuted church, and ask the Lord to use you to help fulfill His purposes in these last days (Rom. 6:23; Luke 12:48; 1 Tim 2:1-4).

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 28 Jun 2015 22:00:00 -0400
Can You Imagine a Muslim Same-Sex Wedding?

The free will God has given to man has led to the inevitable. Same-sex marriage is now the law of the land in the United States thanks to a 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court, making June 26, 2015, a red-letter, landmark day in American history.

By Friday's ruling, all states are now required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and all 50 states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in all other states. The 14 states that had not been forced to succumb to "societal progress" must now do so — by law.

Is anyone surprised? You shouldn't be. When the government removed prayer from public schools in 1962, people have said that was a shock (I was not yet born.) With the way society has deteriorated over the past 20 to 30 years, I don't believe this was a fresh revelation for anyone.

With the ruling, it is likely that sometime in the near future Christian churches will be forced — by law — to open up their doors for same-sex weddings.

But imagine this: By law, if Christian churches are subject to said edict, then so are Jewish temples. And Hindu temples. Oh, and, yes, Islamic mosques.

At least that would be logical. But since when has the U.S. government shown much logic?

Can you even, by the wildest stretch of the imagination, picture a gay Muslim couple saying their vows inside one of their holy mosques? You think Muhammad is turning over in his grave right now?

No, you can't imagine a gay Muslim couple exchanging wedding vows in a mosque. And why? It's because their ideals simply won't allow it to happen. The Quran Surah 4:15 says, "If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four reliable witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them."

The Quran Surah 4:16 says, "If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both."

The Quran Surah 26:165-166 says, "Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males...and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing" all limits.

The Quran Sahih Bukhari, Book 72, Volume 7, Number 774 says, "The prophet cursed effeminate men (those men who are in the similitude – assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, 'Turn them out of your houses.'"

But then who cares what the Quran says, right? The Quran isn't a threat to the American way of life, only the Christian Bible. Islam and its hatred of homosexuality isn't a threat to the American way of life, only Christianity and its "haters." (Please hear that I have more than a hint of sarcasm here.)

The gay agenda goes after Muslims for not allowing same-sex marriages in mosques. Now that's a headline I'd like to see. But again, that won't happen. I wonder why.

I know what many may be thinking: He's just another conservative Christian radical who hates gay people. If that's what's on your mind, you're not even close. Check out this article and this one I wrote for Those articles represent my feelings on the subject.

It's called compassion without compromise – love without compromising God's Word. It can be done.

But don't think for a second that the Muslim world is going to jump on the same-sex marriage bandwagon. Islam's feelings on the subject are quite clear. (See the Quran's passages above.) What's incredible is that it's one thing that Muslims and Christians can agree on. It's just that Islam takes it to a whole different level when it comes with how to deal with homosexuality – a level no Christian would ever endorse.

That's why I don't believe you will ever see a gay couple marry in mosque, even if it is the law. Muslims simply won't stand for it. Whatever their convictions, standing up for your beliefs is a noble sentiment.

Christians should develop the same attitude, and some, like Grace International Ministries and Churches President Steve Riggle have already expressed it.

"We affirm our love for all people, including those struggling with same-sex attraction," Riggle said. "However, we cannot and will not affirm the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior or any behavior that deviates from God's design for marriage. Grace Church and our related churches will not recognize same-sex "marriages," will not host same-sex ceremonies of any kind, and we will not perform such ceremonies. We will never capitulate to any mandate by the state to accept and normalize what God calls unacceptable and unnatural."

Hallelujah, and amen. 

Can you imagine Christians and Muslims standing together for the same cause? How about Jews and Hindus, Christians and Muslims? Wouldn't that be something?

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Culture Life Sat, 27 Jun 2015 12:45:00 -0400
What Women Crave

With 232 million people using Twitter every month and more than 1.3 billion people on Facebook last year, it's safe to say we live in an incredibly "connected" world. Yet with hundreds of friends and loved ones just a click away on social media or a text away on the phone, why do so many women feel isolated and alone? With ladies longing for meaningful connections to help them grow in their faith and find emotional wholeness, now is the perfect time for Pamela Havey Lau's new book, A Friend in Me: How to Be a Safe Haven for Other Women.

Women today also crave relational connection with women who are further ahead of them on their journey. So many want mentors, guides and role models to whom they can bring their accomplishments and failures to feel affirmed, mutually respected and understood. In A Friend in Me, Lau shows women how to be a safe place for those who are in earlier stages of life than they are, teaching them habits for strengthening bonds such as offering comfort, acting with understanding and relating with compassion.

Q: You say the themes in A Friend in Me have been forming in you for your entire adult life. Can you tell us more about that?

When I was in my early 20s, I had an insatiable desire to understand spiritual things but felt trapped by what I read and saw in Christian media and the church. My own family fell apart when I was a teenager, so in many ways my early adult years were a time of healing. I couldn't find examples of women I could identify with. It was tempting to become spiritually independent.

I even used my graduate thesis project to explore this journey by looking at mediated images of women. What opened my heart and mind fully to the things of God was deeper relationships with key women along the way. Certain women's relationship with me and their ways of being close to me softened my heart toward the kingdom, to the real person of Jesus Christ. This was particularly true in my early adult years as my faith was becoming more of my own.

The ones, however, who made the biggest impact on my faith were women who didn't compartmentalize my vocation or my personal life but related Christ to the whole of who I was. Through these relationships I discovered that coming from a broken home, being single or married, becoming a mother, being a working woman or leaving my career, experiencing painful losses, enjoying successes—none of these things were more powerful than my identity in Christ. 

Q: How have social media and technology both helped and hindered intimate friendships?

Overall, it seems social media keeps us connected to people we wouldn't normally reach out to, especially people from our past. Research shows that high use of Facebook can cause depression among women. My friends tell me that Facebook makes them jealous or brings up a fear of missing out faster than anything else. Does that mean social media outlets are evil? No. It just means that's what really is in our hearts. The question becomes are we prepared to do what we need to do to keep our hearts clean when using all kinds of media? It's like we're on fast-forward relationally, and not much else kills intimacy in friendship than comparing, jealousy or feeling left out.

I love Skype and FaceTime because many of my intimate friends are around the nation and the world. Once a week, my friend and I dialogue about NT Wright's latest Bible study via Skype. It's like we are sitting together in my living room. In our case, technology has absolutely helped our friendship as our time together doesn't require traffic jams, long drives or finding places to meet. Texting is an amazing device to send/receive prayer requests or to just check in with someone.

Texting can be toxic when it's used for solving conflict. Relying solely on texting can create misunderstandings. No amount of emoji can replace human facial expression. As much as I can, I try to meet someone in person, talk on the phone or use Skype. If that's not possible, I move to text or social media.

Q: Tell us what personal tragedy caused you to realize finally how deeply you needed to be in close relationships with other women?

The day before our third wedding anniversary, my brother-in-law and his fiancée were killed in a head-on collision on their way home from visiting family in Oklahoma. I write about it more extensively in the book, but I realized after six months of drowning in grief how much I needed constant support and input as I walked through suffering with my young husband. Even more, I needed to hear how women got to the other side of their suffering. The only way I could ever know stories like that was by truly knowing them, not just hearing about them.

 Q: What would you say is the primary factor that holds women back from truly loving other women?

Obviously, each woman is unique in her growing-up years, her make-up and her relational needs. First, I would say it's a spiritual battle; the enemy wants women divided and distanced from one another. If I could identify the primary factor that holds women back from truly loving other women, it would be safety.

When an agenda is introduced into the relationship, hearts begin to shrink. Increasingly, women's relationships are not safe places for other women to find rest, encouragement, motivation, prayer and support. We don't need to be uniformly like-minded to have another woman's back. Having someone who is for her with no strings attached—that's the sense she wants and needs from other women so she can let her guard down, receive some ministry and hear from God.

For some women, loving other women well has never been modeled for them, and that's a problem as the next generation is watching us to see how beautiful, loving, life-giving relationships are formed.

Q: What are some practical steps women can take to start and form deep friendships? 

First of all, ask yourself if you sense a need for deeper connections. If you can answer that with an honest affirmation, then the next step is to pray and ask God for what you need. While you are praying, learn to initiate. Initiating with another woman feels risky because we all know the "Hey, let's get together some time" routine, and it doesn't ever happen. The more women initiate with one another and follow through, the greater the chances are of making a lasting a connection. See initiating as planting seeds, and watch your crop grow.

When you finally get together, the two most important steps you can take is to ask good questions and listen. Madeleine L'Engle once said something like this: If more of us had a friend whom we could share our deepest selves with, there wouldn't be a need for professional counselors. I'm not suggesting we don't need professional mental health care - we do! Nevertheless, many of our struggles and problems could be ironed out with the care and concern of close friends. 

Does that mean friendship exists only to serve as a sounding board? Absolutely not! And that's the art of true friendship - to enjoy one another, have fun, celebrate the good, share life and shopping and insights.  And when the suffering times come - which they always do - mourn with those who mourn.  Learn to comfort, to show up at midnight when the phone rings, to pray for your friend.

Q: Many women are wary of being vulnerable with other women because they've been burned in the past. What are ways women can make sure they're safe havens for others?

The more women can become humble in their relationships, the greater the chances are of becoming a safe haven for other women. Two areas women are longing for more vulnerability from other women are in vocation and sexuality. I've discovered it's in these two areas in which we can easily feel miserable because not enough of us are talking about them safely. Once we've determined to put aside any agenda to fix another woman, she can open up to us. As long as we remember her number-one identity is in Christ and not in an image we want her to have, we can lessen the chances of "burning" her. I think that goes both ways.

I devoted an entire chapter to sexuality. After years of working with college students, I saw the damage we can create when we don't talk openly about sex. Christian women across the globe can become safe havens for others as they swallow their wrong attitudes and fears about sex and listen to what other women need to ask or say. No matter our beliefs on homosexuality, pornography or other sexual issues, we must develop a grit and vocabulary to have these conversations. Why would we want the culture to have a stronger voice than the church?

Q: What is your prayer for your readers as they dig into A Friend in Me?

I'm praying for a movement around the globe for women to find satisfaction, healing and safety in closer relationships with the women God has placed in their lives. For the believing women who are silently suffering from depression, anger or hard to share emotions, I am praying for them to find a safe haven so they can be ministered to. From that movement, I'm praying for women who don't know Jesus Christ to look on and say, "I want that! I want the kind of relationships those women are having!" My prayer is that as they examine what other women have, they will see the merciful, forgiving, compassionate, comforting love of God. 

Learn more about Pamela Havey Lau and A Friend in Me at, on Facebook (pamela.h.lau) or by following her on Twitter (@pamelahaveylau). 

]]> (Audra Jennings) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
It's Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

By now everyone has heard the bad news: The U.S. Supreme court in a 5-4 decision has legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The good news is that finally Christians must stand up and be counted. Not only that, but we must resist this spiritual attack with the power of the Holy Spirit and believe that somehow something good will come out of this terrible decision.

Marriage has been under attack for decades. Divorce. Couples living together. A growing acceptance of homosexuality. And an acceptance by many of every sort of sexual behavior.

But this is different in that the Supreme Court has, as the Family Research Council said, "put our government on a collision course with America's cherished religious freedoms, explicitly guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution."

As Christian journalists, we will vigorously cover this story over the upcoming months and years. We will report on who is standing strong and who is caving in. We will not compromise what God's Word says and will do everything in our power to galvanize the church to uphold biblical principles regarding marriage and holy living.

The danger is that many Christians will be silent as they were when prayer was taken out of the schools, or even when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. Back then it was mostly Roman Catholics who were publically opposed to abortion. Evangelicals only began to oppose abortion later.

This time many are saying that if necessary we will resort to civil disobedience—deciding to follow God's law rather than man's.

Within minutes of the Supreme Court announcement, leaders were issuing statements. For example, 100 evangelical leaders issued this, "Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage," saying "As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court's ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family and should not try to recreate the family in its own image."

Samuel Rodriguez, the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said the "decision redefining marriage serves as a de facto and legal catalyst of the marginalization of Americans who embrace a biblical worldview."

Bishop Joseph Mattera issued a statement on five things churches should immediately do to protect themselves from the Supreme Court "same-sex" marriage law, concluding that "if all else fails and the courts eventually override church bylaws, then the only alternative left will be for biblically based clergy to engage in civil disobedience and refuse to comply with the law—irrespective of the penalties, consequences and cultural stigma they will receive."

Even as I'm writing this, I'm getting statements from presidential candidates like Rick Santorum, who said: "This court ruling is the Roe v. Wade of the 21st century. It's an attack on religious freedom, an affront to the religious liberty of millions of Americans and a threat to the stability of our families. As president, I will do all within my power to overturn it."

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee pledged to "pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman."

We must also work with the many politicians who are outraged by this decision and who agree with the four Supreme Court Justices who dissented. We must have laws passed that protect our ability to "opt out." With some of the other wrong Supreme Court decisions, we as believers could opt out.  For example, there is nothing demanding that a Christian woman get an abortion or that a Christian doctor perform abortion.

But as we've already seen, Christian business people who make wedding cakes or arrange flowers for weddings have been fined for not doing business with same-sex couples. Will churches be forced to perform same-sex weddings, even for non-members?

I believe, like Mattera said, this will remove the wheat from the chaff. It will make Christians decide what they will or won't go along with. Like the pastors who defied the IRS for taking away their tax-exempt status for preaching about politics on a certain Sunday, I believe the government will back down if we stand strong. If not, we must stand strong anyway.

At the same time, we must have a Christlike spirit. To quote Rodriguez, we must reject and repudiate all vestiges of homophobia, intolerance and bigotry (toward the LGBT community) while simultaneously building a firewall against intolerance and bigotry toward followers of Christ who preach truth with love."

Most of those who have issued statements have been from the conservative branch of the evangelical community. I call on every Pentecostal denomination, every charismatic parachurch ministry and virtually every church to issue statements stating their positions. We invite leaders, pastors and ordinary Christians to write commentaries on what must be done. Send them, and we will publish as many as we feel should be published.

It's time to stand up and be counted.

Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook stephenestrang.

]]> (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:10:00 -0400
How Can Your Words Release the Spirit of Revival?

This word is for parents and pastors, for youth leaders and young adults alike. No one is off limits, as we all have a responsibility to see revival continue from generation to generation!

After all, it has always been God's sovereign design that His kingdom should increase until the Last Day.

"Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end" (Is. 9:7).

The question: How do we participate in the increase of God's kingdom on earth?

The answer: Identify the biblical KEY that will release faith to future generations.

The Key to Releasing Faith for Future Generations 

As the Holy Spirit continues to increase His activity, we must be intentional about thinking multi-generationally. In other words, every healing, miracle, breakthrough and reversed impossible situation that we witness today needs to become a story that we share and a testimony we transfer. I am convinced that tomorrow's outpouring is wrapped up in today's answered prayer. The key is stewardship of the stories and testimonies of God's supernatural power.

Are we going to be like the good and faithful servant who invests the talents ... and watches the kingdom increase (Matt. 25:19-23), or are we the wicked and lazy servant (Matt. 25:24-30) who digs a hole, selfishly buries our blessing—in other words, makes it all about us, our comfort and our happy life)—and shuts our mouth ... when in fact, the very words that our mouths can release possess the supernatural power to ignite faith for future generations?

Your Mouth: The Womb of Revival

Your mouth is actually the womb of revival, as your words release testimonies that ignite faith ... in both the present and for the future.

"One generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts" (Ps. 145:4).

Teaching the Word of God is important, but we are not living in a famine of teaching; we are in a famine of testimony. You've got world-class Bible teachers on Christian and secular TV stations. You've got bookstores overflowing with the latest best-selling Christian books. You've got music, digital downloads, millions of hours of teaching available on the Internet at your disposable, live streaming and the list goes on.

And yet the Bible was never meant simply to be taught, for people can be taught right into dead orthodoxy. People can be taught into stagnancy. People can be educated out of encounter. People can be theologized into theory. People can actually replace the Presence of God with the principles of His Word. Are the principles necessary? Absolutely. However, the principles were also meant to be married to the Presence.

This is what the Apostle Paul was saying to the Corinthians: "For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6). Bible + Holy Spirit = God's Divine Design. I repeat, our problem is not lack of teaching—even for youth and young adults. Entire programs, Bible studies, ministries and courses have been created with them in mind.

My question is: Are they encountering the One they are learning about?

If anyone knew something about sharing testimony multi-generationally it was King David. One could argue that Solomon's reign and rule represent the fruit of David's psalms, since his writings unveil his heart after God and posture before the Lord.

Could it be that David, in spite of his flaws and hang-ups, created such a culture of praise—where the works of God were discussed, celebrated and proclaimed—that Solomon's very development as a child, young man and, ultimately, his adult life were shaped by stories of God's supernatural power?

Result: Solomon ushered the people of God into a glorious golden age of reformation and transformation.

Speak Up ... and Create Your Lasting Legacy!

Could it be that tomorrow's reformation and transformation are hidden in the answered prayers of today? The key is learning how to steward YOUR breakthrough so THEY can experience the God revealed through your breakthrough.

We all want meaning and purpose, right? We all desire to leave behind a lasting legacy. I understand there are multiple dimensions to this, but one of the most important is our personal histories with God. Our stories and testimonies can outlive us.

Think of those leaders in the last hundred-plus years whose lives of supernatural power still cause generations today to hunger for the move of God: John G. Lake, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Smith Wigglesworth, Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts and John Wimber, to name a handful. Their stories live on, even though they are now watching down from Heaven's great cloud of witnesses, calling us forward! 

Could it be that you sharing your stories of God's miraculous healing power or deliverance from addiction or supernatural marriage restoration could shape how the next generation sees and interacts with God? Your stories shape the expectation level of the next generation.

If they never hear about the supernatural, they will not expect it.

If they never hear about the healing and delivering power of God, they won't press in for it.

If they never hear about the gifts of the Spirit in operation, they will not earnestly desire them.

Your Stories Will Mess People Up (In all the Right Ways)

So, what's my advice? Speak up, share your stories and create the greatest legacy imaginable! By being good stewards of what your eyes have seen God do, you get to participate in the increase of His kingdom. Think about it:

  • Your stories cause others to have supernatural faith!
  • Your stories introduce new possibilities into hopeless situations.
  • Your stories create disruption in the hearts of those who have been told "that's impossible!"
  • Your stories can cause people to keep pressing through adversity and opposition.
  • Your stories, planted in the right soil, can yield multi-generational harvests beyond your ability to comprehend.

Why? Because your stories get into people. They invade their hearts. They mess up their minds. Stories make the Bible three-dimensional. I am not talking about information that is beyond Scripture; I am talking about 21st-century stories that illustrate what is clearly present throughout the Word of God. Scripture always remains the standard for our experience and I never want to settle for anything less.

I'm no idealist; I recognize that where I presently am is not in full alignment with the biblical standard or the model of Jesus. There's no shame or guilt in this; only a divine sense of adventure and a relentless hunger to walk in every grace that Jesus' blood purchased and the Spirit's power made available.

For those of who you participated in the great revival movements of the 1990s—share the stories of how God's power broke in at Brownsville and flooded the altars with repentant sinners.

Share about the times in Toronto where people were so deeply touched by the joy of the Lord that depression, suicide and fear were broken within seconds of experiencing God's manifest presence.

Talk about those meetings where the glory of God's tangible presence was so thick that healings started to sovereignly break out across the venue.

Once again, it's all about what YOU do with what GOD has DONE! Are we going to settle for a drive-through breakthrough, or are we going to receive every miracle, every healing, every deliverance, every encounter with God and every answered prayer for what it is—a story that will reveal the reality, faithfulness, power and mighty acts of the Living God to future generations.

Larry Sparks is co-author of the new book, The Fire That Never Sleeps with Dr. Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick. He is a conference speaker, revivalist and vice president of publishing for Destiny Image. Larry travels and speaks, presenting a seminar on Igniting a Revival Lifestyle. In these sessions, he helps believers unlock dynamic keys from revival history that equip the church today to walk in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit as promised in Scripture and demonstrated throughout history. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University in Church History. Connect with Larry through Facebook).

]]> (Larry Sparks) Featured Point of Breakthrough Blogs Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Top 10 Things Not to Let Your Children Watch

Children are very easily influenced by the world around them. Television offers hours of entertainment, but it also offers a large amount of negative content to young audiences.

It is important to be mindful of what your children are watching. One option to you as a parent is parental control restrictions found on most cable and satellite providers.

When thinking about what is and is not appropriate for your children to watch, keep in mind the following top 10 things not to let your children watch:

1. Programming with bad language and violence. Children repeat things that they hear. Shelter their ears. They also mimic behavior they see. Studies have shown that after watching violent programming, children behave more aggressively directly following. TV-14 is there for a reason, be careful.

2. Nudity and sexual content. Protect their innocent little eyes from nudity and sexual content. They are too young for it and do not have the maturity to handle it. Also, you do not want to awaken sexual desires prematurely, it will open a whole load of issues to deal with as a parent.

3. Graphic scenes on crime dramas. Crime dramas are very popular right now and many children enjoy them. Some of the content is even educational. However, shield their eyes from scenes that show the victim or other gruesome scenes with the victim if you still think they should watch the program.

4. Television versions of higher-rated films. Just because a PG-13 or R-rated film was edited for a television audience, it does not mean that is appropriate for a younger audience. If the film was originally rated PG-13 or R, the content is likely not appropriate for younger audiences. Watch the opening of the movie to see what areas the higher rating was for such as violence or language. And nowadays, you even have to be careful with PG ratings.

5. Higher-rated films that you yourself have not seen. Do not watch a film that you have never seen with questionable material with your child that is rated above their age. Allowing the kids to watch just because it is more convenient for you is of poor taste. To get an idea of questionable material that may be in a recent movie, look at iMOM's Movie Monitor.

6. Adult cartoons. Animated does not mean child friendly. There are adult cartoons that are extremely inappropriate for child audiences. These cartoons often contain bad language and sexual imagery.

7. Glorifying alcohol/drug use. Alcohol and drugs can be presented to look very cool and fun without any attention given to their dangers. Avoid positive representations of alcohol and drugs since children are easily influenced. Also, explain to your children the risks and health dangers associated with the two.

8. Too many commercials. Television is saturated with commercials trying to sell you something. During children's programming, most of the commercials are targeted for children and feature toys. Their purpose is to get the kids to beg their parents to buy the toy for them. In turn, these commercials spur greediness and the desire for instant gratification.

9. Inappropriate music videos. The most popular songs of today offer at least a lyric or two that is inappropriate for younger audiences. The music videos display even more, or perhaps you should say less, because of the small amount of clothing usually any them. Some music videos are fine, but again, just be aware of what your kids are watching.

10. Too much news. It is important that your children be aware of what is going on in the world. Let them watch the news with you and discuss it with them. However, monitor the news and its images; your children do not need to know everything and all of the details. The news often contains violence and graphic images that can really upset them.

What do you do to shield your children from what they see on television?

For the original article, visit

]]> ( Staff) Featured Men Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
1 Way to Break Free of Anger, Irritability and Depression

"I always excused my poor attitude with statements such as, 'I had a bad day ... I'm under a lot of stress. I'm tired.' Ironically, I was the primary cause of my bad days, stress and fatigue."

Addiction, to caffeine, for example, often fuels angry temper tantrums and explosive outbursts. It's a powerful stimulant that fuels irritability and a quick temper (hot-headed). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders lists caffeine-related disorders such as caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder and caffeine-induced sleep disorder—all can lead to angry outbursts, severe anxiety and extreme irritability.

Don't get me wrong, as a person who once loved a few strong cups of coffee, I understand that moderation is the key. However, most can't go a few days without it, they're lucky to go a few hours. Caffeine intake in the form of energy drinks, soda, tea and coffee is highly addictive and damages health. This is one reason why we are seeing a rise in anger among Christians. Ministry is stressful. Caffeine keeps the body in a constant state of stress resulting in adrenal fatigue ... no wonder it breaks down often and why many never overcome fatigue.

Contrary to popular belief, stimulants don't actually help fatigue; they contribute to it by robbing Peter to pay Paul. The short-term results do not outweigh the long-term damage.

Granted, I don't believe that everyone will be free of anger and anxiety. We live in a very sinful world that often results in sinful attitudes; however, we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater and dismiss one catalyst for anger and anxiety—caffeine.

Poor choices in this area zaps energy and robs from life. Poor nutrition affects us negatively in several different ways. High levels of caffeine or nicotine lead to irritation, anger, impatience and anxiety ... not good qualities to possess. They are the exact opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.

As a side note, the majority of people I've counseled who damage their family through anger are often addicted to caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs and so on. Clearly, health plays a vital role in our overall attitude. When we feed the body what it needs, it will run better.  

We were created to consume living, life-sustaining, God-given foods that nourish and support a healthy body, not dead, life-depleting food from a factory. The life of the food is to be deposited into the body to support and maintain life.

If you can avoid empty foods and limit caffeine and junk food consumption, you'll be well on your way to better health. We must remove addictive substances that undermine health. I vividly remember a comment from a clinical nutritionist that motivated me, "Discontinuing caffeine intake leads to significant improvements in health ... far more than just dieting alone." He also made the connection between depression, anxiety and panic attacks to excessive caffeine.

Since caffeine runs along the same biochemical pathways in the brain as cocaine, opium and amphetamines, quitting can be a nightmare. My suggestion is to back off day by day until intake is very minimal, and use organic green tea (light caffeine) whenever possible. You'll be shocked by the results. Granted, the first week to 10 days may be torture, but it will be worth it. The withdrawal symptoms alone reveal the power of this drug. I was fascinated to read that the logo of a very popular coffee franchise represents a seductive image that allures and entices. How ironic.

Recall earlier I mentioned that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders recognizes caffeine-related disorders such as caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder and caffeine-induced sleep disorder. These can begin with even minimal doses. Increase the amount to 500mg. of caffeine (the amount found in approximately 24 ounces of coffee) and these symptoms are dramatically increased.

All this can lead to angry outbursts, panic attacks, severe depression and extreme irritability. This begs the question, "How many are suffering mentally and physically simply because of poor health—continuing the addiction rather than removing the cause of the problem?"

Not in all cases, but in most, depression, anxiety, irritability and so on, could be severely curtailed if health (spiritual and physical) was a priority.

In the same way that a hiker feels released, energized and unburdened after removing a 50-pound backpack, you'll feel released and energized after removing stimulants. I became a more patient, kind and easygoing person when I quit abusing coffee. I never realized how much it was contributing to my anger, irritability, mood swings and anxiety until at least a week after weaning off, and the withdrawals brought out the worst in me.

I always excused my poor attitude with statements such as, "I had a bad day ... I'm under a lot of stress. I'm tired." Ironically, I was the primary cause of my "bad" days, stress, and fatigue. As much as I wanted to be filled with the Spirit, I was feeding my body a substance that was counter-productive.

Watch this sermon on health from a biblical perspective.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his 7th 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 Health Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
3 Keys to Personal Revival Day by Day

From the very beginning of time as we know it, God created mankind for daily communication and fellowship. In Genesis 1:26, God Himself said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 

If God gives you dominion, this means you need to talk daily to take care of what the Lord has entrusted you with. Genesis states that God would come down in the cool of the day to meet with Adam and Eve. My God is highly relational.

The Word says in Mark 1:35, "In the morning, rising up a great while before sunrise, He went out and departed to a solitary place. And there He prayed." Before the rest of the world and disciples got up, Jesus was up talking to God the Father. The first voice of the day that Jesus would hear was going to be God's. What could and would happen if we lived as Jesus did and made God's voice the priority of our morning?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."

I really like the part that says lean not on to your own understanding. When we have a daily time with God and bring our life before Him, we can lean on Him and His ways and wisdom. So many times we get busy and rush through life and do good things, but that doesn't mean we did "God things."

In Luke 9:23 Jesus says, "If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." The three key words that stick out to me cross, daily and follow. The cross is symbolic to death, which means you die to yourself, daily means you do this daily and follow means you come after God with a heart that's dead to flesh and you do this every day. If we would lean toward God's destiny for our life and die to the flesh daily we would have a personal revival that could change many lives for the kingdom.

This is the heart of the Father: "Then you shall call upon Me, and you shall come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you" (Jer. 29:12).

The Word clearly proclaims in James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." The craziest thing I see is that people aren't drawing near to God. If we need something fixed shouldn't to take it to the one who created it. The Bible is full of Scriptures of God inviting us to have daily times of building a lifelong relationship full of encounters and fellowship that will guide us in life.

The Lord has even been so kind to us to say: "Hey, why don't you call Me sometime. I'd love to talk." Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know." The Lord is saying, "If you call, I'll answer and answer the things that are on your heart."

Basically God the Father is saying whatever you need an answer to I have and I want to give it to you. All you have to do is ask God:  "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" (Matt. 7:7-8). 

God has a great plan for your life and it's found in the daily times you spend with Him. God wants you to know Him intimately and know He is there for you. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." So why don't you go get the future that God has for you!

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! Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn, and together they have three kids: Malachi, Judah and Ezra. He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

]]> (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Revival Spirit Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Correcting Someone

Yesterday morning I crashed my car.

It was a minor accident, no damage to persons and both cars still thankfully driveable. The accident was embarrassingly all my fault. I was searching for a tissue because my nose had spontaneously started running (this is the only running I do these days), when I rammed up the back of a van that had stopped abruptly. I had planned to spend the day with bestie. We usually spend our Fridays embarking on mini road trips in my car, and exploring the nuances of life together. There is much musing, and much laughter. We take my car simply out of habit, and maybe slightly because I'm a massive teensy bit of a control freak and prefer to drive ... I feel safer. Oh the irony! But yesterday, although I kept our plans, I was just too shaken to drive. Instead the bestie drove, and I was her ill-at-ease passenger.

An interesting thing started happening, for every request I made or basically anything I uttered, I prefaced or followed it with: "I'm sorry ... ."

This is a really bad habit of mine at the best of times, but my mood after the accident highlighted this flaw. It taps into a whole other world in my brain of weirdness and rejection, where I feel the need to basically apologize for my entire existence. Yes, I know, it's not good, its not exactly in keeping with the whole spiritual warrior, 'more than conquerors' thing. Alas, it's there, and God and I are working on it. Slowly.

In any case, this constant state of apology was not lost on my precious friend, and she called me on it. EVERY. FREAKING. TIME!

But she did it because she loves me.

By the end of the day and our time together, I mentioned that I wasn't particularly looking forward to seeing my husband after the whole car "incident."

"Why?" she asked. "I really can't imagine Jordan (my husband) getting angry."

And she was right.

"No, he's not" I replied, "but I'm still nervous."

Then, she owned me!

"Do you know what I think? I think that's what scares you. The fact that Jordan isn't angry upsets you. You want him to be angry.
You want him to be mad. You want him to punish you because you feel like it's what you deserve. It's what you're used to. You want to be punished."

Ooooof! Ouch.

She was right.

Truth can be so unattractive.

The beautiful thing about this kind of unattractive truth (yes, oxymoron, I know, deal with it), is that although painful, it was easily excepted when coming from the heart and lips of one I love so dearly, one whom I know loves me.

Had an acquaintance spoken these truths over me, it would have added to my wounding, to my rejection and to my history of pain and distrust. Read into that what you may, call me un-healed and un-whole, but I know where I'm at in my journey and it's blessed far-cry from where I used to be! For this I am reflectively grateful.

My point is this: The acceptance of hard truths from the mouth of another, can only occur when they stem from a place of genuine love and support. This is true for me at least, and I recognize and acknowledge we are all different.

This girl, my best friend, has my back. She's proven it, time and time again.

She will, and has, dropped everything for me in my time of need. I know she loves me, in all my difficult and hard to decipher states. I know she has my best interests at heart. She seeks to love, serve and nurture me.

We may very well have the spiritual acuity to see the root cause of another's negative or unhelpful behavior, but do we have the right through proven, trusted, selfless, loving relationship, to actually speak into their lives and current situation?

So often, we 'Christian' folk, although armed with the very best of intentions, can have a myriad of opinions and perhaps divine insights into a situation, but no matter how great the authority we assume, unless we have deep relationship with those people, our words will likely cause more harm than good.

God is all about relationship.

Jesus was constantly and publicly shamed, accused and condemned for the company He kept. He was called a thief and a drunkard, because these were the people he chose to associate with. He was more concerned with relationship than reputation, and this lack of pride and arrogance allowed him to cultivate deep relationships with the hurting, the un-whole, the broken and the vulnerable. Relationships that allowed difficult truths to be spoken, and not just spoken, received.

Next time you want to highlight an area of dysfunction in the life of another, put away the blazing guns, and ask yourself...

1. Why am I wanting to highlight this?

2. What right do I have?

3. Do I have the best interests of the other person, not only in my heart, but also my mind?

4. Will my insights do more harm than good?

5. Will this build or hinder our relationship?

I don't have all the answers. I don't claim to come from a place of blissfully completed wholeness. All I ask is that we pause. We think. We love.

Bek Curtis is an Australian-based blogger.

]]> (Bek Curtis) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Do You Feel Like You're Walking in Circles?

What keeps us trapped in ineffective and unfruitful living?

Aaron wanted hamsters when he was young, and like all good parents, we bought him some.  After preparing the cage, buying the food and all the other hamster necessities, these puffy little rodents had a home in his room.  I never could understand the fascination with a critter that liked to spend hours spinning on a wheel, going nowhere and accomplishing nothing.

Does your life feel this way?  Day after day, do you repeat the same routine, but end up feeling ineffective and unfruitful?  What if there was a solution?  Would you believe it, trust it, apply it?  Or like hamsters, will you continue to do your own thing?

What about your faith?  Is it increasing? Or do you do the same ole church routine, living defeated rather than escaping the corruption that is in this world?  So what is the solution?

Peter addresses both the "rat-race" and ineffective and unfruitful living in his second letter.  He actually gives a recipe to be fruitful and effective in all things pertaining to life.  He begins with your faith.  He assures us that God's divine power and His promises, when embraced, will give us God's divine nature so we can exchange sin's corruption with godliness.  Great trade!  But how?

Here's the trick.  God does the work in you through His divine power...then, he gives you things that YOU are to do.  Ready for the list?  Are you sure? OK, here goes.

Begin in 2 Peter and read verses 3-9.  I know you probably will not do this so let me break it down for you.  Verse five says, "Make every effort to supplement your faith..." let's stop here for a minute.

Me make the effort?  Yes.  I know that you think that God will do everything for you, but this is not the case.  He gives you responsibilities to "add to your faith" beginning with VIRTUE.  Moral excellence is not automatic.  It must be exercised and added to as you live a life of faith.  Then to the VIRTUE, we are to add KNOWLEDGE. 

This kind of knowledge is not learned by going back to school or reading more books.  This word knowledge, in the Greek, means common sense.  Yes, I said and so did Peter say, "Add common sense to your faith."  Stop all this non-sense that has various spiritual names but does not produce fruitfulness in our life and use the common sense that God has given to you.  ADD common sense to your faith.

To your common sense, ADD Self-Control.  No one can "make you angry".  You are the one who chooses to become angry based on the behavior of others. God will not control your emotions for you, He tells you to do this.  When you are able to control your emotions, it is a true sign that the Holy Spirit dwells in you.

To your self control, you are to add (the Spirit does not do this for you) steadfastness with godliness. This means that you are to be faithful, you are to keep your word, act dependably and be loyal and immoveable with your convictions; not wishy-washy.

To this, you add brotherly affection.  Express your appreciation of others; don't keep it to yourself. And finally, love lavishly.

Devi Tituswife of Larry Titus, is among America's most recognized Christian conference speakers and authors. She is an award winning communicator with the Washington Press Women's Association and speaks to multiple thousands annually, both nationally and globally. 

]]> (Devi Titus) Featured Women Life Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
4 Words to Heed When You Feel Like Giving Up

It is said that in the heat of a battle during World War II, Winston Churchill gave a speech that consisted of one sentence. He said, "Never, never, never, never give up!"

I don't know if that's really the only thing he said, but I do believe the Holy Spirit is speaking that one thing to many of us today. Don't give up, because God has so much in store for our lives.

Don't stay stuck! It's very easy to want to give up when things get hard. Sometimes people get stuck where they are and don't know how to get out, so they think giving up would be easier. It may be they feel they're not smart or talented enough ... maybe something traumatic happened to them ... or they may have failed at something or made terrible mistakes in the past.

But the Holy Spirit anoints us to press in, to press on and go through to our victory, even if things don't go the way we planned. Failure does not mean there are no more options. You can learn from past mistakes ... history is a good teacher. Try again ... if nothing else, you'll learn what works and what doesn't work and go from there. You can turn your obstacle into an opportunity to grow wiser and mature spiritually.

God wants us to live a good life. However, there is no elevator ride to a good life. Trust and perseverance are a must. John 10:10 tells us that "the thief comes in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). The Holy Spirit will lead us one step of faith at a time into the good life God has planned for each of us.

New beginnings. There will always be obstacles to overcome. There will always be "issues" to get past. But there will also be do-overs ... second chances ... new beginnings. It's never too late; just don't give up! God is all about fresh starts. He forgives our sins, our mistakes and failures when we repent. We need to learn to forgive ourselves as well. Stop remembering what He has forgotten and enjoy your life. You don't have to keep paying for your past, just receive His forgiveness and go on. You are a new creation in Christ! (See 2 Cor. 5:17).

Because of that, all things are possible with God. The Holy Spirit leads us, one step at a time, and gives us resurrection power to enjoy our lives even when our circumstances are not so enjoyable.

Of course the enemy will throw up all the roadblocks he can ... that's just who he is. But with the Holy Spirit leading the way, you don't have to get stuck in a difficult moment or season. Stay focused, determined and obedient and He will lead you through.

That is the key—obedience. Work with the Holy Spirit. Yield to His guidance and don't resist Him. How many times has the Holy Spirit prompted you to do something, but because it doesn't feel good you resist His lead? For example, He may encourage you to give up certain friends. But you love them ... and you want to be loved, so you ignore that nudge in your heart. But God just wants to lead you to better, healthier relationships. He is always looking out for your best interest.

In-between time. It's the "in-between" time when you will have to persevere. And whatever happens during your "in-between," know that it is an opportunity to grow stronger in your faith and relationship with the Lord.

When the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart while I was making my bed one morning years ago, He told me I would travel the world teaching His Word and have a large teaching ministry. But there was definitely an "in-between" period for me. I had to learn some things ... like how to be in authority by being under authority. I had to learn submission and humility ... and I had to forgive.

I remember one time during my "in-between," when I held on to the leg of my desk and cried because I wanted to run. I begged God to help me to stay put. Thanks to the Holy Spirit's help, I persevered and endured several years of testing, growth and development, and eventually began my full-time ministry at the age of 42. But it didn't happen overnight for me. It didn't happen so quickly for Moses, David, Ruth or Paul either. It won't happen in a snap for anyone, but if you won't give up, God's plan for your life will happen.

Even if you've had a bad foundation in life you can have a new beginning ... a do-over ... a fresh start—and a great finish. Just be determined to never give up!

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored more than 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Get Your Hopes Up! (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit

]]> (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
How to Win When Victory Seems Lost

Roger Bannister broke the world record by running a mile under four minutes. The theory of the day was that it was impossible for anyone to run a four-minute mile and survive.

Just after Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile record he collapsed crossing the finish line. The announcer was both excited and horrified at the sight as he announced that Bannister had fallen at the finish line.

Bannister was a part-time runner and full-time medical student with a strategy. He set a pacesetter ahead of him and followed them joyfully to break the world record. He had two of his partners run before him, setting the pace with fresh legs. His job was to keep up with the fresh legs; 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds later, he was a legend.

Jesus did the same thing. He set a pace ahead of Him to guarantee that He would have the proper posture to reach His goal. Jesus set Joy as His pacesetter.

The only way you and I will win the race is if we set a pacesetter in front of us just as Roger Bannister did. He knew that the record was too far to reach alone. Jesus also knew that He needed help to reach the finish line. Read the following passage, "Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).

We must look at Jesus and set our life pace based upon Him. He set Joy as His pace and was able to endure the most horrific things that any person could experience. All of mankind's sin and punishment was released on Him through the Cross. He was able to keep His head high and shoulders back to defeat shame. He looked down on shame in the most shameful circumstances. His posture ultimately gave Him a preeminent place at the right hand of God. 

You and I can overcome through the same pacesetter, joy. Joy will cause us to endure and not quit, cause us to look shamelessly at circumstances that would cause the strongest person to crumble, and lead us in the same victory lap as Christ; straight to the right hand of God in Christ Jesus. You may be thinking, "What do I look for, what is my joy-goal?"

The instruction is simple, "Look to Jesus." Look to Him for revelation of your eternal prize, for help, for guidance, for strength, and confidence when you could feel shame. Look to Him for an eternity perspective. Look for Him to always lead you to victory. Expect to win with joy! Expect to win every time.

Jesus showed us that we can win even when it appears that we have lost. James gives us the secret behind Christ's success. "My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations" (James 1:2). James uses an interesting word "count." In English "to count" means to equate one thing with another thing.

But in Greek the word "hēgeomai" has a larger meaning. It means "to lead, to go before, to be a leader, to rule, command, to have authority over, governor, viceroy, chief, leading as respects influence, controlling in counsel, used of any kind of leader, the leader in speech, chief, spokesman, to consider, deem, account, think." 

Only the very last meaning is "to take account." The primary function of the word count is that it's a leader. In order to endure challenges, we must allow joy to be our leader every time. Joy can lead us through every circumstance that we encounter.

Jesus knew that Joy was a dynamic leader and set Joy as His own leader through betrayal, banishment, beating and crucifixion. Nevertheless, Joy caused Him to win through a victorious resurrection. You too will experience resurrection power and joy through everything that you encounter. You too can embrace Joy as your own leader as you pace with Jesus into a life of great victory in this eternity life.

Tracey Armstrong and his wife, Nathalie, are the pastors of Citadel Church in Seattle, Washington, where they are equipping the emerging generation for spiritual, social, and economic influence. A coach to business people and entrepreneurs, Tracey conducts a weekly meeting for achievers and wealth builders in Seattle, with the goal of introducing business people to their Creator and equipping them to use their God-given creativity without limits.

]]> (Tracey Armstrong) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Fri, 26 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
This Dangerous Sunday Ritual Leaves Believers Hungry for God

Personal spiritual experience in some American churches has become less acceptable as a viable expression of personal faith and formation. This giant—the devaluation of personal spiritual experience—has become such a part of the Sunday ritual that some followers of Jesus believe they'll go through life without actually having authentic and personal God moments.   

Yet, the truth is that the Spirit is continually using your life experiences as a teaching method. Personal experiences, both good and bad, were how David learned more and more about his God. Just like He did for David, God has a significant purpose for your life and uses His Spirit to carry those messages to you.

Maybe you struggle believing that you can actually experience God personally and often. Like He did for David, God wants to reveal your unique identity and provide direction from day to day. There is an invisible but empowering energy of the Holy Spirit available to you. When someone you love comes into your house, you eventually become aware of his presence. And so it is with the Holy Spirit. God, by giving His Son, did not just provide a transactional way for you to connect with your future in a far away place; He provided a way for you to connect now through the Holy Spirit.

Here is a bold and biblical assumption: God, through His Spirit, is actually involved in your life every moment. God has always had a plan to communicate with His people through His Spirit and those messages hold wonderful implications and opportunities.

This means that God has a communicational intent to get messages to you that are relevant for your life today. Your engagement with God must be more than just a passive acceptance of sovereignty. Your engagement with God by faith demands an active participation in the ongoing struggles and victories in your life (see Heb. 11:6).

You are not more loyal or more devoted to church history and tradition by believing in a somber, austere God who if it weren't for Jesus would have already stricken you dead. That's horrible theology, and frankly, not even Trinitarian. It's no wonder that a lot of the worship happening on Sundays has very little personal energy attached to it.

Would you want to come closer to a God who could turn on you at any moment? This kind of teaching and thinking negatively impacts our expectation to encounter God, and just maybe, because of this theology, we're secretly hoping that we never do. Don't lose sight of John 3:16 when you're thinking about the Father: "For God so loved the world."

Certainly we've all known a few people who have gone off the deep end regarding emotionalism. However, I know just as many who have gone off the shallow end and are excessive in their belief that you can't know God tacitly and through experience. To deny that God the Father, Son, and Spirit have communicational intentions toward you has no historical or biblical evidence.

Slay the internal giant telling you that you can't experience God personally. God, through His Spirit, is sending you, an ordinary disciple of Jesus, messages about your identity, your purpose, and is giving you ways to bless the people and world around you—and He's doing it every day.   

Mike Rakes is a pastor, educator, motivator, and storyteller, who— along with his wife, Darla—serves the body of Christ and has a passion to help people model God's love. He is passionate about the spiritual health of the U.S. church and is committed to mobilizing faith communities for God and the good of humanity. Mike has a master's degree in biblical literature. He also holds a master's and a doctorate degree from Biola University.

]]> (Mike Rakes) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Fri, 26 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How to Walk Free From Fear Once and for All

Today I invite you to pause for a moment and picture Jesus. As you do, note that envisioning Him as He was when He walked along the Sea of Galilee is not vast enough to capture who He is now.

The Son of God visited this earth as a man, stripped of His divine privileges. But He no longer walks the earth clothed in humanity, except in the form of His sons and daughters. He is seated on high, part of a wild, extravagant, heavenly pageantry—the very image of strength and splendor.

Lift your eyes and see Him resplendent in majesty. Allow His voice to stir something within you. As you do, know that God's promises to the young Jeremiah are His promises to you, His fearless and prophetic child:

God told me, "But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, "I am a youth." For you shall go everywhere that I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces. For I am with you to deliver you,' says the Lord" (Jer. 1:7-8).

In order to be effective with what God entrusts to you, you must be like Jeremiah, settled in the reality that He is right there with you. This postures you to not fear no matter what others say or do.

The journey through life is accompanied by many voices and influences. Some strengthen and undergird your direction; others sway and deter you from your path. Some voices spur you on to places yet unknown, and others hold you back. There are voices from your past—voices of family, voices of disappointment, and voices of fear—that intermittently yell and whisper, "Turn aside! Turn back. You might fail. You might get hurt." These voices urge you to protect yourself.

But amid these negative, life-draining voices is the call of powerful, life-giving voices. The heavenly host who went before you call out through the Scriptures, cheering you forward and onward, "Don't listen to your fears or the terror of those around you. Don't listen to the lies of your enemy who is condemned and tormented. Don't be distracted. We need you! Stay your course and run your race!"

What is it that God has commissioned you to do? Have you accepted it, done it, or said it? Or did you respond, "I'm only ... "?

Don't fear that you won't know what to do or what to say. Don't fear how others may respond. God is with you! Humble yourself and walk with Him and He will lead you into all you were created to be.

I originally wrote about this topic in my book Lioness Arising.

Lisa Bevere is an international speaker, best-selling author, and co-founder of Messenger International. In her transparent style, Lisa shares God's Word woven with personal experiences to empower lives with freedom and transformation. Her heart breaks over social injustice. As an advocate for change, she rallies others to be an answer to desperate problems near and far. Lisa begins her days with mochas and ends them laughing around the dinner table. Lisa lives in Colorado Springs with the love of her life, author and speaker John Bevere, and their family.

]]> (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
How Speaking in Tongues Saved This Woman's Life

Kathi and David Byker woke up abruptly at 4 a.m. on August 9, 2011 to the sounds of yelling in their bedroom. Two men wielding knives and dressed all in black stood over Kathi and her husband. They wore ski masks and all the couple could see were their eyes.

Kathi, believing she was having a nightmare, closed her eyes hoping when she opened them again the men would be gone. When the 60-year-old grandmother opened her eyes, what she had feared most was true: The men were still there. Kathi was terrified.

One of the intruders demanded money from David. The other intruder wound duct tape around Kathi's wrists and ankles and she suddenly realized they were going to take her away. The thought of being separated from her husband of 40 years was horrifying and she began kicking the man to get free.

"Stop, honey," her husband said, "he's got a knife to your neck! "Kathi, who hadn't realized that the intruder was holding her at knifepoint, stopped struggling.

Pulled and yanked outside their Grandville, Michigan home to her own sport-utility vehicle—which the men planned to steal—Kathi was frightened. Duct tape was put over her eyes and mouth as she was commanded to lie down on the back seat. To feel so vulnerable and helpless and to be under someone's control like that "was just hell," Kathi says.

According to police reports, the two intruders demanded the ransom from the couple or, they said, they would kill Kathi. They gave her husband a cell phone number and told him to call when he had the cash. A third, an older man identified as the ringleader of the group, had supplied the kidnappers with masks, knives, gloves and duct tape.

The Ride Into Darkness

After meeting up with the instigator, one of the intruders, driving the stolen SUV, sped into the darkness away from the Byker's home with Kathi. She didn't know where they were going, what the men were going to do to her or how long the frightening ordeal would last. The kidnapper drove with his left hand and kept his right hand with the knife over the back of the seat, continually demanding that Kathi lie down. He told her if she sat up that he would kill her.

"I believed that he would," Kathi told Charisma. "He had the knife right to my neck."

Up to this point there was so much trauma, confusion and disorientation it prevented Kathi from thinking about prayer. At the point she realized she was totally helpless, Kathi remembered to call out to God. This was the turning point, she says.

She was still in the same situation, but everything had changed in her heart. After that moment, God was front and center in her mind, heart and spirit. Lying in the dark in the back seat of the SUV, not knowing whether she would live or die, Kathi focused on God and prayed in the Spirit. She was too overwhelmed to utter a word in English. Romans 8:26 says, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

"It's the perfect prayer because it is from my spirit to God's Spirit without the mind getting involved," she says.

The duct tape kept her mouth shut, but it couldn't keep her tongue from moving as she prayed, she says. Sometimes, all she could mutter was "Help, God." As she prayed in the Spirit, she felt her body relax.

"The Holy Spirit prays for us when we don't know how to pray," says Harold Vinson Synan, dean emeritus and visiting professor of church history at Regent University. "Speaking in tongues is a personal gift that can be exercised throughout your whole life."

This is a gift that is for everyone who puts their trust in God. Deb Kirgis, the associate pastor of Resurrection Life Church in Grandville, Michigan, says she knew that the reason Kathi so quickly began praying in tongues was because she already knew the power that was available. She'd experienced other victories as a result of praying in the Spirit in the past, so it came naturally for her to respond to this situation with her supernatural language.

Pleading the Blood of Jesus

Kathi prayed in the Spirit and the next thing she remembered to do was to plead the blood of Jesus over her body. She thought about the Scripture from the book of Exodus that talks about the blood over the doorposts being protection and realized she needed God's protection. The more she surrendered to the Spirit, she says, the more scriptures came to mind, including Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

She thought, "I don't know what's going on here, but I'm (going to acknowledge) Him."

As God brought Scripture after Scripture to her mind, a tremendous peace washed over her. The situation hadn't changed, she says. Before she acknowledged God she felt scared, but afterwards she felt powerful.

"The fear factor was lessening as the God factor was going up," Kathi says.

Kathi believes she was given supernatural empowerment through the Spirit. She was still terrified but had an otherworldly peace inside. Acts 1:8 says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Her thoughts came fast and she remembered Psalm 91 and the word, "protection." Psalm 91:1-2 says, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my god, in whom I trust.' "

It was then Kathi realized that God was greater than her fear and she could rest in Him.

A Miraculous Escape

Soon after, the driver stopped the car and pulled into what she thought was a forest. She remembers thinking, "I am not going to be one of those people who are never heard from again, in Jesus' name!"

Kathi was dragged into a field in another Michigan county where the abductor began binding her to a telephone pole with duct tape.

"There's somebody behind you and if you try to escape, he'll kill you," he told her and then he left. Kathi didn't believe he was telling the truth; she never got the sense that anyone else was there. She heard him leave, and while he was gone, she counted to 10 before wiggling out of the duct tape on her wrists and pulling it from her eyes and mouth. Kathi then realized she was in a cornfield with corn stalks towering around her. She looked around and didn't see anyone else. She looked down and saw the duct tape around her knees and easily pushed it apart.

"It was a miracle," she says. "The duct tape that was holding me to the pole ripped as I just put a slight pressure on it." She thought, "Wow, God!" It was then that Kathi made her escape. The police detective later confirmed that there had to have been some sort of help from above. "It was regular duct tape," Kathi says. "It was strong and wrapped around a couple of times. It was tied around my knees. I saw it rip after just slight pressure and it was a miracle."

Listen to God's Directions

Kathi ran to the road and paused. "It's extremely important which way I go—straight, left, or right," she realized. "In my heart, I asked God which way?" There was no doubt in her mind that God was leading her to go straight, she says. She didn't know which way her kidnapper had gone, but she learned later that she would have run into him if she had went to the left to get her vehicle. She also found out why her abductor had left her alone; he had run out of tape and gone back to the car for more.

No one prepares themself for this kind of situation, Kathi says, and she had no idea what to do; she didn't know whether to keep running or find a place to hide. She was still scared for her life.

"I never felt so alone in my life," Kathi says. "Nobody knew where I was—nobody."

She ran behind a farmhouse in the dark, barefoot and in her stretchy leopard print pajamas, duct tape hanging all over her. Sometimes she stopped to hide and pray, like inside the 3-by-4 metal box she came upon. Other times she just ran for her life, zigzagging behind whatever she thought would give her cover in the dim early morning light.

At last, in front of a building, she saw a sign in the distance that read, "Classic Transportation." God kept directing her eyes to the sign and she told herself to remember it. As she prayed, God clearly told her to go closer where she saw a 12-foot chain link fence with white semitrucks lined up inside. "I was so happy the gate was open," Kathi says.

She hurried past the darkened trucks until she saw one lone red truck with the parking lights on and the engine running. She assumed someone was inside and banged on the truck, but nobody answered. She was relieved to find the driver's side door unlocked and cautiously opened it before softly calling in to a man who had been sleeping in the back.

"Can you help me?" she cried. "I have been kidnapped."

At first, he was in a state of disbelief. But after hearing Kathi's desperate story, the driver called the local police in Allegan County. While they waited, he explained that he was waiting for Classic Transportation to open so he could apply for a job. "He had never been there before and I felt God had put him there to help me," Kathi says. "I told him, 'I think you're an angel,' and he laughed."

Afterwards, the police came and took her to the rural police station where she retold the events of that night. After that, since the kidnappers had crossed county lines, the Grandville police arrived and questioned her again. "I just praised God that I was a witness to His power," Kathi says.

Prayer: The Deciding Factor

Kathi first became acquainted with the Spirit shortly after her son's birth three decades ago. At the time in 1984, her son was just three months old. She had attended church many years, but always felt something was missing and was searching for more. It was then that a friend told her about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, laid hands on her and prayed. "I was filled with the love and knowledge of God," Kathi says. She then began voraciously studying Scripture and underlining all the verses about the Holy Spirit. She came to the verse in Ephesians 4:30 that says don't grieve the Spirit. "God said I was resisting the part about speaking in tongues," she says. "But He waited until I was ready."

Kathi was happy praising God in English and anything more was out of her realm of understanding. She wasn't open to praying in tongues until she realized she was grieving the Spirit and repented. It was only after that she let herself be open to speaking in tongues. Her prayer language began with only one word, but has gradually grown as she has opened herself up to the power of the Spirit.

Doug Bergsma, 63, pastor of Rockford Resurrection Life Church in Rockford, Michigan, has known the Bykers for more than 20 years. When Kathi was kidnapped, Bergsma, who considers himself a straight-line Bible teacher who believes in the gifts of the Spirit, was one of the people David called. Bergsma immediately prayed. By the time he arrived at the Byker's home, there were nearly a dozen people already gathered praying, some in tongues, and claiming Scripture for Kathi.

He explains that when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you get a prayer language: the ability to speak in another language. In 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul says, "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding." Tongues are a spiritual gift and there are so many things that come from that, Bergsma says. "I have seen so many things over the years like words of direction, stories of divine protection, revelation and illumination beyond what the mind can grasp," Bergsma says. "In that situation, for Kathi to have peace and find peace is amazing proof of God's divine protection," Bergsma says.

Release of Bitterness

The three men involved in the kidnapping are now serving long-term prison sentences. "Because forgiveness is a choice, and not a feeling, I have chosen to forgive these men before God," Kathi says ( "And therefore, God has miraculously removed bitterness and resentment from me and He's freed me. Most Americans like me take their freedom for granted. When mine was snatched away, even for a short time, I discovered how extremely valuable it is. To be free is a treasure."

God is our freedom fighter and deliverer, she says. "There are a lot of people who are going through things spiritually that I went through physically," she says. "They are bound up. They are being held hostage. The devil does that; he doesn't play fair, he hates us all, and God is there to rescue us all. I can testify He is there at the most hardest times we can imagine. He's not just there for me; He's there for everyone."

Ruth A. Zschomler, a native of the Pacific Northwest, is a multi-platform writer and photographer with an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. Her work has been published in The Oregonian, The Columbian, The Vancouver Voice, The Pitkin Review, Canyon Voices, and Rain Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @rzschomler.

Watch Kathi Byker share her story of being abducted and then rescued by the Holy Spirit's power at

]]> (Ruth A. Zschomler) Featured Prayer Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
10 Texts to Send Your Wife in the Next 10 Days

A few months ago, I posted 10 texts to send to your kids or grandkids in the next 10 days. The response was incredibly positive.

Thousands of you shared the post and commented with other great suggestions. Texting (unless you're driving, of course) can be a great way to send a much needed note to someone you love.

Today, I'd like to encourage husbands to take the challenge. Here are 10 texts to send your wife in the next 10 days:

1. Of all the guys in all the world, I'm honored to be the one who gets to do life with you.

2. Today's been a rough day, but thinking of you makes it all worth it.

3. You're my best reason to go to bed at night and my best reason to get up in the morning. Can't wait to see you later today!

4. No matter how you feel about yourself today, remember this: There's at least one person on this earth who knows how awesome you are—me!

5. What can I do to make your day or night easier? Give me some tips ... I want to help.

6. I may not always understand you, but I'm trying because I love you. Thanks for being patient with me.

7. I admire your ability to _____________. That is so important to our family. Just wanted you to know that.

8. Remember when we started this life together? Even if we knew then what we know now ... I'd do it all over again.

9. If I could drop what I'm doing right now to be with you, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Love you!

10. I just wanted to hit the pause button at work today to let you know how grateful I am to be your husband.

Coming Friday: "10 Texts to Send Your Husband in the Next 10 Days"

Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit

]]> (Mark Merrill/Family First) Featured Men Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Study Shows This Fruit Can Destroy Leukemia Cells

Whether making your best guacamole recipe or cutting up this pear-shaped fruit for a splash of delicious color in your salad, avocados have so many uses and health benefits.

Rich in antioxidants and Vitamins A, C, E and K, avocados should definitely be part of your regular nutritional intake. A recent study appearing in Medical News Today explains how consuming avocados each day as part of a healthy diet can reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Besides the nutritional value of avocados already well cited, scientists have discovered that this delectable fruit has the potential for offering nontoxic healing benefits for those who suffer from acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Avocatin B Compound Benefits

New scientific findings are perhaps offering a ray of hope for those who suffer from AML. A team of 20 researchers, including Professor Paul A. Spagnuolo from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, studied the healing benefits of the avocado compound: Avocatin B.

The team released their findings in the journal "Cancer Research," this past April. Spagnuolo explains how avocatin B compounds in avocados destroy AML stem cells. Thus, the compound is a nutraceutical or isolated nutrient, which is a component derived from food with the potential for use in a clinical setting to treat one or more health-related conditions.

The study involved the use of a cell-based screen the team used to evaluate avocatin B's effects on leukemia stem cells, and the findings were positive when revealing how the compound not only targets abnormal meyoblasts, but also shows that avocatin B doesn't do any damage to healthy cells. Essentially, avocatin B destroys leukemia stem cells without doing additional harm to the body like other conventional cancer treatments.

About AML

AML is a cancer that affects blood cells in the body. Estimates suggest there are over 20,000 people who receive a diagnosis of AML each year, and over 10,000 people will succumb to the disease. The disorder affects seniors 65 years of age and older the most; the survival rate associated with the disorder is poor: Nearly 80 percent of seniors with the disease will die within five years from the initial diagnosis.

The disease begins in a person's bone marrow where the body produces platelets and red and white blood cells. Red blood cells have the job of transporting oxygen to parts of the body and assist in blood clotting by helping platelets. White blood cells are the body's defense against infection. In a disease like AML, the body creates abnormal meyoblasts consisting of white myeloid blood cells, platelets, or red blood cells (immature cells); The cells are abnormal because, unlike regular cells that stop growing, abnormal meyoblasts do not. Rather than fend off infection, these cells cause overcrowding and become harmful to healthy cells in the body: The condition leads to infections, bleeding and anemia.

Nutraceuticals Versus Extracts

As mentioned previously, nutraceuticals are isolated nutrients studied for potential health and healing benefits. Spagnuolo explains how scientists also study plant extracts for their possible uses in a clinical setting, but that such studies have their limitations. Since extracts are less refined than nutraceuticals, there is a great deal of inconsistency in research findings; extracts can change in potency whenever there are changes in the raw material, whether developmental or environmental. Conversely, the study of nutraceuticals offers definitive information about what a specific food-derived component can do. The findings associated with nutraceuticals come with a greater consistency and repeatability.

It could be years before the medical field utilizes the compound as a treatment for AML, the team has joined forces with the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) in Canada, to patent the compound for future use: this measure will allow the compound to transition into the clinical trials phase of research.

Nevertheless, the findings hold future promise, and avocatin B may become a healthy treatment alternative for people with AML.

Don Colbert, M.D New York Times best-selling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida where he has treated over 50,000 patients.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Don Colbert, M.D.) Featured Health Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Is Jesus in Charge, or Are You?

"You are a great leader and you love being in charge. I think the problem is that you always want to be in control. It seems to be difficult for you to have others in charge."

Derek nodded his head, so I continued. 

"Here's the problem, Derek. You are contending with Jesus. He wants control of your life, but I don't think you trust Him enough to let Him be in charge, to call the shots."

I stopped talking. There was silence. After a while, I continued: "If you resist His authority in your life, He will keep fighting you. If you keep resisting Him and He lets you run your own life, you will make a mess of things. Either way, you lose."

"I don't think I trust God enough to give Him control."

The Problem

This conversation shocked me. Derek was the perfect Christian on the outside. He even did all kinds of things that no one ever saw. He had his quiet time every day, worked hard at his job earning the respect of other employees, and was a faithful friend to me. 

Why did he have such a hard time trusting God? Why did he make all his own decisions? He had admitted that he hadn't prayed about some big decisions in his life, asking God for a yes or no. Instead, he had plunged headlong into some lifetime commitments that could not be undone. He was headed for more disasters at the time of our conversation. 

As we talked, I realized that He didn't understand the love of God, that somehow if he left the decision-making to God, the Lord would not really have Derek's best interest at heart, would not want to bless him. Is Derek an anomaly in the kingdom of God? Is he the only one calling the shots of his own life?

I find myself trying so hard to live the perfect Christian life, trying to do such a great job that surely Jesus will think, "Wow! She's awesome!" There are things in my heart that I just have to have, things I am scared to pray about because I am afraid they might not be God's will.

What if God's plan stinks in your mind? What if His definition of "plans to give me a hope and a future" (Jer. 29:11) differ greatly from mine? Can I trust Him to make the decisions, to call the shots?

God's Love

When I am scared to let God make the decision, I realize that I don't understand His heart for me. I think that it is like human love: selfish, fickle, imperfect. 

But God has my best interest at heart. He is concerned about my welfare. Read 1 Corinthians 13 for a deeper look at God's love. He is patient, kind, protecting, never giving up on me. He is working in me "to will and to do His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). He is working in our lives. You can remind yourself that "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). 

He has invested a lot of time and energy in making something beautiful of your life. You can trust Him to have your best interests at heart.

He knows the number of hairs on my head. I love to read Psalm 139 because the Lord knows everything about me. He knit me together, He knows what I am going to say and He stays with me. I cannot flee from His Presence. 

He never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever! His Word is still true! His gospel still brings life to those who are dead in sin! He still offers hope to mankind!

The Solution
We can trust Jesus so the solution is simple. Give your life to Jesus, surrender control to Him. Agree with Him that He is the Boss, Master, Teacher, King and Lord. 

Each morning, give Him your day. Ask Him to order your day. Each morning, give Him your life. Ask Him to do whatever He wants to do in and through your life. Ask Him to make His will clear through His Word, by opening and shutting doors, and through godly counsel. 

Each morning, give Him your dreams and plans. Ask Jesus to replace your dreams and plans with His own. 

If you have trouble trusting Him, meditate on God's love. Pour your heart out to Him. Ask Him to show you why you have trouble trusting Him and surrendering to Him so that you can change. 

When He reveals His plan, obey Him with gladness!

"So, what are you going to do?" I asked Derek.

"Pour my heart out to Him. Ask Him to help me surrender everything to Jesus."

"Good call," I replied. 

Meredith Curtis, pastor's wife and homeschooling mom of five amazing children, has been married to her college sweetheart, Mike Curtis for 31 years. She loves Jesus, leads worship, homeschools, writes, mentors ladies and sometimes even cooks dinner! She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, and several high school classes and Bible studies. She and Mike are founders of the Finish Well Conference, a Christian conference aimed at equipping families to disciple their children to be world changers.

]]> (Meredith Curtis) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
The Sanctified Sin in the Church

Ownership of our sugar or food addiction is a huge part of the process of not only weight loss, but total transformation and getting a REAL life. If there is one pivotal moment in our healthy living LIFEstyle journey, it is the moment we own our issue.

I don't watch much television, but I do watch a few shows I DVR. Recently I watched two shows that depicted polar opposite reactions to their weight issues.

Different Approaches

On one show two individuals went all out and reached their goals six months early. One lost 123 pounds and the other over 247 pounds. Both ended up fit and healthy. On the other show, a woman had weight loss surgery and lost 150 pounds, but could never get past that. She was stuck weighing over 520 pounds and in danger of death.

What was the difference? Two owned their issue and changed. The other never owned her issue. She had decided she could eat what she wanted, just less at one time, and not move. Her weight loss all happened in the hospital. Outside the hospital her weight never moved.

She had accepted that she had a problem. She had surgery thinking it would fix her. However, she still had not owned having to make changes.

The other two owned their problem, changed what they ate, changed how they moved and in the process learned how to begin really living.

Food as Recreation

All three people began admitting they had no life. Two felt they could die soon and one felt her life was empty and meaningless. All three ranked eating as the high point of enjoyment.

At one time food was my recreation and the only thing I looked forward to. Baking and eating some luscious dessert was the high point of my day. As a mother and wife it felt like the only way I could show love to my family.


Ownership of my issue began by realizing my issue was owning me. I had allowed food, specifically foods made with sugar and flour, to master me.1

Facing that head-on and realizing to put things back in order, I needed to take a firm stand and say, "No," to quite a few foods.

To do that I had reset my brain to realize life is not about eating foods that seem to taste good. It's about eating things that make me healthy and more fit so I can do the good works that will fulfill the destiny God has planned for me.2

Sanctified Sin

Overeating has become the acceptable "sanctified" sin for Christians. Even though the Bible talks about gluttony3 being a sin, we don't like to mention that, especially not from the pulpit. Let me say here that a glutton does not have to be someone who is overweight. Even thin people can gorge themselves and then exercise their indulgences away.

We can talk about alcohol, drugs, premarital sex, gambling, pornography and any other number of sins, even though some of those are not in the Bible per se, but we will not talk about overeating. With two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, that would step on too many toes.

Here's the deal, though, it's not about sin. It's about making the most of our lives so we can live and do what God put us here to do.

The Real Me

Our physical body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,4 but it is not the essence of me that lives on for eternity. That part is the real me that I've buried inside an unhealthy container. The real me cannot fulfill its destiny if like the 673-pound woman I have eaten myself into the real possibility of an early death.

I know the difference in how I felt at 430-pounds and how I feel 260 pounds lighter. Before the real me was smothered inside my body.

Now, I have energy, stamina, clarity, focus. I still have challenges because of what carrying that extra weight has done to my body, but I can accomplish much more today than ever before.

Not only that, I'm not afraid to do things when I know God is calling me to step up and do them. Life has really become an adventure. Why? Simply because I owned my issue and decided I loved living more than I love delicious desserts. And I love following Jesus more than anything.

Is It Simple?

Could it really be that simple? Jesus went to the cross knowingly. He willingly chose the hard way. He knew there would be pain like He had never experienced, but He endured it for what He knew was His calling.5

We each have a calling as well. He calls us to Himself to live life as close to Him as we possibly can. When we understand WHO we are and WHOSE we are, we begin to see that denying6 our wants and desires is not just an act of obedience, it is an act of love.

The question becomes will you own your issue and face it head-on? Will you ask for His help? He says, "My grace is enough. It's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness."7

It's time to step up to the plate and own your issue?

Hello, I'm Teresa and I am a sugar addict and with God's help I'm walking out this journey every day with my hand in His.
Who are you?

1 Cor 6:12

Eph. 2:10

3 Gal. 5:21 ; Prov. 23:20-21; Ezekiel 16:49

4 1 Cor. 6:19-29

5 Hebrews 12:2

Luke 9:23

7 2 Cor. 12:9

Teresa Shields Parker is an author, blogger, editor, business owner, wife and mother. Her book, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor is available on Amazon in print, Kindle and Audible HERE. This story is from her blog,  

]]> (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
4 Ways to Avoid Spiritual Pitfalls in the Last Days

It appears that we are living in the Last Days, and the Scriptures caution us to be on the alert concerning spiritual pitfalls. We are warned about the rise of false leaders bringing in false teachings and doctrines of demons. We are told to be in the world, but not of the world, to guard ourselves from sexual immorality and all forms of ungodliness, to study the Word, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be passionate and not lethargic towards Jesus, to keep our hearts pure before the Lord and to remain faithful until the end. Yet, we continue to see Christians fall into foolish practices and fulfill the end-times prophecy that many will fall away from the faith.

Once while teaching at a Holy Spirit conference, a young woman came up during ministry time and said to me, "Lay your hand on me, I want your passion for Jesus. I want what you have." I looked at her with all sincerity and said, "You can have what I have, and even more. But I can't lay my hand on you and cause you to be passionate for Christ. You have to make a quality decision to pursue Him for yourself."

There are certain things that we can release into other people by the laying on of hands, such as healing, deliverance, baptism of the Holy Spirit, releasing the simple prophetic gift to see dreams and visions, but a passion for Christ, no. And I will add that touching a person with a special anointing by God that is walking in a specific calling does not guarantee someone an easy ticket into the same type of ministry. An example of this is the practice of grave soaking, which is a doctrine of demons and Christians should not take part in this type of activity. We are not to fix our eyes on people, dead or alive, but on Jesus Christ alone.

It's natural to desire a special anointing, but we need to realize that it is God who appoints and anoints an individual for a special calling. And that person has undergone a time of preparation. Before they are released into the ministry, they are led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to test the motives of their heart. And if and when they pass this test, they are then released into the ministry (see Luke 4). We need to understand that anointing is given freely by God, but it is not cheap.

How do we protect ourselves from Satan's schemes to lead us astray? How do we ready ourselves during these last days? The answers to these questions are found within a parable that Jesus taught concerning 10 virgins; five were wise and the other five were foolish (see Matt. 25:1-13).

The prudent were ready to meet the bridegroom, even when the announcement of his arrival came unexpectedly during the midnight hour. They each carried their own lamp filled with oil. And because they did not know the exact timing of his arrival, they each brought an extra flask of oil to make sure they could find their way through the darkness.

Now, the foolish virgins were not ready when they heard the shout to come and meet the bridegroom. They did not even have oil for their lamps, and asked those that were prepared to give them some of their oil. But to their dismay the wise virgins declined their request and told them to go and buy their own oil. And while they went to purchase the much-needed oil, the bridegroom came and those that were ready went with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

Later, the five foolish virgins came and asked the bridegroom to open the door. But it was too late, the door was already closed, and they were left behind. And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, I do not know you."

And there is a warning in verse 13 for all of us: "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour."

How then do we protect ourselves from being led astray and left behind? We need to be like the wise virgins and prepare ourselves spiritually now to meet the Lord whenever He calls.

These things prevented the foolish virgins from entering into the wedding feast.

1. They were not prepared to meet the bridegroom.

2. They did not purchase oil for their lamps.

3. The Lord did not know them.

What do we need to protect and prepare ourselves?

1. Salvation is the first step to prepare to meet Jesus. "Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'" (John 3:3).

2. The study of the Word to teach us how to live faithfully. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105).

3. The Holy Spirit to empower our lamps. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

4. An intimate relationship with the Lord to protect us from a religious spirit. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?' But then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil'" (Matt. 7:21-23).

May we be wise and not foolish during these last days.

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. Visit her at

]]> (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Thu, 25 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: Your Kairos Time Is Right Now

In 2001, I was going through the trial of my life. My husband had recently abandoned me with our 2-year-old baby. I was falsely accused and jailed for crime I didn't commit. I lost almost every penny I had defending my case unto vindication. And when I was released the dot-com bubble burst, causing Internet companies to shutter and leaving me without any income. That's not the entirety of what I was dealing with, but it gives you a glimpse of the severity of the trial. (Click here to read my full testimony.)

What I didn't tell you is that I had been born again for only about three weeks during that trial. I actually got saved in jail. It was the perfect example of Genesis 50:20: What the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. The point is, I didn't know much about the Word of God. I didn't really know how to pray. But I knew enough to get down on my knees, lean over a chair, and just cry out to God for help while my then-3-year-old daughter slept in the other room.

I fell asleep praying. I don't know how long I was asleep. I just know that a voice woke me up. That voice said: "Stay calm. Be patient. Your time is coming."

At first, I thought it was my father, though it didn't sound like him. I truly thought there was someone in the pitch-black room with me. I looked around, stunned. No one was there. I didn't understand the dynamics at the time, but the fear of the Lord came over me. I slowly got up and walked into the bedroom, got into bed and lay there as still as I could, trying to process what just happened until I finally fell asleep. Later, I realized it was the audible voice of the Lord.

Keeping the Words in Mind

Over the years, during good times and bad times, the Holy Spirit has reminded me of those eight words: "Stay calm. Be patient. Your time is coming." I've had plenty of occasions to pick up that prophetic word and fight with it. The Holy Spirit would remind me in times of crisis to stay calm and I would declare that I have the peace of God that passes all understanding. When I faced major set backs, persecution from believers or disappointments, He would remind me that my time was coming and I would declare that my time is coming.


I've never talked much about it but something happened recently that encouraged me—and I believe it will encourage many others in the body of Christ. A couple of weeks ago, as I was praying in my home, the Holy Spirit told me: "This is your time." Those four words came to me in a still, small voice, not the audible voice of God—but it was just as powerful to my heart. I immediately knew what He meant. I had no idea what He meant 14 years ago, but at that moment it all clicked.

What does this have to do with you? Everything. I believe we're in a kairos moment in the body of Christ. For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven (see Eccl. 3:1). Even as the restoration of all things races toward the finish line, God wants His people to redeem the time because the days are evil (see Eph. 5:16). Our times are in His hands (see Ps. 31:15). We must work the works of the One who sent us while it's day because night is coming when no one can work (see John 9:4).

Now Is Kairos, Your Time

Again, I believe we're in a kairos moment in the body of Christ. I believe this is your time and my time. The Greek word kairos means a fitting season, opportunity, time, occasion. It comes from the Greek word kara, referring to things "coming to a head" to take full advantage of. Kairos is the suitable time, the right moment or favorable moment. Fourteen years ago, I didn't know that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about a kairos time coming. I know now—and I believe this kairos moment, this coming to a head, this favorable moment is not just for me alone.

The Holy Spirit told me 2015 is a year of new beginnings. I've seen that happen in my life in a tremendous way and it's only June. We need to be like the sons of Issachar, having understanding of the times (see 1 Chr. 12:32). We should rightly discern the signs of the times but we should also press in to God's will for this time in our life. We're living in perhaps the most critical turning point in human history. Christ's coming is sooner than it's ever been and a tsunami of perversion is rising in this and other nations.

Everything is coming to a head. We need to take full advantage of this suitable, right and favorable moment. We need to embrace this kairos moment and believe that God has called us for such a time as this to do something He's uniquely created us to do. We need to prophetically exercise the Isaiah 22:22 key and open what God wants opened and shut what God wants shut.

This is your time. It's an appointed time to wake up for our salvation is nearer than we think (see Rom. 13:11). Time is short (see 1 Cor. 7:29). Perilous times will come and are here now (see 2 Tim. 3:1): "The time has come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths" (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

This is your time. Rise up and press into what God is telling you to do. This is a kairos moment. Seize it for the glory of God! Amen.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual AwakeningMornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of GodThe Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

]]> (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 25 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
8 Earmarks of a True Apostolic-Minded Church

There is an Awakening coming to the American church that will rock the church to her core. The Lord is about to realign the things that are out of place in our church culture.

Jesus Christ the Apostle to the church set the church in order by the Twelve. Jesus Himself knew the church must be built on people burning for God and not programs and gimmicks. He spent three years with these 12 men and developed them, walked with them and lived life with them. After the developmental stage was completed with the disciples, Jesus told them to go and stay in Jerusalem and pray until God Himself sent the Holy Spirit.

Ten days later the Holy Spirit came in like a flood and the church was birthed. Then they left and went unto the town and Peter the wild one spoke and thousands were changed by the power of the Holy Spirit that was on his life. Let's look at three very important parts to this revival that happened. 

First there was complete unity in the upper room. Second they all prayed and third they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Now these are the very same three things that you never seem to see in a lot of in the church today. The church was formed from a prayer meeting that was completed after the Holy Spirit came. Most churches refuse the Holy Spirit and deny the prayer meetings. The prayer service is the most important service of the week, but it's the most frequency cancelled service and least likely to be attended.

I have never understood why if our Apostle Jesus Christ created the church through prayer and the Holy Spirit why so many people would reject these two. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of our sins and the comforter. Pat Schatzline says, "The Holy Spirit has been fired in most churches today." When men are secure of whom they are in God, then they allow the Holy Spirit to have freedom. God wants His church back and He is very passionate about His plan for America.

I know awakening is coming to America and I believe it will come to regions that have a heart to help steward revival and outpouring. It seems to me that key places throughout America have been catching on fire for God recently. These spots are called Revival Centers, Revival hubs, Apostolic Centers or Epic Centers. They all have a few things in common.

1. They all have great expectancy. These places are full of people who are so hungry for God; they are ready for more of Him. Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." The Scripture starts by calling them blessed then finishes by saying they will be filled.

2. There is an increasing amount of the power and presence of God. The glory is there and its drawing people in. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." When we draw near, we start to repent and turn our lives over and completely surrender to Jesus.

3. Increased amounts of the prophetic; these places have more people who are tapping into what God is saying over their region.

4. More prayer meetings are formed. People are starting to gather together and sow verbal seeds into the ground and cry out for a move of God's Spirit. They stand on Jeremiah 33:3, which says, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know." People are ready for the great and mighty things the Lord promises us.

5. People will start confessing sin, and will raise their standard of living. Groups in churches will start to hold one another accountable for things that they used to let slide.

6. You will find people studying old revivals and purchasing books on them.

7. Increased attacks and criticism from others in your region. As long as you are doing good, safe church. everyone will love you. When Jesus asked the people a hard thing, like eat My flesh and drink My blood, the majority left Him. When awakening begins, God will require more of you. Some will be unwilling to pay the price and will be frustrated with those who are.  

8. You will find a shift in people's private time with God and a new outlook on ministry.

The church will get back to the original apostolic alignment that Jesus Christ Himself put into place. We have an Awakening in America; the question is will you be a part of it?

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! Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn, and together they have three kids: Malachi, Judah and Ezra. He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

]]> (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Revival Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
The Source of All Prophetic Error

One of the greatest mistakes we can make in the prophetic movement is to limit our revelation of who God is based on our personal experiences alone, and not according to the full council of God as revealed in the Bible. 

For example, some prophetic people have had deep personal encounters with the goodness and kindness of God, but from their experience and therefore erroneously, they portray God as if He is ONLY good and kind. They categorically reject any idea of the correction, discipline and rebuke of the Lord because that has not been their personal experience. I want to reiterate one more time: Who we say Jesus is will directly affect the way we prophesy.     

The source of all prophetic inaccuracy is not only found in not spending time with God in intimacy, but failing to embrace every aspect of His character and nature. To embrace aspects of His Nature such as His goodness and kindness and to reject others such as His truth, justice and righteousness will surely lead us down the path of inaccurate prophecy and even worse, to misrepresent the heart of God to His people. It is a serious mistake to spend our lives simply prophesying and limiting God to two aspects of His character and nature and fail to release the many other aspects of who He is that people so desperately need imparted to their life.

I believe many of the prophetic words that God wants to release over His people in this hour have nothing to do with what we are going to receive, and everything to do with who we are becoming. We are going to witness a rise in prophetic words that are directly geared toward assisting people in partnering with their ultimate call in life: "To be transformed and conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29).

Imagine the aspects of God's character and nature like arrows in a quiver. What we are witnessing today is many prophetic voices who only have one or two arrows in their quiver. In essence, that's who God is to them and every person that they prophesy to is only going to get one or two of those aspects.

Unless we wholeheartedly give ourselves as prophetic people to embracing every aspect of the Father's character and nature as revealed in Scripture (and even those that stretch beyond our personal experience), we will not only limit Him but also misrepresent Him to people! This is the greatest disservice we can do to God as His messengers! We have to allow Him to work every part of Himself inside of us or we will not communicate or portray Him to His people in a way that is in alignment with the Scriptures.

The Word of God

We must look deeply and intently into the Scriptures to discover the character and nature of God. I must briefly note however, how little emphasis is being placed on the written Word of God among prophets and the prophetic movement. I cannot count how many prophetic conferences where I have personally spoken where pulling out my Bible and preaching from the Word of God was seen as a bad omen among prophetic people. I have had multiple pastors and people on many different occasions tell me, "Put down your Bible and prophesy to us."

The divorce that I'm seeing from the Word of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit as I travel is producing a generation of prophetic people that are hungry to be stimulated with words of blessing, but who do not want to get impregnated with the truth of God's Word. So many prophetic people want to be tickled with promises of destiny and wealth, rather than be provoked into holiness and righteousness.

In the midst of this, God the Father is raising up a new breed of prophets in the earth that are going to teach and encourage a new prophetic generation to primarily give themselves to the study of His revealed will through the Scriptures and less time chasing after His hidden will through strange and oftentimes bizarre experiences. I see such incredible standards being raised up in the days ahead at prophetic schools, that prophetic people will not be allowed to prophesy unless they can accurately back up what they are claiming God said with a Scripture, and specifically not use it out of context.

We desperately need to see the Word of God handled accurately and with integrity in the prophetic movement. God is raising up a new prophetic generation that will stop searching the Scriptures to justify their prophetic experiences and start using the Word of God as the foundation and litmus test to see whether their so-called prophetic experiences are even biblical.

Jeremiah Johnson is the servant leader of Heart of the Father Ministry in Lakeland, Florida. A gifted teacher, book author, and prophetic minister, Jeremiah travels extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a conference and guest speaker. Jeremiah and his wife, Morgan, reside in Florida with their two children: Bella Grace and Israel David. Check out Jeremiah's new book release, I See A New Prophetic Generation and visit him online at  Unknown Dreamer Ministries or connect with him on Facebook.

]]> (Jeremiah Johnson ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
When You Catch God Doing Little Miracles in Your Life

A friend of mine was nicknamed "Walmart" by a group of people she was mentoring. They believed she was selling herself short and not ever earning what she was worth.

After signs from God, professional growth, and being challenged and encouraged by a number of people, my friend became ready to charge for her speaking. Soon after she became comfortable, two paid speaking events materialized.

After a weekend of significant ministry and hard work where she earned more than she ever had, someone who heard her speak gave her a Louis Vuitton purse to express her appreciation. My friend knew enough to know it was expensive, but she was stunned when discovering it sells for $1,400.

The gift giver had received the purse as a gift, but since she already had one she tossed it in the back of a closet. She remembers praying that God would show her who to give it to one day.

She shared these details with my friend when giving her the purse. She explained that she was confident she had heard from God about it, but it seemed strange so she hoped it was okay.

After opening the box and discovering her amazing gift, my friend told the gift giver about the nickname her group had given her. Then she went on to explain that as a way of reminding her she could be more and was worth more, the group began calling her Louis.

Can you imagine how my friend felt when discovering the purse was a Louis Vuitton? Louis!

It's not a coincidence that's the name her group chose as an opposite of Walmart.

It's not a coincidence that this particular woman had an extra Louis Vuitton purse.

It's not a coincidence that she prayed for God to show her who to give it to.

It's not a coincidence that my friend met the gift giver the weekend she finally earned an appropriate honorarium for her ministry.

It's God being God. Active. Personal. Orchestrating our lives.

Look for Him. Listen for Him. Believe He is in the "little" things. Thank him.

Stop believing in coincidences.

Dr. Kathy Koch is the author of Screens & Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in A Wireless World (Moody).

]]> (Kathy Koch) Featured Women Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Decoding the Key Words in Revelation Unlocks End-Times Mysteries

As if Revelation isn't confusing enough for us, imagine being John. 

According to author Carl Gallups, what John described has been happening for years, but we just didn't put it into context.

"How does a man who's riding camels and walking everywhere he goes 2,000 years ago on a rock island in the Roman Empire, how does he describe nuclear bombs and nuclear plant disasters and how does he describe warfare and tanks and helicopters and skyscrapers and interstate highways and automobiles and airplanes and space shuttles?"

So he used the words he knew. Turns out we may have seen some of the signs he wrote of.

Check it out. 

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 24 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Why Do We Often Choose the Rich and Famous as Our Role Models?

It is easy to look at celebrities, athletes or anyone famous and say, "I want to be like them." More often than not, we look to those who are well-known and we hold them up to be role models, but are they really the best examples for us to follow?

While athletes do spectacular things on the athletic field, and celebrities may be talented actors or actresses, does that mean they are the ones who should become the role models in our own lives or our children's lives? More often than not the answer is no.

While this is a generalization and there are always exceptions to the rule, in most cases athletes and celebrities are self-consumed and focused on a singular goal: success. Little gets in the way as they hone their craft, working diligently to become better at what they do. Though a strong work ethic is more than admirable and developing discipline is a necessary part of growing older, holding celebrities and athletes to this high standard of a role model is not practical.

More than that, it raises the question of why we choose those who are famous to be our role models. Is it because they are celebrated and have reached a higher social status, or is it because they have qualities and character attributes that we want to emulate?

The problem for us is that those we most often aspire to be like are usually from a different socio-economic level. Unfortunately, the wealth that we observe among well-known athletes and Hollywood idols has significant influence on who we would most like to be.

Someone who is wealthy, or is well-known, does not by default mean they are people after whom we should model our lives. In fact, when our definition becomes mostly about what we aspire to have and not who we ultimately want to be, the role model we have set before us is ourselves.

Of late, we as parents have failed to teach our children what a real role model looks like.

A real role model:

1. Has qualities that we would like to have or keep.
2. Is someone who we aspire to be like and is noticeable for how they live their lives.
3. Impacts us and makes us want to be better people.

So what are you going to do and what example are you following? Do they align? If these are not just words, then here are some steps to being a role model for your children and others.

1. Know who you are. That means you will want to have friends who are not pretending to be something they are not.

2. Be unique. It is more than fine to be different. That does not mean being different just for the sake of being different. Instead, it is being comfortable with who you are. One of the most liberating moments in life is when you come to grips with your own weaknesses and you are OK with them.

3. Be kind and focused more on others than yourself. Learn how to give credit to others and notice the example they set. Live in such a way that your life can be seen and respected so that it may be said of you: "Who can argue with a life so well lived?"

God is our Father, and He provides us a picture of how we should father our children. Ephesians 5:1 says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."

Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia, is a passionate advocate for youth and strongly believes that the home is the foundation of society. Drew frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today's youth. Learn more about the services PAYH provides and its familySTRONG resources at"

]]> (Drew Read/Paul Anderson Youth Home) Featured Men Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Here's the Skinny on Fats

Most of us would like to know which foods are good for us and which ones to avoid. But when you try to figure this out, do you find yourself confused and overwhelmed? You're not alone.

Dietary recommendations keep changing as we learn more how various foods affect our bodies. To make matters worse, many health professionals are still stuck in the past and haven't caught up with the latest research. The end result is conflicting advice from doctors, dietitians and other leaders in the health care arena.

One of the biggest divides is whether we should eat saturated fat. Back in the 1990s, saturated fat, such as the type in eggs, butter and meat, was demonized. We were told if you consumed saturated fat, such as cream, you'd keel over with a heart attack.

Now, however, we know that's not true. In fact, the latest research shows saturated fat is actually good for us, provided it's natural, meaning it's not corrupted with chemical additives. Saturated fat is the best means by which to raise your HDL cholesterol, also knows as "good" cholesterol. You want your HDL to be as high as possible. So, by all means, eat saturated fat, provided you don't have any other intolerance to it.

For example, red meat can raise estrogen levels and inhibit weight loss, so for this reason, I eat it sparingly. Dairy products such as cream, cheese and butter cause some of us problems because of the casein, which has been linked to cancer, and allergic reactions. For these reasons some folks should limit dairy consumption, but not because of the saturated fat content.

There are fantastic sources of saturated fat. Topping the list is coconut oil. This has been linked to brain health, even mitigating symptoms associated with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, ALS and Dementia. I take a tablespoon a day and cook with it almost exclusively. It's also a natural antimicrobial so it strengthens your immune system.

Eggs are also a fantastic source of saturated fat. Recently the U.S. government reversed its previous warnings to steer clear of eggs, saying now, that the cholesterol in eggs does not translate into higher blood cholesterol. So go ahead and eat eggs, even the yolk.

The best eggs are ones that are pastured ... not to be confused with "pasteurized."  Pastured eggs are from chickens that roam around outside and eat bugs, which is what they are supposed to eat. The other kinds of eggs are from chickens that eat an unnatural diet of things like corn, which is not what chickens would eat in the wild.

Another great source of fat are the Omega-3 fats, such as fish oil. The best type of fish oil is derived from wild, cold-water fish, such as salmon. Try to eat it a couple of times a week. Albacore tuna is also good. The problem with fresh fish is you don't want to eat too much of it because of the mercury content. So a good idea is to supplement with a fish oil. Get one that has the EPA and DHA amounts on the label. Take enough to get about 750 milligrams to one gram of DHA every day.

Polyunsaturated fats are wonderful, such as walnuts, almonds and other nuts, avocados and olive oil. Consume these every day, if you can. I manage to do it by making a salad each day that includes walnuts and half an avocado, topped with salad dressing made with olive oil. Hint: make your own salad dressing. It's easy, and the ones in the store are bad, even the ones that contain olive oil, because it's usually only a tiny amount of olive oil combined with other unhealthy ingredients.

On the other hand, Omega-6 oils should be avoided. These are the vegetable oils, like soybean oil, corn oil, etc. which includes margarines and mayonnaise. Technically, Omega-6 oils are not bad for us. The problem arises when we eat too many of them compared to how many Omega-3 fats. 

We should be consuming just about equal amounts of Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Most Americans, however, consume 20 times more Omega-6s than Omega-3s. That imbalance causes massive inflammation. The reason we eat so many Omega-6s is because they are in many processed, packaged foods as well as fast foods. Omega-3s, on the other hand are pretty rare, and as I stated above, are usually only consumed in cold-water fish. 

Undoubtedly the worst fat of all, the one that should be avoided at all costs, is hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oil is also called trans fat. Like the name suggests, hydrogenated oil is oil that has been infused with hydrogen.

This process is highly unnatural. It was invented to prolong the shelf life of packaged foods, among other things. Shortening, such as Crisco, is a trans fat. Other than that, you will almost exclusively find trans fats in processed foods, especially baked goods, like cookies and crackers.

On a molecular level, trans fats are similar to plastic. Our bodies have no idea how to process them because they are completely foreign, as they are manufactured in a lab, not grown in nature. Trans fats have been strongly linked to heart disease and brain dysfunction.

The way to avoid them is to read the list of ingredients on any item you are thinking about eating. If you see the word 'hydrogenated" you know that food contains a trans fat. Do not eat it.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Lorie Johnson/CBN Medical Reporter) Featured Health Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Try This: Revelation-Driven Prayer

Continued from part 2 from Tuesday.

Step 3: Revelation

With this team from Michigan, I encouraged people, most of whom have never prophesied, to listen to the voice of God and share it with us. One by one people would share pictures, impressions, Scriptures and other words from heaven. I explained that God desires to speak clearly and continually to every man, woman and child of His on the planet.

"Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy" (1 Cor. 14:1).

To prophesy is simply to hear God and to repeat what He says. Share with others the heartbeat of God in any given situation. Hearing God is one of the most exciting parts of one's personal experience as a Christian. We are all to have spiritual dreams and visions, to walk in the Spirit and hear in the Spirit. God is continually sharing His heart with us and to receive that data from the invisible realm is amazing!

Not only does it make life exciting, it makes it survivable. The only way we can obey God is if we hear Him! So, as we hear His voice, we can know what is required of us. We can see into the spirit realm and understand how to battle the enemy. This is how it unfolded in this particular situation:

We were about to move into the fourth and last season called execution–declaring and enforcing the will of God that was just revealed in this season of prophetic revelation.  All of a sudden, I heard this sweet voice from on the other side of the cavern call out, "John?"  I said, "Yes?" She said, "I just can't go on until I share something with you." It was the same girl who had prayed for my shoulder back at the church. "God is squeezing my heart. It's so strong and I have to share it with you. ... It's not good though." Oh boy! Here we go. One of those moments that every leader has to deal with at one time or another—a crazy prophetic word!

I told her, "OK, go ahead and share it. Let's see what God has to tell us." It was important to me to encourage her in this as it was obviously a critical moment for her. She was hearing God, and I was excited about that. She went on to tell me that she saw a vision when she was praying for me back at Revolution, but she didn't know how to share it. That same vision intensified extensively during the season of prophecy and hearing God there in the cave. She saw someone holding a voodoo doll of me and they were poking me in the shoulder over and over again.

Now, what she didn't know was that I was there in the dark on the other side of the room wincing in extreme pain for the previous four hours. I was contorting my body every which way I could in an attempt to relieve the pressure in my shoulder. I was almost in tears much of the night.

I then announced to everybody there that we were a living experiment. God was taking us by the hand and teaching us about revelation-driven prayer. I told everybody that God has revealed His desire—He wanted me healed that very moment. It was now time to move into our last season—execution. 

Step 4: Execution

I asked that girl if she would pray for me. Wow! Something happened to this girl—the fire of God was on her!  She prayed down the heavens while the rest of the people in that cave warred in the Spirit and interceded with passion. The noise was astounding.

All of a sudden my shoulder started to burn intensely! It was like someone poured hot oil on my shoulder and was rubbing it in. It went down my arm all the way to the tips of my fingers. God was instantly healing me. I went through every movement I could think of, I pressed my fingers deep into the spot that had previously hurt so badly. My fingers which were previously partially numb were now highly sensitive. It was really happening—I was healed! My arm was on fire. I told everybody what was going on as it was happening. I halfway jokingly asked them if they could see my arm glowing there in the dark cave! It was so hot I thought people around me could feel the warmth!

To this very day my arm has been healed. God was waiting to heal me so all of those people in that dark cave would experience the glory of God.

"As Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned. But it happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him'" (John 9:1-3).

This last season of execution is simply that—we execute the instructions of God as He reveals them to us. He didn't have anything else for us to do at that moment, and our ability to hear Him clearly kept us from praying amiss. We came into perfect agreement with God, looked at the spirit of Infirmity with fire in our eyes and a supernatural confidence and cast it out. The attack of witchcraft was annihilated in a place of agreed prayer. We executed God's instructions that were revealed to a repentant and consecrated people who were filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation-driven prayer works. We pour ourselves out, spend hours in the presence of God, hear His voice and then war in the Spirit. Miracles are then the expected, and very regular, result.

"If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:7-8). 

I want to encourage you to pattern your own prayer life in this way. Every day, present yourself to the Lord and go through these four seasons. If Christians will eagerly step up to a place of two or three hours of intentional prayer every day, we will experience an outpouring of God within weeks if not sooner!

I find myself exhilarated when my time in the prayer room is dosed with waves of insight into God's heart. It's becomes easy to hit my face, cry out in pursuit of the Living God and then to press on into hours of prayer—when it's fueled by revelation.

When the cry of our heart is to discover the cry of God's heart, life in the invisible realm of prayer ramps up powerfully.

I believe the prayer movement will become the thrill ride that it's meant to be when it becomes predominantly a prophetic movement. Praying prayers into the nether regions without at least a low level of supernatural insight is a frustrating activity.  It's a prime reason many people are resistant to a life of prayer. 

"See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise men, making the most of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:15-17).

Revelation-Driven Prayer in Action

The Holy Spirit schooled me in the important concept of effective and efficient prayer one day when I was alone in prayer at Revolution Church at the base of Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Keep in mind that I have always been a "prayer guy." I caught the fire of love for Jesus in my early years when I was in the place of prayer and that hunger for intimacy with God has never ceased.

This particular day I found myself praying very good prayers ... but these particular prayers weren't on God's agenda for me that day. I was praying for church growth, for people that came to mind, for strategic ideas and other good and important topics. However, they were topics that came to mind based on human insight and yesterday's revelation. I had no leading that those focuses were also God's focus for me in that moment. I was praying blindly.

"Therefore I also, after hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, mentioning you in my prayers, so that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints" (Eph. 1:15-18).

Understand that blind prayers aren't bad. It's a very good thing to intercede for any number of pressing issues. However, I was learning that prayers based on human insight alone were simply not efficient. This particular day something else was on God's heart and he was instructing me to avoid distraction—even honorable distraction such as praying for people in the church—and to have laser precision by praying what was on God's heart. Prayer is all about agreement. If God's calling us to stand in the gap for one thing and we're focusing on another thing, we are actually misaligned. 

Again, let me make it clear so people don't fall into guilt or false ideas: To pray is good and beneficial. However, we should crave the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness as possible. That's certainly God's desire.

A quick way to become disillusioned and discouraged in the place of prayer is to become plagued with what I call petitionitis or to discover addiction to petition. The thought that God is simply waiting for us to ask Him for something so He can perform it for us is exceedingly short sighted. We should discuss our desires with God, but the idea that this is the limit of prayer is tragically flawed. Yes, we can ask God for things, but the adventure begins when we allow God to reveal His requests to us.

It simply makes sense to fuel our prayers with the revelation of what God is working on with us at that moment. One of the most exciting questions we can ask God is: "What are you thinking about right now?" If God revealed that a terrorist attack is scheduled to be carried out in our city within the next 12 hours, and He is attempting to reveal instructions for intercession on that issue, it wouldn't make sense to spend precious time praying for other things.

This lesson was drilled home by the Holy Spirit this particular day at Revolution a few years ago. God said, "Don't pray about anything until I reveal My agenda. Spend time preparing your heart to receive and to be an instrument of intercession and authority in My hands."

This was one of the most important instructions I have ever received. The reality that God has such an expansive perspective that goes far beyond our own viewpoint should grip us.

"Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the totality of the Almighty?" (Job 11:7).

"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable are His ways!" (Rom. 11:33).

So, I walked around Revolution Church with no list of petitions. I worshipped, humbled my heart, prayed in tongues and waited.  

God then spoke (this is always the starting point of effective prayer). "John, I don't want you to pray for anything else except for this property. It's strategic and I want you to advance. It's time to take new ground."

The faith, anointing and presence of God increased immediately in such measure that it literally felt like the room was flooded to the ceiling. Immediately after, my staff started to arrive for our weekly staff meeting and one of them walked right up to me after he came through the front door and said, "What's going on? The faith is so high in this room that you could cut it with a knife."  

He felt it as he walked through the door.

I shared with the team what God had instructed us to do. We all spread out, prayed and anointed the property from room to room. The city of Manitou Springs and this particular property has a very dark history. Many call Manitou Springs the darkest and most strategically demonic city in the nation. This particular property was over 100 years old and was once a brothel. Revolution Church (now Revolution House of Prayer) occupied about two-thirds of the property and the owner had his Moroccan restaurant in the other one-third. A single wall divided the two sides.

When the church first moved in to this location I found it very hard to physically breathe. The demonic stronghold there was unusually heavy. We did a good job of cleaning things up on our side of the wall and enjoyed the presence of God in freedom to a wonderful degree. However, this very day God was calling us to advance beyond the wall.

After we spent some time praying throughout the rooms of the building on our side, I called everybody together and told them we were to lay hands on the wall that divided the two sides and to pray from the perspective of authority and with great faith and confidence based on the revelation that God had given us.  

Now, I hadn't spoken to my landlord for quite some time. We didn't cross paths very often, so what was about to happen was very much out of the ordinary.  

As we were all praying, my cellphone rang. I just let it go to voicemail as we continued on. Then, something snapped. One of my elders looked at me and said, "It's done. There's no reason to keep praying."

I felt it too. It was awesome. We all went outside and walked around the perimeter of the building and thanked God for what was accomplished. At that point I remembered that I missed a phone call when I was inside praying at the wall, so I checked my voicemail. It was my landlord. He wanted to talk with me. Immediately the anointing around me started to burn even hotter.

I went to meet him and he asked, "I was wondering if your church would you like to move in to the other side of the property?"

I'm sure my face was white. The swirl of God was so strong on me that I had to intentionally maintain my composure. I said, "Yes."

I often joke that many people simply want God to call them on the phone with answers to their prayer ... and for us, it kind of happened like that! Right in the middle of a powerfully unified and faith-filled moment of prayer my phone rang with the answer I was seeking!

That next month we moved into the very room that was on the other side of the wall where we were praying. Plus, our monthly rent was decreased from $8,000 to $6,000! We took ground and prospered financially all because I laid down my agenda, waited, received precise revelation and came into active agreement with it.

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25).

I am actively contending that the dry seasons of struggle in the prayer room that has weighed on so many will not remain the norm. The cry is for regular, perpetual revelation to rain down from heaven on a continual basis. If we are to walk in the Spirit, we must have the ability to see and hear and discern in the Spirit.  

Instead of simply praying along with the prayer leader in the room for the nation of Egypt, for example, we'll receive, on both a personal and a corporate level, clear and active revelation about Egypt or whatever is on God's agenda for that session. The more people that receive a strong yes in their spirit as intercession is being led, the more agreed they are and the more effective it is.

It's good to pray for what seems obvious any time of the day. It's better to pray in a specific moment for whatever issue God's calling us to focus on. The goal is to lay the list aside as much as possible and wait until God tells us exactly what to agree on. We'll find ourselves more alive, refreshed and strengthened as we ride on that wave instead of pressing ahead without it.

As we minimize our agendas and expect God to give us precise instructions for prayer, we'll see the testimonies skyrocket around the world.

This article was excerpted from John Burton's book, Revelation Driven Prayer. For part 1, click here. For part 2, click here.

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOPKC) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at

]]> (John Burton ) Featured Prayer Spirit Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
The 2 Sides of Singleness

A few months ago, I was at the the first international True Woman Conference, Mujer Verdadera '15, when Dannah Gresh surprised her translator, Jeanine (a missionary to Taiwan), with a tiny gift.

Small but Powerful

The size of the gift was minuscule, but its impact was enormous, and it brought the audience to tears, prayer and worship. It was a holy moment not just for Jeanine, but also for every woman who was single in the room.

Experience this moment for yourself and watch this short video clip:

Dannah captured two things that I think are really important for us to acknowledge as single women:

  1. She affirmed a woman's desire for marriage as a good thing.
  2. She affirmed the gift of singleness as a good thing.

Two Sides of a Coin

Both the desire for marriage and the gift of singleness are good, real and a gift from God, who does all things well.

These two issues are like two sides of a coin. Both are good. And I believe that both are necessary to make a complete "coin." In many ways the natural desire for marriage and the joyful embracing of the gift of singleness brings balance to a single woman's life. The desire for marriage can help us keep an "open hand" to seasons of change (if God wants to gift us with marriage) and the gift of singleness can help us fervently pursue our Heavenly Husband—the Lover of our souls—in undistracted devotion.

Both the desire for marriage and the gift of singleness are good, real and a gift from God who does all things well.

So if you're experiencing the gift of singleness today, don't try and "return" it. Embrace it, and invest it for God's glory!

PS: You can hear a little more of Jeanine's story here.

Taken from Chiree Bollinger's blog post "The Two-Sided Coin of Singleness." Used with permission.

]]> (Chiree Bollinger) Featured Women Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
A Letter to My Grandchild About Charleston

Dear sweet, almost-here Grandbaby,

I can't stop thinking about you this morning. Lots of times when I think about you, I imagine your tiny feet and hands and nose, but today I'm dreaming bigger than that. I'm dreaming about your big name—Phineas Brave—and thinking how badly our world needs you.

We are reeling this week because a young white man went into a black church in Charleston and opened fire. Nine beautiful lives were ended by his hatred. Countless family members are today planning funerals instead of summer vacations. It's tragic beyond words.

And yet ... words.

Words are everywhere.

Everyone is talking about why and how and "What In The World is Happening Here?" and I want to scream: the very same thing that has always happened is happening here! 

I was born into the racial violence of the '60s. You are being born into the racial violence of the new millennium and the best thing you can do for your world is to refuse to rename it anything other than that. Refuse to get caught in the spin that this is isolated or that gunman was mentally ill or this was an attack against Christians and not an attack against black people.

Refuse to let the world tell you this can't change or that we've come as far as we'll ever come to bridging the racial divide, or that being born into a middle class white family in Bend is the very same thing as being born black in Baltimore. You don't have a responsibility to defend all people because you're white. You have a responsibility because you're human and because the God we serve demands it. And, wow Finn, I hate framing any part of your future relationship with God in terms of demands, but there's no softer way to say it and still stay true to the biblical mandate—God demands that we stand with the poor and oppressed. But Christians have been treating it as optional for way too long.

Caring for our brothers and sisters of every skin color is a core value of God Himself and we should be willing to do, pay or say whatever it takes to make sure that every life is given the value and safety it deserves. In order to do that, we're going to have to stop looking away and start asking painful questions. We're going to need to be willing to leave the cheap seats and move right into the messy middle, where statistics tell the story of what it's really like to be black in America. We're going to need to insist that we can do better than this. We can fly better flags than those that keep old wounds festering. We can build better schools in at-risk neighborhoods. We can choose to admit that this is not an African-American problem, it's an American problem and it's our job to work towards healing and a whole new level of harmony.

Oh, darling Finn. I'm hopeful today because of you. Because you will come with those incredible little fingers and toes, but you will come bearing the Imago Dei—the image of the God of Justice tattooed on your DNA. You will come brave and ready to love your world into life. You must. Because I'm increasingly convinced that the divides that have prevented my generation from meaningful forward motion, will keep us stuck in this spinning, relabeling madness until we die. The only hope for a future of reconciliation is the now-being-raised army of compassionate, courageous culture-makers with names like Greyson, Clara, Ivy, Hattie, Gracie, Laila, Whalen, Ole, Penny, Bear ... and Phineas.

Be brave, little ones. Our future needs you.

With hope,


]]> (Bo Stern) Featured Women Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Not All Southerners Fly the Confederate Flag

I am a son of the South. I was born in Louisiana, spent my childhood in Alabama and attended high school in the suburbs of Atlanta. I grew up eating grits, drinking sweet iced tea and attending big family reunions where the old people sat on wide porches and fanned themselves while the kids ran barefoot in the Georgia red clay.

I'm not apologizing for my upbringing, or for my Southern drawl. There are so many things I love about Southern culture: the warm hospitality, the fact that strangers say, "Hey!" to each other on the street, the way little kids politely say, "Yes, Ma'am" and "No, Sir" to their elders, and of course the fried chicken, cornbread, biscuits, gravy, barbecue, slow-cooked collard greens and sweet potato pie—foods that were invented in the South and made famous at big church dinners.

But I want to make something clear to all my friends who might be tempted to stereotype: In all my years I never saw a Confederate flag in my house, never saw a Confederate decal on my dad's car and never once heard anyone in my family defend slavery, segregation or racism. Even though I had a great-great-great-great grandfather who died in the Civil War—in the Battle of Kennesaw—no one in my family ever told me I should honor that legacy.

For me, the Confederate flag is an ugly reminder of the South's biggest mistake. It is nothing to be proud of. The Confederate flag is something that should be put in a museum to warn us that people sometimes collectively practice injustice.

To a black person, the Confederate flag is a threat. It says: "We don't want you here." It has no business flying on any government property. And if you put it on your lawn or on the back of your truck, you are sending a message of hate.

I am sure the reason no one in my family flew a Confederate flag or defended a "Southern heritage" viewpoint was because we were Christians, and we knew that Christianity and racism are polar opposites. Some of my ancestors were Methodist preachers who advocated for the abolishment of slavery long before the Civil War.

I grew up knowing that it was a sin to say the N-word, and I never heard my parents say it, not even once. When schools were desegregated when I was a teenager, I made black friends, discovered black music and tried to learn every dance I saw on Soul Train on Saturday afternoons. I was never afraid of black culture; I embraced it.

And after I was filled with the Holy Spirit at age 18 (on Southern Baptist property, mind you), I began to visit black churches and discovered the richness of the black Pentecostal experience. Today I feel more at home in some black churches than I do in some white ones. Some of my closest friends are black (both Northerners and Southerners) and they helped me celebrate when my oldest daughter adopted a baby from Africa two years ago.

Today, my black grandson (who bears my name) lives in South Carolina—only a few hours from Charleston, where nine brave black Christians were shot and killed on June 17 while they were having a Bible study at Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, is a troubled white kid who apparently got his inspiration from white supremacist teachings.

Roof recently posted a photo of himself on his web site waving a Confederate flag—prompting protesters and South Carolina legislators to call for the removal of the flag from state capitol property. When I heard Gov. Nikki Haley call for the flag to come down this week, I joined a chorus of Southerners who said, in unison, "Why hasn't it already been mothballed?"

Some people may protest, saying, "It's only a flag," or "It only represents our heritage." I disagree. The Confederate flag is an idol. It represents the evil force of racial hatred that has torn this country apart for more than a century and is still wreaking havoc on our cities today. If this symbol has the power to inspire a young man to blow away nine people with a 45-caliber Glock handgun, it may inspire others to commit even worse acts of terror.

Take the flag down. Put it in a museum and remind everyone who sees it that the South lost the Civil War because God is on the side of those who fight for justice.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter @leegrady. He is the author of The Truth Sets Women Free and other books. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at

]]> (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 24 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Isn't It Time You Got Unstuck in Your Walk With God?

"See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise men,making the most of the time because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15-17).

For years, like many others, I was a "stuck" Christian. Although no one I know has ever referred to me as the "prodigal son" since I supposedly gave my life to Jesus in 1989, it's been what I would call a pretty unproductive 26 years since in terms of service to God.

No, I haven't ventured out into the world and squandered a huge inheritance like the young man in Luke 15. Nor have I lived in the moment, so to speak, to continually and unabashedly satisfy my own selfish desires.

One definition of the Greek word "astos," translated prodigal, is "reckless and shamefully immoral." But another is "wasteful." I plead not guilty to the first two charges, but throw myself on the mercy of God's court concerning the latter.

It's not that I have been living a life of extravagant sin. I've been taking care of my family. We've been going to church. I've been serving the Lord in my job at Charisma Media.

Sin, however, is something of which you can repent. You cannot retrieve the past or turn back the hands of time.

In my eyes, I've been doing something far worse than committing extravagant sins. I have NOT been serving the Lord diligently and with all of my heart. I've simply squandered precious hours—even days and years—being lazy and selfish. I've paid more attention to my favorite sports teams than I have my Lord and Savior. I've devoted myself to other pursuits rather than give God everything I have.

And because we have a jealous God, that's simply unacceptable. Rick Warren once said, "God wants all of you. He doesn't want 10 percent of you, He doesn't want 50 percent of you, He doesn't want 99 percent of you—He wants all of you." Romans 6:13 says, "Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God."

To quote C.S. Lewis, "The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important."

Like the church in Laodicea, I was lukewarm. And what did Jesus say He would do with those types of Christians? "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Rev. 3:16).

I don't know about you, but I don't even want to picture Jesus figuratively "spitting" me out of His mouth. When I'm standing before Him on Judgment Day, I do not want to hear the words "I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil." (Matt. 7:23).

The past few months have seen a radical transformation for me. The Holy Spirit has prompted me to read more Scripture. I've been praying more. I've been writing this blog in hopes of impacting others for Christ (so please share this if it blesses you). I've been boldly doing my job "as unto the Lord" more fervently than before.

I'm telling you, Satan has really hated this new-found diligence of mine. In the past, he has thrown many different kinds of distractions my way; but it comes down to this: I've made up my mind to heed daily to James 4:7 which says, "Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Since submitting to God completely, I've found myself—as someone who has been moderately unhappy (self-imposed) and has kept those he loves from being as happy as they could be—enjoying life more than ever before. In other words, I have been freed from the quagmire. I'm no longer stuck.

Even in trials and tribulations—as James 1 says that we as believers will have in this life—I've found myself more at peace with the world. That's saying something for me and my Type-A personality.

And to think of all that time I wasted. All I had to do was submit and surrender to God.

I know what some of you are saying. "It's not all that easy. You don't know what I'm going through."

Maybe not, but I do know this: You are not going to get unstuck from the mediocre life that you're wallowing in by staying status quo. The Lord can and will do for you what he's done for me and with me.

James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." As Warren so eloquently puts it, "There is not a single verse in the Bible, not one, that says you can be a Christian and live your life any old way you want to."

Please, don't waste precious time as I have wallowing in the mire.

Isn't it time you surrendered all to God? Isn't it time you "stepped out of the boat?" Isn't it time you got "unstuck?"

And, as I always like to say, "There is that."

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.

]]> (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 24 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Are We in the Beginning of the Tribulation?

The signs of the times are all around us, say Jim Bakker and John Shorey. 

All one has to do is turn on the news to see the Islamic State martyring Christians or earthquakes swallowing people and landscapes or floods wiping out homes and lives. 

We're living in the prophesied times, the men say. Watch the video to see why. 

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 24 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Share Your Faith

I remember the first time a college professor made fun of my faith. I was taking a history class at a small community college, but the professor spent more time talking about his atheistic beliefs than World Civilizations. He would work jabs against Christianity into every lecture. I'd sit there and squirm. I wanted to say something, anything, to make him see the error in his ways.

Finally, halfway through the semester I got up the nerve to say something to the professor. I raised my hand and made a comment about evidence of God's hand in history. The professor listened for 10 seconds, laughed, and then he continued on with his comments. I was embarrassed, and I never spoke up again. Looking back, that incident impacted me. It made me fearful of sharing my faith. I didn't want to be embarrassed, and I got used to keeping my thoughts to myself.

It was only years later that I realized that Jesus understood and dealt with the same thing.

In Luke:20, we see incident after incident of those who were trying to trap Jesus, to discredit him, and to make Jesus look bad in the eyes of the people. Jesus didn't spout off volumes of truth, proving them wrong. Luke 20:8 says, "Jesus said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.'"

Jesus knew what I learned—there are some people whose minds will not be changed no matter what we say. They have hard hearts. They listen only to come up with a rebuttal.

As Proverbs 26:4 says, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like unto him."

Jesus talks about this again in Matthew 7:6: "Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn around and attack you."

If you come up against someone like my professor you may want to share your faith, but if that doesn't work out, don't let it stop you from reaching out to others who have softer hearts.

When to Share

As a mom of 10 children, one of my greatest desires has been to raise kids who can share their faith. John and I have taken our kids on mission trips. We've encouraged them to be shining beacons wherever they are. We've taught them how to share their faith by knowing what to look for.

How can they do that? By going through these steps when reaching out to others:

  1. Get them to trust you as a Christian.
  2. Get them curious about Jesus.
  3. Get them to ask questions.
  4. Get them to consider making changes in their own lives.
  5. Invite them to have a personal relationship with Jesus.*

Jesus knew that there were some people who wanted to hurt Him, to kill Him. Yet He was always on the lookout for those with seeking hearts.

In your own life, know that there will be times when sharing your faith will not be easy or fruitful. There will be times when your words will bounce off hard hearts.

Instead of being discouraged, be like Jesus and look for those who trust you, who are curious and who ask questions. Those are the people worth spending time with. The time you spend with soft-hearted people will hopefully reap eternal rewards!

*These principles are taken from the book I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus by Don Everts and Doug Schnapps

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 Tue, 23 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: What Shemitahs Past Mean for the Super Shemitah Year


The seven-year cycle seems to be all the rage in Charismatic circles, especially with the Super Shemitah set to hit this September. 

In short, it's a pattern of the Sabbath, that is, every seventh year where debts are forgiven. How has this played out in history?

Watch the video to see.

]]> (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
4 Ways to Make the Most of One-On-One Time With Your Kids

There's not a dad among us who doesn't find scheduling to be a challenge. We invest in our work, we invest in our commitments, and we run out of hours in a day.

Time gets away from us to the extent that we feel overwhelmed, rushed, and a little bit out of control. Then we miss out on the best investment dads can make.

Sometimes, we end up missing school stuff, family time, and more. It happens too often.

You know, those events and details that look like a small deal—until all of a sudden they're a big deal. We're stretched, we're disconnected, and we see our children grow up too fast, slipping out of our reach before we know it. Consequently—and mostly because we've missed too many small details—we see our relationships with our kids become more reactive than proactive. Not all the time, but enough to remind us that we need to make a change.

Solution: What we need is to invest more time in our kids. Not so much random or haphazard encounters, but planned quality time. It's about being intentional; it's about investing in our kids. Breakfast with dad, walking the dog together, movie night, even an overnight trip. It's about being deliberate; it's about going one-on-one.

Here are some great ideas designed to keep us ahead of the curve with our children, custom crafted to help dads stay in the loop, and have some fun too. And don't forget to write them on the calendar as a "don't miss" appointment.

1. Dog walk with dad. Try making it a habit. Twenty minutes of one-on-one time for non-agenda conversation. Small talk. Building rapport. Got more than one kid? Share the schedule. Chances are this is something they'll all look forward to. But be prepared. Real conversations could break out, so keep your phone in your pocket.

2. Breakfast with dad. Hook in with an All Pro Dad's Day at their school or simply schedule one day per week as breakfast with dad day on the way in. Variations could include ice cream night with dad or Saturday brunch while mom sleeps in. The key here is undivided, one-on-one attention. No agenda, just time.

3. Museum of the month. No matter where you live, there's some accessible culture, a state park, or a few historic sites within reach. Make exploring a go-to dad event. Let the kids be in on the research and planning. Be excited, Dad, even if you're not naturally a museum or a history kind of a guy. It's about the relationship.

4. Movie night madness. Use your imagination. You could work a theme, such as, "The best sports movies in history." "Classically awful monster films." Or "Movies that dad loved as a kid." Followed by movie analysis over a pizza.

It's about being intentional; it's about investing in our kids. The overriding, ironclad, "must not be broken" rule here is this: Give the kids 100 percent of your attention. Make "dad time" accessible and regular. Remember: It's the best investment dads can make.

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men's resource, a committed encourager and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Derek Maul/For Featured Men Life Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
How to Stay Fit While Traveling

Summer, at first glance, seems to be much more conducive to staying fit than winter does. Whereas in winter, we can easily blame cold weather and cozy beds for our tendency to sleep in instead of work out, in summer, the temperatures are warm (sweltering here in south Texas!), the sun is shining, bright green grasses are begging to be frolicked upon, and hiking trails and swimming pools are calling our name.

But so are vacations. And for many of us, vacations mean temptations to eat more and move less.

Most people I train have a love/hate relationship with vacations for the precise reason that they seem to have a sneaky way of undoing hard work in the gym. Leading up to their trip, they train hard and eat well, but take two steps backward the moment they arrive at their destination. An all-or-nothing mentality takes over when they're presented with all-you-can-eat buffets and beautiful beaches, and they return home feeling defeated by that "cheeseburger in paradise."

But vacations don't have to be defeating, I promise! In this article, I'm going to give you practical tips that will help you stay on the straight and narrow road of health and fitness while still enjoying your summer escape.

1. In the plane. It's important to start your trip off on the right foot. Before you get to your vacation spot, set the bar high to establish how you're going to eat for the duration of the trip.

It's no secret that airline food (if your airline serves meals) is subpar in taste and nutrition. Bring what food you can from home, such as fruit, nuts, no-refrigeration-required nut butter, carrots, celery sticks, or all-natural snack bars. Pack these in your carry-on and steer clear of the airport's sugary, salty snacks.

After you've made it through security, any food you purchase can be brought onto the plane. Definitely say "No" to artificially sweetened beverages and go for the bottled water or unsweetened tea instead. Fortunately, more healthy eating establishments seem to be popping up in more and more airports, so take the time to find out where these are located and bid bon voyage to the fast food options.

When you're in the air, avoid soft drinks (especially diet ones!) and alcohol, as both can dehydrate you. Not only do flyers experience physiological changes related to an increase in altitude, they are also exposed to low moisture levels.  Aircraft cabin humidity levels are unnaturally low, from 5-10 percent, creating an environment with less humidity than the Sahara Desert! Water is always the best choice for preventing dehydration, fatigue, lightheadedness, and jet lag, not to mention keeping cravings at bay.

2. In the car. Sitting in the car for hours on end, stopping only to use the restroom or eat a meal, can take its toll on your health and fitness fast. To avoid the lure of the golden arches, invest in a cooler. A big one. And fill it up with healthy snacks like raw veggies, homemade sandwiches, and fruit. Restock along the way when you have the opportunity to stop at local grocery stores or farmers markets.

For help finding healthy local eateries, try the GoodFoodNearYou app, which pinpoints the healthiest menu options at restaurants in your area, including fast food chains.

On particularly long road trips, be sure to stop at least once a day for an exercise and stretching break (in that order.) Check your road map or GPS for nearby parks where you can go for a walk, or spend some time exploring a new town or city, by foot of course!

3. In the hotel. The first thing to look for while searching for a hotel is ... you guessed it ... a fitness center! Or at least a pool. Most major booking sites allow you to customize your search to show only hotels that offer certain fitness amenities.

If your hotel doesn't have a gym, bring a few pieces of home equipment along with you, such as a jump rope or resistance bands. You could even bring a workout DVD with you and do it first thing in the morning, leaving the rest of the day to focus on your itinerary!

As a lower-tech option, you can jog around the local neighborhood, or devise your own bodyweight workouts using tried and true exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups!

Along with a fitness facility, you may also consider booking a room that has a kitchenette, as this will save you money on food and enable you to cook healthy meals without all the salt, butter, and unhealthy oils that many restaurants use.

4. On the ship. Cruises are arguably the worst offenders when it comes to derailing diets. They are notorious for boasting beaucoups of food at all hours of the day. However, in the midst of the pastries and pizzas, most cruise lines offer healthier options with reduced sodium, trans fats, and simple sugars. Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Carnival, and many other lines have eliminated trans fats completely from their dining rooms.

Along with giving into gluttony (let's call it for what it is), cruisers generally face the temptation to lounge by the pool instead of staying active. But on today's ships, there's no reason not to exercise—if you have the motivation, which as believers, is derived from our desire to glorify God with our bodies. Nearly all ships have a gym and jogging track, and most also offer a number of fitness classes that passengers can take throughout their cruise. Newer ships even have ice skating rinks and rock climbing walls! There really is no excuse not to burn some calories and break a sweat while at sea.

Off the ship, choose active shore excursions, like kayaking, hiking or biking. If you do enough physical activity during the day, then you can splurge on ice cream at night guilt free (one serving will do it!).

If you're interested in a bit of light reading that will motivate you to stay on track while traveling and provide quick, bodyweight workouts, check out my book Perfect Fit available for the Kindle and in paperback.

Stay fit, stay faithful.

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. Diana can be reached on Twitter.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Why It's Crucial to Make God's Word a Priority in Life

A question I recently have pondered is how can people label themselves as a 'MATURE' Christian and not be reading their Bible.

The Bible is the bread of life, the authoritative Word of God. We can't simply choose when to pick it up and read it and when to set it down for months at a time. Yes, months at a time and even up to a year is what I am hearing from Christians as I travel the U.S.  These are leaders, volunteers, evangelists and some of them the very people that are teaching and instructing our youth, but not in the Word themselves.

I am continually surprised by the number of Christians I speak to that are not reading their Bibles. The excuses are just that, excuses! I invite them to think about how much they read in a day. You read the newspaper, magazine headlines as you stand in the grocery checkout, the texts on your phone and Yahoo news every time you fire up the internet which is several times a day.

Your favorite book is often read before your Bible and devotions at the breakfast table are often counted as Bible reading and are being used as a substitute to truly get into the Word of God. God never meant for devotions and Christian books to be a substitute to the Word of God. They are supposed to enhance it, co-labor with it.

In the day of Internet mania our social media posts could be the only Bible someone reads. How concerning is that? The Bible instructs us in end times many false teachers will arise and lead us astray. How easily we can be led astray if we are relying on social media to be the only Bible we read. How do we know the Scripture was typed right or interpreted correctly?

Bible reading is imperative. We are so entirely blessed that we live in the U.S., a country where we can freely open our Bibles every day and read the written Word of God. Yet so many Christians seldom open up the Word of God. Is the Bible always easy to understand? No, it's not. However, as a believer desiring to live a life worthy of the King we must attempt to read the Word of God. To make no attempt to read what the Holy Spirit has inspired to be put on paper is simply complacency and laziness. The devil loves it when Christians are complacent and lazy. 

I know there are days that the excuse is that we are too busy to read our Bibles, but really, were we too busy to eat, go to the bathroom, brush our teeth, comb our hair and shower? It needs to be a priority and a desire. If it is not a desire why not pray and ask the Heavenly Father to make it a desire, to stir up the desire within you.

What we do in a day is where our heart is or is not. It is our choice. Did you have time to check email, social media, but cannot check the Word of God? It is all a choice. The choice I want to make is to follow God. To saturate my soul and spirit with the authoritative Word of God every chance I get. Why not make that Bible app on your phone a priority?

To read and understand the Bible takes effort, but we studied for a college exam and we research on the Internet what is important to us. What can be more important than taking in the Word of God? When we studied for college we got out our books laid them out on the table and studied and cross referenced. We too must cross reference our Bibles.

We must study, dig in deep and pull the understanding out of it. A great way to do this is by trying a new or different Bible or have two or three together side by side. I love the new MEV Bible by Charisma. It takes something you have read several times before and makes it come to life inside of you, it really brings the meaning and interpretation home to you. We can't simply read the Bible to gain understanding, we must study it! 

If people are going to rely on you and social media to get their word do you have enough in you to sustain them? If all our Bibles and phone apps were taken away or if you were stranded on an island do you have enough of the Word of God in you to sustain you?

When are we going to start living the very Bible we read and when are we going to make reading it a priority? Times are coming to a close quickly where Jesus will be returning.  Darkness is invading the earth and we need to know what the Word of God says to live in these perilous times. We need to know what it says about false teachers, righteous living and everything else. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and instructor.

The Bible is full of hope for your situation, answers to your problems, comfort for your broken lonely heart. What is holding you back from making Bible reading a priority in your life? Whatever is holding you back, realize it's an excuse.

You make time for what is important to you. Today I pray you will make time to read your Bible and then go out and apply it to your circumstance. You just may discover you are on the way to the victory that you had been hoping for.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God.  She is a prophetic deliverance minister who 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. For more information visit

]]> (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 23 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Why the Charleston Tragedy Happened

"Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21).

Sometimes God's ways are hard to fathom. When Martha sent word to Jesus that her brother was sick, Jesus remained silent and still.  And her brother died. When Jesus did show up four days later, Martha told Him He was too late to make a difference.

Why does God seem silent and still when our world collapses and the worst happens? In any city, but especially in a city where no building is allowed to be higher than a church steeple, why did He allow Dylann Roof to enter the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, knowing what the demonically deranged guy was planning to do?  Why did He not protect the pastor and eight other church members on June 17 as they met for prayer and Bible study? "Lord, if You had been here ..." Was God not there that night?  Was He asleep?  Did He not care? Was He just neglectful? Why did He allow this to happen?  Why didn't He prevent it? Why?

In response to my "why" questions, He gave me the same answer He gave to Martha. He used the tragedy in her life to give a message to the world for all time that He is indeed the Resurrection and the Life. His answer? "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40). Then Jesus raised her brother from the dead! Martha did indeed see His glory!

But I responded with another question ... How will You be glorified through this horrific tragedy? And this is what He seemed to whisper to my heart:  At a time of racial tension, polarization, and even increased hatred, could it be God is giving Emanuel AME Church, as well as other Christians, an opportunity to preach a sermon to the entire nation and even to the watching world?  And what's the title to the sermon?  "Love your enemies ... and pray for those who ... persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

Could it be that God is wanting the world to see that Christians, regardless of race or creed, respond to hate crimes in a very different way than others have responded in Baltimore or Ferguson or elsewhere?  When Jesus Himself was subjected to the most vile hate crime in history, He set the example for us when He prayed, "Father, forgive them."

With tears on my face, on bended knee, I pray for grace to do the same.

Anne Graham Lotz, founder of AnGeL ministries, has proclaimed God's Word worldwide for more than 30 years. Her newest book, Wounded by God's People, is available at

]]> (Anne Graham Lotz) Featured Women Life Tue, 23 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400
2 Biblical Ways to Break the Cycle of Addiction

So many Christians are in bondage to addictive behaviors, they want to be free, but don't know how. One such young woman came forward for ministry at a healing conference in Kentucky. Her addiction was cigarettes and it had control over her. But she wanted deliverance and freedom.

I laid hands on her and renounced the spirit of addiction in her, and declared that from now on when she would try to smoke a cigarette she would start to vomit. And she put it to the test. As soon as the service was over she ran outside and took a puff of a cigarette and her body immediately started to vomit on the church steps. Her body now rejected what it once craved. But along with physical deliverance, her soul, mind and emotions needed to be healed and renewed to remain free from the addition.

You may be like this woman with an addiction to some type of sinful behavior and need deliverance and renewal of your mind.  So, here is a plan of action from the Scriptures to help you overcome any and all addictive behaviors.

1. Before you can overcome an addiction you first have to admit that you have a problem and that it is a sin. James 5:16 instructs us to "confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much."

2. Make a quality decision that you will do whatever is necessary to be free from this ungodly behavior. There is a plan to freedom in James 4:7: "Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

How do you submit to God and resist the devil?

  • Ask God for forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

  • Read the Bible and cleanse yourself spiritually so "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26).

  • Listen to faith-building messages. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).

  • Fast and pray for deliverance. "He said to them, 'This kind cannot come out except by prayer and fasting'" (Mark 9:29).

  • Pray in the Spirit to encourage yourself. "But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 1:20).

  • Take control of your thoughts by "casting down 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).

  • Confess out loud the promises of God over yourself. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Prov. 18:21).

  • Keep your joy level strong. "Then he said to them, 'Go your way. Eat the fat, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength'" (Neh. 8:10).

  • Be full of the Holy Spirit. "Do not be drunk with wine, for that is reckless living. But be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:18-20).

  • Don't take on stress or worry. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God" (Phil. 4:6).

  • Surround yourself with supportive people. "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (1 Cor. 15:33).

A spirit of addition is out to control and destroy you. And to be free you have to make a quality decision that you will do whatever it takes to be delivered from its destructive power. If you will do these things on a daily basis, eventually you will break free from sinful and addictive behaviors. The enemy will flee from you, and the freedom you so desire will be yours.

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. Visit her at

]]> (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Tue, 23 Jun 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: I See a Great Wave of Glory Hitting the Globe

The hubs are arising! This is the word that has been burning in my spirit. The Lord is igniting the flames of revival fire in various regions of the earth.

I was in prayer seeking God about His plans for the nations when suddenly a vision erupted in my spirit. I saw light springing forth from various places in the world. As I looked I could see this all over the globe. I literally saw a network of lit up places all connected (it looked like some type of digital map).

I began to ask the Lord: what am I seeing? He spoke to me that these are global revival hubs. Each hub is a strategic place of outpouring. As the Lord continued to reveal to me His plans for revival centers and hubs He showed me that they would function differently than what I would typically perceive as a revival center.

The hubs are not only called to be places of revival and outpouring but also of equipping and advancing. Radical moves of the Spirit and hosting the presence of God are only part of the call of these emerging centers. These must also be places that teach, activate and equip the body of Christ for last days harvest and every member active!

I see a great wave of glory coming upon the hubs! The hubs will carry different expressions of revival in this hour yet each is vital to the plans of the Father. We must be very cautious not to attempt to create a cookie-cutter pattern for the revival centers and hubs that are being established.

The revival hubs are called to embrace partnership between the apostolic and prophetic. The apostolic anointing is a building and governing anointing. The hubs carry a mandate for regional revival, equipping and activation! The prophetic anointing reveals.

In order for transformation to unfold and revival to be released there must be divine revelation. A hub is a place of continuing refreshing and outpouring. It is not just a place that enjoys a seasonal outpouring. This is an expression of the apostolic mandate to build places of presence and power! These are also places of prayer and intimacy.

"This is the discovery of a paradigm that will unleash a global harvest as my plans and purposes are fulfilled in the earth," says The Lord. "I'm building the foundation for revival and revival centers, it is not the work of man but the ordination of my Spirit."

The Father is placing men & women in particular places to dig deep wells of revival and refreshing for a region. He is establishing ministries that will serve as a HUB of revival in their territory. These HUBS are places of divine outpouring and awakening led by radical revivalists whose heart's cry is to see a great awakening. The agenda of the hour is not just building another ministry but to release the spiritual destiny of a region and host the presence of God in a way that brings radical transformation to the lives of people.

Here are 8 characteristics of revival hubs:

1. Marked by hunger. It is the hungry that will press in and invite an outpouring in a region.

2. Digging wells that will not only bless the hub but also the region and beyond!

3. Will face opposition as the well gets deeper and the transforming presence of God grows in the hub.

4. Presence driven. The revival hubs and those who lead them place great emphasis and value upon the presence of God.

5. Prayer fueled. Prayer is key to birth and sustain revival.

6. Release the sounds of heaven. Revival HUBS are impacted by revival worship. God is birthing new sounds for a new move. There is no room for performance driven worship in these hubs. The worship that is coming forth draws people deeper into encounter. 

7. Known for miracles & power. Revival hubs are places of supernatural power where bodies are healed, live changed and miracles released.

8. Places of fathering and equipping. The emerging move is an apostolic and prophetic driven revival. The hubs that God is raising up birth and establish spiritual sons and daughters. As the move of God continues, training is key to raise up a generation that releases the Kingdom.

Let me leave you with this Scripture: Isaiah 55:1, "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."

Ryan LeStrange has been preaching the gospel for more than half of his life. As a young man, God led him to leave his home and travel to Tennessee to study and train under Dr. Norvel Hayes, who later became his spiritual father. Pastor Ryan shares the apostolic call of Dr. Hayes to establish churches, ministries and Bible colleges, and to train leaders in the body of Christ. Ryan hosts a weekly television show on God TV called Power4Today. Ryan is the apostle and leader of Impact International Apostolic Fellowship, a network of churches and ministries around the world with a single vision to birth revival. He has founded two Bible colleges, served as an associate pastor and traveled as an evangelist. Visit him online at

]]> (Ryan LeStrange) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 23 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0400
How Can You Make Sure Your Prayers Are Effective?

We had a team of college-aged young men and women come to Revolution Church for Mission Manitou, a spiritual warfare missions experience. It was an amazing week.  The highlight of the week was 'prayer in a cave.'  From time to time we'll have prayer teams join us for four hours of non-stop worship, prayer, prophecy, intercession and passion.

We are literally in a large cave, in perfect darkness with no sense of time. It's an experiment in Revelation Driven Prayer, or 100 Percent Effective Prayer. This particular night was a night I'll never forget. For nearly a year I had suffered from a severe pinched nerve in my right shoulder. My right arm and fingers would either tingle or go numb continually. My shoulder, at times, hurt so badly I could barely stand it. I had been to a chiropractor and a massage therapist.  Neither worked.

Prior to entering the cave, we had a powerful prayer and worship event at the church.  Near the end of that service, I had asked one of the prayer missionaries from Michigan to pray for my shoulder. This particular girl had been pressing so hard the entire week as God was healing her, touching her and shaking her. She craved breakthrough in her life.  She prayed for me for quite some time, and then it was time for all of us to enter the cave. I didn't experience a healing, though I was blessed that she took the time to pray for me.

In the cave, we experienced four seasons that the Lord established as a part of the Revelation Driven Prayer training program.  
Step 1: Elimination

First, we repented. We eliminated everything from the depths of our heart. Complete surrender. Remember, it's perfectly dark in the cave. You can't see your hand in front of your face. People's cries were echoing thorough the cavern. People who never had the confidence to cry out or to pray out in public were wonderfully released to do so. There was such a presence of the Holy Spirit as people wept and repented and released past hurts.  

The stronger the Holy Spirit stirs the more we crave to eliminate and repent deeply. The groanings of a broken and humbled person simply overwhelm people who are pressing intentionally and passionately into the place where God is moving.

"'When I shut up the heaven and there is no rain, or when I command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence on My people, if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer of this place'" (2 Chr. 7:13-15).

This season is often difficult for some to press through, but it's the most critical time we'll spend. The reason many people's prayer life is so frustrating is because the necessary sacrifice of time hasn't been made. Pressing into a place of repentance results in a lot of time being made undone before our Father. If we humble ourselves, pray and seek we'll discover God's favor. Seeking takes time. Lengthy prayer simply must be a normal reality on a continual basis if we desire to break through to the heart of God.

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the contrite of spirit" (Ps. 34:17-18).

This is what we found in the cave–people crying out! If we go to a deeply expressive place of repentance, desperation, desire and longing for our Lover, our Lover will hear us!  If our heart is broken, He is near to us! That is one amazing Scripture!

However, so often our prayers are thrown up to heaven almost in passing without any brokenness at all, and we wonder why God isn't responsive to us in the way the Word of God describes.

We'll often hear people yelling at the top of their lungs, "God I need You! Jesus, come into my life like never before! Please, fire of God, burn my flesh!"

We'll also hear people repenting of anything from apathy to mocking to abuse.  People want to be free from their unwitting alliance with the enemy. They don't want to be lukewarm, arrogant, insecure, suspicious or defeated in any way. This season of elimination causes us all to be emptied. Deliverance happens at times in this phase. People of all types, ages and maturity find themselves craving to have every hindrance removed from their lives so they can actually see God, right there in a place of perfect darkness. 

On this particular cave experience, after an hour or so of pouring our hearts out to God we moved into the next phase–Consecration. 

Step 2: Consecration

This is a time of adoration, worship and becoming aligned as perfectly as possible with Christ Jesus. It was beautiful to hear the raw worship sounding off the walls of the cavern. After finding themselves empty after the previous season, people were longing to be full of a supernatural fire. God was closer than ever! 

"I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).

This second season is critical if we are to clearly hear God in the next season.  As we find ourselves emptied of past sins, issues and mindsets, we can now simply say, "Father, here am I, send me!"

Instead of desiring to warm our flesh by the fire of God's presence, we lay our bodies, as living sacrifices, directly on the fire and cry out, "Consume us God!"

We tell God that our lives are in His hands. If He desires for us to be martyred for His cause, then that's what we want. If He wants us to step into a certain mission, then that's what we need to do. Our lives are no longer our own, but we are surrendered to God. We are consecrated to Him. We're excited about what God can do through a completely yielded vessel.

This season is marked by a lot of excitement and wonderful freedom. The result of eliminating all of our baggage is a bunch of extra room for God to operate in our lives.  The Spirit of God literally fills us up to overflowing, and we are suddenly putty in His hands.

We may go on for a couple of hours in this season. We'll worship, weep, experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, pray boldly in tongues, continually break in His presence and fall deeply in love with Him. It's simply amazing. Now, with the old man crucified and the Spirit of God blowing like a wind in and through us, it becomes very easy to hear His voice. We capture His dreams and desires for our lives.    

The next season is critical to the process of Revelation Driven Prayer—hearing God. 

This article was excerpted from John Burton's book, Revelation Driven Prayer. For part 1, click here. Tune in Wednesday for Part 3 of this series.

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at

]]> (John Burton ) Featured Prayer Spirit Tue, 23 Jun 2015 09:00:00 -0400
10 Signs You Are a Charismaniac

As a believer with a Pentecostal experience since 1978 I have seen many genuine moves of God as well as many counterfeit works of the flesh. Unfortunately, many believers lack the discernment to tell the difference between what is of God and what originates with man.

My grandmother was the pastor of a classical Pentecostal Hispanic church for over 50 years. Through that experience I was able to understand some Pentecostal roots and practices. Generally speaking, the ethnic classical Pentecostals (in every ethnic group I have come across: Italian, Spanish, African-American, Russian to name a few) were known to be very strict when it came to outward holiness, to the point that many of us called them legalistic (For example: women could not wear pants or make-up or cut their hair; no movies; no dancing; no entertainment; and even the men had a strict dress code of wearing a suit and a tie).

Out of the Pentecostal movement arose the Charismatic movement of the 1960s and 1970s in which the historic denominational churches received the second blessing (baptism of the Holy Spirit) with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

Because of the legalism associated with the word Pentecostal, many evangelicals across denominational lines have since felt more comfortable using the term "charismatic" to describe their Pentecostal experience that includes speaking in tongues, believing in divine healing, and deliverance from demonic oppression.

However, in the past decade I have witnessed so much excess in some charismatic circles that I have also felt uncomfortable at times using that term to describe my Pentecostal leanings. Consequently, I use the term "evangelical" to describe my expression of Christianity because both "Pentecostal" and "charismatic" have a certain kind of baggage associated with them.

A classical charismatic and/or Pentecostal, in the way I am defining them, is a person who has received Christ as Lord and Savior, who stands on the word of God as the final authority, and who also believes in the manifestations of the Spirit as found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-8, as well as the gift of speaking in tongues as found in 1 Corinthians 14:2,4.

Charismatics and Pentecostals should also regularly listen to the voice of God inside of their spirit to give them wisdom (as opposed to some fundamentalist evangelicals who believe God only speaks through the written pages of the Bible).

There are other distinctions I could mention to describe a classical charismatic or Pentecostal if I had the time.

Through the years, some with the charismatic experience have become so subjective they have embraced wild fire and given charismatics a bad reputation. I understand that prominent evangelical John MacArthur is having some kind of conference dealing with "strange fire" related to the charismatic movement. But I am skeptical of a critique coming from a person historically biased against Pentecostals. (Also, I would much rather have "strange fire" than no fire at all!) I would rather hear from a practicing charismatic or Pentecostal. Hence, today's subject for this article is related to 10 erroneous beliefs or practices from among some in the charismatic camp.

The following are 10 signs you are involved in charismania or are a charismaniac:

(The vast majority of charismatics I know do not believe or practice any of the following.)

1. You put prophecies and extra-biblical leadings on the same level as the written Word of God. Isaiah 8:20 says if we speak not according to the Scripture then we have no light. Second Timothy 3:16 teaches that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. The Scriptures are our rule for life and the highest standard for judging truth.

Unfortunately, some in the charismatic camp seem to be led more by personal prophecies and supernatural visions and dreams than by the Scriptures. I have known some people who would record personal prophecies by well-known "prophets" and—without praying about it or comparing it to Scripture or getting discerning counsel from more seasoned leaders in the kingdom—would just obey the prophecy as if it were as inspired as the Bible.

There are some others who seem to be getting daily visions and dreams from God that guide them. While I do believe God can speak through visions and dreams, we have to be careful because Satan also comes as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and can deceive naïve believers who think that just because they have a supernatural encounter that it must be the Lord. Paul said that even if an angel from heaven appears and preaches another gospel let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8).

The more sure word of prophecy comes from the inspired writings of the canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments, which should be our guiding light for life (2 Peter 1:19-21) and by which all prophetic utterances should be judged. If the prophetic word or supernatural vision doesn't go against the Scriptures, then we still need to pray and get a witness from the Lord in our spirit as well as get counsel from mature leaders as to whether this specific prophetic word or vision is really specific guidance from Him (The Scriptures cannot always give us specific guidance but provide general principles and precepts).

Lest my non-charismatic friends gloat over this point, let me say that a totally objective human being does not and cannot exist. All humans are subjective, even the non-charismatics who believe God only speaks to us through the Bible. The only truly objective being in the universe is God because He is the only one who is never influenced by time, space or environment! Even fundamentalist cessationists (those who believe the gifts of the Spirit and speaking in tongues ceased after the first century of the church) are subjective because they believe they are saved because they have "a witness in their spirit" that they are children of God (Romans 8:16).

Since we can't avoid subjectivity then how do we determine biblical truth? The only way to know the truth is to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us and our leaders into all truth when we study the Scriptures, as well as the fact we have a responsibility to read how the believing church down through the centuries has interpreted the word historically. Hence, when there is a consensus from the evangelical church regarding the interpretation of a passage or truth of the Bible then we can have general assurance that the Holy Spirit has illuminated this truth to His people.

2. You are blindly led by charismatic leaders. Although this can be the case for the non-charismatic world as much as the charismatic world, as a charismatic I am going to pick on my own camp. I have seen far too many believers get caught up in following the teachings of charismatic leaders, even if their leaders are not living moral lives. There have been leaders who endorse political candidates who push anti-biblical laws; charismatics not only follow them but vote like them! There have been charismatics who are getting divorced unbiblically and remarrying, or living lavish opulent lifestyles with no accountability.

But, because they have "charisma," move in the gifts of the Spirit and have a great preaching anointing, people follow them without question! Many churches have devolved into nothing more than personality cults and are led by charismatic leaders who could preach heresy with much of the church still shouting amen and hallelujah.

On the Day of judgment God will hold each of us accountable for our lives, our families and our callings. We will not be able to give an excuse for being led astray by a leader if we have not taken the time to study the Scriptures and seek God for ourselves.

3. You come to church looking for experiences more than Jesus. Many in charismatic churches come to church to "feel" God's presence because it makes them feel good. That is all good and fine for new believers but we must get to where we want to know the person of God and not just feel the presence of God. (For example, I want to know my wife's heart, not just smell her perfume or feel her physical embrace.) Only when we know God (John 17:3) can we make Him known.

4. You think weird physical gyrations or manifestations are necessary to experience when "in the Spirit." There have been some so-called revivals or renewal movements in Pentecostal and charismatic churches (even in classical Pentecostal churches) in which people think the Holy Spirit is moving upon a person because they start jerking, going into weird gyrations, barking like a dog, clucking like a chicken, dancing in the Spirit, running, spinning, etc. When I first preached in a classical Pentecostal church I thought someone was having an epileptic attack but then someone told me it was the Holy Ghost upon them.

While I am sure the Holy Spirit does at times move upon us in such a way that we have a strong physical, emotional and psychological reaction to the raw power and presence of God (which has happened to me on several occasions), I am convinced that many people try to manufacture a move of God upon themselves that is nothing more than Pentecostal hype and a work of the flesh.

God does not have to operate in such a manner in order to speak to us or move upon us. Some of my most powerful experiences in Christ have been hearing His gentle, still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13) during times of intimate worship or just fellowshipping with Him as I went about my daily routine.

In my opinion, sometimes unstable people, in their zeal for God, give in to their emotions and manifest weirdness in the name of the Lord, which is nothing but a work of the flesh (and in some cases can be demonic). Furthermore, I have seen whole churches celebrate these weird manifestations as moves of God resulting in only attracting charismatic kooks from other churches with very few unbelievers getting converted.

5. You focus on soaking in the Spirit rather than being empowered by the Spirit to be a witness. According to Acts 1:8 the primary purpose of Spirit baptism is to be empowered to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. Thus, the power of the Spirit has a missional focus, not a self-centered focus. Many charismatics think the Spirit has come upon them to make them feel good and all they want to do is come to church to "soak in the presence of God." But my Bible teaches me that every single time a human being encountered the presence of God it resulted in God sending out that person to do work for His kingdom. (For example: Moses and the burning bush experience of Exodus 3; Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 2:1-3; Paul in Acts 22:14-15).

The book of Acts could also be called the book of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit is active in every aspect of the work of the church; the focus of the book of Acts is action, not feelings and not even teachings! It is not called the book of theories but the book of Acts for a reason! Even when the Antiochian church was corporately worshipping God, the Holy Spirit sent out two of their best leaders to preach the gospel (Acts

Charismaniacs are self-focused on soaking, not on being sent by God!

6. You are mystical and are not practical. The Bible is the most practical book in the world about stewarding the earth; it is not a book about heaven or focused on mystical things. When we are heavenly minded we are of earthly good (Colossians 3:1-3).

Charismaniacs are constantly having experiences, interpreting numbers, sequences, dreams, and visions in their lives and spiritualizing everything to the point in which they don't accomplish very much on the earth! Every spiritual or mystical experience that does not directly result in either me knowing God more intimately or being equipped to serve Him better in this world is a waste of time and not worth my attention.

7. You claim to speak to the saints in heaven. I have heard some leaders who have claimed to have conversations with the Old Testament patriarch Abraham and the Apostle Paul and other departed saints of old. This is dangerous and can lead to the saint worship heresy of the Roman Catholic tradition. First Timothy 2:5 says there is only one mediator between God and men: the man Jesus Christ. I don't need to speak to Paul, Mary, Abraham or any of the saints of old. Jesus assigned the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and to take of His and reveal it unto us (John 14:26; 16:14). Not even a heaven-abiding Paul the Apostle could do better than the Holy Spirit.

8. You always claim angelic appearances. Once I was asked to conduct a television interview with a person called the "Angel Lady." I turned it down because I did not want my name associated with this nonsense, as well as the fact that I would not have been a good host but would have seriously challenged her views and embarrassed her in public.

I don't need anyone teaching me how to connect to my "guardian angel." The only angel I want to know is the Angel of the Lord who encamps around those who fear the Lord (Psalm 34:7), whom many scholars believe is none other than Jesus Christ.

Although I know I have angels going before me when I do the work of the kingdom, it is not my responsibility to get to know them or give them orders. The Word of God teaches me to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and never admonishes me to get to know my guardian angel. This kind of foolishness can lead to angelic worship, which the Apostle Paul said would disqualify us (Colossians 2:18)! Although Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are sent to serve believers, Psalm 91:11 teaches that God is the one who commands them, not me! Giving angels orders bypasses the protocol of prayer that instructs us to approach the Father in the name of Jesus when we have need of something (John 16:23-24). The Bible says nothing regarding believers speaking or commanding angels. God is the Lord of Hosts and He knows best how to dispense His angelic army!

9. You lack biblical depth and doctrinal soundness. Few are the saints in the church that are like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures to see whether or not what Paul the Apostle was preaching was true (Acts 17:11).

Charismaniacs are driven by emotions, subjective feelings and very rarely crack open the Bible for serious study! The less knowledge of the Word you have, the less discernment you will have to know when thoughts and imaginations coming into your brain are from the Lord or from the devil (read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Consequently, charismaniacs are susceptible to false teachings and false prophets who can deceive them with false signs and wonders and unbiblical teachings (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Jesus told the religious leaders of His day they were in error because they knew not the Scriptures nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29). In my opinion, the Scriptures were mentioned first by Jesus because Scripture has to frame our power encounters so we can have proper discernment! No Scripture equals no discernment, and no discernment equals potential deception.

10. You are independent from the Body of Christ because you are "led by the Spirit." I have known several charismaniacs who are not connected to any one local church but just float around from church to church because, they told me, they are being led by the Spirit. People like this will never fully mature in the Lord because, like a seed, you have to be planted in the ground in order to reach your potential. (Psalm 92:13 says that being planted in the house of the Lord precedes flourishing!) Even Jesus needs
a body to fulfill His present mission (Ephesians 1:22-23). Those not committed to one local church are like a person who dismembers their hands and then expects them to function on their own.

In conclusion, the vast majority of charismatic/Pentecostal believers I know love the Lord. It is these kinds of churches that are expanding global Christianity. Without the charismatic/Pentecostal camp the church would be dead and on the road to extinction by now.

My purpose in writing this article is not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater," but to encourage the church to embrace the true purpose of Pentecost (Acts 1:8) and discard foolishness that will hinder kingdom advancement.

Joseph Mattera has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the presiding bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church in New York, a multiethnic congregation of 40 nationalities that has successfully developed numerous leaders and holistic ministry in the New York region and beyond. Click here to visit his website.

]]> (Bishop Joseph Mattera) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 23 Jun 2015 08:00:00 -0400
How to Discern Whether Someone Is Speaking From Pain or Passion

Have you ever heard someone speak and you could feel their passion, but you knew they were angry, resentful, hurt or grinding an ax? Have you ever said something out of frustration, believing it to be passion? Have you ever listened to a song and their talent was evident but their pain was as well? Or do you have no idea what I am talking about? The bible is riddled with sayings that help us to realize there is a fine line between two opposite sources from which information flows. Knowing the source of our statements, will help us to become more effective in our communication.

It doesn't take long on Social Media, in church or on the job to see someone's passion, but the more you listen, the more you hear their frustration or pain. Words reveal our hearts and most people don't listen to themselves, so they cannot discern their own spirits, let alone someone else's spirit.

However, if we are to mature; if we are to be healed; if we are to become more Christlike; we have to be able to discern ourselves and others. For words carry a spirit and if you accept their words, you also get the spirit from which those words came from. So, we need to be very careful who we listen to, for they may sound passionate, but it could be coming from their unhealed pain.

Proverbs 16:32 says "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." I used to love the warfare stuff, but once I went through the wilderness and allowed the Lord to heal my pain, I realized that just like Proverbs 16 says, warfare can be fuel for pain, more than it is truly passion.

Solomon ties being a mighty warrior to being impatient and angry, but most people cannot discern this, because we have been taught to value being a mighty warrior. Solomon goes on to say our desire to conquer cities is tied to our inability to conquer our own emotions, which again, he ties to anger. Anger is a protector of pain, so what looks like passion (mighty warrior or conquering a city) can actually be sourced in pain and we don't realize it.

Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart." Without the revelation that comes through the Word of God, we cannot discern the source of what we are saying, or what others are saying. In the next move of God, Damon Thompson says, "The Lord is opening up a gate of compassion, for the closer we get to the Lord, the more we will love people and be moved with compassion toward people."

If the source of our communication is not love, it is coming from pain and not passion. Jesus did everything from love and if we have not love, we are nothing. First Corinthians 13:2-3 says, "If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing."

The way you can discern if what you or someone else is saying is coming from pain or passion, is to put it through the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 love test, for if it's not from love, it's not passion; its pain masquerading as passion.

Lisa Great is an author, speaker and blogger with Mouthpiece Ministries International. She has been in ministry for over 25 years, she has a BA in Youth and Family Studies, a MA in Education. She can be reached at;; or on her Facebook page Lisa Great.

]]> (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Mon, 22 Jun 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Emotions Run Wild As 'Inside Out' Stands Out As A Major Emotion Picture

Animated movies have featured talking toys, monsters, animals and robots, but they rarely allow filmgoers to hear the voices in their head—until now.

"Inside Out" is Pixar's latest feature, which invites the audience to literally and hilariously experience the mind from the inside out.

"Inside Out" has garnered an unheard of nearly 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics of the film reviews website have deemed the movie "inventive, gorgeously animated and powerfully moving. Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics" along with "Toy Story," "Monsters Inc.," "Finding Nemo" and "Up."

"Inside Out" tells the life story of Riley Anderson (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), a spunky 11-year-old girl who loves hockey, but is uprooted from Minnesota when her father starts a new job in San Francisco.

Facing drastic changes in her life for the first time, Riley is faced with the challenges of attending a new school, making new friends, adjusting to new surroundings and attempting to fit in as she's enters a very tumultuous time in life—childhood to the teen years.

Like all humans, Riley is guided by her emotions—Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in "Headquarters," the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life.

Joy (Amy Poehler) is her most dominant emotion, quarterbacking the headquarters of Riley's mind, so that she maintain her happy, cheerful little girl persona. Riley's supporting emotions are Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)—all of whom pipe in at one point or another with their input, but with Joy frequently making the decision for the group.

"Come on, group hug! You too, Anger," as Joy rallies the emotions at one point. But Anger predictably retorts: "Don't touch me!"

When Sadness causes a serious mishap, leading to the loss of Riley's "core memories," Sadness and Joy—plus the core memories—are inadvertently sucked into Riley's subconscious mind. In this place, Riley cannot access her emotions of Sadness and Joy, nor her core memories, leaving her with the inability to express any emotion—except Fear, Anger and Disgust.

Due to their predicament, Sadness and Joy must work their way back to Headquarters. It's a seemingly impossible undertaking that must be completed soon or every defining memory that Riley cherishes—hockey, her friends, her goofy side and her family—will crumble, forcing her to become an empty shell of a person with the inability to feel.

The race-against-time scenario featuring the five emotions shows the audience that each emotion is essential and part of life. Along the way, Pixar creatively and amusingly gives a physical and colorful form to nearly every aspect and nuance of the mind—from the "subconscious prison," déjà vu, "imagination land," abstract thought, light bulbs to plug in for ideas, crates for facts and opinions, memories getting stored in shelves and the train of thought that runs through our heads.

The film's deep storytelling and emotion may seem complicated for younger moviegoers, but they can relate to what Riley goes through—fear about what could happen to her, disgust at what she doesn't understand, anger when things go wrong, sadness when she is at her lowest and joy when things can still go well even after all of that.

"Inside Out" also has deep underlying themes that adults will connect with, including the sometimes awkward and tumultuous journey towards adulthood and parenting with love.

Featuring animation that is breathtaking and bright, "Inside Out" is both an adventure and coming-of-age movie. Far from a faith-based film, "Inside Out" emphasizes biblical principles, especially the importance of family and the importance of well-being—the Bible says in Galatians 5:22 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace ..."

It's a good reason to let your emotions run wild at the cineplex to catch this instant classic.

Content Watch: "Inside Out" is rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action. In Riley's mind, she has a machine that makes imaginary boyfriends. Several of Riley's imaginary boyfriends fall off the edge of a cliff. Death is implied, as they keep saying, "I would die for Riley." Fear is often on the receiving end of cartoon violence. Anger realizes that Riley knows all the curse words, and says, "This is the ...." but he is bleeped by Fear. Characters are put into mild peril. A dog is apparently cut by half in a nightmare sequence. Overall, the movie is emotionally intense, but family friendly and safe for small kids.

Eric Tiansay is a freelance writer for

]]> (Eric Tiansay) Featured Movies The Buzz Fri, 19 Jun 2015 11:15:00 -0400
Did Don Piper Spend 90 Minutes in Heaven?

A staff member at a Houston-area church in 1989, Don Piper's near-fatal crash with an 18-wheeler semi-truck changed the trajectory of his career.

After an extended period of recovery, once the book about the mishap released and skyrocketed in popularity, Piper left church life behind to speak to audiences worldwide. The one-time Southern Baptist pastor has now logged nearly 2 million miles while visiting all 50 states and many foreign countries.

While acknowledging there are numerous critics of his account, Piper more often encounters former skeptics who—after seeing pictures of his demolished car and multiple scars on his body—apologize for doubting him.

"I'll say, 'You don't owe me an apology,'" Piper says. "If it hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't have believed it either. I know this: I was dead on that bridge and I'm alive now. But I don't harbor any ill will. It's a faith thing. You either believe it or you don't."

In addition to doing his part to spread the Great Commission, the author formed Don Piper Ministries to distribute monies raised by his speaking engagements. Among the many recipients are a Pentecostal church on an Indian reservation in New Mexico, a children's ranch in Orlando, and a relief shelter for homeless men and addicts.

"People still need hope," Piper says. "We need hope for now, for a better life and eternal life. This story seems to resonate with people in ways I couldn't have imagined. Jesus is the only way to heaven. I want to help people go there, and I want to help them have a better life getting there."

]]> (Ken Walker) Featured Supernatural Spirit Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Dads, Make Moments With Your Kids

One day when I was about 14, my dad invited me to join him and his friend for a round of golf. From the very first hole, I struggled as I usually do. Then came the 8th hole, where I would typically try to lay up in front of the pond in hopes that I could land a 5-iron on the green.

The trouble began when my tee shot rolled right into the water. I dropped a ball on the tee side of the pond, swung back the 5-iron and drove the club head directly into the dirt behind the ball sending it into the water. Then I did the same with another. And yes, another.

Dad told me to drop on the other side of the pond, but I had no interest in that. I dropped one more and hit it high into the sky, but that one also lived up to my golf ability, and splash ... number six into the water.

In frustration, I swung the club over my head like a lasso and the momentum pulled the club handle out of my hand, so now there were six golf balls and one golf club in the pond. And it wasn't just any golf club; I found out that day that it was one of the clubs my grandparents had given my dad for high school graduation. I felt awful, and was immediately sent to the car without finishing the round.

Now that I'm a dad of four kids (three boys and a girl), I have such a different perspective on stories like this. Through the years, whenever my dad and I reflected on that day on the 8th hole, he would always laugh with a little bit of What were you thinking? in his tone.

More recently, I have been given a new perspective on a lot more related to dads and their kids. In November 2014, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and told that he'd probably have 6 to 12 months left. After four sessions of chemo, doctors discovered that the cancer had almost doubled in size. Then on April 20, less than six months after his diagnosis, my father peacefully passed away in his sleep.

During those five months and 20 days, I learned more about fatherhood than I ever discovered in my previous 12 years of stumbling through it on my own. Though there are many things I could share, there are three perspectives that changed when I was losing my dad to cancer.

The Things We Remembered

It's not surprising that when the diagnosis was terminal cancer, our family grew nostalgic. We shared a lot of stories about Dad and about our times together. I was intrigued by the stories we told. They were not stories about how much Dad spent on us or the extravagant places we went; they were stories about being with dad in ordinary life—at the kitchen table, on car trips, at church or on the golf course.

My most significant memories were the times I played basketball with Dad, sat around the campfire with him, or went to watch him play volleyball in his competitive league. It occurred to me that the most memorable moments I had with my dad were the times he just brought me alongside him and invited me into the things he loved.

I could probably father so much more effectively if I would just invite my kids alongside me as I do the things I love. Those moments are the most powerful moments I remember with my dad, seeing him and being with him while he enjoyed things that were worth enjoying. It causes me to ask, "What could I invite my kids into and create moments with them in my everyday life?"

What I Wanted from My Dad

During those last five months of my dad's journey with cancer, I made that two-hour drive much more often than I had in previous years. He didn't ask me to come down that often; I just had it in my heart that I needed as much time as I could get with my dad before he was gone. I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to learn more about his childhood stories and what he reflected on about life as he was facing death.

My thoughts weren't about needing another trip with Dad or getting a gift from him. I wasn't consumed with a list of things Dad had to do for me before he died. In those moments, it was clear: I just wanted to be with Dad. Nothing else mattered other than taking in those precious moments each day that I could.

My dad continued to welcome me into his personal journey and just let me live alongside him as he did what he needed to do. Whether it was sitting in a chemo room or going out for lunch when he really couldn't eat anything (he just loved to see the people), being with Dad created even more memories that are precious to me now.

And with my kids, there are times when I think I know what they want, and perhaps it's really more about what I want for them. Doing life with my children will build my relationship with them and make memories more than anything else we can do together. I need to be careful not to be so invested in trying to give them the big things that I miss the everyday things they need from me.

Those everyday things will mean the most to them when I'm no longer able to walk alongside them. Those are the things I treasure reflecting back on time with my dad.

What I Witnessed in My Dad
I have never been more inspired by my dad than when I watched his journey from diagnosis to death. He chose to live each day instead of die each day. He didn't complain. He didn't lament. He didn't live in regret. He resolved in his spirit that he was going to grab every moment he could out of every day. He was going to enjoy his family, his church, his friends and former co-workers while he still had the chance.

There were days he would venture out to see someone he loved, and that 60-minute outing would wipe him out for the rest of the day if not the next couple of days. But he was determined to not miss that moment, that opportunity. Even when we questioned his strength, he was determined to live life and not just die.

One of those days, I remember saying that I wanted to die like my dad, and it probably shocked some people. No, I don't want to die of cancer, but I do want to live each moment to the fullest because I know my days are limited. I want to tell everyone I can that I love them. I want to take in every laugh. I want to relive every story. I want to enjoy the time I have with the people I love even if I am hurting or weary. I want to die like my dad because, for him, dying was about living the greatest life he possibly could with the time he had left.

My dad created moments throughout the 41 years we had together. Most of them were not big productions that cost money; they were just moments when he invited me to experience life alongside him. Those moments built extraordinary memories that I will cherish forever.

Today, as I learn to navigate life without my dad, I am so grateful that even when I did ridiculous things like throwing a golf club into the middle of the pond, he never stopped inviting me into moments with him. And now, I try to build moments with my kids that they will carry with them well beyond my lifetime. 

Ryan Nelson is married and has four children. He's a home inspector in the Kansas City area and roasts coffee to raise resources for non-profits with his family's business, Grounds for a Cause. He and his family love hosting about 15-35 friends and neighbors for Family Dinner Night nearly every Thursday evening.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Ryan Nelson ) Featured Men Life Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:00:00 -0400
7 Secrets You Should Never Keep From Your Doctor

Honesty is the best health policy, but many patients are embarrassed to share certain types of personal information with their doctors.

That can be a costly—even deadly—mistake, says Joe Colella, M.D., a Pittsburgh-based physician.

"Very often patients hold back or distort important information that can be lifesaving," he tells Newsmax Health. "They're afraid of being judged, but they should never feel that way. Doctors don't generally make moral judgments. They are there to make you healthier, which they can't do if they don't know the facts."

Here are seven secrets you should never withhold from your doctor: 

1. You're taking supplements. 

Your doctor needs to know everything you are taking, including vitamins and other supplements to make sure that there is no dangerous interactions between them or with drugs you are taking. Gingko, for example, can dangerously interact with blood pressure medications. 

2. There's blood in your stool or urine.

People don't like to talk about body functions, but the presence of blood can signal more serious illness, says Dr. Colella. Blood in the stool is a symptom of colorectal cancer which, if caught early, is curable.

3. You saw something on the Internet that worries you.

"I'm a huge fan of having well informed patients," says Dr. Colella. "It means that they are paying attention to their health. Just remember that medical information gathered from the web is general and may not relate to your case."

4. You have poor diet and exercise habits.

Dr. Colella says that most people exaggerate about how much they exercise and downplay unhealthy eating. "You shouldn't be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about your diet because he or she can help," he says. 

5. You are depressed or have other mental symptoms.

There should be no stigma about mental illness when talking to your doctor. If you are feeling depressed, your doctor is the first person who should know. 

6. You stopped taking a medication. 

People feel guilty about stopping medications without telling their doctor, so they keep it secret. This can be very dangerous, says Dr. Colella, especially when drug is a blood pressure med, blood thinner, or antidepressants. 

7. You're not interested in sex lately.

It's important to come clean about your sex life because lack of interest can signal a more serious problem such as vascular disease, an imbalance in blood chemistry, and even anxiety or depression. 

For the original article, visit

]]> (Lynn Allison/Newsmax Health) Featured Health Life Mon, 22 Jun 2015 15:00:00 -0400
To Hear God, Get Near God

"For the Lord gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:6).     

You say, "I want to trust God, but I don't hear Him."

You don't hear God when your mind is filled with a thousand other distractions. To hear God, you've got to get near God. You've got to get alone with God and be quiet.

The Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). That means sit down and shut up. That's how you hear God and get near to God. You have to sit alone and just be quiet with your Bible and say, "God, is there anything you want to say to me?" You read God's Word, and you talk to Him about what's on your heart.

And, God says He will give you the wisdom you need to recognize His voice and follow through on what He says: "For the Lord gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:6).

Pray this today: "God, I want to listen to You, not the voices of doubt. I want to get close to You and get to know You better. I want to hear You, and I promise to then obey You. I want to be one of the people that You can use and bless in the next 10 years. I want those years to be a decade of destiny for me and my family."

Talk It Over

What do you need to change about the way you meet with the Lord so that you can be quiet and draw near to him?

Do you regularly hear from God? How do you normally react to His voice and what he tells you to do?

How can you show God that you are ready to obey what He tells you to do?

Click here for the audio teaching.

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 bestseller 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 Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Connect Your Children to Jesus

As a young girl I would always dream about getting married and having a family one day! Every young girl dreams and hopes for her fairy-tale life! There was a time when I was a young girl that being a stay at home mom was the norm. I remember my mom was at home and I remember she seemed to always have it together. ... She would wake up early, make my dad breakfast and pack him a lunch. Our home was always spotless and our home was so peaceful. Women then seemed to have more of a balance with life, at least it seemed a little more relaxed and slow-paced.

However, today I talk to many moms (old & young) and I've listed below the main things they share:

1. I'm just so tired, I don't have the strength or energy for my children, for my husband, my job etc. 

2. I feel there is more to my life, I just haven't honed into my purpose.

3. I am constantly dealing with my kids every day, I don't feel like I have any help.

4. I just don't have anymore in me to fulfill my husband's needs. ... By the time I put the kids to bed, I don't have the energy to be intimate with my husband.

Sound familiar?  I could definitely add more, however I think you get the gist of it.

How do you find the balance and enjoy being a mother?

1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself—this is self-pity and it doesn't help. Most mothers feel this way so you are not alone. ...

2. Embrace your calling as a mother and celebrate your children. They grow up fast, make the most of every moment with them.

3. "Mother" is one of the greatest callings in life! You have the influence over the next generation of men and women of God. Pour into your children!

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, family, friends or your church. Don't go at this alone, we all need that support and encouragement.


Here are some great scriptures and confessions to memorize so you can stay encouraged:

"Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands" (Prov. 14:1).

"Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8).

"A gracious woman retains honor ..." (Prov. 11:16).

"I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).

"Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, sons of God, without fault, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:14-15).

"For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Do not fear, I will help yo.'" (Is. 41:13).

"And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up" (Gal. 6:9).

But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint" (Is. 40:31).


  • I thank you Father God for my child/children, they are gifts from you.
  • I celebrate my children today and I am honored to be their mother.
  • Thank for giving me the strength, wisdom, anointing and patience to raise them in the nurture and admonition of you Lord.
  • Thank you for the support you've put around me to encourage me and help me.
  • I am truly grateful for this high calling as a mother, I will commit my life to be the best example I can be to my children.
  • I thank you that my children reverence you and love you with all their heart, soul mind, and strength.
  • I thank you that my children will serve you all the days of their life.
  • Today I put my trust in you even when I don't know what to do or if I don't understand, you are in control.

Whether you are a new mother, mother of several children or your children are grown, it's never too late to make a difference in the life of your children. You cannot allow Satan to lie to you and make you think you cannot be a good mother or make you feel guilt for what you did or didn't do for your children. We all make mistakes and there are no perfect parents, we all need God to help us. Start today, learn from the Word of God how to raise your children or if they are grown begin today building a better relationship with them and praying for them.

Tricia Reyes and her husband Luis founded and pastor The New Church Of Joy in Waukegan, Illinois. They have great vision for the younger generation and building strong families. Tricia is a blogger and has two amazing children, Matthew and Madison.

]]> (Tricia Reyes) Featured Women Life Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:00:00 -0400