Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://www.charismamag.com/component/content/?view=featured Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:42:24 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Is Jesus' Matthew Prophecy Being Fulfilled Even Now? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23969-is-jesus-matthew-prophecy-being-fulfilled-even-now http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23969-is-jesus-matthew-prophecy-being-fulfilled-even-now

Famines, epidemics and earthquakes are how Jesus foretold the beginning of sorrows in Matthew 24

In the United States, there were more than 260 earthquakes in the last seven days. Those startling statistics include a 4.5-magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma and a 6.9-magnitude shaking in Alaska.  

"There is a backstop—the craton, that ancient unbudgeable mass at the center of the continent—and, sooner or later, North America will rebound like a spring," writes The New Yorker's Kathryn Schultz.

And perhaps that rebounding is exactly what Jesus meant. 

One might be prone to brushing off the statistics as an improvement in the scientific recording of earthquakes, but that assumption would be a mistake. 

Of the past, and future, earthquakes, Schultz writes: "In fact, the science is robust ... we now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next 50 years are roughly 1 in 3. The odds of the very big one are roughly 1 in 10. Even those numbers do not fully reflect the danger—or, more to the point, how unprepared the Pacific Northwest is to face it. The truly worrisome figures in this story are these: Thirty years ago, no one knew that the Cascadia subduction zone had ever produced a major earthquake. Forty-five years ago, no one even knew it existed."

Those are in the United States, alone. 

Expand the global observation and timeline of these earthquakes, and the picture is far from comforting. Take a look at Nepal earlier this year, or Japan in 2011.

Though scientists from across the world are attempting to predict the quakes, the words of Jesus appear to be manifesting before our eyes: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places" (Matt. 24:7).

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Why You Need to Learn to Disengage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23979-why-you-need-to-learn-to-disengage http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23979-why-you-need-to-learn-to-disengage

You've heard the conversations:

"Hey man, what's going on?"
"Busier than ever! You?"
"Me, too. Busy, busy, busy! I can't remember the last time I took a vacation."
"Me either!"

Now, this would be unusual:

"Hey, man, what's going on?"
"Not a whole lot. Just enjoying the day. You?"

The thought would be, "That guy's a loser!" That's because men are action figures. What we do is an integral part of our identity. That's not all bad until it gets twisted to where we define ourselves by what we do and measure ourselves by our accomplishments.

One man was so busy that he had a hard time disengaging when he came in the door after his typical long days at work. His five- and six-year-olds were naturally excited to see their daddy when he came home, but his wife could tell that he was always distracted and even seemed a little irritated by his children wanting his attention.

His wife was a smart woman. When the kids would try and get his attention, she would say, "Kids, Daddy's not home yet."

They would look at her, and look at him, and say, "Sure he is, Mommy. He's right over there!"

Then she would whisper to them, "We know that, but he doesn't know it yet. Go outside and play for a while. He'll be home in about 20 minutes." She created the margin he needed to disengage from work and reengage with his family. He couldn't do it, so she did it for him.

Maybe that's the kind of stuff God had in mind when he created a "helper" for man. To be so strong, sometimes we as men can be so helpless.

One of my bad habits, which seemed like a good idea, was to use the drive time home to catch up on leftover calls from work. After all, Ephesians 5:15-16 (MEV) says, "See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise men, making the most of the time because the days are evil." In my mind I was making the most of the time.

Sometimes I would be on the phone when I pulled into the garage and stay on the phone another five minutes while I finished the call. One day my little girl came out to greet me, excited about telling me something that happened in her world that day. I kind of waved her off and said I was on an important call and would be done in a minute. No big deal to a 6-year-old. But as she went about her way what I said bounced around in my head. I had just communicated that my phone call was more important than her. Maybe she didn't get that, but I sure did.

Here's what I started doing. I designated a safe zone on my way home. The first one I set was the entrance to my neighborhood. I would tell whomever I was talking with that I had just entered the safe zone and needed to get off the phone so I could get ready to be with my family. But the distance from the entrance to my neighborhood down the street to my house didn't allow me enough time to mentally disengage. So, I backed up my boundary a few blocks. Then I backed it up about a mile. The three-mile boundary finally worked. It helps me be intentional about creating margin. For those three miles I start thinking about my wife's schedule that day, wondering what my daughter's day was like, so when I pull in the driveway and walk through the door I'm all there.

A lot of guys who know me are fine when I interrupt our drive-time conversation and tell them I have to go. Most will say, "You must have entered the safe zone!" It's called creating margin and it's catching on with some of our men.

I wish I could say I've mastered this, but I haven't. It's a constant struggle because I like to accomplish things. I'm a project guy and I can tune everything out when I'm engaged in a project, especially one I really like. But knowing when to disengage makes me a better man. I actually create a better project. It makes me a better husband, a better Dad, a better neighbor ... a better ... oh, you get the idea.

Adapted from Fight Club – Some Things Are Worth Fighting For by Tierce Green.

Tierce Green is the Executive Pastor of Small Groups at Woodlands Church in The Woodlands, Tex., where he speaks to over a thousand men each year in a seasonal gathering called The Quest. He is also a teaching pastor in the bullpen for Senior Pastor Kerry Shook. Tierce was a popular speaker and consultant for the 26 years previous, and wrote curriculum for organizations including LifeWay and Student Life.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Tierce Green) Featured Men Life Fri, 31 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
If You Have This Condition, Skipping Breakfast Could be Especially Bad for Your Health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23964-if-you-have-this-condition-skipping-breakfast-could-be-especially-bad-for-your-health http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23964-if-you-have-this-condition-skipping-breakfast-could-be-especially-bad-for-your-health

People with type 2 diabetes who skip breakfast and fast until noon may have blood sugar spikes throughout the day, a small study suggests.

When 22 patients with type 2 diabetes missed their morning meal, they had higher-than-usual surges in blood sugar after lunch and dinner, the study found.

Skipping breakfast was also linked to less efficient processing of glucose by the body, or a reduced ability to convert blood sugar into energy.

The researchers had expected that skipping breakfast wouldn't be healthy. But they were surprised at the extent to which glucose metabolism suffered, simply because participants hadn't eaten breakfast, said lead author Daniela Jakubowicz of Tel Aviv University.

"This means reducing the amount of starch and sugars in lunch and dinner will have no effect on reducing elevated glucose levels if patients also skip breakfast," she said by email.

Globally, about one in 10 adults have diabetes, according to the World Health Organization. Like the patients in this study, most have type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and aging and occurs when the body can't make or process enough of the hormone insulin.

Previous research has linked skipping breakfast to an increased risk for weight gain and diabetes, Jakubowicz and colleagues note in the journal Diabetes Care.

The current study involved 12 men and 10 women who were about 57 years old on average, and overweight.

On test days, patients were asked to fast overnight, then come to the clinic for blood tests and either two or three meals, depending on which part of the experiment they were completing.

Participants consumed the same balanced meal with the same number of calories for lunch and dinner.

Two to four weeks later, they repeated the process, but switching to either eat or skip breakfast - whatever they hadn't done in the first phase.

On test days when patients skipped breakfast, their blood sugar was 40 percent higher after lunch and 25 percent higher after dinner than on the days when they had three meals.

Skipping breakfast may have made it difficult for the pancreas to produce the right amount of insulin to properly control blood sugar, Jakubowicz said. Normally, beta cells in the pancreas release insulin in response to elevated levels of sugar in the blood.

Missing the morning meal may cause the beta cells to "forget their vital role," she said, delaying the release of insulin and allowing blood sugar levels to remain high for longer periods of time after lunch and dinner.

Because the study only included people with diabetes, it's not clear whether healthy people would experience similar blood sugar spikes after skipping breakfast, the researchers acknowledge. It's also unclear how long the blood sugar spikes might last.

It's also possible that the last meal the night before might influence blood sugar the following day regardless of whether or not they ate breakfast, said Tanya Zilberter, a researcher in metabolic diseases with the Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes in Marseille, France.

A late dinner might lead to high blood sugar the next day, Zilberter, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email.

"It might be that the duration of the overnight fast matters more than the timing of the first meal of the day," Zilberter said.

For the original article, see reuters.com

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Lisa Rapaport/Reuters Health) Featured Health Life Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Isaiah Prophesied This About a Revival in the Desert http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23984-isaiah-prophesied-this-about-a-revival-in-the-desert http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23984-isaiah-prophesied-this-about-a-revival-in-the-desert

Isaiah had prophesied that before the Lord came, a messenger would be raised up in the desert.

Why the desert? Why not the city, the seacoast, or verdant plain?

On about thirty occasions, I have been in the location where John the Baptist ministered. I always marvel that he could attract people down to where he was at 1,200 feet below sea level. Jerusalem is a steep twenty-mile climb up over 3,500 feet, and the Judean countryside is highland area. It is only a 30-minute drive, but try walking!

Perhaps you would not mind the day's walk downhill to where John preached and baptized, but you certainly would not like the walk back up! Who today would walk one day to get to church, and then another day to get back home?

When planning strategically for new church buildings, we want location, location, location. We want to make it easy for people to come, park, and walk to the front door. We are all about access.

That is all well and good, but John was not about access. You had to want to get to him.

God wanted John out in the desert—that is why Isaiah prophesied it 800 years earlier.

Throughout church history, the Holy Spirit has used unusual places to begin powerful spiritual movements: a small town in Germany called Wittenberg where Luther posted his 95 Theses, a mission in London where Wesley felt his heart strangely warmed when he heard someone read Luther's commentary on Romans, a former stable in Los Angeles converted into the Azusa Street Mission where the Pentecostal Movement caught fire, and a rented opera house in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the Assemblies of God was born.

God is not impressed with the grandeur of a place. He is concerned about the emptiness in the heart. John addressed that emptiness by passionately proclaiming that God forgives sins.

That is why people went out to John near the place where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea. They came because he had an authentic message from God.

When an authentic message from God is wedded to an authentic hunger in the heart, a powerful spiritual movement gets underway.

That is the challenge before us today. Those who proclaim God's Word must do so with conviction and passion. People will not be attracted by those who mumble religious words or simply say interesting things—even if they do so in multimillion-dollar buildings.

On the other hand, the greatest preachers of God's message will see no results if people's hearts are not open to receive, repent, and be cleansed of sin.

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray for an authentic work of Your Spirit in my church and community. Just like the mass of people from Judea and Jerusalem who came to John, I pray for a great movement toward You in this land.

Excerpted from Dr. Wood's forthcoming book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available in September from Vital Resources.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
A Prophetic Call to Teenagers to Freedom From Culture http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23983-a-prophetic-call-to-teenagers-to-freedom-from-culture http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23983-a-prophetic-call-to-teenagers-to-freedom-from-culture

I am writing for the liberation of teenagers. I write to challenge teenagers to "live as people who are free" (1 Peter 2:16, ESV). Be wise and strong and free from the slavery of culture-conformity. To put it another way, I am calling teenagers to a radical, wartime lifestyle.

The Creation of "Teenagers"

As teenagers, you should know that the idea of "teenagers" was created only seventy years ago. The word "teenager" did not exist before World War II. Between children and adults, there was no such category of human being. You were a child. Then you were a young adult.

Just a hundred years ago, you would bear crucial responsibility at age thirteen on the farm or in dad's business—or mom's kitchen and weaving room. You would be trained for gainful employment, or domestic enterprise, by age seventeen, and would marry before you were twenty, and be a responsible husband and father—or wife and mother—by your early twenties.

This scenario is perhaps hard for you to imagine. And I am not saying we can go back to that era, or should want to. My aim is that you be liberated by the truth. The truth will set you free. The truth that you do not have to fit into the contemporary lockstep expectations put on you by your culture or your peers.

Very few teenagers have an awareness of history. That ignorance leads to a kind of slavery. Most teenagers are slaves of the expectations of their peers and of the big industries that market their fashion and music and technology and entertainment.

This slavery is so pleasant—and so consistently rewarded—that the possibility of being free from conformity to teen culture rarely enters your mind. Being aware from history that other possibilities exist can set you free for radical "wartime living" in the name of Jesus.

What "Teenager" Meant Seventy Years Ago

In 1944, when "teen-age" was still hyphenated, Life magazine covered the new teen phenomenon. The article said,

"There is a time in the life of every American girl when the most important thing in the world is to be one of a crowd of other girls and to act and speak and dress exactly as they do. This is the teen age."

This was not a very enviable beginning for the meaning of "teenager." Things have not changed much in sixty years. A teenager wrote to my hometown newspaper:

"Most of my friends often are not comfortable with what is popular, but we wear it anyway. Standing out is just not always worth the struggle. Society tells us to be different, yet mainstream.

"How do you dress to please yourself, your parents, and your peers? You can't. Teens end up compromising their values to fit in. If we intend to make it through high school, or even junior high, without being tormented, then we must dress to please our peers.

We are the up-and-coming leaders of this nation, and we must see what we have become and change. (Minneapolis StarTribune, November 16, 2002: A23).

It is not easy to be a Christian teenager. You desperately want to be liked. To be rejected by friends can feel devastating. But just like this young woman, you know deep down that living to be liked is slavery. And if you belong to Jesus, that slavery may be a torment worse than rejection.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (John Piper) Featured Women Life Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Ex-wife of Former NFL Player Tells Story of Abuse and Betrayal http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23982-ex-wife-of-former-nfl-player-tells-story-of-abuse-and-betrayal http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23982-ex-wife-of-former-nfl-player-tells-story-of-abuse-and-betrayal

Dorothy Newton, the former wife of three-time Super Bowl champion Nate Newton, wants to bring hope and healing to every woman, who suffers in silence or who knows someone who suffers from physical abuse, through her new book, Silent Cry: The True Story of Abuse and Betrayal of an NFL Wife (Zondervan) that's coming out in October.

"My objective is not to expose juicy details about a famous athlete, but to shine a light on domestic violence in hopes of helping others escape it and find healthy and meaningful lives on the other side," said Dorothy Newton.

Approximately 1 in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical abuse by an intimate partner, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and recent cases involving NFL stars Ray Rice and Greg Hardy have thrown a spotlight on the problem.

Although many abused women remain silent because of shame, Dorothy shares unflinchingly about her past and credits "a sovereign God who sees, knows and understands the depths of despair" for making her whole again.

Domestic violence became a part of her life when she was a child. One of six children, she grew up in poverty in Louisiana. Her stepfather drank and gambled and beat her mother.

After she became the first person in her family to graduate from college, Dorothy moved to Dallas, where she met Nathaniel "Nate" Newton, an offensive lineman for the Cowboys. They began dating and had their first child before they married.

"Sometimes I looked in the mirror and saw my mother staring back at me, but I shrugged it off," she writes. "Our relationship wasn't like that of my mother and stepfather. Nate didn't beat me. I could leave if I wanted to."

After they got married, he soon grew violent. When he was angry, he would shove her and grab her throat. Eventually, he began beating her until she couldn't move. One time, he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her around the house. Another time, when they were arguing over a credit card bill, he hit her in the face over her left eye.

"Whenever he was upset, he abused me," Dorothy writes. "Then he would apologize and want to 'make things right.' I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly thought I deserved the abusive treatment as punishment for my sins."

After a friend of hers told the Cowboys of Nate's issues, he threatened to kill her, pointed a gun at her and put their unborn baby in danger. She had tried many times before, but finally Dorothy convinced Nate that it was time for a divorce.

Although it took time to break free of his influence, she managed, with God's help, to turn her life around. Today, she works as a health-care administrator, recently earned her M.B.A, is a frequent co-host on Daystar Television Network and regularly speaks on the topic of abuse.

"I believe there is a way out, and God will help you find it. He can hear your silent cry," writes Dorothy Newton.

Dorothy talked to her ex-husband, a six-time Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys to get his blessing before writing Silent Cry. Nate Newton, who has since remarried and become a Christian, was interviewed for the book. Sheila Walsh, Bible teacher and best-selling author, wrote the foreword to Silent Cry. The book also contains several appendices with helpful tips for victims of domestic violence and their families and friends.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Julie Shutley) Featured Women Life Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
3 Things That Short Circuit Your Faith http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23972-3-things-that-short-circuit-your-faith http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23972-3-things-that-short-circuit-your-faith

God has a great plan for each person's life, and He wants us to enjoy every day of our lives. But we can't do it if we live in fear and lack confidence. Confidence is the belief that you're able to do what you need or want to do. God gives us confidence, but we need to know how to access it by faith.

God-given confidence is actually the grace of God. We usually hear grace defined as God's undeserved favor or God doing something for you that you don't deserve. But it's really more than that. It was life-changing for me to learn that grace is also God's power, freely given to me, to enable me to do with ease what I could not do on my own with any amount of struggle or effort.

Think about this for a minute. Everyone who accepts Christ as their Savior is taught that we're saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8 (AMP) says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." But the same way we are saved is the way we are supposed to live. In other words, once we are born again, God wants us to do everything in life by grace through faith.

This has been one of the greatest revelations of my life. I remember how exciting it was to realize that God is not just there to help us when we have an emergency. God wants to be involved in every single thing we do on a day-to-day basis. There's nothing you're involved in that God doesn't care about, and He wants you to pray and ask Him to help you with every detail of your life. He doesn't want you to live striving in your own effort to do anything. God wants to be your close, personal, intimate friend.

I was a Christian for years before I learned how to access God's grace, or power, to live my everyday life. First, I had to get an understanding that once I was saved, God didn't expect me to live right by my own strength. Just as I couldn't "earn" salvation through my own works or effort, I also couldn't really change my heart or behavior in my own strength. Jesus says in John 15:4 (NIV), "No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain joined to the vine. In the same way, you can't bear fruit unless you remain joined to me."

Every day we need to come to God and tell Him, "God, I can do nothing without You. Nothing in my life is going to work without You. Apart from You, there is nothing good in me. My confidence is in You. I need You all the time. I believe You and trust You, Lord." When we humble ourselves before God and ask Him for help, we can access His grace through faith.

So to help you do that, I want to share three things that commonly short-circuit our faith, cutting off our access to God's power: complaining, self-pity and pride.

  • Complaining is a negative attitude that keeps us from being thankful for all God has done, is doing and will do. It is a sin we need to repent of, and then be determined to thank God in all things, at all times. His grace and blessings always outweigh the things we think are wrong in our life.

  • Self-pity is simply a "poor me" attitude. It is a form of idolatry because it causes you to focus on yourself and think, "What about me?" But we can't be pitiful and powerful at the same time, so let's decide to give up all self-pity.

  • Pride takes credit for what God has done and steals His glory. It makes us independent of God, and we can't bear good fruit apart from Christ.

Before I learned how to live my life by God's grace, I was a mess. I was a nagging wife, manipulative and controlling. And I wasn't satisfied living like that. Then God helped me by opening my eyes to see that I couldn't really change until I started taking His Word seriously and trusting Him to change me. When I made a firm decision to pray and study the Word in areas I was weak until the truth made me strong, then God's grace gave me the power I needed to overcome the things that were wrong. And I keep going forward in my journey with God the same way today.

God has all the power you need to do anything you need to do. He loves you and wants to give you His power to live your everyday life with joy. Lean on Him with absolute trust in His wisdom and goodness, and live with God-given confidence.

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

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Genetics Expert Confirms the Reality of Adam and Eve http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/apologetics/23968-genetics-expert-confirms-the-reality-of-adam-and-eve http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/apologetics/23968-genetics-expert-confirms-the-reality-of-adam-and-eve

Modern-day DNA research is confirming the biblical account of Adam and Eve, according to one genetics expert. 

Answers in Genesis' Georgia Purdom has recently released a documentary explaining her findings and the scientific support for the records presented in Genesis. 

"One of the most compelling genetic evidences for an original human couple created by God is mitochondrial DNA research done by creation geneticist, Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson," Purdom says. "He clearly shows that the common human female ancestor of us all (biblical Eve) lived within the biblical timeframe of several thousand years ago."

Jeanson has also done research disproving the evolutionary timescale

What the scientific jargon breaks down to is this: If evolution were true, if men and women had been roaming the planet for years, there would be more genetic diversity.

By focusing on the DNA, these scientists have been able to evaluate that men and women can trace their roots back to a man and woman, Jeason writes

Though Jeason's timeline differs, his research echoes a study claiming all men can trace their lineage to a single man who lived 135,000 years ago, a "Genetic Adam."

"The Y chromosome is passed down identically from father to son, so mutations, or point changes, in the male sex chromosome can trace the male line back to the father of all humans," LiveScience's Tia Ghose writes. "By contrast, DNA from the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of the cell, is carried inside the egg, so only women pass it on to their children. The DNA hidden inside mitochondria, therefore, can reveal the maternal lineage to an ancient Eve."

For creationists, the scientific evidence backs not only the existence of Adam and Eve and the truth of Genesis, but the overwhelming support for the need of Christ in a broken world. 

Without Adam, Eve and original sin, Purdom says, we wouldn't have a need for a Savior—and salvation wouldn't be a necessity.

But through this research, geneticists are proving the case for Christ, not just creation.

"We need the good news, grace and life, which is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ," Purdom says. "Jesus is the solution to the problem of evil that began in Genesis 3. Paul made this connection very clear in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15."

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Jessilyn Justice) Featured Apologetics Spirit Fri, 31 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Why the Intercessors Are Under Such Strong Attack http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23980-why-the-intercessors-are-under-such-strong-attack http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23980-why-the-intercessors-are-under-such-strong-attack

I saw many of the people of God pressing into prayer and the secret place and suddenly a whirlwind seemed to "come out of nowhere". It was a whirlwind of opposition/attack sent by the enemy to bring distraction and hinder the place of "communion"  and "intimacy" for the people of God. 

Many were struggling to press in through prayer. Many were fighting against fatigue that would hit heavily in their prayer time and times of worship. Many feeling a "battle" to "connect" with the Lord in the secret place. 

There is an attack released upon the people of God who are pressing deeper into prayer and intimacy with Him in the secret place, because the Lord is unlocking new realms of revelation and areas of breakthrough.

The people of God are moving into a new level of revelation concerning their authority in Christ and a great awakening is happening in their hearts concerning their identity in Him. The sons and daughters of God are arising as they are pressing in. 

I saw many disheartened by this battle in the secret place and this battle in prayer. Do not be discouraged, do not be in despair by this battle, for I sensed the Lord saying that this battle is an INDICATION of what is waiting for you ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS!!!! 

Some of you are but A PRAYER AWAY from breakthrough and the enemy is attempting to do all he can to keep you from that place. 

Some of the greatest encounters with Him, revelation and explosion of insight into His Word await you. Heavenly strategies, wisdom and keys to spiritual warfare are going to be opened up to you at a new level.

Bill Johnson says that "Fire ALWAYS falls on sacrifice" and that is exactly what I feel the Lord is saying. IN the place of battle, IN the place of opposition and distraction that is coming at you in the secret place, OFFER Him praise, PRESS THROUGH and get into the Word, IN the battle continue to pray even if you feel like nothing is shifting. OFFER HIM your praise, adoration and positioning despite the battle. The FIRE OF GOD is attracted to your sacrifice.

Your praise, your sacrifice to Him, is like a beautiful incense rising to Him that is not only seeing heaven rain down on you, but DISARMING the whirlwind attempting to knock you off course.

I saw the fire of God fall on the people of God bringing transformation, freedom, healing, positioning for greater momentum and EYES being set on fire to SEE like they have NEVER seen before in the spirit. 

COMMUNION IS A KEY

I also felt the Lord saying that as His people press through this battle, take communion in the secret place with Him and focus on HIS sacrifice for us, a turning will take place. 

HEAVENLY WHIRLWIND

The enemy is attempting to counterfeit what the Lord is releasing. Whirlwinds from heaven are being released into the secret place as His people meet with Him and minister to Him with their praise and adoration. Out of the encounters with Him in the secret place, whirlwind changes will occur in the natural.

I felt the Lord saying "EVERYTHING that My people need for breakthrough is found in Me and in encountering Me. When these encounters are entered into and the instruction and revelation are released in them and put into action, My people will see many things turned around suddenly."

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

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Lana Vawser) Featured Prophecy Spirit Fri, 31 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
3 Ways We're Hurting Our Kids http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23981-3-ways-we-re-hurting-our-kids http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23981-3-ways-we-re-hurting-our-kids

If there was a shortcut to parenting, I thought I would have found it by now. I haven't ... not even close. But that doesn't mean I haven't tried. And it doesn't mean I haven't failed. Still we all keep looking and hoping, don't we?

Baby music classes do not give our kids a fast track to music scholarships in college. T-ball at age four doesn't mean the pros at twenty. Reading a Bible story at bedtime every night won't lead us to growing a godly teen. There are no quick fixes, perfect extracurricular actives, or even right methods of spiritual guidance that will result in perfect kids. We cannot skip the rough stuff in life and move directly to GO to collect our rewards of growing godly adults. Don't we wish it was all that simple?

There are a few things we can cut out that will benefit our kids: the latest gadgets, pricey fashion, electronic games, and social interaction that cuts out face-to-face social life. But we parents often pile on those things when we can't be there with time, attention, and connection. I've been guilty of it. "Here, play with my tablet for a while so I can finish this quick task."

There are things we might think will help, but they are actually hurting our kids:

  • The right preschool will not make up for time with parents, learning about life, relationships and caring for God.
  • The right moral stories will not make up for serving as a family, discovering there are real people behind the "issues" who need a helping hand, who need hope.
  • Even great biographies of heroes of the Christian faith cannot fill in for models of godliness. Instead, children need to see parents on their knees, crying out to God and discussing how God's truth overcomes the world's lies.

Yes, it's important to share stories of Christian faith (I've even written a book for that!), but Mom and Dad—your story is the most important one your child will read ... and they read it in real, living, breathing flesh.

To teach your children patience, compassion, self-control, and wisdom, you have to have those things.

To teach your kids to be content with who God made them to be, you need to be content. 

To teach your kids to trust God and follow His dreams for you, you must do it.

To teach your children how to pray, you must know how to pray ... and do it.

I wrote a book to inspire children called Prayers that Changed History. I highlighted 25 historical people and shared how prayer transformed their lives and impacted the world. I would LOVE for you to buy this book for your children. But first, I'd love you to read it for yourself. Some of these historical figures will be familiar to you. Others will be new, but my hope is that you will take time to read these stories and let them impact your heart first. Then I hope you will consider how to ask God to revive your own prayer life.

There is no shortcut or fast track to raising godly kids. Instead, you must be a model of day-in and day-out love and service to God. The way you live is the most important way to determine the type of life your child will live, too. Put yourself on the right path and guide your children to follow. And the best way to do that is spending your time in God's Word and on your knees, living the life God called you to. You never know how that will change your family's history ... no shortcuts needed.

Tricia Goyer has written more than 35 books, including 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, 30 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Discerning the Spirit of Absalom in Your Midst http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23978-discerning-the-spirit-of-absalom-in-your-midst http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23978-discerning-the-spirit-of-absalom-in-your-midst

The Bible says that to those whom much has been given, much will be expected. Church leaders bear a lot of responsibility for their congregations and need to be diligent to avoid spiritual pitfalls.

Recently, Bishop Ron Webb spoke to Jim Bakker about a specific type of spiritual warfare that targets those church leaders. The Absalom spirit, he says, spreads division among leadership and provokes rebellion.

Thankfully, Webb knows how to fight back.

Watch the video for his words of wisdom.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Taylor Berglund) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
A One-Step Way to Strengthen Your Daughter's Identity http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23962-a-one-step-way-to-strengthen-your-daughter-s-identity http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23962-a-one-step-way-to-strengthen-your-daughter-s-identity

Let's take a walk down memory lane.

I am guessing that when you and your wife/partner went through the process of choosing a name for your daughter it was a very big deal. No doubt you labored to get just the right one.

You probably ruled out the majority of them because at one point or another one of you knew someone with that exact name who didn't wear the title very well.  

Yet somehow, finally, after months of deliberation, when hope was almost gone that you'd ever agree, the perfect one emerged!

Then you both pondered it for a couple of days (or weeks) just to make sure it sat well. You may have even spoken it out loud a few times while considering every possible nickname that might be derived from it, culminating with making sure it tucked itself nicely next to your surname.  

And the more you let your mind wrap around that final choice, her beautiful name began to take on a life of its own, like music to your ears. You eagerly anticipated how your little offspring would soon come alive to the sound of that name, a name that you had given her, a name that would be forever linked to her identity as a girl and a woman.

It was that name that became the hook upon which your heart would hang all the love you could ever imagine giving to your precious treasure.

And even now you probably don't have to reach very far back into your memory bank to recall the first time she cooed and smiled as you called her by name, an experience that left you feeling things inside your heart as a man that you'd never felt before. It was then you knew you were a dad.

And all of that was tied to your little girl being called by her name. By you.

I'm here to tell you that she still needs to hear you lovingly say her name.

But not only that. If you really want to hit it out of the ballpark as a dad, you can teach her the origin and meaning of her name to help her more fully understand who she is. In doing so you give her a gift that will deeply impact her heart.

When I was thirteen years old, my dad started meeting bimonthly with me and my younger sister. The poor guy didn't have a clue how to be a dad to daughters yet when a mentor suggested that he meet individually with his girls to help lead and train us, he was committed to giving it a try. I was nervous at first because I knew it would be awkward, just him and me. But it got easier over time.

He covered topics like dating, overcoming fear (since I struggled big time in that area), sibling relationships, and even explored the meaning of my name. This all was new and intriguing, and I remember being most impacted by this idea of knowing that my name had an origin long before me that was tied to generations of women whose name I shared.

I still recall learning that my sister's name meant she was gracious, which gave her one thing to focus on. But upon opening the name book and reading about mine, my heart sank. I hated what I read. At first, anyway.

I was overwhelmed at the enormity of what it would require to live up to its meaning when I learned that Michelle was a Hebrew name that meant "who is like God" or "godly woman." Here I had an inbred assignment to embody the entire character and nature of God Himself! Yikes!

But there's a flip side of that overreaction. At the same time that I felt burdened with the task at hand, it also meant that God and I had a deep personal connection because my name was tied to Him.

Here I was an insecure teenager with a bad complexion and wonky emotions, but now I felt tied to a Person much bigger than myself. This honestly helped give me a stronger sense of identity beyond what I could comprehend at the time.

Learning the meaning of my name gave me something solid to hold on to.

Did you know that you can reinforce the strength of your daughter's identity by highlighting the fact that her name actually has historical roots and meaning? And by doing so you are emphasizing and celebrating her who (who she is) and not just her do (what she does).

It's one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into her because it ties to her core, to that special part of her that is as unique as her DNA.

Why not take ten minutes right now to look online for the meaning of your daughter's name and then write her a note to tell her about it. You can even share one or two examples of how you see her living out that meaning.

I guarantee that she will thrive upon hearing your affirmation because her name gives her something powerful and good to connect to. Being a dad who affirms his daughter by underscoring the rich qualities attached to her name will put you in the top tier of fathers in the world.

Do it today:  Find the meaning of her name and put it in writing. You'll be glad you did ... and so will she!

(To support your venture, here are three websites where you can type in her name and quickly find everything you need: www.meaning-of-names.comwww.ohbabynames.comwww.babynames.com)

Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon, and has served in that role for the past 17 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and has recently released her first book entitled, Dad, Here's What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter's Heart. She invites you to visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs, where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.

For the original article, visit drmichellewatson.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Dr. Michelle Watson) Featured Men Life Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Divorce Can Lead to Greater Risk of Heart Attack http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23963-divorce-can-lead-to-greater-risk-of-heart-attack http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23963-divorce-can-lead-to-greater-risk-of-heart-attack

Divorced women do worse than divorced men when it comes to heart health. Family therapist Linda Mintle explains why the sudden shift in lifestyle is often more stressful for women than men.

Surprisingly, the trend even extends into remarriage. When divorced men remarry, their heart health improves, but divorced women who remarry still are at high risk for heart attack.

Watch this video featuring CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson:

For the original article, visit CBN's Healthy Living blog.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Lorie Johnson/CBN News) Featured Health Life Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Doug Stringer: The Eagle Is Balding http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23975-doug-stringer-the-eagle-is-balding http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/23975-doug-stringer-the-eagle-is-balding

In late April I received the news from my doctor that I had stage 4 lymphoma. My aggressive chemotherapy treatments began on June 16, right after I returned from serving as coordinator of The Response South Carolina in Charleston. Surrounded throughout this time by the love and prayers of so many friends, my family and I are so thankful that the adverse side effects have been minimal.

One thing I have not escaped, however, is the loss of hair. It first became obvious on Friday, July 3, as I was preparing for a prayer and fasting event for our country the next day.  By the time Saturday evening came around, I had lost most of the hair on my head. But the Lord has a way of taking these kinds of circumstances and using them as "prophetic dramas," where we live out in the natural a word He is giving us in the spiritual. Our life experiences then become a life message that is bigger than ourselves, a message beyond the circumstances we've been through. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.    

After realizing the hair loss was a reality that Friday night, I felt the Lord speak to my spirit. "The eagle is balding," I said to Lisa. I was half joking, trying to make light of things. As Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart does good like a medicine." Yet I knew the Lord was also placing something in my spirit that He wanted me to share the next day.

Our National Symbol

America's national bird is the bald eagle, representing strength and courage. They have incredible eyesight, with the ability to spot predator attacks on their nests from miles away. According to the book The Eagle Story, published by Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles: How to Conquer Habits, "The eagle has exceptionally sharp vision because it has two 'fovea,' compared to only one in the human eye. The cones in an eagle's fovea are small and tightly grouped, allowing the eagle to see very small details from extreme distances. For example, an eagle can spot an object as small as a rabbit from a distance of up to two miles!"

The book goes on to explain that the eagle has two sets of eyelids: conventional eyelids as well as a pair of clear eyelids called nictitate membranes, which can be shut for protection while not inhibiting the eagle's ability to see. While some experts say that no creature can stare at the sun without going blind, others argue that the extra eyelids on the eagle allow it to look into the sun with no damage. Regardless, when feeling weak and weary, with their eyesight dimming from age, eagles will soar toward the sun to rejuvenate themselves. This is what Scripture speaks of when it says, "But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint" (Is. 40:31).

A few days before the Lord began speaking to me about the eagle, one of our intercessor friends and her husband were awakened in the night by the sound of an eagle's cry coming from the alarm of a cellphone that was not even turned on. She prayed about what God was saying to them, then wrote to me after they heard about what I shared at the July 4 meeting: "The eagle represents America," she said, adding that it also stands for rational things, instruction in truths, renewal, resurrection, the prophetic, leaders, seeing clearly and wisdom. "We believe your personal battle parallels the battle for America."

The Roots of Freedom

How disheartening it has been for so many of us who have prayed and cried out for our nation to see the highest court in the land setting itself up as god in the house of God. These are the people we trust to interpret the law, yet they have totally redefined the nation's Constitution in a manner so far from what our Founding Fathers intended. They have crossed the line, assuming to dictate to God, the highest of all authorities, what is law and what is not law. Truth is truth, no matter who tries to change it.

Our nation's first president, George Washington, said in his first inaugural address, "We have God to thank for America's birthday!" Then he said, "No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency." How things have changed.

President Ronald Reagan said this: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States, where men were free."

Like our Founding Fathers, Ronald Reagan understood that freedom naturally decays as societies expand unless people of principle defend it. That tendency has been true at every point in human history and always will be. Government has the necessary role of defending our liberty, free speech, the right to property, but virtue can become a vice when it attempts too much. We must be watchful to ensure that the government's good intentions don't become the overreach that becomes tyranny.   

We've recently seen the tyranny of overreach from the highest court of the land, so we now appeal to the greatest courts of heaven, to the most Supreme Being—the Creator of the heavens and the earth, unto whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Jesus Himself is the one we fix our eyes on. Though at times we feel weak, we know that when we wait upon the Lord, He will renew our strength. We know that when we fix our eyes on the brightness of the Son of God Himself that we will not to be blinded, but we will come back and be awakened as a church to impact the soul of our nation.

United to Save the Nation

Shortly after leaving the July Fourth prayer gathering, we received numerous encouraging messages from people who were touched by this word in season. One person wrote, "The headline in today's Houston Chronicle is, 'Nation Unites to Save Bald Eagles.'" A few days later, I went to a hospital in Clear Lake to see a young man who is also battling cancer. As we arrived and walked down the hallway, some of his family in the waiting room suddenly heard the loud shriek of an eagle and looked up to see a program on the television about bald eagles. Then they turned to see Lisa and me walking down the hallway at the same time, and they knew it was a confirmation of the July Fourth message. I believe God is using that confirmation to say He wants His church to unite to save the nation.

In 2011, Houston hosted The Response, a day of fasting and prayer for our nation, at the request of the governor of Texas. As of this writing, we have helped facilitate The Response prayer gatherings on behalf of the Governors of Louisiana, and South Carolina; and are working on gatherings in several more states.  

Who would have thought The Response South Carolina on June 13 would gather the church in South Carolina to pray in unity just four days before the tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church? The initial reaction of many who participated in that prayer gathering was disbelief that this would happen after so many came to repent and pray for their state and their nation. Yet, as we began to engage in conversation with the pastors and intercessors there, we were reminded that God's timing is perfect. 

Many leaders of various racial and denominational backgrounds in the Charleston area believe The Response was the very thing that helped them become the church unified, crossing racial, generational and denominational barriers to walk through a horrific time of racism and hatred. In fact, we did not initially intend to hold the event in Charleston, but it turned out to be God's providence. Thousands of Christians united after the tragic shooting in Charleston to become a coat of many colors, standing up for their brothers and sisters, unlike other cities where we've seen riots break loose. Even when the outside agitators came, the Church in that city said "No," and became an example for the rest of the nation. From the leadership of the AME denomination to the local congregations, the Church of Charleston sent a message to all of America on forgiveness, healing, and hope.

Of course, we only built on a foundation laid by generations of intercession that had gone before, but God allowed us to be part of a catalytic moment and to see an answer to the prayers of reconciliation and unity we had prayed just days before. The church comes in great numbers, linked arm in arm, in authentic love and unity. What the enemy intended for evil, God used for good, because the church of Charleston and South Carolina was united.

This is what God desires for His church across America. As we see the erosion and unraveling of so many of our moral foundations. He desires for His church to come together in unity and soar above the many distractions of the enemy.

A New Generation

True intercession is not just hiding in the prayer closet. It's standing in the gap between the living and the dead, like Moses and Aaron, as they grabbed the censers of incense (symbolic of intercession) and ran to stand in front of those who were perishing, begging for God to stop the plague of sin. They cried out for mercy, for God to move on behalf of their people. Likewise, many of you have prayed, some of you for decades, crying out in intercession, "God, stop the plague of sin! Stop the lies of the enemy over this nation!" God is hearing your cry. He hears the cries of His people, and He is still on the throne. He didn't bring us to such a time as this to leave us hanging.

There is a cleansing taking place. Many pastors we've looked up to and leaders in politics and business are falling and failing. But in the midst of the cleansing, God is raising up a new generation of Samuels, Esthers, and Ruths, a generation of Deborahs, Daniels, and Josephs. They are a new, prophetic generation of righteousness. Just as God exposed the sins of Hophni and Phineas and raised up Samuel as a righteous judge and voice of truth in his generation, so is He now going to expose unrighteous judges and raise up a new generation of judiciary. God is raising up prophetic voices who are not just prophesying for their own self-adulation and their own gain, but because they fear God and seek His kingdom first.

We are a generation that needs strength to come in to our destiny. We must fix our eyes on Jesus; soar on heights toward the Son. Only the brightness of His presence will reveal the greater reality and greater authority God wields. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can soar above our weakness and renew our strength. Then we can fulfill God's call and destiny in our lives and nation. God still has plans for America, if we as the church will unite to His purposes.

We cannot be informed only by what we see and hear on the news. We cannot let the circumstances around us dictate who we are. God has the final word. Who will we believe? I choose to believe the Word of the Lord. He never waivers. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

One in a Thousand

There is a spiritual cancer in America. Many leaders are experiencing an attack in the natural realm that mirrors the spiritual state of the nation. But I believe for many the sickness is a lie of the devil to distract them and the church from the spiritual war that rages over our country right now.

There are those in governmental leadership who still recognize a higher authority. Some bold and courageous men and women are rising up to speak into the very core of what's happening in our nation—like governors who are not afraid to say, "Our nation needs prayer!"

Let us not forget, however, that our nation will only be restored to its God-ordained destiny by the church uniting in intercession. When Abraham cried out for Sodom, he pleaded with God to spare the city if there was even one in a 1,000 found righteous. [NOTE: Some commentaries say there were around 10,000 people which would be one in 1,000. Other commentaries say there were around 1,000 people in Sodom.] There are still righteous men and women in our land. We must follow Abraham's lead and intercede for our nation in like manner. Only by fixing our eyes on the Son can we intercede for our nation out of love, as Abraham did.

Church, you and I are the hope of Christ to a dying world. We are God's chosen ambassadors, to be the tangible expression of Jesus, to demonstrate truth in love, a love the world does not understand. It is not a love that tramples the sacred blood of Jesus, but a love that shares the truth uncompromisingly in the spirit of grace and mercy. Only then can those who hate and oppose what we stand for see the beauty of holiness.

As I have been writing this article, several of my sons in the faith have messaged me saying God has given them a Scripture for me during their times of prayer. That Scripture is Malachi 4:2, "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings."

The Son of righteousness is rising, and He will bring healing to the nation.

Even as the eagle in its time of weakness regains its strength by soaring toward the sun, we the church—and the nation—in our time of need must fix our eyes on the Son and soar together toward the brightness of His presence. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), we can believe for awakening in the church in America and for revival to spread throughout the land.

As the nation unites to save its national bird, the bald eagle, the question we must ask is this: Will the church unite to save the nation?

Doug Stringer is the founder and president of Somebody Cares America/International. You can find him on line at dougstringer.com.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Doug Stringer) Featured Culture Life Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Why You Should Stop Putting People in a Box http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23977-why-you-should-stop-putting-people-in-a-box http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23977-why-you-should-stop-putting-people-in-a-box

I read a news story today that completely wrecked me. That's not entirely true, it was in fact the accompanying YouTube clip that turned me into a blubbering mess.

It was a story on Donald Gould and his beautiful gift of music, you can read the article and watch the clip here:

Other than the beautiful music, what struck me was the wording of this article, in particular the headline: Homeless Man Donald Gould Amazes locals with beautiful piano performance.

Oh how we love to categorize!

I get it. Headlines are meant to grab, they're meant to pique your interest, and pique it did. But leaving behind the context of media, isn't this exactly what we do in 'everyday' life?

'She's a single mom ...'
'He's a drug addict ...'
'They're alcoholics ...'
'He's been in jail ...'
'She's an adulteress ...'
'He's got cancer ...'
'She's bulimic ...'

We define by scandal.
We define by difficulty.
We take the lowest point of a person's life and if not indefinitely, at least for a time, we define them by this life stage.

Quick disclaimer: I know that my clustering of these labels may cause offense, it's not intended to. I myself have been a single mum, this certainly was not my lowest point or even a low point. For me it was the polar opposite—the ignition of redemption! It was, however, still a label people used to define me at that time. The above labels were chosen simply for example purposes only, and in no way am I trying to link or compare any of the labels to each other. A gifted or eloquent writer would be able to paint a picture for their reader without the need for clunky disclaimers. I am neither, so clunky it is.

I don't think for a even a second that there's any malice behind this kind of labeling for the majority of us who have caught ourselves (myself included) doing this. I think it's just how we relate, how we memorize. We search our memory cache and we fit people comfortably into their allotted space.

There's a few problems with this though, the glaringly obvious one being that people change!

We all have a story. We all have a complex series of events, chosen or otherwise, that have led us the place we find ourselves in today. But unless you drop dead right upon this sentence, and it is my sincere hope and prayer that you do not, your story is incomplete. There is much still unwritten!

A pregnant woman does not forever remain pregnant, nor is she described as such. She hopefully goes on to birth more of her story, to add to it, to introduce a new character, a character who will evolve, entwine, enrich, expand and add complexity to the initial story, a story that was never really initial, but instead merely the flow-on from another's story, and theirs before it, and so on.

This is how we must view our fellow journey persons; as incomplete stories, great and intricate works in progress.
After all, isn't this how we would have others view us?

I am greater than my lowest lows.
I am more than the collective sum of my mistakes.
I am more than my highest highs.

It takes divine grace to see ourselves for what we can and will be. It takes that same grace to see others the same way.

Given that I have a not-so-secret penchant for clunky, here's my rewrite of the above headline:

"Donald Gould amazes community with his musical gift, proves there's always more than meets the eye!"

What headlines will you rewrite today?

Bek Curtis is an Australian-based blogger.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Bek Curtis) Featured Women Life Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
The Secret to Healthy, Loving Relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23976-the-secret-to-healthy-loving-relationships http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23976-the-secret-to-healthy-loving-relationships

Do You Know the Most Recited Bible Verse at Weddings?  

I don't know for sure the most recited verse, but I have a pretty good idea, and I think you will agree with me, the famous love verse in 1 Corinthians 13 makes its way into a lot of summer weddings.

Although, how many people know the verse which immediately follows this Scripture? Probably not that many, and the reality is it could be the secret to long-lasting, healthy relationships. Read on to find out more!

So let's dive right into it! The verse which follows 1 Corinthians 13, says this,

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

It's not too surprising the pastor stops before this verse. Saying to "eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy" is a little out there for the light-hearted, joyous wedding.

Paul, the writer of Corinthians goes onto the say that prophecy is for the strengthening, encouragement and comfort of God's church.

In short, we are meant to speak aloud God's heart for His people, to His people.

Often prophecy can seem like a word that's only used to describe the spiritual giants of the past, or the super weird Christians of today. Yet Paul directs this verse to the whole body of Christ (that's you and me).

He is encouraging us to speak into being the truth, love, and grace we hear, sense, and feel God is saying to us. If we need to double check if it's words God would actually say, we can confirm them with Paul's checklist.

Is it strengthening, encouraging and comforting God's people?

Paul could have said anything after he unleashes the famous love chapter.

He could have said, "Follow they way of love and desire spiritual gifts, especially service."

"Follow the way of love and desire spiritual gifts, especially hope." 

"Follow they way of love and desire spiritual gifts, especially generosity."

"Follow they way of love and desire spiritual gifts, especially sacrifice.

"Follow the way of love and desire spiritual gifts, especially _______________."

Yet as Paul looked at the church and the hearts of the people (which are no different than our hearts today), he said, "If you want to pursue and press forward in the way of love, then speak truth to one another in prophecy" (MSG).

In the simplest of terms, Paul is saying...

Your VOICE is POWERFUL. It can be a weapon of love or of pain and hurt.

I recently read an article where a woman stated the verbal abuse she endured in the marriage was more painful and difficult to work through than the physical abuse.

This isn't the first time I've heard this, and I am sure you still have words that ring through your head that someone said to you years ago, maybe even decades ago.

All to say, our words carry force and the way to follow love is to keep speaking love to one another.

I wonder how many marriages would have stayed together, how many relationships would stick it out, if only they continue to follow this way of love.

Since Adam and Eve first fell in the garden, there has been a battle for our voices, whether it's collectively or individually, the enemy knows the power we carry.

Paul knew it too.

He knew when you make love your destination, then speaking truth, life and blessing becomes a natural reaction.

God used His voice to create the world, and to create us as well. He was modeling the key to our destiny and the secret to healthy relationships. To speak aloud truth, encouragement, destiny, life and, most of all, love.

And the good news is, if you have a wedding or two to attend this summer you will more than likely get a reminder of what the word of love truly means as hear 1 Corinthians 13 recited once again!

So pay attention, you might walk away with more than just a party favor!

Mikaela Kate is passionate to see YOU reach your full God-given potential! Her heart is to inspire the next generation to discover who they are and what they are made to do. There is a unique VOICE locked within you, Mikaela Kate is authorized to RELEASE it!

A speaker, writer, and coach, Mikaela Kate has invested seven years in developing leaders from college-age men and women. Conducting Bible studies, women's groups, and young adult teams she encourages others to go further and higher—taking their gifts, passions, and skills to the next level!

A graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in marketing, she discovered her love for strategic thinking, big picture ideas and meeting people where they are. These skills and passions later equipped her to plant a church with five other staff members (Veritas Church, Iowa City, Iowa). 

From there she moved to Sheffield, England, and worked as the Young Adults Leader at St. Thomas Philadelphia. While in England her passion for America grew and her desire to see her native land transformed for Jesus ignited. She sees people living out their God-given purpose as a key to the transformation of this nation. Mikaela currently lives in South Carolina and is an active member of The Father's House Church.

 

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Mikaela Kate) Featured Women Life Thu, 30 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
How Jezebel Killed One of the Greatest Revivals Ever http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23974-how-jezebel-killed-one-of-the-greatest-revivals-ever http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/23974-how-jezebel-killed-one-of-the-greatest-revivals-ever

Before Azusa Street in 1906, there was the Welsh Revival in 1904. It was one of the greatest revivals ever and perhaps the one with the most tragic end. That's because the spirit of Jezebel cut off the voice of Evan Roberts, a young man God used to set a nation on fire for God.

As history tells it, over 100,000 souls came to Jesus in Wales over the course of nine months. Hundreds of thousands more would come to know the Lord over the next couple of years—and it all started in Moriah Chapel in Loughor, South Wales where Roberts gathered with a few youth and began to pray, "Bend us! Bend us!" and eventually "Bend me! Bend me!"

"It was the very next month that Roberts had his first vision. While strolling in a garden, Evan looked up to see what seemed to be an arm outstretched from the moon, reaching down into Wales," writes Roberts Liardon, author of God's Generals. "He later told a friend, 'I have wonderful news for you. I had a vision of all Wales being lifted up to heaven. We are going to see the mightiest revival that Wales has ever known—and the Holy Spirit is coming just now. We must get ready."

Beware the Spirit of Jezebel

The pastor of his church let him start holding meetings on Oct. 31. The meetings turned into a two-week revival marked by fervent faith, strong intercession and late-night services that sometimes lasted until sunrise. Those meetings ignited a revival that spread across the world, including to Azusa Street in Los Angeles. But it wasn't long before Roberts cracked under the strain of the pressure.

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"By 1905, Roberts' mind became confused from physical and emotional exhaustion. He began hearing conflicting voices in his head and doubted his ability to distinguish the voice of the Spirit among them," Liardon writes. "He would rebuke his listeners for not being pure of heart, while he became increasingly obsessed with examining his own self for un-confessed sin. He feared most that he would be exalted instead of God and became overly critical of his audiences and church leaders."

The revival finally fizzled out in 1905 when the spirit of Jezebel operating through Jesse Penn-Lewis, a Welsh evangelical speaker and author, beguiled young Roberts. Penn-Lewis seduced and deceived the revivalist in the prime of his anointing.

Penn-Lewis, whose doctrine was largely rejected in Wales and is even now described as apostate teaching by some modern theologians, sought to ride on Roberts' coat-tails. Ironically, this Jezebelic woman flattered him with words that aimed to ease the suffering he was experiencing from the religious spirits in the midst of revival. But her smooth words didn't heal his soul. He suffered a nervous breakdown and went to live at this wealthy woman's home to recover.

"They built their new home around his needs, including a bedroom, prayer room and private stairway. It was there that the great revivalist was confined to bed for more than a year," says Liardon. "Evan became ever more isolated and reclusive as years passed. He refused to see friends, and eventually family. He allowed Penn-Lewis to dictate who he would see, and what he would do. They wrote a number of books together, the first one, War on the Saints, was published in 1913. Mrs. Penn-Lewis stated the book was birthed from six years of prayer and testing the truth. Within a year after the book was published, Roberts denounced it. He was quoted as saying it had been a 'failed weapon which had confused and divided the Lord's people.'"

Jezebel Hates Revival

Although he lived to be 72, Roberts stopped preaching in his early 20s. That's the story in brief. If you'd like to read more, check out God's Generals: Evan Roberts. The moral of the story is that Jezebel hates revival. As I've written in my book, The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel, this spirit hates the prophetic voice, but it also hates signs and wonders and miracles—and revival. Jezebel is an anti-Christ spirit that will stop at nothing to pervert the voice of God or even an entire move of God.

In an age where we're seeing a revival of the devil's witchcraft rising, it's important to discern the times and seasons. God wants to usher in a revival that's greater than the Welsh revival and Asuza Street and the Jesus People movement and the Voice of Healing movement and the charismatic movement combined. He wants to bring in the latter rain—but spirits like religion and Jezebel are opposing those with the boldness to obey God's voice.

Ultimately, God will have his way. I am believing for a Third Great Awakening. But as we move closer toward that reality, we must remain on guard for the enemies of revival. We must learn to discern the subtle operations of religion, witchcraft and Jezebel. We must root out anything in us that would give these spirits a hook in our heart. And we must contend for the freedom of others trapped in these snares.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, co-founder ofAwakeningTV.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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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jennifer LeClaire) Featured The Plumb Line Blogs Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
George O. Wood Speaks Out on Christ's Return http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23973-george-o-wood-speaks-out-on-christ-s-return http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23973-george-o-wood-speaks-out-on-christ-s-return

"But concerning that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray. For you do not know when the time will come" (Mark 13:32–33).

On the Mount of Olives facing Jerusalem, Jesus neared the end of His teaching about the future. Less than 72 hours before His crucifixion, He outlined the course of human history.

We now look back and see the remarkable accuracy of Jesus' prophecy about events that would mark all ages leading up to the end time when He would return. Disciples in all centuries would need this information that the road wouldn't be easy nor their burdens light. They would witness the growth of false religions both inside and outside the church, ethnic and social conflict, disasters in nature, and persecution against them from all sides. In spite of all the travail, Jesus knew that His story would be told throughout the whole earth and that those who endured to the end would be saved.

The news about the course of the age may be gloomy, but the future for Jesus' followers is bright. He lets us know that He will return in great power and glory with all the angels and gather His elect from the ends of the earth.

In His statement, Jesus made a clear distinction between the Father and Himself as the Son. He did not explain the nature of that relationship (that is left to other parts of God's Word), but His statements tell us there is a distinction in the midst of their unity within the Triune God. One piece of knowledge is exclusively known by the Father—the day and hour when Christ returns.

Bible scholars may disagree as to whether Jesus, in His present exaltation at the right hand of the Father, now knows. But clearly, at the time Jesus made these remarks, He didn't know.

My question is this: If even the angels do not know, and Jesus did not know, why do we have so many "date-setters" even today? You can research and discover that there have been numerous false prophecies in the past centuries where authors and so-called prophets set a date for the return of Christ. Date-setters will always be wrong; you can count on it. What we know for sure is what Jesus told us—what the course of the age would be like.

The Lord encourages and warns us to be prepared at any moment. I think of the young woman in the news recently who was at church and in an adjacent room a man was showing off his gun. It discharged. The bullet pierced the wall and the woman. She did not know the hour or the day.

It is so with us. None of us know our own time—either by death or by Christ's return. You do not know the time when He will come for you.

Jesus' concern is that we stay awake. The temptation is to be hypnotized by the cadence of everyday routine so that we forget He is always at the door. You must therefore be on guard and alert in all moments—when you are tempted to sin, to despair, to think that you have all the time in the world to correct what you have done or left undone.Today is indeed the day of salvation. Today, you might go home!

George O. Wood is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. This article is excerpted from Dr. Wood's forthcoming book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available in September from Vital Resources.

For the original article, visit georgeowood.com

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (George O. Wood) Featured Supernatural Spirit Thu, 30 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Satanist Bows to Jesus, Gets Filled With the Holy Spirit and Preaches the Gospel http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23967-satanist-bows-to-jesus-gets-filled-with-holy-spirit-and-preaches-the-gospel http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/23967-satanist-bows-to-jesus-gets-filled-with-holy-spirit-and-preaches-the-gospel

"He can make your back feel better," his mother said. And she was right. The "doctor" healed 9-year-old Pedro Ochoa's back—the excruciating pain was gone!

But this was no ordinary Honduran doctor. The man was a self-described "new age white magic" doctor—a Satan worshipper. Little did the young boy know that from that moment on, Satan had plans for Pedro's life.

Pedro's father was a businessman who traveled extensively. He divorced Pedro's mother after she had an affair. Pedro, now 14, and his two younger sisters chose to stay with her. Two months later, Pedro's mom walked out on the children, leaving Pedro in charge of his sisters and an infant cousin she had been caring for.

"I felt so vulnerable," Pedro recalls. "So incredibly hurt."

Feeling powerless to change his situation and that he needed protection from the world crashing in around him, Pedro remembered the doctor who healed him through white magic.

"When I told him about my situation, the doctor said he could help me," Pedro recalls. "He told me that he could give me power and a god who is going to care about me and make me rich. He said that I would be able to grow a lot in this religion and become so powerful that I would be invincible if I would study the materials and consecrate myself to this god."

For a young boy desperate for control in his life, the promises of the white magic doctor were just what he longed for. Pedro agreed to become a student. He went through the ritual of consecrating himself, including donning an amulet that connected him to his idol/god (the spirit world), and declaring his love for his god.

"At this time in my life, I knew Christians, but I didn't know anything about the Bible," Pedro says. "To me, Christians just worshipped a different idol or god; I didn't know that there was only one true God."

The doctor's promises, however, weren't empty. Powers soon became evident in Pedro's life. "I started training, and I began to grow in this power—I started with moving small objects with my mind—and my powers continued to grow."

But the power came at a price. "I started hearing this voice," Pedro says. "And I knew it was the devil. He would tell me that my destiny was to go to hell with him—it was the reason I was born—and to fight in this huge battle against Christ/God, who is a selfish god that wanted all the glory and praise for Himself. Satan wanted me to fight to help take back what God had stolen from him."

Pedro sank deeper and deeper into Satanism. He soon was placed in charge of a group of other teens who also desired to grow "their powers." Pedro says he was given visions about the teens, insight into their lives, making it easy to convince them to follow his lead. They held séances and spoke to the dead, they used an Ouija board regularly with great success, and they spent an inordinate amount of time in cemeteries where things went on that he prefers not to discuss.

As he reflects upon his life, Pedro says there were things he came to realize. The more into Satanism he sank, the less human he was. "I didn't cry, I didn't laugh ... I had zero feelings," he says. "Also, I would later learn that these powers I thought were mine, were actually demons working through me. I had opened doors to them and they worked to not only deceive others, but me too! But at the time, I just believed that I was superior to everyone around me."

"Everyone," that is, except for these "weird" people.

"Nothing scared me anymore," Pedro says. "My friends and I were totally in the darkness. But every now and then a weird person would walk by. I knew nothing about God, but these people made me scared. I didn't want to be close to them. I wanted to run away from them—there was something shining on them ... it was just too shiny for me, to the point that I couldn't even look at them!"

Pedro says that he would later learn that these people weren't just Christians by name, but people who had the fire of the living God within them—and he feared them for reasons he did not understand.

And although Pedro didn't know it at the time, his battle with Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit was going to take place much sooner than he imagined.

Now a freshman in college, Pedro found himself in a U.S. English class with an older teacher who was one of those "on fire" Christians. Pedro wanted to turn in a paper late, but the teacher denied him, saying he would fail—but if Pedro would attend his Saturday meeting he held in the class each week, he could turn in his paper after that.

The meeting? A Bible study!

"That Saturday, the moment I crossed the gate into the college, something hit my spirit—it was scary, like I was about to die," Pedro says. "My body started shaking and I wasn't even close to the room yet, and the closer I got, the worse I felt ... it was like this crazy scared thing moving inside of me, from my head to my feet ... it's hard to put into words how scared I was. I was sweating and felt like I was going crazy. It wasn't a human scared, it was all the demonic power and devils living in me who were scared to come into the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, ... but I didn't know that then, all I knew was I wanted to run fast and far away from that place."

Pedro attempted to turn his paper in and leave, but the teacher refused the paper, saying he would need to sit through the meeting.

"They started to talk about God, the Bible, the Son of the Living God, the ABCs of salvation, the Cross," Pedro says. "I was listening, but fighting with stuff inside of me. But the words started to hit me. God loved me; died on the cross for me; He was not against—he wanted to rescue me!"

As the meeting concluded, the group stood to sing a song and the teacher began to pray for each person. As he prayed, people began to fall to the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit. Pedro knew he was in the presence of some kind of supernatural power as people were falling to the cement floor, but not getting hurt.

Then the teacher came to Pedro.

"We were eye-to-eye when he began to pray and boom! It was like an explosion," Pedro says. "I fell to the ground, but it felt like falling on a bed. My body began to shake like crazy. I felt this power like electricity going through my head, feet, legs, hands. I knew this was my last day on earth. I remember thinking I can't receive this kind of power—it was too much, my body is going to explode! It was so strong, I couldn't resist, like millions of volts in my body."

Pedro began to yell loudly as he felt the moment of his death approaching—whatever "it" was, was killing him.

But he didn't die.

"I suddenly realized I could breathe," Pedro says. "Then this voice came into my mind and kept repeating, 'God is real! God is alive! Jesus is real! God is touching you now!' I started to cry like a baby. I opened my eyes and in that moment I realized that the power that was in me was nothing compared to the power of God, which was now touching my soul. I realized I was on the wrong side of the line—I didn't want to fight against God, I didn't want to be an enemy of God."

Pedro stayed on the floor as the powers of darkness drained from him and the Holy Spirit worked in him. After some time, the teacher returned, helped him sit up, then prophesied over him that for the next three days, he wouldn't be able to sleep as the Lord wanted to speak with him.

It was as the teacher prophesied. For three days, Pedro did not sleep. "Those three days shaped my life," Pedro says. "God revealed Himself to me, explaining things to me, helping me to understand His power, and how I was now coming to the light, the side of God."

Pedro moved to Miami not long after his salvation experience. He says he could no longer hang around with his old friends, because when he was in the same room, their efforts to contact "the dead" no longer worked. About six years ago, Pedro, who worked in television, moved to Peoria, Illinois, to assist a church in developing television programming.

He is now the director of evangelism at Hilltop Campus Church, an Assemblies of God U.S. Missions Chi Alpha Campus Ministries church plant near several colleges and universities in Peoria, Illinois. Ironically Pedro, who is now 34, spends time mentoring young people to grow in their prayer lives and experience the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.

"Christians need to understand how powerful the name of Jesus is," Pedro says. "When Jesus is 100 percent in our lives, we are so powerful against the enemy. Nothing is comparable to the power of Jesus—remember, the devil and all the darkness is limited because they are creations, not the Creator. Those who serve Satan can yell and say things, but inside they are scared, shaking, and wanting to run!"

Although Pedro says that early on he would battle with Satan's attempts to reclaim his life, the Holy Spirit remained his constant companion. Through prayer, Pedro even rejected the healing the Honduran "white magic" doctor performed on his back, which resulted in several years of pain for Pedro before God stepped in and performed His own healing. "That healing I had as a child was Satan's hold on my life," Pedro explains. "When I renounced it through prayer, my struggles with Satan were lifted."

Pedro says he never intended to share his testimony, as he was deeply ashamed of his past life. But through the encouragement of Hilltop Campus Church interim pastor and AG U.S. missionary Dale Crall, Pedro, now the Holy Spirit-controlled follower of Christ, has begun to open up about his experiences.

"Pedro is one of the most spiritually discerning and truth-living Christlike believers I've ever met," Crall states. "He is highly favored of God and is gifted in everything he does. He brings God's presence in all he does."

"One of my burning desires is that Christian people can know the power of God's Word and live in the reality that God is real and close to us," Pedro says. "That when you walk into a room, people can feel the presence of the Lord with you—it will change your life, and may change their lives too!"

 

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Dan Van Veen/PE News) Featured Evangelism & Missions Spirit Thu, 30 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
One Reason You May Not Be Getting Healed http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23970-one-reason-you-may-be-getting-healed http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23970-one-reason-you-may-be-getting-healed

People suffer spiritually, emotionally, and physically from a lack of knowledge. A deficiency of knowledge, especially in God's Word, is destructive. God says through His prophet in Hosea 4:6a, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." He goes on to say that His people even reject it. They are unaware that everything that manifests in the physical world is an irrefutable result of spiritual occurrences around them. When it comes to partaking of the Word of God, many are malnourished.

They do not have the substance to live victoriously. This insufficiency of the supernatural power of God causes great damage to the body of Christ. It hinders God's miraculous intervention to reach His people. God wants us to understand His supernatural ways. And according to John 16:13 in the Amplified Version of the Bible, He sends His Truth-giving Spirit to guide us into all truth, including the revelation knowledge of the supernatural. Jesus shares the power source of this truth in John 8:31-32. He says, "If you remain in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

A woman in Los Angeles, CA was so bound from arthritis that she could not walk, stand, sit, or lie down without nonstop intense pain. There was no doctor, medicine, treatment, or therapy that could relieve her from this pain. This woman lived a life of misery, and lost her will to live.

The message of this particular healing service was about the power of forgiveness. And the truth of the Word that she heard me speak witnessed on the inside of her. Her friends carried her to the altar. When I saw her I asked her if she was ready to forgive the person that had hurt her. She said yes, she was ready.

She prayed, "Father God, forgive me for not dealing with my anger properly, and allowing it to turn into bitterness. I forgive my husband for his unfaithfulness, and I release him from my vengeance. And in doing so, I am free from the sin of bitterness and the physical effects it has on my body, and I can now boldly stand before Your throne of grace and make my petition for healing made known. I am free to receive Your healing power in me, in Jesus' name I pray, amen."

Instantly, she was released from the hideous results of bitterness, and her body was healed and made whole. In that moment as she stood before His throne of grace, her body straightened out, all the pain and swelling were gone, and her strength was returned.

She looked up at me and said, "The message is true, and I am free!"

The truth that this woman needed to hear was that of forgiveness. It was the key to unlock her healing and deliverance from arthritis that was destroying her body from the inside to the outside.

The Word of God says that bitterness dries up the bones (see Prov. 17:22).

What's inside the bones? Marrow. What is bone marrow? According to Medical News Today, "Bone marrow is soft, gelatinous tissue that fills the medullary cavities - the centers of bones. There are two types of bone marrow: red bone marrow (also known as myeloid tissue) and yellow bone marrow (fatty tissue).

"Both types of bone marrow are highly vascular and enriched with numerous blood vessels and capillaries.

"The bone marrow makes more than 200 billion new blood cells every day. Most blood cells in the body develop from cells in the bone marrow."

In simpler terms, marrow is a gelatin like fluid, and it produces red and yellow bone marrow. The red bone marrow helps your body produce blood, by making red blood cells. What's in the blood? Life is in the blood.

The Bible tells us that bitterness dries up the bones. It zaps the very life out of a person. I have seen in healing line after healing line when people suffering from arthritis will forgive those that have done them wrong, and release them from their bitterness that they are most often instantly healed and made whole. There is power to heal in forgiveness.

This is no coincidence, the Word of God is truth, and it clearly says concerning these matters:

  • "A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22).

  • "For if you forgive men for their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men for their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins" (Matt. 6:14-15).

  • "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you. And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Eph. 4:31-32).

  • "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was in every sense tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:15-16).

Steps to Forgiveness

  • Make a quality decision today to forgive by faith.
  • Repent from bitterness.
  • Release the person that hurt you from your vengeance.
  • And stand boldly before the throne of grace and ask the Father for what you have need of in Jesus' name.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
What You Really Need to Know About the Gifts of the Spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23906-what-you-really-need-to-know-about-the-gifts-of-the-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/23906-what-you-really-need-to-know-about-the-gifts-of-the-spirit

The gifts of the Spirit are supernatural and they "come upon" a believer suddenly in what is known as a "manifestation of the Holy Spirit." They flow through a yielded, obedient servant of God.

They have nothing to do with human ability, natural talent or learned behavior. God never intended to accomplish the work of the church through human effort, but through believers endowed with special spiritual qualifications whom the Spirit could direct and through whom He could work. The gifts are not "extras" or bonuses for those who are super spiritual. They are essential operations in a properly functioning body of believers.

First Corinthians 12:4-11 lists the traditional nine gifts of the Spirit:

  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Gifts of healings
  • Working of miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Discerning of spirits
  • Different kinds of tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not carefully planned actions or well thought out words. Neither are they natural abilities to be used at a believer's discretion. The gifts of the Spirit are the divine tools or equipment that God gives to believers so that they will be effective witnesses for Christ.

The gifts of the Spirit are "part of the package" believers receive when they are filled with the Holy Spirit. We could picture them as being in a toolbox that the Holy Spirit hands us when we are filled with the Spirit, i.e., receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They are the "tools" that will get the job done as God intended. These gifts, like the tools in a toolbox, may require instruction as to their correct use, and those who are proficient in their use can help the beginner.

The gifts of the Spirit are not the same as the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his followers after his death on the cross and His resurrection. "When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit' " (John 20:22). Then, just before he was taken up in a cloud and ascended to heaven, He told His followers not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the Promise of the Father ... "but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now ... you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses ..." (Acts 1:5-8). The gifts (tools) we receive are "power tools."

Gifts are the "shining forth" of Him who is within the believer.

Verna Linzey is the author of The Gifts of the Spirit, published by Creation House and from which this was excerpted. She is also an evangelist and a Bible translator. 

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Verna Linzey) Featured Supernatural Spirit Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
How to Find the Funny in Fatherhood http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23903-how-to-find-the-funny-in-fatherhood http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23903-how-to-find-the-funny-in-fatherhood

Dads come from many different backgrounds, and we're in various stages of life and relationships. Some of us are in our 20s; others are pushing 50.

We might be married, single or divorced. Our kids range in age from infants to teenagers, and some of us are granddads. Some of us grew up in single-parent households, and some had both parents at home.

Despite all the differences, and regardless of who you are and where you came from, fatherhood is a state of mind. What matters is that you are there. And as we all know, being there isn't always easy. Often, that's where the comedy comes in.

It's like that fated call on an airplane: "Is there a doctor on board?" Sometimes situations with your kids call for a jester to save the moment— and that's where you come in.

Baby wipes are important, but trust us, a sense of humor comes in very handy when dealing with a poop explosion. It's also very useful when handling a whole new set of questions from your prepubescent son within earshot of your entire family, or when you're just managing a kid's tantrum. Life with kids is full of these chaotic moments, and without humor, these trying experiences can quickly become overwhelming.

Remembering to see the humor in stressful times is not easy. Pressures from the outside are constant. As bad as those are, more often than not, we (because of our manly pride and need to be the "strong father figure") add to that stress.

Sometimes it's not easy to see the funny when the bacon you worked so hard to bring home falls on the floor and is eaten by the dog. Sometimes it's not laugh-out-loud funny when you can't get your kids ready for school on time despite detailed written instructions from their mom. Sometimes the teenager with attitude isn't material for a sitcom, but more like a real-life knot that is difficult, if not impossible, to untangle.

All these things can be funny because they're messy and imperfect. And imperfection is often funny because it's human. So, in that moment when you want to run outside and do a primal scream because of something your child just did, look at it as the makings of a hilarious story you can tell your friends at the next poker game or golf outing.

A healthy sense of humor doesn't necessarily come naturally; it's a muscle you can exercise like any other. But as a dad, humor can really come in handy and help you make the most of those little (and sometimes big) wins along the weird fatherhood trip you are taking. Wins like the insane laughter with snot pouring out your kids' noses, or the times when you come home to cries of "Daddy!" and get mugged as you enter the house, and pull a muscle in your back. Or it could be the kid who "larts" (a combination laugh/fart).

The point is, fatherhood demands that you have a sense of the absurd, a sense of humor, and an ability to laugh at yourself and at life. It's not always easy. Sometimes, it's almost impossible. But, as long as you have breath in your body, you can use that breath to laugh.

Marc Kaye is a comedian, writer and songwriter who performs regularly in the greater NYC area and has produced various web series, movie shorts and skits. He is a dad of two, a member of The Dads of Comedy and he blogs regularly about comedy, parenthood and his ongoing quest to quiet the never ending chatter in his mind. You can follow him on Twitter @MarcKaye1 and on his blog here.

For the original article, visit fathers.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Marc Kaye & Alex Barnett) Featured Men Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Experimental Drug Found Effective in Slowing Alzheimer's http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23865-experimental-drug-found-effective-in-slowing-alzheimer-s http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23865-experimental-drug-found-effective-in-slowing-alzheimer-s

Patients with mild Alzheimer's disease who took Eli Lilly's experimental drug solanezumab early in the course of their disease preserved more of their cognitive and functional ability, according to new Lilly data released on Wednesday.

Lilly presented new follow-up data from two large trials of the infused medicine on Wednesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in Washington.

Researchers and investors have been keen to see if the results would firm up solanezumab as a lead contender to be the first treatment to effectively slow progression of the memory-robbing disease.

In 2012, the original 18-month studies of solanezumab, called Expedition and Expedition 2, each included about 1,000 patients with mild to moderate disease. The drug failed to slow cognitive declines or loss of abilities of daily living for the entire patient population.

But when Lilly analyzed results only for mild patients, the data suggested solanezumab caused a significant 34 percent slowdown in mental decline and an 18 percent slowdown in loss of functional abilities compared to placebo, researchers said.

To better assess whether mildly impaired patients benefit from the drug, Lilly extended its two trials by another two years and only enrolled those with mild disease. 

Researchers continued to provide solanezumab to patients who had taken it during the studies and also allowed patients who had been given placebos to switch over to solanezumab.

Lilly had previously reported that after the first six months of the extension study, patients who had taken solanezumab all along continued to show a greater benefit than those who switched to the drug later.

Company researchers on Wednesday said that difference remained statistically significant 12 months into the extension trial and continued to a lesser degree at two years.

"Visually, when you look at a graph, the two patient groups are seen as parallel lines," in terms of different cognition and functional abilities, said Hong Liu-Seifert, a research adviser at Lilly. "And we continued to see the two lines remain parallel to each other" over the two year extension.

Lilly said solanezumab was well tolerated during the extension study, having similar safety to that seen in earlier trials. 

But cardiac events were seen more frequently in the initial trials among patients taking solanezumab than in the placebo group, an issue that will be examined closely in a newer and larger trial called Expedition 3 that is now underway.

Should solanezumab prove successful in that 2,100-patient study of patients with mild Alzheimer's, within several years it could become the first approved drug to slow the course of the disease affecting 5 million Americans, Lilly officials said.

John Boris, an analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, estimates it has potential to capture more than $10 billion in annual sales and boost Lilly earnings for years to come.

Company shares have jumped 24 percent so far this year, compared with average 12 percent gains for other large drugmakers, largely on faith in solanezumab.

Lilly's Extension 3 study will only enroll patients shown by brain imaging tests to have beta amyloid brain plaques, and thus Alzheimer's rather than other types of dementia. Lilly estimates 25 percent of patients in the failed earlier Expedition studies actually had no beta amyloid deposits, and therefore would not have benefited from solanezumab.

PROTEIN BLOCKING
Solanezumab works by blocking formation of a protein called beta amyloid believed to cause toxic brain plaques that are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer's.

Eric Siemers, medical director for Lilly's Alzheimer's team, said if solanezumab can slow disease progression by roughly a third, as it did in the first two Phase III trials, that would be very meaningful to patients.

"In 18 months of treatment with solanezumab, patients could delay six months worth of progression" of Alzheimer's, he said. "That gives you more opportunity to do things that are important to you, before you progress into later stages of the disease."

Siemers said beta amyloid is believed to build up in the brain for 10 or 15 years and steadily kill neurons before Alzheimer's symptoms appear.

Patients who took solanezumab from the start of earlier studies may have preserved many brain cells, he speculated, while those that began taking it later were not protected for the initial period. "They can't get those brain cells back; they are gone forever."

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Thomson Reuters) Featured Health Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Are You Afraid of the Future? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23909-are-you-afraid-of-the-future http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/23909-are-you-afraid-of-the-future

Fear is all around us.

It penetrates and saturates our culture as water does a sponge. We read it in the headlines every morning. We hear it on the news every night.

We feel it in our bones, in our muscles and in our hearts.

Yes, we feel it in our hearts.

But, it doesn't have to be this way. Throughout the Scriptures, God continually commands us not to fear. It's interesting, isn't it, that He gives us a command?  A command from God implies that we are able to obey it.

So, why are we afraid? I would propose that we are afraid because we do not know God.

God is love, and in Him there is never anything to fear. Scripture tells us that "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). God, who is Perfect Love, will drive out fear every time. But here is the clincher: We must trust Him and believe Him when He says that there is nothing to fear for those of us who know Him.

The bottom line is that we get rid of fear by getting to know God intimately. Here is His promise to us found in Isaiah 26:3: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

The antidote for fear: is to keep our minds fixed on God. And why do we keep our minds fixed on God? It's because we trust in Him. And why do we trust Him? It's because He is God and perfectly trustworthy!

Are you struggling with fear today? Then turn your eyes toward Jesus and keep looking into His beautiful face. Keep your thoughts fixed on Him. As you do, His peace will drive out every fear.

Dr. Maryann Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults, including the book You Were Made for Greatness. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com or at her blog here.

For the original article, visit cwgministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (MaryAnn Diorio) Featured Spiritual Growth Spirit Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
The First Step to Move From Victim to Victory http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23961-the-first-step-to-move-from-victim-to-victory http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23961-the-first-step-to-move-from-victim-to-victory

The most challenging aspect of being a survivor of abuse is loneliness. Survivors often don't speak of what they've been through not only because of the shame attached but because it can feel as if no one else understands.

Survivors don't want to be looked at differently yet what they've been through IS different than someone who hasn't been abused in any way and their struggle can be a daily battle with conflicting emotions. Rarely does a survivor feel they can trust their own emotions because they've been told they don't matter, to stifle them, or what they feel is wrong.

Hopeful Hearts Ministry is dedicated to help give a VOICE to survivors of abuse. To be the avenue in which they can find their voice with others who have gone through the same struggles with emotions, insecurities and fears. You are not alone.

I've been struggling lately with being able to trust my feelings. Should I feel this way? Do I have a right to feel this way? How do I handle feeling this way? Am I acting like a victim because I feel this way?

That's the worst, to have overcome so much and then to fear being lumped back into the "victim" mentality. The reality is when we face and voice the emotions (even the self-pitied, selfish ones) it shows you aren't a victim, that you are recognizing the pain (especially if it's irrational) and working through it.

A victim relishes their pain, swims in the pit of despair and can not see beyond their sorrow. They don't want to talk it out and have anyone in that pit because it's only big enough for one. They don't seek prayer or guidance out of the pit. They'd rather decompose in misery.

It is a choice. To be a victim or to be a survivor. We didn't have the choice of what was done to us but we certainly have the choice to overcome or remain in the pit dug by the perpetrator(s).

Survivors, you know who you are—you are reading this and saying to yourself "I don't ever want to be in that pit again because it is a pitiful place to be." But sometimes it is hard to not feel loneliness at times when our insecurities, shame or fears flare. Unfortunately, life will deal other blows that cause the flare up, but be encouraged!

Remember who you are—God's wondrous masterpiece! (Eph.2:10); what you've overcome—Victorious! (1 Cor. 15:57); and your strength—I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength! (Phil. 4:13). The old feelings might arise, but you are a made new! Jesus said, "I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).

And remember, you are not alone. Write me any time ... I'll listen.

Shannon is the author of EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry, an advocacy non-profit organization (501 c3) giving a VOICE to survivors of abuse.  She is a featured columnist with Choose-Now Ministries.com  "Shannon Deitz: On Hope",  has been featured on catholiclane.com, Lifestyle & Charity magazine and Catholic Women's magazine. She and her husband, Neal, live in Kingwood, Texas, where they are active in their local church and community. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Seth, who provide them with endless joy and reason to continually count their blessings.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Shannon Dietz) Featured Women Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How God Intervenes http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23960-how-god-intervenes http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23960-how-god-intervenes

Tragedy here. Tragedy there. Tragedy everywhere. This is how it seems sometimes.

In the old days, you could decide to not turn on the television and probably avoid the news. That's not the case anymore. There are headlines here, there and everywhere.

Discouragement can set in.

As a believer in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ, I don't want to be discouraged.

I believe what God's Holy Word declares about Him. He is on the throne. He is omnipotent—He has unlimited authority and power. Nothing surprises Him. He intervenes when He wants to.

Scripture encourages me. Scripture reminds me that God intervenes. I need to remember this today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. He is active and aware and not wringing His hands worried about what His people are or aren't doing.

The book of Esther has some of my favorite truths about God intervening.

In Esther 2:1-9 we learn that Esther was "lovely in form and features." God intervened because only beautiful women could be in the harem from which the new queen would be chosen. God also intervened because Esther won Hegai's favor. He was the king's eunuch in charge of the women.

In 2:17 we learn Esther was chosen to be the queen. This changed everything. Any number of women could have been chosen. God intervened.

Another evidence of God intervening is found in Esther 2:21-23. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, who raised her when she was orphaned, "just happened" to be in the right place at the right time to learn that some men were plotting to kill the king. As a result, he was able to save the king's life. This, too, changed everything.

I realize you may not be following me well if you're not familiar with the fascinating story of Esther and Mordecai. I encourage you to read this short Old Testament book. You'll find other evidence that God intervenes.

Allow God's Word to encourage you. Be reminded that God is active and involved. Also, allow your life to encourage you. I think it's impossible to not remember times when God showed up and made a positive difference.

God intervenes. Pray expectantly! Watch optimistically! Let's not be discouraged.

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Dr. Kathy Koch) Featured Women Life Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Three Relationships Every Christian Needs http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23959-three-relationships-every-christian-needs http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/23959-three-relationships-every-christian-needs

When Jesus began His ministry, He did not rent a coliseum for an evangelistic campaign, start a mailing list, or put billboards all over Jerusalem announcing His healing ministry. No, the first thing He did was assemble a group of close followers.

He called them His friends.

Mark 3:14 says Jesus appointed the Twelve "so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach." Notice that His relationship with them was not just about the work of ministry. He was not just calling followers to perform a task. He was not a foreman employing hired hands. He wanted their fellowship first—and then he would let them preach out of what they learned from Him.

Jesus is all about relationships. And He specifically told His disciples that He didn't want this relationship to be performance based. He said: "No longer do I call you slaves ... but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).

In many parts of the church we've forgotten about the essential need for fellowship and tried to build the church without it. We developed a sterile church model that is event-driven and celebrity-focused rather than genuinely relational.

We build theater-style buildings where crowds listen to one guy talk. The crowds are quickly whisked out of the sanctuary to make room for the next group. Many of these people never process with anyone else what they learned, never join a small group and never receive any form of one-on-one discipleship.

Because we lack relationships today, we have tried to fill the void with technology. We think if we can create a wow factor with cool video clips, 3-D sermons and edgy worship bands, the crowds will scream for more. I don't think so. Trendy can quickly become shallow.

I've had enough of this sterile religion. I've learned that ministry is not about getting big crowds, filling seats, tabulating response cards or eliciting raucous applause. It's not about running on the church-growth treadmill. Religion that focuses on externals cannot produce life. If our faith does not flow out of relationship with God, and result in deep relationships with others, then it is a poor imitation of New Testament Christianity.

Do you need to go deeper in your relationships? I tell Christians all over the world that they need three kinds of relationships in their lives, apart from family relationships:

1. "Pauls" are spiritual fathers and mothers you trust. All of us need older, wiser Christians who can guide us, pray for us and offer counsel. My mentors have encouraged me when I wanted to quit, and propelled me forward when I lost sight of God's promises. In the journey of faith, you do not have to feel your way in the dark. God gave Ruth a Naomi, Joshua a Moses and Esther a Mordecai. You can ask the Lord for a mentor to help guide and coach you.

2. "Barnabases" are spiritual peers who are close, bosom friends. They know everything about you, yet they love you anyway. They are also willing to correct you, bluntly if necessary! They provide accountability in areas of personal temptation. They offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. And they will stay up all night praying for you when you face a crisis.

Everybody should know the benefit of Proverbs 18:24: "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." But you cannot find faithful friends without seeking to be one first. Don't wait for your Barnabas to come to you—go and find him.

3. "Timothys" are the younger Christians you are helping to grow. Jesus never told us to assemble crowds, but He did command us to make disciples. Relational discipleship takes a lot of time and energy, but investing your life in others is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. Once you have poured your life into another brother or sister and watched them mature in Christ, you will never settle for superficial religion again.

Like Paul, we must go out and find our Timothys. We must invest in them personally. It's not about preaching to them; they want a relationship with us that is genuine. They want spiritual moms and dads who are approachable, accepting, affirming and empowering. If we don't mentor them now, there won't be anyone running alongside us when it's time to pass our baton.

The Christian life is a vibrant, love relationship with God—but it doesn't end there. I pray you will open your heart and invest in the people around you.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter @leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies Men Believe and other books. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org.

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (J. Lee Grady) Featured Fire in My Bones Blogs Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Jesus Wasn't Liked by Some, but He Was Likeable http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/23908-jesus-wasn-t-liked-by-some-but-he-was-likeable http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/step-out-of-the-boat/23908-jesus-wasn-t-liked-by-some-but-he-was-likeable

My post last week, "Are You a Likeable Christian," received a pretty decent response and sparked some strong debate. To refresh your memory, I wrote to extol the virtues of my friend Justin Lathrop's new book, The Likeable Christian.

While some people agreed with my assessment of the subject, I'm afraid many misunderstood the point. Please allow me to elaborate.

One reader posted on Facebook, "When you preach the truth you will not be liked ... when called, you are not here for a popularity contest. It is written you will be hated for my name sake. Those drawn to you are done so by the will of God. Truly loving others is a willingness to endure for His names sake and preaching in places where you will not be liked ... but are needed. Are we to seek approval from people?"

The reader quoted Galatians 1:10, which says, "For am I now seeking the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? For if I were still trying to please men, I would not be the servant of Christ."

The Scripture is 100 percent correct. No, we should not seek the approval of men, and we should not seek to be liked. Jesus did not seek anyone's approval, and he was not liked by everyone. He was even hated by some. Anyone who reads the Bible knows that.

Another reader posted on our charismamag.com message board, "'Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man" (‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:22), and, 'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first' ‭‭(John‬ ‭15:18,‬ ‭NIV). Neither of these would impress me that Christ was likeable."

Jesus Christ wasn't likeable? I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case.

The point that many are missing is that is there is a huge difference between being "likeable" and being "liked." Jesus didn't care about being liked, but He did care about being "likeable." That is the trait that we should all aspire to.

Jesus wasn't liked by some; and why was that? It was because of the hardness of those people's hearts, not His. The Pharisees' hearts were not focused on the good of the people. Their hearts were focused on themselves and how the public perceived them.

That resulted in their hatred of Jesus. But that doesn't mean Jesus wasn't likeable. If we are likeable, then people are more apt to be drawn to us and will listen to what we have to say. There are those who will not like what we have to say, and therefore will not like us. We shouldn't care about that. We need to keep preaching the gospel as instructed and portray Christlike character, which is that of a "likeable"—and loving—person.

The simple message: Be a Christ follower who is pleasant to be around. Smile. Laugh. Don't repel people with self-righteous venom. Be compassionate. Give of yourself—including your time and your finances.

And even if your points are factual and valid, don't try to be right all of the time. It's annoying. Believe me—I've been there.

Some people may not like what I write, but that's OK with me. I believe my words are said with a loving heart and I am doing what the Lord wants me to do. Jesus' rebukes were said in love and some hated Him. If that's the case with me, I'm in good company.

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

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Shawn A. Akers) Featured Step Out of the Boat Blogs Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
How Can We Know That We Are Saved? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/23910-how-can-we-know-that-we-are-saved http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/560-evangelism/23910-how-can-we-know-that-we-are-saved

While in Ontario, Canada, Sue and I passed two Jehovah's Witness women standing on a busy street corner with racks of books and pamphlets they were giving to those passing by. As we passed, I felt a compassionate drawing toward them and so retraced my steps and politely opened a conversation with them.

I began by asking them how, according to their church, a person can know they are saved and will go to heaven. The one who was obviously the leader answered that we cannot know if we are saved until we die. She then quoted the words of Jesus, "He who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matt. 24:13).

I responded with the question, "Does that mean that at the end of our life if our good works outweigh our bad works, we will be OK?" She replied, "Yes." I then asked, "So what was the need for Jesus to come and die for our sins?" They did not have an answer.

The conversation then turned to who Jesus is when they mentioned the name "Jehovah." I asked, "Do you believe Jesus is Jehovah?" She answered with an emphatic "No!" (Jehovah Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel). I then asked, "Why then did Jesus receive worship from people?"

I went on to say, "In the Old Testament only God is to be worshipped and it would be blasphemous for anyone, even an angel, to receive worship, but Jesus allowed people to worship Him." I then quoted John 8:58, where Jesus identified Himself with God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and identified Himself as I Am. I pointed out that Jesus said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was I Am," and that the Jews then attempted to stone Him for blasphemy.

At this point the leader politely brought the conversation to a close. I exhorted them to "follow Jesus" and went on my way with a sense of knowing I had obeyed the Lord and borne witness to His name.

Since then, I have thought on their human-centered concept of salvation that if our good works outweigh our bad works, we will be OK. The Bible, however, is very clear that we have already been weighed in God's balance and found wanting. What God said to of the Babylonian King Belshazzar is true of the entire human race, You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.

The human race in general, and every individual in particular, has been weighed in God's balance and found wanting. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," Paul said in Romans. 3:23. "All we like sheep have gone astray," the prophet Isaiah said, "We have turned, every one, to his own way" (Is. 53:6).

The whole world stands guilty before a righteous and holy God. God would have been righteous and just to have sent every one of us to hell. Not a single angel would have protested. John makes this point when he said that the one who does not believe in Christ is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This sense of guilt before God is innate in human beings. This is why humans are incurably religious. Everywhere you go, people are religious and are seeking to assuage that innate sense of guilt with a religion of works or by hiding within a group, like these two with whom I conversed.

God, however, does not offer "group" salvation. Every individual, whether a pope or a pauper, must deal personally with God. All are alike in His sight. He is not impressed with human pomp and circumstance. The ground is level at the cross.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul said, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ , that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

The good news is that we can have assurance of our salvation, not based on what we have done, but based on what He has done. We do not have to wait until the end of our life to know if we are saved. Here are five ways to be sure:

1. We realize that we have already been weighed in heaven's balances and found wanting. Know that you already stand naked, guilty and condemned before a righteous and holy God.

2. Flee to Christ. Put your faith completely in Him. Do not try to hide in a group or church. Lay hold of Christ by faith and take Him as your personal Savior and Deliverer.

3. As you put your trust completely in Him there will come an assurance in your heart. The old time Methodists called it the "inner witness," based on Paul's words in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."

4. Walk in faith every day. Your life will not be perfect, but it will be different. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Trust Him every day for His strength and power to be a living witness to others of His mercy and grace as He promised in Acts 1:8.

5. As you walk with Him in faith each day, that inner sense of assurance will grow until you will know that you know that you are saved as much as you know your own identity. You will have no doubt that if you died today you would immediately go to be with Him.

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, revivalist and Bible teacher. His latest book, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, is available from Amazon. You can read about his vision for America and another Great Awakening by visiting his website at eddiehyatt.com. 

For the original article, click here.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Eddie L. Hyatt) Featured Evangelism Evangelism & Missions Spirit Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Jumping Off the Deep End http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23917-jumping-off-the-deep-end http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23917-jumping-off-the-deep-end

I remember the city pool I used to frequent when I was a kid. I loved that pool, and I spent many hours there every summer. One of my favorite things to do was jump off the high dive. That diving board was at least a hundred feet up in the air. You had to gather your courage just to climb the ladder and walk out to the end of the diving board. Then, you had to muster up some serious courage in order to take the leap off the end of the board, into the water that waited for you a mile below.

Even though I was a good swimmer, and even though I'd gone off that board a million times, I still felt that shiver of fear when I got ready to jump. So I can understand why my kids, who are still learning to swim, are afraid of jumping off the side of the pool and into their swim instructor's waiting arms. It's scary. Sure, the teacher says she'll catch you, but will she really? Or might you somehow go under water? Like all the way, with even your head under?

As I watched my children's instructor trying to coax them to jump to her in the water, I thought about how much we moms are sometimes like my children. We fear entering something that might be dangerous. So we stand there, arms outstretched, bouncing a little, but afraid to get our whole body into the jump and leap forward, because we're afraid we'll go under. We're afraid He won't really be there when we hit the water's surface. After all, bad things happen sometimes in life, right? Even to good people. So how do we know we can trust God to be there for us when we really need Him?

Or perhaps we've been pushed off the edge of the pool by someone's death or by tragedy, and we're desperately hoping someone will be there to catch us and help us keep our head above water. Will God meet us? Or will we drown?

Those are honest, heart-wrenching questions, and they deserve an honest answer. The answer is this: Yes, sometimes bad things happen to us. Sometimes, when we leap into the pool, we do go under. But it's not because God is simply standing by, arms crossed, not even trying to catch us. If that's what we think, we're badly mistaken. No, when we jump into the pool, God is standing there with His arms reaching for us, ready to catch us as we begin to fall. And if we go under, He goes under with us, holding us tightly in His arms.

God didn't promise that we'll never have trouble, but He did promise to go through everything with us. He also promised that our trials won't overwhelm us. Yes, sometimes they seem overwhelming, and relief takes forever in coming. Sometimes, it doesn't come until heaven. But it will come. We'll shake the water droplets from our hair and wipe them from our eyes, and we'll realize we've made it. God has safely brought us through one more time. And then, I imagine we'll do what my children always do when I catch them when they jump—we'll cling tightly to the One who saved us and rest our head on His shoulder. He'll set us back on dry land, and going under will have become only a memory—a memory, and a testimony to the grace of God in bringing us through.

Isaiah 43:2—"When you pass through waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame kindle on you."

John 16:33—"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world."

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Megan Breedlove) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why Satan Loves Detached Believers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23899-why-satan-loves-detached-believers http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23899-why-satan-loves-detached-believers

A church family will help keep you from backsliding.

None of us are immune to temptation. Given the right situation, you and I are capable of any sin.

God knows this, so He has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track.

The Bible says, "But exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13).

"Mind your own business" is not a Christian phrase!

We are called and commanded to be involved in each other's lives. If you know someone who is wavering spiritually right now, it is your responsibility to go after him and bring him back into the fellowship.

James tells us, "Brothers, if any one of you strays from the truth and someone corrects him,let him know that he who converts the sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19).

A local church also provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives the shepherd leader the responsibility to guard, protect, defend and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock (Acts 20:28-29; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; Heb. 13:7).

We are told, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. Let them do this with joy and not complaining, for that would not be profitable to you" (Heb. 13:17b).

Satan loves detached believers, unplugged from the life of the body, isolated from God's family, and unaccountable to spiritual leaders, because he knows they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.

Don't let him get a foothold in your life! Stay connected to your church family.

Talk It Over

  • What kind of relationships will you have to develop if you want accountability with people in the body of Christ?
  • How should you pray for your church leaders?
  • What do you need to do to reconnect with your church family? Who do you know who needs to be brought back into your church family?

Rick Warren  New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Rick Warren) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
For the Sake of Your Kids, Stop These Embarrassing Facebook Posts http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23897-for-the-sake-of-your-kids-stop-these-embarrassing-facebook-posts http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23897-for-the-sake-of-your-kids-stop-these-embarrassing-facebook-posts

One of my favorite movies is Uncle Buck starring John Candy. When the parents in the movie have to go out of town suddenly, they call on Uncle Buck to watch their three kids.

One of those kids is an angry and rebellious teenager. When he drops her off at school right in front of a crowd, his car smokes and then lets off an explosive backfire. When the smoke clears, it reveals the teenager hiding in embarrassment. All of this brings enjoyment to Uncle Buck.

After that, she threatens to not be there when he comes to pick her up when school ends. To this, he replies, "Stand me up today and tomorrow I'll bring you to school in my robe and pajamas and walk you to your first class."

Adults, particularly parents, have been embarrassing teenage kids for ages. I am thankful every day that I grew in an era before the Internet. It has given parents an easier opportunity to mortify their kids.

There is no bigger medium for parents to do this than Facebook. After talking with teenagers, there are certain things they really wish their parents would stop doing. Don't shoot the messenger. I too had to evaluate my own Facebook behavior. These are your kids talking.

So for the sake of your kids, stop these embarrassing Facebook posts:

1. Checking in. If this was ever cool at all, it sure isn't anymore. There are a few people who need to know our exact location. The rest of the world doesn't.

2. Share this is you believe ... It's one thing to share something, but another to pressure others to do the same. Telling people to share if they agree with some generic or cheesy saying is nothing more than an annoying chain letter.

3. Throwback Thursday. Doing TBT every once in a while is fine, but every week is too much. Also, make TBT about you, not your kids. The last thing they need is a picture of them in diapers on the Internet for all of their peers to ridicule.

4. Liking your own comment, post or status. We know you like it or you wouldn't have said it, posted it or shared it. It comes across like you are trying to impress people or are needy for support and affirmation. You wouldn't applaud yourself after giving a speech; let others applaud you. Better yet, make your statement and let people respond as they may without looking to accumulate likes. Sometimes true genius is not appreciated until later.

5. Incorrect shorthand usage. If you use shorthand, make sure you know what you are communicating. Too many bad things have been communicated by parents who thought LOL meant Lots of Love, among others. Personally, my advice would be to write in complete sentences and use correct spelling. Their generation is losing the ability to do that well. I think we should model it to them any chance we get.

6. Sharing quiz results. Everyone loves quizzes to see what Star Wars character they'd be, etc. Keep the results to yourself though. Most of the world doesn't need to know that you're most like Han Solo.

7. Bad selfies. Posting a selfie that is out of focus or at a weird angle says, "I'm trying to do what the kids are doing, but I'm not good at it." Either do it right or don't do it at all.

8. Overposting and oversharing. This is the problem of too many posts and sharing overly personal information. Limiting the frequency of your posts normally helps with the second thing. Personally, I try to limit myself to one a day at most and I'm told that even that might be too much.

9. Overbearing political views. Political convictions are good. However, you are divisive when your political posts consistently demonize opposing parties and viewpoints. You represent the entire family when you post something. People can have emotional responses, not just towards you but also your children (for right or wrong).

10. Instagram. They would rather you not be here at all. They see this as their thing. You already took over Facebook and they don't want to move again. It's good to be there so you know what they are doing, but save your posts for Facebook.

BJ Foster is the content manager for All Pro Dad and a married father of two. For the original article, visit allprodad.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (BJ Foster/AllProDad.com) Featured Men Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
10 Reasons Christ Followers Should Take Care of Themselves Physically http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23891-10-reasons-christ-followers-should-take-care-of-themselves-physically http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23891-10-reasons-christ-followers-should-take-care-of-themselves-physically

I confess that I don't always take care of myself as I should. I have to work hard to maintain a healthy weight, keep my blood pressure down and other things that are healthy for you.

As a Christian, though, I see this issue as more a spiritual one than a physical one. Here are 10 reasons believers need to take care of themselves:

1. We are created in God's image. The Bible is quite clear here—we are made in the image of the Creator. That image was marred in the fall of Adam and Eve, but not destroyed. That fact alone should give us reason to take care of ourselves.

2. This body is the only one we have. This point might sound silly, but sometimes we live as if we have bodies to spare. When this one is worn out, we don't have a replacement until the day of resurrection.

3. Poor discipline is a bad witness. It's hard to tell people to be disciplined in their Bible study, prayer life and giving when they can look at us and see we are undisciplined in exercise and eating. A lack of effort in one area of life is often indicative of problems in other areas.

4. Bad health is costly. Eventually, the costs of poor health add up. Medical bills pile up. Insurance costs increase. Moreover, bad health makes us less productive at work. Others are forced then to carry some of our load.

5. Our families deserve better. Frankly, it's unloving not to take care of ourselves. Our families worry about us when we struggle to climb steps or find clothes to fit. Our love for them ought to motivate us to do better.

6. Being out of shape might indicate idolatry. Those words might be difficult to hear, but they're necessary ones. If we cannot push away from food in order to take care of our bodies, we must ask if something other than God has become our god.

7. Better health equals more energy to do God's work. God's work is not easy. Those of us in ministry know that the burdens are sometimes heavy. The hours are often long. Being out of shape makes the work only that much more difficult.

8. Proper care requires rest, and it's biblical to get rest. God expects us to take time off, focus on Him, and enjoy His blessings. In fact, not taking time to rest can be self-centered (that is, we think we must be doing everything). I struggle here, but I'm learning.

9. We might be called to the mission field. Many missions organizations will not consider sending someone who is out of shape. The work is often rigorous, and the stresses of cross-cultural living are only compounded by poor health.

10. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This truth is difficult to comprehend, but God really does live within us (1 Cor. 6:19). He who created us and dwells in us expects us to be wise stewards of the body He gave us.

Maybe you want to make a commitment to take better care of yourself. If so, tell us how we can pray for you.

Chuck Lawless currently serves as professor of evangelism and missions and dean of graduate studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Chuck Lawless ) Featured Health Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Prophetic Word: Ministry Leaders, God Wants to Propel You in the Spirit Realm http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23887-prophetic-word-ministry-leaders-god-wants-to-propel-you-in-the-spirit-realm http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23887-prophetic-word-ministry-leaders-god-wants-to-propel-you-in-the-spirit-realm

I felt the Lord drawing me in to His presence. Then an unction came upon me to pray specifically for His servants, leaders and ministers in His kingdom.

I could feel His heart for you; His desire for a refreshing of your spirit and soul and that He would break your heart for what breaks His heart. I felt that your heart would unite with His and that you would come into spiritual alignment with His will and calling on your life. I felt that you would be refreshed and renewed in Him, have abundant life, health, prosperity and that you would not grow weary in your calling.

I transitioned to praying in the Spirit for God's servants, and He gave me the interpretation. God wants your heart to be united with his heart. He wants to give you an outpouring of his love for His people. He wants you to burn with love for His people. He wants to invigorate you.

He desires to sustain you. He sustains you through his love, because when you have an overflowing vessel of His love, it can't help but continually sustain you. You are always filled.

He wants to refresh you with His living waters, pour out new wine on you, he wants to fill you with revelation of His scriptures and pour out an everlasting abundance of knowledge. He desires to you use in greater measures.

I hear the word propelling right now in the spirit realm. He wants to propel you in new places, new spheres of influence and new places in the Spirit. He wants to increase your prayer life. He wants to lavish His abundant love upon you. He wants to renew your strength as an eagle.

God says now is not the time for weariness and heaviness; they must go. They have no place in the kingdom. He says, "You are victorious; you have the victory; you are victorious."  Victorious because of His great love and nothing cannot be conquered when you have His love. His love will propel you into new places, new assignments and new anointings.

He said, "I am going deeper because the time is here that My kingdom must manifest. I desire to come in like a fresh morning rain. I love you with an everlasting love. I have anointed you, appointed you, chosen you. I desire to fellowship with you and renew your strength."

There are great things coming. "Get ready, My people," He says, "Get ready. Abundance! Outpouring! Refreshing! Renewal! Now is the time for prosperity in your soul, growth, abundance and transition. Yes, it is a time of transition, but good transition. You will be learning new things, abundant things about My kingdom. My Kingdom will prevail. Get equipped. Get ready! I am going to release the increase you need to advance My kingdom. My kingdom shall prevail. No weapon formed against it shall prosper, and no weapon formed against you shall prosper when you are equipped, prepared, ready and armed for battle. Yes, get yourself armed for battle. Get yourself armed in My Word. Permeate yourself in My Word, permeate yourself and saturate yourself in the revelation of My Scripture."

Allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher and instructor. Seek Him for guidance into my Scripture that is life and abundant health to your soul. Your soul is not perishing; it is renewed daily when you feed it my Word. Your mind, will and emotions need my Word, which I have brought forth. It is abundant life and light. It is refreshing, renewing and everlasting.

Bury yourself in My word. Allow it to come forth and birth new sprouts in you. Water those sprouts with My love. In the word, there is love and power that will spring forth and cause new things to grow in you. As you bring those things forth out of the depths of My Word, you will bring forth the change the world longs to see.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries (degrawministries.org). She is a prophetic deliverance minister who is passionate about releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys empowering and equipping people through writing and is the author of five books.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw) Featured Prophecy Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Breaking Through the Barriers That Hold You back http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23915-breaking-through-the-barriers-that-hold-you-back http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23915-breaking-through-the-barriers-that-hold-you-back

Have you ever stopped to think about the power you give to whatever you believe? It's true. Once believed, a lie's power in your life will grow and grow until it becomes a tyranny.

Tyranny is a very strong word that describes an actual stronghold. It describes a process of thinking so oppressive and hopeless that those under its domain soon become depressed and disillusioned. Tyranny creates a bondage so far-reaching that its tentacles are felt in every area of life.

Does something have such a hold on you? If so, I want to radically interrupt your torment. I believe you can be free from the bondage of any tyrant that holds you captive—whether it's a lie you've believed about your appearance, fear, pride, unbelief, disobedience, addiction or something else.

Whatever holds you captive in the natural is rooted in the spiritual. It has grown from a seed, a word, a disapproving glance, a rejection, or a comparison. Each story is different, but God's truth remains steadfast and absolute. It is His deepest desire not only to set you free, but also to banish your deepest and darkest fears.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32)

God wants to counteract the lies with His truth. He seeks to restore and reassign value to the precious, to discard the vile, and to breathe life, hope and direction where there has been discouragement, death and confusion.

In what area has the enemy established a stronghold to keep you captive? Are you ready to be free from this tyranny?

This week, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see, your ears to hear and your heart to understand the things He is speaking to you. Give Him permission to change your perspective, and ask for the grace to embrace truth so it can bring forth fruit in your life.

Lisa Bevere originally wrote about this topic in her book It's Not How You Look, It's What You See. You can click here to learn more about that message.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Bevere) Featured Women Life Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
What Does God Call 'Good'? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23914-what-does-god-call-good http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23914-what-does-god-call-good

A young man came running to Jesus one day.

He must have been anxious about something. He was a wealthy man with some community status. But his question reveals he was feeling a measure of emptiness inside.

"Good Teacher," he addressed Jesus, "what must I do to gain eternal life?" (Luke 18:18).

Jesus response is a little unsettling. "Why do you call Me good? No one is good, except God alone" (Luke 18:19). Jesus' immediate focus was not on the question of eternal life, but the young man's measure of excellence.

Was the young man saying Jesus was a good teacher; one of the good guys; or was he saying Jesus is absolutely good?"

What is intrinsically good?

How does one measure good and evil?

What is the plumb line?

Jesus clearly answered that question. Good and evil are not determined by society or culture. Jean Paul Sartre had it wrong. Man is not autocratic and the will of the people; the ballot box; not even the Supreme Court is the one who determines good and evil.

Good and evil are not determined by society or culture.

Where does one turn when a nation's social engineering goes adrift? To whom will psychiatry, medicine, congress and sociology turn when they have drifted into a moral free fall? What is the measure that tells them when the nation is culturally and morally bankrupt? What guideline assures the social order will not be ravaged by crime, violence and intimidation? Who determines if they have crossed the line into sexual perversion?

There is One alone who sets the standard. "Why do you call Me good? No one is [absolutely] good, except God alone." Almighty God is plumb line of good. All-knowing God is the rule of social order. Omniscient God is the measure of good evil for all nations, all societies and all cultures for of all time.

When God delivered the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and was taking them to establish a new nation with a new culture. He gave clear instructions what would be the measure for good and evil for their national laws; their cultural norms and for their interpersonal relationships. "For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44).

When Jesus established the church, He gave the same instructions during His Sermon on the Mount. "Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). This standard is not just the divine fiat that declares a person to be "the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus" when they have repented of their sin and experienced new birth. It is to be the standard for their daily life.

The Apostle Paul declared: "Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. And do not let sexual immorality, or any impurity, or greed be named among you, as these are not proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse joking, which are not fitting. Instead, give thanks. For this you know, that no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Eph. 5:1-7).

The same apostle wrote to the church in Thessalonica urging them to live their lives in a way that is pleasing to God because they knew the commandments Jesus Christ had given to them. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:3).

Where does a nation look to find the anchor bolts that will secure it from societal and moral destruction?

They must look to the living God. His Holy Word will give them the wisdom and understanding.

His precepts and principles will be the plumb line for good and evil.

Dear ones, the church is to be the living example of that standard for a nation gone adrift. But when the church of Jesus Christ compromises God's holiness, yields to tolerance, adopts political correctness, and silences her voice that distinguishes between the sacred and the carnal, the nation is left with no certain standard for measuring good and evil.

The church has put a covering over the light of God leaving the nation in darkness.

The church has bleached her cultural flavoring.

She is good for nothing and she will be trampled under the feet of ungodly men.

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. Dean has been married 45 years to his wife, Wanda. They have three children serving in full-time Christian ministry. Their two daughters are missionaries in Croatia and their son is planting a church in Portland, Oregon. They have nine grandchildren. Dr. Dean is known for training many leaders who are presently in full-time ministry around the world. He has completed a Master's degree in Ministry, a Master's of Theology and a Ph.D. in practical theological with an emphasis in marriage and family counseling. His enthusiastic and challenging ministry has made him a popular teacher and conference speaker. He has written eight books and is presently writing the third book in a trilogy Freedom Series. 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 Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: Donald Trump Shall Become the Trumpet http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23916-prophecy-donald-trump-shall-become-the-trumpet http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23916-prophecy-donald-trump-shall-become-the-trumpet

In His great wisdom throughout the course of human history, God has chosen not only to fulfill His plans and purposes through men and women who have yielded to the sound of His voice, but He has also chosen to accomplish His will through men and women who have ignored and rebelled against Him. One such man was King Cyrus mentioned in Isaiah 45.

Isaiah prophesied of Cyrus and speaks as a mouthpiece of the Lord when he declared, "I have even called you by your name [Cyrus]; I have named you, though you have not known Me. I am the Lord and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.
I strengthen you, though you have not known Me, so that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the west that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other" (Is. 45:4-6).

What a powerful and profound prophetic declaration to a man who did not know or serve the Lord! Could God not use the wicked and ungodly to bring about His plans and purposes thousands of years ago and can He not still do the same thing again, especially in the midst of the crisis that we find America in today?

I was in a time of prayer several weeks ago when God began to speak to me concerning the destiny of Donald Trump in America. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger."

As the body of Christ, we must keep our ears and eyes open as we continue to move toward the 2016 elections in the United States. I believe that God is not only going to use the prayers of the saints to bring about His plans and purposes, but He is even going to use those who do not know Him. What a great comfort and source of encouragement we have in the wisdom of God in this hour.

Just as Job declared to God in Job 42:2, "I know that You can do everything, and that no thought can be withheld from You." Let's begin to pray in faith, knowing that God can do all things and that no purpose of His in the 2016 elections can be thwarted!

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

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taylor.berglund@charismamedia.com (Jeremiah Johnson) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
How to Pray Prophetically Over Your Nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23857-how-to-pray-prophetically-over-your-nation http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/23857-how-to-pray-prophetically-over-your-nation

Donna Childress shares this vision (I met her at GLOBAL last week): "I would like to take time to share a vision that I had while in Washington D.C. I recently moved to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I received an email from my friend Kathy in Myrtle Beach about one of our friend's named Annette.

Annette received a word from God that she was to go to Washington D.C. and pray around the White House on April 1, 2014. She would also pray around the Capitol Building the next day. She was also instructed to email a few friends so they could pass on the message that she was going and to meet her in Washington if anyone was interested.

She and her friends did not know how they would pay for her trip or where they would stay; they were depending on God to provide. When I heard about it, I volunteered to let them stay with me and I told them they could drive back and forth because it was only a couple hours away. I also felt led to go with them.

Here is what happened upon our arrival in Washington:

In the natural: As we were walking up the street of the White House on the North West Side, I saw the layout with the barricades that looked exactly like a dream I had the night before. As we were approaching the White House, I looked and, in the natural, I noticed how very clean everything appeared. The streets and sidewalks had no dirt or trash on them. I also noticed the buildings straight in front of me. They were all lined up in perfect rows. I could not believe my eyes just how clean everything was.

In the supernatural: God showed me a large carpet lying over the whole city of Washington and all the dirt was swept under it. 

This started our prayer walk around the White House praying for the president and our nation.

The next day, we went back to pray around the Capitol Building. As we were leaving the city:

In the natural: A big cyclone of dirt stirred up and appeared in front of our car. 

In the supernatural: I saw the carpet being lifted, all the dirt pouring out and then I heard God say, "I am lifting, I am cleaning and I am exposing." 

How to pray prophetically (comments from Mark): When Daniel noted what God intended to do (Dan. 9), he came into agreement with it by praying and fasting for it to be accomplished. I have chosen to pray for God to expose wickedness and evil and to remove it from Washington D.C.

David even went so far as to pray and ask God to remove the wicked from the face of the earth (Ps. 109). Let the Lord lead you as to how you should pray. We do know we are commanded to pray for our governments (1 Tim. 2:1,2), so let's do that.

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice teaches on how to see vision and hear God's voice. This allows you to not only deepen your relationship with God but also be instructed by Him in how to pray for situations. 

Mark Virkler is founder and president of Christian Leadership University and co-founder of Communion With God Ministries. The co-author of more than 50 books with his wife, Patti, Mark has received a Master of Theology from Miami Christian University and a Ph.D. from Carolina Christian University.

For the original article, visit cvgministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Virkler ) Featured Prayer Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
9 Defining Marks of the Overcoming Church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23872-9-defining-marks-of-overcoming-church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/23872-9-defining-marks-of-overcoming-church

I am more convinced than I have ever been that we are on the doorsteps of the Third Great Awakening. I believe that revival is beginning to gain momentum across this nation. I also believe that revival and awakening are needed now more than ever.

My great desire is for this movement, this revival to be sustained and that it would never end. That we would fully move into the fulfillment of moving from glory to glory and faith to faith. Therefore if continual revival and awakening is our inheritance, then they must also be accompanied with reformation. On the local level, there has to be adjustments made in order to sustain the move of God.

I believe that God gave us a pattern, a paradigm or a model in the book of Acts called the Antioch Church that gives us a glimpse of what is available and necessary to sustain a thriving movement.

It is not the will of God for us to live in sin cycles or revival cycles. It is His will that would live in the place of communion continually that would position us to sustain what comes from heaven, even when it touches the hands of our humanity. While Antioch was not a perfect church, there are some foundational things that were present that allowed them to sustain as a thriving body in a very difficult time of persecution and tremendous growth.

City Transformation

Antioch was the third most powerful city in the Roman Empire behind Rome and Alexandria. It was a place known for business, commerce, sophistication and culture but also very much known for its immorality. It was a thriving city that was the capital of the Roman province of Syria. During this time cities and regions were often identified by the characteristics that were displayed in that city.

For example, Jerusalem was known as the religious city. Rome was known for its power. Alexandria was known for its intellect and Athens for philosophy. However, the defining characteristics of Antioch were business and immorality. So the birthing of the Gentile church was nothing short of miraculous.

Acts chapters 11-13 give us the narrative of the gospel being preached in Antioch. It was the beginning of fulfillment of the words spoken by Jesus to preach the gospel to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. What is so amazing about this revival, this movement that was sparked, is that we see firsthand the gospel of Jesus Christ coming to, infecting and completely transforming an utterly pagan city. This gives me great hope that if a city like Antioch can be transformed, so can my city!

Defining Marks of the Antioch Church

There are 9 defining marks of the Antioch church that we can learn from and apply. I also believe that these defining marks carry in them the DNA of reformation needed to sustain the revival and awakening that is upon us.

1. The Antioch church and accompanying revival were birthed out of persecution. Acts 11:19 says, "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only."

After the stoning of Stephen, the believers were scattered. However it was this persecution that positioned them to have a platform from which to launch. They were declaring their testimony and the goodness of Jesus. Persecution did not keep them from preaching the gospel. They were not so ashamed of their past that they kept silent. They were so filled with the Holy Spirit that seemingly negative obstacles were launching pads for revival and awakening.

2. Antioch was a place of revival and awakening. Acts 11:24 says: "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord."

There was no mistaking that revival was upon the community of believers in Antioch. So much so that the Apostles sent Barnabas to check out what was taking place. He was so marked that he stayed and sent for Paul. People were coming to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at a very rapid rate. Evangelism was second nature.

3. Antioch had a strong focus on the Word of God. Acts 11:25-26 says: "Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a considerable crowd."

There was a solid foundation of teaching the scriptures at Antioch. There was a need for sound teaching in order for this movement to be sustained. Living according to the scriptures was a way of life.

4. Antioch was place of identity. Acts 11:26 says, "And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."

Although it was supposed to be a negative term at first, Antioch is the first place the term Christian is used. It was a place of identity so much so that even though the opposition was attempting to brand this group of believers in a negative way, they were so secure in their pursuit of God that it became a distinct privilege and it still is a privilege to be called a Christian.

5. Antioch was a giving and missional church. Acts 11:29 says, "Then every disciple, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea."

They were not so inwardly focused that they could not see the needs of others. I love this concept. Agabus declares by the Spirit of God that a famine is coming. The church prepares itself so that they can sustain but also be an answer to impending need. We need more prophetic voices that not only have the ability to alert us as to what is coming, but also have the ability to hear the voice of God and gain His heart for a solution as well. We are not a prophetic people because we can see that America is in a mess. We are prophetic because in the midst of the mess we can see and declare the strategy for America to be once again burning with the fires of revival and awakening. This will position us to be willing to give of our time and our resources.

6. Antioch was a church with a plurality of leaders. Acts 13:1-2 says: "In the church that was in Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they worshipped the Lord and fasted ... ."

We are never told that there was one person running the show. There were many prophets and teachers. This was such a unique setting that the Holy Spirit spoke to separate Paul and Barnabas and we are never even told who released that word. This is a model where the one-man show was never an issue. I am convinced that one of the true indicators of sustained revival will be that pride, ego and entertainment are slain on the altar of unity and humility. I believe the team model of ministry is why the New Testament church was so successful. It wasn't about the man it was about the mission to tell the world of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. There was no room for ego.

7. Antioch was a worshipping church. Acts 13:2 says, "As they worshipped the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'"

The word ministered in the Greek is the word leitourgeo, which means to perform religious duties. It also is where we get the word liturgy. So they were literally ministering before the Lord in in the office of the priest. It was defining mark of this movement. If revival is to be sustained, then worship has to be a primary action. You cannot pray for revival and not honor the one who brings revival. They were literally "priesting" before the Lord daily in worship.

8. Antioch was a praying and fasting kind of church. Acts 13:3 says, "Then after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off."

Fasting and prayer were foundational principles for the church at Antioch. I love that they heard the word of the Lord to send Paul and Barnabas and they bathed that word in prayer in fasting. I believe that the detriment to our nation is not the activity of sin, but the activity of the prayerless church. Prayer and fasting are still necessary. Ministers are still needed to lie between porch and altar in fasting and intercession. The answer for our nation is a burning, praying church!

9. Antioch was an apostolic and prophetic hub (Acts 11-13). The foundation of the church at Antioch was built on apostles and prophets, not pastors and associate pastors. While all are necessary and I believe that Acts 11-13 shows that four of the five-fold ministry gifts were present, apostles and prophets were still leading the charge. Antioch was place of sending. Paul and Barnabas came at the beginning of the movement and the word of the Lord came for them to be sent and they were sent. Watch this: The church didn't fold. Two of the greatest preachers and leaders in the New Testament were removed and the church kept on thriving. This was a result of the foundation that was built from the beginning.

The Reason It Worked 

Jesus was the sole reason for the connection and mix of ministry gifts. It was their common belief in Jesus as the Messiah that made this movement work. It wasn't positions, titles, programs or music. The common thread was that they were willing to lay their lives down for the Jewish man called Jesus.

I believe that God is releasing a fresh wave of the Antioch Paradigm because it is a proven, documented model that can spark and sustain revival and awakening. God is releasing a grace for establishing revival hubs across this nation in the pattern of the Antioch Church that will thrive in the face of persecution.

There is a remnant rising form the ashes of burning movements of times past with a heart for the harvest and evangelism. I believe that there is a fresh baptism in the love of the Word of God that is being poured out in this moment. God is releasing the mantles of identity to a fatherless generation who hunger and thirst for righteousness once again.

Giving and missions will mark these Revival centers. Uncommon unity will be the banner on the body of Christ. The one-man show will give way to unity and humility. I declare that there is another worship movement that will be released. Churches where the sole purpose of their gatherings will be to look into the fiery eyes of Jesus with worship and adoration.

The prayerless church will move in to the fulfillment of her true identity to be a praying, thriving church. I see the Lord restoring the function of the apostle and the unction of the prophet to the proper role and responsibility that was originally intended. I'm so thankful that He gave us a pattern and a model from which to draw from.

God is releasing the Antioch paradigm.

Ryan Bain serves on the Senior Leadership team at Awakening Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Ryan burns to see Awakening and Reformation come to this nation and specifically the city of Louisville. He, along with his wife Rebekah carry a mandate to train and equip a generation to walk in the fulfillment of their God-given destiny.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ryan Bain) Featured Church & Ministry Spirit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
The Powerful Secret to Heal the Sick http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23913-the-powerful-secret-to-heal-the-sick http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23913-the-powerful-secret-to-heal-the-sick

I know that the thought of ministering healing in the name of Jesus can be rather intimidating for some, but we need to remember that we do not go alone. The Holy Spirit, who lives and resides inside of every believer in Jesus Christ, is the one working in and through us. Let me share a personal testimony of what happened the first time I ministered healing to someone.

Back in 1991, in Guatemala City, on a short-term mission trip our team was going door-to-door sharing about Jesus and inviting the people to come to an evangelistic campaign that we were holding in their neighborhood. At one home the people already were believers in Christ, so I asked them if there was anything that I could pray with them about. They said "Yes" and asked us to wait. The interpreter and I sat down in their one room home and waited. Soon afterward they returned with a little girl who had been deaf since birth and could not speak.

I did not know much about healing back then, but I laid my hands on her anyway, and I rebuked a spirit of deafness and commanded her ears to be opened, and immediately she could hear, and speak. Her first word was, "Hallelujah!"

I share this testimony because sometimes we think we can't minister healing to someone because we do not know enough about healing. But here is a powerful secret. If we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we have what it takes to minister to the sick. His name is Jehova-rapha, the Lord who heals us, (see Exod. 15:26). And in 1 John 4:17, we are encouraged with a life-changing truth about our identity, "as He is, so are we in this world." And as His ambassadors, (see 2 Cor. 5:20) we are commissioned to go and evangelize the world with power, and if we believe we will lay hands on the sick and they will recover, (see Mark 16:15-18). Go ahead, take a bold step of faith and minister healing to those around you. You've got what it takes!

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

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
WATCH: TD Jakes Goes Off on Grammy-Winning Singer http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23868-watch-td-jakes-goes-off-on-grammy-winning-singer http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23868-watch-td-jakes-goes-off-on-grammy-winning-singer

Sometimes we all need a talking-to, and who better to give us wise counsel than a godly man?

But for Toni Braxton and her family, it wasn't a gentle reminder to get back in line. 

"You're spoiled. You're flat-out spoiled," TD Jakes told the family. "I deal with people who have real problems—people who are losing their limbs, who need a kidney transplant—and those families go through that with more dignity than you can go through who stood on stage?"

Start the video at 22:30 to see what else he said.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jessilyn Justice ) Featured Music The Buzz Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
7 Love Actions to Show Your Spouse http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/19502-7-love-actions-to-show-your-spouse http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/19502-7-love-actions-to-show-your-spouse

Romantic movies often trick us into thinking that grand gestures equal big love. They tell us we need to write a message in the clouds or paint words on a billboard or shout it from the top of a mountain.

However, I'd suggest that many small acts of love add up to a lot more than one big gesture. It's the little things, day in and day out, that show your unwavering love and commitment.

So, I'd like to share with you seven love actions to show your spouse:

1. Write a note. Surprise your spouse with a long love letter and put it on their pillow one morning. Or leave sticky notes with short words of encouragement on the bathroom mirror or the kitchen table. To help get you started, here are some things you can write: "10 More Things Husbands Want to Hear From Their Wives" and "10 More Things Wives Want to Hear From Their Husbands."

2. Bring flowers. Bringing a bouquet of flowers to your spouse is a great way to show you were thinking of her. Set the flowers in a vase of water on the counter or by the door. This way, they will be there all week long, and every time she passes them, she'll be reminded of your love.

3. Make the bed. Mornings are constantly a rush to get out the door. But I promise you, the 60 seconds it takes to make the bed is always worth it. When my wife, Susan, comes in at night from a long, hard day to find the bed made, she smiles knowing I made the effort to make her happy in this small way.

4. Cook dinner. There's nothing like good smells from good food cooking in the kitchen when we get home. So take over one night and make a meal for the whole family. Love your spouse well by trying a new recipe or just sticking with one of her favorites.

5. Plan a creative date. Get creative by planning a simple date that fits your lifestyle. Go for a picnic in the back yard, go to a pizza diner down the street, go for a walk, watch the stars come out at the park or go out for morning coffee. Whatever you do, be intentional in making your spouse feel special on the date.

6. Hold hands. After being married a few years, it's easy to forget the simple things in your relationship. Holding hands is one of those things. When you're out to dinner, driving in the car together or just sitting on the couch at home, grab your spouse's hand.

7. Call and text. Even if daily schedules have you and your spouse in different places, don't go all day without communicating. Give them a call during your lunch break just to see how they're doing and to tell them you love them. A quick call or text will reassure them that they are important to you and on your mind.

What are some other love actions you take to love your spouse?

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Mark Merrill/Family First) Featured Men Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
This Little Known Connection Could Be Deadly for Your Heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23888-this-little-known-connection-could-be-deadly-for-your-heart http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23888-this-little-known-connection-could-be-deadly-for-your-heart

People don't usually think of the heart and the liver as being closely connected, but what happens to your liver absolutely impacts the health of your heart.

The liver is your body's largest internal organ, and it is vitally important for processing nutrients and also removing toxins from the food we digest. If it's not working properly, toxins can build up and cause damage.

One of the chief causes of poor liver function is fatty liver disease, a condition that causes the liver to swell with fat.

Because the liver naturally contains some stores of fat, a certain amount of fat content is expected. But if that fat accounts for more than 10 percent of the organ's total weight, it is considered fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease comes in two types: alcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcoholic fatty liver disease happens in people who abuse alcohol—a risk that we have known about for a long time.

But the type of fatty liver disease that is becoming epidemic in the United States is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.

I often write about the dangers of abdominal fat and how having too much fat around your belly creates inflammation, which helps to kick off the process of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and leads to heart disease.

The same thing happens when your liver is too fatty. Whether that inflammation comes from a fatty liver or fat in your belly, the result is the same. Your risk of heart disease goes up.

In April, a long-term study found that NAFLD was a strong independent risk factor for the early development of coronary artery disease, even in the absence of other traditional, recognizable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides.

In addition to heart disease, NAFLD also leads to diabetes. In fact, studies show that about 70 percent of people with diabetes also have fatty liver disease.

Although there are drugs in the pipeline, there is currently no medication to combat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, you can actually manage the condition—and even reverse it—in the same way you do heart disease.

Lose Weight. A 2009 study of 50 patients found that those who lost 5 percent of their weight improved their blood glucose levels and reduced the fat in their livers. Those who lost 9 percent of their body weight actually began to see liver damage reverse.

Eat Better. Whether you're losing weight or not, it's important to improve your diet. Replace processed and fried foods with whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish or meat that is not fried. Some studies show that the Mediterranean diet, with its reliance on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil may also protect the liver.

You should also eliminate refined sugars from your diet.

Exercise. In 2011, a study of obese people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease found that walking one hour a day on a treadmill for seven consecutive days jump-started metabolism and helped reduce inflammatory damage.

 

Chauncey W. Crandall, M.D., F.A.C.C., chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, practices interventional, vascular and transplant cardiology. Dr. Crandall received his postgraduate training at Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed three years of research in the cardiovascular surgery division. Known as the "Christian physician," Dr. Crandall has been heralded for his values and message of hope to all his heart patients.

For the original article, visit chaunceycrandall.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Chauncey Crandall/M.D., F.A.C.C.) Featured Health Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:50:00 -0400
A Word for Those Fearing the Doom and Gloom http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23898-a-word-for-those-fearing-the-doom-and-gloom http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23898-a-word-for-those-fearing-the-doom-and-gloom

The Lord woke me up at 5:13 a.m. recently from a prophetic dream. In the dream I was walking out of my childhood home in the country to do my daily chores. We lived on a cattle and horse farm, so there were always plenty of chores.

As I walked out, three faithful dogs that always went with me everywhere greeted me. Then things started changing suddenly, as I looked across our place, I saw ministry leaders that we are currently in ministry with, and they were all in quicksand.

Now we all know that when you're in quicksand you never panic. The leaders were whispering, "Help us." In the dream, as I walked toward them, the ground became solid and they were freed. Some climbed out of their situation with a little help. Others I had to drag out of the miry clay. The Scripture that stuck out to me was Numbers 16:48, "He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped."

As I was pulling the leaders from the quicksand I saw a sheep running scared. It ran right past us and no one was able to help because they were themselves in need of help. Then the sheep was caught by three demonic beings and forced back into the barn.

As they carried the sheep back toward the stables and barn I followed after them. When I got close to the barn door I heard a voice say, "We will kill some, steal some and make the other to act dead." Immediately the first part of John 10:10 came to mind: the thief comes to steal, and to kill and to destroy.

At this moment fear came over me and I ran into the house, found my safe place, and started praying. The Lord spoke this to me: "My ministers in this hour will walk in fear or faith. They will decide in the safe place which one they will choose. The safe place is the place of prayer." I started asking God for a greater revelation of this prophetic dream in my morning quiet time. This is what God showed me:

"My leaders are sinking into the things of the world" (that's what the quicksand represented) "that seem so familiar to them. They need someone to lend a hand and pull them out. They couldn't help the flock (sheep) because of this. The enemy was there to kill some, steal some, and force others to play dead."

Isn't this a picture of to many believers today? They act as if they are dead. God needs leaders to arise. I felt the Lord say, "My flock is so scared in America right now and they need a voice to speak life into them, but so many key voices are sinking right now and have lost their voice."

The word of the Lord came to me about ministers in this hour. He said we can't be afraid of what's around the corner, but we must walk in faith, knowing that whatever comes their way God will get them through.

If you're sinking into things today, cry out for help and God will send you someone to lend you a hand. If you're sinking, you can't minister to the sheep God has entrusted into your care. Remember the last part of John 10:10: "But I have come to give that you will live more abundantly." America needs her prophetic voices to arise and not be afraid of the attacks of the enemy. I believe the flock of America will be saved!

Joe Joe Dawson is the president of Burn Texarkana Revival center and House of Prayer. Pastor Dawson also serves as staff evangelist for First Assembly of God in Texarkana, Texas, where he also is now the Tribe College/young adult pastor. Burn Texarkana has one revival/awakening service a month at First Assembly and also has Burn on the Road meetings in neighboring cites monthly. There are four Burn Texarkana prayer meetings each week! Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn, and together they have three kids: Malachi, Judah and Ezra. He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joe Joe Dawson) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
How a Lie Can Lock You Down http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23912-how-a-lie-can-lock-you-down http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23912-how-a-lie-can-lock-you-down

"(We are) casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).

In the Hebrew Calendar, we are in the month of Av, this month is represented by the Tribe of Simeon, and has been said to be a month in which keys to reverse the curse are released. Now for some people this can be a bunch of rhetoric, but for me, this month has proved to be exactly what it says it is. It is a key giving, curse reversing, kind of month. What God has been showing me in just this first week of this Hebrew month of Av is blowing my natural mind, exciting my spiritual mind and healing my soul.

Since God is omniscient, meaning He is all knowing, He knew we were going to be born in this time in history, He knew we would be having the challenges personally and corporately that we are having, and He decided in His omniscience to have us be alive for such a time as this. So, God is not moved, nor surprised by anything that is going on in us, through us, or even around us, personally, nationally or internationally. Do you agree?

So, since this is all TRUTH, then where is the lie that is keeping us powerless, keeping us bound, keeping us locked up, held back? The problem is not with God, He is bigger than we can even comprehend, He is more powerful than we recognize, and He is more loving than we believe, so the issue lies with our vain imaginations. Somewhere inside of us, we have come to believe a lie, which when we come into agreement with it, becomes a stronghold and hinders what God wants to do in us and through us. Stay with me.

Yesterday, I was watching a sermon by John Paul Jackson and the Lord was speaking directly to me through this man of God. The Lord showed me that I have lived with a stronghold of believing what others have said about me. Now for me, it was a spirit of intimidation that I come into agreement with. This spirit of intimidation eroded at my confidence and kept me in the realm of knowing and even understanding, but not believing.

Believing is putting our whole weight on God, it is not doubting, fearing or even flinching when an attack comes because you know what He said and He is not a man that He should lie. So, I would second guess myself, that I heard clearly, or that I was really as up to date as I thought I was when it came to obedience.

Why is this significant? It's significant because the intimidator kept me from believing what God was saying about me, and, in doing so, kept me from receiving what God wants to pour out on me. I am not a mistake, God knew the personality He gave me, the body type I would have, everything about me and He called me to be a mouthpiece for Him. I did not ask for, have an opinion about or get to give advice on any of these things.

He made me like this and He likes what he made, He actually said it is very good. So, my vain imagination was that I did not like what He made and some others have not either, so I tried to dumb it down, shut it up, tone it down, and in doing so, I came into agreement with the intimidator to stay down, and this is a vain imagination that exalted itself over the knowledge of God.

I don't know what stronghold you are stuck in and honestly you probably don't either, for the enemy is very subtle and sneaky. But this I do know, the mystery of why things are not working is in the history and as we allow the Lord to look into our history, and show us the lie that has us locked up, we will be given keys that will reverse the curse in our own lives, so we can cast down vain imaginations in the lives of those we love. I'm free and now I see and agree with who God has made me to be. It's about to get really fun!

Lisa Great is an author, speaker and blogger with Mouthpiece Ministries International. She has been in ministry for over 25 years, she has a BA in Youth and Family Studies, a MA in Education. She can be reached at mouthpieceministries.net; mouthpieceministries.wordpress.com; or on her Facebook page Lisa Great.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Lisa Great) Featured Women Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How You Can Hinder God http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23911-how-you-can-hinder-god http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23911-how-you-can-hinder-god

I was recently recalling an occasion in my life when I spent a lot of time and effort trying to fix a situation in my own strength. The outcome, as you can probably imagine, was a disaster. My ideas, my wisdom, my experience and my advice were so filled with my own fleshly desire to see quick resolution of conflict and peace prevail that, to my shame, I neglected the kingdom purposes of God ... and indeed, God Himself. 

Dallas Willard has stated in Hearing God: "There is no avoiding the fact that we live at the mercy of our ideas. This is never more true than with our ideas about God. Meaning well is not enough. Those who operate on the wrong information are likely never to know the reality of God's presence in the decisions which shape their lives and will miss the constant divine companionship for which their souls were made."

These words brought up the memory above, and, although I made a mess of things with my efforts alone, I am more than thankful that God has forgiven my lack of pressing into Him for His counsel, peace and purposes for the situation I was attempting to fix. There have been not-so-nice consequences for my lack of listening to the voice of God, but over time, He has worked to bring healing and restoration into the situation.

Pondering all of this, I have to ask the question: "How can I resist the urge to live at the mercy of my own good ideas about situations, people and even God?" We are responsible to handle the Word of God with accuracy: "Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). If we can hear through the Spirit the accurate way to move forward, or to even stay out of the way in places where the wisdom of God is clearly needed, it seems much conflict and stress could be avoided or diffused in Christlike ways. 

In seeking the Father for answers, there came some clarity. When I am tempted to insert my will and desires into the life of another person or into a situation:

• I should first prayerfully submit my will and my desires to God. As Jesus modeled, I must only say or do what I hear God telling me to say or do. His silence should always compel me to also be silent and/or to refrain from acting. 

• I should ask: Father, where are You working in the midst of this person's life/this situation to gain His insight and perspective.

• I should pray for His presence and power to be inserted into the life/situation so that He will receive honor and glory in the midst of whatever result occurs.

Now, Father, give me the strength to follow the steps You have given me so that I will press into Your presence as Your Son, Jesus Christ, always did! May I never throw myself headlong into a situation where You belong and I do not. Give me the fruit of self-control to subdue my desires to fix people and situations, allowing You to move in power and enabling Your glory to be seen. Help me, in my everyday life, to seek first the "divine companionship for which my soul was made." It is only then that I will live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28) in You alone.

Kim Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries and the author of The Praying Family. (C) 2015 Harvest Prayer Ministries.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Kim Butts) Featured Women Life Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
James Goll: The Coming Collision Between Shaking and Glory http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/21259-the-coming-collision-between-shaking-and-glory http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/21259-the-coming-collision-between-shaking-and-glory

There are diverse views on the end times, including at least three different historical theological views concerning eschatology. Major different voices contend for our attention today, everything from escapism to run and hide, to replacement theology concerning Israel and the church, to ultimate reconciliation, to the absurdity that there is no literal hell, and on and on it goes. In this age of false acceptance, just about anything goes. After all, God is a God of Grace and Love, right? Yes, but He is also the God of Justice and Truth.

Let's make sure we keep certain basic truths in place in the swirl of many opinions. I often find myself in the role of taking complex things and deciphering them into foundational simple and understandable truths. But for now let's push a pause button on that subject, and let me give you a partial biblical perspective I hold. Yes—the glory and the shaking come together! That's clearly what the Word of God says.

From Haggai 2:2-9

"Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, saying: Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not, in your eyes, as nothing in comparison? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord, and be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong all you people of the land, says the Lord. Work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Hosts. According to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you. Do not fear. For thus says the Lord of Hosts: Once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and earth, the sea and dry land. And I will shake all the nations, and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of Hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lordof Hosts. The glory of this latter house will be greater than the former, says the Lord of Hosts. And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of Hosts."

Layers of Scriptural Interpretation

There are often layers to scriptural interpretation and application: the context of the historic setting, the prophetic perspective for both then and later on, the personal application for our own lives, and much more. Another principle in interpreting Scripture is: first in the natural and second in the spiritual.

Here in Haggai 2 we have the historic recordings concerning the first and the second temples. The first was grand in external splendor, an architectural wonder of all the ages. After the desolation and then a time of despair, a second temple was built—but it did not compare to the earlier grandeur. But the Word of the Lord came forth in that situation declaring that the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former. Bottom line:

  • The first temple was built in grandeur
  • The first temple was destroyed
  • The second temple was built—appearing in the natural as "nothing in comparison"
  • A prophetic declaration was released in the midst of disillusionment, "The glory will be greater!"

Likewise, the early church saw great glory followed by a great decline. Five hundred-plus years ago we stepped into a new era called the Great Reformation with such truths as "the just shall live by faith." Now we are stepping into the Convergence of the Ages with accelerated movements and motion of the current-day operation of the Holy Spirit.

The pattern is similar in the natural and in the spiritual. Bottom line:

  • The first apostolic church was birthed in glory
  • The church went into a great decline
  • The second apostolic age appears on the scene in infancy and controversy
  • A prophetic declaration is released in the midst of uncertain times: "The glory will be greater!"

It is my belief that in modern church history, we have crossed the threshold from the Third to the beginning of the Fourth Great Wave. (See my article on "The Beginning of the Fourth Wave." For more on this subject, please see the new book by Julia Loren, The Future of Us, with my chapter concerning these issues—available in our EN Resource Center.

From James 5:7-11

"Therefore be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Notice how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until he receives the early and late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is drawing near. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, lest you be condemned. Look, the Judge is standing at the door. My brothers, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them happy who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the purpose of the Lord, that the Lord is very gracious and merciful."

As I have read this passage over and over for years, there are at least seven things to glean in parallel understandings from these writings of James 5.

  • Be wise
  • Be patient
  • Strengthen yourself
  • Continue
  • Do not complain
  • Look to the model of Job
  • Know that the Lord's dealings ultimately result in compassion and mercy!

The Early and Latter Rain

In the natural, in the Middle East, the early rain falls from mid-October to mid-December. The purpose of the early rains is to soften the ground for plowing, and it waters the freshly seeded fields so the seeds can germinate. The latter rain falls from late February to early April. The purpose of the latter rains is to cause the grain to come into full growth and maturity and thus preparing for a harvest.

Jeremiah 5:24 proclaims, "They do not say in their heart, 'Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.'"

So which is it? Shaking or glory? Darkness or light? Fear or faith? Fatalism or furious love? Stagnation or progressive revelation? Lukewarm Churchianity or passionate believers with hearts on fire? Tribulation generation or hope ambassadors generation? Desolation or restoration?

Oh my beloved, the Scriptures in the New Testament say that in the Last Days difficult times will come. But that is not the end of the story!

Yes, the shaking and the glory are on a collision course. But guess which force wins? Or maybe it should be stated, 'But guess WHO wins?"

Isaiah 60:1-3 says it really well. "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord shall rise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. The nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising."

I see a glorious eschatology where light exposes darkness—and the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters covers the seas. Amen and Amen!

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

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jeremy.burns@charismamedia.com (James W. Goll) Featured A Voice Calling Out Blogs Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
How Do I Raise My Prophetic Child Correctly? http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23881-how-do-i-raise-my-prophetic-child-rightly http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23881-how-do-i-raise-my-prophetic-child-rightly

When I was in my mother's womb, she had a prophetic dream where the Lord told her to name me Jeremiah. He outlined in detail many specific instructions for my life and the destiny that was before me.

At 9, I remember openly prophesying from the platform in the church that my father pastored and receiving prophetic dreams almost nightly starting at 11. By the time I was 13, I was prophetically ministering weekly in a homeless shelter downtown with a worship team.

I grew up in a prophetic culture where I actually was taught and believed that I could function in the gifts and anointing of the Holy Spirit regardless of my age. Looking back on those years, I recognize how intentional my parents really were in encouraging the gifts God had given me and also making great sacrifices to create an atmosphere where the gifts could grow and mature. But you must understand, there is so much more to the journey.

After hearing my prophetic testimony with the Lord, one of the most frequent questions I receive from parents around the world is how to raise prophetic children. What do we do with our son, who, at 9 years old is having crazy prophetic dreams that are scaring us and others? One woman told me: "I didn't ask God for this prophetic little girl. Her sense of right and wrong drives me nuts! What do I do?" My answer to this question has typically shocked many parents, but it is the secret to my personal prophetic journey. How do you raise prophetic children?

I certainly do not have all the answers, but I do have my convictions from how my parents raised me by the Holy Spirit and how I choose to raise my children now. As a parent or guardian, the greatest contribution you can make to the life of a prophetic son or daughter is to teach them to listen and obey your voice and provide appropriate consequences when they choose to ignore or disobey your words.

One of the primary issues in the current prophetic movement is that we have made hearing the voice of God the measuring line of maturity when in fact it is merely elementary. I know 10,000 prophetic people who can hear the voice of the Lord and even do a great job teaching others to do the same, but I know very few prophetic voices in the earth who actually obey the voice of the Lord as a lifestyle.

God does not speak because He loves to hear the sound of His voice. He speaks because He wants us to obey. We need to stop asking our children, "Did you hear me?" and start inquiring, "Have you obeyed me?"

Parents, part of training healthy and mature prophetic children is helping them to understand that being utterly dependent and obedient to your instructions will lead them down the path of life and when they choose to disobey, they will reap destruction and consequences. They must not only see you as a parent who hugs and kisses them when they walk in obedience, but also parent who discipline them when necessary.

Boundaries create safe environments for children and are necessary to establish security and peace. Without them, there is all sorts of unnecessary chaos and disorder. As a young prophetic person, your child must understand by the example that you set what God is really like. He is not only a loving Father, but also a Dad who chastises and rebukes when He must. His discipline and consequences for our rebellion are not a sign of His rejection of our lives, but actually a hallmark of His love for us.

If your prophetic child never knows a God by your example who will discipline them when they disobey His voice at an early age, they will certainly never accurately hear and obey His voice when they are older and out of the house.

Dr. James Dobson speaks great wisdom when He says, "I firmly believe in acquainting children with God's judgement and wrath while they are young. Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to skip over the unpleasant verses in the Scriptures. The wages of sin is death, and children have a right to understand that truth from an early age."

Teaching your kids that there are terrible consequences for sin, even if you repent, will bear forth more fruit in their life than you can imagine.

There are 116 places in the Bible where we are told to "fear the Lord." So many children are only taught about a God who is a loving Father, but have never heard of a God of judgment because their parents hid part of the truth from them.

By what authority do we eliminate God as a just judge to our children and portray Him out to be a Santa Claus in the sky who only ever gives presents? Don't forget, God gives spankings too."

Raising prophetic children is no small assignment, but it can be done by God's grace. It starts with modeling for them who God really is, a God who is rich in mercy and grace, but also a God who is just and disciplines those whom He is jealously in love with.

I believe a new prophetic generation is being raised up in the earth right now. Many of them are 9 years old, some are 12 and others are teenagers. These young men and women all have one primary thing in common: parents who rather than let them get away with rebellion and independence without consequence, have chosen to faithfully discipline and instruct them in love.

These children know the voice of their parents and they have been taught to obey. They understand the consequences of their disobedience and are therefore more than ready to mature in the prophetic call upon their life.

This will be a new prophetic generation that will respond to God's voice with startling quickness and will be constantly eager to accomplish His will upon the earth without delay. The need has never been greater! Keep up the job well-done, parents. Heaven is cheering for you and so am I.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Jeremiah Johnson ) Featured Prophecy Spirit Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
How to Combat Betrayal in the Church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23893-how-to-combat-betrayal-in-the-church http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-warfare/23893-how-to-combat-betrayal-in-the-church

Betrayal—we've all been hurt in the church and among the body of Christ. Betrayal comes in several forms like people abandoning us, not believing in us, hurting us, speaking behind our backs and not valuing what we have to bring to the Kingdom.

Betrayal originates from both others' and our inner hurts and wounds. Inner hurts and wounds from past experiences and relationships left unhealed can and do affect the church, the body of Christ.

Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." When we are hurt or wounded, we need to look inside ourselves and discover where healing needs to take place. There is a saying: "Hurting people hurt people." Hurting people do hurt people inside and outside the church.

It seems as though church betrayal is all around. People come in and try to take control, prompting some to leave the church. Many feel they have so much to offer the church, but when things don't go their way they start causing trouble for the pastor and the congregation.

Conflict arises among leaders when this happens and people begin to argue, disagree and get offended. When offense sets in it leads the way to betrayal and division and people in the church get upset, quit committees and commitments and start leaving the church.

What is the answer to hurt and betrayal in the church and how do we get it to stop? I believe it first starts with prayer and discernment about who should be in church leadership. In the body of Christ in general, 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. This puts pressure on the volunteers and leaders to do more, work harder and pick up the slack of those who don't want to volunteer.

Due to the limited amount of volunteers when a new person comes into the church a pastor is seldom left options than to hurry and put them in a leadership position or a main volunteer role. The pastor sees good qualities in the person and implements them without the proper amount of prayer and discernment out of desperation.

The person volunteers, gets involved and soon when their character is revealed, we discover that there are emotional and spiritual issues that need healing. This often causes more harm than help to the church in the long run.

Waiting to implement people in certain positions until relationships have been formed and characters have been revealed would be an asset to the church that would bring unity and cooperation instead of division and dissension.

The next thing we need to do is properly train our volunteers, leaders and people in our church and ministry. Proper training comes from leadership having a set action in plan ahead of time and being on the offense and not the defense. What is required to volunteer in your church or ministry?

We have two mandatory resources that help fight against church division and disunity and are required reading for our ministry volunteers. 

The Bait of Satan by John Bevere is a great book on the spirit of offense. It identifies offense and helps you heal from offense. I can still remember a time someone suggested it to us while we were in a church conflict. We had never heard of the book or study that comes with it, and my husband's small group did a study on it that changed our lives.

We now recommend it to everyone as preventative measures and not defensive measures. It is required reading within the first three months of being in our ministry having a desire to serve.

I have found that Perry Stone's book The Judas Goat is another great book and a must-have for all ministries. This book on betrayal exposes the enemy's tactics of how people can come in and destroy the church. It makes the reader aware and educated on relationships and how to protect what God has given you.

I strongly suggest again that all leaders read this as preventative measures to church conflict. There are also benefits in this book for people who have been hurt from the church in discovering what went wrong and how to prevent such things from happening again.

As leaders of the church we need to be responsible for the hurt that is going on in our churches. If we can provide our congregation and volunteers with reasonable guidelines and suggestions on how to prevent hurt, than it certainly is our responsibility.

Ultimately, we need to teach forgiveness and we need to model love. The latter truly covers a multitude of sins. When we extend love to each other, healing begins.

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a ministry releasing the love and power of God.  She is a prophetic deliverance minister who travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours.  Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people.  For more information visit degrawministries.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Kathy DeGraw ) Featured Spiritual Warfare Spirit Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Will Your Church Rehire the Holy Spirit? http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23867-will-your-church-rehire-the-holy-spirit http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/power-up/23867-will-your-church-rehire-the-holy-spirit

For much of my life I felt unqualified as a leader in the kingdom of God. Whether I was working as a youth pastor, an evangelist, a lead pastor, or an author, I have always known that without the help of my closest adviser and guide, I would not make it!

This adviser has been with me my whole life. He was with me as a boy when I was lost in a ruthless world. He was with me when I heard the call of God at a children's camp during a puppet show where I was a sixteen-year-old camp worker. He was with me when I was running from God. In fact, He drove me crazy. It seemed in every direction I went, He was waiting for me.

He was with me when I met my wife. He was with me when I held my son and my daughter for the first time. I have shared so many memories with this dear friend. He has guided me as a husband, father, son, pastor, and evangelist. Whether it was when I lost my sister or held my first book in my hands, He was there.

I, of course, speak of the Holy Spirit.

Recently while praying, I heard God say to me, "Son, why is the church ashamed of My Spirit? Why has My Spirit been fired from most churches? Do they not realize that they cannot do true ministry without Me?"

As I prayed, I began to ponder what the Lord had asked. For years I have cried out for revival to hit America. I believe that revival happens when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows up. I believe it also happens when the church cries out for intervention from above because it doesn't want to continue through the doorway of mediocrity and often-plagiarized self-help sermonettes with no power.

This generation wants to see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual leaders of today act as if they have out-grown the move of God. To decide that this generation is not worthy of the same supernatural encounter you once had as a youth means the death of tomorrow's church.

To decide that we must keep the passionate in the back rooms and back rows of churches means a slow death. We must not relegate the moves of God to retreats, encounters and youth services. It will be the undignified who awaken the unqualified.

We have become so adept at watering down the blood of Jesus in our messages that it now represents a pink slip for the firing of the Holy Spirit. He has been fired from many churches and places of worship and ostracized as too intrusive and too disruptive. Maybe He is forced to fly under the radar, living in the gymnasiums of youth services, the Bible studies of homes, and encounter weekends twice a year, because He has caused more upheaval than any person in history.

Listen to me, unqualified. You will never accomplish anything without the power of the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and let the intellectual and spiritually dry theologians of the day lead with their man-driven knowledge, but you and I must be inhabited by the third Person of the Trinity. God is moving through those of us who still allow Him to be God! For those who do not believe in the anointing at work in our lives, I need only to point to this verse:

"Little children, it is the last hour. As you have heard that the antichrist will come, even now there are many antichrists. By this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us.  But they went out, revealing that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things" (1 John 2:18-20, MEV).

I believe there are many who are more impressed with the aesthetics of the church than the anointing in the church. We often put more importance on the lighting, stage set, and sound than we do on crying out for an encounter with God. But great programs, warm bodies, and full offering buckets have never transformed the hurting. It is the Holy Spirit who does the work.

I will close with a final question for the unqualified. Is it possible to do what you are called to do without the habitation and partnership of the Holy Spirit in your life? I think the answer is a resounding "no." I challenge the church to hire the Holy Spirit back.

What do we have to lose? Everything!

UnqualifiedAdapted from Unqualified by Pat Schatzlane, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. This book is a must-read for those who feel unqualified to be used by God. You will learn the truth about God's plan to use every submitted person. To order your copy click here.

Prayer Power for the Week of July 27, 2015

This week, as you recognize that you can't accomplish anything without the power of the Holy Spirit, thank Him that He is ever present and willing to connect with you and those around you. Yield yourself anew and allow Him to work through you to accomplish His purposes. Be sure to give Him the glory when He does. Continue to pray for a global outpouring of His Spirit, more laborers into His harvest fields, and more grace for the persecuted church. Remember those in authority over you and heed His admonition to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (1 John 2:18-20).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Pat Schatzlane) Featured Power Up! Blogs Sun, 26 Jul 2015 22:00:00 -0400
3 Ways God May Be Speaking to You Right Now http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23907-3-ways-god-may-be-speaking-to-you-right-now http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23907-3-ways-god-may-be-speaking-to-you-right-now

Faith hears into the realm of the supernatural. A well-trained spiritual ear will hear and know the voice of the Lord. Jesus says in John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." Notice He says that His sheep, not the lambs, hear His voice and follow Him.

What is the difference between sheep and lambs? Maturity. And it is mature faith that hears and recognizes the voice of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, and will follow Him.

Spiritually speaking, maturity doesn't necessarily come with time or age. There are many in Christ who have been redeemed for many years, but yet they can only handle the milk and not the meat of the Word. They have to be bottle-fed, and are unable or unwilling to feed their own faith. Why? Carnality.  Unless we die to our sinful nature and selfish desires we cannot develop spiritually, and our spiritual senses, such as our ability to hear His voice, are stunted.

There are several ways that we hear the Lord speak to us.

  1. Through His Word.

  2. Through the inner voice.

  3. Through an audible voice.

When we move out of religious duty and into actual relationship with the Lord, He will communicate with us while we fellowship with Him in His Word. It says in Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

The inner voice is another way the Spirit speaks with us and is found in Isaiah 30:21: "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." This is one of the more common ways that He speaks to us.

I was traveling with a friend on a train in a foreign country and as we were chatting I heard the Lord say to me through the inner voice, "The man sitting across from you is following you." My friend was unaware what the Lord has just spoken to me. As she continued to speak, I looked up and sure enough this man had been following us.

He also will speak to us at times with an audible voice as He spoke to Moses in the burning bush (see Ex. 3:4). On different occasions the Lord has awakened me from my sleep by audibly whispering my name, "Becky." I can physically feel the breath of His voice in my ear, giving me clear instruction on what I am to do at that moment or revealing to me in the supernatural realm things that are taking place.

In 1 Samuel 3 we read about a young boy named Samuel who ca hear a voice calling out to him, but he does not recognize the voice speaking to him. It takes the maturity of Eli to teach him who is calling out to him and how to respond to the voice of the Lord.

It is of utmost importance that we train our spiritual ears to hear and recognize the voice of the Lord. To do so we must know the Word of God. The more we know the Word, the more we understand Him and His ways and we can protect ourselves from voices that would mislead us. The Lord will never compromise His Word. This is important when we learn to recognize His voice. Jesus says in Matthew 13:9, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

There are three sources of voice that could possibly speak to our spiritual ears.

  1. The voice of God
  2. The voice of Satan
  3. The voice of human reasoning

The voice of God is always honorable and faithful to the Word of God. It releases freedom to the hearer and never compromises the Word. In Hebrews 4:12 it says, "For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart." In John 8:32 Jesus says, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

The voice of Satan is deceiving; it twists the Word of God just enough to make it sound appealing and accepting to the human flesh. In John 8:44b Jesus says concerning Satan: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

The voice of our human reasoning is based upon our five senses and our emotions and is limited to human intellect. It says in Proverbs 28:26a, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered."

A mature spiritual ear hears and knows the voice of our Lord; it protects us from misguiding voices and is trained to follow after the will of the Spirit of God in all situations.

To learn more about the senses of our faith read my book Greater Than Magic.

Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. You can find her at her website, authorbeckydvorak.com.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Becky Dvorak) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Why Is Pop Star Miley Cyrus Rejecting Her Christian Roots? http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23861-why-is-pop-star-miley-cyrus-rejecting-her-christian-roots http://www.charismamag.com/entertainment/music/23861-why-is-pop-star-miley-cyrus-rejecting-her-christian-roots

Dear Miley Cyrus,

You're blunt, you speak your mind and you yell about what you supposedly believe, that is, if you haven't also outgrown believing in anything the way that you have "outgrown" the Bible. I'm a 21-year-old woman, and I grew up with Hannah Montana. There was an entire generation of girls who wore your face on their T-shirts, sang your songs and played with dolls that were made to look like you. Girls looked up to you; girls emulated you; girls supported you. When your "Can't Be Tamed" music video premiered, the public exploded saying, "It's too vulgar." "She's too young," they protested. Even I remember trying to defend you to my parents, to stand up for you. You were just growing up. You were trying to break out of the Disney mold.

Recently, your article for Paper magazine was released, along with a set of extremely revealing photos of you. It seems that every time you want to gain more attention you wear less clothing. However, the pictures are not the most shocking part of the magazine spread. In reading the interview that you did for the magazine, I have to admit that I was shocked, extremely offended and a little bit hurt by the things that you said.

In the beginning of the interview, you talk about being an animal activist, which, as an animal lover, I can very much respect. Then, somehow the interview transitions very quickly to bashing beliefs that are very important and sacred to me and many other people around the world. Calling the story of Noah's Ark a fairytale is not only extremely offensive, it's also frankly untrue. Maybe instead of bashing Noah, you should be thanking him for having the courage to follow God's lead no matter the social backlash that it caused him. Social backlash is something with which you seem to be very familiar. You should understand better than most others how difficult it can be to withstand. Maybe instead of condemning people for believing in Noah, you should be commending them for standing up for what they believe.

In the article, you are quoted saying you're "the least judgmental person ever." Somehow, after reading the interview preceding this quote, that feeling does not resonate true. I do feel judged by you. You called everyone who believes in the Bible immature children who still believe in Santa Claus.

I think that I need to tell you what possibly many other Christians have not told you before, and that's that you are loved. You may no longer believe in God or the things written in the Bible, but that doesn't make them untrue. God still loves you no matter what you say about Him. That's the incredible thing about Him. You may have given up on Him, but He'll never give up on you. I want to personally apologize to you for anyone who may have told you differently, but please believe me when I say that God will never stop loving you. It hurts my heart to know that you may never know what it is to truly experience that love from God which triumphs any other kind of love that you try to experience through what you call expression and love.

My prayer for you in the future is that you find the true love that can only come from turning back to the faith your parents taught you when you were young. I hope that you truly believe me when I say I will be praying for you, and I hope that other Christians will be also. I know what it is to feel empty and to find your worth in how many people know your name, but I also know what it is to find your identity and security in the words that are written in that book that you compared to fairytales. Miley, the only way that the Bible compares to a fairytale is that when you truly understand the words written within it, you can't help but feel like a princess. That is a desire that no woman outgrows.

This article originally appeared on movieguide.orgWant to know what God's doing in Hollywood?

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Moriah Dee/MovieGuide) Featured Music The Buzz Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
You're Invited to Help 'Charisma' Celebrate A Huge Milestone http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23905-you-re-invited-to-help-charisma-celebrate-a-huge-milestone http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-strang-report/23905-you-re-invited-to-help-charisma-celebrate-a-huge-milestone

The August 2015 issue of Charisma just came off the press and we're excited about it. A new issue has come out more than 400 times. We get excited about each one every month. But this one is extra special: It's our 40th anniversary!

It's the biggest issue we've had in years, and one of the nicest we have ever produced. If you subscribe, you'll get it in the mail in about a week.

We wrote about 40 leaders "who radically changed our world." They were people we wrote about in the last 40 years—many but not all appeared on the cover. We will feature at least one a day during the month of August. Because we've decided to celebrate Charisma's anniversary all month long, I need your help.

We have some exciting things planned for each day, such as a daily giveaway of 40 gifts to those who register. We will also have video greetings from leaders you know commenting about Charisma, or what the Lord has been doing the past four decades or just telling interesting stories about their experience with the magazine.

I intend to focus on one decade each week, trying to give perspective on trends in the church and culture that we've covered. But I don't want it to just be a history lesson. I want to write about what's interesting to you. For example, we've had more than 430 different covers. What interest is there in putting all those covers online?

Friday morning I recorded my weekly Strang Report podcast (I hope you'll sign up if you haven't already). I invited my listeners to email me with their ideas. (We also put this on Periscope, a form of social media I recently discovered). I told my listeners to send me their ideas, and we created an email account, anniversary@charismamedia.com, where you can write me directly. I'll see every email that comes in.

To create a little interest, I'll give a new large print version of the Modern English Version to the person who sends me the 40th email. We'll email the winner so you can send us a mailing address.

When you write, you can also tell me your own stories of Charisma and what the magazine means to you. This is my way to make this an interactive process as my staff and I complete our plans for this special issue online.

The events will be on charismamag.com, which presently has more than 1.4 million unique visitors a month. This is in addition to the several million that come to our other websites, such as charismanews.com, ministrytodaymag.com and so forth. I hope that friends like you, through our use of social media, can create a lot of interest in this special anniversary month.

Everything will culminate with a special reception at our headquarters in Lake Mary, Florida, just outside Orlando. We expect a few friends from the area to drop by for this reception. But I'm curious how many from outside Central Florida would be interested in visiting our headquarters that day and joining this special celebration.

I won't tell you now which 40 people we featured in Charisma this month, nor will I go in to the other articles we ran on upcoming leaders who are younger than 40. In the print issue, you can also read thoughts from Lee Grady and Jack Hayford about what we can expect in the future. You can read that in our print issue. Yet day by day we'll publish online the articles from the magazine, plus new material.

And remember, your input will help us decide what goes up online. Remember, please send me your ideas at anniversary@charismamedia.com.

Steve Strang is the CEO and founder of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook (stephenestrang).

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Steve Strang ) Featured The Strang Report Blogs Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:30:00 -0400
How to Write a Letter to Your Daughter She Will Never Forget http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23862-how-to-write-a-letter-to-your-daughter-she-will-never-forget http://www.charismamag.com/life/men/23862-how-to-write-a-letter-to-your-daughter-she-will-never-forget

One of the greatest gifts you can give your daughter is to affirm her through writing. In a world where written communication is most often casual (texts, emails, tweets), a letter in your own handwriting stands out.

I'll never forget when Abba Project dad Dennis surprisingly noticed that his 13-year-old daughter Olivia not only kept the letter he wrote her but placed it on top of her desk for her friends to see. He had completely expected her to be embarrassed by his card and hide it, especially from her peers. So, as you can imagine, his heart melted when he saw the positive impact his written words had made.

The beauty of putting your thoughts, dreams, love, truth and feelings for your daughter into written form is so that she can read and reread it. She will treasure the things you write to her both now and for years to come.

How do I know this? Because I and many other girls have saved our dad's notes.

I'll tell you a heart story to bring this to light. My dad started a tradition a number of years ago where he creates a one-of-a-kind birthday card for all of us girls by using a template on his computer (you can do the same thing by going online and doing some exploring). Without a doubt, my all-time favorite card is the one he made for my 50th birthday. He made a list of 50 things he and my mom love about me and number 33 is the one that melted my heart:   

I laughed uproariously when reading that because I had no idea he'd remembered such a seemingly insignificant thing that I'd said. But it showed me that he had listened when I said I absolutely love the sound that the choir of frogs make twice a year at the end of my street. It's music to my ears. And he counted it among the things he loves about me.

I share all of this to say that whether or not you're artistic or creative, just the fact that you notice and bring to light the unique things about your daughter, things you find adorable, enjoyable and memorable, you are providing a pathway to her heart that will be a treasure to her forever.

If you're a dad who has already begun this practice, then great.

Yet whether or not you've written letters before, here are a few dad-to-daughter letter-writing ideas to add to your repertoire:

  • What was one of the first things you remember about her when she was born and you looked at her for the first time?
  • What beauty did you see in her then and what beautiful features do you see in her now? (Girls love hearing about their eyes, smile and the unique features that you see as beautiful)
  • Write about a favorite childhood memory you have of her.
  • What strengths do you believe she has, both in terms of skill and in her person (her character, personality).
  • Tell her specific reasons you're proud of her.
  • Write about what obstacles you have seen her overcome—emphasize such qualities as courage, resilience, strength, commitment, endurance, power.
  • Write about dreams you have for her future, whether in the form of your wishes for her or things you pray about for her—do this without preaching or lecturing, only encourage.
  • Tell her what it means to you to spend time with her.
  • Communicate why you love being her dad in this season of her life (add current things about her age right now that you're aware of and highlight them as positive)
  • Let her know that you will always be there for her, telling her what it means to you to be her dad.

If writing is not your thing, still do it (I know ... I'm being a tough teacher right now). I promise that your daughter will thrive in direct proportion to the words you speak (verbal and written) into her life. 

And the more you hone your writing skills, the easier it will become. 

On your mark, get set, write.

 

Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon, and has served in that role for the past 17 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and has recently released her first book entitled, Dad, Here's What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter's Heart. She invites you to visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs, where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.

For the original article, visit drmichellewatson.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Michelle Watson) Featured Men Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
5 Health-Changing Reasons to Focus on the Positive http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23901-5-health-changing-reasons-to-focus-on-the-positive http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/23901-5-health-changing-reasons-to-focus-on-the-positive

You'd have to be living under a rock not to notice how the world seems to be spinning out of control politically, economically, spiritually and even meteorologically.

From escalating acts of terrorism around the world to unprecedented weather patterns above it, students of Scripture are watching as Jesus' prophetic words unfold into reality:

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. "Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake" (Matt. 24:7-9, MEV).

In a previous article, I wrote about five ways in which fear damages our health. For example, fear can weaken your heart and your immune system, as well as lead to depression. Focusing on the chaos swirling around us and fretting about the future can easily breed health-threatening fear.

We quickly become blinded to the astounding work of the Holy Spirit, deaf to His call for us to join Him in the harvest, and insensitive to the impact He is having on the hearts of millions. The bad news makes the Good News seems distant and detached from the crises we face today.

As I was reading in Proverbs this week, I sensed God speaking to me regarding my own fixation on the ever-sensationalized news and disheartening current events that compose a vast amount of the media I see each day. Chapter 15, verse 30 reads:

"The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy" (Prov. 15:30, MEV).

If good news equates to good health, then to what does bad news equate? I know that for me personally, it equates to fear, which as I mentioned earlier, can wreak havoc on our bodies.

Before I write any further, I want to clarify that just as I don't believe it's necessary or even correct to ban my clients from ever eating cupcakes or cheeseburgers, I similarly am not suggesting that we swear off tuning into the nightly news or averting our gaze from heart-rending headlines. (Being informed enables us to pray more specifically, which is one reason we shouldn't bury our heads in the sand.) I simply wish to point out what God's Word has to say about thinking on the positive, or in Paul's terms, on what is "pure" and "lovely" and "of good report." 

In these last days, we must not let the enemy pollute our minds and stifle our spirits by stealing our joy. There is much to look forward to and much beauty and goodness to share and experience as we endure until Christ's Kingdom comes.

Here are a few reasons why we should make a concerted effort to focus on the positive, not just for the sake of our emotional health, but our physical health as well:

1. Improves longevity. In a study of nearly 1,500 people with an increased risk of early-onset coronary artery disease, those who reported being cheerful and relaxed had a one-third reduction in coronary events like a heart attack. Those with the highest risk of coronary events enjoyed an even greater risk reduction of nearly 50 percent. This was true even when other heart disease risk factors, such as smoking, age and diabetes, were taken into account.

2. Improves cell immune function. Clicking away from the talking heads to a few laughing ones will do more than make you chuckle—it will make you healthier! Humor improves immune cell function, helps you ward off illness, decreases your chances of cancer, and also increases your chance of living after heart disease hits. There is power in a good "LOL!" Of course, it's best to ward off heart disease before it occurs by eating healthy, managing your stress, and exercising regularly.

3. Reduces frequency of colds and the flu. Psychology Professor Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University, found that optimistic people are less likely to get more mundane, day-to-day illnesses (like a cold), and even when they do they are less likely to report symptoms.  Essentially, "happy" emotions like optimism and self-esteem send signals from the brain to your body's organs, strengthening immunity.

4. Boosts motivation. When you look for the silver lining behind every cloud and choose to remind yourself of the Good News' power of the ubiquitous bad, you will naturally feel more motivated to form healthy habits that will enable you to lead a fulfilled life, such as eating nutritious foods, exercising daily, reading and listening to enriching material, spending quality time with loved ones, and lending a helping hand to total strangers.

On a biological level, being active in particular causes your body to release endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel good—no major athletic ability needed. Endorphins even have the capacity to relieve depression and anxiety. And, when working out makes you happy, you're going to continue to do it, creating a healthy cycle of happiness as you honor the body God's given you.

5. Decreases stress. Did you know that the simple act of smiling has been shown to decrease stress levels? A smile sends a message to your brain that you're happy, which then signals it to pump out feel-good endorphins. When this happens, your breathing and heart rate slows, thereby helping you de-stress. And as an added bonus, smiling is contagious! Studies show that something as simple as seeing a friend smile can activate the muscles in your face to make that same expression, without you even being aware that you are doing it. (Sounds like the yawning phenomenon, doesn't it?)

This week, I challenge you to look on the bright side, to seek out the goodness in the world around you. Take breaks throughout your day to think of and thank God for your blessings, no matter how small they may seem to you.

Smile at a co-worker or a salesclerk who seems to be feeling blue. Read a blog that makes you laugh, or shamelessly watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Go to the park and throw the Frisbee around with your kids. See a Pixar movie with your spouse. Anything that will make you smile will make your soul shine as well.

"A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22, MEV).

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

For the original article, visit dianaandersontyler.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Diana Anderson-Tyler ) Featured Health Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Add Laughter to Your Life http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/23858-5-ways-to-add-laughter-to-your-life http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/23858-5-ways-to-add-laughter-to-your-life

Studies have shown babies and children laugh hundreds of times a day. Adults, on the other hand, often barely make it to double digits. Even joyful people can feel weighed down by the pressures and heartaches of life.

But Jesus said whoever humbles himself like a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4).

Maybe it's time to turn your troubles over to God and become more like a child—full of joy and laughter. Here are five things the Bible says about laughing, along with a few ways to bring out your inner child:

1. Take time to laugh. "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance" (Eccl. 3:1, 4).

If you've been on this planet for more than a few years, you know life isn't one big laugh. It's filled with difficult trials. Even so, the Bible declares there is "a time to laugh." Some ways to incorporate more laughter into your life: Talk to a friend with a good sense of humor, retell a funny story from the past or play a practical joke on a good friend or family member. Need another idea? Spending time around children or pets is typically a surefire way to ramp up the laughter.

Do you find it hard to laugh? Sometimes fear and anxiety can steal your joy. Here are some steps you can take to conquer anxiety and get back to laughing.

2. Share joy. "A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22).

Don't keep joy to yourself. Share the "good medicine" of a joyful heart with others. Have you brought joy or laughter to someone today? If not, think of a way you can make one person laugh. It'll bring joy to both of your hearts.

Michael Jr. is a Christ follower and comedian who has shared his story through BGEA's My Hope project. Check out this 2-minute stand-up segment for a laugh.

3. Lighten Your Load. "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh" (Luke 6:21).

Have you ever been so sad that you thought you'd never laugh again? If you are a follower of Christ, you are blessed to be part of God's kingdom. The God of the universe can bring you comfort and inner peace even as you struggle with a heavy heart.

Being "blessed" is about experiencing hope and joy regardless of circumstances. King David once wrote about it this way: "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness" (Ps. 30:11). Feeling burdened today? Ask God to lighten your load.

Did Jesus ever laugh or was He solemn all the time? Billy Graham's Answer.

4. Savor surprises—and don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. "And Sarah said, 'God has made me laugh. All who hear will laugh with me.' Also she said, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age'" (Gen. 21:6-7).

Abraham's wife, Sarah, waited 90 years to become a mother. Thinking there was no way she could provide a family heir herself, she was downright dumbfounded when told she would have a son. She had to laugh out of pure joy. Think of a time when you were pleasantly surprised by God's timing.

5. Expect great things. "Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. 'The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad" (Ps. 126:2).

When God led His people out of captivity and brought them back to their homeland, they were so relieved and thankful that they laughed and shouted for joy. After spending 70 years as captives, one of the first things they did was build an altar and worship God.

It can be easy to dwell on things that aren't going your way, but remember the verse above—God does do great things. Keep an eye out this week for the great things He is doing in your life, then take a moment to thank Him for it.

Billy Graham has spent decades preaching about our serious need for Christ, but he also has a lighthearted side. Read 10 funny stories from his 6-plus decades in ministry.

True joy begins with knowing the God who created you. Find peace with God today.

For the original article, visit billygraham.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) Featured Relationships Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Does the Holy Spirit Feel Welcomed in Your Temple? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23904-does-the-holy-spirit-feel-welcomed-in-your-temple http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23904-does-the-holy-spirit-feel-welcomed-in-your-temple

Recently I was asked to speak about the spiritual aspects of weight management and found myself remembering a very difficult season in my life when I was in a pit of unhealthy body issues.  The whole topic made me uncomfortable.

It's not easy for me to reflect on that time.  However, the truth is, God lifted me out of the slime and demonstrated to me how my flesh, bones, blood, and organs were created in wonder. I am a wonderfully and fearfully made temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do You Think of Your Body as a Wonderful Place for the Spirit to Dwell?

Glancing at new research on this issue, I discovered how 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at sometime in their lives.  For many reasons, people struggle with body dissatisfaction.  By age six, girls can start to express concern about their bodies.  This breaks my heart.

Here's a brief story of how God rescued me.

When I was 21-years-old, a senior in college, I realized I had an issue with eating.  From all appearances, I was a successful student, I was in good physical shape (I even taught aerobics), my friendships were strong and I was working to help pay for school.  To deal with the stress, I started to restrict myself from certain foods.  Something was wrong, though, as I knew I was restricting myself from something deeper.

What was I truly restricting myself from?  

I remember the day I was in our little apartment standing in the kitchen when I devoured a pan of cinnamon rolls in minutes.  It happened before I even knew it.  As I looked up from the dark pit, I asked God, "Why did I just do that?" Soon after, I heard, "It's an intimacy issue. Your goal is to enjoy me forever and not fill up on anything else."  (Don't think sexual intimacy here - think emotional connection).

It didn't take me long to let my closest women friends in on my struggle. Just telling them, brought both my hands out to the edges of the pit.

What was I so hungry for?

The preacher in Ecclesiastes 2:11 says, "When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless  . . ." Several verses later he concludes that a woman or a man can do nothing better than "to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or drink or find enjoyment?" (24-25).

I was hungry for satisfaction and here's what I learned through the years about enjoying God through seeing my body as a wonder of His creation:

  • Body care or weight management is a daily craft: a little bit everyday is enough

  • Body care is not just physical: Psalm 139 says we were knit together and fearfully made

  • Body care is meaningful: it's wise to please God by feeding ourselves with plenty of healthy foods

  • Body care is not about being in control but practicing self-control

  • Body care is not about conforming but being transformed

How are you encouraging the younger women around you to see their bodies as a wonder of creation? Be sure of this: they are watching you. I'm asking myself this as I spend my hours with three teenage daughters.

Let's share our lessons with one another in transparency and awe of God's creation. Not much in our social media culture encourages us to enjoy God by loving, as opposed to worshiping, the bodies he gave us.  Body care and weight management is an art and a skill that can be meaningful as we accept that they are temples of the Holy Spirit—created in wonder for his Spirit of Wonder.

Pam Havey Lau is the author of Soul Strength and numerous articles for Fullfill magazine and Christianity Today's Her.meneutics.  She teaches communications at George Fox University. Her latest book release is A Friend in Me: How to be A Safe Haven for Other Women. Visit www.pamelalau.com to learn more about Lau.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Pam Havey Lau) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Are You Asking God the Right Questions? http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23902-are-you-asking-god-the-right-questions http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/23902-are-you-asking-god-the-right-questions

"The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14, MSG). Do you realize who this is talking about? Who is the Word? And what neighborhood has He moved into?

"Everything was created through Him; nothing—not one thing—came into being without Him" (John 1:3, MSG). "The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word" (John 1:1-2, MSG).

It sounds like some kind of riddle. Of course we know who the Word was, it tells us that "the Word was God" (John 1:1-2, MSG). 

Who is the Word?

Why not just go ahead and say the Word is Jesus? What's the reason for all of the riddles and mysteries? To the readers of the day in which John wrote the gospel, using "word" or "logos" to refer to Jesus would have brought forth the Greek meaning of a mediating principle between God and the world. Jewish readers would understand the "word" of God as an instrument for the execution of God's will.

"By the word of the Lord the heavens were made made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth" Psalm 33:6, NIV). "He sent out His word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave" Ps. 107:20, NIV). Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens" (Ps. 119:89, NIV).

What John was doing by using the actual word "logos" or "word"  to describe Jesus was to say this personal being was a mediator between God and man, fully God, fully human and fully on our side.

The Word with Skin

The news that the Word put skin on and moved into where individuals live was an earth-shattering, world-changing revelation. John was trying to explain the unique, extraordinary existence of a human being such as we have never before seen on earth.

His proclamation would fall on deaf ears of those who had no interest in understanding. Ah, but to those who wanted to listen, He Himself was, and is life.

"What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out" (John 1:4, MSG).

Radical Message

Of course, the whole reason John was writing His epistle was to share with people how to move from death to life" (see John 3:16). It was a radical message for its time.

He quoted Jesus as telling the Jewish leaders "you have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all all about Me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from Me the life you say you want" (John 5:39-40, MSG).

The Living Word

All along they were missing the most important thing:  Jesus, the Word, was living among them. He had the power to teach them how to live in relationship with God. He was Truth (see John 14:6) standing right in front of them, but they were too blind to reach out and ask Him real questions that mattered. They were too busy trying to catch Him doing something wrong when all He was doing was offering life.

It's why He moved into our meager existence. Only one like us could show us the way out. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We only need follow Him in our everyday lives to find the way out.

Like the Jewish Leaders

It's interesting to me that we have become so like the Jewish leaders of old. We ask Jesus questions like, Why couldn't you stop that war? Why did my grandmother have to die? Couldn't you fix it so there would be no natural disasters? We actually demand Him to do things like, Give me a job. Get me a bigger house. Make me lose weight.

And all the time Jesus is telling us things like, "My desire is to give you everything in abundance more than you expect‑life in its fullness until you overflow" (John 10:10, TPT). Yet, we still question the hardships we feel we have to endure in life.

Turn on the Light

You want more from Life? Turn on the Light. Follow His words. Do what He shows you to do from His Word. Follow the life He led. It would be nearly impossible to be as outspoken as Jesus was and not be killed. He knew what He was doing. He knew men hated His words of life, because darkness cannot stand the Light. The Light kills darkness.

Yes, but that's the beautiful quality of the Light. No matter what Light always wins. Always.

I don't know about you, but I'm eternally grateful that the Light moved into my neighborhood, rearranged things, cleaned up and shined truth into the dark, dusty corners where lies like to hide. I am grateful that each day He illuminates my life even more.

And all I have to do is flip the switch.

Teresa Shields Parker is an author, speaker and coach. Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching and Accountability Group provides support, encouragement, weekly videos, action steps and an online group for those wanting to be intentional about their weight loss efforts. Click the title to take you to the information page for Sweet Change.

Her new book, Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation, published Dec. 2014 is now the #1 Christian weight loss memoir on Amazon, shares the stories of 17 individuals on the weight loss journey and includes much information from Teresa. Download a free chapter HERE.

In her first book, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds, she shares transparently and openly about the challenges of losing an extreme amount of weight. Sweet Grace Study Guide gives practical tips on weight loss.

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ldhaywood@gmail.com (Teresa Shields Parker) Featured Women Life Fri, 24 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
How to Overcome Doubt and Live With Bold Faith http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23896-overcome-doubt-and-live-with-bold-faith-how http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/23896-overcome-doubt-and-live-with-bold-faith-how

In Acts 27, there's a great story about the apostle Paul. He was travelling by ship with some people when "a tempestuous wind swept through, called the Euroclydon" (v. 14).

For days they were caught in the storm, and at one point it was so fierce, they were "violently tossed by the storm" (v. 18) and had to throw the ship's equipment overboard. They ended up without food, hungry, stranded—seemingly without hope.

In that moment, Paul stood in the midst of the survivors and said to them, "I beg you to be in good spirits and take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you ..." (v. 22). He then shared that an angel of God told him this, and said in verse 25, "So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me."

How could Paul, in the middle of a horrible storm, ask the people to "take courage" and have a good attitude? Because he believed in his heart—without a doubt—"that it will be exactly as it was told me" (vv. 22, 25). I love that! It's a great picture of the power of faith in God when all hope seems lost. And we can have the very same faith that Paul had if we will overcome doubt.

We all face storms in life. Some are more difficult than others, but we all go through trials and tribulation. That's why we have the gift of faith. Ephesians 6:16 calls it "the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the evil one." Doubt is a type of "flaming arrow" that the enemy uses to attack our faith.

We usually experience doubt after we've made a decision. In James 1:6, the Bible says having doubt is like being tossed about like the wind, which feels like you're trying to go in two different directions at the same time. And it's miserable to be torn between two places, not able to decide what you really believe. It's in those moments we have to choose whether we are going to believe God or the enemy ... God or our feelings ... God or what people tell us ... God or our circumstances.

When doubt comes against us, we have to lift up the shield of faith. We do this when we open our mouth and say what God's Word says, rather than grumbling and complaining about the problem. Our faith is released as we say, pray and do the Word. So in those times, open your mouth and say, "I believe that everything God has told me will come to pass!"

Maybe you're doubting whether you can hear God's voice or not. This happens because we usually doubt ourselves more than we doubt God. Now I'm not talking about actually hearing a voice; I'm talking about that knowing we have inside our hearts about what is right or wrong. That's the still, small voice of God. Believers in Jesus Christ all have it, but many don't have the confidence to trust it.

The Bible says in James 1:5 that when we need wisdom, we can go to God, ask Him for it, and He will give it to us "liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding." What this means is that even with our imperfections, God will be faithful to us and give us what we need if we will ask Him for help. He loves us, blesses us and uses us in spite of us, because He is faithful! And we never have to doubt that.

I've learned through my own relationship with God that He's not expecting me to be perfect; He wants me to do my best to be in His will and take steps of faith as He leads me, through His Word and the promptings He speaks to my heart. Remember, He wants us to put our confidence in Him. God really does want to speak to you personally and lead you in His great plan for your life. So don't be afraid to step out and do what's in your heart. If you make a mistake, you'll learn from it and go on. That's how we "step out and find out." And we all have to do it.

I want to encourage you to begin making confessions every day that will help you grow in your faith and confidence in God. We need to make declarations like: "God loves me. He wants to speak to my heart. I can hear from God. He is faithful to me and will lead me in His will for my life. And I believe it will be exactly as God has told me!" By God's grace, we can be bold in faith and overcome every attack of doubt during the storms of life.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Joyce Meyer ) Featured Straight Talk Blogs Fri, 24 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Prophecy: The Apostolic Mantle Is Coming on First Nations People http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23895-prophecy-the-apostolic-mantle-is-coming-on-first-nations-people http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/23895-prophecy-the-apostolic-mantle-is-coming-on-first-nations-people

In the Bible "firsts" are always sanctified or set apart by God. The Bible begins in Genesis, the book of beginnings or "firsts" of things, and then throughout His Word "firsts" continue to hold a special place with God.

The firstborn is blessed, first fruits are desired and first love is the term God uses to describe man's relationship with Him. It was during my recent trip to the Southwest that God showed me how much He honored "firsts" with His love for the First Nations people in America.

I was enjoying a great time of ministry in Arizona with my wife and son. We had taken some down time to relax and take in the sites. During our travels in the state, I shot some footage in Sedona and really felt a strong stirring in my spirit about the Father's prophetic plans for that part of the country. 

Traveling across the state to take in some canyon views, we pulled into a park that hosted several craft stands with Native American jewelry and other items. I walked over and was looking at all the beautiful pieces when something deep inside of me broke loose. It was like a dam releasing a rushing river. I was overtaken with a surge of love and intercession for the Native American people. I had to walk off by myself and begin to pray in the Spirit.

When we left that area what was happening on the inside of me did not leave. We traveled on to Williams, Arizona where I was scheduled to minister. It was during this meeting that we began to pray for the Native American population and First Nations people throughout the world. Again, I experienced a tremendous surge of the Father's love and His dreams for the people who have often been mistreated, misunderstood and overlooked. 

Then the word of the Lord began to burst forth from my belly:

I am sending the apostolic into the Native American population to give the young men and women hope and dreams not from natural men but from the hand of God Himself, the ultimate Father."

The apostolic mandate and mantle is coming upon the Native American lands and the First Nations people. The reservations shall become revival zones. The Lord is raising up revival hubs in Native American lands. He's raising up places of power, apostolic destiny and glorious outpourings. I see Houses of Prayer being established upon the reservations. These are places that will host the presence of God and release intercession. 

I see apostolic mothers and fathers being sent to the land to release dreams, destiny, strategy and apostolic DNA. There is a sending mantle and assignment coming forth in this hour for First Nations people. 

This word bubbled up out of my spirit with such passion that it was evident God was speaking and proclaiming His love for these people. I had not studied or had much exposure to the Native Americans, nor heard much about First Nations people but this word was connecting me to these people.

Although this word was new to me, it was a validation of what God has been speaking. Jeremy Stands Overbull, pastor of Arrow Creek Christian Center in Pryor, Montana, and founder/director of Crow Awakening writes this ...

"I believe that the Crow Nation is being raised up to play an integral role in what God is going to do with the next great outpouring. It is our belief that America will never walk into the fullness of revival until Native America steps into their rightful place as the host people of this land. We are no strangers to revival. We have had several revival outbreaks that seemed to happen right before a revival in America. As of late, our tribe has been one of the only nations in the world to make public law proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord over the Crow Nation. This law is significant because we have the right to govern our people without having outside influence from the United States Government. We believe this will be important because, as the laws in America will target churches and ministries and try to govern what they say, ministries and churches on native reservations will be able to freely preach a true gospel without threat or interference from the government. We believe there is about to be a shift, with reservations becoming revival outpost pockets throughout the United States." —Jeremy Stands Overbull

I see and hear in the Spirit prophetic sounds coming forth from the reservations and First Nation lands. There is a new breed of Native American warriors and Davidic minstrels coming forth. I see a movement of musicians, intercessors and minstrels arising from the First Nations people. There are sounds that will release the glory of God over the land.

It is a new era in worship in the territory! This is a now moment for worship to arise. There are Davids tucked away in the wilderness with a sound of desperation that will burst forth releasing captives and bringing forth glory.

Dr. Billy Graham was quoted as saying that the greatest moments of Native history lie ahead of us if a great spiritual renewal and awakening should take place. He went on to say that the Native Americans have been a sleeping giant and that the original Americans could become the evangelists who will help win America for Christ! Remember these forgotten people.

This is a call in the Spirit for prayer! God is releasing a burden in the hearts of people to begin to pray for the Native American people and First Nations people around the world. He wants His light to shine forth upon them and within them. I call forth intercession now to partner with heaven's heart towards these precious people. There is a birthing in prayer that will bring forth the fruit of this word.

There is an urgent call in the Spirit for apostolic fathers and mothers to go and sow into the reservations! This is key to what God is saying. It is going to take divine partnership and a tearing down of walls that would try to separate. It is also going to take a strong apostolic thrust. Hear the call, heed the call and go forth! There is a David call for young Native American and First Nation men and women to arise with dreams, vision and unity to give birth to revival hubs minis-tries, houses of prayer and outpouring meetings. The favor of the Lord is coming upon those who will step out and do what Abba is putting in their heart. 

"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongues fail for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them, I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together" (Is. 41:17-19).

Ryan LeStrange has been preaching the gospel for more than half of his life. He is the co-founder of AwakeningTV.com and a leader in the New Breed Revivalist Network. As a young man, God led him to leave his home and travel to Tennessee to study and train under Dr. Norvel Hayes, who later became his spiritual father. Pastor Ryan shares the apostolic call of Dr. Hayes to establish churches, ministries and Bible colleges, and to train leaders in the body of Christ. Ryan hosts a weekly television show on God TV called Power4Today. Ryan is the apostle and leader of Impact International Apostolic Fellowship, a network of churches and ministries around the world with a single vision to birth revival. He has founded two Bible colleges, served as an associate pastor and traveled as an evangelist. Visit him online at ryanlestrange.com, join him on Facebook and on Periscope: @ryanlestrange.

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shawn.akers@charismamedia.com (Ryan LeStrange) Featured Prophetic Insight Blogs Fri, 24 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400