Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:29:00 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb When You Take Care of Your Body, You Also Do This http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28571-when-you-take-care-of-your-body-you-also-do-this http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28571-when-you-take-care-of-your-body-you-also-do-this

For change to happen in any area of your life, whether it's financial, vocational, educational, mental or relational, you have to begin with the physical.

Why? Because your body affects your behavior. Your muscles affect your moods and your motivation. Your physiology can actually affect your psychology.

Romans 12:1 says, "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."

The problem with a living sacrifice is that it can choose to crawl off the altar. We do this all the time. We offer ourselves to God, and then we take ourselves back. This is not a once-for-all offer. You've got to do it four, five, or maybe 10 times a day.

So what is "your true and proper worship"? There are three things you can do with your body that the Bible says are acts of worship:

1. Cleanse your body. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 7:1, "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." You cleanse your body by controlling what you allow in your mind through what you watch and listen to, and in your body by what you eat and drink.

2. Care for your body. Ephesians 5:29 says, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord cares for the church." Keeping your body in shape is an act of worship to God.

3. Control your body. "... that each one of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thess. 4:4). Control your body so it doesn't control you. There is no reason to say, "I couldn't help myself!"

No matter what kind of change you want to make in your life, it will require energy. To have the energy to meet your goals, change has to start with your body.

Talk It Over

  • What are practical ways you can honor God through your body today?
  • What are the small ways you need to work on controlling your body? What are the big ways?
  • How does Christ "feed and care for the church"? Why do you think God wants you to do the same with your body? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastorrick.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Health Life Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:00:00 -0500
4 Keys for Resisting Sexual Sin http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28567-4-keys-for-resisting-sexual-sin http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28567-4-keys-for-resisting-sexual-sin

There are many accounts of sexual sin in the Bible, and we can learn much from both the stories of success and those of failure. In my eyes, Joseph has one of the most inspiring victories over sexual temptation.

By the time the 17-year-old was sold to Potiphar in Genesis 39, he was likely dealing with intense trauma, rejection, anger, bitterness and despair over what his own brothers had done to him. Being a Hebrew slave in a foreign land with no discernable way of returning home must have been incredibly lonely and relationally isolating. When looking at the long list of challenges he was faced with, it would be easy to understand if Joseph had given in to Potiphar's wife's daily sexual advances.

I know every man is wired differently, but unless Potiphar's wife was the ugliest and most unpleasant woman on earth, this would have been an enormous temptation for any man. So what were the keys that kept Joseph from giving in to sexual temptation?

1. Know God is with you (Gen. 39:2-3). Joseph was aware that God was with him and was the one behind his supernatural success. For us as new covenant believers in Jesus, God is not only with us, but He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. Being aware and connected to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is crucial for victory. We have access to unlimited power and courage for resisting and overcoming sin when we know God is always with us and for us.

2. Know what has been entrusted to you (Gen. 39:8-9). When tempted by sexual sin, Joseph responded by reviewing the responsibility that had been entrusted into his hands. Nothing in Potiphar's house had been kept back from him except for Potiphar's wife. Through his healthy fear of the Lord, Joseph was aware that choosing a momentary sensual experience would dismantle his increasing success and trustworthiness.

As citizens in the kingdom of God, we are ambassadors of King Jesus and are given the massive responsibility to represent Him and His will in the earth. Adultery, pornography and all forms of secret sexual sin will lead to destruction in our lives, harm the lives of those closest to us and impact our ability to steward well all that is entrusted to us.

3. Simply refuse (Gen. 39:8,10). Joseph outright refused to give in to Potiphar's wife. He would not heed her daily requests or even spend time around her. He determined to take the narrow and difficult path and was unmovable in his decision. What if we were the same? What if from now on, we refused to entertain adulterous thoughts, refused to give time to lust-filled fantasy, refused urges to look at pornography and refused to engage in any form of sexual gratification outside of marriage?

4. Flee (Gen. 39:11-12). At just the right time, when no one was home, Potiphar's wife turned up the heat with physical touch. But again, as with every other time, Joseph was ready with his predetermined response—"No, no and no!" His Nike running shoes were tied tightly, and he bolted as soon as she reached for him. Too often, we wrongly conclude that when no one is around, we can fight off sexual temptation on our own. Fleeing can look like physically leaving a location, turning off your computer, making a phone call to ask for prayer ... I call this pro-active purity. If you don't enjoy confessing your sin to others, train yourself to flee before the sin happens.

God spoke through a prophet years ago, saying, "To a people without mixture, I will give My Spirit without measure!" I believe Joseph's pursuit of purity is a prophetic example calling our generation to remove sexual compromise at all cost and become the pure, spotless bride that Jesus will come for. {eoa}

Cody Archer, along with his wife, Liat, help lead the youth group at Ahavat Yeshua and work together in Revive Israel's international department.

For the original article, visit reviveisrael.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Cody Archer/Revive Israel ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:00:00 -0500
The Missing Ingredient to Lasting Weight Loss That Secular Programs Just Don't Get http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28588-the-missing-ingredient-to-lasting-weight-loss-that-secular-programs-just-don-t-get http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28588-the-missing-ingredient-to-lasting-weight-loss-that-secular-programs-just-don-t-get

Body image and weight issues are two of the most overwhelming personal topics in our world today. Information abounds in the world about the danger of being overweight. Every day we see another "magic cure" for the problem. So what is the problem? We are intelligent, educated people, so why does this problem seem to grow every day and spread throughout the world?

Information shows us the need to change, but the power to change comes from the One who created us. I talk with people every day who tell me they just have no control when it comes to food. They have been on diets and are always looking for help in this area. They realize the serious threat to their health, but just can't seem to overcome the food issue in their life and control their weight.

I fought this battle for years until one day I saw five words that changed my life: "The devil wants you fat." These words pierced my heart! I hate the devil and did not want to give him control of my life in any area. When I read these words I was instantly convicted by the Holy Spirit and was aware that I was responsible and accountable for the care of my body. The Scriptures are very clear that we are to glorify God in our body (1 Cor. 6:19-20), and that we are to present our bodies to God (Rom. 12:1). How can you present your body to God if you have no control over it?

The day I saw those five words, I repented. I confessed my sin of neglect of my body that was created in His image, and I confessed my rebellious attitude toward this problem. Repentance is defined as "the action of repenting, sincere regret or remorse." When there is sincere regret, your behavior is going to change. Repentance is from the heart and affects your behavior.

Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, you are just "trying" something new. I am amazed at how easily we fall into the world's trap of believing they have the answer. When I see the commercials by some of these weight-loss programs for their new and improved diet plan, I think, Why do they keep changing? I thought the last program was the best. They are all in competition with one another, and most of the programs are based on making money.

The missing link in lasting weight loss is repentance. I was always "sorry" my new magic plan had not worked out, but I had never repented and asked God for His help in this situation. I am sure I had said a few prayers along the way; evidently, I had not been serious enough to repent!

Once I saw the truth and repented, the Lord gave me a battle plan that took 88 pounds from my body. It was not overnight, but as I continued asking the Holy Spirit to lead me in this battle, He continued to give me revelation that brought light to me. The Lord's program never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

We are placed in this earth for a purpose, and we cannot accomplish our purpose without His help. It is not about size; it is about stewardship. The devil has always used food against mankind, so why should we be surprised he is still doing it today? When Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, it exposed what was in her heart. She believed a lie and empowered the liar.

We have been trained to focus on food as the problem, rather than our mindset about eating and making wise choices.

We must unzip the truth, accept the truth and walk in the truth. In my book, Why Diets Don't Work—Food Is Not the Problem, I share my walk and words of wisdom that the Lord put in my heart to win the battle. This month we published a workbook designed for personal or group study to help you win the battle of the bulge! You are not alone, my friend. We are all fighting the same devil and serving a God who has already won the battle.

You cannot fix a spiritual problem by natural means. Stop and think about your situation. Why do you want to lose weight? Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit leading us to repentance, we will not have the power to resist when it gets tough, and it will. The unconvicted will be in constant battles in their minds with food as the ultimate prize. "I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). The flesh is ruled by passion and desire, but our spirits are led by wisdom and truth. Join the walk today to honor God in your body! {eoa}

Joyce Tilney is the Founder of Women of God Ministries. She is a Bible teacher and author. You can find more information on her websites: wogministries.com. After submitting her food addiction to the Lord, she lost 90 pounds. There testimony is written in her book, Why Diets Don't Work. Visit her website at: whydiets.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Joyce Tilney) Featured Women Life Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Watch for This Spiritual Pitfall of Shortcuts to Obeying God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28582-watch-for-this-spiritual-pitfall-of-shortcuts-to-obeying-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28582-watch-for-this-spiritual-pitfall-of-shortcuts-to-obeying-god

The other day, I said to Timmy, "I want you to get all your Play-Doh off the table." He reluctantly but obediently walked toward the mess, so I left the room. I came back later to find his Play-Doh off the table, all right. It lay scattered on the floor next to where he had been sitting.

Not too long before that, I set out to deep clean my sons' room. In the process, I discovered many things that didn't belong to my older son, Kenny, stuffed into Kenny's shelves, drawers and bins. It turned out that, when told to clean his room, Kenny had taken the things his sisters had left there and, instead of returning them to his sisters, simply shoved them out of sight.

Did my sons obey me? No. Sure, they complied with the letter of the law, but they completely disregarded its spirit. They chose obedience in name only over true obedience.

Good thing we moms never do that, right?

Okay, so we do. All the doggone time.

We fix lunch for our children, but then we slap it down in front of them, fed up with doing menial jobs. We get up in the middle of the night to tend a sick child and resent him or her for interrupting our sleep. We agree to take our kids to the library, grumbling inwardly that nobody seems to care how we wanted to spend the afternoon.

In any of these three cases, did we do what God wanted us to? No. At least, not fully. Because God doesn't just ask us to drive the car, fix the meals or tend the sick. He asks us to do it with a willing, grateful spirit.

Ouch.

There have been several times this past week where I indeed served my children and did the things God wanted me to do, yet still failed to fully obey, because I didn't have the attitude He wanted me to have.

"But that's normal," you might protest. "After all, we moms are human beings, too. Surely, we can't be expected to have a good attitude all the time."

Actually, that's exactly what God expects. Because while we may not be able to control how tired our body or emotions are, or even whether our body is physically healthy or able, we can always control how we choose to respond and the kind of thoughts we choose to dwell on.

Always? Yes, always. Because Scripture plainly states that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Which means if we have a bad attitude, we can't blame it on the circumstances God is permitting in our lives. We can't blame it on others or on how they treat us.

We have only ourselves to blame.

But it's so hard!

Yes, my friend, indeed, it is. It's very hard sometimes. But let's get back to 2 Peter 1:3, where Peter writes that God has given us everything we need for godliness—in other words, for having the right attitude despite our circumstances. Everything we need, not just some things.

True, there may be times when we try to have the right attitude, but we come dangerously close to failing. What then? Then, we cry out to God and ask Him to change our attitude. He can do anything, you know, and if we truly need help, He's always there to give it. Every thing. Every time.

So the next time you're tempted to roll your eyes in disgust, or to let out one of those "I can't believe I have to deal with this" sighs, stop. Just stop. And remember, in that moment, just one word.

Everything.

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence (2 Pet. 1:3). {eoa}

By Megan Breedlove – www.MannaForMoms.com

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Megan Breedlove) Featured Women Life Wed, 18 Jan 2017 11:00:00 -0500
Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/28584-why-you-must-pray-for-donald-trump http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/28584-why-you-must-pray-for-donald-trump

When President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in this Friday as our nation's 45th president, he will stand in front of the U.S. Capitol and place his hand on two Bibles: One that was used for Abraham Lincoln's inauguration in 1861, the other a gift from Trump's mother when he graduated at age 9 from Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, New York.

Trump won't be hiding his affiliations with evangelical Christians at the ceremony. He will be surrounded by religious leaders, some who supported his campaign and others who criticized his rhetoric. They include Paula White, a Pentecostal pastor from Florida who is sometimes credited with bringing Trump to faith; evangelist Franklin Graham; Hispanic minister Sammy Rodriguez (who denounced Trump's anti-immigrant comments) and African-American preacher Wayne T. Jackson of Detroit. A rabbi and a Catholic cardinal will also join Trump on the stage.

Yet in spite of the two Bibles and the six ministers on the platform, many Christians aren't fully supportive of our next president. Most African-American and Hispanic Christians did not vote for Trump, younger Christian voters were skeptical of his campaign, and other believers opposed him because his views on women and immigrants seemed incompatible with Christianity.

So when Trump lays his hand on those Bibles and pledges to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," he will lead a divided nation. But if you are a Christian, you have an obligation to pray for your president no matter how you voted in November. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 commands us to pray "for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty."

Praying for our leaders is not optional. It does not depend on your mood or your opinions. Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly:

1. Pray for his protection. There will be more than 28,000 security officials at the inauguration on Friday, and Trump's decision to spend some of his time at his home in New York City will increase the security threat during his time in office. Pray that he and his family will be protected from assassins' bullets and terror attacks. May civility triumph over violence.

2. Pray that Trump will govern with God's wisdom. God rewarded Solomon because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth, long life or vengeance on his enemies (see 1 Kings 3:11-12). Pray that Trump will order his priorities like that. Despite Solomon's tragic character flaws, his legacy was wisdom. We can ask God to give our president the same grace.

3. Pray that God will set a guard over Trump's mouth. It is no secret that Trump often speaks (or tweets) before he thinks. He can be impulsive and short-tempered. Yet a man in his position must use discretion, or else his impetuous words can close doors and ruin diplomacy. The psalmist prayed: "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips" (Ps. 141:3). Pray this on behalf of our president.

4. Pray for wise and righteous advisers to surround him. Godly leaders cannot do their jobs alone. Even the best leaders have failed because they trusted the wrong people. Pray that Trump will not select his counselors based on party, race, pedigree or political cronyism but on godly character and proven wisdom. Pray especially that Vice President Mike Pence, who is an evangelical Christian, will rely on the Holy Spirit to advise the president.

5. Ask for the spirit of reconciliation. Some segments of our divided society want nothing to do with Trump now that he has won the presidency. Some media outlets have become downright hostile, breaking all rules of journalistic objectivity. Even some Christians will be tempted to harbor resentment and nurse political grudges throughout his term in office. Pray that God will grant forgiveness and healing so that leaders on all political levels can have constructive dialogue. And pray that Trump will reach out with kindness to Democrats, the media, minorities, immigrants, foreign leaders and Republicans who opposed him.

6. Bind all evil forces assigned to manipulate our president. The specter of Islamic terrorism looms over the United States, and dark forces have already infiltrated. On the other side, it is obvious that Russia desires to manipulate our nation. Our only hope lies in prayer to the God who is able to expose and outwit the schemes of the wicked. This is truly a time for spiritual warfare, and intercessors must not come off the wall in this hour. Pray that no foreign government, terrorist organization, multinational corporation or demonic principality will use Trump as a tool. We must stand strong against the spirit of anti-Christ that promotes dictatorship, persecution of Christians and hostility toward Israel.

7. Pray that Trump's door will always be open to the church. The loudest voices of secular culture—from Bill Maher in Hollywood to atheists in academia—would be happy if religion were removed from public life. Pray that Trump, who claims to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, will unapologetically welcome Christian leaders into his company and seek their counsel.

8. Pray that our nation will enjoy God's peace and blessing during the Trump administration. God's will is for America to experience peace and prosperity so we can continue to export the gospel to the nations. This must happen whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House. As we cry out for God's mercy on our nation, pray that He will allow us to be a light to the world as we finance global missions, feed and heal the world's poor and share Christ's love at home and abroad. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:00:00 -0500
Prophecy: Know You Not That You Have Served My Angels? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28585-prophecy-know-you-not-that-you-have-served-my-angels http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28585-prophecy-know-you-not-that-you-have-served-my-angels

As I was preparing a business training program this morning, the Lord told me to begin to write as I was led by the Holy Spirit:

The Lord says to those who serve customers today to serve others as you would serve Me. Serve with humility and not only out of duty. You seem to be going through motions that repeat with a daily boredom.

Know you not that you have served My angels? Unaware of My presence?

Give love unto the people I send you this day as you would give to Me if I asked for your help.

You have been gifted with a ministry of helps. You are called to serve the one who stands near you seeking help.

You are called to change the outcome of someone's day today. Serve the unlovely with your full capacity and with your full heart.

This is the day I have made for you to serve My people and My angels I will send your way. {eoa}

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president–Media Group, Charisma Media. Sign up here for Dr. Greene's leadership e-newsletter.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dr. Steve Greene ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:15:00 -0500
Jennifer LeClaire Declares Angels of Transition Over America at US Supreme Court http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28574-jennifer-leclaire-declares-angels-of-transition-over-america-at-us-supreme-court http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28574-jennifer-leclaire-declares-angels-of-transition-over-america-at-us-supreme-court
I was in Washington, D.C., last week for a new prophetic prayer initiative called POTUS Shield, which includes Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engle, Rick Joyner and others. I made some strong declarations in front of the Supreme Court. Watch the interview or read the story by Paul Strand on CBN News below. The Lord has released the angels of abundant harvest as well. Visit angelsprophecy.com to learn more.

POTUS is short for President of the United States, and a new group of prophets, pastors, and other Christians has created what they're calling POTUS Shield—to surround the new president and the government with prayer. 
 
They started in Washington to discern, declare and decree the strategies of God for America. First, they met at the National Press Club and then in discreet small groups outside places like the Supreme Court.
 
Charisma Senior Editor Jennifer LeClaire prayed with one such group.
 
"The morning of the election, the Holy Spirit told me 'today—on Election Day—a kingdom will be toppled.' And we saw that happen, I saw it with my own eyes," she explained. "When I looked at the map when I woke up the next morning, the map was almost all red. And I'm thinking 'this is parabolic of the blood of Jesus.'

"People want to say 'Oh, America's going to be judged and America's going to hell in a hand-basket.' Well, the blood of Jesus is sufficient for the sins of America," she added. 
 
POTUS Shield participants aren't gathering just to gather. They mean to create a serious prophetic and prayer shield over parts of the government like the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court. They intend to be serious spiritual partners to this secular government.
 
Mark Gonzales with the Hispanic Action Network believes this could bring about a great awakening and even reformation.
 
"The future of America is literally in the hands of the church in this hour," he said. "God has given us an opportunity, a reprieve so to speak, to really engage like we've never engaged and allow us to shift this country through the power of prayer, fasting and seeking God."
 
"And at the same time, engaging like we've never engaged with our civic responsibilities," Gonzales added. 
 
"The Lord told me He's releasing the angels of transition, and they're going to help transition the government into what we've all been praying for," LeClaire told CBN News. "So our prayers are so important right now. Right now is not the time to stop praying. It's time to pull our boots up, roll our sleeves up and work harder than ever before."
 
"No matter how small you are, you're important," expressed intercessor Denise Emerine. "And I felt like God was saying 'I'm going to call my people who are marked by My name to come and repent for the sins of this nation, but more importantly, I'm going to turn that and I'm going to heal your land.'"
 
LeClaire sees Trump as a major change agent.
 
"He's going to turn the tables on the economy—we're already seeing strong reports," she said. He's going to turn the tables with Israel—we're already seeing he's standing staunchly with Israel. And so many other areas: trade, foreign trade, immigration—there are so many things he has an opportunity to do if the church will stand with him, support him and pray for him."
 
These Christians say if you feel like you've been on the back burner, it's time to let God use you again.
 
"He is there with the brokenhearted, with the humble. He's there with those who said 'Look, I messed up, I didn't do, I didn't fulfill, I didn't whatever.' But this is the time He's needing us," Candace Long of Jasper, Georgia said. "We've not lost our assignment. The assignment is still there. He who has called—the calling is without reproach."
 
One reason LeClaire is trusting Trump is because of the counsel he's getting.
 
"If you look at his Cabinet, if you look at his advisers—so many Christians, LeClaire said. "He has surrounded himself with godly counsel, and the Bible says 'blessed are those who do not stand in the counsel of the ungodly.'"
 
Over and over again, the prophetic voices in POTUS Shield mentioned that God has given the country a time of reprieve, that Christians in this time must realize how important they are and that their words and deeds can affect the destiny of a nation.

{eoa}

Reprinted with permission from CBN.com. Copyright The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., All rights reserved.

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured Prophecy Spirit Wed, 18 Jan 2017 08:00:00 -0500
5 Ways to Win Your Unbelieving Spouse to Christ http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28579-5-ways-to-win-your-unbelieving-spouse-to-christ http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28579-5-ways-to-win-your-unbelieving-spouse-to-christ

You cry. You pray. You wonder how long you can hold on. You wrestle with guilt and loneliness. You look at other Christian couples with envy. If you're a believer, daily life has special challenges when your spouse is not a Christian.

And whatever your spouse's spiritual status, you also still have all the other "stuff" of married life to contend with: communication, intimacy, money, in-laws, children and more. You may struggle with the same false beliefs about marriage and need to be reminded of what is true about marriage.

You may be tempted to believe that other couples where both partners are Christians have it much easier, or that if only your spouse would "become a Christian," everything would be OK. That's not necessarily so. Some of the most heartbreaking stories I hear are from those whose Christian husband or wife abuses, betrays or otherwise causes them extreme pain.

That said, some of your challenges may be unique. How do you deal with your spouse when they don't share your faith? How do you balance what may feel like competing loyalties? Is it worth it to keep on praying?

Paul encouraged anyone whose husband or wife was not a believer to remain married if their spouse was willing (1 Cor. 7:12-14). God may use you to draw your spouse to Himself (1 Cor. 7:16).

But what practically can you do to both survive and "help" God bring your spouse into His kingdom? Here are five keys:

1. Don't play junior Holy Spirit. God has not given you the job of "fixing" or "saving" your spouse. That's His job. No human being has a right to play Holy Spirit in anyone else's life—not even your spouse's. (You do have a job, though. More on that in the coming steps.) God honors your spouse's free will, and you need to do the same.

This means no nagging, no flaunting your spirituality, no belittling, no arrogance, no using Scripture as a weapon. Put yourself in your spouse's shoes. If some behavior would push you away or make it less likely you would want to join your believing spouse as a Christian, be extremely cautious and prayerful before acting in that way. Using truth as a weapon or acting arrogantly righteous will not win your spouse's heart to Jesus.

2. Be a walking advertisement for God's Kingdom. If you were looking at or living with you, would you want what you had? If you were an unbeliever, would you want to join yourself in being a Christian? All of us are broken and in need of Jesus' transforming grace. But to the degree you demonstrate that transformation in your daily words, actions and the way you love, you are either an appealing incentive or a stinking obstacle in your spouse's journey to God's Kingdom (2 Cor. 2:16).

You will not be perfect. When you mess up, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Let God continue to grow you. Keep investing deeply in your relationship with your spouse. Let God's love keep teaching you how to love better. That may be the factor God uses to save your spouse.

3. Keep feeding yourself. Any marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. This is never truer than when your spouse is not a Christian. And to make it, you must be very intentional about keeping your soul and spirit filled with nourishing food. It may be easier than ever to neglect this when your spouse does not share your faith.

Jesus regularly needed time alone with His Father while He was here on Earth, and you need the same. Find ways to stay connected to other believers even if you can't attend church weekly. Spend time reading or listening to inspirational media. Invest time in God's Word and in prayer. You're responsible for keeping your own soul filled up, regardless of what your spouse does or doesn't do.

4. Watch for God's work in your spouse's life. God loves your husband or wife more than you do. He is working to draw them to Himself. He knows better than you do what their brokenness is, where they are vulnerable, what barriers they would have to overcome and what it would take to win their heart.

You may, as a believer, get an inside view of how God deals with someone who is "hard to get." Or you may not see any evidence that God is doing anything; don't let that fool you. Sometimes God allows life to break a person in order to give His Holy Spirit an open door; your interference could possibly prolong that process. And He may use your love as a demonstration of His own love to them.

If your spouse shows an interest or asks questions, be yourself. Don't pounce. Freely share your own journey, struggles, victories, fears, hopes and faith. And if God uses someone else to speak into your spouse's life, don't be jealous; be grateful.

5. Continue praying. Prayer works. How long does it take? Only God knows. And only He knows the specifics of the outcome. Don't believe the lie that prayer doesn't work just because you don't see your spouse coming to Christ. The stories are too numerous to believe otherwise, and God's Word affirms it.

So keep on praying—whether it's 7 days or 70 years. Pray for yourself—for your own character growth, wisdom, courage and perseverance. Pray for God to continually show you how to love well. Pray for your marriage—for the connection between you. Pray for your spouse—that the Holy Spirit never stop doing His work in their heart, regardless of what it takes.

Will your spouse become a Christian? I don't know. But I do know that God can use you as one of His best tools to minister His love to your spouse and draw them to Himself.

Question: If your spouse is not a believer, what special challenges are you facing? What has given you courage or helped you in this journey? {eoa}

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

For the original article, visit drcarolministries.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Carol Peters-Tanskley) Featured Women Life Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:00:53 -0500
The Key to Unlock Holy Spirit's Power in Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28562-the-key-to-unlock-holy-spirit-s-power-in-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28562-the-key-to-unlock-holy-spirit-s-power-in-your-life

"... and be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph. 4:23).

Throughout the Bible, we see an important truth illustrated over and over: The Holy Spirit releases his power the moment you take a step of faith.

When Joshua was faced with an impassible barrier, the floodwaters of the Jordan River receded only after the leaders stepped into the rushing current in obedience and faith. Obedience unlocks God's power.

God waits for you to act first. Don't wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is how your character develops.

The Bible compares spiritual growth to a seed, a building and a child growing up. Each metaphor requires active participation: Seeds must be planted and cultivated, buildings must be built—they don't just appear—and children must eat and exercise to grow.

Although effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has much to do with your spiritual growth. At least seven times in the New Testament, we are told to "make every effort" in our growth toward becoming like Jesus (Luke 13:24; Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:15, Heb. 4:11, 12:14; 2 Pet. 3:14).

You don't just sit around and wait for it to happen.

Paul explains in Ephesians 4:22-24 our three responsibilities in becoming like Christ.

First, we must choose to let go of old ways of acting. "... that you put off the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts" (Eph. 4:22).

Second, we must change the way we think. "...and be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2b).

The Greek word for "transformed" is metamorphosis (used in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18), and it's used today to describe the amazing change a caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. It's also a beautiful picture of what happens to us spiritually when we allow God to direct our thoughts: We are changed from the inside out, we become more beautiful and we are set free to soar to new heights.

Third, we must put on the character of Christ by developing new, godly habits. Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it is how you habitually act. The Bible says, "... and that you put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24).

Don't just sit around and wait for spiritual growth to happen. Be obedient in this so that you can unlock God's power in your life. 

Talk It Over

  • How do you think God responds when you move forward in faith despite feeling weak?
  • What habits do you need to develop so that you can grow spiritually?
  • In what ways can you renew your mind? {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastorrick.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Tue, 17 Jan 2017 17:00:00 -0500
Why the Church Needs to Discard the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28560-why-the-church-needs-to-discard-the-don-t-ask-don-t-tell-policy http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28560-why-the-church-needs-to-discard-the-don-t-ask-don-t-tell-policy

Pornography is one of the fastest-growing problems in the church. As I have traveled the world speaking at different conferences about sexual integrity, I have found that more than 50 percent of the men attending will admit to being addicted to pornography.

These men don't admit to struggling—they admit to being completely addicted to pornography.

What about the church staff?  Many church staff members were also raised sexually by Playboy, the internet and our sexually infused culture. The church needs to accept that being involved in ministry doesn't make anyone immune to the porn problem.

This problem is largely a male issue, but there is more research supporting the fact that there are Christian women who are also engaging in pornography and inappropriate relationships on social networks.

Rarely does a month go by that a pastor or Christian leader isn't sitting in my office with a porn or other moral failure that could have been helped by having some of these strategies in place. I still remember the day a young woman came up to me and said she didn't feel as if she could trust church leadership anymore because of her pastor's sexual transgressions. She said, "How can I know that no other church leaders are struggling with this same exact issue?"

She was right. The church needs to make a plan to maintain sexual integrity in the church. There are several proactive methods the church can commit to or request from its team to minimize the threat of porn or other sexual issues that can ultimately damage the ministry. One of the biggest ways to do so is by eliminating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the church.

We hear so much in the media about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Unfortunately, many churches also adhere to the same policy. Oftentimes churches even refuse to ask the important questions. We don't ask our singles, married men or women and especially our staff questions about their sexual integrity, purity or pornography standpoints or problems.  The church needs to take a stand against this issue together. Ministries should feel obligated to ask staff if they are viewing porn. When you ask, you are giving the opportunity for honesty. When you don't ask, this secret can grow into an affair or lawsuit for the church. So don't be afraid to ask.

I have had men and women in my office whose small pornography habit turned into an addiction, which turned into an affair. If this pornography habit had been nipped in the bud with an accountability partner and a support group in the church, these people would not have ended up in my office on the brink of divorce.

If the church just took the initiative to have an "ask and tell" policy, who knows? Maybe we would start seeing the church's divorce rate go down. Infidelity might start to decrease. Marriage satisfaction would go up, and pornography would be extinguished from the church. {eoa}

Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, Clean: A Proven Plan for Men Committed to Sexual Integrity, Lust Free Living, Sex, Men and God, Intimacy; and his latest, Worthy: Exercise and Step Book. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719.278.3708 or through email at heart2heart@xc.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Doug Weiss ) Featured Men Life Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:00:00 -0500
A Prayer for Body Restoration http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28563-a-prayer-for-body-restoration http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28563-a-prayer-for-body-restoration

The word of the Lord in my heart now is "restoration." The body of Christ has lost so much because of deception. We have listened to the wrong voices for far too long.

Listening to wrong voices lead to wrong choices. Wrong choices lead to sorrow, pain, and regret.

However, God wants to restore His people. Restoration starts with one truth: The body of Christ does not work without the head (see Eph. 5:23).

Disconnection happens if we stop living according to the truth in God's Word. Remember, Jesus Himself is the living word. So you can't say you belong to Jesus and reject His Word:

"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" (Prov. 3:5-6).

Please go to a quiet place and pray the following prayer from your heart. Let's all join our faith together in believing that it will come to pass, according to the word of the Lord.

Father, I enter Your gates with thanksgiving and Your courts with praise. I am thankful for the life You have given to me. I am thankful You've given me food for my hunger and water for my thirst.

I am thankful for all of your provision, Lord. You supply all my need according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Every spiritual, mental and physical need I have is covered in the promises in Your word. I have received everything I need pertaining to life and godliness.

I am thankful for salvation. You have given me the true bread from heaven in your Son, Jesus Christ. O, how I love Jesus! I love Him because He first loved me. I am thankful He gave His life for me. In Him, I walk in newness of life. I am thankful that He lives in me. I am thankful for the hope of glory!

Through Him, I have the received the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Out of my belly flow rivers of living water. Revive me according to Your word, Lord. Through the fountain of living waters, I have a continuous source of strength, power, refreshment, renewal and restoration. Let me never forget that.

I renounce any hunger or thirst after worthless things. I am no longer a broken cistern. Broken cisterns can hold no water, and I don't want to spill a drop of all that you have for me. I no longer seek comfort apart from You, Lord. By Jesus' stripes, I am healed. Jesus has healed my broken heart. He has bound up my wounds.

I am released from every weight that so easily besets me. I lay it aside, offering it as a sacrifice to you, Lord. In exchange, I shall receive Your peace.

If I have forsaken Your counsel in any area in my life Lord, I repent. I return back to You. I am thankful You never leave me nor forsake me. I am thankful You are ready to forgive. I am thankful You are gracious and merciful. I am thankful You are abundant in kindness.

You promised in Your Word, "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" (2 Chron. 7:14).

I am called by Your name, Lord. I humble myself under Your mighty hand. I am praying and seeking Your face right now, Lord. I turn from any wicked way in my life. Hallelujah! I know You have heard this prayer according to Your Word. I praise You that I am forgiven and healed.

Restore to me the years that my poor choices have eaten up. I was both deceived by outside influences and deceived myself through my own flesh.

I repent of any pride that tells me I can live this life for Your glory without hearing Your voice every day and don't need to read or apply your Word. Create in me a clean heart and renew your steadfast Spirit within me. Help me to reject any voice that does not agree with Yours. It was for liberty Christ came to set me free, and I will not be entangled again in a yoke of bondage.

I am thankful You have given me Your good Spirit to instruct and lead me. I trust You, and I no longer lean unto my own understanding. In all my ways, I acknowledge You, and You shall direct my path. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. From this day forward, Lord, I set my heart to walk according to the light of Your Word.

Fix my heart, Oh Lord. Help me to remember every day to take my delight in You. As I delight in You, You will conform my desires to Your desires. And I will be able to walk worthy of my high calling in You. I will walk as a wise and understanding person from now on in every area of my life.

Give me ears to hear your word and a heart to obey. Use my life, Lord, so others will see my good works and glorify You. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation this day, and I will sing Your praise. In Jesus' name, Amen." {eoa}

Once 240 pounds and a size 22, Kimberly Taylor can testify of God's healing power to end binge eating. She is an author and the creator of the Christian weight-loss website takebackyourtemple.com. Visit today for inspirational health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Tue, 17 Jan 2017 15:00:00 -0500
How to Receive Clarity When Torn Between Choices http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28569-how-to-receive-clarity-when-torn-between-choices http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28569-how-to-receive-clarity-when-torn-between-choices

When high levels of uncertainty are present in a decision matrix, the risk of making wrong choices will increase.

Leaders crave facts like I crave pizza at the end of a fast.

More is better. While we must be aware of the need for speed to decide, we must also receive input to aid the decision-making process.

In my season of working with McDonalds' franchise owners, I remember a couple of years in which the cry for facts never seemed to end. Some franchisees had grown weary of "group think." The loudest and most demonstrative leaders influenced key decisions through behavior, rather than facts.

The process evolved with a willingness to accept facts to catalyze decisions. Data were applied to past marketing campaigns to help in the assessment of new proposals. The "numbers" enjoyed a time of counsel. There was a seat at the board table for hard thinking. Promotions were ended and started fresh because "key performance indicators" (KPI's) pointed the way.

I love a good fact. But, I've also learned that not everyone wants to be confused by fact-based decision making. Sometimes leaders just want what they want. "My gut tells me," this or that and "I've learned to trust my gut, even in the face of contradictory facts."

In one of my stops along the way in my career, I sat at board tables with high-powered ministers. Some of the men I remember had achieved a measure of success (large ministries.)

I observed that as the church grew, the leaders became somehow, smarter and "righter." A willingness to receive input seemed to decline as attendance increased.

I remember one meeting in particular in which people at the table were speaking about a future program and debate was healthy. Then the leader said, "God has already shown me what He wants to do with this project."

End of debate. End of discussion. God said.

I've also wondered why meetings are ever necessary if God said. I wonder in greater depth when I hear "God said," something different about the project a few weeks later.

Leaders who claim "God said," need good memories. The Lord is an author AND a finisher. Alpha projects are plentiful. Omega projects seem few.

When we gather at a decision-making table, I count on the Lord to speak to everyone at the table through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I also want to pray specific prayers for guidance. And facts will always be welcomed.

Leaders who are led by the Lord have predictable and consistent decision-making paths. 

 


 

Today's Scripture

"Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21, MEV). 

 


 

Platform Tip No. 149

Work hard to keep your quantity of input equal to your quantity of output.

Read as much or more as you speak.

This is a ratio worthy of frequent review. 

 


{eoa} 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dr. Steve Greene) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:00:00 -0500
The Secret Sorrow Women Carry http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28576-the-secret-sorrow-women-carry http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28576-the-secret-sorrow-women-carry

"We can't find a heartbeat."

"The fetus did not implant in the uterus."

"The fetus isn't developing properly."

You may have heard these words from an ultrasound technician or from your physician during a routine prenatal exam. I am certain you cried plenty of tears, because I surely did. Day after day, I ran into my husband's arms and just cried. We had suffered so great a loss, but not many could understand the depth of our heartbreak. After hearing those words, how did you truly feel and who did you tell? If you are like most women, you probably only exposed your miscarried bundle of joy with a chosen few.

Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

Pregnancy loss is a very common yet unspoken event that many women experience. Maurice and I chose not to share it with many people, but it definitely became a major focus of our conversation and prayers with God. It is a loss that touches more women around us than we often realize. After our first pregnancy loss, I did extensive research on the causes to see if there was anything I could have done to prevent it. I questioned if it was my fault. Did I exercise too much, not get enough rest, eat or drink the wrong things? I placed the blame on me and for a moment, also on God. I began to search the Scriptures to learn about what God said about miscarriage. Here is what I found in the Word of God:

 "You shall serve the Lord your God, and He shall bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from your midst. No one shall be miscarrying or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days" (Ex. 23:25-26).

"So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Matt. 18:14). God is concerned about every human being that He has created.

 "And all these blessings will come on you and overtake you if you listen to the voice of the Lord your God. You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the field. Your offspring will be blessed, and the produce of your ground, and the offspring of your livestock, the increase of your herd and the flocks of your sheep. Your basket and your kneading bowl will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out" (Deut. 28:2-6).

How could something so common in the world be the opposite of what God has promised to His children? If God promised His children that there would be no miscarriages or barrenness in the land, then why has it happened to so many women that serve Him? Is this a contradiction of His Word? How could a God that is so loving take away our heart's greatest joy? Isn't He the God who is faithful to fulfill what He promised? Isn't He the God who will fully equip our bodies to function according to His design?

 It is a great disappointment to desire to have a child and feel there is a possibility that you will be unable to be fruitful and multiply. It can be one of the deepest levels of pain for women. It affects our confidence, potentially shatters our dreams and makes some regret that we haven't yet been able to give our husbands the sons or daughters they desire. 

 It is a wound that is opened over and over again every time someone asks that dreaded question, "When are you going to have a baby?" I don't know about you, but whenever someone mentions "baby" in regards to me having one, the pain of my losses returns and I mentally—and sometimes emotionally—relive the moments of losing our angel babies. I celebrate those around me birthing their bundles of joy while still dealing with the current reality that having the children we desperately desire has proved to be one of the greatest mountains that we've ever had to climb. "Lord, when are you going to do this for me?" is a question many childless women bring to the feet of Jesus in their private prayer time.


Why is it that so many struggle with repeated miscarriage and infertility, but it's such a taboo topic to discuss? We don't talk about it with most of our family, our close circle of friends, our pastors, or mentors, and it's certainly not a social media announcement. Instead, behind closed doors, we remember. We remember the cold ultrasound room, the tears that left our eyes as the news was delivered, the outline of a baby on the screen with no heartbeat, the missing fetus who never developed or the repeated pregnancy tests that were all negative. The growing belly, gender reveal and baby shower would not be occurring within the next nine months. We know all too well what it's like to go from cloud nine excitement to the deepest depth of discouragement. The shoulders of our husbands, and maybe our pillows, are the only ones that really know the suffering we are encountering. We wake up in the morning, get dressed, go to work, run businesses, smile and celebrate others while silently, we are suffering. We are crying on the inside while glowing on the outside. We are dealing with death without being able to openly mourn.

Miscarriage is a silent suffering. It's a private matter that we dare not discuss publicly. I am choosing to break the silence in hopes that my story will transform the faith of so many women who are still waiting for their children to manifest on this side of heaven. Maybe one day, you will do the same. You are not alone, and you should not have to suffer and heal alone. {eoa}

Excerpt adapted from Miscarried Joy by Tanika Fitzgerald © 2016 Nyree Press. Tanika Fitzgerald is a daughter of Christ, a wife to her husband, Maurice, a loving daughter, sister and friend. She is passionate about equipping women to grow spiritually, live balanced lives and helping them to become armed for victory in every area of their lives. Tanika is the visionary behind ARMED—a publication created to "Spiritually Equip YOU for Victory in Battle." She enjoys spending time at Lake Michigan, creating memories with her loved ones, reading a variety of books, writing and traveling the world with her husband.

Connect with Tanika Fitzgerald at www.tanikafitzgerald.com, on Facebook (tanikafitzgerald) and on Twitter (TR_Fitzgerald).

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tanika Fitzgerald) Featured Women Life Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Take This Simple Step to Tackle the Impossible Task http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28573-take-this-simple-step-to-tackle-the-impossible-task http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28573-take-this-simple-step-to-tackle-the-impossible-task

I just spent four delightful days with my mother in Wyoming—eating a flaky quiche at Lander Bakery, ordering a new skirt from QVC and wandering unhurried through Hello the House, which is one of those surprisingly amazing stores tucked into the quiet main street of a town of 7,000.

But the sweet time ended, and Matt and I arrived back to Real Life after a 12-hour drive.

There was a moment in the kitchen when I contemplated hyperventilating over the week to come. Not only was I heading back to school, but it was also my week to teach the large group times in Awana, and the next night, I was hosting a ladies' get-together.

And then there was the fact that we had binge-watched HGTV at my mom's, so I also felt like I should redecorate my entire house.

But maybe that could wait.

Back to the idea of hyperventilating. I looked at the mountainous week to come and thought, No way. Not even possible. So there was the option of full-blown panic, total hopelessness and shoulder-scrunching anxiety—you know, the usual.

Or.

I could look to God as "Magnificent Sherpa," and I say that with reverence.

When I think of the Sherpa, I picture people who are acclimated to the extreme climate, altitude and rigorous climbs of some of the highest mountains in the world—people who know the way and can get you to the summit, while helping you carry your load.

So hey, I chose option B. Choosing one of my larger Post-it notes, I wrote down the impossible to-do list. Sticking it to my calendar, I confessed to the Lord my feelings of weakness and inability to pull off all of those activities. Then I told God I was completely trusting Him to help me conquer the impossible.

A miracle happened after that: I went to bed and slept like a baby for eight hours.

When I woke up the next morning at 5:15, I rolled up my sleeves and started plugging away at all that needed to be done. No anxiety. No hyperventilating. For sure, I dropped into bed exhausted at the end of the day, but it's not so bad to take on a steep climb if you have hope of planting your flag at the summit.

King David sings these words to the Lord: "With your help I can advance against a troop, with my God I can scale a wall" (Ps. 18:29, NIV).

Don't you think, more often than not, the coming week feels nearly impossible? But soak in the repeated phrase in David's psalm:

With you I can.

With you I can.

So I pray for you today that you will die to your own self-sufficiency and turn your to-do list over to the strong shoulders of the Lord. May you be filled with hope that, with God's help, you can scale whatever wall stands in front of you. {eoa} 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Christy Fitzwater) Featured Women Life Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:00:00 -0500
Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28565-prophecy-the-lord-is-raising-up-daniels-in-dc http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28565-prophecy-the-lord-is-raising-up-daniels-in-dc

When I step into cities or nations, the Lord often almost immediately speaks to my heart about what He thinks and feels. Last week, I traveled to our nation's capital to speak at the convocation for POTUS Shield, a council of prophets and other spiritual leaders—including Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner, Lou Engle and Lance Wallnau—assembling to raise up a spiritual shield in Washington, D.C.

As I sat in the cab passing by the Washington Monument, the Lord began speaking to my heart about this epic city:

Washington, oh Washington, I am doing a work in you. I am working to restore the foundations and return you to your former glory. I am rooting out corruption, and I am calling you back to the integrity that once marked you. I am calling for truth and righteousness. I am calling you back to your roots by rooting out that which has defiled you. I am doing this little by little, but I am doing it. I am raising up Nehemiahs who will repair the breaches and I am raising up Daniels who will interpret the signs. I am raising up those who know My heart and My will for the nation to speak into the heart of America. I am raising them up to expose, to root out, to rebuild and to restore. I am raising them up.

 This is encouraging. The corruption in our government goes back decades. Many still ponder a conspiracy behind the murders of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert. Watergate is yet a distant memory. More recently, Hillary Clinton's Benghazi issues and email scandal have made headlines.

What we need to keep in mind is it's no one man or woman can correct the issues in Washington or the nation. But God does set in place authorities and can work through anyone. POTUS Shield is a strategic movement in this time and season because I believe the Lord has summoned us to intercession, prayers, declarations and decrees of the word of the Lord over our nation and our government.

I believe we can see, as Cindy prophesied, the tables turn in America if the prophetic voice is allowed to permeate the White House and the saints press into intercession to see God's will be done and His Kingdom come in America. I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in April 2007.

I believe this because I believe in God's mercy and I believe 2 Chronicles 7:14 is true: "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."

The four living creatures holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people (Rev. 5:8) will eventually tip over. And I am determined to keep praying until they overflow. Will you join me? {eoa}

The Lord has released the angels of abundant harvest. Visit angelsprophecy.com to learn more.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, co-founder of awakeningtv.com, on the leadership team of the New Breed Revival Network 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's Periscope handle is @propheticbooks.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 17 Jan 2017 10:00:00 -0500
Spiritual Warfare: Outsmart the Crafty One http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/28559-spiritual-warfare-outsmart-the-crafty-one http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/28559-spiritual-warfare-outsmart-the-crafty-one

"Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).

Satan is quite crafty. He takes advantage of every opening you give him to enter your life. I am familiar with his schemes.

In my 50 years, I have given the enemy footholds in my life—footholds that, unfortunately, became strongholds. And those strongholds have brought chaos and heartache. I blame no one but myself for opening the door to the devil's wiles.

The devil has already lost the war. But we have to be intentional about the battle and take advantage of every weapon of spiritual warfare God has supplied us with to beat him down.

My friend and editor of Charisma magazine, Jennifer LeClaire, once wrote, "The Holy Spirit also showed me that we already possess every weapon we need for battle, but we sometimes don't know we have them. He showed me that the fruit of the Spirit manifested can be a weapon against the enemy: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. It drives the devil crazy when you walk in love or remain at peace. It's one way we submit ourselves to God; resist the devil and watch him flee (James 4:7).

In other words, it's up to you to take the battle to him and refuse to allow him to get his foot in the door of your life. "Do not give place to the devil" (Eph. 4:27). He can't work in your life if you don't allow it. 

The lion can roar but not devour. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers ) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Remember This When You Feel Rejected for Being Different http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28552-remember-this-when-you-feel-rejected-for-being-different http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28552-remember-this-when-you-feel-rejected-for-being-different

For 30-some years, I tried to be "normal." But it never really worked out for me.

Way back in my school days, it seemed I was always at least somewhat different from my peers. I was never as interested in PE and parties; I'd rather talk politics and religion. And more often than not, I'd rather do it with people much older than me.

Ridiculed for My Faith

After I became a Christian, the trend continued. I was one of only a few in youth group who preferred theologizing with youth leaders instead of vegging out with video games in the rec room after service. In college, a couple of friends and I could talk for hours—almost every day—about the things of God and all the supernatural stuff—deliverance, miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As a result, we even had some people boycott one of our Bible studies.

Yes, shortly into my born-again life, I discovered that what I thought was normal interest and passion for a Christian to have, others thought was weird or radical. Of course, I expected this from those outside the faith. But it was the comments made from other Christians that upset me the most. I couldn't understand why fellow believers would ridicule someone's passion for God or criticize their zeal.

Peculiar for a Purpose

This all bothered me enough that I finally sought the Lord over it. And He showed me He often creates peculiar people to achieve particular purposes. Follow me with these three examples.

The Prophet Jeremiah

Remember the prophet Jeremiah? God handpicked him for a last attempt to bring Israel to repentance. But Jeremiah's life was anything but normal. Because of his calling, he didn't marry or have children, and he had little to no friends.

John the Baptist

Consider John the Baptist. Called by God to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, he too was very different. Certainly, unshaven and outfitted in clothing made of camel's hair, he appeared odd. He kept a strange diet: only locusts and wild honey and no alcohol. And to top it all off, he went on and on with a bold message that many found offensive.

The Apostle Paul

And then there's the apostle Paul. Chosen to evangelize the Gentiles, Paul lived unlike most others. He remained a single, itinerant evangelist with an over-the-top zeal that even some of the other apostles resented.

My point here is that each of these people were different because they were designed to be.

Remember This

Have you experienced some sort of rejection because of your passion? Do you feel you don't fit some mold people want to stuff you into? Has the Lord showed you something that nobody understands? Or asked you to fulfill a task that people can't believe? Welcome to the life of those who are called by God!

Today, instead of getting upset when people misunderstand or misinterpret me, I've learned to celebrate my weirdness and wear it with confidence. And you should too. After all, there's a reason why you're chosen by God for such a time as this—and it's definitely not because you're like everybody else. {eoa}

Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the #1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent book, Silence Satan, has helped thousands shut down the enemy's attacks, threats, lies and accusations. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:00:00 -0500
Trusting God While Waiting When Everyone Says, 'Do Something' http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28566-trusting-god-while-waiting-when-everyone-says-do-something http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28566-trusting-god-while-waiting-when-everyone-says-do-something

Waiting. I've never been a fan. But it seems I have a Ph.D. in the art. Waiting for the results of infertility treatments, waiting for an offer for a job, waiting for a change in a relationship, waiting for a change in life.

And recently, waiting for test results that could mean cancer or mean nothing. Once again, I was in the waiting place, and while there, I wrote this:
 
I find myself here again, in this waiting place. The place where I know God is sovereign. I know He holds my life in His hands. I know He is there. I know He cares. I know the very hairs on my head are numbered ... as are my days. 
 
And yet there is a knot in my stomach, and my eyes flicker to the phone. Again. And again. It does not ring. Not yet. Of course, not yet.
 
But I watch anyway. I swallow. And remind myself of all the things I already know. 
 
- "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" (Matt. 6:27/Luke 12:25, NLT).
- "Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself"(Matt. 6:34, NIV). 
 
And my glance skitters to the phone again.
 
Today I had my yearly mammogram and screening. Today they found something on my right side. Today could be the first day of a very painful journey.
 
But I don't know yet. I am stuck here, in between. 
 
It's the not knowing that twists through my soul. It's the not being able to move forward. Not being able to move back. Trust is harder in the waiting place.
 
So I watch the phone, even though I know the radiologist probably hasn't even looked at the scans. Even though I know it is too soon. Even though, if she calls, it will only be to bring me in for more tests.
 
I hate waiting.
 
But it's not a choice.
 
It's something that's thrust upon you.
 
And still I wait. ... I drown in the waiting.
 
God, you were with me in the past. You will be with me no matter the future.
 
Are you here, too, in the waiting place?
 
The test results came back as benign. But even if they had not, I've found that waiting is often the hardest part of a journey because we feel a unique kind of fear, of dread, in the waiting place. We sense that nothing is in our control. We cannot just "do something." We can't fix it. There is no plan to foster hope, no to-do list to get us out. We don't know when change will come, and deep inside we carry the fear that we may be stuck forever in the awkward, painful in-between.
 
I have a friend who is getting divorced. For two years she's been in proceedings, and nothing is yet settled. "Divorce is awful," she says. "But the waiting to get divorced is even worse. I can't make plans. I can't move on. I can't even start to heal." 
 
That is the struggle of the waiting place. It is the fight against fear, against despair. It is the fight to remember the promises of God when they aren't getting any nearer. 
 
Who's in Charge
 
When we're feeling stuck in the waiting place, our culture says, "Get out of that rut! Life's too short. Stop the excuses. Do something." In the Huffington Post, you can find 13 inspirational quotes for when you're stuck in a rut. You'll be told to smile more, care less, be happy, and think good thoughts.1 Elsewhere, you might find thirty quotes that will "most certainly get you out of any rut," where you can read that you need to rise up and attack your day, and never give up.2
 
Good advice, but sometimes change is outside our control. Sometimes we're not in charge. Sometimes we're stuck, just like Abram and Sarai were in Haran. On their way to the promised land, Genesis 11:31 tells us, " Terah took his son Abram .. and his daughter-in-law, Sarai ... and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Harran, they settled there." Haran wasn't the promised land. But because of Terah, they got stuck there anyway, and Sarai didn't have the power to choose to continue the journey. God had to remove a barrier before she could move forward. In their case, Terah himself had to die.
 
 
Excerpted from Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timetable by Marlo Schalesky© 2016, Abingdon Press. Marlo is an award-winning author of both fiction and non-fiction whose articles have been published in many Christian magazines. Her latest release is Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timetable (Abingdon Press). She is the founder and president of Wonder Wood Ranch, a California charitable organization bringing hope to a hurting community through horses. Schalesky lives with her husband, six children and a crazy number of animals at her log-home ranch on California's central coast.
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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Marlo Schalesky) Featured Women Life Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:00:00 -0500
Things You Need for Your Spiritual Transformation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28549-things-you-need-for-your-spiritual-transformation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28549-things-you-need-for-your-spiritual-transformation

In these days where change is needed, we have to understand God's blueprint for becoming conquerors and overcomers. Although every story has unique bends and turns, there is an overall narration from God's Word that we can rely on for our journey of transformation.

Isaiah 61 gives us a foundational tapestry every overcomer needs. Whether it's physical healing, emotional healing or simply overall change, the journey of transformation is so much more effective if we can understand the following precepts:

1. You need a revelation of Father God's love. Isaiah says, "the Lord has anointed me" (Is. 61:1). This word "Lord" is not Jehovah, but in this case, Adonai. It speaks of the anointing Jesus carried of the Father's heart, a downpour of Father God's love and acceptance for you. The majority of our generation, including Christians, has no clue about the depth of the Father's love, especially because our relationship with our earthly fathers has been so tainted and skewed. Relating to our heavenly Father is challenging because we were not given a template to relate to Abba or Daddy in a way that is healthy and without fear.

The vast majority of people never remember hearing their earthly father say, "I love you. I am proud of you. You are a good son. You are my precious daughter." No wonder we lack a healthy radar for hearing that from God. Without this revelation, the rest of the journey—and let's be honest—the rest of our Christian walk, is pointless. Until the church experiences the vast love of God in our hearts, we will live our lives trying to earn approval or searching everywhere to substitute our void with counterfeits.

2. You need to know God is good. One of the greatest wars facing the world today is the battle over the goodness of God. People have the question revolving in their hearts, "Is God really good?" The answer to that question depends on your spiritual lens of life. Do you understand the enemy's involvement in this world? Do you see the access Satan's army has been given in the hearts of mankind? Do you realize you have a decision in this matter: to choose life or choose death?

When you have a healthy spiritual war lens, you can understand that God is good and the devil is bad. All good things come from the Father, and all evil has its source in sin, which is Satan's ways. He is the father of lusts and the father of lies. He is a wicked, counterfeit father, but one to whom people every day. When his thoughts find agreement in the hearts of people, his mission to steal, kill and destroy manifests on the planet.

Those who receive the work of Christ in their lives have a mandate and responsibility: to manifest the goodness and glory of God on this planet. We are the ones called to demonstrate the heart of Father God and represent the good heart of the Father to the world. When we don't, it is not God who allows evil to manifest but people who allow evil to manifest on the planet. Are we taking our responsibility seriously?

Without a spiritual war lens, people are left to become angry with two people: God or themselves. But neither target is a good place to send your anger. First of all, you are never called to be your own enemy. You don't wrestle against any human being, including yourself. Your enemy is invisible, seeking to find agreement in your thoughts.

Second, God is never your enemy. He is for you, but the enemy would love to wreak havoc on your life and then blame God for the calamity. Restoring transformation involves restoring the grid of goodness in your life. If God is good and always good throughout His nature, what does it look like to talk to a good Father?

3. You need to admit you need help. Only those who are hungry, humble and teachable will enter into their full potential. When I minister on the power of the Father's love to break our bondage and hang-ups, I am still shocked to see a look on people's faces that says, "Yeah, I got that. I'm past that." Since when did experiencing the love of God become a place of arrival? There is no end and limit to His power and love.

The moment we feel as though we've arrived somewhere is the moment our growth is stifled. Only those who continue to remain as a child will inherit the full potential of what God has for us. A child remains teachable to the point that he or she approaches every subject as a novice so the greatest amount of revelation can be received. The moment we think we have arrived, we limit our ability to absorb new insights.

4. You need heart-healing. Every person is born with a love bucket that can only be filled with Father God's love. Those love buckets are our hearts. Wherever love has been missing or compromised, brokenness resides. Jesus had a challenge getting the Old Testament people to understand their hearts were broken. The same is true today: The church wants freedom and power without addressing her brokenness. We trudge forward with deep battle wounds so instead of marching, we are limping ahead, wondering why we are struggling to make progress.

Many say, "The past is the past." Yet this is not true if the past is still affecting your present. Unresolved brokenness will infect many areas of our present. This is why we must continually bring our hurts and pains before our Father, so He can heal and empower us to move forward with a pure vision for our future.

5. You need to hear the message of transformation first, so you can then be equipped to walk it out. There are things you need to be equipped with that you are not aware of right now, so you will need to press in to understand the tools at your disposal.

The message of Isaiah at this stage is to proclaim freedom to the captives. We need to actually hear the Word of freedom and then respond to it by walking into that freedom.

Many people want God to rescue them out of their prison when, in reality, God often gives us a picture of freedom first so we can learn what living in freedom is like. We can then step out of prison and into that freedom.

God wants us to hear that message of freedom first, so by faith, we step into that freedom. When we hear the message of freedom, God teaches us what freedom looks like, so when we step into it, we are equipped to remain in that way of life.

Many people are asking God to rescue them from something, when in reality, He is asking them to step into the freedom that has already been made available. As a believer, the Kingdom of God is within you. Instead of waiting for something to land on you somewhere over the rainbow, take hold of the freedom available to you in God and step into it today.

6. You need to leave prison. Getting out of your chains is up to you. Yes, you need to be taught, healed of brokenness. You need God's power to do this. But what are you waiting for? At some point, we need to make a firm decision to walk into the land of promise–the place of freedom and healing Christ paid for. God first teaches us how to live in the land of freedom so we can shake off the chains that hinder us and walk it out.

What are you waiting on God to do when, in fact, God is waiting for you to step out of your prison and into the place of freedom? Like the lepers in the Gospels, sometimes you need to leave where you are to go into the place of healing.

To do this, we have to confront our patterns of victim thinking, self-pity and self-loathing that keep us in places of hopelessness and feeling stuck. At some point, we have to say "Enough is enough. I want freedom, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to step into it today."

The message of the gospel is empowering, showing you there is hope to step into your freedom today. But each of these steps is critical to receive the maximum manifestation of God's work in your life.

Your freedom begins today. Listen to it and respond by leaving your prison! 

Question: Which step do you need to enter into today to deepen your spiritual transformation? {eoa}

Mark DeJesus has served as an experienced communicator since the 1990s. As a teacher, author, coach and radio host, Mark is deeply passionate about awakening hearts and equipping people towards transformational living. His message involves getting to the core hindrances that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day-to-day peace. He is well versed on struggles that originate within our thoughts. Through his own personal transformation, Mark is experienced in helping people overcome and live fruitful lives. He is the author of five books and hundreds of teachings. He hosts a weekly radio podcast show called Transformed You and blogs at markdejesus.com. His writings have been featured on sites like CharismaMag.com.

For the original article, visit markdejesus.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark DeJesus ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:00:00 -0500
Reasons Your Teen May Be Rebelling http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28548-reasons-your-teen-may-be-rebelling http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28548-reasons-your-teen-may-be-rebelling

Teenage rebellion is nothing new. Rebellious children have been around since the first children inhabited the earth. Remember Cain and Abel?

So, what should you do about it? Run from the battle? Raise the white surrender flag in defeat? Go to war with guns blazing? None of those things will accomplish very much and may end up killing your relationship with your child.

Instead, it's important to first get a handle on why your teen may be rebelling. Understanding why your teen is rebelling is essential to understanding what we should do about it.

Here are five reasons why your teen may be rebelling:

1. Struggle for identity. Your teen is trying to answer the question, "Who am I?" During the teen years, our children struggle to figure out who they really are and why they are here. It's important during this time for parents to help children understand their immeasurable value because of who they are, not for what they do. Moms and dads should help their kids understand the difference between identity and image.

2. Struggle for acceptance. Remember trying to be cool in order to fit in? It's the same today. Teens still want to be part of the crowd, they want a sense of belonging, and they still feel the pressure to do what everyone else is doing. In the movie What a Girl Wants, teenage Daphne is trying to be someone she's not and is really struggling with it. At one point, her boyfriend asks, "Why are you trying so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out?" While understanding our children's need for acceptance, let's help them understand that it's good to be different. Encourage them to be different, to have the courage to do what's right and the conviction to stand out in the crowd.

3. Struggle for attention. Teens often want others to notice them. They're silently saying, "Hey, look at me!" And sometimes they'll do almost anything for attention. As parents, we need to do everything we can to give our kids attention by being available when they need us. A father or mother who is always working and not paying attention to their child will find a child who seeks attention in many wrong places and many wrong ways. Fathers, especially, need to let their daughters know they are beautiful inside and out. And they need to let their sons know they've got what it takes.

4. Struggle for control. When our children are younger, we are in complete control of just about everything they do—what they eat, what they wear, where they go and who they are with. As they get older, our children want to make more and more decisions for themselves and don't want Mom or Dad always telling them what to do. We need to show our children they will have more control over their decision-making to the extent that we can trust them to make wise decisions. Trust is earned over time.

5. Struggle for freedom. If you have teens, you've probably heard something like, "I just want some freedom." Although teens say they want total freedom and independence, they still want to and need to rely on us for certain things. As parents, we need to allow them to experience more freedom as they get older, but only as they learn a very important point: Freedom comes with responsibility. {eoa}

Mark Merrill is the president of All Pro Dad and Family First , a national non-profit organization. He is also the voice of a daily radio program called The Family Minute.

For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Merrill/For AllProDad.com) Featured Men Life Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:00:00 -0500
9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28546-9-characteristics-of-a-healthy-sexual-relationship-for-a-believer http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28546-9-characteristics-of-a-healthy-sexual-relationship-for-a-believer

The husband wants sex, but the wife resists. The wife can't understand why husband hasn't asked for sex in some time.

The wife feel pressured to give husband sex any time he asks. Both husband and wife wonder if some activity they want to try would be dishonoring to God. Either husband or wife or both struggle to put their sexual past behind them. Husband and/or wife use the Bible to bolster their hardened position or wrestle with a great disconnect between their sexual passions and their faith.

Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage? What is a healthy sexual relationship for a Christian, anyway?

If the gospel doesn't have an answer for sex, then how can it be good for much else? Sex and sexuality are a huge part of our human experience. God created sex—male and female (See Gen. 1:27). Misused, distorted or ungodly sexuality has destroyed countless lives, broken many hearts and ended many promising ministries.

Research by the Barna group indicates that Americans—and American Christians—vary greatly in what they believe about sex, what they view as the purpose of sex and what sexual behaviors they consider permissible and healthy. The "just say no" message most Christians have heard about sex outside of marriage contrasts sharply with the 21st-century sexualized culture most of us get bombarded with every day. Throw in hormones (for men and women), and it's no wonder Christians often struggle in this area.

I'm going to begin with the premise that God created sex to be enjoyed between one man and one woman in a committed marriage. The debate behind that premise is for another day. But understanding what that relationship is designed to be can help answer many questions. So here are some thoughts on what it looks like.

A Healthy Sexual Relationship is:

Unselfish. Healthy sexuality is more about giving than it is about getting. Husband and wife focus most on satisfying each other's needs rather than on fulfilling their own desires. If both partners are focused on each other, most challenges can be overcome. How, when, where, how often, what to do—most of those questions are answered by moving in the direction of what your spouse wants.

Honest. Husband and wife may see the "how, when, where, how often" types of questions differently, but they both honestly yet kindly express their desires, fears, frustrations and more. Although both generally move toward meeting each other's needs, neither feels forced to engage in sex that would make them feel resentful toward the other.

Seasonal. Not in the sense of sometimes on/sometimes off, but in the sense of different seasons of life and of marriage carry different implications for intimacy. Not every sexual encounter will lead to the same level of excitement or satisfaction. The most important aspects of sex will vary during different seasons of marriage.

A big deal. Instead of being "just sex," that kind of intimacy between husband and wife really is a big deal. It's treated as a valuable and precious gift worth guarding, worth working on, worth improving, worth making a priority, worth investing in, worth praying about. It's not neglected as an afterthought.

Regularly irregular. Sex may vary from often to occasional, from exciting to comfortable, from satisfying to frustrating, based on physical health, life stresses or other factors. In a healthy relationship, husband and wife are committed to coming together physically and reconnect in this way frequently and freely but not legalistically.

Exclusive. Husband and wife look only to each other for the fulfillment of their sexual desires and needs. Sexual intimacy with any other person is of course outside the bounds of healthy sexuality, but so is pornography, emotional intimacy and the like.

Safe and Healing. Not in the sense of boring, but in the sense of being vulnerable without being hurt. Sex or withholding of sex is not used to punish, control or wound. To be completely seen and known and still be loved and accepted is a wonderfully healing experience—from specific wounds in the past and from our common human weaknesses.

Imperfectly perfect. Every marriage is the union of two imperfect people, and so is their sexual relationship. As with every other aspect of marriage, you will almost certainly hurt your spouse and be hurt by them. A healthy sexual relationship provides for honest forgiveness and continual improvement.

More than physical. The act of intercourse is simply the physical aspect of what is a well-rounded intimacy. In a sense, it's never "just sex." That complete intimacy includes friendship, forgiveness, emotional bonding, mutual understanding and spiritual connection. Complete marital sexuality, at its best, includes all the above.

There are plenty of Christian marriages where sex does not meet those ideals, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

If you're experiencing a great sexual relationship with your spouse, celebrate! God is pleased.

If you're married and not experiencing a great sexual relationship, don't give up. Sometimes working on the sex is the most important; at other times, working on other aspects of your marriage will result in improvements with intimacy.

If you're not married right now, don't give up, either. Fear, guilt, desperation or other negative messages may make you want to settle for something less. I encourage you to hold out for the best.

There are no "10 steps to a guaranteed awesome sexual relationship." A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple is a matter of growth, commitment and God's grace. It takes effort, and it's worth working for.

Question: What do you think are the characteristics of a healthy sexual relationship for a Christian marriage? Are there any I haven't listed? Please leave a comment below. {eoa}

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

For the original article, visit drcarolministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Carol Peters-Tanksley ) Featured Health Life Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:00:00 -0500
The One-Word Reason You Should Never Live in Fear http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28541-the-one-word-reason-you-should-never-live-in-fear http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28541-the-one-word-reason-you-should-never-live-in-fear

A program on a science channel dealt with "Venus: Earth's Evil Twin." The two planets are similar in size, and according to the experts, have the same origin. But Venus is hellish, with acidic atmosphere and temperatures in the monstrous range.

Early in the program, the scientists began telling how Earth's future is to become as Venus is now. Not next week, but in the distant future.

Personally, I have no trouble with anything that occurs on this planet a billion years down the road, which is the time period the experts dealt with. For one thing, I won't be here, and neither will you. For another, Scripture says, "the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will be consumed by intense heat" (2 Pet. 3:12).

Wonder why the scientists feel the need to say such things?

Watch enough such science shows, and you come away feeling that their purpose was to unnerve the viewer, to frighten the audience with the awful fate awaiting the planet and possibly to eradicate any primitive thoughts of a God who could be expected to rescue us from such a future.

I suspect their ploy works. If one watches enough of this stuff, it would.

But there is one thing—one word actually—that keeps people of faith grounded, one word that's our answer to those who would frighten us about the future of this universe.

Jesus.

Not religion, not faith, not hope, not perseverance or a thousand other important words. Just this one: Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the answer to our fears, the basis of our hope. He is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2).

"We have this hope as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (Heb. 6:19).

In the introduction to the Epistle to the Hebrews, the unknown author begins, "God, who at various times and in diverse ways spoke long ago to the fathers through the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the world" (Heb. 1:1-2). Jesus is the last word from heaven.

And if that's not enough, the passage continues ...

"He is the brightness of [God's] glory, the express image of Himself, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3). That's food for reflection for the next two years.

Throughout Scripture

Scripture strains at the seams with the various depictions of the uniqueness and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are a few:

"... and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He performed in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:19-21).

– "Therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Phil. 2:9-10).

– "He is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15). "... both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:2b-3).

What specifically was there about Jesus that causes us to say such a thing, to make such a claim? Answer: His uniqueness.

  • He was virgin-born. Only He did this.
  • He was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Only He was this.
  • He lived a sinless life. Only He accomplished this.
  • He died a vicarious death. Only He fulfilled this.
  • He rose from the dead the third day and later ascended into heaven, events witnessed by hundreds and attested by evidence which is convincing to impartial investigators even to this day.

Message to fearmongers: Believers in Jesus Christ are forbidden to partake of the stuff you are peddling ever again.

Nothing says that better than Hebrews 2:14-15: "So then, as the children share in flesh and blood, He likewise took part in these, so that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were throughout their lives subject to bondage."

Think of that.

Fear of death causes bondage. It keeps people from doing bold things they should be doing. And the devil had been holding the power of death and scaring people. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that power has been restored to its rightful owner. In Revelation 1, in John's vision of the ascended Jesus, Jesus has the keys of death, hell and the grave. (1:18).

And then we have this:

"God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control"(2 Tim. 1:7).

More than anything else, our hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. 

Do not take this lightly. Disprove His resurrection, and you have pulled the pin on Christianity.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, "For if we believe that Jesus died and arose again, so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."

"But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20).

Settle the resurrection of Jesus, and everything else falls into place. Disprove the resurrection, and it all goes away.

I suggest those wishing to pursue this read almost anything from Lee Strobel. Visit leestrobel.com and scroll down for a list of books he has authored. Or, visit an online bookseller and type in his name. His books on The Case For ... are as good as they come, and I recommend them highly. 

Whatever else you do as you investigate this subject, bear in mind that the reality above all else is the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep the focus on Him. {eoa}

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

For the original article, visit joemckeever.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe McKeever ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:00:00 -0500
5 Simple Ways to Start the Spiritual Discipline of Fasting http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28564-5-simple-ways-to-start-the-spiritual-discipline-of-fasting http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28564-5-simple-ways-to-start-the-spiritual-discipline-of-fasting

Fasting is scary for most of us—if we're honest—but it doesn't have to be.

Why would the Bible tell us to go without food for a time? What's the benefit? And is it optional for Christians, or should it be a normal part of our walk?

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, said, "When you fast," not "if," indicating this is to be a normal part of His followers' lives (Matt. 6:16).

It's a hard truth, but God is emphasizing fasting in His body today—and extending the grace to do it.

Fasting is more than changing your diet; it's giving up the legitimate pleasures of food to "feast" on the Lord and His delights. Doing so will change how we live and walk, which is what God wants (see Is. 58:3-12).

So how do we fast in our food-obsessed culture? Can we do it with a plate full of studies, work and duties at home? What if we play sports or have to eat to take medication? Is there an exemption from fasting?

It may surprise you to know that the Lord will help all who are willing to fast.

Just as God doesn't force us to pray but invites us into it, the same is true of fasting. Ask those who are experienced in fasting, and they'll tell you it's become an essential part of their spiritual walk and discipline.

"The fear of fasting is far worse than the fasting itself," says Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, and author of The Rewards of Fasting, an excellent resource (see the free ebook link below).

Those who try it with some persistence and regularity often end up loving it. It's getting started, and believing that it will work, that's usually the biggest hurdle.

With that in mind, here are some great ways you can begin—even if you are scared, weak or intimidated. This is probably true for most of us when we've not done something before or have tried and struggled. God grants grace, and He rewards everything we do for Him (Matt. 6:18).

On-Ramps to Fasting Food

  1. Eat one meal per day: If fasting for a whole day intimidates you, try eating just one meal. Many people fast during the day and break it at dinner. Others prefer to eat breakfast or lunch. Find what works for you and stick to it. This works well for people who have to eat to take medication or need energy for sports.
  2. Daniel Fast: Try eating a limited diet that avoids animal products (meat and dairy) as well as alcohol and sweets. You'll still have energy and strength, but you'll feel less full, though satisfied physically, which can help drive you to God. In the Bible, Daniel did at least two 21-day fasts like this and received significant revelations from God.
  3. Juice Fast: Fasting does not have to mean drinking only water. Fruit and vegetable juices—especially if they are raw and unpasteurized—can help you maintain energy while still allowing your body to cleanse. You can try a juice fast for a day, a week, a month or more and still be vibrant.
  4. Sweets Fast: Sugar is a huge dependency in our culture, and fasting is a great way to break an addiction, that is, anything of yourself you are withholding from God. Stopping sweets (and added sugar) will teach you to live dependent on God and help you to appreciate sweets as delicacies. And every time you get a craving, that's an opportunity to pray and seek God.
  5. Snack Fast: Snacking has become endemic in our culture. Food is everywhere, and we like to eat what we want, when we want it, anywhere we want it. A fast where you don't eat between meals will help curb this habit, reign in your appetite and allow you to give a new part of your day to the Lord. Fasting is about learning to say no to food so we can have more of God, and not snacking is a legitimate fast.

It's important to remember that the word fasting means to abstain from food. While doing a media fast, complaining fast or similar discipline is helpful—and can be combined with a food fast—food fasting is what the Bible calls us to.

The most important thing is to agree with God's heart for fasting and press into it.


These on-ramps are meant to help you start fasting in a way that's attainable for you. The Lord rewards all fasting, and it's not about judging whether your fast is as robust as someone else's. "For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7b).

Our advice is to pray, choose a method and get started. It can be hard at first, but breakthrough—and confidence—will come. Don't give in to the temptation to quit. Invite a friend to pray for you or even fast with you to give you strength in numbers.

Fasting is about gaining confidence that you can live without food and learning to turn your hunger toward God. Fill the time you would have spent eating with worship, prayer, Scripture study and God-oriented activities—otherwise, you might be doing little more than dieting.

Fasting is best done regularly. Try setting aside one day per week to start. If you become accustomed to that, pray about adding a second day. Keep an open heart if God calls you to a longer fast, or, on rare occasions, shortens your fast.

Using these tips, you can soon be on the way to saying, like Job, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12b).

Blessings as His joy begins to fill your heart!

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice; please check with your doctor first if you are pregnant or have any health issues or concerns. Minors are discouraged from fasting food and should always ask their parents before doing any fasting.
{eoa}

For additional resources: Read Mike Bickle's book The Rewards of Fasting (free ebook download) and IHOPKC's "Fasting Guidelines". Further teachings are available on Mike Bickle's website.

A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam Wittenberg worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. Adam is also active in evangelism and has a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Adam Wittenberg) Featured Women Life Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Break the Enemy's Grip on Your Life With These 2 Biblical Strategies http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28561-break-the-enemy-s-grip-on-your-life-with-these-2-biblical-strategies http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28561-break-the-enemy-s-grip-on-your-life-with-these-2-biblical-strategies

Scripture tells us we need to be transformed by renewing our mind (see Rom. 12:2). But how do we do this?

Renewing our mind doesn't happen by our determination to stop thinking the way we've always thought. It goes much deeper than that.

For many people, thought patterns are like deep ruts in the mud, and it takes a lot of work to catapult their mind out of those ruts—or defaults—and into new thought patterns.

Have you ever stepped into a room and then asked, "What did I come in here for?"

Of course you have. We've all experienced that.

Did you ever try going back where you came from in hopes you would remember what it was you were going after? "Am I losing my mind?" We all laugh because we've all been there. "Am I getting 'all-timers disease,' or just 'sometimers'?"

I am sure many of us, maybe most of us, grieve over the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease. We secretly fear the horror of living in that prison; a life with a mind that has wasted away. 

There is a spiritual form of that horrible disease being lived out way too often.

What do I mean?

It is a believer, one who claims the born-again experience through faith in Jesus Christ, yet lives life with the same strongholds that held them before they came to faith.

They have the same

  • fears
  • insecurities
  • anxieties
  • jealousy
  • addictions to prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol and porn
  • use of abusive anger or whining to control people
  • lustful imagination

Maybe they live with the more acceptable forms of the old life:

  • occasional cursing
  • social drinking
  • movies with nudity filled with "F" bombs and other inappropriate language
  • improper dress that attracts attention

They are living out of their old mind.

The mind is the ideology, philosophy, reasoning, thought patterns and world view by which one lives. It is the stuff that shapes behavior patterns; defense mechanisms; the systems by which adversity, trials and tragedy are handled.

These things are shaped in us by our family and friends from our earliest days.

They continue to be shaped in us through education, childhood experiences and dealing with the circumstances of life.

They are the "old man" or the "old woman" by which we lived before we came to Christ. The Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, 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, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is complete (2 Cor. 10:4-6).

Strongholds are attitudes and behaviors that continue in our life because we think, "That is just who I am." We live with things because we believe they are unchangeable.

A stronghold is deception (wrong philosophy, reasoning or thought pattern) filled with hopelessness. It determines or establishes a behavior pattern and keeps one tied to an addiction.

Living out of the old mind will cause us to deal with life the way they would have before we came to Christ. It makes a person a prisoner of war, held captive by the enemy even though they have been born again.

It is imperative to follow the instructions found in Scripture:

2 Steps to Renewing Your Mind

1. Cast down those empty imaginations, reasoning and philosophies.

2. Bring every thought pattern into obedience to Christ. That is, bring every thought pattern, reasoning, philosophy and ideology in conformity to the principles and precepts of God's Word.

When you do that, your behavior will follow.

That 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).

The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Renew your mind in the power of the Holy Spirit with the Living Word of God. Then you will live in the fullness of your new life in Christ. {eoa}

 

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (F. Dean Hackett) Featured Women Life Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:00:00 -0500
What a Revival Generation Should Look Like http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/28545-what-a-revival-generation-should-look-like http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/revival/28545-what-a-revival-generation-should-look-like

In every generation, God releases prophetic forerunners who define a new normal. These anointed vessels are often out of sync with the current generation.

They come with different values, different perceptions and different perspectives. These differences often set up a cycle of rejection:

  • The current generation feels rejected by the prophetic forerunner.
  • The prophetic forerunner is then rejected by the current generation.

Most of us have a tendency to think of the future activity of God on earth as an increase of that which we have known in the past or the present. But that limits God to our earthly perspective.

The activity of God is uniquely released from heaven for each generation. Every revival is unique. To embrace that which God is doing, we need to recognize His messengers even when they are different from our expectations. There are four hurdles we may need to overcome:

1. The Messenger

2. The Message

3. The Manifestation

4. The Method

The Messenger

God has many different messengers. Some are easy to embrace; some are difficult to embrace. We must be careful not to let our preferences influence us wrongly. The important question to ask is this: "Which messenger (or messengers) is God sending to me?"

John the Baptist and Jesus were messengers for their time, but they were totally different to each other. Jesus made the following insightful observation about His generation:

"But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the markets, calling to their friends, saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge to you, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a gluttonous man, a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is justified by her children" (Matt. 11:16-19).

John the Baptist and Jesus were rejected by many because they were perceived as excessive. The widespread influence of Greek and Roman culture had caused the ancient world to become far more global. John the Baptist couldn't have been more of a contradiction. He lived in the wilderness, wore camel skin garments and ate wild locusts and honey. In comparison, Jesus was up-to-date and cultured. In fact, Jesus was too free for the spiritual elite of the time.

The lifestyle and presentation of a messenger can be a rock of offense. Instead of rejecting a messenger ask the question, "What makes this messenger tick?" There is usually a connection between the motivation of a messenger and their lifestyle and presentation. When you understand what motivates a messenger, it is easier to accept them. Jesus' motivation was to seek and save the lost. That's why He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners. John the Baptist's motivation was to be "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." There are no distractions in the wilderness. John the Baptist and Jesus were motivated by the fear of God. They wanted what God wanted—nothing more, nothing less. They were not influenced or controlled by the fear of man.

Messengers are also rejected because of over-familiarity. The people from Jesus' hometown couldn't receive Him as a prophet because they knew him as the son of Joseph and Mary.

The Message

God's messengers have a message that challenges earthly perspectives. If you hear and respond to the message your life will be transformed.

  • John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the wilderness. His message was intense and penetrating—but the cry came from heaven. Not everyone liked the message. It required change.
  • Jesus' message went even further than John the Baptist's. Jesus preached a message of freedom from physical infirmity and demonic oppression. It almost seemed too good to be true.

The Manifestation

God's messengers release heavenly manifestations. Something happens. Because the manifestations are caused by God's Spirit, they are often dramatic. Manifestations are in your face. You can no longer go about business as usual. You have to make a choice.

  • John the Baptist's message profoundly moved people. The proud were brought low and the humble were raised up. There was great sorrow and there was great joy.
  • Jesus' message resulted in many dramatic healings and deliverances. The direct confrontation between light and darkness caused demons to scream with fear.
  • The manifestations on the day of Pentecost were dramatic: The sound of a violent wind, flames of fire, exuberant proclamation in tongues, spiritual intoxication.

Manifestations of the Spirit seem excessive to those who are earthly minded. Manifestations are clear evidences of the Spirit's work. When we reject the manifestations, we reject the Spirit.

The Method

Each messenger has a method.

  • King Saul and young David were both anointed by God, but they had different methods of warfare. Saul used armor and sword. David used a sling and a stone. David tried on Saul's armor but he took it off again because he knew it wasn't going to work for him. To Saul and his army, it was unthinkable to come against Goliath with only a sling and a stone. David did the unthinkable.
  • John the Baptist immersed people in water—an outward sign of inner surrender. That was inconvenient. It meant you got wet.
  • Jesus used radically different methods in His ministry. The Israelites had never witnessed anything like it before. One time He even spit on the ground, mixed His spit with the dirt and then put it on a blind man's eyes. After the man washed the mud off, he could see.

God's messengers often use methods that are unconventional, inconvenient and incompatible with the accepted norm.

The Face of Revival

John the Baptist and Jesus came on the scene suddenly. During their thirty years of preparation, they remained hidden. The fruit of their ministries was a radically new generation. Within a few short years, the whole city of Jerusalem was shaken (Acts 5:28, 6:7). The kingdom of God advances most powerfully when a generation recognizes and receives the messengers God sends them. Prophetic forerunners become models for new levels of anointing, new modes of operation and new ways of behavior. Every revival has a face—it looks like something. But here's what we need to know: Revival happens when we allow God's messengers to get in our faces.

We stand on the brink of a major spiritual advance. Prophetic forerunners will prepare the way. Let's make sure we don't become offended by the messenger, the message, the manifestation or the method. What will a revival generation look like? It will be different than you think—And much better. {eoa}

Nathan Shawsenior pastor at Fire and Destiny Centre, Dunedin and Celebration Church in Mosgiel, New Zealand, helps bring individuals and churches into dynamic encounters with God's indescribable love. His passion is to equip churches so that they can move in the Spirit, access heavenly realms, encounter God's heart and release His kingdom on the earth. Nathan is the author of two books: Passion and Fire, which tells the story of a powerful move of the Spirit in Vanuatu during which the face of Jesus appeared on a dormitory wall, and Unto the Least of These, which is about God's incredible love for widows and the fatherless and the significant part they play in His end-times plans. Both books are acclaimed by respected leaders across the body of Christ.

For the original article, visit heartofdavidministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Nathan Shaw ) Featured Revival Spirit Mon, 16 Jan 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Are You Truly Filled With the Holy Spirit? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28543-are-you-truly-filled-with-the-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28543-are-you-truly-filled-with-the-holy-spirit

When Jesus came out of the wilderness after 40 days, He was overflowing with the spirit of God. When the mighty power of the Holy Spirit came upon Peter and the apostle Paul, their lives were never the same.

In this video, Pastor Shane Idleman says he believes everyone has all of the spirit at conversion. But he asks the question, "Does the Spirit have all of you?"

"Only through the power of the Holy Spirit working through my heart and your heart can we accomplish what God wants us to accomplish," Pastor Idleman says.

Watch this video as Pastor Idleman implores believers to come closer to the cross every day. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shane Idleman ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Mon, 16 Jan 2017 08:00:00 -0500
When You Feel Your Needs Outweigh God's Supply http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/28553-when-you-feel-your-needs-outweigh-god-s-supply http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/28553-when-you-feel-your-needs-outweigh-god-s-supply

Several years ago, I was shopping at a one-stop shopping center with my two daughters in tow, both under the age of 4 at the time. Lisa and Angela were chattering up a storm, enjoying the depth of a preschool conversation, while I managed to get them secured in the rickety grocery cart and pushed over to the first stop on our list: the bakery.

As they enthusiastically munched the sprinkles from the top of their doughnuts, we strolled our way down the crowded aisles. My little "shoppers in training" were wide-eyed with excitement, oohing and aahing at everything in their 4-foot-high sight line. I was carefully calculating the cost of each item I dropped unto the basket while also working on damage control. By now, little arms were stretching out wide, releasing Velcro-like fingers that successfully grabbed at this toy and that snack, declaring life just couldn't go on without it. In aisle after aisle, I listened to squeals of delight and moans of disappointment as they picked up and I put back.

Finally exasperated with me, my oldest daughter, Lisa, the "spokeschild" for the sisters, appealed to my maternal instincts. "Mom," she pouted, "Don't you want us to have anything?" I melted. "Of course I do, honey, but Mommy only has enough money for a few things." Certain my children were intelligent enough to understand the budget, I went on to explain how Daddy worked hard for his earnings and we had to do a good job of being wise stewards. Angela yawned, and Lisa's eyes glazed over.

Yep, she got it. It was clear as mud. As we continued our shopping non-extravaganza, I could see that Lisa was still thinking about my words. I could almost hear those little wheels turning in her mind, when suddenly she looked up with one last inspiration, "Mom," she exhaled as she talked, "if we can't get any stuff now, can we get it when we are fully rich?"

Fully rich! Now there was a concept. My mind instantly went to one of my favorite verses of Scripture. Second Peter 1:3 says that God by "His divine power has given us to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence." Imagine, everything we need to live this life has already been given to us by our heavenly Father. He is our eternal source who has made us fully rich in Christ.

Still, I have to admit that there have been times when I felt as if my needs were outweighing God's supply. Of course that's ridiculous, but feelings aren't always logical. Then again, I realize my sense of need is exactly what God is looking for. Need drives me to my knees in total dependence on Him. In that posture, I recognize seeking God is part of the process that unlocks the provision He has already made. Because God rewards those who seek Him, need and knees must meet.

Psalm 34:10 tells us, "the ones who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing," and again, "no good thing will He withhold from the one who walks uprightly (Ps. 84:11b). So it is faith that stands in the face of need and declares, "But my God shall supply your every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). Indeed, He has already made the provision through Jesus Christ. He is just waiting for us to ask Him.

It has been over 35 years now since that shopping day with my daughters. As I reflect on the years since, I realize how God has truly met every need. Oh sure, there may be some "wants" from time to time, but through it all, God has been more than faithful.

Today, my riches go far beyond what I can see and touch. God has blessed me abundantly in my spirit, soul and body. His joy and love, His strength and mercy are priceless.

As His child, I have clamored about many things I think I need. ("Please God, I need this!") I have even pouted and questioned His goodness. "Don't you want me to have anything, Father?" But in His gentle way, He reminds me that He is my source who will meet all my needs, and in Him, I am fully rich.

Prayer Power for January 15, 2017

This week, thank the Lord that you are fully rich in Him and that He has already provided all you need. Ask Him to give you the desires of His heart for you so that you can more fully enjoy all He is in your life. Continue to pray for a peaceful and smooth transition as one administration exits and a new one moves into power. Pray for Congress as it addresses upcoming changes. Pray that God would have His way in our country, that our allies would stand firm with us, that the new administration would have divine wisdom to govern accordingly and the nation would once again be united "under God" (Psalm 34:10; Psalm 84:10; 2 Peter 1:10). {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dawn Scott Damon) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 15 Jan 2017 22:00:00 -0500
Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63 http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/28558-bishop-eddie-long-dead-at-63 http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/28558-bishop-eddie-long-dead-at-63

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church pastor Bishop Eddie Long died January 15, 2017, after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer. He was 63.

In an official statement from the church, acquired by WGCL in Atlanta, First Lady Elder Vanessa Long, Bishop Long's wife, said, "I am confident through my belief in God that my husband is now resting in a better place. Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate and be happy for him, knowing he's at peace."

Long reportedly struggled with health issues for much of 2016. In August, a video clip appeared with a slimmed-down Long who told the camera he was on "God's medication."

"No medications. I'm on the medication that God gave to feed your immune system, to build you up, because you know what? If you really want to move through this world and have influence, you gotta be spiritual, you gotta walk by His commandments and you know you have to be healthy. You know the Bible says, 'Behold I want you to be in health,' and the prosperity and all of that, and so I want to be in good health because I know God's given me something for me, for the church, for the kingdom and He's given you something," Long said.

But later that year, Long was hospitalized for a mystery illness, which some claimed was cancer.

"I am recovering from a health challenge that I trust God to deliver me from. It is unrelated to the eating for life diet consisting of mostly raw vegetables that I am continuing, as part of a holistic approach to good health," Long said in a statement at the time.

Long was born in Georgia in 1953 and stepped into the pastoral role at New Birth in 1987. According to his biography, membership flourished to 25,000 under the bishop.

The pastor was involved in a handful of scandals that ranged from a Ponzi scheme to sexual allegations.

Long took a leave of absence from New Birth in 2011 before returning in the new year in 2012.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Charisma News Staff) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Sun, 15 Jan 2017 10:56:00 -0500
10 Scriptures to War for Your Identity in Christ http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28554-10-scriptures-to-war-for-your-identity-in-christ http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28554-10-scriptures-to-war-for-your-identity-in-christ

Over the past 15 years, I have worked at leaving my past behind and walking in my new identity in Christ.

One thing that has been critical to this journey is surrounding myself with verses about what God says about me and my new identity in Him.

The Bible is filled from cover to cover with verses about who we are in Christ and about the fact that

  • God's thoughts about us are numerous
  • God's plans for us are prosperous
  • God's redemption of us gave us new life
  • God's sacrifice secured us in His family

And these verses line my war room wall (part of it is now located in my pantry and the other part in my journal)to remind myself of what God says about me in those times when the enemy wants to remind me of my past.

And when he reminds me of my past, I remind myself of what God's Word says, because that's even better than reminding him of his future.

It's better because instead of being focused on the enemy:

—I turn my focus immediately to God's Word.

—I fill my mind with Scripture.

—I replace the lying thought with biblical truth.

—I catapult myself out of negativity into victory.

Here are 10 Bible verses about your identity in Christ

John 15:15 – "I no longer call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I have heard from My Father have I made known to you."

Isaiah 49:16a – "See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;"

Romans 6:6 – "Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him, so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we should no longer be slaves of sin."

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

Ephesians 4:24 – "Put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness."

1 Peter 2:9 – "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

Psalm 139:14 – "I will praise You, for You made me with fear and wonder; marvelous are Your works, and You know completely."

Galatians 2:20 – "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Philippians 3:20 – "But our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also await for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Colossians 3:1-3 – "If you then were raised with Christ, desire those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (eoa)

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Rosilind Jukic) Featured Women Life Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:00:00 -0500
4 Cures for a 'Boring' Prayer Meeting http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28538-4-cures-for-a-boring-prayer-meeting http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28538-4-cures-for-a-boring-prayer-meeting

One of the reasons people don't go to a prayer meeting is that they think it's going to be boring. Here are some ways you and your church can change that ugly perception:

Reason No. 1: Lack of expectation that God will meet with us. From a biblical perspective, when we gather for prayer, we can be assured that God is in our midst (see Matt. 18:20). But often it is the leader's job to play the role of Elisha with his servant when he prayed, "Open his eyes" (2 Kin. 6:17b). When people expect to meet with God, their attitude will be very different. As George Muller used to say, "God has dealt with me according to my expectation."

Cure: There are ways to increase people's expectation of meeting with God. Here are three examples. Songs of worship can raise our awareness that we are meeting with God and not just going through religious activities. Drawing our attention to Bible passages of God's power with His people can have the same effect. Finally, along a similar line, stories of powerful prayer meetings from history can increase expectation in the room.

Reason No. 2: Lack of anticipation of the importance of the meeting. Many people in our day and age place a high value on time. Things considered a waste of time are considered boring. I think that's part of the reason people, especially men, often skip the prayer meeting for other activities. Overcoming this perception can increase attendance at the prayer meeting.

Cure: One of the ways to help people to see the importance of the prayer meeting is to line up the agenda of the prayer meeting with important items. When the early disciples met for prayer in Acts chapter 4 about the persecution they were facing, no one would have questioned the importance of the meeting. And the room was shaken. You might make the agenda for your prayer service the Big Hairy Audacious Goals that God has put on your heart for the church. You may put signs around the room with pictures of lost people in need of God.

Reason No. 3: Leaders governed by obligation instead of desperation in calling the meeting. I was a senior pastor for about nine years before starting this ministry back in 2005. There always seemed as though there was more to do than I had time to do it. With that type of environment, it's easy to feel as though a prayer service is just another item on the to-do list. If this is how the leader feels, it will quickly be felt by everyone else and drain the energy in the room.

Cure: There are two steps to overcoming this challenge. Both are important. First, the leader needs to reconnect with their "why." This may be as simple as changing the agenda of the prayer meeting as we talked about in the last reason. The second part is to set up the time and structure of the prayer meeting as the leader so that you want to come. Don't feel obligated to have a morning prayer service if you're a night owl. Maybe to start with a 30-minute prayer service before Sunday morning is better than adding another night to your agenda when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Reason No. 4: No balance of spontaneity and predictability. There is nothing wrong with routine in your prayer service. Structure can provide security to people who are new to a prayer meeting. Knowing what's happening next can even help the veterans of the prayer service feel comfortable to focus on prayer. But structure can also create boredom if we're not careful.

Cure: Hopefully you will see that the first three reasons are foundational to fixing this challenge as well. Let me encourage you as leader to create a simple broad-stroke plan with predictable parts, but don't be afraid to change to follow the moment. Let the components be like your playbook that gives you the comfort to call an audible with confidence. {eoa}

Kevin Senapatiratne is head spiritual pyromaniac for Christ Connection. Kevin speaks around the United States helping Christians find the fun of prayer. He is the author of Enjoying Prayer. You can learn more about his ministry at enjoyingprayer.com.

For the original article, visit christconnection.cc.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kevin Senapatiratne) Featured Prayer Spirit Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:00:00 -0500
Tessie Güell DeVore Resigns From Charisma House to Head Up the Lumo Project http://www.charismamag.com/life/business-finance/28555-tessie-gueell-devore-resigns-from-charisma-house-to-head-up-the-lumo-project http://www.charismamag.com/life/business-finance/28555-tessie-gueell-devore-resigns-from-charisma-house-to-head-up-the-lumo-project

After 23 years with Charisma House, Tessie DeVore has resigned from her role as executive vice president and publisher to serve as president of a new nonprofit, the Lumo Project, a ministry dedicated to Bible engagement.

Marcos Perez, vice president of sales and marketing for Charisma House, has been promoted to executive vice president and publisher by Steve Strang, CEO and founder of Charisma Media.

"Tessie DeVore's contribution to the growth and life of our organization is immeasurable," Strang said. "We're sad to see her go but believe the Lord has opened a new door for her with this ministry."

DeVore explained that the Lumo Project will bring the original Jesus narrative to the screen using the Gospel text as its script, word for word, informed by leading world experts' latest theological, historical and archaeological research.

"This is a groundbreaking project that revolutionizes the way we experience and understand the story of Jesus. Its dramatized action is accompanied by voiceover narration, word for word, and is presently being translated into every major language in the world," she added.

DeVore started as an assistant editor for Christian Retailing magazine in 1993. One year later, she started the Spanish-language magazine Vida Cristiana, and from there launched Casa Creación, Charisma's Spanish book imprint, which has published almost 1,000 books. Later she was promoted to head the Book Group, and under her leadership, Charisma House published multiple New York Times best-sellers, including The Harbinger, The Mystery of the Shemitah and, more recently, The Book of Mysteries, all by Jonathan Cahn. Most recently, she led the team as they launched the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Bible.

"There is no end to what I could write about my years with Charisma Media," DeVore said. "I would like to think the Lord, in His grace, has used me in small ways to inspire and impact others. Though culture tells us to glory in our achievements, I believe true biblical leadership is about challenging others to be better than you. That is why I'm confident that Marcos Perez will take Charisma House to a new level."

Marcos-Perez
Marcos Perez

Perez started with the company in 2000 in the magazine advertising department. In 2007, he moved to the Book Group where he served as CBA sales manager, then director of sales, eventually growing into his role as vice president of sales for several years. In July 2015, Perez became vice president of sales and marketing where he has led sales and marketing through critical transitions in the last 18 months.

"It is an honor to serve in this new role," Perez said. "I honor Tessie and have learned so much from her. She is a mentor and friend. Here at Charisma House, we have a stellar team in every area, and I look forward to tackling our growth opportunities moving forward. God's hand has been incredibly evident through this process, and it is an exciting time for our publishing program." 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Business & Finance Life Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:10:00 -0500
What the Mighty Men of Your Church Really Want http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28535-what-the-mighty-men-of-your-church-really-want http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28535-what-the-mighty-men-of-your-church-really-want

"Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood."George S. Patton

Ninety percent of the men who live in the United States say they believe in God." Five out of six men in the U.S. refer to themselves as "Christians," yet only 35 percent of the men in the United States attend church. Only 35 percent.

But another reality is that only one out of five women will have their husband sitting beside them in church today. I look out over the congregations I preach to, in churches all over the world, and so many of the women in each service are not sitting with their husband. It's a startling statistic. Why?

In my 25-plus years as a pastor and over 30 years in the ministry, I have learned that men respond to straight talk. They like people to deal with real issues and tell it like it is. They don't need to be talked "at" about stuff way up here that they can't even relate to. I know my own ADD kicks in fast if I can't relate to what a speaker is talking about. I know that when I'm reading my sermon outline, if it's boring me, I don't have a shot with most of the men.

We need to equate faith with guts. The church, in far too many cases, has feminized the church experience, and we have stopped relating to and speaking to real men. We need to preach in a way that challenges men and connects with men. We need to call men to commitment. Why? Because boys follow men!

Proclaim this among the nations: Consecrate a war! Stir up the mighty men! Let all the men of war draw near and rise. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weakling say, 'I am a warrior!' (Joel 3:9-10).

I refuse to believe that Jesus Christ, one of the toughest men ever to walk this earth, is not relevant to the 21st-century man. But I do believe there's a total disconnect between many men and the 21st-century church experience, especially in the American culture. Men outnumber women in the Hindu faith. Men outnumber women in the Buddhism faith. Men outnumber women vastly, greatly in the Islamic faith. Only in Christianity do women outnumber the men in that faith.

So what is going on, and why is there an absence of manly men in the church? What's going on? Where are the real guys in the church? Where are the risk-takers; the rough-and-tumble strong men of God? There must be a place for men in our churches. There must be a place for real guys in the church. Guys who like real stuff that guys like belong in the church. It is so critical that we find answers to these questions, or we will continue to have churches filled with women without their husbands. Maybe that describes you or your husband.

The church of the first century was a magnet to men. Jesus' ministry was a magnet to men, and they were drawn to it. They liked it. They couldn't wait to get around it.

The Disciples

When Jesus officially started His ministry, one of the first things He did was to find 12 men. And Jesus took those 12 men and turned the world upside down. He chose fishermen—and a business leader, a tax collector and a doctor. Jesus was a carpenter by trade. He chose regular guys, real guys, not super-spiritual guys. Jesus chose strong men and he persuaded them with the same message that we preach today ... and those men responded the same way men have responded for over 2000 years ... all in, and in many darker days, at the expense of their very life.

Real men are not perfect, and real men get into it with each another sometimes. Real men do that every once in a while. Have you ever read the story of where Paul and Peter got in an argument? The Bible says that Paul said, "I withstood him face to face, because he stood condemned" (Gal. 2:11b). Can you imagine that? But that's what real men do sometimes, and real men are able to move on, let it go and remain friends and brothers.

We falsely think men are afraid to commit and they're afraid of structure. But that isn't the case. Others say men don't come to church because they're just not expressive. Well, go to a ballgame with some men and you'll see that simply isn't the case at all. They can get real expressive!

Church Imitating Life

I had a movie-going experience not too long ago with my wife. She wanted me to go to one I knew would be a "chick flick." Even the name had "chick flick" written all over it. That's why I loaded up with popcorn, candy, Nachos—everything. I knew this was going to be a long one, and I needed something to do.

As I settled into my seat, I began looking around the theater and I noticed there were lots of women, but only four other men with their wives. And I said, "Look at these men. Look at them!" They were miserable, absolutely. And then it hit me. This mirrored that one in five number we talked about earlier—only one in five women have their husband with them in church. You know, if we're not careful, we'll turn the church into a chick flick. Men will come only out of duty and obligation. Nothing attracts men. There's no adventure. There's no fire. There's no passion. There's no challenge. There's no conquering. It's just a chick flick, romantic and sweet.

An organization conducted a study focused on words that people associate with church. They used two very different lists of words and then asked the male and female respondents to choose which list best described the church experience. The lists are below:

List 1: Feelings, Sharing, Love, Communication, Support, Help

List 2: Power, Efficiency, Achievement, Skill, Goal-Oriented, Competition, Success

After having the men and women look at the two lists, they were asked to choose which list of words best describe their church experience. Both groups (the men and women) said that List 1 above describes "church." But the problem is that one group of words makes men come alive and the other group of words makes women come alive. For men, List 2 makes them come alive, but for most men, that list would not describe their church experience ... and so here we sit, with only one in five women sitting with their husband in church. It turns out men vote with their feet.

There's a lot of singing in church, and men, in general, don't like to sing. They are very self-conscious about their voices, and it's just something they don't really do in any other part of their life—in public. There's a lot of hand-holding, and many times that happens with other men. Why are men not attracted to the church? Men don't like some of that stuff. It's not a criticism of women or anything like that. It's just me being honest with you about the things that keep men from the house of God—which, for many men, means we are also keeping them from God. This is not a negative reflection on women. We just need some balance in the church.

Risk and adventure were taken out of the church, and suddenly, it was all about safety, and security. The word "sanctuary" comes from the word "security." Men want risk and adventure, and when the church becomes just a little safe place, we lose their interest. That's where tradition comes from. We don't want to change anything. We want it safe, and we want it "secure."

We tell our men, "If you get saved, you're going to go to heaven." And we've taught them that when you get to heaven, you are going to sit on a cloud and have some little fat babies with angel's wings and play a harp. Now isn't that exciting for a man to think about?

But on the other hand, the Islamic religion teaches that "if you go to their heaven, the first thing a man gets is 72 virgins!" Jesus preached about rewards that would be given. And He said, "If you're faithful in this life, you will rule over cities. You will serve and rule nations with a rod of iron" (see Rev. 2:26-27). That beats playing a harp for fat babies any day.

In families where only the woman serves God, 17 percent of the time, the children will follow in that faith. But in the families where the man serves God with the wife, 93 percent of the time, the family and children will follow Jesus Christ. That's why Joshua said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" (Josh 24:15c). "I'm not taking votes"—"I'm not asking for a poll"—"I'm telling you that, "me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

We need to encourage our men. We need to encourage our teenage sons. We need to encourage these young men in the Lord in the things of God. We've got to stop putting them down and telling them everything that is wrong with them. You keep them in church, and God will deal with them about everything.

A Band of Men

Wake up the mighty men. The church has been without one of our greatest resources, mighty men, for far too long. The mentality of the church and what we communicate has got to change. God designed the church to attract men, not repel them. Wake up the mighty men. Wake them up! Challenge them! Call them to commitment!

There is a Scripture in 1 Samuel, chapter 10 that is one of my favorite verses in all the Bible.

"Saul also went home to Gibeah. And there went with him a band of valiant men whose hearts God had touched" (1 Sam. 10:26b).

I remember the first time I read that: "a band of men." Something in me cried out, "Oh God, give me a band of men in my church whose hearts God has touched." Because if a man's heart has been touched by God, he'll be a better husband—he'll be a better father—he'll be a better leader—he'll be a better provider. What we need more than anything else is men whose hearts have been touched by God. {eoa}

Jentezen Franklin is the pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia; Gwinnett, Georgia; and Orange County, California. He is a popular conference speaker, and his nationally televised program, Kingdom Connection, is seen weekly on national and international networks. He has written several books, including Believe That You Can, Fear Fighters, and the New York Times best-seller Fasting. He and his wife, Cherise, have five children.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jentezen Franklin ) Featured Men Life Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:00:00 -0500
My Problem With Traditional Diets http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28539-my-problem-with-traditional-diets http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28539-my-problem-with-traditional-diets

"What do you think about Weight Watchers?"

I received that same question twice via email on the very day I posted the "My Problem with Overeaters Anonymous" article.

When I saw the question, I thought. "Uh, uh—do I really want to get on my soapbox about traditional diets?"

Before I give my answer to the question, I need to give you some background about my own history with Weight Watchers.

In the over 20 years of struggling with my weight before I achieved lasting success, I used the Weight Watchers program at least twice. Although I did lose weight, I ended up gaining the weight back, plus more on top of that.

However, you'll notice that I did not call this article, "My Problem with Weight Watchers." That's because my problem is not about Weight Watchers specifically.

My problem is with all traditional diets on the planet.

Ooh, it sounds like Kim is getting ready for a rant!

Yes, I know it is a strong statement. And to be fair, some weight-loss programs are good. I count Weight Watchers as a good program as far as traditional programs go.

However, my problem is because of a critical flaw within all traditional weight-loss programs.

The flaw is that a typical diet-industry program works on an external approach: outside in. 

Here's a good example. Back in the 1980s, I was a regular Oprah Winfrey Show viewer. (Interestingly enough, Oprah is promoting Weight Watchers now.)

I will never forget the episode when Oprah emerged on the stage, looking slim and trim in skinny jeans, dragging a wagon load of fat behind her.

Oprah told viewers she lost the weight on a medically supervised liquid diet. Well, Oprah looked great. I needed to lose a lot of weight too, so I decided to do what Oprah did.

I discovered a local hospital offered the Medifast diet. It was very expensive, costing hundreds of dollars a month. I would be limited to eating two small meals supplied in a silver vacuum-packed bag along with drinking three protein shakes per day.

Plus, I had to have blood work done every few weeks to ensure my blood chemistry remained normal. After all, that way of eating is not normal for most of us.

I did the program for two months. The meals weren't half bad, but the shakes were horrible. They tasted like chalk. But I was willing to endure the shakes if I was going to end up looking like Oprah.

Well, you probably know the end of the story. I did lose the excess weight. I looked great, but I felt awful. My energy level was in the basement.

I couldn't wait for the diet to be over. As soon as it was, I threw myself back into eating the way I did before the diet. So did Oprah. We both gained the weight back—plus more.

What happened to us is the traditional-diet mentality in action.

The diet mentality says, "I'll eat this way until I lose weight, then I'll go back to eating the way I did before." That is why people are constantly losing weight and gaining it back. 

Because they are always going back to what they see as normal eating for them.

Even though the diet works on their external actions, their hearts and minds remain unchanged. That's why they always go back to the place (habits) that caused them to gain weight in the first place.

So you need to go to a new place.

I believe a Christ-centered approach to weight loss works best. God's way to change is internal, inside out.

We know that the only way to lasting change is the way the Bible prescribes: "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).

"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" (Rom. 12:2).

Only a daily relationship with God through Jesus Christ has the power to change your heart.

Only abiding in His Word has the power to change your mind.

In the over 10 years I've had Take Back Your Temple online, I have discovered that many people who struggle with eating and weight issues have heart issues driving them. They also typically have beliefs that are keeping them overweight.

A traditional weight-loss program can never minister to issues of the heart and mind. But Jesus, the Great Physician, can.

As long as you only work on the outside and don't address what is driving your external behavior from the inside, you'll be doomed to riding the weight loss rollercoaster forever.

But when you slow down and decide you no longer want to live a diet, but want a way of eating that powers your purpose and your life, you are on your way to lasting success.

Christians realize a larger issue is at stake than just looking good; after all, how we travel through this life has eternal consequences.

So the wisest thing to do is to "lay aside every weight" (Heb. 12:1b) that entangles us in this world so we can "run with endurance the race" the Lord sets before us (see Heb. 12:1b).

Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness. {eoa}

Once 240 pounds and a size 22, Kimberly Taylor can testify of God's healing power to end binge eating. She is an author and the creator of the Christian weight-loss website takebackyourtemple.com. Visit today for inspirational health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.) Featured Health Life Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:50:00 -0500
If You Find This, You Will Find Your Destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28537-if-you-find-this-you-will-find-your-destiny http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/28537-if-you-find-this-you-will-find-your-destiny

I was saved in the Jesus Movement. The Jesus People were a countercultural group who lived communally, grew gardens, and ate off the land. Their motto was, "Come out from among them and be separate," says the Lord. "Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." (2 Cor. 6:17).

It was an isolationist mindset that, as it turned out, was not me. Personally, I loved the Jesus People. We shared a heart for holiness and passion for God, but what they shouted (metaphorically speaking) I whispered, and what I shouted, they whispered.

Although I admired them, and many of them are still my friends today, they are not my tribe. I wilted in the shade of their isolation-from-society tree. Their lack of motivation to transform the world drove me crazy. It was a constant point of conflict in our relationships until I finally decided to move on.

It's important to recognize that one leaning is not necessarily better than the other, but you must identify which way you do lean when you are searching for your people.

8 Kinds of Tribes

Scriptures help define us; many of us find ourselves resonating with verses that mold and reveal our attitudes. Here are a few perspectives that may reveal more of who you are and who your people are. If these are the kinds of Scriptures you dream about, then find people with the same heart and collaborate with them.

1. Childlike. It is fair to say that we are all called to be childlike. But for some, childlikeness is more than an attribute; it's a gene that defines them. Do you connect with the humility of the Lamb of God when He proclaimed, "Truly, I say to you, whoever will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will in no wise enter it" (Luke 18:17)? Is your heart's motto, "Why can't everyone just love one another and get along?" If you are the kind of person who never really grew up but instead grew in—into Jesus, into His nature, into His virtues—then you may find your people among this tribe: those who have simple, uncomplicated faith.

2. Responsible. Maybe you are driven to step out and meet the needs of the broken and hurting in a community. For you, responsibility is job No. 1. You understand that "love suffers long" (1 Cor. 13:4a), and you feel fully actualized when you are in the fray, mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing with those who rejoice. If this describes you, you are more likely to find your people in the cornfield than at the ball field, in the workplace than at the bowling alley.

3. Servant-minded. All believers are royalty and, simultaneously, servants of all. Yet some believers are more servant-minded in their natures than others. They feel fully alive when they do practical things for people. The Kingdom places a high value on the attributes of servanthood. Jesus said, "If anyone desires to be first, he must be last and servant of all" (Mark 9:35b). Your seat of servanthood is your throne of destiny. Is your passion activated through service? Do you naturally think about meeting the needs of people? Do you envision yourself joining others in coordinated efforts to touch the poor or help the broken? If these things are true about you, then these values must be resident in your people in order for you to resonate with them.

4. Noble. Some of you reek of royalty. You carry yourself nobly and come across as if you work in the White House. The apostle Paul said, "Now you are full, now you are rich; you have begun reigning as kings without us, and I wish to God you reigned, so that we also might reign with you" (1 Cor. 4:8). Do you envision yourself leading in some arena with a team of top-tier advisers? Do you see yourself more like King David or King Solomon than Joseph or Daniel (who advised kings)? If this is you, you are more likely to meet your people in the community than in the congregation.

5. Bride-like. The Song of Solomon is the story of two lovers who are so passionate about each other that they make their readers blush. Are you a hopeless romantic? Are you so constantly caught up in romancing the Bridegroom that it seems the rest of life is a bother? Do you value feelings and experiences above tasks and accomplishments? If you answered affirmatively, then passion is the hallmark of your tribal DNA. You probably approach life as the bride does and express yourself through creativity; it's common to find your tribe in a community of artists, musicians, or dancers—people known for being sensitive, intuitive, prophetic and creative.

6. Competitive. I really admire this next tribe. These folks are the Holy Spirit Olympians! For these folks, a minute wasted is a race lost. Paul summed up this lifestyle when he wrote to the church at Corinth, "Do you not know that all those who run in a race run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain it" (1 Cor. 9:24). Is this you? Do you feel life is a competition waiting to be won or an obstacle course that must be conquered? If so, your people will probably be found at a basketball court, gym or in the outback somewhere climbing a mountain—in any environment with activities requiring intense discipline.

7. Battle-ready. The battle-ready are as intense as the disciplined athletes, yet for them life isn't a race; it's a war. They view the world as a battlefield and see themselves as soldiers engaged in an intense struggle against the devil for the souls of men. The apostle Paul was definitely the personification of a soldier and required those who accompanied him to enlist in his "armed forces." We see this in his exhortation to Timothy when he wrote, "Endure hard times as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No soldier on active duty entangles himself with civilian affairs, that he may please the enlisting officer" (2 Tim. 2:3–4).

8. Hard-working.
Although some people are soldiers, still others are hard-working farmers. Farmers are plodders; they are consistent and patient people who, through prolonged labor, receive their rewards in harvest seasons. Skilled farmers must be visionaries, because they plant trees that yield no harvest for several years. Perhaps this resonates with you? You love to work hard, and you exhibit great patience, knowing your effort will be rewarded in time. You enjoy doing life in different seasons. You love to chill in the winter of life, aware that "He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully" (Prov. 10:5).

Putting on Your Tribal Glasses

I want to challenge you to put your tribal glasses on when you read your Bible. Look for the kingdom attributes and attitudes your heart resonates with as you comb through its pages. Pay attention to the DNA within you so you can discover your people in the world around you. Remember: until you find your people, you can't fully apprehend your divine destiny, because your destiny lies in your people.

For more on finding your tribe, check out my new book, Destined to Win. Which group do you resonate with? Give a shout out to your tribe in the comments below! {eoa}

Kris Vallotton is the senior associate leader at Bethel Church in Redding, California, where he has served with Bill Johnson for three decades. He has written several books, including the best-selling The Supernatural Ways of Royalty and Heavy Rain.

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kris Vallotton ) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:00:00 -0500
2 Ingredients for God's Glory to Be Released in Your Situation http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28551-2-ingredients-for-god-s-glory-to-be-released-in-your-situation http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28551-2-ingredients-for-god-s-glory-to-be-released-in-your-situation

Gabriel answers Mary's honest question, "How can this be?" (Luke 1:34b). He says to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore the Holy One who will be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The Amplified Version of the Bible describes this overshadowing as "like a shining cloud".

This is what happens when we activate our faith and believe in His promises. We allow His presence to come upon us and overshadow us like a shining cloud. In Genesis 1:1-3, we read about this overshadowing when God creates the heavens and the earth. It says in verse 2 that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is hovering and brooding over the situation, and His glory releases into the situation when the Father says in verse 3, "Let there be light."

This light is not the sun, moon and stars; God creates these in verses 14-19, on the fourth day of creation. What is this light that He releases in verse 3? It is the manifested glory of God. And it is in this realm where miracles release and manifest.

If we read through the rest of the encounter between Gabriel and Mary, we will see Mary's response: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be unto me according to your word" (Luke 1:38a). She binds herself to the word of the Lord and releases the glorious power of the Holy Spirit into her life through the agreement of her spoken words, just as the Father did in the beginning of creation. And that's when the miraculous happens. 

Does the Spirit of the Lord want to release in us an unimaginable miracle? Are we struggling to find the manifestation of this promise? We need to be like Mary: Surrender our will to His, and give the invitation to the Holy Spirit to manifest His shining cloud of glory over us to release and create our miracle.

Let's pray.

Dear Holy Spirit,

I am your bondslave, I bind myself to You. I invite You to come and overshadow me with Your shining cloud of glory. With my spoken words of agreement, I release Your power to create Your miraculous will for my life.

In Jesus' name, I dare to believe and receive, amen. {eoa}

Becky Dvorak is a prophetic healing evangelist and the author of DARE to Believe, Greater Than Magic and The Healing Creed. Visit her at authorbeckydvorak.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Moms: Move From Vanquished to Victor With These 4 Truths http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28550-moms-move-from-vanquished-to-victor-with-these-4-truths http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28550-moms-move-from-vanquished-to-victor-with-these-4-truths

"What would you do differently as a mom, Cheri?"

I hesitate, look around the table at the five women gathered for a mom's night out, and realize I'm among friends.

"Pretty much everything!" I say, only half in jest.

"There are three general types of feedback people can give each other: affirmation, coaching and evaluation."

Everyone nods; they've all read Thanks for the Feedback, too.

I continue. "What I wish I'd done was spent their first 10 years giving them very intentional coaching in all key areas of life. Then, by the time they were teens, the foundation would have been well-laid, and I could have focused more on affirmation. Unfortunately, I fell for the self-esteem movement of the '90s."

All five women roll their eyes in sympathetic understanding.

"I did it the wrong way around: I affirmed my kids' every waking moment but failed to coach and, as necessary, correct. As a result, they're 24 and 26 and still trying to figure out how to launch independent lives."

As our conversation continues, each mom shares her own regrets.

By dessert time, our list is long indeed.

The Overwhelm of Mom-Guilt

I've seen plenty of social media memes urging us to "Live with no regrets."

But I have yet to meet a regret-free mom.

Most conversations I have with mothers of any age or stage quickly turn to how overwhelmed they are by Mom- Guilt.

A few years ago, I posted this question to my Facebook page:

"I'm working on a project and need some examples of negative self-talk that parents use against themselves. (i.e. "They deserve a better mom than me...") Give me your best imitation(s) of those inner critic, mom/dad guilt voices!"

In less than an hour, almost one hundred women (no men) had left comments like these:

  • "If I were a better Mom, I wouldn't have such a hard time breastfeeding—or I'd produce more milk." Or "This baby deserves a better mom—one who isn't feeling weepy or crabby every day."
  • "What will people think if my child keeps _______________?" (Fill in blank with crying, sucking his thumb, whining, talking in church, carrying her blankie, refusing green vegetables and so on.)
  • "At this rate, we'll be Jerry Springer Show regulars by 2020."
  • "If I were a good mom, my child would ... take school work more seriously, be better organized, have more friends, play outside more, not be failing his class, not be working on his project at 10:00 the night before it's due."
  • "Whatever I do, it will never be enough."
  • "They would choose (another mom's name) over me for a mom if they had a choice."

My Most Overwhelming Regret

I resonate with every single concern voiced above.

But my most overwhelming regret is that I didn't take care of my own emotional and spiritual health when my children were little.

I met my husband when I was 18, just six months after being discharged from the eating disorder unit of a neuropsychiatric hospital. We married young (21) and had children right away.

I knew the eating disorder I'd struggled with for five years wasn't fully resolved. But I did what so many women do: I believed I could put my own needs high on a shelf for the next 20 years, raise my children and then pick back up where I'd left myself off.

Of course, it didn't work that way.

My kids grew up with a mom who was barely surviving. Oh, how I wish they'd had a mom who was intentionally thriving.

Giving Our Guilt to God

Over the holidays, my 26-year-old daughter, Annemarie, and I sat at the kitchen table, drinking tea and chatting about how God is working in our lives.

As I shared some of the self-care and boundary-setting decisions I'd recently made, Annemarie responded, "I'm so proud of the choices you're making, Mom. This is such incredible growth for you."

"I just wish I hadn't waited so long to deal with my issues," I said, deflecting her praise with guilt. "I wish I'd made these kinds of choices 20 years ago."

Annemarie reached across the kitchen table, put a hand on mine, and her next words took my breath away:

"Mom, you need to know that the 6-year-old in me is watching you, too."

For so many years, I thought it was too late. The damage was done. It was too late for me to change, to become a better mom, to be the kind of mom my kids needed and deserved.

But my daughter's words told a different story. They reminded me that God really can "restore ... the years that the locust hath eaten" (Joel 2:25, KJV).

Today, if you're a parent who feels overwhelmed by regret, here are four truths you need to know:

1. You're not alone.

2. It's never too late.

3. You can change.

4. Even the smallest change you make makes a difference that matters. {eoa}

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women's retreats. She's been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory) Featured Women Life Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:00:00 -0500
One of the Most Effective Ways to Pursue Better Health http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/28534-one-of-the-most-effective-ways-to-pursue-better-health http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/28534-one-of-the-most-effective-ways-to-pursue-better-health

Do you know that God is interested in every area of your life? The truth is He cares about every single thing that concerns you, and He wants every bit of you to be whole and healthy.

First Thessalonians 5:23 (AMPC) says, "May the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)." This verse shows us we can be "wholly consecrated to God," and He wants our spirit, soul and body to "be preserved sound and complete."

Jesus came to heal you and make you whole. He died so your sins could be forgiven and you could be made whole in your spirit, soul and body (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 19:10; John 10:10).

God created us as tri-part beings: we are a spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body. One function of our spirit is the conscience; it's the part of us that receives revelation from God. The soul is made up of our mind, will and emotions, and our body is the "house" we live in. It's easy to think that God is only interested in spiritual things, but all three parts of our being are important to Him.

We can be sound spiritually—born again and on our way to heaven—but God wants more for us than that. Jesus didn't come so we could just make it through this life and get to Heaven. He wants us to enjoy the journey, too!

I remember years ago when I was going to church regularly and had received Christ as my Savior, but so much of my life was a mess. I really loved God, but I didn't love my life. I looked as though I had it all together on the outside, but there was a lot of pain and dysfunction on the inside that people didn't know about.

It was an amazing revelation when I saw in God's Word that He cares about how we think, talk, our finances, our relationships, and that He has a plan and purpose for every single one of us. God wants our lives to be good. It took time and a determined decision on my part to study the Word and believe God's promises were for me, but I'm no longer a miserable Christian and can honestly say today that I am much healthier and enjoy the life God has given me.

The best way to begin pursuing better health is by pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus, because if your spirit is not healthy and right with God, the other areas of your life can't become completely whole either.

Psalm 63:5 says, "My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips." I love that this says "my whole being shall be satisfied." And Psalm 63:8 gives us the key to complete satisfaction: "My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me." So if we want to be fully satisfied, we have to follow hard after Jesus.

In any area of life, you'll get out of it what you put into it. It's foolish to think you can have a close walk with God if you don't spend time with Him on a regular basis, or the only time you talk to Him is when you're in trouble. Being a victorious Christian is not just a Sunday- morning event. And God wants to have a personal, intimate, ongoing relationship with you.

Romans 12:1b says to "make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship." In other words, we need to dedicate our entire being to God—to be passionate for Him and seek Him with all of our heart.

As you pursue greater health, I want to encourage you to start by dedicating (or rededicating) your entire life to Jesus. Spend time in prayer each day, study the Bible and discover for yourself what it means to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and be full of the life of God.

Remember that life in Christ is a lifelong journey, and learning to be completely dedicated to Him is a process. But as you make progress little by little each day, your life will get more and more exciting, because following the plan God has for you is the only way you will be satisfied in your whole being. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:00:00 -0500
The Key to Living a Life of Extraordinary Supernatural Power http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28536-the-key-to-living-a-life-of-extraordinary-supernatural-power http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28536-the-key-to-living-a-life-of-extraordinary-supernatural-power

You can live a life of extraordinary, supernatural power. The secret is actually quite simple. God's power is obtained through a lifestyle of intimacy with Him.

Jesus understood the connection between power and intimacy. Luke 5:15-16 says, "And great crowds came together to hear and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. But He withdrew to the wilderness and prayed."

Jesus was constantly flowing in the anointing and releasing the power of God through His life to others. The level of His anointing was in direct proportion to His prayer life.

Everything He accomplished in His earthly ministry was birthed out of the time He spent with the Father in prayer.

In John 5:19, Jesus declares, "'Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. For whatever He does, likewise the Son does'" The mighty power that flowed through Jesus' life to work miracles was a direct result of His communion with God.

God taught me this truth early on in my walk with Him. Both before and during my years in pastoral ministry, I would spend hours a day waiting in His presence.

At that time, I had no idea how God would use me to bring His love and power to thousands. I would often walk into my office at the church as a young pastor to find the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit waiting there for me. Periodically I would spend all day and night locked in my office, basking in the radiance of His glory.

One day I felt guilty for spending so much time in prayer. I knew there were practical things that needed to be done. But God said to me, "Matt, if you do not have this time with Me now, you will not be able to walk in what I have for you in the future."

Instantly, all the guilt was gone. I knew my future ministry would be released out of the time I was spending with God. And of course, the tasks I had to do always got done.

After five years of pastoral ministry, during which the anointing of God increased on my life, I suddenly found myself being launched out by Him into a worldwide, prophetic healing ministry. Over the last several years we have seen thousands saved, healed and delivered by God's power.

I attribute the anointing I have today to the years of hidden devotion I had with God both as a young person and a pastor.

I could write pages of accounts of divine encounters in which the power of God has been released as a result of my cultivating a relationship with the Holy Spirit in my life. One particularly memorable event occurred during a church service in West Virginia. It was 8:30 p.m., and we had already been worshiping for an hour and a half. Suddenly God said to me, "At 9:00 p.m., My power will hit this place."

I knew something extraordinary was about to happen. I stood at the pulpit and encouraged those in attendance to continue worshiping. Then I instructed the ushers to close off all the air vents. I didn't want anyone to mistake the air-conditioning for the wind of God.

The members of the congregation lifted up their hands and began to worship with a new fervor. The atmosphere became electrified with a supernatural faith.

At precisely 9:00 p.m. I could feel a surge of power hit my body as the person of the Holy Spirit swept across the sanctuary. Some could feel a physical wind blowing over their bodies, while others felt a tangible fire. God had invaded the meeting.

People ran forward testifying of God's healing power. Many were instantly healed of fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, chronic back pain, chest pain, shoulder conditions, knee injuries, pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis.

As we have allowed the Holy Spirit to move in our meetings since that incident, we have also witnessed the healing of cancer, the opening of deaf ears, the restoration of sight to blind eyes and the ability to walk to the lame, as well as the healing of deep emotions. Glory to God!

Let me encourage you to continually develop a lifestyle of intimacy with God. Not only will you experience His tremendous power, but you will also enjoy getting to know Him, walking closely with Him and learning the secrets of His heart. You will discover that fellowship with Him is the greatest joy a person can experience.

You can walk intimately with God and live in the reality of His presence every day of your life. You can be a releaser of His glory in a hurting and lost world. Whether to the woman in the grocery store who needs healing from arthritis or to the multitudes in Africa and India who are starving and lost in spiritual darkness, you can carry God's power and love as you intimately walk with God each day of your life. {eoa}

Matt Sorger, author, prophetic messenger, revivalist, healing evangelist, teacher, television host and philanthropist, has served in full-time ministry for over 23 years, spanning more than 200 nations of the earth through travel and media ministry. He hosts a weekly teaching program titled Power for Life. Matt moves in a unique anointing that fills entire rooms with the tangible glory of God with many healed, set free and empowered. He teaches believers how to live lives saturated with the glory of God and brings a great balance between authentic, supernatural encounter and solid biblical truth. He reaches cities and regions by partnering with and impacting local churches to see a great breakthrough of the Holy Spirit.

For the original article, visit mattsorger.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Matt Sorger ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Fri, 13 Jan 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Prophecy: How You Can Empowered by God For Great Things http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28532-prophecy-how-you-can-empowered-by-god-for-great-things http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/28532-prophecy-how-you-can-empowered-by-god-for-great-things

Holy Scripture states that the Almighty God is searching the entire earth looking for someone! Who is God looking for?

God is looking about the entire earth, searching for the upright in heart. To them, God will prove Himself strong and sure. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chron. 16:9). Notice the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. It is the heart that is fully committed to follow God that is empowered.

Specifically, the Spirit of God is preparing leadership by releasing upon them the anointing that rested upon the sons of Issachar. These men had revelatory understanding of the time and season in which they lived, and were well aware of what the people of God should be accomplishing (1 Chron. 12:32). We too must be anointed with the Spirit of God to operate in this type of anointing to guide and navigate these dark, dangerous days.

What is the time and season in which we now live? God will fill the entire earth with the knowledge of the great glory of His Son Christ Jesus! God's plans for these end-time days are for the entire world to discover that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is indeed King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Tim. 6:15 and Rev. 19:16).

Scripture states that every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess that Christ Jesus is Lord. The Spirit of Truth is revealing the glory and presence of God in a powerful manner. The Scriptures declare that the entire earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God (Hab. 2:14).

The Kingdom's Swift Advance

The kingdom of God is advancing swiftly across the nations and countless multitudes are turning to Christ. The prophetic trumpets must make a clear call in these extremely crucial days in order to prepare a strong confident leadership (1 Cor. 14:8).

This is the time to walk with true goals, aims and divine purposes, not drift about in an endless circle (Eph. 5:14-18).

No one desires another 40-year trip around the mountain of misguided human efforts! The good news is that we do not need to wander any longer in the wilderness. It is time to access the kingdom of God. Now is the time to move forward, establishing the King in His kingdom by operating in the power and authority of God!

For the Destined Harvest

These are days of destiny, filled with wonder and excitement, as the works of God are being displayed (Ps. 90:16-17). The awe of God is returning to the people of God, filling the hearts of God's people with great expectation (Is. 64:1). Expect to behold great and mighty unknown exploits being accomplished for the advancing of the kingdom of God (Jer. 33:3). Your prayers and Divine decrees will change everything (Job 22:28)!

God Is Harvesting the Harvesters

Indeed, we stand on the verge of the greatest harvest the world has ever seen. Never forget:  the Lord will have His harvest. The Spirit of God is now at work to "harvest the harvesters." Expect to see God's anointed harvesters arise and mobilize in a manner not seen before. More than a billion people will soon be swiftly brought into the Kingdom of God.

The Spirit of God is anointing and empowering dedicated, consecrated believers with unstoppable authority (Luke 10:19). These are ordinary people who do extraordinary exploits for the glory of God. They have embraced the promise from Christ concerning who they are and what they can accomplish by His Spirit (John 14:12). Christ promised that by Him and through Him it is possible that we can accomplish even greater works that He did.

Confidence Through Abiding

The Lord has issued an ultimate command. It is unmistakably clear: as followers of Christ, we are to be bold, brave and extremely courageous. Scripture declares in Joshua 1:9: "Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

The last phrase contains an overwhelming promise—the abiding presence of God. Keep this promise in the midst of your heart: "...for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!" This promise is repeated throughout Scripture and is the foundation of the promise in 1 John 4:4: "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

This revelation is essential: we must embrace the promise of our identity in Christ and believe that we can accomplish exploits by His Spirit. The Kingdom of God will not be established by mere words, nor by our abilities, but by the Spirit of God. This confidence can only come from factual, experiential union with Christ. By abiding in His manifested presence, we become bold and are able to stand firm, knowing who we are in Christ and who Christ is within us (Prov. 28:1 and Col. 2:9-10). God's Word declares that the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ and that we are complete in Him.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

Truly, as promised in Esther 4:14, we are in the kingdom for such a time as this. Rejoice, for you can know for certain that the Kingdom is in you for such a day as this! Be confident: you are born for this day. Do not delay to move forward by faith, walking in victory and taking your place as an overcomer, embracing fully the destiny God has planned for you (Eph. 5:14-16).

Our God is truly an awesome God! Prepare to behold Him in a manner not seen in our lifetime. God is at this time responding to the invitation of Isaiah 64:1: "Rend the heavens and come down." 

These are some of the most exciting days in human history.

Arise to the occasion and take your place as a victorious overcomer, standing strong and bold, declaring that the kingdom of God will swiftly come to earth!

As we embark upon this New Year 2017, expect to experience the presence and power of God in an unprecedented manner. Never forget God "is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20-21). {eoa}

For almost five decades, Bobby Conner has been ministering around the world as a seasoned prophet of God. Bobby is uniquely anointed with a profound, passionate love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a fervent desire to discern and herald God's voice to prepare the Lamb's Bride to establish the kingdom of God. Specifically, Bobby is called to sound the alarm and awaken the warriors to arise and contend for the true faith. Bobby served as a Southern Baptist pastor for 27 years with his beloved wife Carolyn. Together they then founded Eagles View Ministries, a global ministry mandated to establish the kingdom of God through the demonstration of God's power (1 Cor. 2:1-5) and also called to empower and equip the body of Christ to take dominion.

For the original article, visit bobbyconner.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Bobby Conner ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 13 Jan 2017 08:00:00 -0500
Contending for a Move of God in a Culture Overwhelmed by Darkness http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28544-contending-for-a-move-of-god-in-a-culture-overwhelmed-by-darkness http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28544-contending-for-a-move-of-god-in-a-culture-overwhelmed-by-darkness

Look around your neighborhood. On the surface, nothing seems to have changed much in the past several years. The streets look the same so do the houses. Sure, there's more congestion, but that's what you would expect with growth.


Yet appearances can be deceptive. Remember when you used to take a nice evening walk? In some locales, those days are gone. They ended when the crime you had been reading about for years began to invade your neighborhood. Now, the news of random break-ins in our nation has given way to new, growing threats-Ebola, global economic instability, corruption, injustice, and the next terrorist attack.
In such a climate, you might think that churches would be growing, and some are. Yet many longstanding denominations are losing members. Giving is down. Operational budgets and mission programs are hurting. The same people who smile and shake the pastor's hand at the door see society unraveling before their eyes with no turnaround in sight. All the things that could ignite hope for positive change—the Bible, prayer, Sunday worship—are labeled irrelevant and lifeless by outsiders. They not only question Christianity but hold the church and often pastors in contempt. On the other end of the national landscape, Christians look at a morally adrift, self-centered culture and ask, "How far can all this go?"

You might be surprised to learn that Americans were asking just such a question in 1794. If you think our current moral decay, increasing violence and crumbling ethics are signs of an inevitable, darker, downward spiral, think again. Consider the uneasy twilight of the late eighteenth century. Illegitimate births were rampant. Alcohol, the drug of the day, was destroying families and wrecking futures. Thomas Paine was proclaiming that Christianity was dead—and certainly, the body of faith appeared to be in a coma.
Yet even as church rolls were shrinking, and greed, sensuality and family breakdown were becoming more widespread, America was about to experience a great spiritual revival.

It would start small, in a handful of broken-down corners of society, with a few people praying. In one year, it would spread like a wildfire through churches, seminaries and families, changing the spiritual landscape of entire cities and towns. People would spend days and nights in prayer and worship. Christians, who believed God had given up on their nation, saw thousands of people admit they were dead inside and find new life through forgiveness, wrapped in a power they had never seen. This phenomenon would unfold for the next 45 years. Although it was the first time America had experienced revival, it would not be the last.
How do we make sense of the growing evidence that our country and our continent could be ripe for a major spiritual awakening? The late evangelist Bob Cryder suggested, "If revival happens in the sanctuary (and we're beginning to see isolated cases), then we're standing in the foyer." Today, an increasing number of Christians, including me, believe we're that close.

Four times in history, God's Spirit of revival has touched our nation and transformed its people:
  • The Great Awakening (1730-1743)
  • The Second Great Awakening (1800-1830)
  • The Third Great Awakening (1857-1859)
  • The Fourth Great Awakening (1960-1970)
The elements that led to each movement bear a strange resemblance to events that have taken place in the dawn of a new millennium.

Now, as then, Christian leaders are being brought to their knees through humble, public confession. Around the United States, in a growing number of pockets, prayer is exploding. People of all economic, racial and denominational hues are turning back to God. Clearly, the spiritual hunger of our day offers conspicuous clues to historic parallels that cannot be denied. It is time we looked at:
  • The unique, yet strangely similar, qualities of America's major revivals that parallel what's currently happening in individual lives, churches, prayer groups and homes.
  • The amazing consistency in the blessings that revival produced in Old Testament times—the same blessings our nation so desperately needs today.
  • The seven indicators that reveal, not so much how close or far away we may be from experiencing revival, but how God is now calling people to Himself.
Let's look more closely at each of these points. Let's resist the temptation to forecast when or if revival will happen in our country. Instead, let's spend a moment with history. If our spiritual eyes are open, we may begin to see how Jesus-Now is impacting our land. And as we begin to look, let's pray a prayer, patterned after some wise men from the tribe of Issachar: "Oh, God, make us men and women who understand the times so that we may know what we ought to do" (see 1 Chron. 12:32).
Excerpt from the new book Jesus Now Awakening—God is Up to Something Big by Tom Phillips. Purchase the book today. Use Keycode: RP-PRAY
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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tom Phillips) Featured Women Life Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:00:00 -0500
Why the Unchurched Will Talk About Faith and Not Church Attendance http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/28529-why-the-unchurched-will-talk-about-faith-and-not-church-attendance http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/28529-why-the-unchurched-will-talk-about-faith-and-not-church-attendance

Americans who don't go to church are happy to talk about religion and often think about the meaning of life.

They're open to taking part in community service events hosted at a church or going to a church concert.

But only about a third say they'd go to a worship service if invited by a friend. Few think about what happens after they die.

Those are among the findings of a new online survey of 2,000 unchurched Americans from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. The survey, conducted in partnership with the Wheaton, Illinois-based Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, found more than half of Americans who don't go to church identify as Christians.

But they are mostly indifferent to organized religion, says Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

"Unchurched Americans aren't hostile to faith," he says. "They just don't think church is for them."

Talking About Faith Isn't Taboo

For this survey, "unchurched" means those who have not attended a worship service in the last six months, outside of a holiday or special occasion like a wedding.

Among their characteristics:

  • Two-thirds (67 percent) are white
  • Just over half (53 percent) are male
  • About half (47 percent) have a high school diploma or less
  • Almost two-thirds (62 percent) went to church regularly as a child
  • About a third (32 percent) consider themselves nonreligious
  • One in five identifies as Protestant; one in four as Catholic

Few are turned off by conversations about faith, says McConnell.

Almost half (47 percent) say they discuss religion freely if the topic comes up. A third (31 percent) say they listen without responding, while 11 percent change the subject.

Only about a third (35 percent) say someone has ever explained the benefits of being a Christian to them.

McConnell says Christians may be reluctant to talk about their faith out of fear of offending their friends. But the survey found that fear is unfounded.

"Unchurched folks are not being overwhelmed by Christians talking about their faith," says McConnell. "If faith is important to you, then your friends will be interested in hearing about it."

A Personal Touch Still Matters

Researchers looked at the kinds of activities unchurched Americans might be interested in as well as methods for inviting them to church.

About two-thirds (62 percent) would attend a church meeting about neighborhood safety. Half would take part in a community service event (51 percent), concert (45 percent), sports or exercise program (46 percent) or neighborhood get-together (45 percent) at a church.

"Concerns for neighborhood safety and desire to express compassion to the under-resourced seem to be the biggest potential draws for the unchurched to get connected to a church," noted Rick Richardson, professor of evangelism and leadership at Wheaton College and research fellow for the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. "Invite unchurched people to those kinds of events, and many say they will attend."

Fewer are interested in attending a worship service (35 percent), recovery group (25 percent) or seminar on a spiritual topic (24 percent) if invited.

When it comes to church invitations, a personal touch works better than a sales pitch.

Half (51 percent) of unchurched Americans say a personal invitation from a friend or family member would be effective in getting them to visit a church. Other methods, such as a church member knocking on the door (21 percent), a TV commercial (23 percent), postcard (23 percent) or Facebook ad (18 percent), are less effective.

Little Interest in Life After Death

Researchers also asked unchurched Americans about the big questions of life.

About seven in 10 agree there's an ultimate plan and purpose for every person. One in five (19 percent) disagrees. One in nine (11 percent) isn't sure.

Almost six in 10 (57 percent) say it's important for them to find their deeper purpose in life. A third disagree (31 percent), while one in nine (12 percent) isn't sure.

Few wonder, at least on a regular basis, if they'll go to heaven when they die. Just under half (43 percent) say they never ponder that question. One in five (20 percent) isn't sure the last time that question came to mind. Three in 10 (29 percent) say they ask that question on at least a monthly basis.

This lack of interest in the afterlife can pose a problem for Christians who want to share their faith, says McConnell. Many have been trained to ask questions like, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?"

That tactic might not be as effective today, says McConnell.

"If the only benefit of being a Christian is that you get to go to heaven, most unchurched people don't care," McConnell says. "It can't be the only way of talking about faith."

Instead, McConnell suggests those who want to share their faith talk about how their relationship with Jesus affects them in day-to-day life and discuss the benefits of being part of a church.

And be proactive, he says.

"Don't wait for unchurched people to bring up the topic of faith," he said. "It's probably not going to happen." {eoa}

Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Bob Smietana/For LifeWay) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:00:00 -0500
This Is Where Your Real Strength Comes From http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28519-this-is-where-your-real-strength-comes-from http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28519-this-is-where-your-real-strength-comes-from

Remember when Popeye the Sailor Man would pop open a can of spinach, guzzle down the green goop and bam!, his biceps would bulge? Then, he wielded extra power, speed, wit and energy to foil Bluto's chaotic plans to steal the spindly love interest Olive Oyl.

Ever feel like you could use a super-sized helping of strength? Not strength from curling barbells, but real strength: strength of character, perseverance and wisdom; strength that comes from confidence, peace and faith.

Spinach worked great for Popeye, but in real life, real strength comes from joy.

 "... the joy of the Lord is your strength"(Neh. 8:10d).

 Notice it doesn't say "happiness." Being happy is a feeling, an expression that requires joy. Joy comes from an inner sense of well-being. Maybe instead of writing "Happy," Pharrell Williams should have come up with a song about joy.

So where's your source of real strength? How do you develop joy?

The key is to take your eyes off yourself, your circumstances, your ups and downs. Regardless of the situation, turn your eyes to Jesus and thank Him. Worship Him. Acknowledge God for who He is—the creator of everything, author of life, savior of our soul, Lord of life. He is worthy to be praised.

I know this next part may be hard for many men, but open your mouth and sing.

 "Sing aloud unto God our strength"(Ps. 81:1a).

God returns adoration by filling you with joy. And joy gives you strength. At a glance, it doesn't seem to add up, but the biblical math for real strength looks like this:

Rejoice in the Lord + Sing = Joy = Strength

 It may be paradigm-shifting, but to be able to rejoice in the Lord, you can't be self-absorbed. Being self-absorbed is a form of worship and prohibits you from serving and loving others. Even in sadness, facing dire straits, the Bible says to:

 "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4).

 Joy also comes from healthy relationships. That's why God's motto is to love God and love people. If you invest in God, you get joy back. Love what God loves; you will know joy.

Just like Bluto trying to ruin Popeye's day, our archenemy is trying to rob us of our joy. He knows if you are unhappy, your real strength diminishes. Are you robbed of strength? That means your joy has been stolen.

 The message of the world is drive, determination, desire—that's strength. The cultural math to get joy looks like:

Work + diligence = joy

Most guys are grinding away, thinking they are reaching true joy. But it's a manipulation. A trick. A ploy. The enemy is after your joy. He goes for your joy so you feel bad, which makes you want to look for anything to appease your pain. Remember the enemy's No. 1 mission is to steal, kill and destroy you.

"The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Jesus came so you could live and love abundantly. He loves you. You were created so he could love you. If you let the paint dry on that thought alone, you will experience joy.

Maybe Popeye should have tattooed "joy" on his bicep. Because with joy, you can do anything.

"I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). {eoa}

Kenny Luck is an ECPA Platinum award-winning author, who has authored and co-authored 20 books for men. Kenny is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the former men's pastor at Saddleback Church in California and current leadership pastor at Crossline Community Church, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men's ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men's ministry. Watch Kenny's teachings at EveryManMinistries.com and start your men's group today.

For the original article, visit everymanminstries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kenny Luck ) Featured Men Life Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:00:00 -0500
4 Signs You're Making a Bad Decision http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28542-4-signs-you-re-making-a-bad-decision http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28542-4-signs-you-re-making-a-bad-decision

"It's not my fault!" ranks in my top 10 most frequently used phrases and may well be No. 1.

Don't get me wrong—I'm not the kind of person who always has to be right.

But heaven protect anyone who implies that I might be wrong.

My favorite family game?

"Pin the Blame on Someone Else."

Asking myself the hard questions

But over the last few years, I've started asking a hard question when I start feeling overwhelmed by the latest curve ball life's thrown at me.

Where might I have gone wrong?

This question stems not from an unhealthy urge to shame myself but an honest desire to pray-cess (process with prayer) the present problem so I can avoid feeling overwhelmed in the future.

Understanding my faulty decision-making

More often than not, I discover my current overwhelm is the result of faulty decision-making that falls into one of these five categories.

1. I decided to do something off-limits.

I did what I knew I shouldn't do ... or didn't do what I knew to do.

Like the time I drove for four straight hours without a rest or bathroom break, even though I know I need both every hour or two, and ended up totaling my husband's car.

Is there forgiveness available in such situations? Of course.

Are there still consequences, often long-term ones? Absolutely.

Learning to live with the long-term consequences of a short-term poor choice without letting those consequences overwhelm me? #Adulting. And humility. And surrender.

2. I decided to get involved where I didn't belong.

I've learned the hard way that there's a word for "helping" without an invitation: meddling.

No matter how well-qualified I may be, no matter how badly other people may be messing things up, stepping in where God hasn't called me has never once turned out well.

I'm slowly learning my life is far less overwhelming when I stay out of things that are NOMB: None of My Business.

I'm also learning to ask myself the uncomfortable but vital question: What am I avoiding in my own life that makes me want to take over someone else's?

3. I decided too fast.

My driver, get-it-done-yesterday personality gets me into trouble. Too often, I make knee-jerk choices because I'm an achievement junkie—doing something, anything, feels better than waiting.

Only in hindsight do I realize I left key people out of the decision process. Often, I've failed to pray, seek wise counsel and listen for the Holy Spirit to lead before taking action.

My Personal Manifesto is helping me to make wiser, more considered choices with far less overwhelming consequences. My Personal Manifesto is a simple declaration of who I am and who I aspire to be with God's grace and power. As I re-read it, I ask myself, What decision will keep my integrity in tact? What choice will my Future Self thank me for?

4. I waited too long to decide.

Sometimes, I do the exact opposite: I wait far too long to make a necessary decision.

As a recovering perfectionist and a Highly Sensitive Person, I can become so terrified of making a wrong choice that I make none. Surely no choice is better than a bad choice, right?

Wrong. No choice is actually a choice.

I'm learning to make the best possible intentional choice rather than allowing no choice to win by default.

5. Someone else's decisions are affecting me.

Sometimes, things go wrong even when I don't. I hold up my end of the bargain, but someone else drops the ball. And then, they won't admit that their poor choice is now hurting me. To add insult to injury, they may even blame the consequences of their bad decision on me.

I may not have made the initial decision, but now I have a vital decision to make: How will I respond?

Will I indulge in an off-limits reaction, such as anger or malice? (See No. 1.)

Will I react by taking over to make me feel better? (See No. 2.)

Will I react in the moment, rather than giving myself time to pray-cess the situation? (See No. 3.)

Will I withhold my reaction for so long that bitterness and resentment fester? (See No. 4.)

How to Make Wiser, More Intentional Choices

As easy as it is to blame others for the overwhelm in our lives, some of our overwhelm comes from our own faulty decision-making.

More than we realize—or want to admit.

Instead of beating ourselves up for our poor choices, we can "be still" and rest in God's reassurance: "I am God" (Ps. 46:10b).

As we pray-cess our past decisions, we'll learn to make wiser, more intentional choices, resulting in less stress and increasing the peace in our lives. {eoa}

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.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Tricia Goyer) Featured Women Life Thu, 12 Jan 2017 13:00:00 -0500
How You Can Jump-Start Your Weight Loss and Kick-Start Your Health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28512-how-you-can-jump-start-your-weight-loss-and-kick-start-your-health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28512-how-you-can-jump-start-your-weight-loss-and-kick-start-your-health

You have an assignment to fulfill. Many prophets are saying this is the year of fulfillment of dreams and goals for our lives. It's time to take action and become lean, healthy and energized so you can fulfill the plans God has for you. "For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11).

Do you know what His plans are for your life for this year? If not, press in until you hear them. Then take an assessment. What kind of health, energy and body do you need to make those plans a reality? We do know God wants you to live an abundant, joy-filled life; therefore, He doesn't want you to struggle with sickness, fatigue or excess weight.

One study showed that people gain weight between October and December and specifically one to three pounds between Christmas and New Year's. About half the weight was lost quickly, but the other half hung around for a while. Another study showed that though the weight gain was smaller for those in that study, people never lost the holiday weight they gained. You need a plan so that doesn't happen to you.

But weight gain is not the only concern. Sugar, fat and alcohol damage the body in more ways than one. Studies show that alcohol and sugar contribute to fatty liver disease. Other studies show that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. No wonder we find it hard to stop eating sweets once we start. And according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, eating too much animal fat may damage your hypothalamus, the area of your brain that regulates energy balance.

If you had too many holiday treats, fatty foods and cheese balls, fear not. It's a new year. You can hit the reset button.

Are you ready for a new beginning? One way to jump-start your weight loss and your health is to try a short juice fast. Fresh juice is particularly helpful because it's broken down like a predigested food. It's rewarding because it provides an abundance of nutrients that bind up toxins, while also supporting the digestive system, providing it an opportunity to heal.

Juice nutrients cleanse your pathways of elimination and feed your cells an abundance of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and biophotons.

Juice is the cavalry. The antioxidants march into your body like good soldiers to clean up sludge and knockout the bad guys like free radicals, which damage your cells. Then you can really sail through the winter cold and flu season without a bout of anything because you've supported your first defense line—your immune system.

The juice fast is a fantastic post-holiday weight loss choice. With this fast, you give up solid foods and enjoy delicious, nutrient-rich elixirs. They'll help you flush your system and rejuvenate your body. On a juice fast, cravings will diminish. You may find some aches and pains going away too. You can even get rid of acid reflux. And you can get your energy back because you'll be absorbing nutrients more efficiently.

Many people gain belly fat during the holiday season. But some of that may not actually be fat, but rather bloating and some toxic sludge in the colon. You can cleanse your colon of the bloating and waste or plaque that causes it to protrude with a cleansing fast.

You can start your jump-start program with a one- to three-day juice fast. On your solid food days, avoid sugar, refined carbs, sodas, junk food, fast food, and snack foods.

Drink one or two glasses of juice those days. If you want to lose more weight, continue a one- to two-day juice fast each week until you reach your weight goal. Then you can juice-fast a few meals a week as a maintenance plan. If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, be aware of consuming fruits. Although you can add a small amount of low-sugar fruit like green apple or berries for flavor, you should stay away from most fruit when you juice and stick to vegetables.

Juice It Up!

Here are three great recipes designed to taste great while cleansing your body and helping you burn fat.

Weight Loss Buddy Cocktail

Serves 1

Jerusalem artichoke juice combined with carrot and beet is a traditional remedy for satisfying cravings for sweets and junk food. The key is to sip it slowly when you get a craving for high-fat or high-carb foods.

1 Jerusalem artichoke, scrubbed well

3-4 carrots, scrubbed well, tops removed, ends trimmed

1 green apple (lower in sugar than red or yellow)

½ cucumber

1-inch chunk ginger root

Cut produce to fit your juicer's feed tube. Juice ingredients and stir. Pour into a glass and drink as soon as possible.

Fat Flush Ambrosia

Serves 1

According to research, grapefruit contains fat-burning phytochemical that works to balance insulin levels. That means you'll burn more fat rather than store it. Grapefruit has also been shown to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL).

1 grapefruit, peeled*

1 small handful mint

6 leaves Romaine lettuce

Juice all ingredients and give it a stir!

*Note, always peel grapefruit (and oranges) as it contains volatile oils that can upset your stomach.

Metabolism Booster Juice

Serves 1

Celery and hot peppers are considered thermogenic foods, which means they boost your metabolism.

4 ribs celery, with leaves too

1 green apple

1 cucumber

Dash of cayenne pepper or dash of hot sauce.

Juice all ingredients, and give it a stir!

Ready, Set, Go!

Get a juicer that's easy to use or find a good juice bar. You can use a blender if you don't have a juicer. You may also use freeze-dried juice powder or low sodium V-8 in a pinch.

  • Drink 3-6 glasses of juice a day on juice fast days.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water to flush your system.
  • Check out the Dirty Dozen at ewg.org. You'll want to avoid the most heavily pesticide sprayed produce and get organic when it comes to these twelve.

Pick the best day to start and get all your produce assembled in advance unless you're going to your local juice bar.

Many people find it easiest to start on a weekend day.

Get some good recipes; don't wing it. If you don't like the taste of what you create, you may ditch the whole thing. {eoa}

Note: The recipes and portions of this article are excerpts from my new book, The Juice Lady's Guide to Fasting. (Siloam)

Cherie Calbom, MSN, holds a Master of Science degree in whole foods nutrition from Bastyr University. Known as "The Juice Lady" for her work with juicing and health, she is the author of 32 books including her latest The Juice Lady's Guide to Fasting and Sugar Knockout. She and her husband offer juice cleanse retreats throughout the year, 30-Day Detox online and Garden's Best Juice Powder. She has lectured worldwide on juicing, detoxing and fasting including consulting for the Royal Family of the UAE. Winner of the TTAC Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with juicing and detoxification, her blogs and books on juicing, cleansing and health have helped thousands of people live healthier lives. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for her free newsletter at juiceladycherie.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Cherie Calbom ) Featured Health Life Thu, 12 Jan 2017 15:00:00 -0500
What You're Ultimately Chasing if You're Not Chasing Jesus http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28508-what-you-re-ultimately-chasing-if-you-re-not-chasing-jesus http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28508-what-you-re-ultimately-chasing-if-you-re-not-chasing-jesus

There are many things in this world that constantly pull and beg for our attention, our heart, our worship and our souls. The battle for our heart that takes place each and every day is an active one and one that begs to be acknowledged if one seeks any chance of keeping themselves one a straight and narrow path.

Why? Because if we don't learn to put up our guard as Christians, the enemy will seek every opportunity it can to steal, kill and destroy our hearts (John 10:10).

If the opposite of good is bad, the opposite of life is death, and the opposite of light is darkness, then anything opposing the grace and truth of Jesus is not only dead and bad but dark as well. Darkness is an enemy that, although it has already been defeated, yearns to poke and tempt followers of Jesus each and every day. It's an opponent we must be willing to fight every day, choosing to pick up our crosses and die to ourselves so the impeccable strength and hope of Christ may rise up and dwell within us (Luke 9:23).

When we pursue the hope of Jesus, we are pursuing life to the fullest extent—the only true experience of life that really exists. But when we pursue anything contrary to that of God's Word, we set ourselves up for failure, a failure where we would ultimately pursue death, sometimes without even knowing it.

Don't be tricked into thinking the many temptations of this world can offer anything remotely close to the fulfillment and peace of Jesus. Because they can't, and they never will be able to live up God's intrinsic and bewildering design for humanity.

The battle for your heart includes:

  • Movies
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Advertisements
  • Fame
  • Materialism
  • Money
  • Television commercials
  • Billboards
  • Magazines
  • Social media

All of these things, although not always bad, can be used to tempt and persuade you to chase after something other than a life in Christ. Sometimes the temptation is obvious and in your face, but other times it may be packaged and disguised as something that can be justified because of emotion and feeling. Regardless of what or who is tempting you, the reality and importance of needing to guard our hearts remain the same. We live in a world where Jesus will never be accepted because He was never meant to be (John 14:7).

If we're not chasing Jesus, we're ultimately chasing death. Let us choose to pick up our crosses daily, pursue after the hope of Jesus and dedicate our lives to making much of Him and nothing of ourselves. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:00:00 -0500
Why Your Breakthrough May Be Delayed http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28540-why-your-breakthrough-may-be-delayed http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28540-why-your-breakthrough-may-be-delayed

I imagine everyone wants things to happen instantaneously, but sometimes believers must be comfortable with the progressive nature of God's kingdom. Occasionally the works of Jesus are going to emerge over a period of time.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all of the marvelous breakthroughs in the Bible transpired in a moment's notice. Consider the compelling account of a blind man receiving his sight in Mark 8:

He came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Him and entreated Him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. When He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" He looked up and said, "I see men as trees, walking." Then again He put His hands on his eyes and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly (Mark 8:22-25).

Many single out this passage from Mark as the lone example of progressive healing in the Bible. However, additional verses suggest a similar type of outworking. Consider the following example from the Gospel of John.

"As Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth ... When He had said this, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva. He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means "Sent"). So he went away and washed, and returned seeing (John 9:1, 6-7).


It was only after leaving, washing and then coming home that this blind man regained his sight. Understand, restoration doesn't always happen all at once.

Elsewhere, the Gospel of Luke also recounts a comparable reality.

As He entered a village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood at a distance. They lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed (Luke 17:12-14).

Here, we notice the lepers experience deliverance only after they made their way to the priest. The desperately needed changes took place, "as they went."

I understand that these brief observations don't necessarily fit our popular expectations. Christians typically imagine kingdom realities as instantaneous. Nevertheless, that's not always how God operates.

Over the years, I've come to realize that some of Jesus' greatest works unfold over time. "First the blade, then the head, then the full seed in the head" (Mark 4:28b). {eoa}

J.D. King, director of the World Revival Network and co-pastor at World Revival Church, is writing Regeneration: Healing in the History of Christianity. King is a sought-after speaker, writer and author. 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (J.D. King) Featured Women Life Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:00:00 -0500
What You Need to Know About Angelic Watchers http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/28504-what-you-need-to-know-about-angelic-watchers http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/28504-what-you-need-to-know-about-angelic-watchers

Angels have many functions, from protecting to providing, but angelic watchers are roaming the earth on assignment—and have been through the ages.

Angels don't often carry names in the Bible, but they are called out by function, purpose or operation. The book of Revelation speaks of an angel who has power of fire (Rev. 14:18), as well as an angel of the waters (Rev. 16:5), an angel who binds Satan (Rev. 20:1-2) and an angel of the abyss (Rev. 9:11).

Where does the concept of watcher angels come in? We see watcher angels many times in the Bible. They are often seen observing. Let's look at a few examples in Scripture:

"I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him will the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8-9).

"Likewise, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).

"For I think that God has exhibited us, the apostles, last, as if we were sentenced to death. For we have been made a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men" (1 Cor. 4:9).

"Without question, great is the mystery of godliness: God was revealed in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, taken up into glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).

"I command you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality" (1 Tim. 5:21).

"It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, concerning the things which are now reported to you by those who have preached the gospel to you through the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven—things into which the angels desire to look" (1 Pet. 1:12).

Those are just a few examples of watcher angels worth noting in the Bible. But why are they watching? They waiting for an assignment. They are ready to hearken to the voice of God's word (see Psalm 103). They are available to reap the harvest, to deliver people from danger, to communicate a message and more.

Angels are holy and seek to do God's will. You can grieve angels with your words and deeds just as you can grieve the Holy Spirit. Wherever you go and whatever you do, remember angels are watching—they want to help you do God's will in the season of abundant harvest.

The Lord is releasing angels of abundant harvest. Find out how to cooperate with them at angelsprophecy.com. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire ) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:00:00 -0500
Lost and in Danger, This Woman Saw Her Guardian Angel http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28511-lost-and-in-danger-this-woman-saw-her-guardian-angel http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/28511-lost-and-in-danger-this-woman-saw-her-guardian-angel

On this episode of Sid Roth's It's Supernatural!, Ana Werner explains how she was lost and in a very dangerous area in Brazil. Then she saw her guardian angel.

Watch the video to find out what happens next.

Werner, an associate director of the Heartland Healing Rooms in Lee's Summit, Missouri, has taught many people how to see into the invisible world and how to see angels.

What about you? Are you ready to see angels? {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Charisma Staff ) Featured Supernatural Spirit Thu, 12 Jan 2017 09:00:00 -0500
Shaking the Gates of Hell With a Basin of Water and a Towel http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28505-shaking-the-gates-of-hell-with-a-basin-of-water-and-a-towel http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28505-shaking-the-gates-of-hell-with-a-basin-of-water-and-a-towel

In the Spirit, I saw God's foot step down into cities and regions of the earth. I knew His foot represented great authority coming to earth.

When I saw His foot, I knew He had come to take back territory the enemy had stolen from His kingdom. As I began rejoicing at why His foot stepped down upon the Earth, He interrupted my praise service with a strong command: "Wash My feet!"

I was dumbfounded. I said, "Lord, how could I ever wash your feet?"

Pastors and Leaders Washing One Another's Feet

The Lord spoke, "When you see pastors and leaders coming together and washing one another's feet, you will see My foot come down with great power, releasing whole regions and territories back into My kingdom!"

I then saw a vision of pastors and leaders humbly kneeling before each other with basins of water and towels. As they began washing one another's feet, titles, positions and even names of churches started drowning in that small basin of water. Pride, jealousy and envy were being drowned in just 12 inches of water. Weary, blistered feet that had lost their way in the dusty, soiled road of life were being healed by water and two hands of a pastor down the street. Help was never far away.

Even Our Eyes Were Being Washed With Tears

Tears began filling these basins to overflowing, tears of repentance from judging and misunderstanding one another. Even our eyes were being washed with tears to see that we were not each other's enemy but were on the same team.

It was such a beautiful, pitiful sight. Pastors of huge churches and leaders of small churches, humbled and bowing before one another, confessing our total inabilities to advance God's kingdom. Revelation began breaking forth upon us of how we needed each other. Many were held in each other's grip, breaking together. Holy kisses were given out upon the faces and the feet. And a presence came as though we had kissed the face of God.

I Saw Divine Authority Flow

At that moment, I saw divine authority flow from the feet of one who was also in our midst. A divine authority and power was being unleashed upon regions and territories. We were shaking the very gates of hell with a basin of water and a towel. It seemed the smaller we became in one another's sight, the bigger God became in the sight of the enemy. God began exalting Himself in the earth and among the heathen.

I heard the Lord speak to the angels that were present during foot washing. "Take the tears from those basins and put them in bottles. They will bring forth a great move of My Spirit to bring in the harvest." {eoa]

Bill Yount has been a member of Bridge of Life in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the past 36 years where he is now an elder and a home missionary. He is currently an adviser at large for Aglow International. Bill faithfully served in prison ministry at Mount Hope for 23 years and now travels full-time, both in the U.S. and internationally, ministering in churches and Aglow circles. "Humility and humor" characterize his ministry as he brings forth a fresh word that is "in season," proclaiming the word of the Lord. The shofar (or ram's horn) is often used in his meetings, breaking the powers of darkness over regions, churches and households. The shofar represents God's breath blowing into the nostrils of His people, reviving them and awakening the lost. Many of God's messages, which Bill ministers prophetically, come out of his everyday life with his family and friends. Please visit Bill's website at billyount.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Bill Yount ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Thu, 12 Jan 2017 08:00:00 -0500
Rabbi Cahn's 'The Book of Mysteries' Helps You Understand the Deeper Things of God http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/28533-rabbi-cahn-s-the-book-of-mysteries-helps-you-understand-the-deeper-things-of-god http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/28533-rabbi-cahn-s-the-book-of-mysteries-helps-you-understand-the-deeper-things-of-god

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn is an amazing writer who has developed a huge following because of his books The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah. I have the privilege of publishing both, and they have been a great blessing to the body of Christ.

His third book, The Book of Mysteries, came out a couple of months ago and already is a New York Times best-seller. In many ways, I believe this is his best effort yet.  

It is written as 365 one-page chapters, making it ideal for devotions. But there is also a story. A man seeking God takes a year to live in the desert and learn from a wise teacher who reveals to him a mystery every day.

I am reading the book, and each mystery is more astounding than the one before. Even though I have been a Christian most of my life and have read many books and heard many sermons, never have I heard any of these mysteries of the Bible that Jonathan Cahn shares. 

He visited our offices recently and sat down with me in the podcast studio, where we had a delightful interview. He shared how each of us can learn more from the Bible as we seek God. You can listen by clicking below.

Rabbi Cahn told me that some mysteries are actually "streams of mysteries" from some of the rabbis over the centuries. Other mysteries have an end-times prophecy angle. Others are simply commonsense wisdom. Rabbi Cahn also told me people have actually come to the Lord after reading the book.   

The book begins by asking how something larger can be contained in something smaller. Or how can something that is little become big? The answer is in a container that is open in a stream and is actually full of something bigger than itself. Jim Bakker, who often has Rabbi Cahn on his program, was blown away by that revelation and said that, in some ways, it changed his life even though he's been in the ministry 50 years.   

Another mystery that I knew but never considered is the name of God. How do we know the name of God? The Bible says His name is "I AM." We say God's name many times a day. If I say, "I am Steve Strang" or "I am happy" or "I am frustrated, " then I am saying the name of God even before my own name. You do the same. 

Another mystery was the 9th day of Av on the Jewish calendar, which is a day many terrible things happened to the Jewish people over the years. The Jews were taken to captive to Babylon on the 9th of Av. The temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. on the 9th of Av, and even the Jews were thrown out of Spain in 1492 on the 9th of Av.

On the Jewish calendar, the 10th of Av is the day of redemption. It was on the 10th of Av in 1492 that Columbus set sail from Spain in the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria. On the day after the Jews were thrown out of Spain, Columbus set sail to discover America, which became the greatest haven for Jews in history.   

There are so many other mysteries that I could share with you from The Book of Mysteries. I encourage you to read the book for yourself. You can get a copy by clicking here. It is also available wherever books are sold.  

I also encourage you to listen to my podcast, where you can hear Rabbi Cahn tell some of these same stories in his own words and with more depth.

Let me know if you have been blessed by The Book of Mysteries. If you have not read it, please do so, and share this newsletter with others so they can also be blessed by the insights of this great man, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.{eoa}

 
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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:20:00 -0500
Heart-Softening Prayers You Can Use to Obey Matthew 5:44 http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28531-heart-softening-prayers-you-can-use-to-obey-matthew-5-44 http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28531-heart-softening-prayers-you-can-use-to-obey-matthew-5-44

That pesky commandment to "love your enemies" (Matt. 5:44) has a tendency to play in the back of my mind during conflict. There are very few people I cannot get along with. My default is enjoying people, even if we don't have much in common. Still, occasionally I must interact with someone who rubs me the wrong way.

I recently watched "Eternal Salvation," a film on PureFlix.com. In the film, one character, Paul, is consistently the odd man out and the object of ridicule. This sort of environment would wear on anyone, but Paul always has a kind word and a smile. I don't want to give away the story, but let's just say that as it progresses, the reason behind Paul's attitude becomes clear.

In one scene, Paul mentors the protagonist, Jonathan, and together they pray for a coworker who has stabbed them both in the back repeatedly.

I found this simple part of Paul's character to be incredibly convicting. I can't say my first reaction to someone I dislike is to pray for them. I am brought back to Matthew 5:44, though, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." 

As the credits rolled, I thought about how I could better put this commandment into action. I reflected on situations where I should have prayed for my "enemies," and God laid on my heart some key principles to put in place in the future.

Admit Your Dislike

This one might seem counterintuitive, but for me it was important. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to correcting it. Genuine communication with God is an important part of living in relationship with Him. Admit you've been hurt and bring that hurt to the foot of the cross.

Pray for Wisdom

One of my favorite verses is James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him." This is a promise from God, that if we ask for wisdom, we will get it. Wisdom, I think, is a key part of handling any situation well.

Read Also: "Making Time For Prayer: Why Putting God First is Best"

Pray for a Softened Heart

Ask God to soften your heart toward the person you dislike. Looking for the best in someone can be hard when there is conflict or hurt. Choosing to believe someone has good intentions may be your ticket. Practice empathy, and try to view things from the other person's perspective. Doing this intentionally will help you soften your heart and approach this person with grace.

Read Also: "Looking for Peace? Change Your Perspective"

Listen and Look for the Answer

When you pray, expect God to show up—in your life and the other person's. Be attentive to what He teaches you. You might be surprised how a negative situation can be used for good. {eoa}

Reprinted with permission from Pure Flix Insider

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Sarah Hartland) Featured Women Life Wed, 11 Jan 2017 18:00:00 -0500
8 Books That Could Help Shape Your Spiritual Life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/28503-8-books-that-could-help-shape-your-spiritual-life http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/28503-8-books-that-could-help-shape-your-spiritual-life

Looking for some new reading material? Here are 10 books that have helped shape my spiritual life.

1. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Jim Cymbala. The times are urgent. God is on the move. Now is the moment to ask God to ignite his fire in your soul. Cymbala believes Jesus wants to renew his people―to call us back from spiritual dead ends, apathy and lukewarm religion. Cymbala knows the difference firsthand. Thirty-five years ago, his own church, the Brooklyn Tabernacle, was a struggling congregation of 20. Then they began to pray ... God began to move ... street-hardened lives by the hundreds were changed by the love of Christ ... and today, they are more than 10,000 strong. The story of what happened to this broken-down church in one of America's toughest neighborhoods points the way to new spiritual vitality in the church and in your own life. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire shows what the Holy Spirit can do when believers get serious about prayer and the gospel. As this compelling book reveals, God moves in life-changing ways when we set aside our own agendas, take Him at His word and listen for His voice.

2. A Tale of Three Kings, Gene Edwards: This best-selling tale is based on the biblical figures of David, Saul and Absalom. For the many Christians who have experienced pain, loss and heartache at the hands of other believers, this compelling story offers comfort, healing and hope. Christian leaders and directors of religious movements throughout the world have recommended this simple, powerful and beautiful story to their members and staff. You will want to join the thousands who have been profoundly touched by this incomparable story.

3. Crazy Love, Francis Chan: Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we're missing it? It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs and try not to cuss. Whether you've verbalized it yet or not, we all know something's wrong.

Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts—it's falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

4. Running with Horses, Eugene H. Peterson: In Jeremiah 12:5 God says to the prophet, "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?"

We all long to live life at its best―to fuse freedom and spontaneity with purpose and meaning. Why then do we often find our lives so humdrum, so un-adventuresome, so routine? Or else so frantic, so full of activity, but still devoid of fulfillment? How do we learn to risk, to trust, to pursue wholeness and excellence―to run with the horses in the jungle of life? In a series of profound reflections on the life of Jeremiah the prophet, Peterson explores the heart of what it means to be fully and genuinely human. His writing is filled with humor and self-reflection, insight and wisdom, helping to set a course for others in the quest for life at its best.

5. Accidental Pharisees, Larry Osborne: Zealous faith can have a dangerous, dark side. While recent calls for radical Christians have challenged many to be more passionate about their faith, the downside can be a budding arrogance and self-righteousness that "accidentally" sneaks into our outlook. In Accidental Pharisees, bestselling author Larry Osborne diagnoses nine of the most common traps that can ensnare Christians on the road to a deeper life of faith. Rejecting attempts to turn the call to follow Christ into a new form of legalism, he shows readers how to avoid the temptations of pride, exclusivity, legalism and hypocrisy.

6. The High-Definition Leader, Derwin L. Gray: The High-Definition Leader is an invitation of grace for churches and their leaders to grasp the ancient call of the early New Testament Church that crossed ethnic and socioeconomic barriers to create heavenly colonies of love, reconciliation and unity on earth. In it, you will learn the theology and practices that will help you build a mission-shaped, multi-ethnic church.

7. The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer: The Pursuit of God is an inspirational book that aims to guide those who wish to follow Christ. It includes biblical teachings that emphasize the concept of pursuing God. The concept of seeking God should be evident in the context of obtaining a genuine relationship between the Creator and the creature. Man must consider God as not only a creator, but also the one who sustains life; hence, all creatures must depend solely on Him.

8. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: One of the most important theologians of the twentieth century illuminates the relationship between the teachings of Jesus and our lives. What can the call to discipleship, the adherence to the word of Jesus, mean today to the businessman, the soldier, the laborer or the aristocrat? What did Jesus mean to say to us? What is His will for us today? Drawing on the Sermon on the Mount, Dietrich Bonhoeffer answers these timeless questions by providing a seminal reading of the dichotomy between "cheap grace" and "costly grace." "Cheap grace," Bonhoeffer wrote, "is the grace we bestow on ourselves ... grace without discipleship. ... Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the girl which must be asked for, the door at which a man must know. ... It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."

What books have shaped your spiritual life? Leave a comment below. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jarrid Wilson ) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:00:00 -0500
Preserving Your Marriage and Faith When Your Spouse Is Not a Believer http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28501-preserving-your-marriage-and-faith-when-your-spouse-is-not-a-believer http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/28501-preserving-your-marriage-and-faith-when-your-spouse-is-not-a-believer

You cry. You pray. You wonder how long you can hold on. You wrestle with guilt and loneliness. You look at other Christian couples with envy. If you're a believer, daily life has special challenges when your spouse is not a Christian.

And whatever your spouse's spiritual status, you also still have all the other "stuff" of married life to contend with: communication, intimacy, money, in-laws, children and more. You may struggle with the same false beliefs about marriage and need to be reminded of what is true about marriage.

You may be tempted to believe that other couples where both partners are Christians have it much easier, or that if only your spouse would "become a Christian," everything would be OK. That's not necessarily so. Some of the most heartbreaking stories I hear are from those whose Christian husband or wife abuses, betrays or otherwise causes them extreme pain.

That said, some of your challenges may be unique. How do you deal with your spouse when they don't share your faith? How do you balance what may feel like competing loyalties? Is it worth it to keep on praying?

Paul encouraged anyone whose husband or wife was not a believer to remain married if their spouse was willing (1 Cor. 7:12-14). God may use you to draw your spouse to Himself (1 Cor. 7:16).

But what practically can you do to both survive and "help" God bring your spouse into His kingdom? Here are five keys:

1. Don't play junior Holy Spirit. God has not given you the job of "fixing" or "saving" your spouse. That's His job. No human being has a right to play Holy Spirit in anyone else's life—not even your spouse's. (You do have a job, though. More on that in the coming steps.) God honors your spouse's free will, and you need to do the same.

This means no nagging, no flaunting your spirituality, no belittling, no arrogance, no using Scripture as a weapon. Put yourself in your spouse's shoes. If some behavior would push you away or make it less likely you would want to join your believing spouse as a Christian, be extremely cautious and prayerful before acting in that way. Using truth as a weapon or acting arrogantly righteous will not win your spouse's heart to Jesus.

2. Be a walking advertisement for God's kingdom. If you were looking at or living with you, would you want what you had? If you were an unbeliever, would you want to join yourself in being a Christian? All of us are broken and in need of Jesus' transforming grace. But to the degree you demonstrate that transformation in your daily words, actions and the way you love, you are either an appealing incentive or a stinking obstacle in your spouse's journey to God's kingdom (2 Cor. 2:16).

You will not be perfect. When you mess up, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Let God continue to grow you. Keep investing deeply in your relationship with your spouse. Let God's love keep teaching you how to love better. That may be the factor God uses to save your spouse.

3. Keep feeding yourself. Any marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. This is never truer than when your spouse is not a Christian. And to make it, you must be very intentional about keeping your soul and spirit filled with nourishing food. It may be easier than ever to neglect this when your spouse does not share your faith.

Jesus regularly needed time alone with His Father while He was here on Earth, and you need the same. Find ways to stay connected to other believers even if you can't attend church weekly. Spend time reading or listening to inspirational media. Invest time in God's Word and in prayer. You're responsible for keeping your own soul filled up, regardless of what your spouse does or doesn't do.

4. Watch for God's work in your spouse's life. God loves your husband or wife more than you do. He is working to draw them to Himself. He knows better than you do what their brokenness is, where they are vulnerable, what barriers they would have to overcome and what it would take to win their heart.

You may, as a believer, get an inside view of how God deals with someone who is "hard to get." Or you may not see any evidence that God is doing anything; don't let that fool you. Sometimes God allows life to break a person in order to give His Holy Spirit an open door; your interference could possibly prolong that process. And He may use your love as a demonstration of His own love to them.

If your spouse shows an interest or asks questions, be yourself. Don't pounce. Freely share your own journey, struggles, victories, fears, hopes and faith. And if God uses someone else to speak into your spouse's life, don't be jealous; be grateful.

5. Continue praying. Prayer works. How long does it take? Only God knows. And only He knows the specifics of the outcome. Don't believe the lie that prayer doesn't work just because you don't see your spouse coming to Christ. The stories are too numerous to believe otherwise, and God's Word affirms it.

So keep on praying—whether it's 7 days or 70 years. Pray for yourself—for your own character growth, wisdom, courage and perseverance. Pray for God to continually show you how to love well. Pray for your marriage—for the connection between you. Pray for your spouse—that the Holy Spirit never stop doing His work in their heart, regardless of what it takes.

Will your spouse become a Christian? I don't know. But I do know that God can use you as one of His best tools to minister His love to your spouse and draw them to Himself.

Question: If your spouse is not a believer, what special challenges are you facing? What has given you courage or helped you in this journey? {eoa}

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

For the original article, visit drcarolministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Carol Peters-Tanksley) Featured Men Life Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:00:00 -0500
Understanding the Connection Between Depression, Osteoporosis and Faith http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28502-understanding-the-connection-between-depression-osteoporosis-and-faith http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/28502-understanding-the-connection-between-depression-osteoporosis-and-faith

Osteoporosis is the most widespread degenerative disease in the developed world, afflicting one in three women and one in five men over 50.

Despite the accumulating evidence for a connection between depression and decreased bone density, official authorities, such as the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization, have not yet acknowledged depression as a risk factor for osteoporosis, due to the lack of studies in large samples.

A study of several research efforts, including thousands of people by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers, has shown a clear connection between depression and a loss of bone mass, leading to osteoporosis and fractures. The results, say the researchers, show clearly that depressed individuals have a substantially lower bone density than non-depressed people and that depression is associated with a markedly elevated activity of cells that break down bone (osteoclasts).

What the Bible Says

God inspired writers of the Bible to share his truth and principles about the connection between our emotional and spiritual health and our physical health. Take a look at the following verses related to this topic:

"A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22).

"A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones" (Prov. 14:30).

"Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your body, and strength to your bones" (Prov. 3:7-8).

"For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away" (Ps. 31:10).

What You Can Do

  • Seek to have a cheerful heart.
  • If you're carrying bitterness towards someone, forgive them.
  • Have a reverential fear of God and his principles, and turn away from evil and sin.
  • If you're jealous of someone, ask God to take that nature away from you. Be content with what you have, and trust God to provide for your most basic and deepest needs.
  • If you are a believer in Christ, turn to God in a more dependent and surrendered way and allow His Spirit to have more influence and control of your thought life and attitude. Ask Him to change you, to transform you from the inside out. (Romans 12:2)

As we walk with God in a personal way, following his commandments and principles out of love, we are able to become more and more like his Son, Jesus. This transformation brings us greater inner peace, gentleness and joy. This often goes hand in hand with good physical health.

God makes it pretty clear in the Bible—the guidebook He has given us to live by. Perhaps this is the best explanation concerning the link between depression and bone health.

Questions to Reflect On

What has your experience been regarding depression and bone health? Can you personally see a link between the Scriptures listed above and your health? {eoa}

Dale Fletcher is a speaker and wellness coach who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He writes and conducts workshops on the link between the Christian faith and health. Connect with Dale at faithandhealthconnection.org.

For the original article, visit faithandhealthconnection.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Dale Fletcher/Faith and Health Connection) Featured Health Life Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:00:00 -0500
Your Secret Weapon Against Anemic Prayers http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28530-your-secret-weapon-against-anemic-prayers http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28530-your-secret-weapon-against-anemic-prayers

When they heard this, they lifted their voices in unity to God and prayed, "Lord, You are God, who has made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, and who by the mouth of Your servant David said: 'Why did the nations rage, and the people devise vain things?'" (Acts 4:24-25).

The early disciples not only studied and preached the Word of God, they prayed the Scripture. In fact, while the apostles were wrestling to find a solution in the midst of the growing pains of the church in Jerusalem, they emphatically declared they must continually give themselves to the ministry of the Word and the ministry of prayer as their priority (Acts 6:4). Ministry of the Word in this context obviously centers around proclaiming and teaching the gospel. However, I personally believe the ministry of the Word in the context of the early church included the application of the Scripture in prayer and in worship.

Praying the Bible is one of the most rewarding engagement experiences. It essentially demands we put our faith in God's Word and utter it back to Him, expecting Him to stay true to His Word in His time. We often do not know how to pray or we lack the language of prayer. The Bible provides us with the basic language of communion with God. Praying and agreeing with the truth in the Bible also assures us we are praying in the will of God, and He delights to perform that which was written in His Word.

This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. So if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have whatever we asked of Him. (1 John 5:14–15)

In the context of private prayers, the Word of God provides us framework, guidance, confidence in His will and language for prayer. In a group prayer context, the Word of God provides a solid point of agreement, which fosters unity in prayers and provides the core language of prayers.

Group prayers are often anemic in the church because the people of God have a limited language of prayer and are often embarrassed or shy to publicly utter their limited expressions of prayer. When the language of the Scripture undergirds our prayers, we have more confidence to utter them publicly and elaborate on them.

I pray the Bible in private and in public. In my private prayers, I have more liberty to let my emotions be mingled into my utterance and expression, but in public, unity in prayer with those with whom I pray is of the utmost importance. Therefore, I often use the text of the Bible, especially using as my anchor prayers prayed by saints as recorded in the Bible. From that shared foundation, I will continue praying by applying those biblical requests to our present context.

This is true when we pray with thousands of believers in a congregation or in a small group of two or three people. I love to pray through the Psalms privately and publicly. While writing Bible 360°, I have been praying through Psalm 91 with a group of fervent young adults. We pray through key phrases of each verse and apply them to our personal, family, ministry, missional and national needs. Let's take the first verse as an example:

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1, NKJV).

Several members of my prayer group were heard praying these utterances in Jesus' name, based on this psalm:

"Father, we desire to abide in Your secret place. In that secret place, reveal Your heart to us. We want to hear Your voice, and we want see Your face."

"We delight to dwell under the shadow, the canopy of Your wings. There we find safety, comfort and delight. Come and cover Your people in the midst of our adversaries. Shine in and through Your people to touch those who are wounded and dying. Let Your shadow be cast long over them, and may they be spared from the heat of life."

Praying the Bible keeps our prayers focused and unifies us in the will of God. As Christians from various traditions have different expressions and styles of praying, the biblical prayers provide a context for agreement in prayer irrespective of our liturgical tradition. Agreement is crucial when two or three or more believers pray together. Jesus told us that "'If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:19, MEV). Psalm 133 promises blessings from the Lord when brethren dwell together in unity: 

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brother to dwell together in unity! ... for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forever" (Ps. 133:1, 3). {eoa}

Adapted from Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God, by Daniel Lim. Daniel is the CEO, IHOPKC and Facilitator, Onething Global Leadership Summit. Daniel trained at a Baptist seminary (M.A. in world missions) and served as a Baptist pastor in Southeast Asia. With a passion for the gospel of the kingdom of God and the glory of Jesus Christ, Daniel teaches at conferences, churches, universities and seminaries across the nations. Daniel and his wife, Levi, live in Kansas City with their son, Samuel. Their daughter, Emmanuel, went home to be with the Lord in 2008 while they were ministering in Myanmar during a historic disaster relief effort after Cyclone Nargis.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Daniel Lim) Featured Women Life Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Your Strongest Encouragement to Stop and Pray During Your Day http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28500-your-strongest-encouragement-to-stop-and-pray-during-your-day http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/28500-your-strongest-encouragement-to-stop-and-pray-during-your-day

"O You who hears prayer; to You all flesh will come" (Ps. 65:2).

God hears prayers. It's what He does.

God delights in answering the prayers of His children. Scripture is consistent on this.

The disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray." He said to them, 'When you pray, say: 'Our Father ..." (Luke 11:1bff).

Slow down. Do not rush through the "Our Father" (what we call "The Lord's Prayer"). Look how it begins.

You are praying to the Father. He is not just yours, of course, but "our" Father. He has quite the large family.

He is the Father. He birthed us. Created us. Knows us.

God is on your side. He is not impartial and definitely not antagonistic. He wants to do well for you, to bless you in every way. Jesus said, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

The concept of God as your heavenly Father is the personal gift to you and me from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He knew the Father as no one else and revealed Him to us that way. He frequently spoke of the oneness, the relationship He had with the Father before time began (see John 17:5ff.).

A couple of times, the Old Testament refers to God as the father of Israel, but nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does anyone look toward the skies and address God as Father. We learned that from Jesus.

My college chaplain said, "From time to time, someone will say to me, 'I believe in God the Father, but I don't believe in Jesus." He said, "I always ask them, Who taught you to call God 'Father'? Because it was Jesus."

I've heard that the Koran (Quran; the Islamic scriptures) has 91 names for God, but not one of them is "Father."

It was Jesus who taught us to call God 'Father.'

You don't need an invitation or an intermediary to go into the presence of your Father. You are His child. He welcomes you. His face lights up when you enter.

And that, as much as anything I know, is the best incentive we have for praying to Him. There are, after all, so many other incentives.

– We have enough needs to keep us on our knees forever. The world needs the prayers and intercessions of God's children, as it seems forever on the brink of another holocaust, another world war, another genocide, another meltdown.

– The way God has answered my prayers (and yours) in the past is a powerful encouragement to pray to Him today. Perhaps this is why Philippians tells us "by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God" (Phil. 4:6b). Thanksgiving requires looking back and seeing what He has done. Those who do not pray are thankless.

– Knowing there is a God in the universe, knowing that He is a personal God who knows us individually and cares for each one and knowing that He has made Himself available to hear prayers and to respond should be all the incentive we would ever need to pray throughout the day, every day.

– My love for the Lord is incentive to talk to Him, to listen to Him and to serve Him.

– My desire to be more like Jesus, and to prepare for heaven drives me to my knees in prayer.

But the best encouragement of all to stop and pray many times a day is knowing that on the other end of the line is One who knows me and loves me anyway, who cares for every detail of my life from the infinitesimal to infinity, and He welcomes me.

Because it's my heavenly Father on the throne, I may "come with confidence to the throne of grace, that [I] may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16).

Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus prayed, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always hear Me" (John 11:41-42).

Prayer, I like to remind people, is need-driven and faith-powered. Faith simply means I believe God; I believe that He is there and that He hears and cares and will answer.

Let us pray, and let us continue to pray until Jesus comes. Then, the faith shall be sight, and we will speak to Him face-to-face. The mind reels at such thoughts, at such a privilege. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe McKeever ) Featured Prayer Spirit Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:00:00 -0500
Uprooting the Enemy's Legalistic Lies in Your Heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28528-uprooting-the-enemy-s-legalistic-lies-in-your-heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/28528-uprooting-the-enemy-s-legalistic-lies-in-your-heart

Hope has never been a thing that comes easily to me. Neither has the belief that God is good. Actually, that is only partially true. I have believed in His goodness for others, but not His goodness that is aimed toward my life. When Clint and I were engaged, I lived in fear that God would make me give up getting married and spend the rest of my life alone. Now, I can look back and clearly see the enemy's voice all over those thoughts. They were so religious and ridiculous that it's laughable. At the time, though, I mostly believed God was in the business of having us die to our dreams. I viewed Him as a scary sovereign passing out judgments, not a good and loving Father who wanted to have a relationship with me. Because of this way of thinking, I allowed myself to be robbed of the joy and hope that should be a part of planning a wedding and a future together. Instead, it was filled with stress and fear.

I mostly believed God was in the business of having us die to our dreams.

There are plenty of other circumstances that have been like that. I have lived most of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I now know that living like that, in a constant state of worry, fear and hopeless disappointment, was directly connected to childhood trauma.

The reality is that a lot of people do what I did. We adjust our theology to fit the circumstances of our lives. Sometimes our thought processes are totally justified by our life experiences. That, however, doesn't mean that those ways of thinking are right, healthy or the way God intended us to be.

We adjust our theology to fit the circumstances of our lives.

So what do you do when you realize you've believed lies about God most of your life? How do you go about making a correction? I have personally begun to demand hope of myself. I command my soul to hope in God. When fear of loss tries to sneak in, I speak out loud to my heart. I firmly remind myself that, "No good thing has been withheld from me." I deliberately review the past years of my life, looking for examples of God's goodness and faithfulness made manifest. I remind myself that my outward circumstances are not my dictator; they are actually subject to my inner world. My beliefs and thoughts, my heart toward God is the actual standard. I remind myself that I am worth it to Jesus. I am a creation in the image of my Father, and He called that creation good. I say a resounding no to hopelessness and fear, while saying yes to joy, peace, hope and love.

It takes time to undo a lifetime of wrong believing. It takes some effort on my part and a conscious decision to plant truth in the soil of my heart and mind.

I say a resounding no to hopelessness and fear, while saying yes to joy, peace, hope and love.

Be bold in your pursuit of hope. Snatch up the weeds of fear and doubt that the enemy of your destiny wants to plant. Replace them with the truth of God's Word, the truth of His character, the truth of His goodness and love that is firmly aimed toward your life.

"The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all His works" (Ps. 145:8-9).

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of distress; and He knows those who take refuge in Him" (Nah. 1:7).

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no change or shadow of turning" (James 1:17). {eoa}

Reprinted with permission from NexGen Worship. Hayley Kahler is a proud mother to 3 boys and wife to Clint Kahler. She loves Jesus, coffee and chocolate. Hayley has led worship with her husband, Clint, for 20-plus years.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Hayley Kahler) Featured Women Life Wed, 11 Jan 2017 11:00:00 -0500
6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/28498-6-roadblocks-that-will-stop-your-spiritual-growth http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/28498-6-roadblocks-that-will-stop-your-spiritual-growth

A few days ago, I was driving from my home in Georgia to a church in Alabama to preach for five days. I didn't think the predicted "snowpocalypse" would hinder my trip until I arrived in the town of Anniston—where state troopers had blocked the main road due to ice on bridges.

The road was closed, and I couldn't get to Birmingham on Highway 431. When I tried a different route, I ran into more ice and more roadblocks. This had never happened to me in Florida—we don't have ice on roads. So I was stuck. I had to turn around and go home.

Thankfully, my host rescheduled our meetings, and I arrived at his church two days later, after all the feared ice had melted. But the whole experience reminded me that there are times when we can't get where we need to go because our roads are blocked.

As Christians, we are called to move forward in our faith. The apostle Paul set the example for us when he said: "I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). You are not supposed to stay in the same place spiritually year after year. God wants you to grow. But often we get stuck, usually because of one of these six roadblocks:

1. Lack of spiritual hunger. Let's face it: The main reason many Christians get stuck in a rut is they are happy to be there. But God is looking for people who refuse to be content with where they were last year. He is calling you higher. You must ask the Holy Spirit to set your heart ablaze with a desire for more of His presence and power.

David is our example of spiritual hunger. He wrote: "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God" (Ps. 42:1). He actually felt lousy when he wrote those words, so we can't use our discouragement as an excuse. David fanned the flames of spiritual fervor even when he felt like quitting.

2. Plain old laziness. Many of us become motivated at the beginning of the year to pray, study the Bible, go back to school or lose weight. But nobody wins a race by sprinting the first 50 feet and then sitting down. Winners must stay in the game. You must be determined to finish what you start instead of leaving a trail of aborted attempts.

Paul exhorted the Romans to be "fervent in spirit," but first he warned them not to be "lazy" (see Romans 12:11-12). The Greek word used here, "okneros," is the same word Jesus used in the parable of the "lazy servant" who didn't invest the money he was given by his master. If you are sitting on your dreams or procrastinating when you should be growing your faith, the "lazy" label applies. Don't just start and then give up. Be consistent and keep going.

3. Unpacked baggage. The Israelites who left Egypt could have marched into the Promised Land in a matter of weeks, but they ended up in a holding pattern for 40 years. Why? They were dragging their sin with them. The more weight you drag behind you, the less likely it is that you will reach your destination.

I knew a Christian guy who had a thriving ministry to college students. But because he refused to get help for his pornography habit, his addiction prevented him from functioning normally. It finally weighed him down so much that it destroyed both his marriage and ministry. You may think you can "manage" your sin, but it is more powerful than you are. You can't move forward while carrying a load of shame and addictions. Repent, confess your weakness to someone else and get free.

4. Fear of change. Many people feel a tug in their hearts that says: Start that Bible study. Go on that mission trip. Write that book. Launch that business. But they never get past step one because they feel frozen in their tracks. Nothing will keep you in spiritual limbo like fear. It paralyzes.

Some people keep their dreams inside them for decades—and then they take them to the grave. If you want to grow, you must take risks. Don't let your fear of public speaking, airplanes, crowds, strangers or people's criticism stop you from trusting in the God who is bigger than all those things.

5. Shallow relationships. Who are you hanging around with? Abraham had to part ways with Lot because they had very different goals. Lot had a selfish motive, and Abraham was fully surrendered to God's plan. If you spend all your time with selfish people who are content to live spiritually fruitless lives, you will end up just like them.

If you want to move forward spiritually in 2017, don't expect the crowd to go with you. Some people don't want God's presence. Don't let them drag you down. Be willing to find new friends who will support your spiritual commitment.

6. A religious spirit. Religious people build memorials to honor what God did in 1967, sing songs from that era and write books about "the way we've always done it." Yet when the Holy Spirit calls them to "sing ... a new song" (Psalm 96:1), or if He starts doing "a new thing" (Isaiah 43:19a), they get offended. They insist God must move the exact same way He did 50 years ago.

But God does not stay in the same place or do things the same way. His character is unchangeable, but He always has a fresh word and a new anointing to pour on His people. He loves to surprise and overwhelm us. Don't let religious inflexibility keep you from experiencing the adventure of following His Spirit. {eoa}

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady ) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 11 Jan 2017 10:00:00 -0500
Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28487-satan-s-2-most-potent-lies-to-render-you-ineffective http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/28487-satan-s-2-most-potent-lies-to-render-you-ineffective

As I explain in my book, Silence Satan, one of the devil's greatest goals is to silence you. He knows that inside each of us is something so powerful that when released, it mightily impacts those it touches. It's your story.

Yes, your story is a container of hope to hearers that God will provide them with the same transformation, deliverance, healing or breakthrough that He provided you.

With the potential for such major effect, it's no surprise the devil works desperately to keep your story locked deep inside you—never to be heard by the likes of listeners. And to accomplish this, he perpetuates two potent lies you need to know.

Lie No. 1: You've done too much. The first lie is one with which many are profoundly familiar: "You've done too much." In order to build evidence for this, he begins with incriminating reminders of the past. "Look at all the mistakes and sins you've committed," he whispers. Then, heads up, here come his silencers: "You're too messed up," "You're too dirty" or "You're too far gone." His aim is to convince you that you haven't lived a good enough life to be an example for anyone. Therefore, you should keep your mouth shut and never attempt to share your story.

This silencing strategy is one of Satan's most effective. Perhaps even as you read, you realize that you've succumbed to something similar and allowed the devil to muzzle your mouth.

Lie No. 2: You haven't done enough. Others, however, have heard a very different line. It's one that's not as often recognized, but is equally as suppressing: "You haven't done enough." Many of those raised in a godly home have surrendered to this one without ever realizing it. It's the notion that you don't have a testimony. Because you haven't struggled with some addiction or fallen into filth, you have nothing in you that will impact anyone. Therefore, you too should keep quiet.

These are lies. The truth is we each have a story God will use to relate something about His power to someone in some way. Yours might be a testimony about God's power of deliverance from drugs, promiscuity or rejection. Or it might be about God's power to keep you from those things. Both are equally necessary in today's world.

The Purpose of Your Story

Keep this in mind: The Bible boasts that you are chosen by God to "declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). This means God chose you to share your story, which proclaims His glory.

Your story might be just the prescription for the addict who needs hope of freedom, the lonely person who needs hope of love, the regretful individual who needs hope of a new start or the teenager who needs hope that God's power is available to hold them in purity. Whatever your story reveals—don't let up, give up, back up or shut up. But speak up—it needs to be heard. {eoa}

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kyle Winkler ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Wed, 11 Jan 2017 09:00:00 -0500
2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28495-2017-prophetic-word-the-supernatural-key-to-growing-your-relationship-with-god http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/28495-2017-prophetic-word-the-supernatural-key-to-growing-your-relationship-with-god

In this coming season, the Lord is going to mature us spiritually through an unconventional means—receiving and stewarding His promises. I sense that is the next dimension of spiritual formation.

We may be familiar with prayer, fasting, solitude, meditation, worship and other spiritual disciplines as common catalysts producing Christ-likeness in our lives. Could it be that God's promises actually have the supernatural ability to significantly shape us into the nature of the Promiser?

"... He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that through these things you might become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4b).

Lay Down an Incorrect Theology of Suffering

For generations, religion has mistakenly assumed that God needs to send suffering to grow us into Christ-likeness. According to 1 John 3:8, the Son of God was revealed, not to afflict us with sickness and torment, but to "destroy the works of the devil." It is theologically irresponsible for us to claim God sends what Jesus destroyed in order to grow us spiritually.

Yes, the Lord redeems suffering. He redeems the most horrible, devastating seasons and circumstances—so much so that, often, the restorative hand of the Lord is mistaken for the caused hand of the Lord. In other words, God's presence is so strong and pronounced during our dark seasons that when we come to the other side, we assume He actually caused the suffering.

It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil. When we attribute demonic suffering to God, it will dramatically impact the way we interact with the Lord, how boldly we pray, what we believe for and how we position ourselves to receive His promises (or not).

Promises Attract Adversity, Persecution and Suffering

With this in mind, it's important to understand the balance. Instead of attributing suffering to God, it's time for us to start attributing promises from Him. He sends the promise, and a certain measure of adversity comes with the territory.

Consider biblical examples who received "exceedingly great and precious promises." Did life come comfortably to them? Abraham faced a massive contradiction: God promised a son "from his own flesh" while he and his wife were way beyond childbearing years. Impossible. Joseph's dream of prominence and royalty was met by brothers who attempted to destroy him. Mary's promise to carry the Messiah in her womb surely came with ridicule and persecution—an unmarried woman carrying a child that was given to her by—the Holy Spirit?

Promises Come with Contradiction

I encourage you to study the amazing promises entrusted to people throughout Scripture (and even in history) and examine the level of contradiction they experienced in their present circumstances. 

Here's the point: Promises from God are met with contradiction in the natural realm. God is announcing a reality to you that will most likely appear very distant and disconnected from your present situation. God's promises are prophetic glimpses of the realities He wants to release into and through your life. The true evaluation of whether a promise comes from God or not is the Impossibility Test. Is it impossible for you to bring the promise to pass through your own ingenuity, wisdom, effort, talent, strength and ability? If so, congrats—you have been given stewardship of a promise from heaven.

3 Supernatural Benefits of the Promises of God

Here are three ways the promises of God produce growth in you:

  • Promises call you to pull tomorrow into today. Promises will always contradict your present circumstances because God wants you to collaborate with Him, through faith, to bring His promised reality into the present so His will can be done.
  • Promises teach you to prophesy. Whether it's a prophetic word, a passage of Scripture the Holy Spirit is highlighting, or some expression of God speaking something to you, you have an assignment—when you receive a promise, you need to align your words with what God is saying. This is the essence of the prophetic: You saying what God is speaking.
  • Promises demand lifestyle adjustment and accommodation. The reason there are so many unclaimed, un-released promises is because the transaction is a two-way street. We just want God to do everything and us do nothing. God, in His sovereignty and love, entrusts promises to us. That's His part. At the same time, we need to steward and carry the promises to fruition. It's not enough to get a prophetic word in a gathering; some people think that just because they "got a word," God is obligated to fulfill it. The word of the Lord places a demand on your life. Will you adjust everything—your habits, your thought processes, your relationships, your pursuits—according to the promise you received, or will you continue with "life as normal?" Normal will never be invaded by the supernatural as long as we are content to continue with status quo rather than accommodate the promises of God.

    What Is God Saying to You About His Promises?

    I believe the Holy Spirit is declaring two things right now concerning promises:

    • The Lord wants you to inherit new promises: position yourself, and live in expectation. He is not looking for perfect people; just yielded ones. Mary was surely not perfect—she was simply willing to say yes to an impossible promise.
    • The Lord also wants to send the renewing wind of the Spirit to those of who you received promises in past seasons. "I am bringing resurrection life to past-season promises," says the Lord. "There are promises that I gave you—and that you believed for a season—and then you experienced adversity and contradiction and the discouragements of life—and you said no to these promises, even though I never said no. Ask the Holy Spirit for a fresh visitation of His resurrection power, breathing life upon those past-season promises and reviving them.

Isn't All this Talk about Promises Selfish?

I conclude with this, as I believe the Lord spoke this word to me very clearly:

Encourage My people to contend for My promises. Promises stewarded well produce maturity; promises fulfilled produce breakthrough. Breakthroughs become testimonies that become promises for those you share testimony with. Your testimonies become promises for others, igniting their faith to contend for their own personal breakthroughs.

Why is your breakthrough important—yes, essential? Every breakthrough—healing, miracle, restoration, reversal, rendering of justice, answered prayer, bondage broken, deliverance—is actually a first-firsts foretaste of My ultimate agenda: the Earth being filled with the knowledge of My goodness and the manifestation of My glory. Your breakthrough is really an in-breaking of the age to come in the here and now. {eoa}  

Larry Sparks is passionate about helping all Christ-followers experience the "more" of God—a dynamic relationship with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Through his teaching ministry, Charisma magazine articles, media resources and books, Larry provides tools that show Christians—individually and corporately—how to position themselves for revival. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University, serves as publisher for Destiny Image publishing house and is author of Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Larry Sparks ) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Wed, 11 Jan 2017 08:00:00 -0500